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Video Game / Lost Kingdoms

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The Lost Kingdoms video game duo (also known as Rune in Japan) were the Nintendo Gamecube's answer to the Eastern RPG genre before Paper Mario graced it. They were created by FromSoftware and published by Activision outside of Japan (where they were published by From themselves).

The first game was released in 2002, and focused on Princess Katia of Argywll, whose country is being invaded by a black Fog of Doom infamous for leaving nothing in its wake. Katia's father- the king of Argwll- has left the castle to try and stop the advance of the fog, but has not been seen since. When the castle itself is invaded by the black fog and the monsters that dwell within, Katia takes up a royal artifact called a Runestone, which lets her summon monsters that can fend off the horrors of the fog. She then embarks on her own journey to discover the source of the fog and find her missing father.

Lost Kingdoms II followed a year after the original in the real world, but 200 years have passed in-universe. This time, you play as Tara Grimface, a secluded woman that helps her adoptive father with his group of thieves, the Band of the Scorpion. All she really cherishes in the world is the Runestone she's had ever since she was a young girl and her father for raising her. As she tries to make it out in the world, they get a tip from someone that one of the nearby regions has been mass-producing Runestones, albeit weaker versions, and decide to drop by for a payday. From then on, Tara must save the world from one of the other gods that have been released on Argywll by one of the lesser kingdoms and their greedy king, Leod VIII. They also did what Final Fantasy XII would become known for in pretty much the same style; etching out random battles.


The games were a strange but effective combination of Card Battle Game and real-time combat. You build a deck of monster cards, and can then use these cards in battle to channel the powers of the creature within. Some would simply summon the monster into battle, but others gave you standard RPG effects like special attacks, healing or buffs. New cards could be acquired from treasure chests, upgrading existing cards, buying them off a mysterious merchant or by capturing weakened enemy monsters.


These two games provide examples of:

  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Shavel Passage in 1 is a more medieval take on the trope. It's large enough to house a swarm of Flayer Spawn and its progenitor, a Mind Flayer.
  • Action Commands: Summoned monsters in the second game have two attacks you can select from.
  • Adults Are Useless: In the first game professional soldiers are constantly being slaughtered by monsters and the only one who can effectively fight back is a teenaged princess.
  • Animated Armor: The Ghost Armors and Chaos Knights naturally.
  • Anti-Grinding: While you can abort a mission to grind out experience for cards in 1, Katia can't get experience at all. Without progressing through the story, her health and magic stone capacity won't increase.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • The God of Destruction. Reduces everyone on the screen to 1HP, including you. Averted in the sequel where now it only affects Fire, Wood, Earth and Water monsters, and is rather expensive.
    • The Blue Dragon in 2 got nerfed pretty badly. You either cough up your entire hand to fully heal yourself, or drop your health to 1 to recover all of your cards. Either effect is too prohibitive given its cost and affinity level.
    • Ghost Armors and Chaos Knights. Badass looking Dullahans that ignore defenses, but are horribly slow.
    • The Master, one of the hardest cards in the game to obtain, is nigh useless. His first ability can discard cards in your deck and his second ability makes it function as a capture card, meaning if you use it, you'll lose your copy of The Master.
  • Backtracking: Averted in the first game, where after clearing a stage, it's locked off until the end of the game. Played straight in 2, where Transform cards add a level of Metroidvania to the mix.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Katia and Tara's outfits both do this.
  • BFS: In 2, both Sol and the Jade Giant have one that a long as they are tall, and both weild it with one hand.
  • Bleak Level: The burial grounds and the final level.
  • Bonus Dungeon: Plenty to go around, the Proving Grounds in 2 being a more traditional version of this trope in action.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • Basilisks have a small chance of petrification and can cancel each other out, which can prove lethal against Runestone Masters.
    • Any card that can pierce defenses, such as the Mandragora and the Flying Ray, thanks to being dependable damage even with weaker cards. The most notable example of this is the Banshee. It can make the bread and butter of any deck, with a cheap cost, low level, great damage, ignores defense, and the ability to turn killing blows into EXP, allowing you to easily make copies of not only them, but other cards in your deck.
    • Card combos. They can't be Z-charged, but don't have level requirements and tend to have powerful effect. Most notably Time Stop, which nothing is immune to.
    • Flayer Spawn. The range and damage is subpar, but it only costs 1 magic stone and has a good chance to one off mech monsters.
    • Any Decoy card, especially Decoy Pillar. They don't do much except keep monsters away from you.
  • Cast from Hit Points once you run out of Magic Stones. The first game stopped at 1HP, leading to yet another Game-Breaker.
  • Character Level: Unlike 2, the first game has you level up at story-related points (after each rune stone was recovered).
  • Charged Attack: The Valkyrie's second attack gets stronger for every card that gets discarded while it's in your hand.
  • Combination Attack: Card combos. While unhinted at in 1 and only a few, 2 expands on the concept greatly.
  • Counter-Attack: Crystal Magic in the second game.
  • Critical Existence Failure: This is averted by the two heroines.
    • In the first game, the protagonist loses some movement speed on the map at low health.
    • In the second game, the protagonist loses movement speed in several stages as she is damaged. She is eventually reduced to effectively hopping off of one foot to travel.
  • Cursed with Awesome:
    • The Berserker's attacking anyone is actually a benefit more than a penalty due to inability to command independents. The willingness to chase Tara makes them very easy to lead to the correct target (as soon as Tara is even the smallest unit further from it than the nearest enemy, Tara is ignored entirely, and Tara is quite a bit faster) and can always be dismissed if they threaten any allies (While you need to pay summon cost again to continue their lifespan, it's pretty low for its power). Combined with their high rate of fire for its attack (which is still better than otherwise comparable cards), and it's quite the useful card.
    • The Master Berserker causes everything to attack anyone. This makes Weapon cards hurt you, but causes enemies to tear themselves apart and leave you alone.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max: The opening cutscene in 2 makes you think "Holy crap she's not to be messed around with". Several of the cards she uses are ones that she doesn't have.
  • Dance Battler: Several cards, most notable the Mandra Dancer.
  • Deadly Gas: Hydra (although in the first game, it just made the screen flash green) and Zombie Dragon.
  • Death Cry Echo: Quite a few cards have sound attacks that pierce defense, the Mandragoras, the Flying Ray and the Banshee being the most prominent.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Death just kicks you back to the world map as if you aborted the mission. You don't even lose anything, even exp.
  • Desperation Attack: The Jack-O-Lantern card has a cheap, yet powerful piercing attack that cuts your HP in half, leading most people to wait until their HP is minimal until they use it.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Both games, and you can catch one of them!
  • Difficult, but Awesome:
    • The Mechapult card in the 2nd game has an annoyingly specific range, with a very small window between its minimum and maximum. However, when used against foes that don't move fast (Bosses generally do not, with half being completely immobile.) or are tall enough to be hit at closer ranges (again, bosses) it will quickly tear them to shreds.
    • The help menu for machine and neutral cards will note explicitly the neutral and machine elements are hard to raise, but are strong against the other alignments.
    • Tumble Chick. Virtually no health or defenses, but it's a small target that causes damage on contact. With good placement, enemies will lose giant chunks of their health cause they couldn't hit a small little bird worth 1 magic stone bumping into them.
    • Chariobot is probably one of the best Transform cards in terms of damage. However, moving around requires you to attack, which'll eat away at its lifespan, but melee focused monsters will have a hard time doing anything to you. It's also easily missable.
  • Discard and Draw: Fits this trope to a T since you do use cards to attack.
  • Disc-One Nuke: Grind your cards enough and you can have several of these, as shown on the back of the game's box:
    • The Dragon Knight, which you start off with.
    • The Banshee, can be gotten rather early by evolving a Ghoul and will completely ruin everything in your path while making grinding a ton easier.
    • Due to how VS mode works, it's entirely possible to import broken cards from one file to another right at the beginning of the game. Can also led to Sequence Breaking.
  • Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors: Wood->Earth->Water->Fire->Wood. Neutral does 20% more damage to the other elements while Mech takes 20% less from the other elements.
  • Expy: Several of the cards are just recolored versions of other cards. The skeletons, armors, hobgoblins and goblin kings, hand of fire and hand of pain, and running birds and water birds are the most obvious examples.
    • Most of the tropes in that index have a Card relating to them.
  • Fight Like a Card Player: All four face buttons represent your hand, and all actions you can do derive from those cards.
  • Flashback Cut: Happens a few times to explain Tara's troubled upbringing as an abandoned child. She also has bizarre framing hallucinations of herself as a child, who talks to her in one-sided conversations.
  • Gotta Catch 'Em All: The magic cards AND the red fairies.
  • Grim Reaper: The Death card and monster. Attacks with a Sinister Scythe, of course.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • There's no hints at all as to how to obtain The Four Gods in the first game, which you could miss until the end of the game, after you need them.
    • Some cards require a capture card to obtain. Two of the monsters are in the Proving Grounds.
    • Playing VS mode in 2 with the Capture Card rule on will spawn rare monsters if one player has a capture card in their deck. This isn't hinted at anywhere, and is the only way to obtain a Golden Goose in game.
    • You won't get all of the card combos via Red Faires, so good luck figuring out the more obtuse ones, especially Just Visiting. How many people thought of combining two Doppelgangers?
    • Unless you import him from 1, Jack-O-Lantern isn't obtainable for NTSC regions in 2. The game never says this.
  • Hellhound: There's a monster call Hell Hound, which is one of the best jump cards available (and it's the first boss of the game). There's also the classic Cerberus, another Jump card, but it's mainly for attacking.
  • Jack-of-All-Stats: Any type of skeleton. They deal decent damage, they aren't too slow and they'd need a few hits before being taken down.
  • Kame Hame Hadoken:
    • The Crystal Rose, which fires a long ranged ice beam that can charm enemies.
    • The ever loved Banshee card screams one.
  • Lag Cancel: Quick usage of separate Weapons cards in tandem is usually faster than just using the same Weapon card over and over. This even works if you're using different copies of the same card, most notably with Lizardman and his brothers.
  • Lich:
    • The first major boss in the original game. He's fairly tough too, thanks to a special attack he has that involves the minions he summons.
    • The Lich card itself, being a rather good Earth Weapon card.
  • Luck-Based Mission: The cards in your deck that you'll take to a stage will always come out completely random and in no order. So if you want to use one of your more powerful cards, it might be close to the bottom of your deck while you try to survive with the other cards available.
  • Magikarp Power:
    • In battle, the Goblin Lord just walks around, digging up magic stones and doesn't fight anything. At first it might seem useless, but against a long boss fight it can come in handy since long fights mean you'll be using more cards that cost you magic stones and when you run out, you lose a portion of health per each card. With it, you won't have to worry about running out of magic stones in long fights.
    • Any card that requires a lot of experience to evolve runs into this trope. The Tumble Chick and Baby Dragon notably have several evolutions that can lead to some of the strongest cards in the game.
  • Metal Slime: The Golden Goose, an extremely rare creature that runs away at the first opportunity. It's useless in battle, but sells for a lot.
  • Nintendo Hard: Because the cards in your deck appear in no particular order, it can be pretty hard trying to defeat certain enemies and bosses even if you have cards that a creature is weak against. You have to really think about the right strategy to win. Also since some of them have the ability to use cards too, you have to think fast trying to defeat the cards while also defeating the boss at the same time.
  • Non-Elemental: As mentioned above, Neutral fits this role, being marginally more powerful against everything but other Neutral types. Same with Machines in 2, but defensive instead.
  • Non-Lethal Bottomless Pits: The second game. Fall into one a poof your back where you transformed.
  • Ouroboros: One of the strongest Earth cards, and functions as a Orbit card that circles around you and hits quickly.
  • Permanently Missable Content: The Lucky Lion card can easily be missed at Sarvan if you open the wrong chest. Likewise, the Chariobot can only be obtained through the end of mission prizes for two areas (Alenjeh Castle and Royal Tower, Lower) while the Barometz only shows up for Alenjeh Castle mission and they don't respawn.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Katia and her father in the first game. Audrianu in the second.
  • Sequel Hook: It's established there is an entire 2nd continent unseen (recently connected to the first) that has a Runestone.
  • Sequence Breaking: In the 2nd game:
    • It's possible to obtain the Birdman card much earlier then when you get one normally. After obtaining the Hellhound card in the Fossil Boneyard, you can use it to get across the broken bridge in Bhashea High Road to enter the Bhasea Castle, where not only are Birdmen wandering around to be captured, but they are also a reward should you complete the mission there.
    • One could also bet cards over in VS mode needed for progression with a brand new save.
  • Silent Protagonist: Katia. Tara somewhat plays with this though. She has a few lines, but her characterization make her out to be not the most talkative.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: Obeniox Gorge
  • Stripperiffic: The Japanese demo of Lost Kingdoms 2 has Tara (Liz in the Japanese version) wearing a much more risque and weird outfit that includes thigh-highs and angel wings. You can use this by simply swapping out c001.ptm with the demo version.
  • The Four Gods: The Great Turtle (Genbu), White Tiger (Byakko), Blue Dragon (Seiryuu) & Great Phoenix (Suzaku). In the Proving Grounds, one of the last rooms requires you to fight all four of them at once.
  • Transformation Is a Free Action. Both games have this, but in the first game you were completely invulnerable to short-duration attacks if you used a card at the right time.
  • Too Awesome to Use: Any of the cards with max attribute levels in 2 are too expensive to even try without dying, although they're the best way to build attribute levels when Z-Charged. Of course averted once they are maxed out, but you'll probably get an elemental weakness in the process and make cards of other elements be harder to use.
  • Weaksauce Weakness:
    • Vodyanoi notably die the moment they take any earth damage.
    • When you summon a Black Dragon, if it takes damage, so do you.
    • The final boss of 1 can't touch you at all if you are at the very edge of their battle arena.
    • The boss of the Runestone Caverns has no hitstun, so is vulnerable to any card that hits multiple times.
    • 2's final boss can be taken out by Vampire's Death Spell with almost 100% success.
  • What Happened to the Mouse? The side story required for the best ending of 2 involves the Urbur Cultists, who want to turn their souls into runestones. This is hinted at in various parts of the early game (most notably at the mansion), but is never expanded upon and is completely dropped once you complete the quest (which seems to involve a minor, unnamed god who can turn people into runestones). Since the cultists speak in an unintelligible language, you never learn anything about them either. Otherwise the cultists are basically mini-bosses in various levels.