Falcom has pretty much established themselves as one of the finest RPG makers in the business, and Xanadu II - an offshoot of the Legend of Heroes series shows exactly why. The sequel to the first popular Xanadu game, Xanadu II is also an action RPG. This game retains the simple Ys inspired walk-into-the-enemy attack style which works very well and also the side-on action scenes used for boss battles. Being untranslated, the story is a little hard to plot out, but you play Arios and start out aboard a ship in search of your friend, whose own ship (as shown in the intro) was attacked by dragon riders. Eventually you get blown overboard in a vicious storm and end up on a beach near the city of Razan...
Your attack/defense capabilities are dependant on your weapons and armour - sword, shield and armour each have their own 'level' and as you attack or take damage, these stats slowly increase until they hit their max. New weaponry can be found in chests or bought in shops along the way. This method of levelling up is interesting as sometimes you actually need to get hit and lose energy so you can improve your armour stats. As you kill the various monsters, they drop money which you or your party (which can be set to auto attack and auto pick up) can collect. When you reach a boss, you get the option of going it alone, or choosing a companion to help you. The choice can be important as some bosses are far easier with arrows than with sword.
Xanadu II is a superb game. From the moment I started, I played this game solidly until I completed it. From the opening onwards, this game reeks of quality, with a vast array of locations, each beautifully drawn in a way that really gives you a sense of the place. These are probably some of the best graphics of any Engine RPG, and it could easily pass for a game on one of the more powerful consoles. Sound is all chip generated, but wait - don't write it off yet. Even though you would expect CD sound throughout a CD game, the chip music is surprisingly easy to listen to and the tunes are typically great. In fact, I barely even noticed the absence of CD tracks at all while I was playing.
If you are after a challenging RPG then Xanadu is not it. It is very easy. The only stumbling block may be the hints given in the Japanese dialogue, but any decent walkthrough can help you out there. But the easiness, for me, works in its favour. Only towards the very end of the game do you need to spend any time doing the boring levelling-up that permeates most other RPGs and this means that you can regularly progress the story and open up new areas, keeping your interest at a high level. In fact, the balance is far better than something like Ys IV, which I felt was crippled at certain points where you had to spend some time increasing your experience points. Xanadu II will suck you in and you'll enjoy every minute - this is one amazing game.