FUGA: Melodies of Steel 2 Review

The kids aren't alright.
FUGA melodies of Steel 2 Header

FUGA 2 catches up with the children one year after the original as they return to a semblance of a normal life. With Gasco now free from Berman invasion, the children have parted ways, but are reunited in front of the colossal tank they piloted one year prior, the Taranis, which is now suddenly on a rampage across Gasco.

Allying themselves with the daughter of the President of Gasco, Vanilla, the remaining children take control of the other giant tank, the Tarascus, and with barely a thought spared, set off in pursuit of the renegade war machine and back into another war after barely surviving the last one. Throw in a little intrigue and some narrative threads that tie these games even tighter to the Little Tail Bronx canon, and FUGA 2 kicks off pretty damn well.

While you don’t have to play the original, thanks to a plot summary included on the main menu and solid character reintroductions, going into FUGA 2 knowing the children from the first game really adds impact to the story. I’d recommend playing FUGA before moving onto this game because of this.

From a gameplay perspective, little has changed with this sequel. It’s still part life sim and part turn-based strategy with a sprinkling of dungeon crawling thrown in alongside, however there are plenty of quality of life improvements that really boost it over it’s predecessor. The felineko’s share of the game is still found in the battles though, and will be where you spend most of your game time.

FUGA melodies of Steel 2 map

You’ll be piloting the tank along set paths, collecting items and engaging in combat with a variety of enemies. Each of the children represents one of three weapons: machine gun, grenade launcher and cannon. Of these, you can have three equipped at any one time with three others as back-up, so there’s six children manning the battle stations at a time. You can switch around the children every three player turns in combat or as much as you like during intermissions.

Children who are paired together in battle stations will grow in their affinity with one another, unlocking powerful Link Attacks and allowing you to view cute little skits between them. These weapons not only gain wildly different abilities, but also have accuracy that scales opposite to their power, so the cannon can inflict the greatest damage but has the lowest accuracy, with the machine gun being the opposite and the grenade launcher being the middle. Also, your enemies will often have little clocks under their life bars in blue, yellow or red, which correspond to the machine gun, grenade launcher and cannon respectively. 

Hitting an enemy with the right attacks and breaking all of these clocks will result in that enemy having their next turn delayed, which is absolutely vital to successfully navigating a battle. Weaknesses aren’t the only problem you’ll face, as some enemies will have shields that need to be broken, or will inflict status effects on the children, or will even change all of these aspects during the course of battle.

FUGA melodies of Steel 2 battle

There will be times when a battle looks dire, and FUGA 2 gives you two options… for a price. Returning from the first game is the Soul Cannon, a weapon that will win any battle, but at the cost of permanently taking the life of one of the children. This has a little twist in the sequel, however, in that the Soul Cannon will activate automatically when the tank reaches low health and will randomly select a child for ammunition. You then have 20 player turns to finish the battle or lose that child forever, adding a real tension to the battles and a strong incentive to keep the tank healed up.

The other option when you’re in trouble is the Managarm. This weapon is devastating but only will do very high damage so is not a guarantee of winning the battle. However, the use of this weapon will knock out a child rendering them useless until the next intermission and will result in you receiving no experience points at all for that battle. Having these two is an excellent failsafe should you find yourself in dire need, but you really have to weigh up the negatives before using either of them.

Outside of battles, a large amount of the game is taken up by Intermissions. These segments take place within the tank and see you trying to fulfil the wishes of the children, which range from wanting to talk to someone particular to performing upgrades and going on excursions. Each of these actions use a set amount of ability points (AP), with 20 AP granted each Intermission, and an experience boost for all children if you complete a certain amount of wishes, represented by a little Finish Line.

FUGA melodies of Steel 2 intermission

Each Intermission becomes a balancing act of working out the best way to maximise your AP for that segment, which is a wonderful calming palette cleanser between battles. Along with the town segments, where you can shop and chat to townspeople and engage with the new morality system. This grants bonuses in battles, such as damage negation for a single attack, based on decisions you make in conversations. These can be acting with determination for victory at all costs or showing empathy for others and the desire for the preservation of life.

The final component of the game’s core is the excursions, which appear on the map and see three children jumping into a 2D dungeon to find treasure. Using toy gun ammunition, you have to solve the puzzles to find all of the items in the dungeon and unlock the gold chest to finish. If a child falls to a trap or a monster they aren’t killed or knocked out, but can’t be used for the remainder of the dungeon, while losing all three children will simply end the excursion. Any completed dungeon is then accessible during Intermissions too.

There are plenty of subtle quality of life improvements in this sequel that have a huge impact to the experience as a whole. There’s now immediate visual cues without needing to go into menus, such as icons above the children in Intermissions if you have fulfilled their wishes, you have shortcuts between key menus for ease of action, such as being able to see needed items for tank upgrades, and there’s changes to the maps with item air drops and NPC encounters. All of which combines to make a more cohesive and smoother experience for the player. 

Visually, this is much the same game as the original. The children’s designs have been updated to show the passage of time, and the gorgeous Chapter End art pieces return along with the in-universe Adventures of Sucre comic book to read, but this isn’t visually that different. Then again, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The only complaint I can find in this game is that the music isn’t quite on the same level as the previous game, but in all honesty that is a very small gripe considering the strength of the rest of the package.

There’s a lot to love with FUGA 2, and the game is incredibly rewarding if you commit to the experience. It’s an improvement in every possible way on the original and provides an impactful and heart wrenching story with engaging gameplay throughout. If you played and loved the original game, this is an absolutely essential purchase, and even if you didn’t, this is turn-based strategy done very right. Just don’t you dare let Boron get loaded into the Soul Cannon, you monster.
  • Solid strategy gameplay
  • Cute animal characters
  • Vast improvement on the original
  • Forgettable music
  • Sometimes punishing