Monthly Archives: May 2018

PCE Game 15 – Farjius no Jakotei

Farjius no Jakotei: Neo Metal Fantasy (ファージアスの邪皇帝)
Released 8/29/1992, published by Human

Continuing with the PC Engine blitz, this game is based on some sort of interactive game that ran in a Japanese magazine in 1991 and 1992 — I’m not sure exactly how it worked, but it involved sending your moves and/or solutions to the magazine and then in the next installment of the game they would continue the game and show how people were doing, and what your ranking was. They next released a PC Engine game.

The opening story is pretty cliche — there were gods who created the world, and evil gods of destruction who tried to ruin everything. A hero created by the gods went up against the destruction god and eventually sealed his power, but died, promising that he would awaken once again if the god of destruction returned. Now the world has been mostly taken over by the Jakotei (evil Emperor). The main character is Atima, played by the late Honda Chieko.

Atima has turned 16, so she has to undergo the trial to see if she can awaken the hero from his slumber. Here’s the big twist of the game: she succeeds in awakening him!

However, he’s just a little kid that doesn’t remember anything about who he is. Honestly at this point I’m not sure what is already old cliche and what only seems like cliche 26 years later. Anyway, the Jakotei quickly gets wind of all of this and kidnaps Atima and her parents, though he doesn’t recognize who Dimeora (the hero) is, and just kicks him out of the floating castle.

The battle system is basic AMID, but the magic is done a little differently. Rather than MP, you collect “Akashic” from beating enemies and finding them in chests. The max is 9999. That pool is shared among all your party members and it’s what you use to cast spells. The cheapest spells are only 100 akashic, but the most expensive ones are close to 3000. To learn spells you visit a “guild” in town who will give you any spell they have that Atima or Dimeora can use; there is a limit to how many spells each can hold, but you can also get rid of spells at a guild as well.

A boss fight, showing the 9199 current Akashic and three spells: Heal, Defense up, and Flame

After Atima’s capture, Dimeora sets out on his own, but is soon joined by Princess Satera and two mercenaries she hired (Sid and Katoon). We reach an Aleph Base (Aleph is against the evil Emperor). In bars you can tune into the news and hear what’s happening with the war. Another interesting feature is party conversations, which are much like the skits in later Tales Of games. Your party talks about where to go next, what they feel about the current situation, etc. This and the news broadcasts are where most of the voicing is in the game.

A news broadcast

Eventually we make it through to Lalogs, which is nearby the floating fortress. After freeing Lalogs town from an attack, we receive a card key that will let us into the floating fortress — pretty early in the game to go after what seems like the final dungeon, but I assume we’ll be back. Because this time all Dimoera manages to do is save Atima. The Dark Emperor himself appears, but when reinforcements arrive for our party, he runs away.

The Dark Emperor

Unfortunately Atima’s parents are still captured, but fortunately the Emperor is still unaware that Dimeora is the hero reborn. The floating fortress moves again, and this time to chase after it we need a boat, which requires a few fetch quests.

The boat

With the boat we continued to the next country, of Laa. One thing I noticed at this point is that the combats were getting harder and harder, primarily because my party was missing so often. Katoon, in particular, seemed hardly able to land any hits.

A difficult boss

This was especially troublesome in the above boss, who used Gale 2 that does 80 HP to everyone (max HP around 200-250 at this point). I had to fight him several times until finally I just landed enough hits to kill him. There’s a glitch where even though it claims attack up spells can only be used once, you can keep casting them again and again to increase attack — this means you don’t have to land many hits to kill the enemy, but it’s still annoying.

The next dungeon was where I had to quit.  I was missing so often that I could barely get through a random encounter, particularly since the random enemies were now casting Gale 2.  Is this an emulation glitch? This seems unlikely, but no walkthrough pages I saw mentioned this. Many sites seem to think it’s an easy game because of the magic system. But without an instruction booklet, or any good information on the web, I’m not sure what’s going on. By this point I had played about 6 hours of the game so that seemed like a good time to move on, since the PC Engine games are supposed to be side projects anyway. Next up, Cosmic Fantasy 3, which isn’t very good.

PCE Game 14 – Dragon Knight II

Dragon Knight II (ドラゴンナイトII)
Released 8/7/1992, published by NEC Avenue

Messania, the game’s adversary

I mentioned back in my Cosmic Fantasy post that the PC Engine, for whatever reason, became the platform for releasing games that featured a lot of erotic content. I’m not sure what the legal issues are because none of the games were ever full “eroge” (pornographic games). It seems unlikely to me that every game publisher would have just agreed not to release eroge for consoles. Dragon Knight II, as far as I know, is the first time a publisher released a toned-down version of an eroge for a console. This is now standard practice, with eroge of all kinds being released on consoles in cleaned-up versions.

The status screen, showing your “Deffence” and the “Blord Sword” (Broad Sword) equipped

Dragon Knight is an interesting series, and the Hardcore Gaming article has a detailed history (NSFW, although the actual porn images are censored unless you click on them. I don’t know why the style of the page has been removed.) Apparently it was the first eroge to try to focus on the gameplay in addition to the erotic content. The first two follow a Wizardry-style of gameplay, the third is more console-JRPG style, and the fourth is a strategy RPG.

Now I’ve picked up “Scail Armor”

All four games came out for computers, but as I indicated above, ELF decided to also port them all to consoles. Thus all four games will be on this blog — the first three on PC Engine, and the last on the Super Famicom. The original DK was not released until 1995 so first up is the second game. The third game was actually released in English as “Knights of Xentar,” which CRPGAddict covered on his blog. I remember playing that at a friend’s house.


The game begins with the hero Takeru (Desmond in the English version of Xentar) losing a drinking bet with Barn (Rolf in Xentar). He has to deliver a sacred book to the town of Phoenix. There, he visits various places, meeting the young women there. (One note: if you’ve played Knights of Xentar in the English translation, they made a lot of arbitrary changes — Takeru, unlike Desmond, doesn’t stink or have a small penis.)

The item shop owner and his daughters

The art is very much 80s anime style. All the sequences are voiced, although there seemed to be problems playing the voice in some cases — I’m not sure if this is an emulation bug or a problem with the original. Takeru is played by Kamiya Akira, who is best known for playing various “manly” hero roles such as Kenshiro in First of the North Star, or Ryoma in Getter Robo. Barn is Ginga Banjo, another “manly” character actor. A few other characters have prominent voice actors, such as Kate (Hisakawa Aya) but most of them are unknowns (I think).

The weapon shop owner and his daughters

Takeru spends the night in Phoenix. The next day, all the women of the village are gone. The sorceress Messiana has bewitched them all, changed them into monsters, and put them in the tower. This tower is 300 years old and was involved in a war between the witches and dragon knights. Messania hates all men based on that war and thus has taken all the women. The book that Takeru was delivering to Phoenix was supposed to seal Messania away, but now the pages are scattered around the tower. Collecting them will enable Takeru to return each girl to normal. Takeru is really reluctant to take this task on, but the mayor is able to convince him by promising money, and maybe “special favors” from the women he saves.


The gameplay follows Wizardry, but the system itself is far less developed and interesting. As you can see above, it’s a normal first person map, with an automap at the top left. There is something fun about filling in all the squares of the map, and this is one of those games where every square is accessible, making it easier to find secret doors. Soon, Takeru encounters his first monster.

A mummy

All of the monsters in the game are the transformed women from Phoenix town. Because they’re intended to excite the player, the “monster” graphics are quite detailed, much better than any other RPG of this time period. The battle system is about as dead simple as can be; you basically just mash attack in every fight. Levelling gives you so much of a power boost that equipment is pointless, and when you get Sophia later and get spells there’s not much point using them. When you first get to a new floor the monsters can be difficult, but after a couple of levels you’ll plow through everything. So if you’re looking for a game with a satisfying battle system, this isn’t it. So Takeru beats the mummy.

“How can you do this to a lady!”

Each time you beat the monsters you get a scene like above; the idea is that the woman then runs off and regenerates, to fight again later. In the PC version these scenes were fully nude, but they’ve been censored for the PCE version. Unfortunately this whole setup does include suggestions of violence and rape, issues that often come up with eroge and other pornographic media. Ultimately it’s not as bad as it could be because the “cutting off clothes by force” doesn’t lead to sex, just titillation for the player. The basic goal of the game is to find all 27 pages of the book around in the dungeon. When you get a page, the next time you encounter that monster you’ll have an additional option “release”. This frees the woman from the spell, giving you another scantily clad image:

Eve, released from her mummy form

Afterwards, you’ll get a special scene in town — most of them activate by staying at the inn, but a few involve other places. From what I can gather, I think that in the PC version all of the scenes were sexual — the idea is that the mayor and other people have encouraged the girls to go “thank” Takeru for saving them, and this leads to sex. I’m not sure what restrictions the developers might have been under porting it to the PC Engine, but they did not simply retain the scenes but fade to black before anything explicit happened. Only a handful of the scenes clearly end in sex (though off screen). The rest either make Takeru think the girl is going to have sex with him only to be disappointed, or are about something else entirely. Eve is one of the former; she wants to “teach” Takeru things which he hopes will be sexual, but it turns out to just be herbal lore.

Eve’s lesson

So that’s the “reward” side of the game — what about the dungeon exploration? As I said before, the combat is unsatisfying, but the rest of the exploration is not that bad. On the first floor of the tower, there are several locked doors that you’ll have to return to later. Takeru also finds Pietro, the fiance of Kate (the daughter of the mayor) wounded.


He’s clutching one of the book pages (the mummy one). Elsewhere on the floor there is a rat who becomes a recurring character in the game. He wants cheese and wine from the pub in town.

Mr. rat

Once he gets his wish he gives you a clue to unlocking the elevator to other floors, and gives up another page of the book. Finally, once the lift starts moving, another book page falls out. Most of the floors have several puzzles and events. So the exploration of the floors is more interesting than the older Wizardry games. Also the goal of finding all the pages and then “curing” the monsters (which then are no longer encountered) is a non-standard gameplay idea, even if it is geared towards erotic scenes.


Barn joins the party soon, and later in the game Sophia, a mage, completes the party. Her spells are pointless other than the healing spells. However, there is a lot of humorous banter between Sophia, Takeru, and Barn.

This is one of the scenes that does end in implied sex

So is this a good game? Eh, probably not. For a 1992 console RPG it’s graphically impressive, if you can stand the 80s anime art. The story, while not amazing, has some twists and is not the worst storyline I’ve seen on this blog. Takeru is not the typical “destined hero” protagonist. The combat may as well not exist, even if the “monsters” are all very detailed. There is always something fun about exploring the 18×18 maps and filling in all the squares on the automap. The game is quite short (it only took me 8 hours, although that’s including speeding up most of the battles; probably closer to 12-15 played on an actual console). But the brevity may actually help the game.

Giant Spider enemy

I have a feeling this would get a low score on CRPGAddict’s GIMLET ranking. I’m not going to try to rank it myself on his scale, but the “economy” and “equipment” would suffer since there’s no point to equipment or buying anything.

It was an interesting decision for Elf and NEC Avenue to try to port this game to a console. Did they feel that it stood on its own as an RPG without the erotic content? Did they think the titillation factor even in the censored game was enough to sell it? Were they hoping it would act as sort of an advertisement for the full computer versions? It must have sold decently, because they ported Dragon Knight III two years later, and a remake of Dragon Knight I in 1995. Dragon Knight 4 was then ported both to Super Famicom (in its waning years) and the Playstation. So, as I said above, I’ll be returning to this series again later.

SFC Game 25 – Ryuki Heidan Danzarb Review

Story/Characters: There are so many characters that most of them don’t get more than a sketch, but that’s typical for this era. The main characters, at least, have some development and a few of the villains are interesting. What would have really helped in this area is if, between missions, you could walk around the Earthshaker and talk to your various party members. That’s probably too much to ask for a game from early 1993, though.

The story starts off slow, with seemingly disconnected missions involving your fight against the Damaya army. The plot doesn’t really get going until the last few missions — then you get some twists that are a bit silly but at least keep things interseting. It’s definitely one of the better storylines I’ve seen from games on this blog so far.
World: You don’t get much detail on this, but there’s a spoilery reason why this is that I won’t go into here. Since you can’t freely explore the world, you don’t get a good feeling for what the world is like at all.

Game Flow: Some people will not like the mission-based gameplay, because you can’t freely explore. Each of the 15 missions takes place in a specific area, and you can never backtrack or go to different places. This makes sense from a story standpoint but won’t satisfy all gamers. It didn’t bother me much, though.

I did not have to grind at all; the enemies give lots of XP and money, and the encounter rate is probably a bit too high but I never had much difficulty against anything. The only sticking point as far as progress is that the dungeons are often complicated and hard to navigate.

You can turn the walking speed really fast, which is nice.

System: This could have been a lot better. It’s a bit like Metal Max 2 in that the characters aren’t really distinguished from each other, since your only option is “item” which covers attacks and anything else.

But this biggest problem, which I mentioned several times in the posts, is that you get very little feedback. The stat window only gives you HP, MP, “DP” (I still have no idea what this means), and compatibility with the Dragons. There’s no indication of attack or defense value, what effects any of the weapons or armor have, whether certain characters are good with certain types of weapons, or anything like that. I suspect that this is primarily so that they could sell hint guides (which are prominently advertised in the instruction manual). There’s a perception that Japanese gamers were “hardcore” and didn’t need as much handholding as Americans did, but I think this is based on people not understanding how game companies made their games to encourage the purchase of hint guides.

Side Quests/Optional Content: Apparently the final dungeon has an ultimate weapon guarded by a fight that’s harder than the final boss; I didn’t do this.

Interface: As I said above, there’s no way to tell what the strength of any equipment is, or even what your current attack or defense are. Other than that I don’t have any big complaints, nothing too annoying about it.

Graphics/Sound: The graphics are a bit disappointing; I’ll be interested to see the point where we abandon the “NES graphics but with a deeper color palette” era for good. I do like the use of face portraits in the dialogue boxes and I wish more games did this.

The music is not bad. There’s no playlist on youtube so I can’t link specific songs, but I will say that none of them really stood out as awesome tracks.

The next game on the list is Barcode Battler Senki. I’m not sure this qualifies as an RPG for me since it doesn’t look like you can develop or level your guys at all. Even if you can, there’s not much point playing the game since the peripheral used to scan the barcodes isn’t supported by any emulators.

I will also skip Legend of Heroes II although I will be playing this when it comes up in the PC Engine list.

So that means next up is Shinseiki Odysseria, a game with a Greek mythology theme. But first, a few PC Engine games, starting with an eroge.

SFC Game 25 – Ryuki Heidan Danzarb (Missions 11-15) (Final)

Mission 11 – The Heroic Death of Gabalsky

Our goal for this mission is to destroy an enemy Monoroid plant and recover some useful plans. Selder also tells us that we need to immediately kill the thief Vincent if we see him. Keith comes back to fight, but it’s not a hard fight. None of the boss battles are really that hard because if you defend, you recover BP and take almost no damage from hits. So as long as you have healing items and use them frequently, the battles might take a while, but you have to be unlucky to lose anyone.

Gabalsky’s Tyrannosaurus

As the title suggests, Gabaslky is waiting at the end. He won’t say what he saw in the Rachel Lab, but he calls Matthew a demon and wants to end the war at the cost of his own death — he’s hoping to take out Matthew and himself, but it doesn’t work.

Mission 12 – Overcoming Sorrow

Zoro has decided that he wants to destroy Matthew’s spirit in order to weaken the Danzarb squad. Not coincidentally, Orbal has found the place where his mother and sister are being kept. The mission is mostly rescuing various prisoners and receiving keys to open the next area, but finally we reach the place where Matthew’s family is.

Annie, Matthew’s sister

Zoro has his men brutally kill Annie and Matthew’s mother, which has the desired effect. Zoro blames Matthew for their death — if he hadn’t fought, and killed a bunch of people himself, his family wouldn’t have died. He doesn’t finish off Danzarb though, wanting Matthew to suffer longer.

Mission 13 – Amanda’s Trap

Amanda, the leader of the Tattoo Cats, is in a nuclear plant, promising to blow it up if Dick doesn’t come to see her (she’s copying Zoro’s method). The plant is fairly small; we get attacked by various Tattoo Cats along the way but by this time Kim was a high enough level that I could make all the best armor and weapons. This mission, like the last one, has no boss fight. Chiki tries to shoot Amanda but Dick jumps in front of her and dies himself.

Dick’s death

Zoro thinks this cinches the victory of Damaya, but Matthew has actually been pumped up by Dick’s heroic death and is ready to move on. (Dick has everyone leave except himself and Amanda — lucky for him Amanda didn’t decide to just blow up the plant anyway after he died. Instead she disbands the Tattoo Cats and goes into hiding.)

Mission 14 – The Secret of Rachel Lab

This is another short mission since we’ve been here before and can go directly down to the 8th floor to the hidden door. When the Earthshaker is on route to the next mission, Vincent damages the craft forcing it to land near the Rachel Lab, and then wants to take Matthew, Sabersky, and Ran Mu down to the lab to see the secret. Gunga Din goes along as well, and it turns out he’s the traitor. He kills Vincent and then we have to fight him 3 vs 1; this could be a tough fight if you’re not prepared. But as usual, the defend/heal strategy works pretty well.

Gunga Din’s robot form

Now we discover the secret. Matthew and Ran Mu (and probably Keith on the Damaya side) are experiments in creating the ultimate soldier, but to awaken the soldiers’ abilities they needed a war. So there really is no Orbal or Damaya, it’s all just Damaya staging this fight on an island. All the combatants are people who wanted to have their memories erased for various reasons (the commander, Sabelsky, accidentally killed a bunch of people with a bomb and wanted to forget). The war won’t end until the ultimate soldiers awaken. (This seems a little silly but it’s a surprising twist I guess.) We also learn in a cutscene after the stage that Seldar is really the leader of the Damaya research team or army.

Mission 15 – And…

The final mission, where we have to make it to the Damaya HQ and try to end the war ourselves. Unlike the last two missions this one is quite long, with seven boss fights. I made sure to buy several Fixer 4 units (the most powerful Dragon healing item). Using those immediately was often necessary. The best damage was done by the Blue Dragon since I found a Thunder Blade item that did a lot of damage.

Storywise the main purpose here is to kill off most of the characters (hero and enemy) in a series of boss fights and scenes. First up is Shaman, who attacks the party with a mental attack that it takes Krishna to hold off.

Afterwards, Krishna dies from the strain. So now our best White Dragon pilot is gone. Next up is Zoro. Once we beat him, he tries to get Matthew to come up and land the killing blow, but Chiki realizes it’s a trap and goes herself, dying in the process. Gabriel then dies by blowing himself up to stop some suicide bombers. Jango is waiting here as well. That’s everyone on the enemy side except for Keith, and Seldar. The final dungeon is a few floors; it’s confusing as usual and requires a little puzzle solving to hit a bunch of buttons to make the final room open. Here we first fight Keith.

He wants to beat us to prove he’s the real super soldier, but of course we take him out, and tell him that we’re all just humans, not super anything. Now all that’s left is Seldar. He drops another twist; that this whole thing is being broadcast as a reality show that the entire world is watching, in order to raise funding for this project. (If that’s the case, who is developing these super soldiers and why? If you weren’t a citizen of Seldar’s country why would you want to see that?)

Seldar has three forms, but it’s just a long slog that’s not much different than the previous bosses. He can use a move that takes away everyone’s turns, but even so I found it fairly easy to keep healed.

Once we win, it turns out that some of the people who supposedly died still didn’t die, so this is the final survivor group:

Amanda saved Kim and Buru

But now what do we do? Who wants to go out into a world where people were watching this real war for fun? Matthew hopes that not everyone is like that, but he looks for a camera to give a speech (which I guess is for the player.)

He tells us that war isn’t a game, and that if we treat it that way things will get worse and worse. This was in 1993 so it’s post Cold War but pre-9/11. It’s also prior to the big reality TV boom (Survivor started in 1997 in Sweden and 2000 in the US). I know these themes were in sci-fi well before 1993.

The game closes without credits, just this:

Made by Pandora’s Box

I’m not sure why they didn’t have any title screen, credits, ending screen, or anything of that nature. Just this blank screen with no sound or music.

Review to follow.

SFC Game 25 – Ryuki Heidan Danzarb (Missions 6-10)

Mission 6 – The Lost Forest, Romzo

The mission here is to find a downed Orbal craft and recover the biological weapons.

As the name indicates, this is a confusing map. A lot of the maps in Danzarb take a while to find your way around in because there are a lot of entrances and exits to various maps and you have to go back and forth between them. This one is partially hard because the little icons that let you go to the surface and down underground can be hard to see. Kim can get you some items from the destroyed mechs in the area.

The confusing forest

Once I made it through this area I found the fourth Monoroid pilot, Ran Mu. Both she and Matthew have a strange feeling about what’s going to be in this mission. But in the end, Keith (an enemy commander) appears but doesn’t fight us, and the mission ends.

Mission 7 – The Mystery of Rachel Lab

More strange behavior from leader Selder, who will not let Matthew, Ran Mu, or Saberski (the leader of Danzarb) go on this mission. We have to go to Rachel Lab and save it from Damaya. The Damaya commander who we’ll face is Gabalski, who was the student of Parker, another Danzarb member.


We meet Papillot, a dog-thing that was born in this lab from the genetic engineering it does. Also another member joins along with him. This is a long stage, where you have to find seven orbs around the lab to open various doors and eventually reach the bottom floor. Papillot has the 7th orb. There, we fight Gabalsky.


After we defeat him, the squad is ready to go into the final door, but Selder suddenly orders us to leave immediately. After we go, Gabalsky enters the door himself. He seems shaken by what he’s seen but won’t tell his underlings what was in there.

Mission 8 – Fight in the Tundra

The goal here is to recover a homing unit that Orbal has developed. But the Tattoo Cats are back. We fight them one at a time, although Chiki immediately joins Danzarb because she falls in love with Dick (no pun intended?)

A tattoo cat squad

(Apparently I failed to take good screenshots after this, sorry.)

Mission 9 – Sudden attack! Ranabraf Squad

We need to go get the White Dragon, the fifth and last(?) of the Dragons for our squad. But the Earthshaker gets shot down by the enemy. This doesn’t affect the mission at all. The gimmick in this mission is that we have to solve puzzles in each control room to open up the final area — it’s one of those puzzles where touching a square changes the colors of the squares around it and you have to turn them all red. They’re not all that hard, though. At the end, another one of the enemy commanders, Shaman, attacks. But after the battle the White Dragon appears (with yet another new member, Krishna) and joins the team. If we really have Krishna on our team that should be an automatic win unless he decides to just pilot the ship.

Mission 10 –  The Thief Vincent Appears

This is a short breather mission, which is a relief after the very long missions they had been using previously. Vincent, the thief of the mission title, has broken into a lab. He’s apparently an old war buddy of Sabersky (the leader). Once we find Vincent, he doesn’t fight, but wants to join Danzarb because he says he has a way to end the war. Unfortunately our attempts to hide him fail, and Seldar ejects him from the squad before he can tell us how to end the war — he does say there’s a spy in the Danzarb squad, though.

Depending on how long the remaining missions are I hope I can finish the game this weekend.

SFC Game 25 – Ryuki Heidan Danzarb (Missions 1-5)

Ryuki Heidan Danzarb (龍騎兵団ダンザルブ)
Released 4/23/1993, published by YutakaImage result for ダンザルブ

Back to Super Famicom. Yutaka has appeared once before on this blog, as the publisher of the 3×3 Eyes game. Fortunately Danzarb is a bit better. It’s yet another sci-fi RPG that involves mech battles in addition to normal RPG on-foot battles. This one does have a translation patch. The game starts up with no title screen, it just plops you immediately in the first scene:

I thought something was wrong at first

The main character is Matthew, a trainee in the Orbal Army. His father and older brother work developing Super Monoroids (giant robots). In the opening scene they are both killed in an attack by the Damaya Army, and his mother and sister are captured. Matthew himself is then assigned to the Danzarb group, a group of elite soldiers that everyone wants to join. Although when Matthew arrives, nobody gives him the time of day — it seems that they didn’t really want him, but they had to accept him to also get the Red Dragon, the Monoroid that his father was working on. (You actually get the choice whether to join Danzarb or not. This isn’t one of those false “Princess Lola” choices though; if you choose “no” you get a game over.)

Now we get the title screen. Gainax was involved.

The game is organized as a series of 15 missions, so there’s no backtracking or world map exploration or anything like that.

MISSION 1 – The First Assignment

This is basically a short tutorial mission. There aren’t any of the Dragons (Monoroids) yet; instead you’re just on foot. We start with 7 characters, of whom 5 can go on the mission.

Character select

I tend to pick lower levelled characters, but you definitely want to level Kim, and probably Janice as well. Kim is the technician, and the only way to get new equipment is to spend the “energy” points you get from battles on development, and which items you can make it based on Kim’s level. Also if you have Kim along with you, she can develop items for you on the fly. Later when you start using the Dragons, you also spend the points to level the Dragons up, and if you don’t have Kim with you, you have to go all the way back to the starting point to do it. Janice can make healing items; she’s not as crucial as Kim but it can be useful for her level to be high as well.

The Earthshaker, the Danzarb ship

The stat screen has a few stats, as you can see above. HP is hit points, BP is “battery points”, which you use to fire weapons and use other items. I have no idea what DP is. It’s not mentioned in the instruction manual and I haven’t seen a wakthrough site that explains it. The “Match” on the right is the character’s compatibility with each Dragon. 120 is the highest, 100 the lowest.

Strangely the game includes an English mode but just for the menus

My first complaint about the game is the opaque system. In addition to the unexplained DP, nothing in the game or manual makes it clear what different weapons do. There are swords, bows, guns, bombs, etc. but it’s hard to know if different characters are better with different weapons, or what the difference between a bow and sword is. There’s also no way to see your current defense or attack; I use a walkthrough site to find the power of weapons and armor when the game doesn’t tell me. There I did find out that some weapons have better “STEP” ratings (which means you can act quicker) or hit rates.

Each mission starts with Captain Seldar giving a briefing, then we are taken to the mission destination. The first mission is to protect an energy tank at a base being attacked by Damaya. The mission is fairly short and mostly consists of finding various base workers that have a series of keycards, which you then have to assemble as a puzzle into a master card.

It’s one of those Final Fantasy puzzles where you move the pieces around

There are random encounters along the way, although the rate is not excessive.

A battle

During battle, the yellow lights in the center above each character get lighter, and when they fill up that person gets to act. This is like Metal Max in that all you can do is use an item, defend, or run. Items include attacks, heals, and items. Most items consume BP, but with Kim along you can easily make new BP restore items, and also defending cuts damage a lot and restores some BP (not in Dragons, just normal humans). For the most part the battles aren’t very hard, and there’s an auto battle feature. But it’s sometimes hard to tell what’s happening because the game isn’t good about telling you what’s going on.

MISSION 2 – Don’t Let the Red Dragon Die

This mission is to recover the Red Dragon, the first of the Monoroids. At the beginning you get to fly the ship around. This is another short mission, and at the end we get the Red Dragon — of course in true mech anime fashion, Matthew’s father seems to have designed the Red Dragon specially for him. Now the squad finally accepts him as a real Danzarb member, and a new member Gunga Din joins.

Red Dragon awakes

After each mission you can spend points that you earn during the mission for various things (completing the mission, or optional subevents). You can increase HP or BP by 1, or level up a character, or buy certain items. I’ve mostly been using the points to level Kim and Janice. Sometimes you’re forced to use a specific character and it might be helpful to use the points beforehand to level them up, but unless you’re using a walkthrough you won’t know which characters to level.

MISSION 3 – Those Hidden at Craft Mine

In this mission, robots have gone berserk at a mine. The mission is just the Red Dragon alone; I sent Matthew out in the mech but at some point I needed Gunga Din to open a door (why would his strength matter when he’s riding the mech?)

This is another fairly short mission, made longer by the need to double back a few times to switch characters. Here’s the boss of the mission:

Bandai’s lawyers were immediately dispatched

After the mission some of the Danzarb members think they should investigate more but Captain Seldar refuses to let us. This is the first of an increasing number of instances of Seldar acting strangely.

MISSION 4 – Assault on Krand Bridge

The Damaya Army is trying to blow up the bridge. Gabriel, a tech on the bridge (who joins after the mission) can defuse the bomb if we find the code. Each bridge worker has a clue to the puzzle, things like “The number between 0 and 2 is over 4”. Why would they know such useless information? Anyway, talking to everyone narrowed it down to 2 possible codes, and you have three tries, so that was enough. After defusing the bomb, one of the elite Damaya units arrives in the Cerberus mech.


He does a lot of damage but with constant use of healing he’s beatable. One unusual thing about this game is that if you use a healing item, the healing happens gradually rather than all at once. It still usually completes before the enemy gets another turn but not always.
MISSION 5 – Rescuing Krishna 

This mission pits us against the Tattoo Cats, a female group of soldiers led by Amanda. It turns out Amanda is the former lover of Dick, one of the Danzarb members. The mission has two parts. First, the Dragons have to find the base. The areas now start getting a lot larger and more confusing, with multiple entrances leading to multiple maps — fortunately the walking speed is fast and you can set it even faster (at this point it becomes hard to control).

Walking around the map

Once there, the tattoo cats attack…one at a time. Obviously it’s not very hard. But Amanda’s Amon is much harder. I had to get the best armor and weapons I could for all the units, and rely on some luck that she didn’t use her ALL attack too often.


 Now Amanda runs away and we follow on foot; Dick demanding that he be allowed to go. This is a tedious mission because we have to save a large number of workers in this base, and each one has to be rescued and taken back to the Earthshaker individually. But finally they are all saved, and Dick fights Amanda one on one.

Amanda, leader of the Tattoo Cats

By sheer luck, Dick had one of the heal items that uses BP rather than being a consumable. So she wasn’t very hard. Fortunately you can save anywhere so I wouldn’t have lost much progress if I had gotten a game over. Amanda survives and runs away to live to fight another day.

The game isn’t bad so far; I wish there was a bit more complexity to the battle system but auto battle works well and I can always have a podcast, Law and Order, or now the Tour of California to occupy me while playing. 

PCE Game 13 – Record of Lodoss War

Record of Lodoss War (ロードス島戦記) 
Released 7/17/1992, published by Hudson 

Lodoss War is one of the first anime I ever saw — I rented it from Blockbuster on VHS. It originally came out of a tabletop RPG, which was then published in magazines in the form of “replays”, which were basically just accounts of the gaming sessions. The franchise expanded to include novels, anime, manga, and several video games. The PC Engine game here is based on a PC-98 game although I don’t know how closely the original game was followed. It has that “odd” feel that a lot of these early PC ports have (see Burai, La Valeur, Deathbringer).

The game opens with the vocal song Adesso e Fortuna (the above video is a cover; they seem to delete the original Japanese version aggressively). This is the first PCE game I’ve played on this blog that has a vocal song.

Our heroes

The main character is Parn, a “knight” (really just a sword user) who sets out to defeat Beld, who rules Marmo. This is a bit different from how the anime and source novels go. The first task, aided by Parn’s friend and priest Eto, is to rescue a girl from goblins. There are voiced scenes like the one below; it shares the problem with Sol Menage that the speech is mixed too low with respect to the music and it’s hard to hear what they’re saying. I would have expected an emulation bug except that Japanese players complained about Sol Menage, and probably 3/4 of the games I’ve played are fine in this respect.

Parn and Eto

The towns are just a menu-based system. As usual you can’t see the stats of items until you buy them, but it’s usually fairly evident which ones are better. The battle system is an Ultima III-inspired style:

vs. two wolves

I often don’t like this style of battle — it takes too long and sometimes isn’t very different from a standard battle. I actually thought it worked well in this game, though. The random encounter rate is fairly low, and you can easily restore MP by camping after a battle (you only regain a bit, but then you can take one step and camp again). This means you can actually use your spells, and many of them are useful. There are area effect spells or spells that hurt a line of enemies, and sleep/hold/silence spells that are actually worth casting.

On the way to the goblins we meet Deedlit, the elf:


She adds some good damage spells, and an area sleep spell.

Eat it goblins

Slayn has also joined there; after we find the mayor’s daughter she’s under a spell so we have to find Slayn to cure her. Now with 4 members of the party, it’s on to the next area to see how we can fight against Marmo. One nice feature of the game is that you get a lot of XP for completing quests and events, lessening the amount of grinding you have to do. The enemies also drop good items to sell.


Next to join is the dwarf Ghym, showing the clear D&D inspiration of the whole scenario. Of course Deedlit and he don’t seem to get along. Next up is Woodchuck the thief, played by Wakamoto Norio. Now the party is complete. The battles start to slog a bit in this section, fortunately the game includes an auto battle that you can customize to tell the characters whether to use spells, items, etc. Often you can win battles by starting on manual until you have the battle under control and then use auto to finish it up.

The party

In the Alania kingdom we find a note in a thieves’ hideout that says the king will be targeted by assassins. The only way to get the note to him is to enter a tournament. The first rounds are easy but the final spider boss is not.

The shade above the spider is Deedlit’s summon

The king is happy to get our warning and lets us pass on to the next kingdom. There are two possible ways to get there — Deedlit wants to take the forest route, Ghym the desert. Of course I have to follow Deedlit. Her village and house are in the forst

Apparently in the computer version this was a more explicit picture

Also in the forest is a house inhabited by a dark elf, working for Marmo.

Ooh la la

There are a lot of spellcasters in these battles, which makes the Silence and Hold spells particularly useful. If you can get all of them stopped, the rest of the battle becomes much easier. One complaint I had is that Etoh takes too long to get the next healing spell. Although it’s cheap to buy healing potions that people can use for 50 hp heal so it’s not terrible. There are also magic defense spells that help.

Now who’s laughing

Once the dark elf squad is defeated, we get to Valis kingdom and meet the Grey Witch, played by my favorite seiyuu Sakakibara Yoshiko (of Haman Karn fame)


She takes us all prisoner, but we escape, and find a princess along the way. Returning her to the grateful king gives us a big feast.

And experience too

This is about as far as I played. Judging from walkthrough sites this is about 2/3 of the game — it’s fairly short, and I considered playing the whole thing, but it’s not a masterpiece. This is still theoretically superfamicomrpgs so I don’t want to spend too much time on the PCE stuff. But I was pleasantly surprised by the battle system. It had a lot of chances to get bogged down, and although there are some balance issues, you have a lot of options in battle and it rarely works just to mash attack. But you can run from battles and the encounter rate is low enough that this isn’t a big problem.

There’s a sequel for the PCE which looks like it has similar gameplay. The later SFC game has no connection to these and is more console-ish from the looks of it.

PCE Game 12 – BABEL

Released 3/27/1992, published by Nihon Telnet

Nice NES-era title screen

This game pushes the border of what an RPG is; it technically qualifies as an RPG under my criteria but it has fixed level ups, meaning that at any point in the game, every player will have the same stats, HP, etc. You can grind money for equipment, but the only thing you can equip is weapons. You also can only save the game at pre-determined points. All of this makes the game much closer to an adventure game than an RPG, and I’m not going to play it much. The story is often praised, and it does seem to have a bit more substance than some other games from this period.

We begin with the two main characters, Zell and Alisa. They’re voiced by the seiyuu for Shinobu and Sara from Dancouga, and I believe that other characters in the game have voices from Dancouga as well (and the personalities of the characters are similar).

Zell and Alisa

While they’re riding along, they see a truck that has a kidnapped girl in it, so they go to save her. The first combat has Zell vs. a few grunts.

The battle system is very basic, but there is a brief animation every time you make an attack. Zell has both a knife and several guns, but here I just used the knife until he was gone. Then Alisa blows up a plane with a rocket launcher, and we save the girl


Once they reach the capital, Sefia asks to have a gun as well so she can fight, and Alisa goes off somewhere while they try to figure out who Sefia is — she won’t talk much, but people are after her life.

Zell escorts Sefia back to the nunnery where she teaches, and that’s pretty much where I stopped the game. The plot seems to involve some religious leaders fighting and probably wider issues than that. As I said, people commonly praise the storyline to this game, but I just don’t think it has the spirit of an RPG — if this were a Super Famicom game I guess I would keep playing it but for PCE I’ll skip it and go on to Lodoss War.

PCE Game 11 – Tengai Makyo II Part 2

Ise and Kii are the locations for the second Orchid, and they’re covered with profuse plants that have blocked access to a lot of areas and absorbed people into them. There’s one village that has a sad scene with a mother and son who are crying for each other but forgetting who they are as the plants take them over.


The main goal of this area is to find four bronze bells in order to awaken an iron giant who can carry us over the plants to get to the final area where the next sword is stored. Kikugoro will be opposing us at every stage. The first step is to fish for a flute. This flute allows us to travel around on a ship of some sort that we can call up at the tombs seen below.

All of the bells are in Kii, but to get them we need a mirror that will activate some ancient statues. This is in the valley of lament, which we need the Iga Ninja’s necklace to enter. After some fetch quests I got the mirror (which can be used in battle to reflect half of the enemy attack damage back at them). Then it was off to Kii and the valley of lament. In Kii I first met three female warriors that are on our side.

They don’t join the team but show up periodically to help out.

The difficulty of the game increases quite a bit starting here. The enemies do a lot more damage, and coupled with the “main character 0 hp = game over” I found it rather frustrating. It’s strange because the reviews I see praise the game balance, even though they mention that any random encounter can give you a game over. That doesn’t sound like good game balance to me — maybe these reviewers just like “hard” games.

With the mirror, now in various places around Kii I can use the mirror to activate statues, letting me in to places where the bells are. The first two are fairly easy to get; they don’t have any dungeons or bosses, just visits to towns. But after that it starts getting harder. The next step is to get a boat (a real boat this time).

The problem, as I said in my last post, is that you can’t get a game over or warp towns or the boat goes back to the beginning. This is rough here because you have to be able to sail over to a town, blow open the door, and complete the dungeon without game overs. After getting about 5 of them I got frustrated and did grinding to give Manjimaru a good sword that casts a spell on everyone. The main problem is that you have to fight these iron robot things, who take almost no damage from physical attacks. That just leaves spells, which seem to fail about 75% of the time. You can leave and rest after each enemy, but I was still getting game overs. With a few more levels and the sword I was able to defeat them and get to the roof, where Kabuki and Kikugoro have a transformation contest.


Once Kabuki wins, Kikugoro gives up a key, allowing us to go to the next castle to find the third bell…after a boss fight.

Not very hard

The same key opens the fourth dungeon, with another boss.

This guy is bullshit; he can kill Manjimaru or Kabuki in one turn if you get unlucky. So this is another instant game over chance. But once I beat him I finally had all 4 bells.


The four bells awaken this Buddha-like being, so that we can finally make our way to the huge tree where the final showdown with Kikugoro is. There are multiple boss fights, ending with Kikugoro fused with the tree.

I had a really hard time with this fight; it was the same as the robots where I could barely hurt him, spells mostly failed, and I would run out of healing well before I did any damage. So I followed a strategy from a walkthrough — have Kabuki use a technique that draws all attacks to him, and use the mirror to reflect Kikugoro’s attacks. So most of the damage will be done by that. He’s still hard but I managed to beat him and get the sword, to kill the second Orchid.

2 down, 5 to go. Next up is the capital city area, but this is where I think I’m going to stop. I’ve gotten somewhat beyond this but I find the game’s difficulty too frustrating, and since PCE is supposed to be a side project I don’t want to spend too much time on this game. I can see how this would have been a great game in 1992, but I wonder how much nostalgia and the amazing visuals and sounds make people forget the weaknesses of the system. Soon after this point, Kabuki leaves and you’re alone, but the enemies still seem balanced for a party. I got about 15 game overs just trying to travel from one town to another.

The next party member, Gokuraku

Now, I’m going to make what might be an unpopular decision. One of the reasons I’m doing PCE games is that the PCE was the primary competitor to the Super Famicom in this period, and so it’s interesting to compare what was being done on both systems. But that’s hard to do when I’m a year behind on the PCE. So until I catch up, I’m going favor the PCE a bit — maybe 3 games for each SFC game. I know this goes against the name of the blog but it’s still retro chronogaming so it’s still on topic, I guess.