Monthly Archives: September 2018

SFC Game 29 – Bazoe! Mahou Sekai

Bazoe! Mahou Sekai (バズー!魔法世界)
Released 7/23/1993, published by Hot B

One site that has reviews of most of the Super Famicom RPGs has a section with what he thinks is the 9 worst games. I’ve played a number of them (Maka Maka, Villgust, Light Fantasy, Cyber Knight, and Song Master). Bazoe! is in that list as well, but he admits it’s a personal dislike. While this isn’t a masterpiece, it’s nowhere near as bad as those other games, especially if you play on an emulator with a speedup key.

The developer, Hot B, went out of business the day after the game was released, and there’s also a story of the lead programmer disappearing during development, so some of the issues with this game might be due to unforeseen problems. Overall I would say so far this is a game with a good story (for 1993) but a bad system.

The instruction manual gives the backstory — there was once the Gazelfan Empire, but that magic kingdom was destroyed by the “great catastrophe” and monsters overwhelmed the world. An order of knights formed and destroyed the monsters, and then the Gazel Kingdom was formed. But Gazel broke up when the knights, priests, and magicians struggled with each other. They separated into the Duelfan Kingdom, the Nefan Kingdom, and the Ralfan Kingdom respectively. But after a while they allied with each other. Currently there is peace, but the Mirror of Paru has foretold that a new era of demons is coming.

The game begins by letting you chose a sex, name, and parents’ occupation. I went with the girl herbalist. She begins as a 14 year old level 1 girl, with no equipment. I don’t know exactly what the choice of profession does — when entering new areas she’ll sometimes make a comment about the kind of herbs you can find in the area but you can’t actually get any. So it may just be for atmosphere and background.

This is Kurisu’s 14th birthday, and a magician named Nash comes to deliver Kurisu’s father’s dying request — to have Kurisu become a magician like he was. Her mother is hesitant because she says it was magic that led to her father’s death, but she vows to accomplish her father’s wish.

The first task is to get an introduction letter to the magic school from her uncle, who is a Baron of a nearby area. Along the way we have the first fight.

The chief problem of this game, familiar to a lot of lower-quality games of this era, is the ridiculously high random encounter rate. The battles also move fairly slowly, and a game over sends you back to your previous save. So you can spend a lot of time in a dungeon just to be defeated by the boss.

The battles start with the enemies and allies separate from each other. You can cast spells or fire bows, but to attack you have to close in, which takes two or three actions. The enemies may also try to close in on you. It’s an OK idea but it makes the battles too slow for the encounter rate. Kurisu also starts out with no equipment or abilities, so you basically have to hide her while the bard Fale takes care of the enemies.

When you reach the edge of an area you move along a world map like the above. You can also sometimes hire ships or carriages to take you from town to town. Unfortunately despite the large number of spells in this game, there is no town warp spell, or dungeon warp spell. There’s also no revive spell, which is a huge problem in a game where enemies can cast instant death spells — another instance of poor balance.

Unfortunately Kurisu’s uncle is rather mean and dismissive, and only when his son Romal (a knight) objects does he say that he’ll write the letter if she can prove his worth. She starts out as a servant, but she does her duty. Finally under Romal’s complaints the Baron says she needs to get his seal from a nearby tower. To prepare, she spends three months studying sword use under Romal, and is finally ready to go.

The enemies are pretty tough and I thought I was going to have to do a lot of slow grinding, but if you approach the tower you get two new companions — the priest Lott, and his friend Mimas, who lost her family to slavers and doesn’t talk much. With their help the tower is fairly easy.

Unfortunately it’s being used by slavers, but we’re able to free the slaves and find the seal. The boss starts to be a person named Croizel, but he runs away, leaving us to fight underlings.

With the seal, the Baron is happy to write the letter, and Romal joins her on her trip to Seles, where the magic guild is. They accept Kurisu, and she begins to learn magic.

She’s a quick study with high aptitude, and learns the ice magic Chiru that her classmates can’t. She also takes a bunch of classes. Eventually it’s time to face the trial that will make her a beginning magician. It’s a series of puzzles and traps in a tower. I failed the first time because I fought a statue (instant loss) instead of finding a hidden staircase. But on the second try I succeeded, and Kurisu became a real magician. She learns that the main goal of all magicians is to recover ancient magic lost in the great disaster.

I next had to select a master from three possibilities, which determines the spells you get automatically (other spells can be learned from scrolls). I chose Maclellan, the Spirit teacher. But after having played over half the game, I think a better choice is Balhalrik. The damage spells are poorly balanced and don’t scale well — that is, the upper level damage spells cost way too much MP for the extra damage they do. So Balhalrik’s buff and exploration spells are probably more useful overall.

The way the magic system works is that you can have 16 spells at a time. If you have a scroll, you can cast the spell directly from the scroll, or go to a magic guild to learn it permanently if you’re high enough level. Each school of magic has 8 levels of spells, but the 8th is a “lost” magic you can’t buy or learn from guilds.

Now that I am an apprentice of Maclellan, he sends me off to pick up two medicines from Hybres. There’s nothing to this mission beyond visiting Hybres and returning, but I stopped by mom’s house on the way and she gave some words of encouragement.

Maclellan’s next mission is to get the Eye of Gods from Dal city.

At Dal we learn that impostors picked up the Eye before we got there. A pickpocket named Milene gives us the valuable information that it was stolen by a priest of the Shar Telis religion. Fortunately, we’re joined by Sedantes, who is also investigating the religion — they’re instigating a coup d’etat in the area under the name of General Jal.

After gathering some information at night, we break into the religious stronghold and expose the fake General Jal — it turns out Sedantes is the actual Jal. At last we fight the religious leader, who is backed by none other than Skeletor Croizel, who runs away again. The fight isn’t too hard, but magicians can be annoying in this game because they hide behind the fighters. If they cast sleep it’s especially devastating because there’s no way to wake someone up.

So Kurisu solves this problem, and Jal stays behind to work for liberation. Back at the magic school, Maclellan teaches Kurisu the last basic magic spell, and she is now officially a Low Rank Magician.

One year passes, while Kurisu works on her magic and Romall continues to train as a knight. Eventually we get another mission from Maclellan — go to the ruins of Vamel to look for lost ancient magic. This requires a lot of travelling overland, which means a lot of random encounters, but finally Kurisu reaches Vamel. Along the way, the thief Milene is there again to tell us the sultan of Vamel is scared of the Burud race, and has teamed up with some strange allies to stop them.

At Vamel, the vizier approaches us and tells us about a mission for the Sultan — find the Seal Mark below the city; if we don’t trade that for protection, the Burud will destroy Vamel.

The dungeon has dark areas so I need either the Sunburst spell or torches, neither of which I had, so rather than facing tons of random encounters to go back and get them I just trudged through. The end of the dungeon has us fighting a monster named Jala, who became immortal but was then sealed away. He casts an instant death magic, which is devastating.

You have to fight him twice — the second time he just spammed the instant death spell over and over again and I had no chance. Game over, and I was facing the repetition of about 90 minutes of random encounters to get back to him. Fortunately I had made a save state about 3/4 of the way through because I had to go to work, so I waited until Thursday until my first week of play was up and used that save state. Now that I could speed up through random battles the game got a lot more bearable as well.

The second time I fought him he didn’t use as many of the death spells and I got some lucky resists, so he went down.

Jala wonders why he is sealed away when his sins are nowhere near as BAZOE — this is some evil thing from the past, which is where the silly title comes from (why the exclamation mark, though?)

Now I return to the surface (no escape spell of course). I refused to give the seal to the Sultan, though, and rightly so — it turned out the guy asking for it in exchange for protection was Croizel again, who grabs the seal and runs away. The Sultan wants our help dealing with the Burud, but very soon after this they destroy Vamel and block up the underground passage. Lott blames himself for some reason, but there’s not much we can do — we hope this will prevent Jala from coming out, but who knows?

Kurisu heads back to Seras, and another year passes while she studies magic — she’s now 17. This is about the halfway point (I think) so I’ll stop here. As I said, the story is not bad but the gameplay is a disaster. It’s not the worst of the worst, but they made a lot of bad decisions in the balance and system.

SRPG Game 5 – Lady Phantom wrap-up

Lady Phantom (レディファントム)
Release Date: 11/29/1991  
System: PC Engine (Super CD ROM)
Developer: Shin Nihon Laser Soft
Publisher: Nihon Telenet

FACTS

  1. Turn type: Some sort of speed based system, although it’s not obvious how it works. Characters will sometimes get 2 or even 3 turns in a row, while other times it seems like their turn doesn’t come up for ages.
  2. Maps: Medium to large. Standing on terrain gives no bonuses, but if there is certain terrain between you and an enemy, it reduces hit rate or stops the attack altogether.
  3. Character Customization: You can pick 2 of 3 (later 4) weapons for each character before the stage.
  4. Character Development: Standard XP level system, with all awards given out after the stage is over.
  5. Party Size: 5.
  6. Equipment: None.
  7. Game Flow: 10 stages, one after another, no repeating stages or multiple paths.
  8. Saving: Only between levels.
  9. Death: A defeated character will come back the next stage, and will not get the small XP bonus for stage completion.

IMPRESSIONS

This is very close to just being a strategy game rather than a strategy RPG, but overall it’s decent. The case boasts an “expansive” story but as you may have seen from reading the posts it’s pretty flimsy, even for 1991. None of the characters get more than a slight amount of development and the game is so short there’s not much content there. The decision to make the story scenes only in the cutscenes, with no other dialogue, limited the amount of story they were able to include. The cutscene graphics are also underwhelming, although they’re average from what I’ve seen in other PC Engine games.

The gameplay fares better. Overall I thought it was fun, although a big problem is (like Langrisser) that the battle system is hard to figure out. It seems like any hit can potentially do anything from missing to automatic kill, and it’s not easy to see how the various stats are used to calculate what happens. Weapons have hit rates like “45”, but what does that 45 mean? Percent?

The automatic kill (yuubaku) is a big problem because it adds a huge amount of luck into the game. This is particularly true of the last stage, which is much longer and more difficult than any of the previous stages. Getting your characters to survive through that level is frustrating because of the randomness and the sheer number of enemies you have to fight.

Overall this is not a great game, but it’s short and playable, and I did have fun with it, so it might be worth trying if you want to play a retro strategy game.

Next up is Ninja Burai Densetsu, which is another short, difficult, barely-an-SRPG game.

SRPG Game 5 – Lady Phantom (Stages 7-10)

One note about this game is that there are no bosses or unique enemies; the villains like Makyuras appear only in the cinematic scenes so at times it’s hard to know what they’re actually doing. Even the final stage doesn’t really have a boss.

Stage 7

Erioche is not happy with Makyuras for his repeated failures, and once again says that neither Solon nor Vat really matter to him — he’s just trying to relieve his boredom as one of the immortal survivors of an ancient race. Meanwhile, Lady Phantom gets its next mission — defeat the enemies at the fortress of Sanmartanmyu.

There’s nothing particularly hard about this map; you get the special units again that give you an “extra life”.

Stage 8

Lady Phantom’s action puts the enemies in disarray. Commander Denai has failed in his attack, but his failure increases when Captain Spahn shows up. Spahn lets Denai know that Spahn and his wife were on the civilian ship Denai destroyed, and then kills Denai.

Meanwhile there’s a fanservice scene on the Lady Phantom ship.

But it’s time for the next mission — defeat an enemy force that’s heading near the fortress at Curlint.

This stage is very small, and once again not too difficult. The “hit all enemies” weapons come in handy here given the small area.

Stage 9

One of Captain Spahn’s men comes and asks Lady Phantom for help — they’re suspicious, but when something destroys the man, Jennifer decides to help them out.

This is another short stage. There are new enemies that are quite strong, but there are also NPC units (Spahn’s guys) that soak up hits for you, so it’s not all that hard.

Stage 10

Captain Spahn tells Lady Phantom that these new enemies are pawns of Erioche, who is really just claiming the leadership of Vat — he’s not native to Vat and is just using Vat and Solon for fun. Of course the Lady Phantom people are pissed off at this, but fortunately Spahn knows where Erioche is. Lady Phantom has no orders to go there but they decide to break off from Solon and try to defeat Erioche.

On the planet’s surface, Jennifer reveals to Spahn that they actually aren’t in their mechs. Instead, part of their spirit enters the mech while they stay on their ship and control things. They warn Spahn not to die protecting them (because they won’t die even if their mech explodes). You do get to control Spahn in this final stage.

This is the last stage, and it is much more difficult than any of the preceding ones. You have to make it through three levels of a base, with large numbers of the new powerful enemies. Yuubaku (automatic deaths) are frequent, and at least at the levels I was at there was a fair amount of luck involved. I actually ended up using a save state after each level after my first failure, although I don’t remember whether I actually had to load one or not. Because of this stage, you definitely want to level your guys as much as possible in the previous stages and not take any shortcuts to completing the stages.

However, since XP is only awarded at the end of a stage, the enemies here don’t give any XP (I think this was a bad game design choice). So it’s OK to bypass some units here.

The last map is the hardest one; I don’t have a screenshot of it but one good tip is that you can snipe at the enemies near the stairs to the next level from your starting point. The green mech is particularly good for this. Since all your units will be revived before the final map, as long as you get one unit down the stairs you’re fine.

The group confronts Erioche at the end. He’s happy to see the heroes useless fighting, and has two more units for them to fight. They are Royal Guards with high HP, but for me they died in a few hits to Yuubaku (automatic destruction).

The ending is slightly different depending on if Jennifer, Spahn, neither, or both survived the last stage — there’s barely any change. If Spahn survived them Erioche kills him to set up the next scene.

 Erioche kills Spahn (or he was already dead)

Spahn reveals the truth to Jennifer, that he’s her father. He thought Jennifer and his wife had both died and so joined Vat to get revenge on whoever destroyed their ship. Jennifer tells him to hang on, but he dies.

 Now Jennifer gets angry, and in an unexplained turn says some sort of magic incantation to call down spirits to vanquish the evil before them. This destroys not only Erioche but the entire planet. As far as I could see there’s nothing in the story so far or the instruction manual to explain or even hint at why this could happen.

And thus Lady Phantom leaves Galdoba, and the game ends.

SRPG Game 5 – Lady Phantom (Stages 2-6)

Stage 2

In the opening movie, a being called Elioche is talking to her servant Makuras, who is one of the Vat. He wants to control Galdoba, and tells Makuras about the Solon troop movements. He then grants Makuras his power and wants him to fight against Solon.

Lady Phantom is resting and playing games, but a new mission comes in: to protect a fleet of supply ships being attacked by a pirate gang under Vat command.

Not a hard mission. Only one troop ship has to survive so you can let them soak up some hits (you do get a bit more XP for each one that survives, but not that much). One thing I didn’t mention about the battle system last time is 誘爆 — that’s an automatic chance for any hit to kill anything. The higher a unit’s BL score is, the less likely that is to happen. Great when it happens for you, not great when the enemies get one.

Stage 3

Captain Spahn, leader of the Galdoba Pirates, is talking to his prisoner Princess Sophia. She wonders why he’s being kind to her, and he tells her he wasn’t always a pirate. Meanwhile the Lady Phantoms have a new mission — to infiltrate the fortress Neo Kyuraso and stop the development of new weapons, and also save the princess.

The new units are attachments to the regular units; they have their own weapons and when your HP go to 0 the unit goes away and you’re back to the regular mech. An easy stage with the extra “life” — one annoyance is that when you run out of weapons with the new units, you can’t choose to jettison them.

Stage 4

This is essentially part 2 of the above mission. The cinema sequence has a flashback with Captain Spahn.

A green haired child, who could that be? Yes, it’s our main character Jennifer. This is Captain Spahn when he was “Christopher”. He’s remembering when his ship was attacked by Vat troops and destroyed.


This stage has three floors. Each floor you either have to visit all the X spots to plant bombs, or kill all the enemies. I found the latter easier, even though you don’t recover HP between floors. This could be hard if you get unlucky and your guys get destroyed, but that didn’t happen to me. You can hide behind the computers and desks to block the enemy shots.

Stage 5

Captain Spahn is ready to confront Lady Phantom but when he notices Jennifer’s necklace he gives back the Princess and leaves. Several days later, they have a new mission  — protect trucks holding new weapons.

The mission is basically the same idea as Stage 2; just move ahead of the trucks and kill all the enemies.

Stage 6 

Captain Spahn is at a party with other Vat luminaries. They’re criticizing him for losing the fortress to 5 girls, but during the talk he’s able to figure out that Commander Denai was the one that attacked the civilian ship he was on so they couldn’t notify Solon about what was going on in the battle. Meanwhile Lady Phantom gets their next mission — destroy supply ships so that they can’t reinforce the enemy.

You get new weapon options in this stage. Several people get weapons that hit everyone in range, or everyone in the hexes around the target. With this I just went straight for the supply ships — after playing the rest of the game I think this was a mistake because you want your characters to be at as high a level as possible in stage 10, which is far more difficult than the first 9 stages. But we’ll get to that in the next post.

The story is pretty light since all the development comes in the short cinematic scenes before battles.

SFC Game 28 – Moryo Senki MADARA 2 Review

Overall I would rate this game as below average, unfortunately. I know I’m putting a lot of games in this category — I hope things will improve but maybe at the end of this I’ll find out that I just don’t like SFC RPGs as much as I thought I did!

I’m also considering switching to the review style I’m using on my other blog, but for now I’ll stick to this.

Story/Characters: Both typical for this era. Characters have a minor backstory with a slight amount of development, but once that’s done they hardly exist in the plot. Compared to the general quality of plots I’ve seen in all the games I’ve played so far this one is decent, but it’s never going to stand with the greats of the genre.
  
World: The Madara world is basic fantasy; there are a bunch of different kingdoms and lands but for the most part there’s not much difference between them. 
 
Game Flow: Because of the lack of control over the system, there are a number of choke points where it’s hard to advance without grinding. There are also a fair number of times when it’s hard to know what you’re supposed to do next — usually you can just explore around and you’ll find something to do, though.

 
System: The battle system is disappointing. You mostly just watch things happen, and you have less control over what happens than you would even have in the standard “mash attack” system. Magic costs too much MP so you can’t use it very often, although at least everyone can attack effectively.

Side Quests/Optional Content: Evidently a lot of the characters and events are optional, but I don’t know how much content this equals in total. It’s often hard to tell if you’re on a sidequest or a main quest

Interface: Overall we’re fine by this point — none of the common irritants I’ve complained about in the past are in this game. The one head-scratcher is the way they implemented magic. As I said, there’s nothing inherently wrong with choosing a spell, then who casts it, then the target. But it’s not like any other RPG and I never got used to it.

Graphics/Sound: As one commenter pointed out, the graphics are pretty washed out and hard to see. The character designs make everyone look like 1980s punk rockers.

I finished Lady Phantom today (for the other blog) so I’ll be back on Saturday with the first Bazoo! post. Actually consider this the Saturday post; I’m going to work on the Lady Phantom updates instead and post Bazoo! next Saturday.

SFC Game 28 – Moryo Senki MADARA 2 Part 4 (Finished)

Kurisu and the team of heroes has defeated Dakini, an avatar of Miroku. Dakini declares that he’ll get revenge by sending the heroes to their death, but for some reason this just makes Kurisu wake up back on Earth (they never really explain this). Subaru finds him and they head back to the other world again, finding themselves near the village where the game started. Subaru is now an official party member.

Back in the other world, we find Sakuya at a shrine that was formerly empty. She tells us Miroku is still planning something and tells us to go to Mugenkyo, where Miroku is. Along the way we beat Kanhoryuki again, and then meet Jato, the rabbit mouki who has been annoying us.

Apparently Jato’s real goal was to steal the sword from us and oppose Miroku himself, thus avoiding being just a puppet. You can choose to fight him or not; I let him run away.

In the Mugenkyo we have to defeat three bosses in three towers to open the way to Miroku’s tower; they’re all bosses that we faced before and none of them are especially hard. So now only the final dungeon is left.

Miroku reveals his plan (of course) before killing us — he wants to break out of this cycle that Sakuya and Madara trapped him in, and hopes that if he gets all the Madara avatars together (i.e. our party) he can use our power combined to create a new world where he will rule alone.

Miroku is relatively difficult but I just kept casting spells and using the White Soma (heal everything) and eventually he went down. Of course we haven’t beaten him, he’ll be back in billions of years to threaten Earth again, blah blah blah.

I guess it’s actually 5,600,070,000 years?

Kurisu and Subaru are returned to the surface, wondering if they dreamed it, but they think it was real. There’s a slight bit on what the other characters do as well.

So that’s Madara 2. I’ll do the full review in a week but it was a disappointing game for me; not terrible, but the innovations they tried don’t really work, and with washed out art and a boring battle system it can be a slog.

Next up will be Bazoo! Mahou no Sekai, but remember to check out Lady Phantom (a PCE game) on my other blog.

SRPG Game 5 – Lady Phantom (Introduction and Stage 1)

Lady Phantom (レディファントム)
Release Date: 11/29/1991  
System: PC Engine (Super CD ROM)
Developer: Shin Nihon Laser Soft
Publisher: Nihon Telenet

Next up on my list is another PC Engine game, although this time one that was originally made for the system. The PC Engine is an interesting console because it was a big seller in Japan, competing with the Famicom, Super Famicom, and Mega Drive. In the US it failed, though, and so most of the PCE games were never localized. This game is probably a simulation game rather than an SRPG, but it does meet my two criteria (developing story and named characters who level), so I’ll give it a go.

The Wikipedia article points out that it came out when there were a number of “girls in mechs” series coming out, most notably the Bubblegum Crisis OVAs. The game box emphasizes that they were trying to make something that was “faster” than typical strategy games — primarily this means the limited cast size (only 5 units on each map) and a speed-based turn system rather than player/enemy. Enemy turns could be extremely long and slow on strategy games (and SRPGs) at this time.

The person who sold me the game on Ebay included a page torn from an old Gamepro magazine that described the game. It has some errors but it’s interesting to read an a nice piece of history that I didn’t expect to get (it’s a big image so click on it if you actually want to read the text)

Because there aren’t any English walkthroughs, I wanted to give at least a little idea of how to play the game — it’s not especially hard but there are some potentially confusing menu choices.

The backstory as given in the instruction manual: The war between the Solon Federation of Planets and the Vat Empire suddenly ended in peace. Project Siren, which developed weapons during the war, continued, and resulted in the Lady Phantom squad. The five girls in the squad have been sent to the Galdoba area, which was on the front lines of the war. This area lost trust in both Vat and Solon and has become an unstable neutral area.

ACT 1

The Lady Phantom squad is relaxing after a mission when their superior (I guess) from Lezas Command tells them their next mission: on Megumes in the Galdoba area, there’s a resistance group that wants to overthrow the government and join Vat. We need to stop that from happening, so it’s time for a direct attack on the base.

The five characters are Jennifer Sylkis (green hair), Dora Langenkamp (red), Ramia O’Niel (blue), Cindy Matsunaga (brown), and Elene Myer (yellow). At the start of the mission, the first thing you do is choose weapons. Each character can bring two weapons except for Ramia.

I find the default weapons are fine; typically if you just look at the MG part (which is number of shots) it should give a decent idea of the weapon. RG is the max range and BS is the recommended range for highest hit rate (although I don’t know whether it means exactly 4 or less than 4). RF is the number of shots per attack, PW is the strength, and ST is the hit rate. The manual claims it’s a percentage but 45% seems low for what I’ve seen actually playing so there must be other numbers involved.

Once you finish choosing the weapons, hit 作戦実行 at the bottom and the mission starts.

The game has a speed based turn system, although it’s a rather confusing one because people often get multiple turns in a row for no clear reason that I can see (I’ve seen as many as 4 actions in a row for one of my guys).

Each unit has five options:

They are:

  • 移動 (move)
  • 攻撃 (attack)
  • 進撃 (advance)
  • 狙撃 (snipe)
  • 警戒 (caution)

Move and attack are paired — if you do one, you have to do the other. So if you only want to attack or move, you have to pick the “advance” (move double distance) or “snipe” (attack with higher percentage) actions. Caution is defend.

Who you can attack depends on range, but also which way you’re facing and whether there are obstacles in the way. The game has a lot of walls and objects you can hide behind. There’s also increased hit rates for attacking from sides or back. If someone is defeated, they exit the stage and earn no more XP for that mission. At the end of the mission, each unit gets an automatic XP for finishing the mission, another 3 if they survived, and then XP for each unit they defeated (individually).

AT and DF should be obvious. AC is speed, PT gives you a better chance of counterattacking, and PR “affects various things” according to the manual.

These battle screens can be turned off

Some stages, like the first one, have multiple maps. Anyone destroyed in the first map doesn’t come back for the second one so you have to be careful.

Attack range

That’s more or less the gameplay — it’s relatively basic but I’m finding it reasonably fun so far. I’m up to act 5 now so I’ll make another post later in the week covering the next few stages.

SFC Game 28 – Moryo Senki MADARA 2 Part 3

I didn’t get as much time to play as I thought this week so I’m not quite finished. But the last post and the review will give me a buffer of a couple of weeks while I play Lady Phantom on the other blog.

I complained about the battle system last time; one additional complaint I have is that the spells are too slow. The battles move quickly for the most part, until you or an enemy cast a spell — then it pauses for a while, shows an animation for each person that gets affected, then shows the damage individually for each character. It’s far too slow given what they’re trying to make the battle system to be.

Tablet 3

I am now starting to find the best equipment for some people — this seems early, but each character has one particular equipment that boosts their attack or defense much more than anyone else who equips the stuff.

We’re off to Fasie kingdom in the southwest, where the king seems to have been charmed by a priest of some cult, which is causing all kinds of strife around the kingdom.

We meet a girl at the bar named Marf, who is a treasure hunter that wants to go out to the ruins, but when we follow her out there she gets trapped by an earthquake. It turns out she is actually the princess of the kingdom, so it’s imperative to save her — fortunately there’s a secret route into the ruins. We have to fight this mouki named Kanhoryuki again, but he’s not very hard. In general the bosses in this game are not especially difficult, with some notable exceptions. They tend to have very low HP, in some cases almost the same HP as the grunts in the same dungeon. On the other hand, the damage the bosses do can be very high. You can be in a situation where the grunt enemies do 3-5 damage and the bosses do 600.

The main purpose of these ruins turns out not to be a tablet, but just an old etching that tells us some back story of the world — Madara, Miroku, and Sakuya are three beings from outer space that fought a huge war, but then they agreed to cooperate to destroy, help, and rebirth the world in a cycle. Of course Miroku has ignored that and wants the power for himself.

Incidentally I’m also learning that a lot of the stuff in this game is optional; you don’t have to get all of the people on your team or do stuff like this to win the game.

We still have to solve the issue of this evil priest. Next up we continue to an area with a magic school (finally a shop to buy magic; there aren’t many of these in the game).  We’re looking for a guy named Zaras but he is shut up in an observatory with Mouki. Once he’s saved, and we beat a mouki that was hiding in the magic school, it’s back to Fasie. Now that Zaras trusts us, we can borrow priest clothing from a guy in a monastery, and then sneak into the church. Unfortunately Daharka (the evil priest) recognizes us immediately and throws us into the Valley of the Dead. He hopes we’ll die there.

But the enemies are just what we’ve been facing before so it’s not that hard to escape, and then beat Daharka. Unfortunately this doesn’t give us a tablet, so I don’t know what the point was — off to a desert town in the south where we finally do find the third tablet held by a mouki. I’m not sure if some even in the Daharka sequence was necessary to get this to happen, but there’s no obvious story connection between the two.

Tablet 4

Next we head to Yamahiko town to supposedly learn why Madara is destroying the world although I’m not sure we ever do learn that — instead we meet a guy named Koga Saburou who wants us to add a guy named Basara to our team. I didn’t follow this part of the story completely but for some reason Koga burns down the town in order to have Basara escape his destiny of destroying things, however that works.

We then have to deal with Bunkan in the nearby capital, who is using a fake Emperor Dakini to rule the destroyed Cosara Kingdom. We’ll have to wait until near the end to deal with Dakini, but now at least we can dispatch Bunkan, and then Koga lets himself die in order to free Basara from his fate — once again, I’m not sure exactly what was going on there.

The last tablet is in the basement of Rasen Castle in the north, but the tablet will not let us take it without proving ourselves. To do that we have to beat the Mouki that are being used by a rival army. We do so, but it turns out we were just a decoy while the main force destroyed the rival army’s castle — oh well, at least we get the last tablet.

Tablet 5

Finally we can return all the way to Jofuku who initially sent us on this quest, and he reminds us that the 5th tablet is north of the Great Wall. The 4 tablets so far open the Great Wall, and we proceed to the north.


In the north we have to seek out the camp of the Mukuri tribe, which changes based on the “season” — instead of day and night, this has four seasons, but it’s basically the same thing and doesn’t affect the game most of the time. At the camp, the last party member, Chaos, joins us. He leads us to the labyrinth where we find the final tablet. Now at least Kurisu can get to Yuiman to find Subaru.

The passage to Yuiman is in the Castle at the End of the World, where we use the 5 tablets. A fake castle is set up by Kanhoryuki who we fight yet again, but upon beating him, the way to Yuiman is open. Of course that rabbit mouki Jato tries to run up and get to Yuiman, but we finally manage to block him rather than just letting him do whatever.

Yuiman

Sakuya is waiting for Kurisu in Yuiman. Subaru is there also, but only her spirit. Her body is still with Emperor Dakini. To get to Dakini, there’s another multi-fetch quest, this time to get the Yato Mirror, the Nisakani Jewel, and the Kusanagi Sword. The first two are in Yuiman, but the Kunasagi Sword is in a part of Yawato Kingdom (in the overworld) that we never got to. This is accessed by a cave north of Sakuya’s town.

Wait a minute — we spent over 50% of the game getting tablets to open up Yuiman, and all that time there was a passage there in Yawato that just had one dude guarding it (who probably would have let us past since he works for Sakuya). Why did the designers do that?

Anyway, once the three treasures are recovered we can finally return to Kosara Kingdom and beat Dakini. The first time I fought him, I thought it was an auto-lose story battle because he killed everyone except Kurisu in one hit. But no, this is actually what you have to fight.

His HP are rather low like most of the bosses, so it’s mostly a matter of casting spells really quickly and hoping he attacks Kurisu, who can be healed. As you can see two of my guys died but I did manage to beat him.

Of course Dakini is just an avatar of Miroku so the game’s not over yet — there’s only about 10% of the game left but I’ll cover it in the last post.

SFC Game 28 – Moryo Senki MADARA 2 Part 2

I’m not a big fan of Madara’s battle system. As I understand it, it’s similar (or exactly the same?) as the one in Madara 1. It’s a real time system where your characters and the enemies run around on a battlefield, reminiscent of Star Ocean. But you have no real options in combat. You can select a target, or use magic or items. You can’t tell a wounded character to run away from the enemies, all you can do is watch them run in to get hit again and hope someone can get a heal spell off. You can’t have a character stay away from the enemies to cast spells. You can’t directly control anyone, or give them any direction. It becomes frustrating because too often you’re watching the characters do dumb stuff and there’s nothing you can do. This may also be why I’ve had to do more grinding in this game than in any game I’ve played up to now except Hokuto no Ken 5. When you give the player strong enemies and virtually no strategic options, grinding is the only way to progress in the game.

Now Kurisu has set out to find Subaru as the chosen hero. After solving the problem in the first area he’s able to pass the barrier to the next kingdom, where there are several towns that have their own problems with the Mouki monsters, and the capital that doesn’t want anything to do with you.

This includes a village who can’t fish because a mouki has taken over the lighthouse, and a mine that can’t mine anything because of Mouki. Both of these problems are fairly easy to solve, and along the way a wounded man named Seishinja joins the party. He can use healing spells. The fishing village allows you to deliver fish to the capital and then get the cook Fuyou to join you; she has also lost her memory.

Once Kurisu deals with the mine the guards are willing to let us past so we can talk to the sage Tataru and the king of the land. They want us to find a sword that was taken from the kingdom, and Tataru will try to find Subaru’s whereabouts while we’re gone. Jato (the rabbit enemy) is the one who stole the sword — apparently he is looking for the way to the Yuiman Kingdom, where Sakuya-hime is.

This requires a trip to a village where they take a turtle to an island, and meet some mermaids. After solving the mermaids’ Mouki problem (everyone has one!) they recover the sword and return to the capital.

Tataru tells us that Subaru seems to be in Yuiman, but that he also detects something like Subaru from a tower to the north. So of course we head there and it turns out that her blood is being used to bring back Emperor Dakini, an avatar of Miroku. We beat the priest but the ritual still succeeds, and Dakini seems to come back in a spiritual form, but not complete. This also somehow destroys the entire kingdom, so all the towns and castles are rubble. I guess it’s time to move on to the next kingdom, then. Tataru did make it through, and he suggests that in Roran Kingdom we may be able to get information about Yuiman from another sage.

This other sage gives us the usual “mid-game overarching fetch quest” — we have to find 5 stone tablets that will open the way to Yuiman. And we better do it fast because Dakini is building power.

Tablet 1

The first tablet is in a cave. A nearby town is having earthquake problems, but beating the nearby Mouki doesn’t help. It turns out that actually it was the tablet’s spirit itself that was causing the earthquakes to alert humans to the danger (huh!?)

Only a true hero can take the tablet, but that’s Kurisu, of course.

Tablet 2

There are three small kingdoms at the south of the continent that are ruled by siblings. The brothers have started wars against each other and Mouki have invaded the sister’s kingdom. But they do have a stone tablet in the mausoleum if all three siblings use their keys to open it — so it’s time to solve the problem here. The sister (Bibishii) gives us a letter to let us in to the other kingdoms. One brother won’t meet us anyway, but the second is actually a Mouki. I had to do some grinding to beat him, but eventually I was able to.

It turns out that this king, Madara, was captured by a small island kingdom to the south with the help of Jato, and this Mouki replaced him. So we head down there and rescue Madara, who then decides to join us. There’s an interesting fight then against one of Jato’s monsters, but even if you lose, the game continues. Jato had been controlling the king of this small island kingdom but one of his underlings breaks the mind control. This solves all the problems, and with the 3 keys united, we’re able to go into the catacombs and get the second tablet. Madara also joins the party.

That’s all I’ve done for now — 3 tablets left.

One final annoyance — the way you cast magic is to first choose the spell, then who casts it. In theory there’s nothing wrong with this but it’s the opposite of every other RPG and I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to it.