Monthly Archives: October 2019

SFC Game 40 – Monster Maker 3

Monster Maker 3: Magician of Light (モンスターメーカー3 光の魔術師)
Released 12/24/1993, developed by Sofel

Monster Maker is a franchise that started out as a card game but grew to include a CCG, a tabletop RPG, manga, and such. There were a number of video games based on the franchise as well. The first couple of games used card mechanics and apparently were somewhat innovative, but after that they switched to a regular RPG format.

Monster Maker 3 seems to get a lot of criticism for its high encounter rate (even for 1993), unfair random encounters that can kill you quickly, and large dungeons with traps. This site has good maps for the game, which are useful. At least the fights give good rewards so that you level quickly.

The game begins in the manner of Dragon Quest IV — you name your hero but then have to go through some preliminary chapters that introduce other characters.

Chapter 1 begins with Alshark, a fighter who hopes to become a knight. He gets his chance when the king puts out a call for people to defeat a monster in a nearby castle, and save a foreign princess.


As I said before, the random encounter rate is very high. Another problem is that twice now the game has frozen during combats, so I will be using bsnes’ auto save state feature to deal with this. In combat, the characters move around the field and can only attack within their range. So it’s a little more than just the usual AMID battle system but it boils down to basically the same thing. Unfortunately it has another feature of older games in that the magic users’ MP is so low that you can’t really use their spells freely. 

Make sure you stay out of the forests because there are monsters in there that do “scream” attacks that hit everyone and do big damage.

Alshark has to go through a cave to get to the monster castle, both of which have a bunch of traps in them that you have to pull switches to disable. The castle fortunately has a save point in it. There are also strange notes here and there from the “captured princess” warning you of traps and pointing you to where keys are.

Eventually there’s a boss.


So far I haven’t found grinding to be an issue because the encounter rate is so high. Since it’s just Alshark there’s not much I can do except attack and heal.

It turns out that this “monster” was charmed by the elf princess Roryeen, who set up this whole scenario to find a strong fighter who could join her in figuring out what’s going on with all the increased monster activity. But the king is still happy and awards Alshark his knighthood, and a mission to go south to Kyubikku, which has been ravaged by kobolds.

Roryeen has a bow so she can sit at the back and shoot the enemies. Sometimes she gets 2 or 3 shots but I haven’t figured out exactly when this happens. The encounter above is a fixed encounter — in addition to random encounters there are occasionally fixed encounters you can see walking around. Typically these are harder, as in the above case. That thing at the back uses the scream attack for big damage, and the kobolds can try to block your access to it.


Eventually Alshark and Roryeen reach the kobold king and defeat him, upon which he wakes up from some sort of mind control and wonders what’s going on. Rather than solve that puzzle, our heroes move on to the next village, where a monster is demanding sacrificial victims from the people. Roryeen offers to be the next victim, hoping Alshark will save her, but this is where chapter 1 ends.

Chapter 2 moves to the elf kingdom, where Prince Ersais is wondering where Roryeen has gone, and he and Sarla go out to find her. After making their way out of the forest, they come to a mining town where an angry dragon is menacing the miners. The dragon is calling for her child, wondering what she did to humans to deserve this. So we go to a “monster maker” house nearby to find the small dragon locked in the basement along with other monsters.


The monster maker was asked to keep these monsters by this pink haired mysterious woman below, but the monster maker sacrifices himself to let us escape and take the small dragon back to the mother, who then lets us pass.


Now Ersais and Sarla are able to make it through the kobold cave to get to the same place as chapter 1, where Alshark is wondering how to save Roryeen. They manage to sneak in and confront the monster, and Roryeen who is annoyed that it took so long for us to get there.


The key to this fight is to keep casting the spell that seals magic, otherwise Barbara will use hit-all magic spells that do a lot of damage. Once we save Roryeen, a pegasus takes us back to the castle to hear the stock JRPG cliches — darkness is coming on the world and we need to find the girl who is the chosen warrior of light, etc. Chapter 2 then ends and we shift locations again.

I think that this game is OK, but if I were not using the dungeon maps and emulator speedup it would be a lot more frustrating to play. There’s also a no encounters cheat code which might be helpful. But the graphics are decent and the interface is fine, with one quirk. I don’t understand how the shop interface works in showing you the stats of the weapons compared to your equipped ones. The important thing is that if no numbers are shown that means the weapon or armor is better than what you have equipped, but that doesn’t really make sense.

SRPG Game 25 – Record of Lodoss War

Record of Lodoss War (ロドース島戦記:英雄戦争)
Release Date: 5/20/1994
System: Mega Drive CD
Developer: Group SNE
Publisher: Sega

Unlike my other blog, I haven’t made any strict rules for how long I have to play each game. Considering I have over 500 games on my SRPG list, I wanted to be flexible so that I could deal with bad games quickly, particularly bad games that are long or difficult. This game is a bad game; I’ve played a few hours of it, which is apparently about a third of the game, and I don’t think it’s going to get any better. It’s by far the worst game I’ve played so far.

In many ways it looks similar to the PC Engine Lodoss War, which I played on my other blog. I actually thought that game was fairly good, so I was hoping this one would be decent as well — alas.

To give a brief background, Lodoss War is a franchise that began as “replays”. These were written acocunts of RPG sessions (such as Dungeons and Dragons) that were published in magazines. These seem to have been quite popular in Japan, and I’ve seen several other series from the 90s that began this way. From there, the franchise expanded to novels, anime, games, and other properties.

The game opens with a vocal song and an intro, which is the typical “animated images” sequence that they used on this system and the PC Engine.

When the game actually starts, though, there’s a real full motion anime clip. I assume this is taken from the OVA series although it’s been so long since I’ve seen it I don’t remember.

But I think this also shows why companies were reluctant to try full motion video on the PCE and Sega CD. The Genesis was rather limited in the number of colors it could display, and the anime clips look pretty bad in consequence. Perhaps it seemed impressive at the time since most systems (PCs included) were not really capable of doing FMV at the time.

Afterwards Parn and Eito, the beginning characters, head out to deal with some zombies appearing in the town cemetery. In the town you just choose the location you want to go to.

This may be the first game where the direction you’re facing makes a difference. But the interface is a mess; you can’t view the whole map or see the enemy information. Spellcasters can’t use spells after they move, which makes it really hard to use some of the magic. The healing is weak enough as it is, and it makes it even weaker to restrict it to pre-move 1-range. You can’t move past your own guys, and the narrow corridors in many battles (such as the above) make it too easy to get trapped when you get 6 characters in the party. If the spellcasters are blocking the way they have to waste a turn moving (where they can’t cast spells). In stores you can’t see who can equip anything, the stats of the equipment, or even what the items cost. This is completely unacceptable for 1994.

The story is pretty simplistic; it’s following the OVA (I guess) but there’s only a few lines of dialogue at a time.

So this game is bad, but it also gets very difficult after the first few battles. You can train in an arena in one of the towns, but only the person who makes the kill gets XP. There’s really no reason to play this game, which may explain why it was so hard to find even basic information or videos. I did finally come across one small walkthrough but that person said the game was bad also. The contemporary Famitsu reviews were 6,5,4,4  which is pretty bad too.

Next up will be the small concluding scenario of Shining Force CD.

PCE Game 26 – Ys IV: Dawn of Ys

Ys IV: The Dawn of Ys (イースフォー ザドーンオブイース)
Released 12/22/1993, developed by Hudsonsoft

 

The Ys series has a strange history. The first three games came out for computers, and then were ported to many different consoles. Up until very recently, Falcom did not employ any console programmers, so they always outsourced their console ports to other developers.

Ys IV is an interesting case because there are actually three versions of the game. In 1993 Falcom did not make a computer Ys IV, but instead outsourced the development to two different companies. Tonkin House brought out Mask of the Sun for the Super Famicom, and Hudson brought out a completely different game Dawn of Ys for the PC Engine. Both games were confusingly labelled “Ys IV”. Almost 20 years later, Falcom developed Ys: Memories of Celceta, which was a completely new game in the same setting that is now considered the canonical Ys IV.

Back to 1993, Dawn of Ys is superior to Mask of the Sun in every way. It’s a followup to Ys I&II, going back to the traditional “run into enemies” gameplay and involving a lot of voiced dialogue and a few cutscenes (more of both than Ys I&II had).

This is also unusual among PC Engine CD games in that it actually has a full patch. As I’ve said before, fan translators have a tough time with PCE CD games because, a least in all the games I’ve played so far, they have a lot of voiced dialogue with no subtitles. But for Ys IV someone actually made a full fan dub of the game, plus a translation patch for the rest of the text. So this will be more of an overall review than a step-by-step account of the game.

I’ve wanted to play this game for a long time. I remember somehow knowing about this game when I was a kid, even though it never came out in the US. It must have appeared in some magazine as a possible upcoming game?

The game opens with Adol and Dogi returning to Esteria, where Ys I took place. But he’s only there briefly before he sets out for Celceta where a new adventure awaits. The opening cinematic sequence is like all the PC Engine games; a combination of voice, still pictures, and slightly animated pictures. Some baddies are trying to revive an evil demon of some sort — a familiar sight in RPGs. They fail, of course. Adol arrives in Esteria and soon meets several important NPCs, including Karna.

The battle system, as I said, is the same “run into enemies” as before.

I feel like the screen is a little bit squished; I feel like they could have reduced the size of the border and the HUD at the bottom while still allowing it to be within the PCE’s processing power, but maybe I’m wrong.

If you’ve played Ys I&II you will be in very familiar territory in thise game. I think that after Ys III, Hudson wanted to repeat the success of I&II by making basically the same game in a different setting. The graphics are somewhat better but the game is the same length as I&II, roughly.

At times another character (usually Karna or Dogi) will accompany you. They can kill enemies often in one or two hits, which is somewhat helpful, but it also means they’re stealing your XP.

Because this game has a full translation patch I don’t want to give away too much. The story is run-of-the mill, but the voice adds some memorableness to the villains.

In the first section of the game, Adol is solving various small problems that pop up while trying to figure out what’s going on in Celceta. Eventually the main villains are revealed — the “Clan of Darkness”, who is working with a winged being to revive a lost castle.

At the same time, Adol gains control over the ancient magics of Celceta while learning the backstory of what happened to the land. There’s a neat part where you get to return to Esteria and even go to Darm Tower again, complete with the music from Ys I (fortunately you find a secret passage so it’s nowhere near as long a dungeon).

In contrast to Ys I&II, many of the bosses require you to use the fire or freeze magic to shoot at them. Otherwise as always you have to figure out the attack patterns of the bosses, and when and where you can hit them. Of course, being at the proper level helps as well. There’s a very useful item you can get later in the game that slows your movement but every non-boss enemy dies in one hit. With this item, grinding is much more manageable.

 Overall the playing experience was very smooth. There was only one part that really annoyed me — I didn’t get a screenshot, but you have to make it through an area where jets of flame come up periodically, and if you touch even a pixel of the flames, you die. What makes it worse is that Dogi is following you, and if any pixel touches him then you get a game over as well. So you not only have to learn the pattern but make sure you move so that Dogi doesn’t lag behind and get caught up in the flames. I probably died 25-30 times trying to get through this…and you have to do it twice! Fortunately the second time is without Dogi, but come on.

If you are a fan of the older Ys games, or retro action RPGs, there is no reason not to play this. It’s one of the best from this era.

Ys will appear one more time on this blog, with Ys V for the Super Famicom in 1995.

SRPG Game 24 – Super Robot Taisen EX

As with the previous Super Robot Taisen games, this is a collection of message board posts from over 10 years ago when I played this game. They are somewhat sparse because I found it hard to say much about this game — the story is virtually nonexistent and until you get to Shu’s route (the third one) the game is brain-dead easy. Apparently this was an intentional choice by the designers to get kids interested who didn’t remember the old 70s anime series that the previous games were largely based on.

Eight months after SRW 3, the next game, called SRW EX, came out. EX is an oddball in the franchise — although the focus is on the original characters and the whole thing takes place in La Gias, there are licensed characters in the game as well. It’s the first time the idea of the original main character appeared (even though the main characters had all been in SRW 3).

This is somewhat speculative, but from what I’ve seen on Japanese sites, it looks like the early SRW games did not sell particularly well. Apparently the games were seen as being mostly for adults that remembered the Super Robot anime from the 70’s — this also explains the major focus on Gundam that is seen in the early games. Supposedly SRW EX was an attempt to reach out to younger players who were not familiar with the old robot anime.

All the series from 3 return, minus Daitarn 3, Combattler V, and Raideen. New series appearing are Goshogun and Aura Battler Dunbine.

The system is based on SRW 3 but takes more steps towards the modern SRW engine. The changes I know of are:
– Once you see the hit percentages, you can now hit B to take the attack back.
– You can now upgrade weapons.
– The numbers have been scaled up a lot (i.e. Cosmo Nova was 2000 in SRW 3, and 6800 in EX).
– If a robot has multiple pilots, they can now all use seishin rather than just the main pilot.
– In SRW 3, all range 1 (and only range 1) weapons were post-move; EX adds the “P” designation that later SRWs have to show that a weapon is post range (and it’s not just all range 1s).
– The animations in EX are a little more dynamic — weapons now appear on the sprites, and the sprites can move in all directions (not just left and right).
– You still can’t decide on the fly whether to dodge, block, or counter. But now you can decide between “always dodge/block”, “always counter”, etc. on a per-unit basis rather than having to just select one option for your whole team.
– MAP attacks now have animations

There are three different routes in the game; I will be starting with Masaki’s.

Stage M1 – Disturbance in Langran

Compare this stage to the first stage of SRW 3, and you can see that they were going for an easier fight. 1 vs. 5 here, and SRW 3’s first fight is 9 vs. 18 (including the reinforcements). You can win this fight in one turn with Cyflash.

Kuro and Shiro, Masaki’s familiars, make their first appearance here. They have never been mentioned before (unless they were in Hero Senki?) [2019 Kurisu: They are not in Hero Senki]

Surprisingly, they did not reuse the SRW 3 sprites:
[2019 Kurisu: Sorry for the photobucket watermarks; it would take too long to get the original images and fix that]
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Stage M2 – The Summoning

In SRW 3, this stage would have been hard. You fight Jerid, Kakricon, the three Black Stars, and some grunts, and your only decent units are Goshogun and Cybuster. But here it’s pretty easy. Even the named units go down easily.

Goshogun makes its debut here, although from what I understand, the robot never actually joins you properly during EX.

There is a lot more dialogue in this game than there was in SRW 3.

Stage M3 – Attack at Imortal

Mio appears in the Diablo here.
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Kouji and Sayaka also show up here. Here’s the Mazinger comparison so far:
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But this is kind of interesting; jumping the gun a little bit but look at the SRW 4 Mazinger:

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It looks like they went back to the SRW 3 sprites after EX.

Stage M4 – Aura Battlers

Aura Battler Dunbine enters SRW with Shou in the Bilvine and Marvel Frozen in the Dunbine:
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This stage is the first one to represent a very slight challenge; the floating fortress has a lot of HP and can do some decent damage. But really just smack him around with Mazinger and you’ll be fine. Unfortunately you still can’t see how much damage you’re doing if the guy has over 10,000 HP. I hope they fix this by 4.

Stage M5 – Holy Girl
Stage M6 – Solatis Temple
Stage M7 – Demon Hack

These stages are pretty repetitive; just fighting one type of enemy (mostly demon golems) on each one. Stage 5 actually presents the first real challenge of the game; you have Ruozor who gets double move, but you can’t kill him. So you just have to hope he doesn’t kill anybody before you get the demon golems.

Stage M8 – Coral Canyon
Stage M9 – Coral Canyon again

Stage 8 is just a story sequence; basically the idea of these two stages is that Leena was kidnapped so you fight ZZ and F91 for a few turns until she gets saved. Tytti also appears (her name is often spelled Tootie or Tutie but Tytti is a real scandinavian name).

Now a little digression on why this game is boring. It’s very similar to SRW 3 in that the story is pretty thin — it’s basically just “Now we’re going to place X, uh-oh, more enemies.” The Shutedonias Army is basically the Divine Crusaders with a couple of new mechs. The main difference is that the named characters lack the background that the source anime give them. Jog and the woman from this stage are completely unmemorable because they have no backgrounds and no personalities.

M10-M16

I really don’t have much to say about these stages because they are almost the same. The maps are so easy that there’s no individuality to the boards (you just use MAP attacks and everything dies, including the bosses). The story is still lacking but Shuu has come in so I guess it might get a bit more interesting. I’m looking forward to 4, though.

Ryuune 1-3

Ryuune’s route so far is similar to Masaki’s, but with fewer MAP attacks. The enemy groups are the same, though. For this route I get Getter G, Zeta, and Nu Gundam, all welcome sights.

Stage 4-7 (Ryuune)

This route takes place at the same time as Masaki’s, but shows another side of the story (with Kirkus’ armies). Kind of an interesting idea, but the plot is just too thin for it to be interesting. So far Ryuune’s route is a little harder than Masaki’s, but not a whole lot. There’s a lot of good terrain to sit on with EN regeneration.

(Sorry these updates are short; EX is pretty boring so I’m not that motivated to make longer updates or post screenshots.)

Still snoring along, up to Ryuune 12 now. Hathaway Noah is a character in this game; he’s a rare character in SRW. Other than that, Ryuune’s route is pretty much the same as Masaki’s route so I don’t have much more comment.

Stage R13 – Protect Zeb Temple

This stage was actually fairly hard. You have to kill all the enemies in 9 turns. I was able to make almost 200,000 from Luck plus the good enemies, but I finished the stage with almost the last attack on stage 9.

Ryuune agrees to a date with Zash (Kirkus’ son); I guess Masaki has a rival now. Maybe this will be continued in MK part 2.

I finished Ryuune’s route; the final stage is semi-hard, against 2 Valsion Kais and the Eurid. It wasn’t too bad, though. The key to the game, like most of the early SRWs, is to update all your most powerful non-beam attacks. You can kill a Valsion Kai each round until they’re dead, then go after Eurid. Put your battleship out in front because the enemies like to attack it; 5 or 6 guys should have Love seishin, which is enough to keep your HP up.

Here are pictures of the two bosses so far (the Draxil and the Eurid):

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[2019: This is in a response to the usefulness of the Dunbine units in the SNES version compared to the Playstation remake] Raising them to 130 morale in the original version is too hard, because they have no defensive seishin, and there just aren’t enough enemies. You would basically have to kill one enemy, end turn, kill a second enemy, end turn, etc. until you kill 5 or 6. You can’t really use counterattacks, since you can’t pick counter or dodge on a per-attack basis (also you can’t upgrade mobility and there’s no items, so the famed 0% of AB units is not in this game). In Masaki’s route it’s much faster just to use Breast Fire and Thunder Break to kill the Vorkruss parts. I agree with mediocrity that they are almost certainly better in the CB version.

I played through Shu 7. His route is kind of fun, because Shu is neat, but the gameplay is still mostly the same maps as before. This was a LOL:
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Safine: Watch very carefully, so that Monica doesn’t get her hands on Shu!
Chika: You don’t have to worry about that, Safine. My master has so little interest in women that I sometimes wonder if he’s gay.

(Maybe that’s only funny because they made Shu’s voice actor Koyasu Takehito.)

Shu’s route is the hardest in the original game. In Stage 9 you can get the Sazabi and a Doven Wolf but you have to beat all the enemies in 6 turns, without Granzon. It’s tough, but you can do it if you have Safine focus on the Quin Mantha, and take out the Dai with a hot blood MAP attack from Quattro.
Beat the game. Shu’s route is definitely better than the other two, although it is harder. What you want to do is get all the optional units and characters. Fully upgrade Granzon’s Black Hole Cluster, Solgadi’s most powerful attack, Terius’ mech’s most powerful attack, and Sazabi’s fin funnels. For the final stage vs. True Vorkruss you can set up all your guys outside of his attack range (one person has to be in his range, though, or he’ll move) and kill him in 2 or 3 turns:
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Safine will be an enemy in the last stage if her level is 30 or lower. After the battle, Monica says this:
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Monica: Safine…she was vulgar, domineering, sadistic, masochistic, a nymphomaniac, a bad person, and there was nothing you could do about it…even so…

This is her quote in the character database of Alpha Gaiden; I always wondered what the context was. (It always sounded to me like she was saying this to Safine, and I wondered what came after the “so…”, which turns out to be “she didn’t deserve to die like that”) However, I think having Safine die is not canon because she’s in 4.

Finally I’m done with EX. As I said in earlier posts, this is not a very good game. It’s definitely the worst SRW I have played so far. Shu’s route was kind of fun, but that’s about it.

SRPG Game 23 – Hiouden: Pact with the Monsters wrap-up

 FACTS

  1. Turn type: Player turn/enemy turn
  2. Maps: Medium to large. There is terrain that gives bonuses.
  3. Character Customization: None.
  4. Character Development: Standard XP level system, with promotion at level 10 with an item.
  5. Party Size: Typically 12-15 units on a map although you get many more.
  6. Equipment: You can equip one weapon at a time, and have 3 in reserve. There is no other equipment.
  7. Game Flow: You play stages 1-20 in sequence, no repeats, and if you fulfill certain conditions you can do the last two stages.
  8. Saving: Between battles.
  9. Death: Permanent.

 IMPRESSIONS

I mentioned in the introduction that I almost missed this game. It was on my RPG list for my other blog with a question mark, and when I went to check it I realized it was actually a SRPG. I’m glad I caught it because it’s pretty good. They did an admirable job of taking the computer game and translating it to the SNES, working within the limitations of the system but still giving a satisfying experience. The music, composed by Sakuraba, is obviously good, and it was fun to see all the things that will appear again a few years later in Tales of Phantasia.
However, there are some flaws that I think prevented the game from crossing from good into great. The game needs a way to slow down the speed, as well as set up a pause during a spellcast. Sometimes the game moves so quickly that you can have a character go from full HP to dead in literally a second or two, and at times I had to basically unpause the game and then immediately click to pause it again. It’s impossible to tell what’s happening in these situations.
Second, it’s too easy for your guys to get stuck when you have all 6 squads (24 units). Especially in narrow areas (but even in wide areas sometimes) your units will get trapped in the middle of other squads and it can be very hard to maneuver them. You also can’t keep them away from the damage floors, and it’s hard to make sure the right people are at the front.
Having said all that, I did enjoy the game for the most part, and it’s well worth a try with the fairly recent translation patch. The story is a little thin but for 1994 it’s not bad.

SRPG Game 23 – Hiouden: Pact with the Monsters (Stages 16-20)

Stage 16

This stage is like stage 5, putting you in the middle of a bunch of enemies. But then there are other groups that pop up afterwards. Despite the huge amount of enemies, the open field made it much easier to maneuver my guys and overall I didn’t find it especially difficult.

Stage 17

This stage is rough. You have to put spheres in altars, each one breaking open an area of the map. Each fight is against 3-5 boss class monsters, and there are no healing areas to recover MP. Now that I know the whole game, I would recommend using some of your MP restoring items on this map. The last set of enemies, which is the most and the strongest, can be avoided just by setting the AI to flee and having one group up near the exit to use the orb as soon as you get it.

Stage 18

This is another hard stage, mostly because of the huge number of enemy spellcasters, and the narrow corridors which make it hard to maneuver your guys into effective combat positions. It got much easier once I abandoned my attempt to equally level my guys and just sent my two strongest squads at the vanguard. It was still tough, though.

Stage 19

This is another stage where your team gets split up. Since I was on the second to last stage I decided to see what would happen if I just let them fight without using any items or tactics. I used a couple of healing potions on the boss. I lost 7 guys but I decided to keep a save at the beginning of 19 and go on to 20 to see if I could beat the game.

Stage 20 

This stage has some initial enemies, and also the final boss who has a lot of HP. However, since you can use all your items here (unless you want to save some for a second playthrough) I didn’t find it that bad. By the end of the stage I had used all my life potions and a good chunk of my healing items, but I won in the end.


The ending scene is fairly long and also seems like it covers another 2-3 games worth of content.

Afterwards, you start back on stage 1 with all your levels and items intact, and stronger enemies. You can keep playing through again and again.

Instead, I’ll move on. Wrap-up post to follow, then my old message board posts for Super Robot Taisen EX, and then maybe Lodoss War. It’s hard to tell whether it’s a genuine SRPG or not.

SRPG Game 23 – Hiouden: Pact with the Monsters (Stages 8-15)

One interesting side note about this game is how many of the spells later show up in the early Tales games — Tractor Beam, Thunder Blade, Explosion, First Aid, Nurse, Resurrection, and a bunch of others.

Stage 8

Now we’re exploring the depths of the castle to find the King’s Sword. This is a pretty annoying stage; a big maze.

This stage gives me the 6th party so now I have 24 total characters. They tend to get stuck if they’re all trying to move at the same time through a narrow area like this. I did some splitting up here because you have to flip switches at various places around the maze to open doors, ending with the switch at the bottom left which reveals the stairs.

Stage 9

The instruction manual warns you to keep your party’s levels even, and stages like this are why. You have to flip 6 switches, but this requires taking each party on a warp and fighting some enemies. So if each of your parties can’t deal with the enemies you’re in trouble.

Afterwards, there’s a boss mummy who has to be beaten twice. The second time was harder, and I had to reload a bunch of times before I finally beat it without getting hurt.

Now Richard has the Sword of Kings, and we venture out beyond the castle.

Stage 10

The next few stages are outdoors as we head for another tower. This stage is fairly simple, the main gimmick is a set of bridges you have to break to cross the river, and there are mines to hurt your characters. There are also a lot of promotion items.

Apparently this stage was so simple I forgot to get a screenshot.

Stage 11

This stage has us breaking down a bunch of spear barriers with the mattock, and fighting catapults.


I continued trying to catch up some of my lower leveled characters. Apparently I found out later that there is a secret stage you can access by going to a particular place on the map, but I don’t know what’s in it (it’s labeled stage 24 in the videos I watched so that sounds like there are other secret stages as well).

Stage 12 

The last map before the tower, and it’s a tough one. This is the second stage where you really need six good squads. The stage starts with no enemies, but once you step on all six switches at once, enemies come out of the huts. I reloaded many times before I finally accepted one death (I have 15 life potions at this point) and moved on.

One particularly annoying spell the enemies have is Pikohan, which stuns your guys, and they die within seconds when that happens unless you heal them with food.

Stage 13

This is another stage where it’s a big help if you have even leveled teams. The slug boss has two versions on different places of the map. If you beat one of them, it will revive after a short time. So you have to beat both of them and then the remaining enemies very close in time, which requires splitting up the team. Pikohan was annoying again, but I’m starting to get it on some of my own units.

Before this it’s a pretty tedious stage because you have to keep going through warps in small rooms, most of which have nothing in them.

Stage 14 

This is a fire based stage, with some damage floors.

The game gives you a bunch of recovery tiles so this stage is something of a respite, although the end is tricky. The damage floors can be incredibly annoying given the layout of the stage, but I’ll get to that on the next stage.

Stage 15 

This ice-based stage has a lot of spiked floors. The end part is especially annoying, and I really think an example of unfair design.

The boss is down there and you come in from the top. It is basically impossible to stop your guys from walking on the damage floors and just sitting there while they fight or cast spells. If you move slowly along the side you can minimize it somewhat, but eventually they’re still going to end up walking on the spikes. I never like it when the challenge is due to interface limitations rather than good design.There’s simply no way to control your characters in enough detail to make this kind of level fair.

5 more stages.