Monthly Archives: November 2019

SFC Game 41 – Shin Momotaro Densetsu

Shin Momotaro Densetsu (新桃太郎伝説)
Released 12/14/1993, published by Hudsonsoft

This is the final game of 1993. It’s another entry in a series of games by Hudsonsoft, beginning with the 1987 Momotaro Densetsu for the Famicom. This one is apparently a remake of Momotaro Densetsu II for the PC Engine, thus a sequel to the original. The main character is based on the legendary Momotaro, or Peach Boy. The basic story is that an old man and woman who want children find a peach, and Peach Boy is born from it. When he grows up, he goes out to defeat demons that are troubling the area. Along the way he picks up three animal companions by giving them millet dumplings, and with their help he beats the demons.

The game begins after the first game, where Momotaro defeated King Enma, who then decided to try to bring love and friendship to the demon world. But King Basara, influenced by a demon Karla, decides to imprison Enma, and capture Princess Kaguya again. Momotaro goes to save her, but Basara’s sun Daida steals all of Momotaro’s equipment and powers, scattering them into 8 jewel parts around the world.

Momotaro wakes up in the old man and woman’s house, and he has to set out to try once again to defeat the demons and save Kaguya.

I was pretty disappointed by this game at first. This is the end of 1993. Final Fantasy VI comes out in four months. And this is what Shin Momotaro Densetsu looks like:

It’s basically an NES game. The interface is awkward, and there’s an 8 item limit (with no doubling of items). Using powers, like healing, require way too many menus and button presses — something that was common in earlier games but most developers have figured out by now. At least the damage numbers come up on screen instead of being communicated through text boxes. And in weapon shops you can exchange your weapons and armor for what they sell, seeing the numbers, so that’s nice.

Ginji, a swordsman, joins up as a friend — he has 4 different katanas that have different strengths or side abilities (e.g. healing after the attack).

By the way, the overworld is done with Mode 7 graphics and benefits greatly from bsnes’ recent “Hires Mode 7” feature — it looks a lot better at 720p.

The first thing we do is go see a Hermit. These are scattered throughout the game, and teach Momotaro his powers after fulfilling various conditions. For this one, you just have to beat him in a fight and get Kintan, the healing power.

The battle system, for the most part, is standard AMID. There is a system where the weather can change in battle, giving certain powers or monsters a boost or a nerf. Also Momotaro never kills the enemies, he こらしめるs them, which can be translated as “chasten” or “teach a lesson.”

Next up Momotaro frees some cave dwelling rats from monsters, and then gets the first of the 8 moon crystals. The next power, escape from dungeons, is past that. To get this, you have to escape from a cellar in 5 minutes via secret passages (if you fail you can try as much as you want).

Momotaro then has to make his way through a mountain, which has some nice graphics.

In this area you have to learn the thunder technique to get through the rocks that block your way.

Eventually Momotaro defeats a demon and rescues the bird, who joins the party if you give him a millet dumpling. The animal companions don’t fight directly. You feed them things you can find or buy, increasing their stats and teaching them different techniques, some of which are in battle, some out.

Next up is the Hanasaka Jiisan, although the demons destroy all of his flowers. When Momotaro defeats the main demon, Karla comes in and kills it, although a different horned demon seems to save him before he does so (this happens several times in successive boss battles).

After, the flowers are restored and the dog Pochi joins up, and in the next cave, the monkey (the last animal companion).

Next up in the traditional myths is Kintaro, who joins up on the adventure. He has various special attack moves that reduce his HP. In the next section Daida appears again but quickly leaves, frustrated at how weak Momotaro is.

After we beat Ryutoki, Karla once again kills him but he’s rescued by the mysterious figure.

Next up is Urashima Taro, who is kind of the priest/spellcaster of the party. This part is really annoying because (following the myth), Karla opens a box that ages your entire party. You already walk slowly in dungeons, and now you walk even slower — even with the speedup key on it’s pretty slow, I can’t imagine this on a real console.

This fight starts out hard but Urashima Taro comes in with the medicine to restore us to youth, and Karla is thwarted once again. Now underwater to save the Dragon King’s palace from the demons. This also provides a way to the moon, where Momotaro is given a mirror that shows the locations of the remaining Crystals.

The next goal is to go up to the snowy area. Karla sets up a set of puzzles/traps in the Oe Mountain — I don’t like puzzle solving with a bunch of random encounters, but that’s what you have to do. The boss in this area is Shuten Doji, who gives Momotaro the second moon crystal.

In the ice area, we go to the Netaro village, which I think is based on this legend. He’s asleep blocking the bridge to the next area, and Karla’s demons start attacking the town with ice.

The nearby ice tower has pegs that we need to cross using a hookshot given by the giant Dekataro.

The boss of this section is Princess Yasha. She joins the party after being defeated.

Now Dekataro gives us what we need to wake up Netaro.

This seems to be about a third of the game so it’s pretty long. It’s not bad, I just wish that they had put more effort into the interface to make it more like 1993 and less like 1989.

SRPG Game 26 – Shining Force CD (Mega Drive CD)

Shining Force CD (シャイニングフォースCD)
Release Date: 7/21/1994
System: Mega Drive CD
Developer: Sonic! Software Planning
Publisher: Sega

Back to Shining Force again. This is a remake of the two Gaiden games for game gear, plus a new 6-stage scenario and then a bonus “museum” level where you fight all the game’s bosses. I did the Gaiden games in their own posts, so this will just be about the six stage third scenario.

The basic idea is that on Kurisu’s coronation day, some old woman named Dava captures Princess Anri, and we have to go save them. You can use the teams you built up during the first two games.

The stages are all gimmicky and have a lot of hidden items, but overall I didn’t find it very hard.

Stage 1

The first stage is in a graveyard, and additional zombies keep coming out of the graves in successive turns. The most dangerous enemies cast spells, but they can be easily taken down.

Stage 2

I forgot to get a screenshot of this one. You have a bunch of drunken dwarves and centaurs. More periodically wake up as the stage progresses, and eventually you have to fight the (easy) boss at the top of the screen.

Stage 3

This stage has a bunch of women ninjas; some of them cast nasty spells and they drop in unannounced.

There’s also a fake ninja sword but you can get the real one from the suit of armor there to the left of the 忍 sign.

Stage 4

Under construction! But that doesn’t really affect the stage much.

Stage 5

Here we fight our shadows. If you unequip the weapons before the stage then the shadows will have reduced strength, and the characters can re-equip them afterwards in the battle.

Stage 6

Final stage. This is the only one in this episode that really presents any challenge. Dava begins by using a laser attack that’s like the cannon from Shining Force 1; there’s nothing that can be done to dodge this. I sold all the equipment from the units I wasn’t using and bought as many of the Blessing Rain (heal all HP) as I could.

I took everyone up the left side. Dava begins to bring out mushrooms that can use confusion, which is nasty if they use it on your spellcasters (including heroes). They won’t use it if there’s only one person in the area though. Once you reach Dava, she summons all the bosses from the past stages. At first I tried to just go for Dava and ignore them, but this doesn’t work. I took out the close bosses and then set things up like this:

This ensures that Dava won’t use her spells, and the mushroom won’t use the confuse. The archer and axe user can both attack, and Bill can heal Arlong. With this setup Dava goes down easily.

Then it turns out the whole thing was just a test to see if Kurisu was a suitable Emperor, and he passed.

Now there is still one battle left; a “museum” where you fight all the past bosses. I decided not to do this stage — there are multiple videos of the stage on youtube if you want to see it.

Since this post was short I’ll just do the wrapup here. Overall I enjoyed this game possibly even more than the real Shining Force games. It’s certainly not as complex or lengthy, but the battles are fun and the interface is clean. The music is good off the CD.

The biggest omission is the world map and town exploration. Some SF fans may not like the game because of that. I don’t think it’s that big of a deal that it doesn’t exist, though.

I really don’t have anything else to say about this — it’s kind of an inoffensive, very playable game that doesn’t excel in any area but doesn’t fail in any area either.

Next up would be Langrisser 2. My usual practice is to play a remake as long as it’s released within a couple of years. I went back and forth on whether I should play Der Langrisser instead of Langrisser 2. For a while I thought I would do Langrisser 2 as the “light path” and then do one of the alternate paths for Der, but after asking on a Langrisser forum I decided that just doing Der is fine. However, I’m going to wait until Der actually comes up in the list in 1995 to play it. So next up will actually be Feda Emblem of Justice, which I will play in the Saturn remake.  (But let me know if you have any comments on the Langrisser 2 issue.)

SFC Game 40 – Monster Maker 3 (wrap-up)

This game has some pretty big flaws, but it’s not a terrible game. I do think that if you tried to play this on an actual console with no help it would be a frustrating and tedious experience. But if you use an emulator so that you can speed up the battles, and rely on the maps I linked in the first post when you get stuck, it’s definitely a playable old-school RPG.

The problems with the game really come from a combination of factors. The dungeons tend to be large, with a lot of passages and traps. This isn’t necessarily bad, but the ridiculous random encounter rate makes it more tedious than it needs to be. Even this wouldn’t be terrible, but the balance of the random encounters is not good. If the enemies have area effect spells, or use status effects like Sleep, Charm, Confuse, or Stun, it’s very hard to fight them. You can win the fight, but you’re opening yourself up to a chance of a game over. Given how long the dungeons take, this is not something you want to do. So you end up running from a lot of fights.

The story is acceptable for late 1993, but it’s mostly concentrated at the end. The beginning part, obviously inspired by Dragon Quest IV, works well. But after that there’s a long period where you have an overall goal but no short term goals, so you’re just going to whatever the next town or location is.

The graphics are not bad — the character models are large and detailed, and the animation in battles is decent.

Oh also, the reason it’s called Monster Maker is a pointer to the monster recruiting system, but this was also really badly implemented. One of the Megami Tensei developers worked on this and the recruitment system resembles MT. But in addition to the random and confusing system that matches MT, they made another really bad design decision. The only way you can use the monsters is by completely subbing out your human party for a monster party in battle. The human party can come back in later, but the humans and monsters can’t fight together. Also if a monster dies you have to go to a Monster Maker hut to revive them which is annoying. I also was never able to combine any monsters, but to be honest I mostly ignored this system except for getting a goblin. The goblin can find traps and also open up the Goblin Markets which have good equipment.

Overall I just think it’s a shame because this game has a lot of promise but a few bad development decisions made it probably not worth playing for most people.

Next up is Shin Momotaro Densetsu, the last game of 1993. It gets a lot of praise from the Japanese community so I’m looking forward to it.

SFC Game 40 – Monster Maker 3 (Finished)

Chapter 5 is the last one. I began by sailing around to some of the towers to boost Lufeea’s magic. I finally figured out what the yellow magic spells are — it means your level is not high enough to use them without a chance of failure.

A lot of what happens in this chapter is somewhat aimless; just proceeding to the next town without a clear goal. The main goal of this chapter is that now Lufeea’s sister has been kidnapped as well. This means that the enemies have both the master Monster Maker and the High Priest, which can’t be good.

A random dude has captured two of the side characters from the previous chapters, but we manage to save them pretty easily. There’s then a sequence where we need a kayak to access new areas, requiring trips through several more dungeons. They have the usual array of traps, switches, confusing passages, etc. I’m going to skip over this part and resume near the end of the game, crossing a mountain peak.

After beating some minions we have to deal with these three warrior women. It’s a bit tricky at first with all of them going for you but if you can beat one it makes it a lot easier. Lufeea’s area effect magic is good because most of them can cause various status effects like confuse and freeze.

After this, there’s a town where we help find a boy who ran out to get his dog. While we’re out of the town, a flying castle appears.

The castle obliterates the town, killing the boy’s mother.

Apparently this was an attempt to kill us, so that’s not good. The castle goes off to the desert.

Now we need to make it into the desert, but it’s too dangerous because of worms, so we need to have a Monster Maker combine some honeys together to make a spice so that we can control the worm (I guess the creators like Dune).

Once the worm is tamed, you can ride it around the desert. There’s a large dungeon that’s optional but gives Lufeea her most powerful spells. I never ended up using them much (partly because I never hit level 48) but going through the dungeon is also worth some extra treasures so I did it. This was one of the most annoying dungeons in terms of encounters because I had to run from almost every one.

A few more miscellaneous things — we save some women from a king’s castle, who captured them at the request of one of the villains, Dioshel. Next up is the Water Dragon Cave, which will lead the way to a castle where we may learn the truth about what’s going on.

Finally, here’s Kurisu, the character I named at the beginning. She was one of the heroes who defeated evil before, with the help of the white dragon Bran, which magicians and heroes created. It turns out that Lufeea is a reincarnation of Kurisu, and Bran has become the Black Dragon that the enemies are using. Gaiane hopes to use the power of the Black Dragon along with the captured High Priest and Monster Maker to revive the Evil God. We need to stop that, and of course Lufeea now wants to try to save Bran the dragon.

Lufeea also gets access to various shrines that have the best equipment for her — the Kurisu Robe, the Kurisu Hood, etc. This is a strange way to use the named character; I’m not sure I’ve seen another game where it’s not someone you actually control.

We get to the final dungeon with the help of Mito, the dragon that we saved early in the game. He’s now grown enough to get us there.

The final dungeon is very long, but there are multiple save points inside it and they provide ways for you to open shortcuts so it’s easy to leave. What’s also nice is that there are few encounters that you have to run away from so I was able to gain a fair amount of levels. Dioshel has been turned into a crow and trapped in a jail for some reason, but we save her on our way to the final battle.

Gaiane is in the final room, hoping to revive the Evil God. First we fight one of her warrior minions who isn’t hard, and then the Black Dragon. He isn’t as hard as I thought he would be. Now it’s the final fight. Gaiane fuses with the Black Dragon to reveal the final boss.

The head will revive the arms, and the arms protect the head. However, they can be frozen, so having Lufeea cast Death Freeze helps, as does the Dark Ball spell which stops all magic for a while. Once the arms and head are defeated, the torso is left.

The torso casts nasty area effect spells. I thought I might lose, but by casting Dark Ball every chance I got and using items to heal, I was able to eventually defeat it — at one point I was down to only one character with 70 HP left, so it was close.

After this, the Black Dragon turns back into Bran, and he disappears to turn back into the earth and air he was created from. The closing scene is mostly wordless as everyone goes back to their lives.

This game is very flawed but not the worst I’ve played, and I’ll discuss all of this more in the wrap-up post next week.

SFC Game 40 – Monster Maker 3 (Part 2)

I think this game would be very hard to play on a console, especially if you tried without the dungeon maps. Even with the battle setting on the highest speed the battles don’t go that quickly, and the encounter rate is extremely high, especially compared with the long dungeons.

The dungeons are relatively well designed, I think. They have a lot of traps, switches, alternate paths, and such, so that it’s not just wandering through a featureless dungeon finding treasure boxes. But I can also sympathize with the criticism of this game’s difficulty — one thing you have to do in pretty much every dungeon is figure out which encounters will kill you if you try to fight them. If you try to fight enemies that cast charm or sleep, or have area effect magic/attacks, you’re running the risk of a game over even if you enter the fight at full strength. Even if the risk is minor, it’s not worth it given that a game over sends you back to your last save, and the dungeons are so long. Fortunately running away is relatively easy, but I have gotten game overs even when I tried to run.

Chapter 3 introduces another character, princess Diane. Her brother is sick, and she thinks it’s because of the growing power of the monsters, and sets out to find the problem. Her father forces her to go take a magician along with her. Also she can pick up an “underling” Robber who can find traps and also fight in battle.

The magician is training in a forest, and his master sets up a trial to see if we’re really ready to go out adventuring. We pass. The magician characters are interesting because their regular attacks shoot magic out of their wands that does a decent amount of damage at a distance; this makes up somewhat for their low MP.

The rest of the chapter is pretty short. Diane has to save a statue maker who can make a goddess statue to ensure safe travel over the seas. Along the way she meets up with the heroes from the previous chapter.

Chapter 4 begins with Lufeea, who seems like the main character, but the person I named at the beginning is Kurisu, so I don’t know what’s going on there. Chapter 4 is quite long, and overall the time that elapses before you get this main character is much longer than in Dragon Quest IV. The main goal here is for Lufeea to travel around to various magicians and learn their magical powers as we still try to discover what’s going on with the increase in monster activity.

It also seems like she’s a prophecied person because everyone knows who she is; destined to become the most powerful magician in the world. Her sister is a high priest. After leaving her village she quickly meets up with the three characters from the former chapters, and this is the party for a long time (maybe the rest of the game?)  The first goal is Bolgard tower, where a mage puts Lufeea on a trial through various traps and tricks in his tower, and then teaches her magic.

After that, she heads off to meet Daruuan, but the shadowy villains of the game have captured him. As he’s being captured he throws Solomon’s Ring to Lufeea; with this we can now get monsters on our side. It’s similar to Megami Tensei (I think one of the MT developers worked on this game), but I haven’t used it much yet. Getting a Goblin or Robber is helpful because they can detect and disarm traps. But one of the complaints I’ve seen about this game is that the system is implemented in a way that makes it hard to use the monsters — you have to completely sub out your party for the monsters (temporarily) and they can only be revived at monster maker huts which aren’t necessarily in convenient locations.

The majority of this chapter is just finding the towers with the magicians in it, with no real developing story. A few important things do happen — we save the daughter of the King of Fetoland by going into her dream, and Fetoland’s brother has stolen a ring from the Elves that we return.

Near the end of the chapter we have to go to a volcano to stop the villains from doing some cliched ceremony, and also to stop the volcano from blocking access to other continents. This is the hardest dungeon so far because most of the encounters are game over chances. So it’s a lot of fleeing.

Eventually we meet up with a Black Dragon and one of the antagonists, Diosheryl. This is a hard fight but we just have to survive for 6 turns before an earthquake shakes the area. We get saved by the dragon from chapter 2, and the chapter ends with us being able to explore the southern continent.

I’m still not sure what’s up with that character I named at the beginning of the game. It almost makes me wonder if I hit the wrong button and went with the default name (Lufeea?) but I’m pretty sure that in the dream world there was a mention of Kurisu. We’ll see.