Monthly Archives: February 2020

SRPG Game 30 – Power of the Hired wrap-up

FACTS

  1. Turn type: Player/enemy turns.
  2. Maps: Medium. Terrain gives bonuses.
  3. Character Customization: None, although through the summon monster system each character can have their spells on an ad-hoc basis (see the introduction post)
  4. Character Development: Standard XP level system.
  5. Party Size: Max 4 summoners, each with 2 summons (12 total).
  6. Equipment: None
  7. Game Flow: 18 stages, no alternate paths, no repeating.
  8. Saving: You can save between battles, and make one in-battle save.
  9. Death: If the summoned monsters die, they just leave for that battle. If any of the 4 human characters die, it’s game over.

IMPRESSIONS 

I feel like this game had interesting ideas, but didn’t quite implement them as well as they could have. I like the idea of the summoned monsters increasing the stats of the summoner and contributing to their magic. But requiring them to be adjacent to the caster limits the use of magic a lot, especially since you can’t move and cast, and most battles have something pushing you forward in the battle. I can understand the designers not wanting you to just sit and cast spells, but the MP are already relatively limited. Perhaps making some of the spells not quite so powerful could have helped there.

It would have also been nice if the monsters themselves had some additional powers or skills; as it is, all the monsters are basically the same except some can attack from two spaces away. 

The story is just an underdeveloped tissue of cliches. I know most RPG plots are, but this seemed especially derivative and lazy. There’s supposed to be a whole empire attacking, but the Emperor just appears in a field to fight you for no clear reason. The main characters are way too quick to forgive Alef, who has killed innocent people to the point where everyone knows him as the Bloody Fang.
The game is playable and no aspect of the game (other than the story) is bad, but I just feel like there’s so much more they could have done with the concept. Some of the stages have good ideas, like the dragon charging up his breath, or the octopus with the tentacles. More of those would have been appreciated.
That’s it for 1994! 1995 has a lot of big names — Front Mission, Der Langrisser, Tactics Ogre, Arc the Lad, etc.

SRPG Game 30 – Power of the Hired (Part 2)

Stages 6-18 will be covered in this post; the rest of the game. One thing I realized after the last post is that it’s better to look at which types of magic each character is good with and pair them with summons that increase those types, so that you can cast the most powerful attack and healing magic.

(I think I accidentally deleted my screenshots of levels 6-8)

In stage 6 we’re still going after the main character’s brother. This takes place in a graveyard, with necromancers bringing weak undead out of the ground. The graves will run out of bodies after a while, leaving just the mages left to be killed.

Stage 7 requires you to defeat Alef; he starts running away after a few turns so you have to hurry up and get him. A common strategy for me in this game was to sacrifice the summons so that the summoners could survive long enough to get close to the boss and use all their attack spells to kill it. Which is what I did here.

Stage 8 is the last stage of chasing Alef. Like an idiot, he’s being used by the Emperor, but once the Emperor comes in and tells him that he apologizes and joins our side. Of course that makes everyone completely ignore all the innocents he’s killed, but that’s usual for anime/games.

Now we have to chase the emperor. Stage 9 is vs. a dragon:

But we don’t have to beat the dragon. All we have to do is get one summoner to the top of the screen by turn 6, which is not too hard.

Stage 10 is a castle with nasty spirits hiding in the walls that come out after us.

On Stage 11, the Emperor just appears for no reason in the middle of a field with not very many troops, and he’s not very hard. The game does generally a poor job of making you think that there’s an actual empire you’re fighting. This stage is surprisingly easy.

It also follows a pattern that many of the later stages do. The essential strategic difficulty in this game is that using magic takes your entire turn. So you can’t move and use magic, but most of the stages force you move in order to win (as in this stage, where the reinforcements are endless and the Emperor won’t come chase you). So you have to slowly move forward.

In Stage 12 we’re heading home and we come across a village where monsters are attacking; strangely given the Emperor is dead. So instead of going home we decide to head for Brozen mountain, where the monsters seem to be coming from. Stage 13 is on our way there; of course the Emperor is back. He’s trying to open a magic gate to bring forth a demon that he can control to rule everything.

Stage 14 is against this huge octopus thing with tentacles. The game gets much harder from here on out.

Basically you have to beat all the tentacles first (which is not easy) and then take turns moving in to kill him, with some attack buffs.

Stage 15 is the toughest one in the game. All the enemies start in range. You only need to kill the vampire to win, but it’s hard to survive long enough to do that (since any magic user dying is game over). Movement on the first few turns is important, as is Sleep spells and such. If you can survive to the second or third turn the stage can be won, but it took me several tries. Making sure that Alef and Lim (who start in the middle) can cast attack magic is a good thing.

In Stage 16, you have to have someone reach the cave entrance. This seems really hard at first because of the sheer number of monsters, but the important part is that the volcano eruptions on the stage hurt them as well as you, so a lot of them get killed or waste their turns healing.

Stage 17 and 18 are very similar. Both have a boss (Vampire for 17, Emperor for 18) who starts very far away, with endless reinforcements. So as I said above, you have to proceed slowly, keep your summoned units alive so magic can be cast, and then at some point abandon the summons and make a mad dash for the boss. I thought 18 was easier and managed to keep most of the units alive.

After the Emperor is beaten, the gate closes, and we all return home to our lives.

This is a game with a lot of good ideas but not great execution; I’ll say more in the wrapup.

PCE Game 29 – Star Breaker

Star Breaker (スターブレイカー)
Released 2/10/1994, developed by Ray Force

Star Breaker is one of three RPGs developed for the PC Engine by Ray Force. The first, Startling Odyssey, was a cookie cutter RPG that I covered briefly some time ago. They followed that up with Startling Odyssey II, but Star Breaker came between them. I can’t find much more information about the game than this.

I’m going to try giving a bit more detail about the game by blogging while I play rather than taking notes and writing the post later.


The opening narration tells us that in the year 2550, humanity has expanded into the galaxy, fought two huge wars with “non humanoids” and then created the Alliance Army, which both protects humanity and also keeps the peace in the galaxy. The main character is Harry, who serves in the 7th fleet. He’s testing out a new type of fighter, the Pegasus. He engages the warp, but there’s some kind of error and he’s blown into another dimension, and then shot down, crash landing on a planet.

He awakes in a room in a castle, unable to understand what people are saying. But a woman comes out, who calls herself Princess Aria.

She uses telepathic means to help him understand the language and also to learn about him. Apparently he’s been shot down by the Doran, who are enemies, and he’s on Menalis planet. She asks him to talk to her father the king. Now we get to control Harry.

The status screen looks pretty typical (I assume ESP is the magic of this game, and PP will be for the psychic/magic characters).

I explored the castle, finding some basic equipment to outfit Harry. The king had basically nothing useful to say, so I went down into the basement to see how the Pegasus is doing. Apparently they can’t fix it, but the Pegasus tells me that if I can find some parts from the Doran ships, it should be possible to repair it. So we’ll have to infiltrate a Doran base nearby.

Surprisingly (or not) Aria begs to come along, and the king lets her, also sending the ship technician Oregano.

Aria has a healing spell, and Oregano has Antidote. They also have some battle spells. The PP they have looks very low, and I’m afraid this will be yet another game where you really can’t use magic because it’s so limited. Time to go out to the castle town.

Oregano and Aria came with equipment, so I just gathered information — the most important was an old man who told me to look for a guy named Baki who could help us with getting into the Doran base, and gave us a music box. Now for the world map.

Usually at first I try to get in a fight right around town to feel out how difficult the encounters are.

There’s an auto battle; given my resources now I think I’m pretty much limited to attacking and healing. The enemies took a lot of hits to take down, but they gave 9 XP and my guys only need 19 to raise a level so I’ll gain one or two levels before moving on. I generally don’t like grinding but often it’s important right at the beginning.

The level ups turned out to be pretty significant; they provide full heal of HP and PP, and the stat gains are high. At level 2 I started exploring a bit beyond the area, and soon reached level 3. I also bought better equipment for everyone.

Of course you can’t see what the stats of equipment are. It’s 1994! Final Fantasy VI is coming out in two months!

The next town, Soreid, gave me some information. I’ll need to take down a shield to make it into the Doran base, and the mine nearby has been taken over by Doran. Baki turns out to be the mine leader, but he’s drinking in a bar. They want me to bring his wife to the town to restore his confidence. This is in another town, but my guys are now strong enough to beat the random encounters in this area with no problem.

The music box I got in the first down plays their wedding theme, and she agrees to go with us back to Baki. He lets us know that the shield generator is in the mine, and gives us some dynamite to help out with that.

The mine has the same enemies as outside, so my level 5 party had no difficulties, especially after finding some equipment upgrades for Oregano and Aria.

There’s no boss fight, so I destroyed the shield generator with the dynamite.

On the way out, I met this nasty enemy, who I think is just a random monster. But everything heals him except Oregano’s attack spells.

Now that the shield generator is gone I can head north to the base. The cave leading to the base had the same enemies as before, so I got through there fairly easily, moving up one level in the process.

The base is nearby. The monsters seem mostly the same, but I did encounter these nasty frogs, who use all-attack spells and can’t be hurt by most of my attacks.

Aria was at 7 HP so that was close. Now inside the fortress there is a tantalizing save point that I can’t get to yet:

But it was easily reached by going up those nearby stairs. Proceeding through the fortress, I eventually found the C Module I needed, but then a boss appears.

He uses a nasty all-attack and some big attacks, and my healing can’t really keep up (both Aria’s healing spell and the Heal Ampures I’ve been getting from fights and chests) heal less than a single attack from the boss. I died the first time so I guess I’ll try one level up and see if he’s easier at level 8. Harry had gotten a move that takes 1/8 of his HP off, but it seemed to do almost the same damage as a basic attack, so that’s not worth it.

This was sufficient to beat him. Of course he blows up the base, and then takes off in a ship, which goes over to destroy the castle.

Making my way into the castle, I learn that the King has been captured, and agree to go after him, so it’s time to fix the ship.

The ship is soon fixed, and Harry decides to stay in this dimension for now to help Aria find the king. They take off, and head to space station Ios. This is a neutral area with many Doran soldiers. There’s a shop which seems to have things for the ship, but they’re way too expensive.

The next destination seems to be the other planet in this system, Rimurus, so I head over and land there.

This menu indicates that there is some sort of space combat, but it’s evidently not a major part of the game.

And I land on Rimurus.

That’s where I’m going to stop this game. As I’ve said before, PC Engine games have to clear a higher bar for me to play them beyond a few hours. By far the biggest surprise in this blog has been how slow developers other than Square and Enix were to innovate. Final Fantasy VI comes out two months after this game. It’s just stunning to me that at this late of a date, it’s still acceptable for studios to be publishing RPGs where the gameplay is essentially Dragon Quest II. 

This game also makes fairly poor use of the PC Engine; there was one voiced sequence at the beginning and some of the music is off the CD, but it’s mostly just the same as you would see on the Super Famicom.

Next up will be Xanadu, an original action RPG by Falcom for the system.

PCE Game 28 – Emerald Dragon Part 2 (Finished)

At the end of the last post we had retaken Durgwand Castle from Ostracon. The next main goal is to defeat the demon king Garcia, who is (appropriately) in the Demon Castle. We hope that the Priestess of the Sea, living in the Kasha Islands can help us. On the way, a researcher named Warumaru helps restore Hasram from the black crystal that Ostracon trapped him in.

The Priestess of the Sea tells us that we need the Mountain Priestess’ help as well as various ancient documents that can be recovered from nearby caves. As we explore, Garcia’s troops attack us to stop us from getting that power. Once all the documents are recovered, the Priestess gives Tamlyn a “teleposta” (without explanation, and it can’t be used) and a secret message.

Now it’s on to the Mountain Priestess, and along the way we actually have to fight Garcia himself.

Fortunately the priestess helps us out, and Garcia flees after we beat him up. Now on the Mountain Priestess, whose temple is right next to the Demon Castle. Garcia kills the priestess but she opens up the way to his castle.

The castle is a very long dungeon with a whole bunch of boss fights. This is really where I felt the tedium of the game.

Eventually, we come to Garcia himself.

Who really is not that hard. Tamlyn has learned this laser beam spell that does an enormous amount of damage, and when she can use that rather than healing it makes the battles go a lot more quickly. If only I could get her to use that instead of healing the other NPCs!

Now once Garcia is beaten, the game’s not over yet. He reveals that it was the Hors people that summoned him and had him get the Avesta. We’ve been hearing about the Hors throughout the game — they created the world, they were called gods, etc. And Tamlyn reveals that she herself is a Hors, as she uses the Teleposta to take us out of the crumbling Demon Castle.

So while the world celebrates the defeat of the Demon King, the party decides to continue investigating to see what the Hors are up to.

After a few quests we manage to get through a cave to the land where the Hors live. A bunch of them confront the party, but after realizing that Tamlyn is the princess, they take her and throw the rest of the party in jail.

It turns out that Tiridates, the Prime Minster, has taken control of the government after the king’s death and Tamlyn’s disappearance. He wants to use the Avesta to attack and conquer the outside world. Fortunately a faithful knight Jessil rescues everyone and we prepare for the final assault. The final dungeon is not very long and has a lot of really good equipment for everyone.

First we defeat Tiridates, and then he turns into the demon Zandig, who had been controlling his body. Zandig is not very hard with Tamlyn constantly laser beaming him for thousands of damage a turn, and he goes down quickly.

Now the power of the Emerald Graces restores the Emerald Dragon, who seals away Zandig. Atorushan decides to stay in the human world with Tamlyn, and the game ends.

Overall I found that the game got pretty tedious as it went on. The story is fine, and the visuals and music are great. There’s lots of voiced dialogue, and the animated sequences are well done. The ability to talk to your characters (by pressing start) is a good touch that fleshes them out a bit.

The real problem is the gameplay. At first I felt like the encounter rate was reasonable and the battles were enjoyable. But eventually I got tired of every battle being the same thing — you just run into monsters, and maybe use a healing item every so often. Tamlyn has a lot of interesting spells but you can’t control her use of them at all (and because of the way the battles work she tends to use a healing spell most of the time). I think this is an artifact of the game being made originally in 1989.

The other problem is that it can be hard to tell where to go next. You often have the name of where you’re supposed to go but it’s not always clear where that is, especially when you have to backtrack and remember which one of the 6 similar forts you visited is the one you’re supposed to go to.

I’ll try out the Super Famicom version when I get there (in 1995) to see how that version goes. My other blog has a good number of SFC games coming up so be sure to check that out as well.

SRPG Game 30 – Power of the Hired (Super Famicom)

Power of the Hired (パワー オブ ザ ハイアード)
Release Date: 12/22/1994
System: Super Famicom
Developer: Nihon Computer System
Publisher: Masaya

The final 1994 game is a rather obscure game published by Masaya for the Super Famicom. The name is kind of strange, but refers to the “hired” (summoned monsters) giving magical powers to the summoners. It seems overall like a fairly short and light game.

The backstory is that the main character (Kurisu as usual) is from a village of monster users, who are distrusted by others. Kurisu’s older brother Alef and his friend Rim are leaving for the capital of the kingdom, and the first battle starts while seeing them off.

This is sort of a prologue battle because there aren’t any summoned monsters yet so you’re just attacking (although Kurisu can use a few spells). The goal is to save the villagers from the monsters, which isn’t very hard. After this, the story jumps forward a few years as Kurisu leaves the village herself. Word is that summoners are working for the kingdom, which Kurisu finds unacceptable — they’re supposed to stay neutral from politics and wars. So she sets out to see what’s going on. The first real battle pits her against a group of thieves, who have set fire to the area (which slowly advances).

Before each battle, each character selects two monsters. Which monsters they can select are determined by their level.

The monster select screen

Each monster, in addition to their stats, has  獣魔法 numbers at the bottom. In this case, the Wolfman has 4 in every stat. If the monster is adjacent to the summoner, these numbers will be added to the summoner’s own numbers to determine what magic they can use. The monsters can level up themselves and gain stats. If a monster is defeated, they leave for that battle. If a summoner (any summoner) is defeated, game over.

Since there is no equipment or items, that’s pretty much the game system. The summoners gain MP back each turn, so using the magic is fairly free although you have to use it before moving. Many battles force you to move to complete the mission objectives, so that does limit the ability to use magic. For instance, in this second battle the fire will engulf your troops if you stay in one place for too long.

Every attack is followed by a counterattack (if the defender is in range).

Using magic

Dino comes in after a while, he’s more fighting oriented.

So on stage 3 and after I tended to give the more magic options to Kurisu and let Dino have the others.

Stage 3 has us trying to defend a town from some monsters attacking; and it turns out that Alef is in command of them. Rim is hesitant to attack Kurisu, but Alef is now working for the kingdom, and anyone in his way will be defeated. He leaves before we can actually reach him, and there start being reinforcements on this stage. There are also enemy summoners with their own magic, which can be nasty. There is a heal command that everyone has, though, that restores a bit of HP to themselves. It can’t be used post move.

On Stage 4 we continue to chase Alef across a bridge, but he breaks the bridge down. One segment crumbles behind you every turn so you have to move forward. The first time I was too quick and got a game over from being swarmed; the second time I just made sure I stayed ahead of the bridge and did fine despite two waves of reinforcements (again, Alef and Rim leave).

On Stage 5, the goal is to protect an allied commander for 15 turns. He gets endless reinforcements, as does Alef, and Rim blocks our way upwards. I found the commander didn’t really need that much help, and I thought the enemies were too strong for me to defeat Alf, so I just waited out the 15 turns defeating whatever soldiers got near me.

I also got access to some new monsters — the gargoyle thing and the Shadow.

There are 18 stages so the game is not very long as a whole; I’ll probably have it beaten in a few more days.

PCE Game 28 – Emerald Dragon

Emerald Dragon (エメラルドドラゴン)
Released 1/28/1994, published by NEC

This is a port of a computer game originally released in 1989 for various computers. It was then remade for the FM Towns, a computer designed for multimedia and games. The game was then remade for the PC Engine in 1994, and finally the game was remade again for the Super Famicom in 1995.  The SFC version has a translation patch.

The game begins with you controlling the dragon Atorushan on the island of dragons. They haven’t been to the mainland Ishburn for thousands of years because of a curse on dragons there. A girl named Tamlyn washes ashore, and grows up with the dragons.

There is a lot of voiced dialogue, and animated cutscenes (of the usual PCE type). Eventually Tamlyn decides to go back to Ishburn, and Atorushan gives her part of his horn so that she can call for help if necessary. A few years later he decides to go looking for her, and the White Dragon elder at the same time would like him to investigate the curse of Ishburn. Apparently the land is overrun by the Demon Army controlled by the Demon King Garcia. Atorushan gets the Silver Scale which allows him to become human, thus avoiding the curse.

Atorushan looks for Tamlyn, but she has gone to help a magician Bagin try to keep a golem from being reborn. Atorushan goes to find her, but falls into a trap and ends up in a cell with Tamlyn. After a reunion, they head to Bagin, who then releases the golem for them all to defeat.

The battle system is fairly simplistic. You only control Atorushan, The number by the character shows their remaining “action points”, which are used to move and attack. Usually an attack consumes 4 points, but different weapons can use more or less. The other characters move automatically; you can tell them who to attack but that’s it. I would have appreciated a little more control, but the AI is fairly good. The spellcasters seem to have unlimited MP, but there’s no way to even see what spells they have.

One feature that seems to have been added in the SFC version is the dragon ability, where you can use the Emerald Graces (of which the Silver Scale is one) to transform Atorushan into a dragon; this takes most of his HP because of the curse, but does a big attack. If this is in the PCE version, I can’t find a way to use it. The system is simple, but since battles are fairly quick it’s not a huge deal — I certainly prefer this to just mashing “attack” in a typical RPG battle.

Once the golem is taken down, Bagin joins us as we continue to fight the demon army. The next destination is Elbard Castle.

This game, like Ys, has no world map but different screens where the towns run continuously into the wilderness. You can get maps that will show the surrounding areas, as above. It can be somewhat frustrating to find out where to go next. If you press Start you can see your party talk to each other which will usually remind you of where to go next, but it’s not always clear which direction that is, and sometimes you have to remember between several forts or towns.

At Elbard, we clear out a traitorous noble, and then the prince (Hasram) joins the party.

Atorushan and Tamlyn are the only characters who can level up, so the other characters join and leave fairly frequently. Hasram joins us to launch an attack at Zama Fortress, along with Falma. It seems to be controlled be a guy named Ostracon but he’s gone, so we take out his lieutenant Barago instead.

The game is not especially difficult. I think this Barago fight was one of the few that gave me any trouble — as usual for a game of this period, there really isn’t much strategy to use, so it’s just a matter of having the necessary levels and healing items.

As we move on, we hear about a cave that supposedly has dragon spirits.

It does indeed — this is the Silver Dragon, who created the Silver Scale that Atorushan is using. There are five of these “Emerald Graces”. Unfortunately the Emerald Dragon itself is dead, but legend says that if we can unite the five Emerald Graces a miracle will happen and the forces of evil will stand no chance.

Now while all this was going on, Bagin has left the party and charged ahead on his own. He left a letter saying that 20 years ago he tried to get the Purple Gem (one of the Graces) with a friend, who died. To make up for that, he’s going to kill Gomes, a demon terrorizing Nanai Village. So we’ll set out to catch up with him.

Nanai is not an easy place to get to — it requires help of the American Indian knockoffs of this game, the Dardwa people. Along the way we have to go through several other fortresses and towns, including a meeting with Ostracon himself.

Atorushan wounds him so he flees, leaving one of his minions behind to fight. Eventually we reach the Dardwa, but because of their rules, they refuse to let us find the way to Nanai village. However, the son of the elder, Yaman, decides to guide us there. He is thrown out of the village by his father…but I guess we can get to Nanai.

At Nanai, we learn that Gomes is demanding sacrifices from the villagers. To deal with this RPG cliche we head off to fight him — only to find that he’s managed to take out Bagin.

Bagin reveals that he was originally in the demon army, but that a friend helped him escape (who was Falna’s father). He gives us the Purple Gem, and we can pay him back by beating Gomes. He also powers up Falna, who is fairly useless — I think at least now she has more spells, but she tends to just run and attack instead.

Back to the main mission of clearing the demon army out of various strongholds, and finding the other three Emerald Graces. Ostracon is continuing to cause problems, and he sets us to fight his third minion, Bashita.

Now we learn that Hasram (who had returned to Elbard) has been taken captive by Ostracon. He traps him in a black crystal, and then asks for the Avesta (a gem in the Dardwa forest) in exchange. Of course heroes being heroes, we have to go get it from the Dardwa Temple. This requires getting more reluctant cooperation from the Dardwa, and making out way into the temple. A fairy there gives some world background, and then we fight a Dragon Zombie to recover the Avesta.

Of course you know the story — the heroes stupidly trust Ostracon to give us Hasram in exchange for the Avesta. Does he?

Of course not, he just crushes the crystal, killing Hasram. So, it’s time to fight Ostracon. He’s not as hard as we might think, but as usual defeating him just makes him run away, and Hasram’s still dead. Now Garcia will have the Avesta — nice job, heroes.

But, now we can continue on with the main mission. We decide, based on some info, to visit a sage Fushrunum who might have some useful information. Along the way, Yaman gets killed by a random arrow.

Kind of a sudden development, but it’s a way to clear the lower leveled character out to replace him with a new archer named Sayoshant. He’s known as a hero so a nice person to join, but he’s mostly interested in recovering his master’s bow from Ostracon. Fushrunum is living in a hermit hut through a cave, and has some useful information about world backstory, but not much else. He also thinks that Hasram is likely still alive.

Now it’s time to get Ostracon for good. He’s in Durgwand Castle, which the resistance movement has already seized. Making our way through, we finally get to Ostracon. He resurrects his three minions, but since they have the same stats they did when you first fought them, they’re not very hard.

Once he goes down, he asks for extra power from Garcia, and becomes a bigger demon.

I think I was a bit overlevelled because I had trouble finding some of these places, and he went down easily. He has no more tricks up his sleeve, so he (apparently) dies, and we recover the bow, and the crystal with Haslam in it.

This is not a bad game, and the music and visuals are great. I just wish the battle system was a little more involved — I’m in the common position of not being able to say much about the battles because they’re all kind of the same. You can only control Atorushan, and his only options are attack or item. I feel like this is a perfectly playable and decent game on the verge of being a very good game.

SRPG Game 29 – Albert Odyssey 2

Albert Odyssey 2 (アルバートオデッセイII 邪神の胎動)
Release Date: 12/22/1994
System: Super Famicom
Developer: Sunsoft
Publisher:
Sunsoft

When I created this blog as an additional project to my Super Nintendo one, I intentionally did not make rules about how long I would play each game. My list of games right now has over 500 games — a good chunk of those are remakes/ports that I won’t be playing, but that’s still a lot of games. Too many for me to suffer through a game I don’t really want to play.

This is the direct sequel to Albert Odyssey, a game I covered before. I didn’t like the game all that much. What makes this game stand out is the decision to have the entire world map be an SRPG-style dungeon. This wasn’t the only problem with the original game, but most of what was bad about the game stemmed from that. Although AO2 solves some of the issues with the original game, the “world map is one big battle” idea still basically ruins the game for me.

The game begins by repeating the sudden ending of the previous game, and then switching 10 years later, with a princess named Yuna and her mom running from the Lukrenan kingdom, pursued by dragon riders. She crashes near where the main character (Kurisu) is training with Wiseman. The Queen soon dies, entrusting her daughter to the care of the king.

The next day, the harbor town Maurina is taken over by Lukrenan, and a general comes to the king to ask for Yuna back. The king refuses, and we need Albert’s help. Kurisu goes out to his hometown to find him.

Right off the bat there are three big improvements made to the game:

  • The item and shop interface is much better than in AO1. AO1’s manual actually tells you to save before you buy things because you can’t tell who can equip what.
  • The map no longer rotates constantly while people are moving.
  • In AO1, getting into a town was frustrating. You had to move each person into the town individually, and it took forever. Now, the main character just has to move to the town (when no one else has taken a turn) and everyone moves in.

The battle system is basically the same as the first except MP have been added (in AO1 you could use any skill as many times as you want), and hit rates are much lower. Each character attacks twice, although counterattacks can happen as well (cancelling the attack). It’s rather unpredictable.

Kurisu learns that Albert has gone on a journey to find a way to cure Sophia (who is in a magical sleep), so Kurisu heads out to free Maurina from the invaders. Meanwhile Yuna is captured so we then have another task ahead of us.

Morse, a priest, and Claire, a magician, join to fill out the team. But now we go to Maurina and there don’t seem to be any invaders — I’m not sure exactly what happened there. Instead, the characters hire a captain to take them over the sea to Bekutora. From Bekutora, we fight through to the city of Akos. Now there are two routes — an optional dungeon to the north and a shrine to the south. I went to the dungeon first, which has treasure chests. The keys for these chests have to be purchased in the town, which used most of my money.

A useful mini-map

The dungeon levels are very small, meaning you quickly get overwhelmed. I did beat all the enemies on the first floor and recover the chests, but Wiseman died. I wasn’t too concerned because revival is cheap at churches, so I headed back to Akos (moving just Kurisu, it took 2-3 minutes). No church in Akos. So I headed back to Bekutran (another 2-3 minutes). No church. I had the captain take me back to Maurina, where I could revive, and then headed back to Bekutran. Some enemies had respawned, so it was going to take another 20 minutes or so just to get back to the dungeon. AO1 had items that could warp you back to towns, but they seem to have been removed from this game.

And that’s where I stopped. As I said above, the “world map is one big battlefield” concept just doesn’t work, at least in the way Albert Odyssey has implemented it. I’m not aware of any other SRPGs that do this, and playing AO and AO2 it’s easy to see why. Even Sunsoft abandoned the concept, and the next time we see Albert Odyssey is the “Gaiden” game for the Saturn that Western players are more familiar with.

 I’ll be curious to see if any other title does try this at some point. But having to spend 30-40 minutes to revive a character is ridiculous. I could probably power through this game because it’s not all that long, but with 500+ games ahead of me it makes sense to move on.

Here are two other very negative reviews of the game, one from RPGGamer, and the other from GameFAQs.

Next will be the final game of 1994, an overlooked Masaya game called Power of the Hired.

SFC Game 42 – Gaia Saver

Gaia Saver: Hero’s Ultimate Plan (ガイアセイバー ヒーロー最大の作戦)
Released 1/28/1994, published by Banpresto

1994 in Super Famicom games start out with one of the most infamous kusoge for the system. This game is widely despised by Japanese players, with entire pages written in listing all the ways it sucks — I think more time has gone into criticizing this game than went into its production.

This is another game in the Compati Heroes series, and it is a spiritual successor to Hero Senki, which I played earlier on this blog. It’s a crossover of Gundam, Ultraman, and Kamen Rider. I wasn’t a huge fan of Hero Senki, but Gaia Saver makes it look like a masterpiece. The gameplay is worse in pretty much every way. The story of Hero Senki was confusing to me because it relied too much on knowledge of the original franchises — the story of Gaia Saver barely exists. One of the big complaints people had is that it shits all over the original characters and stories of the franchises, something I can only appreciate with Gundam.

I’ve mentioned before a site that has reviews of almost all SFC games, and he has one section for the “9 Gods of Kusoge”; this is one of them — he seems to think it’s one of the worst of the 9. I somewhat disagree because at least the game is fast and short, but there’s very little redeeming about it.

It’s divided into eight stories. As you progress, depending on your actions, the population of the world decreases, and you can see the current population in the status menu. Apparently this affects the ending, although due to a programming mistake it’s impossible to keep the population high enough to see the best ending.

But all the “stories” are just a mishmash of little scenes and characters taken from the various franchises, with no real connection between them. And if you don’t already know who these characters are, a lot of what happens makes no sense. The game also gives you very little direction for where to go next, or why you’re going there.

The first story begins at Jaburo, during the First Gundam story (I guess). There’s a disc we need to have analyzed, but the scientists Amuro takes the disc to can’t deal with it. The first thing you notice is the absurd random encounter rate, which is high even for games of this period.

 The battle system is basically auto battle, but you can select what people will do if you want — since there’s no indication of what any of the skills do, and you miss a lot, I usually just went with the auto battle unless I had to heal or in a boss fight sometimes I would choose a good ability. The graphics are decent in battle, but that’s about as far as the good parts of this game go.

Almost all the enemies have only a basic attack, with no special powers at all.

There are also buyable items and equipment, but there’s no indication of who can equip what or what effect any of it has. Money is very scarce in this game and I hardly ever bought equipment; I spent most of my money on heal and repair items.

As in Hero Senki, you restore all your HP after each battle. MP/tech points are restored by going to these locations on the map (or levelling up):

The graphics are the same RPG Maker style as the previous game.

The first boss is Zangeor — he might be from Kamen Rider or Ultraman; I have no idea since the game makes no effort to introduce him or tell me who he is. I beat him with autobattle like all the other enemies, and the first story ends with no real resolution — there’s something mysterious going on with stone circles, but that’s about it. There’s also an original character Mark Hunter, who joins and leaves every so often as the story progresses.

The game uses about three dungeon designs over and over again. You’ll be going through this dungeon 5 or 6 times:

As well as another one that looks exactly like it with a different design.

The rest of the chapters continue on in the same way — elements from the three series are introduced randomly, with no clear connection between them or explanation of who anyone is. The dungeons are just recycled over and over again with the lack of direction and ridiculous encounter rate. Oh, there also aren’t any chests or anything in the dungeons — just empty rooms and a boss, who says one line (if that) and then fights you.

Eventually the nature of the overall plot becomes clear right at the end of the game. There’s this System that is powering itself off the conflict of the humans and is going to kill them off and destroy the Earth to stop the repeated wars.

We defeat him, but that’s not quite it because we still have to turn the Ultra Killer back into Zophi. Previously Amuro had become the Gundam Killer but got turned back to normal, and Rider 2 became the Rider Killer….and dies. This is another big complaint about the game.

But we’re still not done! As you leave the final dungeon, the Yapul from Ultraman shows up for no reason, with no introduction, and just says “Who are you!?” and fights.

He goes down quickly, and the game ends by telling you that half the Earth died and hopefully people can do better in the future.

As I hope is clear by now, this is one of the worst games I’ve played so far on this blog. There is virtually nothing redeeming about it, whether you’re a fan of these series or not. Just a pathetic effort.