Monthly Archives: July 2020

SFC Game 48 – Dream Maze: Kigurumi Adventure

Dream Maze: Kigurumi Adventure (夢迷宮きぐるみ大冒険)
Released 4/15/1994, published by HECT

This is a rather bizarre game that got a fan translation. It begins with a boy having a dream.

The frog says he was chosen randomly to be a hero, to save four princesses who will then use their power to help him defeat the Akumu (“bad dream”). Unfortunately that’s the extent of the story — there aren’t any developments, twists, or anything. 
The game is a first-person maze.
The game takes place through 5 areas with a total of over 60 floors, so there’s quite a bit of volume. On each floor you can buy a map that will show you the floor’s layout, although there’s no way to know where anything is on the map (stairs, shops, etc.) The areas are suitably kid-dream themed (Cake Tower, Pudding Tower, etc.)
The “kigurumi” (wearable animal costumes) from the title comes from the way the characters can wear the outfits of defeated monsters.

Any large monster you fight (like the chicken in the middle) will leave behind a suit as long as they are the last enemy defeated. You can then visit a “changing room” to change suits, and there are also tailors that can make custom suits by combining multiple suits — this doesn’t seem necessary, though.

Unfortunately that’s the only way to change the characters’ power. There are no experience levels or equippable items. You gain “candy” from fights that act as money, but what you buy with those are healing items or single-use damage dealing items. The problem with this system is that it feels pointless to actually explore the various levels of the dungeons. All you get is money that you can use to buy healing items, which let you continue to explore to get money to buy healing items. Once you’ve gotten good kigurumi suits from the current dungeon, all you need to do is get to the boss. So exploring the huge dungeons seems like more of a chore than a fun experience. There are a few helpful items in the levels, particularly the ones that raise your max HP (which is the only way to do that). But I still feel like having to explore 10 floors of a dungeon to find a couple of useful items feels wrong.

The levels are mostly empty; there might be a treasure chest (which you have to walk directly over to find) but often there’s not even that. But what you will find are the wizardry-inspired warps, spinning floors, and trap doors. But they seem to have gone out of their way to make it annoying — there are levels with complicated warp sequences that lead nowhere useful, you can just ignore them and go to the next floor.

The battle system has you choose “punch” or “kick”, and then an area of the screen. Each suit has a different punch and kick rating, and monsters typically have one type of attack they’re weak to. Some suits also give you special abilities like Fire.

Once you choose an area, the monsters might move out of that area and dodge.

There are other characters to find in the dungeon but they’re quite difficult to find if you don’t know where they are. Once you get them, you can do a combined attack that does more damage.

The main problem with this game is that it’s just not that fun to play. Wandering around in the mazes feels like a waste of time because you’re not finding anything useful or getting stronger. But if you use maps, you can probably beat the game in a few hours. The bosses in each tower are at the same level as the grunt monsters until the final boss in the last tower, who is a huge step up in difficulty. As I said before, there are no plot developments.

I think the idea of the kigurumi is interesting, and I feel like this could have been a much better game. They just needed to add some other reason to explore the maps and fight the monsters, and make at least a tiny effort to develop a storyline. I wish they had combined the kigurumi system with some kind of more traditional RPG system. As it is, I do not recommend this game at all.

Final Fantasy VI

I’ve now reached the point where FF6 came out. It’s amazing to me how far ahead of everything else it was. I knew it would be better than other games but it’s almost like Square was on another plane altogether — what other companies were doing wasn’t even coming close.

I’ve also always considered FF6 a late SNES game but in fact it’s rather early; I’m only a bit past the 1/3 mark. I think it’s because FF6 is the last SNES game I played new when it came out. After that I was more interested in computer RPGs and didn’t play Chrono Trigger until much later on emulator.

Now on to Dark Kingdom.

PCE Game 32 – Monster Maker: Dragon Knight of Darkness

Monster Maker: The Dark Dragon Knight (モンスターメーカー 闇の竜騎士)
Released 3/30/1994, published by NEC Avenue

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. I previous covered the third game in the series, for SNES. I thought it had a lot of potential but was hampered by some poor design decisions, and I was hoping for an improvement.

Unfortunately this game is much worse, and is an infamous kusoge for the PCE. It was hampered by a long development delay of 2 years. Even then, when it finally came out it was riddled with bugs, including ones that delete your save games or stick you in impossible to win situations. They even had to include a flyer in the package warning you about one of them. There are also freezes, combats ending for no reason, not being able to move on the world map, and others. Furthermore, the game ends suddenly in the middle of the story with “To Be Continued,” but the sequel was never made. One contemporary reviewer for a PC Engine magazine refused to give it a score because of how unfinished it was.

The early games had a card-based battle system. Monster Maker 3 changed this to regular RPG but did have some positioning elements that made it a bit different. This game goes back to just Dragon Quest II style.

The main character, Laia, is a half-elf who was abandoned and raised in the village of Ferund. She likes talking to the fairies outside of town, but is chased out of town when the town is attacked by other dark-haired elves like her. She is given her mother’s circlet and has to go on a quest to find the truth of what happened and her background.

She quickly gets two kobolds and a fighter named Mary in her party — the Monster Maker title means that there is some monster recruiting element, but like MM3 it’s poorly implemented and not necessary to use.

There’s a fair amount of voiced dialogue with some big name actors, so that’s probably the high point of the game.

In order to reach the elven village, she first has to pass a barrier station. But the leader of the station won’t let her pass until she investigates what’s going on in Derius Castle. At the same time, a dragon egg she got in the mountains hatches, giving a baby dragon.

This is basically where I stopped. The Derius Castle part requires you to go through 3 dungeons with no opportunity to heal or save. Healing items and spells do very little and I could see this was going to take a fair amount of grinding just to get through this introductory part, and with the game’s reputation I see no reason to do that.

After this game, it was 8 more years before Monster Maker 4 came out for GBA. I don’t know how that game was, but this is the last we’ll be seeing of MM on this blog.

SRPG Game 39 – Shining Force Gaiden: Final Conflict

Shining Force Gaiden: Final Conflict (シャイニング・フォース外伝 ファイナルコンフリクト)
Released 6/30/1995, developed by Sonic, published by Sega Enterprise

  1. Turn type: Speed based system
  2. Maps: Small. Terrain gives bonuses.
  3. Character Customization: Promotion at level 10.
  4. Character Development: Standard XP/level system.
  5. Party Size: Max 12.
  6. Equipment: 4 items, including one equip weapon and one equip accessory.
  7. Game Flow: 22 stages in order, no repeats or optional
  8. Saving: Between battles.
  9. Death: Defeated characters can be revived between battles for cost. If the main character dies it’s game over, but you keep the XP and items you earned in the battle.

This is the sixth Shining Force game released in four years. If you’ve played another Shining Force game this will be familiar territory. Like the other Gaiden games there are no explorable towns between the battles, just a camp where you can purchase things and revive characters. The plot takes place between Shining Force I and II (the main games, not the Gaidens), and provides a link to those games and also Shining In The Darkness. So it’s probably most interesting to people who have played at least SF1 and 2, since a lot of characters return from those games or at least are mentioned.

Since I played the other Gaiden games on the CD remake, this is the first time I played one of the games on the Game Gear. While the graphics do not look as good as Royal Stone, they’re still not bad. When you compare the Game Boy games that have come out so far, I think that they did a better job here of reducing the Shining Force experience to a handheld game that still preserves the essential gameplay and isn’t too short.

This will be a fairly short post — I don’t want to spoil the story since there’s a good fan translation patch, and the gameplay doesn’t require a long description because it’s just more of the same. The story begins with Max (the SF1 hero) going off to fight Mishaela (who was in SF1 with her dolls) who is trying to revive Darksol, the SF1 boss. Adam, the robot, is damaged, but manages to get working again — he won’t be able to fight but he can act as the tactician for the team. A new main character comes along, and a new set of characters who all occupy the familiar classes and roles that you know if you’ve played the previous games. There are no new classes, abilities, or anything like that.

I found the game to be quite easy; possibly the easiest of the SF games. The only reason I had any trouble was that I was determined to level up Cynthia (the healer) to try to teach her Aura. But leveling healers in SF in general is hard, and it’s really hard in this game. She has low MP and can’t earn much XP by that, and dies in one hit from everything in the later game. I did manage to get her to learn Aura level 1 but it was such a hassle I moved on, and it turned out I didn’t need her at all to win the game. I didn’t use any Healing Rains either.

The second to last battle has lasers shooting at you but I was able to mostly avoid them while climbing the stairs. The final battle is like Shining Force 1. The hands have nasty spells but their HP aren’t that high, and once you beat them, the face doesn’t do much. 

After all that Shining Force, the series rests for a while (at least on the SRPGs). We’ll see it again in 2 years (game 110!) with Shining Force 3, part 1. Next up is Arc the Lad which I’ve already finished, so I’ll try to get that post out soon.

PCE Game 31 – Princess Minerva (Part 2, Finished)

Chapter 2 takes the women to the next outlying area of the kingdom, which is a desert land. This is annoying because touching the desert does damage, and you have to cross the desert to reach the dungeons you need to. You get shoes later in the chapter that protect against the damage, but not at first.

Bonus fanservice

I noticed that in this section the SNES version has an extra floor for the dungeon; there are several places in this game where the SNES version’s dungeons are larger or an optional dungeon becomes required. Once again the heroes defeat a corrupt barracks commander as the Cutie Kamen group.

The boss of this section, the fire spirit, is in a volcano, so first we have to go get an item to freeze the lava to enter the volcano. This involves a Sphinx, who fights and then does a quiz.

Each question you get right gets you a treasure chest, and if you don’t get them all you get warped back to the beginning and then can try again up to a limit of 3. I believe that after that you get the item you need regardless of how many questions you got right. They are pretty difficult questions about history and literature; I got lucky guessing some of them and knew some other ones.

Then it’s on to Fire Pressea, who use a lot of hit-all magic. The Fire Sailor Outfit is good, as are freeze/water techniques.

Now Chapter 3, where we have a big bridge that’s broken and requires some elven shoes to fly across. The elf with the shoes doesn’t trust us humans, though, so we have to save the elf’s daughter from yet another corrupt commander. Time for another cutie kamen segment, although this time they parody the Mito Komon movies.

Then the elves also decide to improve our half-elf child’s magic abilities, which requires them to wear sheer clothing.

Then it’s off to the air tower to beat the boss, where there are invisible platforms you have to traverse.

She’s not a tough boss, especially now that the little elf girl has a strong mass heal.

Chapter 4 is in a water area, so the boss is the water follower:

We first have to deal with some slavers (Cutie Kamen style). The water lady doesn’t like them either because she wants to capture all the girls herself. Here, we get the “King Sailor Outfit” which you equip to make the characters naked, with special poses:

Does this flag my blog?

Also one of the characters leaves temporary for a personal vengeance, which is annoying because now one of the parties is down a character.

The water tower has the boss, and once again she slinks back to Dynaster having accomplished nothing:

Chapter 5 is the last chapter, and we’re back at the capital city to save Minerva’s parents. First off, we get tricked with fake “Dragon Armor”, which is the most powerful armor. This is how they think the “most powerful armor” is supposed to look:

That looks like it provides great protection against monsters. Anyway, it’s cursed, and now that means that until we can get it removed, it provides the lowest possible defense, making this chapter a bit harder. Eventually after many sequences and dungeons we find the sage who can remove the dragon armor.

He also reveals that Dynaster is actually Minerva’s sister, who was given to him as a baby based on a prophecy that said she would bring ruin to the kingdom. He trained her as a wizard but then she turned evil because she was so upset about how the king treated her.

So now let’s head back and deal with Dynaster! The last place is two fairly large dungeons but they’re not too bad. Healing items are plentiful in the game so you can just beat everything up.

She’s not that bad. By now my technique was just to have Tua block until she’s needed for healing, then the other two people attack.

Oh no, the sage was the secret enemy!

Dynaster helps out against the sage but it’s the same technique. Then there’s a final final boss:

Apparently the SNES version has some special transformations for this fight but not the PCE one. Same technique.

A fanservicy ending scene where Dynaster decides to go out on her own instead of staying in the castle. Minerva follows!

Despite all the fanservice this is a fairly good game. The battle and levelling system is fun and everything goes quickly. You don’t need to grind. The visuals and voice are great. When I get to this game on the SFC I’ll play a bit of it just to see how it transferred over but I would definitely recommend this game.

SRPG Game 38 – Shin SD Gundam Sengokuden Taishogun Retsuden

Shin SD Gundam Sengokuden Taishogun Retsuden (新SD戦国伝 大将軍列伝)
Released 4/21/1995, developed by Beck and Tecnocite, published by Bandai 


  1. Turn type: Speed based system?
  2. Maps: Small to medium. Terrain gives bonuses.
  3. Character Customization: None.
  4. Character Development: Standard XP/level system.
  5. Party Size: Varies from stage to stage, but it can go as high as 18
  6. Equipment: One item.
  7. Game Flow: 30 stages plus 20 optional stages. A few stages can be repeated.
  8. Saving: Any time.
  9. Death: Defeated characters come back after the battle with no penalty.

SD Gundam is a huge, sprawling offshoot of the already huge Gundam franchise. Within the SD Gundam franchise itself, there are all kinds of sub-series. One is the “musha Gundam” series, with characters modeled after ninja, samurai, etc. The series here is Sengokuden, which does not refer to the Japan sengoku period, but rather the Warring States period of China. All of the Gundams are modeled after Gundams from the main Gundam series, but are written with Chinese characters to make them seem Chinese. For instance, one of the first main characters is 衛府弓銃壱, read as efu kyuujuichi, that is, F91. Other times it’s a meaning translation, like 翔狼士 for Doven Wolf. I’m not sure what the setting has to do with the Warring States period, though, since all the characters are derived from Gundams rather than historical figures.

The series began as a manga with action figures and other property, then this game came out. It apparently centers on the story of the second Sengoku-den series, although through optional battles it incorporates elements of the other series as well. I will begin with the story and characters, which are the most disappointing part of the game.

They put quite a bit of effort into cramming as many of the series’ mechs as they could, including over 100 of the mechs from all the Sengoku-den series. While this may have been a lot of fun for fans of the series, it means that if you don’t know the franchise at all it tends to just be confusing. Only a few of the characters are even slightly fleshed out, and by the end I really didn’t feel like I even knew who the main characters were. The story is bland — you set out to defeat the Dark Emperor, and every battle is just showing up in a place and beating the Dark Emperor’s forces. There are one or two small plot developments but nothing major.

In addition to the 30 main stages, there are 20 optional stages (including a secret final stage). These stages sometimes involve a magical time travel to the past to fight historic battles, which allows them to insert Gundams from the previous series. Once again probably delightful for fans, but is hard to appreciate for me.

One of the things I like about Super Robot Taisen is that they do a good job of trying to introduce and develop the characters even if you haven’t seen the series. There are so many that it can become overwhelming if you aren’t familiar with a large portion of them, but at least they try. Here they don’t even try. The amount of content in the game means that this is more than just a cheap cash grab, but they weren’t trying to reach out to anyone beyond people who were already fans.

But the designers’ attempt to appeal to the fans of the franchise means that they put a lot of effort into the graphics, and it shows. The sprites of all the characters are quite good for Super Famicom, and when you compare them to Super Robot Taisen 4 which came out the same year, they’re much better. They also took the time to put all the attacks for each unit as well as decent animations for each one. This is definitely a strong point of the game.

The design of the interface also fits the Chinese them. Instead of arabic numbers, which are used in every game, this uses the Chinese characters to display everything — so 78 hp is 七八. Terms that would normally be done in English or Japanized English are done using Chinese-derived terms. So damage, rather than ダメージ (which is just the English word “damage”) is 痛手.  All the option menu things like BGM and animations are also in Chinese. The Chinese numbers for the stats take a lot of getting used to but it contributes to the theme.

Next, the gameplay. I’m somewhat hampered in covering this. Due to the coronavirus I was not able to acquire the instruction manual, and there are parts of the system that are still opaque to me even after finishing the game.

The system runs on speed-based turns, although I don’t know whether a unit can take more turns than another unit. I don’t think so, but I’m not sure about this. A nice addition to this game is that there are numbers from 1-9 that show who is going next. Multiple people can have the same number so you can’t be sure exactly who is going to go next, but this provides more clarity than a game like Shining Force where you can’t always plan your moves fully.

The system is standard SRPG; units can move, and then use attacks (with varying ranges, including AOE attacks), special moves, and some units can cast spells. Spells use SP, and the special moves can each be used a certain number of times each map. Moves have an element like Fire or Ice, or non elemental. They can cause status effects, or take away enemy SP.

The main problem with all of this is that the game provides no indication of what the power of each move is. I often found that moves did surprisingly low, or surprisingly high damage. I assume this has to do with some kind of weakness or strength of the monsters, but without the instruction manual I had no idea what the affinities were other than obvious things like Fire->Ice. Ranged attacks are nice because the enemy doesn’t get to counter, but I could never tell how the ranged attacks compared in damage to the melee — often they didn’t seem very different.

This also means I could not tell whether the last set of stages was poorly designed, or whether I just didn’t know enough about the system to tackle them effectively. I found that by this point the grunts were so strong, and did so much damage with their range and AOE effects, that it was effectively impossible to beat them. I could take a few out, but the only way I managed to beat the final stages was that eventually the boss will move towards you, and he always did it early enough that I could send everyone up in a big suicide attack to beat him before he killed all my units. If these had been “destroy all enemies” or if the bosses had stayed put, I’m not sure I would have been able to win the game.

There is an overworld map that you move around on. You can stop and buy healing items and some equippable things. The money is also used to pay your guys to join each fight, so sometimes you have to choose to take fewer units into battle than you can. The higher level a character is, the more they cost.

This is the final secret stage, where you can send out 32 units from a field of 57.

So my overall view of the game is ambiguous. The design and graphics are nice, the story is poor, and the system is complex but I never fully understood it because I didn’t have the instruction manual and the in-game assistance was not good enough.

    SRPG Game 37 – Super Robot Taisen 4

    As usual for the Super Robot Taisen games, I’m pasting my old forum comments from 13 years ago, so this will not be the usual kind of post.
    Overall this is the best of the SRW games for Super Famicom and I think it has an impressive amount of content for a game of this era. It still can be quite difficult if you try to play it without any walkthroughs or help, and the system is still fairly rough compared to later SRW games. But if you like this era of SRPGs I would definitely recommend it.
    —-
    ===================
    SRW 4 (Dai-4-ji Super Robot Taisen)
    Super Famicom, 1994
    ===================

    SRW 4 came out about a year after EX. After you beat each route of EX it says the story will be continued in 4, so they were planning it at that time. This represents a huge leap from 3 and EX, and is the pinnacle of SRW on the SF (not counting the Gaiden game) [Kurisu 2020 note: I now think Gaiden (Masou Kishin) is not as good as SRW 4].

    All the series from 3 and EX reappear, with the addition of five new series: Zambot 3, L-Gaim, Dancougar, Daimos, and Shin Getter Robo. There are over 250 characters in the game.

    The changes from EX:
    – FINALLY you can choose on a per-attack basis whether to dodge, block, or counter.
    – You can now upgrade the mobility of a mech.
    – Pilots now have two states, shooting and melee, and the weapons are separated into those types.
    – You can equip items on a mech, although items are found on secret spaces on the map rather than from defeating enemies.
    – Barriers (I. Field, etc.) now stop only certain levels of damage, not any attack like in the previous games.
    – The pilots have skills now like Newtype and Sword Cut.
    – The storywriting is much better; the character development is integrated with the plot better, the plots from the anime are used more overtly, and there are more factions with individuality.
    – You have a customizable original main character.
    – You can now see the damage you do to enemies over 10,000 HP, and when you drop them below 10,000, you get to see their true max HP.
    – There is a character and robot dictionary in the options menu.
    – The system where losing an ally changes people’s morale based on their personality is added in this game (always makes a bigger difference on the enemy side).
    – You can no longer see the enemy stats until you fight them once.
    – The designers started to think more about the seishin and match the seishin to the character’s personality. New seishin were added as well.
    – Some units (like Combattler) can now separate and combine.
    – The difference between Real and Super robots really increases in this entry. This is the first game where the game actually mentions “real” and “super” in the game, and there are specific stages for each. Also, with the introduction of the Mobility stat for mechs, the difference in dodging between a real and super robot is much more extreme than it was in the previous games. The size modifier hit rate also enters the game with 4, which adds to this.

    Stage 1 – The Beginning

    I took Ring with the magic 9/2 O birthday setup.  Real Robot.

    Interestingly enough, in this game, DC and Neue DC are different groups.  Here you get attacked by DC.  This is a pretty good starting map; there’s a 10000 gold spot in easy reach (Fa is a good item getter), two items, and two bosses with good money if you use Luck.  I was able to beat both Brocken and Ashura (Brocken flees at turn 6) and beat the stage in 5 turns.  I made 43,000 so that’s pretty good for stage 1 (I think for the first time ever I actually used Boss’ explosion seishin to hit 4 guys at once). 

    Where you go for stage 2 is determined by the turn count here; I finished under 7 so that I can get the L-Gaim units earlier.

    Stage 2 – Mysterious Visitors

    Heavy Metal L-Gaim enters the SRW franchise.

    Of course, they have the great beam coating (which is so frustrating on the enemies)

    If you didn’t beat the previous stage in 7 turns or less, you don’t get the L-Gaim units until a little later.  The Titans also make their first appearance on this stage.

    I wonder if it’s possible to beat Hardias, who runs at turn 5.  I think it might be, if you spend all your money upgrading Getter Beam and send every unit towards him as fast as possible.  Even then it might not be, though.

    Stage 3 – A New Enemy

    First Heavy Metal stage.  It’s somewhat hard, although most of the enemies don’t have the beam coats.  You can end the stage more quickly by going after Gablae first, but that might actually make it harder.  There are also a lot of good items on this map.

    Stage 4 – Special training!  Daisetsuzan Oroshi

    Unlike the other path, this stage has only the Getter Robo and Texas Mack.  Ashura’s Bood gives good money so I defeated him with Mack instead of Getter (Mary King has the Luck seishin).

    Stage 5 – Bright’s Return

    This is the “save the medeas” stage; it’s much, much easier than the one in SRW F.  If you just take your fast guys up to the top (use Speed) and leave slower people down at the bottom to deal with the reinforcements, it shouldn’t be too much trouble to save all three.  The Dancougar pilots join in this map — the four pilots and Hazuki (I think) are the only Dancougar people to show up in this game; even Shapiro does not appear.

    Stage 6 – Stampede

    Interesting stage.  The Dragonasarus has gone berserk and you have to kill it before it reaches a town.  The Titans help you out a bit, and the main character’s love interest appears.  The Dragonasaurus is most easily defeated by luring it onto land (just don’t let it touch the city) and then kill it.  The problem is Ashura’s Bood.  Ideally you would want to kill both the Bood and the D, but if you kill the D, Ashura retreats.  The problem is that Getter 1 is the most effective robot to attack the D (because once it wastes a few shots, it can’t attack flying units), but you probably won’t be able to beat the Bood without Getter 3.  I didn’t want to waste too many turns so I just went ahead and took out the D, but you might be able to plan it better.

    Stage 7 – Fighter Daimos

    As the title suggests, Daimos enters the SRW franchise.

    I’m disappointed that F removed Daimos from the lineup (they also took out Zambot 3 and the Daitarn 3 enemies…not Super Robot fans, I guess.)  Here’s Richter and Koros from Daitarn talking — this is also a rare instance of Daitarn’s enemies appearing in the game:

    Stage 8 – Love of the Battlefield

    Everyone’s favorite stages — Heavy Metal enemies. I upgraded my super robot attacks pretty well so this wasn’t too tough. Thankfully the beam coats now do not offer complete protection so Amuro in the Re-GZ can kill enemies with hot blood.

    Stage 9 – Zambot 3 Appears

    Zezenan talks to Koros to make an alliance with the DC:

    Zambot 3 is a rare appearance in SRW; I think aside from 4 it only appears in Compact 2/Impact, but I could be wrong.

    Stage 10 – Sorrowful Memories

    Sara is here, but Scirocco is dead — some continuity from 3.  It seems like they were a little more careful with the 3/EX->4 continuity than they were with the 2->3 (F torpedoes it all, though).

    Stage 11 – Awaken, Dancougar!

    Title tells it all.  Dancougar sucks in this game for the most part; it can’t fly, it doesn’t have the Beastly ability, and you have to choose between Combattler V and Dancougar (allegedly because of space issues on the save file).

    Stage 12 – Guyzock’s Terror

    Roph appears here talking to Butcher:

    Guest seems to have their hand in the whole pot much more than in F, although I haven’t seen the end of FF yet.

    Defeating Butcher here before turn 8 changes events later in the game; I just used upgraded super robot attacks, and finished him off with Ring:

    Stage 13 – Surfacing

    Dunbine appears.

    Stage 14 – Mazinger, flying in the sky

    Gilliam shows up here, and strangely gets Neppu! Shippu! Cybuster as his theme instead of Time to Come.

    Stage 15 – Miia’s Decision

    The Combattler V plot is introduced and finished in two stages; quite abrupt.  Although most of this map is Richter attacking you, using all DC forces (I guess the “alliance” was more Richter joining DC).  Also, after this map is the first instance of technical limitations of this game; apparently there were problems with the size of the save file, so in a few cases you have to choose between characters.  Here you have to pick Nana or Kyoushiro, not a huge problem.

    Stage 16 – Great General Garuda’s Tragedy

    Here’s the end of the Combattler V plot (again).  Most of the map is just fighting DC; in F they at least allow this to be a whole stage to give Garuda some dignity.

    Stage 17 – The Expansion of the Aura Battlers

    You get one of the Dunbine battleships in this mission depending on whether you have Galaria or not (you get a better one if you don’t have her; I should have killed her).  Then it’s more Heavy Metal enemies, but they’re not too bad if you’ve upgraded Super Robots enough.

    Stage 18 – Intruder

    You have 6 turns to get to the base.  Some people like to hang around until turn 6 and beat as many enemies as they can; I just rushed Amuro to the base in 3 turns.  The Guest units appear here:

    The treatment of the Guest is interesting in 4; they take a long time to show up, but the heroes seem to immediately connect them with Inspectors way before they even know what’s going on (as early as stage 1 or 2).  In F, Zeb and Seti show up (and call themselves “Guest”) pretty early, but nobody seems to connect them with the Inspectors or even mention that as a possibility.

    Stage 19 – The End of Baron Ashura

    I sort of took a cheap way out on this stage.  Once you beat Ashura you have 6 turns to get out of the base.  What I did was just take Getter 1 and the Gespenst over to Ashura and kill him, and then let the enemies destroy both units to save turns (for some reason if you get defeated then you don’t lose the map — this would be much harder if the condition was to leave the base in 6 turns and nobody can get killed).

    Stage 20 – Elegy for an Old Soldier

    This is kind of a tough stage; there are a lot of MS enemies with high mobility (the super robots have a much tougher time hitting them than they did in EX and 3). I used Shou in the Zwarth as a decoy; he’s even better here than in F because Hyper Aura Giri is free, and the Zwarth has HP recovery. Sara joins you on this stage if you convince her with Katsu.

    Stage 21 – Dr. Hell’s Ambition

    Sharkin returns after being defeated in 3; they make a point to say in the dialogue that he was already defeated (and Garuda).  I don’t know if they’ll explain this — my guess is that all this bizarre activity will be explained due to Guest at the end, but we’ll see.

    Stage 22 – Turning Point

    This is a quick and easy stage; not much to say about it.  Afterwards you get to choose space or Earth; I want a change of pace so I took Space — we’re going to stop Neue DC from dropping a colony on Earth.

    Stage 23 – Into Space

    I thought this would be a hard level, since I was left with a lot of unupgraded and low level units; it was tough but I managed to do it just in time on turn 10.  My guys levelled up quite a bit from this fight.  (I had Amuro in the Z Gundam, which helped a lot.  Kou was in the Re-GZ; he sucks horribly, as usual.)

    Stage 24 – Meeting with AEUG

    Quattro and Grendizer come in here.

    The plots of 4 and F are such that listing the similarities would be easier than listing the differences, but in very very rough terms, this is the point in the story that SRW F reaches.  (It’s interesting that this is over halfway through 4, but only a little over a 1/3 of the way through F/FF combined.)

    Stage 25 – Assault! Limit Intervention Point

    You just have to get Bright to the colony to stop it, but I destroyed all the units on the map.  Go me.

    You also get help from some AEUG units, including the great Ball:

    Stage 26 – Londenion

    Lots of new units here; the Nu Gundam and the L-Gaim Mk II.  This is also the first appearance in SRW history of the Huckebein:

    It’s kind of odd to see the Huckebein as the most powerful unit instead of one of the least powerful.

    Stage 27 – Granzon’s Enigma

    The stage itself is unremarkable, but afterwards the backstory of Shu and Masaki is developed a lot (I assumed a lot of this development would be in EX, but EX hardly has anything).  Granzon is built using Guest technology, and Masaki mentions an event a lot like the one in OG1 when Shu causes the disruption in the Guest/Federation alliance.  At this point you still don’t really know what Guest is, though.

    Stage 28 – Neue DC

    Everyone’s favorite pink-haired villian shows up here:

    But you make peace with Neue DC so no fighting.  This is mostly a Goshogun stage.

    Stage 29 – Mars Connection

    Lots going on here.  You have to fight three waves of enemies — first DC, then Guest, then L-Gaim.  I made sure to head directly for the city so I could be there, and I used map attacks alot.  Unfortunately I lost my battleship and had to pay 60,000(!) for repairs…ouch.

    This is the first chance to fight one of the Guest bosses.  But why worry?

    Their difficulty is way, way overrated.

    Looking forward a bit, there are three possible L-Gaim final stages.  People mentioned on an older thread that the hard ones are some of the hardest stages in any SRW game, so I will try to avoid those.  To do so, the first thing you have to do is convince Olibee with Daba in this stage (RR only…if you are on the SR route you automatically get the hardest Poseidal stage at the end.)

    Stage 30 – Koros and Don Zauser

    You come across the other Masou Kishin characters here, but they leave to chase after Shu, and you get a pretty generic fight.

    Afterwords, Koros reveals herself as the leader of DC.  This section shows the older style of SRW writing — Banjo mentions that his father created the meganoids but this is just sort of a throwaway line; nobody reacts to it or mentions it again.

    Stage 31 – Storm of Kilimanjaro

    This is a rare “sky” stage in SRW, where you can only send out flying units.

    Stage 32 – The Day of Dakar

    You have a choice here — have Blex killed and lose Quattro, or keep Blex alive and keep Quattro.  If you lose Quattro, you can get Gato and the Atomic Bazooka later.  I chose to lose Quattro because he’s in a lot more games than Gato is.  This stage has a lot of interspersed story in it; much more like the later SRWs.

    Stage 33 – Total Balance

    A Dunbine stage.  There seems to be a split within the Aura Battler enemies.

    Stage 34 – A New Power

    This is the final Guyzock stage (if you killed Butcher earlier so he couldn’t abduct the kids).  You can beat it in 3 turns or so by sending the Huckebein at max speed and then hitting Butcher with Miracle + fully upgraded Rip Slasher a few times.

    Stage 35 – Singularity Point Collapse

    This stage contains the big backstory reveal.  The Granzon had a “black box” containing black hole technology from Guest.  The technology opened a singularity that increased the chance of strange events happening — Zezernan planned this so that a lot of bad things would happen to the Earth, making it easier to come and take over.  But Shu unlocked the secrets of the technology and stops the singularity, which also prevents Zezernan from bringing more reinforcements (for some reason).

    You also get the Shin Getter here.  This is a new entry in this game; here’s the signature attack (Stoner Sunshine):

    The Black Hole Cannon also gets added to the Huckebein.

    Stage 36 – The Glorious Sunset

    This is the final stage for the Titans and Aura Battlers, and it’s a long, tough stage.  There are a total of 51 enemies, 23 of which are named.  Also, before this stage your group splits into two teams, so you probably don’t even have a lot of your most powerful units here.

    Someone was mentioning earlier that the named enemies had normal suits in the older games.  This is true, and it changes the strategy — you can’t really just save all your EN and SP for the “bosses” because that’s a waste.  I usually use most of my stuff on the grunts instead.  For this stage I had to expend almost all my resources and send my units back into the ship multiple times to refill their weapons.  MAP attacks are a huge help here — I made good use of Huckebein’s Micro Missile, ZZ’s Hyper Mega Cannon, and L-Gaim II’s Buster Launcher.  (Only 5 more levels for Lilith and she gets Miracle, supposedly.)

    Now everything on Earth is taken care of; time to go into space and finish off DC, Neue DC, Poseidal, and Guest.

    Stage 37 – Guest and Inspector

    This is a tough stage; like the last one, you just have half the team, and the Guest enemies are pretty strong.  I lost quite a few of the scrubs but I won in the end — the repair costs aren’t high enough to bother resetting.

    Afterwards, Mekiboz explains the Guest/Inspector relationship.  Interestingly enough, he calls the group Zovork:

    The Japanese wikipedia article has Zovorg, so maybe they changed it in F/FF.  But “Zuvorg” seems to be wrong; probably there aren’t too many people who have played 4 or F/FF that know Japanese, so that spelling became established.

    Stage 38 – Poseidal’s Ambition

    Another tough Guest/Poseidal stage; there aren’t quite as many enemies as the last two, and with three MAP attackers it’s not all that bad.

    This is the second step in getting the easy Oldna Poseidal stage — you have to convince Olibee with Daba (this only works if you did it once before) and then Gablae with Daba.

    Stage 39 – Ryuune Cappricio

    I thought SRW 4 was fairly easy for the most part, but ever since this team split and these Guest/DC/Poseidal stages, it’s different — I think this game might be harder than SRW 3.  There are always double move enemies that can go all over the place, and the combined attacks of a large number of enemies can often kill a super robot even upgraded.  Since you only have about half of your good units, your firepower is reduced as well.

    I was unable to save Gato in this stage; the NPCs are stupid and will never dodge or block, even if they are out of range of the enemies.  This makes it really hard to keep them alive.  I guess I should have kept Quattro.

    Valsione R makes its debut, with a much better sprite than the original Valsione:

    Unfortunately Ryuune doesn’t join you here.

    287 turns with 5 stages left until the final stage, so I should have no problem getting the good ending.  (I had 720,000 money after this stage so I tried to spend a lot of it…)

    It looks like in 4S they added a stage at this point where you go save Presia; here it just takes place off screen.

    Stage 40 – The Dark Side of the Moon

    This is a Guest/DC level but it’s much easier than the previous ones.  L-Gaim II was really useful here because the enemies kept lining up — one MAP took out 8 people, another took out 12 (the maximum).  ZZ’s MAP was also useful; I didn’t even have to use the Huckebein’s.

    This is the third and last step in avoiding the hard Poseidal stage — you have to convince Puru or Puru II with Judau, and then agree to go with them to Sweet Water after the battle (first choice).

    Stage 41 – Scatter to Axis

    Another Guest level — this one is decently hard but if you make good use of Zamjeed and Cybuster’s MAP attacks it’s manageable.  It looks like the Guest units don’t have anything beyond Leige Gheios; the Org Baryu and such were added in F.

    Stage 42 – Haman’s Shadow

    This is the end of Neue DC — you can convince Haman with Judau and then kill some enemies, and she’ll leave, entrusting the fight against Guest to Londo Bell.  Interestingly enough, you do not have to fight Haman at any point in 4.

    Stage 43 – Oldna Poseidal

    The final L-Gaim stage, but if you take this route it’s quite easy.  All you have are three enemies:

    You only have to kill Blood Temple.  He has a lot of HP and is on a 30% defense increase scale, but when you have every unit in your arsenal at full HP, EN, and SP, he doesn’t stand a chance.  I can imagine this fight being extremely difficult if you take one of the other routes and have to fight all the armies, plus Original Auge, plus Blood Temple.

    Stage 44 – Deathmatch in the Wastelands

    The final DC stage.  I pulled a cheapo and just went after Korosu and Don Zauser, so this wasn’t much of a fight (although I did lose a number of units).

    I have 308 turns so that’s enough whether it’s 320 or 350, so Shuu joined my team (causing Ryuune, Yanlong, and Tytti to leave).

    Stage 45 – Final Battle on Mars

    Before this stage, Bright tells you that you only need to defeat Zezernan.  OK Bright, if you say so!  That only took 2 turns — I just rocketed my guys there as fast as possible and used one Soul’ed Sun Attack (then Z recovers HP), two Miracled Black Hole Cannons, a Hot Blood Ion Cannon, and then one Miracle Slash Ripper (I used Zambot 3’s seishin to give Ring two additional turns).

    The end!

    PCE Game 31 – Princess Minerva

    Princess Minerva (プリンセスミネルバ)
    Released 3/25/1994, River Hill Soft


     
    This is another game that started out for Japanese PCs (in 1992) and then had ports to both the PC Engine and Super Famicom. The SFC version has a translation patch. It seems like it’s mostly the same game except that some of the dungeons are differently laid out (and they added some new ones). The PCE also has voice and some animated cutscenes that are not in the SFC version.

    I’ve noticed a trend that the Japanese computer RPGs don’t just copy Dragon Quest II but usually have some innovation in the system — it doesn’t always work, but at least they tried. Princess Minerva is no exception. It also has a large amount of fan service — I don’t know how much of this survives into the SFC version, but I probably can’t even provide some of the PCE version pictures unless I want the blog to be 18+.

    The game opening tells us that Princess Minerva got bored and decided to form a Royal Bodyguard of all women, so 8 different women joined up (who represent all kinds of common fetishes — loli, china dress girl, BDSM chick, etc) Of course they wear armor that makes no sense:

    The game opens with them all in a bath.

    Minerva is bored, but just then an arrow shoots through the room with a letter, from someone named Dynaster, who has sent out her minions to all the areas of the kingdom, turning girls into monsters. She challenges Minerva to stop her, and thus the quest begins.

    As the story indicates, you have 9 party members. You organize them in groups of 3, and in a random encounter it randomly picks one of the groups, with the top one the most likely. Although having 9 members might seem cumbersome, the interface for equipping and buying things is very clean and easy to use, and makes it smoother than a lot of the games I’ve played that only have 3 or 4 characters. This also means you can make greater use of everyone’s magic and skills, partly because the drain is spread around to all the units, but also because tents and sleeping bags are fairly cheap (and can be used in dungeons).

    Each character has five different areas to gain XP — Sword, hand-to-hand, magic, priest, and elf. Each character has their own specialty; you can see Minerva’s percentages in the shot above. When you gain XP in a battle, the percentages determine the chance of that XP going to a particular skill. So Minerva has a 50% chance of the XP going to Sword, and only a 15% chance of it going to Priest. When any of the bars fills up, the character gains a skill level and an overall level. The skill level determines learning new skills and magic, and also what armor and weapons can be equipped. The overall level raises the stats, HP, and MP depending on what kind of level was gained (e.g. a priest level gets more MP than a Sword level). There are a few caves in the game where you can drink water to change the percentages, but these are not common.

    Battles are vs. 1-4 enemies (all the enemies are girls, often nude or scantily clad). You can attack or use abilities, do a combined attack, and the last option is to repeat the actions from last turn, which is a convenient addition.

    The skills can take either MP, SP, or TP.

    When you equip a new armor you get a picture:

    That’s probably the least revealing outfit there is; they provide a lot of “cosplay” type outfits like china dress, school swimsuit, leotard, and even “King’s Outfit” which is a naked pose. The PC Engine was definitely the main target for this kind of game.

    The game is divided into six chapters; I’ll just cover chapter 1 on this initial post and then do the rest in the next one so that people can just see an overview of the game if they want. The first four chapters are in the outlying areas where Dynaster sent her minions, beginning with Dream Navi in the Duchy of Tselmat.

    The first small quest is to save the commander of the town guard, who is is a small cave. The reward is supposedly 1000 gold, but when we return he acts like he has no idea what we’re talking about.

    For the boss battles, you either pick a team, as in this case:

    Or for the big boss battles you can choose any three characters.

    Whenever Princess Minerva has to deal with one of these evil thieves or commanders, there’s a parody of Cutie Honey and other magical girl series where everyone transforms into Cutie Kamen fighters.

    The commander is no problem, and then it’s time for a bath scene at the inn.

    But Dream Navi appears, and kicks the heroine’s butts by confusing them in her dream world.

    But in usual villain fashion she doesn’t kill us here, but tells us to meet her in the No Entry Tower, which is through the No Entry Forest. This requires some intermediate quests to figure out how to make it through the forest, but once we do, it’s on to the tower. Fortunately the tower has a recovery spring in front (the walkthrough on GameFAQs makes me think this is not in the SNES version).

    Finally at the top of all these dungeons is Dream Navi. 

    Minerva, Mizuno, and Bluemoris are weak to her confuse attack (the ones in the bath scene), so as long as you pick other people than that it’s not too bad. Potions are cheap and you have a ton of money in this early section.

    Dream Navi then goes back to Dynaster and announces her failure, and gets punched out of the screen. On to the next land, and chapter 2!

    This is definitely one of the best PC Engine RPGs I’ve played to date; despite being a fanservice game they actually took time to make a decent system and a clean, usable interface. Good for them!

    SRPG Game 36 – Another Bible

    FACTS

    1. Turn type: Player/enemy turns.
    2. Maps: Small. Terrain gives bonuses.
    3. Character Customization: You get points to freely spend at level up.
    4. Character Development: Standard XP/level system. Monsters can transform into new monsters after a few levels.
    5. Party Size: Max 10 on a stage.
    6. Equipment: One item.
    7. Game Flow: 21 stages. No alternate paths or repeats.
    8. Saving: In battle only.
    9. Death: Monster death is permanent. Main character death is a game over. Other characters can be revived out of battle.

    This game is another in the long running Megami Tensei franchise. In the way that Majin Tensei was a counterpart to the Shin Megami Tensei games, this is a counterpart to the Last Bible games. The three Last Bible games are all based on the MT idea of summoning and recruiting monsters, but they take place in fantasy worlds rather than the dark, post-apocalyptic settings of the MT games. The storylines are more simplistic good vs. evil fights rather than the more nuanced MTs. These statements apply equally well to Another Bible.

    This is also the first of a few games that I will be playing on the Super Game Boy. This was a Super Famicom cart that you put a Game Boy game in. I recommend the series of posts Fuck The Super Game Boy to learn more about it.

    For Another Bible, we get a custom border, as well as custom palettes for the character pictures (so that appropriate colors can be used for them). In the screenshot below, a separate palette coloring has been applied to the bottom left square to provide colors specific to the character.

    You start out with a main character, and quickly acquire a number of other human characters, including the female main character (in the above illustration). She has the ability you need to recruit monsters to your side. Unlike all previous MT franchise games, this game has no talking process for recruiting the monsters — you simply use the ability and they join. You can only have one monster of each type.

    The monsters gain levels just like the humans, although they need more XP. When they reach level 3, they will upgrade to a new monster in the same type, to a limit of 3 or 4 transformations. They also get 5 bonus points for states instead of 2 when they level up, so they can be quite powerful. The human characters are pretty good too, although given the theme of the game I tried to use monsters as often as possible.

    There is no monster combination system. Instead, there is a way you can combine monsters with robots. But I found this system underdeveloped — I didn’t even get a robot until very late in the game, and by that point my monsters were so good it was hard for me to see what the benefit was of combining them with the robots. I did one combination but I didn’t notice anything special about the result.

    Speed is the most important stat in this game; as in Majin Tensei 2 you get two attacks if your speed is high enough compared to the enemies.

    My party was usually a full team of monsters, the main character, and the Freon/Ozone sisters because they can talk to each other to double their attack power, have healing magic, and a range 2 attack with their spear.

    The story is quite simplistic; monsters from the Beast Cult are attacking and the hero decides to save the world. There is some complication later and a few small twists but it’s a kiddie-grade plot that barely serves to move the narrative forward.

    Between many stages you can stop at towns and gain information, as well as buy items. The most useful item is the Joy Coin, which gives the wearer 5 xp per turn.

    One other point of interest is that some of the levels are multi-level, with the staircase leading to a new place. Unlike the other MT games, each unit has to move up the stairs individually. This leads to a very slow fight in some cases, especially a few stages with empty floors.

    The game’s difficulty is quite low until the very end. I don’t know why so many SRPGs have this issue. The final boss can basically only be hurt by the main character (because he has a power that ignores defense), but the final boss can kill the main character with a single critical hit. So there’s a lot of resetting and waiting for luck.

    Overall, this is a fine game when you consider the period it came out and the fact that it came out for a handheld system. But I’ll repeat the same thing I’ve said about the other handheld games I’ve played. The primary selling point of a game like this, that it can be played away from a TV, is no longer relevant in 2020. This means games like this have aged far more poorly than the console games, and I’m afraid for most people this game will not be worth playing. It’s not bad, but it’s not particularly good either.