Monthly Archives: April 2021

SRPG Game 54 – Der Langrisser FX

Der Langrisser FX ( デア ラングリッサーFX)
Released 4/26/1996, developed by Masaya
 

  

(Game 54 should be Dragon Force but I’m having a lot of trouble figuring out how to play the game, and it’s a pretty stressful time at the end of semester for me, so I’m going to switch the order and do DF next.)

This game is for the ill-fated PC-FX, NEC and Hudson’s attempt at a follow up to the popular PC Engine. They evidently started developing it in 1992, and by the time it was actually released it was woefully inferior to the Playstation and Saturn. It seems like its only advantage was that the console was designed to be good at playing full motion video, and it was designed to be upgradeable. But it cost $100 more than the Playstation (and within 6 months it was $200 more expensive). Ultimately only 62 games came out for the system, and though NEC tried some things to save the system they weren’t able to.

Der Langrisser FX is the only game I know I will be playing for this system — there are two more potential entries but neither one may turn out to qualify as an SRPG.

Of course, this is a remake of Der Langrisser for the Super Famicom, which itself was an expanded remake of Langrisser II. Der Langrisser changed a lot of things, but the most notable is the addition of multiple scenarios. The original story of L2 is now the “light” path. On Stage 7 you can take the “Imperial” path instead, and then from there you can do the “Independent” and “Chaos” paths. There are also different paths within these major paths, although I don’t know how much the story actually changes or how different the maps are. There are a total of 78 stages plus 3 hidden secret stages.

 

I have to give this game a lot of credit for they way they implemented the multiple paths. Having different paths is not a new concept — Super Robot Wars 3 did it in 1993, and Tactics Ogre had major route splits as well. But often the route splits in games don’t actually modify the story or make big changes, they just take a different path to the same outcome or show you different things that are happening at the same time. Tactics Ogre went somewhat beyond this, although in the end the story does end up in the same place. But Der Langrisser actually lets you join opposing factions; if you pick the Imperial route you’ll be fighting against all the people that were your allies in L2 (or the light path). The Independent path puts you against everyone, and I think the “Chaos” path allies you with the demon enemies.

The overall game is a bit shorter, and easier, than L2, and there are some gameplay changes (like you can no longer buy multiple types of units for one commander). I’m not sure what the full differences are, though.

There seem to be no gameplay changes from Der to Der FX except for the addition of one extra secret scenario that I can’t find much information on. The graphics were redone (with new face portraits) and perhaps 50% of the dialogue is voiced. There are also some FMV animated sequences added. If you can understand Japanese this is probably a better way to play Der than the original SFC version (although maybe the Saturn or PSX ones are even better).

 

I’m going to do the Imperial route this time. I had initially planned to do the Imperial->Independent but the first stage of the Independent path is pretty hard if you haven’t focused your XP on Hein, Elwin, and Rohga. I may do this path when I reach Langrisser Dramatic Edition for the Saturn in 1998.

The first 6 stages are basically the first 12 stages of Langrisser II, compressed a bit and with a new character Rouga (and I think there’s a new character on the Imperial side as well). Stage 7 is new, with a character who is Rouga’s sister but seems to be attacking us. This is where you get the choice — Leon offers to let you join the Empire. If you pick no, then you’re on the Langrisser II path, otherwise you can do the other 3 paths. So I picked no.

It was strange after playing L2 to see Elwin ditch everyone and go over to the Imperial side (although Hein and Rouga follow). Here’s where I’ll start doing stage by stage coverage.

Stage 8 (Imperial)

This is the same bridge map that was in Langrisser II, although this time Keith and others are trying to block your progress. The fliers are problematic and the Angel Knights seem to be much better against bows than they should be. The pixies go down easily but the knights don’t. In any case Elwin’s pikemen were able to hold off the horsemen while I dealt with the flying units, and then once they were gone it was easy to break through and take out the rest of the troops.

Stage 9 

Vargas joins here. I guess one thing good about this route is that he will get to see his child grow up? We’ll see how it concludes.


Stage 10 

This is another bridge crossing level, with Aaron as the enemy.

Stage 11

This is a lot like the L2 stage where you’re trying to reach the Langrisser before Leon does, but here you need either Leon or Elwin to grab it before Jessica can make it there. I decided to just ignore the enemies and go for the Langrisser as quickly as I could, and let Laird take out most of the enemies.

This is where you can decide not to give the Langrisser to the Empire, which sends you on the “you vs. everyone” path. I tried this the first time but it leaves you with only Rohga, Hein, and Elwin. My Rohga was very underlevelled; I probably could have soldiered through but I decided just to continue on in the Imperial route.

Stage 12

Now we have the Langrisser, which I gave to Elwin (Leon can also equip it, I’ll shift it to him later when we get the Alhazard.

Stage 13

This is where the Imperial route starts getting really serious. I have to give Masaya credit for not pulling their punches at all in setting up the routes. Through the rest of the game you will end up killing all of the heroes from the Light side, and they all have sad death scenes (voiced in FX, of course). Here, we surround Loren’s villa and slaughter his entire troop, including him and Scott. They try to escape but you lose if any of them do, so you’re forced to kill them all to make sure they don’t alert others. This requires good units on the top of the map — I put Elwin up there with pikemen to make sure I could deal with Scott when he eventually began to run. Some horsemen appear and go up the sides of the map around the villa, but they move slowly enough through the water that they’re not a big threat.

I also found that this period and the next 3-4 stages was the hardest part of the game. As with both L1 and L2, once people start getting their 4th/5th classes the game becomes significantly easier. But here the enemies were getting harder but I still did not have the advanced classes yet. 

Stage 14

This is Aaron’s death scenario. I split my group into two, sending Elwin with his pikemen up to the top bridge. The harpies continue to be very annoying even with my bowmen and ballistae; often I end up just killing the leader of these units so I don’t have to deal with them. 


 Stage 15

Now we have to capture Riana. Having Egbert as a companion is weird; the rest of them seem fine but he just always seems evil no matter what we’re trying to do. But here we need Riana to be able to unlock the true power of both the Langrisser and the other sword. The main issue here is that once Jessica realizes what’s going on, Riana will start fleeing to the right side of the map so you have to have enough troops to block her long enough for Egbert to get up there. I think I actually just ended up killing everyone (except Riana herself, of course) which also ends the stage.

Stage 16

Hein has meteor now, and the enemies are getting it too. I really don’t like L2/Der’s Meteor — it seems unbalanced to me with its massive range and area. Although I suppose in general the enemies seem to get more use out of it than I do so maybe the unbalance works out in their favor. 

This is a pretty short stage — Rohga moves up to make Sonia flee, and then it’s just Bozel left. I didn’t bother trying to kill everything. I didn’t even hire troops for anyone but Leon, and just killed Bozel. Money becomes a problem from here on out because of how many generals I have; I usually hired just 4 troops per person.

After this you can chase Bozel or Jessica; I went after Bozel because it seemed more heroic. But presumably we’ll be slaughtering Jessica too by the end of the game.

Stage 17

Rohga can convince Sonia to join here. She always was terrible for me and I never got any good use out of her; I think she just joins too late in the game at not a high enough rank.

Stage 18

This is a tough stage because of how many meteor users there are. I failed the first time; the key was to move all the front units back at the start to pull them out of the meteor range. Hein’s ballista take out the wizards near the start of the map, and then I just advanced slowly, taking out the enemies as I went.


Stage 19

Another sad stage as Lester dies. This is a fast stage because Lester rushes you so you can take him out pretty quickly; I guess I could have farmed all the XP from the rest of the units but I decided to move on.

Stage 20

The sadness continues with Shelly dying here. By this time the game was pretty easy; Leon and Elwin were in their bonus classes and almost everyone else was in the last promote.

Stage 21

The death of Jessica. It’s an odd stage because 5 of your units start all the way to the left and 3 near Jessica, Liana, and Lana. I tried to see if I could beat the game just by using the 3 on the right — I picked Hein, Leon, and Elwin. I did it, but it took a lot of reloading. The three magic users can do a lot of damage and I was quickly left with just the commanders. Eventually I was able to heal Leon with Elwin, and then have Leon go up and kill Jessica with one hit.

Unfortunately the game froze during the ending, but I watched it on a youtube play. As I said before, I have to give the game credit for giving you the route option and then sticking with it. There’s no attempt to make the Empire seem less bad than it is on the Light route. 

I very well may do the Independent/Dark route when I reach the Langrisser 2 remakes for either the PSX or the SAT; it will be a while before I get there.

I have a feeling there is no real need to play this version, though. If you can’t understand Japanese you’re better off playing the original game with the patch, and if you can read Japanese, I assume either the PSX or SAT versions of the game are better than this.

Game list (1994, September – December)

Rather than a game update this week, I will post my list of games for the remainder of 1994. This begins with a list I cobbled together from various sources; the bold games are the ones I’m actually going to play. This is the last major release period for the PC Engine — there are 6 in this block of games. But after this, there are only 6 games in all of 1995 and just one in 1996. So anyone who is wishing I would stop playing these PC Engine games and focus on SFC will get their wish soon.

  • The Glory of Heracles IV: Gift from the Gods 
  • Startling Odyssey 2 (PCE)
  • Basted (PCE) – I initially had this on the list but it does not qualify as an ARPG for me; there’s no equipment, levels, or items. It’s more an adventure/actino game.
  • Feda: Emblem of Justice – SRPG, already done on the other blog.
  • Ilvanian Castle – I’ve seen some places categorize this as an SRPG but to me it’s just a strategy game; all of your units are nameless grunts you summon.
  • Shin Megami Tensei if… 
  • Magna Braban: Wandering Heroes 
  • Monster Maker Kids: I want to be a king! — I’m skipping all of these “RPG board game” hybrids because as far as I can tell, they have no real story mode or plot and most of them can’t be played solo. If anyone knows of one of these games (for Super Famicom) that can be played solo, or that does have some kind of plot, let me know.
  • Ultima VII Black Gate – English release, also a horrible port of a great PC game.
  • We’re Hiring Heroes Now: Seconds – Same comment as Ilvanian Castle above.
  • Gotzendeinner (PCE) – Some sites list this as an RPG but it’s more of an action/puzzle game.
  • Cosmic Fantasy 4 Part 2 (PCE) – I did part 1 but I don’t see the point of trying part 2; part 1 wasn’t that good.
  • Aretha II: Ariel’s Mysterious Journey
  • Breath of Fire II 
  • Dokapon 1-2-3: Friendship that Calls a Storm  (RPG boardgame)
  • The Last Battle 
  • Sugoroku Quest++ (RPG boardgame)
  • Lodoss War II (PCE) 
  • Albert Odyssey 2 – SRPG, done on other blog.
  • Daikaiju Monogatari 
  • Power of the Hired – SRPG, done on other blog.
  • Ryu Knight 
  • Fangs of Alnam (PCE)
  • Dual Orb II
  • Travelers (PCE) 

A lot of sequels here. BoF II is the most notable game here but hopefully some of the others will be good as well.

PCE Game 38 – Megami Paradise

Megami Paradise (女神天国)
Released 9/30/1994, published by NEC Home Electronics

 

As you might expect from the title and the PC Engine’s library, this is a fanservice RPG with a lot of girls — aspects of the game remind me of Princess Minerva. It’s based on some kind of reader-participation game that ran in Dengeki PC Engine. These games seem to have been popular in the 1990s but I’m not clear on exactly how it worked. I think it’s sort of like a Choose Your Own Adventure or Lone Wolf style game that you can create characters and play on your own from the magazine. Along with the game there was a manga, OVA, and this PC Engine RPG.

 

The story and setting is silly. The main character is Rinrin, studying at the Megami Academy to become a Megami (goddess). When she gets there she comes across the “MegaQ” orbs that the Academy guards, and not knowing what they are, throws them away, hits them with baseball bats, etc. and scatters them around the world. She then begins her registration to enter the school, but they learn about the “disappearance” of the MegaQ orbs. Rinrin has the help of Pop, a fairy, and is sent to go find them. Also sent out are the four goddesses of the school — Lulubell, Juliana, Lilith, and Stacea.

 

Opposing them is the student council, who is secretly working for the Yamamama (Darkness Mom), who wants to find the MegaQ to take over the world.

 

There is a lot of voiced dialogue and cutscenes. It may seem obvious since that was the PC Engine’s selling point (especially in late 1994), but a surprising number of games only add a tiny amount of this content to the game.

The first part of the game is entirely in the school. The student council sends out a message to all students that they should beat up Rinrin for going against the council, so the first random encounters are students from the tennis club, anime club, soccer club, etc.

The combat system is standard RPG except that all attacking is done through spells (which cost no MP). Each character can have 4 spells, which are learned by finding sunflowers that will teach them. One annoyance for me is that there’s no way to tell what each spell does, although the names have some onomatopoeic clue. However, this is an interesting system.

I found the first part annoyingly difficult. Since it’s just one character, you basically have to level up a lot. As usual the balance is way off; the bosses are much easier than the random encounters so if you can just survive to the bosses you’ll probably win.

The first area involves going around to the different school buildings, beating up the leaders of the clubs, and getting keys to the next area. There is a shop in the main building that sells outfits and items. Outfit changing requires you to go to a changing room, then you can equip different things. Each one has a “beauty” value and then raises one of three stats — goddess, defense, or speed. I think goddess is attack. I’m not entirely sure what the “beauty” value does, but the in-game explanations indicate it’s important to always have that as high as possible. Even a better defensive item, if the beauty is less, might not be as good.

 

You can unlock special skills by equipping certain pieces of clothing, or by combining certain outfits. Apparently you can also get cutscene pictures this way as well. 

Eventually I made it to the student council room and faced Rouge, one of the 4 followers of Yamimama. She brought out a Mazinger Z ripoff to fight, but with repeated healing and attacking it was fine.

Rinrin gets the yellow MegaQ (that talks to her and raises her stats). Now Rinrin is sent out into the world to find the other MegaQs, but she takes off in balloons and gets sunk by a storm.

She washes onto a beach and meets Kurisu (the dude you name at the beginning of the game). In the next town, all the 4 goddesses are there and you can pick 2 of them to join your team. There is also a way to warp back to the school so you can use the sunflowers to get spells for the new members.

 

This is where I stopped. I guess this is an OK RPG for this era; the spell system and outfitting are interesting features, and you can progress in the game fairly quickly. There are a lot of well known VAs (well known for the 90s, at least) and a good amount of cutscenes and voiced dialogue. The silliness and fanservice will probably turn a lot of people off, though.

PCE Game 37 – Xak III

Xak III: The Eternal Recurrence (サークIII ジ・エターナル・リカーレンス)
Released 9/30/1994, developed and published by Micro Cabin 
 

  

This is the final game in the Xak series, which had three main games and two side games. As I said in my previous post on the game, it is clearly modelling itself on Ys: an action RPG with meaningless short name for the series, and a first game split into two parts.

As with the previous games, Xak III began as a computer game and was later ported to PC Engine. From what I could see on Youtube, the port is pretty faithful although the computer version had a stat called EP in addition to HP and MP, I don’t know what that is and don’t think it’s in the PC Engine version.

The first two games had the Ys-style “run into enemies” system, but this game has you press the button to attack. The port is disappointing like the original games’ was — there is hardly any voice or cutscenes throughout the game, not even at the beginning. I actually wondered if there was something wrong with the copy I had but the first cutscene doesn’t happen until a bit through the game and there are only two more (a very brief one near the end, and then the ending scene). However, this might be good because surprisingly this game actually has an English translation patch — they don’t do anything with the voiced cutscenes, but they don’t add much to the story and you can almost guess what’s happening in them just from the pictures.

The game is quite short as is typical for ARPGs of this era (the youtube playthrough is 6h30m). However, it does conclude the story of Xak, as Ratok takes on the third evil general (having beaten the other two, Badu and Gospel, in the previous games). The question of what happened to Ratok’s father is addressed as well, and there’s sort of a conclusion to Pixie and Frey’s stories too. You could definitely play this without playing the first two, though, since anything of importance in those games is repeated here.

The graphics in the dialogue scenes are not bad.

The opening scene is the bloodiest thing I’ve seen yet, where this dude comes into the castle and kills the King, ripping his head off. The princess then says he might as well take her head too, and he rips it off, leaving both heads on the throne. The PC Engine generally allowed more explicit content (in both violence and sex) than the Super Famicom did.

Like the last game, this game has jumping puzzles, but they’re nowhere near as annoying as the previous game — for one thing, you don’t die if you miss the jumps, and the graphics make it much easier to see where the platforms are and where you’re supposed to jump.

There’s also a dragon riding part again, but it’s quite easy.

Unlike the first game, you get companions in this game — most of them are from the other games (Frey and Ryun, for instance). They just run around and fight on their own, and are actually relatively helpful unless they die — you can’t change screens without reviving them.

 

Overall the game is easy. There are some parts (particularly near the end) where the grunt enemies hit hard, but the bosses can almost all be beaten just by mashing the button and taking hits — as with the previous game, it’s easy to level because the amount of XP you get from the enemies never goes down. You can also buy tons of healing potions since there’s nothing else worthwhile to spend money on.

There’s a lot of laziness in the interface and presentation — you can’t see stats of items at all, so you have no idea what to equip (I can’t believe we’re still seeing this at the end of 1994). You can “teleport” back to any place you’ve been with no explanation for why. There’s no real backtracking or exploration, it’s more like a series of stages.

This is not an especially good game, but it’s not terrible either. That being said, the Ys games that were coming out around this time weren’t all that great either (except for Dawn of Ys, I suppose). But somehow Ys was able to continue on to the present, but Xak never produced another game after this. I’m not sure if that had to do with Micro Cabin itself, or the sales of Xak relative to Ys.

SRPG Game 53 – Masou Kishin: Lord of Elementals

Masou Kishin: Lord of Elemental (スーパーロボット大戦外伝 魔装機神 THE LORD OF ELEMENTAL)
Released 3/22/1996, developed by Banpresto
 


When I get to the Super Robot Wars games I usually post old message board posts; in this case I really don’t have much — I was doing a story summary instead, which is obsolete now that there is a full translation patch. I’ll add a bit more to what I wrote. In the main SRW games up to this point, in addition to the licensed franchises like Gundam and Getter Robo, they had original characters who came from another world La Gias. The third game, EX, takes place in La Gias, mixing up the licensed characters and the originals.

This game divides into two parts — one that takes place before SRW 2, showing the origin of Masaki and the other Masou Kishin characters. The second part takes place after SRW 4 and continues the stories begun in EX and the first part of Masou Kishin. The series then lay dormant for a long time, before a sequel finally came out in 2012, followed by two more games to finish the series.

Now on to the old posts.

—–

Despite 4S, the Super Famicom was not yet dead!  Almost two years after the release of 4, SRW Gaiden came out.  This was a huge advance on 4 in many ways — graphically, musically, gameplay, everything.  Although it is labeled Gaiden, it introduced a number of significant improvements that carried over to future SRWs.

Some of the changes that did carry over:
– For the first time, the map has a 3/4 view and full robots instead of just faces.  This would not be introduced into main SRWs until Alpha.
– Units now gain EXP for repairing and refueling.
– The Masou Kishin characters now get their own themes — this is the first appearance of Flapper Girl, Dark Prison, etc.
– Character faces now have multiple versions that show different emotions.
– The character designs for the Masou Kishin characters were all redone into the form that they have had ever since (even down to OGs).  As a comparison, here are Masaki, Shu, and Ryune in their EX and MK incarnations:

System things that did not carry over:
– The robots are full sized instead of SD (this is used in the next game, but then never again)
– Height and facing matters
– There is a “zone of control” system (Banpresto used this later in the Summon Night and Black Matrix series)
– Units have Prana in addition to EN

This is also the first game that Kono Sachiko, the character designer for many of the original characters, worked on.  She still does original character designs now.

My final verdict on SRW:LoE is “so-so”.  In general I don’t like the all-originals games as much as the regular ones.  LoE’s high point is the characterization and the dialogue between them.  The story is kind of weak; like I said, a lot of the plot points are retreads of EX and the plot sort of jerks around from one story to another.  There are a lot of places where the story writers don’t really seem to know what they’re doing (i.e. when Jogg and Rasetsu show up to take the Duraxylls and Tudy just lets them do it).  The battle system is OK.  You get attacked from behind a lot because everyone has such a high move rate and there’s hardly any terrain to block them.  The double-attack ability is the worst ability ever in a SRW game [2020 note: This is a system where people can sometimes get two attacks in a round, and this game still has the double move from the old SRW games. So you get situations where someone can take 4 attacks in a round, which can be an auto kill even for overlevelled units.]

Now that this game has a translation patch it’s easy to play it, so give it a try if you like SRW — although there’s a later DS remake that might be more fun.

SFC Game 60 – Wizap! Ankoku no Ou

Wizap! King of Darkness (ウィザップ!暗黒の王)
Released 9/22/1994, by ASCII 


This is the second in a series of three games by ASCII; they’re not really direct sequels but more spiritual sequels (along the lines of the Soul Blazer “series”). The first one was Dark Lord for the original Famicom, and the third game (Dark Law) will be the second to last game I play for this blog.

My self-imposed rule is that if a game has no translation (not even a patch), I have to finish it. I have considered changing this for crappy games but I haven’t done it yet. I’m going to bend the rules a bit here — technically I “finished” this game, but I got a bad ending. The main problem is that I just can’t really figure out how to play this game. I wasn’t able to get a physical copy due to the covid shipping restrictions, and without an instruction manual there are things about the basic gameplay I can’t figure out. 

 

The idea behind the game is to be a free-form system. You have 20 days; after that, the dark lord descends to the earth and you get a bad ending. In order to see the real ending you have to do a number of specific events on certain days and do the quests. The game is not very long, and I think the intent of the designers is that you would play it through several times before you finally figured everything out.

So let me preface the rest of the post with a warning: This is based on what I could figure out through brute force and a bit of help from some Internet resources (not a full walkthrough). There may be aspects of the game that I’m wrong about and would be clarified by the instruction manual. 

There’s a short opening scene where some kind of dark warrior is going to bring back a being from space to the “paradise” of the world. The game begins by having you put in your name, select a space on a grid to determine your starting stats, and picking a birthday. Then you suddenly start out in a forest with no explanation. Walking north I came to a cliff where I could see a city. It took me a while to figure out just how to get beyond these starting screens; you have to keep walking back and forth on the edge of the cliff until it crumbles and you fall down.

The character wakes up and gets mysteriously healed with no explanation. I then explored this area a bit and came across a town. But I had wanted to see if there was anything else outside….and I realized I couldn’t leave the town. The town becomes the base of the game and you can’t leave unless you get an “episode” started.

I have zero money; there wasn’t anything to do but visit the king, who tells you he’ll raise your level with enough XP, and then take a job. There are a number of different jobs (fisherman, woodcutter, etc.). I then was able to do the job, making time pass and changing my stats, and getting a pittance of gold (not enough to actually buy much).

From a walkthrough I knew that on Day 3 if I talked to the jobs person it would open up the first episode. He sends me to find out what happened to three people who got stuck in a mine nearby. This takes me out of the town, and into an area with the first fight against two wolves.

The battle system is in real time, so you mash the attack button (a white box shows you when you’re in range) and try to dodge out of the way before they attack. I got slaughtered on my first try. If you die, several days pass and then you wake up back in town. I think this means you can get the real ending but I’m not sure about that.

The second try I did a little better but I still was left with 1 HP at the end. Fortunately I started with a healing spell. Making my way to the cave, I fell down a hole into a black area where one of the captured miners was. Looking at the youtube playthrough it seems like you can find other people in the cave and a blue stone to give you light before doing this, but I was in total darkness (actually looking at the screenshot it’s not total darkness; I guess I could have turned off the NTSC filter and brightened it up a bit. Eventually I blundered around and mashed circle enough times that the miner broke his way out and I followed him to the boss fight.

Somehow I was just able to attack the boss from behind and defeated him, but he killed the other miner. From here we returned to town and I got a reward from the jobs person.

I still had no money though, so I couldn’t upgrade my equipment. I did jobs for another day and then got the second scenario, which is talking to a guy and doing his “bug killing” job for him. We go out to the forest and I was faced with several battles that I found very difficult. I could barely do any damage to the bugs whereas they took off a third of my HP. I had to use a bunch of save states and about 5 minutes just to kill 2 bugs, and then more arrived. At this point I lost the fight and the bug man said I wasn’t cut out for the job and we went back to town. The king raised me one level.

This is where I really had the feeling that I didn’t know what I was doing. The youtube video indicates I could have gotten a second party member by examining a rock four times at the very beginning of the game before going to town (I only checked it once). I feel like there has to be some way to get some more money or stats so that I’m not getting obliterated by bugs (the youtube playthrough cuts out all the fights so I don’t know what she did).

So at this point my character decided he wasn’t cut out for the adventuring life and worked as a fisherman for 18 more days until the dark warrior brought back the evil guy into the world and the game was over. Better luck next time.

 

My impression from this playthrough is that this game is garbage. But as I said, I’m not willing to completely write it off without seeing the instruction manual…although for now I’m moving on to the next game. Sometimes people complain that modern games have too many tutorials and hold your hand too much, but this is the polar opposite. They even tease you at the beginning by telling you that holding down L will let you search, but that’s the only hint you get!

Next week will be Xak III, the third game in the Ys ripoff series.

SRPG Game 52 – Bahamut Lagoon (rest of game)

I didn’t say much about the story last time. This game has a much more RPG-like storyline (and overall feel) than some of the other SRPGs that lean more towards the strategy side of things. The basic story is that Emperor Sauther of the Granvelos Empire takes over the Kingdom of Kahna, where Bahamut dwells. Sauther’s goal is to talk to the Divine Dragons in order to open the path to a new world. Princess Yoyo, the daughter of the King of Kahna, can also speak to the Divine Dragons. After being driven out of Kahna, the main character gathers a band of fighters around him to try to defeat Granvelos. 

 There are more twists and turns to the story, but since there’s an excellent translation patch out I won’t give away the whole thing (there are walkthroughs on gamefaqs that have the whole story anyway). Overall I enjoyed the story with two caveats. The first was that I felt too many of the characters were joke characters, even some of the characters that were important to the main storyline (Matelite, for instance). The second is that the conclusion was kind of abrupt and vague, but that’s typical of RPGs.

Between missions you can walk around your ship and talk to people. This game does a better job than most of the other games in giving each of the characters a personality and making them memorable (even though as I said, a lot of them are just played for laughs).

It is annoying that you can only save at the beginning of each chapter. Typically the start of the chapter is a story sequence, then you can explore the ship and talk, buy equipment, feed dragons, and then finally change your formations and assign dragons to each party. This can easily take 15-30 minutes just for the pre-battle stuff, and to not be able to save before the fight actually starts is an odd design decision. Of course on an emulator, save states easily deal with the problem.

 

I don’t have much to say about the stages until Chapter 22 when they begin to get more difficult. By this time I had Salamander in Master Dragon form, which is a bit broken because he can’t take damage from anything. In theory you could win every stage just by ending the turn and letting Salamander do everything, but this would be incredibly tedious and take hours for each fight even with speedup keys. However, my Salamander was also very timid and would often heal instead of fighting — I actually preferred when he ran out of MP because then he had no choice but to fight.

My groups tended to keep similar units together, although I put Light Armors in some squads for greater mobility. By far the most powerful group was the Yoyo-Sendak summoner squad, who could often clean up whole areas of the battlefield just by themselves. I notice the Gamefaqs walkthrough writer is one of those people who overlevels and he claims he hardly used the spellcasters. But he also recommends all Master Dragons by stage 8 or something, which is completely absurd. This is a pet peeve of mine in walkthroughs; it’s annoying to struggle with a boss or stage, look up a walkthrough, and find no real advice because the walkthrough writer has overlevelled to the point where they don’t need any strategy.

Anyway, Chapter 22 is a large chapter that is difficult primarily because of all the cannons. They have high HP and can attack from pretty far away, damaging entire parties. Some of them are on HP regen terrain, and there are also healing units that can support them.

The Siegfried is the chief difficulty among them. What I eventually did was hug the left side of the screen and advance slowly, being careful to watch for the Siegfried’s range. Lightning can destroy both the walls and the regeneration spots, and you can ice freeze the moat to cross on the left. Sending out the dragons to “go” helped soften up the cannons.

For the Siegfried itself, by having the Dragons “go” to it and then moving Yoyo/Sendak up towards the middle, I was able to target Leviathan summon on the spots and take out the healing units, and then the dragons were able to destroy the Siegfried. From there the rest of the mission was not so bad — the remaining units (a dragon and two bosses) aren’t pushovers but they’re nowhere near as hard as the cannons. With Magic Gins to keep up the MP of the Sendak/Yoyo party it wasn’t too bad from there.

Chapter 23 is just finishing off the Granvelos soldiers but since there are no cannons it’s not especially hard.

Now we head into the other world. I actually got a game over on the chapter 24 battle (above) because I got hit with too many area attacks in a row. Advancing slowly from the bottom left was a better strategy and I won the second time. Game overs aren’t that bad since you can keep all your XP, money, and items.

Stage 25 is interesting because there are only a few enemies, and only two boss units you have to beat. But they constantly summon more monsters, who have over 9999 HP each. What I did was just rush the main character’s unit and the summoners up to the boss and use area spells over and over again until they died, and I defended whenever my guys were attacked by the summoned monsters. Not too bad.

Stage 26 has a bunch of enemies but the boss Alexander. Although these bosses look impressive, it’s annoying to keep track of where the single block is that you actually attack. But I did this by basically another rush/defend strategy.

The final boss is Alexander again. He’s huge and has 4 different parts. You have to beat the healing and spellcasting parts to hurt the main head, but you do not have to beat the status effects head. My basic strategy for this was to keep most of my units away from the action so they couldn’t get hit with the devastating area effect spells. I used a lot of summoning with a lot of Magic Gins, and also main character sword techniques when I could. Fortunately the attacks frequently were directed at the dragons, especially Salamander, so there wasn’t too much trouble surviving them.

Once you beat the game, you can start a New Game+ where you keep all your levels and can even summon Alexander:

But I don’t know if there’s much purpose to this mode; there aren’t any alternate paths or endings. I guess there are one or two places in the game where enemies appear but then leave before you can beat them, and you could do it here. Or if you just want to experience the story again.

A good game overall — impressive graphics, nice music, an enjoyable story and characters, and pretty fun gameplay.