Monthly Archives: July 2022

SFC Game 89 – Magic Knight Rayearth

Magic Knight Rayearth (魔法騎士レイアース), released 9/29/1995, developed by Tomy

This is our second consecutive RPG based on a shojo manga. Magic Knight Rayearth was a series by the famous Clamp group that ran from 1993-1996. It had an anime adaptation, and there were a bunch of video games released in 1994 and 1995 for the Game Boy, Game Gear, Saturn, and this one for Super Famicom.

I never saw or read Rayearth so I do not have the nostalgic connection to the series that I do to Sailor Moon. I thought this game was greatly inferior to Sailor Moon, but some of that is probably that I’m not a fan of this series.

The game involves three 8th grade girls who get transported to a fantasy world and have to become the Magic Knights to save Rayearth. The game is an adaptation of the first half of the manga (the first storyline). It ends very abruptly because of this.

The three girls (from left to right above) are Ryuzaki Umi, Shidou Hikaru, and Hououji Fuu.

Because of the nature of the series, there is no equipment. Instead each girl has a weapon and an armor, that change a couple of times during the game and can be levelled up by fighting battles. Each girl will also gain the ability to use magic during the game; new spells can be gained by levelling up, and there are also a few powerful spells that are granted at certain points in the story. The battle system is normal DQ2 style, and there’s really not much to it — levelling is fairly quick and you can buy MP restoring items so the game goes smoothly. It’s also quite short.

When the story begins, Princess Emeraude has used Cephiro’s Pillar to summon the magic knights from the real world to Rayearth to defeat Zagato, a priest who was supposed to be her second in command but has turned against her and wants to reduce the world to nothing. (NOTE: I am not going to look up the official English romanizations for the names)

This magician Clef tells the three girls why they’ve been summoned, and tells them that the only way they’ll be able to get back to Earth is to defeat Zagato and have Emeraude send them back. First, they need to find the smith Presea so they can get their magic weapons.

At Presea’s, a little magic creature called Mocona joins up. Mocona can become a campsite where you can heal and save on the map, and will also perform various other helpful functions as the story progresses.

The girls need to find some Escudo so that Presea can forge their weapons. Meanwhile they meet a knight named Lafarga who was one of the Princess’ guards and wants to defeat Zagato, but he refuses to join the girls. On the way to find the Escudo, Clef reappears and gives Umi her water magic — unfortunately he doesn’t have time to give the rest of the girls theirs, because Alcione, one of Zagato’s servants, attacks.

Now you do a scenario with each of the three girls where they confront their weaknesses, and after that they gain the Escudo and their new weapons. I’m not entirely sure what the effect of getting these new weapons and levelling them up is, but I assume the attack increases.

The next goal is to revive the three legendary Mashins, which will give them power to defeat Zagato.

You have to go to three areas that represent one of the three Mashins associated with each girl (water, fire, wind). In each one you have to demonstrate your strength to the Mashin; it’s always by dealing with one of Zagato’s underlings and converting them to good by some method. Once all three Mashins give you their power, the girls reach their final upgrade.

Finally, we head to Zagato’s castle. First we have to make it through a mirror maze cave.

We then reach Zagato’s castle. It turns out that Zagato really just wants to break down the world so he can create a new one where Princess Emeraude doesn’t have to be bound to the Cephiro pillar. Once we beat him (and his Mashin form), there’s a final twist — Emeraude is in love with Zagato, and can’t deal with her anger that Zagato has been killed. She actually summoned the Magic Knights to kill her. This is the danger of the Pillar; the person who is chosen to pray for the world may have their thoughts distracted by things like love, causing problems.

Emeraude attacks you with her own Mashin form. Once killed, the girls get transported back to Tokyo Tower. Hikaru says “We have to get back!” and the game ends abruptly.

All in all this game was rather disappointing; it’s very short, with a high random encounter rate, and almost nothing to do other than just go straight through the story. Since it’s only the first part of the story, it has the most abrupt ending I’ve ever seen in an RPG. I suppose at least it plays smoothly (if you have a speedup key for the battles), and if you are a fan of Rayearth it should be worth a play. But it pales in comparison to the care with which Sailor Moon: Another Story was made. If any of the commenters were fans of this series, maybe you can tell me if that makes the game any better.

SRPG Game 74 – Sparkling Feather (PC-FX)

Sparkling Feather (スパークリングフェザー), released 4/25/1997, developed and published by NEC

This is the second game on this blog for the ill-fated PC-FX. I have four games total for the system on my list but three of them are remakes; this is the only original SRPG for the system. Given how poorly the system was received it’s not a surprise that this game was handled by NEC themselves. On the whole it’s similar to the other games in that it plays to the strengths of the system by having a lot of anime sequences and fully voiced story dialogue, but the rest of the graphics are Super Famicom level or below.

As with the other PC-FX games, this one was too expensive for me to buy, and it’s so obscure there’s little information about it beyond a few short reviews and a full playthrough on Nicovideo. There are aspects of the system I don’t fully understand, and so it’s possible that my views towards the game are unfair in that respect. But, with that in mind this is the second SRPG in a row I’m stopping after a few stages.

The basic setting is that the world is being attacked by Steen, some sort of monster. It was hard for me to tell whether this was supposed to be taking place in the real world or not; if it’s not Earth it’s a modern-day setting on an Earth-like place. The main character is Shinguji Aoi, a high school student.

Aoi is visited in a dream by someone calling themselves Diamond Feather, telling Aoi he is one of the Feathers who transform to fight the Steen. Aoi refuses to listen but then is visited by Coral Feather.

Coral Feather is part of a rival group that is using their Feather power for their own greed and ambition rather than to fight the Steen. Eventually Aoi powers up into Ruby Feather and we have the first fight.

You begin with a team of 7 characters (all different Feathers). All combat in this game is done via AI instructions — including even your main character.

Part of my issue with this game is that the meaning of the AI commands was not clear without the instruction manual. The last three options in the menu above are Attack Move, Follow-up Attack, and Ambush. The meaning of the terms is clear enough (I guess) but what they actually do differently was hard to interpret.

More problematic is the “trust” system. Each character has a trust value from 1 to 5 stars. The lower the trust is, the less likely they are to follow your orders. This makes no sense from a story perspective because Ruby Feather isn’t the leader of the group; he just joined. But more than that, it’s annoying to try to be issuing orders and half the characters refuse — sometimes they will just sit there and do nothing for the whole battle while you repeatedly try to get them to do something.

When they do attack, there seems to be no way to control whether they will use a normal attack or a special move (maybe this has to do with the AI command). Even Ruby, who has a 5 star trust and never refuses, can’t be directly controlled like this.

So basically this is a lot like Seikon no Joka in that most of the game is just spent watching the characters fight. I learned from a review that if you leave the game long enough the orders phase will end by itself, so you can literally do the battle part just by setting down the controller and leaving (since characters will act without orders). The only thing you need to press a button for is to clear the message if someone levels up.

The one thing you can control is making the characters use area-effect magic like buffs and heals.

Even when they ostensibly follow your orders they often get stuck behind other characters or buildings, or try to find another way to reach the destination that doesn’t exist. Also if the characters die in battle they lose a trust star, which also doesn’t make sense — if a character refuses your orders, goes off by themselves and dies, why should they be less likely to follow your orders later?

Between stages there is a dating system that lets you increase the trust, but it’s as opaque as the rest of the game. Who you spend time with is determined by a roulette wheel and a strange sliding puzzle system. Then you get 3 choices — in this case “What do you think of me?” “What have you been doing up to now?” “Teach me some sword techniques.” Some of these will raise trust, others lower, but it’s hard to tell which one is going to do which.

After the first stage Ruby joins the team and sees the flying ship the Feathers have.

In the second stage we try to go to a concert but Tourmaline Feather attacks; it turns out the singer for the concert is actually a feather as well (Sapphire Feather).

The third stage is a four-way fight between us, the Coral Feather faction, Steen, and the SCAT Earth defense force tanks. Coral Feather decides to team up at least for now to fight the Steen. Afterwards, the head of the SCAT forces tries to arrest us but Ruby uses his power to bend her gun and we escape.

At this point I was rather annoyed by not really being able to do anything in the stages, so I looked for Japanese reviews. It didn’t look like there was anything major I was missing; the reviews I saw were largely negative. The story was also criticized as not really going anywhere, having a bad ending, and not developing any of the characters.

So this is where I stopped. As I said, this is another game where it is possible that my opinion is lower than it would be if I had the instruction manual. It may be that certain characters are more likely to follow certain orders, or that if I had a better understanding of what each order did I would have more control. However, based on what I have seen from the Japanese sites, it’s unlikely that even with this information this would become a really good game. I did find one short review from someone who liked it a lot, but it wasn’t specific enough to tell why; it seemed like it was more from the cute girls than from the game itself.

So that’s it for the PC-FX — this is the fourth system I’ve “completed” after PC Engine, Game Gear, and Famicom (I have one more Mega Drive game that I missed on the initial list and need to get to at some point, and of course one more Super Famicom game which is still on the far horizon).

SRPG Game 73 – Seikon no Joka (PSX)

Seikon no Joka (聖痕のジョカ), released 4/25/1997, developed by Takara

The next two SRPGs I only played the first few stages of, so there will be another post on Wednesday this week with Sparkling Feather.

This game’s title means “Joka of the Sacred Scar”, although elsewhere in the game and instructions, 聖痕 is read as “rune” instead. The game is based off a light novel series, although one site I saw said it takes place 100 years after the novels, although that’s not clear from the backstory in the instructions.

The background story is that thousands of years before, the 24 Runes were sealed away in the Earth’s Navel by a girl named Joka, thus removing them from influencing the world. But now, an unknown person has unsealed the runes from the Navel. In an effort to stop this, the Angel Topuka tried to reincarnate Joka, who had the Blank Rune that could unify all the runes. But Topuka messed up and split Joka into two parts, one of whom is born as a princess, the other as an orphan in the wilds.

One immediate issue with this game is the offputting character designs.

Now you name the main character, including his title (I used Scarlet Lightning Kurisu). He’s trying to get a treasure from ruins, but thieves attack on his way out.

The system is pretty typical although rather than a grid, it’s a sphere of movement. You can move, and then attack or use a special attack. Some of the attacks have “reverse” versions that apparently can be used once you get to the point in the game where your characters get the Runes.

However, I encountered the first huge problem with the game during and after this stage. Whenever you are in any kind of status menu or shop menu, the background spins around quickly behind the windows (which are semi-transparent). I get motion sick pretty easily and while I can’t recall ever getting it from a video game, the spinning background made me queasy — even if it didn’t it’s really distracting to try to be reading text in the foreground while the background is spinning around at a pretty high speed. This is the primary reason I gave up on the game after a few missions.

There’s not much about this game on the Internet, but I did find a few criticisms of the camera spinning including one Japanese player who also got sick from it.

Kurisu reaches town to try to sell what he got, but it turns out that “cute Topuka” (the angel from the opening) is in it, although with no memory. All he knows is that he needs to get to the town of Silver. Kurisu and he join up with a merchant who wants some bodyguards to help them go through a forest.

In the second stage ghosts attack in the forest, and here we find the second big problem with this game — you can only control Kurisu. Everyone else moves on AI. This is an odd decision for an SRPG; it’s true that there are games like Ogre Battle that don’t allow direct control of the characters but the system is set up for that. Here it’s basically a normal SRPG but you can only control one character. Also while the other characters (and enemies) are moving, the camera is spinning around 360 degrees just like it does when you have the menu open.

After the fight we meet up with the wild orphan Joka.

In the next town we meet the princess Joka who is supposed to marry a prince from another land to unify the alliance between their countries, but she has no desire to do that. She feels a connection with the wild Joka and with Kurisu’s help they escape the palace.

This is where I stopped; I just couldn’t play any more with the spinning camera, and even without that why play an SRPG where you can’t control most of your party? There are apparently two endings based on various choices you make throughout the game; it seems to have to do with which Joka the main character gets closer to. But I won’t be seeing either of them.

SFC Game 88 – Sailor Moon Another Story

Sailor Moon Another Story (美少女戦士セーラームーン ANOTHER STORY), released 9/22/1995, developed and published by Angel

I was (am?) a big fan of Sailor Moon. It was the first anime I really got into, back in the mid-90s when the dub was airing on American TV. I’m not sure why I liked it so much; part of it was the online community (in newsgroups and mailing lists) and part of it me wanting to see a cartoon with a developing storyline. I eventually acquired the whole series on VHS tapes (fansubs) and have watched all 200 episodes several times. I no longer own the VHS tapes though.

This means that while I’ve played many games so far based on existing anime, manga, etc, this is the first one that is based on a show I was really into. Probably the one before this that I knew the most about was Ranma 1/2, and that was a pretty crappy game overall. This game, on the other hand, is pretty well done in terms of adapting the original property and making something that will interest fans of the game. It would have been easy to just cram a retelling of the show or lazy product, but the story goes above and beyond that. It involves entirely new villains that do not seem out of place, and examines areas of the original story that were hardly touched on (particularly the future Silver Millennium and the past Moon Kingdom).

The game was developed while the manga was still running. When the development started, the third storyline (S) hadn’t started; when the game was released, the fourth storyline (SuperS) was currently running in both anime and manga form. Because of this, the developers were working off information from Naoko Takeuchi about how the story would develop. The story takes place after the third storyline (S), and mostly seems to follow the manga, although some anime-only things are included (most of the random encounter monsters are from the anime), and there are even references to the R and S movies. I think if you are a fan of Sailor Moon there is a lot to like about the story. If you are not, I think the story may be less interesting/effective.

There is a translation patch which was released a long time ago, but someone updated it with some various fixes and a “no-grind” patch that reduces the random encounter rate and doubles the xp/gold from each encounter.

All ten of the Sailor Senshi introduced so far are in the game, along with all the powers from both the anime and manga. They also have voice clips for all the attacks as well as their transformation lines.

The graphics on the whole are pretty good. I appreciate the face images in the dialogue (why don’t more games do this!) Since they had a large collection of enemies to draw on from the anime, there aren’t a bunch of palette swap monsters and the in-battle graphics are decent as well.

One of the challenges often faced by developers of games like this is being faithful to the original ideas while still creating RPG-like gameplay. In the manga and anime, they typically only fight one monster at a time, and a single attack by Sailor Moon is the only thing that can kill it (usually one other senshi will use an attack to weaken or stun it). This is a similar problem that was faced by the Fist of the North Star RPG creators — in that anime, the whole point is that people like Kenshiro can only be fairly matched against a small number of others who are trained like them. Kenshiro can take out a normal thug without even breaking a sweat.

So you basically have three choices, I think, in adapting something like this:

  • Try to create a completely new battle system that allows for more faithfulness to the source. I think Dragon Ball is the main example I can think of of a game that did this; it’s not a common technique probably because it’s not easy to do and takes more time.
  • Put some explanation in the story for why the characters cannot fight as well as they can in the original source. Slayers did this by having the “memory loss Lina” that couldn’t use most of her spells. This is not an attractive option because it may annoy players who want to play the original characters as they were in the source.
  • Just use a normal RPG system, and hope that the players will be happy enough to play their favorite characters that they’ll overlook how nonsensical it is (or they will understand that there was no way to adapt the original ideas into a satisfying RPG).

The third option is what most of the series take, and it’s what Sailor Moon Another Story does as well. Here, any move can beat the enemies, and Sailor Moon’s own moves are just damage-dealing moves like any other that she might have to use 2 or 3 times and not even kill the enemy. I think it works, though. An interesting choice they made was to completely restore EP after every battle so that you can make heavy use of the special moves rather than just basic attacks.

The other aspects to the battle system are Link Techs, where two (or three) senshi combine their powers, and Formation Techs (which I never used). There are four formations that increase or decrease the attack/defense of senshi in particular spots — for instance, the “Cluster” formation quadruples the attack of the center senshi but lowers the defense/attack quite a bit of everyone else.

Because of the setting, there are no weapons and armor to equip, just accessories (which are mostly rings, earrings, bracelets, etc).

The game is divided into four chapters. The story beings in the Silver Millennium in the future, where a comet is coming and there is a strange epidemic. Back in the present, old enemies are appearing again in Tokyo.

Fan favorite Hotaru changes from a baby back into Sailor Saturn again. She really shouldn’t have a move that just damages random enemies since she’s supposed to destroy planets, but we’ll allow it.

The first chapter just hints at what’s going on, with a new enemy revealing herself as “Sin”, and various dreams and prophecies. The inner senshi are all captured by Sin, and during the rescue you get various glimpses of their dream “perfect lives” that they’ve abandoned to be warriors (this was in the R Movie also I think). Sin also has 5 underlings headed by Apsu. Their goal is to get the Ginzuishou (silver crystal) from Sailor Moon. The senshi succeed in fighting them off but Mamoru (Tuxedo Kamen) is injured, a common situation for him.

In Chapter 2, the Inner senshi have to go around to different places by themselves to recover four gems based on the four generals of the first series. The game draws from the manga in making the four generals servants of Endymion (Mamoru’s past life); this was never stated in the anime. Each of the four stories involves one of the enemy underlings, and develops their backstories and why they joined Sin. They were all dissatisfied with life in the Silver Millennium in some way.

One big complaint about the game that I think is accurate is that there’s too much grinding; whenever you reach a new area the enemies outclass you by quite a bit and you have to do some levelling. It doesn’t take that long but it’s a bit annoying. The boss of Mercury’s segment here is particularly difficult (the no-grind patch hacked something here to make it a bit easier).

Now that we have the four gems, we still need the Rose Crystal, which is chapter 3 — the Outer senshi and Moon are going after the Rose Crystal while the Inners are gone. Saturn’s Death Reborn Revolution is really good so I usually put her in the middle of the Cluster formation.

This chapter also starts the relationship between Chibi-Usa and an enemy Anshar, a kid with a pet. This seems at least a bit similar to the Chibi-Usa/Helios story from the 4th season, making me wonder if they based this on future ideas for the story.

This chapter has you fighting all the Death Busters, Mistress 9, and Professor Tomoe again from S, followed by Queen Beryl from the original season. I have mixed feelings about the reappearance of all the old enemies from the previous seasons — I feel like they did it just to appeal to fans rather than because it fit organically into the story. They never really fully explain why some of the people came back. I suppose it’s a small complaint but it may lessen the appeal of the game to people who are not fans of Sailor Moon. In any case we fail to gain the Rose Crystal from Anshar, ending chapter 3.

In chapter 4 we find out the enemies are messing around in the past, threatening to change the timeline. So we use the Time Corridor (getting Sailor Pluto on the team) to go back. This is a nice chance to see Beryl and the Generals before they turned to the evil side, and also see original Queen Serenity. We also have to fight the villains from the second season (R) again.

We finally see here more motivation of the enemies — Sin, the leader, is going to die soon. Apsu, the sister of Anshar, was pissed off when the Dark Moon killed her parents, and wondered why the sailor senshi were just protecting Neo Queen Serenity rather than helping her parents.

However, we do manage to recover the Rose Crystal and heal Mamoru. Now it’s time for the final chapter.

At this point you have enough money to have 99 colognes (full MP restore for everyone). With this, you can have Pluto use Time Stop every round, which even freezes bosses (including the final boss). So all you have to do is have three characters use strong attacks (I did a triple tech with Mars-Jupiter-Uranus), then a 4th character use a cologne, and Pluto Time stop every round. If you do this, as long as you are at a high enough level to do reasonable damage and you can make it through the first round of combat without anyone getting confused/entranced/etc, you win every boss fight.

Here we do the final battles against the various underlings who then see the error of their ways. But Sin and Apsu still remain — first we have to defeat Apsu, and then a combination of Apsu and Sin. I thought the final section was a bit less satisfying than the others in terms of the motivation and background of the enemies, but it’s still a decent conclusion to the storyline.

Overall I did enjoy this game quite a bit despite the flaws in the system. Certainly a good part of this was my like for Sailor Moon in general, but I think it shows that this was a good adaptation of the source material, and it gives you a nice chance to see things that were never really touched on much in the original series. It also creates some interesting villains that would fit in the source manga/anime as well as fleshing out the main characters a bit.

I do wonder how people unfamiliar with Sailor Moon would like this game — I have a feeling not all that much since the game system is not necessarily the best in the world, and there is quite a bit of grinding involved. It does make me wonder if I would have had a better opinion of some of the other IP-based games I’ve played in the past if I had played those series.

Actually the next game is also a shojo manga (Magic Knight Rayearth). But first there will be two posts about SRPGs I only played the first few stages of.

SFC Game 87 – Super Magic Continent WOZZ (Part 2)

I left off last time with three more continents to explore. A few things happen at this point:

  • Money becomes nearly a non-issue, especially when it comes to items. You can easily have 300-500 (or even 999) of healing and MP restoring items. Leona will also learn how to make good MP/HP restoring items as well. This doesn’t make the game a complete cakewalk but it certainly lowers the difficulty.
  • You can start making vehicles to drive on the overworld. These have their own HP and attacks. They can only be made at factories in towns (which is also where you can repair them; you can also buy repairing items).
  • Leona can also make robots for Chun to summon in battle; I basically didn’t use these at all. Apparently there is one good robot near the end of the game but you can permanently miss it by not talking to someone in a town so I did not have it.

The next continent is Undetta, which has zombie, ghost, and skeleton villages.

The basic idea here is that each of the three villages has one guardian that the enemies are trying to destroy; if they succeed it will ruin the continent. A new party member ghost joins here, and we manage to save all three spirits. Next up is Anthill Tower where the boss of this region (Queen Artemis) is found.

After this Madisto leaves the party; too bad because his healing spells are very good. He does teach Chun some of the healing spells but they’re not powerful enough at the moment to be as good. I think this is one of the more difficult parts of the game because you have to work to make the healing sufficient to deal with the damage done by the bosses.

Now we have only the left continent left. The bottom desert part is Illuse, but to get there we need a ship. Leona creates one but first we have to deal with pirates — once the pirates are taken care of, the leader joins and we make it to Illuse. We can also travel around to the smaller islands here and there but there’s nothing game-breaking in any of them.

The goal in this section is to reach the temple at the top. Unfortunately villagers here have been tricked by Balam and we get shut in a prison where we fight all the previous bosses again.

There are also oases. At one of them Leona learns to make a 999 MP restore item which is quite useful. Unfortunately when we reach the temple, Balam’s shadow sends us down into the Dark World.

In the Dark World we get another companion — Ramune, the daughter of the ruler of the world of the dead “Pades” (later we get the lord of heaven “seus”). There’s some optional tournament and cave but I just went for the escape.

The boss here is somewhat challenging because of the 8-hit attack and the still somewhat ineffective healing.

Now it’s on to the last continent, the Demon area. Leona learns to build an airplane here so now we can fly anywhere.

The Demons are actually pretty friendly and don’t seem to like Balam very much. After some adventuring, we eventually reach the Pureland in the sky, where Balam is attacking Seus the king of heaven.

Balam decides to send us back to Earth in an attempt to get us out of his way, but Leona just grabs some inventing stuff and then heads back to Wozz through a portal (before it closes). Now for the final dungeon. I used Vargas (the pirate) as my 4th character since you can get his strongest sword for doing a sidequest of returning kittens to the wind fairy.

Balam has two forms. The first is pretty easy, the second is not.

The main problem is his “arm attack” which does 8 attacks at once and can easily wipe your party or put you in a position where you can’t keep up with the healing. However, his HP are relatively low and by just trying a few times I was able to get lucky enough with the Arm Attack that I won.

However, we don’t get back to Earth as promised. Well, that’s OK, maybe Madisto can help us. At this point the world is empty of monsters. Madisto beckons us to his basement, where there are monsters!

This is the big twist of the game. Madisto had very little magic power, which is bad when you are in the Magic Land of Wozz. He was tired of being looked down on, so he made a portal to Earth. He was the one who sent Balam to Earth to test it out, and now he’s ready to take over the world.

He has one devastating attack that hits everyone. After several losses I did a bit of grinding to move from 57 to 60 (with the help of a code); if you do that you can make the strongest weapons for Leona and Shott. More helpfully, Chun was then faster than Madisto and could always start the round with a full heal. Madisto’s HP are fairly low so it’s not very hard to win from here.

At this point we’re able to use some of Madisto’s remaining stuff to get back to Earth, where Leona is on her way to an invention conference.

I looked at English reviews of this game, and they were quite harsh. People fault the poor graphics (for late 1995), the lack of story development, the lack of character development, and the repetitive battles and dungeons. While I can’t disagree with these criticisms, I invite these people to play the previous 86 games I played and then see how good this is compared to those games!

SFC Game 87 – Super Magic Continent WOZZ (Part 1)

Chou Mahou Tairiku WOZZ (超魔法大陸WOZZ), released 8/4/1995 by Bulletproof Software

(First off, I want to thank commenter Endy who has been commenting on a lot of older posts, linking to archived images of Famitsu previews of the games — the screenshots often show interesting pre-development images.)

BPS, the developer, was the Japanese arm of Blue Planet Software, the company responsible for releasing most of the early console versions of Tetris, and developing Bombliss. This seems to be their first console JRPG; they’ll be on here one more time with “Beast and Blade”. They closed shop in 2001.

The basic premise is that the land of Wozz is being afflicted by the evil king Baram, who has been using technology from the human world to take over Wozz. He also has made the rain turn people into monsters. So the great magician Sullivan decides to bring over a hero from the human world to deal with the problem. He ends up transporting over three “heroes”.

From left to right on the platform (opposite from the title screen), there is Leona, a Japanese inventor girl. Shot, a brash American (who shoots a bow). Chun, a Chinese telepath. You can choose which one of these you want to be your main character. All three accompany you no matter what so the choice of main character only makes a slight difference here and there. I chose Leona. Her special power is that she can invent things.

She can learn new inventions by levelling up, getting recipes from chests/bookcases/etc, or having people teach her. From the menu you can make the weapons, armor, or items as long as you have the resources necessary. She can also make vehicles and robots, but this can only be done at invention stations in towns.

Shot is just an attacker; he gets special moves but for some reason only two of them during the game. Chun begins with Telepathy that can do a bunch of random effects, but will learn magic later. The magic system upgrades his magic after a certain number of battles. However, the number of battles is pretty high (I’m in the last fifth of the game as I type this and most of my spells are only at level 3-4 out of 7). Other companions will join as a 4th member throughout the game. Sometimes you can freely choose, other times a member will be forced for some part of the game.

Finally we have a relatively clean interface and no annoying inventory limits (you can even hold 999 of each item!) It’s not perfect; I would have liked a “best equip” choice, but given the crappy interfaces that most of these games seem to have I can’t complain much. The walking speed is also too slow and there’s no dash button, which is unusual at this stage. Two steps forward, one step back, I guess.

Our first mission is to stop the FearRain that is causing the people to turn to monsters. The battle system is basic RPG style. Leona can scan enemies for weakness, and the other two have their powers. One nice thing about the game is that money is plentiful (after the first couple of dungeons) and MP restoring items cheap, so you don’t really have to worry about using too much MP. The only time it does become an issue is in some boss fights, where the MP restoring items you have access to don’t heal as much MP as you would like. But this game doesn’t have much challenge so I suppose that’s a good thing.

We go to a nearby cave where Balam supposedly is, but it turns out to just be Balamo, one of his underlings. The early boss fights are a little bit challenging; what you have to do is just have Chun use Telekenesis and hope you get a lot of “rock drop” which does a ton of damage.

The great wizard Sullivan taught Chun how to use magic, so we can collect the various types of magic from fairies throughout the world. The first comes soon in the “fire forest”, although you have to walk behind a mountain to get there which is kind of cheap since it’s not clear you can do that.

Heading north, we come across a native inventor Madisto, who agrees to join our party if we can bring him some dinosaur DNA from a nearby lab (is he planning a park?) Once we do he joins. He’s quite helpful because he has powerful healing magics right from the start; I used him as often as I could until later in the game when he leaves the party.

Eventually we do come across the source of the FearRain, which is a whale that has been corrupted to shoot out the rain from its blowhole. So Leona has to invent a cleaner to attach to its hole, after we deal with a rather challenging boss. The Zanzori boss here was the only time I had to do any grinding in the game.

Now that we’ve stopped the FearRain, it’s time to head to the next continent. The game basically plays out over several continents, which have their own features:

  • Magic Land (where you start, with wizards/alchemists)
  • Elemen (spirits)
  • Undeata (skeletons, zombies, ghosts)
  • Iryuzu (witches)
  • Delmon (demons)

There are other areas than this, but this is the main flow of the game. As far as the story goes, there aren’t a lot of developments or twists; there’s a lot of comical dialogue but not a whole lot of character development either. It’s mostly just going through these continents solving the problems and driving away Balam’s underlings.

Elemen is a cold area, where you have to drive off an underling named Maif and her two servants.

Two new companions come on board here — Eliza and Ceramic. Ceramic has all status heal moves, which makes her rather useless, but Eliza is a decent fighter.

Maif is tough, mostly because you can’t use Madisto so you don’t have a good healer. She uses some nasty all-effect magic, and I think some of this battle is based on luck — if she decides to use her all attack too many times in a row it’s tough to deal with. But my basic strategy was just to have Shott doing most of the damage with Power Shot. Kurisu heals and the rest of the team either does minor damage or heals if they have a chance.

That’s where I will end this post; I’m on the last area of the game as I type this but I’m going to be away this weekend for the 4th of July so I won’t be able to finish the game in time. Overall this is a decent game; it’s not a masterpiece but it’s playable and relatively fun.