Out of these, the bolded ones are SRPGs I already played. I do not intend to play the Ocean Fishing game, and a few of these I’m not sure if they are RPGs or not. Especially Mahoujin Gururu 2, since the 1st one didn’t quite measure up.
Sorry for the short post but I needed some padding in July thanks to illness and vacation — but I am fully recovered from Covid and back from my vacation so I am playing Rudra no Hihou (alongside some Another Eden) and we should be able to move forward at a steady clip now.
Ys V: Kefin, the Lost City of Sand (イースV 失われた砂の都ケフィン), released 12/29/1995, Expert version 3/22/1996, developed and published by Nihon Falcom
This is the 5th game in the long running Ys series. The first three games were originally developed for computers and then ported to a bunch of different consoles (usually not by Falcom). Ys IV had that unusual circumstance of having two completely separate games called “Ys IV”, by two separate developers. I believe that Ys V is the first time that Falcom themselves handled the original console release of the game. As of now the game has been released only twice — the original Super Famicom release, and a PS2 remake (or reimagining) in 2006. Since they went back to computers for Ys 6, I would be interested to know why Falcom broke their pattern for 4 and 5. My knowledge of Japanese computers is pretty slight but I wonder whether the Japanese-produced computers, by 1995 or so, had not kept up technologically with the consoles as well as they had before. It took 8 years for Ys VI to come out after this, and by then, the Japanese-specific computers had been supplanted by Windows machines.
Back to Ys V, this actually has two releases. The original, and then an “Expert” version 3 months later. Who knows why they came out with this second version so soon. I chose to play it because it (reportedly) is not that much harder, and fixes some bugs, adds a bonus dungeon, and has a bit of additional content.
For the first time in a top-down Ys game, Adol can swing his sword and block with the shield, and jump, rather than simply running into the enemies to attack. But it maintains the idea of having to approach from the proper angle, and you get bonus damage for attacking from the back or sides. Different swords also have different attack styles (piercing or swinging, etc.)
There’s also a magic system but I found it rather cumbersome to use. You can combine elements you find around into jewels that you then equip to Adol to give him different spells. To use them you have to hold down R until a gauge fills up, then you can use the magic (dependent on your MP). You have a separate magic level that gains XP when you use magic. Honestly I used this a bit when the system was first introduced but I found it so tedious that I just ignored it for the rest of the game.
The story as usual involves the silent protagonist Adol arriving in a new land seeking adventure. This time he has not even brought a sword or armor, just a map of the area. The big discussion in this new area is about Kefin, a lost city that supposedly has a lot of treasure. Also recently monsters have appeared and the desert is encroaching on the rest of the land. Adol agrees to help a rich man in town find Kefin, and the adventure begins, although first our goal is to find the daughter of the item shop owner. The original owner left to try to find Kefin many years ago but he never came back.
I had to level up a bit before I could survive the initial enemies, but once you can buy the basic equipment and maybe are at level 3 or so, it’s not too bad.
Another thing that makes this game much easier than previous entries is that you can carry up to 9 healing herbs and use them in boss battles, so often even if you’re not doing very well avoiding or dealing with the boss’ attacks you can just use a bunch of heals until you win.
The first goal of the game is to find a set of crystals that will supposedly open the way to Kefin. At the same time, there is some ghostly presence named “Stalker” that is following you around, and flashbacks show that he has some wife or girlfriend trapped in ice. Eventually we recover the crystals (and also discover that our original employer is a bad dude) and gain access to Kefin.
Kefin is a huge place. Here Adol finds Stan (the adventurer who disappeared long ago) and also joins a resistance movement against the powers running Kefin. But as I said before, the bosses are all really easy.
In the end this game is quite short, probably 5-8 hours depending on how much you grind. The story is OK but not fleshed out very well, and the gameplay has a lot of useless elements in it. I feel like Falcom was uncertain where to go with the series at this point — the old “run into enemies” thing they did for 1, 2, and 4 was clearly outdated. Perhaps the Super Famicom was not powerful enough, or they just didn’t know how to use it well enough, to do the kind of game they wanted to do.
It’s not a big surprise given this game that it took so long for Ys 6 to come out, and I wonder if fans at the time thought the series was dead. That would have been a fair assumption, but it roared back into action with Ys VI which was a huge hit — but that is a story for a different blog.
If you want to give the game a try go ahead — it won’t take you very long and there is a translation patch.
As a final note, the music is pretty disappointing as well. Falcom games are known for their great Falcom Sound JDK-composed music, but somehow it falls flat here.
1997 was not a good year for SRPGs overall, at least for ones I like. I only gave A ratings to four games: Final Fantasy Tactics, Atelier Marie, TILK, and Shining Force III-1. Atelier Marie isn’t an SRPG and TILK got an A- because of how much I loved the story and atmosphere even though the gameplay was a total disaster. So that basically just leaves two games for the GotY choice.
And it has to be Final Fantasy Tactics. Not just because of the general importance and popularity of the game, but it remains one of my favorite SRPGs and was my introduction to the genre. Despite its flaws, I still think it’s great.
1990: Fire Emblem
1992: Just Breed
1993: Super Robot Taisen 3
1994: Langrisser II
1995: Riglord Saga
1996: Energy Breaker
1997: Final Fantasy Tactics
Still by coincidence (or is it?) all eight of the GotY are available in English.
1998 preview/list of games
As with 1997, this list is all Playstation and Saturn games. It’s interesting that the Game Boy is completely silent; the last game was March 1995 and it won’t be back until Puyo Puyo Gaiden in August 1999. The list includes some games that I suspect may not turn out to qualify under my rules.
Back Gainer Awakening (PS1) — this is another anime movie game made by the same people as Harukaze Sentai V-Force. I didn’t realize they had tried again.
Farland Saga (SAT) — Hopefully this is better than the previous Farland games.
REBUS (i.e. Kartia: World of Fate) (PS1)
Brigandine (PS1) — I think this is going to be disqualified like Dragon Force but I will try it (in the Grand Edition) and see if I like it.
Sakura Taisen 2 (SAT)
Shining Force III Scenario 2 (SAT)
Tokyo Majin Gakuen: Kenpucho (PS1)
Langrisser 5 — not sure if I will play the Saturn or PS version.
Back Gainer Flight (PS1) — The second of the Back Gainer games; there were supposed to be three but the third one never came out so the story is incomplete.
Masumon KIDS (PS1)
Seirei Shokan: Princess of Darkness (PS1)
Bounty Sword Double Edge (PS1) — Sequel to the SFC original.
Epica Stella (i.e. Vanguard Bandits) (PS1)
Gojin Senki (PS1)
Black Matrix (SAT) – Flight Plan’s first SRPG; I love Summon Night but have never tried this. There are several ports; the Dreamcast version seems to be the one that has the best reputation so I may play that.
Houshin Engi (PS1)
Oda Nobunaga-Den (PS1) — The fourth of the Eiketsuden games and the last one to be released on consoles.
Shining Force III Scenario 3 (SAT) – This is the final Saturn game I will be playing.
Guardian Recall (PS1)
Farland Saga 2 (PS1)
Atelier Elie (PS1)
Robot Senki Brave Saga (PS1)
The Doll Princess of Marl Kingdom (i.e. Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure) (PS1) – This does not qualify as an SRPG under my rules but I may play it anyway because it looks interesting.
Monster Seed – I’m having a hard time understanding what kind of game this is; it doesn’t look like it qualifies for me despite being listed as a TRPG on Wikipedia. Let me know what you think.
SRPG Tskuuru – Just a construction kit.
Hyper Fishing – This has grid-based battles but it’s not an SRPG.
SD Gundam G Generation – I think I said this in an earlier preview but I am only going to play the SDGGG games that are SRW-style “mix the series together in one plot”.
Dragon Force 2 – I stopped Dragon Force for not qualifying as an SRPG so I’ll skip the second entry as well.
As I said in an earlier post, progress will be slow for a while. I’m going to focus on Super Famicom games to finally finish up that project, although I do intend to play an occasional SRPG.
After avoiding it for 3 years I finally got covid, but I suppose that’s no excuse not to do my weekend update.
As I said at the end of the previous post, I feel like the designers ran out of time or money to properly do the second half; it seems a lot more rushed than the first one. We ended with Sedy being found on the beach by Maria. Then 3 years pass when Sedy lives with Maria.
He’s apparently lost his memory, but one day he sees attack planes flying by and recovers his memory and realizes he needs to go find Myuu — this whole sequence takes about 3 minutes.
Sedy comes across Silva and Bublet in a nearby town, helping the residents against bandits. A recurrent theme is that nobody recognizes Sedy because he’s grown up.
After Sedy helps them deal with the bandits for good, soldiers come to impress the villagers into being soldiers (it seems that Lafall has been taken over by Galbard). We decide to go to the castle instead and pretend to be soldiers. We immediately get sent to the front line and meet Deen and a woman who are there as part of the “Soul Force”, a resistance group.
The woman turns out to be Milly (Sedy’s sister). Sedy of course is happy to join the Soul Force resistance. They’re readying for the final attack against Galbard, and the head is actually Arcland (who screwed us over 3 years ago). Lilith and Rain also rejoin, and you can get everyone else in the party by going to some optional towns.
Our first task is to go to Galbard Castle, which is now mostly an empty husk, to try to shut down their air force program. It turns out there really is no program there any more, but Sedy does meet Marsh and a woman called Alpha.
Alpha is obviously Myuu but nobody on the heroes’ side recognizes that. In any case, Marsh has been here having Alpha grow her power so that she can destroy the world. But we easily defeat her (all the battles in this part are easy, including the final battle, with one exception). She hasn’t fully recovered her power yet.
Back at the resistance HQ, Gamon attacks (the guy who had been using Arcland in part 1); he’s easily defeated. We then head to Lafarl, and meet Bashua again. He goes down easily, and Sedy stops Lilith from killing him. He joins the team for some reason. In Lafarl we see that the castle town has been replaced with a massive attack ship, so we go back to the HQ to tell people of that fact. Instead of launching an attack on that, we head back to defeat Landoll instead. Despite him being a big deal in part 1, here he just randomly appears with a few troops and goes down easily, with no dialogue afterwards.
We also meet Geit here, who was the old man that we met on the ship in part 1. Landoll had apparently cursed him, and with Landoll’s defeat he turns back into a young man and joins our team.
At this point we can visit Sedy’s home — mom is happy to see us but sadly dad died only a few months ago.
So now all that remains is a final attack on the Galbard flying machine. However, the initial try at it is a complete failure, as our attack ship goes down in flames — luckily, though, we crash land on an island with nobody hurt, and there’s a big tower that we head for.
Mel appeared briefly in part 1 but she was a mystery. Here she knows who we all are and says that if we go to the top of the tower we can find out the full truth.
The fight against Duft in the tower (one of Marsh’s henchmen) is the only difficult fight in this part — there are a lot of enemies in a small area and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. But I moved everyone back and tried to get the enemies to come to me, and accepted some deaths, and I won the second try.
The “truth” you find out at the top doesn’t seem especially relevant to the game — Meru is the queen of the Heaven People, who once controlled the world as gods but have given up their power. She helps Kyui evolve into a Master Dragon that can fly us to the attack vessel for the final dungeon. But first there’s a strange battle with NPC ships that have to attack the enemy planes to clear a way for Kyui to reach the vessel.
In the vessel as you might expect we fight a series of easy bosses, including Emperor Jedi. The guy who knew Myuu at the end of part 1 is Professor Gabriel and he seems to hold himself responsible for everything because of his research.
The final battle is against Marsh and Alpha (easy as usual) and then we get all the big reveal, most of which has no foreshadowing.
Marsh is a half-android from the future (along with Gabriel and Alpha). In the future there is a huge war that destroys humanity, so for some reason Marsh decides that he should travel back in time and destroy humanity in the past. Alpha was created by Marsh and Gabriel, but Gabriel used his wife’s cells so Alpha retained some humanity. Therefore when Marsh tries to kill Sedy, Alpha blocks it.
Marsh had a weapon ready though that will destroy the whole world, and Alpha tries to control it to stop it.
The assault ship blows up, but the game does not explain how anyone escaped.
The ending shows what everyone does. Milly and Rein apparently get married, as do Sedy and Myuu.
Bashua is apparently Lilith’s dad, and Gabriel is Maria’s dad — two things that are just thrown in there with not much explanation.
So that’s Ryuki Densho. It’s not that great of a game. The gameplay is boring and forgettable, and the story is too rushed in part 2.
Ryuki Denshou (竜機伝承), released 12/18/1997, developed by KSS
The final 1997 SRPG started out as a computer game. There were two more computer games in the series but the first entry was the only one ported to consoles. Like a lot of these computer->console ports the game feels weird in a number of ways.
The game is a bit like Arc the Lad style where you can walk around and talk to people and explore, but then when you get into a battle it’s SRPG style — all the battles are fixed, though. However, there is very little to do outside of the battles and there are only one or two places in the game where you can do something other than simply proceed to the next battle.
The game has a lot of voiced dialogue, with well-known (at least at the time) seiyuu like Ishida Akira, Imai Yuka, Seki Toshihiko and Hoshi Shin’ichiro (lots of Gundam SEED people…)
The main character is Sedy, a 15 year old boy who lives with his family in Northton. His father was once the head of the knights but suffered a serious injury in the previous war against Galvard, and now lives here with his wife and two children. He has taught Sedy swordsmanship from a young age. One day Sedy has a dream of some sort of aircraft dropping bombs on a city, but he wakes up. He goes out to do sword practice but comes across two soldiers trying to abduct an unconscious girl. He goes into to protect her.
The battle system is pretty basic — you have a certain number of AP that you can use for all your actions. Movement generally is 1 AP per square although it depends on the terrain. Attacking is 5 AP, and special moves can be anywhere from 4-10 AP.
The battles for the most part are quite easy; the general strategy is just to let the enemies move next to you and then unload all your attacks on them. Few of the enemies can do more than one move per round. In the 30 or so battles the game has I only had trouble with one or two of them, and even then they weren’t that hard — if a character reaches 0 HP they are just out of that battle but will reappear with 1 HP afterwards. Almost every battle allows you to rest at an inn before the next battle, and even if they don’t you can buy and use healing potions (or just have your healers keep the HP up during the battle).
Levelling is very fast. If the enemies are below your level you will get almost no XP from them, but if you’re even 1-2 levels below you will rocket up the levels from killing them.
Sedy takes the unconscious girl to a nearby cabin where he and his father often stay when they are training. He makes some stew for her and she finally wakes up.
She doesn’t remember anything but her name, Myuu. He brings her back to the village, and after talking with his father, decides to go on a journey with Myuu to find out who she is and where she is from. His little sister Milly, a healer, joins up as well.
The first destination is Fearlad Kingdom, which is now a constitutional monarchy. Sedy hopes that either the Queen or the Prime Minister will help — surprisingly they agree to, but the Prime Minister (Landoll) serves them poisoned food to put them to sleep, intending to give Myuu back to the Galvard Empire.
However, fortunately they had met the prince (Raine) of the kingdom earlier in a bar.
He helps them escape. However, things are still looking really bad, especially when Landoll shoots Prince Raine with a gun. Myuu recognizes what this is and then uses a mysterious power to knock all the enemies out, but she falls unconscious briefly.
Now we need to get a pass to leave, and the rich man in town (Arcland) helps us out after Myuu drives away a demon that one of his helpers had used to control him. With Landoll hot on our trail, we escape by ship, but Milly has to stay behind to distract the guards.
One really annoying thing about this game is the item interface. It’s one of the worst of any SRPG I’ve played so far. There is no way to see who can equip what. You have to use two separate menus to do it — one to move the item to the character, and then another to equip it. Fortunately the equipment makes very little difference and so a lot of the time I just didn’t bother.
Myuu and Sedy talk on the boat ride. An old man on the boat thinks there is something strange about Myuu, but gives us a little dragon-like animal named Putil to accompany us.
Eventually the party reaches Norbel, a port town in the eastern continent. The team sees two people run a scam on a stall owner and steal his food.
But catching up with them, it turns out they were giving most of the food to homeless kids in town. Sedy isn’t particularly happy with this but they let the issue drop and leave — only to find that when they are attacked by bandits, the two people (Lilith and Bubret) join up to fight. Lilith says they are headed for the capital anyway so they might as well travel together.
On our way we pass through the town of Mana, where the townspeople are having problems. A lake dragon keeps taking their girls as sacrifice. Myuu and Lilith decide to have fun swimming.
And Myuu and Lilith are taken to the depths! However, the town chief tells us there is a way to get into the underground caves, and perhaps they might not be dead yet. A woman named Silva joins us.
Reaching the bottom of the cave, the party finds all the town women alive, and Lilith and Myuu are playing in the water with a little boy. However, when we say that we’re rescuing everyone, the boy gets mad and turns into the dragon. He attacks, but after the fight it turns out he’s simply lonely, and when we agree to take him along with us the rest of the women are freed and life in Mana goes back to normal.
Finally the party reaches Lafarl, the capital city. First stop is of course the pub, but there Lilith finds the black-haired man that destroyed her town and killed her parents. She’s looking for revenge.
However, Bashua (the man) easily knocks her away with dark power, although he doesn’t kill her. He leaves behind a locket that has Lilith and her parents in it — now why would he have that? For now we can’t really bother with this, though. The Queen here agrees to help, and in return we go investigate a southern bridge where a number of soldiers were lost. Bashua is there with some followers, and after a battle, knocks us all into the bridge. This is one of the dumbest parts:
Prior to the battle, they make a big deal about how deep the chasm is and how we can’t cross the bridge. After the battle, Bashua knocks everyone into the gap. But during the battle you can walk over the gap and even stop on the chasm. I think things like this show the sort of half-ass nature of the battle system.
Four of the party members wake up on a shore, near a town that Lilith seems to know — it turns out this is where she was found after her village was destroyed. This little girl (I guess?) named Marle also joins.
Now it’s across the desert to try to get back to Lafarl. In the city across the desert we meet a researcher.
He’s working on an airplane but they need Magic Stones to make it work, and those are hard to find. Lilith has a solution — although her home town is destroyed, there still should be magic stones there. We’ll get them as long as he agrees to fly us back to Lafarl. Her town (Weldin) has a bunch of ghosts and zombies in it, but also the magic stone we need. Up up and away!
Unfortunately Silva and Lilith screw around on the plane causing it to crash in Galvard, the third continent. After it was defeated in the previous war it was supposed to be demilitarized, but something seems odd. It’s especially odd when Landoll shows up, wanting to meet Emperor Jedi and a guy named Marsh.
Troops at the castle stop us and then say because we tried to enter the castle we’ll be executed, but a dude with a gun shoots the troop off the bridge.
He is a mercenary named Deen, and we’re able to get access to the castle by pretending to join the military, and then bluffing our way past various guards. We come across a Professor Gabriel who recognizes Myuu and tells us to please get as far away from the castle as we can with her, but he doesn’t tell us who she is. In any case we continue into the castle and find Lafarl troops in jail — Galvard is ready to make war on Lafarl again. For some reason you can talk to Mash Gearhazard and Emperor Jedi and they’ll laugh about their plans to take over the world.
Deen has a magic stone so that lets us fix the airplane and take off to try to go back to Lafarl and warn them. Unfortunately a large fleet of Galvard planes (much more advanced than anything Gideon and his scientist friend came up with) are going too. The bombing of Lafarl from Sedy’s dream happens.
Sedy’s ship crashes into one of the Lafarl ships, and they fight soldiers. Afterwards they have to escape on a small ship.
Unfortunately Myuu doesn’t make it onto the ship.
She thanks Sedy for all his help, and then the ship crashes.
A girl named Maria finds Sedy unconscious on the shore. Now three years pass!
I’ll end the post here; we’re kind of in the second half of the game although I think they ran out of development time because the second part seems somewhat rushed. I need a bit of padding for July so this will become two posts even though I have finished the game. I’ll do Part 2 next week, then the 1997 SRPG wrapup and 1998 preview, and I hope I can have Ys V finished for the week after that, but there might be one week of missed update.