Monthly Archives: July 2024

SRPG 95 – Seirei Shoukan: Princess of Darkness (PS1)

Seirei Shoukan: Princess of Darkness (精霊召喚 〜プリンセス オブ ダークネス〜), released 6/25/1998, developed and published by Shoeisha Software Solutions

This game is a lazy piece of shovelware garbage that was obviously put out just to capitalize on people buying things with bishoujo characters on the cover. Honestly I feel like that’s all I have to write about this game, but I will put more effort in than the developers did to write a full post.

Apparently some players think this character art in the cutscenes is good, but it looks awful to me. In any case, this is the opening scene, where the King of Light’s wife gives birth to twins. But the King of Dark attacks the castle in force. A soldier is able to escape with the two twins, but one of them is stolen by one of the Dark King’s forces. The soldier escapes with the other one (Fitt) and cares for him as a son. 15 years later, the son learns that he is the Prince of Light as the soldier finally dies of his wounds.

The rest of the “story” follows him walking down a road, where he just randomly encounters five elemental spirits that make a compact with him, and kills random servants of the Dark King. They reach the old castle and defeat the monster that originally stole his sister. They continue on down the road and meet the sister, who they beat and then she joins the party. They find a mascot character in a forest. Then the road leads them to the Dark King castle where there’s some philosophical discussion about light and dark needing each other but the party defeats him. The whole thing is only 13 stages and can be beaten in less than 6 hours.

The only thing about the game that shows more than minimum effort is the voice acting, which was done by well known (at the time) professionals like Seki Tomokazu, Ogata Megumi, and Hisakawa Aya.

Each character goes in stat order (I guess the WT stat). You have three “orbs” to spend each round to act. You can spend the orbs in any combination you want, but a 3 orb attack is going to be more powerful than three 1-orb attacks. The special moves also get stronger with more orbs. A huge problem with the game is that you can’t move through your allies, which often traps people behind others, especially in the narrow areas that are in most of the battles. You also can’t take back your movement.

“Well,” you might say, “Why not just split up the party so that you don’t get trapped?” You can’t do that because if the spirits get too far away from Fitt, you can no longer control them. This will cause them to either freeze in place for the whole battle, or rush ahead at maximum move into the middle of the enemies.

There are also unskippable battle animations.

If Fitt dies you get a game over, if the spirits die they will come back the next battle and there is a part after the battle where you can increase your “love” points with the spirit by answering a question (which seems to have little effect on the game). Fitt can also use a guard move to take damage for the spirits. The game overall is easy, but if you have trouble you can just retreat (and keep your XP from the fight) and try again.

Outside of battle, there are no towns or shops. You can equip things, and use items.

There is no reason to play this game. Because it’s so short I can’t say it’s my least pleasant playing experience of this blog, but as I said in the opening, it’s an insultingly lazy effort that exists just to pander to the bishoujo fad.

SRPG 94 – Masumon KIDS (PS1)

Masumon KIDS (マスモンKIDS), released 6/25/1998, developed by System Soft, released by Toshiba EMI

Master of Monsters is a game that initially came out for Japanese computers in 1988 and was ported to a bunch of different systems — the Genesis and Playstation versions came out in English and so are known to some Western gamers. I’ve never played it, but it seems to be a strategy game based on summoning monsters.

This was apparently supposed to be an easier version of the game that was more appropriate for younger gamers who wouldn’t be able to get into the complicated original game. It barely squeaks by as a strategy RPG under my definition but in the end I didn’t play much of it.

The story, as far as I got, involves tracking down four Holy Knights to join your team in opposing the forces of evil. I didn’t get this far, but the instruction booklet mentions that part of the game takes place in the present day, and you see reincarnations of the characters there. That seems like an interesting concept but I’m not sure how well it’s implemented.

The battle system is based on the MoM roots. You have your main summoner character plus any of the Holy Knights you found so far. There are a couple of summon circles on the map, and if your summoner is standing on them you can summon people for your team. One unfortunate decision (that I saw a lot of Japanese reviews complain about) is that each stage has a fixed set of 3 monsters you can summon. It’s different for each stage, and while the monsters can gain levels, no monsters stick around after the battle, so they’re essentially just meaningless grunts. Only your summoner and the Knights preserve their levels. This is what makes it feel to me more like a strategy game than a strategy RPG.

Each stage seems to work the same way. There is an enemy summoner (or two) that starts on a summoning circle, and will use each round to summon monsters to fill any of the 4 empty spaces around them, and then all the monsters will come attack you. Eventually the enemy summoner will run out of monsters to summon.

All of the summons are pretty weak, but your non-summon monsters are not really strong enough to clear the stages on their own (I was able to sort of do it for the first few maps, but not really). I think the intent is that you keep your summoner on the starting circle and summon lots of monsters until the enemy runs out, and then go in and finish him off.

This takes a long time, though, and I think if you played the whole game this way (especially if you didn’t use emulator speedup) you would be looking at quite a long game. Although there is a youtube playthrough of it that seems to be around 20 hours so maybe it’s not as long as I think.

Summoning the monsters requires gems, which you can buy at a shop between levels or recover from battle by stepping on a square where a summoned monster died (you or the opponent). You can also buy spells as well, which is the only thing you can equip on your summoners. The spells have a certain number of uses, and I think when they run out you have to buy a new one.

So this game really wasn’t my cup of tea; I certainly didn’t want to play 31 stages of it. I looked around at Japanese reviews and it seems like a lot of people complained about the same things I did, but I think if you are more tolerant of these kind of “grunts vs. grunts” games you might get more out of it than I did.