Author Archives: kurisu

SFC Game 76 – Ladystalker: Challenge From the Past

Lady Stalker (レディストーカー 〜過去からの挑戦〜), released 4/1/1995, developed by Climax

In 1992, Climax released a game for the Mega Drive called Landstalker. It wasn’t really an RPG, it was more of an action/adventure game that used the same isolinear perspective as Solstice and other games like that. The title is rather odd because the word ストーカー in Japanese has the same meaning as “stalker” in English. I imagine the designers were trying to evoke other meanings of English “stalk”, as someone moving around sneakily. But I’m not sure. In any case this accounts for the dubious name of the sequel — the main character is a woman named Lady, so the game is a lady “stalking” around the land, not a stalker of women.

This 1995 game is based on Landstalker, which I never played (I was a Nintendo kid). If anyone did play this let me know your thoughts in the comments. They removed the ability to jump but added XP and levels, making it a full-fledged RPG. (Dark Savior for the Saturn and Alundra for the Playstation are additional games with the same basic developers.)

The beginning story is that this girl named Lady, who is the daughter of a rich person, causes so much trouble that her dad shuts her up in a house with a tutor Yoshio and a cook Cooks (spelled “Cocks” in the instruction manual but I’ll use “Cooks” instead). She manages to break out and heads to Destrand Island, where she’s heard rumors of great treasure. When she gets there, she learns that the island was ruled by King Baron long ago, a genius scientists who did all kinds of experiments, especially on his fellow monsters. But to learn more and further explore, Lady needs a visa, which she can only get by going through a training area.

The movement takes some getting used to. The up arrow is NW; I always felt like it should be the NE instead. I did get used to it after the first dungeon or so but it is really frustrating until you do.

Inside the training areas Lady meets her first combats. These are done in a random encounter style, but the encounter takes place on the same map where you are. Thankfully, not every place has random encounters, and in particular, the rooms that have puzzles usually do not have any enemies.

You swing the sword by pressing A. By holding down A she charges up a move. These moves depend on your equipped weapon, either a Whip or a Glove. There’s supposed to be a tradeoff where the whip has longer range but weaker strength. In practice, since the basic attack is always the short-range sword, I think the whip is useless.

One thing I did not find out until way too late in the game is that attacking from behind or the side does more damage. This is easier once Lady gets companions. You also can’t just hold down a turbo button because the enemies will block your attacks if you do that. I thought the battle system on the whole was well done.

The purpose of the first dungeon is just to teach you some of the basic features of the game — picking up blocks to make stairways (since you can’t jump), solving basic puzzles, easy fights, and dashing with the B button to cross gaps. At the end, Lady watches a film in the museum and learns that King Baron developed a machine to make monsters huge, but then somehow was defeated. An archaeologist named Sajik went to try to find the machine but nobody has heard from him.

Now Lady can leave the town, and she heads for Rivertown, the largest city on the island. It’s next to Baron Castle, but nobody goes there because there are too many traps and tricks — of course that’s our next destination.

There are a lot of traps in the castle, including fireball shooting heads. But the main thing is when the monsters trap Lady and force her to do various kinds of torture games before she can leave.

Here Lady learns about Jumbo BabyBaron (JB) who seems to be controlling things. There’s also the first boss, JB’s pet, but he’s not very hard. It seems like the monsters’ goal is to make some way to eat human meat every day — this turns out to be canned humans, which Lady finds out in the next town where a bunch of enslaved humans are laboring, and JB is trying to find an ancient relic of some kind. Lady needs to escape through the sewer to reach the next area.

The sewer has some areas where you have to swim underwater, losing health, but if you go to areas with bubbles you can breathe air and restore HP (even HP lost in combats, which is nice).

Coming out of the sewer, Lady reaches Deathvegas. There’s a casino which will open later, as well as Meg, Sajik’s wife. Lady tells someone she’ll work in the mines and she gets a ticket to ride the cable car there.

As soon as Lady reaches here she gets thrown in prison by JB, but Yoshio is there as well. Yoshio joins, and Cooks is apparently in the area as well. Yoshio and Cooks work on AI control; at the beginning they’re a liability because they’re so weak and there’s no way to revive allies except by visiting a church. But once you get them better equipment so they can survive a few hits, they do well at distracting the monsters while you go in for a back or side hit. Cooks can cast healing spells which is nice too, as the 5 healing items you can carry don’t last very long. Escaping the cell, Lady overhears that JB has found some ancient machine that can make monsters big.

This dungeon is based mostly on riding mine cards around, and you can change the direction by pressing the arrow keys and slow it down with B.

Eventually we find that JB is going to execute Cooks, but when JB reads what’s on a stone tablet in the box in front of him, he leaves, allowing us to rescue Cooks and put him in our party. The tablet tells us that we need to use a white ball to revive the ancient machine, so that’s probably what JB is going to try to find.

You fight the boss here on a minecart that shoots fireballs, so you have to shoot the opponent while racing around on the cars.

Next up is a monster village — Lady goes back to Deathvegas to get Monster Extract to become monsters. Here we also find the Shining Ball man who will take Shining Balls and exchange them for good items throughout the game. The Casino is also open.

The monsters there tell us that the mayor was trapped in the Volcano; we need to reach the interior machine and put the bolts back in to stop it.

I found this to be the hardest dungeon in the game in terms of the monster difficulty, partly because the companions were so weak. It’s possible I could have gotten better equipment before here, I’m not sure. In any case, Lady finds the mayor, but he’s dying. JB has been using a machine to make them bigger, but those bigger bodies age faster and die quicker. He warns Lady-monster not to be fooled by JB. After the Volcano is fixed we can take the mine car on to the next era, snow valley.

This is another mine car area, as well as ice-sliding puzzles. Eventually Lady reaches a machine that turns her into an ice block, and you actually have to fight a boss as the ice.

Afterwards there’s a hammer that can break the ice, and it also breaks the ice of another person who turns out to be Sajik the archeologist. He heads back to Rivertown, and we go on to Ramus Tower. (This area has some enemies that are like metal slimes in DQ that give huge XP but run away easily. The end area has ones that are clearly based on the king slimes as well.)

We can’t get in to Ramus Tower so back to the towns to find new equipment and various things — it also turns out that a lot of the townspeople have left, now that they’ve heard the treasure rumors were fake and that they were just lured here to become canned food. But the museum in port town has the Ramus Statue, which opens up the tower.

There are spirits in the tower that tell the story of King Ramus, who made this tower to try to steal King Baron’s machine. Ramus tried to reach Baron Rock by air, but never could. The King himself is at the top, and begs us to take him to Baron Rock…maybe this old rug we found in the tower can help? Yes, it’s a flying carpet, and the king accompanies us to Baron Rock and then disappears, having fulfilled his dream.

Unfortunately Baron Rock has places we would need to jump up — Lady can’t jump, so it’s back to Deathvegas again. There we get gas powered shoes that allow limited jumps, and the power can be restored by going to gas vents.

This part of the game was tricky because as you can see from the picture, the way the graphics are done does not make it very clear where the platforms are. I fell a lot just because I could not tell if the next platform was in front of me or to a side. The dungeon also requires you to use Stone Shoes to walk over spikes, and find the Ganubis Proof to walk over a holy area.

At Angel Rock, the next area, we learn the King Baron was devoured by his own monsters, who evidently then tried to seal the machine away.

There’s a puzzle to solve that opens the door to King Baron’s mansion — unfortunately we were tricked into doing this by JB, who could not solve the puzzle himself and so used us to gain access. In King Baron’s mansion, we have to prove that we are the worthy successor to King Baron in order to progress — as usual this is more puzzles. The boss of this area is copies of ourselves, who really aren’t that hard.

Now it’s on to Baron Tower, where we learn more about JB and King Baron’s experiments on monsters. There’s a weird area here where we shrink to miniature size and have to go around this monster’s body. Finally at the end, JB breaks a bridge and sends us down into the Gates of Hell…where there’s more rocket shoe jumping puzzles, worse than the ones in the previous area.

But after this it’s basically the end of the game. JB finally fights us, but he’s not particularly difficult. JB then tells his story — he was a little Baby Baron until he was thrown into the machine and turned into a giant.

JB then had to capture more monsters to use as experiments, but none of them survived. Even JB’s body is unstable…and he then changes into a dragon. After beating the dragon, JB is finally dead. But now the machine comes alive, apparently still possessed by the spirit of King Baron (or maybe King Baron is the machine).

The boss has three forms. The first two are heads that come from the machine, and Lady can get behind them and attack. But the final form is bullshit — it’s stationary at the back of the room, and uses spells that damage everyone no matter where they are. So there’s no strategy or finesse possible, it’s just a question of whether you are high enough level to survive. I think you have to be in the 29-31 area to do it.

The ending scene is short, and just has the island being turned into an amusement park. Lady makes sure there is a statue of JB at the top (I guess she feels sorry for him being used by King Baron? He still killed a lot of people…)

The final image is the photograph that Lady got taken earlier in the game (one of those “put your head through the hole”) pictures.

Overall this was a pretty enjoyable game once I got used to the controls. It’s fairly short but that’s probably a good thing. The occasional interface issues and the stupid final boss are disappointing, but I had fun with it overall.

SRPG Game 64 – Riglord Saga 2 wrap-up/review

  1.  Turn type: Player/enemy turn
  2. Maps: Medium, height affects movement, and you can fall off “slopes”?
  3. Character Customization: Mostly none
  4. Character Development: Standard XP/level system, plus a skill leveling system.Using a type of skill gives you XP in that skill area, and when you level it up you can learn new skills of that type.
  5. Party Size: Max 8 on the map, 9(?) possible characters
  6. Equipment: Weapon and 4 armor slots.
  7. Game Flow: Mostly linear, but a few optional side events. There is an optional challenge dungeon.
  8. Saving: Outside of battle.
  9. Death: Defeated characters are removed from the battle but return afterwards.

One thing I have never done on either of my playthroughs is do numerical ratings. CRPG Addict and many others do have a system where they have a number of categories and give each one a numerical rating. I thought I would try that for this point just to see what happens; I don’t know if this will become a new standard. Each criterion will have a max of 10 points, and 5 represents average (so this is not school type grading where a 5 would be a failure).

For graphics I have to rate this quite low. I can appreciate graphics from most eras of games as long as they are done well — for instance, Just Breed would get a pretty high rating despite being on the Famicom. Unfortunately Riglord Saga 2 just doesn’t look very good.

To me these graphics and blocky and ugly. It’s an unfortunate problem with these early Saturn and Playstation games that they were trying to do some kind of 3D or polygon art but the technology just wasn’t there yet. But even beyond the aesthetics, the poor graphics are confusing when it comes to the terrain — there are many cases where it is impossible to tell whether an area will cause you to slip and fall just from the graphics. They provided a terrain sensor on the bottom right that will tell you, but that seems like a patch over the bad graphics. The worst example of this was the desert map, where I had no idea where I could walk and where I couldn’t; the areas that were too steep to walk over seemed random. So let’s give this a 3.

The Music/sound was pretty good. You can hear the OST on youtube although I was not able to find one particular song that I think was played on the field and had some saxophone. The opening and ending scenes are voiced, but the only other voice is in the battle animations (which are too long so I turned them off). 7

The Story is decent. It’s longer than the first game and does have some twists and turns, although it’s nothing special. 5

The System overall is good. It has two things I always like — each character is very different, and the characters change what they can do as the game progresses. Not every element of the system worked out (I think the “pick up” mechanic of the winged units is basically a failure, and not really needed), but for the most part it’s good. Everything plays smoothly and there’s not big slowdowns. 8

The Map Design is average, I would say. The designers do put some special things on each map which would raise the score but at the same time I have to lower it because of frustrating maps like the Desert and the one where you have to fall down the cliff taking damage. 5

The Balance is pretty good for the game as a whole; there were only one or two times when I was doing “grinding”, and even then the grinding consisted of trying to get as far as I could in the map and then retreating when I had lost several characters, which doesn’t feel as grindy. The characters are not as balanced as they could be, though. In particular, characters with single skills (i.e. Asuka and Anju) tend to advance much more quickly and reach their super-powerful techniques much earlier in the game than other characters who have multiple types of moves. The main character Myu is particularly hard to use because of this, and she was often one of my weakest characters. 6

The Interface overall is good, with one notable exception — you cannot see what the moves do in battle. This is unacceptable in a game with as many different kinds of moves as this game has, especially in 1996. 4

Extras — I didn’t do any of the extra stuff, but there are three optional areas and a bonus dungeon. The game isn’t as freestyle as the first game, with all the story battles being completely linear, but you do have a chance to do some of those extra things. 5

That gives a total score of 43 out of 80, which would put this game just above average — I feel like I had more fun with the game than that numeric score would suggest; I’m often surprised that CRPG Addict’s numbers work out so closely to how much he enjoyed the game. One reason for this is that I gave equal weight to every element, even though (for me) the system, balance, and map design are far more important than the story, graphics, or music. CRPG Addict does not include criteria for graphics or sound (for instance).

If I only consider those three most important criteria it’s 19/30 which is 63% instead of 53%; I would say that is closer to a reflection of how much I enjoyed the game, if we consider 50% to be a level of complete neutrality (That is, a 50% game would be one that I played through and it was fine, but it wasn’t especially good or especially bad. Playable but forgettable). If I went back to Arc the Lad II I think it would get a higher overall score (since the only areas that would really suffer for me would be Balance and maybe a bit of a ding on Map Design), even though in terms of pure personal enjoyment AtL2 would be quite low on the list of games I’ve played so far. But maybe that’s OK because it would show that AtL2 is still a good game despite my personal dislike for it? I don’t know.

I don’t know if I’ll keep doing these numerical scores but it was interesting to see how it worked out.

Next up (after 2 SNES action RPGs) will be Harukaze Sentai V-Force, a 3 CD game that put a lot of effort into the visuals.

SRPG Game 64 – Riglord Saga 2 (Final)

From the library we learn that two things are needed — Malachite, and an Arlon Stone. The Malachite is easily found in the underground lava area but the Arlon Stone is on Samosa Isle in Riglord. Diana takes us there, and now with those items, Falco repairs the Wings.

Now you can go anywhere in the game — I guess I could have gone back to Yamatai to get the optional character. There’s also one or two new places to go (a cave with some treasure, and a town that has the extra dungeon similar to the one in Riglord Saga 1). But I just headed to the Dimensional Road to follow the 7 Council.

The Dimensional Road has three sections. The first one is fine; the second is annoying because you have to get down the cliffs by sliding down them and taking damage (or maybe the pickup by Dragon or Bird-Kamui works). I lost several characters doing this, but fortunately everyone gets restored at the end of this part. At the bottom, the lingering spirits of Galzard and Raglos tell us to beware of the Council and talk about how their inner feelings were exploited or something like that — you all said that literally all living things deserved to die and tried to make that happen, so no redemption arc for you.

One of the Council leaves, but the other 6 Council stay to fight up. They’re fairly strong (and get two actions like a lot of the bosses) but they only come at you two at a time, and if you use Myu’s defense/magic defense fields they can’t really do that much. They also waste some of their turns on Giga Healing (which only restores 400 HP).

Now it seems like we won and saved the world, but Myu sort of saw the 7th Council member leave so they decide to go around the world to see if there are any further problems, starting with the library. Anju’s dad left them a letter which explains the situation — he’s actually the leader of the Council. He and the other six were researching the Chaos power in Cuchuran years ago, but they began to be infected by the Chaos power that awakened their latent ambitions and hatred. Based on this they tried to take over the world and destroy it. Anju’s dad has decided to end his life in the lava below.

Anju tries to stop him, but he throws himself into the lava. But the lingering spirits of the other 6 stop him, and destruction begins to rain over the land as the Chaos power goes haywire. Just then, the crystal that had sealed Chaos before appears and we get drawn into it for the final battle.

Anju’s dad has already become just a disembodied spirit, but he tells Anju to fight against the 7 lingering spirits even if that means his own soul will be destroyed.

This is a harder battle than the last one because there are 7 of them, they’re stronger than the 6 before, and they all come at you at once. Nevertheless I didn’t have too much trouble with it. I started by using Myu’s defense fields. Rusty did Arc Heal every turn and the other people just attacked with their strongest moves, paying attention to what defensive moves the 7 were using (i.e. don’t use physical attacks when they have Counter). Myu died but I was able to revive her. Once you take out one or two of them it becomes considerably easier. Sometimes they get into the defensive fields but Asuka’s Mountain Storm can move them out of it.

The ending scene just has us dropping everyone off at their places. Myu gives the Wings to Diana, who will go with Falco and Hawekeye to start an import business.

Rusty finally confesses his feelings…

And they have a baby.

I didn’t do some of the optional content; my final timer was somewhere around 26 hours which still isn’t that long but it’s much longer than original Riglord. I’ll make a wra-up/review post later this week.

SRPG Game 64 – Riglord Saga 2 (Part 2)

This is a much longer game than the first Riglord; I’m not quite finished with it yet and I think in the end it will be more than double the length of the first game. I also have to correct something I said in the first post — you can rotate the camera in battle with the A button.

We ended with Myu following Galzard to Kadarl, where she is imprisoned and will be put to death the next day. The rest of the group goes to Diana to use her ship to reach Kadarl, which for some reason has some super technology that lets her reach it quickly (instead of in a few months).

In prison she meets Anju, the daughter of the head librarian of the Alectoria Library. Apparently the 7 Council Members are trying to get forbidden knowledge from the Library, which has traditionally been neutral. They’re looking for some kind of old, forgotten magic. Galzard comes by to do a helpful villain plan monologue, but it’s just the same old stuff — the 7 members want to kill everyone in the world so that only chosen people can live there and everything will be peaceful and just.

With Anju’s help we escape the prison and fight our way out. Anju has library magic that is overall pretty good; she’s one of the best characters in the game.

We’re hoping to get a ship from Poporon back to Riglord continent, but the rest of the party has already made it here. We decide that while we’re here we might as well go back to the tower and take out the 7 Council if we can. Diana heads off in her ship and we go back up the mountain. A quick visit to the library and we meet Anju’s father, who tells her to stay at the library and succeed him as head librarian. When she decides to go fight instead, he disowns her and throws us out.

The tower is kind of annoying because it’s easy to fall or be pushed off the path (and of course the enemies just walk off the slopes and kill themselves sometimes). Shiranami’s Steal Tech ability is quite useful to get a few good defensive techniques, particularly Hikikaeshi which reflects damage back on the user (I think this comes later though).

The 7 Council members have already left by the time we reach the top, and Galzard stays behind to fight us.

Galzard isn’t all that difficult, and he blabs on about the 7’s plan before he dies. Now we need to get back to Riglord, but Diana has already left. So where can we pick up knowledge? The library, of course. Diana’s father is gone, and we find a hidden area under his office that has secret knowledge, including information about the “wings of light”, a flying machine that can take us anywhere. Through an underground passage, we come out near a village that contains people who have watched over these Wings for some time. He gives us a key to open the cave where the Wings are, but we need a Garma Stone which is in a “hot place” (the desert).

The underground passage

In the hot desert everyone takes damage every turn. The desert is also quite annoying because the graphics make it hard to tell where you can actually move, and I kept getting trapped in areas or sliding down hills. I also took the wrong exit first which leads to an optional area, the “Dream Maze”. This is apparently where you get an extra character, but you have to solve the dungeon on your first try or you don’t get another chance. I failed and saved before I realized I couldn’t enter a second time — at least I moved up 3 levels from the enemies.

Dream Maze

The other exit leads to the Isis Pyramid, which is the most difficult dungeon in the game. I moved up 8 levels total with all the times I had to retreat and retry it — there are a bunch of enemy spawn points, half the enemies can’t be hurt by physical attacks, and the enemies have some pretty strong moves. There’s also 2 levels and you can’t save between them (although you can use defensive techs to restore HP and MP before you go up the stairs). There’s also a part near the end of the first floor where you have to use Myu’s earth raise/lower techniques to reach the top — it’s just too hard to make sense of the graphics for me to know how to do this well.

With the Garma Stone from the pyramid, we head back to the Underwater Temple to activate the bird. This map makes you search various areas to raise and lower platforms until you can get to the final switch.

Back to Riglord! Unfortunately when we reach there the Wings break and crash. However, we’re close to Dragoon Castle so no problem. The people in the nearby town are pissed off at Myu for leaving without telling them what happened and think she’s a traitor; lets ignore them and head for the castle. There, we find out that the king was (probably) killed, but we do manage to clear out the enemies and free the soldiers that had been captured.

At this point there was quite a bit of imbalance in my characters. Anju, Asuka, and Kamui had already maxed their defense and attack moves because they each only have one type of attack. But the others with more than one type of move were behind and didn’t have as powerful stuff (except for Rusty, whose spells are really good no matter what). For a while I was avoiding using the three that had maxed moves already, but I decided that at this point I was close enough to the end of the game that I could just use whoever I wanted. Kamui is disappointing, and I also feel that Myu is difficult to use because she has the most types of abilities (defend, sword, special magic, and dragon).

Now it’s time to set out for Queensland to try to chase the 7 Council if we can. But there’s a mist blocking our way across the bridge. Fortunately Hawkeye, a bird fighter, saves us and tells us that back in his shop he has a ring that can dispel the mist. His brother has been captured by the Kadarl forces which is why he’s out there.

The town with his shop has been taken over by Kadarl but the enemies are easily dealt with. Back to the bridge, and the mist goes away. Myu’s float technique helps us cross the ravines, and we move on.

Passing a locked cave and an optional forest area with chests, we finally reach Queensland Castle and Raglos’ tower. This area is not very hard.

The second part is a long spiral area where archers shoot at you, but using that stolen tech that reflects damage back on the attacker makes it easier. Raglos himself was pretty weak. But the 7 Council have already left just as we arrived — they are going to the Dimensional Gate to reach the land of Cuculchlan. It turns out that Anju’s dad gave them the knowledge of controlling the chaos power of Cuculchlan in exchange for the library’s safety — it’s another Galman Orb.

A fairy named Luna shows up, telling us that she’s the guardian of the Mystery Forest; the 7 are trying to enter the Chaos Gate from there. Unfortunately we need to repair the Wings first to be able to reach them — fortunately Hawkeye’s brother knows how to repair it, and we now have the key to the cave where he’s kept.

The cave enemies are easy. Falco (Hawkeye’s brother) can indeed repair the wings, but he’ll need some specific items that the library will help us find. So it’s back to Kadarl to visit the library.

I think this is a good point to break off the post — I’m close to the end so I will not wait until next Saturday to post the final update; probably I’ll do it on Monday.

SRPG Game 64 – Riglord Saga 2 (Saturn)

Riglord Saga 2 (リグロードサーガ2), developed by Micro Cabin, released 11/18/1996

This is the followup to 1995’s Riglord Saga (also called “Mystaria: Realms of Lore” or “Blazing Heroes”). It was released only about a year after the first game, so unsurprisingly it’s very similar to that one. Which is not a bad thing; I enjoyed the first game and this is more of the same. Unfortunately this game never came out in English.

The game shares the same strengths of the first game — a good XP system that distributes it evenly among everyone, and interesting skills that give a feeling of character growth and individuality. It also carries over some of the weaknesses — ugly graphics, and some interface issues. For instance, you can’t see what abilities do when you’re selecting them, which is a significant problem given the large number of abilities in the game and the complexity of their use. The ugly graphics are mostly ignorable, but the lack of a camera rotation at times makes it hard to see where things are or where you can move. You can press buttons to adjust the camera angle but this is only of limited help.

The story takes place 100 years after the first game, and most of the characters are descendants of the characters from the original.

The “council of 7” of Kadarl Kingdom is mwaha-ing about the usual evil plan to take over the world. They send two of their top followers, Raglos and Galzard, to carry out the plan (although they don’t get along very well.)

On the Riglord Continent, we’re introduced to our starting main characters. Myu, the daughter of the King of Dragoon (the descendant of Evan/Ashe from the first game), and Rasty, the Prince of Queensland (the descendant of Arthur from the first game). The King sends them on a training battle first to practice. This part of the game is voiced, but there is very little story voicing in the game.

Battle 1 is a training map where you practice Myu’s dragon transformation. I died the first time because I moved in the wrong place, but all you have to do is sit where she is in that picture and use Wind, which knocks the enemies off the cliff and kills them. I believe the way that people can fall off things and die or take damage is a new element in this game, but I might just not be remembering.

After the battle, Galzard shows up with his troops and sacks the castle, forcing Myu and Rasty to flee, telling us to go to Yamatai Continent for reinforcements. The equipment in the nearby town is very expensive (clearly this is where the game will end, or close to it), so I headed south. One other change in this game is that you can now explore the towns; this makes no palpable difference because you’re basically doing the same thing you did when you selected the houses from a menu in the last game.

Battle 2 is with troops at the border, but this is another training. Rasty tells me to use Earth Moll to raise up the ground, which flings everyone off, killing all the enemies.

Now we get a ship with captain Diana and head to Yamatai, to the Iga village. There, it turns out that Kadarl is already attacking. Asuka (the descendant of Raiko) is being attacked, and we come in to save him. The enemies can use control magic which is annoying, especially with so few guys. Generally my tactic is to always use the move that gives the most XP unless I have a reason not to, and to always defend with the most XP defense move — developing your defense moves early is a big help, as some of them are quite good. Power Absorb gives you a 75% chance of an attack restoring your HP rather than damaging (although once it succeeds it doesn’t work until you use it again next turn). There are other defense moves that restore HP, restore MP, counter, etc.

Asuka is the leader of the Tsukigumi ninja band, although his ninjas have been captured by Kadarl. Since he alone came back to town, the town thinks that he is a traitor.

The next stage introduces another new gameplay element. Myu, in her dragon form, can pick people up and carry them across crevasses. But it’s not worth doing unless you have to, because it takes one turn to change into dragon, one turn to “rise”, and then one turn to pick up the person. Now you can start moving, but if Myu gets killed, both she and the person she’s holding will die if they’re over the canyon. I can see what they were trying to do here but having to take 3 full turns to pick someone up with the great danger it brings is not worth it. You also have to be careful where you move, because if you end your turn on a slope you will sometimes fall into the pit or slide down and take damage.

Next up is the ninja base, which Kadarl has taken over. This is a two part map with no saving in between (I never like this). There are a number of traps in the stage as well. The first time I had to retreat because I got charmed and Asuka killed both Myu and Rasty.

After beating the boss here we get a mirror. This is one of three items we need to open a sealed cave that leads to Geden Castle. This is where Genyusai (the main villain of the first game) was, and it’s where Galzard is now. Myu decides that if we can kill Galzard here that will significantly reduce Kadarl’s ability to fight. So we go to find the other items to open the cave.

First I went west, across a barrier with a short easy battle (easy because you can use all of Rasty’s most powerful spells without having to care about MP).

On the other side is the town of Gojo. The owner of the tea shop gives us tea spiked with sleep drug because there’s a bounty on our heads, and we get thrown into prison. But the archer/thief Shiranami helps us. She has all the archer abilities of the archer from the first game, as well as steal abilities. One of them is “steal move”, which can get some techs that can only be gained by stealing them from enemies.

The prison escape stage is long.

You need to hide behind trees so that the many archers cannot pick you off. Moving slowly through the stage is good. There is a boss, but he’s not too bad — he uses a defense move that makes you get hurt instead of him (and lasts the whole enemy phase), but if he uses that you can just defend yourself and wait until he does something else instead. Fortunately this boss also has the next item we need for the sealed cave.

Now as we escape, we have to cross a bridge that gets burned by the next boss, the brother of the boss of the previous stage. This is the very familiar stage design that’s been used in a bunch of games up to now, where you have to move forward while the bridge burns behind you. In the end I didn’t defeat most of the monsters, and Myu in dragon form escaped herself while everyone else died. The tea merchant who poisoned us is very apologetic.

A good example of the poor graphics

Now there are two optional areas to go. One is Nazuna Cave, which I tried but has these annoying crevasses you have to pass over with Myu. The other is Oboro Valley, which has archers on a high point that slaughter you if you’re not prepared. I decided to wait until I was stronger to try them, but I think I waited too long and I lost access to them.

Instead, I headed through the east barrier to find the last item. In the town there, a huge dude named Kamui was sending off another girl to be a hostage; the Seiryobu group of Kadarl was taking a bunch of children and women hostage to force the village to comply.

Of course we can’t let this happen, although the enemies don’t seem to kill the hostages when they have the chance. Anyway, there’s a small battle in town, and they do manage to kill Yukari (the last woman). But Rasty saves her with his great healing power.

Now we have to go up Horai Mountain. This stage has a lot of chokepoints and places you can fall off the cliff; I had to retreat and try again 3 or 4 times before I finally got through (you always get XP when you retreat so it’s a good way to build your party up).

At the base, we have to split into two teams — this doesn’t fight separate battles, but just has one team at the top of the map freeing the hostages. If you search the door of the cell three times the stage is over and there are a lot of chests; I didn’t realize this so missed most of them.

Now we take on the main base and beat another boss — a strange enemy who has somehow been brainwashed into thinking all the children are their own, but we still have to kill them. At the same time we get the final item to open the gate, so it’s time to head to Geden Castle (this is apparently the last chance to do the optional areas).

First off is climbing a big mountain with extra spawning enemies, but it’s not especially hard. Kamui is able to change to a bear or a bird, in addition to using some regular skills. The bear form is nice because it regenerates HP at the beginning of each turn.

At the top is Geden Castle. The first floor is long and has a bunch of traps. I ended up losing Rasty and Myu and was afraid I would have to retreat and do it again, but fortunately after the first part you get healed (although you can’t save).

Now time for the boss, Galzard. He’s not that bad although the freeze attack is annoying. I used Myu’s defense area to raise everyone’s defense.

Once Galzard is defeated, he’s called back to the Kadarl home country by the Council of 7. Myu tries to stop him from going in the teleporter but gets teleported herself. The rest of the party decides to go to Higata town where Diana (the ship captain) is waiting, so we can follow her. My guys are all level 14.

So far I’m enjoying it as much as I did the first game; hopefully that will hold out until the end.

SFC Game List (1995, April through June)

Time for a new post outlining my next set of games. As usual, I took my full list from a variety of sources, some of which are very liberal in labeling something an RPG. There’s also a burst of PCE games in this section. The bolded games are the ones I will be playing.

The first three games on the list are all games that I think qualify as Action RPGs, but I’m not 100% certain about any of them.

  • Lady Stalker: Challenge from the Past
  • Mahoujin Guruguru
  • Rejoice: From Far Aretha’s Kingdom (the last game in the Aretha series)
  • La Wares (This game is notorious as a kusoge)
  • River Fishing 2 (this game may technically qualify but it’s mostly a fishing game rather than an RPG, and I’m not a big fan of fishing games.)
  • PCE Gulliver Boy (This is a different game from the Super Famicom RPG of the same name, although both based on the same anime)
  • Elfaria II (Sequel to the auto battle game I played earlier)
  • PCE Nekketsu Legend Baseballer
  • Princess Minerva (I already played the PCE version)
  • Ruin Arm
  • Der Langrisser (I played the PC-FX version on the SRPG side)
  • Gran Historia
  • Little Master 3 (already done on the SRPG side
  • Tottemo! Lucky Man (I may reevaluate this when I reach this point, but I don’t believe this quite qualifies as an action RPG for me.)
  • PCE Xanadu II (Apparently much shorter and simpler than the first Xanadu game)

No big names in this list. The huge hitter for 1995 will be the last set (October-December), although the next block does have Seiken Densetsu 3 in it.

PCE Game 43 – Dragon Knight & Graffiti (NSFW)

This is yet another game in the Dragon Knight series of eroge. The second and third games had already been released in non-ero ports for the PCE, and they decided to release the first game in 1995. This game was originally released for PCs in 1989, so understandably it’s going to be somewhat outdated by now.

The “graffiti” part of the title refers to the “graffiti mode”, where you can see profiles and pictures of the girls from all three games — you can sort the lists by age, bust size, name, etc. The example is Priscilla from Dragon Knight III (Knights of Xentar).

Like the second game, the first one is a dungeon crawler. The hero as usual is Yamato Takeru, a wandering adventurer who happens on the town of Strawberry Fields, where he doesn’t see anyone. It turns out this is a place of only women, which piques Takeru’s interest. A woman named Ann sees that he is a knight prophecied to save them, and leads him to the Queen. It seems that Gabirlban, the head of the Dragon Knights, has taken six jewels that are necessary to revive the goddess Aqualine. Takeru’s goal is to find one gem on each of the six floors of the goddess tower. Everyone seems a bit uneasy about Takeru because he’s so casual and focused on beautiful girls, but he sets out anyway.

Takeru is given a gem that lets him cast spells — just two spells, a healing spell, and an attack spell that hits all enemies (and can also do some damage to enemies that aren’t hurt much by regular attacks).

Fortunately there’s an automap, so the game plays smoothly. The balance is what you might expect from a 1989 game, though. At first the enemies are very strong and you can only last 2-3 battles before having to go back to town. Healing and restoring MP costs money, so there’s almost nothing left over for upgrading equipment. The enemies also get stronger as you level. But once I hit level 5, the enemies stopped increasing in strength and it became much easier to explore the level, and by level 6 most of the enemies on the first floor couldn’t even hit me. Then I was able to fully explore the level and upgrade my equipment.

The first task is to remove this golem so you can get a key. The wise woman in town has a potion that puts it to sleep. With the key, we can save one of the warriors who was captured by the enemies. This is where the ero-scenes all come in.

As usual we’re faced with the uncomfortable situation where all of the ero-scenes involve the women tied up, captured, or threatened by enemies. Unlike the other DK games, there is no sex. I found a set of pictures from the PC game and many of them don’t even have nudity; the amount of censoring they had to do for the PCE release was very minimal (for instance, the picture I gave above is exactly the same in the PC version).

Anyway, this girl is guarded by 6 goblins who can’t damage me. She gives Takeru a password to reach the next floor, where there’s another captured girl.

She joins the party; you can have one other person with you (this is an addition in the PCE game). She also gives a further password that will let us reach the first of the Dragon Knights, on the first floor.

At level 7, the boss could barely hurt me but had a large HP pool. I just healed once and it was no problem. Takeru then recovers the first of the gems.

We’re now ready to tackle level 2. But even at level 8, the enemies here were so strong that I could barely survive one battle. It seems like the balance continues from the way it worked on the first floor, and I would probably have to do some more grinding on level 1 before I could proceed. But I thought that was a good place to stop.

On the whole this is not a terrible game as long as you’re wiling to put up with the 1989 balance issues. The floors have a bit more interest than some of the empty dungeons from this era. The conversation scenes are all voiced, with some amusing dialogue. The creep factor of the tied-up women is hard to ignore, though.

That’s the last game in the first block of 1995, so in a few days I’ll have a post with the lineup of games for the next three months.

Happy new year!

SFC Game 75 – Esparks

Esparks (エスパークス・異時空からの来訪者)Released 3/31/1995, developed by Tomy

Merry Christmas!

This game is based on characters that originated on kids’ notebooks and other stationery, produced by the San-X company. Apparently the storylines were done in manga distributed with the stationery but I’m not clear on the details. There were 9 storylines, and this action RPG is based on the 7th and 8th stories. It was apparently intended to come out in 1993 but was delayed to 1995; despite this the game is very light on content, and it seems that even with the two year delay it didn’t come out with all the expectations.

The game begins with an unnamed boy at his house in Page Village, celebrating his birthday. His father is coming back from Sandoria Castle, but there are Protorude monsters causing havoc in the area. The boy has an older brother Saggitarius who is a ne’er-do-well. The first part you have to talk to everyone and then talk to Dr. Flipper (it’s hard to tell when you’ve talked to everyone).

Dr. Flipper is inventing time travel machines. Anyway, the father comes back and we celebrate the birthday, including a gift of a pendant from Dad. But an enemy called Barba comes, killing both parents and critically wounding Saggitarius.

Kurisu (who got his name on his birthday) is saved by someone named Key-suke who comes in and drives Barba away. Also then Dr. Flipper uses something called the ESP Seed to save Kurisu’s life, and it turns out that both he and Key-suke are “chosen” by the ESP seed. Key-suke himself came from a different time; he escaped Barba with the help of a friend Esparks who sacrificed himself to save Key-suke. The pendant also transforms Kurisu into a warrior. Now we can buy weapons, items, and ESP (spells) and then head out.

The game is top down action; you swing the sword with A and occasionally get critical hits. There are different types of weapons (bows, spears, swords, axes) that have different ranges and methods of attacking. When you level up you restore HP although the enemies never give much XP. The party members can be given commands by pressing L and R to choose from a set of AI commands.

Kurisu and Key-suke head to Clap Village. On the way I found a “god statue” of a mouse — these are scattered throughout the world but they don’t seem to do much. Occasionally they offer a clue for what to do next, often they just say useless things.

In Clap Village, the mayor tells us that we are the chosen ones to save this time and that there are three more ESP Seed chosen ones we need to find to drive off the Protorude.

Barba seems to be in the Eicha Cave to the E of Clap, so we go there and find him — before that, a mysterious “white knight” tells Kurisu to awaken his power; it turns out that Esparks gives Kurisu his power, including the magic of Soul Blade. Barba is at the end of the cave; I beat him at level 9.

Now we have to go all the way back to Page Village, through several caves and overworld areas. This introduces by far the worst aspect of this game — there are very few locations in the game, and you have to visit all of them over and over again, including a large amount of backtracking. Even the final boss is just in a location that you’ve already visited three times before (and fought three bosses in the same room).

Back at Page Village, we use the time machine to go back and try to save Kurisu’s parents. Unfortunately we go back too far, back to Key-suke’s time. Dr. Sashi, who we meet in the past, has a son that has gone to the desert, so that’s our next destination.

Unfortunately this requires going all the way through Tekken Cave, to Clap Village, through Eicha Cave, and then out to the Furui Fortress, where we fight the next set of bosses. Then you have to walk all the way back to Page Village through those locations. It turns out Sashi can repair the Time Machine to send us back to the present, but he needs an item that will only be found in Rich Village. Back to Tekken Cave where we blow up a rock, leading to a new area.

Rich Village has a junk dealer that can supply the item, but all his goods were stolen by Gobi, who is in the Tomtom Cave.

All the way back to Page Village, where Dr. Sashi is able to send us back to the present, slightly before the parents die. Now the brother Saggitarius joins (he’s the next of the ESP Seed Heroes). Now it’s back through Tekken cave, Clap Village, Eicha Cave, back through Furui Fortress again, through Furui to Sandria Castle. Here we see the origin of Barba’s arrival in the present time, but we’re too late — he heads back to Page and kills the parents before we can intervene. So we get to walk all the way back: Furui->Eicha->Clap->Tekken->Page Village. Back to the original present time, and we hear about disappearances in Rich Village.

There we meet the fourth ESP Seed warrior, Shira, and fight Barba yet again in the Tomtom Cave (he ate the villagers). Then it’s Tomtom->Rich->Tekken->Page->Tekken->Clap Village, where the elder tells us we have one more companion to get. He’s in Furui Ruins, so Eicha->Furui to fight the boss Prudence. This has to be done with Kurisu only, but he’s not too bad.

The items are fairly cheap so you can load your inventory with them — for some reason you can’t figure out how many of each item you have (you also don’t see damage for attacks, another interface issue).

Prudence tells Kurisu that his real father was Bariscros, a hero who fought with Prudence, Kurisu’s adopted father, and another warrior against the Protorude. Presence joins and tries to teleport us home but fails, and we get sent to Haga-chan island. There are pirates there, but they’re so weak and spineless that all we have to do is guess a correct barrel and they hand over the pirate ship. At this point you have visited all the locations in the game.

Finally with the ship we don’t have to do all the tedious backtracking anymore through so many areas. Back in Page Village we learn that people are getting sick mysteriously, and we head to Sandria Castle to see what’s going on — there we fight Troma and Guilty, other A-Rank Protorude. Guilty says something about trying to ease the suffering of the Protorude but there’s never any more dialogue about this.

Back at Page Village, Dr. Flipper tells us that the sickness is actually caused by miniature Protorude that are in everyone’s blood. At that moment Guilty reappears (he can revive himself endlessly) and sends Kurisu to the future (where the Protorude have taken over) and scatters the companions.

Shira can be found in Tomtom Cave, where she’s fighting Gobi. After another boss fight, we manage to get back to the present, where Dr. Flipper tells us that Guilty is in Future Sandoria Castle, and gives us a treasure box key. The time machine is also fixed so we can freely transport times. Now there are several things to do:

  • Find the companions (in various times and places)
  • Get the ultimate equipment (from locked chests)
  • Get an upgraded pirate ship from the future that can time travel

Once all this has been done, it’s time to go to Sandoria. Guilty is there again, but even defeating him he will just get stronger again. Fortunately Dr. Flipper has figured out a chemical that can destroy the cells.

Back to Sandoria yet again, where Barba has appeared and absorbed the Guilty cells to change into a final boss form. I used a ton of items but in the end I did defeat him at level 29. Now in the ending everyone goes back to their places, and Kurisu goes off with Key-suke on new adventures (we never did save the parents).

This game is not really worth playing. As I said, by far the worst aspect is the extremely small amount of content — there are only 4 small dungeons that are used over and over again, and the amount of backtracking is the most I’ve seen in any game. Despite that it’s still a pretty short game. The story is nothing special, and the interface has a lot of frustrating features. The game had a lot of potential, but I guess they should have delayed it a few more years.

SRPG Game 63 – Arc the Lad II (Final)

In the last post I had cleared the “god tower”, now it’s time to go to Palencia Tower where we’re hoping to deal with Andel. Unfortunately he’s basically using this tower as a trap and he’s already moved on. Instead we fight Tosh’s dad, who has been resurrected as a zombie.

You have to fight him with Tosh alone — I had been using Tosh frequently so this wasn’t too bad, but I wonder how this would be if Tosh was severely underleveled. Probably not too bad because Tosh can just use his range move to avoid counterattacks (and dodging) and heal as necessary.

Now there is a long sequence where someone (I chose Arc) has to go back in time to charge up Kukuru’s spirit mirror with the spirit energy — we can’t do it in the present because they’re already weakened too much. In the past Arc teams up with past Kukuru to do this.

Fortunately the fights are easy (especially with Arc’s Total Healing and Weak Enemy). Kukuru goes down easily for the most part, but Arc can beat all the fights by himself.

Back in the present, we know that the main brainwashing towers are the south and north pole, so we have to create two separate parties to take on the towers at the same time. They switch back and forth when each team hits an orb. I made sure to have Fujin and Raijin split between the teams, and to have Poco (healer) on the opposite team from Arc — other than that I believe I used Shu, Tosh, the loincloth fighter guy, and then a few other characters who weren’t as useful.

At the end we finally take on Andel, after two games of chasing him around. He’s really not very difficult — Weak Enemy doesn’t work on him, but Raijin’s spells do enough damage that just a few hits from that takes him down, and the enemies that he comes with can be neutralized with Weak Enemy.

Now it’s time to take on Romalia. First we have to go through the city proper and lower a number of defensive barriers. This is where I really thought the difficulty level jumped — the enemies are now level 98-103 and my guys were in the upper 60s or low 70s (the best characters at least). Physical attacks could not be relied on at all.

Once we reach Romalia Castle, it’s the last chance to do any optional stuff, and then we take on the final dungeon — Romalia Castle takes off into the sky and we have to ram into it with the Silver Noah to gain access.

There’s yet another big jump in enemy levels here, with the enemies being as high as level 120 here. There are healing spots you can access but it takes some backtracking. There is an interest area where you have to take 6 characters into doors and fight some enemy from their past; this is a nice set of scenes near the end to develop the characters once more.

The last of the four generals, Zalbard, has 2496 HP; quite a jump from all the previous enemies. Buffs are important here, as are debuffing the non-boss units. Magic Shield helps block against all the magic, but this is a tough fight.

Now it’s onto the final boss — this fight is a frequent target of criticism in the game. It starts with a pretty easy fight where Kukuru takes on the boss by herself, but they balanced it so that even a totally unused Kukuru will win. The same cannot be said about the 2nd and 3rd fights. The next form of the boss has 4152 HP, and the last form 9999 HP. This is a pretty absurd difficulty jump, and in addition to that he has a very narrow attack window so only two people (one with range 2) can hit him at a time. I will admit that after losing once, I used a cheat code to level my guys to level 1000 — he’s quite easy if you do that! (I’ve seen people say the fight lasts 2-3 hours if you do it legitimately)

So I did not beat the game legitimately, although I’m not particularly bothered by that — I would not have had the interest to develop my characters enough to win (I found someone on GameFAQs who filled their inventory with Evil Axes and threw them at the boss to win, but I’m not sure what their levels were).

The final scene is pretty surprising, and I suppose matches with the generally grim and dark tone of the game.

As you can tell from my posts, I did not enjoy this game very much — to me it was long, tedious, and unbalanced. I’m not alone in this opinion (any time I have a negative opinion about a well known game, I always check around to see if I’m an outlier).

However, I think that your enjoyment of this game will come down to how much you like the system. If the battle system really clicks with you, this will be a great game. There’s a huge amount of content — the main story itself is in the 40-50 hour range, and between the jobs, the sealed ruins, the ancient ruins, the arenas, and other things, a complete playthrough could probably reach the 100 hour mark.

The presentation of the game is also good overall. The story is entertaining, and despite the large cast they manage to have opportunities for most of them to get some screen time (a few of the ATL1 returnees are a bit marginalized). The graphics are good; I always prefer sprites to polygons in the PSX/Saturn era. The music is excellent.

I wonder what the difficulty progression/balance is like if you do no grinding per se, but do every optional job/dungeon/event whenever it opens. Perhaps the designers were expecting you to play the game this way?

Next up will be Riglord Saga 2, a sequel to my game of the year for 1995. If you only followed my SRPG blog before, I play two SFC/PCE games for every one SRPG game, so it will be a few weeks before RS2. If you only want to follow my SRPG posts, this link will allow you to do just that. Otherwise, next week will be an action RPG for the Super Famicom called Esparks.

SRPG Game 63 – Arc the Lad II (Part 2)

I closed the first post by saying that the story was good but the gameplay was disappointing — the more I play the more it solidifies my opinion there. I would even go further than “disappointing” and say the system/battles are bad.

One big mistake I made was carrying over the data from Arc the Lad 1. From what I can tell, it only does two things. First, if you did the lengthy optional quest to get Choko in part 1, you’ll be able to do another lengthy optional quest in 2. Second, it carries over the levels of your party members. This is a bad thing unless you did a lot of the extra stuff in the first game and levelled up your members a lot.

By far the worst part of the game’s mechanics are the block/dodge effects. The chance for an enemy to block or dodge your attack is based directly on the difference in levels between the attacker and the defender. It is not affected by any stats, or whether the attack was from behind or the side. This aspect of the system has a huge effect on the game and is one of the worst single decisions I’ve seen in an SRPG. It means that it’s quite difficult to use a lower leveled character, because the chance of their attack not working is high and the counterattack will do a lot of damage. (This also means that characters who can attack from a space away are much more useful, if underlevelled.)

Even if you do have a good party that is levelling up, there are many parts of the game where the enemies suddenly take a 20 or so level jump, meaning that even your good characters will have problems with missing and blocking. Now, it’s not that this makes the game exceptionally difficult (at least up to the point I’ve reached), it’s more that it makes it annoying and tedious, and encourages the use of a few powerful characters rather than making full use of your team.

The first place this really affected me was the White House area that I was in the middle of when I made the last post. I think the intention is for this place to be cool because all the characters return from AtL1 and team up with various people from the new party. But if all your AtL1 characters are low leveled, it makes the battles quite frustrating. From what I understand, if you do not carry over data the AtL1 characters start at pretty high levels.

Another problem is the limit on inventory space. It may seem like the 96 spaces are a lot, but there are a ton of different types of items in the game, and many different kinds of weapons and armor. Some you want to save because they can be used in the Combine Shop to make new ones. But I was constantly running into the item limit.

Anyway, let’s get back to the game flow. After a long series of events that I mentioned above, where you use all the different characters in groups of 2-3, everyone meets up at the Chimera Research Lab to take down the first of the four enemy generals, Gallarno.

He is a rather strange enemy because you have to cut away these skin areas before you can actually get to him. I used Gogen to blast everyone with large scale spells. Arc is very useful because he has a statue that restores some of his MP each turn — if this did come from the carryover then that’s one good reason to do it. Arc has Total Healing (which heals status effects and HP), and Weak Enemy, two very useful spells that the MP regen makes it much easier to use. I included him in my party from here on out whenever I was allowed to. Poco’s purpose is to heal and increase attack. Tosh attacks. I think Lieze is required.

After Gallarno is defeated, we have a brief set of scenes involving Iga (the martial arts guy from the first game), and then you can use the Silver Noah to go anywhere in the world. This opens up a lot of new content — you can do a ton of the guild jobs and wanted monsters. You can start exploring the Sealed Ruins which have power units for a robot character (another inventory issue, though). You can even do the Ancient Ruins, as well as go to Mother Claire’s place to work with your monsters.

I did a lot of the guild jobs before moving on, and got Raijin and Fujin. These characters are extremely useful; their spells do huge damage and they have a combo attack. For the rest of the game, I always included one of the two (whichever one was lower level) in any party I was allowed to.

Now it’s off to Brakia, where there’s a long mining dungeon with various trolleys you take through the place. At least here you can use a 5 person party and choose freely.

After that, Gia Temple. The main goal now seems to be to destroy the various brainwashing devices that Anderl is using around the world. This one is guarded by just a random mook who isn’t very strong. Then it’s off to Millmana island, where the Oil Rig we have to go to is guarded by a train with an antiaircraft gun. So take that down first.

The train requires you to split into two groups; putting Fujin in one and Raijin in the other helps a lot. After that it’s the Deep Sea Oli Rig. I found this dungeon annoying; the maps are very small, so you get stuck a lot. The enemies are way above me in levels so they’re always faster and can move first, which means they get a lot of free attacks.

At the end of this section we finally take out Yagun (who was in the first game) — it turns out he was actually the monkey, not the guy sitting there. Next up is a pyramid, where another brainwashing machine awaits. First we have to get a tribesman to open up the pyramid; he wants to ally with the enemies to save his mom, but of course they already killed his mom a long time ago (there’s quite a bit of grisly stuff in this game).

The pyramid itself is short and easy because you can avoid most battles by answering Sphinx questions correctly.

Then it’s off to the “God Tower”, where ancient machines await to attack us. These bumbling comic relief characters follow us and mess things up, but then help us at the end against the boss.

So that’s where I am at this point; it seems like I’m at about the 80% point so I should have the game beaten in the next few days.