Author Archives: kurisu

SRPG Game 86 – Ryuki Densho Dragoon (PS1) Part 2

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.

Now time to go take a nap.

SRPG Game 86 – Ryuki Densho Dragoon (PS1) Part 1

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.

SFC Game 108 – Super Mario RPG

Super Mario RPG (スーパーマリオアールピージー), released 3/9/1996, developed by Square and Nintendo

This is the best known of the RPGs on my remaining list, partly because it came out in English — if you look at the list of Super Famicom RPGs, by the end of 1994 they had basically stopped localizing RPGs for the system. From 1995 to the end of the system there were only four RPGs localized: Lufia 2, Chrono Trigger, Terranigma (only in Europe), and Super Mario RPG. This is out of nearly 100 RPGs released for the system in Japan.

Also by sheer coincidence, Nintendo just announced a remake this week for the Switch.

The idea behind this game was apparently to create an RPG that would be popular in the US as well, since JRPGs were generally regarded as a dead genre in the US that nobody cared about. This changed (or at least began to change) with Pokemon and Final Fantasy VII, but the idea that a Japanese publisher would care about Western reception of their JRPG was unusual at the time. Of course the game was popular and did well enough that it spawned a whole series of Mario based RPGs (Paper Mario and Mario&Luigi RPG), with the newest Paper Mario game released in 2020.

My younger brother actually owned this game when it came out, but for some reason I had basically abandoned console RPGs and was focused entirely on computer RPGs like Might and Magic, the AD&D Gold Box series, and such. It wasn’t until around 2003 that I got a PS2 and got back into JRPGs. So I didn’t play this game at all until now.

The graphics are a 3/4 isometric view. The game begins with Mario rescuing the princess from Bowser (“Koopa” in Japanese). The princess has always been called Peach in Japanese but her name was still Princess Toadstool in English at this point — SM64, released later in 1996, was when her name officially became Peach in the English version as well.

After this initial homage to the series, the actual storyline starts when a huge sword comes down into Bowser’s castle.

Mario is ejected from the castle and can’t find Peach. He lands near Toad, who goes off to inform the Mushroom Palace of what happened to Peach, and Mario follows.

The battles in this game are all symbol encounters, not random. They are essentially standard RPG fare except that you can try to just frame button pushes on attacks and defense for more damage, and the special moves often have things you have to do (like rapidly press the button, or hold it down, etc.) Mario’s Jump move has a special thing where each 2 uses of it increases its power by one, so if you keep using the Jump throughout the game it can be quite powerful even at the end.

Special moves consume FP (Flower Points), which are shared among everyone. You can find items and blocks that will increase your max FP, and FP restore items are pretty cheap.

The maps have a lot of platforms, moving things, and such in them — for me this was the weakest part of the game. The isometric view often makes it hard to do the jumps, and I just didn’t think it was well suited to the game. But I suppose it did distinguish it from a normal RPG and fit in better with the Mario theme. There are also a number of hidden blocks (as in classic mario games) but I didn’t find most of them.

Mario soon learns that the sword in the castle is from Kajio, the bad guy who is mass producing a bunch of robots and other machines. Kajio has broken the Star Road into seven stars, and without the Star Road, people’s wishes cannot be fulfilled. So the goal of the whole game is to recover all seven stars and rebuild the star road. There are a number of people that join you as companions:

  • Mallow, a marshmallow-like thing that was raised by frogs
  • Geno, one of the star road beings (fairies?) who inhabits a children’s doll
  • Princess Peach
  • Bowser (who wants his castle back!)

You can only use 3 at a time. My usual team was Mario, Peach, and then one of the other three depending on what I felt like at the time. Peach has strong healing moves that are very helpful. Each person has three equip slots — weapon, armor, and accessory. Money are the classic Mario coins, of course.

When you level up, you gain stats and then can pick to gain additional stats in either physical, magic, or HP. Each level gives better bonuses for one of them, so check all the options before choosing.

The plot is pretty weird and has a lot of gags more than anything serious. But some of the parts are pretty funny.

There are a large number of minigames; some of them are entirely optional, and others are required although typically you don’t have to do especially well at them to move on in the game.

I was enjoying the game reasonably well until the last two dungeons. I felt that here the isometric jumping stuff got way too annoying (I used save states for the part above, which only gives you 10 falls to clear a whole bunch of rooms in a row) and I was glad to finally finish the game.

While this game was overall enjoying I think it does show its age, and I definitely did not like the last two dungeons (which is a shame because it finishes the game with a bad impression). I’m hoping that the Switch remake will touch this up a bit. But it is nice to see developers at least trying something new. Too often these mixes of IPs generate weird or bad games, but Nintendo was able to pair with Square rather than some random people making it, and I think that ensured some level of quality.

Finally, the music is quite good as well. I was already familiar with “beware the forest mushrooms” and the boss theme but overall the music is a strong part of the game.

I imagine many retro players who do SNES games have already played this, but if you haven’t (or if you have), give the remake a try when it comes out!

SFC Game 107 – Front Mission Gun Hazard

Front Mission Series Gun Hazard (フロントミッションシリーズ ガンハザード), released 2/23/1996, developed by Omiya Soft and published by Square

This was the second game released under the Front Mission title. It’s not really an RPG, it’s more of a side-scrolling action shooter with some RPG-derived elements. But it’s a fun game so I played it to the end.

The game takes place in an alternate timeline from the rest of the games. In this world, the entire world had come together to build a space elevator to make it easier to launch ships, but it was never finished because the countries of the world started fighting each other.

The main character, Albert, is part of the military of the republic of Belgen. At the beginning of the game, the republic’s military is taken over by Ark, who leads a coup d’etat against the prime minister. The first episode of the game involves Albert trying to protect the prime minister from the coup.

In most stages you just move from left to right and shoot everything. There are also base stages where you have to explore around in a base, and sometimes the side scrolling stages will have underwater sections or the like. New enemies will appear as you kill the existing ones, although there is (I think on every stage) a limit to how many new enemies can come out. If you look at the top right of the screen, when that part with ENE turns beige, that means no more enemies will appear.

After each stage, Albert will get money and XP. As he levels up, the HP of his Wanzer increases, and he is able to use new weapons (although you also have to find a shop that sells them). You can upgrade the wanzer with body, vernier (to fly), shield, and dash units. In addition to that, you can equip one of four main weapons, and a certain number of subweapons depending on the Wanzer body.

There is an overworld map of the entire world, and then in each place there are a number of areas. Some areas just have enemies to fight, others advance the story. You can often repeat areas as many times as you want, so it’s pretty easy to level up and buy everything. I mostly used the Shotgun weapon and the Knuckle as the subweapon, although the healing field and the armor plate are useful as well. (The Spark Gun is pretty good also, especially for certain fights — it locks on to an enemy and does damage as long as you hold it down).

Fortunately there is a map you can check, that shows where the enemies (and loot boxes) are.

Because you can level up easily and buy a lot of repair items to use, the game as a whole is pretty easy. There are a few bosses where you need to learn the attack pattern to survive enough to kill it, but for probably 80% of the game you can just hold down the attack button and jump around, and use your shield to block the projectiles if needed. I’m not great at action games but even I didn’t have much trouble.

You can also get out of your Wanzer and fight on foot (with hand grenades and a gun); the advantage of that is that you can duck and avoid all damage, but generally it’s not something you want to do unless you have to.

Finally you can have companions for the battle but I didn’t find this very useful. The ones that actually appear in mechs get killed too easily and then you have to pay money to get them new stuff, and the game just isn’t hard enough to where I thought it was worth bothering.

At the end of the first episode, Albert is branded a traitor and has to flee Belgen; he goes with a woman named Brenda Lockhart to the US where he becomes a mercenary. The next few episodes are seemingly unconnected stories where he goes to various areas to deal with unstable situations. Slowly though, Albert hears about an organization called The Society that seems to be behind what is going on, and eventually he decides (for various reasons) to try to find out who they are and stop them.

The music is quite good, as you might expect from that composer list. The graphics are pretty good as well.

Overall, although it’s not an RPG, I did enjoy it — there is a fan translation so I would definitely recommend giving it a shot.

SRPG Game 85 – Shining Force III Scenario 1 Chapters 5-6

Early in chapter 5 we do this “tower” map; it reminds me of the tower map in SF2 although it wasn’t quite as hard because there weren’t as many spellcasters. This map also has a thief map with a hidden character in it; if you escape you can’t get him (he’s mostly helpful because of a sleep spell).

The next battle vs. Golem is interesting; once you get in the main corridor you have to take repeated multi-hit attacks from the Golem, although the enemies will get hurt as well. But once I got my guys up there with the help of some healing, he went down pretty easily. The last battle vs. the Queen Worm isn’t so bad since she can also be rushed fairly easily — the little worms’ poison attacks can be somewhat rough.

Chapter 6 is the final assault on Aspia. The first couple of battles aren’t too bad.

This was a tricky battle. Spiriel will join in scenario 3 if you don’t kill her here, but she hits hard so I used Hagane to put her to sleep. The final enemy group is rough because you only have this short plank bridge to cross and it’s easy for the enemies to block your access where you can get killed by Basanda’s spells. I just had to be cautious and not move everyone too far forward at once, although Hagane was running out of MP for the sleep spells as well… (This map also has a thief’s map if that weren’t bad enough, but I forgot to bring the map item and didn’t think the reward was worth it)

After this, you can do the “Hero’s Test” optional series of maps. I didn’t complete them, but the endless enemies are really good for levelling up the force before the final battle. I’m not sure if they give more XP than normal enemies or if it just seemed like that, but just an hour or so in the maps gained 5-7 levels for each guy.

The final battle is in two parts. The first part you have to split your force into two. Synbios’ half of the force takes on these enemies in the bridge. It begins difficult but if you can move everyone to the left and take out the mages it becomes easier, even when the Colossus comes out.

In the other map you have to beat a Giga Knight guarding the dam wheel. I will admit I used a rather cheap strategy here; you just fly the winged guy up to the boss with a Rapier equipped and reset until you get a critical hit on Danse Macabre which kills him instantly. If you don’t do this you’ll need a decently powerful second group that can get up there as quickly as possible and take him out.

The final part of the battle is significantly easier; the enemies do not regenerate so you can take them out and then focus on the boss himself. Even though he gets two turns and only one person at a time can attack directly from the front, as long as you didn’t lose too many people in the first part it’s not that difficult.

Then Part 1 ends with a big cliffhanger that won’t be resolved until part 3 (since part 2 takes place at the same time). The English version is different, evidently because they already knew they wouldn’t be releasing parts 2 and 3. It doesn’t fundamentally change what happens but it softens the cliffhanger and provides a bit more resolution; it makes it seem more like setting up for a potential sequel that isn’t necessary, rather than a direct lead-in to part 3.

I would say that I enjoyed this more than SF2 or 1. We’ll see if I keep the positive impression over the next two parts (which are both 1998 games).

SRPG Game 85 – Shining Force III Scenario 1 Chapters 1-4 (Sat)

Shining Force III Scenario 1 (シャイニング・フォースIII), released 12/11/1997, developed by Camelot, published by Sega

As the copyright logo above indicates, the first two Shining Force games came out in 1992 and 1993, then the next one did not come out until 1997. In this period there were four games in the Shining series released — the CD compilation of the game gear games, and Final Conflict for the Game Gear. There were also two games released for the Saturn (an action RPG and a dungeon crawling RPG).

Finally, the third main Force game came out. It was planned in three scenarios which were fortunately all released, although only the first one came out with an official English release. The first two scenarios take place at the same time with different parties, and the third one forms a conclusion to the story. There are certain parts in the game where you can do things that will affect the other scenarios if you carry over save data (called the “Synchronicity System”), although it mostly seems to be a few optional characters and small changes to battles rather than any sort of major story difference.

The system as a whole is almost entirely the same as the previous games. The graphics were redone in 3D; while apparently some people were put off by the quality, they are definitely not the worst I’ve seen from this era. The interface is pretty much the same, and I still think the item management is annoying. Especially when you kill a monster and can’t carry the item without dropping something because you are already carrying 4; that seems like something that shouldn’t be in a 1997 game.

Almost everything else is the same as SF1 and 2 — the classes, promotion (at level 10 in this case), Return spell for the main character, cheap revive in the churches, status effects, spells, etc. They added a few new things, though. The first are special attacks that you can learn by using a type of weapon repeatedly. I don’t find these change the strategy very much because they activate randomly. There’s a FE-like weapon triangle system. There is also a friendship/support system which grants bonuses to people adjacent, shown by the shields and swords here:

But despite those changes it feels more or less exactly like SF1 and 2. Because it’s 3D there are some height differences but from what I can tell they don’t affect damage/hit at all.

As I did with the last SF post I’m only going to mention battles that have something beyond just moving forward and using basic tactics. Wikipedia has a good overview of the plot which I will copy:

Scenario 1 features Synbios, a young lord from the Republic of Aspinia. Aspinia was once a part of the Empire of Destonia, but seceded after a war of independence spearheaded by some of the more democratic-minded nobles. They opposed Emperor Domaric’s totalitarian policies, which disenfranchised a large number of people, creating a huge disparity between the wealthy and the poor. Tensions remained between Aspinia and Destonia after the secession, marked by occasional border disputes.

As the game begins, Synbios is part of a military force representing Aspinia at a peace conference in the neutral city of Saraband. Due to manipulation by outside forces – later discovered to be connected with a religious cult known as the “Bulzome Sect” – full-scale war breaks out again between Aspinia and Destonia. The majority of the game’s storyline covers this conflict as well as Synbios and his team’s fight against the Bulzome sect.

The beginning of the game seemed more difficult than the previous SFs, although as with those games you can always escape from the fight and try again. In Stage 2 you need to rush forward if you want to get some optional characters, but this leaves your force exposed to attacks from the front and back.

Stage 5 has the first “thief map” which I don’t seem to have gotten a screenshot of. In towns you can find some maps that will allow you to enter ruins on the next stage. When you do so, a thief (or thieves) will go in and try to get the treasures ahead of you. Sometimes there are additional monsters in the ruins as well. Only the enemy thieves can open the main chests in the ruins, and so you have to let them take the items and then hit them which will force them to drop them. But the thieves, after getting the chests, will try to leave the map and if they do the ruins are destroyed and you can’t try again. You have to enter the ruins with as many non-Synbios characters as you want, but they’ll be off the main map for the time being. The one on stage 5 has the very useful Life Ring, which regenerates HP every turn. I gave this to Synbios.

There’s a slight steampunk vibe to the game with steam trains, but so far that seems to be about the only visible tech other than one optional character who is in a little steam robot-type thing.

Stage 7 is not so hard to clear, but you need to try to save a bunch of refugees with trains coming in to block your progress.

You can hit a lever to make the train go somewhere better, but even then this is tough — I’m not entirely sure how I got the refugees away; there was one turn where the enemies could have reached them and attacked but for some reason they didn’t.

Stage 12 in chapter 3 pits you against a strong sorcerer in a haunted mansion with a lot of hidden enemies — I had to escape this battle twice to win.

There is, as usual, a suspension bridge fight — I think they are being a bit cheeky by making one of the enemies want to drop the bridge but then another enemy kills him to prevent it.

The joke (Jogurt) character for this game is pen, a little chicken:

Apparently if you train him up he can be decent, but it’s a lot of work to do so.

Overall this is a decent game and I think it’s probably my favorite of the SFs so far although they’re all pretty similar. I should be done with the game next week (I’m already on the final chapter).

Now bear my arctic blast!

SFC Game 106 – Bakumatsu Kourinden ONI

Bakumatsu Kourinden ONI (幕末降臨伝ONI), released on 2/2/1996, developed by Pandora Box and Winkysoft, published by Banpresto

This is the seventh game in the ONI series and the second one for the Super Famicom. I played the first one (Kijin Kourinden ONI) earlier. The first one took place in the Kamakura period (14th century) whereas this one takes place in the Bakumatsu period, which is the transition from the Edo to Meiji periods (mid-18th century). Despite this change, it’s rather unfortunate that the Japan part of the game doesn’t really feel any different. The towns and even Kyoto/Edo that you visit don’t feel particularly Edo- or Bakumatsu, they’re kind of generic towns that you might have found in the first game. There should be Westerners in Japan, people talking about the cultural changes and such, but you don’t really see that until later in the game.

The story opens with the “Shadow Shinsengumi” — the Shinsengumi were a historical group of samurai associated with the shogunate that is well known through pop culture representations. The “Shadow Shinsengumi” is a fictional part of this organization dedicated to dealing with spirits, demons, and other creatures of that nature. (The text is written vertically; I don’t think I’ve seen an RPG before this that does that.) They’re driving out some yokai that were disguised as humans.

The main character is Yamatomaru, whose father was a yokai hunter but was killed by a strong enemy. At the beginning of the game he goes to a nearby mountain to drive out some spirits. Later more spirits attack his town (Iidamachi) but he is saved by a warrior Jurota. They go to the capital to find out why the yokai attacks are increasing all over Japan, and end up joining the Shadow Shinsengumi.

The graphics are quite nice; good late-SFC quality.

The game system is similar to the previous title, with some changes. They switched to a normal XP/level system. This game also has the NPCs, kami (gods), and 5 Heavenly Swords from the first game but the implementation is a bit different:

  • There are NPCs that randomly do stuff in battle; this time you can get as many as you want although only 8 can be in your active roster at once.
  • The kami still give you spells, although not all of them are associated with a particular character anymore. In addition, some characters will also learn spells naturally through levelling.
  • The game kept the “monster” transformations from the 5 heavenly swords. However, in addition to that you now equip the swords and they level up. You learn sword techniques that use the power represented by the green number in the shot above, and that regenerates 1 point per step. If you have a sword equipped you only earn 1/2 XP for the person (but full for the sword). Basically when you get these swords you never really equip another weapon again with one or two exceptions.

The NPCs and kami still require a lot of backtracking and talking to random people at certain times without much in the way of clues.

The plot is rather static for the first 2/3 or so of the game. The main characters are given the task of figuring out where all the yokai are coming from. We are soon joined by Natsume and her brother, two survivors of a clan who can control spirit forces. It turns out that the yokai are coming from out-of-control Spirit Holes, and we decided to seal all the ones we can find in Japan. However, although behind the scenes we see that the Shogun wants the power for himself, and that a foreigner named Risshu is manipulating some of the military in the shadows, also wanting the Spirit Holes for themselves.

At each Spirit Hole we get a new Heavenly Sword and see a flashback involving the characters from Kijin Kourinden ONI; it turns out in the end that they put their own spirits into the Swords so that they could protect the Spirit Holes.

Eventually we deal with all the Spirit Holes in Japan, although in doing so we make an enemy of the Shogun, who is tired of us sealing all the holes, and declares us traitors. We also face off personally against Risshu, and defeat him. The heroes then decide that they need to get away from Japan, and head to the United States, taking along a native American woman who was in Japan — she tells us that there are “Guardians” (like the kami) in the US and some spirit holes there as well.

This leads to a weird section of the game where you have to make it across the ocean in a boat. You buy cannonballs and torpedoes, and can also level the ship up. You also sometimes have to fight regular enemies as well. This part is annoying and slow because you need to be pretty strong to deal with all the enemies you have to beat to reach America, but to get that strong there’s really no option aside from just a bunch of grinding. Or, you can use items that eliminate random encounters, which is what I did…this would bite me in the ass later but for now it seemed like a good idea.

There is no explanation for how you deal with the language barrier, but in any case the white people in the US pretty much scorn you (except they’re willing to sell you things), and the Native Americans are a lot more receptive.

In America we find out that Risshu was some kind of cybernetic creation of three scientists — Alva, Tesla, and Reich (I’m not sure exactly who ライッヒ is supposed to be), who have depleted the Spirit Holes in the US and want to use the ones in Japan to continue their scientific researches and eventual world takeover. Natsume’s brother eventually has to sacrifice himself to defeat one of the scientists’ creations, and after his death, Squanto joins the party as the 4th member. After this, the scientists head to Japan and we need to chase them back there.

This is where my earlier actions were fatal because there’s no way to buy the no-encounter items, and as far as I know there is no way to upgrade your ship in America. Maybe there was some other way to get out of the situation but after about 10 game overs I just turned on a no-encounter cheat code to get back to Japan. So if you want to play this legitimately you will need either 4 no-encounter items total, or you need to have a boat strong enough to reach America without using them.

In Japan, we have been branded traitors so can’t access any resources anywhere in the land (if you stay at an Inn, you get attacked by Shinsengumi). So for allies we have to call on the ancient Ihika (the name comes from one of the ancient kami of Japan). Their clan once tried to control and wield the powers of the Spirit Holes for themselves, but their civilization was destroyed. Hopefully the same will not happen to humans.

Next up is a large tower with a lot of created spirits in it; I think the scientists were able to make this with the power of the Spirit Hole but it seems pretty fast. In any case the goal here is to shut the tower down so that the power can’t be used anymore.

After this, the scientists use the power on themselves to make themselves spirits, heading to the final Spirit Hole in Hokkaido.

You have to beat all three scientists, followed by Risshu who is back and fuses himself with the Spirit Hole to make a huge monster.

The final boss was a huge step up in difficulty and I had to do some grinding just to be able to survive his attacks. It helps if Natsume can use her “sacrifice” move to kill the left hand and then you can kill the right hand quickly with strong attacks. It’s still not an easy fight because the head can only be hurt by the transformed attacks and he has a move that puts everyone back in their regular forms.

After the fight, the main characters have to sacrifice themselves the seal the Spirit Hole.

Although later, Sakamoto Ryouma (one of the few historical figures in the game) gets a message that the heroes actually did survive and set out for a new land in their ship, but were never heard from again.

Overall this is a decent game; it’s perfectly playable and has nothing egregiously bad in it. The story is serviceable, and there’s a decent amount of side content (although some of it seems basically impossible without a guide). Ultimately it doesn’t rise to the level of the top tier SFC RPGs but it’s worth a play.

SFC Game 105 – Madou Monogatari Hanamaru Preschoolers

Madou Monogatari Hanamaru Preschoolers (魔導物語 はなまる大幼稚園児), released 1/12/1996, developed by Compile

Madou Monogatari is a series that started in 1989 for computers, and was originally a trilogy of short dungeon crawlers starring Arle Nadja, a little girl who was learning magic. The characters are best known for their later appearance in the Puyo Puyo series, but variations of the original games were released through 1996. This game is based on the first game in the original trilogy, where Arle has to find three orbs in the magic tower to graduate kindergarten. I’ll be playing the PC Engine remake of this game near the end of 1996, but this game is an expansion of that story by including Arle’s quest to find eight items she needs to even begin the magic tower quest. Rather than a 3D dungeon, this is a standard JRPG style, although it borrows elements of the system from the earlier games.

By the time this game came out, Puyo Puyo 2 had been released along with the Nazo Puyo games, so this game was attempting to follow in the major success of those titles.

The game uses the same “fuzzy parameters” system as the original; you don’t get any numbers for HP, MP, XP, or the like. Instead, you have to judge Arle’s HP based on her expression and what she says when she gets hit. The above screenshot shows her max HP expression.

Here she’s nearly at 0 hp. After you use a spell she will tell you what her remaining MP are like. XP are the green gems at the sides; when all of them fill up you move up a level. The level is indicated in the status screen by a general description.

Near the beginning of the game she is “weak”.

Near the end she is “Strongest in the preschool”. The flower circles at the right are her speed, defense, and strength.

In battle you don’t attack, you choose a spell instead. They’re all represented by pictures but you can get help to see what they are — they’re all the familiar ones to Puyo Puyo players, along with the voice clips probably taken from that game. While this interface is OK, I think that when it comes to the item usage it becomes annoying. You have to scroll through a lot of screens to get to the item you want and there’s no item stacking so if you want 10-15 healing items of several types it becomes cumbersome to use.

One nice feature of the game is that if you are high enough level compared to the enemies, you can hold down L+R when the encounter is beginning and you will automatically win the fight. I wish more games with random encounters had some feature like this, or at least a way to avoid fights that you can easily win.

Arle learns new spells by reading silver signs that are around the world.

There are also gold signs that can only be read with the help of a dictionary, which you get partway through the game. The top level of all the spells can only be reached through an optional sidequest. Higher level spells can be cast by powering up one level each turn.

The items there on the right are things you can use on the map to help you access new places by jumping, entering small holes, pushing far away switches, and such. I evidently didn’t get any screenshots, but you can also equip a staff and a ring that provide various benefits. The best ring is the one that lets you immediately power up to the maximum in order to use your best levels of the spells.

There’s no real storyline to speak of — Arle’s main opponents are the gang depicted in the picture above, and some devils that periodically control people. But basically you’re just traveling around the small world map and finding the 8 crystals you need to enter the tower for the final quest. It’s a pretty short game and can be completed in roughly 10 hours.

The game is also not especially difficult since you can always run successfully from fights. If you are having trouble with a boss you can level up until the monsters in the area don’t give you much XP, and try different spells to find the weak points of the boss. Healing items are also relatively affordable.

So this is an OK game — nothing too special but perfectly playable and with some enjoyable elements that aren’t in other RPGs. But how are all the other kids supposed to graduate from preschool if it’s this difficult!?

SRPG Game 84 – Galaxy Fraulein Yuna: Final Edition (PS1)

銀河お嬢様伝説ユナ FINAL EDITION – released originally for Saturn 12/4/1997, developed by Hudson and Red Company, published by Hudson

Two Hudson games in a row. The Galaxy Fraulein Yuna franchise is a magical girl series in the Sailor Moon tradition and clearly draws a lot of inspiration from that series in particular. The franchise consists of a number of games, OVA, and other things. The first two video games were for the PC Engine and are basically visual novel-style adventure games with some light RPG elements. The third game, originally for the Saturn, is a strategy RPG. It was rereleased without the “3” in the title for Playstation. The two games look identical; the rerelease apparently added some optional bonus content and some revisions to the characters’ movesets.

The story sequences are fully voiced and take place with a large number of anime-style pictures like the one above. There are also a small number of animated cutscenes although I don’t think they would be more than 4-5 minutes total aside from the theme song opening.

The main character of course is Yuna, the “savior of light”. She has these little fairy robot type things that are alongside her, and then a few main companions Yuli Tulip and Ria, who is the Tuxedo Mask figure called Polilina.

The rest of the characters you control seem mostly to be made up of enemies that Yuna defeated in the first two games — the “13 Girls of Darkness” and the “Erika Seven”. There are a few more characters that I think were in other Yuna properties but I’m not sure.

The game is divided into 5 chapters and 41 maps (although you don’t do all 41 in a single playthrough). At the beginning, robots appear on Earth and someone calling themselves the Empress of the Machine Kingdom appears in the sky, declaring her intent to attack Earth.

The battle system is relatively simple. Turns are speed based. Each character can move and use one action (in either order). You can attack, use an item, defend, or use a special move (that takes EP). Attacking from the back or side does more damage. Having a difference in levels has a big effect on combat effectiveness. Levelling is very fast if you are fighting people above you in levels, and pretty slow if they are equal or lower than you. Throughout the game you can almost always access some area where you can do training fights and choose between three difficulties, so it’s pretty quick and easy to keep your team caught up in levels.

The goal of the battle is usually beat all enemies, but in some cases you have to beat the boss or reach a certain point on the map. However, in each battle you get a rank depending on what percentage of enemies you beat, and what percentage of your allies survived. This has no effect on the game except for some minor dialogue in the ending.

As the girls level, they gain additional special moves, and also their existing moves get upgrades in AoE. A few characters (including Yuna) get “hit all” moves and a few enemies have those as well — it looks to me like these were added in the PS1 version, and they do have a rather unbalancing effect on the gameplay, particularly at the end.

As is usual for magical girl anime, the main boss has a number of underlings — in this case there are the “rokkasen” (six flower fighters), the “shitenki” (four heavenly machines), and the “three machine sisters” who were apparently in a previous Yuna game but are revived by the Empress.

Chapter 1 takes place on Earth, as we try to find what’s going on with this huge device that came down from the heavens.

In Chapter 2 we head out to space, and decide that we need to go find the Empress herself.

In Chapters 3 and 4, Yuna and the team make their way to the Empress’ planet, defeating the underlings along the way. We also learn the backstory of what happened — at one time the Black Empress was a great scientist, and ruled the planet along with the White Empress. But they disagreed on how to use force against their enemies, and eventually the Black Empress became obsessed with power and started attacking other planets and galaxies. The White Empress sealed her away, but the black Empress was somehow able to escape her confinement with the help of some kind of darkness power.

Chapter 5 is the final series of fights on the machine planet. As usual for magical girls, Yuna wants to convince the Empress to stop fighting rather than kill her.

You can also head back to Earth and visit Yuna’s parents house, where they will give you fan letters that contain actual art sent in by fans.

The last set of fights I found fairly easy because you can just use Yuna’s all attack, have Miki use her copy ability to also use it, and have everyone else restore their EP or revive defeated characters. Even the final boss went down to this technique.

All in all I thought this was an enjoyable game. They captured the feel of a magical girl anime pretty well, and the game is smooth to play. It’s pretty easy to train your characters and so you can get by with pretty much any party — I would recommend not letting anyone fall really far behind in levels because there are a few places in the game where you have to use fixed parties or fixed characters.

It’s not the greatest SRPG ever but it gets a solid B rating for me.

Game list Jan-Mar 1996, plus some changes

1995 is done! That had the most games of any year — all that’s left is 1996 and a few 1997 games (plus 1999’s Fire Emblem 5 when I get to it on the SRPG side).

Here’s the first three months of 1996 games.

  • Mado Monogatari: Hanamaru Preschool – This is in the series with Puyo Puyo but I don’t know anything about it.
  • Madara Kindergarten Saga – A rather odd hybrid time game but is doesn’t look like an RPG to me.
  • BS Dynami Tracer! and BS Treasure Conflix – These games are listed as RPGs on some sites; they involved the satellite internet addon for the Super Famicom; not sure if they even count as RPGs but they can’t be fully played in any case.
  • Bakumatsu Korinden – Followup to Kijin Korinden Oni from 1994.
  • Bahamut Lagoon – SRPG, already played
  • Front Mission Gun Hazard – This seems to be an RPG although a bit of an unorthodox one.
  • Super Mario RPG – A classic.
  • Brandish 2 Expert – In English, also I don’t know if it’s fully an RPG
  • Chaos Seed – This is another game that seems questionable as to whether it’s actually an RPG or not, but we’ll see.
  • Masou Kishin Lord of Elemental – SRPG, played
  • Ys V Expert – The 5th Ys game. Not much harder than the original despite the title.

Now, a moderate change in how things are going to go — I want to make a push to finish the Super Famicom games. I have three more SRPGs to finish up 1997. Once I do that, I will have roughly 24 Super Famicom games left. What I think I will do is change the “2 SFC games, 1 SRPG game” sequence and just play as many SFC games as I can until I feel like I need a break, then play SRPG. So it may be 3-5 or even more SFC games per SRPG game.

One I finish the SFC games, I will go back to playing more SRPG games. In addition to that, I would like to take some reader requests, perhaps play some very old games, and also pick games either at random from a large list I’m making, or even do the very shocking thing of just choosing a game I want to play.

Here’s the list I’m making. It’s compiled from two different comprehensive Japanese sites and has gotten rather out of hand. I started it quite a while back when I needed some filler posts for the Super Famicom blog, and I thought it might be fun to play some of the oldest games, so I made a list of the first 100 RPGs. Then I decided I might also want to play some games that were released around the same time as the games I was playing, so I extended it up to 1996. From that point I just kept going — I’ve added to it little by little over the past 4 years or so and as this point it’s complete through 2009 with over two thousand games. I’m going to include everything through the 7th generation of consoles, finishing with the last PS3 game release in 2016. There are probably a lot of mistakes in it but there’s no way I’m checking the entire thing.