Category Archives: PC Engine RPGs

PCE Game 49 – Madou Monogatari I

Madou Monogatari I – Kindergarten Graduate of Fire (魔導物語I 炎の卒園児), released 12/13/1996, developed and released by NEC Avenue

Exactly 6 years ago to the day, I posted the first PC Engine game post after making the (perhaps foolish) decision to do those in addition to Super Famicom. 49 games later I am doing the last one — I didn’t finish many of the PC Engine games but it was interesting to see them all.

This was nearly the last game released for the system — two more PC Engine games came out in 1997 and one even in 1999 (a port/remake of the adventure games Dead of the Brain 1 and 2). It is yet another port or remake of the Madou Monogatari trilogy which had first been released for MSX computers in 1990. This covers only the first game, and thus draws from the same source as the Hanamaru Preschoolers SFC game I played recently. However, whereas that was a standard RPG that greatly expanded on the source material, this preserves the original dungeon-maze crawling. On the other hand, from what I can tell, almost everything was redone — it has different maps, (some) different items and spells, and (some) different monsters.

It’s hard to know why this game was re-released and ported so many times. Maybe after Puyo Puyo became popular they wanted to milk the original source material for all it was worth?

The starting story is the same — Arle Nanja is the only student in the magic kindergarten who has the right to try the tower to graduate. She needs to find the three orbs inside the tower.

The game takes place over about 14 dungeon levels. The maps are fairly small (I think 8×8? Somehow I didn’t get a screenshot of the automap).

As in the previous games, there are no numeric stats at all in the game — you have to gauge your HP by Arle’s expression on the right, and her MP by what she says after she casts a spell. XP fills up the pink ribbons there until you level.

In battles you choose a spell to cast. Enemies seem to have spell weaknesses, and there are the usual “dia cute” (to increase power), sleep, heal, and other things like that. Sometimes the monsters will want to speak to Arle instead and she’ll make friends with them. You can choose not to, but since you have to do a certain amount of friendship to win the game I don’t know why you wouldn’t say yes.

There are items in the game as well, but I could never find a way to see what the items did — I had to track down a kouryaku site which was not easy. There doesn’t seem to be a site specifically for the PC Engine game (or else it was lost in the geocities shutdown) but I was able to cobble together enough info to figure out what most of the items did.

On the third floor you slide around and run into the walls; to get past you have to buy a “wall creator” that you use to put up temporary walls you can stop at. Eventually Arle finds a treasure pile guarded by a lady that initially wants to fight…but then just sends her on a fetch quest which nets the first of the three jewels she needs to graduate.

I don’t remember who this is

The second one is at the top of the tower, held by a ninja who wants three scrolls from the 9th floor. Once Arle gets the second one, she is able to go into the basement of the tower.

Here she has to use a “floor creator” to build several paths to a center area where she uses four tablets gained throughout the tower to access the final jewel. However, there is one more challenge before leaving.

Her friends turn into a big zombie and attack! Fortunately she gets help from the spirits of the jewels.

The final boss is somewhat challenging but I was able to use all the full restore items I had gained throughout the tower. Lightning seemed to work the best.

After defeating the zombie, Arle proves her worth (how can they make a 5 year old do this on her own)

And she gains the admiration of her class.

This game is OK. It’s pretty short and shows itself as being basically one-third of a game that was released in 1990. There’s a translation patch so you can try it yourself, but I feel like they didn’t do enough upgrading of the interface to make it as fun as it could have been.

So that is it for the PC Engine CD! It’s such a weird console — a hybrid of essentially an 8-bit era console which limited the graphics, but with this grafted add-on that allowed CD-quality music and lots of voice work. It seems like most developers just took advantage of the fact that CDs are cheaper to manufacture than carts and made almost no effort to actually use the CD tech. Games like Tengai Makyo and Ys were definitely the exception.

I think my top 5 games (in no order) would be Ys I&II, the first Lodoss war, Seiya Monogatari, Princess Minerva, and the first Xanadu.

I’ll be taking a break over the Christmas and New Year holiday but I expect to finish one more game before then.

PCE Game 48 – Seiya Monogatari (Part 1)

Seiya Monogatari: AnEarth Fantasy Stories (聖夜物語), released 12/22/1995, developed by Mediaworks, published by Hudson

This is my second to last PC Engine game. It was released late in the system’s lifecycle, and was intended to be the first game in a trilogy. Although this game was re-released for the Sega Saturn, no more games were ever made. I had heard this game had a good reputation, and having completed the game I think the reputation is well deserved — I would put it in the top 5 games I’ve played for the SFC/PCE side of this blog.

The title means “Holy Night Story” — I’ve seen it translated as “Christmas Eve Story”; while it’s true that the word 聖夜 does mean “Christmas Eve”, this story has no explicitly Christian content, it’s more evocative of certain Christian ideas. The re-release dropped the “seiya monogatari” part.

The opening scene has no text, which is a shame because the characters are only introduced in the instruction manual (I later found the explanation on a blog) — I think everything in the manual is covered at some point in the story but it’s easier if you have the information off the bat.

This is Lena — in order to protect the savior Lazarus’ soul, it was transported into her womb and she gave birth to the main character. I accidentally named him Talis instead of Kurisu. The opening also shows Adis, the reincarnation of the magician Kyurientis, as well as Pope Velmessa, a child who is at the head of the Altnash Church and the new Holy Ishmelia Empire. He has declared himself to be the reincarnation of Lazarus.

As we move to the start of the game, a woman drops the child at a church. Three different people or groups walk back. By hitting the button to cry, you can get the attention of any of the groups, or if you don’t press anything, Sister Maria from the church will take the baby in. This determines what character type the main character will be, and also affects the story to a certain extent — the beginning is different for each path and whichever class you are, the corresponding PC will not join you. I went with the old man, which makes Talis a magician.

The graphics are a lot better than most other PC Engine games even from this late era. As you can see in the image above, this game doesn’t work off experience levels. Rather, what you do in battle gives you EXP in a number of different areas, and that will eventually raise stats. I wasn’t entirely sure what all the experience areas did, and I wish the interface would tell you when one of the stats levels up.

The first part of the game covers Talis at 5, 10, and 15 years old. Gregory, the old man, is a magician of some kind. He has a secret lab where Talis finds an object of some sort that makes a light come out; Lena’s voice appears and tells us we are the only hope of the world, to stop the Beast of Destruction. These objects serve as the save points throughout the game.

When Talis is 15, people from the Altnash Church show up and take over the building, preventing us from entering.

Adis shows up, wanting to take away (or possibly kill) Talis. Gregory recognizes her as the reincarnation of his teacher, and traps her in his secret lab by turning himself to stone so that Adis can’t get the unlock word out of him. She says she’ll be able to do it eventually, but this gives Talis time to escape.

Gregory leaves Talis with a magic scroll to use the Thunder spell, and some Holix. Spells in the game require you to have acquired the scroll for the spell, and then have the necessary Holix to cast them. There are 14 different Holix varieties. You can acquire the one-use Holix from various places, but you can also find Eternal Holix which allow you to use that Holix permanently. The only screenshot I have of the screen is from the end of the game:

I assume there is one permanent holix for each type; I know I missed one from doing an event in the wrong order, but the other 2 I never found. A lot of them are pretty well hidden and I would not have found a few of them if I hadn’t gotten some information from a blog.

Gregory also leaves behind the broken Vayu Sword which was left with Talis as a baby (I think this is how he gets it in this version of the story), and tells Talis to go to the capital Rostal where he can learn more about magic. So we exit to the world map.

Here you just choose a place to go, but you can only go to places that you know about (even if they are spelled out on the map, you can’t always go there right away). At first the only place you can go is Jupito. There Talis runs into an old woman swordsman, Olga. She’ll be our warrior PC for the game (an interesting choice). But for now she’s in a hurry to go to the Urikuri village in Ulantaya forest — they’re being attacked by bees.

I follower her there myself, and we get the first combat, saving one of the Urikuri from some Macbees. What is interesting about this game is that the encounters are neither random or even symbol encounters, but pre-set fights. It feels like playing a table-top RPG where the game master has decided on specific encounters for you to fight. There are a few encounters that will respawn but for the most part you can only do the pre-set fights, so there’s no grinding.

The battle is on a speed-based turn system. In addition to item and defense, Talis can “concentrate”, increasing the power of the next spell. He can cast spells, or use his staff to attack. The staff is a long-distance attack, which is nice when we get other companions because then Talis doesn’t have to expose himself as much to the enemies. The system has a sort of distance/range element, but moving up to attack the enemy doesn’t take any extra time or turns.

I didn’t know that the staff was a distance attack so I used two Lightning spells to take down the bees.

The forest has Holix scattered around it, though.

The fights do not give money. All the money you get in the game is from selling gems you find, or selling extra equipment. This makes money a pretty limited resource but I thought it worked well — I never felt like the money was so restricted that it was unfair or annoying, but I did feel like I had to consider every purchase. Near the end of the game a way did open up to make extra money, and I think there is one earlier in the game that I didn’t make use of.

Never mind, I do have an early picture

The grateful Urikuri shows us to his village, where Talis is asked to defeat the Macbees that have taken residence in an old tree.

Olga also joins up. She is able to do some kind of jumping attack which I think works better against flying units, and also an attack that can do damage to multiple enemies as long as they’re clustered up.

The battles in this initial part are not especially difficult; many of the enemies can’t hurt Olga. They can poison which is annoying because I had to leave the forest to rest, but I found out later that you can get poison healing herbs from the forest as well. The boss is a mother bee or some kind of mutant insect. Once the Urikuri are saved, Olga decides to accompany Talis — she seems to have some grudge against the Altnash Church as well.

Our next stop is in Marah, where we hope to get a ship to take us to the capital. Unfortunately the ships won’t come to port because of trouble in the town — there are bugs that have taken over the sewers (lots of bugs in this game). Also in the sewers we get our next companion, Vestril the priest.

In addition to magic, he can “preach” which will lower the attack of a human or other enemy that can understand speech, and will damage or outright kill an undead enemy. (One odd thing about the battles is that people flash red when they are near death, but they start flashing red as soon as the attack animation starts, before they get hit). I never got the point of the “thrust” attack (his second choice); any time I tried to use it the enemy blocked the attack.

Because there are fewer encounters, a lot of the dungeons involve puzzles — flipping switches and such. There is also an obelisk in the dungeon that tells us to return with Search magic to find a legendary sword.

The boss of the sewers is a weird bug woman, but with Vestril’s healing it’s not too bad. He also brings with him a few extra spells and a lot of Holix, and also the main character can use some of the new spells. But the spells are divided into different types, and the spellcasting characters have levels associated with each type. So Vestril is a lot better at healing than Talis is.

Now having cleared the bugs, ships can return to the area, but the only one we’re able to get a ride on is a pirate ship. Vestril decides to join us to recover a statue that he thinks the pirates have, and so we’re off to their island lair.

This is where I will stop — I think I will take 2 more posts to cover this. As a last note, the music in this game is quite good. Here’s a link to a playlist, and one of the songs I think is particularly good:

Good use of counterpoint, which is not so common in video game BGM.

Expect part 2 in the middle of the week some time.

PCE Game 47 – Linda Cubed

Linda³ (リンダキューブ), released 10/13/1995, developed by Alpha System, released by NEC

We’re down to the last three PC Engine RPGs, and they’re all rather unusual in their own ways. This one was developed by Masuda Shouji, who had worked before on the Tengai Makyo and Metal Max series. After the initial release for PC Engine, it was released for the Playstation in 1997 as “Linda Cubed Again” and then for the Saturn in 1998 as “Linda Cubed Complete Edition”. For the Playstation release, a difficulty setting was added, the graphically violent scenes were toned down, and the graphics were redone (the monsters are far less grotesque). The Saturn version restored some of the violence and added some minigames.

Advertised as a “psycho horror + hunting RPG”, the basic story takes place on Neo Kenya, a world colonized by humans. Eight years from now, a massive asteroid will strike the planet, killing everything. The humans there begin to emigrate off to other Federation worlds, but a giant ark appears with a mysterious voice telling them to collect 2 of each animal (including humans). The main characters, Ken, and his childhood girlfriend Linda, have been selected as the humans. From here, there are three scenarios that can be played, which are mutually exclusive stories (this is why it’s called Linda “cubed”).

The designer apparently had three main goals in setting up the scenarios: the main character would not be a traditional RPG “hero”, there would be no “take over the world” villain, and the asteroid would be impossible to stop.

I chose Scenario A. Apparently A and B are shorter scenarios and C is the full experience scenario (although they all tell different stories). The game tells me that I have two goals — collect 20 types of animals, and restore Linda’s memories. In the initial scene Ken is notified that he and Linda will be the humans on the ark, and Linda runs off, telling him that he better be at level 3 when he comes to see her in the hotel.

This immediately shows what I think was the biggest issue in the game. The game is mostly open world; you can go almost anywhere right at the beginning (although the A and B scenarios take place on only a small part of the world). The triggers for the events to move along the plot are mostly based on reaching a certain level, or letting an amount of time go by. The game does proceed in real time, and if you don’t complete the objectives in 8 years it’s game over. I don’t mind this kind of time restriction in something like an Atelier game, where there are multiple endings and the whole game is free-form. But when there is a specific chain of things you have to do in order to get the only ending possible (at least on that scenario), the time restriction seems artificial and annoying.

Your party members are dogs; there is a dog place in towns where you can pick them up (there’s also a free one in the first town). So we head outside and start to fight the animals. The goal is to beat them into submission so that you can put them in a device and deal with them later. If you do too much damage they will just run away and you’ll get nothing. Once they’re in the device, you can put one of each into the Ark (which will raise your stats and sometimes give you abilities). You can also sell them to a shop in town (the main way to get money), or turn them into meat (healing items).

The animal designs in the PC Engine version are offputting and grotesque (at least to me). They’re a little bit better in the re-releases.

Once I hit level 3, I headed back to the Hotel, but no Linda. I get a call from a friend saying that Linda is in a hospital. It took quite a while to find the town with the hospital (the later versions have better maps that mark the places for you). She has completely lost her memory. The doctor tells us that we can get a memory restoring medicine from a company in a town to the west. But if you go there, the CEO has no time to see you.

This is one of those “hidden flags” I don’t like; to get past this you have to be at level 7, which has no logical connection to the event. So I spent a lot of time wandering around, fighting animals, and bringing them to the ark. This is probably a good time to explore the world as well.

Finally once I reached level 7 the CEO saw me, and I was able to make the medicine by going to the extreme NW of the world and getting a type of ram meat.

But when I got back to the hospital, Linda wasn’t in her room. She had been moved back to a dungeon in the back, where Ken met up with someone wearing a santa outfit calling himself Nek, Ken’s identical twin. He kills someone that he claims is their father (in a very graphic scene).

This is where I stopped. I think the game has some potential and is certainly unusual, but I really don’t like the opaque progression of everything. This is a game I might return to some day in the Saturn remake.

PCE Game 46 – Kaze no Densetsu Xanadu II

Kaze no Densetsu Xanadu II (風の伝説ザナドゥII), released 6/30/1995, developed by Falcom

I only have four PC Engine RPGs left on my list, although because the last one was released so late, I won’t finish up the PCE until I’m almost done with the Super Famicom RPGs as well. All four of the remaining games get fairly good reviews so I may finish them all, although we’ll see.

This is a followup to Legend of Xanadu, which I covered earlier. I would recommend reading that post since this game is very similar to the previous one. However, it is shorter, simpler, and overall much easier.

The graphics are much improved compared to the original; they finally make full use of the PC Engine’s capabilities. The system is the same — you still run into enemies (although now you swing the sword automatically rather than just running into them). The weapons and armor work the same way, where you gain stats for the weapons by attacking and the armor/shield by getting hit. So the first thing to do in any new area is just get beat up by the enemies until your armor/shield have reached a high enough % that you don’t take any more damage, and then continue. There’s basically no challenge.

HP is different; you no longer gain max HP from staying at inns, but only for using Mushrooms or gaining hearts.

The side-scrolling action sequences return from Xanadu I, but with a significant change — only the boss fights are done this way, there are no scrolling stages the way there were in the first game. The bosses are also much easier than the first game because they changed the way the healing items work. In 1, you had two healing items — 1000 hp heal, or full heal. At the beginning of the game the 1000 hp heals are so powerful you can just mash your way through the boss battles, but by the end the full heals are too rare/expensive and the 1000 hp heal barely anything, so it becomes harder. In 2, the basic healing item scales with stages, so that it remains viable up to the final chapter. This means that all of the boss battles can be beaten just by holding down the turbo button for attack. Apparently they added some moves you can do with button combos like a fighting game, and there’s a down stab that I did use in one or two fights, but mostly you can just hold down the turbo button and win.

You can also apparently play 2-player in the boss fights.

The first game involved a huge amount of backtracking, and flags involving talking to various people in the right order — this was annoying but did flesh out the world. The sequel got rid of all of that so that it’s much more streamlined, but you do lose the detail. There are also only 8 chapters instead of 12, and the dungeons are shorter — even the final dungeon, which is longer than the rest, is nothing compared to the massive final dungeon of 1.

Like 1, each chapter ends with a cutscene voiced sequence, which is the only voicing in the game other than the (rather long) prologue. The story continues from the first game and is fairly typical Falcom.

The game takes place 3 years after the first game; in game the magic from Ishtaria (goddess) had disappeared, and the main character Arios overcame the challenge, brought peace to the world, and now is king. But now with the loss of the magic, other continents are available for travel (I don’t remember why they were blocked before, maybe protection of the goddess or something like that). So Arios sends Ryukos from the first game to investigate a new land nearby. But they lose track of him, and so Arios himself goes with Daimos (also from the first game) to investigate.

From here it’s a pretty typical plot — collect 7 gems to prevent the rebirth of a dark god, but we can’t prevent it so then defeat the dark god. It’s competent enough but nothing we haven’t seen before. As I said, there is far less detail and depth than in the first game, particularly with the side characters.

I often have problems in ARPGs finding my way around, and i was even more acute in this game; the corridors all look the same and there are a lot of hidden passageways.

No cheats, this is just your power level at the end of the game

In the end I think I liked the first game better, despite its flaws. The second game has much better graphics, and the streamlined system is certainly easier to play. But at the same time it lacks the overall quality of the first game. (One Japanese site I read said that even though the first game was a console original it felt like a port of a PC game whereas this feels like a console original — I would agree with that.)

When you finish the game you get some bonus modes where you can replay with all your equipment, do a Time Attack on the bosses, watch the visual scenes, replay any of the chapters, and maybe some other things.

So this game isn’t bad — it’s a game to play quickly, enjoy a bit, and forget.

Next week I will be posting the list of games for July through September 1995. I need an extra week of padding for Sangokushi Koumeiden because it’s a rather long game but the gameplay is nearly identical to Eiketsuden and I’m still not going to summarize the entire Three Kingdoms story so I won’t have a whole lot to say about it. I’m also going to be on vacation a few times this summer so it’s possible that I will not be able to keep up the weekly posting all summer, but I’ll do my best.

PCE Game 45 – Nekketsu Legend Baseballer

Nekketsu Legend Baseballer (熱血レジェンド ベースボーラー), released 6/16/1995, developed by Pack In Video

I really did not know what to expect with this title — it turns out this is a horrendously bad RPG; if it weren’t so obscure I think it would be a legendary kusoge. The opening narration is ridiculous. The game takes place on Planet Yakyuu (baseball), which was abandoned by most human colonists because of the harsh living conditions. But baseball players developed it and lived there. Then the evil Dark Baseballer spirit attacked, but 9 holy baseball players defeated it. This narration is done in apparent seriousness; I don’t think this was intended to be a gag or parody.

The main character is the son of one of the 9 holy baseball legends. As you can see the graphics are terrible even for PC Engine, and the voice acting is laughably bad. It’s rare to see really incompetent voice acting from a Japanese game but this may be the worst I’ve seen.

The guy at the bottom has joined the Dark Baseballer forces and killed the other 8 legends. The father tries to use Holy Ball Excalibur but the other guy returns it with Dark Hit Deathbringer and kills the dad. Now the dad passes on the holy symbol to his son, who has to go out and defeat the Dark Baseballer forces.

Here’s the excellent town graphics.

The battle system is a mess — when you get into a battle it goes into some kind of baseball game, but it’s basically just a skin over a regular “hold down the attack button” system.

Basically you throw a pitch, and it’s either a strike (enemy takes damage), a ball (both take damage), or a hit (you take damage). It’s very slow, apparently the fights can take 20-30 minutes in the later part of the game even though you just hold down the turbo button to win.

You assign your members to the 9 positions but it doesn’t seem to have any real effect because in the end you’re just holding the attack button down.

If you can understand Japanese this is a great video on the game. The guy who did this has a channel where he plays bad games (kusoge) and he said this was in the top 5 worst he had ever played. He also faulted the terrible voice acting (which is even worse than what I saw, later in the game), stupid story, and slow battle system — apparently it’s even worse on an actual PC Engine because the loading times are very long. He also said the system is really unbalanced and he never saw the enemies get a hit. He usually streams the games as he does it but he stopped streaming it after the first two because it was so slow and boring, and he said he watched 4 movies to pass the time during the battles (he put something on top of the controller button).

There’s also the usual problem of not being able to see what anything does in the shops or item menu. There’s also a bug where if you choose what you want to buy and then cancel out, you get the item anyway without paying money.

Obviously I did not finish this game, or even play it much — it’s hard to see how this trainwreck of a game was released in 1995 but I guess there are kusoge in every period.

PCE Game 44 – Gulliver Boy

Imagination Science World Gulliver Boy (空想科学世界ガリバーボーイ), released 5/26/1995, developed by Hudson

This is a game based on an anime that ran during 1995. As the title and the picture above indicate, it takes place in an alternate post-Renaissance Europe, where magic and technology coexist. There were three games based on the IP — this one (which was remade for Saturn in 1996), a puzzle game on the Game Boy, and an action RPG on the Super Famicom which I will get to eventually (I have it as game 117 on my list).

The development team that worked on the PC Engine game contained some people that worked on Tengai Makyo, and it shows in the presentation of the game. The most impressive thing about the game is the inclusion of a large number of FMV anime sequences, something that I’m not sure occurs in any other PCE game. This follows a pattern that you can see in games like Star Ocean and Super Robot Taisen J, where late in the release cycle of a console developers figure out how to wring every last drop of capability from the system.

What is impressive is not only that the FMV sequences exist, but how many of them there are and how long each one is. I just played Harukaze Sentai V Force, which relied on many anime sequences as well, but then the rest of the game suffered due to the time and money spent on it. Gulliver Boy was able to avoid this trap because the anime and game were planned at the same time, and even though the game takes place in the second half of the anime story, the animators were able to reuse many of the anime sequences for the show, so they could share the development budget.

Now because the scenes are on the PC Engine, they don’t look great. The resolution is small and there is a lot of dithering to get the graphics to work out, but despite that they are perfectly watchable and do add to the experience.

In addition to the anime scenes, a lot of dialogue is voiced. On the whole, it’s one of the most impressive RPGs on the system from a visual and presentation standpoint.

Like Tengai Makyo, the gameplay itself is kind of disappointing. It’s a typical RPG style of this era, although simplified in some ways. There’s only one equipment slot for each character, and it isn’t really a weapon or armor but depends on who they are (like Edison gets springs). Each character also has a special ability that uses MP (magic for Gulliver, science for Edison — thematically different, but not in gameplay). For some reason there is no visible XP, but you do level up after beating enough monsters.

The game starts with Gulliver, who is the son of a rich trading company president. He saves his friend Edison, a science geek, from some tough guys but in the process Edison’s new invention destroys the bell tower in Venice. As punishment, Gulliver gets sent to a magic school, where he’s bored out of his mind.

One of the teachers tells him to undergo the Trials Cave in order to unlock his “magic mind” and graduate from the school.

The battle system is sort of an FF4 type real-time system. Since there’s no XP I didn’t even realize you could level by fighting monsters, so I ran into big trouble in the trial cave until I watched a video and saw that you can indeed level by fighting. So I did that for a bit and made it through the cave (since it’s just Gulliver, there’s no possible strategy, just holding down fight).

Gulliver graduates and heads back to Venice, where his father gives him a ship and sets him out to trade. He picks up Edison, of course, and a new companion Feebee, a sort of sprite or fairy.

She acts randomly in battle to do various things. You can also give her items but it was never clear to me what that did.

Gulliver goes around visiting some of the towns on the Mediterranean, but when he returns to Venice, Spanish soldiers have taken over the town, led by Doga who wants to become a king. The actual king is weak and powerless, but Gulliver’s father tries to fight Doga.

Doga kills Gulliver’s father, but then we manage to take him down and chase him off. At the same time, a mysterious man is trying to capture a girl named Misty that Gulliver met earlier. Gulliver tries to save her but the man (Gekko) kicks the crap out of him.

Gulliver decides he needs to chase after Gekko, but the way out of the Mediterranean is blocked by Spanish mines. Enter the butler of Gulliver’s house, who was actually a pirate, and he helps Gulliver meet another pirate named Vulcan. After doing a little quest for Vulcan, he removes the mines for us and we are out into the wide sea.

He takes us to an underground cave where Misty and Gekko are. Even though Gekko kicks our ass again, a mysterious ninja girl comes in and drives him off, allowing us to save Misty.

Unfortunately back in Venice, the whole city is underwater. Gulliver finds the Chinese wolfman dude who he got the fairy from.

The guy tells him that something big is going to happen, but Gulliver can stand up to it, and he gives Gulliver a glove with a gem on it that will increase his power.

This is where I stopped, which seems to be about 20% of the game. As I said above, the system is boilerplate and not very interesting, but the animation, voice, and story all seem quite good, so this is probably worth a play if the pedestrian gameplay doesn’t bother you.

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!

Welcome! (Sticky post)

Thank you for visiting; this is a blog that chronicles my playthroughs of various games. Feel free to respond here to introduce yourself, let me know what your favorite SRPG is, whatever.

I have two finished projects here: a playthrough of (most of) the Super Famicom RPGs, and a quick review of (most of) the PC Engine RPGs. You can see the list of games from the links on the top bar.

Currently I am playing strategy RPGs in chronological order, and at the same time playing other games — sometimes old RPGs, other times any game I feel like playing.

I generally update on Saturday or Sunday.

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PCE Game 42 – Travelers: Densetsu wo buttobase!

Travelers: Densestu wo buttobase! (とらべらーず! 伝説をぶっとばせ)
Released 12/29/1994, published by Victor Entertainment

This is the final game of 1994! It’s a pretty standard RPG with some meta-elements — the back story is that 1000 years ago a demon attacked the world, and after it was defeated, the king created schools to train people who would become “travelers”, which are basically adventuring parties. The main heroes are one of these traveler parties, with the usual fighter, mage, priest, etc. They take missions from the Guild and go around solving problems.

However, there are several reasons why I didn’t play it much. The first is that the voice audio is mixed so low compared to the music that I can barely understand what they’re saying. I’ve encountered this problem before on other PC Engine games. Every time it happens I wonder if it’s an emulation issue or just my non-native Japanese abilities. But I found some Japanese players playing on original hardware who have the same issue; one blogger said “I can’t understand the story at all.”

In the first area (the school) I got a mission to go somewhere, but I have no idea why I’m going there or what I’m doing because I can’t understand the dialogue.

Second, I really do not like the art. All the characters have this creepy, dead-eyed look.

Third, it has all the usual problems of a game this game this age (and worse). The interface is terrible — you can’t tell who can equip things or what the power of items are in the shops. Everything takes more button presses than it should and moves slowly.

The battle sequences divide into front and back:

Only the front characters can attack with melee weapons; back characters have to use magic or spells.

From what I have read, the game is very easy once you move up a couple of levels at the beginning. You level very quickly, the magic is overpowered, and the game itself is quite short. One blogger said it was worth buying it at 10% of the original price.

So that’s about all I will say about Travelers. That ends 1994; next week I will have a preview of the first part of 1994, and then Lufia II, a game I am very much looking forward to. Langrisser III is taking a long time, though, so I’m glad for that buffer week.