Category Archives: Strategy RPGs

SRPG Game 61 – Nage Libre: Seijaku no Suishin (Super Famicom)

Nage Libre: Seijaku no Suishin (ナージュリーブル 〜静寂の水深〜)
Released 2/24/1995, developed and published by Varie
 

  

This is a game I missed on my first pass through 1995. It’s a 美少女ゲー, a game where every character is a high school girl in various school dress. There was a 1997 sequel for Playstation as well. The game was way too expensive to buy, so I don’t have in instruction manual. My discussion of the system is entirely based on playing the game plus information from one walkthrough site I found; there may be parts of the system I didn’t get.

The game is 23 stages back to back, with no other content other than short story sequences. The story as a whole is fairly thin — five high school girls get brought into the world of Nage. They spend the first half of the game trying to escape, but then find that Nage is imposing itself on the real world. They go back into Nage to defeat Misty, the person that initially summoned Nage, and then defeat Nage itself. Most of the dialogue is just banter between the girls.

The first thing you do is input birthdays for the 5 girls.

This affects the birthday stone system in the battles, but there are two special things you can do. If you put in the birthdays as 1/23, 4/5, 6/7, 8/9, and 10/11, all cards count as birthday stones, making the game much easier. If you do 10/10, 3/3, 2/14, 7/7, and 12/24 you can see profiles of the girls. If you put everyone as 11/25, when you beat the game you get this unknown bald guy singing Happy Birthday to Me (a designer?)

Everyone can move 6 spaces on the map regardless of the terrain. What the terrain does it affect the speed that your turn gauge fills, and some of the map squares are damage or healing.


 


 

The battle system is interesting. It’s based on a card system, but not deck-building as such. Each encounter is 6 rounds (or until one person dies). At the beginning of each battle there is a random hand of 5 cards. When you use one of the cards, it will get replaced by another random one. Everyone shares the same hand so you do sometimes have to use less-than-optimal cards to clear them out of your hand. Each card has two numbers; a power at the top left and a speed at the bottom right. Who actually goes first is affected also by the character’s speed stat in addition to the speed of the card. There is also a gemstone on each card, and if it matches the character’s birthday gemstone, it automatically has max power (15).

The types of cards are:

  • Attack
  • Defense (raise defense just for that battle)
  • Heal
  • SP (a special super attack)
  • COS – This changes your costume.The Winter costume gives you more def/agl at the cost of str/mt. Gym clothes are +str/agl, -def. Swimsuit is +str/-def (more than Gym). Coat is just +10% def. The costume change just lasts until the end of the stage.
  • CHG – This allows you to pull one of your stock cards. Between battles you can buy up to 5 stock cards for each person. All of them have 9 speed and X (maximum) power. At the beginning of the game you have to be somewhat frugal, but starting around mid-game I always had one heal and four SP cards to draw from.
  • Escape (end the battle, can fail)
  • ????? – random effect, although I swear that defense is the most common outcome — maybe this is just confirmation bias though. 

Every character also has a club, although some people are “regular students” or bosses. The main thing I am not sure about is whether the clubs affect your stats; there’s no information about this in the game or on the site. There is a compatibility like in other games (for instance, the Tennis club is very strong against the Karate club but weak against Japanese Dance). This is potentially interesting but in the end not very useful. You only ever have 5 people and can only switch clubs between stages. Most stages have a large assortment of enemies and so it’s difficult to pick an optimum set of clubs.

 

It’s not really necessary though — the game is quite easy for the most part. There are a few tricky stages and bosses, but if you lose a girl they just come back in the next stage.

 

 

One other thing I’m not sure about is the level advancement. There’s no XP; the girls gain levels at the end of the stage, but I can’t tell whether it has anything to do with what they did during the stage.

There are a lot of interface issues. It’s very hard to see the stats of your girls during the stage, and there’s too much opacity in the system (although some of that might be cleared up by the instruction manual). 

In the end this is not a bad game, but it’s not particularly good either. I’ll be interested to see what the PSX game changes in the system. I read one complaint that there aren’t as many clubs, but that doesn’t seem like a bad thing to me. I did notice that they made some changes that reduce the randomness of the card draw a bit, which is probably good — it can be frustrating at times when you’re drawing nothing but costume change and escape cards.

After you win the game you can play an Extra Stage with all the bosses on one map.

Next up we’ll be back to 1996 for Vagrant Story, a game I have heard about but never played.

SRPG Game 60 – Langrisser III Stages 13-24

Sorry for the brevity of this post. I had longer writeups, but blogger managed to delete my 13-19 sections so I’m going to recreate those in a sentence or two.

Stage 13

We’re trying to find and protect the Holy Beast (who then joins the team) — I made the mistake of not getting up to him fast enough and he died, but then I was able to get healers up there to save him.

 Stage 14

Not too bad; Dios has to be protected but he’s pretty hardy.

 

Stage 15

The “find Langrisser” stage. The enemies weren’t very hard and I only lost one treasure to escaping thieves.

 

Stage 16

There are a ton of enemies in the stage but I didn’t have much trouble with them.

 

Stage 17

I was not able to attack all 4 city gates at once so I just did three of them, and then moved all my guys up to where Freya was.

Stage 18

This has a robot machine but it can only shoot straight down. You do have to be careful because it’s hard to get the troops not to be in front of the blast range, but if you take the long way around and go after Boltz first it’s not too bad.


Stage 19 

Boltz is slowly fleeing. I was able to surround him by the time he reached the first stairs and then take him out.

 

Stage 20

This was a very hard stage — the enemies have a sudden level boost. I first tried to split my party up and go across the planks but this didn’t work. Then I tried going just on the bottom two, but I was still getting torn apart by the spellcasters. What I ended up having to do was staying on my ship and letting the enemies come to me, defeating them, and then going across mostly on the bottom. I had to kill all the enemies below to allow the healers to come up as well, and then with enough healing I was able surround and take out the boss.

Stage 21

In general it’s easier when everyone is in one place; it makes it chaotic and hard to see what’s going on, but the heal and damage spells are much more effective (so it’s maybe not so good if you’re getting hit with a lot of enemy fire). There are a ton of horses in this stage so I changed everyone over to pikemen who could do it. I stayed in my starting location, moving to the center and using the horizontal and vertical formations with the pikemen to deal with all the horses. In about 10 turns everyone was dead, leaving just the two ballista and summoners. For those I just split my team into two and took them out.

 

Stage 22

The GF walkthrough says on turn 8 monsters come out, but I think they come out when you cross the bridge, not after some turns. I stayed at the starting location and waited for the initial force to come. Then I headed north. The monsters appear, and Emerlink and one horse group stay behind to cover the retreat of the other forces. I killed them with a pike group and some support, and blasted the big monster group with spells to soften them up and killed them. This leaves one annoying dragon at the top left who moves about one pixel per turn; I had to take my whole force up there just to deal with him.

 

Stage 23

This map is deceptive. If you try to save all the villagers it seems very difficult and I think you would need some superpowered Luna to do it. If you’re content to let most of them die the stage isn’t hard, but you do need to be prepared. Most of the monsters (including the reinforcements) will prioritize the civilians over your characters, so you need to be strategic to block them and not move too slowly. I came close to losing but I did manage to protect the villagers in the end.

Stage 24

This stage starts out with you vs. Empire but soon switches to monsters. I hate the golem enemies; I should use Attack+1 more aggressively when I fight them. It took a long time but eventually I was able to kill them.

Now I need to decide if I want to continue playing this or not. I feel like I’m not really enjoying it that much and I want to finish it as fast as I can, but it’s so difficult that I’m struggling with every stage which means that it will take another week or two to finish. I think that if this game did not have the Langrisser name on it I would have already given up and moved on, so maybe that’s a sign I should stop playing.

My biggest complaint about the game is that it’s just too chaotic. There are so many enemies on the map that you can never quite tell where your armies are going to end up. Sometimes you move and you’ll find that one of your guys randomly gets pushed out to the far left of the group and now you’re suddenly in range of the tough enemy who can attack your entire force. 

The magic spells are also devastating; I get locked in a cycle of fast enemies casting huge area effect spells that lower the effectiveness of my guys, I can’t beat anyone, then they heal, and finally my attacks come late in the phase (and the heals) so I basically make no progress in the turn.

SRPG Game 60 – Langrisser III (Saturn) – Stages 1-12

Langrisser III (ラングリッサーIII)
Released 10/19/1996, developed by Masaya

We’re back to the Langrisser franchise as the series moves to the Saturn, where the last three games in the series game out. Rather than continue to refine the gameplay of L1 and 2, Masaya chose to complete reinvent the gameplay. I think the result was not well received because for L4 and 5 they returned to the gameplay of the first two.

The graphics seem to be based on Der Langrisser FX, and like DFX, there’s a fair amount of voiced dialogue and some anime scenes. However, they returned to the L1 and 2 single-path storyline rather than the branching paths of Der (although there are some secret stages, and a “true ending” with 2 extra stages).

Parts of the gameplay are similar to the previous ones. You still hire troops, and the basic unit compatibilities are the same. The classes are similar, although this time you don’t choose a class path, you unlock additional classes that you can switch between (and they will get better); this makes things more flexible so that you can hire more of a certain type of unit depending on the stage.

The biggest change is that the battle system is now done in a semi-realtime. You choose how you want to move your guys, and then all the commanders move at the same time. Then each unit can attack someone they’re close to. The individual army members no longer act like units, instead they’re just extensions of the commander — they affect the range of the attack and also the damage (more troops is good). However, this time even if troops die, they can be brought back by heal spells or the Heal command. This is annoying when powerful enemies are just healing over and over again; you really need to gang up on the bosses with 3-4 squads.

The effect is rather chaotic; units are often packed into small spaces almost stacked on top of each other, and it’s not always easy to tell who is going to be attacking who. You can switch formations (which I don’t really understand the purpose of) and switch between move/defend/normal which lets you speed up (at the cost of defense) or defend (at the cost of not making an attack). You can also view attack sequences but they’re so slow I can’t imagine doing that for the whole game.

There are 5 equipment slots now.

Stage 1

This is similar to the previous Langrisser stages; our guys start out on the left (just me and Tiaris). Story stuff happens on the right side and basically this is just so you can fool around with the battle system a bit before the story stuff plays out. I just moved Dihalt and Tiaris around and fought the Pegasus units. Even Tiaris and her guardsmen had no real trouble with them, although I cast a Heal 1 once. 

 

Stage 2

This is another typical early Langrisser stage; all you do is escape down to the bottom of the map. Maybe you can try killing some of the top enemies (if you save all the villagers you get a bonus item) but I just escaped.

 

Stage 3

The first real stage, against undead. I almost lost. Initially I sent everyone north but I noticed some undead groups were evading me and heading down to where the villagers were, so I had to sent Dihalt and Gilbert back down to the bottom. They actually had a surprising amount of trouble dealing with the undead, maybe because I don’t fully understand the battle system yet. Grop keeps summoning undead which I was fighting off, but Grop was too difficult for just Ruin and Tiaris to beat, so I had to send Gilbert up to the top. He got stuck fighting some undead and Dihalt had difficulty dealing with the bottom on his own. I just barely squeaked out the win; I think one more turn I would have lost all the villagers but Gilbert managed to make it up to the top (with a Move mode) and then I had to move Tiaris out of the way so I could get Gilbert in there with his horsemen. 


 

Stage 4

I just moved everyone west and ordered the NPCs to go right. Once the enemies caught up to the villagers I had the new NPC forces attack; the enemies are outclassed so this isn’t too hard.


Stage 5

I moved everyone along the road, and then when I neared the castle, I had Gilbert in Move mode go up around the side of the castle while everyone else stayed there to fight the enemies. Once Gilbert reaches the castle the stage is over.

I’m starting to get some of the class changes; it’s interesting that you change your class to have different units rather than simply hiring different guys (at least at the moment).

Stage 6

This is a really short stage — the goal is to get two opposing forces to fight each other and then retreat. I thought you would actually have to move around so that the two sides had a battle, but all you have to do is move close to the enemies until there’s dialogue, and then run away. You only need one or two units. 

Jessica shows up after this. I guess she’s used the “youth” magic again.

Stage 7

This is a tough stage. I actually had to restart because I didn’t have the right troops. One thing I’m discovering is that it’s very difficult to do a 1 on 1 fight; because you can use the Heal to even bring back your troops, I often need 2-3 units to take down a strong enemy even if the compatibility is good.

I went with Soldiers for Dihalt and made Rifanny a hunter so I could use bowmen (this ended up not mattering so much).

The basic strategy was to proceed slowly at first, saving Tiaris’ heal spells for the last part of the stage. I took down the initial pikemen with Dihalt and Ruin, and then took everyone forward into the fortress. I used my hours units and Runa to take down the soldiers, then moved Ruin up (with his pikemen) to deal with the horsemen and flying units (along with Rifanny). I used one Heal from Tiaris during this time.

Now the tough part starts. I used Attack+ on Dihalt and had him and Ruin take out the pikemen (with help from a Thunder spell). Then I healed and moved forward, doing the same thing with the next group of pikemen. Meanwhile you have to deal with attacks from bowmen above; I see no good way to take them out.

Last up is Freya. To enable the best ending you have to get Dihalt near Freya so they have a conversation, then let Freya attack Dihalt (do not attack Freya with Dihalt) then defeat Freya with someone other than Dihalt. Initially I had too few units in there and so I had to reload a save from a few turns ago and move both my horsemen and Luna in there. Rifanny stood back to draw the fire from the archers. There are mages that cast spells as well, but with a Protection from Dihalt and my last Heal from Tiaris, I was able to finish the stage — just barely.

I hope this is one of the harder stages!

Stage 8

They reused the “burning field” stage from Langrisser 2. This one moves a lot more slowly so you have time to move. I initially tried splitting my force but that turned out to be a mistake, so I just went in kind of an upside down V direction. Rifanny was surprisingly effective against the pikemen and archers with direct attacks. 


Stage 9   

I thought this was a fairly tough stage also. You first have tribesmen to deal with, then Emarinc’s troops. Emarinc will kill some of the enemies but probably won’t get very far (I wonder if the best way to deal with this stage is to go to the NW at the beginning and let Emarinc and the tribesmen fight it out.

I had this mess:


 

It seemed like I was not doing all that well and I was completely out of spell points by the time I had the battle under control, but at least I was destroying one troop or so per turn.

I think the Heal command is too powerful in this game, although maybe that benefits my team a lot as well.

Stage 10

You have a 19 turn limit here. I think on my first try I tried to move too quickly and got killed by the Shamans and bosses. It’s not necessary to go that fast. I got bogged down by the initial pikemen and was worried about my turn count but once I got past them, the stage opened up a bit. Eventually I was able to reach the boss without killing all of the intervening enemies, which turned out to be a good thing. Other enemies come in afterwards, and the shika tribe will help you fight them. The shamans are especially useful — their fireballs suck when they’re coming at your party, but they help a lot directed at the enemies.


Stage 11

This stage is a nice breather; there are a lot of enemies but they aren’t very hard and they come at you in small batches. The priests can get some EXP by killing the ghouls and other monsters. The boss can hit hard (I lost Luna) but when she’s by herself it’s not that bad. Although it was hard to tell what kind of units she had.

So Bozel is back, of course, he and Jessica seem to be two constants in the games. 

Stage 12  

This is the “save the bridge” stage from Langrisser 2. I was worried at first because I didn’t see how I was going to beat all enemies in 14 turns, but actually you only have to defeat the infantry group on the right side of the bridge, then the turn limit goes away. From there I didn’t have too much trouble; I summoned some Dark Elves to help against the flyers. Ruin was able to hold off all the horsemen with his pikes, and the archers helped pick up the slack.


On the story, this game does a better job than previous Langrissers (and other SRPGs) of showing what’s happening on a large-scale war — too many of these games make it seem like it’s just your own force against the entire enemy army, and you don’t really understand why the army isn’t doing anything while you’re fighting one battle in one area. But here they have a map between stages that shows the territory of each army and where important characters are. So even when we’re doing something like trying to secure a Gate to prevent demons from coming through, other wars are still going on.  

It is odd that the plot started up with the wars between the countries but then almost immediately we go off to defend the Gates while the war keeps going. 

There are 36 stages so I’m 1/3 through.  

SRPG Game 59 – Arliel Crystal Legend (Game Gear)

Arliel: Crystal Legend (アーリエル クリスタル伝説)
Released 12/13/1991, published by Sega
 

Why do some of my retroarch screenshots include that note at the top?

  

I skipped this game on my first pass through, because it looked like it did not have a developing story. I think this basically a correct judgment although it might technically qualify. It’s notable as a very early SRPG example — it would have been game 5 if I had played it on my first pass. It was released in English as Crystal Warriors. As usual, the box design was replaced by Western-style art — the Japanese art was done by the same artist that did the Monster Maker series. I recognize the huge eyes.
 

It’s the forerunner of Royal Stone, which I did play. You can see the connection between the two games; Royal Stone is better in almost every way, but for a handheld game in 1991 this one’s not terrible. I played about half the game, which was enough.

The story is that Queen Ellis of Arliel Kingdom has to fight against the magician Gram who wants four crystals. This is the whole story. There are no story sequences between fights; the only text comes from townspeople you can talk to between stages (who mostly just talk about what to expect in the next fight). The entire dialogue of the game is given in the GameFAQs walkthrough and barely fits one screen.

 

The battles have the same element triangle as Royal Stone: Wind->Water->Fire->Wind, with Earth neutral to all of them. Each character has an element. You start with a party of 6 and can hire more people at the Inn before certain stages. Between stages you can also buy equipment, items, and spells.

The classes are roughly the same as in Royal Stone; you have magic users, healers, and a few types of fighter.

The battles themselves are simple; they take place on small maps. Each map has some set enemies — as in Royal Stone they appear first as question marks until you use the Scan magic or fight with them once, then you can see what they are. In addition there will be some monsters on the map.

 

Fights work similar to Royal Stone. When there is an attack, each side gets 2 turns; they can defend, attack, use a spell, or retreat (which may fail).

In Royal Stone you could capture monsters, something I didn’t realize even after beating the game. Here the system is more integrated. Whenever anyone (other than a mage or healer) kills a monster, they will acquire that monster. In a fight, rather than using your turn you can send out a monster instead. This makes it easier to exploit the elemental weaknesses of the enemies and is a nice feature that I wish they had retained in Royal Stone.

 

There is a limited equipment system (there seem to be only a few items each character can equip, and they only have one slot).

I played to about stage 6 and then got a game over because I moved Ellis poorly. I thought that was enough; this is not a particularly good game. Royal Stone improves upon it in almost every way and I would definitely recommend that over Crystal Warriors. But I can see that this was probably not a bad game at all for a handheld system in 1991.

SRPG Game 58 – Sakura Taisen

Sakura Taisen (サクラ大戦), Saturn
Released 9/27/1996, developed and published by Sega

This game is not an SRPG; it’s really a visual novel with tactical battles. The tactical battles aren’t just fluff — while the system is not as developed as some of the SRPGs I’ve played up to now, it’s not as bare bones as something like Farland Story. Where this game fails in my criteria is that the characters cannot be developed in any way; you can get them some stat bonuses for each chapter but the bonuses go away at the end of the chapter. However, I’m going to play the game anyway. I’ve always been interested in the series and several friends of mine are big fans of it, so this seems like a good time to play it. 

I could have played the PS2 remake but I decided to go for the original instead. My general view of remakes is that especially with a series like Sakura Taisen, I want to see how the series develops. The PS2 remake was released after Sakura Taisen 4 and probably incorporates a lot of the developments in the series that were made in the three sequels.

The setting is the Taisho period, but a cyberpunk version of it with a lot of steam engine technology (that gets pretty ridiculous at some points). The setting is inspired by various stage drama, particularly the all-female Takarazuka Revue and kabuki. The main characters are actors in a troupe that seems a lot like Takarazuka. The presentation is similar to an anime, with a fair amount of FMV videos, and each chapter ending with a “next episode preview” narrated by one of the characters. 

The character designs are by Kosuke Fujishima, at the time a major manga-ka known for Ah! My Goddess. He had designed the characters for Tales of Phantasia the same year, but in this format they could directly translate his character designs to the game itself rather than just having them appear in the instruction manual. 

The story involves Ogami Ichiro, who is assigned to be the captain of the Imperial Attack Squad, which moonlights as the Imperial Stage Revue (pronounced the same way) — this has elements of magical girl anime in it, and I wonder if the popularity of Sailor Moon (which was running its final season when this game came out) had an influence. Tomozawa Michie, who played Sailor Mars, does the voice for one of the game’s characters.

The majority of the game is reading text (and listening to the voice acting for some of it), so it will not appeal to everyone. The general flow of the chapters is you have long sections of dialogue, with some choices. The LIPS system requires you to choose your choices in a limited time, or you can wait for the time to run out and then your character will stay silent. By choosing various options you affect the girls’ trust in you, which raises their stats for the battles. You can also have some free exploration points where you can go to various rooms and talk to the girls, although it’s a bit annoying that you can’t see who is where (so sometimes you waste all your free time going to places where nobody is). The trust values reset at the beginning of each chapter (and can never go below 0), but there’s also a hidden “love” stat that accumulates throughout the game and affects the later chapters.

Eventually there will be a battle (some chapters have just one, some have more than one). The battles are basic tactical combat style. Each character can take two actions a turn, although you can’t use two attack or two defense actions. In addition to move, you have basic attack and special attack, and then defend, heal, and build power. To use the special attacks you need a full power gauge, which goes up when you get damaged or when you use the build power command. Finally, Ogami has a “cover” skill which will negate all the damage to a girl from one attack (can be done 8 times per battle). Each girl has their own type of attack:

  • Sakura is just a 1 range basic attack.
  • Maria has a longer range gun attack (but only in straight lines)
  • Sumire has a 2-range halberd (which can attack two enemies at once)
  • Koran has a range attack that isn’t limited to straight lines and affects a 1-radius area
  • Kanna is just a 1 range basic attack
  • Iris attacks all the enemies in a 2 radius range from her mech.

There are also some supporting characters like Ayame and Yoneda the commanders.

 

The battles on the whole are not very difficult, but they require enough skill and thought that they don’t feel like they were just slapped into the game. The lack of real advancement or learning new skills is a bit of a letdown but overall I thought this was a decent battle system for the game.

This game has a patch, and the patch actually subtitles the FMVs — I guess they’re stored on the disc in a format that makes this possible. So check it out!

Now a brief chapter runthrough:

Chapter 1

Ogami joins the squad and learns about the secret mechs! They run off psychic power, so all the people are in the squad because they have the power necessary to operate the units.

 

The enemy is Tenkai, who wants to use magical power to restore the Tokugawa Shogunate and send all the foreign stuff away. He has four underlings, and you fight one of them (Satan) here. This is an introductory battle so it’s even easier than most of the already easy battles. The standard tactic against the bosses is to attack normally until their power gauge is almost full and then unleash all your special moves.

I did not use a walkthrough, so I just picked whatever options in the dialogue sections seemed good to me throughout the game. A few times I restarted from my last save when it was pretty obvious I had picked bad choices, but I feel like the game would not be impossible even if you picked all the worst choices in every dialogue.

Chapter 2

Koran joins here. The battle introduces missile shooters that can target your guys from far away, so you have to be careful to avoid them.

 Chapter 3

And now we get Kanna. This is vs Setsuna, one of Tenkai’s other followers. The next few episodes follow a typical anime trope where each chapter focuses on the backstory of one (or two) of the girls. In this case it’s Maria, who was a fighter in the Russian Revolution (so this must take place in the later part of the Taisho period, early 1920s?).

You have two paths to reach the end — I took the longer path because it looked safer, but I was probably too much of a scaredy-cat. Losing one person lowers your relationship with them so it’s good to keep everyone alive, but there’s no other drawback.

One other thing you start encountering is minigames — each girl has one. You can play all of them when you beat the game, otherwise they’re only available in certain short periods. Koran plays Hanafuda with you, and Maria makes you remember instructions to make a stew, and so on.

Chapter 4

This episode focuses on Iris, whose psychic power goes haywire at a scary movie. She then starts to believe that no one in the group cares about her. (She also destroyed the whole movie theater and some things around it; that must cost a lot of repair money…)

The fight is against Rasetsu, who has an annoying power to teleport people around, which makes it rough to fight him. But you can take him down with the same basic tactics.

Chapter 5

This chapter focuses on Kanna and Sumire, who are the classic “don’t get along but also seem like friends” characters. You have to investigate a haunted mansion — I found this part rather annoying because you have to keep investigating empty rooms over and over again with no indication of where you should go next, and I think the “repetition for comic effect” would have worked better as an 8 minute segment of an anime episode rather than something that can take an hour to work through.

The battle is against Miroku, another one of Tenkai’s underlings. It’s a long stage because you have to climb a cliff area with a lot of those missile launchers. Miroku herself is just another basic boss strategy.

Chapter 6

This one is Sakura-themed. Everyone is preparing for a party, but Sakura doesn’t return from buying snacks. She and Ogami get trapped underground and we see Sakura’s psychic power go into overdrive to save them both. Meanwhile, Tenkai has finished setting up the magic areas that will let him attack Tokyo in full force.

The fight is against Miroku again. This is an indoor map where you have to open doors (although apparently you can defeat Miroku through the wall without going into her room; I didn’t realize this).

Chapter 7

This is the last stage of Disc 1, so obviously not the end of the game — once again this is patterned on a pretty common anime trope where the first major enemy is not the true final power. The goal here is to beat Tenkai. The stage has several battles, and you have to beat Tenkai twice. I didn’t find that the exact same tactic worked on Tenkai as the other bosses, but with judicious use of Ogami’s block skill you can make Tenkai’s super attacks much less scary.

Chapter 8

Several months pass, and it’s New Year’s. The main enemy is now Satan, who was the underling of Tenkai but now takes center stage with his own underlings. The plot also goes off into bizarre areas — I have to say I didn’t like this part as well as the first one. I liked the “restore the Edo Bakufu” of the first part; it seemed to fit in really well with the overall theme. But here it turns out that Satan is literal Satan (the Devil), and the Archangel Michael appears as well.

First, there’s a date with the girl that you have the highest love rating with. For me it was Sakura. I wonder if that’s just the natural result if you don’t specifically try for one of the other girls.

There are three battles in this chapter (the last three chapters are all longer than the first ones). In the first one you mostly get your butt kicked until the ship comes in and saves you — this is an excuse to destroy all your mechs so that you can get more powerful ones. Unfortunately that makes no real gameplay difference, but it fits with the usual powerups in mech and magical girl anime.

The second fight is against Inoshishi, one of the followers of Satan.

Chapter 9

Satan is trying to revive the Seima Castle in Tokyo Bay. This stage also has several battles. In the first one you are trying to prevent the enemies from entering the base, while also having to destroy some machines that are making additional enemies. Despite the difficult sounding goals, I didn’t find it too hard.


The second fight is against Cho, another underling.

Chapter 10 

Final stage, as we attack the Seima Castle. There’s a new battleship — the technology gets kind of ridiculous here but I guess it’s part of the anime/cyberpunk theme. All the bosses revive, and the first section is devoted to killing off the entire party (I have a feeling this was directly inspired by the end of Sailor Moon’s first season). However, Archangel Michael revives them all so it’s fine.

The final boss is annoying because he pushes you back with his attacks, which force you to move back up. I was afraid that I would have a lot of trouble but I managed to beat it only losing one person (although if he had another 25% HP or so I would have been in deep doo-doo.)

Everything’s back to normal! I guess Tokyo rebuilds? After they sunk so much money into the new mechs and ships? Maybe the theatre can make their own money.

So overall I think this is a good introduction to the series. The game succeeds at what it’s trying to do — combine a visual novel/dating sim with tactical combat. It won’t appeal to people who are primarily looking for tactical combat because so much of the game is just reading text. I would also recommend playing this in one of the remakes (for the Dreamcast or PS2) because they incorporate some QoL improvements that were in later titles. 

The story was more interesting to me in the first disc — I liked the Edo Bakufu-related plot and the character focus. The second part seemed out of left field and the Judeo-Christian stuff didn’t fit as well with the theme.

Sorry this post took so long to come out. Next I’ll be going back to 1991 for Crystal Warriors, and then move on to Langrisser 3. Sakura Taisen 2 came out in early 1998 so it will be ~25 games until I play that.

Also, I mentioned this on my other blog, but Blogger is getting worse and worse. I can no longer edit the sidebar except as a mass of unformatted HTML, so I’m cutting out the “recent and upcoming” parts. I have added all the remaining 1996 games, as well as Crystal Warrior and Hybrid Front, to the “list of finished games” area so you can see what’s coming. Part of me wants to find a different home for this than Blogger but I’m too lazy.

SRPG Game 57 – Energy Breaker

Energy Breaker (エナジーブレーカ), Super Famicom
Released 7/26/1996, developed by Neverland Company, published by Taito

This game was released in the waning days of the Super Famicom. There are still a few well remembered RPGs after this, but Playstation and Saturn were starting to pick up steam, and once Final Fantasy VII was released at the beginning of 1997, that was basically the end for the system. After this game, my list is all Playstation and Saturn until 1999 (except for a couple of PC-FX games that may not qualify as SRPGs). Because of the late release I think this game was not given a lot of notice, as we can perhaps see from the prices of used copies of the game.

 Energy Breaker was developed by Neverland Company, which is known to Western gamers primarily through the Lufia and Rune Factory series. On the whole, the game is weighted towards the RPG end of the scale. The battles are small, with at most 5 player characters. The towns and dungeons may be explored, and a good deal of the game is in walking around the various places. However, there are fixed battles (numbered) so it does qualify as an SRPG under my definition, though just barely.

The game begins with no real backstory — the main character, Maira, wakes up out of a dream where she sees a woman named Selphie talking to her. It seems that Maira has lost her memory, although exactly what she’s doing in the town isn’t explained (maybe it’s in the instruction manual). Her friend Irene tells her about a fortune teller in town who predicts everything perfectly. It turns out to be Selphie, who gives Maira a green gem. Maira’s goal seems to be to find out who she is, and she heads to a nearby forest to track down a researcher named Lenardo who is looking for companions to find a flower that can supposedly recall the dead to life.

This is just the beginning of the story, which overall is fairly decent for the time. The characters (including the villain characters) are all developed and have interesting connections to each other and the main characters. There is enough dialogue to flesh everything out. Since there’s an English patch I don’t want to say too much about the story (even though I know that many readers will never play the game, so I probably should do the whole story…I guess you can watch a youtube playthrough.)

As you explore the towns and dungeons, you can hit A on almost everything to generate a response from Maira. There are a lot of hidden treasures, although the inventory space is fairly limited (for game balance reasons, I think). Everything is done in a 3/4 view like Tactics Ogre and such, with the battles taking place on the same maps as the exploration. You can jump up places by holding a button. There are a lot of hidden passages also and chests/treasures hidden in places of the map you can’t see, so the game rewards poking around everywhere.

 When you talk to people, most of them just give you a short line. But some have more options; you can give them things, or take different attitudes with them, or ask them about specific things. Only a few characters have specific things that you can ask them about. The attitude has no real effect on the game; I was barely able to find any places where it even made a difference to what the people said, much less having an effect on the plot.

The world map is a Mode-7 area where you just choose your destination. However, there are other world maps beyond the one you first see. The world is kind of semi-fantasy, semi-steampunk, with trains and robots and such.

In the non-town areas, entering a screen will sometimes produce a battle (though it doesn’t always happen until you’re partway through the screen). The first time you encounter the battle you have to fight it. If you return and activate the battle again, you can fight it again or you can choose “run away” and skip it, which is much appreciated. Each battle has a turn limit; most of the time that’s the loss condition but in some cases you win by surviving that number of turns.

The battle system resembles Tactics Ogre in that it has both height and facing. An attack from the front deals the least damage and the opponent will counter. A side attack deals the same amount but no counter, and a back attack deals the most. I am not completely certain how the mechanics work, but you will notice that when you attack, a damage number will appear, and then roll up or down (sometimes severely — like 28 down to 2). This has to do with Dexterity, and I believe it’s the difference between the attacker and defender’s DEX stats. So don’t neglect DEX.

Each turn, a character can take as many actions as they have Balance points. Each character has a set maximum Balance that will never change through the game (except for one unique item that increases it by +1). Each ability costs a certain amount of balance — moving costs 5, a basic attack is 3, using an item is 1, and abilities cost from 3-10 depending on their power. There are no other MP/AP costs or anything like that. Any ability can be used as many times as you need to in each battle as long as you have the balance. The 1 cost for items does unbalance the game a bit (no pun intended) but the limited inventory space keeps it from getting too ridiculous, as does the fact that the shopkeeper inventories for the more powerful items are limited and only refill a few fixed times during the game.

 

At the beginning of a turn, a character recovers some of their balance points depending on their remaining HP. The lower the HP, the less balance they recover. This sucks for your guys who sometimes have such low balance they can’t even move, but the enemies can also be reduced to low enough balance that they can’t use their attacks. This system does provide a lot of flexibility in what you do on each turn, and there’s a tension in deciding what you want to spend your balance points on for each round. If a character is defeated in battle, they just exit that battle and will return afterwards (you recover all HP at the end of each battle).

Each character learns abilities by assigning points to four elements (wind, water, earth, fire), both to “light” and “dark” sides. At first I thought you would have to choose between them, but you can assign points to both. There’s both a maximum (from 0-7) and the points you actually have assigned. By the end of the game at least some of your characters will have enough points to max out all 8 areas and assign most of the points. You learn new abilities by assigning points to the right places then taking an action in battle, upon which the character will use it and then you have it (as long as you keep the points assigned). You can figure out where to assign the points by finding certain books in the game that tell you, but there are also some hidden abilities.

 

The one exception to this learning method is Staa, who has to defeat certain enemies to learn attacks (in addition to having the right elements set). This is rather annoying because he tends to lag behind since there’s no indication of which enemies give you which skills. But there’s also an item Fortune Slip that can teach him abilities without having to beat the enemies (if you have the points assigned).

Not every character can learn every ability, so each character remains individual. The stat buffs are important, and probably the most crucial ability is Poison Drop, which lowers all stats of the target. This is a brutal attack when it’s directed against your own guys, but also works very well against strong
enemies. You can buy or find scrolls for many of the spells and use those instead.

In most battles you also have a robot who cannot attack or be attacked, and has 5 balance a turn (enough for one move). So you can use him to block the way for enemies, but I rarely found this helpful.

The graphics are well done; typical late Super Famicom style. The BGM is also strong, with several memorable and atmospheric tunes.

There are some flaws in the game. Parts of the story are undeveloped (supposedly the development time was cut short). Items are perhaps a bit too powerful, and the inventory limit and shop limit doesn’t entirely compensate for that. A few places in the game don’t have many hints to figure out where to go next. But all in all this is an impressive late-SFC game that’s definitely one of the better games I’ve played so far on this blog. Give it a try, if you like SRPGs that are closer to the RPG end of the scale rather than large scale army vs army games.

SRPG Game 56 – Fire Emblem: Genealogy Of Holy War – Stages 9 to end

Chapter 9

The initial part of this map was difficult. You immediately get rushed by two different sets of units. The first one wasn’t so bad but Hannibal’s armor group was tricky — I had a hard time surviving the enemy phases. Eventually I had everyone arranged right. What makes it difficult is that if you want to recruit Hannibal, you can’t defeat him, and you have to get Seris down to the second castle. Hannibal will begin to retreat back to the castle when most of his troops are beaten, and you can just block the castle entrance and he’ll sit there waiting.

I also sent Fee out to the left to deal with the bandits; it wasn’t working at first but she eventually got a critical hit that helped out a lot. Sety continues to be a monster.

In the next part I got trolled by this lady thief that steals your gold — I lost 65,000 gold and couldn’t even save the town in the end. Other than that this stage isn’t too bad. There’s a triple group of dragon riders that come out at the end. I put Lester on the home castle to guard it but didn’t bother with the others; I wasn’t really concerned about my rank so I let castles get destroyed if it was too annoying to save them.

Chapter 10

The last two stages have a lot of units with sleep staffs. This is annoying because I put the Rest staff on Julia, not knowing that she would leave until the end of the game — there’s only one Rest staff in the entire game. I really do not like the item management system in this game. So what this meant is that often I had to rely on Selis, Fee, and Aress who were reasonably good at dodging the sleep attacks or resisting them. If I did take in my whole force I just had to accept that 5-7 of them would get put to sleep and hope I could finish the enemies before that.

First there’s a huge group of mages. I tried a couple of strategies to deal with them but the right one ended up being just charging them and taking out as many as I could in one round.

Next up a group of horsemen arrive. Fee is taking her usual role of speeding ahead to stop the bandits from destroying towns.

The next difficult part in the stage is when Ishtar and Julius are both near the castle.

Julius is very difficult to defeat and both Julius and Ishtar can kill almost anyone. They will both leave when they either kill one of your units, or you kill either of them. So one easy way to pass this section would just be to sacrifice a minor unit that’s not very useful (I don’t have the Valkyrie staff since I didn’t pair Claude with anyone in gen 1).

I was not successful at all in luring them in; what I eventually did was have Altena kill Ishtar; she started out of the range but then I used Leen dancer ability to give her another move. One they were gone the castle fell easily.

The final part of the stage is not hard. This section has an easy choke point.

Move Selis out here to get the Tyrfing.

Then beat Emperor Alvis, and the stage is done. I beat him with Altena — I was mainly using her because the discord people were badmouthing her so much that I wanted to prove her usefulness.

Chapter 11

The beginning section has annoying mages with sleep staffs so you have to send out some units to beat them. Then there’s a wall of annoyance:

Lots of sleep staff mages, and too many enemies to just charge in with Selis. Basically what I did was take as many units as I could at the bottom of the enemy formation, accept that I would get a lot of sleeping units, and move Selis up to take the castle as quickly as possible.

The next part of the game is not difficult; they create a “pincer attack” to supposedly trap you but the units move so slowly that it doesn’t matter — you can just take the top castle and ignore the “pincer”.

The next part is one of the hardest in the game and probably the true “final boss”.

Those five mages have sleep staffs. The pegasus knights are very hard to hit, and hit very hard in return with Earth Swords that steal your HP. Ishtar is there, as are a bunch of strong units. I lost many times — one time I managed to do it but the castle got destroyed. Eventually I went back to a save before I conquered the castle. First I took out all the sleep staff mages with Fee. I then moved everyone up and was still having problems. But eventually I got the right formation. For some reason the pegasus sisters decided to all attack Shanan, who was easily able to dodge their attacks and take them out with Balmung. From there the rest of the enemies were manageable, just being careful of Ishtar’s range.

At this point the game is more or less over. The last two castles are an interesting setup but I guess they match the way the other games’ final bosses have worked. Julius sits in the castle surrounded by 12 powerful units representing every type of weapon. It is apparently possible to take them all on with your main force but it’s very difficult and the dialogue clearly indicates that’s not what you’re supposed to do.

Instead, you need to free Julia from her mind control by going up to the NE castle. I took only Selis, Aless, and Fee. Julia will helpfully follow them, and if you take the roundabout path to the north you can avoid the 12 units from moving. The mages can be taken out pretty easily, then Selis talks to Julia and Julia visits the castle to receive the Naga magic.

 

With Naga, Julia can take out the 12 powerful units plus Julius on her own. I sent Selis with her for the leadership bonus and to help pick off some of the units. As I said, this “special weapon to kill the final boss” has been in all four games to now.

After the credits you get a ranking — mine was pretty low because I let a lot of castles get destroyed, and lost a fair number of units (it saves the stats even if you reset).

Overall I had fun with FE4 — I’m not sure that the larger maps had the same quality of design as the previous games, and the numerous palette-swapped characters felt more generic than some of the previous titles. But the story was entertaining, and the gameplay in general was fun. As I said before, I really did not like the way gold and items were handled in the game despite fans of the series praising it.

This is the last we’ll see of Fire Emblem for a while. The next game was released in September 1999, one of the last games for the Super Famicom. I always find this amazing because at this point the PS2 was six months away and the Nintendo 64 had passed its peak release schedule. But the last game for the SFC came out after the PS2’s release!

Next up is Energy Breaker, the last of the SFC SRPGs (aside from Fire Emblem 5).

SRPG Game 56 – Fire Emblem: Genealogy Of Holy War – Stages 6-8

Stage 6

You start out with a whole new set of people here, and slowly build up your party again. Given the length of this game, it’s almost like two games in one. Lakche and Skasaha are twins, children of Arya and Aeden. I found that Lakche was a great character but Skasaha not so good, even though they should be similar. I think it may simply be the equipment; Lakche starts with the Hero Sword, which is a big help. You can put siblings together and they may get a critical hit bonus.

The first task is to choose between Johan and Johalva, or kill them both. It seems like the best one to take is Johalva; if you conquer the south castle, Julia gets a better attack magic than if you conquer the left one. But neither character is all that good (because early FE hates axes). This was a little tough to do with both armies rushing me, but eventually I was able to get Lakche in there to talk to Johalva. I did have to restart though — the first time I went too slow. Johalva chased Arthur into the mountains and got killed by counterattacks.

The rest of the stage is not too bad.

Stage 7

 

This stage is quite complex. You start with three separate groups of characters — Leif, Finn, and Nanna at the bottom, Patty and Shannan at the left, and the main group in the NE.

The first group is separated from the rest of the party until near the end of the stage. They start out having to deal with some troops attacking their castle, and another force will come out later. You can abandon the castle (without it being destroyed) and head away. Despite my unpromoted Finn I kept everyone at the castle except Nanna, who went out to deal with the town bandits. This took some coaxing (Finn kept dying) but it worked in the end.

Patty can talk to Shannan and give him a legendary weapon, which makes it fairly easy to keep that team alive provided Patty doesn’t make a wrong move. I moved the main army towards this area, took out all the enemies, and conquered the castle.

Now we have to head south, and recruit Aless. He has a legendary weapon so you have to be careful, but once he’s recruited he’s a great unit. Tinny can also be recruited fairly easily. Now we have to head back up to take over the castle we skipped and rescue Leen (our gen 2 dancer)

 

The final area’s not too bad except for the boss — the bosses on the whole get much more difficult from this point out. It was helpful to use all of the evade up effects stacking on each other. Next stage we get Folsety again, which is a good boss killer.

Stage 8 

The beginning of this stage has a few units go up to the castle at the top. I found it impossible to actually defend that castle with the annoying spear knights, and so I just abandoned it and took everyone south. It wasn’t that hard to deal with them all near the starting castle before I moved forward.

Recruiting Faval with Patty isn’t too difficult (I may have danced to get her into range).

Sety has Folsety so there’s not too much difficulty with him and these dragons, although a lot of them went around the castle to attack me instead. Bows > Dragons

I got trolled by a thief here that stole 65,000 of my gold and then I wasn’t even able to save the town. Oh well.

One side note — this game reuses enemy faces quite a bit.

He starts out on the first stage as Zane but he appears at least 5 more times. They even did this with some more significant figures, which is kind of strange.

Three stages left!

SRPG Game 56 – Fire Emblem: Genealogy Of Holy War – Stages 4 and 5

Stage 4

This is a long stage with a lot of annoying backtracking. A lot of the enemies are mages with long range Blizzard attacks, and there are a fair amount of bowmen and pegasus knights as well. First we head up NE all the way to the castle at the top. 

 After that one is conquered, the bottom part opens up, but a troop of pegasus knights also heads towards the castle at the top. So I kept about half my force there (including the bowmen) and sent everyone else down. Unfortunately I didn’t realize that a fair number of units cannot cross the mountains and so can’t make it to the next castle without first conquering it and then using the Warp Staff. Also, you really want Levin down there so he can visit the castle for the Folsety magic. I also had to deal with Pamela heading back for a second round of pegasi.

In the end it took a lot of resets but I managed to conquer and hold the bottom castle against the reinforcements, losing only Arden in the process. I revived him with the one use of the Valkyrie staff (30k repair!). At this point the rest of the stage is not difficult. 

At this point I had my love matchups: Arden/Aida, Levin/Fury, Azel/Tilty, Jamka/Aeden, Dew/Lachesis, and Alec/Sylvia.

Stage 5

This is the last stage of the first generation. As far as I can see the instruction manual says nothing about the generations, but it is on the back of the box, so I don’t think it would have been a surprise. But it is a sudden development that this stage ends when you still have 2 castles left, so I think that would have been a shock to people playing for the first time.

The first challenge is reaching Sigurd’s father so that Sigurd can get Tyrfing. You need to move up their fast so the enemies will not go for his dad, but you have to sent some units W as well. I had to restart at least once but finally I was able to open a path up.

Next it’s through the desert, which is annoying because everyone moves so slowly. I don’t know why SRPGs always think they have to have slow movement areas in every game. There are mages hiding out on bluffs, but the pegasus knight can take them on effectively. There’s also a large force of dragon knights; I hung back until they killed Cuan and Ethlyn and then came up to where I was, using my bows to take them down. Then it was a laborious walk through the desert to the next area, with the final boss of the generation.

 

Folsety took him down in one turn, and the rest of his troops evaporate.

Then boom, generation one is done. Overall this stage is fairly short because of the reduced length, and not too difficult since a lot of people have legendary weapons at this point. I managed to fix Tyrfing up to 25 uses or so and repair the other legendary weapons to full before the end of the stage.

Now we have 6 more chapters — I’m already on chapter 7 but I will save that for two more posts covering three stages each. This is a long game!

SRPG Game 56 – Fire Emblem: Genealogy Of Holy War (SFC) Prologue – Stage 3

Fire Emblem: Genealogy of Holy War (ファイアーエムブレム 聖戦の系譜)
Released 5/14/1996, developed by Intelligent Systems, published by Nintendo 


And we’re back to the major franchise of SRPGs, the one that started the whole genre and is still going strong today. The game is different in many ways from FE3, although some of the new concepts in introduced were used in later games.

The biggest change is that there are only 12 maps, but the maps are very large. Each map contains a series of smaller stages within it. By conquering one castle it typically opens up the way to the next one or causes new enemies to appear (from what I have seen so far, there are never any real choices about what to do next). 

Probably because of this, they didn’t feel that they could only allow players to save between maps. I would have expected them to allow a save after conquering a castle; instead they allow you to save at the beginning of each turn. This of course makes the game considerably easier than the previous ones. You don’t have to play as carefully because the risk of a bad move is much lower. They provide 4 save slots so you don’t need to worry about saving yourself in an unwinnable situation. I had a system where I kept the first save slot for the beginning of a chapter, and the second save slot for a safe turn after conquering a castle, just in case I screwed something up and needed to go back.

Here is a list of many of the other changes from FE3:

  • The weapon triangle finally appears. In this game it only affects hit rates but the effect is rather large.
  • Skills have been introduced. Each character has skills like Pursuit (allows a second attack) or Steal (take the enemy’s money). 
  • Promotions now occur at level 20, and can be done in any castle without an item. The level stays the same so there is no longer any purpose to delaying promotion.
  • Money is kept on a per character basis, and you can no longer trade items except with a character’s lover (otherwise they have to sell the item to a shop and then have someone else buy it). This is my biggest annoyance in the game — it’s not fun from a gameplay standpoint and it makes no sense whatsoever within the game world. Sigurd visits a town and receives a magic staff he can’t use as a reward. He refuses to give it to any of the clerics under his control and sells it to the castle instead.
  • Weapons can be repaired freely at a castle (for a cost). The shop inventories are extremely limited.
  • Attack and magic attack have been split. Rather than the “weapon skill” stat, there are now individual weapon skill stats for each type (they only change with promotion)
  • Mounted units, after using their attack, can move away if they have remaining move points. The dismount option is gone (there are no indoor maps).
  • There are some interface improvements, like being able to see the attack range of units, a nicer sortable unit screen, and other things like that.

Another big system in this game is the Love system. Halfway through the game the story switches to the descendants of the initial group (thus the game’s title). The children you get will depend on who you paired up in the first part of the game.

First off, let me say that I’m using my own romanizations for the names — it’s too much effort for me to check the romanizations of all the names against either the NA official ones or any fan translations.

Prologue Chapter

 As an introduction chapter, this is a small sized map (although still larger than previous FEs).

This is basically two parts. The first part is a race to save the towns, although you have plenty of turns since it takes 10 turns for a barbarian to destroy a town in this game. I kept the armor knight in the castle to defend it and sent everyone else out, making heavy use of the “attack and retreat” ability of the mounted knights. This also helps a lot with the bosses since you can rush the castle and then retreat, letting someone else go in.

The second part is a horde of barbarians that all come at you; it can be a bit hairy but in the end I got a few lucky dodges and succeeded. I made sure to to get the silver sword for Sigurd from the NPC unit that comes in. 


 

Chapter 1

The first full sized map. We start at the castle at the top right and there are three castles to capture — each castle is almost like a full stage of another FE.

I started out sending everyone down. The initial town is not hard to save. The difficulty at the bottom near the castle is Aira. You have to conquer the castle before she will join (at Sigurd’s request), but before that she’s a nasty fighter that can easily take down party members. I lost several times due to this and it took some effort to maneuver everyone around to not die. Meanwhile, I moved Dew and Aeden towards the party and sent one or two units over to help out with all the guys attacking them.

 

The second castle is not hard to take, but there is a town all the way to the left that is tough to save. I managed to do it on the last possible turn but you don’t get an item, just money (500 gold since everything else was destroyed). 

At this point I was worried because I had not left a defender in the initial castle, but the troops that come out at the top are dealt with by NPCs so it’s OK. This part you have to move very slowly through a forest — I never like these parts in SRPGs because you spend so much time just moving each person individually and then ending the turn. Sigurd picks up Dierdre in the forest and Alec gets a hero axe from a helpful fairy. 

 

The boss would be difficult except that Dierdre comes with a silence staff that completely neutralizes him. I made sure to have Azel kill him so that he could get the magic ring.

Chapter 2


 

Each chapter begins with fixing everyone’s weapons, and then seeing how far they get in the arena. I just have everyone fight until they die and then reload. 

 

I didn’t leave anyone back in the castle because now that I have a warp/return staff it’s easy to send someone back. The first big problem in this stage is the barbarians heading for the towns. They’re in an inaccessible place on the map — eventually some new units will come out to help, but you have to go incredibly quickly to save the first village. The prize is a discount ring; I saved all the villages except that one. 

 

Once the left castle was taken care of I headed north and met up with the two new units. The top castle wasn’t much of a problem. At this point the castle on the upper right activates and some pegasus knights begin to head for the base. I warped Midayle back there so he could shoot them, and also Levin (to recruit Fury). It takes them a while to get there but once they do it’s no problem. I eventually realized I had forgotten to actually visit the villages I saved, so I sent Fury to do that.

 

Meanwhile the next castle has a bunch of shooter units and horsemen that can come in and wreck the troops. I had trouble with Sigurd killing them too efficiently which caused him to get attacked so many times he died. I also had to be careful with some of the weaker characters like Diadre because the shooters could gang up on them. They can’t actually be attacked without Fery (except for one who is in range for a bow/magic shot).

Once the intermediate castle is conquered the shooters disappear, and it’s time for the final castle. A troop of horsemen led by Zane. I took out his entire troop and he began to run away. I’m glad I jokingly posted a screenshot to discord calling him a coward, because they informed me he was heading back to the castle to get reinforcements — indeed, if you let him get back to the castle he will appear the next turn with a full new set of units.

 

I could not stop him from reaching the castle, but I was able to get there quickly enough to sit on the castle entrance so he couldn’t come out, kill the rest of the guys, and finish the stage.

Chapter 3

My love pairings were starting to come together here. Basically each character gain some love points when they start next to each other. There are also some events that raise love points, and some people start with stronger love towards certain others. When both people’s love points reach a certain point, they are lovers and their child will appear in the next part of the game.

Sigurd and Diadre automatically become lovers, and Cuan and Ethlyn are lovers at the start of the game. Other people can be paired up freely. At the beginning of chapter 3 I had Jamka and Aeden in love with each other, Aira and Arden interested in each other, and Levin and Sylvia interested in each other. There were a large number of other one-sided feelings.

This stage has a lot of wandering around. First we go up the center lane to take over the castle there; meanwhile I sent some horsemen fanning out to stop the pirates from ravaging the towns.

 

After the initial enemies, the Cross Knights and Eltshan show up. They are quite difficult; their sheer numbers means they can usually kill someone, and Eltshan gives them a large leadership bonus. Lachesis can remove Eltshan from the battlefield but she has to reach him first. This part took the most resets of any part so far. Sigurd’s leadership bonus helps, as does Lachesis’ cheer.

Then we continue to take over west castle, which is nothing compared to the Cross Knights. Once this is done, new enemies appear from the north, and there are several allies that appear way up at the top of the screen. They can get overwhelmed easily, and I think you need to use the chokepoint on the isthmus like this:

Here, Bridgid and Tilty can attack, Claude can use his area heal, and Fury can dart in and out and contribute. With this setup I was able to take out almost everyone (I sent in Cuan and Ethlyn to help but I think the initial 4 could have beaten everyone without help). The rest of the map is easy; one of the axe guys did go back for reinforcements but that was just extra XP. I got some initial promotions after this stage (just Ethlyn and Aira).

So that’s 4 chapters out of 12 — I’m pretty sure this will be the longest game I’ve played so far.