Category Archives: Super Famicom RPGs

SFC Game 70 – Estpolis Denki II (Lufia II)

Estpolis Denki II (エストポリス伝記II)
Released 2/24/1995, published by Taito
 

The first Lufia game was a pretty standard RPG, although not that bad compared to the games made around the same time. The beginning is the part that stands out the most. It’s a time-worn game cliche that some heroes defeated an enemy long ago, and now the descendants of the heroes have to fight the enemy again. But Lufia actually starts with you playing the strong hero party in the final dungeon against the Four Gods — translated as Sinistrals to get around Nintendo of America’s content policies. At the end of the prologue, Maxim and Selena die in the Gods’ floating island while Artea and Guy escape. Then the main game takes place 90 years later with the descendants fighting the Gods again.

Lufia II focuses on Maxim and his party, so (if you played Lufia 1) you already know the ending of the game. Here we start out with Maxim living in a small village, fighting monsters for money. He has a friend/potential girlfriend Tia who runs the item store. A mysterious woman named Iris appears and tells Maxim he is a destined warrior who will defeat a great evil. Tia joins him and the adventure begins. Lufia 1 players know that by the end of the game he will have met Selena, married her, and had a child, so at least this beginning does provide some unknown direction for the story to travel.

There are some other people that join in the story — not only Tia, but also Hidekker the warrior and Lexas the scientist. They’re only around for a bit, though. The story is OK, though nothing groundbreaking beyond the fact that you know the main characters will die at the end (if you played Lufia 1 — I guess it’s a bigger surprise if you didn’t). Some of the dialogue in the ending is a bit garbled in the translation because they were not able to refer to the Sinistrals as “gods”.

The battle system is fairly standard RPG. The only innovation is the IP system. Many of the weapons and armor have IP skills that you can activate with IP points that you earn by getting hit in battle. Sometimes it’s better to equip weaker equipment that has good IP abilities (like the ones that restore MP or give you 3-5 attacks).

 

The interface is clean and easy to use, and the walking speed is fast.

Definitely the most distinctive and memorable aspect of this game is the dungeon design and puzzles. Every dungeon is full of puzzles that involve switches, moving platforms, pillars, warp tiles, and other things. You gain a variety of items (arrow, bomb, hookshot, etc.) that help you solve the puzzles. Many of them are optional and lead to treasure chests, and a counter at the end shows how many you found. You can even try the “hardest puzzle in the world” at one point.

 

The first time I had to consult a walkthrough, it was for a puzzle that had a bunch of routes in a room that all led to warps, but one was a door. The door is shut, and there’s no clues for what to do. I looked at a GameFAQs walkthrough and didn’t see any mention of it. Finally I consulted a Japanese walkthrough and found out this was based on Amidakuji, which I’ve heard of but didn’t know it well enough to recognize the puzzle.

It turns out the puzzle was removed in the English version, but rather than simply making the door open they replaced it with new puzzles having to do with colored blocks — an impressive effort by the localization team. There was one other puzzle replaced in the English version:

The room starts out with the black squares forming an X and you have to change it so the O is black instead. Japanese people have a much stronger association with “X = wrong, O = correct” than we do, and the localizers must have felt that with no hints, this would be impossible to solve. For this one they just removed the puzzle and left an empty room.

 

For the most part I found the puzzles fair and well-designed; even the few times I had to consult a walkthrough I felt that I should have been able to work the solution out on my own. There is a pretty wide variety as well, and they’re always sure to throw in an easy puzzle or two in every dungeon so you don’t always feel like you’re banging your head against the wall.

Also the designers made the excellent decision to eschew random encounters (except on the world map) and replace them with monsters on the map. This reduces a lot of potential frustration.

The game also has “capsule monsters”. You find them at various points in the game and then can feed them various weapons and items to grow them into different forms. You don’t control them in battle. I found this was the weakest part of the system — especially once you get a bunch of them, growing them just involves visiting different shops (or going to Forfeit Island) and buying items to feed them. It’s repetitive and boring; I gave up once I got them to their third forms.

Finally, there is a good amount of optional content in the game. Not just finding all the chests, but there’s also a casino, and the Ancient Dungeon. This is a 99 floor dungeon that works like a Torneko/roguelike game. You can’t bring in most items and you’ll lose most of what you have when you leave, although there are some blue chests in the dungeon that have good items you can take out. You can easily spend more time on this than the entire main quest. There are also Dragon Eggs you can find throughout the world which you can trade in for bonuses.

I missed 42 chests so I could have done a lot more.

But overall this is a great game; it’s one of the best I’ve played so far on the blog and it’s well worth all the hype it gets.

Next up will be a SRPG (Nage Libre) which was released the same day as Lufia II. I’ll be covering it on the other blog.

SFC Game List (1995, January through March)

I’ve completed 1994! That’s the longest year; the Super Famicom now enters a slow decline. 1995 still has a fair number of games. 1996 has noticeably fewer games, although there are a good number of high quality ones. 1997 is where you really see most of the companies abandoning the platform, leaving just a few games to trickle out until 2000(!) when the system finally dies.

There are no new RPGs in January, perhaps because of the post-Christmas lull. Here are all the games I picked up identified as RPGs in various sources. The ones I will play are in bold. (See this list for links to the SRPG posts.

  • Majin Tensei II – SRPG, already played on my other blog.
  • Estopolis Denki II (i.e. Lufia II) – I’m looking forward to this. I’ve started it twice in the past but not played past the first few hours.
  • Farland Story – crappy SRPG.
  • Front Mission – SRPG
  • Nage Libre – I had initially missed this on my SRPG playthroughs. After I play Estopolis Denki II I will do Nage Libre on my other blog.
  • Eternal Firena
  • Last Bible III – I have played the first two for the Game Boy; they were OK but nothing special.
  • Chrono Trigger – Great game but I’ve already played it plenty of times. Interesting to see it occur here. I think of this as a very late SNES release, but when I reach here I will be at 72 out of 130 games so it’s just a bit over the middle.
  • Love Quest
  • Nekketsu Tairiku Burning Heroes
  • Super Robot Taisen 4 – SRPG
  • Dragon Ball Z: Super Goku-Den, Totsugeki Hen – This does not really look like an RPG to me, although it has RPG elements. It also looks to me like it relies heavily on knowing the story of the manga. There’s also a translation patch.
  • Esparks
  • Kyuuyaku Megami Tensei — this is a remake of the NES Megami Tensei games. I played it some years ago and have no desire to replay it. It really shows its age; most of the game is just exploring empty, featureless dungeons.
  • RPG School Super Dante – This is just a creation kit, not a game. 
  • Dragon Knight and Graffiti (PCE) – One of the seven remaining PCE games. It’s a remake of the original Dragon Knight; I probably won’t finish it. 

One interesting detail is how few RPGs got translations after this point. I think this was partly because the US was quicker to abandon the SNES than Japan. With my tentative list of games, I have 61 games left to play. Of these 61, only four came out in English: Lufia II, Chrono Trigger, Terranigma (only in Europe), and Super Mario RPG. These are all strong games to be sure, but I feel that in the last years of the SFC, more good games got left in Japan than in the earlier period.

SFC Game 69 – Dual Orb II

Dual Orb 2 (デュアルオーブ2)
Released 12/29/1994, published by I’Max

 

Dual Orb 1 was complete garbage, one of the worst games I’ve played so far for this blog. I was not looking forward to the sequel. Fortunately it’s considerably better than the first one — it’s still average, perhaps below average, but at least it’s playable. The developer I’MAX mostly did Mahjong, Shogi, and other gambling games; the Dual Orb games seem to be their only foray into RPGs. The game has a translation patch so you can give it a try.

The system is pretty basic DQ2 style. The main distinctive feature is the weapons; rather than buying new weapons you mostly upgrade them in towns. Each character has only 1-3 weapons they can ever get in the game; beyond that you have to find +X versions or upgrade them at a blacksmith. +20 is the maximum and if you get it that far you get a special move you can do with the weapon when you’re in critical health. The cost goes up drastically as the +X gets higher but the better the blacksmith is, the cheaper it is to upgrade. You can also find already upgraded versions in dungeons but they might also be cursed -1 weapons (you don’t know until you equip it).

This is an interesting system but I don’t think it’s implemented particularly well. You will not get any weapons to +20 (or even close) without doing a lot of end-game grinding for money. 

The random encounter rate is high; not as high as Last Battle or some of the other games like that, but high enough to be annoying. The balance on the whole is not good. Enemies do a lot of damage, even grunt units. Bosses frequently require a lot of grinding to beat just because they hit so hard it’s impossible to survive — particularly when they have hit-all spells (there’s no heal-all spell), and they can often take multiple turns for your one.

Here’s the intro from Arcadia’s Gamefaqs walkthrough:

A dragon appears in the night sky, intent on destroying all it
sees. Elsewhere, a man and a woman, Alex and Sera try desperately
to stop it. With no other option left, they decide to use their
final plan, the Orb. Alex activates the Orb, sacrificing himself
in the process, but also destroying the dragon.

Many years later, a man, walks through the snow, carrying a baby
he found. The man is a priest of Kaleid, on his way back from a
training journey, in order to be promoted to High Priest. He shows
the baby to the King. While he was walking in the Coriander
mountains,a group of white-clad people suddenly appeared, gave the
baby to him, along with a strange crucifix, then disappeared. The
king looks at the crucifix and wonders of the strange people were
sent from God. The High Priest has decided to keep him, and names
him Ales. The King brings his son, Ragnas, and shows him the baby,
insisting that they grow up to be friends. He sends the soldier to
spread the news of the High Priest's promotion and prepare to
celebrate.

...

Several years later, and old man [Hardwick] awakens on a table, surrounded by
a scientist and three others. The leader, Oldras, rejoices, having
succeeded in his plans. This man is the key to their finally
gaining the power of the ancient relics...

You begin with Ales, who is training with the king’s son Ragnas. After a brief sparring match they head home but are ambushed by thieves — fortunately a bard Cornelius comes in to save them.

 

After returning, it turns out Cornelius is from Highlandia, which is being attacked by a foreign nation that is unearthing ancient technology. He wants to find the ancient ruins before they can do so. The King decides that Ales and Ragnas should go with him. Ales has healing spells but also attacks decently, and Ragnas is just a fighter.
 

It takes a while to get any good weapons — you start off with wooden sticks that don’t do much. Until I found the spear in the first dungeon I basically had to run from everything. One general annoyance about this game is that they often like leaving you in situations where you can’t buy anything or use an Inn.

We find a green jewel and the girl Sara from the opening, although she doesn’t remember anything but her name. The priests in town thinks she’s a goddess because the jewel is glowing, and it only does that in the presence of the goddess. We also learn that the Red, Blue, and Green jewels are around the world and can unite to form the Orb.  Sara joins the party; she’s also a healer and attacks with guns — her weapons cannot be upgraded, but you find new ones in ruins. She tends to be a pretty good attacker if she can survive.

Meanwhile Hardwick has attacked Kaleid. We try to save the King but he gets killed; all we can do is escape and head back to the ruins where there’s a suit of armor that hears Ragnas’ cry for help, and bonds with him. Now he can cast magic, which his helpful (he has a def buff and some elemental spells). Hardwick tries to stop us but Cornelius holds them off while we escape.

Our next goal is the nearby kingdom of Corodos, which is allied with Kaleid and should help us. But we need the help of our next player character Saladin to get through a forest. Saladin is also a combo fighter-mage.

Unfortunately Corodos refuses to help because they’re too busy fighting off goblins from the SW ruins, which is odd since goblins usually don’t want anything but food. There’s also a mysterious masked figure, and once we find out that the “goblins” are actually the Gurica tribe of demihumans, it’s obvious the masked man is controlling Corodos. One of the Gurica (Najif) joins temporarily in place of Sara.

We get back to Corodos but the king already knows about the Gurica, and he’s the one who sent the army against Kaleid. We beat him up, and then destroy the staff that the masked figure was using to control everyone. Now that all that has been dealt with it’s time to go to the ruins.

This ruin is like the other one, with advanced technology, a boss guardian, and this time the Red jewel, which joins with the green. Back at the Gurica village Sara has recovered but the masked figure is back. He tries to kill us but Saladin is able to fight him off with a spell (he seems to have a hidden identity). Although Saladin stops the dude from killing us, he kidnaps Sara.

We’re not sure where Sara is, but time to cross the sea — this is the usual “get a ship” part of the RPG. Cornelius returns; turns out he’s a spy and can show us the way to the hidden spy city (which moves). Unfortunately Hardwick is already there and tries to kill us, but Ragnas agrees to go with him (he wants Ragnas’ armor). Hardwick decides to kill us anyway, but the power of the jewels teleports us away to a mysterious mountain.

We go down the mountain and head for a port to take a ship. We run into another future party member Carline, who is trying to rescue her brother from pirates. Since Cardosa is blocking the sea we can’t really get across anyway so we decide to help her find her brother. This involves hunting down the pirates and beating them up, although we get involved in a fight between rival pirates in the process.

There’s a part where you have to do a puzzle to push casks into specific areas; it’s actually a somewhat challenging puzzle and is not optional.

Eventually we recover Elliot and reach the friendly pirates’ location, Gadmos, which is actually a giant turtle. It also turns out that Elliot and Carline are the children of the King of Highlandia, so that’s a nice ally to get. We also learn in Highlandia some of the past lore — if the three jewels come together they can make an Orb. This Orb can help us defeat the ancient weapon that Hardwick is trying to unearth, which seems to be a flying fortress.

We head out to Gassa to try to form an alliance, and there find the third jewel. This is the toughest dungeon so far, with a guardian that does an enormous amount of damage. There are shops in Gassa but they’re hard to find and I didn’t know they existed until after I finished the dungeon. Fortunately there is a heal spring in the dungeon, so I just used that to grind about 10 levels until I had Full Heal on Ales. 

Afterwards we get the third jewel and also learn more about the past; Sara and Alex (in the opening) were fighting against Chandra, who is Alex’s friend. Alex sends Sara to the future to help future generations deal with Chandra while he stops him (temporarily) with the orb. There’s also a lot of side stories here (I’m just touching the broad elements of the story; it’s more complex than this). The mages of Gassa then send us back to Kaleid, where we started.

The high priest in Kaleid gives Ales a cross and sends us to Coriander mountain to learn the truth about Ales. There, we find another advanced technology tower and a hologram from Alex. Alex tells us about Chandra, who misused the technology to almost destroy the world, and it was only the Orb that saved the world. Now Ales (a clone of Alex) and Sara have to use the Orb again to defeat Chandra. 

We now get a flying Ornithopter (buried by Alex) and can go anywhere in the (small) world. There’s a town Cronheit that has the cheapest blacksmith in the game, although it still costs a huge amount of money to upgrade any weapons to max. But the next destination is Hardos, which Hardwick has attacked. Unfortunately Carlina has been captured so it’s time to save her, vs another tough boss fight.

This is another time when you get stuck with no shops, and have to do a lot of grinding. The enemies just hit too hard and too fast to do otherwise — there’s a spell that paralyzes enemies that works on the robot grunts but even with that you can get hit really hard. Buffs stack, so often if you just keep casting the def+ and mag+ over and over again you can get to the point where your defense is finally high enough to withstand some attacks, and Saladin can do 9999 with his spells. At this point if you also have Full Recovery and Full Heal, it’s possible to beat the enemies. Around level 50 is enough to win the rest of the fights in the game through this method, if you also grind money to level up your weapons. I will admit that I got frustrated enough that I used a money code to upgrade my weapons because I had done so much grinding in the game already and I was not looking forward to the prospect of even more grinding (I didn’t do this until the final dungeon, though).

Anyway, next up is the flying fortress that destroyed Hardos. There’s another tough enemy here, but the aforementioned strategy works.

Ragnas is with Hardwick at the top — he seems to have been corrupted to evil now. The Armor that he found early in the game is actually a vessel for Chandra to return. There’s yet another difficult combat against Oldras, one of Hardwick’s generals, which you have to fight with only 3 guys.

If you want to earn money legitimately, go to Cardosa to fight gold beetles for cash — it’s time for the final dungeon.

The final fight is Ragnas; first you have to fight him in several forms (the buff strategy works fine on this and the final boss).

Then Chandra (with the regular battle music!)

And that’s the game.

The story is the best part of the game; I just sketched the outline above but there are a lot of sideplots and background for the various characters. It doesn’t seem to have any connection to Dual Orb 1 and I’m not even sure why this is “dual” orb since there’s only one orb in this game. There is a translation patch as well.

The gameplay could be a lot better, though. The game balance forces a lot of grinding, which I never like, and as I said above I think the weapon upgrade system is flawed. I barely got to use the special attacks except at the very end of the game, and even then you can only use them when you’re in critical HP and it’s very easy to get killed by the enemies. There is a good XP code that just gives you max XP after a battle (raising you 2-3 levels); this allows you to skip some of the grinding without having totally overpowered characters.

So this is light years better than Dual Orb 1, but it’s still a flawed game in many ways.

Next up is a PCE game and then we’re done with 1994!

SFC Game 68 – Haou Taikei Ryu Knight

Hao Taikei Ryu Knight: Lord of Paladin (覇王大系リューナイト)
12/22/1994, released by Bandai


Ryu Knight is an anime series that started in early 1994 and was still running when this game came out. It’s a mech anime that’s based on fantasy role playing games, with “class changes” and class-ups, and clear RPG-style character classes for the main characters. I encountered the series in Super Robot Taisen NEO for the Wii but I don’t remember a whole lot about it. The story of the game does not directly follow either the anime or OVA.

It begins with Adeu, a knight, receiving the Ryu mech from a mysterious sage who tells him to seek the Earth Blade and win a great tournament to become the Lord of Paladin. I’m not sure how the TV series works, but Adeu seems to already know the other characters (Paffy the mage, Izumi the priest, Sarutobi the ninja).

The game is an action RPG with some open world-style content. There are 12 areas you can go at the beginning, each one with an anime-style episode name. You can visit most of them right off the start, although you won’t necessarily be able to do anything there — sometimes to make events happen in one area you have to do something in another area. This can be confusing and it can be hard to know what to do to progress unless you’re taking careful notes.

Some of the areas, quests, or dungeons are optional, but I’m not exactly sure what is required to win the game. There’s a clear final event and there’s at least one event you have to do before that, but one walkthrough I looked at said you needed to do “all events” before the final one will open — I don’t completely know what they mean by that, because there was one area I never found out how to get into and I didn’t do everything.

I started off with the first area. One thing you notice immediately in the first town is how expensive the weapons and armor are — the store is selling 10,000 gold equipment. You start with 1000 gold and get very little gold in the early areas. Enemies do not drop gold, you only get it from chests and finishing missions. This brings on immediate worry that you need to scrape together every coin, never stay at an inn or buy unnecessary stuff, etc.

But, this is a mistaken idea. The equipment the stores are selling are special weapons and armor that you never need to get. The main way you upgrade your equipment is by “fixing” your armor or “tempering” your weapon. This doesn’t seem to do anything when you first do it, but when you reach level 11, 21, 31, etc. you “class change”. At this point you can do the tempering/fixing and after 2-3 tries (at 100 gold each) it will upgrade to a stronger form (I think the GameFAQs faq author who never finished the game did not know this; I hope it was in the instruction manual). So you really don’t have to save money as much as you might think; I never ended up buying the special weapons and had over 100,000 gold at the end of the game.

You can also buy items. Some of them are the usual cure items, but others are equippable things that give effects like periodic heal, walk on air, jump off platforms, etc.

I started out in the first place they put you. It’s a western style town.

The sheriff wants me to deal with some bandits. When I left the town, I was almost immediately confronted with one of the 3D sections. These are action scenes where you have to try to kill the other mech. I lost 4 or 5 times and then looked for a web page to tell me how to play. It turns out you should charge up an attack, which does take a bit of HP off but it’s easier to hit and does more damage. With that I defeated him and got an emblem on my status screen. I’m not sure what the purpose of these are; I think you can get 6 of them during the game for defeating various people but they have no clear effect.

Now that he’s gone, I can experience the 2D action system.

It’s a pretty basic ARPG; you have an attack and jump button. There are some special attacks you can do but I never used any of them (either I couldn’t get them to activate or they seemed worse than the basic attack). When you defeat enemies, you get some XP and they give off a bunch of crystals that give more XP. An annoyance is that you can’t see your current HP without going to the status screen.

As you can see in the above screenshot, you can also summon Ryu. This allows you to beat the enemies fairly easily. However, Ryu is large and often gets stuck in areas, and you get much less XP fighting as Ryu. So I tried to do it as little as possible.

Afterwards I headed up to the NE of this area where some more thieves attacked me, bringing up another 3D fight. This guy is pretty easy because he stops for a while and you can bash him with the charge attacks. Another emblem, and some rewards from the townsfolk.

The second area has just a few sidequests that are pretty easy and make you good money, including beating up some thieves and delivering a letter. Katse the merchant joins, but I don’t see the point of her since she doesn’t fight and leaves later.

The third area is just an elf village and nothing of interest, so I moved on to the fourth. In this area the Dwarves have lost their voice from a dragon. I had to go back to the first area to find a magician to release the dragon, and then beat it (with Ryu) to restore the dwarves.

The fifth area has Freedel and a secret magic guild; I have to find out who is hunting them and defeat them. Doing so has Izumi the priest join. I was never able to figure out how to get him (or Paffy) to use their spells. There’s something in the menu that looks like you are able to select spells and it shows the MP cost, but no matter what buttons I pressed nothing would happen, and so all my party members just followed me for the whole game.

Place 6 and 7 have nothing right now.  I was never able to enter Place 8; there’s apparently some frog town there but when I try to go to it, nothing happens.

Place 9 has the very rich Mithril Town, but the goblins have stolen their Mithril Ring. This quest has the first 3D battle in a while, and I earn another emblem for defeating the Goblin mech.

Place 10 is Paffy’s kingdom, and she is missing. There’s not much of a clue to where she is, but we’ll try to find her. It turns out she’s back in place 7, in a village with a bunch of big ape things (who don’t attack, Paffy just joins up when I find her — I must have actually done this before the mithril town as you can see above).

Sarutobi joins in place 11, giving me the full party. He’s the best person to control because he has shurikens, and when they get upgraded they can go in multiple directions or home in on the enemy.


At this point there were still some things I hadn’t done, but I headed back to Paffy’s kingdom to start the final series of events. Paffy gets kidnapped by Galden, one of the villains from the series (I guess?). They’re looking for the gem she has on the end of her staff, although they don’t know that’s what they’re looking for (they just think she knows where it is). Galden is in Freedell Castle, and there’s another 3D battle.

Now we return Paffy and the king opens up the way to the tournament area (why is it so hard to reach?) I misunderstood the dialogue and ended up in an optional castle where I could never find a warp tile that you can see in there but not reach. But the XP is really good here so I managed to get up to level 58 (well beyond the final armor/weapon upgrade). Finally I figured out the warp you’re supposed to use is actually back in Pafresia castle. This sends you to the clouds, where you need an item to walk around.

 

This whale thing takes us to the teleporter up to the tournament area, which is in a featureless room with no spectators (does this make more sense in the anime?)

 

There are 5 3D fights in a row here. I think because I had levelled up so much in that castle, I was overpowered and they were all pretty easy. Then Ryu becomes the Lord of Paladin and has to fight the final boss, a dragon that threatens the whole world. He was easy too.

 

The closing sequence has the longest list of “special thanks to” I’ve ever seen in a game credits — I don’t know who all these people are but there are at least 100 names on the list, so many that they have to divide it into sections based on spelling.

Then you get a results sheet that shows the emblems you got, the damage received and dealt out, and which special moves you used in the 3D battles.

Overall this game was OK but seemed half-baked in a lot of places. It does allow for a large amount of freedom, although that does come with the downside that sometimes it can be hard to tell what you’re supposed to do, and the flags that enable you to do events or quests are sometimes obscure. The story is a little confusing and seems to assume that you already know the basics of the anime (which is common in these IP games). 

Next up is Fangs of Alnam, a notoriously bug-ridden PC Engine game.

SFC Game 67 – Daikaiju Monogatari (Part 2, finished)

So at the end of the last post we had beaten Fat Badger but now the alien Gyab Far has appeared to take his place as the villain. With the help of Dr. Deep and the Great Gnome, we learn that Gyab Far really wants the Aura Ball (the real one, not the fake one that was holding the robot). To get the Aura Ball we have a nested fetch quest — get the Combo Shell from the Aura Dragon in the Valley of Eternity, which we can get by finding the four Shell Dragons in the world. But to get there we need a submarine, which unfortunately has been stolen.

Also the robot is able to get a vision of what’s happening on Gyab Far’s ship, which is pretty gruesome:

 

First up I recovered my companions and reequipped them, and went back to the Seaman village to find the stolen submarine. It was just stolen by some random pirates that are easy to beat.

Now with the Submarine we can go anywhere in the water, including Guardian Island in the SW (there are some other places you can go now as well — there are a lot of hidden items and optional content in the game but the high random encounter rate often discouraged me from getting it.)

Underneath the Guardian Island, the Red Dragon marks the four locations of the elemental dragons on our map. They’re near the four corners of the map, and each one requires doing some kind of dungeon and then beating the dragon.

Once you beat a dragon, you can then summon it for 60 MP, which is quite helpful in beating the other dragons (anyone can summon them). The last one is Red Dragon, but when I returned to him, monsters have killed everyone in the island. I beat Red Dragon and then he tells me about the Valley of Eternity, which is below the earth. It also turns out that this woman Kushura who has been appearing here and there in the game is actually Gyab Far’s daughter, Gujo, who was tailing us to find out about the Valley. She manages to capture Kurisu, so the next part of the game has to be done without him.

I replaced him with Mag, who is the only other character with the town warp spell. The goal is to save Kurisu from the Bio Base where Gujo is keeping him to run experiments on him and perhaps sap his life force for food for Gyab Far and his minions.

By recovering a bug from the northern cold area and bringing it back, it will eat all the nasty plants blocking the Bio Base.

The Bio Base is a grisly place; as you go through it you find trapped humans, many of whom beg you to kill them because they’re being tortured and kept for food.

Gujo herself comes out, and has to be beaten without magic.

She’s confused by why we care so much about Kurisu, but after she runs away we can rescue him and get rid of Mag. The bug also grows into a moth that can fly around and carry us — allowing us to return back to Shell Island where the game started.

Here we have to fight the Great Shell Dragon, but with all the four summons (and Linda’s heal all full spell) he doesn’t put up much of a fight. He joins as well (only Kurisu can use him) and we go down into the earth as Gyab Far’s forces attack the town.

This area has a series of puzzles you have to solve to move on, which is a nice break from the usual dungeons (unfortunately there are still random encounters, and the enemies here are quite annoying — they have all kinds of weird, nasty attacks and you have to heal a lot. Fortunately there are heal fountains.)

Now we are in the Lost Continent. We have to find passwords from the two villages here to enter the Valley. The best thing is one of the villages sells Magic Cubes (restore all MP) for very cheap; buying 99 of these lets you continuously restore Kurisu’s MP to cast Grand Shell Dragon over and over again, which was my main tactic for the remaining fights.

Once we get the passwords and open the Valley, Aura Dragon appears and challenges us.

He’s strong, but with the 99 magic cubes it’s not too hard to beat him. Now we have the real Aura Ball! Dr Deep upgrades the sub to go down to the deepest areas, and we can finally visit Gyab Far’s lair.

As is usual for final dungeons, this one is fairly long and has multiple sub bosses in it.

Gujo takes her final stand, but then regrets her actions and discovers the power of love! Only to have Gyab Far kill her. Gyab Far himself is a huge bug, so I guess all the “sucking out the life force of humans” makes sense.

He has two forms. I used the same strategy — Grand Shell Dragon with Kurisu, Zardon attacks (with Powered), Bub mostly restores Kurisu’s MP, and Linda defends until she needs to do a heal all. 

The world (universe?) is saved and everyone returns to their lives. Everyone wants Kurisu to stay but the fire shell transports him away (back to his home I guess).

Overall this is pretty good. The random encounter rate did get to be a problem for me, and I avoided a lot of the hidden items and some optional areas because I didn’t want to deal with it. But the story is decent and everything plays smoothly. We’ll be back for the second entry near the end of the blog. Next up is the ARPG Ryu Knight (which I actually just finished before I wrote this post).

SFC Game 67 – Daikaiju Monogatari (Part 1)

Daikaiju Monogatari (大貝獣物語)
Released 12/22/1994, published by Hudson


This is a followup to the 1988 Famicom game Kaiju Monogatari. The title is probably meant to play on 怪獣 (e.g. Godzilla, Mothra), but the first kanji is replaced with the kanji for “shell”. It looks like it is set up as a direct sequel, with a new “fire shell” hero but some of the same supporting characters, and the same villain Fat Badger. (The Wikipedia article claims this is not a direct sequel, so it may just be that the names and setting are reused). There’s a sequel (Daikaiju Monogatari II) which will be one of the last games I play for this blog.

There is a fan patch for the game, unfortunately it’s marred by an excessive freedom — there are numerous references to pop culture, as well as multiple right-wing rants against the Affordable Care Act, taxes, regulations, Socialism, etc. It’s a shame because (so far) this is one of the better games I’ve played on the system and it deserves a better translation than the one we got.

The game begins with something coming down from space, causing tsunami sweeping the world as well as other natural disasters (comets, etc.). It also appears that Fat Badger will return.

So a wise man calls forth the Fire Shell Hero, who you name (Kurisu). Despite being summoned out of nowhere he decides to take on the task. The man sent out some other people too but they get separated. Kurisu takes a ship but is immediately wrecked at Chikri Village, which is then attacked by robot soldiers. Kurisu hides while the town is destroyed (great start for the hero!)

Afterwards, Kurisu sets out. The villagers remaining have some basic stuff to sell you, and then we begin. One complaint about this game is the high encounter rate — it’s nowhere near as bad as Last Battle, Monster Maker 3, and some of the other games I’ve played. I’m conditioned to accept mediocre as great, I guess?

 

The battle system is basic but works fine. One nice feature is that you can set up four strategies where you pick a command for each character and then they will execute it. So I made a “fight” strategy that picks fight for everyone, which speeds things up — along with the emulator speedup it makes the encounter rate not so bad.

The battle graphics look nice too. Unfortunately I got poisoned in the first battle and didn’t have enough money for an antidote so I had to reset — levelling is quick in the beginning. I headed down to Sandside.

In Sandside we learn that the Aura Ball, which we need, is in possession of Doglar. Also here you can form a party with various characters. I took Zardon (basically a fighter), Linda (priest), and Babu (can use boomerangs which hit all people, and some buff magic). Linda has the incredibly useful Angel Song ability, which costs no MP and uses sleep on all enemies plus kills undead. I’m over halfway through the game as I type this and I’m still using it constantly (I have a 3 fight + angel song strategy set up).

The interface on the whole is OK. There’s no item limit, you can see the stats of equipment and who will benefit when you buy it, and there is a “best” option in equip. The only wrinkle to me is that you can’t see who can equip an item from the item menu, and you can’t L and R to switch characters in the equip screen. But compared to the horrid interfaces in a lot of these games this is a minor complaint.

I also rescued a thief from a well. In addition to the party members you can get “helpers” that perform various tasks — let you climb areas with a rope, view the surrounding area, increase the encounter rate (haha), and other things.

We set out for an underground passage to other parts of the continent (the asteroids and tsunami have destroyed a lot of the bridges). Coming to Bridgetown, we learn that Doglar definitely has the Aura Ball, and continue on to the waterfall cave. An herbalist joins up and has a special potion; very suspicious but I drank it. We came across Piggy, who can get rid of boulders, but then the herbalist turns out to be a follower of Doglar and attacks. We start poisoned, but he’s not too hard.

Doglar himself is in the next dungeon; we overhear him talking to a mysterious woman. But she’s not actually there so we fight Doglar.

He’s got a pretty nasty all attack, but with speed/defense buffs and some healing I took him down. Now I have the Aura Ball, and freed all the girls that Doglar captured. Continuing on, I came to Lamir, which is one of the outlying towns of Dorado City where we can probably find Fat Badger. But all the bridges are broken and there’s no way to get there. Lamir itself was totally destroyed by asteroids. You can free a slave here for 5000 pearls (I didn’t have the money then but I came back later. She just leaves on her own; I don’t know if this does anything later).

The next actual destination is the Seaman Temple.

A huge fish comes in and captures the chieftan, but once we beat the fish, we receive the Water Shell (we started with the Fire Shell so that’s 2 of the 4; these are somehow connected to defeating Fat Badger but it’s not clear yet how.)

My notes aren’t clear here so I don’t know why this opens up a new area — I know you have to find a crystal in the next mountain area and get a blacksmith to forge a sword to free people from the cocoons that the robot attackers put them in. Anyway, once you do this, one of the people freed is Milmy. She’s one of four sisters that is the daughter of the Great Gnome and a human. We need to seek out the Great Gnome to find out more about Dorado City.

In the next area, we come across a tree full of mask-wearing people. The tree is sick, and the medicine needed to cure it is in Sandler city to the south. There, Zenim (a former underling of Doglar) has made himself rich off the backs of the people. He offers us a nice place to stay but of course it’s another trap. I was not clear on how we escape this, but the screen goes black and we find ourselves in the poor area of town. From here it’s time to put an end to Zenim. Apparently he has a magic book and armor that protects him. His mansion dungeon is fairly long, and the key item comes from a little kid who gives us a water pistol. For some reason this nullifies Zenim’s armor.

Zenim begs for his life after being defeated, but when I spared it he just attacked again. This time he dies for good. We get the medicine for the tree (healing it doesn’t seem to have any immediate effect on the story). Perhaps more importantly, Zenim had the shell ship that Kurisu sailed out on in the beginning. With that, we can sail around the shallow areas of the world map.

I jumped to the next continent, where one of the other Four Sisters in Mosswood makes me some protective equipment to cross the snowy mountains to where Great Gnome lives.

Oh right, you can also found your own town and build stuff in it, and name it.

Great Gnome’s house is across the mountains, but unfortunately he’s sick. The person that can heal him is Fairy — I had apparently missed her all the way back in the second dungeon, where I took a right instead of a left and missed the chest she was in. She also gives the hero use of special abilities. But with her help, Great Gnome has the potential of being healed, but we have to get a remedy from a bird village. There, five stone heads send me on a quest to get 5 items (just basic items you can buy at shops).

Once Great Gnome is back up, he gives us an item to melt a snowdrift that will let us pass through a dungeon to Dorad City. On the way, the Aura Ball breaks, releasing a robot that immediately bonds to Kurisu. Also along the way, Korikot, another one of the sisters, heads back to Great Gnome’s house. There, Great Gnome tells us we can combine the 4 shells into a Combine Shell that will help us defeat Fat Badger. He gives me a map that shows where the other shells are. One can be gotten just by getting Genji, the fisherman, to dive into a lake and grab it. The other involves a dungeon.

This is a prison island, where one of the prisoners found the Earth Shell and used it to gain power. But he’s pretty easy to beat up.

Now with the 4 shells, Great Gnome creates the Combine Shell. We also learn that the Love Sword will be necessary to defeat Fat Badger, but fortunately it’s in Dorad City, where we can finally reach now. Dorad City has encounters in it, and just an inn for services.

This is another relatively long dungeon. It’s filled with creepy statues and pink goo. We need the Love Sword to remove a barrier before the throne, and finally Fat Badger appears.

You can’t hurt him until you use the Combine Shell. He’s pretty easy, actually, although you do have to fight him twice. I think in general the high random encounter rate and relatively quick advancement make the bosses pretty easy.

So that’s the end of the game!

No, of course not. Now a UFO comes down and Gyag Far declares himself the ruler of the universe. He tried to revive Fat Badger and will now show us just a bit of his power.

He fires a huge beam at Shellland which destroys continents and sinks much of the world underwater. How will we defeat Gyag Far!?!? Join us next time.

So this is actually a good game! The story is surprisingly dark (at least in what happens; all the characters are pretty cutesy) and it’s easy to play. I’m looking forward to the second half(?) of the game to see how it concludes. School is starting again so I may have a bit less time to play than I did during the summer, but I’ll keep the weekly updates going.

SFC Game 66 – The Last Battle

The Last Battle (ザラストバトル)
Released 12/2/1994, published by Teichiku 
 

  

Commenter Carlos warned me about this game a little while back, and he was right. This is by now a familiar story — a game with some good ideas, which are torpedoed by bad design. The three most common bad design features are all present here: cumbersome interface, ridiculous random encounter rate, and bad game balance. Sometimes the game remains playable and average, but in this case I think The Last Battle is one of the worst games I’ve played so far.

Many Japanese sites seem to regard this as a スルメゲー, literally “squid game”, named because squid gets better the more you chew it (supposedly). These kind of games are garbage at first, but once you get used to the system and figure things out, it gets more interesting. I personally never found that to be the case, but usually the Japanese players agree with my labels of kusoge. In this case it seems like there are some people who like the game, so maybe you should give it a try?

Anyway, on to the game. It was developed by three studios working together, and some of the designers worked on games like Metal Max, Jungle Wars, and Shin Momotaro Densetsu, so you wouldn’t expect it to be bad. But the development was delayed several times, and maybe all the different cooks never worked well together. It was released by Teichiku, which is a music/record company and only ventured into video games a couple of times.

 

The game begins by asking your name, and then introducing the main character Kult. One bizarre decision in this game is that his name is クルト (Kult) and the evil empire is グルド (Guld) — I thought maybe they were going for something there, but as far as I can tell there’s no reason for them to have such similar names.

So why did we put in our name? It turns out that at 16 years old, people undergo a coming of age test, and then receive their true name in secret. They need that true name in order to use magic. So the beginning of the game has Kult doing this test, which involves recovering an item from a nearby cave. First Kult can buy and equip some things. The walking speed is very slow, and the interface for everything is quite cumbersome. To equip something you have to do A->item->equip->Kult->dagger->Kult, and the opening of each menu is fairly slow. This is a huge problem with the game and really unacceptable for late 1994.

On the way to the cave, you’ll meet the first encounters, and find that this is another auto-battle game. At least in this one you can issue commands (through a typically slow interface) and there are some AI settings. But I continue to not particularly like the way these systems work. You can never get the people to do what you want to do, and they move into danger and do stupid things (trying to command them all in every battle would be a nightmare).

You will also discover that the random encounter rate is ridiculous. Even among the SFC games I’ve played, which generally have high encounter rates, this one stands out. 

I also died in my third battle in the cave, so I also discovered very early on that the game balance is not good. This game required more grinding than any other game I’ve played up to now, and that’s with the fact that you already fight a ton of battles just going through the dungeons. I think emulator speedup is a must for this game. You can hold down the Y button to make the battles go a bit faster as well.

I leveled up a bit and then went into the cave. With a few levels and Kult’s cure spell, the dungeon isn’t so bad. One odd thing about this game is that enemies don’t drop money. Instead, you get “jewel bags” every so often from the enemies that you can sell. This is annoying because the inventory space is limited — not as severely as some games, but there’s no item stacking and you need a free inventory space to be able to equip things, so it can get frustrating.

When you get back to the village, Guld has attacked. This is the first appearance of a common gameplay element — you have to avoid (or fight if you want) the soldiers on the map and make your way to a boss. Once you beat the boss, the you win against Guld and the area is freed.

After this, the mayor sends Kult up to Silveil Castle to deliver a letter saying they were attacked. There, Kult meets captain Yuri as well as the elf Mei. Mei joins the party and there’s another war event as Guld attacks the castle; some birdmen have managed to breach the walls. The dialogue indicates that you will fight the birdmen while the other soldiers will take care of the other enemies, but in fact the bird enemies are endless and you have to make your way to the boss like normal (who is not a birdman). After that, we have to escape the castle and leave Yuri to an uncertain fate.

Mei is an annoying companion because it’s so hard to keep her away from the enemies. Even if she casts a spell against the enemies she runs into the middle of them. So she dies a lot.

From here we head to Febenels’ house, a mage who helped out at the beginning. He decides that we should become full fledged magic users, which requires undergoing a trial in a nearby tower. It has a bunch of puzzles to complete; this is the only dungeon in the game that has any construction other than rooms and chests.

Once this is complete, we get access to the magic crafting system. This is one of the original aspects of the game. There are 4 different types of mana (earth, fire, water, air) and by combining them you get new spells. For instance, Water + Earth gives you a lightning spell. By varying the amount of each type of mana you put in (1-100), you change the area of effect, damage, and MP cost of the spell. There are also three special items in the game that allow you to make special spells like Escape and Teleport.

Although this system is interesting, the main problem with it is how long it takes to build up the mana needed to create good spells. You only ever get a tiny amount from a battle (1-2 of a couple of types) and so building up a good stock of spells is a hassle.

After the tower we get our other two companions — Bolg, a “yak” (sort of a bipedal dog race), and Regina, who is actually the daughter of the king of Guld, but she thinks her father has been tricked or controlled. These are the four companions for the rest of the game.

I made a paralyze spell, which is one of the most useful spells in the game because of how long it lasts. Other useful spells are heal (which you can remake periodically stronger — if you do 100 water mana as the second ingredient it will heal all), Protection, lightning, and earthquake.

The rest of the game is basically just taking over a series of castles and towns from the Guld empire. Next up is Belkstat, but we need the Yak’s help to do a battering ram to knock down the gate. So there’s one war event at the Yak town and then another at Belkstat. The Belkstat one is quite challenging; I followed a Japanese walkthrough’s advice and got Bolg a max effect Earthquake, which immediately kills the grunts in the boss battle. You still need to do some level grinding even after that, but I beat it eventually.

In Hanstad we get knocked out and taken to a prison island, and find out that Yuri is still alive. So we manage to rescue him and a number of other prisoners, and then escape, but there is a war event on the ship as you leave.

Back in Hanstad we get a ship. Now you can go around the world and there are actually a lot of side things you can do; by using the paralyze spell you can defeat enemies that are somewhat above your level and get a lot of powerful equipment. Some of the possible things you can get are the strongest armor in the game, and Mei’s best weapon. Now we can retake Silvel castle, and then head to Wood in the desert to continue the fight against Guld.

One of the places you can go is this raft town

From Wood we continue to Belgderen, which is the hardest and most annoying place in the game. There’s another huge leap in enemy strength, you have random encounters in a long confusing dungeon, and a tough boss. This was the point where, more than anywhere in my whole blog, I regretted my rule that I have to finish games that don’t have patches. And so I broke down and used cheat codes — an unlimited money code, unlimited mana, and no encounters. Even with all of that, and the 10 or so levels I had gained before using the codes, it was still challenging.

Next up is Guld castle itself, but we can’t get in without the Dragon’s Tear. This comes from going to a dragon cave with two specific items. Kult also learns that he’s actually a prince who was abandoned at birth because of a prophecy that he would destroy the kingdom.

After defeating King Guld’s strongest warriors, we learn that he’s actually being controlled by Ice Queen Iskar, who pulls us into an underground world for the final war event.

Finally, we reach Iskar.

 

And the world is saved.

Phew. As I said at the beginning, this game does have some decent ideas. The auto-battle system is actually not as bad as some of the other games — I felt like I had more control over it. But any good ideas they had are completely ruined by the slow pace, the ridiculous random encounter rate, and the game balance. If you want to play this game legitimately you will need to do a lot of grinding. More grinding than in any other game I’ve played up to this point. That’s just not my cup of tea.

As a side note, Blogger has been getting worse and worse since I stared blogging here with successive updates. I’m no longer able to deal with the sidebar information except as a mess of unformatted HTML code, so I’m removing the “recent and upcoming” section (which isn’t visible on mobile anyway). If anyone really misses that I can try to find a way to add it back. If my blog weren’t already established here I don’t think I would start a new blog with Blogger.

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.

SFC Game 65 – Breath of Fire II, Part 3 – Defeating God

In the last post, we had gained a way to fly on the world map at a cost. This was in order to fly to the Evrai temple to deal with the problems they were causing. Unfortunately we get trapped in the town and they want us to convert to Evrai.

Fortunately there’s a resistance group we find that leads us into an underground tunnel. The place you escape has the best fishing rod, allowing for fishing the most powerful sword for the main character — the best way to do this is with Coins (“gold” in the English translation), although I noticed that bsnes’ turbo feature does not register fast enough, at least mapped to the middle DS4 pad, to do it. So I had to mash.

Now joining up with the resistance, time to storm back into Evrai? No, we need money, meaning we have to find everyone’s favorite thief Patty. Once we do this, we can break into Evrai. I don’t know what boss this next picture is but it must be around this point.

This might be the fight against the Dragon that gives the main character the G. Dragon power, which does 999 and is very useful against future bosses. In any case we launch the assault on Evrai church but the leader is more powerful than we thought. As we continue to chase him, there’s a sad scene with Rand:

His mom sacrifices herself to let Rand go on and join the party.This is a long dungeon, but eventually we reach the boss:

There are three endings to the game — one bad one, and then two others that I’ve seen called “normal” and “good” although both have sad/happy parts. If you want the “good” ending you have to avoid killing the old man here (hurting him is fine). So no Dragon powers, which makes this fight one of the harder boss fights.

The old man Ganer then puts himself in a machine at Community so it can fly. I’m not sure what happens if you defeated Ganer instead because the machine has to fly for the rest of the game to work.

Unfortunately you lose the bird which is dumb because the bird flies faster, and I believe it locks you out of some of the fishing areas.

 

Now we finally can go back to Gate, the town from the beginning of the game. This is the final sequence of dungeons. I created some MP restore items through the cooking guy (although not enough as I found out later) and some Biscuit items (hard senbei) that restore everyone’s HP and add defense.

I didn’t really bother with the shaman fusions because they get removed when someone gets to low HP, and this happens constantly (especially since so many enemies in the final dungeon have instant death attacks). This was a really poor decision by the designers and made the shaman fusion much more of a hassle and less important than it could have been.

Before we can enter the final battle, we need…Patty? Yes, it turns out that she is the main character’s sister. The villagers foolishly decide to bomb the dragon out of the way, but this just opens the gate

At this point you can choose to have the Dragon continue to protect the gate. This leads to the bad ending, where the demon in the gate eventually gains enough power to overwhelm the world. So instead we should have the Dragon move aside so we can go in and kill it.

The final dungeon is long, although it has several places where you can rest, save, and one place with shops. I needed the levels from the dungeon to do the final boss. Midway through the dungeon, we happen on an underground village with the remnants of the Dragon clan who tell Kurisu that his destiny is to defeat Death Evans, the “god” that the Evrai church has been following. There’s also a long flashback scene with Kurisu’s mother.

First, though, we have to beat Barbary.

My first try I had a lot of trouble, so I left the entire dungeon and got more Wisdom Balls (+100 AP) which let the main character use G Dragon every other turn. This helps a lot.

Now in the final boss Kurisu uses the Infinity Dragon to make Death Evans vulnerable. There was a long sequence indicating that Kurisu would have to sacrifice his life to use this — maybe I’ve forgotten how they dealt with this but he doesn’t die. Death Evans is much easier than Barbary, though. 

Now after the fight, if you didn’t save Goran, Kurisu has to become the dragon to guard the gate. If you did save Goran he’ll use the town to block the entrance. And the game ends.

The ending sequence goes through the “chapters” of the game and lists all the characters that were in each scene.

 The end!

I think Breath of Fire 1 was a better game. BoF2 has some pretty severe balance issues that make large stretches of it not very fun to play. The plot doesn’t really do anything until the last section. The shaman system is hard to use, and the Dragon breath system is not as robust as the first game. I also didn’t think the dungeons were as creatively designed as the first game. On the whole I had much more fun with the first game than the second — Carlos in the last post said that BoF2 is an objectively better game but I’m not so sure about that.

With this game I am halfway through my quest! (65 games out of 130). I’m playing Energy Breaker (SFC) on the other blog and then we’ll come back here for The Last Battle. I’m done with vacations so we should see fewer “gap” posts in the next few months (although probably there will be one next week).

SFC Game 65 – Breath of Fire II, Part 2 – What’s wrong with the world?

The quest we’re given by the Guild has to do with a demon near Gate town, which is the same demon that attacked Bosh and Kurisu when we were kids. So of course that’s something that we have to investigate, but this will require a “grass person” to help us talk to the wise trees. Since the beginning of the game a grass person has been in the circus that appears here and there, so that’s our next destination. But first, we have to get a way to sail around the world — in this game that’s not a ship but a whale.

 

The whale “grandpa” appears to have something wrong with it that makes it sleep — of course we can guess it’s some new monster. We go inside of it, and need Rinpu along to hit various places with her staff and open routes.

Once the monster inside him is beaten, he wakes up and we can use him to sail around the world. Now we can head out to the circus with our recruitable grassman.

 

Unfortunately the head of the circus refuses to part with him(?) unless we bring him a rare Uparupa. They live in a cave where we have to use bait to get them. This part is a little annoying because you can only get one bait in the cave, and if you fail to get the right Uparupa you’ll have to do another fetch quest with a pretty difficult boss. But if you get it right the first time you can avoid that…although we decide to let the Uparupa go because we feel sorry for it.

So how do we get the grassman? Just threaten to beat up the circus runner, of course. What a surprise, he is a demon as well.

After he’s beaten, it turns out Aspar could have gotten out at any time but was waiting for a group of heroes that could save the world (was there not a more efficient way to do that?) Anyway, with Aspar we can talk to the trees and find out what’s going on.

 

The giant tree is having problems with its memory (shades of the opening sequence?) and we need a Therapy Pillow to help, which the Music Country has. Just as in the first game, we can’t communicate with the Music Country people without a flute. This whole section is nested fetch quests.

The flute seems to be in Highland Castle, which is actually Sten’s homeland, where he was a knight. This is by far the most annoying section of the game for me. The monsters are incredibly strong and you can’t leave until you finish the quest. I got a lot of game overs here and had to retreat to heal pools many times. To add insult to injury there’s a set of warps near the end of the dungeon that warp you one-way back to the beginning (I wonder if they intended this to be two-way so you could leave and heal?)

The kingdom is being ruled by yet another demon, who is strong but I managed to beat with only Kurisu left alive. And now we have the flute. Unfortunately the queen of the music country is sick…another demon? By enlisting the help of a dietician we’re able to use a magic mirror to get inside her and clear out all the enemies. Fortunately this is a pretty easy dungeon. And now with the therapy pillow we can help the tree out, entering is dream to beat Alzheimer who is afflicting him. This area is a strange dreamlike world where you go to towns made of young, old, and middle-aged people.

It turns out that Alzheimer is the one that made everyone forget Kurisu at the beginning, as well as the tree, and he says the tree was in the way of God.

Now we head south through a fog valley…as soon as we clear the fog by convincing a wind spirit to stop making it (and adding it to our spirit inventory). This dungeon has underwater areas that you have to complete in a time limit.

We then reach Rand’s home town, where this church of Eva seems to be causing problems. Rand’s mom wants us to help farm and then go pray to Namamda, but after we do, she’s suddenly gone and we’re told that the Eva church has obtained her field for a church. So it seems like we need to deal with this Eva church, but their place is only accessible by the air. How do the believers get there? Oh well, in order to reach it we need to return to Windia where there is a legend that older winged humans could turn into birds.

 

Nina reunites with her parents, who are sorry for throwing her out just because she had black wings. She plans to become the big bird (a transformation that can’t be reversed) but her sister steps in and does it instead.

Now we can fly.

I’m going to end there — I’m on the last dungeon so I’ll be finished soon. Next week is a scheduled side post, though.