Category Archives: Super Famicom RPGs

SFC Game 88 – Sailor Moon Another Story

Sailor Moon Another Story (美少女戦士セーラームーン ANOTHER STORY), released 9/22/1995, developed and published by Angel

I was (am?) a big fan of Sailor Moon. It was the first anime I really got into, back in the mid-90s when the dub was airing on American TV. I’m not sure why I liked it so much; part of it was the online community (in newsgroups and mailing lists) and part of it me wanting to see a cartoon with a developing storyline. I eventually acquired the whole series on VHS tapes (fansubs) and have watched all 200 episodes several times. I no longer own the VHS tapes though.

This means that while I’ve played many games so far based on existing anime, manga, etc, this is the first one that is based on a show I was really into. Probably the one before this that I knew the most about was Ranma 1/2, and that was a pretty crappy game overall. This game, on the other hand, is pretty well done in terms of adapting the original property and making something that will interest fans of the game. It would have been easy to just cram a retelling of the show or lazy product, but the story goes above and beyond that. It involves entirely new villains that do not seem out of place, and examines areas of the original story that were hardly touched on (particularly the future Silver Millennium and the past Moon Kingdom).

The game was developed while the manga was still running. When the development started, the third storyline (S) hadn’t started; when the game was released, the fourth storyline (SuperS) was currently running in both anime and manga form. Because of this, the developers were working off information from Naoko Takeuchi about how the story would develop. The story takes place after the third storyline (S), and mostly seems to follow the manga, although some anime-only things are included (most of the random encounter monsters are from the anime), and there are even references to the R and S movies. I think if you are a fan of Sailor Moon there is a lot to like about the story. If you are not, I think the story may be less interesting/effective.

There is a translation patch which was released a long time ago, but someone updated it with some various fixes and a “no-grind” patch that reduces the random encounter rate and doubles the xp/gold from each encounter.

All ten of the Sailor Senshi introduced so far are in the game, along with all the powers from both the anime and manga. They also have voice clips for all the attacks as well as their transformation lines.

The graphics on the whole are pretty good. I appreciate the face images in the dialogue (why don’t more games do this!) Since they had a large collection of enemies to draw on from the anime, there aren’t a bunch of palette swap monsters and the in-battle graphics are decent as well.

One of the challenges often faced by developers of games like this is being faithful to the original ideas while still creating RPG-like gameplay. In the manga and anime, they typically only fight one monster at a time, and a single attack by Sailor Moon is the only thing that can kill it (usually one other senshi will use an attack to weaken or stun it). This is a similar problem that was faced by the Fist of the North Star RPG creators — in that anime, the whole point is that people like Kenshiro can only be fairly matched against a small number of others who are trained like them. Kenshiro can take out a normal thug without even breaking a sweat.

So you basically have three choices, I think, in adapting something like this:

  • Try to create a completely new battle system that allows for more faithfulness to the source. I think Dragon Ball is the main example I can think of of a game that did this; it’s not a common technique probably because it’s not easy to do and takes more time.
  • Put some explanation in the story for why the characters cannot fight as well as they can in the original source. Slayers did this by having the “memory loss Lina” that couldn’t use most of her spells. This is not an attractive option because it may annoy players who want to play the original characters as they were in the source.
  • Just use a normal RPG system, and hope that the players will be happy enough to play their favorite characters that they’ll overlook how nonsensical it is (or they will understand that there was no way to adapt the original ideas into a satisfying RPG).

The third option is what most of the series take, and it’s what Sailor Moon Another Story does as well. Here, any move can beat the enemies, and Sailor Moon’s own moves are just damage-dealing moves like any other that she might have to use 2 or 3 times and not even kill the enemy. I think it works, though. An interesting choice they made was to completely restore EP after every battle so that you can make heavy use of the special moves rather than just basic attacks.

The other aspects to the battle system are Link Techs, where two (or three) senshi combine their powers, and Formation Techs (which I never used). There are four formations that increase or decrease the attack/defense of senshi in particular spots — for instance, the “Cluster” formation quadruples the attack of the center senshi but lowers the defense/attack quite a bit of everyone else.

Because of the setting, there are no weapons and armor to equip, just accessories (which are mostly rings, earrings, bracelets, etc).

The game is divided into four chapters. The story beings in the Silver Millennium in the future, where a comet is coming and there is a strange epidemic. Back in the present, old enemies are appearing again in Tokyo.

Fan favorite Hotaru changes from a baby back into Sailor Saturn again. She really shouldn’t have a move that just damages random enemies since she’s supposed to destroy planets, but we’ll allow it.

The first chapter just hints at what’s going on, with a new enemy revealing herself as “Sin”, and various dreams and prophecies. The inner senshi are all captured by Sin, and during the rescue you get various glimpses of their dream “perfect lives” that they’ve abandoned to be warriors (this was in the R Movie also I think). Sin also has 5 underlings headed by Apsu. Their goal is to get the Ginzuishou (silver crystal) from Sailor Moon. The senshi succeed in fighting them off but Mamoru (Tuxedo Kamen) is injured, a common situation for him.

In Chapter 2, the Inner senshi have to go around to different places by themselves to recover four gems based on the four generals of the first series. The game draws from the manga in making the four generals servants of Endymion (Mamoru’s past life); this was never stated in the anime. Each of the four stories involves one of the enemy underlings, and develops their backstories and why they joined Sin. They were all dissatisfied with life in the Silver Millennium in some way.

One big complaint about the game that I think is accurate is that there’s too much grinding; whenever you reach a new area the enemies outclass you by quite a bit and you have to do some levelling. It doesn’t take that long but it’s a bit annoying. The boss of Mercury’s segment here is particularly difficult (the no-grind patch hacked something here to make it a bit easier).

Now that we have the four gems, we still need the Rose Crystal, which is chapter 3 — the Outer senshi and Moon are going after the Rose Crystal while the Inners are gone. Saturn’s Death Reborn Revolution is really good so I usually put her in the middle of the Cluster formation.

This chapter also starts the relationship between Chibi-Usa and an enemy Anshar, a kid with a pet. This seems at least a bit similar to the Chibi-Usa/Helios story from the 4th season, making me wonder if they based this on future ideas for the story.

This chapter has you fighting all the Death Busters, Mistress 9, and Professor Tomoe again from S, followed by Queen Beryl from the original season. I have mixed feelings about the reappearance of all the old enemies from the previous seasons — I feel like they did it just to appeal to fans rather than because it fit organically into the story. They never really fully explain why some of the people came back. I suppose it’s a small complaint but it may lessen the appeal of the game to people who are not fans of Sailor Moon. In any case we fail to gain the Rose Crystal from Anshar, ending chapter 3.

In chapter 4 we find out the enemies are messing around in the past, threatening to change the timeline. So we use the Time Corridor (getting Sailor Pluto on the team) to go back. This is a nice chance to see Beryl and the Generals before they turned to the evil side, and also see original Queen Serenity. We also have to fight the villains from the second season (R) again.

We finally see here more motivation of the enemies — Sin, the leader, is going to die soon. Apsu, the sister of Anshar, was pissed off when the Dark Moon killed her parents, and wondered why the sailor senshi were just protecting Neo Queen Serenity rather than helping her parents.

However, we do manage to recover the Rose Crystal and heal Mamoru. Now it’s time for the final chapter.

At this point you have enough money to have 99 colognes (full MP restore for everyone). With this, you can have Pluto use Time Stop every round, which even freezes bosses (including the final boss). So all you have to do is have three characters use strong attacks (I did a triple tech with Mars-Jupiter-Uranus), then a 4th character use a cologne, and Pluto Time stop every round. If you do this, as long as you are at a high enough level to do reasonable damage and you can make it through the first round of combat without anyone getting confused/entranced/etc, you win every boss fight.

Here we do the final battles against the various underlings who then see the error of their ways. But Sin and Apsu still remain — first we have to defeat Apsu, and then a combination of Apsu and Sin. I thought the final section was a bit less satisfying than the others in terms of the motivation and background of the enemies, but it’s still a decent conclusion to the storyline.

Overall I did enjoy this game quite a bit despite the flaws in the system. Certainly a good part of this was my like for Sailor Moon in general, but I think it shows that this was a good adaptation of the source material, and it gives you a nice chance to see things that were never really touched on much in the original series. It also creates some interesting villains that would fit in the source manga/anime as well as fleshing out the main characters a bit.

I do wonder how people unfamiliar with Sailor Moon would like this game — I have a feeling not all that much since the game system is not necessarily the best in the world, and there is quite a bit of grinding involved. It does make me wonder if I would have had a better opinion of some of the other IP-based games I’ve played in the past if I had played those series.

Actually the next game is also a shojo manga (Magic Knight Rayearth). But first there will be two posts about SRPGs I only played the first few stages of.

SFC Game 87 – Super Magic Continent WOZZ (Part 2)

I left off last time with three more continents to explore. A few things happen at this point:

  • Money becomes nearly a non-issue, especially when it comes to items. You can easily have 300-500 (or even 999) of healing and MP restoring items. Leona will also learn how to make good MP/HP restoring items as well. This doesn’t make the game a complete cakewalk but it certainly lowers the difficulty.
  • You can start making vehicles to drive on the overworld. These have their own HP and attacks. They can only be made at factories in towns (which is also where you can repair them; you can also buy repairing items).
  • Leona can also make robots for Chun to summon in battle; I basically didn’t use these at all. Apparently there is one good robot near the end of the game but you can permanently miss it by not talking to someone in a town so I did not have it.

The next continent is Undetta, which has zombie, ghost, and skeleton villages.

The basic idea here is that each of the three villages has one guardian that the enemies are trying to destroy; if they succeed it will ruin the continent. A new party member ghost joins here, and we manage to save all three spirits. Next up is Anthill Tower where the boss of this region (Queen Artemis) is found.

After this Madisto leaves the party; too bad because his healing spells are very good. He does teach Chun some of the healing spells but they’re not powerful enough at the moment to be as good. I think this is one of the more difficult parts of the game because you have to work to make the healing sufficient to deal with the damage done by the bosses.

Now we have only the left continent left. The bottom desert part is Illuse, but to get there we need a ship. Leona creates one but first we have to deal with pirates — once the pirates are taken care of, the leader joins and we make it to Illuse. We can also travel around to the smaller islands here and there but there’s nothing game-breaking in any of them.

The goal in this section is to reach the temple at the top. Unfortunately villagers here have been tricked by Balam and we get shut in a prison where we fight all the previous bosses again.

There are also oases. At one of them Leona learns to make a 999 MP restore item which is quite useful. Unfortunately when we reach the temple, Balam’s shadow sends us down into the Dark World.

In the Dark World we get another companion — Ramune, the daughter of the ruler of the world of the dead “Pades” (later we get the lord of heaven “seus”). There’s some optional tournament and cave but I just went for the escape.

The boss here is somewhat challenging because of the 8-hit attack and the still somewhat ineffective healing.

Now it’s on to the last continent, the Demon area. Leona learns to build an airplane here so now we can fly anywhere.

The Demons are actually pretty friendly and don’t seem to like Balam very much. After some adventuring, we eventually reach the Pureland in the sky, where Balam is attacking Seus the king of heaven.

Balam decides to send us back to Earth in an attempt to get us out of his way, but Leona just grabs some inventing stuff and then heads back to Wozz through a portal (before it closes). Now for the final dungeon. I used Vargas (the pirate) as my 4th character since you can get his strongest sword for doing a sidequest of returning kittens to the wind fairy.

Balam has two forms. The first is pretty easy, the second is not.

The main problem is his “arm attack” which does 8 attacks at once and can easily wipe your party or put you in a position where you can’t keep up with the healing. However, his HP are relatively low and by just trying a few times I was able to get lucky enough with the Arm Attack that I won.

However, we don’t get back to Earth as promised. Well, that’s OK, maybe Madisto can help us. At this point the world is empty of monsters. Madisto beckons us to his basement, where there are monsters!

This is the big twist of the game. Madisto had very little magic power, which is bad when you are in the Magic Land of Wozz. He was tired of being looked down on, so he made a portal to Earth. He was the one who sent Balam to Earth to test it out, and now he’s ready to take over the world.

He has one devastating attack that hits everyone. After several losses I did a bit of grinding to move from 57 to 60 (with the help of a code); if you do that you can make the strongest weapons for Leona and Shott. More helpfully, Chun was then faster than Madisto and could always start the round with a full heal. Madisto’s HP are fairly low so it’s not very hard to win from here.

At this point we’re able to use some of Madisto’s remaining stuff to get back to Earth, where Leona is on her way to an invention conference.

I looked at English reviews of this game, and they were quite harsh. People fault the poor graphics (for late 1995), the lack of story development, the lack of character development, and the repetitive battles and dungeons. While I can’t disagree with these criticisms, I invite these people to play the previous 86 games I played and then see how good this is compared to those games!

SFC Game 87 – Super Magic Continent WOZZ (Part 1)

Chou Mahou Tairiku WOZZ (超魔法大陸WOZZ), released 8/4/1995 by Bulletproof Software

(First off, I want to thank commenter Endy who has been commenting on a lot of older posts, linking to archived images of Famitsu previews of the games — the screenshots often show interesting pre-development images.)

BPS, the developer, was the Japanese arm of Blue Planet Software, the company responsible for releasing most of the early console versions of Tetris, and developing Bombliss. This seems to be their first console JRPG; they’ll be on here one more time with “Beast and Blade”. They closed shop in 2001.

The basic premise is that the land of Wozz is being afflicted by the evil king Baram, who has been using technology from the human world to take over Wozz. He also has made the rain turn people into monsters. So the great magician Sullivan decides to bring over a hero from the human world to deal with the problem. He ends up transporting over three “heroes”.

From left to right on the platform (opposite from the title screen), there is Leona, a Japanese inventor girl. Shot, a brash American (who shoots a bow). Chun, a Chinese telepath. You can choose which one of these you want to be your main character. All three accompany you no matter what so the choice of main character only makes a slight difference here and there. I chose Leona. Her special power is that she can invent things.

She can learn new inventions by levelling up, getting recipes from chests/bookcases/etc, or having people teach her. From the menu you can make the weapons, armor, or items as long as you have the resources necessary. She can also make vehicles and robots, but this can only be done at invention stations in towns.

Shot is just an attacker; he gets special moves but for some reason only two of them during the game. Chun begins with Telepathy that can do a bunch of random effects, but will learn magic later. The magic system upgrades his magic after a certain number of battles. However, the number of battles is pretty high (I’m in the last fifth of the game as I type this and most of my spells are only at level 3-4 out of 7). Other companions will join as a 4th member throughout the game. Sometimes you can freely choose, other times a member will be forced for some part of the game.

Finally we have a relatively clean interface and no annoying inventory limits (you can even hold 999 of each item!) It’s not perfect; I would have liked a “best equip” choice, but given the crappy interfaces that most of these games seem to have I can’t complain much. The walking speed is also too slow and there’s no dash button, which is unusual at this stage. Two steps forward, one step back, I guess.

Our first mission is to stop the FearRain that is causing the people to turn to monsters. The battle system is basic RPG style. Leona can scan enemies for weakness, and the other two have their powers. One nice thing about the game is that money is plentiful (after the first couple of dungeons) and MP restoring items cheap, so you don’t really have to worry about using too much MP. The only time it does become an issue is in some boss fights, where the MP restoring items you have access to don’t heal as much MP as you would like. But this game doesn’t have much challenge so I suppose that’s a good thing.

We go to a nearby cave where Balam supposedly is, but it turns out to just be Balamo, one of his underlings. The early boss fights are a little bit challenging; what you have to do is just have Chun use Telekenesis and hope you get a lot of “rock drop” which does a ton of damage.

The great wizard Sullivan taught Chun how to use magic, so we can collect the various types of magic from fairies throughout the world. The first comes soon in the “fire forest”, although you have to walk behind a mountain to get there which is kind of cheap since it’s not clear you can do that.

Heading north, we come across a native inventor Madisto, who agrees to join our party if we can bring him some dinosaur DNA from a nearby lab (is he planning a park?) Once we do he joins. He’s quite helpful because he has powerful healing magics right from the start; I used him as often as I could until later in the game when he leaves the party.

Eventually we do come across the source of the FearRain, which is a whale that has been corrupted to shoot out the rain from its blowhole. So Leona has to invent a cleaner to attach to its hole, after we deal with a rather challenging boss. The Zanzori boss here was the only time I had to do any grinding in the game.

Now that we’ve stopped the FearRain, it’s time to head to the next continent. The game basically plays out over several continents, which have their own features:

  • Magic Land (where you start, with wizards/alchemists)
  • Elemen (spirits)
  • Undeata (skeletons, zombies, ghosts)
  • Iryuzu (witches)
  • Delmon (demons)

There are other areas than this, but this is the main flow of the game. As far as the story goes, there aren’t a lot of developments or twists; there’s a lot of comical dialogue but not a whole lot of character development either. It’s mostly just going through these continents solving the problems and driving away Balam’s underlings.

Elemen is a cold area, where you have to drive off an underling named Maif and her two servants.

Two new companions come on board here — Eliza and Ceramic. Ceramic has all status heal moves, which makes her rather useless, but Eliza is a decent fighter.

Maif is tough, mostly because you can’t use Madisto so you don’t have a good healer. She uses some nasty all-effect magic, and I think some of this battle is based on luck — if she decides to use her all attack too many times in a row it’s tough to deal with. But my basic strategy was just to have Shott doing most of the damage with Power Shot. Kurisu heals and the rest of the team either does minor damage or heals if they have a chance.

That’s where I will end this post; I’m on the last area of the game as I type this but I’m going to be away this weekend for the 4th of July so I won’t be able to finish the game in time. Overall this is a decent game; it’s not a masterpiece but it’s playable and relatively fun.

SFC Game 86 – Dunquest Legend of the Demon God’s Seal

Dunquest (ダンクエスト 魔神封印の伝説), released 7/21/1995, developed and published by Technos Japan

This game is classified as an Action RPG in many places, but to me it feels more like it’s somewhere between a Mysterious Dungeon game and a true RPG. The developer Technos Japan is best known for the Kunio-kun series (i.e. River City Ransom, Crash ‘n’ the Boys) and Double Dragon. They also produced the RPG-adjacent Sugoroku Quest (one of those board games that has RPG elements), but I don’t think they ever produced a full RPG.

The story takes place on Laster Island, part of the Malkes kingdom. There’s a legend that a demon god is sealed there but will return some day, and the current king is gathering heroes in preparation — including Kurisu, our hero. But Kurisu is just sent on various missions in four surrounding dungeons, and there’s uncertainty about whether the demon god will actually revive or whether it’s just a legend. I only played about half the game, but according to the Wikipedia article there are actually some interesting story twists near the end and it doesn’t end with just a simple “of course the demon lord revives” at the end.

The game does not have a traditional levelling system. Instead, each major quest you complete gives you the next rank, up to 17 (“Duke”) at the end of the game. When you gain a rank, you get some stat bonuses too. With the exception of the HP, these can be freely switched between Attack, Magic, and Defend.

In addition to this, the weapons and armor get better as you use them (like Xanadu) up to a defined limit. Finally, you have individual XP with each monster in the game, and the more XP you get vs a monster, the more damage you do and the less damage you will take.

Finding the next major quest is not always an easy task, or sometimes you get a vague instruction like “find out why these earthquakes are happening” but no indication of even which of the four dungeons this is in. I don’t know whether this is because I didn’t find the right people to talk to in town for information, or whether it was the designers’ intent that you would simply go through the dungeons seeing what you could find.

There are four dungeons, each with 35 floors. It feels a bit like a Mysterious Dungeon game except that the layouts are not random. One of my biggest issues with the game is that you always have to start from floor 1 of the dungeon, and you don’t do the dungeons in sequence. One quest will be on floor 7 of the Ice Temple and the next will be on floor 11 of the mines, then back to floor 15 of the Ice Temple. It would be helpful to make maps of the dungeons so that you can quickly get through the lower levels.

Each floor has a red chest which can only be opened with keys you buy in town. There are also brown chests which regenerate and give gold, and random items on the floor (like potions or scrolls that cast spells). Monsters appear out of summoning circles on the floor. The combat system is action RPG style where you hit the button to swing the sword. Some enemies have distance attacks, and you can also use spells yourself from scrolls. The number 28 at the top left in that picture shows how many of the current item you have (which can be used with X).

The system is real time rather than the Mysterious Dungeon turn based style. Often you can attack and then move back a space to dodge the enemy’s attack, and repeat. But you can get trapped in narrow corridors and killed easily, and some teleporting enemies are annoying.

One problem I kept running into was not being able to hurt the monsters at all, despite having the best weapon at 100%. The weapon and armor upgrades are pretty limited and don’t increase your attack/defense all that much. You can of course put more points into attack but sometimes even that wasn’t enough. I still managed to progress by simply avoiding the enemies, but this seems like either a design flaw or something I just didn’t understand about the game. You can use magic to defeat some of these enemies but that supply is limited. If you die, you are returned to the town with half your gold.

The dungeons also have a lot of traps, and every floor has warps that send you to different places in the floor.

One thing that is often praised is the number of things you can check in the town for unique messages, but this is just for flavor.

I played up to rank 10, so a little over half the game. The major quests of course involve doing things in the dungeons — some of them are beating a boss, some are finding an item, and others are talking to people on some floor of the dungeon. There are also additional bosses and other things that aren’t part of the main quests. I think some of these are for subquests, some may just be for completion purposes. There is also some kind of post-game scenario.

Looking around at various blogs and reviews of this game, it seems like opinions are fairly divided. Some consider it a bad game, but some really liked it a lot — I guess it probably just depends on whether this style of game appeals to you. I found the need to repeatedly go through the early parts of every dungeon over and over again annoying, but the game wasn’t terrible. It’s just (to me) not quite an RPG.

SFC Game 85 – Mystic Ark

Mystic Ark (ミスティックアーク), released 7/14/1995, developed by Produce!, published by ENIX

Produce!, the developer of this game, also worked on Elnard (7th Saga), Brain Lord, and Nekketsu Tairiku Burning Heroes. Although this is not a real sequel to any of those games, there are some reused assets and similarities. Apparently there was a plan to release the game in the US as “7th Saga II” but it never happened. There is a translation patch, though.

The opening shows six characters being attacked by a spinning square and teleported away somewhere. These are the six party members you can have (in addition to the main character). None of them have any backstory or dialogue in the game; perhaps there was some in the instruction manual? This I think is one of the weaknesses of the game; the party members are just statistics and powers, with no role in the story at all. None of them have any lines of dialogue (the main character is also silent).

Everyone seems to have turned into these wooden figurines in a strange temple of some kind. The main character Kurisu is transformed back into a human. At the beginning you can’t pick up any of the figures, and wandering around the church there are various rooms, some of which are open, that have objects in them. You can interact with a lot of objects in this game in this way:

You will have various options — touch, look, shake, and use items, etc. This adds an adventure-game like element to the game. A lot of things right now can’t be affected, but a fireplace will talk, and Kurisu learns that she’s supposed to get 7 Arks in 7 different worlds. She also gets the Crystal, which acts as the enemy radar (like in 7th saga) and also can warp to different places, but not in dungeons. It also turns out that by going to the ship above we can reach the first world — a world of pirate cats.

The basic flow of the whole game is that you enter a world, solve some problem there, and then find one of the seven Arks. Then you’ll be able to use that Ark in some way back in the main church to open the way to another world. Once you get all seven arks you can go to the final dungeon and win the game.

The battle system is more or less standard. Each character has powers they gain with level ups that do various things (special attacks, defense, etc.) and some of them get spells. One nice feature is that you can see the enemy HP. The main character will soon get a power called Figurine that can transform monsters into Figurines. I never found a purpose for these figurines but I think I didn’t explore optional things enough; there is some monster arena and maybe a place you can trade them in but if you just stick to the main quest there’s no point.

There are two sets of feuding pirate cats but they’ve forgotten why they’re fighting. Kurisu sort of plays both sides and eventually with the help of a witch stops them from fighting…although the world does flood, so that’s not great. Eventually Kurisu comes across a temple that holds the Power Ark.

Now Kurisu can pick up the six figurines in the main room of the church. By using the Ark of Power on one of them they will come to life. Simply carrying the other figurines in your inventory will earn them XP; the person you actually have out seems to earn more, but the figurines won’t fall too far behind. The six characters are Miriene (an offensive magic specialist), Lux (a robot with high defense), Resheene (A martial arts fighter, who I’m using in the above screenshot), Tokio (Ninja), Kamiwoo (beast fighter), and Meshia (healer).

The way the party members work is somewhat frustrating, though. Any time you go back to the church, they return to figurines so you’ll have to bring them out again when you go into a world. If they hit 0 hp in battle, they are returned to the church in figurine form, so you have to go all the way back to the church to get them. If the main character hits 0 hp, it’s game over (back to the last inn with 1/2 gold). This is really unacceptable in a game that has instant death spells from the enemies. I had a number of times where I got a game over or a party member death from full HP having taken only one action in combat (or even zero actions in one case). I used save states to a limited extent because of this.

The second world is a strange “fruit world” where people are building their homes in giant fruits. You have to help them find seeds, get water, and defeat the evil foxes and beetles that are trying to attack them. Most bosses at this stage go down to a pretty easy combination of attack and heal — some of them have annoying heal spells themselves, but they’ll run out of MP eventually. One the final fox is defeated, Kurisu recovers the Ark of Light. This Ark can be put into a weapon to give that weapon a thunder element and increase the damage.

Next up is a children’s world, inhabited only by children and one older woman looking after them. Sometimes you will find hearts in the world which you can take back to the church and put into figurines there to restore the people to the world. In addition, the Arks can often be used on objects — for instance, the Ark of Power may let you lift something you wouldn’t be able to, and the Ark of Light might illuminate something. This is more of the adventure-game like gameplay.

The main problem in the children’s world is that the older woman seems to have made some pact with a Chimera to create this world for the children, but the Chimera wants to use her magic power for his own end. Eventually she rejects him but we have to beat him up to free her from its power.

Once this is done, we find the Ark of Wisdom, which can get a third party member. At this point the boss battles become a bit easier because the Power and Speed buff spells stack, so with a party like Kurisu-Meshia-Resheen/Kamiwoo you can have Kurisu heal while Meshia buffs the third person’s power up to max (and speed if necessary). Meshia can also “compassion” to restore her own MP. I used this strategy on most of the remaining bosses.

Next up is the Machine World, which is all black and white.

There are machines all over the place. Going further through the world we see that another area of the world has no sound, and a third area turned everyone old. All of it seems to be the fault of malfunctioning machines, maybe. Eventually with the help of the scientists Edison and Einstein, we make it into the depths of a large industrial complex where slaves are working to make robots. Here Kurisu recovers the Ark of Fire, restoring the world to normal. The Fire Ark is another one that can be put into a weapon.

Next up is the Wind World, although the wind has stopped and there’s a big giant threatening the land. Here the Ark of Wood is in the first room you appear in but the villagers won’t let you take it until you solve their problem. It’s another world that involves machines; eventually you encounter clones, headed up by the Ancient One. He’s strong but goes down to the buff strategy — he says that some “darkness” awoke him earlier than he should have. We’ve heard hints of this darkness elsewhere.

The next world, the Dark World, is a nice change of pace — you only have Kurisu and the focus is mainly on the puzzle solving, although you do have to fight some encounters. Once again this “darkness” seems to be meddling with things.

Finally there is the fairy tale world, with a bunch of characters from well known fairy tales — the ant and the grasshopper, Cinderella, Pinocchio, the Emperor’s New Clothes, the Three Little Pigs, Little Red Riding hood, and others. Here the “darkness” comes out explicitly, wanting to turn everything into figurines. We have to beat the big bad wolf, help Cinderella get to the ball, and other things of that nature.

Finally we fight the Darkness, and then get the final Ark, as the Darkness retreats to the final area. There are a few subbosses in the final short dungeon, and then the final boss — the Evil Heart. His goal is to return everything to a state of stillness, with no will or thought.

He’s pretty tough but if you use Mirrors to block his spells and then max Resheene’s power and speed, she can Kick with a decent enough success rate to make it worthwhile.

After defeating him, the voice behind the fireplace and the statue that has been giving us hints all game tells us what happened. The church and all seven worlds were created by this being to test Kurisu, as preparation for her entering the world she is supposed to be in. The “darkness” was supposed to be the final encounter, created from the evil in Kurisu’s heart. But it was too strong and it broke the being into seven parts (the Arks). Now that the darkness has been defeated, Kurisu can head to the new world.

During the credits sequence, all the party members are shown returning to their home worlds. Then Kurisu goes through a door of light. The screen goes dark; at this point there are sound effects that I think are supposed to represent a street with honking horns indicating that Kurisu is in our world, but it was hard to tell if that was the intent.

This game was a little disappointing, although not bad. Before I started the blog I would have expected something like this to be a below average game; in fact I would put it in the top third or maybe even 25% of games I’ve played. But the story is rather thin. The individual worlds are interesting and have some fun characters, but I wish the party members had more presence in the game. Also the final reveal is sort of dumb. The gameplay is overall decent, but the way the game deals with hitting 0 hp is annoying, despite the thematic reason for it. The graphics and music are good though, with some memorable BGM.

Next up will be Dunquest, a sort of action RPG game that’s a bit like the Torneko’s Dungeon series but without the random floors.

SFC Game 84 – Laplace no Ma

Laplace no Ma (ラプラスの魔), released 7/14/1995, published by Vic Tokai

The title of this game means “Laplace’s Demon,” and is a reference to a thought argument against free will in a deterministic universe. I’m not sure if this has anything to do with the game, though. The game was initially released for several Japanese computers in 1987. The original game was a first-person blobber dungeon explorer game. The Japanese sites I can find about it say that it was extremely difficult and some people even consider it a kusoge, although when you think about the kind of RPGs that were coming out in 1987, this may not be a surprise.

Image courtesy of Mobygames

In 1993 it was ported to PC Engine; it seems to be mostly a direct port although I did see a Japanese site saying that it was easier and that it lost some of the original atmosphere of the game. Finally in 1995, eight years after its initial release, it was ported to the Super Famicom. This version changed from the first-person style to a top-down JRPG style. Since this is a port I only played the first of the three dungeons in the game. There is a translation patch for it if you want to try it out.

The game takes place in 1920s America, in an eastern rural town called Newkam (apparently named after Lovecraft’s Arkham). There’s an old mansion called the Weathertop Mansion that has all kinds of ghost stories associated with it, and the player characters have gathered in town to investigate. You start off by creating your main character.

You choose a sex, name, and job. The jobs are basically the classes:

  • Investigator (best at fighting)
  • Journalist (can take pictures of enemies to sell for money, this is the main way to get money in the game)
  • Scientist (can make various machines to attack with)
  • Spiritualist (casts spells)
  • Dilettante (kind of a mix of journalist and spiritualist, but learns magic from books)

The abilities are on the left, which include some standard ones, but others I wasn’t sure of the use for. The right is Skills which can be improved at the library by spending experience. The skills are:

  • Hand-to-hand combat
  • First Aid (helps with using heal items)
  • Search (I was never sure what this did; a page says that if your search is low you can’t always get items or might break them, but I never saw this happen)
  • Magic (for the dilettante)
  • Machine (for the Scientist)
  • Gun
  • Mental healing (helps with using MP restore items)
  • Negotiation (helps with gaining information, but I wasn’t sure exactly how this worked)
  • Spiritualism (for the spiritualist)
  • Photography for the journalist)

Once you create your person, you go to the bar and find the NPCs you want to join your party. I took a journalist, a dilettante, and a scientist.

They start with equipment so it’s not necessary to buy that; I was never quite sure what the weapons did in the shop since there’s no real explanation (probably that’s in the instruction manual). I stocked up on bullets, and film for the photographer and batteries for the scientist’s machines. I also got some requests to find out what happened to other people who went to the mansion.

Finally I headed into the mansion. From what I can see on web pages, the dungeons in this game are based on those of the original game but are generally larger.

There are random encounters. The battle system is standard although the machines and spells do give you some variety. The arrow under each character advances during the battle and unlocks a special attack once it fills up.

The biggest problem with the battles, and probably the largest flaw in the game, is that they give so little XP that they’re barely worth fighting, especially given how nasty some of the monsters can be. You get so much XP from fulfilling the town requests and other story things that you really can run from every fight and still advance quite a bit, and since there really aren’t important equipment upgrades in town, you can refill your stocks of healing and other items just by taking a bunch of pictures.

The mansion, on the other hand, is well designed. Almost every room has some kind of description and character to it, and you can find a lot of hidden items as well as monsters and story lore in the rooms. There are a lot of puzzles you have to solve to move forward in the game.

The story of this first part of the game is basically that Benedict, the owner of the mansion, became erratic and strange after his mother’s death, and began to dabble in magic. He was hoping to revive his mother but instead got involved in stuff he wasn’t expecting, and the house became overrun with monsters. Eventually we are able to ring a bell in the mansion and stop the monsters in there, but we then have to go through a portal to Laplace Castle to stop the true evil.

This game does not have a good reputation among Japanese players, but it was hard for me to determine why. I thought that maybe players were comparing it unfavorably to the original PC game, but that doesn’t seem to have a great reputation either.

It definitely has a good setting and story, and some of the system innovations are interesting. For me the biggest problem, as I said above, is that there’s almost no purpose in fighting the monsters. Given this, I think I would have enjoyed the game a lot more if there were no random encounters, only fixed ones (perhaps with some places where you could fight a fixed encounter multiple times). Having the exploration constantly interrupted by pointless encounters really hurt the immersion for me.

SFC Game 83 – Shiki Eiyuden

Shiki Eiyuden (史記英雄伝)

The “shiki” of the title is the Japanese pronunciation of Shǐjì, the first of the Imperial histories of China. The most common English translation is Records of the Grand Historian. It set the tone for the remaining 23 histories that came after it, particularly in its use of 列伝, usually translated “biographies” or “memoirs”. These sections focus on short anecdotes and illustrative scenes that show moral character.

The period that this game is concerned with is the Warring States period (4th-3rd century BCE), which is covered not only by the Shiji but also the Strategies of the Warring States. It is known not only for the stories from these works, but also for being the time when many of the famous philosophers lived, such as Meng Zi. Chinese and Japanese students still have to read parts of the Shiji, and learn the “4 character compounds” that are derived from stories in these works.

The page for the translation patch of this game claims the story is “100% historical” but that’s not really the case. It’s a pastiche of characters (some of whom were dead by the time the story supposedly takes place) with a few famous anecdotes from the period, but the main character is a fictional person and the story is basically fiction.

The main character has a pretty bad life; his parents are dead, his older brother has been conscripted, and his younger sister was sold. He lives in a tiny village with some old women and has no purpose in life. Suddenly a soldier appears in his house with a scroll, and gives it to Kurisu and tells him to run away. Kurisu runs out of the back of his house and gets in a fight with a soldier.

Before I started this blog, I would probably have been surprised to hear that in 1995 games were still using the Dragon Quest II battle system, but now I’ve come to expect it. The only two differences are that you can freely switch in and out party members before each turn, and running still gives you XP (half, I think).

Anyway, that soldier above did 22 damage with his first attack; I thought it might be a plot battle but no, I got sent back to the title screen with a game over. That’s not a promising start for a game. I don’t know if the designers thought you might level up outside of town first, but you can get past this part just by running from the three fixed soldier combats.

Kurisu heads to a nearby hut where the sage Chen lives; I don’t know if this is supposed to be a historical person — the other sages in the game are famous people but this guy may just be a creation of the game. He teaches Kurisu magic and tells him that the scroll he possesses can either end the world or save it, and sends him on an adventure…after playing some puzzle games.

The first puzzle you have to pull or push the lines to match up the colors with the initial state. The second is the game of Nim, and the third is a sliding square puzzle. I’m not a fan of things like this being required to win the game; fortunately the first one you can hold down B on the second controller to automatically win it. These puzzles recur several times throughout the game. The old man also gives Kurisu a stamp book where he can ask people for stamps throughout the game. You can press Y to ask people whether they will stamp your card; I think there are 60 people throughout the game that do it. The only purpose seems to be that you can unlock quizzes, and somehow that lets you go beyond the Great Wall to fight some optional hard bosses — I just ignored this.

Kurisu then heads to Luoyang, where he can meet up with Lu Buwei and Fan Li, both historical figures, although Fan Li should be dead by this point. There is a lot of mixing up of different historical eras here and it’s not entirely consistent with a single time period. Anyway, a nearby cave has 鬼先生, which I guess is “teacher demon” — he gives us more spells and a Demon Crest that you can use later to recruit mercenaries from Luoyang. The demon also tells us to visit all the sages in the various lands, and we get our first companion Lin Xiangru, who is another historical figure.

One of the peculiarities of this game is that what weapons and armor you can equip is determined not just by character but also their strength. The main character is really weak and often can’t equip new things. Overall the game balance in this game is poor; it’s one of those old style games where some encounters are easy, and others can kill you from full HP in a few moves (and game over sends you back to your last save). At least levelling up restores your HP and MP. Also, enemies do not drop gold, so the only money you get is from selling things.

At this point your goal becomes to stop the war between the 7 kingdoms. First we travel around the world, visiting the sages such as Confucius, Mengzi, and Zhuang zi (even though some of them should be dead at this point). Along the way we gain some more historical figure followers (including Jing Ke). Soon you can use the Demon Crest from earlier to recruit mercenaries. The best one to recruit is the level 99 old man; he has no fighting ability but if you put him up front he can run from every battle. Since you get XP from running this is a good way to level and you almost never have to fight a random battle again.

We also find Kurisu’s younger sister, who managed to become the Empress of Qin, giving birth to Sei, who will be the next Emperor. Kurisu’s older brother has become a mountain bandit, and Kurisu has to kill him at some point. There are other small events that are re-enactments of famous stories from this period

After meeting all the sages, we have to find three mirrors to open the way to a powerful sword, the Damascus Sword. By giving this to Sei he is able to unify the country and become Emperor of China. Kurisu decides to become a Sage himself, which requires a long dungeon by himself with no help — after several game overs I put in a no encounter code.

Now that Kurisu is a sage he starts to write down philosophical books, but it turns out that Sei has become evil and is oppressing the populace. So as the final act of the game he has to join with the old companions and defeat Sei.

Sei is pretty tough; some people on gamefaqs said he could be put to sleep but this never worked for me. Maybe I needed to be higher level. Instead of grinding more I just put on an invincibility code and beat him.

Overall this game is not especially good. The gameplay as usual is a boring mess, and the story is all over the place — there are some interesting parts, but it’s hard to know exactly what the designers were going for. There is a translation patch if you want to try it out.

I really need to think about what to do going forward with these Super Famicom games, because I’m getting burned out on games like this one to the point where I’m not sure I’m giving them a fair try. When I find a game bad, I do try to check around on Japanese sites to see what the opinion of Japanese players is; often they also think these games are not very good (this game, for instance).

I’m certainly not going to stop playing the SFC games; I’m too far along and there are still quite a few games I want to play on the list. But perhaps it is finally time to relax my rules more and allow myself to stop playing games like this — they’re not only boring to play, but they’re boring to write about also. I’m just tired of having fun with a strategy RPG, then sighing as I force my way through two more bad/boring SFC games, then back to having fun with a strategy RPG. We’ll see; I’m only going to play the first section of the next game because it’s a port of a computer game, and then Mystic Ark sounds good.

SFC Game list July-September 1995

I’m making good progress with Sangokushi Koumeiden so I should have that post up next Saturday. Meanwhile, here’s the list of games I’ll be playing in the next three-month block, the first one that has no PC Engine games. This list was compiled from a variety of sources, some of which are rather generous in labelling something as an RPG. The bold ones are the ones I will actually play.

  • Shiki Eiyuden – Another game based on Chinese history, but this one is earlier than Three Kingdoms.
  • Demon of Laplace – This is a port of a computer game; it was also ported to PC Engine but this port is a total remake that changes the game from maze exploration to regular console JRPG style.
  • Mystic Ark
  • Danquest: Legend of the Seal of Demon God – I am not 100% sure that this counts as an RPG; it looks to me like it does but it could be in the Ruin Arm sphere; we’ll see.
  • Emerald Dragon – I already played this on PC Engine.
  • Ultima Savage Empire – This is a port of a western computer game.
  • Super Magic Land WOZZ
  • Brandish 2 – Out in English, plus I’m not sure it’s quite an RPG.
  • Battle Robot Retsuden – SRPG
  • Bounty Sword – SRPG
  • Sailor Moon Another Story – Looking forward to this; I used to be a big fan of the series.
  • Heian Fuunden – SRPG
  • Magic Knight Rayearth – Two shojo manga games in a row.
  • Metal Max Returns – A remake of the Famicom game.
  • Verne World
  • Wizardry VI – Western computer game port.
  • Yamato Takeru
  • Holy Umbrella: Dondera no Mubo – This is another one I am not 100% sure about, it does not look like it is quite an ARPG.
  • Seiken Densetsu 3 – Yay!

Back next week.

SFC Game 82 – Granhistoria

Granhistoria (グランヒストリア 〜幻史世界記〜), released 6/30/1995, developed by J-Force, published by Banpresto

We’ve seen developer J-Force at least twice on this blog — for La Wares and Nekketsu Tairiku Burning Heroes. Neither of those were particularly good games (although Nekketsu is at least playable). They were also involved in one of the legendary kusoge of the Playstation, the RPG “Mystery of Satomi”. Probably their biggest success was Dragon Force, the Saturn strategy/SRPG game.

The basic concept of this game is that the main character is some kind of supernatural entity that inhabits a person in the continent of Grand, twenty years before the entire world will be destroyed. You can check the “Historical Record” and see all the things that will happen leading up to the destruction of the world. The goal is to prevent that from happening by changing history.

It’s an interesting premise, although perhaps somewhat limited by the very linear nature of the game. You occasionally are given choices that seem like they would cause a story branch but they really don’t; at most they change who will accompany you for the next dungeon.

There is also a huge amount of lengthy backtracking in the game, with no spells or items that let you warp to towns. As is very typical for this era the random encounter rate is quite high, and the dungeons themselves generally do not have any distinguishing features of interest.

The battle system is also pretty disappointing. There’s a system where enemies can appear in the sky or on sides of you (sort of like the Aretha games) but in the end you’re mashing the attack button until everything dies; it’s the same old Dragon Quest II system that game companies are still relying on. The only different feature is that depending on which god (of two) the character is aligned to, their spells will use either Stones or Spirit Points — but in practice this is just a regular SP system that makes no real difference other than a thin veneer of world building.

The one good design feature is that SP and Stone restoring items are plentiful and cheap, so it is possible to actually make use of the characters’ spells in battle. But since the encounter rate is so high and you can beat most battles just by mashing attack, it’s not really worth it.

Then we have the problem that once again, in June of 1995, you cannot see the stats of items when you’re buying things in shops. Why are game companies still treating this like it’s an optional feature that isn’t necessary?

The game begins with Kurisu getting ready for his wedding ceremony. But some evil bandits associated with the god Ge, lead by Tando, attack and kill Kurisu. The “world record” appears, depicted as a blue orb, and has an accompanying red orb take Kurisu’s body to try to stop the attack that the thieves will do the next day; the first step in stopping the destruction of the world.

You wander around the town for a while, rest, and then it’s time for the wedding ceremony. Unfortunately the bandits attack the ceremony and kill Kurisu again — they wanted to access this Za temple that only opens once every 10 years. He then revives in a nearby forest backwards in time; this is the one part of the story I didn’t understand. It never happens again, although I never got a game over so maybe if you game over there’s some kind of teleporting like this.

Kurisu reaches the bandits (this is before they attack the wedding ceremony) and for some reason they don’t kill him — they let him undergo the Ge initation. The ge “god” is obviously a computer of some kind, and we later learn that the “angels” are robots or mechs of some kind. But the god immediately accepts Kurisu, which surprises the thieves, and they let him join.

Now it’s time to attack a train. It’s a trap, and now Kurisu can choose to stay with the thieves or join the imperial forces that set the trap — this might seem like a big story branch but it’s not; I joined the imperial forces but even if you don’t, you end up joining them soon after.

Kurisu is able to put himself out as a “prophet” because he already knows what will happen via the World Record, so he quickly gets the trust of the imperial forces. But at the same time, there is a mysterious man in black named Cain that has underlings; the World Record does not recognize Cain or his minions.

It’s now 806, 19 years from world destruction. We need to try to save the crown prince from dying. This involves a plot by someone from the family that the current royal family supposedly deposed — but we stop him, and the Za “god” registers the baby in the computer system.

Next up, in 807 a Ge follower causes a bunch of Angels to go berserk, hoping to lower the Za god’s influence in the world, but we stop him. I was not always sure what stopping these things had to do with the end of the world — I think the idea is that the World Record is showing all the things that lead up to the final destruction (perhaps in a butterfly-effect way) and we hope that dealing with the most immediate one will eventually change the history.

Next up we have to help the Asashina king set him his marriage, but in the process the king gets killed an Kurisu is accused of the murder. This causes the entire World Record to get erased. But once Kurisu escapes from prison he becomes king himself, which restores the Record. Kurisu also gets 10,000,000 gold which basically solves the money issues for the rest of the game — you can by 99 of all the best healing items and there is no more challenge in any battles or dungeons.

Kurisu goes and cleans up a few things, then Cain appears again, suggesting that Kurisu put out an order to unseal 4 sealed temples around the world. Regardless of your choice, the game continues on for a while; we have to put down another attempt by the deposed former royal lineage. Eventually Cain shows back up with his minions — they claim to follow the Record of Destruction, and want to return history back to “normal”, by which they mean the destruction of Gran. Cain is able to steal Kurisu’s body from him, leaving the World Record and Kurisu to seek out a new host.

A year passes while Kurisu gets a new body; it’s now 817. However, Cain immediately shows up to steal the World Record from Kurisu when we try to stop a priest from getting assassinated. It turns out that Cain is the servant of a third god, Ma. Without the World Record, Kurisu is on his own and can’t check what’s going on anymore. Also with Cain now in the old body (which is the King), he’s been attacking the other countries, and he has also started unsealing the 4 temples, which will result in the destruction of the world.

Eventually Kurisu manages to reach the Sky Ship and then the Sky Country, where the people who made the Ma god live. They surround Gran with a barrier to protect it; but when the barrier was briefly removed so Kurisu could come down at the beginning, that’s what allowed Cain and his minions to come down as well.

Kurisu needs to have both the Ge and Za power, but he has to go back in time to get the second one; after this happens he tries to go back to the present but things get messed up and he arrives in 825, right before the destruction of the world.

Kurisu learns that the ancestors of the people on this planet came from the stars, although I didn’t see much more information about this or what the different gods are (maybe I didn’t talk to people I should have). In any case, we can stop the world from being destroyed by beating the Ma god itself.

The ending scene lets you choose one of two options — both of which lead to rather bad endings. The first one is that the Za god completely stops, causing all the Za priests to die, and that destabilizes the world. The second one is that the Za god’s Angels continue to spiral out of control, causing wars and chaos through the world. As far as I can tell from googling, there is no good ending.

There’s more to the story than the broad outlines I wrote; more side characters and such. Certainly the story and the setting is the strong point of the game, but it’s wrapped in such a boring system that it’s hard to get really immersed in it.

SFC Game 81 – Ruin Arm

Ruin Arm (ルインアーム), released 6/23/1995, developed by Bandai

This game is considered an Action RPG by some sites, and I can see the classification — I believe that by my definition it technically qualifies, but it’s really more of a Zelda type adventure game. The game was clearly heavily inspired by Link to the Past, inviting unfavorable comparisons with that game at every turn.

The opening scene shows a mech of some kind destroying a city. We’re told that once there was a large thriving civilization using both magic and technology, but humans destroyed themselves, leaving only ruins to mark the previous high civilization.

The main character is Kurisu along with his sister Litol (You can have them choose names; there are a bunch of preset names including some injokes like Luke and Leia, Hansel and Gretel, and some anime references.) The characters’ father tells us to go to a nearby cave and get a sword.

The game plays out like a Zelda game. In this case you can assign one item to each hand and one armor; each piece of equipment is activated by a button although not every item can work that why (pressing X in the above screenshot would do nothing). The numbers below the weapons are durability — I don’t know why so many games feel like they have to include this. Most of the time it serves no real purpose other than to annoy the player.

There are no XP or levels; instead you find stars from chests in dungeons. You can assign these stars to five stats (HP, MP, strength, defense, speed). You can reassign the stars at any time. While this might seem like an interesting system, it works into the biggest complaint I have with this game. The interface is too fiddly and you have to interact with it way too often. You spend a lot of time in the item menu, which is never a good sign for a game. Zelda has a very clean interface and you can quickly switch items in the menu. Not here.

ルインアーム始めてみました#2 - YouTube
This screenshot courtesy of youtube

As you can see from this shot, only 3 items from the list fit on the screen at once. You have to choose what you want to do with the item in the list above (right arm, left arm, body, use, exchange, split, merge, discard) and then find the item in the list. You have to do this at times you really shouldn’t. As in Zelda there are keys you find in the dungeon to open locked doors. But unlike Zelda they don’t just automatically work. You have to go into the item list, find the key, assign it to a button, exit the menu, press the button to open the door, and then go back into the item list and re-equip the item you had before.

Later you get Jump Shoes, but these go in the armor slot, meaning that you’ll have to go through the item menu to get the Jump shoes then put back on your armor once you’re done. In addition, the jump distance is controlled by speed, meaning that you may also have to juggle the stars to be able to make the jump. This constant fiddling in the item menu gets old and really slows the game’s pace down. On top of all this each character can only carry 16 items, and so there is inventory management again. I still have yet to play a game where I thought that managing limited inventory was fun.

The other big problem with the game is the second character. You can play this 2 players, which may be the best way to do it. The computer controlled player is constantly getting stuck behind things. If you equip her with attack magic she’ll immediately use it all. There are parts of the game where you have to do things with both characters, so if you’re playing on your own you have to once again fiddle around in the menu to switch control of players and such.

It’s too bad because I think there is a good game in here, if it weren’t such a chore to play. I ended up stopping at around the 40% mark of the game; as I said in the intro while this may count as an ARPG in a technical sense according to my rules it doesn’t feel like one. If it were a really good game I probably would have kept playing it but I just wasn’t having fun.

To briefly go over the part of the game I played: dad sends us to find a sword in the cave. There, we have a letter from him telling us that something bad has probably happened and they should look for Jeek in Londium. Heading back to the town we find that some black clad men chase the dad to a cliff; the dad jumps off the cliff with a friend but they probably survived.

We then chase after dad, and eventually locate him but he has lost his memory. So we have to find a gem to make a medicine to cure him (there is some kind of item synthesis system in the game).

But dad is gone by the time we get the gem, so we continue on. Eventually I did find Jeek, but he didn’t tell us much and just gave us some spells and jump shoes. The story hadn’t developed all that much, but presumably there will be something about the lost technology and robots.

So I wouldn’t say this is a terrible game, but it has a lot of flaws and to me is not really an RPG.