Category Archives: Super Famicom RPGs

SFC Game 78 – Rejoice! Beyond Aretha Kingdom

Rejoice: Beyond Aretha Kingdom (リジョイス 〜アレサ王国の彼方〜), released 4/21/1995, developed by Yanoman

Yanoman is back with the sixth (and last) Aretha game. This one takes place in the same timeline as the Game Boy games, and involves the Dark King Howard from the first two GB titles (as well as Doll or Dorl or however you want to romanize it). I got the feeling that there were other parts of the game that were references to the GB Aretha games but not having played them I’m not completely sure. The game takes a different approach from the previous five in being an action RPG rather than a regular RPG.

The game starts with the dark king Howard trying to capture Milrose, who he calls a princess. When she runs away he sends Ice Cube after her (complete with Ice Ice Baby lyrics — the whole game’s soundtrack has a hip hop theme).

This is an unwinnable battle but it lets you play around with the battle system a bit before the real game begins.

Now we switch to our “protagonists”, the Rejoice! group, who are a bunch of thieves and swindlers. I’ve seen thief main characters in RPGs before but they usually try to make them sympathetic. Here they insult each other, rob a statue from a tomb, and then go back to town and rob a man’s house by setting it on fire to distract him, steal a cart from a sleeping old woman, cheat a shopkeeper with fake money, and try to rob another shop at knifepoint. The townspeople treat them like they’re just incorrigible youth that you roll your eyes at, but this seems over the top.

Unfortunately the Black Ship Thieves show up and steal all their hard earned stuff, but they manage to hold on to the statue to deliver it to Ben Marxist. This whole part of the game was rather unclear to me — Ben claims that he doesn’t care about the statue, he just wanted it out of the cave. Then he gives the Force Book to the group. Kyu, one of the members, wants it for himself and kills Base, one of the other group members. He runs away, leaving the book behind. Treno, who is our main character, somehow is able to use the book to gain magic power but leaves it there, then a tsunami wipes out the village and Treno washes up on a beach.

Now he’s found by Aretha series regular Dorl, who is in all six games. Treno wants to find Mikey (the fourth member of the group); they find Mikey’s knife on the ground. This leads to a cutscene showing Mikey captured, with a prisoner in the next cell saying that they were looking for a hero to beat Howard.

Now Doll and Treno reach the first area of the game, the Mushroom Forest. This game supports two players, so someone can control Dorl (you can also switch people by pressing start to pause the game, then L or R).

Each character has a weapon, armor, shield, and up to two items. The “life” at the top right is shared between characters; if you die you will be revived and lose a life — these can be recovered with the Risarisa item.

The weapons you can equip vary quite a bit in range and attack style, so it’s not just a matter of equipping whatever the strongest one is. You also may have to switch, although the inability to switch in a boss battle is annoying because it means that if you see a different one might be better you have to reload or quit.

The most annoying feature is the armor and shield, because they can break by taking damage. I don’t know what the purpose of this system was, but it meant that most of the time I had no armor or shield.

I often found it hard to find my way around, but I often have that experience in action RPGs; I’m not sure why. Treno levels very quickly. I was level 6 by the time I reached the first boss, the Poison Mushroom, and level 11 after the fight. You recover HP on level up so you can sometimes kill the bosses’ things they shoot out and gain a bunch of levels during the boss fights that way.

Some people complain that you can’t see your HP while you are fighting. I actually didn’t find this to be that bad, because when you get hit, you flash a color based on your remaining HP; that was always enough for me to tell when I was in danger. The enemies have the same colors (this is a long standing feature of the series; in Aretha SFC 1 you couldn’t even see how much damage you were dealing).

After that we read Akim Town, where they collapse from the poison of the forest. Akim nurses them back to health, and then wants Treno to try to fight against Howard — if he could defeat the Poison Mushroom he may be able to beat the dark king as well. Of course Treno’s not interested.

The next part is annoying; it’s a common feature of RPGs that I sometimes call “inscrutable flags” — you have to talk to the right people in the right order, some of them more than once, to get the game to advance. But there’s no logic or way to find out what steps you have to do, so you just have to wander around the town talking to everyone over and over again and returning to Akim’s house until the game finally decides to advance. This is repeated several times throughout the game, in most of the towns. You can do a party chat which sometimes helps, but usually not.

Eventually Treno decides to try to go after Howard on the hope that he will find Mikey along the way. So they enter this magic door that just happens to be in the town which takes them to the Trick Castle, supposedly connected to Howard’s castle. The game has no sense of a world map or locations; it’s more like a sequence of stages than anything else.

There are two bosses in this castle. First up, a knight. If you switch to Dorl you can use some long range magic that might make it easier but it’s hard to tell where to hit the boss and I lost several lives.

After this we find Mikey, as well as the neighboring prisoner who turns out to be Milrose. So we fight Ice Cube again, but can actually win this time (I was at level 30 at this point).

Now we fall into a big pit to the Cave Town, where ants and grasshoppers are working together (although the grasshoppers are looked down on) against the antlions. This town and dungeon is by far the worst place in the game for the “invisible flags” I mentioned before — you have to constantly wander around randomly until a party member says something, then places you couldn’t go before suddenly open for no reason.

You have to solve this puzzle to advance, but even when you solve it the way forward doesn’t immediately open, you have to wander around and come back. I had to watch a video playthrough of this on youtube and the Japanese player was as frustrated with it as I was; half his time was just walking back and forth trying to figure out what to do, and even when he was able to advance he would just say something like “screw you, rejoice”.

Anyway, the boss of this section is a big bug, but I had moved up so many levels that he was no challenge.

Now to get out of here we have to cross the lava with the help of some rescued turtles from earlier. This leads to the Kaskal Sea, where we can breathe underwater for some reason. There’s a sunken ship whose captain will take us to Howard’s castle if we can get them out of the ocean.

This is a confusing section yet again. The dialogue makes it seem like you need to bring back parts from the sunken pirate ship to Captain Rock to repair the ship. Actually all you have to do is see the pirate ship, then go back to Rock and talk, then return to the pirate ship and fight ghosts. This is another place where the Japanese player was frustrated.

This lizard boss posed no challenge at all. I was at level 66 by this point.

Now we’re in Giant Forest, which has fairies, and also the nearby Neve Town. After another “invisible flag” hell, I found my way to the Tsuda Cave. Along the way we learn that Kyu (the guy from the beginning) has become a Dark Priest and Howard’s right hand man, and Milrose gets captured.

The cave soon leads to Howard Castle.

When we reach Howard, he tries to kill Treno but Kyu protects him and dies. He then flies on a dragon to Karakuri Castle and we have to fight the left-behind Balloon Dragon.

With the long range weapon it’s not too bad, just hit the belly button until he dies. Now onto Karakuri Castle.

At this point I had what I guess is the best weapon, this thing that creates a bunch of sparkles around you. It slows down the game a lot, though, and one time froze the game. In this castle we find Kurisu (another one!) who is a friend of Dorl; this part must be a reference to previous games. It turns out they are looking for Mahara Kingdom, but that’s Treno’s home that was destroyed in the tsunami. (Ben Marxist never appears in the game again so I don’t know what all that was about).

The Bamboo Dragon is kind of challenging until you learn how to avoid all of its moves and reliably hit the head. I was at level 79.

Final dungeon is Howard’s Tower.

I had a really hard time with Howard at first. There’s this bullshit first part of the fight where you just take a whole bunch of damage with no way to block it. I eventually did some level grinding and at level 89 he was easy.

At the end, they return to the ruins of Mahar Kingdom but it’s not clear what everyone is going to do — the Dorl/Kurisu plot is unresolved and I don’t know what Treno and Mikey will do either.

The designers were clearly proud of their music because the credits at the end have a whole track list including tempi.

In the end this game is playable and good in some ways, but has plenty of annoying parts as well. It’s also really short. This is the end of the Aretha series, and I don’t know how many more games Yanoman made — they’ve been a big presence so far in the blog but will this be their last hurrah?

SFC Game 77 – Mahoujin Guruguru

Mahoujin Guruguru is a manga that ran in Monthly Shonen Gangan from 1992-2003. It’s a parody of RPG video games and has a lot of meta-humor and 4th wall breaking. There are two video games based on it for the Super Famicom. This one is not really an RPG in my estimation because it has no developing story. The opening has the main characters Nike and Kukuri coming to a new village with no money, and the king gives them a quest to get the magic circles from 12 towers so that the 13th tower can be unsealed, and they can save the Ocroc Egg. That’s the entire story; there’s no further development (as least in the first 9 towers, which is the extent of what I played).

The graphics on the whole are well done; the sprites are large and detailed.

You first buy equipment; there are various weapon types that Nike can use but I just went with swords. Then it’s on to the area where you can access the 12 towers.

In theory you can do them in any order, but the monster levels pretty much force you to do them in a set way — starting from the bottom left, then the bottom right, then the second to bottom on the left, etc.

The towers are (I think) randomly generated when you enter. You explore around each floor, looking for chests and eventually the warp to the next floor. The chests usually have money in them, but can have some items as well.

There are also monsters that wander the dungeon, and when they encounter you, it’s time to fight. In the fights, Nike is at the front and fights automatically. You control Kukuri’s spellcasting. You can also give Nike one of 4 commands but without the instruction manual I was never clear on exactly what these did.

To cast a spell, you first choose one of four elements (wind, fire, life, water). Then you pick an area of effect, and then a style (like “powerful”). This makes a possible 64 combinations that result in 64 different spells. The idea is interesting but as with most games that offer this many spell choices, there are a few that are really powerful and the rest aren’t worth using. After the first dungeon, MP restoring items are so plentiful that you can basically cast as many spells as you want, which is nice. Healing items also come pretty easily as well.

The game on the whole is fairly easy, but there are times when you have to do a bit of moneymaking to buy new weapons and armor (the shops gain new equipment after each 2 towers cleared). The bosses for the most part can be taken down easily with the Ikari no Honou fire spell, but two of the bosses I encountered could kill me from full HP with a single special attack. I stopped playing on the 9th tower because I could see that there was going to be no way to beat the boss without a bunch of grinding — I tried all kinds of spells, including ones that claimed to raise defense, but he still killed me from full HP with a special attack.

Each tower is 5 to 8 floors, with the top floor being a boss fight. Some towers have some special elements to them, like one way arrows, enemies that change the direction on your control pad, or one tower where you can’t use the automap. But they don’t change the basic gameplay that much.

This is not a terrible game, but it’s not fun enough that I was willing to do a bunch of grinding to beat something that (to me) isn’t really an RPG in the first place. I watched a video playthrough of the ending; the last tower is the same as the first 12 and the final boss has no real character. The ending scene is just Kukuri using the 12 seals to protect the egg, which hatches into a bird — the end.

SFC Game 76 – Ladystalker: Challenge From the Past

Lady Stalker (レディストーカー 〜過去からの挑戦〜), released 4/1/1995, developed by Climax

In 1992, Climax released a game for the Mega Drive called Landstalker. It wasn’t really an RPG, it was more of an action/adventure game that used the same isolinear perspective as Solstice and other games like that. The title is rather odd because the word ストーカー in Japanese has the same meaning as “stalker” in English. I imagine the designers were trying to evoke other meanings of English “stalk”, as someone moving around sneakily. But I’m not sure. In any case this accounts for the dubious name of the sequel — the main character is a woman named Lady, so the game is a lady “stalking” around the land, not a stalker of women.

This 1995 game is based on Landstalker, which I never played (I was a Nintendo kid). If anyone did play this let me know your thoughts in the comments. They removed the ability to jump but added XP and levels, making it a full-fledged RPG. (Dark Savior for the Saturn and Alundra for the Playstation are additional games with the same basic developers.)

The beginning story is that this girl named Lady, who is the daughter of a rich person, causes so much trouble that her dad shuts her up in a house with a tutor Yoshio and a cook Cooks (spelled “Cocks” in the instruction manual but I’ll use “Cooks” instead). She manages to break out and heads to Destrand Island, where she’s heard rumors of great treasure. When she gets there, she learns that the island was ruled by King Baron long ago, a genius scientists who did all kinds of experiments, especially on his fellow monsters. But to learn more and further explore, Lady needs a visa, which she can only get by going through a training area.

The movement takes some getting used to. The up arrow is NW; I always felt like it should be the NE instead. I did get used to it after the first dungeon or so but it is really frustrating until you do.

Inside the training areas Lady meets her first combats. These are done in a random encounter style, but the encounter takes place on the same map where you are. Thankfully, not every place has random encounters, and in particular, the rooms that have puzzles usually do not have any enemies.

You swing the sword by pressing A. By holding down A she charges up a move. These moves depend on your equipped weapon, either a Whip or a Glove. There’s supposed to be a tradeoff where the whip has longer range but weaker strength. In practice, since the basic attack is always the short-range sword, I think the whip is useless.

One thing I did not find out until way too late in the game is that attacking from behind or the side does more damage. This is easier once Lady gets companions. You also can’t just hold down a turbo button because the enemies will block your attacks if you do that. I thought the battle system on the whole was well done.

The purpose of the first dungeon is just to teach you some of the basic features of the game — picking up blocks to make stairways (since you can’t jump), solving basic puzzles, easy fights, and dashing with the B button to cross gaps. At the end, Lady watches a film in the museum and learns that King Baron developed a machine to make monsters huge, but then somehow was defeated. An archaeologist named Sajik went to try to find the machine but nobody has heard from him.

Now Lady can leave the town, and she heads for Rivertown, the largest city on the island. It’s next to Baron Castle, but nobody goes there because there are too many traps and tricks — of course that’s our next destination.

There are a lot of traps in the castle, including fireball shooting heads. But the main thing is when the monsters trap Lady and force her to do various kinds of torture games before she can leave.

Here Lady learns about Jumbo BabyBaron (JB) who seems to be controlling things. There’s also the first boss, JB’s pet, but he’s not very hard. It seems like the monsters’ goal is to make some way to eat human meat every day — this turns out to be canned humans, which Lady finds out in the next town where a bunch of enslaved humans are laboring, and JB is trying to find an ancient relic of some kind. Lady needs to escape through the sewer to reach the next area.

The sewer has some areas where you have to swim underwater, losing health, but if you go to areas with bubbles you can breathe air and restore HP (even HP lost in combats, which is nice).

Coming out of the sewer, Lady reaches Deathvegas. There’s a casino which will open later, as well as Meg, Sajik’s wife. Lady tells someone she’ll work in the mines and she gets a ticket to ride the cable car there.

As soon as Lady reaches here she gets thrown in prison by JB, but Yoshio is there as well. Yoshio joins, and Cooks is apparently in the area as well. Yoshio and Cooks work on AI control; at the beginning they’re a liability because they’re so weak and there’s no way to revive allies except by visiting a church. But once you get them better equipment so they can survive a few hits, they do well at distracting the monsters while you go in for a back or side hit. Cooks can cast healing spells which is nice too, as the 5 healing items you can carry don’t last very long. Escaping the cell, Lady overhears that JB has found some ancient machine that can make monsters big.

This dungeon is based mostly on riding mine cards around, and you can change the direction by pressing the arrow keys and slow it down with B.

Eventually we find that JB is going to execute Cooks, but when JB reads what’s on a stone tablet in the box in front of him, he leaves, allowing us to rescue Cooks and put him in our party. The tablet tells us that we need to use a white ball to revive the ancient machine, so that’s probably what JB is going to try to find.

You fight the boss here on a minecart that shoots fireballs, so you have to shoot the opponent while racing around on the cars.

Next up is a monster village — Lady goes back to Deathvegas to get Monster Extract to become monsters. Here we also find the Shining Ball man who will take Shining Balls and exchange them for good items throughout the game. The Casino is also open.

The monsters there tell us that the mayor was trapped in the Volcano; we need to reach the interior machine and put the bolts back in to stop it.

I found this to be the hardest dungeon in the game in terms of the monster difficulty, partly because the companions were so weak. It’s possible I could have gotten better equipment before here, I’m not sure. In any case, Lady finds the mayor, but he’s dying. JB has been using a machine to make them bigger, but those bigger bodies age faster and die quicker. He warns Lady-monster not to be fooled by JB. After the Volcano is fixed we can take the mine car on to the next era, snow valley.

This is another mine car area, as well as ice-sliding puzzles. Eventually Lady reaches a machine that turns her into an ice block, and you actually have to fight a boss as the ice.

Afterwards there’s a hammer that can break the ice, and it also breaks the ice of another person who turns out to be Sajik the archeologist. He heads back to Rivertown, and we go on to Ramus Tower. (This area has some enemies that are like metal slimes in DQ that give huge XP but run away easily. The end area has ones that are clearly based on the king slimes as well.)

We can’t get in to Ramus Tower so back to the towns to find new equipment and various things — it also turns out that a lot of the townspeople have left, now that they’ve heard the treasure rumors were fake and that they were just lured here to become canned food. But the museum in port town has the Ramus Statue, which opens up the tower.

There are spirits in the tower that tell the story of King Ramus, who made this tower to try to steal King Baron’s machine. Ramus tried to reach Baron Rock by air, but never could. The King himself is at the top, and begs us to take him to Baron Rock…maybe this old rug we found in the tower can help? Yes, it’s a flying carpet, and the king accompanies us to Baron Rock and then disappears, having fulfilled his dream.

Unfortunately Baron Rock has places we would need to jump up — Lady can’t jump, so it’s back to Deathvegas again. There we get gas powered shoes that allow limited jumps, and the power can be restored by going to gas vents.

This part of the game was tricky because as you can see from the picture, the way the graphics are done does not make it very clear where the platforms are. I fell a lot just because I could not tell if the next platform was in front of me or to a side. The dungeon also requires you to use Stone Shoes to walk over spikes, and find the Ganubis Proof to walk over a holy area.

At Angel Rock, the next area, we learn the King Baron was devoured by his own monsters, who evidently then tried to seal the machine away.

There’s a puzzle to solve that opens the door to King Baron’s mansion — unfortunately we were tricked into doing this by JB, who could not solve the puzzle himself and so used us to gain access. In King Baron’s mansion, we have to prove that we are the worthy successor to King Baron in order to progress — as usual this is more puzzles. The boss of this area is copies of ourselves, who really aren’t that hard.

Now it’s on to Baron Tower, where we learn more about JB and King Baron’s experiments on monsters. There’s a weird area here where we shrink to miniature size and have to go around this monster’s body. Finally at the end, JB breaks a bridge and sends us down into the Gates of Hell…where there’s more rocket shoe jumping puzzles, worse than the ones in the previous area.

But after this it’s basically the end of the game. JB finally fights us, but he’s not particularly difficult. JB then tells his story — he was a little Baby Baron until he was thrown into the machine and turned into a giant.

JB then had to capture more monsters to use as experiments, but none of them survived. Even JB’s body is unstable…and he then changes into a dragon. After beating the dragon, JB is finally dead. But now the machine comes alive, apparently still possessed by the spirit of King Baron (or maybe King Baron is the machine).

The boss has three forms. The first two are heads that come from the machine, and Lady can get behind them and attack. But the final form is bullshit — it’s stationary at the back of the room, and uses spells that damage everyone no matter where they are. So there’s no strategy or finesse possible, it’s just a question of whether you are high enough level to survive. I think you have to be in the 29-31 area to do it.

The ending scene is short, and just has the island being turned into an amusement park. Lady makes sure there is a statue of JB at the top (I guess she feels sorry for him being used by King Baron? He still killed a lot of people…)

The final image is the photograph that Lady got taken earlier in the game (one of those “put your head through the hole”) pictures.

Overall this was a pretty enjoyable game once I got used to the controls. It’s fairly short but that’s probably a good thing. The occasional interface issues and the stupid final boss are disappointing, but I had fun with it overall.

SFC Game List (1995, April through June)

Time for a new post outlining my next set of games. As usual, I took my full list from a variety of sources, some of which are very liberal in labeling something an RPG. There’s also a burst of PCE games in this section. The bolded games are the ones I will be playing.

The first three games on the list are all games that I think qualify as Action RPGs, but I’m not 100% certain about any of them.

  • Lady Stalker: Challenge from the Past
  • Mahoujin Guruguru
  • Rejoice: From Far Aretha’s Kingdom (the last game in the Aretha series)
  • La Wares (This game is notorious as a kusoge)
  • River Fishing 2 (this game may technically qualify but it’s mostly a fishing game rather than an RPG, and I’m not a big fan of fishing games.)
  • PCE Gulliver Boy (This is a different game from the Super Famicom RPG of the same name, although both based on the same anime)
  • Elfaria II (Sequel to the auto battle game I played earlier)
  • PCE Nekketsu Legend Baseballer
  • Princess Minerva (I already played the PCE version)
  • Ruin Arm
  • Der Langrisser (I played the PC-FX version on the SRPG side)
  • Gran Historia
  • Little Master 3 (already done on the SRPG side
  • Tottemo! Lucky Man (I may reevaluate this when I reach this point, but I don’t believe this quite qualifies as an action RPG for me.)
  • PCE Xanadu II (Apparently much shorter and simpler than the first Xanadu game)

No big names in this list. The huge hitter for 1995 will be the last set (October-December), although the next block does have Seiken Densetsu 3 in it.

SFC Game 75 – Esparks

Esparks (エスパークス・異時空からの来訪者)Released 3/31/1995, developed by Tomy

Merry Christmas!

This game is based on characters that originated on kids’ notebooks and other stationery, produced by the San-X company. Apparently the storylines were done in manga distributed with the stationery but I’m not clear on the details. There were 9 storylines, and this action RPG is based on the 7th and 8th stories. It was apparently intended to come out in 1993 but was delayed to 1995; despite this the game is very light on content, and it seems that even with the two year delay it didn’t come out with all the expectations.

The game begins with an unnamed boy at his house in Page Village, celebrating his birthday. His father is coming back from Sandoria Castle, but there are Protorude monsters causing havoc in the area. The boy has an older brother Saggitarius who is a ne’er-do-well. The first part you have to talk to everyone and then talk to Dr. Flipper (it’s hard to tell when you’ve talked to everyone).

Dr. Flipper is inventing time travel machines. Anyway, the father comes back and we celebrate the birthday, including a gift of a pendant from Dad. But an enemy called Barba comes, killing both parents and critically wounding Saggitarius.

Kurisu (who got his name on his birthday) is saved by someone named Key-suke who comes in and drives Barba away. Also then Dr. Flipper uses something called the ESP Seed to save Kurisu’s life, and it turns out that both he and Key-suke are “chosen” by the ESP seed. Key-suke himself came from a different time; he escaped Barba with the help of a friend Esparks who sacrificed himself to save Key-suke. The pendant also transforms Kurisu into a warrior. Now we can buy weapons, items, and ESP (spells) and then head out.

The game is top down action; you swing the sword with A and occasionally get critical hits. There are different types of weapons (bows, spears, swords, axes) that have different ranges and methods of attacking. When you level up you restore HP although the enemies never give much XP. The party members can be given commands by pressing L and R to choose from a set of AI commands.

Kurisu and Key-suke head to Clap Village. On the way I found a “god statue” of a mouse — these are scattered throughout the world but they don’t seem to do much. Occasionally they offer a clue for what to do next, often they just say useless things.

In Clap Village, the mayor tells us that we are the chosen ones to save this time and that there are three more ESP Seed chosen ones we need to find to drive off the Protorude.

Barba seems to be in the Eicha Cave to the E of Clap, so we go there and find him — before that, a mysterious “white knight” tells Kurisu to awaken his power; it turns out that Esparks gives Kurisu his power, including the magic of Soul Blade. Barba is at the end of the cave; I beat him at level 9.

Now we have to go all the way back to Page Village, through several caves and overworld areas. This introduces by far the worst aspect of this game — there are very few locations in the game, and you have to visit all of them over and over again, including a large amount of backtracking. Even the final boss is just in a location that you’ve already visited three times before (and fought three bosses in the same room).

Back at Page Village, we use the time machine to go back and try to save Kurisu’s parents. Unfortunately we go back too far, back to Key-suke’s time. Dr. Sashi, who we meet in the past, has a son that has gone to the desert, so that’s our next destination.

Unfortunately this requires going all the way through Tekken Cave, to Clap Village, through Eicha Cave, and then out to the Furui Fortress, where we fight the next set of bosses. Then you have to walk all the way back to Page Village through those locations. It turns out Sashi can repair the Time Machine to send us back to the present, but he needs an item that will only be found in Rich Village. Back to Tekken Cave where we blow up a rock, leading to a new area.

Rich Village has a junk dealer that can supply the item, but all his goods were stolen by Gobi, who is in the Tomtom Cave.

All the way back to Page Village, where Dr. Sashi is able to send us back to the present, slightly before the parents die. Now the brother Saggitarius joins (he’s the next of the ESP Seed Heroes). Now it’s back through Tekken cave, Clap Village, Eicha Cave, back through Furui Fortress again, through Furui to Sandria Castle. Here we see the origin of Barba’s arrival in the present time, but we’re too late — he heads back to Page and kills the parents before we can intervene. So we get to walk all the way back: Furui->Eicha->Clap->Tekken->Page Village. Back to the original present time, and we hear about disappearances in Rich Village.

There we meet the fourth ESP Seed warrior, Shira, and fight Barba yet again in the Tomtom Cave (he ate the villagers). Then it’s Tomtom->Rich->Tekken->Page->Tekken->Clap Village, where the elder tells us we have one more companion to get. He’s in Furui Ruins, so Eicha->Furui to fight the boss Prudence. This has to be done with Kurisu only, but he’s not too bad.

The items are fairly cheap so you can load your inventory with them — for some reason you can’t figure out how many of each item you have (you also don’t see damage for attacks, another interface issue).

Prudence tells Kurisu that his real father was Bariscros, a hero who fought with Prudence, Kurisu’s adopted father, and another warrior against the Protorude. Presence joins and tries to teleport us home but fails, and we get sent to Haga-chan island. There are pirates there, but they’re so weak and spineless that all we have to do is guess a correct barrel and they hand over the pirate ship. At this point you have visited all the locations in the game.

Finally with the ship we don’t have to do all the tedious backtracking anymore through so many areas. Back in Page Village we learn that people are getting sick mysteriously, and we head to Sandria Castle to see what’s going on — there we fight Troma and Guilty, other A-Rank Protorude. Guilty says something about trying to ease the suffering of the Protorude but there’s never any more dialogue about this.

Back at Page Village, Dr. Flipper tells us that the sickness is actually caused by miniature Protorude that are in everyone’s blood. At that moment Guilty reappears (he can revive himself endlessly) and sends Kurisu to the future (where the Protorude have taken over) and scatters the companions.

Shira can be found in Tomtom Cave, where she’s fighting Gobi. After another boss fight, we manage to get back to the present, where Dr. Flipper tells us that Guilty is in Future Sandoria Castle, and gives us a treasure box key. The time machine is also fixed so we can freely transport times. Now there are several things to do:

  • Find the companions (in various times and places)
  • Get the ultimate equipment (from locked chests)
  • Get an upgraded pirate ship from the future that can time travel

Once all this has been done, it’s time to go to Sandoria. Guilty is there again, but even defeating him he will just get stronger again. Fortunately Dr. Flipper has figured out a chemical that can destroy the cells.

Back to Sandoria yet again, where Barba has appeared and absorbed the Guilty cells to change into a final boss form. I used a ton of items but in the end I did defeat him at level 29. Now in the ending everyone goes back to their places, and Kurisu goes off with Key-suke on new adventures (we never did save the parents).

This game is not really worth playing. As I said, by far the worst aspect is the extremely small amount of content — there are only 4 small dungeons that are used over and over again, and the amount of backtracking is the most I’ve seen in any game. Despite that it’s still a pretty short game. The story is nothing special, and the interface has a lot of frustrating features. The game had a lot of potential, but I guess they should have delayed it a few more years.

Welcome! (Sticky post)

Thank you for visiting; this is a blog that chronicles my playthroughs of various Super Famicom, PC Engine, and general strategy RPGs. Feel free to respond here to introduce yourself, let me know what your favorite SRPG is, whatever.

I generally update on Saturday or Sunday. I play one strategy RPG, then two Super Famicom (or PC Engine) RPGs.

I’ve now finished the links to all the previous posts, so you can use the links at the top to see the full list of played games so far. Also, if you are only interested in certain types of posts, you can filter by categories (see the bottom of the sidebar). The three categories are Strategy RPGs, Super Famicom RPGs, and PC Engine RPGs.

If you want an RSS feed, this link should work: https://www.rpgblog.net/?feed=rss

SFC Game 74 – Nekketsu Tairiku Burning Heroes

Nekketsu Tairiku Burning Heroes (熱血大陸バーニングヒーローズ). Released 3/17/1995, published by Enix

In this game, the player can choose from 8 different heroes — at first only 4 are there, but when you beat one scenario, another hero will be unlocked that’s from the first hero’s story. This seems to recall games like Live a Live, or perhaps Dragon Quest IV/Monster Maker 3 with the separate heroes. But Burning Heroes does things a bit differently.

I chose Lila first, who is a “treasure hunter”. Her scenario begins with her idol Fuga sending her on a quest to find the three Jabol orbs. She doesn’t really know why Fuga wants it, but assumes it’s just some kind of collector’s item.

The first thing we can do is explore the town and find some information, as well as get party members. The NPC party members have no role in the story at all; they just fill out the party for combat purposes (there is one place at the end where they each say a line but they’re not specific to the character). Then we leave the town and get into the first battle.

The biggest problem with the game is the battle system, I think. You cannot control the NPC characters at all — there isn’t even an AI setting. What this means is that magic users are worthless because they will immediately use their strongest magic and run out of MP within a few battles, leaving them as weaker fighters. So you want a full party of fighters, plus Lizer who only has heal spells — the heal AI is a bit better, and he won’t use the spells unless someone is hurt. At the same time, it’s sometimes frustrating that he won’t heal you when it’s necessary.

I really don’t understand this choice by the designers. It’s not the first time I’ve wondered about baffling choices made by companies or designers — I’d love to see an interview or anything where they explain their thought process behind this system.

What you can do is change the formation of your characters in battle. You start with just one formation, but earn more from leveling as well as finding books in dungeons — you will end up with 25 or so formations. Unfortunately, there are no explanations for what the formations do. Some of them are identified by letters: H increases hit rate, D is defense, M is magic defense, and A is balance (I think?) If you pick an M formation it will greatly reduce magic damage but also your characters will do very little damage.

There is also a system where if certain characters are on certain positions in the battlefield, they will do a “rush attack” that does more damage — but there’s no way to tell what positions those are, and according to one Japanese site I saw they even change positions as they level.

As the main character gets hurt, their “nekketsu” meter goes up, and when it hits 100% you can do a Nekketsu move that does damage to all the enemies.

For Lila’s scenario, the first thing we do is recover the Jabol orbs. One thing you find in various places in each scenario are Jump Shoes; by holding down Y you can jump across gaps. The more Jump Shoes you have, the longer gap you can traverse, so you sometimes have to find additional Shoes to be able to progress.

After finding the three orbs, she takes them back to Fuga and it turns out that Fuga has been controlled by some sort of power. Zades appears and uses the orbs to revive the Demon Jakou. Now Lila has to pursue Jakou to stop his goal of taking over the world.

Most of part 2 is chasing Zades. Lila eventually catches up with him at a ruin. Zades explains that he wants revenge on humans for destroying the Earthlings many centuries ago, and that he’s going to use the power of Jakou and a sky ship to do it. Lila destroys Zades, but Jakou has already headed up to the sky lands, and Lila follows.

The sky area has three dungeons. Lila defeats Jakou in the second dungeon, who then decides to crash Cosmion (the sky tower) into Earth, killing everyone. Lila goes through Cosmion and kills the remaining Earthling called Death Wise.

Once Death Wise is defeated, Cosmion goes into the sea instead for some reason, and Lila survives with Fuga — although there’s really no ending sequence beyond that.

After beating Lila’s scenario I decided to try Ryu’s scenario. Ryu’s father is the warrior Adam, who we heard about in Lila’s scenario. Adam went out and left Ryu alone.

As I played this, I realized two things: first, all the dungeons are repeated from Lila’s scenario, although they’re in a different order. Second: the plot is a repeat of the Lila plot, with the same final boss and final dungeon, just with a different motivation for the main character and some other different plot details. So Ryu’s story is not a different part of the story that’s complementary to Lila’s, it’s the same story retold with a different main character.

I then was going to try Shen’s story, which was unlocked by beating Lila. However, checking a walkthrough, it seemed that Shen’s story also had the same dungeons and the same final boss. Looking further through the walkthrough, it was clear that some of the people had some different dungeons, but that the final chapter was the same for all 8 heroes, with one different dungeon but the same final dungeons and boss. Furthermore, nothing happens if you complete all 8 scenarios — there’s no final scenario or anything, the game’s just over at that point.

So I’m not sure I see much point in playing the other six scenarios, especially since the battle system isn’t all that great. I don’t think it would take an especially long time (probably all 8 scenarios together would be in the 20-30 hour range). Can anyone else who’s played this offer an opinion? For now I’m going to move on to Arc the Lad II but if anyone can offer a compelling reason to play the other 6 scenarios I can do that before moving on to Esparks

SFC Game 73 – Love Quest

Love Quest (ラブクエスト)
Released 3/17/1995, published by Intermedia

This is a stupid game — that is, a “bakage” to use the Japanese word. It falls into the same category as Maka Maka in that it relies heavily on humor based on parody, gag manga tropes, poop jokes, puns, and occasional racist humor. It was originally developed for the Famicom and apparently completed in 1994, but then the release was cancelled and it was ported to the Super Famicom.

The game begins with the weak-willed “mothercon” (Jocasta complex) main character at his wedding with his fiance Yuka. But then suddenly Yuka disappears, and the main character goes on a quest to find her.

The game takes place entirely in various areas of Tokyo. There really is no coherent plot; it’s mostly just a string of parodies and jokes as I mentioned above, as the main character travels through various regions of Tokyo. I’ve never liked gag manga-style humor, and I didn’t really think most of the game was that amusing. Along the way you’re joined by two main helper women. The first is Haruka, who works as a cashier in a store.

 The second is Reiko, a “fleeter” (someone who does temporary jobs).

 
There are other women with these full size pictures as well, although they don’t join the party.
Some of the plot elements include defeating rogue cabs that have come to life, catching a panty thief, appearing on a TV station, and tricking a Crane Game machine into digging a tunnel.

In the end, you finally discover Yuka on a ship in Yokohama harbor. It turns out she ran away so that you could go out an earn experience and money, which makes you a more attractive husband. The main character is so upset by this that he rejects her and marries either Haruka or Reiko instead (depending on choices you made earlier). He throws away all his XP and gold, and the final scene is the new couple’s life where they have no money and he can’t get a job because he has no experience.

The game itself is a pretty normal RPG. It has a lot of usual bad features of old RPGs — slow walking with no dash button, no way to see the stats of equipment, no explanations of what the techniques (spells) do, etc. Rather than fighting monsters, you encounter women, and the “attack” command is replaced by “flirt” (kudoku, which can also just mean “persuade” — I don’t know if the game is using that as a kind of double meaning or whether the “persuade” meaning has become obsolete.)

Once you get party members, they don’t participate in the battle, but you can ask them to heal you or to “protect” (I never fully understood what this did). The main character’s techniques are color coded based on their effect, but it still would have been nice to have some explanation of them.

Some of the “foreigners” you meet are depicted in pretty stereotypical/racist manner, like the black person in the illustration above. Also at one point you visit the Indian embassy where they’re all walking around eating curry, and later they are contentedly eating a huge pile of poop, having mistaken it for curry. 

On the whole, I’m not sure this game is really worth playing. Maybe if you really like Japanese-style humor it might work for you, and at least I can say that the setting is original and it’s not the same old “defeat the demon lord” sword and sorcery game. There are a lot of townspeople to talk to. The enemies are colorful and detailed, and the graphics on the whole are fairly good, especially when you consider that this was ported from a Famicom game.

After yet another frustrating week with Blogger (having a lot of difficulty uploading the pictures, which has been broken ever since they switched to the new layout), I have decided almost for certain that I am going to transition to a WordPress site, where I will most likely combine my two blogs into one (using the more flexible layout to make it easy for people to find the various posts). It may be a while before I actually do this, and I will continue to post links on the Blogger site for a good while after I switch, but in the end I think it will be better. And if I continue to do posts after I finish the SFC project, that will be even more convenient.

Also, I may not have a post next weekend due to the Thanksgiving holiday, but we’ll see.

SFC Game 72 – Last Bible III

Last Bible III (ラストバイブルIII)
Released 3/4/1995, developed and published by Atlas


This is another game in the long running Megami Tensei franchise. By this point, there were five main Megami Tensei games plus the two Majin Tensei strategy RPGs. The Last Bible series was a spinoff that started on the Game Boy in 1992. The idea was to take the core idea of monster recruiting and combining, but put it into a more kid-friendly fantasy setting that eschewed the usual darker, post-apocalyptic settings of the main games. (The first two games were remade for the Game Boy Color, and the first one was released in English in 1999 as Revelations: Demon Slayer.) The games are also standard top-down RPGs rather than the first-person games of the main series.

This game has an English patch, so you can try it yourself.

1995 actually had three games released in the Bible series — Last Bible III, Another Bible (a strategy RPG which I covered on my other blog), and Last Bible Special, a game gear game that went back to the first-person dungeon style. This was a busy year for the franchise; 1995 is also when SNES remake of the first two games came out, as well as Devil Summoner for the Saturn.

I played the first two LB games quite a while back, but I don’t remember much about them. Of course because this is on Super Nintendo (and released in 1995) the graphics are much better:

The text can be annoying to read at times because they have mixed kanji and hiragana in words — I’ve played enough of these old games that I’m used to reading all hiragana text now, but having a mix of the two really throws off my speed. 

 

The story overall is much more developed than the previous games. It begins with a flashback to a group of “Shadow Walkers” who were heroes of a big war 15 years prior. One of them is Glen, the main character’s father. Another, Alec, is about to die in the snow but reaches a gate to the Makai (demon world). Now 15 years later, the Shadow Walkers are being targeted by the government of Megapolis, who has made a perpetual energy machine but at the same time outlawed the use of Gaia (a kind of magic power) by anyone. At the moment, Kurisu (the main character) is outside their purview, attending a school where he is taught to use his Gaia along with his friends. Soon, the Megapolis soldiers attack the town, and Kurisu is forced to flee. The story takes Kurisu through a fight against Megapolis while at the same time trying to figure out the mystery of the Shadow Walkers.

(The main character gains Gaia techniques from the school at the beginning, but I never found out how to actually use them. I was obviously missing something in the system because for me they always did 0-5 damage but I saw videos where people were using them for 400+ at the end of the game.)

 

The battle system is normal, but as is so often the case in these games, the game is virtually ruined by the unbelievable random encounter rate. This is my 72nd SFC game on this blog so I’ve seen a lot of games with high encounter rates, but this is one of the worst. The saving grace is that once you recruit monsters to your side, you can then talk to the monster type and the battle will end — even with this, though, it’s very tedious to go through the dungeons. And there are several places in the game where you only fight human enemies you can’t talk to — these places really sapped my will to play.

 

This is coupled by a poor balance throughout the game. The game goes from being very difficult to very easy. I reached the final boss around level 34 and got obliterated. I did grinding up to level 43 and tried again, and got obliterated. At this point I was so tired of the game I used a cheat to beat the final boss; I then went looking for guides and videos and found that most people recommended levels in the low to mid-50s (and they actually knew how to use the Gaia techniques of the main character). So I was supposed to grind 20 levels to beat the final boss, which is absurd.

The high random encounter rate coupled with rare/expensive MP restore items means that, as usual, magic is nearly worthless other than heal spells. I also found that in general the magic didn’t work very well.

As this is a Megami Tensei game, you can recruit monsters to your side. I think this is the best implementation yet of monster recruitment. You are still doing the usual “answer questions” system, but you can see both the mood of the monster and the connection level change as you answer, which means you can actually see what your answers are doing and it feels much less random. There’s also the normal monster combining. As with Shin MT2 and If…, I found usually the preset characters were better than the monsters.

This is a pretty harsh review, but I think it’s deserved. I was really disappointed by this game; I was expected another decent entry from Atlas. The world is interesting and the story is pretty good, which is a good basis, but the absurd random encounter rate and the sheer amount of grinding required makes the game a chore to play, and I got to the point where I was no longer caring about the story that much because I just wanted to get the game over with.

Now after I wrote this, I went looking for more information on the main character’s techniques, which I probably should have done during the game. Apparently you can increase the MP cost to do more damage. I wonder if I can go back and beat the final boss without cheating now, although it was mostly that I couldn’t survive his turns where he would attack 6-8 times doing several hundred damage to each person.

Anyway, if any of you have played this game maybe you can tell me how to suck less at it — I don’t think it will change my opinion on the encounter rate but maybe at least the balance won’t be such a problem then.

Next up is Vandal Hearts on my other blog, then we’ll come back here to an odd looking game, Love Quest.

SFC Game 71 – Eternal Filerna (Finished)

Last time I was heading into the Imperial capital, Bow. Bow is kind of odd because it seems like it’s just a big building — maybe we’re supposed to imagine it’s bigger or has more structures, but I’m not sure. In any case, the goal of reaching here was to find the great smith Uto, who had the secret of the Sword of Filerna.

Uto is in the basement, but he doesn’t believe Filerna’s story, until he fights her and sees her sword style. Then he reveals what he has been keeping — the Sword of Filerna can cleanse the sea that the Empire fouled, and will restore the kingdom of Firosela. So that’s now our goal, but the Black Demons have caught up with the party as well and once again we have to escape out of a secret underground passage.

Incidentally, a problem a lot of games and anime have with story consistency is how to have powerful villains that don’t just instantly crush the heroes. Most of the time this is done by making the villains incompetent for no reason, or they use nonsensical things like “Let’s not kill him now, let’s see how he progresses. Mwahaha.” or “There would be no point in killing you, you’re too weak. Mwahaha.” This game definitely leans on the incompetent villains trope. 

Better stories like Lord of the Rings use more coherent reasoning — Sauron doesn’t have the ability to warp anywhere in the world or make meteors strike Frodo. That quest succeeds partly because they play on Sauron’s blind spot (not thinking anyone would try to destroy the Ring), and using a small party that wasn’t based on combat ability. Sauron never quite learns where Frodo is or what he’s doing until the last moment.

So we escape through the basement, and fight yet another Black Demon (#22). The next goal is to head south to where Firosela was. We pass through a town and near a locked windmill shed, eventually reaching an empire military base.

We have to head back to the windmill and get some imperial clothing disguises; it also turns out that Yakos, the man there, was a Firoselan, and is happy to see that Filerna lived. He’s sick and probably won’t live to see the revival of Firosela, but at least he can help us proceed. Unfortunately the soldiers find us out pretty quickly, and we have to fight. Two of the top-tier Black Demons appear here; this was a big chokepoint for me where I had to move up about 6 levels to proceed (until I learned a better Crystal attack). Fortunately there is a heal spot in the barracks.

Afterwards there’s a strange looking baby creature in a bubble that flies away, but no explanation for that now. But now we can pass the military base and finally reach the place where Firosela was. Filerna tries to cleanse the sea with the Filerna sword.

 It makes the castle rise up that we saw in the flashback earlier. The door won’t open unless two Firoselans touch the statues, but if a non-Firoselan touches them they will die. We head back to the windmill to talk to Yakos — the rest of the game contains an annoying amount of backtracking. Yakos is too sick to go help us, but he notices that Lila reminds him of a Firoselan, and a fortune teller seems to confirm that she is Firoselan. It’s dangerous, but they try having Lila open the door, and it works.

Inside, Filerna learns that she needs to revive 6 lighthouses to be able to proceed and make a miracle happen. This part is mostly just wandering around, backtracking, and some fetch quests to make the lighthouses activate. Midway through, we head back to Bow having heard that the High Priest there is the true ruler of the Empire, and if we beat him it will severely cripple the Empire. On the way, we learn that the Resistance Armies have grown by a lot, all of them being inspired by this unknown “Filerna” that they’re hearing about. It turns out that this is all being spurred by Nest, the scenario writer we met at the beginning, who has been publishing an underground newspaper. He joins up to go deal with the high priest.

The high priest is underground in Bow, and we also find a place where they are experimenting on people (this is what they were doing to Fis much earlier). And in fact Fis is here, and fights us, but stops after a few rounds and instead decides to sacrifice himself to destroy the lab. We continue on to beat up the high priest, who actually is very easy to beat.

Once we activate all the lighthouses, the miracle is an ice boat that comes up.

We need to use this to go to the final area, the place where the Black Demons have their command HQ.

The final dungeon is a tower, and the final bosses were another chokepoint so it was time to grind (I was tired of these chokepoints and used a code this time to move up 4 levels).

After beating the last of the black demons, the story takes a strange turn:

 The fetus(?) tells us that it’s already destroyed the Empire for creating the abominations, and that now it’s just looking for a place to be born — the Heart of Hatred has captured the Pot of Life, and so we need to beat the Heart to allow this thing to be born. I don’t know what this has to do with the rest of the story (I checked another blogger who did this game and he also had no idea where this came from, so I didn’t miss anything).

The boss is not especially hard at the levels I was at (I think it’s easier than the final Black Demon fights). Upon being the boss’s two forms, we restore the Pot of Life, the source of all life of the planet. 

Now Filerna goes back to restore Firosela. We’re followed by some last remnant of the Black Demons, but when Filerna uses her sword in the ocean, Firosela is reborn and the thing dies.

Now Firosela is destroyed, and Lila seems to become the queen with Filerna. Is this the first lesbian relationship in an RPG? There’s no dialogue here but Lila is pretty insistent that she’s Filerna’s wife, throughout the whole game. I found a post of someone talking about the original novel and it does seem to imply that Lila is in love with Filerna.

Overall it’s an OK game. Interface annoyances and chokepoints are troublesome, but the skill system is interesting and the story is overall well done for a game of this period.

Next up is Last Bible III.