Just Breed (ジャストブリード)
Release Date: 12/15/1992
Developer: Random House
- Turn type: Player turn/enemy turn.
- Maps: Small to medium.Terrain slows movement and may give bonuses, but I’m not sure. You win a map by beating all enemies or by getting the main character to the next town/cave/etc.
- Character customization: None.
- Character development: Standard XP/level system. XP is shared among members of a squad.
- Party: You have up to 4 parties on each map; each party has a leader and 5 underlings. There are six total leaders, and their squads join and leave as the story progresses (you never get a choice). Some maps are indoors, and you only get to use the leaders in that case.
- Equipment: Four equipment slots per character.
- Game flow:You proceed from one battle to the next in a linear fashion. Sometimes you can repeat battles, sometimes they disappear (although maybe only for a time). There are towns between the battles where you can talk to people, buy things, etc.
- Saving: At inns in the town.
- Death: Not permanent. If the leader dies the entire squad retreats from the map. Reviving guys is cheap. Even if the main character is killed, you lose some money but the XP you gained from the level remains.
This is both the last game of 1992 and the last game for the Famicom (on my list). Graphically of course it’s inferior to the PC Engine and Mega Drive games I’ve been playing, although for the Famicom it’s impressive. The monsters, designed by Takada Yuzo (of 3×3 Eyes fame) have detailed pictures you can see by looking at their stats, and the character have Takada’s art in the instruction manual. The music is also impressive, both from a technological and quality standpoint — I only wish there were more music tracks.
The key point of the game, to me, are the monster lairs. These are what prevent you from using a turtle strategy or a “move slowly forward picking off guys one at a time”. If you do that, you’ll find yourself overwhelmed. So you have to press forward and split up your team to deal with the lairs. This can prove to be an annoyance, but it also puts more strategic value in your moves. My main complaint is that it’s very unclear when lairs are actually going to produce monsters. It’s a confusing combination of map variance, distance to the lairs, the number of units already on screen, and maybe other factors. I don’t like this kind of uncertainty because it makes it harder to plan strategically. And there also seemed to be times where I was able to use the technical limitations of the Famicom to “cheat” in a sense by moving so many of my own squads onto the screen that there was no memory or sprite space for new monsters to appear.
The game gets significantly easier once you unlock the higher level damage spells. The game is not totally unbalanced; the MP are limited enough that you can’t just waltz in and cast a bunch of spells. But it definitely lowers the difficulty until you reach the final area.
On the whole I enjoyed this game, and unusually I found myself enjoying it more as the game went on. There were annoying parts, and it does take a long time to move all the units (although the Auto mode helps). But for 1992 it’s a solid game and one of the best of the 14 games I’ve played so far.
Next Wednesday I’ll post the 1992 wrap-up and then the two successive weeks I’ll write posts about two games I’ve already played (Albert Odyssey and Ogre Battle). After that, whenever I finish the Super Famicom game I’m on it will be time for Shining Force Gaiden II.