Story/Characters: Don’t expect much from this area. The story is a pretty simple A->B->C affair with little in the way of twists or surprises. The characters are also just sketches, with virtually no character development and only the slightest backstory.
World: The world is a lot of fun. It’s based on things like Tarzan or the Jungle Book, although they throw in technology, robots, and other stuff. Each area has a lot of personality, whether it’s the penguin kingdoms, the large City, or the “lake of tears.”
Game Flow: You have a lot of freedom in the order to do certain events, and you can nearly always find something to do just by exploring ahead. In this case it’s a very easy game to play and keep interested in. However, as I mentioned in the last post, the random encounter rate is a huge problem. Even cutting the rate in half it would still be too high. My feeling is always that if the encounter rate is too high, it makes exploring a chore rather than the fun it should be. It also throws off the game balance because even though I ran from a huge number of the fights, I was still clearly overlevelled for the boss fights.
System: Standard attack-item-defense-magic for the most part. Mio’s MP are high enough that you can actually use her spells in random battles, which is always appreciated. Sasuke has special moves involving tree nuts and fruits, and he can also do random things to help in battle. The 4th character you can choose, and they also often have pseudo-AI and random stuff.
Side Quests/Optional Content:There are several optional dungeons and events you can do, as well as an auction, a tournament, and paying money to rebuild the railroad. You can even do all this stuff after you beat the game.
Interface: These games continue to baffle me. Final Fantasy IV is now two years old, and games are still being made that lack a unified “action” button, and where it’s cumbersome to see what the stats of equipment are in stores. This doesn’t seem like it should be that hard. Even if the games are copying Dragon Quest, DQV had all this stuff. I just don’t get it.
Graphics/Sound: The graphics are still basically NES-style with upgraded colors and such. The enemy sprites are varied and creative, and there are few (if any) palette swap monsters. The music is servicable and sounds Jungle-ish but isn’t too memorable.
On the whole this is another Average game. I might have been able to push it to Good if it weren’t for the random encounter rate. Perhaps it’s a testament to the game’s quality that even with that significant flaw, I was still interested in playing the game and was rarely forcing myself to play it.
Next on the list is Dorabocchan Cho Makai Taisen. This game is debatable as an RPG. I think it fits my definitions but just barely — however, since it came out in English (as Twisted Tales of Spike McFang) I will skip it.
After that is Neugeir, which is not an RPG by my definition.
So skipping those, the next SFC game is Breath of Fire. Even though this did come out in English, it’s such a famous game that I’ll at least give it a try.
I also made some changes to the rules (on the rule page) but it’s basically just clarifying what I was already doing. Basically it just says that if I try a game that has been released in English or that I’ve played before, I can stop if I want for whatever reason.
Finally, I’m going to be out of town the next two weekends, so updates could be sporadic until April 1.