Sword World SFC 2 (ソード・ワールドＳＦＣ２）
Released 7/15/1994, T&E Soft
This game is a followup to Sword World SFC, a game based on a popular tabletop RPG in Japan. The game is still going in Japan, with 2.0 released in 2008 and 2.5 in 2018. It seems that in successive versions they have abandoned the more realistic (D&D based?) art of the original and gone with a contemporary anime art style. But this SNES game is still based on the original version.
The system and the way the game works is nearly identical to the first game, so please review my post on that game. The only major change is that you can now level your classes up to 10 instead of 5. There are also more missions than the first game, and there is more story. The game shares the same flaws as the first game, but I liked it in spite of that — the game was clearly created by people who were familiar with playing tabletop RPGs, and each mission feels like an abstracted tabletop gaming session. In my experience, only Pool of Radiance shares that quality, and I would say that in some ways these two Sword World games feel even more tabletop-like than the AD&D Gold Box ones. (However, I think that this game goes further towards standard video game RPG elements than the first game did.)
As in the first game you start out creating a character. This time I went with a Dwarf Fighter-Priest. One visual change in this game is that you have the option to see the dice rolling for everything. This slows down the game a lot and I did not enable it, but I think that if you knew the actual SW tabletop rules this would be a useful option. Although I don’t know how authentic it is; if you had the SW rulebook could you actually know exactly what die roll you were aiming for? The game itself does not tell you.
You can then go around the Inn and recruit some characters. I went with these:
- Cynthia, a human with Sorcerer 2 and Sage 2.
- Materia, a half-elf with Thief 3 and Shaman 2.
- Salem, a human with Sorcerer 2, Priest 2, and Sage 1
I had initially taken another fighter but the enemies on the first mission are almost impossible to hit for some reason, so magic is necessary. You also quickly get Arveil, who apparently is from one of the supplemental books for SW. He’s a fighter and stays with you the rest of the game.
The first mission is to discover what’s going on in the tombs underneath the city. As I said, these missions feel like the way we would play D&D as kids — you get some kind of mission, have to gather information, then explore a dungeon and do some fights and find treasure. Some of the missions don’t involve much (or any) fighting.
For some reason this first mission is quite difficult; as I said above the enemies can barely be hit by the fighters so you have to rely on magic. The characters’ MP is not very important because you just buy Magic Stones that can be used as MP.
Once you complete this quest, Arveil is called by the King. He used to be a knight but had his title stripped; he can gain it back by doing this task — go to the western town of Palmia and borrow a secret document they have, and return it to the king. The game from this point basically divides into two parts. The journey to Palmia takes you through a number of cities or towns. Each one has additional missions, some of them you can skip and some you have to do.
Along the way we start picking up bits of information about the giants. They seem to be attacking humans more than usual. They’re upset about this great road that was made connecting all the cities — while it increased the trade and prosperity of the human cities, it also caused the humans to encroach onto the giants’ lands and start to kill them and rob their things. At one point we befriend a captive giant who has been made to fight in an arena. The ruler of the city was going to use poison and other means to make sure he lost, but we also enter the tournament and ensure that we win, requesting that the giant gets freed in return.
A lot of the other missions are small, side-quest type things like protecting sheep from wolves, finding herbs to cure sick people, etc. In this first part of the game, Sleep Cloud is by far the most useful spell. It has a huge range and puts most enemies to sleep, allowing the fighters to pick them off.
This game shares the problem of the last one in that you don’t feel like your guys are getting stronger. This is partly because the numbers are all hidden — there’s no in game indication at all of what it does to level up from Fighter 2 to Fighter 3. The instruction manual for the original game did not specify, and I suppose you would have to look at the TRPG rulebook to find out.
My main party was Arveil and Kurisu who were focusing on fighters (I leveled up Kurisu’s priest ability until he could use Cure Disease since that seems to be the only way to heal it), and one Sorcerer and Shaman.
Eventually we reach Palmia and recover the secret document, which turns out to be the method by which the Great Road was constructed — the King wants to construct another one apparently. But before we can head back to the King, the giant problem becomes more acute. It turns out that one of the giants is going to do a ritual involving human blood that will result in the resurrection of a god. I was somewhat disappointed by this because it seems like this is where the game goes back into standard JRPG territory. That’s not to say that D&D games never involved this kind of story, but they could have gone with something else.
First we have to be allowed by this wise old giant to go in and stop the ritual. After this is the final dungeon, and this is also very JRPG like — you have to find 4 orbs and use them in the right rooms to unlock doors and move on.
The final boss has two forms (JRPG again) and it’s a rather annoying fight because he can only be hurt by three things — a special sword you get, one spell, and an item that casts that spell. I got basically no use out of the spell so it was just up to the sword, meaning that there was some luck in whether the boss chose to attack the sword guy or not.
Once we win, the people at Palmia warn us that the King may want the road building document to build a new road to the east in preparation for new wars and conquests, just as they did against the giants before. But there’s no choice; we return the document, Arveil becomes a knight again, and the game ends. Now there is one other ending if you take a different choice earlier in the game; maybe in that case you don’t give the document to the king?
Overall I enjoyed this game as much as I did the first one. The story is much better, but I wish they had not gone with the JRPG-style conclusion. I think this would be even more enjoyable if you actually understood the Sword World system, but it’s playable even if you don’t.
This seems to have been the last of the Sword World based RPGs. There are some mobile games that I can’t find any information about, and then in the 2000s there were several games based on Sword World 2.0, but I’m not sure any of them are RPGs. There was a DS game but it seems to be a choose your own adventure style game (maybe more like the Lone Wolf books if anyone remembers those).
Next up is Dragon Knight III but I’m only going to be making a short post on that; I’ve already started Tenshi no Uta (which has a patch).