Record of Lodoss War (ロードス島戦記)
Released 7/17/1992, published by Hudson
Lodoss War is one of the first anime I ever saw — I rented it from Blockbuster on VHS. It originally came out of a tabletop RPG, which was then published in magazines in the form of “replays”, which were basically just accounts of the gaming sessions. The franchise expanded to include novels, anime, manga, and several video games. The PC Engine game here is based on a PC-98 game although I don’t know how closely the original game was followed. It has that “odd” feel that a lot of these early PC ports have (see Burai, La Valeur, Deathbringer).
The game opens with the vocal song Adesso e Fortuna (the above video is a cover; they seem to delete the original Japanese version aggressively). This is the first PCE game I’ve played on this blog that has a vocal song.
The main character is Parn, a “knight” (really just a sword user) who sets out to defeat Beld, who rules Marmo. This is a bit different from how the anime and source novels go. The first task, aided by Parn’s friend and priest Eto, is to rescue a girl from goblins. There are voiced scenes like the one below; it shares the problem with Sol Menage that the speech is mixed too low with respect to the music and it’s hard to hear what they’re saying. I would have expected an emulation bug except that Japanese players complained about Sol Menage, and probably 3/4 of the games I’ve played are fine in this respect.
|Parn and Eto|
The towns are just a menu-based system. As usual you can’t see the stats of items until you buy them, but it’s usually fairly evident which ones are better. The battle system is an Ultima III-inspired style:
|vs. two wolves|
I often don’t like this style of battle — it takes too long and sometimes isn’t very different from a standard battle. I actually thought it worked well in this game, though. The random encounter rate is fairly low, and you can easily restore MP by camping after a battle (you only regain a bit, but then you can take one step and camp again). This means you can actually use your spells, and many of them are useful. There are area effect spells or spells that hurt a line of enemies, and sleep/hold/silence spells that are actually worth casting.
On the way to the goblins we meet Deedlit, the elf:
She adds some good damage spells, and an area sleep spell.
|Eat it goblins|
Slayn has also joined there; after we find the mayor’s daughter she’s under a spell so we have to find Slayn to cure her. Now with 4 members of the party, it’s on to the next area to see how we can fight against Marmo. One nice feature of the game is that you get a lot of XP for completing quests and events, lessening the amount of grinding you have to do. The enemies also drop good items to sell.
Next to join is the dwarf Ghym, showing the clear D&D inspiration of the whole scenario. Of course Deedlit and he don’t seem to get along. Next up is Woodchuck the thief, played by Wakamoto Norio. Now the party is complete. The battles start to slog a bit in this section, fortunately the game includes an auto battle that you can customize to tell the characters whether to use spells, items, etc. Often you can win battles by starting on manual until you have the battle under control and then use auto to finish it up.
In the Alania kingdom we find a note in a thieves’ hideout that says the king will be targeted by assassins. The only way to get the note to him is to enter a tournament. The first rounds are easy but the final spider boss is not.
|The shade above the spider is Deedlit’s summon|
The king is happy to get our warning and lets us pass on to the next kingdom. There are two possible ways to get there — Deedlit wants to take the forest route, Ghym the desert. Of course I have to follow Deedlit. Her village and house are in the forst
|Apparently in the computer version this was a more explicit picture|
Also in the forest is a house inhabited by a dark elf, working for Marmo.
|Ooh la la|
There are a lot of spellcasters in these battles, which makes the Silence and Hold spells particularly useful. If you can get all of them stopped, the rest of the battle becomes much easier. One complaint I had is that Etoh takes too long to get the next healing spell. Although it’s cheap to buy healing potions that people can use for 50 hp heal so it’s not terrible. There are also magic defense spells that help.
|Now who’s laughing|
Once the dark elf squad is defeated, we get to Valis kingdom and meet the Grey Witch, played by my favorite seiyuu Sakakibara Yoshiko (of Haman Karn fame)
She takes us all prisoner, but we escape, and find a princess along the way. Returning her to the grateful king gives us a big feast.
|And experience too|
This is about as far as I played. Judging from walkthrough sites this is about 2/3 of the game — it’s fairly short, and I considered playing the whole thing, but it’s not a masterpiece. This is still theoretically superfamicomrpgs so I don’t want to spend too much time on the PCE stuff. But I was pleasantly surprised by the battle system. It had a lot of chances to get bogged down, and although there are some balance issues, you have a lot of options in battle and it rarely works just to mash attack. But you can run from battles and the encounter rate is low enough that this isn’t a big problem.
There’s a sequel for the PCE which looks like it has similar gameplay. The later SFC game has no connection to these and is more console-ish from the looks of it.