Imagination Science World Gulliver Boy (空想科学世界ガリバーボーイ), released 5/26/1995, developed by Hudson
This is a game based on an anime that ran during 1995. As the title and the picture above indicate, it takes place in an alternate post-Renaissance Europe, where magic and technology coexist. There were three games based on the IP — this one (which was remade for Saturn in 1996), a puzzle game on the Game Boy, and an action RPG on the Super Famicom which I will get to eventually (I have it as game 117 on my list).
The development team that worked on the PC Engine game contained some people that worked on Tengai Makyo, and it shows in the presentation of the game. The most impressive thing about the game is the inclusion of a large number of FMV anime sequences, something that I’m not sure occurs in any other PCE game. This follows a pattern that you can see in games like Star Ocean and Super Robot Taisen J, where late in the release cycle of a console developers figure out how to wring every last drop of capability from the system.
What is impressive is not only that the FMV sequences exist, but how many of them there are and how long each one is. I just played Harukaze Sentai V Force, which relied on many anime sequences as well, but then the rest of the game suffered due to the time and money spent on it. Gulliver Boy was able to avoid this trap because the anime and game were planned at the same time, and even though the game takes place in the second half of the anime story, the animators were able to reuse many of the anime sequences for the show, so they could share the development budget.
Now because the scenes are on the PC Engine, they don’t look great. The resolution is small and there is a lot of dithering to get the graphics to work out, but despite that they are perfectly watchable and do add to the experience.
In addition to the anime scenes, a lot of dialogue is voiced. On the whole, it’s one of the most impressive RPGs on the system from a visual and presentation standpoint.
Like Tengai Makyo, the gameplay itself is kind of disappointing. It’s a typical RPG style of this era, although simplified in some ways. There’s only one equipment slot for each character, and it isn’t really a weapon or armor but depends on who they are (like Edison gets springs). Each character also has a special ability that uses MP (magic for Gulliver, science for Edison — thematically different, but not in gameplay). For some reason there is no visible XP, but you do level up after beating enough monsters.
The game starts with Gulliver, who is the son of a rich trading company president. He saves his friend Edison, a science geek, from some tough guys but in the process Edison’s new invention destroys the bell tower in Venice. As punishment, Gulliver gets sent to a magic school, where he’s bored out of his mind.
One of the teachers tells him to undergo the Trials Cave in order to unlock his “magic mind” and graduate from the school.
The battle system is sort of an FF4 type real-time system. Since there’s no XP I didn’t even realize you could level by fighting monsters, so I ran into big trouble in the trial cave until I watched a video and saw that you can indeed level by fighting. So I did that for a bit and made it through the cave (since it’s just Gulliver, there’s no possible strategy, just holding down fight).
Gulliver graduates and heads back to Venice, where his father gives him a ship and sets him out to trade. He picks up Edison, of course, and a new companion Feebee, a sort of sprite or fairy.
She acts randomly in battle to do various things. You can also give her items but it was never clear to me what that did.
Gulliver goes around visiting some of the towns on the Mediterranean, but when he returns to Venice, Spanish soldiers have taken over the town, led by Doga who wants to become a king. The actual king is weak and powerless, but Gulliver’s father tries to fight Doga.
Doga kills Gulliver’s father, but then we manage to take him down and chase him off. At the same time, a mysterious man is trying to capture a girl named Misty that Gulliver met earlier. Gulliver tries to save her but the man (Gekko) kicks the crap out of him.
Gulliver decides he needs to chase after Gekko, but the way out of the Mediterranean is blocked by Spanish mines. Enter the butler of Gulliver’s house, who was actually a pirate, and he helps Gulliver meet another pirate named Vulcan. After doing a little quest for Vulcan, he removes the mines for us and we are out into the wide sea.
He takes us to an underground cave where Misty and Gekko are. Even though Gekko kicks our ass again, a mysterious ninja girl comes in and drives him off, allowing us to save Misty.
Unfortunately back in Venice, the whole city is underwater. Gulliver finds the Chinese wolfman dude who he got the fairy from.
The guy tells him that something big is going to happen, but Gulliver can stand up to it, and he gives Gulliver a glove with a gem on it that will increase his power.
This is where I stopped, which seems to be about 20% of the game. As I said above, the system is boilerplate and not very interesting, but the animation, voice, and story all seem quite good, so this is probably worth a play if the pedestrian gameplay doesn’t bother you.