Random things

Albert Odyssey is a short game so I will likely be finished with it by Saturday. My copy of Metal Max 2 isn’t going to get here until next week, so I’m going to do a little detour next week into the PC Engine (Turbo Grafx CD) archives and play Tengai Makyo Ziria.

The PCE is a nostalgic console for me and if I had thought of it I would have probably done PCE before Super Famicom, but it’s too late now. Instead I think I will dip into the PCE archives every so often (maybe every 3-4 games). When I play the PCE games I will only play each game for a week unless I want to extend that because I’m enjoying the game (rather than just for completion purposes).

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I got a comment (not on this blog) that my blog was too negative, and that I wasn’t understanding enough of the early developers’ time and money limitations. I have wondered whether I’m too negative at times, and I think there’s always a question about whether old games like these should be reviewed how they seem in 2017, or how they would have seemed when they first came out.

So far I would rank the games I’ve played in the following categories:

  • Good: Dragon Quest V
  • Average: Glory of Heracles III, Benkei Gaiden, Xak
  • Bad: GDLeen, Maka maka, Villgust, Hero Senki, Song Master, SD Gundam 2, Elfaria, Romancing Saga
  • Terrible: Light Fantasy, Fist of the North Star 5, 3×3 Eyes, Cyber Knight

That’s 1 good, 3 average, 8 bad, and 4 terrible. That’s pretty bad overall, and maybe there is something to the argument that I’m being too harsh (Albert Odyssey is hovering in between Average and Bad for me right now).

However, I’m not sure it’s possible to put myself back in time to 1992. I was playing video games at the time, and I honestly don’t know how I would have reacted to some of these games if they had come out in English. I was pretty starved for RPGs at the time, but I was also a kid who only got a few games a year. So there was a lot more reason to play a bad game, which is a different situation than 2017 where you can play all these games for free (or even if you want to get them for actual consoles they’re pretty cheap).

I know this was early in the SFC lifecycle and developers were still figuring out the new console, but I’m not sure that excuses the quality of the games. Light Fantasy sold for 8900 yen, which at the time was 71$ US. That’s a lot of money to play for a game that’s barely playable. It’s not like the LF designers had no examples of SRPG-type battles to look at — the battle system is worse than Ultima III, which was made 10 years earlier.

Really all I can do is speak to my own enjoyment of each game, as someone playing these games in 2017. I try to give the creators credit where credit is due (I praised LF’s graphics, for instance, and 3×3 Eyes had good music). But the fact that LF may have been rushed for time or money (it clearly was not tested very much) doesn’t make it any more fun to play.

I mentioned this before, but I was very relieved at how much I enjoyed Dragon Quest V. I had started to wonder whether I had just played too many games to go back to these 25-year old RPGs and enjoy them. There may be something to that, but I still think I can find some fun standouts, and I’m expecting the general quality to improve as I get through the library.

10 thoughts on “Random things

  1. Zenic Reverie

    Most of the quality generated high sales, which often meant money to spend on localization. Cutting all games localized outside Japan means you're eliminating most of the good games.

    As for the mindset for reviewing, I think you're doing it right; it's more beneficial to know if these games are of some worth today rather than some psuedo-contemporary viewpoint.

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  2. Kurisu

    I don't know if that's really the case — Dragon Quest V, Final Fantasy V, and Shin Megami Tensei are examples of unlocalized games I've encountered so far, which all sold really well in Japan.

    There's also a sharp drop in localizations after 1993, and by the time you get to 1995 (in Japanese release date) almost no RPGs were localized beyond that point. So I should be able to find better stuff as I go on.

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  3. mpx

    Enix America Corporation was closed in 1995, and maybe Dragon Quest V was not released because of poor sales of NES Dragon Quest games?

    According to Wikipedia, for Final Fantasy V from 1993 to 1998 there were plans for relesase on SNES, and later on PC.

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  4. monju

    Enix… I applaud them for taking risks, like bringing Lennus 1 and more overseas. Closing their American branch around time the best SFC games were being made in Japan was a moronic decision. Where was the American release of Mystic Ark? Lennus 2? Terranigma? Besides those, SSMS/Aretha/Odysselya series could have been worthy projects to bring over at that time.

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  5. Kurisu

    I believe I read one time that Japanese companies simply did not care about the US market until well into the Playstation era. RPGs were considered particularly dangerous until FF7's sales surprised them. That's why we got so few of them, and why the localizations were often sloppy.

    The American releases of NES RPGs in particular often had a lot of baby hand-holding — I remember that DQ3 included an extensive hint guide that covered the entire game, and FF1 had all kinds of maps, monster information, and such that wasn't in the Japanese package.

    I wonder why that was given that the CRPGs of the time were very complicated and difficult — I guess the audiences for the computers vs. consoles were just totally different (or at least viewed that way).

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  6. monju

    FF Mystic Quest pretty much sums up everything about the Japanese attitude towards overseas markets/people at that time… 🙂

    Then again, it's interesting that the Japanese custom of publishing a huge volume of in-depth, illustrated and detailed game guidebooks during this era doesn't conform the to the notion that they'd only consider overseas markets needing of 'baby hand-holding'. Surely we had game guides over here too, but they never were that huge of a thing as in Japan.

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  7. Kurisu

    I guess they didn't think we'd pay extra for them. Wasn't there even a concern Western players wouldn't understand Legend of Zelda when it was first coming out in the US?

    Sometimes this worked to our advantage though; the English version of Dragon Warrior 1 and 2 are far superior to the Japanese versions — they have saves instead of passwords, and the graphics are a lot better.

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  8. nofakenews

    All of the NES DW games came out at least two years after the respective Japanese versions, so they were able to be reworked to take advantage of the larger-capacity ROMs that were available at the time. The exception was DW4, where the Japanese version was already at the practical upper size limit for a NES cartridge at 4 megabits.

    Dragon Warrior 2 got a fancy new intro and of course the addition of battery backup, but I don't think any of the in-game graphics were improved or changed except for Nintendo censorship reasons (religious symbols). Certainly not to the same extent that DW1's graphics were improved.

    Dragon Warrior 3 got an animated intro, a real title screen (the Japanese version's was just black and white text) and some added music, including the now-iconic Intermezzo, which was backported from DQ4.

    Without a doubled ROM capacity to play with, Dragon Warrior 4 only got some bug fixes and… for some reason, a completely different look for the ending credits when you finished the game. The Japanese version displayed the credits in a proportionally-spaced font, which is very technically impressive on the NES but not very splashy; the US version instead got credits that trailed "pixie dust" as they scrolled up the screen.

    Actually, now that I think about it, maybe all of the DW games got splashier endings than the Japanese versions. DW4 is just the only one I can remember because the game was otherwise changed so little compared to the earlier ones.

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