Treasure Hunter G (トレジャーハンターG), released 5/24/1996, developed by Sting, released by Square
This is Square’s final game for the Super Famicom. It’s classified by some people as a strategy RPG, for me it’s perhaps SRPG adjacent but isn’t quite there. The game follows Red G and Blue G, the sons of the treasure hunter Brown G who has disappeared seeking something. The brothers go north of their town to look for an “iron bird” that appeared there, which begins an adventure that leads to the usual world-saving quest.
The battles take place on grids like the above. Each character has a certain number of ACT points, which decrease when you take actions. The enemies have colored areas around them, and moving within them takes more ACT points the stronger the color is. Also there is a “grid level” to the whole map which also affects how many points all the actions take.
Overall this is an interesting system. The biggest problem with it is that you cannot take back any move, meaning that if you hit the wrong direction you can end up wasting a large amount of points. The attacks can also go wrong — if you try to attack empty air it won’t use any points, but you can attack your own allies and that will take up points. So you need to pay careful attention to which way you’re facing (you can change with the L and R button).
Each character also has abilities that use up SP. SP go up by levelling and then paying 50 gold to a priest (who also saves your game). After a battle, each character will recover some HP, and you also recover HP when you gain a level (even in battle).
There are two types of defense — F Guard (front) and B Guard (back); often it’s better to attack enemies from behind, although it may take more movement points to get there. Some weapons have 2 range and will hit any enemies/allies in that range. Axes knock enemies into another square and also usually turn them around.
Inventory management is a huge headache. Each character can only carry 20 items, and you get a lot of items so that quickly fills up. You’re constantly having to discard items or sell them — I’ve said this before but I’ve never played a game where I thought it was fun to frequently manage inventory. Inventory space doesn’t necessarily have to be unlimited, but when you are having to do inventory management multiple times in each town or dungeon and after every couple of battles, that’s tedious.
The game also has unnecessarily “cute” ways of doing town services — you pay for the inn and then have to walk to the bed yourself. You buy things by picking up items, then going to the clerk and paying for them, and then deciding whose inventory each will go in (at which point you can’t see the stats or who can equip). There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel like this for something that makes the experience worse.
The graphics are fine — they are a good example of late SFC style. I feel that the sprites are kind of fuzzy and they remind me of Donkey Kong Country; I think I prefer the more typical sharper style of RPG sprite but it’s not a big issue.
There are four characters in your party:
- Red is the typical sword fighter. He gets a lot of action points and can equip powerful weapons. He also had sword techniques — the “double attack” is particularly useful in boss battles.
- Blue uses spears or axes. Spears have a 2 range; sometimes it’s one front and one back, sometimes it hits both enemies in range, other times just the one 2 away (depends on the spear). His moves are all trap-laying moves that require enemies to walk over them. I never bothered using them, or any of the items that have the trap effects.
- Rain is the healer, she uses Chakrams which have a 2 range and can also cast fire spells. But the healing is her main virtue.
- Pongo is a monkey, who has a wide variety of elemental spells and also uses 2 range boomerangs. His AoE spells are very useful in a lot of battles.
The battle strategies tend to revolve around minimizing your AP expenditure moving, but you also need to get in position to do good damage (especially if you have to attack from behind). Spells can help a lot. Sometimes there are enemies that hide at the back and attack all of your guys or summon people, and so there you have to be able to either beat the front enemies quickly or manage to get around them to the back.
For the most part I did not find the game particularly challenging although there are a few tough battles. There are often heal points in dungeons, and the enemy encounters do not regenerate until you leave the dungeon so it’s not uncommon that you can heal completely after each fight if you need to.
The plot is a pretty basic “collect 7 items to stop the Dark King from destroying the world” plot with only one or two twists. There is some evidence of haste; several characters are introduced that seem like they should be involved in the storyline but barely make an appearance at all.
This game is OK but could have been a lot better if they had a better inventory system. Nevertheless, it’s probably still worth playing for SFC RPG fans, and I believe there is a patch.