Light Fantasy II (ライトファンタジーII), released 10/27/1995, developed by Tonkin House
I’ve been dreading this since I played the original Light Fantasy years ago as one of the first games I did on the blog. The original game was horrendously bad; one of the worst designed games I’ve ever played and a good contender for the single worst RPGs on the system and one of the worst RPGs ever made. It’s virtually unplayable — the only reason it’s not is that you can exploit a glitch to turn random encounters on and off, and there’s a trick you can use with a gambling game to make as much money as you need. Using both of those you can get through the game fairly quickly.
This game improves on the original to the point where it’s playable, but it’s much longer. Basically it went from a short, unplayably bad game, to a long, still very bad game.
The battle system is the same as the first one, with the grid SRPG-style. The annoying movement ranges that the original game had are made somewhat better, and you don’t miss as often as you did in the first game. But the pots the enemies leave still block your movement, and the whole system is still very slow.
The status effects are still a huge problem with the game. There are a bunch of them (even more than the first game) and most do not go away at the end of a battle or sleeping at an inn. So you have to carry around a lot of status heal items or have the status heal spells — the inventory is much larger this time and you can stack items, which helps a bit. But so many enemies have spells that target everyone on the board and cause devastating status effects.
Basically you want to do the same thing as in Light Fantasy 1 — avoid the majority of the game’s encounters (since any random encounter can provide a game over), and only fight at certain points with fairly easy monsters to level up. The balance is all over the place, with one dungeon having enemies that aren’t very hard and give good XP, and the next dungeon having enemies that can give you a game over before you get a turn, but give almost no XP.
I used a no-encounter cheat code for most of the game. I also used a cheat code that makes the fast walking spell permanent (it’s annoying to see a late 1995 game require you to use items or spells to temporarily walk fast). I also used a money cheat to buy things. There’s probably a discussion to be had whether I should simply skip the game rather than use all these cheats to win, but I’m still following the old rules I set down for myself although I’ve rarely wanted to break them as much as I did for this game.
The interface is annoying. As you might expect, you cannot see stats of weapons or armor in shops or in the menu. There’s no way in-game to fight out what a spell does, and they have names like “gongon” and “yura”. At least the spells do not take as much MP as they did in the first game, so you’re freer to use them (and a level up restores all MP and HP).
As in the first game, you can form your party by inviting a lot of random people in towns — dogs, mermaids, demons, people — and you can also invite monsters from battle. As with the first game, this would be a neat feature if the battle system were actually fun.
The game takes place several hundred years after the first one, with another “jiyuu no yuusha” (Hero) who has to power up the Earth Sword to be able to defeat an evil goddess and save the world. What has increased the length so much is the unbelievable amount of backtracking you have to do, and the sheer number of fetch quests. You are constantly being diverted and digressed — you need item X but to get that you need Y, and to get that you need Z, but while getting Z you come across a child who has lost his father so we have to go look for the father and to do that we need item A but to get that B…I’m not even really exaggerating with this description. The majority of the game has no feeling of any kind of forward movement, and the power ups of the Earth Sword are mostly done because we blunder across the spirits in the course of these fetch quests.
If you played this game completely straight with no cheats, I think it would take in the 40-70 hour range, and 20-25 of those hours would be backtracking through places. There is no town warp or dungeon warp spell, and a good number of the towns you need to visit are through dungeons. So any time the game needs you to go to that town you have to go through the whole dungeon again. Sometimes you have to go to the town, and then learn about the fetch quest, walk back through the dungeon to get out, get your item for the fetch quest, then go all the way back through the dungeon to the town again, and out again.
Many of the dungeons are like the above, requiring you to use light spells or torches which only give you a small viewing area. This makes the whole dungeon backtracking part even more annoying.
The story is pretty basic. The hero is the descendant (I think) of the hero from the first game. At the beginning monsters are following him, and three women turn him into a baby and sacrifice themselves to save him. So for the first part you are a baby who can equip armor and weapons; it’s not really explained how you are able to attack.
As the game progresses, Ash (the default name) ages — apparently the baby form is a representation of his weak spirit, and as he gets more heroic he becomes an adult. Early in the game we learn that Lefina, who Ash wants to save, is being held by The Goddess. We need to power up the Earth Sword with all the spirits to be able to enter the towers that will open the way to where the Goddess is. This early plot development is then followed by the 70% of the game or so that is just fetch quest after fetch quest.
Eventually we gain access to the towers and open the way to the floating castle where The Goddess is. Using the help of a scientist we get shot out of a cannon into the castle and then have to beat a number of bosses. The bosses are quite difficult — there is a magic spell that drains all their MP which helps a lot, and if you’re cheating and have 99 elixirs that’s enough healing power to beat it, but even so I got a couple of game overs when I wasn’t quick enough to heal. I cannot imagine how painful this game would be to play with no help at all.
It turns out that Mink, a girl who lost her memory and has been accompanying you, is actually the Darkness Spirit that the Goddess created. But she turns against the Goddess, gives the dark power to the sword, and releases Lefina, who completes the Earth Sword with the light power. Then you fight the final boss.
On my first try, the boss killed the main character in one hit. The second time after I drained its MP there was some kind of glitch and she did not take any turns for the rest of the fight so I was able to just use spells until she died. She apologizes for being jealous of the hero and tells us to tell everyone in the world that she was sorry. The hero uses the sword to repair all the damage, we go back and heal various people that had been sick for the whole game, and then Kurisu goes off on a new adventure.
After the credits you can to go the Development Village where the game designers are. Unfortunately you can’t fight and kill them.
To sum up, this is a truly awful game — surely one of the worst RPGs ever made. The developers should all be ashamed of putting this game on the market and Tonkin House should be ashamed of having published it, especially in 1995 less than a month before Dragon Quest VI. I resent that I had to play it and write about it. There is no way to communicate through text how painful an experience it is to play this. If I had to choose to play Light Fantasy 1 or 2 again I would definitely do 1 — this game took 25 hours, and that was with following a walkthrough, not spending a lot of time talking to random people in towns, and using all the cheats I described earlier.
I’m amazed garbage like Light Fantasy and Dual Orb managed to even get sequels. Reviews can’t have been very kind to them back then. Are there just that many kuso connoisseurs that a sequel is considered financially viable?
I think that in the early 90s there was such an RPG boom/hunger in Japan that you could sell almost anything if it was an RPG, no matter how bad. I’m not sure if that was true by 1995 but LF1 probably sold better than it should have in 92.
At least Dual Orb 2 turned out to be a more or less decent mid-tier snes rpg. I had a chuckle every time I heard the overworld tune, as the first seconds from it were a blatant Star Wars theme rip-of, hahaha.
Not getting Kusoges like these is one of the few good side effects of missing out on most of the RPG games for the super famicom
Agreed, while we may have lost out on some hidden gems, there was perhaps an equal number of bad/average games we were spared from. The same (maybe even more so) is true of the PSX era, since there were also ‘a lot’ of JP exclusives there. Now that I think about it, nowadays we’re getting pretty much everything of note, and even a lot more ‘minor’ games.
I wonder if he’d consider doing a follow up series of Japanese only RPGS lol.
I feel like games like this, who aren’t technically as bad as the more obviously awful titles. Titles like these are playable enough that you reason they might just get good, or are easier to want to power through. Not like the truly awful ones where you quit 30 minutes in because its that unplayable. (also, heh, didn’t see those character names at first)
That said, not having the best understanding of the PSX era, don’t a lot of those titles not offer you any running speed or any decent running speed for the size of their game world? Granted, that’s a slightly different problem than the ones in these late SFC and PCE titles.