Monday, June 26, 2017

Game 9 - Fist of the North Star 5 Review


This might be the worst game I've played so far.

Story/Characters: The story of this game is an entirely new one, in an odd way. From what I've seen, most games based on existing franchises like this take one of three routes: (1) An adaptation of the original story, (2) A sequel or episode starring the main characters, or (3) a side-story with new characters and maybe cameos. The story of this game is unusual in that it's an original story that uses nearly all of the characters from Fist of the North star but in ways that make it incompatible with the original manga series. It's a complete parallel story.

One site I found described the story as "30 elementary school kids throwing together their ideas in a week." I can understand this -- there are a lot of silly elements to it, and a good deal of the story is recycling plot points from the original series. The overall story involves Makoutei, who has revived after 2000 years of sleep. Kenshiro dies in the opening scene, leaving it to the main character to go out and defeat him. There are a fair number of plot twists but they often don't quite work. 

The characters are all the familiar people from Fist of the North Star, and fans of the series may like the opportunity to control characters that are villains in the anime or die quickly.

World: The game world is the post-apocalyptic world of the manga. Of course it's constrained by the manga itself -- there was no real sense of geography in the series, just a bunch of towns that were all kind of the same except for what person was controlling them. In that sense this game does a good job of mimicking the manga, and all the identifiable places in the series are here. But as an RPG it ends up being pretty dull since everything's the same.

Game Flow: As usual for this era, the random encounter rate is way too high. You can escape from dungeons for free, so I suppose at least you can try to explore the dungeons while leveling. There are a few places in the game where the bosses are a significant leap in difficulty, and there's very little strategy you can employ, so you basically just have to grind. The dungeons tend to be far too large, especially considering there's usually nothing of interest in them aside from the boss.

Even when you're making progress it doesn't really feel like you are because everything looks the same.

System: Straight, old style RPG. Battles are debuff-attack-attack-heal. Dungeons are just mazes with mostly worthless treasure chests and virtually nothing to do besides that. No mini-games or anything.

I mentioned this in the opening post, but the biggest disappointment here is that so little respect was paid to the Fist of the North Star series in terms of the fighting. The characters are superhumans who fight with their fists but can kill people instantly. Kenshiro, Rei, and the others can deal with normal people without even breaking a sweat. Of course this is hard to directly translate to an RPG, but they didn't even try. You equip knives and nunchucks, which they never do in the series, and you have the ridiculous sight of Kenshiro, Toki, and Rei having to slowly wear down random grunt fighters. It's not as bad as 3 where Bat, a little kid equipped with a knife, starts out with a higher attack power than Kenshiro. But why was this even a Fist of the North Star game?

Side Quests/Optional Content/Replayability: None. I suppose that you could try the later part of the game with different characters, but since all the characters are effectively the same, just with slightly different attacks, it's not worth it.

Interface: Ugh. Everything is slow. It takes forever to buy and sell things, and to equip stuff. Of course there's no single-button talk/search. There's some sort of bug in battle if you take back moves that causes you to have to enter moves twice.

Graphics/Sound: The in-battle graphics are not bad, but they could have done a much better job making the characters look like their manga/anime equivalents. Out of battle the graphics are shameful. Everything is brown and gray (I guess this does fit the source). The walking animation looks terrible. The map sprites barely look like the characters. All of the dungeons look exactly the same, and the floor tiling is eye-splitting.

The BGM is acceptable. The sound effects are mostly good; they even put in some "ATATATATA" and other voice clips to add to the show atmosphere.

----

The next game I have on my list from this source is Sandora's Adventure, a spinoff of the Valkyrie series that had a limited English release as Whirlo. I have no clue how this got on any RPG list -- as far as I can tell it's a straight platformer that has no RPG elements whatsoever. So an easy skip.

So next up is the last in the "5 kusoge" continuing series -- 3x3 Eyes, another game based on a manga.

However, I am moving and then will be on vacation for almost a week for 4th of July, so updates could be sporadic. I should be able to post something this Saturday, but possibly not the week after that.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Game 9 - Fist of the North Star 5 Part 3 (Final)

Finally I put this game out of its misery. This game has a problem that was also in Villgust, to a lesser extent, and seems to be a recurring issue with crappy RPGs of this era. They don't give you enough resources to heal, and the dungeons are so long and the random encounters so frequent that there's really no way you can just play through the dungeons, fighting the enemies as you go. This is especially true when the grunts spam moves that hit all of your guys. There's no effective party heal item or move in the whole game. So in these cases you basically have the choice of overlevelling until the grunts pose no threat at all, or run from most or all battles (or use a cheat code to turn off encounters).

I will admit here that I did use cheat codes a couple of times for this game. I turned off encounters for the final dungeon, and I briefly turned on a "max xp after battle" cheat to speed up grinding in two places.

All of the dungeons in the game are exactly the same -- large, ugly, featureless corridors and rooms with mostly worthless treasure chests and nothing else of interest. So I'm not going to describe each one.

Last time I left off getting the ship. You go to a village where Shachi and Leia are; they're just cameos in this game and don't play any story purpose. Shachi is a follower of Kaioh here, which is completely opposite from the anime. After that we head to a castle where Kenshiro supposedly is, but it's actually Hyo (I thought it would be Jagi posing as him, but whatever). You fight Hyo but afterwards he lets you know that Kenshiro is still alive. Makoutei has sealed him away, though, and we need 7 experienced fist users to get him free. So the next part of the game is hunting down these people.

First up is Shin. We go through another dungeon to fight Mr. Heart:
It looks like those big dudes from Double Dragon

Heart has Julia's ring, and with that we can recruit drunken Shin to the group. Next up is Souther. To convince him to join you have to find his master's testament and show it to him, and he has the revelation sort of like in the anime, but doesn't immediately die.

But he fights you first.
Now we have our seven people -- Kurisu, Rei, Shin, Souther, Toki, Hyo, and Shu. By shooting out Atari 2600 beams we can revive Kenshiro:
Who knows.
Souther dies, but Kenshiro is restored -- unfortunately his heart has stopped, so Toki has to give up his life to revive him. That's two more heroes down. Next goal is to beat the "master hunter" Zariga, who killed Ryuken at the beginning of the game. I'll skip over that part and move on -- next up is really the final goal. Makoutei's castle is protected by a barrier, and we need 13 warriors to open it. The rest of the game is basically tracking down all the warriors we don't yet have on our side.

Fortunately in defeating Zariga, we get a very useful ally on our side, at the cost of Mizumaru's life. Mabie has no fist techniques, instead she just has a free heal, which is pretty good. As long as she's around we can actually fight most random encounters without too much trouble.

We also learn that Yuria is actually the one who freed Makoutei because she felt sorry for him! Nice job, Yuria. No time to scold her corpse, though, because Lin and Rui have been kidnapped by Makoutei.
More crucifixes.
Once we reach Makoutei he kills the main character(!), but fortunately the son of the main character (who wasn't even born at the start of the game!) is ready to step into his place.
Take my energy, my son.
To avoid this post becoming too long and tedious, I'm going to just quickly list the people we have to get to make 13 fighters:
  • Fudou, who can only be recruited after defeating Jagi
    Say my name!
  • Ryuga, who gives you his horse
  • Judah, who fakes being an enemy but then kills his own guys and joins you
    The most beautiful enemy
  • Falco, who is under some sort of mind control.
  • Raou, who just shows up
  • Kaioh(!), who Kenshiro has to invite
Now we have all of the people. While we're doing all of this, we have a crystal with seven stars, going out one by one. Each time one goes out, it means Makoutei is closer to perfecting the ultimate fist technique.
More Atari beams
In addition to these 13 guys, there's also a fetch quest where you have to get various Hokuto and Nanto items to release a seal and get the ultimate equipment for the hero. You're able to swap out guys freely at a secret hideout. Anyway, the 13 warriors above aren't enough, so Kaioh has to join in as well:
Kaioh and Raoh assault the barrier

Now we can finally go after Makoutei. After another long dungeon, it's time to fight him. He blows you down a pit, leaving the hero alone. Fortunately the hero encounters Kaioh, and the hero and Kaioh fight to the top of the castle and face Makoutei. Kaioh dies in the effort, and we find out it was just a projection and not the real Makoutei (sorry, Kaioh).

Moving on, in the Hokuto Shrine we find Yuria, who is not dead, but sick. 
Yuria!!
Yuria dies, and Atatata (MC's son) has to fight each of 13 friends just for a few turns each, and then he learns the final secret technique...which is pretty underwhelming, all it does is let you call the friends into battle.

And now the final dungeon. It's another long, featureless dungeon, indistinguishable from every other one up to this point. Finally, you reach Makoutei, the final boss.
The final showdown
He doesn't really have anything unique or special, just moves that damage people. By using the debuffs to lower his defense to nothing he's not too bad, although I may have been slightly overlevelled.

Afterwards, Kenshiro tells Makoutei he was defeated because he lost the love he originally had, when he separated from Tentei. In his dying moments Makoutei regains his love and uses it to revive Yuria.
The gang is reunited
Atatata then heads to his father's grave, where it seems like he dies (although it's a big ambiguous). And thus closes the curtain on this ridiculous story. Here are some of the chief offenders so we can hurl derision their way:

Eat shit
That's Hokuto no Ken 5. I'll post a review probably on Monday, but in short, there are a few nuggets of something promising hiding in the game, but overall it's a mess. It's seriously flawed in every aspect of the game, and not worth playing unless you're a diehard Fist of the North Star fan who wants to experience everything in the franchise no matter how bad. I can't imagine suffering through this game on a real console.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Rethinking the rules

One problem with a chronogaming blog of this kind is that a good number of the games will be bad. I'm in this slog right now of 5 terrible games in a row -- as far as I can tell there are no other stretches like this in the library, thankfully. But it has gotten me thinking again about how to approach bad or average/tedious games. This blog is primarily about fun for me. I do gain satisfaction from completing even bad games if it's in a structured approach like this, but that only goes so far.

Of course it would be nice to play every game on a real system with no walkthroughs, but I don't want the blog to stagnate because the game I'm playing is so tedious/boring/bad that I can barely bring myself to play it. On the other hand, if you do have walkthroughs and emulator speedup keys/etc, it's easy to dip into that well far too quickly.

It raises the question of whether it's better to play the game honestly and quit if it sucks, or if it's better to use save states, emulator speedup, walkthroughs, etc to at least get some of the experience and document the game.

So I think this is how I'm going to do things from here on out.

For the first week I play any game, I will play it on the nSide emulator (a fork of higan) and without using the speedup key or any other emulator features. I also will not use walkthroughs with the exception of basic explanations (what the buttons do, what the effect of spells and items are), or if I am seriously stuck and cannot progress. If this means I make slow progress because the game sucks, so be it. [My reason for using bsnes is the accuracy; I already ran into a bug in snes9x where Light Fantasy wouldn't save games at all.]

After the first week, if the game is bad or tedious enough that I would normally stop playing, I will begin to make use of the speedup key and limited walkthrough use, and possibly using snes9x to get even faster speedup (this is what I'm doing with Fist of the North Star right now). In extreme cases I may even use cheat codes or save state abuse.

My justification for doing this instead of just quitting a game is this: judging from comments I've seen on CRPG Addict (and a few on my blog), one of the purposes of a project like this is documenting games that have very little information on them in English. A good example of this is Fist of the North Star 5 -- the only information that I know of on this game is the walkthrough on gamefaqs which gives very little detail, but given that Fist of the North Star is a well known series even in the West, I figure it's worth it to struggle through the game using as many emulator tricks as I can just to have the experience documented somewhere in English.

This also explains why I was willing to abandon Dragon Ball Z after one post. The game wasn't all that good (to me), especially not being a DBZ fan. I was going to have to start the game from the beginning. Since there's already a full fan translation patch for the game and multiple walkthroughs on GameFAQs, interested people can experience the game themselves. 

Any thoughts?

PS: My controller is a PS2 controller hooked up through an annoying conversion cable to USB. Any suggestions for a better one? It has to have a good D-pad and have two R and L buttons (so that I can map one to screenshot and the other to speedup).

PPS: The computer I'm using is an Acer Spin 3, which can easily run nSide at 60 fps and can get between 100-120 fps on speedup.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Game 9 - Fist of the North Star 5 Part 2

This game is really bad. In addition to all the stuff I said last time, everything seems designed to go as slowly as possible and take as many button presses as possible. When you use a heal technique, it completely exits you out of the menu so you have to do A->Tech->Character->Heal->Target each time you want to use the heal. This makes it very annoying to heal up between battles. Of course as usual you can't see the stats of equipment when you buy it. I don't know what most of the items do because the documentation for this game on the Internet is very scarce.

Also they obviously didn't program a way for an NPC to give you an item, because whenever that's supposed to happen, they tell you to search a treasure chest nearby. You can tell when you'll be getting an item in the future because there's an empty chest lying near a person.

At least the enemies say "ABESHI!" when you kill them.

Our next destination is to meet Tentei Rui, another character from the second part of HnK. She's blind, and wants to find Shuu, who is also blind, to help. So off we go to Hakuronost, where Shiba (Shuu's son) is waiting. He takes us to beat the Black Clan. In the show, Shiba dies in an explosion. Here he intentionally throws himself into a bomb trap to set it off before it can get us. Another character gone.

But this lets us heal Rui, by the power of Shuu and his son (which is residing in him or something like that). On the mirror behind her we see what is supposed to be Rin, although who would know without being told.


So now let's go find adult Rin to help us out.

It turns out, in another bizarre twist, that the main character is Rin's long lost younger brother. I saw one site that said this plot seemed like 30 elementary school kids pooling all their ideas in a few days. The timeline makes no sense. During the story we discover that Estelle (main character's wife) is the daughter of Makoutei, who only revived recently. In the opening scene, Estelle is captured while pregnant. By the time you meet the child about 1/3 through the game, he's old enough to talk and study martial arts, and eventually is a playable character. Also somehow your main character is younger than Rin. None of this makes any sense.

Anyway, the problem now is that there's a mist hanging over the continent that blocks you from going through. But fortunately the necklace the main character has lets you walk through it, so you can visit the towns underneath. The large goal of this section is to find Estelle, who is in the keeping of Gran Doll.
Forging through the mist

At a black gate, we meet Bat, another character from the original series. He starts out as a young boy following Kenshiro around, and then is an adult for the second part. Here, when you meet him he's already nearly dead, and sacrifices himself by ramming a truck into the gate to blow it up so you can enter!
Sorry Bat, you're already dead.

At Phantom Land they are having a funeral for Estelle, who was killed by Gran Doll. Makoutei fears Estelle and Kurisu's child because he's a combination of Makoutei and Tentei blood.

Next it's time for a prison where various numbered people are being held. One of them is the main character's son, who you get to name. I chose Atatata because I didn't realize he was going to be a major figure (he was just a baby!) but now that's going to be him for the rest of the game. Oh well. Now it's time to deal with Gran Doll.

After another bland, featureless, long dungeon, Gran Doll appears. One common feature of bad RPGs is battles that can't be beaten except by levelling up because there aren't enough strategic options. Gran Doll has a brutal all-attack technique that he spams. At this point we don't have any multi-heal techs and the heal tech we have barely heals more than Gran Doll does. So essentially you just have to grind levels until you can beat him before he kills you.

It turns out that Gran Doll was ordered by Makoutei to kill Estelle as a baby, and refused to do it. Makoutei ordered him to do it again, but instead he hid Estelle in a hut in town. Rei takes Estelle to "safety" in Rihaku City, but Makoutei immediately attacks it. We hurry back to Rihaku City but it's too late. Shuu was able to get everyone away from Makoutei, but Estelle sustained critical wounds and dies as Kurisu watches.
"Dear, please look after Atatata....cough"
Atatata goes off to train with Rei, and we head to the next continent with Shuu. For some reason Akashachi (the head of Red Pirates) lets you use their ship for free, with no conditions.
Arrrrrrr.
The goal at this point is to find various Nanto and Hokuto users so that we can unite to defeat Makoutei. Rumor is that the current master of Hokuto Shinken is holed up in a tower...

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Game 9 - Fist of the North Star 5

Fist of the North Star 5: Legend of the Mara Shooting Star: Sorrow, the Closing Chapter (北斗の拳5 天魔流星伝 哀★絶章)

Released on 7/10/1992, published by Toei


I would say the title of this game sounds better in Japanese, but I'm not really sure it does.It's just as pompous and overblown regardless of language.

This is, of course, part of the long-running Fist of the North Star (Hokuto no Ken) franchise. It's one in a series of 7 games for the Famicom and Super Famicom which were numbered consecutively despite having no connection to each other. Some are action games, some fighters, some RPGs. And all seven of them are known as kusoge (crappy games). 

Fist of the North Star might not seem like a franchise that can easily be made into an RPG. If you aren't familiar with the franchise, the lead characters are practitioners of a certain type of martial arts based on "pressure points" and ki. They don't use weapons or wear armor. They are essentially superhumans who can kill normal people without breaking a sweat, and can only be opposed by another person as powerful as them. The designers might have taken this as a cue to try something new, the way that the Dragon Ball Z RPGs did. Instead, they just went the lazy route and made a standard, cookie-cutter RPG with Fist of the North star as a skin over it. So you have the spectacle of a 4-man team including Toki and Rei, equipped with nunchuks and knives, trading blows with random grunts.

So I'm going to have very little to say about the gameplay for this game -- it does nothing different from Villgust or Maka Maka. You attack, you use the fist techniques, which do the same thing as spells or techs in any other game. They do damage, they cause status effects, they heal.

The game has the lowest item limit I've seen yet -- 7 items per character, including the 4 pieces of equipment. That's right. Each character can hold 3 items, including plot necessary items. So basically you're not going to be relying on items for much.

So let's get started. The opening begins with your character (an original character) having his fiancee stolen by the Matei (Demon Emperor, I guess), who has returned after a 2000 year sleep, after being defeated by Tentei (the Heavenly Emperor). That sounds more like a regular RPG plot than Fist of the North Star, but we'll go with it. Now the second scene shows various HnK characters fighting against Matei's units, and then this infamous scene:
"The heir to the Hokuto Shinken, Kenshiro, has died."
Kenshiro, the hero of Fist of the North Star, gets crushed by a boulder and killed in the opening scene.
YUUURI...no wait.
Yuria, in sorrow, throws herself off a building.

So we're dealing with a completely separate story. This isn't the story of Hokuto no Ken, nor is it a side story that takes place during the series (or after or before). It's a parallel story that has all the HnK characters, but in different roles and with no relation to the original story. This is what seems to have bothered a lot of Japanese players.

So after equipping, Kurisu sets forth to find his lost love. The man who stole her seems to be named Geshura.

Kurisu vs. a mook
If you're been reading the blog for a while this battle screenshot may look somewhat familiar -- indeed, the scenario director and BGM composer are the same as Maka Maka, and the same development studio was involved in both games. Fortunately this game doesn't have all the awful bugs.

The first destination is the Cave of Ryuken -- Ryuken is the Hokuto Shinken master who tutored Kenshiro. He's still alive, but he immediately gets killed by a guy named Zariga, who runs away. You then get your first ally, Mizumaru. I believe this is an original character.

The first dungeon occurs after this. As far as I've seen so far, they all look like this:
In other words, shitty.
You soon are joined by Inazuma, a leader of a resistance group against the Matei. He looks familiar. As you head towards Gelba Castle to find information on Geshura, another guy joins you named Kuroyasha. I never saw the second part of HnK but I gather this is an off-screen character from there...he doesn't stick around long anyway.

Once you beat Gelba Castle, you save Mamiya and Inazuma is revealed to be Rei, another powerful character from the series. Unfortunately the graphics are poor; as you can see from above none of the characters look like anything (and they walk funny). The in battle graphics are equally drab:
That's supposedly Rei and Toki in the bottom row.
To get to the next continent and continue to chase Geshura, we need to get across a river...thus the "human bridge". Followers of Rihaku (another character from the anime) get in the water so you can walk across their heads.

The human bridge
It's hard not to see this whole thing as an intentional parody or comedic take on Hokuto no Ken, but I'm not sure it was intended that way.

In the next town you meet a guy named Grant, who is able to wipe the floor with your group. But then Raoh destroys him, letting you pass. Toki soon joins your party, for no real reason.
This is supposedly Raoh on his black horse.
After some fetch quests you can finally visit Geshura Town, and go into Geshura's mansion, make your way up the drab dungeon floors and tedious random encounters, and beat Geshura. Unfortunately he only has a fake doll of your fiancee (like Shin did in the manga series), so we have to move on. We do get a "buggy" that can revisit old towns instantly; a nice touch, although I'm not sure what it's supposed to be doing when it flies up into the air.

So yeah, this game sucks. But I won't retreat! I won't be defeated! And I won't turn back!

PS: There's another human bridge.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Game 8 - Light Fantasy Review

Light Fantasy could have been a good game. There are a lot of positive aspects and great potential, but the battle system ruins it all. It's telling that virtually every walkthrough and review site I looked at spent a good part of their review talking about how to avoid the battle system as much as possible.

Story/Characters: The story starts out fairly conventional, with the King of Light vs. the King of Dark. But there are some surprises and twists, and none of the characters are completely bad. Supposedly this was geared towards younger players but the plot is pretty dark at times and has some sad and brutal moments. I

The characters are also varied. Your main character is descended from a hero but is weak-willed and scared, and he has to overcome that. You have a monster with a "heart of light", a mermaid, and a dog or raccoon-human. Some of the villians are generic and just pop up only to die, but others have a bit more development. Overall neither the story nor characters are anything earth shattering, but for this era it's not bad.

World: The world is small. There are only about 5 towns, and the whole world seems a little slapped together -- once again, fairly typical for this era, but it's hard to get much feel for the different areas of the world, other than some obvious ones like the snow area.

Game Flow: Unless you use the money making trick in the first town, game flow is bad right off the bat. You have almost no money to equip your people, and the initial encounters include some hard enemies that can wipe out your party. Throughout the game the enemies in general give too little XP and money, especially bosses, who sometimes give less XP than the random fights in the dungeon.

As you progress, this gets worse and worse -- the dungeons are generally large, and take a long time to go through even if you use the hidden "fast walking speed" option. Add to this the high random encounter rate and the length and difficulty of battles, and it can be a marathon experience just to make it through one dungeon.

System: You have a party of 5 people. Often you have "lights of destiny" that take up some of your slots, but normally 2-3 of the characters are free. The game offers an impressive array of characters you can have join your party: a small child, a dog, a hunter, a bunny girl dancer, a mermaid, and more. If that weren't enough, you can invite monsters to join your team. Although some of the characters are better than others, they're all viable to use. 

Dungeons are basic exploration; there's next to nothing in the way of puzzles or other areas of interest. It's annoying that you have to use light spells or items to see.

The inventory is somewhat limited but I found it acceptable.

And then, alas, there is the battle system. It's really hard to see how this made it out of quality testing. I commend them for trying something interesting, but the flaws are so serious and so blatant that someone should have recognized it. Perhaps by that point it was too late to turn back.

I covered the bad parts of the battle system in detail throughout the reviews. The battle system plays out like Ultima III, where you have a top down view of your characters on a grid. You can only attack an enemy if you're in range with your weapon. Spells also have areas and ranges. So what's wrong with it?

There are too many encounters. The battles go slowly, and the movement rates of characters are low. It's easy to get trapped behind obstacles or pots and not be able to attack things. Status effects are far too devastating, especially at the beginning. Missing is common. If any "light of destiny" dies you get a game over. If you're not going to use the trick to eliminate encounters, you pretty much have to save after every battle because any battle could potentially spell disaster, either from a critical hit that ignores defense, or repeated use of spells whose damage is fixed (no magic defense stat). The fact that you have to spend most of your 8 magic slots on status effect curing means you can't really use the magic system to its fullest potential. Spells also cost too much MP, making it impractical to use them for much else. 

Basically if you're playing this game without any tricks, you're going to be grinding a lot, saving after every battle, and spending 5 hours on a dungeon.

(One trick I forgot to mention is that if an enemy is casting an area effect spell, you can cancel it by pressing the B button.)

Side Quests/Optional Content: None.

Interface: There's an odd delay with button presses, but other than that the interface is fine. There's an all-purpose button so you don't have to pick "talk" or "search" from a menu. Unfortunately as usual you can't see the strength of equipment until you actually equip it.

Graphics/Sound: There are a lot of nice cutscene-style graphics throughout the game's story sequences. Other than that, the graphics don't stand out. They're serviceable, but nothing special.

The music is fine. Here are a few sample tracks. 

Unfortunately, I can't recommend this game. It's borderline unplayable unless you use a bunch of tricks to bypass as many random encounters as you can and get money easily, but then why play the game at all?

Next up is game 4 of our 5 kusoge series, Fist of the North Star 5. This seems to be considered bad mostly because of its story, so perhaps it's at least playable.


Thursday, June 8, 2017

Game 8 - Light Fantasy Part 4 (Final)

The second half of Light Fantasy is mostly wandering around on the world map, with a major dungeon near the end and then the final complex of dungeons. Once again, I had random encounters off for the majority of this.

We have three main goals in this section: retrieve the Earth Sword, power it up with the power of various goddesses, and then defeat Maryu.

The Earth Sword can only be drawn by a true hero; fortunately Kurisu qualifies. After we beat some sword ghosts, it's time for Kurisu to play King Arthur:
I don't know what's up with the dog paw emoji.
Unfortunately the Earth Sword is a mess, and we need the power of 8 goddesses to power it up to its most powerful form. This sounds like it could be a huge quest, but it's actually not that long. The first two goddesses come from going back and forth between a living tree and rock, eventually coming up with the two powers from there. Then snowmen kidnap Minea, leading you to snow country. It turns out the Snow Queen just did that to get your attention so you can search for her baby.
Your apologies will not redeem you!
You have to backtrack again to the living tree, who calls the baby out, and now you can return and get the next Goddess power. Giltz village has a lot of the strongest equipment, but nobody will talk to you because their trust has been robbed from them by a goddess. Visiting her sister goddess, you find out that for some reason you need the Moon Dew to heal her, which you can find in the Moonrock cave, represented by a moon on the map. Minea gets captured again, this time by dragons.

This is the second good levelling place, because you can buy Mammoth from Giltz once you get past this part of the quest, which hits all monsters for ~150 HP, with this silly animation:
!?
After getting the moon drop and healing the goddess, you get two more upgrades for the Earth Sword and then can buy stuff from the shops. They have the "sling", which is the strongest missile weapon in the game, and what you want everyone who's not Kurisu to have. With Mammoth I moved up to level 35 and then turned off random encounters again.

At this point we're ready for the final series of dungeons. They're huge dungeons that would be annoying if you had to fight random encounters during them. The first one is the "Mole Road", a multi-level labyrinth where you have to find a goddess of rock, and then find a Dragon Scale so that you can survive in the Dragon area past the Mole Road. Arriving there, it's time to fight some dragons:

Grrrr
You can see my more-or-less final party composition above. Kurisu, Satan, Ariel, Fido, and Kotaro (the son of the Dark King). You can freely rename the non-destiny characters. Beating the dragon frees the fire goddess who powers up your sword more, but Kotaro steals it, wanting to defeat Maryu on his own. Of course, this is a terrible idea, and you find him in Maryu's castle, dying. At least you get the Earth Sword back, but first you do have to fight a boss, who isn't too bad.
What did you think was going to happen?
Minea has rejoined you as well, and has a surprise:
"We (Minea and Lefina) are the goddesses of Light and Dark -- since those are the most powerful, the power had to be concealed."

So Minea didn't know she was a goddess until you visited the Moon Cave. Now Lefina is the only one left we haven't gotten power from, but we have to fight another boss first. The Dragon bosses in this area cast "hit all" spells that also inflict status effects like fire and ice. Fortunately since fire does a set amount of HP, it's not quite as devastating now as it was earlier in the game. However, the penultimate boss casts Mammoth. If Minea is very low levelled she can die from two Mammoth hits; overall this isn't a big problem if everyone has the Genkirun spell (100 HP heal to all). But every so often he'll get two turns in a row, and if for some reason Minea wasn't defending, she's dead and it's game over. This happened to me once.

Lefina is dying, unofortunately, but Minea now gives up her life to save her. Lefina then grants you the final goddess power, and joins your party. Immediately the final fight happens.
Maryu
As you can see, there's no way to get to Maryu. The final form of the Earth Sword has a range of 3, so the main character can stand across the lava river and hit him, but everyone else has to use Mammoth or the sling. This was a long, protracted fight. Level 35 is a bit low perhaps, but I did manage it. Maryu casts a lot of hit-all spells, some of which inflict status effects, but the worst one does around 150-200 damage from everyone. As you can see, Ariel only has 340 HP so it's hard to keep her HP up. If you want to make it much easier, there's a second card game you can cheat to get items, the best prize being an herb that heals 999 HP and MP. I hadn't done this, but I had picked up enough of them that I was able to keep everyone's HP and MP levels up. You have to be very careful with Lefina since she has 500 HP and can't die or it's game over.

Once you beat Maryu, he admits that he just wanted to create a good world for monsters, who were sidelined by both Light and Dark. But he sees that he went about it the wrong way, and makes you promise to fight for a world that accepts everyone.

Since the status effects don't cure at the end, we have an on-fire character for the final scene.
Now for some reason the game gives you control. You have to escape the castle and then take Lefina to the Moon Rock cave again. I'm not sure if there would be any encounters normally (I assume not). Once there, Minea and Kotaro are revived. Then you have to walk all the way back to the Light Castle, where you started the game. This is tedious and pointless -- if you visit the towns the people will say some generic words of congratulations, but they should have just had you automatically go there.

The Light King wants Kurisu to succeed him to the throne. Kurisu basically agrees, but first wants to go out adventuring with Lefina to try to work on the promise he made to Maryu. And that's the end. Now the game shows various images to tell you what happened to the characters.
Torui is studying magic to take over for their master.
Lefina and Kurisu get married, and the game ends with a cutesy picture.
I hope we can meet somewhere again!
There is a Light Fantasy II released in 1995, but I don't know if the story has any relation. It seems like they improved some elements of the gameplay but it's still considered a kusoge. Fortunately I won't have to do that for a while.

Review to follow on Saturday.