Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Return

I've finished moving and have all my stuff set up so I'll be back to regular updates. The next game I'm playing is a Super Famicom game but it will be on my other blog -- it's Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblems. The first post should be up by the end of the week.

In the meantime I've been playing Another Eden, a mobile game that I recommend; it has a retro game feel and has some gacha elements but no artificial play limits. Anyone else played this?

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Game 38 - Yume Maboroshi no Gotoku

Sorry for the lack of updates, I'm in the middle of another move so things will be tough until mid-August.

Game 38 - Yume Maboroshi no Gotoku
Released 12/17/1993, published by Intec
 

This game is based on a manga by Motomiya Hiroshi, best known for his long running Salaryman Kintaro series. The series is an alternate history of the Sengoku period, with Oda Nobunaga surviving the fire at Honnoji and setting out to take over the world. The player controls Nobunaga. From what I can tell, this game tells a somewhat alternate story from the manga, although I can't get enough information to find out how close it is.

Gameplay

The battle system itself is fairly standard AMID, but there is a fairly robust class system. Everyone has a class, and except for Samurai like Nobunaga, the class can be upgraded at various places, which reduces their level to 1 but allows for better abilities. Abilities are learned by seeking out hermits, mystics, and other people who can teach skills, if the person's level is high enough. Given that this is the Sengoku period, you can even get Portuguese Catholics on your side.


Fortunately the characters have enough MP, and MP restoring items are common enough, that you can actually make use of all the abilities the game gives you.

The random encounter rate is high, but the areas are small and you level up quickly, so I didn't find this too much of a problem.

One other thing the game has is an Ogre Battle-like "war mode".

It was a nice idea but there's really no purpose to it; you just send everyone after the enemies and win.

One other annoyance is the small inventory limit. I really hope that "feature" is disappearing for good soon.

Story


The game begins with a lengthy story sequence showing that Nobunaga has survived Honnoji, but rather than take over Japan, he leaves that to Hideyoshi and decides to go for world domination instead. First he needs a ship. Although that setup makes it sound like the game will go beyond Japan, the entire game takes place before he leaves (in the manga he does actually make it to the West).

The story of the game basically involves Norinaga supporting Tokugawa Ieyasu and Hideyoshi from behind the scenes as they attempt to take over Japan. Norinaga's main opponents himself are the priest Tenkai, who (based on an old legend) is actually Akechi Mitsuhide (who betrayed Norinaga). The other is the priest Fransisco Cabral, who in this game has called upon dark forces to oppose Norinaga.

If you are into Sengoku jidai stuff you'll probably appreciate the story more than I did since there are a lot of historical figures you can meet, and it's probably fun to see how the story plays with the "known" history of the period.

Overall this is not a bad game at all for late 1993. It's also fairly short (my timer was 15 hours). Sadly there's no translation patch, but maybe that will change in the future.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Game 37 - Romancing SaGa 2 wrap-up

After staring at this game for a while, playing another game, going on vacation, and staring at the game for a while more, I finally decided to move on. The game is available with a translation patch and in an official version (through a remake) so everyone can try it themselves.

As I said in the last post, I was at the point where I was going to have to do a large amount of grinding to beat the final boss, and I just wasn't in the mood. So I'll talk about my impressions of the game here and then move on.

--

Romancing SaGa 2 is definitely a better game than 1. It fixes a large number of the problems that I mentioned about that game, and is generally a more enjoyable experience.

SaGa games aren't known for their stories. This game has a really interesting concept -- the world is waiting for the return of 7 legendary heroes to save the world, but when they do return, they seem to be villains instead. That's about the limit of the story, though. I never saw an explanation for why this happened (although I didn't go to a village where supposedly some of the backstory would be explained).

There are a lot of fun aspects to the game system. Your main character is an Emperor or Empress, and will pass on their skills through successive generations. This system is a bit scattershot because it's not like the generation systems of other games. You can start a quest, 260 years pass, and the same NPCs are sitting around waiting for you to finish the quest. I like the idea that if you lose your party you move on to the next generation, but it takes too long to set up a new generation with the skills and magic.

The graphics are quite good, as to be expected from Square. The music is well done too, and the interface is (mostly) clean and usable.

My ultimate criticisms of this game are twofold, and I've mentioned them before. The first is that the game system is too opaque. Hardly anything about the system is explained either in the instruction manual or the game itself. This makes it hard to make intelligent decisions about which classes to use, what weapons and skills, which magic, etc.  Now, this wouldn't necessarily be a huge problem, except for my second complaint -- the game is too difficult.

Right from the start the difficulty is brutal. You spend the entire game with the danger of getting wiped out by a random encounter. Fortunately you can save any time you want, but it's frustrating to constantly feel like the monsters overpower you to the point where it feels like you may not even complete the dungeons.

That being said, with knowledge of the system from the discord and walkthroughs, I was able to make it to the end of the game with very little grinding. However, the final boss represents a massive increase in difficulty from anything that comes before. There is a cheap way to beat the boss and a more "legitimate" way, but both ways require long hours of grinding to get the right skills and spells necessary. I just don't find that appealing.

Everything I've said may make it sound like I disliked the game, but as with RS1, my feelings were mixed. I enjoyed the game at many points but got annoyed with it at many others. I have no desire to complete the game, which is not a good sign. Plenty of people enjoy this game a lot, though, so it's probably worth a try, especially in the enhanced remake.

I have five more games to go in 1993: Yumemaboroshi no Gotoku, Wondrous Magic, Monster Maker III, and Shin Momotaro Densetsu. As far as I can tell, none of these have translation patches. There is also the PC Engine version of Ys IV, which I am looking forward to quite a bit.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Romancing SaGa update

Sorry I haven't posted on RS2. I've reached the final dungeon, but I'm too weak to actually take on the final boss. I also got annoyed that I missed the Elixir spell because I didn't know fusion magic takes a generation shift to learn.

I'm not a huge fan of grinding, and it looks like I'm going to have to do a fair amount to stand a chance against the final boss. I'm not sure what to do -- I'm considering using cheat codes to give a few people Elixir and raise my weapon and spell levels to 40, which is apparently a reasonable (but not excessive) point to take on the final boss. Or I could just move on to the next game.

I just finished Sword Master on my other blog and I'm going on vacation for 4th of July week, but I'll hopefully have some sort of RS2 update within the next week or two and then move on to the next game, Yume Maboroshi no Gotoku.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Game 37 - Romancing SaGa 2 (Part 4)

The Reign of the 10th Empress Emerald

Emerald had a short reign; I made a mostly female party to try the Rocbouquet quest, but after getting through the tower the Stone guardian slaughtered me.


 
The Reign of the 11th Empress Gertrude

I then decided that my best bet was to go back and try Dantarg again. At this point I started noticing a pattern to some of these bosses -- if you just try them several times, eventually they might not use their high damage spells too many times. I also made sure that everyone had a healing spell so I could at least partially recover from getting hit.

With this in mind I was able to beat Dantarg on my 5th or 6th try. This caused a generation shift.

The Reign of the 12th Emperor Tesshu 

And now Tesshu was able to go do the Volcano quest to open up Dark Magic.


This makes a new tower that teaches Dark Magic, which I hope is useful -- I've already started researching some combo magics.

With my success against Dantarg, I decided that Rocboquet was probably the next best bet, since you want to wait for the bridge to break for Subier so that he's not in his more powerful form. Someone on the discord told me that it's fine to just skip the whole ruins quest and fight Rocbouquet at the beginning, which is what I did.



This was basically the same as Dantarg; I just had to try it 5 or 6 times until she didn't use her "hit all" magic attack too many times. Unfortunately I didn't learn the defense against Temptation, which is apparently good for the final boss.



The Reign of the 13th Emperor Aurora 

Aurora was short lived because before I beat Subier I wanted to get as many formations as I could (since after you get the Final Emperor you can't learn anymore). This involved suiciding 5 or 6 Emperors but I guess they don't count in the line. Finally Epaminondas appeared, who is basically the same Imperial Guard as Tesshu.

The Reign of the 14th Emperor Epaminondas


Subier took me about 10 tries, but eventually he didn't use his worst attacks and I beat him.

Now it's time for Kurisu, the Final Emperor. Unfortunately I was not aware that fusion magic research required a generation shift, and that means I don't have Elixir.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Game 37 - Romancing SaGa 2 (Part 3)

The Reign of the Seventh Emperor, Tampuku

I decided to go with another Tactician (actually the next Emperor is a Tactician too, three in a row -- probably a bad idea but oh well.) Tampuku's first idea was to head out to the island of Komulune, where he easily solved a volcano problem by throwing an ice seed into the lava.



Two short missions followed next; clearing a desert tower to join the desert area to our Empire, and then destroying a big gem in a mine that was causing problems.

Tampuku's reign came to an end in an interesting way. He saw a beautiful woman dancing at a bar and was determined to seek her out -- she turned out to be a mermaid! He went on a quest to collect items to make a potion letting him breathe underwater. It would only work three times, but after three steamy nights with the mermaid, he decided he wanted to stay underwater.


And thus Tampuku was lost.

The Reign of the Eighth Emperor, Koukin

Koukin immediately received the long awaited news that the Privateer quest was open.


This is a pretty short quest that has us once again dealing with the pirates that we had dealt with before.

After doing this, Koukin seemed strangely suicidal, and went out to fight strong monsters for no purpose -- almost as if he knew that the Emperor coming after him would be much better. He quickly died.

The Reign of the Ninth Emperor, Mazeran 

Mazeran is a Privateer, and thus I can finally learn the Rapid Stream formation, which lets everyone go first before the monsters. This seems to be generally considered the best formation in the game, with other formations being useful in some specific areas. After getting this the game got considerably easier, at least with respect to the random battles.

I kept building up my magic levels and finally began to research the first few Fusion spells.


Mazeran's first act was to go after another one of the Heroes, Bokuohn. He is on a Landship, which requires sneaking on to (I went the route where you get the help of a Tactician, otherwise you have to lose all your equipment). Bokuohn himself was not that hard, because his main Marionette technique has no effect if you have the Rapid Stream formation.


After this I was limited in what I could do:
  • There's another quest on the Volcano island but it hasn't opened up yet. 
  • Rocbouqet requires a female Emperor (I think)
  • I tried Dantarg and he wiped the floor with me
  • The quest leading to Subier seemed not to be open yet
This left Wagnas. The quest leading to him is long and involves several dungeons, but with Rapid Stream and a steady supply of JP/MP healing items, it wasn't too bad...until I got to Wagnas himself.



Wagnas uses a move called Psycho Bind that does more damage than the max HP of three of my characters, and leaves the other two below 100 hp. Seeing no chance of victory, I let this Emperor die.

This game is frustrating me in much the same way that RS1 did -- it's just not fun to me to go against these bosses that have these ridiculously powerful attacks. I'm at the point where I have no confidence of being able to do any of the events that are open to me, just because the bosses are punishingly hard and the system is so difficult to figure out. I'm also getting tired of every random battle being a potential game over. I was really hoping not to have to give up on this game like I did RS1, but if I keep having these experiences I think at some point I will have to move on. Or at least take a break and play a SRPG on my other blog.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Game 37 - Romancing SaGa 2 (Part 2)

The Reign of the Second Emperor, Gerard

Now that Kujinshi has been defeated, Gerard decides to add the southern area to his empire. This first involves helping some monks by taking out a creature that is weak to magic.


This guy sucks, and it sucks even more once it starts showing up in random encounters. Having the free formation like this helps against a lot of bosses because if they have any horizontal range attacks they won't hit more than one person. But with regeneration this guy is rough.

On the whole I think this game is too difficult; it's even harder than RS1, and the game gives you so little information about what everything does (and how to get stronger) that it can be frustrating just to fight random battles. Maybe I'm just a wimp, but I'm using more walkthrough and guide help than I normally do just to figure out the system.

Next up is a fortress that is blocking the way to the next area. There are apparently a number of ways around this part; I just paid the dude to let me in but there's a more intricate way that works out better in the end (I learned later).

In any case, beating the boss added the next area to my empire!


For some reason Gerard decided that was all he wanted to do in his reign, and it was 145 years until the story progresses -- I guess probably there were multiple emperors between Gerard and the next one, but I'll pretend that the witch's power also gives the emperors longer life.


The Reign of the Third Empress, Onyx 

I chose a mage, Onyx, to take the throne next. She immediately decided that building a magic research guild was a great idea.


Now I can teach everyone magic, which helps out a lot, especially in raising the magic levels. It's also nice that now the strategists in the castle can teach any skill that has been learned to any character -- that makes it feel like you're accomplishing things even if everyone dies.

Onyx decided that it was time to add to her empire, and went first to southern lands. This turned out to be quite simple; all she did was clear one mine of enemies and the entire region joined up.

Now Onyx heard also about some troubles in Cumberland to the east, and went there. This was a tough part and I had to kill off one guy who only had 1 LP before I left -- if you leave the area before you finish the quest you get a "bad" ending and it affects things later on. I could have let this happen anyway but I decided to try to do it -- which ended up being really difficult. I reloaded a lot, but I did manage to save Cumberland in the end, and they joined up.

Onyx was exhausted after this and decided she'd had enough of adventuring. She returned to Avalon to rule over her empire for another century.

The Reign of the Fourth Emperor, Theseus 

Next in line is Theseus. He actually went back to finish a quest that his ancestor had started -- dealing with pirates. First, to even get a ship to go to the pirate HQ, Theseus had to do the villagers' request to free a mine from monsters.

The boss exhibited the inconsistent difficulty of this game. When I tried it the first time I got this fight, which slaughtered me:


The second time I got this fight:


which was no problem. This was a big issue in RS1 as well, where random encounters could range from "mash A and win automatically" to "enemies do more than your max HP in damage, sometimes to more than one unit". That didn't start happening in RS1 until much later in the game, here it started happening very early.

Theseus next decided to venture to North Nazelle, which turned out to be a pretty easy quest (just beat a few dungeons and add to the empire).

But the next quest was the end of Theseus' reign. The Steppe dwellers were having trouble with ants. Theseus made his way down to the bottom of a hole and found this boss, the Hive Queen:


And was summarily slaughtered, thus ending his reign.

The Reign of the Fifth Emperor, William

His successor, William, suffered the same fate.

At this point I wasn't sure what to do -- I had probably tried this boss 10 times and not even gotten close. I got some advice from Discord and a Japanese walkthrough to rely on Stun, but this requires having a unit faster than the Queen. Fortunately I had just built the Academy, which can give you a Tactician unit. I believe that once you recruit a unit you can then become that in the next generation, so we move on to the next Emperor.


The Reign of the Sixth Emperor, Shigen

Shigen took his party down to the Queen. At first this didn't seem to be working but it turns out that armor slows you down. Once i took off Shigen's armor, he was able to go first. Stun is not 100%, but it worked often enough that she didn't wipe out my party, even when Shigen got paralyzed for a few rounds.

Once the Queen was defeated, Shigen decided that his single mission was enough for his reign, and 115 years passed before another ruler continued the quest.

On the whole I really think this game is just too difficult, and the system too opaque. But we'll see if I can beat it.