Saturday, June 23, 2018

PCE Game 17 - Burai II

Burai II: Revenge of the Dark Emperor (ブライⅡ闇皇帝の逆襲)
Released 12/18/1992, published by River Hill Soft



This is the second half of Burai. On the PC Burai came out in two parts, and the first part was ported to the Genesis, Super Famicom, and PC Engine. But only the PC Engine got the second part. So if you have any interest in Burai, you should definitely play either the original PC version or the PC Engine version. I covered the first part of this game in an earlier post, and at the end of the review I said this:

"The story and characters are pretty entertaining but the gameplay is not very good. There's too much mandatory grinding, and money is too scarce and healing is too time-consuming (especially with 8 characters). I will try Burai II when it comes up though, to see if they improve on the system at all."

The answer is no, they did not -- the system is exactly the same. So I recommend reading the earlier post first. I'm not going to play a lot of this game since pretty much everything I said about the original game applies to this as well. The main differences are in the graphics, interface, and cutscenes, which are (for the most part) much improved.
Our heroes
After defeating Darl at the end of the first Burai, the 8 heroes go back to their separate homes. But of course evil is still plotting.
Evil
The game starts out like the first Burai, with separate short chapters for each character. The first chapter is with Sakyo and Ninetails. Sakyo is still without most of his powers due to the events of the first game.
Sakyo, Ninetails, and her children
One of the servants of the Dark Emperor, the the Water Beast General Barbara, appears, wanting to learn the strongest techniques from Sakyo. Sakyo refuses to teach her, and can't in any case while his power is sealed. She doesn't believe Sakyo and steals away Ninetails' children to try to force Sakyo to obey.
Sakyo and Barbara
Of course Sakyo and Ninetails go to find her and release her children. The graphics and interface of the game, with the exception of the tiny map sprite, is a huge improvement over the first game.
The status screen
But the game still starts the same way, where you have to run around grinding until you're strong enough to advance. There is a heal spring which is helpful if you find it.
A tiny map sprite
In the first section, we find a castle that we can't enter without a bunch of stones. This comes with a cutscene and voice -- in the first game, there were only cutscenes between chapters, but this adds many more of them during the chapters as well. To find the stones you have to go to the stone heads; certain ones give you the stones. Others attack, which I found to be an instant game over -- unlike the first game, you don't get survive a lost battle as long as you're not already weak when the battle starts.

Once we find the stones, there's a 5 level castle that gives some new equipment and ends in a fight with Barbara.
Barbara and the children
Afterwards, Sakyo convinces her that he can't teach her anything without his powers being restored. So she allows Ninetails to leave and try to restore the powers while Sakyo and the children stay there as hostages. This ends the first chapter.
Start of Chapter 2
That's as far as I played. As I said, I didn't really enjoy the gameplay of 1 that much so I don't really need to play 2 that much. If you liked 1 you'll like 2 also; if you don't like 1 there's no reason to play 2.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Game 26 - Shinseiki Odysselya Review

Story/Characters: For the point I've reached (mid-1993) this is not bad at all. The story is based on mixing together a bunch of different mythologies and providing "explanations" for certain myths and religious elements. There's reincarnation, gods, ancient intelligent lizard people, and more. Sometimes I found things a little hard to follow but overall this is a strong point of the game.

  
World: It's earth! There are three time periods -- prehistory (ice age), 1300 BC, and 550 BC. Each has areas roughly appropriate to the time period. Maybe the individual towns and cultures could have been a little more developed but overall it's not too bad.

 
Game Flow: The game plays smoothly. You can turn on fast running in the options, and there are several auto battle options including one that automatically exits autobattle when someone is in critical. Some dungeons have ridiculously powerful grunts but you can run from them. The bosses don't require grinding. Perhaps the only issue is that sometimes it doesn't seem like there are enough hints for what to do next.

System: Basic AMID for the most part. You can equip magic, and each magic can be used either offensively or defensively, and you can raise the power level as your caster gains levels. This game shares a quality with GDLeen and a few other games on this blog -- innovations or unusual features that don't affect the game much. In this case I never changed my stat allocations or the style of attack. Although maybe you can make the main character an effective magic user; that might work.

Side Quests/Optional Content: None that I know of.

Interface: No big complaints here, but we still can't see the power of weapons/armor before selecting them. I also don't like that you can't buy a weapon without equipping it on someone.

Graphics/Sound: Commenters pointed out that the enemy art is well-done. Other than that, we're slowly moving towards the richer, larger graphics of the later SFC rather than the Famicom-style graphics of earlier games. The music was fine -- maybe a bit above average but none of the songs stuck in my head.



Next up on the list is Estopolis, released in the US as Lufia and the Fortress of Doom. I played this a few years ago recovering from the flu -- at the time I thought it was slow moving and tedious but having played 26 games on this blog it's really not that bad. It's the kind of average, plodding RPG I thought I'd see a lot on this blog.

So the next game then is Silva Saga II, which I will get to after a few more PC Engine games.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Game 26 - Shinseiki Odysselya Part 2 (Finished)

After beating Nebuchadnezzar, it's time to get our third permanent party member by finding Kari and releasing her from a curse, transforming her into Yasha. Along the way we also met Buddha, who ascends into heaven.
Kari
She's another magic user, although I often had her equipped with a bow and she did pretty good damage with that. There were some BS monsters in this dungeon that did huge damage and sapped MP. Since you can save anywhere, I just ran a lot. We then return to Dappa, where Kurisu starts talking about being reborn and something about Valhalla, but it's not coherent and she forgets she said it. Next up, we need some vehicles. The ship comes from Thebes, where there's a strange encounter with a masochistic nipple-slip woman:
Wardrobe malfunction
Now with the ship, we can go to the Minotaur labyrinth and get the Wyvern, who will let us fly around the world (but not over mountains). Unfortunately the Wyvern has to take time to grow since it's just a child...but Dappa is able to use his god powers to accelerate that a bit. The next major part of this game is defeating five enemies to release five seals, which have locked away Ashura, the master of the guardians. Then we can reach the heavenly world to face the Heaven Emperor and get him back for exiling all the guardians to the Earth.

So this section of the game involves traveling around the world to various locations -- a lot of the map is fairly empty, but we visit China, Japan, South America, Britain, and Africa. Along the way there are a lot of references to actual mythology and such, but I won't give them all in great detail. 
Eventually we break all the seals. Now with Garuda's help, it's off to the heavenly kingdom.
Garuda
The Heavenly Kingdom is pretty large and the castle at the end is long as well. By this point I have people who can cast level 8 magic; it costs 800 MP but does a huge amount of damage. A few of these spells is usually enough to send the bosses packing. There are 5 bosses in the castle, ending with the Heavenly Emperor...
Tentei
...which is an auto-loss fight. But a mysterious figure comes in while he's gloating and steals his wand, which was the item he was going to use to take over the three worlds. The figure turns out to be Ashura, who has manipulated us all to get to this point. Dappa is also working with her, so we have to fight him too, and then it's time to make the final excursion into the demon world to finish off Ashura. This dungeon is not as long as the heavenly kingdom one, and levelling is pretty quick. The final boss has two forms -- the first is easy; you just summon level 7 Lucifer who can absorb all her spells. The second is harder.
Lucifer 7 is still helpful, but since she regenerates 9999 HP a turn, you have to continuously use heavy damage spells to have any hope. This quickly saps the MP but there are good healing items to recover, so ultimately it's not too bad.

In the ending, it turns out that Kurisu was some guardian (it sounds like a Valkyrie although they never use that name) who committed some sin and was sent to Earth to pay for that. As Ashura dies, she opens a portal to send a bunch of demons into the world to kill everyone. How do we deal with this?

Yes, that is what you think it is. The Guardians send telepathic messages to people all over the world to gather in Noah's Ark, and then I thought Kurisu was sacrificing her spirit to cause the flood -- but then she was still there at the end, so evidently I misread.




So there's obviously a lot more to the story than the outline I gave here -- at times I had a hard time following it, partly because it's in all hiragana and I'm sometimes too lazy to look up words I don't know. But there may have been some moderate incoherence to the plot itself. Overall it was pretty good, though. I think this has possibly the most dialogue of any of the games I've played up to this point, which shows some progress towards later games. The gameplay is fairly average -- it's typical of this era that it's the normal AMID system with some innovative features which turn out to be fairly useless. One I forgot to mention is that you can change the way your characters attack, raising their damage in return for lower hit rate. I never found this to be useful, though.

I'll post the review later in the week and then it's back to the PC Engine. I'm going to be gone for about 2 weeks in late June and early July but I'm hoping to have some scheduled posts during that time.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Game 26 - Shinseiki Odysselya

Shinseiki Odysselya (神聖紀オデッセリア)
Released 6/18/1993, published by Vic Tokai



Back to the Super Famicom, with a mythology themed game. Apparently this game was on the slate to be released in the US as Lost Horizon, and even got reviewed in Nintendo Power (by someone who didn't like RPGs), but was cancelled before release. Nintendo's release criteria could be a little slapdash, but it seems surprising to me that they ever considered this game. Not only does it have heavy mythology elements but it involves Old Testament figures and stories -- perhaps this was not as "dangerous" as if it had involved Jesus or the New Testament. But it still suggests that the Bible stories didn't actually happen like the Bible says. There's also some nudity they would have had to censor.
Nintendo of America would not have liked this

The game takes place on Earth, in three time periods. The first two (prehistory and 1500 BC) are short and serve mostly as prologue segments. Most of the game takes place in 550 BC. The history is obviously not completely accurate, but they do seem to have taken some effort to fit the time -- for instance, Rome is a tiny town, although someone in Athens tells you they have the feeling Rome is going to get a lot bigger later.
The opening tells us that the all-powerful gave various duties to the gods they had created, separated between light, darkness, and the in-between. Eventually the guardians of earth attacked the heaven dwellers, but were defeated and scattered around the world. Early people called them the Titano Guardians. Now life developed on earth, and about a billion and a half years later, the highly evolved dinosaurs, the Ryuujinzoku, were at the apex of their civilization. But they misused their technology and knowledge, and brought ruin upon themselves. This is where the game starts, with a young woman appearing among them.
Kyle, a dragon, finds our main character lying in a field after a fight with some monkeys. She doesn't remember her name, but decides to use the name Kurisu. The Ryuujin are in big trouble; there's an ice age, and they're down to just a small number of them left. But Konlon, the leader, wants Kurisu to break the seal on the Holy Road so that they can defeat the apes.
The battle system is typical AMID, with a few innovations. There are several auto battle options, which is always appreciated (one automatically exits auto battle if you drop into critical HP). There are front and back rows, and with weapons like spears and bows you can attack from the back rows without problems. One interesting feature is that most magic has two forms, an attack and defense. For instance, Thor is a thunder attack, and a revive spell. As characters level, they can put more power into the spells (from level 1 to 8) at the cost of more MP. The magic is split between Talisman magic, which you equip, and special magic, which is learned with level ups.

There are a few other aspects of the system that aren't much use. The back of the box trumpets the fact that you can control the stat gains on level up, but this doesn't seem very useful -- the characters come with settings that are pretty good to fit their fighting type, and I have never changed them. You can also combine two weapons to make a third. But it's a frustrating process because there's no way to know what the combination will be, and most combinations don't do anything. Worse, there's a glitch that makes the items disappear sometimes. The combined stuff isn't even that useful anyway...I did a few combinations at the beginning with the recipes from the instruction manual, but not after that.
The leader, Konlon, wants us to find a statue that will supposedly enable the Ryuujin to unleash their true power and then defeat the monkeys (some of whom are primitive humans). But when we find the statue, it's the god Naga, who tells Kurisu that part of her mission is to find the guardians who were defeated in the heaven war. Konlon comes to smash the statue, which he thinks will give him power -- instead it kills all the remaining Ryuujin. We also learn that the humans and apes were genetically engineered by the Ryuujin to be slaves. But they will now inherit the earth. Kyle is still around, and wants to get revenge on Draken, the guardian that caused the destruction.
But it turns out Kyle is an avatar of Draken, and so attacking Draken also hurts Kyle, and eventually they are both defeated. Naga then appears to tell us we just witnessed the end of one civilization and the start of another; she will give the humans fire. Kurisu is now sent 100,000 years in the future, to 1300 BC, in the town of Doran (most of the cities are real-world but I'm not sure what ドラン is.) She quickly meets Loos, who is a reincarnation of Kyle, and wants to travel with Kurisu again. They hear that Naga is in Thebes and go off to find her again. Instead, we find Ezen, who seems to be filling the role of Moses. He also recognizes Kurisu and wonders what she's doing "in that form" but won't say any more.
Go down Ezen, way down in Egypt land
This section is a version of the Exodus story, with Ezen asking Pharoah to release the people of Zion. Of course he refuses, so we (along with Sarai) have to sneak into the labor camp and find Joshua, the leader of Zion. With his help the slaves escape, but Pharoah pursues us to a river. Sarai sacrifices herself to give Ezen the power to part the river.
The red sea parts
From here, Kurisu and Loos arrive in Babylon, then climb the Tower of Babel to reach a garden in the sky where they hope to find one of the guardians.
Dappa
In the garden is Dappa (who I also don't think is any real mythological figure). He mentions the world's destruction by a flood many years ago thanks to the Heavenly Emperor, and sends us forward to 550 BC, which is apparently the original time for both Kurisu and Loos. This is where most of the game takes place. It turns out Loos is the son of the Persian King. The first task is to save Canaan from Babylon (the Sack of Jersualem was in 587 BC so I guess this is based on that). Loos is able to convince his father to send some troops at Babylon, and we break in and fight Nebuchadnezzar, who has turned into a monster.
Nebuchadnezzar
The character on the right, the Roc, is a familiar. There are several of these throughout the game. You can't control them, but they always go first and regain all their MP each battle so they can be quite powerful. I'll end this post here -- I should be able to finish the game in a few days but I'll probably need two more posts about it. It's a pretty average game so far.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

PCE Game 16 - Cosmic Fantasy 3

Cosmic Fantasy 3: Adventure Boy Rei (コズミック・ファンタジー3 冒険少年レイ)
Released 9/25/1992, published by Telenet


Zenic Reverie's post on Cosmic Fantasy 2 says "It's the games like this: bland, mediocre, unpolished filler that makes it difficult to feel motivated to play another hour." I agreed with that assessment for Cosmic Fantasy 1, and I agree with it for CF3 as well -- in some ways CF3 is worse than 1. We have an uninspired plot, a bland battle system with a high encounter rate, and disappointing visuals and cinematics. The game takes place in the same milieu as the first two, with the "Space Security Force" and their team of space cadets solving various problems.
The game begins with Nyan, the cat merchant from CF1, being attacked by other cat enemies. He crash lands on a planet, and the story switches to Rei, the hero. He has mysterious healing powers. His first task is to sell some herbs of their small village at the capital.
The battle system is the same as 2. It's your basic AMID -- the only innovation is that you can choose the order your guys act. There's also an auto battle.
The first big problem is the random encounter rate, which is commonly mentioned as a bad point of the entire series. It's not only high, but seems very regular, about every 6 steps or so. The game balance is all over the place -- at times you can mow everything down, and you'll level up (and recover your MP) before you run out of healing. Other times enemies kill you from full HP with a single critical hit. There seems to be nothing in between those two extremes, although fortunately it was more often "mow everyone down." The bosses on the whole have low HP and can't really do much against you, except for the first boss which could critical everyone to death.
Without the manual I don't know what that DX is
Rei meets Doga, the bearded guy above, by healing his wife. We also discover that children have been kidnapped by some monster -- not Mamon, who joins the party, but Guru, who is the boss pictured above. The game has no world map, or even a transition screen between towns and the outside area. This at least is somewhat fresh compared to other games, but combined with the ridiculous encounter rate it's hard to find your way around. After the detour of saving the children, Rei heads off to the capital to sell his herbs. Afterwards he reads about Princess Diana's upcoming marriage. Now Rei heads north although I forget why -- he happens upon Nyan's crashed ship.
Making our way back to the capital, of course Nyan has to sell Rei stuff, including a bridge for 1000 gold. Back at the capital, there are new posters up for a battle tournament. The winner will become one of the candidates for Diana's hand. Nyan basically tricks/forces Rei into entering, selling him an item that lets him beat the leader. Now the king gives all the candidates a mission -- find the Sebulrakis Stone in the royal tomb and bring it back. Jay, a knight who is in love with Diana (but not one of the candidates) comes along in our party.
Along the way we save fairies and get a flute. It's hard to see where the story is going.
Finally we reach the tomb, and have to make it through three trials to reach the Stone. The first trial is just to return alone to the tomb (fortunately the encounters here are easy). The second is to solve a rock pushing puzzle. The third, which happens automatically, is to save one of the other suitors from a jail cell. Finally we recover the stone -- but it turns out one of the other suitors has faked a stone and "won" the contest!
But Nyan has another Sebulrakis Stone and is able to prove which one is the real one. Jay gets the princess, and Nyan gets the stone -- it turns out he is looking for seven of these stones on the planet for an unknown reason, and he ropes Rei into joining him on his journey.


Now the story switches to space, and the CF1 and 2 characters. The Space Pirates from the first games are back, with a convoluted plan to go back in time and prevent the Cosmic Hunters from being formed.
Yuu and Van
They're breaking into the Space Pirates ship to defeat them. This is where I stopped.
The CF2 crew
I guess it's nice to see the old characters again, but this game just isn't very good. The story is all over the place, the system is boring, and the encounter rate is too high. Unfortunately there is one more Cosmic Fantasy game in 1995 (split into two parts) -- maybe they will have fixed some of the problems by then.

Now it's back to Super Famicom with Shinseki Odysselya, a game with mythology influences.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

PCE Game 15 - Farjius no Jakotei

Farjius no Jakotei: Neo Metal Fantasy (ファージアスの邪皇帝)
Released 8/29/1992, published by Human


Continuing with the PC Engine blitz, this game is based on some sort of interactive game that ran in a Japanese magazine in 1991 and 1992 -- I'm not sure exactly how it worked, but it involved sending your moves and/or solutions to the magazine and then in the next installment of the game they would continue the game and show how people were doing, and what your ranking was. They next released a PC Engine game.

The opening story is pretty cliche -- there were gods who created the world, and evil gods of destruction who tried to ruin everything. A hero created by the gods went up against the destruction god and eventually sealed his power, but died, promising that he would awaken once again if the god of destruction returned. Now the world has been mostly taken over by the Jakotei (evil Emperor). The main character is Atima, played by the late Honda Chieko.

Atima has turned 16, so she has to undergo the trial to see if she can awaken the hero from his slumber. Here's the big twist of the game: she succeeds in awakening him!


However, he's just a little kid that doesn't remember anything about who he is. Honestly at this point I'm not sure what is already old cliche and what only seems like cliche 26 years later. Anyway, the Jakotei quickly gets wind of all of this and kidnaps Atima and her parents, though he doesn't recognize who Dimeora (the hero) is, and just kicks him out of the floating castle.

The battle system is basic AMID, but the magic is done a little differently. Rather than MP, you collect "Akashic" from beating enemies and finding them in chests. The max is 9999. That pool is shared among all your party members and it's what you use to cast spells. The cheapest spells are only 100 akashic, but the most expensive ones are close to 3000. To learn spells you visit a "guild" in town who will give you any spell they have that Atima or Dimeora can use; there is a limit to how many spells each can hold, but you can also get rid of spells at a guild as well.
A boss fight, showing the 9199 current Akashic and three spells: Heal, Defense up, and Flame
After Atima's capture, Dimeora sets out on his own, but is soon joined by Princess Satera and two mercenaries she hired (Sid and Katoon). We reach an Aleph Base (Aleph is against the evil Emperor). In bars you can tune into the news and hear what's happening with the war. Another interesting feature is party conversations, which are much like the skits in later Tales Of games. Your party talks about where to go next, what they feel about the current situation, etc. This and the news broadcasts are where most of the voicing is in the game.
A news broadcast
Eventually we make it through to Lalogs, which is nearby the floating fortress. After freeing Lalogs town from an attack, we receive a card key that will let us into the floating fortress -- pretty early in the game to go after what seems like the final dungeon, but I assume we'll be back. Because this time all Dimoera manages to do is save Atima. The Dark Emperor himself appears, but when reinforcements arrive for our party, he runs away.
The Dark Emperor
Unfortunately Atima's parents are still captured, but fortunately the Emperor is still unaware that Dimeora is the hero reborn. The floating fortress moves again, and this time to chase after it we need a boat, which requires a few fetch quests.
The boat
With the boat we continued to the next country, of Laa. One thing I noticed at this point is that the combats were getting harder and harder, primarily because my party was missing so often. Katoon, in particular, seemed hardly able to land any hits.
A difficult boss
This was especially troublesome in the above boss, who used Gale 2 that does 80 HP to everyone (max HP around 200-250 at this point). I had to fight him several times until finally I just landed enough hits to kill him. There's a glitch where even though it claims attack up spells can only be used once, you can keep casting them again and again to increase attack -- this means you don't have to land many hits to kill the enemy, but it's still annoying.

The next dungeon was where I had to quit.  I was missing so often that I could barely get through a random encounter, particularly since the random enemies were now casting Gale 2.  Is this an emulation glitch? This seems unlikely, but no walkthrough pages I saw mentioned this. Many sites seem to think it's an easy game because of the magic system. But without an instruction booklet, or any good information on the web, I'm not sure what's going on. By this point I had played about 6 hours of the game so that seemed like a good time to move on, since the PC Engine games are supposed to be side projects anyway. Next up, Cosmic Fantasy 3, which isn't very good.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

PCE Game 14 - Dragon Knight II

Dragon Knight II (ドラゴンナイトII)
Released 8/7/1992, published by NEC Avenue
Messania, the game's adversary

I mentioned back in my Cosmic Fantasy post that the PC Engine, for whatever reason, became the platform for releasing games that featured a lot of erotic content. I'm not sure what the legal issues are because none of the games were ever full "eroge" (pornographic games). It seems unlikely to me that every game publisher would have just agreed not to release eroge for consoles. Dragon Knight II, as far as I know, is the first time a publisher released a toned-down version of an eroge for a console. This is now standard practice, with eroge of all kinds being released on consoles in cleaned-up versions.
The status screen, showing your "Deffence" and the "Blord Sword" (Broad Sword) equipped

Dragon Knight is an interesting series, and the Hardcore Gaming article has a detailed history (NSFW, although the actual porn images are censored unless you click on them. I don't know why the style of the page has been removed.) Apparently it was the first eroge to try to focus on the gameplay in addition to the erotic content. The first two follow a Wizardry-style of gameplay, the third is more console-JRPG style, and the fourth is a strategy RPG.
Now I've picked up "Scail Armor"

All four games came out for computers, but as I indicated above, ELF decided to also port them all to consoles. Thus all four games will be on this blog -- the first three on PC Engine, and the last on the Super Famicom. The original DK was not released until 1995 so first up is the second game. The third game was actually released in English as "Knights of Xentar," which CRPGAddict covered on his blog. I remember playing that at a friend's house.
Barn
The game begins with the hero Takeru (Desmond in the English version of Xentar) losing a drinking bet with Barn (Rolf in Xentar). He has to deliver a sacred book to the town of Phoenix. There, he visits various places, meeting the young women there. (One note: if you've played Knights of Xentar in the English translation, they made a lot of arbitrary changes -- Takeru, unlike Desmond, doesn't stink or have a small penis.)
The item shop owner and his daughters
The art is very much 80s anime style. All the sequences are voiced, although there seemed to be problems playing the voice in some cases -- I'm not sure if this is an emulation bug or a problem with the original. Takeru is played by Kamiya Akira, who is best known for playing various "manly" hero roles such as Kenshiro in First of the North Star, or Ryoma in Getter Robo. Barn is Ginga Banjo, another "manly" character actor. A few other characters have prominent voice actors, such as Kate (Hisakawa Aya) but most of them are unknowns (I think).
The weapon shop owner and his daughters
Takeru spends the night in Phoenix. The next day, all the women of the village are gone. The sorceress Messiana has bewitched them all, changed them into monsters, and put them in the tower. This tower is 300 years old and was involved in a war between the witches and dragon knights. Messania hates all men based on that war and thus has taken all the women. The book that Takeru was delivering to Phoenix was supposed to seal Messania away, but now the pages are scattered around the tower. Collecting them will enable Takeru to return each girl to normal. Takeru is really reluctant to take this task on, but the mayor is able to convince him by promising money, and maybe "special favors" from the women he saves.
Dungeons
The gameplay follows Wizardry, but the system itself is far less developed and interesting. As you can see above, it's a normal first person map, with an automap at the top left. There is something fun about filling in all the squares of the map, and this is one of those games where every square is accessible, making it easier to find secret doors. Soon, Takeru encounters his first monster.
A mummy
All of the monsters in the game are the transformed women from Phoenix town. Because they're intended to excite the player, the "monster" graphics are quite detailed, much better than any other RPG of this time period. The battle system is about as dead simple as can be; you basically just mash attack in every fight. Levelling gives you so much of a power boost that equipment is pointless, and when you get Sophia later and get spells there's not much point using them. When you first get to a new floor the monsters can be difficult, but after a couple of levels you'll plow through everything. So if you're looking for a game with a satisfying battle system, this isn't it. So Takeru beats the mummy.
"How can you do this to a lady!"
Each time you beat the monsters you get a scene like above; the idea is that the woman then runs off and regenerates, to fight again later. In the PC version these scenes were fully nude, but they've been censored for the PCE version. Unfortunately this whole setup does include suggestions of violence and rape, issues that often come up with eroge and other pornographic media. Ultimately it's not as bad as it could be because the "cutting off clothes by force" doesn't lead to sex, just titillation for the player. The basic goal of the game is to find all 27 pages of the book around in the dungeon. When you get a page, the next time you encounter that monster you'll have an additional option "release". This frees the woman from the spell, giving you another scantily clad image:
Eve, released from her mummy form
Afterwards, you'll get a special scene in town -- most of them activate by staying at the inn, but a few involve other places. From what I can gather, I think that in the PC version all of the scenes were sexual -- the idea is that the mayor and other people have encouraged the girls to go "thank" Takeru for saving them, and this leads to sex. I'm not sure what restrictions the developers might have been under porting it to the PC Engine, but they did not simply retain the scenes but fade to black before anything explicit happened. Only a handful of the scenes clearly end in sex (though off screen). The rest either make Takeru think the girl is going to have sex with him only to be disappointed, or are about something else entirely. Eve is one of the former; she wants to "teach" Takeru things which he hopes will be sexual, but it turns out to just be herbal lore.
Eve's lesson
So that's the "reward" side of the game -- what about the dungeon exploration? As I said before, the combat is unsatisfying, but the rest of the exploration is not that bad. On the first floor of the tower, there are several locked doors that you'll have to return to later. Takeru also finds Pietro, the fiance of Kate (the daughter of the mayor) wounded.
Pietro
He's clutching one of the book pages (the mummy one). Elsewhere on the floor there is a rat who becomes a recurring character in the game. He wants cheese and wine from the pub in town.
Mr. rat
Once he gets his wish he gives you a clue to unlocking the elevator to other floors, and gives up another page of the book. Finally, once the lift starts moving, another book page falls out. Most of the floors have several puzzles and events. So the exploration of the floors is more interesting than the older Wizardry games. Also the goal of finding all the pages and then "curing" the monsters (which then are no longer encountered) is a non-standard gameplay idea, even if it is geared towards erotic scenes.
Sophia
Barn joins the party soon, and later in the game Sophia, a mage, completes the party. Her spells are pointless other than the healing spells. However, there is a lot of humorous banter between Sophia, Takeru, and Barn.
This is one of the scenes that does end in implied sex

So is this a good game? Eh, probably not. For a 1992 console RPG it's graphically impressive, if you can stand the 80s anime art. The story, while not amazing, has some twists and is not the worst storyline I've seen on this blog. Takeru is not the typical "destined hero" protagonist. The combat may as well not exist, even if the "monsters" are all very detailed. There is always something fun about exploring the 18x18 maps and filling in all the squares on the automap. The game is quite short (it only took me 8 hours, although that's including speeding up most of the battles; probably closer to 12-15 played on an actual console). But the brevity may actually help the game.
Giant Spider enemy

I have a feeling this would get a low score on CRPGAddict's GIMLET ranking. I'm not going to try to rank it myself on his scale, but the "economy" and "equipment" would suffer since there's no point to equipment or buying anything.

It was an interesting decision for Elf and NEC Avenue to try to port this game to a console. Did they feel that it stood on its own as an RPG without the erotic content? Did they think the titillation factor even in the censored game was enough to sell it? Were they hoping it would act as sort of an advertisement for the full computer versions? It must have sold decently, because they ported Dragon Knight III two years later, and a remake of Dragon Knight I in 1995. Dragon Knight 4 was then ported both to Super Famicom (in its waning years) and the Playstation. So, as I said above, I'll be returning to this series again later.