Friday, November 27, 2020

Game 52 - Samsara Naga 2 (Finished)

I started the game over and made it to world 3 with the Blue and Red dragons this time. The "feed" part was still annoying -- I saved every single monster I fought up to that scene and I still ended up having to grind another 100-150 monster corpses. I get the idea of feeding your baby dragons, but did they have to make it that much?

World 3 is a lava world. As usual Amrita screwed things up by stealing their Sisilla Drops that they use to freeze the lava, so we have to get those first. Afterwards we actually catch a glimpse of Amrita at an inn, but before we wake up she leaves, leaving behind a note telling us not to follow her. Heading on we come to the Dragon Guild for this world, which (surprise) has been destroyed by Amrita, who was trying to find out something about the dragons. Most of this world is taken up by a large dungeon (Asura's dungeon) that is done in parts. The minotaur dungeon is especially good because you fight one at a time, they're easy, and they give big XP.


World 4 is a water world, and it's been totally flooded. The water areas have annoying catfish monsters that poison you, and you can't run from them. Eventually we have to get diving equipment to go under the sea to various temples. Finally here we meet Amrita for the first time.

She reminds us that it's pointless to try to take her in since the previous worlds no longer exist. She's not going to fight us, but if we want to find out what would make her betray the guild we should keep following her up the worlds. Later we meet Pannaga, a god of some kind. Amrita came to him to find out why dragons were born in the first place, but he has no idea. This seems to be something she was searching for at the Guilds as well.


World 5 is a wind world. The baby dragons finally grow some wings, and with a flight helmet our main character is able to fly on the dragons as long as they leave from a helipad or dragon catapult.


Another sleeping Dragon, a god like creature, says that Amrita asked her the same questions about dragons. She's also been among some of the Wind Dragon Riders turning them against the Guild.

World 6 has a colosseum and you have to exchange your Rupees for Megarupees, so try to save some selling items and monster corpses.


You have to win 8 battles to proceed (though not all at once). Some walkthroughs claim you have to be alone to do this, but this isn't actually the case. You do have to be alone to register, but once you've done that you can recover your dragons and fight. I only found this out because the final fight is nearly impossible alone because of the Sleep status all the enemies inflict.

Next we find that Dragon Knights and Dragonriders are in conflict on this world and are constantly fighting each other. After being accepted by the Dragon Knights, Kurisu becomes a girl in the King's harem, but after escaping, the two sides attack each other leaving every place open for looting (tons of treasure chests!)

World 7 is interesting. All it is is a long tower with eight Haratama restaurants. Six of them represent the previous worlds, and you learn how each one was destroyed after you left it. After that, going back to them you see a replay of Amrita visiting them, and learn more about her. Apparently the Guild tried to destroy her black dragon, which is why she fought back against them. The Guild has been framing her for all the bad stuff that happened on each world. But she herself believes there might be something wrong with her dragon, but how could a dragon master kill her own dragon?

World 8 is the last one. It's a sequence of areas that are mostly various kinds of mazes. 


Amrita is at the end. She was impossible when I fought her at first, looking at a walkthrough I found that you should be at least level 55 by this point, I was at 41. With the tedious battle system of this game there was no way I was going to grind that many levels, so I used a code -- unfortunately the only code I could find was a level 99 one, so the last two fights were very easy.

Amrita's worst fears have come to pass -- her black dragon will become the Chaos Dragon, who is responsible for the destruction of the worlds so far and will eventually destroy everything. After fighting you to make sure you're strong enough, she asks you to kill the Chaos Dragon for her.


The Chaos Dragon is the "Final Dragon" that all dragons were leading towards, and the goal was to bring Kurisu's White Dragon together with the Chaos Dragon. Indeed, the white dragon (Ruth) has to sacrifice herself to destroy the Chaos Dragon in the end.


 After the fight, you're suddenly back in the first town, but now the main character is named Ruth. Amrita is there. Canth and Ramoth (my baby dragons) have been reincarnated as people, and Al Sinha (who helped us throughout the game) is a cow. Once again, Ruth had been found clutching an egg -- the egg hatches, and the white dragon Kurisu is born. Roll credits.

I think the idea is that by beating the Chaos Dragon, the world is now reborn in a more stable form, without the Chaos Dragon? It doesn't really explain what happened.

The story and world are pretty interesting in this game, although I would have liked them to flesh out the ending a bit more. The graphics are ugly, as I said before.

But the big problem, as usual, is the battle system. The battles are just so slow and plodding, the grunt monsters so strong, and the random encounter rate so high, that the game becomes a chore to play. I ran from most of the fights in the last few worlds and used a code to strengthen my guys; I would have never finished this game on a real console.

Also the equipment breaking system is incredibly annoying and totally unnecessary; I don't know what the designers thought it added to the game.

No more Samsara Naga games were made, but in 2001, the first two games were remade for Game Boy Advance. The graphics are a lot better and the interface looks better too, but I don't know if any of the fundamental problems of the battle system were addressed.



Friday, November 20, 2020

Update

I just finished Tactics Ogre, and restarted Samsara Naga 2. I'm going to use a cheat code to get the necessary monster corpses to pass that stupid baby feeding part, but hopefully I can quickly get back to World 3 with the correct dragon combination, and can make an update next weekend.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Game 52 - Samsara Naga 2 (Part 1)

Sam̊sāra Nāga 2 (サンサーラ・ナーガ2)
Released 7/15/1994, Published by Victor Entertainment


This is the sequel to a Famicom game from 1990. It looks like a Famicom game in many ways -- the graphics are definitely the low point of the game. It's party the ugly character designs of Oshii Mamoru, but also just the generally low quality of the graphics.


The story background is that the main character was found as a baby abandoned in the Dragon Guild Ryuen, with a small egg. The egg never grew or hatched, and people made fun of her, except for Amrita, who was her only friend. But one day Amrita suddenly burned down Ryuen, taking her egg and running away. Her goal is to reach the top of the 8 worlds that constitute the universe. At the same time, the main character's egg grows and hatches, producing a White Dragon, something seen only once in 100 years. Since Amrita destroyed all the other dragons and eggs, it's up to Kurisu to take her White Dragon and chase after Amrita.



The main character does not level. Instead, each time you advance to the next world (out of 8) you get 200 more HP and some other stat upgrades. There is a lot of equipment, but it wears out and breaks after a while. This is incredibly annoying, and I don't understand what they thought it added to the game. It just means that you're constantly having to juggle equipment, buy extras of everything, check after battles to see if anything broke, etc. It also means that if you find a cool new piece of equipment in a dungeon, or receive one from the noodle shop stamp collection, it's not all that exciting because you know it's just going to break in a little while.

The game is standard DQ2-style. The dragons have "Mantras" which are spells, but the main character has nothing but attack.


When you finish a battle, you get the choice of eating the monsters (which recovers some HP/MP for your dragon and gives them a little XP bonus), or taking the corpses. The corpses can be sold at any Haratama Noodle Shop for money. There are 64 shops in the game and each one gives you a stamp; every 8 stamps you get a prize (which will soon break, so what's the point?)

The first goal is to get a helmet, since every dragon rider needs one as the symbol of their position (the helmets may be unbreakable). Since Amrita burned down the equipment there's none there, so the main quest of the first world is to get this helmet of a previous legendary dragonrider Al Sinha. This involves solving some minor problems typical of RPGs -- a town being controlled by a selfish power hungry guy, etc.


In the Naga cemetery you learn more of the backstory of the dragons. All the different dragons in the world are descended from one egg, and the goal of all the dragons is to produce the Final Dragon, who has already been born. Al Sinha's spirit gives the main character his helmet and repeats the command to go find Amrita.

So now we move on to the second world. When you move on, you can't return to the previous world (and at the end of the second world we learn that the previous worlds cease to exist once you move on).
My dragon (Ramoth, named after the Pern series) is pregnant with twins! I have to buy two charms at the end of the first world, which will determine the colors of the dragons. I decided on Blue + Red, which seemed like a good combo (the other choice is Green, which is a priest type character, but Ramoth can already cast healing spells).
 
There's a convenient cave in the second world for her to give birth, but she's worried about the egg thieves that everyone is talking about. So first we have to deal with that. This involves mostly a large investigation quest with two feuding companies, Taj and Mahal.
 

Once this is dealt with, Ramoth is ready to give birth, so we head to the hospital. This is by far the most annoying part of the game. We learn that Amrita was here and her black dragon wasn't born by an egg but tore her way out of her mother's womb; the nurses who saw the bloody scene are scarred and never want to deliver another dragon.

The babies are born safe, but now we have to feed them. You need a huge number of monster corpses for this -- at least 200, maybe as many as 300 or more. I was warned by a walkthrough to save up corpses but I didn't save enough. Also you lose Ramoth for this section so you have to fight enemies with the main character alone, while her equipment breaks over and over again.

Finally we get enough corpses for the food, and now you have to register the babies, which involves what I guess is supposed to be a parody of bureaucracy, running around talking to different people in a huge office and getting forms. The parody is just as fun as the real thing.

Then as you progress a bit, your dragons get an illness. You have to go back to the hospital again and wait a long time for the doctor to fix them. I don't get what the point of this whole sequence is.


I was also really upset to find out as you can see in the above screenshot, that I had accidentally gotten a green dragon instead of blue. Green + Red is the worst combo for beating the game. I moved on to the third world and found myself in a tough situation.

At this point I can barely win a single random battle, I can't get to a Haratama to sell things for money, and I don't like my dragons. I think I have to start over with the Blue + Red combination and make sure I'm a little more ready for the third world. My rules say I have to beat this game because it has no patch or translation, but I don't think I can face starting it over right away. I'm going to at least play Tactics Ogre for my other blog. After that if I still don't feel like playing this game I will just move it back a few games on the list so that I can come back to it in 4-6 months when hopefully I can come back to it fresh.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Game 51 - Slayers

Slayers (スレイヤーズ)
Released 6/24/1994, Banpresto
 

 

I've played quite a few games based on anime/light novels for this blog. In general, they've been cheap cash grabs with none of the charm or interest of the original series. Slayers is a popular light novel series that was made into an anime; I remember watching all three seasons in college. The Slayers video game is different from some of the others in that the original writers of Slayers was involved in the project and it fits in with the series better than games like Ranma or Fist of the North Star.

Often the difficulty the creators have is how to transfer the original context to an RPG. For instance, Fist of the North Star involves people who can kill others with a touch, and who can only be matched by one of the few people who also have skill in these martial arts techniques? How did the Fist RPGs deal with this? By completely ignoring it and having Kenshiro and the others fight grunts with nunchuks or regular punches.

Slayers has a similar problem -- in the original series, Lina Inverse is supposed to be one of the most powerful magicians in the world, able to use devastating magic attacks that can destroy towns. So this game begins with Lina having lost her memory, as well as all but a few of her magic spells. This allows for the growth that you expect in an RPG without violating the storyline of the original. It may seem like a cheap way out, but it is involved in the story more than you might expect at first.

There are a large number of characters from the series in the game, including a number from the novels that I was not familiar with. Other than Lina you can't choose who you want to have until very late in the game. Each character has the same basic RPG choices but with a special move. Sylphiel can use her magic on everyone, and Lemmy does an all attack, to use two examples. Most of the time the characters do what you tell them to do, but certain characters (particularly Naga and Amelia) will do their own thing from time to time.

The graphics are good in some parts, like the character portraits in the status screen:



The battle graphics are relatively good too.




There are also occasional cutscene style graphics.

 But the map sprites are really disappointing; they could have done a lot better with these.


The equipment system is pretty disappointing as well. There's no money from battles, only from chests, The equipment upgrades are fairly limited (and as usual you can't see the stats of items until you buy them.)  On the whole, the RPG elements are not as robust as they could be. The battles tend to be quite simple; you regain your MP whenever you level up so you can use spells a lot (which I always appreciate). The bosses are typically highly resistant to magic so you basically have to buff and heal for them. Resurrection, which heals 9999 HP and brings characters back to life costs only 10 MP so you rarely have to worry about a game over except in a few fights. By the end your party is three level 99 characters plus Lina, which makes the final battles quite easy.





 

The story gains some interest later in the game when you learn more about why Lina's memory is missing; it's nothing amazing but it's entertaining enough. Then once you beat the main game you get a short post-game storyline where you can choose any party, giving you a chance you use your favorite characters in the end part.

This game has a translation patch. It's definitely worth playing if you are a fan of the Slayers anime (or light novels); as an RPG it's somewhat lacking but it's a smooth playthrough and doesn't have anything that will frustrate you.

Next up is Sansara Naga 2.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Super Famicom Strategy RPGs

I wanted to remind everyone of my other blog on strategy RPGs and link all the Super Famicom SRPGs I've done so far. The Super Robot Wars entries are just a collection of message board posts I made many years ago when I was playing them, so they may not be as interesting.

I still have around 15 more Super Famicom SRPGs to go.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

PCE Game 34 - KO Seiki Sanjushi Revival of Gaia Kanketsuhen

KO Seiki Sanjushi Revival of Gaia Kanketsuhen (KO世紀ビースト三獣士〜ガイア復活 完結編〜)

Released 6/17/1994, Pack In Video

I've been in a bit of a slump with my playthroughs lately; the semester has been quite busy and I haven't had as much time to play. I'm having trouble with Bounty Sword on my other blog and proceeding slowly through Slayers for this one. This will be a fairly short post since I only played this game for a few hours. (I also hate the new Blogger interface)

This is yet another game based on anime, this time an OVA. There were two games based on it for computers; the name "kanketsuhen" sounds like this might be a compilation remake of the two games but I wasn't able to find enough information on it to be sure. Most of the anime-based games I've played so far have not been all that good; they tend to be unoriginal and dull, cashing in on the name value and putting in only a token effort to distinguish the game from any other RPG. I've played bad games based on anime (Fist of the North Star 5, 3x3 Eyes, Villgust), and just dull games (Ranma 1/2). This one is closer to the dull variety, although I suppose it's not noticeably worse than a lot of the other games that were coming out at the time.



Here's Wikipedia's description of the series' basis:

The series is set in the distant future in which the Earth is split in two. The southern hemisphere is placed in another dimension while the inhabitants of the northern hemisphere are able to morph into beast-like humanoids. Eventually the humans of the southern hemisphere, led by Uranus, attack the Beasts.

The Three Beasts, Wan Derbard (Wan Dabadadatta) of the Tiger Tribe, Bud Mint (Baado Mint) of the Bird Tribe, and Mei Mer (Mei Mah) of the Mermaid Tribe, are taken prisoner along with Mei Mer's companion Tuttle Millen (Mekka Mannen, also of the Mermaid tribe), but manage to escape thanks to a little girl named Yuuni Charm Password. Together they seek Gaia, which they believe to be a fabulous treasure, but they are pursued by Uranus's minions : V-Darn the vicious mage-knight, V-Sion the warrior woman, and Akumako, V-Darn's sadistic imp-like partner.

This is exactly how the game starts, so they must be following the original story pretty closely. The opening sequence is fairly long, and the voice work is sadly limited -- in the time I played I only saw two voiced sections, an opening cutscene narration, and one cutscene after that.


The battle system is fairly standard, but does have a "beast" option. This lets the characters (at least the three main ones) transform into their beast forms and do a powerful attack, at the cost of HP. They also get some sort of machine to allow them to cast magic with their BP, which I think stands for Battery Points. They can be recharged at stations here and there, although they were not common enough and I often had 0 BP -- the instruction booklet might have helped more here, but it took me a while to even figure out how to recover them. 


The characters escape their prison not only with the help of Yuuni, but with these beast god-type things that come from the home villages of the characters to fight them. So once they escape, the goal of the game comes to recover these beast gods and find out how to use their power to fight back against the humans. They first head to Wan's home village, where they learn that the beast associated with the village has still not returned. They head out to a nearby mountain where it has been spotted, and you fight lots of random encounters along the way.

We're joined by a human who seems to be some kind of prince in disguise; he found us after we escaped from the humans and crash landed with the beast gods. He's a nice addition because he can equip all the stuff whereas the beast main characters seem only able to equip a weapon and a piece of clothing.


The team does not find the beast god at the mountain, so they head on to the mermaid town where Mei Ma is from. Everyone has fled the town and gotten trapped in an underground area, and we need gunpowder to blow it up. Once we do that, there are still people trapped that need something more powerful than the gunpowder, and it's time to find this drill machine that should work.

This is where I stopped; I couldn't figure out where the next town was and this was a pretty run of the mill game of the kind I usually pass over quickly on the PCE. It's not a bad game and I think if you were a fan of the anime it would be fun, but there are better games on the PCE.

Next up will be another anime-based game, Slayers for the SFC.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

PCE Game 33 - Cosmic Fantasy 4

Cosmic Fantasy 4 (コズミック・ファンタジー4 銀河少年伝説突入編 伝説へのプレリュード)
Released 6/10/1994, produced by Telenet


This is the fourth and final game in the Cosmic Fantasy series for PC Engine. It's divided into two parts, one which starts the characters from CF1, and the second which stars the CF2 characters. I have not been a huge fan of the series so far, although I was hoping that for this final game they would improve things -- particularly the dullness of the battle system and the high random encounter rate.


The main characters are "Cosmic Hunters", people who go to various planets and solve problems. This game starts out with a section that seems like it's trying to be an adventure game. You can look at things, talk to people, search, and move.


Unfortunately this section is a waste of time. There are no puzzles, real choices, or even freedom of movement -- you just choose each option over and over again until the game lets you advance. Although it does introduce the characters and the basic plot, I don't see anything here that couldn't have been done with a normal RPG style. At least if they wanted to do this style gameplay they should have made it less tedious. As usual, there are a lot of fanservice scenes in the game.


Yuu and Saya are the pair from the first game. Their mission this time is to go to a planet and rescue a princess who has been captured. While Yuu goes after the princess, Saya will have to pretend to be the princess so that nobody notices she's gone.

Once this long opening scene is over, Yuu reaches the planet, and the game switches to the standard RPG mode. Yuu meets up with an old woman who is separated from her tour group, and decides to escort her to the capital -- there are a bunch of digressions and side quests along the way.



They actually did change the battle system a bit. That yellow bar fills up and then it's your turn, although you can wait a bit longer and the bar will start filling up green. I think the more green that fills it the stronger the attack is, but a full green attack is definitely stronger.

Yuu is by himself for this first part of the game. He has a lot of MP which are enough to heal and cure poison as much as needed, especially since a level up restores all HP and MP.


The first little quest is to turn humans in a village back from monsters; it turns out this monster at the top left did it because he was lonely, but in the end the villagers accept him and he can play with the village children.

Next up, we have to recover a healing grass from a dark cave.


Even though these kind of caves are an RPG staple, I've never really liked them. You have to blunder around in the dark passages and press random directions to find the hidden passages. At least there are no encounters.


Next up, the old woman gets kidnapped by thieves, and we have to rescue her. There are two boss fights here, the first against two of the underlings.



Then, we fight the leader. This fight took forever. Sometimes she switches into a defensive mode so you have to wait until she's out of that or she'll counter. I was never in danger of losing the fight because I had enough MP restore items, but it took a long time.

Then, Yuu reaches the capital. They won't let us in to the castle so Yuu has to sneak in with help from some people he is supposed to meet here (that the initial dialogue told us about).


Now I have a party of 4. I was glad to finally get some party members, until I got into a fight. Now we have 4 people's bars filling up. It's like the Final Fantasy ATB system, but there are two issues. In FF4, when someone's bar fills up it automatically switches to them. Here, you have to select them. This is fine, especially since there's the extra green bar and some characters you might want to leave ready (like a healer).

What is not fine is the enemy turns. Unlike FF4, this is a Dragon Quest like system where everyrthing is done through text boxes showing the hit and damage that you have to clear. I found that dealing with 4 enemies bring up text boxes while also trying to select characters and attacks (which bring up text boxes) was incredibly annoying. After suffering through two battles I was done -- presumably I would have gotten used to it after a while, but it was almost the end of the week anyway.

If you like the Cosmic Fantasy series, this is probably the best of the games (assuming the battle system becomes easier to manage after you get used to it). The random encounter rate seems lower, and there's more speech and CD music. But it's still not a great game.