Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Game 28 - Moryo Senki MADARA 2 Review

Overall I would rate this game as below average, unfortunately. I know I'm putting a lot of games in this category -- I hope things will improve but maybe at the end of this I'll find out that I just don't like SFC RPGs as much as I thought I did!

I'm also considering switching to the review style I'm using on my other blog, but for now I'll stick to this.

Story/Characters: Both typical for this era. Characters have a minor backstory with a slight amount of development, but once that's done they hardly exist in the plot. Compared to the general quality of plots I've seen in all the games I've played so far this one is decent, but it's never going to stand with the greats of the genre.
World: The Madara world is basic fantasy; there are a bunch of different kingdoms and lands but for the most part there's not much difference between them. 
Game Flow: Because of the lack of control over the system, there are a number of choke points where it's hard to advance without grinding. There are also a fair number of times when it's hard to know what you're supposed to do next -- usually you can just explore around and you'll find something to do, though.

System: The battle system is disappointing. You mostly just watch things happen, and you have less control over what happens than you would even have in the standard "mash attack" system. Magic costs too much MP so you can't use it very often, although at least everyone can attack effectively.

Side Quests/Optional Content: Evidently a lot of the characters and events are optional, but I don't know how much content this equals in total. It's often hard to tell if you're on a sidequest or a main quest

Interface: Overall we're fine by this point -- none of the common irritants I've complained about in the past are in this game. The one head-scratcher is the way they implemented magic. As I said, there's nothing inherently wrong with choosing a spell, then who casts it, then the target. But it's not like any other RPG and I never got used to it.

Graphics/Sound: As one commenter pointed out, the graphics are pretty washed out and hard to see. The character designs make everyone look like 1980s punk rockers.

I finished Lady Phantom today (for the other blog) so I'll be back on Saturday with the first Bazoo! post. Actually consider this the Saturday post; I'm going to work on the Lady Phantom updates instead and post Bazoo! next Saturday.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Game 28 - Moryo Senki MADARA 2 Part 4 (Finished)

Kurisu and the team of heroes has defeated Dakini, an avatar of Miroku. Dakini declares that he'll get revenge by sending the heroes to their death, but for some reason this just makes Kurisu wake up back on Earth (they never really explain this). Subaru finds him and they head back to the other world again, finding themselves near the village where the game started. Subaru is now an official party member.
Back in the other world, we find Sakuya at a shrine that was formerly empty. She tells us Miroku is still planning something and tells us to go to Mugenkyo, where Miroku is. Along the way we beat Kanhoryuki again, and then meet Jato, the rabbit mouki who has been annoying us.
Apparently Jato's real goal was to steal the sword from us and oppose Miroku himself, thus avoiding being just a puppet. You can choose to fight him or not; I let him run away.

In the Mugenkyo we have to defeat three bosses in three towers to open the way to Miroku's tower; they're all bosses that we faced before and none of them are especially hard. So now only the final dungeon is left.
Miroku reveals his plan (of course) before killing us -- he wants to break out of this cycle that Sakuya and Madara trapped him in, and hopes that if he gets all the Madara avatars together (i.e. our party) he can use our power combined to create a new world where he will rule alone.
Miroku is relatively difficult but I just kept casting spells and using the White Soma (heal everything) and eventually he went down. Of course we haven't beaten him, he'll be back in billions of years to threaten Earth again, blah blah blah.
I guess it's actually 5,600,070,000 years?
Kurisu and Subaru are returned to the surface, wondering if they dreamed it, but they think it was real. There's a slight bit on what the other characters do as well.
So that's Madara 2. I'll do the full review in a week but it was a disappointing game for me; not terrible, but the innovations they tried don't really work, and with washed out art and a boring battle system it can be a slog.

Next up will be Bazoo! Mahou no Sekai, but remember to check out Lady Phantom (a PCE game) on my other blog.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Game 28 - Moryo Senki MADARA 2 Part 3

I didn't get as much time to play as I thought this week so I'm not quite finished. But the last post and the review will give me a buffer of a couple of weeks while I play Lady Phantom on the other blog.

I complained about the battle system last time; one additional complaint I have is that the spells are too slow. The battles move quickly for the most part, until you or an enemy cast a spell -- then it pauses for a while, shows an animation for each person that gets affected, then shows the damage individually for each character. It's far too slow given what they're trying to make the battle system to be.

Tablet 3

I am now starting to find the best equipment for some people -- this seems early, but each character has one particular equipment that boosts their attack or defense much more than anyone else who equips the stuff.

We're off to Fasie kingdom in the southwest, where the king seems to have been charmed by a priest of some cult, which is causing all kinds of strife around the kingdom.
We meet a girl at the bar named Marf, who is a treasure hunter that wants to go out to the ruins, but when we follow her out there she gets trapped by an earthquake. It turns out she is actually the princess of the kingdom, so it's imperative to save her -- fortunately there's a secret route into the ruins. We have to fight this mouki named Kanhoryuki again, but he's not very hard. In general the bosses in this game are not especially difficult, with some notable exceptions. They tend to have very low HP, in some cases almost the same HP as the grunts in the same dungeon. On the other hand, the damage the bosses do can be very high. You can be in a situation where the grunt enemies do 3-5 damage and the bosses do 600.

The main purpose of these ruins turns out not to be a tablet, but just an old etching that tells us some back story of the world -- Madara, Miroku, and Sakuya are three beings from outer space that fought a huge war, but then they agreed to cooperate to destroy, help, and rebirth the world in a cycle. Of course Miroku has ignored that and wants the power for himself.

Incidentally I'm also learning that a lot of the stuff in this game is optional; you don't have to get all of the people on your team or do stuff like this to win the game.
We still have to solve the issue of this evil priest. Next up we continue to an area with a magic school (finally a shop to buy magic; there aren't many of these in the game).  We're looking for a guy named Zaras but he is shut up in an observatory with Mouki. Once he's saved, and we beat a mouki that was hiding in the magic school, it's back to Fasie. Now that Zaras trusts us, we can borrow priest clothing from a guy in a monastery, and then sneak into the church. Unfortunately Daharka (the evil priest) recognizes us immediately and throws us into the Valley of the Dead. He hopes we'll die there.
But the enemies are just what we've been facing before so it's not that hard to escape, and then beat Daharka. Unfortunately this doesn't give us a tablet, so I don't know what the point was -- off to a desert town in the south where we finally do find the third tablet held by a mouki. I'm not sure if some even in the Daharka sequence was necessary to get this to happen, but there's no obvious story connection between the two.

Tablet 4

Next we head to Yamahiko town to supposedly learn why Madara is destroying the world although I'm not sure we ever do learn that -- instead we meet a guy named Koga Saburou who wants us to add a guy named Basara to our team. I didn't follow this part of the story completely but for some reason Koga burns down the town in order to have Basara escape his destiny of destroying things, however that works.

We then have to deal with Bunkan in the nearby capital, who is using a fake Emperor Dakini to rule the destroyed Cosara Kingdom. We'll have to wait until near the end to deal with Dakini, but now at least we can dispatch Bunkan, and then Koga lets himself die in order to free Basara from his fate -- once again, I'm not sure exactly what was going on there.
The last tablet is in the basement of Rasen Castle in the north, but the tablet will not let us take it without proving ourselves. To do that we have to beat the Mouki that are being used by a rival army. We do so, but it turns out we were just a decoy while the main force destroyed the rival army's castle -- oh well, at least we get the last tablet.

Tablet 5

Finally we can return all the way to Jofuku who initially sent us on this quest, and he reminds us that the 5th tablet is north of the Great Wall. The 4 tablets so far open the Great Wall, and we proceed to the north.

In the north we have to seek out the camp of the Mukuri tribe, which changes based on the "season" -- instead of day and night, this has four seasons, but it's basically the same thing and doesn't affect the game most of the time. At the camp, the last party member, Chaos, joins us. He leads us to the labyrinth where we find the final tablet. Now at least Kurisu can get to Yuiman to find Subaru.

The passage to Yuiman is in the Castle at the End of the World, where we use the 5 tablets. A fake castle is set up by Kanhoryuki who we fight yet again, but upon beating him, the way to Yuiman is open. Of course that rabbit mouki Jato tries to run up and get to Yuiman, but we finally manage to block him rather than just letting him do whatever.


Sakuya is waiting for Kurisu in Yuiman. Subaru is there also, but only her spirit. Her body is still with Emperor Dakini. To get to Dakini, there's another multi-fetch quest, this time to get the Yato Mirror, the Nisakani Jewel, and the Kusanagi Sword. The first two are in Yuiman, but the Kunasagi Sword is in a part of Yawato Kingdom (in the overworld) that we never got to. This is accessed by a cave north of Sakuya's town.

Wait a minute -- we spent over 50% of the game getting tablets to open up Yuiman, and all that time there was a passage there in Yawato that just had one dude guarding it (who probably would have let us past since he works for Sakuya). Why did the designers do that?
Anyway, once the three treasures are recovered we can finally return to Kosara Kingdom and beat Dakini. The first time I fought him, I thought it was an auto-lose story battle because he killed everyone except Kurisu in one hit. But no, this is actually what you have to fight.
His HP are rather low like most of the bosses, so it's mostly a matter of casting spells really quickly and hoping he attacks Kurisu, who can be healed. As you can see two of my guys died but I did manage to beat him.

Of course Dakini is just an avatar of Miroku so the game's not over yet -- there's only about 10% of the game left but I'll cover it in the last post.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Game 28 - Moryo Senki MADARA 2 Part 2

I'm not a big fan of Madara's battle system. As I understand it, it's similar (or exactly the same?) as the one in Madara 1. It's a real time system where your characters and the enemies run around on a battlefield, reminiscent of Star Ocean. But you have no real options in combat. You can select a target, or use magic or items. You can't tell a wounded character to run away from the enemies, all you can do is watch them run in to get hit again and hope someone can get a heal spell off. You can't have a character stay away from the enemies to cast spells. You can't directly control anyone, or give them any direction. It becomes frustrating because too often you're watching the characters do dumb stuff and there's nothing you can do. This may also be why I've had to do more grinding in this game than in any game I've played up to now except Hokuto no Ken 5. When you give the player strong enemies and virtually no strategic options, grinding is the only way to progress in the game.

Now Kurisu has set out to find Subaru as the chosen hero. After solving the problem in the first area he's able to pass the barrier to the next kingdom, where there are several towns that have their own problems with the Mouki monsters, and the capital that doesn't want anything to do with you.

This includes a village who can't fish because a mouki has taken over the lighthouse, and a mine that can't mine anything because of Mouki. Both of these problems are fairly easy to solve, and along the way a wounded man named Seishinja joins the party. He can use healing spells. The fishing village allows you to deliver fish to the capital and then get the cook Fuyou to join you; she has also lost her memory.
Once Kurisu deals with the mine the guards are willing to let us past so we can talk to the sage Tataru and the king of the land. They want us to find a sword that was taken from the kingdom, and Tataru will try to find Subaru's whereabouts while we're gone. Jato (the rabbit enemy) is the one who stole the sword -- apparently he is looking for the way to the Yuiman Kingdom, where Sakuya-hime is.
This requires a trip to a village where they take a turtle to an island, and meet some mermaids. After solving the mermaids' Mouki problem (everyone has one!) they recover the sword and return to the capital.

Tataru tells us that Subaru seems to be in Yuiman, but that he also detects something like Subaru from a tower to the north. So of course we head there and it turns out that her blood is being used to bring back Emperor Dakini, an avatar of Miroku. We beat the priest but the ritual still succeeds, and Dakini seems to come back in a spiritual form, but not complete. This also somehow destroys the entire kingdom, so all the towns and castles are rubble. I guess it's time to move on to the next kingdom, then. Tataru did make it through, and he suggests that in Roran Kingdom we may be able to get information about Yuiman from another sage.
This other sage gives us the usual "mid-game overarching fetch quest" -- we have to find 5 stone tablets that will open the way to Yuiman. And we better do it fast because Dakini is building power.

Tablet 1

The first tablet is in a cave. A nearby town is having earthquake problems, but beating the nearby Mouki doesn't help. It turns out that actually it was the tablet's spirit itself that was causing the earthquakes to alert humans to the danger (huh!?)

Only a true hero can take the tablet, but that's Kurisu, of course.

Tablet 2

There are three small kingdoms at the south of the continent that are ruled by siblings. The brothers have started wars against each other and Mouki have invaded the sister's kingdom. But they do have a stone tablet in the mausoleum if all three siblings use their keys to open it -- so it's time to solve the problem here. The sister (Bibishii) gives us a letter to let us in to the other kingdoms. One brother won't meet us anyway, but the second is actually a Mouki. I had to do some grinding to beat him, but eventually I was able to.
It turns out that this king, Madara, was captured by a small island kingdom to the south with the help of Jato, and this Mouki replaced him. So we head down there and rescue Madara, who then decides to join us. There's an interesting fight then against one of Jato's monsters, but even if you lose, the game continues. Jato had been controlling the king of this small island kingdom but one of his underlings breaks the mind control. This solves all the problems, and with the 3 keys united, we're able to go into the catacombs and get the second tablet. Madara also joins the party.

That's all I've done for now -- 3 tablets left.

One final annoyance -- the way you cast magic is to first choose the spell, then who casts it. In theory there's nothing wrong with this but it's the opposite of every other RPG and I'm not sure I'll ever get used to it.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Game 28 - Moryo Senki MADARA 2

Moryo Senki MADARA 2 (魍魎戦記MADARA2)
Released 7/16/1993, published by Konami

There have been a lot of "2" games on this blog -- Jungle Wars 2, Metal Max 2, and Silva Saga 2, with Seiken Densetsu 2 coming up in a bit. This game is part of a large franchise called the "MADARA project" that involves manga and video games on several platforms, and other media. The original game is for Famicom and has a translation by Aeon Genesis -- they are supposedly working on this one as well but as of yet there is no patch.

I haven't made a lot of progress but I thought I would make an update anyway, to at least introduce the game. The opening has an old warrior coming to a shrine of some sort.
The forces of Miroku are ravaging the world, and there's not much left they can do. But a woman appears from the flames.
She assures the warrior that there are chosen ones who will soon be coming to fight against Miroku.
That's our main character, a punk rocker. In the manual his name is Han, but if a default name is not provided in the game I use Kurisu instead.
Kurisu meets his friend Subaru outside his house, and she drags him along after school to a seemingly haunted house nearby. She's a budding journalist. Of course there we fight monsters, which are called "Mouki" in this game.

The combat system is automatic. The enemies and characters move around the screen and attack. You can pause the action to select targets (although it's a little clumsy) or cast spells, or use items. But mostly you just watch everyone attack each other. I suppose this is a step up from just mashing the A button, but if the designers are going to automate everything maybe they should stop and think whether they can increase the strategic options of combat so that it's not just mashing A. Visually the combat reminds me of something like Star Ocean, but you can't directly control any of the characters. You can set a HP percentage for each character where the combat will automatically stop so you can heal them. It's a smooth system but once again, it does seem a little odd just to watch everything happen.
Inside the mansion we find monsters, but also books that mention previous fights against Miroku by heroes long dead (Madara and Kirin, and their descendants). I don't know if these are references to the previous game or just lore for the series as a whole.
There's a boss Bishogau, who seems to recognized Kurisu and Subaru. It's not especially hard, although I was worried about running out of heal items -- I couldn't find any way to rest. There's a broken sword on the second floor that increases Kurisu's attack a little bit. But Bishogau went down, and we received a mysterious pendant that's just like the one Subaru has.

At the bottom of the house, Kirin and Madara appear in illusionary form -- apparently Kurisu and Subaru are their descendants and its now their turn to beat Miroku (how original). We need to find Sakuya-hime first, though. Kurisu is not interested at all, but this does fit with what Subaru has read in old documents her grandfather had. She wants to go to a shrine the next day nearby that is related to Sakuya-hime.
Kurisu's house
The next day, Kurisu can't find Subaru, and so goes to the shrine on his own. Subaru is waiting there for him, but once they get into the shrine it turns out she's an imposter who turns on him and attacks along with another Mouki. But Kurisu is able to kick them both to death.

The enemies had another pendant -- now that Kurisu has three pendants, Sakuya-hime appears and takes him to the other world where he will fight Miroku, although he's only interested in saving Subaru, who has been taken to the world by Miroku's agents. Sakuya-hime takes him along through a dimensional portal but Miroku attacks along the way, dropping Kurisu into a forest, where a man named Kara finds him and takes him back to his house. His wife Saria takes care of him. It turns out that Kara is also from another world (perhaps Earth?) but has lost his memory. Kurisu heads out to a nearby village to ask the chief if he knows anything about Subaru.
But the chief is unwilling to talk to any outsiders, at least while the Mouki are ravaging the countryside. So we go to a nearby tower to beat the monsters there. They completely kicked my butt at first and I had to grind quite a few levels to survive the tower. I hope this isn't a pattern throughout the game.

Once the tower boss is gone, the chief is willing to talk to us but really doesn't know much. There's a Sakuya-hime shrine nearby but it's empty -- he suggests talking to an old sage in a cave to the north. Unfortunately the cave is under attack by a rabbit-like creature named Jato. Jato sics his minion on us.

But we manage to clear out his minion, and Jato runs away. The chief tells Kara that in his passage to this world he was separated from his dark side, leaving only the light side behind. He sends Kara out to fight his dark side and reunite his two parts -- Kurisu will meet him again, but possibly as an enemy. Now the sage tells Kurisu again he's a chosen warrior blah blah, and sends him off to the next kingdom over to look for Subaru.

That's all I played -- it's a small part of the game but it's an OK game so far. I hope the battles will be more interesting when I get more people and some magic.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

The future of this blog

I am now officially caught up with the PCE games, so this blog will return to being mostly SFC games with an occasional PCE intruder. The PCE library continues pretty regularly through 1994 but then drops to just a handful of games in 1995 and a single game in 1996.

Now that I'm caught up here and doing my new blog (This Map is Completed!), here are a few notes about this blog going forward.
  • At one time I had mentioned playing PSX and Saturn games. I'm no longer going to do this. It's possible I might do a one-off when I get to 1995 just to see what the competitors were doing, but that's it.
  • I've had a buffer, but since I'm switching back and forth between the two blogs, it's unlikely I will keep the "every Saturday" update schedule here. If there's no update here on Saturday, it's because I'm updating the other blog. (Langrisser is taking me longer than I thought it would, so it's unlikely there will be an update here on Saturday.)
  • I am no longer going to do strategy RPGs on this blog. Instead, when I get to an SRPG, I will link to the other blog or put a placeholder here for later.
At the rate I'm going this is still probably a 10 year project so we'll see if I'm still around in 2028 to finish Thracia 776.

Friday, August 17, 2018

PCE Game 22 - Tengai Makyo Fuun Kabuki-den

Tengai Makyo Fuun Kabuki-den (天外魔境 風雲カブキ伝)
Released 7/10/1993, published by Hudson

Here we are with another Tengai Makyo game. It came out just one year after TM2, and stars Kabuki Danjuro, one of the characters from that game. It has a lot of returning characters from both of the previous TM games, so if you're a big Tengai Makyo fan I imagine this is a great game. For me, it's not. The gameplay has not changed at all, so this is still basically a system from 1989, which is showing its age in 1993 compared to other games on both the Super Famicom and the PC Engine. The irritating inventory limit (one of the most severe of any game I've played so far) is still around, and the combat is still pretty basic. They changed the look of the combat to a side-view FF4 style, but this doesn't change the system at all. It also doesn't help that I find characters like Kabuki annoying, and so I'm not especially keen to play a game where he's yelling at me the whole time.

As with the previous games, this game has a lot of cutscenes, voice work, and good music. It opens with Kabuki acting in a performance, saving some women.
Later that night, Orochimaru (from TM1) sends a letter asking Kabuki for help, and then visits him in person. Apparently the Daimonkyo from the first game are back, and Orochimaru wants Kabuki's help in defeating them.
Kabuki refuses, until that night when all the women in Kyoto disappear. Now he's interested, and vows to get them back and defeat the Daimonkyo again. The first task is to break into Joko's mansion; he has usurped the rich Tycoon's seat (from the first game) and allied with Daimonkyo.
A combat
Eventually Kabuki makes it into the mansion and fights Golden Gambie. Once Kabuki beats him, Gambie loses interest in serving Joko and leaves...causing Joko immediately to surrender.

Now on the way to the next place, I got three game overs from random encounters, and that was as much as I wanted to play the game. The second half of the game is in London, which sounds interesting, but I just don't like the game system enough to play it more. If you liked the first two games and are fine playing the same thing again you'll enjoy this. 

Tengai Makyo will next appear on this blog in quite a while when I get to Tengai Makyo Zero in late 1995. It will be interesting to see how a franchise that banks so much on the presentation will handle the shift to the Super Famicom, and whether they'll finally update the game system.

I am now caught up to the SFC games! This game will return to being mostly Super Famicom from here on out. I'll make a post in a few days about how things will go.

(Actually I noticed that the next game on the list would be Langrisser for PC Engine, which I am playing on my other blog strategyrpgs.blogspot.com -- an interesting coincidence!)