Saturday, January 9, 2021

Game 55 - Kijin Korinden Oni

Kijin Korinden ONI (鬼神降臨伝ONI)
Released 8/5/1994, developed by Pandora Box and Winkysoft
 

 

This is the fifth game in the ONI series of RPGs. The first four were all for the Game Boy. After this game, there's one more GB game, one more SFC game, two Playstation games, and finally a DS game in 2007. The game developer, Pandora Box, has been in this blog before for Danzarb, and I'm about to play their PSX SRPG Sengoku Cyber on my other blog. They are also notorious for the PS2 game "48 (temporary)", a legendary kusoge.

From what I can tell, this is the first ONI game to take place in the real world. It's set at the beginning of the Kamakura period, when Minamoto no Yoritomo is the Shogun. The game opens with his brother Yoshitsune's death, but it seems that after that, his spirit has returned to get revenge on Yoritomo. The main character, Hokutomaru, is a foster child of Yoritomo, and he sets out with Yoritomo's son Yoritoo (who seems to be fictional) to defeat Yoshitsune's spirit.


 The game actually begins with Yoritomo's daughter being abducted by an evil spirit raised by Yoshitsune, and we have to head out to rescue her. The interface is clean and easy to use, and I hope we're entering a period of games where this kind of thing becomes standard -- the walking speed is fast, you can see the stats of equipment when you buy it, who can equip it, and whether it raises their stats or not. You get descriptions of what techniques do both in and out of battle. There's no annoying inventory limit, and the battles are a decent speed. 

Characters do not have experience levels. Instead they have levels and XP in four areas -- attack, defend, speed, and faith (magic). All four will level up as you fight things, but if you defend or use magic in battle, or run from battle, you can level those areas. I don't know whether this actually increases the total amount of XP you get in a battle or just divides it differently. 

Speed is the hardest one to emphasize because running from battle is done individual per character, it often fails, and you end up getting killed while trying to run. So if you're going to try you need a lot of healing. I never did figure out what causes your HP and MP to increase. I think it has something to do with either your total levels or maybe average level but I'm not sure.

The battle system is mostly standard, but the magic is done through getting kami to join the party, associated with different characters. You can then use spells from those kami, although most of them require a certain Faith level to use. Some kami give several spells, with stronger versions appearing as you gain Faith levels. Overall this is a nice system; the only problem is that virtually all of the kami are optional, meaning that you may miss important magic if you don't do a lot of backtracking or looking for out of the way places. This does mean there's a lot to do other than just going to the next plot location, but it's sometimes frustrating because you have to backtrack to places for no reason and with not many hints.

 

There is also another system involving five god weapons; each character is associated with one of them and when they get them, they can transform into yokai monsters. In that form they cannot use their spells but they have stronger attacks that are more effective against certain monsters. You can use the settings to decide whether they will start battles in their human or yokai forms.

We start out in Kamakura. The map is based on Japan, and a nice touch is that when you use the item or spell that warps you to different towns, you get a map of Japan.


Finally, there are NPCs you can get (to a limit of 8, I think). Some join automatically (like Naozane in the first town), others you have to pay money or give items to. One of the most useful is Zourin, who lets you run faster by holding down L or R. Others will heal you during battle or make attacks.



Saving Yoritomo's daughter takes us to the north of Japan, to an underground castle. Along the way there are some subevents and other things to do, many of which involve traditional Japanese yokai like onibaba (demon hag) or the like. We also get Hourin, a drunken priest, and a warrior Hitaka. Hitaka is looking for the god weapons so he can find the one that matches him. We do find one of the god weapons in the underground castle, but it's not Hitaka's -- it actually turns out to be Hokutomaru's.

When we return to Kamakura, Yoritomo now tells us that Yoshitsune is going to try to get the three sacred treasures -- the jewel, the sword, and the mirror. (These are the Imperial Regalia which were most recently presented at the current Emperor's enthronement, although there are doubts as to whether they are genuine. As this game indicates, they were all present at the battle of Dan no Ura at the end of the Genpei wars and may have been lost then.) Yoritomo himself has the jewel, and so he wants us to look for the Kusanagi Sword and the Yata Mirror so that Yoshitsune can't get them. The Mirror is in the capital (Heian), so that's where we head next.


It turns out the mirror was stolen by some ruffian children who also steal our money. They live in a squalid village outside the capital. They're actually all orphans, and two older girls look after them. When we convince them that we need the mirror, they return it and one of the girls, Akoya (I think), joins us.

At this point there are a whole bunch of optional places you can go to get various gods for your characters, but the next requirement is to visit Kuraiyama where a demon named Ryomensukuna (from Japanese legend) tells us where we can find the five God Swords. Supposedly if we can find them all, the way to the Kusanagi Sword will be revealed.




So this is the usual RPG trope of traveling the world looking for X number of objects. Hitaka rejoins us along the way which fills out the party to the full 5, of course all of our characters are the God Sword wielders. We have to go all over Japan, including up to the north and down to Shikoku and Kyushu (not Hokkaido though). Along the way we meet Benkei who has become a tengu, gain a lot more gods, and beat up a bunch of monsters. The main revelation in this part is that the main character is actually Yoshitsune's son. (This part is probably half the game's content)

Finally we have all 5 swords, and it's time to go to Dan no Ura to get the Kusanagi Sword. But it turns out that Ryomensukuna was deceiving us, and he now has the ghosts of the dead Heiki soldiers pull us (Genji descendants) down into the land of Yomi.



A mysterious voice helps us break free, and along the way we meet some helpful dead such as Tomoe Gozen. Eventually we learn that Yoritomo's goal is to kill all yokai, even the good ones, and that we need to stop him. After several areas we recover the Kusanagi Sword and use its power to escape Yomi. Now it's time for the final battles. First up is Yoshitsune, who is in a long dungeon in the NW of Japan. We also meet Ryomensukuna, who is apologetic -- he never intended for all of this to happen, although it's a little bit of a false apology I think. In any case he acts as a heal/save point.


Yoshitsune himself is not that hard; by this point it seems like I was quite strong and could handle the bosses. It turns out as Yoshitsune was dying, he was possessed and turned into a yokai by another monster, who wanted to use him for his own ends. Of course we kill him too. Yoshitsune, as he dies reveals that he was actually married to a yokai (so the main character is half-yokai) and he was killed by Yoritomo because he refused to participate in killing all of them.

Now with Yoshitsune gone, it's time to deal with Yoritomo. He's back in Kamakura in the small starting palace. There's also an optional super boss, but you have to have certain items before you do the Yoshitsune part since you can't leave Kamakura once that's done. So I was not able to try.

Yoritomo himself is not very hard, neither is his yokai form after that.

But after Yoritomo is beaten, it turns out that he himself was being controlled by Abihiko. He says that he is the god of the Genji (although Abihiko is a real mythological figure I don't see anything suggesting he was ever associated with the Genji).


And here we get a common thing in these RPGs -- the final boss is a huge leap up in difficulty. He has three parts. The main body does an all attack that did 2/3 of my character's HP, so I died very quickly. I tried 5 times, but it turned out that I just had to grind. Once I had done enough grinding I was able to first take out the right part (which heals) then the middle part (which has the devastating attack) and finally the last part.

After you beat Abihiko the palace crumbles. I wonder what percentage of JRPGs have the final dungeon crumble after the final boss and force the heroes to retreat. It's one of the most common tropes.


So overall this is a fairly decent game. It suffers from a few flaws common to these old games, primarily that the random encounter rate is too high. But it has a lot of Japanese mythology and history in it, there's some complexity to the system, and the interface is smooth and playable. I would definitely put this among the best games I've played so far.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Merry Christmas

 Merry Christmas to everyone who celebrates.

I'm playing games but won't have any updates until after New Year; expect Farland Story 2 on the other blog probably next weekend, and then back here for Kishin Korinden Oni.

Friday, December 18, 2020

Game 54 - Tenshi no Uta: Prayer of the White Wings

Tenshi no Uta: Prayer of the White Wings (天使の詩 白き翼の祈り)
Released 7/29/1994 by Telnet
 

 (I meant to schedule this for Sunday but I accidentally posted it instead, I'll just leave it up.)

This is the third (and last) game in the Tenshi no Uta series. I played the first two, which were for PC Engine. Some places (such as GameFAQs) incorrectly say this is a remake of the PC Engine game, which it is not. 

The first game took place in a fictionalized Britain, with Christianity explicitly replacing the pagan religions. The second game was a direct sequel and began in a different world but ended up in Britain again. This game is still a sequel to the first two but takes place many years later, entirely in another world, and has only a tenuous connection to the previous games. The plot it mostly a rehash of elements from the first two games.


 Of course this lacks the voiced cutscenes of the first two games, but they still tried to capture some of that feeling with cutscenes featuring pictures. I don't know why more games didn't do this.

The battle system is pretty standard AMID (Dragon Quest II style). The only innovation is a negotiation system. Before each battle, you can choose to talk to enemies instead of fighting them. They might get mad and attack you (usually with a free turn for them). Otherwise you can choose a language to speak to them in. At first you only have gestures, but you can learn other languages throughout the game. After that they still might get mad with the same result. The negotiation can also fail. But if it succeeds you can ask them for money, gold, items, or friendship. Any way it turns out you gain some negotation experience and if you at least tried to talk to them your friendship level with that monster goes up. Sometimes monsters will show up randomly in combats and attack the enemies if you're friends enough with them. This all makes the random encounters somewhat more interesting than normal.

 


The main character, Reyard, is the son of a blacksmith. One day he encounters a mysterious girl named Krana in the woods.



Soon, Krana is abducted by Rannell, the son of a local Duke. Reyard of course decides to go after her along with some friends. He meets up with Leon along the way, an expert swordsman who helps Reyard train. It turns out there's a resistance movement against Rannell. Reyard is able to join up with them and beat up Rannell, rescuing Krana. Now Rannell is sought out by demonic powers and becomes a demon.

 
The next part of the game is just running away from the Duke's men while we encounter various characters and enemies. There's another Kurisu:

 
Kurisu always seems to be a girl's name in JRPGs.


Eventually we meet the angel Raphael, who reveals that Krana is an angel that was sent to the world to judge humanity. This is the same story as Tenshi no Uta II except that in that game the heavenly powers were going to destroy the world. Here they're just going to leave it undefended so the demonic powers can take it over. But Krana judges that there are a lot of good humans, and so Raphael pulls back and lets Krana join the attempt to defeat the demons. This begins with beating Bern, who is actually Belial.

After that, one of Lucifer's main generals comes in and turns Krana to stone. In order to turn her back, we have to go to the underworld and beat the generals and Lucifer himself. This requires getting five different elemental symbols, so it's time for the usual world-spanning fetch quest.


For the rest of the game your party is Leon, Reyard, and Revi and Sophia -- these are two friends of Leon. Revi is supposed to be a wizard type character but I didn't find attack magic very useful in this game, so he's not all that useful. Sophia is the healer. Leon and Reyard are the front line attackers and tanks.

One odd aspect of this game is that at certain points, you are just awarded bonus levels (4-6 levels, but it may depend on how much grinding you did). Overall the difficulty level is not high, but there are parts where the enemies hit hard and it's tough to run away from them. There were one or two dungeons where I got a bunch of game overs,  but by the end of the game it's not too hard.

Once we get the five symbols, we're in the last stage of the game. The three Lucifer generals are in a long cave leading down to the underworld.


By this time I did not find the game very difficult. Sophia heals, everyone else attacks, and a few buff spells make it pretty easy.

Lucifer is at the bottom in the underworld. 

 
Once defeated, Krana is able to convince him to abandon his hatred for humanity and join you (as a summon monster). Now all that's left is Satan.

 
Satan was also the boss in the previous games. I didn't find him that difficult.

 
After he's beaten, Krana learns that her parents are Kearu and Claire (from the first Tenshi no Uta game). They come to take her back to heaven, but she decides to live as a human and marry Rayard.



This is not a bad game at all. It's no masterpiece but it's definitely worth a play, especially with the patch. The lack of voice acting is unfortunate compared to the first games but I thought this was a more fun game to play. The story isn't as interesting because it lacks the real-world Britain of the first games and the idea of the conflict between Christianity and the pagan religions. Instead this is just a normal RPG world with demon names taken from Christianity. I think if we could have Tenshi no Uta II with the SNES game's system that would be the best of both worlds.

PCE Game 35 - Dragon Knight III (short post)

So I was going to make a short post about this game but I'm not sure I could add anything to the Hardcore Gaming 101 coverage of it, and CRPG Addict's series on Knights of Xentar (the English localization). The game is not really worth playing.

The main mystery surrounding this game is why Megatech Software decided to make the changes they did in the localization. In the original DK3, Takeru comes to a town during his journey with no real goal, and thieves accost him. He normally doesn't like to draw his sword against humans so they're able to beat him up and take his stuff. In the English localization, he stumbles into town drunk, and the same thing happens. In DK3, he goes to beat up bandits to get his stuff back and figures out that the leader is actually a demon. In KoX, there's this bizarre dialogue about the bandits coming to the town and impregnating women with "demon seed". Desmond (the KoX main character) smells really bad and has a tiny penis, neither of which is in DK3.

So why did they do this? My only guess is this. They were trying to introduce the world of Japanese eroge to western players who were totally unfamiliar with it. Perhaps they felt that they needed to make it more crassly comic and insulting to make it less creepy or offputting to an audience who might not have reacted well to a cartoon porn game that took itself (fairly) seriously. But I really don't know. I also wondered if the localizers themselves found the game creepy and were taking a kind of revenge by translating it this way.

There are two more Dragon Knight games that I will be playing -- I will at least start the Dragon Knight 1 remake for PCE which is still another year or so away. Dragon Knight IV is an SRPG that was released for SNES, Playstation, and PC-FX (the followup to the PC Engine). I'll be playing the Playstation version (which seems to be the most polished remake) on my other blog relatively soon.

I've already finished Tenshi no Uta so that post should come out this weekend.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Game 53 - Sword World SFC 2

Sword World SFC 2 (ソード・ワールドSFC2)
Released 7/15/1994, T&E Soft
 
 
 
This game is a followup to Sword World SFC, a game based on a popular tabletop RPG in Japan. The game is still going in Japan, with 2.0 released in 2008 and 2.5 in 2018. It seems that in successive versions they have abandoned the more realistic (D&D based?) art of the original and gone with a contemporary anime art style. But this SNES game is still based on the original version.

The system and the way the game works is nearly identical to the first game, so please review my post on that game. The only major change is that you can now level your classes up to 10 instead of 5. There are also more missions than the first game, and there is more story. The game shares the same flaws as the first game, but I liked it in spite of that -- the game was clearly created by people who were familiar with playing tabletop RPGs, and each mission feels like an abstracted tabletop gaming session. In my experience, only Pool of Radiance shares that quality, and I would say that in some ways these two Sword World games feel even more tabletop-like than the AD&D Gold Box ones. (However, I think that this game goes further towards standard video game RPG elements than the first game did.)

As in the first game you start out creating a character. This time I went with a Dwarf Fighter-Priest. One visual change in this game is that you have the option to see the dice rolling for everything. This slows down the game a lot and I did not enable it, but I think that if you knew the actual SW tabletop rules this would be a useful option. Although I don't know how authentic it is; if you had the SW rulebook could you actually know exactly what die roll you were aiming for? The game itself does not tell you.

 

You can then go around the Inn and recruit some characters. I went with these:

  • Cynthia, a human with Sorcerer 2 and Sage 2.
  • Materia, a half-elf with Thief 3 and Shaman 2.
  • Salem, a human with Sorcerer 2, Priest 2, and Sage 1
I had initially taken another fighter but the enemies on the first mission are almost impossible to hit for some reason, so magic is necessary. You also quickly get Arveil, who apparently is from one of the supplemental books for SW. He's a fighter and stays with you the rest of the game. 

The first mission is to discover what's going on in the tombs underneath the city. As I said, these missions feel like the way we would play D&D as kids -- you get some kind of mission, have to gather information, then explore a dungeon and do some fights and find treasure. Some of the missions don't involve much (or any) fighting.

For some reason this first mission is quite difficult; as I said above the enemies can barely be hit by the fighters so you have to rely on magic. The characters' MP is not very important because you just buy Magic Stones that can be used as MP.
 
Once you complete this quest, Arveil is called by the King. He used to be a knight but had his title stripped; he can gain it back by doing this task -- go to the western town of Palmia and borrow a secret document they have, and return it to the king. The game from this point basically divides into two parts. The journey to Palmia takes you through a number of cities or towns. Each one has additional missions, some of them you can skip and some you have to do.


Along the way we start picking up bits of information about the giants. They seem to be attacking humans more than usual. They're upset about this great road that was made connecting all the cities -- while it increased the trade and prosperity of the human cities, it also caused the humans to encroach onto the giants' lands and start to kill them and rob their things. At one point we befriend a captive giant who has been made to fight in an arena. The ruler of the city was going to use poison and other means to make sure he lost, but we also enter the tournament and ensure that we win, requesting that the giant gets freed in return.



A lot of the other missions are small, side-quest type things like protecting sheep from wolves, finding herbs to cure sick people, etc. In this first part of the game, Sleep Cloud is by far the most useful spell. It has a huge range and puts most enemies to sleep, allowing the fighters to pick them off. 

This game shares the problem of the last one in that you don't feel like your guys are getting stronger. This is partly because the numbers are all hidden -- there's no in game indication at all of what it does to level up from Fighter 2 to Fighter 3. The instruction manual for the original game did not specify, and I suppose you would have to look at the TRPG rulebook to find out.

My main party was Arveil and Kurisu who were focusing on fighters (I leveled up Kurisu's priest ability until he could use Cure Disease since that seems to be the only way to heal it), and one Sorcerer and Shaman. 


Eventually we reach Palmia and recover the secret document, which turns out to be the method by which the Great Road was constructed -- the King wants to construct another one apparently. But before we can head back to the King, the giant problem becomes more acute. It turns out that one of the giants is going to do a ritual involving human blood that will result in the resurrection of a god. I was somewhat disappointed by this because it seems like this is where the game goes back into standard JRPG territory. That's not to say that D&D games never involved this kind of story, but they could have gone with something else.

 
First we have to be allowed by this wise old giant to go in and stop the ritual. After this is the final dungeon, and this is also very JRPG like -- you have to find 4 orbs and use them in the right rooms to unlock doors and move on.


The final boss has two forms (JRPG again) and it's a rather annoying fight because he can only be hurt by three things -- a special sword you get, one spell, and an item that casts that spell. I got basically no use out of the spell so it was just up to the sword, meaning that there was some luck in whether the boss chose to attack the sword guy or not.

Once we win, the people at Palmia warn us that the King may want the road building document to build a new road to the east in preparation for new wars and conquests, just as they did against the giants before. But there's no choice; we return the document, Arveil becomes a knight again, and the game ends. Now there is one other ending if you take a different choice earlier in the game; maybe in that case you don't give the document to the king?

Overall I enjoyed this game as much as I did the first one. The story is much better, but I wish they had not gone with the JRPG-style conclusion. I think this would be even more enjoyable if you actually understood the Sword World system, but it's playable even if you don't.
 

This seems to have been the last of the Sword World based RPGs. There are some mobile games that I can't find any information about, and then in the 2000s there were several games based on Sword World 2.0, but I'm not sure any of them are RPGs. There was a DS game but it seems to be a choose your own adventure style game (maybe more like the Lone Wolf books if anyone remembers those).

Next up is Dragon Knight III but I'm only going to be making a short post on that; I've already started Tenshi no Uta (which has a patch).

Friday, December 11, 2020

Doing more with this blog

I got a comment from an anonymous user that aligned with something I had been thinking for a while -- the progress on this blog has slowed down too much because of the SRPG blog. I want to do both projects, but I think doing a 1-to-1 alternation is naturally prioritizing the other blog because the SRPGs tend to be longer. Lately I haven't even been averaging one game a month on this blog, which is far too slow.

I have two possible fixes for this -- one is to do 2-to-1 favoring this blog unless the SRPG is very short (like Tenchi Muyo! I just did which only took me 4 days). The second is to play SRPGs and the SNES RPGs at the same time so that I always have a post to make here each weekend. This might be a better option although I have never liked playing multiple RPGs at once. Or if readers have any other ideas?

Tomorrow or Sunday I will have a new update with Sword World SFC 2 and I have started Tenshi no Uta so I will have updates here for the next few weekends and hopefully I can go more quickly here in the future.

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.