Saturday, September 28, 2019

Game 39 - Wondrous Magic wrap-up

The main thing that stands out about this game is the real-time battle system. While this does set the game apart from the other cookie-cutter games coming out around the same time, it has some problems. It tends to be very hard to tell what's happening in the battle, especially since you have 3 AI-controlled units and then enemies on all sides. It's difficult to know who is hitting you, who is causing the poison, etc. Healing can also be tricky. The controls for using magic and items are unintuitive and I felt like I never really got used to it.

Maybe this is why so many games fall back on the cookie cutter AMID system -- it's not great, but at least the designers and players know what to expect and it's not very risky.

The story sequences have good artwork to go along with them. I wish a lot more games did this rather than just sticking with the sprites. It gives you a lot more feel for what the characters look like. The rest of the graphics are fairly decent as well.

The game requires too much grinding for my taste. Most of it can be done while exploring the areas, but especially at the end, I had to grind quite a bit to finish the game.

Overall the game is somewhat worth playing. Here's my ranking system again:

A - These games were truly enjoyable, I had fun playing them just as games, not for the blog.

B - These games were average. I found them boring at times, and it was mostly the fulfillment of completing the game for the blog that carried me through. My overall experience with the game wasn't terrible, it's just not a game I would have finished all the way through for fun.

C - These games were painful to finish, to the point where I wanted to give up despite the blog, and had to force myself to play through (sometimes using cheats) just to move on to the next game.

I would give this game a B or maybe a B+.

Next up is the PC Engine version of Ys IV, a game I've wanted to play for a long time. I'm currently playing a real-time strategy RPG for the Super Famicom on my other blog, Hiouden: Pact With the Monsters.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Game 39 - Wondrous Magic (Finished)

I finally succeeded in getting what I needed in the ruined town. At the bottom, we find Kurisu's father, but he's dying. He was trying to stop Irion from reviving the evil god Ivas, but he dies. He does give us the item we need to kill the vampire, though.



The next dungeon is harder because you can't warp out of it, so you have to be a lot more cautious in exploration. I had to move up a few levels while exploring until I reached the vampire lord.


He's tough; he separates into bats and then poisons us. Kurisu mostly had to do healing duty, but eventually I won. Now we have the last part of the staff we need to revive the goddess.

Time to do the ritual!

But no, Irion comes in and destroys the staff, also hurting Kurisu.


Now the remaining members have to go out and find a way to restore Kurisu, which actually just involves repairing the staff. The Dwarves send us on a few fetch quests to do this, one of which involves going to a Hobbit village (the Tolkien lawyers can't read Japanese). One of the Hobbits wants a lottery ticket; you can't solve this subquest until very late in the game and all it does is give you an item that increases your XP by 1 when you use it.

So let's just take the staff, go back and restore Kurisu, and continue on. Now that we have the staff, we can finally bring the goddess Shurel down.


  Unfortunately she doesn't have much power, so all she can tell us is go seek out the Elves to fully restore the power of the staff. This involves going to an island, with the help of mermaids.


The mermaid sends us on a fetch quest for a flute to calm the seas so that we can go out on a ship. The tower isn't too tough, but once we go out in the ship there's a hard octopus boss. I had to level a bit to beat him, but finally we're to the island. The island holds an illusionary garden where only magic users can go, so we lose Soldick for a while in favor of a useless elf. This dungeon also required a lot of grinding and leaving the dungeon.



Eventually, though, we recover the power of the staff, and it's time to head to the final dungeons to defeat Irion and prevent the evil god from returning.

At this point I used a cheat code to level a bit because it was clear that I was going to have to do at least 10-15 levels of grinding to beat the game. There's an optional dungeon that has some useful equipment in it that I cleared next, and then it was time to go to beat Irion.

We also learn here that the one who was going to revive Ivas was not Kurisu, but the other character I have (Fredia) who is actually Kurisu's brother. Irion stole his arm (!?) to weaken him, but having beaten Irion he gets his arm back and is back to full power.

Unfortunately beating Irion is not enough because Ivas has already returned. So one more dungeon to go.


Ivas himself appears in two forms -- a human form, which is not very hard, and a demon form, which is. Fredia has to keep one part of the demon form occupied while the rest of us take on the boss.



I leveled to 50 (max) and still had a hard time beating him. Using items is very awkward and so it was hard to keep people healed and revived, but I did win after many tries.



Ivas is destroyed, the goddess' power comes down, and we win! Kurisu heads back home to be a local healer. Fredia seemed to have died, but...


In the end he survived.

This is a pretty average game, wrap-up will be next and then Ys IV for PC Engine.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Game 39 - Wondrous Magic

Wondrous Magic (ワンダラスマジック)
Released 12/17/1993, by Ascii


There are three more games to go for 1993 (plus one PC Engine game). This is another minor game with no translation patch. 

The story opens with a child, Kurisu, wanting to go find her father and bring him back to her village. He left when she was very little. Her grandfather persuades her to wait until she turns 16 and then she goes with him. Meanwhile there's a general backstory that the Demon god was defeated by humans with the help of magic, but then she vowed to return in the 100th descendant of one of her minions.

The story sequences have good graphics; I'm always surprised that more RPGs didn't do things like this, since the quality of the sprite graphics was so limited.


Neither the towns nor world map are explorable, you just choose a location and go.



The forest outside the town is the first dungeon area. In the areas you can hold down Y to run, and press B to jump (or hold it down to keep jumping); as far as I know the jumping has no actual effect, it just looks funny if you continuously hold it while moving.


Encounters are random, and the battles take place in real time.


The green bars on top are the HP of Kurisu and Linkel. The middle shows the monsters (you use L and R to switch, sort of like Aretha). The grey box to the right shows the last action the character took, and will turn brown when they get to act. You act with the buttons -- Y attacks, holding down A brings up the magic menu when you can then cast with B, and holding down X brings up the equipped items (you can see the bread in the picture) and then B uses it. The large green bar on the bottom is the total HP of the enemies. The system works OK, but I feel like even having played half the game, I'm still not fully used to it.

You can put your characters on AI, which I did -- they don't always make good decisions but I can't imagine trying to control all four characters in realtime (using select to switch between them).

You can also run away from fights with 100% chance if you have a way you can go that is not blocked by an enemy. Losing all characters results in a game over and you reload from your last save.

Of course given the title of the game and the characters, it's obvious that magic is a big part of the game, although Kurisu only starts with Heal. There are two types of magic, one that uses your HP, and another that uses MP. You can equip 9 spells at a time for use in battle. The spells level up sometimes when your character levels up.

When you defeat a monster, you get XP and Onyx. There are two forms of currency -- Onyx, which the monsters drop, and then Bezera which you get from selling things and from chests. This part of the game confuses me because there seems to be no purpose to the two currencies. At least in the half of the game I've played, every shopkeeper accepts both currencies and you can change them freely, and there's a set 10 bezera = 1 onyx rate. There are even expensive items that change all your bezera to onyx. It makes me wonder if this was something that was intended to work differently but they ran out of development time or changed their minds.

In the next town we meet Shira the magician who teaches Kurisu some magic and then puts her on a test to become a real magician --  recovering a stone from tower.



Kurisu has to fight by herself in this dungeon. You often enter dungeons very underpowered, but levelling goes pretty quickly, and I mostly found that simply exploring the dungeons to find the chests and using the escape items/spells when I was too damaged provided enough level gains to proceed. So far I've only had to spend a slight amount of time running in circles fighting.

This dungeon itself isn't hard but once we finish it, a dragon appears when we try to leave the city.


This required some grinding, but at least Linkle joins the fight. Kurisu's frost magic can freeze enemies, so switching back and forth between the heads and freezing them is a good strategy. Once we return to Shira's magic school, she's gone. Linkle suspects that it was actually Shira herself who summoned the dragon to attack them. After questioning the king we move on to the next town to follow Shira. A knight named Soldic joins -- he's 54 years old and Linkle is in his 60s; this might be the oldest RPG party I've seen.

In the next town we encounter the mage Zaifon, who reveals what's actually going on. It turns out that Kurisu is the 100th descendant of Ivas, the demon god. This is why Shira tried to kill them. Zaifon gives them a chance, though -- if they can find three parts of a wand they may be able to stop Ivas from awakening, in which case Zaifon won't kill Kurisu. We get a fourth party member, a magic knight (who dies a lot); he's only 16.

Off to find the first staff, which is in this town. The dungeons are increasingly mazelike and confusing.

The spellcasting menu

Afterwards we have to take an underground passage to the Dwarf village. They agree to let us into the place with the next staff piece as long as we defeat a big crab in the desert.


After that, we get the next staff and move on. At Zev, there seems to be a Baron (who might be a vampire) who destroyed a local town and takes sacrificial victims. The first thing we have to do is go to the ruined town, and then take on the castle to beat the Baron. This is where I am now. As I said, it seems to be around halfway through the game, so this isn't a very long game. The ruined town had tough monsters but I've moved up 4-5 levels just exploring the area so hopefully I can get through it next time.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Return

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

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

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Game 38 - Yume Maboroshi no Gotoku

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

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

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

Gameplay

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


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

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

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

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

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

Story


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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Game 37 - Romancing SaGa 2 wrap-up

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

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

--

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Romancing SaGa update

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

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

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