I like the idea of this game. An open-world RPG where you can choose a character and start different places in the world, and you can freely go around, accepting quests, and then eventually reaching the end of the game without any fixed progression. The big problem is that this game really needed more content. I've read that the Wonderswan Color remake added some additional content that had to be cut for the SFC version, but I'm not sure that would be enough.
The big problem is that you can travel anywhere in the world, but there's very little going on. There are so few available quests that in effect, there are specific places you have to go to advance the game, there's just no way in-game to find out where those places are. If you fight enough battles, eventually more things will open up, but a game like this needs hundreds of quests, not less than 30. Even if a lot of them were generic fetch quests or "kill 10 slimes," at least you would have something to do.
In addition, you often need specific characters to do quests, but they move around the pubs of the world depending on your battles. All this travelling takes money, and at the beginning you don't have much. I don't know, maybe I just get too frustrated with vagueness in my old age, but I've started using a walkthrough more.
The first quest I went for this week was to defeat a vampire. Pretty much all the quests I've done so far in this game involve the same basic process. First you have to find a person who will give you the information you need for the location to appear on the map. The vampire quest doesn't require any specific party members; you just have to talk to the right person in West End. Last time I got a holy grail which isn't necessary but gives you some additional dialogue and maybe makes the fight easier.
Once you reach the dungeon, you fight through many monsters. One big annoyance with this part is the way encounters work. Enemies wander around on the map, some fast, some slow. When you run into them or they run into you, a fight starts. If they get you from the side or the back, your party order is scrambled:
This is especially frustrating because you can't use certain weapons or skills unless you're in the right row. You can move forward and back during the fight, but it's still annoying. I think if they had changed it so only back attacks (not side attacks) scrambled the order, that would have been fine.
The vampire dungeon has an interesting feature in that normal people appear as subordinate vampires. At first I thought these might be townspeople that were captured, but then they attacked me.
Usually want you want to do here is find a place where you can only be attacked from the front and then whittle down the enemies. Finally you can head up to the boss, who is just a palette-swapped version of the regular vampire and not very strong.
Next I headed out to Weip to finish a quest associated with the Gecko people. I had found some information on this before, but couldn't progress -- this is because you have to go to a different town and find a Gecko in a pub who will join you. Then the Gecko leader will talk to you. I may have missed a clue to this, I don't know.
With the information from the Gecko chief you can free some enslaved Geckos from Weip. This unlocks two further quests; one I haven't done yet because there is a hard boss that I don't want to try yet. The other one requires a specific character in a pub that I haven't come across yet.
|Deep in the vampire dungeon|
|Katarina the Vampire Slayer|
|All those fires burning in a cave, is that a good idea?|
Now I made a Katarina-specific detour -- the witch in the forest is dying.
This doesn't really do anything at the moment, although I understand that we'll be back here later on a different quest. Next up is rescuing a woman named Constance. You first have to go into a tower where a woman is, who gives some indication of where the overall story is leading. Saruin, an evil god of sorts, will return, and she believes that you have the ability to stop him. If you accept this as your destiny she'll let you take all her treasures (which actually include some non-money treasure chests)
Constance herself is just in a dungeon, and wasn't too hard to save. I still haven't seen any real boost in the strength of the enemies. Once you complete this quest you get knighted.
|"You've finally returned, Katarina. I'm going to die soon."|
|"You must stop Saruin from reviving. To accomplish that you must make efforts to win the trust of many people."|
Next up I'm going for two quests that look doable; one dealing with ancient manuscripts and another with a dragon temple. At some point I'll have to head back and try to get the dragon treasure that required beating a tough boss. I've also started to have a little bit of extra money to buy spells -- I bought a few buff and heal spells from various magic types, and I'll have to start using them in battle or dismissing people to get the magic levels up. Although I dismissed the fire magic user and when she showed up again in another pub she had lost spells.
But at least now I feel like I'm making progress instead of just wandering around the world hoping to find something. I'll try to put another update up in the middle of the week.