Light Fantasy (ライトファンタジー)
Released on 7/3//1992, published by Tonkin House.
This is third in our five-game "kusoge" series. The game was published by Tonkin House, who also handled the (bad) port of Ys III to the SNES. The cover looks cute, and gamers may have thought that "light" meant it would be easy to play. The name instead seems to center around a "Light vs. Darkness" battle, which is an old cliche, but that's not necessarily a bad start.
The King of Light is having trouble holding out against the King of Darkness. His daughter Lefina offers to be a hostage to buy time, but if she doesn't return, she wants Kurisu (our hero) to try to save the world.
|"Father, I will be a decoy."
Anyway, the king tells Kurisu that he's willing to give up the last artifact of light (a mirror) in exchange for his daughter. Kurisu is a scared wimp, and you have the option to refuse the mission. This isn't a fake choice; if you refuse you get thrown in prison. Either way, you have a dream about Lefina:
|"I couldn't hold back the darkness. But you, who are descended from the Jiyuu Hero who created this continent..."
|The bunny girl's specialty is "sex"
(One thing that you should do at this point is go to the settings menu, and do the first part of the Konami Code on the second controller. This brings up a hidden menu where you can set the walking speed to "fast". You have to redo this every time you load a save, or if there's a scene where your character automatically moves somewhere. But it's worth it.)
And then you leave town and get into your first random battle, and everything comes to a screeching halt.
I immediately got a game over in the first fight of the game. When you look at Japanese playthroughs, reviews, and such, the universal consensus is that this could have been a classic RPG if not for the deeply flawed battle system. What's wrong with it? It may be hard to tell from the above screenshot, but it was clearly modeled after Ultima III. Here's a rundown of the problems:
|4 people vs. 1 metal beetle
- Battles move very slowly and take a long time. The field is large and movement is slow (Ultima III was much faster). In a 5 vs. 8 battle it can take forever just to get people in range to attack. Range weapons are far superior to close combat weapons for this reason. Some units have odd movement rates (e.g. the devil and metal beetle can move 8 spaces forward, but only 1 space the other directions. This isn't 8 spaces the way they're facing, but 8 spaces up (or down for the enemies).)
- When enemies die, they leave behind pots that can't be removed until the end of the battle. You can walk through them, but cannot stop on them. Because of the short movement rates it's easy to get stuck:
- The enemies on the whole are too hard. The status effects are especially devastating, and hard to cure (and when your character gets a status effect, their sprite changes to a sick face which is the same for everyone, making it hard to tell who is who.) Equipment can't increase magic defense.
- The encounter rate is very high. (You can flee.)
- The dodge rate (on both sides) is too high, lengthening combats even more.
- When anyone gets hit, a speech bubble with a silly, childish sounding message comes up indicating how much HP they have remaining. The same silly quotes are used for anyone, whether it's a demon king, a mushroom, a devil, or a dog.
Here's a video that has a number of fights, if you want to see examples:
Because of this, a lot of the advice on walkthroughs is about how to minimize battles. There are two helpful tricks/bugs for doing this:
- There is a number matching game in the bar. After you choose your numbers and the person says じゃあ、めくるよ, if you hold down up, L, R, and Y, and press A, all your choices will be correct. This lets you overcome the money problem at the beginning.
- There is an item called 女神のお守り that eliminates random encounters for a while. If you use this, save your game, reset, and reload the file, the effect will be permanent. You can reverse it by loading a different save, using the item, and then reloading your original file.
So after my initial beatdown I got a bunch of money from the matching game to get decent equipment, and then set out. In the second village you get a powerful dog ally plus you can buy bows, which is a big help. The first dungeon is under the large tree in the village. This has the old Dragon Quest system of needing torches or light spells in the dungeons, although when you get in a random battle or take poison damage the entire screen lights up briefly. In the dungeon you have to remove a key that's hurting the tree, and you also find a trapped pixie:
|I wasn't doing anything but but I can't get my wings loose!
Next up is a cave where some sort of cat or dog humanoid has been trapped. Once you reach the cell on the third floor, you have to fight a boss (Miradi).
The demon is above him, but can't attack. For some reason there's no way to attack the boss from above. But because of the money trick I used my characters are probably a little better equipped than they should be so it wasn't too bad. Note the dog has over 300 HP.
So that's where I am right now. I'm hoping that being prepared will let me make it through the game despite the battle system, but we'll see.