Released 3/26/1992, published by Hudson Soft
Tengai Makyo was a pretty good launch title for the PC Engine CD attachment, showing off what the peripheral could do with a lot of voiced dialogue and animated cutscenes (though not FMV). Three years later, a sequel arrived. This is often remembered as one of the best PCE RPGs and the best game in the Tengai Makyo series.
It's disappointing that the system is more or less the same as Tengai Makyo 1. TM1's system wasn't bad for 1989, but it would have been nice to see them add some new features. As for the graphics, I feel like TM1's were actually better. The monsters, in particular, seemed more interesting in the first game, and for some reason TM2 took the backgrounds out of the battle sequences. However, I do think TM2 does more with the cutscenes than the first game did. The PCE tech didn't quite allow for FMV (although a few later games did it), but the cutscenes use a combination of still pictures and animation to create a feeling of movement and action that few games have. According to Wikipedia this was the most expensive game to develop at the time. It used the fairly new Super CD-ROM technology, which allowed for more RAM and possibly storage space on the CD.
It makes me wonder -- if you take out the speech and the orchestral music played off the CD, could this game have come out on the Super Famicom in 1992? I'm fairly certain that by the end of the SFC's life, studios that were making games like Star Ocean and even Tengai Makyo Zero would have been able to handle this, but maybe in 1992 they hadn't quite figured out the technology yet. Cutscenes are rare in SFC RPGs at this point -- I believe in what I've played up to now, only Light Fantasy, Villgust, 3x3 Eyes, and Elfaria did anything approaching animated cutscenes.
Speaking of the music, the music director was Joe Hisashi, who might be familiar as the composer for many of the Miyazaki movies. Here's the overworld BGM, which does seem Miyazaki-ish:
So the game is above TM1 as far as music (TM1 had no CD tracks), cutscenes, amount of speech, and size/length of the game. I just wish they had put more time in developing the system -- I guess I shouldn't expect too much from 1992. Anyway, let's get into the game.
|A rabid dog|
At the festival, Manjimaru meets a rich Tycoon and three strange doctor-like beings but then an earthquake strikes.
Messengers from Yomi (the land of the dead and the red sphere in the first picture) arrive, as do seven huge plants in various parts of the world. They begin to grow, blocking travel and causing other mayhem.
|The evil vine|
|The fire tribe|
|Manjimaru the hero|
|Sort of a real boat.|
Anyway, the final boss is a combination of all three of the skeleton bosses, created by those strange doctor beings.
|No one can stand before me!|
|Danjuro vs. Kikugoro|
I'm going to stop this post here -- I'm almost done with the second Orchid so I'll make a post about that for Monday or so. I think I'm going to continue playing this game if only because it's so well regarded by Japanese players. As I said, I think it's unfortunate that the system is still stuck in the NES era but the graphics and cutscenes are quite impressive.