Saturday, August 25, 2018

Game 28 - Moryo Senki MADARA 2

Moryo Senki MADARA 2 (魍魎戦記MADARA2)
Released 7/16/1993, published by Konami

There have been a lot of "2" games on this blog -- Jungle Wars 2, Metal Max 2, and Silva Saga 2, with Seiken Densetsu 2 coming up in a bit. This game is part of a large franchise called the "MADARA project" that involves manga and video games on several platforms, and other media. The original game is for Famicom and has a translation by Aeon Genesis -- they are supposedly working on this one as well but as of yet there is no patch.

I haven't made a lot of progress but I thought I would make an update anyway, to at least introduce the game. The opening has an old warrior coming to a shrine of some sort.
The forces of Miroku are ravaging the world, and there's not much left they can do. But a woman appears from the flames.
She assures the warrior that there are chosen ones who will soon be coming to fight against Miroku.
That's our main character, a punk rocker. In the manual his name is Han, but if a default name is not provided in the game I use Kurisu instead.
Kurisu meets his friend Subaru outside his house, and she drags him along after school to a seemingly haunted house nearby. She's a budding journalist. Of course there we fight monsters, which are called "Mouki" in this game.

The combat system is automatic. The enemies and characters move around the screen and attack. You can pause the action to select targets (although it's a little clumsy) or cast spells, or use items. But mostly you just watch everyone attack each other. I suppose this is a step up from just mashing the A button, but if the designers are going to automate everything maybe they should stop and think whether they can increase the strategic options of combat so that it's not just mashing A. Visually the combat reminds me of something like Star Ocean, but you can't directly control any of the characters. You can set a HP percentage for each character where the combat will automatically stop so you can heal them. It's a smooth system but once again, it does seem a little odd just to watch everything happen.
Inside the mansion we find monsters, but also books that mention previous fights against Miroku by heroes long dead (Madara and Kirin, and their descendants). I don't know if these are references to the previous game or just lore for the series as a whole.
There's a boss Bishogau, who seems to recognized Kurisu and Subaru. It's not especially hard, although I was worried about running out of heal items -- I couldn't find any way to rest. There's a broken sword on the second floor that increases Kurisu's attack a little bit. But Bishogau went down, and we received a mysterious pendant that's just like the one Subaru has.

At the bottom of the house, Kirin and Madara appear in illusionary form -- apparently Kurisu and Subaru are their descendants and its now their turn to beat Miroku (how original). We need to find Sakuya-hime first, though. Kurisu is not interested at all, but this does fit with what Subaru has read in old documents her grandfather had. She wants to go to a shrine the next day nearby that is related to Sakuya-hime.
Kurisu's house
The next day, Kurisu can't find Subaru, and so goes to the shrine on his own. Subaru is waiting there for him, but once they get into the shrine it turns out she's an imposter who turns on him and attacks along with another Mouki. But Kurisu is able to kick them both to death.

The enemies had another pendant -- now that Kurisu has three pendants, Sakuya-hime appears and takes him to the other world where he will fight Miroku, although he's only interested in saving Subaru, who has been taken to the world by Miroku's agents. Sakuya-hime takes him along through a dimensional portal but Miroku attacks along the way, dropping Kurisu into a forest, where a man named Kara finds him and takes him back to his house. His wife Saria takes care of him. It turns out that Kara is also from another world (perhaps Earth?) but has lost his memory. Kurisu heads out to a nearby village to ask the chief if he knows anything about Subaru.
But the chief is unwilling to talk to any outsiders, at least while the Mouki are ravaging the countryside. So we go to a nearby tower to beat the monsters there. They completely kicked my butt at first and I had to grind quite a few levels to survive the tower. I hope this isn't a pattern throughout the game.

Once the tower boss is gone, the chief is willing to talk to us but really doesn't know much. There's a Sakuya-hime shrine nearby but it's empty -- he suggests talking to an old sage in a cave to the north. Unfortunately the cave is under attack by a rabbit-like creature named Jato. Jato sics his minion on us.

But we manage to clear out his minion, and Jato runs away. The chief tells Kara that in his passage to this world he was separated from his dark side, leaving only the light side behind. He sends Kara out to fight his dark side and reunite his two parts -- Kurisu will meet him again, but possibly as an enemy. Now the sage tells Kurisu again he's a chosen warrior blah blah, and sends him off to the next kingdom over to look for Subaru.

That's all I played -- it's a small part of the game but it's an OK game so far. I hope the battles will be more interesting when I get more people and some magic.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

The future of this blog

I am now officially caught up with the PCE games, so this blog will return to being mostly SFC games with an occasional PCE intruder. The PCE library continues pretty regularly through 1994 but then drops to just a handful of games in 1995 and a single game in 1996.

Now that I'm caught up here and doing my new blog (This Map is Completed!), here are a few notes about this blog going forward.
  • At one time I had mentioned playing PSX and Saturn games. I'm no longer going to do this. It's possible I might do a one-off when I get to 1995 just to see what the competitors were doing, but that's it.
  • I've had a buffer, but since I'm switching back and forth between the two blogs, it's unlikely I will keep the "every Saturday" update schedule here. If there's no update here on Saturday, it's because I'm updating the other blog. (Langrisser is taking me longer than I thought it would, so it's unlikely there will be an update here on Saturday.)
  • I am no longer going to do strategy RPGs on this blog. Instead, when I get to an SRPG, I will link to the other blog or put a placeholder here for later.
At the rate I'm going this is still probably a 10 year project so we'll see if I'm still around in 2028 to finish Thracia 776.

Friday, August 17, 2018

PCE Game 22 - Tengai Makyo Fuun Kabuki-den

Tengai Makyo Fuun Kabuki-den (天外魔境 風雲カブキ伝)
Released 7/10/1993, published by Hudson

Here we are with another Tengai Makyo game. It came out just one year after TM2, and stars Kabuki Danjuro, one of the characters from that game. It has a lot of returning characters from both of the previous TM games, so if you're a big Tengai Makyo fan I imagine this is a great game. For me, it's not. The gameplay has not changed at all, so this is still basically a system from 1989, which is showing its age in 1993 compared to other games on both the Super Famicom and the PC Engine. The irritating inventory limit (one of the most severe of any game I've played so far) is still around, and the combat is still pretty basic. They changed the look of the combat to a side-view FF4 style, but this doesn't change the system at all. It also doesn't help that I find characters like Kabuki annoying, and so I'm not especially keen to play a game where he's yelling at me the whole time.

As with the previous games, this game has a lot of cutscenes, voice work, and good music. It opens with Kabuki acting in a performance, saving some women.
Later that night, Orochimaru (from TM1) sends a letter asking Kabuki for help, and then visits him in person. Apparently the Daimonkyo from the first game are back, and Orochimaru wants Kabuki's help in defeating them.
Kabuki refuses, until that night when all the women in Kyoto disappear. Now he's interested, and vows to get them back and defeat the Daimonkyo again. The first task is to break into Joko's mansion; he has usurped the rich Tycoon's seat (from the first game) and allied with Daimonkyo.
A combat
Eventually Kabuki makes it into the mansion and fights Golden Gambie. Once Kabuki beats him, Gambie loses interest in serving Joko and leaves...causing Joko immediately to surrender.

Now on the way to the next place, I got three game overs from random encounters, and that was as much as I wanted to play the game. The second half of the game is in London, which sounds interesting, but I just don't like the game system enough to play it more. If you liked the first two games and are fine playing the same thing again you'll enjoy this. 

Tengai Makyo will next appear on this blog in quite a while when I get to Tengai Makyo Zero in late 1995. It will be interesting to see how a franchise that banks so much on the presentation will handle the shift to the Super Famicom, and whether they'll finally update the game system.

I am now caught up to the SFC games! This game will return to being mostly Super Famicom from here on out. I'll make a post in a few days about how things will go.

(Actually I noticed that the next game on the list would be Langrisser for PC Engine, which I am playing on my other blog -- an interesting coincidence!)

Saturday, August 11, 2018

PCE Game 21 - Tenshi no Uta II Part 2

I left off last week on a cliffhanger, where the heroes are going to confront Ramiam in the castle. Now that we have the Sero Ark, we can fly to the castle, although we have to do some fetch quests first for a key and some other things. In the castle, we find the other Ark (Agnea) parked beneath the surface. After beating a monster inside it, the Ark starts to break down.

Farn is able to stop it and get it under control, but this hurts him and he has to stay behind while we go to confront Ramiam. He is waiting deep in the castle, with King Ragnakarn and Riana trapped in a sphere behind him. But once Ramiam uses the Lucifer Cells on Ragnakarn, this seems to restore Riana's memory, and she remembers her purpose and breaks out of the sphere, rejoining the group as we fight giant Ragnakarn. Once defeated, Shion appears and tries to kill Ramiam, but three Demons from the upper world (who may have been in TnU 1) come and take him to the surface.

Unfortunately Farn has to stay in the exploding Agnea to prevent the Orichalcum from causing a huge reaction that could destroy a continent. So we tearfully leave him behind and head out in the Sero to the initial tower from the beginning of the game, where Riana will take us to the upper world.
Raphael appears and once again refers to Riana's "judgment", but leaves as we all float up to the surface world. The party finds itself in the world of the first game, in Penzance Village. Now that they have a map, it's easy to see that it's England.
Riana and Fate are the only ones here; the other ones are hopefully on the surface too but we don't know. Immediately we are tasked with taking a girl named Tiara to Montgomery Castle. The person who gives us this task is none other than a very old Enya, one of the party members of the first game.
It seems that it's been about 100 years since. Now once we leave the village, there's a cutscene where the main character from the first game, Kearu, shows up.
After beating Lucifer in the first game, Kearu was cursed to live forever until the Lucifer Cells are all gone, which has become his goal. For reference, here's what he looked like in the first game:
Raphael also shows up, listening in and hearing that Lucifer Cells are in the upper world as well.

Fate and crew continue to Montgomery, where the King decides that Fate is the one to fix what's going wrong in the upper world as well -- at the moment, this is constant rain that won't stop (I can sympathize with this right now!). Of course as is normal for RPGs, we need a ship. This involves a fetch quest and then we can take a one-time trip to Ireland. There, at Cork Castle, we're told that if we get a Eureka Flower (the first quest in TnU1) and offer it to the gods from a high sacred place, that can stop the rain. Fate's party gets help from a young knight (really a boy) Alef, who is the descendant of another TnU1 character.
Alef tells us about Kearu, especially that if he manages to cleanse all the Lucifer Cells, he will die himself, but that's still his goal. A nearby cave has the Eureka Flower, which acts as an unlimited heal item. At the top of the tower where we hope to offer the flower, the priest Marius returns, unfortunately taken over by Lucifer Cells.
Once he's defeated, this is the last of the Lucifer Cells, so Kearu will now die.
Claire, the Angel from TnU1, comes to welcome his soul to heaven.

Now there are some side events you can do that I'll skip over. The main goal next is to get an actual permanent ship, now that the rain has stopped. Along the way we pick up Dewey and Ranzo from the lower world (Dewey was saved by Fate throwing the sword into the portal). However, what we end up getting is not a ship but an airship!
You can visit the pool from the end of the first game where Claire's father spoke to her. This time it's Claire that speaks to you. Now we're at the endgame. In order to reach the Devil Castle where the final confrontation will take place, we need two swords to cut through a barrier. One is found in a sea temple. At the top of the temple, after recovering the sword, Raphael appears.
It turns out that the rain was actually send by the Angels from the heaven world to destroy humans -- this was the judgment that Riana was supposed to announce for the humans. Raphael tries to take Riana away and move forward with destroying the world.
But Fate cries out for Riana, and she's able to reject Raphael's influence and stay with Fate. This is the "choice of the fallen angel" of the title, and Raphael seems to accept her choice.

Unfortunately, this is where my playthrough ended. The other sword is found in a cave. When you reach the cave, an event is supposed to happen that opens the entrance. I could not get this to happen. I looked for anything I could online. I pored over the single walkthrough that exists carefully, and went back multiple times to various places, talking to everyone and doing things the walkthrough mentioned to see if anything would happen, but I could not get the event to happen. This could be an emulation bug. More likely, there's some small thing I missed that the walkthrough (and diary) writers did without realizing it was necessary to open the cave.

Fortunately I can use the play diary to at least see what happens in the story. The Devil Castle opens with the two swords, and the party heads through, fighting the three subdemons that had taken Ramiam away. Once you reach Ramiam, all the rest of the party members (except Fahn) show up, and you get to freely pick 3 of them to fight Ramiam Satan, the final boss.

Once you beat Ramiam, he tries to capture Riana again, but Shion kills him with the Magic Sword he grabs from Fate. The ending scene has the wedding of Riana and Fate. Fate thinks he sees Shion for a moment, but he disappears -- was it an illusion? The end.

So this is not a bad game. The story is decent, especially for 1993. The gameplay is braindead but that's to be expected -- at least with the speedup key it's not annoying. I just wish I had been able to actually finish the game!

Saturday, August 4, 2018

PCE Game 21 - Tenshi no Uta II

Tenshi no Uta II: Choice of the Fallen Angel (天使の詩II 堕天使の選択)
Released 3/26/1993, published by Telenet Japan

This is the sequel to the 1991 Tenshi no Uta, which I played earlier this year. At first it doesn't seem like a direct sequel -- the first one took place basically on Earth (in Ireland and England), but this takes place in a completely different fantasy world. But we'll get to the story connections to 1 later.

There's not a whole lot to say about the gameplay. It's completely standard Dragon Quest-style AMID. You can deal with most battles just by holding down the turbo button. The bosses mostly take the same strategy; cast whatever buffs and debuffs you have, then heal and attack until they're dead.

The music is pretty good just like in the first game.  Here's the OST; I don't know if the time link is going to work with the embedding, but around 10 minutes is the dungeon theme, and about 4 minutes in is the daytime town theme if you want some examples.

The game begins with the main character, Fate (subtle name) and his friend Shion.
A welcome change from the first game is that the severe inventory limit is gone -- it now seems to be effectively unlimited although I don't know if there is a cap somewhere. Shion and Fate go to clear monsters out of a nearby tower. Although the door won't open at first, an earthquake breaks it open. At the top of the tower they find a boss, and then a girl.
The girl is Riana, who has lost her memory. They head back to town, but that night, the town is attacked by demons that seem to be led by a Dark Church member. Despite the name, Shion was actually a follower of Dark Church and is surprised to see this. The three of them escape through an underground tunnel, but Shion can't believe that Dark Church was really involved and decides to go out on his own to find the truth. Meanwhile they meet up with a desert nomad Jia, who I don't have a screenshot of. She wants us to escort her back to her village, but she joins the team.

The next destination, though, is a town of Dark Church believers. There, we sneak in by making them think Jia is part of the circus. There we release a number of prisoners from cells, and learn that Dark is trying to unify the world under their own rule, and is building some kind of flying Ark. Our next party member Ranzo is also there.
In the castle we learn that King Ragnakang is working with the Dark Church to unify all the world under one culture, in order to oppose the monsters. At his side is Ramiam, a Dark Church priest, who Jia seems to know. The result is that we need to get back to Jia's village Rahasa as fast as possible, because the Dark Church is going to attack it. Ranzo can help unlock the door to a tower we need to pass through.
After a quick stop in Ranzo's town, we finally reach Rahasa. It turns out Ramiam was Jia's fiance before he left for the Dark Church. The elder thinks Riana might be an angel (big surprise) but he has a little mission for us to do. We head up to a cave where a Dark Church priest is summoning a dragon. The dragon immediately crushes him to dust, but we manage to defeat him. But for the second time in the game, we return to a destroyed city.

The Dark Church has destroyed the town, and Shion is with them. He has completely bought into Ramiam's plan to build an ideal paradise, but that will require making sacrifices -- apparently this village is one of them. Jia leaves the party.

We continue our journey, coming across Shion's hometown. There's not much to there except get attacked by Dark Church followers -- but then saved by Marius and Alma, two people from the Dark Church. Apparently not all the Dark Church people are bad. Anyway, we get a new party member, Farn. He turns out to be the leader of a resistance against the Dark Church.
The party continues, trying to find a way to restore Riana's memory. As is common in these games, it's time to find a boat so we can get off the initial land. After a few intermediate dungeons, the party arrives at a harbor -- unfortunately the only available boat is being used by the Dark Church. But as an honorable and upstanding hero party we decide to sneak onboard. Of course Shion is there, but also the knight Merouz, who for some reason tries to let us go when he hears Fate's name. But Fate is determined to kill him, and Merouz has to knock him into the water. The rest of the party follows. We're washed ashore but then immediately captured and jailed by the Dark Church. Ranzo lets us out, and Jia rejoins the team.
Soon we learn more about Ramiam's plan -- he is trying to find the Orichalcum for some unknown reason. The next boss is Baruva, who has fused with Lucifer cells. Lucifer was the final boss of Tenshi no Uta 1.
After this, Raphael arrives to see Riana. He confirms that she's an angel, but seems upset with her -- she's supposed to be completing two missions. One is to eliminate the Lucifer Cells from the world below, and the other is to pass some kind of "judgment." But he leaves before we learn the full story, and Riana is still without her memory. Also we still don't have a ship, but that is soon rectified after a couple of fetch quests. Now we can travel all over the world! There are a few side quests I'll skip in the interest of space. One of them is very useful, though, because it gives you the Heal Staff. Unlike a lot of games, this can be used out of battle, so it's basically free unlimited healing when you find it. The shop also sells the strongest armor for Riana and a few others.

I'm going to summarize the next part because it's one of those grand multi-fetch quests you often find in RPGs. A magician Dewey joins up and we find out that Ramiam is trying to open the Demon Gate in order to summon a whole bunch of demons to the world. In order to stop this, we have to find a demon sword and three items that will let us open the way to where he is and stop him.
After getting all this and heading to where the Demon Gate is, the first step is to fight the knight Merouz.
After Merouz is defeated, Ramiam tells us that the Demon Gate required the blood of two relatives fighting to open it -- the suggestion is that Merouz is Fate's father. The gate opens, and sucks Dewey in.
But Fate throws the demon sword at the gate, closing it, although Dewey is lost. Now that Ramiam has failed to open the Demon Gate, his next plan is to activate the Ark (Agnea). Fate and company try to stop him from getting the Orihalchum but they're too late. Marius and Alma, the Dark Church people from earlier, are waiting for Fate, as they now want to join him against Ramiam. But Ramium shows up on the Agnea and kills Alma, and captures Marius.
Before that, they had told us we should try to activate a second Ark, the Sero. This requires another sequence of fetch quests, ending on the deck of the Sero against a Beruva, who still has the Lucifer Cells.
Afterwards, Shion and Ramiam show up. Ramiam captures Riana so that he can use her power to merge with Satan [I wonder why this was never localized?]. Shion finally sees through Ramiam's plans -- he doesn't join, though, preferring to try to stop Ramiam on his own. Now we have an airship!
Now we can go anywhere in the world, so there are a few side quests and optional events to do. After that, we need the "last key" to be able to open a locked door in Excazan Castle, where Ramiam is. Descending to the depths there, we find Riana trapped in some kind of sphere, with Ramiam and King Ragnakan nearby.
Riana is able to break out, but we do have to fight the Lucifer Cell infested King Ragnakan. Fortunately Riana is back so she can cast the very powerful attack up spell that makes these bosses fairly easy. I think I'm going to stop the post here at this climactic point because this is probably 2/3 of the way through the game. What will happen when the party confronts Ramiam in the castle? Find out next week, as well as how the game connects to Tenshi no Uta 1.

Overall this game is OK. The battles are boring but with emulator speedup they can be dispensed with quickly. The dungeons are short and rarely have anything particularly interesting in them, but the story is reasonably entertaining.