Merry Christmas to everyone who celebrates.
I'm playing games but won't have any updates until after New Year; expect Farland Story 2 on the other blog probably next weekend, and then back here for Kishin Korinden Oni.
This is the third (and last) game in the Tenshi no Uta series. I played the first two, which were for PC Engine. Some places (such as GameFAQs) incorrectly say this is a remake of the PC Engine game, which it is not.
The first game took place in a fictionalized Britain, with Christianity explicitly replacing the pagan religions. The second game was a direct sequel and began in a different world but ended up in Britain again. This game is still a sequel to the first two but takes place many years later, entirely in another world, and has only a tenuous connection to the previous games. The plot it mostly a rehash of elements from the first two games.
The battle system is pretty standard AMID (Dragon Quest II style). The only innovation is a negotiation system. Before each battle, you can choose to talk to enemies instead of fighting them. They might get mad and attack you (usually with a free turn for them). Otherwise you can choose a language to speak to them in. At first you only have gestures, but you can learn other languages throughout the game. After that they still might get mad with the same result. The negotiation can also fail. But if it succeeds you can ask them for money, gold, items, or friendship. Any way it turns out you gain some negotation experience and if you at least tried to talk to them your friendship level with that monster goes up. Sometimes monsters will show up randomly in combats and attack the enemies if you're friends enough with them. This all makes the random encounters somewhat more interesting than normal.
The main character, Reyard, is the son of a blacksmith. One day he encounters a mysterious girl named Krana in the woods.
Soon, Krana is abducted by Rannell, the son of a local Duke. Reyard of course decides to go after her along with some friends. He meets up with Leon along the way, an expert swordsman who helps Reyard train. It turns out there's a resistance movement against Rannell. Reyard is able to join up with them and beat up Rannell, rescuing Krana. Now Rannell is sought out by demonic powers and becomes a demon.
One odd aspect of this game is that at certain points, you are just awarded bonus levels (4-6 levels, but it may depend on how much grinding you did). Overall the difficulty level is not high, but there are parts where the enemies hit hard and it's tough to run away from them. There were one or two dungeons where I got a bunch of game overs, but by the end of the game it's not too hard.
Once we get the five symbols, we're in the last stage of the game. The three Lucifer generals are in a long cave leading down to the underworld.
By this time I did not find the game very difficult. Sophia heals, everyone else attacks, and a few buff spells make it pretty easy.
Lucifer is at the bottom in the underworld.
This is not a bad game at all. It's no masterpiece but it's definitely worth a play, especially with the patch. The lack of voice acting is unfortunate compared to the first games but I thought this was a more fun game to play. The story isn't as interesting because it lacks the real-world Britain of the first games and the idea of the conflict between Christianity and the pagan religions. Instead this is just a normal RPG world with demon names taken from Christianity. I think if we could have Tenshi no Uta II with the SNES game's system that would be the best of both worlds.
So I was going to make a short post about this game but I'm not sure I could add anything to the Hardcore Gaming 101 coverage of it, and CRPG Addict's series on Knights of Xentar (the English localization). The game is not really worth playing.
The main mystery surrounding this game is why Megatech Software decided to make the changes they did in the localization. In the original DK3, Takeru comes to a town during his journey with no real goal, and thieves accost him. He normally doesn't like to draw his sword against humans so they're able to beat him up and take his stuff. In the English localization, he stumbles into town drunk, and the same thing happens. In DK3, he goes to beat up bandits to get his stuff back and figures out that the leader is actually a demon. In KoX, there's this bizarre dialogue about the bandits coming to the town and impregnating women with "demon seed". Desmond (the KoX main character) smells really bad and has a tiny penis, neither of which is in DK3.
So why did they do this? My only guess is this. They were trying to introduce the world of Japanese eroge to western players who were totally unfamiliar with it. Perhaps they felt that they needed to make it more crassly comic and insulting to make it less creepy or offputting to an audience who might not have reacted well to a cartoon porn game that took itself (fairly) seriously. But I really don't know. I also wondered if the localizers themselves found the game creepy and were taking a kind of revenge by translating it this way.
There are two more Dragon Knight games that I will be playing -- I will at least start the Dragon Knight 1 remake for PCE which is still another year or so away. Dragon Knight IV is an SRPG that was released for SNES, Playstation, and PC-FX (the followup to the PC Engine). I'll be playing the Playstation version (which seems to be the most polished remake) on my other blog relatively soon.
I've already finished Tenshi no Uta so that post should come out this weekend.
The system and the way the game works is nearly identical to the first game, so please review my post on that game. The only major change is that you can now level your classes up to 10 instead of 5. There are also more missions than the first game, and there is more story. The game shares the same flaws as the first game, but I liked it in spite of that -- the game was clearly created by people who were familiar with playing tabletop RPGs, and each mission feels like an abstracted tabletop gaming session. In my experience, only Pool of Radiance shares that quality, and I would say that in some ways these two Sword World games feel even more tabletop-like than the AD&D Gold Box ones. (However, I think that this game goes further towards standard video game RPG elements than the first game did.)
As in the first game you start out creating a character. This time I went with a Dwarf Fighter-Priest. One visual change in this game is that you have the option to see the dice rolling for everything. This slows down the game a lot and I did not enable it, but I think that if you knew the actual SW tabletop rules this would be a useful option. Although I don't know how authentic it is; if you had the SW rulebook could you actually know exactly what die roll you were aiming for? The game itself does not tell you.
You can then go around the Inn and recruit some characters. I went with these:
My main party was Arveil and Kurisu who were focusing on fighters (I leveled up Kurisu's priest ability until he could use Cure Disease since that seems to be the only way to heal it), and one Sorcerer and Shaman.
I got a comment from an anonymous user that aligned with something I had been thinking for a while -- the progress on this blog has slowed down too much because of the SRPG blog. I want to do both projects, but I think doing a 1-to-1 alternation is naturally prioritizing the other blog because the SRPGs tend to be longer. Lately I haven't even been averaging one game a month on this blog, which is far too slow.
I have two possible fixes for this -- one is to do 2-to-1 favoring this blog unless the SRPG is very short (like Tenchi Muyo! I just did which only took me 4 days). The second is to play SRPGs and the SNES RPGs at the same time so that I always have a post to make here each weekend. This might be a better option although I have never liked playing multiple RPGs at once. Or if readers have any other ideas?
Tomorrow or Sunday I will have a new update with Sword World SFC 2 and I have started Tenshi no Uta so I will have updates here for the next few weekends and hopefully I can go more quickly here in the future.
I started the game over and made it to world 3 with the Blue and Red dragons this time. The "feed" part was still annoying -- I saved every single monster I fought up to that scene and I still ended up having to grind another 100-150 monster corpses. I get the idea of feeding your baby dragons, but did they have to make it that much?
World 3 is a lava world. As usual Amrita screwed things up by stealing their Sisilla Drops that they use to freeze the lava, so we have to get those first. Afterwards we actually catch a glimpse of Amrita at an inn, but before we wake up she leaves, leaving behind a note telling us not to follow her. Heading on we come to the Dragon Guild for this world, which (surprise) has been destroyed by Amrita, who was trying to find out something about the dragons. Most of this world is taken up by a large dungeon (Asura's dungeon) that is done in parts. The minotaur dungeon is especially good because you fight one at a time, they're easy, and they give big XP.
World 4 is a water world, and it's been totally flooded. The water areas have annoying catfish monsters that poison you, and you can't run from them. Eventually we have to get diving equipment to go under the sea to various temples. Finally here we meet Amrita for the first time.
She reminds us that it's pointless to try to take her in since the previous worlds no longer exist. She's not going to fight us, but if we want to find out what would make her betray the guild we should keep following her up the worlds. Later we meet Pannaga, a god of some kind. Amrita came to him to find out why dragons were born in the first place, but he has no idea. This seems to be something she was searching for at the Guilds as well.
World 5 is a wind world. The baby dragons finally grow some wings, and with a flight helmet our main character is able to fly on the dragons as long as they leave from a helipad or dragon catapult.
Another sleeping Dragon, a god like creature, says that Amrita asked her the same questions about dragons. She's also been among some of the Wind Dragon Riders turning them against the Guild.
World 6 has a colosseum and you have to exchange your Rupees for Megarupees, so try to save some selling items and monster corpses.
You have to win 8 battles to proceed (though not all at once). Some walkthroughs claim you have to be alone to do this, but this isn't actually the case. You do have to be alone to register, but once you've done that you can recover your dragons and fight. I only found this out because the final fight is nearly impossible alone because of the Sleep status all the enemies inflict.
Next we find that Dragon Knights and Dragonriders are in conflict on this world and are constantly fighting each other. After being accepted by the Dragon Knights, Kurisu becomes a girl in the King's harem, but after escaping, the two sides attack each other leaving every place open for looting (tons of treasure chests!)
World 7 is interesting. All it is is a long tower with eight Haratama restaurants. Six of them represent the previous worlds, and you learn how each one was destroyed after you left it. After that, going back to them you see a replay of Amrita visiting them, and learn more about her. Apparently the Guild tried to destroy her black dragon, which is why she fought back against them. The Guild has been framing her for all the bad stuff that happened on each world. But she herself believes there might be something wrong with her dragon, but how could a dragon master kill her own dragon?
World 8 is the last one. It's a sequence of areas that are mostly various kinds of mazes.
Amrita is at the end. She was impossible when I fought her at first, looking at a walkthrough I found that you should be at least level 55 by this point, I was at 41. With the tedious battle system of this game there was no way I was going to grind that many levels, so I used a code -- unfortunately the only code I could find was a level 99 one, so the last two fights were very easy.
Amrita's worst fears have come to pass -- her black dragon will become the Chaos Dragon, who is responsible for the destruction of the worlds so far and will eventually destroy everything. After fighting you to make sure you're strong enough, she asks you to kill the Chaos Dragon for her.
The Chaos Dragon is the "Final Dragon" that all dragons were leading towards, and the goal was to bring Kurisu's White Dragon together with the Chaos Dragon. Indeed, the white dragon (Ruth) has to sacrifice herself to destroy the Chaos Dragon in the end.
I think the idea is that by beating the Chaos Dragon, the world is now reborn in a more stable form, without the Chaos Dragon? It doesn't really explain what happened.
The story and world are pretty interesting in this game, although I would have liked them to flesh out the ending a bit more. The graphics are ugly, as I said before.
But the big problem, as usual, is the battle system. The battles are just so slow and plodding, the grunt monsters so strong, and the random encounter rate so high, that the game becomes a chore to play. I ran from most of the fights in the last few worlds and used a code to strengthen my guys; I would have never finished this game on a real console.
Also the equipment breaking system is incredibly annoying and totally unnecessary; I don't know what the designers thought it added to the game.
No more Samsara Naga games were made, but in 2001, the first two games were remade for Game Boy Advance. The graphics are a lot better and the interface looks better too, but I don't know if any of the fundamental problems of the battle system were addressed.
I just finished Tactics Ogre, and restarted Samsara Naga 2. I'm going to use a cheat code to get the necessary monster corpses to pass that stupid baby feeding part, but hopefully I can quickly get back to World 3 with the correct dragon combination, and can make an update next weekend.
Once this is dealt with, Ramoth is ready to give birth, so we head to the hospital. This is by far the most annoying part of the game. We learn that Amrita was here and her black dragon wasn't born by an egg but tore her way out of her mother's womb; the nurses who saw the bloody scene are scarred and never want to deliver another dragon.
The babies are born safe, but now we have to feed them. You need a huge number of monster corpses for this -- at least 200, maybe as many as 300 or more. I was warned by a walkthrough to save up corpses but I didn't save enough. Also you lose Ramoth for this section so you have to fight enemies with the main character alone, while her equipment breaks over and over again.
Finally we get enough corpses for the food, and now you have to register the babies, which involves what I guess is supposed to be a parody of bureaucracy, running around talking to different people in a huge office and getting forms. The parody is just as fun as the real thing.
Then as you progress a bit, your dragons get an illness. You have to go back to the hospital again and wait a long time for the doctor to fix them. I don't get what the point of this whole sequence is.
I've played quite a few games based on anime/light novels for this blog. In general, they've been cheap cash grabs with none of the charm or interest of the original series. Slayers is a popular light novel series that was made into an anime; I remember watching all three seasons in college. The Slayers video game is different from some of the others in that the original writers of Slayers was involved in the project and it fits in with the series better than games like Ranma or Fist of the North Star.
Often the difficulty the creators have is how to transfer the original context to an RPG. For instance, Fist of the North Star involves people who can kill others with a touch, and who can only be matched by one of the few people who also have skill in these martial arts techniques? How did the Fist RPGs deal with this? By completely ignoring it and having Kenshiro and the others fight grunts with nunchuks or regular punches.
Slayers has a similar problem -- in the original series, Lina Inverse is supposed to be one of the most powerful magicians in the world, able to use devastating magic attacks that can destroy towns. So this game begins with Lina having lost her memory, as well as all but a few of her magic spells. This allows for the growth that you expect in an RPG without violating the storyline of the original. It may seem like a cheap way out, but it is involved in the story more than you might expect at first.
There are a large number of characters from the series in the game, including a number from the novels that I was not familiar with. Other than Lina you can't choose who you want to have until very late in the game. Each character has the same basic RPG choices but with a special move. Sylphiel can use her magic on everyone, and Lemmy does an all attack, to use two examples. Most of the time the characters do what you tell them to do, but certain characters (particularly Naga and Amelia) will do their own thing from time to time.
The graphics are good in some parts, like the character portraits in the status screen:
The battle graphics are relatively good too.
There are also occasional cutscene style graphics.
But the map sprites are really disappointing; they could have done a lot better with these.
The equipment system is pretty disappointing as well. There's no money from battles, only from chests, The equipment upgrades are fairly limited (and as usual you can't see the stats of items until you buy them.) On the whole, the RPG elements are not as robust as they could be. The battles tend to be quite simple; you regain your MP whenever you level up so you can use spells a lot (which I always appreciate). The bosses are typically highly resistant to magic so you basically have to buff and heal for them. Resurrection, which heals 9999 HP and brings characters back to life costs only 10 MP so you rarely have to worry about a game over except in a few fights. By the end your party is three level 99 characters plus Lina, which makes the final battles quite easy.
The story gains some interest later in the game when you learn more about why Lina's memory is missing; it's nothing amazing but it's entertaining enough. Then once you beat the main game you get a short post-game storyline where you can choose any party, giving you a chance you use your favorite characters in the end part.
This game has a translation patch. It's definitely worth playing if you are a fan of the Slayers anime (or light novels); as an RPG it's somewhat lacking but it's a smooth playthrough and doesn't have anything that will frustrate you.
Next up is Sansara Naga 2.