Sunday, July 25, 2021

Energy Breaker

No post this week, check out Energy Breaker (a 1996 Super Famicom game) on my SRPG blog. Back next week with The Last Battle, a game with slow movement, insane encounter rate, and a cumbersome interface. Fun.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Game 65 - Breath of Fire II, Part 3 - Defeating God

In the last post, we had gained a way to fly on the world map at a cost. This was in order to fly to the Evrai temple to deal with the problems they were causing. Unfortunately we get trapped in the town and they want us to convert to Evrai.

Fortunately there's a resistance group we find that leads us into an underground tunnel. The place you escape has the best fishing rod, allowing for fishing the most powerful sword for the main character -- the best way to do this is with Coins ("gold" in the English translation), although I noticed that bsnes' turbo feature does not register fast enough, at least mapped to the middle DS4 pad, to do it. So I had to mash.

Now joining up with the resistance, time to storm back into Evrai? No, we need money, meaning we have to find everyone's favorite thief Patty. Once we do this, we can break into Evrai. I don't know what boss this next picture is but it must be around this point.

This might be the fight against the Dragon that gives the main character the G. Dragon power, which does 999 and is very useful against future bosses. In any case we launch the assault on Evrai church but the leader is more powerful than we thought. As we continue to chase him, there's a sad scene with Rand:

His mom sacrifices herself to let Rand go on and join the party.This is a long dungeon, but eventually we reach the boss:

There are three endings to the game -- one bad one, and then two others that I've seen called "normal" and "good" although both have sad/happy parts. If you want the "good" ending you have to avoid killing the old man here (hurting him is fine). So no Dragon powers, which makes this fight one of the harder boss fights.

The old man Ganer then puts himself in a machine at Community so it can fly. I'm not sure what happens if you defeated Ganer instead because the machine has to fly for the rest of the game to work.

Unfortunately you lose the bird which is dumb because the bird flies faster, and I believe it locks you out of some of the fishing areas.


Now we finally can go back to Gate, the town from the beginning of the game. This is the final sequence of dungeons. I created some MP restore items through the cooking guy (although not enough as I found out later) and some Biscuit items (hard senbei) that restore everyone's HP and add defense.

I didn't really bother with the shaman fusions because they get removed when someone gets to low HP, and this happens constantly (especially since so many enemies in the final dungeon have instant death attacks). This was a really poor decision by the designers and made the shaman fusion much more of a hassle and less important than it could have been.

Before we can enter the final battle, we need...Patty? Yes, it turns out that she is the main character's sister. The villagers foolishly decide to bomb the dragon out of the way, but this just opens the gate

At this point you can choose to have the Dragon continue to protect the gate. This leads to the bad ending, where the demon in the gate eventually gains enough power to overwhelm the world. So instead we should have the Dragon move aside so we can go in and kill it.

The final dungeon is long, although it has several places where you can rest, save, and one place with shops. I needed the levels from the dungeon to do the final boss. Midway through the dungeon, we happen on an underground village with the remnants of the Dragon clan who tell Kurisu that his destiny is to defeat Death Evans, the "god" that the Evrai church has been following. There's also a long flashback scene with Kurisu's mother.

First, though, we have to beat Barbary.

My first try I had a lot of trouble, so I left the entire dungeon and got more Wisdom Balls (+100 AP) which let the main character use G Dragon every other turn. This helps a lot.

Now in the final boss Kurisu uses the Infinity Dragon to make Death Evans vulnerable. There was a long sequence indicating that Kurisu would have to sacrifice his life to use this -- maybe I've forgotten how they dealt with this but he doesn't die. Death Evans is much easier than Barbary, though. 

Now after the fight, if you didn't save Goran, Kurisu has to become the dragon to guard the gate. If you did save Goran he'll use the town to block the entrance. And the game ends.

The ending sequence goes through the "chapters" of the game and lists all the characters that were in each scene.

 The end!

I think Breath of Fire 1 was a better game. BoF2 has some pretty severe balance issues that make large stretches of it not very fun to play. The plot doesn't really do anything until the last section. The shaman system is hard to use, and the Dragon breath system is not as robust as the first game. I also didn't think the dungeons were as creatively designed as the first game. On the whole I had much more fun with the first game than the second -- Carlos in the last post said that BoF2 is an objectively better game but I'm not so sure about that.


With this game I am halfway through my quest! (65 games out of 130). I'm playing Energy Breaker (SFC) on the other blog and then we'll come back here for The Last Battle. I'm done with vacations so we should see fewer "gap" posts in the next few months (although probably there will be one next week).

Saturday, July 10, 2021

The Magic Bells (Deadly Towers)

(This is a scheduled post while I'm away on vacation. I've beaten BoF2 so that final post will be up next week.)

This is another action game, and an infamous kusoge both here and in Japan. I think there's a perception that Japanese players liked these games better than we did, but this one got bad reviews in Japan as well. It's clearly in the lineage of Druaga, Hydlide, Zelda, and such. You have a (small) open world, most of the game content hidden with no hints, and a protagonist who starts very weak compared to the monsters. But it's closer to Hydlide and Adventures of Valkyrie in that the initial difficulty is quite high, and you're going to die a lot before you even come across the basics of what to do. One thing that Zelda got right is that you can make a fair amount of progress at the beginning of the game before you run into the really difficult hidden stuff or nasty monsters.

I vaguely remember playing this game as a kid -- I may have rented it or just played it at a friend's house, but I didn't play it much.

Although the reviews are mostly negative, I have seen some that defend some parts of the game, at least. It really seems like the main problem with the game is how weak you start, and how difficult it is to make any early progress. Unlike Valkyrie and Hydlide, there's no XP, so fighting the initial enemies gets you nothing but a few Ludder (the money). And in order to spend that Ludder, you have to find the hidden dungeons and then the shops within those dungeons.

Here's what the dungeons look like (credit to GameFAQs):

S is where you start, X is the exit, and the other letters are the shops (the green blocks are just what the walkthrough writer used to show where you should go). These dungeons seem unnecessarily large given that most of those rooms have no purpose. So you have to deal with a lot of game content to just get even basic upgrades for your character. There are heart containers you can find early in the game (and easily) that raise your max HP by 10, but these provide little help at the beginning because whenever you die you start with 100 HP regardless of what your max is.

So I think this is where a lot of players get frustrated and give up early; it's hard to keep playing a game when you don't feel like you're making any progress. I think it would have helped this game's perception quite a bit if there were a basic shop near the starting location and if the starting enemies were a bit less hardy.

I'm going to try using a walkthrough to see what the game is like if you know where the secrets are.

The problems with the system are well known -- you shoot out a sword, but only one can be on the screen at a time. The enemies take tons of hits to kill, and any time you get hit you get moved down the screen, and if you fall off the bottom you die. Sometimes you get hit back into a previous screen and then immediately hit more enemies.

The first goal is to get stronger equipment, so I headed to dungeon 4.

Using the map it's not too tough to find the shop, and there's a certain enemy that is very useful for earning Ludder -- it's a large enemy but if you stunlock it as soon as you enter the room you can kill it easily. It still takes a lot of enemies to get enough money to buy stuff. I got the Hyper Boots, Chain Helmet, and Shield.

I then headed to a second dungeon to get some Armor and a glove to increase attack speed, but I was dying a lot. And I figured that I should be playing BoF2 instead of this so I quit.

The goal of the rest of the game would be to find the hidden areas that have seven bosses, each of which has a bell when you defeat it. You then have to destroy the bells by using a magic fire in the main castle, and then you can progress to the final boss. The areas with the bosses also have additional secret rooms with the most powerful equipment in them. All of these hidden areas (including the dungeons and towers) require you to step on specific places on the maps, that aren't marked in any way.

So is it more tolerable with the walkthrough? Marginally, but it's still not a good game. With the walkthrough you can at least avoid the problem at the beginning where you're making no progress, but even with the additional equipment, Prince Myer is weak. You get knocked back by enemies, often into other enemies that then knock you further. You can enter a dungeon room and die before you even see what was there. 

Just as playing early SRPGs revealed to me how well designed Fire Emblem 1 was (for its time), playing these early action games has shown me how well designed Zelda was. Zelda certainly isn't perfect and I think the obscurity of its secrets would be unacceptable now, but it stands out from the crowd.

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Game 65 - Breath of Fire II, Part 2 - What's wrong with the world?

The quest we're given by the Guild has to do with a demon near Gate town, which is the same demon that attacked Bosh and Kurisu when we were kids. So of course that's something that we have to investigate, but this will require a "grass person" to help us talk to the wise trees. Since the beginning of the game a grass person has been in the circus that appears here and there, so that's our next destination. But first, we have to get a way to sail around the world -- in this game that's not a ship but a whale.


The whale "grandpa" appears to have something wrong with it that makes it sleep -- of course we can guess it's some new monster. We go inside of it, and need Rinpu along to hit various places with her staff and open routes.

Once the monster inside him is beaten, he wakes up and we can use him to sail around the world. Now we can head out to the circus with our recruitable grassman.


Unfortunately the head of the circus refuses to part with him(?) unless we bring him a rare Uparupa. They live in a cave where we have to use bait to get them. This part is a little annoying because you can only get one bait in the cave, and if you fail to get the right Uparupa you'll have to do another fetch quest with a pretty difficult boss. But if you get it right the first time you can avoid that...although we decide to let the Uparupa go because we feel sorry for it.

So how do we get the grassman? Just threaten to beat up the circus runner, of course. What a surprise, he is a demon as well.

After he's beaten, it turns out Aspar could have gotten out at any time but was waiting for a group of heroes that could save the world (was there not a more efficient way to do that?) Anyway, with Aspar we can talk to the trees and find out what's going on.


The giant tree is having problems with its memory (shades of the opening sequence?) and we need a Therapy Pillow to help, which the Music Country has. Just as in the first game, we can't communicate with the Music Country people without a flute. This whole section is nested fetch quests.

The flute seems to be in Highland Castle, which is actually Sten's homeland, where he was a knight. This is by far the most annoying section of the game for me. The monsters are incredibly strong and you can't leave until you finish the quest. I got a lot of game overs here and had to retreat to heal pools many times. To add insult to injury there's a set of warps near the end of the dungeon that warp you one-way back to the beginning (I wonder if they intended this to be two-way so you could leave and heal?)

The kingdom is being ruled by yet another demon, who is strong but I managed to beat with only Kurisu left alive. And now we have the flute. Unfortunately the queen of the music country is sick...another demon? By enlisting the help of a dietician we're able to use a magic mirror to get inside her and clear out all the enemies. Fortunately this is a pretty easy dungeon. And now with the therapy pillow we can help the tree out, entering is dream to beat Alzheimer who is afflicting him. This area is a strange dreamlike world where you go to towns made of young, old, and middle-aged people.

It turns out that Alzheimer is the one that made everyone forget Kurisu at the beginning, as well as the tree, and he says the tree was in the way of God.

Now we head south through a fog soon as we clear the fog by convincing a wind spirit to stop making it (and adding it to our spirit inventory). This dungeon has underwater areas that you have to complete in a time limit.

We then reach Rand's home town, where this church of Eva seems to be causing problems. Rand's mom wants us to help farm and then go pray to Namamda, but after we do, she's suddenly gone and we're told that the Eva church has obtained her field for a church. So it seems like we need to deal with this Eva church, but their place is only accessible by the air. How do the believers get there? Oh well, in order to reach it we need to return to Windia where there is a legend that older winged humans could turn into birds.


Nina reunites with her parents, who are sorry for throwing her out just because she had black wings. She plans to become the big bird (a transformation that can't be reversed) but her sister steps in and does it instead.

Now we can fly.

I'm going to end there -- I'm on the last dungeon so I'll be finished soon. Next week is a scheduled side post, though.