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BoneSnapDeez
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Forgotten CD-ROM JRPGs

by BoneSnapDeez Fri Sep 08, 2017 11:47 pm

Thought this could be a cool thread maybe.

I, like many other folks here, am big into Japanese import JRPGs, fan translations, and the like. That said, most of my time spent in this realm has been focused on the Super Famicom and, more recently, the Famicom (cart and disk). These are my favorite consoles and both sport generous JRPG libraries - translated or not.

Recently, I've been getting into more modern games and technology. Which is to say late 4th gen and 5th gen cutting-edge CD-ROM sometimes-3D games. A copious amount of fantastic Japan-only RPGs were released on this format, though most have gone unnoticed in the West - likely due to lack of fan translations - barring some notable exceptions like King's Field, Dragon Force II, Front Mission 2, Xak III, and Ys IV.

This thread is for sharing knowledge, recommendations, and discussion 'bout those obscure Mega CD, PC Engine CD, 3DO, Saturn, PC-FX, Neo Geo CD, and PlayStation JRPGs. I'll start off with some recommendations (one game per console).

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Illusion City: Genei Toshi (Mega CD), 1993
This is a Micro Cabin game, so it comes as no surprise that Illusion City appeared on Japanese computers first and that the Mega CD version is the only console port. The setting is incredible: a ruined cyberpunk Hong Kong teeming with magical demons. Combat is turn-based with an over-the-shoulder view reminiscent of Phantasy Star II. Tasty crunchy primitive graphics that look lifted directly from the PC-98.

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Seiya Monogatari: AnEarth Fantasy Stories (PC Engine CD), 1995
Embarrassed to say I haven't finished this one, as what I've played is stupidly good. This is like the Final Fantasy VI or Chrono Trigger of the PCE. A big sweeping epic with gorgeous pixel art. The story is brilliant; I especially adore how the lead character's "class" is chosen during the opening. Smooth and fast with no level-grinding. Later ported to the Saturn.

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Blue Forest Story: Kaze no Fuuin (3DO), 1996
Arguably a "generic" RPG, but a well-made one. Beautiful 2D graphics with isometric battles resembling Breath of Fire III. Epic 3DO cutscenes. Fits nicely alongside Lucienne's Quest. Later ported to the PlayStation.

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Linkle Liver Story (Saturn), 1996
Surprised this isn't more popular. It's a super-kawaii Zelda-ish game with cat girls. The graphics are pure 2D bliss, even rivaling Magic Knight Rayearth in parts. Still pretty affordable and a Saturn exclusive.

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Boundary Gate: Daughter of Kingdom (PC-FX), 1997
This rules. Old-school first-person dungeon crawling with bunches of anime characters and cutscenes. Perspective changes during battle, where the playable characters appear on screen. Ported to the PlayStation.

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Shinsetsu Samurai Spirits: Bushidou Retsuden (Neo Geo CD), 1997
Well, here it is: the Neo Geo CD RPG! Plays like a Final Fantasy game with Samurai Shodown characters. The graphics are great, especially the characters themselves, who are downsized versions of how they appear in the fighting game series. Still a pretty affordable title, even for Neo Geo standards. Hell, when I bought the console the seller tossed in this for free! Ported to the PlayStation and Saturn.

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The Mystic Dragoons (PlayStation), 1999
Well, I suppose this is the PlayStation's "dragon-riding" game. Seems to have received a mixed reception in Japan, but I enjoy it. Really beautiful character and enemy designs. Persistently energetic music. Looks like a partial translation patch exists.
Last edited by BoneSnapDeez on Sat Sep 09, 2017 3:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Forgotten CD-ROM JRPGs

by ElkinFencer10 Sat Sep 09, 2017 2:09 pm

Okay, so the rest of these are like "Okay, cool, whatever" for me, BUT I NEED TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THAT CAT GIRL GAME ON SATURN. Are there translation guide for this? Or do I need to Google Translate Engrish bullshit that one? Cause that game sounds like 100% me.
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Re: Forgotten CD-ROM JRPGs

by stickem Sat Sep 09, 2017 3:33 pm

I'm fixing to get into the linkle liver game when I get the time. I got that in a few weeks ago cause it looked zelda-ish and I guess the language barrier isn't too bad. Plus it was cheap.
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BoneSnapDeez
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Re: Forgotten CD-ROM JRPGs

by BoneSnapDeez Sat Sep 09, 2017 3:49 pm

ElkinFencer10 wrote:Okay, so the rest of these are like "Okay, cool, whatever" for me, BUT I NEED TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THAT CAT GIRL GAME ON SATURN. Are there translation guide for this? Or do I need to Google Translate Engrish bullshit that one? Cause that game sounds like 100% me.


It's kind of flown under the radar, surprisingly. No fan translation, no walkthroughs online. You can probably muscle through it with some patience.
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Re: Forgotten CD-ROM JRPGs

by pierrot Sat Sep 09, 2017 6:49 pm

I've beaten three of those games: Illusion City, Anearth, Linkle Liver Story. Illusion City is one of the best games of that generation, and almost perfect. It has pretty much everything: sex; blood; mech violence; hover cars; secret, oligarchical, societies; Chinese mysticism; twins; a gritty, Blade Runner styled, cyberpunk world; a Gillian-esque, not-Harrison-Ford protagonist; animorphs; an old, bo staff wielding, martial master for a surrogate father father figure, who's feuding with the local armory/upgrade dude; a (potentially) transgendered bar owner, who secretly operates as an information salesperson, and steals the heart of a grizzled old cyborg; killer soundtrack; vaginal canal leading to the final dungeon; etc. What more could you even ask for? In some ways the story kind of makes me think of "Blade Runner meets The Golden Child." Possibly a little better on the MSX, but--.

On the other hand, I do not particularly care for Anearth, or Linkle Liver Story. Anearth, in particular, is kind of dumb. I don't necessarily mind that it uses a character upgrade system similar to FF II, but the finite number of enemy encounters in the game means that if you don't spend hours at a time in a single battle, grinding stat boosts, you won't be able to beat the final boss, because you have to be pretty damn near capped in all stats to beat him. I had done a fair amount of grinding along the way, and still had to spend all my cash on stat boosting items to cap stuff on each character before I even had a shot. Ending is just a giant sack of crap, and I kind of have a problem with Olga being such a pedophile/serial molester. Music wasn't very good either. I found it to be a pretty average game, with a less than average story, and world (there's, like, ten different areas in the game, total). Also, just type エイナス (the name of the game) into google search, and you'll get some good "anal"-ogies for how it plays at times. Just don't do it at work, or around family members.

Linkle Liver Story is fairly fun, overall, but the screen is a bit zoomed in, and there are actually a fair amount of 3D assets used in the game. The problem is that the frame rate can dip pretty heavily when some of them are on screen. The combat feels a little chintzy some times, especially at first. The different types of weapons are largely useless, too. There's really no reason to have anything other than a sword of every element. I don't think it's a bad game, by any means, but I also don't find it to be very memorable in any way--other than how unlikable Lalala (the blonde bunny) is. I think it compares really unfavorably to Rayearth, as well. I would 100% recommend Rayearth--or even other, better, NexTech games, like Crusader of Centy, or X-Ranger--over Linkle Liver Story.


I only have a few games to mention:

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Linda Cube (Saturn, PS1, PC Engine CD)

This is a real jewel. If you like monster collect-a-thons, with adult themes, a different style of story telling, plenty of odd/grotesque scenes, a plethora of inuendo, and more secrets than you can shake a stick at, this is the game to play. Any of the platforms should be a good choice, I just happened to play the complete edition on the Saturn. Gives PDS a run for its money, as my favorite RPG on the Saturn.


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Terra Phantastica (Saturn)

A pretty tremendous SRPG, and possibly my favorite game in the sub-genre (out of the SRPGs that I've played). A sort subtle, but really cool story, fun characters (Jean!), nice graphics, and a lot of great mechanics in the battles that make for a challenging, yet consistently engaging game. There's a lot of politics, and interpersonal dynamics that really drive the narrative. Decisions made in the story sections between chapters change certain outcomes, and one can even make choices about how to "rear" the young king, which ultimately effects the resolution to the game. If you like your stories closer to War and Peace, rather than Teletubbies, this one's a good choice.



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Shin Megami Tensei (Super Famicom, Sega CD, PC Engine CD, Playstation)

I played the Sega CD version, largely because the extra monsters, over the original version, are really cool: Urd, Skuld, Verdandi, Amon, etc). Outside of all the monster collecting, and mixing, the transition into apocalyptica is the main draw here. Choosing your path down order, chaos, or in between (the only real choice) is gravy. Kind of gets away from the, "goddess reborn" shtick that characterizes the original Megami Tensei, but it's a really great game, regardless.


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Magicool (PC Engine CD)

I don't particularly feel ways about this one, but it's a pretty decent game. The graphics are super colorful, and there are some nice anime cutscenes sprinkled in. Story is kind of interesting, but not particularly deep. It's a very linear experience, that essentially transitions through levels, with no way to go back. There's a metric buttload of different abilities that can be collected through shops, NPCs, and quests. Many of them are extremely well hidden, and whether or not they would be worth figuring out how to get, I couldn't really say. It's a pretty fun game, although having the AI control your partner character can be frustrating at times. Overall it's a bit on the average side, but the soundtrack is really great.
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Re: Forgotten CD-ROM JRPGs

by Xeogred Sat Sep 09, 2017 7:47 pm

I don't know if I'd ever get around to any of these, but my money is on 99% of these having killer OST's so this could be a good reference for that.
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Re: Forgotten CD-ROM JRPGs

by Exhuminator Sat Sep 09, 2017 8:08 pm

Cool thread guys.

In general I don't like playing RPGs where I can't read the text. I don't like missing out on dialogue and plot exposition because I can't read Japanese. I understand one could play through some of these Japan imports with a walkthrough, but on a personal level I still don't prefer being unable to read what's on screen.

So for now, I'll add JRPG/action-RPG/SRPG entries which do have English fan translations.
Below the cover art is the link to the translation and more information for each game.

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King's Field: http://www.romhacking.net/translations/1067/

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Tear Ring Saga: http://www.romhacking.net/translations/2812/

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Langrisser IV: http://www.romhacking.net/translations/1711/

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Brigadine Grand Edition: http://www.romhacking.net/translations/1836/

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Persona 2 Innocent Sin: http://www.romhacking.net/translations/1249/

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Bloody Bride: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/560/

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Tales of Phantasia: http://www.romhacking.net/translations/1214/
Tales of Phantasia: http://www.romhacking.net/translations/1787/

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Front Mission 2: http://www.romhacking.net/translations/1750/

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Xak III: http://www.romhacking.net/translations/522/

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Ys IV text: http://www.romhacking.net/translations/514/
Ys IV dub: http://www.romhacking.net/translations/1752/

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Game no Kanzume Vol. 1 & 2: http://www.romhacking.net/translations/1567/

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Welcome to Pia Carrot: http://www.romhacking.net/translations/1372/

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Dragon Force II: http://www.romhacking.net/translations/1622/

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Shining Force III: http://www.romhacking.net/translations/1569/
Shining Force III: http://www.romhacking.net/translations/945/

Later on I may come back to this thread, and add some import recommendations which don't have fan translations. There are some 5th gen action-RPGs which you can beat without understanding the words on screen.
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Re: Forgotten CD-ROM JRPGs

by BoneSnapDeez Sat Sep 09, 2017 9:13 pm

Good posts all.

I've been meaning to try and/or buy Magicoal and Terra Phantastica.

Shin Megami Tensei I enjoyed on Super Famicom. Playing another port is probably too daunting for me.

I doubt I could get through Linda Cube. I'm not fluent in Japanese - I essentially can do touristy/conversational stuff - so a game with humor and offbeat references would get confusing quickly.

Thanks for the patch links Xumy. Forgot all about Tear Ring Saga - the Fire Emblem of the PlayStation!

Xeo, yes you will find good OSTs. I mentioned this in the music thread some time ago, but Xak I & II has one of the best soundtracks I've ever heard. I listen to it when I work out, haha.
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Re: Forgotten CD-ROM JRPGs

by Xeogred Sat Sep 09, 2017 10:07 pm

BoneSnapDeez wrote:Xeo, yes you will find good OSTs. I mentioned this in the music thread some time ago, but Xak I & II has one of the best soundtracks I've ever heard. I listen to it when I work out, haha.

Which one? Bunch of randomness on youtube. This?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_WfUckwG5M

I guess this thread encompasses the PSX era and isn't strict to fan translations... well I guess I mostly played the "mainstream" JRPG's from the SNES/PSX days, but covered a lot of ground. One I have been vocal about a lot over the years and around these places:

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Although I have only played and beaten this game once and way back in the day when it was new, it left a permanent mark on me as a top tier JRPG on the system that was not under the Square Soft banner. Unfortunately, Breath of Fire 1-3 are extremely generic (3's cool sprite work aside), and this might be why everyone passed this over in 2000. It's a gorgeous game that utilized 3D space and sprites well because of its fixed camera angles you can freely switch around to, unlike say Xenogears' ugly full 3D style (and I love Xenogears! But it's ugly). The OST is one of the most nostalgic inducing ones I've ever heard and takes me right back to the 90's like Toonami's on in my face full blast drinking Bawls. And most importantly, the storyline was incredible. A lot of the game has you playing through the very lens of the main antagonist through his journey to reclaim his throne and makes for a compelling balance in how the story unfolds. This game also had two continents with different battle themes, back then it was a treat when the rare JRPG had more than one battle theme so that always stuck out to me. The bad ending is also still one of the most evil endings I've ever seen, ever. Everything about this game is absolutely amazing and nobody talks about it.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=salgsT79Svw

For another one, it makes me smile when people talk about Arc the Lad 1-2. Love those games.
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Re: Forgotten CD-ROM JRPGs

by Exhuminator Sun Sep 10, 2017 1:15 am

I'll try posting some Japanese only (no fan translations here) that are playable without understanding the text:

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Simple 1500 Series Vol. 28: The Dungeon RPG
It's a roguelike, if you know how to play roguelikes you should be okay.

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Exile II
Trust me, the Japanese version is superior to the USA one.

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Falcom Classics
You want this for the Saturn version of Xanadu.

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Gotzendiener
Here's an action-RPG-dungeon thingy about a princess who saves herself.

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B.L.U.E.: Legend of Water
This falls between action-RPG and action-adventure, I've heard it can be beaten without understanding Japanese, but I haven't played it myself to vouch.

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Faussete Amour
Okay this isn't an RPG or even an action-RPG, but it's a cool platformer with nice cutscenes.

That's all I've got for now. If anything else comes to mind, I'll post it.

---

PS

BoneSnapDeez wrote:Forgot all about Tear Ring Saga - the Fire Emblem of the PlayStation!


Did you know Tear Ring Saga got a sequel on PS2?:

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No English fan translation available for it yet though.

Although it's an official sequel, there were many changes made. Probably because the developers of the original Tear Ring Saga got sued by Nintendo. So for the sequel they chose not to ape Fire Emblem so hard. Lots of info here: http://fireemblem.wikia.com/wiki/TearRi ... rwick_Saga
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