Level up here

Which game should I start with?

Poll ended at Tue Jul 31, 2018 7:19 pm

Emerald Dragon
1
13%
Kaze no Densetsu Xanadu
5
63%
Monster Maker: Yami no Ryukishi
1
13%
Sol Bianca
1
13%
Momotaro Densetsu Turbo
0
No votes
 
Total votes : 8
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pierrot
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Re: The Great PC Engine RPG Excursion of 2018

by pierrot Fri Sep 14, 2018 5:09 pm

BoneSnapDeez wrote:Damn son this is some phenomenal chronicling.

Thanks, Bone! :oops:
I wasn't too sure if I was just doing this for myself, and maybe some future peoples, or if there were actually others getting some mild entertainment out of my floundering. I've been doing a bit more playing than updating over the past couple weeks, but I am also here for another update:


Captain's Log

Day 7, Game 2 - Sol Bianca

In terms of progress, out of the seven chapters in the game, I've finished the first three "main" chapters--"Hunting," "Astro Race," and "Sigmund"--as well as one of the side chapters--"Terrorists"--and am now somewhere in the middle of the fourth main chapter, called, "Chojin Heiki W." After finishing the chapter I'm on, there's only one more side chapter, and the final chapter, which is basically just an adaptation of the OVA that was produced somewhat in tandem with the game (although the OVA was released first, as the luxury space cruise passengers in "Terrorists," who are actually viewing the OVA, point out).

Part of the reason I haven't been updating as regularly is that I don't really have much more to say about the game beyond what I've already written. Anwyay, let's sort of look at the chapters so far. Astro Race does indeed present a gameplay style that's very different in tone from the first chapter (mercifully so), but more in line with the other main chapters, as well. The general story for the chapter begins with the group hearing about a yearly space race, that happens to be going on around a nearby planet. They decide to check it out, in hopes that they might score some nice loot ('imperial treasures') from participating. After (somehow) getting their visas, and documentation in order, they make their way onto the planet, and start scoping things out. In the first town, the townspeople are all ranting and raving about "Space Harry," the perennial winner of the Astro Race. Everyone expects him to win it again this year, but there's a rumor circulating that Harry might not be in top shape at the moment. I'm not sure what the expectation was for the player in this chapter, because the people in the first town are basically pointing the girls toward a place to the east, where the event is taking place, but the object is really to go to Space Harry's (I still kind of wonder if "Space" is supposed to be a nickname, or if it was meant to be his honest to goodness last name) home to the north of the first town. I just tend to wander around the maps all the time, and there weren't any random encounters in the chapter, aside from in some very specific patches of land, so Harry's place was basically where I went immediately. Anyway, the girls show up to Harry's place, but it's a mansion, with guards posted outside, who won't let anyone in. There happens to be a journalist snooping around outside who mentions a girl behind the premises with some shady looking dudes. The girls wander around back to save Harry's daughter from a bunch of "guild" thugs. After which, Margarita (Harry's daughter) let's them into the mansion. There's a bunch of people around, and I'm not really sure what it was all about (it played out in a cutscene, and I couldn't catch much of what was being said, due to the audio), but generally there were some introductions, and some of the people there happened to be assassins after Harry's life. The girls dispatched of them, and Harry rewards them by loaning them one of his racing crafts. They form a racing team (I don't recall exactly what their team name was, though; something like "Space Cats") with Margarita, who nags the girls into letting her tag along, because she's always wanted to race against her father in the Astro Race.

So the big race comes, and unfortunately for just about everyone, someone tampered with almost all of the crafts just before the race, and team Space Cats (we'll just say that was right), end up crashing on a very Dezolis-esque planet, with plenty of monsters around. A lot of the other racers also crashed on this planet, so after some wandering about, they end up back on the other planet. At this point, the girls of Sol Bianca go after the people responsible for rigging the race, still with Margarita in toe. After ending a couple mobster bosses' lives, the chapter basically ends. They get evidence of the collusion between the mobsters, and a particular high ranking official, and relay the info to one of Harry's researchers. He tells the girls where they can find the official, that he'll send in police reinforcements right behind them, and to not rough the guy up too much. So, the Space Harry family is thankful to the girls, but they slip out empty handed, because they're outlaws, and can't really be accepting rewards from imperial allied governments. It seems to be a trend that they do a whole lot of work for little to no reward.

"Sigmund" is the chapter that follows, and it's at this point that I feel like some rando' with a head full of ideas was allowed to vomit them out into a chapter of the game. I really don't feel like spending a whole lot of time on this chapter, but I will say that this particular chapter (as well as the one I'm playing right now) is called out specifically as a chapter that is extremely difficult to follow because of the story elements coupled with the borderline impossible to hear dialogue. I've gotten fairly good at saving before cutscenes, cranking up the audio during the cutscenes, and resetting if I feel like I really need to, but there's a lot going on in "Sigmund." Partly, the writer(s) seemed to want to use a lot of Freudian ideas in a sci-fi space. The marriage is not pretty. It was really difficult to tell what was even happening at first. For some reason, a large space craft jumps out if its transit right in front of the Sol Bianca, causing a very less than gentle collision, and sending the girls (along with parts of the offending craft) to the surface of a nearby planet. After the impact, someone in a turban appears on their monitors, and basically gives them an ultimatum to go to a nearby town in order to meet with a man named "Sigmund," or be destroyed by the people surrounding their ship with explosives. April (or maybe Feb, I don't recall which) futilely tries to appeal to their sense of self preservation by reminding them that the blast radius from something that could destroy their ship would kill all of them too. (Probably worth mentioning that this game is from 1990, so the potential similarities to 2001 are coincidental. Maybe influenced by Sarajevo, though?) So, they end up accepting the terms and meeting Sigmund, who's sort of a blithe gentleman, with a bit of an undisclosed vendetta against the current government. He kind of yanks the girls around for a while, and very little makes any sense. There's this "Object Forest" that one can randomly stumble upon. It's said to be a famous location in this particular star system, and one is greeted with a cutscene upon entering, where a young woman starts explaining exhibits ("objects") in the forest, most of which she named herself: A giraffe made out of mannequins ("Kirikin"--kirin (giraffe) - mannequin; quite clever), a tree with a human face in it, a tower of bones, some weird time-jester statue, etc. It's strange because there are a couple NPCs who really get excited about this forest, but it doesn't seem to play a part in the story, directly.

There's a lot of things that play out, including the girls killing the king, who has relatively recently implemented these personality test machines to test for bad people, and eliminating them, instead of dealing with normal legal procedures. Turns out the king was a robot. Human law enforcement was also replaced with robots. Earlier in the story, when there's a showdown between the robot police, and the desert peoples surrounding the Sol Bianca, the desert people just sort of vanish when they die. There's a whole bunch of stuff going on in this chapter, and making sense of it is a little arduous. Things kind of culminate with this showdown between an elderly man ("Sigmund-66") and Sigmund-67. For whatever reason Sigmund-66 was trying to kill Sigmund-67 by sending out all the robots and crap against him (it's really unclear what the exact motive was, because it doesn't really seem like he holds any ill will toward "himself"). This researcher they met earlier shows up after tailing them, and threatens to destroy this core of the planet if they try anything, and starts talking about "Mist X" again. Then Sigmund-67 (apparently) shoots himself through the heart, and the girls decide to fight the researcher. After the fight there's more talk about Mist X being some kind of organism that split the planet into two forms, with the "true" planet being sent off into some distant corner of the galaxy. Look, I don't know. I started pretty much laughing hysterically at the point that Sigmund-67 shot himself to death, and then started expositing extremely saliently after the fight. I'm sure I missed plenty due to the audio, but I also think this chapter's scenario is just a tangled web of half-baked ideas, loosely tied into Freud's work for an added dimension of WTF. If it were heavily analyzed, there might be something interesting to it, but I'm not about to subject myself to that level of insanity. It was very comical for me, though.

"Terrorist" is sort of a mini chapter, that takes place in space. I guess there are two of these mini chapters that appear randomly in between the main chapters. This one begins with the Sol Bianca crashing into a cruise ship, in space. (Are these girls drunk, or something? Probabilistically speaking, I would think the chances of them running into two ships like this should really be approaching zero.) The captain of the cruise ship explains that some terrorists are on board, and rerouted their course while also planting a bomb on the ship. So, it's up the the Sol Bianca crew to sniff out the terrorists, and defuse the bomb. What's kind of weird to me is that the code to disarm the bomb is a three digit code, but I only found two terrorists on board, and received one digit of the code from each of them. After finding the bomb, I just (very easily) brute forced the code. The only "penalty" for getting it wrong was having to fight this guard robot that I could kill in only one or two attacks. Anyway, after disarming the bomb, I was "treated" to a cutscene of the girls in swimsuits, lounging and such by the pool on the cruise ship.

I'll likely get more into "Chojin Heiki W" in the next update, but right now I'm basically just looking for (as the title of the chapter suggests) some super-human weapon code named "W" (apparently for "Watt"). I'm mostly searching a frozen, ice planet for this thing, and have encountered a very peculiar enemy: Some lassy-like dog called "Uso-pyon." It's a little difficult to translate, but it's basically a sort of 'girly'/cutesy way of saying, "Just kidding!" I don't know. Some things about this game are just weird--.
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Re: The Great PC Engine RPG Excursion of 2018

by pierrot Sat Sep 22, 2018 3:55 pm

A bit of a belated update. I wanted to get right into the third chapter of Arcus I-II-III, to finish that game off before forgetting everything about it, and then getting back into this project. Hopefully I haven't forgotten all of my thoughts about Sol Bianca.


Captain's Log

Day 8, Game 2 - Sol Bianca

I finished Sol Bianca actually the day after the last update. Things went absolutely bananas in "Chojin Heiki W." Hopefully this will be a bit of an abbreviated synopsis:

The chapter basically starts out with Mayo (who is actually just "May" in the OVA--) disappearing after spending the night at the inn in the first town. In trying to find some clues as to her whereabouts, the other members hear about some creepy old man, who was formerly a well respected plastic surgeon who maybe has a thing for cute little girls. (I thought I remembered reading in the manual that Mayo is eight years old, but I don't see it. In game, they say she's about ten, anyway.) The girls head out on the trail, which leads them to the next town, where someone saw a little girl running away from someone up to the next town, which is exactly where they find Mayo. She says she was chasing after some dude who was looking into her window at the inn (I think it was some assistant to the doctor people were talking about in the first town), and that she found a bunch of kids being held captive somewhere. There were some concerned parents talking about their kids being abducted in one of the earlier towns, as well. Mayo pleads with Feb to help rescue all the kids taken by the space pirates, but she's just like, 'nah, we need to find that super weapon, dude, 'cause it could be the Imperial Treasure we're looking for, and besides it'll be extra firepower for when we come back to rescue the kids.' (Spoiler alert, the kids are apparently forgotten.)

So the Sol Bianca crew travels on a bit, hearing more about the leader of the pirates, and Watt. Supposedly Watt gained sentience, and ran off from his creator, hopping to one of the other planets in this 3-planet system. The girls try to gain transit to the other planet, and are fortunate enough to be introduced to a businessman who needs someone to export a bunch of jeans for him, in secret. They agree to his terms, as long as they can carry the cargo in the Sol Bianca, and thus the girls hop over to the next planet. Along the way there's some chatter about the pirate boss sending out a hitman on our heroines. This is the point where I think some scenario writer just lost his ever loving mind, because everything breaks down into an incomprehensible mess, even worse than in Sigmund.

Basically, after arriving at the new planet, the Sol Bianca crew spends the night at the inn in the first town (it's not like there are any other options, since the exits of the town are gated shut). Feb wakes up, and I shit you not, she is in the body of the hitman in the employ of the pirate boss. He's only mentioned by NPCs up to this point, so the only way anyone would know this is by talking with a particular NPC who mentions that the dude has a bunch of markings on his face. Sure enough, they're kind of like hotpink tiger stripes/leopard spots, all over his face. The other thing is, FEB IS NOW IN A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT TOWN! After exiting the inn there's a guy by a fountain who's just been standing out there for a while, and freaking people out. Talking with him reveals that he is actually the super weapon, W. He apparently likes Feb, in this hitman's body, and agrees to tag along with her (him?). I don't think it's even possible to get out of this town without teleporting back to the last one, but fortunately I put Teleport on Feb back in the first chapter. Anyway, the other members of the Sol Bianca are nowhere to be found over there. At this point NPCs are kind of like, 'oh, you want to go to that last planet, right?' and I was thinking, 'I do?' There's this understudy who says his superior knows a lot about the people on that planet, and that if Feb were to head that way, she should speak with the professor first. (Supposedly this professor was relatively recently struck with a bout of brilliance and came into all of his knowledge, I don't know.) So, he ends up saying that the people of the third planet all belong to one of two religious sects (essentially everyone there either only tells lies, or only tells the truth).

Feb ends up running into a group of four girls (I believe) who seem like they should be the rest of the Sol Bianca crew, but are apparently underlings of this hitman whose body Feb is currently inside of, and they start talking to Feb as if she is still their boss, and saying that they're chasing after Feb, who as you might have guessed, is actually their boss in Feb's body. Confused yet? It gets worse. So Feb catches up to her body after being tipped off by those underlings that "Feb" is likely to be found by staying at the inns around the planet. There's one particular hotel owned by some sort of hotel baron, that's not totally relevant yet, but anyway, that's where Feb finds the hitman, in her body. The hitman is incensed about his lot in this mission, and decides to work with Feb, for reasons. He wants to get at the pirate boss by going through the hotel owner, but he's off planet (surprise) on the third planet. So the three of them end up high tailing it over there--did anyone remember that W is still with Feb, 'cause the game basically forgot about it too. The second planet is totally devoid of random encounters, but the third planet is ripe with them, except they're all extremely easy encounters, that end in two or three hits. This was also the part of the game where I started to really lose my patients, on this planet full of people who only lie, or only tell the truth. It doesn't really matter what happens here, it's all basically pointless, anyway, but it's such a pain in the ass. Anyway, they end up finding the hotel owner through a stupidly arduous process. He was pretending to be a new employee at an inn in the town with the planet's Chief. Who knows why. Feb, in the hitman's body, convinces him that she found Feb (still inhabited by the hitman) to be taken into the pirate boss, who is apparently the hotel owners father. Whatever, he falls for it, and then complete pandemonium ensues. The other four girls are locked up in a cell, actually in their own bodies, and Feb's body gets taken off somewhere. Then the pirate boss shows up as he's, like, leading a raid on the pirate headquarters or something. I honestly don't remember what the fuck happened, although I also didn't really catch most of what was being said either (that damned voice volume). All I remember is that his eyes started bugging out, Roger Rabbit style, and he was talking about the plastic surgeon giving him a new body or something. The hotel owner seemed to be in a different body at some point, too. They started going back and forth about something. It made zero sense, and then Feb and the hitman swapped bodies with some sort of machine. Just complete insanity. Oh, and W was not the Imperial Treasure. So, empty handed again.

I realized that the Sol Bianca crew is not actually looking for just any Imperial Treasure, they are in fact looking for the Imperial Treasure, which is why they are ending up empty handed all the time. There was also another sub-chapter that was basically just a complete rip off of Aliens. It was really short, and at the end, there were shower scenes of each of the girls, including nipples. Yippee.

The final chapter, as I mentioned, is based on the first OVA, which I watched after finishing the game. There are a number of differences in the stories, but there's also a fair amount of overlap. Basically it's a story about a planet of slaves being oppressed by a planet ruled by a really unpleasant monarch. The Sol Bianca crew intercepts a cargo ship, and take everything on board, which happened to include a young boy who stowed away on the ship. He's the son of a researcher on the low class planet, and his wife, the boy's (Lim's) mother, was taken by the monarch. This is really where the game and the OVA diverge the most: In the game, the Sol Bianca crew is basically trying to gain access to the palace by supporting the resistance movement on the low class planet (being led by Lim's father), while in the OVA they basically just get locked up by the monarch, break out, and April feels guilty about leaving Lim behind, so she almost singlehandedly ruins the monarch's entire lifestyle partly out of retaliation for being whipped in the face by him when they first met. This is actually a big problem in the game, because they end up showing the same scene of him with the gash over his face when she tells him that it was all payback for earlier, but he doesn't actually do anything to her in the game's scenario. Also, to get the "Imperial Treasure" into the story, when they catch up to the monarch for the final battle he's like, 'You want the Imperial Treasure? Well here it is, the ultimate bio weapon. Have fun," and then the final boss battle starts. So, again, the overarching story seems to be kind of chasing its own tail. It was one of the most insane final bosses I've ever seen in an RPG, too. The boss sprite takes up almost the entire screen, and the game just doesn't even bother drawing your party status window, so you have to kind of keep track of health in your head. It has these little orbital monsters with tails, that float around part of the screen, and actually overlap parts of the command windows, making it hard to even menu during the battle at times.

One final grievance I had with the last chapter is that there's this church you have to find on the lower class planet, and the only thing anyone really says about it is that it's just to the south, outside of town. There's a wall all around the town, and if you leave the town, there isn't any other small building like there were near some towns in earlier chapters. I had no idea where to find this church, and even thought it was supposed to be a building that was in town, just because there was a guy outside asking me if I believe in god. and most buildings are just completely indistinct from each other to begin with. Even if I circled around the wall, and tried to head south, it just immediately hit an exit plane. Turns out there's a very specific portion of the south wall, a bit right of the center, that if you continue south from, will actually start to show the church. It seems like it's maybe only 30%-40% of that wall that doesn't just hit an exit plane on the next tile south, though. So I don't know how that's reasonable. It took me a lot of time to find something that actually showed me where that church was.

For anyone wondering, the OVA has some kind of fun action scenes, but doesn't feel very cohesive at all. It was actually produced by NCS and NEC, which is interesting. The writing feels kind of similar between the OVA and game, though, in that it's just really difficult to parse out what the point of any of it is.


As far as Sol Bianca the game goes, it's a really strange one. I would really like to like it more than I actually do. It plays fairly well, but really doesn't do much of what it advertises. Events don't seem to be affected at all by player actions, and while it is possible to put points into different skills, each character really has her own set of skills that will be given bonuses on each level up, and wasting points by placing them in the skills that don't get automatic increases would severely impair the party. It mostly works out that Feb is good for Weapons skill, and I used her as a light healer at times by putting a little extra into her Defensive Force skill, very judiciously. April will unfortunately typically not have the same level of Weapons skill as Feb, in the later part of the game, because the game will spread her points out a little bit more into things that are useless for her, like Attack Force, and Firearm skills, but she should really be totally focused in Weapons. Janny is just all Firearms, although I put a few points into Weapons for her early on, because I didn't necessarily want to be buying bullets all the time. June is just pretty much all Attack Force, and Mayo is mostly all Defense Force, and maybe a little Powered Suits. The thing about Powered Suits is that they are really great armor in the end of the game, but Mayo is really the only character who will ever be able to use them, because she gains so much skill in it naturally that you almost never have to actually add points to it. June is the only other character who gains points in Powered Suits naturally, but it's at far too slow a rate to actually warrant adding anything to. I actually added some points to Defensive Force for June, just to give her some of the higher healing spells for safety, but never really actually used her for healing.

The other thing with the growth is how equipping weapons works. A character has to have a certain level in a skill in order to be effective with a weapon. Say a weapon requires WLV of 30, and April only has 29 skill. She can still equip it, but it will halve the attack and accuracy she would have if she were proficient enough. Same for SLV with firearms. This can be a bit of a hornets nest if you wanted to put points into someone's WLV or SLV when she doesn't already gain the skills well natively. Basically, as you progress, the WLV requirement of the available weapons keeps increasing, and there's no way to go back to shops that were in previous chapters, or even earlier areas of the same chapter sometimes. This means that if you don't hold on to some hand-me-downs from the other girls, continuing to put points into Janny, June, or Mayo's WLV, for instance, is pretty ineffective. Ultimately, the freedom in the growth customization for the characters is a honeypot. Just adding to the main skills for each girl makes them a pretty powerful force by the end of the game, though. Also, somewhere around level 45 or so, it seems like the exp required for each new level no longer has a scaling factor applied to it, and is just a pure offset, so the levels come pretty fast and furious in the last chapter.

I mentioned before how the game isn't really much to look at. It's sort of confusing, because it looks a bit like something I would more readily expect to see on the Mega CD. It's not a Super CD romrom game, but I still find the lack of color kind of weird. It's still really upsetting to have missed out on so many details in the story due to the poor audio mixing, and levels, as well. One bright spot for the game was some very high end music in a lot of places. I wish I could share some of it, but there doesn't really seem to be an OST, or recordings of the music uploaded anywhere.

For the chapter scenarios, I did end up kind of enjoying the second one, "Astro Race." It felt like the most cohesive, and wasn't bogged down with too many wanton details. The mini-chapters in space were kind of comical, I guess, but pretty superfluous too. I have absolutely no idea what they were trying to do with "Sigmund" and "Chojin Heiki W." I can't even think of things I've witnessed before that contained those levels of dissonant insanity, even though they started out pretty all right. The first and last chapters were really sort of just there, and kind of felt more like filler than the mini-chapters, even. They also were largely just grind-fests.

So, that's that. Phantasy Star II, or Megami Tensei II it was not, though I feel like there may have been some amount of inspiration for Sol Bianca, from those two games. It tried some things, pretty much failed with most of them, but ended up being a functional game for the most part, anyway. I really want to give it something higher, but this one comes in at around a C/C+ grade, for me.



Next I'll be tackling Emerald Dragon. Looking forward to it.
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Re: The Great PC Engine RPG Excursion of 2018

by pierrot Fri Sep 28, 2018 9:49 pm

I'm going to be attempting some more semi-regular, slightly shorter updates. Last night I started Emerald Dragon, so here we go:


Captain's Log

Day 9, Game 3 - Emerald Dragon

This is a game that gives a pretty amazing first impression. The production values feel off the charts for a game from '94. It is a Super CD romrom game, but it's still probably the best looking one I've seen. It's the kind of game that kind of makes one forget about any of the limitations of the PC Engine's architecture. I'm not really sure I understand how they managed to get everything onto one disc, when it seems like other games make all kinds of concessions on streaming audio, and full-screen animations.

I've really only gone through the first dungeon, to find Tamulin, and get the jewel that's going to let me into the cave where the magician is trying to keep the seal on some golem from breaking. It's pretty fun, but I'm somewhat worried about the combat in the later part of the game. There's this mechanic of action points being used by moving around and attacking in battle. It's really easy to accidentally move just too far, and not have enough action points to attack, while also not having enough action points to move out of the way at all. Fortunately, right now, things don't do much damage to me, and Tamulin can apparently heal at will. It's unclear how magic really works. I can't seem to find anywhere that actually shows what spells Tamulin knows, and in combat I only really give commands to the main character (Atlucian). I can issue commands to other characters, but I'm not totally sure how to actually make it do anything, and I assume that it just involves assigning a target for the computer controlled characters. I should probably RTFM, but I just haven't yet--but speaking of production values, the manual is really no different, with some really lovely paper, and artwork; Plus there's a little artbook included, as well.

The story so far is fairly interesting, too. The main character, Atlucian, is a dragon, and his people have all been basically relegated to the dragon realm for two millennia, due to a "dragon curse" placed on the formerly holy lands of Ashburn. Originally a home for the dragons, Ashburn was a land that was cohabited by dragons and humans, until the coming of the dragon's curse, which saps the dragons' strength, and rots their flesh. It's not really clear how any of them survived, but a barrier exists between Ashburn, and the dragon realm, with no humans ever being known to exist with dragons, in those previous 2000 years. That is until one day, when a shipwreck washes up on shore with a human child, who the elder White Dragon takes into the fold, and names Tamulin (an old dragon word meaning 'pure one'). Tamulin stays with the dragons for 12 years, until one day, after talking with the elder, she decides to leave for Ashburn, in order to experience the joy of human-ness, and save the dragons the pain of realizing her mortality. Atlucian breaks off one of his horns, and gives it to Tamulin before she leaves, telling her that if she is ever in trouble, to blow the horn so he can come help her.

Three more years pass, and Atlucian's relationship with the elder dragon seems a little strained. Atlucian seems to resent the elder a little for convincing Tamulin to return to Ashburn, and the elder is noticeably pained by it. Ashburn is in a serious crisis, with a demon army rising up against the humans. Initially the imperial army appeared to be poised to quash their rebellion, but the tides turned with the arrival of a particular man. Now the demon hordes are encroaching on a number of human villages, and Atlucian is beckoned to Ashburn. The elder dragon assists Atlucian by offering him the green orb for entrance to the dragon graveyard, which holds a silver scale that can protect Atlucian from the dragon curse by giving him the form of a human. He does this in part because he believes that if Atlucian is able to save the people of Ashburn from their suffering, that it may lead to an end for the dragon curse, as well.

So that's the setup. After arriving in Ashburn, Atlucian is conveniently right outside of the town where Tamulin has been living. She apparently went off with a few others to the Hill of Prayers, to the shrine that houses a jewel needed by non-mages to enter the nearby cave where a sealed golem is primed to awaken. A famous mage from a nearby town is in the process of trying to abate this awakening, but the town leader wanted to have others assist him, and Tamulin had yet to return. He asks Atlucian to go find her, with the assistance of a drunken sword-arm who knows the secret to entering the palace. So that's what I did, and it went pretty well. Now I'll be headed into the cave, to see what kind of horrors might await.

Until next time--.
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Re: The Great PC Engine RPG Excursion of 2018

by pierrot Sun Sep 30, 2018 9:10 pm

* Correction to the above: The region in the western edge of the continent (where the main part of the game is set) is known as something like "Ishavarn," not "Ashburn." I shouldn't try to rely on memory for place/character names in RPGs.

Captain's Log

Day 10, Game 3 - Emerald Dragon

I stormed the cave, to find Bagin holding the golem at bay. He tossed Tamulin a Ruby of Destruction (which probably does something, but I don't know what, because the in-game "explanation" command doesn't actually say what usable items do--), let go of his hold on the seal tying down the golem, and it was time to do combat. For this second boss fight, there wasn't much more danger than the first, but it was maybe a little less of a cake-walk. After defeating the golem, Bagin asked for everyone to accompany him to Elbard to find out what assistance they can give the King in driving back the demon hordes. Balsom, the drunk, wants to stop at the bar in Elbard, surprisingly enough. While there he tells a story about an affable royal guard who saw something slinking around the castle. The guard gave chase, and found the shadowy presence enter the home of the local bon vivant, who has close ties with the King. The guard later approached the man about what he had seen, and the man became so incensed by the accusation that he had the guard extricated from the royal army, and the kingdom. Since that time the guard wondered what would happen if he went vigilante on the bon vivant. At this point Balsom excuses himself, but since no one else in the party is stupid enough to not be able to figure out who the guard really was, they tell Balsom that they want to join him in his vendetta. Kind of a contrived setup, but it serves the purpose of providing a boss fight, and finding the communications between the demon army, and the bon vivant. The King is eternally grateful, and asks for Balsom to rejoin the royal army as his personal guard. Balsom is elated.

At this point, the King's son, Haslam appears with his childhood friend Falna. They suggest a special unit be put together to break through, behind the enemies lines, to assassinate the enemy general, Ostoracon. He figures that together with Falna, Atlucian, Tamulin, and Bagin, it should be feasible. The King is reluctant, but inevitably agrees to the plan. So the party ventures forth to meet with the King's general, Sada. They decide to strike the nearby fort, that was taken by one of Ostoracon's henchmen, while the enemy is preoccupied with trying to stamp out a civilian resistance group further to the west. Haslam jokes about how the enemy is brazenly underestimating the King's army with their greater concern shown toward the civilian resistance. General Sada's men move out ahead of the party, in hopes of clearing a path for Prince Haslam (who, as an aside, is apparently quite the skirt chaser). Things didn't quite go as planned, and the troops waltzed right into a number of traps, but after beating Ostoracon's henchmen, all was right again.

I've moved a bit further west of the fort, to a town where people have been mentioning some demonic wailing coming from a cave to the north. Bagin seemed a bit vexed by it, and wants to go investigate for some reason. I'll likely find out more about why next time.

One thing I've found kind of interesting is that there's a conversation command, that is basically meant to remind the player of what the next objective is, but the party converses in a way not too unlike the conversations in Tales games. I'm not sure if anything else had this sort of feature in any games before Emerald Dragon. It could be the first. I've also encountered a couple instances of suspect programming, though: In the first town, some of the townspeople like to walk on the roofs, and while Emerald Dragon supports the Avenue 6 Pad, it doesn't fully support the extended button mode of the controller, since the target shooting mini game in the casino is basically broken unless the Avenue 6 Pad is set to two-button mode. Those are really not terribly big issues, but they just plant little seeds of concern into my head. Hopefully nothing bigger crops up at all.

Going splendidly so far, though. Combat can be a little bit more of a nuisance (because it's kind of rote, and boring), than anything else, but I am enjoying the game overall, regardless.
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BoneSnapDeez
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Re: The Great PC Engine RPG Excursion of 2018

by BoneSnapDeez Wed Oct 03, 2018 5:12 pm

Emerald Dragon is awesome. Beautiful OST.

I always thought the male and female leads looked a lot alike. I anticipated a "big reveal" where we found out they were brother and sister.
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Re: The Great PC Engine RPG Excursion of 2018

by pierrot Sun Oct 07, 2018 1:10 pm

BoneSnapDeez wrote:I always thought the male and female leads looked a lot alike. I anticipated a "big reveal" where we found out they were brother and sister.

Yeah, Tamulin and Atlucian do look kind of similar. Would be kind of weird if they were actually related, for a few reasons, but mainly because the story kind of feels like it wants them to hook up at some point. I remember seeing the first item shop girl, and thinking that maybe the artist can basically only do one style of 80s hair-band character design, but the weapon and armor shop NPCs, among others, made me realize that not every character has a nearly identical appearance. Since you mentioned it, though, I've sort of been thinking that Atlucian's human form might resemble Tamulin because she's the only human he ever knew before leaving the dragon sanctuary, and maybe the silver scale grants him some subconscious human representation of himself. In other words, perhaps that form is based on how Atlucian feels he should look as a human, with basically only Tamulin as a reference. I'm sure the game will never actually address anything about the appearance of his human form, though.

BoneSnapDeez wrote:Emerald Dragon is awesome. Beautiful OST.

I've mostly enjoyed it so far. The OST is pretty great. I'm kind of amazed by the jazz portion of the main overworld theme. It's not a composition I would expect in a mid-90s video game. Track 4 is also really amazing, and I just recently heard it for the first time in the game.

By the way, Bone, I seem to recall that you played through the PC Engine version, and SFC version in pretty quick succession. Do you happen to remember about how long they actually were? GameFAQs seems to be sure that the game is 40 hours, across all platforms, but I'm about six hours in, and it feels like I'm probably closing in on the midpoint of the game.

Speaking of--


Captain's Log

Day 11, Game 3 - Emerald Dragon

I haven't played a whole lot lately, but the progress has still been pretty fast and furious. I went to investigate the cave Bagin was all uptight about, and he nearly collapsed by the entrance, so everyone just left him behind to rest while they went on to investigate. After finding a very dark room, the party is greeted by a massive black dragon. The dragon tells the party to leave before they are turned into ash, but Atlucian pipes up, and begins speaking with the dragon, and mistaking him for the Emerald Dragon. The dragon realizes that Atlucian is not actually a human, and informs him that he is not the Emerald Dragon, because the Emerald Dragon is dead. He is actually the Silver Dragon (could have fooled me), the same one whose scale Atlucian is using for protection against the dragon curse. The Silver Dragon tells Atlucian to find the five Emerald Graces, one of which he already holds (the Silver Scale), before fading back into the darkness. The party then returns to the entrance of the cave, but Bagin is nowhere to be found. They ask around back at the town, and hear that he has run off to a cave to the south, where there is potentially an orb that fits the description of one of the Emerald Graces.

The party checks things out at the new cave, and after finishing a few (rather simple) trials in the cave, they find a chest with a note from Bagin inside. He mentions some unfinished business; Something he promised to do for someone he feels like he let die. So he's borrowing the orb for the time being, and says he'll give it to Atlucian once he has finished his business. This obviously will not stand, but the party decides to go after Bagin because they're worried about him, and not the more important thing: the orb. First the party needs to get some of the demon horde's armor in order to sneak past the guards at the southern outpost. They achieve this by bribing the resistance informant in town with some of the local wine, and are told that they can get an old suit of armor from the item shop if they let the shopkeeper know it was old man Tam who sent them. Sneaking into the outpost goes pretty well, but the party is sniffed out by the guards at the southern end of the post, and a simple battle ensues.

After heading to the town to the south, the party eventually meets with the resistance leader. He asks for the party's help in extricating a local (Native American-eque) village chief from a small fort, right by the town, where he is being interrogated by Ostoracon, and one of his minions. They agree, and the mission is successful, and there is much rejoicing after the enemy has been cleared out of the town. However, Ostoracon escaped, and has apparently built a force that has moved in on the castle of Elbard, after slaying General Sada. News of which halts the celebration, and prompts Haslam to return to his kingdom. The chief was being held because he's one of the only people who knows the secret of the forest, which is where Bagin supposedly ran off to. With the resistance leader's help, the remaining party receives a letter of introduction that they hope might allow the chief to grant them access to the forest. The chief refuses, but his son, who is not too thrilled with the village's ways, offers to accompany the party to the village in the forest, where Bagin was headed. In doing so he also becomes disowned by the chief, though.

Anyway, the party is (somewhat) expertly guided to the village, which has been locked away in the forest for about 20 years, essentially quarantined off with a monster called Gomez, that the village has continued to offer sacrifices to in order to appease it. Bagin has come to vanquish Gomez, and fulfill his promise to someone who saved his life, but when the party finds him in the nearby cave, after chasing down a slithering, poison spewing, tentacle monster, they find Bagin in pretty ragged shape. A number of things are revealed here:
Upon finding Bagin basically ripped to shreds, Farna screams out for her "father" essentially revealing that she was the child in Elbard Castle who Bagin wouldn't let call him "father," because of how invested he was in the path of a mage (according to one of the NPCs in the first town). Before passing away, Bagin does some wizardry with the orb, before passing it off to the party, and revealing that he is not Farna's father, but a surrogate. Farna's actual father was the pile of bones the party found back in the Silver Dragon's cave, from which Farna took a gold ring. This man apparently saved Bagin's life, but asked for his help in defeating Gomez, as baby Farna was meant to be the next sacrifice to him. Things obviously didn't go as planned, but when Bagin finally passes, Farna screams out to him not to go.

A battle ensues, and after freeing the village from Gomez, the party returns to the resistance headquarters in order to find a way back to Elbard. The resistance leader has another plan for toppling the northern fort, but it obviously requires the party's help. This time the resistance leader is tagging along. After storming the fort, the party finishes off the third of Ostoracon's henchmen, and is able to return to Kildale, where the demon army has laid a trap, tying up Tam to a post in the center of town. Another fight ensues, and unsurprisingly, the enemy officer is defeated.

Tam is untied, and seems to be in pretty rough shape. At least that's what he says, until he's given some wine, and shockingly he's all better. However, he mentions that the word is Haslam has been slain, which Farna refuses to believe. At any rate, I left off at the point where the party is finally back to the Elbard area.

The game is still going fairly well, but I am starting to dislike the battle system. The really fortunate thing is just how dumb the enemies are. A bunch of them just have massive pools of action points (life 40+, whereas I only have about 22 on Atlucian), and seem to be able to attack almost for free (which costs me four action points per attack). So, in certain cases, if the enemy wants to kill me, they could absolutely swarm me, and attack me to death, in about one turn, which actually happened when I was heading to fight the last of Ostoracon's henchmen in the fort. A lot of the time, the enemies with tons of action points just move back and forth around the screen, basically doing hit and run tactics, which is really the only thing that allows me to survive some of the encounters with a large number of enemies. If they were smart, and just moved up to me, then started attacking, without moving back at all in between, they would easily kill me. The equipment in the game kind of sucks right now, too. Like, I can buy a really heavy sword, and suit of armor, that have pretty high attack and defense properties, but also have large hits to agility (which works like accuracy) and action points. So I haven't bothered with them, just because they ultimately feel like they'll make battles even longer, and they're already too long a lot of times.
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Re: The Great PC Engine RPG Excursion of 2018

by BoneSnapDeez Mon Oct 08, 2018 4:12 pm

I've never actually beat the PCE game! Just Super Fami. That was 17 hours or so. As I understand it's the more streamlined version though.

GameFAQs estimates are almost always inaccurate. You're probably looking at a 20-hour game.
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Re: The Great PC Engine RPG Excursion of 2018

by pierrot Tue Oct 09, 2018 8:28 pm

Yeah, I realize people tend to put in how much time they've spent playing the game over X number of playthroughs, and such, but it's sometimes decent for a ballpark. It's just that it was saying, across all platforms, that Emerald Dragon is 40 hours. I typically assume that HLTB doesn't have anything for Japanese games, also. At least, in the past I've not had much luck, but it looks like there are a few entries there for the SFC version, at least.

Do you know what was streamlined in the Super Famicom version? I can't really imagine the game getting more streamlined, when the PC Engine version already sort of plays the game for you.



Captain's Log

Day 12, Game 3 - Emerald Dragon

I was told to meet Ostoracon in that aristocrats manor in Elbard, from back in the beginning of the game. When I got to Elbard, everything had been abandoned, and not a soul was anywhere to be found--oddly, just before going into town, I went back up to the first town, where they were still talking to me as if I had just beaten the golem that was sealed in the cave--. Ostoracon has Haslam trapped in an orb, or something, and basically makes a deal for his life if Atlucian and co. bring him a trinket from the old world (I forgot what it was called), while he gloated about being able to crush Elbard's military forces whenever he wanted. The party agrees to his terms, and set off to find this artifact that is supposedly somewhere in the Dadowa forest, where they slayed Gomez. They get a bit of help from the Dadowan Chief's son again, and after reaching the palace, deep in the forest, they find out that the Gold Dragon took the item off to a forest back near Elbard Castle. So, I went back to Elbard (fortunately there's a carriage service that transported me from Fuowy, the resistance town, back to Elbard), and circled around a slightly less sprawling forest area, to find a cave with a puzzle that I may only have solved half of (the part to actually get the trinket, anyway, along with the Golden Fang--one of the Emerald Graces). There was a headstone that sort of explains a really simple puzzle involving elements; There were five panels spread out on the walls of the cave, that I'm pretty sure I examined in the proper order (same order that I used for the floor panels that opened the door to the trinket), but nothing happened. They just sort of poetically described the elements when I examined each one. Hopefully I don't have to come back here later for something.

At this point I'm supposed to be going to meet with Ostoracon in a fort to the north of Kildale, but I'm obviously expecting a series of elaborate double-crosses. Anyway, we'll see what happens.
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Re: The Great PC Engine RPG Excursion of 2018

by BoneSnapDeez Wed Oct 10, 2018 8:30 am

pierrot wrote:Do you know what was streamlined in the Super Famicom version? I can't really imagine the game getting more streamlined, when the PC Engine version already sort of plays the game for you.


Overall "stats" are different in the Super Fami game. The party hits hard and characters gain more bonuses upon level-ups. Cutscenes have been shortened, and certain sidequests removed. The "overworld" is simplified, as are the dungeons. The game just moves at a faster clip overall.
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Re: The Great PC Engine RPG Excursion of 2018

by pierrot Thu Oct 18, 2018 7:43 pm

BoneSnapDeez wrote:Overall "stats" are different in the Super Fami game. The party hits hard and characters gain more bonuses upon level-ups. [...] The game just moves at a faster clip overall.

Dang, that would actually be pretty nice. It's a fairly zippy game on the PC Engine, so far, but I would give just about anything for combat to be speedier still.


Captain's Log

Day 13, Game 3 - Emerald Dragon

So, quite unsurprisingly, the meeting with Ostoracon did not quite go how the party expected. It was a very simple double cross, though. The fact that the party trusted Ostoracon at all just shows how unprepared they were. So the Avesta was taken away, and the party is still sans prince. After the exchange goes awry, the party heads to the town to the west, and ends up liberating it from the monsters who have forced the people into slavery, but at a cost. The party ends up meeting (or being stalked by, it's not entirely clear) a "hero" who's trying to get his bow back after it was stolen by Ostoracon. This hero tells them that they should accompany him to meet with his master, who lives alone up in the mountains to the north. After dispatching some giant scorpions that had taken up residence in the Hellroad Caves, the party gets a nice exposition dump from the hero's master, including learning that the Avesta was what turned the valley to the west into a desert.

After returning to Hellroad town, Hoslou (the resistance leader) stops by to join up with everyone else again, and have them help with a raid on the castle that Ostoracon is occupying. After that, the party heads south to a town where a doctor Waram resides. The party is headed to talk with him about reversing a curse, but he's a little bit of an odd duck. At any rate, he says he needs an herb in order to reverse the curse, and asks for Atlucian, et al's assistance in fetching it, but he also decides to ignore his Hippocratic oath by ignoring the line of patients waiting outside his door, and tagging along with the party. That's where I left off.

I'm up to level 70 almost, on Atlucian, but I don't know if I'm really quite that close to the end of the game yet. Just from the included map, there's still a handful of places I've yet to visit (mostly caves, and two other towns), but I can see the Demon King's palace already. I'm sort of assuming the game is going to get me up to level 99 without any real effort involved.
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