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Exhuminator
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Re: Together Retro: First-Person Dungeon Crawlers

by Exhuminator Thu May 31, 2018 2:43 pm

Sarge wrote:I'll probably do the same with Lands of Lore. I really don't want to pressure myself with it; the game feels like I need to take breaks between sessions for sure.

Not a bad idea. I'm going to go for "Wizardry Wednesday", in which every Wednesday I'll play W:TotFL until I finish it. I'll keep updating progress here until then. Doing this piecemeal makes sense, considering I have a lot of gaming planned for this summer. Aside from participating in this wonderful new TR format each month, I'm also doing the HRG Community Summer Challenge, and in July I plan to do the silly "summer themed" thing again I've done for the last two Julys. (I try to beat at least five tropical/ocean themed games.) All that in addition to co-op gaming with my wife. So if I have my druthers, I will finish quite a few games this summer. (Provided real life cooperates.)

As for this TR (which I enjoyed very much thank you Bone), I accomplished thus far:

Beat Mazes of Fate DS, time invested 16 hours 30 minutes, rated 7.5/10.
Beat Orcs & Elves II (mobile), time invested 5 hours, 20 minutes, rated 7/10.
Played Fighting Fantasy: The Warlock of Firetop Mountain (DS), time invested 6 hours 45 minutes.
Still playing Wizardry: Tale of the Forsaken Land (PS2), time invested so far 27 hours.
PLAY KING'S FIELD.
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Sarge
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Re: Together Retro: First-Person Dungeon Crawlers

by Sarge Thu May 31, 2018 6:39 pm

Only two for me, but one in particular was a doozy.

Orcs & Elves
King's Field: The Ancient City

And of course, I played some Lands of Lore, probably a good three hours at least.

Thanks again to Ex for convincing me to play KF4. It's a legit great game, and I see what he sees in the series now.

I will also be joining in the HRG Summer Challenge, but I haven't settled on what games I want to play yet. I've chosen Normal, Hard, and Nightmare mode. I'm leaning towards maybe Quake for my "Hard" game (a game outside of my usual genres). Nightmare is up in the air, but Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne is on the table.
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Re: Together Retro: First-Person Dungeon Crawlers

by nullPointer Thu May 31, 2018 8:32 pm

Well I'm happy to report that Digital Devil Summoner: Megami Tensei is in the bag. I beat it soon after posting last night. All told I enjoyed this game although it's pretty grind-heavy in that old-school style. I'll be posting up some final thoughts in the Games Beaten thread, but the quick verdict is somewhere in the range of 7/10. Being as this was part of the Kyuuyaku Megami Tensei compilation (containing the first two games), beating the first game drops you directly into the second one immediately following the credits. I'll be continuing on with the series at some point, but I need a change of pace for the time being! Some beat em' up action is sounding pretty good right about now!

Thanks so much for a great theme this month Bone; it was fun reading along with everyone's progress as well as cracking the shell on a classic long running series.
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BoneSnapDeez
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Re: Together Retro: First-Person Dungeon Crawlers

by BoneSnapDeez Thu May 31, 2018 9:02 pm

Nice work. Three hours to spare!
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prfsnl_gmr
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Re: Together Retro: First-Person Dungeon Crawlers

by prfsnl_gmr Thu May 31, 2018 11:39 pm

The dark wizard Watrys has fallen (and just a few minutes before the deadline). Too bad The Keep (3DS) isn’t old enough to be considered a retro game... :?

Its heart is in the right place, though. It is a real-time, grid-based FPDC with a dark, high fantasy setting. Some questionable art direction aside, the game plays wonderfully and is frequently challenging even on “normal” difficulty. (Death comes very, very quickly if something doesn’t go your way, if you don’t read the manual, or if you don’t level your stats appropriately.) I recommend it, and I will write more about it in the “games beaten” thread when I return home next week. (I’m in NYC right now, and I am going to try to break loose for a quick trip to the Nintendo store tomorrow. I’m going to ask if the have any Shadow Tower t-shirts....)

That makes two for me this month:

Picdun (DS)
The Keep (3DS)

I have well over a dozen hours in Shadow Tower (PS1) too, and I will probably beat it soon. Just not this month, unfortunately. Anyway, great topic, Bone! I had a lot of fun with this one.
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Re: Together Retro: First-Person Dungeon Crawlers

by pierrot Fri Jun 01, 2018 10:05 pm

Nice going, null. It's too bad the Kyuuyaku version of Megami Tensei II is the only one that's translated, because I would really recommend the Famicom version over it. You could just jump straight to SMT if you really wanted to, though. There's a ton of overlap in terms of story elements between the two games. In a number of ways, SMT is like an enhanced port of Megami Tensei II. Not that Megami Tensei II has no individual merits; It's just a lot less forgiving later in the game, and while I like both games, SMT is probably just the better game in general.



So, I've been having some trouble in finding enough motivation/interest in playing games lately--I even flirted with the idea of selling off most of my collection, and still haven't quite taken it off the table. During that struggle, I managed to put together a couple more sessions with Arcus I II III, and did finish part 2, which coincides with the story of Arcus II. The fortunate thing is that the fears I had of being dragged through all the same areas I'd been to in the first part were largely unfounded, and after the beginning of part 2, pretty much every area was new. On the other hand, I found part 2 to still be pretty wildly less fun than the first part. Some of that is owed to the party I was stiffed with, and just my patience with the gameplay wearing a bit thin. I believe Arcus II originally had a combat party of three characters, but Arcus I-II-III is generally made to have a maximum party of six. So, I think in this part, in particular, the transition from the systems in the original PC version to this compendium on the Sega CD really didn't work in the game's favor.

Anyway, as a bit of a reflection on the events of the second chapter: After securing the Rune Blade from the Elvin Sanctuary of Prat Neel, the party was attacked by a weird, bat-winged beast with a red mane, known as a dark folly, that was drawn to the power of the Rune Blade. I dispatched of it without any real effort, but that didn't stop this viking-looking dude with a hammer (that he couldn't actually wield with his starting class) from jumping into the fray. His name is Bazan, and he's apparently just on a mission to kill as many of the beasts as he can for what they did to his village. So, in the absence of any other real goals, everyone sets out together on a journey to who knows where. Stopping back in the main city on the Arcasus continent (can't recall the name) the party literally runs into some dude in a robe being chased by castle guards. --Oh! Now I remember. They were headed back to the city to talk with Tron, the hobbit thief from chapter one, for no real reason. Taking pity on the robed figure, they hustle him into Tron's definitely, totally legit place of business. Turns out the drifter's name is Gran, and he's been exiled from the neighboring kingdom (forgot the name of the continent it's on) by his brother, the king.

Now with some amount of purpose, the party clears Gran's name with the Queen, and heads off to the port town to try to secure a boat to fix things in Gran's home, because his brother has gone insane. At the port pub, Pict and Sue get into a spat with a dude out for revenge for his father's death in the great race wars. Things settle down a bit when Sara, head of the Thief's Guild, inserts herself into the disagreement. She also gets them aboard the best guild ship available, the Napping Sheep, on the condition that she can accompany them in order to hammer out a trade agreement with Gran's kingdom (a plot element that's completely dropped after it's mentioned). This is sort of where one of the issues of this chapter crops up. At this point the party consists of two thieves, two 'warrior' types, a hybrid warrior in Pict, and an archer. Only the archer can attack from the back row, and almost no one has magic, except for Pict on some of his class upgrades, but he's also too useful as a front-line fighter. Bazan can actually attack from the back, but only with one weapon, when he gets to one of his second promotions, which I didn't get to until most of the way through the final dungeon. Honestly, it doesn't matter all that much, because I was still never really in any danger of dying at any point.

Some stuff happens; The Napping Sheep is almost immediately attacked by pirates, even though Sara made it a point to mention that the captain was so notorious, even pirates ran from him in fear. The boat sinks, but the party escapes to a nearby island that Gran found assistance on when he fled to Arcasus. Eventually they take care of Gran's brother, and Gran assumes the throne. He's replaced by a functionally identical character who says a bunch of mysterious things along the rest of the way, but is pretty much not worth mentioning. Oh, about Bazan: He was a dwarf chief, but don't worry, it was mentioned just as offhandedly in the game, and served absolutely no expositional purpose at any point. It turned out that the Rune Blade is actually called Pale Face, though, and there's an ancient city nearby that holds more clues. I went there, it was a highly technologically advanced city, and the Pale Face talked to Pict about all sorts of things, like the history of the three Rune Blades and the ancient people that created them, and how Pict should seek out the stone to make the Pale Face whole. Then Sue gets kidnapped. She was kind of one of my main healers, along with being the only person who could attack from the back row--.

This is as good a time as any, I suppose, to mention that Arcus is apparently set in a timeline shared by a bunch of other Wolf Team games, with it working out like: Gaudi ~Winds of Barcelona~ (present time) --> Final Zone (near future) --> Arcus (far future after some period of destabilization from WW III, or something similar) --> Mid-Garts.

The last thing I really have to say about the story in the second chapter is that I kind of can't fathom how they thought the final scenes could hold water.
I know it probably seems weird for me to put something behind spoilers at this point, but I'm really talking about the end of Arcus II at this point. So, I'm trekking through the final area, and Sue's back in the party at this point. On my way up to the final boss, on the third floor, Chinop (Hobbit thief kid from the beginning of the chapter) just disappears. Poof. Wouldn't be a problem really, except that he's the only character other than Sue with any healing magic, and even though there's only one type of enemy encountered in the entire final area, they get progressively stronger on each floor. By the third floor, they're the first thing that really poses any danger to me in this game, because they pretty much only use magic, and it hits way harder than anything I've seen to that point other than a couple bosses. I ended up basically just avoiding all the enemy encounters by periodically bringing up the mini map, which seems to reset the encounter RNG.

The thing that really bugs me, though, is that Chinop shows up again just before the final boss fight, while Pict is getting his ass kicked in a cutscene, and about to be struck by a lethal blow. Suddenly Chinop comes out, blocks the attack with his puny dagger, reveals that he had the stone to complete the Pale Face on his necklace, and is swiftly made into a shish kebab by the boss. What--the--fuck! There's almost no motivation that I can think of that would excuse this ham fisted setup for an emotional ending, but even still, there wasn't even an attempt to justify it. Like, I'm just supposed to accept that he was off pleasuring himself or something while Pict gets his face caved in, so that he can go kill himself while dropping the magical macguffin into Pict's lap. Anyway, it's a pretty predictable ending from there, with Pict just carrying Chinop's lifeless body out into the sunlight, and proclaiming the sacrifice he made 'FOR ARCASUS!' Bleh.


Anyway, I think Arcus III is supposed to be the best of the three games, but I'm just worn out on this stuff right now, and have no real plans to continue with it any time soon. I'm happy enough to be done with the first two chapters. It's not really that it's a bad game, it's just not really fun. The promotions are about the most 'fun' mechanic in the game, but they're also largely useless, because there's basically nothing in the game that is even remotely challenging, in terms of enemies. There are some mildly interesting story elements, but a lot of it is undone by being terribly underdeveloped. The graphics are all right, and the soundtrack is almost always catchy, though not really my favorite material. The presentation is good, but that only really gets me so far. It's definitely playable, I just find a lot of the game to be pretty boring. For PC conversion on the Sega CD, I'd definitely go with Illusion City instead, and for first person dungeon crawlers on the Sega CD, Shin Megami Tensei is a way better choice. Probably doesn't matter though, since Arcus I-II-III is a game that I don't think should ever waste someone's time in being translated.
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crazythink4
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Re: Together Retro: First-Person Dungeon Crawlers

by crazythink4 Mon Jun 04, 2018 1:01 am

Well, I'm a little late to the part for my final post, but better late than never, I guess.

I didn't quite finish Shining in the Darkness. Before the month ended, I completed the fourth trial and last night got about a third of the way through the 2nd floor of the labyrinth. I don't have a ton of experience with FPDCs of this era, so a couple of bits of this analysis may be a bit off. If you spot anything, please correct me!

One thing I didn't know was that this was Climax and Camelot Software's debut game. (Camelot was spun out of Sega as Sonic! Software Planning.) According to Sega Retro, Sega gave the game a very minimal budget and Climax did the majority of the development. Given this, it seems to have turned out pretty well, all things considered. As others have mentioned, the visuals are pretty top notch. The story, to the point I've played it, is obviously cliche (I can't think of a more generic fantasy world than this one). I haven't played any of the later Shining games yet (though I plan to), so it'll be interesting to see if it distinguishes itself later on.

The game is pretty linear. To the point I've played it, there isn't a lot of branching paths to chase down and there's is by-and-large a single through-line that one needs to follow in each maze. That said, the maze design does feel fairly amateurish. Having used to DM some Dungeons and Dragons games, my youthful self felt the need to pack every single grid line to fill every map to the brim, and that's definitely what Shining in the Darkness's maps feel like. As such, the maps don't feel much like they could possibly be real locations. (For example, in the Cave of Wisdom at the bottom right of the first floor, you'll see lots of nonsensical twists and turns which are meant to fill out the map). When compared to Phantasy Star (one of the more obvious contemporaries to this), the maps feel a lot more relaxed despite being on a significantly weaker system with less cartridge memory.

That said, it's hard for me to know how much to hold this point against a 1991 game; it's seems like many fall into the extremes of "fill every grid space with something a corridor" (Megami Tensei, Wizardry 3, Bard's Tale) and "let the maps breathe and resemble reality a bit" (Wizardry 1, Phantasy Star). Most of them tended to go crazy with filling every nook and cranny, so I'm willing to call this par for the course.

As for mechanics, the system isn't very deep but it's also not terribly punishing either. You're not going to run into any nasty random deaths like Wizardry is famous for, and I also found that I didn't need to grind a lot (I tended to be decently levelled by fighting through every encounter I hit.) You have fixed party members and they tend to have a pretty good amount of personality (especially Pyra). It reminds me a lot of Dragon Quest II, which I played through the first time last year. I guess that shouldn't be surprising since Hiroyuki Takahashi worked on Shining after the Dragon Quest games.

I'd be interested to know who the target audience for this game was. I wouldn't be surprised if it was targeted towards westerners. The Japanese had been munching on much more difficult RPGs over the years and there was a perception that RPGs were "too hard" for westerners. (See the difficulty adjustment of Final Fantasy IV, relabelled as Final Fantasy 2 in the USA. The running joke in Japan was that the western version should have been called "Final Fantasy Too Easy".) The very Disney art style seems to reinforce this. Given that this was one of the first JRPGs released in Europe, it seems that a lot of fingers are pointing at this being aimed at non-Japanese players. However, if anyone happens to know more about this aspect, I'd be happy to hear.

Anyway, I enjoyed my time with this month's theme quite a bit, and I especially enjoyed reading others' posts. In particular, Ex's posts have inspired me to check out more the Japan-originating Wizardry games. Thanks everyone! :)
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Exhuminator
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Re: Together Retro: First-Person Dungeon Crawlers

by Exhuminator Thu Jul 19, 2018 12:18 pm

So here we are quite a while later and I still haven't touched Wizardry: Tale of the Forsaken Land since May. I don't think I'm going to either. The reason why is because of the inane backtracking. I enjoy W:TotFL's atmosphere, graphics, music, challenge, plot, and combat engine. However, the fact that every time I go back to the game, I have to trudge through multiple previous dungeon levels, just to reach the dungeon level I'm currently on, is frankly bullshit. If I could just start back (even at the very beginning) of the current dungeon level I left off from, I would finish this game. It'd be worth it. But this absurd backtracking (or is it re-tracking?) was put in place purely as a means of artificial longevity, and I really don't appreciate it. I'll keep my save in case I ever change my mind, but presently I don't see that happening.
PLAY KING'S FIELD.
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prfsnl_gmr
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Re: Together Retro: First-Person Dungeon Crawlers

by prfsnl_gmr Tue Jul 31, 2018 10:11 pm

In case anyone is interested...Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls (PS3) is 40% off (i.e., $5.99) on PSN right now. I’m going to pick it up. Not sure when I’ll get to it, but at that price...
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