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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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