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alienjesus
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Re: Together Retro April 2021 - Little Big Adventure

by alienjesus Wed Apr 14, 2021 7:31 pm

@Ziggy

Pokémon games totally count for this month's TR!

I've had issues losing saves before when moving between GBA and Super Game Boy for Pokémon titles, so be careful with that. Not sure why that is but it's happened a few times for me.


Anyhow, today I started up my next title for the month, Madou Monogatari I for the Game Gear.

We play as Arle, a kindergartner at a magical school. In order to graduate Kindergarten, Arle must pass the graduation test - enter a giant tower full of terrifying monsters and death traps that is in the middle of the school playground and find all the magical orbs within. Magic school is rough!

Arle begins the game with 2 spells - Fire, and Ice Storm, and can cast these freely on enemies. Some enemies are weak to one and some the other. You also find a few spells as you progress - I've found a sleep spell, an illusion spell, a healing spell and a power buff so far. These use up MP though, so you'll want to be more sparing with them.

Early on, Arle is a bit of a pushover and the enemy Puyos who appear on the base floor will beat you down (yes, this is the RPG franchise that Puyo Puyo is a spin-off of!). Luckily after a few level ups I've found I'm smashing my way through most enemies since. It can also be hard to gauge how well you're doing because the game hides all of your stats from you. I have no idea what level Arle is in my game, and at any point I can only make an educated guess as to her current HP and MP and the power of her attacks. When in battle you'll have to judge from Arle's comments how you're doing - so if she says she's 'doing fine' then you can probably take a few hits, but if she says she 'can't go on' then it's time to heal for sure. Outside of battle you judge based off of Arle's expression - her face takes up a full quarter of the screen real estate after all, and a happy face is a healthy Arle whereas a frowny face spells trouble.

The exploration is pretty nice in the game. The game is nice enough to map stuff for you, although I have been making my own maps anyhow. The game map only shows the floor and wall layout, but it doesn't show location of chests, stairs and other events so I thought I'd better note that down myself.

So far I'm enjoying the game a lot. The combat is simple and the exploration isn't hugely complex either but the game is loaded with charm and the music, visuals and voice samples (!) are absolutely phenomenal for the console. This game really shows off what the Game Gear can do and there's honestly nothing on Game Boy that can match this presentation - and nothing comes to mind on NGPC either for that matter. Some of the top tier Wonderswan games might stand a chance, but this is a contender in presentation for even a lot of GBA stuff, genuinely.

Anyhow, I'm on the 5th floor now so made some good progress. I don't think the game is too long so we'll see how long it takes to finish. So far I'm very tempted to pick up the other 3 games in the series on GG too though!

If I remember tomorrow I'll upload pics of my scribbly maps. I didn't even have graph paper to hand so I had to draw them the hard way :lol:

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MegaJ
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Re: Together Retro April 2021 - Little Big Adventure

by MegaJ Wed Apr 14, 2021 9:36 pm

I've been wanting to get modded Game Boys for a while, especially a GBA with a good screen and a Game Boy Color modded to look like the Game Boy Horror from Luigi's Mansion- I've seen ones with glow in the dark logos and everything, they look great!

Definitely into the idea of Cave Noire as well- it's one that caught my interest a while back, but Japanese-only put me off back then, didn't know there was a translation patch until now! Definitely going to look into it next time I want another GB RPG!


Took a short break from The Final Fantasy Legend (might get back to it again tonight) but I've been getting big into Digimon lately, and got my original Digivice LCD game from my childhood up and running again with new batteries! It's not console, but it still fits the Little Big Adventure theme very snugly- it's not a traditional Tamagotchi-style V-pet like the other Digimon releases (one of which I'm also running alongside everything else but won't go into here, as it's less of a game per se) and it's more like a full, ultra-tiny RPG! It's sure got the little part covered- this has got to be the smallest screen of anything that's going to be played on in this thread!-

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It's my girl, Gatomon!

It's styled after a traditional V-pet, but that's where the similarities end. There's no feeding, no putting to bed, no clearing up poop- the only care-related thing you need to do is the 'Medical' command if your Digimon loses a battle and gets injured- this occurs randomly after a loss and honestly makes no game mechanic impact at all- it's just there to make you feel a little more responsible/guilty for your mon's defeat.

Unlike most of the traditional Digimon V-pet releases, this one's pretty much totally based on the original series of the anime- you pick your starter from one of those of the 8 Digidestined from the show- Agumon, Gabumon, Biyomon, Palmon, Tentomon, Gomamon, Patamon and Gatomon, then gradually rescue the other 7 randomly from a post-battle minigame once (or sometimes more) per area. I have all 8 now, but I picked Gomamon as my starter- love that little dude!

Digivolving goes by the show's rules, unlike the V-pets- it only occurs temporarily for the battle, then your mon de-digivolves back to rookie level after battle. Sadly, the English release (which is weirdly totally different from the Japanese release- sprites and all) only lets you digivolve your Digimon to their Ultimate level (for non-Digimon people, the standard evolution stages are: Baby -> In-Training -> Rookie -> Champion -> Ultimate -> Mega) also, the surprise 'final boss' from, like, the last two episodes of the first series of the show is weirdly absent too- the final boss here is Piedmon, so we kinda got screwed with this English version release, but hey- I at least think our sprites actually look better, so it's got that going for it.

There are only two stats- HP and attack- which are totally identical between all your potential Digimon, and their evos are also flat stat boosts, so who you choose is really just for personal taste/to swap to in battle if one gets wounded. Even Gatomon and her evolutions have the same stats as everyone else, which is weird, considering she's actually a Champion level by default and is the only one who can evolve to Mega here, but it's functionally the exact same as evolving to Ultimate. Lame.

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The map screen.

The game progresses through the use of a basic pedometer- each area of the game map has X amount of real-world steps (or shakes) in order to reach the boss, and they go up each time. It takes aaaages. This would be fine- you could just shove it in your pocket and go about your day, right? Unfortunately, nope. There are classic JRPG random battles- they're not too hard, but they also have a hidden timer- if you leave it on the battle screen for too long without input, it's an instant loss, and you get pushed back 500 steps, requiring active gameplay most of the time.

You have two minigames in the menu- a slot game and a card game. The slot game is just a slot game- you can gain or lose step progress from the result. The card game flips over two cards, revealing Digimons- if a bad Digimon shows up, you have a second to press the correct button to explode it, it's a simple quick-draw game with a few rounds which wins you step progress.

The battles are simple- you can attack, digivolve, switch party members or run. Attacking requires rhythmic button-presses in order to attack- if you screw it up, your opponent attacks instead- it's either/or. However, if the opponent is too strong and you're at too low an evolution level your attacks will do nothing. Digivolving solves this by boosting both your maximum HP and attack per evolution level, which is required for bosses- doing this requires a correct rhythmic shaking of the device during the sequence, plus some D-Power (earned through steps outside of battle)
Battles are simple, but the margin of error is razor thin- one mistimed attack or unsuccessful evolution can lose you the battle as the game gets harder, as the battles have a strict turn limit (either 3 or 4 turns, I forget which)

I'm currently at area 6/7- so far I've defeated Devimon, Etemon, Myotismon, MetalSeadramon and Puppetmon, and next up should be Machinedramon.
I actually beat this thing as a kid (it's even on my Backloggery) so this is a second playthrough just for the hell of it! It's a fun little thing to play passively in the background while watching stuff etc.
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prfsnl_gmr
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Re: Together Retro April 2021 - Little Big Adventure

by prfsnl_gmr Wed Apr 14, 2021 11:35 pm

That is so awesome, MegaJ. I didn’t even know those existed, and they are perfect for this month’s TR!
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Re: Together Retro April 2021 - Little Big Adventure

by Nemoide Thu Apr 15, 2021 12:05 am

Oh man, I am still kicking myself for not getting one of those Digivices back when they first came out. I enjoyed watching Digimon on TV but was already a dedicated fan of the Digimon virtual pet; I wasn't sure what they were but I knew they weren't real virtual pets, so I wasn't that interested. I missed out!

I've been playing more Cave Noire and have completed about half of the game (although the highest levels will take a lot longer than the earliest). I'm really enjoying it! It's been a long time since I've played an old fashioned roguelike and it's scratching an itch I didn't know I had. The game is extremely simple, but also very fun. There's no story, there's no character development, it's just about exploring the dungeon and trying to stay alive! For a game that can easily be found for around $10 + shipping from Japan (go through a proxy site: ebay prices are INSANE), I'd say it's a worthwhile addition to the Game Boy collection of anyone who likes the genre.
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MegaJ
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Re: Together Retro April 2021 - Little Big Adventure

by MegaJ Thu Apr 15, 2021 12:52 am

Nemoide wrote:Oh man, I am still kicking myself for not getting one of those Digivices back when they first came out. I enjoyed watching Digimon on TV but was already a dedicated fan of the Digimon virtual pet; I wasn't sure what they were but I knew they weren't real virtual pets, so I wasn't that interested. I missed out!


There's definitely a lot more game in these than you'd expect from an LCD game- I was always super impressed by them! They're still very basic games though- you probably get a lot more from the V-pets long-term, especially since some later ones include missions and quest modes anyway. I also have another Digivice game based on the third series of the anime which is the same basic concept but with a lot more gameplay depth and flourish. These things can also connect and battle each other/certain regular Digimon V-pets, which is super cool! I battled my childhood third series Digivice against my regular 20th Anniversary updated re-release Digimon V-pet I bought new this year, and it worked perfectly! My original Digivice doesn't seem compatible though, but all things considered, that's some crazy forwards-compatibility of a probably 15 years difference!

I've started using a Japanese proxy site on my hunt for V-pets, coincidentally, so I'll definitely keep a look out for Cave Noire there too! :D


The presentation on Madou Monogatari looks great, I'd be super into that stuff, maybe I'll have to consider a modded Game Gear in the future mostly for translation purposes if enough stuff on there takes my interest! I do love the funky old-school experience of that whacked-out original screen, though. :P
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Re: Together Retro April 2021 - Little Big Adventure

by alienjesus Thu Apr 15, 2021 1:29 pm

Today I played through the rest of Madou Monogatari I for Game Gear, and I had a blast doing so.

As I progressed I eventually learned a warp spell which allowed me to go up a floor and this started making some of the navigation more confusing as I needed to think about the floors above and below me too, and not just the one I was on. I worked my way through floor 5 and 6 though, and then all the way down to the basement of the tower. After that I went up to floor 7 and solved the puzzles there which required dropping a few floors too, and finished up with the final floor, floor 8.

There were 2 final bosses and they were pretty rough, but fortunately the enemies nearby offered lots of experience and it didn't take too long to level up 5 times before trying again. Level ups in the game seem to make a big stat difference so 5 level ups was enough to beat the game.

I really enjoyed my time with Madou Monogatari I, and I'm also glad there were no maps available of the game online as making my own maps made it a lot more fun - there was nothing as brutal as some of these dungeon crawlers can have so I never got confused with my mapping as I went along. I might look at posting my own maps online somewhere in case anyone else wants one in future. I'll definitely be picking up the sequels to this game - there's 4 on the console, with Madou Monogatari I, II, III and A available.

That's my 4th game down this month, now I need to choose what's next! My shortlist of stuff I'm considering is:

- Defenders of Oasis (GG)
- Shining Force: Final Conflict (GG)
- Biomotor Unitron (NGPC)
- Dragon Warrior Monsters (GBC)
- Mario Golf (GBC)

edit: Evidence of my Monogatari maps:

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Ack
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Re: Together Retro April 2021 - Little Big Adventure

by Ack Thu Apr 15, 2021 1:59 pm

Biomotor Unitron!
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I have a movie review website now: https://moviereviewsbyamook.com/
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Re: Together Retro April 2021 - Little Big Adventure

by prfsnl_gmr Thu Apr 15, 2021 11:40 pm

@AJ

Those maps are great. So, so hardcore.

.....

I played around with a few portable RPGs tonight, but unfortunately, none of them really clicked with me:

- Rolan’s Curse mimics LoZ’s gameplay, but captures nothing of what makes that game so great. I wandered around for a bit and gave up.

- Towers: Lord Baniff’s Deceit is a first person dungeon crawler inspired by Dungeon Master that simply does not work on the GBC. You have to press the select button bring up a cursor, and I awkwardly punched a troll a few times before calling it.

- Wizardry Gaiden scares me. That game is intense, and I don’t want to spend hours rolling out a party. Maybe later, though.

- Mysterium is a weird one. I couldn’t figure out how to open the first door in the dungeon, even after much trying. I’d have to spend some time reading about this one before attempting it again.

- Cave Noire is pretty great. It plays a bit like Rogue, but success is completely dependent on learning enemy movement patterns and then sneaking around them. It has some RPG elements, but it honestly plays like a stealth game. I’ll definitely be playing this one some more later..
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Re: Together Retro April 2021 - Little Big Adventure

by SpaceBooger Fri Apr 16, 2021 6:35 am

Progressing through Dragon Warrior on the GBC.
Just finished grinding enough in the Grave of Garinham after getting the Silver Harp to get to level 13 and buy the Magic Armor. Once I get the armor I will continue progressing instead of grinding.
Link's Awakening is paused for now... I am totally hooked on Dragon Warrior. I hope to return to Zelda after beating DW1... but I may roll right into DW2.
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MegaJ
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Re: Together Retro April 2021 - Little Big Adventure

by MegaJ Sat Apr 17, 2021 1:13 am

I love the first Dragon Warrior/Quest, I've actually beaten it twice now- once on NES and once on the Super Famicom remake compilation of I and II. The first one has a great addictive simplicity and progression to it, but II is very unforgiving and makes you run around a lot, especially early on! There's more to II, but I actually prefer the simplicity of I.
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