August 17, 2017

[Game 064] Light of Indra (NES - 1987)

Translation by KingMike

Welp, it doesn't look like I'm going to be done with Morrowind anytime soon, so I'd better get Inconsolable back into the mix before it becomes completely defunct.  I also kinda miss having something to riff on, as MW is a nearly flawless game (thanks to fan patches and mods).  There's also been three more translations and they were all originally released prior to the date I'm currently at, which means I'll have to complete them first before carrying on.  And don't think that I'm completely unaware that translations done at this point have had a low priority for a good, goddamn reason.  At least I shouldn't have to worry about finding stuff to bitch about.  So let's take it back to the class of '87 with the Light of Indra, which gave me a major grievance before I even left the first town.

Oh sure, I've heard this line before.

Despite buddy's assurance to the contrary, most townsfolk couldn't even be bothered to acknowledge my existence, much less tell me something that "may" help me.  The town has about twenty residents and fully 4/5ths of them wouldn't react at all to my constant humping.  Since this wasn't the first time I've come across NPCs that are functionally equivalent to furniture, I paid it no heed and continued on my way.  Well, it wasn't until the third town or so (all with ~20 peeps) that I realized that I had to be talking directly to a NPC's face before parlaying could begin.  So of course I had to revisit the other two towns and see what nuggets of wisdom I might had missed.

The payoff was so worth it.

Months of not playing crap had given me the patience of a saint, so even this odd approach to interaction didn't bother me ("Quirky", I thought.).  As I backtracked it, however, a pattern began to emerge that took all of my available patience and rubbed it all over its sweaty, hairy ballsack.  Considering that about 80% of the townsfolk are mobile, one would think that they'd move in a simply programmed random fashion, yeah?  Well, that one would be wrong.  Wrong and stupid (and ugly).  No, the developers thought it wise to take the extra steps necessary to make sure all the NPCs will never face me on their own accord.  This means that to interact with one of these colossal jackasses, one has to dash in front of them before they have a chance to turn away.  Even worse, sometimes a townsfolk will outright stop moving if they are facing a wall and I'm directly behind them, waiting for them to move into one of the other two cardinal directions.  You know what happens to NPCs that pull that kind of shit in Morrowind?...  They die.  They die in the raging blaze of a 100-point fireball.  Alas, I can get no such satisfaction here.

Narrow corridors too?  Why you dirty, son-of-a...

But I digress.  So, how's the rest of the game so far?  Unsurprisingly, it's a Dragon Quest clone but it also has some inspiration from the first Legend of Zelda.  Not only does the overworld have the same look and feel as LoZ, it also has visible enemies moving around in real-time, initiating standard, turn-based combat upon touching.  But wait!  There's more!  It also incorporates LoZ's hidden staircases which must be uncovered via objection interaction.  Here it's just shoving boulders around, which is a far cry from LoZ's blowing shit up and setting shit on fire, but it's serviceable.

Man, what I wouldn't give for a
10-pack of bombs right about now.

All of LoI's treasure chests are hidden in this manner, at least in the overworld (dungeons have the staircases already visible).  It's imperative that most of these are found, as they contain the lion's share of the available gold.  It's not always gold that's found in these locations, either, sometimes a wizard lives there who will babble nonsense at me until I leave (see third screenshot for example of a town wizard).  At first I maybe it was some kind of word puzzle, but it turned out I just needed to learn their language from an instructor (only took a second).  The nonsense now sounded like magic spells being taught.  I only had the aptitude to learn some of them, however, and Saba couldn't learn any.  Oh?  What's that?  I haven't mentioned my good buddy Saba yet?  Yeah, this ain't no solo adventure; Saba joined me early on for a tidy sum of gold.  He's a strong man who can push heavier boulders than I can and he can also swing a mean sword.  He also gets his own sprite on the overworld, endlessly following in my footsteps, albeit at a much slower pace.  Sabs doesn't bother to dodge enemies either, resulting in much more combat than necessary.  Sometimes he'll get lost/stuck on a previous screen (especially in dungeons), and I can either quickly backtrack to get him or spend MP on the first spell I received, Ahmed, which supposedly warps him to my side.  I say supposedly because I've never actually used it because of the principle of the thing.  Why the hell should I have to spend MP for a code routine that should be automatically run whenever a screen change occurs?  Don't punish me for your incompetent pathing routines, game.  I'll just spend the two seconds it takes to jog back and pick his sorry ass up.

On second thought, Saba, you need a time out anyway.

Well, it's taken this long to even mention what my primary quest is, so you know it's totally not going to be derivative in any way, shape, or form.

Whoa, what a twist!

Actually, that is just the intro quest for the first area.  The main quest involves retrieving the titular light which was stolen by dark creatures from the god, Byrn, who promptly took a nap, allowing all these evil monsters to infest the land.  Nice job, Byrn, you remind me of another jackass god I know.  For now though, I've got a princess to worry about, who needs a dragon fang to cure her poisoned body.

Will a red one do?  We also
have them in green and blue.

Killing the red dragon was embarrassingly easy.  Apparently the dragon has an invulnerable shield, but I never got to see it in action since the first thing I did was fire a silver arrow from my golden bow which I knew would do something (thanks actually useful townsfolk!).  Saba followed with a single attack which finished the poor booger off.  One cured princess later, an ecstatic king gave his permission to allow me to cross a bridge into the next area.  I'll be back, though, as half the wizards I talked to told me I couldn't learn their stupid spell, which undoubtedly means that a third member will be joining soon.  I'm also mentally preparing myself for the inevitable jump in encounters that will happen with two morons blundering around the screen.

May 07, 2017

The Summer of Shen

Taking a break from the blog for the next few months.  I'd like to be able to say that it's due to some real life issue, like a kid or a job promotion, but no, it's vidja related.  Playing Morrowind for the first time ever (only played Arena and Daggerfall before) and I'm completely enthralled with it and especially with all the mods available.  Hopefully immersing myself in a really good game will refresh me enough to have endure the good odds that I'll be playing another crappy one for Inconsolable.  I also plan to buy a chunk of cheese the size of a car battery and just... just bite into it like it's an apple.  So have a good summer, y'all, and remember to keep your stick on the ice.

March 30, 2017

Last Armageddon - Ranking

Story & World

The horrendous translation does more damage than just blur the finer details of the story, it makes every line seem like a joke and really destroys the overall serious tone.  A proper translation would see more points here, but I can only work with what I've given.  In the future, if a translation is this abysmal, the game will be skipped.  Exploring was still quite enjoyable and I appreciated the addition of first-person dungeons in addition to the standard overhead view.  Though finding text was nearly pointless, at least there were a good number of cutscenes to gawk at.  5/20

Character Development

It's all about character options in LA; I was actually a bit surprised by how many.  Controlled stat growth, magic, special abilities, equipment, and consumables all give one a plethora of choices, although there is some redundancy.  I would have liked to seen more of a difference between the different parties as well, in regard to available spells and abilities.  The biggest innovation here was the on-demand item creation system.  No more waiting until the "next town" and then just upgrading to equipment that just happens to be slightly more powerful.  Right from the start, one has a choice to purchase basic weapons/armour or save up for a bit ticket item.  Although the metamorphosis of demons didn't really change the character too much, it was still cool to see what kind of abominations would arise from the demons getting their freak on.  Having the parties switch based on a timer was another sweet innovation, although LA dropped the ball having the third party function so much differently from the other two.  17/20

Combat & Monsters

Party-based combat is always nice to have and the way that it's tied to increasing character stats behooves the player to be mindful in all battles.  Demons that can't augment their attack or defense with equipment have to be given special consideration as to their role in combat.  The biggest drawback is the ease of developing characters too far ahead of the curve, making battles incredibly boring.  There really should have been a point where weak foes stopped increasing stats.

The enemy robots and "bio-creatures" were both imaginative and numerous in design, and the translation's complete hack job on their names actually made them seem even more alien and incomprehensible.  While they were able to inflict just the two standard status effects (sleep and poison), more impressively they actually had some semblance of artificial intelligence.  Rather than just attack at random all the time, they would often gang up on a single character, a devastating tactic when they had a full eight members.  At least, it would have been devastating if they didn't miss 100% of the time.  9/20

Graphics & Sound

Lots of nicely done cutscenes and a very creative bestiary keep the peepers stimulated whilst enduring the eternal grinding.  The bosses could have been larger and more detailed — it's not like there was a background or something taking up room.  The first-person dungeons likewise lacked any real distinguishing features; the occasional door being the only landmark worth noting.  The tunes were nothing too special on their own, but they did seem appropriate to the setting, at least to my ears.  12/20

Gameplay

The robust economy does an excellent job keeping the parties poor; it would have taken even more grinding for me to purchase the best equipment for everybody.  Knowing the cost of all the equipment also makes for additional considerations when purchasing.  I initially purchased the cheapest equipment early, because the characters actually needed it then.  I then planned to upgrade only if it seemed the characters needed it.  Of course, that never happened, which brings me to my final point.

As much as I enjoyed many of the aspects of Last Armageddon, it ultimately fails by making it way too easy to become overpowered.  A game with absolutely no challenge isn't something I enjoy at all — it really makes the game feel like a chore.  However, once one knows what to do and avoids the grinding time sinks, I think LA would become quite playable as long as the parties are pushed as hard as possible.  In a somewhat ironic way, the challenge would come from not letting the characters get too powerful.  Since the translation is partially to blame for the grinding, I'll be a little lenient here and not just smash a zero into the score, as tempting as that is.  However, I'm still holding LA completely responsible for the potential month-long wait for the sylvan team — that shit's mad dumb.  5/20

Final Ranking:  48/100