October 27, 2020

[Game 071] Shining in the Darkness (GEN - 1991)

 
Yes!  Yes!  Finally, a non-translated, non-JRPG for poor me to endure.  I've never played Shining in the Darkness before, although I have played its successors, Shining Force 1 and 2.  Those games are quite a bit different from SitD, being closer to a strategy RPG, like Fire Emblem or Final Fantasy Tactics.  The inaugural entry in the Shining series, however, is a straight-up dungeon crawler, which means (squeee!) breaking out the graph paper and mechanical pencil.  I knew I was in for something different when the game decided to not have a title screen at all.  I had to screencap something though, so you get an old man letting one rip instead.  The plot is nothing to write home about — kidnapped princess, kingdom in peril due to foozle, only this small band of plucky, young adventurers can possibly save us all, etc.  I do like the antagonist, Dark Sol, here as he's not content to just sit at the end of the game, waiting to be revealed when the party gets around to destroying him at the peak of their power.  No, D.S. gets all up into the king's grill, appearing in the throne room, bragging about his princess-kidnapping prowess, and then buggering off before anybody has the foresight to start drawing their weapons.  I was immediately enlisted to start investigating the whereabouts of said princess, but where to start?  Well, luckily the king himself had already done a deep and thorough reconnaissance and he shared with me the results of his intel.

Yeah, thanks for narrowing it down, king.

Well, I don't need a whole lot of convincing to get my ass into a gridded dungeon, so I headed into the nearby town to get some equipment and provisions and maybe stop by the tavern for a little drinkie-poo.  The tavern was bumpin' and I heard some stuff about some friends I guess I have that I'm sure to meet up with later.  I also had to put up with some passive insults from some of the more surly denizens of the bar, but don't you worry, I made sure that they checked their privilege by the end of the conversation.

Listen here, pole, I don't care how erect you
are, that ageist buuuullshit is illegit.  Quit
triggering my micro-aggressions, bitch.

Tired of being oppressed by the poletriarchy, I sauntered over to the weapon shop to start gearing up for the quest.  I was completely surprised to find that the shop was run by none other than the dwarf from the Golden Axe arcade game!  He's even got a smiling portrait of one of the gnomes that he kicks the crap out of for potions, which raises all kinds of questions.

Are... are they actually friends?
Mutually beneficial relationship?
Hardcore master-slave BDSM?

Anyway, after getting my EQ settled, it was back to the palace to get the key to the labyrinth.  Time was of the essence, as who knows what the princess might be enduring right now, as we speak!  I burst into the throne room and announced my readiness to the minister in charge of the investigation but apparently that breached protocol and I was supposed to talk to the moron king first.  

Wait... have you been waiting for me?

Then the king — this fucking king, I tell ya — immediately just passed it over to the minister anyway.

Do you even care that your daughter is
probably in a hardcore master-slave BDSM
relationship with Dark Sol right now?

Well, someone needed to take charge, so I grabbed the key and headed next-door to get this show on the road.

Wha?
You don't keep your monster-infested
labyrinths right 'round yonder?
What an idiot you are.

Aahhh!  I eased back into dungeon crawling as smoothly as an old man lowering himself into a nice, hot bath.  Soon I was up to my knees in monster entrails and lovin' every minute of it.  No denizen of the maze was spared my wrath as I sliced and diced my way into some needed loot and levels.

C'mere ya little squirt.  Yeah, I see you there.

Eventually I had to head back to town, if only to wipe the obscene amounts of gore off of me.  Of course, I was also going to frequent the tavern for a little top me up and it was here that I met the first of my friends, the sorcerous super-bitch Pyra.  She was laying into the barkeep big time over who knows what and then, when she saw me, she immediately started ragging out on me too.

If we're not in a relationship, some dumb
bint.  If we are, the love of my life.

On the way out of the tavern, Pyra bumped into a lizardman warrior named Gila and then, he too, was subjected to a tremendous tongue-lashing, blaming him for what was clearly her fault.  He handled the situation very smoothly; I'll give him credit for not drawing his sword on her.  Gila excused himself and informed us that he was just on his way to the labyrinth and was in a rush.  As he walked away from us, Pyra then decided to cast a slow spell on him to help increase his chances of being murdered.  Damn, that be cold.

She doesn't even wait for him to be
out of earshot before announcing it.
Pyra is hard as fuck.

We then headed to the temple to pick up our little dweeby cleric bud, Milo, who doesn't get a screenshot apparently.  Sorry, Milo, but maybe you should have tried killing at least a few of your fellow citizens before leaving town.  At any rate, now with a full party and plenty of healing magic, the dungeon was ready for maximal exploration and murder.  Monster group sizes increased dramatically, having upwards of six particpants in a single battle, but even so, most fights were easily dealt with.  The only close battles were the ones where the monsters decided to focus on the weakly armoured Pyra, but Milo usually managed to bust off a heal before she perished.  This happened a few times and soon both Milo and I were getting earfuls about how we're not protecting her enough, and we're taking too long killing the monsters, and why did I forget her birthday four years ago.  In order to get it to stop, I decided to purchase some new armour for her and entered the menu screen to equip her new gear.  SitD's equipment screen has cute icons for every slot on a character, including when there is nothing equipped at all.  Even better, each character has their own personal "empty" slot, like the head slot which shows each character's hair style.  At first, I thought it was just the head slot that had a unique icon, but learnt I was wrong after removing Pyra's default robe and being treated to an icon of the perfect woman.

I also kept pushing the button in an attempt
to remove even more but it didn't work.

Padding Pyra up helped a lot in keeping her complaints down and we were back on track to continue the delve.  Things were going swimmingly until we ran into our old friend, Gila.  He'd been getting his ass handed to him FOR SOME REASON and now needed our help to get back to the town.

It's the least we can do since apparently we're not
offering any healing spells and also because we're
directly responsible for your profuse bleeding.


Gila was a bro though, occasionally getting in a hit from the back ranks for some bonus damage, but he left as soon as we hit the town.  I was waiting for Pyra to do something to him, but she's actually been pretty quiet lately.  Maybe all she needed was some new clothes to get her to shut up, but if I know women (and I don't), the novelty will soon be wearing off and Milo and I will be back up to our armpits in belittlements and denigrations.  Our only hope is to grind out some coin and make sure we have enough to upgrade her armour when she starts getting crusty again.

September 28, 2020

Ganbare Goemon Gaiden - Ranking

Story & World

I found the story to be lackadaisical and disjointed; I rarely had any idea what I was suppose to be doing outside of completing a nearby quest for whatever town I happened to be near.  Stuff just kinda happens on the straightforward journey through the game, or at least that's what it seemed like to me.  Perhaps this is all canon to the series, I have no idea.  The only driving force I had to get me through the game was just wanting to get to the end of the game.  Not good.  However, the odd and whimsical world goes to great lengths to charm and distract the player, so it's not entirely bad.  Ebisumaru was a hoot and there were plenty of other quirky little scenes that sometimes even managed to get a hearty guffaw from this surly old curmudgeon.

Character Development

Four stat system (Atk, Def, Agi, Luk) with static increases each level, with boosts from equipment accounting for about half of the total power (though usually just attack and defence).  Three of the four party members had access to jutsu techniques, each having a decent amount of uniques while still sharing the crucial healing spells.  And one will be able to utilize a lot of them because: a) most of them are cheap, and b) they work on bosses.  Consumables mostly replicate jutsu effects but I always kept a few of each type around just in case of character death.  There was also one piece of equipment called Clay which was pretty cool because it could be put into any weapon or armour slot and it'd just work.  Of course, since the UI doesn't show any stat changes, it was a real pain in the ass to have to equip and de-equip through all the slots in order to figure out its stats.
 
I liked the initial progression of starting with two members and then picking up the others a bit down the corridor.  I almost thought this was going to be a party-swappable game when Yae and Lin were introduced, but it turned out Lin was just a temporary Yae replacement.

Combat & Monsters

Standard JRPG structure with turns being missed if an enemy dies before a character's action.  There's not a lot of damage jutsu in the game, so most battles are pure melee.  The only status ailment monsters can inflict is the easily curable poison and it's rare the creature that can use any group-damaging jutsu.  So while the combat system might have that classic blandness, the monsters themselves are an impressively diverse assemble.  Monster design inspiration had no holds barred and paid no heed to era, culture, or reason.  One could find themselves battling orcs and samurai one minute only to be fighting dinosaurs and appliances the next.  Unfortunately, this random assortment of everything completely destroys any kind of world cohesion and even my positronic imagination couldn't manage to weave all the parts together into something comprehendible.

Graphics & Sound

Above average graphics with lots of background variety in each of the areas.  Lots of monster sprites, mostly all of which are fairly well done, but, most impressively, there was no palette swapping that I can recall.  Every monster had a "getting sacked" sprite, including all the bosses, and I really appreciated that even the character's portraits were given the same treatment.  Music was average and was serviceable, just like much of the rest of the game.

Gameplay

By midgame, Goemon and the gang had more than enough cash to handle any new town purchasing, except for one piece of armour that showed up in a few shops selling for 65,000 golds, well out of the reach of party funds.  I could have ground me up some extra cash to buy it, but GGG was already easy enough without acquiring some uber-equipment.  The game is predictably quite short and feels a lot like a bunch of side quests that are lined up one right after the other, rather than anything epic.  The goofiness throughout the game should be more than enough to keep one's interests somewhat piqued whilst slogging through the serviceable gameplay.



FINAL RANKING

September 20, 2020

Ganbare Goemon Gaiden - End Game

*sigh* Goemon did not end up delivering any jackable skin pics. The closest I got was when my main man, Ebi-san, tried to peek in on Yae during one of their spa visits. He, of course, got caught and then clocked by Yae, sending his slick, naked, little ham-loaf of a body flying through the air in a humourous manner. 

Dude, are you sure you're a ninja?

Oh well, with no more worries about errant boners getting in the way, I was free to continue investigating... things... and complete my quest for... uh, stuff.

Oh right, I was looking for this, wasn't I?

So, yeah, just stumbled upon the main quest objective, with no build-up or anything. In fact, if it weren't in the subtitle of the game, one would never know it was a quest at all.  Goemon could use the fabled Golden Pipe as a weapon, which was cool, although it got outclassed by another pipe almost immediately. So what was the point of having... wait, what was this about a giant robot?

Oh... that giant robot.

Yep, for the rest of the game, it was all about chasing down and beating up some giant robots. After one such battle, the entire party got morphed into clones of Ebisumaru, for reasons I forgot.

Heh heh... to the spa, lads!

I was all set to leave them like this for the rest of the game, but the guy who could cure it was in the next town, which I was aware of. I was going to make it a point to avoid talking to anyone inside a house in that town, but unfortunately for me, he was waiting right at the entrance to the town and got the drop on me (bastard).  Then some stuff happened involving explosives, I'm fairly certain.  Then... uhh.. oo! We met a cyborg version of Fake Goemon, a fake version of Goemon, who wasn't mentioned in the first posting but was totally met there.  The first time he was an easy fight and his new Robocop outfit must have been made out of cardboard because he was even easier the second time.  He was all intimidating-like, spending a turn "analyzing" our weakness and making beep and bloop noises before delivering a massive blow of 1 HP.

I guess I shouldn't be too hard on the guy,
he is missing the back part of his head.


Soon after, I encountered the most difficult part of the journey, solely because I failed to properly manage the party inventory, which happens when I don't give a fuck about the game.  I had been relying on the non-Goemon members of the party to keep everyone going with heals, as they all had some form of healing available to them.  The only healing items were ones that I had found by chance along the way, even though GGG has a very generously sized inventory.  Well, wouldn't ya know it, there's a triggered event that has everyone but Goemon captured by two dudes carrying a palanquin.  Goemon was pushed to the limit but he managed to persevere and defeat a mini-boss, though I did have to burn through all the "heal all party" items I was saving.  After the fight, he was free to plant a beanstalk so he could climb up to the flying tower where I guess his friends obviously were.

What?  Do you know of a better way
to get into a rocket tower?


Reunited again, Goemon and the gang headed to the next town to continue hunting down robots, only to find — oh... no, wait, they decided to get regular jobs for one day for some reason.  I guess they really needed the extra 310 gold to add their 48K+ pile.  Goemon spent the day going "Drrr", Koban gave babies piggyback rides or trafficked them or something?, and Yae worked at the local ice cream shoppe, the Triple Cone, also known as the Triple-C by the cool kids.

I don't know what the hell Ebi is doing, but I'm
pretty sure that he's naked and that it's illegal.


The next town I had some major trouble figuring out where to go next.  The surrounding lands were quite dangerous and I wanted to make sure the party set off in the correct direction to avoid unnecessary random encounters.  I talked to all the townsfolk, but they were so vague and cryptic that I had to talk to each of them several times before I started to piece it all together.

Is that where the bathrooms are?
Because I'm asking about the bathrooms.


The Goemon bunch started fighting their way up the mountain, which was filled with dinosaurs, so I guess we're doing dinosaurs now.

Oh wait, there's a UFO in here, thank god.

Pemo, the alien dude inside, needed the two MacGuffin gems I had from way earlier in the game to fuel his flying lantern and rewarded Ebi with the Pemo flute, which kinda sucked because I had just bought him a new, expensive flute in the last town.  Even stranger, I found another flute in a chest immediately after the unavoidable scene with Pemo, except this flute was slightly worse than Pemo's.  Then some other stuff happened and finally Goemon and pals could end this game by battling the giant robot they'd been chasing all this time.

I never get sick of the derp.

Ooo, sike!  That wasn't really the end boss... THIS IS! 
 
Or is it?

Sike!  It isn't!  It was some little moustached dude.  I want to say he's the emperor, but I'm not entirely sure.

He has a second form so you
know he's legit final boss.


After defeating and stopping the emperor from doing whatever it was that he was doing, peace returns again to the lands for Goemon and friends.  But not only for them, but for the Shenster too, since I'm almost out of this glut of low-priority translated JRPGs and into some more decent games.

This game gets me.

Don't think I'll be letting y'all off without a little monstage action.  Some of the best bits of the game are in this gif, which says a lot about the rest of it.

Oh hey, there's that Fake Goemon
pic I forgot to care about.