June 29, 2012

Dragon Quest II - Crestfallen

As predicted, Maria lacks more than Kain in melee but she can still take a punch pretty good while defending, so she's a good damage absorber that can heal herself.  She starts out at level one (just like Kain did) and quickly gained a handful of levels, expanding out her magical repertoire and thickening up her skin.  Kain and her share some of the same spells (critical spells such as Healmore) but Maria accumulates magic points quicker.  A lot of exploring got done during this time and the party eventually found themselves at the harbour town of Lupegana.  It would be here that a sturdy sailing ship would be acquired but first some heroics.

The following carnage was too bloody
and gruesome to be shown.

As an aside, remember when the original Shen in DQ1 stopped by the quaint town of Maira to do massive bong hits?  Well, the puffing was again encountered here but this time it's very obvious that I completely misunderstood what a puff is.

Sure, let me just get my pipe and...
why are you on your knees?

The whole puffing scene happens just as in the original.  I still thought it was a pot reference at this point until I talked to her again to see what she says when I just say no to puffing.

Eh?  What does being gay... are we
still talking about cheeba cheeba?

Yes, it was only then that it dawned on me.  The DQ1 girl comments on how handsome Shen is and this one fishes for a cute compliment.  The whole screen goes black during both encounters.  They both tell Shen to "please come again".  It's not even a blowjob reference (dammit, I was STILL wrong); a little research shows that it's a titty-face-rubbing scene.  So the dude that I thought was puffing to ease his sleep apnea was just dreaming about boobs then?  Thanks, Japan, but (I can't believe I'm saying this) I don't always need titties in the media I consume.  If anything, at least have it be a developed character like Maria and not some random skank.  Oh shit, I just Rule 34'ed myself, didn't I?

I'm sailing away from
this train of thought.

Ah, the cool ocean breezes invigorate the crew as they begin to explore the skank-free high seas for new adventures.  After wandering aimlessly for awhile (I blame the ocean winds), the gang came across a familiar sight (if they were around 100 years ago).

I remember you from such
games as Dragon Quest 1!

The entire continent from the original is represented here, albeit in compressed form and missing some towns.  Not a whole lot to do other than run down memory lane and visit the grandson of an old friend.

Dragonlords also have descendants.

This Dragonlord was quite friendly and chatted it up with the group.  Probably lonely from sitting on the same throne for years at a time, hatching exactly zero schemes.  He tells the characters about the five crests they need to gather in order to meet some wizard who can help them defeat Hargon.  Where to start looking?  There's still so much more to explore so it's time to let fate intervene and let it lead the party where it may.  Randomly anchoring to new lands leads to many new monsters to fight; keeping the party distracted from the quest at hand.  The characters are tough enough now to handle most of these new creatures fairly easily.

Still couldn't kill any of these
little bastards, though.

The party had netted two of the crests (Star and Moon) before disaster stuck.  While resting at the inn in the water town of Beranule, Kain falls ill, most likely due to a curse from Hargon.

Maria must be translating
Kain's sign language.

Normally Shen wouldn't mind being stuck with only Maria (rawr) but the group just blew 21K golds on a Power Shield for Kain.  Oh well.  The quest for crests must go on the backburner while a cure is sought out.  Here's hoping it's somewhere on this small island and not halfway across the bloody world.

June 21, 2012

[Game 022] Dragon Quest II (NES - 1987) (SNES Remake)

Translation by RPGONE & Evilteam

The second installment of the fantanbulous Dragon Quest series kicks off exactly one century after the last one.  The descendants of the legendary ShenNung from DQ1 have been ruling the various regions during this time but their life of leisure and crapulence is about to come to an end.  It begins in the sleepy castle of Moonbrook, ruled wisely by a beardly king and his charming daughter, Maria.  All of a sudden the castle is being overrun with demons, summoned by the nefarious Hargon.  The bearded one makes haste to hide his precious daughter before being cornered by a couple of demons.  Baring their ichorous fangs, the hellspawn slowly encroach towards the kindly old king, obviously jealous of the rich, fullness of his beard.  Then shit gets real as the king opens a can of whupass and just starts givin' it to the demons.  Unfortunately, a different demon sneaks up behind the king and burns him to a cinder.

The beard survived though.

Princess to be rescued — check.  The last solider, wounded but alive, bravely tries to make his way to Castle Laurasia to warn the king there.  Every step and breath sends agony coursing through his body.  Even from a distance, the soldier can still feel the heat from the inferno that consumes Moonbrook.  His home.  His family.  His entire way of life.  All gone forever.


Hey, at least you still have
your healt... oh right.

Struggling across at least five screens worth, the drained soldier crawls into Laurasia before collapsing at the feet of the castle guards.  He demands to see the king at once and the soldiers carry him to the staircase leading to the king's audience chamber.  Spilling chunks of entrails onto the royal carpet, the soldier is once again forced to crawl as none of the nobles help him out.  He's not even allowed to yell across the room; he has to get within earshot of the king and use his indoor voice.  Of course, after delivering the crucial message, our heroic soldier gives up the ghost and is promptly forgotten by all the nobles.


But not before the king
snatches his wallet.

Prince ShenNung, descendant of ShenNung, is questified to put a stop to Hargon's madness.  He's too much a puss to do it alone so he is sent to seek out two other Nung descendants and put them on the payroll.  Before he can even get out of the castle, however, he is accosted by someone who must be channelling princess Laura from DQ1.


Oh asterisk, I could never
forget whoever you are.

The first companion is a prince located in the northerly castle of Sumaltria.  For now, Shen must face the fearsome beasts of the lands by himself.  What horrible monstrosities await Shen in the untamed wilds?



Battles have become more complex from the one-on-one mode in DQ1.  Multiple enemies can now be fought and often different species of monsters will be found joining forces in their attempts to destroy Nung.  Without any companions or even any innate magical ability, Shen often can have a hard time against a large group of foes.


Arrrgh!  Can't... resist... *gasp*
triple adorableness attack.

The graphics heavily resemble the ones from the first game which is no surprise since both games are on the same cart.  It's so great that the developers kept the all the imagery in the game looking very close to the NES version; they just used the 16-bit power of the SNES to focus and lushify the existing imagery.  Whereas some remakes of games end up "upgrading" the original beyond recognition, the DQ2 remake is still giving me plenty of amps worth of nostalgia despite never having played it before.


Purple is still to be avoided.

Acquiring the second companion leads Shen on a wild goose chase through some castles and caves.  Nothing that Shen's new weapons and levels can't handle though (as well as copious amounts of Medical Herbs).  Prince Kain is not well versed in swordplay but makes up for that by being able to cast magic.  He comes installed with a Heal spell so Shen is overjoyed at not having to carry around piles of Medical Herbs anymore.


Sword fight!  Sword fight!

The next companion, the lovely princess Maria, is a little more difficult to find.  Since her home of Moonbrook was destroyed, she could be anywhere but it's as good a place to start as any.  Some of the poor souls that died here are still wandering about in the form of ghostly flames.  Being dead doesn't stop them from being chatty, though, and soon Shen and the other guy learn that Maria has been turned into a dog.  The curse can only be broken by finding the Mirror of Ra which is hidden in a poisonous swamp (of course).  After that, it's a simple matter of finding the poochy princess and ending that curse.


I hope your old self likes killing.  Lots.

A quick look at Maria's stats shows that she's even more magicky than Kain which probably means she's even worse in melee than he is.  She also starts at level one so there will need to be grinding done before her true potential shows itself.  With the two companions now gathered, the titanic trio can focus on what really matters — stopping Hargon and his evil horde of demons!

June 14, 2012

Cosmic Wars - Ranking

Story & World

I like the fact that in addition to the regular nebulae and asteroid fields one would expect in space, there are also vast regions consisting of crystals of all different shapes and sizes.  Ships can enter and get a defense bonus from this at a cost of movement.  I always envision this loss of movement is due to the pilots tripping balls over being in the midst of, what must be, a celestial-scaled version of a Pink Floyd concert.  A wafer-thin story at the beginning as to what causes the war is still better than nothing.

The single sliver of interaction occasionally comes during the hiring process of the game.  Most of the time, a hiring request gets at least three applicants.  There is no interaction here as the captain is just chosen from a list.  Occasionally, though, the hiring results in a message saying that you are being ignored and end up having no candidates to choose from.  Ignoring is sorta an interaction, I guess?  1/20

Character Development

Fleet captains gain experience for successful attacks and gain a rank level (e.g. Rank C becomes Rank B) in addition to random increases of a single point in any of the four attributes.  Valuable in the long run as ships can be traded between fleets.  This enables them to reinforce which is crucial in the causality-heavy wars of the cosmos.  As for the stats themselves, they consist of the suit symbols from regular playing cards.  There's nothing in-game telling what the differences are but I went with the assumption that clubs increased offense and mainly hired according to that.

Each weapon system, regardless of type, comes with four ammos.  These can be replenished at certain points on the map (starbase terrain or being next to a controlled planet) or by a ammo ship.  3/20

Combat & Monsters

The terrain types are well implemented for space and mimic the terrestrial terrains found in similar games.  Many terrains slow down ships and the rate of how much they slow depends on the ship type.  Small ships like the Vic Viper can rip through asteroid fields with no penalty while larger ships might have their (already low) movement cut up to half.  Proper management of fleet movement, both in combat and between solar systems, becomes the most vital strategic component (mostly due to the lax strong/weak system previously mentioned).

Lots of different unit types to play with.  About half the ship types have an additional slightly souped-up version with a corresponding increase in cost.  Every ship has a weakness to a certain type of weapon, of which there are three types and one of those is only on a few ship designs.  Since most ships carry two different weapon systems, this means that they will usually have the proper weapon to do maximum damage.  This is a negative in my books, as I prefer the more rigid strong and weak system as found in Famicom Wars.  Under the Cosmic Wars system, it makes less of a difference as to which ship you send to engage another.  10/20

Graphics & Sound

Good contrast between the two nations; units are different in colour and in depiction.  Terrain tiles are all very distinctive as well.  Battle animations show some nicely detailed ships duking it out although each side's ships have a sameness about them (which actually makes sense for a star fleet).  The main tune that plays definitely is kickin' but it sounds like it'd be more appropriate for a platformer.  Space needs slow and plodding music with a touch of scariness.  12/20

Gameplay

Capturing planets is the only means in which to gather more resources.  To add a little more depth, captured planets are able to have money sunk into them which increases their resource output as well as raising their defenses.  Ship prices and usage are varied enough to facilitate critical thinking in fleet composition.  In the early game, after spending the initial wad of cash, it becomes difficult to create full 16 ship fleets (at least with ships worth a damn).  The random events that affect money are too overpowered, too frequent and just disrupts the entire game.  The other random events were fine.

Controls were thankfully good as on the bigger maps, there will be many fleets, consisting of up to 16 ships, going at least three times per turn (up to six if an enemy is present).

Takes a hit for no campaign mode (at least let us carry over a captain or two).  When the initial fleets butt heads, it is a dramatically good battle with both sides losing most of their forces.  Fairly soon, though, one side starts to massively outproduce the other and then it becomes a slaughterspace.  The mopping up phase ends taking up the majority of the time.  The computer needs to learn how to get his flagship (with the experience-laden captain) out of the solar system after a massive battle and get reinforced.  9/20

Final Ranking:  35/100

June 12, 2012

Cosmic Wars - End Game


Cosmic Wars paints a bleak picture for the future of humanity.  Not only do they start with less planets and cash money than the Bacteroids, they also almost always get DOOMed (a random event) within the first five turns.  Getting doomed means absolutely no money generated for the turn, effectively crippling the entire nation.  No money for repairing and reloading starships.  No money to improve a planet's defenses and economy.  Worst of all, no money for building a fleet that turn.  Doesn't help that the Bacterians usually end up with a money boosting random event, ensuring they're able to build a super fleet to go against whatever shitty ships I can scrape together.  Doom is a bit harsh for a strategy game where there is only a single resource.  No more than 50%, I say!  And even that should be fairly rare.  So, staying true to my human roots, did I manage to buckle down and persevere against all odds during humanity's darkest hour?...  Or did I (also staying true to my human roots) just turncoat?

I, for one, welcome our new
Bacterian overlords.

There wasn't a whole lot of tension throughout any of the scenarios played.  It became evident very early on who would be the victor.  With the six rounds of battle each turn, opposing fleets generally end up decimating each other the first time they meet.  It became a race to see who could conquer as many neutral worlds as possible the quickest in order to outproduce the enemy.  This involves having the slow-ass bombers struggle through the terrain in each solar system in order to feebly bomb worlds.  If they take too much damage from return fire (and they will), they can hobble to the nearest space station to very slowly get repaired.  Normally, in a very long game, spending this much time not fighting isn't so bad; you do it once and benefit from it over the next few hours.  Most of my games didn't last more than five turns before DOOM sealed my doom.  So every replay, I'm spending three quarters of the time just taking over the same planets in the same solar systems over and over.  And watching the computer slowly do the same thing during its turn.  I should have just picked a medium sized universe instead of the most hugemungous one.

All my crying and whining is completely negated by the existence of one ship: the Star Gun (X-Cannon for the Bacteroids).  This is the BFG-9000 of Cosmic Wars.  Instead of yammering on about how jawesome it is, I'll let the animation speak for itself, in all its majesty.


Say 'allo to my little friend!

June 01, 2012

[Game 021] Cosmic Wars (NES - 1989)

Translation by TransBRC

Cosmic Wars is set in the Gradius universe which is known far more for its side-scrolling shoot 'em ups.  Japan likes to make everything and anything into RPGs or strategy games and Cosmic Wars is one of the more plausible crossovers.  It plays out very similar to Famicom Wars except it's set in spaaaaaaaaace.  Two factions are available: the human Gradians or the alien Bacterians.  The factions are cosmetic only as each side has the same selection of ships, differing only in name and appearance.  Most ships have a resistance or weakness to certain types of weapons, discovered through trial and error.  The majority of ships carry two different payload types which prevents a lot of ships from becoming a 'weakest link'.  Ships prices vary wildly, ranging from 100 to 6500 spacebucks.  Each fleet can hold up to 16 different ships allowing for a myriad of possible mixes.  Further augmenting a fleet's power is the hiring and assignment of a commander for each fleet.  Commanders start off with certain base stats (initially offering more $ will tend to net better commanders) which improve when successful in battle.

Shades in space, Chadwick?
Consider yourself hired!

Unfortunately, there is no campaign mode; just a series of single universe maps which progressively add more and more solar systems.  Each solar system is a map unto itself so some of the later universes will surely become epic in their own right.  During each faction's turn, after the purchase and hiring phases, the combat phase is further broken down into three segments, with each side able to take an action per segment (if both sides have fleets available).  This means that a single fleet will get a total of six (!) segments in which to act before a faction is able to repeat the purchase and hiring phases.  This generally means a fleet will be mostly decimated before reinforcements are available (at least in the smaller universe maps).  Since the first map has just the two home systems, the Gradians (who act first) are able to launch an attack on the Bacterian home system and get three segments of action before the Bacts can even deploy their first fleet!

The first universe map.
Also known as Cakewalk.

Three segments of movement with no resistance gets us right at the doorstep of the Bacterian homeworld.


They're lucky the green swirlies
slowed me down.

I experimented with most of the ships before deciding that the bulk of my fleets will be made up of the classic Vic Vipers (the ship used in most of the shoot 'em ups) and Tommys (troopers in mobile battle suits).  Both are cheap and have high movement rates while still being able to hold their own against the larger ship classes (especially with terrain defense bonuses).

Vic Vipers are called Sun
Vipers for some reason.

Needless to say, it was not long before the inevitable happened.

Yes, but it wasn't an earned victory.

The second universe gave a single neutral solar system in which to fight over but the combination of masses of Vic Vipers and long ranged artillery ships proved to be too much for the Bacterians to handle.  I'm not going to play through all the universes but instead will skip to the last and largest one.  Hopefully this should provide the epic confrontation I'm looking for.

Hells yeah.