January 24, 2013

Legend of Peach Boy - Ranking

Story & World

In one of the many things that LoPB would copy from Dragon Quest, the main plot is to kill the biggest bad in the lands.  Though for most of it, it felt more like Hunt for the Five Moon Treasures.  The game has quite the tendency to get silly at any time it pleases, and it pleases often.  I'm not sure if I should award or deduct points for being one of the goofiest games played thus far.  I don't know, maybe I'm just jealous.  The wackiness overkill certainly made sure I was never too invested in the story.  Other than the nutty tone of the game, it's standard DQ-inspired fare.  10/20

Character Development

Not too much to see here.  In addition to the basic offense and defense stat, agility has also been tacked on.  Level gains are static and there is no way in the game to augment these stats (short of equipment).  The equipment boasts an impressive eight slots, although for most of those slots, there are only a few pieces that will ever fit into them.  I did like how equipment had its own slot system independent of the general items (also limited to eight slots).  4/20

Combat & Monsters

Again following very closely to the DQ combat system but LoPB throws a few new features in.  The continuous attack is a nice addition to the regular critical strike and it's also nice to see the monsters taking advantage of it as well.  The animal companion attacks, while sparse, at least serve as a reminder that they are even there (they're not used much outside battles).  The handful of magic spells available are only noteworthy in that each one is bellowed out with much bravado; they are otherwise quite standard in their effects.

The random encounters which did not result in immediate combat are also a nice touch.  The quizzes given by the Luck Lord near the beginning were quite the surprise and I didn't even mind that I didn't know any of the answers.  There was also an encounter with some pink fairie creature who asked if I used flax shampoo.  An affirmative answer results in her giving 100 golds.  If negative, she disappears leaving a lovely scent behind.  Whatever, it's nice not to have to fight every time.  11/20

Graphics & Sound

Graphics are sub-par and and there is a distinct lack of colour variation in most sprites.  The monsters (excluding bosses) are all drawn to be as derpy as possible and I got a little tired of it by the end.  It's hard to visualize an intense battle when everyone looks like a bloody clown.  The music is decent and some pieces really stand out but not because they are particularly well done.  No, it's because certain tunes are taken directly from Dragon Quest itself!  Some sound effects are likewise lifted.  7/20

Gameplay

My coffers were overrun with gold by endgame but for the most part I was sufficiently motivated to continue beating down oni.  We won't mention those times that were totally my fault for losing thousands of pieces of gold.  The puzzles are fairly advanced for a JRPG — just look at the Jizo row one.  I also found out, after finishing the game, that the Jizo row words actually did make a sentence (of sorts) that leads to a completely different treasure!  And here I thought that they had just chosen those words to throw one off the track.  Clever bastards (or unclever Shen).  Encounter rates and overall pacing are both satisfactory (provided one is willing to flee most of the endgame random encounters).  14/20

Final Ranking:  46/100

January 22, 2013

Legend of Peach Boy - End Game

There wasn't much more equipment I could buy and levelling started giving consistently poor stat gains a little after reaching level 40.  So my modus operandi ended up being to flee from all random encounters I could until reaching a boss and then unleashing all my pented up magic.  A few types of randoms were manageable but hardly worth the HP loss.  I also seemed to actually get worse as I gained levels; I started missing with a lot of my attacks.

The mighty squirrel deftly avoided the sloppy
attacks from the dim-witted Shen.

With the puzzle of Jizo row still on the backburner, I made my way to a hellish tower to where I thought the fourth treasure would be found.  The path through the tower was long and arduous with lots of dead ends.  I bravely fled past all the inhabitants and Hexagoned the end boss and his second form in just a few rounds.  To my surprise, there was still another level with yet another end boss at the end of it.

"Wha?  How did you make through
my impenetrable maze?"

To my disappointment, I did not acquire the treasure I sought but instead gained a new location to warp to.  The wizard there asked me if I had at least four treasures, which I did not.  So he obviously had the fifth and I now had to face my biggest fear and solve the Jizo row puzzle.  Before doing that, though, I decided to use up all my extra gold at the gambling dens that had been neglected up to this point.  Lots of great items to be had here, mostly the Magic Wands which restore MP up to full and often work more than once.  I got lucky again when one of the dens gave a me a scroll with a hint about the Jizo row puzzle.

Spoiler Alert: The above picture is a spoiler.

What made this revelation extra funny was that I had already tried looking at the first letter of each word but I had initially written down the words going from left to right so it was backwards.  I never thought to look at it in reverse because I are smirt.  It still took a little searching but eventually I found a secret entrance that led me to a vast cavern filled with bossy statues.

"Now put your left foot in
and shake it all about!"

Playing their little game netted me the Hourai fruit which allowed for the wizard to give me the last treasure.  I went to give the spoiled little Moon Princess her precious treasures but she had been kidnapped and taken to Oni Island.  Luckily, the Valor Sword was just out back behind her house and... hold up, the sword was just sitting in the backyard?  Oni are capturing and killing her people and, instead of just giving me the sword, she saw this as an opportunity to get five items off her wish list?  You know what?  The oni can keep the damn princess.  I still felt obligated to rescue all the other people so I went to the broken bridge that used to connect Oni Island with the mainland.  I held aloft my magical sword and expected to summon a boat or teleport there or something.  What I ended up actually doing was much, much cooler.

Moses ain't got nothing on me.

After killing the ocean, I finally found myself at Oni Island.  In what must have taken decades to design and build, the whole island was shaped like the head of an oni.  It'd only be visible from the air but I appreciated the work and toil that must have gone into creating it.

The mountains for the lower
incisors are just too cute.

The final dungeon was eerily free of random encounters which was a relief but also made me a little nervous.  My nerves didn't steer me wrong for when I approached Emma-Oh, the Devil King, he dissed me and then sent one of each type of oni in succession to fight me, starting from the easiest.

You leave my love life out of this!

As the oni bodies began to pile up behind me, I'm sure Emma-Oh must have started getting a tad worried, especially since I wasn't resorting to magic at all.  After about twenty or so oni, they finally stopped coming and Emma-Oh began to lament over them.  With no more minions to do his bidding, the humans were now free to return home.  With loss of his brethren still fresh in his mind, the grief-stricken Devil King cursed my name and attacked me.

Is... is that a single tear
I see there, Emma-Oh?

My stockpile of magic-replenishing items came in very handy as it was a long battle.  Emma-Oh was fond of healing himself, almost as much as I was.  Probably a third of the entire fight was spent just healing.  I burned through most of my MP reservoir, alternating between Hexagons and Omnipotents (maximum healing).  Immediately after getting beaten, Emma-Oh had a change of heart and now is all about love and valor and such.  He promised to only help the humans from now on but I'm pretty sure he's bullshitting.  He disappeared and the Moon Princess came out and congratulated me (mostly about getting those treasures, I bet).  Any gripe I had with the Princess vanished when she gave me a magical coach that can FLY ME TO THE MOON!

Sayonara, stupid earth! Maybe
I'll drop by sometime.

As I presumably embarked on some Moon missions, the end credits scrolled by.  They were fun to read as they kept the humour notched up throughout.  They even gave a shout-out to the guy who created the fart noises.  They just couldn't resist sticking one last flatulence reference in there.  Oh well, not an issue anymore because on the moon — no one can hear you fart.


January 17, 2013

Legend of Peach Boy - Life's the Pits

There have been a number of setbacks, mostly due to my own fault and always resulting in loss of gold.  You see, back at the beginning of my journey, there was some random encounters with a Poverty God creature.  His main attack was to steal one to three golds which, even at the time, was nothing much to worry about.  Sometime later, I came across his palette-swapped brethren, the Famine God.  This clown would steal exactly half my gold and then I would get scared of it happening a second time so I would flee.  Every time this foe was encountered, I would just run away in hopes that he wouldn't get an opportunity of attack.  It was only when I accidentally killed one off that I found out that I get all the gold back.

How dare you use real world
logic in a video game!

With that precedence set, I came across a different creature, called a black Kappa, that stole all my gold on hand.  While I was correct in thinking that I would get all my gold back should I happen to defeat the kappa, I was quite taken aback when it decided to flee with my 10,000+ gold.  For reference, most battles at this point net me around 250 golds per fight.  I was left dumbfounded and flabbergasted.

This is actually a ten minute video
taken immediately after.

Further adding to my Rage Meter™ was the fact that banks do exist but I had forgone their usage because: a) they charge a 10% deposit fee, and b) fuck banks.  Well, I ended up putting aside my unfounded paranoia and started using banks from here on in.

Where'd this guy pick up
the Brooklyn accent?

In an attempt to salve my bruised ego and actually make some progress, I decided to head to the next wizard and pick up a new spell.  Instead of having me just fight him, he put me through a "trial by fire" by having me walk through a couple corridors of lava and blast through a bunch of boulders.  All these activities cost me magic points as I healed my burnt body and lightning-bolted the giant rocks.  I wasn't at full strength (but pretty close) and almost made it to the end.

 Keep the lava stoked; I'll be right back.

Somewhat predictably, the wizard gives me a Float spell which allows me to pass over hurty tiles.  With most tiles doing a hefty 20 HP of damage, this spell is much more cost effective than just healing.  I was now not feeling so bad for losing all those golds but my progress would soon be halted again by the puzzle of the North Jizo row.  The row consists of a long line of talking statues that each give a word (17 total) that must be unscrambled in order to solve the puzzle.  The Jizo is also known to be fond of puns and, in fact, there's a whole town of assholes who say nothing other than punny jokes.  Hey, is that a montage of shitty jokes I see a-comin'?

Eh.  Still funnier than that
lame Inconsolable blog.

Even basic town services are unavailable while shop owners decided to yuk it up.

What?  You don't sell any Dragging Snails?

Anyway, the Jizo row puzzle is pretty difficult and Oh hey, did I mention the wizard who taught me how to fart?

Puns AND toilet humour?  Now
you're just spoiling me, game.

Anyway, the Jizo row puzzle is pretty difficult.  There are no sentence particles within the word list, mostly just nouns.  It appears to be instructions on where to search but it seems pretty vague.  Three of the four compass directions are in the list, making it even harder to determine where to go (e.g. Under North Rock could just as easily be Under South Rock or Under East Rock).  Oh crap!  I just realized now that it could also be Under South East Rock or North East Rock as well.  I spent a lot of time just randomly searching around the area but found nothing other than a nondescript tile near the ocean that completely healed me for some reason.

Damn you Jizos!  What is your secret?

Since one of treasures I need is most likely what is found, I'll have to come back to this one later; I've wasted enough time as it is.  I still only have one of the damn treasures (still haven't found Ginji) but this was soon rectified when I ate some toxic fugu in Wish Town.  The poison almost killed me but luckily the town priest had some antidote on hand and saved me.  The restaurant owner felt so bad that he gives me the Golden Coat, bringing my treasures total up to a massive two.

Ahh!  It's my first time all over again!

Pressing on, the battles become tougher and tougher, eventually leading me to fleeing most fights (good success rate) while I explored and found new towns.  I did have one major fight with a mountain witch which I won only by sinking large amounts of magic points into my devastating Hexagon attack.  Oh, sorry, I mean my Hexagoooonnnnn! attack.  I took her boat and ordered my monkey (oh yeah, I have a monkey now as well) to row me across the lake.

How about you row and I nap?

After crossing the lake and still avoiding as many enemies as possible, I eventually come across Bamboo Bird Town.  Most of the townsfolk talk about Oni Island, so I assume that it's close.  Also living here is the Moon Princess herself, which I wasn't really expecting.  With only two of the five treasures in my possession, I felt quite embarrassed and humbly kowtowed in her presence.

You're going to have to wait even
longer there, sugar tits.

I do like how I was able to get this far without the proper MacGuffins.  Nonlinearity in these early RPGs is always appreciated.  Time to backtrack and get me some more treasures.  The town of Crab Monkey Town, that had previously been deserted due to the mountain witch, was now filled with people.  Due to speaking with every NPC in every town, I knew that Ginji the thief would be disguised as some town's fortune teller and that one of my recently acquired spells would reveal him to me.  Can you guess what spell that was?

Of course you can.

I got the Dragon Pendant Necklace back and now I guess I have no choice but to solve this damn Jizo row puzzle.  Actually, scratch that.  I'm just going to grind until I can afford all the best equipment and am strong enough to take on the random encounters.

January 09, 2013

Legend of Peach Boy - Life's a Peach

After waiting forever for Pochi to do his business on every tree he found, we finally arrived in Kintaro Town.  The people here are quite depressed because a strong sumo wrestler (also named Kintaro) has stolen their big bass drum that they use for celebrations.  Being the monster music fan that I am, I made a vow to put this Kintaro bully in his place and bring back the funk for the peeps to put in their trunks.  When I found him, he immediately challenged me to a sumo match for the drum.  Rather than whack him my sword, I agreed to his contest because, as one may have noticed, my girth is tantamount to my height.  Plus, Kintaro never asked for anything should I lose and, as the laws of probability dictate, one should never refuse a potential gain with zero risk.  Despite having no sumo training, I trounced Kintaro so badly that he got a new appreciation for the stratosphere.

Say hi to the ozone layer for me.

After he got back, he was understandably ticked off and transformed into a Gold Oni and attacked Pochi and I.  While Pochi nipped at his heels, I hacked at his soft, golden body with my somewhat harder sword.  He was still tough, but I was driven by an undying zeal to see people get their groove on and was eventually victorious.  After I returned the drum to them, the townsfolk showed their gratitude by immediately hosting a grand celebration with endless dancing.

The townsfolk knew that, without a doubt,
Shen Nung would turn this mutha out.

With a smile on my face and a slight skip in my step, I left Kintaro and continued on my journey.  Exploring a nearby network of caves resulted in another animal friend, this time a pheasant with no name.  Like Pochi, he can also talk and fight but, unlike Pochi, he has a non-combative skill that allows him to find shiny treasures.  With my new friend in tow, we made our way to the remote town of Urashima Town, not backing down from any encounters on the way.  In addition to the (not often enough) extra attacks that my pals bring to combat, my latest sword has been fairly consistent in unleashing continuing attacks.  Instead of just getting a critical hit like most RPGs, the continuing attack allows for two or three hits in a single attack (regular critical hits are still present but quite rare).  When I start such a chain of devastating attacks, my companions cheer me on heartily and I hope one day to be able to achieve a four-hit combo on some poor bastard (hopefully a boss).  Quite high off my battle prowess, we strolled into Urashima Town and rescued some old turtle being harassed by an oni boss.  As a reward, we were taken to a undersea palace to partake in some dancing, some good eats, and receiving one of the Moon Princess's treasures, the Dragon Pendant Necklace.

♫ Darling it's better, down where it's wetter,
take it from meeeee! ♪

With all the good feels that the last two towns had given us, our merry band of three chattered incessantly amongst ourselves as we headed to the nearby Sky Wizard's tower to gain another magic spell.  We came across the wizard on the first floor and he informed us that we'd have to defeat him three times in mortal combat.  After each defeat, he'd retreat further up his tower, which has a few twists and dead ends.  With no random encounters, though, this seemed quite pointless.  Oh well, I got the ever-useful town-warp spell from him so the slight inconvenience was worth it.

Dude, you forgot to stock your
"dungeon" with monsters.

The next leg of our journey took us north to the snowy Netaro Town, which has a large river running through it's center.  The single bridge connecting the two halves was blocked by a large fellow, also named Netaro, sleeping in the middle of it.  One of the villagers said that Netaro likes sushi rolls, so I fed him a pile but he slept through it all.  Another mentioned something about melting ice over him to wake him up in the past.  Of course, I can't just go grab some snow.  No, I've got to cross the ice fields, entering the ice tower, and kill the ice witch to get her ice icicle.  Now, the ice fields are slippery and I was forewarned to grab myself some snowshoes, which cost me a whopping 3,000 golds.  They worked well, however, and I was able to cross with ease.  After reaching the other side, I switched back to my old shoes, seeing as they were more conducive to combat.  In traditional Nung-manner, I forgot to put them back on when coming back across the ice fields but I wasn't prevented from entering like I expected to be.  All that happens is that the directional controls are reversed; I just need to push "backwards" in order to go forward.  Well, that certainly was a waste of three large.

The laughably vast ice sheet that
protects the elusive ice tower.

The ice bitch was as mean and nasty as one would expect a witch to be.  Not only could she deal tremendous amounts of damage, but she could often freeze me for a round or two.  It took a few tries but I eventually got lucky with a three-hit continuing attack and dispatched the weeatch.  Grabbing the icicle, I left the tower only to have it immediately melt in my hands.  Hrmmm.  During all my travels, someone had mentioned that people used to carry icicles in drawstring bags but I had no idea where to get one.  The only clue I had to go off was a rumour that one of the spell-giving wizards likes sushi (is there anyone in Japan that doesn't like sushi?).  Revisiting all the previous wizards and attempting to stuff them with sushi rolls yielded no results.  Was there a wizard that I missed?  After re-searching the entire land accessible to me, I still came up dry.  Thinking that maybe one of the townsfolk was a wizard in disguise or something, I went around to every person I could find, threw sushi at them and inquired:


Unsurprisingly, this also proved fruitless so I spent the next few days just hanging out at the inn and drinking copious amounts of oolong tea.  Eventually, it clicked that since I had the maximum amount of items I could carry, I wouldn't be able to hold any more.  I would have thought that since I'm giving the sushi roll first, then getting the bag, that that would free up the needed slot.  It would have been nice the first time around to get a message saying that I didn't have room instead of giving the standard failure line.  But I digress.  The very first wizard I met had the drawstring bag I needed and I was soon back into the ice tower to re-kill the (thankfully) respawning witch.  After almost of week of dicking around, I was finally able to awaken fat ass with the icicle and make my way to the second part of Netaro Town.

It shouldn't, considering where I stuck it.

After reaching the other side of Netaro Town, a thief named Ginji stole my Dragon Pendant Necklace and high-tailed it out of there.  So now I was back down to just one of the five treasures I needed.  Oh well, at least there was a whole new area to explore.  A new area meant a new set of enemy encounters and the trend of strange and weird foes continued.

Don't you ever touch a Peach Boy's radio!
How can you tell this game
originated in Japan?

Yet another wizard was met although I did not need to beat him up to learn the spell he had to offer.  This wizard just asked a long string of pointless yes or no questions where the answer doesn't actually matter.

I can also count to potato.

The battery of around thirty questions must not just be done once but twice (to show my endurance for banality).  My reward was an upgraded healing spell which was great because I was tired of spamming the weaker version.  Now I just need to find that thieving Ginji and get my necklace back.  I know he's in disguise in one of these towns but I haven't been able to locate him yet.

He wouldn't dare disguise himself as
the Hudson Bee... would he?


January 01, 2013

[Game 031] Legend of Peach Boy (NES - 1987)

Translation by KingMike & snark

With around half of the titles so far being translations, it's no real surprise to be downloaded into yet another Dragon Quest clone.  This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as long as the game can manage to make itself a distinctive clone (e.g. Shell Monsters Story).  LoPB starts off on shaky ground by doing what a lot of JRPGs are wont to do and base the story off of a popular Japanese folktale.  Basically, one day a childless old woman finds a giant peach floating down the river while she is doing laundry.  She doesn't at all question the existence of a peach larger than her head and instead takes the abomination home to eat it.

She's also plugged into a tree, so I
guess I shouldn't be too surprised.

Her husband shares the same mental affliction as she does as he wastes no time tucking into the peach, only to have a baby boy named Momotarou burst out in all his naked glory.

And ready for a career at Chippendales.

Momotarou was sent from heaven to be the couple's son but by age six he feels ready to take on the numerous oni (demon) marauders that have been plaguing the lands.  Momotarou isn't happy with just expelling the local oni, though.  He's planning on journeying to Oni Island to eliminate the chieftain and any other oni that dare get in his way.  I would say Momotarou has some big brass ones but I don't think they've even descended yet.  It's not like he has to worry about succeeding since this is the point that I coalesced into his form.

Gramms and Gramps gave me 100 golds to spend in nearby Travel Town in order to prepare for my journey.  I blew it all on the most expensive sword at the shop.  I was a little worried that the shopkeep would have an issue with selling a six year old a killing weapon but my fears were unfounded.  Feudal Japan rocks!  The people of Travel Town are a little messed up, constantly breaking immersion by mentioning "the game".

Hey!  No one breaks the fourth wall but me!

As mentioned in the above scene, the game is set up like a time trial; completing the game at a young age is apparently brag-worthy.  Probably won't matter too much in-game but still — don't see something like that too often in an RPG.  One distinction point is yours, Peach Boy.  Now where was I?

Oh right, fighting evil 1-Ups.

Oni sure don't carry a lot of gold on them but that's alright.  I'll just kill that many more.  It sure is easy with this sword but then again, I haven't traveled very far yet.  The world is a lot larger than I could have ever imagined!  Mostly I fought oni as I wandered, but I did happen to meet an old wizard who promised to teach me magic.  The catch was that I had to defeat him in battle first.  As I beat his withered old body with the flat of my sword, I couldn't help but feel sorry for the old coot.  He could barely touch me and even his trash-talk made little sense.

Yes, yes.  There there, old-timer.
You can boil all the buttons.

True to his word, he taught me the magic of Potent; uttering its incantation would heal my grievous wounds.  The thing about casting Potent is that it has to be yelled at the top of my lungs, each and every time.  I can see screaming whilst casting a fireball or a Tenser's floating disc but for healing I usually envision soft whispers, glowing orbs, and fairy dust (maybe some harp music?).

Still... this is growing on me.

It's small stuff like this that can really make a game stand out on its own.  With the addition of just a single line of text while doing something quite standard for RPGs, Peach Boy has earned another point.  It didn't take long for LoPB to display even more idiosyncrasies.  For example, the first boss fight doesn't take place in a nearby cave or some ruins as per usual.  Rather, it takes place right in the town itself.  Another example is some dungeons that are free of random encounters.  One had me chasing another spell-granting wizard around and having to defeat him three times.  With no encounters and it not being a maze, I had to wonder at the point of it all.  Peach Boy, so far, is definitely a game that plays by its own rules.

Treasure chests on the overworld map?
Now I've seen everything!

Want more examples?  How about the randomly encountered Luck Lord who gives a pop quiz and around 100 gold if the correct answer is guessed.  And yes, I mean guessed because the questions make no sense.  It's possible that they are referring to details contained within the original Momotarou folklore, I suppose.  They certainly are not referring to anything in-game so far.  Check out the first question I got:

Who sails in a soup bowl armed with a needle sword? (I guessed 3)
  1. Midget
  2. Maiden
  3. Imp

"The answer is obviously one,
so of my gold you get none."

Well, after getting three more questions like this one, I just had to find out what the deal was.  After a few nanosecs of altavistaing, it turns out they are not referencing the Momotarou legend specifically but are referring to other Japanese fairy tales.  My initial question deals with the tale of Issun-bōshi, the Japanese equivalent of English folklore's Tom Thumb.  You know, in hindsight, I guess that question wasn't as nonsensical as I had originally thought but I still maintain that imps are smaller than little people.

Okay, geez, game, quit distracting me with your adorable little quirks.  I haven't even talked about the first boss yet.  In Hansaka Town, the Silver Oni is committing the most heinous crimes, such as preventing cherry blossom trees to bloom and scaring the local dog.

Don't worry.  I'll go give him a stern time-out.

Avoiding any Simpsons references, Pochi the Dog decides to join me after I vanquished the Silver Oni.  Not only can he talk, he also bites sometimes in battle.  I can also attempt to give him orders but it just results in Pochi relieving himself.

Hey, that's my old pick-up line!

To get to Oni Island, I have to find the five special treasures of the Moon Princess.  I was hoping to just charter a boat but I guess the adults know what they're doing.  I've already found the Buddha's Bowl and now need to get the Dragon Pendant Necklace, the Fruit of Hourai, the Swallow's Shell, and the Golden Coat.  All this stuff just to get to Oni Island!  Well... come on then, Pochi.  You can mark those cherry blossoms later.  We've got MacGuffins to find!