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!