December 28, 2015

[Game 055] Dragon Ball Z: Assault of the Saiyans (NES - 1990)

Translation by Twilight Translations

It's been so long since the first Dragon Ball RPG, I had almost forgotten that there are a good number of them in my list.  This one enters the 'Z' era of Dragon Ball, where precocious scamp Goku is now all grown up, having advanced greatly in all areas (except intelligence).  The odd card system from the first game is used again here but to greater effect.  In fact, everything has been improved upon.  The fight scenes are more animated and varied.  The linear path of the first game has been replaced with an open grid system.  The plot has followed the show without any glaring deviations (so far).  One of my prime complaints about the first game was that it was way too short.  Well, that has definitely been taken care of, though perhaps this game overcompensated somewhat (but I'll get into that).  A lengthy opening scene has Goku and his son, Gohan, visiting Master Roshi when they are suddenly confronted with a powerful opponent called Raditz.  Raditz informs Goku of his Saiyan heritage and that he was suppose to have conquered the Earth by now.  Goku, of course, has no idea what Raditz is talking about.

Hey!  He resembles that remark!

Raditz proceeds to take Gohan and issues Goku a challenge to come find him.  My main man, Piccolo, joins Goku and soon they are dealt five cards in which to get their quest on.  Each character moves independently and if they are adjacent to each other when a random encounter starts, they both participate in the battle.  Here in the early game, this is crucial as there is no way a single Z fighter can take on any foe by himself.

Much less one wearing battle armour.

Observe those cards.  The card power is determined by the ball in the upper-left corner; this number also drives movement (the Roman numeral in the lower-right is defense).  If Goku and Piccolo want to be able to handle themselves in combat and be able to stick together, then they'll have to burn low-powered cards for movement.  But this means that there are far more opportunities for random encounters.  One of them could risk being exposed for a turn using high movement while the other catches up, but then benefit from a much faster exploration rate.  I've been playing it pretty conservative due to the hefty amount of grinding that needs to be done.

Shit... hang tight, Gohan, we've still
got about 50 fights left to do.

I had already been playing for awhile before finding Raditz in his little hidey hole and figured I'd at least try to take him on, though I suspected that we'd probably lose.  What I really wanted to do was use a Scouter card I had to determine his power level.  The Scouter is one of the special cards that can be found after battles or won in mini-games.  The cards are all based off characters/items from the show and function like the consumables found in other games (e.g. healing potions).  Before engaging Raditz, Goku donned the Scouter and analyzed Raditz, who just stood there smirking.

Cue cartoonish jaw dropping to the ground.

Frame of reference: both Goku and Piccolo started at around 300 BP and get, on average, around 10 BP per fight.  I had both of them at around 700 BP and thought perhaps their combined might be able to handle him.

I thought wrong.

It wasn't even close either.  Raditz was hitting for ~50 damage per hit and my two guys were lucky to get even 5 points in a single hit.  I'm not blaming the game either; that's how I always thought it worked in the show as well.  Ten fighters at 100 BP each still won't be able to do much to a single 500 BP fighter (barring some special move or other plot device).  Speaking of which, I am very impressed with how true to its roots this game is so far, in all aspects.  The first game had odd side stories but this one is keeping the plot on the real tip.  Not only that, but every character has a selection of special moves faithful to the show, accurately animated as well.

Could have gone with Goku's Kamehameha,
but I like Pickles more.

The animations are one of the best features of the game and I'm not just talking about the special moves.  Even a regular attack shows the combatants flying about, dodging and feinting one another, before settling into some good ol' slugfest action.  I'm sure it'll get boring at some point, but hey, that's what the turbo button is for.  I'm just pleased as punch that a game based on a franchise has incorporated so many concepts from its source material, for good or bad.  Now for some bad.  Dragon Ball Z has a reputation for having episodes that are ridiculously long and drawn-out.  I whined about the first game being too short and that they should have padded it out with more fights to emulate the show better.  Welp, this game somehow heard my complaint and made sure to go waaaayyyy in the other direction.  Did any of you readers do the BP math when I scouted Raditz above?  For those that didn't, it works out to about 100 fights in order to get Goku and Piccolo to Raditz's level.  One hundred fights for the first chapter.

That's a helluva lot of groin kicks.

Thankfully, there are training mini-games to help break this monotony up.  Unthankfully, they are stingy with the BP rewards and certain ones will even take some if failed.  The games are based off the cards and success relies on luck although one can stack the deck in their favour, so to speak.  For example, one training game requires the player's current deck to successively beat five random cards, based off either the offensive or defensive values of the card (chosen by the player at the start).  Another one requires matching up either ball value or the middle symbol and can be completed easier if the current deck has a nice mix of cards.

Piccolo, being the (way) smarter of the two Z fighters,
has maximized his chances for success here.

The first chapter's map is pretty generous with the amount of training grounds it has, going so far as to have an entire 3x3 block of them with a rest spot in the middle.

Goku's in a state of pure bliss.

There's not eight unique games, mind you, a lot of them are just repeated, but there is one training game here that is actually kinda worth doing (20 BP reward).  It splits the character's HP and BP in half and creates a clone to battle against.  Since the fight always starts with the combatants being equal, the participant better be sure to have a lot of powerful cards on hand before attempting it.

This incredibly close match will be
won by whomever wins initiative.

In the end, the training exercises are a nice distraction but not a reliable enough source of BP, so the bulk of fighting experience was done through regular battles.  Once Goku and Piccolo got up to around 1500 BP, they had a much easier time with Raditz.  Defeating Raditz and rescuing Gohan closes the first chapter and the second opens with Goku heading to the spirit world to train with King Kai while the rest of the Z fighters look for some Dragon Balls.  The cool part here is that I had to make three teams of two out of the six characters available; each team going after a different ball.  I kept the teams true to the show and matched them in default order.

Just seems wrong to match Piccolo with, say, Chiaotzu.

Before the Z fighters go and do their individual quests, Goku needs my attention first as I help him travel through Snake Way, a million kilometre stretch of road that leads to King Kai's place.  There are no battles, just burning off cards for forward progress and doing some mini-games.  Failing a mini-game adds to the total time it'll take Goku to reach the end — if he ever does.

Ugh.  This is, like, 20 episodes worth.
I may be here awhile.

December 07, 2015

Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei II - Ranking

Story & World

A welcome expansion from the first game, with a devastated, yet beautiful, overworld in which to wander in addition to a multitude of traditional dungeons.  The story was better as well; I really liked the progression from playing a video game to dealing with the Pazuzu/Bael feud to facepunching God.  The Gumdrop/Gob dynamic was interesting as well, even if I had already made my decision who I preferred before starting the game.  The rest of the more minor aspects are similar to MTI.  14/20

Character Development

Same as MTI, except more slots available for weapons and armour as well as greater equipment variety overall.  I'm also throwing a few points here due to the improved fusion system.  17/20

Combat & Monsters

Same as MTI.  10/20

Graphics & Sound

Same as MTI, except the overworld graphics add another layer of gorgeous onto an already beautiful game.  The Demon World was particularly stunning, heavy with cycling animations representing fire, mists, etc.  18/20

Gameplay

Same as MTI, except for a slightly stronger late game economy, due to many expensive equipment options.  16/20

Final Ranking:  75/100

December 04, 2015

Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei II - End Game

Wow, did I ever spend way too much time breeding demons, but an unforeseen, lucrative side business involving videos of demons "going wild" kept me quite busy.  I had multiple instances where I needed to go back to the earliest stages just to get creatures weak enough to breed the basic elemental slimes.  Slimes are the catalyst that allow a high level creature, which cannot be bred any tougher, to push beyond that limit and go Super Saiyan.

Shenlong's brother here doesn't
come with with any wishes, though.

In addition to this, there were times I needed to breed a specific kind of non-slime element in order to unlock a barrier.  All of this meant I spent a lot of time running around, trying to find creatures that were not only of the same type (for elemental fusion), but an appropriate power level as well (end result is an average of the original two).  I thought the demon limit of ten was quite generous, especially after getting upgraded from seven midgame.  Four spots were devoted to the demons in the current party which left a roomy six in which to play.  The crunch began when I started wanting to keep more than four demons, due to their difficult creation path.  Even though it appeared that they couldn't evolve any further, I never knew if I just hadn't found that one correct element.

Though — come on Shen —
how do you go up from this?

Wasting even more time, I got it in my head to try to create a demonic party based on a theme.  First I wanted to make an all-dragon team but was only ever able to make two.  After getting Odin, I started having delusions of a super all-star team consisting entirely of deities, but, again, I only ever got two.

I suppose I coulda used this try-hard,
what with his ridiculous six wings and all.

Okay, enough demonic eye candy; let's back it up a bit here.  After finishing the picnic, I used my infallible perceptive and investigative skills to correctly deduce that I just had to run around the statue again to get off the island.  From there, Gumdrop and I went about exploring a new area and talking with some of the residents, though it didn't always go so well.

Even if this wasn't Japan, I'd
still go with a "Hell no".

We did learn that Pazuzu is currently in a power struggle over the control of Tokyo with another demon named Bael.  It wasn't hard to figure out that Pazuzu just wanted us to eliminate his rival for him and had made up the whole story about Gob and I being messiahs.  I suspected Pazuzu right from day one, so I opted to try to find him and call him on his bullshit.  Getting to him was an uphill battle, as we had to encounter some of the darkest nightmares plucked right from the depths of our souls.

Gumdrop's got the right idea here.

Far worse that those vile beings were the heavy rockers who would always appear in large groups, each individual having the ability to put multiple characters to sleep.

How metal are we if these guys make us drowsy?

Although they don't do too much damage, it was infuriating to just sit there, round after round, getting pounded on by greasy headbangers.  My solution to this problem was to have two demons with the ability to roar and stun the entire motley crew (who seemed particularly susceptible to it).  I went with two demons because they only roar when they feel like it (I can only order them to cast spells, not use innate abilities).  This changed the dynamics of the battles from me yelling at the rockers to yelling at my dumbass demons when they decided not to roar for multiple rounds.  At any rate, the line change enabled us to penetrate all the way to Pazuzu, where we found Gob guarding him like the chump that he is, going on about being the one true Messiah.

I will, just let me take this Forget-Me-Now pill.

In true Gob fashion, he made a huge mistake by attacking all six of us by himself.  After rending him unconscious almost immediately, we carried on to confront Pazuzu, who was still pathetically trying to keep his flimsy cover story afloat.  He even had the audacity to strip me of the title which I never cared to have in the first place.

You mean that pile of bruised meat in the
other room?  Way to pick a real champ, guy.

No surprise, Pazuzu also was unable to defend himself against six assailants and fell rather quickly.  I must have been in a surly mood because the option arose to straight up decapitate Pazuzu and lug his head around, just for kicks.  I thought perhaps Gob's head would also look nice up on my mantle, but he was already gone.  With Pazuzu's death, the power struggle for Tokyo would now be over and Bael could rule over the city entirely.  At least, that's what would have happened if I hadn't got a little slice of that power and decided that I wanted the whole pie.  I guess Gob had the same idea because I found him getting smashed to a pulp by Bael.

I like Bael.

I don't blame Bael for thinking that I'd be as easy to beat as Gob, but, on the other hand, there are six of us.  Are the demons that I travel with just so beneath the notice of the boss demons that they don't even register as a threat?  Come to think of it, bosses never address any of the other demons before a fight; they're treated like they don't even exist.  Burn, no wonder demons are always pissed off and shit.  After defeating Bael, he turned into a frog which I could either crush or capture.  I elected for the latter as I couldn't bring myself to destroy the creature who had recently brought me so much happiness.  Now was the time I needed to find seven pillars in order to open a gateway to hell and — bad news — I had four.  An earlier set of MacGuffins based of the four elements had led me to believe that the pillars would also come in a similarly numbered set.  This meant a lot of backtracking and trying to trigger events.  This took awhile as I, once again in my eternal wisdom, neglected to make any maps, not even the lazy screenshot method I used during the first.  Eventually, I gathered the pillars and planted them in the center of Ground Zero, where the first nuke hit Tokyo during the Great Cataclysm decades ago.  Doing so opened up a portal into the demon world, where I was to hunt down Lucifer, lord of the demons, and put an end to the stream of demons invading the earthly realm.

A little PR campaign wouldn't have hurt either.

Here is where I spent the bulk of my time experimenting with demons as previously stated.  I would only push forward into a new area after getting bored with the current batch of recruitable demons.  Two notable events happened whilst I goofed around in hell.  The first was Gumdrop being abducted right from under my nose, leaving me without a renewable source of healing and warping (and love).  Some of my demons had healing spells, but they function at such a weak level that they're almost useless.  So I had to rely on my limited stash of items while I scoured the castle where she was held.  After having a relatively easy time so far in hell, this quest was intense; if I didn't find her on the first attempt, I'm not sure I would have had enough precious healing Jewels (which cannot be bought) to do a second run.  Thankfully, I had brought my 'A' game and soon enough Gummy was back in my arms with me whispering into her beautiful ears how much I missed her.

And it wasn't just the sex, it
was also the food preparation.

The second major event happened when I came across the demon boss Beelzebub and was fully expecting yet another combat to occur.  Suddenly, still in his captive frog form, Bael lept towards Beelzebub and requested my permission for them join together, as they had been sundered by The One True God.  After telling them to doowhutchyalike, they merged together and became Baal and joined my ranks.

Welcome aboob, breasts.  I'm sure you cans
with all those tits. *sweats profusely*

I didn't utilize Baal all that much since Gumdrop would always give me the ol' stink eye whenever I summoned her.  Regardless, I kept Baal safely in the confines of my computer deck, just in case Gumdrop should ever get captured again (oww! I just got slapped!).  Eventually, I got around to doing what I was suppose to and confronted Lucifer.  Due to having Baal with me, I got slapped with another surprise; Lucifer wanted us to join forces and take on The One True God.  Luc gave a very convincing speech and I found myself giving into temptation.

Mmm, I dunno... don't you have
anything a little more ambitious?

Lucifer owned those six wings so hard that I became an immediate fan.  Sorry, Michael, but some demons can pull off having six wings and some can't.  With Lucifer's help, getting to The One True God was easy enough, although we had to get by his bodyguard first and you'll never guess who it is.  Go on... guess.  It's the absolute last person you'd think it would be.

*audience gasps* Why, it's Lucifer's evil twin brother
from another dimension!  He must have come out

of his simultaneous coma/amnesia that he went into
after we sabotaged his car to go off that cliff
because he was blackmailing MY evil twin
brother from another dimension!

Normally, I'd scream continuity error, but this game is from Japan, so I understand that they were just ripping their source material from another culture's mythology and perhaps didn't have the keenest eye for details.  Plus, I absolutely adore Satan's smaller head on top of his regular head.  Oh, the conversations they must have! (screenplay in progress)  After reaching The One True God, he did the predictable thing and tried to bribe us with a kingdom or some shit.  Not only did I count exactly zero wings on this guy, he's just some floating bald head — colour me unimpressed.

No vowels for this guy cause he's old skool.

Lord put up a good fight but even the being that created the whole universe by mere force of will couldn't handle six dudes.  After his defeat, he bragged about being just a fraction of the essence that controls the entire multiverse and that he'd manifest again sometime soon and return to be a big jerk.  Lucifer did me a solid and returned to his world, taking all the demons with him.  Peace returned to the world — but — for how long?... oh yeah, until the big giant head comes back.


October 20, 2015

[Game 054] Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei II (NES - 1990) (SNES Remake)

Translation by DDSTranslation

Like an old man about to soak his weary bones in a hot Epsom salt bath, I was looking forward to easing back into familiar territory with the second half of Megami Tensei.  After two mediocre JRPGs, a solid dungeon crawler was just what the doctor ordered and the prescription has only been improved upon.  I loaded the save state that I had made right at the end of part one and was greeted with a message saying that my data had been corrupted.  A couple days later after I stopped flipping out, I tried again and noticed that it wasn't really a typical error message for true data loss.  No, this particular message was part of the story and I kicked myself for spending the last two days destroying half the basement in a fit of rage.

"Fool me once, shame on... shame on you.
Fool me... you can't get fooled again!"

The data error is the reason why all of our stats get reset and so Gumdrop and I were back to square one, which meant gaining levels and collecting demons.  At the onset, the first of the changes from part one was noticed.  The classic first-person perspective was gone and replaced with a standard overhead view.

Hey, this looks like a JRPG.  Noooooooo!

Well, at least the combat and demon fusion components are still intact.  As before, only certain demons can be recruited; evil and/or bestial types are strictly off limits.

Too bad — this one would have made some
interesting, if completely disgusting, fusions.

It didn't take too long for me to create my first fused demon.  As it came off the assembly line, I turned to Gumdrop and asked if perhaps she didn't have somewhere else to be for an hour.

Mmmm... better make it two.

As we progressed, the feeling of déjà vu crept in as we were told that we had to retrieve the Orb of Silence from the Minotaur's body, exactly what we did at the beginning of the first game.  Lo and behold, we did come across the man-bull, who slammed us with the same insult he used before.

Oh god, *sob*, it hurts even more the second time.

After putting him out to pasture, it turned out I was just playing a video game called Devil Buster all this time with my best bud, Gob.  Defeating the Minotaur released a creature named Pazuzu, who thanked me for rescuing him and had some important information for me.

Awwwww, but I was just about to get to level 2.

Pazuzu says that real demons, just like in Devil Buster, have invaded the for real world, for reals this time.  Luckily, fighting and allying demons works exactly the same as in the video game, right down to there already existing demon-fusing temples.  Oh, and the demons I already had in Devil Buster?  Yeah, Pazuzu "downloads" those into my computer so I can use them in "reality".  Now, Pazuzu, I may not be the sharpest light bulb in the drawer, but I have watched Inception, so ya ain't foolin' no one up around in here.

The hell I can't.

So with all these demons running around the shelter, one would think that people might be panicking or fleeing or something of that nature?  Naw, everyone just stays in their completely empty rooms by themselves.  Mmmm, so realistic, Pazuzu.  No, no, really, I'm just completely immersed in this virtual worl — oh, I mean REAL world.  Anyway, Gob, being a cowardly sort, insisted that we can find safety with his girlfriend, as she's "pretty smart" and "always has a plan for stuff like this".  However, when we reached her room, she was losing her shit and begging Gob to take her with us.  A moment of awkward silence passed and I glanced at Gob, who was shifting uncomfortably and making no attempt to mask the regret in his face.  Then, without saying a word, we turned and left the poor girl to her eventual death, I suppose.  In the corridor, I looked at Gob and give him my best "WTF, man?" face.  He avoided eye contact with me, shuffling his feet and murmuring under his breath.

"I've made a huge mistake."

To get out of the shelter, we have to beat some guy who is performing experiments or something on the shelter residents.

How many times have I uttered
those words? (in my dreams)

Getting the Shenster to start thinking about sexy sex is a great distraction tactic and one that worked well enough to see my demise.  I was then treated to quite possibly the coolest death scene ever, riding a boat on the beautiful river Styx whilst a soft, whimsical melody eased my journey into the afterlife.  Unfortunately, Charon shows up and wants a bribe to send me back to the game.  If I deny him, I get to drift for a little bit more and then the game resets.  They should have had it just continue to loop the river journey over and over, signifying the endless nothingness that is death (but really I just wanted to chill out to it).

Fuck off, Charon, you're harshing my mellow.

Our second attempt at getting out of the shelter was more successful in that it was totally successful.  I guess I should have been suspicious that the place we were living was called a shelter, because I was greeted with a scene of devastation so grim it would make the residents of Vault 13 jealous.

Love the ruins under the green
(poison? radioactive? algae?) water.

Ahh, now that we're out and about in the wasteland and have room to stretch our legs a little, let's delve a little into some of the upgrades that this sequel has to offer.  As is to be expected from one of these multi-part remakes, the core of the game remains the same and the mechanics just tweaked here and there.  First off, there are more slots available for character equipment, most notably two weapon slots, one for a gun and one for a sword.  Each weapon type is strong versus certain types of creatures and so there's a little bit of experimenting available during combat.  Demon fusion has also received a facelift, now allowing for triple fusion, though demons must meet certain alignment criteria before utilizing this option.  But my favourite addition is that of a new demon class called Element.  Demons of this type cannot be recruited and must be created in the fusion temple.  It's quite easy to make an elemental demon, simply fuse together two demons of the same class and an elemental of some kind will be made.  Elementals have two things going for them; they're very cheap in magnetite cost should one want them in the party and, more importantly, they fuse well with other demons to create strong, rare types.

They also have no problems
getting down with their bad self.

The top-down perspective used at the beginning sticks around, but only for wandering the overworld and in cities.  Going into buildings and caves sees the return of the familiar first-person framework for which I am thankful.  Gob and I got stuck on our starting island; some huge sea beast required us to find the Fire Seal before it'd ferry us away.  Unexpectedly, Gob's girlfriend ended up having it, saying that some girl told her to give it to him.  She understandably wants to know who the heck this girl is, especially considering what a scuzzbucket Gob is.

Guess who left without saying a word again.

After we crossed the river, we learnt about a witch hiding out in Tokyo Tower and who was causing all sorts of trouble (as witches are wont to do).  First we needed to recruit a powerful beast called Orthrus, who functions a lot like Cerberus in the first game; a high level ally far beyond any of the other demons I had at this point.  Sure, we could have gone straight to Tokyo Tower to deal with the witch problem, but I had other plans for Orthrus for the time being.

Like battles to the death for cold, hard macca.

After making a few cool Gs, we stopped by another fine locale to get supplies for our trip to Tokyo Tower.

I'm just picking up for a friend.

But, ya know, I had a funny feeling that after dealing with the witch, we'd lose Orthrus, so, despite its insane magnetite requirements, we wandered around for a bit, watching in glee as Orthie tore up any enemy we came across with its many special abilities.  Sometimes enemies would drop metal cards and I recalled that such things would allow me to gamble, so we searched for a casino.  We found a city comprised mostly of casinos and after rejecting the lame slots and high/low games, found the place where we could use our metal cards.

Mastermind for a master mind.

Now, I'm just merely competent at code breaking games, but I'll take this over random luck games any day of the week.  I blew through my stack of metal cards in no time, either failing outright or getting it on the fifth attempt, netting me some macca.  I'm was sure that solving it sooner will get me more than just money, so we kept our eyes peeled for any shiny rectangles.  At any rate, it was time to get our witch hunt, so Orthrus shredded the barrier around Tokyo Tower and we faced the horrors that the witch had summoned.  All those drugs we had made the monstrosities a little less scary and, like, man, you know, we're all part of the same cosmic energy and stuff, ya know, and I bet these abominations just want a little friendship.

Come on, you guys, I'm sure the screaming
ball of disembodied heads is a great
guy once you get to know them.

When we reached the top of the tower, the witch turned out to be none other than Gumdrop (what a twist!)!  Heated words were exchanged between Gob and Gumdrop as both tried to curry my favour.  Long-time readers will have no doubts in their mind as to whose side I was on.

Oh, Gob, I've always considered you an enemy.

In true Gob fashion, he took half the macca, a special ring, and Orthrus.  Didn't even care, I was back with Gummy and that's all that mattered.  Having her back on the team was very distracting for me and I ended up getting paralyzed.  This was bad news as I had neither magic spell nor potion in which to cure the ailment and it doesn't seem to fade with time.  In a desperate gambit, I activated a hitherto unexplored warp by running around a statue in hopes that it would take me close to a place where I could recover.  Instead, it took me to a quaint little island that had a cave that informed me that I wasn't strong enough to handle its awesomeness.  Stepping on the entry point did nothing and I assumed that it was because of my paralysis, which also made matters worse by not letting me access my computer so that I could change the party order and put someone else in the lead.  Since we had no choice other than to wait until someone hopefully sailed by, Gumdrop and I decided to have a romantic little picnic on the beach.

The atmosphere was great, if somewhat burny.

P.S. We didn't bring any food so we had to eat some demons.  The Kelpie was delicious.

P.P.S. Yeah, I figured soon after that I just had to do the very same thing I did to get there in the first place but, come on, that's not very intuitive.  *whistles and avoids eye contact*

September 29, 2015

Bloody Warriors - Ranking

Story & World

When I first saw the title screen, with its stylized bloody and bold warrior logo stamped into solid granite, I thought I was in for a post-apocalyptic, beyond Thunderdome kinda game.  After the first few minutes, that changed into a primitive, barbarian tribe kinda feel (what with all the chief talk and not owning shirts).  When the cycles and buggies came, I thought "Oh, I was right, it is Mad Max."  Then the ending came and switched it back to barbarians.  What a roller coaster ride!  Minus 10 points.

I really like it when games keep track of the seasons and update their tiles accordingly.  Not only is the visual change appreciated, it keeps me on the lookout for possible changes in places I've already been (great for when I'm grinding anyway).  Here, it only seemed to come into play when crossing the swamplands, but still, new tiles.

NPCs got a little better at being useful after the terrible first town but were still mostly devoid of personality (as is the norm).  The most lively fellow was that prisoner guard that begged me to spare his life after I reduced him to zero hit points with the back of my hand.  My battle companions, though introduced as pretty unique and interesting characters, rarely said anything and were not developed any further.  I actually don't mind having blank slates in most cases as it allows me to just do my own thang.  I didn't need a pic for Orbis; he became a writhing mass of tentacles with a huge, unblinking eye floating in the center all on his own.  The game probably thought nothing of it when it killed off the majority of my characters in such a lame way, since it never bothered to care about them in the first place, but it kinda pissed me off.  7/20

Character Development

Three main stats (Attack, Defense, Speed) which increase in small amounts per level along with HP.  All characters level the same, making them almost completely identical, stat-wise.  Attack and Defense stats are mainly driven by weapons and armour which actually lends more credence to the equipment-important post-apocalypse setting.  Adding further to that, there are only a few different types of purchasable weapons and armour, perhaps two or three for each slot (weapon, armour, shield, accessory).  The unique, extremely powerful pieces of equipment were likewise low in numbers (~4 for the whole game).  The King's sword and armour found near the beginning stayed equipped on me the entire time.  Just like in any good post-apoc, equipment is just as, if not more, important than the character utilizing it.  In keeping with the scarcity theme, consumables consisted of the healing Troops (still confused on that one) and Herbs (which I don't know what they did).  6/20

Combat & Monsters

Being able to choose up to four characters from a party roster is great until one realizes that all the characters are pretty much the same, except for the two which get the great equipment.  Combat is strictly melee-based button-mashing, and the addition of an auto-combat option was very much appreciated.  Though I have to say, that if developers feel they need to include automatic combat, perhaps they should just work on making combat more interesting.  Monsters were likewise restricted to punches and kicks, even bosses didn't have special abilities.  The strategy portions were a nice attempt but ultimately failed to provide enough depth to be worth it.  Lazy and boring for both types of encounters.  3/20

Graphics & Sound

For all its lack in the other categories, man, do I ever like the shading style the monsters are done in; it looks like actual effort was applied here.  There aren't that many different types of monsters but I'd rather have a few beautiful pieces to look at than a slew of crappy ones.  The rest of the graphics are alright, although a few palaces were a little hard on the eyes.  Bonus for the four seasonal tilesets.  Music is subpar, with unmemorable tunes punctuated by annoying high-pitched bullshit.  9/20

Gameplay

Cash flow had a couple of bumps along the way but nothing too major.  I ended up with lots of extra money due to having to wait from spring to winter in order to cross the swamps, but lost a good chunk of that when I was forced to surrender in the final tactical battle.

Not being able to manage my vast armies was really annoying but the interface sucked in more ways than just that.  Item management was also lacking in basic support; it was easy enough to move weapons and armour from character to character but impossible for anything else.  This meant that the first few characters would have all the quest and healing items while the rest carried nothing.  Throw in some translation error gobbledygook for good measure and you're left with one of the sloppiest interfaces I've ever come across.

Thankfully, all these annoyances never reach the boiling point as the game is quite short.  Chalk up yet another translated JRPG that was originally not released in NA and for good reason.  4/20

Final Ranking:  29/100

September 18, 2015

Bloody Warriors - End Game

Oh right, we were gathering gems.

I've been a little vague on the storyline but that's because it's not particularly interesting.  I've been gathering gems to battle the evil Kalvary.  King Predator pictured above was suppose to be on my side but then betrayed me and stole the gems.  It was no biggie though cuz I just chased him down and got 'em back (only to lose them again later).  The next big hurdle was tackling three fortresses via tactical battles.  The first two were easy enough but the third was much harder, but this was due to my troops being depleted with no simple way of regaining their strength.  Since there is no army management screen, a unit's damage remains the same and one cannot replace them by purchasing a fresh one (damn unions!).  So what I ended up having to do was sacrifice off any weak units, surrender (losing half my money), and grind enough cash to replace the army.

This is how Shen deals with bloody unions.

Another reason to replace the old guard was that there were new unit types available, namely motorcycle gangs, ATV enthusiasts, and catapults.

Love the flag mount on dem hogs.

At some point, I picked up another character from a town, a bird-looking creature named Piper who said that he's good at finding things (no splash pic for him either).  I devoted a good amount of experience his way, getting him up to level 10.  Even though Etern was a higher level, Piper outclassed him in attack power, despite them using the same weapon.  For whatever reason, when Etern was upgraded to strongest non-unique weapon available, his attack power did not increase.  Did I call it or what?  What a wuss.  I did not use Etern in any more battles after discovering this.  The rest of us battled our way through a castle and gained the last part necessary to build a hang glider, which would allow us to fly back home, which was apparently being destroyed by Kalvary.

Shut the fuck up, Intern!  I've got a better
idea.  Let's take the glider to Darkshore.

At the appropriate sending point, Peter and I constructed the glider, which was super-duper tough as it had to hold all six of us, including our motorcycles.  Soon we were on our way back over the chasm that separated my hometown from the mainland.

♪ I can show you the world!
Shining, shimmering, spl... oh wait,
I already used that in Ninja Rahoi!.

We met with the same sage who gave me a tablet near the beginning of the game and he told of us a secret passage that would take us back to where we just were before riding the glider.  Only now we could get on a boat that would take us to Kalvary.  En route, our tub gets rocked by a huge wave and the party takes some losses.

Except Etern was one of them, so you're wrong!  Ha!

After we reach our port of call, I take a tally on the party and find that only Pete and I remain, which raises the question — what the fuck was the point of the other characters?  After the first three join, why bother having others to select from?  Other than Etern, they are all statistically similar and nobody has any special abilities.  Whatever, as long as Peter survived cause he's mah boi (and he's the only other one I gave powerful unique equipment to).  Well, nothing left to do but take on Kalvary by ourselves.

Friends?  Kalvary must be seeing double.

Our assault on Kalvary goes terribly as neither of us can hit him at all, due to the power of the gems.  He doesn't do much damage so we very slowly eventually die.  After our resurrection, the sage tells us that the tablet holds the words to seal the power of the gems.  This would have been good information for him to pass onto me at any point in the game.  But fine, whatever, let's walk through that maze of a castle yet again and take Kalvary on for reals.

Oooo!  Only twelve hundred hit points?

The battle is long as Kalvary has a lot of HP but hits us for very little.  It's a pure melee slugfest and thank fuck for turbo speed because I think I would have gone into sleep mode otherwise.

"not bothered to finish him off and just left."

The credits roll and I'm told that "the barbarian lord Shen has saved civilization", which is an odd thing for a barbarian to do.  But I'm an odd duck (or so I've been told), so I suppose I'll be happy with this short n' sweet ending to this short n' bitter game.