August 26, 2015

Doraemon - End Game

(*Oh yeah, before I forget, that suspicious spot from my first post did indeed have a use, as it served as a warp point to a new area at some point in the story.)

A good reason to stick out any game to the very end is that sometimes, just sometimes, a flailing, floundering start can evolve into merely drunken stumbling.  Some of the aspects I bitched about in the first post improved by a minuscule amount; the shitty game is now just a crappy one.  I even felt better about Doraemon's malice towards me (even though I started it), as he's pretty much a dick to everybody.

Jesus, dude, take a chill pill.  We're helping you.

I do like how some of Doraemon's friends are just so used to his churlish attitude that they just roll with it.  In addition to Doraemon, the one other thing that didn't change was the random dispersal of items via the pretext of conversations.  Most just say one short sentence and then give up the goods, but others have taken it to a whole other level.

Behold the crown prince.

Other items were found in towns consistently in the same spot — an empty house, all which shared the exact same floor plan, with two chests in the back.  While usually nothing too interesting was found here, I did find one item that allowed me to rectify a past missed opportunity to make a poop joke.

And now that I'm able to, I can't decide
on which one to use.  Oh, the irony!

Within the towns, a few of the folks decided to upgrade themselves and give actual useful information, with directions and everything!  Not that it mattered too much since the path between any two towns is pretty linear (any branching soon leads to a dead end).  Still, I appreciated the effort, at least in contrast to the far-fetched nonsense of what most people had to say.

Because of course they are.  Classic ninja technique.

Combat became a bit more fun as the monster difficulty increased significantly, forcing everyone to start using their gold-consuming items more regularly.  A fourth party member was also added, giving access to more available spells during fights.  I never found anything other than cheap potions to purchase, so we all opened our wallets and let loose with the item usage.  Even while letting the good times roll, we still made a tidy profit after each excursion.  Doraemon continued to be frightened of any rodents, but it's not like I gave him any of the crucial spell items anyway.

At least be scared of something worthy,
like that pants-staining Tyranos.

The story trudged along in all its trainwrecked glory.  Perhaps knowledge of the show is needed here, but the strands keeping everything bound together are flimsy at best.  At one point, I went back in time to ancient Japan to rescue a crew member named Lila.  After beating up the things that needed to be beaten, the lady we got our quest from told us that Lila had already went to her home in the present.

I guess she walked back, huh?

Eventually, doing enough of those shaky quests landed us at Giga Zombie's butt-ugly castle where we had to endure a gauntlet of boss fights.  And you know what that means...

Time for a... uhm... bosstage?

By the way, Girzon up there is actually the end boss, not Zombi.  He shows up right near the end to show that he's the real boss (what a twist!), says that we're too weak to fight him, leaves, and then we fight him within the next few minutes.  After destroying Girzon, some dialogue happens with Giga Zombie concerning stuff and things, and then its off to the credits where we're treated to a rare glimpse of Doraemon being happy.

He's as happy as I am that the game is over.

August 14, 2015

[Game 052] Doraemon: The Revenge of Giga Zombie (NES - 1990)

Translation by WakdHacks

Here in the West, we all know that games based off movies or shows have around a zero percent chance of being anything better than mediocre.  But that doesn't apply to Japan, right?  Because those guys know and respect vidja like no other nation on Earth, correct?  I mean, just look at the great examples from Inconsolable's past!  We've got Spooky Kitaro which... oh wait, that one has the dubious honour of being my lowest ranked game so far.  Okay, bad example.  But what about Dragon Ball?  Hrmmm, well, that game was fun but was ridiculously short, being easily completed within a day.  Okay, so maybe it doesn't matter which side of the Pond spacificially you're on.  It appears that this universal rule of uninspiredness is holding true as Doraemon, so far, is about as tepid as that forgotten iced tea in the sun room.  The gist of the story is that Doraemon and his crew were travelling in time to try to stop the titular Giga Zombie from gaining power in order to rule the world (of course!).  Gigs found out and distorted the space-time continuum, splitting up the crew.  Doraemon attempts to enlist the aid of yours truly to help gather the posse together, but really, I've got much better things to be doing (like drinking iced tea).

But thou must!

It's here, right smack dab at the beginning of the game, that Doraemon caught me completely off-guard.  I was expecting an infinite loop of "but thou musts!", but after three denials, I was rewarded for my patient dickishness.

Oh... well... next game then?

When I restarted, Doraemon seemed to remember my previous rebuff, as there was a palpable animosity between us.  His usual cheery demeanor was replaced with a quietly simmering loathing, evident in his response to any of my innocent questions.  And you knows me, I would never dun do anything to antagonize nobody.

Maybe — just maybe — we could try the door.
It may be a long shot, but it's our only hope
and we also only have one chance.

As I was gathering my things for the journey, an obvious crush of Doraemon's, named Dorami, stopped by to unneccesarily refill our hit points and save our game.  I immediately liked her as she took the time to fuck around with Doraemon, who sucked it up like a little bitch.

HaAHahAHAhA, friendzoned again, eh, Doraemon?

When I finally got out of that first room (I forget how, possibly the door), and was exploring the town, the game again messed with standard RPG conventions and made me look quite the fool in front of the NPCs.

I searched for hours in this spot
and there's nothing there!!!

I soon picked up a second companion; a kitty named Miyoko who is magical or something.  In order to be able to talk to her, I needed to find a special quest item.

Yeah, I know how to shake a bag of treats, thanks.

From here, the quests are lazily spliced together in a predictable manner.  Not much explanation is given for anything, and what is given is rushed and come on, Shen, just go to the next dungeon already.  Go find some NPC, get that MacGuffin, and kill some demons.  What?  You need a submarine in order to explore a sunken ship?  Well, it just so happens that I've got a submarine right here in my pants!  Here you go!  You also need a crystal that's been mined from the infernal pits of the Abyss and enchanted by mutant space lesbians?  I think my grandma has one of those!  She lives right next door, lucky you!  Don't bother talking to us again after you get your MacGuffies!

I have fulfilled my contractual obligation.

Talking with regular NPCs will garner nuggets of wisdom such as "Gather lots of gold" and some have completely pointless, simple branching dialogue options.  For example, in response to the question "Have you seen the buggy's grave?", answering no gives "Go see it" while a yes gives "That's good!".  I've only encountered one NPC who said anything even remotely interesting to me, and even then, I completely disagreed with her.

Yeah, well, that's just, like, your opinion, man.

The combat system isn't quite so bad, as it incorporates Final Fantasy's missed action when a targeted monster dies before a character's turn (a minor plus, but it's something).  The magic system is something new and interesting, but quite broken.  Instead of characters having MP, spells require gold, and so the cost is shared by the entire party.  There also isn't any stat dealing with magic, so everyone casts at the same effectiveness.  The spells themselves are acquired through items, enabling one to finely tune the magic distribution throughout the party.  Unfortunately, the status ailment and direct damage spells don't work often enough/do enough damage to make using them worthwhile, so the always successful healing and defensive magic it is then.  The game is super easy in the early game, with levels coming fast and furious with a complimentary refilling of HP.  I only used two healing potions before finding the first curing spell, which ensured that the rest of the game was going to be whatever is easier than super easy.  The spell costs 10 golds and the party has maintained a balance of a thousand gold for quite some time.  It's easy to be flush with cash because, so far, there's nothing to buy other than potions for 5 or 10 gold and even these are soon replaced with their spelltacular counterparts.  With well over 100 castings of cure at my disposal, I fear nothing other than maybe a boss outputting more damage than I can heal.  Further increasing the ease is the Repel spell, which halts random encounters and lasts for a decent amount of time.  I'm fine with this; combat isn't very interesting although the monsters themselves are a creative-looking bunch, if a tad on the small side.

Cue segue to one of my patented monstages.

I almost begrudgingly gave Doraemon some respect for his battle prowess.  Statistically, we are on par with each other and, in most battles, big Dee can keep up with me.  However, he does have a weakness in that he's afraid of rodents, even though he's a robot cat.  Encountering one guarantees that he'll be stunned for at least one round.  I'm actually okay with this; now I can go back to playa hatin' on him.  Our first major challenge lay in taking out the EvilKing; he'd been turning people to stone or something, I dunno.  Miyoko wanted us to do it and I never say no to some nice pussy, so it was off to navigate his castle stronghold.

He can't be too difficult since he's obviously blind.

And I don't even want to know what
that thing he's flinging at us is.

After the EvilKing's demise, we bid a sad farewell to Miyoko but hello to a new companion, Nobita, who, after gaining a few levels, is pretty much identical to Miyoko.  Since the third slot companion has always been weaker than Dora or I, I've been loading them with the most commonly used spells (i.e. healing).  We're due for a big change in scenery, as we're taking the aforementioned submarine and diving to some underwater town where I'm sure the NPCs will be happy to immediately hand over random items to us.

Thanks, this will be very useful underwater.

August 01, 2015

Ninja Rahoi! - Ranking

Story & World

One can't help but be charmed by the world of Ninja Rahoi.  From its apundance of puns to its complete obliteration of the fourth wall, NR is sure to put at least a few grins on even the most dour individual.  The main quest is as cliché as they come, and I found myself anticipating arriving at a new town more driving than killing that Shogun guy.  The world itself is quite large, although laid out in a very linear manner.  Doing some recon with the Big Kite is a pretty cool idea, but somewhat pointless here as the player is always heading in a single direction anyway.  The addition of simplistic mini-games in the tengu huts and some villages is a nice addition; it always gets me hard when developers manage to cram more gameplay variation into the relative limitations of the NES.  Credit also has to be given to the translators for the sheer amount of localization that had to be done; entire jokes would have to had been redone from scratch.  16/20

Character Development

Three main stats (Attack, Defense, Speed) are increased by a couple of points each level, in addition to HP and JP.  The only input the player has is in which jutsu techniques are going to be powered up and to what level.  I had most of the techs, for both myself and Akane, maxed out by endgame but it required diligent usage of said techs from early on.  Having techniques to work on really helps take the edge off grinding, and there are a few points in the game where heavy grinding will be necessary.  Takamaru remained a boring ol' tank throughout the game, only occasionally using an item instead of attacking.

Weapon and armour upgrades just does the basic raising of one of the three stats and, even then, not usually by a significant amount (about equal to gaining one level).  Far more interesting is the plethora of items available, including many joke items.  For example, there are shoes that make the character moonwalk and a cool skull headband that doubles the effectiveness of all jutsu techniques whilst simultaneously barring the usage of any techs against any enemy.  Most of the items have Japanese names but thankfully each item can be examined to determine its effect.  9/20

Combat & Monsters

The combat is an upgrade from the standard fare usually offered by a DQ clone, with the jutsu system pretty much demanding that one plays with it.  I'll take anything that keeps me away from button mashing the basic attack command.  The occasional addition of an uncontrollable NPC in combat is nice (who will ever forget Shitose?), although they are generally just glorified meat shields.  The Doppel jutsu really opens up the options available in combat since the clones have access to the main character's techniques.  While not all that useful in regular encounters, the clones really shine during major fights because status ailment techs work as normal on bosses.  That's right, Ninja Rahoi! bucks the trend of most of these older games and allows one to cripple bosses instead of them having stupid high resistance to such techniques.  Most boss battles are quite lengthy and ailments will come and go during the encounter, so it doesn't make such fights a complete cakewalk.

Monsters keep in line with NR's jovial tone, with many being cutesy or punny or just a flat-out joke.  For example, one creature employs its jutsu technique by screaming "Rolling Flash Special Thunder Fire Dragon Jutsu!" which then, after a dramatic pause, proceeds to do a single point of damage.  The various members of the Skull Clan were always a joy to meet and seeing where on their bodies they would cram their skull-like accessories.  About half the monsters encountered will be from the Skull Clan and skull designs are seen everywhere throughout the game (e.g. the final dungeon is constructed completely out of skulls), so beware of this game if you have cartilogenophobia.  14/20

Graphics & Sound

The tileset used for the overworld sections are rather plain and could have used a little more detail.  The dungeons fare a bit better in that each one has its own distinctive look.  Monsters are generally very well done and I was impressed by the amount of variety and overall lack of palette-swapping.  I am also appreciative of the limitations of 8-bit graphics in regards to the depiction of the turdsfolk.

Most of the music was nothing special with two notable exceptions.  First, the town music has these high pitched notes that just grated on my nerves if I spent too much time there.  It probably doesn't help that my volume is permanently set to 11, but it'll be a cold day in Canada before that changes.  Second, the battle music is quite good at turning me on and, at first, I didn't know why.  About halfway through I realized that it's very similar to the battle theme in Mouryou Senki Madara, though it lacks dat funky bass.  11/20

Gameplay

This game has what every RPG should have — a stupidly expensive and powerful item to potentially purchase in the late game.  In this case, it's the Party Ball, which deals damage to the enemy while also fully healing the party (including JP).  I only had enough cash money to ever buy one and I didn't even end up using it, but having such an item available ensures that the economy never seems broken.  Even with the hefty amounts of grinding that need to be done at certain points, most equipment is expensive enough that one won't be able to purchase everything right away after finding a new store.

The pacing is somewhat slow due to the aforementioned grinding, but these points aren't too frequent, just very heavy when said points are reached.  Some towns have an NPC who will recommend what level the player should be at before attempting the next dungeon, which is a soft way of warning of the upcoming grindfest should the player fall short (as I often was).  More than most JRPGs, Ninja Rahoi! is extremely linear; most paths are straightforward with the surrounding area rarely exceeding a screen or two.  The boat is acquired very late in the game and only is used to access the area just south of where it's acquired (I think it was in Boat Town).  Same deal with the jet (cool though as it was).  It's not a very long game, though, and if one enjoys quirky JRPGs, well, it doesn't get much more quirky than Ninja Rahoi!.  13/20

Final Ranking:  63/100