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.


September 15, 2015

[Game 053] Bloody Warriors (NES - 1990)

Translation by Ded302 & snark

Another day, another Dragon Quest clone.  This one takes place in an Aztec-esque setting where I, a lowly chieftain-to-be, must collect warriors and proceed to bloodify them.  All this in order to stop — you guessed it — the Big Bad who is going to either destroy or take over the world (I forget which).  First though, I must shuck the "-to-be" part of my title and do a beginner's quest retrieving a quill from either a cave or a dungeon (I forget which).  As it is written in the RPGer's Tome of RPGing, I talk with everyone in town before leaving, but doing so leaves me with a sinking feeling.

This does not bode well.

I'll need a few levels first, I'm sure, so I'll just wander around the vicinity, slay me up some critters, slash open their corpses and let that delicious XP run down all over my body.  Sounds like a solid plan, right?

Dang, I really should have brought
some weapons or armour (or a shirt).

I play things a little safer, get some levels under my belt, purchase some equipment, and do that thing I need to do.  Upon my return to town, now a fully fledged chieftain, the townsfolk actually have different things to say.  I reel back from the sensory overload, the only thing keeping me from blacking out is my indomitable will as a chieftain.

Talking like this doesn't help either.

The turdsfolk gave me some good directions and the name of the next town, just what a good townsfolk should do.  True to form, the next village serves as a homebase while I attempt to defeat the minor boss located conveniently in a nearby cave.  After I encounter and defeat the boss, I figured that just beyond him must be some sweet loot so I delve deeper into the caverns.  A second boss surprises me and I have no healing left, just my indomitable will as a chieftain.  A fierce free-for-all takes place, both of us raining blows upon each other with absolutely no fucks given for personal safety.  Down to my last HP, I gather all my remaining strength and give it a double axe handle smash, followed quickly by a rollin' DDT.  Unable to resist my fearsome assault, the apparition fades from sight and all that remains is the victorious Nung.

Too bad I was killed on the way
back to town by a giant bee.

I attempt the cavern again, this time I bring as many healing potions (called Troops, oddly enough) as I can carry.  To my astonishment, there is actually three bosses but my reward is great — the King's sword and armour.  Donning it, I check my stats and am quite taken aback as I've more than doubled in power.  This is a nice change from the norm, putting far more value on equipment than levels.  This also has the pleasant side effect of making exploring more worthwhile stat-wise than grinding.  Acquiring this equipment before completing this town's main quest (a rescue mission) also makes completing the task a snap; one hit and the poor booger is begging for mercy, which I, of course, deny as long as possible.

I hold no quarter.  I ask no quarter.

After the game stupidly makes me show mercy to the brute, he buggers off and I'm free to release the prisoners.  Patting myself on the back, I leave the castle only to find the wuss has returned with friends.  I expect perhaps a string of successive fights but the game throws me a curveball — tactical combat instead.  Realization dawns on me as I recall the two townsfolk I previously talked to and who had asked to join me.  I had thought it odd that they never appeared in any fights, despite there clearly being slots for three more characters.  Now I realize that I wasn't just talking to one person each time, but to hundreds of well-trained soldiers.  Don't know how I missed that, really.  The fact that the healing potions are called Troops made more sense now, though not really because none of these soldiers help during the regular combats (and I didn't gain additional HP or anything).  At any rate, this initial encounter takes place in the featureless desert with a total of three units, so strategic considerations are limited, at best.

Ummm... flank 'em, I guess?

I'm not sure the flanking even did anything extra but regardless, the brute and his buddies bit it after the first round of attacks.

I'm sure these formations I didn't
get to choose were key as well.

Well, I expect the first such encounter to be quite easy; we'll see how this aspect of gameplay matures as the game progresses.  The remaining hundreds of soldiers go right on back to not participating during normal engagements and I go right on back to forgetting that they're even there.  My loneliness whilst in the throes of combat is short-lived, however, as I soon have a companion to fight by my side.  He's a freaky badass horse-man, with tattoos covering his amply muscled frame and a fiery red mane rippling with the same intensity as his cold, hard eyes.  And by what name shall I call this magnificent embodiment of the pure essence of mortal combat?

He looks like a Peter.

Soon after Pete joins, another dude signs up.  Orbis is his name and he's an eyeball creature of some sort that apparently doesn't warrant a nice introductory splash screen like Petey-o does.  None of us have spells or special attacks so battles are a predictable affair.  Thankfully, there is an option for automatic combat, giving me a slight break in which to imbibe the sweet ambrosia that is coffee.  Things go swimmingly until we come upon a quest involving the curing and rescuing of a man named Malis.  For whatever reason, whenever a NPC speaks of Malis, they do so speaking in tongues, making it nearly impossible to understand them.

I feel like a dog called Malis.

I do know that a herb is suppose to cure Malis, and I've bought said herb, but in the cave where Malis is located, the herb can only be used on party members.  Perhaps I need a different kind of herbal?  Anyway, Malis tells us to leave him alone so we do just that, continuing on our merry way, picking up two more homies: a buff gladiator named Ashog and a little wiener with a shield named Etern.

Oh sure, Etern gets a pic but not Orbis.

They both start off at level one and are statistically identical except Ashog has 10 more HP.  With five members in our party now, I have to decide which four participate in each battle.  Since we all just smash monsters with whatever is in our hands, and there doesn't appear to be any character restrictions on equipment, it seems kinda silly to ever put Etern into a fight.  However, I do just that, because I want to see if he'll blossom into a real warrior.  Level gains seem fairly uniform across all characters, so I'm doubting the wisdom of my decision.  He's at least another pack mule for additional items the rest of us may want to use.  Etern isn't really at risk in combat as both Pete and I are incredibly powerful with the equipment we have and have no problem slaying the multitude of nicely drawn and well-shaded monsters that infest the lands.

You knew one of these was coming, right?

But we're not the only ones getting our fight on.  Remember all those soldiers following us around?  Well, their ranks are swollen now since I've bought a bunch more, as well as a few expensive archer units.  Terrain tiles have been popping up but there is no information on how they affect combat.  In fact, a lack of information is prevalent throughout this whole system.  All the units on the field look the same and nothing distinguishes the archer units from the soldiers until they are actually engaged with the enemy.  Archers don't have a ranged attack like I expected and, indeed, even on the battle screen, they just rush forward like every other unit.  Damage given to each unit isn't shown at the end of the round, though one or more sprites may disappear, giving a general indication of damage.  Outside of the actual encounter, things get even worse.  There is no way to check the current state of the troops or even anything to acknowledge that they even exist.  Strategy needs information in order to be fun, game.  Well, the battles are over quick enough and not very frequent, so it's not too annoying.  I'm far more annoyed with the fact that in order to embark on the next leg of our journey, we have to wait until winter to cross the poisonous marshland and spring has just sprung.  In order to pass the time, I purchase a motorbike and a pair of shades for each character and we tear up the local streets for the next year.

Go ahead.  Picture Peter getting
his ride on some boss hog.

Winter has just arrived so we'll be gassing up the choppers, donning our finest leathers, slapping a Judas Priest cassette into the ol' boom box, and riding off into the hopefully now non-lethal swamps.  I forget why we're crossing the marsh, because it's been a goddamn year, but I'm sure whatever lies on the other side will jog my memory.

September 02, 2015

Doraemon - Ranking

Story & World

As sloppy, bland, and predictable as one would expect from a licensed game.  It would probably help to be familiar with the Doraemon series, but I'm not about to devote that much time just to influence this category by a couple of points.  The world itself is interesting enough, with lots of different locales to tantalize the eyes, but the inhabitants are a shallow lot who do nothing more than waste a few precious seconds with their tomfoolery.  3/20

Character Development

The standard minimum stats (attack, defense, hit points) raise by a standard amount at standard leveling intervals.  Most characters are fairly close to each other in stats (especially the protagonist and Doraemon), leading to no variation in combat roles.  The roles can be augmented somewhat through the use of the "magic" items; each character can comfortably have up to four.  Attack/Defense can also be varied slightly through some pieces of equipment, but only ever by a pittance (~5% of the total).  5/20

Combat & Monsters

Combat only gets interesting in the second half after accumulating a good number of items and having the monster difficulty increase.  Up until then, it's the basic menu-driven button smashing we all know and love.  Monsters are the (no surprise) standard stock of melee fighters, with the very occasional status ailment.  By far, Doraemon was on the receiving end of the majority of missing turns due to his fear of rodents.  In retrospect, at least this served to break up the monotony of combat a bit.  7/20

Graphics & Sound

Surprisingly, the graphics aren't just of standard quality; they're actually pretty decent.  Each setting is quite distinct from one another, with one colour dominating most areas (otherwise clashing quite badly).  The monsters are hella creative and tend to physically get bigger as the game progresses (somewhat negating my previous whine about how small they were).  The music must not have been all that great because I can't remember a single tune.  One thing I do remember is that the tunes have a decent amount of dat bass (my preferred range).  11/20

Gameplay

The economy is a weird one since it exists to drive item activations in combat as opposed to actually purchasing anything.  I suppose it doesn't matter since the whole thing is broken right from the get-go.  The few items that won't need to be purchased are ridiculously cheap, leaving all gold points available for "magic".  It's an interesting concept, but with nothing else to choose from, gold might as well just be called MP.  The fact that everyone dips from the same magic pool is also kinda nifty, but this too is ruined as there is so much gold that nobody will ever run out.

The one saving grace from mediocre cash-grabs like Doraemon is that the lack of effort also applies to the game length.  It sucks and it's kinda boring to play, but no need to worry, it'll all be over real soon.  Then we can get back to the important things in life like... uhmmm... playing more JRPGs.  6/20

Final Ranking:  32/100