|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.