December 01, 2017

[Game 066] Rainbow Silkroad (NES - 1991)

Translation by aishsha & Pennywise

It seems like the majority of these translated JPRGs are quite content to exist as Dragon Quest clones.  This isn't a bad thing as the aesthetics certainly do their part to get me rock hard, but a clone better do something funky fresh to avoid being too derivative.  Rainbow Silkroad does just this by basing the economy on the trade commodities of yore.  All the popular items are represented: silk, salt, porcelain — they're all here!  Wandering monsters (the regular source of golds) now give nothing except for license points, which are used to purchase the right to trade in premium goods.  And yes, experience points are gone as well, meaning no levels and, indeed, no stats of any kind (outside of HP).  Buying new equipment raises HP instead and any increases to attack or defense is done entirely behind the scenes.  There is also a water gauge, which drains at different rates depending on which terrain type is being traversed.  Well, it wouldn't be much of a RPG if it was all about increasing doze mercantile skillz, so the main quest is to gather seven shards of a mirror in order to prove I'm the king or whatever.  The journey to wealth and power will undoubtedly take me all the way up the Silk Road and I started off at the western end in Damascus, Syria.  Since I'm just a po' young merchant, my initial stock was only five clay pots of questionable quality.  However, by harnessing my inner capitalist and opening my mind's eye to the eternal plane of supply and demand, I was able to deduce that the best place to sell would be the city to the east, Baghdad.

Or this guy just told me.  Whatever shut up.

I loaded myself up with my five units of porcelain, strapped my trusty knife to my belt, donned my no armour, and headed towards Baghdad... and was almost immediately accosted by a solitary pickpocket, who decided to ditch his usually shtick and just straight up demand my money at knifepoint.  I could also tell he was a criminal because he used yer instead of your.

Still better than using you're or, god forbid, yore.

I guess my knife-fu techniques were pretty def because I perforated his punk ass with nary a scratch on myself.  I also sliced and diced up a couple of snakes before arriving at Baghdad and selling my warez for a slight profit of 10 GP per unit.  Pulling out my papyrus spreadsheet, I took note of all the prices and, knowing full well that I'm in a game, was not surprised to find lower net profits for the cheaper goods, which, of course, is all I could afford.  So this is how the grind was going to work then.  An interesting spin on the regular wandering around and I must say that I approve of this change, if only because it is a change.  It didn't take long before I was out of the porcelain biz and hawking beans and wheat instead.  Prices are rock steady and, netting 100 GP per trip, I was soon able to afford some armour which substantially increased my HP.  During all this time, I was also suppose to be rescuing the unfortunately named princess Ugarit, but if the caliph was prepared to send an unarmoured merchant with a knife, then he could damn well wait until I purchased some protection.  The path to her rescue involved entering some dungeons, predictably having chests of gold within them.  Even though I've only started my journey, I'm already converting the gold into commodities in my head ("Wow!  That's 2.5 wheats right there!").  I also met my first companion, a tiny genie who doesn't participate in combat but can tell me what items do.

Finally I'll know what FLASK and HERBAL BALM are.

The final hurdle in rescuing princess Uglytits was navigating a pyramid, complete with guardian Sphinx and undead pharaoh boss, both of which combat can be avoided with the proper actions.  The Sphinx, of course, wanted a riddle solved, and the pharaoh just wanted 90% of my water since he was thirsty after his long "nap".

I wouldn't have been able to beat on
something so totes adorbs anyway.

Thanks to Shnugs, I knew that my FLASK was filled with water and could replace what Tutankhamun had drank.  After further inquiry with her, I discovered that drinking water would likewise slake my own thirst and allow me to keep on living.  With princess Urraagghh safely tucked into my caravan, it was an uneventful trip back to Baghdad and the grateful caliph granted me access to the east.  I also got some kisses from the princess which interestingly was always followed by some fanfare, regardless of how many times I initiated it.

And you don't even want to know how
many times I did this. Or that my
pants were off the entire time.

Oh yeah, I also got one of those mirror shard thingies I was looking for, wrapping up this chapter in a nice, neat, little package.  I got some more time with the princess as I escorted her to the Persian city of Tehran (in modern-day Iran), as she was due to marry the shah there.  After dropping off my sloppy seconds, it was back to business and I soon had a solid trade route from Tehran to Istanbul, dealing in coal and oil as my newly purchased Fuel License allowed me to do.  Prices are still static and this allowed me to generate some big profits as well as a gripe with the economics in general.  Why would I deal in anything other than what my license allows me to?  Without some variance in price, there's no reason to ever deal in cheaper goods once I've outgrown them.  What would really have been nice is a little supply and demand action to force me to periodically swap goods.  It's still early, so I'll continue to track the market, but I'm assuming that this aspect will stay the course.  I had only made a few runs when I was summoned by the shah who hit me with some serious déjà vu.

Naw, guy, I already did this, guy.  Guy.

Yep, the princess managed to get herself capture again, in record time.  I was suspicious right away and thought back to our tender nights during her rescue, talking softly under the moonlight sky, and saying more to each other with an awkward glance than a million words could ever hope to convey.  I also thought back to our nights under the canvas of my caravan, where I cold wrecked dat pussy so fucking real boo couldn't walk straight for days, U NOE WUT IM SAYIN'!?!  I figured this was just one of those games that girls like to play, so I just played it off and got back to making dem endz.  I was anxious to make some cash as there was a new type of shop selling mercenaries.  I had noticed in the equip menu that there were three empty blocks just waiting for a character to hop on in.  Initially, I thought these blocks would be filled with NPCs that I met along the story (I thought Ugarit might be one), but a faceless mercenary is actually far more appropriate for a merchant transporting expensive merchandise.  The game agreed with me and soon I had Soldier1 under my command, armed with nothing and having the same HP that I started out with.  So not so much a soldier as a slave.  Since this is around the 13th century, though, I'm totally cool with this.  I didn't have cash to outfit him and still have a full load of goods, so I just gave him the knife I wasn't using anymore (upgraded to spear) and called it a day.  Having S1 with me enabled a new combat option called Watch, which is exactly what it sounds like — me standing idly by, decked out in copper armour, while S1 battles bloodthirsty bandits and venomous serpents, buck naked except for his rusty old knife.  The best part, though, is that after combat ends, the game gives me full credit for the kill.

Game, I think this is the beginning of
a long and beautiful friendship.

Tactically, I suppose this might come in handy if I'm ever low on HP, but honestly, I'm more likely to do this when I'm at full HP because otherwise I'm not abusing my power to its utmost.  I did buy S1 some proper equipment eventually, but not equal to what I have, since I'm a little paranoid about him turning on me.

Learning to walk backwards is a must
when you're a power-mad asshole.

One of the coolest aspects of Rainbow Silkroad is that the locations are all fairly accurate to their real-world counterparts.  Townsfolk aren't always willing to give up directions and having a historical map on hand helps tremendously in planning ventures.  For example, coming out of Tehran (pictured above), I knew I needed to go to Istanbul first but there were three possible roads I could have taken.  My geographical knowledge of the middle east is sorely lacking and I always appreciate any game that helps me fill in such gaps or sends me spiraling through the depths of Wikipedia.  Well, I suppose I should go and "rescue" the princess.  At least I'll probably receive a hefty reward from the shah (cash only please).