Bloody Warriors

Bloody Warriors came out in 1990 from Toei Animation.  The game was never released in English, but there’s a very rough partial translation released by Dodgy Translations.  From what I could tell, the Japanese version of the game has a surprisingly simple menu system.  On average, you have only one or two choices when you pick something from a menu, and the main menu is only three options.  Each area of the game offers one set of equipment in the early game, and there’s really nothing other than hitting or healing in normal battles.  However, there are some interesting elements, no matter how simple this game may appear.

The elder asks the hero (with the white hair) if he will create a better world.

First of all, the translation barely covers any of the plot of the game.  Looking around, it seems that the game is about some kind of holy war.  There is a sort of feeling of a Beowulf like epic in the early game.  For example, you start the game with an Elder asking if you will save them all.  You can then talk to your daughter, and then head out to prove that you’re a leader.  You defeat a manticore hiding in a cave (with your bare hands,) and then move on to some other towns.  You then fight three ghosts (which seem to be elemental spirits) to get the King’s armor and axe, and then rescue some people from a desert fortress.  After doing this, the guard of the fortress challenges you to a fight against his men.  Even without the text to explain why you’re doing this, you can feel a sort of dramatic arc in the storyline.

Note the large sprites for enemies. The auto battle feature uses "fight" endlessly, and is slightly faster than manually fighting.

Unfortunately, the game has some issues.  Note the 200 gold in the first screen of the game.  I had about 700 gold when I was ready to fight the first boss.  Assuming I never used the inn (which I did), and only had fights that gave the maximum amount of gold, I fought 63 battles to be ready to fight the first boss.  You cannot buy potions, weapons or armor for this fight.  All you can do is have enough HP and do enough damage to survive.  You have no areas to fight stronger enemies to level faster.  When you’re level 5, you can almost one hit kill everything in the area, and take minimal damage.  You will be highly unlikely to survive the first boss.  There are only two types of enemies in the first area.  This is bad game design.

This may look like an annoying maze. However, the target staircase is north and to the right of the hero. Simply head right, and take the obvious left to access it.

I found three dungeon areas when I did the first segment of the game.  Two of these were mazes, however they did offer some good design decisions.  Both mazes gave hints as to where you wanted to go (in the form of large rooms, visible staircases, or blatant loops to avoid.  Unlike Phantasy Star III, there were minimal dead ends which your hero should have seen coming.  While there was a hidden passage into the dungeon, both passages used the same method of opening them (pushing a rock to the right.)  Said rocks looked different from their surroundings.

There's a manticore in the center of this room.

On the negative end of things, some bosses are invisible.  You simply walk to a certain area, and you are attacked.  Since it’s tricky to know if you’re strong enough to fight something, it’s annoying to suddenly find yourself attacked by a strong enemy.  On the other hand, you can save anywhere you’d like, and dying merely causes you to lose some money.  When I actually had potions that I could buy, I had 2000 gold, and could only carry about 240 gold worth of potions.

The blue troops belong to the hero, and the red troops are the enemy. Each sprite represents a group of soldiers.

The strategy battle system feels a lot like a very simplified version of any NES strategy game (like Fire Emblem.)  You cannot see your movement range.  Turns go by quickly enough, and the attack animations are simplistic but do show damage.  It’s ambitious to include both battle types in one game, along with a save system.

This shows the seasons changing in Bloody Warriors. It seems to have no impact anywhere in the game.

Town graphics have a distinct dithered look to the sprites, but there’s variety in town layouts and sprites.  Annoyingly enough, several towns are laid out in ways that makes you walk a great distance to get to the inn or shops, and shops and inns are not marked.  Open doors indicate houses you can enter.  Some houses are gold, but this seems to have little to do with the kind of building.

I entered this town in the middle of winter. The first area is desert like, with columned buildings, and this area feels more like a Mayan town.

All in all, Bloody Warriors is an ambitious game.  It has some rough elements that make it feel like an older game like needing to use the menu to talk to people or the invisible bosses.  On the other hand, it has ambitious graphics and two different battle systems.  There’s a unique feel to the game.  The gritty sand textures, the complex floor tiles in buildings, and the large enemy sprites makes the game feel very different from a generic Dragon Quest clone.   Unfortunately, the amount of grinding and the way the game traps you in areas just isn’t fun at times.  I’m not sure you could make a modern remake of this game without heavily changing how plot events work and how the game progresses.

I like the elaborate sprites used on the floor of this prison in the desert fortress. The hero just unlocked the blue bars to free the townsperson to the north of him.

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