Ankoku Shinwa – Yamato Takeru Densetsu

This game is by Tokyo Shoseki – the same people who published Elysion and a classic action RPG called Romancia.  Snark has a beta translation out, with some truncated lines of text.  The game is a text adventure game with real time side scrolling boss fights.  Considering the game came out in 1989, the game is pretty ambitious.

Choosing to enter a dangerous spring causes a rare death within the text adventure portion of the game.

The game works by event flags, which are displayed via books in the upper right corner.  It seems like you are a little more sturdy if you have all the event flags before you finish an area, but it’s impossible to be certain of that.  Most progression feels kind of fair.  You can search items, and then discuss them with a companion if you have one along.  Often, you get direct hints about what to do next.  Unfortunately, you can skip out on event flags if you skip a step.

Finding out that your father was interested in Tateshina Mountain is a half an event flag (shown in the white book in the upper righ.)

The boss fights tend to come down to a slug fest.  Your best strategy is often to find a good spot to stand and pray your invisible health holds out.  Turning requires you to be standing on the ground, and there’s a fair amount of knockback when you are hit.  When it works well, the fights can feel pretty dramatic.  When it doesn’t work, it feels like you’re dying simply due to bad luck.

Here, the hero is about to face the first boss.

Is the game a RPG?  Not really.  While you do upgrade your equipment as the story advances, there’s really only a linear path from event to event.  The layout of rooms tends to be linear, or small areas which allow you to circle around the area.  Most of the game is focused on the story (which amounts to explaining Japanese mythology, and your ties to it.)  While I found the plot to be pretty interestingly laid out, the hero doesn’t have enough text space or text to give him much character.  He’s trying to find out what his father was researching before his murder, he’s getting marked with the power of Brahma, he’s finding out he’s the reincarnation / descendant of Yamato, and he’s travelling through time.  All of this happens without a single comment, save for some irritation that a woman is rude.

In the introduction, the hero looks at his dead father.

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