Unusual NES clones

Green grass, mountains, and the sea.

The mountains in particular remind me of Final Fantasy.

There’s people out there who say everything RPG on the NES is Dragon Quest clones or some clone mixed with Final Fantasy. However, that’s overly simplistic. Take Chaos World. A weird sprawling game that lets you pick the gender and type of fighter for your main character. Then you gather a group of followers (less, of course, the one you replace.) Followers not in your party take travel time to get to the nearest Inn, and there’s jobs you can send them out on, and check back in on their progress. The battle system is a basic automatic battling system.


A late game battle screen.

Selecting Fight uses the tactics in Plan.

Does that mean the game is good? Well, to my taste, the early game is pretty fun. Unfortunately, the late game starts to have maze like dungeons and almost tedious grinding. Still, there’s that same stark sense of a gigantic world that you get in Phantasy Star II or Final Fantasy.

Town in Chaos World

To the left is the party changing house.

Another example of something unusual might be Legend of the Ghost Lion. In it, you have a female heroine in a completely grind free rpg. All leveling up happens when you find items – in the US version, these are called fragments of hope. Most of the gameplay amounts to using summoning to summon various partners. The English translation is a little rough, but it’s flavorful with all the evocations of hopes and dreams instead of HP and MP. The battle system looks faintly similar to Dragon Quest at first, but, of course, there is non of Dragon Quest’s traditional grinding.

STED: Iseki Wakusei no Yabou is a Phantasy Star clone. Unfortunately the fan translation for the game has garbled pointers resulting in a terrifying world where people thank you for finding things, and then when given the item, they lament about losing it. Of course the translation has nothing to do with the original author’s goals, but it does make it hard to discuss the plot without mentioning the uncanny valley effect of the translation.

Talking to a young woman in town.

You get that same line when you're talking to thin air.

As for the actual gameplay, STED has ambitious ideas. There’s body damage, so you can lose the use of your arms, or legs until you heal them, and there’s HP damage which can be healed by resting. There’s also a robot that doesn’t use either of those systems. Occasionally, you have to change the robot’s functions so it can work with computers or the like. Dungeons tend to be first person 3D rpgs much like the first Phantasy Star.

A status screen, showing a schematic of body damage.

The parts of the figure turn colors as damage is taken.

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