Tiny Sword, Lag, and other Presentation Issues

Certain games suffer from non-obvious problems.  I’ve noticed this when I was trying to replay Lufia to talk about it.  Lufia’s a game that I played as a child, and it’s a game that becomes less annoying the more familiar you are with the way it plays.  Unfortunately, the game starts with a clever “final boss” type scenario with a high level party.  This quickly shows an unwieldy encounter rate, the fact that attacks do not swap targets upon an enemy’s death, and a awkward translation for your masses of spells.  A lot of these issues aren’t really obvious unless you’re playing the game, and frankly the game is really not that bad.  However, the issues are significant, especially when trying to restart the game.

The plus sign battle system is clever, and the large enemy graphics are striking in Lufia: Fortress of Doom (Taito, 1993.)

Another game with non-obvious problems is Terranigma.  Terranigma was translated in basically a weekend and released in Europe. In the US, people were fascinated by the bits of plot that was revealed in various magazines.  For example, the starting area was on the inside of a dome, so the world map curved in a unique manner.  It was also an action RPG, which were fairly popular at the time.  Unfortunately, the game has a Ys like difficulty curve.  Certain areas are impossible unless if you are a specific level.  One boss, Bloody Mary, is literally unkillable at your usual level when you reach her.  If you use magic (useless in the rest of the game,) you can kill her at a lower level, but most players experience horrifying defeats while pinging away at single digit damage.

If the low HP isn't obvious, I'm underlevelled for this area of Terranigma (Enix, 1995 JP, 1996 EU.)

Lag tends to pop up in ports and simply poorly programmed games.  Many Square ports to the PS1 have almost six seconds of lag every time you open a menu.  This means that the games look fine, but feel incredibly slow in comparison to the original games. Another example of lag is Hoshi wo Miru Hito.  The programmers added a three frame pause to each step which makes travelling very slow.

Lagoon has a noticably tiny sword on Nasir here.

As for the tiny sword issue, this tends to pop up in early action RPGs.  Usually the complaint is something like “The hero’s sword is tiny, and therefore it’s hard to fight.”  Usually this is tied into issues with invincibility frames which allow you to recover from attacks, generous hit boxes, and so on.  Lagoon (Kemco, 1991 JP, 1992 US) is a good example of a small sword.  Your sword never increases in size as the game goes on, and this soon becomes very difficult when you’re fighting screen filling bosses late in the game.  The SNES port of this game suffers from missing cutscenes compared to the Sharp X68000 version and fewer NPC characters.  The combat changes slightly (your sword stays out once you pull it out.)  The sword length, however, stays the same.

  1. Greg’s avatar

    I always wondered why anyone thought the tiny sword was a good idea. You would think that at least one of the developers would have said “Hey, that sword is pretty small. Think we should, I don’t know, actually make it a sword and not a knife?” Guess not.

  2. yukie’s avatar

    …That is not a sword that is a bowie knife. XD

    Useful if you are Quincey Morris against Drac, not so much otherwise.

  3. Rav’s avatar

    The Sharp X6800 version has a teeny sword too (technically, it’s in scale to your rotund little hero, but it’s still teensy on the screen.) Also has less chibi style graphics, which is kind of interesting.

    Lagoon also has pretty nice music. I believe it’s a port from the X6800 music, which may explain why it sounds unusual for a SNES soundtrack.

    Ys, interestingly enough, has one of the few incidents of tiny sword that I find pretty tolerable. However, fighting mostly involves humping the enemy from odd angles instead of actually trying to aim the thing with any precision.

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