Mirai Shinwa Jarvas is a 1987 Taito game. You can tell what you’re in for as soon as you google the game, since many Japanese players compare it to Hoshi Wo Miru Hito / Stargazers and call it a kusoge. It plays a bit like a Zelda clone, but has a layer of baffling user interface issues. The translators were aishsha and Pennywise. Ignoring some missing punctuation, they did a pretty good job.
The plot of the game seems to be that you’re an astronaut. You’ve arrived in this strange land, and your goal is to gather allies and conquer it. People tend to speak short little clues, so there’s really not a lot of plot or direction in the game. To advance, you join a guild, fight monsters to gain rank, and then buy passes to let you explore other areas. When your fame is high enough, you can start fighting bosses and accessing a castle which will give you mercenaries of some sort.
To explain the problems, let’s start with the first town. There’s an armory, weapon shop, pharmacy, guild house, and a boat house. These are all unmarked. The boat house is the farthest back house in town. Upon walking in, you’re instantly told that this is a boat house, and that you’re leaving now for Baffin. If you talked to some people in town, you know a pot is there, which a guy in town wants.
When you arrive at Baffin, it’s a pretty small place. You can explore to the west and find the pot in question, or walk straight back into the boathouse. It drops you off on a piece of coast that is to the west and north of the town you started out from. There is no indication of how to get back to town. Since gathering pots is an easy 200 gold at the start of the game, you will be doing this quite a lot. In the second town, there’s an anonymous house that warps you back to the first continent without warning. It’s the first house you see.
To level up, you need to talk to the guild master. There’s no warning for this. You just go in, do your regular business, and suddenly get a level up window. You can also fight duels in the guild house. While the projectiles from your opponent (varies by class,) isn’t that bad, touching the opponent is practically instant death. Your class choices are fencer, fighter, and mage. Mage is the blue robed character pictured going to Baffin and back. Fencers and fighters seem to be identical tubby little vikings.
The problems with Mirai Shinwa Jarvas aren’t problems of ambition. For the era, the continents, the horizontal fighting arenas, the fairly smooth scrolling, and the multiple towns were pretty ambitious. There’s a lot of game there to explore. However, almost every single aspect of the game is flawed in some manner. Fighting is hampered by balance issues and your sluggish hero. Shops mostly sells stuff that is worthless. Dialogue is delivered by randomly spawning in villagers who tend to get hung up on rocks and trees and spin in circles. While there are maps out there for the areas, it’s not very user friendly to dump the player in the middle of one, and quite often an area that looks like a logical path is actually blocked off. Gaining levels is flawed, since there’s no way to tell if you’re ready to get a new one. Since you don’t get many yes/no choices, you frequently lurch from event to event without seemingly any control over what’s going on.
Also, as an icing to the cake, I managed to somehow bug the game and end up trapped in the boathouse once. I loaded a save state, walked in, and nothing happened. The guy in the room said “You don’t belong here” and there was no door to leave.