Articles by Rav

A loving look at best and the worst of the genre.

I’ve been playing some Dungeons of Dredmor, and experimenting with all the new skills in the Wizardlands update.  Mostly, the game seems to have a lot of new things –  new equipment, new mini-dungeons, new traps that will kill you if you don’t know about them, etc.  I don’t really feel like I’ve played enough to do an article about what I think of them.

Two friends of mine picked up Binding of Isaac Rebirth, and I’ve watched them fight through the various things you can unlock in the game.  I tend to find roguelikes to not be “rpg” enough for my tastes.  There’s people racing Binding of Isaac, and I find the idea of making “builds” in a game where all your item drops are random is interesting.  Tactics in racing the first game and Rebirth is usually focused on manipulating how the randomization coding works, or paying attention to how various items interact.

Tales of Maj’Eyal is a game I’ve actually been playing recently.  It’s a roguelike in the style of Angband, but the main mode of the game is dungeons grouped according to your level.  Your class and race selection starts you with a specific dungeon, and then you usually have about three options for your level range.  Much like Binding of Isaac Rebirth, part of the game is based around picking a mix of skills that interact well.  For example, one build is a shadowblade (sneaky magical thief) using illuminate.   This ends up with a thief standing in shadows, and throwing out explosions of light for constant critical damage.  You can also make quirky options like “a person with skills like dragons with healing fungus” and “a dwarf summoning clones, climbing on vines made of stone, and armed with two shields.”

It feels more “Rpg” like in the sense that you can make roleplaying choices about your character.  For example, there are two main factions in the game.  One side hates mages, because they caused the present problems in the world, and has become more or less a zealous Inquisition.  The other side is trying to lay low and practice magic without the former problems.  Some teens from that faction left, and are causing trouble at the start of the game.  There’s also quests, towns, and stories in the various dungeons.  Unfortunately, the stories in the dungeons tend to be variations on the theme of “I entered this place.  Sure hope the terrible thing won’t hurt me!  I saw a terrible thing.  I think I’m going to die.  I’m dead.”

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Kininkou Maroku Oni was recently translated by aishasha and Stardust Crusaders with help from Spot Translations.  It’s a 1990 Gameboy RPG from Winkysoft and published by Banpresto.  The Oni series was highly popular, and the read me file for the translation mentions about nine games.  However, this game definitely has some rough edges.

The hero chats with a small child.

The hero exploring the first town.

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I decided to move this to a separate post, partially because this is a mess of “this little thing is weird and uncomfortable” adding up to “well, this is unpleasant.”

You see, Wizardry VI has the option to have your characters not be white.  In 1990, in a D&D style game, that’s pretty impressive.  Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any Western RPG that let you do that.  Japanese RPGs, mind you, weren’t and aren’t much better in that respect.  But, I should give credit to the game for allowing you to have a mix of male and female characters, and for a range of skin tones (taking into account the limitations of EGA graphics.)

However, one of the factions in the game is the Amazulu tribe.  They are depicted as a group of women wielding cliche Zulu shields, topless, a green bikini bottom, and some fringed leg bangles.  For a taste in the nudity and a picture of one of them, here’s a link to CRPG Addict’s account of playing through the game.  Click with care if you are at work.

Let me lay out the general issues, and then I can stumble over the “hey, this is weird.”

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I’ve been slogging slowly through Wizardry VI.  I read CRPGAddict‘s review of the game, and found myself agreeing with him on all of his complaints.  Since his “perfect game” and my “enh not for me” is pretty consistent, that’s surprising.


A friend of mine, watching the early parts of the game, decided to pick up Wizardry VI.  He played up to the Pyramid (the third major area of the game,) and quit, sick of cheap deaths, annoying game design, and gameplay that he described as “painful.” Read the rest of this entry »

I was surprised when I looked up the publication dates of this game. It came out in June of 1993 in Japan, and was translated and released here in December of 1993.  There are some rough spots in the translation (no worse than other games of that era) and Lufia II is the one that’s infamous for translation issues (glitchy graphics in a specific dungeon and various text issues.)  Lufia & The Fortress of Doom is a polarizing game for me.  I played it as a kid and struggled all the way to the end of the game.

In the introduction, Maxim and Selen have an inspirational speech.

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It’s actually pretty hard to talk about Destiny of an Emperor II, since it’s basically the concepts of the first game with better balance, polish, and other such things.  It came out in 1991 from Capcom, and was never translated into English officially.  However, there’s a pretty nice translation available.  The only complaints I heard about the translation was some non standardized spelling (for example, certain names don’t match the most common translation of a name.)

The art here for the Peach Orchard Oath looks more refined and detailed compared to the previous game. Guan Yu's lost the reddish facial coloring, and his beard is surprisingly short.

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Destiny of an Emperor came out in 1989 in Japan, and was released in the US a year later.  The publisher was Capcom, who didn’t do a lot of RPGs in the era, though they did release Sweet Home in 1989 (a interesting horror RPG.)  Considering that the game came out in 1989, there’s some definitely old school elements to the game, but it does have some interesting ideas.

The introduction to the game shows the Peach Tree Garden oath. Note that Guan Yu (on the left) has a different skin tone compared to Liu Bei (middle) and Zhang Fei (right.)

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I only tried TOME (Tales of Middle Earth) due to posts called “A Day in the Life of -” on the main forum.  The game’s been updated now, and supposedly it’s changed to the point where the familiar features are quite different from the game I remember.  Still, the stories were basically explaining game mechanics, odd and interesting events, and weaving a story for the character around them.  One of the best writers tended to take odd character combinations (a sorcerer with amazing speed, but ridiculously low health) and turn them into interesting characters (the one he was writing was a sort of British professor type) as well as explaining how to survive.

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More Romancing SaGa

Romancing SaGa was released in 1992 from Square on the SNES.  I actually managed to kill the first boss in Albert’s scenario, so I thought I’d put up some screenshots to give my readers a feel for how the game looks and the issues I’m having.

From top to bottom, this is Albert, his sister, and two guards fighting an enemy in the caves. The 13 damage is from the enemy using a knife.

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So, I started to look at Romancing SaGa for the SNES.

I was warned that there were a bunch of issues with the game.  For example, you need 30,000 gold for a quest, but you need to sell an item when you have 9,999 gold to get a jewel (representing 9,999 gold.) Any excess gold while you have 9,999 gold is lost.  I was warned that the final boss would probably be impossible for me to kill.  You cannot get all the items to weaken the final boss (since some quests weren’t finished.)

I wasn’t expecting that the music is lovely in the game.  I wasn’t expecting that the graphics look a lot like a mix of Final Fantasy IV’s towns with some pretty complex battle sprites.  I wasn’t expecting to feel as lost as I was.

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