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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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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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Silva Saga II

Silva Saga II is a very pretty SNES game.  It was released by Seta in 1993, and features a number of glitzy graphical effects.  The battle system and plot advancement, however, feels a lot like a more retro style Dragon Quest clone.  A translation was quite recently released for the game, but it’s pretty playable in Japanese, as long as you can figure out where to go.

Note the reflections in the water for the hero. The sprite work in the game does look pretty nice.

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Solid Runner

Solid Runner came out in 1997, and was a late game in the SNES lifespan.  It was developed by Sting, and published by ASCII.  The graphics are quite nice in the game, and there’s a number of subtle fancy details.  For example, the very first house in the game has double doors, and each door opens (and swings shut) depending on how you touch them.  Looking online, several Japanese commentators said that the game was gorgeous.

The internet of the far future is apparently a bulletin board like system. A very nice touch is that read messages vanish from the list.

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First Queen

First Queen feels to me like the game may’ve been designed to use the SNES mouse.  There’s a certain floatiness to the main character and a very chaotic feel to the AI of your other player characters.  The best analogy I can think of is resembling the gameplay of the Lord of the Rings SNES game.  Looking online, however, I found out that the game was a series of four games.  The first game was released in 1988 on Sharp X68000 and the NEC PC-9801.  More information is available on the Wikipedia page about the SNES version of the game.  The SNES version came out in 1994 from Culture Brain.

The hero on the right has just talked to the king and princess on the left. The 50 in the bottom menu is the hero's health.

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Dragon Quest V

Dragon Quest V is a game that was legendary when I was a kid.  I remember everyone saying that Dragon Quest V had the best story, and Dragon Quest VI had the best graphics.  This was back around 1992 when the game first came out from Enix.  It finally was officially translated in 2009 for the DS.

Here, a nun discusses what your hero has endured up to this point in the story.

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If people don’t use interpretation, or reading between the lines, or trying to find fun in a game, they tend to love games that I only like, and they tend to hate games that I’ve been able to enjoy.  By interpretation, I think I mostly mean something akin to the concept of “active reading.”  In literary criticism, this often means looking at a work both as the text on the page, and looking for the work as what the text could be interpreted to mean.  So, for example, you might take Freud and say that he’s saying A, but he means B, and B is a lot more interesting than A.  If someone’s just looking at what the game does, they may like a game with a stronger theme to the plot (but may ignore the clunky ways that the theme is set out.)  If they can’t look past a bad translation, they may ignore what the plot is trying to say in favor for how poorly the plot is saying it.  I think it might help to discuss specific games to try to explain what I mean.

A cutscene shows bats fluttering up and away from the fortress with a large moon in the background. This plays when you approach Magus' fortress.

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Last Battle

The Last Battle, at first, seems to be the most generic possible RPG.  It was published by Teichiku, and developed by Atelier Double.  The support developer was Powwow. It came out in 1994.  1994 was the same year that a large number of RPGs were published, including Final Fantasy VI.  This means that Last Battle can kind of feel like a game that’s second best compared to the competition.

Illusion of Gaia, Paladin's Quest, and Last battle all start with a school. It's not really a novel beginning.

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Shin Seikoku: La Wares

Yutaka, as best as I can tell, didn’t publish many RPGs other than La Wares.  The developer, J-Force, did do some other RPGs for the SNES.  Shin Seikoku: La Wares is a 1995 game, and it never came over to the US.

You get to play as Michelle as you plan a rescue for Shi-Feng. Note the muted colors.

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