Creating an Effective Final Boss

DISCLAIMER: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR TREASURE HUNTER G.

I just beat Treasure Hunter G and, what can I say it’s an underrated classic. Though there is one thing I want to point out, and that is the final boss. The final bosses of Treasure Hunter G are the Dark Lord, the Dark Lord’s true form, and Jormungandr (Bone Dino in Metal Hawk’s translation patch).

The final dungeon is very straight forward, a series of hallways with mandatory fights dotted about, honestly pretty boring, you can go back for healing ofc. But the final bosses are something special. After a long final dungeon filled with fights, you come to the room where the Dark Lord awaits. He mutters that you brought the final guardian fairy to him, and proceeds to crystalize Rain.

As you fight him, you’re left with Red, Blue and Ponga (Rain’s monkey). Rain is your healer, she mostly handles healing and support magic. As a result you have to rely more than ever on Potions and D-Potions. And your inventory is small, and you also can’t move items from one character’s inventory to another, as tossing to that character ends up using the item.

As a result, it’s a war of attrition, but there is one other way. Every attack, physical or magic that you do to the Dark Lord rewards the cast with 4 to 5 EXP. This results in quick level ups which result in HP restoration bonuses. This is the backbone of the first two Treasure Hunter G boss battles and why they’re so effective.

After defeating him, you reach his second phase, where he has much more HP, and a smaller arena, similar to Giga Gaia’s in Chrono Trigger. Any character that fell in the previous battle is restored to 1 HP. At this point, you’re basically attacking in the hopes of accumulating enough EXP to trigger the HP bonus. Ponga basically had to do most of the work with some help from Blue as they could attack from a distance in the places covered with yellow tiles (which require less stamina per action than the red tiles).

It was frantic, it was hectic and, it’s legit one of my fave boss battles as of now, it’s the same feeling I got with Omega Weapon’s puzzle styled fight in Final Fantasy VIII and several SaGa battles. It’s challenging JRPGs done right. On top of that he heals himself for 400 HP which is annoying, but it adds to the hecticness of the encounter. Ponga was well equipped to take a good hit or two without trouble, so I guess I got lucky?

Once you finally complete the arduous task of defeating the Dark Lord, there is still Jormungandr to deal with, upon which Ponga reveals that he was the last fairy all along and Rain simply sacrificed herself to protect him. Rain is decrystallized and Ponga settles off to aid the remaining fairies scattered upon the islands. As you descend down the Yggdrasil, you’re caught by the fairies who escort you to the Jormungandr’s location, the beast decaying from not all 5 fairies being caught at the time of his unsealing.

This is a breather battle, where Red, Blue and Rain all do circa 100 HP damage to the Jormungandr with physical attacks. It can attack you for around 70 HP x2 but Rain can heal that up easily with Great Heal. It’s as if to say… You’ve earned your victory, feel the taste of being broken as shit. It’s a similar feeling to using Knights of the Round on Bizarro (Rebirth) and Safer Sephiroth (Sepher Sephiroth) or W-Summoning Hades and Knights on Ruby Weapon. It’s cathartic to see something hyped up to be a complete murder machine before, go down like a paper tiger.

So it’s with this wall of text that I say. Treasure Hunter G has possibly the best Square Soft final boss. It is a hot take to be sure, and many will disagree with me, especially since it’s developed by Sting. But the one I consider to be just as good, the Seven Heroes, relies a lot on balance issues wrt charming (human male characters are practically useless without the Somon Ring and the like).

Treasure Hunter G was the last game Square published for the Super Nintendo and man, they’ve gone out with a bang.

Designing a “Dragon Quest clone”

I’m gonna be real here and say that a lot of westerners don’t really like Dragon Quest because of how it’s designed. There have been takes of it being “poorly designed” and the like but I’d like to discuss a certain game for a little bit, today.

Cosmic Fantasy: Bouken Shounen Yuu (Adventurous Boy Yuu) is a simple Dragon Quest clone with some odd mechanic choices and lots of jank. Sprites get laid on top of one another in the order that they shouldn’t be, the music is pretty so-so even for 1990, the game feels overly punishing and while you do get lots of EXP from enemy formations once you get your second party member, Saya, it doesn’t feel good to grind.

The game follows the exploits of a young Cosmic Hunter named Yuu, part of an association meant on safeguarding the galaxy, crash landing on the planet Norg after a collision with some asteroids. As he goes on, he discovers that the planet’s villages and towns have been attacked by monsters and the like and its up to him to stop the once defeated evil mage Morgan and her “shitennou“, from wreaking havoc upon the planet.

Along the way he meets a young village girl named Saya who has magic powers and after the requisite “walking in on a girl taking a bath” scene, she joins his quest to stop Morgan. Yuu also has the ability to channel his bravery and love into psychic powers during brief parts of the story, enabling him to also use magic. It isn’t the best implemented thing.

Cosmic Fantasy is, as I said, bizarrely punishing, expecting you to grind a bit every town as Dragon Quest types are wont to do. But unlike Dragon Quest or Legend of Heroes I, there isn’t an incentive to grind in the form of items and weaponry, with weaponry being far and few between and shop prices being generally cheap. I commonly used this to help me boost levels, but as is, it feels like it’s asking you to gain levels for the sake of it.

Which wouldn’t be too much of a problem if the enemies weren’t also a huge pain. While 7th Saga’s Japanese version had some rude enemies, they could be managed with strong attacks with moderate MP requirements for casting. In CF1, there is the chance that enemies can just decide to pile up on Yuu and knock him out, sending him back to the last place he saved, be it a tent or an inn. And here is where the biggest problem of Cosmic Fantasy lies.

Yuu can’t die, else it’s an instant game over, similar to Lighting in Final Fantasy XIII. As an aside, gaming over sets you back to where you were, last you saved, and this means levels and experience. 7th Saga and Dragon Quest allowed you to coast on the fact that wiping out meant you got to keep your EXP at the expense of halved money. Furthermore, Yuu and Saya’s status ailments are not healed in inns, requiring items to be used on them.

Imagine my bemusement when Saya got petrified by a Medusa enemy in the Lighthouse near Nimlud and I couldn’t do anything about it because, another problem: Monmo, the adorable talking mouse bike that serves as fast travel, simply cannot go through the Volcano Cave, making your fast travel menu reset upon leaving it and Mars City, unless you go back through said Volcano Cave. Furthermore, Nimlud’s store does not carry Moon Drops, the item that heals petrification, and Yuu had no access to his psychic abilities, nor Saya’s inventory since she was petrified. I couldn’t also reset because I stupidly saved, hoping the inn would heal it.

My only resource was to savescum my way back to Mars with Mednafen’s savestate option. It felt horrible, but at least the game sets specific tiles at random to be the encounter tiles so they can be avoided. It’s kind of a Kaizo trap, and not one that feels good. All of this and easy access to stores to stock up on general healing items is things that Dragon Quest and other games have taught me to take for granted, so it’s bizarre that a game released in 1990 has none of that, not even a sort of in-town paid healer option. Which if I’m not mistaken, Dragon Quest III and IV had, forget if FFII and III did, I had to wait until the remakes.

It’s biggest upside is the beautiful, if overly still cutscene visuals, but if the gameplay suffers, it feels sort of hollow. Following up on games like Tengai Makyou Ziria and the TurboGrafx port of Ys I & II, it had some big shoes to fill and. It kind of feels average at best, mediocre at worst. It’s not a game worth being obliterated in an edgy, circa mid 2000s YouTube cringefest where some guy gets bizarrely overly angry at a game trying to ape someone who did that as a joke, no game is, but it’s a game one should approach with caution. I’m sure it has a lot of fans, especially due to the appealing character design, but it’s not for me, even if I’m gonna finish it.

Vay and the Perception of a Game

Morning, Noon, Evening! Sorry for vanishing, it’s been a while. Didn’t really have much use for this site, but I’d like to speak about video games. My personal site isn’t the best place for it, haha.

So, Vay. What do you know about it. You may have heard its name if you’re in the retro SEGA sphere or felt like looking up what English localized RPGs there are on the MegaDrive and its add-ons, or you’re just well informed in Working Designs’ localization repertoire.

Vay is a very aggressively “vanilla JRPG” game, a Dragon Quest clone. If it was released in the modern day, it’d be dismissed as a sort of RPG Maker type game, possibly even Kemco. Its somewhat laidback Japanese text and trademark Working Designs localization, bad jokes and all, helps it give its own identity. It was released in October 22, 1993 on the Mega CD under the name Vay ~Ryuusei no Yoroi~ (Vay: Armor of the Shooting Star) and April 14, 1994 in North America, simply under the name Vay.

Its plot follows the prince of Lorasia (Lorath in US), Heibelger (Sandor). A long time ago, a young woman was found in front of the castle, fainted and amnesiac, with only her name, “Elin”, remaining in her memory. Some time passes and she is wed to the prince, Sandor. Suddenly, the castle is struck by a terrorist attack from the Danek empire, killing many including the King and Queen. Steel airships drop great iron titans, mech suits which tore the castle asunder.

Aiming to get Elin back, Sandor is told by his chancellor to seek the wise sage Otto in the Pauth Cave to the south (forget its name in Japanese… you’ll see why I didn’t look it up). There he meets the sage’s young pupil, Pottle, who the sage allows to go with Sandor to aid him in the journey. The sage informs him about the Armor of Legend, stating that it is essential to defeat the Danek army, and informs him of the five orbs necessary to unseal it. Pointing him to the Fire Orb’s location in a nearby islet, the two head off to scavenge the orbs.

Along the way, there is a death of a friend, a departure of another, pirates, dragons and a tribe of dragon worshippers, Yggdrasil, strange scatterbrained NPCs, a fake king, a talking monster, and lovingly detailed enemy graphics and bombastic music. It’s far, far from like. Final Fantasy VI or Legend of Heroes III: White Witch’s level of quality, or the Lunar duology and Phantasy Star IV, keeping it SEGA, but it has a certain… “Comfort food” appeal to it that I very much vibe with, especially since it is one of the few English translated Mega Drive RPGs and I just have massive nostalgia for the Mega Drive aesthetic when it’s taking advantage of the limitations of the console instead of being all muddy and brown (like a lot of the western half of the library sadly).

The biggest thing I want to talk about is… How hard it is to find info on the Japanese version of this game. The Mega Drive and Mega CD did not sell very well in Japan, much less the 32X for that matter, so while a lot of people who owned the Mega CD in Japan bought Lunar: The Silver Star, much less have bought Vay, and as a result, there’s a dearth of gameplay videos, walkthroughs, etc. A shame since the American release alters stats and whatnot to make the game more challenging, and renames enemies, sometimes to more jokey names, sometimes to whatever was on the staff’s mind. There is a page of differences between the JP and EN versions courtesy of Supper on The Cutting Room Floor, but it doesn’t go too into detail in the script. I thought about recording a playthrough with Bizhawk, but I don’t feel like replaying it right now.

There seemed to be a walkthrough on rrpg.jp but it seems to have long been removed and I can’t access it through the Internet Archive. It makes me wonder, what if I was a Japanese gamer, and I got lost or I wanted to look up some enemy stats and I just can’t because I’m not good at English and I don’t know the English version has a different difficulty curve? What if this game never left Japan and someone who wasn’t very good at Japanese wanted to play it? The game is relatively linear, even for a JRPG, but even so it’s something that troubles me a bit.

It makes me think, what is the state of retro games in that a lot of things are basically unknown to a huge swathe of people just because no one bothered to make things like walkthroughs or a shrine. It’s something that’s especially frightening with the centralization of the internet these days, everything merging with Discord, Twitter and YouTube. It can actually be seen in the fighting game community and the gacha community (please never buy anything in gacha games) with the insistence of Discords for games and characters to detail technical data and strategy over a more open wiki that anyone can access at anytime.

YouTube videos can also be lost slash taken down, or even just shunted into the YouTube Kids pit of despair upon which they will be deleted without any other recourse because it turned out to be not for kids despite YouTube’s insistence. This has happened with many animators in the past, such as BalenaAnimations’ Sonic videos. It’s not something that directly affects games, but it’s proof that places like YouTube aren’t a good place to document a game.

A lot of wikis and game sites can also be filled with apathy. I’ve heard from a friend that the Final Fantasy Wikia has like barely any info on the lesser known spinoffs and older mobile games. A lot of Wikia sites on lesser known JRPGs are barely existent. Sonic Rivals, a PSP racing platformer that barely anyone played but me, has pages on “secrets” that are entirely made up, because no one played it. 90s and 2000s Japanese Windows games are a complete blank in terms of info outside of things like eroge, Visual Novels, Osamu Sato titles and Falcom titles, with their archival still in its infancy.

It brings to mind. Can a game simply virtually not exist in a part of the world, because there is no memory of it? It’s a reason I’m glad for things like translation patches, but even then only the big name titles get recognition. Games like Power of the Hired and Treasure Hunter G (the latter of which I’m playing right now) don’t really have any recent walkthroughs in English, Power of the Hired having none at all in Japanese or English, despite being a NCS/Masaya effort similar to Langrisser. It’s mediocre, yes, but that’s not a reason to ignore a game.

Sometimes translation patches can also warp the perception of a game. Tales of Phantasia got hit with this, with the more faithful if drier and stiffer translation on the Game Boy Advance (lol kangaroo) being despised by fans as being censored, when the original game never had Klarth, a grown man in his early adulthood, saying Arche, a literal teenager, might fuck like a tiger, which was added in by the translation group to the SNES version.

Similarly, the Super Shell Monsters Story (Daikaijuu Monogatari) adds in weird right wing spiel for humor in the game. I’m not sure of the context, but the American and Japanese right wings are very different in terms of concerns and bizarre fears. Different flavors of awful, essentially.

The same group also did the Power of the Hired translation and bless them, no offense to their efforts, but replacing the desu->debu (fat) pun in Dyno’s speech (you see, he is fat, please laugh) with him speaking like a southern gentleman is absurd. Personally I’d use that sort of localization choice when handling a character speaking in a different Japanese dialect other than Tokyo-ben, such as Kansai-ben.

This isn’t to say translation is an easy job, learning how best to localize things is extremely hard. In the end, I guess I just wanna say, documenting the many differences between versions and each games is an important task, as every game has value. A cautionary tale, a learning experience, a new favorite, a hidden gem, a guilty pleasure, an inspiration…

I guess that’s why I take things like poor translations, Working Designs’ translations and balance alterations seriously, it gives off a different perception of a game, including Vay, which includes things such as a Sylph (sorry, Sirufa) with explosive flatulence, and a “[r-slur]otaur”. Either way if you’re gonna rename a Minotaur enemy [r-slur]otaur, just because it has its tongue sticking out, maybe you’re not as good at your job as you think you are.

Gameplay Journal 23 to 25/10/2020

Started two games on my Vita’s PSP emulator, Final Fantasy I and Genso Suikoden I&II‘s Suikoden I port. While this means I’ve had to restart progress, I’ve made it back pretty quickly. Without the ability to quickly access Jisho I have to rely a lot more on the little Japanese I know and it’s working a bit considering the visual storytelling that goes along. Need to continue Genki.

First day I started Final Fantasy and made it to Pravoka, used my usual Fighter/Monk/Red Mage/White Mage party. Names are Takeru, Max, Andrei and Viktor, respectively. All in hiragana because I’m evil like that. Grinding money for equipment and such before moving on to Elfheim.

Later I started Genso Suikoden and went up to… Lenan Kamp I believe? Second day I pretty much played it nonstop and made it up to the Soniere Prison, and today, same thing, made it to Shasarazade. Recruited everyone, still have to recruit Sonya. Currently grinding to get maxed out weapon levels and equipment for everyone, and I’ll have to do it one more time after I get everyone for a certain character (spoilers~).

Suikoden is just like popping bubble wrap to me… ^^ Thinking of replaying the first two Arc the Lads again then do 3, continue FF1, first maybe play Sui2 after. I’m gonna try to do minimal-distraction marathons like this on the PC too, but it’s harder because despite being an antisocial hikikomori, I still like some socialization.

Sort of belated Gameplay Journal – 18/10/2020

Yesterday was a bit of a special day as I’ve jailbroken my 3DS and Vita. I’m not sure if linking to guides here will result in trouble for me so I’ll abstain, but you can find guides extremely easily on Google or DuckDuckGo or whatnot, be it for homebrew or the P word.

The Vita was rather easy, my brother originally installed h-encore, but to link my PSN account to the console, I had to format the console. Some rigamaroles with FTP programs and whatnot later it was done. The 3DS involved a lot of SD card inserting and removing and it was far more complicated.

To christen them, I installed BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend on the Vita as the original BlazBlue’s PSP port was a very dear game to me when I was younger and Mario Maker 3DS due to just being super into Mario level making (started working on a SMW romhack but I’ve been sidetracked by enemy coding, 65c816 ASM being the one programming language I’ve retained for longer than one year).

To test out BBCS I ran a couple of rounds with Bang. I’m in that sort of experience level where I’m lowkey mashing, but trying to do the commands on the command list at the same time, which is to say, kind of a beginner? Virtua Fighter feels easier haha. Beat Makoto and Carl and then stopped. Had my fill. Super good game and I’m curious about doing Story Mode and some Arcade Mode runs as well.

To test out MM3DS (very much an inferior version but I don’t really mind the lack of sharing since I can just play my own levels, I still can’t recommend this to anyone haha) I started working on a underground pipe maze level. I made it to the midpoint for now and I’m not aiming for a long stage. I’ll try to upload it to an online Mario Maker level database once I’m done. So far just playing around and designing feels great. Sadly you do have to beat the Super Mario Challenge to unlock everything. I’m at World 6 by now, but I’ve been playing since this morning so…

I’m planning to do the Switch next, but I’ll abstain until like March next year so I can save money for a safety net before I sell my patched one. Ones that are explicitly hackable go for at least €200 on eBay.

Gameplay Journal – 15/10/2020

Sorry for not making a diary these past few days. Either I’ve been grinding or I haven’t played at all.

So Suikoden. Grinded a bit to upgrade everyone’s gear at Antei and also equipped Qlon along the way, yesterday. Hataiate (Head Gears) and Guard Rings on everyone. Still need to buy Shinobi Clothes (Ninja Suit) for everyone, I think I have it for Flik and Viktor?

Secondly. I’ve started Dragon Slayer: The Legend of Heroes, PC-98 version (I couldn’t read some of the kanji in the PC-88 version due to the tiny font). This is a game I’ve wanted to start for a while and like, it started out kind of cute (young prince Selios goes out to beat up monsters instead of study), but then it started so by the numbers it was kind of silly, his town of El’Asta gets attacked, he escapes to Rudia where the king, Akdam, boldly proclaims he killed his dad, the former king As’El of Rudia, and caused the attack on El’Asta. And now he’s going to take over the world or whatever and like imprisons Selios, then he gets set free and joins the resistance to take down Akdam. Not many games can make the claim that they have you walk into a “I killed your dad” speech at the very prologue.

Yesterday I played through a bit of it, went through the prologue, and a linear cave with stationary Owl enemies that combined, raised Selios to Lv4, recruited Lunan, then I was hit with a mandatory EXP gate to Lv8 before Aron (Ryas’ brother, Ryas being Selios’ tutor, elderly mentor and caretaker), leader of the resistence and his granddaughter Sonia would tell me where to go next, which was freeing the injured miners at the Velga Mine. Suffice to say, I only grinded to Lv7 because the grind was just too much to stomach with such low exp gains and no “x points until next level up” counter, from what I could find. Managed to get Row (Low?), a wandering freeloader who mocks you for being weak until you reach Level 6 at which point you can recruit him, though.

Today, I finished the grind and got the mission. Headed to Velga, spoke to Pete and went off to beat up the commander, first few attempts went dreadful, due to him using Siles on my party and himself, and my Res Leaves not being enough for the battle (400HP when the max for the more reasonable enemies was 60), I didn’t notice the first page of the inventory was filled with items from the start of the game. Even then I just Flam 3’d his ass with Row and used Res Leaves when I had <=50 HP on any character. Anyway, I freed the miners, recruited Gale, who they confused with The Other Gale, the great thief Gale, and there was a silly scene where Row made fun of the guy and Gale just kept getting mad. Stormed Rudia the morning after, slayed some soldiers and a commander (much easier with Gale’s equipment and higher level). Akdam then ran away by boat. Chapter 1 clear, as we take back the throne.

After freeing Felicia, Selios’ mom, and getting the Tear of Gilmore from her, I raided the basement storage and headed to Nelia Harbor. Bought a ship, fell asleep at the inn, saw my Gold being drained, which lead to a cutscene where most of the party suspects Gale again, and we sailed off to Rondo Harbor the next morning. Currently grinding for some Chain Mail after buying some Iron Spears, both costing 1000. I mostly just have to buy Chain Mail for Selios since, for Gale, I can just get the Chain Mail found at the nearby Bloodshed Cavern, according to a spoiler-free flowchart-ish walkthrough I’m using from http://asurafantasy.sakura.ne.jp/ of the Super Famicom version. Gotta get this done at a reasonable pace!

Gameplay Journal – 10/10/2020

Boy howdy 🤠

Today was a somewhat eventful day, but sadly I didn’t really do much progress… I was feeling a bit fatigued from Suikoden’s length (though it’s actually one of the shorter on the PlayStation, I’ve just been taking forever in the game haha), so I decided to play something else.

Final Crisis’ opening illustration, before the game opens for real.

Both of the games I played today had their versions hail from the NEC PC-88, much like Ys, which I beat a few days ago. We have Final Crisis: Terrestrial Defense Police by Group R204, published by Techno Grard. And Dragon Slayer II: Xanadu, published and developed by Nihon Falcom.

Final Crisis, stage 1.

First off was Final Crisis. A sublime shmup with smooth animation on the ship and fluid speed. Challenge level wasn’t too high but I only made it to stage 2: Plant, before quitting. The options flanking the ship on top and underneath reminded me of Zero Wing (a game I really don’t care about, memes or not) but thankfully it plays much better. One of the hidden gems in the J-PC sphere.

Xanadu, facing the wall of the first building in Level 1.

Xanadu was a Computer RPG by Nihon Falcom that helped inspire a lot of early JRPGs. Its gameplay opens in a village where you train your stats, then you head to the underground, solve the Copy Protection puzzle (iirc head to the bottom, turn left until the ladder is offscreen then turn right. Rightwards is an item store and leftwards is the entrance of the first area), and then it’s off to Level 1 you go.

You basically do what you’d do in any RPG, walk around killing enemies and gathering experience and money. You can buy weapons and armor, but guides advise to save money for food, healing and keys to explore the towers, which are the game’s main dungeons, as enemies are limited. Leveling up is used by storing experience in Temples, but you have to be careful about Karma, else Temples won’t accept you.

A good starting set of stats is roughly, 80 Strength, 100 Charisma (for low prices) and the rest can just be 10 or 20. So far I couldn’t find where to buy keys but if a picture of the Saturn version I saw was right, it seems to be the guild. I guess keysmith wouldn’t fit on the sign (game is in English) and “key” was too obvious.

Dragon Quest and Suikoden were not played today, but Dragon Quest, NES version or otherwise, is an easy game to beat, especially with fast forward. Emulators used are ePC8801MA with the PC8801-MC system bios, Dragon Quest used Nestopia Zombie Edition and Suikoden uses Mednafen’s PSX core.

Shorter RPGs I Replay

Do you ever have a game that’s like, really easy for you to come back to, that you can always come back to and like clear it in a few days or less? I have a few, and honestly, they are all shorter than or around 10 hours in length. Namely, Ys 1, Arc the Lad 1 and Dragon Quest 1. I’m not knocking longer games, of course, even if some of them can be… absurd (Persona 5, talking about you).

But it does feel nice to just have a bite-sized RPG to just be able to boot up and beat in a short timespan. When I was younger (if you wanna feel old, that’s like 2010?) I had the energy to beat FF4 and FF5 in the span of like 5 days or less. Nowadays it takes me like four days to beat PC88 Ys 1, aha! But I digress…

Arc, Ys and DraQue are also all phenomenal games and pillars of their respective subgenres (strategy, action and turn based), which adds to the desire of replaying. Arc the Lad also becomes extremely fun when you try to do an Arc solo run. I always remember to go get the Mirror at Level 7, I believe? Of the Forbidden Ruins, or Iseki Dungeon (Ruin Dungeon, it likely sounds less generic in Japanese) in the Japanese version, to survive the paralyzing gaze of the Arc Ghouls or Archdemons and… whatever the green ones were called (haha), and keep myself from getting the turn based strategy equivalent of stunlocked. Arc usually gets to Level 60, the max, by Zariban or Alibarsha.

However, when trying to run a normal run where all the party members are used, due to the way the exp is distributed (think Fire Emblem’s earn exp through actions but also you get most exp gains by killing enemies), you will default to using some units more than others, resulting in an unbalanced party, Arc, Tosh and Iga are the brawn so they’re more likely to be over used.

Poco is an apt healer, with a high magic value and some decent attacks. Kukuru is a bit of a “best of both worlds” being a sort of “battle cleric”, but is pretty weak. Gogen can be powerful if you level him up, as a mage, but magic tends to require more MP the more you level it, and you can’t pick lower level magic unlike in the sequel, so his usefulness is mostly carpet bombing distant foes with Explosion. He’s also very frail, being a mage. I like using him, but I can imagine people not being too fond of him.

And Chongara is a summoner. His summons act as a eighth unit and have various uses, but they’re all situational. Choko is the only one worthwhile in battle (the ones with decent attack, you have to grind first and Fuck That) and she’s an OP bonus summon kept exclusively for non-story battles. Coupled with the racist accent given to him by W*rking D*signs (censoring so a certain Vic doesn’t ego search his way into here) in the English version, comprising of broken English which is A Choice considering his character is a greedy Middle Eastern merchant… He definitely got the short end of the stick. Which blows.

Ys: Ancient Ys Vanished – Omen is also a fun adventure that feels very filling despite its short length and world, I’ve recently played through the PC88 version and while the PCE-CD version is superior, it still felt particularly charming. The early version’s controls were stiffer and the Darm Tower bosses and enemies felt a bit unfair, but I place the blame on the limitations of the computer and the ambitions of Falcom to make a new bird’s eye view ARPG, the last one being their smash hit Dragon Slayer (that I personally dislike, but respect), and technically the in-tower portions of Xanadu and Xanadu Scenario II (which are on my endless to-play list!). It was just too much for the poor PC.

The graphics on the PC88 felt a bit too bright, but that could be to make up for darker screens like with the GBA. I’m not a Japanese 80s kid, and I don’t have the money to import a PC88 off Yahoo Auctions (as much as I’d like to, I don’t have the space, money or the ability to fix it when it eventually goes kaput), so I really don’t know.

Dragon Quest, I’m replaying right now, for the second time this year, as a small breather from a Suikoden maiden voyage. So far I’m level 6, learned Hoimi and Gira. I’ve visited Ladutorm aka Brecconary, Garai or Garinham/Galenholm, and I was chilling outside of Maira or Kol grinding for the Iron Axe before I got wrecked by being overconfident with a Skeleton I believe.

The Japanese script for Dragon Quest is far more standard than most English ones, which went from faux Shakesperean on the NES to a more tongue in cheek melting pot of accents and puns ever since the PS2 and DS. Say what you will about how far it went when trying to punch up the text I honestly prefer it to the original Japanese script.

The gameplay and story is as basic a JRPG could get, being one of the earliest ones on consoles. One party member vs. one enemy, turn based, attack, defend, spells or run, while the story is “free the princess from her inprisonment and save the peaceful country from the evildoer!”. I’ve come to think of games with simple plots but yet still feel engaging, like Dragon Quest, to be comfort food. Quick and easy RPGs to just dig in and not think to much about. Which doesn’t make them bad at all. Man, now I’m getting hungry.

It makes me kinda wish for more shorter RPGs of high quality honestly. 50+ hour epics have their place but a little 5-10 hour appetizer in between would go down just as well. I haven’t checked a lot of the indie and doujin RPG scene yet, so maybe my answer lies there. Ys games tend to be pretty short, but I’m not sure of the length of modern ones (VIII and Celceta), so is the Soul Blazer trilogy, I felt (of which I still have to play Terranigma, shame on myself as a JRPG fan from Europe).

I felt FFX was also surprisingly short, having clocked around 25h? But I also deliberately avoided Sphere Grid maxing out, Ultimate Weapons etc. I’m not much of a fan of grinding in Final Fantasy, moreso in Dragon Quest. Tactics is just peachy though but I’m not opposed to using the 9999 JP exploit (which I haven’t done, yet).

I dunno where I’m going with this but. Those are some of the shorter games I like to play repeatedly, Ys is my second time but I’ll try to replay it from time to time in the future. I’m thinking of replaying Ys II and III on PC88 next!

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus your own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.

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