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!