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Thread: Opinions on poorly documented imports

  1. #151
    celerystalker is a poindexter celerystalker's Avatar
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    Default Falcom Classics

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    Whether you like their games or not, you've to to respect the hell out of Falcom. They have been making the games they want to make in the style they like for more than 30 years, and they do not forget their past. Whether it's continuously propogating and remaking Ys games, patchworking a massive franchise like Dragon Slayer into a ton of sequels, only to spin them off into sub-series like Xanadu, Sorcerian, Lord Monarch, or Legend of freaking Heroes, they just keep their kinds of games coming, and spit out the odd Popful Mail or Tombs and Treasures as side projects. Falcom Classics on Sega Saturn is a celebration of three of their early RPGs, redone with beautiful backgrounds and sprites, orchestrated music, and the option to tweak the mechanics to play in a modernized "Saturn Mode" or retain their original PC-88 mechanics. The games they chose to venerate in this collection are Dragon Slayer, Xanadu (Dragon Slayer II), and Ys Book I.

    Dragon Slayer is credited as one of the first Japanese RPGs, and honestly... it's more significant than playable. Even updated for Saturn, the core game here is wandering an overhead maze, collecting power crystals, taking them to your home to level up, and survive long enough to become powerful and slay a dragon. It's easy to die, and a super slow grind, and then it's off to another maze to do the same. It's massively long and tedious, but can get oddly addictive if you get in an old-school zone, just wanting to kill one more dragon... but it's generally speaking a pain in the ass. It did pioneer Falcom's "barrel into your enemies like an idiot and hope for the best" combat, and at least there's no real language barrier, and the Saturn version is merciful enough to allow saving...

    Xanadu, though, is imminently more playable, especially tweaked for Saturn. This one is a side-scrolling adventure that looks more like Romancia or Legacy of the Wizard. The shopkeepers even speak English! In Xanadu, touching an enemy opens up an overhead battle screen, and you fight your enemies Ys-style, or you can use the C button to fire a magic attack once you've powered up your INT stat. You explore Metroid-like until you find a castle or dungeon you want to enter. These play out largely like the labyrinths in the Legend of Zelda, and tend to revolve around finding enough keys to make your way to the boss. Level up and get equipment first, though, because those bosses want to fight. The fights play out on a 2D horizontal plane, and were clearly the inspiration for the superior fights in the later Legend of Xanadu games. It's fun once you get a feel for it, and even your items are displayed in English along with your stats and such, making it a breeze to play, even in Japanese.

    Ys Book I has been on so many systems and has been re-made so many times that it hardly needs an introduction. It does feature the steepest language barrier of the bunch, but everything having icons helps when figuring out your equipment. The new graphics are nice, and the arrangements of the music are pretty cool. Other than that, it's the same old short and sweet Ys Book I you've known forever... and if you haven't, I'd say you've missed out if you like old-school action RPGs.

    The first release (pictured here) also came with a Special CD, which contains some bonus features. These include an Ys Book 1 drama with beautiful art stills to help relate the story, a brief behind the scenes of the voice actors from said drama, a tour of a little Falcom showroom full of stuff you'll just be mad you don't own, and an art gallery slide show. It's neat stuff for a die hard Falcom fan, but completely unnecessary from a gameplay standpoint.

    For me, the prettied up Xanadu is the real gem of the bunch, and is probably the most accessible, playable version available. Dragon Slayer is charming, but a slog, and there are plenty of ways to play Ys in English. If you're a Falcom fan, it's a no brainer, but if you're more just curious about some older games, I'd be a little more cautious. It's a must for a Xanadu fan, though!

  2. #152
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    Default Falcom Classics II

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    Falcom Classics vol. I presented three of the company's seminal games in Ys Book I, Dragon Slayer, and Xanadu, all prettied up for the Saturn for your revisiting pleasure. They streamlined a few archaic design issues to make them just a hair more playable, and it was pretty successful. So, they felt the opportunity for a series of compilations was present and set loose another pair of Saturnized classics to see how they'd fair. This time, it's Ys Book II and Asteka II.

    Now, Ys has an enormous legacy as it is, and Ys II has had plenty of releases and remakes. This is one of the prettier ones, and is a cool companion piece to the first Falcom Classics release. Book II is considerably longer than Ys I, and it has all of the same graphical tweaks and orchestration as its predecessor. There are plenty of ways to play it in english already, but if you are an Ys superfan, you'll find a lot to like in playing through this deluxe package, even if it is the same old Ys with a nice coat of paint.

    Asteka II, though... now THAT... actually, that's pretty easy to play in english as well. It's the NES cult classic, Tombs and Treasures, now playable on your Saturn! It's a prettied up version of the point & click/RPG hybrid, also offering up reorchestrated music and an oh-so-slightly tweaked interface that displays info on your cursor and displays your inventory on the exploration screens. You search ancient Aztec ruins and solve puzzles. However, this is based on the original PC version, and as such had removed pretty much all of the combat in favor of the story and point and click elements. It's neat to see it get some love, but the game is pretty tough to play in japanese if you don't already know the game like the back of your hand.

    Falcom Classics II is neat to continue your Ys quest if you enjoyed vol. 1, but this is a pair of games you can easily play in english and on other systems. It's tough to recommend to anyone but an enormous Falcom nut, as the games here are hardly the ultimate Falcom experience... I'd have been thrilled for a glossy Legacy of the Wizard or Faxanadu, or even Romancia, but it wasn't in the cards here. Ah, well. At least volume 1 had Xanadu.

  3. #153
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    Default Dragon Slayer Gaiden

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    Continuing in the Falcom vein I've apparently started on this page, Dragon Slayer Gaiden is a Game Boy exclusive spinoff of the original Dragon Slayer... but as there is no real story to Dragon Slayer beyond, um... slaying... dragons..., Dragon Slayer Gaiden is really just a use of the franchise title, which carried some clout in Japan, to market a new action RPG with similar thematic elements. Since most Dragon Slayer sequels are detached as much as mainline Final Fantasies, this is no big swerve.

    Anyhow, Dragon Slayer Gaiden is an overhead action RPG that immediately looks like a Zelda or Final Fantasy Adventure/Seiken Densetsu, which is pretty accurate on the whole. You talk to NPCs in towns, learn about their problems, then truck off to dungeons to kill what ails them. In the overworld, you'll fight monsters much in the style of the original Legend of Zelda, with a sword that protrudes in a direct thrust with a tap of a button. This is worth mentioning, as most Falcom games eschewed button presses in combat in favor of barreling into enemies offset, but as this was made by Epoch in a licensing agreement in which they ported Falcom games to cartridge systems and included Barcode Battler compatability in Dragon Slayer: Legend of Heroes II, it has a unique feel. Perhaps the thing that feels strangest, though, is movement. You move on an invisible grid, one square at a time in a manner that feels like the NES Dragon Warrior games. It's an odd feel for an action RPG, but it works well enough as you get a feel for it, and the game does not force you to take damage just to turn to strike an adjacent enemy.

    Really, the fantasy theme and the way monsters rise from grave stone generators are the only real ties to the actual Dragon Slayer, but Gaiden is still a very playable game on the system of a modest, beatable length and can be solved by english speakers with a little trial and error. The graphucs are pretty par for the time, though its color enhancement by various players is a pretty dull green over everything, so I prefer the black & white. The music is okay but forgettable, and the combat is a little slow and easy.

    Realistically, Dragon Slayer Gaiden is for two kinds of players: die hard action RPG portable fans or Falcom fans, as although it is rather playable and even fun, it doesn't do a whole lot that is truly unique aside from a cool feature where you can choose from 4 character classed with unique abilities (I prefer the fighter) that, while a cool idea, don't really change the structure of the game aside from the bizarre Tanker class.

    If you're a Dragon Slayer fan, go for it. It's a fun little departure for the series. Otherwise, it's likely to collect dust. At least it's not super pricey.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 03-02-2016 at 01:48 PM.

  4. #154
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    Well, started adding some crude screenshots to the posts in this thread. It's gonna be a little random, as it's a lot easier if I do it by system instead of the order they were posted, and there's well over a hundred games gone over in here, so it'll take a few days where I have time, but it's a start. Got Blade of the Darkness, Bokan GoGoGo, Odo Odo Oddity, The Adventures of Robin Lloyd, Dokioki, Azito, and Super Robot Shooting tonight. Hope it adds some fun for anyone who likes this stuff.

  5. #155
    Great Puma (Level 12) Steve W's Avatar
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    I decided to... acquire... Time Bokan GoGoGo for emulation purposes based on your article (and having enjoyed the Yatterman Night anime that was out recently) and I've got to say, it's pretty confusing and not tremendously good. I found the steering to be pretty awkward. There are something like three other Time Bokan based PS1 games, but my emulator doesn't want to run them.

  6. #156
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve W View Post
    I decided to... acquire... Time Bokan GoGoGo for emulation purposes based on your article (and having enjoyed the Yatterman Night anime that was out recently) and I've got to say, it's pretty confusing and not tremendously good. I found the steering to be pretty awkward. There are something like three other Time Bokan based PS1 games, but my emulator doesn't want to run them.
    The thing with Bakan GoGoGo is that in story mode, your vehicle is kinda crappy at first, and by completing races, you get points to spend on upgrading its speed, handling, etc. On top of that, it has more of a rally kind of feel with an emphasis on power sliding and drifting. They simplified it, though, by just having you press R1 to go into a power slide, which works pretty well. Don't know if that'll make it any more enjoyable for you, but I really started to have fun once I got my hands around the controls.

    The best of the Time Bokan games to me is Bokan to Ippatsu. It's a vertical shooter and plays great.

  7. #157
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    I had a question. When I bought Sunsoft Vol. 4 and 5 a few years ago, Metafight, RAF World, and Hebereke all had an annoying "bass" sound to all the music (Ripple Island sounded just fine). Just curious if you experienced that or if they sound just like their FC counterparts?

    Also, great thread! I knew about some of these, but many are ones I've never heard of and sound interesting!

  8. #158
    Cherry (Level 1)
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    Quote Originally Posted by DDCecil View Post
    I had a question. When I bought Sunsoft Vol. 4 and 5 a few years ago, Metafight, RAF World, and Hebereke all had an annoying "bass" sound to all the music (Ripple Island sounded just fine). Just curious if you experienced that or if they sound just like their FC counterparts?
    Is the bass in Hebereke playing wrong notes? I've seen the game do that in certain emulators.

    Quote Originally Posted by DDCecil View Post
    Also, great thread! I knew about some of these, but many are ones I've never heard of and sound interesting!
    Agreed!

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    Quote Originally Posted by goldenband View Post
    Is the bass in Hebereke playing wrong notes? I've seen the game do that in certain emulators.
    They were played on an actual Japanese PS1. If I recall, the bass was just really loud, drowning out the rest of the soundtrack!

  10. #160
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    Quote Originally Posted by DDCecil View Post
    I had a question. When I bought Sunsoft Vol. 4 and 5 a few years ago, Metafight, RAF World, and Hebereke all had an annoying "bass" sound to all the music (Ripple Island sounded just fine). Just curious if you experienced that or if they sound just like their FC counterparts?

    Also, great thread! I knew about some of these, but many are ones I've never heard of and sound interesting!
    Thanks! As soon as I can, I'll check up on that music question and compare the NES to the PS1 sound.

  11. #161
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    Default Tadaima Yuusha Boshuuchuu Okawari

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    Tadaima Yuusha Boshuuchuu Okawari for the Super Famicom was a game I picked up with absolutely no idea what I'd be getting myself into. The fantasy anime art lent itself to an RPG or strategy feel, and while I don't do as many RPGs as I once did, a good action RPG is something I tend to be down to play. Welp, as luck would have it, it was none of those things... it was a board game, and I do love me some video board games! All I needed was to find a little time to learn to play it!

    Now, I've played a load of video board games, so I was pleased as can be to see that Tadaima Yuusha Boshuuchuu Okawari has a lot of unique twists to keep things interesting. It's designed to be played by four players, and the computer will control any un-manned players. You begin by picking which character you want to be and naming them. Each character has their own look and class, which affords unique abilities as well as weapon/armor selections. You then select a map, which is populated with various cities, shops, outposts, and a castle with the map's master. You then select a target amount of NVP (some sort of victory points), which are earned through various methods, but predominantly by winning battles, the largest amounts from liberating cities and outposts. You then designate a number of years to play, and the player who achieves the target and has the most NVP at the end will win. So, time to start!

    You find yourself on a 16-bit RPG-style overworld map, and you have a handful of options. Roll the die, use an item or spell, and check equipment. Pressing Y will allow you to freely view the map, and pressing X will give you a secondary menu, from which you can stay still, pass, view the map's features from a menu, and check your and your fellow players' status/character sheets. Spells can have effects like causing an opposing player to lose a turn or teleporting them or other effects, but most often you're gonna roll and move.

    Moving is the first big wrinkle. You move much like in a grid-based strategy game, and the higher you roll, the farther out you can move. You can freely explore the map from here, but there are a few things you'll want to do before picking fights with strongholds and cities. First, hitting the inn doesn't just refill your health; you can hire mercenaries in them to form a party of up to three (you can go alone if you're an idiot). These have varying classes and abilities, so you want to be sure to hire a party that is capable, but you can replace folks you don't like later (or they might randomly ditch you). Next, hit the Pico bazaar, where you can upgrade weapons and armor, as well as purchase items like potions and magic. You can also occasionally randomly get hit up by a traveling merchant or wandering mercenary, but these stops are the only surefire way to get outfitted for the battles to come.

    Battles can randomly occur on the map, but are guaranteed at the cities and forts. These play out much like a Final Fantasy or Breath of Fire encounter, as you select your attacks/spells/items/run/etc. from menus. These last until either side is dead. Lose, and you'll go back to the nearest inn to the start, having lost some NVP. Win, and gain EXP, money, NVP, and even occasional items. Liberating cities and stronholds give massive NVP bonuses as well. Once a city or fort is clear, it stays free, so there is a limit as to large NVP quantities.

    The graphics look really great, with big character portraits, colorful sprites and backgrounds, and nice looking cutscenes. Games can be set to be rather short or massively long, like in Dokapon Kingdom, and there are several maps to play through. You can save at any time by pressing Start, which is convenient. Altogether, it's a fun board game, and the grid movement reduces the computer cheating that typically plagues these sorts of games when played in single player. It may seem a little daunting at first, but it's honestly one of the more accessible games of its kind I've played. I like it a lot.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 07-07-2016 at 11:50 PM.

  12. #162
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    Default Gunhed

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    Haven't updated this thread in awhile... still, decided to in my sleepless haze spend a little time learnificating myself a little more on the Famicom strategy game, Gunhed, which I've owned for years, but hadn't sat down and figured out yet. Most folks know that the Turbografx game Blazing Lazers is a localization of the PC Engine game called Gunhed. Other folks are aware of the kitsch classic international film, also known as Gunhed, which, aside from the title font, shows very little in common with that space shooter, starring a giant robot and some stranded commandos who must escape a deadly technological terror tower. It's odd, but an interesting watch, having gotten an english DVD release from ADV films. The Famicom game, ALSO called Gunhed, seems to be a predecessor story to that film, showcasing teams of giant robots going to war in a grid-based strategy title.

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    I'll have to apologize in advance for any inaccuracies, as my brother wasn't available to help translate, and there's scant information online about this game save that it exists, so you're pretty much at the mercy of what I've figured out so far here. Gunhed for Famicom appears to depict the war on the island with the tower shown in the film that resulted in the Gunhed being left inside. Up to four competing players can play as separate armies, or in my case, I played alone. The goal appears to be to collect the parts and build up a leveled-up Gunhed unit to infiltrate and conquer the tower at the center of the map and its defenses. This is easier said than done, as an underpowered bot will simply be immediately destroyed by the tower's laser cannons upon entering, so building up a proper destroyer is necessary.

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    The game begins by allowing players to choose sectors of the map on which to deploy your mechs. There are four types of mechs: scoutheds, assaultheds, commandheds, and the mighty titular Gunheds. These all have different allotments of weapons, movement range, armor, etc. Selecting a robot allows it to move by moving the cursor, or while the cursor rests on it, pressing B allows you to choose to use your overworld arsenal. Here, you can do such thing as launch long-range missiles, fire a circle of napalm, lay mines, self destruct, and more. These are limited and immensely powerful, but do not gain your forces experience points. By moving onto your opponents, though, you can trigger battle scenes, which are fights to the death.

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    First, a comparison screen pops up. Here, you can re-allot your experience in attempt to situationally prep your mech, spend new experience, and choose to let battles be automatic, semi-automatic, or manual. I prefer manual, where I can fully control my robot during battle, controlling its movements, firing, and switching weapons. Here, the two units move around a small field, jockeying for position and trying to blow each other to smithereens. Ammunition on specials is limited, so it's vital to win early and often, as the victor collects the spoils, taking not only experience points from your victories, but also replenishing health, ammunition, and gaining parts that can be used to build new units. The battles are pretty decent to play, being brief but fair, and bringing the right mech is vital, as even a powered-up scout is gonna get its asd whipped by a Gunhed.

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    Moving around the map, aside from opponents you'll encounter various structures and terrain types. Most buildings award parts and items when occupied, while terrain limits movement. Defeating all of your opponents will cause a new rival army to arrive, offering you the chance to continue empowering or losing your units. This seems to repeat until you're either wiped from the island or conquer the tower and its horrors. In some ways, it takes on almost a board game feel due to its singular map and objectives that guide its strategic gameplay, creating something in between the likes of Front Mission and Archon. You can save during your turn to continue later as well, as it takes quite awhile to build up a Gunhed badass enough to get the win.

    Gunhed is one of the better NES strategy titles I've played to date, and its franchise ties add a bit of intrigue for me. As far as accessibility goes, it isn't too bad, using english status screens and having very small kana menus on the overworld to memorize. I'd love to explore the multi-player on this one, though I doubt I'll find many takers on that front. Still, if you're a fan of the Gunhed film, franchise, or Famicom oddities, it's a fun little game to play around with, though it isn't one you'll finish in an afternoon most likely.

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