Vintage computing, old video games

Finished Arcana (SNES).

Play as Rooks, an orphaned magic card user who needs to stop an evil empress vying to take over the kingdom. Rooks also wants to live up to his late father’s legacy.

Turn-based JRPG, Wizardry-like, with “cards” being a prominent visual motif and somewhat gameplay motif. Unique qualities: no backtracking, death of anyone in your party == game over

The use of cards in the gameplay would lead you to think the game has a combat system way more evolved than the old “Fight Magic Item Flee”. It does not.

There is a rock-paper-scissors-style elemental system. The game is balanced such that you can ignore it. There are also four pokemon (“Spirits”) which act like party members except disposable and only their magic is any good.

Pop quiz: magic spell called “Attribute 6”. What does it do, take a guess? Bonus: how it is different from Attribute 5.

I think people might not play this game any more because of the enemy system. What enemy system? Random encounters. How many? A lot. It has one of the worst grinds. Find enclosed: random encounters every two steps in the map, or on simply a 90 degree turn. If not for the in-game map it would have been a big problem. Although there’s items and spells to hightail it out of a dungeon, you always enter a dungeon from the very beginning.

Lack of checkpointing is a problem for one of the largest areas called “Stavery Tower”, a twelve-floor maze. You can’t save while in a dungeon, not even a save-to-be-deleted-on-resume (those are not popular on SNES platform anyway). So you will need to book one to three hours per game session. Alternatively, you can leave your SNES on and hope there isn’t a power outage, or use a piece of technology which rhymes with asdflemulator.

Still, the first 5 minutes and the last 30 minutes were Awesome. This game has a great soundtrack and visual style with a lot of character. The final boss concept is extremely cool. This game, you can tell what they were going for.

June 2nd, 2020 at 2:20 am | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Finished Super Mario RPG (SNES)

Do you remember back when Nintendo’s first party titles tried to push the limits of the current technology?

Since I had done the “finish all my Super Nintendo games I currently own” I bought this new one. This game was not technically new to me since I played it all the way through as a child but I wanted to re-visit it.

I’m of the opinion that this game is the spiritual precursor to Paper Mario. They share the same role-playing elements and comedic style. Before SMRPG- and not counting weird outlyer games like “Mario is Missing”- Mario was a side-scrolling platformer and that was basically it. This was a first in having a Mario game with a character-driven story, EXP and inventory management, and so on. It has a very disctinctive level of polish, and so I think Paper Mario went on to build on this idea later.

SMRPG- which is top-down isometric 2D- achieves a “3D-looking style” through pre-rendered 3D graphics and creative ways of having planes overlap each other. You would not guess that this game was for a platform optimized for copying 16×16 sprites since literally nothing appears to have square boundaries. So many things have curved, irregular edges and unusual types of blending. The sprites all look like shaded 3D models because they are (were). One other game that comes to mind which used these same techniques is Donkey Kong Country 1/2/3 but SMRPG has larger, more varied worlds and characters and so I think it represents a greater level of achievement.

Given the sizes of sprites and envrionment with the lack of repitition or content recycling, I have no idea how they were able to fit a game of this size into 32MB. Performance-wise it was one of only a handful of games that were accelerated by the SA-1 chip though.

The game uses QTEs in all fights which keep things from getting boring or too grind-y.

In this game someone from the Final Fantasy franchise makes an appearance. In this playthrough I beat Culex, an optional boss- for the first time. I can see why this was optional. This was harder than literally anything else in this game including the final boss.

June 25th, 2017 at 9:56 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Finished Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest for SNES.

Released around the same time as Final Fantasy V, but it is a way lower level of technical achievement compared to the mainline Final Fantasy games from that time. It has very tiny sprites with two-frame animations, not very many maps. In terms of gameplay there are some things to like: no random encounters, and your character can jump and use a weapon to interact with the environment. The plot is kind of thin and forgettible.

Everything made sense once I read about the origins of this game. Apparently, this was meant to be an introduction of Final Fantasy to a wide western audience, including children, since in the late 80s, early 90s console RPGs had yet to gain as much traction in the west as they did in Japan. That requirement meant streamlining all the combat and equipment system, and having something more action-oriented in the map aside from just walking around. And, having characters that are simpler. They further reduced the difficulty and grind by making it so you can save anywhere, rather than fixed save points, and all battles can be re-tried.

FFMQ has one really good thing: the soundtrack. Unlike the mainline Final Fantasies from around that time, it was not composed by Nobuo Uematsu. So the music feels distinctly different. Less anime-ish and more old-live-action-movie-ish. It’s almost at the point where a game like this does not deserve a soundtrack this good.

Some people call FFMQ the “worst Final Fantasy”. Maybe it is but it is not worse than Final Fantasy XIII.

 

favorite music

Japan VS USA box art

 

April 3rd, 2017 at 11:11 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

>”Let’s start playing pokemon sun!”

> Hi let’s get you acquainted with the game. To start, choose your trainer profile image.
> How clever! (Although a little presumptuous) It automatically detected a female profile from my Nintendo account or something, so it shows me these photo options
> I pick the one in the top row, third from the left
> Everyone in the game calls me “My boy…”
> mfw

December 30th, 2016 at 10:21 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink