Sunday, January 19, 2020

Game 28 - Feda Emblem of Justice (Areas 3-7)

Many of the battles in this game don't really have much to say about them, so I'll only highlight a few of the ones that were tricky or had interesting things going on. I do wish the Saturn emulator wasn't so resource intensive because this is definitely a game where having a good emulator speedup would help.

Area 3

Most of the battles in this area involved killing the 2 leaders, something that reoccurs in many battles. Ain and the crossbow girl both have paralyze moves that help holding off the enemies, but it's perfectly fine to kill a few of them if you can't handle just the two leaders without getting killed. The AI almost exclusively goes for Brian and Ain, which is both helpful and annoying.

I reached Fedayeen (the highest Law level) after this area, so it's not especially hard to get.



Area 4

Mostly "beat the leaders". Battle 22 has you get one unit up to the gate switch to open it. I used one of the flying units, and since most of the enemies were just going down towards Ain/Brian the flying unit was able to sneak in and open the gate. This doesn't always work because some enemies will attack another unit in their range if they're unable to reach Ain/Brian. Others won't, even if they stop right next to an ally.



Area 5

One thing to note about this area is that the troopers wandering around the circle can be avoided; even if they encounter you, you can retreat from the battle and then move on. This helps with time and losing too much Libra.


Area 6 


Battle 35 introduces the annoying Kemp Trooper, which will show up in many battles beyond this. The worst part about this guy is that his special move (which he always uses) kills anyone in one hit. By Area 8 I had enough HP on Brian to survive one hit with single digit damage, but this means you really have to work hard to keep Brian out of their range, and also Ain unless Ain can dodge the attacks.

For several of these battles I could not just do the mission objective; I had to kill all but one or two enemies just to survive long enough to reach the stairs or the top of the map, etc. This never dropped my rank below Fedayeen, though.



Area 7

All the battles in this area are "defeat all monsters" so the game lags a bit here -- I was reminded here of how slow and repetitive the game is when you don't have the optional goals. The same rules apply as usual; watch for the units like the Kemp Troopers that can kill your units in one hit, exploit the enemy AI, and use a lot of special abilities. I subbed out a lot of units here; the mage was no longer pulling his weight so he got dumped for another fighter.



Five areas left. I know the post isn't very detailed; one thing I always have trouble with is how much to write. I feel like writing detailed descriptions of all 70+ battles in this game would be tedious to read (and write!) and not of much interest to people who haven't played the game. My usual assumption is that someone who hasn't played the game should read the first post and then the wrap-up, although if the game can't be played in English I try to give more detail.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Game 28 - Feda Emblem of Justice (Areas 1 and 2)

FEDA: The Emblem of Justice (フェーダ 〜 ジ・エンブレム・オブ・ジャスティス)
Release Date: 10/28/1994, remake 6/24/1996
System: Mega Drive, Saturn
Developer: Max Entertainment
Publisher:
Yanoman




This game was made by a number of the developers from Shining Force, and there are a lot of similarities between the games (such as the races, the equipment, 100 xp = level, no counterattacks, and such). There are a few important things unique to this system, though.

I have not seen the turn order system used in any other game. Each unit gets one move a turn, but you and the enemy take turns moving units of your choice. If you have 4 guys and the enemy has 8, you move one, then they move 2, then you move one, etc. until all the units have been moved. This is a little more predictable than a speed system but you have to be careful that you look for which units the enemy might be moving.

The game takes place in twelve "areas" which have maps like this:


You move from place to place, and enemies move as well. Additional enemies will come out of forts and such, so if you stay in one place you can grind.

But you might not want to, because the third significant gameplay feature is the alignment system. Your group has a rank that reflects their reputation (as a deserter band of rebels). There are nine ranks -- four chaos ranks, one neutral, and four law. The rank is based on a hidden value called "libra"; the higher your libra, the more Lawful the rank. The rank will affect which characters you can recruit, and the ending. Characters can also leave if your rank changes, so if you start off Chaos but then try to get back to Law you may lose some of the characters that joined you.


The main way to affect Libra is the "mission" in each battle. Battles can end by defeating all enemies, but most battles also have an alternate win condition (like "escape to the north" or "kill the leader"). If you do the alternate win condition you gain libra and get some bonus money and XP. If you just kill everything instead, you lose libra. You also lose a small amount of libra for every kill, even if the battle requires you to kill the enemies.

I am playing the Saturn remake (on the mednafen emulator). It's pretty similar to the SNES one -- they added voiced sections (where the voice gets out of sync with the pictures), tweaked the balance a bit, added one extra character, and a few small changes of that nature.



Area 1

The main characters, Brian and Ain, decide to defect from the Empire when they're tasked with slaughtering a village of civilians. The first area finds them escaping from the Empire while trying to leave the continent.

Four battles is the minimum:
  • Battle 1 - Escape to the north. As I said, it's odd to move towards the edge and just have to let the enemies wail on you, and I did have to use one Ration.
  • Battle 2 - Kill all enemies. Nothing you can do here.
  • Battle 3 - Hold off enemies until the villagers escape. The enemy AI is pretty stupid; they go mostly for Brian and Ain so as long as you keep their HP up it's fine.
  • Battle 4 - Survive for 4 turns. Again, just sit and heal, block the villagers as the go onto the gondola while the enemies hit you.
I had the rank of Blade Eagle (the first Law rank) after this.




Area 2

Brian and Ain fall in with a resistance group and eventually meet their previous commander, who is creating "demi humans" out of civilians in the area.

Seven battles here.

  • Battle 5 - Kill the enemies other than demihumans. They're first so just avoid them while killing others.
  • Battle 6 - Move to the top corner of the map. Again, just run away from the enemies.
  • Battle 7 - Kill the enemies other than demihumans. No trouble here.
  • Battle 8 - Reach the exit. Here the bats kept blocking my path so I actually did have to kill three of them.
  • Battle 9 - Destroy all enemies
  • Battle 10 - Destroy all enemies
  • Battle 11 - Beat Alnos. You start surrounded which can be dangerous for the low HP magic using units. But Alnos will come down to attack you, and a few strong spells or special moves will destroy him.
After this area I was at Valkyrie rank, second from the top.




Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Game 27 - Langrisser II wrap-up

FACTS

  1. Turn type: Player turn/Enemy turn
  2. Maps: Medium to large. Terrain gives bonuses.
  3. Character Customization: Each character has a branching class path.
  4. Character Development: Standard XP level system. At level 10, character automatically upgrades to a new class, although the player can choose which one to advance to.
  5. Party Size: You can always send out all your leaders. Each leader has up to 8 nameless grunt soldiers under them (fortunately the game has an auto-move system for the grunts if you don't want to move them all individually).
  6. Equipment: Each character can equip one item (which includes armor, weapons, or items).
  7. Game Flow: 27 stages, one after another, no repeating stages (unless you use a code) or multiple paths.
  8. Saving: Permanent saves both in and out of battle.
  9. Death: The nameless grunts all disappear at the end of the stage whether they die or not. A commander who dies misses the bonus XP at the end but survives.

IMPRESSIONS 

This game shows a lot of development from Langrisser 1, although many of the upgrades had already been made in the PC Engine version of L1. So this didn't feel like as much of a jump up, but I thought the changes they did make were good. On the whole it felt smoother and easier to play.

The story is greatly upgraded as well; it's still not quite at the level of later games but there's a fair amount of dialogue during the stages, which is always appreciated.

It seemed to me like the system made a lot more sense in this game -- in L1 I often felt like I didn't know exactly what was going to happen in a battle, whereas this time I could usually tell from looking at the stats and considering the unit compatibility. I prefer this kind of game (and I'm wondering what the first game will be that actually gives you the damage you'll do before you attack).

I've heard this is the hardest Langrisser game. Parts of it were difficult, especially the middle. There were a few stages in the middle I had to restart several times to get everything working right. But once I got a good team of 4th-rank characters it became quite easy from that point on. Even the meteor casting enemies weren't too bad because I could heal, or take them out with ballistae before they could do too much.

Overall a good game, and probably a contender for game of the year for 1994 although I already gave 1991 to Langrisser 1.

Next up is Feda Emblem of Justice, which I'll be playing in the Saturn remake.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Game 27 - Langrisser II (Stages 22-27)

Finished! I found the late stages were not all that difficult; having an entire team of 4th-class characters with some 5th-class was sufficient.

Stage 22

I found this was the last tricky stage. The beginning is tough because of the meteor users at the center. I was able to take out one with ballistae when he decided to come through the wall at me, but the other one I had to take the long way around.


Bernhardt can either be killed or approached with Jessica; I just took him out again. Now we have Riana and Lana back -- I was going to make one an Agent and one a Summoner, but I only got the Agent.


Stage 23


In this stage you have to find the Holy Rod in one of the rooms and then carry it out (or beat all enemies). If you leave the rod the enemies will try to get it sometimes rather than fighting you, which wastes their turns. Hein has finally gotten Zone, which removes the enemy stat bonuses -- this was a very common and useful spell in L1 PCE but I think they realized how good it was and made it much rarer and harder to get.

Stage 24

I tried to have Lana and Riana use monks in this stage to raise their levels; it's a bit difficult because it leaves them so exposed to the enemies and the monks are pretty weak, but I did manage to get Lana to class 5. Lester sat in the water to distract the other enemies while I went across the bridge.

Stage 25

This is a wide open space with a lot of horsemen. I intended to do a lot of levelling with Phalanxes, but it turned out that I wasn't careful enough about protecting my commanders and many of them died. Rather than restarting I decided just to finish the stage with the remaining units, assuming I was strong enough now to win the game without everyone being at class 5.

Stage 26


On the first turn, I used Hein and Lester's ballistae to eliminate all six of the meteor users hiding in the walls. Once they're all gone the rest of the forces aren't too bad -- Egbert is somewhat powerful and he only took a while because I was trying to use Lana and Riana a lot.





Stage 27 



Final stage. At first I tried to use only the commanders and make a rush for Bernhardt but that obviously didn't work. Next time I played normally and it was pretty easy -- I destroyed Bernhardt's throne with a meteor, then used Magic Arrow and Lightning to get him down to 3 HP. Elwin finished him off.


The final sequence has different endings for each character -- there's a good and best ending based on their kills, and then a bad twist if they died during the game. I don't know the complete formulas but I know this is in Der Langrisser as well.





Wrap-up to follow.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Game 27 - Langrisser II (Stages 15-21)

Stage 15



Ugh, I hate these stages where you have to cross rivers because so many of the units and commanders are bad at it. The main difficulty of the stage, besides that, is that dark priestess Lana comes in with reinforcements. I failed the first time I tried it because I was being too aggressive. There are ballistae on the other bank to frustrate you as well.

On my winning run, I kept everyone back except for Lester and the flying units, who cautiously took out the initial water guys. The reinforcements arrive then, and I dealt with them before moving south. Lana was really hard on this run for some reason and I had to use a lot of effort (and help from Scott and his angels) to take her down.

Once she was gone I crossed on the right side, took out the ballistae, and then dealt with Imelda. I never bothered with the enemies on the left.


Stage 16



This is Leon's last stand. The enemies will generally rush you, and if you try to cross the bridge the wizards in the castle Meteo you. I used Hein's ballistae to take them out, while the rest of my units dealt with the people coming across the bridge. Once everyone is beaten but Lana and Leon, Leon will come down to deal with you himself. I just beat him by ganging up on him with spells and other things, but that means I didn't beat Lana or get the hidden item.


Stage 17 




Emperor Bernhardt. I started out by using spells and ballistae to take out the magicians near the start, and then proceeded slowly forward. Once those initial enemies were gone the rest of the stage was not that hard since the other magic users don't have horrible spells, and Bernhardt and Bozel didn't seem to do much. I finally got Elwin to his 4th class so now I have Scott, Elwin, and Hein at the 4th level. One thing that bothers me about Langrisser is how hard it is to catch up commanders that are behind, because of how ineffective their units and bonuses are.

Bernhardt himself was easy; you can destroy his throne with a Meteo which gets rid of his 40% bonus. I got the items here; the Masaya Sword gives 2x EXP. I gave it to Jessica because I really want her to get to the 4th class but the stat minuses are going to make it hard.

Stage 18

I had the villagers stay put. I left Arlong behind with pikemen to deal with the reinforcements, but he and Keith together were not able to deal with them so I had to eventually use ballistae as well. Other than that this map wasn't too bad. I didn't defeat Lana.

Stage 19

Time to steal a boat. Despite the Meteo casters on the boat itself I didn't find this stage to be overly difficult. I left Jessica and archers back to try to deal with the reinforcements but even so she didn't quite make it to the 4th class.

Stage 20

Finally 4th class for Jessica. This ship-to-ship battle is a bit annoying because of space limitations but the monsters themselves are not that hard. I have heal spells now that can deal with Meteor; that and ballistae can usually remove the threat of the Liches while I deal with the other monsters.

Stage 21 



Ooh this is an annoying stage. I hate any stage where you have to move through water because so many units are slow. I switched the Masayan Sword to Arlong since he's the last person not at their 4th class. This is pretty much the same enemies we've been dealing with; the Golems are new but the strong units of Elwin and other 4th class people are powerful enough to take them down.

6 more stages left.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Game 27 - Langrisser II (Stages 8-14)

Stage 8

This stage is on a big bridge. You have a turn limit, but it's really lenient. Bowmen help with all the flyers, and having my own flying squad helped with the crowded bridge at the left. There are reinforcements that come in. I was able to beat Zolm but Vargas was too difficult so I just let him be. One of his minions killed Elwin and I decided I didn't have the right personnel on that side of the bridge and I didn't feel like restarting or trying to maneuver people all over there.


Stage 9

You have to defend the people in the castle of this stage as a goal but I'm not sure they can actually lose; there are only two squads against them and with the castle people standing on the walls they have really high defense.



Stage 10

Another slime/monster stage. Unfortunately Riana is gone for a while so other people had to fill her shoes with the Guardsmen. You start off against Lester, but once the monsters show up he switches to NPC and helps out a lot against the water enemies. The rest of the water guys you can lure onto the land where they're much easier to defeat.


Stage 11


This was the hardest stage so far. There's an area of fire that keeps expanding, and if you try to play it slowly Jessica will jump out ahead and die. I had to reload many times losing commanders, and even on my winning try the majority of my grunt units died. Apparently there's some bonus if you keep people alive; I haven't seen it yet but maybe it's not actually displayed.


Tornado was a huge help in this stage (both from Hein and the griffon guy). I was able to class up a few people now so I have a Dragon Knight (Sherry) and a Serpent Knight (Lester). Scott made it to High Lord but he left along with Riana.

Stage 12



The ostensible goal is to get the Dark Rod but Egbert filches it before we can get there, so it's just beating the enemies. The initial ghouls that come at you can do a lot of damage if you're not careful; I used some spells to weaken them and then finished them off. I would have liked for Jessica to kill most of the slimes but I couldn't really manage that.

There is a secret level but I decided not to do them this time. They have overpowered items.


Stage 13



This stage felt like a breather after the last few. It's in a town again and there's no real time limit, and the monsters don't rush you. The main difficulty is Vargas, but if you have all your spellcasters against him plus other units he will eventually go down.

Stage 14


I wasn't actually able to do a lot on this stage. The goal is to take the Langrisser before Leon can get to it. This is easy with Sherry as a flier, and in the end I decided to just take it and leave most of the enemies alive -- I hate to give up the XP but I didn't feel like I was strong enough to hold off Leon. Now Hein can use Ballistas, which is very useful.

Stage 15 is not easy! I've already restarted twice and I'll have to do it again but I think I can beat it this time. 

Friday, December 13, 2019

Game 27 - Langrisser II (Stages 1-7)

Langrisser II (ラングリッサ―II)
Release Date: 8/6/1994
System:
Mega Drive
Developer: Masaya
Publisher:
Sega



I decided in the end to play the original version of Langrisser II first. There are at least four significant later versions of this game:
  • Der Langrisser (1995) for Super Famicom, which made some changes to the system and introduced a branching storyline
  • Der Langrisser FX (1996) for the PC Engine FX, a fully voiced remake of Der with different graphics
  • Langrisser Dramatic Edition (1998) for Saturn, which added more routes and remade the graphics again (perhaps based on the Playstation version)
  • Langrisser I&II (2019) for PS4, switch, etc. This is a complete ground-up remake.
Langrisser II sticks the closest to the original game. A number of the changes made since Langrisser already appeared in the PC Engine remake of the first game (like the hidden final classes, the shop, and the spell system) so this game feels very familiar to me.

Some of the changes from L1 PCE:
  • You can equip three items instead of just one
  • The class upgrade paths are much meatier and have more choices
  • L1 was vague about how your character gets stronger leveling up, but this time you get actual stat increases.

Stage 1



The main development I immediately noticed is the amount of story. There is far more dialogue than Langrisser 1, and possibly more dialogue than any other game I've played so far.

This stage is somewhat like L1's first stage in that you're not meant to kill all the enemies; your main goal is just to stop Baldo from escaping the map. I took out the units near the starting point and then used Elwin plus Hein's magic missile to take down Baldo before he retreated. I actually died once, but you can save any time you want so you don't have to go back very far if you lose.

Stage 2



Scott joins the team. Here, too, you're not expected to kill everything. There are strategies on how to do so but I just followed the story and escorted Riana out of the back entrance. The only wrinkle is that there is a hidden item (speed boots) so first I had to take Elwin down towards the tough enemies to find it. The annoying part was that Rolan's soldiers kept standing on the spot where the item was. I had to reload once because I was running out of time, but eventually I snatched it up and then headed north to complete the scenario.

Stage 3 



We're still escorting Riana. The enemies on this stage are pretty easy so it's good for levelling -- I got Hein up to his second class (I went with Warlock) and Elwin to level 9. Sherry comes in to help with the boss.

Stage 4 



In this stage we have to protect the head priest of the temple. This might seem imposing but for me the enemies never even reached him. Partway through the map Morgan charms Riana and she starts attacking, but she mostly went after Hein's troops which weren't doing much anyway. Sherry comes in after a while which clears out most of the top enemies. Elwin lost all his soldiers and I took him by himself up to recover the hidden Angel Wing -- fortunately Morgan chased him and wasted his turns. I was not able to beat the horse knights with my forces so I just took out Morgan. Sherry classed up to Shaman and Elwin to Knight. I plan to make most units get their secret classes, but I think I'm going to make Sherry a Dragon Lord.

Stage 5


In this stage several squads run away to the north; I wasn't able to chase them down. The main enemies here are werewolves but they aren't too bad. The horsemen I now have with Elwin help against the soldiers and such.

Stage 6

I split my guys into two on this stage. I had Hein with his bowmen go after the fliers, and later the Assassin reinforcement with help from Keith (who shows up as an NPC). The rest of my force went after the others. Once I had the battle under control I sent up Ledin by himself to get the Runestone hidden at the top left. All this does is let you reclass by sending you back to your default class; given how long it takes to level this seems counterproductive but I guess if you keep your spells and stats it might work?  

The bowmen in general are quite useful -- I don't remember them being able to attack from a distance in L1 but I may just have forgotten in the year or so since I played the game.



Stage 7



Finally the guardsmen are useful! This stage has a bunch of slimes and zombies. I took the chance to level Riana as much as I could, and she was able to change to a Healer. Now she has monks but there aren't any undead in the next stage so I don't know how effective they're going to be. There's another hidden item here but it's actually in the immediate area. I once again split my team, taking Hein and Scott over to the right to deal with those enemies.

The game has 27 stages so this is about 1/4 of the way through. It's fun so far and not too difficult although I imagine the difficulty will increase later.