Sunday, October 18, 2020

Game 46 - Heian Fuunden

 

Heian Fuunden (平安風雲伝)
Released 9/29/1995, developed by KSS

 



  1. Turn type: Speed based turns, although I believe everyone gets one turn before another person gets two.
  2. Maps: Medium
  3. Character Customization: None
  4. Character Development: Standard XP/level system.
  5. Party Size: 8, although you have multiple groups each with 8 people.
  6. Equipment: One weapon, one armor.
  7. Game Flow: See below
  8. Saving: Before each battle
  9. Death: Permanent

The Heian period is not a common setting for manga or video games -- in general things were much more focused on the genteel life of the court rather than adventures or battles. But there are stories and legends that can be drawn on. This game is set in 1000, around the time of the Tale of Genji and other courtly romance fiction, and while the story uses some of the court figures, it's more about what was going on outside of the capital (you can't enter the palace at any point).


The back story is that Emperor Kazan in 984 had twins with Fujiwara no Shishi, who died in childbirth. One of the twins died, and the other was banished to Kumano to become our main character (in actual history, Shishi died in her 8th month of pregnancy). 16 years later, the Yamawaro rebel against the Heian goverment -- this game depicts the Yamawaro as an ethnic minority (later portrayed as demons in legends). Fujiwara no Michinaga, who was the real power in the capital at this time, calls on the Onmyoji Abe no Seimei to help protect the capital, and his disciple Douma attempts to revive the soul of Taira no Masakado, who rebelled against the capital 60 years ago.


 

All of these people are historical figures (except the main character, Kagura). There are other historical figures in the game -- the warrior Minamoto no Raiko and the poet Semimaru, for instance. Although most of the enemies and people you get on your team are fictional. It is impressive how many historical figures they were able to include, though.

The development of the story itself is not that surprising; Kagura ends up having to fight both the Yamawaro and Douma and his followers trying to revive Masakado. There are a few twists here and there but overall the story is not exceptionally detailed.



 

The game basically divides into two parts. The first half you're dealing with the lands to the west of Kyoto, the second half they're on the right. The game has a map system where you see all the enemies on the map -- the fixed encounters are squares, and from some of those locations, additional enemies will come out (as circles) and start marching towards the capital. If any enemy reaches the capital, you lose. I was initially worried about this mechanic because it seems like you could save yourself into a position where you would have to start over, but it's not a big deal. The game does give you multiple teams, but even this was hardly necessary. The enemies move so slowly that except for one battle I never used anyone but my main team. It may also be the case that if you defeat the square enemy than the circles were coming from, the circles that are already out freeze in place (I'm not sure of this).

 

So basically the game involves visiting all the square enemies and defeating them; eventually new square enemies will pop up, until you finish the game. There are two parts (near the end of the game) where you have to go to certain places to fight battles that don't have a square; they're indicated by the dialogue so it's not very hard to figure out. There are also random encounters with bandits if you're not on a road.

Once you get into a battle, it's typically your party vs 8 enemies (there may have been some early battles that didn't have the full 8); your party can go up to 8 people. The turn order is determined by speed, and you can see the order by exiting from the current unit's turn. The battle system is fairly standard, with units able to move, attack, use items, or special abilities. There are a few additions that I didn't make much use of -- you can summon a shikigami which I consistently forgot about, and some things having to do with units next to each other supporting or doing stat increases (I didn't know about this until I beat the game). 

Your units have a number of different classes. Some of them are restricted to a small number of units -- the Shikigami User is only your main character, and the Ise Priestess is only Uzuki.Other classes like Warrior and Omyoji have more. Within the classes different people will have different arrangements of abilities. One disappointment is that nobody ever learns new skills, other than the main character being able to summon more types of shikigami. It may seem odd that I never used this ability but Kagura is so powerful that even though I completely forgot about this she was very useful. Levelling up raises their stats, and gives them more uses of each technique.


My main party was as follows:

  • Kagura, main character. She has an attack all spell that's very powerful, as well as line attack and single attack spells, and her regular attack is good too.
  • Semimaru, Biwa player. She has an attack all spell that also makes the enemies unable to use spells, which is useful for dealing with the many healers.
  • Touta, a "spirit user". He has early spells that can attack in all directions, and a line attack.
  • Raiko and two other warriors I forget the names of -- front line attackers.
  • Jinku the monk, another front line fighter.
  • Suzume the shrine maiden, a starting character who has an infinity range heal and a "heal all" spell, plus attack spells
  • Uzuki the Ise Shrine maiden, who replaced one fighter once I got her. She has a heal + buff all spell, plus attack spells.

The balance on the whole seems off. Some characters have incredibly powerful attacks and others can't do much. There are a large number of characters though, including many optional ones. I also found the balance of the individual battles was off as well. The enemies often have heal-all and attack-all spells, plus they summon these shikigami that are ridiculously powerful in the early game. So I often found myself having to do rushes with Kagura and Semimaru's attack all spells just to get the healers and leader down before they would overwhelm me -- the permanent death system makes this even more necessary. All battles end when the leader is destroyed. The game is not especially difficult as a whole, but I did often feel very constrained in my strategy choices by this lack of balance.




When you hit someone, it moves them a square, usually back but sometimes in one direction or the other. There's also some kind of zone of control system where you can't pass by enemies. So there is more to the fighting than just moving forward and attacking; you often have to take advantage of pushing enemies aside to reach the boss.

Between battles HP fully recovers, and you can rest in houses to recover technique and spell uses. This doesn't take any time (as far as the enemies moving on the map) so you can do it pretty freely, with the exception of the final three battle sequence which have to be done in one go. 

There is no money in the game. Instead you get items and equipment from fights -- the equipment is not a major part of the game. You can trade it with merchants for healing items, but I hardly used these either. 




Overall this is a decent game. The battles are quick and even if you lose you can just try again immediately since you save before each battle. The story involves a lot of historical stuff and mythology, although it could have been a little deeper. One tip -- to get the "true ending" you have to have Semimaru and Uzuki (the Ise Priestess) in the final battle and they both have to survive. I believe that you automatically get Semimaru. Uzuki is optional but not very difficult to find.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Game 45 - Bounty Sword (end)

I finally finished the game; this took a long time. I found a similar pattern to other games I've played -- things that were initially minor irritations became major problems with the game. While overall I think this is a decent game for the time, there are three big issues with it.

The first is the pathfinding. I felt like I was constantly fighting with the AI to get the units to move to sensible places. Especially any map with a river bridge or narrow steps was a nightmare because the characters would often have a tough time finding it. Even if they did, if there's anyone on the bridge blocking their way, they immediately turn around and try to find a different way across. 


 

The second is the AI options available. They really need a "stay away from the enemies" option. Way too often the healers and magicians move right next to the enemies for no good reason. A "stay together" option would have been nice too.

The third problem is one that I also encountered in Hiouden, the only other RTS game I've played so far. Some of the later enemies can only be beaten by spamming moves, and it's hard to open the menu when you have spells and moves going off all over the board, each of which pauses the game and takes you to that unit. A lot of the later battles involve using moves and then hammering A to get the status screen up again so you can use the move again before the enemy heals itself or uses some nasty move.


 

Coming into the third section of the game I was stopped for a while against one of the Machine Gods (one of 12). I did barely any damage to it and it healed itself. Eventually I watched a youtube video and follow their strategy -- I leveled up Mika the Ninja until she became a Ninja Master and could use Bunshin-giri, which is a powerful technique that I used on many bosses after this.


 

The story basically disappeared in the third section. Kurisu becomes the leader of the resistance group against the Empire for no clear reason, and every map is just clearing out more Empire forces. Eventually there's a bit more but it doesn't rise above RPG cliches, which was unfortunate given the promising beginning.

I wrote some about the "12 rings" you could find in the game -- I was under the impression these were optional items, but they are required to finish the game. Most of them are not hard to find; you just revisit areas after you finish them and they'll be there.


 

My final team was Faust the magician (pretty overpowered), Mika the Ninja Master, Kurisu, Roger the Dragon Knight, and Milandra the Bishop. Usually the battles involve keeping the team together, although trying to get the mage and priest away from the enemies. Kurisu, Roger, and Faust have good crowd control moves while Mika is useful for taking out bosses.

There was one stage I could not beat -- it had a wizard who cannot be hurt, but uses these incredibly powerful spells. I guess you have to beat everyone else to win the stage, but it's not a required stage so I just skipped it.

I think this game could have been a lot better. Unfortunately Double Edge is not well regarded, so it may not be much better than this.

I think this means 3 hours and 25 minutes total for the battles, although that doesn't count the pausing.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Game 45 - Bounty Sword (Parts 1 and 2)

Bounty Sword (バウンティソード), Super Famicom
Released 9/8/1995, Developed by Head Quarters, released by Pioneer LDC




This was Pioneer LDC's first game release, a real-time strategy RPG. After the initial release there was a remake for Playstation called Bounty Sword First in 1997. A number of changes were made and some fans did not like them, although generally the game was well received. The "First" title showed their intention to have a trilogy. But the second game, Bounty Sword Double Edge, was a critical and sales failure, and the third game never game out.

I vacillated for a while over whether I should play the PSX remake or not. In the end, the addition of permanent death to the PSX version tipped the scales for me to play the original game. In the SFC version if a character dies in a battle you pay a healing cost and they have to sit out the next battle.

The main character, who you name (Kurisu), is a former knight. He is famed as the Master of Sword, although he's also has the reputation of having killed his own companions. He is now a burnt-out bounty hunter, doing jobs that pay money. He has this fairy with him who isn't explained at all in the game; from a game system standpoint she explains how you can see what's happening all over the battle map, but at least as of map 22 there's no explanation of who she is except that she chose to stick around Kurisu for some reason.

As of this post I've finished through map 26, which is about half the game. Since there is no English walkthrough I'll try to give some notes (there's a very good Japanese site).

 
At the start of each map, you see your party (max 5). You can move their starting positions around, set initial orders, and look around the map.

Once the map starts, everyone moves according to their AI. Above you can see the three settings. First, you can set the general AI -- "Move Freely", "Move to selected point", "Stay there". These three choices are adequate for many cases, but I wish they had two more. "Follow X" would have been nice to make sure the party stays together, or create groups if necessary. "Stay away from enemies" would be nice for the magic users; they generally do an OK job of this but too often they end up right next to a monster and won't move away.
 
The next setting is whether you want them to use spells, items, or neither for healing. Each character has 4 items, including healing and attack items. The last one is what percentage of health you want to allow them to get down to before they will use their healing. If they run out of healing and get below that value, the game will ask you if you want to have them keep attacking, or defend. If you defend, and the healer heals them, they'll start attacking again.

Each character has an AS (attack speed) stat that controls how quickly they can attack. This depends on the class, but the base always seems to be 4 or 5 (I think some classes may go lower or higher). This value can never be raised by levelling, and I haven't seen any equipment that can raise it, but it can be lowered by wearing heavy armor. The time at the bottom right is just for bonus money at the end. If you run out of time it starts counting up and the box turns red; I've never gone above 30 seconds in the red and I don't know if there's a point where you get a game over.

You can use magic spells or special moves by pausing the game and selecting the character. Healing spells are automatically used, but attack spells are not. You can retreat from a battle at any time and you'll retain the XP you got.

After the first battle, Kurisu heads to the town to take jobs, and also gets two companions. During the game, you can get companions at the bar, many of whom are generic units, but you also get story characters as well. The story characters may leave after a while but I haven't seen the generics leave yet. I don't think the generics are any worse than the story characters, though. 

Each character has a class, and at certain levels they can promote in camp. Some classes, if you use certain items, can upgrade to different classes. These promotions increase stats, and may open up new spells and abilities.




Here are some notes on selected battles from the first 26 stages. There is some choice so the numbers might not match up completely.

  • 3 - This is the first undead stage. The healers have an instant kill Turn Undead spell which makes it rather easy.
  • 4 - More Undead. This is also the first "free map" where you can revisit it to fight more. Although it's only three enemies so that doesn't help much.
  • 5 - The enemy commander gives you the option to 1-on-1 fight him. I tried this and he killed me so I never did any one on one challenges after that.
  • 6 - Second part of the stage, all you have to do is run Kurisu to the right side of the map.
  • 7 - I had a really hard time with this stage. One big problem is that after stage 6, you can't buy anything until you clear stage 7. So you need to make sure you have extra healing items available if you're going to retreat from 7. One problem was that it was hard to keep the party together because they would keep wandering away, but when I tried the map again after a little while it went much better. Kurisu's Sonic Blade technique is useful.
  • 14 (ripaios mountains) - Starting in this stage, you can collect 12 rings, which unlock things later. Usually you have to go back to the map again after you clear it. The Venus Ring is here.
  • 18 (crimson lake) - The Selene Ring is here, but you first have to go to Erinudas River and talk to a guy.
  • 19 (Iberia Cape) - Hermes Ring
  • 20 (West Plains) - Ares Ring
  • 21 (Spania Plain) - You can't recruit Faust until you get an item in the next part; just don't answer "no" to his question about whether you want him to join or you can never do it.
  • 23 (Sword Cape) - Apollo Ring. To make the boatman ferry you over to the island, you need a letter from a person in the Padova Area.
  • 26 - The Dark Lord has to be damaged a bit before he will leave the battle and send in the last reinforcements. I couldn't do this without losing anyone; it took Kurisu's sonic blade and then a spell to make him run. Most of the enemies in this stage are quite vulnerable to magic.

Overall this is not a bad game. It can be really intense. There's maybe a bit too much of fighting with the AI to get the units to do what you want them to do. At first I was having a really hard time getting into the game and I even started playing something else for a while, but I think I've come to grips with it now. I probably will not be able to beat the game by next weekend but I should get close.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Game 44 - Galaxy Robo

Galaxy Robo (ギャラクシーロボ)
Released 3/11/1994, developed by Imagineer

 

  1.  Turn type: Player/enemy turn
  2. Maps: Large
  3. Character Customization: None
  4. Character Development: Standard XP/level system.
  5. Party Size: A lot, I'm not sure of the exact number.
  6. Equipment: None
  7. Game Flow: 19 stages in order, no repeats or alternate routes
  8. Saving: Any time
  9. Death: Defeated characters are removed from the battle but return afterwards.

This is a rewind in time; I missed this game on my first pass through 1994 but Manny Rhyde on the SRPG Discord pointed it out to me. It has a fan translation. It's been described as "Fire Emblem in space" but it's not as close to Fire Emblem as you might think. 



The defining feature of the game is the size of the battles; after the first couple, you're typically about 30 vs. 40-50. The stages will have some named characters that can level up, and then a bunch of other grunt units that are weaker and cannot level.

The story begins with Fatis, whose childhood friend is captured by an attacking empire. He goes out with an old mech, one of the three ancient mechs that's more powerful than the other ones they make now. The story as a whole is a pretty typical "defeat the evil Empire" story -- it's nothing special, but it's fine for 1994.



 

The characters are fixed to a certain mech, and when they level up they gain stats. They don't learn any new powers or get any new mechs. There are about 5-6 different types you can have, and each one has one or two attacks. Some can repair, and there are several battleship type units as well.

This seems to be a rather obscure game even in Japan -- the shutdown of Geocities wiped out a lot of old sites, but at least in what survives I was not able to find anything about the game except for a few short reviews. No full playthroughs on Youtube or Nicovideo. I'll just make a few notes about the stages; I didn't take careful notes at first but the first few stages are not that bad. I was always unsure about how much to use the grunts, but the enemies are evenly matched enough with your guys that I think it would be quite difficult (and unnecessary) to try to use only your named characters. Could be an interesting challenge.



 

Stage 7 (or maybe 6) is a defense mission -- you have to last for quite a few turns with an army that is much stronger than yours. I lost the first time because there are a few people that can't die or you get a game over. You never get any units that can just sit and tank; I found that at any point in the game, 1 vs 4 or 5 meant a decent chance of the 1 dying even if it was my strongest guy vs. 5 grunts.

Stage 8 has a rather annoying issue that's in a few stage. There's an enemy, Kyarana, where the final blow can only be done by the main character. Other units can get her down to 1 HP but then further attacks will have no effect. I had sent the main character all the way opposite on the map, and so I had to waste many turns fixing that. There are other stages where named enemy units cannot be defeated during the stage; they can be taken down to 1 HP but you just have to beat all the other units and then they'll escape. But of course they can stay on the map wailing on your guys.

On Stage 9 I got a freeze that seemed to be inescapable; no matter how I tried to move people differently, it would always freeze when I attacked a particular enemy. Fortunately restarting the stage (and maybe moving to the BSNES MT emulator) helped and I didn't have any freezes after that.

In Stage 10 we go up into space. The space levels are basically the same as the ground levels, with space debris serving as the defense spaces. You also get your team splitting up and not reforming completely until the end of the game.

"That's no moon!"

 In Stage 14 you have to defend a base; this mostly just involves going out and attack the enemies, but missiles appear from the left and right. The grunts I left behind were able to beat them although they missed a lot.

Stage 15 involves you choosing who comes along with one of the characters to go on a secret mission; the way they set it up is confusing; what's actually happening is that you are choosing who will stay behind to fight on stages 16-17. This wasn't very clear, though, and I took everyone possible on stage 15. This left 16 and 17 more difficult. I actually lost 16 the first time but you can draw some units into the gas cloud and blow it up, which helps. On 17 you just have to survive for a while and then the rest of the units will reappear.


 

Stage 18 is very slow because the ground costs a lot of movement points and there are lasers that automatically shoot you on the enemy phase if you stop in their line of fire. But it's not all that hard.

Stage 19, the last one, is hard. It's 4 of your guys vs. 4-5 boss-class enemies, and if any of your guys dies it's game over. I had to do a lot of saving and resetting here just to wait for the enemies to miss. Maybe I was underlevelled but since you can't repeat stages it's not hard for that to happen.



 

Overall this is a decent game. It's a bit simplistic and I definitely would not play this without an emulator speedup key since the enemy turns take a long time (I used it for all the unskippable battle sequences).

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Game 43 - Battle Robot Retsuden

Battle Robot Retsuden (バトルロボット烈伝)
Released 9/1/1995,  developed by Winkysoft, published by Banpresto

 



  1.  Turn type: Player/enemy turn
  2. Maps: Small
  3. Character Customization: None
  4. Character Development: Raise levels with items, also upgrade mech stats with items
  5. Party Size: 4 max
  6. Equipment: Some mechs have item slots.
  7. Game Flow: 11 stages (see post for details)
  8. Saving: Outside of battle
  9. Death: Defeated characters are removed from the battle but return afterwards.

I'm a big fan of the Super Robot Wars series, and I had always heard about Battle Robot Retsuden. It was made by Winkysoft, who was responsible for all the early SRW games, and so I had the feeling that this was a SRW-like game with only real robots. Unfortunately this is not the case.

It does share with SRW the mixing of various series, so that you have characters from Gundam, Dunbine, Xabungle, and L-Gaim. Xabungle would not appear in a SRW game until 2001's Alpha Gaiden, so this is quite an early entry for the series. All the other series had appeared before. The basic story is that there's a world (I think a parallel universe or something like that) where two empires are at war, but the mechs they produce suck. So they use a technology called Duplication to copy mechs and pilots from other worlds. These are called Branch Warriors. The Gelster Empire has used this forbidden technology to invade other lands, and the Nord Empire calls their own Branch Warriors to defend themselves. The Nord Empire just happens to have all the hero mechs, and the Gelster has all the villain mechs. There are a bunch of original characters as well, but they seem to only be in the story sequences and never actually fight.

The game begins with the Amuro copy in the Nu Gundam. The Nord people use these crystals which they call "apples" to awaken Amuro. You get additional apples from defeating enemies that you can use to raise the characters' levels, but there's a limit to how high they can be raised in each chapter.

You can also get things from the enemies to upgrade the mechs, although the quantity is quite limited in the game. Finally, there are items you can equip to certain mechs (like the L Gaim and Walker Machine) that increase their defense, give them beam barriers, and such.


Each chapter has a map like the one above (usually there are more places than this). Enemies will appear in the various spots. They will either stay there until you reach them, or move towards you. You can make teams of mechs to send out, although you have to leave at least one back with the ship. The ship can't be controlled. Once an enemy encounters an away party or the ship, a combat begins.


The battle areas are based on hex maps. Each unit has a certain number of move actions and a certain number of attack actions per round. The attack actions have very specific ranges so it can sometimes be hard to position your guy in the right place. Some actions cannot be done twice in the round, and you can also spend one point on a shield for that round (for mechs that have it). The battle sequences use large, detailed figures that were certainly a selling point of the game.

Unfortunately, all of this is ruined by one horrible decision made by the designers: you can only control one person in battle (the squad leader). Everyone else moves off horribly stupid AI. This means that in battles, the majority of your time is spent watching the computer units fight each other. Sometimes you can barely reach the battle before it ends. 

In a RPG or SRPG, it's not necessarily a fatal flaw to have some AI-controlled party members. But to be good, the AI control has to be designed into the gameplay. For instance, Ogre Battle does it well enough that I still think it's a good system. For this game, it feels like a game where you should have control over everyone but they just don't let you do it.

In addition, the maps often require you to just sit there and wait for the enemies to come to you, because if you try to go out on your own some units will reach the ship and you'll get a game over. 

I made it to chapter 4 (out of 11) but I just couldn't take it anymore. The story seems interesting, but it's just not worth struggling through this poorly designed system that you barely have any control over. I'll close this post with a bunch of random screenshots from the game.







Thursday, September 3, 2020

Game 42 - Riglord Saga

Riglord Saga (リグロードサーガ)
Released 7/21/1995,  developed by Micro Cabin, published by Sega


  1.  Turn type: Player/enemy turn
  2. Maps: Medium, height affects movement, and maybe combat effectiveness?
  3. Character Customization: Only by what skills you focus on (see next)
  4. Character Development: Standard XP/level system, plus a skill leveling system.Using a type of skill gives you XP in that skill area, and when you level it up you can learn new skills of that type.
  5. Party Size: Max 6 on the map, 13 in party
  6. Equipment: Weapon and 4 armor slots.
  7. Game Flow: After an opening section, you are free to roam the map and do the required combats in any order for a while. There is an optional challenge dungeon.
  8. Saving: Outside of battle, sometimes between battles in a series.
  9. Death: Defeated characters are removed from the battle but return afterwards.
This game is also called "Blazing Heroes" or "Mystaria: Realms of Lore." I guess they didn't like the original Japanese name.
This is the first Saturn SRPG (I played the Feda remake earlier, but that came out in 96). It looks very different from the games I've been playing up to now because they use the power of the new system to do 3D style graphics. Unfortunately I don't think they look very good. I've always had a problem with early Playstation and Saturn attempts at this kind of graphics -- even in 1997 I thought FF7's characters looked stupid.



For me there was never a time when I looked at graphics like these and said "Yeah, that looks cool."


This also appears to be one of those games where they ran into severe limitations in text space for the translation, or were just too lazy to expand it. For the technique names in particular, it seems like they were limited to six letters in two groups of three. So "Shuriken" had to become THR STR, "Repeating Kick" became KIK, Sleep is SLP, and Lightning Arrow is LTG SHT. I remember this kind of thing from Paladin's Quest and Breath of Fire but this is perhaps the worst I've seen.

The game starts out with Prince Kurisu fighting against Gen'yusai, who is taking over his castle. He quickly gets overpowered, and then slaughtered by a story loss fight. Then you get to the first real battle of the game, with one of the bad guys joining us. The only required units for all the battles are Kurisu and Musashi.



One really nice feature of this game is that at the end of each battle, all characters get an equal amount of XP based on the enemies killed during the battle, with non-participating characters and characters who died during the battle getting half. I greatly prefer this to the common system where XP awards go to individual characters; it gets tiresome to attack your own guys or leave people at 1 HP so that you can level weaker characters.

The battle system is fast-moving and I never felt the need to use a speedup key, even on the enemy turns.


After this initial fight we get locked in a cell but can escape with some additional friends joining. There are locked doors with chests behind them in this battle but they can't be retrieved until later in the game.

After escaping the castle, we had to go to a mountain with a sage on it who would tell us how to defeat Gen'yusai. I had to do this battle three times; the enemies are difficult and have nasty counterattacks. Fortunately this game lets you retreat from a battle at any point and earn all the XP you got up to then (and the chests). I always appreciate systems like this because it means that you never have to do any true grinding, you can always attempt the next battle and then retreat when you've gotten as far as you can.



The sage tells us that we need 13 warriors to go against Gen'yusai. The next part of the game is nonlinear; there are 5 or 6 places you need to go but they can basically be done in any order. You can travel freely around the map and visit the various towns to buy things. When crossing a border into one of the other provinces you may fight a random encounter, which will be with several randomly chosen members of the party. This can be a bit hairy if they choose a bunch of weak characters. I generally tried to level up everyone until the late stages of the game.

The next part I did was going after a pirate and then getting shipwrecked on an island. For me this part was the most difficult in the game, and the last hard fight until the final boss. There is some method that the levels of the enemies scale to match yours, but it's not absolute. I was having so much trouble with a battle in this section that I was afraid I might have to go back to a previous save, but I noticed that as I retried the battle over and over again, the enemy levels were not going up at all. Also I was learning new skills, which is probably more important than the levels. So eventually I won.

After this I found that the game got significantly easier. I think this is because once you get better techniques and moves, the fact that the enemies match your levels is no longer that important. There was a tower where enemies could only get hurt by magic or certain moves, and I had to skip it for a while, but when I came back it was easy.


Honestly the next stage that provided any challenge was the final stage, and that's only because almost every unit on the map can confuse your characters. I thought I was going to have to try from the beginning but I managed to beat it with only the main character left alive.


Overall this is a decent game. It's a bit short, and the difficulty is very uneven, but it's a fun play and the very clean and easy interface makes it much less of a chore than some games. I'm looking forward to trying the sequel in a while.