Saturday, November 27, 2021

Goodbye Blogger

I've mentioned repeatedly that I've become more and more frustrated with Blogger -- when I started my blogs in 2017 it had a clean, usable interface; you could easily edit the HTML to fix small issues; and everything worked fine.

But ever since the "new blogger" interface, it seems like things get more and more broken and difficult to use. Even simple things like inserting images doesn't always work correctly.

So I've created a new site to host not only this blog but my other one as well.

https://www.rpgblog.net

 I've imported all the posts and comments from both my blogs, but I will have to rebuild the game list pages manually, as well as categorize all the posts so that you can easily see just the SRPG posts if that's what you want to do.

The design is also sub-minimal at this point.

I will continue to post links here to the posts for at least the next few months.

Thanks for reading for the past few years, and I hope you will continue to read and comment on the new site! I'm playing Arc the Lad II now and the first post for that game should be up next Saturday.

Friday, November 19, 2021

Game 62 - Vandal Hearts (chs 4-6)

Chapter 4

We're fighting the Empire now! The first battle here has a ton of strong enemies, but the goal is just to escape the town. Apparently you can kill all the enemies, but I just grabbed some treasure with a few guys who then died, and everyone else escaped.

 The second battle seems easy at first, but there are so many long-range archer units that they can easily gang up on someone, and it's difficult to judge where they can move and who they can hit. Once you've cleared out some of the archers it gets much easier (and the mages can be killed by your own archers).


 

Third battle is tricky because you start surrounded, but when I moved everyone towards one side I was able to escape with only one loss.

Fourth battle you just need to move forward while the train cars crumble behind you, but it's not bad.

The last battle you have to destroy all the death devices in 8 turns. I managed to do it on the last turn, but I was not able to get all the hidden treasures. 

There's also a trial map to be done in this stage; these are getting longer and more annoying. Here you have to do a lot of crate pushing to be able to reach the chest with the prism, and make sure you don't block yourself off by moving them wrong.

Chapter 5

This chapter on the whole seemed a lot easier than the previous ones; maybe my characters were just a lot better.


The trial map, though, is a nightmare. It took me over 90 minutes to do; you just have to walk up this long spiral mountain and avoid archers by hugging the wall. It's not challenging, it just takes a really long time. Thank god for emulator speedup.


The fifth battle has some reinforcements. At this point my mage had Salamander which hits a huge range and makes things generally easier.


Finally you have to protect Leena (who has a strange time travel backstory); once again not too difficult.


Chapter 6 

First task in chapter 6 is to do the last trial, which I thought was pretty easy.


Upon completing the last trial, you can change Ash into the Vandalier class; he gets super powerful equipment and can cast all the spells in the game, including Plasma Wave which hits every enemy on the board. This basically breaks the rest of the game but I'm not sure the final stages would have been that challenging even without plasma wave.

The chapter only has 4 stages. The first one is probably the hardest one, since Kain gains the ability to use Plasma Wave himself. If you let him stay near the cure circle he'll keep regaining MP, but as long as you move towards him he'll move away from that and then quickly run out of MP -- with one or two Soul Water (heal all HP of all allies) it's not tough to deal with.

I tore through the next two stages with no problem, leaving the final fight.

The final boss is not very hard (he's easier than Kain), even though he has two forms. For some reason the second form only has 165 HP -- was this a programming mistake?



I made sure to beat him with my Sky God -- everyone always bashes that class but I really didn't think they were that bad.

Afterwards the ending scene shows what happens to all the characters, and if you got Vandalier you get a special ending screen.

--

Overall this was a pretty good game. The story was above average - some cliches and I wish they had developed the villains a bit more. The ending was also a bit of a cheat (how did Ash get back?); I don't know if VH2 or the third game are plot related at all.

I had some interface problems with the game -- for instance, you can't see a list of all your units and their HP, which is a pretty basic thing that is often useful and every SRPG should have. 

The map design is good, with different goals, gimmicks on the maps, some maps that aren't just "defeat all enemies", and other variety.

Vandal Hearts 2 came out in 1999 so it will be a while until I get there. Next up it's back to Arc the Lad II, and I was able to dig out my save files from the first game so hopefully the carryover will work.


Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Game 62 - Vandal Hearts (chs 1-3)

Vandal Hearts (ヴァンダルハーツ〜失われた古代文明〜)
Released 10/25/1996, by Konami
 

 

This seems to be Konami's first SRPG. It makes use of the Playstation hardware capabilities to have a rotating 3D isometric map. This is not the first 3D game I've played, but it's much more competent and worthwhile than Sengoku Cyber. Vandal Hearts allows for full rotation of the camera and angle change. Other than that, everything in this game we've seen before. 

There are narrated sequences between chapters, otherwise there is no voicing. This is something that always interests me about the Playstation, although there are fully (or mostly) voiced acted games as well (we'll be seeing one example very soon).

I seem to have abandoned my data matrix because I stopped doing wrap-up posts. But I think it's a good way to overview the system so I will resurrect it.

  1. Turn type: Player/enemy phase
  2. Maps: The maps have terrain bonuses, as well as height. There are chests, hidden items, and switches as well as poison bogs and occasional other things.
  3. Character Customization: Characters can promote at level 10 and 20. Some classes have the option to take one of two paths at level 10.
  4. Character Development: Standard XP/level system.
  5. Party Size: I don't know what the max size is, but you always use all your guys.
  6. Equipment: One weapon, one armor, one shield, and then 2 carry items.
  7. Game Flow: 6 chapters with 5-7 battles each, all done in order. No random encounters. There are also some optional "trial" maps you can unlock throughout the game.
  8. Saving: On the world map, and one in-battle save.
  9. Death: Main character = game over, other characters will come back after the battle (you have a small money penalty)

Here's the backstory for the game from Wikipedia:

Thousands of years ago, the holy man known to history as Toroah the Messiah traveled far and wide across the continent of Sostegaria, spreading his teachings throughout the land. After his death, his descendants and heirs assumed absolute political power over the region, forming the basis of the Holy Ashah Dynasty and ruling through a combination of religious doctrine and military power for millennia. The kings and queens of the Holy Ashah Dynasty, however, did not always rule wisely or justly, and, as time passed, the citizenry began to resent the power of their leaders.

Fifteen years ago, this growing discontent found its ultimate expression in the person of Arris the Sage, who united the desperate and resentful anti-royal factions throughout Sostegaria and shaped them into a powerful guerrilla army. Under the cunning leadership of Arris, this Liberation Army managed to outwit and outmaneuver the Royal Army, and finally smashed through to the palace of the Ashah Dynasty itself, and burnt it to the ground.

With the monarchy dissolved, the rebels establish a ruling council founded on the principles of democracy and popular sovereignty. From the ashes of the Holy Ashah Empire emerges the Republic of Ishtaria. The leaders of the revolution naturally assumed leadership positions within the new republic: all, that is, except for Arris himself, who suddenly disappeared and has not been seen of, nor heard of, ever since.

Today, the fledgling republic is in increasingly dire straits: the autocratic Minister of Defense, Hel Spites, and his elite anti-terrorism squad, the Crimson Guard, are using ever-increasing force to stamp out the last vestiges of resistance to Ishtarian rule, while they allow outlaws to roam the countryside and pirates to sail the seas.

The characters are generally much older than usual (Ash is 25 and I think the youngest party member is 17). Overall the story is decent so far.

(Sorry the screenshots suck for this post except the title one; I changed the duckstation settings after this to take better ones.)

 Chapter 1

The story for this chapter basically shows Hel Spites beginning to take control over the republic while Ash and his friends serve it through a guards regiment (while opposing the Crimson Guard, though not to the point of attacking them).

The first battles are pretty easy although I had to restart the first one until I learned the system basics. You can only counterattack, and units get support bonuses if their allies are surrounding the character. This means that if enemies gang up on one unit, that unit will tend to get severely hurt or die. This game has the "main character dies = game over" system; I really don't like this in any games. It's not as bad here as I've seen it, but it still tends to create this fear of actually using the main character.

But basically, the general tactic is to keep back and stay together unless you have to go forward. The system has unit compatibility; there's a triangle between the fighters but then the Armors are good against all of them, and magic is good against armor.

 

There are hidden treasures on many of the maps. They are marked by things like craters, cracks, or strange patterns in the ground.

The second battle introduces the first switch, which you "search" to activate.

Battle 4 has a burning bridge so you do have to move forward.

Battle 5 is just one enemy plus a bunch of arms; the arms paralyze but if you just move towards the main enemy it's not too bad.

Finally Battle 6 is a ship battle. The enemies cluster on the gangplanks and can be finished off with bows and spells.


 

At this point I had some people hitting level 10. These are the paths I took everyone on:

  • Ash - Hero (he has no choice)
  • Jose - Hawk Knight/Sky Lord
  • Reen, Amon, Genius - Sniper/Ace Gunner
  • Keith, Rado - Armor/Heavy Armor
  • Dolmen - Knight/Sword Master
  • Elena - Wizard/Spellmaster
  • Horcus - Bishop/Messiah
  • Samdera, Saria - Monk/Godhand

I did this without reading about the pluses and minuses of various classes. I probably should have made Samdera a second Wizard since their damage spells are quite good. It seems like most people recommend Genius being the Hawk Knight; you need one to get Ash's hidden class. Personally I have found the Hawk Knight pretty useful so far in contrast to what everyone says. (BTW all the names are different in the translation. It looks like Keith->Clint, Jose->Diego, Elena->Eleni, Horcus->Huxley, Dolmen->Dolan, Rado->Grog, Saria->Sara, Samdera->Zohar, Genius->Darius, Reen-Kira.)

Near the end of the chapter we begin getting the Trial Keys. Each one can be taken to the promotion area and then there's an optional trial map. In each map you have to beat all the enemies but also get a chest before you do that, which has a prism in it. If you get all the prisms, you unlock Ash's secret class.


The trial maps all have some sort of gimmicky setup; in this case you just have to climb this huge mountain. I thought I would lose but I managed to win with 2 guys left alive and no MP.

Chapter 2

Here we go to an island and find the intrigue surrounding a certain gemstone. The first battle you have to destroy statues without destroying all the enemies (who are villagers changed into monsters). This is only a challenge because you can't choose not to counterattack. This rubs me the wrong way; a battle that bases its strategy on a fundamentally flawed system element that makes no logical sense in the story. It does have strategy because you have to make sure you are placing your units in the right place. I ended up killing all the villagers but one.


The fourth battle in the chapter is annoying; you have to use these elevators that raise and lower to get everyone across a wall, and since the goal is "reach the castle door with everyone" even when you beat the enemies you still have to spend a bunch of time moving everyone.


The sixth battle is vs. a bunch of guard dogs, who have to be beaten within 7 turns and like to run away. Not very hard, but a strange battle.

There's also another Trial in this chapter which is vs. all archers. It's not especially hard but archers tend to be able to gang up on a character and it can be hard to judge placement because of the archers' movement and then attack range.

Chapter 3

The plot takes a strange turn here as most of the characters get sent to another dimension where 3 years pass in a few days -- I think this is to allow them to show the change in the world after the takeover by Hel Spites.

In the second battle you have to prevent towers from being destroyed by the enemies; I only had one left at the end but that's enough.


The next few stages aren't too bad, then there's an interesting one where the enemies will start running away when you show yourself, so you have to wait until they reach a good spot and then pick them off before they can run.


Then we switch to a different party of people who are in jail, with some interesting enemies -- they can't be hurt except from behind, and from behind they die in one hit. So it's all about maneuvering them into the right spot and then killing them. 

The trial for the chapter is easy; just one enemy and a bunch of chests, and you have to find the one with the prism.

So that's half the game down (I'm on chapter 5 so hopefully I will finish up this weekend). Not bad but it does show its age in a few interface issues.



Saturday, October 9, 2021

Game 61 - Nage Libre: Seijaku no Suishin (Super Famicom)

Nage Libre: Seijaku no Suishin (ナージュリーブル 〜静寂の水深〜)
Released 2/24/1995, developed and published by Varie
 
 
 
This is a game I missed on my first pass through 1995. It's a 美少女ゲー, a game where every character is a high school girl in various school dress. There was a 1997 sequel for Playstation as well. The game was way too expensive to buy, so I don't have in instruction manual. My discussion of the system is entirely based on playing the game plus information from one walkthrough site I found; there may be parts of the system I didn't get.

The game is 23 stages back to back, with no other content other than short story sequences. The story as a whole is fairly thin -- five high school girls get brought into the world of Nage. They spend the first half of the game trying to escape, but then find that Nage is imposing itself on the real world. They go back into Nage to defeat Misty, the person that initially summoned Nage, and then defeat Nage itself. Most of the dialogue is just banter between the girls.



The first thing you do is input birthdays for the 5 girls.


This affects the birthday stone system in the battles, but there are two special things you can do. If you put in the birthdays as 1/23, 4/5, 6/7, 8/9, and 10/11, all cards count as birthday stones, making the game much easier. If you do 10/10, 3/3, 2/14, 7/7, and 12/24 you can see profiles of the girls. If you put everyone as 11/25, when you beat the game you get this unknown bald guy singing Happy Birthday to Me (a designer?)

Everyone can move 6 spaces on the map regardless of the terrain. What the terrain does it affect the speed that your turn gauge fills, and some of the map squares are damage or healing.


 


 

The battle system is interesting. It's based on a card system, but not deck-building as such. Each encounter is 6 rounds (or until one person dies). At the beginning of each battle there is a random hand of 5 cards. When you use one of the cards, it will get replaced by another random one. Everyone shares the same hand so you do sometimes have to use less-than-optimal cards to clear them out of your hand. Each card has two numbers; a power at the top left and a speed at the bottom right. Who actually goes first is affected also by the character's speed stat in addition to the speed of the card. There is also a gemstone on each card, and if it matches the character's birthday gemstone, it automatically has max power (15).



The types of cards are:

  • Attack
  • Defense (raise defense just for that battle)
  • Heal
  • SP (a special super attack)
  • COS - This changes your costume.The Winter costume gives you more def/agl at the cost of str/mt. Gym clothes are +str/agl, -def. Swimsuit is +str/-def (more than Gym). Coat is just +10% def. The costume change just lasts until the end of the stage.
  • CHG - This allows you to pull one of your stock cards. Between battles you can buy up to 5 stock cards for each person. All of them have 9 speed and X (maximum) power. At the beginning of the game you have to be somewhat frugal, but starting around mid-game I always had one heal and four SP cards to draw from.
  • Escape (end the battle, can fail)
  • ????? - random effect, although I swear that defense is the most common outcome -- maybe this is just confirmation bias though. 
Every character also has a club, although some people are "regular students" or bosses. The main thing I am not sure about is whether the clubs affect your stats; there's no information about this in the game or on the site. There is a compatibility like in other games (for instance, the Tennis club is very strong against the Karate club but weak against Japanese Dance). This is potentially interesting but in the end not very useful. You only ever have 5 people and can only switch clubs between stages. Most stages have a large assortment of enemies and so it's difficult to pick an optimum set of clubs.
 
It's not really necessary though -- the game is quite easy for the most part. There are a few tricky stages and bosses, but if you lose a girl they just come back in the next stage.
 

 

One other thing I'm not sure about is the level advancement. There's no XP; the girls gain levels at the end of the stage, but I can't tell whether it has anything to do with what they did during the stage.

There are a lot of interface issues. It's very hard to see the stats of your girls during the stage, and there's too much opacity in the system (although some of that might be cleared up by the instruction manual). 

In the end this is not a bad game, but it's not particularly good either. I'll be interested to see what the PSX game changes in the system. I read one complaint that there aren't as many clubs, but that doesn't seem like a bad thing to me. I did notice that they made some changes that reduce the randomness of the card draw a bit, which is probably good -- it can be frustrating at times when you're drawing nothing but costume change and escape cards.



After you win the game you can play an Extra Stage with all the bosses on one map.

Next up we'll be back to 1996 for Vagrant Story, a game I have heard about but never played.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Game 60 - Langrisser III Stages 13-24

Sorry for the brevity of this post. I had longer writeups, but blogger managed to delete my 13-19 sections so I'm going to recreate those in a sentence or two.

Stage 13

We're trying to find and protect the Holy Beast (who then joins the team) -- I made the mistake of not getting up to him fast enough and he died, but then I was able to get healers up there to save him.


 Stage 14

Not too bad; Dios has to be protected but he's pretty hardy.


 

Stage 15

The "find Langrisser" stage. The enemies weren't very hard and I only lost one treasure to escaping thieves.


 

Stage 16

There are a ton of enemies in the stage but I didn't have much trouble with them.


 

Stage 17

I was not able to attack all 4 city gates at once so I just did three of them, and then moved all my guys up to where Freya was.

Stage 18

This has a robot machine but it can only shoot straight down. You do have to be careful because it's hard to get the troops not to be in front of the blast range, but if you take the long way around and go after Boltz first it's not too bad.



Stage 19 

Boltz is slowly fleeing. I was able to surround him by the time he reached the first stairs and then take him out.


 

Stage 20

This was a very hard stage -- the enemies have a sudden level boost. I first tried to split my party up and go across the planks but this didn't work. Then I tried going just on the bottom two, but I was still getting torn apart by the spellcasters. What I ended up having to do was staying on my ship and letting the enemies come to me, defeating them, and then going across mostly on the bottom. I had to kill all the enemies below to allow the healers to come up as well, and then with enough healing I was able surround and take out the boss.

Stage 21

In general it's easier when everyone is in one place; it makes it chaotic and hard to see what's going on, but the heal and damage spells are much more effective (so it's maybe not so good if you're getting hit with a lot of enemy fire). There are a ton of horses in this stage so I changed everyone over to pikemen who could do it. I stayed in my starting location, moving to the center and using the horizontal and vertical formations with the pikemen to deal with all the horses. In about 10 turns everyone was dead, leaving just the two ballista and summoners. For those I just split my team into two and took them out.


 

Stage 22

The GF walkthrough says on turn 8 monsters come out, but I think they come out when you cross the bridge, not after some turns. I stayed at the starting location and waited for the initial force to come. Then I headed north. The monsters appear, and Emerlink and one horse group stay behind to cover the retreat of the other forces. I killed them with a pike group and some support, and blasted the big monster group with spells to soften them up and killed them. This leaves one annoying dragon at the top left who moves about one pixel per turn; I had to take my whole force up there just to deal with him.


 

Stage 23

This map is deceptive. If you try to save all the villagers it seems very difficult and I think you would need some superpowered Luna to do it. If you're content to let most of them die the stage isn't hard, but you do need to be prepared. Most of the monsters (including the reinforcements) will prioritize the civilians over your characters, so you need to be strategic to block them and not move too slowly. I came close to losing but I did manage to protect the villagers in the end.

Stage 24

This stage starts out with you vs. Empire but soon switches to monsters. I hate the golem enemies; I should use Attack+1 more aggressively when I fight them. It took a long time but eventually I was able to kill them.

--

Now I need to decide if I want to continue playing this or not. I feel like I'm not really enjoying it that much and I want to finish it as fast as I can, but it's so difficult that I'm struggling with every stage which means that it will take another week or two to finish. I think that if this game did not have the Langrisser name on it I would have already given up and moved on, so maybe that's a sign I should stop playing.

My biggest complaint about the game is that it's just too chaotic. There are so many enemies on the map that you can never quite tell where your armies are going to end up. Sometimes you move and you'll find that one of your guys randomly gets pushed out to the far left of the group and now you're suddenly in range of the tough enemy who can attack your entire force. 

The magic spells are also devastating; I get locked in a cycle of fast enemies casting huge area effect spells that lower the effectiveness of my guys, I can't beat anyone, then they heal, and finally my attacks come late in the phase (and the heals) so I basically make no progress in the turn.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Game 60 - Langrisser III (Saturn) - Stages 1-12

Langrisser III (ラングリッサーIII)
Released 10/19/1996, developed by Masaya

We're back to the Langrisser franchise as the series moves to the Saturn, where the last three games in the series game out. Rather than continue to refine the gameplay of L1 and 2, Masaya chose to complete reinvent the gameplay. I think the result was not well received because for L4 and 5 they returned to the gameplay of the first two.

The graphics seem to be based on Der Langrisser FX, and like DFX, there's a fair amount of voiced dialogue and some anime scenes. However, they returned to the L1 and 2 single-path storyline rather than the branching paths of Der (although there are some secret stages, and a "true ending" with 2 extra stages).

Parts of the gameplay are similar to the previous ones. You still hire troops, and the basic unit compatibilities are the same. The classes are similar, although this time you don't choose a class path, you unlock additional classes that you can switch between (and they will get better); this makes things more flexible so that you can hire more of a certain type of unit depending on the stage.

The biggest change is that the battle system is now done in a semi-realtime. You choose how you want to move your guys, and then all the commanders move at the same time. Then each unit can attack someone they're close to. The individual army members no longer act like units, instead they're just extensions of the commander -- they affect the range of the attack and also the damage (more troops is good). However, this time even if troops die, they can be brought back by heal spells or the Heal command. This is annoying when powerful enemies are just healing over and over again; you really need to gang up on the bosses with 3-4 squads.

The effect is rather chaotic; units are often packed into small spaces almost stacked on top of each other, and it's not always easy to tell who is going to be attacking who. You can switch formations (which I don't really understand the purpose of) and switch between move/defend/normal which lets you speed up (at the cost of defense) or defend (at the cost of not making an attack). You can also view attack sequences but they're so slow I can't imagine doing that for the whole game.

There are 5 equipment slots now.

Stage 1

This is similar to the previous Langrisser stages; our guys start out on the left (just me and Tiaris). Story stuff happens on the right side and basically this is just so you can fool around with the battle system a bit before the story stuff plays out. I just moved Dihalt and Tiaris around and fought the Pegasus units. Even Tiaris and her guardsmen had no real trouble with them, although I cast a Heal 1 once. 

 

Stage 2

This is another typical early Langrisser stage; all you do is escape down to the bottom of the map. Maybe you can try killing some of the top enemies (if you save all the villagers you get a bonus item) but I just escaped.


 

Stage 3

The first real stage, against undead. I almost lost. Initially I sent everyone north but I noticed some undead groups were evading me and heading down to where the villagers were, so I had to sent Dihalt and Gilbert back down to the bottom. They actually had a surprising amount of trouble dealing with the undead, maybe because I don't fully understand the battle system yet. Grop keeps summoning undead which I was fighting off, but Grop was too difficult for just Ruin and Tiaris to beat, so I had to send Gilbert up to the top. He got stuck fighting some undead and Dihalt had difficulty dealing with the bottom on his own. I just barely squeaked out the win; I think one more turn I would have lost all the villagers but Gilbert managed to make it up to the top (with a Move mode) and then I had to move Tiaris out of the way so I could get Gilbert in there with his horsemen. 


 

Stage 4

I just moved everyone west and ordered the NPCs to go right. Once the enemies caught up to the villagers I had the new NPC forces attack; the enemies are outclassed so this isn't too hard.



Stage 5

I moved everyone along the road, and then when I neared the castle, I had Gilbert in Move mode go up around the side of the castle while everyone else stayed there to fight the enemies. Once Gilbert reaches the castle the stage is over.

I'm starting to get some of the class changes; it's interesting that you change your class to have different units rather than simply hiring different guys (at least at the moment).



Stage 6

This is a really short stage -- the goal is to get two opposing forces to fight each other and then retreat. I thought you would actually have to move around so that the two sides had a battle, but all you have to do is move close to the enemies until there's dialogue, and then run away. You only need one or two units. 

Jessica shows up after this. I guess she's used the "youth" magic again.

Stage 7

This is a tough stage. I actually had to restart because I didn't have the right troops. One thing I'm discovering is that it's very difficult to do a 1 on 1 fight; because you can use the Heal to even bring back your troops, I often need 2-3 units to take down a strong enemy even if the compatibility is good.

I went with Soldiers for Dihalt and made Rifanny a hunter so I could use bowmen (this ended up not mattering so much).

The basic strategy was to proceed slowly at first, saving Tiaris' heal spells for the last part of the stage. I took down the initial pikemen with Dihalt and Ruin, and then took everyone forward into the fortress. I used my hours units and Runa to take down the soldiers, then moved Ruin up (with his pikemen) to deal with the horsemen and flying units (along with Rifanny). I used one Heal from Tiaris during this time.

Now the tough part starts. I used Attack+ on Dihalt and had him and Ruin take out the pikemen (with help from a Thunder spell). Then I healed and moved forward, doing the same thing with the next group of pikemen. Meanwhile you have to deal with attacks from bowmen above; I see no good way to take them out.

Last up is Freya. To enable the best ending you have to get Dihalt near Freya so they have a conversation, then let Freya attack Dihalt (do not attack Freya with Dihalt) then defeat Freya with someone other than Dihalt. Initially I had too few units in there and so I had to reload a save from a few turns ago and move both my horsemen and Luna in there. Rifanny stood back to draw the fire from the archers. There are mages that cast spells as well, but with a Protection from Dihalt and my last Heal from Tiaris, I was able to finish the stage -- just barely.

I hope this is one of the harder stages!



Stage 8

They reused the "burning field" stage from Langrisser 2. This one moves a lot more slowly so you have time to move. I initially tried splitting my force but that turned out to be a mistake, so I just went in kind of an upside down V direction. Rifanny was surprisingly effective against the pikemen and archers with direct attacks. 



Stage 9   

I thought this was a fairly tough stage also. You first have tribesmen to deal with, then Emarinc's troops. Emarinc will kill some of the enemies but probably won't get very far (I wonder if the best way to deal with this stage is to go to the NW at the beginning and let Emarinc and the tribesmen fight it out.

I had this mess:


 

It seemed like I was not doing all that well and I was completely out of spell points by the time I had the battle under control, but at least I was destroying one troop or so per turn.

I think the Heal command is too powerful in this game, although maybe that benefits my team a lot as well.

Stage 10

You have a 19 turn limit here. I think on my first try I tried to move too quickly and got killed by the Shamans and bosses. It's not necessary to go that fast. I got bogged down by the initial pikemen and was worried about my turn count but once I got past them, the stage opened up a bit. Eventually I was able to reach the boss without killing all of the intervening enemies, which turned out to be a good thing. Other enemies come in afterwards, and the shika tribe will help you fight them. The shamans are especially useful -- their fireballs suck when they're coming at your party, but they help a lot directed at the enemies.



Stage 11

This stage is a nice breather; there are a lot of enemies but they aren't very hard and they come at you in small batches. The priests can get some EXP by killing the ghouls and other monsters. The boss can hit hard (I lost Luna) but when she's by herself it's not that bad. Although it was hard to tell what kind of units she had.

So Bozel is back, of course, he and Jessica seem to be two constants in the games. 

Stage 12  

This is the "save the bridge" stage from Langrisser 2. I was worried at first because I didn't see how I was going to beat all enemies in 14 turns, but actually you only have to defeat the infantry group on the right side of the bridge, then the turn limit goes away. From there I didn't have too much trouble; I summoned some Dark Elves to help against the flyers. Ruin was able to hold off all the horsemen with his pikes, and the archers helped pick up the slack.


On the story, this game does a better job than previous Langrissers (and other SRPGs) of showing what's happening on a large-scale war -- too many of these games make it seem like it's just your own force against the entire enemy army, and you don't really understand why the army isn't doing anything while you're fighting one battle in one area. But here they have a map between stages that shows the territory of each army and where important characters are. So even when we're doing something like trying to secure a Gate to prevent demons from coming through, other wars are still going on.  

It is odd that the plot started up with the wars between the countries but then almost immediately we go off to defend the Gates while the war keeps going. 

There are 36 stages so I'm 1/3 through.