Release Date: 4/19/1991
System: Game Boy
Developer: Zener Works
After Fire Emblem, it took a year for the next game to come out that falls within my definition of an SRPG. It's for the Game Boy, and predictably it's considerably shorter and less ambitious than Fire Emblem. It spawned a short franchise, with Little Master 2 coming out a year later, and then a third game for Super Famicom in 1995.
The games are clearly building on the structure that Fire Emblem started, but they do introduce new elements of gameplay. Except for a few unique characters, your party is made up of various monsters, who can be combined in temples to grow into stronger monsters. Each stage is slightly different, with gimmicks or tricks to keep things interesting. While the game is quite short at 15 small stages, that's typical for this era of the Game Boy. Having a game that you could take with you anywhere was enough of an advantage that even a not-so-exciting game could sell.
The gameplay is very basic. It's standard SRPG. Your characters can move up to level 8, and there is no equipment or items. A unit attacks, the other unit counters. It follows FE's player turn/enemy turn system. Most of the stages can be repeated as many times as you want, so there are opportunities to build up your characters and try to use the monster combination system to get different units.
The game begins with the opening story. Dark King Gezagain suddenly appeared 6 months ago on a stormy night and took over a bunch of kingdoms. The kingdom of Lainark is also under attack and facing destruction. The main character Lim, and his close associate Moomoo (the cow in the picture above) are sent out by the king to fight against Gezagain's forces.
The first 10 stages have no developing story; the king just sends you out to a particular place to deal with some troops of Gezagain.
|The king and his hard to read Game Boy text|
Scenario 1 - The Hero Sets Out
You begin with the hero, Moomoo, and three additional monsters -- a Sheepman, a Chickenman, and a Treant. Treants can walk over rivers. The other two don't have any specialties. Other monsters can attack 2 spaces away or fly. This is a very small and simple stage, with nothing tricky about it. The house gives you a Mouseman.
Scenario 2 - The Strange Temple
This is the stage with the first temple. By moving two monsters onto it, they can be combined into a bigger monster. The hexagram at the bottom is a heal point. Any unit (enemy or player) moving there regains all their HP. However, if a unit is attacked while on the hexagram, it breaks (units can be counterattacked there with nothing happening). This does add a bit of strategy because you need to be careful about how you use the hexagrams, or which monsters you attack.
Scenario 3 - Tornado Panic
Scenario 4 - The Illusion Lake
Scenario 5 - Protect the Forest
Scenario 6 - Deal with the Dam
Here you have to reach the Dam square, which will dry up the water and reveal the house with the boss.
Scenario 7 - Zombie Legend
Scenario 8 - Mountain of the Falling Stars
The magician highlighted above, when defeated, accidentally releases a huge magic burst that kills or weakens most of the enemies. The Cyclops are tough so this should be done first. By this point I was mostly using just the hero and Moomoo to beat everything.
Scenario 9 - Fly to the Magic Mountain
Scenario 10 - Fortress of the Monsters
After winning this stage, it turns out it was just a feint to draw your attention away. The king is wounded and the princess captured.
So the story actually begins here, and I'll cover the last 5 stages in the next post.