Monday, December 17, 2018

Game 10 - Little Master 2 wrap-up


Little Master 2: Knight of Lightning (リトルマスター2 雷光の騎士)
Release Date:

System: Game Boy 
Developer: Zener Works  
Publisher: Intellimedia
  1. Turn type: Player turn/enemy turn.
  2. Maps: Small. Terrain gives bonuses. Gimmicks on each stage.
  3. Character customization: None.
  4. Character development: Standard XP level system. Max level is 16, but monsters can be combined at temples to change to better monsters.
  5. Party size: 7 is the most you can send out on a map; I'm not sure what the maximum size of your party is. You can get additional monsters from buildings on certain maps.
  6. Equipment: The game has no items or equipment.
  7. Game flow: Only a few of the stages can be repeated. No exploration. No alternate paths or secret maps.
  8. Saving: Any time.
  9. Death: When a unit reaches 0 HP it is removed from the map and loses all XP (but retains level).


After playing Little Master 1, I noted that it had some nice concepts but was just too limited to be much fun. Little Master 2 has 34 maps compared to 15 maps of the original and doubles the level limit. Unfortunately this just increases the length of the game without addressing any of the gameplay limits.

The biggest problem with the game is that the battle system is just too simplistic to make for a fun strategic play. With the exception of one healer, every unit has exactly one option -- attack. Some units have range 1-2 while others have just 1, but the game gets pretty boring when every stage is pretty much the same because you never get any new powers. The strategic choices you're making on the final stage are similar to stage 1.

The storyline is slightly better than LM1 but still nothing special.

So this, like LM1, has not really aged well and isn't worth playing in 2018. There is one more Little Master game, this one for Super Famicom. It came out just over 3 years after LM2. I hope they used this time to improve the gameplay rather than just porting the same system over to the Super Famicom. In 1995 when it came out it had to compete with SRPGs like Der Langrisser, Front Mission, and Super Robot Taisen 4. We'll see in a while whether it managed to put up any kind of a fight.

Next up will be Shining Force Gaiden. I'll play the CD remake but I will do a bit of the original game to get some comparison screenshots. I've been having issues with audio balance when streaming; I may try to just make a plain video for the next game and then see if I can get the streaming working later.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Game 10 - Little Master 2 (Part 2)

The last 13 stages of this game were basically as uneventful as the first. The simplistic gameplay makes it tough to sit through the stages -- the main blessing is that they're all short.

This time began with the four elemental planes, which are all the same tiny-style maps.

All the enemies in all four maps are the same; just elemental spirits of the map type. The final map has the Spirit King but he's not much stronger than his underlings. Upon beating him he agrees to open the gate to the Makai world so we can beat Gegazain, but we still need an airship to get there. Fortunately those annoying air pirates that keep bothering us have a ship, so let's go steal it! They're currently up on top of the Babel Tower where they made a fortress.
Unfortunately the Chaos Dragon at the top of the tower can't be hurt at all, meaning that we need to go get a magic sword. This is a repeat of LM1, even down to us fighting "Arabian", the guardian of the sword, who joins the party afterwards.
Let's just ignore the right side of this picture
Now Lim can hurt the Chaos Dragon, though only he can. So it's important to have Tamtam ready to heal. Next up we steal the airship and pilot it to the entrance to the Makai.
The Vampire guy tries to stop us, but now it's time to beat all the bosses we've been facing throughout the game. Vampire begins by using a mirror to summon clones of our characters.
Even so this isn't a hard stage. I managed to fuse a King Koala who is the highest ranking unit in the game -- he has a very high attack value but pathetic movement and not a great defense. Still a pretty useful unit, though. This stage is easy because beating Vampire ends the whole thing.
Next up is two one on one fights, Moomoo vs. Black Moomoo and Lim vs. Skash. The main problem here is the enemies retreating to the heal circles, and managing your own healing. Moomoo was fine, but for Skash I had to purposely destroy all the healing circles but one, then get Skash down to half health or so, heal myself (and get the last heal circle destroyed), and then finish him off. This was the only stage in the game that required unusual tactics beyond just attacking and healing.

Finally, Gegazain. It's a similar stage to LM1.

Here's my endgame party.

Just as in LM1, Gegazain first appears in human form, then when he's defeated, he returns in dragon form (but doesn't get a free attack like in the first game).

It's an easy fight because he doesn't have a heal circle to retreat to, but as long as you didn't let them all get destroyed it's easy to swap out characters and whittle down his HP.

The castle begins to crumble...

But we're saved by the ship!

And we all live happily ever after.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Game 10 - Little Master 2 (GB)

Little Master 2: Knight of Lightning (リトルマスター2 雷光の騎士)
Release Date: 3/27/1992
System: Game Boy
Developer: Zener Works

This is the followup to the second game I played on the blog. It's largely the same, although the ROM is twice the size, allowing for 34 stages instead of the 15 in the original. Characters can now level up to 16.

The monster combine system has also been changed -- now the level of the monster is not factored into the calculation, only the type of monster. This seems to make it harder to get the higher level monsters, and since you can only play most stages once, there isn't as much opportunity for combination. There are also a lot more non-monster characters on your team this time.

I don't think this game is well served by a stage-by-stage post; it would be rather boring since a lot of the strategies are the same. Many of the stage gimmicks are reused from LM1, such as the warp tiles, tornado random warps, "Hell Crab" turning the ground to fire, and such.

The game begins following off the first one. Gegazain, before his defeat, split the Sun Crystal into three parts and monsters are in the world again. King Richard wants Lim to go find the three crystals, one of which is in the Babel Tower, where we head first.

The map graphics are slightly improved from LM1, as are the battle graphics, but they're very similar.. There are some new units, but a lot of returning units as well. Moomoo the faithful cow servant joins along with an assortment of basic monsters. 

The heal circles from LM1 are back, with the same rule that you can use them as often as you want, but if anyone attacks a unit on a heal circle, it's broken. However, in this game we also get a healer ally unit named Tamtam.
She can heal 5 times per map. However, if attacked, she turns into a monster (dependent on her level). This sucks if you still need healing but can be useful if she's out of spells and still want her to participate, since the monster she turns into retains her level. She advances quickly just by healing and can be a useful fighter as well.

After a few stages, we find a guy named Skash unconscious in a town that has been attacked by the monsters, but he joins our party afterwards, and we get a new foe: Black MooMoo, who arrives on a big airship.

Skash is a useful ally. The goal of this first part is to get to the top of the Babel Tower, where the crystals are. But we keep getting blocked and having to go on side missions to find things to progress. But finally we make it to the top to the crystals!

Only to find out that Skash is actually a traitor -- he's the son of Gegazain trying to resurrect him with the power of the crystals. This succeeds.
Now Gegazain is back again, sending us scrambling back to the King. Unfortunately, Skash and the vampire from LM1 are there before us, and manage to kidnap the princess.

Now Richard the King joins the party, and we set out to find the Spirit Mirror, but this will require visiting elemental planes and eventually defeating the Spirit King in order to get the Mirror. This is where I am.

It's a pretty slow-moving game that's not all that fun. I wouldn't recommend it. I'll finish it for the blog (I have 13 stages left) but hopefully Little Master 3 will be better.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Streaming (twitch/YT plan)

One thing I've been frustrated by in searching down games for this blog is how many of these games, particularly the older ones, have almost no information on them in Japanese or English. Videos are also scarce in many cases; sometimes there's only an intro, or a minute or two of gameplay.

I've been hesitant to set up a Twitch or streaming youtube (for either of my blogs) because I can't commit to a regular time, and without that I'm not sure I could get consistent viewership.

What I would like to do is for each game, stream my first session (1-2 hours) so that at least there's a video for each game with a basic explanation of how the game works, and footage that includes both story sequences and the gameplay.

I don't know exactly what form this will take or how I'll do it, but I'll try to decide that in the next few days. Little Master 2, the game I'm playing now, has a full video playthrough on youtube so I'll wait until the next game, probably.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Game 9 - Shining Force wrap-up


  1. Turn type: Speed-based system, although each unit only acts once in a round.
  2. Maps: Medium. There is terrain that gives bonuses.
  3. Character Customization: Promotion of units at level 10.
  4. Character Development: Standard XP level system.
  5. Party Size: 12 on a map.
  6. Equipment: 4 items for each character, one equippable weapon, one equippable ring.
  7. Game Flow: 30 stages, all in order, no repeats (although you can leave a battle and try again, retaining all XP.)
  8. Saving: Only outside of battle.
  9. Death: Revive units at churches; very affordable.


I remember this being a widely liked game when I was a kid. Since most of the SRPGs were not localized, it wasn't really until Final Fantasy Tactics that there was an SRPG that got as much recognition as this one (and its sequels and spinoffs). 

One thing that may have contributed to its localization is that it's not very hard, relatively speaking. Not only is death not permanent, it's not even really that bad. The revive cost is incredibly cheap, and with easy retreats from any battle, as long as you keep your main character alive it's easy to try stages, get some XP and levels, and then come back if you need to. 

It seems that later on when Fire Emblem became more known among Western players, this came to be regarded as just an FE ripoff. I don't really think this is fair to the game -- while there's clear influence from Fire Emblem, the strong RPG components are original to this game, and the speed-based turn system is a significant difference. The storyline also seems much more indebted to standard RPG storylines than the usual political/empire conflicts of the SRPGs.

But is it fun? More or less. There are some frustrating aspects to the game. The promotion system is one of the biggest for me. When I promoted Zappa (Zylo) and Bleu, they became so weak that they were essentially unusable. They did 1 damage to everything and died in one hit. Of course I could have fed them kills and replayed maps until they caught up, but promoting a character shouldn't gimp them that hard. I really hope this is something they improve in future installments. 

The other problem is that the speed-based system makes it easy for characters to get stuck behind groups of other characters, especially on maps where the movement is slow because of terrain.

That being said I still did find this a fun game. Sega really went all out with Shining Force because there are three more SF games soon after this one. I'll be playing the GB game Little Master 2 next, but then it will be back to SF for the first Gaiden game.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Game 9 - Shining Force (Chapters 7-8)

Before I get to the last two chapters, I forgot to upload some pictures from the manual. First, the game comes with a large map (pointless), but the back side which gives all the weapons, magic spells, and characters, is useful. The map came with yellowed, cracking tape probably 25 years old.

Then there is the usual section with art of all the characters -- as I've said, this is helpful in these older games where the graphics don't always tell the full story of what the characters are supposed to look like.

Although in this case I think the in-game graphics do a good job of translating these pictures.

Anyway, last two chapters.

Chapter 7 - The Lost Civilization

Prompt is a place where the people intentionally act stupid, but they're really working on figuring out how to open the Shining Road.

There's a hidden character, Musashi. In the English version you investigate a sign on a wall but in the Japanese version there's no sign.

The same is true of the Hanzou bush in the next chapter.

Battle 22

Here we have an upgraded Zappa and Bleu, who will be useless for the rest of the game. Musashi is along for the ride now. A lot of people move very slow over this terrain and the monsters are tougher -- particularly the Bolt casting Belials. But it's not too bad.

Battle 23

This map is not so bad either, although I think I had to escape once or twice. The new robot-like enemies do a lot of damage. The boss is like Mishaela in that only one guy can attack him at once (plus flyers) but he's a lot easier than Mishaela.

Now I get Alef (mage) and Torasu (priest). I left Alef in the HQ but switched out Chip for Torasu since he has Aura. Cain also sacrifices himself to save me, and we head on to Metafa the lost civilization.

Battle 24

Looks like I forgot to get a screenshot of this stage. The beginning is tough; there are a lot of monsters coming for you and it's easy to get overwhelmed. I had to escape a few times and retry before I managed to get control of the battle. Once Chaos is left by himself, it's not too bad.

Now we combine the Sword of Light and Cain's Sword of Darkness to make the Chaos Breaker, the strongest weapon, and head on to Runefaust to try to stop Darksol.

Battle 25

Another forest/mountain stage.

The armed skeletons are annoying, but overall I didn't find this map very hard.

Chapter 8 - Rise of the Ancient Castle

In Runefaust I bought the best equipment for my main party and still had 250,000K gold left over. Hanzou joins here too, a good replacement for Zappa the Wolf Baron failure.

Somehow I have few screenshots until battle 29, I guess I got lazy.

Battle 26

This was another one I had to restart multiple times -- there are a lot of flying enemies that can get you right from the start, and I kept losing weak units or even the strong units would get overwhelmed. Once I got control of the battle, though, it finished fairly easy.

Battle 27

Time to take down King Ramladu of Runefaust!

 The walkthrough says he can heal himself but I never saw this. He does regenerate, but without a strong area effect spell it's easy to surround him and beat the crap out of him.

Of course Ramladu was being controlled by Darksol, who is the only foe left. Kurisu uses the Chaos Breaker to make the ancient city rise from the sea, and we head in there for the final conflict.

Battle 28

This is another stage where the initial enemies can quickly overwhelm you and I had to escape a few times before I figured out how to place my guys to not get rushed. Once this is done the rest of the stage was not so bad. Colossus the boss is tough and has to be beaten twice to win the stage.

Battle 29

Here is the two-part final battle. Any dead characters in this stage will not be revived in the next one.

There is my final party. Other than Bleu, who is completely useless, they all contributed.

Darksol is the main difficulty of this stage, but with surrounded by Gort, Gantz, Musashi, and Hanzou, he went down pretty quickly, especially since he chose a few times to attack rather than use his high damage area spells.

Now Darksol uses his own body to revive the Dark Dragon.

Battle 30 

Dark Dragon has three heads, each with 250 HP -- 750 HP is more than the total HP of all the units on many stages but somehow this isn't as hard as that makes it seem. 

I moved two guys on the squares where the enemies respawn to block them, and then focused on the main head. He has high damage spells but with a few Auras I was able to beat him. At this point I was out of cure MP but the other heads are nowhere near as difficult. If I had really wanted to I could have just used Lyle to beat both heads without taking any damage.

Once Dark Dragon is defeated, Kurisu reseals him with the Chaos Breaker, but has to remain there to hold the sword while the castle crumbles. He warps everyone else out with Return but stays in himself. The game then tells you that all the characters go back to their homes (no extended treatment like in Fire Emblem).

After the credits, there's an epilogue showing that Adam and Kurisu actually did survive the final battle.

Wrap-up in a few days.