Sunday, April 28, 2019

Game 17 - Shining Force Gaiden II (Chapters 1 and 2)

Here's another Shining Force game (with another coming up soon!) It's the second game to be released on the Game Gear. As with Gaiden 1, I'm playing this on the Shining Force CD remake. I will withhold the final "wrap-up" post until I actually finish the entire SFCD game.

The game is a direct sequel to SF Gaiden 1, taking places several years later. The hero from the first game goes off to fight a new enemy, leaving a mysterious boy (the new main character, Shuu), behind. When enemies attack to steal the Haja Sword from the first game, Shuu and the others go after him.

Stage 1

The first stage starts in familiar territory; by now we're used to the starting party of the hero, a mage, a monk, two centaurs, and an axe user.

The stage presents no real challenges.

Stage 2

This one was a bit harder. There are spellcasting enemies that can gang up on you if you're unprepared (I lost the Monk).
The spellcasting Dragon Newt
There do seem to be some new enemies in this game, at least.

Stage 3

I'm making a big effort not to let anyone fall behind in levels, because the centaurs tend to get all the XP.

Stage 4 

In this stage we're still chasing after the guy that stole the Haja Sword. Not too tough, although the axe user keeps dying. The monk has gotten much more useful as he gains levels.

Stage 5

I actually had to retreat from this stage the first time; it works better to go around the left side. I made sure to search the well to get the Entrance Ticket, which lets you do the final "museum" fight after beating the game.
Stage 6 

Finally a new guy; the person we were chasing turned out to be trying to save his village by stealing the sword. But the sword is still gone, so we chase after it to the next stage. 

Stage 7

It's hard to find things to write about for a lot of these stages because they're small maps with fairly simple strategies -- just move everyone forward, attack, and heal at times. I question whether I really should be doing stage-by-stage comments for games like this.

How about this picture of the sorcerer Gordon revealing himself:

Nightmare fuel

Stage 8

Now we chase gordon under the caves; he summons some extra Zombies but that's not very tough. As usual you have to make sure not to bunch up your guys to avoid getting targeted by the area effect spells -- this is still doable now because the enemies only have the 1 area effect.

Stage 9

The next two missions are about capturing a boat. This one has some new enemies that are tough, but I managed to get through with only one loss.

Stage 10

We need this boat because Kurisu has been captured by the enemy force and we need to go find him and destroy the I Om army. But after this stage, our force gets separated as a haunted ship takes off with half the party. The next set of missions split between the two parties.

I think for the next post on this game I will only comment if there's actually something interesting to say about the map -- if it has some interesting feature or if there's more than just basic strategy to beating it. That should probably be a general rule for this blog; I did it for the Little Master games and it should make for quicker and more interesting reading than just going over the same thing again and again or describing in detail a "strategy" that's just moving forward, attacking, and healing. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Game 16 - Ogre Battle

Ogre Battle (伝説のオウガバトル)
Release Date: 3/12/1993
System: Super Famicom
Developer: Quest
Publisher: Quest


  1. Turn type: Real time
  2. Maps: Relatively large. As usual there is terrain that affects movement.
  3. Character customization: Most units are generic and can be promoted to various classes by getting certain stats.
  4. Character development: Standard XP/level system. XP is shared among members of a squad.
  5. Party: You have a large number of squads composed of several units each, one of whom is the leader.
  6. Equipment: Each character can equip one item.
  7. Game flow: There are multiple paths through the game, optional stages, and several endings based on your "chaos frame" score.
  8. Saving: Between levels.
  9. Death: Not permanent.


As with Albert Odyssey, this is a game I already covered on my other blog, with two posts (Post 1 and Post 2).

I was looking forward to this game, having played Ogre Battle 64 back in the 90s and enjoying it quite a bit. Unfortunately I found this game to be lackluster in comparison and I didn't finish it. There is definitely a lot of customization, and this is the first SRPG on my list to offer any multiple paths, optional stages, or different endings. The story is pretty weak, though, since there are no pre or post battle dialogues, just chats with the characters or bosses within the stage.

My biggest problem was the gameplay, though, and it really came down to two development choices. The first is that with few exceptions, the enemy AI is simply to move towards your units or towns at top speed. The enemies rarely set up any kind of defensive formation or wait. The second problem is that if a leader is killed, the rest of the troop moves back to the HQ at max speed, and the split second they touch the HQ they immediately reappear fully healed and revived. I found both of these aspects of the game frustrating because it felt like I had no choice but to sit in a defensive position and wait for enemies to come to me, and make sure to exterminate them completely. Otherwise I risked losing towns I had captured, or getting mobbed.

The game has a lot of fiddly stuff with alignment and the "chaos frame" value if you want some of the optional characters or endings, but I found this to be more annoying than fun.

As I said on the other post, I don't necessarily think this is a bad game, I just personally did not like it. OB64 was far superior, for my tastes.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Game 15 - Albert Odyssey

Albert Odyssey (アルバートオデッセイ)
Release Date: 3/5/1993

System: Super Famicom
Developer: Tokai Engineering
Publisher: Sunsoft


  1. Turn type: Player/enemy turn
  2. Maps: Very large -- the entire world is one big map, with one additional map for underground.
  3. Character customization: None
  4. Character development: Standard XP/level system.
  5. Party: 4 characters. There is some freedom to choose which characters to take along.
  6. Equipment: Four slots
  7. Game flow: See comments below.
  8. Saving: In towns.
  9. Death: Not permanent (you need to restore in towns or with items/spells).


This is my first game of 1993, and the first game on the Super Famicom. I have already played and reviewed this game on my other blog, so I will only give a brief summary here.

The most unusual feature of this game is an attempt to even more fully integrate RPG elements into the SRPG genre by completely removing the idea of separate maps or stages, and making the entire world map into one big stage. This is an innovation, but there's an obvious reason why few other game have gone this route -- it takes forever to go anywhere since you have to move everyone individually even if there are no monsters in the area. Exploring is tedious and makes you want to use a walkthrough to make sure you're heading in the right direction. Entering a town is needlessly complicated.

The other big problem I had with this game is that you never get any new powers or spells beyond your initial set, so the beginning and end of the game are basically the same.

As you can probably tell, I did not like this game very much. The story is also lackluster. I'm not looking forward to Albert Odyssey 2, because I'm not hopeful that they solved any of these issues with the first game.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

1992 wrap-up

With Just Breed I finished 1992 on my list. This also finishes the Famicom as a system.

I'm going to start doing "game of the year" for each year. 1990 is obviously Fire Emblem since it's the only game. 1991 is a bit harder; I'm going to say Langrisser. There's a problem with this because I played the 1993 PC Engine port, but I believe that even if I had played the original Mega Drive version I still would have put it in first -- the only other contender is Lady Phantom, and from what I've seen of the MD Langrisser it seems better.

For 1992 I choose Just Breed. I know Shining Force 1 is beloved, but I feel like it's still just a bit too primitive in its system to win -- I wouldn't be surprised if SF2 is the winner for 1993, though.

The games I played for 1992 were Fire Emblem Gaiden, Shining Force, Little Master 2, Shining Force Gaiden, Vixen 357, Macross: Eternal Love Song, and Just Breed.

The big development in SRPGs this year was the introduction of RPG-style towns. 1991's Burai Densetsu had this in embryo, but it really shows up in FE Gaiden and Shining Force, and again in Just Breed. This represents a further emphasis on the RPG part of the SRPG. There still is not much RPG-style exploration, and one thing that still has not appeared in any games is multiple scenario paths. This will first appear in 1993's Super Robot Taisen 3.

Although this use of RPG towns was common in 1992, it did not become a standard element -- there will still be plenty of games after this that do not use any kind of transition between the battles (other than story).

Another RPG element that is becoming a stronger presence is equipment. Shining Force and Just Breed allow for 3 or 4 pieces of equipment, more than any of the 1991 games.

1993 will bring the entry of the Super Famicom, and the last of the PC Engine games. Of all the games I have on my list for 1993, I think only the last one, the PCE game "Sword Master", is relatively unknown to English players.

The next two weeks I will make two posts on Wednesday for Albert Odyssey and Ogre Battle, two game I've already played on my other SFC blog, then I'll start Shining Force Gaiden II after that.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Game 14 - Just Breed wrap-up

Just Breed (ジャストブリード)
Release Date: 12/15/1992
System: Famicom
Developer: Random House
Publisher: Enix


  1. Turn type: Player turn/enemy turn.
  2. Maps: Small to medium.Terrain slows movement and may give bonuses, but I'm not sure. You win a map by beating all enemies or by getting the main character to the next town/cave/etc.
  3. Character customization: None.
  4. Character development: Standard XP/level system. XP is shared among members of a squad.
  5. Party: You have up to 4 parties on each map; each party has a leader and 5 underlings. There are six total leaders, and their squads join and leave as the story progresses (you never get a choice). Some maps are indoors, and you only get to use the leaders in that case.
  6. Equipment: Four equipment slots per character.
  7. Game flow:You proceed from one battle to the next in a linear fashion. Sometimes you can repeat battles, sometimes they disappear (although maybe only for a time). There are towns between the battles where you can talk to people, buy things, etc.
  8. Saving: At inns in the town.
  9. Death: Not permanent. If the leader dies the entire squad retreats from the map. Reviving guys is cheap. Even if the main character is killed, you lose some money but the XP you gained from the level remains.


This is both the last game of 1992 and the last game for the Famicom (on my list). Graphically of course it's inferior to the PC Engine and Mega Drive games I've been playing, although for the Famicom it's impressive. The monsters, designed by Takada Yuzo (of 3x3 Eyes fame) have detailed pictures you can see by looking at their stats, and the character have Takada's art in the instruction manual. The music is also impressive, both from a technological and quality standpoint -- I only wish there were more music tracks.

The key point of the game, to me, are the monster lairs. These are what prevent you from using a turtle strategy or a "move slowly forward picking off guys one at a time". If you do that, you'll find yourself overwhelmed. So you have to press forward and split up your team to deal with the lairs. This can prove to be an annoyance, but it also puts more strategic value in your moves. My main complaint is that it's very unclear when lairs are actually going to produce monsters. It's a confusing combination of map variance, distance to the lairs, the number of units already on screen, and maybe other factors. I don't like this kind of uncertainty because it makes it harder to plan strategically. And there also seemed to be times where I was able to use the technical limitations of the Famicom to "cheat" in a sense by moving so many of my own squads onto the screen that there was no memory or sprite space for new monsters to appear.

The game gets significantly easier once you unlock the higher level damage spells. The game is not totally unbalanced; the MP are limited enough that you can't just waltz in and cast a bunch of spells. But it definitely lowers the difficulty until you reach the final area.

On the whole I enjoyed this game, and unusually I found myself enjoying it more as the game went on. There were annoying parts, and it does take a long time to move all the units (although the Auto mode helps). But for 1992 it's a solid game and one of the best of the 14 games I've played so far.

Next Wednesday I'll post the 1992 wrap-up and then the two successive weeks I'll write posts about two games I've already played (Albert Odyssey and Ogre Battle). After that, whenever I finish the Super Famicom game I'm on it will be time for Shining Force Gaiden II.