Monday, September 23, 2019

Game 23 - Hiouden: Pact with the Monsters (Stages 1-7)

Hiouden: Pact with the Monsters (緋王伝 魔物達との誓い)
Release Date: 2/11/1994
System: Super Famicom
Developer: Wolf Team
Publisher: Enix

I originally didn't have this game on my list, but when I was evaluating it to see if it was an RPG (for my other blog), I realized it was actually an SRPG I had missed. It's by Wolf Team, which later will develop the early Tales games. It has music by Motoi Sakuraba, who had been working with Wolf Team for a while.

Hiouden is a series that began on the PC-98; three games were released from 1992-1994. This Super Famicom game is not a straight port of any of the PC-98 games, although it follows the same basic story idea. A wicked minister has betrayed the king, and his son escapes, but then turns back with summoned monsters to have revenge on the minister. The title "Legend of the Scarlet King" seems to refer to the blood-drenched Prince who takes revenge via the monsters, although the narrator tells you at the beginning this is not true.

The game supports the SNES mouse, and the controls are surprisingly well done -- it's hard for me to come up with places where I think they made bad decisions within the limitations of the Super Famicom.

So let's get right into it

Stage 1

You start at the top of the castle, which connects to a garden. A dryad named Beatrix appears and gives Richard, the prince, a ring that lets him make contracts with ancient monsters that have been sealed within statues in the castle. This stage is basically a tutorial, that shows you how to move, open chests and doors, get monsters, equip things, fight, and such.

The battles happen automatically when your guys encounter the enemies. There's not much you do to directly control them; you can set an overall tactic to have them retreat, fight to the death, withdraw injured characters, or rest. You can change the order in which the magicians will prioritize their spells. By clicking on the hourglass in the bottom right you can pause the game which is very helpful; this allows you to use items and redirect your characters.

Every squad you defeat gives a chest, which has food and other HP restoring items, and equipment.

The stage ends when you reach the stairs down to the next floor. The whole game seems to take place within this castle.

Stage 2

You have three minutes to cross the bridge. There's a healing floor at the beginning to go back to, but I didn't find this necessary. I used one or two healing items and was able to beat the stage.

The map view is convenient because you can issue orders even there -- you can also split the screen between two parties, or between a party and the overhead map.

Stage 3

This stage has several corridors with arrows that shoot out. If you feed a statue some apples it will tell you that you need to leave one party on the switches to turn the arrows off while the other party fights the monsters. We also get the third group in this stage.

Stage 4

There aren't any healing floors here so you have to use the rest (click on the sword until it turns to ZZZ) to regain HP. We also find the Mattock here which can break down certain walls.

The stage ends with Richard and party opening a switch to release water, which washes them down right into the middle of a bunch of monsters including a large boss!

Stage 5

This is an all out fight right from the start, surrounded by a lot of enemies, so I'm not sure there's much you can do to strategize. The characters will blink red when they are low on HP. If you check their status screen it will show what food they like, and if you give them that it restores all their HP. I also have a bunch of magic items, but Nicovideo comments warned against using them early in the game because the later stages are so difficult.

Stage 6

The manual has brief descriptions of the first 6 stages. It warns you here that you should keep the average level of your units high, I guess meaning that it's not going to work to just use one or two squads. So I used my weaker units entirely on this stage.

This is the stage where I started getting promotion items. They can change your characters' classes -- zombies into skeletons, serpents into dragons, etc. There are additional class promotions later on.

Stage 7 

This is the stage where we take down the evil Minister. This requires going through a complicated set of doors that open with different keys, taking down reinforcement enemies, and finally taking on the Minister and a big group of enemies. I used my lower level guys and by the end of this pretty much everyone was in the 15-17 range.

I should have made sure to get all those chests, but it shouldn't matter too much. The Minister tells us that he rebelled because Richard's father wasn't a good enough king, and that we need someone stronger to deal with the surrounding empires. Now that Richard can become the "king of monsters" maybe he can do it? Anyway, time to delve under the castle to find the Sword of Kings before Richard decides what to do.

There are only 20 stages in the game, so it's not especially long, but the stages could get longer as we go. So far I'm enjoying this game; I recommend giving it a try with the translation patch.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Game 22 - Majin Tensei


  1. Turn type: Player turn/enemy turn
  2. Maps: Medium to large. There is terrain that gives bonuses.
  3. Character Customization:You can combine monsters to get new ones.
  4. Character Development: Standard XP level system for the two humans, an 8-tier system for the monsters.
  5. Party Size: I don't remember what the max size is.
  6. Equipment: You can equip 6 things at a time, I believe.
  7. Game Flow: There is an overworld map and some stages are optional. You can replay indoor dungeon/cave stages.
  8. Saving: In battle only.
  9. Death: Permanent.


I played this game some years ago so I'm not going to play it again because it's rather long. This is one of the games in the long-running Megami Tensei franchise. They adapted the system to an SRPG style, and while it's rough in some areas, I liked it overall.

The story is awful. I assume there was some backstory given in the instructions, but beyond that the game has almost no plot -- to the point where it almost fails the criteria I have that these games have to have a developing plot.

The gameplay is much better, though. As in other MT games, the main character can convince demons to join the team. These can be levelled up (max 8) and then combined with other demons, and they will bring over the skills they learned. This allows you to get some customized demons. The demons come in 8 varieties, and each variety has a different compability (in attack/defense) with other types. This means you can't just rely on a few powerful demons, but you have to have a somewhat varied party to deal with the monsters you encounter.

I remember the game being fairly hard at points, because you would get swarmed by monsters, and it was very hard to stop them from surrounding or ganging up on particular characters. One thing that made it a bit easier is that losing a demon is not always terrible because you can convince new demons that might be more powerful than the one you lost. Like all the early MT games, the demon recruiting is basically random.

If you're a MT and retro game fan I would recommend at least trying this -- a patch has just recently come out for the game. I've heard that Majin Tensei 2 is much better and fixes a lot of the problems this game had. We'll see when I get there, and it may be that with MT2 out there it's not worth playing this one.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Game 21 - Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblems wrap-up


  1. Turn type: Player turn/enemy turn
  2. Maps: Medium to large. There is terrain that gives bonuses.
  3. Character Customization: None.
  4. Character Development: Standard XP level system, with promotion at level 10 with an item.
  5. Party Size: Typically 12-15 units on a map although you get many more.
  6. Equipment: You can equip one weapon at a time, and have 3 in reserve. There is no other equipment.
  7. Game Flow: You play stages 1-20 in sequence, no repeats, and if you fulfill certain conditions you can do the last two stages.
  8. Saving: Between battles.
  9. Death: Permanent.


I think that with this remake of FE1 and the new scenario, FE has finally hit its stride. This is the first FE game I would recommend even to Fire Emblem fans -- it's still lacking a number of things that are in later Fire Emblems, but it's playable in a way that the first two aren't.

Part of this is the massive interface improvements, including skippable animations, inventory management between stages, and being able to see enemy movement ranges. The graphics are also of course much better than the Famicom games. The difficulty of this game is a bit uneven, though -- the first stages are the hardest, and the game gets easier as you go on.

The story is still fairly simple, although there is more dialogue and a somewhat more complex plot than the first games.

I mentioned in one of the posts that one thing I really appreciate about FE3 in comparison to other games I've played is the variety in the stages. It's not just "defeat all enemies" and you move your guys through the stage. You have to stop thieves from destroying villages, convince enemies, avoid killing certain things, open doors and chests, and such. 

I still feel that at some level FE just isn't for me. I find the permanent death too frustrating -- the only way I can play these games is to use save states. I generally limit it to one save state per stage so that I'm not just playing casually and resetting any time I make a small mistake. But I can't deal with playing 30-40 minutes on a stage and then having to start over because I made one careless move or one mistake.

It's two years before the next FE game so that will be a while in the timeline of this blog.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Game 21 - Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblems (Stages 20-end)

Stage 20

This stage started out kicking my butt. I lost probably 15 times trying to just get through the first corridor, because of all the Worm and Meteor users (distance magic).

The solution is just to ignore this top part. The chest is a Lady Sword, which might provide some minor help in the next stage but is not worth it. I was also assured by people on Discord that the Silence staff is best used in this stage. So I made my way down, using Silence to prevent the mages from sniping characters. I also made use of the enemy thief to open the door before I killed him.

Take out these guys, then get all the chests and move down to the bottom.

Once you enter the bottom area, reinforcements start coming and the enemies attack the captured character there to the right. I had my character with the Mercurius Sword and the Light Orb take him out in one turn and then moved Marth to capture the throne before anything else could happen.

At this point if you didn't get the 5 orbs the game ends. Otherwise, we go on to the final stages. Unfortunately you lose all the orbs now.

Final Stage 1

My main goal here was to move fast, because in 12 turns reinforcements start coming. The stage itself is not that hard; nothing attacks until you get in its range, and the thieves take a long time to cross the mountains so you can take them out with winged units. The main danger is that all of the barbarian units have Devil Axes, so they could kill someone with a critical. This didn't happen to me, and Marth with the Boots was fast enough to get up to the town to get Starlight, and then back to the castle to capture before turn 12.

Final Stage 2 

This stage is composed of three parts.

For the first part I used Warp to get Julian up to open the door, then I had Feena dance for the warp user. He then warped Marth up to the boss. Marth killed the boss, then I used the Again staff (which gives all units who have already moved another turn), and then finished the part.

For the second part I warped my mage with Starlight up to Garnef. He attacked. Then I used the Again staff (2nd of 3 uses), attacked again, killing Garnef. Feena danced for the warp user and then Marth got warped up to the throne to end this part.

For this part you need to either kill or persuade the four priests around Medius, and then kill him. The Earth Dragons get removed from the board every turn, but this still means they get one set of attacks on the enemy turn. Once I had the setup in the above screenshot, I used my final Again staff to give the persuading units another turn (I was worried they wouldn't survive the enemy turn). Then Marth attacked Medius with the Falchion. Chiki went next, and Medius was left with 8 HP. I could have beat him in a number of ways but I decided to have Feena dance for Chiki, who delivered the killing blow.

The ending shows you the number of turns you did each stage in, as well as what happens to each character (just like FE1). One nice touch is that it shows the number of times each character died, even if you reset after the death. My favorite one is my failed attempt to use Doga.

And that's FE3.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Game 21 - Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblems (Stages 15-19)

Stage 15

Marth returns to his land. The main difficulties are just knowing when things will happen (e.g. the reinforcements) and not getting in range of the Shooters.

Est is captured there but the General inside won't attack her so she's fine until the cavalry arrives. I sent Marth around the side to visit the towns and had everyone meet up at the bottom. Abel joins our group and then we kill the boss.

Stage 16

Now we're inside the castle. This stage reminds me of a book 1 stage with a lot of treasures but it's not as hard. I lost a couple of times on the left side (just as I did in FE1) but once George can convince Astria, the stage gets a lot easier. I had Marth take out most of the enemies on the left side.

Fortunately in this game, thieves that steal treasure boxes will drop that treasure once they're killed. So it's a lot easier to deal with them in stages like this than it was in FE1.

Stage 17 

This is a simple stage because over half the enemies run away from you since they belong to the Gura kingdom. I didn't get a screenshot, but as long as you don't kill any of the Gura troops, the boss will join being persuaded by Marth, and then she can persuade the unit next to her.

Stage 18

This is yet another stage where most of the units don't attack you. It looks bad at the beginning:

Fortunately all of those paladins and horsemen move to the top and don't attack, otherwise this stage would be considerably harder.

This is the main force, and is fairly small. The shooters can cause some havoc but with Armor Killers and Rapier it's not too bad. There's a secret shop that I bought some promote items from.

Stage 19

Oh god this stage sucked. I think I had to reset close to 20 times.

This center area is full of shooters and bishops with Worm magic. You have to take some of the forces through a pass to avoid them, and then go up and around. Then it's a challenge to beat all these enemies without anyone dying. Do not approach the castle because if you step on a square next to the castle, reinforcements start coming out of all the forts.

I made a save state once I had gotten up on the right and most of my state loads came after that, trying to break into the center area.

Chiki and Banutu work differently in this game than they did in FE1. They transform into actual dragons, which makes them much more useful.

Next update will hopefully be the last.