Thursday, June 14, 2012

Farewell 80s; Hello 90s

It's a bit unfortunate that none of the games of the oldest consoles provided any qualifying RPGs. Many of them had potential--combined it would make an awesome game--yet I think it was the storage size of these games that held them back. If you're looking for an RPG experience, you can use the scale's rating to determine which might most appeal to you. I tried to give more elaborate descriptions of the games towards the end for those looking for that.

Moving on, we have come to the year 1990. Some well known games are finally making more of an appearance. I'm sure many of you need no introduction to at least Final Fantasy not to mention Wizardry, and we also have three sequels (Dragon Warrior II, Phantasy Star II, and Ultima IV) to three already well known series.

It's looking like a promising year in gaming. We've already seen The Immortal cut a short time ago, so this is the last call to any that wants to argue that point. I think most have voiced their opinion though.

Here's the full list of RPGs for 1990:

Dungeon Magic: Sword of the Elements
Phantasy Star II
Little Ninja Brothers
Final Fantasy
Super Hydlide
Crystalis
Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord
Destiny of an Emperor
Final Fantasy Legend
Swords and Serpents
Dragon Warrior II
Double Dungeons
Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar

Out of these I've played Dungeon Magic, Final Fantasy, Crystalis, Wizardry (on PC), Final Fantasy Legend, Dragon Warrior II, and Double Dungeons. All except for Double Dungeons was many years ago though, so I remember next to nothing. I played Double Dungeons just last year when I was trying to get this project going the first time, but I had neither the same focus on the blog nor a reliance on using my own knowledge (I used pre-made maps). This time I'll play it straight, and spend the time to make my own maps.

I've heard that Super Hydlide can be quite the challenge. I'm excited to play through all of these games though, even Swords and Serpents, which has the infamous feature of needing 5 passwords (1 for each character, and 1 for the game). I've popped in Dungeon Magic, and found that the battery back-up save is still working. It amazes me this battery is still be working after 22 years. Hopefully I can say the same for the other cartridges as I get to them.

This year I have three games with a month in the release dates I couldn't find:

Dungeon Magic: Sword of the Elements
Little Ninja Brothers
Super Hydlide

To break things up a little, and hopefully avoid two bad games in a row, I've moved Super Hydlide to between Final Fantasy and Crystalis, and Little Ninja Brothers comes after Phantasy Star II. I know very little of Little Ninja Brothers, but I can see it going either way. If anyone has better release dates, I'll move the games around to fit those.


Now, on to Dungeon Magic! (After I cut a few more games...)

21 comments:

  1. Ooh, I played most of these as a kid when they came out... Can't wait to see the posts!

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    1. I hope to have the first one up this weekend. Which games do you remember playing?

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    2. Just double-checked and I remember playing (at least, a little bit) all of them except for Dungeon Magic and Little Ninja Brothers. Looking back, it's amazing how much free time I had as a kid . . . wow. Phantasy Star II was the first RPG that really just blew me away, though. Something about it just clicked. (At least, until I moved to RPGs on a computer a few years later and played Ultima VII). Of course, most of the rest are classics too -- DW, FF, Wizardry, Ultima, Hydlide - and I beat them all a few times each. Doubt I'd remember how to now, though.

      I admit having a fond memory of Crystalis since I had to read the book The Chrysalids at about the same time for school (both are about life after nuclear war)...

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    3. I suspect Dungeon Magic and Little Ninja Brothers are near the bottom of the list of well known games. Personally, I didn't even know about Little Ninja Brothers until a few years ago, but Dungeon Magic I've had since I was a kid. It's one of those games that enjoyed immensely even though I know I didn't get very far. I watched my brother play through it when I was able to (he had a later bed time and got up earlier too), and there is only one save slot on the cartridge so I wasn't allowed to save when I did play. Crystalis is another one of those games where I don't think I ever beat it on my own. At the very least, I remember reading the Nintendo Power article for a hint about a dolphin and a necklace or something.

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  2. So many fondly remembered games on this list (Final Fantasy, Dragon Warrior II, Phantasy Star II, Wizardry). I have most of these in my collection still and hope to get around to replaying them all eventually. I look forward to seeing your posts on them.

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    1. Glad to have someone around that knows the games in case I get stuck. I don't expect to, but you never know. As the puzzles in the games get harder I could find myself needing some assistance.

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  3. Little Ninja Brothers: JPN - 1989-05-26, USA - 1990-12
    Super Hydlide: 1989-10-05
    Dungeon Magic: Sword of the Elements: JPN - 1989-11-10, USA - 1990-07

    Gamefaqs should have the proper release dates for all games that were released in Japan, try checking it out next time. ;)

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    1. Better than nothing I suppose. I've mostly been going off of Wikipedia and MobyGames. I didn't even know there was release date information on gamefaqs. :D

      I'm pretty sure the Super Hydlide date is the Japanese release, at least it nearly matches the one on MobyGames. I'll just put it after Final Fantasy.

      This means instead of Dungeon Magic up next, I'll be playing Phantasy Star II.

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    2. Forgot to say thank you, so thanks. I appreciate the info.

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  4. I'll chime in again on a release date here. Super Hydlide was released before Phantasy Star 2 in the US. It was out shortly after initial launch games and was not very impressive but I bought it anyway. Was out quite a bit before Phantasy Star 2 hit the street which Impicked up right away. The best thing I can say about Super Hydlide was that it had great music. The graphics were only slightly better than something you would see on the NES. Phantasy Star 2 did have the earlier Japanese release date. I would probably attribut this to Phantasy star 2 taking much longer to translate and localize than the fairly shorter SH that wasnt as text heavy. I just spent 2 hours to try and find some old EGM scans to prove this but I couldn't find the appropriate issues available. I suppose I could did through my old box.

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    1. Ok I did some more research. A user named darthfungus318 posted the EGM videos on YouTube if you want to verify. EGM 9 reviewed Phantasy Star 2 and listed a release date of 3/30/1990. EGM 10 reviewed Super Hydlide (SH) and listed a release date of 4/01/1990. So they were released pretty much simultaneously or PS2 has a one day edge according to EGM. I could have sworn I got SH before PS2 though but I guess that's as reliable info as you will find. So you might want to move SH up right after PS2 on your list at any rate.

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    2. I think it's hard to pinpoint an actual release date, so I'm going to put it after Final Fantasy just in case Phantasy Star 2 suffers as much as people say it does. At least I know I'll enjoy Final Fantasy, and I'm afraid Super Hydlide might be a bit of a slog (again based on what others say about the game). Who knows though... I want to have a poll for Final Fantasy characters up for a bit, so if I get through Phantasy Star II quickly, I'll swap Super Hydlide in.

      It'd be interesting to search for the actual release dates, but possibly the only way to get accurate data would be to find someone who bought it on day one and has a receipt, or getting it directly from the distributor/publisher. Everyone seems to have a different date these old games, some just taking it off what others have reported. Any idea when the publishing dates for EGM 9 and 10 are? It's possible the release dates were speculative, but they released early (or late). Most places tend to list Phantasy Star in 1989, but Wikipedia lists a source for a release date of February 1990.

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    3. If you go to the YouTube videos the magazine covers have their month on the cover. They actually list the release dates in the reviews which I mentioned above. Phantasy star two is actually quite long and is a great game. But there will be grinding and the dungeons are vast. Without the hint book with dungeon maps people say it is quite difficult. I didn't use the hints but I did use the maps. The 1989 release date was Japan and that often what is listed but the magazine coverages at the time firmly put it in that early part of 1990. I think you will enjoy PS2. Super Hydlide is not nearly as long. But it falls more into the Ys style of combat and some of the mechanics are kind of challenging like the inventory management and the day night cycle. And ere not being very many hints. Famously one of the better ways to play e game is to use a trick/hint that has you search a specific tile in the game tha you can find 10,000 gold in. I would say Phantasy Star 2 is way better than Final Fansasy in all respects as that game is a contemporary of the first Fantasy Star in Japan while Ps2 improves on the first in almost every way. But I imagine magazines have the best information on release dates back then as they would get the review copies early from publishers and get the release information with it. But Imthink with distribution back then it wasn't as uniform as it is now and certain areas and retailers might vary by a couple of weeks.

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    4. I remember magazines being notorious for reporting release dates that later get pushed back. The best thing they're probably useful for is to know if a game has been released yet or not. I haven't bothered really researching for the best dates, mainly going off what wikipedia or mobygames have to say; should be good enough. For those missing months I'll take another look.

      Peering ahead I noticed Ultima VI didn't have a date, and Ultima V was released the same year in January, which had Ultima VI coming before Ultima V... hopefully I can avoid such issues at least. Strangely, I don't think there's anything I can do about Might & Magic II being released before Might & Magic I.

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  5. Also I wanted to take the time to note that I am impressed by your overload of posts this week. I know you will probably not be able to keep this pace up but it is much appreciated. Also I don't know if you have it or not but PS2 came packed with a hint book and maps. If you would like to use it and it jives with your rules (it was included with the original game) I could let you borrow mine as long as you promised to send it back. Just email me at sean697@yahoo.com if you are interested and I can overnight it.

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    1. The overload is thanks to the simplicity of writing the Below the Cut posts compared to playing through a game and reporting back on my experiences. I'll try to keep it up for as long as I can, though it'll slow down once I actually get into a game. I hope it makes up for the lull of a month ago. Also, I think it helps fill in some more time between posts of Trickster and CRPGAddict since they both seem to be swamped by other responsibilities at the moment.

      As for the maps and hint book, does the book actually say "hint" or "clue" book? I want to avoid those even if they came with the game. I found the instructions here. Which maps came with the game?

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    2. Looks like I found a place that transcribed the hint book and the maps: http://www.phantasy-star.net/psii/psii.html

      I haven't looked at any of it, but I'll use it if I get stuck. Thanks for pointing it out for me.

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    3. Ah yes phantasy star.net. I have that site bookmarked from way bak in 2002 when I was replaying the GBA PS collection. And they really haven't updated in ages but since the games are old I guess it doesn't matter.

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  6. I forgot to mention, I'm back on console for all the games here, so I'll be streaming again when I can. For those more interested in next year, I'll probably reach 1991 no earlier than January.

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  7. You may have mentioned this at some point in the past, as I haven't read through all your posts but I was curious when you started playing games?

    Of those listed I've only played Dragon Warrior II and Double Dungeons. Double Dungeons I hated, the mapped out dungeon crawling style never appealed to me at all. Dragon Warrior I/II were the first RPG's I ever played (shortly after they were first released) so they've got a special place in my heart due to that.

    With hindsight I'm not entirely certain if I loved them because they were genuinely great games, or whether they were merely good games that were enough to demonstrate to me the strengths of the genre. Before that I was all into sports and platformers, platformers I still enjoy... sports not so much.
    At the very least they did that extremely well, and it's hard not to feel nostalgic for the games that introduced me to the genre that hosts pretty much the entire list of best games I've ever played.

    With Déjà Vu a few posts ago and Dragon Warrior here you've covered two games that introduced me to genres I still care for.
    Déjà Vu-Adventure
    Dragon Warrior I/II- RPG
    Mario of course brought me platformers, and it would many years before Civilization 3 showed me turn based strategy.

    When you get into 1991 and later games I'll be able to comment on many of them, that's about the time I started devoting a ridiculous amount of time playing games. Kids have lots of free time :)
    I play so few games these days, little time, and when I do have time I always find myself prioritizing something else.

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    1. I'm not sure when I started playing them, but I've always watched someone play them at least. My father was really into computers and games, so we had early Ataris, Apple II e/c/II/gs, IBM compatibles, and so on. Growing up, my brother and I had an NES, a SNES, an N64, and a PlayStation. I had friends that had Genesis, SegaCD, Laser Disc, Sega Saturn, and Dreamcast. Once I had my own income, I was able to go out and purchase systems and games I remembered fondly (mostly consoles since trying to get old computers to play the old games was difficult).

      Back to the question though, I'm not sure what game I played first, but I would watch as my dad played through games like Ultima, Wizardry, and Bard's Tale. My earliest memories kind of all bleed together, but here's a few titles I remember: Super Mario Bros., Chivalry, Tink Tonk, Astro Grover, Zork, The Quest, Wilderness, Anhk, Aztec, Realm of Impossibility, Conquest, Global Conquest, Ultima, MULE, Adventure, etc. I'd guess most of my spare time when I was a kid was spent playing a game, or watching someone play.

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