Monday, April 28, 2014

Departing 1990, Embarking upon 1991!

Another year of gaming passes by on this blog, and while it's taken more than a year in real-time to get here, I have high hopes things will eventually even out. I'm ready for those dreams to come crashing down we enter a year with more games than all previous years combined.

First, let's look back at the year of games we've passed. All-in-all it was a seminal year. Final Fantasy was surprisingly fun, less grindy than I remembered. Phantasy Star II on the other hand was the biggest let down of a sequel, and the largest single grind (discounting Wizardry due to perma-death). Standing just over Wizardry in my list of games I'd rather not play again, I can only hope both series rebound soon.
1990 RPG of the Year! (Source: Time Warp Gamer)
In case you hadn't noticed (and honestly why would anyone), I updated my main list with a couple new tabs. Game Rankings is a list of previously played games in the order I enjoyed them most and with some weight for replay value (given infinite time). Also, I added a Cuts tab to keep track of games I've cut since Google changed the way hidden rows work. Used to be drag-highlighting would capture them when copied. I think it makes the list cleaner while preserving the full list of considered titles.

Back to the games; I think most surprising was Super Hydlide. Little Ninja Brothers was a bit disappointing, but I chose to make that harder on myself (will not make that mistake in the sequels). Shattering my childhood memories, I can't express how underwhelming Dungeon Magic turned out. Unsurprising to most I'm sure, Ultima: Quest of the Avatar takes the prize for best 1990 game by a wide margin. A lot of replay value there, and so much room for optimization. Overall a solid year. We'll see how the games stand the test of time as we explore 1991.

Welcome to 1991, all the games I'll play in chronological order (includes approximate release of new systems)
I meant to have more than just game postings on the site to add some history. That was before I realized how much time it takes to write up posts. So, I've decided to take the time now, during these game year posts, to expound on a few ideas. This year is especially significant as it's the first year we really see the first surge of console RPGs. Currently I'm on track to play through 26 games, which is more than I've played during the life of this blog. I really hope it doesn't take another 3 years.

In 1991 the US saw the release of two new consoles. The Game Gear was released to compete with the Game Boy, but late to market once again Sega couldn't compete with the install base. Even with technical superiority, color display, and wider grip, the system never found a foothold in the US. It did however feature a handful of RPGs (all first party), one of which was released the same year. The SNES was also released the same year, and was big news. I recall my parents bought the console during the first week as a bribe for my brother to do better in school. He did, we got the system, and then he reverted to his old ways. That's another story though. The first year for the SNES offered a good selection of RPGs, and one specific title that blew away all others.

Enough small talk; on to the games! I'm hoping to avoid situations like Ultima IV's initial lack of noting the SMS port by addressing nuances of the games here. Apologies in advanced for the weird spacing. Blogger is very temperamental about where it wants to place images next to text.

Original Titles
(Source: GameFAQs)
Crystal Warriors - Here we have our first (or second) Game Gear title. Developed and published by Sega, it seems they were trying their hand at a Fire Emblem clone. Watch for precursors of the Shining Force series. This title was released on Nintendo's 3DS store, so that's where I'll be playing it once I get a 3DS capture capable system. For those interested, I'm going to order it from the website here: (no affiliation).

(Source: GameFAQs)
 Dragon Crystal - Our second (or first) Game Gear title comes quickly on the heels of the last. Dragon Crystal is a spiritual sequel to Fatal Labyrinth. This title is available on the 3DS, and it gives me a good excuse to purchase one. It's a simple graphical rogue-like. That means I could beat it in a couple of hours with extreme luck, or days with very poor luck.

(Source: MobyGames)
Fatal Labyrinth - So, how does a title released after the initial release of Dragon Crystal become the first game? Through the magic of the Internet. Sega Meganet was an online service for the Mega Drive (Japan/Brazil exclusive). This game is a remake of a game on that system. This and Dragon Crystal are the first rogue-likes for the blog. I'll be playing this on Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection.

(Source: GameFAQs)

Faria: A World of Mystery & Danger - From the future developers of Lunar and Grandia, Game Arts presents an action-RPG similar to The Magic of Scheherazade or Crystalis. This is a title I've heard very little about, and its rarity has made it a bit hard to come by. Also, it seems the year may be wrong; the copyright in the game and manual say 1990, but most sites claim a date of June 1991, so I've stuck with that. Just note, this may be in the wrong year.
(Source: Game Boy Database)

Final Fantasy Adventure - Not a sequel because this is actually the start of the Seiken Densetsu series. Even though it piggy-backs off the Final Fantasy name, it sets itself apart as an action-RPG. It's known as Mystic Quest in Europe, not to be confused with Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest for the SNES in the US (aka Mystic Quest Legend in Europe).
(Source: Retronomizer)

Magician - Another forgotten gem from my youth, at least in my eyes. This was a fun game where you take on the role of an apprentice wizard just starting out. First quest? Destroy the evil sorcerer endangering the land. Don't worry, all apprentice wizards do this and mostly come out alright.
(Source: MobyGames)

Rings of Power - Naughty Dog strikes again, this time they're doing it on a console. Rumor has it that after a meeting with EA to discuss their next game after Keef, they saw the console for the first time and were completely enamored. The rest, as they say, is history. Yes, I know about the hidden intro screen.

(Source: GameFAQs)
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves - A licensed title for the film, I take on the role of Kevin Costner as he stars and acts while on set... no wait, I'm just playing a "Robin Hood"-like character detailed as an 8-bit sprite. The game seems to follow the general plot, although some points of the story were changed to make it more violent. I'll be playing the NES version over the Game Boy for what I hope are obvious reasons.
(Source: MobyGames)

Shining in the Darkness - I'm fairly sure this was my first experience with a 16-bit RPG. I remember having a sitter, and they brought over a Genesis. I remember an RPG and an ice hockey game. I don't clearly remember the names; however, I can't figure any other game that fits the time frame. Maybe a scene from this will jog my memory. Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection once again proves a great value.
(Source: MobyGames)

Sword of Hope - This is the first time we see a blend of RPG and adventure genres; control of the character is through an ever present menu of directional arrows, look and use commands, and simple turn based combat with experience and levels.

(Source: MobyGames)
Sword of Vermilion - This was truly the era of experimentation. The view changes radically from top-down towns and battles, to first-person exploration, and finally to side-scrolling boss battles. I'll pick up the WiiVC version, as I found some reports that the port to the PS2 compilation has sounds issues.

(Source: MobyGames)
Uncharted Waters - A series that walks a fine line between role-playing and simulation. The genres already blur close enough that I often wonder where the divide lies. My plan is to play the SNES version of the game, but I'll take some time to check it out on the NES (and Genesis) in my final rating.

(Source: MobyGames)

Warsong - Also known as Langrisser, this title seems to be Sega's first answer to Fire Emblem (followed by Crystal Warriors and Shining Force). Like Fire Emblem, character units die permanently. I don't have much knowledge beyond this, except the battles look slow with the number of troops available in each one. I've been a bit jealous that Shen Nung over at Inconsolable has been able to enjoy Fire Emblem on the NES. It's truly unfortunate that series didn't make it over to the US until much later. Next to RPGs and puzzles, the strategy genre didn't really hit me until I got my hands on games such as Ogre Battle and Vandal Hearts. I'm looking forward to this and all other games like it.

(Source: Games Database)
Dragon Warrior III - Who would imagine we're four years into console games in the US, and already have two series on their third games. I'm going to play this on the original NES because, well, the GBC resolution sucks. The SNES version wasn't officially translated, and my preference is always a console over a handheld.

(Source: Yesteryear Gaming)
Final Fantasy II - I feel reminding everyone that this is actually Final Fantasy IV is like beating that proverbial dead horse, but I suppose it should be said (done). I plan to play the SNES version over the PSX one because well, that's the only remake I don't own. Actually, I recently sold the cart for this to pay for some other upcoming games, and bought the digital version for the WiiVC. It's also been remade for the GBA, and a couple of Japan exclusive releases.

(Source: GameFAQs)
Final Fantasy Legend II - The SaGa series continues with the second installment. Although I played the first extensively, I never got into the others, so this will be a treat. I hope they've done some balancing to the classes to make the monsters a little more useful. As far as I know, the Game Boy version is the only one.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom - Have I mentioned how much I enjoy a compilation like Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection? I really hope this entry addresses much of my complaints, but from what I hear this may very well be the worst of the series. At least I can look forward to the the fourth installment. The idea of playing through heirs is intriguing enough that I've been meaning to play this; although, I couldn't bring myself to playing through without playing the series in order. I'm sure others can relate that feeling.

(Source: Encyclopedia Gamia)
Bard's Tale - This year takes us quickly from single to double digit ports on console to date. I suspect I'll enjoy Bard's Tale as much as Wizardry, but I wouldn't mind the game changing my mind. NES is the only version available, and the only Bard's Tale to reach a console. Oh yeah, definitely building up those expectations.

(Source: MobyGames)
Buck Rogers: Countdown to Doomsday - I've heard this is one of the better ports of a PC game. The Genesis only received this first installment from the series, which is unfortunate since it seems like a well-made game. I'm interested in seeing how it compares to Chet's recent take on the PC version. I skipped reading those articles to avoid potential spoilers. I have to skip a lot of his articles.

(Source: MobyGames)
Cadash - It's strange to have this game on here. Stranger still, I plan on playing the Arcade version instead of the TubroGrafx version because, well, I didn't have the console at the time I made the purchase I did. I could have gone with the Genesis version, but from what I've read it's inferior in every way. As it happens, the arcade version was released on Taito Legends 2 for the Xbox. Now, while it was released only outside the US, the Xbox isn't region locked, so I'll be enjoying my copy through a long convoluted chain of events. I'll check out the others versions as well, but the main differences I've heard about are a timer (to eat quarters in the arcade version) and limited character selection on Genesis. It's also been said the difficulty was reduced on the console ports. I imagine it's a short game, so three times through shouldn't take long.
(Source: Retro Game Cases
Rotated with LunaPic)
[No affiliation with either]
Drakkhen - Ported twice over (once to DOS, and then to console), we review the SNES version of this hidden gem. Yes, rough; true, buggy; realistically, not so good; a gem nonetheless. At least there are gems in the game, and it did manage to spawn a console only sequel. Maybe it did better than it was remembered.

(Source: GameFAQs)
Faery Tale Adventure - Chet couldn't stand the game, so I must surely beat it to redeem him and prove to everyone open plains and wooded glens really are bleak and desolate. I'm not sure of differences between PC and console, so I hope readers are able to fill in the gaps. Genesis ports of RPGs have yet to fail me. Chet will eventually enjoy the sequel, which sadly failed to reach the console market.

(Source: MobyGames)
Heroes of the Lance - I'm not sure if it's eager fear, or dreaded anticipation, but I'm glad I get to tackle this as the first game of 1991. The NES version promises a blast from the past, as I recall renting this and becoming absolutely lost. No manual to assist me, I'm fairly certain I didn't get more than a few screens in. According to this is a short game (less than 5 hours), and I may complete it in a single sitting. This may be the first uncut game to get a single posting, although two with a rating.

(Source: MobyGames)
Lagoon - More childhood nostalgia waxed over this game so often that it shined as a hidden gem on the SNES. Ignore the naysayers, pure enjoyment was had when I rented it. I can't remember why I liked it so much. Maybe it was the jumping animation. This was a port not from a US PC, but a Japanese computer.

(Source: MobyGames)
Might & Magic: Gates to Another World - Ah, the sequel to Might & Magic. I... I remember it the first like it was next year ... wait a minute. Is this right? How does Might & Magic II come out on Genesis a year before Might & Magic 1 comes out on NES? I feel sorry for anyone playing through console RPGs chronologically that also have a nagging inkling to play series in the proper order; this will bug you constantly, but I will have to live with it. I only hope there are no large spoilers.

(Source: MobyGames)
Starflight - If it's good enough for Chet, then it's good enough for me. Of course, I failed to use that argument with Pirates! below, so I'll go on to say there are crew members and they have stats. Those stats tend to increase (I'm not sure how yet), and there's a huge open world (many worlds) to explore. There seems more RPG material than I would have suspected when I first heard of the game. Once again, the sequel failed to appear on console. Wish me luck.

Quick! Without scrolling up, how many box covers above contained a dragon? It's probably more than you remember.

Expected Cuts
ActRaiser - Waves of nostalgia fill me when I think of this game. I think I'll play through it at the time I cut it, but it's really not an RPG. A brilliant blend of simulation and action is undeniable.

Battlemaster - I nearly let this one slip by. SeedyGamer suggestions rarely make the cut, so I felt sorry for the game; however, there's nothing redeeming about it. It's a purely action game with an inventory.

King's Bounty - The game that spawned a series. Heroes of Might and Magic is a great series I hear, but they aren't featured on the blog either (unless I miscalculated future cuts).

Mysterium - This is a game, I think. I actually played through it after I determined it would fall very short on my scale. It has no character levels, equipment based combat, and level-by-level puzzle design. I honestly can't recommend it to anyone, anywhere. Of course, that means I'm going to do a speedrun for it soon.

Neutopia II - The sequel does little to add features. Instead it polishes (ever so slightly) what it accomplished. I actually did a blind race (racing a game never played before) of the first, and I think I'll do the same for the second. It's at least enjoyable enough for that.

Pirates! - I don't have the same love Chet does for this game. Potentially due to the differences of the port, but I'm just not connected. While Chet chose to include this edge case, I'm going to have to cut it. Don't worry, we get to be pirates in Uncharted Waters (and its sequel coming later [New Horizons]).

Rolan's Curse - I haven't played it, but from what I can tell it's about as basic a Zelda clone as one can get. Another potential candidate for playing through quickly to get a feel for the game. It also spawned a sequel we'll get to another year.

Times of Lore - As much as I'd love to include the game, I just can't manage to convince myself it's worth it. I may do a longer than normal cut write-up, but this isn't deserving of more than one post on this blog no matter how much I played it.

Tombs & Treasure - It's fitting this is last. As far as edge cases go, this is teetering in limbo, and I really want to push it off one way or another quickly. I don't own it, so if I were to play it I'd need to pick it up quickly (or play it online like at [no affiliation]). There's some talk of experience points for the characters and levels to gain, but I don't see evidence of that. I'd like to know anyone's thoughts on this and the other games expected to get cut. Later Edit: I've decided to include this game.

This surge of titles doesn't last long, but is fairly well sustained for the next five years. I have nothing but speculation as to why. The addition of disc-based systems may have increased the expectation for larger games, which took longer to produce, included more risk, and generated more false starts. Nearing the end of the 16-bit era, 1996-7 saw the steepest decline, and may have meant the end for such titles if not for the release of and subsequent fervor surrounding Final Fantasy 7 (as well as Pokémon the following year). I'm not sure how much credit we can really give to FF VII for saving the genre, but two years after it's release the number of titles to consider each year jumps from 20 - 30 to a steady 40 - 50 (actually rising to 70 some years). That's come down recently, but is still stronger than the mid-90s.

It could also have been growing pains. So many disc based systems failed to gain a market share during this time that it may have scared people off from committing to a mutli-year project until one took the lead. Development costs increased during this time from what I hear. Of course, once the PlayStation came out on top, it was soon flooded with plenty of RPGs. This trend followed Sony into the PS2 era.

Well it's quickly getting to that time in the blog. Prices for carts, discs, and manuals I can't find online are on the rise. So, in order to keep up with that I need to lighten my load a bit. It's not much currently, but I'm selling off a good portion of the games I've played so far. Crystalis is the only game I've sold so far. Here's the full list of games I'm planning to put up:
  • Destiny of an Emperor
  • Dragon Warrior
  • Dragon Warrior II [no battery save]
  • Dungeon Magic: Sword of the Elements
  • Faxanadu
  • Final Fantasy
  • Final Fantasy Legend
  • Little Ninja Brothers
  • Magic of Scheherazade
  • Super Hydlide
  • Swords and Serpents
  • Ultima: Exodus
  • Ultima: Quest of the Avatar
  • Willow
  • Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord
I haven't listed them on ebay yet, but that's where they'll go eventually. I tend to list everything with reasonable shipping and start all auctions at 99 cents. Before I get to that though, I'd like to give back a bit to you, the readers. If you're interested in getting one of the games above, email me and I'll include your name in a random drawing during the first stream of Heroes of the Lance (May 12th). I'll pull a name (or number corresponding to a name), and you'll select a game (I'll email the winner, and announce it if they're okay with that). Depending on how this goes I hope to do it again, at the end of every gaming year. Edit: no one showed interest, but I'm not sure why. I may try again next year.

And with that, we're off to another exciting year of RPGs.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Game 23: Double Dungeons (TG-16) - Final Rating

Double Dungeons is a very competent, basic, dungeon crawler. There's no fluff, no filler, nothing more to it. The simplicity of the design is really where most of the points come from (and where they're lost). I'm glad we start with combat because I suspect this is where the highest rating will fall.

Combat is balanced, and not an easy task. I wish there were more options than holding button I (TurboGrafx has a built in turbo button feature, which saves me from mashing all the time). Whether or not a battle falls in my favor is heavily dependent on hidden stats, but I don't know how much equipment factors into that. The enemies become more detailed and varied the further you get, with each dungeon providing at least one new sight. Lastly, the rewards from later combat aren't well balanced, and more often than not aren't worth the long battles. Stick with the quick grinding.
Rating: 4
Later dungeons have a lot of different enemy types like this phoenix
If I hadn't played a 2-player game, then I wouldn't even had known there was a character sprite (two in fact). But, this category isn't all about how the characters look. It's about how much control I have over the development of the characters. Can I control how quickly they grow in strength? Can I change their appearance? Can I choose different skill sets or paths of advancement? In a nutshell, how much control do I have over the character I'm supposed to control? In a game as simple as this, I can really only give points to the silky smooth movement and the fact I drive the choice of which monsters to take on.
Rating: 3
Hey, you look like me, except greener
There's really nothing beyond combat. The quest is simply the same for each dungeon (find the key and beat the boss). About the only puzzling part is writing down the clues for the final dungeon and piecing them together. No puzzles, no side quests, nothing but the grind.
Rating: 1
Every time I need to replay dungeon 22 I'm forced to enter the password
Congratulations Double Dungeons, you've earned the first '0' in any category. This story is a mess of disjointed incoherent ramblings the majority of the time. We learn of a Vandess character causing all the trouble and go off to kill him. Without the manual I can't say this is explained any better, but I can't imagine any redeeming value. No NPC dialogue, no descriptions, just endless dungeons of twisty passages that all look the same.
The intro to dungeon 22... why is "Vandess" in quotes?
There are a good number of items in later stages, and many of their names elicit some intrigue (such as the devil blade and armor). However, this means very little as the interface is quite limited. There are only six item slots, one weapon slot, and one armor. Just bought that giant scythe and picked up a short sword from a chest? Well, say hello to your new short sword. Same goes for forgetting to sell a weapon or armor before replacing it in the store. Gauging the relative strength of equipment is fairly easy based sell price, although some later equipment sells for zero. The usefulness of gold goes up and down, but it's enough of a struggle that it doesn't ever become completely useless until the end of each dungeon as I tried to assail the boss. Dying causes all gold to drop, and there's no bank to save it.
Rating: 3

I expect most dungeon crawlers to fall short on exploration. Double Dungeons compounds this by showing no variety in dungeon textures or color. The environment falls a bit flat with only a single tune for dungeons. one for shops, and one for the boss. The epilog music is the best (which is looped at the end screen). There's little to discover that gave me any kind of 'wow' feeling. There's just not much here.
Rating: 2

Final Rating: 13 [22%]

Overall this is a basic no frills dungeon crawler. The best thing I can say is all the dungeons are short. Even the later dungeons wouldn't run more than an hour. If they do, there's a save function (a password function) that allows you to continue your progress later. It's a bit of flat note to leave the year on, but now we get to move on from dull to seething rage as I try to get through Heroes of the Lance on NES. Well, rage may be too harsh, but I'm sure I'll encounter my fair bit of frustration.

Before we get there I need to get a few things in order. There's a speedrunning marathon coming up on the 10th of May. I need to focus on practicing my game as much as possible until then. I'm going to be playing Mysterium for the Game Boy (a game I'm cutting from the blog).

I'll get a post out about the next year of games and I should be able to squeeze out a cut post for Rolan's Curse over the next two weeks. I'll start Heroes of the Lance on the 12th, blog post to follow naturally.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Game 23: Double Dungeons (TG-16) - Finished!

I did not expect to finish this until the weekend, but here we are with another ending screen. Even more surprising, only one dungeon clocked in at a base time over 20 minutes. It's really interesting just how quickly the later levels fall thanks to the glitch plus the magic items. I had a feeling they would, but seeing it in action was very satisfying.
For emphasis!!
Let's start by getting the individual dungeons out of the way. Then I'll go over my plans for optimizing them.

Dungeon 15 - Current Best: 11:00
This dungeon is very easy to get through. I build up some quick funds by selling an early refresh, and purchase a spear and leather armor. With it I arrive early at an invisible man. This particular invisible man is different from all others. For whatever reason he's worth 100 exp and 240 gold.
Man or woman?
While I wait for the one I can reach early to respawn, I take out some death crows and other close by easy pickings. The best store only carries the mediocre broad sword and stone armor. I grind to about level 14 before heading off to the boss. On the way to the key I stop by the store to purchase some refreshes, which I need 2 or 3 to survive the boss.
This is a new enemy that takes way too long to defeat... perfect time for the glitch
Dungeon 16 - Current Best: 16:00
This level is a trip. Seriously, someone got really creative with the enemies on this level. Also, when uploading pictures, Google had just as much fun and thought a gif was the perfect way to present this level.
Yes, that says 'werowolf' and 'wilohwisp', crazy huh... don't mind the animated furniture
I glitch through 6 enemies forward and back to grab 2k gold from a chest and purchase the strong sword and silwer (sic) armor. By the time I reach the key and the boss I'm at a level enough not to need a refresh. It takes some time to get through the monsters, but I believe it's faster than grinding normally. Might be worth it to time it out.
No, they never do
Dungeon 17 - Current Best: 14:20
Another level where they only offer a broad sword and stone armor; I muscled my way through a shaman at level 6 to get to an invisible man, 3 king spiders, and 3 hornets. All easy pickings and good experience by that level. I can add in an imp at level 10 (or 9 if I'm feeling lucky). At level 14 I head for the boss, and arrive at level 16 with 2 refreshes (I usually only need 1).
How does an iron golem dodge? Why doesn't Google recognize the word 'golem'?
Dungeon 18 - Current Best: 17:35
This level takes so long because I haven't found a good place to grind. There's one area with seven king spiders, and another with three iron heads. The latter gives better gold overall, but the spiders level me up quicker. Again I glitch to get some quick money, and skip most of the troublesome enemies on the way to the boss.
Some enemies are actually stronger versions that give no exp or gold
Dungeon 19 - Current Best: 13:45
The beginning of the ultra large dungeons; it's pretty amazing just how big these get. Luckily there's a death thunder item just waiting for me. I've discovered that there are actually two different items called death thunder. The one in this dungeon does 80 damage per use, and the one I buy from the store for 6k gold does 20. That'll become relevant in dungeon 21. With death thunder I shatter all in my way to the key and through the boss.
I just had to post this without updates; look at the sheer size (Source: GameFAQs)
Dungeon 20 - Current Best: 11:00
Equally quick, but the item is much closer. The crystal orb does 100 damage on its own. It's amazing that they have items like these just laying about. Almost like they knew these dungeons would become a bit too much of a slog.
Oh, more than 100 HP? I'll just use it again
Dungeon 21 - Current Best: 23:17
Here it is, the longest dungeon in the game. No more items to carry me through. I still think this could come down below 20 minutes as I spent a bit of time figuring out the death thunder item I can buy from the store only does 20 damage. There's a 10k gold pot I find early on to purchase a 9k weapon. I then pick up some good armor (bloody armor to start, and elfen (sic) later). I'm debating the need for the dragon slayer sword, which is a bit out of the way. It seems on average to do more damage, but I just haven't timed the difference.
Some of the enemy sprites are really nice
Dungeon 22 - Current Best: 19:22
The final dungeon becomes a big joke as I glitch through the first dragon guardian, pick up the death thunder, and tear through the rest of the level. The layout is in concentric squares with each layer guarded by a new type of dragon. I hardly bother to even level up, and instead sell an early refresh to purchase a spear and leather armor in order to survive those enemies that take more than one use of DT. The time can go much lower; in this attempt I messed up a number of times by exiting the boss room (simply pressing back does that) while trying to select the crystal orb. Yes, this level has both.
What? No princess?
With a basic plan in place I now have something to measure my efforts against. I'll make more attempts with this same plan, and then adjust here and there trying different methods for leveling to see what's quickest. For some of the longer dungeons I'll time out leveling at different areas.

Taking dungeon 18 for example, it might be that king spiders are the way to go for much longer than I stayed there. I won't know for sure until I have each area at a level of optimization that makes them comparable. As it is, I can't really compare many of my strategies since I don't know how fast they are potentially and on average.
I'm not sure what a gustoner is, but it sure is ugly
Dungeon 21 is going to take some planning. It's definitely the longest, and I suspect it'll remain that way. Only a few basic tests are necessary for this though. I'm fairly certain the 10k gold is necessary, but maybe going straight for the dragon slayer is quicker (probably not since I'll need to glitch through so many enemies). It's possible I could get by without the bloody armor and go straight to elfen. It's all going to take testing over a few trials to determine how the different paths compare.
The final boss is actually one of the least dangerous
I have no idea what time I'll be happy with in the end, but I hope to get them all to a level clean enough (hitting the glitches quickly) that everyone who's played the game (and some that haven't) will find them interesting. I don't think I'll bother doing all dungeons in one session. Seems it'd take over 4 hours to do that, and I really don't have the time to sit for that long with all these great RPGs waiting for me. Speaking of which, let's get on to the next great game. What do we have next? Oh, my... let's see how long I can delay that. Final rating, yearly transition post, and a cut game... sounds good, let's do that.

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