Saturday, January 7, 2017

Rest Well 1992; Welcome 1993

Spending an entire year to play through the game year of 1992 isn't very encouraging for catching up to current releases. Given that, and the general configuration nightmare for capturing consoles in the 7th generation, I've decided to cap the blog at the 6th generation. I'm still unsure that we'll ever make it through the whole list, but I think this covers most of my youth and the games I know I missed. Who knows what the future holds, things may change once we get closer.

Quickly I just want to expand on the trouble for capturing games. First, the DS is a bit of a nightmare. I haven't been able to get a capture device for it, I seem to have missed that ship, so the final game I had on there, Sword of Hope 2, will be played on emulator I think. Second, the XBLA and WiiWare games (really there's only two), could all disappear by the time I reach that point in the blog. I haven't looked into the PSN for PS3 and PSP to see if those have exclusive titles as well, but the same goes for them. This eliminates a lot of headaches down the road.

Now on to the games (what you really came for). To recap, most of the games unknown to me prior to going in were largely a disappointment. Traysia was a travesty. Warriors of the Eternal Sun and Order of the Griffon were quaint yet shallow adventures. Wizardry II was much better than the first, and even though I didn't like Dragon Warrior IV as much as the third, it was a great game (if only for Taloon). Arcana, Soul Blazer, and Mystic Quest were all just as I remembered, incredibly fun. Might & Magic was surprising well made, and many of the issues I had in the second were not repeated in this later port. Overall, not a standout year in RPG gaming, but all the same it had its moments.
I feel like this is the year RPGs turn sharply up, at least during the last half of the year
Finally we reach 1993. The big news is the release of the 3DO. Hoping to make a splash, the console holds its own for many years, but never really finds the right market. I think the whole CD game thing is a fad and will never take off. Now, normally I take MobyGames for a solid source when it comes to release dates, and that's why I had the first RPG released for 3DO, Guardian War, as May of 1993, a solid five months before the console released. I only noticed while taking screenshots for the game, and saw 1994 copyrights everywhere. So, I've moved that game to early next year.

In other console news, the Jaguar was released, but we won't see an RPG for it (the only RPG for it) until 1996. The Amiga CD32 failed to release in the US that same year due to some licensing issues. The closest it got was Canada, which leaked a few into the states through the secondary market. The NES top-loader failed to breathe life into the console in the US as we see the last RPG released for it this year, and the last game released the following. Lastly, Laserdisc games became a thing; thankfully no RPGs accompanied it.



Original Titles
(Source: GameFAQs)
7th Saga - Produce's first RPG on the scene. Published by Enix of America, it's infamous for an attempted re-balance gone wrong. Considered too easy, someone decided to tweak the character's stat growth. Due to the insane difficulty this imposed on the late game, it wasn't very well received due to long necessary grinding. I had this as a kid, and since I never hated any RPGs I played, I loved it. The characters, seven to choose from, gave the game a lot of replayability. I know for sure I beat it with everyone except Kamil. Maybe I should do this run with him.

(Source: GameFAQs)
Great Greed - I honestly have never heard of this game, and confused it in my mind with Knight Quest. The story doesn't sound promising. It's an environmentally conscious game propping themes of conservation and waste reduction. Namco isn't really known for its RPGs, but we'll see if they had a one off success before moving back to arcade titles.

(Source: GameFAQs)
Lufia & The Fortress of Doom - Remember how I said I loved all games I played as a kid. Well, here's another. I played, and replayed this game so often that you'd think I actually owned it. I actually rented it for three weeks straight at one point. I'm sure I'll gush all over this giving it a shiny wax coating of nostalgia once we get there, but it comes at the very end of the year. So, we'll just have to wade through the rest of the games first.

(Source: MobyGames)
Lunar: Silver Star Story (Complete) - The hits keep coming. This one I debated over quite a bit; in the end, I decided that I'm going to play the PS1 version. I know that it's more of a remake than a true port, and will have much improved graphics. I just don't feel like covering it in the blog twice. I'm not sure there are enough differences. Much like I played the NES version of Quest of the Avatar, and didn't cover the SMS in much depth, I feel it's best to play the definitive version of a title across all consoles. As for using the release date of the SegaCD rather than the PS1, my only argument is that it'd be a glaring omission from 1993. Really the main reason is that I already own the PS1 version, and I don't want to wait to play it.

(Source: GameFAQs)
Shadowrun (SNES) - Shadowrun was the first PnP RPG I ever played. My dad owned a lot of D&D modules and books, but for whatever reason, he didn't try to play them with us. I'm not sure why we chose Shadowrun; maybe it was the cover art, but we decided to try to play it as a family. It was a lot of fun that first night. I don't remember playing it at all beyond that, but it definitely encouraged my interest in RPGs in general. As for this game, I played it once or twice, but never got very far. I'm not expecting anything amazing. For those wondering about the Genesis game, it was released in 1994 as far as I can tell.

(Source: MobyGames)
Shining Force - After hearing so many great things about this series, and never playing it myself, this is the game that I'm most excited to get to. I didn't have much access to RPGs on the Genesis, and never really thought that I might be missing games on systems I didn't own. I didn't even bother looking at sections in the rental store for consoles we didn't have at home. Had I seen this, I'm not sure I would have known I'd enjoy it as the only other tactical RPG out by this time was Warsong, also on the Genesis. It wouldn't be until Ogre Battle that I would be enraptured by strategy RPG cross overs. Eagerly anticipating this one while I play every game before it.

(Source: MobyGames)
Sorcerer's Kingdom - This one I'm leaving as a bit of a mystery for myself. I've heard mixed things, and I believe it's a rather obscure title. As long as it doesn't turn out like Traysia, I think we'll be fine. Developed and published by the same company as Langrisser/Warsong gives me a bit of hope, but I'm doing my best not to over sell it to myself.








Ports
(Source: GameFAQs)
Dungeon Master - I never really took to the real-time blobber RPGs. The only one I remember enjoying in a somewhat limited playtime was Eye of the Beholder (next year). Dungeon Master kicked off the sub-genre with a bit of technical wizardry originally for the Atari ST. I'm not sure which version the SNES port is derived from, but I think they're mostly all the same. I'm not sure FTL (original developers) had a hand in this other than providing the license. I just hope it wasn't translated into Japanese and back into English like Drakkhen.

(Source: GameFAQs)
Hillsfar - Widely panned as the worst NES RPG (some say worst NES game), and with an RPG label that's somewhat questionable, I'll dive into this title with gusto. I have played the PC version, and remember being disappointed by the game then, so I'm not expecting anything worthwhile here. Depending on how short it is, and monotonous, I may play through multiple characters to get a feel for each class.

(Source: MobyGames)
Inindo: Way of the Ninja - KOEI once again makes their mark on the RPG genre, this time with a bit less simulation. Originally released on multiple Japanese exclusive computer systems, this game found it's way on to the Super Famicom, and somehow made it stateside. Taking on the role of a ninja attempting to stop the onslaught of Oda Nobunaga sounds like a fun idea. Let's see where it takes us.

(Source: GameFAQs)
Might & Magic 3: Isles of Terra - My experience with Might & Magic from my childhood started and ended with the first game, and then really only as far as an eight year old might get (mostly character creation--maybe that's why I like creating characters so much... I digress). I'm looking forward to seeing what this game has to offer. I'm expecting another 40 hours of investment to get my bearings before a 10 - 20 hour sprint to the end. Forget the number of games, it's long hours like this that will really stretch the blog out. In much the same way as Lunar, I'm using the TG-CD date, but playing the SNES release.

(Source: GameFAQs)
Ultima (V): Warriors of Destiny - The Ultima games continue to dominate on console. Not really, but maybe there was enough success with Quest of the Avatar to release this one. Maybe there was some legal obligation with the licensing to localize it for the US market. A better question to answer though is why would they continue to change the engine for the game. Pony Canyon may have considered using the same engine to release both this and the sixth game, but the next installment was pushed back to the SNES. It's all conjecture on my part, but I can't imagine what drove them to continue on with these releases right up until the seventh title. Were they really selling that well?






Sequels
(Source: GameFAQs)
Dungeon Master: Theron's Quest - I wasn't sure how to consider this game, and finally decided to call it a sequel to Dungeon Master. I've read that it's more like a remastered version, taking dungeons and puzzles from the first two PC titles in the series. It follows the story of Theron as he journeys through 7 dungeons in search of treasure. It'll be interesting to play this shortly after the original on SNES. I wonder if I could actually reuse my maps.

(Source: GameFAQs)
Exile: Wicked Phenomenon - The final adventure of Sadler. I'm expecting another rather short title. This time the entire party participates in combat sections, and somehow Rumi is back. As I mentioned before, I'm curious to see if they even bother explaining her reappearance. One notable thing about this title is that I've heard the difficulty is very high. Something about the English localization made the game nearly impossible to complete. Sounds like a challenge.

(Source: GameFAQs)
Final Fantasy Legend III - SaGa continues! FFL2 improved on the first, and I'm excited to see what comes of this third installment. I've heard a lot changes, and most of those changes fall flat. I wonder if I should go into this with the mindset of a standalone game, and take it for what it is without the weight of past titles to judge against it. Maybe that should be true of every game.

(Source: GameFAQs)
Gauntlet IV - The odd duck out, I wasn't even going to consider this for inclusion until I took a closer look at it. It's going to sound funny, but I think this somehow qualifies under my scale. Obviously something's broken and I should re-evaluate how I evaluate games. Really though, the character has improvements, there's a store for buying and selling, and there's a persistent world to explore. It should also be a rather short game to break up two longer titles.

I don't recall where I got this from
Ninja Boy 2 - After slogging through the first game, I'm looking forward to these titles less than I was when I started the blog. A Game Boy version with a different story, but the same kung fu action, we get to see the twins leap back into action. I don't expect much to have changed, and I'm sure I won't be disappointed. We can only go up from here, right?

(Source: ManaWikia)
Secret of Mana - A masterpiece. Well, maybe that's going a bit too far, especially with Lufia and Lunar in the same year. Still, this stands well above the masses. As a sequel to Final Fantasy Adventure, it's amazing to see the ideas of that game expanded in a 16-bit title. I played this as a kid, and... well, you know. At some point, I had to sell my copy of the game, and will be playing it on the WiiVC. At least I don't have to worry about the battery save for this one.

(Source: GameFAQs)
Super Ninja Boy - Was this really necessary? Releasing two different games in the same series at the same time seems like a strange decision. I'm not completely convinced that all three games are different, but after playing the first I gave a quick glance at the plots and they seem different enough. I'm just expecting the game to not actually play any different, but with 16-bits maybe they developers were inspired. A 3 hour estimate on howlongtobeat.com had me hopeful, but I think that's either someone who played the game before or a speedrun.




Expected Cuts
ActRaiser 2 - Take an already cut game and gut the only aspect, fans might say the soul, of the first game that might have qualified it in my list, and we're left with an exceptionally difficult action platformer that offers great variety of locations and control. The moveset of player character rivals some fighting games. As a standalone title, it could have done very well. As a sequel, it was ignored by those who didn't like the first game, and shunned by those that loved it.

(Source: GameFAQs)
Dungeon Explorer II - Fool me once, shame on you. You're not going to fool me again! Seriously though, this is more of the same. I don't see any changes from the Gauntlet inspired game that would cause me to reverse this decision. It might be a fun game to check out, but it's definitely not an RPG. Pay no attention to the fact I'm going to play and blog about a Gauntlet game.

(Source: MobyGames)
E. V. O.: Search for Eden - An interesting game. Even with the leveling up mechanic, the evolution and character model changes, this just isn't an RPG as I see it. I'm not sure what I would consider missing from it as a store, equipment, and items don't really fit it. It's a fun action game. Let's just leave it at that for now.

(Source: MobyGames)
LandStalker - More RPG than the game above, it's a real borderline case where I just couldn't bring myself to include it for a full posting. The game plays much like you would imagine an isometric action-adventure game. Judging jump depth is probably the most difficult part, aside from navigation puzzles and generally trying to figure out what the game wants you to figure out. I think I'll play it in my spare time, and give it a rather full length cut.

(Source: MobyGames)
Technoclash - No... Just, no.










Looking over the list, I have to say it's going to be an impressive year. We're finally getting into the boom of 16-bit gaming, and there aren't any of the games this year that I'm not at least curious about. In fact, I'm really looking forward to playing most of them. I've already started Ultima, and so far, it's not really as bad as I'd heard. Maybe that's just my lowered expectations talking.

12 comments:

  1. So many great (as far as I can remember) games coming up!

    In particular looking forward to seeing your opinions of Shining Force, FFL3, Secret of Mana, Shadowrun and Lufia. (I only played the first three of these, but heard the other two are supposed to be good).

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    1. Just need to get through the first half of the year. :)

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  2. Lufia 2 (released simply as "Lufia" in EU since we never got the first game) was one of my first RPGs and is my favourite to this day (go figure). I only got to play the original one many years later and liked it a lot as well. Other games in this list are also important parts of my childhood (SoM first and foremost, but also 7th Saga, FFL and Shining Force and the rest of the Shining series). I remember renting Shadowrun for SNES at some point, intrigued by the box art or something, and being hopelessly lost. I might as well have given up during character creation, or reading the manual, haha (I was maybe 7 or 8 at the time...).
    All in all, I'm looking forward to your coverage of pretty much all of them. Have fun, and may the RNG be always in your favor.

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    Replies
    1. Lufia 2 is definitely one of those down the road games I'm highly anticipating. I've only played through maybe the first quarter of it.

      There's no character creation in the SNES version of Shadowrun, but the beginning is rather harsh as it dumps you in the game with hardly a clue about where to go or what to do.

      Thanks for the luck, I'll probably need it for a couple titles.

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  3. As a kid I longed to escape the 8-bit limitations of my NES, but somehow could not convince my parents to give me $699 for a 3DO, plus an additional $69 (I think) for each game. I'd love to know how the executives justified such an astronomical price.

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    1. I've read that most consoles sold at a loss, to be made up later through first-party games and merchandise. I don't think the 3DO manufacturers had the same business plan, and wanted to make their profit on the system itself.

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  4. There are actually quite a few differences between the Linar versions. Storywaise and gameplay wise. Some stuff is better on PS some better on Sega CD. The music is generally better on Sega CD with red book audio. Also random encounters vs seeing monsters on screen and different battle commands. I'd play the Sega CD version. But if you want maybe just play the one you haven't played before. (A lot of people think the Sega CD had a better story while PS changes are. It for the better, but PS has more and better dialog.)

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    1. Well, I've only played through the PS version. I'll still consider the Sega CD version an option, but I'm not sure I'll be able to pick one up in time.

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    2. Lunar (PSX) was like a lengthier retelling than a remastered version. There are some huge story and gameplay differences and both are worth covering. It was redone for the GBA and PSP as well, but never as drastically as the Sega Cd to PSX.

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  5. Recently found your blog when looking for a good reference to post to someone about what Magician for the NES was was like, and I quite enjoyed the read through!

    Wanted to say that this is a cool blog you have going, and I'm highly impressed by both the longevity of it, and the amount of research and precision that goes into collecting games and rating them. I hope you are able to keep going!

    Had to comment on this specific post, because Shining Force was a game that I (literally) dreamed about for years after playing it once at a friend's house who had a Genesis. Years and years later, I finally found someone that knew what I was rambling about and could tell me the name of the game. I immediately got ahold of it and enjoyed the hell out of it! It has a depth of positional battle tactics that is not often seen in RPGs.

    I'm curious if you've ever heard of/played:
    Legacy of the Ancients (1987 Commodore 64)

    This one blurs the line of "console", but I extremely highly recommend you check it out! The DOS port was ugly as sin, but the original was one of the most technically impressive and rich RPG experiences of the era, including much of the early traditional consoles.

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    Replies
    1. Magician is one of my favorite NES games. It's one of the reasons I'm never going to give the system up.

      Thanks for the kind words, I'm also looking forward to Shining Force. Shouldn't be too much longer before I get around to it.

      I haven't played Legacy of the Ancients. I consider the C64 a computer rather than a console. You should definitely check out the coverage Chet gives it on his blog: http://crpgaddict.blogspot.com/2010/12/game-36-legacy-of-ancients-1987.html

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    2. Thanks for the reply! I figured I'd mention it since most c64 games were played with a joystick and not the keyboard, so it could be considered a console or hybrid.

      I'll check out his coverage, thanks!

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