Sunday, November 17, 2013

Game 21: Little Ninja Brothers (NES) - Taking No Prisoners, Sparing No Lives

This is a pretty good summary of the game
My plan may come to halt once I near the end, but the game is a bit more manageable now that I've skipped nearly every boss. Every time I find one I leave town and head off in another direction. It's done wonders for my survivability.
You don't sound brainwashed at all
I arrived in the town of Yokan to find everyone praising Blu Boltar as some sort of savior. Of course, once I heard he was in town I knew my next step: leave. Actually, I did try my hand at reaching him once, but failed miserably. It's obvious something fishy was going on around there, and confirmed this when I found some resistance to the Yoma Clan underground.
That's more than I've seen them do so far
In their midst were two celestial beings (a dog and a monkey), but they were just uselessly bickering. Why? They forgot why. "So what's it going to take to make them to stop," I wonder. Oh, Jack just said, "stop," and they did. With their help I learned how to use the 'M' bonus I was collecting. The bonus appears randomly from blocks, and once I have six I can now use a special Mighty Ball attack.
And, all it does is turn the enemy blue
I also received a new sword after participating in a running goal, which I again passed by losing. I'm not sure what the point of those screens are since they're easily completed at even a moderate pace.
I tried using the sword during my assault on Blu Boltar, but the hit box is really finicky
I filled back up on supplies since I collected quite a bit of gold during that attempt. Previously I stated I can only carry 8 of each type of item, but I spoke too soon. There's an item that will fully heal Jack, but I guess the developers thought it was overpowered and limited it to one. One! Well, I guess I'll just move along to the next town.
No relation to Roger
In the middle of nowhere I met the rabbit celestial being. He acted more as a sign post and fortune teller. At some point I'm going to need to bypass a Fire Castle to reach Mt. Cone-Rum, and face the great demon King Gulp. Before I left, Rogee pointed me towards Shorin, the town of Kung-Fu.
Is that a question? Also, gesundheit
Shorin offered up some new armor (Lee's Robe (Bruce?)) and a new protective talisman (sigma). There's also a Golden Claw somewhere in town. It remains quite hidden. The town holds the key to the Blue Bell, but it's only offered to the most worthy fighter in all of Shorin. The fight to the top is tough. I'm still not sure how to beat the first monk, Hoe-mer.
That's a nice ball and chain, but it doesn't seem to go with your hit box at all
I'll struggle with him later. Nearby was another Yoma Clan chateau, which held the only candle in all the world. The match I had bought earlier turned out completely useless in the cave to the west of town. Getting to the candle was difficult, once again the tower had one particular set of enemies that proved the game wasn't going to let me off easily.
Here, have some invisible enemies that shoot projectiles
With candle in hand I made my way through the cave. I was surprised to find myself face-to-face with a samurai. Not that a samurai in this world is surprising (especially when there are other enemies that are much more out of place). It was the fact the battle was turn-based. Here I thought that was saved for bosses, and that's what I mistook my first encounter for without realizing the game had changed the rules.
Tiger Tank is much more surprising
I realized after I beat the samurai, and squandered half my healing bun reserves, that these were random encounters. There's absolutely no reason to even consider battling enemies in this fashion. I ran from them all; even QP Fox, who seems to be some kind of special enemy as he's the only one named when I fight him in action battles.
Normally it just says 'enemies'
Are you the same QP Fox, or does QP stand for something?
A desert awaited me on the other side of the dark cave. Here the game decided it would bestow both types of luck on me. With an obscene encounter rate I worried I might not make it very far, but I was able to run from the majority without issue. The remainder I battled or used a skateboard to escape. I passed by the Fire Castle, and made my way to the town of Chatzy.
I double dog dare you!
It's strange to reach a town this deep into the game, and find it nearly devoid of better equipment. There are a couple of new throwing items, but they're much too expensive and very situational. A fire shield looked promising; however, when I tried to purchase it I was told the mirror shield I had would sell for four times the amount, and thought better of giving up such a prize.
I'm starting to wonder how long this game actually is
To the north of town is another cave, but my candle wasn't bright enough to light the way. Instead, a shop in town sells a torch for 1000 sen, and I only had 100. I figured it was a good time to head back to the evil queen while I try to save up for the torch.
This must be the deeper darker cave
This time around the evil queen didn't stand a chance. The combination of six levels, Lee's Robe, and Talisman Sigma allowed me to dodge and deflect nearly every attack. It was quite the 180.
This is the last half of the deflection antimation...
nice try Google... anyone know an easy way to create GIFs? If so, I'll promise more animations
As promised, more animations.
This is with Easy Gif Animator, which seems to mostly work, but in the 2 minutes I played around with it I can't find a way to adjust framerate (this is at about half speed). I still have 18 uses left on the free trial though, so unless another option presents itself I'll keep messing with it.

With the evil queen banished, the lily spirits took back their castle. The melody that played afterwards was very pleasant.
One might almost say it's almost magical... like, magic... of Scheherazade... go buy our other game
I now had the antidote, but when I arrived in town I realized there was no way to actually use it. I was told to put it into the spring, but how? Maybe I just wasn't at the right place, maybe there was a hidden area to the town, maybe if I just trip into the lake...
Uhh, 'use' button? Where are you?
Maybe if I just stumble upon the correct square
With the antidote in the spring everyone in town returned to normal, or at least their own version of normal.
Don't worry about Jimmy, he's always been that way
The mayor was very eager to thank me, offering anything I desired in reward for my service. I requested the prism bell, and now we're up to three. I'm fairly sure one resides with Blu Boltar, and I know for certain the blue bell is at Shorin. This means I'm only about half way through the game. Maybe I can get through it this week.
The password is now taking up all character spaces
Elapsed Time: 2h20m (Total Time: 6h00m)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Game 21: Little Ninja Brothers (NES) - Speckled Fronds Upon The Floor

I've seen this screen more than I'd like to
This world is a dangerous place. I should have taken the boss difficulty as a warning rather than an anomaly. Instead I blundered my way into battle after unbeatable battle, and found myself revived at my last check point at the convenience store. When I reached the next boss I got my first taste for the turn-based combat (see above).
Yet another easy way to die
To keep Jack alive I have a healthy supply of Sweet Buns (heals 40 HP), but I'm only able to carry 8 of any one item. This limitation impairs my ability to just tank damage from the boss. Although, I'm not necessarily stuck since I was able to explore beyond my current location, Cilly City.
CelCelCel Cel?
Cilly City is under a strange curse. The evil queen across the lake cast a spell that turned the humans into morons. As luck would have it, I met a divine being called Savior Moonlit Tiger who was unaffected by the curse. He explained that I needed to retrieve the antidote from the queen and deposit it into the spring water. Even in all this craziness I found a human with the clarity of mind to tell me of a hidden sword to the south.
Ha! It's a talking snake... how Cilly
Swords are capable of defeating some otherwise indestructible enemies. It also has great power; the drawback is Jack gets no experience when defeating enemies with it. I haven't bothered with using it against the boss, which I suppose is an option... I'd rather get experience.
Extended reach from the sword is another plus
After banging my head against the evil queen a few times I decided to venture into the surrounding area. My previous assumption about running was quickly shattered during my exploration, and I wonder why I thought running was guaranteed when I had an item that allowed immediate escape from battle.
Where'd Ryu come from?
Nearby was a cave where the Water Lily Queen was in exile. She gave me a mirror shield which is supposed to reduce the effectiveness of the evil queen's magic. All I've noticed is a small chance to deflect some of the damaging spells. In fact, right after I received the shield, the very next fight, I got stun locked.
Can't attack in this form, and Jack says different stupid phrases
Determined to make some progress during that session, I expanded my exploration of the surrounding area. To the far northwest, through many tough battles, I discovered another town. I would assume it's the next town, but I actually haven't explored to the eastern shore.
There's no mention of the problems in Cilly, but rumors of the Yoma gang suggested they'd taken over the town of Yokan. An NPC noted I needed the Talisman Gamma to improve my resistance to their magic if I were to stand a chance. Random townsfolk are always the most knowledgeable.
He says this for anything I buy
Well, the merchant selling the talisman decided he wanted some pop instead of money. The only place to get some was a Yoma Chateau to the east. This place is basically a series of fights similar to the boss battles, but lacking a final boss. Once I got the pop, the trip back was really easy (compared to the boss I was still losing to), and I received the talisman for my trouble.
This was the last battle, and it was a cake walk
Near Okay I pooled up enough funds to afford the Fire Punch, and finally felt prepared for the boss. Of course, I wasn't, but I'll get to the reasons shortly. Battles are sparse on money rewards, and leveling up is slow. I'm really unsure if I'm under-leveled, but I definitely feel like it. The levels displayed on the battles ranged from 12 - 23, and I've just barely reached 14.
A Whirly Bird allows quick travel between towns
I believe the main reason the boss is so hard is levels don't seem to increase my chance of survival. The only stat displayed is attack power, which increases 1 per level. Even after gaining five levels from my first attempts, and increasing my armor, she continues to do 9 HP of damage with her attack.
Guard appears to have no effect
In addition to straight damage output, the evil queen has two spells that basically do the same thing. Fool makes Jack act stupidly instead of taking action, it takes at least one turn to recover. Stone turns Jack into a rock where he sits and takes hits, it takes at least one turn to recover. I have yet to dodge either attack, so she uses these abilities to no lose of turn on her part.
I'll just attack now and... what the?
And in case all of the above was not enough to cause great pain, her evasive ability is greater than any other RPG boss I've faced. Seriously, it must be 70%+. In all fights, I've landed no more than five hits. I have seen my damage potential increase with levels, and my new weapons also kick it up a notch. Still, it's not enough, and I continue to fail.
The dragon is one of the invincible enemies, but beating this fight without the sword is over double most fights
With a limited supply of healing items, and many action sequences between the town and queen, it's no surprise I lose because I always run out of healing. I'm going to move on further than Okay, and come back when I've gained a few more levels. My only concern is the boss that follows.
Maybe Hard wasn't the best idea
It's possible to choose difficulty each time the game is loaded, so maybe I'll try normal if I have as much trouble next session. Wish me luck, but I think my hopes for a short game are already dashed.

Elapsed Time: 2h35m (Total Time: 3h40m)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Game 21: Little Ninja Brothers (NES) - Bringing Good Cheer

Game 21

TitleLittle Ninja Brothers
Released1990 (1989 JP)
DeveloperCulture Brain
PublisherCulture Brain
Exploration - Top-down
Combat - Real-time (random battles)
Series - Super Chinese (Japanese Title)

Time to welcome back Culture Brain, the creators of innovative titles such as Flying Warriors and The Magic of Scheherazade. Sadly, this is the last series we'll see come out of the group that did their best to seamlessly blend action titles and RPGs.
Jack is the only character available to 1 player
Little Ninja Brothers is the sequel to Kung Fu Heroes. It expands on the original by adding an explorable world (including towns, NPCs, and mini-games), character levels and equipment, and a progressing story. It retained the action sequences as random, and fixed battles. The manual also mentions turn based battles, but I have yet to encounter one. The series (originally called Super Chinese ...) continued on in this fashion for six more games in Japan. Of those six, two were localized, but we'll get to those in the future.
Your face?
The game starts with a choice: do I want to play the RPG, or field meeting? The RPG is the main story, and field meeting is a collection of mini-games. Either selection leads to the possibility of playing with 1 or 2 players. From the description in the manual (and my experience to come shortly), the mini-games are also accessible in the main game. Following this, I had to decide the difficulty level. I chose the hardest based on the description in the manual where even normal was described as "for beginners and kids."
I have a feeling this whole game is aimed at kids
The titular ninja brothers are Jack and Ryu. Right away they're tasked with saving their land from the Yoma clan. According to the television they had on while practicing in their monastery the emperor was kidnapped, and Blu Boltar declared himself the ruler of the land. Well our heroes won't stand for that.
You knew the emperor was going to get kidnapped and did nothing about it?
Before departing, their mentor described seven prism bells that are required to save Chinaland. He then payed them off with one, some starting cash, and kicked them out into the wide world.
The first town offered up some equipment to spend the meager allowance. I purchased and equipped the best weapon and armors, fully draining my funds. Each town hosts an equipment shop, a tool shop that has miscellaneous item, a hotel, and a convenience shop that will restore a fallen hero and give the password to resume a game. There are other random buildings as well. I gathered a fair amount of warnings, and then stumbled into a training house that forced me into a mini-game.
Now that you mention it, I'm sure I will too
Upon entering a particular house I received a tutorial on how to execute a dragon kick. The mini-game that followed was actually harder when using it; I'm baffled. The goal is to pop 20 balloons, and reach the end of a track. Merely jumping into them is enough, and allows for more accuracy.
Timing jumps perfectly to miss every balloon would have been more challenging
Uhm, maybe later...
What?! No, I said later... oh well
With that out of the way, I made my way north. Random battles let you know the approximate difficulty level (or suggested character level) for the fight, and then a choice to fight or run. So far, the level doesn't seem very accurate (I easily beat a level 6 battle at level 3), and running has yet to fail (but why run when the battles are so easy).
Once again, the jump is more powerful than the punch
I ran across a divine house described by a villager. Inside was the Wise Stallion, and another mini-game. This one I obviously failed in all logical terms, but still passed somehow. I can only guess there wasn't really a goal, but then what was the purpose of showing an AI competitor?
Let me guess: you know where one is, but I have to get it
Next stop was the city of Deli-Chous, where the mayor is rumored to have one of the prism bells. Deli-Chous is a town that creates the most delicious delicacies; however, the mayor is hording them in his mansion. I was all set to charge in and right this wrong. Instead, I get invited to a nice dinner.
Yeah, to think all those people could be wrong about you hoarding all the food when you have all this food here
Obviously something was a little fishy about this (no sushi?); after Jack had his fill he took a nap, and woke up in prison. There were others there, including the real mayor. The imposter was actually one of the Yoma clan, and he was fattening people up in order to eat them. One of the prisoners found a hole, but was much too fat to fit. Perfect size for Jack though.
Really? Did you choose that yourself?
On the other side of the hole was a passage that led outside about a screen's length away from town. There was a small hut that housed a strange character: the Savior Mouchee Mouse. She gave me a test, which I passed, and sent me on my way with a talisman that protected me from Tub-A-Tummy's magic.
Only at the game
With my new protective amulet I returned to town and faced off against Tub-A-Tummy. The fights leading up to him were quite difficult. I'm certain it's because I was under-leveled while on the highest difficulty. There are three fights before the boss battle.
The second fight was the hardest with an instant (at my level) kill lightning bolt that streaked across the screen
I grinded on these three fights for at least 20 minutes, gained three levels, and then finally vanquished the boss. The boss had a power that was a cheaper shot than even the lightning: a multi-directional shot that turns Jack into a slime. As a slime I'm powerless, and get eaten by his minions. I relied on throwing ninja stars at him until he died as getting too close.
An oh-so-cute little white slime
For my efforts I obtained a bell prism, the second of seven, and enjoyed a feast of celebration at the mayor's house.
Apparently Jack doesn't know what moderation is
I get the feeling that this is all the game has to offer, and we'll repeat this for the next few hours (six if I continue to average one hour for each bell, and one for the final boss). I'm really eager to start Quest of the Avatar, so I hope this doesn't drag on for too long.
Oh yeah, and we have another password system
Elapsed Time: 1h05m (Total Time: 1h05m)