Fall 1992. Dragon Quest V was released and became an instant success, both critically and commercially. Plans for the sixth game in the series were made soon thereafter, but series father Yuji Horii was skeptical about the whole thing. One very day he knocked at the door of Chunsoft, the developer of all last games and politely asked them to stop working on Dragon Quest VI and handed the whole thing over to Heartbeat, which doomed Chunsoft to produce mystery dungeon games for all eternity.
And this proved to be a huge step forward for the entire series.
Released in December 1995, the sixth installment of the series was a huge hit. Cue 2010, where the game got remade by Arte Piazza, and then came 2011 where the game was finally released worldwide.
So yeah, if you haven't guessed yet, I'm gonna talk about Dragon Quest VI in this post. Yeah I know, I already did before, but t'was two years ago, so who cares? Anyway...
Dragon Quest VI is a huge improvement over the preceding games, and it's the first game in the series to actually push its platform. Or it used to at least, since I'll be mostly covering the DS remake here. But let me begin by saying this: DQVI is still a simple game. While it got a graphical and musical overhaul, it's still the same game from 1995, but that is not neccesarily a bad thing, right?
As the law of critics says, you start with the good stuff, so there we go. Dragon Quest VI is pretty. Very pretty. The game has a bright and varied color pallette, which it uses to create some very memorable scenery and moments, the first one being when you leave your house and step into the village for the first time.
Cue the sun!
It uses a combination of polygonal environments and sprite-based characters. While the sprites may be small and undetailed, the scenery more than makes up for that, and the styles don't ever clash. Some areas use both the upper and the lower screens of the DS, and you can rotate the camera most of the time as well, giving you full view of your sorroundings.
Get on my horse, my horse is ama- nevermind.
The game manages to create a vibrant world, which looks just as good, if not better than the original SNES version (which already was a very pretty game for its time). While the sprites may not be all that attractive, there is some really nice animation here and there, but it honestly makes you wonder why there isn't more of it, but that's a different story.
The real deal lies in the battles, however. Those have some really nice 3D backgrounds and some of the most smoothly animated monsters ever. The slimes will playfully bounce right at the screen, those pink guys will perform a silly dance and so on. The monsters also animate when they're idling, which makes the battles feel so much more lively. The weapon and spell animations are gorgeous as well, with every single weapon having its own, same goes for the spells. The best part- almost none of these animations were reused from the previous game! (Sadly only almost, a couple weapons are the same)
Complete with wacky enemy designs!
As you can tell from the screenshot, the battle system is first-person, meaning that you never get to see your party members in battle. While this does mean that there's none of the dynamic camera movements á la DQVIII and IX, it does make the whole affair a lot faster, which makes the level grinding a lot more bearable. You can make the battles even faster if you so desire.
I just noticed that both screenshots show the same party formation. Heh.
The other good thing? The soundtrack. Oh yes, the soundtrack. Music has never been a problem for the series, and this game is a good example of some of the series' best composing. As with all installments in the series, the soundtrack is lovingly bizarre and damn catchy. While there aren't all that many tracks in the game (about 16, allthough the OST doesn't have them all) they're all very well composed, and the sound quality is great, especially for the DS's limited capabilities.
Here are a couple of examples:
The music may become a little obnoxious, depending on how long you're stuck in a certain area, but it's definitely not as bad as certain other examples.
So it has good graphics and nice music, anything else there to keep me going? What about the gameplay?!
Well first of all- yes, there's another great thing about the game: the translation. Just like DQIX, it was translated by Nintendo, but there's not much of a difference between Square's translation of the last games and Nintendo's version of VI. Which is good, since the translation is excellent. The dialogue has a ton of flavor- or should I say flavour? Everyone speaks British English, which is a better decision than using Shakesperean English in my opinion. There is a lot of humor everywhere, the item names and descriptions are punny, and it's fun to talk to all the different NPCs. You can also talk to your party by pressing the B button, with the dialog changing after every small event, sometimes even after talking to the aforementioned NPCs.
So is there a bad thing about this game?
Yes. For once, no matter how great the translation is- it fails to cover up two things: the characters are still boring and the plot is still bland and lacking. While the start is mysterious and all, it quickly boils down to a generic "defeat the evil monsters that seek to destroy our world" thing. The game does try to shove in some unique things- like a second "mirror world" to explore, but in comparison to the last two game's unique storytelling methods, this one just falls flat.
But even if the characters are somewhat boring, they're not unlikeable. Most of them are fairly sympathethic, actually, but they don't interact much with each other. Actually, some of them stop talking alltogether once they join you (safe for the party chat of course).
And that being said, I can finally get started on the gameplay. As I said before, it's still the same game it was in 1995 gameplay-wise. There are still random encounters. You walk from plot point A to B while fighting monsters, grinding EXP and money and buying new equipment for your team. The remake added some random minigames that actually use the touchscreen (the first of the DS remakes to do so, in fact) but they're nothing to write home about.
You'll also spend a good chunk of your time levelgrinding, and the equipment prices are also ridicolously high. Couple this with the rather small status boosts the level ups give you and you're in for a grind.
The menus are also pretty much the same as back in 1995, except for a graphical update, naturally, making navigation a lot easier.
So there is pretty much no complexity in DQVI. Does that mean simplicity is bad? Definitely not. It's still a great game, even if it's a bit dated.The graphics and music are lovely, and the battles are fast enough to avoid feeling like a chore.
Also, on another note, Arte Piazza have recently announced a 3DS remake for Dragon Quest VIII, and they will finally drop the random encounters and give the game a huge graphical update, so expect to read about that one some time in the future.
So that's all about DQVI from me. Au revoir!
So if some of you have been following fellow RPG Makerer Ocean's Dream, you might have noticed that he was working on a Gameboy-styled game called Rose Blade, which looked like this:
So yeah, the bad news: He stopped working on it. The (maybe) good news? I am now making it! And now that Ocean finished most of the engine, it's gonna be very easy.
Yeah anyway, the game will retain its original title, battle system, and characters and the small part of the plot that was finished. I'll create some new music for the game, while Ocean will work on the rest of the graphics.
And if you wanna see the game in action, here's a small video! (Sorry about the small resolution, I can only record in half size)
And that's about it. See you whenever I remember that I have a blog!
So I finally mustered enough motivation to work on games again. My favorite Maker has always been XP, even though it's overly complicated and difficult to use. But I tried out VX Ace recently, and I'm really loving it! It has so many new and restored functions! It's a huuuge improvement over VX, so I highly recommend fellow game makers to try it.
Yeah, anyway, I've been working on a small-ish game with Ace for a few weeks now. I don't intend to win any game of the year awards or anything, I just wanna get used to the program and all. I will release it before or around Christmas (hopefully), but seriously, don't expect it to be my magnum opus or anything.
...which does not mean that I didn't put any effort into it. Ah well, just go and see for yourself, m'kay?
I have a lot of character portraits with different emotions, so yay! I'll be using a slightly modified version of the standard battle system, with the usual silly monsters I like!
That's all I'm showing for now, I'll talk about the rest some other time.
If you've been following this blog from the very start, you'll most likely know about "Disillusioned Strategies", a TRPG I've been working on for quite some time. Yeah. It's been cancelled.
The game went through many changes over time. It was originally about a girl who could summon various spirits and monsters to aid her in battle, but I thought that was too similar to another certain TRPG, so I scrapped it. Then it was about a sailor who got stranded on a random island, sans his memory. I thought that one was really stupid, so it got the boot. When the game was moved to XP the plot was all about a random schoolgirl who got stuck in a fantasy world, which was also very similar to another game of the same genre.
In the end the XP version only had four maps, with no connections.
The upper left screenshot shows a test map, where you could get all items, fight some monster and get access to some options, like the window color. The upper right screenie shows another test map, which existed to test the height differences during battle, but it never worked so it had little right for existence. The lower left map was a test for the visual novel-style cutscene system, but I didn't have any character portraits so it was quite pointless too. And lastly, the lower right screen shows a random cutscene where the duo kills a guy and the pink-haired dudette commits suicide. Yeeeaaah.
While it was fun to work on, I think the game wouldn't have been all that great, so I decided to stop working on it and just keep the experience.
Nobody would've played it anyway.
So see you all!
Thought I was dead, huh? Well, no-oh! If you're following my Twitter account you noticed that I claimed to have returned about five-million times. Well, this time it's for real. It's been almost six months now, wow.
I'll be updating my game stuff as soon as I can, so stay tuned! That's all I got to say for now. See y'around~
Hiya, this's Maryfourdee.I'll be gone for... quite a while. My Internet connection will be cut off for an extended amount of time, so I won't be able to update this blog or anything. I've no idea when I'll be back, but don't hold your breath. I'll also be making my last posts today.
PCororo and SkyDX will be relieved of their duties here, and the games I've been working on are cancelled. It was fun while it lasted, and it was definitely an exciting year. Too bad I won't get to celebrate the two year anniversary of this blog, but there's nothing I can do.
Look ahead, toward your own future!
Take care, everybody. I'll miss ya.
Hello there everyone! This time it's SkyDX and in my first article I want to share my opinions about Solatorobo: Red The Hunter. First of all a huge thanks goes to Maryfourdee who told me about this great game and provided me with infos about it!
Now to Solatorobo itself, it's an Action RPG for Nintendo DS developed by CyberConnect2 and the spiritual sequel to the PlayStation game Tail Concerto. I haven't played Tail Concerto myself so far but plan to do so later on as it seems like a great game too. As for the connection between the games, you don't have to play Tail Concerto to understand the story of Solatorobo, the games take place in the same so called "Little Tail Bronx" world, albeit in a different area.
Tail Concerto takes place in the Prairie Kingdom while Red and his friends experience their adventures in the Shepherd Republic. However this isn't the only conncetion, if you played Tail Concerto you will meet some of the characters again and side-quests will explain what made them travel to the new region. Speaking of side-quests, questing is the heart of Solatorobo, you take on different quests from a quest agency which are distinguished in story and side-quests. But slowly, let's start from the beginning!
The game starts with our hero Red and his sister Chocolat approching a flying freighter named Hindenburg (who wants to guess its fate with that name? >.>) in their airship Asmodeus. Flying freighter, airship?
Yep! The world of Solatorobo is made of many bigger and smaller flying islands which you explore over the course of the game via a location select menu. Overall the atmosphere kinda reminded me of Hayao Miyazaki's movie Laputa: Castle in the Sky, which is quite nice and there's also quite a bit of French influence in the game, especially the names.
But back to the happenings on the Hindenburg: Red boards it to steal some documents for a client. Our hero is a hunter that means he makes a living by fulfilling quests from a quest agency, how exciting! So yeah, that's the games first mission and soon after the story introductions you will be in control. Gameplay-wise the game plays alot like the classic Megaman Legends which plays out nicely on the DS. The biggest difference though, while Red rides a robot named Dahak he doesn't shoot holes in his enemies, instead he picks them (or objects and projectiles) up and throws them around.
As simple as it sounds, there is a bit more to it, the heavier the enemies are, the biggeer is the chance that they counterattack before you lift them up completly. Plus the enemies later on actually require a bit of strategy, for the most part though it's enough to grab them from behind and use the combo system to chain up to three throws together for extra damage till the enemy finally blows up in a hot explosion. This works quite well till Red comes across a section where the Dahak cannot pass, but fear not he isn't glued to it.
At almost any time of the game Red can dismount the Dahak and go on by foot to find a way forward, should he encounter an eneny in that state no problem! For these cases Red has a stun gun which does... SHOCK what the name implies. Eventually you find the oh so important documents and a seemingly unimportant amulet too though DUN DUUN DUUUN, as soon as the amulet is taken, hell breaks loose. The Hindenburg goes down and Red manages to flee in the last second while rescuing a mysterious boy while being attack by even more mysterious enemies made up of some black energy and who would have thought, some baddies have set their eyes on the amulet too!
Now you might ask, where is the RPG in all the action? Well there is a level system that grants more HP for each level up and the Dahaks stat points are also customizable with a simple yet effetive Tetris style grid so you can power up how you like but to be honest I haven't noticed much of a terrible difference yet.
Lastly, while reading all this, you might also ask: "Still, why should I play Solatorobo?" That I will sum up in the final part of my post!
Well all in all it's a really entertaining game, the gameplay is smooth and fluid, the quests aren't a chore unlike most MMORPG quests and vary quite greatly. Sometimes you have to sort crates, fly around with the Dahak in flight mode, escape from prision, rescue someone from a enemy airship, take part in flying races called Air Robo GP in best Mario Kart tradition (wireless multiplayer included!), find magical books, heck you can even fight in tournaments and I did all that in mere four story chapters so far!
Should all this still not be enough, you can download additional quests if you're connected to WiFi, find hidden items to unlock artwork and the soundtrack to listen to it on the Asmodeus. So you see, there is lots to do in Solatorobo and it has a huge amout of variety. All this comes mixed with a beautiful world in the sky which has a mesmerizing atmosphere that will sometimes make you chuckle like when you see the Stardogs Coffee shop.
The characters do the rest, Red is a hotblodded hero with a slightly childish attitude which often drives him into a funny pinch with other characters while Chocolat does her best to keep her brother from running into trouble which is really fun to look at. And of course like always with with fantasy stories things aren't that simple as they seem at first, the bigger plot slowly unfolds and the secrets of the characters slowly surface. Especially Red seems to bear a bigger secret, Maryfourdee told me the lyrics of the opening which are Japanese tell of one of his secrets :3 What it is I haven't found out myself yet, like said I'm only up to Chapter 4 as of writing this.
The bad guys also aren't that bad :P and cover quite the cliches: So far I have seen a evil boss, a strict right hand, a mysterious guy who doesn't talk alot (he seems to have his own agenda) and a lightheaded almost-idiot, evilness and hilarity ensured!
Okay I think that article got long enough, I could still write many more things about Solatorobo but then I might aswell write a full FAQ which I don't feel like and I hope I could spark enough interested for this great, fun game with my article.
That was it from me for now, goodbye, go playing!
And lastly a thanks to PCocoro too for helping me with the images and such!
Cheers, it's PaulianCornet! (or PCororo) again! Before I start with the actual topic, the Disgaea article is still underway, but I moved so I didn't have the time to finish my research (mostly concerning languages though).
Aaaaanyway, today I'll be talking about Paradise Blue, an indie RPG made by Ocean's Dream which Maryfourdee covered a few posts earlier. So, the game was made by a normal guy on his PC at home and not in a colossal game studio. And it's free, so play it. But I digress.There are a lot of indie developers these days, but very few actually any recognition outside of the Internet. (And sometimes not even on the Internet itself) PB was (or is?) quite popular, despite not looking like FF13 or having tons of boobs. And it can actually teach us a lot about game design? What exactly? I'll show you!
- You can save everywhere. I can't tell you enough how much I and millions of other people appreciate this. Even if your game is supposed to be ultra-challenging, at least a quicksave option should be there, since we are people who might have business to attend while we're in the middle of a dungeon.
- There is customisation and flexibility. You get four characters whose jobs you can change at any given time after defeating the first boss, and you can combine abilities of different jobs to create more-rounded or plain gamebreaker classes. Games with job systems usually restrict you to the abilities of a certain job that vanish once you chose a new one.
- Experience is limited. This might sound terrible at first, but it actually prevents you from overleveling and breezing through the game, taking all the potential battle strategies away.
- Tying in with the above, bosses have gimmicks/require special tactics to defeat. How many games have you spamming your strongest attacks and spells on an enemy until it's defeated? Too many. Some bosses here sorround you, some others have a phase where attacking them directly is not a good idea and so on. Definitely adds some colour to the boss battles.
- Another tie-in with the above, bosses give no EXP. So if one of your characters remains dead throughout the battle, they won't miss out any super-high experience boosts!
- There are no random encounters. If you don't feel like battling or can't hold yourself up anymore, just avoid them! They won't chase you either. No more frustration with lousy escape rates!
- There's a quest log. Haven't played your favourite game in a long time? No idea where to go? No one there to point you in the right direction? Yes, we all know and hate it. PB nicely avoids this nasty problem with a handy quest log that keeps you up to date with your main goal and subquests!
- Characters are blank sheets, yet there is a plot. Yeah. You create four characters yourself and they have no dialog whatsoever. Yet the creator managed to write a pretty nice plot around them, as they are mercenaries hired to guard the two actual main characters. Using the "the princess was kidnapped, go save her plot" is unexcuseable now.
- The graphics are simple, yet beautiful. They resemble an 8-bit RPG, yet the visuals (especially the battle backgrounds) are absolutely gorgeous! There are tons of games using the premade RTP graphics, so it's better to stand out with graphics of your own. Even if they're simple, they work. A good example would be Earthbound, a SNES game which had barely any shading, yet looked really cool
- The music is custom. While not mandatory, a game with its own soundtrack feels much better than playing twenty games with the Kingdom Hearts soundtrack.
So these are ten things Paradise Blue can teach us about game design, which is why every fellow RPG makin' dude/tte should try it out and grab some inspiration from. And even if you don't make games you should play it since it's awesome! :P
Hey everyone! This's PaulianCornet and starting today I'll be writing a series of articles that'll cover the strategy RPGS made by Japanese developer Nippon Ichi. Why? Because actual, in-depth coverage of these games is almost-nonexistant. (Other than Hardcore Gaming 101's wonderful article)
Nippon Ichi is a small development house in the Gifu Prefecture. Before they became known for their mind-bending strategy games they developed small, dispansable puzzle games. Their first full-blown game was the rather dull Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure (or Marl Kingdom in Japan). The game proved popular enough to warrant two direct sequels and two spin-offs. One of the spin-offs is the PS2 game La Pucelle: Tactics (La Pucelle translates as The Virgin).
La Pucelle / La Pucelle Tactics / La Pucelle Ragnarok - Playstation 2, PSP (2004 / 2009)
"Long ago, there was a fierce battle between the Goddess Poitreene and the Prince of Darkness. In the darkest hour a young women, dubbed the Maiden of Light, rose to defeat the Dark Prince and restore peace to the world."
...something along these lines serves as the introduction to La Pucelle. As you might have guessed, the story takes quite some religious influence. It revolves three members of La Pucelle, a church devoted to defeating monsters and keeping peace around the world. The main character, Prier ("to pray" in French), dreams of becoming the new maiden of light, but her haughty attidute and foul tongue don't exactly qualify her for the task.
Tagging along is her little brother Culotte (a French piece of clothing), and the very devoted Sister Alouette, who is way calmer and more qualified for becoming the Maiden of Light. The group's first task is to cleanse a sewer of nasty ghosts.
You get more and more people to join you on your quest, all for different reasons and motives. The cast is very colourful, and the writing is always there for a good laugh. The story starts out fairly light-hearted and idealistic, but gets darker and more serious as it progresses, but there are still tons of comic-reliefs thrown in here and there.
Before you go to battle you can make preparations in the local town, Pot Au Feu ("Pot on Fire" in French). The townspeople also provide some information, as well as some of the funniest lines in the game.
Every character you get has four slots of equipment, and you equip whatever you like. You can equip Prier with four weapons and make her a total powerhouse but sacrifice her defence, and so on. Every new chapter will provide you with more equipment to buy, but it's also important to keep your equipments levels up to date. They go up as you fight while having them equipped, and high-level equipment is actually more important than high character levels, especially during post-game battles.
Talking about levels, every stat in this game has one! Your strength stat raises if you attack, yada yada, but it's nowhere as terrible as Final Fantasy II's retarded leveling system. It works a lot smoother, and your characters won't end up completely useless. The max level of any character is also, rather unusually, 9999! Don't be scared though, there's absolutely no need to ever reach that number. In fact, you can beat the final boss without being in your hundreds!
After you're done preparing you select one of the maps and fight. The battles seem to be your typical isometric tactical battles at first glance, but they definitely aren't. Any action (sans using items) will switch the view to a sideview battle field, where you see the attack / skill / healing executed. If you attack, everyone sorrounding you will join you in the tussle. Enemies can do the same thing, but you also get to counterattack. The one big problem with these "battle intermissions" is that they make the battles way longer than they could be. In a game where a moderate amount of grinding is necessary this definitely gets annoying, but still bearable.
Your characters will also learn a few combination attacks later on, allthough they eat SP for breakfast and require a lot of levelling until they become really useful.
Also new to the whole thing are the Dark Portals. They're streams of dark energy emitting from a central point. They will continously spawn new monsters until you purify, aka close, them. If you do so the energy will be released in the form of the portal's element (Fire, Ice and Wind are the default ones, but you can combinate them), causing every enemy who happens to be standing onto a stream panel to take damage. You can place your characters around to redirect the energy into a circle, which will have a mega-awesome effect, like dealing huge chunks of elemental damage to all enemies, or completely restoring your party's health. One of the big problems with this though is the fact that your allies will counterattack enemies when they attack you during their phase. This will often cause you to defeat all enemies, and thus ending the battle, without being able to pull the chain off, and setting those up requires quite some time, so expect to be frustrated in the end.
Also, talking about Purification, there's more to that. While the game doesn't let you create any additional characters aside from the story ones, you can recruit pretty much every monster by puriying them often enough, and then kicking the crap out of them. They will usually start at low levels, but they can become just as strong as your regular characters with some grinding.
The game is divided into several chapters, each of which has multiple endings. There are some special event panels scattered on the map, which will trigger events or additional battles. Activating them all will usually earn you the good ending. While every chapter has multiple endings, the main ending is always the same.
The game also has some of the smoothest animation seen in an SRPG. While the sprites aren't particularly high-budget, they're damn well animated!
The soundtrack by Tenpei Sato is also first-rate, with some really fresh songs that never fail to capture the mood of the situation. My only complaint is that there aren't enough tracks, but the ones present are wonderful.
Since the localised version of La Pucelle's spiritual successor Disgaea was such a success, Mastiff picked the game up for localisation. While the translation is very well done and contains a lot of humour, there is quite some censorship. One of the game's main characters, Croix ("cross" in French), always smokes a cigarette, which was edited out of his character art and sprites. However they didn't alter any of the animations, so you get to see Croix taking out nothing out of his mouth and putting nothing back in. All instances of crosses were also removed, which is quite fatal considering this is a game with heavy religious overtones.
The game contains both English and Japanese voiceovers, and both are very high-quality performances. (allthough the Japanese setting has more scenes voiced than the English one, probably due to budget restraints). Prier is voiced by Jennifer Hale, who masterfully captures her attitude problems.
In 2009, Nippon Ichi released a PSP port of the game, titled La Pucelle Ragnarok. It's essentially the same game with some nice updates. A good chunk of the interface has been redone to look nicer and be less number-infested. A lot of characters who didn't have an artwork now have at least one, and all the cutscenes are voiced now, instead of only selected ones. One of the best updates is that you can now set the battle scenes off, which turns the grinding en-masse into a much quicker affair.
There are numerous characters, some of which are DLC, while others can be obtained via post-game content.
The biggest addition, of course, is a completely new scenario starring Demon Prier. You get some all-new special abilities and two new plot routes, which allow for actual multiple endings this time, one of which is now considered canon.
Sadly, Nippon Ichi of America have officially announced that they won't be localising the port, for whatever reason. It's still rather easy to play with a guide and some minor knowledge of Japanese.
While La Pucelle may lack some of the polish that made later NIS games stand out so much, it's still a pleasant experience and highly recommendable for strategy RPG fans.
Next time I will be covering Disgaea: Hour of Darkness. Good bye!
Hi thair! So yeah, Sega recently announced another game in their ever-so-popular Puyo Puyo series. This time it's headed for the DS again, much like Puyo Puyo 7. In case you aren't familiar with Puyo Puyo, then check out this article
. Somewhen around Fever, Sega decided to change the character design. What was generic anime before became super-dee-duper-silly-sugary flat designs. A character who once looked like this
now looks like
I mean, okay, she does look cuter, and the armor still looks fine, even though it's heavily simplified like that. But still... I just can't get used to that artstyle. Oh well. At least the good ol' fun is still there!
Not a series for the Western market.
The game's due this July. It's only slated for DS release, (and I mean the "old" DS, not 3DS) but miost of the games got ported to multiple platforms, so I'm sure this will also show up on the PSP and 3DS.
PS: I have an unhealthy obsession with these games.