Sunday, February 24, 2013

Tangled Tales: Won! (with Final Rating)

The closest you get to a victory screen before getting dumped to the DOS prompt.

Tangled Tales
ORIGIN Systems (developer and publisher)
Gary Scott Smith, Alex Duong Nghiem
Released 1989 for DOS, Apple II, and Commodore 64
Date Started: 20 February 2013
Date Ended: 23 February 2013
Total Hours: 15
Difficulty: Moderate-Easy (2.5/5)
Final Rating: 38
Ranking at Time of Posting: 63/87 (72%)

Before it ended, Tangled Tales got a little harder and a lot sillier. I don't think the final valley could have been more ludicrous if the developers had actually been on drugs. To give a little snippet: dodging giant lizards capable of casting "Teleport," "wabbit hunters" with rifles, giant gorillas called "banana peelers" capable of casting "Paralyze," and polar bears capable of breathing fire, I find my way down a rabbit hole where I got a carrot from a female rabbit. Then I ice-skated across a glacier and used a "Time Disortion" spell to help an Eskimo catch some fish so he would agree to let me use his kayak. In the kayak, I met a talking penguin who needed a bow-tie, but fortunately I had purchased one at a tailor shop. At the penguin's advice, I built a snowman named Snookie north of the Eskimo's igloo and outfitted it with a corncob pipe, two button eyes, and a carrot nose. The snowman helped me win a snowball fight against some yetis so I could get past them into a cave and free a Time Lord named Azersun from an hourglass by blowing a silver flute. Azersun took me back in time where I evaded a man-eating plant to get a pot o' gold from a pyramid for a leprechaun so she would return a stolen diploma to a witch doctor so he would lift a lycanthropy curse from the valley.

This may be the most absurd screen shot ever taken in a CRPG.

If all of this sounds harmless, keep in mind that it took me hours to figure it all out. More so than the first valley, the second two required NPCs to be recruited, items to be found, and puzzles to be solved in a relatively precise order. There were no individual puzzles: everything was joined in one giant machine. Since I didn't know the precise order of places to go and things to do, I ended up havin to backtrack a lot. I'd be curious to see Trickster's take on this one, because it felt a lot more like an adventure game than an RPG. This was exacerbated by combats that give you no experience and very little need for gold. I eventually learned to avoid most combats with the "Detect Monster" spell.

Or maybe this one.

In a comment on my last posting, Gamma Leak alluded to a quote from Scorpia in the August 1989 issue of Computer Gaming World:

Solving many of the puzzles is more a matter of having the right people in the party than anything else, which reduces the main character to [a] spectator at many crucial points in the game. A little less reliance on all these NPCs would have been better.

Maxwell gets in some final jive before taking off.

I didn't feel that way, yet, at the end of my last posting, but I definitely did by the end of the game. NPCs bailed me out of situation after situation, each one sashaying into the sunset once their destinies had been fulfilled. I would have appreciated alternate solutions to many of the puzzles that only NPCs could solve.

It's just way to hard to choose among them.

I'll just summarize the plot quickly before heading on to the rating.

The answer to the drought in the second valley had to do with obtaining a magic carpet from an imp (I needed to wake up a djinn to fight him first) and use it to get to a giant's castle in the clouds. There, I rescued a woman named Veronica and returned her to her beloved Charles. (The two ran off to start a bakery and showed up in the third valley.) But more important, I had my elven minstrel Jenny read a book of poetry to the giant, causing him to cry so copiously that water poured down into the valley below. I suspect the salinity of giant's tears makes the water unsuitable for crop-growing, but whatever.

This sounds a bit familiar...

For the third mission, Eldritch sent me to another valley to find a spell to strengthen the portals that connected the three valleys. That's where I had the nutty adventures recounted above. There were actually two maps of the valley, one in the past and one in the present, and I had to toggle between them with the help of the Time Lord. Once lycanthropy was cured, Charles, who had been infected, gave me a magic map that allowed me to get through the foyer of a wizards' college.


The final area tested my knowledge of all of the spells I'd acquired throughout the game. I had to use "Time Distortion" to get past the wizards' bouncers; prove that I had "Awaken," "Cure Paralysis," and "Energy Blast" (the latter by using it to char a steak); and answer some questions about the effects of "Recall," "Reflection," and "Gnighton."

The answer was a "thimble." I don't really want to explain why.

After that, I was given access to a couple of tomes that filled in my knowledge of any spell I hadn't otherwise picked up, including "Strengthen Portal." I cast this last spell on the three valley portals, returned to Eldritch, and won the game.


Eldritch gave me a final ability increase, which was kind of silly since the game dumped me to the DOS prompt immediately after I spoke to him.

A bold plan for an apprentice who was playing pranks and just had his spellbook wiped a few days ago.

By the end of the game, I had 19 spells, but I barely used the ones I acquired in the second half of the game. Part of the problem is that the character has so few spell points, and the "Continual" ones deplete so quickly, that if you want to make robust use of the spells, you have to rest constantly. Other spells just aren't very useful. "Recall," for instance, allows you to return to the location of a dropped object, but none of the maps are really big enough to make such a useful-sounding spell very necessary.
 
My final spell list.
A quick GIMLET:

1. The game world is reasonably well described in the manual and wizard's journal, and though small, it certainly has some interesting features. The setting is less "fantasy" and more "fairy tale" (which I suppose goes with the title), featuring elves, dwarves, talking snowmen, cloud giants, leprechauns, werewolves, witch doctors, talking rabbits, nymphs, Eskimos, and Vietnamese martial arts experts, all within the space of three valleys. Yes, it was very original, but no, I didn't like it. Score: 5.
2. Character Creation and Development. Although you always play a wizard, character creation does allow for some customization of attributes. You could make a very brawny wizard (more effective in melee combat) or a very brainy one (with more spell power).  "Development" occurs in between stages of the story, with three level-ups (but functionally only two, since the last happens moments before the game quits) and the acquisition of additional spells. I'm not a fan of plot-driven level-ups; I'd rather have gotten experience and levels from slaying monsters. Score: 3.
 
My final character sheet.
 
3.  NPCs. If they weren't so goofy, they'd be some of the best NPCs we've seen in CRPGs so far. You have a selection of dialogue topics for both party NPCs and other NPCs, and they contribute significantly to the atmosphere of the game. Some are absolutely necessary for solving quests and others provide helpful advice. They have unique characteristics and are extremely memorable. I just wish they hadn't been so silly. Score: 7.

I mean, come on.

4. Encounters and Foes. Enemies in the game were varied and a bit nonsensical, especially toward the end. But their unique strengths, weaknesses, and spells drove the only real tactics in combat. A few of them were completely unbeatable and required intelligent use of spells to avoid, which is an interesting departure from the normal CRPG trope of having to kill the evil wizard. The other "encounters" came in the form of puzzles, but I didn't think they were good puzzles. As I mentioned above, they involved less intelligence and creativity and more luck of having been to one place, and gotten an item there, before going to the next place. Because all possible actions are listed under the "Action" button, you never have to think logically about how a certain item might effect a certain outcome, as you do when puzzles depend on typing commands or manipulating inventory. Score: 4.
 
One of the game's several unbeatable monsters. I had to cast "Monster Detection" and "Time Distortion" to skirt my way around him.
 
5. Magic and Combat. The non-magic side of combat is hardly worth mentioning. You hit "attack" and the game tells you when your enemies are slain or when you take damage. You don't see attack rolls or damages, and you can't control the actions of NPC characters. Tactics come entirely from the use of spells, and there are some tactical decisions to make about when to use various continual or noncontinual spells. This aspect of the game would have been better with more spell points to work with; the 170 I had by the end of the game would support 6 or 7 noncontinual spells in between sleeping, and less if I was in a dungeon and needed to keep "Light" active. I also felt that many of the spells appeared too late in the game, long past the point where I really needed them. Score: 4.
 
The adventurers take on Elmer Fudd.
 
6. Equipment. One of the lousier parts of the game. Aside from all the puzzle-based inventory, you find a small selection of weapons, armor, and shields during the course of the game, a lot of which the wizard can't equip. There are no statistics associated with them, so you have to guess on your own whether the "big axe" is a better weapon than the "+2 dagger." I went through almost a dozen re-loads trying to defeat a "Blue Knight" only to find that my reward was a sword and armor I had to give to an NPC. And the system of assigning weapons and armor to NPCs is rather silly, with them asking you for them upon rests. Score: 2.
 
My massive equipment list from the end of the game. Why can I use a "big axe" but not a sword?
 
7. Economy. You get gold from slaying some monsters. There are a handful of quest items to buy, but otherwise you spend most of it healing and resurrecting NPCs. I never saved up the 900+ gold pieces to learn the secrets of the universe from Esmeralda, but I suppose that qualifies as a long-term financial goal that keeps money from becoming completely useless. Score: 4.

8. Quests. There are three "chapters" in the game, together forming a main quest. Although there appear to be side-quests, ultimately none of them are optional. There's only one outcome to each scenario and to the game as a whole, so no opportunities for role-playing. Score: 2.

Eldritch gives the game's final quest.

9. Graphics, Sound, and Interface. My version has no sound, but the graphics are pretty and with enough detail to make interesting vistas and character portraits. The interface was reasonably good. Every clickable icon has an associated keyboard shortcut, making gameplay relatively smooth. Score: 4.
 
A decent-looking dragon. This was another unbeatable foe, by the way. Fortunately, I had a book of extremely boring stories.
 
10. Gameplay. Regrettably linear. The valleys are too small to support open exploration, and although it appears you can hit the dungeons in each scenario in any order, you really need to proceed in a specific order to solve all of the puzzles. I didn't appreciate all the backtracking I needed to do, though it wasn't terrible because the distances were so small. I can't see any reason to replay it once you know the puzzle solutions. If combat had been more tactical, it would be interesting to see how characters of different starting attributes performed, but alas...
 
The pacing is okay. I didn't feel like the game dragged on too long. And it did a reasonably good job easing into the difficulty, with the first valley very easy and the next two progressively harder, though it never got very hard. Score: 3.
 
The game subtly clues me to the existence of a secret door.
 
The final score of 38 puts it close to Drakkhen, another game whose innovations I admired but which had enough flaws in the gameplay to edge it into the "thumbs down" category. Tangled Tales has an interesting interface, a great approach to NPCs, and a rare blend of RPG and adventure game elements. I just wish they had been employed in a more serious game in which combat had more purpose and deeper tactics.
 
Scorpia also gave a mixed review. She seemed intrigued by the hybrid design, but ultimately found it negative: "Just imagine doing Zork (although the puzzles here are generally much easier) with unpleasant critters wandering all over the place." She noted the uselessness of combat, the fact that more NPCs means more monsters, the "pretty" graphics, and the inconsequential nature of death.


Tangled Tales is one of many ORIGIN games that feel like side-projects in between Ultimas. We've seen a few others on the blog so far--Autoduel, Moebius, 2400 A.D., and Times of Lore--and I haven't really liked any of them. I keep hearing good things about Knights of Legend from the same year, and I guess that game uses many of the same interface elements of Tangled Tales. Perhaps that's the "more serious game" that I was just hoping for. I'll be checking it out in just a few games. For now, it's on to Keef the Thief, a game about which I know extremely little except that its title doesn't fill me with promise.

70 comments:

  1. I remember playing this back when it came out. It was a lighthearted, fun, pretty to look at game that really does just seem like an Origin side project. You definitely nailed it that it was a minor distraction while waiting for the next Ultima.

    Although I disagree about Autoduel being one of those games! With a joystick and no other games to play (both very important), it was good for many, many hours of enjoyment.

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  2. Knights of Legends is definitely more serious. I (wisely) skipped Tangled Tales from my own chronological play list, but judging from your description of it and my ownexperience with Knights of Legend, I don't think two fantasy CRPGs with such similar graphics and UI can be more different.

    Keef the Tief was another game I skipped, but I'm looking forward to your take on it. I actually have a boxed Amiga copy of it, but I don't think I ever played it.

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  3. giant gorillas called "banana peelers"

    Oh, dear. I take back what I said in the other thread, this game is pretty racist.

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    1. Huh. I didn't know that was a slur. I... Guess that's something to go in the 'things the game taught me' column?

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    2. Is that racist against gorillas? :))

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    3. Sorry, you've lost me. In what way is that racist? Please explain.

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    4. It plays to the old discriminatory stereotype that all gorillas eat bananas.

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  4. Citing the developer, Keef the Thief "was a classic sword and scorcery role-playing game. While we were making it, Andy entered sarcastic text as a place holder for what we believed would be the real text in the final release. EA liked the humor so much that they decided to make the entire game a comedy. The effect that this decision had on sales was no joke, however."

    Despite cheesy plot and setting, it's a pretty solid RPG, but has some quirks though that can get annoying. Every trap you fail to disarm is instant death. Every dialogue option costs gold, sometimes insane amounts of it - and it's no guarantee the answer will be of any importance (it IS very in-setting though). Combat suffers from over-innovation. But I had a lot of fun with it still, even if I couldn't bring myself to finish (I HATE maze puzzles).

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    1. Was that a positive or negative effect on sales?

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    2. Well, it looks like I'm going to have to delay Keef the Thief. I can't find a version for sale anywhere.

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    3. I thought you were joking, due to the game's name.

      If the game is not possible to buy and it's available at abandonware sites like Abandonia (I checked; it is), I _really_ don't see the problem.
      And it there is a problem I wonder where you bought all the other games?

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    4. I meant to say, there's a copy protection screen that I can't get past.

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    5. Maybe this will help: http://www.abandonia.com/files/extras/27789_Three%20Card%20Sandi.pdf

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    6. HotUD offers the game pre-cracked
      http://hotud.org/component/content/article/38-adventure/21363

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    7. I have a weird virus on my computer that erases the hard drive when I open PDFs or download cracked games. I'll get a new PC eventually, probably right about the time I finish every other game from 1989.

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  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    1. Awesima! Bolisima! Your game looks to be wonderful and I, for one, look forward to giving you my money! :)

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    2. I removed this comment reluctantly because it violated my rule about linking to commercial entities that have nothing to do with the related posting.

      While I'm flattered by the poster's assertion that the game was "inspired" by my blog, I can't help but notice that on the game's page refers to the inspiration as such:

      "Some time after, I began to read a marvelous book titled Crpgaddict (as a mandatory guide for role-play lovers). Then suddenly, I found myself enthusiastic about the idea of creating a little role-play similar to the classics..."

      Since my blog isn't a "book," it felt a lot like the author had simply plugged my name into that location and then tried to use my blog for free advertising.

      The game does look pretty cool, though. Sort-of has an Infinity Engine feel.

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    3. Sorry CRPG Addict, I read the coments rules after posting it. Apologies for that. Bu, what I said was true. The word "book" was a mistake of my partner that works as translator decided to change the original word "blog" by "book", thinking it was an error (I am Spanish by the way).
      I started to consider making a game when you were blogging about Wizardy IV, and I was amazed by the incredible difficulty of that game, and how different were those games from the current ones, and how much I missed that sensation of challenge...

      Sorry again, please accept my apologies.

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    4. Ah. Por favor, acepte mis disculpas, en tal caso. Debería haberme dado cuenta de que era un problema de traducción, y no un intento deliberado de engañar. Avísame cuando el juego está casi completo, y voy a pensar una manera de presentarlo.

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    5. ¡Por supuesto! Y si necesitas cualquier tipo de información puedes escribirme en el contacto de la web. Muchas gracias por el ofrecimiento y por cierto, no sabía que hablaras un español tan perfecto !?!

      Un abrazo, y si alguna vez pasas por Madrid, avisa y nos vamos de tapas :o).

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    6. Hago muchos negocios en América del Sur, pero escribo español mejor que lo hablo. Si alguna vez pasas por Boston, avisa y nos vamos a salir para gimlets.

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  6. WOW Keef the Thief was first Naughty Dog videogame :D I didn't know that fact! Your blog has a lot of great trivia stuff.

    Technically studio started in 1984 as Jam Software and only 3 games were developed. In 1989 name of studio was changed to Naughty Dog.

    Naughty Dog later become Sony First Party Studio and they are famous for their work on Crash Bandicoot (Only 3 PSX games + CTR), Jak and Daxter (first 3 PS2 games + Jak X) and Uncharted franchises (for now only 3 games). Last of Us is their new PlayStation 3 game that will be released on June 14, 2013.

    According to Wikipedia:

    Keef the Thief is a video game designed by Naughty Dog, published by Electronic Arts in 1989 for the Apple IIGS and then later ported to the Commodore Amiga and MS-DOS. The title character has a cameo appearance as a non-player character in another Naughty Dog game, Rings of Power for the Mega Drive.

    The Commodore Amiga and Apple IIGS versions of the game were reviewed in 1990 in Dragon #157 by Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk Lesser in "The Role of Computers" column. The reviewers normally gave a game a rating from 1 to 5 stars, but they gave the Apple II version of this game an "X" for "Not recommended" because of its antiquated copy-protection system.

    I noticed that you don't have Rings of Power (1991) on your master list, will you consider to add it? It was only released on Sega Mega Drive. I just watched youtube walkthrough clips and it is isometric role-playing video game.

    I found description of game online:

    Rings of Power is one of the rare isometric RPGs on SEGA Genesis (Megadrive in Europe) that is much more similar to computer RPGs than typical console fare. It also happens to be very good, as well as one of the longest RPGs ever made for consoles. Although not technically perfect, the game has its own charms and Your mission is to collect all 11 Rings of Power and use them to remake the Rod of Creation to restore the Golden Age of the realm. But first, you must assemble a party of 6 members, one from each class of magic users: Sorcerer (yourself), Knight, Archer, Conjuror, Necromancer, and Enchanter. This requires you to visit various villages and carry out tasks set by the head of each order. Once your group is complete, you can then embark on the proper quest.

    The game starts out slowly, but becomes quite addictive as your party grows bigger and more powerful. In this respect, Rings of Power is similar to Wizardry and Bard's Tale games. There is only a few types of monsters, but that doesn't take away from the fun since a lot of them are very hard to kill. The puzzles are also quite interesting - some even fascinating - even if most of them are variants of the "find item X and bring it to person Y" errand-boy puzzle. With a huge gameworld (over 40 hours of gameplay), interesting game mechanics, and a flurry of smaller innovations, Rings of Power is a charming RPG that truly breaks the mold on consoles.

    Too bad it was never made for PC (according to Naughty Dog's page, it actually was designed for PC until EA decided at the time that Genesis games made more money)

    So it was from start developed as PC game but EA decided to cancel PC version, and release only console port as main version. It is also second and final Naughty Dog CRPG game ever released.

    Emulator for Mega Drive isn't complicated and you can easy find a rom. Gens and Kega Fusion are the best emulators.

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    1. I have finished Keef the Thief. It's a mixed bag. It has some interesting innovations. It might become a bit mixed with Tangled Tales, but at least it's a more robust RPG.

      Rings of Power is one of my favourite games in terms of world exploration. Better than most Ultimas. I hope Chet plays it and I will make a loud - yet polite - case that he does!

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    2. Unless he breaks his rule of "never playing a console game" I don't see him playing Rings of Power.

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    3. Well he can always make exception :)

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    4. I do appreciate all the background, mpx, but if I ever do make an exception on consoles--which is unlikely--it'll be a one-shot for a real landmark game.

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    5. mpx, I remember reading a slight different story, where lead designers at Naughty Dog saw a Genesis prototype while visiting EA, and from that point they decided consoles were the way to go and shifted to console game development. Their current title, Rings of Power, was retasked to the Genesis. Given that, it's no wonder it feels more like a PC game than a console. I remember reading that the game is very open from the beginning.

      It's one of the game I'm definitely looking forward to playing through. With about 19 games in between my current and that one though, it'll be nearly a year. Maybe my writing will improve for you to enjoy my review at least.

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    6. Real landmark game: Dragon Warrior/Dragon Quest for the NES. This is a game series that everyone else has stolen from, and got so popular there is apparently a law in Japan banning it from releasing on a weekday, due to masses of students skipping school to line up and get the game.

      That or, you know, Final Fantasy.

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    7. That part about the restricted release date is an urban myth. Still super popular in Japan, but less so in the U.S.

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    8. Ah, OK. I'll stop spreading it then. I'm betting the company that makes Dragon Warrior doesn't do anything to discourage it, either.

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  7. Tangled Tales is listed under "Adventure/General" games at GameFAQs, for both the PC and C64 versions. I have a feeling that a year or two ago, you wouldn't have considered playing it.

    GameFAQs has long been a valuable resource to me, all the reviews and walkthroughs are written by gamers, and I think they do a great job of assigning games to the appropriate genres.

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    1. Sure, I would have. I've been playing everything that MobyGames, Wikipedia, or any reputable source tags as a CRPG.

      Unfortunately, GameFAQs joins a host of other sites in doing something that I find unforgivable: listing games for which they have no walkthroughs. Go on: Google "Tangled Tales walkthrough" right now, and you'll get hits from Gamewise, GameFAQs, GameSpot, MyCheats, GiantBomb, and a host of other sites--all of which, when you get there, simply say something like "we don't have anything yet. Be the first to contribute!" I was trying to find something that would tell me what would have happened if I'd saved up 990 gold pieces for Esmeralda, and it was maddening.

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    2. I can definitely understand your annoyance, Chet, but GameFAQs lists them because (I think) they try to include all games, even ones that no one has written a walkthrough for yet. Also, GameFAQs includes reviews, known cheat codes, images, and message boards among other features - for each game. It's more than just walkthroughs.

      I'm not defending, just trying to offer a possible reason.

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    3. GameFAQs doesn't list every game, as they have Star Saga One, but not Two... I'm still considering writing a walkthrough or guide myself, but I'm not sure it's worth the effort as so few people really seem interested in it. I need to finish my write up of the game from each character's perspective first.

      I think much like Mobygames, they rely on users to add the content instead of actively trying to grow their list.

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  8. Naughty Dog!

    Crash Bandicoot is what I immediately go to when I hear about Naughty Dog, but it's good to remember they made other things. It's just like with Blizzard and the fact that they made games like The Lost Vikings and Rock and Roll Racing in addition to Diablo and Warcraft.

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  9. I guess that box art should've been a red flag that this was going to be a goofy game.

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    1. Is the guy on the right holding a surf board?

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    2. He is, indeed. That would be Billy the Kid, who joined me in the last world with his pet goat, Mohawk hairstyle, and 1980s surfer-punk attitude.

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    3. Speaking of box art, Keef the Thief's box art isn't likely to inspire anymore confidence in the title for Chet, I'm afraid. :^)

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Keef_the_Thief_Cover.jpg

      (BTW, I'm honored by the mention above. Thanks!)

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  10. Chet I have one question to ask.

    Since you started playing CRPGs on non-PC platforms do you have in plan playing games games that were influenced by Ultima, Wizardry and other early CRPGs?

    Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest are games that were created because of popularity of Western RPGs and soon Japanese people were became crazy to RPGs.

    I was mindblown when I discovered that early JRPGs were made because of CRPGs. I always thought that Japanese RPGs had different evolution path but they origin was in influence of computer RPGs.

    I think that occasionally writing about this games will be nice addition to your blog.

    Btw in your master list I found that you have listed Suikoden II. AFAIK PC version of game was only released in China.. Its Konami JRPG from PS One and no English PC release.

    Disney's Dinosaur is adventure game and not CRPG - I don't know how the game found place on your list.

    Is this latest version of list or some old?

    Also on left side of blog where are rules

    2. Only games released for DOS or Windows.

    This isn't changed :)

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    1. Things can always change; however, I remember reading that Chet won't dip into console games for this blog. If he ever does, I'll probably stop my own efforts since I'm certain Chet would do a better job at covering the games.

      Chet knows he has a number of games only released in other languages, but he'll do his best to play through them anyway. He's leaving all games on his list and will address them at the time they come up for playing, like Girlfriend Construction Set (even though that was a small blurb about how unfit it was).

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    2. Well, Zenic has it right. I haven't updated the sidebar because I'm not 100% sure how my branching out into other platforms will affect my permanent approach. I have to filter the list SOMEHOW, or I'll never get out of the 1980s, so if it's not going to be "DOS/PC only," It's going to be "DOS/PC only unless I make a rare special exception."

      When I do make those special exceptions, it will almost certainly be for other personal computers. I don't have any real interest in getting into consoles. And I suspect I'm going to be hacking a lot of Japanese and Chinese games off my list in large chunks once I get to them and find them unplayable because of the language.

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    3. For the most part, I wouldn't worry about this decision. Although they have common roots (especially Wizardry/Ultima, as noted by OP), JRPGs and CRPGs took very different paths. Even today, there still isn't much cross-breeding. There are a few western games on PC that were somewhat JRPG-ish (Anachronox, Septerra Core); there are also a few western RPGs on console that are generally CRPG in genre, like Master of the Rings of Power (and, recently, AAA western RPGs); and there are even Japanese RPGs that take directly from CRPGs sources (like the Japanese Wizardry games). However, for the most part, these fuzzy games are rare. The two genres are quite distinct from one another.

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    4. Except Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest (Warrior only in US) were computer game (for Japanese computers), in fact, from what I hear, Final Fantasy didn't make full use of the NES because it was a port. Both series became console only because unpopularity of computer in Japan for a time.

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    5. There's a bunch of jrpg big hitters that crop up in english around the late 90's anyway (including the series that shall not be named), so it not like CRPG addict will get a free pass to avoid all the androgenous teen heroes and barglenosh dialogue...

      Curiously, a certain jrpg style of railroaded storytelling has crossed over into the crpg genre. The use of character focused stories, particularly ones where the player character plays a very specific role, have led to things like the infamous Bioware 'choice of one' dialogue, and the rise of level scaling content.

      In defense of the western console rpgs;- They're not always bad, some of them are actually better to play than the PC originals because they don't exactly 'dumb it down', instead they 'trim the fat' and cut out a lot of the repeatative clunky excess. If it means I don't have to spend half of Countdown to doomsday manually reloading guns and running back to tycho to refuel, I'll gladly give up the useless elements of the weapon list.

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    6. Once our dear addict has exhausted the other early non-dos computer games I wouldn't be surprised if he lifter his early console restrictions a bit. Much like he eventually lifted his restrictions for the plato and other systems.

      Really by that time it will probably be a refreshing break from all the diablo clones of the 90's, or clones from other era's. If he finishes his other computer list earlier, he may also find himself needing a break from some particular game that is wearing him down.

      On an aside non-DOS is kind of a misnomer as anything that ran off a disk was a DOS (disk operating system) as opposed to things running off a mainframe or fortran card. This is why you had competing brands that called themselves DOS back in the day.

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    7. Non-MSDOS then.

      Final Fantasy VII was on PC, wasn't it?

      And here I thought scaling monsters was so that you didn't get sick of being dragged into the battle screen to deal with two level 1 slimes when your level 39 party does a bit of back tracking to clear up a sidequest or something in the first town.

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    8. Yes; so was Final Fantasy VII, and both are on his list.

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    9. Half the fun of the game is going back to stomp on those lower level foes with Ultima and Bahamut.

      Scaling worlds screw up the sense of development, and tend to ruin or lessen my liking for a game.

      Delete
    10. I wouldn't mind a quick jump into major JRPGs (DQ 3 or 4, FF6, Chrono Trigger) just to round out the history, but, seeing how long they typically are, I somehow doubt we'll see anything like that.

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    11. It only takes 20 hours for Final Fantasy somethingorother to get GOOD....

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    12. That's because the standard jrpg formula takes 20 hours before they get around to taking the training wheels off and give you the ability to explore the game world (airship\dragon\flying muguffin)....

      A slightly redundant idea because the player has already visited most of the locations and solved all the quests during the introductory railroad tour.

      r.e. scaled content:- It works better with random encounters than fixed ones.

      For fixed encounters it's a safety net designed to prevent players making a mistake (and players don't like being told that they're wrong), however it kills any sense of progression. - If the monsters are going to level up with me, why should I bother to level up? In fact: Why even bother with the level up idea at all?

      It's nice to be allowed to make the mistake of walking into murdertown at level 1, because you get to come back later with a big stick. I want to be presented with a challenge I can rise to, because it's that sense of freedom and accountability for my actions that makes a CRPG for me.

      Delete
  11. Hey stop picking on the poor Penguin!

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  12. One of the creators is "Alex Duong Nghiem". I suspect that explains the inclusion of actual Vietnamese.

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  13. Yo homey, what happened to your jive-talking NPC? I suspect he had a lifespan just slightly longer than the red-shirted crewman on the original Star Trek's away missions.

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    Replies
    1. Remember the American movie trope: "Black Dude Dies First". And if not first, then almost always eventually.

      Delete
    2. Usually the black guy is the third. First there's the stupid alcoholic redneck, then there's the primitive sexist or racist guy. The last to die is the honourable, but flawed (usually bitterness) character who sacrifices himself so that the hero and heroine (the two most attractive and flawless characters) can survive.

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    3. As scream 2 pointed out;- the horror\monster genre excluded African Americans from the lead role, and that's the only person who's likely to survive to see the credits.

      The numbers don't really back up the tropes. Statistically speaking it's white males who have the shortest life expectancy (it may have more to do with casting than anything else).

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    4. Victor: Have you normalized those numbers to account for the fact more white characters are in films?

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    5. Empire ran a feature a few years back, and even if you account for the fact that there's more white males in western horror movies they still tend to die first (and second).

      Curiously; It's actually Asians (males more than females) who are most likely to die in proportion to number of roles cast in western horror movies.

      If you're black in a horror movie you are very likely to die, however any token minority (social or racial) cast in horror movies tends to end up dirtnapping before the credits role.

      In terms of characters that survive, it's white females all the way (unless they're blond), followed by white males, however as I already pointed out that's down to the casting bias of the lead roles during the genres heyday.

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  14. Wow, this game seemed like kind of a chore. Skip! Too bad, because it looks quite intriguing, but the non-interactive and non-tactical battles, almost nonexistent economy, and a distinct lack of meaningful equipment choices are big black marks against this one. Your GIMLET was actually higher than I expected.

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  15. I was entinced by your review to play this gem of a game, thank you!
    Also, I think I've lost a magic dagger in the lizardmen's king cave, meaning that I killed the king but died nevertheless and was resurrected by the archmage, and when I got back there, the dagger was absent.
    Do you think it's possible to recover it somehow, without restarting the game?

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    Replies
    1. I don't imagine it is, but it's been a while since I played the game, and I don't really remember all of the mechanics.

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  16. Gah, really curious on what happens if you can get the mysteries of the universe... tried searching the net and there is little out there was surprised no one has made a walkthrough for this game. Interesting enough there is a lot of ppl on tangled tales forum on gamefaqs but seems to be used as a meeting place and not related to the game... weird.

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  17. You probably forgot about this, but the "secret of the universe" is: "The cube root of three is 1,4422!"

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    Replies
    1. I absolutely had not forgotten. Thanks for giving us the answer! I would have been annoyed if I saved up that much money for so little result, though in some ways I would have expected it given the game's sense of humor.

      Delete
    2. I am glad to help, even more so as I really enjoy reading this blog :)

      Just wondering, there are few thing which remain mystery for me even after winning the game, so maybe you, or somebody other, know the answers.
      The first is the chest in Xavier's room that can't be opened nor moved (it says something about working out in the gym when tried to be moved). Is there a key which can be obtained by slaying Xavier (I never managed to do that)?

      The second one is the farm on the second level. There is a living house there which can't be entered, as the farmer's wife just throw my characters out. Is there something I might have been missing? Also, there are two animals (dog and pig) on the farm, but I guess they are just for the show, without any other purpse.

      Thanks in advance.

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