Monday, January 26, 2015

Hard Nova: Hard Start

Preparing to enter a stargate as hostile ships approach.

The beginning of Hard Nova is difficult enough that I feel like I must be missing something, though I've pored through the documentation several times and I'm not seeing any hints. The essential problem is that the first quest is nearly impossible for an early-level character, but I've found only one opportunity for grinding experience, and no opportunities to upgrade equipment even though I can make plenty of cash.

When I closed the first post, I was prepared to spend some time in the "robomaze" on the opening base to grind for experience and gold. It turned out to be a decent place for experience grinding, but there was really no way to make money because I spent way more on entry fees (which increase with every level) and ammunition than the "bronze flags" restored.

After I gained a couple of levels and was almost out of money, I decided to head to the Starkiller base for my first assignment. I landed at the base (the "D" key was what I was missing before), which was a small structure with a shop and three NPCs: a human communications technician named Janai, a "Darcator" (flying species that looks like a manta ray) named Leod; and the "highest visible official" in the Starkillers group, Gerard Kendall.

Kendall ribbed me about the way I've been treating the ship he gave me and then gave me my first quest: a water tanker was hijacked somewhere near Ciberan and was last seen heading towards the stargate. He wanted me to get aboard and wipe out the thieves without damaging the ship.

Accepting the first quest.

(Incidentally, I got the impression from the backstory that Nova had joined the Starkillers after they rescued her from the disaster that killed most of her crew. But the dialogue makes it seem like Nova was already a member, and she was on a Starkiller mission when it happened.)

The Darcator Starkiller member indicates that he knew me before the disaster.

The map showed that Ciberan was two stargates away from the opening Mastassini system. I followed it to find the location of the gates and jumped through with no problem. The Ciberan system was swarming with hostile ships that surrounded and destroyed me if I went too far from the gate.

This really didn't work out for me.

I located and boarded the water tanker, which is when it became clear that I would need to do a lot more grinding before I'd succeed at the mission. The enemies killed me almost instantaneously, and even when I tried to isolate them and take them on one-by-one, my weapons damaged them slower than their bodies healed the damage (more on that below). I was also nearly out of fuel by this point, and didn't have enough money to re-fuel, so clearly I needed a new strategy.

I got this screen a lot in the first few hours.

Let's talk about the combat mechanics before I get into the rest of the adventure. Neither ground combat nor space combat have advanced significantly since Sentinel Worlds, where they both sucked. In ground combat, you basically use two keys: SPACE to select your target and ENTER to fire. NPCs attack automatically. Or, at least Ace does. A'kri's only skill is with melee weapons, and since characters never break formation, you have to walk right up to an enemy before he'll attack.

Combat occurs in real time, though the PC, each enemy, and each NPC, has to take a timed break between attacks dependent on his or her "Agility" score. Health--both yours and the enemy's--regenerates quite quickly in real-time (it did in Sentinel Worlds, too, but you had to have a doctor in the party), so combat is only dangerous on an individual-enemy basis. Essentially, you have to do enough consistent damage to overwhelm his regeneration process to kill him, and he has to do enough damage to overwhelm your regeneration process to be dangerous to you. If you can survive a single enemy or group of enemies in the same area, you just have to wait a bit to get back to full strength. Since enemies (and the party) can't shoot through doors, if you can put a door between you and the foes and stand right next to it, they can't enter and you can heal as long as you need to.

I'm safe as long as I stand behind this doorway.

Thus, the only "tactic" I can discern is to try to isolate enemies. This is hard, because they wander around randomly even when engaged in active combat (this is the second game in a row where this happens) and will happily wander on- and off-screen while you're trying to kill them.

Enemies don't seem to respawn when you move on- or off-screen, but they do respawn if you hit the F10 key to save the game, at least in the robomaze. Sometimes, they respawn right next to you, in large groups. In the case of the robomaze, where I'm trying to gain experience, I guess this is a good thing.

Your ability scores affect two major combat factors: how often you can fire (there's a small delay between moments where you can press the ENTER key) and your accuracy, represented as a score between 0 and 100%. Damage seems to depend solely on the type of weapon. I've noted that increases in both the "Firearms" and "Tactics" skills increase my accuracy. A higher "Agility" reduces the delay.

This shot shows that at my current ability level, I hit 55% of the time and do 4-12 damage. I don't know how the speed actually translates to seconds-between-shots, but more speed is better.

Space combat isn't much more sophisticated. You use SPACE to target a foe, G to fire lasers, and ENTER to fire missiles. Lasers consume fuel; missiles are in limited supply but cost on a small amount to re-stock. The prime difficulty of space combat is that the window is extremely small and the enemies move extremely fast. It's nearly impossible to keep them on the screen, and I can't even begin to target missiles effectively. [Edit: As Redleg_FAO reminds, there is a "shadow" option that keeps your ship flying close to the target. This does make tracking ships a bit easier.] (Missiles always fire from the front of the ship, but lasers just automatically target the enemy.) The "Star Gunner" skill for anyone assigned to the "gunner" position seems to govern accuracy in space combat.

The ship is damaged a lot in space combat, and so far I don't have an engineer to effect quick repairs. Fortunately, repairing at a space station doesn't cost very much--considerably less than replenishing fuel. So far in the game, I've defeated a couple of hostile ships in combat (and had to reload after getting killed by a lot more), but you don't get any money for it, so I'm not sure if there's any point until I get an explicit mission that requires me to fight ships. I guess maybe the gunner gets some experience.

Buying repairs at a space station. Everything but "Avionics" needs to be fixed.

I'm a little confused about how experience is allocated. The manual only says that each character gets experience by "succeeding in combat" or "in the performance of duties on the spacecraft." The former is the more obvious; it seems to be awarded to the character who makes the kill. The latter is a little more nebulous. A'kri's one duty on the spacecraft is to navigate stargates, but he doesn't seem to gain experience when we go through them.

Leveling up allows you to allocate a handful of points to your abilities. The number of points you get for each level seems to be governed by the "Aptitude" ability, so I've been putting one point into that at each level and then distributing the rest as makes the most sense, mostly in ground combat skills. I'm trusting that I'll eventually find another NPC with high "Mechanics" and "Electronics" skills, or else I'm in trouble.

Nova after this session. I really hope I didn't need to be investing in some of the other abilities yet.

Based on my failure in the first mission, I knew I'd need to increase that accuracy and speed of my guns. It also would have been nice to get another NPC--someone who could relieve the useless A'kri on the ground party. And I would have liked some better weapons and armor. The problems were that a) I didn't have any money for better weapons; b) the only two shops I've found, on the opening base and the Starkiller base, don't sell better weapons or armor; c) I don't know where to find more NPCs; and d) the only place I know to grind against enemies is in the robomaze.

The only one of these problems I was able to successfully solve is the first one. Each space station offers a group of lucrative "smuggling missions" by which you agree to accept a certain cargo, then fly it to a specified set of coordinates on another planet, at which point you're immediately paid. These are analogs to the "science foundation" quests of Sentinel Worlds.

Accepting a smuggling mission.

The most lucrative of the bunch pays $29,000 to smuggle fuel cells to Ciberan. I had already been to the area, so I knew it was hard, but not impossible. The only danger comes once you exit the second stargate and hostile ships start attacking. My strategy was to ramp up to max speed, blow past them, and quickly enter the planet's orbit. At that point, you're "safe." The specific set of coordinates where I had to drop the supplies was blocked by a "drop shield," but it was easy enough to go to a more remote set of coordinates, drop, and then fly to the supply zone. 

Reaching the drop point. There's nothing visual there, but the text at the top tells me to unload the cargo.
After the mission, I had to spend a lot of money on fuels and repairs, but I still made about $24,000 net. I repeated this a few times, interspersed with less dangerous missions, and soon had more than $100K--a nice bank for ship upgrades and equipment upgrades, if only I could find a store that sells the latter. I did buy an "A7 comet beam" for my ship, which is supposed to be the best laser weapon.

The obvious thing to do was to explore random worlds looking for NPCs, combats, and shops, but the worlds are quite large, and it seems unlikely that I'll find anything by flying around randomly. From space, there don't seem to be any beacons that show you the locations of settlements (or maybe I just need a higher "Star Comm" skill first?). Also, in a comment, Dariel says that visiting locations before the plot sends you there can break the game. I scoured the documentation looking for some list of coordinates for cities and bases, but I don't see anything.

With nothing else to do, I just spent a lot of time grinding in the robomaze, especially since I have plenty of money for ammo and entry fees. Leveling slowed down quickly, though, and the robots were insanely boring even with The Rockford Files playing in the background. By the time Nova reached Level 7, I'd had more then enough. I decided it was time to try the first quest again.

Grinding in this area is very boring.

I flew back to Ciberan space, found the tanker, and boarded, saving just inside the door. It took me several re-loads, but I was finally able to clear out the opening area, which had 3 enemies, which gave me some breathing room to engage the rest of the ship. Unfortunately, it soon became clear that I didn't have nearly enough ammo for the mission. I had to abort, head back to the opening base, and fill every empty slot in both individual inventories and the party's "pool" inventory with magazines.

Returning to the ship, I was surprised and happy to see that the enemies already slain hadn't respawned. The rest of the enemies, while not impossible, were very annoying. They kept ducking into single-square rooms in the middle of combat, regenerating health while I was powerless to kill them. The enemy AI in the game is maddening. They just move randomly. They don't advance, so you can't lure them. They don't retreat. They just bumble about. In an area with a lot of doors, which cut off your ability to hit them, it's infuriating.

Enemies hiding in little cells where I can't get them.

But eventually I picked them off, and on the bridge, I found my first weapon upgrade, a "SMG-70X," along with a belt of ammo.

Equipping my new, slightly-better weapon.

The captain of the hijackers was by himself, unmoving, in a room where only one character could fit through the door. With my new SMG, I was able to kill him with only about 5 reloads. Once he was dead, I had the option to take his head as proof of completion of the mission.

I returned to Kendall, who was unhappy with my choice of "proof," but he gave me the $5,000 reward and told me to "go smuggle or something" until he called again. I hope that's soon, because otherwise I really don't know what to do except go out and make a lot of cash that I can't spend.

A somewhat realistic reaction to being given a bloody, severed head.

A few other notes:

  • Death is gruesome and permanent. Since there are a limited number of NPCs in the game and you want to preserve those with special skills, it's also an occasion for an immediate re-load.

  • Dariel mentioned that there are abandoned military bases on Holbrook that you can explore. Flying my hovercraft randomly, I did discover one, but it just contained rooms full of ammunition for weapons I didn't have. Easier to do smuggling missions than to pick up and sell all of these.

Okay, granted, this would come in handy now, but this was before I found the SMG.
  • When I entered one sector of space, the "Glorious world of Ariel" demanded a $16,508 tribute. I refused, and I didn't notice any changes in the number of hostile ships.

The second game in a row where navigation success rests on differentiating between colors of tiny dots.

Thus ends my first quest in Hard Nova. Given the sophomoric combat system and facepalm-inducing dialogue, I don't have a lot of high hopes for this one. (Leveling up is, admittedly, satisfying and instantly-rewarding.) Here's hoping the plot, at least, turns out to be better than Sentinel Worlds.
At least this game avoids the trope in which you're wondering why your character is running around doing side quests when there's a pressing main quest to do. Now, if there were only some side quests.
In other news, I was going to offer a bonus post on the Intellivision Swords & Serpents (1982). I saw that if I completed it, I would have played every western-released RPG, computer and console, through 1982. Moreover, there aren't any more console-only RPGs in the west until 1987, and there's only one that year; the next one is in 1990. [Edit: As the discussion made clear, I was misreading my own data. I should have said "there aren't any more console-only RPGs released by a western developer," not "released in the west."] Anyway, I downloaded it and played it for a bit, and it appears to me that it's not an RPG at all. It offers no character development, combat seems to be all action-based, and the only "inventory" is treasures that you collect for a score. It's basically an arcade game or an early version of Gauntlet. If anyone has any experience with the game and can refute this, I'm listening, but otherwise I'll conclude that I have played all western RPGs through 1982 (barring ones that no longer exist in playable form).


  1. 1. The abandoned military base you found on Holbrook has one weapon on it amidst all that ammo, and it's a pretty nice one.

    2. The main trading settlements on planets have special bright dots that indicate them. Like the red dot on Mastani that indicated the Malibu complex and the red dot on Holbrook that indicated Starkiller HQ. Only sometimes you get a bright blue dot against a medium blue background instead of a bright red dot against a dark blue background.

    3. Aptitude is the worst idea in an otherwise pretty good levelling system, because it frontloads levelling with a lot of tedious grinding to raise your Aptitude to max before you raise anything else.

    1. Really? I scanned some planets for different coloring or shading in the terrain, but every time I visited, I was just at the peak of the countours or something. I guess I'll try again.

    2. There are 3 bases on the Starkiller's home planet, one for each Merc company. Though, if you visit, be ready for a fight.

    3. Rouyn and Cascade don't have anything visible on the surface and Ciberan's dot is directly adjacent to its shielded area which makes it practically invisible.

  2. Any relation to the NES game Swords and Serpents? Because that's actually a really good game.

    1. No, they seem to have nothing to do with each other.

    2. The NES Swords & Serpents is a bare-bones dungeon crawl of an RPG. I wouldn't call it a "really good game" even by the standards of its time. Possibly a "mediocre game", if you like dungeon crawls.

    3. As a console dungeon crawl in 1990 it actually is a really good game; it strips out most of the clunky menus that ports like The Bard's Tale had, making it ideal for an NES controller. Those other games often had crippling bugs, like Wizardry on the NES not taking AC into account. So yes, really good game fits considering the conditions it came out in.

    4. Not to mention that Swords and Serpents may have the best television commercial of any dungeon crawl CRPG of the 1980s!

  3. I'm fairly certain (though it has been ridiculous amounts of time since I last played) that you can split your allies' formation.

    Also, to save the wonder: experience comes from success. You can hit something as often as you like, have it regenerate as you go, and level up without ever killing it. (This is abusable.) You can technically lose NPCs despite their rarity - but you're really doing the right thing, as if A'kri dies it's a virtual game over.

    1. So...experience is awarded for every successful attack, rather than the actual death of the enemy?

    2. I'm playing through it now and I'm positive you can't split your group. Although you can do stuff like swap trail and point's positions with a wiggle in place by backpedalling.

      You really should take A'kri out of your ground crew, he's not doing anything there except making it easier for you to lose (since enemies only have to kill him to make you reload, and he has worse armor and stats than your other characters..)

    3. Not quite true, at least one character has the ability to go split from the group and wreck havoc be itself. I think F8 to scout does the trick.

    4. Yeah, I know it sounds weird, Chet, but it's true.

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      Fairly certain that while always fast (combat never having amazing amounts of strategy), it should at least playable though. If you're finding combats lead to deaths with characters that have armour equipped in literal seconds, you probably need to fiddle with the cycles under dosbox further.

    5. It appears you can split the group if you have a "Darcator scout" or a droid. I don't have either yet, so I haven't been able to check this out. Pressing F8 with a regular character doesn't accomplish anything, and in any event, I don't think that even when I have a scout or droid, you can split the group in combat, which was my point above.

      Aperama, that sounds a bit like "playing like a jackass," but if I decide I don't care about the game or any semblance of role-playing, I'll think about resorting to it.

  4. it says press (U) to unload :) hope that helps.

    1. Thanks. I could see it well enough in the screenshot, just not while I was actually playing.

    2. I meant the other way around on that.

  5. Ok, if you need to grind XP for free, just attack the hovercrafts outside the robomaze base. The gunner on the landing craft will get tons of XP and only one enemy will actually fight back. 10-20 minutes should have you set for the foreseeable future. Technically all the hovercrafts there are "enemies" at least in the sense that they are competing mercs.

    1. This is a little more justifiable in a role-playing sense than Aperama's suggestion.

    2. Enh RP-wise I would expect about 1/3 of the hovercrafts on Mastani (sp?) to be friendly Starkiller craft the same way 1/3 of the spaceships in that system are Starkiller ships. You can't really tell though.

  6. Been a long time since I played this game...but I think I recall a black market weapons shop someplace. I recall grinding up my money by running smuggling missions and then buying some sweet weapons for the characters that I pretty much used for most of the game, up until I got close to the end.

  7. If the combat seems too fast it might have to do with emulation settings since many games actually run too fast on an emulator if you let them.

    It was often this way with real amiga; same game ran slower/normal speed with A500 and was sometimes almost unplayable with the more powerful A1200.

    1. I don't think that's the problem here. If I slow down the speed, my own ship just gets sluggish. Contemporary reviews also mentioned that the other ships were too fast, and Sentinel Worlds had the same issue.

    2. Agreed. I have my DOSBox speed configured so that ground combat is paced correctly, and this results in space combat zipping like described.

  8. I'm sorry, but there's one thing that I still haven't understood.
    Is the combat in this game in real-time or turn-based?

    1. It's real time. I should have added that term to my description.

  9. Seriously, Chet, are you sure A'kri should even be in ground combat? You'd be better off recruiting a young upstart with no skill but plenty of potential growth than an alien whose one and only forte is space navigation. Also, A'kri must not die if you want to win the game since there will be certain areas you can't reach without his special race-specific skill.

    1. No, he absolutely shouldn't be there. I just haven't been able to find anyone else to replace him yet.

      I was wrong about the "young upstart" on the first base; he isn't actually a joinable NPC. If you say yes to him, he pretends he's going to go "get his stuff" and join the party, but he never does.

      I've been reloading on any character death, so it's not a danger that A'kri will die permanently. But I do need to get him out of the ground party since he can't do anything but suck up damage.

  10. If the ships zoom by too fast, does Hard Nova use the 'S' for shadowing another ship command? That was the only way to effectively engage in space combat in Sentinel Worlds. Zoom close enough to target, hit S to match speed and course, fiddle with your targeting (engines, weapons, etc) until the enemy was disabled or destroyed.

    1. Yeah, you can shadow. But even target-selecting your enemy to do that is a minor hassle, especially when you have to do it for each enemy in a swarm of 7-8 fighters.

    2. I never really had a problem, early game you don't ever need to fight a swarm and late game your programmer has buffed you so hard that everything is a breeze. Saving the money to gear up in the mid game was my only problem.

    3. I totally forgot about that. It does work, and it does indeed help a little, just like it did in SW. It's still a pretty sucky space combat system, though.

    4. At least you have a little extra decision making in the form of launching missiles and toggling anti-missile counters. But yeah it's dumb that the maneuvering only works on automatic and that automatic is a hassle to turn on. It's like, if you can't make that aspect of the combat worth messing with, just automate it completely and focus on the parts that the player is actually going to fiddle with.

    5. I found that copying the signature of a ship was enough to run must blockades without significant damage, if that helps. I don't think I actually fought any large space battles until I had the best gear.

  11. 100% agreed that the Intellivision Swords & Serpents isn't a RPG, but more of a proto-Gauntlet. As I mentioned in the Treasure of Tarmin comments, the only other Intellivision RPG besides the two you've covered is Tower of Doom.

    On a related note, I'm astonished to learn that there's only one console-only RPG in the West between 1982 and 1990, but as I think about it, it certainly makes sense. I'm guessing that the game in question is Tower of Doom, then? Brilliant if so!

    1. It is indeed Tower of Doom. It's possible I'm wrong about that statement, as I wasn't nearly as fastidious recording console RPGs and people haven't been sending me the same kinds of additions and corrections that they did with computer RPGs.

    2. The only pre-1990 NES RPGs that I'm aware of are Dragon Warrior/Quest, Final Fantasy I and possibly Hydlide (the RPG credentials of this are somewhat questionable), The first two did receive Japan-only PC releases on the MSX, and Hydlide was a port from a computer. Given that the NES was the first console that really had the power to handle a full-fledged RPG (the Intellivision came close, but the RPGs for the system were rather limited in capability, and the only reason anyone would consider Dragon Stomper an RPG would be to confirm the arrogant elitist assumption that console RPGs are garbage), I don't find it unlikely that there are no others.

    3. As I mentioned below, there's one possible exception that comes to mind -- Phantasy Star on the Master System. (I cited Phantasy Star II on Genesis, but that wasn't out until 1990.)

      I see that someone may have done a homebrew DOS version -- at least, if the YouTube video I spotted was authentic -- but was there an official port of the first Phantasy Star game?

    4. I tend to forget that the Master System existed (and, consequently, that the Phantasy Star series didn't start on Genesis) unless reminded, as it was a fairly obscure console. That said, I can't find any PC version (Japanese or otherwise) of the first Phantasy Star game, so that would count as a console-only game in 1988.

    5. Noman: This a total digression, but I tend to forget that Master System didn't do well in the US. It sold well enough in Finland that I even vaguely remember Alex Kidd. NES apparently did really poorly outside NA and Japan (8.56 million shipped total, whereas in 1989 alone 9.2 million sold in NA []).

      Still, home computers were by far more popular, at least in my experience. I recall it being touted that Finland had the highest C64 per capita in the world sometime in the late 1980ies. In the 16-bit era with Mega Drive and SNES consoles started to do better, but Amiga and later PCs were still the dominant gaming platforms until the Playstation era.

    6. Oh, hell. I see the mistake I made. It was late, I was tired, and I forgot that the "country" field in my sheet is just the country of origin, not the only country in which the game was released. What the data really says is that between 1982 and 1990, there was only one console-only RPG from a western developer, not "released in the west."

    7. Isn't it wonderful to have people picking apart everything you say?

    8. Hell, yes. It's better to have stated the right thing than to be misquoted at another site.

    9. @CRPG Addict: That makes total sense, of course. But it's also interesting to me that the only Japanese RPG I can come up that was (a) released in the West before 1990 and (b) wasn't also on a Japanese computer is the first Phantasy Star game. (I don't think Zelda, Zelda II, or Deadly Towers count.)

      So unless there's something I'm overlooking on the Turbografx-16 front (I don't think so), maybe your "mistake" only missed the mark by one game?

      I can't think of anything else on other consoles. There was an unreleased ColecoVision game called Lord of the Dungeon, but nothing on the Atari 7800. If you're seeing anything else on your list, I'd be curious as to what it is!

    10. Anonymous, I don't mind being corrected when I'm wrong as long as 1) I'm actually wrong; 2) the correction doesn't depend on some pedantic nonsense (cf. the "couldn't care less"/"could care less" thread); and 3) the comment that corrects me doesn't start with "actually."

    11. From Chrontendo: "Hydlide Special -- The first Japanese RPG, a port of a 1985 MSX game. While some folks refer to Black Onyx as the first Japanese RPG, that game was designed by an American, and was intended to closely mimic the style of such games as Wizardry. Hydlide took Ultima 3, simplified the gameplay, improved the graphics, removed many of the RPG-ish elements, such as character classes and most of the stats, and made all the characters looks short and stubby. Hydlide is virtually unplayalbe by today's standards, and was eclipsed by the superior and enormously popular Dragon Quest, but it was the first of its kind."

      So Hydlide was on a Japanese computer system, the MSX, and you've probably missed Black Onyx, which was designed by an American.

      Dr. Sparkle's post on Dragon Warrior also mentions a previous Japanese computer RPG named Dragon Slayer you might want to look into.

      "Dragon Quest

      [Level 19? Don't even think about going into that castle yet, boy.]

      Duh. What else could it be? While there had been several prior RPGs released in Japan for the PC-88 and MSX computers (Dragon Slayer, Black Onyx, Hydlide), it was DQ that really laid down the rules for Japanese RPGs. The basic gameplay and plot of DQ was derived from Richard Garriot's Ultima III: Exodus, yet DQ manages to feel completely different than existing American RPG video games. Yuji Horii, Akira Toriyama and Chunsoft manage to create a game that would appeal to the typical Japanese anime fan, rather than the 16-sided die crowd. Their effort paid off: Dragon Quest would sell a million and a half copies, and future entries in the series would rack up even more impressive sales."

      Possible RPG: Valkyrie no Bouken (I'll have to rewatch Chrontendo 9 to check; Reply to this comment and I'll do so and see if it fits your criteria). It apparently borrows heavily from Ultima 3, so it might.

      Here is one you should probably know about:
      Deep Dungeon (1986)

      RPG's are still relatively rare on the Famicom, even as RPG elements are becoming increasingly common. The first in a series of four games, Humming Bird Soft's Deep Dungeon is a straight up US style first-person RPG ala Wizardry. Taking place entirely inside a single dungeon, you control a lone adventurer who battles monsters one at a time, turn-based style. While not getting lost in the labyrinthine dungeon (hint: break out the pencil and graph paper for this one), your hero rummages through piles of trash looking for valuables. While RPGs don't really get any more basic than this, Deep Dungeon will please fans of old-school dungeon crawling action.

    12. Oh, also 1986:
      The Legend of Zelda 2 - Link no Bouken/Zelda 2 - The Adventures of Link
      [...]The sequel adds some RPG elements - experience points, spells, random monster attacks, villages, NPCs that request your assistance - while removing the money and shops.[...]

      Dragon Quest II/Dragon Warrior II
      The inevitable sequel to Chunsoft/Enix's suprsise hit of 1986, Dragon Quest II was an even bigger success, selling around 2 and a half million copies in Japan. Later games would sell even more, resulting in DQ becoming perhaps the biggest video game franchise in Japan. In the 1987 the concept of a sequel to a video game was still a little fuzzy; video games with actual plots being a recent development. Unlike Zelda 2, DQ II is everything you could want in a sequel. It fixed many of the frustrating things in the first DQ, and then improved and expanded upon the things in DQ that made that first game so unique. The major change is the increase of the number of characters from one to three and that multiple enemies are faced in each battle. This makes DQ II's battles require a bit more strategy, as you need to decide which monsters to attack first, how many characters to use offensively versus for support, and whether you want to spend valuable magic points on offensive spells to soften enemies up. Magic plays a much bigger role in this game, but still feels underpowered. There are no really powerful offensive magic spells; the closest DQ II comes to a Nuke spell is Explodet, which does decent damage, but misses with alarming freuency (hitting 1 or 0 enemies out of 3 or 4 is not uncommon).

      Esper Dream:
      Konami's first RPG was released three weeks after Draqon Quest II, and while it pales next to Enix's title, it is an intriguing game which can be appreciated by English speaking gamers thanks to an unoffical translation. Esper Dream is an action RPG in which enemies are visible on the overworld, but still uses a separate battle screen, similar to Ultima III. [...]

      Deep Dungeon II: Yuushi no Monshou

    13. Hardcore Gaming 101 places the first Japanese RPG as Dragon Lair from 1981 for the PC-8001 and FM-7.

    14. Square's first console RPG, Cleopatra no Mahou, is a bit of a disaster. It serves as a painful reminder that not every Square game was designed by Hironobu Sakaguchi. Cleopatra is actually an unsuccessful attempt to meld an RPG with the Japanese menu based adventure game. Grinding becomes much more tedious that normal when you are required to select a "move" option from the menu every time want to take a step forward.

      Ehhh, I can see why you don't want to play every console RPG, most of the NES ones would drive you mad.

      Arabian Dream Scheherazade/Magic of Scheherazade: You have a part of TWELVE characters in it!?

      Digitial Devil Story: Megami Tensei: The first game in an RPG series that is still coming out with sequels today. That would make it the second longest running console RPG series of all time after Dragon Quest, and only a bit behind Ultima (If you count it as still ongoing).

      SWAT: Seems to be an RPG about a swat team?

      Zoids: An RPG about mechanical dinosaurs.

      Hoshi no Miru Hito: A wildly ambitious science fiction RPG.

      Ultima: Exodus: Based on Ultima III

      Momotarou Densetsu: Dragon Quest knock-off.

      Sword of Kalin: Actually translated into English!

      Minelvaton Saga: It seems 1987-1988 had a TON of these things.

      Indora no Hikari
      Haja no Fuuin

      ....OK, I REALLY get why you don't want to open the console can of worms. Let me know if you want me to watch the relevant episodes of Chrontendo for any of them and see if they had English releases, and if they fit your definition of an RPG. (My girlfriend is visiting her family, and I'm done classes for the semester, and don't have enough time to do many reactions before I go see mine, so I've got more time free. As demonstrated by this lunch break).

    15. Went foward a bit to see what year we are at: End of 1987.

      Artelius Nutty space RPG from Nichibutsu featuring Star Raiders style battles.

  12. "Moreover, there aren't any more console-only RPGs in the west until 1987, and there's only one that year; the next one is in 1990."

    I can't see how you could come to that conclusion, it doesn't jibe with my own experience back during those years.

    1. I'm just basing it on the list of games on my master list that I got from Wikipedia and MobyGames. Could you elaborate on your "own experience"? What console RPG is the exception to the statement?

    2. My assumption is that he's counting Japanese computer releases of many prominent late-1980s games. Dragon Warrior, Final Fantasy, Hydlide -- all came out on Japanese computers in addition to their console releases.

      The one I'm not sure about is Phantasy Star and its sequel. Miracle Warriors, at least, was a computer game, but I don't know of Japanese computer versions of Phantasy Star. That is, unless I'm misunderstanding the Addict's premise.

    3. Clarity given the crosspost: "he" in the above post = the CRPG Addict, not Anonymous.

  13. When your in the robomaze it says to find secret doors to move to the next level. Have you figured out how because I can't for the life of me find one. It seems like you could at least break even on ammo and cost if you could do a lot of levels to get at least 10 flags.

    1. Is there no way to edit comments when you miss use your for you're and make your self look like you're and idiot?

    2. F6 changes the interface to "room mode". You have to be in "room mode" when standing in the right square and a "Press (A) to use secret entrance" or similar message will show up. The entrance to level two is on a square that looks a little different than the rest of the floor so it's actually not that hard to find. (It's in the NW corner.)

    3. Thanks, I actually just found it about half an hour ago before you replied.

      This game has an awful interface, not a huge fan of the combat but I think it would be a fun little game if it had a better interface. As is it feels like a fight to get anything done.

  14. Crazy thought, but if you got a red and a green color filter, you could probably use them to determine which dots were which. Would still be a little awkward, but easier than guessing...


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