Friday, May 29, 2015

Eye of the Beholder: Made it this Far

Thanks, but who wrote this?

Two more levels mostly down! I realized just before I started writing this that I have no idea how many levels the game has. I've been assuming 10, but I don't know why--just standard RPG convention, I guess. For all I know it has 30. But given my characters' experience levels, which are all 6-7 out of a maximum of 10-12, I assume that I'm about half done.

Levels 5 and 6 have taken me about 3-4 hours each, which means I've put in the equivalent of a full day's work on Eye of the Beholder within the past two days. Not the best time management going on in Chetland, but the whole ratio is going to get flipped next week, so I figure I'd better play while I can.

There wasn't going to be an image for a little while, so I thought I'd throw in this one of memorizing mage spells.
        
Most important thing first: MOZA's "word of warning" about keys and locks came too late. There's an area of Level 4, accessible only from Level 5, that requires a dwarven key, and I'm out. I've now gotten into the habit of trying to pick every lock before using a key, but if there's anything vital behind that door, you'd better give me an explicit spoiler so I can start over. (I don't mind the prospect very much. With the maps already made, I think I can breeze through the levels.)

After the last post, I dragged my party all the way back up to Level 1, hoping I could figure out what the "special quests" are for Levels 1 and 3 (I figured out Level 2 on my own--it was pretty obvious). I got absolutely nowhere. Nor did I discover the special quests on Level 4 or 5. I got Level 6, covered below.

This is a secret button. Given how small and camouflaged it is, I'm not surprised I missed some stuff on previous levels.
          
Level 5 was a pretty easy level--just a handful of giant spiders--but it introduced a lot more plot. As I entered one large area, I was greeted by Armun, "spokesman" for his dwarven clan, which is descended from the clan that built the halls. Generations ago, monsters had driven the dwarves out of the dungeon, "into the realms of men and elves," but recently King Teirgoh gathered his people in an effort to reclaim them. (This plot seems vaguely familiar.) Unfortunately, as they explored, Drow (led by someone named Shindia) charged out of one of the stone portals and attacked the dwarves. King Teirgoh was poisoned, his son Prince Keirgar was kidnapped, and now the dwarves don't even know how to get out of the halls.

          
For some reason, the game didn't allow me to say, "Just go up yonder stairs," and instead prompted me to agree to help rescue Prince Keirgar. In response, Armun gave us a stone medallion and gave us the use of their cleric. Finally, I was joined by yet another dwarf fighter, Dohrum, who I also didn't have a lot of use for. As I did with his compatriot, I just gave him a missile weapon to fight from the rear. I'll hold onto these two until I find a mage or cleric among the other NPCs.

Dohrum joins the group. Pretty good stats.
       
There were miscellaneous dwarves wandering around the area, and there didn't seem to be any way to talk to them (dialogue pops up automatically when you enter a talkative NPC's square). I also had to be careful not to accidentally hit them. It rather reminded me of the dwarven city in Might & Magic II, where the errant press of a button could have the entire place charging you.

It soon became clear why I might want to haul around the remains of found adventurers: the dwarven cleric is capable of raising the dead. I gave him the set of bones I had, and they resolved into a woman named Anya. Alas, she was not a vengeance demon, but rather a regular fighter. Since I already had two of those, I rejected her, and she disappeared. It doesn't appear that there's any way to keep rejected or dropped NPCs around.

You're confused, Anya. You died fighting Turok-Han sent by the First Evil.
      
Between Armun and his gift, I solved the two mysterious from Level 4. The "Oracle" is activated by a black orb, which I imagine I'll find later. As for the stone portal, I found a similar one on Level 5, but the Level 5 portal had a symbol that the Level 4 one had lacked: a stone medallion. Meanwhile, the portal on Level 5 was missing an image of a stone necklace that the Level 4 portal had. It didn't take much effort to realize that the key to activating the portals was to place the "missing" piece on top of it.

Activation is accompanied by a pretty cool animation.
             
The portal takes me to a dark room full of other portals. I have no idea what level it's on. In addition to the medallion and necklace, I have two other pieces, a scepter and a dagger, but I'm lacking an ankh, a ring, a gem, and something that looks like a big ball. In any event, between the Oracle, the portals, and the cleric, it's clear that from now on, I'll be moving about the levels a little more flexibly instead of constantly pressing forward.

As for the rest of Level 5, there were a lot of secret doors (generally clued by a dwarven rune for "safe passage") and a large area where a pit opened up behind me with every step. There were a number of things to find in the area, including a suit of platemail, but I had to be careful not to get caught in a dead-end. At one point, I failed in that mission, had to drop down to the level below, and took serious damage from both the fall and a monster waiting there. I'm ashamed to admit that I reloaded instead of fighting my way out of it.

In the northeast of the level, there were a couple of rooms full of teleporters. Getting through was just a matter of careful mapping. I don't really mind puzzles like this, where care, patience, and systematic testing can save the day. That reminds me that I want to have a post on inductive vs. deductive puzzles in RPGs some day.

Time and patience.
             
Level 6 introduced me to a new D&D monster: the Kenku. (Is there any other CRPG in which they appear?) They "resemble humanoid hawks, with both arms and wings." They "have natural thieving abilities," the manual says, but neglects to tell you that they're capable of firing magic missiles. In the comments for the last post, we talked about the delay that accompanies spellcasting. You can't move while the spell's animation finishes, which usually means that it hits you. When you're fighting a pack of 4 Kenku, with a few others waiting in the wings, it takes bloody forever for all the animations to finish, by which point the party is at half health.

And they all drop staves when they die. Am I now carrying about 8 staves for no reason whatsoever? Yes.
       
And they respawn--oh, my, do they respawn. When I said I was "mostly finished" with Level 6 above, I mean that I've mapped the entire thing, but I've been (futilely) trying to clear it of Kenku before moving on. I keep running into multiple packs of 3 or 4 in areas I've already cleared. They're a serious candidate for "most annoying RPG enemy." I've mostly been fighting them with the side-step-turn, which works well enough until one of them out of a pack of 4 decides not to follow the others. Now I have two groups to keep track of, and eventually one of them gets the drop on me.

I'm pleased to say I didn't reload, though. When one of them killed Gaston, I dragged his sorry corpse up to Level 5 and had him resurrected, sucking up the loss of 1 constitution [later edit: which I guess wasn't implemented in this game, despite what the manual says]. That's role-playing, kids.

As I said, I figured out the special quest on Level 6. A lot of the Kenku were guarding rooms with Kenku eggs. Eventually, I found a small room labeled "nest." I piled all the eggs in there, I got the "special quest" message, and the room opened up to reveal a "chieftan halberd," which I gave to my paladin. It seems to do quite a bit of damage, but it takes a long time to recover from the swing.

Finally!
           
Another area on the level had a bunch of niches on just about every wall. The first one was labeled "silverware rack," and it occurred to me to put a knife in the niche, which made the wall disappear. When I ran out of knives, I found that darts had the same effect. (There were dart traps nearby that gave me a plentiful supply of darts.) By clearing out all the walls, I opened the way to a couple new areas, one of which held a scroll of "Haste." I immediately gave to my mage to scribe.

Making a wall disappear with a dart.
          
Oh, by the way, "Fireball" isn't as exciting as I thought. I guess it damages every enemy in the square and nearby, because it damages me if I cast it too close, but it doesn't wipe them out the way I was hoping, and the animation isn't very satisfying. [Later edit: I guess I was wrong about this, too. I must have taken regular combat damage at the same time I cast "Fireball" and mistook it as "Fireball" damage.]

One final bit of plot on Level 6: a "dark-robed figure" in a corner greeted me with a sneer and called me "Waterdeep's saviors of the week." He confirmed that Xanathar is a beholder, and he related that Xanathar has been "undermining Waterdeep for years" and that he would "lead his minions in conquest of the unsuspecting city." To kill him, I'll need the "Wand of Silvias," which the dwarves apparently have but don't know how to use.

I once killed like 50 beholders with nothing more than some Dust of Disappearance.
        
The mysterious figure continued that the Drow, who are supposed to be Xanathar's allies, plan to launch a raid on Waterdeep, which would alert the city to the true threat. Anyway, the robed dude wasn't my friend: he related that he intended to stop the Drow, kill the dwarves, get the wand, wait until Xanathar conquers Waterdeep, then kill Xanathar and take over Waterdeep for himself. After his dialogue, he attacked me, and I killed him in about three blows, so clearly he was under-prepared for his master plan.

Rule #457 for evil overlords: Don't make enemies needlessly.
          
I know Dungeon Master purists don't care for any of this, but I'm loving the dialogues, side quests (if that's what they are), and NPCs, and I think the game is better for them.

Next up: return to Level 5 to see if Armun has any new dialogue about the Wand of Silvias. If not, I may take yet another stab at the "special quests" on Levels 1, 3, 4, and 5, especially now that my cleric's "Create Food" spell means I'm unlikely to starve to death. (I have a ton of rations anyway; Dohrum came with about half a dozen.) It was a real struggle to tear myself away to write this post.

Alas, the next week is going to see me completely occupied by work, so I'm unlikely to get another Eye of the Beholder post out for a little while. Fortunately, I have some posts on other games already drafted to occupy the interim.

Time so far: 14 hours
Reload count: 3

(There's an argument to be made that the low reload count means that the game is a little too easy. I'd have trouble disagreeing with that. The Kenku were annoying but not overly deadly, and so far it's been possible to avoid death with careful exploration and real-time combat maneuvers. Maybe it will get harder later.)

79 comments:

  1. //Maybe it will get harder later//

    If I recollect correctly it will get definately more harder. But I was 14 back in the days and had mostly nothing to compare it to.
    The giant spiders of level 4 did poison me quite often and I had problems there too.

    Great postings and looking forward to the next one!

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    1. Eye of the Beholder actually has a really nice difficulty curve. It's not like some RPGs where by the end you stomp over everything. Two words: Mind Flayers.

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    2. I hope it doesn't sound like bragging when I disagree here. EOB1's difficulty curve is almost flat: enemies start out pathetic and remain pathetic the whole game. Mind Flayers included (EOB2's mind flayers, on the other hand, will ruin you proper. The critical difference is that in EOB2, having all your characters paralyzed at the same time cuts to an instant game over, while in EOB1 you can still run to safety with your fully paralyzed team). In terms of combat, EOB1 is a candidate for the easiest DM clone in existence (I think only EOB3 might be easier). I recall it having a mildly tricky puzzle or two though.

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  2. The special quest for level one is not really something you can intuit as far as I can recall, I can't remember whether I did it by accident or a friend did and told me.

    Level 4 I did by accident as well, but I think you can figure it out.

    3 & 5 are pretty easy in comparison.

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    2. (Felt I had a spoilery thingy in the last post so I rephrased it)

      Yeah I also remember the first one of being quite ... Random... Never REALLY bothered with them, I think I found most by accident.

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  3. As a Dungeon Master Purist I have to say I don't mind the Story Tidbits in the EoB Games,too :P

    Just when it feels like I'm reading 4 books at once like Planescape Torment or ME I'm like "Yeah ... I want to play a Game" :P

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    1. With no story and not many hints of a world outside the dungeon, Dungeon Master (and some of its clones) always felt sterile and bland to me. Even Wizardry gives you a menu town (though still having some of the best tactical combat in CRPGs, I can give it a pass.) Eye of the Beholder originally felt lacking because the whole game is first-person dungeon crawling, but as has begun to be revealed in this posting, there's a surprisingly complicated story.

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    2. The SNES Manual at least had some Backstory that showed a bit of story up to the Cataclysm that split the Grey Lord.
      And I think its kinda unfair to say that there are not many hints of a World outside of the Dungeon, you have 24 Heroes raging from Humans to Beasts with hints of Cities or Landscapes in their names. Sure it could be more ... .. fleshed out and I really don't like the way they went with Dungeon Master 2 storywise but yeah! ... it was there! :P :D

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    3. I think the ingame-story with NPCs is the best progress between DM and EoB, that adds a lot to immersion.

      DM has only one excuse for that: the disk was full (remember we talk of 720kb). A lot of features were cut until the game was released, see http://dmweb.free.fr/?q=node/247 for reference. There are a lot of hints of early features on the screenshots, like "Gentle breeze at your back. No unusual smells" or an amulet detecting undead. DM was streamlined to make one thing good: real-time combat. Next to the story in the manual, there are only a few scrolls in the game.

      CSB had a second disc for the hint oracle, portrait editor and the intro. You had to pick your 4 guys, save the game and then "create a new adventure" with the Utility Disc to enter the real dungeon. And you had to save, quit and get the Utility Disc to consult the hint oracle every time you needed it...

      3 years of technical advance were required to create a game which at least improves it in some parts, but still lacks the fast paced gameplay (I still don't get how DM isn't GOTY '87 btw).

      On the other hand, I think it was also a blessing of DM to be reduced to the core. It is one of the most specialized games ever, a pure dungeon crawler. Back then, you were used to games having limits (like walking in steps or having very few text and the story in the manual) and excused some bad parts. DM had no bad parts, but simply left out everything it couldn't do well. Instead, the developers concentrated on creating a really good dungeon, unmatched until today.

      Over time, expectations got higher and dungeon crawlers could never step up to that, that's why they died out. Nothing that EoB, Lands of Lore, DM2, Stonekeep etc. added to dungeon crawlers could improve the gameplay, "only" immersion and story. It took real 3D to revive first person crpgs.

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  4. Don't mind the part of level 4 that you cannot access. It is not vital.

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    1. Thanks. That was worrying me.

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    2. I believe the room you can't enter only contains a spell scroll. It's one that can't be found anywhere else in the game (either Stone Skin or Flame Arrow, I forget which), but non-critical.

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  5. Good going Chet!
    The spider levels were more hard to me back then than the Kenku one, which I loved. I used to max the party experience there just for fun, discovering that it was not enough not to have an hard time later, if going on blindly.

    It definitely get harder, but never to the point of being punishing, it just takes more planning!

    As for the dwarven key you miss, and the door you cannot open, I would not stress to much.

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  6. I'm quite sure I spent hours trying to find the special level quests for the first and third floors, but I never did. Alas, that was before internet guides, so I just soldiered on and forgot about it... until now. I really hope you figure them out. I need the closure.

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  7. If I had to guess, I'd say that the special quests are for second or third playthroughs. But you seem to have become (or you always were...) a real pro. It does look to me as if the options to expand your game experience beyond the pure "get through the levels in any way possible and kill the big boss at the end" turn this into a superior game.

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  8. I recall closing up the doors in the areas where the Kenku would spawn and then aimlessly wander around the rest of the level or just spinning in circles on one square - then going back and opening the doors and finding hordes of Kenku to kill. I did this a dozen time and added a level or two on each character. They would go down pretty fast with fireball and lightning spells.

    Good times... Really loved playing this game, and the 2nd one too.

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    1. I remember doing a share of grinding at the end of this level against a party of kenku i could get to reliably respawn. Vs V erpnyy pbeerpgyl, gur xraxh tvir na beqre bs zntavghqr (be fbzrguvat yvxr gung) zber kc guna gurl jrer fhccbfrq gb tvir, terngyl nppryrengvat nqinaprzrag ba guvf yriry.

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  9. You're right, you can't get back dropped or rejected characters, which is a little irritating.

    Despite D&D convention and what the manual says, characters who are brought back to life don't lose constitution in this game.

    Are you sure fireball damages your party? It should only hit all the enemies in a square.

    I think the only special quests I solved on my own were the ones on level 2, level 4, and a much lower level. I'm not sure you'll be able to trigger the level 4 quest now that the level's no longer in its default state.

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    1. Fireball damages your party.

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    2. >You're right, you can't get back dropped or rejected characters, which is a little irritating.

      I didn't play the game so i don't know, but would it be possible to get a NPC killed and store it's bones until you need them?

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    3. Unlike Dungeon Master, dead PCs do not leave bones but stay in the Party ... even with Inventory accessible and all that, so you can have one guy dragging the Corpses of his 5 friends around if you feel like it :P

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  10. Fireballs (and other projectile spells) damage your party ONLY when you cast directly against a wall from its adjacent tile., which makes sense: they don't fly to the next tile.

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    1. Or if an enemy is directly in front of you.

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    2. Yeah, all right. I could have sworn that they damaged me when I cast them at an enemy right in front of me, but perhaps I just took normal combat damage at the same time and mistook it for effects of the fireball.

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  11. Ah, that explains it, Marco! I've cast fireball on enemies face-to-face countless times without taking damage.

    Maybe you're thinking of Ice Storm, Tristan? That has a cross-shaped area of effect, so your party will end up getting hit if it detonates in an adjacent enemy's tile.

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    1. Hrm. I can't replicate it, so I suspect you're right. My apologies.

      Either I'm confusing it with ice storm or there are version differences.

      Maybe Chet can clarify his experience.

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    2. I think that indeed fireball hits 1 square, while it's Ice Storm that you must cast from at least 2 squares away from the monsters as it hits a 3x3 cross.

      In other news, hello again Chet! I've been a bit off from the blog the last months due to heavy RL workload, but you can be sure EoB hooked me back in. Looking forward to your next posts!

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  12. As for the special quests, the rewards vary wildly in utility, and don't seem to be correlated with the difficulty of the quest. You can beat the game just fine without any of them.

    If anyone wants to see the special quests and their rewards (WARNING SPOILERS), there's a decent summary at http://www.gamefaqs.com/boards/564791-eye-of-the-beholder/42926169.

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  13. I wonder if its possible to combine a DM-like with a roguelike? Should be possible..

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    1. There is Dungeon Hack, but... it's surely possible to improve that.

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    2. Dark Spyre is basically this, only in TPW.

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    3. Dungeon Hack really suffered from having to fit the D&D mold. I really wanted to like it, but in the end it just didn't work for me. IIRC you couldn't even use the keyboard for navigation, mouse-only, which was a killer.

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    4. Oh yes, Dungeon Hack, I remember that! But yes, it wasnt good. I dont know what TPW stands for.
      I thought DM and rogue seems like a good fit, because in Dungeon Master - clones you dont know what the items (and monsterts) are doing anyway.
      But since roguelikes are mostly shareware and DM-engines are difficult, there are fewer than you woulkd expect.

      BTW: I did own a Sukoban-clone that used the Dungeon Master engine!

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    5. I don't think so, not a true RL. RLs are about careful timing, thinking your moves through and then moving. These games are all about reflexes, and timing. Those things are diametrically opposed.

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  14. Kenku will appear in the roguelike Dungeon Crawl, if that is on your list. Their first appearance in print took place in 1981.

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  15. What is your plan for Hydlide? Will you emulate the MSX version or play the NES one?

    I'm... er... asking for a friend. Because if you have the policy that you will play console versions of MSX games when they have English ports (if there is no English version of the MSX version), then that opens up to playing a limited number of transitional RPGs like Dragon Quest (in 1986) or Final Fantasy (in 1987) without having to play a bunch of other non-interesting console RPGs. Essentially, you'd be playing only a limited number of console RPGs that justified having a PC port.

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    1. No, my policy is not that I'll play English console versions of Japanese PC games. My policy is that I'll play PC versions of PC games if those versions are in a Latin-Alphabet language. Since Hydlide was in English in its Japanese release, it makes the cut. I played it on a PC-88 emulator (just haven't published the review yet).

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    2. It's flattering that people want to see my take on Final Fantasy and other console games, but I'm never going to officially make them part of my blog. If I play them as a lark, like I did with the two Intellivision games, you'll have to regard that as a bit of a bonus.

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    3. Well, I'm glad you went with "flattering" rather than "annoying". :)

      I think why some readers want you to play these classics is that we have come to know your voice, your style, what you like, and what you dislike through reading hundreds of pages of your playthroughs. It's interesting to us to want to see you rip apart some of our childhood favorites. That doesn't mean that you SHOULD do these things, of course.

      On a more historical note, I am fascinated by this transition in the early 80s from cRPGs to console RPGs and some of these mid-80s games are the missing links between those genres. Looking at the classics of the mid-90s, there is almost no way to see Chrono Trigger (1995), Pokemon Red/Blue (1996), or Baldur's Gate (1997) as existing in the same universe, though they are all classics of their respective genres. (Pokemon being the archetype of "collection RPG".) But in 1987, a game like Final Fantasy still shows its Wizardry/D&D roots.

      (Final Fantasy 7 & 8, released on PC in 1997 and 1999 respectively, are weird cross-overs which perhaps disproves everything I just said.)

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    4. The original Final Fantasy basically copied and transplanted a lot of D&D rules... just not terribly well. (Making characters start with 25-35 HP and end at level 25-30 with 400-700 HP is fine, but you really have to adapt the spells and such around that, which FF didn't do that well.) It's still a pretty good game for its time, in spite of that. There's still a few D&D roots hanging around up until FF5 (magic categorization and spell levels, some jobs being closely based on D&D classes, etc.) If you look at FF as a bunch of separate elements slowly evolving, I don't think its a huge stretch to see how it went from semi-fixed classes in FF1 to the job system in FF3 to the ability system of FF5 to espers in FF6 and materia in FF7. Combine that with more fixed characters with a fixed ability progression, and you get Chrono Trigger.

      Dragon Quest, I think, hews more closely to roots in Wizardry (its battle system) and Ultima (everything else.) It really codified the "standard JRPG battle system", which is basically Wizardry's battle system with wildly varying degrees of strategy needed- so many JRPGs still show Wizardry roots. Take DQ, add in Satoshi Tajiri's childhood love of insect collecting (which in the far east has a long history,) and first generation Pokemon again isn't a huge stretch. (DQ4 had a few monsters that would join you as NPCs, DQ5 had a few dozen that could, DQ6 had lots, showing an even stronger link between DQ and Pokemon.)

      Also, if you do want a quick detour, Dragon Quest 1 is really short (single digit hours.) I'd really like to see your take on the whole series (particularly since DQ doesn't stray nearly as far from its CRPG roots as most JRPGs.)

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    5. There is a partial English fan-translation of the first Dragon Quest game here: http://www.passionmsx.org/modules/mydownloads/singlefile.php?cid=72&lid=1510&lang=english. Has anyone looked at this and is it reasonably complete? Or does "partial" mean "I translated menus in the first town only"?

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    6. Or you could just, you know, play Dragon Warrior...

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    7. Final Fantasy really isn't as popular in Japan as it is in the U.S. Dragon Quest came first and is still the most popular. The only reason Final Fantasy is such a big deal over here is because of the timing of the releases for NES.

      Once again, I would like to point out that Dragon Quest IS a CRPG, originally released for MSX, so it really should be on the list.

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    8. I don't think you would be cheating if you played the NES Dragon Warrior, keeping in mind that it was originally a CRPG. (Sorry I keep Shatnering my posts)

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    9. Mr. Addict, in the post that you are replying to, said he didn't want to do that. If he's playing a cRPG, he wants to play a computer version of it, in this case MSX. He does not want to play the NES port.

      That said, I am not sure it was "originally" for the MSX. My impression was that it was a Famicom (Japanese NES) game first with a Japanese console version because the Famicom wasn't yet as popular. We see a number of NES games of this era getting MSX or other Japanese PC releases, where the same wasn't happening in the US.

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    10. Well Enix was originally a publisher of computer games before the Famicom came out, and I've read accounts where the MSX game was written first, but it seems that they were released at the same time. Yuji Horii wrote lots of other MSX games that never came out for Famicom around the same time, so it's debatable.

      Now I see why you linked to the MSX translation, though. Sorry about that. I'm also curious about his stance on fan translations. The original game does not use the "Latin alphabet". I'm not sure why this is a rule though, because I think the only language without a "latin alphabet" that games were being written in at this time was japanese.

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    11. I think the argument could be made that it is essentially a console game, in that it was designed with younger players in mind, and the console version was the most popular and influential.

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    12. The Addict refuses to play console games because he has decided -with absolutely no evidence to support this other than a halfhearted excuse about control limitations- that they are for very small children and thus beneath the notice of a Grown Up like himself, purely because they appeared on a lowly console instead of on a PC.

      He does not (or refuses to) agree that this attitude is every bit as idiotic as the "DOS-only rule" with which he started the blog, and offers ever-weaker excuses every time the matter is brought up. All this despite most of his highest praise going to games where the modern equivalents are primarily console exclusive (the "Strategy RPG" or "Turn Based Tactics RPG" is very close to a direct descendant of the Gold Box engine in essence even if there's no direct path, and it will be many years before he reaches the very few modern PC examples) in an age where the PC RPG and those on the Xbox which he hypocritically uses for modern gaming has mostly transitioned to action-based pseudo-RPGs, and he considers a handful of ports from a single series (none of which he will reach for years) coupled with a rather subpar semi-porn game (the only one he'll play before blog-1997) adequate exposure to the massive and varied jRPG genre - the equivalent of judging every game based on a home computer by Ultima II and - in the distant future - Baldur's gate and Fallout.

      The worst part is that it would be trivially easy to just drop a few console games into the rotation - the emulators are nearly idiot proof, they run on nearly anything, the earlier ones don't take that long (he probably could have played through every non-port Genesis RPG in the time it took to complete Knights Of Legend or NetHack), and it would settle the question (if he evaluated them honestly, which I have no doubt he would) permanently - either he'd have some evidence to support his disdain, or he'd give them a high enough rating that he could no longer support it.

      Why is this so frustrating? The Addict is the only blogger to cast his nets so wide as to capture a full half of the RPG genre and analyze it in relation to itself - everyone else focuses on one or two series, a subgenre or two, or focuses on the technology behind it - even the Addict's console counterpart is fairly narrowly focused. If he were to properly consider the other half of the genre, this blog would become a Great Work instead of merely a great work.

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    13. "The worst part is that it would be trivially easy to just drop a few console games into the rotation." The entire point of my blog is to be comprehensive. 'Dropping a few' games into my blog from a select list goes against the very fabric of my blog.

      In any event, without making it a part of my rules, that's what I've been doing. You may have missed my posts on Dragon Stomper, and the two Intellivision Dungeons and Dragons titles, but they're there.

      There were no other console RPGs in 1983. 1984 saw only two games later released on consoles in the west: Hydlide and Dragon Slayer, both of which I'm playing. In short, you have no evidence that I WON"T, in fact, "drop a few" console games into my rotation except my refusal to promise it.

      As for the rest of it, you're taking things that other people say about console games and ascribing them to me.

      Jackass.

      Delete
    14. In his defense, and as a huge fan of JRPGs, Dragon Quest is a rather childish game by his standards, and there can be no argument in matters of taste. The Dragon Quest games, in comparison to a Gold Box game for instance, lack complexity and depth.

      There is really no character development that isn't pre-determined, and the main goal is to grind through the Horii's epic story, accompanied by epic fanfares from Sugiyama, and whimsical characters by Toriyama. I, for one, enjoy this activity immensely, and believe that the beauty of the JRPG is it's simplicity, but I do not seek to impose my tastes on Mr. Addict.

      A gold box game is a complex and varied role-playing experience, whereas a Japanese console RPG is more of a work of art, meant to be enjoyed for it's aesthetic values; story, art, music, and exciting tactical combat.

      I believe that the fact that he has played certain RPGs that are more similar to the former than the latter (Ys, for example), only proves that he is being thorough in his chosen path of reviewing CRPGs. While I am disappointed that he will be playing only the third and weakest entry of the Dragon Knight series solely because it was released in english on DOS, I must concede that it is his blog, and he is only following the path he determined for himself at it's conception.

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    15. You and the jackass above are talking about two different issues. I'm not playing Dragon Knight I and II not because they're console games, but because they were released only in Japan. Apparently, in addition to a faction disappointed that I'm not playing console games, I have a faction disappointed that I'm not learning Japanese just for this blog.

      Delete
    16. The jackass above is insinuating that you have something against JRPGs in general, also, I wrote my response before I had seen your own rebuttal of the aforementioned jackass.

      I have come to terms with the Dragon Knight thing XD. Xentar isn't THAT bad.

      Delete
    17. If you really want to see an evaluation of console RPGs (and other console games in general), I'd suggest checking out Chrontendo. A link from Dr. Sparkle of Chrontendo, was, in fact, how I found out about this blog.

      (Also, Lich, have you beaten Dragon Quest 2? Later on, combat gets to be immensely tactical; you have to make use of and evaluate every option you have available. The later games make this easier, sadly.)

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    18. "Apparently, in addition to a faction disappointed that I'm not playing console games, I have a faction disappointed that I'm not learning Japanese just for this blog."

      That's a little bit unfair - If I recall correctly you did, after all, play one or two other foreign-language RPGs with out-of-game aids, and the ubiquity of Google Translate would make that even easier today.

      Of course, this would be far harder to do with a Japanese game than a French or German one because the characters don't appear on an English keyboard, and it would rapidly become completely impractical for a text-heavy game like the typical JRPG (and most low-text games in Japan were (much like Hydlide or the original Legend Of Zelda) released in English due to a quirk of language making English much more space efficient below a certain total (for the entire game) character threshold), so it would be rather absurd to expect you to do so here.

      As for Knights of Xentar in particular, the objection seems to be more that your only guaranteed exposure the the jRPG genre for many years will be a very poor example rather than anything else.

      Delete
    19. You say it's unfair, but then you counter your own point with the exact thing I would have said. I have to be able to type the characters into the translator. (And before anyone comes along with some other messed up solution, I did try playing Dragon and Princess by taking screen shots of the text, OCR'ing it, and then running it through a translator. It didn't work, partly because--I'm guessing--Japanese doesn't translate quite as literally as western languages.)

      So it's not unfair at all.

      Delete
    20. Oh yeah, DQ2 is a bitch. Tactical combat is always a factor in JRPGs (Fire Emblem, the more complicated FF games, and of course Pokémon), but in terms of roleplaying choices, exploration, and character development, western RPGs are overall more complex.

      FF3 and 6 have the crazy jobs system and stuff and the game that shall not be named has alignments and demon interaction, and Pokémon is a whole different genre in of itself, but in all of these games, whenever you level up, the game just lists a bunch of stat improvements based on your class or whatever. There is lots of strategy and skill involved, but it's of a different nature entirely than a gold box game or Might and Magic. JRPGs are really a very different genre than Western ones

      Delete
    21. What I meant was that it would be very easy for someone not to realize that essential difference between doing so with a Japanese game as opposed to a French one - in other words, they don't expect you to learn Japanese, they might just not understand why the solution you used before wouldn't work - sorry that didn't come across.

      Delete
    22. Also, I think Gnoman is saying the accusation in quotation marks is unfair, not you.

      Delete
    23. Having dabbled in Japanese enough to string together broken sentences, can confirm that Japanese word order is hell on machine translators (and western language learners.) The language itself is probably fundamentally simpler than English (as are most languages) aside from Kanji, but its also so fundementally different as to make translation a nightmare for someone not well-versed in both languages.

      (If the addict went to those kinds of lengths- screencapping, OCR'ing, and machine translating the text in Dragon and Princess- that's a tremendous amount of work, and it's awesome that you tried about as much as any English-speaker could be reasonably expected to short of actually learning Japanese.)

      Even saying something simple as "I am eating sushi", translated word-for-word into English, can turn out something like "Me, in contrast, sushi eats." (わたしはすしをたべる/Watashi wa sushi o taberu. Yes, I've translated different bits of that in different ways that are all sensible taken in complete isolation but make no sense together. A machine translation can't figure out from contextual cues that a better semi-literal translation would be "As for me, eats sushi" or even "As for me, sushi is eaten", both of which are pretty bad writing in different ways but still completely comprehensible.)

      Delete
    24. I just want to apologize for starting this thread as it clearly went a place I did not intend. Bottom line is that we're going to read about your adventures no matter what you decide to play. Furthermore, we have at least another year or two of game time until you'd have to make any decisions one way or the other as the traditional dawn of console RPGs is in 1986.

      Delete
    25. I have played several jrpgs, some PC ports and others emulated - and I think Knights of Xentar is as good as anything else. The story might be weird compared to to western games, but isn't really far off compared to other japanese games.
      Regarding gameplay, usual jrpgs are as similar as EoB and DM or even more.

      Delete
    26. I also came here from from Chrontendo, a very long time ago. I strongly recommend it.

      Delete
    27. Obdurate hater of Rhythm GamesMay 23, 2016 at 1:00 PM

      Chrontendo is awesome, as is the Quest to Review Every NES Game and they told me about obscure and challenging classics like Layla, Ai Senshi Nichol, Otocky, Bucky O'Hare, Metal Storm, Monster in My Pocket and Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Graffiti.

      Japanese developers made strategy R.P.G.s long before Bioware made its R.P.G.s: Shining Force, Fire Emblem, Radia, Gradius Wars and Famicom Wars.

      There are plenty of J.R.P.G. series with the complexity of Western ones and a lot more fun: Mother, Xenoblade, Shadow Hearts, Shining Force and Phantasy Star games; Little King's Story, Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy 4, 6 and 7, and lots of others. Dragon Warrior, on the other hand is a terrible, pointless mess of a series with no plot and nothing but grinding. This sums up the best Dragon Warrior game: http://wwwthinkinginsidethebox.blogspot.com/2011/08/dragon-quest-5s-list.html

      There are good console ports of CRPGs like Ultima 3, 4 and 6, the first five Wizardrys, Might and Magic 1 through 3, The Bard's Tale, but when console games go to P.C, the results are usually disastrous.

      Delete
  16. The plot *does* seem familiar. It's remarkably similar to Salvatore's backstory for Mithral Hall, detailed in http://forgottenrealms.wikia.com/wiki/Streams_of_Silver - dwarven citadel overtaken by monsters, and the ancestral clan returns in hopes of overtaking them and taking it back. Right down to the involvment of Drow (though this is hardly surprising, any time there's someone who isn't evil being happy underground the Drow are likely to meddle in FR)

    Streams was a 1989 release. I'm not saying they copied it intentionally, but it was likely an influence on the writers, whether consciously or otherwise.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The joke was that that was a plotline that Tolkien used -twice-, and has since been done to death.

      Delete
    2. Oh derp. I should have noticed, I read that part of the blog too.

      Delete
    3. A snippet of conversation I wrote up about that very thing:
      ----
      “Nay,” said Wort, “I have heard of the mine’s troubles. They dug too deep.”
      I asked, “Dug too deep? What does that even mean?”
      “Even in war, dwarves keep their priorities. Mining continued, and they dug too deep. It is the classic downfall of many a dwarven colony.”
      “How deep is too deep?”
      “Well, I’m not entirely sure about that.”
      “And if they consistently dig too deep, why not stop going down and go sideways instead?”
      “I don’t really-”
      “And how is ‘too deep’ even possible? Isn’t the underground solid? How would things get down below the surface, and then sit there waiting to be dug into?”
      Wort splayed his hands, helpless to answer. “I was raised on the surface, mostly among humans. I don’t know how any of this stuff works.”
      “What’s down there that you could run into, anyway?”
      “I’ve never been deep in the trenches, so I don’t really know. Rock monsters? Gorlabs?”
      “What are gorlabs?”
      “Big flamey devilish things, with hooves and horns and fangs. Half volcano and half demon, as I understand it, and a temper to match.”
      “I’ve never run into one of those,” I said.
      “Best hope you don’t. In the same way you don’t want a falling star to land on your house. We’re talking forces of nature here.”

      Delete
    4. As the song goes: "The first dig is the deepest"

      Delete
    5. None of my fortresses in Dwarf Fortress have died due to digging too deep...yet....Well, not from !!Happy Fun Stuff!!. That said, I broke into the underground caverns and died to a Forgotten Beast last game....

      Delete
  17. I'm both glad that the game gets more interesting as it goes along and sad that teenage me gave up on it before he got that far.

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  18. Just wanted to say that -- after a bunch of games that all too often seemed to range from the medicinal to the torturous -- it's nice to see you having fun.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Clearly there's 9 portals, which possibly correlate to one on each level, though this would mean you've missed four so far. On the other hand, considering that Pool of Radiance made it fairly easy to reach max level about 2/3s of the way through the game, it's also possible that you're just underestimating the size of the dungeon.

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  20. Kenku will later appear in at least one D&D game. In "Menzoberranzan" there will be a kenku NPC who can join the player's party.

    - VladimIr V Y

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And it uses a stronger game engine that will also be used for Strahd's Possession (which is a lot better that sucky Menzoberranzan) and Stone Prophet (which is arguably a masterpiece when compared to all other games using the same engine).

      Delete
    2. Yes, Ravenloft: Strahd's Possession is a good game. Played it last year. Probably should warn Chet to NOT patch it to v.1.2 from v.1.1. It presents at least one game-breaking bug, as I and some other player from RPG Codex found out. And v.1.1 can be completed quite fine.

      - VladimIr V Y

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  21. Kenku are basically Tengu from Japanese mythology. I always assumed TSR just gave them the name "kenku" so they would have another original word to trademark. In modern times Tengu have been depicted more frequently with human heads and masks with long noses, but they started off as soldier-monks with bird heads wielding spears and quarterstaves. There was a Japanese RPG called Inindo for SNES, MSX2 and various other computers that had you fighting a lot of tengu, and I assume they appear in plenty of other JRPGs.

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    Replies
    1. I think they'd already used Tengu to mean something else in the game, a type of bird-demon I think.

      Delete

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