Thursday, March 8, 2018

Nippon: The Inscrutable Orient

A colleague of mine once tried to organize a symposium in Bad Waltersdorf, Austria. It didn't get enough registrants and had to be canceled. I told him he should have held it across the river in Good Waltersdorf. He didn't think it was funny.
                 
Well, I bumbled around Nippon for another four hours, and I can't say that I'm any closer to understanding the story or main quest. In a modern game, that wouldn't be such a problem because the dungeons would be atmospheric and the character development robust and the gameplay enjoyable, but--as I keep stressing--1980s RPG development just wasn't there yet. It was too soon for games with the scope of Deathlord, Fate, Nippon, and many of the others with epic ambitions--particularly when they don't offer mechanics as complex as the best RPGs of the period. I would have cautioned a developer of the time to at least make sure they could replicate Ultima V's combat system, inventory complexity, and depth of NPC interaction before setting out to make a game four times its size.

The Nippon Museum offers a map that came with the game, but it's too stylized for my tastes and gets the geography of the smaller landmasses and islands all wrong. I've been unapologetically using another one from the site that is more geographically accurate, but still manages to avoid spoilers such as the locations of towns. Normally, I'd consider that cheating, but I'll allow it to offset my language disadvantage. Anyway, extrapolating from a measurement I took on the starting island, I suspect the game world is close to 720 x 400.
          
What I love about this map is how it's so clearly Japan.
      
The towns vary in size but the largest so far have been around 70 x 70, which would be really hard to navigate except that each one has a map hidden somewhere. When I arrive in a new town, my first priority is to find the map and use it to plot a basic navigation path.
           
Without this map, I never would have known about a "hermit" living in the southwest.
         
As I wrapped up last time, I was entering a large city on the coast called Watashibune. NPCs throughout the town talked about boats and sailing, and pretty soon I discovered both boat sales and boat repair locations. Boats sold for 1,500 gold pieces--out of my reach but not outrageously so. I could have gone outside and grinded for it. Instead, I let my finances grow naturally as I explored other parts of the starting continent.

A little town on an oasis called Tokoro-Chian offered more lore and potential quest advice than any town so far. I had previously found a door in the mountains that took me to an indoor area with a huge lake of fire. In Tokoro-Chian, I learned that to survive the fire, I need the Amulet of Hi, which I can find in some place called Fujokawa. An NPC named Yosutebito told me that I'll need to find the Wheel of Time in the north to return to my own world. Shoka-no suggested what may be a side quest: the "sun horse" of the goddess Amaterasu has been stolen by the god of war, Hachiman, who lives in the castle of Atatakami in the south. I learned from Ta-is Tagre that I'll need some flying mechanism to reach locations in the mountains, including some important inscription.
             
A key piece of intelligence.
          
I returned to Akuji, the starting town, and trained to 100% with the shuriken. By this time, I had fought enough combats to have enough for the boat and then some, so I made my way back to Watashibune.

Money is a key component to any RPG, but it really makes the world go round here. So far, I haven't found anything like a dungeon full of treasure chests. One city had some gold that I could pick up. (The manual gives you a funny justification for this: "The gold lying in the chambers is mostly illegally acquired and can be used for your purposes.") Otherwise, all income comes from combat. Perhaps in recognition of this, combat is reasonably rewarding, offering around an average of 30 gold pieces for each enemy killed in outdoor combat.
              
Finding a rare "treasure room."
          
There are lots of things to spend money on, including many weapons and armor items that are well out of my reach. A lot of towns have healers that not only cure wounds but also grant you temporary strength or rejuvenate you (more on this in a bit); others cure conditions like blindness, curses, and paralysis, none of which I've yet experienced. Shops sell keys (every city has locked doors), incense, and sacks that increase your carrying capacity. You always have to replenish food. Weapons and armor can get damaged and require repair. You need training on weapons, and you can pay (theoretically) to increase your attributes. You can even pay for things that I think serve only role-playing purposes, such as nights at the inn with optional prostitutes, baths, and massages.
             
Soon.
           
I don't care for the game's dialogue "stance" system and I've mostly been subverting it. I don't know how to fix things if you choose the wrong approach. Almost all NPCs respond to "normal" or "friendly" approaches, but every once in a while, one of them wants you to be "religious" or "submissive" or even "superior." If you choose the wrong thing, they clam up. So I take a save before talking with them and reload if they respond negatively. The game is hard enough.
          
This NPC mentions some of her artifacts as coming from China.
          
I also wouldn't mind if I didn't have to stop and feed my character so often. If the developers were going to make him so hungry, the least they could have done was have him eat automatically. Sometimes I miss the "you are hungry" message--it doesn't re-appear after the first warning--and my character will suddenly die because I haven't been noticing his health bar go down.
           
No matter how much progress you're actually making, it always feels like you're getting somewhere when you buy a boat.
           
After I bought the boat, I sailed up north even though I hadn't finished exploring the main continent. I explored two more towns and decided to get back to Ultima Underworld. Here are a bunch of items from my explorations:
           
  • I bought a "gate icon" in one of the towns, which I guess allows me to use the teleporter system. I really haven't started exploring that yet. Some of the towns have teleporters that seem to go to central hubs or something.
  • The countryside is swarming with NPCs like priests and farmers as well as enemies. They don't typically attack you, but if they happen to be on the screen when you initiate combat with a monster, they'll join the battle against you. I don't know if there are any karmic implications from killing them.
  • Even though the game has a day/night cycle, with the screen going dark at night, shops remain open 24 hours and the NPCs stay where they are.
  • You can't take the day/night cycle too literally, though. Years pass as you wander around, and even more as you pay for training. My character started at 20, I think, and I suddenly noticed he was 50! I had to pay for "rejuvenation" to stop him from dying of old age. It's nice that feudal Japan had that option. Would that the modern world had it. 
  • When I stopped at an inn for the night, I decided to try the "bed and a woman" option. The German word was weib, which Google Translate tells me can also mean "wife," so I might have made a big mistake. There was no special message, but I got 250 experience points! That means that there's a way to convert gold directly to experience in the unlikely event that you ever run out of things to buy.
  • Oddly, after waking up from the above encounter, I found an NPC in my room. He said his name was "Schoco la de," said he was a "murderer," and insisted that I was in his room.
  • There are a lot of jokes and puns in the NPC names. So far, for instance I've encountered Cha-in-ma-il, Skusi-san, Chingis-kan, Qwerty, and Razmataz. I'm sure there are dozens of others going over my head because they mean something in German. For instance, "Ta-tagre-is," which is clearly Tattergreis, or "doddering old man."
  • Purchasing a clock gave me a new menu option that tells me the time and date. 
          
It is 19:00 on Day 14 of Year 714 in the Month of the Kites.
          
  • I bought a slave! They were selling them in one of the northern island towns. I have no idea what they do for me. The manual doesn't mention them at all. There are also guard dogs for sale, but they cost more.
        
You may think this is poor role-playing, but I'll give him a better life than he had behind those bars.
          
  • The same shops will go by different names from city to city. The healer is arzt in one city, alchimist in a second, and doktor in a third. Sometimes, there's no shop name at all, so you have to check every building and talk to every NPC.
  • I spoke to a daimyo in one of the cities. I was hoping he'd give me a quest, but he just boasted about how much power he had, "second only to the shogun." 
  • I tried to visit that goddess's castle on the island in the starting continent, but the game wouldn't let me dock my boat alongside it. I think you have to have a grass square. 
            
I knew I was making progress when I was able to translate this without help. "You can your ship here not leave."
          
Entering the combat screen from the boat causes you to use the boat's cannons as the primary weapon. They're pretty devastating, but anything that can attack you at sea is equally tough and can damage both you and the boat. You can blast helpless enemies on shore, too, but you get only experience, not gold, from winning boat combats.
           
Naval combat.
          
Touching any land while sailing the boat causes it to become damaged. It's hard to avoid this in narrow rivers.

One thing that I still haven't experienced is any sense of character development. I think maybe I'm supposed to burn incense at Buddha statues to "level up," but each city that has such a statue also has a puzzle associated with getting to it, and I've come up short. In Ukosa, the statue was at the end of a maze of pillars with invisible walls between some of them, and I could't find a way through. An NPC said something about walking through the "central pillar," but none of the pillars that seemed to be "central" (no matter how I looked at it) would allow me to do any such thing.
            
Getting nowhere.
            
Meanwhile, in Ubamachi, a northern city ruled by Shujin, the Buddha is in the mountains. Supposedly, there's a secret path to get there, and an NPC directed me to a statue to ask about it. The statue told me to give it a "yari." I had no idea what this was, but I later found a weapon shop in a different town selling them for 3,450 gold. That'll have to wait.
        
Will I be able to get it back afterwards?
         
Thus, well past the six-hour mark, I'm still a bit clueless. My only consolation is that it sounds like German players of the time were, too. I'll give it another 3 or 4 hours, at least, before deciding whether to continue. I'd lean towards a premature ending, but the next game, Ranadinn, is also an Ultima-inspired title with epic ambitions. Please moongate me out of this era.


77 comments:

  1. It must be tough to drag yourself away from UU to play this thing, so well done for that! On the plus side, it looks like it has a better economy than UU...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are correct about that--at least, so far.

      Delete
  2. Nippon is a different world, seperate from Japan, though clearly inspired by feudal Japan.

    I'm not sure what you did to age so much. Apparently teleporting using magical gates does that to you, but it doesn't seem like you've done that yet. Buy more expensive food. Three pieces of bamboo make you fed, which lasts for a day I think.

    The slave helps you carry spare weapons and armor. Otherwise you can only have one set.

    You can exit on the goddess island, maybe your boat was not aligned properly with a tile, or you were still a half square away. Be careful, walking around in the swamp can make you sick. You were also really close in the pillar labyrinth, just map where you can walk. It's one of the easier to reach Bhuddas.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I could swear I managed to get to every opening in the pillar labyrinth but couldn't push through it. I'll give it another shot.

      Delete
    2. "Nippon is a different world, seperate from Japan, though clearly inspired by feudal Japan." And it just happens to have a nearby country called "China"?

      Delete
    3. Tried it. There is indeed a path through the pillar labyrinth. But not the way you expect. Took me around 5 minutes.

      Delete
    4. Perhaps this is just a different way of expressing this is speculative fiction? The sort of thing where we're meant to know that this version of Japan/Nippon is somewhat fictionalized (which I think we can all agree about.)

      If it was meant to be the name that set it apart, though, that didn't work.

      Delete
    5. That's just a silly joke (I guess "Made in China" was already a thing in the late 80s). If you travel to the edge of the map you see there can't be any countries nearby.

      But maybe, like people, souvenirs from China occasionally get teleported to Nippon.

      Delete
    6. Yeah, in the screenshot it says "Some of these come from a country named China, at least that's what it says on the bottom", which is clearly just a joke about products bearing a "made in China" stamp.

      Delete
    7. In the 80's "made in China" was usually thought to mean "shoddily made crap, will break within a week". As far as I recall.

      Delete
    8. The land of "Nippon" was inspired by an old RPG Pen-and-paper game called "Bushido" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bushido_(role-playing_game). At that time I was fascinated by James Clavell's "Shogun" and this RPG. So yes it is a fictional land :D

      Delete
    9. Nice. Charrette & Hume went on to create Shadowrun together with Jordan Weisman. Shadowrun was my tabletop RPG back in the 90s, but Bushido has so far escaped my attention.

      Delete
  3. Er, but isn't Nippon literally "Japan" anyway?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For most Germans Nippon is a chocolate covered rice cake :)

      Delete
    2. It's one of the common names for that country used by the natives of that country. Or awkwardly, Nippon is a common name what we call Japan used by what we call Japanese. And yes, my best read of the history is that the word that is now spoken most commonly as Nippon is what begat our Anglo "Japan" through some vagaries of spelling, romanization, pronunciation, and anglification.

      Delete
    3. The Kanji on the map is the current spelling of actual Japan though.

      Delete
    4. The spelling in Kanji doesn't differ, just the pronunciation (and hence the hiragana representation) differs depending on context.

      Delete
  4. "Schoco la de" is a pun, too, btw. The German word for chocolate is Schokolade. It's really quite similar to the English version of course, but the pun comes out better in the German spelling.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I suggest that you try spending another night with a lady of negotiable virtue and see if you get awakened by a gentleman named "Hugg'e Baer."

      Delete
  5. I am glad you use emulator supported savegames in cities for the annoying part of the conversation with NPCs. I hope you have recognized, that you can reset the city when you leave and reenter the city. Imagine, you wouldn't play with an emulator, but with a real C64.

    1. Speak with an NPC you consider as important.
    2. Fail, because you didn't use the right attitude.
    3. Walk to the border of the city to leave the city
    4. Wait
    5. Turn to map disk
    6. Wait
    7. Enter the city on map screen
    8. Wait
    9. Turn to city disk
    10. Wait
    11. Walk from the border of the city to the NPC.
    12. Repeat from no. 1 at least 7 or 8 times, until you use the right attitude or you recognize, the NPC has nothing to say.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's pretty bad design. I've been assuming that there's some way to suss out what stance works best and I just haven't figured it out yet.

      Delete
    2. For most of the NPCs I think the choice is obvious. But I can remember, that I followed the algorithm above for a few NPC to be sure, there is no more info. What I can't remember is, if this algorithm was successful for at least one NPC.

      Delete
    3. As long as you haven't insulted a person, you can try other options and possibly get more information. So it's best to start safe and try more aggressive options later.

      And yes, there just isn't enough information on how you should address people, especially important ones.

      I didn't know towns reset completely when you leave them. In that case the other way to extract information is almost worthless, and it's mostly down to "dialoge-grinding".

      Delete
    4. Well, I guess I'm stuck right before the end of the game and running out of ideas. But if you want to end this prematurely, I could at least provide some information on the way to solve the game.

      Delete
    5. My email to the developers dates back to 2004. They told me, that an Ogre failed to give the final clue to reach the end. So, the original version was unsolvable. They told me, that a fixed version exists on arnold.c64.org. And indeed, there are two versions. However, they also told me that you can identify the version on the starting screen at the end of the ticker. I can't see any difference between both versions.

      Delete
    6. @Buck: ROT13-encoded
      Qvq lbh cenl ng nyy zbhagnvaf?
      Puhvohxnv: Qvr Mrvg süe qra Oret nhßreunyo iba Puhvohxnv vfg qre 25. Gnt vz Zbang qrf Qenpura qrf Wnuerf 538.
      Xnzv-ab-zhen: Vpu fcerpur iba qra Mrvgra qre Oretr. Fvr fvaq iba rvare Zntvr hztrora. Rvare vfg va qre Aäur. Re jveq trjrvug, nz 8 Gntr qrf Zbangf qrf Unfra, vz Wnuer 635.
      Gnxrqb: Gnxrqb jheqr na rvarz urvyvtra Oret tronhg. Frvar Mrvg vfg qre 24 Gnt vz Zbang qrf Xrvyref Naab 560.
      Nesav-qb: Jrvg vz Füqra össarg fvpu qre Oret vz Ynolevagu nz 31.12.682.
      Ngfnzhv: Qre refgr Gnt vz Zbang qre Enggr vfg rva jvpugvtrf Qnghz. Mhz Qnghz truöeg angüeyvpu abpu qnf Wnue. Rf vfg qnf Wnue 512.
      Gnvlb-ubxn: Fvr vfg nz 7. Csreq qrf wnuerf 777. Re orsvaqrg fvpu aöeqyvpu qre Vafry qre Fbaar, nhs rvare naqrera Vafry.

      Delete
    7. The ticker at the start screen motivates, that the game is solveable in 7 hours.

      Delete
    8. I've spent most of the day playing the game and now I read that this version may not be winnable. Since the error has something to do with an NPC giving a hint, I wonder if I can use the same program disk (which has the saved game) and the "corrected" town disk.

      Delete
    9. If the list of persons on nippon-museum is complete, and unless I missed something, there's only one giant who has important information (in Kami-no-mura). He was in my game. All you need is the hint, so if he's really missing, it's probably safer just to look that one hint up.

      @Sebastian
      Yes, I did all that and more. I'm at what I think is the end and get told that I have the will, but not the skills. I'm not sure what the game refers to, but I've been to all senseis, gur enax bs fnzhenv naq nyzbfg rirel fcryy. I've checked all the dialoge on nippon-museum and I don't think I missed a vital clue.

      Delete
    10. I found a program version hint on the nippon-museum website. In Funatabi you can find one NPC called Rüdiger, who is one of the authors of the game. He talks about the game and tells us according to the website "Dies ist übrigens schon Version 2.0" (By the way, this is already Version 2.0). So I checked all versions I have found online, and none of them showed the new message. So we all seem to seem to play the broken version.
      I don't give up. I have sent the author of the website an email and asked for V2 and also for the solution of the game, which was available a few years ago on some websites.

      @Buck: Znlor gur uvag vf gur zrffntr bs gur ynfg fpebyy nzraqrqrffcvryf. V pna'g qrpvcure vg. Jung zrnaf pnyy gur tbqf va gur zvqfg bs gur 6. Vf guvf n qngr?

      Delete
    11. Gurer'f n fuevar va gur sne fbhgu. Vg'f fheebhaqrq ol fvk gerrf (V nffhzr gurfr tebj bar ol bar jura lbh cenl ng gur zbhagnvaf). Jura lbh cenl ng gung fuevar vg gryyf lbh gb ragre gur oevqtr vagb gur ibvq (gur oevqtr vf nyernql gurer, lbh pbhyq cebonoyl whfg jnyx bire vg). V gubhtug vg ersref gb gung.

      Delete
    12. I wonder if getting the hint will be enough to finish the game, which means you can probably beat the broken version, or... worst case scenario, when the NPC gives you the hint, it triggers something in the game that *only then* will allow you to finish it.

      Delete
    13. I'm pretty sure that certain dialogue options only become available if you've talked to a previous NPC, so Izzy's fear is a legitimate one.

      Delete
    14. Please try your idea of using the correct town disk, if you can get it, with your current program disk. It just might work.

      Delete
    15. @Buck: Look at the messages below for the topic about the bug.

      Delete
    16. @Buck: Frrzf yvxr lbh unira'g cenlrq gb nyy ohqqnuf. Purpx lbhe fgngf. Bar vf abg ng gur gbc. Lbh zhfg unir cenlrq gb nyy 16 ohqqnuf.

      Delete
    17. @Sebastian Thanks, that was it.

      Vg'f gur svefg guvat V gubhtug bs, ohg zl abgrf unq bayl bar Ohqqun zvffvat naq ivfvgvat uvz qvqa'g uryc. Gheaf bhg zl abgrf jrer jebat. Fvapr zl zntvp jnfa'g znkrq bhg, V ivfvgrq gur pbeerfcbafvat Ohqqunf, naq gur ynfg bar fgvyy unq n evqqyr. Vg'f gur bar gung V ivfvgrq svefg va gur tnzr, zhfg unir erybnqrq naq sbetbggra gb ivfvg uvz.

      Delete
  6. The first screen says 'kikeriki-chan'; Kikeriki is a german phonetic word which could be translated with 'cock-a-doodle-doo'.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Perhaps you can skip a few ultima-clones, they don't deserve your full attention :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. and how would you know that I think that he is the perfect person to give them all a proper chance, the blog uses strikt rules and everything that falls in line with those rules should be investigated, and that he manages the six hour rule with some of this games is one of games is some of the most interesting reads on this blog

      Delete
    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    3. That's a pretty dismissive attitue. I love reading about all these CRPGs because while I find them interesting I also find them tedious.
      Leaving the work of playing them to someone who enjoys it and can write about the experience well is a win for all involved.
      If the Addict only stuck to popular games then this would just be another boring fanboy blog.
      F* that.

      Delete
    4. Perhaps we can skip a few Anonymous comments. They don't deserve our full attention. XD

      Delete
  8. I wouldn't have expected to read about Bad Waltersdorf on this blog and yet here we are.

    ReplyDelete
  9. "Yari" is a spear—possibly a particular kind of traditional Japanese spear. And the "Hi" in "Amulet of Hi" is almost certainly intended to be "fire".

    It's weird seeing some of those names that could clearly never be Japanese names (couldn't even be written out phonetically in Japanese) in among the ones that are fairly authentic—names like "Qwerty" and "Razmataz" are completely impossible given the Japanese phonemic structure, which only allows for syllables that are single-consonant-sound then single-vowel, single-vowel, or n. And "Q" doesn't even exist, and "Y" is considered a consonant (a sort of odd one, with only 3 possible vowel suffixes, rather than the usual 5—"W" does the same thing).

    ...Sorry to ramble; I just enjoy linguistics, and have particularly focused on Japanese in recent years. ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As I mentioned below in another thread I had to name about 600 characters, so I went to a bookstore and purchased a Japan/German dictionary. It just had to sound reasonable :) Not all names made it to Japanese, some are just jokes, funny names, being bored sometimes, and so forth. "Razmataz" was a line from a Fischer-Z song "Limbo" which was one of my favourites!

      Delete
    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
  10. I was all ready make fun of the developer for naming a city 私船 (watashi-bune, "myself-boat"), because "watashi" is such a recognizable word. Upon checking an online dictionary, though, it appears that 渡し船 (wata-shi-bune) is an actual word meaning "ferryboat."

    ReplyDelete
  11. A yari is technically any wooden pole with a sharp bit on end.

    http://casiberia.com/product/yari/sh2152

    However a yari is not to be mixed up with a naginata that has a curved blade.

    https://www.swordsofmight.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/hanwei-naginata-600x309.jpg

    ReplyDelete
  12. It's crazy to think about these games as cultural relics of a civilization...

    They are totally unique expressions of art merged with play...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    2. I think single-player CRPGs saved an entire generation of introspective people from madness.

      Delete
  13. The title of this entry reminds me of a political cartoon I saw around the time that Wen Ho Lee was exonerated of charges of nuclear spying. As he was led out of prison, a couple of aging, fleshy pundits watched the scene and commented:

    "All of this could have been avoided," they opined, "if only he'd been a bit more scrutable."

    ReplyDelete
  14. Just a totally random question, but which program you use to draw dungeon maps?

    ReplyDelete
  15. Bad Waltersdorf is an hour's drive from here, there's Bad Ausee and Bad Mitterndorf here as well. We've got so many of them to choose from!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I wonder about the conversion from gold to xp through intimate companionship. Might be worth doing that one another time to see if you get 250 xp again afterwards, or if it's an one-time thing as it is in more recent crpgs like Fallout.

    If it's an one-time thing, then I'm wondering if this is the first game where you get xp for discovering the joys of the flesh?

    Also if it's an one-time thing then it's safe to say that your hero protagonist was a virgin before this point. Imagine having to fall through a portal to another world of an ersatz Japan before you can get laid! That tells us a lot about the experiential priorities of this guy in particular that he's still getting that exp-eriential kick from having sex, even after visiting a magical world.

    And if it's not an one-time thing and you get 250 xp every time you have sex, even if it's with the same person, then truly the protagonist of Nippon the RPG will escape the karmic wheel by indulging himself in a multitude of sins, as the Nag Hammadi Gnostic prayer would have it and not by quieting all his desires!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did get 250 more experience points, but then I died for some reason that I didn't understand (the screens were gone before I translated). I wonder if the choice always poses some kind of risk.

      Delete
  17. fun fact:

    the "Bad" in town names means more "spa" and these towns usually have natural and most of the time hot springs.

    The area around Bad Waltersdorf has some extinct vulcanos and has many hot springs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I was aware that it didn't literally mean "bad."

      Delete
    2. I know, but Bad is mostly literally translated to bath(room) which i 99% times also fitting

      The Bad is also more like a title for the town, it has to be granded by the state, or duchy in the past

      Delete
    3. That bad/good joke is entirely my style, but I didn't think Chet would stoop so low. Not complaining, though. Speaking of false cognates, my favorite English/German one is "gift" which means poison in German. Needless to say, you don't want to give (or receive) a "bad gift" in either language.

      Delete
    4. In some languages the words for "poison" and "married" is the same.

      Delete
    5. Needless to say, you don't want to give (or receive) a "bad gift" in either language.

      "I'd thought about kissing her before the rainstorm, but instead I decided to kiss her after, when we were surrounded by the warm mist."

      Delete
  18. You guys just made my day. I'm amazed and humbled for someone to try. I would consider the game nearly unplayable today. �� But it was another time with less games to play,so the individual investment was higher. Also, it was sold in the german market only, no language problems there. We actually had an english Version made, but we and the publisher agreed on German. Would be funny to hear your scrutinizing thoughts about our school English.�� Have fun, Rüdiger.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Rüdiger,
      I just spoke with your counterpart in Funatabi yesterday :). Unfortunately he was a bit of a taciturn with only 6 sentences.

      As you can see, there is a discussion ongoing whether the game in its current form is actually winable. From the fan mail reply from 2004 I know, there is a bug in the original version preventing
      to show a crucial hint in the end game. Maybe you can help us here. Especially Buck in another thread. Write spoilers only in ROT-13
      format.

      Delete
    2. Hi Sebastian, sorry about being taciturn, disk and ram shortage, you know. I will keep an eye on crpgaddict, both with his progress and his sanity. As far as I remember you just need the time info from the bug-ogre. No other flags hidden. Thorsten did the 7 hours run, but you have to know what to do. Our poor addict has some more hours ahead. I hope he continues, now he has found hints about what can be done, ships and flying horses and all. BTW, the game does what we liked best then. Exploring and finding new things. I'll admit making sense out of the story or interpreting the pseudo japanese is maybe stretching it a bit. Still funny to read what people think. No spoilers from me, all is available at nippon-museum.de.

      Delete
    3. Yes, the exploration part is the major part of the game and in my opinion well made. You can play weeks and still find a new interesting towns and places. I also hope, that he continues.
      Thanks for the information about the bug. Unfortunately I can't find (or overlook) any information about an important event (time, date) on the website. I will continue searching. Did you check, that the information is really on the website?

      Delete
    4. Rüdiger, thank you for coming by to comment. Please stick around as I'd love to hear more about your influences and how the game was received in its time.

      After my next entry, you'll see that I'm starting to get a handle on the game but still have a lot of questions. In particular, can you clear up what version of the backstory the players actually received when they purchased the game?

      Delete

    5. Hey guys,
      time for me to join the discussion. First of all we were overwhelmed by your interest and devotion to our game. Thanks to all here participating on the commenting section. I will observe this thread like Rüdiger and if you have any questions (also on backgrounds), feel free to ask. Much has been covered on my website http://nippon-museum.de but it is only available in German. We never thought that other people than Germans will play this game.
      It has been a long time since the first launch but we still have lots of memories and may tell funny stories about that time. Talking about those NPC names: every NPC really had some background story in real life or had a meaning by translating the name into English/German (I still remember a lot of them). At that time I purchased a Japan/German dictionary to do some translations of places and people's names. Don't take this seriously. I just copied the translation regardless of grammar or other meaning. It just had to sound Japanese.

      Delete
    6. @CRPPG Addict:
      I had the original version of the game and it was definitely the backstory with the name "Entgültige Fassung" (Final version).

      Delete
  19. Off topic. But I was wondering about the inherent weirdness of playing in emulators. How the device you're using messes up your feel for the game/interface.
    Right now I'm playing Final Fantasy VI on a Game Boy Advance emulator on my Android phone and I couldn't understand why my saves weren't working.
    Turns out I was assuming that when I walked over a save spot/save crystal and the screen blinked the game automatically saved. Of course I needed to actually go into the menu and save. If I had been playing on original hardware it would have been obvious that I needed to do that, but I guess I'm used to autosaves in mobile games on my phone so it took me hours and a few restarts to figure out what I was doing wrong.

    Funny stuff.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think in case of Nippon, the experience is better. You don't have the waiting times while switching between cities and the outside world. You can save whenever you want.

      Delete
    2. When playing on original equipment, especially when it involves lengthy disk swaps, your decision making becomes much more deliberate.

      Delete
    3. A good example is going to come up in the next entry. It turns out that treasure rooms reset when you enter and leave the cities. At 200% speed on an emulator, it's not much effort to walk out, switch a disk image, and walk back in. Back in 1988, you might eschew unlimited wealth if it got too boring.

      Delete
    4. Yeah the disconnect is on multiple levels, tactile (different input devices leading to confusion) and experiential (emulation speed and save states and whatnot leading to new/different playing styles).

      I find it interesting.

      Delete

I welcome all comments about the material in this blog, and I generally do not censor them. However, please follow these rules:

1. Do not link to any commercial entities, including Kickstarter campaigns, unless they're directly relevant to the material in the associated blog posting. (For instance, that GOG is selling the particular game I'm playing is relevant; that Steam is having a sale this week on other games is not.) THIS ALSO INCLUDES USER NAMES THAT LINK TO ADVERTISING.

2. Please avoid profanity and vulgar language. I don't want my blog flagged by too many filters.

3. Please don't comment anonymously. It makes it impossible to tell who's who in a thread. Choose the "Name/URL" option, pick a name for yourself, and just leave the URL blank.

4. I appreciate if you use ROT13 for explicit spoilers for the current game and upcoming games. Please at least mention "ROT13" in the comment so we don't get a lot of replies saying "what is that gibberish?"

Also, Blogger has a way of "eating" comments, so I highly recommend that you copy your words to the clipboard before submitting, just in case.

NOTE: I'm sorry for any difficulty commenting. I turn moderation on and off and "word verification" on and off frequently depending on the volume of spam I'm receiving. I only use either when spam gets out of control, so I appreciate your patience with both moderation tools.