Thursday, July 3, 2014

Dragonflight: Almost Won (with Final Rating)

As far as I can get before the game inexplicably ends.

Thalion Software (developer and publisher)
Released 1990 for Atari ST and Amiga, 1991 for DOS
Date Started: 6 June 2014
Date Ended: 2 July 2014
Total Hours: 58
Difficulty: Moderate (3/5)
Final Rating: 36
Ranking at Time of Posting: 103/150 (69%)
Ranking at Game #457: 341/457 (75%)

All right. Screw this game. I've made it to the endgame, I have all the items needed, I have all the damned spells, but the game just takes me to the "game over" screen, with no explanation, the moment I enter the final area. I don't even care what the answer is. I've wasted too much time on this game to spend even another second.

It wouldn't have been a clean win anyway. Since my last post, I grew so sick of the game that I cheated by looking at dungeon maps online. I don't regret it one bit. The five remaining dungeons were massive--navigational nightmares of secret doors, teleporters, traps, weird fungi that make you charge off in random directions, and hundreds of endless, pointless combats. Even using cheats, it's taken me more than 17 hours since the last post. Without them--mapping every single dungeon exhaustively--it would have taken me well over 40.

These were the plot developments towards the end:

1. The pieces of Eltam: They turned out to make a wand. It was kind of nice because it was the only missile weapon my mage could use, but it wasn't that great. It certainly wasn't necessary to complete the game.

Oh, and you have to mess around with different ways to assemble it. One of the ways supposedly opens locked doors, but I couldn't get that to work.

2. Mastyk: The former headquarters of the black magicians. Other than spells and monsters, the giant dungeon mostly just had hints. One of the hints was that the "Shadow" is actually the "final phase of transformation which Murstor the Angry has gone through." Murstor was the founder of the school of black magic. This would be an interesting nod to the lore if Murstor had appeared in the back story, but he doesn't. The mouth says that "no one knows his aims or understands his actions," and they never became clearer.

I also never encountered him again. Maybe he was supposed to show up at the end game.

3. The map: Finished it thanks to some hints. There's a guy in Scatterbone who has two map pieces, but I'm not sure how you were supposed to discover that in-game. Probably some NPC that I missed said so.

Ta-da: The endgame area, the Dragon Valley, is the continent to the southwest. If the main continent is a dragon, the Dragon Valley is . . . what?. . . its egg? Let's go with egg.
4. The mushroom phial: You have to eat it in a particular part of the forest on the "dragon's jaw." Once you do, the area goes all wonky and a hidden dungeon entrance appears. I have no idea how players are supposed to know that this is where they eat the phial. (In the ST version, if I ate it anywhere else, the game crashed.) Anyway, at the bottom of the hidden dungeon, I found the "fragment" I needed to shatter the crystal holding the unicorn captive.


5. The Book of Knowledge: Long explanation on this one:

There was this guy in Trolian who wouldn't talk to me unless I had an "open mind." Thanks to trudodyr, I learned that this was a bad translation, and a better one was "generous heart." I realized he wanted me to elevate my character points. This is done most easily by giving scrolls to the university in Pegana.

Magic has played such a generally weak role in this game, and nowhere has there been a spell that was absolutely required. Figuring I didn't need any new spells, even if I didn't already have them, I just gave all my scrolls to the university, including one that had a "nameless spell." The manual indicated that the spell did mass damage to enemies, but I was already doing just fine in that regard without it, and it was a "black" spell anyway. I didn't figure I'd miss it.

There must be a better way to say this.

With my elevated character points, I went back to the NPC in Thalion. His name was Netaldur, and I had a "list" of his that I'd recovered from Kolbralon, the dungeon in the ice continent. When the characters explained about the attempts to restore magic at the university, he was delighted, and he gave me a "Book of Knowledge" that balanced black and white magic and removed the need to specialize in one or the other.

The book also told me about four spells that I'd need at the end of the game: "Healing Trance," "Fear," "Lightning," and the very "Nameless Spell" that I'd given away to get Netaldur to talk with me in the first place.

Lots of swearing followed, as well as a draft of this post that said "screw it" and refused to go back into the dungeons hunting for the spell.

But after a day of calming down, I sucked it up and re-explored two dungeons before I found the one (Aboltyk) that had contained the "Nameless" spells. It turned out to be a reasonably good mass damage spell. More important, I finally had all the spells needed for the endgame. Gleefully, I headed to the Dragon Valley.

One blow from my "fragment" shattered the crystal holding the unicorn captive and she went galloping off in the sunshine.

"When the last eagle flies over the last crumbling mountain . . ."

Then there was a brief maze culminating in a dungeon door. Entering produces this message:

A mighty gate blocks the entrance to a cave. It is surrounded by a magic glow. But when all of you use the spell from the Book of Wisdom it disappears into the ground. You enter the darkness of the mighty cave. Dobranur lights a torch and in its light you see evidence of a horrible fight. This must be the place where the battle between the magicians took place. A faint glow from the end of the cave attracts your attention. Just in between of some earthbounds [sic] elements, the air seems to become more solid. A sphere of pure magic energy exists there.

At this point, the game immediately goes to the "full party death" "end of all hope" screen. Before anyone asks, yes, I do have the four necessary spells prepared in the spellbooks. Is the solution that the characters have to have them memorized in a particular character order? If so, screw that. I'm not slogging around more dungeons so I can find "Healing Trance" for Bladus, "Nameless" for Dobranur, and "Lightning" for Andariel, which is what I would have to do.

Gerry Müller-Bruhnke's "Thalion Source" web site (previously linked by several commenters) has a few screenshots of what's supposed to happen. The party casts the spells in the correct order, and a dragon comes flying out of a portal. He congratulates the party and indicates that it was Lord Avaram (the orc king who lead the black magicians during the time of the war) who had banished the dragons. He says that the dragons have used their time in exile to become proficient with magic, which they will now use to serve the good of the land and the humanoid races.

This is, alas, not my shot.

I was close enough. It wasn't my fault. I'm calling it a "win."

Let me go back to complaining for a moment. I used the word "pointless" to describe the combats for a few reasons. First, as we covered last time, I hit an experience cap and was no longer getting any character development from all the combats. Second, I didn't need any more character development in the first place. The hardest "normal" enemy in the game is the balron, and my characters were more than capable of taking on waves and waves of them.

"Guardians" wipe out all but one of my party members.

There were a couple of "abnormal" enemies: statues and guardians. Both only die from the "Staff of Stone" I found in the Shadow's cavern. The staff has to be loaded with a gemstone prior to each combat, and it basically shoots gems at the statues, killing them instantly. Without the staff, victory is impossible; with it, there's no danger from statues whatsoever. Guardians are another matter. They kill characters instantly unless they're wearing Dragonrings. Unfortunately, you encounter these bastards long before everyone has a Dragonring. (There's a single dungeon with a Dragonring and no guardians, so I suppose you could wait for it to respawn three times, but that would have made an already-tedious game much worse.) The result was I had to finish a couple of dungeons with only one or two characters alive, then resurrect everyone else at a temple. It's another testament to the pointlessness of the combats when a single character can finish a late-game dungeon.

Not just a single character--the weakest character in the group.

There were a number of other things that make the late game maddening. Monsters roaming the wilderness increase exponentially, so I had to keep stopping and fighting energy balls, ghosts, and "beasts" while just trying to get from one place to another. The later dungeons ate up keys by the dozens, forcing me to leave a few times to re-stock, even when I thought I'd brought plenty. Perhaps realizing that the enemies weren't challenging enough, the developers made traps that do thousands of hit points in damage, forcing me to constantly stop and heal. Many of the levels had complicated teleporter mazes that take you to identical-looking areas, defying mapping solutions.

Cue a long, exasperated sigh.

The Staff of Stone is the only thing that kills guardians and statues, as I said, but it's useless against anyone else (and you wouldn't want to waste the gems anyway). You can't change weapons in combat, and sometimes there would be two rooms in a row, one with say, balrons, and the next with statues. I'd have to fight the first one, leave, save, change weapons, and then go into the second room. Having to re-charge the staff in between combats was equally annoying, and more often than not, I forgot, entered combat with statues, found my staff was dead, and had to re-load.

By the time I was done with the dungeons, I wanted to find the developers, hang them upside down by their lederhosen, and demand to know exactly what, for %$@'s sake, they thought they were doing. The second half of the game is absolutely jaw-dropping in its hubris--in its disregard for the player's time or enjoyment. For most of my time with Dragonflight, I've been calling it "average," but no game deserves even that lofty label if it makes the player expend so much time for so little reward.

Let me GIMLET the thing and be done with it.
  • 5 points for the game world. The back story tells a fairly original tale of lost dragons and lost magic, and the party's quest is generally clear, although it takes a while for the various pieces to come together. There were some small touches that gave the sense of an evolving gameworld, such as the mushroom potion making permanent changes to the terrain and orcs disappearing as enemies once the orc treaty is signed.

This NPC encounter, too.

  • 3 points for character creation and development. There's no creation at all. As the characters gain experience, they increase in health, strength, combat movements, and magic power, and until the middle of the game, when you hit the experience cap, these improvements are generally rewarding. The level cap, and the rapidity with which you reach it, are completely inexcusable.
  • 4 points for NPC interaction. You talk to NPCs in houses and wandering through towns, and their intelligence definitely advances the plot of the game and fleshes out the game world. There aren't really any dialogue options, though, and role-playing is limited to whether you give gold to beggars.
  • 4 points for encounters and foes. There aren't any classic RPG encounters--just a couple of light puzzles. Enemies are somewhat boilerplate, though described well in the manual, and differentiated in combat by attack type and power.
  • 3 points for magic and combat. The combat screen is creative, but not really in a good way. Combat offers few tactics, especially since you can't change spells or weapons after combat begins. Magic is of the typical spell/mana variety, with few offensive spells offering much benefit over physical attacks. Listening at doors to prepare offers the only real strategy.

Battling some "beasts." Rinakles has just turned one to ash with the "Nameless" spell.

  • 4 points for equipment. There isn't much in the way of weapons and armor. Basically, there's one magic weapon for each character, obtained by solving a side-quest, and so you generally only get one or two weapon upgrades in the game. There are a few types of armor, lots of potions, some quest items, and a variety of treasures to sell. The potions--including the ability to mix them--would have been more interesting if they had been more necessary, but combat and exploration were easy enough without them.

I'm having flashbacks to my bachelor party.

  • 4 points for economy. For the first half of the game, it's pretty good. You're selling individual mushrooms for a little extra gold and desperately trying to save up for that first ship. Late in the game, the economy breaks. My characters ended the game each with 9,999 gold (the maximum) and hundreds of unsold treasures.
  • 4 points for quests. The main quest was interesting, with multiple steps along the way. I'm having a hard time figuring out what quests were authentic "side-quests," but there were a few. There's no role-playing or alternate outcomes.
  • 3 points for graphics, sound, and interface. The graphics are nice enough, but there's no sound except for repetitive music, which I turned off. The mouse-driven interface was easy enough to figure out, but as usual I'm subtracting points for not making any use of the keyboard except when moving. There's no reason that "T" couldn't have activated the "Talk" button or "C" the "Cast" button instead of forcing me to awkwardly walk with my left hand while trying to click the buttons with my right.
  • 2 points for gameplay. It has a strong and welcome non-linearity. But as we've seen, the game is way, way, way too long, with too many large dungeons, too many combats, and too much backtracking around the game world. Dragonflight has absolutely no sense of pacing. And while the game was too long, it was also too easy, with the foes offering virtually no challenge in the latter two-thirds of the game.

Add 'em up and we get a final score of 36. I usually consider a game "recommended" at 35. In this case, I recommend that you play it for a few hours to experience an unusual contribution from some developers who would become famous for other games, but for the love of all that's holy, don't bother to try to win it. There are better things to do with our short years on Earth.

You'll never catch me saying that Dragonflight isn't creative and original. It's just that most of its variations from the norm felt "foreign" rather than "innovative." For instance, in 150 previous games, I've never had to worry whether an NPC was "home" when I knocked on his door. While I grant that NPCs who sometimes answer the door and sometimes don't is a creative contribution, it isn't one that made me feel positively about the game. It rather felt like the game was wasting my time.

The game offers an innovative system for mixing potions, but renders it completely useless. The back story is detailed to the point of being unnecessarily detailed. The combat screen is one of the most unusual I've ever seen, and yet it offers fewer options and tactics than games from a decade prior. Many, many other elements--ships that won't sail where you want them to go and disappear if you walk too far away; "common" spells that the game will let you memorize but you never need them; the "character points" system; the mushrooms that you find by the boatload but that don't do anything; the temples and "temple teleportation" system; the numbering of each city's houses; the ridiculously fatal traps; the traps that make chests or your weapons disappear; the magic mouths; the enemies unkillable except with the Staff of Stones; having to bribe guards with alcohol; the method of finding secret doors--all make you go "huh," but not admiringly. The things Dragonflight does differently make for a weird gameplay experience, not a better one.

We'll encounter the Thalion crew again, with Amberstar in 1992 and Ambermoon in 1993, and from what I've read, they build on the Dragonflight interface but offer a better RPG experience. I look forward to them. If nothing else, Dragonflight suggests a team of developers who had promise but needed a more practice.

Back now to Fallthru, another game that seems to enjoy prolonging itself. We need a few more quick one-offs, like King's Bounty, in 1990.


  1. Congratulations on winning (I don't think quotation marks are called for) and sorry for the dull endgame experience.

    1. As much as I meant what I said in the first paragraph, I'm annoyed that I don't know why I can't experience the endgame. If someone comes along and knows the solution and it turns out to be something simple, I can't guarantee I won't do it.

    2. According to the German spoilers page, your guess about each character needing one spell was right.

    3. Well, each of my characters HAS one spell. They just don't have them in a particular order. I'm worried that since the order is Healing Touch, Nameless Spell, Fear, Lightning, it means that Bladus (the first character) has to have "Healing Touch," Rinakles (second) has to have "Nameless," and so forth. Is that what the German site says? I didn't get that from Google's English translation, but then again it's pretty awful.

    4. I found both a way to get it finished easily and the correct order and distribution of spells. Excuse the cheery writing style, it's a direct translation of a German contemporary source:
      On the Amiga it is quite simple to play Dragonflight to the end. You only need an empty unformatted disk, both Dragonflight disks and half an hour of time.
      You load the program and start by creating a backup-disk. Now back to the main menu, press key [E]. Although there is no stored save file on the disk all sequences are now opened. To watch the final one just press [F]. After loading you need to do the following actions:
      Click the „Magic“-Icon and then Andariel, she'll conjure „Healing Trance“.
      Now do magic with Rinacles; he'll conjure the nameless spell.
      With Dobranur you conjure „Fear“
      Last but not least Bladus conjures "Lightning".

    5. Well, that would help if I could get the Amiga version running in the first place.

      The information does suggest that the problem wasn't a failure to have the right spells with the right characters, though. I have the spells allotted to the same characters as in these instructions.

    6. I have read some german solutions, none of them mentions a special order to learn the spells. You did prepare them, right?

    7. Yes. I think you identified the issue below.

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  3. "If nothing else, Dragonflight suggests a team of developers who had promise but needed a more practice."
    You are 100% correct on that one.
    I'm impressed - although not surprised :) - that you made it this far. I gave up waaaaay earlier back then and was extremely disappointed, since I made the mistake of playing it shortly after Amberstar.

    1. I was just reading an article in a business magazine. It basically said that a huge problem that Americans face in business and personal lives is they don't quit things enough. They don't admit when something isn't working and just walk away--and as a consequence they sink thousands of hours into unproductive, unrewarding jobs, relationships, diets, and what have you. Of course, I saw a more directly relevant application in my life.

    2. What's the article titled? I'm curious.

    3. Bollocks. I'm trying to find it now and I can't. I was reading it in a magazine on an airplane--one of the ones that the crew keeps for just anyone to take--and I can't even remember which one. Nothing's coming up on the keywords I'm entering. I wish I had saved it.

    4. Found it!

  4. Amberstar is far better than Dragonflight and handles most or even everything you complain about at Dragonflight (or at least improves it):
    *Dungeons are shorter and more immersive
    *Combat is still tedious at times, but far less
    *Character progression actually works
    *You have to hunt down some NPCs and get passwords etc. as well, but it surely is less annoying and at times also rewarding; there are also magic mouths
    *The stupid traps are gone
    *The casting system is more plain and simple
    *No experience cap and also levelling up is rewarding
    *You can create your own character and add 5 (out of ~10) NPcs to your group and choose professions for many of them; but those character classes aren't balanced to well (hybrid classes mostly suck)
    *There are some orphan features like listening and searching still in Amberstar, but aren't used too much.
    *Keyboard controls! (NumPad)

    Nice to see the progress the team made, I think that was also influenced by Karsten Koeper joining them. Thank you for playing this game, so I don't have to. :)

    You can really look forward to Amberstar even though this wasn't the best experience!

    1. Thanks, sucinum. That's really good to know. It'll make me not dread Amberstar when it comes up.

  5. Re quick one-offs:
    Keys to Maramon looks like it fits your bill.

    Oh, and Spacewrecked == B.S.S. Jane Seymour/Federation Quest, which you've already rejected.

    1. Awesome news! I get to cross another one of the 1990 list with no effort at all. Thanks!

      Isn't The Keys to Maramon a sequel to The Magic Candle? I would have thought it had a similar scope. I guess that's good to know.

    2. Maramon is far more novice friendly. I never played it through, but from what I've seen googling it isn't very big.

      And while we're at crossing items off the list:
      Bad Blood has different starting characters, but no stats or char progression at all.
      It's the successor to Times of Lore, and while the story might be more interesting, the gameplay basically hasn't changed.

    3. I love The Magic Candle's main series, but IMO, Keys of Maramon's "sequelness" is tenuous. It's a barely-related action-adventure that plays like "Prophecy: The Fall of Trinadon", though written with less ambition and scope.

      It's not devoid of all goodness, and at least it's quickly dispatched, but it's still pretty unrewarding. It would be an okay palate-cleanser between tactical games, but I wouldn't hit it right after a dog like Dragonflight.

    4. The relationship between Keys To Maramon with The Magic Candle is to Times Of Lore with Ultima.

      HOWEVER, you can export your Keys To Maramon character to Magic Candle 2.

      If you import your character from Magic Candle 1 to Magic Candle 2, you get Brennix.

      If you import your character from Keys To Maramon to Magic Candle 2, you get Maramon Pearl Plate Armor.

      So, depends if you prefer to start off Defensive or Offensive. Both items cannot be obtained through any other channels.

  6. Dark Designs II should be a one-nighter

    1. The first one was. I should have just played them together. I don't know why I didn't.

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  8. Congratulations!
    I see there is still a long way before me... ;-)

    Chet, can you share your dungeon maps?
    And/or also specify some new POI positions on my Interactive World Map?
    Thanks in advance, I'll be happy for any info:

    1. I just sent you a list of all the positions on the world map that I don't think you had. I think that's all of them.

      As for the dungeon maps, I'm not sure they would help you. I only mapped the levels that were large or complicated, and for which I didn't find a level map. Even then, I half-assed it most of the time. I didn't bother to annotate treasures and monsters on most of the maps, since I didn't think I'd be returning, and I used the "Thalion Source" web site for all of the late game maps. You'd be better off just linking there.

  9. I see I'm not the only one who fantasizes about kidnapping the developers of a game and yelling at them for torturing me with their product.

    "You do it!" "YOU DO IT!!!"

  10. I would have been even harsher than you I guess. I think it's a huge mistake if games have riddles without an in-game solution. That eat-the-mushrooms-at-that-place was one like them. Legend of Faerghail also had one, the poem by Schiller. I don't know why german games do that.

    1. My problem is that I don't know for sure that there is no in-game solution. I didn't re-visit every NPC, and online hints and walkthroughs for the game aren't extensive enough to fill in any holes.

  11. I think it derives from the german pen and paper culture, where those riddles seem to be fairly common.

    On the other hand, it's not strictly a german thing, BGII did it, too, in fact, it did it along with a lot of the other IE games. And even then it's a common enough trope to have been parodied in rpg circles like the webcomic oots. Lot's a acronyms in this post..

    I apologize,

    1. I know what you mean...but those riddles, like the ones in the De'arnise Keep are 'universal' riddles, and the answers are "the sun" or "time" or something like that. The Forgotten Realms world has these things, a sun, or time. But the universe of Legend of Faeghail does not have a Friedrich Schiller. Also, BGII at least let's you choose among a couple of options so you can succeed by trial and error, whereas in the two german games if you don't know the solution, it's over.

    2. No it wasn't the De'Arnise keep, it was the old temple in the Umar Hills.

    3. Choosing from a list made the BG2 puzzles a bit easy, I thought.

      In general, I agree with Alexander. When making games for multiple languages, direct translations of riddles don't really work.

      Think of this easy one: "What has hands but cannot clap?" The answer--a clock--depends on the dual meaning of "hand" in English. If we translate this to German, we either have to choose "hand" (which literally refers to human hands) or "zeiger" (which means "pointer") or "uhrzeiger," which literally refers to a clock hand. In the case of the former, the riddle becomes nonsensical; in the case of the latter, it becomes obvious. There is effectively no way to render the same riddle in German, and a good game developer would simply insert a different riddle that makes sense in the translated language.

    4. Good point. English has become my second language so I forgot about this problem. I have ehard that the german translation and synchronisation is terrible. But I never experienced it myself.

    5. Then the Chinese Historical/Wuxia RPGs which are chock full of those are gonna bring you to a weeping heap.

      I remember some of them even requires a layman knowledge of the Eight Trigrams and Acupuncture Points. XD

    6. It's me again...while I agree on the trail and error and making things too easy points, I've often encountered situations where I wasn't sure about the right spelling of something...spaces, hyphens, what have you...

      And even then I think riddles should be solved by the characters ingame, not by the player. That in turn has led to situations where I knew the answer but could not give it due to a lack of options...or I had in very intelligent charcters in mechanical terms and still could not get questions short, I hate riddles in CRPGs.

      I think that trend is dying out, it makes me glad.

  12. Ta-da: The endgame area, the Dragon Valley, is the continent to the southwest. If the main continent is a dragon, the Dragon Valley is . . . what?. . . its egg? Let's go with egg.
    I think the continent resembles a seahorse (which was thought to be a baby dragon by some ancient cultures).

  13. Out of curiosity, what's the maximum amount of points you would give in a single category?

    I see that Corporation is one the games you'll be playing next. While the execution is not great, it did have some interesting ideas. I think it'd be fun to experience, at the very least.

    1. Everything is on a scale of 0-10.

    2. Ah, I see.

      Are you sure you don't need to update your "longest played" list at the right with this game? The early Netheck series took 62 hours while this took 58.

      I wasn't able to find your play time for the games lower on the list, (Might & Magic 1, Ultima V and The Bard's Tale), but I'm guessing that you spent less than 58 hours on at least one of them.

    3. Yes, you're right. I often forget to update that sidebar.

      The list of the games I've played and their ratings (in the side-bar) has the number of hours on each game. This one falls between early NetHack and MM1.

  14. Did you ever figure out why you kept getting a game over screen on that one hut? I may have missed the explanation.

    1. No! But it's essentially the same thing. Walk on it, get whisked to the "game over" screen with no explanation.

  15. I would subtract AT LEAST one point from the final GIMLET for all the sadism -- pointless and unrewarding combat, unavoidable traps that destroy weapons and force reloading, teleporters that strand you and force reloading, NPC-lore pixel-bitching, inscrutable riddles, requiring unmotivated actions, and lots of other kinds of player-hatin'. This game is a textbook case of Fake Difficulty.

    A final score of 35 would hit the cusp exactly and would be like saying, "I grudgingly recommend this game, but with great reluctance, damning qualifiers, and the proviso that you don't even think about playing to win."

    1. I thought about it, but I felt like I punished it enough in the "gameplay" section. I wouldn't have a problem if someone mentally wanted to do that.

  16. Well, I'm glad this game is over with. It shows when you're playing a game you're genuinely enjoying and the posts are better for it, though your grumbling posts are frequently entertaining as well. But who wants to be stuck with a game that's worn out its welcome? On to the next!

  17. Japanese games are the bestJuly 3, 2014 at 5:06 PM

    Sometimes, games are great despite horrible flaws: Shiny's games have terrible controls and the pacing of a Shyamalan movie, but their imagination and variety make them barely playable. Mother's gameplay and design are incredibly hit-and-miss, but it is by far the strangest game series ever, and that makes it a classic. Missing since January and Evidence the Last Ritual are composed of awkwardly-designed puzzles and minigames, but they are the only games that are even a thousandth as strange as Earthbound, and that makes them great. Metal Gear Solid tends to go overboard with the cutscenes, but those scenes have weird twist and subtle messages, and sometimes there are great bits of gameplay like fighting The End and Liquid Ocelot and literally wading through Hell, so it is still really great. Passage is only five minutes long and has no gameplay or story, but it presents its message so well, broadly and subtly, with so much room for interpretration, that it belongs in a museum. Two Brothers is a horribly buggy mess that breaks literally every few minutes, but it has wonderful gameplay and style that evoke the classics while being distinct. Castlevania has slow movement, but it uses that to force the player to rethink his actions and rewire his reflexes, and that makes it awesome. Dead Rising and Deadly Premonition have survival horror controls, but their David Lynch-style worlds make them fun.

    1. Prease go away.

    2. Agreement. If writing own reviews is you wish, it is suggested you write own blog. Else, very disrespectful and lacking honor. Please to ask forgiveness. You are thank.

    3. Japanese games are the bestJuly 3, 2014 at 5:27 PM

      I was not writing reviews, I was just mentioning games that were flawed but fun, like this one according to the addict. Reviews would require a lot more depth and detail.

    4. JGATB: It is pointless to cite games that old-school CRPG players have never even heard of. This isn't the JRPG Addict, and I'm sure that some of the ones you mentioned aren't even RPGs in the broadest sense. So all you've done is confuse the regulars and decrease the signal-to-noise ratio here.

    5. Japanese games are the bestJuly 3, 2014 at 5:45 PM

      Some guys play a variety of games: I sometimes play Ultima; Wizardry; Dungeons and Dragons, either Gold Box or Bioware; Might and Magic; and also a bit of Darklands and Wasteland; but I also play other games. Playing one type of game is not mutually exclusive with playing other games.

    6. Anonymous commenter, is it seriously not possible to have a conversation about Japanese games (on-topic or not) without making use of offensive and racist caricatures?

    7. That goes for "Old Gamer" also. It's not 1950, y'all.

    8. @Japanese - What you said have merits except:
      1) Some games (like the titular one) would have been great except for some horrible flaws.
      2) It might help if you could, y'know, break your sentences into paragraphs.

    9. While I appreciate everyone's attempts to keep the comment threads relevant and don't disagree with anything SPECIFIC that's been said in these replies, I'd point out that if everyone had just left the original comment alone, it would have kept this comments section a lot MORE relevant to this game.

  18. JGATB, I have plenty of non-CRPG gaming interests too, but I'm not spamming the comments with mine, because they're outside this blog's scope. The Addict and many regular readers here have expressed their distaste for Japanese games in general. I'll leave it to Chet to have the final say on this, but in a word:

    You made a non-contributory trite observation about non-game-breaking flaws, then gave dozens of lines of blog-irrelevant citations about games that most of Chet's core audience has never played nor ever wants to. You don't see the problem here?

    If you've *actually* played the (suspiciously committee-worthy) list of CRPGs that you named, then feel free to comment on those, when and where it's relevant -- like in those games' blog entries.

    1. I don't know about "many" regular readers. I don't hate JRPGs at all. They contributed quite a lot of ideas that are implemented in a lot of our modern English CRPGs (mostly appearing in World Of Warcraft, D&D 3rd Edition onwards, D20 games and many more), IMHO.

      Action Time Bar (ATB) - Predecessor of Cooldown Timers
      Class Upgrade/Branching - Skill Trees, Prestige Classes
      Special Attacks - Class Skills, Special Moves

    2. As a TRPG hound, I can tell you that most of those innovations are not original to JRPGs.

      My own feelings about JRPGs isn't that they're badwrongfun, but I'm not into them, and their fandom seriously aggravates me.

    3. I've got a strange fondness for JRPGs from the eighties, though my favorites are those that never made it to US shores, such as the NES's Ys series and a few unique one-offs such as The Chronicles of the Radia War and Rainbow Road.

      The thing that turns me off JRPG's as the timeline progresses is that there never seems to be a whole lot of innovation within the genre.

      Playing a recent Dragon Quest game gets you much the same experience as you would have gotten twenty years ago. Final Fantasy isn't as bad in that respect, but FF12 was basically Star Wars with a Final Fantasy coating on top anyway.

    4. The Dragon Quest games are an ode to OCD-ism. They're a very special niche, and they do it very well, but that doesn't give that much leeway to originality.

      I'd say some of the Wii rpgs like Xenoblade and Last Story are more innovative, especially with they single-player MMO feel.

    5. @Anonymous - "Most"? I only named 3. Which of those originated from America or Europe?

    6. Olivier Galibert: I quite liked The Last Story. Dress-up mode, fun silly story (to the point I got to; breaking out of jail), and a cool art style. It is too bad that the Wii held it back so much and gave it such blurry art. I have no idea why it was on Wii when it didn't use ANY of the Wii's tech.

  19. Have to say I'm glad to see the end of this game. Yikes. The game-ending bug a scene before the endgame is seriously slow-clap worthy. I would have thrown my computer out the window. Bravo for sticking to it this long, and glad you were able to find some kind of interesting beginnings of ideas in this thing, even if they didn't go anywhere in this particular title. Here's hoping for something fresh and fun next game.

    1. I ASSUME it's a bug. I'm waiting for anyone to chime in and suggest otherwise. I suppose it's possible that some NPC somewhere says, "Don't go into the Dragon Valley without the Blah of Blah! You'll die instantly, with no warning or explanation!"

    2. When I first mentioned the german Dragonflight Let's Play on Youtube, I said that there was a game-breaking bug that aborted the Let's Play. It might be this one.

      This the 21st part of the Let's Play:

      Here's what the uploader khaoliang says in the comments, translated from german:
      "@DimitriosBekas look at your PMs. And in addition, Dragonflight will be played further. I just have to play a certain Amiga-version of the game because the Atari version contains an inevitable bug just before the end. (...)"

      I think you made it as far as possible on the Atari version.

    3. There is another post which explains it better is: the Atari version has a bug where you always get "game over" instead of cut scenes.

      This also explains the hut.

      The author of the Let's Play said that he had to replay the game in a certain version on an Amiga emulator and he isn't motivated to do that right now. That was 3 yrs ago and the LP was never continued... So I guess the saves are not compatible, he supposedly would have known/tried that.

    4. I was willing to believe nobody had even bothered making it this far, but I underestimate the pain tolerance of gamers! Of course, back then, games were pretty expensive, and I can understand wanting to finish after you've already sunk 20-30 hours in, even if that means 20-30 hours more. Wasn't there at least one similarly dreary, tedious exercise where you ultimately determined that you might be the only person who had ever completed the thing? Or am I imagining things?

    5. >The weird thing is that I also find people saying they completed the Atari ST version of the game

      Maybe it's an emulator bug?

    6. 100% certain it's an emulator bug/limitation. I remember playing and completing Dragonflight on the Atari ST when it originally came out, and there were no serious bugs.

      Thalion was quite closely linked to the "demo scene" (if that means anything to you young'uns) back then, which used all kinds of low-level tricks (e.g. exploiting the hardware's internal timing) to achieve effects that could not be achieved "officially", such as displaying images with more than 16 colors. The cutscenes of Dragonflight were essentially "demos" of this kind, and I'm not surprised to see them crash in an emulator.

      I'm glad the addict didn't deduct more points for these crashes, as they are quite likely not at all the game's fault and not part of the original experience.

    7. After I read this, I fiddled with emulator settings for a while, but nothing made a difference.

    8. It's not that easy. Some disk images out there are incorrectly dumped, meaning you WILL experience errors regardless of the eumlator. This could also mean they produce damaged save files, so it won't help to just switch to another image. Less often but still possible is that certain emulator/image combinations won't work. Which means, dump x of the disk will work in emulator z , while dump y will not. It's especially enraging when you encounter this only late into the game .

  20. @doctorcasino: Er, sorry, no offense intended. I was making a linguistic joke about bad translations, trying to being as accurate as I know how, concerning Japanese grammar. No racism *per se* was intended, and any language could be gently satirized in a similar way. But of course, this being the Intarwebz, it was still ill-advised. Sorry.

    1. Yeesh... do you have to comment separately in your reply?

    2. I always try to reply directly, but it's irregularly sucessful on Chrome for Android.

    3. Anonymous, thanks for responding. To me, the downside risk of potentially making somebody feel unwelcome, uncomfortable, or worse, counsels against reaching for these kind of jokes, even if they are meant at the expense of bad translators. Apology appreciated, however.

      As for replies, I can never figure out Blogspot on this - some comments have a Reply button underneath and others don't....very strange.

    4. And sometimes the code seems to be broken and hitting "reply" doesn't bring up the reply box, even in a regular PC browser.

      I appreciate when everyone tries to keep threads together, but sometimes it's not possible, and I'd rather have the comment in a new thread than not at all.

  21. And the last lion roars at the last dusty fountain...

  22. Always impressive to see how much crap you're willing to put up with. I would have given up way earlier. I think this blog is one of the best resources on CRPGs on the net. Most other websites only give you the most basic information and/or lots of nostalgic rants (every rpg is the best game ever or at least a "hidden gem" to someone).

    Two more games that aren't on your master list yet:

    - Kayden Garth for the C64: saw this one on lemon64. Note the comment by one of the game's creators, who admits that it is bad and that they only had 90 days to make it.
    - City of Death for the Spectrum. Just got added to mobygames. Seems interesting enough and a bit unusual.

  23. @Kenny: I was thinking of the last two as categories with sub-examples, thus "most". Prestige classes are a D&D thing from early on (see Wizardry I's Bishop/Lord/Samurai/Ninja), as are class skills and special moves (backstabbing, sweeping, and trap-disarming, for instance; later on, feats). Skill trees exist in a rudimentary form as early as Classic/Mega- Traveller. Also, although you didn't mention them, having exclusive schools of magic is another thing that fanboys wrongly credit to Final Fantasy etc.

    The concept of cool-down time might be Older Than You Think as well, but I can't specifically cite anything to back up my suspicion.

    1. Dungeon Master, sorta-kinda?

    2. Ugh... could you, like, try replying directly to the post, man? Prestige classes were NEVER early on.
      You may dual-class, but you never upgrade into a different class in D&D.
      For Wizardry, you can start off as ANY class and, once you hit the requirements, may SWITCH class. It is not the same but I do concur that it might have some influence to the development of FF's class tree.

      Anyway, I think you have misunderstood my earlier depiction.

      Action Time Bar (from JRPGs) - Bred Cooldown Timers (for Anglo-RPGs)
      Class Upgrade/Branching (from JRPGs) - Bred Skill Trees, Prestige Classes (for Anglo-RPGs)
      Special Attacks; i.e. Limit Breaks, Combo Attacks, Tag-Team Attacks like these (from JRPGs) - Bred Class Skills (i.e. D&D 3rd Ed. Arcane Archer's Hail Of Arrows), Special Moves (D&D 3rd Edition Epic Spells)
      Mostly, the combat system is where it differes mostly. See following webiste.

  24. It seems like many of these early CRPGs have game-breaking bugs (especially right at the end). My computer gaming pretty much began in the early 90s, and I don't recall these problems. Perhaps the bugs were exacerbated by trying to develop the same game for very different platforms (DOS, Amiga, Atari), and over the next few years as more software went DOS only those show-stopper bugs go away. I know for the software I develop, it's hard enough to test it on Win 8, Win 7, and Vista. Money and time probably made it effectively impossible to thoroughly test a game that took 60 hours to complete on 3 completely separate platforms.

  25. Guess they were not so fond of´s a picture of the old [URL=] crew [/URL]

    1. well didn´t that work perfectly...

    2. You know that lederhosen are only worn at the oktoberfest and some bavarian town festivals?

  26. Amazing...INVISIBLE Lederhosen ! Germans are so weird...

  27. > By the time I was done with the dungeons, I wanted to find the developers [...]

    Have you talked to the NPCs in Scatterbone ;-)?
    Six of the developers have a cameo appearance in the game. They are walking around in Scannerbone and can be talked to.


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