Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Game 464: Fushigi no Umi no Nadia (1991)

   
         
Fushigi no Umi no Nadia
"Nadia of the Mysterious Seas" 
Japan
Advance Communication Company (developer); Toho Co. (publisher)
Released 1991 for NES
Identically-named adventure games released for other platforms, 1992-1993
Date Started: 3 May 2022
Date Ended: 3 August 2022
Total Hours: 22
Difficulty: Moderate-Hard (3.0/5)
Final Rating: (to come later)
Ranking at Time of Posting: (to come later)
    
Nadia came up on a random roll a few months ago. Although it was originally released only in Japan, I checked to see if anyone had made an English translation, and it turns out that it did. (There isn't much text in the game anyway.) In fact, it was translated as early as 1998 by an outfit calling itself J2E Translations; they don't seem to have been active since 2004. When I saw how long it was going to take, I nearly dumped it, but I unexpectedly found myself enjoying it. I dipped into it once or twice a week over the summer and just recently managed to finish it. It was a decent contrast to the other games on my plate this summer.
   
The game is based on a 1990-1991 Japanese animated television series of the same name, translated for English release as Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water. This is the name that the translators chose for the game's title screen, but I understand the Japanese title means something closer to Nadia of the Mysterious Seas. In any event, the show is set in the late 1800s and draws themes and characters from Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. (I got a copy of the book when I was eight, but it took me nearly another 40 years to realize that the 20,000 leagues are how far the Nautilus traveled, not how deep it traveled.) The 14-year-old heroine has a secret past and carries a mysterious jewel called the Blue Water. She and her inventor friend, Jean, hook up with Captain Nemo and an assortment of other characters to battle a warlord named Gargoyle, who seeks to restore the dominance of Atlantis.
     
A promotional image for the show.
       
There were adventure games of the same name released for the SEGA Genesis and Japanese PCs around the same time, but those don't have anything to do with this Nadia. Frankly, the game has as much to do with the show as C3P0's cereal had with Star Wars. Characters drawn from the show face off across a variety of different landscapes, but they could have easily been swapped with different icons and names to draw from a different framing story. In fact, given the quick turnaround time (the series ended the same year this game was published), I have to wonder if the game wasn't originally developed as a non-licensed title, with some last-minute text and icon swapping.
    
Without any introduction, the player is given a list of 50 scenarios, organized into 10 groups: Streets of Paris, Stone Circle, Gargoyle Castle, Bunglegun Soil, Warehouse, Pipe-Line, Ocean Floor, Antarctic, Cave, and Temple. Each one has a slightly different map, but the goal is always the same: move at least one of your characters across the map and engage and kill the emperor before the Neo-Atlantean forces engage and kill Nadia on your side. If you have two controllers, you can have a second player control the Atlanteans. The names of both allies and enemies are drawn from the show. Allied characters include Nadia, Jean, Nemo, Grandis, Electra, a lion named King, a whale, and the Nautilus itself. Enemies include Gargoyle, Garfish, Canrobot, a tank, and (for some reason) the Tower of Babel. I don't know if their various strengths and skills have any basis in the show.
      
Considering my options on one of the "Antarctic" maps. Yes, there are igloos in the Antarctic.
         
The game looks like a strategy game, and that's how I originally saw it, but it's more accurate to think of it as an enhanced version of chess. Each round, you can move only one character. Each character is capable of different movement paths and distances. Some can move one or two squares in any direction (assuming there are no obstacles); others can move all the way across the map, but only straight across a row, or only diagonally. The emperor, taking the role of the king in chess, is usually somewhat protected, and you have to maneuver your pieces in such a way that you can reach him. There are no automatic captures as in chess; every engagement between pieces results in an RPG-like combat on a separate screen. 
       
This character can move as far as he wants, but only in his existing row or column. If I move him now, I'll only be a couple of steps away from the emperor (the figure two squares from the top and two squares from the right) when I arrive.
     
Combat happens when you end a round adjacent to an enemy. If you end a round adjacent to two enemies, you fight both of them. One good way to protect Nadia is to ensure that she can't be approached without engaging at least one other character at the same time. Since you can only move one character at a time, you can never offensively attack with more than one character.
              
On the combat screen, Captain Nemo attacks a tank.
       
There are other RPG elements. Each character has attributes--strength, armor class, and hit points. Many of them have "skills" that draw from a pool of magic points. Most are used in the combat screen, but some, like a long-distance ranged attack called "Long," can be used on the main screen in lieu of engaging someone in combat. And while you move around the map, useful objects pop up at random, inviting you to grab them to gain an edge in combat. There are items that make a powerful attack, heal, restore magic points, allow you to escape combat without a chance of failure, and several other effects.
       
A "pod" appears on the map for anyone to grab. I honestly don't remember what they do.
         
Most importantly, for our purposes, characters gain experience after each victory and frequently level up, increasing strength, health, magic points, and armor class. (There's also an attribute called "MD" that I never figured out; it might be "Magic Defense.") A character earns about 50 experience points for an evenly-matched battle and levels up every 100 experience points. As your level increases relative to the enemy's, the experience rewards are less and less.
         
A character levels up.
       
Enemy difficulty is based on the map. The first scenario has Level 0 and Level 1 enemies; the fiftieth has some enemies at Level 80. It thus makes sense to take the scenarios in order, and even to repeat the same scenario multiple times as a type of "grinding."
        
Checking the enemy's statistics.
       
That's the theory, anyway. After I got some experience, I realized that the enemy AI is so poor that you don't really have to play the game the way it's clearly intended. (Obviously, that wouldn't be true with a skilled second player.) The enemy fails to take obvious chances to kill Nadia and doesn't do a very good job protecting his emperor. Thus, you're encouraged to build up only one or two characters and just send those powerful allies directly across the map to the emperor, leaving the rest behind to do nothing, rather like decimating a chess opponent by playing nothing but your queen. You occasionally lose this way--there's a lot of randomness in combat--but losing just means you have to play the scenario again. I found that I rarely died. Most characters level up after every couple of combats, which completely restores hit points and magic points. You don't have to conserve your resources when you know you're getting them all back every two or three combats.
        
The enemy uses a "Long" spell to lob a cannonball at one of my characters. It's one of the few ways you can attack from the main screen instead of the combat screen.
       
One thing I liked about the game is how tactics continually evolve. In the early levels, strength is paramount. No one has enough spell points to use magic more than once or twice per scenario. Items like "Boosters" (despite the name, they're an offensive weapon) and shotguns are so much more powerful than your own attacks that you run around the map collecting them. "Boxes," which restore magic points, are worth their weight in gold.
    
I win a scenario!
        
In the late game, physical attacks are nothing. Spells like "Freeze," "Charm" (which just stuns), and of course "Heal" are vital. There are a lot of offensive spells like "Throw" and "Long" that do massive amounts of damage but also have a high chance of failing. Adding to the mix, you don't exactly "take turns" in combat; sometimes, you or the enemy gets two, three, or even four moves in a row. You can never tell, so you have to plan for the worst and hope for the best.
        
If this spell works, I should be able to kill the emperor in one hit.
      
Fifty is a lot of scenarios, and at higher levels, they get particularly tedious since almost every character (enemies included) has healing spells. There's nothing more frustrating than whittling 500 hit points away from your enemy only to watch him restore 300 of them with 10 magic points--and he still has another 250 magic points to go. Having more hit points also gives enemies more time to decide to flee, at which point they appear in some random part of the map. When the emperor does this after you've spent 20 minutes trying to reach him, it's maddening.
        
An enemy casts a "Silence" spell on my whale.
     
Still, I enjoyed the scenarios overall, in limited duration. Just as you probably wouldn't want to play more than one or two games of chess per day, that was about my limit for Nadia battles, which is why it took me so long to win.
   
At first, I wasn't even sure there was a winning condition. I thought maybe the game was just about the individual scenarios. I skipped some of them and replayed others. After I'd completed about half of them, I started jumping directly to #50, hoping to win it to see if anything happened. When I did win it on my fifth or sixth attempt, and nothing did happen, I figured that was it. But a note on a random web site mentioned something about an endgame cinematic, so I sighed and kept at it.
         
Choosing from among the scenarios.
      
When I'd won all the original 50 scenarios, the game suddenly presented me with a new row of five more! The title of the new group was "Space." I nearly packed it in at that point, envisioning yet another row appearing after I'd won #55, but I read a synopsis of the show and learned that the end takes place in space, so I figured that might be the last row after all.
         
One of the final space-based battles.
      
I played the five additional scenarios, and the game finally ended with some animated scenes of the characters dancing around the screen, followed by some credits. 
       
Character images from the show appear for the closing credits.
           
It gets only a 16 on my GIMLET, doing best in character development and magic/combat (3s), but as often happens, the game is a bit better than the rating suggests, since it really wasn't intended as a classic RPG.
     
     
Nadia got me thinking a lot about the relationship between strategic board games like chess and strategy wargames. I have written and deleted a couple thousand words on the subject; I keep finding holes in my logic. I suppose I ought not to write anything at all about chess, which I don't like and am horrible at. (I've never known which of these is the x variable and which is the y.) Suffice to say, it seems to me that a game in which you move only one piece per turn is fundamentally different from a game in which all units can act per turn, but every time I try to articulate the consequences of this distinction, I get lost in a morass. Maybe some of you can point me to existing writings on the subject or offer your own thoughts.
   
For now, I'll just say that because I suck at chess, I'm always envisioning ways to change the rules more to my liking, such as introducing dice--rolling to capture another piece instead of the capture happening automatically. Or giving each player a list of "spells" they can apply at their discretion, once per game, like a spell that lets a particular piece double its movement, or a spell that resurrects a lost piece. Nadia basically represents these ideas come to life. It turns out what I've always wanted from chess is to make it more like an RPG. How astonishing.
 

152 comments:

  1. I'm curious if you've played Archon: The Light And The Dark? It's basically chess with some RPG elements, although no character development, and it sounds like a (spiritual) predecessor to this game.

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    1. And for that matter, the cardgame Knightmare (which, essentially, provides spell cards to use with a regular chess set).

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    2. Archon is exactly the firsy thing I thought, too.

      By the way, I am horrible at chess, too, but I like it. Thus, the two facts (fun vs. skill) seem to be unrelated.

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    3. Never played it, don't think I've ever even heard of it. Sounds worth checking out.

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    4. Archon is one of those games which should have been more influential than it actually was. I'd call it a strategy game with action combat, so its closest descendant is probably Star Control 1.

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    5. Archon has been covered by the DataDrivenGamer. You can see it as a chess-game where the battles are solved with arcades battles not unlike those you had when you played Star Control II (each unit has its strength and weaknesses, and some are hard-countered).

      Then in the physical world there are :
      - Knightmare Chess https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knightmare_Chess - a real chess-game with cards to change th rules (eg "Crab" : one of your pawns can now move laterally). I personally found it mediocre.
      - Panned by the critics because it is much harder to master than the art let you think, I can recommend Zoon , which is also closer to what you described. https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/408/zoon

      In Zoon, each "race" has its own pieces (eg the "pawns" of that race move in diagonals only, whereas the "pawns" of that other race can move back), combat output have some randomness (but not a lot) and there is some randomness thrown in, too.

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    6. Felt I had to mention explicitly that Archon was designed by Paul Reiche III, also of Star Control 1 and 2...

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    7. And there's a chess-based roguelite called Pawnbarian.

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    8. Nobody's said it explicitly, so I'll mention that Star Control is a direct descendant of Archon (which was created by Paul Reiche). Even the name "StAR CONtrol" is a nod to its origin as "Archon in space". Of course, all of the Archon elements were discarded in the more famous sequel.

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    9. Navia Dratp is a chess-like anime-themed game based on Shogi that has a ton of different pieces with different moves. You choose your pieces before playing. When you earn in-game currency you can upgrade your pieces to enable new moves. It's a ton of fun.

      The downside is the unpronouncable name (Navia Dratp is just the tip of the iceberg, with pieces named Sungyullas, Agunilyos, Coydrocomp and worse), and worst of all they made it a collectible game. Imagine buying a chess set and only getting half the pieces you need to play the game in the box. But as a dead collectible game maybe it's easy to purchase a complete set these days for cheap.

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    10. I enjoyed far too many hours playing both versions of Archon on the C64. My favorite was Archon II: Adept. I recently tried it again, and discovered that personally, it was a much less enjoyable experience using the keyboard instead of a joystick.

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    11. To add to the list of games like Archon, Dark Legions (Silicon Knights, 1994) is basically the same concept

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  2. "For now, I'll just say that because I suck at chess, I'm always envisioning ways to change the rules more to my liking, such as introducing dice--rolling to capture another piece instead of the capture happening automatically. Or giving each player a list of "spells" they can apply at their discretion, once per game, like a spell that lets a particular piece double its movement, or a spell that resurrects a lost piece."

    So you basically want Archon, except with RGP-style combat instead of the real-time combat of the actual game.

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  3. "Nadia got me thinking a lot about the relationship between strategic board games like chess and strategy wargames. I have written and deleted a couple thousand words on the subject; I keep finding holes in my logic."
    You don't have to create a perfectly internally consistent framework for how you feel about different types of games before you're allowed to write about them.

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    1. No, but I get enough flak over relatively trivial things that I don't want to publish anything with glaring holes in it.

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    2. The commentariat: "You don't have to have fully coherent ideas to post them! Go, king!"

      Chet: *posts*

      The commentariat: "Your ideas are bad and you should feel bad!"

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    3. To be fair, it's different people making those two arguments.

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    4. I write about food and from time to time I worry that I am not doing justice to a subject. There is always more to say on a topic; more research you could do or more analysis you could give to a game.
      It can be paralyzing, "What if someone notices I didn't mention the variety of olive in that paella? They'll know I'm a fraudulent dilettante!" This is when I remind myself that I do not care about the sort of person who would criticize me for that lack of detail, and I hope you understand, similarly, that people come here to read your opinions because you're a thoughtful writer and we value your take on these games.

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  4. Wow, I thought I was aware of all the hidden Famicom but this one completely escaped me. I’ll have to pick up a copy! So glad you’re playing these weird obscurities.

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  5. One piece moving per turn is a big difference with chess - another is that the strength of a piece in chess is based only on how it moves - anything can capture anything. Do you have trades, forks, pieces protecting each other etc.

    If you like chess like puzzles with an rpg-like element, you might like Into The Breach. It's played on an 8x8 map and there are only about 5 rounds in a battle, although each of your 'pieces' can move and attack once per round.

    The enemies move first and decide their attacks, which you can see. So the puzzle is to get your units out of their attacks, and move or kill any that are threatening the objectives you have to defend. (All your teams have units that are better at pushing enemies than punching them.) If you line up the enemies right, they will fire their attacks anyway and kill or injure each other.

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    1. Most days recently I've done an Into the Breach run and quit in disgust at my own failings.

      Both it and its sister game Faster Than Light are masterful game design.

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    2. That does sound like an interesting game; thanks for the recommendation.

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    3. I hereby recommand Into the Breach as well. I don't know anyone who did not at the minimum "liked it a lot" if not more. It is now used as a reference for game design, and probably one of the top-5 Indie game of the last () 5 years.
      Also, "battles" are over in 1-2 minutes and a whole session can end in 30 minutes. You will know IMMEDIATELY if you like it or not. (and of course you will).

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    4. In case you want to save a few bucks, I think Into the Breach is available from the Netflix Mobile App, where they have started offering games, too.

      I did not try the mobile version of the game, however. The desktop version is surely fun.

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    5. Another hearty vote for both FTL and ITB (Into the Breach). I think FTL is the better game, but Into the Breach is still good. Also, Addict will probably like ITB because it has zero real-time elements - it's pure tactics, while FTL has some real-time elements. Both games feature the units you control gaining experience and improving their skills, and equipment, so there is a small RPG element, like Star Control 2.

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    6. FTL is real time w/ pause though, so player doesn't have to stress about their Actions Per Minute.

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    7. I was just playing the extended Into the Breach teams when I stopped to read this entry.

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    8. I love ITB but it hates me with the fury of a thousand suns burning. On easy is almost too easy but on normal it kicks me down almost immediatly.

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    9. @Eugene : I believe ITB is the much superior game, though I understand the love for FTL. FTL is highly driven by luck, and often feels unbalanced in one direction or another - sometimes you just don't have a chance against a ship, and sometimes you have the perfect combo that eraes ship after ship and makes you filthy rich. On the other hand, ITB's battle difficulty always fell between "Should be easy but I need to focus if I don't want to do a mistake" and "Really hard, but fair". There is not this impression of falling significantely behind on the power curve except if you are lucky, and yet if you do well you can get ahead on the power curve, but never too much.

      Also, much shorter campaigns that never drag on.

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    10. I really like FTL but didn't get too into ITB. I don't know if it opens up, but on my first try I beat all the islands on the normal difficulty and just thought...huh. That's it? Conversely, I've got 50 hours in FTL and have never won (only gotten to the final boss a few times).

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  6. "but it took me nearly another 40 years to realize that the 20,000 leagues are how far the Nautilus traveled, not how deep it traveled"

    Oh f**k me. Mind blown. That makes so much more sense.

    "....chess, which I don't like and am horrible at. (I've never known which of these is the x variable and which is the y.)"

    Same. Can't tell. I think it's both.

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    1. Depth is counted in fathoms, not in leagues :P

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    2. I learned this from an SNL sketch with Kelsey Grammer where he is Nemo trying to explain to his crew that 20,000 leagues is distance traveled, not depth, and no one understood what he was talking about.

      I tried to find a link to a clip and I failed.

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    3. Well, there's this, at minute 29, but it's ripped from a VHS tape and they cut part of the very skit I mentioned, trying to skip the ads.

      https://archive.org/details/saturday-night-live-s-19-e-17-kelsey-grammer-dwight-yoakham

      Also, sorry for the lack of consistent tense in my previous post.

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    4. 20,000 leagues straight down would put you in orbit on the other side

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    5. The fact about it being distance rather than depth was mentioned in a clue on tonight's Jeopardy!, oddly enough.

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    6. I definitely remember learning this at least 30 years ago, but the fact never integrated itself into my consciousness. It's essentially "20,000 Leagues _while_ Under the Sea".

      I think possibly I learned it in conjunction with The Charge of the Light Brigade, but somehow the fact internalized incorrectly as "a league is 1,200".

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    7. A league is 3 miles; the circumference of the Earth is around 25,000 miles, a little over 8000 leagues. So the underwater distance traveled is more than two circumnavigations, and though I've read it (long ago), I don't remember all the specifics of where the Nautilus went. A long way, though. I recommend Verne to anyone.

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    8. That's the English league. Jules Verne would have used the French league, equal to 2000 toises, or about 3.9 kilometres. The great circle of the Earth has a circumference of about 10,250 leagues, so 20,000 leagues would be a near-double circumnavigation.

      (As a side note, if the translator had changed the title to "Fifty Thousand Miles Under the Sea" I don't think there would be any confusion.)

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    9. The Norwegian translator changed the title to "A Circumnavigation Under the Sea", potentially for that reason.

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  7. "and (for some reason) the Tower of Babel"

    The Rook in chess is a "tower" in some (most?) languages.

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    1. Yeah, but all the other characters in the game come from the show. Laszlo clarified below.

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    2. Chess come from Persia and, even earlier, from India. The word "chess" is a modification of "shah", the king of Persia.

      Originally, the pieces were:
      - King = shah
      - Queen = vizir/general
      - Bishop = war elephant
      - Knight = horserider (that is, the same)
      - Tower = siege tower
      - Pawn = foot soldier

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    3. I think that "rook" comes from the Persian word for "siege tower".

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    4. War elephant is way cooler than a bishop walking around smacking people with a Bible.

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    5. I learned it as the bishop being a merchant ship - its triangular shape representing a sail, and the reason it moves diagonally being because it's tacking into the wind. Possibly there were multiple regional variations?

      I really like that "checkmate" is derived from "shah mat" - Persian for "The king is dead"

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    6. It's a simple "tower" in german, too. Now I finally know why, a siege tower makes more sense. Though I can understand why no one wanted use the full clunky "Belagerungsturm" when playing the game here.

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    7. @Ross: Thanks, interesting, learned something new again through this blog's comment section. The German word for checkmate, "Schachmatt", appears very close to that Persian origin.

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    8. As I understand it the identities of the pieces have changed over time, largely to appeal to specific historical figures.

      The queen is the most powerful piece because somebody was trying to curry favor with a particular queen, Spanish I think, and that is the version of the game that got popular.

      Likewise my understanding was that the Bishops were originally ships, but somebody wanted to getfavor with the church so he put some Bishops into it

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    9. I don't think of the bishops as walking around physically fighting, any more than the rooks move around. They represent influence across a vaster field of battle. The church can excommunicate people, put pressure on vassals, etc., removing them from the board. That's why they move diagonally vs just smashing into each other head on, like the pawns do.

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  8. The Tower of Babel was a Death Star-like (but stationary) enormous weapon in the anime.

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    1. And its appearance in the show is closely patterned after the Bruegel painting.

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  9. "A game in which you move only one piece per turn is fundamentally different from a game in which [multiple] units can act per turn"

    In multi-move games, the player gets to interact with their own moves. For starters, this makes it easier to set up sequences/combos that feel momentous. Perhaps more importantly though, is that it inherently makes the game more 'heads-down'. That is, you spend more time looking at how your own pieces interact, and less time looking at your opponent's side of the board.

    Additionally, the game state tends to change more between turns: In single-move games each turn feels more like an iteration of a previous turn, rather than a fresh set of problems to solve. Games which have larger changes in game state, feel less solvable as your ability to forecast is weakened - you'll have an idea of what your opponent will do on their turn, but there are too many lines of play to enumerate them all. Thus you rely more on estimates and less on specifics.

    There are multi-move games that still feel pretty iterative though. As a rule of thumb, having more turns (or opportunities to interrupt what the other player is doing) in a game will make it feel more iterative and grindy, having less turns in a game will make it feel more arbitrary and noninteractive.

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    1. (Everyone has their own sweet spot for what sort of game length 'feels right')

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    2. Something along these lines is what I was trying to write, but my lack of expertise with both chess and strategy games was making it difficult.

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    3. When it comes to physically large strategy wargames, like tabletops, I think another difference to chess is that those games have an additional war/battle-feeling to them, whereas chess feels like a pure strategy game.

      Those large strategy wargames, as you probabaly know, have detailed, often hand-painted units, and often some visually appealing map/board. When the game takes place, I would say that in the player’s imagination this conjures up feelings similar to watching a movie where a battle takes place. And when the game is over, one feels somehow that something important has happened today, that history was written at this table. This is something I don’t experience when it comes to chess.

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    4. Tristan is getting at what I'm thinking. When you're moving one piece at a time with deterministic rules, you usually have to calculate the consequences of your actions exactly. If you have lots of units to move at once, you're probably going to need to rely on a gestalt.

      I think about this sometimes in terms of different kinds of roguelikes; although they're almost always about controlling a single character, you have traditional games with relatively big maps like NetHack and Brogue, and an increasing number of micro-roguelikes with a lot of determinism--often these are Broughlikes after Michael Brough (the game of his I play, Cinco Paus, is on a 5x5 board where characters always move one square and a regular melee attack always does 1 damage). In the Broughlikes, you have to plan things move by move, carefully counting squares to see e.g. whether you or the enemy will get the first strike. In a traditional roguelike, you can usually just walk across a room and rely on general estimates of your strength relative to an opponent. It would be maddening to have to make calculations with every step you took as you crossed entire NetHack levels.

      Into The Breach is interesting here; you have three characters to move and attack in complex ways and orders; but the enemies plans are displayed (and deterministic), so you can calculate exactly what to do. The interface is very good about displaying the effects of your moves, so the calculation isn't as onerous as it can be; it's like you have a little puzzle to solve every turn. Also it has RPG elements. I think you'd like it more than chess.

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  10. Chess:

    Bland pieces
    Bland, cramped board
    Symmetrical, invariant set-up

    Yeuch!

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    1. Chess would get about 1s or 0s (bad 2 color graphics, no story, no sidequests, no magic, basic combat) on the gimlet but somehow survived for 100s of years. go figure.

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    2. I think the fact that the GIMLET ranks RPGs and chess isn't an RPG would have a lot to do with that.

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    3. You forgot about character development: pawn promotion.

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    4. We need Chess 2: Revenge of the Queen, with a 4-player mode and support for player mods.

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    6. I don't get the hate on chess a lot of people here seem to have. I'm not a great player (I'd consider myself "middling" in skill) and I prefer more complex and simulationist strategy games, but chess is still a fun game. I occasionally play it with friends amd it's fun to plan out cool moves that push your opponent into a bad situation, or trying to get out of a bad situation yourself.

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    7. I don't hate it. I've consumed quite a lot of chess-related media. It just doesn't tick enough of my boxes to actually play. I could also say all that about about Warhammer.

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    8. 4-player mode actually exists: https://www.chess.com/terms/4-player-chess#what-is-4-player-chess

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    9. I don't dislike chess, but I think it suffers from being around a long time and being relatively simplistic.

      Because of the limited number of possible moves, it lends itself to having only a handful of "best" moves- that top players all know given the hundreds of years the game has been around.

      My sense is that high level chess is mostly selecting the best move from a relatively small menu of optimum choices for the current situation on the board.

      Contrast this with a boardgame like Heroclix, which has much more variety in mechanics and pieces that change what they can do as the game progresses. It's impossible to pre-plan the optimum move for every situation
      These sorts of game feel to me like they encourage mastering how to play the game much more than memorizing pre-existing move combinations like chess.

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    10. My understanding is that the early game (~20 moves) in chess is sufficiently well explored that GMs are in familiar territory, and its after those opening moves have concluded that the meat of the game occurs.

      Heroclix seems like something you largely play by 'feel'. As you imply, its really hard to extrapolate the game tree, instead you need to have a gauge for how difficult it is for the opponent to target certain squares on the map, and how exposed that will leave them.

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    11. Chess: An interesting concept ruined by too many design flaws

      "The components are pretty bad by contemporary standards. The lightweight cardboard box contains hollow plastic pieces and a flimsy cardboard map. The map is a collection of provinces represented by black and white squares. The publisher should have considered adding some color to the board, and maybe even some little drawings of castles, a la Carcassonne. This would have suited the medieval theme very well. Even a couple of lakes would have helped immensely, like the ones on the map in Stratego. A poor map is one of several design flaws that plague this game.

      Chess's rule book is a joke, having been written on the inside of the boxtop. Apparently there are books available that have more detailed rules and advice about how to play, but people shouldn't have to purchase expansions just to play the base game. We already have A Game of Thrones and Mare Nostrum if we want to take that route. The one silver lining is the relatively low cost of the game, which is less than $10 at Walmart. As bang for your buck goes, I would put Chess in the same category as your typical Cheapass Game."

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    12. But spawned thousands of variants - look up "chess variants". (I avoid linking to evade spam filtering.) A chess-RPG hybrid makes sense to me, especially if one has a computer to keep track of state. (That's one of the things that always bugged me about massive strategy games like Warhammer, etc. - as much as I enjoyed them, the bookkeeping was annoying!)

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    13. I don't like chess because it's a perfect information game. Because of this the only reason not to calculate the entire possibility tree is limited to what you can hold in your head. Calculating that tree also is really not fun for me, it's like taking a math test under time pressure. I make impulsive moves and miss possibilities, and thus suck at Chess.

      I much prefer, and am much better at, low-information games. I get to rely on my intuition, and it turns out my intuition is decent. Much better then my patience.

      Randomness is one way to reduce information in a game, but you can see people playing Texas Hold-Em calculating all the odds. So it doesn't eliminate the homework aspect by itself. I like it when the rules are new and complex, so no one knows exactly what to do, but you get hints in how things play out.

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    14. Tristan Gall: completely correct on the opening game.

      Harland: completely wrong about everything, as usual.

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    15. In fairness Harland is absolutely s***posting here. :)

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    16. It's funny, I posted the same satire article on Chess.com and the regulars there also completely missed that it was supposed to be funny. A complete humor bypass, and the other members noted that this wasn't uncommon.

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    17. The print shop guy in my high school was super into D&D and so some nerdy kids would hang out in there and play at lunch. Social networks being what they are, a less nerdy sort ended up being dragged in and started riffing on the game. "I am Zelbar, the Strong! We must cross the Lake of Fire to acquire the Sword of Slaying! Then we can defeat Lord Tyrant and save the Princess!" I dunno, sort of thing. I thought it was pretty funny at the time, but the print shop guy threw him out, said he wasn't allowed back in, ever.

      Some people are serious about their hobbies...

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    18. A board game with roots in Chess and CCGs that I recommend: Summoner Wars

      https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/332800/summoner-wars-second-edition

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    19. My problem with summoner wars was that playing generic units was a liability - just fed your opponent.

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    20. Apparently they've addressed that some in the 2021 Second Edition, as commons have been buffed, but I haven't played it yet.

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  11. Jules Verne was among my first deliberate reading forays as well, and I greatly admire those classics, with 'The Mysterious Island' probably being my favourite.

    The 1800s seldomly get explored in RPGs, let alone other game genres, the Worlds of Ultima series was a prominent example on this blog, and 'Order: 1886' had the looks but was a console exclusive action-game.

    This is hard to get right, and modern interpretations seem to favor more of a steampunk approach, which diverges too much from its origin for me. I think Alan Moore's 'League of Extraordinary Gentlemen' was one of the last recent works which nailed that 1800s vibe.

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    1. Someone needs to play "Renowned Explorers" for a 1800s vibe "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" RPG(-ish? YMMV) game.

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    2. Renowned Explorers is a bit too cartoony to catch the vibe of the era (but still a fun game). Curious Expedition has a vibe that's much closer to late 1800s/early 1900s adventure expeditions.

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    3. I'd argue that the 19th century is actually quite well represented as far as computer games go: The Wild West is a popular setting; any number of strategy/war games dealing with the Napoleonic wars or the American revolution; everything to do with Sherlock Holmes; Dracula.

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    4. It's odd that few RPGs have not done more with the 1800s, there's so much to work with without resorting to steampunk nonsense.
      After the ACW the American west really opened up, sending white settlers into poorly charted, already inhabited lands where those inhabitants had a good chance of having developed cities and long standing cultures. The steam engine made shipping faster and the hot air balloon sent people into the sky for the first time. Diving became a legit form of technology and divers were treated like the astronauts would be during the space race. There was lots of pulp fiction written about divers, sailors, cowboys, explorers, law men, soldiers, archeologists and anthropologists (both fairly new disciplines in the West) and other men of adventure. English colonialism (among the colonial efforts of other nations) had the same potential for adventure as the cowboys, pioneers and prospectors of the american west. Even science fiction started taking off then (Verne, Wells and Doyle being the best known authors) so it's not like period appropriate science and technology couldn't take the place of magic in a high fantasy setting.
      It's possibly that spectre of colonialism that mightake people shy away from the period. Meeting green men on Mars and wiping them out for their treasure seems a little more forgiveable than committing genocide against a real world indigenous population. Maybe that's why games avoid a setting that uses our real world?

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  12. I never would've guessed you spent the last three months playing a SRPG based on Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, but here we are. The show's pretty good (drags in the middle, though) but the game adaptations were all over the place. Glad you enjoyed your time with this one, at least.

    I feel a little bad for Irion that he's just called "Whale." Given how little he's in the show, it's odd they went for him over Grandis's subordinates Hanson and Sanson but I guess someone had to be driving the Gratan.

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    1. Wow, a CRPG based on 'Nadia'? Had no idea. What's next, a video game adaptation of 'Blue Submarine No.6'? ... Oh, wait, in fact there 's even two, I see.

      And it's already triggered >110 comments on different subjects, who would have thought?

      @Mento: Guess that means the Gratan doesn't show up in the game, pity. Though it wouldn't make much sense in an RPG, I assume.

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    2. There's a three-wheeled tank on the hero's side in those screenshots, so I assumed that was the Gratan.

      What's unusual is that I'm pretty sure that's the Red Noah on the hero's side too (the one that looks like an inverted dome with a city on top). The way all these huge vehicles and structures (and Irion, who is also enormous) have been scaled down to match the humans is an odd stylistic choice. I have seen it before though, in cases like the Compati Heroes series (which took Gundam, Kamen Rider, and Ultraman and "equalized" their heights so they could all fight together on even terms).

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  13. The chess-like elements of this game are interesting. When I first saw it I thought it was a SRPG, but it doesn't sound much like one. After reading your thoughts about chess vs. strategy, I'm really hoping you'll have a chance to play Fire Emblem before too long.

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  14. "Fushigi no Umi no Nadia" is an anime that is on my watchlist for a long time, and out of nowhere I see my favorite blog receiving a post related to it. I'm a huge fan of Hideaki Anno's work (specially Neon Genesis Evangelion), and even knowing this game will have nothing to do with him (sadly, the guy don't care much about videogames), I love to see this kind of "licensed games" from a fan perspective.

    I guess it is finally time to watch the show.

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    1. Oh, you definitely should. It's considered to be among the definitive anime classic shows to watch. I too enjoyed it very much, but keep in mind that in regard to NGE it has a very different setting and feel. Well, except for some scenes which some people interpret as a foreshadowing to NGE.

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    2. It's years ago since I watched the show. I liked it then but was sceptical whether I would enjoy it today. Serendipitously, I just stumbled on a fan edit which turns the 16 hours of the original 39 TV episodes into 3 2-hour movies.

      "Nadia The Secret of Blue Water 30th Anniversary Cut Trailer":
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fg4sCxKUx-8

      They made it available as a) an English dub without subtitles, and b) as a Japanese dub with good German subtitles, plus machine-translated English subtitles that are surprisingly not that bad.

      The first hour was pretty nice. Instead of the slow pace of TV anime, it's much closer to a cinematic movie.

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    3. Hi @fireball ! Yeah, Gunbuster is also on another vibe, makes me thing that it was really during Evangelion that he "changed" into the director that is more known today (as even Evangelion has some abrupt changes during the original series).

      It's sad that he couldn't get the rights of those early shows for Khara, so the distribution is more limited both in quality and availability.

      It's also cool that there is so much reference to Nadia in the Rebuilds movies. Even the music "Gods Message" is like a remake of the "Babel No Hikari".

      Yeah, I'm definitely watching it right now!

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    4. Thanks for the suggestion @Bitmap ! I still prefer watching the original show as it was aired (or the most approximate of that). But I love when fans do that kind of edit, remind me of the Berserk one.

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    5. Just wanted to give an update to say that the fan edit linked above is very good. It really comes together as a trilogy of three full movies.

      For people who aren't big fans of anime TV shows with their characteristic anime-isms, but do like some anime movies (like those of Studio Ghibli), and are interested in a pretty tall tale which combines Jules Verne with the Atlantis mythos, I'd recommend it.

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  15. This game has some strong similarities with Hudson Soft's Castle Quest (Not Castlequest, an unrelated action game) for Famicom and Game Boy. Both are chesslike games with different units, a battle system, and spells.

    The differences are significant enough that it clearly is not simply an anime license grafted on to an existing game, but it is interesting.

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  16. Amusingly, I first heard of "Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water" a couple of days ago, in the context of it being possibly plagiarized by the Disney film "Atlantis: The Lost Empire".

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    1. Disney are just straight up thieves. How many people think that Snow White and the Seven Dwarves are a Disney property instead of public domain characters who are hundreds of years old?

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    2. 'Snow White' the character is public domain. Disney's depiction of Snow White is owned by Disney. Same for Rapunzel, Belle, Aladdin, and Cinderella. As far as I am aware, most people know these are not originally Disney tales.

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    3. Disney's a bit like Shakespeare: None of their stories are original, but when they take up a story, their version becomes definitive.

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    4. Eh, not in every case. I think very few people will primarily think of the Disney cartoon when they hear the names Tarzan and Robin Hood, for instance.

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    5. For Tarzan, maybe.
      For Robin Hood? I think there's quite a demographic for whom the best/most faithful Robin Hood is actually a fox!

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    6. Personally as someone that grew up after Disney's Tarzan came out, even never having watched it that's the primary thing I think of when I hear the name. As for Robin Hood, outside of furries that one didn't make much of an wider impact.

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    7. Bambi, fwiw, was not in the public domain in the US until this year, despite Disney, of all people, trying to have its copyright invalidated on a technicality in the 90s.

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    8. Well I, for one, am glad someone has showed up in the thread to defend the interests of a billion dollar corporation! You tell that little guy to back off! That's Disney property, mister!

      You realize we can't have works age and fall into the public domain any more because it would mean that Disney would lose the rights to Mickey Mouse? They're thieves! They're thieves! They're filthy little thieves!

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    9. @Harland: I agree with you on this one (invalidating what I posted a few minutes ago). It ought to be a crime to have a 900 year copyright on anything.

      @Tristan: Disney has enough money to sue anyone for using those characters whether they're Disney depictions of the characters or not, and they'll eventually win every time. Imagine Scrooge McDuck swimming in his pool of money and gold but with an image of Walt's face over his. That's Disney in a nutshell, only a lot more evil.

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    10. Not to mention their "vault", where they seal away movies for children that won't be available for sale again for another 20 years. Then they open the vault to record profits for those who can afford their ridiculously inflated prices. They exploit children and poor families. F*** Disney.

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    11. The "Disney Vault" was the practice of doing a print run of a given movie on home media once every ten years, not twenty. This was an update of their older practice of rereleasing a movie in theaters every ten years, which most companies didn't do at all - one reason movies used to get remade a lot more than they do today (the Charleton Heston version of Ben Hur was the fourth film adapted from the book, for example) was that movies would generally go through their theatrical run and simply be gone. The Vault became extinct when Disney+ launched with the entire Disney library (sans Song Of The South), and was greatly waning for a long time before that.

      There's also no cases of Disney trying to take total ownership of pre-existing characters, only the versions they produced. There's entire studios that exist only to produce cheap adaptations of classic fairy tales with the intention of sitting next to the Disney version in stores (or in cheaper stores that aren't selling the Disney film) and get bought by mistake. They just can't use the Disney designs. Several of the more modern source books have sequels (many written after the films) by the original authors that were never adapted.

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    12. While Disney has by no means become any less evil, they've backed off a bit on perpetual copyrights, because at some point in the last 20 years (possibly this is related to the Bambi thing) they realized that they could protect their IPs just as well using trademark law - they stand to lose very little from what falls out of copyright but isn't protected in other ways compared to their ability to scoop up every single other piece of IP they don't already own from the 20th century.

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    13. Disney is clearly not filthy little thieves.

      They're filthy HUGE thieves.

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    15. Besides everyone knows the definitive version of Robin Hood is the one Mel Brooks did where the men, men in tights, wander around the forest looking for fights.
      Ironically, that Robin Hood is also on Disney+ after Disney bought Fox.

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    16. I can only assume you mean... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/When_Things_Were_Rotten :-P

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  17. One of the things I find really interesting about strategy games is the broad variety in how turns are taken and the extent to which permadeath is a factor. All the rule combinations each result in games with very different feels from each other. Permadeath can be hard to stomach in games that are meant to be played long-term like an RPG, so I think a lot of players tend to save scum such games.

    Moving one piece at a time, ANY piece of your choice in the way this game handles it is pretty uncommon...often it's based on character speed.

    Dungeons & Dragons: every character acts on their initiative, and death is permanent. When all units have acted, a new round starts with the same turn order. Haste spells and intentional delays might change this. Depending on the edition, spell effects may fire at various times within the turn, and duration is important. Obviously the vibe and strategizing is up to the group, but in video games like the Gold Box ones you tend to want to be cautious.

    Fire Emblem (NES up to present day): each side of the battle gets to moves all their units at once on their turn, and all actions and spells take place immediately. While character leveling is long-term and important, death is permanent. This leads to ganging up behavior to destroy specific units, and makes you very cautious in your formations and advancement.

    Famicom Wars, later Advance Wars (NES to present day): each side of the battle gets to move all their units at once, actions take place immediately, and unit loss is permanent, but new units can be built and purchased. Not an RPG; plays like a turn-based Age of Empires or Command and Conquer. Lots of emphasis on sacrificing certain units to whittle down the enemy and distract from other gambits.

    Shining Force (Sega Genesis): units act according to their speed, which means play passes between the player and enemy regularly. When all units have acted, turn order begins again from the beginning so everyone gets to act every "round." All actions take place immediately. The player character can cast an escape spell and pay to resurrect dead party members, then replay the same battle with the enemy units refreshed. This leads to grinding the same map for levels and a generally laid-back experience.

    Final Fantasy Tactics (PS1 and GBA): units act according to a turn order list. A unit's position in this list can change depending on their speed; if they are hasted or buffed, they can get many turns before any given enemy is able to act once. Conversely they can also be slowed or stopped. Many spells and abilities take a certain amount of time before they fire. Manipulating turn order to squeeze out a unit's turn or action taking place at the right moment is a fundamental goal of the game. Death is permanent but easy to avoid, with many ways to revive dead units before a countdown to permadeath.

    Disgaea (PS2 to present day): each side of the battle gets to move all their units at once, actions take place immediately, and death is only for the duration of the current map (units can be revived between battles). The games are very loosey-goosey with character development and stats, leading to battles that are generally a total blowout for one side or the other. Strategy is not usually as important as raw numbers.

    At various times and periods in my life I've had a better time with each type of game for its own reasons. Generally I prefer making strategic decisions in the moment just for the current unit, rather than having to come up with a broad strategy for all of my controllable units at once.

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    1. Great comparison, Sporky. Regarding your last point, I agree that having to come up for all actions of all party members / army units at once can lead to analysis paralysis.

      Also, the resulting tactics can be quite "unnatural"; it becomes very important to leave all units at a good place at the end of the turn, because a unit that is left one step away from cover will be attacked by all the enemy units at once, at their leisure. In games with turn order / initiative order, it will only be one or some of the enemy units, not all.

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    2. One other game worth examining is Valkyrie Chronicles. Each side uses all of its moves before passing the turn, but the number of moves is capped per side. You can utilize more than one move on a unit, but subsequent moves give you less traversal range to represent fatigue, but your ability to attack is unimpeded (it's a WWII-esque game so most units have a firearm). So you can have segments where you decide to move your force forward a la Fire Emblem and segments where you're just going to power rush with one or two key units like Nadia.

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  18. Very interesting how transparently the battle interface on this one is taken from the NES RPG Destiny of an Emperor from a couple of years prior. They're very different games otherwise, but the battle screen can't be from anything else.

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  19. So is this the addicts first tactics-rpg?
    Glad you liked it and hoping you try some more in the years to come.

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    1. Many of the early D&D-based games are tactical RPGs. https://crpgaddict.blogspot.com/2011/05/game-57-pool-of-radiance-1988.html

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    2. Pia is referring to TRPGs/SRPGs, not generally RPGs that have tactical combat.

      See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tactical_role-playing_game

      E.g. "A distinct difference between tactical RPGs and traditional RPGs is the lack of exploration"

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    3. I disagree with that distinction. The concept of "exploration" is vague and going to be up to the individual; for example, in Shining Force you get to walk around towns, but outside of that it doesn't have the traditional exploration of a Dragon Quest-style RPG. In Final Fantasy Tactics, you "explore" points on a map and visit menu-based pubs and shops in each town, but it's not down to the level of taking step by step through a location. But there are moments of non-combat downtime to wander the world map. What counts and what doesn't?

      Your wikipedia link even mentions the Gold Box games. Any game whose primary combat system is comprised of what's commonly considered tactical/strategic combat, i.e. chesslike unit movement and targeting combined with character leveling, generally meets the standards of being a "tactics RPG."

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    4. The Wikipedia article mentions the Gold Box games under the heading "Full-fledged CRPGs", right? So Pia's mention of "the addict's first tactics-rpg" probably didn't refer to games like Gold Box games, but to games which are clear examples of the subgenre TRPG/SRPG.

      Of course you can disagree with the distinction between RPGs and the subgenre TRPG/SRPG. (Because the borders between the two concepts are fuzzy and subjective? That seems normal to me. Like there is no universally agreed-upon border line between the colors red and purple.) But I find it a useful distinction, and since Fushigi no Umi no Nadia is arranged in 50 scenarios without exploration, it's a very clear case to me.

      In any case, to answer the question, the Addict played some western strategy RPGs like Twilight: 2000 and Lords of Chaos, but I'm not aware that he played Japanese TRPGs/SRPGs like Fire Emblem yet.

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    5. @Sporky You're free to make your own definitions but the SRPG/TRGP subgebre is well defined since many years (late 90s I guess) and used in name since then by many people.

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    6. @fireball Then what separates Shining Force from Pool of Radiance? In both games you get to walk around towns manually, talking to people, shopping, finding story scenes, poking into corners and finding hidden chests.

      Wikipedia lists Shining Force as a tactical RPG: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shining_Force

      Wikipedia also lists Pool of Radiance as a tactical RPG, in the sidebar under genre: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pool_of_Radiance

      If this is an incorrect designation, someone ought to edit its page to remove that.

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    7. I'd suggest to talk about the genre of Shining Force if and when Chet posts about that game. Maybe it's like a color where some people say "it's red" and others say "it's purple". It depends on the game's emphasis. But there's no point to prolong this thread with "and what about this game/color, isn't it close to that other game/color?". I think there's no reasonable doubt that this Nadia game belongs to the exploration-less subgenre.

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    9. I think what the author of that wiki article was trying to say is that POR is a mix of a regular RPG and a TRPG. Very likely because of the combat, but it also has aspects that you often won't find in a TRPG. Well, I think it's a bit inconsequential but I can live with that.

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    10. Actually it's funny that Shining Force is one of the few common answers to the questions asked on various forums of whether there are strategy tactical rpgs with exploration.

      https://www.reddit.com/r/JRPG/comments/qw3nrg/are_there_any_strategytactical_jrpg_games_that/

      It is actually pretty rare - 99% of S/TRPGs tend to just move from one map to another with story in the middle. Even in that thread, Shining Force is pretty much the only one with overworld movement.

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    11. Also, during most of Shining Force you don't have a choice about where to go: you'll get maps with only two points of interest, i.e. the place you came from and the place you need to go; and all battles are fought in fixed order and fixed places.

      If you think about it, that really isn't exploration.

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    12. Thanks for the anwers. As I love tactics-rpgs on console I still like to think this is one. After reading the coments I realize that its not as easy to separate one from the other as I always thougt... still hope Chet give some more tactics game a chance on this blog becouse I like different opinions (and one day I will try pool)

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    13. I'd like to point out that the creator of Shining Force specifically said that he doesn't consider an SRPG/TRPG. He wanted to make a JRPG with more interesting combat.

      here's one interview that covers this:
      https://shmuplations.com/shiningforce/

      "Turning to Shining Force, how did the project get started?

      Takahashi: Well, first of all, people are always comparing Shining Force to strategy games, but that didn’t have much to do with it at all.
      —Oh, seriously?

      Takahashi: I mean, they informed our work, but I already had the rough idea for a game like Shining Force just three months after joining Enix, now that I think of it.

      During that time, Enix told us to create a strategy game for the home console, something brainy where you’d need to use your head. As research, I tried playing a famous PC strategy game, but it wasn’t happening for me. This doesn’t fit me at all, I thought.

      Your impatience rearing its head again? (laughs)

      Takahashi: …yes. (laughs) That wasn’t the kind of game I wanted to make. I was attracted to the idea of a game where you used your head more, but that was it. I wanted to do something more like Dragon Quest, a dramatic tale full of tears and romance, with a rich world and setting."


      As a result, I don't think its crazy to see it as sort of halfway between a full SRPG and a more standard JRPG.

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    14. Consider the principle of "death of the author"; just because he didn't intend it as a TRPG doesn't mean that it isn't one.

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    15. "Consider the principle of "death of the author"; just because he didn't intend it as a TRPG doesn't mean that it isn't one."


      This is what I actually said?
      "As a result, I don't think its crazy to see it as sort of halfway between a full SRPG and a more standard JRPG."

      Starting with different influences and design goals, he ended up creating a game that tends to marry TRPG and JRPG elements. I'm thinking less about his intent and more about the underlying design and what went into it.

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  20. I loved the TV show when I watched it as a child. Back then, there was not much stuff somewhere between steampunk and dieselpunk around in german media.

    Based on that I agree with your feeling that the IP was tacked onto the game for marketing reasons.

    Also, to spout trivia: The series' creator Hideaki Anno made the famed Neon genesis Evangelion later, based on the depression he caught making Nadia.

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    1. More trivia: the TV show is based on a concept/outline by Hayao Miyazaki, of Studio Ghibli fame. He created this outline for a show in the 70s, and the rights holders and Studio Gainax picked it up in the 80s.

      It does have similarities with his other works, but I'd say that the tone and the characters are different.

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    2. Evangelion is one of the few anime I've been able to enjoy.

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    3. >Based on that I agree with your feeling that the IP was tacked onto the game for marketing reasons.

      Oh, definitely. This was incredibly common in the day, a good example being Irem's Spartan X, which was originally based on Bruce Lee's Game of Death, but prior to the release they nabbed the license to the hot new Jackie Chan movie Wheels on Meals (Spartan X in Japan) and retooled the game into one based on that license... simply by renaming the characters. Then they ditched the license for the western release and retooled it into a generic kung fu game... simply by just changing the title screen to read "Kung Fu Master".

      The opposite happened with Sega's Ashura, which got renamed Secret Command in Europe, but "Rambo" in America, tacking on the Rambo license by simply making a new title screen. Adding, removing or changing a license could be done in less than an hour by just making minimal changes.

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    4. That's an unexpected benefit of less realistic graphics!

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  21. What a nice post coming from left field! I expected the next post to be about Dungeon Master II and thought that we're currently really being spoiled with interesting games and posts. Hoping for you that the rest of 1993 will still contain enough good games.

    If anyone is interested in a chess alternative, I'd like to recommend the board game Hive, an abstract game for 2 players. It's short (about 10-15 minutes). It needs only 10 seconds set-up time and requires little space. (I recommend the version "Hive Pocket", which is plenty big enough and already contains two expansions.) It's not frustrating like chess because both players retain a chance of winning until the end. It's elegant and deep and it generates surprisingly varied situations.

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  23. Hah. I have the whole Nadia series sitting on my computer, as I collect old anime shows. What a strange confluence of my hobbies, old computer games and obscure Japanese animation.

    I have actually played this game once or twice, but never went far in it. There are actually some unique Japanese NES RPGs of this era worth your time. It would be a shame if you missed Lagrange Point, Final Fantasy III, Dragon Quest III, and especially Chaos World, with its multiple character classes, night and day cycle, and wholly unique battle system.

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  24. Chess is for people who are patient, procedural and have a very good memory for classical plays. So now we know you don´t have such a great patience, procedural nature or memory :)

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  25. I agree with the posts about Archon being an interesting predecessor of this type of game.

    As for dice in chess, there's an interesting variant called "Chaturaji", a four-handed Indian dice chess from the 11th century. I think there were others too; my memory of the details is fading but there might be at least one described in the book of games from 1283 commissioned (or written) by king Alfonso X of Castile.

    All this is nothing to do with CRPGs of course, but your side point about chess set me off thinking about a subject that's fascinated me for a long time.

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  26. I have a feeling that if you ever start playing games from the Japanese Tactical RPG tradition, especially Fire Emblem.
    Every stage in Fire Emblem (at least before the 3DS games) feels like a massive puzzle that can take anywhere from fifteen minutes to an hour, there are choices with lasting consequences (who do you level up at all? Who do you give rare, one-time use items to? In later games in the series, which characters do you spend your rare class promotion items on? Who do you have build relationships to boost their stats?)... and it has permadeath that feels very meaningful. You can go back to a previous save, but you can only save between stages... so you may have to choose between permanently losing a unit, and losing an hour of progress and hoping it doesn't happen again. And there's only so many enemies, so there's effectively a finite amount of EXP you can gain, so you have to be very mindful of who gets it.

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  27. I meant to mention this earlier, but if the time should come to pass where you need a fan translation again, it might be a good idea to ask for assistance on Patreon or at the end of an entry. A pretty significant number of such translations, particularly older ones, have... issues.

    In this case, it isn't that important since the text in this game wasn't all that plentiful or signficant, but having you sit through some of the problems that can crop up - gratuitous swearing/shoehorned pop-culture references/early-00s edgy internet humor injected by the translator, excessive literalism, word salad because the translators didn't know Japanese as well as they thought they did - isn't something anybody really wants.

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    1. I've mentioned this before, but when the Addict inevitably rolls Final Fantasy II, I really hope he uses the Chaos Rush translation and not the old Neo Demiforce job that translated "Poison" as "Aero".

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    2. The random mistranslations like that are annoying, but the biggest issue with that translation is that it translates both "armor" and "curiass" as the same armor icon, which would be pretty game breaking even if this DIDN'T result in multiple different items sharing the same name, especially if you're unfamiliar with the game and don't even know it's supposed to have both armor and curiasses in it.

      I'm not very familiar with the newer translation, but I assume it handles these item categories properly.

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    3. ...how did I manage to spell "cuirass" wrong TWICE in the same comment?

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    4. My intent wasn't to get into the weeds with any specific examples, only as a caution that fan translations are spotty in quality, and it might well be a good idea to outsource the work of filtering them to the audience.

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  28. This looks like Shining Force, even the font is almost similar...

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