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Which game should I start with?

Poll ended at Tue Jul 31, 2018 7:19 pm

Emerald Dragon
Kaze no Densetsu Xanadu
Monster Maker: Yami no Ryukishi
Sol Bianca
Momotaro Densetsu Turbo
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Total votes : 8
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Re: The Great PC Engine RPG Excursion of 2018

by pierrot Wed Nov 14, 2018 9:38 pm

Captain's Log

Day 14, Game 3 - Emerald Dragon

I was on a bit of a hiatus, but did not forget about Emerald Dragon. I finished it up over the course of two binge sessions on Monday night, and Tuesday night. My clear time was right around 25 hours. Unfortunately, the combat in EmeDora had already done the game in. I was pretty bored with it before coming back to the game, and was just increasingly annoyed on top of that, as I approached the end of the game. The AI is just terrible, and seems to get worse later in the game. Tamulin, in particular, just wastes tons action points most of the time, by wiggling back and forth, and takes really inefficient actions during her turns. The manual says to basically trust in your allies, and let them do their thing, but at no point did I actually want to do that, because they are so stupid, and so untrustworthy. Issuing orders on what to attack costs Atlucian two action points per order, though, so it's not even worth trying to control anyone other than him. Sometimes the game just decides to kill characters, with little recourse, though, so--. It still really irks me that Saoshyant, even after unlocking his bow's full potential, is still one action point away from being able to fire three shots per turn. One would have to use the sole instance in the game of an item that increases a character's action points (by +1), and even if one used it on him, once he gets his final weapon at the end of the game, he'd still only be able to fire off one round per turn, so it would really be a waste to do. The balance in the combat is just screwy. It's also weird to me that I was able to get to level 129, but at no point does the game allow the player to actually feel strong. It's not that the game is difficult at all--it's actually extremely easy--it's just that it's a chore. If I had a nickle for every time I reflexively groaned at the enemies in a battle, because I knew it was just going to take a needlessly long time to finish (and running mostly may as well not even be an option), I might have enough to buy Hyper Duel.

So, the combat is basically a waste of time. The other issue I ended up having was that the ending kind of soured the overall story for me, but it wasn't all just the ending's fault. Before the final chapter, I had kind of forgotten that I had at one point cared about certain details in the story, which the animation leading into the last chapter rekindled a little bit, but ultimately it all just felt a little trivial, and like even the writers were searching for a way to redeem it, in the end.
The thing that really gets me is how they really casually leave all the Holse people to die, and Atlucian is just like, 'Better them than us, Tamulin. Who cares if they're your people. You're human now. We gotta live, for reasons!' Most unsettling was how it seemed to grasp at a bunch of different narrative hooks in the finale, and ended up with, 'The power of youthful energy!' 'Follow your hearts, kiddos. Even if your heart is wrong.'

All right, with those two things settled, everything else about the game was pretty good. It's a pretty snappy game, even though it's bogged down by useless combat, and there's a pretty good volume of content. There's actually a few sidequests, even, which I didn't know about until looking at a guide (to find out how much of the game I had left after getting into the final chapter). The only problem with the side quests is that there's basically no way one would know how to start them without a guide, mainly because they have extremely finite windows of time where they can be done, and triggering them involves going to places completely removed from the main story progression. There are three in total, and I did two of them, which were both really a waste of time, since one of them gave me Halsam's best weapon, which was also in a treasure room (with the rest of the best equipment in the game) before the final dungeon, and the other has essentially no reward, and a really dumb side-story to go along with it. The first of the three side quests, which I missed, has a pretty decent reward, and I would have liked to go through the scenario for it, because it might have been worthwhile, but alas.

The presentation is pretty top notch, as I've mentioned. That never really changes, and may actually be a little misleading in the beginning. It's unfortunate that the rest of the game doesn't maintain that quality, but if the combat were actually fun, and/or interesting, my overall impressions of the game would have rocketed upwards. As it is, I'd give it a B-. It almost approaches that "flawed masterpiece" area, but the story ends up a little too careless, and banal, to really even suggest that, either. I would probably recommend this to Tales fans, though, since it feels a little like a Tales prototype (all that animu).

So I was debating a little bit on whether to go with Momotaro Densetsu, or Monster Maker next. I think I may have settled on Momotaro, but I'm actually thinking of diverting course again, briefly, to replay Chrono Cross, for TR.
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