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Re: Together Retro April 2021 - Little Big Adventure

by SpaceBooger Fri Apr 23, 2021 6:37 am

Dragon Warrior - Done!
I entered Dracolord's castle at level 19. Wandered around and by the time I got to him I was level 21 and low on MP. I of course did not succeed in taking him down. I went back armed with 6 herbs and a couple of torches to save my MP. The second time I used Lora's Love and noticed I only needed 200ish XP to get to 23 just as I came to Dracolord's throne room, so I took down two more monsters. At level 23 I was able to take down Dracolord and beat the game.

I think the thing I liked the most about Dragon Warrior was the lack of bosses. I know there were key monsters to beat at certain times, but they were not overpowered larger-than-life creatures like in modern RPGs. These so-called bosses were just really powerful enemies just like the ones you would fight everywhere else. For some reason, it felt different... more natural. Instead of grinding to beat a boss, rinse, repeat grinding just to survive felt more like one epic quest instead of a bunch of connected smaller stories, or chapters.

I then started to play a little bit of DW2, and already I can tell that it is a different game.

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Re: Together Retro April 2021 - Little Big Adventure

by Nemoide Sun Apr 25, 2021 9:42 pm

I wasn't expecting to but I just beat Cave Noire this evening! It turns out the game has a "casual" ending if you clear level 6 for each quest; I assume there's a "hardcore" ending if you clear all the quests at level 10.

I have to say, this game is pretty excellent! It really plays to the Game Boy's strengths by being something that can be played in short bursts. The quests definitely become tricky as you progress, sometimes the procedural generation puts you in extremely unfair situations (ie, a very strong monster in a room with a narrow path that you MUST go through to progress) but it usually feels doable. Since each quest isn't going to take a huge amount of your time and its not like the gameplay ever changes, dying doesn't feel too frustrating. While it's a little annoying to get all the items you need to collect and die before finding an exit, replaying the quest doesn't feel like a punishment.

I'm definitely going to keep playing, though I'm not sure if I'll stick with it to absolute completion.
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Re: Together Retro April 2021 - Little Big Adventure

by MegaJ Mon Apr 26, 2021 1:30 am

Yeah, I definitely enjoyed how open the first Dragon Quest feels. The fact that you're making all the decisions of what to do and where to go next helps a lot, and I enjoyed how there were little kind of riddles and hints from the townspeople about stuff all across the world, which you're given enough information about to solve, but you're not hand-held, so finding the solution halfway across the world feels really satisfying and ties the whole world together nicely as one big puzzle.

The further adventures of Jay and all that bunch in The Final Fantasy Legend!

Using the Airseed and the whirlpool we travelled to the underwater part of the ocean world. Immediately, there was a town! Just a regular town. Completely underwater. The amount to which this game nonchalantly embraces the massive ridiculousness of its world is really charming. We travelled down into the caves of an underwater castle and solved a really nifty simple puzzle- the kind that's not too difficult, but still makes you feel smart when you put the pieces together- we've been told that the dragon in the undersea castle has one of the four magic spheres we need to continue unlocking each section of the tower and continue our quest, and there are three rooms full of sphere-looking things! But if we check out just any of them, we get attacked by an Atom Crab. That's a cool name. But there's a cool pattern to how they're laid out in these three rooms which gives us the hint.
Once we find the real sphere, the dragon attacks! Boss time!

Wait... this isn't the sphere we're looking for! It's a 'Blue Orb'.
Back on the surface of the ocean, we visit the wise old hermit's hut again, and he gives us a riddle and asks us to bring us something that's worth a list of shop items he tells us that's easy enough to figure out, and we bring him the item, and he rewards us with the Red Orb. Combining the red and blue orbs gives us the sphere!

Onwards up the tower.
We're a lot tougher now, but the newly unlocked floors of the tower are always rough. It's also big, with a lot of different directions to check out, so it's tough to make it through. Bumping into some Medusa enemies got Jimi and Ozzy stoned (...) which unfortunately is one of the status effects which doesn't heal after battle, so it's down to me and Enya to drag our statue friends the rest of the way. Too bad I got killed.
Now it's tense, but- right away, we find... a hospital?! Just... a straight up random hospital ward through this random room of the tower, complete with beds, patients and staff. ...Sure, I'll take it! This is where literally the only 'House of Life' revival person has appeared outside of a town so far. That's some incredible luck! I get revived and we rest up, but we need to buy some Needles to de-stone our buddies, which aren't here.

We make it up to the next world attached to the tower- a sky world!
In town, we discover that the best way to get close to the holder of the next sphere (a big tiger guy) is to join his guards.
We visit the Pub, where a bunch of his guards are drinking and immediately get attacked by one! He turns out to be a big Mosquito man.
We kill him and eat him in front of his fellow guards. (Well, Ozzy does, turning into an Imp in the process)
They're impressed by how badass we are and invite us to join the guard.
We meet the big tiger man in his flying castle- he tells us to hunt down and capture the two daughters of the resistance leader.- apparently only the two together will reveal the sphere. We take one of his airships and find the hidden resistance town in the clouds- it's packed with expensive but awesome items!
Eventually we find one of the sisters in an... igloo? in a forest. But the other guards got to her first and surrounded her! Me and my party share, like, two lines of dialogue which is all that's needed for us to decide to switch allegiances and rescue her! She tells us that her sister's already been captured. Back to the flying castle!
There, we try and rescue her, to find that she'd also switched sides and was working for tiger-man all along, and told him where her sister was in exchange for power! No! He throws us in a jail.
We literally just bend the bars open to escape. We're ripped. A talking sword inside a nearby jail cell asks to join us and we get it as an item. Sure. Why not at this point.
We grab another airship and race back to that weird igloo thing.
Tiger-guy has the sphere!
He attacks us and it's boss time! He tries to use the sphere on us as an attack in battle, but it doesn't do anything. Weird. We're armed to the teeth with actual bazookas and lightsabers now, so we take him down pretty easy.
As a last-ditch attack, he attacks the good sister- but the bad sister jumps in front of her and takes the attack! It turns out she was a double-agent all along, and gave the tiger dude a fake sphere! Dying by her sister's side, a single tear is shed- which turns into the true sphere.
It's... it's ok if we just take this, right? Kinda need it for our big adventure.

The area where this boss battle and scene took place looked... really weird. Everything worked fine, but I'm genuinely unsure if this is the game glitching or not, the tiles just look really odd. Unless this is supposed to be the destroyed remains of that igloo building? I dunno-

On the Digivice gameplay side, we beat up Machinedramon and are closing in on the final boss, just... so many steps. It wouldn't be a big deal (I'd actually enjoy the exercise) except because of getting injured and kicked back 500 steps/unable to register any more until you treat your Digimon's wounds (ah- that's the gameplay reason for it...) carrying it around with you through the day without actively participating in the random battles ends up making you LOSE more progress than you gain, usually. Blagh. I guess Patamon and the gang can sleep and chill out at home until I decide to make active progress.
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Re: Together Retro April 2021 - Little Big Adventure

by MrPopo Mon Apr 26, 2021 1:15 pm

Those tiles are a test pattern; you can see they have the four supported "colors" on the Game Boy. I can't remember if this is a known issue with the game or not; it's been a while since I played it.
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Re: Together Retro April 2021 - Little Big Adventure

by marurun Mon Apr 26, 2021 1:57 pm

Great write-up, MegaJ! Enjoying it!

I'm still plugging away at Dragon Warrior III. I'm a bit ahead of my write-ups in the RPG sub-forum, but it's still going to be tight going to finish the game by the end of the month. I might JUST run over. But I've played enough to share some thoughts.

The point of this is to talk about big adventures on little handhelds, and DQ3 is definitely a big adventure. And it's a very odd one at that. Being on the GameBoy Color it does sacrifice some content from the NES. I'd argue the US NES localization actually did a better job with some of the names and text, but not all of it. Your PCs are all limited to 4-character names in all caps, for example, and item names have been dramatically condensed. DQ3 has some good textual content, but everything has been carefully compressed to better fit the small screen. In fact, the same could be said of the graphics. Everything, even map layouts, has been redesigned just a little to make things feel a tad less cramped than one would expect. Further, the GB Color port incorporates a lot of extra content from the SNES version. So the GB Color Dragon Quest III is actually an odd hybrid. The world tiles and character sprites lack some of the detail of their NES and SNES brethren, but the enemies have been dolled up with the extra animation frames of the SNES version. This is a very impressive game in that it incorporates some more modern RPG features, among them the ability to save a temporary save in the field, and combines them with what looks decidedly like a simpler RPG. Even though the GB Color DQ3 has more colors in play, the sprites and tiles look less detailed, and not just because they are on a smaller screen. I can't help but wonder if they're actually smaller by pixel count as well.

This version of Dragon Warrior 3 is truly a hybrid creation, with some of the features and trappings of 16-bit and even further-looking generations bolted on top of what is solidly an 8-bit RPG. It is a fascinating project and rather unique.
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Re: Together Retro April 2021 - Little Big Adventure

by alienjesus Fri Apr 30, 2021 11:20 am

Loving all the updates guys!

I never got around to starting another game for the month in the end, but after beating 5 of them already I don't feel too guilty about it.

Any of you who are still going, I'd love to see your updates continue on past the end of the month until you finish your quest!

I hope you've all had a fun time with my Little Big theme, and that'll you'll all join me in some Swordplay with Ack's May Together Retro starting tomorrow!
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Re: Together Retro April 2021 - Little Big Adventure

by MegaJ Thu May 13, 2021 2:39 am

Hoooo, boy. This took a lot of doing.

I wanted to finish this during the month, but I didn't feel well (nothing serious at all, just a cold) and it made me feel pretty wiped out unexpectedly for like a week.

Then I got back to the game! And... It was glitching out on me like crazy. Like, the game was playing, but it was loading fully blank graphics occasionally whenever I changed screens, including opening menus.
I figured this must be some ROM shenanigans, considering that I'm playing the English Final Fantasy Legend patched onto a physical copy of the original Japanese version of the game, Makai Toushi Sa·Ga. I tried a bunch of stuff and even updated my Retron5 I'm playing it on, but nothing worked.

But I played a little further anyway, and... it just fixed itself. Honestly, it's just kind of a janky game like that, so I wouldn't be surprised if that was just a a standard glitch. It's a really impressive game for an early original Game Boy RPG, but it is very, very much an early Game Boy RPG and it feels it. They crammed a lot in there, so it's not always the smoothest ride.

So anyway! In the game- I climbed more of the tower and reached the final of the four connected worlds- a post-apocalyptic sci-fi world!

I'm warned by a fancy top-hat man before I enter that the giant bird (and fourth of the major bosses) Su-Zaku is invincible, and just to run when you find it. Ulp.
Su-Zaku is a giant bird monster who's destroyed this entire world, and he takes the place of any random battles on the overworld, and can take down a party member in just a hit or two if you're unlucky!
We're forced down into the destroyed underground subway system to avoid being attacked. Here, we rescue a young woman from a bunch of monsters. We make it through to the other side, and find a town. We go into the local pub and are about to get into another fight (that seems to happen a lot in this game) with a local Mad Max style biker gang, when the woman we rescued steps in and tells them to stop- it turns out she's the biker boss's sister, and they're a group of survivors trying to stop Su-Zaku.
He tells us that Su-Zaku's invincibility is because of a forcefield, and that a special machine could deactivate it. We need to travel around this world and hunt down a board, a ROM, and some plutonium to build it. We borrow the dude's hoverbike (which lets us travel faster and have less random encounters with Su-Zaku) and find the ROM in an abandoned hidden town we find through directions we find in an old library. The board is in a far-off settlement filled with lizard people, who just hand it to us for free.
Finally, for the plutonium, my party and the biker gang plan an attack on an enemy-filled power plant. We do some sick jumps in our bikes to get there.

The power plant isn't too bad, and we make it to the top, but there's some electric fences in the way to the final room- our biker gang leader buddy just... charges at it and tears through it all, sacrificing himself so we can continue. He gives us his headband as he dies, telling us to look after his sister. It's the best headgear in the game so far and gives me a great defence boost.
Inside the room, it's filled radioactive poison stuff we have to wade through, but the plutonium's there! When we take it, we're attacked by a sentry robot boss! It's... a cameo appearance of Death Machine/Warmech- the hidden superboss from the original Final Fantasy! It's just called 'Machine' here. It's... actually not that tough. Still cool though! One of the only direct Final Fantasy references in the game (since it's not actually a Final Fantasy game originally)

Now that we've created the forcefield-destroying machine, Erase99, we return to find that Su-Zaku has destroyed the bikers' home town and captured our buddy's sister! Dead bikers everywhere, nooo! One is just alive enough to tell us that she was taken to a skyscraper! Random battles are back to normal on the overworld now, as that big bird has chickened out and run off now that we can damage it.

The skyscraper was a massive pain- the whole dungeon was like a joke on the player- lots of big, empty decoy rooms, tons of fake doors and staircases to check to find the real ones to progress, a bunch of hidden pathways to feel your way around, and a big room full of spikes. It reminded me of Silph Co. from Pokemon R/B/Y (interestingly, this game was cited as one of the inspirations for Pokemon too) Then there was a whole second portion of the dungeon on a subway train, complete with enemies disguised as NPCs. We were pretty much tapped out by the end, low on weapon and healing uses, it was rough. The limited-use nature of weapons and spells was starting to hurt in such a long, unforgiving dungeon. But we got there in the end!
We confronted Su-Zaku, who has the biker's sister, and activated Erase99, and used all of our strongest weapons I had just about kept in reserve, and he went down like a chump. Took like two turns, pretty satisfying, after all that trouble he'd given us. Ozzy also got to eat him, and transformed into a Sphinx. The Sphinx is AMAZING, and could possibly be the best monster transformation in the game- excellent stats which are finally a match for the other party members, a selection of both physical and magic attacks, a riddle move which causes confusion over the entire enemy's side, and most importantly of all, an inbuilt, restorable at an inn Cure move! I think I might keep this as Ozzy's final form- I doubt risking another transformation would be worth it now that he's suddenly a really excellent party member.
We rescue the lady and she buries her brother and takes up the mantle of the leader of the biker gang. She gives us the final sphere for the tower!

Before I leave, I do a bunch of grinding- as a Sphinx, Ozzy now has Cure as a natural ability. Abilities get restored for free at inns, so never get truly used up, unlike all items in the game. Inns only charge 1GP per 1HP they heal. So we basically have free healing now! I use this opportunity to earn a bunch of money to pump the two humans (Jay and Jimi) with permanent stat-boosting potions. We're an absolute powerhouse of a team now!

I was hoping to finish the game in this session, but that was a particularly grueling world. It'll have to wait until next time! :D
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Re: Together Retro April 2021 - Little Big Adventure

by MegaJ Mon May 17, 2021 2:21 am

The final floors of the tower are once again crazy tough, even though we're extremely strong now, but with Ashura's four generals defeated, we're on the home stretch to face him!
It's a difficult climb, and we're barely making it past the tough random battles. Exhausted, we find a cave near to the top. Hoping to find rest and healing, we're instead met by a grim sight in the small home- three dead children. Like, the game doesn't even try to sugar-coat it- you try talking to them, and it straight up says 'This child looks dead...'. This took a dark turn from our regular jaunty adventures! That said, we actually have lost a lot of good people through Ashura's attack on the worlds of the tower, and our quest for the Spheres. Downstairs in the small home, we find the body of an adult. They're holding a diary. We read it and learn that this small family couldn't get any further up the tower, and were forced to seek shelter here. The final words read 'May the Creator protect the children'. Unfortunately, we know that that didn't happen.

That was a bummer.

We struggle on, and find a mysterious library. The books read 'Ashura...' 'is...' 'controlled...' 'by...' 'the...'
...and then the last book is illegible. Real wordsmiths here, each bookcase we examined contained just one word of that sentence. But among them was a secret room! Inside was... the tome for the ultimate attack spell, Flare!
After this, another small side-world- a peaceful field filled with flowers and a single hut. Inside, an old man on his deathbed. He had been tasked with waiting here for a hero to arrive to give them... the legendary sword, Xclbr! A sword so strong that it apparently scared off every vowel in its name.
The old man hands us the sword and passes on.
Yeesh, this game really does have a high body count. I wonder who's responsible for all of this?

Oh yeah, we also find a literal nuke somewhere in the tower. Sure, why not!

We're near the final tip of the tower now. Our fancy top-hat man friend once again shows up to give us some welcome advice- Ashura's at the top of the tower.
We get ready, and charge onward!
Coming face to face with the big bad guy himself, he offers us each a portion of the worlds he's been conquering if we join him instead. Hell no! We draw our weapons and mess him up good! He hit hard and killed Enya, but she still has lives left and we made it through.
But then... a trap door opens and we plummet!

A voice speaks to us:
"Can you climb out?"

We find ourselves...
At the very bottom of the tower!!
All the surviving characters we helped out are here with us- King Armor thanks us for taking his... King Armor. Without it, he gave up fighting for power and decided to go home and be a family man. His cyclops alien girlfriend is here too, and pregnant with his kid! The old riddle man/former dragon from the ocean world says something cryptic about Ashura being an illusion. The surviving sister from the sky world misses her sister, saying how they looked so alike but were such different people. The new leader of the biker gang from the post-apocalyptic world gives us her words of encouragement! The top hat man is here guiding us once again, too- he tells us that the road to Paradise is beyond the door of the tower. The town around the tower is packed with great stuff in the shops- Arcane is insanely useful, restoring all uses to any item or weapon! I grind a bit for a few of those to restore my best weapons up to full. The shop also has Power Armor- it's awesome and boosts everything, but requires it to be the only armour that character wears- which is actually pretty great- you tend to end up with better stats anyway from wearing it, and it frees up character inventory space! I get it for everyone, but choose to forego it for me- I'm almost maxed out anyway, and that headband the biker dude gave me gives me a ton of resistances. Plus sentimental value, y'know?

Fully prepared, we enter.
The inside of the tower is completely different now- just a few repeating floors of a straightforward but hard-fought path. Along the way, powered-up versions of each of the four world bosses are back- the big turtle from the starting world, the sea dragon from the ocean world, the tiger-guy from the sky world and the giant bird from the post-apocalypse world. They all go down easy- some of the random encounters here, and just surviving through so many tough random encounters was honestly way tougher. Along the way, we find some of the best equipment in the game (which actually ends up making me better than the Power Armor users)- Arthur Armor, Ninja Gauntlets, and... Shoes. Just shoes. this item has the footwear equipment symbol as its name, but is missing any actual name. Huh. Also, the Masamune! A legendary sword even stronger than Xclbr!

We finally make it to the top.

A strangely peaceful field. It's empty, and surrounded by clouds. We seem to have stepped out of a small sphere- was that our entire world?!

Waiting for us is our top hat friend.
He reveals himself as The Creator, and that everything we've been through was a game set up by him- he had created the evil Ashura as a way of testing the bravery and determination of his creations, as he believed that they didn't know what this meant. We were the first to succeed.
He offers us a wish- anything we want.

Screw that!

He's caused so much suffering just to use everyone as pawns for his game, so instead, WE PICK A FIGHT WITH GOD.

The final boss of this game is God. Like, actual God. They renamed him to "The Creator" in the English version, but apparently the original Japanese script is even more direct about who he is.

For the first part of the fight, he just floats there, unmoving in a white-hot rage.
Jimi kicks that nuke we'd been holding in reserve into his FACE.
Enya sets up some barriers for the party.
Ozzy... can't really do anything yet. God is apparently immune to Fire and Riddles.
Jay runs wildly at the creator of everything with the Masamune.

Eventually, he starts to actually fight- he tries to blind us with his Light attack (my badass headband makes me immune to it!) as well as using Repent, which tries to mass-confuse the party. He can also recover, and use a party-wide attack move called RIGHT (not a mistranslation, since he uses a move called Light as well)
Eventually, after taking enough damage, he just starts unleashing a God-level Flare spell every single turn which tears through everyone.

Jimi breaks the Glass Sword over his head over and over again (the actual strongest sword in the game- it breaks the first time you use it, but apparently it still has 50 uses in that one battle you decide to use, it and only disappears from your inventory after the battle ends? Convenient!) Ozzy takes up the role of a pure healer with his built-in Cure spell, and I keep hacking away with the Masamune. Enya finishes up setting up the barriers and blasts out a Flare every turn herself.
Our resolve wins through and The Creator is incinerated right down the center.

"Well, we didn't do too badly." one of the team says, having just literally slain God.

It's finally over.

The group wonder what to do next.
They see yet another door to a new world in front of them- could this be the entrance to Paradise told of all along...?

After all that's happened, they realise that they don't need it.

They decide to go home, to their own world.


Makai Toushi Sa·Ga (The Final Fantasy Legend) - Complete!

This was fun! A very rough, early Game Boy RPG that required a bit of guide help with the entirely bare-bones presentation of the items and abilities which didn't explain what anything did even slightly (and even the shortened and mistranslated item names themselves required some guesswork in-game at times) but the quirkiness and not knowing what to expect next made it pretty great! Also, surprisingly brutal towards the end! The random battles really did not pull any punches- they became some of the toughest I've seen in an RPG for ages.
If you're cool with the rougher, earlier style of JRPG, then I'd recommend it- but looking up a guide for just learning the (surprisingly unconventional) mechanics and checking up on what the items you've collected do is a must, unless you really want to experience that stuff by pure trial and error, but it's pretty opaque about what's going on on that front- a gentle bit of guide help just for the convenience of explaining what does what made the game leagues more engaging and fun for me, knowing what the heck was going on (kinda)!

This was a good time- Final Fantasy Legend II manages to be even wackier, if that's your thing! (It certainly is mine), and I've already finished Final Fantasy Legend III, which is oddly the most conventional of the bunch- aside from the time travel setting and weirdo monsters. They're all worth a play if you like aggressively old-school handheld RPGs with unusual settings!

Last edited by MegaJ on Mon May 17, 2021 1:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Together Retro April 2021 - Little Big Adventure

by MrPopo Mon May 17, 2021 12:31 pm

SaGa 3 is the one title that doesn't have Akitoshi Kawazu at the helm (originally of FF2 fame), which is why it's so much more conventional.

Fun fact about the original SaGa; the Saw item is an instant death item that was supposed to be "succeeds if user strength > target strength". However, due to a bug it's actually "succeeds if user strength < target strength". Guess who has the highest strength in the game and doesn't resist the instant death of Saw?
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Re: Together Retro April 2021 - Little Big Adventure

by MegaJ Mon May 17, 2021 1:01 pm

That actually makes a lot of sense- the Mutants in SaGa 1 gain stats in an extremely similar way to the levelling in Final Fantasy II - use spells to gain magic, use weapons to gain attack etc. So even the most standard feeling class in the game in terms of progression STILL doesn’t level in a usual way!

And yeah, I did actually see that the Saw trick was a thing, it seems pretty infamous! I chose to fight regularly though, I wanted a full battle!
Apparently Final Fantasy XIII or something has a similar trick with its final boss, which is supposed to be a homage to this game.
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