The Return of Talking Time

Go Back   The Return of Talking Time > Talking about media > Talking about television games

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 09-28-2018, 09:23 AM
Yimothy's Avatar
Yimothy Yimothy is offline
Meal break
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Pronouns: He/Him
Posts: 2,747
Default Unloved Obscure SMS Games

The Sega Master System was the console of my childhood, and occupies for me the same place that the NES does for a lot of tyrants my age. I've made a lot of posts in the TT megathreads about SMS games, and when I was posting about Heroes of the Lance recently I thought I'd make a thread for the system and post in there about its games. There's at least a half dozen other people on TT who care about the SMS, so I'm sure the thread will just bustle with activity.

Although popular in Europe, Australia, and Brazil, the SMS didn't do so well in Japan or North America, so in a sense all SMS games are obscure and unloved (thanks to JBear for the thread title). That said, there's games like Phantasy Star, and there's games like Kung Fu Kid. This thread is intended to have the "All games are good" mentality, and both of the games I just mentioned are good games. It's just more obvious in the first case. Not every game on the SMS is a great game, but there's lots to enjoy.

I've done Let's Plays of some SMS games:
My Hero
Wonder Boy in Monster Land
Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap
Alien Storm
Kung Fu Kid
Psychic World


Anyway, the immediate cause for this thread: I beat Heroes of the Lance. Here's the story so far:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yimothy View Post
Iíve started playing Heroes of the Lance:



To look at this top-down map, you might think itís a first person dungeon crawl. Instead, itís a 2D sidescroller with a very unusual method of navigation: you alternate between a 2D plane going from west to east, and a 2D plane running north south. Whenever you reach a passageway running in the other direction, you can press up or down to rotate the field of view. Itís pretty strange and took me a while to get my head around. The scale is also kind of inconsistent, so mapping is pretty tricky.

Iím playing the SMS version, but my copy is cart only and the game doesnít explain itself very well. I canít find the manual online (in English, at least), but the NES version manual is out there so Iíve been using that for guidance and hoping things arenít too different. There is at least one major difference: thereís no save on SMS. That sounds like a bad thing, but Iím not sure: so far as I can tell you have a fixed amount of MP, and once itís gone youíre stuffed. Iím using a tonne of it as I explore, but when I start over Iíll have make a beeline for where Iím up to and get there in much better condition. If I had a save I might be more reluctant to start over. Of course, if I could save I could get back to where I am, save, and continue from there next time.

Iíve been trying to play without looking up any info beyond the manual (which is why my map is about to run over the edge of the page despite my redrawing it in a different location once already - I have no idea how big the map is), but I did manage to get the impression that itís not well-regarded. Which is understandable, playing it. Itís a terrible action platformer (and only very loosely a platformer at all, really). The combat is pretty much march up to the enemy, hold attack, and see who dies first. Navigation is basically impossible without a map, and difficult with one. The RPG elements are weird - thereís experience points but they seem to just be a score, no levelling that Iíve seen, and the party is divided into two rows, with only magic users in the front row able to cast, but only one character is on screen at a time so Iím not sure what the point of the rows is. You can go into the menu to immediately heal back to full or switch lead character or cast spells at any time. Even so, itís very easy to quickly lose a lot of your party, permanantly if youíre not careful.

Still, Iím liking it. Once I read the manual and got an idea of how things worked, it opened up. Using the spells changes up the combat, I always like drawing maps, and figuring out this strange impenetrable mess of a game is pretty interesting.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yimothy View Post
Further to the above: I reached what I think is the final boss just now. According to the NES manual one of the characters is supposed to throw their weapon at it to beat the game. So I switched that character to the lead and went to cast the spell that would protect me from its attacks, only to find that Iíd right at that point run out of MP. Two seconds later half of my party was dead. Five seconds after that, they all were. Game over!

I should be able to get back there easily enough, so hopefully Iíll last more than ten seconds against the boss next time and finish the game.


Here's my map of the game. You start on the upper left section, then fall down a hole to the lower left section, which leads into the big grid on the right, which connects to the section at the bottom. I didn't actually need to map out the lower right part of the grid, because I found the path to the end boss before I went in there, but I like things to be complete.



Here's the starting screen, with Goldmoon the visible player character. The game is based on Dragonlance, which I'm not familiar with. The first time I played the game I walked to the right and fell in the hole, killing Goldmoon. She's the only character who can use the Raise Dead spell, so that left me at a disadvantage. To progress you have to move between planes. In the screenshot on the left I'm in an east-west plane, and have the option to move into a north-south plane, facing north if I press up, and south if I press down. In the second shot, I've pressed down and entered a north-south plane facing south. It's a very odd way to navigate.



The eight player characters are shown at the bottom of the screen. Whichever is in the upper right corner is the one active, but characters in the top row can cast spells if they're able and will occasionally take small amounts of damage (not nearly so much as the active character does though) from enemies or traps. Characters in the back row are safe, but can't act. Since you only have two spell casters, you can put them both in the front row and cast whatever you want whenever. You just have to be careful not to let them wind up active during a fight. If the lead character is killed, the next in the queue subs in immediately, and there's at least one place where this can lose you half the party in about a second.

In the first screenshot above, Riverwind has automatically swapped places with Goldmoon because she's about to run out of HP. He'll only do this for her, because of sexism their relationship. It's maybe also a mercy from the developers, since losing Goldmoon means you can't revive anybody if they die. In the second shot, you can see Tanis' stats. The game is based on D&D, but all the dice rolls happen behind the scenes. It doesn't tell you enemy HP or how much damage you're doing or anything. Each character has different stats and abilities, but it really boils down to a cleric, a magician, a thief, and five fighters. There are various long range attacks (bows, spears, sling, throwing axe, magic), some characters have magic weapons that are effective against ghosts or whatever, the thief can detect and deactivate traps if they're at the front, the magician doesn't run but still has a pretty good jump which makes crossing gaps a little easier, some of the characters can take over as cleric if Goldmoon dies, and there's probably other stuff going on, but most of it doesn't matter. Stick someone tough in front, heal them when necessary, and use spells on tough enemies, and you're all set.



I didn't get many action shots (I was taking photos of the screen on my phone, so doing it while an enemy was on screen would be suicide), but here are two of the deadliest foes in the game. On the right, a baby dragon. I've hit it with the web spell, which tangles it in a sticky web, leaving it unable to act and allowing me to take a photo (and also kill it while it can't fight back). Without the spell, they spit acid from out of melee range and do a lot of damage. On the left, the foe that caused me the most stress: a short hole in the ground. This particular one has blue stuff shooting up out of it. It puts out twelve shots then pauses briefly, during which you jump over. Time it wrong (easy to do) and the active character dies permanently (you can easily revive any character other than Goldmoon who dies in combat, but if they fall offscreen they're lost forever. If you leave a screen with a body on it it won't be there when you come back, too). There's only two jumps you have to make to reach the end of the game, fortunately.



Here's what it's like in the big grid. There's a series of long passages. Change planes, and you see big holes between them. Enemies respawn when you switch between planes, some of them right in the spot where you appear. There's no way besides dumb luck of finding the path without checking all the doorways, so I got in a lot of fights mapping this out. It might be possible to jump across some of these gaps (they aren't all as wide as these ones), but I didn't want to risk losing characters to find out.



Here's the entire ending. The difference between this and the game over when you die is that the game over screen says something like "You failed to find the Disks of Mishakal" at the top instead of "Congratulations". Plus you get a lot of experience for killing the boss and finding the Disks. This was my fourth run at the game after starting mapping. I reached the boss and died almost immediately on the second run, I finished the map and killed the boss on the third run but was then killed by the boss room collapsing. In the fourth run I went straight for the boss, mostly using the sleep spell to bypass enemies instead of killing them, killed the boss (Goldmoon has to throw her staff at it, an action she can't do at any other point in the game - if she's dead, which she was this time because I accidentally jumped towards the boss instead of throwing the staff (the controls are similiar for both actions), then a few of the other characters can pick up the staff and throw it instead), then started running past where it had been to reach the Disks of Mishakal lying on the floor. I ran past because I thought I'd just have to reach them, so I had to turn back. That resulted in my team getting hit by a lot of falling debris, so I only just made it back with my last surviving character (Flint) almost out of HP, entered the menu and selected Take, winning the game. From pushing start to reaching the end was about ten to fifteen minutes.

Heroes of the Lance has a lot wrong with it. It's got a lot of ambition in it, but I'd say its reach exceeds its grasp. Much of the detail the designers put in just doesn't matter. Maybe if you're a Dragonlance fan you just enjoy seeing the characters rendered faithfully (I assume) within the game. Even without that, I had a good time. Figuring this weird little game out was interesting. I don't think I'd feel confident recommending it to anyone, though.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 09-28-2018, 09:53 AM
Johnny Unusual's Avatar
Johnny Unusual Johnny Unusual is online now
till the sheriff stops by
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Fredericton, New Brunswick
Posts: 6,887
Default

What's the game where you were a penguin pushing an egg down an ice tower? Because that was the only one I owned. Apart from Snail Maze.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 09-28-2018, 09:56 AM
Yimothy's Avatar
Yimothy Yimothy is offline
Meal break
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Pronouns: He/Him
Posts: 2,747
Default

Penguin Land. I have that, but I found it super hard so I havenít played it much.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 09-28-2018, 10:40 AM
Johnny Unusual's Avatar
Johnny Unusual Johnny Unusual is online now
till the sheriff stops by
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Fredericton, New Brunswick
Posts: 6,887
Default

So it wasn't just young me who found it frustrating. Thanks!
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 09-28-2018, 01:19 PM
ArugulaZ's Avatar
ArugulaZ ArugulaZ is offline
Mr Toad's Wild Ride
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 12,767
Default



This immediately comes to mind whenever I think of Heroes of the Lance.

At least this Master System version looks more colorful. I'm impressed that you saw the game through to the end and mapped it all out.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 09-28-2018, 02:04 PM
Destil's Avatar
Destil Destil is offline
Chaotic Good
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Tucson, AZ
Pronouns: he / him
Posts: 22,650
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yimothy View Post
Maybe if you're a Dragonlance fan you just enjoy seeing the characters rendered faithfully (I assume) within the game.
Shivam?
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 09-28-2018, 02:06 PM
Octopus Prime's Avatar
Octopus Prime Octopus Prime is online now
Mystery Contraption
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: The Great White North
Pronouns: He
Posts: 47,596
Default

I always presumed that Heroes of the Lance was one of those games that wasnít nearly as bad as itís reputation implied, just a game that did a poor job of explaining itself.

Or maybe just the NES port.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 09-28-2018, 03:52 PM
ArugulaZ's Avatar
ArugulaZ ArugulaZ is offline
Mr Toad's Wild Ride
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 12,767
Default

I have the same reaction to Dark Castle. I realize that it's beloved by early Macintosh owners, but I'll always remember it as that impossibly bad kusoge on the Genesis which served as a harsh lesson that if you rented a non-sports EA game, you were sure to regret it.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 09-28-2018, 04:00 PM
Mightyblue's Avatar
Mightyblue Mightyblue is offline
Are You Sure About That?
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: I am a Mountain Man, in a mountain land
Pronouns: He/Him/His
Posts: 22,995
Default

The only exception to that rule is Starflight I think, which is possibly the only console port of a PC game that turned out better than its source material during that era.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 09-28-2018, 05:34 PM
Beefy Hits's Avatar
Beefy Hits Beefy Hits is offline
Answers come in dreams
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: MN
Posts: 1,546
Default

Ghostbusters had a good port on the SMS, better than the Commodore 64 version.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 09-28-2018, 05:39 PM
JBear's Avatar
JBear JBear is offline
Phantastic Oil
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Fredericton, NB, Canada
Pronouns: He/Him
Posts: 12,995
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Beefy Hits View Post
Ghostbusters had a good port on the SMS, better than the Commodore 64 version.
Hell yeah it did. Crane's Ghostbusters was ported to everything under the sun, but the SMS version was arguably the best. It was one of my favourite games as a child. I still have it upstairs in my storeroom, I think!
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 09-28-2018, 08:29 PM
Serephine's Avatar
Serephine Serephine is offline
hang high, soft star
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Georgia, USA
Posts: 10,667
Default

Post about old games I've never heard of forever, please. I will never get tired of it.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 09-30-2018, 04:11 AM
LBD_Nytetrayn's Avatar
LBD_Nytetrayn LBD_Nytetrayn is offline
..and his little cat, too
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Toronto, ON
Posts: 9,020
Default

I can't wait until I finish (hell, start) building my dream system and I can start hunting games like this down.

The SMS game I think I'm most eager to get my hands on, though, is Alex Kidd in Shinobi World (though I'd LOVE to get my hands on one of those physical Alex Kidd in Miracle World 2 copies).
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 09-30-2018, 05:19 AM
Yimothy's Avatar
Yimothy Yimothy is offline
Meal break
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Pronouns: He/Him
Posts: 2,747
Default

I had a model 1 SMS with Hang-On and Snail Maze built in, so I never played a lot of Alex Kidd except on model 2s at other peopleís houses. Iíve since gotten Shinobi World, and I quite enjoyed it. I donít know if Iíve seen Miracle World carts in the wild since getting back into the system, Iíd probably pick one up if I came across it. An MW2 cart would be neat, but I donít see myself finding one any time soon.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 09-30-2018, 10:02 PM
ShakeWell's Avatar
ShakeWell ShakeWell is offline
Slammaster
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Our Nation's Capital
Posts: 6,218
Default

This seems like the perfect thread for me to continue to stump about how great Master of Darkness is. It's a better Castlevania than Castlevania II (low bar, I know)!

I also discovered it because Sharkey talked about it on a very early episode of Retronauts and everyone thought he was nuts when he talked about the hero being "Dr. Social," but he was totally right. Also, the Japanese title is "In the Wake of Vampire" which is wonderful.

Anyways, I made a video about it like five years ago:

Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 10-01-2018, 05:13 AM
Octopus Prime's Avatar
Octopus Prime Octopus Prime is online now
Mystery Contraption
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: The Great White North
Pronouns: He
Posts: 47,596
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by ShakeWell View Post
It's a better Castlevania than Castlevania II (low bar, I know)!
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 10-01-2018, 06:18 AM
LBD_Nytetrayn's Avatar
LBD_Nytetrayn LBD_Nytetrayn is offline
..and his little cat, too
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Toronto, ON
Posts: 9,020
Default

Now I gotta get my hangin' whip.

The one fer hangin' folk.
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 10-01-2018, 10:33 AM
muteKi's Avatar
muteKi muteKi is offline
do you feel the eel zeal?
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Green chile cheeseburger capital of the world
Pronouns: they're more hobbyist nouns tbh
Posts: 13,623
Default

Master of Darkness is a quite good game. Its biggest sin is that the music is nowhere near memorable enough for a game of its style
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 10-01-2018, 10:45 AM
MetManMas's Avatar
MetManMas MetManMas is offline
Come, noble knights!
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Kissimmee, FL
Pronouns: He/Him/His
Posts: 21,248
Default

Please tell me you will do a proper Let's Play of Heroes of the Lance now that you've finished it.
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 10-01-2018, 10:57 AM
muteKi's Avatar
muteKi muteKi is offline
do you feel the eel zeal?
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Green chile cheeseburger capital of the world
Pronouns: they're more hobbyist nouns tbh
Posts: 13,623
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by muteKi View Post
Master of Darkness is a quite good game. Its biggest sin is that the music is nowhere near memorable enough for a game of its style
In fact I'm a little upset it would be even namedropped in a thread of "unloved" Master System games
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old 10-01-2018, 04:57 PM
Googleshng's Avatar
Googleshng Googleshng is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: CT
Posts: 16,232
Default

Golden Axe Warrior got seriously overlooked at the time for being a shameless Zelda clone.

This was years before the rest of the world decided that being a shameless Zelda clone is a pretty rad thing to be.



Also I swear I'm like the only person in the world with any love for Psycho Fox (Pro tip- go Tiger ASAP and never go back), and I swear it's the direct predecessor to Sonic.



And, Aztec Adventure is certainly a thing that exists!
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old 10-01-2018, 05:34 PM
MetManMas's Avatar
MetManMas MetManMas is offline
Come, noble knights!
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Kissimmee, FL
Pronouns: He/Him/His
Posts: 21,248
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Googleshng View Post
Golden Axe Warrior got seriously overlooked at the time for being a shameless Zelda clone.

This was years before the rest of the world decided that being a shameless Zelda clone is a pretty rad thing to be.
I've tried getting into the game a few times, but the difficulty level is a bit much compared to the real Zelda.
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 10-01-2018, 06:18 PM
Yimothy's Avatar
Yimothy Yimothy is offline
Meal break
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Pronouns: He/Him
Posts: 2,747
Default

Golden Axe Warrior is pretty good, but thereís way too much tedious grinding for HP, MP, and money. Itíd be a whole different, better game if you got a full HP/MP refill (and no loss of cash) on death.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MetManMas View Post
Please tell me you will do a proper Let's Play of Heroes of the Lance now that you've finished it.
Sorry, but the above is as far as I go with that one.
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old 10-01-2018, 07:20 PM
MetManMas's Avatar
MetManMas MetManMas is offline
Come, noble knights!
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Kissimmee, FL
Pronouns: He/Him/His
Posts: 21,248
Default

Fair enough. I rented the NES version once, I get why nobody would exactly be eager to replay it. Or finish it in the first place.
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old 10-01-2018, 11:00 PM
muteKi's Avatar
muteKi muteKi is offline
do you feel the eel zeal?
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Green chile cheeseburger capital of the world
Pronouns: they're more hobbyist nouns tbh
Posts: 13,623
Default

I've yet to play Aztec Adventure though I have a copy. I know it's Zelda-adjacent, but that's about it
Reply With Quote
  #26  
Old 10-02-2018, 09:58 AM
Dracula's Avatar
Dracula Dracula is offline
クソゲーが好な人
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: GRIGR
Pronouns: He/Him
Posts: 4,602
Default

It's great to see someone playing Heroes of the Lance and giving it the time of day. I've only ever seen it referred to in "lol the worst" lists, where it seems like most folks' relationship to it was "played for 5 seconds on an emulator". (Of course I'm talking about the NES version, but the principle is the same.)

I'm a stranger to a lot of the SMS library, having played just a few games via my Mega Everdrive. Master of Darkness is one, but I'd hesitate to call it "unloved." I'll keep an eye on this thread to see what else I might load onto that SD card.
Reply With Quote
  #27  
Old 10-02-2018, 11:02 AM
ArugulaZ's Avatar
ArugulaZ ArugulaZ is offline
Mr Toad's Wild Ride
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 12,767
Default

All this talk of Aztec Adventure convinced me to play the game. That was a mean trick, guys.
Reply With Quote
  #28  
Old 10-02-2018, 11:50 AM
muteKi's Avatar
muteKi muteKi is offline
do you feel the eel zeal?
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Green chile cheeseburger capital of the world
Pronouns: they're more hobbyist nouns tbh
Posts: 13,623
Default

Is Golvellius unloved? I feel like this is one of those games like Psycho-World that is better known in Japan due to being a port from an MSX game, although I understand it to not have much in common in terms of level structure. It's not on the level of, say, Dragon's Trap in terms of being a hidden gem but it's definitely something that feels like it doesn't get the credit it's due.
Reply With Quote
  #29  
Old 10-02-2018, 12:35 PM
ArugulaZ's Avatar
ArugulaZ ArugulaZ is offline
Mr Toad's Wild Ride
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 12,767
Default

It has its moments. I think it was by Compile, the same guys who made The Guardian Legend, and it shows in the layered gameplay. The overworld plays a lot like Zelda, while the dungeons are side-scrolling, most closely resembling Wonder Boy in Monster Land. As Master System action-adventure games go, it's better than most. Then again, I liked the Master System version of Ys so maybe I'm not the right person to make that judgement.

(Some other great Compile games on the Master System... Power Strike and R-Type. Yeah, they were the ones who ported it. They also made the strangely compelling NES version of Godzilla, but that's neither here nor there.)

So yeah, that Heroes of the Lance game. I gave it a spin on my PSP and I will give it this... it's MUCH more impressive visually than the NES game. Some of that boils down to the hardware- the SMS can toe the edge of 16-bit quality when pushed- but it's also surprising as it was developed by Tiertex. Tiertex is not a good game developer, as anyone who played their Genesis version of Strider II will attest.

However, like the NES game, it's rather tedious. Frequent pausing is necessary to both switch between your party members, and heal and revive your characters. Goldmoon seems to have the ability to heal and resurrect infinitely, or at least, I never ran up against any hard limits. I didn't try any of the other magic because I wasn't sure how it would work, but considering the crapload of damage I was taking during fights, I probably should have given it a chance.

This is probably one of those games I'm just too old and impatient to see to the end. I might have beaten my head against this brick wall in my teens, but now, screw that!
Reply With Quote
  #30  
Old 10-02-2018, 02:13 PM
muteKi's Avatar
muteKi muteKi is offline
do you feel the eel zeal?
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Green chile cheeseburger capital of the world
Pronouns: they're more hobbyist nouns tbh
Posts: 13,623
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by ArugulaZ View Post
It has its moments. I think it was by Compile, the same guys who made The Guardian Legend, and it shows in the layered gameplay. The overworld plays a lot like Zelda, while the dungeons are side-scrolling, most closely resembling Wonder Boy in Monster Land. As Master System action-adventure games go, it's better than most. Then again, I liked the Master System version of Ys so maybe I'm not the right person to make that judgement.
At least at the time I'd played it we weren't in the embarrassment of riches of Zelda clones that we are in now, especially ones that broke up The Formula in such specific ways. But you're right that it has a feel of a dry run for what would be The Guardian Legend in it -- there are those auto-scrolling top down dungeons that are an interesting idea and definitely feel like the work of a company who wanted to make a Zelda clone but had their roots in shmup design.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
jbear's dream come true , sega

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 09:15 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Your posts ©you, 2007