Vintage Game Night

A friend of mine collects video games and has a collection of over 1,000 video games. He especially likes collecting and playing older video games. When I lived in the area he would periodically host Vintage Game Nights in which we’d play old classics and some unknown titles. I recently visited the area and we got together for another VGN. Here were the highlights:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles In Time (SNES)

TurtlesInTime

I’ve been itching to play this game again for a while. A great and fun beat-em-up featuring our favorite pizza-devouring turtles and a prime example of old video games in the age of “everything explodes upon defeat.” I forgot how much stuff they added to this to make it fresh and fun for a button-masher. You’ve got environmental effects such as being able to blast Foot Clan soldiers with hydrants and them getting hit with their own giant bowling balls.

Of course, the combos and special attacks are awesome. I forgot just how many there are. I never figured out the combos but they were so easy that just button mashing would have you do many of them. There’s several kinds of throws including one in which your throw the foot soldier at the screen. This is used to hilarious and ingenious effect in the first fight against Shredder which takes place from his perspective. The only way to hit him is to throw foot soldiers at him. My favorite is grabbing a soldier and brutally bashing him back and forth, weaponizing his poor body such that one hit will kill any other foot soldiers you hit with him.

As kids we always set ourselves on max lives and continues. This time we just went with default settings. We were doing pretty well until the titular time travel. The past is a pretty rough place; no wonder Shredder decided to use that to try to kill the turtles. Enemies like the Stone Soldiers are rough, doing tons of damage and taking tons in return. Slash, the sword fighting evil turtle, is a pretty rough boss with great speed, doing lots of damage on attacks, and good defense. We fully Game Over’d on the pirate ship against Bebop and Rocksteady as we just ran out of lives.

I started as Raphael since I always played as him as a kid. After GO’ing a couple times I decided to respawn as Michelangelo since the other player had already tried Leonardo and Donatello. Wow, I can see why we never used Mikey as a kid. He seemed so slow and didn’t have reach like Leo and Don. I honestly think we would have gotten a bit further and past the pirate stage if I had stuck with Raph.

Metroid II: Return of Samus (Gameboy)

ReturnOfSamus

In honor of the upcoming remake of this game I decided to put the original in. My first Metroid game was Super Metroid, the third installment. I’d maybe played this a bit here and there at friends’ houses but never owned or played much of it. I’ll give it this: I like it better than the original. The ability to crouch alone is a monstrous improvement in my opinion. No more difficulties hitting short enemies. Still, the effect of playing the later, more advanced, and I would say leagues better sequels soured this for me. No diagonal aiming. The screen was so small they could not fit much on there and a few times I hit an enemy I had no way of knowing was there due to screen transitions. Finally, no maps. Adding maps to Metroid was a huge improvement for the series. Samus controlled clunky too. As you can tell, I didn’t have much patience for this one. I still look forward to the remake. I saw a bit of the fan-made remake before it was shut down and if the official one is anywhere near as good it’ll be an awesome game.

Mega Man 4

MegaMan4

Toad Man’s whole battle strategy is to taunt Mega Man and got shot for it repeatedly

This occupied a surprisingly large amount of our time. I started off on this one. I had to shake some rust off but then managed to beat Toad Man; the easiest boss on the easiest stage. I then turned the controller over to the others, most of whom had little experience with Mega Man. Much time was spent on Bright Man’s stage struggling with the moving platforms over pits requiring precise jumps. Groans were made anytime they saw another platforming section.

Eventually the group gave up on Bright Man and I suggested Pharaoh Man’s stage. I remembered the stage not being too bad but warned the boss was very tough without his weakness. The stage was bit tougher than I remembered it, with some tough enemies early on and some difficult platforms over spikes later.

We also had a great time spouting Mega Man memes. “All you have to do is jump and shoot,” being a very popular one, especially after the current player died on a difficult section. “Okay, you almost made it to the difficult part,” was one of mine, right after the current player died for the third time on a different still-difficult part. “Watch out for the (obstacle), which is of course instant death.” Mercy invincibility was very popular on Pharaoh Man’s stage to avoid spikes many times. Rush was referred to as “Spring Dog” many times due to his main utility being to spring Mega Man on higher jumps.

The Legend of Zelda: Adventure of Link

AdventureOfLink

My impression of this game was that it was the bastard child of the Zelda series: much different than the others and the worst one. It’s a side-scroller instead of top-down and actually has RPG elements unlike the other Zelda games (still don’t understand how it’s considered an RPG series by some). I took first shift on this and honestly it wasn’t that bad. There was some frustration at first in finding where to go. There are two caves nearby and this is a game where caves are dark until you get a Candle. I thought the idea was you don’t go into a cave until getting it. After sweeping the relatively small starting area a few times I picked a cave and just went through it. There were a couple invisible enemies in it, which is a jerk move, but that was the way to go. The first dungeon was nearby.

I was impressed with the combat for a NES game. It isn’t much by today’s standards but Link can stab high and low. I know there’s a down-stab move (same as what he has in Smash Bros.) but I didn’t unlock it. His shield also blocks high or low. In the first dungeon there were some enemies that made the player use this as they would also attack and defend high and low.

The lack of map still bugged me in the first dungeon but it wasn’t too bad. The knight enemies were a bit much for my feeble skills and did a good amount of damage. Link has a Shield spell early on to reduce damage but only enough MP to use twice. Enemies will sometimes drop MP refills but we never saw a health refill. This made the dungeon pretty tough. I limped to the boss and died before figuring out anything about him.

One of the other guys made some good progress in the dungeon. He found the fabled Candle. He also found a room with Anti-Faeries flying about. Most of them weren’t bad to avoid but then there was one flying like a bat out of hell.

Tecmo Super Bowl 2017 – Playoffs

Format

One thing to mention is that the seeding in Tecmo is a bit messed up. The 3-seed and 5-seed meet in the Wildcard round. This is likely either an oversight or something that couldn’t be corrected by the romhackers when they put in the extra divisions. Also, the tournament follows a standard format where the Round 1 winners will always know their next opponent immediately rather than real-life where the Wildcard round is a play-in round and the true tournament starts in the Divisional round. This is something that also happened on the original Tecmo.

I put COM labels on all non-Falcons teams and watched COM vs. COM matchups for all non-Falcons games. The results are below.

Wildcard Round

AFC: Bengals (5) at Steelers (3)

 

The playoffs started with a doozy. The Steelers were clearly the better team in the first half but took only a 17-14 lead into halftime. The Steelers offense seemed unstoppable and not because they kept getting huge plays; they ground out three long drives using relatively short gains. Bell in particular amassed 90 yards and 2 TDs. Meanwhile, Dalton did not complete a pass in the first half. So how did the Bengals keep it close? Special teams. The Steelers kept kicking it incredibly short to give the Bengals short fields. One kick return went to the Pit 8. They also fumbled away a kick from the Bengals.

Still, the Steelers likely wouldn’t keep screwing up like that. I expected them to pull away in the second half. The Bengals came out with an 80+ yard Green TD reception. Then the Steelers used their own big plays and an interception to build a 31-21 lead in the 4th quarter. The next drive saw 4th and 28 for the Bengals. With multiple missed tackles a Dalton-Bernard pass converted. Dalton-Green for a 40 yard TD soon after to make it 31-28. The Steelers missed a TD opportunity on the next drive but hit a FG to make it 34-28.

Another criminally short kick gave the Bengals a short field on the last drive. They got to the Pit 15 with 18 Tecmo seconds left (maybe 2 plays but not guaranteed). Dalton hit Eifert for a TD as time expired and the PAT was good. The Tecmo Bengals got further than the real-life Bengals have gotten since 1990, before Tecmo Super Bowl itself.

Final – 35-34, Bengals

NFC: Saints (5) at Vikings (3)

 

Ingram looked unstoppable at first. He ran with blazing speed and was popcorning defenders. Combined with Brees’s precision it seemed like a shootout that the Vikings wouldn’t be able to keep up with. The Vikings did the smart thing and fed Peterson on offense, converting a 4th and 1 on the way to a TD. At 7-7 in the 2nd quarter a season that had been very unkind to certain players took one more victim:

Tecmo2017_rev2_055

This season had an insatiable hunger for star QBs

The Viking seemed to feed on this turn of events. The Saints, with McCown subbed in, started focusing on the pass more for some reason. Everson Griffen began destroying the Saints O-line and had about 5 or 6 sacks on the day. McCown was picked off twice and the Vikings scored a safety once. Meanwhile, the Vikings may have kept up with the Saints even if they were unstoppable like on their first drive. Peterson led the way with 234 rushing yards and 4 TDs. Despite the stat line, it wasn’t all Peterson. Bradford made some good plays especially on 3rd down. In the end, it turned into a blowout.

Final – 36-7, Vikings

AFC: Chiefs (6) at Broncos (4)

 

Jamaal Charles was a beast when I saw him in the season but he was injured on the first drive of the game. After two picked plays in which they were almost safety’d, KC punted it and Den fumbled the punt which KC returned deep in Den territory. They made 7 out of that. The KC defense then picked some plays and the offense made it 14-0. Den woke up after that. Siemian hit a wide open Sanders for an 85 yard TD. Miller made an appearance on D and a picked play caused a fumble which gave Den the ball deep. Anderson converted that gift to make it 14-14 at halftime. Den had 0 rushing yards at the half while Alex Smith led KC rushing with 44.

It was all Broncos in the second half. West was running very slow and getting minimal yardage. Smith got some 3rd down conversions but it wasn’t enough. Miller and Ware were a force and combined for about 7 sacks. Meanwhile, Den got the running game going and Siemian had success on the deep passing attack.

Final – 35-14, Broncos

NFC: Cardinals (6) at Rams (4)

 

Gurley remained a speed demon and wasted little time tearing off on a 60 yard TD rush. LA then wisely decided to stop feeding Gurley and put the offense on Keenum’s shoulders. The Cardinals D used this opportunity to record several sacks as they had little trouble getting through the LA o-line. Keenum still managed a TD pass to Austin. The Cardinal offense also started hot with Peterson runs and some nice passes from Palmer. At halftime the Cardinals led 17-14. Palmer was 71%, 146 pass yards, and 2 pass TDs.

In the second half LA finally gave the ball back to Gurley but the Cardinals figured out how to defend Gurley and kept smothering him. On offense the Cardinals fell in love with the Palmer sneak which had predictable results until Palmer inexplicably ran up the middle for 20 yards on a 3rd down. The Cardinals went up 27-14. LA made a move for a comeback on a Keenum-Gurley 70 yard passing TD in the 4th, making it 27-20. But the Cardinals did a good job killing clock with the ball back and got an insurance FG.

In addition to his good day passing Palmer led Ari with 55 rushing yards. Gurley turned in 104 rushing yards, 86 receiving yards, and 2 TDs in the loss. Keenum contributed 33%, 126 passing yards, and an interception.

Final – 30-21, Cardinals

Divisional Round

AFC: Bengals (5) at Jaguars (2)

 

Offensive explosion in the first half as between the two teams there was only one punt. The Bengals started with a huge gain on a pass to Bernard but then he fumbled it away. Bortles looks like a great QB on Tecmo. He was decently fast and accurate and helped convert some plays while Ivory also had great speed and elusiveness. The Jaguars scored TDs on all three of their first half possessions while Ivory tallied 71 yards and a TD. The Bengals got two more big plays after that lost fumble which kept them close. It was 21-14, Jaguars at halftime.

The defenses took over a 3rd quarter that saw 3 turnovers. Ivory started the half by coughing it up. Dalton decided it’d be a great idea to throw into double and triple coverage and was picked twice. The second pick led to a Jax TD to make it 28-14. The Jaguars were in control from there. The Bengals couldn’t get the big plays going in the second half. They scored a garbage time TD but wouldn’t pull within a score. Dalton finished with 33%, 133 yards, 2 TDs, and 2 Ints. Onto the AFC Championship for the Jaguars which is a little bit further than they got in real life.

Final – 34-21, Jaguars

NFC: Vikings (3) at Falcons (2)

 

With how difficult regular season games got to be I knew I was in for it here. I got blasted in my first try of this game. I decided I had to change the playbook and focus more on stopping the run. At this point a single missed tackle on a running play probably means giving up a TD. I’m not an expert of Tecmo playbooks since I usually just use the default but I found some tips online. I got rid of plays that I never used (playaction) and focused on rushing plays that didn’t take long to set up and a combination of short and long passing plays.

The Viking defense still made life miserable. Griffin busted through the line immediately on pretty much every play. On one punt Patterson, the returner, coughed it up. Alex Mack scooped it up and took it all the way to the house for the first score. On the next possession I missed Peterson once so of course he was gone for the tying score. Both teams lost a fumble each after that but the Vikings still made a late drive at the end of the half to go up 10-7. The Falcons had 0 offensive yards in the first half while Peterson was 3 for 102 yards and a TD.

Alford had a beautiful diving pick to stop one dangerous Viking drive. I still couldn’t get anything going but at least was stopping the Vikings too. Then they left Julio wide open and Ryan hit him for a 70 yard score to take the lead. That is, until I missed Peterson again and he went the distance to give the lead back to Min. Next drive the Falcons used short gains to drive down the field the hard way until Freeman managed to bust through the line for a 20 yard TD late in the 4th. 21-17, Falcons. On the Vikings’ last chance I played a sort of run-prevent to stop Peterson from busting another one. The Vikings got some gains but ran out of time. The Falcons finished with 150 yards with 74 of those going to Julio. Peterson alone had 202 yards and 2 TDs.

Final – 21-17, Falcons

AFC: Broncos (4) at Patriots (1)

 

A.k.a. The Fumble Bowl. This was a crazy game. There were five lost fumbles and an interception between the two teams in the first half alone. The Broncos either scored or turned it over on every possession. Anderson lost two fumbles himself but did manage to break through for a TD rush after Den recovered a Brady fumble. The Bronco D-line continued to be dominant as Brady was given no time in the first half. Someone broke through every play right away and it wasn’t even Miller. The Broncos, fearful of the clock, kicked a late FG too early and gave NE time and a short field for them to get on the board with a FG. It was 10-3, Broncos, at halftime. There were 115 yards of offense in the first half, 25 of which were the Patriots’. The Broncos did not complete a pass in the first half.

Some nice defense caused the first punt from the Broncos. Then the Patriot returner fumbled it. The ball bounced for a while among four Broncos before the punter finally picked it up and ran it in for a score. Down two scores in the 4th Ware of the Broncos continued to make life miserable for Brady. The Broncos defense got a stop on 4th down and then the offense got an insurance TD. It was pretty much over from there. Ware had four sacks on his own in the victory.

At the beginning of the season I thought it’d be a Patriots vs. Falcons Super Bowl, just like the real life matchup. The Broncos’ defense and a slippery ball apparently took offense to my expectations.

Final – 24-10, Broncos

NFC: Cardinals (6) at Cowboys (1)

 

The WRs showed off their skills early as both Bryant and Fitzgerald saved drives with jumping or diving catches. Bryant went on to score a TD while Palmer found a wide open Gresham for a TD. After that, the offenses stalled. Romo threw two picks, both in Cardinal territory with one in the endzone. It was a 7-7 tie at halftime.

The Cardinals got it going in the third quarter. Johnson went for 70 yards to set up a TD. Catanzaro hit a 50 yard FG to make it a 17-7 Cardinal lead. The Cowboys couldn’t respond. The Cardinals always had good coverage and good rushing defense and a healthy amount of picked plays to derail drives. It became a rout in the 4th. The Cardinals scored on a Palmer sneak and on a picked Cowboy reverse where they knocked down Bryant before he could get the pitch, resulting in a fumble that was returned to the house. Romo finished with 3 Ints. Palmer finished 66%, 206 yards, 3 pass TDs, and 1 rush TD.

Final – 38-7, Cardinals

Conference Championships

AFC Championship: Broncos (4) at Jaguars (2)

 

 

Some time ago an in-law of mine got drunk and enacted a five minute skit in which he declared the true Super Bowl LI wasn’t Patriots vs. Falcons; we only think so because of the Illuminati. Instead, the real Super Bowl was Jaguars vs. Falcons. Because of that and because of the contrast between the Tecmo Jaguars and the real-life Jaguars I was pulling for them in this game.

The 1st quarter was filled with stuffed Broncos runs and the Broncos’ D-line continuing to destroy plays and O-linemen. The Jaguars used runs to score first in the 2nd quarter. The Broncos used a curious strategy of running the reverse three straight times and then not running it to get Thomas wide open for a score. It was 7-7 at halftime. The Jaguars did not complete a pass in the first half, largely due to the Broncos’ D-line. However, Bortles was the leading rusher out of both teams going 3 for 55 yards.

Bortles had enough of the Bronco D-line and threw a laser TD pass to Robinson while under pressure to open the 3rd. The Broncos had to work a little harder but the Jaguars neglecting to have anyone in coverage on a 3rd and 4 helped them keep a drive alive and later score. Ware then made his presence known using two sacks to kill a promising Jax drive. The Broncos then scored their third straight TD on a Siemian-Anderson pass. Thomas of Jax fumbled the ball away on the next drive. The Jax defense got a stop to keep hope alive but there was less than half a minute left. The offense failed to get the tying score. Demaryius Thomas ended the day with 159 yards and 2 TDs. Siemian was 53%, 207 yards, and 3 TDs. However, most impressive was how the Bronco D-line continued to make life miserable for opposing QBs. I’d say that’s the main reason that led to the Broncos being AFC Champs.

Final – 21-14, Broncos

 

NFC Championship: Cardinals (6) at. Falcons (2)

 

 

Due to emulator troubles I played 9 quarters of this game. The first try was an epic back-and-forth struggle in which Julio had a leaping catch for a late go-ahead score. Then as I attempted to get a screenshot (Alt+E) I accidentally hit Alt+R (reset). On the next try I got out to a promising 10-0 start in the 1st quarter but then my computer crashed.

Anyway, on the game that counted I got out to another promising start. The first drive was comprised of short gains into FG range before it stalled. The second drive featured a heavy dose of Freeman right up the middle which was my best run play at this point. It paid off with a TD to make it 10-0. Defensively things were going great as the Cardinals couldn’t get anything going. It could have been 17-0 but Ryan overthrew a wide open Julio. Freeman was the leading rusher and receiver in the first half with 57 total yards and a TD. The Cardinals had 8 first half yards total.

Unfortunately, it didn’t stay that way. Palmer used short gains to drive down the field and then get on the board to Gresham. Coleman then had a nice kick return which he of course fumbled away. The Cardinals drove to 1st and goal. Their 3rd quarter drives took so long that this is when the 3rd ended.

Thanks in part to a picked play the Falcons held the Cardinals until 4th and goal at the 8. I thought they’d kick a tying FG but early in the 4th they went for it. Palmer’s pass was defended and the ball went to the Falcons. Freeman gained a lot of space by going off for 40 yards and it seemed the Falcons were in business. But then of course there was another fumble. The Cardinals likely had one chance left. Some stout D made it 4th down again and the defense managed yet another key stop! With little time left the offense just screwed around (no kneel-down in Tecmo) until time expired. Freeman ended with 104 total yards in a game where neither team went above 160.

Final – 10-7, Falcons

Tecmo2017_rev2_128

Pro Bowl

 

 

I could have put the MAN tag on the NFC but decided to have this go as a COM vs. COM matchup. Both offenses started hot with Peterson going on long runs and Brady finding different receivers. Both QBs were surprisingly fallible as Brady let himself get sacked standing forever a couple times and Rodgers had to get bailed out by his receivers a few times. Brady failed to get a TD after 2nd and goal at the 2 and that resulted in a halftime score of 14-10, NFC. Despite that, Brady went 80%, 116 yards, and a TD. Peterson put in 52 yards and a TD.

The AFC started with big plays in the second half to take a 17-14 lead. They used a picked play to derail the next NFC drive. Brady had a nice play where he narrowly avoided a safety to hit Edelman for a huge gain but then Edelman fumbled it away. After that Rodgers finally started making BS completions in coverage like he did against the Falcons to retake the lead. Back and forth after that with Charles getting a huge run and Tate bailing Rodgers out with a diving TD grab. With time running out Brady hit Miller for a long gain but Miller was tragically stopped 20 yards short.

Final – 28-24, NFC

Super Bowl

Falcons (2) vs. Broncos (4)

 

 

 

After seeing them demolish offenses all postseason long I had great fear of the Bronco D-line. Star Wars has taught us that fear leads to the dark side. However, there are some groups, like the Sith, that derive power from the dark side. The Sith predominantly favor red and black. Thus, perhaps red and black groups get power from fear. That’s the only somewhat reasonable explanation I have for what happened in this game.

The Super Bowl started with Grade-A bullshit. The opening kick went to the Broncos and was covered well. The returner fumbled it. However, it was recovered by another Bronco who found a crease and zoomed off to the Atl 15. A Trufant sack helped prevent a TD. Both teams were stopped on their next possessions which took the rest of the 1st quarter.

Now to give myself some precious time before Ryan got swallowed by the Den D I called a shotgun play: the only one I had which involved everyone going deep. Everyone was covered but Ryan had time. I decided to just lob one up for Julio and see what happened. Julio made a jumping catch while the two guys on him dove for a ball that would never get close to the ground. 80 yard TD Julio.

I got too aggressive on defense and let Trufant get taken out of the play and of course no CPU player had a shot at stopping the boosted Anderson. Den led 10-7. I soon after called shotgun again. Again everyone was covered so I sent another 80 yard pass deep. And again Julio leaped up to snag it for a TD. Den had no time to score before the half. It was 14-10, Atl at the half. Atl had 0 rushing yards. Siemian was 33% and 36 yards. Anderson had 77 yards and a TD. But the true star was Julio with 160 yards and 2 TDs.

Atl started with the ball but the Den kicker went full power and I barely got Coleman out of his own endzone (which is a safety on Tecmo). The only play I had that I could be reasonably certain wouldn’t result in a safety was the shotgun. Again Ryan had surprising time (thanks o-line!) but nobody open. So why not try Julio a third time? Julio didn’t quite make it in for a TD but got a 96 yard reception. Freeman got the first non-Julio TD and yards. The two score lead was short lived as I missed another tackle on Anderson who shot out for his own long score.

If it’s not broke why fix it? Long pass to Julio again who this time dove into double coverage to snag the ball instead of jumping. 60 yard gain. Then Freeman fumbled the ball away. Den pulled out some of their own bullshit catches to convert 3rd downs and drive within the 10 early in the 4th. Some staunch run defense and a diving play by Alford kept them out of the endzone and brought up 4th and goal from the 4. It was an Anderson run and Trufant was there for the stop at the 2.

Of course, no room to operate on offense so what choice did I have but to go shotgun again? Julio pulled one down for 80 this time. Wasn’t able to get in the endzone from there but Matt Bryant made it 24-17. There was little time left for the Broncos. Trufant and an energized Falcons defense stopped them three times as time ran out.

The below stat screen has pretty much all the stats you need to know. Julio fed off the dark side in this game.

Final – 24-17, Falcons

 

 

Bonus Content: Simulated Season

As a kid I not only played some Tecmo seasons but simulated some as well. I figured I’d simulate a season and see what a non-human-influenced season would turn out like. Here are some things I noticed:

  • The Falcons unfortunately went 7-9 and finished 3rd in the NFC South. The Saints went 4-12 and were in the cellar.
  • The Jaguars once again pulled in the 2-seed.
  • The Steelers were the first team to clinch their division yet finished only 9-7.
  • 4 of the NFC playoff teams finished 11-5: the 1, 2, 3, and 5 seeds.
  • The NFC North finished like this:
    Tecmo2017_rev2_179
  • The 5 and 6 seeds faced off in the NFC Championship
  • The Simulated Tecmo Super Bowl 51 was a rematch of Super Bowl 43 between the Steelers and Cardinals

The playoffs went like this:
AFC Wildcard – Steelers (9-7, 3) vs. Bills (11-5, 5) -> 19-7, Steelers
NFC Wildcard – Bears (11-5, 3) vs. Cardinals (11-5, 5) -> 28-21, Cardinals
AFC Wildcard – Chiefs (9-7, 4) vs. Texans (10-6, 6) -> 27-14, Texans
NFC Wildcard – Cowboys (8-8, 4) vs. Lions (10-6, 6) -> 30-10, Lions

AFC Divisional – Jaguars (13-3, 2) vs. Steelers (10-7, 3) -> 21-16, Steelers
NFC Divisional – Panthers (11-5, 2) vs. Cardinals (12-5, 5) -> 20-10, Cardinals
AFC Divisional – Patriots (13-3, 1) vs. Texans (11-6, 6) -> 34-28, Patriots
NFC Divisional – Seahawks (11-5, 1) vs. Lions (11-6, 6) -> 34-24, Lions

AFC Championship – Patriots (14-3, 1) vs. Steelers (11-7, 3) -> 20-14, Steelers
NFC Championship – Cardinals (13-5, 5) vs. Lions (12-6, 6) -> 24-10, Cardinals

Super Bowl – Steelers (12-7, 3) vs. Cardinals (14-5) -> 31-21, Cardinals

Final Fantasy V – Four Job Fiesta 2017

Introduction

It’s that time of year again. Quick recap: the Fiesta is an annual event that raises money for Child’s Play, a charity that gives games, books, and entertainment to kids that have to stay in hospitals for long periods of time. A Fiesta run is a challenge run where the player gets assigned one job per crystal and must have at least one character in each assigned job at all times.

Here are my past Fiesta runs:

Chaos Run

The past two years I did vanilla Fiesta runs. That is where each crystal gives one of the jobs it unlocks. This year I tried a Chaos run: each crystal gives a job that can be from any of the crystals, not just itself.

This can lead to some side effects. You can now be assigned a job you can’t yet access. You then ignore the assignment until you can access the job. Also, duplicates are possible. For every repetition of a job you need that many characters in that job. E.g. If you get Mystic Knight twice you must have two Mystic Knights at all times.

Wind Job: Black Mage

FF5-BlackMage

An exciting job but a bit disappointing since I got it first just last year. Black Mage continued to be dominant. Thus, the very early stages of the game were identical to last year.

BM gets elemental attack magic and some status ailments. Lots of enemies have elemental weaknesses and black magic tends to do a lot of damage even without one. This allows you to damage race a lot of bosses.

Black Mage continues to be a job that can carry a whole team. With this being two years in a row next year if I get Black Mage I’ll Job Fair out of it (pay a few extra bucks to the charity to get a new assignment).

Water Job: Beastmaster

FF5-Beastmaster

Another repeat of last year and I was very tempted to Job Fair. But I stuck with it. In-game Beastmaster is a Fire job so I couldn’t use it immediately. This meant sticking with four Black Mages. How terrible </sarcasm>.

Anyway, when I did get access to Beastmaster they were as last year: best at disabling foes. Whips can inflict paralysis, do decent damage, and do full damage from the back row. Control they learn later. It’s not usually good for the actual control but for making dangerous foes waste turns. Good timing allows you to Control-lock foes. Finally, Catch is underwhelming except there are some monsters to catch that deal 25% of max HP in damage. This can be incredible on some difficult bosses.

Dungeon: Karnak Escape – Back to the game, the Karnak escape went smooth as it ever has with four Black Mages to blast everything to bits. 10 minutes to get out and most chests have monsters but I still got about everything I wanted with time to spare, a rarity.

Fire Job: Time Mage

FF5-TimeMage_7612

Getting fire essentially unlocked two jobs for me. Time Mage is a job I often used in non-Fiesta runs but this is the first time for me in Fiesta. From other runs I’ve seen TM is a very powerful class and it synergizes well with BM. It gets rods like BM and staves too which is nice since they can use the Healing Staff (free Cura; good healing up until endgame).

Of course their true power is Time Magic. Haste is extremely useful for doubling a unit’s speed. Later, Hastega hits the whole party at once. In this game Slow works on some bosses. Haste and Slow will have you running circles around a boss. This further enhances the party’s damage racing. Also has some other spells like Comet for highly random non-elemental damage.

Boss: Archaeovis – A tough boss that showed off the combined power of BM and TM. Strong offense and defense make this a tough boss to damage race. This year I remembered to break rods for added damage. More sustainably, I used Haste, Slow, and Regen (periodically regain small HP). Regen usually gives too few HP to be useful but with the team running circles around Archaeovis and this still being early game it allowed me to keep pace with the boss’s damage. Black and Time Magic combined made a difficult boss pretty easy.

Earth Job: Ninja

FF5-Ninja

Another familiar and conventionally powerful job. Dual wielding for lots of physical damage. Smoke for skipping difficult or annoying encounters (very useful). Throw I always underutilize but it can be used for high single target and group damage at the expense of items. Sky high agility for going first and passive ability to get more preemptive strikes. No great synergies with any other jobs but pretty good on its own.

Boss: Chimera Brain – Needed to catch a Zuu for Breath Wing (25% max HP in wind damage) to aid the damage race. Chimera Brain can end a fight in two moves.

FFV-Gilgamesh

Battle on the Big Bridge – Gilgamesh sets himself up well for a damage race with high damage Jump and then buffing himself with Haste, Protect, and Shell. Counter with my own Haste and breaking rods.

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Boss: Atomos – A boss made for damage racing. KOs a hero and begins sucking them in. BM for damage and TM for Haste. The hero Atomos picked off wasn’t even halfway to it when Atomos went down.

Boss: Four Crystals – Difficulty is that when you get one under half HP it spams a powerful group attack. Two of those is Game Over. Thus, the trick is to weaken it close and then blitz it the rest of the way down. BM was enough last year for three of them. Issue was the crystal that absorbs or is immune to the three elements of BM.

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Boss: Exdeath – Noticing a pattern yet? Exdeath has powerful attacks but can’t just go to berserk “wipe the party out in two moves” like the crystals. Hastega combined with powerful black magic and Exdeath barely got any actions in before biting the dust.

Endgame

Ninjas was my best source of sustainable, no-MP damage throughout the run. Endgame had Ninja equipped with Sasuke’s Katana and the Twin Lance (a double-weapon that itself deals two hits). Beastmaster got the Fire Lash (good attack and a chance to cast Firaga with every attack for more damage) but was mostly in charge of using Control to rob turns from enemies. Black Mage got the -aga spells for lots of damage (especially with elemental-enhancing rods) and Flare which was mostly used when I wanted a non-Black Mage to use Black Magic. Time Mage had Hastega (party-wide Haste) and then got Meteor (4 random hits spread among enemy party, damage is highly randomized but if used on single target generally the most powerful attack spell).

The damage rush strategy mentioned above continued to be viable for every challenge of the merged world. Here were the exceptions:

Boss: Azulmagia – Rare it is that this fight is challenging. Azulmagia is a Blue Mage boss that uses a variety of Blue Magic. I believe it mostly goes on random spells and in this case it picked some good ones. Level 2 Old inflicts Old (ailment that makes victim loss levels over time, greatly reducing stats and damage output) on characters at levels that are multiples of 2 (my whole team this time). Level 4 Graviga (also my whole team) cuts the targets’ HP to 1/4. Old made this fight take significantly longer. A drawn-out fight is not good for this team. However, Azulmagia has trouble sustaining a powerful attack as well so I was able to survive long enough to win.

Boss: Twintania – The idea with this boss is it has powerful counters and at a certain point starts charging Gigaflare to wipe out your party. The Gigaflare portion is well suited for a damage race team. The counters are not. Like last year I had to put on some specific equipment to help. Two characters got Flame Rings which allowed them to take no damage from Twintania’s fire and ice attacks. They eventually bit the dust though. The other two got Reflect Rings to reflect many of the boss’s attacks. That’s what allowed them to survive long enough to win.

Boss: Necrophobe – The boss starts with four barriers that protect it from harm. The barriers will launch a barrage of powerful spells off themselves (they all have Reflect) and out-damage-race you. They are not immune to petrification which Black Magic can inflict. Last year it took several tries to petrify the barriers fast enough to survive. This year, Haste and having four characters slinging Break spells made a significant difference.

Final Boss

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First, a review of the boss. The first form can be annoying with several attacks that can OHKO a character. Of particular note is White Hole which is instant death and petrification. However, a lack of party attacks and not having that much HP makes it an annoyance compared to the second form: Neo Exdeath (NED for short).

To review, NED has four pieces which each have their own HP and attacks. Some of these attacks are things like Vacuum Wave (high physical damage, KO to anyone not at full HP), and Flare (OHKO on any of my team) which are plenty dangerous. But the true danger of NED is its super attacks: Almagest (full party attack that’s an instant Game Over for this party) and Grand Cross (inflicts a random assortment of status ailments and will generally inflict enough of the bad ones to screw you over). Both super attacks require charge up time with Almagest signaled by NED shaking and Grand Cross heralded by the famous line, “The laws of the universe mean nothing!”

My strategy was this. I caught some monsters that cast Breath Wing (full target attack that does 25% of target’s max HP). Breath Wing hits all of NED for 9,999 each due to the damage limit. I didn’t have Catch learned on everyone but I could put it on three people for almost 30,000 damage there (each piece has 50,000 – 60,000 HP). After that I figured I’d use Haste and Flare or boosted -aga spells focused on the two super-attack-users.

My strategy was going brilliantly on the first try. I burned through the Almagest piece and started working on the Grand Cross one. Then he cast Almagest anyway. What the? I figured I must have misremembered which piece used Almagest. I later found I had killed an inconsequential piece.

On the second try I got Grand Crossed. One person killed off, one confused, one in sleep, all in low health. I tried to recover but NED killed off the one person that could still act normally right away and it was over after that.

It was time to rethink the strategy. I knew from last year that there is some scripting involving the super attacks. Given enough time one of them will get charged up. However, if you lower a super-piece to a certain HP level it will just start charging. That’s what I was doing: by unleashing Breath Wing immediately I was provoking both super pieces and then was unable to finish both in time.

This time I kept Breath Wing in reserve. I hit the Almagest piece with my best, sustainable, one-target spells. Then as soon as I saw NED shake I cried havoc and let slip the dogs of war. The Almagest piece was eliminated before it could unleash it. Then NED started charging Grand Cross. Breath Wing left it weak enough for my team to take it out before it could finish. The worst was over.

Last year the still-dangerous attacks of the rest of NED almost finished me off. This year, Haste and not having a Berserker meant I could toss around some Elixirs and Phoenix Downs and still have actions for offense. And, as covered, that offense was potent. I made sure the spread out the damage as the last piece left of NED gets to use all super attacks and Meteor. One piece went down and two attacks later NED was completely finished.

Conclusion

We already knew Black Mage was powerful. Black Mage with Time Mage solves most of the game. Next year I’m definitely going to go without Black Mage for variety’s sake. In fact, it occurred to me that all three of my fiesta runs have been dominated by spellcasters (and Chemist in 2015). Magic is indeed a powerful beast in FF5. Indeed, I’ve only had one class that could equip heavy armor (Berserker last year).

On that note, I may try a no-750 run. No-750 is a modifier that gets applied to a run where you can’t use any class that can equip rods (the most abusable rods, the elemental rods, cost 750 gil each, hence the name). No-750 also bans classes like the rod jobs (pretty much other mages like White Mage). This leaves pretty much only the physical classes. No Black Mage. No Time Mage. No White Mage. No Red Mage. No Chemist. After relying so much on magic it will be an interesting and likely challenging change.

Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past – 2nd Randomizer Run

Dungeon Order

  1. Hyrule Castle (Intro)
  2. Desert Palace (Crystal) – Started
  3. Tower of Hera (Crystal)
  4. Desert Palace (Crystal) – Finished
  5. Hyrule Tower (Agahnim)
  6. Eastern Palace (Crystal) – Started
  7. Misery Mire (Crystal)
  8. Eastern Palace (Crystal) – Finished
  9. Skull Woods (Crystal)
  10. Ice Palace (Pendant)
  11. Palace of Darkness (Pendant)
  12. Swamp Palace (Crystal)
  13. Thieves’ Hideout (Pendant)
  14. Turtle Rock (Crystal)
  15. Ganon’s Tower (Endgame)

Run Summary

I had a bit less luck on this run. Smight’s phrase, “After the village you feel like you’re swimming in items but you’re really not,” applied here. The village had much better goodies than the first run. Hammer, Flippers, and the Magic Mirror were all found there. The Bug Catching Kid was apparently deemed trustworthy of keeping the Master Sword on this run. Yet I soon realized that most of this great stuff required other stuff to be made useful. Most notably, the Power Gloves.

Normally I would have what was needed for Hyrule Tower. I went there but was quickly stuck when I came across a pitch black room. Apparently an update was made to the Randomizer where now even Light World rooms that are dark require the Lamp to see at all. This makes the Lamp a lot more important and I didn’t have that yet either.

While wondering I saw the Flute on a cliff in the desert. I had to go through half the Desert Palace to get to it. With this I could get to Death Mountain and get more items. I retrieved some items and finished the Tower of Hera, which had the Power Gloves. With that I was able to get more chests on the mountain. But I still couldn’t do any more dungeons.

I was already running out of places to look. I found a bunch of 20-rupee chests early on. I think I only found one 50-rupee and none above that. After the mountain I had just enough money to buy King Zora’s item.

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For once King Zora sells a key item

With the Lamp I could finish some dungeons. I finished the Desert Palace. I then foolishly did Hyrule Tower thinking the DW portal it unlocked would lead to a bunch of items. However, I didn’t have the Moon Pearl. Bunny Link can do nothing, not even open chests. I was really missing the Moon Pearl. I found the Bow but couldn’t reach it without the Pearl. I went to the Eastern Palace though I couldn’t get to the boss without the Bow. I almost cleared out the dungeon and no Pearl. I had no idea where else I could look. Then the very last chest had the Pearl. Clutch Pearl!

Now that wealth of items I had came in handy. I could do a bunch of dungeons. I found the Titan’s Mitt quickly. I cleared out most of the DW and some dungeons before running out of what I needed again.

I was missing the Hookshot, Ice Rod (needed for the boss of Turtle Rock, a required dungeon), and the Silver Arrows again. I went to do pendant dungeons to look for items. I forgot that the Hookshot is needed for some of Ice Palace and did that first. I was able to finish it but not get all the items. Dark Palace was far better and I should have gone there first. More treasures and not as tough. Found the Hookshot there. That let me finish the Swamp Palace. Just one required dungeon left.

I did the Thieve’s Hideout and went to the Pedestal but nothing came of those spots. I decided to go to Turtle Rock anyway since between the dungeon and its surroundings there are a ton of items. If I was a speed-runner I would have just gone there after the Dark Palace and taken the risk that the Ice Rod was there. I think there are about a dozen items in that area. Sure enough, the Ice Rod was in Turtle Rock along with the Silver Arrows.

I had everything I needed at that point and was conveniently right next to Ganon’s Tower. Besides the Mirror Shield I had pretty much all the items so there wasn’t much in Ganon’s Tower besides a bunch of health and capacity upgrades.

Conclusion

Thus did my second run come to a close. This one was quite a bit more open once I was able to escape the Light World. It was a lot of fun playing these randomizer seeds and this will likely be my preferred way to play the game from here on out.

For now, I’m going to take a break from randomizer runs. I’m in the middle of the Final Fantasy 5 Four Job Fiesta and there’s still a Tecmo Super Bowl 2017 season to finish.

This does give me the urge to play A Link Between Worlds again and this time randomly determine which order to get items and do dungeons in.

Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past – 1st Randomizer Run

Introduction

Sometimes non-gamers (and even gamers) ask me why I like watching Let’s Plays or people streaming games. Here’s a reason: sometimes they reveal new and awesome ways to play old ganes. I learned about the FF5 Fiesta like this and now randomizers. Specifically the A Link to the Past randomizer.

The randomizer randomizes the set chests in the game making ALttP into a sort of roguelike that is different every time you play. The Quake Medallion might be in the first chest. The Master Sword Pedastal may have $20 instead of the Sword of Evil’s Bane.

Wouldn’t That Make the Game Impossible?

The first question asked by myself and anyone watching or hearing about the randomizer. The answer is no. ALttP with its wide open gameplay holds up well to a randomizer. Further, the person who made it did a good job of avoiding lockouts. It seems like they even somehow managed to avoid complicated lockouts. E.g. To get to the top of Death Mountain you need (Gloves or Flute) and ((Mirror) or (Hookshot and Hammer)). You could find any of those items at the peak but you’ll never find yourself locked because you can’t complete a combo.

One common scenario is to get to the Dark World without the Mirror to return. This is impossible base game and would result in a lock in base game. To account for this the randomizer will spawn you in the Light World if you save and quit in the DW. The base game would spawn you in whatever world you saved in. This was especially good for my first randomizer run where I went the whole game without the Mirror (usually found about 1/4 of the way through). I found it in Ganon’s Tower.

Winning Condition

You can change the winning condition but both myself and the runs I’ve seen prefer beating Ganon like normal. That said, the dungeon plot items are randomized so you likely won’t have to beat every dungeon. To beat Ganon you need to beat Ganon’s Tower. To get in the tower you need the seven crystals. You can check the world map to see which dungeons are now crystal dungeons.

Dungeons

Dungeons are different too. Items in the dungeon are randomized. A chest that had a key may now have the compass or vice versa. The big chest may have a small key in it. What about non-dungeon items? Each dungeon has the same amount of non-dungeon items though which chests have those items is random.

Also, it’s very unlikely a dungeon’s original big prize will be there. Since most dungeons require use of that item in the second half of the dungeon you’ll want to try to go in with that item. E.g. The Palace of Darkness in base game has the Hammer. The path to the boss requires the Hammer. In the randomizer you’ll want to try to get the Hammer before going since it probably won’t be inside (though it still could be).

This makes the randomizer feel a lot like A Link Between Worlds in the sense that you want to come to the dungeon with its main item already as opposed to finding it in the dungeon.

Basic Flow

The intro is still required. After that is Kakariko Village which will direct the rest of the run. The village has a lot of chests that only require Bombs or nothing. Base game they had stuff like rupees and heart pieces. In a randomizer you’ll usually find some major items like the Hookshot and Bow around. That said, no matter how much good stuff you get it’s never enough. Smight, the streamer I’ve beem watching put it well: “After the village you feel like you’re swimming in items but you’re really not.”

Overworld exploration is also greatly emphasized. There are many minor caves with multiple chests that could now have fabulous prizes. These overworld chests are easier to get to and have a denser concentration of items than dungeons. Rooms that used to have five chests totalling $100 are now very exciting.

Being able to get to and explore the Dark World is also key. It has seven dungeons, Ganon’s Tower, and some more chests. This makes items like the Hammer, Hookshot, Moon Pearl (prevent the DW power from turning you into a defenseless bunny), and Gloves crucial as they are used heavily in the DW.

Usual Dungeon Orders

For reference, here are two orders for the base game. First is the game’s recommended order and second is the order I usually take.

Game Order

  1. Hyrule Castle (Intro)
  2. Eastern Palace (Pendant)
  3. Desert Palace (Pendant)
  4. Tower of Hera (Pendant)
  5. Hyrule Tower (Agahnim)
  6. Palace of Darkness (Crystal)
  7. Swamp Palace (Crystal)
  8. Skull Woods (Crystal)
  9. Thieves’ Hideout (Crystal)
  10. Ice Palace (Crystal)
  11. Misery Mire (Crystal)
  12. Turtle Rock (Crystal)
  13. Ganon’s Tower (Endgame)

My Order

  1. Hyrule Castle (Intro)
  2. Eastern Palace (Pendant)
  3. Desert Palace (Pendant)
  4. Tower of Hera (Pendant)
  5. Hyrule Tower (Agahnim)
  6. Palace of Darkness (Crystal)
  7. Thieves’ Hideout (Crystal)
  8. Swamp Palace (Crystal)
  9. Skull Woods (Crystal)
  10. Misery Mire (Crystal)
  11. Ice Palace (Crystal)
  12. Turtle Rock (Crystal)
  13. Ganon’s Tower (Endgame)

First Run

  1. Hyrule Castle (Intro)
  2. Hyrule Tower (Agahnim)
  3. Eastern Palace (Crystal)
  4. Palace of Darkness (Crystal)
  5. Thieves’ Hideout (Crystal)
  6. Skull Woods (Crystal)
  7. Misery Mire (Crystal)
  8. Tower of Hera (Pendant)
  9. Turtle Rock (Pendant) – Didn’t finish
  10. Ice Palace (Crystal)
  11. Desert Palace (Crystal)
  12. Ganon’s Tower (Endgame)
  13. Turtle Rock cont. (Pendant)
  14. Swamp Palace (Pendant)
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Agahnim would later reflect that he should’ve put a heavier guard on a legendary sword of good.

The intro dungeon had something very intriguing from the start: the Master Sword. Immediately my mind jumped at possibilities. I didn’t know if Agahnim would be required yet but I wanted to fight him ASAP. I wanted to bring Zelda but apparently even after breaking the seal the door is locked until you drop Zelda off. After that, the Tower and Agahnim are easy. I already had a way to the Dark World but was defenseless there.

The village was pretty disappointing. Bright side was Link was ready for combat with early Master Sword, early Blue Mail (damage reduction), and the Bow. Bad news is I got no path opening items. The Bow made it possible to finish the Eastern Palace making me visit it really early like in the base game.

After that I was already stuck. I couldn’t finish any other dungeons. I was missing the Gloves for a lot of places. I got the Moon Pearl near the Eastern Palace and with the gate opened by Agahnim’s defeat I could at least reach the Palace of Darkness. I figured I’d go there and hope for items that would unlock other stuff. Got very lucky; both the Hammer and the Lamp, the remaining items needed for the Palace. I was then able to finish the dungeon. Beating the boss gave the Red Mail for even more damage reduction.

I had found the Hookshot earlier and with the Hammer could now access much of the DW. Thieves’ Town had the Gloves I wanted so much. I knocked off the two dungeons in that area.

Around this time I grew to miss the Mirror. I counted about six treasures I could use the Mirror to reach. I couldn’t go to any more required dungeons. I went near Misery Mire and got lucky again: the Mire required Quake and I found Quake nearby. Then I was stuck again. I went to the Tower of Hera which ended up being useless.

Next stop was Turtle Rock. I didn’t have the Ice Rod which is needed for the boss but could do the rest. I hadn’t gotten a sword upgrade since the very beginning and it started biting me here. Missing the Mirror Shield had me getting pelted by lasers. However, TR has a ton of chests. I found the Flippers I needed to advance and left. Thank goodness for all the defense and health I had.

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I had everything I needed after that…except the Silver Arrows to beat Ganon. I went to his tower and finally found the Mirror there and a sword upgrade. Sure enough, the Mirror led to the Silver Arrows, in a place in the middle of Turtle Rock.

I did all remaining optional dungeons and then finished the run. The last sword upgrade and Ether was in the Swamp Palace.

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Next Randomizer Post

I plan to do at least one more randomizer run but I’ll split that into another post.

Tecmo Super Bowl 2017

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Introduction

Tecmo Super Bowl was originally released for the NES in 1991 and covered the 1991-92 NFL season. It was one of the first video games to not only let you play games but to feature rosters based on NFL teams and play through a season. It’s also quite simply the greatest football game ever made and possibly the greatest sports game ever made. We played this a lot as kids.

To this day I sometimes will watch real-life football and try to reimagine the plays in Tecmo-style.

2017…?

TSB maintains a cult following to this day. This includes some romhackers who update TSB with current day rosters and release it kind of like the annual Madden releases. The 2017 incarnation (which specifically is for the 2016-17 season) received some extra attention at the beginning of the season. I forget where I heard it mentioned but I do remember it getting mentioned outside of Tecmo fan sites.

I was tempted to bust out the NES and play the original TSB but I had never tried an updated TSB and decided to give this one a whirl.

Tecmo-isms

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A great part of Tecmo’s fun comes from the ways it displays the real game and at times deviates from it. One of Tecmo’s defining characteristics for me ever since I was a kid is the Tecmo Zig-Zag. Defensive players don’t get a cap on their max speed so given enough time the slowest lineman will eventually catch a Julio Jones. That said, busting a play wide open and running downfield with space isn’t uncommon either and the AI isn’t the greatest at chasing. Bottom line: you can still go yard by zig-zagging across the field. On a really long play you’ll have the entire defense chasing a single player who is zig-zagging.

Then you have what one Tecmo site called “popcorning.” When opposing players make contact they grapple. If one is the player the player mashes buttons to win the grapple. Sometimes winning just means the opposing player gets put on the ground but other times the opponent will get thrown away and will bounce on the ground like a piece of popcorn.

And how about the little cutscenes? Randomly when a play is made you’ll see a little cutscene with much more detail. Receiver catches ball while covered? You may see a cutscene of the ball fly over the defender’s hands and into the receiver’s. Defender close to QB when he releases the ball? You’ll see a sweet scene of the QB delivering the ball as the defender flies at him. The most exciting, though also very rare, is a receiver and defender jumping for the ball. You may see a scene of the two leaping (more like Force Jumping) into the air, a pair of hands catch the ball, and then the catcher lands to reveal who caught it.

Speaking of cutscenes, I love the season milestone cutscenes. There are cutscenes for winning the division, ending the season, winning the conference, and then winning the Super Bowl leads to an extended cutscene and the credits. I don’t know if they’ve added them but when I played Madden and the NCAA football games there was little flash or flair for such things.

I know this post is going to be gushing a lot of nostalgia but, no joke, I think Tecmo has captured something that even today’s games have missed. The cutscenes, the sprites, the flair, all do a great job capturing the fun of the game. The realistic games always feel a bit stiff and, as Al often points out, the lingering bits of unrealisticness cuts into the feeling. Even when I see the commercials for the newest games and I see animated players jumping up and down celebrating it feels a tad robotic.

The 2016-17 Tecmo Falcons

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One thing to note: in a few areas it’s obvious this was coded back in September when the season was beginning as opposed to its end. For instance, Matt Ryan seems pretty average in the game as opposed to his real-life MVP campaign. This is likely due to him coming off one of the worst years of his career.

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Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman are both weapons on offense as expected. Julio will burn defenders and sprint downfield until the CPU gets some major boosts. Freeman isn’t the fastest but is still a quality RB. Patrick DiMarco gets a play in the default playbook and is a surprisingly good option. Obviously not fast but he can popcorn defenders.

Tevin Coleman has not been treated well by 2017 Tecmo. His stats are based off his lackluster 2015-16 season and thus not terrible but not what you would expect from him after his 2016-17 campaign. The default lineup doesn’t have him as a starter (Freeman and DiMarco take the two RB slots). Finally, the default lineup has him as both kick returners and he has yet to survive and entire game without being injured. He’s been injured on three separate occasions.

Defense it’s harder to notice players since I only choose the same player over and over and there aren’t names or numbers to identify other defenders who make a play. Vic Beasley is far from the beast he became in the real season. Deion Jones is missing entirely. Keanu Neal is a good defender just as he was in real life.

Then there’s my favorite to pick, Desmond Trufant. I don’t think he’s quite as fast as Deion Sanders on the original Tecmo but he’s still pretty fast. I like being able to blaze around the field on defense and make it to spots. The drawback is he’s easily popcorned and it takes a lot button mashing to complete a tackle but if you can’t even get to the play those things wouldn’t matter.

The Season – 2016-17 Tecmo Falcons

Weeks 1-2 (Buccaneers and Raiders) – There was some rust to get rid of in these games. They ended up both being wins but there were late-game mistakes that made them closer than they should. Against the Bucs the Falcons were up 21. Then I made a dumb decision and threw a pass into triple coverage that got picked. That led to 7. Then the Bucs recovered and onside and took it for 7. After that I scored a 7 to seal the game. Against the Raiders I don’t remember making a huge mistake myself but the team helped them back into it with fumbles.

Week 3 (Saints)

Week3

Weeks 4 and 5 (Panthers and Broncos)

In real life having to take on the last two Super Bowl participants in back to back weeks was seen as a huge challenge. With the way Tecmo seasons work the early weeks tend to be easy no matter who you play. No matter how good the defense if they call the wrong defense they’ll either leave everyone open for a pass or tons or room on a run. Get some room for the Tecmo zig-zag and chances to break big plays are plentiful. Defense can be trickier but the CPU will usually mess up on its own enough times to give you some stops.

Thus, having to play these teams early is an advantage in a Tecmo season. Not much noteworthy happened in these games; the Falcons coasted to victory.

Weeks 6 and 7 (Seahawks and Chargers)

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Patrick DiMarco celebrates a crucial TD against the Seahawks

This is around where I started seeing the CPU get a boost. I’m not sure on the specifics but I know Tecmo gives CPU teams a boost as the season goes on and I think it may be tied to your record too. Anyway, from this point on it wasn’t smooth sailing. Wins had to be ground out.

I could no longer walk all over the CPU on offense. The CPU will now suspiciously always pick a defensive play that puts them in good position. No more pass plays with three wide open guys or running plays where half the field is wide open. On offense, the CPU would get at least one player that could run with cheetah-like speed which meant one missed tackle and they could go yard. For the Seahawks this was Thomas Rawls and Russell Wilson. Wilson is known for his speed and elusiveness but I didn’t hear of Rawls ever having that same reputation. The Chargers burned me a couple times with Melvin Gordon. Can’t just always play run either because opposing QBs of all calibers start completing passes even when the guy is covered (such passes usually are incomplete).

Week 8 (Packers)

Damn if Green Bay wasn’t on full cheat code mode for the whole first half. First, the Falcons fumbled the ball away twice on long gains which kept our first half score down to 7. Second, GB could do just about whatever they wanted on offense. Rodgers completed his first four or five passes and each one had at least one defender blanketing the receiver. Lacy and Rodgers were both speed demons when running and even FB Ripkowski was fast enough to outrun the defenders for a bit. It would have been 21-7 at half but finally a would-be TD pass fell incomplete late at kept it to 17-7.

Things were more tame in the second half. Offensive drives still had to be ground out slowly (for Tecmo, that is) but at least my guys didn’t cough it up again. I also began to realize that if anyone’s covered I don’t have much choice but to have Ryan scramble. He got a crucial TD on one such scramble. Meanwhile, the GB offense was more mortal and Rodgers even threw a pick into the endzone when they were about to pull away again. The Falcons scored the go-ahead TD with little time left.

GB had one last chance to win late. Their final play was a Rodgers boot-leg run. With Rodgers’ boosted speed I knew if I got over-aggressive I could get taken out and he’d go yard. I played prevent. On some running plays two blockers will always chase after the player. Thus, I ended up being decoy to keep those guys away from defenders. This led to the humorous picture of Rodgers running downfield for a last minute score before being stopped short by a swarm of Falcons as Trufant ran around on the other side of the field trying to avoid two Packer linemen.

Week 9-13 (Buccaneers, Cardinals, Eagles, Chiefs)

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Very common in the early weeks, almost non-existent in late weeks

Mid to late season boosts for the CPU were in full swing here. Opposing QBs of any caliber would complete at least 50% of their passes into coverage. Space on offense became more and more of a myth and grinding victories were all that were left. A rushing attack that was consistently getting 200 yards a game dwindled and dwindled to well under 100 as Freeman would have to dodge at least one defender at the line of scrimmage with two or more soon to follow.

Ridiculous BS was on the rise too. At least twice over this stretch I got what should have been a crucial third down stop only for the ball carrier to fumble to ball forward. The ball bounced straight to an opponent who immediately picked it up (usually rare in Tecmo) and, since all defenders had been diving for the ball, would run for at least 20 more yards. One time this happened with the ball bouncing into a crowd of Falcons and one opponent and still that opponent got the ball and made it out of the dog pile.

I should have lost at least two of these games but apparently BS goes both ways as in two of them the opponents committed a late turnover to help me to victory. After Week 13 the Falcons won the NFC South.

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Weeks 14-15 (Rams and 49ers)

Perfect season was broken here. The CPU boosts finally added up and led to some losses. While both these teams were pretty terrible in real life the Rams would end up winning the NFC West (yes, over the Seahawks). The Rams destroyed me. Gurley ran with blazing speed, leaving flame-trails in his wake. On offense there were never open receivers and Freeman got swarmed behind the line time and time again. Matt Ryan was my leading rusher with about a dozen yards.

The game against the 49ers was much closer but still a loss. Again, just could not get anything going on offense. At one point I had to just ditch the run because getting positive yardage was a rarity at this point. Not sure what I need to do differently there. The pass wasn’t much more effective either. I just couldn’t put up points.

Weeks 16-17 (Panthers and Saints)

Offense was still a huge struggle. I could get some stops on defense though sometimes the game would force a score with successive completions in double or triple coverage. Rushing was still a myth and passes pretty much everyone was always covered. In both games it got to the point where all I could do was send Julio long and lob it up to him. This was surprisingly effective and led to a score in both games, including the winning score against the Panthers. The Saints managed enough cheap completions on their own combined with two huge drops by Falcon receivers and Ryan missing a wide open guy for what may have been a TD to cause me to drop the season finale.

The Rest of the League

I watched some COM vs. COM games while going through the season as well as monitoring the standings. I think I saw every team at least once. As expected QBs like Rodgers and Brady could zip the ball around and would routinely complete passes in coverage. Guys like Wilson would scramble and bootleg as well as throw. A number of RBs stuck out as being good. Jamaal Charles seemed like the next incarnation of Bo Jackson or Barry Sanders. He was wicked fast so fast it almost hurt him. The Chiefs had sweeps in their playbook. Charles was so fast that he would almost run out of bounds before getting the pitch. I remember Barry Sanders in the original was so fast that if he was in Excellent condition he would run out of bounds if you ran a sweep to the close side of the field.

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COM vs. COM games were not kind to QBs

Lots of teams seemed to have vicious d-lines. It was common to see defenders popcorn their blocker immediately and wreak havoc on the QB. In one game the defender was so fast of the edge that the blocker consistently missed entirely. This wasn’t unheard of in the original but I swear it seemed much more common.

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In the league, the Cowboys ended with the same record they had in real life which surprised me since they were terrible the year before. I know sports games know not to have each team be exactly the same for next year’s edition but I would have thought the Cowboys to be wildcard at best. The rest of the NFC East was garbage and the Cowboys clinched the division in Week 11.

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The Cowboys and Rams face off in a match of NFC juggernauts

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Something about this picture doesn’t look right…

The rest of the NFC turned out little like real life. The Rams went on to be the 3-seed while the Seahawks didn’t make the playoffs. Todd Gurley was a stud RB every time I saw him. The Packers seemed like a great team whenever I watched but struggled in SKP games and would also miss the playoffs. The AFC was pretty similar to real life with the Broncos making it while the Raiders struggled and the Bengals making it while the Dolphins were left out. Andrew Luck oscillated between garbage and good QB. The Jaguars came out on a fast start, blowing out their first two opponents. The Patriots ended as the one-seed but the Jags hung on for a two-seed just like they obviously did in real life.

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The NFC ended in an exciting dog-fight with the Saints taking the 5-seed at 10-6 and four other teams tied at 9-7. The Cards ended up snagging the 6-spot.

Next Tecmo Post

Playoffs

Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King (3DS) – Post 4

***** ENDGAME AND ENDING SPOILERS AHEAD *****

Added Outfits

In the original PS2 version there were few alternate outfits for the PCs. Jessica had some fanservicey outfits and the Guv had one (see below). For the 3DS they added some new outfits for all the characters. I didn’t see most of them. One I did see is if you put all the Metal King armor pieces (really powerful endgame armor in any DQ game of which some pieces can be equipped by everyone) on the Guv. It’s not bad though the Guv’s other outfit is much better in my opinion.

MetalKingArmor

Dungeons and Bosses

New 3DS Dungeon: Altar of Wroth – This dungeon and the endgame and postgame dungeons are filled with enemies that take a bunch of punishment and can dish out powerful attacks. Some of these enemies are also found in the Black Citadel, the final story dungeon. Of particular note are the treasures in here. In the PS2 version some things like the Liquid Metal Sword and the Conqueror’s Axe (strongest axe) you could only get one of. However, these things could either be equipped by multiple people or used in the Alchemy Pot. The Altar of Wroth gives copies of these things.

You will pay a price for them though. Many of these treasures are in a large poisonous swamp with plenty of distance between each treasure and monsters spawning all over. Poisonous swamps at this point would normally be little problem but this one is red and deals 5 HP every couple steps. That adds up very fast and leads to this swamp being incredibly rude.

Juggerwroth

Juggerwroth

New 3DS Boss: Juggerwroth – Boss of the Altar of Wroth. The first phase is pretty trivial. When I beat it I said out loud, “Okay, that can’t be it.” Second phase is much more interesting. Strong physical attack including a punch that does damage and can paralyze with 100% success. A critical hit that can take out anyone not at full health. He also has some party hitting attacks. Marcello joins for this fight and will help out with offense and some healing. The biggest problem is the critical hit which can easily take someone out. Two critical hits can really leave the team in bad shape. The paralyze punch is also bad. Thankfully, the team had two casters of Kazing for bringing people back and Tingle for curing paralysis.

Final Dungeon: Black Citadel – As mentioned above this dungeon has plenty tough enemies. Special mention to the recolors of the rooster swordsmen. I love those enemies. I purposely engaged one and got quite a fight. Three showed up. Each gets two turns, intimidating scream (party-wide lose a turn with high chances), high attack power, Thin Air (high party-wide damage). They almost wiped my party. I had to resort to calling my monster teams to fight for me. On the next try I tried less straightforward tactics. DQ is known for having status ailments be actually useful though I always under-utilize them. Thus, I tried something out and found the rooster swordfights are very vulnerable to instant death. I love tactical details like that.

The Black Citadel also provides a great atmosphere for a final dungeon. At first it just looks like a grim castle. Go inside and you see vines like what Dhoulmagus conjured. The best part is when you get deep enough you come to what looks like a peaceful town. The town is a loop and there’s no alternate exit, or so it seems. Keep running around and the town becomes progressively more ruined and damaged. There are statues of the heroes that appear and as you run around the statues’ heads go missing. Then eventually you find the passage to Rhapthorne. Rhapthorne’s room looks appropriately demonic.

Final Boss: Rhapthorne

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Rhapthorne_Fight

First, the “arena” for this fight is awesome. The party stands on the back and wings of Godbird Empyrea as she flies around Rhapthorne, who is hovering high in the sky. During the round she hovers in front of Rhapthorne. If you choose melee actions your characters jump off Empyrea onto Rhapthorne’s chest to strike him. As you pick actions she flies around the Lord of Darkness. Some of Rhapthorne’s attacks, such as the Kaboom spell or striking the party (and Empyrea) with his giant arm, affect Empyrea’s flight and cause her to drop a bit. The appropriately named Great Battle in the Vast Sky that plays is also great.

The fight has two phases. First phase he’s invincible due to a shield and to break it you have to have your whole team pray to the Godbird Scepter at the same time for a round. This needs to be done seven times. Interesting switch up in objective since now the focus is mostly on defense and judging when you can survive a round of assault without healing or defending in the round. Seven times is pretty tedious though. Rhapthorne doesn’t go all out in this phase but can still cause some damage. Throwing the ball from his staff tends to be the worst since it’s basically two very strong physical attacks. If they hit the same person they’ll be left with little HP or down.

The second phase is the real fight. While not a pushover I never remembered this being that tough. Well Rhapthorne didn’t like my lack of respect. The ball throwing is still a strong attack. He has a bunch of party-wide attacks including smashing the party with his arm. He can use some statuses like putting someone to sleep. And of course, guaranteed two actions a turn. By far his worst attack was “raises his staff and calls the anger of the gods.” On the PS2 version this attack spread 5 hits randomly among the party. If all or four hit one person it could take them out. Maybe I got unlucky or maybe my memory failed me but this attack never failed to lead to a KO. It’d either KO someone outright or set them up to be KO’d by Rhapthorne’s next action.

MP management ended up being key. Angelo and the Guv were both very low on MP by the end of the fight. I had to judiciously balance group healing between Angelo’s Multiheal and the Guv’s Omniheal. For Kazing I’d have Jessica handle it if possible since her MP was not a problem. Even if she was still up this wasn’t always possible. Angelo, with the Meteorite Armband (boosts agility) was the only one fast enough to reliably go before Rhapthorne without being buffed by Accelerate. So if Jessica had just been brought back her agility wasn’t high enough to guarantee going before Rhapthorne.

It was a long and interesting fight, fitting for a final battle.

Postgame Dungeons: Dragovian Path and Heavenly Dais

I remember the enemies being difficult in these two postgame dungeons and this time my memory was spot on. Pretty much everything in these two areas has tons of HP and can mess you up in some way. The trolls seem like breather enemies with only physical attacks until they start raining criticals which will take out anyone not at full health. The shadow enemies have the trait where any attack not boosted by tension does a lot less damage. So psyche up, right? Then you’ll have to survive at least one round of their assault which can include ice breath and a party-wide instant death move. One time that move took out three of my four characters.

The worst are the Belials. These guys are basically mini-bosses. Tons of HP, always take two actions each, can show up in large groups with other monsters, high physical attack, Kaboom to hit the whole party, and will psyche up to further boost their attacks. I thought they’d be vulnerable to statuses since fighting them normally is so tough but every status I tried on them failed to land. I ended up just resorting to calling my monster team half the time I fought these guys.

Postgame Boss: Dragovian Lord

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An actual dragon! Like Rhapthorne, I didn’t remember this guy being too bad but then he beat me on the first try. He tends to critical on his physicals and his criticals would OHKO anyone other than Yangus, and sometimes it would OHKO Yangus too. First try he took out Angelo and Jessica in the same round leaving me without a reliable way to bring people back. That’s really the main problem with him. He has some other stuff such as a breath weapon but anytime he does something other than get a critical is a relief.

Postgame Bosses: Dragovian Trials – I didn’t do these this time around but I did on a past save. This was the majority of the PS2’s postgame. You refight the Dragovian Lord who takes on a different color with different attacks each time. I think one focused on status ailments, one on breath attacks, etc. Each form has those criticals strong enough to OHKO which tended to be the main threat. One form got to act three times and would pretty much only attack, largely regarded as the toughest form. The final trial has you go through all previous dragon phases (with less HP each) before fighting the final, ultimate form. It was one heck of an endurance test. Since physical attacks are the main threat and defense can’t really save you suddenly the best armor becomes that which boosts your evasion rate.

Conclusions and Difficulty Rating

The 3DS is Dragon Quest 8 Mobile in every sense I can think of. I would say the better experience is still the PS2 as I wasn’t wowed by the added dungeon or endings and am still a bit bummed about the music downgrade. I did like Red and Morrie and with them the step down from the PS2 is minimal. The next time I play DQ8 it may be on the 3DS anyway since it’s tough to find long blocks of time to play these days and the 3DS is much more friendly to just picking it up, playing for a bit, then putting it down without needing to track down a save point.

For difficulty, the PS2 DQ8 got 34.25, 48th out of 146, next to games like Metroid Prime 1, Mega Man X4, the original Super Mario Bros., and Mega Man X. The 3DS version got 10.98, 94th out of 146, next to games like DQ7 (3DS), DQ4 (DS), Final Fantasy X, and Zelda: Skyward Sword. That’s quite the difference. I expected it to be lower but not that much lower. In hindsight, I suppose they made a lot of changes to cut down the difference. Fights can now be dodged, level ups fully heal the character (forgot the PS2 didn’t have that), easier saving options, etc. all contributed to the lower difficulty. That said, there was still some tough spots as is typical of a DQ.

***** PLOT SECTION *****

3DS Added Scenes

The 3DS version added some scenes that the PS2 version didn’t have. One involves Dhoulmagus. If you go talk to Kalderasha he’ll pull up a vision of Dhoulmagus in his crystal ball from just before Dhoulmagus took the scepter. Dhoulmagus had faithfully served Master Rylus as Rylus’s apprentice for years. However, Rylus had refused to teach Dhoulmagus any magic and treated him like a butler. After all this time Dhoulmagus grew frustrated. One day he snuck a look at one of Rylus’s tomes which is how he learned about the scepter of Trodain. After being scolded by Rylus he ran to Trodain. He went as a jester and used what little magic he knew to put on a show. Then that night he put the guards to sleep and that’s when he took the scepter.

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Dhoulmagus, before grabbing the scepter, downtrodden due to his job

Tragically, Rylus had been working on a potion to untap Dhoulmagus’s locked magical potential. By the time he finishes Dhoulmagus had the scepter and was under Rhapthorne’s murderous influence. Dhoulmagus returned to Rylus, killed him, and burned his house down. After seeing the vision Trode reflects that although Dhoulmagus was still wrong to do what he did Rylus is also to blame for having treated his apprentice so carelessly.

The other added scene I saw was when the team was put into Purgatory Island. The Guv has a dream of when he first met Princess Medea. They were kids and Medea had just lost her mother. She was very depressed and even refused to eat. King Trode and the others were very worried about her but couldn’t cheer her up. She wandered into the forest and saw a curious mouse: Munchie. Munchie led her to the Guv who was unconscious nearby. Medea went back to the castle and asked her father for help. She stayed by the Guv’s side until he woke up.

The Altar of Wroth

As mentioned above the Altar of Wroth was added to the 3DS. With it are some new scenes. The group learns of a powerful servant of Rhapthorne’s called the Juggerwroth. The sages fought Juggerwroth right after sealing Rhapthorne. They were unable to beat it so they had to seal Juggerwroth too. Now Juggerwroth is also breaking free.

The heroes confront the Juggerwroth. After a brief fight Juggerwroth uses power to paralyze the whole team, leaving them at his mercy. Before he can destroy them someone comes in to undo the spell. It’s Marcello! He appears to pay off the debt he owes Angelo for saving his life. Together, the group is able to defeat Juggerwroth. Marcello then leaves again. Though he acts cold towards Angelo there’s a hint that perhaps Marcello is finally learning to accept Angelo.

Ultimately, I wasn’t a huge fan of this addition. It’s not too intrusive so I’m not that ticked about it but I thought it was better to leave things as they were: Marcello unable to let go of his hate even after Angelo saves him. In a way, Angelo’s revenge on Marcello was to save his life, continuing to make an effort to be a brother when Marcello had always hated him. This addition seems like clear fanservice: many fans didn’t like how Marcello disappears and there’s a lot of fanfiction out there to add an epilogue to the Angelo-Marcello storyline.

The Final Battles

When we left off Rhapthorne was now fully unsealed and he’s now in his Black Citadel floating in the sky. The heroes go there for the final confrontation. Inside they find documents written by Rhapthorne’s servants about his first try at world domination. Rhapthorne planned to become rule of the Worlds of Light and Darkness by merging the two worlds so he could bring all his forces from the Dark World to conquer the Light World. He built the Black Citadel to amplify his power for this purpose. The records also mention some group called the Dragovians. They feared the Dragovians more than Empyrea and the humans yet the Dragovians had been near wiped out in the past and were nowhere to be found.

The heroes find and confront Rhapthorne, who doesn’t look as imposing as one would expect. They defeat him. The Black Citadel starts to fall apart. They escape by turning into Empyrea’s son through the Godbird Soulstone. However, a portal opens to the dark world and monsters flood out. Empyrea’s son is overwhelmed by them but is saved (and thus also the heroes) by Empyrea. With the portal open Empyrea could finally leave the Dark World. Meanwhile, Rhapthorne has consumed the Black Citadel to assume a massive final form. He also conjures up a dark shield to make him invincible.

Empyrea speaks with the heroes and tells them they need the power of the seven sages to break the seal. The sages’ souls have returned to the world in places important to them in the form of orbs. Empyrea tells the heroes to search for the orbs and gives them the Echo Flute, which will echo when an orb is nearby. The orbs are all found where the sage’s heir died. Thus, you get a quick tour around the world to remember all those killed by Rhapthorne. It’s a cool idea in theory and the orbs and Echo Flute are a great callback to Dragon Quest 3 which had a very similar quest. However, the execution feels a bit tacked on and it’s tedious just warping around the world and running to where each heir was killed.

The heroes return with the orbs to Empyrea. Empyrea had herself just searched for and found something: the scepter. The group responds with alarm but Empyrea tells them that now without Rhapthrone’s soul the scepter is an instrument of good. It was made by Empyrea and the seven sages and the sages named it the Godbird Scepter. It’ll be needed to break Rhapthorne’s shield. She then asks if the heroes are ready. As she explains how to break the shield she says a line that makes me chuckle every time I hear it: “The lord of darkness will engage you in mortal combat.”

The heroes ride Empyrea who takes them to Rhapthorne. As she instructed, the heroes are able to break the shield by calling on the power of the sages through the Godbird Scepter. They engage Rhapthorne in one final battle and defeat him.

Ending

Empyrea takes the heroes back to Trodain where Trode and Medea, still cursed, wait. Empyrea assures them that the curse is weakening and will soon wear off. Empyrea then makes to leave as this world is no longer in danger and she is going to help other worlds. As she leaves she reveals her true name is Ramia; she’s the same bird that helped the heroes of DQ3 after they revived her using the orbs of that game. I really loved that little shout-out. Shortly after she leaves the curse on Trode, Medea, and Trodain is finally lifted. The castle is restored and its people able to move in their normal bodies again. Trode calls for a grand feast.

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Uncursed King Trode argues with Yangus, who maintains that Trode looks the same as he did cursed

Some months pass. The Guv is now captain of the palace guard. Yangus and Red are traveling the world finding and selling treasures. Jessica has moved back with her mom, who she has reconciled with. Angelo now takes in orphans to repay the kindness that Abbot Francisco showed him. Morrie continues to be owner of the Monster Arena. All are called together for a big job: escort Princess Medea to Savella Cathedral where she will be married to Prince Charmles. Yangus and Angelo both give their opinion that they can’t believe the wedding is still going to happen and encourage the Guv not to just blindly carry forward.

The group runs into Charmles after arriving. Charmles is still as horrible as ever and repeatedly insults the heroes as being unworthy to attend his wedding as Medea watches the scene in horror. That night, an enraged Angelo encourages the Guv to do something about this bad situation, saying he needs to protect Medea’s happiness as her bodyguard.

The next day Yangus helps the Guv break into the cathedral. Charmles immediately calls the guards. Then one appears with a message saying that Medea has disappeared. Charmles concludes that the only possibility is that the Guv kidnapped her and calls for the guards again. In the PS2 version the Guv retreats before being cornered. In the 3DS Morrie is in the temple as he’s the prestigious owner of the Monster Arena. He leaps to the Guv’s defense and covers his escape.

The Guv regroups with the other heroes. Angelo points out that Trode and Medea are surrounded by soldiers below. The Guv goes to help the royals while the rest cut off the templars that are in pursuit. After getting pushed around by templars all game it’s great to see the heroes beat them down easily.

The Guv finds Trode going all Yoda on some soldiers. Trode says he decided his daughter is more important than his country’s reputation and tells the Guv to take her away. Medea says she had resigned herself to the marriage but now knowing what Charmles is like she’d rather be a horse. She asks the Guv to take her away.

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The Guv and Medea flee the wedding

A new scene is added for the 3DS which can lead to an alternate ending. Medea thanks the Guv for saving her again but notes that she can’t expect him to always be there to save her. Thus, she releases the Guv from her service and urges him to do as he wishes. The player gets to determine what happens next. The Guv can choose to stay with Medea in which case the ending proceeds as it did on the PS2: the Guv and Medea return to Trodain and go on to live happily ever after. The other choice has the Guv leave. He meets up with Jessica and the two travel the world together. Apparently there were a lot of people calling for a Guv/Jessica ending after the original game.

Postgame: The Dragovians

I generally don’t care much for RPG postgames. There’s usually no story so motivation to do them is low. I really like how DQ8 did its postgame. The main story has been concluded well enough. But there are some loose ends and questions left. What is the Guv’s backstory? Why is he immune to curses? Why did King Clavius of Argonia react so weirdly upon first seeing the Guv? Who are these Dragovians mentioned in the books in the Black Citadel?

After going through the first postgame dungeon you’ll come upon a new settlement: the Dragovian Sanctuary. Munchie runs away upon arrival. Soon after the group meets a Dragovian named Chen Mui who shows them around. The Dragovians are people who can take on dragon form. Like any self-respecting fantasy race they have a troubled history with humans and many do not take kindly to the group. Some seem to recognize the Guv or have heard of him, somehow.

However, the sanctuary is in trouble. Their leader, the Lord of the Dragovians, decided they should further distance themselves from humans by permanently taking on dragon form. Normally, assuming dragon form requires too much energy which is why the Dragovians are often in human form. The Dragovian Lord undertook a ritual to get around this. It worked, somewhat. He’s now in dragon form permanently but his energy needs are sustained by him absorbing energy from his fellow Dragovians, who are now slowly dying. They tried to get him to transform back to human but the ritual also affected his mind, making him little more than an aggressive monster. The Dragovians are now in danger of dying out. The Dragovian Elders have no other option but to ask the human heroes to help them by subduing the Dragovian Lord.

The heroes find and defeat the Dragovian Lord. Defeating him transforms him back to human and restores his mind. The Dragovians are saved. Afterwards, Chen Mui reveals much of the Guv’s backstory.

Chen Mui had a daughter named Xia. She ventured into human lands and came across Prince Eltrio of Argonia, King Clavius’s now long lost brother. It was love at first sight. When Chen Mui learned of this he split them apart, thinking a human-Dragovian romance would lead only to sorrow. Eltrio left his kingdom behind to search for Xia. He found the path that led to the Dragovian Sanctuary but, on his own, succumbed to the monsters there just before making it. Xia was crushed. It also turned out she was already pregnant with Eltrio’s child. She gave birth to a healthy son but the strain of childbirth combined with her broken heart caused her to pull a Padme and die. That child was the Guv.

Chen Mui was devastated at how things played out and vowed to raise the Guv. However, the other Dragovians, while sympathetic to the tragedy, did not trust the half-human child. They wanted to exile the boy. Chen Mui argued furiously. The Dragovians have decision making skills like Ents and so the Guv was already several years old when they reached their decision: exile.

The Dragovians could not let this child give away their existence. They put a curse on him to wipe his memory of his early years. A side effect of this curse was that it would make him immune to all other curses. This is likely unintentional but this is also a good case of Storyline and Gameplay Integration. When any other character is cursed they can’t be inflicted with curse again. Thus, it’s not as though the Guv is immune to curses; he’s permanently cursed, just in a way that doesn’t affect him in battle.

Chen Mui could not let his grandson be sent alone into a strange world with no memory. Thus, he transformed himself into Munchie to watch over the Guv. He retransforms into Munchie to join the Guv further in his travels. He also gives the Guv an Argon Ring, the one Eltrio made with the argon heart he had obtained in his own Argonian initiation and given to Xia.

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The Guv wearing the Dragovian Armor

After finding out about the Guv’s lineage you can take the Dragovian Trials to gain the Dragovian gear. It’s very good stuff and getting all of it changes the Guv’s look, his only alternate outfit on the PS2 version. If you level grind to 65 (for reference, endgame levels are low 40’s and even the postgame can probably be finished around the high 50’s) the Guv learns Dragon Soul. It’s an attack that pierces defense and does a ton of damage though it also costs a lot of MP. The Guv turns into a dragon made of energy and bites and opponent.

Altered Ending

After getting the Argon Ring there is an altered ending. Beat Rhapthorne and the ending goes on as before up until after Charmles acts like a spoiled jerk. That night Angelo remembers the Argon Ring and urges the Guv to show it to King Clavius, wondering if the knowledge that he has a nephew will change Clavius’s mind about the marriage.

The Guv shows the ring to Clavius that night and tells him the story. Clavius is shocked but ultimately believes the tale in light of the evidence and information given to him by the Guv. Nevertheless, he cannot recognize the Guv’s claim as doing so would throw Argonia into turmoil. He regretfully asks the Guv to leave.

The next day Yangus helps the Guv break into the wedding like in the first ending. This time, Clavius steps up after Charmles calls the guards. Clavius has a change of heart and declares that the Guv should marry Princess Medea. Charmles throws a tantrum and Clavius humorously restrains him. After that, Trode and Medea enter. Medea is shocked to see the Guv waiting for her at the altar.

Outside, the other PCs look pissed that the wedding went forward. Then they see the Guv and Medea step out. The entire crowd is shocked. The other heroes start a cheer for the new couple. Upon returning to Trodain Trode remarks how strange it is that the Guv would have been prince of Argonia if things had been a bit different. And the Guv and Medea live happily ever after.

The 3DS has a Jessica version of the altered ending. The Guv still urges Clavius to reconsider the wedding and Clavius gets pissed at the Guv when he hears that the Guv doesn’t want to marry Medea himself. Nevertheless, he still ends up calling off the wedding the next day. Instead, Jessica enters in a wedding gown and Jessica and the Guv get married.