Thursday, July 30, 2009

Episode 23 Not Late?

Yes, it appears that Chrontendo Episode 23 might just come out in a somewhat timely fashion. Fancy that. Keep your eyes peeled for a release in the next few days.

As mentioned last post, this episode is jam-packed with RPGs, most of which aren't particularly memorable, but one title really stands out. Not because it's a good game. No, just the opposite; it has a reputation as being one of the worst RPGs ever.

You might recall Black Bass, the fishing game from the idiotically named Hot-B. We covered it back in Chrontendo Episode 15 (coincidentally, an RPG heavy episode also featuring DQ II). Well, for reasons known only to themselves, Hot-B decided made an attempt at a wildly ambitious turn-based, futuristic RPG, Hoshi no Miru Hito. The strange thing about Hoshi no Miru Hito is that while it's certainly this episode's worst game from a gameplay and technical standpoint, I found myself drawn to it more than the better games. There is a certain trainwreck sort of appeal to the game.

















In the future, everything will be decorated with 1970's kitchen linoleum patterns

What exactly is wrong with Hoshi? Virtually everything you can possible imagine. From a graphical standpoint, the game is aggressively ugly. The tile based backgrounds are a riot of garish color schemes and bizarre geometrical patterns. The game is supposed to have a sci-fi setting, but there's very little to visually suggest that. When entering new area, its impossible to know exactly where you are supposed to be, since backgrounds don't really look like anything in particular. Inside or outside? In some sort futuristic laboratory or in some dilpadated industrial area? In a cavern or a in a man-made structure? You really can't tell.

Balance is another major issue. You can immediately encounter enemies with magic attacks powerful enough to kill you in a couple hits. Surviving long enough to level up a couple times is a matter of luck more than anything else. However, once you have leveled up a bit and purchased a decent weapon you'll find the enemies have become very easy to defeat. This would not normally be a problem, except that these same 5 or six enemies are the only ones you will encounter on the main overworld. This makes leveling absurdly slow and boring and doesn't prepare you for the tougher enemies found in the second area of the game. At that point, you find yourself facing enemies so strong you literally cannot inflict a single point of damage upon them. Its as if Final Fantasy took you straight from fighting Imps to Red Giants.

















Don't be fooled. You have around 800 HP.

Beyond this, there are countless silly little problems with Hoshi no Miru Hito. Some appear to be stupid technical bugs - such as the last digit of your hit points not being displayed while in battles. I.E., if you have 100 HP, it will show as 10 HP! The game also has a weird habit of warping you back to the starting point when you exit a town or dungeon. You have a four member party, but each character's inventory is completely separate and you cannot transfer weapons, armor or gold between characters. Some floors will do damage as you walk over them, but the game gives you no indication of this, undoubtedly resulting in surprise game overs for many players. And the battle menu requires that you select the order than you want your characters to attack in for every single battle, something that gets tiring very quickly. And in the original, unhacked Japanese version, your character moves jaw-droppingly slowly across the world map.

















Here your party bravely explores... some sort of... area.

While quite a few 8-bit RPGs suffer from frustrating and outdated gameplay mechanics, I've never encountered anything quite like Hoshi no Miru Hito. Presumably some of the quirks were deliberate, in an attempt to make the game more "challenging" or, at least, longer. Others can only be weird oversights or general incompetence on the part of the designers. Hoshi's unique place in the world of RPGs has earned it a bit of cult following, with an English translation with character movement sped up (used in Episode 23), a hack that improves the background graphics, and a fan created, completely reworked version for Windows. Quite impressive for a game this terrible.

2 comments:

Wow Gold said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
CRV said...

"...from the idiotically named Hot-B"

...which stands for "He is Over There, Because"...

Source