Sunday, February 15, 2009

Episode 18 in the Works

Super Mario Bros, The Legend of Zelda, and Dragon Quest. Three titles that sent shock waves throughout the Japanese console gaming industry upon their release. The influence of those three games was pervasive in the mid to late 80s in ways that should be obvious to anyone who's been following Chrontendo so far. Still, outright copycats of those three titles didn't really emerged until May 1987.

It wouldn't be completely fair to describe Hao-Kun no Fushigina Tabi (reworked/retitled and released as Mystery Quest in the US) as a Mario clone. There are some definite gameplay and structural differences between the two games. But more than any other previous Famicom game, the world of Hao-Kun looks like the Mushroom Kingdom, with its building block structures and stone work castles.

Scrape away the Mario-esque surface and you have a decent fantasy land platformer underneath. As a slightly overlooked title, Hao-Kun is certainly an improvement over the awful platforming games being released by Bandai, Toei, and Takara at this time.

As for the woefully obscure and bizarrely titled Seiken Psycho Calibur, it is only noteworthy as the first Famicom game to rip-off Zelda in a completely blatant manner. I tip my hat to Imagineer for having the balls to copy Nintendo's enormous hit, though I wish they had managed to make a better game. There would be some entertaining Zelda clones released (Hudson's Neutopia comes to mind), but Seiken Psycho Calibur fails to entertain.

While not the first post-Dragon Quest JRPG for the Famicom, Hercules no Eikou is the first game to borrow the DQ formula lock, stock and barrel. Valkyrie and Esper Dream were action RPGs that sit midway between DQ and Zelda, while Deep Dungeon sat firmly in the tradition of western games like Wizardry. Hercules simply transposes DQ from a medieval fantasy world to that of ancient Greece. While some gameplay tweaks have been made, it is impossible to play Hercules without DQ coming to mind.

These three games are, of course, covered in Chrontendo Episode 18, which will be finished shortly. Also featured will be 12 games that are not clones of successful Nintendo/Enix titles, though we do have Deep Dungeon II, which is essentially a clone of the first Deep Dungeon game. Other oddities include a rare Nintendo/Konami collaboration (!) and a forgettable Adventure Island/Takahashi Meijin spin-off. Check back soon for more news.

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