Wednesday, 19 October 2016

World Saved. Congrats, Cthulhu!

I barreled through Cthulhu Saves the World. It's a quick, light-hearted RPG, very similar to Breath of Death VII (not surprising, as this was their follow up game). Most of the systems are exactly the same as in that game. You take your party of adventurers through the world fighting evil and righting wrongs. I wish the battle system were a little more streamlined - I don't know if my poor Enter key will ever recover - but in general it works very well. You select the actions for your party, then they resolve in order of Agility rating. You fully recover your health after every battle, but only a small proportion of your magic points (depending on how fast you won the battle), so you can't just walk about spamming your most powerful techs and spells. It's a retro RPG, so graphics are the lovely old pixel variety. One difference here between this and BoD is that there's an insanity effect, so certain spells or attacks will make monsters insane, changing their graphic. Unfortunately, I didn't really notice any other difference. I think it was supposed to make some monsters stronger and some weaker - and obviously was a core part of the Cthulhu mythos - but it felt a bit like a wasted opportunity. Toward the end of the game I picked up a weapon that automatically turned every enemy insane at the beginning of each battle, but to be honest I didn't notice any difference between that and the regular battles. My other slight gripe is that dungeons felt a bit too long and difficult to navigate. It's s hard balance to get right - they're the meat of the game really, so if they were shorter then the whole game would be shorter, but they just got a bit frustrating. Confusing, same-textured dungeons full of random encounters are something that should have stayed in the retro days; we don't need to be reminded of them now. On the subject of random encounters, one thing that these games do, which I don't think I've ever seen before in an RPG, is have a fixed number of random encounters per map. So, once you've fought, say, 30 battles in a dungeon then you never have any more random battles. (You can still instigate a fight from the menu should you so desire.) This is a nice feature that saves a lot of hassle when you're lost in a maze. There are a couple of other nice features that I wish more games would emulate - first up, you never have to backtrack through a dungeon once you've finished it. You usually either automatically exit back to the last town as part of the story, or you can immediately teleport back to any town at any time. I wish some of the other games I've played had that! The other thing I really like is that when you gain a level you have a choice of two bonuses - usually different stats to raise, or spell variations, so there's always something to think about and it allows you to customise your characters that little bit more. So yeah, it's not a huge sprawling epic RPG, but it was never meant to be. It's a few hours good fun that knows when it's played out. All good. There is actually a New Game+ option to play through the whole thing again with different characters and different dialogue, but I just couldn't quite bring myself to do it. Onwards!

Next up on the randometer is...Sargon 5: World Class Chess! Ah well. I'll have a quick game tonight. Can't see this one taking too long, though. Aaannnddd...what can I say. It's a chess game. Looks like quite a good one, to be fair. Plays well and is easy to use. No frills to speak of (although I do like the Monty Python-style hand that reaches down to move the pieces), but that's not really what you need. The computer beat me fair and square after a decent game, and I don't really have the energy for a rematch. Next up on the randometer is... Super Noah's Ark 3D! Ah well, I suppose I was going to have to play through it one day! I've played the SNES version of this before - basically a biblical reskin of Wolfenstein - but not the PC version yet. Can't say I really enjoyed it that much, but hey. I might push on with more Fallout 2 before heading into this.

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