Shadowdawn Genesis‘s engine has been a constant reminder how complex a full RPG really is. AI tends to complicate things, especially when the player’s party is mostly computer-controlled like in action RPGs. Of course, there are a good number of hack-and-slash RPGs that avoid this problem by not having parties at all, and turn-based RPGs can avoid the problem by not allowing AI control of party members. But when you start doing real-time RPGs, there isn’t much choice but to let the computer do its thing.
I recently finished Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Sky, which is in itself a misleading claim since the game is practically impossible to truly “finish”. More accurately, I defeated the last boss of the initial main story, and am still playing the impressive post game scenario. Overall, this game is a gigantic throwback to one of the classics, Dragon Quest III, while still retaining the overhauls such as tension and alchemy introduced in VIII. There is no pre-assigned party in this game, and all decisions about how to proceed are entirely in your hands. The character outfit customization available in this game doesn’t quite rival the insane options available Resonance of Fate, but it’s more than enough, especially for a handheld game. I also enjoy the Final Fantasy XI-like vocation system with the six familiar base “jobs” and six advanced jobs you can unlock by completing quests, and being able to switch between them all freely (while mixing and matching skills learned, reminscent of FFV). What’s really an interesting parallel is the 1-to-1 matchup of the FFXI jobs to DQIX, with the Minstrel quite similar to the Red Mage in purpose and all others obvious matches. The post-game is dominated by a dungeon-crawler game-within-a-game with much harder bosses than the main story which is a fairly good diversion, and there’s several wrap up quest stories for the ones seen much earlier in the game. I have to admit, if I didn’t play on after the “ending”, I wouldn’t have been happy. It’s not that it didn’t end – it was actually pretty conclusive, it’s just that it was kind of a downer. But the post-game quickly has an answer for it, so keep that in mind if you give this game a shot. All in all, it isn’t quite my favorite Dragon Quest, but it’s a great handheld title – even moreso than the recent SNES ports – and that alone makes it a game I will probably play often for quite some time.
– Added the entire NPC Tactics submenu. The vanguard/support positions each have their own tactics lists, since the benefits of being in the so-called front or back row are much more distinct in this game than typical of even turn-based RPGs (I hate how my backrow characters in some games seem to ALWAYS get targeted). This took a good portion of the night. Another thing typical in most RPGs that is different in this game is that every character has their own attack or support mode, with their own unique set of abilities. This way the player isn’t forced to keep a character they may not like just because they are the only healer, but don’t get confused into thinking this system is similar to Final Fantasy either, where everyone has the chance to learn the same skills. Every character is completely unique in many ways…
– Changed some menu element designs. I’m still adjusting some of the overall graphics design, so this is probably ongoing. I still need to actually draw the action poses for all 8 characters (including Arashi) for the Status menu, which have to be the most definitive artwork yet.. hopefully good enough for the website.
– Starting the weekend off by finishing the character status menu once and for all: displaying party member skills. After this, I will be completely done with this particular menu, and the equipment menu has very little left to finish as well.
Thanks for stopping by, I’m going to really try to keep to my idea of updating daily, so hope you’ll read again tomorrow 🙂