Roguelikes

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Thad
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Roguelikes

Postby Thad » Fri Feb 28, 2020 1:55 pm

I started Torneko's Big Adventure: Mystery Dungeon, because why the hell not.

I haven't finished the tutorial dungeon yet, for very Roguelike reasons: I made it to the bottom floor, blundered into a Wyvern, and the scroll I tried to use against it failed.

I like the presentation a lot; it's got the usual Toriyama designs with big old chunky sprites and a Sugiyama soundtrack (and fuck that guy, but I do enjoy the music of Dragon Quest).

It's too early to get a real bead on the gameplay. The tutorial dungeon doesn't have an exit (or any stairs leading upward anywhere), so it completely breaks the standard dungeon-crawler loop of making a little bit of progress and then turning around and going back to town. I assume that comes into play after the practice dungeon?

Also the randomized dungeon layouts are pretty bland so far; maybe that changes after the tutorial, but in the tutorial the layouts are entirely made up of big open rooms connected by narrow passages. So far the random enemies and items have kept it interesting enough to make up for the uninspired layout randomization, but if the layouts never get more interesting than this then I expect I'll get bored of the grind before long.

The controls are mostly fine, but I don't like having the melee attack button be the same as the Accept button; it's a great damn way to make me waste a turn accidentally swinging my sword after every dialog box. I can see why they don't just do the old standard of attacking an enemy on an adjacent square by pushing the directional button toward it (diagonals are already awkward with a 4-directional D-pad), but double-binding attack and accept isn't a great solution either.

Actually diagonals are kind of unfortunate from the get-go, given that I'm trying to play with a one-handed controller and it's pretty much impossible to hold R and push a diagonal on the D-pad. It would help if I could rebind the buttons, but I don't think that's an option. Maybe this one would be better on an emulator than a flash cart (I already mentioned in the other thread that it saves constantly, which probably isn't good for the SD card).

Still, I quite enjoyed the hour or so I spent with it, and I expect I'll keep playing for awhile.

When I'm done with it (either because I finish it or get bored or frustrated with it), I think I'll give the original Shiren a shot.

I also hear good things about Azure Dreams -- what, another Suikoden-era Konami RPG, and no one told me? I did a little research on setting up a PS2 to play games from a hard drive and it sounds like a pain in the ass, but the disc doesn't cost too much on ebay, or maybe I should just forget about fucking around with original hardware in this case and just emulate it. My recollection of PS1 emulation is that it was awkward to set up and not terribly accurate, but it's been awhile and I hear it's gotten a lot better.

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Brentai
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Re: Roguelikes

Postby Brentai » Fri Feb 28, 2020 4:46 pm

Chocobo's Dungeon Wii has my name in the credits, for what that's worth. It certainly is bland but a lot less bullshitty than a more typical Roguelike. And I don't quite remember but I think there may have been an option to play one-handed with a vertical Wiimote, though that honestly just sounds like a great way to fuck up your other hand.

If your Wii has too much dust on it there's also a Switch pseudo-port update that I don't know much about, seems to be the same "story" but different gameplay? No idea.

My experience with Azure Dreams mostly involves getting screwed over permanently by a perfect storm of trap tiles and ranged monsters wandering in so if the YASD problem is getting to you then you probably won't find a reprieve there.
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François
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Re: Roguelikes

Postby François » Fri Feb 28, 2020 7:02 pm

Torneko's Big Adventure is to Rogue what the original Dragon Quest is to early PC dungeon crawlers. It's significantly more accessible, but on its own merits it's just as bare bones. In that comparison, Shiren the Wanderer is more akin to Dragon Quest III, in that it builds on the same principles but it's better in every way and stands as a sterling example of the genre. It looks good, it sounds great, it's profoundly flavorful, and it improves on the formula in too many ways to count while bringing in new elements with genuine mechanical interest. I honestly can't recommend Shiren enough, and I'd suggest outright skipping Torneko's game unless you really dig the Dragon Quest theming.

Dungeon layouts don't ever really get better, though. It's to a point where a more modern roguelike like Tales of Maj'eyal has an "auto-explore" button that uncovers the map for you, only stopping for traps and hostiles. The focus of the games is on their bite-sized tactical encounters and resource management. Terrain exists only to block or allow movement and line of sight; out-of-combat navigation and exploration are typically afterthoughts at best.

Oh, and about...

It's too early to get a real bead on the gameplay. The tutorial dungeon doesn't have an exit (or any stairs leading upward anywhere), so it completely breaks the standard dungeon-crawler loop of making a little bit of progress and then turning around and going back to town. I assume that comes into play after the practice dungeon?


There's only ever an exit that goes forward; you can't climb back up to a level you've already traversed. If you want to leave the dungeon with your inventory intact, you need to find an Outside scroll. (I think there are certain levels where one is guaranteed to appear, but it's been a while and I can't 100% remember.) And even then your level is reset to 1 as though you had died. On the whole, your run-to-run progress is accomplished by finding good gear, improving it with scrolls, and bringing it back to your persistent home inventory so you can accumulate a decent kit that'll take you deeper than you've ever managed on luck alone before.

Of course that's significantly kinder than how Rogue works, where you always just start from scratch.

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beatbandito
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Re: Roguelikes

Postby beatbandito » Fri Feb 28, 2020 7:26 pm

Thad wrote:I also hear good things about Azure Dreams -- what, another Suikoden-era Konami RPG, and no one told me?


I've consistently had the game on my top 5 lists since it came out, so at this point it's on you.

The main things about Azure Dreams is that the nature of progress is tied to monster egg hatching, raising, and combining. You lose all character experience on each new delve and only have equipment to keep them safe. This progress is also tied into improvements to the town, that in turn come from talking to residents, finding items, and just cash.

Outside of that it's very punishing to greed, but mostly plays like you'd expect for 90s mystery dungeon.
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Thad
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Re: Roguelikes

Postby Thad » Sat Feb 29, 2020 11:28 am

Brentai wrote:Chocobo's Dungeon Wii has my name in the credits, for what that's worth.

Well, if Crisis Core is any indication, it seems to be worth something.

François wrote:Torneko's Big Adventure is to Rogue what the original Dragon Quest is to early PC dungeon crawlers. It's significantly more accessible, but on its own merits it's just as bare bones. In that comparison, Shiren the Wanderer is more akin to Dragon Quest III, in that it builds on the same principles but it's better in every way and stands as a sterling example of the genre. It looks good, it sounds great, it's profoundly flavorful, and it improves on the formula in too many ways to count while bringing in new elements with genuine mechanical interest. I honestly can't recommend Shiren enough, and I'd suggest outright skipping Torneko's game unless you really dig the Dragon Quest theming.


Noted. I guess there's no real reason to figure "oh, I'll play one first and then move on to the other", if they're fundamentally similar experiences but one is clearly better. I don't expect I'll do that much jumping from RL to RL; YASD hasn't gotten to me yet but I'm sure it will at some point.

There's only ever an exit that goes forward; you can't climb back up to a level you've already traversed.


Fascinating. I guess I can see why that would be necessary from a storage perspective. I haven't actually played one of these since the Clinton Administration, but Castle of the Winds definitely involved the "sprint back to town before you die" dungeon crawler loop. (CotW wasn't a traditional RL, though, because you could save-scum.) I think DnD did too but I don't remember.

beatbandito wrote:
Thad wrote:I also hear good things about Azure Dreams -- what, another Suikoden-era Konami RPG, and no one told me?


I've consistently had the game on my top 5 lists since it came out, so at this point it's on you.


My bad. Guess it must just be one of those generic titles that slides off my brain. Like I keep wanting to recommend Fell Seal to people and then forgetting what it's called.

And, at a glance at YouTube, it's...one of those PS1 games that does not do well in the transition to an HD screen. eBay it is, I guess.

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Thad
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Re: Roguelikes

Postby Thad » Sat Mar 14, 2020 2:33 am

Azure Dreams looked fugly on an HDTV even filtered through the OSSC, so I moved my PS2 over to the CRT and it turns out it's just a fugly game. It's got that problem that a lot of PS1 games have where the textures are just too lo-res to gracefully handle zooming and rotating. And it's got that sort of DQ7 thing going on where everything's jaggy and lopsided and kind of ripples when you move. I get why it is the way it is -- 3D rotatable environments have some potential to add something interesting to the Roguelike experience -- but boy, the sprite-based RPGs of the era sure have aged a lot better. (Suikoden 2 remains one of the best-looking games I've ever played.)

Sounds fucking great, though. The composer is one of the guys who did music for Suikoden? You don't say.

The localization feels like an 8-bit throwback; everyone spouts exposition at a second-grade reading level. I was expecting Suikoden and I got Symphony of the Night. Still, it gets the job done; the Roguelike genre isn't exactly known for its sophisticated dialogue.

Those are just early impressions. Gameplay seems promising! So far all I've done is wander around town and get through the first level of the dungeon while the monster gave me tutorial information that I'm probably not going to remember tomorrow. Oh, I can jump? Uh-oh. I hope I don't have to do that too often. Feels a little Xenogears-y.

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beatbandito
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Re: Roguelikes

Postby beatbandito » Sat Mar 14, 2020 11:29 am

I can't speak for upscaling past a flat 2x, but character models definitely have some noise on the edges, and particles/effects are... of the era. The flat art and dialogue portraits I imagine hold up pretty well, though.

Tips:
Jumping is used almost exclusively to get out of the river if you walk into it. Talk to your mom every morning and give the pita fruit to kewne first thing when you enter the tower. Try to avoid the temptation of selling off your first gold sword or diamond shield, and save any sands you find for them if you can. And if you've already talked to everyone in town you don't need to do another round until you reach floors 10 and 15, unless you're doing a lot of redevelopment by that point or are hot for Fur Gots or Patty.
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Thad
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Re: Roguelikes

Postby Thad » Fri Mar 20, 2020 12:51 am

beatbandito wrote:I can't speak for upscaling past a flat 2x, but character models definitely have some noise on the edges, and particles/effects are... of the era. The flat art and dialogue portraits I imagine hold up pretty well, though.


Never mind upscaling, it looks pretty rough even at native resolution on authentic hardware (well, semi-authentic; I'm running it on a PS2, not a PS1) hooked up to a CRT.

But aesthetics aside, the real problem with the 3D is that a lot of the time I can't tell what fucking square a monster is on relative to me and I waste a turn attacking in the wrong direction.

Tips:
Jumping is used almost exclusively to get out of the river if you walk into it. Talk to your mom every morning and give the pita fruit to kewne first thing when you enter the tower. Try to avoid the temptation of selling off your first gold sword or diamond shield, and save any sands you find for them if you can. And if you've already talked to everyone in town you don't need to do another round until you reach floors 10 and 15, unless you're doing a lot of redevelopment by that point or are hot for Fur Gots or Patty.


Thanks.

First Diamond Shield went straight in the vault. Don't have a Gold Sword yet but I'm currently on a run where I've had a whole lot of luck with the RNG and I've got a Wind Crystal, so my plan is to get as far as I can and then warp out when things start to look dicey. (If it looks like I have time to use-ID the random shit in my inventory first, I will, but I'm thinking this is probably going to be a situation where I go "oh fuck, I'm gonna die if I don't get out of here right now.")

I think I've talked to everybody in town but I'm not 100%. It's too spread out for how little is actually there.

(A very PlayStation 1 moment: walking into the bar and there's this wonderful sampled crowd noise like you've just walked into a crowded bar. It's a very nice touch, and completely fucking ridiculous because there are three customers in the bar, and none of them are sitting together.)

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