Sunday, May 7, 2017

Game #69: Super Ninja Boy (SNES) - Dragon Ball Gaiden (Finished)

Game 69

Title: Super Ninja Boy
Released: 1993 (December 1991 JPN)
Platform: SNES
Developer: Culture Brain
Publisher: Culture Brain
Genre: Action-RPG
Exploration - Top-down
Combat - Action side scrolling
Series - Ninja Boy (Super Chinese in Japan)

Hopeful yet cautious about this new iteration I curbed my enthusiasm with low expectations. In the end, I wasn't disappointed with it. It's nothing to write home about, but I'll try to anyway. Super Ninja Boy continues to star Jack and Ryu (as second player). At any time a second player can be enabled in town to join in on the action sequences. There are three difficulty settings, and I went with the middle one (normal). I didn't have the manual, and struggled a little for it, so I don't know what the difficulty changes (if it's even explained). I passed on the password entry for now, but noted that I'd need to write them down when I wanted to stop for the night.
Totally not photoshopped
The story begins in Chinaland when an alien race visits, proclaiming universal peace. Their leader, Rub-A-Doc, visited the emperor to discuss plans for the future. Months later, the aliens and Rub-A-Doc decide to leave. That's when some trouble started brewing in the city of Yokan. Jack and Ryu set out to investigate the disturbance.
*Plop*
I gained control just outside of Yokan. Most of the men were missing, and the emperor told me his jewels were stolen as well. The kidnappers were from Mt. Sanpin to the east, but first I was told to venture north to Horizon Gate for some training, and given an escape leaf magic from an old sage. There are three different style of stages: random battles, special field stages, and boss fights. Random encounters require a number of enemies defeated before passing, and Jack is rewarded with experience and money (called sen). The active battle system the series is known for is used here.
Jumping on enemies is safer, although not as powerful as it was in the previous game
There are stationary blocks in most random encounters that can add M balls, which are used for special powerful attacks. Ninpo is used to cast magic. Some enemies drop weapons that can be used during that single battle, and once equipped with a sword it can be drawn and used to some effect. Once I arrived in Horizon Gate I needed to train with Rick and his master to advance.
Someone in town mentioned a super jump... I never did figure it out
The two trials were special field stages, and both required what seemed like impossible jumps. I'm fairly sure I was just missing a mechanic, but after trying all the buttons and combinations of them I still didn't see how to clear those gaps. I built up some money and bought nearly everything from the item shops. Towns also offer free inns to recover HP and NP, convenience stores to add or remove a second player from the party as well as save progress and get a password, and item shops that offer equipment upgrades and helpful items.
Using a dragon egg, which doubles as an extra try if the hero falls in a pit
For my trouble I gained a throwing star and spider shoes, which allow me to climb on ceilings during the special field stages. The kidnappers were found to the east, and easily dealt with. I obtained a yellow auraball from them. Emperor Chin congratulated me, but my task was far from over as more bad tidings arrived from the south near Edo City.
Every once in a while a cave along the path will offer a mini-game, but with only 3 misses I never completed this one
All the samurai in Edo city were kidnapped, and returned as lazy bums. I set out to discover the cause through a cave to the west. It was the magic of Bongoman that made them idle about. This was the first boss battle, which unlike other battles is turn based. In 1-player mode, the actions of Ryu are controlled by an AI... an AI that rarely picks the best attacks. The fight command either punches or kicks at random, item gives the option of using the sword or another inventory item, and magic is for special abilities like the throwing stars and mighty ball attack.
The cupsule item always failed, so I'm not sure what its use was
I picked up a red auraball for my trouble, and dispelled the enchantment over the samurai. Princess Tamago rewarded me with her undying love and a hovercraft. I took the hovercraft and ran off to the next adventure. The king of Edo City suggested I stop by Satoon as he recalls seeing another strange ball there. I met a fisherman and his family along the way west of Yokan. Satoon was a distant goal as I passed through Kingland and Fairy Town to learn of some strife between King Romel of Satoon, and the king of Fairy Town. Princess Julia told of a parcel delivery project called Project-3F. The fairy king grew despondent, and took the prototype to a nearby tower to the southwest. So, I headed southeast, crossed a desert, and went to completely different tower.
Through the whole game I think I collected 2 medals
I gained the hyper vision ability from the magician Airosche after completing her trial, which included some trick mirage platforms. She also told me I needed a special vehicle to pass the acid lake surrounding King Romel's palace. I found the fairy king, talked him into returning, and picked up the errandbot that could shop for me while I'm in the field. I also got the magiport spell, which takes me to the last convenience store I received a password. Dying in the game restores Jack at the same location, but with half money. I was able to afford all new equipment as soon as I arrived at a new town; I don't see a lack of money as a problem.
Oh, you mean that thing I've already done, will do
The invisible enemies are rather annoying to fight, and the hyper vision ability costs 5 NP while the escape leaf spell costs 4 NP. I opted to escape nearly every time. Even with the foreknowledge of the acid lake, and the inventor Dr. Justice visiting from the previous game, I still needed to trek all the way out to the lake in order to trigger the dialogue where Jack asks for a device to cross it. I crossed the lake with the kite he provided. I confronted Romel about the project, and a strange poisonous gas smell. It turns out General Konk of a gang called the Galands was posing as King Romel, and going to use the parcel delivery service to deliver poison gas to everyone.
Unfortunately I underestimated Konk's damage potential the first time
On the way back I grinded an extra level. Hyper vision was required at one point as Konk became invisible. Once defeated, the real Romel was freed, I picked up a green auraball, and delivered Julia's love letter. While the two planned their wedding, they had time enough to direct me across the sea to Mysteryland, and dropped a purple auraball in my pocket on the way out. I hit up Dr. Justice again for a way to cross the sea this time.
Every once in a while a mini-boss type monster will appear during random battles; I never beat one
I traveled southeast from the fisherman's hut, then followed some rocks jutting from the sea shaped into arrows to a landing next to some stairs. I passed on the stairs looking for a town. Skirting the island I found myself in Arcadia town. As I made my usual rounds talking to everyone, resting, and purchasing the latest equipment I realized just how little stats and levels played into my decisions. Since most battles are action based, equipment was the deciding factor, and I never noted enemies becoming easier once I leveled up. Mainly they became easier as I gained experience with the controls. Of course, all that didn't help with the bosses.
I smell another wild goose chase cooking
Prince Lama, in Arcadia, who called the land Anca, told us of the Pitts Gang holding up in Temple Bayon. Jack deduced it was actually the Galands. I visited SlowPo, the wise man, but he sent me off to Yokan to ask Nostradamus. He also gave me magic called Serenitech, which I hoped would eliminate random encounters, but if it even reduced them I didn't notice.
Maybe I can just punch a hole into Bayon Temple
Nostradamus saw in the future I would be accompanied by a man currently drilling at Mt. Kyojin, and sent me off with some magic that was necessary to reach there. I had a clue that the mountain was south of Sealand, but I hadn't found that town yet. I did discover the city of Moo, built underwater, but there were no mountains to the south. Talking to one of the leaders there I was told that an auraball had been captured, and the Pitts Gang responsible was in an underwater area. Even though I was then told Dr. Justice could help with a submarine, he didn't actually give us one when I visited.
I randomly found this whale though, able to travel the ocean without random encounters helped a lot
Sealand, as it turned out, was below the stairs I had passed when I first landed on Mysteryland. From there it was an easy matter to get through the mountain caves that led to Mt. Kyojin. I found Dr. Archeo excavating a site he believed contained a giant machine. Turns out that would be important later, but our immediate need to get into Bayon Temple was solved by taking the good doctor with us to drill a hole in the wall.
The micro ninja magic necessary to reach Dr. Archeo
I cleared out the temple without any trouble; the Pitts Gang fights were all action battles. Prince Lama gave me a blue aruaball, and then told me to go to Moo. I did so, confirmed I still needed a submarine from Dr. Justice, and this second time I visited Jack finally told him what we needed. The undersea boss, Nargi, had plot armor on that required a scroll to learn how to attack through it. The man living inside the whale told us to seek Slowpo as he knew where Ghouland was. Slowpo told us that the only way to the island of Rockhenge, an entrance to Ghouland, was reachable by the giant robot hidden under Mt. Kyojin. Once I got the robot though, and gave it the order to take us to the island, I just found myself sitting outside Mt. Kyojin. I had the robot in my inventory, but seemingly no way to use it. I wondered around the world for a good hour trying to find something I may have missed.
The Y button, apparently that's what I was missing
The scroll in Ghouland land told me to seek out the Feather Sword from Horizon Gate. Returning there, I was challenged again by Rick, this time to recreate his face from a shifting portrait broken into five parts. There was no drawback to failing. The Feather Sword allowed me to defeat Nargi, even though the brothers hardly used it in the actual battle. Next was General Bismol, and defeating him rewarded Jack and Ryu with another auraball. King Antla of Moo told me to head to Futureland next where some clones of Jack and Ryu were causing trouble. Actually finding an area in the giant walled city to land was difficult.
Different sections of Futureland are connected by this magtrain, which takes a long time to traverse, and the battles are annoying to deal with
I arrived in Futureland only to be told to train more at Horizon Gate as Jack and Ryu weren't strong enough to face the clones. Jack and Ryu learned the fire punch from Rick, and returned via the magiport as they had a save point right before the clone fight. Fighting the clones required hyper vision as some were invisible.
I eventually found a place to gather medals, but forgot where to turn them in
The clones seemed unstoppable. I had to leave again to ask Dr. Justice for an electricity based attack since they were apparently robots. As usual he provided just what we needed at no charge. With the clones destroyed, I entered the sewers, and continued to make my way deep into Futureland. Bad News Boss was waiting for me, and beating him allowed me to recover the gold aruaball, the final one in the set. With them I could now put an end to the Galands.
Hey, let's just give them all to this guy since he asked for them so nicely
As I continued on I heard a rumor that Rub-a-Doc was kidnapped by the Galands. I rushed off to save him, answering some trivia about Japanese vocabulary along the way, and found him alone in his room with the marvel box. After Jack handed the balls over, he changed his tune a bit.
Hmmm, why are you laughing so funny?
Turns out he's actually Robo-Doc, the evil genius scientist working with the Galands. He had two forms, and was the hardest fight in the game since most of his attacks did more than a single sweet bun could heal. Still, luck was with me, and I took him down first try.
We win!
Of course that's not quite the end as we have to wrap up the nonsensical story with the auraballs. We took the marvel box with the auraballs back to someone named Apax, placed them on an altar, and then watched them float into the sky. A voice said something about the box going to another world where a miracle would happen. I'm pretty sure the miracle was another sequel, or this sequence was just poorly translated.




Elapsed Time: 10h22m (Final Time: 10h22m)
Time for some of that sweet, sweet world peace!
Combatant - Always a mixed bag with this series, I felt that equipment more than anything else outweighed combat ability. This meant there wasn't a lot of challenge to be had. There are a good number of spells and abilities, but they don't contribute a lot. Enemies differed enough to keep things interesting, although bosses tended to feel very similar. Rewards for combat were satisfactory. The number of random encounters could probably be cut in half without much downside.
Rating: 5
Final boss time
Admirer - There's no customization at all, and character appearance doesn't change to show new equipment. The controls were well done, although it would have been nice to have the manual as I'm sure it mentioned that holding punch allowed Jack to run, which I didn't learn until more than halfway through the game after all the points it would have been useful to know. What is it with me, and not finding the run button until hours into a game?
Rating: 2
This is my angry smile
Puzzler - The main quest is clearly laid out, so there's no chance of getting lost. Side quests are strangely sprinkled across the world in the form of mini-games. Some reward with items, others medals, and I believe one was even required to beat the game. All of them seemed more random than strategic, as I remember all of them were just a form of flipping over cards.
Rating: 3
There was a sequence of faces shown at the end, and I'm not sure who this was
Instigator - The ninja brothers once again sense evil and defeated it. The wackiness of the whole adventure isn't of a type I usually enjoy. Maybe it found its audience though as we continue to see sequels coming out, the last of which comes up soon. NPCs do well at providing hints, the most important of which usually live in a house in each town. There aren't any decisions to be had, and descriptions are somewhat lacking.
Rating: 3
This definitely screams sequel
Collector - Aside from gear, which is upgraded by comparing prices (stats for gear aren't actually displayed anywhere), there are a small number of other items, and not much in the way of collectibles. Magic is about the only thing tucked away for the finding, but I didn't find a lot of use for the hidden ones and there's no way to know if they've all been found. Each item has its own limited capacity, but there isn't one of the total number of items.
Rating: 3
Now the game is confused about where the marvel box is going
Explorer - It's not a bad little world, although exploration is rather linear most of the time. Even when a new transportation method opens there aren't a lot of new places to branch out into. There wasn't anything offensive about the graphics or music.
Rating: 4

Final Rating: 20 [33%]
Amazing how the credits fit on a single screen
With only a single point above Little Ninja Brothers, I have to wonder why I remember the previous title with such disdain. Maybe it wasn't as bad as I recall. Maybe it was the extra five hours I spent with the game. As bland as this was, putting up with it for only 10 hours didn't sour the experience. It helped that it wasn't overly difficult either.

Before we get to the sequel, I'm going to give myself a small break with Great Greed and Might & Magic 3 just after. (Well, maybe it won't be that small.) I've never played, or even seen, Great Greed, so I'm eager to see what it has to offer. From the little I've read, it has some kind of environmental theme going for it. But, Might & Magic 3 is what I'm really looking forward to next, so I hope Great Greed is either short, or incredibly interesting.

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