History Lessons: Dragon Quest II

Other History Lessons posts can be found here. For some context, you may wish to read the post about Dragon Quest and the post about Final Fantasy first. As always, you may click on images to view larger versions.

My very slow quest to play through the early Japanese-style role-playing games continues. I semi-accidentally started out of order with the first Final Fantasy game, before realizing that it was predated by not one, but two of the Dragon Quest games. Deciding it was foolish to limit myself to the Final Fantasy series only, I then played the first Dragon Quest, and have now moved on to the second. As with the first game, Dragon Quest II appeared in Japan first, released in January 1987 for the Japanese Famicom, before being localized for the Nintendo Entertainment System (a rebranded Famicom) in North America in 1990, under the name Dragon Warrior II to avoid trademark troubles. This English-language version is the one that I played, and while there are some minor changes, it’s largely the same game as the Japanese original.

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History Lessons: DROD: The City Beneath

Other History Lessons posts can be found here. In this case, you should read the History Lesson posts about DROD: King Dugan’s Dungeon and DROD: Journey To Rooted Hold in particular before proceeding. Lastly, as always, you may click on images to view larger versions.

DROD: The City Beneath is the game I thought I was getting when I first played Journey To Rooted Hold. Back then I expected a story-driven puzzle game, only to be confounded by its rigid 25-floor structure, in which every room of every floor must be cleared even if it had nothing to do with protagonist Beethro Budkin’s mission. It wasn’t until I started the DROD series from the beginning that it finally clicked, and I completed Journey To Rooted Hold — even its crushingly difficult later levels — eager to see what came next.

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A Cold War In Hell: A Solium Infernum Story

I have written many words about Solium Infernum, including two epic turn-by-turn diaries. But I haven’t stopped playing, and the stories haven’t stopped coming. This account won’t describe every single turn, but will instead offer a summary, from my perspective only, of a recent game with a particularly dramatic finish. You should be able to follow along even if you aren’t familiar with the game, but if you want to learn more about how Solium Infernum works, you may wish to read my original post about it, or peruse one or both of the two huge diaries, first. Lastly, as always, you may click on images to view larger versions.

Lucifer’s throne stands empty. Six archfiends will vie for it, in a test moderated by the Infernal Conclave. Unfolding in turn-based fashion, the archfiends will submit orders that will be processed simultaneously every few days, leaving plenty of time for behind-the-scenes scheming. This contest will be longer than in the past; once the Conclave has drawn 20 tokens — a process which will take months of real time — the most Prestigious archfiend shall be appointed ruler of Hell. The arena, a wide expanse of the Hellish plain, is also larger than before, and peppered with more numerous Places of Power. Archfiends will surely conquer the garrisons of these Places and take command to earn Prestige each turn, then engineer vendettas with their rivals in order to fight short, strategic wars over them.

But not my archfiend, Brunt. He is not a fighter. His personal legion is pathetically weak. Brunt is, however, a Master Administrator, able to attach an extra Unholy Relic (or praetor commander) to each of his Places of Power. He will amass as many Unholy Relics as possible, using them to grow his power and Prestige. He also happens to be an Infernal Cardinal, letting him demand better tribute than the other archfiends in order to finance his collection. He might conquer a Place of Power or two, but only to use them as places to display his Relics, inspiring awe and fear in his rivals.

At least, that’s the plan. But in Hell, things rarely go to plan.

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Keeping Score: Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition

This is Keeping Score, a series about games and their soundtracks. As always, you may click on images to view larger versions.

Guacamelee! is a game that immediately appealed. It is a platformer of the type that has unfortunately been labeled “metroidvania“, referencing the Metroid and Castlevania series of games. I have tried to find a name for this sub-genre that is not dependent on knowledge of other games, opting for “exploration platformer” in the past, but that moniker that does not capture some very specific connotations that come with “metroidvania”: a freely explorable world in which players gradually find new abilities that can circumvent barriers that previously blocked off access to other areas. You know, like those Metroid and Castlevania games. Sigh.

I generally enjoy these types of games, but Guacamelee! stands out from the crowd. For starters, it’s about luchadores. For those who do not know, luchadores are Mexican professional wrestlers, famous for their colorful masks and acrobatic wrestling moves. Juan, the protagonist of Guacamelee!, must master the mystical moves of the luchador in order to stop undead tyrant Calaca from merging the world of the living and the world of the dead, with dire consequences for both. I am on board for this. There might even be some mariachi trumpets.

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Keeping Score: Floor Kids

This is Keeping Score, a series about games and their soundtracks. As always, you may click on images to view larger versions.

Unlike most games, my interest in Floor Kids began with its soundtrack. Composed and performed by Kid Koala, who is my favorite DJ (and, apparently, also Your Mom’s Favorite DJ), I heard about the game through his social media posts about the soundtrack he was making. If the new music didn’t have me excited enough, the game looked great too: a hand-drawn animated game about breakdancing, made by actual breakdancers with great love and respect for the scene. Promotional clips looked fantastic, and the game earned praise when it released as a Nintendo Switch exclusive. After a few months of exclusivity were over, it came to PC via Steam and I picked it up, along with the soundtrack.

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Keeping Score: Teleglitch: Die More Edition

This is Keeping Score, a series about games and their soundtracks. As always, you may click on images to view larger versions.

I’ve been meaning to play Teleglitch for some time, ever since reading enthusiastic impressions from multiple writers over at Rock, Paper, Shotgun. It’s a creepy science fiction game about escaping a futuristic military research facility in which studies on long-range teleportation have gone horribly wrong, resulting in the titular teleglitch. Originally released in 2012, the Die More Edition followed in 2013, constituting a major overhaul of the whole game with a bunch of new stuff. Knowing me, getting to it five years late isn’t actually that bad.

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Keeping Score: The Real Texas

As always, you may click on images to view larger versions.

Like many people, I have a large backlog of games that I’ve purchased but have not yet played. As I was looking through it to choose another game to play, I realized that many of them had their soundtracks included. Given my love for both games and music, I decided to start playing these and write about both the games and their soundtracks. This is Keeping Score.

The first game I chose is one I’ve been meaning to play for some time. It’s The Real Texas, by Kitty Lambda (aka Calvin French), which I bought way back in 2012, shortly after its release. It came to my attention again a couple of years ago when Calvin French emailed me to tell me a mini-sequel called Cellpop Goes Out at Night had been released, and I got it for free since I was an early supporter of the original. That made me want to finally play it, but apparently it takes me two years to actually do that once I think of it (Solium Infernum may have delayed things, too). Well, I’ve played it now, and it’s certainly an odd one.

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