January 04, 2018

Rainbow Silkroad - Road to the Riches

Any previous misgivings I had about the trading system faded as it has really started to grow on me.  Prices are still static, but after purchasing a couple more beasts of burden, I had so much extra room that it became a question of quality vs. quantity in order to maximize profits.  Even though the numbers were getting pretty large, I refused to load my abacus app and instead used pure mental energy.  It really started working my "fuzzy" multiplication skills and, at certain times, I was glad that I don't stream my sessions, as any huge error in calculation only netted me a look of scorn and contempt from the nearby cat.

Really, Master?  Forgetting to carry
the one?  How typical of your kind.

With all this bookkeeping keeping me busy, I was completely thrown for a loop when the game decided to toss in an action mini-game while I was searching for a mirror shard.  The shard was located at the bottom of a lake, encased in ice (apparently the non-floating kind), and which needed to be melted by throwing a fire rock into the lake, which presumably wasn't the best thing for any life forms living there.

Except for the jellyfish.  Those angry, angry jellyfish.

After my scuba session, I remembered that I had a princess to "save" again, so I donned my most ostentatious finery, slicked back my generous bounty of gorgeous hair, munched on a sprig of mint, and prepared myself to play my part this little drama she concocted.  However, I had to give Princess Uggo credit, as she was indeed captured again, this time by an assassin who had been counting on me to come rescue her.  I eventually did, but he must have been waiting there for a hella long time while I was busy raking in the shekels.  It's hard to determine the exact passage of time, but based on my calculations of four round trips between Istanbul and Tehran, with a standard walking speed of 5 km/hr, for 12 hours a day, and it ends up being about a month shy of a year.  Dude's got patience, I'll give him that.  When we finally did stumble into his "trap", he was caught so off-guard that he didn't have a chance to ambush or backstab or anything.  Instead, he just awkwardly stammered his way through an obviously pre-written speech about how awesome his plan was.  Slave1 and I took the time to draw our weapons and then heavily worked the kidney and lower genital areas.  The shah was happy enough to get his bride back, even though her heart would always belong to the Shenster.  He granted me access to Mongolia, where I was forced to switch out my camel for a horse, setting me back 2,000 dollars money (a brand new camel or horse costs 3,000).  While this high exchange rate outraged my bottom line, I also had to give 'em respect for their gouging skills and admit that I'd do the same thing.  Mongolia had a lot to offer, not only in suedes and furs but also in my favourite commodity — meat shields!  As I maxed out my personnel roster, the friendly slave merchant gave me some pointed advice on how to best utilize my new trio.

I also find they are more docile and manageable
if you spay, neuter, and castrate them.

The time that Soldier1 and I had spent over the previous months had started a budding, if somewhat shaky, friendship and I was comfortable in outfitting all my lil spuds with the best gear money could buy, making us all equally terrifying in combat.  Bandits still dogged me every time I left a city, but if they weren't that much of a threat at the beginning, they certainly weren't a threat now.

I almost had pity for this fat guy in a mumu — almost.

Despite our blossoming friendship, I still had to trade S1 in when the superior Warrior class of slaves became available.  This meant I also stripped him of all his equipment, but, being the nice guy that I am, I let him keep my starting knife as a memento.  As I started to see tears well up in his eyes, I turned my attention to the slavemaster in order to quickly complete the transaction.  Via my peripheral vision, I could see his crestfallen stare transform into a burning enmity towards me.

Kinda regretting letting him keep that
knife now, come to think of it.

I bade farewell to Mongolia after finding another mirror shard and headed towards India, where I exchanged horses for elephants!  These were fairly weak 'phants, mind you, as each one could only carry as much as a camel or horse.  Nonetheless, it didn't take long for their gentle nature to win me over and they soon each had a loving nickname, handcrafted from the bottom of my heart: Bitey, Stampy, Missy, Bitey2, and Bitey3.  I took them wherever I went, including shops, homes, and even a ride on the world's most durable inflatable dinghy (only 100 GP!)!

Not pictured: Four fully armoured men and
five elephants laden with thick furs.

India also had a princess problem, but this time it was the tremendous horrors of being a little too selfish for her own good.  Exactly the kind of problem a merchant-warrior such as myself was born to deal with!  After discussing the problem with the sultan, who was nude for some reason and quite happy to be so, I went to talk with the princess to see if I couldn't do a little something something to cure her of her selfish behaviour.

I'll only answer that after looking at
your driver's license, sweet thang.

The cure actually ended up being playing some music for her and not laying down several kilometres of Shen "Grade D" pipe, which normally works much better for putting bitches in check.  Unfortunately, my skills rocking the slide whistle did little to change her attitude so it was off to the quest for the make-out mixtape (you 80's/90's teens know what I'm talking about).  I couldn't find that either, what with none of the technology existing and all, so the next best thing was a music box from some old dude in a temple.

in my pants, yeah, yeah, just give
me the box, ya old ratbag.

Instead of the reward I expected, the princess gave me a key that unlocked a secret underground passage to Siam, and I soon forgot about what my second brain wanted and started thinking about the possible economic opportunities waiting for me in the new land.  Unfortunately, it wasn't a simple matter of traversing the tunnel as I needed a magic rope in order to climb out at the end (elephants can climb ropes, right?).  Tracking this magic item down led me to a town where everyone spoke contrary to their intended meaning.  It also had another 100 GP dinghy ride which was necessary to take in order to talk to the guy with the rope, who wouldn't sell it to me right away anyway.

Okay, now it's getting a little tourist trap-y.

One thing that had started to bother me during the midgame was the lack of space for items.  With only seven available slots and quest items (except for mirror shards) taking up a slot, there wasn't a lot of room for anything else.  To its credit, Rainbow Silkroad does mitigate this problem somewhat by introducing multiple-use healing items at this time, but I was still hungry for more and, being a merchant, there's no real reason why I should be so limited; I have five freakin' elephants with me, for fuck's sake.  RS heard my silent pleas and bestowed upon me a quest which netted me a larger bag, giving another eight slots to utilize.  All I had to do was enter a cave infested with demons and kill their demon king.  It was a tough battle and just when I thought I was triumphant, this decidedly minor boss got a little too big for his britches.

Hey, you're no final boss... haaack!  HAAAAAACK!!!

Before heading off to Siam, I also needed to pick up one of those pesky shards, which involved sailing to a remote island with the world's worst sea captain.  First, he had broke his compass and basically made me go and get him another one (though he did give me a good price for it).  I forgave his unprofessionalism for that, writing it off as mere laziness, but after we set sail, his incompetence really started to show.

Umm, capt'n? The, ah, boat is pointing the wrong way.

Maybe it was a good thing that we only going about half a knot as it allowed me to snatch up a letter in a bottle, which was written by a lost soul who wanted this letter delivered to his brother in the village of Aden.  At any rate, once we finally made it to the island, it was a simple matter of navigating a fiery cave of fire, complete with rivers of molten hot lava.  I was protected from the burning by a special pair of sandals, but since none of the slaves or elephants complained about the heat, I think I got ripped off.  After getting the fire shard, I was able to go find a reclusive yogi and pass his trial, which was a cool navigation puzzle where the floor would occasionally change to one of four different colours, each one screwing up the control directions in a different way.  One false move meant falling off the path and having to start all over again.  After completing his task, I was bequeathed a lotus flower, which I gave to the man in Contrary village (paying for another boat ride) for the magic rope, and now I could finally head to Siam and start trading again.  I tell ya mang, these damn quests are really getting in the way of a guy just trying to make an honest buck, gnome saiyan?  Geez, I hope Siam doesn't make me downgrade my elephant posse to some kind of lesser creature; that would certainly impact my bottom line.  Hrmmm, maybe I can grease the palm of some corrupt official or perhaps I could...

December 01, 2017

[Game 066] Rainbow Silkroad (NES - 1991)

Translation by aishsha & Pennywise

It seems like the majority of these translated JPRGs are quite content to exist as Dragon Quest clones.  This isn't a bad thing as the aesthetics certainly do their part to get me rock hard, but a clone better do something funky fresh to avoid being too derivative.  Rainbow Silkroad does just this by basing the economy on the trade commodities of yore.  All the popular items are represented: silk, salt, porcelain — they're all here!  Wandering monsters (the regular source of golds) now give nothing except for license points, which are used to purchase the right to trade in premium goods.  And yes, experience points are gone as well, meaning no levels and, indeed, no stats of any kind (outside of HP).  Buying new equipment raises HP instead and any increases to attack or defense is done entirely behind the scenes.  There is also a water gauge, which drains at different rates depending on which terrain type is being traversed.  Well, it wouldn't be much of a RPG if it was all about increasing doze mercantile skillz, so the main quest is to gather seven shards of a mirror in order to prove I'm the king or whatever.  The journey to wealth and power will undoubtedly take me all the way up the Silk Road and I started off at the western end in Damascus, Syria.  Since I'm just a po' young merchant, my initial stock was only five clay pots of questionable quality.  However, by harnessing my inner capitalist and opening my mind's eye to the eternal plane of supply and demand, I was able to deduce that the best place to sell would be the city to the east, Baghdad.

Or this guy just told me.  Whatever shut up.

I loaded myself up with my five units of porcelain, strapped my trusty knife to my belt, donned my no armour, and headed towards Baghdad... and was almost immediately accosted by a solitary pickpocket, who decided to ditch his usually shtick and just straight up demand my money at knifepoint.  I could also tell he was a criminal because he used yer instead of your.

Still better than using you're or, god forbid, yore.

I guess my knife-fu techniques were pretty def because I perforated his punk ass with nary a scratch on myself.  I also sliced and diced up a couple of snakes before arriving at Baghdad and selling my warez for a slight profit of 10 GP per unit.  Pulling out my papyrus spreadsheet, I took note of all the prices and, knowing full well that I'm in a game, was not surprised to find lower net profits for the cheaper goods, which, of course, is all I could afford.  So this is how the grind was going to work then.  An interesting spin on the regular wandering around and I must say that I approve of this change, if only because it is a change.  It didn't take long before I was out of the porcelain biz and hawking beans and wheat instead.  Prices are rock steady and, netting 100 GP per trip, I was soon able to afford some armour which substantially increased my HP.  During all this time, I was also suppose to be rescuing the unfortunately named princess Ugarit, but if the caliph was prepared to send an unarmoured merchant with a knife, then he could damn well wait until I purchased some protection.  The path to her rescue involved entering some dungeons, predictably having chests of gold within them.  Even though I've only started my journey, I'm already converting the gold into commodities in my head ("Wow!  That's 2.5 wheats right there!").  I also met my first companion, a tiny genie who doesn't participate in combat but can tell me what items do.

Finally I'll know what FLASK and HERBAL BALM are.

The final hurdle in rescuing princess Uglytits was navigating a pyramid, complete with guardian Sphinx and undead pharaoh boss, both of which combat can be avoided with the proper actions.  The Sphinx, of course, wanted a riddle solved, and the pharaoh just wanted 90% of my water since he was thirsty after his long "nap".

I wouldn't have been able to beat on
something so totes adorbs anyway.

Thanks to Shnugs, I knew that my FLASK was filled with water and could replace what Tutankhamun had drank.  After further inquiry with her, I discovered that drinking water would likewise slake my own thirst and allow me to keep on living.  With princess Urraagghh safely tucked into my caravan, it was an uneventful trip back to Baghdad and the grateful caliph granted me access to the east.  I also got some kisses from the princess which interestingly was always followed by some fanfare, regardless of how many times I initiated it.

And you don't even want to know how
many times I did this. Or that my
pants were off the entire time.

Oh yeah, I also got one of those mirror shard thingies I was looking for, wrapping up this chapter in a nice, neat, little package.  I got some more time with the princess as I escorted her to the Persian city of Tehran (in modern-day Iran), as she was due to marry the shah there.  After dropping off my sloppy seconds, it was back to business and I soon had a solid trade route from Tehran to Istanbul, dealing in coal and oil as my newly purchased Fuel License allowed me to do.  Prices are still static and this allowed me to generate some big profits as well as a gripe with the economics in general.  Why would I deal in anything other than what my license allows me to?  Without some variance in price, there's no reason to ever deal in cheaper goods once I've outgrown them.  What would really have been nice is a little supply and demand action to force me to periodically swap goods.  It's still early, so I'll continue to track the market, but I'm assuming that this aspect will stay the course.  I had only made a few runs when I was summoned by the shah who hit me with some serious déjà vu.

Naw, guy, I already did this, guy.  Guy.

Yep, the princess managed to get herself capture again, in record time.  I was suspicious right away and thought back to our tender nights during her rescue, talking softly under the moonlight sky, and saying more to each other with an awkward glance than a million words could ever hope to convey.  I also thought back to our nights under the canvas of my caravan, where I cold wrecked dat pussy so fucking real boo couldn't walk straight for days, U NOE WUT IM SAYIN'!?!  I figured this was just one of those games that girls like to play, so I just played it off and got back to making dem endz.  I was anxious to make some cash as there was a new type of shop selling mercenaries.  I had noticed in the equip menu that there were three empty blocks just waiting for a character to hop on in.  Initially, I thought these blocks would be filled with NPCs that I met along the story (I thought Ugarit might be one), but a faceless mercenary is actually far more appropriate for a merchant transporting expensive merchandise.  The game agreed with me and soon I had Soldier1 under my command, armed with nothing and having the same HP that I started out with.  So not so much a soldier as a slave.  Since this is around the 13th century, though, I'm totally cool with this.  I didn't have cash to outfit him and still have a full load of goods, so I just gave him the knife I wasn't using anymore (upgraded to spear) and called it a day.  Having S1 with me enabled a new combat option called Watch, which is exactly what it sounds like — me standing idly by, decked out in copper armour, while S1 battles bloodthirsty bandits and venomous serpents, buck naked except for his rusty old knife.  The best part, though, is that after combat ends, the game gives me full credit for the kill.

Game, I think this is the beginning of
a long and beautiful friendship.

Tactically, I suppose this might come in handy if I'm ever low on HP, but honestly, I'm more likely to do this when I'm at full HP because otherwise I'm not abusing my power to its utmost.  I did buy S1 some proper equipment eventually, but not equal to what I have, since I'm a little paranoid about him turning on me.

Learning to walk backwards is a must
when you're a power-mad asshole.

One of the coolest aspects of Rainbow Silkroad is that the locations are all fairly accurate to their real-world counterparts.  Townsfolk aren't always willing to give up directions and having a historical map on hand helps tremendously in planning ventures.  For example, coming out of Tehran (pictured above), I knew I needed to go to Istanbul first but there were three possible roads I could have taken.  My geographical knowledge of the middle east is sorely lacking and I always appreciate any game that helps me fill in such gaps or sends me spiraling through the depths of Wikipedia.  Well, I suppose I should go and "rescue" the princess.  At least I'll probably receive a hefty reward from the shah (cash only please).

November 01, 2017

Castle of Ayakashi - Ranking

Story & World

The almost non-existent story sucked and the world sucked.  It was fun to map, though, and had this element to it where one comes back through most of the castles after the midpoint to "fill in" the areas that had been previously inaccessible.  1/20

Character Development

The character development sucked.  I'm pretty sure every level is 100% static, as I saw screenshots of another late game character who had the exact same HP and SP as I did.  My final character stats also had some nice, round numbers (100 & 200) in addition to the hexadecimal integer maximums mentioned last post.  Finding a new piece of equipment automatically overwrites the previous one and none of them had special abilities.  Items all duplicated existing character abilities, of course at a much weaker power level.  1/20

Combat & Monsters

The combat sucked.  The mid to late game was the most non-sucky, as the player has all the spells available and they do work on regular enemies at least.  One cool thing about the spells is that they upgraded as the game progressed, but the lower power levels were still selectable should one want to conserve some magic points.

The monsters were heavily based on Japanese mythology and they definitely did not suck as they consistently kicked my ass.  I feel that they were the true heroes of this stupid tale.  6/20

Graphics & Sound

Graphics only sucked sometimes.  All the castles looked identical, just room after room and corridor after corridor of cold, grey, rocky walls.  Monster depiction was much better with decent size, details and variety.  The one tune that played throughout, though, certainly sucked the big one.  There wasn't even a nice sound effect when a chest was found, something I didn't realize that I missed until it was gone.  7/20


Well, what can be said about the gameplay?  Hrmm... oh!  I knoes!  It fucking blew and it fucking sucked.  At least it was a short game, if only because of dat sweet, sweet emulator turbo option that make games like CoA slightly more bearable.  1/20

Final Ranking:  16/100