Game-related ramblings.

Month: November 2023

History Lessons: The Battle Of Olympus

Other History Lessons posts can be found here. If you’re looking specifically for console games, those are here. As always, you may click on images to view larger versions.

I’m still rectifying the timeline for this series. After reaching September 1988 with Spellcaster, I realized I’d skipped over some games that should really be included, and went back to cover them. Most recently, that was Sorcerian, released in late December 1987. Thus we now enter 1988 once again. Following Sorcerian in the timeline should be Dragon Quest III, which I’ve already written about, and now The Battle of Olympus, which released in Japan on March 31, 1988, and was later brought to the US by Broderbund in January 1990.

I’d originally skipped over The Battle of Olympus because I’d seen it referred to as a clone of Zelda II, suggesting it had little of its own to offer. After reading more about it, I decided to include it anyway, and I’m glad I did. It does have a lot of similarities with Zelda II, but it manages to feel like its own game despite them.

Scratching That Itch: Simply The Best

This is the one hundred seventy-fourth entry in the Scratching That Itch series, wherein I randomly select and write about one of the 1741 games and game-related things included in the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. The Bundle raised $8,149,829.66 split evenly between the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and Community Bail Fund, but don’t worry if you missed it. There are plenty of ways you can help support the vital cause of racial justice; try here for a start. Lastly, as always, you may click on images to view larger versions.

Our one hundred seventy-fourth random selection from the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality is talking to us about games, design, and the art in and around them. It’s Simply The Best, by Moon Books Publishing (and authored by Mat Bradley-Tschirgi), and its tagline in the bundle reads:

Interviews with Video Game Designers, Composers and Scofflaws

It’s time for some discourse.

History Lessons: Sorcerian

Other History Lessons posts can be found here. If you’re looking specifically for console games, those are here. As always, you may click on images to view larger versions.

I’ve been playing early console role-playing games (and action role-playing hybrids, and Metroidvanias), nominally trying to go in chronological order. But I haven’t been very successful at that. The farthest I’ve reached in terms of the timeline is September 1989, with SpellCaster, but I’ve since gone back in time again to fill in some games I missed. Several of those are entries in Nihon Falcom’s Dragon Slayer series, including Dragon Slayer IV: Drasle Family (AKA Legacy of the Wizard), and my most recent entry about Faxanadu, a spinoff game based on Xanadu, the second Dragon Slayer game. If I had my timeline in order, the next game after Faxanadu would have been Hydlide 3: The Space Memories, followed by the original Final Fantasy (which was actually the first post I wrote for this series, heh) and Phantasy Star. After that, we reach the fifth Dragon Slayer game, Sorcerian, originally released in late December, 1987.

Sorcerian is notable as an early example of a game designed to support expansion packs. The development team was tired of having to write the code for a game’s engine and systems every time they made a new game, so they tried a new approach with Sorcerian: it shipped with one disk for the game systems, and another disk with a collection of playable scenarios. Then Nihon Falcom — or others! — could release more scenario disks, which players could collect to continue their adventures. This formula proved successful, and Sorcerian was ported from the PC-88 to other home computer systems as well as consoles like the Mega Drive and PC Engine CD. Later, Sorcerian saw enhanced re-releases for Windows, and the wide range of scenarios to play mean that there are fans still playing it today (interested readers may enjoy this comprehensive feature about Sorcerian for more details). Unfortunately for me, all of those releases are Japan-only, without even any complete fan-made translations. The only time Sorcerian appeared in English was a version for MS-DOS, brought to US markets by Sierra On-Line in 1990. Which means I’ve found myself in the strange position of using comparatively fiddly DOSBox emulation to play it, rather than the console emulation I’ve used for everything else in this series so far.

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