Saturday, 27 June 2009


I have been horribly, horribly addicted to the Geneforge series by Spiderweb Software.  Horribly.  I've been pretty much playing them non-stop.  The only break I really took was when I went to MetroCon the other weekend (which I'll eventually get around to posting about).  

Spiderweb Software is an independent game company that pretty much consists of a single programmer.  Most of Spiderweb's games feature elaborate storyline with minimal graphics.

Anyways, there's nothing phenomenal about Geneforge, but for some reason I can't stop playing the games.  I'm on the 4th game of the series now.  There's only five games, so I dunno what I'll do when I finish the fifth.  Its an isometric turn based RPG.  The gameplay isn't what makes the game really.  Its the story and the paths you can take.

In most of the games your character is a Shaper, which in the Geneforge world is pretty much a wizard.  Shapers come in three flavors: Guardian, Agent and Shaper.  Guardian is the melee class, Agent is I guess the Stealth/Magic-based class, and Shaper is the Summoner/Wizard class.  Each class can summon creatures to help them in battle.  

In the world of Geneforge, Shapers are the law.  Shapers are respected as well as feared.  Shapers can create lifeforms and easily snuff them out as well.  Shapers commonly create Servile as basically slaves.  They are made intelligent enough to do work on their own, but dumb enough to follow orders without question.  Other creations, such as Drayks are so powerful and intelligent that Shapers decreed the creation of Drayks banned.  

In the first Geneforge, you are a Shaper novice, sent off to an island to finish your training, but your ship (which is actually a living creature) is attacked, forcing you to abandon it and swim for the nearest shore:  Sucia Island.  Sucia Island is a barred island, with the penalty of death for all trespassers.  As you travel the island you unravel the story of why the island was barred.  You also find that the Shapers planned to return to the island.  The Serviles still remain on the island, and have formed tribes (which was thought impossible by the Shapers).  The three tribes are the Obeyers, who remain loyal to the Shapers, the Takers, fanatical Serviles who wish to destroy Shapers, and the Awaken, Serviles who believe Shapers and Serviles can live together as equals.  You can ally yourself with any of the three sects, or none at all.  There is a fourth force at work on the island as well.  The Sholai, a race of people from beyond the ocean.  A rebel Sholai discovers the secret of why the island was barred, the Geneforge.  Depending on your choices you can help the rebel Sholai, or destroy the Geneforge.

The series is mostly rinse and repeat with variations.  Each game reveals more information about the Shapers, and the Geneforge itself.  In Geneforge 4 you begin as an anti-Shaper rebel and use a Geneforge to gain your powers.  You can also play as a Servile, which I thought was kind of interesting (even though I didn't choose to play as it).

You can have up to five creations in the games, although I typically just stuck to one or two.  Each creation has its strengths and weaknesses.  Summoning creatures costs a base amount of Essence.  When creating a monster, you can modify its stats, which increases the amount of Essence required for it.  Essence can only be given back if the creature dies.  You gain Essence by leveling up, and you gain even more by increasing you INT.  

There are many stats in the game you can increase with levels.  So many that its hard to decide what to do with.  Along with the standard Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, and Endurance, there are different schools of Magic and Shaping, multitude of different combat specialties, as well as skills used for thievery and deception.  You only get five skill points per level, so you have to decide wisely, as each skill costs a different amount of skill points to level up.

While the game is not for everyone, especially those all for graphics, the series' story is where the game really shines.  I can't recommend this for everyone, but if you like classic-style old-school games, this is something you may want to look into.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Bahamut Lagoon


Bahamut Lagoon is probably one of Squaresoft's last entries on the SNES.  Its a mix of strategy and role playing games.  You can control up to six units which consist of four characters each and a dragon.  The dragons are not exactly part of the unit, they move and act on their own.  On the battlefield the game shows its strategy roots.  However when your units engage the enemy, it turns into a typical RPG type system.  But instead of fighting until the enemy unit is dead, each character only gets one turn.  Back on the battlefield, you don't necessarily have to engage in melee on the enemy.  You can instead use special skills that the unit might have, like for instance magic.  Skills you can use on the battlefield are Field skills.  Field skills depend on the characters in the unit.  So if you don't have a Wizard in the unit, you can't use magic.  In addition, if you have more than one Wizard in the unit, the magic power is enhanced.  However, having a unit with just Wizards is not exactly a good idea, as if they were to be attacked in melee they would have no chance.  There are advantages and disadvantages to using Field skills as well as melee attacks.  You get more money in melee, but the enemy can counterattack.  Using Field skills you get a free attack on the enemy, however, the damage will be less than if you did a melee.

The dragon's determine what elemental attacks your units have, and how strong said attacks are.  The dragon's have five elements: Fire, Lightning, Ice, Life and Poison.  Each parameter goes up to 100, and every time points increases the elements level.  So at 20 points, you have level 2 of that element.  In addition to giving skills to units, the Dragon's can also attack in battle.  Sometimes if you attack melee, the dragon will attack before your characters turns, doing additional damage.  The dragons all have elemental breath attacks, which attack all enemy character in close combat, or they can attack multiple units on the battlefield.

Between battles you can feed the dragons to enhance their parameters.  Weapons give plus to strength, armor to vitality.  If the weapon/armor is elemental, they get pluses the corresponding element.  The dragons can also evolve into more powerful forms as well.  Unfortunately they sometimes devolve into useless dragons.  If this happens, feed them a Matelite Axe, and they'll be back to normal.  

All the characters have personality, and  are very likable, with the exception of the princess and maybe Palpaleos.  You are Byuu, the silent protagonist, and captain of the Dragon Squad.  Byuu's default unit consists of his knight friends, Rush, Truce and Bikkebakke.  Rush acts before he thinks, and doesn't get along with superiors, even so far as sort of mini-rebelling against Matelite.  Truce is more quiet and level headed, but gets dragged into the mini-rebellion as well.  Bikkebakke wishes after the war to live with his best friends Rush and Truce peacefully, and begins selling mushrooms in hope to afford a house.  Sadly, Byuu is actually a pretty horrible character, battle wise.  Using Field skills he is somewhat alright, but in close combat, Rush, Truce and Bikkebakke outshine him hands down, even when Byuu has better equipment than the others.  The Knights get elemental attacks, but can only be used in melee.  Byuu's Sword Tech can be used in and out of battlle, but its not exactly that great either way.

Matelite is a class of his own.  He's the crazy Royal Guard of Kahna.  He takes command of everything, and is completely dedicated to Kahna.  Its really hard to explain his character.  He probably one of my favorite characters.  His unit defaults with three Heavy Armors, Taicho who is a general of Mahal, before it was taken by the empire, Gunso, Taicho's right hand man (who is creepy, he scratches himself all the time, and you get Gunso's ??? from him occasionally, which I don't even want to know what that is), and Barclay, he doesn't have much character, basically he falls in love with one of the Wizards.  Matelite has Inspire, a lightning field skill that can destroy buildings, it can also be used in close combat as a powerful lightning skill.  He can't get any other elements however.  The Heavy Armors all move very slow, but the damage they deal more than makes up for it.  They can get all the elements, but their attacks can only be used in melee.

I don't remember the rest of the default units, so I'll just list by class now.

Light Armors:  Lukia and Jeanne.  Lukia at the beginning seems to be an important character, as she always shows up in cut scenes, but later she is pretty much forgotten.  She's a cool and level headed person.  Jeanne has almost no character.  Both Jeanne and Lukia apparently have had a past fling with Donfan.  Light Armors don't have field skills, but their elemental attacks in close combat hit all enemies for moderate damage.  Their physical attack is limited.  What makes them invaluable, however, is there ability to increase the speed of units on the field.  I highly recommend putting one in with Heavy Armors.  There is a third Light Armor secret character but I didn't get her, so I dunno anything about her.

Wizards:  None of the Wizards really have any character.  Melodia is an annoying little girl that likes minidevils, Ectarina has a crush on Hornet (the ships captain), Nelbo is friends with Joy and torments Donfan, and Anastasia who is described in game as stuck up, but doesn't actually show up in game.   Wizards are wizards....  There's nothing to describe really.  Magic can be used as Field Skills and well as in melee.

Priests:  Frederica is my favorite priest.  She's funny.  She is physically weak and collapses after battle, and takes medicine regularly.  She wants to open a pharmacy after the war.  Zora is kind of funny too, she tells it like it is, and has no qualms about slapping the princess when she's be hard to deal with.  Her son is Zora's Son.  I'm not kidding.  Thats his name.  Joy is friends with Nelbo and torments Donfan with her.  Diana is the ship's gossiper.  She'll tell you the interesting things happening on the ship.  Like wizards, Priests are priests.  They're magic can be used on the field or in melee.

Lancers:  Reeve and Frenze were close friends at the beginning, but at one point Frenze gets homesick and Reeve get annoyed at him for not being enthusiastic about being a lancer.  Their friendship ends, and Frenze is constantly getting back at Reeve for ending it.  Donfan believes he is the man for all the ladies.  As soon as a girl talks to him he breaks in and tries to woe her.  He always fails.  At one point he goes to the girl's dorm and is caught by Nelbo and Joy who torment him.  Zora's Son attempted to make a Dragon Squad in Mahal, but doesn't know how to take care of the dragon.  He pretty much a failure at life, but does a good job cleaning up the place (catch that reference).  His real name is Orelus, also the name of the games' world.  He doesn't really live up to it.  Lancers are pretty cool.  Their field skills are pretty damned good if you have all of them in one army.  However in melee they are pretty crappy.  Their Lance skills do moderate damage, but they are physically kind of weak, and if you attack without using the lance skills, they can't do much damage at all.  Fortunately, most lance skills take 1 SP to use, and they have quite a bit of SP, so you shouldn't have to worry about running out.

Summoners:  Princess Yoyo and Sendak.  the Princess is probably the most annoying character in game.  At the beginning it seemed like Byuu and the Princess were to get together, even so far as promising to go to the Church of Memories when they get older.  However, all this breaks apart when she falls in love with Palpaleos when she was taken by the empire.  Then its all "Palpaleos, Palpaleos, Palpaleos."  Its sickening.  Sendak is a creepy old man.  He might be gay.  Sexuality aside, he's pretty funny, and an important asset to the party.  The the summoners get two different skill sets.  The first one is Red Magic, which pretty much sucks.  Its like 3 skills, Fire magic, Heal magic, and Status Recovery magic.  I don't think they even get Raise Dead.  At first they start as Red Mages, but become Sumoners as the game progresses.  Summons break the game.  They are way too powerful.  On the field they can do extreme damage to a wide area of enemies.  Summons do take a LOT of mana though.  

Assassin and Minidevils:  They are useless in my opinion. They're field skills suck, and in melee the Assassin are about as good as Light Armors.  The minidevils suck in melee as well as in the field.

The story revolves around the infamous rebel force struggling against and eventually overthrowing the evil Empire.  Only the empire isn't necessarily evil.  In fact the Emperor is actually quite noble and honorable, even though he aims to take over the world.  Emperor Sauzer wishes to awaken all the Holy Dragon's in order to make way for the new Era.  However to do this, he needs the help of a Dragnar, some one who can speak to the Holy Dragons.  Princess Yoyo of Kahna is a Dragnar, so he kidnaps her when he takes over Kahna.  Once the Rebels rescue Princess Yoyo,they decide that the only way to defeat the empire is to gain the powers of the Holy Dragons.  There is more to the story, but I won't spoil it entirely.

There is a Plus Game when you finish it, but ultimately I think its kind of worthless.  The characters and Dragons all stay the same level as when you beat the game, with the addition that Sendak can use Summons right from the start, however you only have one dragon to summon.  Apparently if you missed getting Princess ???s you can do the Plus Game to get them.  If you feed 5 of those to a dragon you can make a Behemoth class dragon, which apparently is awesome?  I honestly didn't care enough to find out.  I'm a casual gamers, so doing EVERYTHING in the game is not something I strive to do.  Also, the game wasn't too hard the first time around, so honestly its kind of stupid to play it again with high level characters.