Monday, August 10, 2009

Tengai Makyou II: Manji Maru

Hudson Soft / Red
Super CD-ROM

If you're planning to give Manji Maru a try, be aware that it requires a serious time commitment. Fifty hours went into my first playthrough, and while I like to take my time and bumble about, there's no way around the fact that the Manji trek will be a long one even for the quickest of players. But unlike modern fifty-hour RPGs, Manji places emphasis on true adventuring, not movie watching and endless conversing. You'll visit exotic locations like mermaid villages and travel via sailboat, mecha, transformable submersible tank, huge flying fortress, and drowsy giant turtle. You'll meet hundreds of people and acquire countless items and spells.

But you won't watch all that many cinemas. After some killer opening bits, breathtaking cinematic interludes are few and far between. MM doesn't really need full-fledged cinemas for its story to be effective, however. Dramatic situations like the heroic mutt Shiro putting his life on the line against a billion giant bear mecha... funny sketches like the one during which Kabuki and his rival inexplicably turn themselves into various beasts, weapons, and structures in a hilarious game of one-up... tragic events like allies taking arrows in the back or crumbling buildings to the head in order to save your party... we don't need cinemas for such material to make a significant impact...

...though there are some memorable ones (particularly noteworthy is a sequence depicting a gory ice-cave showdown).

We do need a good battle system to keep the action moving along smoothly, however, and Manji Maru comes through in this regard: its fights are typically resolved in the blink of an eye. You can basically rev up turbo on your control pad and slash your way across the countryside. You won't get great backdrops like you do in Ziria, and you won't see your party members running around like you do in Kabuki Den, but Manji's system works in super-fast fashion, and speed in execution might be the most important thing of all to me when it comes to RPG combat.

And you do get gigantic, animated bosses.

Justin Cheer's great four-part MM FAQ will help you overcome the language barrier if you don't know Japanese. Basic knowledge of the language (and I'm not just talking katakana here) really comes in handy later in the game when you need to warp between towns and provinces and keep track of what all your spells do. But whatever you need to do to play through this awesome game, do it.

No comments :

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.