Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Momotarou Densetsu Gaiden

Hudson Soft / Summer Project

My Momotarou RPG adventures concluded with what's probably the strongest of the three for the PCE. You actually don't play as Momotarou in this one; instead, you control acquaintances of his in three separate mini-quests.

There's a fairly standard RPG mini-adventure, but the premises of the other two quests are pretty interesting. One tale stars a princess of demons who needs to make her way up through the depths of the underworld to deal with invading beasts, and the other features a fellow who swipes money off monsters and gives it to fallen mendicants. There's also a bonus quest, a second trip through the money dude's adventure during which you can use a different character (and experience super-fast leveling).

Like Momo Densetsu II and unlike primitive Momo Turbo, Gaiden gives you groups of enemies to beat up on and multiple playable party members (for two of the three journeys, at least). In fact, at the beginning of the princess's expedition, you can select the royal lass's allies from a group of odd creatures and monsters. There's still plenty of leveling to do, but the fights are as fast as ever.

The graphics are much better in Gaiden than they are in its crusty predecessors. Battles here have some very nice-looking backdrops. The field visuals might seem only a bit better at first, but you'll notice significant improvements once you set foot in certain dungeons (which are largely well constructed and feature some decent puzzles).

Most of the enemies are kind of small, but that's okay. The music is not okay, however; it's often annoying, in fact, especially a certain battle tune that has a buzzing bassline.

The gameplay doesn't deviate from the series's simple norms for the most part, but it does deviate a bit from Momo tradition in that your characters earn spells the usual old-RPG way (upon reaching certain experience levels) rather than by passing trials of old hut-hermits. In fact, this game is more straightforward than the other two on the whole, meaning it contains far fewer potential "stuck-spots." And none of its boss battles are particularly time consuming or difficult.

II, not Gaiden, is my favorite Momo Densetsu game, as I really like its enemy art and find it to be quite funny at times. But people new to the series will almost certainly consider Gaiden to be the best, as it's definitely the least primitive (and easiest to get into and complete) of the bunch. It's too bad that Hudson never went ahead with a CD episode, as I believe the designers were really on the right track with many of the ideas they had, and such a sequel might've been like the great Ziria but even better in a lot of ways.

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