Tag Archives: Hiromichi Tanaka

Final Fantasy III, Famicom

The third Final Fantasy game was released for the Nintendo Famicom in Japan in 1990. It wasn’t officially translated into English until many years after its initial release, so a variety of fan translations exist online, and their quality varies wildly. The TransTeam translation I found to be pretty good although the font and text alignment isn’t perfect.

Continue reading Final Fantasy III, Famicom

Secret of Mana, Super Nintendo

Although many people seem to dismiss Secret of Mana (known in its native Japan as Seiken Densetsu 2) – at least when compared to its superior sequel – it does still have quite a bit going for it.

Continue reading Secret of Mana, Super Nintendo

Seiken Densetsu 3, Super Nintendo [Part 5]

Seiken Densetsu 3 was released by Squaresoft in 1995 and an English fan translation came out in 2000. Only five years after the game’s original release there was a fan translation… That’s unheard of. And there are various translations available now, including German and French.

Seiken Densetsu 3 was clearly at the top of many people’s translation lists to have been ‘done’ so quickly, and the fan translation is generally excellent, although the story overall is a bit dry. There are some nice bits of humour. Not as much emotion as in the Final Fantasy games, but I think Seiken Densetsu 3 benefits from that. It’s quite dark, with a surreal, cartoony edge. There’s a bit of a Luke/Darth relationship storyline going on, but it’s hardly Shakespeare, so doesn’t resonate hugely, but neither did it bore me. It’s a solid Japanese RPG storyline with cute dialogue. Made even better by great character designs, and an unusual approach to character classes. You can “Class Change” twice during the game, and it really opens up your party’s abilities. It’s an interesting concept that I’m not sure if I’ve seen anywhere else.

Another great thing about Seiken Densetsu 3 is the “party of three” system. You begin the game with one character in your party, and eventually two more join, making three in total. You choose which three you want, from a pool of six, at the start of the game, and cannot change them. Each have different abilities, as you’d expect, but your choice also affects the direction of the game at certain points in the story. So if you choose Duran and Angela (as I did), then the game would branch off in a different direction to Carlie and Kevin’s story. In reality there are only three different branches, but the final boss battles are different in each, and there are unique places on the map you can only visit if you’re playing a certain party, so Seiken Densetsu 3 has a lot of re-playability value. If you want to see everything the game has to offer: you really have to play through it three different times.

Which is no bad thing… Actually, I’m already thinking about my next play-through. Now that I’ve beaten Seiken Densetsu 3 once, I’m ready to truly kick its arse with my new found understanding of this classic retro game.

Remember: a game is for life. Not just for the Nineties!

Seiken Densetsu 3 Week
Seiken Densetsu 3, Super Nintendo [Part 1]
Seiken Densetsu 3, Super Nintendo [Part 2]
Seiken Densetsu 3, Super Nintendo [Part 3]
Seiken Densetsu 3, Super Nintendo [Part 4]
Seiken Densetsu 3, Super Nintendo [Part 5]

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seiken_Densetsu_3

Seiken Densetsu 3 Bosses 20 - Dark Lich

Seiken Densetsu 3, Super Nintendo [Part 4]

I absolutely love the graphical style of Squaresoft‘s Seiken Densetsu 3. It’s a masterwork of pixel graphics artistry. Everything in it, from the characters, to the buildings, to the items, and to the magic spell effects are all incredibly well presented and thought-out. These are definitely among the most iconic 2D RPG graphics ever made. And the people who made them deserve a round of applause from the rest of the gaming world for creating them. 🙂

Seiken Densetsu 3 also simulates day and night. Which not only can you use to your advantage (some party members are more powerful at night and therefore do more damage), but also has a profound effect on the graphics. The way colours are used in this game is very clever. The programmers cycle through palettes and brightnesses effortlessly to change the look of the backgrounds, based on whether it’s day or night. In full daylight the landscapes look bold and beautiful. In darkness, the light pours through the windows. In twilight, it feels just like coming out of a nightclub at 5am… The day/night element of Seiken Densetsu 3 is definitely a very interesting gameplay/graphical feature.

The only thing that lets this game down – graphically, and overall – the only weakness in this otherwise flawless game, is a limitation of the Super Nintendo itself. It’s called “Sprite Tearing” and it occurs when there are too many sprites being displayed on one line on the screen. It results in some of the sprites ‘tearing’, or just disappearing, when they line up in certain places on the screen. The SNES‘s graphics chip’s limit is half to blame. The other half of the blame goes to Squaresoft, who decided to just live with it. But then Seiken Densetsu 3 probably wouldn’t be half the game it is without all that stuff flying around on-screen. So it was worth just accepting that glitch. When you’re playing the game you hardly notice it, unless it affects the item ring (which it does from time to time), but when you’re trying to get good grabs the sprite tearing can be a real pain because it makes the grabs look bad. Which is why I’m bitching about it… Sprite Tearing apart – Seiken Densetsu 3 is an otherwise perfect action RPG. I cannot fault it.

Seiken Densetsu 3 Week
Seiken Densetsu 3, Super Nintendo [Part 1]
Seiken Densetsu 3, Super Nintendo [Part 2]
Seiken Densetsu 3, Super Nintendo [Part 3]
Seiken Densetsu 3, Super Nintendo [Part 4]
Seiken Densetsu 3, Super Nintendo [Part 5]

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seiken_Densetsu_3

Seiken Densetsu 3 Bosses 17 - God-Beast Zable-Fahr (Darkness)

Seiken Densetsu 3, Super Nintendo [Part 3]

One mistake I made when I first played Seiken Densetsu 3 was: I didn’t know where the magic spells were. This is probably a common mistake among first time players.

You have to press ‘down’ from the item menu ring to find and use your magic spells, and I probably played the first twenty levels or so without using my character magic at all. If you’re going to give this great game a try for the first time, don’t make the same mistake that I did. Press down to use your magic (and spirits) when the item ring is visible. Pressing up and down cycles through them. The same system as is used in shops for buying and selling. It does take some getting used to although you can quickly switch characters using the L and R buttons, which is useful in shops and essential in combat.

I did use magical items though, and Seiken Densetsu 3‘s item list is wonderfully constructed. The whole structure of the magic combat system is beautifully designed, revolving around elements (such as fire, ice, earth, storm, etc.), and lightness and darkness. The idea being: you counter certain types of magic with the opposite element. So if a boss is hammering you with dark magic he’s probably weak to light magic. Fire beats ice – that kind of thing. It’s the key to making certain battles winnable.

If, during combat, one of your three characters is knocked unconscious you can bring them back to life using Angel’s Grails – healing items that revive your characters with full HP and Magic Points. Only if all three of your party are knocked out at the same time does the game end, so reviving characters while you’re fighting keeps you in the game. In one boss battle I had (I think the last one), I had two characters knocked out on zero and one left with just 9 Hit Points. Somehow I managed to revive everyone and win the battle. It was a triumphant victory snatched from the jaws of defeat… Seiken Densetsu 3‘s combat makes you feel triumphant when you win, which is what great video games are all about. But you have to respect it, otherwise it will teach you a lesson…

The adventure itself takes place on a “World Map”, which begins locally, with a few quests to undertake on foot and – strangely – by cannon. A bit of Dungeon Crawling to build levels… Eventually you gain access to a floating turtle, called “Booskaboo”, which allows you to swim to other continents, opening the game up. And later a legendary flying dragon called “Flammie”, which allows you to fly anywhere quickly on the map, opening the game up further. The different transport systems in Seiken Densetsu 3 are a lot of fun. Just running around is a blast…

PS. The flying Flammie sections would have made a good sub-game in themselves. I think Squaresoft missed a trick there. Someone should make/hack one and become a legend in the process… 🙂

Seiken Densetsu 3 Week
Seiken Densetsu 3, Super Nintendo [Part 1]
Seiken Densetsu 3, Super Nintendo [Part 2]
Seiken Densetsu 3, Super Nintendo [Part 3]
Seiken Densetsu 3, Super Nintendo [Part 4]
Seiken Densetsu 3, Super Nintendo [Part 5]

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seiken_Densetsu_3

Seiken Densetsu 3 Bosses 15 - God-Beast Dolan (Moon)

Seiken Densetsu 3, Super Nintendo [Part 2]

Probably the ‘deepest’ thing about Seiken Densetsu 3 is the magic combat system. Yes, you can hack away with swords and claw away with, erm, claws, but you can also bring up what they call the “Ring Menu” and cast magical spells. And – when you’re fighting against some enemies and bosses – it pays to know how to use magic well. Or you will get the stuffing knocked out of you… It’s all about using ‘buffs’ and ‘de-buffs’ – trying to counter the enemy by watching what he’s doing, and casting magic on your sword to create more damage. The combat system in Seiken Densetsu 3 is definitely more subtle than just ‘hacking away’. It is a fight to the death with devastating opponents in a game of wits, speed and magic knowledge!

Some of the boss battles are just incredible. There are around 20-23 major boss fights in Seiken Densetsu 3 (depending on which party you’re using), and they’re all classics. In terms of graphics, moves, strategies, and visual effects – the boss battles are spectacular. Some of the bosses gave me nightmares, they were so tough! And some made me apprehensive to take on again, because they gave me such a good beating the first time around that they seemed impossible to beat. They weren’t though. You just have to know what you’re doing.

One thing I haven’t done yet, that I still want to do (but am apprehensive about), is: take on the secret “Super Boss” – The Black Rabite. I read somewhere that it has “a million HP”, although that was on a forum and was just over-excited conjecture. I do know that The Black Rabite is very tough to beat because it can cast every magic spell in the game, including Level 99 Great Demons, “Ancient” and other devastating, high-level magic spells. So you have to take it on with a mature party (Level 50 and above). And with a good understanding of magic-use tactics and team settings in Seiken Densetsu 3.

There are a few different ways of taking The Black Rabite out, although it can take a long time (30 mins or more, depending on your luck and skill). But you first have to find it among the twisting cave tunnels of the final level (which is frankly a ballache). Because finding The Black Rabite’s lair does take some back-tracking, and can only be done at a certain point in the game (you have to complete one of the final boss battles to open the route to the monster), so it can easily be missed.

The Black Rabite is a cool hidden boss though. Just look on YouTube to see how much it has caught the imagination of games-players.

And Rabites have been a constant throughout the Mana series so The Black Rabite must be the crowning glory of the Rabite species. A fitting opponent for advanced players.

Seiken Densetsu 3 Week
Seiken Densetsu 3, Super Nintendo [Part 1]
Seiken Densetsu 3, Super Nintendo [Part 2]
Seiken Densetsu 3, Super Nintendo [Part 3]
Seiken Densetsu 3, Super Nintendo [Part 4]
Seiken Densetsu 3, Super Nintendo [Part 5]

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seiken_Densetsu_3

 

Seiken Densetsu 3 Bosses 21 - Black Rabite

Seiken Densetsu 3, Super Nintendo [Part 1]

Considered by many to be a Super Nintendo classic, but having never been released outside of Japan, Seiken Densetsu 3 (1995) has – in the past – been something of an enigma. A must-play game, but not available in English. That was: until an unofficial fan translation came out that changed all that.

Seiken Densetsu 3 is the third game in the Mana series (following Secret of Mana on the SNES (aka Seiken Densetsu 2), and Final Fantasy Adventure on the Game Boy (aka Seiken Densetsu)), and it is one of those games that I had played before (although not for more than a few hours, just to get a taste of it), and had planned to play more of, at some point in future.

Well, I finally got around to playing it properly recently, and managed to complete (and grab) the entire game over the space of 37 hours, and have to say that it was a very memorable experience! And quite draining, because some of the boss battles are extremely tough.

Seiken Densetsu 3, in some respects, out-Zeldas Nintendo‘s Zelda. Which is really saying something!

It’s a real-time Role-Playing Game, with melee and magic combat – just like Zelda – but, in my opinion, is more detailed, involving and challenging. Maybe not quite as perfectly polished or as charming as Zelda, but definitely a graphical treat, with elegant, evolving gameplay and a superb challenge on top of that.

I took more than eleven thousand grabs on my playthrough, and have whittled them down to around 500 screenshots. And – rather than publish them all in one big lump – I thought I’d make a short series out of them. And in each blog post: talk about something specific and interesting about this very special game.

I’m going to post them in chronological order, and here is the first instalment.

Enjoy.
The King of Grabs

Seiken Densetsu 3 Week
Seiken Densetsu 3, Super Nintendo [Part 1]
Seiken Densetsu 3, Super Nintendo [Part 2]
Seiken Densetsu 3, Super Nintendo [Part 3]
Seiken Densetsu 3, Super Nintendo [Part 4]
Seiken Densetsu 3, Super Nintendo [Part 5]

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seiken_Densetsu_3