RPGOne is one of the only groups these days, isn’t it. I mean you’ve still got your personal imprints — Stealth, AGTP, Translation Corporation — but those pretty much revolve around one person. (Wait, there’s a group called Revolve, isn’t there?) With RPGOne, I don’t know who the founder was, who the leader is, or what, but they release enough projects from enough different people that it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t seem like there’s a single guiding force behind the group, which is cool.
Anyway, they recently — well, last year; I’m not the zero-day warez fiend I used to be — released a couple translations. One of them’s for a fighting game called Koryu no Mimi. I’m not sure why they took the trouble of translating the entire game and then left the title in Japanese. Stranger still, they hacked the title graphics to read, in Roman lettering, “Koryu no Mimi,” which is one step away from flashing Braille on the screen so blind readers can play along too. Subtitles, gentlemen?
So yeah, it’s a fighting game from Vap, a company known for its uniformly excellent music and, well, their music is good. And in Koryu no Mimi, it is good. That and the satisfaction of punching bikers to death while they’re still on their bikes was enough to keep me playing. But when the second boss of a Final Fight-style beat-em-up comes at you with a shotgun, you’re in trouble. By level three I was being assaulted with a machine gun from a character who half the time would wander off-screen. Meanwhile I’ve got a magical earring and an ineffectual jumpkick. I didn’t make it to the fourth guy, but I’m guessing he drops napalm on you from an airplane.
Shame I didn’t get to see the ending. I wanted to find out if the hero and his love interest would end up together.
Also from RPGOne, and far easier, is Mickey and Donald, a licensed platformer in the grand Capcom tradition: serviceable, even enjoyable at times, but still not really compelling enough to play through over and over again. You can kind of draw the analogy to Mega Man: the first game introduced the basic concept and was pretty solid in retrospect; the second was a huge improvement in presentation (in Magical Quest 2 the graphics were similar but it had an awesome two-player option); and the third polished things up and is considered by some the best in the series. Except Capcom had the sense not to make Magical Quest 7.
Which brings me to God Medicine, an RPG from Konami (which means it probably has good music) translated by AGTP (which means it stands a good chance of being properly punctuated). It’s an RPG that makes fun of RPGs, but, aside from the jokes (and the music), the game itself is an ordinary RPG. In a time — the golden age of cheap, plentiful, PlayStation epics — and to an audience, hip to fan translations, who have to be completely sick of RPGs, it is painfully ordinary. The authors had clearly played tons of RPGs, but would rather make jokes about them than try to think of how they might be improved.
This kind of RPG is a peculiar kind of strategy game, in that all conflicts, even the least consequential, are wars of attrition: against the enemies, against your party, against the patience and goodwill of the player.
What I saw of the script was really good, though. You inherit the souls of the original heroes, who confess they’d rushed through the game and hadn’t accumulated enough experience points. So I might give it another try in spite of myself. Unless that’s some kind of hint that I should wander around building levels if I want to beat the final boss.