Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Gaming of 2009

Well, with the new year coming on, I figured I should dedicate a post to the games I played this year, whether I completed them or not, as well as giving some of my thoughts on them. Sure, the list will probably miss some games I've played, but I hope that at least what is here is an enjoyable read.

I also apologize for the lack of images, but as I can't get the title screen for everything I've played, I feel including any images would seem unbalanced. Anyway, enjoy!

Dragon Stomper
One of the original RPGs I could find on consoles when I dug around, the game is very definitely archaic in its setup, but showed a lot of creativity for its day. I ended up having to play it a good handful of times to get enough money and levels to be able to take out the dragon, but I finally managed!

Bang Bead
I can't say I completed this game, since, like fighters it has multiple characters (6 I believe). It's a very interesting Pong-like game where you hit the ball back and forth between your side and the CPU (or 2P) side, trying to knock out the stars forming a wall there so that you can knock the ball through and score a point. With really silly characters, and a fast pace, I play this off and on and have beaten one of the endings.

Dragon Quest 2
After I beat Dragon Quest 1 late last year, I went ahead onto Dragon Quest 2. Adding two new characters, and a slightly more detailed story, it was about as enjoyable as the first game. However, the last maze is a major pain in the butt, and I was sure glad when I finished the dang thing.

I ended up cheating to beat this, as otherwise I never would have managed. The music plays continuously somewhere between 3-5 notes, and the battle system, though set up like Ys, is certainly not streamlined like that game, making it very difficult to play. Also, it's way too easy for the creatures to get up behind you and kill you before you can do much about it. Not fun.

Princess Maker 2
I suppose you could count this as complete, as I did several endings. It's a great little management game, wherein you raise a girl up to be a Princess (or other careers depending on how well/badly you do). It takes a lot of time, but is a lot of fun if you like this sort of game.

Magic of Schereazade
An interesting game with a lot of amazing details for it's time period, it wasn't my favorite play of the year, but I enjoyed it enough to have come away with some fond memories (mostly of the discussions between your companions between carpet rides and the old man under the sea). It's a mix of a typical RPG and an Action RPG, and will definitely take you several hours to complete.

Playing this again, I realize: I still suck at it. I always get knocked back and into pits by those annoying bats. I probably will never complete the game, but it's kind of fun to mess around with old platformers sometimes and see how I do. Plus, I love the fact you end up outside the gate at the beginning, and it opens, as well as the background.

Destiny of an Emperor/Tenchi wo Kurau
An old Capcom RPG that it seems a lot of people don't know about. It's a fascinating mixture of both strategy and normal RPG, and has a story based somewhere in the timeline that Romance of the Three Kingdoms is in. It was either based off a manga, or made alongside it, of the same name, though that never left Japan. It was difficult to complete, and I sometimes had to go back and rethink how I was fighting the bosses, but I enjoyed it very much.

Shadow Hearts: Covenant
After losing near to 60 or 80 hours of data when my brother accidentally deleted this years ago, I was quite pleased to be able to play, and complete the game at long last, with BOTH endings (I then went back and viewed Shadow Hearts' second ending). It left me thinking at the end of the game, about life and such things, which I have to say I haven't done with a game for a very very long time.

Shadow Hearts (Hidden Ending)
I have to say that I still think the first ending is most fitting, and I completed that a while ago. However, I decided I should get the final ending on this game this year too.

Suikoden III
Well, I finally played, and beat, this game. I still didn't like it as much as I did the first two, and a lot of the issues that turned me off to it the first time, turned me off to it this time as well. However, I did enjoy several of the characters, and the story was pretty decent. I'm interested to play more of the series again, but am a little sad that a certain character won't be coming back in any games which take place after the timeline of game 3...

Star Ocean: Till the End of Time
I'm not done with this yet. Stuck in the Arena again, as always, and want to get as many trophies as I can on this playthrough. I think I'm like 80 or 90 hours in, too! So far I'm really enjoying the game, and the part a lot of people are probably talking about with the 'WTF?' only made me sort of raise a brow, then I shrugged. I must say I still find Cliff the most entertaining character in the game, though, and after I get Sophia's ending I intend to do his.

Chaos Legion
I still can't beat this damn game! I'm just not very good at this sort of game, whatever you want to call it. Even if I raise my Legions' skills really high, my own ineptitude tends to get me killed. Probably I'll drag it out again later and grind some more for the Legions stuff, but I don't know if it will help.

Samurai Shodown IV
I think it's four. It's in 3D and really only has Haohmaru as a playable character from the first games left. It's an alright game, but rather bland and mediocre when compared to the rest of the series. Also, the jagged, boxy 3D really contrasts with the gorgeous 2D images of some of the characters put in.

Super Robot Wars Alpha
Well, I have no idea what's going on, but it kept me snickering when I did know, and was easy to get into. I'm now interested in eventually getting into more of the series when I have a chance, though I haven't beaten this game yet. Still, great when I need a break from serious stuff.

Still not an easy game, but I still want to work on it. I'll get through it eventually, just you watch! I like how it's an easy dungeon crawler, in that you get to keep levels and such, and love the art style, as cute as it is. The story is also very simple, and is rather amusing because of it. I'll have to note, I love my Dreamcast.

Aero Fighters
I love to dig this game out and play it. It holds so many good memories of summer to it, and is still just fun as heck to play for the silly dialogue. Getting through the game is no easy task, however, and I have no idea why we fight a giant pudding monster at the end! And giant apes! And... yeah, it's a strange game.

Popful Mail
Again, I'm not great at this sort of game, so I mostly cheated my way through. Then, my emulator crashed and took hours of work with it, so I just watched the ending. What, I barely made the platforms the FIRST time through! It's still a funny little game, and Mail is still an amazing character. Tatt and Gaw also amuse me, though Gaw sort of gets on my nerves. Slicky, however, needs to be locked away away from everything so he can't pull anymore MacGuyver's...

Overall, these are the things I spent most of my time on this year. I suppose most are RPGs, eh? Aw well, I do love me some RPGs. Next year, I hope to log several more hours on RPGs, look into more classic games I didn't get to play, and just generally try to keep up with gaming as best as I can!

So, since I probably won't post again till 2010 (I will be busy tomorrow and so posted tonight), Happy New Year a bit early and enjoy the tail-end of 2009!

- Ryochan

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Dragon Quest/Dragon Warrior - Chunsoft/Enix/Square - 1986/1989

One of the first RPGs I remember watching my Brothers play, other than Final Fantasy, was Dragon Quest (Dragon Warrior in the US until later installments). Although I didn't remember a good deal of the game, and over the years have gotten into RPGs even more than they ever were, I hadn't actually sat down to play it until recently, when I decided I wanted to see what some of the earliest and original RPGs were like.

Dragon Quest was put out back in 1986 in Japan, and 1989 in the US. It was released originally by Enix (now of SquareEnix) in Japan, and by Square in the states.

In the game you play as a Descendant of Erdrick, the brave warrior who slew the Dragonlord years and years before, and are told that the Dragonlord has returned and stolen the Orb of Light, the one thing which has been holding the world in peace since the time of Erdrick. You must now go forth and retreive the Orb, and defeat the Dragonlord. And with this information, the game begins.

Other than this piece at the beginning of the game, and any information supplied in the booklet, the story isn't what you could call deep, but it isn't totally un-involved either. Every town is populated with multiple NPCs who, when spoken to, give you tidbits of information. Some of this information isn't very useful in the way of helping you figure out where you need to go next in the game, but it fleshes out the world and gives you a lot of hints.

The gameplay in Dragon Quest is fairly simple overall. In towns, you can use one button to call up your menu, which includes commands like Talk, Search, Stairs, and others which allow you to talk to NPCs, buy armor, weapons and items, use any magic you can use outside of battle, or stay at an Inn. The other button cancels the menu screen in case you called it up on accident, and you can even pause the game, although this isn't very useful in this game.

Outside, on the world map, as you walk around you will get into random battles. These will call up a small screen where you can see your opponent, and your menu appears automatically. All the options presented on the battle menu are battle-oriented only and include: Fight, Run, Spell and Item. Most of these options are self-explanitory, and so long as you keep track of how much damage you're doing compared to how much the enemy is doing, and your Magic Points, you shouldn't have any issues with the system.

When you defeat an enemy, you will gain Experience Points and Gold (sometimes even a chest), and after you've gained enough Experience you will level up, and possibly learn new spells to help you on your travels. Each enemy gives different amounts of EXP or Gold, and the second you cross a bridge you will find harder enemies. (Note: The Bridge = Tougher Enemies would become a staple-post for most of the Dragon Warrior games).

One element of the gameplay that stands out is that this game was very much set up to make you have to level grind, as well as travel back and forth across the world map (made easier later when Princess Gwaelin gives you her love, allowing you to teleport back to the castle when you choose, and also the Return Spell), not only to get Keys to open various necessary
doors, but also to save, since the only place you can save is the castle.

I can't say a whole lot about the music. For the most part, I had it turned off while I played the game. It isn't that it's bad music, far from it, but it's very repetitive, especially when one tends to spend a lot of time playing, or level grinding.

There's also not a lot of variety in the music. I remember only three tracks, one for towns and the world map, a revised rendition of that for the battles, and the music when you save. Taken seperately, they're each very nice in their way, with the battle music quickening the pulse a bit, the town and regular world map music is very slow and almost attempts to make you feel like you're on a long journey, and the save music has a nice little ring letting you know the game is saving, while also sounding much like fanfare for you returning.

There's nothing special about the sounds in Dragon Quest, I'm afraid. In fact, the only ones I really recall are for when you go up and down stairs/into caves, and that's a sort of ch-ch-ch sound. The others are really basic whooshes or thumps, as one dodges or attacks. But, I have recalled that up and down sound since I was little and still like it, so maybe there are some special things about it?

Overall, I like the graphics of Dragon Quest. Although not highly shaded, a lot of personality was put into the monster
sprites, as well as the regular ones, and it's easy to identify everything on screen, which is always a good thing. During
battles, there is also a background for the creatures to rest upon (sadly, the same one no matter what area you're in),unless you're in a dark dungeon, where the creature shows against a black background (also occurs in one town overun by evil).

Unfortunately, I found nothing to really wow me, and I don't remember ever actually being wowed when it came out either. Still, they're colorful and I really do love the afore mentioned personalities!

Even with the fact this game has repetitive music, and I know what I'd hear from today's gamers, I really enjoyed playing through Dragon Warrior, though I must say: Thank goodness for Walkthroughs. Even back in the day, the game wasn't easy, and I remember giving up on it in frustration at not knowing where to go, and not being able to get my Brothers to tell me either.

But those aside, as I said, I enjoyed the game. It was challenging, without frustrating me too much (I only had maybe one section I grumbled over the intense grinding), I enjoyed the little tidbits that the NPCs gave out about the world and it's history, and when it was all over, I felt accomplished.

Oh, and yeah, I did learn some stuff about older RPGs and where they began... Ah, how wonderful!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Awesome Video Game Character! - Girl Edition

Growing up as a girl gamer back in the 80s and 90s, it was a little difficult to find people to talk to about games. My Brothers, a driving influence into me even getting started on games, were a decent source, but they had their own lives and friends and didn't always have time to talk to me, as well as having slightly different interests in gaming a large portion of the time.

Due to this, and the fact that most guys considered video games to be only for males (with the exception of Barbie, which most girls would "never" realize were horribly designed games), it was difficult on me at points. I'd later develop some really good friends, of both genders, who had the same interests as me, and would have a lot of fun. But, before that, I had to deal with the strange looks I got for being a girl, and knowing games.

I also had the unfortunate, or maybe fortunate, issue of hating the idea that girls were weak and had to be saved. Zelda only impressed me in the animated cartoon, after all, because she'd at least try very hard to defend herself. Rosa was awesome, despite getting kidnapped repeatedly, because she could still deal out a decent amount of damage, but it was truly hard to find a good, strong woman at the time. In fact, the first one I actually remember was Chun-Li, and although I do like her, she was never a favorite.

It wasn't until I really started hitting up arcades, and found this one particular cabinet, that I found a girl I truly and utterly loved, because not only was she still gentle, but she was strong as well. That girl, you ask? Well...

Nakoruru - Samurai Shodown

Yes, that's right, one of my favorite girls of all time is Nakoruru from SNK Neo-Geo's Samurai Shodown (Samurai Spirits in Japan) fighter.

When I played Samurai Shodown, I was introduced to a woman who was not only gentle and pretty, but could hold her own against the many men who were also fighters in the game, using her speed, her sword, and the assistance of her pet hawk, Mamahaha.

Yes, this was the kind of woman I liked, and it really didn't hurt that the game itself was awesome. It also didn't hurt that, in further games, her Bust side would be this almost demonic half who used a wolf, and was just about as awesome as the original Slash half.

Now, even as time has gone on, and even as my list of favorite females has grown, Nakoruru is one of those who doesn't leave it. She really does hold a special place in my heart, and it was really too bad that she was taken out in later versions of Samurai Shodown. Still, I can always go back to the games she was in, and enjoy kicking some butt.

Below, I've included some pictures of Nakoruru for your enjoyment. Do enjoy!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Princess Maker 2 - PC/DOS - Gainax

There have been simulation games based off of most everything out there, from simulating life, to ant colonies, sports teams, business of various sorts, and in Japan, you find another assortment, one of which allows you to raise a little girl into a woman who can take on varying careers of life, such as a Heroine, a Wife, and even a Princess.

This series is pretty aptly named Princess Maker.

Now, I unfortunately don't know a great deal about the series, but I've been able to play a few of the games in Japanese, and have recently been able to play the second game, which is the only one I am aware of with an English translation.

As far as simulation games go, Princess Maker is extremely easy to learn, being handled almost entirely of visual menus, though the small intricacies of the system are really only understandable when you understand the dialogue (thank goodness for the translation) and as you play the game more and more often.

At the very beginning of the game, you will of course choose your name, as well as your birthday, before selecting your 'daughter's' birthday, name and blood type (a distinctively Japanese touch), before you are greeted with an opening cinematic, which, like most of the game is done with an almost pastel, water-colored set of images.

This story tells of a King who became so corrupt that God sent the Lord of the Dark World to destroy his kingdom. But a hero (you) stops the Dark Lord, and when asked why, cannot answer. Weakened by the hero, the Dark Lord leaves, and the King promises to repent and offers the Hero a place to live, as well as a retainment fee of 500 Gold a year, to stay in the kingdom and help watch over it.

A while later, the hero sees a light on a nearby hill, and checking it out, he is given an 8 year-old girl to raise by one of several watcher gods (a different one based off of whatever Zodiac sign you have made your daughter by her date of birth), who wish you to raise her into a good woman.

For the next ten years of the game (give or take a few weeks or months based on your daughter's birthday) you will assign your daughter three blocks of two week goals (approximately), which range from education, to work, to adventure, to rest (which is either her heading into town with or without an allowance, or on a vacation to either the mountains or the sea) and bring down her stress levels.

Each goal, of course, affects other things. Education raises your daughter's stress, but can teach her various skills, such as cooking, cleaning, or even defense and attack, but they can also lower other skills (for example, cleaning can potentially lower things such as strength or even how people perceive you). Jobs, which also affect your stats and increase stress, can gain money if your daughter is able to do them properly (and will highly raise stress if she fails). Adventure allows you to defeat evil, necessary for the Dark Lord endings, and can net you a bit of money or items. Rest I've already mentioned.

The game itself can take a while to play through, of course, but with there being multiple endings (74), different events based on the course you take with your daughter, and the fact you can't raise all of your stats in one game, Princess Maker 2 has a lot of replay value.

Also, if you won't mind a slight deviation, I'd like to comment that the game has a lot of little details in it. Things like the fact your daughter's portraits and the main image you see of her change as she ages, based on what dresses or clothing she is wearing, and so on. The portraits are also affected by her mood, and can tell you if she's sick or stressed.

There are also a lot of tiny animations which play when your daughter is studying or working, as well as full images for the vacations and several of the endings. And on the case of studying and working, the animations can have several things going (such as working at the inn, you can drop the bedding when you fail and she looks miserable, or you can be cleaning the floor there, and etc.) It really makes for a lot of fun in trying out things so you can see what the different animations look like based on successes and fails.

Unfortunately, for whatever reason, the copy I got had no sound (this may be how it actually is, but I'm not sure), but it really doesn't take away from the game all too much considering it is still charming and fun, but for some it may make them reconsider playing it.

Overall though, if you're one of those people who like simulation games, and you're looking for one that's simple to grasp, but has a lot of small intricacies to keep you learning from every game of it you play, this one may be for you. It's charming, has a lot of replay value, and you'll be finding out little secrets almost every game you play of it.

So, if you get a chance, check in on out!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Magic of Scheherazade - NES Game - Culture Brain and Nintendo

I'm a large fan of RPGs, both older ones and newer ones, so it really isn't surprising that I enjoy digging out ones I have
never played, such as The Magic of Scheherazade.

Released in 1987 (1989 stateside), The Magic of Scheherazade is an action-RPG where you play as the descendant of the great Wizard Isfa, who years before tried to defeat the evil Wizard Sabaron, and thus protect Arabia from him. Failing in this, it is now your turn to take him out, especially since he has gone and taken your lady love, the Princess Scheherazade.

Unfortunately, before you can even begin your quest, your memory is erased and you wake up a little bit confused.
Thankfully, Coronya, a cat-like spirit of time, is there to remind you who you are and what it is you're doing, suggesting that you stop to talk to the people at the village you were so nicely dropped in front of.

Like many old NES games, The Magic of Scheherazade doesn't have a large color pallette, but they do pretty well with what they do have, and the characters that you can get to join you look quite different from one another. There's also several portraits of various NPCs that appear throughout the game, though these will repeat, and sometimes be color swapped for
a named character (example, the old man portrait one sees during the game is also Sabaron, except his has a blue face). Still, the amount of portraits available for the time seems pretty impressive.

Your main character, which you name right before beginning the game (I called him Isfa... Yes, I'm lame), has three attack types at his disposal while on the overhead map (there is also a more normal RPG-like battle screen, which I will go into). One is a sword, which is great for close range or those who are good at action-RPGs, a rod which fires at a distance and is good for enemies you can't easily get near, and various magic spells. All three of these are upgraded as one levels, or goes to different Universities hidden around the world (some are also upgraded by NPCs or finding hidden locations).

Unfortunately, the way the game is set up with the NES controller, one often has to enter the item screen (by pressing Start) and assign what spell they want to use (A button for all spells) or if they wish to use the rod or sword (B button). It's a bit awkward sometimes if you don't know what enemies may be approaching you, or what one needs to use on the bosses, but it can be learned pretty quickly.

Aside from the overhead map battles, there is also, as mentioned, a more generic RPG battle screen. Fading into black, it will display several enemies, and three possible commands to choose from. Fight will take you to a screen where you can choose up to two allies to assist you in battle, and either allow the computer to randomly distribute items, or do it yourself by telling it you aren't happy with the distribution. Run is self-explanitory, of course, and Peace is basically
you bribing the group of enemies (or one group if there's more than one kind on screen) to leave you alone.

In these battles, one can choose just to attack, or to use magic. There's also Troops that can be bought which will do extra damage to the monsters (and quite a bit I might add) and act as another source of HP as they can take damage, and die, as well. Of course, when attacking or using magic, one may only choose one group of creatures if there is more than one type on screen, and each attack will move down the line from left to right, repeating only as it hits the last creature on the right. And as with the original Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy, if you defeat the group before all your attacks are used, it will not move onto the next group, forcing you to think ahead on which group to attack with which characters, and with which spells/attack.

Of course, as one might imagine, the game isn't just about fighting. In fact, one will be spending a lot of time talking to people, and trying to gather items and companions in order to be able to defeat Sabaron. Doing so will take you across around five different worlds, with their own towns and people, and across time as well... Yes, there was a game which did the time travel thing before Chrono Trigger, sorry.

Although almost all the sprites look the same in the towns (there's maybe five or six total), and some of the people repeat the same things as others, there are also pleasant little touches that just make one snicker (such as the old man who says he'll never leave his town which is about to go underwater, and fifty years later, what do you know, he's still there), to make up for the lack of a lot of NPC dialogue.

The story itself is told in small pieces via townsfolk, of course, but mostly by the NPCs you'll pick up throughout the game, each which has a surprisingly unique personality. The carpet rides to a new world at the end of each chapter further develop these characters, and were one of my favorite pieces of the game.

Now, I should also mention that, aside from the main quest, one can find a casino in some of the towns and attempt to gamble to raise their money. I never played in any of them, so I'm not entirely sure what the games in them entail, but they are there for those who enjoy that sort of thing.

Unfortunately, for as charming and unique as the game was, I just wasn't as impressed by it as others have been. I mean, it's not a bad game; The graphics are nice, it has a pretty good story, there's not any slippery controls, but I just felt like the game wasn't sure it knew what it wanted to be. Switching between the action segments, and then going into the regular RPG segments just felt a little disjointed to me and really detracted from my fun with the game.

Oh, and before I forget, I should note that there are three classes one can choose to be in the game (each helping a different stat) but it's probably best to just stick with the magician since it's required so often due to the speed it gives when firing shots from the rod. The Magic of Scheherazade also unfortunately has no battery save, instead relying on very long, clunky, passwords to save your data and reload your game.

So, in the long run, although I appreciate the game for what it is and what it was trying to do (and some of the stuff it did do, like the time-travelling), I just left feeling the game didn't know its own identity, which is a very sad thing indeed. Still, give it a shot if you like old RPGs, as it may just be to your taste more than mine.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Monsters' Den - Free Online Game - Biclops Games & Max Games

Dungeon crawling RPGs have always been hit and miss for me, with some being extremely entertaining to me (The Summoner) and others driving me completely up the wall (Time Stalkers). With this track record, it's not uncommon for me to want to play one, only to find either a good one and want to continue playing, or find a bad one and not touch the genre again for a good while.

Thankfully, when I found Monsters' Den, I found a pretty good little dungeon crawler that, although not highly detailed in its graphics, is still a fun little romp that's not too easy, but not incredibly hard either (unless you're playing on Hardcore difficulty).

So how does it work? Well, it works kind of like the old Dungeons & Dragons die and paper game, just with graphics.

Once you start the game, you're taken to a character creation screen. All four of the characters you may have are chosen for you and you can go with them, or fiddle around with them, deciding on their class (Warrior, Cleric, Mage, Ranger and Rogue), their gender, then a portrait for each character (there's seperate portraits for male and female, totaling around 6 or so per gender), before moving on to select your difficulty level (beginner, standard, hardcore and extreme).

As soon as this is done, you see a small scroll-like background that some text writes itself onto, detailing the basic premise of why your party of adventurers is entering into a dungeon infested with monsters, before you move on to your first randomly generated dungeon.

At first, however, the dungeon is almost fully obscured at the in darkness, except for a green arrow on the pavement telling you which way leads to the level you just came from and the rooms adjoining your current location. Moving the mouse to one of these rooms will cause a red movement arrow to appear, showing the direction you're headed in, and will tell you the information of any sets of monsters which may be in the room (marked on the map, fully visible, by a red X), though it won't tell you what's in the treasure chests (marked by a chest with gold coming out of it, fully visible as well).

There are also two other symbols you'll become used to: Another green arrow, similar to the entrance, which shows the way to the next level (often these are curved) and a glowing orb of light, which will fully heal your HP and Attack Points for a small amount of Points (which are really only useful if you're going for score or on a site that counts them for special things).

On the very bottom of the screen, you'll also notice the level of maze you're on, the percentage of the maze you've explored, and how much of that level of the maze you've cleared (basically explored applies to finding all rooms, and cleared is for defeating all creatures and gathering all treasure). You'll also be able to return to the menu, see your rating (or points), mess with the audio, characters armor and weapons, get hints on the map you're on or read up on some help for how to handle the game. You also see your characters and how many HP (red) and AP (blue) points they have remaining.

As you move around the maze, killing monsters and collecting treasure, you don't gain experience like one would in a normal RPG. Instead, one must constantly juggle their equipment and armor to try to keep their characters from dying in a battle. One only gains a level as they proceed further down into the maze, at which time they can add points into various stats (3
points per level) or gain new skills (11 per class) to assist.

Battle itself is handled on a basic board, with six squares on top for the enemies and six on bottom for your four heroes. At the beginning of each battle, you can move your heroes formation around in case it isn't working as well as you like, then begin the battle. Visual icons show you which skills you can use (they go red if you don't have enough AP), and scrolling
over them will show you how much AP each uses, as well as it's affects.

Each player or enemy moves at specific speeds, and has different weaknesses (yours depends on your armor mostly as far as I can tell) that can be exploited if you pay attention. The speed itself affects who attacks when, and it's a wise person who learns the typical movement order and uses it to make sure their party survives.

As is pretty common in most games of this kind, there is of course various potions that can be used, but only out of battle. Some will give you a boost to different stats the next time you fight, while others heal or revive characters. There is even one which will allow you to bypass a fight with monsters in case you're worn down and don't think you can defeat them.

At the end of each level of the maze, when you head to the next floor, you do get all your HP and AP back thankfully. And in harder modes you can return to the floor before to restore your HP and AP without losing points by using the healing spheres. Also at the end of each level, you get another of those scroll-scrawls, telling you a little bit more about the world and story, though it's never all too detailed.

And pretty much, that's all there is to Monsters' Den.

Although it isn't this huge detailed amount of stuff, there's still plenty of little things to learn (putting points in Endurance raises your maximum HP for example), and one has to be thinking of their next move (especially on higher difficulty settings) if they want to win.

There isn't a large expansive story, as I mentioned, but what's there is very much like the old Dungeons & Dragons, in that it's more just an excuse to go in, fight some monsters, collect some treasure, and work your way down to fighting a big evil so you can be the heroes.

Now, if I could just figure out why it is I have six slots but can only get four characters...