september 21, 2012

Sword of Hope for Game Boy

The Sword of Hope (EU) Selection: Erabareshi Mono (JP)
I was asked to review RPGs on the Game Boy. It's hard because I don't speak Japanese and I don't play RPGs. They take too long. But I did have one RPG as a kid: The Sword of Hope. Its Japanese name is Selection, if it matters, and it was released in Japan at early as 1989. The only RPG I've ever beaten. It took me a long time but it was alright.

I had the Swedish version with Swedish translation. It is renowned for it's very strange translation, similar to how Shadowgate on the NES famously wrote "gä" and "slä" instead of "gå" and "slå". For an adult this may just be fun, but it's hard for a kid to understand why you need to open someone's chest ("bröst") when you see a treasure chest. The Tree Ent is translated as a Tree Ant, etc. I think the badly translated spells and items also make the game harder.

The graphics are really nice for a GB game.

The best thing about the game may be the music. I still hum some of the tunes from this game, such as the church music or the music by the ferry spring. Also, it is a nice little adventure you're on. You visit the excentric magicians trying to figure out how to solve their problems. You get to fight several strange enemies, such as the Vampire Lord, the gold-stealing Troll, and The Shadow. All of them have their weakness against a particular item or spell.

The spells work quite nicely too, and you'll be happy to level up and get new and surprising spells. There is some level grinding involved but it didn't bother me too much. One reviewer on gamefaqs thought it was almost too easy to level up and beat bosses, but as far as RPGs are concerned less is better for me.

There are two flaws. Number one is that when you level up, you still have to fight those stupids moths as in the picture, even though they can't hurt you. Such a waste of time, in my opinion anyways. The second thing that bothers me is how illogical it is sometimes. I ended up just trying every item on everything in every pictures. I did manage to beat it without a FAQ and that's nice for a kid who never played RPGs.
Of course they didn't have FAQs back then, you had to call Nintendo for answers. I would have been too shy to do that. I couldn't believe how people could call strangers on the phone like that.

The game has a password system which works well. There is actually one place in the game where if you don't get it right you are unable to try again, and have to restart from your latest saving point. This may be a bug. You probably want to know that this place is the ferry spring where you are asked such question as "do you prefer blue or green? * yes * no".

A problem for me is that I can't compare this game to other RPGs. Not even Pokemon or Final Fantasy I have played. I looked over the reviews at gamefaqs and decided to give this game 4/5. RPGs feel more like work than play to me, but I suppose that's how it should be. Anyways, I did play it too the end and it seems that battles are a lot faster than if you play other RPGs.

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