NES action adventure or RPG with good storyline

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DRW
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NES action adventure or RPG with good storyline

Post by DRW » Mon Mar 28, 2016 5:31 pm

Action adventure and RPG games are often known for their epic stories. But I noticed that the NES games in that genre don't really have a lot of plot.


Take "Final Fantasy":

Yes, it has a nice backstory. But there isn't really much that happens during the game.
After the first chapter where you save the princess, you basically have one task: Find the four orbs. And that's what you do. There aren't really any unexpected twists. You have your goal and the rest is basically just gameplay.
Then, in the end, the story is advanced one more time when you find out that Garland traveled back in time.

So, there are three places where the story is advanced: Once in the beginning when you start your adventure. Then when you rescue the princess. And in the end when you travel back in time to defeat Garland.
In the meantime, the plot is just as static and non-changing as in "Super Mario Bros."


Now, compare this to "Final Fantasy Adventure" on the Game Boy:

In this game, the plot is always moving. You never know what happens next. It's not just about you walking the land, collecting items. Instead, the next goal is always dictated by what happens in the game:
In one scene, a vampire captures your companion, so you have to get a mirror from a cave.
In another scene, the guy who helped you earlier turns out to be the main bad guy and he captures the girl and escapes in an airship. But she manages to give you the amulet, which is then taken away from you by someone else because a local bad guy turned this person's brother into a bird.

And those are not just side tasks. These story details are all related to your personal mission.
You never just walk around because you have to collect four items. Mostly, you just have a short-term goal and then something happens and your journey goes into a totally different and unexpected direction.


So, my question: Which of the action adventures or RPGs on the NES really have a good plot? Where is the plot actually advanced during the gameplay, like in "Final Fantasy Adventure"?
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Re: NES action adventure or RPG with good storyline

Post by Jedi QuestMaster » Mon Mar 28, 2016 6:45 pm

Final Fantasy II?

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Alp
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Re: NES action adventure or RPG with good storyline

Post by Alp » Mon Mar 28, 2016 7:17 pm

...On the NES, I find that most games lack story, as a restriction of the hardware. Few programmers were skilled enough to implement dictionary-encoding to compress text sufficiently enough.

The best story in an RPG on the NES, I find, is Dragon Quest IV.
The character growth throughout the story, is quite impressive for the era.

Just wait until "Transamnia", time-travel, a constantly evolving story, based on the order you've tackled things, and boobs, lots of boobs! :P

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Re: NES action adventure or RPG with good storyline

Post by Drew Sebastino » Mon Mar 28, 2016 8:32 pm

Alp wrote:Few programmers were skilled enough to implement dictionary-encoding to compress text sufficiently enough.
You're talking about instead of selecting a value for every letter, you're selecting a value for words that are in a premade list?

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Re: NES action adventure or RPG with good storyline

Post by Gilbert » Mon Mar 28, 2016 10:51 pm

Alp wrote: The best story in an RPG on the NES, I find, is Dragon Quest IV.
Best game in the world. Period.
Personal bias included.

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Re: NES action adventure or RPG with good storyline

Post by rainwarrior » Tue Mar 29, 2016 12:29 am

I thought Sweet Home had a pretty interesting plot, though it helped that I hadn't seen the movie first. (Would have helped to have an intro of the player characters though. Maybe worth watching 15 minutes of the movie before starting?)

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Re: NES action adventure or RPG with good storyline

Post by DRW » Tue Mar 29, 2016 1:12 am

Jedi QuestMaster wrote:Final Fantasy II?
I don't know. Is it? What happens in that storyline?
Alp wrote:...On the NES, I find that most games lack story, as a restriction of the hardware. Few programmers were skilled enough to implement dictionary-encoding to compress text sufficiently enough.
Well, these other games don't necessarily lack dialogs. It's just that these dialogs are not used very efficiently: The game world still feels like a static snapshot, not like a dynamic world where things happen.

I made a quick comparison: "Final Fantasy" has circa 26000 characters of in-game text. "Final Fantasy Adventure" has 38000. Both games are 256 KB. So, I would say it is possible to do a game with a good story. Especially if you do an action RPG instead of a turn-based one because in this case, you don't need these huge artworks of the opponents.
Alp wrote:The best story in an RPG on the NES, I find, is Dragon Quest IV.
The character growth throughout the story, is quite impressive for the era.
Is it just the characters that develops? Or is the general plot also dynamic?
Alp wrote:Just wait until "Transamnia", time-travel, a constantly evolving story, based on the order you've tackled things, and boobs, lots of boobs! :P
Time travel is always a tricky thing. If you don't pay attention with that, a lot of nonsense can come out of it. Which is why I prefer "A Link to the Past" with its two intersected worlds instead of "Ocarina of Time" with its two time levels.

By the way, when I say dynamic plot, it doesn't have to be a plot that changes based on user decisions. "Final Fantasy Adventure" for example always plays out exactly the same, but it's dynamic like a movie.

And about the boobs: Make sure to also include some women with midriff-baring outfits. That's the fan service that I personally like best. :mrgreen:

When will the game come out?

And is it an action RPG or a turn-based one?
rainwarrior wrote:I thought Sweet Home had a pretty interesting plot
Games based on movies are cheating. :wink: They take their story from the movie.


Has anybody ever played "Radia Senki"?
The name of the fan translation is "Chronicles of the Radia War". But there is also an actual English prototype which seems to be lesser known than the fan translation. This one is called "Tower of Radia".
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Re: NES action adventure or RPG with good storyline

Post by rainwarrior » Tue Mar 29, 2016 1:19 am

DRW wrote:Games based on movies are cheating. :wink: They take their story from the movie.
Wouldn't be a DRW thread if you weren't making up rules on the fly to disqualify all my suggestions. ;)

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Re: NES action adventure or RPG with good storyline

Post by Bregalad » Tue Mar 29, 2016 1:52 am

Jedi QuestMaster wrote:Final Fantasy II?
God oh no!
The best story in an RPG on the NES, I find, is Dragon Quest IV.
I finished the DS version so I do not know exactly how the NES version plays, but I'm pretty sure the story isn't intense. It might be slightly more revealed than Final Fantasy I, however, not much. Each chapter is interesting in its own, but within each chapter not much plot twists or anything. Also the extremely simplistic battle system kills the story, however interesting it might be.

@DRW Honnestly I doubt you'll find a NES game with a good story. We're talking about the 80s here. A decent story is the best you'll find, and it'll only be here in 2% of all games. Deja Vu, Shadowgate and other Kemco games would probably be a good starting point. Or Portopia, and other sequels which weren't translated from Japanese, and any other investigation game.

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Re: NES action adventure or RPG with good storyline

Post by DRW » Tue Mar 29, 2016 3:02 am

rainwarrior wrote:Wouldn't be a DRW thread if you weren't making up rules on the fly to disqualify all my suggestions. ;)
:mrgreen:
Bregalad wrote:@DRW Honnestly I doubt you'll find a NES game with a good story. We're talking about the 80s here. A decent story is the best you'll find, and it'll only be here in 2% of all games.
O.k., it doesn't need to be Oscar-worthy.
The major detail that I'm looking for is: A story where you don't know what happens next.

In "Final Fantasy", you have the task of finding all orbs. (Or let them shine again or whatever.) And that's what you do.
"Zelda": Find the eight Triforce pieces. And that's what you do.

As I said, "Final Fantasy Adventure" is the perfect example: You never know what happens next. The bad guy actually does something during your adventure. Situations change, people die, plans fail.

That's why I'm curious if anybody has played "Tower of Radia". As far as I see it, this one has an unpredictable story as well.
It starts with some guy appearing and accusing you of being a thief. Then some monsters attack and you two defeat them. Then he believes you that you're not a thief. He takes you to his village where you spend the night. Next day, he tells you that a girl was captured by the thieves. So, you two go to rescue her. But then it turns out that the thieves are her friends and didn't kidnap her, but saved her from monsters.

So, the start of the story seems pretty dynamic.
Also, the intro cutscene is a princess in a plane being chased by a bad guy who is also in a plane. Something that isn't referenced in the actual beginning of the game yet, so those plotlines have to be brought together later.

But I don't know if the plot will stay like this.

I mean, when you play the beginning of "Final Fantasy", you also have hope that it will be a movie-worthy story: Rescuing the princess is just the very first chapter. Who knows what interesting adventures will await the player in the next chapters? Well, bad luck. From now on it's only that boring, static "defeat the four monsters" plot. This is what you do for 99 % of the game. And only then is the story advanced another time when you learn about the fact that you have to travel to the past. But that's it:
Chapter 1: Rescue the princess. Now you can leave the continent.
Chapter 2: Almost the whole game. Defeat the four monsters.
Chapter 3: Garland is still alive. Travel back to the past now.
The end.
Bregalad wrote:Deja Vu, Shadowgate and other Kemco games would probably be a good starting point.
I'm not so fond of these text adventure/click games.
Besides, I've played "Shadowgate" from start to finish some years ago: It has nice scenery, but the story is just as non-existent as in "Zelda": You just walk through this castle and try to find the evil wizard.
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Re: NES action adventure or RPG with good storyline

Post by rainwarrior » Tue Mar 29, 2016 3:16 am

I haven't played the NES version, but if Ultima IV was ported well it should stand up as a pretty good story on the NES. The game was more about actual role-playing, though, the story was driven by your choices, not so much a linear thing like a JRPG.

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Re: NES action adventure or RPG with good storyline

Post by tepples » Tue Mar 29, 2016 5:30 am

Espozo wrote:
Alp wrote:Few programmers were skilled enough to implement dictionary-encoding to compress text sufficiently enough.
You're talking about instead of selecting a value for every letter, you're selecting a value for words that are in a premade list?
Yes, the Huffword approach is one way to do it. Another way is byte pair encoding (BPE)/digram tree encoding (DTE), which several Super NES RPGs reportedly use as well as my NES port of robotfindskitten. Even LZW is technically "dictionary compression", though not so suitable for the NES because the dictionary is built up in RAM over the course of a stream.

Not sure if it counts, but there are plot twists of a sort in Thwaite, even though your goal doesn't change. Gameplay-wise, you know what you're doing, but you don't know who caused the predicament your village is in.

There are two branches to the plot: "fireworks show" and "whodunit", and the game switches to the latter once you lose your first house. The whodunit branch is easiest to follow if you get on it early (lose one house on Sunday or Monday) and then don't lose more than half the houses for the rest of the game.

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Re: NES action adventure or RPG with good storyline

Post by Alp » Tue Mar 29, 2016 6:01 pm

DRW wrote:Well, these other games don't necessarily lack dialogs. It's just that these dialogs are not used very efficiently: The game world still feels like a static snapshot, not like a dynamic world where things happen.

I made a quick comparison: "Final Fantasy" has circa 26000 characters of in-game text. "Final Fantasy Adventure" has 38000. Both games are 256 KB. So, I would say it is possible to do a game with a good story. Especially if you do an action RPG instead of a turn-based one because in this case, you don't need these huge artworks of the opponents.

Time travel is always a tricky thing. If you don't pay attention with that, a lot of nonsense can come out of it. Which is why I prefer "A Link to the Past" with its two intersected worlds instead of "Ocarina of Time" with its two time levels.

By the way, when I say dynamic plot, it doesn't have to be a plot that changes based on user decisions. "Final Fantasy Adventure" for example always plays out exactly the same, but it's dynamic like a movie.

And about the boobs: Make sure to also include some women with midriff-baring outfits. That's the fan service that I personally like best. :mrgreen:

When will the game come out?

And is it an action RPG or a turn-based one?
...and *how* much of Final Fantasy's text is just the names of monsters/items? :P

It's not the monster art that's the problem, it's all that text from the combat system.
(I had drawn some gorgeous monster art for a Dragon Quest clone, that I probably won't be making.)

I have Transamnia's plot typed out in a timesheet, so I can keep track of everything affected, all at once. The main effect on time, is that the player can seduce/impregnate certain NPCs, which affects the world's population in the future (small village, to a sprawling city). There are also several, major story events, that can affect every time period, all the way up to the future.

"midriff-baring outfits", in a world half-filled with naked furries? :P
Well, I'll see what I can do about that, regardless... :wink:

Transamnia started as a hentai parody of Hydlide, to make a better game, with only NROM.

It kind of... became it's own thing, unexpectedly. So it's an action game, where the combat more closely resembles Crystalis, in terms of gameplay.

(We're planning a mapper-enhanced version of the game, featuring full-screen porn CGs, and a number of visual improvements to the original idea.)

As for a release date? *shrugs* No idea right now. We're still discussing the story, and fleshing out the world, and it's different time periods.

...and, then there's the matter of brushing up on ASM... again! O_o
(I did write a neat mapper demo, that displays WIP porn CGs, with bank-switching.)

tepples wrote:Yes, the Huffword approach is one way to do it. Another way is byte pair encoding (BPE)/digram tree encoding (DTE), which several Super NES RPGs reportedly use as well as my NES port of robotfindskitten. Even LZW is technically "dictionary compression", though not so suitable for the NES because the dictionary is built up in RAM over the course of a stream.
Digram encoding is *exactly* how my text compression is set up. It's hand-optimized, too!

I have a 6-bit encoded syllable table, running from $40-$7F, at a fixed-length of 2 bytes per entry.
This way, it's a simple matter of checking $40, and $80 in an entry, to find it's exact index.

Words are different, they can be any length, and make use of a combination of letters and syllables. I've only filled this table with the most commonly used words.

$F0-$FF is reserved for fancy op-codes. Variable Display, Character/Monster/Item Names.
...and, a number of boring textbox commands, I won't list. :P

$00-$3F - raw text
$40-$7F - syllables
$80-$FF - word table

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Re: NES action adventure or RPG with good storyline

Post by DRW » Wed Mar 30, 2016 1:00 am

rainwarrior wrote:I haven't played the NES version, but if Ultima IV was ported well it should stand up as a pretty good story on the NES. The game was more about actual role-playing, though, the story was driven by your choices, not so much a linear thing like a JRPG.
Since I can't just try out a huge RPG in the same way I could try out "Dig Dug", can you please provide some examples of story details from the game, like I did with "Final Fantasy Adventure"?
tepples wrote:Not sure if it counts, but there are plot twists of a sort in Thwaite
You're kidding me, right?
Alp wrote:"midriff-baring outfits", in a world half-filled with naked furries? :P
Are we talking about a normal-looking girl that just happens to have cat ears that could just as well be interpreted as part of her costume (like Foxxy Love)?
Or are we actually talking about anthropomorphic animals (like Lola Bunny from "Space Jam")?
If it's the latter, then sorry, but no amount of boobs or midriff-baring outfits could turn me on in this situation.
Alp wrote:...and, then there's the matter of brushing up on ASM... again! O_o
Believe me when I say: You can do a pretty decent and fast game by using C. Don't believe the people that tell you that you absolutely need Assembly for everything, otherwise you will only be able to do "Pac-Man".
I know this because I'm doing an NES game in C, with only the totally generic low level stuff being written in Assembly.
It has, at any time, four full-sized characters on the screen. And even though I had to split the game logic into three different parts because I have a status bar and parallax scrolling (therefore I have three locations where logic could take too long and slow down the game, instead of just one), my game never lags.
So, I guess a top-down action adventure where the movement functions are much simpler than in a side-scrolling game should be no problem either.
Therefore, all you really have to do in Assembly is the whole communication with the NES ports (PPU etc., i.e. the stuff that's always exactly the same in every game). The rest can be written in C.
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Re: NES action adventure or RPG with good storyline

Post by Bregalad » Wed Mar 30, 2016 3:13 am

DRW wrote: As I said, "Final Fantasy Adventure" is the perfect example: You never know what happens next. The bad guy actually does something during your adventure. Situations change, people die, plans fail.
I completed Final Fantasy Adventure at least 2 times, possibly 3, and its remake Sword of Mana 2 times. I cannot say I particularly cared about the story in neithter of those playthroughs, especially not those of the FFA version. Sure, things happened, but nothing really memorable. The most memories I have of this game are the epic boss fight, the really deep and confusing dungeons, the "full inventory" that prevented me to grab items that enemies dropped, and how you could ride the world around on a Chocobo (the only time you can do that outside of the Final Fantasy main series). I do not remember the story, at all.
I mean, when you play the beginning of "Final Fantasy", you also have hope that it will be a movie-worthy story: Rescuing the princess is just the very first chapter. [...]
Chapter 1: Rescue the princess. Now you can leave the continent.
Chapter 2: Almost the whole game. Defeat the four monsters.
Chapter 3: Garland is still alive. Travel back to the past now.
The end.
You completely left huge parts of the game, notabily fighting against pirates to steal their ships, the long item-fetch quests series in order to finally get the TNT which gives you access to the outer sea, the Bahamut subquest, the airship subquest, and the subquest with the village of Lumpas. The airship is even mandatory technically to finish the game. None of this makes the story any more interesting, but it makes the game more interesting as a whole.
Bregalad wrote:Deja Vu, Shadowgate and other Kemco games would probably be a good starting point.
I'm not so fond of these text adventure/click games.
Besides, I've played "Shadowgate" from start to finish some years ago: It has nice scenery, but the story is just as non-existent as in "Zelda": You just walk through this castle and try to find the evil wizard.[/quote]
Ok, you are correct I might have been too optimistic about this. I felt like Deja Vu had a better story, but I didn't make it far into the game.

You should probably look into FF3 if you haven't already. It's far from the story-centered plot twist of the later games in the series, yet it's much more developed than 1 and 2 combined together, and there is several things that aren't expected. However, don't expect a miracle - it's still a 80's style mostly gameplay oriented game, even though it was released in 1990.

I completely forgot about this game, but suddently it came back to my mind. You should absolutely try Just Breed. The game is very good, and has a relatively developped plot for NES standard. The game is very linear, you basically go from point A to point B and then point C and so on, *HOWEVER* you do never know what will await for you next.

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