Review by ImperialScrolls

Reviewed: 10/30/18

Dem Stats Tho.

Kouryu Densetsu Villgust: Kieta Shoujo is a Japanese role-playing game released in 1992 for the Super Famicom (fan-translated some time ago). It's the first of a duo of titles, with an 8-bit Famicom sequel appearing the following year (yes you read that correctly). I always thought these were licensed RPGs, based on an obscure manga/anime series, but it turns out the games (or at least this game) came first. Whatever the case, this feels like a true tie-in product, with all the stank of Bandai cheapness.

The hero of our story is a young man named Shun. While distracted by his pet rabbit's odd behavior, his girlfriend Michiko is summoned to the fantasy world of Villgust. Shun runs after her, but there's no trace of Michi when he emerges in this foreign land. Shun is, however, immediately joined by four companions who are already embroiled in a quest against a great evil. This foursome comprises just one "party" that Shun ends up leading, as an additional four adventurers are encountered later on. The plot dictates who is active at what times; it's a bit like the two-party system found in the later SNES JRPG Secret of the Stars, and just as poorly implemented. The primary issue is that exactly zero of these playable characters are given interesting personality traits, histories, or abilities. Everyone is completely dull and interchangeable. It's a shame, as the character designs are actually pretty cool. There's what appears to be an arrow-shooting Amazon-mage, a monk martial artist, a "cat-girl" of some persuasion, an odd sort of "werewolf" creature, among others. But it doesn't matter. The game's overall plot is cliché, dialogue between playable characters and NPCs alike is stilted and irrelevant, and there's rarely motivation to continue playing.

In terms of design, Villgust is a pure turn-based JRPG in the vein of Dragon Quest. Dungeons and towns alternate; all are found on an overworld. Battle commands consist of attack, magic, items, defend, and run. Anyone even vaguely familiar with JRPGs will find reading the instruction manual to this one wholly unnecessary. Environments are monotonous throughout the entirety of the gaming experience. The overworld is a cut-and-paste jumble of green, trees, and water. Nothing distinguishes one town from the next. Dungeons are comprised primarily of straightforward pathways, featuring the occasional nook housing a (mostly useless) item or two.

Battles are similarly mundane, and proceed at a glacial pace. Certain characters have the ability to wield magic, though virtually all spells are useless save for those that restore HP or cure poison. Offensive magic is all but guaranteed to miss and buffs have little effect on statistics. Combat's field of view is situated behind the party, similar to that of Phantasy Star II. While the heroes of Villgust are animated during battle, enemies are still portraits (think Final Fantasy but with Amano's gorgeous enemy designs swapped out for generic monster clip art).

To segue into the positive realm, there are a couple of things I like about the game. Characters are drawn in a chibi style that's absolutely adorable. The original soundtrack is also surprisingly notable. It may not be expertly composed, nor does it really "fit" with the game's overall themes, but the tunes here have a consistent mellow vibe that's quite pleasing.

I'd estimate that about half of Villgust's run time is dedicated to level grinding. The developers tried to do something unique here, essentially by creating "level caps" within each dungeon or overworld area. It works like this: as characters level up they begin to earn less experience and gold; eventually enemies stop showing up until a new (and more dangerous) territory is reached. Seemingly the "point" of this system is to prevent power-leveling. It doesn't work well in practice, as it's also essentially impossible to progress if characters are underleved. Many of the later bosses are nigh unbeatable until their respective dungeon is first cleared out. So the best "strategy" is to enter a dungeon, grind on the first floor until no foes appear, do the same to second, and so on. To put it more bluntly, the game essentially requires the player to engage in every single battle and defeat every enemy. Insanity. Oh, and the level cap is seemingly an entirely arbitrary 68. Woof.

Moving on, to things about Villgust that are just plain weird. This game has huge stats, for some reason, meaning that playable characters will have not hundreds, nor thousands, but tens of thousands of HP by game's end. In line with this, expect to see attacks that slice off 15,000 HP each. The menus of Villgust are ugly and utilitarian. In contrast to the agonizing crawl of battle, menus are too sensitive and twitchy, on par with Shining Force. Navigating menus is a pain, due to some nonintuitive design choices. For instance, when one goes to equip a character with new gear, what's already being worn is not displayed. Instead this must be viewed via the separate "status" sub-menu. Conversing with NPCs is generally perplexing as A is used to advance the conversion, but B must ultimately be pressed to end it. Lastly, there are some weird glitchy moments. Barkeepers have no dialogue save for the word "Yes" regardless of location. I experienced several moments of freezing/crashing, including a devastating incident outside of the final boss lair.

Just talking (or writing) about Villgust is exhausting. This is not a well-constructed captivating RPG. It's a painfully linear A-button masher, on par with the likes of Vay and Cosmic Fantasy 2. As a Super Famicom JRPG spelunker I'm "glad" I played it, but I can't imagine recommending this to anyone. Michiko is kinda cute though, huh?

Rating:   2.0 - Poor

Product Release: Kouryu Densetsu Villgust: Kieta Shoujo (JP, 05/23/92)

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