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Forums > Submission Feedback > threetimes's Torneko: The Last Hope review

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Author: psychopenguin
Posted: July 28, 2009 (04:32 PM)
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I can't remember why or when I bought this game, but it was worth every penny I might have paid for it. I know that some people would find it strange that a PS1 dungeon crawler featuring a fat married-with-child grocer could be an attractive prospect, but it is. This game is perfect. Not, I hasten to add, if you are looking for an enthralling story or eye- blinding graphical effects. The game delivers straightforward yet utterly addictive gameplay. It is the gaming equivalent of bread and cheese. But the very best, crisp, fresh bread, and the strongest, most flavoursome, mature cheese: basic and delicious.

This is terrible. Okay, one, it's not the best idea to start off with such a strong comment in the first sentence. Better off finishing with that. Two, this game is not perfect. If it was, there'd be no need to mention its possible flaws in the next sentence. Your credibility is shot right there and you end up sounding like a fanboy.

The story, such as it is, centres around the Joy Chest which was recovered by Torneko (in a previous game) and is lodged in his village for safe keeping. The chest, as its name suggests, ensures that joy is felt by everyone and the village is a happy place. But then, disaster strikes, and monsters start appearing. Torneko is summoned to see the king and so the game begins.

Such as it is?

He has to travel through an "odd field" and here the gameplay is explained. Torneko starts every dungeon with no experience and only a very few items. He finds new weapons, including bows and swords, as well as shields and items, such as healing and attack herbs, magic scrolls and more, as he traverses the dungeon. These finds are random, as is the dungeon layout. Enemies appear onscreen and he can attack them or avoid them and try to find his way to an exit point which leads to the next level of the dungeon.

The first field dungeon only has three levels but things get very much more challenging. The visit to the king yields new tasks and new dungeons including a graveyard, a bank, a cellar, and others. Each of these, once completed, allows more possibilities to open up. There is a bank where Torneko can store the money he makes, a storehouse where he can store more and more items and equipment, a blacksmith where weapons can be improved and upgraded, and then this is where things get very interesting indeed.

As the game progresses, you discover more and more possibilities and challenges. These are introduced gradually so you never feel overwhelmed, but eventually you can have access to many different dungeons and areas in the village, and you can take more items into the dungeons with you in storage pots. You can find a large range of pots, though you have to identify some of them first. There are pots for healing, for exploding, and, most importantly, for melding, so you can combine weapons and shields. These have a range of different embedded skills and abilities allowing you to make uber-powerful weapons, designed never to break, or to rust.

You can use thief pots to steal things from the shops that appear in some dungeon levels guarded by an extremely powerful demon. Oh this is fun! If you try to leave the shop without paying, perhaps by hacking a hole in the wall and slipping away quickly, a cry of "thief" will go up and dozens of the demons will appear and destroy you, BUT if you use a thief pot and suck up a few choice items you can walk out of the shop without fear! Use your skills cleverly and you gain titles for your efforts. Of course as you progress things become more and more difficult and knowing when to retreat before you get killed is part of the fun. Though actually you also gain titles for being killed in various gruesome ways, so defeat is not always a bad thing!

Another clever addition to the fun factor is that suddenly, without warning you might enter a monster room. This means that the whole room is packed to the rafters with sleeping monsters. Enter the room and they all wake up and start attacking you. Figuring out the best strategy to use when this happens is great. Do you fire arrows that can penetrate walls and a line of monsters from afar, or just rely on sword and shield skills that you have developed. Of course the rewards for such a room are great too, as there will always be lots of nice items left behind, but you also have to beware for a series of nasty traps which can cause you to sleep, or teleport, or become confused amongst other mean things.

Great description of the gameplay but you bounce around so much from idea to idea that it's like you are being unstructured for the hell of it. It's hard to read. And you didn't mention the battle system really. Is it turn based or what?

The music is always good, (and if you've played Dragon Quest 4 you'll recognise Torneko's theme) and the animation and design is right for this kind of game: clear, straightforward, and no frills. All the weapons are individually drawn and as Torneko wields, say a dragon sword, or uses a mirror shield you can clearly see that these the ones he is using. If he changes his equipment, it is obvious too. Every item and pot and scroll and herb and ring is clearly depicted, and although the dungeons are sometimes fairly repetitive in their design, this is not a fault, since the enemies are varied and interesting as are the variety of attacks and strategies that can be learned.

Yikes. "these the ones he is using"? You then say 'if he changes his equipment' even though you just mentioned him wielding a dragon sword.

Once the main part of the game is completed, and the village and kingdom restored to tranquillity, another series of challenges becomes available and Torneko can explore new and very difficult dungeons, and he can chose to change into a mage or a warrior. His appearance changes and the skills and weapons he can use change too. This part of the game is incredibly hard to complete. The mage enters a dungeon and randomly learns and relearns his spells until hopefully you get them all. He can save certain spells on scrolls, but cannot use any weapons. The warrior cannot use spells and has to learn sword and shield skills by performing certain predetermined, but not always obvious, actions; for example, by killing 5 zombies he will learn a zombie sword skill, which then can be equipped to a sword. If this sound complicated it is! In fact no-one seems to have managed to learn all the warrior skills, or earned all the titles.

This sounds like a FAQ.

The story part of the game comprises about a third of what is available, and meeting the challenges of completing all the dungeons and all the tricky quests: getting all the titles and all the money and all the skills, is almost impossible to achieve. But you will have endless fun trying. Because the gameplay is so clever and well constructed it is something that you will never tire of. No matter how many gourmet games you consume, this game has something incredibly reassuring and satisfying that makes you able to go back to it day after week after year, and never feel satiated by its basic but delicious charms. Oh and you do eat a lot of bread, since Torneko, being a fat merchant, has to keep his strength up in the dungeons, and if he gets too hungry and runs out of bread, he is in trouble.

Seems an odd place to mention the bread thing.

This is a wonderful game, that is sadly neglected and misunderstood because is not based on increasing levels, but on increasing skills and weapon strength. You only have Torneko himself, with no allies or group to assist you, and it is hard. Yet, its sweet, addictive gameplay can keep you satisfied for a very long time.

1) Why would it be neglected and misunderstood based solely on those aspects? It's like you wanted to make two points yet threw them together for some reason. It didn't sell any copies for a lot of reasons.

2) "that is sadly neglected and misunderstood because is not based on increasing levels, but on increasing skills and weapon strength." I think you're missing an 'it' there

3) No comma after yet. ;)

This review is promising and has a lot of good information to share, but it needs to be edited and possibly rewritten entirely with the same basic ideas in mind.

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Author: zippdementia
Posted: July 28, 2009 (06:47 PM)
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Very solid feedback from Penguin. I pretty much second everything he's said

Note to gamers: when someone shoots you in the face, they aren't "gay." They are "psychopathic."

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Author: psychopenguin
Posted: July 28, 2009 (08:53 PM)
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See, I'm not all bad. I should have probably just broken true's review down like this, too.

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Author: zippdementia
Posted: July 28, 2009 (09:01 PM)
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Aw, I never thought you were bad. For me, it's very possible to have heated discussions without feelings about the participants getting mucked up in it.

Note to gamers: when someone shoots you in the face, they aren't "gay." They are "psychopathic."

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Author: threetimes
Posted: July 29, 2009 (03:21 AM)
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Yeah, now that it's laid out like that, it's gonna need some major reworking. I forgot to add the tagline, which was about the bread thing, but maybe that's just as well. And I really didn't explain how the gameplay works with the way that the enemies stay still if you do!

Don't panic!

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Author: sashanan
Posted: July 29, 2009 (03:22 AM)
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I'd agree there's a clash between calling the game perfect and then immediately summing up flaws and a bit of mockery at the story ("such as it is"). The latter works if you point out the story has no relevance to the quality of the game, but I'm not so sure that's what you meant to say.

Normally I'd say "simply avoid the term perfect" and you'd be set, but you did give the game a 10, so obviously you thought it was pretty outstanding. That's fair enough - I've given 10s to games that weren't strictly perfect because they did everything right for *me*, but if that's the case here it's an opinion you'll want to defend.

Not much to add to what was said otherwise.


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