Azure Torture

Day 2
I Hate Snow

Anyone who has listened to Spoony Bard knows I am no fan of winter. Due to an insane March snowstorm in my area I got to enjoy the luxury of digging out 3 feet of snow at home and at work– instead of beginning my daily dose of Azure Dreams for the week. After a little over an hour of gameplay I am wondering if I was better off shoveling snow.

I begin this game with the approach I would take to any RPG I would give a crap about… by roaming around town and talking to everyone, looking for clues about what I should be doing and trying to understand the wacky world these people live in. The first thing I noticed? Damn, the girls in this town are just plain UGLY.

I can understand that some Japanese artists can only do so much with the typical “moe” style used in anime, manga and video games, and so they will put their own unique “touches” to their characters. What I want to know is why did this artist think that chicks that look like retarded cabbage-patch kids should be his/her trademark? Even worse, the game seems to be hinting to me that these train-wrecks are supposed to become love interests for the hero. I set off to the monster tower, now knowing that the town is by no means pleasant.

I am greeted by the dumbest looking monster in a JRPG. This is a title that one must strive to achieve, since most monsters in JRPG’s are dumb and/or cute looking. His name is Kewne (no clue on how to say that name without sounding drunk) and he is now my guide to the tower… awwww crap.

Kewne explains to me the meat and bones of this game’s horrible, horrible combat and item management systems, as well as all the annoying things about the tower itself. I haven’t even finished the first floor and I have already said to myself “How is this game NOT trying to screw me over?” Then I entered the second floor.

Instantly upon entry I am hit by a monster for damage over half my health. In another second, wham! Dead. I literally spent 2-3 seconds on the second floor and I died. I moved one space. One.
“Well at least I had a monster egg to hatch!” I thought to myself… too bad when I died I lost my entire inventory. Yup, ALL of it. There is a vault at the hero’s house I should have used… maybe. Needless to say, I won’t touch this again until tomorrow…

Day 3:
Stark Must Die!

After being instantly killed on the second floor, I decided it was time to just buckle down, get back to the tower, get what I can for items, and get out so I could at least have some basic supplies and equipment again. This did not go well.

The first thing I see when I re-enter the tower? The troll that killed me in two shots the last time.

I rush back to the tower again. This time I fight a couple basic slime monster thingies, and then I find what looks like a decent sword.

A bomb goes off and kills me. It seems if that damn monster isn’t around to kill me, I can still get slaughtered by an act of random terrorism. Okay, bad luck I guess… back to the tower I go…

I find a pair of “Star Glasses”… not sure what they do, but I move to the next screen and find not one, but two of the Trolls that killed me.

This can’t end well…

I came to the conclusion that this game is either:

1) Is designed to be technical and challenging
2) Designed so badly that one would think that surely its creators hate people who play video games
3) The reason some people end up with clinical depression?

This is only day 3 people. DAY 3… and for me, technically, it’s only day 2.

Day 4
The Brutal Defeat

After two days of rushing to my death in the monster tower, I realized my approach to the game is totally wrong. I found myself looking online at walkthroughs and even asking Gillman for assistance. Then I realized that I hate this game. A LOT. I’m all for a game that wants to offer challenge to its players… but when a fairly seasoned RPG gamer has to “seek professional help” just to get by, there is a problem. I ran into the same wall when I tried this game in the 90’s, and even after years of broadening my gaming horizons, I still can’t appreciate this game. I decided it was time to tap out of this challenge. I am finished with Azure Dreams- Forever. Also, the otaku in me was begging for me to get back to playing Hyperdimension Neptunia… the mess of Azure Dreams made even a heavily flawed game like Neptunia shine on me.

One thing I’ve noticed while doing the podcast and other wacky stuff for is that the PS one era of gaming is loaded with games like this… odd, experimental titles trying to mix things up and change the typical RPG formula. Konami hit its sweet spot with Suikoden- and then wound up killing the franchise in the following console generation. Squaresoft (now Square-Enix) had lots of these experimental titles, Including Parasite Eve, Vagrant Story, and XenoGears. Some of these games made awesome changes to the typical RPG formula; others just became a mess of confusing stat tracking and menu gazing… or both. Over time and console generations, for better or worse, many titles are sticking to time-tested approaches to game design, or innovating by mixing the good parts of other game genre’s. While some seem to think this stagnates gaming in general, I am starting to think this has also served as a good “crap filter”, to keep the really awful stuff out of our hands.

How about you guys and gals out there? Any thoughts on some oddball RPG’s or other games from the past? Drop us a line or get your blog on and let us know what you think… and as always, we are looking for more goodies (and maybe baddies) from the past for the Spoony Bard Podcast.

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Dark's expert on anime and just about anything else you should not discuss with friends, family, and co-workers. I also play some video games so I can complain about them with Gillman.