Madou Monogatari 123 - MSX / PC98 (1989), Game Gear (1993), PC Engine Super CD (1994), Mega Drive (1996)

Madou Monogatari 1 MSX

Madou Monogatari 2 MSX

Madou Monogatari 3 MSX

All of the original Madou Monogatari (translates as "Story of the Magic Road") games are first person dungeon crawlers like so many computer RPGs, although they're comparable to the dungeons in the original Phantasy Star or Shining in the Darkness for the Genesis. It's pretty clear that the Madou Monogatari games clearly wanted to spruce up the genre by adding some interesting characters, a change from the usual skeletons or bats or whatever. But it all seems really half assed, because the environments are still the same dull brick n' stone seen in so many computer games from the 80s.

Practically all of the characters from Puyo Puyo originated from this game, ranging from the main characters Arle, Schezo and Rulue, to even the minor bad guys like the Will o' Wisps and Cait Sith in Puyo Puyo 2. Puyo Puyo even uses some music from the Madou Monogatari games - the pre-battle dialogue in the first Puyo game in the main theme from the first Madou game.

The gameplay is pretty basic, with incredibly undercomplicated turn based battles. Seriously, these are some of the most numberphobic RPGs I've ever played. The only way to gauge your health is by looking at your character's portrait. There are no weapons statistics, armor, or magic at all. Experience is measured in jewels that encircle the screen. The only number you EVER see is your gold.

The first game sets you in the role of Arle as a five year old, as she wanders through the dungeon to defeat the Cockatrice and pass her magician test. The second game picks up when Arle is sixteen and embarks on her first real adventure. She's kidnapped by Schezo and has to escape the dungeon she's imprisoned in, although you begin with all of your magic spells. At the end, you meet the "fierce creature" Carbuncle, who joins along with you. Madou Monogatari III begins right after, where Arle will face off against Rulue and her minotaur guardian, although you begin up with all of your spells done.

All of three of these were originally released together in a massive five-disk package for the MSX. Later, they were released seperately on the Game Gear. The first game was also ported to the PC Engine Arcade CD (which seems to be extraordinarily rare) and Mega Drive.

The Game Gear ports are fairly faithful, other than some redesigned character art, a graphical interface, and a lot of (scratchy) voice. The PC Engine port also sticks close to the original, although with lots of extra spoken dialogue, CD music and a small animated intro. Even though the dungeon window is still tiny, it still has unquestionably the best graphics of all of the ports. The Mega Drive version, on the other hand, is a completely different game and changes the battle system entirely. Instead of it being entirely turn based, the perspective switches to a third person view. By holding down the "A" button and inputing various motions on the direction pad, Arle will cast various magical spells. It may not sound very interesting, but all of the button mashing actually is a good change of pace.

There are several other chapters as well. Compile released another Madou Monogatari set in 1993, dubbed "ARS". Again, there three chapters - one each starring Arle, Rulue and Schezo. Originally for the PC88 home computer, the Arle adventure was ported to the Game Gear, but the rest languished. "Madou Monogatari: The Next Chapter" was released for the PC88 in 1994, while Compile released "The Final Test" in 1996 and "Tower of the Teacher" in 1997 for Windows 95.

MP3s

Main (Genesis)
Main (PC Engine CD)

Madou Monogatari 1 GG

Madou Monogatari 2 GG

Madou Monogatari 3 GG

Madou Monogatari A GG

Madou Monogatari 1 Genesis

Madou Monogatari 1 Genesis

Madou Monogatari 1 Genesis

Madou Monogatari 1 PC Engine

Madou Monogatari 1 PC Engine

Madou Monogatari 1 PC Engine

Madou Monogatari 1 MSX

Madou Monogatari 2 MSX

Madou Monogatari 3 MSX

Madou Monogatari 1 GG

Madou Monogatari 2 GG

Madou Monogatari 3 GG

Madou Monogatari ARS

Madou Monogatari ARS

Madou Monogatari ARS

Madou Monogatari ARS

Madou Monogatari: Hanamaru Daiyouchi Enji - Super Famicom (1996)

Madou Monogatari SFC

Madou Monogatari SFC

Madou Monogatari SFC

After that gigantic clew of first person adventures, Compile finally went with a more traditional overhead console RPG. Problem is, they still keep the same overly simplistic gameplay that makes Final Fantasy Mystic Quest seem like a heartbreaking work of staggering genius. While there's plenty more spells to find and upgrade, you still never see your hit points, there's still the lack of customer customization, and there's still only one character in battle - which been reduced the usual banal turn based affair, instead of the Mega Drive's more innovative version. About the only plus is that all of the menus are picture based, making it easier for us gaijin to wade through.

The game's plot seems to be a retelling of the original Madou Monogatari - the kindergardener Arle is off to find the seven orbs and get her magical degree - although the situations are entirely different, and feature the usual crew of Puyo friends/villians. And while the puzzles provide a bit of meat, the simplicity of the rest of the game means that you really shouldn't bother.

Madou Monogatari SFC

Waku Waku Puyo Puyo Dungeon - Saturn/Playstation (1997)

Japanese Saturn Cover

Waku Waku Puyo Puyo Dungeon

Waku Waku Puyo Puyo Dungeon

Waku Waku Puyo Puyo Dungeon mixes up things by being one of those Rogue-style games (like Diablo, to site a more popular/recent example.) You wander through randomly generated dungeons, find lots of items, and try to make it out alive with all of the booty you've found. Fighting is mindless simple, as you simply go next to an enemy and hit the attack button, occasionally choosing different spells. Therefore, most of the focus is on resource management, making sure you have enough magic to last through the course of your adventure, and knowing when to run to the magic circles that potentially restore your health.

There are three playable characters - Arle (with Carbuncle, who helps find hidden stuff), Rulue (with Minotaurus, who will help fight) and Schezo (who goes it alone.) The art portrays everyone as being much more adult, although one has to wonder why there's absolutely no voice acting at all. There are several dungeons to play through, which at least gives a bit of variety to the monotony usually found in games like these. Some of the more annoying quirks of the genre are present - if you die or exit a dungeon prematurely, you lose all of the items/experience/gold you gained when you first entered. And since identifying items is quite costly, you end up using items without knowing what they are (although I suppose that doesn't make a difference if you don't know Japanese anyway.) There's also a dismaying lack of voice acting. While it's better than similar dungeon crawlers of this era (such as Azure Dreams, Chocobo's Mysterious Dungeon), it certainly won't win over the players who prefer the usual console RPG stuff.

Waku Waku Puyo Puyo Dungeon

Waku Waku Puyo Puyo Dungeon

Madou Monogatari - Saturn (1998)

Japanese Saturn Cover

Madou Monogatari Saturn

Madou Monogatari Saturn

The last 32-bit Puyo Puyo RPG once again goes back to the Madou Monogatari name, sans any subtitle, as a regular console-style RPG. The game begins with the cursing of Lagnus, but picks up with Arle going on an adventure to discern the mysterious plants that have been cropping up all over the land. You meet Rulue early in the game, who becomes your primary partner, and fight alongside other Puyo standbys like Minotaurus, Draco, Schezo, Suketoudara, Witch, Momomo and Harpy. Enemies include Incubus, Skeleton T, Lord Satan, and a bunch of other characters you'll recognize from throughout the Puyo series. However, just like Waku Waku Puyo Puyo Dungeon, the lack of voice acting is pretty disappointing.

The exploration screens are handled with an isometric view, which is always a bit awkward. All of the mazey dungeons seem to float over a static screen, which looks more than a little weird. So while these graphics aren't that impressive, the battle scenes are where the game really shines. The character sprites are bright, huge, and well animated, with plenty of amusing bad guys. You have to dig a game which features enemies like the Yankee Wolf - who wears a pompadour and attacks by blowing smoke in your face - and the Violence Monkey, which is as awesome as it sounds.

Gameplay-wise, it really is your typical console RPG, with the usual turn-based battle system and minimal character customization. But it makes it quite easy for non-Japanese speakers to pick it up and play. So while this is yet another one of those games that depends more on its charm than its mechanics, it's still fun, and definitely the best of the Puyo RPGs. And besides, Carbuncle has an ass kicking laser he'll use in combat every once in awhile.

MP3s

Battle

Madou Monogatari Saturn

Madou Monogatari Saturn

Madou Monogatari Saturn

Madou Monogatari Saturn

Onto to Page 4

Back to Page 2

Back to Hardcore Gaming 101