Tengai Makyou Zero - Super Famicom (1995)

Japanese Soundtrack Cover

Tengai Makyou Zero

Tengai Makyou Zero

Usually when a CD format game gets translated to a cartridge system, things don't always go right (see: Dracula X and Ys IV.) Nevertheless, the fourth Tengai Makyo game actually manages to be a quality entry in the series. Most of this is due to a special graphics decompression chip (also used in Star Ocean) that allows a lot of data to fit be into a regular SFC cart. It's hard to see where it's really going to use, but graphics are easily some of the best on the Super Famicom, so I can't complain. This time, the characters seem to look somewhat what like Square's Chrono Trigger, especially with the spiky haired hero, although the overworld scenes maintain the squat FF4-esque avatars. Despite the extra graphic space, there aren't any cutscenes, and they are most definitely missed.

Tengai Makyou Zero begins with an evil prince who wants to rule the country of Jipang by unleashing the demon Ninigi. The hero is a young boy named Higen, whose village is attack for unknown reason. In his slain grandfather's dying breath, Higen learns he is the legendary Fire Hero and must set off to save the country. It is, again, the usual RPG story, along with some wacky characters and amusing situations, although somewhat more restrained than Kabukiden.

Higen
The mostly silent, multi-colored harido Hero. Can set things on fire at his will.
Subaru
An adorable (or annoying, depending on your tastes) fairy.
Tenjin
An absurdly effiminate swordsman who, as it turns out, does harbor a strange secret...

Other than the graphics chip, Zero contains a battery that keeps track of time in the real world. Similar to the recent Animal Crossing, different special events happen at different times of day, and some even change throughout the year. So while the actual quest isn't too terribly long, all of the events and other subquests make TM Zero a fairly involved game. Which is good, because the battle system is, once again, pretty simplistic. It ditches the first person view in favor of an over-the-shoulder perspective (a la Phantasy Star 2 and 4), although the battles tend to be a little on the slow (and long) side. The real highlight, as it turns out, is probably the soundtrack - taking a departure from the western orchestral overtones of the previous games, TM Zero has a wide variety of music, ranging from Eastern-influenced town themes to light-hearted techno-ish battle themes. It's a consistently excellent soundtrack, with a lot of great variety. Despite its slow pace, it's every bit as good as Manjimaru.

A special edition of Tengai Makyou Zero also exists, with the subtitle "Shounen Jump no Shou". It appears to be a special promotional copy tied in with the popular manga magazine. Other than the title screen, it doesn't appear to be much different, although it's quite possibly the rarest (and thus most expensive) Super Famicom cart.

MP3s

Overture Intro
The Hell Corps Battle
Theme of Higan
Akamaru Counterattacks

Tengai Makyou Zero

Tengai Makyou Zero

Tengai Makyou Zero

Tengai Makyou Zero

Tengai Makyou Zero

Tengai Makyou: The Fourth Apocalypse - Saturn / PSP (1997)

Japanese Cover

Japanese Manual

Tengai Makyou: The Fourth Apocalypse

Taking a departure from ancient Japan, Tengai Makyou: The Fourth Apocalypse takes you to somewhere drastically innovative for an RPG - 1890s America. And not the America we're used to reading about in history textbooks, a drastically skewed version of this beloved country, full of ridiculous misinterpretations, wacky anachronisms and more political incorrectness than you could even possibly imagine. (This same theme was used in the severely underrated PS2 RPG Shadow Hearts: From the New World.) The hero this time around is a young lad named Rizing, training under the Indian hero Red Bear. After his master is killed in the brutal ice fields of Alaska, Red Bear tells Rizing that he bears the mark of the Flame Hero, and must save America from a whole crew of denizens waiting to unleash the powers of Hell upon the land. You begin on mainland America in Portland, amongst the Native Americans, and it just gets wackier from there. Throughout the game, you get to visit Hollywood, escape from Alcatraz, stop a villain from carving his face onto Rushmore and ride a gigantic sacred buffalo through ice mountains. It's all spectacularly weird, visiting a town in an RPG named San Francisco or wandering through a dungeon based on Carlsbad Cavern. Naturally, all of it is terribly, terribly inaccurate, although I'd imagine it wouldn't be too hilarious to someone unfamiliar with American geography:


Click to enlarge

Just like all of the other Tengai Makyou games, this is one is filled with ridicilous characters and hilarious writing. When you come across your first Native American tribe, the chief proclaims very loudly, in the Japanese equivalent of the stereotypical "me Indian you friend" speech you see in old Westerns, that all animals are his friends, then proceeds to get mauled to pieces by a friendly looking dog. And that's not the half of it: here the characters you actually get to play as.

Rizing
The hero. His name is kind of a pun - the kanji, "Raijin", means "thunder god". Is entirely straightfaced in face of all of the insanity that occurs around him.

Yumemi
Rizing's childhood friend from his early days in New Orleans, he rediscovers her. But how is she connected to the demons that are popping up over the country?

Zengo
When you first meet this swordman from Jipang, he comes flying through the wall, proclaiming he was engaged in a battle with scores of men. Later, you have to strip down to your skivvies and wash his back to get him to join your party. He's a coward, a blundering idiot, and the most hilarious member of your band of heroes.

Youno
A fierce Indian maiden who fears herself a warrior of the devil, but actually has the same seal as Rizing.

Ace
How could a game taking place in the American West NOT star a ridiciulous cowboy? Ace is pretty much an American version of Kabuki, massively loud and brash.

But where the game really takes off are the villains:

Blizzard
Candy
Manto
TV Man
Madame Apety

And that's only half of them. My particular favorite is Candy, a singer that looks like a cabaret star and who attempts to seduce the youth of Seattle with terrible pop music. She also has a henchman is a werewolf who rides a motorcycle (see upper right picture) named Low Dog. Tengai fans will be pleased to see that Manto is back, and this time not only does he wear a suit, but he stars in a series of black and white movies, AND he's the ruler of Lake Tahoe. Good for him.

With all of this craziness, it comes as a slight disappointment that this title doesn't really play any differently than its predecessors. There's a lot of dialogue, with gigantic portraits, along with a handful of animated cutscenes. The music is composed by one of the same guys who did TM Zero, and while it doesn't quite match up to that level of excellence, there's still a wide variety of themes, even if some of the techno battle pieces are a bit bland. The graphics are obviously gorgeous compared to its PC Engine and Super Famicom predecessors, although the biggest change are the battle sequences. You can actually see enemies on the map, and chose to avoid them if you can. The actual fighting is completely first person, as the enemies take up almost the entire screen, and animate fairly well. And when they attack, they literally strike right at you - it's pretty cool. Some of your characters attacks are even displayed in full motion video. Alas, it's rare that you fight more than two enemies at a time, and it's still not only rather simplistic, but also slow moving. Still, it takes a backseat to all of the incredulous activity in the game's story - you keep playing just to see what sort of absurd situation you'll find yourself in. This is, hands down, one of the most inventive and innovative RPGs ever made, and one of the best reasons to start importing Saturn games. A PSP port was also released in 2006. Unlike most PSP ports, which scale the resolution to fit the PSP screen, blurring it in the process, the developers zoomed out the display, so the pixels are in the same ratio, but you can see more of the field.

MP3s

Goblin Hunter 2 Overworld 2
Suffering
The Twelve Apostles Battle Major boss battle

Tengai Makyou: The Fourth Apocalypse

Tengai Makyou: The Fourth Apocalypse

Tengai Makyou: The Fourth Apocalypse

Tengai Makyou: The Fourth Apocalypse

Tengai Makyou: The Fourth Apocalypse

Tengai Makyou: The Fourth Apocalypse

Tengai Makyou: The Fourth Apocalypse

Tengai Makyou: The Fourth Apocalypse

Tengai Makyou: The Fourth Apocalypse

Tengai Makyou: The Fourth Apocalypse

Oriental Blue: Ao no Tengai - Gameboy Advance (2003)

Japanese Cover/Logo

Artwork

Oriental Blue

Oriental Blue for the Gameboy Advance is so far off from the previous games that you would'nt even think it were a Tengai Makyou game, if it weren't for the fact that it was designed by Red. While still start off in ancient Japan, Oriental Blue plays it entirely straight, even lacking the bright anime character designs for a more serious look. Despite the drastic change in tone, once you play the game, it's pretty clear this is a successor to the series - the first person battle system is pretty much exactly like Tengai Makyou 2.

Tenran
The male protagonist.
Aoi
The female protagonist.
Tenkamaru
A troublesome little oni boy.
Princess Wakana
She initially guides your characters and launches them into their quest.
Jubei
Games that take place in ancient Japan simply must have awesome ninjas.
Ukon
A female swordwielder.
Suigetsu
An onmyouji (sorta like a priest).
Shizuka
The leader of the demon contingent.

The game opens with you choosing a male or female protagonist, who begin to have visions of a girl who warns of monsters. Naturally, it's up to you to stop them. Oriental Blue features what the developers call a "free scenario system", where the storyline can be influenced by your actions - in addition to expanding upon a plethora of subquests, the plot can change depending on whether you can defeat certain bosses, and different characters (over ten in total) will join depending on your main character. Your adventure takes you to Shanghai, Mongolia, Thailand and all around the land of the old orient. While the somewhat non-linear system is a great idea, it still maintains the molasses pace of the older games, without maintaining much of the old goofy joy.

Oriental Blue

Oriental Blue

Oriental Blue

Oriental Blue

Oriental Blue

Oriental Blue

Onto to Page 3

Back to Page 1

Back to the index