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The Dark Spire - NDS

Phillip WillisPhillip Willis Certified PolygameistRPGamer Staff
edited May 2009 in Staff Review Blogs
darkspire.gif
System Nintendo DS
Developer:Success
Publisher:Atlus
Release Date: 04.14.2009
Description:: An 'old school' style - 3D dungeon crawling RPG from Success. This game also feature a retro mode option.


04.30.09 - 5 Hours: I'm not going to attempt to describe everything at once about this game...because there's a lot to absorb in the few first hours of gameplay alone. If you haven't read anything about this game, then know it's similar to an old Wizardry or Might & Magic RPG in more ways than one.

Character creation is basic stuff. Choose race, class, name and roll stats. Even with the help of the instruction book, some things simply aren't explained. If they are, I missed it. If you don't like the stats your character rolls, you can reroll as many times as you like. This is really important, because as I found out later, your stats are very important <span class="spoiler">to your ability to level up in other classes and qualify for the specialty classes.</span>

One thing I enjoyed about some of my old school games is most of them made it clear, right from the get go, exactly what your skills and stats could do, and gave you information on class progression. It was satisfying to strategize what kind of party you were going to make, and how you were going to level up / promote them before you started, and then see that strategy unfold throughout the course of the game. Dark Spire seems to want you to figure a lot of that out via trial and error. Some things you can change later on. For example, if you find out later on you need a higher STR to qualify for a promotion, you can buy more STR points with exp points. They're just REALLY expensive. So, really, it would equate to lots of hours of grinding xp.

Thankfully, someone posted a 'guide to creating characters' on the board, so that helped me create a strategy for promotion and what stats/alignment/etc that I needed to roll to eventually be eligible. I'm very happy now. I can already tell, this is one of the few games I'd want to buy a strategy guide for. Now that I think about it, I used strategy guides for about 1/2 of my old RPGs back in the day. Aside from character creation, I usually only use them when I get stuck on something.

Oh, and another thing... casters can re-choose their spells at any time. This is important. Don't fret about what spells you choose, since you can change them at the guild.

05.04.09 - 10 Hours: Wow. I'm 10 hours in, and I'm STILL on the first two floors. Amazing. These floors are huge and twisted. Furthermore, in order to access some parts, you have to go up and down, back and forth, between floors. I'm beginning to think that the auto map, as detailed as it is, is simply not good enough. If you're going to play this game without the help of a strategy guide or really well written FAQ, you're going to need graph paper and really good note taking skills. Seriously. Oh, and if you're playing the game now, a word of advice. Check EVERY single wall for secret doors. Seriously.

Combat: Initially, encounters could get pretty deadly pretty quickly. At level 1, my fighter had about 8 HPs and my mage had 3. Thankfully, you can put your party in a formation so your casters are in the back, totally protected from melee attacks. In the first two floors, I've ran into very few foes that could hit team members in the back ranks. Interestingly enough, those in the back ranks seem to have no problem hitting with their weapons.

Spell casting is very similar to the first NES version of Final Fantasy. You can cast so man spells from each spell level before needing to rest in town. A level 5 mage, for example, can cast 7 level 1 spells, 5 level 2 spells and 3 level 3 spells. Once she has cast 7 level 1 spells, she can no longer cast spells from that spell level, even if she has remaining spells in the higher levels.

Therefore, proper management and conservation of spells becomes a must, especially given how 'deep' you get into the tower at times. Even though I am only on level two, a trek back to town can take a solid 15-20 minutes with over a dozen random encounters along the way. Thankfully, the retreat option works fairly often.

On thing I like is how classes have different options for attacking, casting and defending. For example, your caster can either "cast quickly" which will result in getting the spell off faster at a lower success rate or "Cast carefully," which will result in getting the spell off later in the round, but at an increased level of success. There are a few times when these options can be lifesavers.

Once I got a few levels under my belt, the battles became pretty easy. <span class="spoiler">I put my very heavily armored fighter in the front, and everyone else in the back</span>. My fighter rarely gets hit, allowing me to go pretty deep in the dungeon before having to return. I'm beginning to duel class my characters to have a greater pool of spells which will allow me to stay in the dungeon longer between town runs.

Currently most of my characters are lv 5-6 with some secondary class levels. I'm in the pirate den found in 2F. Oh, and I have 10K Gold tounge2.gif I feel rich! Now, I have to run and dress like a pirate. Seriously!

05.12.08 - 16 Hours - I'm well into the fourth floor. To be honest, the 3rd floor was a cake walk, especially compared to these guys. I've run into a number of groups that wipe me out before I even get a spell off. It would be quite discouraging if it were not for the ability to save anywhere outside of combat. To be honest, I'm not sure if this game would be manageable without that functionality. The dungeon itself is also really difficult. There are some very difficult puzzles to figure out. Most players will need to keep a grid map on paper, or use one from GameFAQs, to have a clue where to go next. If you like a challenge this game is your cup o' tea.

05.20.08- I put in quite a bit of time in over the last week, and I'm just about done with it. Old school tough is definitely one way to describe it! Review will be coming soon.



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Comments

  • flamethrowerflamethrower Member Full Members
    edited May 2009
    Nintendo Power didn't like this game. I think they are maybe reviewing for a more casual audience. They mentioned the game being "grind heavy" and "running back to town to heal" which are things I personally don't think are so objectionable.

    They have really interesting graphics in this game. They are quite dark. Check out RPGamer's screenshots. Monster design is really interesting too. Do they have any cute monsters in this game?
  • Phillip WillisPhillip Willis Certified Polygameist RPGamer Staff
    edited May 2009
    I haven't run into anything I would consider 'cute.' But I personally love the art direction. It's a gothic/grunge mix that works really well.

    As far as running back to town to heal.... Well, once you get used to mechanics and whatnot, you figure out ways to take a lot less damage and whatnot. Yeah, you have to go back to town once in a while... but I see that as free xp along the way. This game requires grinding, so you may as well get it on the way there and back to town. It also gives you opportunities to become more familiar with the dungeon. Even though the mini map doesn't show where you are at (unless you cast a certain spell), I usually know where my party is located just because I've run back and forth so many times. In a way, the dungeon itself becomes a character in the game, and getting to know it inside and out becomes a huge part of the fun.
    Co-Host on RPGBacktrack. Follow me on Twitter and sub to my blog if you would like!
  • supahnathsupahnath New Member Full Members
    edited May 2009
    Just wondering, are you playing with the retro mode sometimes? I'm playing it as well and what I do, is I finish mapping out a floor and I switch to retro mode because it seems to move twice as fast.
    Black or White?

    Currently Playing: Pokemon Heart Gold - 16 badges - Red defeated
  • Phillip WillisPhillip Willis Certified Polygameist RPGamer Staff
    edited May 2009
    Just wondering, are you playing with the retro mode sometimes? I'm playing it as well and what I do, is I finish mapping out a floor and I switch to retro mode because it seems to move twice as fast.
    Y'know...I've noticed that as well. To answer you question, yah, I'm using Retro for that reason alone.
    Co-Host on RPGBacktrack. Follow me on Twitter and sub to my blog if you would like!
  • Phillip WillisPhillip Willis Certified Polygameist RPGamer Staff
    edited May 2009
    Updated
    Co-Host on RPGBacktrack. Follow me on Twitter and sub to my blog if you would like!
  • OyashiroOyashiro NEEDS MOAR UNDERBOOB! Full Members
    edited May 2009
    I bought this game today, have yet to play it but I like what I'm seeing here smile.gif
    Give me Underboob, or give me death!
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    "As a gaming enthusiast, people who carry a pro-hacker flag for selfish self-entitled reasons and willfully ignore the damage that rampant piracy does to developers as well as hardware producers don't deserve to enjoy the games and systems that these companies have poured their souls into to produce."

    "A late game is only late until it ships. A bad game is bad until the end of time." ~ David Jaffe
  • Phillip WillisPhillip Willis Certified Polygameist RPGamer Staff
    edited May 2009
    Updated
    Co-Host on RPGBacktrack. Follow me on Twitter and sub to my blog if you would like!
  • Options
    edited May 2009
    I recently beat this myself, and I thought it was decent, though it was one of few times I've had to play a game with a guide, given the lack of in-game explanations for many elements like secondary classes, the quests, how to advance, etc.
  • Phillip WillisPhillip Willis Certified Polygameist RPGamer Staff
    edited May 2009
    I recently beat this myself, and I thought it was decent, though it was one of few times I've had to play a game with a guide, given the lack of in-game explanations for many elements like secondary classes, the quests, how to advance, etc.
    Absolutely. I freely admit that I used a number of FAQ's, maps, etc. If you can get through this one without any of them, you are a MUCH better person than I...and have a LOT more free time smile.gif
    Co-Host on RPGBacktrack. Follow me on Twitter and sub to my blog if you would like!
  • Phillip WillisPhillip Willis Certified Polygameist RPGamer Staff
    edited May 2009
    I was having a convo about this game today, reliving some of my great memories of it. I came up with this skit which represents my strategy in the higher floors.

    A Standard encounter in Dark Spire works like this...
    Imagine your party of four characters....named Shaggy, Scooby, Wilma and Fred.
    Scooby: Hey Raggy!"
    "Shaggy: What is it Scoob!"
    "mmmm mm mmm MONSTERS!"
    "Shaggy, Fred, Wilma: RUN!!!!"

    Seriously, I won't like. I ran a LOT in the top floors. It definately becomes part of your strategy. But, don't get me wrong...grinding is also important. Pick and choose your battles, as my Dad taught me.

    Anyway, review is done and can be read here.



    Co-Host on RPGBacktrack. Follow me on Twitter and sub to my blog if you would like!
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