Author Topic: Shen Mo Da Lu (NES, YS Seven backport) Review  (Read 154 times)

KAGE-008

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Shen Mo Da Lu (NES, YS Seven backport) Review
« on: June 20, 2019, 03:16:38 AM »
Shenzhen Jncota Technology is a company that has made several RPGs, based either on 'XuanYuan Sword' novels, or backports of a few titles originally released on later consoles. They are supposedly the developers of the three-parter Final Fantasy IV port for the NES, which by the way is more superior than the one released by SNT (Nanjing).

This game in particular is actually a backport of YS Seven, a title from YS series that was released for the PlayStation Portable, and it was released for the Famicom with KT-1052 label. But taking into account the fact Jncota applied their three-by-three game release structure, 'Shen Mo Da Lu' is one of the title screen hacks of the original backport, which should read KT-1051 on both cart and box.

Jncota has done other backports of games from YS series, such as 'Ark of Napishtim' (KT-1060), 'Oath in Felghana' (KT-1061) and 'Origin: Hugo' (KT-1068). NewRisingSun's copyright sheet mentions other two YS backports done by the aforementioned company, concretely YS II and The Dawn of YS, however those two are undumped as of writing this review.

Now, let's start with the review, explaining every aspect of the game.

Story: 8/10
Almost every part of the original plot has been faithfully transplanted to an 8-bit space, even it has a short intro before you start (all of Jncota's YS backports share this feature). Adol and his party must bring back peace to the world, by collecting all five 'soul stones' from forest, fire and sky places, and then beating the creatures behind those stones.

Music and visual aspects: 9/10
The entirety of the music used in the game is lifted from Ancient YS Vanished: Omen, released for the Famicom in 1988. Most YS fans would recognize those tones even when playing this backport for the first time. However the sound engine isn't 100% implemented, since the music sometimes goes 'crazy' after a bossfight or changing places, especially near the end where the percussion stops playing (this can be fixed by saving and then reloading your progress via regular saves). Graphics are pretty nice for an 8-bit game, plus that some villagers move by themselves, which is a nice touch. One thing that is missing from this game, and their other YS backports have implemented, is the characteristic sound when you open a chest with a special item.

Gameplay: 7/10
The mechanics used is a turn-based battle system, just like in Final Fantasy and other RPG games. Your players start at level 4, needing the use of Adol's healing spell. Then, after leveling up for a while, it becomes a bit easier because of attack spells; later parts of the game require grinding a lot though. You need at least level 35 for both of your players to kill the first boss without letting the enemy attack first (this aspect reminds me of Final Fantasy's 'monsters strike first' feature), and then grind 8 or so more levels for the next boss. Why I say this? Even random encounters tend to use magic spells that can inflict around -100 HP, especially if your characters are not leveled enough. Two of the party characters (Elk and Mustafa) join you for a limited period, I don't recommend equipping them with expensive weapons/armor because you won't get those back, unlike on some SNT games if we count unlicensed stuff only.
You can buy weapons, armor and refill items as well, but for some strange reason those are not cheap, requiring several minutes of battling random encounters to get enough golds for the best equipment.
In the end, my party was leveled 85/85/80/75 respectively. This translates to approximately two and a half hours of levelgrinding if you use Turbo speed (game's original speed is so slow it kills patience for most people). Their other YS games require a level 60-65 Adol (or Hugo in the Origin backport) to kill the last boss with ease.

Replay Value: 7/10
If you don't mind the amount of time consumed by the levelgrinding process, then this can be replayed, as long as you use the Turbo feature. Cannot really imagine what it takes if it's done on a real Famicom or any Chinese clone of it...
Also, if you forgot where to go, it's as follows: from the forest near the starting place, right/upper section -> right/lower section -> left/lower section -> left/upper section -> right/upper section/right (docks), before each of them you need to go back to the monk temple.
Then for the second part: right/lower section -> left/lower section -> left/upper section -> right/docks -> starting place -> inside the temple.

Overall Score: 8/10
This review is a huge improvement to the one I did several years ago. Back then I had a progress with level 55-ish party, which was not enough to beat the final bosses. A while back I made a replay which ended with a 73/73/63/54 party, but with that I was able to finish the game, with the help of refill items. THEND of the review.
« Last Edit: June 20, 2019, 03:31:02 AM by KAGE-008 »