Kisai's Review of Last Armageddon
It's the grim, destitute wasteland of a future. Humanity has managed to wipe itself off of the face of the planet. The only thing that survives is a race of demons that has claimed the surface as their own. Just as they are getting comfortable, two mysterious events happen at the same time: the Earth is invaded by aliens, and strange etched rocks fall out of the sky, bearing messages. The demons investigate these occurances, assigning three parties of demons to stop the invasion and solve the riddle of these lithographic meteorites.
Last Armageddon is a very, very long grinding RPG. The three parties of demons must all be separately levelled up, all switching out automatically. There aren't any NPCs to converse with or towns to visit, only plot events that are triggered. Items and weapons are created by party members using "jin" harvested like money from enemies.
Combat involves a four man squad, turn based combat common to RPGs. One thing unique about combat is that defending always completely nullifies an enemy's attack. So if you attack with one demon and defend with three, there's a 75% percent chance each enemy's attack will fail outright. Of course this tactic draws out combat time to a teetering crawl.
Originally Last Armageddon was created for the MSX-2 and then ported to the Famicom with a stripped down color palette and a surf rock soundtrack which is the most jamming music ever played on a 8-bit system. A final PC-Engine version was made which runs the quickest, has the nicest graphics and CD quality sound and adds an automatic fighting option.
Last Armageddon has been the weirdest game that I've ever played. It's like the creators played with a lot of toys in their youth and dreamt up this demons vs. aliens arc, except the theme keeps changing. There are about four chapters to the game, and a very strange last twist that makes all of the weirdness finally make sense.
You begin your search on a ruined continent, littered with the lithographs with cryptic comments on them. There's also a parked UFO being used by the aliens as a home base and a cyrogenic chamber where frozen humans sleep eternally. Halfway through the game, it becomes apparent that things are not necessarily what they seem as you climb an eight storied museum giving strangely told historical vignettes, like the demise of the dinosaurs, then Noah, then Napolean Bonaparte and Hitler...
The most amusing aspect for me was when the party comes across a fantasy LARP theme park, populated by robot fighters, rogues, clerics, with "EXP" written on their chest. When the party confronts the master computer that controls the theme park, the computer says (roughly translated) "I make fantasies come alive for people." "Fantasies?!" retorts the lead character "These repetitive and boring things?!"
There's a very unique character setup in Last Armageddon. You control two parties of four demons that switch off during day and night shifts every 144 turns. Then, once a game month, you control a third party of demons for 1440 turns. In the MSX version you start with a fighting oriented demon and a flyer in each party and get to choose two more demons for each. In the Famicon and PC Engine versions, the parties are pre-selected for you.
Characters each get a special attack, some spells, and some skills. Skills include viewing the world map, item creation, and flying. Each of your attributes are individually leveled, sort of like Final Fantasy II, except that your statistics can never go down. After so many levels, each demon will choose to err... merge their DNA with another demon's, which will increase their skills and change their form.
You are the villains, but since there's no civilization, there's really no horrible deeds to perform. Your villainy expresses itself more as an animal nature, growling and hooting when being taunted by the much more intelligent foe. The last plot arc in the game consists of each character finding an artifact from the extinct world that reminds and awakens a sense of humanity in each one.