“Treasure Hunter G” was the last Square title to appear on the Super Famicom, making its debut on the console in May of 1996. It’s also a J-RPG that has yet to see an official translation, despite the fact that it was released on the Wii Virtual Console in 2007. Square and Nintendo have made no effort to update or translate the game and get it released for non-Japanese gamers to enjoy. Thus, it is a game that I have always wanted to get into and, as such, I was happy to give this game a short for our first return foray into the revived Game Travels series.
“All of the world is an adventure,” or so said Gamrius VI, according to the game’s introduction. The game’s opening narrative states, however, that the world is nothing but neighboring countries skirmishing with one another and so the chances for adventure remain slim. Yet, in the vein of most traditional RPGs (and, of course, J-RPGs) this won’t be the case for long. The game’s intro continues by showing us what appears to be some kind of evil being stirring from his rest and then engulfing the world in flames…Yikes! Naturally, this sounds like something we will have to be stopping.
As we begin a new game, we are naturally asked to come up with names for the characters in our starting party. By default, the older of the two siblings is named Red, and not wanting to mess with the canon of the story I opted to go ahead and leave that alone. Care to guess what his brother is named? It’s Blue, by the way, in case that wasn’t apparent.
Apparently Red and Blue live with their grandfather (affectionately called “Gramps”) who has the odd property of having a clock stuck inside his stomach (odd, yes, but they explain the reason for that to us pretty early on). Gramps, it seems, has been taking care of the two boys because his father has been out on some kind of adventure. The father was never clear about what it was that he was up to, but in a flashback sequence we see early on he tells the boys to simply “trust him” and to believe that he is doing the right thing. The boys, and their grandfather, believe him to be a deadbeat, but perhaps this will be proven otherwise later on.
~THE AGED CAVE~
Not long after Red and Blue get up for the day, a man rushes into their grandfather’s home and tells them that the Ferric Falcon (what is that?) has been spotted in a nearby place called the Aged Cave (yes, not Ancient Cave, but merely an aged one!). Why this man comes to them about this isn’t really apparent at first, but the grandfather seems pretty keen on taking the boys with him to go investigate. The cave itself is just slightly to the north of the village you start in, so a quick walk leads us there.
As is the case with many games, this first exploreable area doesn’t really amount to a whole lot. Mainly, it seems to exist in order to help us understand the basic gameplay mechanics of “Treasure Hunter G.” The cave is home to some relatively-low-level rats and bats and Gramps takes this opportunity to explain to us how combat in the game works. Why is this necessary? Well, unlike most turn-based (or active-time) RPGs, combat in this game takes place on a grid and is reminiscent of the style of the Shining Force games. Combat seems decently straight-forward at first, but there are a lot of things that need to be taken into account. First, the position of your characters in relation to enemies can be key in exploiting weaknesses and not having your own weaknesses exploited (for example, hitting an enemy from behind may give you the element of surprise and thus help you yield more damage while taking a hit yourself from behind may hurt a lot more). Every move in battle takes ACT, and the requirements of ACT can vary depending on what kind of space you are on in a grid.
As we work our way through the Aged Cave, we come across an area to save our game as well as a device that is able to fully restore all of our stats. It is quite likely that in most future dungeons and explorable zones these things will be few and far between, but for now they are a welcomed site. Still, we don’t seem to have a whole lot of time to invest in dilly-dallying around, so we continue north through the cave system and we eventually find what we are looking for.
At first, I expected the Ferric Falcon to be some kind of mythological creature, but this doesn’t seem to be the case at all. More importantly, there seem to be other people looking for it. Yet, these people don’t really seem to have much of a chance to capture this…Thing…Because not long after Red, Blue, and Gramps arrive on-scene, a mysterious person ends up climbing into it and activating it. This man, according to Red, is their father, and they all wonder what he is up to. Yet, the others there have apparently planted a bomb on the Falcon (which turns out to be some kind of futuristic aircraft), and although their father manages to escape the cave with the plane, it seems to have engine failure and crash somewhere away from their home village.
Back home (in what we now know to be called Rouen Village), Gramps suggests that we should go and look for dad. The problem? We have no weapons, no armor, and, worst of all, no money! Gramps also doesn’t seem to want to help us earn anything, going on about learning to appreciate hard-earned funds. Yeah, right. Yet, regardless of what we want, he goes to the local tavern to get a drink and leaves the prospect of us coming up with some money in our hands.
So, what do we do in order to earn some quick money?
Well, this is something that vexed me at first, so as I would do in any RPG like this, I wandered somewhat aimlessly looking around and hoping to find some ways to make money. Walking around on the overworld and hoping to get into random battles with enemies didn’t seem to do anything (there don’t seem to be enemies on the overworld), so it boiled down to exploring the village (and the neighboring one I will talk about here in a moment) and trying to help out the locals. Some people seem to have an infestation of rats in their basements and are glad to pay you for your services (anywhere from 100 to 300 Giv, the in-game currency), one old woman will pay you for clearing out all the brush from her yard (which is kind of like cutting down bushes from “The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past”), and the tavern-keeper, it seems, is collecting frogs (why?).
The fastest way to build up quick money, it seems, is to collect frogs. While the bar owner in Rouen will pay you 10G per frog that you have in your possession, the tavern owner in Sebia will pay you 15G each. It still isn’t clear why either of these men actually want you to get them frogs, but they are easy enough to find. Cutting down bushes and shaking large pieces of brush will yield a frog quite frequently, so running back and forth between Rouen and Sebia in order to spawn frogs (and then returning to Sebia to sell them) ends up being a rather swift way to get the required funds (approximately 1500G for a full set of equipment). Of course, there are still little jobs you can do in Sebia if you want (like clearing rats from below the tavern) and places you can explore (each dressing area in the clothing store yields 30G when you interact with it), so ultimately it is up to you to decide what is best for you in terms of building up funds.
A quick visit to the weapon store shows us that Red is best suited with a dagger for now and Blue makes best use of a two-headed spear. Both seem capable of wearing heavier armors.
Once we get all of our stuff together and prepare to return to Rouen, a man rushes up to us and tells us that the forest is on fire. Apparently Smokey’s warnings weren’t heeded. Blue seems rather worried that Rouen, being near the forest (although not really any closer than Sebia is) will be caught in the flames and urges us to rush back to town to save Gramps and anyone else that we can.
By the time we make it to town most of the village seems to be a lost cause. Houses are all ablaze and many of them cannot even be entered anymore. The pair does what it can to go in and rescue any stragglers from a fiery death (they save an old woman named Mora and a couple others) yet they have trouble rescuing a little girl named Mail. Thankfully, even though her house is engulfed in flames, a little monkey named Ponga rushes in and saves the girl before the house collapses on her.
Still not exactly sure what is going on, Red and Blue head north to their grandfather’s house to assess the damage. However, when they arrive, Gramps is squaring off with some enemies while trying to protect a little girl named Rain. Gramps manages to defeat the enemies, but not before getting set on fire by some evil Fire Sprites. Gramps, fatally wounded, asks Red and Blue to take Rain and Ponga (apparently Ponga is her monkey) with them, protect them, and head to their father’s house. He tells them that there is a secret “Adventure Room” hidden there. Gramps passes away, his clock having stopped ticking, but Red says that his clock will always be ticking in their hearts.
With Gramps dead and Rouen in ashes, there doesn’t seem to be much else that should be done other than to head north to their father’s house. So, after making a quick pit stop in Sebia to purchase weapons and armor for Rain and Ponga, the party heads into the forest, nestled between two mountains, that lies between them and their destination.
When they arrive, however, they are greeting by something strange – a fairy that is encased in some kind of crystalline structure. The people nearby don’t seem to know what to make of it, but as they press forward some kind of spirit emerges from the encased fairy and inhabits the body of an old man. The man relates a story to them about a being known as the Dark Lord (very original, right?) who had lied dormant for many centuries who was awakened by someone searching for a mystical treasure. The being fears this Dark Lord’s resurrection, claiming that the world was once nearly destroyed when the Dark Lord summoned something called the Bone Dino to wreak havoc (another odd name).
Regardless of all of this, there doesn’t seem to be much for us to do about it now, and thus it seems that Red, Blue, Rain, and Ponga need to press forward and make their way to the boys’ father’s house.
And it is here that this week’s installment will take a break. It may not seem like we covered a lot of ground, but building up the money to purchase all the supplies we needed took quite some time. Now, though, we are ready to set out on our grand adventure, and I do think it will be a lot of fun!
Next week, Warren will be back to talk about more of the non-gaming side of “Treasure Hunter G,” so be sure to check in on November 20!
NOTE: I played around with the settings in ZSNES while playing this game and managed to force the game to run at a resolution of 1920×1080 as opposed to the system’s native resolution of 320×240. Also, to smooth out the graphics, I resampled the game with a 4x High-Quality Filter and the result was quite nice! In fact, applying these same settings to other SNES games made them look quite awesome.