Monday, March 14, 2011

Battle Hunter: Battling and Hunting

Battle Hunter for original Playstation is a peculiar game for a lot of reasons. The title is sort of a misnomer because you do not play a character that is hunting battles, but is actually hunting for items, and you just sort of get into battles along the way. Wikipedia defines the game as a tactical role-playing game, but that is a massive overstatement of the content of the game. It is essentially a board game with video games' ever present “role-playing elements,” which is to say, stats and items. It qualifies as poverty, because I clearly recall seeing stacks of this game in bargain bins at Big Lots years ago.

Battle Hunter's art has that lovable cheesey look that anime only had in the 90's, in spite of the fact this game was apparently released in 2001. Still, it has the corny idea of cool that stems from the 80's that has since been thrown away in favor of moe and bishounen garbage where all the men are are Cloud and all the women are 12. The in-game stuff is a mixed bag. The sprites are reasonably cute stuff that you'd expect from a Playstation game of the time (or before its time). The menu backgrounds and character art are just sort of weird and deformed, giving away that this game was probably made over a weekend. Seriously, what is wrong with this guys hand?

What is the experience of actually playing Battle Hunter? You start by creating a character. You choose your stats (speed, attack, defense, HP), then you get a decent sized collection of different characters that come in a decent selection of color palettes. You can even choose a color palette that makes one girl with a hat look like Terry Bogard. After you got your character squared away, you go to talk to Ol' Manglehand Nicholson up there and start a mission. Each mission has you searching for a specific item be going around and collecting the item boxes on the board. If you get the item, you want to GTFO before one of the 3 other hunters beat the shit out of you and take it.

Control of the game is done pretty much through card draws and dice rolls. Dice rolls determine how well you can move, how well you attack, and how well you defend. All of these things can be aided by various cards that increase movement, increase attack, set traps on the board, or stuff like that. During your search for items and attacks on each other, you also get hassled by monsters, and if you waste too much time, a big monster will come out and pretty much fuck your day up. After the missions you can identify and sell stuff you've picked up, and then spend credits on leveling up to increase stats. This aspect of the game is sort of like a budget version of Diablo.

Tenelen is about to get a cap busted in him

Believe it or not, I actually have rather fond memories of Battle Hunter. This is mostly because as a party game it works pretty well. Strategically plotting against 3 of your friends is fun in a way that good board games are, and the prospect of leveling up and getting loot makes you want to keep playing.

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