RPG Loot! March 2018

Hello and welcome to another RPG Loot post! Typically, I like to do these posts bimonthly instead of every month, but oh my goodness! March was an insane month for RPG loot, I simply had no choice but to make the post now! Granted this is several days late as we’re already well into April, but that’s not the point! I recently started purging my collection of things from the past decade that were bought impulsively or with little regard of how much I actually desired them in the long run. Because of that, I was able to essentially “trade” those items in exchange for bolstering the collection that has truly meant the most to me for over fifteen years.

I told you it was insane. Maybe not so much at first glance if you don’t have too much familiarity with some of the things here, but if you do then you can probably spot the few items that make this haul ridiculous.

In any case, let’s get the post going! As always, we’ll start with the games.

Muramasa Rebirth and Summon Night 6: Lost Borders for the PlayStation Vita. I had been wanting to pick up Muramasa for some time and also wanted to get Summon Night 6 while versions with the manual were still in circulation. Thankfully a very nice Amazon gift card was slid my way for my birthday and was use precisely for this purpose.

The manual that was just mentioned. It’s kind of sad that a game having a manual has become a selling point these days, but on the other hand I would rather that we omit them as a whole if it means being more “green”, leaving manuals for special occasions. Although while this manual is a nice addition, mine had this unfortunate thing where the first four pages (including the cover) were not cut properly and were still attached at the outer edge. I had to cut them myself, which ended in a rather sloppily, but oh well. As long as the manual is nice as a whole.

Next up…

Ar nosurge: Ode to an Unborn Star for the PlayStation 3. I enjoyed the first Ar tonelico and what I played of the second. While I haven’t gotten to the third game yet, I did think it was appropriate for me to pick up this entry in the series. I realize the Vita version has more content than the PS3 one, but 1.) I really don’t care about the extras, and 2.) What do you think paid for one of the later items in this post?

Next up…

Dual Hearts, Eternal Poison, and Phantasy Star Universe: Ambition of the Illuminus for the PlayStation 2. I wanted to pick up a few PS2 games that were either higher up or slowly rising on my wishlist, so these three were the lucky ones. I’ve always had an interest in Dual Hearts and have been mesmerized by the art style for Eternal Poison. As for Phantasy Star Universe, I could have easily picked up the PC version, but I am mostly just interested in the single-player campaign. I’ve loved PSO for years, so I wanted to give this game a try, too.

The manual and disc art for Dual Hearts are really lovely. Very colorful and more appealing than the front cover, in my personal opinion. I’ve always appreciated manuals that have different artwork than the front.

Eternal Poison does the same thing here, although that is the bonus soundtrack instead of the game disc. The game disc has a part of the artwork from the manual on it.

And then PSU kinda drops the ball by reusing the front art, but it’s okay. I’ll forgive it, since it was honestly the more common thing to do than to use different art. I do like the way the game disc looks, though.

Next up…

Lunar: Silver Star Story and Lunar 2: Eternal Blue for the PlayStation. This is one of my most favorite series, so I feel the need to own nearly every version of the games. (Minus the Best versions of these ports. That’s just a little too excessive for me.) Getting these two has brought me closer to finishing my collection of Lunar games, needing only the English version of Legend and the Japanese PC port of Silver Star Story. I’d love to get the Korean release of the latter, as well, if I even remotely knew where to begin looking for it.

Back covers of the two games. I don’t know why I didn’t do this for any of the previous games, but here we are. I’m getting all nostalgic just looking at those screenshots!

Game discs and the manual for Silver Star Story. I will admit that I’ve never been that fond of how Japanese versions do disc art. Sometimes simplicity is rather nice, but I guess I’ve always leaned more toward color and various imagery. As long as it doesn’t look like artistic puke, I guess. Also, this and Eternal Blue are missing their spine cards, which is the only time I would actually be upset over that.

A little view of inside the manual. An interesting thing is how the Japanese manuals always told you how old the characters were, but were never revealed in the English versions. Although it was the Mega CD version of Eternal Blue that first started listing them in the manuals, not The Silver Star. I guess considering some of the uh, content you can encounter in the Lunar games, maybe it was best to leave the ages ambiguous in the West. Though to be fair, most of the characters look older than they’re supposed to be, but I honestly feel like that regarding a lot of teenage anime characters from the 80s and 90s. You can sit there and tell me Ronfar is 19 all you want, there is no way that man is any younger than his late 20s!

Disc 1 and the manual for Eternal Blue. Disc art stands out a little bit more, but I guess I prefer this over the cutscene stills used on the English release. Actual illustrations would have looked so much better, but maybe the art was difficult to format to a disc label.

The other two discs. Why does Ruby come before Lucia? The only thing I can think of is that she’s part of the group before her, but even so. It just feels peculiar.

Inside of the manual again. Going back to the age thing from earlier; did you know that a couple of characters were aged up between the Sega CD original and the remake? It’s true! Ronfar and Jean are listed as being one year older in the Saturn manual than they were in the Mega CD one. The PlayStation manual is consistent to the Saturn version. I still think all the ages are preposterous, but I guess canon is canon.

Next up…

Dark Wizard and Popful Mail for Sega CD, Dragon Force for Sega Saturn. Remember when I mentioned that thing earlier about the Vita version of Ar nosurge? Yeah. Right in the middle there. Those two were of equivalent value so I figured that was a fair trade. I’ve wanted Popful Mail for years, but the last time I considered getting it was in 2013 when it was still roughly $80 CIB. I don’t know what happened in the past few years, but that definitely spiked and left me a little dismayed. Dark Wizard was another Sega CD game I had interest in, and Dragon Force was part of a smaller collection goal of owning all of the RPGs that Working Designs had published. Unless a rock hits me over the head or some small fortune falls into my lap, I’m considering my Sega CD collection done. Sega Saturn is also done, but not as of this post. You’ll know what I mean soon enough.

Back covers of the three games. Nothing says 90s like cheesy slogans. I don’t know what the heck happened to that barcode on Popful Mail, but I’m not gonna lose sleep over it.

Dark Wizard definitely has a very black and white manual. Truthfully, I don’t know how common this was in the early 90s, as most of my experiences were with SNES games and all the ones I can remember were in color. But half the Sega CD manuals I’ve encountered have been black and white. Although now that I think about it, I can remember even some PS1 manuals that were lacking color. Namely any Squaresoft game that wasn’t a Final Fantasy.

Popful Mail‘s manual is in color! Those neon colors are the epitome of late 80s and early 90s design, god damn. That layout is really something else, too. But back then I probably would not have been complaining, because it was a manual in color! And I wasn’t even old enough to attend school yet when this was released. My biggest complaint honestly is the receipt that the previous owner left in the case from a Video Game Exchange in 1998 that stated that this game cost $3. That’s not even remotely nice, but I kept it for the sake of humor.

By the time Dragon Force was released, color manuals were a little more common. And I see that whoever was in charge of this manual’s layout at Working Designs definitely stepped it up from Popful! Although there is still a lot to take in on just these two pages, but character sections were always my favorite part, anyway.

Next up…

Phantasy Star Fukkokuban, Phantasy Star II, Phantasy Star III, and Phantasy Star IV for the Sega Mega Drive. Oof. I lucked out with this and found all four games together in a lot for a decent price. They’re in varying conditions, with PSI and PSIV definitely being the best of them. I think they’re a wonderful thing to have, as I typically wouldn’t bother with getting CIB Genesis/MD games. I’m also fond of the original Phantasy Star series, despite how the first three aged, which is to say not so well.

Back covers. I truly love the art on the back of PSI. I would get that in poster form if I could.

A look at what is inside the Mega Drive version of Phantasy Star. This version is very neat, as I don’t think it was sold normally. In fact, I think it was only released through a contest of sorts? I’m not sure what the particulars are on that. I do know that it uses the Master System soundtrack instead of the superior Mark III version, which is a bit of a bummer. Regardless, this is a very cool game to have.

I’m not sure what the Mark III manual looked like, but I think it is safe to say that this is probably very faithful to it.

Contents of Phantasy Star II. Why are there holes in the side of the manual? Did Sega create some sort of small binder to keep your game manuals in, despite having durable plastic cases to do the same thing? I need a Sega expert to tell me what’s up, here. The game came with a nice map, though!

First page of the Characters section. I like how obvious it is that those screenshots are photos of the game running on a television or similar display.

The Motavia world map. The opposite side was a chart of sorts, listing skills and items I believe? I only looked at it briefly.

Now we have the contents of Phantasy Star III. This one was in the worst condition of the lot, honestly. It is missing the map, the manual has some wear and staining in some spots, and there is some sort of highlighter marking on the cartridge. I’ll likely replace this down the road with a nicer one, but that won’t be so bad, as this was the black sheep of the series and therefore the cheapest. When I get that map, I’ll probably update this post with a photo of it.

Obligatory character page. I like how different the art styles are between the cover art and the character art, but those proportions are weirding me out just a little. Namely Wren.

And finally, the contents of Phantasy Star IV. Both this and PSI came with a little fold-out pamphlet detailing various Mega Drive and Mega CD games that we’ll take a look at in a moment.

Ooo, we get character ages to go along with our normal proportions now, too.

Another Motavia map. Interesting to see how much it has changed between Phantasy Star II and IV! The back of this map is similar to the PSII map in that it just has charts.

This is sort of random, but I wanted to point out this thing from the back of the PSIII manual. I don’t know why, but I love it whenever an old game manual would instruct you on how to take good care of your game cartridge or disc, especially when it had illustrations of the characters doing the exact thing the text is telling you not to do.

PSIV had the same thing, although not as ridiculous. PSI and II also had these sections, but with generic illustrations. Get with the program, you two! I’m not satisfied unless I see the characters from the game I purchased doing a bad job of taking care of their game cartridges.

Here is that software pamphlet I mentioned earlier. Definitely a few neat things in here!

The opposite side. I feel like an idiot for chucking even slightly at the title “Mega-Soft Information”.

Next up…

Seiken Densetsu Art of Mana: 25th Anniversary. Goodness gracious, this was a birthday gift and it was a wonderful one. For years I had wanted some sort of Mana series art book and considered picking up the one for Legend of Mana. (There’s no way I could ever afford the one for Seiken Densetsu 3.) This hardcover book is filled to the brim with wonderful illustrations from the original Seiken Densetsu all the way up to the Secret of Mana remake, albeit only a few pieces for the latter. Certainly, this doesn’t contain all concept drawings for each game that you could imagine, but it is a fantastic collection nonetheless.

We begin with pieces illustrated by the late Hiro Isono. A wonderful tribute and an excellent way to start off this magnificent book.

This anniversary illustration with characters from just about every Mana game is really delightful. It’s so colorful and cute!

Another anniversary drawing, this time by HACCAN, who has been a reoccurring artist for the Mana series. His style is mostly associated with the two most recent remakes and the Switch collection.

Various character artwork for Seiken Densetsu, known in the West as Final Fantasy Adventure.

I know that when most people think of HACCAN’s art, they think of Adventures of Mana and the Secret of Mana remake, but I have to take a moment to draw attention to his illustrations for the mobile remake of Seiken Densetsu released in 2006. They’re positively stunning and to this day my favorite depiction of the characters. I wanted to show all of them, but this will have to do.

More HACCAN artwork, this time for the 2009 Japan-only mobile port of Secret of Mana. This is the style that was ultimately adapted to the Mana series today.

A few pieces for Seiken Densetsu 3, illustrated by Nobuteru Yuuki. He is an artist that I admittedly haven’t paid much attention to in the past, to my regret. But as of the past year or so, I have really come to appreciate and admire his works.

A few concept illustrations for Legend of Mana. The game just wouldn’t be the same without this style, so if there is ever a remake down the road, I hope that it retains it. I adore how unique it is.

Next up…

Valkyrie Profile Material Collection. As long as we’re on the subject of art that I love, can I mention just how much I love the art for the Valkyrie Profile games? Namely the first, but also the second. This means that I would naturally need to get this set for my art book collection. Also, as much a I like to take the spine cards off of books and tuck them away for safe keeping, there’s no way that can really happen with this due to the size of it, so it’s staying on.

The two books included in the set. The one on the left is the World Guidance book, which has less a focus on art and instead details much about the world’s lore. A book I would love to be able to read in depth. The one on the right is the Illustrations book, which is what we’ll be looking at first.

We’re immediately greeted by this two-page foldout of the cover illustration. Another piece I would love to have as a poster, if I could!

Table of Contents. I can’t help but smirk at some of the Romanizations of the Japanese names.

I could pound my fist on my desk and tell you how much I love this art style, but I’m just going to tell you calmly that I greatly appreciate it and how much it stands out compared to other titles in the genre.

Various illustrations of key characters.

A spread for the different artwork for our heroine, Lenneth Valkyrie. I like that one page is comprised of her finalized artwork and portraits, while the other is detailing her outfit from different angles.

The same page setup for Freya. This book has this for every key character. It’s wonderful to see just how much detail went into this game’s cast.

The other two Valkyrie sisters, Hrist and Silmeria. I’m a little sad that they didn’t get more than just concept illustrations, but considering their roles in the story, I suppose it makes sense.

Going into the World Guidance book, we can see that there are very detailed spreads for various information regarding the characters. I also made a mistake and forgot to take a picture of the foldout of the cover illustration for this book, but you can probably imagine what it looks like.

A similar page for Lucian. Again, every character has a couple of pages like this dedicated to them.

A section dedicated to climate and botany. I told you this was a very detailed book regarding the world and lore.

Another section regarding regions and religions. How I would love to be able to read every last word in this book.

And another section detailing the gods and goddesses of the world. An incredible companion to the illustration book, as not too many games have something like this, leaving a lot of what goes on in the world to your imagination.

Next up…

Seiken Densetsu: Legend of Mana manga adaptation omnibus edition. A few of my childhood favorite series had manga adaptations that completely went under my radar when they were relevant. Legend of Mana was one of these, so of course I always curious about it. Finally I managed to find the complete set in omnibus form for a decent price, so I snatched it up. One thing I immediately noticed was gold foil on the title and the design in the lower corner of each cover. It’s a very nice touch!

Some color illustrations inside the first volume. While the art style doesn’t particularly stand out to me, I will say that it is nice that the game got this sort of attention in the first place. I’d imagine an adaptation of Secret or SD3 happening before Legend, but you just never know what to expect with things like this.

Color illustrations inside the second volume.

A couple of pages from the second volume. Of course I had to track down the page with the chocobo, right? One thing I didn’t care for in the manga adaptation was the personalities they gave the lead male and female, known in this as Toto and Imu. Although I suppose it is better than being relatively without personality, like they are in the game. It also seemed to have a lot of humorous panels throughout, which I felt was a bit much. Overall though, I’m pleased with the adaptation.

Next up…

Xenosaga Episode III Original Sound Best Tracks – Yuki Kajiura Selection. I’m sure I’ve stated how much I love Xenosaga in the past. It’s right up there with Lunar as far as my favorite RPG series go. So you’d think I’d have the soundtracks for all the games by now, but no. I had one promotional CD with three tracks on it and that was it. That was until my birthday, at least, when this was gifted to me. Now I’m inspired to get the other soundtracks that I’m missing!

Because this was brand new, it came with the flippin’ memory card holder, which is really neat! I love that the front and back inserts are made from a semi-transparent plastic instead of paper.

The discs and the booklet. It pains me that there are only two discs to this soundtrack, but I guess when you consider that the game probably has 4-6 discs worth of music, I guess it needed to be a little more compressed. But it still bothers me and will continue to until I either die or they officially release a full soundtrack. At least the remaining tracks were ripped and uploaded online, I suppose.

The back part of the case where the memory card case is stored. I’ll have to make sure to get the Episode II soundtrack with its case, as well.

Next up…

Xenosaga Episode I KOS-MOS promotional t-shirt. This is an odd one, as I don’t normally buy game apparel, but for starters, it’s Xenosaga. Secondly, I actually already had this shirt, but I bought it when I was a teenager and didn’t take the best care of it. Despite the size, it was worn a few dozen times and definitely became faded. I wanted a collectible replacement, and I just so happened to luck out with finding one for a good price. So here we are! This one can stay nicely wrapped while the old, worn one can be assigned the Pajama Shirt role.

Mercy! This was such a long post! I knew I had a lot of items and even more photos, but you just don’t realize how much there is until you’re writing about every little thing. But it was fun, and I certainly enjoyed it. It’s not very often that I get such a heavy helping of RPG loot in a month, so it was kind of a treat. I have that collection reevaluating to thank for that, though, as it funded over half of this. Without it, it would have been a much different month and I certainly wouldn’t have reached such collection milestones. I’ll probably do a smaller post at the end of April to offset it, but then I’ll return to bimonthly posting.

Thank you for reading! Looking forward to the next RPG Loot post!

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