B1 Intermediate US 329 Folder Collection
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The use of color in popular video games can sometimes seem a bit like the movie The Wizard
of Oz.
Things kicked off with little or no color at all, but soon the landscape transformed
into one of bright, vivid, fantastic colors...only to fade back to shades of gray.
Truly colorful mainstream games seem to have dropped off somewhere in the sixth console
generation, and the system at the time that was perhaps home to more hues than any other
was the Sega Dreamcast.
Nearly every game I own on the system is a chromatic tour de force, regardless of genre
or whether the publisher was big or small.
There was no lack of colorful games on the Dreamcast, for sure, but one of its brightest
and most brilliant titles is sadly one that never had the chance to shine outside of Japan,
one of Sega's very own efforts at that.
Napple Tale: Arsia in Daydream.
Napple Tale was published in the year 2000 and developed by Chime, a small studio that
only worked on several other titles, including Sega Saturn Japanese exclusives Dragon Force
II and Terra Phantastica.
It's a game that is often mistakenly believed to be one of the Dreamcast's handful of RPGs,
which is understandable, since the back of the box labels it as an action RPG.
But much like Lack of Love, another great Dreamcast game that received the RPG label,
that designation is quite a bit of a stretch, and I'd say Napple Tale is an action adventure
game sprinkling in very light RPG elements, with the majority of gameplay resembling 2.5D
games like Klonoa or Pandemonium much more than true action RPGs such as Princess Crown
or the Secret of Mana.
The game is reminiscent of classic children's stories in the tradition of Alice in Wonderland
and the aforementioned Wizard of Oz, and plays out much like an interactive fairy tale.
It tells the story of a spirited, wide-eyed young girl named Arsia Porch, who just goes
by her last name, introduced to the player through Napple Tale's stylized, opening cinematic.
A deep dream about her mother's delectable stew causes her to become late for an important
date—a meetup with a couple of her friends at the town's popular Summer Solstice Festival.
Despite the rough start on account of Porch's tardiness, the three of them partake in the
evening's festivities with great joy.
However, the fun and games turn eerie, when Porch notices a strange glowing orb following
her and catches a glimpse of a mysterious figure in its light.
She's eventually lured into seeing a show in a large tent, and with a sudden flash of
light is magically transported to a fantastic, dream-like realm settled somewhere between
life and death—Napple World.
The mysterious figure Porch saw out the corner of her eye at the Summer Solstice Festival
is a meek little guy named Straynap, whom she'll ultimately refer to as “SN” for
short.
His job is that of a Tama Guide, or Spirit Guide, in charge of escorting people from
one life to the next, and it is his doing that brought Porch to Napple World.
However, it turns out that Porch wasn't meant to arrive in Napple World just yet, as she's
the unfortunate victim of mistaken identity.
Straynap is a greenhorn just starting out, and screwed up his first assignment big time
by confusing the bubbly teenage girl with someone who has a similar name...Porché...a
cat.
How embarrassing.
Thankfully, Porch can return to her own world, but only after reuniting with the six petals
that departed from her body when crossing over into Napple World.
The petals are fairies that live inside of her, which sort of represent her life essence,
and are now spread out and hidden in all corners of the dream world's landscape.
Straynap takes full responsibility for his grave error, and vows to help Porch in any
and every way he can to find her petals and see her back to the real world.
The story unfolds through the eyes of Porch and her many encounters with the whimsical
and often times plain out odd inhabitants of Napple World, either via dialogue or cutscenes
resembling a children's picture book.
In addition to the side-scrolling, action platforming gameplay mentioned earlier, Napple
Tale also features free-roaming, adventure elements.
At the center of Napple World is a town, called—what else—Napple Town, which serves as a hub
to the various locales across this strange land, and is also where many of the inhabitants
of Napple World call home.
The misplaced Porch takes up temporary residence at 13 Ice, Straynap's house, which also doubles
as the location for his ice cream business.
However, before she even has a chance to settle and take in her situation, Porch is introduced
to a fellow named Piero in his large circus tent in order to learn the various actions
she can perform in Napple World via a tutorial section.
First off, she can jump with the press of the A button, which can be pressed again to
perform a double jump.
There are a lot of objects out in the world that Porch can interact with, such as trampolines
that boost her jump, and floating lifts that she'll grab onto that propel her to higher
ground.
Out in the wild there are hostile creatures called Pamera, who can be dealt with by a
simple press of the X button, which swings the over-sized racket Porch carries around
with her everywhere she goes.
While this action is primarily used as a melee attack, it can also be used to deflect projectiles,
as well as activate certain switches.
Although the paths of each action stage in Napple Tale typically go from left to right
and vice versa, unlike many 2.5D platformers, movement in these areas is not limited to
just a single plane.
The playable game space is narrow, yet wide enough to allow Porch to move in any direction,
which is a core part of the game design.
The controls in this game feel just right, and platforming is spot on and never frustrating.
Item collection is another core part of Napple Tale's gameplay, and things can be collected
in each stage by defeating enemies or by opening up treasure chests.
Of course there are standard items like hearts that restore health, but more often than not,
the items you'll find are pretty random, like chess pieces, computer circuit boards, and
tree stumps.
These things might seem useless, but they're actually important components in the creation
of Paffets, doll-like creatures unique to Napple World.
The Remix Room is located on the second floor of 13 Ice in Napple Town, and it's in here
where you can create Paffets.
First, you'll need to break down your items into MIS, which are the Paffets' building
blocks.
By using the Decode Machine, you can rotate and search each item individually for a limited
period of time to find the three or four MIS associated with it.
The MIS are invisible, but by cycling through three filters, you can find them with ease.
Often times MIS are located on the most interesting points of the item being evaluated, and it's
never too difficult to discover them all even with a time limit.
There are dozens of different items you can break down with the Decode Machine, and it
may seem rather tedious having to do this for each one, but thankfully, you can automatically
extract MIS from items you've already successfully decoded.
Using the Remix Machine located in the same room, you can combine four MIS items to create
a new Paffet, but in order to know which items create what Paffet, you'll have to acquire
a recipe for it first.
These recipes are found in chests, but are also frequently given to Porch by NPCs.
There are 71 Paffets total, split up between two types—Action Paffets, who act as companions
to Porch, following and supporting her around Napple World, and Furniture Paffets, which
are, well, furniture for the most part, but there are some Furniture Paffets that take
the form of everyday items, such as the Dream Camera.
Action Paffets can be chosen to accompany Porch in the basement level of 13 Ice, up
to a total of five, though only one is selectable at any given time.
To choose a Paffet, you must press the R trigger to scroll through the current roster, and
pressing B performs the Paffet's action.
These Paffets have a really varied and diverse set of skills—for example, many can be used
to attack enemies, while others are used to restore hit points.
The most useful of the Paffets are those that turn into objects that help Porch get to hard-to-reach
spots, places that often hide treasure chests.
There are only a limited number of times an Action Paffet can be used, and once they're
up, the Paffet will run away.
Thankfully, though, any Paffets that run off will return to 13 Ice, and before that happens,
uses of the Paffet can be restored with items dropped by fallen enemies or by returning
to Porch's bedroom, which also recovers HP.
The Furniture Paffets are almost always made with the goal of helping out the residents
of Napple Town in one way or another.
A lot of characters will request certain paffets and provide the recipes for them, such as
the mayor of Napple Town, Frocar, who wishes to make the town more beautiful or functional.
You can help one character go from living in a trash can to having a fully furnished
house.
Some of the Furniture Paffets are necessary to advance the story, so it's always a good
idea to make as many as possible.
You'll usually receive an item from characters after completing their requests, but one of
the better rewards for helping out the people of Napple Town comes in the form of Napple
Seeds, which are given to Porch by the Church Druid every now and then as she helps the
townsfolk.
Napple Seeds are automatically planted in a pot in Porch's room whenever she returns
there, where a plant will steadily grow until four are collected, which increases Porch's
HP limit by one.
Most of the game's Napple Seeds are found in action map treasure chests, but if you
want to maximize the health bar, you'll have to complete all Furniture Paffet side-quests.
Collecting money is a pretty common staple of platforming games, so it's no surprise
that Napple Tale also contains this feature.
There are coins scattered about every level, and money bags which are dropped by decoy
Pamera treasure chests.
Coins can be used at a crank up capsule machine housed in the Collection Room, which is right
next to the Remix Room on 13 Ice's second floor.
Porch can cash in ten coins for a chance to receive a random item from this machine, a
few of which are the coveted Napple Seeds, and she can also get items to use in the Decode
Machine.
However, chances are she'll get one of several types of cards, optional collectibles in Napple
Tale.
An overwhelming majority of cards are only obtainable through the crank up machine, though
certain ones are acquired from treasure chests and by completing side quests.
There are hundreds of cards to collect, all of which can be viewed right there in the
Collection Room.
The Character, Paffet, and Pamera collections contain info on friends and foes, but also
allow you to view their 3D models with the ability to rotate and and zoom in and out.
Map Cards are all about the various locales of Napple World, and Art Cards feature a lot
of amazing promotional art from the game as well as a nice amount of concept sketches.
Finally, Music Cards let you listen to any of the songs from Napple Tale's impressive
soundtrack, which was composed by the famed Yoko Kanno, who has a prolific body of work
in television and movies, commercials, Jpop, and perhaps what she is most famous for around
the world, anime.
In my opinion, her music is some of the most underrated on the planet, as is this game's
OST.
Every single track played throughout the game amplifies the mood and experience just perfectly,
and it's arguable that the music in Napple Tale is it's single greatest asset.
There are several vocal tracks that feature the talents of one of Kanno's frequent collaborator's,
popular voice actress and singer Maaya Sakamoto, who also provides the in-game voice of Porch.
The Dreamcast has a huge library of games with phenomenal music, so it's no small compliment
when I say that Napple Tale's score is among the best on the system.
Hell, I'd say it's one of the best video game soundtracks ever put together, period.
I know I'm definitely not alone on that one, and even Sega realized how great the music
is in Napple Tale by including the elusive fan-favorite track “Folly Fall,” in SegaCon
Volume 2, the latter half of a six-CD compilation released in 2001 that collects the very best
music from the company's long and storied history of published games.
Napple Town is divided into four parts, each with a street that leads to a gate where you
can play the level of your choice via a map, of which there are three total per gate.
Time functions differently in Napple World than it does in the real world, so seasons
occur simultaneously but in different areas.
Each division of the town and the action stages attached to it takes place in one of the four
seasons.
The game starts off fittingly in the Spring area, Cherry Front Street.
The first accessible stage is "New Year's Day," which begins in the death throes of
Winter, opening up to the lush greens of Spring and culminating in a drop down an enormous
waterfall.
"The Wild Wind" is a personal favorite of mine, probably because it reminds me so much
of the first level in Klonoa.
Porch will move along floating islands, climb a mountain, and pass through windmills, at
times being carried by the wind.
At the end of the area, she'll ride a giant wind fish to another place, where she'll have
to carefully cross a bridge of musical notes.
The final area in Spring is "Wonder Bed," which is set in the dream of a character named
Alice, who is based on the heroine from Alice in Wonderland.
This level is made up of series of giant tree branches cluttered with over-sized objects
based on things found in Alice's bedroom.
The Summer stages are accessible from Ocean Blue Street, the first of them being "Ajisai,"
a level taking place on a large, circular fountain surrounded by water and blooming
flowers.
The next stage, "Once Summer," starts off as a stroll on the beach, but soon takes Porch
through a giant wall of water where hostile giant crabs await to strike without notice.
And to conclude this area, Porch will hop across the rooftops of a town, set against
a fantastic night skyline during what looks to be the Summer Soltice celebration she was
so abruptly whisked away from in "Festival Night."
The festive theme isn't just for show, as several portions of this level require Porch
to participate in some fun, and dangerous, carnival games.
The Autumn Gate is accessed from Rouge Leaf Street, and the introductory Autumn action
map is "Red and Gold," which features a humongous tree in the background, with the level itself
consisting of walkways around and inside the tree in order to reach higher ground.
"The Moaning Well" is a long, twisting path down a big well filled with dangers and a
few mine cart-like rides on water slides.
The last of Autumn's three stages is "The Secret Garden," a land that rests in the wandering
heart of its creator, a young girl named Cecil.
In this stage, Porch will need to clear three separate trials to unlock a door to reach
the center of the garden, where she can help the troubled Cecil discover herself once more.
The last season, of course, is Winter, which is associated with Silver Line Street.
"Fjorland" makes great use of its carnival setting by featuring a range of fantastic
colors, as well as ferris wheel and bouncy balloon platforming sections, ending the festivities
with a thrilling roller coaster ride that can be seen taking up the entire background
throughout most of the level.
"Snow Corridor in Ice Month," despite its odd name, is a beautiful stage up an icy path
littered with obstacles such as giant snowballs, and also has one of the best BGMs in the entire
game.
And finally, "The Crystal Palace" involves Porch making an arduous trip up the spiraling
path of a tall fortress, and then a slippery journey across an icy bridge to the structure
that is part of the stage's namesake.
Completing the main stages of each season comes with the added bonus of changing the
aesthetics and music of Napple Town, allowing the four divisions to flourish in their respective
seasons.
Most action stages are pretty linear, but there are a few stages which break from the
standard platformer formula by giving a bit of freedom on how to complete the level.
There's a 3D mini map on the bottom right of the screen, and score and time is displayed
on the Dreamcast's VMU.
High scores for each stage can be viewed in the Collection Room, though there's no real
point to improving the scores other than to test your own skills.
Within most action stages are buildings and characters that are also found in Napple Town.
It's a strange idiosyncrasy in Napple Tale, as both the Napple Town and seasonal versions
of each character are separate entities that are aware of each other and also share a kind
of physical and spiritual link.
Often times these seasonal versions of the denizens of Napple Town need help, and Porch
will have to provide that help in order to progress through the story.
Saving the game can be done in Porch's room back at 13 Ice, but save stations are also
frequently placed at the end of an action stage, next to a door that leads back to Napple
Town.
The reason for these save stations is to provide the player with a chance to record progress
before taking on the stage's boss.
Nearly every level will end with a boss fight, during which time Paffets are completely prohibited
from use...but to be honest, they won't be needed, because unfortunately, every single
boss in the game is a complete pushover.
The attack patterns are nice and varied, and the bosses themselves are cleverly designed
and interesting to look at, but the need for strategy is almost non-existent, since you
can usually just run up and strike them over and over again until their health is completely
drained without taking much damage through the whole ordeal.
The sad truth is that the single weakest element of Napple Tale comes in the form of its underwhelming,
easy boss battles.
Four of the Petals that Porch and Straynap are searching for are found after beating
and completing all of the necessary requirements for the main levels, and two are received
from helping Alice and Cecil overcome their personal difficulties in their respective
stages.
Once all six Petals are recovered, it's finally time for Porch to return to her world.
Before she goes, a big party is held in Napple Town, attended by all of Porch's new friends,
whom she'll now have to bid farewell to.
It's a bittersweet gathering, since she'll definitely miss Napple World and all the people
she has come to know, but she has her own home in the real world, and it's been way
too long since she's gotten to taste her mother's amazing stew.
With all her obligations met and Petals in tow, Porch traverses through the "Mirror Illusion,"
the final stretch of her long journey.
But as soon as she reaches the halfway point, Porch...well, I'll just leave the rest for
you to figure out on your own.
I wouldn't want to spoil what happens at the end of the game for anyone who hasn't played
through it yet, so all I'll say is that there are a couple of twists and turns, and that
I was truly moved by Napple Tale's grand conclusion.
Extra things to do in the game include finding a rather shady character named Garg around
Napple Town and in many of the stages, and discovering all of his locations rewards Porch
with a musical score.
In certain stages you can also find one of the children from town dressed as a pumpkin
in order to collect more character cards.
Bonus boss and score attack challenge stages are playable when escorting a couple of story-related
Paffets to a certain house in town.
On the main menu, all the standard settings are available to tweak, but there's also an
option for the Dream Passport 3 that would have taken you to the Napple Tale homepage
back in the Dreamcast's heyday.
An extra Paffet Challenge feature was also available for download there, but...well,
yeah, good luck getting a hold of that now.
I beat Napple Tale in exactly 16 hours, but it can be completed faster if you skip the
numerous side-quests or lengthy dialogue sessions.
I remember first hearing about this game way back when I was in high school in an issue
of Official Dreamcast Magazine, and from that point I always longed to play it.
Over a decade later, upon fulfilling that long-held desire, the suspicions I harbored
about the game were confirmed: Dreamcast fans outside of Japan really missed out on a gem
of a game.
Napple Tale is a remarkable experience, full of charm, fun, and heart.
I can easily say that it's one of the true classics on the Dreamcast, a system that has
more classics than I can count fingers on my hands and toes on my feet.
Perhaps more than any other game I've covered with Import Gaming FTW, it's a real shame
this one never had the chance to spread its wings wider than it did.
Napple Tale can be one of the more expensive and difficult to find Japanese Dreamcast titles,
but I feel it's definitely worth the price and effort to track a copy down.
If you absolutely cannot play the game for whatever reason, you should at least make
an attempt to listen to its wonderful soundtrack.
Your ears will thank you.
Anyway, as always, thank you for watching this episode of Import Gaming FTW!
Thirty episodes in, my how time flies.
I wonder if I have it in me for thirty more?
Well, until next time, this is Jimmy Hapa, a man who's already lost all of his petals
from years of debauchery...yeah, take care.
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Napple Tale: Arsia in Daydream (Dreamcast) - Import Gaming FTW! Ep. 30

329 Folder Collection
許祐綸 published on May 17, 2018
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