A Style of Baroque

Today is May 14th! This probably doesn’t mean anything for a lot of people, but for Baroque fans (like yours truly) is the anniversary of the Great Heat Wave – or the Blaze, as it was called in the localized PS2 remake.

Personally I prefer the original game, though I have invested countless hours in the remake as well. But that one has been brought to the west, while the original game hasn’t. So as a celebration, let’s have some screenshots.

Commentary and some explanations will be included. The screens are taken from the PS1 version played on a PSP, which allows for screen grabbing on a very limited number of PS1 Classics (and only japanese ones, I believe). The pictures are taken in the original 320×240, so I’ve resized them to 640×480 for easier viewing. Also, the console automatically watermarks them. Interesting.

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Hello, world! Enjoy the new post-apocalyptic setting. We have red skies, ominous towers, and all that. Let’s prepare for a tower run.

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This is a roguelike, but a console-style roguelike. The Collector will store your things, so that you can find them again after you die. He will only store a limited number of items (but in my complete savefile, his limit is a good 50).

"Into our trespasses". The entrance of the tower looks suitably dark. It was kept dark in the remake too, but not so much the rest of the game.

“Into our trespasses”. The entrance of the tower looks suitably dark. It was kept dark in the remake too, but not so much the rest of the game.

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Your brother’s phantom is always ready to scare the crap out of you in this version, scare chord included.

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The draw distance isn’t exactly great in the remake, but the original game is even worse. And wait until you get blinded by a Bullger.

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Eliza’s room is a bit nicer than most. Granted, nice by Baroque standards, which means it’s still predominantly grey and brown. But at least there’s some yellow!

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Urimm and Thomnim, or Uriton as they’re called in Japan, are pretty much useless in the game. At least a guy with a face protruding out of his shoulder looks kind of creepy, which suits the theme of the game.

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An Ikei (Meta-beings in the Atlus localization)! This is Bullger. The white symbols mean she’s in Lust status (won’t attack me). That’s not why she’s naked though. By the way, notice the design: it was censored for the PS2 remake, so she wears a sort of dress there.

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Alice’s room looks somewhat cozy. She doesn’t look all that different, but her hair is brown rather than red. I guess red would have been too light.

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Trivia: the maps in the original game can never have any overlapping corridors, unlike the remake, where it’s a common occurence. This might be some kind of engine limitation. The whole game looks like it has been programmed on the cheap (a 1998 Saturn game really shouldn’t look this bad… and the PS1 version even has improvements to the transparencies).

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The Cursebringer Angel will fuse two items into another item, or purify your food items if they are rotten. But he appears so rarely that he’s not really worth counting on.

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A consciousness orb! These allow you to send items to the outside world (the collector will store them: in the Saturn version, they just appeared outside the tower), for use in your next tower run.

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Two discs. Stepping on these will produce some effect. But you won’t know until you try (unless you have a specific brand). For the record, the left one is an explosion disc, as the Ikei around the room found out the hard way.

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That on the ground is a torturer: essentially, an item that has whole-room effects, and sometimes even whole-floor. The big mess around is a result of a summon trap: the summon torturer calls all the Ikei and items of the floor into the room you’re standing in, and then you can use an attack torturer (in my case, Fire and then Ice) to kill everyone quickly. A common tactic.

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The first brand (items that will grant you a special status effect but can’t be removed normally) I found in this run, a shockwave brand: it will randomly eject shockwaves when you are swinging the sword. Mostly useless, really, because the range is terrible. I’ll try and get a better one soon, but I need an Unbrand item before I can put in a new one.

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The Mind Reader hides a surprise. You won’t see it so soon. You can give her any item and she’ll “retaliate” by shooting out bones and discs. Some rare discs can be obtained this way, since you can’t pick up discs already set on the ground.

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The Box-bearer, on the other hand, doesn’t have many surprises. In this game, if you give hi ma box, he will give out a random item. In the remake, he will give out another box instead, which makes him the best choice for box farming.

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Soconpo, the first really dangerous monster. At least for me, since I’m used to the game. For newbies, even the fish monsters in the beginning can be deadly.

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A Koriel member, imprisoned for some reason that will be explained in time. The visual fanbook sketches are far creepier than what you find in either the original game or the remake.

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You can put them out of their misery (in fact, they ask you to) and get their Crystal for your trouble. It’s not especially useful in this version though. In fact, there are many red herrings in the original game. The remake gives more items a proper purpose.

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A dangerous situation… Seventeen can be a bit annoying for first time players. All monsters in the original game are, since they have a much better ability to get your hitbox even if you are circle-strafing them.

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Somehow this guy looks a lot creepier than the remake version. Would you believe me if I told you he’s just comic relief?

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Destory a wall (there are no doors in this game that can be opened, but at least some walls can be destroyed to expand some rooms) and find a Liar there. Far more dangerous than in the remake, she attacks with lighting strikes and her dashing good looks, good enough to put you in Lust status.

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There we go! In Lust status, all items and monsters are shown this way. Nice but dangerous (I sure hope you don’t step on some annoying disc you can’t recognize). Monsters at least can still be recognized by the way they move and sound. In the remake, I think their shadows stay the same, so you can use that.

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Liars drop Unbrand items, which allow you to remove a brand from yourself. Good, for example, for taking off that useless shockwave brand. This one here instead is a triple swing brand, which will randomly triple my attack power. Much better.

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Parasites are items that can be attached to other items (or yourself) to give them status effects. Unlike brands, they can be removed easily by applying another parasite on top. On this screen, I applied a thunder parasite to my sword, to give it a lighting attack effect.

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The Guidance Angel, or Dr- Angelicus in the localization, speaks in a weird manner, with random katakana words. This was obviously lost in the translation, but also in the voiced japanese remake. Too bad.

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You can usually find a clonation fluid in her room. Fluids are used to heal from status effects or enhance your stats… or sometimes, worse. This clonation fluid will create a clone of any Ikei it’s thrown to. Longneck is especially afraid of it.

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Bubugeru is the stuff of nightmares. And he’s quite dangerous too, much more than in the remake.

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Eliza’s room in the 15th floor. The water looks ridiculously ancient now, but it’s quite an effect overall. We are getting closer to the last floor now.

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Last floor before the bottom one. No monsters here, but a couple consciousness orbs to prepare yourself for the next run, and also this guy here. He’s very plot-relevant.

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The bottom floor, where the Divine Perpetuator resides, and memories of System Shock. Cue the cyberspace music theme.

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“You have no ‘past’ to control yourself.
I have no ‘pain’ to control myself.
So, don’t get closer.
You’ll go crazy too.”

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The Divine Perpetuator in all his/her glory. From here, you can choose to shoot her (which doesn’t advance the story) or fuse with him/her. I’d go for the latter choice.

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The story is moved forward with some really cheap CG videos. For the record, apparently you don’t want to die, so your brother just kills himself. It’s just a metaphor, by the way. Don’t read too much into it, not just yet.

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Not content with this solution, the surviving brother chooses to remake a reality where he died in place of his brother. If it doesn’t make any sense, that’s because it is not supposed to at this point yet.

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And now you are back to the beginning, ready for another run. Only this time you are playing as the brother instead, like a sort of tortured version of Mario and Luigi (not really).

The story has only just started.

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