Greetings, future Zweiholics! Are you ready to learn a bit more about Zwei: The Arges Adventure, our upcoming action RPG slated for release on Steam, GOG, and The Humble Store by Humble Bundle on Wednesday, January 24th? Well… you’re in luck, because I’m ready to knowledge-bomb you like nobody’s business!
Last time, we talked about some of the more fascinating elements that were encountered during localization which are no longer present in the game, so this time, what say we talk about some of the more interesting elements that are totally still there (in one form or another, anyway), just waiting to be discovered?
For starters, let’s discuss the masked “master” character, who serves the same function in Zwei: The Arges Adventure that Gallandeau served in Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection: he teaches you new “arcana” (read: combo moves) at the end of very specific dungeon paths. Except… all of those dungeon paths are 100% optional, so you could theoretically go through the entire game without ever even meeting him. Until the point in the plot when you’re forced to meet him, anyway! And once you reach that point, he reveals his true identity, meaning he’s no longer a mysterious masked master.
So what happens if you wait until after he’s unmasked himself, THEN hit up all the arcana paths in the dungeons?
Well, for one thing, his unmasking scene plays out quite a bit differently, since Pokkle and Pipiro will be meeting him for the very first time (a scene I had a lot of fun writing, particularly when Pipiro calls him “the living embodiment of stranger danger”). But then after that, when you proceed down the arcana paths, you’ll find no master awaiting you at all. Instead, you’ll simply find books! Books that give you electric shocks when you read them, teaching you the missing new arcana in the process (and leading to some pretty funny conversations between the two protagonists as they hold off touching the tingly tomes as long as possible, since they know just what’s coming when they finally give in – or rather, when Pokkle finally gives in, since Pipiro sure ain’t touchin’ that crap!).
I love it when RPGs include that kind of attention to detail, and that’s really just one example of many. But there’s still more to discuss, too. Like the new stuff we added to fill in the gaps left behind by stuff we couldn’t quite include from the 2001 Japanese release.
See, in the original Japanese version of the game, there were three launcher apps you could unlock in addition to all the minigames: an alarm clock, a calculator, and a calendar. Matt (this game’s intrepid programmer, if you’ll recall) was originally going to port all three of these over into the final English version of the game, making them available to display on the HUD alongside the Pet Monitor, but he ran into some unexpected technical and logistical difficulties doing so. By the time he encountered these difficulties, he’d already successfully ported over the clock, but he was struggling with the calendar in particular.
Behold the glory of the Zwei clock! Also available in digital form – just click that little “A/D” button.
This was when we realized, there’s not really any use whatsoever for a calendar or calculator in-game. Like, at all. I mean, I guess the same could be said of an alarm clock, but at least theoretically, if you’re playing the game in full-screen and you’ve got a hot date later or something, you could set yourself a reminder alarm for when you want to save and quit so you can get ready. (I dunno! It’s plausible, right? Right?!)
So the calendar and calculator were disabled. RIP, outdated desktop apps!
…Except, hold on. It turns out there’s actually an optional boss in the game that you can only get to by unlocking the clock, calendar, and calculator. Yes, seriously.
This means we had to replace the two missing apps with something else that could trip the same event flags. So I thought about it for a bit, and two new items were born: the “Clock Manual,” and the “Clock Warranty.” These two book items replace the calendar and calculator, and when used, they expand upon the lore of the clock (now the “Cursed Clock”), directly relating it back to the optional boss in question and giving tips on how and where to find him.
That’s not the only time we found that something in the game was more than meets the eye, though. Remember how in my previous blog, I said there was about two and a half games’ worth of text in the game’s files, including character backstories and plot arcs that were apparently cut from the final release? Well, some of that belonged to a hidden robot. And that particular text wasn’t quite as unused as I first thought.
We didn’t know this robot still existed in-game until we were deep into QA, but you have to find him in order to get one of the items necessary for 100% achievement completion on Steam or GOG Galaxy, so it was inevitable we’d come across him sooner or later. And while his original text unfortunately could not be included in the English version of the game as-is, the robot is still there, with a little bit of newly written text for your perusing enjoyment. And he still gives you one of the items you need in order to get all the achievements, so be sure to keep an eye out for him as you play! If you want to know where to find him… well, here’s a hint: this is the controller I switched to in order to accomplish the particular feat required to test his new dialogue.
You could say it met my… needs.
You may not have to do the same. You may be a far more accomplished gamer than I. But for me, this was the best option I had, and it worked like a charm. (Plus, it was IMMENSELY SATISFYING to play Zwei: AA and achieve something noteworthy using an MSX controller… but that may just be the MSX enthusiast/gaming hipster in me talking!)
Anyway, speaking of finding very well-hidden things, this game also has 16 collectible “bromides” in it. Remember the bromides from Lunar? Yeah, they’re kind of like that, only… less naughty.
In fact, in the original Japanese, they were MUCH less naughty. Because they didn’t do anything. They were literally just collectible items that took up space in your inventory. Catch ‘em all, and you got… the satisfaction of knowing you caught ‘em all! Which is fine, of course, and certainly not without precedent – I’ve played many other games that have had similar collection elements in them – but we thought it was a little bit of a shame to have these items in the game without giving the player a chance to actually look at them. So… we contracted the same artist who drew all our achievement icons for both Zwei titles to draw full-sized images for all 16 bromides as well.
Yep. The bromide pictured here is one of the easier-to-find ones (though none are actually easy to find), but there are 15 more out there, just waiting to be seen! (And like this one, most of the others have secret cameos in them by characters from other Falcom titles, added with the full support and permission of Falcom themselves.)
We also hired an artist whom we’ve worked with in the past (on Ys: The Oath in Felghana and Ys Origin) to help expand some of the 4:3-resolution game areas and system screens to display in 16:9 without breaks in the art. Over time, his involvement grew, and he wound up designing a handful of tutorial images for us (since this game never previously had any in-game instructions or tutorials whatsoever, and is decidedly not intuitive enough to get away with that!). And boy oh boy, are these tutorials ever something special…
He also did a bunch of other stuff, including creating images for each of the status ailments, implementing virtually all our translated Japanese graphic text, and redoing the look of the arcade machines in “Undine Land” (you’ll find out about this place when you play) to better reflect the games contained within them.
Pretty nice, huh? Certainly makes The Typing of Ys feel a little more like it belongs in-universe!
So, yeah. This isn’t just a simple localization, nor is it really a port. It’s not quite an uprez, and it’s not quite a remake. It’s something altogether unique, and decidedly very special to us – to all of us who’ve involved ourselves with this game. It’s something we’ve poured our hearts and souls into, doing everything in our power to make it the best version of Zwei!! the world has ever seen, and to ensure you have a truly memorable and rewarding gaming experience when you play it. And we all hope very much that you do indeed love playing it as much as we loved working on it.
Be sure you don’t miss this one when it releases on January 24th.
(Oh, and check out the website, while you’re here. It’s pretty outstanding! Particularly that Characters section. Don’t think we’ve ever had something like that before on one of our sites, and it truly is something to behold!)
You can see the full roster at http://www.visitarges.com, along with a bevy of other information about the game!
Anyway, take care, future Zweiholics! May we meet again somewhere, someday, in the vast expanses of Granvallen!