World Court Tennis – STEV Rising: REVENGEANCE

Scan0006World Court Tennis
TurboGrafx-16, 1989
Developer: Namco
Publisher: NEC

I had taken out Witt. Conquered one of the six tennis courts and obtained a mystic pearl of unknown purpose. I knew I probably needed more practice, but vengeance – no – REVENGEANCE was running through my veins. I needed revenge against Sevens.

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Ah, just look at his stupid face and Hitler youth haircut! I couldn’t move on until I cleansed the stain of my loss to Sevens from my near pristine 15-36 record. Yes, I would have to beat him, and I would have to beat him in a crudely edited montage set to Finnish power metal.

I hope you enjoyed that. It may be the most work I’ve ever put into anything ever. Someone send me a certificate. I now use Windows Movie Maker at a 10th grade level.

NEXT TIME: WE GET ON WITH IT ALREADY!

World Court Tennis – IKUZE!

Scan0006World Court Tennis
TurboGrafx-16, 1989
Developer: Namco
Publisher: NEC

After recuperating from my devastating defeat at the hands of the sinister Sevens, it appeared that a new plan was in order. I clearly wasn’t good enough to take on a serious challenger yet… or was I? Clearly, I had been called to this surprisingly verdant sports themed wasteland for some reason. Somewhere deep in my heart of hearts, I just KNEW I was destined to save this kingdom – or at least spend untold hours of my life chronicling my attempts to do so for a “fanbase” of less than 2,000 readers.

No. The more I thought about it, it was just impossible. I was great at tennis. My “D” ranked shoes, racket, and shirt, however, were not. They had abandoned me in my time of need. What I needed was “C” ranked gear. Gear that would appropriately “C”ompliment my prophesied tennis greatness.

World Court Tennis - Quest Mode Screenshot 2015-07-01 20-09-34

Ah, the mysterious northern town! This had to be where I would find the racket of destiny. It was time for another pilgrimage. But to where? Germany? Finland? Maybe… Buffalo? Western Europe had been just  a short jump from Chicago, after all. Regardless, I concluded that my quest would have to proceed northward. Whether it was German beer, Baltic herring, or hot wings, I was up for the challenge. So I started walking…

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Through the foothills….

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Through the fjords and the forests…

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Over bridges and through more fjords and forests…

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Between secluded sylvan streams…

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Into  barren river vall…. OH FOR GOD’S SAKE, WORLD COURT TENNIS! HOW COULD YOU JUST SHOW ME THE FRIGGING TOWN IN THE DISTANCE AND MAKE ME WALK FOR ANOTHER FIFTEEN MINUTES. I HAVE OTHER THINGS TO DO, YOU KNOW! PEOPLE HAVE JOBS! I’M NOT EVEN FACTORING IN THE FACT THAT A MENTAL INVALID STOPPED AND DEMANDED THAT I PLAY TENNIS WITH HIM EVERY 5 SECONDS.

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YEAH, NICE HAT PAL. REAL GOOD DISGUISE. THAT HAT CAN’T HIDE YOUR HIDEOUSLY DEFORMED ORBITAL BONES. I CAN TELL YOU’RE THE SAME DOUCHE THAT TOLD ME TO GO NORTH IN THE FIRST PLACE. I’LL ONLY RUN INTO COPIES OF YOU WITH CLOWN LIPS, A HOCKEY MASK, OR SUNGLASSES ABOUT 15 MORE TIMES BEFORE THE END OF THIS THING. WOULD IT HAVE KILLED THEM TO PROGRAM A FEW MORE FACES? 

*ahem* Sorry about that. Got caught up in my passion for tennis there. Anyway… after questing through the wild nuclear forests of the North, I finally happened upon a town.

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Since my journey had taken me in a generally northwesterly direction, I reckoned that I was somewhere in the middle of what the ancient ones called the Atlantic (you know, in the times before the great tennis cataclysm). My best guess? Reykjavik.

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Good God! How?

GlobeTennis

Looked like sushi was on the menu. Most expert cartographers will tell you that east, or perhaps west, is the best direction to head if you want to get to Japan from France. Conceivably, I could have taken Santa’s Shortcut… but that would have required me to head northeast, not northwest. I was now convinced. I was in some sort of temporally distorted Pangaea that had somehow been filled with modern cities and populated with tennis playing lobotomite clones. Or maybe androids. It was the only explanation. The real horrors of Tennis Kingdom lied in the hidden truth of its origins. What had happened here?

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Tokyo was a modest hamlet – far from the vibrant electric metropolis I knew it to be in my home realm. Six huts, a shop, and a giant lake. I was eager to hear what its inhabitants had to offer.

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Fortunately, I got two of ’em. HA!

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That’s a relief, I haven’t been vaccinated for that particular affliction.

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I am quite happy with my size, and don’t call me “racket.”

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Don’t try to butter me up, pal. I can tell you’re a member of the Sevens series of lobotomite androids. I’ll never forget that face.

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Anyway, Tokyo didn’t have much to offer. It DID have a shop filled with “C” ranked gear, though. “C,” as it turns out, is far more expensive than “D.” I needed to acquire some more Tennis Yuan… and that meant more… well, tennis, what else?

I hurriedly left Tokyo, back through the fjords, forests, and valleys. My destination? Paris. If I needed to mug some tennis rapists, it would only be more enjoyable if they were French. After a solid 2 hours of tennis-assaulting some Gauls, I had amassed a princely sum of Tennis Drachmas. I warped back to Tokyo and equipped myself some beautiful “C” ranked gear. “C.” It stands for “Champion.”

While wandering around the Parisian wilderness, I noticed that there was a small peninsula to the east that I had not yet explored. My curiosity getting the better of me, I just had to take a look.

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A tennis court. Literally, about a ten second walk from Paris. I silently cursed this Parisian, who had sent me on a ten minute death march towards the doom known as Sevens.

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This court was inhabited by a gentleman named Witt. Like Sevens, he also possessed a pearl, which for some reason, I craved. What had happened to Tennis Kingdom? Who exactly was the Evil Tennis King? The answers – they just had to be buried under those pearls. It was time to show Witt just what a “C”hampion was.

Oh, what? You don’t have 15 minutes to spare to watch me drunkenly force my way through 8-bit tennis? Fine. Here’s the synopsis:

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I had tasted blood. Sevens would know retribution.

NEXT TIME: VENGEANCE!

World Court Tennis – Advantage: Sevens

Scan0006World Court Tennis
TurboGrafx-16, 1989
Developer: Namco
Publisher: NEC

Despite some initial miscues, my plan to buy my way to tennis godhood had finally commenced in earnest. Dressed in my finest “D” grade Parisian sportswear, I was now a credible threat. It was time to take retribution on those tennis rapists. The rape-ee would now be the… wait. No. Forget I said that.

It was time to leave the lobotomite infested hellhole that the before-ones called Paris. But where would I go? Seeking guidance, I opened my menu, and saw that I now had the power to “warp” to Chicago. My latent tennis legend powers must have awakened upon contact with my expensive new French racket:

HKSJR-RQT21

That’s it! I’d return to Chicago and seek guidance from “a” Tennis King! Surely he’d know what to do. You don’t become “a” Tennis King without acquiring some degree of tennis questing mastery. I quickly zapped myself back to Chicago and made my way towards “a” Tennis palace.

World Court Tennis Screenshot 2015-06-17 20-19-12

“A” Tennis King would undoubtedly be impressed with my progress. I was sure he’d been keeping something from me – some ancient legend, some apocryphal wisdom – for the very occasion when I could prove to him that I was worthy of the quest with which I had been tasked. It was now time for him to divulge the hidden knowledge of the ancients unto me, the prophesied one!

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“Go.” Go. All he could say was “Go.” What, did I catch him having an affair with Chris Evert or something? I was beginning to understand how “a” Tennis King had lost his kingdom to his evil twin. You know, maybe if he treated his prophesied heroes a little better, he wouldn’t be in this pickle. Was he too busy cooking the city’s budget? Typical Chicago politician.

My efforts again stymied, I thought back to what I’d learned from the mentally disfigured inhabitants of post-apocalyptic (or perhaps prehsitoric – I hadn’t yet dismissed my Pangaea theory) France:

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No, not him. The other guy.

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Surely, this was not merely idle chatter. If this mentally infirm Frenchman wasted his last sentient thoughts conveying this information to me, I was surely meant to seek out this court. TO THE WEST!

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I began my trek westward, across the scorched Atlantic, and was happy to note that my new garments were, as promised, allowing me to avoid tennis challenges.

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My plan was working – it seemed that the touchy grabby brigands of Tennis Kingdom were so impressed by my “D” ranked visage, they were finally beginning to understand that “no” meant “no.”

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Well, most of them, anyway. I must have passed into the ruins of a destroyed frat house, or something. But it didn’t seem to matter – with my new racket and faster shoes, I had finally started winning regularly.

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THE PROPHECY WOULD BE FULFILLED (whatever it was, anyway). Finally, after hours of walking through the Atlantic wasteland and its spontaneously generated tennis courts, I happened across…

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…well, another tennis court. But this one had an aire of importance about it. It was of permanent construction – presumably bound to our corporeal realm by some sort of tennis magic – and ensconced in a mystical forest glade. What mysteries awaited me here? Batting cages, I hoped. I was secretly getting tired of tennis.

World Court Tennis - Quest Mode Screenshot 2015-06-30 20-35-12
Whoa, buddy. We just met.

Alas, I would befall no such fortune. As I stepped into the forest glade, I was approached by a menacing figure in terminator sunglasses. This was the man only known only as Sevens. I presume he was named this because he eight more than a few nines. Or maybe the Japanese tennis gods who translated this game couldn’t get a handle on the name “Sven.” Either way, this six was not afraid of Sevens. I knew not why I had to beat him, but something told me I needed a pearl. And he had one.

WorldCourtSevens

I dropped a close first game to Sevens, but this was clearly a contest of supreme importance – we’d be playing a full set. I smiled, knowing that my shiny new racket would help me win the day. Oh how wrong I was.

DAMN MY HUBRIS! WHY HADN’T I FORESEEN THE SIDE SWITCH? Having never played on the top half of the screen before, I was ill-prepared for this perverse distortion of perspective. My limbs failed me. I may as well have been playing with my controller upside down. Racket, I mean. Not controller. Racket. I don’t think I need to tell you how the rest of the match went.

Having hit another roadblock on my path to predestined greatness, I decided to take a rest. But that Sevens character had looked familiar… had I seen him… in… Chicago?

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No. This couldn’t have been all a perverse decoy… could it have been?

NEXT TIME: THE ROAD TO RETRIBUTION!

 

Dragon Force II – Translated and Running on a Console!

Nearly 18 years ago, I received Dragon Force as a birthday present. I finished it inside of a month, and it quickly became one of my favorite games of all time. It was the first game I wrote about when I launched this site, and I’ve been dying to play its sequel since its initial release back in 1998. Unfortunately, Dragon Force II never made it out of Japan. If you didn’t understand Japanese, your chances of booking another enjoyable vacation to Legendra were slim to none.

Dragon Force II - English Translation in Action Screenshot 2015-07-03 16-18-23

But that was then. Now, thanks to some very talented folks who know FAR more about the Saturn than I, Dragon Force II is readily playable in English. Saturn fans have been emulating the game since the full translation became available to the public this past April, but I have yet to see any accounts of anybody playing it on a console. Yesterday, I sat down and did just that: I got Dragon Force II running on the Sega Saturn I’ve had since 1996. Miracles do happen folks.

VizioForce
Look, I don’t have a CRT for a good “I’m not emulating this” photo, so just trust me when I say that the Saturn under the desk is actually hooked up to that extremely high end television.

Below, you’ll find a step-by-step guide detailing exactly how I got Dragon Force II playing on real hardware. Gameplay video and screens follow at the end of the post. To avoid any confusion here, let me make it clear that I had no part in creating the Pseudo Saturn, nor did I have anything to do with the Dragon Force II translation project – I just connected a few dots and got the game running on my Saturn. I’ve done my best to attribute credit to all appropriate parties – if there’s anyone I’ve left out, please let me know, and I’ll update this site accordingly. In short: if you like what you see here, don’t thank me, thank (1) the people who dedicated years of their lives to translating this Saturn classic, and (2) the people that continue to devise new ways for us to enjoy our favorite systems long after they’ve gone the way of the ghost.

STEP 1: GET A PSEUDO SATURN

First things first: you’ll need a way to run burned discs on your Saturn . While there are a couple of ways to skin this cat, my weapon of choice was the Pseudo Saturn.

Behold. The Pseudo Saturn
Behold. The Pseudo Saturn.

The Pseudo Saturn is a cartridge-based custom bootloader which bypasses the Saturn’s internal copy protection measures; essentially, it’s a soft-mod which makes the Saturn region-free and allows it to play burned games. If you’d like to learn more, I’d highly recommend exploring this thread over at AssemblerGames, started by Cyber Warrior X, the extremely bright mind that created the Pseudo Saturn. For the more technically inclined, he’s also been kind enough to post the source code on GitHub.

“Where do I get one of these fantastic devices,” you ask? Well, you might note that the Pseudo Saturn looks remarkably similar to an Action Replay 4M Plus – that’s because it IS an Action Replay 4M Plus, albeit with custom firmware installed. If you’ve got an AR to spare, you can try creating one yourself, by downloading the firmware and CD Installer and following the instructions included in Cyber Warrior X’s GitHub post. Please note that this also requires a hard-modded Saturn or some other less convenient method of playing burned discs. I didn’t have an AR to spare, so I just bought one with the firmware pre-installed from a friend I met on this wonderful Facebook group (thanks, Ke Kona!). If you keep your eyes open, I’m pretty sure you could find somewhere to purchase one as well.

IMPORTANT NOTE 1: Installing the Pseudo Saturn firmware may just nuke your AR. If you’re going to try to make a Pseudo Saturn yourself, do your due diligence here: Take to google and make sure that your particular AR is Pseudo Saturn compliant. I wouldn’t recommend doing this yourself unless you’ve already embraced the risk of losing your AR.

IMPORTANT NOTE 2: Once you’ve made an AR into a Pseudo Saturn, it will no longer function as an AR. No cheat codes, no save storage, nothing. Zip. Nada, Zilch. Got it? It will, however, still work as a RAM cart. Folks are said to be working on a version of the Pseudo Saturn which will re-implement these features, but as of right now, this is as good as it gets. This means you will be using your Saturn’s internal memory to save games. Stock up on batteries.

STEP 2: GET A COPY OF THE JAPANESE VERSION OF DRAGON FORCE II

DragonForce2Cover

Listen, how you do this is up to you. You can buy it yourself or grab it some other way. I’m not here to tell you how to live your life,  you filthy pirate.

STEP 3: DOWNLOAD THE DRAGON FORCE II TRANSLATION PATCH

VerveBanner

The talented folks over at Verve Fanworks have been working on this project for years now, and it recently saw its first full release back in April. They deserve all the credit in the world for fulfilling our dreams and making Dragon Force II playable in English. If you use their patch, be sure to send them some love. While I have yet to play the game to completion, it’s already clear that this is light-years beyond your typical fan translation – right up there with any professional localization.

You can download the files you need right here. You might note that there are two patches available; just grab both of them for now. The rest of the instructions contained in this post are adapted from the readme file posted on Verve’s download page. Please feel free to follow that document from this point onward (ignoring any emulator specific instructions) if you’d like.

STEP 4: DOWNLOAD MORE STUFF

To apply the translation patch, you’ll need to grab some more software (don’t worry, it’s all free):

  1. IsoBuster – This will be used to rip a disc image from your Dragon Force II CD.
  2. SadNESCity’s Delta Patcher – This will be used to apply the translation patch to your disc image.
  3. Saturn Region Patcher – This will be used to determine which variant of Dragon Force II you own.

STEP 5: RIP YOURSELF A NEW ONE

It’s time to extract some data. Put your Japanese Dragon Force II disc into the disc drive of your choice and open up IsoBuster. Once in IsoBuster, right click on the the top level CD icon, and select the following option (click the image to view full size):

IsoBuster

After you select a directory to which to save the disc’s contents, the extraction process should commence. When the process is 99% complete, you’ll receive an “unreadable sector” notification; don’t worry though, it’s not going to be an issue. Just check “Omit Sector” and “Always apply Selection,” as indicated in the image below. Click the “Selection” button and you’ll be good to go.

unreadablesector

This should leave you with a file called “Track 01.iso”

STEP 6: FIGURE OUT WHAT VERSION YOU HAVE

Open Track 01.iso in your the Saturn Region Patcher. You should get a screen that looks something like this:

RegionPatcher

There were two versions of Dragon Force II released to the public; V1.006, and a revision, V1.007. As you can tell from the image above, I have V1.006. You’ll be fine to proceed with either one, just be sure that you’ve downloaded the version of the translation patch that corresponds to your version.

STEP 7: PATCH AWAY!

Open up Delta Patcher (not Delta Patcher Lite, which should have also came with your download). Select Track 01.iso as your “original file” and select the corresponding version of the patch as your “XDelta patch.”

deltapatcher

Click “Apply Patch.” Congratulations, you’ve now got a translated disc image!

STEP 8: BURN, BABY, BURN

Now, all that’s left to do is burn your disc! I used the method for burning Dreamcast games set forth here. Though we’re dealing with a Saturn game here, that shouldn’t cause any trouble – my copy of Dragon Force II has worked flawlessly thus far, as has every other Saturn game I’ve ever burned.

STEP 9: SAVE LEGENDRA

There you have it. If everything went right, you should be able to just pop the disc in your Saturn and enjoy!

As promised, here are the screens and video. There will be more to come in the future!

I hope you’ve found this exercise entertaining and informative – shoot me a line on Twitter or Facebook with any feedback or comments!

World Court Tennis – The Quest Continues

Scan0006World Court Tennis
TurboGrafx-16, 1989
Developer: Namco
Publisher: NEC

My initial foray into Tennis Kingdom having been thwarted by roving tennis rapists, I took some time to lick my wounds before venturing out into the wilderness again. Clearly, I had a lot of practicing to do before I could even consider taking down the Evil Tennis King. In my heart, I wasn’t even sure why I was trying to take him down. For all I knew, he was just taking his rightful turn at the rotational constitutional throne of Tennis Kingdom. Why should I, STEV, do the bidding of “a” deposed Tennis King? I had no stake in this battle!

But enough. I am the prophesied one. Heroes do not doubt, and doubt of any kind can be ended in action alone. It was time to prepare a battle plan. As I sat in my home, concocting my strategy, I remembered the words of a particular Chicago yuppie who was kind enough to offer me advice when I walked into his home uninvited:

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EUREKA. If I couldn’t beat them with my talent, I’d simply outspend them. If years of Nike commercials have taught me anything, it’s that talent is just a paycheck away. I’d just scare those tennis rapists away with flashy clothes! While my losses far exceeded my wins, I’d amassed some cash – “a” Tennis King had been kind enough to give me cab fare every time I Iost.

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It would have probably been more helpful if he’d given me full access to the Tennis Kingdom treasury. He HAD asked me to save his kingdom, after all… but hey, haggling wasn’t an option. It was time to hit the shops.

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No, he couldn’t. As any RPG player worth his salt knows, “E” stands for equipped. I already had all this junk. While I’d amassed a princely sum of $9,200 Tennis Coronas, it looked like my plan to spend my way to the top wasn’t getting off the ground in Chicago. I’d have to venture out and find another shop.

I commenced the arduous trek east from Chicago, fending off every feral scumbag in a polo shirt that dared to stand in my way (actual record: 5-8), into what I assume was the desolate remains of the Appalachian Mountains.

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Before long, I stumbled across a humble settlement. What could this be? Baltimore? Philadelphia? What horrible fate had befallen the Eastern Seaboard in the tennispocalypse?

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Dear God, no. How could this be? I’d somehow crossed what was once the Atlantic Ocean and made my way to the city of lights, only to find it occupied by a race of tennis playing cro-mags. Or… was this a Pangaea situation? Had the whole world become unstuck in time, transplanting modern towns into a pre-divide land mass? WHAT TRICKERY WAS THIS, EVIL TENNIS KING?

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But the time for questions had passed. I was in too deep, and the only way out was through. It was time to see what was left of Paris. Paris was quite larger than Chicago, spanning several screens – perhaps it had been spared the full wrath of the Evil Tennis King. It had no less than 10 houses. I prayed that its inhabitants would be more helpful than the residents of Chicago.

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I sought to save them, but they spoke in riddles….

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brainless platitudes…

World Court Tennis - Quest Mode Screenshot 2015-07-01 20-09-42thinly veiled threats…

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and pointless declarative statements. Clearly something was rotten in the former France. That being said, at least two Parisian zombies offered some useful information.

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This disturbingly ecstatic gentleman divulged the location of a tennis court. While I was perplexed as to why you would need a tennis court in a land where they can seemingly materialize out of thin air, I was certain I would have to explore this.

World Court Tennis - Quest Mode Screenshot 2015-07-01 20-09-34And this man, who appeared to be suffering from some kind of severe skeletal deformity, divulged the location of another settlement of Tennis survivors.

But I didn’t come to Paris to chat. I came to Paris to shop. What did the local pro shop have to offer?

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This inventory looked suspiciously familiar… oh God, could it be that “E” didn’t mean “equipped,” but…

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My conscience forbids me from reiterating the stream of expletives that sprung forth from my mouth upon discovering that I’d spent four hours of my life fighting off the tennis hordes with grade “F” gear. IS THIS ENTIRE KINGDOM CONSPIRING AGAINST ME?

Putting my rage at the world aside, I ponied up the cash for some “D” ranked gear, confident that this would only help my quest. I then put my controller down and took a rest, vowing to return again. I would not be broken by this clumsy user interface! Because, after all, as a lobotomized Parisian once told me…

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NEXT TIME: WESTWARD, HO!