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A cute catgirl, right on the title screen. Folks, I believe we have a winner here.

Armed Dragon Fantasy Villgust

Well, the title is certainly a mouthful. I started out with no idea what this game was about, so I looked into it. Apparently, it's a game based on an anime film called Villgust, which is about a group of heroes sworn to protect the titular world of Villgust. I don't know if the film is available in English, but if someone could point me to an English version I'd be much obliged. Anyhow, while there are better RPGs on the NES (FF3j springs to mind,) Armed Dragon Fantasy Villgust, or ADFV as it will heretofore be referred to, is pretty darn good.

Plot

Unfortunately, this is about as deep as the plot gets.
Unfortunately, this is the game's biggest weakness. The dialogue is, quite simply, inane. J2E is, or was, a very good translation group, but there are several spelling errors, so I'm left wondering whether this is the fault of the game itself or if J2E was just feeling lazy. You receive exposition at the beginning, where it is established that Murobo the wolf-warrior-guy is the chosen Goddess Hero, and then things seemingly just happen through the rest of the game. Of course, there are enough hints dropped to where you know what to do, but precious little explanation is ever given for why things happen. For example, why do Murobo and company have to kill the Magician? (We are informed that he's researching the bad guy's secret for prolonging life, but to me that would seem to be a good thing.) Maybe it all makes sense if you've seen the anime, but that's hardly an excuse. In an RPG, the plot is supposed to be one of the strongest points, not the weakest.

Gameplay

Do they? Those rotten monsters!
Though the plot may be virtually nonexistent, the gameplay makes it all worthwhile. Genre-wise, it's a side-scrolling action-RPG like Zelda II: The Adventure Of Link: normal gameplay action takes place on standard-RPG-style top-down screens, but the battles are sidescrollers. This is the game's real strong point; Zelda II was slow and unwieldy, but ADFV is smooth and responsive. I have only one problem with the gameplay; it uses the clunky Dragon Warrior-style menu. But since practically every RPG up until Final Fantasy did that, I'm willing to let it slide. Overall, it's well-balanced and fun to play.

Music/Sound

That's one cute catgirl...
No complaints here. It's definitely some of the better music I've heard on the NES, and the songs are definitely appropriate for the situations they are played in. There are refreshingly few sound effects; no "boioioing" for jumping or squeaky "ouch" sound. Overall, not quite as good as the MegaMan or Super Mario Bros. games, but good nonetheless.

Graphics

...and two. This game has reached the minimum Cute Catgirl quota to qualify as a personal favorite for me.
In a word, beautiful. (And I'm not just talking about the two cute catgirls in the game!) The backgrounds are beautiful, the colors are perfect, and the character designs are great. My only gripe is that there's not enough character animation.

Conclusion

Overall, there are some parts of the game that could use improvement (like the inane dialogue,) but it is definitely the best action-RPG I've played on NES. I highly recommend it.

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