Treasure Hunter G - Reader Retroview  

Who Wants Treasure?
by JuMeSyn

18-24 hours


Rating definitions 

   Sting is a developer known for doing interesting things with its games, as Riviera and Yggdra Union show. This tendency is not only a recent one, as Sting’s first development effort demonstrates. Treasure Hunter G garners some attention for being Squaresoft’s final published title on the Super Famicom, but deserves a look from any RPGamer interested in playing a blend of the traditional RPG and a tactical title done (mostly) well.

   Treasure Hunter G’s battles are not random, which fits with the rest of its interesting combat engine. Upon encountering an enemy the four protagonists flash onto a tactical-style battlefield with features incorporated from the immediate area of the encounter. Movement and attacking are accomplished without any menus whatsoever, the better to speed fighting up. All actions on the field take a chunk of the current character’s Action Gauge away, and when the Action Gauge is exhausted that character’s turn is over. All actions take the same amount of the Action Gauge to accomplish, with that amount varying based upon position. If a character is far from any enemy the ground may be clear, with 1 action point used for whatever the player sees fit. Get closer to something and the ground will be blue, yellow, or red, with corresponding increases in action point usage. Each battle has a Grade Level, and progressing through the game will find fights of increased Level with a concurrent rise in action points needed to do battle in colored tiles.

To all the seekers of goats in RPGs; this is your game. To all the seekers of goats in RPGs; this is your game.

   Simple attacking is accomplished by moving into range of an enemy and hitting it (some weapons have a range of 2 tiles, some 1). More damage will be dealt if an enemy is struck from the side or behind, however, and by using L and R the character can reorient to face any of 8 directions for either attack or defense purposes. Attacking diagonally is very useful. Certain attacks also knock enemies back a space or two, which can be both good (enemies have their own Action Gauges that must be expended in movement) and bad (since the protagonists must then chase after the enemy). Friendly fire is also a risk (though not with magic), and must often be dealt with if another character is in the way of an attack. Special note shall be given here to having a monkey as one of the protagonists, especially when Ponga is very handy to have in battle.

   Magic is generally learned by leveling up, though some spells are learned automatically as the story progresses. They have varying ranges and MP costs, though all require a chunk of the Action Gauge as well. Blue’s spells in particular are unique, as they are traps and require an enemy to actually wander onto a certain tile to work. Item usage for the character holding the item is easy enough, but using an item on another character can be trying if an enemy is in the way. Using an item on another character involves actually throwing it, and if something is in the way the result will not be what the player desired. Experience is gained through each action in battle and as a bonus to surviving characters post-battle. Similar to Shining Force or Fire Emblem, 100 experience is required to increase in level but enemies give less experience after that increase.

   Money is not granted in battle. Money is obtained (occasionally) by finding it around the environment or (far more often) by selling items. This can be a bit of a problem early on, but midway through the game plenty of spare stuff will be on hand to sell. There are other interaction issues however, foremost being item management. Each character has a maximum of 20 items that can be held, and this includes equipped items. Shifting inventory around when this maximum is full gets very annoying. The effect of new weapons and armor that can be bought is seen in a shop, but not how it relates to what is currently equipped, so short-term memory enhancement is a good idea. In battle it can be difficult to correctly denote the placement of enemies and items if there are too many sprites jammed together into one area, which occasionally means wasted effort in moving to the wrong position.

Perhaps it is time to SLEEP!!! Perhaps it is time to SLEEP!!!

   The story is the one clearly sub-par portion of Treasure Hunter G. Even though it’s entirely in Japanese nothing is difficult to determine. Red and Blue are searching for their father, and evil people are searching for Rain and Ponga for some Nefarious Purpose™. The four unite to help each other out, and keep running into the servants of some Dark Lord trying to unlock supreme power. There are neat moments such as running into a Mad Scientist (self-proclaimed) with a parrot, but nothing here that was original in 1996 and as such hasn’t aged well.

   Aesthetically Treasure Hunter G acquits itself very well. Its visuals may not be the top of the heap for the SNES, but they look very nice and some spell effects are quite impressive. The rendered sprites also give it a unique touch for the system. And the aural capabilities of the SNES are exploited to their utmost by a composition team with seven members, including such names as Hitoshi Sakimoto and Masaharu Iwata. The single largest contribution appears to have been John Pee’s, which is interesting. Sound effects are pretty good as well.

   The nature of the combat can be fairly challenging, especially with a few early battles in which unmoving clams constantly attack with methods that strike everyone while their compatriots keep the player from moving to deal with the clams promptly. Enemies are always a threat and keep the player’s attention focused well. As to the game’s length, I took about 24 hours but a save file from the previous owner seems to have 18.5 hours and is at the end of the game…. As for replay, there seems to be little incentive unless there are very well-hidden optional parts present (which I doubt).

   Treasure Hunter G is quite an interesting title. Even without a translation, playing this game isn’t difficult thanks to the intuitive battle engine. Lovers of complex stories filled with intrigue are bound to be disappointed, but anyone else intrigued by the game’s makeup will doubtless be captivated.

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