Octurbo: Exile

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Mento

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Remember how Assassin's Creed had a fairly controversial premise? Setting up a protagonist that was a Middle Ages Muslim assassin fighting the encroaching western Crusaders and the Knights Templar who were in some way tied to ancient deities and a modern day conspiracy? Well, it turns out that Telenet Japan beat them to the punch by almost twenty years.

Exile is actually ZXR II, the sequel to a Japan-only computer game about a Middle Eastern assassin named Sadler who confronts a corrupt Caliph, takes down a bunch of Buddhist/Hindu deities and then travels through time to murder the present-day Russian and US presidents for some reason. The story doesn't get any less weird in this sequel, either. This game has so much religion, politics, drugs and violence that Nintendo of America would've had a conniption fit, which is probably why it was only localized for the Genesis and TurboGrafx-CD. The latter version was translated by Working Designs, one of the better localization teams of the 16/32-bit era, and given the excellent redbook audio and voiced cutscenes would appear to be the version to play if you don't understand Japanese. Apparently, the original home computer version for MSX/PC-88/PC-98 is a little longer, including a whole sequence where Sadler travels through modern NYC's subway fighting skateboarders and zombies.

It's certainly a game that piqued my interest. Fortunately, it's one of the better games I've covered this Octurbo too, employing a system not unlike ActRaiser or Ys III with side-scrolling action stages and more sedate overhead RPG areas where the player can restock on supplies and talk to NPCs to progress the story. But there's no need to take my word for it, because I've got a whole bunch of pictures for you all.

In a Grocery Store and Want Omelette Ingredients? Try the Exile

This is another game like Last Alert where the opening voiceover is incredible. It's not Engrish-y as hell like so many others have been, but the VA's delivery is something else.
This is another game like Last Alert where the opening voiceover is incredible. It's not Engrish-y as hell like so many others have been, but the VA's delivery is something else.
The game basically sets up the events of the previous ZXR, or at least the less crazy parts, by explaining that religion has been used a tool by tyrants for centuries. The Caliph, here, was a particularly despotic example.
The game basically sets up the events of the previous ZXR, or at least the less crazy parts, by explaining that religion has been used a tool by tyrants for centuries. The Caliph, here, was a particularly despotic example.
How many of these games have sepia-toned battle scenes, anyway? I suspect it's a Telenet Japan thing, given we only just saw it yesterday with Valis II.
How many of these games have sepia-toned battle scenes, anyway? I suspect it's a Telenet Japan thing, given we only just saw it yesterday with Valis II.
Anyway, the Caliph gets himself assassinated for being a colossal dick to everyone.
Anyway, the Caliph gets himself assassinated for being a colossal dick to everyone.
Arabian Spike Spiegel here is our protagonist. He's also an assassin and, I guess, time-traveler. No idea where you'd get cigarettes in the 12th century, but as long as it looks cool the writers don't care.
Arabian Spike Spiegel here is our protagonist. He's also an assassin and, I guess, time-traveler. No idea where you'd get cigarettes in the 12th century, but as long as it looks cool the writers don't care.
The peace doesn't last of course, as the
The peace doesn't last of course, as the "Clispin" crusaders start showing up.
Oh gross, he just sneezed on this poor woman's back. These guys are jerks too! Surrounded by jerks!
Oh gross, he just sneezed on this poor woman's back. These guys are jerks too! Surrounded by jerks!
The Templar boss is pondering how the world could be united in peace under one God, when suddenly a creepy voice mocks him from the shadows. Who could it be?
The Templar boss is pondering how the world could be united in peace under one God, when suddenly a creepy voice mocks him from the shadows. Who could it be?
Well, I have no idea. The title screen just pops up right after that. Welcome to Exile! I hope you're not expecting any answers.
Well, I have no idea. The title screen just pops up right after that. Welcome to Exile! I hope you're not expecting any answers.
We start in our little assassin town of Assassi. It's subtle, that's for sure. They'll never think to look for murderers here.
We start in our little assassin town of Assassi. It's subtle, that's for sure. They'll never think to look for murderers here.
Of course we have a love interest with purple hair who looks like a teenager. Just because this is the Middle Ages, doesn't mean it's still not anime.
Of course we have a love interest with purple hair who looks like a teenager. Just because this is the Middle Ages, doesn't mean it's still not anime.
So Rumi's our first recruited party member, but the game doesn't really do the RPG party thing. You'll see.
So Rumi's our first recruited party member, but the game doesn't really do the RPG party thing. You'll see.
I'm... just going to leave this guy be. He sounds hungover.
I'm... just going to leave this guy be. He sounds hungover.
Sadler starts out with Bat's gear (no cowls or Batarangs though), but we're given a suspiciously large amount of starting money.
Sadler starts out with Bat's gear (no cowls or Batarangs though), but we're given a suspiciously large amount of starting money.
I buy Sadler some Hemp gear (only 420 GP) and have enough left over for a better sword and shield.
I buy Sadler some Hemp gear (only 420 GP) and have enough left over for a better sword and shield.
While I'm looking around menus, might as well save the game. Gotta love saving anywhere (though I didn't think to check while playing the upcoming action stage).
While I'm looking around menus, might as well save the game. Gotta love saving anywhere (though I didn't think to check while playing the upcoming action stage).
I dunno, it seems all right so far. Old dudes love complaining I suppose. In my day, people didn't complain nearly so often and we were better for it, I reckon.
I dunno, it seems all right so far. Old dudes love complaining I suppose. In my day, people didn't complain nearly so often and we were better for it, I reckon.
I'm at the Tonic store now and... what the hell is a Somnifacient? Is that something you take to stop sleepwalking? I don't want any weird and potentially harmful drugs, so I'll just buy that cocaine instead.
I'm at the Tonic store now and... what the hell is a Somnifacient? Is that something you take to stop sleepwalking? I don't want any weird and potentially harmful drugs, so I'll just buy that cocaine instead.
My goal, as Rumi explained as she ran up to me, is to go investigate some suspicious looking characters over in the desert. The eyewitness isn't being too helpful, though. I mean, which is it?
My goal, as Rumi explained as she ran up to me, is to go investigate some suspicious looking characters over in the desert. The eyewitness isn't being too helpful, though. I mean, which is it?
The guard is impressed by my party. What he actually means is that he won't let me through without extra help. Took me a while to figure this one out.
The guard is impressed by my party. What he actually means is that he won't let me through without extra help. Took me a while to figure this one out.
That weird guy making grumbling noises? That's Kindhy, a mighty warrior who apparently instructed Sadler in the martial arts. However, he doesn't actually say anything intelligible ever, so maybe Sadler just figured stuff out on his own.
That weird guy making grumbling noises? That's Kindhy, a mighty warrior who apparently instructed Sadler in the martial arts. However, he doesn't actually say anything intelligible ever, so maybe Sadler just figured stuff out on his own.
The other party member is this guy, Fakhyle. He's a mage, but a lazy one that tends to wander off to go nap in weird places.
The other party member is this guy, Fakhyle. He's a mage, but a lazy one that tends to wander off to go nap in weird places.
Finally content that I have enough weirdos following me around, the guard lets me go into the desert.
Finally content that I have enough weirdos following me around, the guard lets me go into the desert.
This is like a setting up area. I have to use the Map to travel to my next destination, but I can mess around with my equipment before setting off.
This is like a setting up area. I have to use the Map to travel to my next destination, but I can mess around with my equipment before setting off.
I'm ready to go, so we're off to check out the desert. On the other side of the continent. Really?
I'm ready to go, so we're off to check out the desert. On the other side of the continent. Really?
Well, we're at the oasis. I suspect this isn't a real oasis.
Well, we're at the oasis. I suspect this isn't a real oasis.
It's not. It's an antlion trap. Those antlions get me every damn time, I swear.
It's not. It's an antlion trap. Those antlions get me every damn time, I swear.
And Exile suddenly becomes this. These sequences are pretty similar to ActRaiser's action stages, as previously stated. I have a big Ys-like health bar that starts mostly empty but fills up the more I kill stuff.
And Exile suddenly becomes this. These sequences are pretty similar to ActRaiser's action stages, as previously stated. I have a big Ys-like health bar that starts mostly empty but fills up the more I kill stuff.
"Stuff" in this case would include a bunch of Earth Defense Force creepy-crawlies. These dragonfly assholes in particular just fly in from nowhere at incredible speeds.
WHY WOULD I EVER DRINK THAT
WHY WOULD I EVER DRINK THAT
Sadler finally makes it to a cave full of skeletons.
Sadler finally makes it to a cave full of skeletons. "Ohhhh!" he says. I don't know if that means he's surprised or if he just figured something out.
This is the Antlion, the game's first boss. It's no pushover, popping out to poke you in the face with its pincers before dropping below the earth before you can get a retaliatory hit in.
This is the Antlion, the game's first boss. It's no pushover, popping out to poke you in the face with its pincers before dropping below the earth before you can get a retaliatory hit in.
I eventually figure out that there's a few platforms to the right, and from here I can leap down and hit the antlion with this downslash attack. It's a lot safer than staying on the ground. Worth noting: when fighting a boss that travels underground, Tremors rules apply.
I eventually figure out that there's a few platforms to the right, and from here I can leap down and hit the antlion with this downslash attack. It's a lot safer than staying on the ground. Worth noting: when fighting a boss that travels underground, Tremors rules apply.
Eventually its head falls off and the rest of the body explodes, which is normal for antlions as any entomologist would tell you. No big fanfare or anything, nor do I get my health back.
Eventually its head falls off and the rest of the body explodes, which is normal for antlions as any entomologist would tell you. No big fanfare or anything, nor do I get my health back.
Still, I'm fairly sure this is the exit. I'm home free, at last.
Still, I'm fairly sure this is the exit. I'm home free, at last.
Oh for crying out loud...
Oh for crying out loud...
Yeah, let's just call a Mulligan here and try again.
Yeah, let's just call a Mulligan here and try again.
Sadler eventually finds a corpse at the back of the cave. Mission success?
Sadler eventually finds a corpse at the back of the cave. Mission success?
He's holding a message from the Templars. Clearly, this was the suspicious man I was sent to locate.
He's holding a message from the Templars. Clearly, this was the suspicious man I was sent to locate.
Yuug D'Payne, when not spitting rhymes for Death Row Records, is the leader of the Templar Knights. He's based on a real historical figure: the actual Grand Master of the Templars, Hugues de Payans. The localization team was given instructions to change any real names to avoid controversy, however.
Yuug D'Payne, when not spitting rhymes for Death Row Records, is the leader of the Templar Knights. He's based on a real historical figure: the actual Grand Master of the Templars, Hugues de Payans. The localization team was given instructions to change any real names to avoid controversy, however.
We're off to Homis Shrine next. It's for homies only, so I know this Yuug guy just wants to bro out.
We're off to Homis Shrine next. It's for homies only, so I know this Yuug guy just wants to bro out.
Yeah, no thanks to you guys. You didn't think to get some rope or something? There were giant bugs down there!
Yeah, no thanks to you guys. You didn't think to get some rope or something? There were giant bugs down there!
Rumi seems skeptical about conversing with the Knights Templar, given how they're currently murdering and enslaving anyone who happens to look vaguely Middle Eastern, but Sadler's determined to see what he wants.
Rumi seems skeptical about conversing with the Knights Templar, given how they're currently murdering and enslaving anyone who happens to look vaguely Middle Eastern, but Sadler's determined to see what he wants.
El-In is where Homis Shrine resides, so I guess we'll be going there next. I did earn a bit of money from beating up all those bugs, but not quite enough to afford the next set of equipment. This Octurbo entry is already long enough though so let's call it here.
El-In is where Homis Shrine resides, so I guess we'll be going there next. I did earn a bit of money from beating up all those bugs, but not quite enough to afford the next set of equipment. This Octurbo entry is already long enough though so let's call it here.

I continue being intrigued by this game, after playing it a little. The action stage controlled well and gave me a run for my money with that tricky boss. I don't doubt I'd have died several times in there without that starting money (and the save state button, if I'm being honest). Everything else about the presentation is impressive too, especially given that this game came out in 1991. The localized script is competent (which counts for a lot in this era) and the music's catchy. The boss fight music in particular reminded me of the boss music from Plok, though maybe that's a stretch. I do like Plok's music a whole lot.

Honestly, though, if I were to keep playing it would be to see where the story's going. I've already gotten the Cliff Notes version from the HardcoreGaming101 article on the series, but it sounds wild enough that I'd like to see it for myself. Exile saw a TGCD sequel that was also localized and released in the US, so maybe we aren't quite done with this series just yet.

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Karkarov

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Man I actually remember this game. That intro voice over! Nice read, brings back the memories :)

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Jeust

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Never heard of it before. Sounds interesting.

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