Baroque on the Saturn

Anyone played Baroque on the Saturn (or PS1)? I‘ve been working my way through it recently and it’s pretty interesting. I see it was mentioned in the pinned horror games thread, and it was also recently announced that next month the original version will be re-released on the Switch; it's nice to see Sting having releases again.

The core of it is a lot like a Shiren the Wanderer game - the dungeon layouts are basically the same, the item types are weird (you nibble bones) but similar to items in Shiren, and you can send items back to town like in several Shiren games. The main difference is that it's first person, real time, and really creepy and weird. (The PS2 remake was third person, but apparently that caused complaints and the Wii port of the PS2 remake added first person again.)

I picked up a strategy guide for the PS1 version (the Saturn guides are really expensive now), and having the guide makes the game a lot more enjoyable for me, since it explains otherwise mysterious items and some basic gameplay points the manual was vague on. One thing that did surprise me is that the floor guide - certain NPCs always appear on the same floor - is different even though the PS1 version was released close to the Saturn one and looks the same.

Reading about the game more I keep finding neat stuff. The PS2 version had a tarot deck as a preorder bonus, and those are pretty cheap so I picked one up. The game also had a lot of models made in development by Eisaku Kitou, who worked on Wachenroder around the same time. They released a book with setting details with photos of the models and interviews with Kitou and other staff, and that actually got a reprint in 2012 or so. And then there's all the weird spinoffs like the typing game.

I don't really like hard or unecessarily obscure games but I've found Baroque pretty enjoyable after getting used to it, I'd be curious to hear about anyone else's experience. I've seen people say good things about it but like a lot of Sting games it seems mostly overlooked.

@polm23#8523 I‘ve been wanting to play through the Saturn version recently. A Twitter post popped up on my feed, one of those "someone I knew replied to a stranger that’s saying something interesting" posts and was super intrigued (might‘ve been yours?). But it doesn’t seem like it had an English version/patch (My Japanese is super low level and I kinda want to just play this one without the extra effort :sweat_smile: ).

I have the PS2 version, but 1) it's factory sealed, one of those purchases that sat on the "to play" pile for way too long 😅 and it's like, "Do I crack this, or preserve it?!?" 2) the Saturn/PS1 version's art direction looks cool.

the sat/ps1 release is not playable for non-jp speakers, correct? I def would love to play it. At the top of my wish list with linda cube

Here‘s my advice for playing Baroque on Saturn without knowing the language - play (or watch) the first 30 minutes of the English PS2 game and you’ll get it. they basically didn‘t change the text between versions and it’s really all you need to get set up. after that it‘s go down in the dungeon and do stuff, which is pretty self explanatory, and it looks reaaaaaaal neat while you’re doing it!

I've never gotten very far, but I do intend to pretty soon.

Ah, yeah, I‘m not aware of any fan translation, I’m just playing it in Japanese. The Japanese in the game isn‘t particularly simple, but all the dialog would probably fit on just two or three pages, and the item names are very regularly structured (XX骨 is a bone, XX剣 is a sword, etc.), so with a little reference it shouldn’t be hard to follow.

One thing I've run into is that the things you have to do to advance the plot are really specific and non-obvious; having a guide helps tremendously here, but the guides just tell you how to do things and don't explain what happens if you do things a bit differently.

The game is loosely divided into chapters; I don't think that word is used in-game, but certain events cause the dungeon to get deeper and guides are structured around those. In order to get to Chapter 3 you need to 1. clear the dungeon 2. take a specific mildly rare drop out of the dungeon. I cleared the dungeon and got the end-of-chapter cinematic, but didn't find the drop, and then I started seeing a lot of stuff the guide said should only show up in the next chapter, but without the dungeon getting deeper. So the progression system is more complicated than I would have thought.

Here's an example of one of the monster sculptures. Some of these are in the setting book, but this photo is from the PS1 book, which generally has better photos. This is a particularly nasty monster with quick attacks that can also give you the "lust" condition, where everything - items, monsters - looks like a blonde woman in a robe.


this is great info thank you, I think I'll give it a try. Not being able to read something has never stopped me before.

b/t the sat and ps1 vers - which is the one to play or are they about equal?

I thought the Saturn and PS1 version were basically the same, but Japanese Wikipedia has a rather long list of minor but helpful changes.

They're mostly small quality of life adjustments, it seems like the graphics and story are the same, except for adding one (primarily functional) NPC and slight dialog changes. Some features include that the player's facing is shown on the minimap (which would be super helpful), there's an extra post-game "hell" dungeon, there's scene/item/movie lists in the menu.

It's not a big enough change that I want to drop the Saturn version, but if I'd known this in advance I might have played the PS1 version instead of the Saturn one.

Yeah this has been on my list recently. Guess I'll wait for that switch port though.

i didn't know it was a Shiren-like. Is it as...intensive as a Shiren?

Not entirely sure what you mean, but in general it feels pretty different from Shiren due to being realtime, even if a lot of the parts are the same. I also think it‘s easier overall, though maybe that’s just because I‘m in the early part of the game still. It still definitely has the feature where everything is fine until you’re surrounded by seven monsters and have just the wrong items and oh no you're dead now, though I would consider that a quintessential property of roguelikes.

Paul what's the guide called? I want to buy it

バロック 歪んだ妄想 オフィシャルガイドブック is the PS1 guide. It costs 1500 to 2000y and is A5 size.

バロック ワールドガイダンス is the setting guidebook. It costs 2500 to 4000y and is between A4 and A5 in size. It has a lot of staff interviews.

ebayed a ps1 copy, prices aint too bad. Thanks for the suggestion+advice re this weird ass game…

Ah!! I'll look for a saturn guide in case there is one… setting guidebook seems like the one to get anyway.

There is at least one Saturn guide - I stumbled upon it when I was writing my article on the game a few weeks back. It‘s called バロック 完全ガイドブック although if the Amazon Jp prices are anything to go by (over 28,000yen!) it’s not going to be the cheapest guide out there :open_mouth:

heeeeeck, I guess I'll be avoiding that one bar a book off miracle

For all of those who want to play the original game, there‘s this very helpful site, which translates all the menus, text, etc., into english. Sadly it’s not a full patch, but it's still very helpful:

You can find here NPC dialogue, translated cutscenes, menus, the list of items... Of course, for non-Japanese speakers it's much easier to play the original game after playing the PS2 remake and getting to know the story and the gimmicks ,and then jumping to the much older yet superior Saturn version.

The game is absolutely a blast. There are some big differences between Saturn and PS1 versions, as someone pointed out. The Saturn version has much better graphics and atmosphere, better sprites (they are stretched on the PS1 release), and is much more balanced. The game is shorter (and better), and it also has less unnecessary features, like the item collector.

I think I own all the guides, so if you need something in particular, do ask for it. There's also a very interesting doujin shmup spin-off game, Baroque Shooting. It's surprisingly good!

I baroque shooting indeed a doujin spinoff? It‘s on Sting’s official site and all, I always assumed it was done by them. Maybe they reclaimed it later, or something?

You are right. It's not actually a doujin game in the “made by other fan/hobby group”, it was made by Sting as you say. However, it definitely is like a doujin game in every other sense: PC gaming in japan (was this a thing outside of doujin circles and Falcom?), with a free trial version, very limited and very unknown, with the same bullethell-inspired spirit. The game is very solid and deserves more attention, however.

By the way, someone showed the sculptures on the book. Here's my favorite one, all of them where modeled by Eisaku Kito. You can look him up, his designs are very interesting:


And just a little something that I find quite interesting: the original director Kazunaru Yonemitsu is working as a board game designer and illustrator since 2015.

Speaking of spin offs. This seems to be a legit prequel?!

Yes, it's a visual novel though, and kind of has a different vibe.