Tengai Makyō / Far East of Eden series
Group DescriptionTengai Makyō (Japanese: 天外魔境, literally "Devil World Outside of Heavens", a Buddhist expression referring to the illusionary perception of the objective world), also known by its English-language tag-lined title Far East of Eden, is a series of Japanese-style role-playing games, most of which are set in a medieval Japan-like world and contain distinct elements of comedy. The series has gained a considerably degree of renown in its homeland, though none of its main installments were ever released in the West. Created by the manga artist Teruhisa "Prince" Hiroi, Tengai Makyō was the flagship series of RED Company and also one of Hudson Soft's major franchises. The two companies developed most installments in the series jointly.
AuthorshipThe series originated on the PC Engine (TurboGrafx) CD system with Tengai Makyō: Ziria (1989), the first role-playing game (and among the first games generally) to use the CD-ROM format, and also the first game in the genre that had a strong comedy flavor. In the accompanying booklet, a mysterious Paul Hieronymus (P.H.) Chada, apparently a Western historian interested in the Japanese culture, was introduced as the creator of the series. In reality, P.H. stands for "Prince Hiroi", while "Chada" is an anagram of "(Hiroshi) Adachi", alluding to the series' real author. P.H. Chada kept appearing in the manuals of the sequels as well, represented by pictures of Sigmund Freud or Karl Marx.
Setting and StoryWith the exception of Tengai Makyō: Daiyon no Mokushiroku: The Apocalypse IV (1997), which takes place in a comical rendition of United States of America, all Tengai Makyō games are set in the fictional land Jipang, which is similar to feudal Japan with supernatural and parody elements ("Jipang" was an early European designation for Japan). The antagonists in all the games are powerful demon clans, while the protagonists usually belong to the noble Fire Clan, whose duty is to save the land from demonic usurpers. The stories in Tengai Makyō largely follow the formula of the heroes defeating their demonic adversaries one by one, liberating areas controlled by them. The antagonists are often grotesque and comical in appearance and behavior, regardless of their villainous motives.
Recurrent CharactersThough the main cast of heroes is different in every game (with the exception of the eccentric performer Kabuki Danjūrō, who stars in two games), a few supporting and antagonistic characters appear in nearly all Tengai Makyō installments. Among those is the European missionary Hoteimaru who speaks grammatically incorrect Japanese, the avaricious homosexual brothers Ashimoto, and the baboon Manto, notable for his stupidity and continuous failure to foil the plans of the protagonists.
GameplayThe gameplay in Tengai Makyō games is usually of the traditional Japanese kind, with simple turn-based battle mechanics, linear story advancement, and automatic leveling up. The player usually controls a sole hero in the beginning of the game, with other characters joining the party later. A recurrent gameplay element is the acquisition of magic spells at special locations (usually called "Tengu Retreats"), which are normally not required to visit in order to advance the plot. These spells can be then freely swapped between the combatants.
Front cover for Tengai Makyō II: Manjimaru
Front cover for Tengai Makyō: Daiyon no Mokushiroku - The Apocalypse IV
Front cover for Tengai Makyō: Fūun Kabuki Den
Front cover for Tengai Makyō: Ziria
Front cover for Tengai Makyō III: Namida
Screenshot from Tengai Makyō II: Manjimaru
Screenshot from Tengai Makyō: Daiyon no Mokushiroku - The Apocalypse IV
Screenshot from Tengai Makyō: Fūun Kabuki Den
Screenshot from Tengai Makyō: Ziria
Screenshot from Tengai Makyō III: Namida