Anode/Cathode Tamer

Gaming Diary, 13 years later

Release Date: December 16, 1999
Price: 2800 yen
Genre/System: Collection RPG, Wonderswan

Day 1

When I started doing these game entries, I was pretty much operating self-taught Japanese. Since then, I took Japanese for a few years formally in college. These new entries are a revisitation with a much deeper understanding of the language and written up in a much better place. Please enjoy

There are a few things that make this game radically different from all the Ryo games that follow afterwards: the full-screen story pictures as shown above, the terribly awkward combination of virtual pet caretaking and battlefield maneuvering, optional dungeons that are impossible to get to unless you attended a meatspace tournament, and that the creators felt the need to have two versions of the game. None of these survive to plague the later games, for good reason.

As the light fades on the evening of New Year’s Eve, in an average house in a peaceful residential area, the long, long adventure begins here. Ryo is on winter break from school and he’ll be given a computer as a combination Christmas/New Year’s present. That it is a combo gift is lost in the HK translation, btw.

Ryo is on his father’s computer (another lost in translation nuance) in a chatroom, where discussion leads to the events of August 1999. Someone says it was an earthquake that wrecked the town, someone else says it was due to terrorism, and another says it was caused by digimon. The last person said that he heard it from a guy named Taichi. The power goes out and Ryo sits up  and wonders if there’s an blackout.

Agumon then appears on the screen while the power’s out and begs for help, saying that everyone’s been captured. It starts off semi-informally (bokutachi) and then devolves to Agumon’s standard informality (oiratachi). A digivice appears in front of Ryo, and Agumon urges him to touch it in order to go to their world. Ryo is, understandably, shocked and stumbling over his words as he asks what’s going on, does he mean this thing in front of him, what’s this about helping anyone and… Agumon goes on about how they all need his help. Ryo still doesn’t understand because Agumon is crap at explaining anything, but he goes ahead and touches the digivice. It sparkles and he disappears into the Digital World.

Meanwhile, his mother calls out for him to go check on the breakers. When there’s no answer, she calls for him several times and wonders where he ran off to. A note: she doesn’t use honorifics with him.

The scene switches to the Digital World. Ryo gets up off the ground and introductions are done. Ryo is convinced that this is a dream, Agumon attempts to explain and gets so far ahead of himself that Ryo has no idea what he’s talking about and doesn’t quite buy the explanation. Then Ryo remembers that oh, hey, he saw Agumon on his screen. Agumon says, isn’t it his father’s computer?  Which annoys Ryo a bit. (Here’s a preliminary note regarding translation, but warning for personal opinions/insipid babbling in the footnotes.) Ryo tries to steer Agumon back to explaining why he needs Ryo’s help. Agumon jumps ahead again and says that Mugendramon and Chimeramon fused and Devimon and Etemon returned and there was a time slip and…

Agumon really isn’t very good at this. Ryo tells him to slow down and try again (because honestly he has no idea who any of these digimon are). Agumon tries again and makes even less sense.

Naturally, the ground takes this opportunity to split open and the two fall into a hole. After making sure Ryo’s okay, Agumon still tries and fails to explain. So far we have: time slip, random digital errors, earthquakes, floods, and so on. Ryo tries to piece things together and is convinced that this is a dream brought about by playing too many videogames. Then there’s a sudden Kuwagamon attack. Of course. Agumon moves in to protect Ryo and the scene cuts to one of many awkwardly designed battles.

(NB: This battle would throw earlier emulators into an inescapable loop. If you are so inclined, use later emulators. I am using WSCamp for these screencaps.)

When the battle is over, Agumon finally decides to take Ryo to town, where there’s someone better able to explain. About time. Why the other digimon know who Ryo is, I’ve no idea. Ryo is introduced to Gennai, whom he thinks is human until Gennai corrects him. Gennai says that he’s both human and not human. Call him Super Old Man or something. Right.

Gennai commences the explanation of season 1 (which I won’t repeat here because I am developing a migraine), then finally explains what led to this situation. Two artificial chimeras, Chimeramon and Mugendramon, fused in order to survive after being defeated by Taichi and were reborn into something new and strange. He* is Millenniumon, the root of all evil**, nothing compares to his dark power, and he distorted and disrupted this world’s time. Taichi & co lost the battle against the evil digimon and were trapped, and Gennai was only able to warp Agumon out. Agumon says that he used Taichi’s computer to try to reach out to people for help, but the only one who took the digivice was Ryo. Ryo finally gets it because Gennai is better at explaining things, and Agumon tries to convince him again to help. Ryo is unsure on account of ridiculously big odds, and Agumon tries to assure him that if they gather all the digimon and combine their power, they’ll have a chance. Ryo’s still unsure. Gennai points out that the more they chip away at Millenniumon’s power by defeating or befriending his troops, the better chance they have. Ryo is still unsure of how far he’ll be able to go, but he’ll try. Agumon’s thrilled that they finally managed to win him over and asks Taichi to wait for them. Not that Taichi can hear anything.

And thus begins Ryo’s long career as the Digital World’s favorite child soldier. Next time: rude digimon, ruder old men, and holy crap 30 digimon is a lot of mouths to feed.

* The text is very clear on the fact that Millenniumon is male-identified. So those who insist that Mille must be a girl? Yeah, sorry. No.
** Gennai goes from informal to contemptuous here.

Day 2

Gennai sends Ryo to a nearby cave with small groups of enemy digimon. Not terribly tough. Afterwards, a botamon bounces up to Ryo and Agumon and says that Gennai had something to give them, so they head back to his house. Gennai hands over Taichi’s digivice, which Ryo recognizes as being the thing shown in front of the home computer (interesting that he claimed it as his own earlier, but doesn’t now). Gennai says that this is a holy device the Chosen Children used to evolve Agumon and the other digimon. Ryo wonders if he can use it too. Gennai shoots him down, saying no, it’s Taichi’s. However, because Ryo is a Chosen Child, he can use only one kind of power. Essentially, this is the power that disintegrated black gears in the first season; it increases in battle and allows the user to diminish the evil infection within and influence the digimon to join them. I’m guessing everything else is keyed to the owner of the digivice.

Then Gennai takes Ryo out to the pass between mountains that formed when the cave was cleared. Gennai explains, mostly for the player’s sake, that all the obstacles that Taichi and co. cleared before have returned. Ryo will have to go through them by eliminating the dark power. Then Gennai urges him forth, says that everything depends on him, and if he needs anything, go to Gennai’s house. So, yeah, the old season 1 bosses have to be defeated all over again.

Clearing the first two dungeons after the cave destroys a barrier on the way to what is probably supposed to be Mugen Mountain, though the guidebooks call it Devimon’s mountain. Upon reaching him, Devimon laughs evilly and says that he has revived to devote himself to their destruction (using kisama ra, which is very rude). Needless to say, they can be sure that he’ll show them his strength. With enough foreknowledge, this is a fairly easy battle.

Mimi, Koushiro, and their digimon are the first to be rescued. Agumon greets them, saying he’s glad they’re okay. Mimi say’s it’s thanks to them that they were saved. Koushiro says that he identified Ryo through the Analyzer, which is apparently very well connected. He urges Ryo to take the Analyzer with him because he thinks it’ll help, and Tentomon to go help Ryo. Mimi follows Koushiro’s example and tells Palmon to help Ryo. Palmon says she’ll do her best, just watch!* Both kids are polite and refer to Ryo as Ryo-san, like Ken will later, which is respectful and usually what you call someone older than you, or someone you’re unfamiliar with. It should be noted that this is the only time Mimi calls him Ryo-san. From D-1 Tamers to Brave Tamer, she takes a shine to him and calls him Ryo-chan, which is generally what you call someone you’re close to, or an endearment.

Then it’s back to Gennai’s, where Gennai is debriefed on the rescue of Koushiro and Mimi, and their return to the real world. After introductions and a bit of back-and-forth between digimon, Gennai sends Ryo off to the dark continent, which is his next stage, Server continent. Etemon hides here. Gennai says that he has a gate prepared, and sends Ryo out to use it. 

Ryo meets up with a ToyAgumon outside of town. Gennai apparently gave ToyAgumon the password for the gate, but ToyAgumon forgot it and uses the wrong words. Gennai comes along soon enough to call the ToyAgumon “bakamon” (foolishmon, essentially), berates him, then asks if Ryo really is ready to head over to Server. Once Ryo’s ready, Gennai says that Millenniumon and other evil digimon reside on Server. However, if he destroys the enemy bases systematically, he’s sure to find the road to victory. Then Genna tells Ryo to stand in the middle of the gate, and a string of digital world code streams by before Ryo is warped off to Server Continent.

I was going to press on and cover Server with this entry, but I have work in the morning.

* Ryo doesn’t actually say anything here, likely because he doesn’t really know these people. Yeah, this is going to be a pattern.

Day 3

Upon arrival to Server, Ryo is greeted by PicoDevimon. PicoDevimon says “Hi! Welcome, young hero! You’re Ryo, right? The one they say defeated that Devimon? Hm~ Amazing, eh. Heheh! I wonder if you’ll defeat Lord Etemon, naive young master.” Then he flies up to a massive gate blocking the way further. “You cannot advance past this door. Perhaps it’ll open if Etemon left, but that’ll never happen!” Then he flies off and leaves Ryo to clear the two dungeons before the barrier.

The last dungeon is where Etemon hides out. It’s generally best to have at least Tentomon in the party, because the fields can get annoying with all the barriers in place for the land-bound digimon. Etemon: “What an impudent kid! You’ll suffer… I’ll rip you beyond repair!” Holy crap, Etemon. I thought the HK translation might have been overdoing it (because, as said before, a lot gets lost), but nope.

Once you beat him, he revives and starts off with “Ki—” which is probably the starter for kisama, which is one of the extraordinarily rude forms of “you”, then “I went easy on you, and you took advantage!” Then he summons up a couple of minions, laughs, and continues on about taking neither shame or responsibility for this. Then he tells his minions to “give in and eat a lot”.

When Ryo finally beats him again, he and Agumon free Sora, Takeru, and their digimon. Agumon greets them, Sora jumps straight to the thanks-for-saving-us thing and sends Piyomon along to help, and Takeru tells Patamon to help Agumon in his place. There really isn’t much text here.

Back in the overworld, the gate blocking the way further opens up and Picodevimon is distressed. “How could Lord Etemon be defeated?! Lord Vamdemon! Help!” and he flies past the gate and to the next stage of the continent.

Once you go past the massive gate, Picodevimon says much the same thing he said before (essentially, shock that Ryo made it, and says that Ryo won’t be able to progress as long as Lord Vamdemon is there) and flies past the Vamdemon dungeon. Different verse, same as the first. Vamdemon begins with a hmph and says that given the lack of troubles, Ryo must think that he’ll win. But, he’ll have the pleasure of presenting their heads to Lord Millenniumon. Then he’ll show Ryo their difference in power. It’s a tough battle, but he falls.

Hikari, Yamato, Jou, and their digimon are rescued after Vamdemon falls,  Yamato thanks Ryo, Jou thought they were doomed, and Agumon asks if the other digimon will fight alongside him. Gabumon says of course. Hikari begs Ryo to save her brother. Meanwhile, Picodevimon flutters around in a panic over Vamdemon’s defeat and cries out to Piemon to chop them (Ryo and his party) up.

Day 4

Piemon is probably the hardest of the stage bosses, and he doesn’t even need help. Nor does he need a battle sprite that looks like him, apparently. He chuckles evilly, saying that he would expect this of a Chosen Child (to make it this far, apparently). However, this is as far as Ryo will go. Piemon introduces himself, and by Lord Millenniumon’s power, he was revived. Regrettably, he can not allow Ryo to go further. Then, because this isn’t a boss battle without threat of death, he says that this place will be Ryo’s graveyard. Gameplay-wise, I can’t recommend grinding enough, because Piemon hits really hard and has tough defenses. But, he does fall.

When Piemon is defeated, there’s an explosion behind his dungeon and a portal opens up. Make sure to prepare, because the final dungeon is a veritable run down the gauntlet. And I mean that in the old Roman way. There’s no going back and stocking up, and no time for breathers.

The portal leads to a hovering island high in the sky, with a temple of sorts. Image above. Millenniumon apparently really likes his castles in the sky, because this is an ongoing theme with him. (And, if I may hypothesize, there seems to be some of that tendency in the Kaiser, at least in regards to his flying base.) PicoDevimon flies out, panics over the fall of Piemon, and runs to Lord Millenniumon. Given that we never see PicoDevimon again, I assume he was eaten.

Chimeramon sits on the final floor of this really painful gauntlet. When you defeat him, he chuckles and says that he must demonstrate his true form. Then, surprise surprise, he turns into Millenniumon. Now come, he will show Ryo true fear, he’ll drive Ryo beyond time. It should be noted that his behavior to Ryo changes radically from this position with the passage of time. After this, he comes to respect Ryo, and in the end, Ryo is the only one he treats as an equal.

Millenniumon is, of course, the hardest of the lot. Variables don’t work on him, and he hits hard and takes little damage. It takes a bit of strategizing and the usage of defensive variables. In the end, I had Patamon’s speed raised so high that he was untouchable and ended up landing the killing blow. But this is the start of the Ryo vs Mille saga, so he’s not going to be down for long. 

With Taichi free, he and Agumon reunite. He thanks Ryo, who says no, it’s all thanks to the help of Agumon and the other digimon and can he go home now? (“Nah, Agumon did… A lot of digimon helped out. After this, will we be able to return to our world?”) Taichi says yeah, he thinks so, and if Sora and Yamato have already returned, then he probably should too. Ryo asks if Agumon and the other digimon would be going back with them, but then he remembers oh, that’s right, Agumon had always been with Taichi. Ryo and Agumon are both sad about separating, and Ryo says that he’ll be fine, don’t worry about him. It’ll be fine, Agumon. Then each of the digimon say their goodbyes, which ranges from Gomamon’s “don’t worry!” to Tentomon’s “Farewell tears are forbidden! Men must endure!” (which is actually rather different in tone from the HK translation’s “Real men don’t cry!”).. Taichi says that they’re friends, and as long as Ryo remembers these battles, they’ll surely meet again. Ryo and Agumon then hug, then part as the other digimon say their goodbyes and Ryo heads back to Gennai’s. Ryo asks them not to forget him. In town, the npc digimon say goodbye, then he’s sent back home.

Mrs. Akiyama, who had been looking for him to tell him to hurry up and fix the breaker, finds him asleep at the desk while the power is still out. Ryo’s a bit dazed and asks if he’s in the real world. Mrs. Akiyama says, what a weird thing to say, and huh, even though the power’s out, the computer’s still on. They then head out.

Mr. Akiyama has just returned home with Ryo’s combination Christmas/New Year’s present, a computer of his own. Ryo’s mom welcomes him back. Mr. Akiyama says he’s sorry to keep Ryo waiting, and it’s time to go to the Ninenmairi*. Ryo confuses his parents by saying, oh, right, it is the new year. (He might still be reconciling the time differences between digital and real worlds.) His father says he hasn’t seen him in a while and it already seems like he’s more grown up. Then Ryo wonders if he’ll ever meet them again (presumably the digimon or Taichi, given his parents are right there).

Oh, yeah, he’s going to be seeing plenty of digimon in the future.

Hope you’ve all enjoyed these posts, and I’ll start up on Brave Tamer sometime next week. Or whenever I find my old guidebook, whichever comes first.

* Ninenmairi is a Japanese tradition of visiting a shinto shrine for New Year’s and waiting there to ring in the new year. See also the Hatsumoude.

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