Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Game 30: Dragon Warrior III (NES) - What's With The Pit?

I have a feeling this wasn't a fair trade...
Just a feeling though
Everything for the pursuit of the quest. Baramos must fall; even if it means trading priceless artifacts capable of changing one's appearance for an old sailor's thigh bone. The hermit wizard was eager to throw me a bone for the staff. A little too eager. Still, I couldn't pass up on the offer unless I wanted to wander the torus looking for a ghost ship. Now that I know where it frequents though, maybe I could keep the staff next time.
My body lies over the ocean... thatta way!
The ghost ship, located south of Romaly, was operating with a skeleton crew and a couple stowaways. One of them was a monster awaiting my arrival, and the other a treasure hunter looking for a fabled horde. Errol was among the crew even though he wasn't a criminal like the others. He, like Olivia, longed for his beloved. From the bunks I sifted out the Locket of Love, and left poor Errol to his fate. Back at Olivia's promontory I had some trouble finding the exact spot to use the locket. I think I used it in every tile between the one I was pulled from to the one I was pulled towards. This last tile was the one I needed.
Strange, you don't look like a Simon
With the way clear, I easily found the Sword of Gaia in the shrine's jail. Poor Simon was long deceased, which is odd since it seemed his son was searching for him recently. Sword in hand, I made a short trip back to the pirate's hideout since I'd seen the clue for an orb within the screenshots I was putting together for the last post. Below the hideout was a jail where a man was kept. He only revealed the pirates returned at night. Off to the right side though was a boulder, which I easily pushed around. Searching under it revealed stairs to a hidden room with the red orb.
That boulder is just asking to get pushed around being out here all by itself
Half the orbs! Half! At this point I had no leads on any others, and my only clue was the path made by the Sword of Gaia when I threw it into the volcano. It triggered a violent reaction. Lava flowed out of the mouth, and down the river. Once solidified, the lava flow cooled, and created a land bridge to the area below Isis. There was a cave ripe for exploration.
Really, it was quite a spectacle with the ground shaking, lava flying everywhere, and the screen flashing
The next area held a bunch of monsters that really stepped up the difficulty. They ate quite heavily into my resources, restricting my range to the point that I questioned if I was early to the area. However, I didn't have any other clues to fallback on. Nevertheless, I searched every town with the echoing flute and came up empty. Inside the cave were even more powerful monsters capable of multiple attacks, casting away party members into limbo or instant death, and using area effect spells that quickly drained my HP. I came away from my first exploration with a new piece of armor and a couple levels, but little hope of making it through.
I even returned to these treasures in the pyramid I left behind--they are the only chests in the game that glow yellow
With some effort, and a whole lot of luck, I managed to select the correct path to get through the cave on my second attempt. I picked up the Thunder Sword along the way, but foolishly failed to equip it until Baramos, which I'll get to by the end of this post. On the other side of the cave I could see his castle, but no way to reach it. Instead there lay a shrine nearby. Inside was a solitary figure who bestowed unto me the silver orb. Glad I searched this way, but now I was really out of clues.
So close, yet so far
Once again, I went back to every location, not just every town. Once again, I played my heart out of that flute. And, once again, I didn't hear its sweet echoing tune. However, I did manage to find another orb, this time by mere chance. I had entered the town where Everhate was staying during my last search and failed to notice the changes that occurred (too focused on the flute's response). This latest round of searching I noticed an NPC in the town proclaiming it Everhateville. Still no echo, but I was intrigued. During my search of the perimeter I accidentally stepped out of town. When I stepped back in, the woman that had greeted me was replaced with a soldier that proclaimed that it wasn't just Everhate's town anymore.
What do you mean 'finally'? I was here just two seconds ago and everyone was praising him
I'm not sure if the town was a fixed timer, but the evolutionary changes only happened once the town was visited, or if it changed automatically each visit regardless of the time passed. In any case, the town reached the end of its cycle, and now Everhate was in jail. He appreciated the situation for what it was, and accepted it even though I'm completely in the dark about what happened. In any case, he told me of something he'd hidden behind his thrown. Guess what it was... the yellow orb. Somehow, between the time I entered previously--while Everhate ruled and I'd used the flute--and the time I exited and re-entered, a mysterious man came to town and gave the orb to him.
Seriously! What did you do?
I placed this along with the other orbs on the altar in Liamland, and stared into the flames blankly. I'd exhausted every location I could reach and played the flute. Finally, I started my way back through the towns, and had planned to speak to everyone. I thought maybe I'd missed a vital yet subtle clue. It didn't take long before I stumbled back to Lancel (it's a short boat trip from Liamland, in fact it was my first stop). There I met man who said something a little odd. Previously I think I'd brushed his comment off as an odd reference to the shrine with the final key, but now that didn't make a lot of sense based on the distance to that shrine.
You know, that shrine wasn't all that bi... wait, am I missing a shrine?
My first reaction was to race outside and start searching off the coast for a shrine. No luck. Next I started examining each tile for a hidden shrine on the island. Nothing turned up.  Finally, I tested all the exits from the village until, once again, I just happened to stumble upon the one path leading to the north side of town. There a shrine about three times larger than the town was sitting just out of sight. Only in a video game could a shrine of that size hide due to the fact the party always entered from the south. From the shrine I could access a path to the cave known as the Navel of the Earth. A path only the hero was allowed to enter.
There better be an orb in here or I'm going to tear this world apart
The monsters inside weren't too difficult for Victar alone by this point, and despite a few rude messages suggesting I turn back, it was easy going. I was definitely wary of falling prey to mimics though, so I skipped all the side treasure rooms until I came upon an area that seemed likely to hold the final orb. The very first chest I opened turned out to be the one containing the blue orb. The last orb was mine!
So long as I didn't accidentally throw it away
Luckily I had one slot in my inventory. It was filled up by a random fairy water drop I received from battle. I had forgotten enemies could even drop items; it's that rare to receive one. I easily tossed that away, and took the orb in its place. The manual suggested that if I don't discard an item the prize from the chest would be lost, but I wonder what happens to key items. I wasn't brave enough to find out. I made my way out without touching another chest.
Back at the shrine I found someone who confirmed I collected the orbs in the wrong order
The rest of the characters back at the shrine weren't much more help. One mentioned Eginbear and using the Invisibility Herb, and another hinted that I'd need Everhate's help. In any case, I had the last of the orbs and made my way back to Liamland to claim my prize. Placing the last orb on the final altar released the phoenix Ramia from her egg.
As the only typo I've seen in the game I'd be remiss if I didn't point it out, Dragon Warrior is a support of high times
The guardians (or watchers, not really sure what to call them) warned me that only one pure of heart could ride Ramia. Obviously that meant my party could. I flew the phoenix to the Dragon Queen's castle. It was the one surrounded by mountains north of Baharata. The queen was sadly ill. Before she passed, she presented the party with a sphere of light. At the time of her passing she also laid an egg as well. A new dragon will be born into the world.
I hope this dragon is as kind as its mother
The last place to explore was Baramos' castle, but I decided to try and land inside the area around the Navel of the Earth. It failed spectacularly.
Why? I've already been here, what's the purpose of preventing the whole party from entering?
Well, there was one more place... the Great Pit of Giaga was a pit right next to final castle. There were a couple guardians that warned me that no one who entered ever returned. I didn't find anything of use there at the time. That only left Baramos, and the final assault on his castle. The castle assault went easily, but the fight against Baramos was the toughest one yet. Much harder than Orochi.
Too soon? Pretty sure I've done everything else
I tried brute force. I tried using Ironize to drain his MP, but didn't even get close. I only tried twice before I gave up for the night. I did find a Demon Axe and an Unlucky Helmet during the second assault. Retro, my backup merchant identified the Demon Axe as not cursed, but didn't mention whether the helm was cursed or not. I guess that means it's cursed, but I couldn't find anyone to test it on. Join me next post for the thrilling conclusion.
I feel kind of bad being trounced by such a goofy looking enemy
Elapsed Time: 6h55m (Total Time: 31h47m)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Game 30: Dragon Warrior III (NES) - Here, There Be Dragons

Uhhh, what! That's a thing?
Oh that feeling of loading up a file and staring down memory corruption. Luckily I was playing on adventure log 1, but I've now made it a habit of ending the night with a safety copy to both log 2 and 3. I'm not sure what I would have done if it were my current saved game. Let's just not go there.
blah, blah, blah, GO SOUTH
A shrine south of Portoga had the man pictured above. He gave me a quest to find 6 orbs scattered throughout the world, and told me about the towns of Tedanki, Baharata (which I'd already found), and Jipang. I found them in that order as described around the coast of the continent. Finally with a little more direction I set out in search of the orbs. I arrived at Tedanki at night after exploring a small inlet. There I learned of the final key, which would allow me to open jail doors. The town of Lancel, south of Baharata was my next stop.
Looks pretty destroyed to me, but at least everyone survived... right?
I didn't quite get the "joke" until I spent a night at the inn. In the morning, the town of Tedanki was deserted. Not a single soul was left alive in this town. Baramos had come. He had destroyed. The local prison, which had a guard and prisoner at night, now had only a body with a message scrawled on the wall: 'I wanted to give someone the Orb'. The first orb was here, but first I needed that final key. I picked up a lamp of darkness for my trouble.
Is this the same volcanic crater where the battle took place between the dragon and Ortega?
I worked my way around the shore, and came across the volcanic crater mentioned in Tedanki. I have a feeling this is the same one from the intro. There wasn't anything I could do in this area though, so I moved on to Baharata and then south. Lancel sat on a small island with relatively weak enemies. There was also a cave in the middle surrounded by mountains, except for a one tile spot blocked by the town. The way the over world works when you exit a town or castle is it always places the party right on top of it, except in the case of this town. So, that cave is currently off-limits it seems (it really wasn't, but I'll get back to that in the next post).
Even an invisible party can't bypass the town
Inside Lancel I found some equipment upgrades, and a rumor about a vase that could lower the tides. Located in the castle of Eginbear, northeast of Portoga, I wonder why I was directed to Lancel. Well, it seems Eginbear are hoity-toity royals that don't allow country bumpkins like me to waltz right in. Lancel's tool shop offers invisibility herbs. Using them conceals the party for a short time. It can make navigating a bit difficult, but the guard never saw me coming.
Good thing they didn't have a one tile-wide hallway
The main attraction for Eginbear was the vase. Someone mentioned a shrine that sunk into the ocean, now marked by shoals. I supposed that's where I use the vase. The only problem was locating it. Actually, that wasn't much of a problem. In the basement were three boulders and a white tiled area... you can probably see where I'm going with this.
Now you can definitely see it
I managed to squeeze those boulders into the room; doing so opened a secret passage to the vase. The vase didn't do much when not used at the proper spot, and I hadn't really seen any shoals yet. So, I headed off to Soo, a town to the far west of Eginbear said to be home to Indians. I managed to miss it and sail completely around the continent. During my exploration I came across a shrine with more travel doors, all barred on the other side by jail doors. A tower--which I left alone while I continued my search--and a pirate hideout (strangely vacant) were the only other stops before arriving at Soo.
I did find some shoals... just not the right ones
Soo, a play on Sioux I believe, was located in the middle of a reproduction of North America. I've slowly come to the realization that the world map resembles Earth. From Soo, I learned of a new settlement on the east coast. Greenlad to the north (covered in ice) was home to a wizard. Someone else mentioned the Echoing Flute in a nearby tower, which now sounds with a repeating tune when orbs are present (crests are so last game).
A horse is a horse of course, of course
I stopped by the spot on the east coast where a town was supposed to be, but only found a single old man who mentioned that he wanted to build a town. He couldn't do it alone though, and asked the party for help in finding a merchant (any level would do). I noted it for later; I was still on a mission to get the final key. I took Ed's advice and headed west. I soon found some shoals in the middle of the ocean. The Vase of Drought raised a shrine from the ocean depths. The only thing beyond the key was a talking skeleton who told me of a great pit name Giaga in the mountains of Necrogond (an area spoken of in Tedanki where Baramos resides).
This somehow represents exactly how I feel about finding this key
Finally! With the final key I went back through the areas I visited that had a jail door to open. The first was the shrine north of Baharata, where I thought I would be able to change my class. I was wrong. That shrine is actually called the Promotory of Olivia. Long ago, Olivia despaired; her beloved was lost at sea. She threw herself into the seas, and now her spirit calls back all ships that sail into the area. Her beloved's name was Errol, and it's believed having an item of his would calm her soul.
A ghost ship? This game has everything
I found a few other random bits of lore while traveling, but nothing really stood out as exceptional. The king of Samanao was said to have banished a local hero named Simon. I happened to enter Portoga at night and found that the horse is actually the long lost love of Sabrina, Carlos. The prisoner back a the start mentioned a Dragon Queen's castle. I followed the travel doors, but they all led back to the same loop. One of my last stops was Tedanki to pick up the prisoner's orb. It was a green orb.
I'm glad someone knows what I'm supposed to do with these orbs
I then explored by land; further east of Baharata, following the coast north after a while, I came upon Dhama, the shrine of class change. I tried to see what classes were available, but Celdia and Dryz were only level 19. Level 20 seemed to be a requirement. I received a scolding when trying to change the hero's class. (Who would ever want to give up being a hero?) Darkwing had just reached level 20 though, and had access to the Sage class. Finally the Goof-off would be slightly less useless. With my new level 1 sage I grinded out a couple levels. Once changed, all stats were cut in half, including HP.
I'm not really sure it works that way... but I admire your dreams
While grinding some levels I retired Celdia and subbed in Everhate, my merchant. I took a trip over the unnamed town, and delivered a new merchant for the town. From the grateful founder, I learned that the well of Soo had an item hidden at its base. I don't remember what I received from there, but it was probably good. I do have a Staff of Thunder that I can't quite place where I gained it. I picked up Celdia again, and started searching once more for the orbs.
I forgot about this hint for a good long while
I visited the pirate hideout once more, this time at night. I almost immediately forgot about the orb hint, or at least didn't bother to follow up on it right away. There was some talk of the phantom ship wandering the waters. The pirates had used a Sailor's Thigh Bone to locate it, but they'd already given the bone to the old man of Greenlad. Strangely, the pirate boss was a woman who spoke of the island of Luzami to the south west. The lone town on that island didn't offer any kind of shops. Really the only benefit of visiting was to learn of the Sword of Gaia, once held by the hero Simon, which when thrown in the volcano will allow me to progress.
An astronomer who claimed the world was round... I guess a torus is round
I took a trip to the far north and reached the spot on Greenlad where the old man appeared to live. The old man asked for the Staff of Change. The same one currently in the possession of the king of Samanao. I hadn't found Samanao at the time, but there was still a good part of the world to piece together. To the southwest of Greenlad was the town of Muor. A remote village once visited by Ortega, although the people there called him Papagatero. Apparently the hero's appearance was very similar to Ortega, and nearly everyone pointed it out. I wonder if the female version of the hero gets confused for her father as well.
While squirting people in the face is fun and all, I don't see how this helps me
A short trip south of Muor was Jipang, the town living under the shadow of the dragon Orochi. Here everyone was afraid for their daughters as Orochi required a tribute. One person let slip that Himiko, the spiritual leader of the town, had a crystal ball that might be an orb. Himiko was the one who selected the next sacrifice to appease Orochi. Without the right person, it's said he would attack and devour the entire town. When I questioned Himiko, she merely told me I must leave.
The first time I found something in a jar and it's only a woman
I felt I was a bit too early to attempt Orochi, so I moved back to the tower above Dhama. The Tower of Garuna was said to hold the Book of Satori--a book that unlocks the sage class. I explored for a bit, but realized the Echo Flute would be a better goal at this point. The tower that held it was between Muor and Soo. It didn't have anything more of interest, but I did fight a couple more man-eater chests and had to revive Celdia again (seems the man-eaters have gotten a taste for pilgrims).
This is what it looks like when the flute doesn't find an orb... when it works it's less interesting visually
I confirmed there was an orb in Jipang, but moved on to find others. However, I didn't find a single one in the first ten locations of the game. I followed up on the shrine on Liamland, and sacrificed the green orb. With no other leads I could think of at the time, I dived into the cave of Orochi. There was lava in the cave, but unlike Dragon Warrior II, this lava was impassable. The cave itself only had two floors, and really short ones. I soon found myself face to face to face (to... you get the idea) with Orochi.
That didn't go well
Orochi was pretty tough, but I was able to beat him on the second attempt. (Someone mentioned in chat that Orochi actually keeps the same amount of HP, so he gets easier on subsequent attempts.) Before I went back though, I decided to search again for access to a shrine located in an enclosed mountain range I'd spied south of Soo. The shrine I needed was only accessible through the travel doors. Within the valley was the castle-town of Samanao. I arrived at the same time a funeral was in progress; apparently the king had turned tyrannical and killed someone who complained about the king killing everyone.
Baranao, I hardly knew you
After the funeral most of the town resumed its normal schedule, but the family of the man continued to mourn him. So, the king changed since he'd taken possession of the staff of change. An old man in town let me know the king sleeps alone on the second floor. The son of Simon the hero was in town as well, but he only pointed out that his father was in jail somewhere. On the king's orders, the front guards didn't let me pass. There was a service entrance, but I decided to check out the nearby cave instead. Inside was a maze of twisty passages that all looked the same. I failed many times to find the stairs down from the first level.
I entered at night and found the king asleep, alone as promised, but I wasn't able to draw silly things on his face
Since I was completely lost, I stopped by the Tower of Garuna again to pick up that special book. I found the book, and chose Celdia to become the second Sage for my group. Back in Samanao I entered the castle during the day. As I approached the king though, he captured the party and had them thrown in the dungeon. Strangely, he forgot to take all my items, and I used the final key to open up my cell door. A prisoner divulged that Simon rotted away in a jail to the northeast of Romaly. Another mentioned that the Mirror of Ra would show the true image of anyone, and it was located in the cave to the south. The same cave I scoured and missed the stairs at least thrice.
Oh yeah, and I met the real king
Apparently freeing the king wasn't enough. I'm not sure why showing two kings wouldn't alert anyone to some strange dealings. The mirror was what I needed to finally dispel the transformation of the false king. I took another trip through the cave, and once again came up empty handed.
I circled around by ship from Romaly to find the jailor's shrine said to be the final resting place of Simon. I found an area of land I hadn't explored, but there was hardly anything to find. A castle laid just out of reach, surrounded by mountains. A random shrine with a man who claimed to have traveled with Ortega also housed some cats.
Yep, just normal cats and... what?
When answering 'no' the cat screamed, "Meow!" Choosing 'yes' caused the cat to suggest exploring the point where four mountains would intersect. I found in the middle of the forest to the south four isolated mountain tiles. At the point where they would meet if lines continued towards each, I found the world tree and collected a leaf. Leaf of the World tree is the only item that revives fallen characters, but the party can only ever carry one. Continuing my way around the continent, I found my way to a small straight that led to a large lagoon; if only my ship wasn't strangely pulled back before entering. The spirit of Olivia I assumed.
How does a voice have the power to pull an entire ship? And why can't I swim?
Exhausting all other options, I decided to return to Jipang and vanquish Orochi. As I said before, I easily took him out that second time. He left behind the Sword of Orochi (strangely not cursed, unlike the Noh Mask I found in the same cave), and a portal back to the town. It deposited me right next to Himiko, who inexplicably had the same wounds as Orochi. Turns out they're one and the same, and unless I hid this secret Orochi would attack me. Once again I fell during my first attempt, but succeeded on the second. She left behind her purple orb, which I gladly claimed as my own.
Doesn't it make more sense for the night to break?
The townsfolk were thankful I rid their town of Orochi, and the young woman who was to be sacrificed didn't know how to thank me at all. With the purple orb in hand, I placed it back in Liamland and lit another fire. The priests there said a phoenix named Ramia was sealed in an egg, and placing the six orbs on the Throne of the Golden Crown would release it.
I can think of several ways, but free weapons would be a good start
I enjoy the Dragon Warrior series for many reasons, but mostly I enjoy the open world: how the quest branches out into different yet equally viable paths. Of course, they all converge again at some point. Now I was staring down a long road of fetch quests with no other options. I needed the Mirror of Ra from the cave near Samanao to reveal the false king and claim the Staff of Change. The staff I could then trade for a sailor's bone, which should lead me to the ship where Errol perished. There I would hope to find something to appease the spirit of Olivia so I could gain access to Simon's remains, and hopefully his Sword of Gaia. The sword would open access to the volcano or something, and I'd be on my way to Baramos.
But first I'd have to find the bloody stairs! They look just like these, but where could they be?
The cave really wasn't that hard, but the encounter rate was a bit high there and I kept losing my way. Access to the stairs was only possible from the middle of the map, so my perimeter search was doomed. On the floor below there were many chests, but at least half contained a mimic. I lost Celdia once again, but used a leaf of the world tree to revive her. She was, at the time, the only one that could cast Vivify, which has a chance of reviving a character (a nice addition to the spell list from the previous game). Darkwing had a helpful spell for this area: X-Ray. The chests glowed different colors depending on what was in them. Blue for good, red for a mimic or man-eater, and yellow for a chest that had an item yet still guarded by monsters. I don't know if I mentioned it, but the man-eater and mimics don't actually have items. It's just a kick in the nuts. I found two notable items, a Stone of Life (no clue what this does) and the Mirror of Ra.
This is what the king looked like when he didn't get his beauty sleep
Back in the castle, I slipped into the false king's chambers and used the mirror. Despite the terrible blows, I managed the fight without losing anyone. With the false king banished, the true king was released from prison and the day broke again. I picked up the staff of change, and despite the laundry list (who makes a list for their laundry?) of things to do, I stopped for the night. I'm enjoying the little quests, but what I really need is to find some orbs. I'd only managed two, and I had no clues for the others (until I started making the screenshots for this post and saw the one from the pirate hideout).
I'm pretty sure I always hold reset, even when a game doesn't have battery back-up
Elapsed Time: 10h26m (Total Time: 24h52m)

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Game 30: Dragon Warrior III (NES) - A Father's Legacy

Game 30

Title: Dragon Warrior III
Released: June 1991 (February 1988 JPN)
Platform: NES
Developer: Chunsoft
Publisher: Enix
Genre: RPG
Exploration - Top-down
Combat - Turn based
Series - Dragon Warrior (Dragon Quest JPN)
The Dragon Warrior series has consistently been delayed a full 3 years before arriving in the states with an English translation. In each case, improvements were made over the originals by taking what they had learned from the latest iterations. Even though there's a sizable gap, this game holds up well against RPGs from 1991. I wonder how long that will last.
If only shields worked that well during the turn-based battles
The game stays true to the Dragon Warrior formula, but adds a couple new key features. A configurable party gives the player more control on how to tackle combat. Go heavy on magic, or straight up physical prowess. Characters are created with a name, class, and gender choice. There's also a day-night cycle; entering towns at night will change some NPC dialogue and positions.
That looks like it hurts
Dragon Warrior III is the first to begin with an intro. The hero's father, Ortega, is seen fighting a dragon near the edge of a volcano. They trade a few blows. Ortega slices off one of the dragon's wings. The dragon then bites deep into Ortega's shield, and drags him into the mouth of the volcano. Both are presumed dead. The game begins on the hero's 16th birthday. He's been invited to an audience with the king. Another first for the game is the ability to set the hero's gender. I wonder if the fawning princesses change their tune had Ortega had a daughter.
*Plop*
During the meeting with the king, he acknowledged the death of Ortega at the edge of a volcano (not sure how he knew), and how he expected the hero would follow in his footsteps. As promised, I named him Victar. The main goal is to defeat the Archfiend Baramos. Although the world has little awareness of this fiend, he poses a great threat against the world. With the main task at hand, it's time to form the party.
The default party, like I'd use them...
Now with full control of Victar, I explored the castle and town to gather clues. Talk of the castle was the thief Bakor, who had a key to open doors, being captured. He revealed an old man in the nearby Najima Tower stole it before his capture. I was also pointed towards a nearby cave that gave access to the tower, which was located on a small island. The land of Aliahan once at war had sealed off the travel door, but now it was time to find a way to open it.
I was then directed to the village of Reeve
Before I headed to Reeve I recruited party members. I named them based on those in my stream chat. It was suggested that I have a pilgrim, soldier, and wizard (no coincidence; this is the default party). I took this advice to heart, but subbed out the soldier for a fighter. Project_AKo was AKo, a female fighter. I named my female pilgrim after Celdia. Lastly, I created Karo after PrinceKaro and made him a wizard. I also created a few other characters, but we'll get to those as I used them. This was my starting party. I made my way to Reeve while building up some initial levels before I tackled the tower.
Staring down seven slimes in my first fight...frightening
Reeve was only a short trip to the northeast, easily found by following the grasslands. A townie revealed hidden tiles on the world map, those tiles that looked a bit odd, might actually be a hidden area housing passages, treasure, or hideouts. To the south of Reeve was one such tile. It had a jail door and stairs, which was a back passage to the tower and cave to the south. Not feeling up to taking on the tower quite yet, I gained a few levels while waiting for nightfall to explore both towns at night.
Drank a bit too much today did we?
While the NPC locations changed, there wasn't much I learned from anyone at night. It was interesting to see the differences at night, but it felt a bit useless. The castle was locked up, as were the stores. Only the inn allowed me to rest. Waiting until night must be done in the immediate area of a town that I wanted to explore at night as teleporting to any town magically sets the time to dawn. I'm sure I'll find some towns where the nightlife is a bit more exciting.
The cave to the tower is helpful for getting a few herbs
Finally inside the tower, I found an inn at the base. A strange sight in such a monster infested place. I easily made my way to the top and found the old man who absconded with the thief's key. I was expecting a fight or challenge of some king; however, the old man instead told me of a vision he had of giving the key to me. He asked me to accept it, and I did so gratefully.
A man who lives in the future has no present
The thief's key allowed me to open the yellow doors I'd come across. After gaining access to new areas, I learned of a magic ball that would open the travel door. I missed a clue that an old man in Reeve used to make the balls. Instead, I made my way to the shrine outside the travel door where an old man belittled me for not having a ball. "Get back to Reeve," he demanded. I found the door I missed that housed the old man and his magic balls. He provided one willingly for free.
Using the magic ball on the wall in the Cave of Enticement tears it down
On the other side of the wall were stairs to a maze of pits and twisty passages. Eventually I came across a travel door, which looked very much like the pools of water from Dragon Warrior II. The magic pools of travel, the Archfiend Baramos, this all sounded vaguely familiar. I remembered a Dragon Warrior cartoon with a villain of the same name. With the power of the Internet, I've found the cartoon once again. Sadly, only 13 episodes were translated into English; I only remember 8. I'm going to avoid watching it again for now to make sure I avoid spoilers, but I remember getting up very early to watch this cartoon. It was a lot of fun.
New weapons I can't afford, must be a new town
I emerged on another continent near the castle town of Romaly. The king here had lost his golden crown. Actually, it was stolen by a thief named Kandar. The town had an underground monster arena that allowed me to bet on the outcome. There's no sure bet, but each monster has a payout based on their strength. It's a fun distraction, but really doesn't get me anywhere near affording the new equipment. In my youth, I would have abused the ability to save and reload to fully deck myself out in new gear.
Save and load until Black Raven wins, then repeat, so easy
A couple more names are dropped as I hear of the town of Kanave, and a tower to its west known as Shanpane. Rumor has it that is where Kandar resided. On my way north to Kanave, I stopped by a small shrine. It had a silver door, I'd already seen a few of them, and a man there explained a magic key could open it. Kanave offered a few more equipment upgrades that I couldn't afford, and stories of a town put to sleep by elves. I visited at night and found one store's treasures unguarded. The poison needle I lifted did not go to good use, but it was good test to see if the world cared if I stole... it didn't.
Kanave at night gets a bit spooky
I made my way west to the tower of Shanpane, and soon found myself facing off against Kandar's band of thieves. At first he attempted to flee by triggering a trap in the floor. When I went to confront him again, he was gone and so was his treasure. Only moments later I was in heated battle after dropping down to a lower floor.
Unfortunately Karo died during the fight
Up to this point I hadn't had a single death. The game seemed easy up to this point, so I decided to make it a little more interesting. Once a character died, I'd sub in another. So, I swapped out Karo for Everhate, the Merchant. Before that though, I had to deal with Kandar and his thieving ways. Even though I defeated him, Kandar was still alive and bargained his life for the crown. I definitely hadn't missed these non-choices; not accepting just causes Kandar to tell me I should reconsider.
Right after returning the crown I encountered another question where only a single answer was acceptable
The king of Romaly was so excited to have his crown back that he bestowed on Victar along with the kingship. All the townspeople rejoiced at their new king; however, the game wouldn't progress at this point. I couldn't access my inventory, leave the town, or get free equipment from the vendors (I'm the bloody king). I couldn't even gamble at the arena. I did find the old king, and talked him into taking the crown back. I'm not sure what the purpose of that was, but maybe it'll come into play later (or it's just a silly experience).
Noaniels? I suppose that's the next town
With the party back together and on task, I made my way north of Kanave. There I found Noaniels, a sleepy little town where everyone was taking an extended nap. Everyone except one old man who pointed me to the elves to the west. The elven queen was upset that her daughter Anne ran away with a man from Noaniels, so she put the town into an eternal sleep. Since I hadn't found Anne, or her man, I searched the nearby cave for them.
I learned how to appraise items during this exploration, an ability exclusive to merchants and so far useless
Turned out Anne had fled to this cave with the Dream Ruby. I found the ruby in a chest along with a letter, her final words. She wrote that she could not live in a world where she could not be with her beloved. I returned to the queen with the letter and the Ruby. She regretted her decision, took the ruby, and gave me some waking powder. The town of Noaniels was now lively, and bustling with nothing but rumors to head east of Romaly. I suppose I now have enough levels to survive.
This whole side story is rather dark, and very little time is spent reflecting on it
When the king of Aliahan suggested I was following in my father's footsteps, I didn't know he meant that so literally. The people of Noaniels said that Ortega stayed often in one of the inn rooms, but they'd been asleep for years and there was no trace of him. The town of Assaram was said to have a key, and Ortega previously headed to obtain it.
Welcome to Assaram! Would you be interested in this diamond crusted two-piece swimsuit?
Assaram was home to belly dancers, haggling merchants, and over priced bathing suits. There was no sign of the key. One helpful man pointed me to the town of Isis to the west, in the middle of the desert. I haggled a bit with the merchants, but the items were overpriced even after talking them down as low as they would go. The nightlife was a bit more active. The weapon shop only opened at night, but I didn't have any money. A psychic tried to sweet-talk me, but led me upstairs only for her dad to pop up with some joke that was probably lost in translation.
The show wasn't much to look at either; looked just like rehearsal to me
On my way to Isis I found a small shrine with a man that told me the magic key was hidden in a pyramid to the north of Isis, and that town was near an oasis. The over world only showed a small pond or lake, but getting near it caused the viewpoint to shift closer as if it were a town. However, only two tiles near the southern edge allowed me to enter the safety of Isis. A queen of exceptional beauty ruled the land.
Just look at her... I mean... imagine how beautiful she'd be in 3D
While in town I picked up a couple things about the pyramid. There's an area where spells don't work, and most of the treasures have already been pillaged by thieves. The magic key was the only prize I sought. Some kids were singing a song about some buttons, and I noted the order down (east first, then west). Also, there was a hidden item, the Meteorite Armband, said to reside inside the castle. I wasn't able to find it though, even when I searched at night.
I did find this little guy though, isn't his evil face just so cute!
I then made a couple of attempts at the pyramid. Sadly, Ako met a tragic end. I swapped in the Goof-off Darkwing. She's stayed a key part the party. Even with her constant singing (off-key), daydreaming (instead of attacking), and attempts to flee (rather than defend), I just couldn't part with that kind glance. Then, while grinding to get Darkwing some levels, and survivability, my party became sleep locked. Probably the worst way to lose in Dragon Warrior is watching as your party is slowly picked apart in their sleep.
And so I bade farewell to Everhate
To continue the theme of trying out each class, I put in Dryz the Soldier. With some extra grinding, and some additional equipment purchased for my new warrior, I worked my way back slowly into the pyramid. One thing I hadn't encountered to this point were trapped chests, and the first man-eater was a bit of a surprise. When Celdia died my heart sank quite a bit. My original party now obliterated I considered why I was even going on with this challenge (keeping characters dead, not the RPG quest). I pressed on without her though, and made my way through the pyramid. I pushed some buttons, unlocked a door, and found the key. I did grab some Flashy Clothes for Darkwing.
I then thought long and hard about whether or not to risk these chests as well; I should probably go back and collect now that I've leveled a bit more
I subbed in another female pilgrim, Anderina, but she didn't quite live up to Celdia's heritage. I again questioned if I made the best decision. With the Magic Key in hand I revisited every silver door I marked done. The queen of Isis was in her bed chamber having a late-night party with all her handmaidens. She told me of a treasure at her feet, a Wizard Ring. I was hoping for the fabled Meteorite Armband, but I'll take what I can. The Wizard Ring restored MP, but uses were limited and it crumbled to dust before I realized I should conserve it.
I gained access to the town of Portoga as well, but the king just sent me further east
Near Assaram was a cave with a crabby old dwarf named Norud. With a royal scroll from the king, he allowed me access through Bolef's Path. On the other side I found a shrine to the north, which didn't offer anything other than a place to rest my head. To the southeast was the town of Baharata, which is where I could gather up some pepper. Unfortunately they were having trouble with a local band of thieves.
Found this little demonite hiding out pretending to be a cat, except he forgot to change his appearance
When I arrived at night in the town of Baharata, it seemed the nighttime locations and dialogue weren't used. All the shops were open, and a scripted event was happening. A woman named Tania had been kidnapped. Galen, pepper store owner and fiance to Tania, decided to take it upon himself to get captured so he can reunite with Tania. The only other point of interest were the sacred waters of the Ganges river. There's a lot of references to real-world places in this game, or places with slightly altered names. I don't know how I feel about that.
That's convenient... have you heard anything about an Archfiend Baramos?
And so it came to pass, that while exploring the nearby cave, most of my party died. Darkwing and Dryz both fell. I then subbed in MournD a pilgrim, and Smarmy another Goof-off. Both died quickly, and so my full roster was exhausted. Instead of permanently removing anyone though, I gave up on the idea of keeping characters dead and resurrected Dryz, Celdia, and Darkwing as my permanent party. They've been very good to me so far. I scoured that cave, but it didn't understand where I supposed to go until I ran across a random NPC that mentioned seeing a man walk south followed by a lock click.
Haha, like the game would actually give me a choice!
On the other side was the band of thieves. Actually, the same thieves I released. That's right, Kandar was back. After fending off his gang, I rescued Galen and Tania. Their elated jubilation was cut short when Kandar returned. Kandar went down a little tougher, but no one in my party fell. Once again he begged for his life, and once again I had no choice but to agree to release him. With Galen and Tania safely back in town, Galen gave me some pepper, free of charge.
Ship get!
I traded the pepper for a ship, and now the world is my oyster. I called it a night at that point, but anticipated getting lost wandering around the world a few times over. A man at the shrine south of Portoga spoke of 6 orbs I would find that would allow me to travel over the world without the ship. Around the coast I'd find Tedanki, Baharata, and then Jipang. But, I'm getting ahead of myself. I'm actually further into the game than I've written about here, but this post is already long enough. I'll catch up on posting soon.
This seemed like a good place to break
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