Saturday, June 25, 2016

Game #57: Might & Magic: Secret of the Inner Sanctum (NES) - In Search of the Mysterious Messages of Gold

That's because I have no idea where to go
This is the largest amount of play time I've gone between postings, and I still wasn't able to wrap the game up. I'm close though, at least closer with some direction. The key to making further progress, and discovering the Inner Sanctum, is finding gold messages hidden inside dungeons: nine in total; I've managed to find four. I may be able to piece it together with less, and that may be necessary as I'm running out of caves to explore.
By the time I retraced my steps to the arena under Sorpigal it was very disappointing
Last I left, I was beginning to explore the castles for clues. There's a silver message in each one, and the quests from Blackridge North and South were simpler than the ones from White Wolf. One quest directed me to look under Dusk where I discovered a clue from Corak (YICU2ME3 -- no clue what it meant), stat bonuses for speed and accuracy, and an oracle that provided a couple useless items. I'm not sure a +1 battle axe would ever be relevant at this point since level 4 sorcerer spells are required for some of the traps.
I then discovered a clue that broke open the Zam and Zom quest line
After delving into Dusk and Dragadune for the castle quest lines, then getting stuck on solving the riddle of the ruby (I hadn't even found the ruby at this point), I went back to thoroughly searching the towns for info with my newly acquired teleport spell. There I found the note above, which oddly pointed to Zom, whom I'd already found at 1,1 in Algary. That meant the other note in Portsmith wasn't Zam's clue, but a clue to find him in Portsmith. I teleported to the coordinates, and found him, the only living male in town. His clue pointed me to C1-15,15.
I'd already mapped this location, but without the two clues this chest with the ruby whistle wasn't here
The enchanted stronghold provided a great number of clues. This was the first time I'd found a gold message, two in fact. There was a checkered room that I felt had something to do with that sign of the same pattern, but didn't find anything to do there. Below the first floor was a Minotaur's Maze. Defeating him seemed to do nothing more than acknowledge that the stronghold's leader was vanquished. I think the main attraction was a sable dog statue that I chose not to desecrate. My reward was a gold key (which I hoped would open the gold door in Doom), and 10,000 experience. I thought about grinding some experience here by tossing the key and discovering this again, but didn't bother.
Thanks for telling me, I wouldn't have guessed otherwise
Before heading back to Doom I mapped out the forest areas in B4 and C4. There I discovered a portal to the fourth level of the City of Gold, buried in E4. I left it alone for now as I wasn't certain I needed to go there, and four levels seemed daunting. I mapped Korin Bluffs and found the wizard Ranalou with portals to each castle. He told me to decide the fate of the six prisoners, then stand tall on judgment day. I tended to each prisoner, although my actions didn't seem to have much lasting effect.
Behind the gold door was the true king of Alamar
With the Eye of Goros now in hand I was ready to attack the imposter residing at Castle Alamar. One problem though, I hadn't found the king's pass yet. Back to exploring I suppose. In Sorpigal, I found an eighth statue that described black and white checkered rooms. I needed to find the right pair to discover the key. In addition, I learned that the seer Og had lost his sight, and idols would end his plight. Inside Doom, behind some hidden walls guarded by many monsters, I found the interleave sequence for the silver and gold messages finally. The silver message pieced together showed me the way to all the stat increases, which I'd already found on my own (except for the scales of judgment, which were nice).
Hawkseye Cave has what looks like a magic square puzzle, but I have yet to solve it correctly
My explorations eventually brought me back to the section of A2 that was unreachable. What I thought were pirate caves that would lead there turned out to be coves with hidden troves of gems (unlimited no less). The way in was through A1, and the only thing of interest there was a druid named Percella that provided the king's pass. With that in hand I faced the imposter expecting an epic battle. Instead, I was thrust into a maze where the only escape was to learn the alien's true name. Mapping the place using a sign marked 0,0 (since the locate spell failed), I found it spelled out "help, my name is Sheltem."
I'm apparently now rank 1, and must now find the Inner Sanctum
Up to this point, I'd received no clues about where the Inner Sanctum could be, or where to start looking. The King, now on his rightful throne, only intoned the same message, "seek the Inner Sanctum." He then wished me to live long and prosper. Back to random exploration once more. I raised my level high enough to gain access to the Astral spell. I mapped that place out, opened five gates there, and then found myself barred from the final door. It had a slot, but before I could try any items I was banished back to Sorpigal.
Shortly after, I found the ice princess that granted me a diamond key for answering her riddle, but it's only an alternative entrance to the astral plane
Three levels of caves below Dragadune only provided a single gold message, two checkered rooms (no idea what to do there), and a southern cleric that requested I ring three gongs. Ringing the gongs and returning to him found me worthy, which enabled my party to gather the stat increases once more. It's possible I could do this multiple times, but there's really no reason to do so currently. I explored the Raven's Lair for another gold messages, checkered room, and the ruby riddle that I haven't been able to solve. The cave near Sorpigal had a bronze key. White Wolf cave provided only a Medusa Head Hacker requested. Quivering Lair was such a pain to map that I teleported around rather than use the proper paths. I stumbled into Okrim's lair, took his ring, and returned to Hacker for the final quest. I suspect there may be a gold message there that I missed.
And this is how he rewards my service
Rather than lose all my items I chose to reset, and continue exploring. Fumbling with the access code below Erliquin I tried the message left behind by Corak. It worked, but only gained me more treasure. I had four of the five trivia question answers, so didn't bother trying to guess the last one. Then there's the Jolly Raven which I'm not sure serves any purpose. The natives guarded a volcanic cave unlocked via the coral key. I wondered then if I would ever find a use for the bronze or silver keys. Inside the volcano I found a woman chained that I hoped was the beautiful one, but once freed she became the volcano god (renamed giant... thanks NoA) and trounced the party.
This was not a fun place to map
I mapped most, but not all, of the volcano before I thought about the two dials near the beginning. They only accepted a single character, and then I remembered what the dog had told me. Entering BJ caused every teleporter to lead to a giant that asked me to choose between clue, riddle, or attack. The clue was a checkered room with "Move to Kings-1" written on a sign. To the riddle, "who was brave, yet failed?" I answered "Corak", then was dumped in Sorpigal for my trouble. I wasn't sure if that was right or wrong.
My only lead on the Inner Sanctum lies in these messages
Having only four gold messages makes it difficult to gather much information from the clues I have. I'm hoping, based on name alone, that the majority of the remaining messages are in the city of gold that once stood over the swamp. There are at least four floors to explore, plus the volcano and quivering lair not fully mapped. If I don't get them all from these I'm not sure where else to look. I have yet to find messages 8, 1, 4, 6, and 7. This is what it looks like so far (each underscore is a missing word):

_ Scoop: For Successful _ _ _ One, _ _ The Tasks That _ _ _ Riddles _ _ Di[s]coveries And Training, _ _ _ Value _ _ Your Rating. The _ _ _ You _ _ To Be Worthy _ _ _ You _ _ Return From The _ _ _ 5 _ _ The 6th Visit _ _ _ Card _ _ Your Frustrations! Yet _ _ _ Must _ _ For The Inner _ _ _ Claimed. _ _ Dreams To Reality, _ _ _ Dreams, _ _ Is In Order, _ _ _ ... _

From this it seems that I have to try something 6 times before I get some card. I expect it to be clearer with a couple more messages.

Elapsed Time: 29h27m (Total Time: 70h40m)

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Game #57: Might & Magic: Secret of the Inner Sanctum (NES) - Will It Make Sense Eventually?

Probably not
By this point in any other game I'd expect to have some handle on the situation (in fact most would be done), or at least some inkling about the trouble I should be righting in the world. Instead I'm left wandering a vast world with nary an end in sight, let alone a beginning. When things do happen, I'm lucky to get any acknowledgement. Take the above for example: somehow my cleric gained a max of 256 MP, but it went back to normal after I rested. I tried to reproduce the effect, but other than recently visiting the cleric's retreat I couldn't think of anything that may have done it (and a revisit didn't trigger it).
I found a list of tourist traps on top of a random island
Might and Magic definitely isn't one to hold your hand. I think I've said it before regarding the second game in the series, but there's something engaging about finding my own path through the game, knowing that the particular order of events that unfold are fairly unique. Still, I'd rather have some feedback. Enemy spells in particular are rather ambiguous. Sometimes they'll reflect and disperse, or reflect and cause damage, and other times they only specify "affected" or "not affected" without telling me what spell was cast. I found one person that had some answers though: there's a fortune teller in Algary that lists individual character resistances. Using this I could potentially figure out added resistance from equipment.
Well this is a thing, but is it the thing I was supposed to be looking for?
Finally the desert wandering paid off. I stumbled to the east of the cleric's retreat and came upon a wrecked alien ship. The alien told me his prisoner escaped, and is disguised as one of the nobles. I'm not sure how I'm supposed to determine which one, so I continued my fumbling. This quest could also be related to Ranalou the wizard at Korin Bluffs that's supposed to direct me to the six castles.
And now for something completely different
Before I got to that though, I continued to explore the world. I answered the man above correctly (apparently auras change every day though), and gained a coral key. I picked up a silver key in B1 as well. I found Zom, but his clue (1-15) wasn't helpful in combination with the note I found from Zam. I discovered Portsmith is controlled by a Succubus Queen, but didn't live to tell the tale. I found the Jolly Raven, a sign that notes the queen as the (current) piece, castle Doom, Blackridge north and south, Raven's Lair, the Dark Rider, Og, some ancient ruins, and a number of other random things.
All these have one thing in common: I have no idea what to do with any of them
On the brighter side I found places to increase my endurance and intelligence by 4. I climbed those trees from last post and received cleric beads. I found some fountains that increased my available spells (all of them unlocked) and put my might at 50, and continued to gain some easy levels from a pack of red dragons in A2. Eventually I came across the merchant pass in the C1 area. In Castle White Wolf, Ironfirst required me to venture on a few quests. I had already found Raven's Lair and Kilburn, so two quests were quickly satisfied. However, when he asked me to discover the secret of Portsmith, I was stumped. There was no way to defeat the Succubus Queen, and I had yet to find any  secret other than her.
Less answers, and more questions keep piling up
It really doesn't feel like much progress, but I have large portions of the world mapped. Up to this point I've made small progress. The fly spell helps, but the combat seems to drag on without large party clearing spells. I've been avoiding exploring most caves, but it may be time to map those out too. First I'm going to focus on the castles though, and see if I can figure out which lord is the fake. I may find the one clue that pieces this all together and then progress will finally cascade like an avalanche. I've increased my play time this past week, and next post will cover a large chunk of the game (possibly through to the end if I may be so bold).
Please be more vague
Elapsed Time: 17h13m (Total Time: 41h13m)

Monday, May 30, 2016

Game #57: Might & Magic: Secret of the Inner Sanctum (NES) - Might Be Making Progress

The first of many breadcrumbs
With most of Sorpigal mapped, I took to wandering outside along the paths as far as random encounters would allow. I ended up running across a note or sign near a desert to the northeast of Sorpigal about Kilburn. I wasn't sure if it was a location or person, but it seemed like a solid lead. A game world like this offers up so little information that I wasn't sure what to find.
Finally some direction, although less specific than I was hoping to find
I didn't feel quite ready to dive into the desert. Near Kilburn I ran into a hermit trading for two pirate maps. I didn't expect him to wipe out my entire first character's inventory in exchange. Unfortunately, he was holding the scroll I was supposed to transport to Erliquin, now vanished. I continued down the many roads poking my nose where I could until I leveled up enough to get the fly spell, which allowed me to quickly check out all the different areas. The only other relevant encounter I found was Arenko Guire who asked me to climb every tree in D3 and return to him. One bad fight in, and my party was wiped out. I noted it for once I gained a few levels.
My early grind spot
I scrounged up enough experience to get fly and started to explore. In A2, I found a red dragon that I somehow managed to kill first try. Subsequent attempts weren't quite as simple, but then something clicked after I retrieved a second Vellum Scroll. Quest items are easily duplicated, and a quick check in the store showed that one of the pirate maps I received from the hermit was worth 1,000 gold. Over 20 times what an average fight provided. The game didn't quite break open with unlimited gold, but it provided answers to many equipment and leveling questions. I purchased might potions to increase my chances against the dragon, and used the slow spell to ensure my guys got off their attacks first. The potions were very limited, but each use increased a character's might by 5. They only lasted a single battle, or when crossing a zone boundary, so it was time consuming to use them.
Everyone's a loser that spins this wheel
Grinding levels on the dragon didn't help as much as I thought, but I'm definitely surviving more battles. Now if only I could make progress on any of the hints I've run across: an ice princess has a key, so does a canine, white wolf castle requires a merchant pass, and there are numerous barriers I can't pass until I gain the appropriate spell. Using fly, I found Erliquin. The wizard Agar told me to seek Telgoran in Dusk.
The towns I've found so far
The desert map prevented me from getting lost while traveling on the desert tiles. I wrapped around the E3 side, found a strange lion asking for a password guarding King Alamar's castle, and made my way north. The password is available from a wandering harpist nearby. In the desert I ran into the ruins of Castle Dragadune and the town of Dusk. Delivering the scroll to Telgoran only led me to another clue, this time about two brothers I must find, with clues in Portsmith and Algary. I'm not sure what Kilburn wanted me to find in the desert, but I'm hoping I will know it once I find it.
Not quite the stat or the boost I was hoping to find, but it's a good start and permanent
I picked up the return scroll from Dusk, and I think it'll come in handy as the fly spell doesn't take me directly to any town except Sorpigal. In the desert I also found Nomads that gave me cactus nectar, and the cleric retreat that boosted my team's personality. I'm not sure what the nectar does, nor the garlic, wolfsbane, or belladonna I found elsewhere, but maybe I mix them into a potion at some point. I also have a 10-foot pole I'm carrying around for some reason.
Who is him?
I have a couple of other clues: "9-9 Raven's Lair" and "Zam 12,2" yet I'm not sure what they mean. I also received a clue that there are 8 statues in Sorpigal, but I've only found 7. I haven't completely mapped out all towns, but maybe it's about time I should. Here are inscriptions from the 7 I've found:
  • Corak mapped Varn and found Dusk
  • Gala worked with Savages of Volcanic Isles
  • One by water, land, air, and sand
  • Wheel of luck pays the more of these menacing beasts destroyed
  • Services rendered secrets untold, the brothers together lead to treasures untold - five towns to travel
  • Ranalou the wizard at Korin Bluffs -- Six Castles -- Doom it quite tough
  • Cruelty and Kindness measured throughout Judgement Day is then sought
Stopping for the night
I can guess at some of the above, but it's hard to know where to begin with them. Kilburn's quest seems to start the castle line, while the scroll has me traveling to each town for some untold treasure. I'm not sure which beasts the wheel requires destroyed, or what any of the other clues could mean. I suppose I'll eventually run across other breadcrumbs as I travel the world map. There have also been a few caves I've come across that I haven't bothered to delve into. The deadliness of the world coupled with the size is what makes this a long game. So far, it's definitely not the amount of plot.

Elapsed Time: 11h49m (Total Time: 24h00m)

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Game #57: Might & Magic: Secret of the Inner Sanctum (NES) - Looking for the Magic

Game 57

Title: Might and Magic: Secret of the Inner Sanctum
Released: August 1992 (July 1990 JPN)
Platform: NES
Developer: New World Computing (ported by G-Amusements)
Publisher: American Sammy Corp.
Genre: RPG
Exploration - First-person
Combat - Turn based
Series - Might and Magic



Strangely, 1991 doesn't fit any date I can find online
There's not much to say about the story of Might & Magic. Most of the game is figuring out what to do while fighting off enemies at every turn. The manual only references the Inner Sanctum as a place the party has come together to discover. I suppose I will follow the rumors of taverns and seek out those in power once again. Having already played the second game, I can imagine how it'll end. The two are very similar.
*Plop*
The game begins unlike the second by only naming a lead character, who is then automatically fitted to the role of male knight. I planned to have a full party, one of each character, and reroll until my eyes bled. Unfortunately, those plans were dashed when I was left standing in front of the inn with my sole character. The inn had a cast of preset characters with randomly rolled HP.
I spent a few minutes hoping to roll some good ones, but always managed at least one character with 2 HP
The manual has a map of Sorpigal, but doesn't mark the guild where it's possible to re-roll characters individually. It's strange, but the game has a whole cast of characters spread out in the various towns. Much like the second game, I don't see any reason why these level 1 characters would ever find room in the party. Most of them have fairly average stats. It took nearly an hour to find the guild without a single death in the party.
There were a number of reliefs with some very cryptic information displayed in an art gallery
At the guild it took a while to roll proper stats for my characters. Stats matter quite a lot, at least in the early game. A couple points of might means a 50% increase in damage. Speed controls turn order, and is essential for acting before the enemies. Endurance influences HP, but rolling at the guild means a character starts with the max value. Unfortunately, it has some side effects; it wipes all gold, items, and experience from the character, but sets food to 20. The small amount I'd saved up searching the town was nearly voided out.
With a full party I confidently stepped into the world
For some variety, I chose to have a character from each class and race, with a mix of male and females, and two of each alignment. The knight is the basic fighter, cleric and wizard (sorcerer in the manual) are the base spellcasters, paladins and archers are their fighter hybrid classes respectively, and robbers are pathetic in battle. I went in search for some easy battles. Combat has a few peculiarities to this series compared to other RPGs, but more in common with D&D. Armor only increases the chance of an attack missing, and damage is determined purely by the weapon plus bonus for high might times the number of attacks.
That is, unless you're a bugged enemy called Locust Plague that does a base damage of 255 HP
Experience is earned for each defeated monster, but gold is only found in sacks or chests successfully searched and opened after battle. If the party moves away from the square after battle, the gold is lost forever. Both sacks and chests are potentially trapped, and thus comes the only reason to have a robber in the party. Yet, at level 4, he still fails to disarm traps, but at least I have the potential survive now. A failed disarm could wipe out the entire party.
Collecting some rumors from the local tavern
So far I haven't found much of a story to the game, and the only "quest" I have is to deliver a scroll given to me by an old man in the Sorpigal catacombs. I have no idea where Erliquin is, but I've barely scratched the surface of the over world. The guards at the gate wouldn't even let me leave until all party members were level 2. I slowly saved up, bought some ranged weapons, and filled out the rest of my equipment slots. Leveling up costs increasingly more money each time, and gold can be hard to come by (especially when purposefully avoiding trapped treasure). I've managed to keep up, but I can see it becoming a problem eventually.
This over world map is not nearly as useful as Might and Might II
I scouted all of C2, and small portions of other areas, but only found two towns. Portsmith has traps that drain males of HP. Algary was much more welcoming, and the equipment shop there had further upgrades I wish I could afford. Tips from the tavern like "the queen can be helpful" and "the swamp was once a City of Gold" aren't as helpful as I was expecting. A group of wyverns took my party out easily. A gypsy woman told me the color of my party's auras, which may come in useful later. I also found two fountains, and remembering how useful these were in Gates to Another World, I dove right into them, but there were no effects as far as I could tell. Lastly was a lion that asked for a password. I have no idea where to go, or what to do.
It's nice when the more difficult enemies are out of range on their turn
Back to combat for a moment, range works strangely in this game. Only the first two characters in the party are usually within melee range, but the monsters will often surprise the party, which puts other members in the front line. The monster party, which consists of up to 15 individuals, on the other hand always only allows the first three to be attacked (including with ranged weapons). Spells can reach any of the first six, but the potentially other nine are completely obscured. There are eventually some spells that allow all party members to enter the fray, and even one to reduce or eliminate surprise attacks. When running from combat the party retreats to a specific square on each 16x16 map.
In Might and Magic fashion, I end each night with a nice party wipe
As expected, the early game is progressing slowly. I've been mapping as much as I can on foot, but feel like things will really start to pick up once my wizard reaches level 3 and the fly spell. I'm only level four though, and at this point I'm at the whims of a game that seems bent on wiping out any progress if I stretch myself too thin. My current plan is to continue branching out in every way I can while struggling my way to the next level. I just hope I can afford it once I get there.

Elapsed Time: 12h11m (Total Time: 12h11m)

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Game #56: Knight Quest (Game Boy) - Where There's a Will (Finished)

Game 56

Title: Knight Quest
Released: July 1992 (September 1991 JPN)
Platform: Game Boy
Developer: Lenar Co., Ltd.
Publisher: Taito
Genre: RPG
Exploration - Top-down
Combat - Turn based
Series - Standalone



Knight, check; quest, check; the end, check
Knight Quest is about as generic a fantasy RPG as it comes, complete with a kidnapped princess, dragons, and evil lords. The developer, Lenar, seems to have dabbled in a number of genres, but only a few ever made it to the west, this being the only RPG.
The game runs unbelievably slow on normal speed; optionally set money to many for an extra 300 starting gold
Will, 14 years old, dreamed of becoming a knight. He was granted an audience to see the king. The king instructed him to slaughter goblins to the north. Should he survive this suicidal task, then he would be allowed to train as a knight. At least he was given a sword, armor, and a small amount of gold.
*Plop*
About the only interesting thing about the game is the combat system. Will's attack comes in four different styles: Swallow, Sea Gull, Falcon, and Eagle. Each attack has a different effectiveness on each enemy. For most, one particular attack is their Achilles' heel, and they take massive damage from it compared to the others. Figuring out which attack is best is (I suppose) where the fun comes from.
Buying the next level sword from the shop
The town offers an inn that fully heals Will for 10 gold. Shops sell a variety of magic, three tiers of potency for healing items, as well as equipment upgrades. Visiting the king provides a password, helpful for restoring the game after a break. Enemies offer fair gold and experience rewards, but grinding early levels is necessary. Losing all HP in combat sends Will back to the castle with half his gold, not a huge setback.
I hadn't lost a battle yet either at this point
After defeating the Goblin King, Will was whisked back to the castle where the king rewarded his bravery with another quest: investigate a giant tower that suddenly appeared on the cape. Getting into the tower required finding a key hidden in some woods to the west of the tower. Defeating the wizard led to another quest to seek out help from Tabasa the witch in defeating the Dark Lord. Tabasa lived across the river to the west of town. The Dark Lord ruled over the Gido Empire, and the king was worried an invasion would soon follow.
Evil castle to the northwest
I became a bit lost at this point. There was a lost woods I explored for a bit before I found a logger's hut who offered to repair the broken bridge. Collecting lumber with the axe he provided allowed him to repair the bridge. I then skipped Tabasa's house to the south of a small village because they had already told me he frequented the north shore town. He wasn't there, and a haunted mansion was inaccessible until I actually made the trek out to the empty house of Tabasa. This necessitated a trip back to the shore town to learn Tabasa had just left for the mansion. Then, and only then, was the way into the mansion accessible.
If you've sealed his power, can't we just leave him be?
When I found Tabasa, he was battling an arch wizard. The strain of sealing his power was too much though, and he expired at the end of battle. The Arch wizard was pretty powerful; I fell the first time I faced him with no healing items. I returned with three hearts (top tier healing), and killed him on the second attempt. The king didn't have time to mourn the loss of his friend as his daughter had been kidnapped. A dragon had been spotted to the north, but the mountain pass had been blocked by rocks only breakable by a magic hammer. I picked it up from the grave-keeper after learning Tabasa had left it with him. I also found the third level sword in a shop hiding off nearby.
All enemies have an attack animation and different attacks that do varying damage as well
The next area required further grinding to get the level 4 armor, and save up enough gold to purchase hearts to help me survive against the next boss. I found a magic fountain that produced an endless supply of potion 2s to help with the grind. I rescued the princess after purchasing the new armor. She told me that the Dark Lord was behind the kidnapping. Will then commandeered the dragon and rode it all the way to his castle.
A nice little town at the base of the dark lord's mountain offered a small respite
There was no turning back as the dragon had suddenly disappeared. I saved up for a level 4 sword, and then delved into the castle. There was a healing heart inside that continuously respawned after transitioning floors. I collected it enough to fill my inventory. Then I skirted nearly every enemy on the way up, and ran from those I stumbled into. The dark lord fell quite easily.
He really didn't stand a chance
Elapsed Time: 4h29m (Final Time: 4h29m)

Combatant - I liked that they tried to do something different with combat. Giving the player attack styles to choose from was meant to add strategy; however, I don't think it quite worked. Aside from magic items that were under-powered compared to just attacking, the only strategy is to figure out the best attack and stick with it. The enemies were a combination of fantasy creatures and overgrown animals, some nonsensical like jellyfish. Gold and experience rewards were fairly well managed that I only really needed to grind in the beginning and near the end.
Rating: 4
Suddenly the dead rose again!
Admirer - I suppose Game Boy games aren't robust enough to score highly here. There's no customization, and sprites are static. Controls are well done, and avoiding combat is possible with careful planning as all enemies are visible and move on the over-world.
Rating: 2
The only cutscene in the game was a nice touch
Puzzler - One point for a main quest, and that's it. No puzzles, nothing to solve. It did offer some non-combat portions to the main quest that I thought were nice touches, but they honestly weren't very deep (e.g. cutting the tree to make a bridge). There's only a single solution to every problem. The Tabasa portion felt a bit arbitrary by forcing me to stop by her empty house and the town she frequents.
Rating: 1
What is it about fantasy characters living on through legends that developers thought was so appealing as an ending?
Instigator - It's a basic story for a basic sort of game. The dialog isn't terrible, and NPCs do talk about the current quest. The game lacks descriptions in-game, and the chapter-esque division between the plot points removed any chance to immerse myself in the story. There are no decisions to make, and no way to impact the story.
Rating: 2
Driving the point home even further
Collector - Most of the points awarded here have to do with the ease of equipment upgrades, and an economy that stayed relevant throughout the game. Buying the heart healing items became necessary at the third boss, and I went through many on the fourth, and final. There are a good number of magic items, but I didn't talk much about them because they're all useless money sinks. Inventory is limited, and there's no indication of getting all items.
Rating: 3
Potions on the map respawn after leaving the screen
Explorer - The sprite work was well done, although plugging colors into the game looked a bit strange. The music wasn't memorable, but I had no inclination of turning it off or down. There are a few places where exploring rewards the player with some early healing items for free, and the world is mostly open from the beginning (aside from the broken bridge, rock slide covered pass, and mysteriously locked mansion). I don't think a Game Boy game has the space to put in random discoveries that have nothing to do with the game.
Rating: 4
100 more adventures *gasp*
Final Rating: 16 [27%]

Overall, it's a simple game that offers everything in the first 30 minutes, repeated 4 more times. As a portable title, I think it's a good game for a short distraction. The use of passwords instead of battery saves makes restoring a bit of a pain; however, the continue system allows anyone to finish it fairly quickly.
Sequels were another thing developers seemed to count on
There's part of me that wishes more games were this short; however, that won't be the case for the next one. Might and Magic is probably going to be the longest NES RPG. From what I hear, it's a faithful port of the original, and well-made with great sprite work and music. I remember trying to play it at some point, but getting absolutely nowhere. I definitely didn't get out of the first city. So, while this is mostly new to me, after playing for some time I can tell that my experience with the second game (released on the Genesis a year earlier) will help tremendously.