The entire game is fast paced. Sword swipes come out so quickly that it's possible to mash and charge into an enemy without taking damage. Most of the challenge comes from the mid-late game when nearly every monster will cause poison in addition to paralysis and petrification. Switching swords is a little cumbersome. Charging swords to use their powers is the only thing that keeps combat fresh.
Magic exists but the only offensive one is paralyze and as expected it doesn't work on bosses. Other useful spells during battles are healing and barrier. Everything else is a utility or quest related spell.
Monsters are not all that challenging and more annoying than anything else: ones that fly, ones that drain magic, and ones that transform the character into a slime. The bosses offer a good variety. While most battles are over quickly there's a certain strategy involved when planning an attack.
|Final bosses are pretty easy when it comes down to it|
There's only one unchanging character. You get the chance to name him at the beginning, but there's no further control over his development. Leveling is a singular path that seems to only raise HP and MP, although I've read there are level requirements to progress in the game. Bosses will take no damage if your level achieved is too low. The controls are smooth with a quick pace. It would have been nice to see items change the appearance, but even the different swords all look the same.
|Hope you like your characters purple|
I've been having a hard time deciding what to consider a puzzle. I mean, does collecting item X to unlock plot point Y really count? I gave some points here for a well laid out main quest, at least a couple of optional quests, and fitting well inside the world at large. There's no way to really jump ahead of the intended solutions, and while everything is fairly easy to solve it's the finding that is frustrating.
The lion guardians were probably the most puzzle like yet there wasn't any text I found describing the solution. As long as you found one bow the icons above their heads should be a good indication.
|I lost you, so how do I find you?|
The story slowly unfolds and rewards the player for continuing the adventure, but the motivational basis for the antagonist was little more than, "grr... I'm evil." The player has no influence on how the story plays out. NPC dialogue does give flavor to the world, but quest hints are sparse when needed: being told to find item X doesn't help when you don't have a clue for where to find it.
|Instead of preventing the end of the world, let's go through an elaborate setup where we inadvertently cause it|
Well, there's stuff a plenty to collect in this game. You'll pick up most of it naturally, but a number of the final pieces are hidden in side quests or tucked away in dark corners of a dungeon. Completion is obvious as each piece of equipment has a specific slot. My only complaint is there's limited room for armor and shields, so you'll end up selling some of it. Comparing weapons and armor is possible only by equipping and checking stats in a separate window, but at least there's an option for it.
|The one item I missed|
The world is fun to explore, but the game railroads your progress so often that there's no reason to stray off course. Locked doors I could live with, statues blocking an entrance raised an eyebrow, but when the game developers reached down and said, "no, go to that town first to gain access to this cave," I really couldn't look past it. There isn't anything to see for fun; it's all there for the main quest, and it all starts to look the same. Characters and monsters are a single color, and the music started getting repetitive. I enjoyed the game though, so I gave this section an extra point.
|Instead of reprogramming the computer we must destroy it!|
With that it's time to move on. If you're looking for a quick recap of the game, then you could do worse than watch the speedrun done in 1:09:06. It should be getting an update soon; the person who ran it the first time has already beaten the time by 3 minutes.
Next up for the blog is Dungeon Magic for the NES, not to be confused with an arcade game of the same name. This is another I played when I was younger. I don't remember beating it. I believe we only rented the game, and once my older brother beat a game we usually returned it.