Friday, April 25, 2014

Game 23: Double Dungeons (TG-16) - Finished!

I did not expect to finish this until the weekend, but here we are with another ending screen. Even more surprising, only one dungeon clocked in at a base time over 20 minutes. It's really interesting just how quickly the later levels fall thanks to the glitch plus the magic items. I had a feeling they would, but seeing it in action was very satisfying.
For emphasis!!
Let's start by getting the individual dungeons out of the way. Then I'll go over my plans for optimizing them.

Dungeon 15 - Current Best: 11:00
This dungeon is very easy to get through. I build up some quick funds by selling an early refresh, and purchase a spear and leather armor. With it I arrive early at an invisible man. This particular invisible man is different from all others. For whatever reason he's worth 100 exp and 240 gold.
Man or woman?
While I wait for the one I can reach early to respawn, I take out some death crows and other close by easy pickings. The best store only carries the mediocre broad sword and stone armor. I grind to about level 14 before heading off to the boss. On the way to the key I stop by the store to purchase some refreshes, which I need 2 or 3 to survive the boss.
This is a new enemy that takes way too long to defeat... perfect time for the glitch
Dungeon 16 - Current Best: 16:00
This level is a trip. Seriously, someone got really creative with the enemies on this level. Also, when uploading pictures, Google had just as much fun and thought a gif was the perfect way to present this level.
Yes, that says 'werowolf' and 'wilohwisp', crazy huh... don't mind the animated furniture
I glitch through 6 enemies forward and back to grab 2k gold from a chest and purchase the strong sword and silwer (sic) armor. By the time I reach the key and the boss I'm at a level enough not to need a refresh. It takes some time to get through the monsters, but I believe it's faster than grinding normally. Might be worth it to time it out.
No, they never do
Dungeon 17 - Current Best: 14:20
Another level where they only offer a broad sword and stone armor; I muscled my way through a shaman at level 6 to get to an invisible man, 3 king spiders, and 3 hornets. All easy pickings and good experience by that level. I can add in an imp at level 10 (or 9 if I'm feeling lucky). At level 14 I head for the boss, and arrive at level 16 with 2 refreshes (I usually only need 1).
How does an iron golem dodge? Why doesn't Google recognize the word 'golem'?
Dungeon 18 - Current Best: 17:35
This level takes so long because I haven't found a good place to grind. There's one area with seven king spiders, and another with three iron heads. The latter gives better gold overall, but the spiders level me up quicker. Again I glitch to get some quick money, and skip most of the troublesome enemies on the way to the boss.
Some enemies are actually stronger versions that give no exp or gold
Dungeon 19 - Current Best: 13:45
The beginning of the ultra large dungeons; it's pretty amazing just how big these get. Luckily there's a death thunder item just waiting for me. I've discovered that there are actually two different items called death thunder. The one in this dungeon does 80 damage per use, and the one I buy from the store for 6k gold does 20. That'll become relevant in dungeon 21. With death thunder I shatter all in my way to the key and through the boss.
I just had to post this without updates; look at the sheer size (Source: GameFAQs)
Dungeon 20 - Current Best: 11:00
Equally quick, but the item is much closer. The crystal orb does 100 damage on its own. It's amazing that they have items like these just laying about. Almost like they knew these dungeons would become a bit too much of a slog.
Oh, more than 100 HP? I'll just use it again
Dungeon 21 - Current Best: 23:17
Here it is, the longest dungeon in the game. No more items to carry me through. I still think this could come down below 20 minutes as I spent a bit of time figuring out the death thunder item I can buy from the store only does 20 damage. There's a 10k gold pot I find early on to purchase a 9k weapon. I then pick up some good armor (bloody armor to start, and elfen (sic) later). I'm debating the need for the dragon slayer sword, which is a bit out of the way. It seems on average to do more damage, but I just haven't timed the difference.
Some of the enemy sprites are really nice
Dungeon 22 - Current Best: 19:22
The final dungeon becomes a big joke as I glitch through the first dragon guardian, pick up the death thunder, and tear through the rest of the level. The layout is in concentric squares with each layer guarded by a new type of dragon. I hardly bother to even level up, and instead sell an early refresh to purchase a spear and leather armor in order to survive those enemies that take more than one use of DT. The time can go much lower; in this attempt I messed up a number of times by exiting the boss room (simply pressing back does that) while trying to select the crystal orb. Yes, this level has both.
What? No princess?
With a basic plan in place I now have something to measure my efforts against. I'll make more attempts with this same plan, and then adjust here and there trying different methods for leveling to see what's quickest. For some of the longer dungeons I'll time out leveling at different areas.

Taking dungeon 18 for example, it might be that king spiders are the way to go for much longer than I stayed there. I won't know for sure until I have each area at a level of optimization that makes them comparable. As it is, I can't really compare many of my strategies since I don't know how fast they are potentially and on average.
I'm not sure what a gustoner is, but it sure is ugly
Dungeon 21 is going to take some planning. It's definitely the longest, and I suspect it'll remain that way. Only a few basic tests are necessary for this though. I'm fairly certain the 10k gold is necessary, but maybe going straight for the dragon slayer is quicker (probably not since I'll need to glitch through so many enemies). It's possible I could get by without the bloody armor and go straight to elfen. It's all going to take testing over a few trials to determine how the different paths compare.
The final boss is actually one of the least dangerous
I have no idea what time I'll be happy with in the end, but I hope to get them all to a level clean enough (hitting the glitches quickly) that everyone who's played the game (and some that haven't) will find them interesting. I don't think I'll bother doing all dungeons in one session. Seems it'd take over 4 hours to do that, and I really don't have the time to sit for that long with all these great RPGs waiting for me. Speaking of which, let's get on to the next great game. What do we have next? Oh, my... let's see how long I can delay that. Final rating, yearly transition post, and a cut game... sounds good, let's do that.

Elapsed Time: 6h45m (Total Time: 17h00m)


  1. I went to Gamefaqs and checked out the size of some of those later dungeons, and all I can say is I'm glad you found that enemy-skipping glitch.

    This game seems kind of bare-bones, just dungeon-crawling with no real puzzles to speak of. Thankfully, you've got a great game coming up to...

    Wait: Heroes of the Lance? If you can beat that one, you will have my eternal respect.

    1. Oh, it's beatable. I've heard it's pretty bad though. Luckily, it's a better version that the DOS trainwreck. Apparently there wasn't a save feature in the original. Good luck with that while I'm over here save scumming on the NES (well, I won't scum too much, maybe limit it to combat free screens I'm just not sure how the game is broken up). Also, the SMS version has an estimated time of only a 4 hours, and there's a speedrun in 5 minutes, so it can't be that long, right?

  2. Why the trepidation for Heroes of the Lance? How bad could it be?

    I'm looking forward to Sword of Vermillion. I tried that game once on the Sega Genesis collection, and it seemed ultra-grindy. But there are supposedly ways to cheeze it.

    1. I hear Heroes of the Lance on DOS is worse, so Chet really dodged a bullet with that one.

      I'm really looking forward to Sword of Vermilion as well. First time I saw it was in one of those "Genesis does what Nintendon't" ads. I played through it in the late 90s through an online service called GameTab, but didn't get very far (first dungeon maybe). Should be fun.

  3. The controls are horribly broken, making it nearly unplayable, or at best, extremely excruciating. It's too bad, because it seems to have the potential to be a pretty cool game. But I never had the patience to stick with such terrible controls.

    1. I've heard horror stories of trying to fight enemies shorter than the characters. Hopefully reading the manual will help... probably not. Honestly though there are other games I'm dreading more than this one (Bard's Tale, Drakkhen, and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves are also coming up this game year). My sense of dread ebbs quite a bit as we move away from the 8-bit era. Every generation has its bad eggs, but I do think things get better on average. Maybe I'll stumble on a hidden gem eventually, although that seems less likely than Chet doing the same.

  4. LOL, don't fear Drakkhen. The SNES version is indescribably better than the horrifically buggy, virtually unplayable mess that the CRPG Addict struggled to finish. I actually don't remember any bugs in SNES Drakkhen at all, when I played it. The automatic combat was a little bland and simple, but eh.

    I don't think you should fear NES Bard's Tale, either. It's the first game of the trilogy, so it's fairly short, and it doesn't have permadeth like Wizardry.

    I can't comment on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, though...

    1. I remember playing Prince of Thieves as a kid and thinking it was one of the best games I had ever played. Years later, not so much. Although the game has several different types of play modes, some are executed better than others. The side-view one-on-one sword fighting is particularly bad.

      I was not aware that the PC version of Drakkhen was super buggy. I borrowed it from a friend, sans manual, when I was twelve, and just couldn't figure out the mechanics (or point of the game) so I can't really give a fair assessment.

      Interested to see the rating on Double Dungeons, though. I predict upper-teens.

    2. I've beaten Drakkhen before, so I'm not that worried. There's probably not much to fear in this gaming year, except maybe getting lost for what to do next in Rings of Power.

      Bard's Tale, I know I played the PC version, but I don't think I got very far.

      Prince of Thieves is odd... I don't think there's a save option (I don't see it mentioned in the manual at all), so that'll probably be a really short game (unless I'm terrible at it).

      Unfortunately Double Dungeons didn't rate that high, but not too much lower than estimated. Just not enough going on to really value it as a well rounded RPG.