Saturday, May 24, 2014

Game 24: Sword of Vermilion (Genesis) - I See a Red Sword, and I Want it Painted Black

Maybe I've been a bit too harsh with Sword of Vermilion. I mean, it does have its good traits, most games do. Here's a quick list:
  • The mini-map available right on the exploration screen saves me some time.
  • The prince gains experience and gold for every enemy defeated, even if he ends up running or dying.
  • NPCs that move have a bit of programming that makes them stop short if they would cut off my path.
I have not idea what this does, but I have two now
With the good we must take the bad. Random combat has become so uninteresting and nonthreatening that it is never a joy to fight; at least with new spells it's over much quicker. I also ran into the first, but not the last, arbitrarily locked door on the path forward. We'll get to that and other nonsense soon... now where was I.
As you wish
I defeated the two-headed demon boss again, and retrieved all the rings; however, the townspeople were so injured they sent me to request a doctor from the next town. Doctor Basil was a slow riser, and couldn't shake the sleep fog until I rang the alarm in front of him. As luck would have it, the item shop had an alarm clock. I figured I'd need it, but not in the very same town. I returned to Stow and was rewarded with a new book of healing (not the awesome full heal for 2 MP though).
He's got 'doctor' right in his name
With that task out of the way, the story continues with Anselm in the same town waiting for his father's return. Apparently he went off to retrieve a Poison Shield for me. It also turns out that rescuing him isn't optional, and can't even be postponed as the path to the next town is through a locked dungeon gate. Once I found the father, Bearwulf, he told me I'd need the Poison Shield. I'm not sure why as it was quickly replaced in the next town.
Should have just waited in Keltwick
The next town of Malaga has been without a king for two years, and the royal advisers Thar and Luther seek to marry Princess Wynifir to become king. I shut down their efforts by retrieving a crown and the Ring of Water from a nearby cave. Thus, I became the next king of Malaga. This I wasn't expecting at all, but it doesn't change much of anything I still get no respect.
Especially from this guy!
There's one shop in Malaga that's a bit of a tourist trap. Literally a trap, you can't leave without losing all money and weapons (not just the one equipped, all weapons). All the items appear to be jokes, using them causes them to vanish, and they have no value to anyone else. The store owner shoos me away after this event with all due respect for a (future) king lacking. I've already decided what my first order of business will be once I return.
I reloaded to avoid the whole affair, but this gave me second thoughts
In the end, I decided this event wouldn't exist if it didn't have some merit. I spent all my money on new spell books and the rest on 9k suits of armor that I planned on selling. I probably should have tested this plan out first, but I wasn't aware the sell back price wasn't a constant 50%. That 9k armor sold back for a mere 200.  I suppose the developers foresaw this; well at least I got to try out some new spells I may not have otherwise.
Like this one that fires 8 powerful boomerangs that slightly home in on enemies
With nearly everyone happy in Malaga I set off to the next town, Barrow. The people of Barrow were facing no ills. I learned a bit more of Tsarkon; according to some he and Lord Erik (my father) were friends. They sought the rings of good and evil together. I'm not sure when the falling out happened, but if I learn I'm actually the son of Tsarkon I'm going to laugh. I collected some money from a cave near Barrow, and then didn't feel so bad about losing all my previous cash.
The most interesting boss I've faced
In the next town the people feared me. Apparently someone had been impersonating me, and went about terrorizing the town. He also took the ring from the king. By the time I caught up with the disguise artist he had sent the ring off to Tsarkon. We then had a duel where he turned into a necromancer, summoning skeletons and firing dark bolts of energy. Not difficult, but interesting.
Surprisingly there was no boss to fight at this event
In the next town I rescued all the men from a cave where they were enslaved (or just hanging out, I'm not sure). With them back in town I was able to speak to everyone and get new information. As is often the case with this game, dialogue changes for most NPCs after a quest (or step in a quest) is completed. An old woman was mulling over the fact everyone had a man return to them except her. She handed me a sketch of herself and asked me to find someone nice. I remembered an old man from back in Malaga that mentioned the same thing. After some exchange of pictures, I received a dragon shield for my trouble.
What soldiers? I didn't see any soldiers
As is always the case, after completing the quest for this town I received map to the next. There a king had the Ring of Earth, but he won't part with it so easily. He insisted I retrieve an expensive white crystal from the Ivory Cave. It was guarded by a demon. There is also talk of the ruined Excalabria nearby, but I wasn't able to locate it. It's probably through one of these caves nearby, but they all have locked gates.
Yeah... these guys are hard
So, we finally get to the real challenge of the game. An absolutely unfair fight where the boss flies around, and then drops on top of me doing constant damage. This is great! So much fun! Well, this boss wasn't all that hard. I got use to his pattern on the next attempt, but every death cut my money in half. At least I'm near the end of the game, and I don't expect to need much more of it.
Considered?! Do you know what I went through?
The king changed his mind about the whole exchange, and decided to just take the white crystal. He'll totally do it for a red crystal though. So, he sends me off with another key to retrieve another crystal, and fight another demon. I went into the fight thinking it'd have the same pattern. This wasn't the case. The demon had a low swooping charge attack that does constant damage. I have a feeling getting through this part is going to require memorizing these new patterns and anticipating them. The main reason for that is my character moves like an inch worm while the boss has the speed of a cat.
Fear my toenails!
I called it a night after two failed attempts. I fear I may have to grind some levels. I'll go back to that cave where the secret key was found and looking for a hidden door in a wall. It's better than just wondering back and forth, but I don't expect anything big. Every other piece of equipment I've found or received as a reward was outclassed by whatever was in the next store. I've already bought the best armor in this last town of Swafham. We'll see what I find, and hopefully I'll gain a couple levels that'll keep me safe from deadly feet.

Elapsed Time: 5h16m (Total Time: 10h45m)


  1. "The main reason for that is my character moves like an inch worm while the boss has the speed of a cat."

    Well, you just described why I tend to avoid action games and action RPGs, especially ancient ones.

    What's the title of this post referring to?

    1. I assumed The Rolling Stone's song "Paint It Black" (which has the line: "I see a red door and I want it painted black".)

      The game looks like something I would have loved as a kid, but I just couldn't imagine handling the frustration these days... especially since it sounds like it's a lesser of both RPGs and action games at the same time (I'll just play Phantasy Star II if I want an RPG and Strider if I want an action game, thanks!).

    2. Title reflects my level of enjoyment with the game.

      I'm glad that's coming across because that's how I feel when playing. It has sub-par action sequences tacked on to an already sub-par RPG.

  2. Ys III for the SNES had the protagonist move a pretty good clip, but I faintly remember him moving just a bit too quickly, leading to frequent and fatal collisions with enemies. Ys III was a strange game and probably the closest thing to Sword of Vermilion that the SNES had.

    1. Depends what aspect you're comparing when you say it's the closest the SNES had. Actually, Drakkhen is probably a better comparison in nearly every way. First-person exploration paired with real-time action combat.

  3. You can go back to that shopkeeper at some point and get your stuff back, but I don't remember what the trigger is. Also, I think at this point you've got access to one of the few legitimately useful spells in the game, which makes combat with most enemies trivial as long as you've got MP.

    1. Yeah, it's the best spell I've seen so far, although I haven't bothered trying out the others. This boomerang one does well enough. I'll check back with him after every town from now on. I figured I'd head back there eventually. This week is moving hard to find time to play, but I should be able to finish up this week.