Saturday, June 14, 2014

Game 26: Rings of Power (Genesis) - An Enchanter's Oversight

I wouldn't call Rings of Power a difficult game, but my party has wiped more than any other game I've played in this quest. By the end I expect it'll be more than all others combined. Still, it's not difficult because death is quick reloading fast. It's more like the game randomly decided to reset. Annoying yes, but since there's no input from my part that will avoid it I can't really consider it a challenge to overcome.
Hey, my hunch proved correct
I've made progress despite the constant reloading. I found the Lobotomy Club sitting behind the City of Mind. I learned more about the witch Hideous hiding out in the fire swamp, and the unrelated fire cave chest key was sold to a conjurer hermit. There was also a random character talking about a Power Lord ID he had, which is "worth its weight in gold." I thought about fighting him for it, but I still had two party members to locate.
These quests chain for much longer than any other game
I located the ice cave easily on the map, but it took a few tries to make it there alive. There's one particular fight with three enchanters I seem to encounter while on the ship that absolutely obliterates my whole party. The one spell that causes all the trouble is called Frenzy, and it can take out my whole party of six in a single round. But, I'm getting ahead of myself.
Healing party members by hurling bolts of healing is the best part of the game
Compared with the random encounters that absolutely destroyed me, the four conjurers I fought for the egg were a piece of cake. I'd been purchasing all the spells I could, but have yet to really get a chance to try them out. Here, the most helpful was Buc's Confuse, which the manual described as a 33% chance to paralyze its victim for 1 - 3 rounds. I think the coding might be off for a number of spells as I've experienced a 100% chance to paralyze for always 3 rounds. I dread the day when the enemy gets this spell (not that they don't have equally devastating ones already).
Very little experience from battles
I collected the egg and returned to the hermit who sent me on this quest. In a strange twist not seen in any other game, the conjurer gladly took the egg, but decided he'd just keep both. I'm not sure he reasoned through it very well since I had just killed four conjurers. In the end I initiated a fight and took the key, something I could have done when I first met him. I've noticed there's quite the opportunity to skip normal quest steps (something I'm sure I've done on accident).
Who does this?
Well, I now had the Fire Key, but I still had difficulty locating the Fire Cave. I had a note that suggested it was near the coordinates 5' 10', but this area was just an open field. I thought I possibly had to zoom in to find the cave entrance, no such luck. I revisited the NPCs, and noted that Dry (the one at the oasis) said it was only accessible by boat. So, I searched all along the coast, and finally found it.
Here I'm standing at 5' 10'
Here I am at the cave, about two screen lengths away...
I'll grant the game the note says 'around'. But, who thinks 5'9" 10'7" is around 5' 10'? I'd say it's closer to 6' 11'. In any case, fire cave found! Only a single chest was inside, and inside it was the Flame Wood. Anyone still remember why I needed it? I dropped off the wood at the Perfection restaurant, and received the key to the guildmaster's private study. She wasn't at all upset to have been interrupted, and handed me the conjurer's symbol as well as gave permission for Alexi to join my party.
Oh! I know where that goes
I took off for Kaos to show the enchanter's guildmaster the conjurer's symbol. Seeing it convinced him to release Obliky to my care, but I had to retrieve him from the Drunken Dragon far to the south. All the while I've been building up my reserves of gold. At about this time I ran into an upper limit: 15,000. I'm not sure why this number was decided on, but it's low enough that it limits reserves so the economy isn't totally broken, yet it's high enough that I can visit any town and buy out all spells in one town.
If Buc dies, but anyone else survives,the party appears back in Cathedral with only 100 gold and Buc resurrected
Save often should be the motto for this game. I've been training myself to do so at every town; a practice I haven't had to build up in the past. It's amazing how a single spell can take down most of the party, and leave the others crippled. I'm not sure I'll ever not be outclassed. I definitely think it's an oversight because it's really only a single spell: Frenzy. This seems like an innocuous fourth level upgrade to Scatter. The difference is Scatter only hits a single target while Frenzy hits the entire party.

You'll notice there are three enchanters as well, so if they cast that more than once it's basically instant death. Didn't anyone think this was a bit much? While I haven't quite wrapped my head around a strategy other than flee, I'm grateful for the low encounter rate that offers a chance to get from one town to the next unmolested. I bring all this up not just to rant, but to illustrate the absurdity of recruiting Obliky. You see, as I left, a group of enchanters assaulted the party to inform them Xylotyl changed his mind. There's a question to challenge the group or not, but either option results in combat.
Are you kidding me?
No, I don't think anyone tested this game. Either that or the developers wanted the player to not play the game straight. Once again (as when I recruited Feather), I was forced to avoid the encounter altogether by selecting the camp option from the menu. Before anyone suggests that is cheating, it's actually tip number 16 from the Quick Tips listed in the manual: To exit a building quickly, select the Camp command. I'm sure this won't be the last time I run into something that requires out of the box thinking.
Oh really? How do I become a true hero?
Oh, I think I see someone inside...
I'm getting a bit ahead of myself again, but this is another feature of the game that I used already that seems odd. I used it to get Feather originally. Here I seem to be bypassing part of the game and gained knowledge that Fen Ho will help me get one of the rings if I can procure a protection contract from the Protectors Guild.
Apparently it's something they could account for in the end
Enough of that tangent for now. With the party fully assembled I determined I had way too many options for which ring to pursue. I mean there's 11 of them, and I have clues for each. So, I decided not to pursue any particular ring at the moment, and instead visit each location available to see what I could see.
Bob? Really?
My first stop was Doggania (named the City of Doggan on the map). The regent here seems to have taken over for an ill king, and he isn't a likable fella. Sarah, a nanny working at the castle, aged very suddenly for unknown reasons, and was sent off to a retirement home. I received a quest to kill a man named Fiver. He slighted the regent, accused of cheating at poker, and his last known location was the City of Commerce. I noted these and moved on as the regent was behind locked doors.
Oh okay, I'll trust you since you're behind those bars and seems the guards are the bad guys
I tried to get into the witch's place in the fire swamp, but it's guarded by many groups of enchanters. With all the towns on this continent explored, I ventured across the ocean and found many locations inaccessible. One town seems only available if I take a boat up a river, and the nearest location to Division was a private residence where everyone had "evil" dialogue. I've noticed many characters will pronounce themselves as evil and enemies to my quest nonchalantly, like the two sorcerers that ended up killing Thalmus.
Why is it always my job to find things?
Further inland I ran into an odd dual structure with a gray temple and gold temple next to each other. This seemed to fit a clue for the Ring of Perfection. It's said to be found where two groups of people never walk the earth simultaneously. The gold temple only had people during the day, and the grey only at night. The leader in the moon temple (the other is the sun temple), sent me on an additional quest to appease the king of Sparta so that he'd stop attacking the temples. That should be simple.
Yeah, not so much
The arena in Sparta consisted of individual fights with bears and dragons. I died at the dragons. They're top level conjurers, and one casting of a ninth level spell caused half my team to die instantly. The bears offered some good easy experience though, so I think I might head back and only take them on. Anyway, I moved on from the temples and found a location completely walled off. I think the only way in is to fly over with a dragon. I ventured north and found a theater troupe practicing for a show.
Uh, say what?
Getting random items seems to be another theme of this game. I have in my possession a goblet, a flag, a mustache, and a dove. I'm not sure why I have any of them. Further north along the road was Oxbridge. Here there were some more scholars. There were a couple riddles, one which I still haven't figured out, which seemed to clue in on how to get a couple of the rings. One of the scholars mentioned he had a pass to the necromancer's secret embalmers lab, but I couldn't get it from bribing, and I didn't find it in the immediate area. I've noted it and will have to return later I suspect.
This place is HUGE, and I don't want to search every bookcase
Also in Oxbridge was a sorcerer from the City of Mind, but he had left long ago. He's a mysterious man who can't remember what he does. He mentioned a note with that information, which I found, but the note is as confusing as he was. It's at this time I stumbled on a feature I can't find in the manuall. Pressing the 'B' button in the direction of an NPC will give the name and status on that person.
This could have been so helpful in the early game
Cerebrus also mentioned unlocking his thoughts are the key to finding the Ring of Intuition. His note mentions three things: a map stolen by thieves in Thieves Haven, a lost orb in an arctic snow bank, and a key given to friend who vanished. This man is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. He fits the game so well.
I also accidentally bribed him and received a nice plump dove... do I eat it?
My next stop was Richi, but I didn't spend much time there. Instead I checked out the observatory and found the astronomer there needed a lens for his telescope. I received the specs, and was told Shard, a town of glass-makers, could make the lens. I was eager to fulfill this quest, so I moved on before speaking with the queen. Before heading to Shard I bought a ship (the ship costs 1 gold every few squares, but the boat costs 40 water at deep sea) and stopped off in the City of Commerce. The general store here sold nearly every trade good, but at incredibly marked up prices.
Seems the value used in the algorithm to calculate the buy price is also used to calculate the sell price... Commerce, the best place to sell
Commerce also gave me the chance to follow up on Fiver. I convinced him to leave town and hide out. Hopefully that's enough to convince the jailer I "took care of him" so I can get further access into Doggania. Fiver, like Lenny, says he won't forget this favor; we shall see. Down in Shard I found the master glass blower, and had a very confusing encounter. It seems when one would normally hand over the specs he would request tomes from Cathedral and magic sand from Mesa. Somehow, showing up with tomes triggered a different dialogue where he thanked me for the payment in tomes, and suggested I take the sand upstairs once I'd found it. The lack of specifying what item to show leads to some weird situations.
Hey look, I found Bob!
My last town for the night was Sunrise/Sunset. It's a town divided in half where children are on one half, and the elderly on the other. The only things of interest were Bob and Sarah. Sarah informed me she was turned old by the magic of witch Hideous. I suppose I'll have to deal with her eventually. First I'll have to increase my survivability against enchanters, and find the hidden part of her body she separated to hold her life force (currently she's immortal).
Bob left this behind, but I don't know which ring is considered the one of "Holy Light"...
With more questions now than answers I continued west to what looked like another location, but it was completely surrounded by impassable mountains. Probably another location where I need the dragon. I found a sign with another riddle nearby, "passage through here will be found among the ugly who create great beauty, where admidst [sic] cowards, is one whose courage is legendary." I noticed I was near the reported Cave of Perfection and decided to stop by.
Wow, that's a full party of evil
Turns out Fezzik, one of the two who attacked Thalmus, was waiting for someone to show up with the moon and sun gems. It's likely I would get them from the sun and moon temples. Strangely he didn't want to attack me, but I have a feeling he will once I have the gems. I'll come back when I've leveled up a bit. It's at about this point I had another run in with the deadly enchanters, and didn't feel like continuing.

This is the fight with the dragon in the arena. I'm not sure what kind of defense I could have against this... it does more damage than Frenzy
The non-linearity of the entire game is really overwhelming. I don't expect it to let up, but I sure hope I can get a handle on the situation. My thought that collecting a ring will bring an experience boost is my only hope for leveling up. Experience from battles just won't get me to the necessary 12,800 for max level. Strap yourselves in everyone; this is going to be a long one.

Elapsed Time: 6h15m (Total Time: 13h00m)


  1. I rented this game once as a kid and was utterly confused. Most of my RPG experience was with classic JRPGs, so this really just came out of nowhere for me. I remember killing someone and realizing that.. killing that person was a mistake? And then I gave up.

    1. I imagine this would be the kind of game I'd stop playing for a week, completely forget what I was doing, and not bothering with it again. Also accidentally killing the wrong person is another reason I didn't outright fight that one guy with the Power Lord ID. Do NPCs stay dead?

    2. I really don't know if NPCs stay dead. I guess I just assumed they did.

    3. Hmmm, it looks like they do. Accidentally killed someone and nearly everyone else in one castle, waited many days (at least 40), still gone. So, I reloaded.

  2. It's interesting how your posts slowly recover my memory of this game.
    I start at "OH YEAH I remember this game!".....and now as details fill in, it becomes "oh, THAT game..."

    1. I'm glad I could provide a trip down memory lane. Did you happen to finish the game? Busy weekend prevented me from playing, but I'm actually eager to get back to it tonight.