Sunday, January 4, 2015

Game 33: Tombs & Treasure (NES) - Deadends & Demons (Finished)

Well they look happy
Despite all the signs indicating I should, I didn't restart the game right away. However, maybe it was a good thing as I happened to stumble upon a couple areas I missed. While revisiting the High Priest Tomb I looked at the skeleton again, but this time I got a close up view instead of a vanilla description of a skeleton. However, I couldn't find anything to do with the keyhole behind the skull.
Silver key doesn't fit, so it must be that key behind the Jaguar
I reviewed the map and noticed an area to the southeast described as the Secret Path to the Voice. In the game, I only found a forest with no discernible path. Eventually I stumbled on a hidden path at the end of which I found myself in the Nunnery. Entering through this secret door caused the voice of Kulkulcan to assist with solving the current puzzle. The advice I received was to ascend to the 2nd floor of Caracol and place the golden globe and wait; and repeat with golden stand.
I totally see the path now
Still not deterred I decided I should figure out how to reach the second floor of Caracol. I stared at the screen while inside Caracol. Nothing came to mind though, so it was time to try every action on all parts of the scene: the window, the floor, the wall, the pedestal. I received a message that the lead character wasn't strong enough when I tried to push the pedestal. Of course, the move command produced no relevant response. I switched to Jose, and revealed the staircase.
Seriously, what's the difference between move and push?
I climbed upstairs and found a second pedestal sitting in the middle of a room with two windows. Only the golden globe fit. Doing as instructed and waiting for the proper time of day, a beam of light lit a single stone. Crushing the stone I found a crystal key. Repeating that process with the golden stand on the pedestal first, caused a second beam of light from the other window to light up different stone. I crushed that as well and collected the censer, said to raise the dead. While both items were necessary, it still didn't help me progress. So, I wandered around again until I stumbled back into the Castillo Pyramid, and put the head on the statue.
I found a leather bag with incense, and two flasks holding odd smelling liquids
It was at this point I found I was truly out of options. More items didn't help me get that green jewel, and the jaguar statue was permanently fixed in front of the hole in the Warriors' Temple. I realized that the compass I made was magnetic, but there was no way to remove the spinning rod. I restarted the game, and had to do everything over again. Twice actually because I once again created the compass too soon. Using the rod on the key in the hole retrieved it easily. Once I had the key I knew exactly where to use it.
Good thing I got my arm out in time
I descended the stairs below the tomb and found myself in a maze of twisty passages that all looked the same. In fact, the stairs up mysteriously disappeared as well. The only way out was to create the compass. Following the directions of the compass I found myself in the room with the Akbal Jewel. Unfortunately, I hadn't opened the other passage, so I was once again stuck. I restarted the game a third time. Doing things in the correct order, I was able to take the jewel with both passages open. When I did, only the passage back into the maze closed. I was then free to take the pawl and drain the water from the well of sacrifice. With the green jewel I was able to weaken the demon Venum and finally made some progress.
Never split up!
Behind the demon was a door guarded by two statues. It opened when I twisted the right head. The next room held a crystal coffin. It was lit by a single ray of light, and held a mummy covered with a two-eyed mask. I used the crystal key and took the mask; however, I noticed the light disappeared and I was then stuck. Luckily I had a password close to that point, restored, and used the mirror on the light to activate a door.
Always create an exit first
The exit dumped me into the lower room of El Castillo Pyramid, alone. I made my way back to the well, but only found Jose unconscious. He said some demons took the girl to the Ball Court. I grabbed the pawl and handle from Castillo, and used them to open the passage inside the Ball Court chamber. With both the red and blue jewel affixed in the two-eyed mask I saw an odd stone in the wall at the end of the passage. Pushing it opened a side door, and inside was a miniature pyramid with another demon guarding it. Tezcat required all other adventure aspects completed before I could defeat it. This included getting the hint from the tablets in Castillo, even though it didn't directly benefit my progress.
The mini temple/pyramid hides the sun key
Since I had to look at the tablets again close to this point, I knew I had to shrink down near the midnight hour. I tested out the potions, the large one was the key. The smaller one made me larger. However, before I could quaff it, Jose turned on me. Apparently he was a demon and only helping me so I would lead him to the sun key. He planned to overthrow Tentacula and rule the world himself. Seems he should have done this before I was powerful enough to defeat him. I picked up the ring he took from the girl.
Inside was the sun key, so large I couldn't move it, and a key hole. At first I thought I needed to find a way to move the sun key into the hole. I couldn't find a way to move it though. I tried the silver key, and received a message that the temple unlocked, but I still couldn't find a way to open it. Any guess at which command worked? Push? No. Take? No. Move? Finally! The top pulled up and allowed me to take the sun key. As soon as I did though, the screen went black and I was transported the Shrine of Tentacula.
Use Akbal Jewel, use Ring of Itza, kill with sword
As final bosses go, this guy was a push over. Really the final puzzle was more challenging. The girl laid on an altar, asleep. When I looked at the girl I was told the censer would help wake her up, but I couldn't join it with the incense. The key was to put the Censer on the floor, put the incense in it, and then use the lighter. Anything short of those exact actions was met with the same "you can't use that" message. Once awake she sat up and pointed out a keyhole under her. Sliding the sun key in and giving it a twist caused the temple to collapse.
What exit? Oh, this conveniently place time portal?
The game ends with the girl and boy stealing away to the time of ancient Mayans where Prof. Imes (the girl's father--I incorrectly called him her grandfather in the last post) was alive and well. More than that, he was a high priest and they were all praised as heroes for banishing Tentacula.

Elapsed Time: 3h58m (Final Time: 6h21m)

So, in the end, not really an RPG, but on the surface it can easily be confused as one. The adventure aspects are good, but the dead ends are a drag (not unheard of for the time though). I had fun. Time for the rating.
At least this time the final area didn't collapse just because the boss died
Combatant - This was a joke. It's like someone heard what RPG combat was and implemented it without having played one. There's no challenge, and it only serves to make the game more linear. It's passable for the style of game, but could have been so much more.
Rating: 2

Admirer - The party is always set, except their names I suppose. It's interesting that each have their own phrases when attempting different actions; too bad switching is so cumbersome. I would have used it more if it were say the select button rather than an icon.
Rating: 2

Puzzler - Most of the puzzles were great. It's obvious in some cases that some traps will require a reset, but there were an equal amount that don't really warn against taking certain actions. Overall it's paced well, and there are multiple puzzles to seek out while mulling over others. The addition of the voice of hints ensured I wasn't completely stuck. Because this isn't an RPG though, this category suffered from a lack of side quests and multiple solutions.
Rating: 4
So, in the span of a month or less, Prof. Imes was declared the leader of the Mayans; sure that can happen
Instigator - The story is farfetched, but it's consistent with its description of the items, demons, and various locations. I have trouble suspending my disbelief when a story draws so much from reality, but then adds things like time travel and shapeshifting demons. There's nothing to influence or change on subsequent playthroughs, but it's a short enough game that I might pick it up to enjoy a second or third time down the road.
Rating: 5

Collector - Items yes, but not the collectable kind. Most items are used up and never seen again. I like the use of weapons with item enhancing jewels, but I wish there was a bit more to do with the full inventory. There's no economy at all.
Rating: 3

Explorer - There's not a lot to see. Music is nice and subtle, and graphics indoors are nice, but the world connecting each place is bland and uninteresting. Entrances to each location aren't always obvious, so unless you had the map it'd take a while to figure out how to enter the pool of water or the secret path to the hinting voice.
Rating: 3
Not likely
Final Rating: 19 [32%]

This was a nice little side game, but it's time to get on with a real RPG. Actually, Starflight is next, which is another debatable game. In fact I almost didn't include it, but outside of limited character advancement and combat not really fitting an RPG there's a deep economy, expansive story, and a "world" large enough to rival nearly any other game I've played to this point. Let's see how it holds up in the end.

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