Monday, November 28, 2016

Game #62: Dragon Warrior IV (NES) - Curse of the Chosen

I played most of the rest of the game with this sword equipped
I forgot to touch upon one significant mechanic of the game. In this final chapter, only the hero is controlled by the player. There is a modicum of control of the overall strategy the AI uses, but spell choice, item choice, and attack target are decided by an evolving algorithm (one that tried to cast Beat on the final boss five times in a row). The tactics available are rather generic: offensive, defensive, try out, and normal. There's also save mp and use no mp to help conserve precious magic points for bosses (in order to use Beat five times in a row on the final boss).
We found Orin alive, and he had a dire warning about Necrosaro and Balzack
Rather than go directly to Balzack, since I had a full party and the ship, I decided to revisit and discover all the locations now open to me. In the town of Frenor I found Orin, and learned that the golden bracelet I traded away enhances alchemical reactions. This ties into the warning about the Secret of Evolution, which Necrosaro is attempting to use for his nefarious plans at world domination. Everything was peaceful in Izmit; however, anyone that stayed at the inn had the same strange dream.
Whoa, whoa, whoa... this is a children's game
In Burland, I learned that the Zenithian Shield was given to the queen of Gardenbur many years ago as a memento. I also took the time to raid the treasury. To reach Gardenbur, I needed the Magma Staff to break through a collapsed cave. With no other recourse, and no leads on the staff, I continued my travels. A shrine with a strange king collecting amulets found its way along my path. I dropped off all the small medals I had collected, and contemplated my potential rewards.
The metal babble helm is hardly worth the effort
Continuing around the edge of the continent, I eventually came upon Rosaville. There I saw the tower I'd only dreamed about, but I was without a way in. There was a melody in the dream, produced by a strange flute that revealed a staircase. From the townsfolk I learned that the elf girl Rosa cries ruby tears, and for the resulting gems, humans would forcefully make her weep. Saro sealed her in the tower to protect her. Obviously as heroes it's our duty to rescue her, and claim all the gems for ourselves.
Gee, I wonder where that stone that dispels water might have gone off to
The Seaside Village was founded by pirates long ago. Allegedly, they'd buried their treasure hidden behind a cascading waterfall. A Stone of Drought was used to gain access, but it was lost to time. Among the treasures was an hourglass said to turn back time, and the fabled Metal Babble Sword. I continued on until I came to Surene and Santeem again. I decided it was time to face off against Balzack.
Remember the name Meena, it might be important later
Balzack was no pushover. I used my newly acquired FendSpell without fully realizing it also potentially blocked my own spells. This caused Nara to perish early on, although it did protect everyone from the snowstorm attacks. I had to resort to using medical herbs to sustain Mara who had just learned blazemore. We pulled it off by the skin of our teeth.
There's a joke here, I know it...
Evil demonites stole away with Balzack's body proclaiming that the time of the Ruler of Evil was soon at hand... once they found the golden bracelet. With the evil in the castle dispatched, the treasure room was wide open. It contained both the Flute of Uncovering and the Magma Staff. The flute worked to open the way to Rosa; however, she was guarded by a Saroknight that I wasn't able to pass until later.
So much money was spent reviving characters that I hardly bought any new equipment during this time
As advertised, the staff opened the path to Gardenbur Castle. It was populated entirely (or mostly) by women. Per usual I searched every drawer in the castle, but one of the drawers I was specifically pointed towards embroiled the party in the theft of a treasured bronze amulet. To prove my innocence I had to find the one that set me up. The queen would only allow my freedom if one of my party remained behind. I could still add four once I was outside with the wagon, which made the cave to the south a bit more manageable. It still took a number of attempts to reach the thief at the bottom.
And at least one where I "chased" "her" all the way outside
The thief, named Bakor (and obviously male during the fight), was finally caught as I cut off his escape from the room. Returning the amulet gained me favor from the queen in the form of the final key (opens jail doors as well as all others), which in turned granted me the Zenithian Shield. Rumor had it that I needed all the Zenithian equipment to gain access to Zenithia where Master Dragon resided. From him I could learn how to vanquish the Ruler of Evil once the time came. It was during this mission that I gained Vivify, which allowed me to save money for equipment upgrades.
Which is a good thing as most of the equipment found in dungeons are cursed or low value
I think this is the first time I've actually used cursed items to some effect. In Wizardry I immediately removed or sold the offending item as they're all purely worse. Shining in the Darkness had a few, but the only cursed item I used was a robe that nearly wiped out my party; I took it as a sign to avoid them completely. Here, the power upgrade of Multi-edge Sword was offset by a blow back effect on the hero if the enemy was still alive. The Sword of Decimation on the other hand was a bit much to use effectively. Although I didn't risk a battle with 0 defense, I didn't think Taloon could take it. I also ended up using the Demon Hammer, which only hits on a crit. Others, like the Mask of Corruption, tempted me quite a bit. I like the dynamic these powerful pieces give to an otherwise rote system of continually increasing attack and defense.
Cristo had a less than powerful weapon equipped because of the slight chance to sap MP points (sic)
Equipment can also provide a side benefit like the anti-magic staff equipped on Cristo during the pirate cave. I swapped out Taloon for Alena as an overall better fighter, and Cristo for Nara as a better damage sponge. There are also usable effects like the sword of malice that casts fireballs, and the Magma Staff which produces mostly the same effect on all enemies instead of just a group. The more powerful equipment doesn't have any added benefit, but Cristo is more effective with the Metal Babble Sword as a weapon. I left the staff on him to help silence spellcasters.
This was very tempting, but I would venture to guess it paralyzes the character or causes confusion
It wasn't as clear where I was to go next, but I hadn't followed up on a clue of a monster infested castle on an island surrounded by mountains. Actually, it was due to that description that I put it off. Turned out it wasn't completely surrounded. I followed a river that led to Riverton (sometimes I question these names). There I learned about an air canister that would allow the party to fly. I just had to find it, rumored buried near the Ruler of Evil. I continued on to a shrine that blocked further access of the island by boat and the monster castle beyond. There a man mentioned something about teardrops, which got me thinking I needed to reach Rosa before continuing onward.
I never really understood why they crumbled or how to prevent that
The slime in her room pointed me to the shrine south of Endor to retrieve the Staff of Transform. This staff helped me sneak around Necrosaro's castle. Using the staff in battle had no effect. Using it in the world map changed the entire party into a random character sprite. Some were monsters, some weren't. It's best to know the difference when sneaking around the monsters' hideout, or so I thought.
Oh that's just mean
All the monsters are really chatty, and drop clues about Esturk, the Ruler or Evil. I managed to crash a monster meeting with Necrosaro about to announce something special. None of the monsters had a clue about where the Ruler of Evil was buried; however, the big news was that humans had unearthed him at the bottom of the mine in Aktemto.
Wait, why is Saro saying it's terrible?
Wouldn't the monsters be thrilled by the discovery? Well, seems the Ruler of Evil is about to revive, and I haven't exactly finished gearing up. I haven't even met with Dragon Master, and my only other lead is for the Zenithian armor inside a cave much too dangerous for my party. Maybe it won't be so bad. All hail Esturk?

Elapsed Time: 8h25m (Total Time: 28h32m)

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