Thursday, March 15, 2012

Game 4: Willow (NES) - Mostly Done

Not all done, but I'm fairly sure I'm at the last boss before the fight with Bavmorda. General Kael is extremely tough. I don't know if I'm missing a way to make this fight easier, but magic seems to be blocked, so I can't heal, and he kills me in 4 or 5 hits. I'm thinking I'll just need to find a good strategy, or grind some.
Death screen
We left off after finding Fin Raziel, and getting a flute from a forlorn ghost searching for a lost love. Turns out this lost love was turned into a monster by, you guessed it, Bavmorda. After beating him down he reverts back to his human form. Our path is once again open, and leads to two towers; at the base of which is the baby Elora Danan. That's right; she plays a minor role, mentioned in passing as the future queen. How much influence could a baby really have though right? At least she made it into the game in some form.
Pay no attention to the person holding me, she is just an unimportant NPC
So, I led Willow round and round the tower floors, which are strangely devoid of challenge in the first tower. Reaching the top, I'm given a blue crystal and a red crystal. Then I receive a crest of some kind because I collected these two crystals. It all just felt like busy work in the worst way. Wasting time here has given "time" for Sorsha to move on, and open up the next area.
Hello! *Hello*... hello
We head into another maze, this time in the mountains. Mapping really distracts me from playing. Many times I'd find Willow getting hit by enemies that weren't there just a second ago. Most enemies only appear while crossing the screen. A couple of game over screens later I decided to take a trip to the bar (in-game) so I didn't have to start again from the towers. I also found that my previous assumption that I lost my items when I continue was wrong. It's possible that only applies to caves since the only missing items were those I found inside shortly before succumbing to overwhelming odds (or lack of skills).

However, when I started, I still had the flute; later I still had a spell that turned Willow into a slime after finding it in the mountain maze. That spell is actually really useful since it stops monsters from spawning, unlike the enemy spell that turns Willow into a pig during which time the enemy gets to take 5 - 10 pot shots while unable to transition to the next screen. It's a very costly spell at 50 MP; I currently have a max of 238 at level 14. Being the slime is also necessary to talk to a guard later on.
I don't remember this part of the movie
After mapping out the mountains I head through a monster infested path with living mouths. Guess what spell we need here. Continuing on we find some random NPCs in a couple of caves, and a cursed bridge. Also, we receive one of the weakest swords in the game, the Wing Sword. Actually, it becomes the most powerful, but first we're allowed to wield it in futility.
Pretty sure he wasn't from the movie either
Now I'm stuck, again. I remember the Nail Clan rodent Kchil, and how he appeared after a triggered event. With low HP, I start heading back towards the hut where I received the spell Thunder, one of the few places to rest. On the way back I decide to talk to the random NPCs again, and this time, one gives me boots to cross the bridge. I'm not sure if it was the attempt to cross, receiving the Wing Sword, or the other random NPC, but what hint do I get that I need to go back to this guy? None. Not a single word indicates that he holds the secret to this bridge. I only succeed here because I've learned to distrust the game.

Realizing that I don't have the MP to cross the monster infested path, I head back to cross the bridge and find the town of Tir Asleen. Here the full force of devastation from Bavmorda is evident. Over half the houses are deserted or boarded up. Beyond this town I find what looks like a castle, and I consider if Bavmorda is here. I wasn't able to enter when first arriving, so I thought I might need Fin Raziel's power to enter; I searched around to ensure there wasn't anything else I missed. A small cave is nearby with a treasure chest blocking another passage, and an old woman who told me she was waiting for the prophesized (it's a word Google! (prophesied sounds wrong, sorry)) savior. Well, here he is standing right in front of her, and Willow continues his silent protagonist act.

Now, it's time to grind. With nothing else to do, I head back to find a good grinding spot near the hut where I learned Thunder. I chose here because it's the closest recovery point to high level enemies. It actually doesn't take too long once I have a good rhythm going, although it's probably the low point of entertainment. Even clocking in at under 30 minutes, one of the fastest grinding sessions I except in the genre, I felt bad for putting viewers through it.
Sorry guys
Level 13 reached, I head to Fin Raziel to change her back to her human form. Why level 13? Because the manual told me so. It actually has some other less blatant common sense hints like "Willow can only walk on pathways," and "Many creatures are best avoided instead of fought." So, I ended up glossing over that section at first. Fin Raziel charges the wand with her magical power, and we're ready to fight Bavmorda. Yet, I feel like I'm missing something.
I bet you want me to beat Bavmorda for you now too
Po! I still haven't found this creature that allows me to warp between places. Rather than spend the time to trek back to Tir Asleen time is better served by finding Po to warp back. Once again, knowing NPCs only appear after triggered I figure he is in an area I've already searched. He ended up being inside the dragon's cave; the one I had previously searched completely. Why game? Why give me an item to help Po if to even have him appear I need to have it? Why can't he be there asking for medicine?
I believe I would have noticed the flying pterodactyl the first time
No use arguing with a game...yet. Having Po allows me to get back to that stronghold, which turns out not to house Bavmorda. Instead it's another boss fight with what I would guess is the two-headed dragon Eborsisk, but only one head appears at a time. Maybe it's just a giant worm though. After this fight I get captured along with Madmartigan, have the crest stolen, and then am freed by the brownies Franjean, and Rool. I'm fairly sure this scene--along with a few others--are in just to say it's based on the movie, but in the original context it was Elora Danan that was captured. Maybe the thought of Willow carrying a baby while fighting all these monsters was edited out because of skittish executives.

Somehow, the treasure chest blocking the cave passage near the stronghold was removed. This opened up the final castle where I found the other bird warrior that enhanced the Wing Sword. He then tells me I need to find a key he gave to an old woman. He gives no hints to her whereabouts, but I do remember meeting her on top of a mountain. Excited to near the end I rush back to Tir Ansleen, head north, up the side of the mountain, and finally reach the plateau where the old woman... was. That's right; it's never easy. Why did she leave? Where did she go? Alright game, now it's time to argue.
More like, "from him"
I eventually find her, head back to the castle, and realize just how small it is compared to the mountain it sits on (the castle base floor is just 5x5). Quickly I find Sorsha, which leads to another scene from the movie. Madmartigan's magically infused professions of love win her over to the side of good, and they live happily ever after. Of course, I still need to take care of Bavmorda. Sorsha tells me the crest is hidden in a cave below the castle. All my searching turns up one empty chest. Really game, this is the most blatant waste of time yet. Not satisfied with me wandering aimlessly after something I need to find, I'm sent wandering aimlessly searching for something that's not even there. Game troll count: 4.
While you're at it, there's this wild goose you could chase
After a few attempts to search the same chest, I give up on this as a red herring, and head to face off with Bavmorda. However, General Kael has other plans, and let me tell you, he's pretty good at executing them (and me). Hopefully my next attempts prove more successful as I know I'm near the end.

This game definitely has irritating design choices, but I'm still having fun with the combat. At least until I got to Kael, which seems like a cheap fight. There's no explanation for why I can't use magic, and Kael does so much damage that I probably need to exploit his AI to have any chance. If only I didn't keep forgetting to switch back to the Wing Sword my attempts might actually succeed.
There are better passwords for the end of the game, but here's what I'm using
I was looking forward to wrapping up last night (a whole night earlier than I thought), but no such luck. Even though I fully expect to beat Willow early tonight, I won't start Dragon Warrior until Saturday. I may play some other games, or may just call it a night and get some rest (possibly do an early write-up).


  1. This sounds like it's becoming a bit of a slog. I couldn't help looking up a hint site to find out how to kill General Kael. You can beat him with nothing but your sword and shield. If you get really stuck...

    Va gurbel vg qbrfa'g fbhaq qvssvphyg, lbh whfg arrq gb svaq gur evtug eulguz. Qrsraq gjb fgevxrf gura fgno. Qrsraq gjb fgevxrf gura fgno.

  2. Hopefully I won't have to resort to looking at your hint. I'll just put in the time to max out my level, which I peeked at, and the max is 16. I'm not sure how helpful 2 levels is though.

  3. Okay, finished the game, only took another 30 minutes because I took some time after beating Kael to get up another level. Couldn't let that 8k experience go to waste now could I?

    @Trickster, thanks for the tip, I actually ended up beating him on the first try tonight. I guess I was just too tired to take advantage of him. He has a kind of blind spot down and right from him. I ran out of magic at Bavmorda the first time though, so I needed to go through all that again. Anyway, done, post tomorrow with wrap up, rating, and introducing the next game.

    Stay tuned for Dragon Warrior.

    1. Congrats! I've heard Dragon Warrior was good, but never got around to playing. I'll be looking forward to that one. :)

  4. Dragon Warrior rules! My favorite JRPG series as a whole (along with SMT) The first one is pretty simple and laid the basis for a lot of games to come...

    Congrats on finishing this one, Zen! Looking forward for your next quests!

    1. JRPG? What the--??? *checks Wikipedia*

      Oh. I was thinking of Dragon *Wars*. Well, I'll be reading anyway. :D

    2. Dragon Wars isn't on my list. Like many console RPGs (even those first released to the American PC market) that one is Japanese release only. I guess we'll just have to wait for CRPG Addict to get around to it.

    3. Yeah, I got them confused for sure.

    4. That's okay, no worries. Although, now you make me want to play through Dragon Wars.

    5. I believe the Dragon wars you are speaking of was a Japanese -only game based off of the DOS game. I believe I once found a comparison of the two versions, and they weren't very close on design (though maybe I am confusing all of this with the Japanese -only console version of Magic Candle?).

    6. I'm not sure how the two compare, and maybe they don't at all. In any case, I'll not be playing Magic Candle or Dragon Wars.