Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Game 5: Dragon Warrior (NES) - Grinding

I'm sitting here wondering, "how do I make grinding levels sound exciting?" Having come up with no good answer I'll just ramble. At the beginning of the night I decided that I'd get enough gold to buy the Broad Sword. This took about an hour to finish, during which time I gained a level. Unfortunately, this level made the enemies I was fighting fear me. They started to run away.
Looks like it's already gone
Now that's an interesting concept, and one that very few games incorporate on consoles; however, it's just not fun if I have no way to stop or catch them. It just wastes time having to watch the beginning of the battle, even more if they run after a couple of hits. Escape is guaranteed for the enemy, unlike me where the enemy can block my escape. I actually would rather just not get into the fight if it was going to lead nowhere. It makes grinding take longer as well.

When I grind I'll usually fight until I'm about to be wiped, then I'll head back to heal. Even if I have a particular goal in mind I'll finish up the grinding round before continuing on. This time that means I ended up with enough to purchase the Broad Sword I planned on, and a Large Shield. I also bought another set of keys and opened up the doors in the towns I'd visited. In Garinham I had hoped to find Garin's grave and the Silver Harp, but didn't see it beyond the door.
Guess what the other guard says
With no other hints to go on, I explored a cave I had previously seen. This one was filled with monsters. Luckily I had gained the spell Radiance, which shows a much better view of the dungeon compared to a torch. Quickly getting through the cave I found a Fighter's Ring. An NPC mentioned before that all real warriors wear rings, so why not. (I've been told by someone in chat that the ring doesn't actually do anything due to a bug; still it's fun to pretend.)
Three whole squares in every direction!
There's only one NPC I hadn't spoken to yet because he's on the other side of some barrier looking tiles. Last game I tried to cross something like that was Ultima, and there it meant instant death if I didn't have the right mark. Here it only takes 15 HP away, and I receive the hint I need to find Garin's grave. Before this though, I grinded to get Full Plate, and up to level 12.

So far, I really do have to commend the game on excellent and well placed hints. There's still some exploration involved to find towns and caves, but I haven't been lost for things to do yet (just too low level to do them). Having the manual isn't without its benefit though; I just found mine, and looked up the barriers. Here it says plainly that they deal 15 points of damage. Even so, it's no great loss to save and experiment (like usual).
From Zenic's perspective, why is the wall dark?
In Garin's grave--which looks like any other cave--I found the Silver Harp I had expected. This harp when played summons a monster to fight. It might actually be helpful in grinding except it takes about as long to play the harp as it does just walking back and forth. So, I decide to trade in the harp for the second fabled item, the Staff of Rain.

Knowing that my next hint led me into more dangerous territory I grinded up another level; the time this takes is really starting to add up. Exploring near Hauksness turned out to be tougher than I thought, so I gained another level. Instead of going through Hauksness I decided to search for Cantlin--a town someone told me to seek out. The enemies in this area were much more than I could handle, so I spent the majority of my time running away and healing.

Finally I stumbled upon the town, and found it guarded by a Golem. I'd heard enough rumors to know that the Fairy Flute picked up earlier would lull him to sleep; he stayed that way while I hacked him to bits. Nobody in town made mention of the Golem, which is odd since he was guarding the town; I guess they don't get out much. I picked up some more hints, one about an armor, and another regarding some proof that I was Erdrick's descendant; also picked up the Silver Shield. An interesting bit of game lore is suggested here as some of the townspeople mention their grandfathers having come from Hauksness. I guess this is a refugee town, which makes the wall around it more understandable.
Hey Nester, you're about as useless as in the comic
It was getting on in the evening (morning), and I wanted to see what else I could wrap up; so, I headed to Hauksness and located the tree spoken of in Cantlin. Here I found a tough enemy; he killed me. I'm fairly sure he's guarding Erdrick's Armor. Changing gears I instead head for the green dragon in the cave I found early on. Sleep (the spell) wasn't nearly as effective as the first time, but I managed to put him down after a tough battle. Beyond a door here I found Princess Gwaelin. Returning her to the castle raised the spirits of King Lorik, and the Princess rewarded me with something. I ended here for the night, so I'm not sure what she gave me. If I remember correctly it's some kind of compass that leads back to Tantegel Castle.
"Let me ask you question, and you're going to have to answer yes."
While it may sound like a lot happened, the majority of the time was spent grinding levels or gold--really both. I'd estimate out of the time I spent this session 3 hours was grinding. So yes, there's a lot of fighting in this game, but I'm not tired of it yet. My next step is to get the armor from the Axe Knight. He put me to sleep last time, so I think I need to silence him with Stopspell, and put him to sleep myself to stand a chance. After that I need to get the proof I'm Erdrick's descendant, and then I believe I can get the third item. I've also heard of Erdrick's Sword, but the only rumor is that it existed and could cut through steel. With some luck I'll have this wrapped up in the next session.

Session Time: 4h40m (Total: 7h00m)


  1. Wearing a ring is macho thing, huh? That's a new one. ;P I wonder if that golem had a nightmare about being hacked to bits, while you were hacking it to bits.

  2. Three hours of grinding and still not bored! Either you have immense stamina my friend or combat in this game is unnaturally addictive. Which is it?

    1. I have an unusual predilection for repetitive tasks. Probably another reason I enjoy console RPGs. Most of the time I set a short term goal like 1 level, or an easy gold amount. After I get that I go exploring for a bit before I continue to do more grinding. Helps to break things up a bit.

    2. I should try playing some old CRPGs while listening to podcasts. I used to find repetative tasks quite relaxing.

  3. I take it the time on the right is your total time? You might want to make that a bit clearer.

  4. Just so you know, I've included a link to your blog from my own at:

    1. Sounds great! Thanks. I've done the same. I haven't been able to catch up on your posts yet, but I'm hoping this weekend I'll have some time.