Monday, December 30, 2013

Game 21: Little Ninja Brothers (NES) - Won!

Bask in the glory of the final screen!
I know this is probably unexpected (unless you caught the stream yesterday). I was distracted, and it didn't help that I was stuck on a game I had little desire to play. Sorry for the long delay, but now we're caught up (actually, caught would be if I were done with 1990, but we'll get there). I spent the majority of yesterday playing through Little Ninja Brothers, and the long stretch of playing resulted in an extended session at the end, but it's done now. I'm half tempted to leave it here and move on to a final rating, yet I'm sure there's at least one that would like the full recap, so let's do this.
I'm surely not dressed for this weather
Last we left I had reached the town of Chatzy, then backtracked to get the third bell. When I came back, I explored to the north and east of Yokan where a tower lay waiting. It was obvious from the monsters' levels I was much too early for that area. Even so I was curious enough to venture all the way to the end where I was told I needed the seven bells to pass. The battles at least gained me enough gold to afford the torch waiting back in Chatzy, and to explore the dark cave north of there.
A lone Yoma Chateau taunts me
Is that a town? Maybe? Possibly? Nope, it's death
The cave took all my resources on my first attempt, but I found the exit to a winter wonderland. On the other side somewhere was Leila, a princess and wind spirit. She's supposed to help me extinguish the flames around Fire Castle. I passed by the Yoma chateau as I knew I didn't have enough to make it through. Instead, I looked for a town, and was relieved when I found a town-like tent.
Try saying that five times fast
Oh great, a boss in the middle of nowhere with no chance to rest up. Well, let's see how hard he is, I mean maybe with a bit of luck I can pull through.
Greatest wizard in the Yoma clan; how hard could he be?
Oh, that's a cheap first turn!
I wonder how many times that's going to happen
While I expected the outcome I didn't think the game could pull any cheaper punches. I tracked back to Yokan to try my hand at Blu Boltar. Getting to him wasn't difficult, and the fight with him was even easier. It all came down to luck though (like much of this game), as I had very little in the way of healing.
A wild Blu Boltar has appeared!
Blu Boltar was simple, easy, not even a threat. Well maybe a minor threat. He could do 30 damage in a single hit when he transformed into a dragon, and that's about a third of my max. Fortunately for me he couldn't hit the broadside of a barn. I probably dodged 10 attacks in a row at one point, and he seemed to have only half that ability.
I'll attribute this to the button mashing I was doing
I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the defeated screen for him, as I wasn't expecting such an easy fight. First time facing a boss and he just falls over. I suppose the extra exploration and levels assisted in this win.
Break time!
At this point I sat on my progress for about a month, thinking I wanted to put in a bit more time and some more content before I updated again. Well that was around Thanksgiving, and time just kind of snowballed after that. Here we are with New Years just around the corner, and I hated the idea of leaving this for next year.
I'm not sure why I still have the antidote
Even with the easy win against Blue Boltar I didn't think I had gained enough to defeat Wil the Wiz. So, I went off to Shorin to train in the ways of Kung Fu. First, I searched for the Golden Claw though, which was rumored to be hidden in town. I searched the perimeter before I gave up, and decided a clue might appear after I defeat the monks at the temple.
There's my clue, and by 'clue' I mean detailed step-by-step instructions
The monks this time were pushovers. Oh, the wonder of an additional four levels has done for my survivability. The remaining five monks were Hitman, Charlie, Herculean, Hick, and Winoman (not sure any of the names really have anything to do with characters except the last who seemed to use drunken master style).
The only difficult fight, he could throw two projectiles
Where does the trope of the drunk old kung fu master come from?
Once the last monk fell I received a new amulet. Not the bell I was hoping for, but I didn't fear long as that was waiting for me back at the base of the mountain. Now at five bells I was feeling confident I could wrap the game up in a single day, so I pressed on. The directions for the golden claw were to purchase an iron claw and throw it into the pond. I wondered if this would actually work.
I didn't try this option, I wonder what it does... it's so cryptic
I had to throw the iron claw in twice. The first time I mistakenly told the old man that I dropped a  golden claw. He called me a liar and didn't even have the decency to return my iron one. It turns out the wise man rewards honesty. I told him I dropped the iron one and he gave me a golden one in return. Seems he suffers from short-term memory loss.
The expensive one, thank you
Well, nothing left but to go back and face off with that wizard. I should mention, I found I was missing out on a key function in this game. I can't believe I made it as far as I did without using it. I mean seriously, it would have helped so much in all of the turn based battles up to this point. Did anyone realize it? I had been making the game harder than necessary (beyond selecting hard difficulty, which reportedly only makes enemies move faster during action sequences).
I should really just try all options
There's a menu option, 'Call', which summons Ryu to fight by my side. He's controlled by the computer AI, has his own HP, and more than doubles my chances of getting through fights alive. Healing items heal both brothers. It's hard to believe I went this long without him. Even with his help, it still took three or four tries before the wizard's slimes suddenly stopped eating me when I turned into a sweet bun. During the last battle they only damaged me.
The nearby Yoma chateau had this item
The Dragstar isn't much help. The batteries for it are prohibitively expensive, and skipping battles isn't really that great by the time it's available. I guess it saved me a little bit of time in the end since I was able to buy more each time I died at Big Gulp (we'll get to there soon).
Did you figure all that out on your own, Jack?
Turns out Leila was the bird the whole time. Who would have guessed? Anyway, now that she's released I'm sure the fires are out around the castle. I'll just head on over there and... wait, the fire is still there.
What do you mean "when 'I' shut off the fire?"
Give me a hand? You're supposed to do it...
The time it took me to figure out how to get Leila out to the fire castle to turn the fire off shall not be discussed. Instead, I'll point out once again my lack of understanding menu commands. It seems there's another 'Call' command on the field menu, which up to this point had no use. I blame the translation just a bit, but also my lack of familiarity with all the menu. The manual was dry as dirt and I didn't read it completely either. Hopefully I'll get better at reading between the translations.
Staring at me in the face the whole game
Uhh, yes please
The fire castle, like all other dungeons are devoid of any interesting sights. Instead, they act as a store house for random battles, stairs, and a single boss. No treasure, no hidden items, nothing really of note. Three levels down I find the boss.
Pretty sure they attacked first... pretty sure
The boss here was an action battle, and the toughest one all game. This monster is called Devillian, but ends up coming back as a random encounter in the last area, so I'm not sure he can really be called a boss. He can breath homing fireballs, and the only attack that can harm him is the sword, which Leila helpfully just upgraded.
I tried my punches fruitlessly as the fireballs turn to chase me
In the end it was a close battle, in fact I almost lost since the fireballs didn't disappear when Devillian died. I say that like it was the first time I fought him, but it was more like the fourth. Another prism bell was my reward. On the other side was another desolate wasteland of forest and fields with a single village awaiting me. The village of Ling-Rang offered all the amenities of other villages with one notable oversight. A save point. Without a convenience store there's no password, and it seems without a store there's no option to use a whirly-bird to return to this town.
Well that isn't very nice
I received a prism claw from the last field training located here. The last pieces of equipment were pricey, but I grinded money to purchase it all. Down below the town is another town called the Mei-Tong district. Another divine creature was waiting for me here, holding the final bell. Having the seventh bell it was time go to Shin-Shin Tower, the one I went to earlier to the west of Yokan. Another boring dungeon later, I reached the top.
Now we're finally getting somewhere, must be very near the end of the game...
what the! when's the last time I got a password... 2 hours maybe
Oh, haha, yeah, nice joke...
That's right, the game pretends to crash right near the end of the game. Nice job developers. That would have been a really funny joke, you know, if the game hadn't actually crashed 3 hours earlier.
This is what a real crash looks like
With that mild heart attack out of the way the seven bells created a rainbow bridge to the divine heavens. There waiting for me was my mentor. Apparently he's actually a divine being. All this was done to pass along the prism sword (which I completely forgot about and didn't use during the final battle), and unlock the passage under Ling-Rang. Moo-man's mind was taken away because of some trickery, and now it's returned. The call command is used again for the final time.
Uh, he lost his mind, can you give it back?
The end of the game came quickly after that. The tunnel to Mt. Cone-Rum was a twisty passage that caused me to map my first one in this game. The battles along the way weren't too difficult. Climbing Mt. Cone-Rum was the shortest dungeon/tunnel area.
For the length of most dungeons the climb up the mountain is rather short
The final battle was rough. Big Gulp gets two attacks per round, stuns both characters, and heals whenever he's low on health. He also has a high dodge rate, and all his attacks seem to land. The only things that makes him possible to beat are stun attacks. For over three hours I beat my head against this monstrosity.
How many arms and eyes do you really need?
After much trial and many errors, I found my fixer throwing stars could stun him. Even easier, yet overlooked by me (I learned about them from a YouTube video watched afterwards), were boo-bombs I had in my inventory. The throwing stars have a chance to miss, but the bombs seem to automatically hit. Had I bothered to try them this final time would have been hours shorter.
The ending felt really random. Sure I gained some levels, but I only beat King Gulp because I got lucky. There was no planning. No effective use of resources. Just dumb luck. I'm not sure beating him with boo-bombs would have felt much different. Well, there's nothing else to really do against an RNG nightmare like him. At least it's over now instead of me dreading trying to get through today.
Whoopee~... my thoughts exactly
The ending wraps up with Ryu and Jack returning to their monastery for training, and a promise of a sequel. I'm hoping the series gets better, but I'm not really expecting much. Super Ninja Boy and Ninja Boy 2 are coming, and I'm not looking forward to getting there.
Yes, very long... please make the next one shorter or more interesting
Well, that's Little Ninja Brothers. I'm very much looking forward to getting to Ultima IV. I've never played it before, so this will be quite the treat. In the mean time, there's the rating for this game, and another cut before I get there.
Punch! Kick!
My last password
Elapsed Time: 9h20m (Final Time: 15h20m)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Game 21: Little Ninja Brothers (NES) - Taking No Prisoners, Sparing No Lives

This is a pretty good summary of the game
My plan may come to halt once I near the end, but the game is a bit more manageable now that I've skipped nearly every boss. Every time I find one I leave town and head off in another direction. It's done wonders for my survivability.
You don't sound brainwashed at all
I arrived in the town of Yokan to find everyone praising Blu Boltar as some sort of savior. Of course, once I heard he was in town I knew my next step: leave. Actually, I did try my hand at reaching him once, but failed miserably. It's obvious something fishy was going on around there, and confirmed this when I found some resistance to the Yoma Clan underground.
That's more than I've seen them do so far
In their midst were two celestial beings (a dog and a monkey), but they were just uselessly bickering. Why? They forgot why. "So what's it going to take to make them to stop," I wonder. Oh, Jack just said, "stop," and they did. With their help I learned how to use the 'M' bonus I was collecting. The bonus appears randomly from blocks, and once I have six I can now use a special Mighty Ball attack.
And, all it does is turn the enemy blue
I also received a new sword after participating in a running goal, which I again passed by losing. I'm not sure what the point of those screens are since they're easily completed at even a moderate pace.
I tried using the sword during my assault on Blu Boltar, but the hit box is really finicky
I filled back up on supplies since I collected quite a bit of gold during that attempt. Previously I stated I can only carry 8 of each type of item, but I spoke too soon. There's an item that will fully heal Jack, but I guess the developers thought it was overpowered and limited it to one. One! Well, I guess I'll just move along to the next town.
No relation to Roger
In the middle of nowhere I met the rabbit celestial being. He acted more as a sign post and fortune teller. At some point I'm going to need to bypass a Fire Castle to reach Mt. Cone-Rum, and face the great demon King Gulp. Before I left, Rogee pointed me towards Shorin, the town of Kung-Fu.
Is that a question? Also, gesundheit
Shorin offered up some new armor (Lee's Robe (Bruce?)) and a new protective talisman (sigma). There's also a Golden Claw somewhere in town. It remains quite hidden. The town holds the key to the Blue Bell, but it's only offered to the most worthy fighter in all of Shorin. The fight to the top is tough. I'm still not sure how to beat the first monk, Hoe-mer.
That's a nice ball and chain, but it doesn't seem to go with your hit box at all
I'll struggle with him later. Nearby was another Yoma Clan chateau, which held the only candle in all the world. The match I had bought earlier turned out completely useless in the cave to the west of town. Getting to the candle was difficult, once again the tower had one particular set of enemies that proved the game wasn't going to let me off easily.
Here, have some invisible enemies that shoot projectiles
With candle in hand I made my way through the cave. I was surprised to find myself face-to-face with a samurai. Not that a samurai in this world is surprising (especially when there are other enemies that are much more out of place). It was the fact the battle was turn-based. Here I thought that was saved for bosses, and that's what I mistook my first encounter for without realizing the game had changed the rules.
Tiger Tank is much more surprising
I realized after I beat the samurai, and squandered half my healing bun reserves, that these were random encounters. There's absolutely no reason to even consider battling enemies in this fashion. I ran from them all; even QP Fox, who seems to be some kind of special enemy as he's the only one named when I fight him in action battles.
Normally it just says 'enemies'
Are you the same QP Fox, or does QP stand for something?
A desert awaited me on the other side of the dark cave. Here the game decided it would bestow both types of luck on me. With an obscene encounter rate I worried I might not make it very far, but I was able to run from the majority without issue. The remainder I battled or used a skateboard to escape. I passed by the Fire Castle, and made my way to the town of Chatzy.
I double dog dare you!
It's strange to reach a town this deep into the game, and find it nearly devoid of better equipment. There are a couple of new throwing items, but they're much too expensive and very situational. A fire shield looked promising; however, when I tried to purchase it I was told the mirror shield I had would sell for four times the amount, and thought better of giving up such a prize.
I'm starting to wonder how long this game actually is
To the north of town is another cave, but my candle wasn't bright enough to light the way. Instead, a shop in town sells a torch for 1000 sen, and I only had 100. I figured it was a good time to head back to the evil queen while I try to save up for the torch.
This must be the deeper darker cave
This time around the evil queen didn't stand a chance. The combination of six levels, Lee's Robe, and Talisman Sigma allowed me to dodge and deflect nearly every attack. It was quite the 180.
This is the last half of the deflection antimation...
nice try Google... anyone know an easy way to create GIFs? If so, I'll promise more animations
As promised, more animations.
This is with Easy Gif Animator, which seems to mostly work, but in the 2 minutes I played around with it I can't find a way to adjust framerate (this is at about half speed). I still have 18 uses left on the free trial though, so unless another option presents itself I'll keep messing with it.

With the evil queen banished, the lily spirits took back their castle. The melody that played afterwards was very pleasant.
One might almost say it's almost magical... like, magic... of Scheherazade... go buy our other game
I now had the antidote, but when I arrived in town I realized there was no way to actually use it. I was told to put it into the spring, but how? Maybe I just wasn't at the right place, maybe there was a hidden area to the town, maybe if I just trip into the lake...
Uhh, 'use' button? Where are you?
Maybe if I just stumble upon the correct square
With the antidote in the spring everyone in town returned to normal, or at least their own version of normal.
Don't worry about Jimmy, he's always been that way
The mayor was very eager to thank me, offering anything I desired in reward for my service. I requested the prism bell, and now we're up to three. I'm fairly sure one resides with Blu Boltar, and I know for certain the blue bell is at Shorin. This means I'm only about half way through the game. Maybe I can get through it this week.
The password is now taking up all character spaces
Elapsed Time: 2h20m (Total Time: 6h00m)