Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Game 19: Swords and Serpents (NES) - And Passing Wordy Walls

One of the best sensations is the feeling of excitement about getting back into a game. Even though Swords and Serpents is light on story, I look forward to delving into the dungeon. The game does well at piecing out rewards through set treasure and spells, as well as equipment.
Examine item gives very detailed stats; allegedly, a higher efficiency score is better
One of the worst feelings when playing these old games is coming back only to realize the game is messed up in some way. For those with battery saves, a dead battery or corrupted save are growing concerns. Luckily for this game there's no chance of that with passwords; however, I do seem to continue to run into a bug every time I load the game.
According to the manual the highest cost spell is 4 points
When first loading the game, buffing spells like shield and flight cost too much to cast. I got around it by casting heal first, which then seemed to reset the casting cost of the other spells. I do wonder how this bug even occurs. With that out of the way, I moved on back down to level 3 as loading a game always starts the party at a temple (possibly the last one visited, although I'm unsure).
Does it give me extra luck to carry it?
The third floor had triggers to hit before doors in a hub would open to another area. I found a number of items: wizard's wand, scale, and a horseshoe. I also came across the Deadeye spell, which increases accuracy for one party member for one battle. The last room before heading down to the fourth floor contained a magic fountain that restores all spell points. It only has one or two uses, which I believe are reset by visiting a temple.
I just realized from this screenshot I missed searching the square above
The fourth floor had another trigger puzzle. This time they were all available, but required activation in a specific order. The monster strength increased noticeably on this floor, which took some time to get through since I took the longest route possible. Once all four triggers are hit (one behind secret doors), a door appears to the center square of the map.
Each floor has a message on the wall about "Victory"
I was eager to get to the fifth floor, which promised another temple; the next base camp from which to assault the lower levels. Waiting here was the spell Passwall. This is probably why magicians are necessary. Passwall is a powerful spell that puts the party one space forward, even through walls. It can fail on some walls even when there is something on the other side, but more often than not it succeeds.
On the other side of this very wall was a powerful piece of armor for my mage
I found the temple, another armory, and the stairs down all lumped together. The armory didn't offer anything new that I didn't already have, so I felt a bit silly when I realized I had nearly 3,000 gold and nothing to spend it on. I wonder if the economy will level off again.
I hope these messages will start to make sense
On the sixth floor I finally found one of the fabled ruby items, actually two. The shield and ring were very close together, and increased my armor rating by a good amount. I also found a brass key, which opened two brass doors on the eighth floor. I still have it hanging around my inventory taking up valuable space, but I'd like to get rid of it if it doesn't have any more use; I'm not sure there are more doors to open with it. I stumbled into a teleporter. That's okay, I thought, I've already mapped out most of level six with the auto-map, so I should be able to... wait, the color changed.
That looks like the wall color for... oh no
I was afraid of that
Sent back to level 1, I called it a night:


Instead of posting the above on its own, I pressed on a following night. With the realization that I could randomly find myself off the current floor, I broke down and started my own maps, starting with level 7. Luckily, I remembered a small unmapped square in the upper left corner of level 1, it was surrounded by walls. One passwall later I found myself back at level 6. Not too shabby.
I also found secret level beta, but have no idea what these mean
I remembered a similar place on level 4 and found myself on level 9. There were many teleporters and zoom tubes. A message on some walls warned me not to be too curious. On the other end of one of the zoom tubes, I found myself back at level 1. That was enough of that for now... I think I'll stick with the stairs.
I'm pretty sure I'm here a little early
Even though it adds minutes to exploration I'm glad I made my own maps. Level 7 wasn't too bad, but level 8 has invisible walls everywhere. I collected a couple more pieces of ruby equipment, the Major Heal spell (party heal), and a prize of another 500 worthless pieces of gold. The Ruby Crown is the only piece of ruby ware that isn't armor. I feel like I'm going to run out of room for items before I reach level 10.
Why can't I wear a crown?
Only thing of note on level 8, aside from the horrendous design, was a short pole in the sand. It was such a strange sight that I immediately knew it was important. I didn't have to guess at all since there was really only one item I hadn't used.
I pictured it standing up, but it's actually rather ambiguous whether it's buried or lying horizontally in the sand
Use horseshoe results in throwing it at the pole. Some invisible force decided it was good.
Enough to gain another experience level before calling it a night
It's an interesting puzzle; one that breaks what I would considered immersion in a consistent game world, but at the same time it was rewarding when the above message congratulated me on knowing the game Horseshoes. With that sense of accomplishment, I ended the night.
Passwords abound
Make me frown
An option for a battery
Would imbue much flattery
Instead, I write it down
If I can remember to do so, I'll check out level 3 again to see what's behind the walls. I'm still searching for a black crystal and gold key to bring back to level 1 and 2 respectively. Level 4 did have another passage where I was warned not to explore, and level 9 seems to have the same. I should at least make it to level 10 by the end of next session. I'll probably hold off on posts until I reach level 12 or 13, depending on how much happens between now and then. The game spoils that there are 16 levels.

Session Time: 5h09m (Total Time: 6h45m)


  1. I liked the password poem. Seems light on story but at least the dungeons are somewhat interesting.

    1. Thanks. I wasn't sure what to write under those shots, but still wanted to include them. I'm not completely bored with the game; that'll come once I get to Double Dungeons.

    2. I concur - like the password poem heh.

      BTW, skip Mushashi. Not worth your time IMHO. Battles are all dull, and for a DW-esque game, it really needs more text on hints etc. I'm only gonna finish it cause I'm prolly around half way done.

  2. I think I actually did have fun with this dungeon crawler, back in the day. It's just that there are so many better games out there...

    Love your screenshots with captions, BTW.

    1. That's true... there are better games, but this one isn't too bad or frustrating (so far). Glad you're still enjoying the blog even with a mediocre game. I try to keep it somewhat interesting.

  3. The spell costs could be a variable initialization problem of some sort. Basically it looks to see how much various spells cost, and for some reason this hasn't been set yet, so it reads a random value from the games code. Casting the healing spell probably does something to trigger the code that sets the cost of the spells.

    What I can't see is how this would happen (or why casting the healing spell would trigger that bit of code), as no one except a newbie coder would set those numbers as variables, they should be constants (unless the costs go down as you level or something?)