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)


  1. 15 hours 20 minutes is too long? Maybe in the NES era, but today's games are usually expected to be at least double that, unless they're bargain priced ($15 or less) or have a strong multiplayer component. Heavenly Sword got a lot of flak for being only 6-10 hours long (maybe a bit more if the player obsesses over 100% completion).

    Looking forward to your posts on Ultima and Double Dungeons. Happy New Year!

    1. When a game is this empty and long, it can feel like it's dragging on. I know by the time I get to Suikoden, Final Fantasy III, or Chrono Trigger, the hours will melt away, but for now I'm slogging my way through some rather unknown games. I have little hope of finding an exceeding great gem, but we'll get there. If a game is judged by how long it takes to beat, then expect a lot of filler.

  2. Congrats on finishing this one! Ultima IV will be quite different, so should make a nice change.

    Appropriate game length is really dependent on the quality and type of game, if something is overly repetitive or not enjoyable then fifteen hours can seem like a long time. With other games it can feel like nothing.

    Personally, I have less time these days to play games, so I'm fond of things which require much less time to complete (although I've been playing Mount & Blade Warband recently and it takes forever!)

    1. Thanks. I'm looking forward to that change. I don't have quite as much time as I'd like either, but I play anyway when I can. As you can see from the state of my post rate it's taken a hit this winter.

  3. Glad you're back and can finally beat this game! I have memories of it, though I can't tell if they're fond or not (I'm guessing not)... but I'd much rather see you play through Ultima IV! I don't remember the Ultima games being terribly good on the consoles, so I'm interested in seeing it again.

    1. Good to be back and put this one behind me. One vote for Ultima on console might not be that good. I've heard it's a great step forward considering the previous installment on the system. We'll see what we get soon enough.