Saturday, May 31, 2014

Game 24: Sword of Vermilion (Genesis) - Final Rating

Combat is at once frantic and unsatisfying. It has its moments, mostly near the beginning, where it's really a fight for your life. Then once you get through the first boss it becomes painfully easy. Enemies do either barely any damage, or massive amounts and there's no way to tell before being hit. Once magic becomes more powerful, the Aerios spell will slaughter nearly every enemy. The only trouble I had was with one boss, a completely unfair fight that came down to luck and tanking hits on the far left side of the screen.

Even so, the enemies react well. The differences between the AIs is noticeable (some hit and run, while others charge relentlessly) and varied. There are stats that determine damage, although I'm really unsure how both an armor class and a dexterity score fit in when enemies never miss. Maybe if I moved faster as I leveled. The occasional dropped item was a nice surprise, even though I managed to accidentally walk away from nearly all of them. Overall it was okay, but it could have offered so much more. Offering only a single magic spell, and taking that away during boss fights really speak to the missed potential.
Rating: 5
Seriously, this boss can go die now
Well, you get to name the prince. Beyond that you get to choose which eight spells he can use at any one time. Moving about is okay if a little sluggish, I was really only tripped up when I tried moving the character icon on the mini-map using cardinal directions. There's no alternative character advancement, and his appearance never changes (except in boss battles where he dawns a helmet out of nowhere). Just not much to this game (it's a theme).
Rating: 3
Would it have been so hard to palette swap the armor at least?
Some of the best quests in the game had no combat. It would have been nice to know what I was getting myself into with that shopkeeper, but it's good to know the game wasn't there only to jerk me around. The small quest to hook up two lonely old folks was a nice touch. Aside from those, everything is main quest all the way. There weren't any real puzzles or riddles to solve, and only one path exists to complete the game's many triggers.
Rating: 3
If ever lost, just pay the fortune teller for a hint
Ah, the story of an orphaned boy reclaiming his birthright. Fight the big bad and win the day. All the while everyone supports me and charges obscene amounts of money for weapons and magic. Money, I might add, that is only derived from fighting monsters. The rings do nothing. Nothing! Even if I had given them to Tsarkon I could probably still have defeated him. At the end of the game I threw them into the air, never to be seen again. I mean, why does anyone want these things?

No descriptions or lore for any of the items exist in the game. I've said it before, but the Sword of Vermilion is mentioned only when given to you. The lasting significance is non-existent. At least the world is consistent enough to always point towards the next quest point. The world as a whole feels disjointed, as if each section was created by a different person, and then pieced together at the end. There's no flow, and I felt very out of touch as my responses to many questions were scripted.
Rating: 3
You mean they aren't the power hungry corrupt advisers they seem?
Limited inventory sucks. I mean, I get trying to keep a balance for consumables, but 8 items, 8 pieces of equipment, and 8 magic spells seems a bit harsh for a 16-bit game. There are a good number of items, and I found myself needing to drop most of them in the final dungeon to fit the four keys I needed. Money became irrelevant as soon as I bought the best equipment money could buy. There were magic books, but what could really compete with Aerios? There's no storage to keep spares, and the selling price is inconsistent. Stats are plainly available to tell which piece of armor provides the best overall protection, but other facts like poison and magic resistance are hidden. How did game developers expect players to stumble across facts like this?
Rating: 3
I had to drop an item just to pick up the Digot Plant I was going to eat right away. Does that seem right to you?
Wow! This world is boring. I think there were at least 4 whole tile sets in this game. One for dungeons, one for outdoors, one for villages in the woods, and one for towns with a castle. The enemy sprites were the best thing about the game. The music wasn't bad either. There was plenty of treasure to find at the end of long passageways, but it's hardly worth the effort (most found equipment is replace by better in the next town). The game boasts "hundreds of hours of adventure gameplay." Seriously, "hundreds!" How did they come up with that number? Maybe they estimated how long it would take to use the 'seek' command on every single tile. The land of Vermilion is somewhat compartmentalized, traveling beyond your means is possible to some extent. There's just no point to doing so.
Rating: 5
Let's have white screen with text during the end sequence for no reason

Final Rating: 22 [37%]

Well, another mediocre-average game down. I was really hoping to be wowed by a Genesis game, but I suppose that will have to wait until Rings of Power. It just so happens that game is coming up right after Cadash. Actually, looking at the upcoming list I'm excited to move on to bigger and better games. King's Bounty needs to get cut, but I want to play through it again for a bit to refresh my memory. Chet over at CRPG Addict (probably don't need the link, but what the hey) will cover the game soon, so check out his coverage for more details once it's up.

So, Cadash this weekend. I suspect it's rather short since there's no saving. If there's enough material I may stretch it out, comparing the differences between ports. Most likely I'll just have everything in a single post (seems a bit strange to go from 0-finished, but it's bound to happen).

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Game 24: Sword of Vermilion (Genesis) - Finished!

It feels good to put this one behind me. As disappointing as it was, it'll probably score fairly well for this time period. Yet, something was missing from the experience. A sense of urgency, a connection to the plot. Take for example the titular Sword of Vermilion. What's the point of it aside from it being the most powerful sword in the game? The only time it's mentioned during the game is when I receive it, and it seems completely optional.
I attempted to revisit some loose ends while grinding. Neither the shopkeeper in Malaga (continued to ignore me), nor the search for a secret door in the cave near Helwig panned out. I resolved to bang my head against this demon boss shaped wall until it randomly crumpled at my feet. Here's a video of what normally happened:

Once I resolved myself to it, I conquered the demon to retrieve the red crystal only to be asked to retrieve a blue one. Long story short I returned the blue as well, and after feigning violence the king obliged with the Ring of Earth. Next stop, the ruined town of Excalabria, but first to navigate a series of three dungeons connected in a maze-like path... the real reason Tsarkon hasn't conquered this side of the land.
Ah, home sweet home
Excalabria was decimated 18 years ago and remains that way. One lone survivor by the name of Knute told me he was my fathers most trusted adviser (I thought that was Blade). He examined the rings, and found the Ring of Earth I had just received was a fake. After three crystals that bastard still gave me a fake ring. Doesn't he know the fate of the world is at stake?
You mean you just realized that now
Seems there were now three rings I'd have to find in the midst of enemy territory before I faced Tsarkon. Maps were no longer in the hands of townspeople, so I wondered the countryside in near blindness--sometimes finding an old man in the woods that would provide one. I discovered the purpose of the Secret Key, a cave south of Excalabria. Inside was a Death Sword, but I decided to not equip it in case it was cursed. Sounded cursed anyway.
Also found this sweet bug, a treasure in front of a door can't be collected
Going the correct way to the east led to the town of Hastings. I heard rumors of Cartahena's spies, but my character was too dense to give a second thought to that while eating dinner prepared by a random stranger. While suffering from the effects of poison I managed to learn that I should now visit the shopkeeper in Malaga, dig up some old buried treasure in Excalabria and Swaffham, and purchase a walk-on pass to tour the lovely Cartahena.
Would they have poisoned you too and left an antidote in a nearby cave?
Wrapping up those side quests I received the Sword of Vermilion (nothing really special about it, not even red), Titania's Mirror (reveals the map; doesn't work in dungeons), and Rafael's Stick (which I had no clue that it cured curses). I also picked up the pass I needed to enter Cartahena. It was sold by an old man back in Barrow.
Now that's a hidden road in the forest
The only antidote for the poison was waiting in a cave further east of Hastings. The Digot Plant when consumed cured me. Cartahena lies to the south of Hastings, and with my newly acquired pass I was admitted to a front row seat to watch the end of the world. Just my luck the show was cancelled as Tsarkon decided now was a good time to take a vacation to the scenic cave of Thule.
Good thing too, I haven't found all the rings of good, for whatever good they do
With a quick boss battle, facing off against a reincarnation of the first boss, I was off to seek Tsarkon in Thule Cave. Luckily there was a lone survivor of the residents of Cartahena (all men were drafted or killed, and all women turned to stone), who happened to have the only key... he tells me this only after I kill the minister in the castle, typical. Long story short: there were three more bosses to fight in Thule (rehashes of the first three bosses), which each gave me a key and one good ring. The keys unlocked doors to the final battle against Tsarkon.
Did I call it, or what?!
Just kidding, I stopped the dialogue short where he says he's my step-father because he married my mother after he slaughtered my real father. He then has the audacity to request the rings I've collected and join him. Has anyone even tried that dialogue option? I was tempted just to see what would happen, but then that would probably mean playing through the whole of Thule again.
Persistent bugger almost had me thinking I'd have to choose 'yes'
Really he should have just kept asking... I would have broke eventually. So what's this final boss? Well, he's pretty much a pushover. It's just a rehash of the fourth boss! Did they run out of ideas or something? Well, not completely a rehash since there's a second part to the fight.
Still not as scary as boss #5: flying demons of death
The key to this fight is patience. Just wait for the right moment to slide up slowly, strike, and inch away between bursts of blue flame. Not even half my HP were lost. It was all very anticlimactic, but I'm glad to the game didn't drag itself on. With the evil entity defeated, Tsarkon was free of whatever malevolent force held him. He explained both he and my father found the evil rings first in their search for the 16 rings, and their powers corrupted him faster than Erik (but Erik was turning evil too). Yeah, sure dude, your word against his dead body.
So he lied about that too, did he? Can't trust anything these evil incarnations say now-a-days
Back in Cartahena my mother was waiting. She exclaimed how proud Lord Erik would be if he could seem me now. Everyone in the castle praised me for my accomplishments and bade me to use the rings in front of the throne to unite the kingdom once again. I thought using the rings is what got us into this mess in the first place, but it was the only thing left to do really.
Wait! No, I just collected them all
The epilogue is a bit strange. There's a short dialogue between the prince and his mother about visiting Blade's grave, which I already visited when I started my quest. Then a summary of how whenever evil rises a hero will always step forward to drive it back. Peace rules by the might of the Sword of Vermilion it says, but what if I missed getting the sword? Lastly, evil will rise again as it can never be truly banished. Probably due to releasing the rings back into the world.
A final shot with either that princess from Malaga, or the prince's mom... in any case, that sword isn't red
With that, we move on. Final rating to come soon. A couple side notes on my playthrough I didn't fit in above. I found a Mirror of Atlas that completely reveals all maps, very handy if it weren't stuck in the final dungeon. Also, I found Old Nick Armor, which I completely forgot about by the time I got back to town. Turns out it was cursed anyway.
Secret code unlocked!
Elapsed Time: 2h55m (Final Time: 13h40m)

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Game 24: Sword of Vermilion (Genesis) - I See a Red Sword, and I Want it Painted Black

Maybe I've been a bit too harsh with Sword of Vermilion. I mean, it does have its good traits, most games do. Here's a quick list:
  • The mini-map available right on the exploration screen saves me some time.
  • The prince gains experience and gold for every enemy defeated, even if he ends up running or dying.
  • NPCs that move have a bit of programming that makes them stop short if they would cut off my path.
I have not idea what this does, but I have two now
With the good we must take the bad. Random combat has become so uninteresting and nonthreatening that it is never a joy to fight; at least with new spells it's over much quicker. I also ran into the first, but not the last, arbitrarily locked door on the path forward. We'll get to that and other nonsense soon... now where was I.
As you wish
I defeated the two-headed demon boss again, and retrieved all the rings; however, the townspeople were so injured they sent me to request a doctor from the next town. Doctor Basil was a slow riser, and couldn't shake the sleep fog until I rang the alarm in front of him. As luck would have it, the item shop had an alarm clock. I figured I'd need it, but not in the very same town. I returned to Stow and was rewarded with a new book of healing (not the awesome full heal for 2 MP though).
He's got 'doctor' right in his name
With that task out of the way, the story continues with Anselm in the same town waiting for his father's return. Apparently he went off to retrieve a Poison Shield for me. It also turns out that rescuing him isn't optional, and can't even be postponed as the path to the next town is through a locked dungeon gate. Once I found the father, Bearwulf, he told me I'd need the Poison Shield. I'm not sure why as it was quickly replaced in the next town.
Should have just waited in Keltwick
The next town of Malaga has been without a king for two years, and the royal advisers Thar and Luther seek to marry Princess Wynifir to become king. I shut down their efforts by retrieving a crown and the Ring of Water from a nearby cave. Thus, I became the next king of Malaga. This I wasn't expecting at all, but it doesn't change much of anything I still get no respect.
Especially from this guy!
There's one shop in Malaga that's a bit of a tourist trap. Literally a trap, you can't leave without losing all money and weapons (not just the one equipped, all weapons). All the items appear to be jokes, using them causes them to vanish, and they have no value to anyone else. The store owner shoos me away after this event with all due respect for a (future) king lacking. I've already decided what my first order of business will be once I return.
I reloaded to avoid the whole affair, but this gave me second thoughts
In the end, I decided this event wouldn't exist if it didn't have some merit. I spent all my money on new spell books and the rest on 9k suits of armor that I planned on selling. I probably should have tested this plan out first, but I wasn't aware the sell back price wasn't a constant 50%. That 9k armor sold back for a mere 200.  I suppose the developers foresaw this; well at least I got to try out some new spells I may not have otherwise.
Like this one that fires 8 powerful boomerangs that slightly home in on enemies
With nearly everyone happy in Malaga I set off to the next town, Barrow. The people of Barrow were facing no ills. I learned a bit more of Tsarkon; according to some he and Lord Erik (my father) were friends. They sought the rings of good and evil together. I'm not sure when the falling out happened, but if I learn I'm actually the son of Tsarkon I'm going to laugh. I collected some money from a cave near Barrow, and then didn't feel so bad about losing all my previous cash.
The most interesting boss I've faced
In the next town the people feared me. Apparently someone had been impersonating me, and went about terrorizing the town. He also took the ring from the king. By the time I caught up with the disguise artist he had sent the ring off to Tsarkon. We then had a duel where he turned into a necromancer, summoning skeletons and firing dark bolts of energy. Not difficult, but interesting.
Surprisingly there was no boss to fight at this event
In the next town I rescued all the men from a cave where they were enslaved (or just hanging out, I'm not sure). With them back in town I was able to speak to everyone and get new information. As is often the case with this game, dialogue changes for most NPCs after a quest (or step in a quest) is completed. An old woman was mulling over the fact everyone had a man return to them except her. She handed me a sketch of herself and asked me to find someone nice. I remembered an old man from back in Malaga that mentioned the same thing. After some exchange of pictures, I received a dragon shield for my trouble.
What soldiers? I didn't see any soldiers
As is always the case, after completing the quest for this town I received map to the next. There a king had the Ring of Earth, but he won't part with it so easily. He insisted I retrieve an expensive white crystal from the Ivory Cave. It was guarded by a demon. There is also talk of the ruined Excalabria nearby, but I wasn't able to locate it. It's probably through one of these caves nearby, but they all have locked gates.
Yeah... these guys are hard
So, we finally get to the real challenge of the game. An absolutely unfair fight where the boss flies around, and then drops on top of me doing constant damage. This is great! So much fun! Well, this boss wasn't all that hard. I got use to his pattern on the next attempt, but every death cut my money in half. At least I'm near the end of the game, and I don't expect to need much more of it.
Considered?! Do you know what I went through?
The king changed his mind about the whole exchange, and decided to just take the white crystal. He'll totally do it for a red crystal though. So, he sends me off with another key to retrieve another crystal, and fight another demon. I went into the fight thinking it'd have the same pattern. This wasn't the case. The demon had a low swooping charge attack that does constant damage. I have a feeling getting through this part is going to require memorizing these new patterns and anticipating them. The main reason for that is my character moves like an inch worm while the boss has the speed of a cat.
Fear my toenails!
I called it a night after two failed attempts. I fear I may have to grind some levels. I'll go back to that cave where the secret key was found and looking for a hidden door in a wall. It's better than just wondering back and forth, but I don't expect anything big. Every other piece of equipment I've found or received as a reward was outclassed by whatever was in the next store. I've already bought the best armor in this last town of Swafham. We'll see what I find, and hopefully I'll gain a couple levels that'll keep me safe from deadly feet.

Elapsed Time: 5h16m (Total Time: 10h45m)

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Game 24: Sword of Vermilion (Genesis) - Dipping into the Red

Game 24

Title: Sword of Vermilion
Released: Jan 1991 (Dec 1989 JP)
Platform: Genesis
Developer: Sega
Publisher: Sega
Genre: RPG
Exploration - First-person
Combat - Real-time action
Series - Standalone (Might as well be Hydlide)

Sword of Vermilion is an oddity. It seems to be remembered fondly for stretching the genre beyond the standard menu based combat, but it doesn't quite go as far as a full action-RPG. It seems either nostalgia or an appeal to the past are the only way to venerate this game. I just don't get it; it's boring and limited. I generally had more fun with Super Hydlide.
A still-screen intro goes over the back story we'll hear recapped again by Blade
The game gives control over the lost prince of Excalabria. As he turns 18 his surrogate father, Blade, is lying on his deathbed. Blade reveals to the prince that as an infant he was spirited away from King Erik V as his castle fell to the siege of King Tsarkon of Cartahena. Old enough now to claim his birthright, the prince sets out to claim the 8 rings of good and the throne of Excalabria.
Blade and prince for hide 'n' seek champs!
Now I don't normally dig too deep into the story. Most stories are easily glossed over during this era and the game is still enjoyable; however, I'm having a hard time believing there's a need to find these 8 rings. My major problem is they don't do anything. I mean, what's their purpose if they don't grant some kind of magical power or stat adjustment? Tsarkon himself has 8 rings of evil, which I suppose are offset when in the presence of the good rings, but again, they don't do anything.
The prince, now known as Warren, returned from an unspecified visit to the dangerous wilderness completely devoid of equipment. It's a wonder he managed to survive. Everyone in town comments on how Blade is close to death, and how I should return to his side.
Why would you hide the ring in a cave where any adventurer could find it?
Blade clearly lays out my quest; first for the rings, and then to reclaim the land of Excalabria. With his last breath he bestowed on me his life savings. I guess I don't have time to wait for the house to get out of escrow. Our private conversation became village gossip as everyone now knows of my quest. One helpful townie hands me a map of the area, an event that will repeat very often.
Something about an economy based on adventurers killing monsters doesn't seem sustainable to me
The cornerstone feature of this game is how it mixes different viewpoints. What starts as top-down town exploration becomes a first-person view for outdoor and dungeons. It's an interesting curio to switch things up a bit, but I'm not sure how much it really adds to the experience. I found the transitions a bit disorienting. As an example, enemies appear randomly before changing the view to a top-down active combat screen that begins immediately.
One step outside and already a random encounter speaks volumes for the encounter rate
Combat is a fast paced high action sequence of either swinging a two inch sword or using one previously equipped spell. The hitbox for the sword is so small that to get close enough to hit an enemy usually results in being hit, should I miss. Luckily most (not all) enemies will turn and run after receiving a blow, but this means I have to then chase them down in order to kill them. Exiting either side of the screen will run from battle.
Battles often start with the prince surrounded and little time to react
Since battles are so limiting without the use of items or the ability to switch spells, it's no surprise the rest of the game interface fails to innovate past its peers. A menu command to initiate conversations; separate equipment sub-menus for weapons, armors, shields, and magic; and a two step process for collecting treasure chests should all be archaic by this point.
Wouldn't 'take' have sufficed?
Oh, that's why it doesn't work...
The constant mini-map is very welcomed, and I hope more games include it in the future (I know they don't, but I can dream). At least it lets me save on paper and mapping time. There are maps for the surrounding area, and one per level of each dungeon. Without a map you only get a small circle of visibility on the map. Dungeons require to be lit up by either an item, candles or lanterns, or later spells (I haven't run into these yet, but they're in the manual).
I have no idea what these stats do, but I don't have any control over them anyway
After preparing for my journey (bought a sword and shield), I found battles quickly drained my HP. Acclimating myself to the battle screen I learned to dodge enemies and live long enough to reach level 2. Obtaining a level up restores HP and MP to max, a fact I take advantage of while exploring the early dungeons. I retrieved the Ring of Wisdom. It seems the rings are merely present to let me know when to move on to the next area, as there's no direct benefit I can see to having them.
How long ago did Blade stick you here?
Back in town a different person handed me a map to the next area. Towns offer an inn to rest, a church for saving the game and curing ailments (poison and curses), an item shop for herbs and other supplies, an equipment shop for weapons and armor, a tavern and other houses where additional hints are gathered, and a fortuneteller. The fortuneteller gives a more direct hint for the next step.
There's no way to tell him it's the correct way (or not, *evil grin*)
In Parma (no relation to Phantasy Star), the king is acting strangely. His appetite has increased, and he's forcing everyone to worship Gnostan (someone mentions this is synonymous with evil). Still, no one questioned these changes beyond the small amount of time they spend pointing out the strangeness. This town is first time the magic shop is available. I couldn't afford any magic, or even any equipment when I first arrived. If only someone could point me to somewhere I could grind for money and extra levels.
Well that's handy
Grinding has been thankfully light. This beginning area is the only time I've needed to wander back and forth to build up resources. Though it's only thanks to the obscene encounter rate that I'm able to stay ahead of the curve without looking for extra fights. I often find myself dreading the next battle, and during whole dungeon crawls I didn't even bother fighting, just ran. The king requested I retrieve the Treasure of Troy from the Cave of Troy to prove my worth, a task he never expected me to finish.
I guess? It really wasn't explained, but I have eight fingers (not counting thumbs) so I need eight rings
I decided to grind a bit more until I was able to afford the magic books. Adventuring too far to the east was risky during this time. The slimes and kobolds from earlier were replaced by firerings, bats, and sorcerers. The sorcerers have powerful projectiles that quickly depleted my HP reserves, and they're the main reason I waited to obtain the healing magic before venturing on.
The first fire spell orbits my character instead of shooting in a straight line, very hard to aim
The Cave of Troy wasn't too bad with the ability to heal between battles (only damage spells can be equipped for battle), but some floating eyeballs put me off from fighting all battles. They moved quicker than my character, and did heavy damage. Two levels deep, I found the treasure I sought. Back in town the king was surprised and offered me a place to live peacefully in town.
Well, demanded is more like it
As is the case with most console RPGs of this era, this one offered the false choice that continuously repeats. In fact, this feature is repeated many times over the course of the game. I tried to leave town, but I was blocked by the guards. Everyone was surprised I was kept against my will and suggested I misunderstood what the king said. I appealed to the king once more, and he revealed his true nature.
Genesis does what Nintendon't!
Another new view just when I was getting used to the standard combat screen. Instead of a more complicated strategic layout for bosses it turns into a side-view with a reduced move-set and maneuverability. The only options are left, right, down for duck, and the C button to swing the sword (which has grown to three inches). No magic though. Really, no magic? This feature was totally ripped off from Super Hydlide. The only option is to charge in and attack. Luckily the dragon doesn't do much and fell quickly.
There's no chance to dodge attacks, so I tanked most hits
With the false king dead, I was able to enter a restricted area and discovered the true king. He offered up the Ring of Sky, and a place in his town guard. I accepted the first and turned down the position. I gained another map to the east, which allowed me to reach the next town. During my travels I stumbled upon a Dark Sword, which I should have known was cursed, but didn't think of it at the time. Removing the curse caused my strength to permanently drop by half. I hope I don't get cursed very often. There's no way to know if an item is cursed before equipping it.
I gained 1 point of strength over level 1!
I probably should have bought a better sword (I only had the first one), but I decided to wait until the next town. Little did I know not all shops are available in every town. The next town was cursed, and the monster that cursed them lived to the north. Defeating the monster returned the townspeople's youth, and gained me another map. It was another boss fight, but this one was even easier than the last. The enemy would shuffle back and forth, then charge up a lightning attack.
Don't ask me where it comes from
This area introduced scorpions, which poison upon contact. Poison is more an annoyance than a serious concern. It only does a single point of damage for each step when in first-person view. Balms to cure poison were at Palma, but not available in Watling. With no ring here, I do wonder how necessary this trip was. At least I got another map.
Add in the fact I can only have 8 items, and I really don't have time for this
Deprived of anything to purchase since Parma, I was able to buy up all the best equipment and a new spell in Deepdale. The king here likes to hide among his people to learn of their lives, and after scouring the town and castle twice over I learned the only thing that will bring him out of hiding are truffles. A quick trip to the store, and... oh, they're out. I guess it's a quick trip to the nearest monster infested cave. At least with my new equipment the battles became pathetically easy.
Because the king is the only one that likes truffles?
I traded the truffles for the Ring of Wind, which I'm supposed to put to better use. If only I knew what use. New monsters were again introduced: snakemen look more like women, and mold are the only enemies that don't run. On my way to Stow, which I was warned is far to the east, I found a nice cave to explore. I decided to dive in since I would probably need to anyway at some point. Inside were living giant mushrooms, which move very slowly, but poison on contact. Still, they were quite rewarding. On the bottom level I found a little girl; nothing out of the ordinary here.
Yeah, nothing suspicious about this at all
The Book of Sanguios only costs 2 MP and is a full heal, as opposed to the Sanguia spell that costs 6 MP and heals only 60 HP. I figured there was a catch, but I was thinking limited use or eventually it'd blow up in my face. Instead I learned it was stolen. I learned that as I was talking to king it was stolen from. Somehow he saw into my inventory... maybe while I was opening my bag to store the Ring of Fire he was about to give me. To prove my innocence the king asked me to produce the real thief, but confiscated the three rings I'd already collected.
Those totally won't get stolen from you like your spell book, right?
I went back to confront the little girl who was probably not a little girl at all. My suspicion was confirmed when she turned into two-headed fire hurling demon. This fight took slightly more thought than the past two due to the low-flying fireball. There's no jumping or blocking available, instead it's necessary to time attacks to disperse the projectiles.
Come on! Where's my jumping leap through the middle and land with a roll button?
After beating down this demon, she reappeared as a little girl and claimed to have seen the error of her ways. "I will go to Stow to show them how much I regret my past mistakes." Good to hear little girl, you go on ahead. I'm really not sure how she beat me when I used the Gnome stone to teleport out of the dungeon and the Griffin Wing to return to my last save point.
Oh, I guess she didn't really regret what she did
Oh, and wouldn't you know it, the demon stole the rings held by the king. With any luck I'll be able to retrieve them in the next cave where she's hiding out. Maybe she took that super powerful healing magic book as well. I now have a map to Asti's Cave, and ready to head back in. No matter how dull this game is, it's still an RPG. Shall I jinx myself by hoping to finish up this week? Let's do it.

Elapsed Time: 5h29m (Total Time: 5h29m)