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)


  1. I definitely remember beating the game without the titular sword. I bought it used, and the other save file had the sword. I knew it existed, but I didn't know how to get it.

    I don't remember it mattering.

    1. So many strange design decisions in this game. I really wish there were post mortems available for these older games. Unlike Chet, I have 0 chance any of the original developers will stop by to comment.

  2. I was curious what the code shown at the end did, so I checked GameFAQs... it's a sound/input/C.R.T. test menu (yay).

    The GameFAQs cheats section also describes how to exploit in-game bugs to get infinite money, super strength and invincibility. Congratulations on beating Sword of Vermilion without resorting to cheezy chicanery!

    1. Yeah, I read that too while looking up information after I finished. I wondered if underflow was taken into account when my strength first lowered, I didn't bother to find out. I try to avoid most glitches while playing (can't avoid them all though).

      The input test seems handy, and really every game (or even built into the console) should have an option to test controllers.

    2. A sound test seems pretty worthwhile, SoV has a couple of *really good* tunes, like the music in the final town.

    3. I don't think I've ever just sat and listened to game music, but I can't really pick up on good from mediocre tracks most of the time.

  3. I was gong to mention Raphael's stick removes cursed items. But since you had better gear anyway it didn't really seem worth it. But I guess its handy to equip and Unequip items to flip you stats below zero and back to max integer values. Killing bosses in one hit. No death etc. you know I think this game was meant to be more eye candy than substance back in the day. Although there are many games without a,to of substance from this time period. But that means now it kind of reveals itself for what it is, a rather shallow action RPG experience. And the action is just mediocre. But I still love the music in this game. It has a great stereo effect if you listen to it with headphones. I used to love the title screen with the thunder as well although it may sound kind of cheesy today.

    1. It's funny because that seems to be the main purpose for that item when there are only two items that can potentially curse you. I can see this game considered good in a world where there's nothing better. It's just kind of meh at this point. I don't see myself ever wanting to come back to it anyway.

  4. Can someone please help me. I played the game when I was a kid and I put the controller down when the game was still on. Out of nowhere the game starts speaking to me. Has anyone ever experienced this and if not could you try doing it and tell me if it happened

  5. I accidently sold the secret key! Any way to get it back?

    1. It's not necessary to complete the game, so I wouldn't worry about it. You could try to collect it again. I don't remember which cave it was in though.