Friday, November 28, 2014

Game 30: Dragon Warrior III (NES) - Legacy of Erdrick (Finished)

Good job Victar, you've been immortalize in the blog
Most RPGs are well known for final bosses with multiple, but the one that really set off that trend was Dragon Warrior (Chaos in Final Fantasy only had a single form). I suspected Baramos would have a second form like all the others. So, failing to tackle him again on my next attempt gave me very little hope for completely defeating him. I learned I could use stopspell to prevent him from casting; however, that meant he would only breath fire (very powerful) or attack physically (also very powerful).
Surely not with my current strategy
After a couple more attempts where I continued to try stopspell and met with extreme aggression, I went back through the various locations I sped through. The cave near Baharata contained a couple treasures, and I went back to Navel of the Earth. The only notable treasure from both was the Armor of Terrafirma. With nothing more to try, I went back to Baramos and tried everything.
I tried stopspell again, but it failed. I focused on healing and surviving rather than waste another round. I noted that his spells weren't as bad as his breath attack, and his Limbo and Chaos spells failed each time. I lucked through the fight and defeated Baramos. The final form never came. No more enemies either.
Is that like the day breaking?
So I stood there in Baramos' chamber, a bit dumbfounded that I may had just beaten the game. I made my way out of the castle and found my phoenix had left. I had to use a return spell to reach Aliahan. I suppose it's possible to waste everyone's magic and be stuck here, or by not having a wizard with return while the hero was glitched. Back in Aliahan the townspeople had already heard of my deeds, and celebrated the defeat of Baramos.
Well, that's it, game over, I guess we can all go home now
I'm sure you can judge by the length of this post that it wasn't really the end. The ground began to shake as the celebration started to get into full swing. A voice rose out of a darkness that now covered the land. Zoma, the master archfiend, announced that he would envelope the world in darkness himself. The king of Aliahan despaired, peace within his grasp and then yanked away, much like the end of the game. The last place to check was the pit of Giaga. There only a single guardian remained. The pit had ripped wide open; the protective barrier surrounding it crumbled. I dropped down the pit expecting a quick battle... I'm not sure why I keep expecting anything anymore.
Welcome to Dragon Warrior
Turns out, instead of a final form for the boss, there's a final form for the game. The party was transported to a world of darkness below the over world. The area I dropped in on was located on an island, and the only other person there directed me towards Tantegel to the east. I commandeered the only ship on the island and made my way to castle Tantegel. The castle was in the town of Brecconaly. I made my way through town speaking to everyone. I came to one conclusion: this was going to take a while.
So, I really have to play the whole Dragon Warrior game?
Most people spoke of the ills brought upon the land by Zoma and the archfiends. I surprisingly came across Kandar, the thief who continuously ran off whenever I defeated him. He told me that the Stones of Sunlight were in castle Tantegel, and I knew exactly where to look thanks to my knowledge of the first game. Inside the castle I learned that all the weapons and armor were stolen and hidden by Zoma. A fairy flute was supposed to be somewhere in Kol, a town to the east only accessible by boat. The last useful piece of advice was to collect the Sword of Kings, the Armor of Radiance, and the Shield of Heroes.
I guess prior knowledge hindered me here, as I completely forgot that the stones were still supposed to be in the castle
Since the next clue was to travel to Kol by boat I jumped into the ship and met the worst random battle I could possibly have encountered. Kragacles, three at once, each capable of attacking three times. I was nearly wiped out, and scared off from trying the seas again. So I made my way south to Hauksness, and was surprised to find it thriving.
It's interesting to see the original sprites in this game
Hauksness will eventually meet with a tragic end, but that desolate town in the first Dragon Warrior was bustling with activity. A merchant too busy worrying about naming his baby to sell me anything is one example. Some warrior mentioned looking for Oricon, rumored to be in town. I found it based on a clue of something glittering in a pasture, but trying to give it to the warrior resulted in nothing happening. Someone mentioned the town of Cantlin to the east, and yet another person confirmed the fairy flute was in Kol... specifically four paces south of the bath house.
I didn't know I was wondering about a harp, but now that you mention it...
I made my way back north and noted two caves. I also remembered a point of interest to the northwest, and found the home of the bard Garin. His silver harp was the stuff of legends, and I found it hiding in his basement. I'm not really sure it has a use though. When I played it in the over world a random encounter would appear, which would make grinding quicker although I haven't really had need to sit and gain levels. I think in the first game it was needed to open a passage, but here it's unnecessary.
I decided Cantlin could wait, and made my way to Kol
On the way to Kol I passed by a tower, which I skipped in favor of exploring the town. Someone in Kol said the Sword of Kings was shattered into pieces. Someone else said the sword was made of oricon. I supposed that meant I needed to find pieces of the sword and have them reforged with the oricon I retrieved from Hauksness. I found the baths and thus discovered the fairy flute, which was described as having a certain power over stone. Rubiss, the creator of this world, was said to be sealed in the nearby tower. Lastly, someone mentioned that the sphere of light would weaken the archfiend.
I failed to pick up on this hint because in my eyes, the oricon wasn't useless, but I knew I needed him to restore the Sword of Kings somehow
I explored to the south for the tunnel that connected the two halves of the continent, but the tunnel hadn't been completed yet. So, I went off to the tower to release Rubiss. Getting up the tower took some time as the monsters once again stepped up their game. The tower had some tiles called revolving floors, that shifted the directional control I had over the party. I found the Armor of Radiance at the top, but no sealed god or goddess. I had to find a way to drop to the north side of this place since I always entered from the south.
Anyone keeping track? Did Rubiss repay his debt, or is this going to happen in the fourth game? I'm afraid to look up spoilers
I had Victar equip the Sacred Amulet, but I'm not sure what it did. I once again tried to get through the tunnel, and then face-palmed myself as I realized I had a ship in this game. I took the ship around and explored the town of Rimuldar. There I found a something surprising: a ring of life. Actually it wasn't the ring itself that was surprising, it was the woman who said it was given to her by Ortega. He was last seen on a cliff staring across the ocean at the archfiend's castle.
It seems Ortega has been tending to a lot of things while away from his wife and child
Someone in a jail cell told me of a secret passage behind the archfiend's throne, which would help when I actually get there. The shops offered a couple new weapons, but both were obscenely outside my price range. The magic key shop from the first game requested to see a magic key so he could copy it. I brought it to him, but he only thanked me and said he'd be rich by selling copies of it. A bit dubious, but what could I do about it. There was also a woman waiting for a man at the edge of town. Unfortunately she was waiting at the wrong edge. When I found the corresponding man, he mentioned the Sage's Stone healed the party with an unlimited number of uses.
This is pretty much the only useful information from Cantlin
During this era, the land between Rimuldar and Cantlin was connected. The fortress town really didn't live up to its name, as the mountains were currently hills. I did meet Garin there, who wouldn't take his harp, and I also met the man who would build the stone golem. An old man also directed me to speak to someone at a shrine. I'm sure I would have done so anyway without such a vague hint. The shrine to the south, located in the same location as the token in Dragon Warrior, housed a fairy of Rubiss who handed me the staff of rain. Maybe the amulet was required here to identify me as someone blessed by Rubiss.
I guess I need to find those stones of sunlight somewhere else
I went to the last place where I remembered something else from the first game. As in the first, I needed the stones of sunlight and staff of rain to create the rainbow drop. I still wasn't sure where the stones were. I figured they were in one of the two caves. Both turned up empty. One did have the Shield of Heroes, but the other only had some seeds to increase stats and a cursed armor. The cave with the shield had a magic dampening effect where spells failed. This might have been a good place to grind, but I was getting by fine without doing that.
Seems I missed this hidden area in the kitchen the first time
Turns out, the Stones of Sunlight were actually in Tantegel castle. I took it back to the shrine and combined it with the staff of rain to form the Rainbow Drop. By this time I'd gained enough gold to afford the Revealing Swimsuit. It seemed to best fit on Darkwing and her history as a Goof-off. I then used the Rainbow Drop to form the bridge to the archfiend's castle. I still feel like the bridge itself should be rainbow colored.
The winky animation totally makes this worth it
Finally at the final assault on the final castle against the final boss. Of course, it took more than a few times to finally get through to the end. There was an endless staircase, a trapped hallway, and a secret passage to find on just the first floor. The trapped hallway closed itself off as I reach the end. Wandering back and forth awoke the granite titan guardians. Defeating three sets opened the passage once again.
The second floor had more revolving floors, but they weren't any more difficult to navigate
The third floor was a small maze with some powerful enemies. It was during this time that someone in chat suggested I go back for the Meteorite Armband for Dryz, who was lacking in agility. Someone else spoiled that it was in a chest and not on some random floor tile. That made searching a lot quicker, and I found a hidden passage off to the left side of the main square back in Isis. Equipping it on Dryz definitely helped as he no longer went dead last.
I told this skeleton I took his treasure and wasn't going to give it back; he was okay with that
Back at the archfiend's castle a hero was fighting a monster. As I approached I recognized the fighter as Ortega. He was battling the king hydra, but the fight seemed scripted. Ortega met his end in front of his son. The party approached the badly wounded body of Ortega as he uttered his last words. He wanted me to return to Aliahan and tell Victar how he met his end. It seemed the party didn't even have time to introduce themselves, or use the leaf of the world tree.
I should join in... nah, we'll just sit this one out
Hey Victar... "Aaah!"
This all happened on the penultimate floor. I ascended one more set of stairs and found Zoma who taunted the party. I approached him, but was first met with the same monster that had slain Ortega. I easily dispatched it, but I took pause and retraced my steps. Good thing I did because I found a treasure room I passed by while ignoring the doors on the previous floor. Inside one of the chests was the Sage's Stone. Activate easy mode! Seriously, the stone is a full party healmore with unlimited uses. Not even my sages had such a spell. Victar did learn a full party healall, but that cost half his MP.
Approaching Zoma's gauntlet is less intimidating with unlimited full party healmores
Zoma was nothing but a most gracious host. He welcomed Victar and the party to first row seats as he was about to bring ultimate destruction to the world. I was then introduced to his comrades. First the King Hydra, an easy enemy that couldn't withstand the sage's stone's healing prowess. Baramos Bomus was the next to fall at my hands. He wasn't any more difficult than Baramos, and with my increased levels, a bit of a pushover. But, Baramos kept on kicking and reared up again as Baramos Gonus. Seriously, Gonus?
Bikill (increases attack) + Sap to drain Baramos' defense caused this much damage without a crit... I didn't even have the Sword of Kings
Even without the Sword of Kings I was able to put Zoma down on my first attempt. I knew to use the Sphere of Light first turn, but Zoma got in a couple cheap shots at double "normal" damage. The sphere caused a colorful light show, and then removed Zoma's robe of darkness, turning him blue. His damage was reduced by half (back to normal). Using the Sage's Stone along with the wizard rings I'd collected, I was able to keep afloat most turns. Celdia unfortunately died once, but one leaf and she was back. Zoma's most annoying power was to remove all of the party's buffs, including the sage's dragon form.
I only realized what this move was doing far into the battle because the message speed was too high to read it all
Although Zoma was defeated, he portended the arrival of an even greater archfiend... one that would arrive far after Victar's death. Like all good evil lairs, the castle began to collapse around the party. I tried to get them out, but they fell into the great crevice from which Zoma entered this world. Strangely they were ejected out, and I walked them out of the cave north of Tantegel. As I exited the cave, the sun shone for the first time in the land of Alefgard. Back at Tantegel, I was welcomed as a hero for the second time.
Why would the sun appearing sound like something is closing?
The king recognized Victar as a true hero and inducted him into the order of Erdrick. That's right... I was playing as the Erdrick this whole time. I hope it doesn't upset things that I didn't have the correct Sword of Erdrick by the end. After a final fanfare, and some scenes of the townspeople of Brecconaly wishing Victar farewell, the credits rolled while showing off the locations I'd visited.
Is the next game going to be about the birth of Ortega?
Elapsed Time: 9h10m (Final Time: 40h57m)

Overall a very fun game. It's not only the tie-in to the first game that tickled my nostalgia, but something about the game didn't give me the urge to groan even when the second storyline reared its head. Hopefully I can recap it well in this short review.
Thanks for the localization guys!
Combatant - There's never a time to rest easy fighting monsters, at least not until retrieving the Sage's Stone. Combat offers a good mix of options with spells and items that add a bit of strategy over trading blows. Enemies included a good mix that are iconic to the Dragon Warrior series and some new fare. Experience and gold were in good supply while not being excessive; however, more item drops would have been nice.
Rating: 8
Combat has gotten better and better throughout all three games; however, I'm still not used to combat spells missing, especially when enemy spells never seem to
Admirer - Character customization in a Dragon Warrior game? Yep, this is a first. Although limited to class changes, the party make-up and difficulty has a wide range. While replay value is a bit low, using the same party and trying out all classes during one session is definitely an option. Overall a welcomed experiment, but it seems it wasn't one they continued.
Rating: 6
I'm not sure another Dragon Warrior game will do as much with party customization as this one, but I'm eager to find out
Puzzler - The overall goal was always sitting out there in plain view, whether it's fighting one archfiend or the other. The side quests available didn't come until late game, but they didn't feel like side quests, so I doubt anyone missed completing them like I did. All of the special equipment was probably optional, and maybe even the sacred amulet as well. Hints and riddles played a role in finding the orbs, but there's really only one way to go about collecting each one.
Rating: 5
I'm still waiting for a nice high mark in puzzles
Instigator - So far, Dragon Warrior games have had very similar stories. Fight against a big evil threatening the whole world while collecting items (isn't that every RPG). Finding the way to each goal takes some investigation and exploration, but there were enough clues from NPCs to avoid a leap in logic. We're still early in the life of storytelling and immersion though, so player choices and descriptions were lacking. There were a couple side stories I couldn't quite resolve, which added some depth. (Is there a way to reunite Carlos and Sabrina?)
Rating: 4
I'm still waiting for a game that feelings like it's set in a world of stories
Collector - For the first time in a game with limited inventory I was finally able to store my items. The central storage in the first town was a nice addition for any would-be collector. All we need now is a trophy room to display them. There were a large number of items to find or purchase, but finding or buying them all would take a long time. Judging completeness was again not something considered, and the strength of weapons and armor are determined by equipping them (although hidden attributes exist).
Rating: 5
Is that the sphere of light?
Explorer - I'm always enthralled by Dragon Warrior music. Monster graphics were improved; however, the tile-sets and townspeople are only touched up in small ways. Getting out into the world to explore takes some time, but when it opens from the beginning island, to the large continent, to the entire world the possibilities seem endless. Most locations were necessary for the story, and everything fit into the theme. Times will greatly vary depending on how lost one gets while playing. I wish I could have explored Everhateville more thoroughly during it's evolution.
Rating: 6
Armor Project? Bird Studio? Those companies have been around this long?
Final Rating: 34 [57%]

I'm really surprised by this score, but I double checked. If I were really harsh, it'd probably only be a couple points less. Overall this game was a lot of fun. In most games of this length I've just been waiting for them to end, but I enjoyed this one all the way to the last screen. I can't wait to see what they do with Dragon Warrior IV.

In any case, it's on to the next game! I've actually finished Sword of Hope, and have fallen quite behind on posts. In an effort to catch up, I'll probably only spend a single post on it (that's about all it deserves). I'm going to do my best to get caught up this weekend though, which also means cutting Neutopia II from the list. For those that like catching the live playthroughs, I'll be starting Phantasy Star III on Monday. Happy Thanksgiving weekend to all (even if you don't celebrate it).

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Game 30: Dragon Warrior III (NES) - What's With The Pit?

I have a feeling this wasn't a fair trade...
Just a feeling though
Everything for the pursuit of the quest. Baramos must fall; even if it means trading priceless artifacts capable of changing one's appearance for an old sailor's thigh bone. The hermit wizard was eager to throw me a bone for the staff. A little too eager. Still, I couldn't pass up on the offer unless I wanted to wander the torus looking for a ghost ship. Now that I know where it frequents though, maybe I could keep the staff next time.
My body lies over the ocean... thatta way!
The ghost ship, located south of Romaly, was operating with a skeleton crew and a couple stowaways. One of them was a monster awaiting my arrival, and the other a treasure hunter looking for a fabled horde. Errol was among the crew even though he wasn't a criminal like the others. He, like Olivia, longed for his beloved. From the bunks I sifted out the Locket of Love, and left poor Errol to his fate. Back at Olivia's promontory I had some trouble finding the exact spot to use the locket. I think I used it in every tile between the one I was pulled from to the one I was pulled towards. This last tile was the one I needed.
Strange, you don't look like a Simon
With the way clear, I easily found the Sword of Gaia in the shrine's jail. Poor Simon was long deceased, which is odd since it seemed his son was searching for him recently. Sword in hand, I made a short trip back to the pirate's hideout since I'd seen the clue for an orb within the screenshots I was putting together for the last post. Below the hideout was a jail where a man was kept. He only revealed the pirates returned at night. Off to the right side though was a boulder, which I easily pushed around. Searching under it revealed stairs to a hidden room with the red orb.
That boulder is just asking to get pushed around being out here all by itself
Half the orbs! Half! At this point I had no leads on any others, and my only clue was the path made by the Sword of Gaia when I threw it into the volcano. It triggered a violent reaction. Lava flowed out of the mouth, and down the river. Once solidified, the lava flow cooled, and created a land bridge to the area below Isis. There was a cave ripe for exploration.
Really, it was quite a spectacle with the ground shaking, lava flying everywhere, and the screen flashing
The next area held a bunch of monsters that really stepped up the difficulty. They ate quite heavily into my resources, restricting my range to the point that I questioned if I was early to the area. However, I didn't have any other clues to fallback on. Nevertheless, I searched every town with the echoing flute and came up empty. Inside the cave were even more powerful monsters capable of multiple attacks, casting away party members into limbo or instant death, and using area effect spells that quickly drained my HP. I came away from my first exploration with a new piece of armor and a couple levels, but little hope of making it through.
I even returned to these treasures in the pyramid I left behind--they are the only chests in the game that glow yellow
With some effort, and a whole lot of luck, I managed to select the correct path to get through the cave on my second attempt. I picked up the Thunder Sword along the way, but foolishly failed to equip it until Baramos, which I'll get to by the end of this post. On the other side of the cave I could see his castle, but no way to reach it. Instead there lay a shrine nearby. Inside was a solitary figure who bestowed unto me the silver orb. Glad I searched this way, but now I was really out of clues.
So close, yet so far
Once again, I went back to every location, not just every town. Once again, I played my heart out of that flute. And, once again, I didn't hear its sweet echoing tune. However, I did manage to find another orb, this time by mere chance. I had entered the town where Everhate was staying during my last search and failed to notice the changes that occurred (too focused on the flute's response). This latest round of searching I noticed an NPC in the town proclaiming it Everhateville. Still no echo, but I was intrigued. During my search of the perimeter I accidentally stepped out of town. When I stepped back in, the woman that had greeted me was replaced with a soldier that proclaimed that it wasn't just Everhate's town anymore.
What do you mean 'finally'? I was here just two seconds ago and everyone was praising him
I'm not sure if the town was a fixed timer, but the evolutionary changes only happened once the town was visited, or if it changed automatically each visit regardless of the time passed. In any case, the town reached the end of its cycle, and now Everhate was in jail. He appreciated the situation for what it was, and accepted it even though I'm completely in the dark about what happened. In any case, he told me of something he'd hidden behind his thrown. Guess what it was... the yellow orb. Somehow, between the time I entered previously--while Everhate ruled and I'd used the flute--and the time I exited and re-entered, a mysterious man came to town and gave the orb to him.
Seriously! What did you do?
I placed this along with the other orbs on the altar in Liamland, and stared into the flames blankly. I'd exhausted every location I could reach and played the flute. Finally, I started my way back through the towns, and had planned to speak to everyone. I thought maybe I'd missed a vital yet subtle clue. It didn't take long before I stumbled back to Lancel (it's a short boat trip from Liamland, in fact it was my first stop). There I met man who said something a little odd. Previously I think I'd brushed his comment off as an odd reference to the shrine with the final key, but now that didn't make a lot of sense based on the distance to that shrine.
You know, that shrine wasn't all that bi... wait, am I missing a shrine?
My first reaction was to race outside and start searching off the coast for a shrine. No luck. Next I started examining each tile for a hidden shrine on the island. Nothing turned up.  Finally, I tested all the exits from the village until, once again, I just happened to stumble upon the one path leading to the north side of town. There a shrine about three times larger than the town was sitting just out of sight. Only in a video game could a shrine of that size hide due to the fact the party always entered from the south. From the shrine I could access a path to the cave known as the Navel of the Earth. A path only the hero was allowed to enter.
There better be an orb in here or I'm going to tear this world apart
The monsters inside weren't too difficult for Victar alone by this point, and despite a few rude messages suggesting I turn back, it was easy going. I was definitely wary of falling prey to mimics though, so I skipped all the side treasure rooms until I came upon an area that seemed likely to hold the final orb. The very first chest I opened turned out to be the one containing the blue orb. The last orb was mine!
So long as I didn't accidentally throw it away
Luckily I had one slot in my inventory. It was filled up by a random fairy water drop I received from battle. I had forgotten enemies could even drop items; it's that rare to receive one. I easily tossed that away, and took the orb in its place. The manual suggested that if I don't discard an item the prize from the chest would be lost, but I wonder what happens to key items. I wasn't brave enough to find out. I made my way out without touching another chest.
Back at the shrine I found someone who confirmed I collected the orbs in the wrong order
The rest of the characters back at the shrine weren't much more help. One mentioned Eginbear and using the Invisibility Herb, and another hinted that I'd need Everhate's help. In any case, I had the last of the orbs and made my way back to Liamland to claim my prize. Placing the last orb on the final altar released the phoenix Ramia from her egg.
As the only typo I've seen in the game I'd be remiss if I didn't point it out, Dragon Warrior is a support of high times
The guardians (or watchers, not really sure what to call them) warned me that only one pure of heart could ride Ramia. Obviously that meant my party could. I flew the phoenix to the Dragon Queen's castle. It was the one surrounded by mountains north of Baharata. The queen was sadly ill. Before she passed, she presented the party with a sphere of light. At the time of her passing she also laid an egg as well. A new dragon will be born into the world.
I hope this dragon is as kind as its mother
The last place to explore was Baramos' castle, but I decided to try and land inside the area around the Navel of the Earth. It failed spectacularly.
Why? I've already been here, what's the purpose of preventing the whole party from entering?
Well, there was one more place... the Great Pit of Giaga was a pit right next to final castle. There were a couple guardians that warned me that no one who entered ever returned. I didn't find anything of use there at the time. That only left Baramos, and the final assault on his castle. The castle assault went easily, but the fight against Baramos was the toughest one yet. Much harder than Orochi.
Too soon? Pretty sure I've done everything else
I tried brute force. I tried using Ironize to drain his MP, but didn't even get close. I only tried twice before I gave up for the night. I did find a Demon Axe and an Unlucky Helmet during the second assault. Retro, my backup merchant identified the Demon Axe as not cursed, but didn't mention whether the helm was cursed or not. I guess that means it's cursed, but I couldn't find anyone to test it on. Join me next post for the thrilling conclusion.
I feel kind of bad being trounced by such a goofy looking enemy
Elapsed Time: 6h55m (Total Time: 31h47m)