Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Below the Cut: LandStalker (Genesis)

(Source: Wikipedia)
LandStalker - Rating(9 RPP)
1) 0 - Character Advancement: practice/experience based advancement, stat or level increases, multiple classes or characters, customize characters
2) 0 - Combat: character stats used for combat, additional combat options, turn based
3) 0 - Items and Equipment: store to buy and sell, equipment decisions, item decisions
4) 0 - Story: main story at the forefront; world full of hints and lore; descriptions for objects, people, and places
5) 0 - Exploration: open world from the beginning, visited locations remain open
6) 0 - Quests and Puzzles: side quests not related to the main quest, puzzles and riddles to solve

Ever since I played Solstice I've had a soft side for the isometric perspective. It took years of playing to get comfortable enough with the controls to make it through the game. Luckily I had Nintendo Power to guide me through those early NES games. I'm not sure I would have beaten as many as I did without it. My exposure to Genesis games was slight, but I'm sure I would have been enamored with this title just the same. I might give it a proper playthrough one day, but it won't be detailed here.

As a 9, it's borderline, but in the end it's an action-adventure with some of the worst isometric controls I've experienced (I haven't played them all, granted). Nigel, the protagonist, can only move in four directions, a normal mechanic in these games. Instead of angling the d-pad to map up to up-right or up-left, it's mapped to both depending on which diagonal direction was last pressed. This makes handling imprecise. Due to that, the action sequences are tedious as I often accidentally flew in the wrong direction or swung my sword to the side of an enemy.

Nigel finds health upgrades, but that's the only stat improvement. (I'm unsure if I should even give a point for that.) Combat strength is determined by equipment alone. There's a good amount of that, and even some situational gear that makes swapping effective for different environmental hazards. Items are varied as well. As for story, setting, and puzzles: that's where the game really shines, but those same aspects are what make it an adventure game, not quite an RPG.

Without a way for the character to improve, the player has to improve to make progress in the game. Combat misses the mark. It's rote with only a sword to manage enemies (and some limited use items). The store is only acts as a money sink with no way to sell anything. I'm actually not sure if there are side quests, but I'll give the game the benefit of the doubt as I haven't played through far enough to find one.

In the end, I enjoyed what little I tried, and if I can manage to look past the control difficulties (and rewire my brain to accommodate), I'll probably enjoy the rest of the game. Until that time let's move on to Inindo.


  1. You may have seen this on CRPG Addict, but I started the blog I said I was thinking of doing: http://superfamicomrpgs.blogspot.com

    I'm slowly making a list of games, and came across Lady Stalker, a sequel to this for the SFC. This looked like an RPG to me but sometimes it's hard to tell from the 15 second video clips on the videos I'm watching.

    1. LadyStalker would be interesting as I believe it shies away from combat altogether. A strange departure from action-adventure and RPGs. Both have enough of a story that I really wouldn't fault anyone for including it in an RPG list.

  2. I stumbled across your blog a couple of weeks ago, and I have been working to catch up to the present.

    I decided to finally come out of lurkmode and congratulate you on your project thus far! It has been a lot of fun following along and I am enjoying it immensely.

    1. Thanks for chiming in. I'm sure you'll catch up quickly. I try to post once a week, but often miss that mark. Glad you're enjoying it, and hello to all the lurkers out there.

  3. I'm a bit late, but I should point out that Nigel's attack strength increases when you gather Life Stock as well as increasing your life meter. Also, this is one of my favorite games, and I just want to say that if you can master the controls, the game is highly rewarding to complete. I like to give it a play-through at least once a year.

  4. The controls have always been a major point of criticism for Landstalker. I remember there even being a third party accessory you could plug between controller and console which remapped the walking controls.