Monday, April 18, 2011

Legacy of the Wizard

Legacy of the Wizard is an NES game that people would probably only put up with in the NES era. It was known as Dragon Slayer IV: Drasle Family in Japan, where, as you might be able to tell from the title, was part of a series of games. It's not a series that I am familiar with, but I guess some people remember Faxanadu fondly, which it was a sequel to, though in the weird world of US NES releases, Faxanadu was released later. The game was originally developed and published by Nihon Falcom, but according to Wikipedia the NES version was made by Quintet, whom later made Actraiser and Illusion of Gaia. The fact it was Nihon Falcom doesn't really change my impression of the game because I've never spent much time playing any of their games, but the connection to Quintet disappoints because I've liked their games.

If you like all the aimlessness of NES exploration games like The Legend of Zelda and Castlevania 2: Simon's Quest, but hate design that is interesting and makes you actually want to explore, then you'll love Legacy of the Wizard. Okay, I would say the way exploration was handled worked out pretty well in Zelda, not so great in Castlevania 2, and absolutely terribly in this game. I say that it could only be put up with in the NES era because it is just throws you into this world with no idea of your goals or abilities. Maybe the manual can help in this regard, but I can't imagine that it can be too helpful in providing the direction needed to progress in the game.

When you start the game you get a character select screen that tells you nothing about the important differences between the characters. I chose the dog because I didn't think it would actually play as it, and I was sort of right, because it's not actually a dog, but a dragon/monster sort of thing. As it turns out, the character selection is important because they all have different stats and abilities and items they can use, and thus each character can only progress to the end of each section dungeon. The dungeon is so convoluted and labyrinthine that I honestly don't know if I made it to more than one section of it. I know I never beat a boss, but since it the game is non-linear, I could have been to a bunch of different parts of it. The levels are just so boring. They all look similar, are extremely cramped, and are difficult to navigate, especially so where they are hidden things.

The game is just a mess and it's hard to imagine having the patience for its shit. It does all the sort of things that annoy me that were popular in the NES days. It has bland platforming, arbitrary RPG elements that lead to grinding, and randomly hidden stuff that you have absolutely no way of detecting. Did anybody really like randomly burning bushes or walking into walls hoping to find some secret that may or may not help you complete the game?

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