Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Light Crusader (Genesis/Mega Drive) - Replay

Super Adventures in Gaming Replay 2014 - Game 6

Light Crusader title screen
And the final game I'm replaying this year is... action RPG-type thing Light Crusader. That logo's looking so Roger Dean that I wouldn't have been shocked if I'd seen 'Psygnosis' written down there instead of 'Treasure'.

In fact this is a pretty atypical art style for Treasure, who at this point were famous for flashy cartoon action games like Dynamite Headdy, Gunstar Heroes and, uh, McDonald's Treasure Land Adventure (hey, it's actually a pretty decent game). Like all Treasure games up to this point it was Sega exclusive, the final game they released on the Mega Drive/Genesis before switching over to the Saturn for 1996's Guardian Heroes. They continued supporting Sega right through to the end of the Dreamcast but they weren't particularly exclusive to anything at all by '97, and gamers everywhere soon received the benefit of their videogame design genius. Well except for PC gamers, but I hear that they'll be fixing that this year.

We're playing as Sir David, a swordsman in the service of King Frederick.

It has been a while since he was last in Green Row but he's really looking forward to returning.

King Freddy has asked Sir David back to Green Row to request his assistance in investigating the disappearance of numerous townsfolk. I didn't get the option to say no, but I don't see why I shouldn't help him out seeing as there's nothing else going on around here. Plus the game was nice enough to bring me to the throne room in a cutscene without dropping me at the town gates and making me look for it, so I'm in a good mood.

First though, I'm going to go take some screenshots of these fantastic looking statues. Funny how it didn't occur to me to grab a shot of this art the first time I played it. I mostly just whined about not finding anything to stab and then finished up by pushing some cows together and quitting out of boredom before I even reached the first level.

Hey, that's a point: I can push things around in this! Okay then, I'm going to have to put the missing persons investigation on hold for a minute while I play a game with these thrones.

Crap, I ran out of pieces before I could set up a full chess game for us. I'm sorry kitty, but all the whining in the world isn't going to summon up three bishops, two rooks, two knights, and a whole lot of pawns.

Man, look at Sir David panting there. The graphics in this are pretty impressive considering the system it's running on, but the animations can be a little weird at times.

For one thing David looks kinda stiff as he struts around the level. It's not what you could call a natural-looking fluid walk cycle.

I can't say he's not graceful in the air though. Sir David is apparently far too honourable to swipe the shields and swords off the wall, but he has no qualms about leaping across the furniture to take their red potion.

He's got no qualms about sneaking behind the bushes to steal a royal pendant either. I wonder if this is something I can equip. I know I've played the game once already, but I did such an astoundingly shitty job of it first time around that I honestly don't know how equipment works in it.

I have a map! You can see by the green dot that I'm in the eastern castle hallway right now, next door to the throne room.

Well the pendant can't be equipped and it can't be used, so it's definitely seeming like an awesome find so far. Maybe I can sell the thing.

Also it seems that Sir Dave decided to get his grocery shopping done first while he was out, as he's got an impressive array of foodstuffs stashed in his pants. No wonder he runs so funny.

I have no idea what this woman's doing, some kind of martial-arts based dishwashing technique perhaps, but I appreciate the fact the developers went to the trouble of drawing up this unique animation for her.

But I can't steal the fish, cheese, or the chicken, so this room is useless to me. I think I'll leave the castle now and explore the town outside. Hopefully one of the NPCs outside has a clue about what's going on.

I guess I've still got a habit of jumping everywhere that I picked up way back playing Morrowind. Whenever I find myself talking a long walk down the roads of a fantasy town I instinctively start hopping. Probably because I'm bored.

I wouldn't want to be on the ground anyway, with these creepy symmetrical plants around. For all I know they've eaten the missing townsfolk, after dragging them down into the soil to digest them with their roots.

I'm not sure that I have to step up onto the table to buy things, but it certainly seems to make the process easier. I'll grab one of these fire spells orbs and maybe save the rest of my cash until I've seen how combat works in this. I don't want to end up needing something later that I can't afford any more.

Okay, here's where I got stuck the first time around; at a graveyard on the outskirts of town after getting basically no useful info from the NPCs. To give my past self some credit though, I did notice the trapdoor over on the right on my original attempt, I just had no idea what to do about it then.

But this time I'm armed with advice from a helpful comment telling me that I merely needed to push a certain gravestone to get the hatch open, so I'm not leaving this place until I figure out which.

Found it! Man, that really is a subtle switch. I'm starting to think I must have missed a clue somewhere, as that's a bit much to expect players to figure out by themselves at the very start of the game.

But whatever, I'm past it now so it's not my problem anymore! No more dead ends for me, I've opened the door into the dungeons now and it'll be all clear sailing from this point onwards.

Crap, it's a dead end.

I tried beating up some slime monsters for a bit, but ended up inflicting more hurt on myself than I did to them. The combat... well it's not slow, but it's pretty basic. I walk at the enemy and hit the sword button until they die, trying make sure I'm keep facing in the right direction (it's can be a bit hard to tell when the sword's swinging).

Alright I'll try the door to the north instead then.

No enemies in this room, just a lot of floating platforms that sink down when I land on them. They're spiralling all around that blue column in the center of the room, but I only ever get to this third step before mistiming my jump and running off the edge. Over and over again.

Oh wait, hang on, they don't keep falling once I'm landed on them, so I've got all the time in the world to stop and carefully consider my next jump! Well, uh, that's okay then. Except for the part where the platforms disappear around the back of the column and I'm left jumping blind that is.

Okay I've finally made it up to the chest at the top and my reward is... a full health refill. Well I was already basically at full health, but it's the thought that counts. There's three exits to this room; one of them is the way I came in and one's locked with a big blue door, so I guess I'm taking door #3.

Man, isometric platforming... it's never a great idea is it? At least not when they bring out the floating platforms suspended over a spike pit. I mean where am I standing right now? Am I on the ground near that island of blocks at the top? Am I floating far above the blocks at the bottom of the screen?

I know what this game needs! A minimap in the top left corner, showing how the room is laid out in top view and where exactly I am in it. Though in the game's defence I did actually make my way across all the room without misjudging a single jump, so it must be doing something right. Keeping the platforms stationary was a big help.

I've actually saved someone! He didn't give me a key and I'm not sure this has unlocked anything, but seeing his happy little portrait was its own reward, even if it doesn't match his sprite at all.

There is another room on this side of the river of spikes, so I'll check that out next.

If only all my dead ends could be this rewarding. Right, back across the spikes then.


SOON.


So this door's not going to open until you three are dead, huh? I think we can come to some kind of arrangement about that.

My blast of fire magic did 13 damage to the one enemy that got in its way and a sword slash seems to do about 7. Either way, if each of those orange health orbs up there on the enemies' side represents 10hp then I'm going to be here a while.

I gain CORN! This is actually really handy, as food is a health item and they've been really cutting through my life bar this fight. I've got auto-potion turned on so I shouldn't even need to access the menu to eat this.

Man, I just checked my inventory and it's practically empty now. David got through a chicken leg, corn, an apple, a banana and an entire loaf of bread during that fight. They're going to have to call him the Heavy Crusader if he keeps this up.

The door below led me to Key 1, so I can go back to the start now and get one of those locked doors open. Which one though, I have no idea. Would've been cool if they could've put a little [1] next to the door on the map screen, but game developers seem to hate doing that (almost as much as they hate including maps at all).


A FEW ROOMS NORTH.



A save room! Man, if this wasn't feeling enough like Symphony of the Night before it surely is now. It's also reminding me a little of Resident Evil for some reason, though neither game is anything like this in gameplay really.

Shame I have to jump up like this to see the background art properly. I have to feel sorry for the genius sculptor who spent weeks meticulously chiselling these symmetrical statues out of giant blocks of marble, only to be told that they were going to be placed inside a dingy dungeon where only three or four people would ever get to see them. Also the dungeon has multiple floors with more than one save room on each level, so he's got to get 20 more of them made.

Oh speaking of art, this music (youtube link) is fairly awesome. I can't decide if it sounds more like a track from the Castlevania series or from a Final Fantasy game, and that's surely a good thing. Not so keen on the rest of the soundtrack so far, but whenever this song appears I'm happy.

Oh shit I think I've just wandered into a boss fight. I should've known that the room next door to a save point wasn't likely to be a cakewalk.

Well here you go mate, take some more FIRE! Oh crap, I've just figured out that the message box is telling me that I need more fire. I just used up the last of it. Uh, what other spells can I bring out? I'm sure a found a room full of orbs a minute ago.

Oh shit, I can combine the elemental orbs to make more advanced spells? That's so awesome! Not much use for 'turn undead' on whatever this thing is, but I'm sure I can find a combination here that works.

Light Crusader You are dead message gravestone
...or not.

Look at that, the monsters couldn't even be bothered to etch RIP on the grave properly. No respect.

You know, I really don't like boss fights much, especially not when there's a trial and error aspect to figuring out how to even hurt the creatures. I tried hitting the creature directly, I tried destroying his bubbles, I tried using physical attacks, I tried blasting him with every spell I had... I tried everything but whatever it is that actually hurts this bastard and that's because I don't know what that is!

Though it seems I've been blessed with a second chance (maybe due to that 'useless' pendant I collected from the castle) so I can't get away with dropping the controller and making a run for it just yet.


EVENTUALLY.


I have to hit the eyeball directly, that's the fucking trick to it! I didn't try it the first time because I had no idea I could even get up here. Well it seems that his life bar is so big that it extends out of the 'enemy life' box, so I'll have to hit him a few more times before I can tell how close to death he is.

I just hope auto-potion finds enough snacks in my invisible backpack to get me through this.

And he's done. I can't believe I was seriously considering quitting earlier because he was too tough for me.

Oh wait, he's not dead, he's just moved onto his second attack pattern where he fills the screen with jets of deadly flame! Well that's just fine with me, as fire only makes me stronger! No, hang on, it's FOOD that makes me stronger. Man, I'm so fucked.

And he's done. Took a few more tries than I would've preferred in the end, but fortunately the save game room was only a short corridor away, so retrying the fight was about as painless as I could've hoped for.

Speaking of saving, I'm running back over to save immediately.

Shame the game doesn't mark the save rooms with a big bold S (though it is marked by a 'you are here' dot right now so you can see where it is). At least I've got the level entrance labelled to give me a landmark to work from.

Alright my choices now are to either go explore the corridor to the north, or go west back through the boss room and see where that door takes me. I think I'll go... north.


SOON, IN THE ROOM TO THE NORTH.


Uh... are these your fish? Can I have one? No? I guess I'm going back through the boss room then.

Okay that just looks awesome for a Genesis/Mega Drive game. Also our hero can apparently swim in plate armour without sinking to the bottom. It's such a nice change to find a classic game where the 'water' isn't actually a pool of hero-dissolving acid.

These puzzles are getting a bit trickier now. I have to push the explosive barrel onto the lift, then drop the block onto the trigger to raise the lift, so I can push the barrel over the steps and across to the locked blue barrier. Then I'll give it a good smack and make a run for it before it blows the shit out of the door. Fortunately I can always reset the room by leaving and coming back in, so I'll never be entirely stuck.

It's starting to remind me a bit of... Batman on the ZX Spectrum actually, with a hint of Cadaver on the Amiga, though far less frustrating than either of them. That's what this is, it's like a Spectrum game with Amiga graphics running on the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive... except not crap.

I have to admit that they're not exactly pushing my problem solving skills to their limit just yet, but it's only the first level of the dungeon so I'm not complaining. I wouldn't really want that much of a challenge right now. Also check out those rotating blocks; how often do you see something like that in a 16-bit console game?

I gain RAPIER! Plus I've also found a switch on the wall that opens a door... somewhere else. It's fine though, as there really aren't that many locked doors in this place. Figuring out what's changed shouldn't take long.

So it's not going to tell me the equipment stats then? I guess the rapier is just plain better than my starting sword and that's all I need to know about that. Can't say I've noticed any difference in the swing though.

You can definitely see how I've filled in much more of the map now though. Alright, let's see what's through this newly opened door.

Oh shit, it's another boss fight! No wonder the poor creature is furious after being trapped in this tiny room like this. He's barely got enough room in here to flap his wings, though it doesn't seem to put him off. This thing is fully animated by the way and looks fantastic in motion.

All I've been doing all fight though is jumping off the top platform and diving down at him, sword-first. Then I dodge his fire breath, get back onto the platforms, and leap at him again. Over and over.

Victory pose! Armed with this new blade, nothing is a match for my skill.

Oh c'mon! That's like the 15th time I've leapt from the pillar trying to cut this guy down. Defeated by a length of rope, how embarrassing.


15,000 TRIES LATER.


Right, I've rescued the kidnapped citizen and I've reached another save room. Wait, this isn't a save room, it's a warp room taking me right back to the castle! Well I think that's a reasonable place to call this a day.


CONCLUSION

Looks like I've chosen another good game to replay. Light Crusader deserved way more of a chance than I gave it first time around and it's a shame that it took me so long to rectify that injustice. I mean seriously, my past self, what was the point of even writing about the game if all you did in it was to shove some cows into a corner and say 'bored now'? You dumbass.

I liked the puzzle solving and the exploration more than I liked the combat, but the fighting wasn't bad enough to spoil the game really. It's just a bit lacking in grace and complexity. The unusual art style put me off at first but it's definitely grown on me, and the music compliments the mood well without being catchy enough to lodge itself in my brain for days. Not that it helps me any, seeing as I'll just find a that a tune from RoboCod or Banjo Kazooie or whatever has started looping around in my mind instead. Richard Joseph and Grant Kirkhope have ruined my life.

Anyway, Light Crusader has been a solid, enjoyable game so far, much better than Star Crusader anyway (and a less frustrating than Crusader of Centy), so I'd award it a star without hesitation.

There's another game replay finished with, hope it didn't drag on for too long, I can never tell. Actually the fact that I'm replaying these games based on your responses and complaints should tell you a lot about how much I appreciate your feedback, so leave me a comment if you feel like it.

NEXT WEEK ON SUPER ADVENTURES: CHAPTER IV - A bold new gimmick begins, starting with the letter 'A'.

3 comments:

  1. Man, I'm happy you are unstoppable. Keep on.

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  2. Yeah, past you sucks!

    Anyway, that seems to be the right length. Any longer would be tedious.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! That's the kind of feedback I'm eager to hear. Always awesome to know that I've stopped just short of tedium.

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