Friday, 15 January 2016

FireStriker (SNES)

Firestriker title screen
Developer:Axes Art Amuse |Release Date:1994 (NA)|Systems:Super Nintendo

This week on Super Adventures I'm playing SNES game Holy Striker, better known as 'Fire Striker' in the US and 'absolutely nothing' in Europe as they didn't bother to release it here. No great mystery why Nintendo of America decided to tweak the title when they brought it over, seeing how keen they weren't on religious references in their games.

That's pretty much the only thing I know about the game, but I've just loaded up its Wikipedia page and apparently it's a "piece of high carbon or alloyed steel from which sparks are struck by the sharp edge of chert or similar rock". Uh... what the hell's chert? Also, is there really no page for the game Fire Striker? Have I finally found something Wikipedia's never heard of?

Oh duh, I was just spelling it wrong; it's FireStriker without the space. You know what, forget the wiki page, I'd rather come into it blind anyway.

Hang on a second, there's three choices on the title screen and not one of them says 'OPTIONS'! Super Nintendo games are supposed to give me an options screen so I can put my lives count up and stuff. Instead there's a mysterious 'MULTI MODE' option sitting in its place, which is apparently different enough to '2 PLAYERS' to get to appear alongside it. I'll have to remember to try that out later.




I left the menu on for a bit, sulking about my missing 'OPTIONS' option, and this block of expository text eventually emerged to dislodge the logo.

So there were Four Kingdoms in the world, each named after one of the four elements. Sounds legit so far.
"But, there was a weapon which ruled over the Four Kingdoms... The TRIALIGHT... A weapon created by the Arch Mage WYLDE. The one who possessed it could unite and rule over the Four Kingdoms. One who can wield the TRIALIGHT is know as a FIRESTRIKER."
It's turning into Lord of the Zeldas. You thinking this might be an RPG? I'm definitely thinking RPG.

The game's still throwing backstory at me, but it's started giving me art to go with it so I grabbed a shot of the clean background instead.
"Each Kingdom chose a FIRESTRIKER to compete for the TRIALIGHT. Ultimately the Kingdom of WIND Won. Thus, the Four Kingdoms were united. But, it was the beginning of a nightmare. Arch Mage WYLDE was not satisfied with peace. He conjured Four Monsters to overthrow the unified world."
Wow, this game will capitalise Any part of any WORD it damn Well feels like. If only WYLDE had given out rings like Sauron, then they could've summoned Captain Planet to fight him. Oh wait they'd need the Kingdom of HEART for that.
 "The Four Monsters loosed upon the world a beast that could turn humans to stone."
Petrification huh? Nasty.

Oh hang on, that doesn't say 'stone', it says 'storn'. Now it's just making words up!
"Finally, only the Kingdom of WIND remained, fighting alone against WYLDE's monsters. Ordinary weapons were of no use against the Monsters."
 "Now, only one hope glimmered... WYLDE's TRIALIGHT. And, only one FIRESTRIKER had survived."
Not hard to guess which of these four is the STRIKER of WATER.

I started up the game proper and found myself as a knight in King Windy's court. Man this has to be the most RPG-looking fantasy RPG I've played on the SNES since Final Fantasy IV.

Turns out that I'm SLADER, the last FIRESTRIKER and I'm here in the King's throne room to receive my quest. My job is to get the TRIALIGHT and use it to slay the Four Monsters and stop Arch Mage WYLDE from plunging the World into DARKNESS. Uh, darkness I mean.

I'm sure these other warriors would love to help, but only the TRIALIGHT can slay the Monsters and I only I can wield the TRIALIGHT, so the King's armies are going to have to sit this one out.

Alright I've been booted out of the castle onto the world map. This is less of an RPG overworld and more of a level map though, as I can only travel from location to location. Seems that my first destination is going to be that giant tree, because it's sitting right in the middle of the only road out of here.

Yeah this tree's definitely a place I'm visiting, as moving here has brought up a character select screen.

Gotta love a game that makes a big deal out of me being the last STRIKER, then immediately shows that I'm not.

This… this isn’t an RPG is it? It definitely doesn't sound much like any more, now that the techno has kicked in (with orchestra hits!) Here's a YouTube link to the soundtrack if you want some music to go along with your GIFs.

Seems to me that this is one of those fantasy-themed Breakout clones, like Wizorb. Though instead of a paddle I've been given an Zelda-style hero to bounce the ball around with. Plus I've got a guy in a cloak keeping watch over my goal, which is good as either we're smacking this ball around on a hill or it's got a strong natural instinct to migrate south. Cloaky doesn't move around much though. He's less of an AI sidekick, more of an immobile barrier.

JUST. HIT. THE. BLOODY. CHEST.

The ball tends to head in the direction I'm pressing when I hit it, but so does my hero, so getting it exactly where I want is kind of tricky. With my crappy aim I'm going to be so screwed if I ever have to fight a boss.

Fortunately chests are optional though and all I actually had to do here was carve myself a gap through the blocks and then smack the ball into the open goal. Then it went and put me on the next stage, with entirely new bricks blocking a completely different goal.


LATER, ON STAGE 1-3.


Bloody hell...

Well now I know that exploding rocks sometimes contain hearts, and spiky balls can't be firestruck. Also the music changes between stages, which is cool as it stops it getting too monotonous and makes me feel like I'm making progress.

Well my feeling of making progress didn't last long. Just... bounce up through the gap already. Please.

Man, when I catch up to this Arch Mage we're going to have words about all these stone blocks he dumped across the road.


STAGE 1-4.


Gameplay displayed in extreme fast-forward.
I'm glad the game doesn't have a timer, because it sure takes a while to beat some of these stages. That barrier protecting my goal down there is getting worn away through, so the ball will eventually slip through if I don't get out of here first.

Hey I got out of there! Now I'm finally free... to move on to the next set of levels in that greenhouse on the left. I tried to walk SLADER to the north first to investigate that rock but he's just not interested.


STAGE 2-2.


I don't like all these POW spheres showing on this stage, it's giving me concerns about why I'm going to need them. Signs point to there being something nasty waiting for me on the next stage.

But I’ve figured out what the POWs are for at least! I can collect and carry just three POW spheres at the moment, but activating one of them gives me a single superpowered shot that can obliterate an entire column of bricks! Assuming I can get it to fire off in line with the blocks I'm trying to hit.

I've got to be careful though, as these POW power-ups lying around can be shattered with a few accidental hits.
Damn, the stage has an ominous gate in front of its goal as well. I like that even less than being showered with POW.


STAGE 2-3.


Oh shit, it's a double tiger with whirlwind pants who thinks he's Mr T!

This is SPEL, the first of Arch Mage WYLDE's Four Monsters, but the one who holds the most ironic name. He reveals that he knows I'm the FIRESTRIKER of WIND and he's not impressed, promising that he'll let me feel the power of the WIND. Eww.

Well the Monsters are immune to everything but the legendary TRIALIGHT, so I hope this fireball I've been smacking around is the relic itself or else this fight is going to end badly for me.

Yes, I got him!

Wait, no I didn't, he's blowing me up! Crap, crap, crap...

So, do you think those green balls his firing off are supposed to be WIND? Because he promised to show me the power of WIND, but all I see are green things and explosions. Seems like the explosions only happen when I hit that shiny orb atop his fur-less torso though, so I'll know when they'll be coming in future. Assuming I can ever hit him in the weak spot again.

Gameplay massively sped up because gameplay took forever.
Killed him with just one hit point remaining! Took a while though.

That's the first of the Four Monsters down, three left to go!

And the greenhouse has blown up.

I've got a choice of directions now: a small village, a smaller village, a castle, and a Final Fantasy crystal. And maybe my own castle too, I'll give that a try first.

I'm after Seals huh? I guess I'll need to head up to the ice zone next then. I did try going to the crystal instead to save but it wouldn't let me. That's apparently not what crystals are for in this world.

Interestingly it did let me replay the tree stages again, despite the fact that there's nothing obvious I can gain from it besides POW and health. Can't return to the greenhouse stages though, that place blew up.


ICE VILLAGE STAGE 1.


Oh good, this stage introduces monster generators that need to be wrecked before the exit gate opens. I always wanted to be trapped in a room being harassed by infinite enemies for all eternity.

Sorry, I get sarcastic when I'm bored. Plus whiny.


ICE VILLAGE STAGE 2.


I failed miserably. At least now I know I have limited lives and what happens when I lose one (I restart the level with a full set of hearts).

Amazingly that was my hero's first heroic death so far. I might not be able to get the ball to go anywhere I want it to, but holding onto my hit points hasn't been too hard so far.


OPTIONAL ICE STAGE 1.


Gameplay fast-forwarded again.
It's getting harder though. This is the optional area to the right of the ice village on the map, so completing it won't break a Seal, but I'm hoping it'll be worth it.

Oh by the way, I should mention that I've figured something out that's kind of important: I can slide cloak guy left and right with the 'L' and 'R' shoulder buttons to put him in front of the ball or cover damaged tiles (but I usually don't). I'm guessing that if Player 2 were to drop in to my game, he'd take over the cloak guy role immediately.


OPTIONAL ICE STAGE 2.


Ice scorpions shouldn't fire off exploding shurikens, that's just not right. Plus it means my ball keeps bouncing off their bullets when I want it to bounce off them. Enemies often take multiple hits to kill in this and these gentlemen are definitely no exception.

Hey, killing the ice scorpions has unlocked another STRIKER! It's GARUM, STRIKER of... EARTH? Uh, shouldn't that be STRIKER of ICE?

So these snowy stages were in the Kingdom of EARTH the whole time? My understanding of this world has been turned on its head!


EARTH TEMPLE STAGE 2.


Now I've chosen to play as GARUM (because the game wouldn't let me get through a rock barrier until I picked him) and to be honest he seems basically the same as my first STRIKER, except slower. He plays much the same though and has the same power attack, so if there's a another difference between the two of them it's too subtle for me.


EARTH TEMPLE STAGE 5.


Crap! This traitorous bloody camera...

I realise it's important to see what the ball's doing, but personally I'd rather the game kept me in frame instead so that I have a fighting chance to dodge sneaky enemy and indestructible spiky balls, at least when I'm in single player. I lost 6 hit points to a single butterfly during that GIF!

Oh wait, that's not a butterfly, it's a set of disembodied vampire jaws. Well that makes me feel a little better about my robot not being able to beat it in a straight fight.


EARTH TEMPLE STAGE 6.


You won't let me remove the Seal of EARTH? Dude, you're a wall, I don't think you get a say in the matter.


12 SECONDS LATER.


The wall kicked my ass.

To be fair, I came into the fight with a single hit point so the chances of it going my way were slim. But it gave me the opportunity to study the wall's routine: he shoots fire and rocks at me and then I lose.


EVENTUALLY.


Holy shit... I finally took one of his hit points off! I thought it'd never happen.

Now it just has to happen another 9 times before I run out of hit points, else I'm screwed. It's possible to gain hit points during the fight so it's not completely implausible for me to hang on that long. It might take a while though.

This one's in fast-forward too.
Did I ever mention how much I hate boss fights?

I'm sure I must be doing that thing I do where I overlook something really obvious, because fighting him like this is exhausting. I've been running around here smacking my ball around and dodging fire for almost five minutes now on this life alone and I'm only half done.

And I'm done!

Well thank fuck for that, I can finally stop playing. NO.... DON'T OFFER ME 5 CREDITS, WHAT ARE YOU EVEN DOING? I'm not trying that stage again, I'm through with it! I'm free! I can turn this off and move on with my life.

Wait, I forgot to see what Multi Mode is.

Oh, Multi Mode is just four player competitive multiplayer played with a multitap. For this particular map it's a game of two-a-side football... soccer, with a wall in front of the goals to make it more interesting. Well now I know.


CONCLUSION

I was kind of liking FireStriker, right up to the point where I wasn't. I'm not sure where the turn came exactly, but I eventually began to realise that everything was taking much longer than I comfortable with. The game had burned though my limited reserves of 'give a fuck' before I even got to the wall boss, so at that point it was just pure stubbornness keeping me going and that ran out when my lives did.

It's tedious and frustrating but the catchy music does help to counter that to a degree provided you can stand listening to it. Only a degree though, it's not that catchy. Plus being able to pick what level you want to play next is cool, though not being able to save after you're victorious isn't. It didn't even give me a password!

There's not many fantasy RPG-themed Breakout games in the world, but that's fine with me as I've come to realise I don't like the genre all that much. I'd probably put this above Wizorb though at least because having to dodge enemies adds a new dimension to the gameplay. Though on the other hand Wizorb's got magic powers and a village to walk around in...

I won't give FireStriker a 'Not Crap' award because I got sick of it and I don't see myself coming back to it any time soon, but I can see other people enjoying this a lot more than I did. It's certainly well put together and polished enough, so you won't have to fight through a layer of awkwardness to get to the boring bit. It's probably worth a few minutes of your time at least, if you find you like the look of it. Always good to try something out of the ordinary.


There's no way you're going to guess what the next game is from this clue. Or maybe you will, I dunno.

Either way you should totally leave a comment in the comment box below. Share your Firestriker and Super Adventures related thoughts.

6 comments:

  1. I'm certain next game will be Painkiller
    Finally, something that i can guess!
    Very looking forward to it! Thanks

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  2. Well, someone beat me to guessing the next game...

    If you're still taking suggestions, I'd recommend Spirits of Xanadu, which I've played recently. It's really good and you can get it for whatever sum you fancy for a few more days over at indiegamestand.com.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I would recommend Advent Rising.

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  4. Great multi-player party game! Thanks for the review!

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  5. Monster generator? Minecraft has plenty of those I've disabled underground in dungeons. And abandoned mines.

    I'm reading Mike Dawson's (yes, from Darkseed fame) book on game design from 2011, strange he never mentioned the name of the game. I'm gonna make an RPG like this in Notepad ++.

    Also Ray would love to see you taking on Metal Slug series and also all XMen games between 1992-2000 (on Mame of course) besides Five Nights At Freddie's.

    ReplyDelete
  6. The hell is Spel? A bloke with lions for shoulders? A pinball bumper gone rampant? That said, he's rocking the shoulder-lion look. Imagine the bad guy lounging on his throne and holding council as his right arm munched on a spy.

    I like that losing the ball causes it to explode. It makes me think of a mage going WAIT WAIT WAIT WAIT SHIT as his bolt careens across a battlefield. Actually, you know what game did that sort of thing? Crypt of the NecroDancer. Before they were patched out, the boots of speed would let the player move on half-beats at will. Playing a rhythm game and trying to flip back and forth between beats to move to made me fail hilariously. It was a lot like someone who'd never worn speed boots trying to fight in the things, it was pretty great.

    ReplyDelete

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