Saturday, 20 February 2016

Courageous Perseus (PC-88)

So, this game's older than me, and is a very early action RPG. Being developed and released so close to the dawn of its genre doesn't hold it back, though: it takes place in a relatively large open map, and the only restriction on your exploration is your ability to fight the enemies in a particular area.

Unfortunately, that's a bigger restriction than it sounds. The fact it, in Courageous Perseus, if your attack stat isn't high enough, you won't even scratch an enemy that's out of your league, but your stats increase very slightly for each enemy you kill. So, while it initially seems like the game is an open-world action RPG, it's more of a highly treacherous scavenger hunt, where trying to pick up the clues in the wrong order risks life and limb. You can't hang around an area full of weaklings to grind, either, as slain monsters don't respawn. It kind of reminds me of the DSiWare game Crystal Adventure, which is one long puzzle, in which the player has to discern the order in which every monster and item in the game should be collected or beaten.

Since the game provides nothing but an opportunity to conduct your own long-winded experiments in trial and error, it's mostly a frustrating waste of time. Even if you have a list of the enemies in order of ascending strength, there's still plenty of frustration to be had. The main source being the fact that the enemies just move around the screens completely at random, and it's very easy to get stuck between a bunch of enemies too strong for you to fight, leaving you helpless to do nothing but wait to die or hope that they get out of your way before that happens.

There are good points to Courageous Perseus, though. There's the aforementioned free-roaming aspect, which is years ahead of its time. There's also the graphics. While the island itself is just a bunch of yellow, brown and green blobs, with bright blue water, the monster sprites look great. Though they're tiny and only have a couple of colours to each of them, they're all different to each other, and it's clear what they're all supposed to be.

Courageous Perseus is a game that's impressive and very ambitious, but unfortunately, it's not very fun to play. It's worth playing if you have a curiosity about videogame RPGs from a time before the genre was truly codified by the likes of Wizardry, Black Onyx and Dragon Warrior (although Wizardry, at least, does predate it).

If you do decide to play it, here's the first few enemies in the order at which they can be beaten: turquoise soldier, white horse, satyr, centaur. That's as far as I got, so you'll have to work the rest out on your own.

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