Saturday, 20 June 2020

Small Games Vol. 7!

This was originally going to just be a post about one PC88 game, a Buddhism-themed action RPG called Gandhara. It's definitely not a small game, as it takes place over a bunch of massive stages, and I only gave up on it, as after a few hours going around stage one, and even finding the entrance to stage two, it was becoming increasingly obvious that I wasn't going to get anywhere. Also, playing it got the ending theme from the old 1970s tokusatsu show Saiyuki/Monkey stuck in my head, and I hope reading the title earlier in this paragraph does the same to a few of you, too. If you want to try it, here's a little help with the controls: Space attacks with your sword, Shift uses your magic (once you get that ability), and 5 on the numberpad lets you pray to certain trees to regain your HP, at the cost of one hundred beads.

So, what do we have instead? First, an interesting little maze game entitled Daidassou, which is all about freeing your comrades from prison! First thing on each stage you have to kill a guard to get his key, then you run around opening cells and leading the inmates to the exit. If you're not careful, inmates can be taken to a special maximum security cell if they're caught by guards, or even killed in the crossfire. It's a cute little game, and it's fun to play, even if it's also very, very hard (it took several attempts just to get past the first stage!). I especially like the isometric look of the game, which results in some mazes looking kind of Escher-esque, and maybe impossible? Like the heights of different floors don't totally make sense all the time.

Finally, The Demon Crystal, which, despire its grandiose title and plot about a demon invasion, seems to take place in a series of suburban houses. You run around these houses, picking up keys to open locked doors, looking for the big key that opens the door to the next stage. It's a nice touch that the rooms behind the locked doors are shrouded in darkness until you enter them, and generally, this is a fun game, mechanically speaking, at least. Unfortunately, it's let down by the fact that the behaviour of most types of enemy is randomised, which can in some cases make the very possibility of being able to complete a stage entirely down to luck. If each enemy type had a learnable pattern, or a specific way they reacted to your presence, then this would have been a great lost classic I could have shown to you all, like an archaologist showing off an amazing artefact. Unfortunately, though, it's not only frustrating to play, but also frustrating to think about what could have been.

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