April 23, 2012

Legend of the Ghost Lion - Ranking

Story & World

Initially it seemed like the game world was going to be very flowery but it came back closer to RPG standards in due time.  I know I made fun of the floweriness at the beginning but now I kinda wish it kept on with that.  If I had been getting killed by cotton ball bunnies and butterscotch sunshine smiles, I think it would have pissed me off a lot less.  Either that or way, way more.  Anyway, it would have garnered a few more points for uniqueness if it had kept on being fabulous.

The whole main quest and most of the sides were just plain boring.  Fetch quests that open up the next area just to repeat the same formula.  A few side quests were interesting though.  For example, instead of searching through the nearby dungeon to find the quest item in a chest, the item was hidden within one of the towns.  The only way to know its location was to have spoken to a NPC in a completely different town.  6/20

Character Development

The capped level system is a great idea.  Having to find your levels while exploring dungeons is a great way to discourage grinding your characters into easy street.  The companions also increase in strength as Maria does, not that that mattered too much (fucking companions!).

Maria gets access to a number of weapons throughout game; all of which she sucks with.  She was generally too busy summoning pals to bothering swinging a weapon most times anyway.  I would have gladly traded her weapons for some kind of armour, even if it was something like a shield made out of happy memories.  There are items that mimic protective spells but those take a round for Maria to activate (much better spent summoning).  The lack of a more powerful healing item other than bread also gives this category a big kidney shot.  6/20

Combat & Monsters

The magic system boasts an impressive number of spells.  Each of the spellcasting companions has access to a different set of spells, usually geared towards offensive or defensive.  It's the combat that really dragged this game down near the end.  A single random encounter could easily leave Maria beaten down enough to make further exploring impractical and requiring a warp back to a healing pool.  The system itself is actually quite good; the variety in the companions leads to many different ways to approach a fight.

Considering that I wanted to join them at one point, the enemies must have something going to them.  Most are of the strictly melee variety; the few with spells can be extremely nasty.  Many seemed to have resistances / weaknesses to certain spells which was fun to figure out (and then forget by the next encounter).  And that final boss fight was très magnifique.  13/20

Graphics & Sound

Pretty crap graphics throughout.  Monster sprites were the biggest disappointment as they all lacked definition and colourfulness.  The overworld tune is one snappy number but is countered by abysmal battle music.  Damn, just listened to that overworld tune again and I'm doubling its net point worth.  8/20


Lots of excess cash money pretty early in the game.  Bread and tears are cheap and the more expensive items are barely worth it.  Had a lot less money near the end due to many deaths (golds divided by 2 for each fatality) but nothing to spend on other than restorative items.

Overall, the game fails on many levels.  It's short, very linear, and boringly difficult near the end.  A replay would yield the exact same experience as the first time.  The only part worth redoing and trying out different things would be in the final fight with the white lion.  4/20

Final Ranking:  37/100

April 19, 2012

Legend of the Ghost Lion - End Game

*cue Fanfare for the Common Man*

Finally, it has ended.  The game lies prostrated before the might of Nung.  His unshakable will has proven victorious over the ass that is LotGL.  Channelling all of his ki into an orb of raw mental power, Nung unleashes a torrent of sheer energy at LotGL.  He does not relent until every last fragment of essence is destroyed.  Now if he could only somehow destroy his memories.

Melodramatics aside, my happiness got +5 points after finishing this game.  LotGL now holds the record for highest days spent to hours played ratio (two weeks:eight hours).  The last leg of the journey was just brutal.  Stacks of three monsters become very common and they usually consist of the biggest assholes of the game.  You got the 3/4ths of the time attack avoider and now he's got a pal that can throw up an attack repulsing shield.

I'm going to get the fuck outta Dodge.

One thing keeping the difficulty high is the inability to grind for some power.  No experience is gained for killing monsters.  Instead, levels are gained by finding *sigh* fragments of hope.  This ensures every dungeon gets explored fully as well as capping Maria's power.  This idea has merit and I hope to see some future RPGs implement it a little better than here.  I suppose I promised some screenshots so here's Maria prancing on a bridge made of a rainbow.

Hey, where the heck is violet?
Maria!  It's a trap!

K, one last bitch about how much everyone sucks before I get into the magnificent surprise that lies at the final boss.

A creature made of iron can
dodge?  Come ON, ref!

All the BS endured up to the final engagement with the white lion was made worth it for the gloriously intense battle that ensued.  The level capping really paid off for this was one of the best end boss fights ever.

Aww, let's all pet him instead!

As Maria struggled to bring forth her companions, the White Lion wasted no time in bitch slapping Maria down to half her courage in two rounds.  It was only the elf companion's repulsor shield spell that kept Maria from biting it.  It's not always effective though and soon Maria is down to 26 Courages!  One more hit and that's it, man, game over!  She can't even spend a round eating a fucking bread because it only heals 50 Courages and Whitey is hitting for 200+.

Tremble before my mighty albinoness!

The only solution is to start declaring half of the companions on the battlefield to defend Maria.  Even then, the Great White STILL manages to get through but is stopped by the shield still in effect.  The next round, he finally pays attention to all the wounds he's been receiving and is defeated.

Arrggh!  Damn you all and
your precious melanin, too!

The lion then transforms into our old friend, Twana (he's the second companion that joined Maria).  At one point, Twana was lost in a predetermined storyline fight and quite frankly, I had forgotten all about him.  Apparently, it was him that was responsible for this whole fiasco.

Better get ready for round two, you dick.

He blabs on about how brave and strong Maria has become but I know he's just some old freak who likes to see little girls get repeatedly beat up by dream monsters.  Hey, we've all gone through that phase in our lives but don't try to sugar coat it with your big empowerment speeches.  Just admit you hate Maria.

After Twana gives Maria an amulet (probably cursed) and takes off, Maria wakes up from her dream to find her mother scolding her for almost drowning in the river.  She doesn't believe any of the story Maria tells her, of course, and yells a little bit more at her.  Maria becomes dejected and hangs her head only to see the amulet still hanging around her neck!  What does it all mean?  Maria has some deep soul searching to do.

Screw you, Maria.  Screw yoooooouuuuuu.

April 12, 2012

Legend of the Ghost Lion - Someday the Dream will End

You know, most nanodays I often dwell on the harsh realities on being the manchine.  I can't enjoy a nicely seared steak smothered in Bull's Eye™ sauce.  I'll never again know the sweet touch of my sexy, sexy wife (who died anyway during the CP Raid, those bastards).  I have to play through all these crap games before I can end modern civilization and get my revenge.  But at least I don't dream anymore.  Maria and Friends has taught me that dreams can suck really hard.

Before getting too ahead of myself here, let's pick up from last time (oh so long ago).  The warping broom turned out to be a reality which was nice.  Things went smoothly for a little while but then took a turn for the worse.  The regular random encounters started getting very difficult.  Bad enough that a single encounter with certain creatures would send Maria brooming it back to the nearest healing pool.  Even with Maria summoning fighter-type companions every round, these monsters would end up lasting four or five rounds while still beating on poor Maria every round.  Evade rates reach as high as 75% for some beasties.  Running away from the more difficult creatures isn't an option with the fleeing success rate less than 10%.  After so many critical beatdowns, it was time to switch strategies.

Normally, I'm a Sun Tzu kinda guy and go with the best defense is a good offense.  Maria does have the option to have her companions defend her and, in fact, there is one companion who specializes in it.  Shifting more of the damage to her teammates should help as it's more efficient summoning companions than it is feeding bread to Maria.  I was ready to praise the game for its ability to break me out of my standard method of operation.  That praise quickly turned in a curse as assigning guys to defend Maria proved to be pretty pointless.  It doesn't seem to reduce the frequency of when Maria is picked to be attacked (pretty often) but rather cuts her damage in half.  So I'm either wasting a potential attack or wasting a summon on the pro-defense puss.

Harsh mechanics are normally only a minor annoyance (hell, sometimes I even like getting spanked a little bit), but what really tears it here is that it completely destroys my internal reenactment of the battles.  Maria will have three or four fighters summoned on a single creature and they're all missing with their attacks while it easily reaches Maria and carves its initials into her face.  All I can picture is the companions all bumbling around and falling over each other like a fucking Three Stooges episode.  They suck.  They just plain suck.  They're the suckiest bunch of sucks that ever did suck.

The kicker here is that all of this takes place in Maria's dream.  How bad do you have to suck to suck in your own dreams?  I'll tell ya, the ONLY way for this game to redeem itself is to have the ending consist of Maria waking up and finding her crippled body washed ashore from the river she fell into at the beginning of the game.  Oh!  And as the last bit of life ebbs from her and she struggles to keep her eyes open, she just barely makes out the rotting carcases of her parents lying a couple of metres away.

Oh, and if y'all are wondering about the lack of screenshots; I have plenty of screens.  I'm just not willing to even look at them right now.  And to come up with a joke caption?  Pfft, that's a joke.  Perhaps I'll overcompensate in the end game post.  PERHAPS.

April 03, 2012

[Game 019] Legend of the Ghost Lion (NES - 1989)

The legend of Legend of the Ghost Lion begins with a mysterious white lion running amok in a village.  Many soldiers tried to subdue but to no avail.  It was only when one brave soldier threw his spear with such courage that the lion ran away into a cave and was never seen again.  Ages pass and a little girl's parents decided that it would be best if they left their little Maria and went and solved the mystery of the white Ghost Lion.  To no one's surprise, they never returned.  Too bad they didn't take the time to hop on AltaVista and find out the answer is albino lion.  Evidently neither did Maria because she resolves to try to find her parents and also solve this grand mystery.

I'm sure this rusty old spear in my
untrained hands will protect me.

Finally, a game where I get to play as a girl.  And a girly-girl as well; Maria is no Red Sonja.  Hell, her hit points are called courage and her magic points are called dreams.

Where's my chocolate rainbow unicorn stat?

She's terrible in battle and takes a lot of damage when hit.  In order to offset this weakness, Maria acquires various items that allow her to call forth spirits to assist her in combat.  Using the spear she is given in the beginning calls forth the spirit of the warrior that originally chased the white lion away.  Very quickly, Maria also acquires a lamp that lets her summon forth the mage, Twana.  This setup of having a weak main character protected by various minions scratches an itch I didn't even know I had.  Since minions are powered by Maria's dreams and therefore limited, care must taken to balance out when and which minions will be summoned.  This also means that Maria will have to fight some of the battles by herself, usually to her detriment.

Bad mr. monsie, I'll wave my fairy

So there's a reason why everything is in sunshine-and-lollipops-talk.  As soon as Maria sets off on her adventure in the same monsterless cave as her parents did, she gets swept away by a river while crossing a bridge and falls unconscious.  When she awakes, she finds herself by a small pool in the middle of a meadow, surrounded by some kind of butterfly eyeball creature.  These disturbing monstrosities fill her in on the roles of courage, dreams, and hope.

Do nightmares count as dreams?

The questing structure is pretty generic so far; find a MacGuffin in a cave and mosey on into the next area.  Rinse and repeat.  There are more pools with freaky eye creatures which refills all of Maria's dreams and courage.  The only other healing in the game so far is in the form of bread for courage and *sigh* tears for dreams.  None of Maria's companions have a healing spell and even if they did, it could only be used in combat.  These items have so far only been found in one place, at the very first town.

Yeah, do you sell bread here?

The layout is pretty linear and the farther into the questing Maria gets, the farther she gets away from Bread.  So far the game hasn't coughed up a warp item yet, so every time Maria needs to restock she has to haul her ass all the way back.  The game does, however, boast a large inventory system and once Maria has the funds to fill it up, trips back will drop drastically.  This point may become moot anyway as there's a rumour about a witch's broom that sounds pretty warpy.

You'd probably just waste
it and play Quidditch.

Here's hoping that there actually is a broom and not just that this clown misheard witch's brew (unless Maria can fly that as well).