|Ouch! Dammit... stubbed my toe.|
Incredibly, the sprites for the monsters got even more ugly as the levels got deeper. Here's a gallery of some of the worst offenders.
|And the winner for least amount of time|
and effort put into it is... *drum roll*
Oh my! It's Undead Fencer!
Though the dungeon generally lacked in NPC interactions, there was one character who bears mentioning. Standing alone in his single square room, staring at candles, a peckish druid asked for some of my precious breads. After giving him a whole loaf, he asked for another. Then another. Then another. I cut him off after four and he got all huffy and left.
|God damn hippie druids.|
The dungeon layout is good in that the ladders connecting the floors are easy to access once found (often with not a single random encounter). This was crucial in reducing potential rage since healing is only available on levels one and three. Even so, I still found myself wishing for a warp spell of some kind. I had to stay close to the exit when mapping a new level in case a few bad fights drained my healing breads. I knew there was a warp spell and thought maybe it would just be found at a deeper level. At level six, I still hadn't found it and started to get concerned. At any rate, I had found a regenerating cache of treasure chests (re-entering the level refreshes it) on level five and was working it for awhile to be able to afford the magic items available at the town on level three. Once purchased, the item can be used over and over again and drains just a single HP from the character. The standard array of effects are here: damage, sleep, paralysis, and spell prevention. Whilst navigating the store menu in order to get the expensive Wood (damage) spell, I accidentally went too far and, lo and behold, there was another item available there. This, of course, was the warping Cloth spell I had desired for so long. See, being the efficient manchine that I am, I always exit a menu by pressing the cancel button as oppose to scrolling to the bottom of the list and selecting the exit option. This lead me to believe that what I could see on the screen was all that there was available.
Now that I could do some deep exploration with less worry, things moved along pretty well. The best equipment in the game was not available for purchase and had to be found. Correction: had to be found and defeated. In a move jacked directly from Wizardry II, the best weapons and armour are animate and, after being beaten in combat, can be used by the character. These pieces are the equipment of the legendary Ruu, whose hints and musings can be found etched on the wall at various points in the dungeon.
|Yeah, thanks Ruu. I'm pretty sure|
I'm not going to miss an entire town.
Strangely enough, I was actually able to rescue the princess before fighting the end boss. She shows up back at the castle and urges me to find and finish off her kidnapper. I'm pretty sure the deal was to just rescue her but after checking my contract with the king, I guess he did also include "this land" in things I had to save. The final dungeon level had a string of tough fights that had to be endured before taking on the final boss. I Clothed my way back to the town to fill up on healing breads for the ultimate showdown. In a baffling twist, the final boss turns out to be... Ruu? The same guy whose hints led me to gather up the equipment bearing his name? The same equipment that I was now using to most likely kick his ass with? He first asks if I'm willing to give him the equipment and join him in being evil. I refuse and so it's a fight to the death. So... let me get this straight. His master plan was to get me to gather his equipment for him, presumably because he could not do it himself. Then he relies on the extremely low chance that I would agree to join him. I mean, he knows I rescued the princess and am most likely a good guy. If I say no to his little request, there's no way he can think that he'll win in a fight. If I'm able to defeat the animated equipment that he can't, then increase my power even further by using his own equipment, he has to know that he'll lose in a fight.
|I don't think you've thought your|
cunning plan all the way through.
Furthermore, how did his equipment get away from him in the first place? Magic spell gone awry? Curse from some unmentioned god? Maybe he should have just approached me before the king and offered me the job? I'm sure he could beat the 200 gold pieces the king initially paid me. Anyway, this fight was pretty boring because none of the magic items work on him and so I just had to pummel him with his own sword until he succumbed. Finally, I was rewarded with the ending scene.
|Whoops... hold on a sec.|
|Ah, here goes.|
But it doesn't end there. A cliffhanger (being generous using that word) sets the stage for the sequel which was also released for the FDS and, incidentally, will be the next game to be processed. Will it somehow lower the bar even further?