August 23, 2013

Wizardry III - Ranking

Story & World

Wizardry continues its trend of a bare bones story except this time I had no idea what the end goal was until the latter portion of the game.  There were quite a few more NPCs hanging out in the dungeon but they were service-oriented rather than dialogue.  For example, there's an Abdul's Taxi Service which offers a ride back to the castle for a hefty fee.  However, most NPCs generally served as kiosks for exchanging quest items.  3/20

Character Development

Same as Wiz 115/20

Combat & Monsters

Same as Wiz 1.  14/20

Graphics & Sound

Same as Wiz 1.  15/20

Gameplay

Just like the other Wizardrys, gold isn't hard to come by after the party starts selling off excess magical weapons and armour.  Bank manager ShenNung had over a million golds by the end of the game and not a single thing to invest in.

The alignment-restricted levels are the biggest change in gameplay and quite a positive one at that (regardless of how nonsensical it is).  I sorta wish this mechanic was used in the first game when I had a nice selection of good and evil characters but it still worked out alright with just neutral ones.  15/20

Final Ranking:  62/100

August 22, 2013

Wizardry III - End Game

Since I had semi-cheated in the first Wizardry and outright cheated in the second, I wanted to do things cleanly for the third.  I was pleasantly surprised when I didn't feel the need to rage out — at least until the last dungeon level when I got completely wiped out by, I dunno, about 15 dinks, all of whom could cast Molito (damages entire party).  This was in addition to the stack of 8 fighters that accompanied them.

I didn't screencap it, so here's an adorable
gnome priest getting killed instead.

Over the course of a few days, I mulled over whether I should create a new party to rescue the dead one.  I'd have to basically grind for many hours without having the fun of exploring new areas.  My normal hours long sessions quickly dwindled into half hour territory.  It got to the point where I thought continuing the blog was more important than suffering through this bullisht.  If the blog wasn't a consideration, I could see picking this up from time to time, grinding a level or two, and eventually be able to continue the game in a year's time.  So I restored and continued on until the end.

A winner is me!

While it is sorely tempting to end this with just two paragraphs, I suppose I should detail some of the areas of interest leading up to the end.  One striking difference is that many of the levels are locked from either good or evil characters.  Since my party only had good and neutral characters, this meant that I'd be restricted to using neutral characters for two of the six levels.  That means no priests or lords, which are the only reasonable sources of healing (there are extremely weak healing potions that can be purchased but they aren't worth the slot they take up).  This made those levels particularly challenging but not impossible.  There weren't many nasty surprises or stupidly difficult fights; I just needed to retreat back to the castle far more often.  If I also had some evil characters, like I did in the first game, then it would just be a matter of switching out the priests.  Pretty cool dynamic to make the player change up the party configuration.

Even if it doesn't give any reason as to why.

The worst part of having an all-neutral party is that no one is capable of casting the delightful Lomilwa spell.  After all that bloody early grinding to get the spell just to not be able to use it for an entire two floors.  I resisted taking screenshots for the majority of these levels but some sections were just too good to pass up.  Like this little trap on the third level that lured me into a full party death with its enticing rhyming scheme.

Hard rhymes make for hard times.

Due to being restricted to only neutrals, level five contained, by far, the most difficult area to get through.  A single entrance leads into the Temple of the Fu'ng, which has static encounters with groups of Fu'ng priests who, of course, have access to HP-destroying spells.  With no on-site healing, it became impossible to get past the second set of priests without severely risking a full party death.  The only way past was to grind up mage Higgins until he learnt the Malor (teleport) spell.

I don't know what that means, but they'd
better be prepared for the irascible Nung!

Getting through this area netted the party the Crystal of Good, which, when combined with the Crystal of Evil that was found ages ago, transformed into the Neutral Orb, which allowed the party to bypass the guardian of the level six labyrinth.

Wow, he looks tough.  So glad
I didn't have to fight him.

Once in the labyrinth, the party can't just turn around and leave when they like; the exit must be found somewhere within the maze.  The Dumapic (location) spell fizzles when cast, making getting lost even easier.  It's here that the full party death happened.  Even worse was when I found out in a FAQ afterwards that I could have Malor'ed my ass out of there at any point.  For whatever reason, since Dumapic fizzled, I assumed that all non-combat spells would fizzle.  I had tried Maloring into level six, which failed, so I figured the opposite would also apply.  So the full party death was completely my fault and I can't really blame Wizardry.  This revelation made me feel even worse about restoring from a save state.

But the fuck ups don't stop there.  I got a little item called a butterfly knife, which transforms a thief into the ninja prestige class.  Since Tetravus was a neutral thief, I was pumped to be able to use a class normally restricted to evil-aligned characters only.

And if you don't think the idea of a gnome
ninja is the tightest shit ever, then you 
need to get the fuck out of my face.

This class change turned out to be a huge mistake.  While he was indeed able to use better equipment and be a little more effective in combat, this was hardly worth it for the steep increase in trap-disarming failure rates.  I thought the ninja would retain all the thief abilities as well.  I mean, the samurai and lord prestige classes are just fighters who can cast a few low level spells.  So I pretty much couldn't explore and get loot along the way; I could only do one or the other.  I decided to skip doing loot and just gun it for the end.  Everyone in the group was around level 13 and probably not going to gain any more levels.  Just look at the screenshot above for some real crazy XP requirements.  Eventually while wandering about the labyrinth, I came across a statue which was just begging me to use the Neutral Orb on it.

Wizardry being uncharacteristically
obvious (or so I thought).

Attempting to interact with this statue just brought up the same battle over and over so I declared it a fake and moved on.  The second statue I found traded me for a different orb and I made my way back to the castle only to have nothing happen.  I thought perhaps I needed to take this orb back to L'Kbreth and then the game would end or he'd be the final boss or whatever.  I had no idea about anything I was suppose to do because there are no townsfolk to give hints or flesh out any kind of a story.  Without saying a word, L'Kbreth attacked the group as soon as we entered, but it soon became apparent that it was impossible to damage the dragon; Blade Cuisinarts couldn't cut him and magic always failed.

His breath alone does 20 damage.

Fleeing the scene, I realized that this orb was yet another fake and that I'd have to reacquire the Good and Evil Crystals to remake the Neutral Orb.  Thankfully, it wasn't too difficult thanks to Higgin's Malor spell.  Finally, after falling for every trick in the book, I found the for-reals-orb and warped back to the castle where I guess I won the day.

Okay, sure... what?

Everyone got a megadose of experience and the reward mark for completing the scenario.  The dungeon is still open for business and I think that the characters can still be exported back to the other scenarios as well.  Which would be cool if I ever wanted to play it again but frankly, I'm looking forward to long, long break from this beloved, yet hated, series.


August 03, 2013

[Game 039] Wizardry III (NES - 1990) (SNES Remake)

Translation by Aeon Genesis

And so the trilogy of terror starts to come to a close with this, the final chapter of the Wizardry saga.  This is my favourite series of games so far for both the palpable tension it generates as well as the hand-mapping it requires.  The tension, of course, rises from the difficulty that Wizardry is renown for and the beginning of the Legacy of Llylgamyn follows the trail blazed by its predecessors.

Result of the first two battles.

Resurrecting a level one character at the Temple of Cant costs 250 gold, which is beyond the party's means at this point.  With all the money they've received via resurrects from the previous two games, you'd think that they would just do a brother a solid and give a freebie, but no.

Cha-ching!

To make matters worse, when some of the other characters reached second level, all they gained was a single hit point.  That wasn't going to help their mortality rate so I decided to do a little early grinding to buff them up a bit.  Besides, I wanted to get the cleric high enough to be able to cast the Lomilwa (permanent light) spell.  I don't bother with the initially available Milwa (temporary light) spell because it would waste slots better used for precious Dios (healing) spells.  This was all for the sake of taking brighter screenshots instead of the murky ones that plagued the initial postings of the two previous games.

So now we can clearly see...
whatever the hell this thing is.

A few additional levels fixed the hit point problem.  It seems like the first level gained almost always gives a single point but it'll make up for it with a humongous increase by level four.

Riding the wave of massive gains.

Things got very smooth after everyone received their first HP boost (except for Higgins, but I'm mostly concerned with the fighters).  The fighters are performing very well in combat and Tetravus has an outstanding success rate of disarming traps.  This is, I'm sure, greatly due to the high attributes every character has.  Most have been through the first two games and had exceptional stats to begin with; a couple levels under their belt and a character's prime attributes are maxed.  Tetravus in particular stands out with impressive 18's right across the board.

Course, he's a gnome, so it's only to
be expected, because gnomes rule.

Just like Deep Dungeon II, this edition of Wizardry switches the traditional dungeon descent to an upward ascent.  Initially, I wasn't quite sure what the party was climbing up, though; there's a lake with an island found right near the entrance which led me to believe that this takes place outside.

Either that or the dungeon ceiling
is way, way higher than it appears.

The first level also has a fortress which is surrounded by a moat.  The whole thing takes up about a third of the map and the two ladders leading up are located within it.  These ladders don't lead to their corresponding grid coordinates on the next level so I'm guessing that the upper levels all take place within the fortress and that the map is just scaled up.  The moat always has to be navigated in order to get to the ladders and its guaranteed that there will be encounters with the dreaded moat monsters.

One part sea serpent, one part
chicken — ALL TERROR.

The moat monsters are easily some of the tougher creatures on the first level and made it very tough to get to the fortress gates and still have a reasonable amount of healing left.  At least it did until I did the aforementioned grind.  Then it was cake.  In fact, there hasn't been a single death since the grind.  I know, I know, I just jinxed myself.  I've got most of the second and third dungeon levels done but I'm anticipating that Wizardry will start shafting me pretty soon.  Since Wiz doesn't have a whole lot of variation in the visuals department, here's a compilation of some of the foes it has to offer.

I ground that Lomilwa spell
for a reason, dammit!