December 05, 2013

[Game 042] Deep Dungeon IV: The Black Sorceror (NES - 1990)

Translation by KingMike

Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww isht.  It's finally come to this; I've put it off as long as possible.  I dragged out Madara as long as I could and distracted myself with other retrogaming challenges but the fated day has come — Deep Dungeon IV has arrived.  This time the plot centers around revenge.  I will be playing the son of the mighty warrior Fred who helped slay the demon king from one of the previous DD chapters.  Let all that is evil and foul fear the heroic name of Fred!  The demon king had some powerful friends, it seems, as soon after his demise, Frederick was assassinated and all fingers pointed to the Black Sorceror.  Well, this son wants sweet, tangy revenge and so I am setting off in a quest to gain gear, companions, and levels while the Black Sorceror predictably waits for me in his tower or whatever.

Wow, my dad's friends actually have cool names.

DDIV's environment is quite different from it predecessors as a lot of it takes place outside.  Sure, it's just a dungeon with a bunch of trees painted on it but I appreciate having varied visuals outside of colour swapping some stone.

*deep inhale* Ahh, smell that fresh cedar air.

As is tradition for the series, starting off is hella hard and some initial grinding needs to be done.  Monsters only give experience points and treasure is only found in chests.  The chests regenerate after leaving the area in true DD fashion and can contain either gold or items (some items sell for mucho dinero).  Gaining a level results in a static increase in attributes, and generally only a single point.  Initially I was disappointed by the lack of the distributable bonus point system that Deep Dungeon 2 and 3 had.  My disappointment faded after finding many permanent stat boosting items while mining treasure chests.  These items are called sand in the game which I'm going to say is short for sandwich.  They only raise a particular stat by a single point but since the same happens when increasing a level, eating sandwiches is important to gaining power.  "Eating sandwiches is important to gaining power" has also just become my new life motto.

Mmm, I sure could go for a
Wisdom Sand right about now.

A striking, and most welcome, change in DDIV is how much more alinear it is than any of the other games.  I don't mind a game being linear when there is a strong plot to follow but with the wafer-thin stories that DDs have, might as well make it more sandboxy.  So far, half the areas I've discovered have been towns or villages.  Quite often two villages will be located right next to each other, saving on a lot of potential backtracking.  There's already been talk about Erick and Caliph, the two companions I need to find, and I've been ignoring most of the side quests in an attempt to get one of them but so far I've been roadblocked.

I'm pretty sure Caliph is just
behind this squished dragon.

One of my biggest whines about the previous games is the amount of non-interesting mapping that needed to be done and I'm super happy to report that I may not have to map at all for this one.  Whereas the other games had a map-revealing item with a radius of just a few tiles, Deep Dungeon IV more than doubles that as well as keeping track of which areas have been explored.

The sexiest screen out of any of the Deep Dungeons.

This one feature may well be the saving grace that prevents me from seeking out distractions but it's still a little too early to tell.  As long as the game doesn't start throwing huge level maps at me, I should be able to make due with simple line maps if need be.  Going it at solo is pretty tough since some monsters have a sleep spell, which pretty much guarantees a death.  I'm in the process of tracking down Erick and hopefully will be able to get Caliph soon after that.  I know the Black Sorceror isn't going anywhere anytime soon, so I can take my time.