as a sort’ve addendum to this review, i’d like to point out that i found a walkthrough, and even knowing where to go, what character to use, and the type of objects needed, won’t help you beat this game. It is that difficult. There is no way any kid ever has gotten to the end by himself.
Out of all the games I had for NES, I was very glad that I somehow managed to keep the instruction booklet for this one. Without it, you’re basically screwed. I read it recently and realized that the entire reason I could never figure this game out was that you actually had to read it before you played the game. What kind of idiot game-maker would make a kid read something in order to play his game? The whole reason kids play video games is so they don’t have to read. That’s like making someone go inside a Taco Bell to place an order to pick up at the drive-through window. Or course it goes without saying that I can’t seem to find the booklet right now (just my luck), after finding it was the original inspiration for this series of reviews. I didn’t write the review of this game just then because I figured I’d work my way up to this…. you know, use it when I ran out of ideas.
Of course, now I can’t find it, and wikipedia doesn’t have an entry for the game. I searched for it via google but it seems that its biggest contribution to mainstream society has been to fans of techno-remixed video game music.
BREAKTHROUGH! Just as I’m writing this, I found a site, on the fourth page of google results, with links to the sites that not only have maps of the “levels”, but the full text of the instruction booklet.
Apparently, according to the booklet, the goal is to destroy the dragon. You pick a character, and kind of wander around a giant maze… if you don’t believe me about the giant nature of the game, or it’s maze-like qualities, take a look at this map. Just to warn you though, my computer almost crashed attempting to load it. That’s how big the image is. It is insane to believe that any child would have any reasonable means of committing this map to memory, just by wandering around aimlessly…. in search of a dragon. And not just any dragon; a dragon that’s locked up in a cage deep within a giant underground maze of inescapable proportions. Of course according to the story, that you just have to read for yourself here, they decide to hunt him only after the dog, explain, aside from me saying that it’s a completely long-lasting game that involves lots of trial and error. In addition you have to save your game, which in this incarnation was achieved by going back to the surface where your grandmother would give you a code. The next time you played you could enter the code and start off where you ended. Of course, not reading the booklet, I again didn’t realize this.) you need to use certain people for certain situations. One member of the family can jump high, the other can move blocks, the dog doesn’t get attacked by the numerous mole-men, CHUD, and chupacabras or whatever, that live underground. Only the son can slay the dragon for some reason. The hassle in this is that you can’t just switch characters when you need them; you actually have to return to the surface. What a pain.
There’s also an overly-complicated system of special items that you take along with you, or can buy at shops which are conveniently located in the underground maze (along with inns where you can regain your health for 10 gold pieces. Not exactly sure how these inns stay in business, as it seems that their clientelle would consist mainly of the goblins and C.H.U.D. that wander around aimlessly underground, and I’m sure that they’re probably all broke). These special items are what you can use to beat the bad guys, who, in turn, leave things for you like bread, potion, keys, and gold… and of course, EVIL POISON, which looks exactly like all the other items, considering they’re just small blobs of pixels. These monsters really just don’t have it going on upstairs. If they all just carried poison on them, instead of bread and money, they’d win every time.
There are enormous amounts of treasure and items and “special items” that are so confusing, you’d need the booklet to tell you what you can do with each when you get them, and would have absolutely no clue how to use without it, or even with it. In the instructions, for example, notice the large section devoted to how to move blocks with the magic gloves.
Mostly, there just is too much to say about how overly-complex this game is on the whole. You have to navigate through this huge maze to find four crowns that will allow you to access the dragon, but you have to get the “Dragon Slayer” sword and then use the son, which means that you have to go back to the top, switch characters and then find the center of the maze to beat him somehow. Afterward, this is what happens… “After you defeat Keia the dragon, she catches on fire and burns and the rest of the family is waiting outside the dungeon and you come up out of the dungeon and you all walk home together then they stop near the door and wave bye bye at you.”
Doesn’t that sound like it’s worth spending at least 40 hours of your time to accomplish? They wave goodbye to you? At least Mario finally finds his princess, Scrooge McDuck finds all the gold in the world, Mario wakes up from his dream, historical landmarks stop getting stolen, Mario finds the Princess again… okay that one was a bit of a “been there” sort’ve thing, and kinda disappointing, but at least that game was fun, and easy to play. The only consolation here is the irony of a dragon burning to death, and I don’t know if irony is a good enough reason to spend that much time on a crappy video game.
This game sucks.
This game gets half a star for being way too complicated and horrendously over-designed. “Make a map” the instruction booklet says. Even with the actual map, I can’t figure my way around. You think my scribbles are gonna help me? Kids everywhere were probably so frustrated by this game that they threw it out their windows and hoped a 16-wheeler ran over it… ten times. There’s no reason to even be sympathetic towards the main character(s), because it’s not like the dragon is doing anything bad, he’s kinda just there, playing solitare or reading a book or something.
The half star goes to the designers for putting together something so ambitious, and so detailed that nobody had any clue what they were thinking. I have to give that kind of work something, for their good intentions. Unfortunately you need more than intentions to make a good video game. You need violence; the ability to trick people into thinking your game is easy, when three levels later it becomes really hard; and absolutely no brain power needed to play it…. and some cement.