Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Look Back - Crystalis

This one, as they say, is an oldie but a goodie.  A gem from, not only my childhood, but plenty of others, I'm sure.  In a time where RPGs weren't the norm just yet, and everyone's top-down fantasy-action fix was covered by an obscure little game called The Legend of Zelda, SNK had the idea to release a game that was somewhat a blend of the two, with a definite focus on the action and give it a (for the time, of course) deep story to tell over the course of it.  That game was Crystalis.

Oh, NES Box Art.  At least the creatures featured on it were actually in the game in some form.

The opening credits tell of a great war that ravaged the land followed by a cataclysm that altered the landscape indefinitely, mutating most of the wildlife on the planet to dangerous monsters.  That, of course, put an end to the war, since it most likely killed more people than the battles had, and the survivors put all their energy to building one last bastion of Technology and Magic, a giant floating tower in the sky from which they could purge evil.

100 years following, technology has become forbidden, though the ways of magic still prosper.  Life has returned to the norm; The mutated creatures still lurk the world, but the humans have rebuilt their civilizations and managed to thrive.  But they still knew fear everyday, and what's worse was that a man, self-titled Emperor Drygon had brought back the old ways of Technology and began imposing them on the world in an attempt to gain control of the Tower and use its weapons the hold the world at his mercy.

But there is one chance left for humanity; one that has slept endlessly to be awakened when he was needed the most.  And thus began the quest of the foretold hero.

The game starts as the protag emerges from this Cryostasis chamber and proceeds to explode through a cave wall.

What follows is a journey where our protagonist (you name him) sets out to meet with the Elders of the remaining villages for information on Emperor Drygon, with the eventual aim of defeating him.  Guided by their wisdom and entrusted with the relics of old, passed down through the ages, the four elemental swords, he meets many interesting characters along the way, as well as his partner in this mission, Mesia, whom he shares a link with that he just can't recall.

Our protag foolishly challenges two Tigermen at level one.

Back in the NES days, this right here was my game.  Everytime I think of those days, this is the one I think of first, simply because it's the one I put the most time into.  Hilariously, I've only managed to beat it twice; the other times I simply played for a bit and then ended up starting over again just because that's what you did as a kid with something you liked.  If it was a movie, you watched it over and over again and me, with games, I just played it over and over again, despite not finishing it.  This is largely due to the fact that once I got the Sword of Water and the Ball of Water, the game opens up dramatically, or at least, way back then it -felt- like it did, and I'd always spend more time moving about than actually making progress.

And even when I beat the game, I couldn't really appreciate the ending back then.  Unfortunately, I still can't, because, as I've learned in growing up, the ending is rather poor.  I won't spoil it here, of course, but there's a lot of last minute reveals that dampens the feel and throws all sorts of questions into the mix, and it's better to remember the game for the fun it offered; using swords to stab things and shoot Wind, Fire, Water/Ice and Lightning at them.  Also getting the Rabbit Boots and jumping everywhere.  Especially getting the Rabbit Boots and jumping everywhere.

Not flying.  Jumping.  Though, you did gain the ability to fly later.

It'll be hard for you to go out and experience this game yourself unless you look into less-than-savory means, (Or finding the Game Boy Color remake which is awful) so if you'd at least like to see the story of this game play out in a humorous manner, I can recommend This Let's Play if you're into that sort of thing.  Otherwise, you could, of course, search it out on youtube; I'm sure there are video Let's Plays of it out there.

Failing that, just take my word for it:  Crystalis was a great game and would be well worth your time if you ever managed to find it and an NES to play it on.  (Or a miracle occurs and it's put up on the Virtual Console at some point.)

1 comment:

  1. Oh, NES Boxart. Or really, SNES boxart. Or Genesis boxart. Goddamn.