Saturday, February 21, 2009

Day Forty-One: Random Nintendo Game of the Week!!

It's time for that not-really-weekly feature, the Random Nintendo Game of the Week!! (Not) Every week, we'll look at a random NES game via the magic people at Console Classix and give a brief summation of what we find in roughly half an hour (or so) worth of game play. So without further ado, it's the Random Nintendo Game of the Week!

Game for the week of February 21st, 2009:
The Magic of Scheherazade

Have you ever wondered to yourself how the original Legend of Zelda game might have looked if A) it had been set in Arabia, and B) it had royally sucked? I know I have. And I'm pleased to repeat that the answer can be found in the classic NES title The Magic of Scheherazade.

What's that, you say? You've never heard of Scheherazade? You know, the whole Arabian Nights story? You remember? There was a passing mention of her in Disney's Aladdin?

There we go. Now we're on the same page.

This game opens with backstory. (Awesome! So you're not guessing why on earth you're killing whoever it is you're killing the whole time!) Turns out that there was an evil sorcerer named Saboren (or something like that) who was going to conquer the world (or something like that). There was only one person who could defeat Saboren, and they failed. Rather than killing this challenger, Saboren took their memory and sent them to some other period in time. No way that'll come back and bite him in the rear later, right?

Then comes MAJOR TWIST/REVEAL #1.....the failure who apparently can't remember Saboren (or his kidnapped sweetheart--that's an Arabic term, by the way--Scheherazade) YOU!

And so that means it's up to YOU to stop Saboren, because apparently only you can.

Oh...and try to do it better this time.

And finally, this information is being given to you by a talking, flying, purple cat. I'm generally apt to believe anything a talking, flying, purple cat tells me. Then, this cat (named Coronaya) asks you if you will go with him to defeat Saboren.

And this is what makes the game awesome: You get to choose yes or no. (Shades of a fairly climactic moment in Final Fantasy VI: "Will you be our last ray of hope?" Select yes. "You will? Really??" Classic stuff) You'd think that a vote for "No" would be game over, but it's not. Instead, Coronaya just sorta asks you again. And again. Until you say yes. Lame.

So, now you're on an adventure. You walk around a map like in the old school Star Tropics game and talk to people. (Note: if you change the B button option from "speak" to "sword" you can also stab the people, but they won't be very talkative afterward) The people give you some incredibly useful information, such as "There is a demon cave somewhere. Saboren is in it." Also, they occasionally ask if you are going to save them, and you get another Yes/No choice, and again, they just don't believe you unless you say yes. They're good people.

Leave the town, walk around, slaughter Arabian bad guys, either with your sword or by shooting bubbles at them. ("What? No! How could you know????")

Here's where things get a tad confusing: despite the fact that you are fighting stabbity-stab battles on the map, you also occasionally get random encounters a la Final Fantasy I through X or the Dragon Warrior series. You can select friends to fight with you. At first all you have is the cat. He's pretty useless, and he died at the first opportunity, so then I was apparently lugging a dead magical cat with me since that first battle.

Lame points: in most FF games, if you've got a dead person in your party and you get a hotel room, they wake up refreshed. Apparently, you can not sleep off death in The Magic of Scheherazade. Curse the logic!

You also learn magic spells along the way. In my short trial run, I learned Oprin, Boltton1, and my personal favorite, Pampoo. Boltton1 is a lightning attack spell, Pampoo raises your HP (of course it does), and

Well, here's the thing about Oprin. The game drops very, very subtle hints about when you should use Oprin, such as a townsperson saying "You should use Oprin now" or Coronaya showing up on the screen (unless he's dead) to say "You should use Oprin now." It appears to make stairways appear, including one that is actually a time gate.

Oh, that's right, because Saboren sent you to a non-descript different time period, you've got to time travel! Apparently, time travel is a lot like getting flushed down a cosmic toilet. With a flying, talking, purple cat as your guide. (Of course it is)

I also got a genie and some mercenary troopers in my gameplay time. In case you cared. I could never bring my kitty back to life, because the guy in the mosque charged for resurrections.

Other quick notes:

There are shops, and the shopkeepers always charge too much money. But that's okay, because there's a "discount" option on the menu, and if you select it, the shopkeeper's face gets all sad, and then he sells it to you for half price. Every. Single. Time. Don't try to discount more than once per item, though, or you get an angry face and you have to leave.

At one point I turned invisible. Yeah. Somebody talked about eating a magic seed, and then I turned invisible. I got better, though.

Suddenly, and without warning, there was this TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN! It got very dark. And there was this strange humming sound like something from another world! Apparently, I was supposed to plant a tree at that point. (I found this out thanks to my handy Oprin spell after I had already planted my seed. Dad gum it)