Friday, 30 August 2013

Playing Along: Colonel's Bequest and Final Fantasy Legend

I guess this blog all began back when I discovered the CRPG Addict, which was followed by The Adventure Gamer and latterly the RPG consoler. They're all playing through a long list of games of their respective genres, starting from the earliest they can find. On occasion, I decide to play those same games at the same time. Sometimes it's a game I've played before and love, sometimes it's a game I played but never completed, sometimes it's just something interesting. In the case of the two games in the title, I'd played them both but never completed them (but got so very close).

First up: Colonel's Bequest (1989), currently being played by The Adventure Gamer.

Colonel's Bequest is an adventure game, which brings to mind Agatha Christie and other murder mystery writers of that period. Set in 1925, you take the role of Laura Bow, who is asked to join their friend Lillian on a visit to her uncle's mansion. The mansion is suitably creepy, located within a swamp, and filled with family members and friends who naturally all hate each other.

The mystery begins without any actual mystery, all you know at the start is that every person in the house will get a share of Uncle Henri's money once he passes (not sure he needed to drag everyone to his swamp mansion just to say that!). Of course there are a few exceptions: The butler, the maid, the cook and yourself will have no share.

After spending some time talking to the occupants, exploring the grounds and searching for secrets, the game really begins by dropping a body. Of course, it's up to you to investigate! However, once you try and inform another person of your grisly find, the body is gone (so I hope you'd already searched the area!).

The overall mystery over the killer is undermined quite a lot by the mechanics, which are far more linear than you might expect. The various deaths occur in a set order, and are usually found in the same location each time. You also have very little opportunity to actually do anything about it, even if your suspicions are correct, until the very end (when most people are already dead).

One of the benefits of this is that whilst the clues are always the same, and the secrets, unless you know where to be you will almost certainly miss things on a first playthrough. Only on multiple playthroughs (or with a walkthrough) will you fully understand exactly what's going on and why. It adds a certain longevity to a game which otherwise would be completed in a few hours.

Upon completion, you are told (in various categories) that you missed something, allowing you a vague hint that you should have overheard another conversation, or examined an item more closely. It's certainly a novel game, and proper sleuthing in adventure games is often far too rare. The game was followed up by a sequel, "Laura Bow and the Dagger of Amon-Ra" which I will no doubt play in due course.

Secondly, Final Fantasy Legend (1989), currently being played by the RPG Consoler.

World 2: The tower, a cave, a town and lots of trees.

Final Fantasy Legend isn't actually part of the Final Fantasy series, but was called this for the US version, presumably for the name recognition. It's a Gameboy RPG in which you create four characters with the goal of ascending the great tower in your world. The tower stretches into the sky, and supposedly reaches paradise.
Shopping in World 1: The items get considerably more expensive as you progress

On your way to paradise you find worlds controlled by four fiends. In order to ascend the tower you must fight the fiends and gain the four coloured magical spheres, which will open the door to the next series of levels. Each level gets progressively more difficult, leading to battles against those that control the fiends.
My late-game mutant, who has good stats but poor powers.

The most interesting part about the game is the character system. You have a choice of three types of characters: Humans, who have to pay for upgrades; Mutants, who gain new upgrades after battles; and Monsters, who increase in level depending on "monster meat" that you find after battles. The humans are obviously the easiest to use, but require a lot of money to buy upgrades. Mutants can be a better choice, but their upgrades occur randomly and may not be what you need at any given time. Monsters are definitely the weakest of the lot, due to only being able to turn into the same monsters you will face, and it being difficult to stay much ahead of the monsters you are currently facing.

World 3: Up in the clouds.

The gameplay is quite basic at times, but the variation between the worlds is great and while the plot is nothing to write home about, I found it an enjoyable experience all the same. The major downsides were the requirement for grinding (fighting lots of battles to gain money and experience) in later worlds, and also the ending, which wasn't quite what I was expecting.

Is this paradise? And who is the man in black?

The Final Fantasy Legend series was popular enough to warrant two sequels, which I very briefly played a long time ago. I'll definitely be playing them again, even if I seem to recall that they weren't exactly proper sequels (although that's par for the course for anything with Final Fantasy on it, right?).

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