Archive for February, 2012
For most of my game playing life, one particular genre has kept me coming back and captured my imagination, The Role Playing Game. Probably more than all other genres put together, whether the game is open world or linear, has a set protagonist, or someone (or someones) that you create, they’ve always been my favourite.
Back when my cousin’s house was the only place I could get my hands on an Amiga, one game in particular had a special attraction. Not just from the six-year-old me, but from both of my female cousins, my uncle and my Dad. It was called Faery Tale Adventure and it formed a very large part of my earliest game playing experiences. I’d describe it as a more ‘loose’ Zelda, but that isn’t really doing the game justice since Faery Tale was by no means a clone of the famous series, in fact I doubt Zelda would have even factored into the developers minds considering they both came out in 1986.
Unlike its more famous cousin, you’re not constrained to narrow paths and the game world is almost completely open from the beginning. The fighting system is also very different, and not being
done in single attacks the character attacks when the button is held down, and doesn’t stop until it is released. This is very handy when you’re surrounded by foes, which was very often! Three brothers in a small village must return a magical talisman to the mayor. Julian, Phillip and Kevin are controlled one at a time, and you only swap if one dies. Each brother has a luck score, which depletes when they lose a battle, drown or are otherwise ‘killed’. A faery visits you and restores your life, until your luck runs out, then you’re for reals dead and it is up to the next brother to finish the quest.
For a boy, the game was appallingly daunting. Death happened very quickly and often. The game has no level scaling and no real leveling system per se, so the monsters you meet as soon as you leave your home town (Tambury) for the first time will be the same ones you face almost up until the last few minutes. Instead of leveling, your current brother gains ‘bravery’ as he kills monsters. By killing monsters he gets more powerful in both damage dealt and damage received. This is a broken system by modern standards, since the start of the game is very difficulty, but the last 1/3 of the game is almost too easy. So easy, that once Dad and I forgot to pause the game when we went to have lunch, half an hour later he calls me in to witness an amusing spectacle. Four skeletons surround Julian, beating the absolute shit out of him but to no avail, he was immune to it. Also interestingly the weapons were making clangs as though bouncing off metal armour, but he’s always shown, wearing cloth and leather. I guess maybe he was so tough, his flesh had changed to some iron composite. A far cry from the forays outside the village walls by my cousins, which resulted in immediate death.
Another hilarious time was when we realised our ‘Vitality’ or health had increased to the level where we could just walk under the water to get to a distant island, so far a way that a day/night cycle passed. That Julian sure has excellent lung capacity. Oh and, when you’re starving the brother starts to twitch and not respond to your control input properly, fail to find a bed and he will eventually pass out. A full colour graphics game from 1986 and it required you to both eat and sleep! Avant garde or what!
My Dad and I finished this game in 1990. About a year after getting our Amiga and probably three years after playing it for the first time. I even wrote the exact date down in the ‘notes’ section of the hint book we bought. Dad still regrets spending $30 on that thing, but I think it was worth it. The hint book certainly didn’t make the game easy to finish, but we finally knew where we needed to go.
I was totally bummed when we finished the game. It left a big hole in my life, which Grade 3 maths homework simply couldn’t fill. My Dad came to my rescue, handing me three books saying, ‘These are kinda like Faery Tale, but in a book, you choose where you go in them.‘
These three books were The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, Citadel of Chaos and The Forest of Doom, the first three in the Fighting Fantasy series. I realised RPGs don’t have to be on the computer and my path to Dungeons and Dragons was confirmed.