Excellent writing and game world aside, Stick of Truth's main attraction is the battle system. Similar to Super Mario RPG and the Mario and Luigi series, offensive and defensive maneuvers are amplified by timed button presses. Unlike those games, there's a lot more status-altering conditions, character customization, and tons of side quests. Long have gamers yearned for a Western RPG version of Super Mario RPG, and now we have it.
To be honest, I haven't even picked up a game yet today. My girlfriend and I went on a little shopping spree, stopping at John King Books in downtown Detroit. There I found a nice cabinet filled with various pen-and-paper RPG and board games. After seeing the totally awesome box of Demons, a semi-strategy game from 1979, and noticing the tokens were unpunched, I just had to own it.
Although the board's made out of some flimsy paper and the instructions are pretty dreadful, the game still rules. It's a really weird setup for a strategy game: you play as two magicians who have to collect a bunch of treasure across Armenia, fighting mortals by summoning demons. Some great games have involved demon summoning, such as Avalon Hill's Titan, Master of Monsters for Sega Genesis, and Dark Wizard for Sega CD, but this one is just odd.
|Up close and personal. There are no cool tokens in the game,|
but the demons have some pretty cool classes. These demons are
dukes, earls, marquis, kings, princes, and presidents.
Demons are summoned by making a dice roll based on the shield you have. You can pick any shield you want at the beginning of the game. There are six levels of shield, and while having a higher ranked shield takes money away from your final total, having one of the lower ones can cause your wizard to acquire curses. My girlfriend and I both immediately picked level 6 shield, so we both start with -75,000 ducats. Sharing the same negative amount, it's practically like we're starting at 0 anyway. Not a good sign when you broke the game before it started.
|Danton the Wizard cleverly evades a mere mortal.|
Mortals are the main antagonist of the game, approaching you if you ever get within six spaces of them. To battle, you need to use your demons to come up with a battle number. If I have enough monsters to make my stat a seven against my opponent's three, then I'll have a greater chance of killing them or forcing them to flee. You can also permanently kill the attackers with a lucky dice role, which is pretty gratifying to say the least.
Treasures are discovered by demons with the find treasure ability. You then roll the dice twice to determine which treasure you find, oftentimes on the other side of the board. When you do manage to reach a treasure space, you have to give up a demon to finally get the treasure, but only if your die roll is equal to or lower than the treasure acquisition number for that area. Getting our heads wrapped around all of these numbers and cross-reference charts became easier with time.
Game time is dependent on numerous factors, including what shields you have and how quickly you burn through the demons. Higher level shields lead to more demons created and more demons disposed. Once you've used a power, completed an attack, or just decided you didn't need them, the demons are immediately discarded and never used again. With around 70 demons, the game can end pretty quickly. Hopefully my girlfriend and I can get a quick game in tomorrow now that we've got a better grasp of how to play.
|I love punching out forty year old board game tokens.|
I crapped my pants when I saw this little treat. Ever since I played Wizard's Quest, I've been hooked on old Avalon Hill games. This is a copy of Alexander the Great, one of their classic military strategy games. I haven't played it, but as you can see, the tokens are ready to be punched out. The rule book appears to be relatively short, so hopefully I can jump into this one tomorrow as well.
Who doesn't love archaic strategy books? I like to think of them more as study material than anything else. Both are from Bantam Books: Official Sega Genesis & Game Gear Strategies and Ultimate Unauthorized Nintendo Game Boy Strategies. I still haven't read those Sonic books from a few posts back, which are the top spot on my Sega reading list. However, I also picked up some old aviation literature, so I might be busy perusing those for a while.
After leaving John King Books, we hit up the Russel Bazaar, a flea market in a practically abandoned industrial complex. I remember checking it out years ago. Back then, it was a real treat, with interesting vendors, tons of people, and a pizza place that sold Surge. Any place that sold Surge post-2001 is a keeper in my book. Unfortunately, it absolutely sucks now. There's no Surge to be found, barely any shops, and two shoppers: me and my girlfriend.
I picked up a few Genesis games for even less: Combat Cars, Sonic 3D Blast, and Superman. No idea what Combat Cars is about, but I've always needed a copy of Sonic 3D Blast to call my own. Superman is one of those 16-bit Sunsoft titles that nobody remembers. It's unfortunate that a company can go from publishing games like Blaster Master, Batman, and Gremlins 2 to garbage like Aero the Acrobat. Aero's presence on the cartridge itself is a testament to their downfall.
I hope to post details on the conclusion of Ultima: Quest of the Avatar and Alexander the Great tomorrow. Until then, I'm going to play the Stick of Truth some more.