Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Chapter XVII: Mystical

One of the biggest life lessons that my cousin Walter the Baptist told me was: "when the first screen loads, always click first with the right mouse button". That "first screen” actually meant the crack intro, since we knew no games that didn't had it. The right mouse button was used to activate the cheat modes. And then it was that many decent games were ruined right on the day they were bought.

I don't know why most kids are so eager to cheat their way through games. Maybe because many of them are used to live on God mode, since all they do is play and boring stuff like laundry and cleaning isn't on their minds.

I do remember seeing my wife's younger brother playing GTA: Vice City some years ago. All the playing he did was activating some cheat codes and wreak havoc all over the city. One day I arrived at her parents’ house and i do remember seeing him floating through the air with some regular car.

I have to concede that cheating on these kind of sandbox games is reasonably more fun that the games we used to cheat our way through. But even so, I tried to make him see the light. That he was ruining some hypothetically memorable gaming experiences and that he would be sorry for doing so later on.

I wasn't successful. He just didn't understand what the big fuss was about. I guess most people just don't take videogames as seriously as I do.

There are many games that were ruined by the "right mouse button" trick. The first that always comes to my mind is Mystical.

I have no idea what's happened, but I think I just turned an enemy into a muppet
This is the kind of game that had everything he should to occupy an important space on my gaming upbringing (and its nostalgia be utterly destroyed years later, but I will leave that for further down this text). It was colourful, instantly playable and let us turn our foes to frogs. But finishing it on my first try meant it was instantly relegated to the dusty end of my disk case. Every once in a while I would pick it up and finish it all over again without any kind of excitement.

Why couldn't I control myself and first the right mouse button existed? I don't have an easy answer for that. I either respected Walter's advice too much, or going for God mode is something that is present in every kid instinct.

So now I'm going to play this game without any sort of cheat. After all this time I'm already used to disappointment, which means that it's not actually real disappointment anymore. Ok, let's go!

Right after loading the disk, i saw a chance for redemption. The much dreaded blue crack intro screen gave me a glimpse into a world of wealth and power. I chose right, i chose the left mouse button.
The game itself is confirmed by my suspicions and memories. It’s basically a reskinned shmup, which in itself isn’t bad. I like these kind of games, and it’s one of those genres that offer a timeless experience that is always appealing. This time, instead of a spaceship, we are in control of a monk with the ability to conjure spells. The game has also very pleasant graphics, with a humorous slant on it. If it looks French, it’s because it’s French.

The screen that separates boys from men
First impressions were good. While the controls are a bit sluggish, they’re tolerable, and after a while writing this blog i learned to accept some small nuisances. The power ups are imaginative and fun, and encompass a big range of spells like turning enemies into frogs or stone or summoning sinkholes to swallow our enemies.

While i was having fun for a while, the main shortcoming of the game started to rear its ugly head. Basically, the ammo, of should i say spells, are finite. I question if the designers of this game understood the main appeal of shoot-em-up, which is basically to destroy everything and watch all the pretty explosions. If having to dodge the enemies for much of the level because we have no means to attack them doesn’t sound like much fun, it’s because it isn’t.

Half of the game is like this. Avoiding weird and smelly people. Much like life

After struggling at the end of the first level i finally managed to beat it. After that, a new screen loaded which looked like a spell shop that allowed to me to finally equip my monk properly after all the suffering he had to endure. So i did buy the three-way shooting, the fire shield, and something that looks like a smelly cloud, which was probably farts. I was ready to wreak havoc like it’s supposed in a shmup.

No, there was something wrong with my magic wand. It’s still limp. Oh! Silly me, that wasn’t a shop but a copy protection screen instead. I did noticed that “Lin” and “Col” were some strange currencies, but who i am to question that in a game that allows us to shoot bats from a wand?

I excited I was when I first saw this...
In the end it’s a shame that this particular aspect manages to spoil an otherwise pleasant game. Maybe seeing the right choice between left and right isn’t that easy after all.

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