Landstalker
Box Shot
Landstalker
Platform: Genesis
Publisher: Sega
Designer: Climax
Genre: Action - RPG
Players: 1
Published Date 1993
Reviewed by: 8-Bit Star

One of the greatest Action-RPGs in existance has to be LANDSTALKER! It mixes the action that made the first 2 Zelda games fun, with the ridiculusly hard puzzle elements of the PC Classic Eye of the Beholder. Unfortunately, it was overlooked in favor of more popular Action-RPGs like Zelda 3 (deviants!) but it's still better than any other Action-RPG I've played thus far!

You play as an Elf dude named Nigel, who just got back from treasure hunting, in which he recently swiped the Statue of Jypta (this has absolutely nothing to do with the main plot, actually) and, when he was getting paid for it, a small fairy girl (Actually she's a Wood Nymph, but whats the difference?) flew into his backpack, which she said was because she was being chased by another group of Treasure Hunters. Supposedly this fairy knew the location of the legendary treasures of King Nole. Now, King Nole was a filthy rich old soul, so Nigel helps the girl (who's name is revealed to be Friday), escapes those people pursuing the fairy, and they then set off to find King Nole's treasures, which are on the Isle of Mercator (for some reason, the box says "Melcattle", probably a bad translation). When they land there, they go through a dungeon (it just begun and the action is already heating up, that's good!) in which Nigel, in typical RPG style, gets knocked cnconscious. Fortunately he is rescued by Wolf people. Basically you go to towns and help people, and in return you get to continue towards the treasure (another interesting thing is that almost all females in this game fall in love with Nigel, while all males mistake him for a kid...what's the deal here?). Along the way, you'll find other people who are after the treaures (such as those three who were chasing Friday in the opening) but they usually just come by and make insults, and almost always get lost in story.

When you enter a dungeon, you might see the similarities with Zelda. Landstalker is more puzzle-oriented, but some puzzles are the typical flipping switches and killing off of all the room's monsters. But there are alot of puzzles in this game that, while they are reflex-oriented, I don't recall ever seeing in Zelda, such as flipping a switch, then running past obstacles before the door closes. Also, since you can jump in this game, many puzzle require accurate leaping techniques.

The music is pretty freakin good, though most of the early music is pretty non-hummable (it's memorable, however, it's been awhile since I heard it and I remember it pretty well). The overworld tune gets replaced with a better, more hummable tune partway through the game. The graphics are typical for 16-Bit RPG Style games, except their a little bright in this case. But it's no biggie except for the isometric perspective, which can confuse you and mess up jumps.

In fact, the isometric perspective may put some people off from this game. At first it makes controlling Nigel a bit difficult (since you have to move in all diaganol directions) but you'll get ahang of it with some practice. Other than this learning period and the general depth perception problem with a perspective like this, Landstalker controls very, very well.

Although it draws many comparisons to Zelda since it is an action RPG, there are still plenty of things that set it apart. You'll be resurrected when you die as long as you have EkeEke, which you can carry up to nine (certainly much more than the medicine or fairies in the Zelda games.) You can also gain up to 99 hearts, if you can find all of the Life Stock containers. Landstalker is a bit more RPG-ish than Zelda, however, as you rest in inns, and shops usually carry all the nessecities, such as EkeEke, but may add something new. Some shops have exclusive items (one shop sells armor, but ONLY one). But except for that one armor, most items like swords, shoes and rings must be found by exploration. To save your game, you must go to a church and give them the "Record Book". The churches also have some other books, mostly for curing stuff, but one church has a book that makes the screen swirve, but has no real effect.

One thing I like best about this game is the dungeons: they're HUGE! They're also puzzling. You'll almost never beat a dungeon without making a save, and NOT because they're hard )which, truthfully, they're not) but because you'll take so long in them, that it's impossible to complete most of them before your parents come in and say "Food's ready!". Most dungeons consist of uncovering as much as possible, then backtracking if you get stuck somewhere (Lord knows that the only reason I got stuck in some dungeons was because I missed a certain switch!) Unlike most games of this type, though, there are no puzzles that force you to restart at the beginning if you screw up, and missing a jump will usually only take away a little bit of life and force you to attempt the jump again (you can't die by falling down a pit.) However, most dungeons don't have a priest in them, so if you die in those dungoens, you must start at the beginning (the ones without churches close by are usually the easiest ones though, so it's no problem).

Overall, Landstalker is currently the top pick Action RPG, and another reason the Genesis is better than the SNES. It also wins the award for beating out Zelda 3. There is only one problem I really had with Lanstalker: the ending sucked. Other than that, get this game!