Sunday, November 25, 2012

Hero's Quest: Come a Hero from the East

Is she talking about me in the first sentence or the second?

Note: As you continue to read my progression through Hero's Quest, be sure to look at the perspectives offered by The Adventure Gamer (who's playing as a fighter) and That RPG Chick (who's playing the VGA remake from a few years later). It's interesting to see the differences in the game based on class and version.


Day 2

As I headed north down the forest path, I began to suffer a bit of crisis of conscience. I mean, sure, I have no problem with stealing from the rich and giving to the poor--keeping a generous cut for myself, of course--but coming to a town beset by monsters, brigands, and curses and immediately adding to their problems by looting their houses...that seems a little evil even for me. I'm not going to return the money or anything, but maybe I'll try to restore the balance a bit with some more heroic acts.


I recalled that the healer had a couple of quests, so I knocked at her door. The old lady ushered me into a shop fragrant with herbs and chemicals, and I cast my eye about for anything valuable that I might not to return and liberate...No! Dammit, Chester! We're not doing that any more! (Anyway, it turns out that at night she bars her door from the inside. What makes the citizens of Spielburg so untrusting?)

I think I'll need about six healing potions to kill a troll, so this doesn't strike me as a very good deal.
 
The healer introduced herself as Amelia Appleberry and said she'd be happy to pay me for cheetaur claws, troll beard, magic mushrooms, and flowers from Erana's Peace. I inquired about her stolen ring, which she described in detail. The solution to her little problem seemed woefully obvious to me: she had a pet pterosaur who had a "girlfriend" living in the tree outside. Heading outside, I climbed the tree (scaring the female pterosaur away), crawled across the branch, and retrieved the ring from its nest (1).


Returning the ring to the healer, I was rewarded by six gold pieces, two healing potions, and a kiss--almost as good as I did in a night of thievery! Perhaps this hero stuff isn't so bad after all!

Although I'd rather have been kissed by Hilde.

I could see the castle to the north of the healer's, so I figured I'd stop there and ask about Elsa, Barnard, the Baron, and Baba Yaga. The gate guard didn't want to let me in, but he did tell me that Elsa had been carried off by a "large winged creature" that no one was ever able to find. The jester, Yorick, went off to look for her and never returned. The Baron sent guards to kill Baba Yaga, but they were all slaughtered. A few years later, Baronet Barnard disappeared and his horse returned with deep claw marks. Basically, this castle is having no luck at all.


After some persuasion, he let me into the castle, where I found the weapon master dancing about the courtyard. As I'm not a fighter, he didn't want anything to do with me (2).

No one ever wants to answer my stupid questions.

The castle guards refused to let me in, claiming the Baron sees no one, and they turned me away at the guard barracks (3), so the only thing I could find to do was muck out the stables for a measly five silver pieces. At least it gave me some exercise.

It looked like I was cleaning horse manure, but really I was casing the place. Yeah, casing the place.

I decided it was time to visit this Erana's Peace I kept hearing about and perhaps finally fight an enemy or two along the way. The book said that's what heroes do. I had heard it was north of the town, so I skirted a path slightly to the east of the healer's hut and the castle.

It wasn't long before a goblin discovered me wandering through the forest and attacked me. I had time to get off one of my new flame dart spells before he closed in melee range. After that, it was just me, my dagger, and my reflexes. He died after a few thrusts. I spent a few moments staring over the corpse of my first slain foe, and then I looted it. He was carrying a measly three silver pieces.

Ugly little bastard.

As I wandered through the forest, I couldn't help but envison any number of scenarios in which I was attacked by creatures more difficult than the goblin: bandits, sauruses, cheetaurs, mantrays, trolls. In all of these brief fantasies, I lay broken and bleeding on the forest floor, and it was only through some effort that I forced my mind to "restore" itself to the present (4).

I didn't actually fight a bandit. I just imagined I did.

I came to a craggy cul-de-sac in which a group of odd plants were spitting some kind of seed at each other. I climbed up on the rock next to one of them and caught the seed the next time it was spit that way. Looking carefully at it, I deduced it was the "seed of the spore-spitting spirea." I have no idea what I'm going to do with it. I just wanted it (5).

I hope this seed is somehow necessary to save the valley. Otherwise, this was a bit of a dick move on my part.

After a little more exploration, I came to the area that must be Erana's Peace. It was a beautiful flowered glade whose tree held the most succulent fruit. I don't know who this Erana is, but she can make one heck of a glade (6). A saurus that had been chasing me wouldn't even come in! I picked some flowers for Amelia.

I wonder if I'll ever get to meet this "Erana" some day.

By this time, it was mid-afternoon, and I decided to return to Spielburg lest I get caught out in the middle of the night. On the way back, I killed a second goblin and spoke briefly to Hilde's father, Heinrich, who was planting crops on the north side of the town (7). He related that he'd been attacked by brigands a few months ago and the marauders had broken his leg, but--astonishingly--the leader stopped them from killing him, ordered them not to kill anyone from the town, carried the wounded centaur to the healer's, and gave him a healing potion. Whoever this brigand leader is, he seems to care about the town. Could it be the missing Barnard von Spielburg?

"Boy, I'll say she...you know, I'll just be going."

Back in town, I had a glass of ale at the bar, then another at the inn before turning in for the night. It was a refreshing sleep after being up all night the night before!



Day 3

The next morning, it was time for some more exploration. South of the town, I came to an old archery range where I made a few practice throws with my daggers and increased my skills a bit. I wandered through an old graveyard to the west of town, but found nothing useful.


To the east, I was accosted by a frost giant who called himself Brauggi and demanded I fight him or bargain with him. Not trusting my dagger against such a foe, I asked about his bargain. It transpired that he wanted some fruit to fill his mead horn. As it happened, I knew exactly where to get some, and I was looking for an excuse to visit Hilde again anyway. Six bushels were enough to send him on his way, with a new "glowing gem" in my pack.

All right: Who studied alliterative verse in college?

Up a long and tiring mountain path, I found an odd house in which a gargoyle demanded to know my name, my quest, and the first name of Baron von Spielburg. I was pretty sure it was "Steffan," but the gargoyle told me I was wrong and dispatched me to the base of the mountain. The second time, he asked me who I sought, and I didn't know the answer to that, either. Poof, and I was back down the mountain. I resolved to come back later.

Okay, I had an extra "f" in "Steffan," but how did the gargoyle hear that?

East of Erana's Peace, I found a cave entrance guarded by a huge ogre. I couldn't begin to defeat him in combat yet, so I fled.


Another goblin fell to my dagger, as well as my first saurus!

Returning to the town in the evening, I found a fighter casually tossing a dagger to himself. He offered to sell me information for a price. I gave him a few silvers but didn't find is information very handy, and I didn't want to waste the money I'm saving up for a chainmail.


Southeast of town, I found a beautiful waterfall next to a cliff with a door. I filled a flask at the pool, then climbed up to the door and knocked. The occupant of the cave introduced himself as 'Enry the 'Ermit. The colorful character confided that the brigand warlock frequently visits him, and recently borrowed a mirror that 'Enry borrowed from Erasmus the wizard. It transpires that Erasmus lives in the house to the north with the gargoyle.

'Enry nearly knocked me off his ledge opening his door.

'Enry didn't seem to have a lot else to say, so I left, but on my way out, 'Enry said I was welcome to stay at his cave if I got caught outdoors at night, in exchange for a game of cribbage.

I didn't kill him at this point. I nearly did, though.

By now it was dark, and the town gates were closed, so I decided to sleep at Erana's Peace before heading back to Erasmus's house. The way was treacherous at night. I had to slay another goblin, and at one point I was chased by a cheetaur, but I eventually made it safely and had the best rest of my life.

There was a lot of temptation, but "never loot from someone who can disintegrate you" is kind-of a motto of mine.

This time, when I made it to Erasmus's house, the damned gargoyle didn't even ask about who I was there to see! he asked whose spell protects the town, which of course I knew as ERANA. I made my way through Erasmus's fascinating house (probably no chance of looting this place) and found him at the top of his tower, bantering with his rat familiar, Fenrus. In between bad jokes ("Is it true a monster can't hurt you if you're carrying a torch?" "It depends on how fast you carry it!") and sips of tea, Erasmus told me that he thought the bandit wizard was a "nincompoop" with no greater magic than sneezing powder. He confirmed that Baba Yaga placed a curse on the baron, but it can be removed with a countercurse:

Come a hero from the east
Free the man from the beast
Bring a child from out the band
Drive the curser from the land

"Does not reflect well." I wonder if that's some kind of hint.

"Come a hero from the east." I just came from the east! I've already satisfied like one-quarter of the prophecy! Although, come to think of it, literally everyone entering Spielburg would have to come from the east. But who else could the hero be? Abdullah the merchant?

I couldn't play his favorite game, mage's maze, because I didn't know all the spells (8). Eventually he got sick of me and banished me to the base of his mountain again.

I set out to explore and map the rest of the valley (9). The good news is, I think I found the bandit camp:

"Like a girl" doesn't even begin to describe how I was screaming here.

But the bad news is, there's no way I'm going in there. Maybe with a battalion of the baron's troops. Not that he has a battalion. There was also an antwerp bouncing around nearby, and I wasn't dumb enough to mess with it.

'Cause if I had, it might have bounced high into the sky and then come down and squashed me on the next screen.

In the far southwest, I chased a white stag into a small copse, where a dryad emerged from a tree and asked if I was "one with the woods." Truth be told, I think of the "woods" as what fuels my fireplace, and I spent more time in the forest today than in my previous 20 years combined. But when a dryad asks if you're "one with the woods," it's generally a good idea to say "yes."

So, basically my romantic options in this valley are a cat, a half-horse, an old woman, and some wood.

Get this: she wanted the spitting spirea seed! Imagine the look on her face when I pulled it out of my pack and said "here you go." She probably thought I was going to have to go and quest for it or something.

In return for the seed, she told me that if I was going to solve my quest, I'd need a potion to break enchantments, which involves flowers from Erana's Peace (done!), green fur, fairy dust, a magic acorn, and "flying water." Before she disappeared, she left me with the acorn.

Tomorrow, I'll have to try to find the rest of the shopping list, but I wish she'd told me who to use the potion on. A dispel potion actually sounds pretty expensive. I wonder if I could just sell it instead.

Notes and Comments

1. Climbing. This actually took about seven or eight attempts. As I've mentioned before, skills increase with use and practice. I had started with a climbing skill of 10, increased to about 20 the previous night when I went up and down the front gate of the town. My attempts to scale the tree (and my ultimate success) put me at around 30. Sometimes (although not consistently), attributes like strength and vitality increase along with the skill. Use-based skill development systems are still pretty rare in the CRPG world, but we saw it in Dungeon Master and The Magic Candle. The Elder Scrolls series will become famous for it.
 
2. The Weapon Master. If I'd taken the "parry" skill during character creation--normally a fighter skill--I would have been able to train with the weapon master for a fee. In a later game, I did that, and I found it very beneficial to my attributes and skills. But if I was playing a fighter, practicing with the weapon master would also increase my game score.

Fighting the weapon master with a different character who did take "parry."

3. The Barracks. This is an odd screen because I can't figure out anything to do here. Almost every other screen in the game that isn't just generic forest has some other puzzle-related purpose. If this screen has one, it eludes me.

4. Combats. Even though they ultimately get easy enough, combats are my least favorite part of the game. The idea is that you watch your opponent's movements and react with attacks, dodges, and (if you took the skill) parries. In reality, I find the controls so unresponsive that dodging and parrying don't really work. You can get through the game perfectly fine by just holding down the "attack" option. I admit, though, that this might be an emulator problem. I've had trouble figuring out the best CPU speed for optimal combat.

Incidentally, if the enemy is far enough away from you on the screen before combat begins, you have the opportunity to throw some daggers, rocks, or "flame dart" spells at him as he approaches. I've never found this to reduce his starting hit points by more than 1/4 no matter how high my "throwing" skill gets, but every little bit helps.

Throwing daggers at a goblin before he closes the distance.

Even if I don't like the combat mechanics, it's reasonably satisfying to feel my skill progression. The first few times I fought bandits, I died repeatedly. But after three or four combats against goblins, with consequent improvements to my weapon skill, strength, agility, vitality, stamina, and health, I was able to successfully defeat a bandit. From there, I moved up to tougher creatures. I think the cheetaur is probably the most difficult character in the game.

In the comments from my last posting, we had a brief discussion about whether the thief really needs to engage in combat at all. Technically, he could sneak or run by almost every foe. But to get a full score of 500, you need to give troll's beard and cheetaur claws to the healer, which means that you have to be able to kill both trolls and cheetaurs.

5. The seed. This wasn't a very hard puzzle. The mage's solution is, I believe, to catch the "Fetch" spell on the seed. I'm not sure what the fighter's solution is.

6. Erana's Peace. I think this is the only place in the game where if you rest for the night, all your health and stamina are restored. I took to sleeping here every night rather than spending money at the inn and getting less benefit for it. The only disadvantage is having to fight or flee a bunch of monsters on the way.

7. Henirich. He has become my arch-nemesis. His little farm is at a key crossroads, so I often have to pass through it. The game forces you to watch his little raking animation and acknowledge that he sees you before it'll let you continue through.

Every. Freaking. Time.

8. Mage's Maze. This is the third little class-specific mini-game. Thieves get Dag-Nab-It; fighter's get training with the weapon master; mages get Mage's Maze with Erasmus. Technically, I could have played it if I'd bought all of the spells from Zara, but since I don't get a score for playing Mage's Maze, I didn't see the point. CRPG Addict colleague Amy Lunitari is playing a mage in her video series, and it'll be interesting to see how she finds Mage's Maze when she gets there.

9. The valley isn't very large; I've included a map below. Like many adventure games, it's compact and easy to navigate; the length of the game comes from repeated visits and puzzle solving rather than large world exploration.

The totality of Spielburg Valley. Yellow highlights are places that I hadn''t solved yet.

I can't remember if any appear in the later games of the Quest for Glory series, but in Hero's Quest, the developers definitely weren't interested in navigation puzzles. There are no areas where north suddenly turns into east between screens, as often occurs in other adventure games. This means I don't have to fire up something like Visio (with lines between the areas) to map it.

I'm still enjoying the game a lot, partly just for the novelty of playing a very different sort of game.

31 comments:

  1. Off topic / unrelated note: Your RSS feed stopped updating after the Uukrul GIMLET.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know. It's something to do with Feedburner, and I haven't figured out how to fix it yet. Working on it.

      Delete
    2. I don`t have this problem, got all your feeds (before and after Uukrul..)

      Delete
    3. Maybe it's this: http://blog.brahm.ca/2012/04/obscure-fix-blogger-blogspot-posts-not.html

      What feed address are you using, Skirie? I'm using the feedburner/TheCrpgAddict one and I'm having the same problem as Gamma Leak.

      ... oh, I see. http://crpgaddict.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default?maxresults=10 does work. That suggests it is the problem mentioned on brahm.ca.

      Delete
  2. Nice map! Although you'll be updating it as you go on, I assume?

    Also, in my playthrough I've spent endless days grinding for money on the square you've written "bandit forest". You get attacked every time there (even when sneaking!), so it's a good place to go once you have decent combat skills.

    I've always found throwing daggers rather useless, especially since Flame Dart is much better, especially when levelled highly.

    Also, I always assumed that the Saurus Rex is the hardest monster (that randomly appears anyway, there are a couple of more difficult fights). It's also annoyingly the only creature that can run faster than you, and has no treasure!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That map is actually the entire game, minus some indoor shots that don't really need to be mapped.

      Yes, I noticed that the "bandit forest" produces unlimited encounters. So does the square labeled "goblin ambush," but for some reason throwing and casting doesn't work for me there.

      I've had the opposite experience with daggers vs. flame dart, but I haven't taken the time to increase my skill with the latter, so that makes sense.

      Delete
  3. The primitive combat is not a emulator problem. In fact the combat in the series doesn't appreciably get much better (unless you take the opportunity to use projectile weapons when enemies chase you).

    The QFG2 fan remake is the one with the best combat (quite a bit better than the others, because it has more movement opportunities and high level movement abilities). QFG4 has a half-baked (very half) 2d beat-em-up minigame. QFG5 is the nadir: the game has no different interface for combat, so the fighter is reduced to clustfuck clicking. As exciting as it sounds, especially since this game also introduces more than one opponent at the same time (unlike in 1,2 and 3, where they helpfully line up - 4 has no 'extras').

    Game could be quite a bit better with better combat, even a real time variant that is actually challenging, like Moonstone.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Still, to be clear, the combat didn't offend me mostly; it's just a reflection of your skills. If they are low you can be in danger, unless you are smart with your counters, dodges, parries and spells. If they are high, you don't even have to care, and click spam works fine.

      Delete
    2. This is why I rarely play as a fighter. The parry and dodge skills are near-enough useless. I just spammed them in combat to get to 100.

      I quite like the QFG4 combat though.

      Delete
    3. I also liked QFG4 combat a lot; but I haven't played the QFG2 remake (yet). Agreed that QFG5 was awful, awful combat.

      Delete
    4. I'll look forward to seeing how it evolves.

      As a raw representation of typical CRPG development, it actually performs quite well. What I mean is, you start off barely being able to defeat a goblin, but after you grind against some goblins, you can defeat a bandit. Grind against some bandits, you can defeat the ogre, and so forth, all the way up to the minotaur guarding the bandit's fortress. But I agree with Andy that the only skill that seems to matter is "weapon use," along with associated attributes like strength and agility.

      I'm hard-pressed to think of any other CRPGs I've played so far that featured a) action combat based on attributes, and b) the ability to do more than just attack. By introducing parrying and dodging, the developers were breaking new ground here. Not that it makes it particularly fun now, of course.

      Delete
  4. BTW, Erana's places are more powerful than you might think.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cryptic. With the one in this game, I've found that:

      A) Monsters don't enter
      B) If you sleep there, you get all your hit points and spell points restored
      C) There's a spell concealed under the rock
      D) The fruit takes place of a ration for one day.

      Is there something else, too?

      Delete
    2. The flowers (which you can sell to the healer, and I think you can even eat them).

      Delete
    3. Yes. I should have mentioned that. You need those to win the game. But no, it doesn't appear you can eat them in this version. It just says, "Ugh. You don't want to eat THAT."

      Delete
    4. Oh. I just GOT the ramifications of finding that spell. Early in the game, the player is told that Erana's Peace is "Erana's final resting place." The large stone is clearly meant to be her grave stone. But a mage with an "open" spell moves the stone and finds no body--just a "calm" spell, which is a version of the spell that makes the town and the grove peaceful. So she's not buried there after all and may actually be alive. That's the problem with having played the later games; revelations like that don't quite strike me as hard.

      Delete
    5. *spoiler* then











      Erana's peace locations are very helpful for grinding because they restore all stamina points just by 'rest 10 minutes'. Since stamina is what get's consumed in most exertion before starting hitting HP...

      Delete
    6. BTW, it's very, very hard to level up the spells (each one has a casting stat too)...

      So it's very hard to depend on magic and transfer the hero (not impossible obviously), and becomes worse when you get more spells and if you fall back.
      But if you're going for the paladin, don't worry too much. Magic's handy, but it's not everything.

      Delete
    7. @Anonymous

      You only really need to get your combat spells increased any significant amount. The non-combat stuff can be worked on when you have the time/money, just to keep yourself at a reasonable level. (much like skills such as throwing and climbing don't need to be maxed out for the other character types).

      Delete
  5. 5) The fighter's solution pna nyfb or hfrq ol gur guvrs. Lbh whfg guebj fbzrguvat ng gur frrq gb xabpx vg bss vgf cngu gb gur arkg cynag.

    Mage's Maze is very easy. I kind of fumbled through my first time, read the rules while the game was going, and still managed to win.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, that explains it. I didn't realize "throwing" was a fighter skill, too. Actually, I guess it's supposed to be PRIMARILY a fighter skill since the fighter starts at 10 and the thief starts at 5.

      Delete
  6. I have never played Hero's Quest because I always looked at it as an Adventure game with RPG-style fighting mini-games. Addict, how would you classify it taking into account your criteria for CRPGs?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's what it's advertised as: a hybrid. It combines random statistics-based combat with the type of puzzle-solving that you typically find in adventure games.

      The funny thing is, I don't feel like it's particularly strong in either area. The adventure game-sytle puzzles strike me as a little easy, and on the RPG side, the combat, inventory, and economy are very simplisitic. Yet the fusion of the two creates a satisfying game. This is in part because the story, dialogue, and setting are very well done.

      But if you absolutely do not like adventure games, then this game probably isn't for you.

      Delete
  7. The Barracks. <- I have never found a use for this screen either. Perhaps the developers will tell us if there's anythingt they planned for this room that didn't make it.

    ReplyDelete
  8. You should be glad the gargoyle didn't ask you for the password to the Thieves Guild. If you answered correctly to that, he would teleport you back to the base of the mountain, cause they don't like thieves lurking in there.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Nice cameo from Rosella there at Erasmus'.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's the main character from Kings Quest 4.

      Delete
    2. There's actually loads of interesting nods to previous Sierra games on that screen. I expect Trickster will notice more of them, since he's played them!

      Delete
  10. You said in this post that you would find it interesting to see Mages' Maze in action. I posted this last night. This link skips to the point in the video that shows a game that I actually won. (That was after finally reading up on it in the manual.) I still made a lot of mistakes.

    After I had won the game, I was confused as to how I could then receive the Dazzle spell, only to find that I already had it. It would've made sense for Erasmus to have said, "Here is the Dazzle Spell!" Something to that effect. Ah well.

    Let's Play Quest For Glory I (VGA - Blind), Part 22: Mages' Maze

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's awesome. Thanks for sharing it. What a creative little mini-game. I almost want to play again as a mage just so I can experience that.

      He was probably so miffed that you beat him that he just threw it at you.

      Delete

I welcome all comments about the material in this blog, and I generally do not censor them. However, please follow these rules:

1. Do not link to any commercial entities, including Kickstarter campaigns, unless they're directly relevant to the material in the associated blog posting. (For instance, that GOG is selling the particular game I'm playing is relevant; that Steam is having a sale this week on other games is not.) THIS ALSO INCLUDES USER NAMES THAT LINK TO ADVERTISING.

2. Please avoid profanity and vulgar language. I don't want my blog flagged by too many filters.

3. Please don't comment anonymously. It makes it impossible to tell who's who in a thread. Choose the "Name/URL" option, pick a name for yourself, and just leave the URL blank.

Also, Blogger has a way of "eating" comments, so I highly recommend that you copy your words to the clipboard before submitting, just in case.

NOTE: Spam has gotten so bad lately that I've had to turn on comment moderation for posts older than 10 days. I apologize if it takes a little while for your comment to appear.