Thursday, December 9, 2010

Faery Tale Adventure: Clueless

I think I'm supposed to do more than just kill lots of people.

So my dying father, the Master at Arms, entrusted me with a quest to save the kingdom from an evil necromancer. And I really, really would like to do that. Real bad. But I just don't know how. This game world is huge, sparsely populated, and devoid of any clues except a few that have to do with the uses of various magic items. I've slaughtered countless ogres, goblins, skeletons, and phantoms, built up my bravery and vitality to epic levels, and yet I have no idea what to do next.

There are plenty of places that look like they ought to have stuff. For instance, the manual makes a big deal about how the land's champion, the Red Knight, has gone missing. In my wanderings, I came across the Red Knight's castle. Now if I was designing a CRPG--I'm just saying--I would have maybe put some clues in the castle about what happened to the Red Knight. The player could use the clues to go on some kind of mission--call it a "quest"--to find the missing hero and perhaps make the world a bit of a better place. I might even have these clues delivered by a computer-controlled character (call him an "NPC"; God, I'm on a roll) who could "talk" to the player. Is anyone writing this down?


Instead, the Red Knight's castle is empty, and so I move on. But at least the castle isn't the only exciting location in the game! No, sir. Here's a "Great Stone Ring" in which nothing happens, as far as I can tell:

And here's a crypt in the middle of a graveyard. I had to unlock the door and everything! But, true to the game's form, there was nothing inside the crypt:

The towns are devoid of residents except for the occasional innkeeper. When I finally found this beggar on a bridge, I wanted to kiss him. But all he did was tell me what green jewels do (they create light). It's like I started the game too late, the evil necromancer has already won, and I'm one of the last five people alive.

Now, granted, I haven't explored every nook of the game yet. The world, as I said, is quite large--the game manual even brags about it--and I'm sure there are a lot more empty buildings to discover. But this game, like Dungeon Master, has a fondness for the first level of Maslow's hierarchy. First, you get hungry, several times per day, and you need to buy food to stave off starvation. As far as I can tell, there's no way to carry food with you--you have to buy it and eat it immediately.

The world of Holm has never heard of a "doggie bag."

Second, your character gets tired. If you happen to have a handy bed nearby, you can walk on to it and your tired PC will take a nap. But if you can't find a bed for a while, well, old Julian will just decide to drop down and go to sleep wherever he happens to be. Usually, this results in some ogres coming along and pounding him to death while he remains in what is essentially a coma. Unlike hunger, the game gives you no indication that your character is getting tired; he just suddenly faints in the middle of a field.

Both of these factors discourage wandering off over the horizon to seek adventure, because you want to ensure you're within reasonably proximity to the nearest bed and food supply.

On the good side, I've gotten really good at combat. On the bad side, combat simply involves wielding a weapon and frantically waving it at the closest enemy until it dies. No real tactics to it. Each kill builds your bravery, which makes the next kill easier. In a way, it's a predecessor of the "action RPG" genre like Diablo in which combat is based partly on statistics but partly on how fast you can click--only without the interesting variety of attacks or quality of animation that make modern action RPGs tolerable.

Julian on a field of slaughter. The odd lighting is from the green jewel.

As I mentioned in my last post, if you die--something that hasn't happened in a while--a little fairy comes along and decides whether to raise you. The odds of this happening are based on your luck statistic. If it fails, Julian is permanently dead, and his younger brother, Phillip, takes on the quest. I assume that if Phillip dies, Kevin is your last chance. I thus can't quite decide if it's "cheating" to reload after I die, but I don't feel like building up another character from scratch. Whether the other brothers ever get a role in the game should Julian survive, I have no idea.

Finally, the equipment selection is a little lame. There are, from what I can tell, four weapons: dirk, mace, sword, and bow. There is no armor. There are a handful of magic items and sundries--keys of different colors, magic skulls that kill all the enemies on the screen, vials that heal you, totems that show you an area map, and so on--that you get from various dead creatures, sort of like Ultima II. The uses of the magic items are something of a mystery, but as we've seen, the random NPCs give you clues, and I've figured out others by just messing with them.

My stockpile of goods.

I can't imagine any reason to keep playing this game except the vague hope that a story will start to coalesce and the game will turn out to do something unusual and interesting with the ol' necromancer-taking-over-the-kingdom plot. I'm going to give it a few more hours to see if I can stumble on anything that has to do with the game's main quest. Hints always welcome.

Does anyone know if this game originally came with a map? I tried to search for one, but I only looked at it briefly before I decided it was full of spoilers.


  1. I was trying to remember earlier if the game came with a map - my vague recollection of the game is that it came in a big shiny box with no useful map or manual. The only thing I can remember is the feeble copy protection questions.

    I think FTA on the Amiga was probably one of those games where it's best feature was the pleasant graphics and sound which you don't even get on the dos version. If you're wanting to move on that's fine with me - it's not really a CRPG anyway.

    Regarding getting around I do know that you can move around more quickly later on by utilising a form of transport but I'd need to consult a walkthrough before I could tell you where to find it.

  2. My memory is worse than I thought. Here's a map

  3. Here's a (poor quality, I apologize) photograph of the map that came with my copy of Faery Tale Adventure (the Amiga version):

    Sorry for the poor quality, but hopefully it's decent enough to read.

  4. Keep the faith man. As I remember, the story does begin to unfold, and the annoyance of no direction is replaced with purpose and goals. I do remember wandering for quite awhile until things began to develop.

    I'm pretty sure the stone rings can be used later for teleportation. Also again, in time, you do get both a way to fly and a way to traverse large bodies of water.

  5. You missed a quest in somewhere you've been.

    Vague hint:

    Gvzr bs qnl vf vzcbegnag.

    Explicit hint:

    Unat nebhaq gur pelcg (gur bar lbh bcrarq jvgu gur xrl) hagvy zvqavtug naq lbh'yy trg n dhrfg.

  6. Love the blog...

    I had an Apple IIgs back in the day and I remember salivating over The Faery Tale Adventure. It was advertised in Apple II mags and I saw the Amiga version in a local computer store. I just couldn't wait! Sadly, it was vaporware and never made it to my platform. You've inspired me to go get an emulator and do this thing! I had nearly forgotten about this game.

    Oh, and by the way, some of you might enjoy our CRPG web comic called Hi-Res Heroes, primarily based on the SSI Gold Box games at

  7. I'm a late comment writer (I spend my entire life as a lurker), and I've been reading your blog now for about 2 months. When I discovered it, I had to go back and read from the beginning. Sorry I haven't been with you from the start!

    I too am a crp addict- my big difference is I rarely finish ANY game. Of my entire computer life (I started with a Vic-20, then a C-64, then a C-128, then an Amiga 1000, then an A500, then a series of pc clones to the present day, not counting the game consoles of which I own a PS1, PS2, PS3, Dreamcast, N64, Xbox, Xbox 360) I have finished maybe... 20 games. And the bulk of my gaming is RPGs of various and sundry.

    It's awesome watching you play these games, and I hope you manage to bull your way through all the ones you play. I was heavy into Faery Tale when I had an A1000 but, par for course, it was not one of those I finished.

    I hope to become a presence in your blog life now that I have left the comforting darkness :)

    Good luck!

  8. That's okay, william, I've been lurking and reading religiously too.

    Well, I *was* lurking... :)

    And where are all the other old-school RPG women?

  9. Hi, I'm a female gamer that's been lurking too. I play a lot of RPGs but rarely finish any. I've got a stack for PS2 that I'd like to finish but haven't yet.

    FTA looks pretty interesting, the sort of game that I'd find fun, except for having to go back to town to eat and sleep all the time. Hope you can finish! (Although either way, I'll probably content myself with reading the blog rather than playing it myself.)

  10. We should get a lurker club together, where all we have is a blank forum of waiting for everyone else to post first :)

    I am hoping that the delay in posts is 1) acuz he said he wasn't going to post as often and b) acuz he's playing FTA all the way through. I've been sorely tempted to start playing it on one of the emulators/ports, but I've been busy playing (everything else in the world) AND Starflight AND Phantasie because of the posts made :)

  11. I just installed WinUAE last night and started playing FTA!

  12. Let us know how it goes, Andrew. Hi, Reiko! Good to know that I'm not alone!

    It's winter break time for me. I'm thinking about installing all the Baldur's Gate games and mods and playing all the way through. I can do it in five weeks, right? Right?

  13. Maeralin, have you checked the mod guide for Baldur's Gate, and how to play the series in 2010? You'll have to search reddit's subreddits, but there are some awesome guides on how to mod the game to be an awesome 2010 game.

  14. Found it! I grabbed a stack of mods for it a couple of years ago but was distracted by school before I could really get anywhere. It's so good to see that the game is still alive. It looks like they've done an amazing amount of work.

    Thank you, William!

  15. I just got Planescape: Torment from GOG, and was reading about mods to improve that to maybe play it over the break. I've never played it before at all, but it sounds like people have done a lot of work with that too.

  16. O Reiko, PST is one of my all-time favorites. Just be aware: it's LONG.

  17. Oh good, someone's played it. So I just installed it and turned it on for about ten minutes this morning to see what it looks like unmodded. I'll install the mods and play for real probably this weekend.

    However! There's something I'm not understanding about the control scheme. I couldn't even get past the first room because I couldn't figure out how to use the key on the door. I have the key in inventory. I put it in one of the quick-use slots. I tried every combination I could think of with clicking on the key in inventory, in the quickslot, on the door, pressing U to dice. The game just kept saying I needed a key to get through the door. Help?

  18. So I tried again last night and finally figured it out; it wasn't the control scheme, it was the response. There are two doors, one of which I didn't see initially, and no indication of which one is openable with the key. All anything ever says is "open the door with the key" so it's really puzzling to not be able to open one of the doors and have no indication of "that's not the right door" or "that key doesn't open that door." The response is "you need a key" and of course I said "But I have a key!" I hope the rest of the game is clearer about things.

  19. Thanks for the hints, maps, and your patience, everybody.

    Jason, I was proud to figure it out with your first ROT13.

    Micah, I absolutely love the comic. I'll try to remember to reference it when I get to "Pool of Radiance." I'm really looking forward to the Gold Box series again.

    William, thanks for taking the time to comment for the first time. These comments keep me going (not in the past two weeks but, you know, in general).

    Maeralin & Reiko: I always imagined there must be female CRPGers, but I just never met any. Thanks for confirming your existence!

  20. Ah... the sequel is soooo much better.

  21. Another female CRPG addict lurker here!

    I'm currently catching up on the archives of this great blog.
    Good luck with your epic project and keep up the brilliant work! :-D

    I would definitely read this in book form if you decided to go that route one day in the future (The CRPG Addict: Volumes I-∞).

    I've never played through Faery Tale Adventure (although at some point a description on an Abandonware website did catch my interest). It doesn't sound particularly interesting at this point, but your writing is always entertaining.

    1. Welcome, Ocean! I think there may be as many as three of you reading my blog these days (though Reiko seems to have left me).

      I've been thinking more about book possibilities since AdSense didn't do anything for me.

  22. I feel so much better now. I remember "playing" this one. Neither my brother nor I could figure out WTF was going on. We actually had the box/sleeve for this game but I believe we had lost the manual or something else that came along with it. We were very young (9,10) and had very few games to choose from so we did try our damdest to beat them but this one was a cluster#$#@ from the getgo. I think we occasionally were able to have 1 brother last a few hours before he was slain and replaced by what always seemed to be a weaker brother. (I don't think we even realized each brother had a particular strength... if they even really do)I'm pretty sure we never got through even 10% of the main story line because we never had a clue what to do. I have never tried going back to beat it but i think my brother mentioned that he gave it a go again and was able to finally beat it. I don't think I would waste my time, even though it does bring back 'some' good memories.
    And the graphics on the C64 version were not quite as polished. It seems they have certainly surpassed some of the competition at this point.

  23. I beat this on the Sega Genesis as a kid, thought it was awesome. I had a fascination with Ultima-style 3/4 view RPGs and adventure games, I think I've played and beat every single one for a console system, and quite a few on PC. Faery Tale was always one of my favorites because it just dropped you in the world and you had to figure everything out yourself, it made the world seem that much more mysterious. Without the nostalgia factor though it's definitely got some problems, hah.

  24. Oh wow. Not knowing there was a map. Having the map would have made your life much easier, yes. I do not even understand; you have to enter text from the map as copy-protection when the game starts, so I guess you had a cracked copy (unsurprising, of course). I have had the map proudly displayed on the walls of several of my apartments over the years, though it is currently in art portfolio storage with my other ~75 CRPG maps, haha.

  25. I used to play FTA on the Amiga 2000. When I lived with parents, now I have on the Genesis and waiting for my c64 version to arrive in the mail. Man this game brings back memories of 25 years ago.

  26. When I played Faery Tale Adventure, I mainly played it as "let's see what's out there in the world" instead of with any particular goal in mind. I think it's almost built with that expectation, since it gives you so few clues, as you point out.

    Certainly with the provided map, finding stuff is a lot more achievable. And then the mild puzzles of "Where do I use this thing I found?" become pretty achievable as you guess that they get you into the whatever you found earlier.

    The quest/story is certainly VERY sparsely told though, and is more an assemblage of random elements. I never thought of it as an RPG back in 1990 when I played this, and there were LOTS of games that you would play without being sure what you were supposed to do or now to do it. Part of this was an artifact of piracy, but a lot of it was questionable pressentation and design.

    1. Problem is there's nothing really out there. Without a map there's no direction. With a map, it still takes a long time to walk anywhere. The quest/story is so sparsely told that it skips steps, or stops altogether at some points. This game should remain overlooked. Hopefully the developers made a better game for the second.


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