Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Brain Lord (SNES)

Brain Lord title screen
This time I'm taking a look at Brain Lord, which was requested a while back.

Judging by the name I'd say there's no way this isn't going to be a horizontal scrolling shoot 'em up. Or maybe one of those top view run and gun alien killing games. But then again it's got Enix on the title screen, who are famous for two things: RPGs, and more RPGs, so I'm not sure anymore.

Brain lord name entry screen
Aw, I have to come up with a character name? When I put this on I wasn't expecting I'd have to actually think of things. They didn't even have the decency to give me a default name!  

(Edit - I've been informed that choosing to continue without entering anything actually gives him the default name of Remeer.)

The game starts with a murky looking flashback to my hero's childhood, telling the story of how his dad just walked out on him one day because destiny was more important to him than raising his kid. So I'm guessing not a shoot 'em up then.

The dad really likes to emphasize certain words, and has a special fondness for the word Dragon, which he tries to throw into every paragraph at least once. He tells his son that he's heading off to find a Dragon at the Tower of Light, and if he doesn't return he expects the kid to train himself and go looking for it himself someday. What an asshole.

Meanwhile, in the present day, our hero has grown to adulthood and has travelled the land looking for the Tower of Light, to carry out his father's wish. Luckily the people in this town know exactly where it is, and the blacksmith has even put up a job offer in this inn offering tons of money for any dragon scales found there.

Whoa, I just jumped over the fence! Finally an RPG hero who doesn't take any shit from knee-high barriers. Also take a look at those graphics, this is actually a pretty nice looking game when it's not in a flashback.

I've decided to slow down and earn some cash for supplies before sending my hero running out of town to the Tower of Light, because even though he's stuck following in his father's footsteps, I'd rather not send him running straight into whatever killed the negligent bastard.

Whoa, it's a 'rats in the basement' quest (mostly)! You know, this cliché really hasn't shown up as often as I expected it to since I started playing games for this site. Also, very few heroes have had their villages burned down. Maybe I'm just playing the wrong games.

The NPC tells me she can't pay me for the work, but I can keep whatever's up there. Hopefully that means I'll be walking out of here with some furniture.

Hah, I'm getting a 100 per rat here! I don't know what that gets me but... oh right, it must be how much gold I'm earning. The game looks like a Final Fantasy style turn-based RPG at first, but it's actually all real time action.

Turns out I can't shift any of these tables, and they probably wouldn't fit into my inventory anyway, but there is a shiny treasure chest over there which must be worth something. Or I could just open it and take what's inside.

It was a Scrap of Paper. A fine reward for a job well done.

It does have a cryptic clue on it though, which mentions a hidden staircase in the Tower of Light. I think I'll hold onto this.

The village guard wouldn't let me out until I'd met with the to the King, the Elder, the blacksmith first, so I went wandering back through the town to look for him (bottom left house if you were wondering). But all the blacksmith says is that we'll make some serious cash if we go to the Tower of Light and bring him back some Dragon Scales. We know this already, we read the sign in the inn. That's the reason we were headed up there in the first place.

Oh right, also his father's final request was that he should go there and blah blah whatever. Fuck him, we're in this for the cash.

This is the only shop in town I've been able to find. They call it a 'tool shop', but I'm not seeing any hammers here.

I'm not a fan of this menu to be honest, it's about as vague as you get. I have to select an item before it'll even tell me the name of it, and that doesn't necessarily bring me any closer to figuring out what it actually does. Plus I have to sit through the guy saying "Anything else? It's all cheap, but good. What would you like?" EVERY SINGLE TIME I try to identify something.

Right, there's a cape herb, a barrier pill, a warp gate... cheese. I'll think I'll grab an apple and leave the rest for now. At least I can be pretty sure the apples give me back some health.

Barn (the weapons dealer) is hiding downstairs in the shop, but he's totally useless. He claims he's got nothing to sell, despite having shelves full of weapons sitting behind him. Well fine, if he doesn't want to take my money, I'll just take my business elsewhere.

Straight after leaving the shop, I run into one of the friendly NPCs I met down the pub at the start. Unfortunately the hero must have taken a vow of silence at some point, as he never replies to anyone. Not even to tell them that we found the arms dealer downstairs in the shop, so he can stop wandering all over town looking for him.

Well if I can't even help my friends out, there's nothing left for me to do here. The guard has stepped away from the gate so I'm free to take the northern road out of town to the Tower of Light.

The path is swarming with these one-eyed bandits, and I'm pretty sure they respawn. Fortunately they only take like three hits to kill. The hero isn't able to turn to face diagonally as he walks, but in this case it's not a problem, as his sword's arc is so wide that enemies would pretty much have to be standing behind him to not get hit.

Hey, I've found a log cabin. Not quite a tower, but I'm working up to that.

Anyone else seeing rows of happy pig faces in that cliff?

A heart? What the fuck? Oh wait, they must mean the 'health pick-up' kind of heart, not that other type you might expect to find in the basement of a creepy abandoned cabin in the woods.

I also found a Crimson Jade with a fairy trapped inside, which they forced me to name. So I called her 'Jade'. No clue what the fairy does though.


SOON.


I've finally reached the Tower of Light! Turns out it was only a little bit further down the road. I wonder how far his dad got before getting killed. I bet he got stuck on one of these floor switch puzzles, gave up, and built a cabin in the woods so that he'd never have to return home and admit he was a fuck up to his kid. And then he got eaten by one-eyed bandits.

The rocks can be shoved one space at a time, but a pushed ball will keep rolling until it hits something. And I need to get two of them resting on switches to open that door. I think I can do this.


LATER.


Shit! Spikes out of nowhere. They just shot out of the ground when I got close. Bit of an inconvenience that.

Oh wait, I see how this works now. They only come out of the tiles with little rectangles on, like that one near the top in the center of the hallway. If I avoid those tiles I should be fine. The trick will be avoiding them while fighting enemies though.


A FEW ROOMS LATER.


At least my inventory gives me a clue about what the items actually do, though it's still a little vague. Is that a permanent power raise? Do I have 1 power right now, and using this would raise it by two points? Oh fuck it, I'm just using it now.

Brain Lord status screen
Hey, now I have 4 power! No idea how much I had earlier. Didn't really plan this out very well.

I wonder what my fairy's name's doing up there on the left. I just left her locked away in her box all this time, but maybe I should see what happens if I bring her out.


LATER, ON THE NEXT FLOOR OF THE TOWER.


I've got two fairies out now, the grey one boosts my defence, and the yellow one flies around shooting fireballs at enemies.

Also I've picked up a ranged attack of my own. If I hold down the attack button for a second or two to charge it up, I can to fire off a magic bolt across the screen far more powerful than a standard sword swipe. I can even walk around with it charged up, ready to fire the instant I let go of the button.

Plus that's a save point over on the left, so I'm doing pretty well right now. Feeling pretty confident.


BUT THEN.


Bloody hell. A jumping puzzle with moving platforms over a void. Actually to be honest even this isn't so bad. The hero has a pretty reasonable jump distance, and even if I fall off, I just get teleported back to the entrance with a bit of health knocked off.

In fact the entire game's been really well made so far. The only real problem I've had with it is that I keep forgetting where I'm going and where I've been. There's lots of doors around, and some have locks I need to find keys for. I'm starting to think I should be drawing my own map.


SOON.


YES! I've collected a map. They called it the 'X-Ray Glasses', but that's clearly a map. A beautiful, awesome map. Well, okay it's a small and unmarked map, but I'll take what I can get.

Hey it's Rein again. I wonder if he ever did find that arms dealer. It seems the Warp Gate is single use teleport to any save point I've visited. So I can teleport back to town, sell my crap, buy a new Warp Gate, and teleport back to this floor. Shame it doesn't stay open for a return trip like the town portals in Diablo, but this is fine.


LATER.


I went home, stocked up on apples and anything else I could find. Then bought even more apples. And then teleported back to find this room waiting for me. The bloody floor keeps disappearing! I need to remember which blocks were still around when the floor fades out, then run to the next safe block when it reappears. While I'm being shot by arrows.

Okay, floor switches, moving platforms, disappearing floors, hidden spikes etc. I can live with, but this puzzle is total bullshit. It took me a while to figure out that these orange balls automatically throw themselves my way if I'm on the same horizontal or vertical line as them, and this... is absolutely irrelevant. Everything on this screen's irrelevant in fact, except for the treasure chest I'm trying to get across to.

You see the solution is... I have to shoot the chest with magic, and that makes the floor appear so I can walk across and collect the absolutely vital key. I had to look up the solution to be honest, because I doubt I ever could have figured it out on my own, unless I got so desperate that I started systematically shooting everything in the room.

Some of the other NPCs from the pub have been wandering around the tower looking for treasure themselves, and it seems that poor Ferris has close to had enough. Quick, tell her you've got the key you mute bastard! At least offer her a nice rejuvenating apple, you're carrying like 30 of them.

Nope, our valiant hero lets her believe that we can't get the door open, then waits for her disappear through a Warp Gate back to the village before opening the the lock himself. The git.


EVENTUALLY, AT THE TOWER BOSS.


The treasure on the top floor is guarded by a vicious giant bug that shoots lesser bugs at me. It seems that I can only hit it when it moves, and it only moves when I get close, so I'm trying to chase it around the edges of the screen.

I've given up on trying to hit all the mini-bugs before they get me, so now I'm just munching through apples, trying to survive long enough to take the motherbug out. Oh, so THAT'S what the a Barrier Capsule does. I think I've found the perfect time for it.

After three million hits, the bug is finally dead, and I step into the next room to finally get these bloody Dragon Scales, so I can return to the blacksmith and claim my reward.

Oh, you bastards. While I was busy smiting evil, the rest of the NPCs found a back door to sneak in through, and claimed the treasure for themselves. Well, even one Dragon Scale should still earn me a fair amount of cash when I get back to the blacksmith.

You complete and total asshole.


Brain Lord actually seems to be a pretty solid action RPG, probably one of the best I've played on the SNES, with as much puzzle solving as there is hacking and slashing. It didn't exactly capture my heart, but it rarely ever pissed me off either. The graphics are great for the system, the music is... not what you'd expect, (you don't often hear electric guitar in a fantasy RPG soundtrack) but I liked it, and I never had any issues with the controls. And I went right back to playing it after taken these shots, so the game's more than earned one of my little stars.

If you've played the game yourself and have a different opinion, want to request/suggest a game, or just want to tell me what a terrible job I'm doing, feel free to leave a comment!

6 comments:

  1. Kind of makes me want to play it...

    Awesome post :D

    ReplyDelete
  2. If you manage to beat the game you get to call yourself a BRAINLORD!

    Signed,

    a BRAINLORD

    ReplyDelete
  3. The hero and the jade faeries DO have default names: just enter a blank name, and you get it.
    Hero = Remeer
    Fairy in Crimson jade = Ifrie
    Fairy in Deceased jade = Kass
    Fairy in Light jade = Pazul
    etc.

    --- Abacos

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey so they do. Thanks for the info.

      Delete
  4. Incidentally, "Remeer" is equally spelled "Lemele" in Japanese, and these are the names of the old mentor in "Elnard" (aka "The 7th Saga") and of the hero in "Mystic Ark".
    All the three video games were made by Enix & Produce for the Super NES.

    --- Abacos

    ReplyDelete
  5. Never finished this game without a faq. In the Ice Castle, there's one of the more sadistic puzzles I found in a game. The messages over the game are great too, like in the underground castle.
    One of the greatest action games I played. Alundra is another, in the same vein, but done with greater quality (and lenght too: Brain Lord can be finished in about 3-4 hours, Alundra is nearly 50).

    ReplyDelete

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