Saturday, 8 September 2012

Cadash (TurboGrafx-16)

Cadash TurboGrafx-16 title screen
As requested, today I'm taking a look at Cadash, on the TurboGrafx-16 console. This is a port of a 1989 arcade game of the same name, and looking at those flames on the logo I'm guessing it's mostly going to be about walking to the right and hitting things with a sword.

The intro explains that one day, in a time when men still co-existed with monsters, Baarogue the Destroyer appeared and began pillaging the land. Then just to make sure there was no ambiguity over whether or not he was indeed the main boss for this story, he ruthlessly kidnapped the princess of Deerzar as well.

Though he didn't kill her of course, that'd just be stupid. He's got absolutely no reason to keep her alive, but killing princesses is frowned upon by the video game villain community.

Wait, Baarogue, Deerzar? Next they'll tell me I'll be fighting the mighty Moobandit from the dark kingdom of Squirrelzard.

The good king specifically requested that four heroes should come to his aid and save his daughter.


AND...

It's only a two player game! Apologies Your Royal Highness, but it seems that even in the best case scenario you'd only be getting half the heroes you asked for, and unfortunately there's only one of me so it's actually down to one hero.

It works better this way anyway. One princess, one hero; it's video game tradition.

Right, it seems I have a fairly standard collection of D&D classes to choose from. There's the mighty fighter, the powerful mage, the indomitable priest, and the cunning rogue... oh wait, that's actually a ninja?

My first instinct was to go with the boring typical average fighter, but in the end I went with the ninja. The guy looks like he's wandered in from a totally different game, with his Ninja Gaiden outfit and his purple hair.

Oh and look, another RPG where I have to visit the King. Fortunately the game was decent enough to start me off in the throne room instead of forcing me to find my way here myself.

The NPCs around the castle tell me I can kill enemies for cash, then use my new found wealth to buy weapons and armour in the shop. It sounds like a fantastic idea, but unfortunately I can't find a shop in this castle. Not even a little gift shop selling souvenirs.

Well okay, obviously there's nothing here for me to do. Time to journey rightwards and slaughter the evildoers.

Actually, first I have an idea.

Damn, an invisible wall! Well, it was worth a try. Time to walk right and hit things then.

You know, I've just noticed how awkward this guy's stance is. The way he's standing makes him look like he's got an arm coming out of his chest. He's not going to do his spine any good walking around all twisted like that.

These enemies only take a couple of shurikens to kill, but they keep respawning as I walk around. And I can't help walking back over to pick up the money they drop, which just spawns more enemies. I just want one second of peace so I can jump this damn river safely!

Fortunately the camera moves to keep my character locked in the center of the screen at all times, so I can always see what I'm doing, and no one can sneak up on me.

Oh damn, I just got a level up. I guess that's my cue to stop wasting time and jump across the damn river already. It increased my max health, but unfortunately I didn't get a free refill.

I'd go back to town to grab some new gear and heal up, but unfortunately I haven't found a town yet, so I just have to make do with what I've got.

Arcade
Here's what the original arcade version looked like by the way. They've totally redrawn all the graphics for the TurboGrafx port, but it's basically the same game it seems. Though there's one obvious difference I noticed: this one has a time limit.

Oh, and four player simultaneous co-op. The King should be happy about that.

There, I'm finally getting across this river. It's a little trickier than it might look, because both the floating platforms are moving, and my ninja jumps around like he's Simon Belmont. I've got no control once he's in the air, save for spinning around to attack behind me.

For fuck's sake, these skeletons are going to strip off all my health before I make it to stage two. I was finding it hard to hit them, and even harder when they're on a slope below me, so I decided I'd just leap over them and make a run for it.

Unfortunately my ninja can't jump for shit, so now I'm surrounded. And I still can't hit the bastards.

And then I got to the spiders. These little bastards fire webs across the ground that stick to my poor ninja and sap his health. When his hit points reached zero, his reserve healing herb automatically kicked in to give him back 10 hp, but a fifth of a health bar didn't last two seconds against these spiders.

GAME OVER.

No seriously, I get one life and zero continues to last the entire game. No passwords, no saves, no checkpoints, nothing.

In the arcade version you can just keep putting money in to get extra continues. In fact I'm sure the game is designed to be hard enough to keep players dropping in coins. But in the TurboGrafx version you gotta do the whole game in one sitting with just one credit. So they basically don't want you to finish this I guess.

For my second attempt I went with the fighter, who wears no pants but proved to be moderately more deadly than the ninja. Or maybe I'm just getting slightly better at the game. Not good enough to dodge a combined attack by a volcano and a bat though.

You know, it'd be nice if one of the enemies in this game dropped some health occasionally. I only ever get bags of money, and these little purple bats don't even drop that. They exist only to make my life worse.

Cadash The Black Pudding has appeared
Uh, what? I'm fighting a black pudding? Sorry, THE Black Pudding?

To be honest this wasn't even a fight, I was just plain annihilated. I lasted 12 seconds, even with a healing herb in my pocket. The dreaded abomination just sat in the corner most of that time, spitting out bouncing blobs one at a time, and I barely managed to dodge even one of them. I probably would have done better if I'd come in with a full health bar, but those enemies outside are not easy. It's like the difficulty is balanced for two player co-op, and alone I don't even stand half a chance.

I knew before I started it was unlikely I'd finish the game, but I was hoping I'd make it past the first boss at least. I suppose I should give it a try with each of the characters before giving up on it though.


SIX MINUTES LATER.


Aha, it seems that the mage has a trick the others don't. If I hold down 'attack' long enough I can access a magic spell. Holding it down any longer starts to cycle between all the available spells, so it can be tricky to time it right, but I just managed to summon a spinning array of swords!

YES! I actually did it! I tore the bastard apart with a couple of swirling daggers and... oh shit, he got me too. But I was so close that time.


LATER.


It took a few tries, but I eventually made it through the boss fight intact. In the next room I found a depressing old man who told me it was just going to get harder from now on, guarding a sinister looking portal.

Punching the man wasn't an option, so I dived into the mysterious portal, with no clue where it would take me.

Oh, turns out the portal opens up into some poor woman's bedroom. Uh, sorry about that, I'll just see myself out.

Also, you two should probably think about putting some boards up over it or something because I'm pretty sure a pissed off army of skeletons is right behind me.

It turns out the house was in a town! So the first thing I did was find a place to spend my hard earned cash on a cool new cloak. Not sure if it's any better than my last one, the shop screen didn't bother to say, but it definitely looks more... brown.

Oh wait, actually the first thing I did was run to the inn and get my health refilled. Now I've got a full health bar I might actually stand a chance.

For some reason I have to go to the tool shop to buy herbs and antidotes. The herbs only heal a pathetic 10 hp, and I can only hold a limited amount of them, but at that price I think I'll stock up with everything I can carry. 

The healing herbs cost 10 times as much in the Genesis game, but then that version has extra lives for sale for 800, so I think it's still coming out ahead.

Damn, even the floor hates me on this level. Fortunately I've noticed that I always get knocked backwards when I'm hit, no matter which direction I'm attacked. So if I face the way I came from, they'll punch me right over to where I want to be. It's not a perfect plan and I'll lose a lot of health doing it but let's face it, I'm crap at the game so I was going to get hit anyway. Might as well twist it to my advantage.

Oh fuck, you've got to be shitting me. The dungeon ends in a locked door, and I don't have the key. Now I've got to backtrack all the way though this dungeon with 6hp and search for it.

It's times like this that I'm glad I have a full inventory of health herbs. They may only heal a pathetic amount of health, but with a pocket full of them they'll keep me alive long enough to run away. The trick is to make more money each run than I'm losing on herbs, and have 100 coins left over for the inn.


FIVE MINUTES OF SEARCHING LATER.


I eventually went back to town to heal up, and turns out that the key was actually sitting there in a house all along. Laughing at me.

Aw, ain't that the cutest lil kraken you ever saw? I'm sure I'm supposed to be dodging his attacks and hitting his tentacles when I have the chance, but screw that. I'm just going to stand right here and spam my magic blade attack until one of us runs out of health.

Oh, in case you're wondering, no that isn't the missing princess, and no the kraken didn't tie her up. She's a poor innocent villager sacrificed by the others to save themselves. I had to listen to the whole story before they'd let me have the key to get in here.

The girl's a mermaid! Didn't see that coming. It's also incredibly fortunate for me, because she gave me an item that lets me breathe underwater. Without it I'd be trapped in this section of the dungeon forever. Funny how that all worked out in the end.

If you're wondering how the mage manages to swim with that huge heavy cloak on, the answer is... he doesn't. Moving underwater is exactly the same as moving on land.

These little beholder crab bastards are starting to piss me off now. They take so many hits to kill and every time I get one of them, there's another one just off screen. The really annoying thing is, they're not even much of a threat; I can stun lock them by poking them with my stick, but I keep losing health here due to my own dumb carelessness. I'm starting to lose concentration now, and if I get my mage killed even once it's all over.


LATER.


The good news is that I found a new portal leading to the gnome village with only 10 hit points to spare! The bad news is that all the doors are gnome-sized, so I can't actually visit any shops. The inn is right there, and I can't get in! Bastard!

Genesis
Here's what the Genesis version looks like by the way. It's closer to the arcade version in some regards, but has darker tones. Plus it takes forever for it to transition between different areas.

The gnomes live above an overgrown cave, filled with giant evil vomiting plants... and harpies. Fortunately I'm getting new magic spells occasionally when I level up, so I've got a few more ranged attacks available now. The trick is to try to avoid getting hit long enough to fire one off, as it's not the most responsive magic system in the history of video games.

Arcade
Just in case you were dying to see vomiting plants in a higher resolution, here's the arcade version again. You can tell that the TurboGrafx game isn't an exact duplicate of the original, but it follows it closely enough to be considered basically the same game.

I finally got the shrinking potion to let me fit through the doors in the gnome village and at last I can buy the silver key! Though I had no idea I even needed a silver key, and I definitely can't remember passing any silver doors.

So I heroically stepped back out of the gnome village tool shop on a quest to find the silver door. I fought my way through creatures of stone and poisonous spiders, past evil harpies and a giant plant creature. I journeyed through every corner of this underground maze of vines and monsters and in the end I found nothing.

Because the bloody door I needed to unlock was in the shop the whole time. You can just about see it on the left side of the screenshot. Still, I got a couple of level ups from my pointless adventure at least.

There was a portal behind the silver door leading to a land that Baarogue (the main boss) had already gotten to. It's funny how every other place has like ten people living in it, but this town has thousands. Well, had thousands. Fortunately most of the corpses are minding their own business, and I only have to deal with the occasional stray zombie.

I tried aiming for the head, but it seems that these guys do their thinking a bit lower down.

Oh fuck! I fell in the lava.

Well, it looks like I'll finally be able to turn this off in a second or two. I got way further than I thought I would on a single life, but it was pretty obvious from the start I wasn't going to be finishing this game. In fact the only reason I haven't switched it off yet and I'm still boring you with screenshots is because there's no passwords or saves, and there's no way I could just quit after making it so far.
    GAME OVER...

Actually that was a false alarm. I managed to bounce my mage out of the lava by turning to face the other way each time he was knocked back by the damage. So against all odds I am STILL in the game.

Somehow I feel like the translators were getting bored at this point though. I've no idea if it has the same text in the original arcade version. Anyway, I've found an amulet or whatever that lets me talk to animals, so now I've got to go back into the labyrinth of skulls and find me an animal to chat with.

Down in the depths of the bone caves I came across a cheerful demon. He wasn't so happy after I zapped him to death with magical lightning. It's okay though, I met a dog along the way who told me he was evil, so I'm sure he had it coming.

I can't tell if the bosses are getting easier, or if I'm just getting faster at spamming magic attacks, but that was over in roughly five seconds without him even getting a hit in. And honestly right now I prefer it that way, because last I checked I still only have the one life here, and the normal enemies have been doing a fantastic job of trying to take it from me.


SIX MINUTES LATER.


Okay, two observations:
  1. Baarogue's evil fortress looks suspiciously like the King's castle at the start of the game.
  2. HOLY SHIT I JUST RESCUED THE PRINCESS!
Well as far as I'm concerned that's my job done, I'm going home now. No seriously, I'm walking off back to the gnome village to make sure I'm fully stocked with herbs and antidotes before I go any further. Fortunately the game designers had the sense to put the gate leading to the main boss right at the start of his castle, and then give me the key just after saving the Princess, so it won't be much of a walk to get back once I've finished my shopping.


SOON.


Well if it isn't the Dark Lord Baarogue, the final boss of the game. I've got a max level character, maximum health, and regenerating magic. Bring it.

Baarogue talked tough (and namedropped Carl Sagan for some reason) but I could have finished this fight blindfolded at this point. My mage is just too high level to lose. All my mistakes, all the times I got lost looking for keys, all the running back to the inn to get my health back; it all worked in my favour in the end.

And that's it. Took me roughly two hours to complete, which sounds about what I'd expect from an arcade port.


You know, I think out of all the late eighties action RPG platformers I've played recently (like Castlevania 2, Zelda 2, Battle of Olympus, Faxanadu etc.), this might be the one I liked the most. And not just because I was actually able to finish it. Okay fine that's exactly the reason I like it but still, once I got past the merciless early levels I found it had some charm to it.

The difficulty is a bit uneven, and once I had convenient access to a shop I found I was able to fly through the game. I think a talented gamer would probably find it getting much too easy for them, at least playing as the mage. Plus personally I found having only a single life to be more of a frustration than a challenge. With no saves or checkpoints, if I'd gotten killed halfway through I'd have probably just turned the thing off forever and that'd be the end of it. Hardcore mode is fine, as long as it's optional.

I get the feeling that this would be a more interesting game in co-op mode though, especially in the arcade version where you can have four people playing at once. And continues.



If you have any comments about my comments, please leave a comment in the comments box provided, thank you.

5 comments:

  1. Fun game.
    Thanks for doing the review.
    I had a feeling that you would enjoy this game.
    Nice that you gave it your "oops i somehow managed to finish the entire game" label which is only the 5th game for you to do so.

    If you play this with a partner, then when one of you dies, then the other player can resurrect you back in town. The other thing that I found was that yes, the early levels are a bit hard, but if you can grind out a couple of experience levels in the beginning, then the difficulty level comes down a bit. Also (and this may sound strange), but I've actually played through this game as a two-player game with two characters with only one controller. (The game will allow you to select 2-player even though you have no Turbo Tap and no second controller. The gameplay is a little different what with 2 characters being controlled with only one controller, but it does help you out with the no continue problem.)

    Now, I'm looking forward to your reviewing Magical Chase and Cotton: Fantastic Night Dreams. (A boxed copy of Magical Chase just sold for $3,206.00 last week!)

    ReplyDelete
  2. My request: Beyond Shadowgate (TurboGrafx-CD).

    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cool. I've added it to my list, though I'll probably take a while.

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  3. Great!
    Thanks again for this fun and informative site!

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