The Mega Drive pad isn't my first choice for pads, so Jewel Master immediately wins prizes for having completely configurable controls. And a sound test!
"Once upon a moment in time, there was a kingdom known to all as Mythgard."
"Leading his Dark Legion, Jardine was but a step away from obliterating the kingdom..."
Jar-diiiine! You second-rate Demon King! Why would you want to obliterate the Kingdom when you can take it?
Lazy bastards, waiting until the very last minute!
"Element Masters! Help us! Jardine the Mad has arisen!"
"Please! The armies of the Demon King are killing the villagers!"
"Jardine himself has killed the King and seeks to destroy the kingdom!"
"OH FINE. Can't get a moment's peace around here! *grumble grumble*"
"Pooling their powers into a Holy Blade, the four Masters prepared for the Final Battle..."
It was probably a great plan on paper until it came time to actually use the thing.
"Now that we've pooled our powers into a Holy Blade... who gets to keep it?"
This is all very Castlevania to me. My guy looks like a Castlevania guy and we've got Castlevania-like music blasting out at full volume (YouTube link). Feel free to listen to this while reading the rest of the post.
This game doesn't seem very sophisticated right now. It's like Altered Beast; I walk to the right, things jump at me, I hit them, and they blow up. The only attack I have at the moment is a very short range flaming palm strike.
I'd like to see one of those classic Castlevania guys do this...
Doesn't do much against a ten foot goblin with a club though.
* I grew up on the Amiga, where games looked like this.
This guy's tougher than the rest. I don't think I'm doing this right... my guy doesn't really seem to have the skills for this.
Oh, there he goes. And he dropped a ring. Yoink!
Give me a minute. Pause.
I can wear the rings that the enemies drop and they give me different spells depending on the combination I choose. And I can change these at any time? And I've got loads of rings left to find?
I'm a kick-ass mage with infinite magic and little patience!
Maybe I'm related to Petton Everhail from The Catacomb Abyss 3-D?
It's hard to fight things appearing from both sides, but the Jewel Master is agile enough to take on anything. And there's life pickups exactly where and when I need 'em.
What other ring combinations can I make?
Perhaps this Blue + Grey wobbly-thing spell isn't the best one to use on the ground monsters.
Git offa me! Git! GIT! I can't hit him! Argh! He's got me!
Oh, the gnome was a life gauge upgrade. Nifty! And it refilled it too!
Cue the boss music!
And he dropped a new ring! More powers for me!
More rings, yay! I love getting new powers!
Now I've got enough to have decent offensive spells on both hands.
Master's even got proper sprites for launching spells from each hand.
Yep. My second Grey ring lets me use High Jump, and when I'm done with it I can use it as an upgrade to my Fire or Water elemental spells. Nifty!
No, you're a life upgrade too! Cool! So I need to keep my eye out for anything that looks slightly out of the ordinary in order to rescue the elemental creatures to increase the size of my health bar. Okay super cool yes.
Time to rummage through my bag of upgrades and useful powers for the right combination for the job.
He's an oddity for a video game boss: as you blast away his individual bones, he gets weaker and weaker rather than getting faster and faster.
Now you're just a head!
And he drops another magic ring! Excellent.
I've just defeated a boss and got a new power! I want my health pickup, damn it! Where is it?
If I were a health pickup in an arcadey Mega Drive game, where would I be?
Also, guess what I haven't been doing inside this underground labyrinth?
That's right! No bottomless pits. No getting lost. No running out of time. No pushing rocks. And there was only one bat!
STOP SWOOPIN' YOU.
He killed me. There's no lives in Jewel Master, but there are continues. And I'm right back at the start of the desert. I don't really mind. It was fun the first time and I've kept all my rings and health upgrades.
With the screenshot gear aside, I can focus on watching the boss' attacks and can defeat it easily. Yet another ring is mine, and I'm off to the ice stage.
I haven't received a single password yet. It looks like you get 3 continues and that's it. You can't pick the number of continues in the menu like you can with a lot of other games, so if you reach the final boss on your last continue and he does something totally unexpected and snaps your head off, that's just too bad.
I suppose if this game had lives, it might become too easy. Or passwords. I guess that's why man invented the Game Genie.
Jewel Master is a really high-quality game that blindsided me with just how likeable it is. At first I thought it was a tedious side scrolling brawler like Altered Beast or Stone Protectors, but after finding out it was a more complicated platformer with magic spells, it won me over.
I thought the Sega Mega Drive was all about nauseating Special Stages, dying alone at the bottom of the ocean, and music that sounds like the robot holocaust. If this keeps up, the number of MD games I can stand to look at might expand into two digits by the end of the year!
Congratulations to... the completely anonymous developers who aren't mentioned anywhere on the box or ingame.