Monday, 3 December 2012

Jewel Master (Genesis/Mega Drive)

Hi folks, I'm back!

Jewel Master Genesis Title Screen
We haven't had any Genesis games in a while, so I'm going to ease back into things by vegging out in front of an Altered Beast-'em-up called Jewel Master.

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."

"Mythgard prospered in peace until the first coming of the Demon King, Jardine the Mad."
"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?

"It was then that the Twelve Masters of the Elements rose up to put an end to the Demon King's evil designs."

Lazy bastards, waiting until the very last minute!

"Element Masters! Help us! Jardine the Mad has arisen!"
"Nah."
"Please! The armies of the Demon King are killing the villagers!"
"We're busy."
"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*"

"A fierce battle ensued until there remained but four Masters opposing Jardine."
"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?"

Bam, we're straight into the game!

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...

I'm jumping, moving and attacking at the same time! Yeah!

I've also got some kind of short range limited invincibility shield.

Doesn't do much against a ten foot goblin with a club though.

This is all very swish 90's arcade action. Everything's looking awesome*, with multiple layers of parallax scrolling for the castle, trees and clouds. As far as I know, Jewel Master was never an arcade game. And speaking of which, no time limit! Hooray!

* I grew up on the Amiga, where games looked like this.

Ow. My head.

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!

This isn't working. That plant can spit out these fire orbs and I can't get anywhere near it to use my flame palm attack on it.

Give me a minute. Pause.

Here's a fun fact. The very first time I played Jewel Master was on a cart from another region, which meant it came up as black and white on my TV. That made picking the rings out somewhat... difficult.
Huh!

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?

That's AWESOME.

Get outta my way, plant!

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?

BOOM. BANG.

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.

You! I don't know what you are, but you're getting a fireball to the face too!

What other ring combinations can I make?

Buh.

Perhaps this Blue + Grey wobbly-thing spell isn't the best one to use on the ground monsters.

I exploded some kind of rock thing on the ground and this bloody gnome flew out of it, causing the panic music to play!

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!

This is the end of the level and there's a tiger statue here... I think I know what this means.

Cue the boss music!

Stop leaping about! I can't hit you with this wussy wobbly Wave spell if you keep jumping over it!

I've got more than one trick up my sleeve, you know. Get ready for a surprise, you stone bastard!

I just made a tiger explode by launching fireballs at it. Now THAT's why I play videogames.

And he dropped a new ring! More powers for me!

STAGE CLEARED

Now I'm in a desert and the music isn't quite so good (YouTube link).

There's things jumping out of the damn ground all over the place! Carefully does it!

More rings, yay! I love getting new powers!

Now I've got enough to have decent offensive spells on both hands.

You're gonna get a right, and a left, and a right, and a left! KABOOM!

Master's even got proper sprites for launching spells from each hand.

The mystery door...

Whoever placed the health pickups is truly magnanimous... There's always a convenient fruit concealed behind a couple of enemies exactly when I think I should start looking around for one.

I'm stuck in a hole. Darn it. I must've picked up something for this...

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!

It's a fairy. Are you a shield? I could use one of those.

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.

It's a floaty skeleton!

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!

Boom.

And he drops another magic ring! Excellent.

I could really do with a health pickup right about now.

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?

Hidden passage in the walls. Magic. Love it.

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!

Where am I going now? These side-scrolling heroes must have an 'adventure sense' that simply leads them onwards.

Or directly into a horde of clay dragons and bouncing fireballs!

A phoenix emerges from the ground and he's not too happy that I've been exploding all his dragon buddies. He's even brought his own boss music! In fact, all the different sub stages have had their own unique music so far. That's really cool.

I'm using my lightning magic on the phoenix. Nobody can say the box for this game is inaccurate (Mobygames link).

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.

2 comments:

  1. The link for Stone Protectors is broken.

    ReplyDelete

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