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A action-adventure RPG on the Sega Genesis, in the same vein as The Legend of Zelda, from Climax Entertainment (which co-developed Shining in the Darkness and the first Shining Force with Camelot Software Planning). Released in the US during 1993 ('92 in Japan) and although it wasn't what anyone would call a smashing success, it is fondly remembered and gained a decent sized cult following.
The basis of the story rounds out like this: you are Nigel, a masterful treasure hunting (some would say, 'thief') elf who is given information about a great treasure buried under an island from a fairy - who although, doesn't necessarily know where they are on the island knows that they have to be there, and a after a little convincing - the two buddy up and begin the quest. Refreshingly ...the story doesn't have anything to do saving the world; it stays on track entirely about finding the treasure first and foremost. Though accusations are hurled at The Rival that he wants the treasure to finance a war.
During said quest, you'll come across all manner of classic fantasy creatures...ranging from winged demons, talking...bears?, more fairies, not-so-evil-Wizards, skeletons, orcs, etc. The big difference for the time was the perspective; Landstalker plays out entirely in an isometric view (think of the basic viewpoint for most Tactical RPG's and you'll get the idea). The novelty of it is that it makes the core aspect of puzzle solving rather difficult at various times since you can't alter the angle at which you see the world. This would also make for some extremely punishing platforming...as Nigel doesn't leave a shadow (landing jumps at later sequences becomes mostly trial and error). As noted, the biggest chunk of this game is in a myriad of puzzles to solve in the dungeons, ranging from laughably easy to mind-breakingly difficult; the smoothness of control however still made gameplay quite fun. Oh, and the music isn't something to overlook either - this game had plenty of addicting songs.
The biggest draw of the story is a subtle atmosphere of goofiness. Nigel's more than a bit of a Chick Magnet - hamster girls, six-inch tall fairies and bitchy princesses just can't resist him. At one point Nigel's youthful looks cause him to be ejected from a building full of beautiful women despite being Really Seven Hundred Years Old - he then goes to a gypsy witch for a little Voluntary Shapeshifting, resulting in the appropriate appearance to enter. He gets a few Armor Piercing Slaps from his companion for his trouble - only to find out that the building is actually a ballet studio.
Alas, it was scheduled for a remake on the Playstation Portable, but was canceled for reasons unknown. It has at least two direct spiritual successors - Dark Savior (from Climax - for the Saturn), and Alundra (not in isometric view anymore, making it more Zelda-esque - but felt very much like it, from Matrix Software for the PSone, a company comprised of members formerly from Climax) and one Distaff Counterpart in Lady Stalker for its rival. Nigel and Friday were also featured as playable characters in the Sega Dreamcast game; Time Stalkers - alongside a smattering of other Climax characters. It also now available to download on the Wii's Virtual Console.
Tropes present in Landstalker:
- Broken Bridge Played Straight, Right after the first town
- Cranium Ride
- Day of the Week Name: Friday the Fairy.
- Exposition Fairy: Friday.
- Fairy Companion: Friday.
- Goldfish Poop Gang: Kayla and her two goons...they get into progressively crappier situations for their trouble.
- Guide Dang It: Happens a lot throughout the game, but a particularly jarring example occurs when trying to get into the second dungeon. The item you need to access it is found in a totally nondescript house and blends in perfectly among all the background objects. You're given a vague hint as to what it is from one of the people standing outside the dungeon, but it's still easily missable.
- Heroes Prefer Swords: Nigel uses only swords, nothing else - you get a handful of them throughout the game; each one better than the last.
- Interchangeable Antimatter Keys although only for the dungeon you're in. Seem familiar?
- Isometric Projection: One of the big features that set this game apart from other action-adventure games of the time...however, the lack of shadows and the control system made this problematic for jumping sequences.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Friday. Also Nigel.
- Noun Verber: The title.
- Stock Video Game Puzzle: Many. A hefty amount of which are Nintendo Hard.
- Temple of Doom: Quite a few actually. Complete with requisite crushing boulders to the point where they are obviously used for puzzles.
- Use Item
- Walk It Off: Healing Boots!
- What Could Have Been: The remake for PSP featuring a fully rotatable camera in a perfect 3D reconstruction of the original game... that was summarily canceled.