Skyblazer

words manifested by: AJ Johnson

A game by Ukiyotei for SNES, originally released in 1994.

Title
Console
Publisher
Developer
Players
Year
Skyblazer
SNES
Sony Imagesoft
Ukiyotei Company, Ltd.
1P
1994


CONTEXT
Skyblazer was released in the U.S., Europe, and Japan (as Karuraou) at roughly the same time. The game was published in all regions by Sony, who would go on to debut the Playstation in Japan later that year.



Interestingly, the password input screen in Skyblazer is a ring surrounded by 4 icons: X, circle, square, and triangle. This is the same set of icons that Sony would use on its Playstation controller, although the configuration is upside-down.



The development of Skyblazer was done by Ukiyotei, whose only other prior credit was Hook, the Peter Pan game based on the movie that was released around that time (and to which Sony held the film and game development rights). Ukiyotei developed the SNES version of Hook, which was ported to the Genesis and Sega CD by Core Design, and was also released on numerous other systems.



Most of the Hook team was involved in the development of Skyblazer – including the game designer, programmers, character designer, and artists – and there are numerous similarities between the 2 games.


First off, the character animation between the main characters in Skyblazer (Sky) and Hook (Peter Pan) is very similar. Sky’s default speed is much faster than Peter’s, which can be seen as a design improvement, as it substantially increases the pace of the game. Both of the characters are “sky-based” and share flowing outfits and hair, and both characters share an odd JUMP mechanic whereby they will jump into the air, spin, and then spread their arms and glide down to the ground. Both games have dedicated flying sections as well, although Peter can earn the ability to fly within the game, and Sky only has free flight in dedicated levels.


The similarities move beyond the character design and into the world design, which features numerous bright and colorful environments, frequent use of environmental effects (driving rain, falling snow, etc.), and hidden passages that act as shortcuts. There are some similarities with the enemy designs, and Peter can earn a projectile powerup that is very similar in effect to Sky’s default magic spell. Also, both games dole out 1UPs fairly liberally, which help to make up for a few design shortfalls where the player may be killed quickly or unexpectedly.



PREMISE
From the instruction manual:

Before the dawn of history, in an age when great sorcerers walked the lands and mystic creatures abounded, the world existed in a constant state of turmoil and war.

The evil Ashura and his powerful warlords waged an eternal war to crush the Mystic Pantheon and stamp out the light of reason once and for all.

Eventually a great sorcerer, Sky-Lord, arose and defeated Ashura, banishing him from the realm forever. Centuries passed, cities rose and fell and eventually even the great deeds of the Mystic Pantheon and the evil Ashura passed into legend.

Until one day, a gifted apprentice sorcerer inadvertently freed Ashura from imprisonment. One by one Ashura began to capture and irrevocably transform the descendants of the Mystic Pantheon, making them his evil warlords.

As the last free descendant, you are Sky, set upon a quest to free the young sorceress Arianna and face Ashura in mortal combat to end his tyrannical rule once and for all.





CONTROLS



Jump


Punch


Use Magic


Cycle Magic Spells






MECHANICS
As the player, you control Sky, who is a sorcerer’s apprentice and a descendant of the Sky-Lord from the game’s backstory. You have been given the task of destroying Ashura, but you are not yet powerful enough to defeat him. As is typical of many end-bosses, Ashura makes an appearance at the end of the first level, challenges you, defeats you easily, and then mocks you while flying away with a distressed damsel in his hand. The damsel is a sorceress who needs rescuing, lest she be sacrificed to Ashura’s lord to increase his power.



The Old Man, your only companion in your quest to defeat Ashura, brings you back to his hut and revives you, adding another unit to your life bar in the process. The Old Man will fill you in on the story as you progress through the game, and will give you passwords to record your progress, all the while calling you a whelp and letting you know that you must continue to build your power if you hope to be victorious.



As an action-platforming hero, Sky has a fairly typical moveset. He has a variable-height jump with a maximum of about 1.5x his height. He has a 3-hit combo, which lets him punch twice, and then follow it up with a roundhouse kick. This also works while ducking and clinging to walls, where he will punch twice and then follow it up with a leg sweep. Sky also has the ability to crawl, and like Shatterhand, he can also punch some projectiles out of the air.



He has a powerful jumping spin-kick that is double the power of his standard punch, and which is quite useful against flying enemies and ground-based enemies alike. If he gets enough height on his jump, he can actually perform a couple of spin-kicks in a single jump, but this is rarely useful.



Sky also has a wall-cling move, is able to climb up and down walls at will a la Ninja Gaiden 2, and will automatically climb up and over the edge when he reaches the top. This move is pretty fast, making Sky quite versatile in vertically-oriented areas. While its necessity is limited in early areas, mastery of the wall-cling/climb move is absolutely required for survival in later levels.



In addition to simply climbing the walls, Sky is able to jump from them as well. This can be used to climb faster, jump from one wall to another, or to jump down from a wall. However, when jumping, Sky always moves away from the wall, so it can be somewhat difficult to maneuver if you wish to drop straight down. Also, Sky automatically clings to a wall when nearby, and does not auto-detach when he reaches the floor, so this can lead to some situations where you have to forcibly extract yourself from a wall. In addition, standing next to a ledge does not allow Sky to drop down, but rather he assumes an odd perched stance that appears to have no purpose.



The developers chose to embrace Sky’s “sky-ness” by allowing him to get a bit of extra distance out of his horizontal jumps – or falls – and by giving him a glide animation. This can take quite a bit of getting used to, as Sky acts differently when falling straight down, versus performing a “long fall” while pressing LEFT or RIGHT, and there is a transition between these two types of falls where Sky spins in midair. This is identical to the Peter Pan’s fall/glide in Hook, except that the glide effect in Skyblazer is not quite as pronounced due to Sky’s overall faster speed. This additional horizontal speed can cause you to accidentally run into enemies or overshoot a platform when you’re just trying to drop down (this is the same issue that Karnov has). Also, Sky takes a couple of extra steps after landing from a glide, which may cause you to overshoot your target.



The main thing that sets Sky apart from other action-platformer stars is his use of magic. While Sky will primarily let his fists and feet do the talking when it comes to dealing with enemies, he can also learn up to 8 magic spells, which he gains as he defeats bosses. This “gaining powers by defeating bosses” design may lead you to think that you’re in for a MegaMan-style experience, but this is not the case. Bosses are not weak against any certain type of magic. In fact, the situations that actually require you to use magic are few and far between, making the magic system more of a supplement to your punches and kicks. For the most part, players may opt to use magic as much or as little as they like.



The player has 8 units in his magic meter (referred to as Mystical Energy), and this limit does not change for the duration of gameplay. Each spell costs a certain amount of Mystical Energy when cast, as noted by the “X” that appears over the units in your magic meter. You may cycle through each of the spells by pressing the L and R buttons, and this also works when the game is paused, avoiding situations where you’re forced to cycle through multiple spells in the heat of battle. Each spell is indicated by an icon next to your magic meter.

Dragon Slash (Cost: 1) - this spell is the only one that is available to you at the start of the game. It fires a curved projectile straight forward across the length of the screen, and has 3 times the power of your standard punch. It has a large hit area, and can destroy multiple enemies in a single attack if they are all lined up in front of you. With its low cost and predictable effect area, it is very useful throughout the game.



Comet Flash (Cost: 2) - this is also a very useful spell, as it allows you to fly straight forward across the screen, causing huge damage to all enemies you hit, and making you temporarily invincible while in use. This spell is useful for gap crossing, especially when dealing with moving platforms and/or bottomless pits. The horizontal distance is much longer than your standard jump, and you can still adjust your trajectory once the effect ends (although you will no longer be invincible) so that you can line up a clean landing.



Heal (Cost: 2) - this spell is very straightforward, and essentially allows you to trade 2 units of magic for 4 units of health.


Star Fire (Cost: 2) - this spell fires projectiles in 8 directions, and is best used to defeat enemies that are surrounding you or swarming your position.



Time Stop (Cost: 2) - the ability to stop time has been used in numerous games through the years, and each developer seems to have their own interpretation as to how this power should be used… often diminishing its usefulness as a result. This is also the case here. Stopping time only freezes the enemies and projectiles that are on the screen at the time the spell was used. Scroll the screen further, and you’ll find that the enemies are active and alert. Also, enemy projectiles that are frozen in midair will still hurt you if you touch them, sometimes making it more difficult to navigate the area than if you had simply gone with a standard attack, or a Dragon Slash. Moving platforms still move while time is stopped, proving that they defy not only gravity, but time as well. And, even when you do find an opportunity to use the Time Stop spell, the effect only lasts a few seconds.

Lighting Strike (Cost: 2) - sends multiple lightning strikes down from the top of the screen, hitting all on-screen enemies.



Warrior Force (Cost: 2) - this spell gives you temporary invincibility and double strength. The effect only lasts a few seconds, during which time your character will turn yellow. This is useful against bosses, but it’s also one of the last spells you receive.

Fiery Phoenix (Cost: 4) - the final spell. This is what the Old Man has sent you after, as it is the only magic that is strong enough to fight Ashura. Casting this spell turns Sky into a fiery phoenix. During this time, you are temporarily invincible, but you also cause incredible damage to anything you touch. This will kill all non-boss enemies instantaneously, and is also a great way to whittle down boss creatures (but again, there won’t be many bosses remaining by the time you get this spell). The spell also grants you free flight, allowing you to rise up by holding the JUMP button. The spell only lasts a few seconds, and it will eat half of your magic meter when you use it, so it’s best spent when you can do the most damage.



Magic and health can be replenished by picking up potions, and 1UPs may be earned by collecting gems or by grabbing the “1UP” icon:

Small green potions restore 1 unit of health


Large green potions restore 4 units of health



Small red potions restore 1 unit of magic


Large red potions restore 4 units of magic



Self-explanatory (we hope)


Small gems are worth 1 point


Large gems are worth 10 points



Collecting 100 points worth of gems earns you a 1UP.

Potions and gems may be found throughout the environment, or as enemy drops that flash and disappear in a few seconds if uncollected. Enemy drops are random, and it is possible to get a gem, or small or large potion bottles. This can make health recovery a bit unpredictable, but all enemies and items respawn, so it is possible to mine the area for the restorative that you need. Also, once you get the Heal spell (received fairly early in the game), you can use your magic meter to restore your health meter. Of course, respawning enemies also work as a downside to exploration, since it’s possible to re-encounter a defeated enemy simply by scrolling the screen away and back, or by exploring a side room or alternate path.



You begin the game with 4 units of health, and you’re given another once you complete the first level. You will gain 3 additional units of health during the course of play, as you meet up with the Old Man in huts spread throughout the overworld map (more on that in a bit), giving you a maximum of 8. The Old Man can also give you a password so that you may resume your progress. There is no Game Over screen in this game; upon death, the player is dropped back at the most recent Old Man’s hut where he may resume without being sent back to the title screen or forced to deal with the password interface. Losing a single life will drop you back to the beginning of the most recent screen transition with 4 units each of health and magic, and using a password will return you to the overworld map.



With the prevalence of health and magic restoratives, restarting with only 4 units of each is rarely an issue within the levels themselves, but can make things somewhat more troublesome during boss encounters, where death will place you back at the boss with 4 units of health and half of your magic, and generally no means to get it back. Still, most of the boss encounters – and levels in general – aren’t terribly difficult, so this design is rarely too punishing for the player.

The Old Man will restore all of your health each time you visit him, and you will regain 4 units of your magic simply by entering a new level (or one of the Old Man’s huts). You are free to return to the Old Man between each level for health and magic restoration, but if you forget to do so, you will start the next level with the same amount of health remaining from your previous outing, and 4 units of magic added to your previous total. Since free health and magic are available on the overworld map at all times, it seems odd that the game doesn’t simply restore you to full health and magic between each level, rather than requiring that you backtrack to the Old Man each time, which slightly slows the pace of the game.



When you begin the game, you may be immediately struck by its visual design. The environment and enemies are very colorful, and the palette changes drastically from level to level. There are also several instances of scrolling effects on flowing water or sand, and many levels feature multiple levels of parallax. The standard SNES game generally has no more than 4 levels of parallax, but certain areas in this game have more than 6. These added levels of parallax give the game more of an appearance of a Genesis game (color palette notwithstanding), comparable to something like Mystic Defender. The first level of the game emphasizes this by placing you in the midst of a storm, with rain pouring down in the foreground, lightning striking the torches in the background and setting them alight, and clouds rushing past in the distance.



The opening area gets the player accustomed to leaping over pits of spikes, avoiding bottomless pits, falling, gliding, and wall-clinging, as well as the necessities of combat. In addition to full-size humanoid enemies, you’ll also find eyeball-covered living plants that spawn numerous crawling eyeballs that can only be killed by ducking and punching.



Interestingly, the game gives the player infinite lives within the first level (the life count is listed as “??”), so that he may experiment freely before entering the game proper. This was likely done because the player is not introduced to the password system until the end of the first level.

Once you complete the first level, you are tossed out into an overworld map. You can press the SELECT button to zoom out and see the entire area, which is made up of 3 islands. The first island is an entirely linear affair, leaving you to travel directly from one level to the next for the duration of the first 5 levels. You may revisit any previously explored level, but there is never a need to do this. You may also exit any previously explored level by pressing START and then SELECT.




Faltine’s Woods
This is the second level, which introduces trees and bushes. Unlike many games where you simply leap from branch to branch as though they were flat platforms, Sky will actually start to “sink” whenever he is standing on a bunch of leaves. This allows him to move upward by jumping repeatedly to make his way through the leaves and out the top, but this also restricts his movement while within the confines of the leaves.



There are enemies hidden within the leaves as well, and there are spike-spitting fanged man-eating plants spread across the treetops and wandering across the ground toward you. This level also introduces you to falling platforms and bottomless pits.





Temple Infernus
As the name implies, this level is a fiery temple, and you’ll be dealing with an assortment of flame-based and fire-breathing enemies, as well as pits of fire. Fortunately, fire pits work similarly to spikes in that they only cause a single unit of damage, rather than killing you instantly. Flames will hop up out of fire pits to cause damage, but they can be punched, or swatted away with your Dragon Slash.



There are also some exploding enemies that become activated when punched, and explode soon after, with a very large blast radius.




And there are some rolling spiked balls with menacing faces that can roll along floors, up walls, and across ceilings. These enemies cannot be damaged with your melee attacks, and can only be killed by using magic. They are quite fast and can be difficult to avoid, particularly in tight spaces.






Cliffs of Peril
The game changes things up a bit in the 4th level, which is a forced-scrolling free-flight area, but it is significantly shorter than a standard level. In this area, Sky is equipped with wings, and you can move him upward by holding the JUMP button. Sky also has the ability to fire projectiles from his fists when hitting the PUNCH button, making this level more of a shooter, although the reload time on the shots is pretty long, so you’re better off avoiding most enemies rather than engaging them.



There are plenty of gems and restoratives to be had throughout the area, but they can be challenging to grab since the scrolling does not always occur in a strictly horizontal fashion, but sometimes moves up and down at an angle. Also, you cannot use any of your spells in this area.




Tower of the Tarolisk
At the beginning of this level, you will be on the outside of a tower and must jump from block to block to ascend and to make your way to various doors that take you to more traditional side-scrolling areas. You will return to the outside of the tower several times during the level, and these sections are made somewhat more difficult by the fact that a single misstep could send you falling to your death at the bottom of the screen.



To make things even more challenging, some platforms will jut out and retract spikes periodically, causing you damage and pushing you back when you land on them, again potentially sending you to your death. And there are sections with narrow Wizards & Warriors-style expanding and contracting platforms, where you must time your jumps to hit them while they’re protruding from the wall, lest you fall.



Within the tower, you’ll encounter various challenge rooms and ram-headed sorcerers that summon highly damaging lightning from the top of the screen. You’ll also make several long vertical ascents, moving up through sections with moving walls that can crush you and kill you instantly, and platforms that can press you into walls of spikes.



And, at one point, you’ll be jumping from one tower to the next, across a series of falling platforms over a bottomless pit, all the while fighting off purple dragon-like creatures that attempt to fly into you and which shoot fireballs at you. In this case, and in many sections throughout the level, you’ll need to rely on your Comet Flash magic to make last-minute saves, and to cross gaps without taking damage.



When you emerge from the Tower of the Tarolisk, your next destination will be another of the Old Man’s huts, where he warns you that once you depart for the Eastern Plains, you will not be able to return. Since all of the levels have been completely linear up to this point, you’ve seen everything that the island has to offer. And so, you leave the first island to depart for the second, never to return again.



This transition takes place via a Mode 7 flying section, with Sky flying into the screen. As he soars over the landscape, he will start to encounter series of gems aligned in spiral formations. The odd perspective makes them a bit difficult grab, but once you manage to line up a few of them, you can essentially fly in circles around the screen, picking up multiple gems in a row. Since every 10 of these gems grants you a 1UP, you can use this as an opportunity to pad your life count (although infinite continues and respawning pickups make this largely unnecessary).



Eventually, the rings of gems will start to be interspersed with rings of spikes. If you hit one of the spikes, you will fall out of the sky, and the level will end. Other than preventing you from collecting additional gems, there is no gameplay impact in failing to reach the end of your flight. Even if you do manage to avoid all of the spikes, the section ends shortly thereafter, allowing you to continue your journey from the Old Man’s hut on the second island. And it is here that a bit of nonlinearity emerges, since many of the levels that follow can be played in any order.



When you leave the Old Man’s hut (one health unit richer), you will see that the path leads to 3 possible destinations:
  • Up and to the right is Petrolith Castle, which sits at the end of a dead-end.
  • To the left and up is another dead end, with a bridge containing a short transition level (The Falls of Torment), which leads to the Lair of Kharyon.
  • And finally, to the left and down is the path that you must eventually take, which passes through its own short transition level (The Sand Rivers of Shirol), and which leads to another fork.



Each of the levels is detailed below. Once a level has been completed, you may pass back over its icon on the overworld map without re-entering the level. Otherwise, touching any unexplored area on the overworld map will cause you to automatically enter the level.


Petrolith Castle
This is your requisite ice level. As expected, the ground is slippery, and there are plenty of places to slide off and fall into pits of spikes. There are also rising and falling ceilings that threaten to crush you if you don’t move quickly enough.



One odd bit of gameplay takes place on angled blocks of ice that slide quickly downhill when you stand on them. They will destroy any enemies they hit, but you won’t have much time to react and jump away before they crash into the spikes below. It is often easier to trigger them and then simply walk down the slope behind them.


Later, you’ll find pulleys and platforms, which are standard platformer fare, although not typically mixed in with an ice level. The floor is lined with spikes, and spike-resistant wolves run back and forth across them, which add insult to injury should you miss a jump and find yourself among them. Not that you’d be interested in standing to fight wolves on pits of spikes, but you’ll find the wolves to be tough to kill, and they take 3 units of your health when they do hit you, making them quite formidable.



You’ll face off against the wolves again later in somewhat less Indiana Jones-like circumstances, where you’ll have to fight them to proceed. They are far too fast – and cause too much damage – for you to rely on punches and kicks; it’s best to let them have it with your Dragon Slash.




The Falls of Torment
This is a very short level that you must pass through on the way to the Lair of Kharyon. It has no boss fight, and is made up of a single long area with no screen transitions. Here, Sky takes part in the age old art of log-rolling as he makes his way across a river infested with killer fish. To keep from falling in the water, you’ll need to keep jumping, and preferably avoiding the slime-spewing enemies that are moving across the logs as well.



If you do fall into the water, it’s not instant death. In fact, you don’t even lose any health from this. However, the fish will swarm you and will keep attacking you for as long as you’re in the water. Oddly, it is not possible to jump back onto the log, so instead you must swim to solid ground, wall-cling, and climb out of the water, punching the daylights out of any fish you encounter along the way. And yes, swimming down off the bottom of the screen will kill you instantly, but you’re in no danger of this occurring accidentally. This is a lesson that may only be learned via “experimental suicide”, to coin a term.



Half creature-half chariot enemies fire arrows from rolling logs and solid platforms to further impede your progress. If you do manage to die, you’ll restart the level from the beginning, but it’s not terribly long.




Lair of Kharyon
Once you make it past The Falls of Torment, you’ll be able to access the Lair of Kharyon. This is technically a dead-end, so once you compete the level, you’ll need to return the way you came. However, as mentioned above, you will not have to fight your way back through The Falls of Torment, as all previously-completed levels may be skipped on your return trip, and there is nothing to be gained from re-entering the level. However, you may notice that there is also a hut to the north of the Lair of Kharyon, with a boat parked at its dock, and you’ll probably be wondering if it’s possible to reach it. Well, it is, but not from here.



The Lair of Kharyon is a water level, and you’ll be doing a lot of swimming. The level takes place almost entirely underwater, and most of the level progression is done by flipping various switches – some of which may only be reached by using magic – that reverse the path of the current. The level is filled with alternate paths that loop back in on themselves, leaving you to deal with respawning enemies as you try to determine the path that leads to the boss.



As expected, your movement underwater is somewhat slow, but you can swim feely in any direction, except against the current. For some reason, you can still wall-cling underwater, and climbing up and down walls is actually faster than swimming, but you have to remember to manually disengage from the wall by pressing the JUMP button, since you cannot simply swim away from it.



Fighting enemies from within the current is difficult, since the bulk of your offensive repertoire consists of punches and kicks, which must be delivered at close range, leading to situations where you may accidentally float into danger while trying to attack an enemy. Given your freedom of movement, most enemies are easily dodged, save for the purple serpents that follow you wherever you go. These serpents are very difficult to fight with your bare hands, so it’s best to dispatch them with whatever magic you have at the ready. They leave behind multiple drops when killed, so you stand a decent chance of getting a health or magic restorative.




The Sand Rivers of Shirol
Like the Falls of Torment, this is a short level that requires that you simply make it from one side to the other. It even has a similar look and feel, with sand falls in the background (as opposed to waterfalls), and consisting of a single long area with no screen transitions and no boss. However, it is also somewhat more difficult, as falling no longer leads to water and killer fish, but rather to a bottomless pit.



In this level, you’ll be dealing with huge stone columns and blocks that are sliding over a sand fall. You must jump from one to the next, and any mistakes are generally met with instant death. It’s a good idea to have your Comet Flash spell equipped, if for no other reason than to give you a second chance to cover more ground should you miss a jump.



The vertical orientation of the stone structures means that you can either jump onto the tops of them or cling to the sides. However, there is a type of block that appears in certain sections that alternates between jutting spikes out of its left and right sides, which are meant to thwart your powers of clinginess.



There are a couple of moments of respite, with standing structures that you can cling to and jump on, although some of them contain enemies as well.



Completing The Sand Rivers of Shirol opens up two possible paths. One path leads a transition level called the Gateway of Eternal Storms, which opens up the Storm Fortress of Kh’lar (with the Lightning Strike magic) as well as a secret path. The other way leads to Fortress Shirol.




Gateway of Eternal Storms
This is another short transition level, and this one is pretty odd. It mixes a variety of elements, including enemies from previous levels, ancient architecture, spikes, bottomless pits, and another multi-parallax stormy sky. What sets it apart is the use of blocks of ice, which weren’t even present in the game’s standalone ice level.



Here, many enemies are walled off in prisons of ice, including the rolling enemies that move along walls and ceilings, cannons from the water levels, and robed goblins (see the SPECTACLE ENEMIES section below). By choosing your path carefully, you can actually avoid a number of these enemies.



However, your movement is somewhat restricted by the fact that you can’t cling to walls of ice (even though the rolling enemies can), so you have to strategically make your way through the level by punching or kicking away the blocks that you need to clear. Sometimes you’ll even need to jump over a pit of spikes, kick away a block, and then reverse direction to return to solid ground.



You need to ensure that you have the ability to make it through the level, while considering which enemies will be able to get to you if you break open certain blocks. It is actually possible to break the blocks in such a way that you make it impossible to continue, leaving you with suicide* as the only option to restore previously-destroyed blocks.

* By this, we mean in-game suicide. Actual suicide may not restore these blocks.



With another transition level down, you now have the opportunity to move onto the Storm Fortress of Kh’lar. But wait, a secret level awaits you! If you press UP on the D-pad while standing on the Gateway of Eternal Storms, you will move into a Mode 7 flying sequence that takes place at night, complete with gems to collect and spikes to avoid. This is, of course, entirely optional.



Completing this section will drop you out at the Old Man’s hut near the boat dock on the north end of the map. Once you speak with the old man, you may leave the hut, with only one direction to travel, toward the Ship to Nowhere.




Ship to Nowhere (secret)
Ah, the old days of 2D… when developers weren’t afraid to toss you into a level with no idea of what you needed to do, only to kill you seconds later for your inability to figure it out. Considering the relatively low difficulty of the rest of the game, the Ship to Nowhere is a bit of a surprise.



You start out on a boat floating on the water, in an area that is 1 screen wide, and you cannot leave the boat. After a few seconds, a huge wave rises up in the background and crashes down on the boat, washing you away and killing you instantly, while depositing a few enemies. So, you say, it looks like you need to time your jump just as the wave is coming down to avoid being killed. So, you try that, and die again. Maybe you need to be standing on top of the crate at the center of the boat? Dead. How about down in the boat? Dead again. Ducking? Deadaroonie.




Well, hopefully you figure it out eventually, because you’ll just keep getting dropped back onto the boat over and over again, with no way to exit the level and no way to backtrack to a previous area short of putting in an old password. As it turns out, the only way to survive is to wall cling to the side of the crate at the center of the boat, a crate that is only just high enough for this maneuver to work.



Then, when the enemies are dropped in, you’ll have a few seconds to deal with them before another wave comes crashing down. Technically, you don’t need to kill any of the enemies to transition from one wave to the next, but some of them are difficult to avoid. For instance, the eyeball-spewing enemies constantly burp out crawling eyeballs, and since the level of the boat blocks your view of anything below your waist, they can attack you without being seen.



There are a couple of different enemy types that are dropped by the waves, and even a couple waves that will drop a magic potion and a 1UP, tempting you to leave the safety of your wall-cling crate. However, the amount of time between waves during these bonus drops is significantly shorter than it is when there are enemies, so it’s risky to make a break for the powerups.



And… that’s it. After 7 waves, you’ll be dropped back onto the overworld map, right next to the Lair of Kharyon. You can’t move back to the boat or the Old Man’s hut; you can only move toward the Lair of Kharyon. Once you’re back on the world map, you can pick up where you left off, and you’re free to take the secret path as many times as you wish.




Storm Fortress of Kh’lar
This is one of the more interesting levels from a gameplay standpoint, if for no other reason than that the gameplay is not often seen in other games. In this level, you’ll start out by floating on an air current. Spread throughout the level are air currents that move in 1 of 4 directions. This makes things similar to the previous water level, except that these currents are separated by bottomless pits.



Obviously, the currents that are blowing upward act as your standard platforms, and your elevators to higher areas. If you jump onto an upward-moving current, your momentum will cause you to sink down into it for a moment before being pressed up to the top. Downward currents are obviously meant to be avoided as they will send you speeding toward the bottom of the screen, which leads to instant death. Unfortunately, the graphical representations of the currents make it difficult to tell whether one is moving up or down unless you stand still and watch it, so rushing through the level is not recommended.



What’s really interesting are the currents that press you to the left or right, because they don’t hold you up when you jump into them, and therefore do not act like your standard platforming conveyor belts. If you jump into a horizontally-moving current, you will be shoved quickly in that direction until you fall out of the bottom of it. These currents are often used for gap-crossing and sometimes have powerups tucked within them.



Also, if you press the D-pad in the direction of a horizontally-moving current, you’ll travel at double your normal speed, and sometimes you’ll need to do this to fling yourself over a particularly large gap. Once again, your Comet Flash magic is quite useful as a last-minute lifesaver.




Fortress Shirol
This is another short forced-scrolling free-flight level like the Cliffs of Peril. As before, you hold the JUMP button to move upward, and press the PUNCH button to fire projectiles. Kill or avoid the enemies, grab the pickups, navigate around the spikes, and try to keep from getting caught behind something and letting the screen scroll you off to your death.



At the end of this level, you’re met with the final fork in the path, with one road leading to Mount Shirol/Caverns of Shirol (and the Warrior Force magic), and the other leading to Dragonhill Forest.




Mount Shirol/Caverns of Shirol
This is one of the more difficult levels in the game. Your movement is very restricted, due to the fact that most of the floors are covered in lava, and there are large gaps that may only be crossed by the use of moving platforms.



Fortunately, the lava acts in the same manner as spikes, and only reduces your health by 1 unit when you fall in. Given the length of your temporary invincibility, this generally gives you plenty of time to reacquire a moving platform, or even to introduce your foot to the face of an emerging lava monster.



There isn’t a lot of safe solid ground in this level. Even on the solid platforms, you’ll be dodging fireballs from lava monsters, and avoiding infinitely-spawning sand hands. Once you do get onto a platform, you’ll be hanging over lava and dodging enemies to keep yourself from being knocked back. These obstructions come in the form of more fireballs, a mechanical enemy that moves along the rope that holds up your platform, and a flying teleporting enemy (see BCE section below) that can cause some real havoc to your long-term platform riding plans.



Platforms come in a couple of varieties: flat platforms that you can stand on, and blocks on which you can stand or cling to the sides. The platforms will speed up if when moving at a downward angle, and will occasionally pass very closely to a line of spikes, leaving you to duck to make your way under.




Dragonhill Forest
After earning your final additional health unit, you’ll pass into the last of the short transition levels: Dragonhill Forest. Here again, you’ll be facing off against enemies that you’ve seen before, and jumping from tree to tree just as you did in Faltine’s Woods.



However, the design of this level is a bit confusing. Rather than scrolling from one end to the other, the level repeats infinitely as you run to the left or right. What you’re looking for is a doorway that takes you to the next section, which also wraps infinitely.



The whole thing is somewhat maze-like, except that there really aren’t many places to go. Passing through the obvious doors will send you back and forth between two very similar-looking sections, looking for the true exit while continuing to fight the same set of enemies. What makes it difficult is that the door you need to pass through is somewhat hidden. But once you find it, you can walk right out.




The Great Tower
You have finally reached the level where you may earn the Fiery Phoenix magic that the Old Man has been on about since the start of the game. As you might expect, this level presents you with some fairly difficult platforming and wall-jumping sections, as well as a new Bastard Class Enemy, the Angry Armored Samurai (see below).



All of your previous level navigation skills come into play here as you jump over pits of spikes, cling to walls, ride moving platforms, and run under crushing ceilings. Some of these elements are combined, so you’ll be doing things like avoiding walls of spikes while clinging to the sides of moving platforms or crushing ceilings. There are also several places where the Comet Flash move is required in order to cross gaps and proceed.



There are a few difficult moments to be found. In one section, you’ll find a couple of huge black orbs suspended in the ceiling above you. When you run past, the orb will drop down and start rolling behind you Raiders of the Lost Ark-style, chasing you toward a bottomless pit. You may think that you’re supposed to jump across the pit and let the ball fall harmlessly down, but you actually have to cling to the nearest wall and let the ball fly over you. Hopefully you have a couple of extra lives stored up to experiment with that one.



Being a tower-style level, you’ll have a few long ascents, including ever-narrowing sections where you must wall-jump upward while avoiding spiked balls that bounce back and forth across your path.



In another, you’ll be ascending a spike-lined section with water currents alternating between the left and right, while being chased by a water serpent.



Once outside the tower, you’ll be forced to make a leap of faith from the top of the tower to the bottom (again, this is another spot where you may be unfairly robbed of a few lives), and you’ll have to jump from one tower to the next, just as you did in the Tower of the Tarolisk, except that the gap is longer – and still filled with falling platforms – and there are more enemies blocking your way.




Raglan’s Citadel
With the Fiery Phoenix earned, you finally have the power to take on Ashura. You’ll visit with the Old Man once more, who now admits that he has nothing left to teach you, and he will send you on another Mode 7 journey across the skies, this time at sunset. Now you’ll be on the third and final island, with no way to return to those previous, and now you can only move forward to the final fight.



Prepare to lose a life about 5 seconds into this level, because the screen begins a vertical forced scroll almost immediately upon entering, before you have a chance to properly survey your surroundings. You can, of course, use the Fiery Phoenix spell to fly upward and avoid your instant death – if you have your wits about you – but this isn’t very effective as a last-minute lifesaver, since the spell uses half of your magic meter each time it is cast the effect doesn’t last long.



Even once you’re aware of the forced scrolling, the level is no cakewalk. You’ll need to jump from one small platform to the next, some of which will drop out from under you soon after you land on them. You’ll also have enemies to contend with, so you’ll need to decide whether it’s best to stay and fight, or try to rush past them before the eternally-rising bottomless pit catches up with you.



The screen scroll will let you get pretty far down before it actually kills you, certainly more than the knee-deep allowance offered by Kid Icarus. Basically, the screen has to scroll up to your head before you actually die, offering a bit of leeway to slower travelers, or to those who felt it necessary to hang back to grab a pickup or fight off some enemies. The top of the screen, however, offers no such leeway, and you’ll find an invisible ceiling that prevents you from jumping up off the top of the screen. This odd design decision prevents you from making leaps onto platforms just as they scroll into view, and you must instead wait for them to scroll completely into the active playfield before you can reach them.



As the level continues, you’ll pass high above the mountains, above the clouds, and into the night sky. And then you’ll fight a boss.



No, it’s not the end-game boss, or even a new boss for that matter. It’s the very same genie boss that you encountered in Temple Infernus, which was the first boss in the game. Oh yeah, it’s going to be one of those. Of the 7 bosses that you encountered previously, you will be fighting 5 of them again here.



What’s more, you’re not even fighting these old bosses in a newly-themed area, but rather in an exact copy-paste from your first encounter with them. The background, environment, and gameplay are 100% identical. Once you beat each of the bosses, you’ll enter a short passageway which offers several large gems, a large health restorative, and a large magic restorative. Then, it’s on to the next boss, until you finally face off against Ashura, and then the real final boss, making for 7 total sequential boss fights.




SPECTACLE ENEMIES (What’s this?)

Floating Robed Goblins OK, so we’ve made references to how Skyblazer’s multi-parallax sky is reminiscent of Mystic Defender, but so too is one of its enemies. In Mystic Defender, there were some Bastard Class Enemies that we dubbed the Hopping Mad Monks. These were robed creatures, some of which could turn into spiders. In Skyblazer, we have the Floating Robed Goblins. They look fairly menacing to begin with, hovering across the ground with their giant green heads and purple hair. But, when you mange to kill one, WATCH OUT!



The goblin’s head falls to the ground, whereupon spider legs emerge from its eye sockets and hair, and its mouth opens to reveal a single huge eyeball. And then it skitters lovingly over to you to bite your ankles. Close contact kills are not recommended here, since the transformation from ugly to super ugly is pretty fast, and you’ll need to duck to attack the spiderized versions.



BASTARD CLASS ENEMIES (What's this?)

Floating Robed Cowards There is one BCE in this game who is both tough and unsporting. He appears in the Mount Shirol/Caverns of Shirol level, making his tactics doubly bastardly, as you’ll be fighting him from moving platforms suspended over pits of lava.



When you first encounter this robed villain, he’ll be standing on a platform across from you. Then, he’ll wrap himself in his robe and disappear, only to appear directly behind you a few seconds later.



He has the ability to summon an energy ball, which not only hurts you, but can potentially knock you off of your moving platform, dropping you down into the lava, or back into a previous section of the level. And respawning enemies make losing progress doubly damning.



But what makes this guy a true bastard is the fact that he always teleports behind you. That’s right, he doesn’t simply teleport to a random spot in the room – which would make him difficult enough – he teleports to your rear, and then fires an energy ball straight at your backside. Short of firing off some magic to take him down, the only trick you have against him is to face backward when riding on moving platforms to make him appear in front of your path. Then amaze him with your magical abilities by pulling a rabbit out of his face.




Angry Armored Samurai These guys are huge, and they come charging at you very quickly. They cannot be harmed when attacking from the front, even when using magic, and given their size, they can be difficult to jump over. Even if you do manage to jump over it, your Dragon Slash isn’t fast enough to catch up with the enemy to hit it. You may attack the samurai just as it passes, but it takes a lot of hits to kill.



And if you thought it was tough to deal with one, just wait until you are tossed into an elevator shaft with multiple samurai dropping down on you. Fortunately, in this instance, you can use the wall-cling to jump over them and avoid them altogether, because you don’t stand much of a chance if you chose to engage them in hand-to-sword combat.




BOSSES
Bosses only appear in the full-length levels, not in the shorter transition levels. Each defeated boss will reward the player with a new magic spell.

Temple Infernus
Spell earned: Comet Flash

The first boss you encounter in the game is a genie that rises up out of a lamp. When he appears, he’ll part his arms and summon a fireball from each hand, which will then move slowly toward you. You can actually punch the fireballs out of the air or knock them away with your magic, so it’s not terribly difficult to defend yourself against them. The game uses some transparency and wavering effects here to make the genie appear somewhat ethereal, and he is invincible during this time.



When he descends back into the lamp, the lamp will move back and forth across the floor, causing 2 points of damage if it hits you, but this is your chance to attack. You can only cause the boss harm by attacking the lamp while the genie is inside it. Even when punched and kicked, it will continue to move toward you, essentially placing it back in harm’s way.



So, you can just keep punching it, wait for the genie to appear, dodge or punch his fireballs, and then squat and punch the lamp until your wish is granted, provided that your wish was for the whole room to turn red and fill with explosions.




Tower of the Tarolisk
Spell earned: Heal

This boss is some sort of purple spiked ball that is capable of rolling across the floor, up walls, and across ceilings, and you’re trapped in a single-screen room with it.



Once it rolls around the room, it will stop and open its eye, from which a fireball will emerge. Oddly, this fireball is not destructible, despite the fact that the genie’s fireballs were.



If you’re at a loss for where the boss’ weak point is, then you haven’t played very many video games. After you cause damage to the monster’s eye, the creature will grow in size. Where the genie boss used transparency and wavering effects, this boss uses scaling, simply increasing the size of the boss sprite on the screen.



It will continue its series of attacks, rolling toward you, up the wall, across the ceiling, and back down to the floor again, where it will open its eye and shoot another fireball. Each time you damage it, the boss will grow in size, until it’s practically filling the room.



What makes the boss difficult is that it gets hard to dodge once it gets to a certain size. If you don’t have a well-timed wall-jump, the boss will hit you, taking away 2 units of health (versus 1 if hit by a fireball). On the flip side, once it gets too big, its body will no longer reach the lower corner of the screen, so you can simply duck and let it roll past you. This makes the end of the boss fight even easier than the beginning.




Petrolith Castle
Spell earned: Star Fire

So at this point, the game’s bosses have made use of the transparency, wavering, and scaling effects of the SNES. What’s left? Rotation, of course. This boss is a giant face that is emerging from the ice. Somehow, the face is attached to a wall that can spin completely around.



The boss itself has no ability to attack whatsoever. Instead, the wall will spin, giving you a narrow gap through which to pass. Sometimes you’ll have to duck to go under a small hole, other times you’ll need to jump, and sometimes you’ll need to do a wall-cling and then jump off to pass through a hole toward the top of the wall.



The room will spin 180 degrees, leaving you on the back side of the wall (although the creature’s backside is nowhere to be seen), and then it will spin again, bringing you back to the face. Later it will do a full 360 degree turn in one shot.



It’s instant death if you miss a hole, but the boss has no other attacks, so basically, all you need to do is keep jump-kicking the boss in the forehead (which has another face in it) and eyes, and dodging through the holes when the wall spins. Eventually the forehead-face and eyes will each be gruesomely destroyed, leaving behind gooey empty sockets. Once all 3 are gone, it’s explosion time!




Lair of Kharyon
Spell earned: Time Stop

This boss fight is just as much a fight with the environment as with the boss itself. At the center of the room are 4 spawners that keep summoning giant killer fish that will swim after you. The outer edge of the room is lined with currents that shove you around in a counterclockwise fashion.



Your goal is to avoid the fish (fighting them is pointless since they’re hard to kill, and they spawn infinitely), while making your way into the center of the room to deliver attacks upon the spawners. The spawners are only vulnerable while they’re open, so you can’t simply unleash a continuous series of attacks on them, and if you stay still too long, the fish will move in on your position and attack. Technically, a spawner will stop generating fish if you hit it while it’s open, but the others will continue to operate as normal, so it’s best to just let them all finish making their fish and then deal with them.



You’ll need to lure the fish into the current on the outer edge of the room. Fortunately, they’re a bit stupid and will simply follow you in a straight line regardless of your position. This allows you to line them all up behind you in the same spot, so that you can drop down into the spawning area without fear of being attacked from multiple directions.



The spawners will not spawn new fish as long as their first one is still in play, so there will be a maximum of 4 fish chasing you. Also, it’s fairly easy to use the fishes’ stupid pathfinding against them, getting them stuck behind a wall and leaving you to deliver several successive attacks on the spawners. This is the preferred method of attack, as the spawners take lots of hits to destroy, making a hit-and-run strategy quite lengthy and tedious.




Storm Fortress of Kh’lar
Spell earned: Lightning Strike

The level leading up to this boss fight was filled with air currents that pushed you in different directions, and which sat over bottomless pits. The boss room, too, has bottomless pits on either side, with air currents against the walls that push you down, and currents at the bottom center that push you up. This battle can be very difficult if you’re not positioned correctly, since one hit from the boss can send you plummeting to your death.



When the boss first appears, he will be hovering in the center of the room with his arms folded. Then, he will disappear and reappear, split into 3 separate versions of himself. The 3 forms will fly around the room to cause melee damage, and to knock you back, potentially into a bottomless pit.



They can also summon mini tornadoes, which do not harm you directly, but they do spin you around and push you backward, again potentially pushing you off your perch.



If you hit one of the 3 forms, it will disappear, but eventually all of the remaining forms will disappear and reappear as a single form again, and the cycle will repeat. Jump-kicking and magic are your most effective offensive tools here.



The key to winning this battle is all about positioning yourself properly. The room has 5 platforms: 3 along the bottom, 2 above them on either side of the screen, and 1 at the top center. The lower platforms are very dangerous, since getting pushed back from one spells almost certain doom. Instead, moving to one of the upper platforms will ensure that if you are shoved back you will have enough time to recover and land on one of the other platforms, or at least on the upward-moving air current at the bottom of the screen.




Mount Shirol / Caverns of Shirol
Spell earned: Warrior Force

This is the boss we prefer to refer to as “Bat Ganesh”. Throughout the preceding level, there are a number of Ganesh-like statues in the background, which seems to indicate that Ganesh was the inspiration behind the boss. However, the boss itself is some sort of inter-species mix of a bat, an elephant, and possibly a dinosaur.



The creature is essentially an elephant head with wings and legs, but it’s covered in armor, and its trunk has a head of its own. And though the both the elephant and its trunk have red glowing eyes, the overall effect is more cute than menacing, and there’s not much about its attacks that will change that impression.



Bat Ganesh starts on the ground and then spreads its wings to perform a high slow jump with its trunk tucked into its crotch. This gives you plenty of time to run beneath it if you need to do so, or you can simply wait until it lands – its landing spot is easily predictable given its slow movement – and then start punching and kicking the hell out of its phallus-like trunk. During this time, it will not be able to retaliate, and once it absorbs enough damage, it will simply perform another slow jump.



It’s invincible while it’s in the air, but it won’t put up much of a fight when it lands, although it can absorb a ton of hits before it finally goes all explodey and dies. Aside from the melee damage it can do by landing on you, it can also dash quickly across the ground, with no telegraph to warn you that it’s coming. However, if you focus on attacking its trunk just as it hits the ground, the boss will be unable to perform this move.



The only other attack in its arsenal is the ability to fire out a stream of 3 smiling red apples. Yes, you read that correctly, and no, there doesn’t seem to be any other explanation as to what they could be. The deviously-grinning apple trio will fly straight at you, but they are fairly easy to dodge.



About the only variation that you’ll need to worry about are the times where Bat Ganesh will land on one of the upper platforms, rather than landing on the floor. In these cases, it will have more opportunity to fire apples at you, and is more difficult to hit, but you can just wait for it to inevitably jump back down to the floor again and resume your previous attacks.




The Great Tower
Spell earned: Fiery Phoenix

You are finally within distance of the Fiery Phoenix spell, which has been your quest since the start of the game, as you’ll need the spell to defeat Ashura. This isn’t a terribly difficult battle, at least once you figure out what you need to do. Unfortunately, the penalty for failed experimentation is death, as this boss fight occurs over a bottomless pit.



In this fight, you’ll be on the outside of a tower, with jutting platforms all around. You may jump from platform to platform to the left or right, wrapping infinitely as you move around the tower. A huge blue dragon will rise up from off the bottom of the screen directly below your position. As you play through the fight, you will learn that you need to keep moving, but on your first couple of attempts, you may find yourself in the dragon’s path, particularly since its tail curves back behind its body a bit. Taking damage will remove units from your life bar, and potentially knock you back off of your platform and down into the bottomless pit below.



The only way to harm the dragon is by attacking the orange orb that it is clutching in its claws. If you run to the left, the dragon will rise up behind you, giving you the opportunity to reverse your direction and attack. You may also run to the right and wrap around the tower so that you are facing the orb once you reach the dragon.



You only have a limited time to attack the orb, as the dragon will eventually rise up off the top of the screen and disappear, only to reappear beneath you once more. But, when you do land a hit on the orb, the dragon will stop, open its mouth, and shoot a stream of fire in a straight line toward your position. This is your cue to run away, or to lure its shot so that it fires safely away from you, thus giving you the chance to attack the orb a second time. The dragon is invincible while breathing fire.




Raglan’s Citadel: Ashura
This is the moment you’ve been preparing for, your fight against Ashura. After fighting off a series of 5 repeat bosses, you will enter Ashura’s chamber. In a cutscene, Ashura comments that he remembers having killed you (which occurred at the end of the first level while he was kidnapping the sorceress). Of course, he promises not to make that same mistake twice.



This time around, you actually get to fight Ashura rather than watching him kill you in a non-interactive cutscene. But now Ashura has a large golden shield, and it is impervious to all of your attacks… save one.

Ashura will not attack you, but will rather fly slowly around the room, moving directly toward you. You can hop about, jumping from platform to platform, tossing all the magic you want, and sending your fists and feet against his golden shield, but only one thing can harm him.



By transforming into the Fiery Phoenix and flying straight into Ashura, you will knock away his shield, making him vulnerable to your other attacks. The effect of the Fiery Phoenix spell only lasts a short time, but it does a ton of damage and you’re invincible for the duration, so it’s best to just hover over Ashura’s face and get in a couple of extra hits before the effect of the spell wears off.



From here, Ashura will pick up speed and start to summon bird-like fireballs (mini-phoenixes?) from each of his 4 hands, which will chase you around the room. You may continue to fight him traditionally, or you can transform into the Fiery Phoenix once again and go straight after him. It’s actually possible to kill Ashura with 2 uses of the Fiery Phoenix spell, without having to perform any other attacks.



But the battle isn’t over yet. Despite the fact that Ashura’s decapitated head is lying on the ground, and that the sorceress has been freed, Ashura still has one trick up his sleeve… despite not actually having any sleeves… or arms. The Old Man breaks in and reveals that Ashura is not quite dead yet.



Ashura’s head rises up off the ground, flies through the air, and perches upon the platform above the sorceress. There, he proclaims that you must deal with his master, Raglan, the Lord of Darkness, King of Destruction, and likely a strong disliker of puppies. Ashura surrenders his power to give rise to the game’s final boss…




Raglan’s Citadel: Raglan
Raglan is armored, horned, and fanged, and he has a fist made of lava. The battle takes place over a pool of lava, with Raglan’s huge body rising out of it.



You, on the other hand, are just you. You have no new spells or abilities, no great powers bestowed upon you by the Old Man or the sorceress, and no hyper beam granted by the sacrifice of your metroid baby. In fact, you don’t even get magic or health restoration at the beginning of the battle, so you’re left with whatever you had after your fight with Ashura. If that’s less than 4 units of health and 4 units of magic, then you might want to just hop into the lava and kill yourself so that you can at least restart the boss fight with those minimums.



There is a large magic restorative potion in the room with you, but your magic doesn’t do much to turn the battle in your favor. You may wish to just keep your Heal magic ready, because it’s easy to take a lot of abuse.



When Raglan rises out of the lava, he will start punching, and you want to be anywhere but standing in front of his lava knuckles. Each time you get hit, you lose 4 units of health (i.e. half of your life). But the fist is your opportunity to get close to Raglan’s weak spot, namely his big ugly face.



By avoiding his fist, you can wall-jump onto his arm and run toward his face. His arm is made out of lava as well, but fortunately it will not harm you if you touch it (unlike the lava at the bottom of the screen), although you will sink down into it if you stand still. Raglan has 2 golden bracelets that you can stand on to avoid sinking.

After you do the punchy-kicky on his face for a bit, the green gem in his forehead will fire a laser down at an angle, and then swing up until it is shooting straight forward. This attack is nearly impossible to avoid, and it causes 2 hits of damage.



You’ll also notice that if you stay on Raglan’s arm and keep attacking his face, that he’ll rise further and further out of the lava, taking you away from the safety of your small platform and wall below, and leaving you little room to retreat from his green death laser. If you have some magic remaining, you can cast the Warrior Force to get in some strong attacks while temporarily invincible, but this is not nearly enough to destroy him.



The real trick is to keep Raglan from moving too high out of the lava, and to keep an eye on his punching pattern. If you stand on the platform at the bottom of the room, Raglan will send a couple of punches your way, and then he’ll punch and leave his arm extended. This is your opportunity to jump on his arm, run to his face, get in a quick attack or two, and get away, dropping back down to the platform below while Raglan retracts his fist and fires his green laser. This hit-and-run strategy takes a long time, but it will keep you safe from damage.



If you hop onto his arm before he stops moving it, you risk getting pulled back into his face, causing you 1 hit of damage. Although you can simply stand on his fist and wait for him to stop punching before making your run toward him. Eventually, you will break off his jaw and punch out his eyes, leaving behind a gruesome mangled beast that will continue to fight until the bitter end.




HERITAGE

Why this game should be part of your 2D heritage:
  • Learn new magic spells as the game progresses
  • Gameplay tweaks from one level to the next
  • Wide variety of unabashedly colorful environments
  • A fair amount of nonlinearity in the level selection
The downside:
  • Some control quirks when falling/gliding and disengaging from walls
  • Rather than legitimate strategy, much of the game’s challenge comes from cheap deaths, which are balanced by giving the player lots of 1UPs
  • Health and magic restoration between levels is illogical
  • Respawning enemies

4 comments

  1. Matt Said,

    Holy crap, that was an incredibly detailed review of the game. I just stumbled across this site on Google and I'm definitely going to see what other awesome things you have here.

    Posted on December 30, 2010 at 5:22 PM

     
  2. Thank you for the compliments. "Incredibly detailed" is what we do best here. I'm sure you'll enjoy some of our other in-depth articles, and we have plenty more on the way.

    Posted on December 30, 2010 at 7:37 PM

     
  3. Unless I'm crazy, None of those levels, except ship to nowhere, are optional. If you go to the hut before Dragonhill forest without doing all 4 of those levels the old man will tell you "You still have no mastered all 4 of the minor powers." If there is a way to skip them, I'd like to know what it is.

    Posted on September 24, 2011 at 2:28 PM

     
  4. Good catch, ikomasoji. The article has been updated accordingly.

    Posted on September 24, 2011 at 8:15 PM