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Video Game: Landstalker
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 700 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. Actually, in the Japanese version, the building in question is a brothel...

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 appearing in Landstalker:

  • American Kirby Is Hardcore: Japanese Nigel is a dashing Slayers-esqe figure. American Nigel is a Frazetta Man. Not as cool as it sounds, given that Nigel still has clothes.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: Enemy AI is very basic - most foes will simply rush Nigel and attack.
  • Auto-Revive: Eke-eke herbs are available from the start of the game and for cheap. Though they are also normal healing items (healing at least half of Nigel's HP), if Nigel gets knocked out Friday will appear and use one to revive him.
  • Baleful Polymorph: Once you acquire the Einstein Whistle, you can learn that two dogs named Marty and Bell are actually people under the curse of a Wicked Witch. The only way to break the curse? Kill the witch somehow, but it gets a little more complicated when the witch decides to turn Nigel into a dog too....
  • Blackout Basement: A few rooms in King Nole's labyrinth are pitch-black; all you can see is yourself, enemies, and treasure chests. You have to navigate one in the dark in order to acquire the item to illuminate these rooms.
  • Boss Battle: Mostly of the Wolfpack Boss or Elite Mook variety. Curiously, only a few of them actually have boss-battle music to punctuate the encounter.
  • Bottomless Pits: Averted - pits that look bottomless won't kill you, they'll just drop you down in the room below. Which usually has spikes to land on, enemies to attack you, and whatever else is along the path to climb back up. King Nole's labyrinth does, however, have one room whose pit simply wraps back to the top of the room, allowing you to fall endlessly until you steer yourself towards something to land on.
  • Broken Bridge: Early in the game, warriors from Gumi smashed the bridge connecting the road from Massan. There are plenty of other (non literal) examples blocking passage to the next town.
  • Cranium Ride: For fun and profit. It's needed to solve some puzzles, too.
  • Damsel in Distress: The Massan mayor's daughter gets captured by the neighboring Gumi tribe. Then there's the matter of Princess Lara who mysteriously disappeared from Mercator....
  • Day of the Week Name: Friday the Fairy, natch
  • Denial of Diagonal Attack: Or (given the isometric perspective) denial of horizontal and vertical attack. At least enemies suffer the same limitation.
  • Depth Perplexion: The game's lack of shadows can make it difficult to tell exactly where some platforms are located when trying to make jumps. This is part of what makes the game's difficulty so memorable, as it complicates judging precisely where you are, your enemies are, and whether or not that platform in front of you is...well...actually in front of you.
  • Dummied Out: The American version raodblocked a bath scene by putting a maid in front of the door - however the actual scene is still intact and even translated (you can view it with cheats, or on YouTube videos).
  • Exposition Fairy: Friday.
  • Fairy Companion: Getting redundant?
  • Fetch Quest: Though not so many as you'd think.
  • Fire, Ice, Lightning: Three of the swords you collect are the Magic (fire) Sword, Thunder Sword, and Ice Sword.
  • Genre Savvy: Attendants at Madame Yard's in Mercator are fully aware of the fact that teenage boys are always trying to find out what makes the broth— err, ballet studio so popular with castle guards. Even the town's fortuneteller is in on it, readily giving Nigel a spell to make him look like an ordinary (human) adult.
  • Get Back Here Boss: The sorceror Mir, who speeds about the room launching fireballs from a distance. He's one of the very few enemies who doesn't simply try to rush and attack Nigel.
  • Girl Friday: Quite literally.
  • 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 (relatively) 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 missed.
    • The worst one is in the fourth town, Mercator. There is exactly one vague hint on how you are to progress through the game: a lady in the church who praises Duke Mercator for "walking through town and personally speaking to each and every one of us." Sure enough, talk to an NPC near the castle and you'll spot General Arthur taking some unscheduled time off to go to Madame Yard's ... "ballet studio".
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: Nigel uses only swords, nothing else - you get a handful of them throughout the game; each one better than the last.
  • Hostage for MacGuffin: How Kayla snatches an artifact from Nigel.
  • Informed Equipment: Nigel's color palette gets tweaks to reflect his currently-equipped sword and armor. His boots, on the other hand, do not.
  • Interchangeable Antimatter Keys: Although you can't mix-and-match them between dungeons (not that you'd get many opportunities to anyway). 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 made this problematic for jumping sequences. Not to mention the rather, shall we say, rudimentary control system; the Genesis controller had no diagonal inputs, so to move northwest, the player has to hit both "left" and "up" (as a consolation, hitting one direction by itself will subsequently move Nigel in that diagonal direction, and Nigel has a minor ability to automatically navigate corners). This is particularly annoying on emulators, if you're playing on keyboard (it's not an issue if you have a gamepad or analog joystick to make the diagonals easier).
  • Item Farming: Just a few dungeons have Eke-eke herbs simply laying on the floor for you to pick up; they respawn when you leave the room, allowing you to pick them up all over again.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Friday. Also Nigel.
  • Joke Item: The Blue Ribbon.
    "Used Blue Ribbon. Won second place in a beauty contest!"
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: Slightly averted. Your inventory is only so large.
  • Leitmotif: Kayla and her two goons have their own theme music which plays every time they appear.
  • Lizard Folk: Lizardmen are among the enemy types; they're generally stronger than skeletons and unicorns, and are armed with a sword and shield.
  • MacGuffin Delivery Service: You get to keep one artifact (the Lithograph) only just long enough to get a good look at it before Kayla steals it from you. Two of the five Mineral MacGuffins it leads to are similarly stolen. At the very end of the game, Duke Mercator tries to invoke this on King Nole's treasure itself, and even thanks Nigel for killing all the minibosses - but fails to notice that Nigel hasn't killed the Final Boss yet. The Guardian thus makes him extra crispy before challenging Nigel.
  • Meaningful Name: The names of deceased persons in the crypt below Mercator are related to the puzzle waiting in that room, some of them are also punny (like "Larcen E.").
  • Money Spider: Almost every enemy drops money when they're defeated. They might randomly drop an Eke-eke herb or other healing item, but it's usually cash.
  • Mushroom Samba: There's a strange book in Destel's church. Insist that the priest read some of its "spells", and the screen will go pink and ripply.
  • Noun Verber: Land + Stalker
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Gola resembles a standard Western dragon, while the dragonlike Zak is a race of dragon-folk called Drakkonians.
  • Our Elves Are Better: Nigel the Landstalker himself (although amidst all the other crazy characters roaming about, he's never really singled out). Other elves are pretty sparse in game.
  • Pressure Plate: Some switches only remain active as long as something is weighing them down — be it Nigel, a nearby block or pot, or so on. A few puzzles are even solved by getting enemies to weigh down the switch for you.
  • Rolling Attack: The preferred method of attack for Spinner, one of the three Guardians in King Nole's labyrinth.
  • Save Point: Churches, one in each town. Or more specifically, any time you see a "Record Book" and a priest to give it to ... even if the 'priest' is just a withered pile of bones sitting behind a desk in the middle of a dungeon and the book is high up on a platform requiring four switches scattered across a mazelike room to access it.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: A number of things were changed when the game was translated.[1] Most if it was stuff too racy for the American Censorship Bureau: all the sexy goodies in the optional Mercator variety shop became oddities, a Bathtub Scene was blocked off(but not deleted). Nigel might be happier in the American version despite this - in the Japanese, all of King Nole's treasure is lost down a Bottomless Pit when the Guardian is defeated. In the American, he gets all the treasure, and the Gold counter even spins up to quintuple digits to show this!
  • Spikes of Doom: A standard fixture of many dungeons, but at least they're stationary, and don't actually do that much damage. Then there are the spiked balls, which come in both small and large sizes....
  • Stock Video Game Puzzle: Mostly of the switch/pressure-plate and platform variety. Some of which are quite Nintendo Hard.
  • Suspicious Video Game Generosity: You almost never find a Save Point inside a dungeon, only in town churches. Then you arrive at the "Lake Shrine" and discover it has a save point only two screens from the front entrance. This Is Gonna Suck....
  • Sword Beam: The Ice Sword, when fully charged, can fire out a blast of ice magic to hit enemies from a distance. It's also used to solve a few puzzles. The spirit of King Nole has one too, albeit with an axe.
  • Teleport Spam: Some enemies have teleporting abilities. King Nole's spirit uses this constantly.
  • Temple of Doom: Quite a few actually. Complete with requisite crushing boulders to the point where they are obviously used for puzzles.
  • Temporary Platform: Some platforms fall (after a short delay) when you step on them. They look identical to non-falling platforms, too. The only way to find out? Best not to linger on a platform if you don't need to.
  • Use Item: Especially keys to open doors (unlike Zelda games where it is automatic).
  • Waiting Puzzle: Two puzzles in the crypt below Mercator are solved by doing absolutely nothing for about half a minute. The Lake Shrine dungeon also has a few rooms where you are locked in and must wait for a switch to appear ... while being attacked by enemies.
  • Walk It Off: Healing Boots restore your HP slowly as you walk around. And you'll be doing a LOT of walking when trying to navigate labyrinths and solve puzzles.
  • 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.
  • Winged Humanoid: Friday the fairy, and bounty hunter Zak the Drakkonian (dragon-folk).

Koumajou DensetsuFantasy Video GamesLast Scenario
KlaxSega GenesisLangrisser
KirbyWide Open SandboxL.A. Noire

alternative title(s): Landstalker
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