"This is where the Mother sleeps. A path of trials, where only heroes that do not fear death may enter."
— First tablet in the ruins
La-Mulana (ラ·ムラーナ) is a Metroidvania platformer video game for Windows. It is a freeware game, and was developed by three people who call their development group NIGORO (formerly known as GR3 Project) in Japan as a tribute to the MSX computer system / gaming console (and includes tons of references to such). You play an Indiana Jones-esque archaeologist who must solve the numerous puzzles throughout an immense set of ancient ruins.La-Mulana is a homage to the 8-bit action-adventures that you might remember from your childhood. It wants to instill in you the same sense of fear and awe you felt back then. The sense that everything is at stake and anything could happen.But you've grown up, haven't you? Your twitch skills are stronger, and your knowledge of Video Game Tropes is broader. Can you ever really go back? No need to worry 'bout that. La-Mulanahas grown up too.A remake on WiiWare was released in Japan on June 21, 2011, with 16 / 32-bit sprite graphics in place of the MSX-style ones, among numerous other changes — it was developed by the same three guys who did the original. An overseas release localized by NICALiS was planned, but was ultimately cancelled due to development problems and the decline of the WiiWare service. But, as noted in NIGORO's blog, they chose to release the remake on PC, released worldwide on July 13, 2012 at the launch of the English-language Playism Games website. It subsequently saw releases not only on Playism, but also GOG.com, DESURA, GamersGate, Steam and last, but definitely NOT least, finally released on overseas WiiWare under the publisher EnjoyUp Games.Though if you're looking for the original freeware game, you can still find it (and its English patch) here. A sequel has been announced, which will star Lemeza's daughter Lumisa and was successfully funded by a Kickstarter campaign.
La Mulana contains examples of:
Abusive Parents and Precursors: On closer analysis, the Mother. If your race, which the Mother created, isn't up to the task of restoring her to the heavens — and you won't be — she'll obliterate you to make room for another attempt at creating a race that can pull it off. Although, if one had been able to manage it... well, as Sakit's faction apparently realized, that means the Mother just abandoned her children. Not that she really saw a point to making life on Earth besidesfreeing her from the place. This is definitely one place where she's less Sophia, more Demiurge.
Shorn, Lemeza's dad, abandoned him at a young age and is now even his rival. He doesn't even mind stealing the Secret Treasure of Life that his son rightfully found at the end of the game.
Action Bomb: Kodama Rats in the Guidance Gate (among other places) run around at high speed, then stop and explode when they get close to you. Also, floating crystal enemies in the original's Inferno Cavern would simply chase you around, but in the remake they are floating orange spike balls that chase you down and explode.
Advancing Boss of Doom: The blue Argus mini-boss on the Surface doesn't attack beyond simply advancing on you, eventually forcing you offscreen. Viy also pulls off a vertical version, as he constantly advances from below (forcing you to climb). Ellmac almost does, though his battle takes place with you on a mine cart and him chasing you down the track. Explorers of the remake's Hell Temple may also note that Mushussu's room in said temple has a pit in the floor upon which Mushussu slowly creeps towards, ultimately leaving you nowhere to stand.
Alien Geometries: The various areas of La-Mulana are connected in a non-Euclidean fashion, almost certainly deliberately. If you try to make a map that shows where all the areas are in relation to each other, taking every connection into account, you'll quickly discover that it can't be done. In particular, it's not at all clear what the lowest point inside the ruins is, as you can go through the same set of locations in the lower areas (Inferno Cavern, Chamber of Extinction) over and over again while taking a path that should logically be going farther and farther downward. That said, there's also the infinitely deep pit in the Inferno Cavern that appears during the quest for opening up Hell Temple.
Perhaps most egregious is the Shrine of the Mother, in which the lowest area of the Endless Corridor takes you to the top of the area, and an entrance three floors up takes you to a lower, isolated area. Everything else can be explained with the depiction of three-dimensional space in two dimensions, but this...
Even the same areas aren't connected logically. Hell Temple is the another example where you can fall from multiple rooms into the same "Land of Hell." There's also the first time the player enters the Twin Labyrinth from the Mausoleum of the Giants, where going down one ladder sends the player to a room on what is actually the opposite side of the map!
Areas vary in terms of how alien their geometries are (with, generally, the "deeper" areas getting more bizarre, while the early ones make a bit more sense.) The Twin Labyrinths in particular is utterly confusing (naturally, since it basically connects two dimensions.) The Endless Corridor is pretty bizarre, too, but both it and the bizarre way it relates to the Shrine of the Mother make a bit more sense when you realize that Tiamat used her power to swap it with the Dimensional Corridor so she could hide in another dimension.
All Myths Are True: Guardians, sub-bosses and common enemies come from a huge array of various sources, including Sumerian and Babylonian myths, Chinese mythology, ancient Egypt, European medieval folklore, Russian literature, Hebrew and Christian lore, and so on. Justified because La-Mulana is stated to be the source for all cultures on Earth.
A necessary hint to one of the puzzles in the original is only found in the manual, to encourage such things. However, as it refers to "the end of the Aztec's fifth age", which got talked about a bit on television after the game came out, chances are you'll have heard about it there.
Ambidextrous Sprite: Averted, Lemeza and Lumisa have different sprites for facing left and right. The same is true of any enemy that holds a weapon or shield in one hand (the lizards in the Confusion Gate, for example).
Ancient Astronauts: The Mother and Palenque, the latter of whom was based on the mythical ancient astronaut.
And Your Reward Is Clothes: The "treasure that must not be seen" is not exactly a satisfying reward for finishing Hell Temple. (Apparently the joke's on you.) In the remake, Lemeza's appearance (both on the inventory screen and in his in-game sprite) is updated to reflect it — this even includes changing his Idle Animation from eating curry to dancing.
Apocalyptic Log: You can find skeletons of previous adventurers, frequently with some note on them, either detailing how they'll soon die or giving a hint to a puzzle. These range from the serious to the ridiculous (an adventurer writing a note after he triggered a trap instead of, you know, getting away from the trap) to ("I hear there are shops in these ruins, but that does not matter because I am dying.").
Also, the tablets in the Mausoleum of the Giants read like an Apocalyptic Log for an entire civilization:
We could not grant the Great Mother's wish. I am the only one to remain, and here I go to my long, final rest. —Abt
April Fools' Day: Take a look at the developer's Test Play #5. Notice some of the the weird things that happen? Some of them are just jokes. (Others are actually real.)
Ars Goetia: The source of the names of some sub-bosses and enemies.
Ascended Extra: In the remake, The Boss is given an actual theme. It uses one of the unused songs from the Jukebox, called Good Morning Mom.
One of the entries in Jasmine "Momogirl" Cote's La-Momolana Livejournal has a joke about Lemeza actually wearing the equipment items. In the remake, whenever you get a new equipment item, it will indeed show Lemeza wearing it in the Items menu.
Naramura's Twitter showed a lot of the concept art of La-Mulana and one of those concept arts has traditional versions of Momogirl's entries. Those entries are actually in the full guide book of the remake; not only that but they were redrawn by Naramura himself.
Some fans felt that "Moon-Light Dance" sounded a lot like "Thriller". In the remake's Temple of Moonlight, there's a mural featuring Michael Jackson on it.
Artistic License - Physics: A pushable block will stay stable even when it's half off a platform. The kicker? You need to use this to solve a puzzle in the Endless Corridor.
Attack Animal: The Andras legionaries in the Tower of the Goddess are seen riding vaguely canine animals as mounts; this makes them mostly harmless in the original version (at least until you take out the wolf); in the remake, they'll hop off and order the hound to attack you.
Awesome, but Impractical: The pistol. It's by far the most powerful weapon in the game, but you can't carry more than 12 bullets (24 in the remake), they're prohibitively expensive, you don't get it until very late in the game, and the final boss isn't even vulnerable to it. It's only useful for finding certain ROMs and boss fights. It's a little more practical in the remake, as you can buy it from a shop on the Surface, and the bullets are now effective on most bosses.
In the remakes the owner of the surface shop who sells the Bullets even says: "I smuggle, you pay out the nose."
Background Boss: Tiamat, as she appears in the remake anyway; the only Collision Damage you can get is from touching her arms or her head (the latter of which is high up enough that it's not generally a problem).
Bag of Spilling: According to the manual, Lemeza's equipment was seized by airport security except the whip and MSX, which he saved by screaming "THESE ARE SOUVENIRS!" until they let him take them along.
Bamboo Technology: Some of the children of the mother built impressive mechanisms despite not seeming to have technologically progressed too far. Though it overlaps with Schizo Tech, since someone built the Tower of Ruin and the Tower of the Goddess.
Barrier Change Boss: Each form of The Mother, in the original PC release anyway, is vulnerable to one specific weapon only, though the boss can't change them at will. Do you have them all?
Beam Spam: The tiny flying demons in the Dimensional Corridor love to shoot lasers all over the place, and they usually come in groups.
Big Boo's Haunt: The Giants' Mausoleum, and to a much lesser extent the ruins in general.
Even moreso in the remake where there's even a giant ghost sub-boss.
Bittersweet Ending: In perspective, the end of La Mulana is REALLY sad. Mother always wanted to go back to the heavens, but all that can be given to her is the peace of death. But in doing that, it actually seals the fate of Earth, because without Mother, no more sentient races would rise on Earth. Granted, the treasure of La Mulana could make a normal human being capable of doing what she could... But can a human be trusted with that power?
Not to mention the fact that you go through all the work of getting the treasure only for your father to steal it from you in the end. In other words, the power to create life is now in the hands of a thieving jerk!
Blackout Basement: In the original's Chamber of Extinction, about half of the rooms are blacked out and though you can still see Lemeza and enemies, you have to hit certain lights with the Flare Gun to (temporarily) light up the area. In the remake's Chamber of Extinction, you have about a 1-tile radius around Lemeza lit up for you, but you can't see anything beyond it, enemies especially. Oh, and every room in the chamber is now cloaked in the same darkness. Sure, there's a light somewhere in every room, but how many Flares did you bring with you? Enjoy! (In either case, the darkness can be permanently banished by solving a certain puzzle in the Chamber of Birth... the entrance to which requires navigating the Chamber of Extinction first.) Also, both Tower of the Goddess and Hell Temple have a room which is dark initially, but easier to get the lights back on.
Bland-Name Product: The Super Notebook MSX was manufactured by S.ONY according to the manual. In the remake the computer becomes the Mobile Super X.
"Blind Idiot" Translation: The game itself was localized well into English, both by fans for the original and professionally for the remake, but the remake's manual's translation is... well...
The purpose of the game is exploring "La-mulana Ruins" which is said the beginning of whole the civilizations. Though you say that you will solve the mystery, you can't know what the mystery are at all. For this reason you may not understand what you should do. But if you follow next four advices, the road will open spontaneously!
Block Puzzle: There are lots of them, with the original's Endless Corridor having the motherlode (four in a row) and Hell Temple having two. In most cases, there are specific pressure plates you need to navigate the blocks to to solve the puzzle.
Bolt of Divine Retribution: Normally used whenever you hit something that you shouldn't. In the remake, you can predict if this will happen in a given room by looking for "The Eye of Divine Retribution" placed somewhere in it.
Bonus Dungeon: Hell Temple, one of the most aptly-named levels in the entire game.
Book Ends: The fanfare at the start of the final boss fight is the same fanfare you hear when you first enter the ruins, and also resembles the Surface music. The music in the True Shrine is also a remix of the game's title theme.
Boring, but Practical: Shurikens. They don't do much damage, but they're the first weapon you'll probably find in the ruins, easy and cheap to purchase from shops, and you can throw them very rapidly.
Boss Remix: Each boss theme has musical sequences for that boss's areas, usually the backside theme, oddly enough.
(Mini-)Boss Rush: The Dimensional Corridor holds Tiamat's eleven children — count 'em, eleven minibosses in just one area. All but one will appear in their room shortly after you do (the other is hidden by a puzzle).
The official editor comes with a Boss Rush mod.
The WiiWare version has two different types of Boss Rushes in the form of DLC; one where you fight all the bosses in a sequential order, and the other one where you fight all of the bosses and mid-bosses in any order, with the whole ruins to explore in. The PC version of the remake has all of this included.
Boss Warning Siren: Once you unlock a boss and have at least one Ankh Jewel, the track "Requiem" plays when you're in the room with the boss Ankh.
Bottomless Pits: Averted; every pit leads somewhere, so it won't kill you if you fall in. But in the original, there's one lava-filled pit that continues down endlessly (and it's one of the steps for unlocking Hell Temple). In the remake, an added room in the Chamber of Birth has a pit that continues endlessly by virtue of simply wrapping around to the same room all over again.
Annoyingly enough, this is obtained after getting through the most ridiculously hard area of the game (Hell Temple), which is nearly impossible to find in the first place without reading the dev team's minds, requires having all the gear to finish the game already, and rewards you with being shown a muscular guy in a woman's swimsuit, being called an idiot, and not even having a mark on your save or inventory to show for the experience. It however is likely to leave the mark of insanity on the player. Clearly, the dev team are completely sadistic.
Breaking the Fourth Wall: Duracuets, in regards to the Hell Temple treasure. Judging by Lemeza's facial expression when he equips it, Duracuets isn't really making fun of him so much as making fun of YOU.
Break the Haughty: A tablet in Chi You's room in the remake tells a story of someone who was the ultimate fool due to being blinded by pride; a fool who "deserves naught but death". Perhaps not coincidentally, there's a Kaizo Trap in the same room.
Breath Weapon: Par for the course for many sorts of monsters, including bosses Ellmac and Bahamut, Tiamat's children Ushumgallu and Mushussu (who has two varieties of breath weapon), and pegasi and demons in the Shrine of the Mother.
Brutal Bonus Level: "Welcome to Hell Temple. This place is one that none should come to. If thou will have no regrets regardless of what happens, proceed. This is Hell Temple. Hell temple is Hell!"
Chekhov's Boomerang: A few items which solved precisely one puzzle in the original are, in the remake, now used to solve several; for example, the Mulana Talisman is required to open a total of four treasure chests instead of just one.
Chinese Vampire: Seen in Endless Corridor — blue zombie-like enemies that hop around and are fairly easy to dispatch.
Cipher Language: Ancient La-Mulanese glyphs have a direct one-to-one correlation to modern letters; use the Glyph Reader software to decode them.
Collapsing Ceiling Boss: Sakit's footsteps (and Rocket Punch) cause debris to fall from the ceiling. The original version of Ellmac also has an attack where he roars and debris falls down.
Collapsing Lair: Happens in cutscene format in the original, but played completely straight in the Wiiware remake. Not to mention the fact that it has an utterly obscene Guide Dang It as to where to actually go, especially since all the normal exits are blocked.
Less of a Guide Dang It if you visit Mulbruk repeatedly — she mentions that her room connects to the surface.
Collision Damage: The actual damage isn't as much of an issue as the KNOCKBACK (especially from the Goddamned Bats). However, damage from touching bosses is another story. For example, in the remake, touching Viy (or Palenque) in the remake results in your HP being drained fast, and Mercy Invincibility will not protect you.
Conlang: The glyphs found in the ruins, including an even older set of glyphs in the remake. Also, according to the last mantra tablet, "La-Mulana" apparently means "The Mother" in some ancient language.
Create Your Own Villain: According to one of the Philosophers, the Eighth Children (us modern-day humans) were created without knowledge of The Mother, feeling that if we only viewed her as "ruins", one of us would be willing to fight and defeat her.
Crystal Skull: One of the artifacts acquired late in the game; it unlocks the entrance to Tiamat's Dimensional Corridor.
Culture Chop Suey: The ruins are basically a huge pile-up of most of the world's major cultures, religions and architectural styles. Justified, as the game implies that all intelligent life was born in La-Mulana.
Cut Song: The jukebox program that comes with the PC version of the game reveals a number of songs that never made it into the final version of the game.
In the WiiWare version Good Morning Mom gets used, see Ascended Extra above.
Cutting the Knot: One block puzzle in the Twin Labyrinths (which was unsolvable in the original version) could be bypassed simply by Double Jumping to a platform far across the room. Trying this in the remake (where the puzzle is solvable) will get you zapped by lightning.
Cycle of Hurting: Various traps, most notably the Confusion Gate's 'Sacrificial Pit' and the Twin Labyrinth's passage pits. This is enforced in the remake by having spikes appear and disappear at intervals (as the player can otherwise just walk through them).
Damn You, Muscle Memory: Players who are used to jumping by pressing up may have some difficulty in the remake due to the jump button being assigned to a separate button. (An option to enable up for jumping is provided). Similarly, people used to pressing the original's jump button to cling to walls with the Grapple Claw may also have some troubles in the remake (which requires pressing Up), though Xelpud does email you a tutorial for how to use it.
Dark World: The ruins are broken down into nine sections, each with a corresponding frontside and backside field. The front side usually presents a theme which is subverted by the backside; the first level, the Gate of Guidance, serves as the instructional Noob Cave, but its corresponding side, the Gate of Illusion, breaks all the rules with invisible ladders, portal networks, and a total loss of cohesion.
Dead Character Walking: Due to a glitch in the original, if Lemeza doesn't properly die after taking damage (e.g. getting killed by a paralyzing attack), he can move around without harm but can't attack or use the menus. It's also known as the Zombie Lemeza Glitch.
Deadly Disc: The Chakram in the remake is second in firepower only to the Pistol, but ammunition is very hard to find, somewhat expensive to purchase, and easy to lose track of in heated combat. It also doubles as a lesser Precision-Guided Boomerang, since it matches your elevation as it flies.
Deadly Gas: Two rooms in the Twin Labyrinths are filled with a poisonous fog that gives you 30 seconds before it knocks you out. The original is (for some odd reason) kind enough to just kick you back to the previous room; the remake... Game Over.
Death Trap: And tons of them. One of the most obvious is one in the Temple of Moonlight that closes the area off with walls and drops a Descending Ceiling of Spikes Of Doom on you for a One-Hit Kill. In the remake, there isn't even a treasure chest nearby to tempt you with.
Depth Perplexion: The bats can fly "in front of" any object on the screen, whether or not you can pass it, and will always hurt you if their sprite touches yours. They can also fly "in front of" water and behave exactly the same as they do elsewhere, although since the water is a solid color and the same color they are, they are invisible.
The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: All of the game's assets are in plain image and sound files that you can view/hear normally... except for one: the file depicting the Treasure That Must Not Be Seen appears scrambled, just to keep the surprise.
Subverted in the remake. By looking through the sprite files you can find the animation sprites of both Lemeza and Mulbruk wearing the skimpy suit, as well as the Virtual Paper Doll.
In the remake, Xelpud gives commentary for all the usable items (like the Hand Scanner and the Serpent Staff) that you find in the game. He even has them for the Djed Pillar and the Magatama Jewel, the last two you find, but you can only get one per playthrough due to how Xelpud stops talking after all eight Guardians are beaten, and the puzzles (and bosses) that must be overcome to actually get those items.
Difficulty Levels: Though you can't select them directly, a tablet in the Mausoleum of the Giants will permanently add more enemies throughout the game (and, in the remake, increase the difficulty of boss battles outright) if you ignore its warning to not read it again. Whether or not you've done so is sometimes called "Easy Mode" or "Hard Mode".
The steam version outright calls it "hard mode" in an achievement.
Directionally Solid Platforms: Averted; every platform that's solid enough to stand on top of is solid enough to bump your head on from below. This includes moving platforms, too (though the original is kind enough to let them pass through you if it avoids getting crushed into the ground).
Disconnected Side Area: There are quite a few (such as in the Chamber of Extinction, which has two). A path you need to take late in the game consists mostly of them.
Distaff Counterpart: Temple of the Sun, "the valiant, male temple", and its counterpart, the Temple of Moonlight, "the lovely, female temple."
Door To Before: Many puzzles, once solved, open up passages to facilitate quicker travel back-and-forth (even Hell Temple). In some areas (like the Confusion Gate and Chamber of Birth), the Grail tablet is almost a prize in and of itself, since once you've reached it you can warp directly to it at any time, skipping whatever obstacles were required to get there.
Double Jump: Acquiring the Feather allows you to do this. Note that in the original version, you must execute the second jump before the apex of the first (while in the remake, you can perform the double-jump at any time).
Gozu and Mezu (aka Ox Head and Horse Face), which fight you from opposite sides.
Amphisbaena is one creature, but the fight against him runs on the same principle, especially in the remake where the body connecting its heads resides in the background.
The original's Hell Temple is replete with rooms containing multiple minibosses at once - especially the "Land of Hell" rooms which you land in almost every time you fall off a screen.
Dub Name Change: The English version of the remake transliterates most of the names differently than the English patch of the original game. The exception seems to be the area names which are the same in both versions of the game, with the exception of the Confusion Gate/Gate of Illusion. (Ironic since the Japanese version of the remake gives the area names in English already.)
Dysfunctional Family: The Kosugis. Shorn abandoned Lemeza at a young age and Lumisa's relationship to them isn't entirely clear: she's either Lemeza's wife's daughter (which could mean she's from a previous marriage, or else that Lemeza fathered her when he was 15) or she might be Shorn's illegitimate daughter and Lemeza's half-sister. It remains to be seen how she gets along with them, but Lemeza and Shorn are constantly at odds with one another.
Easter Egg: The Maze of Galious area found in the original's Chamber of Extinction, which is also a convenient shortcut between the two parts of the chamber. It is replaced by the Gate of Time in the remake (see Nostalgia Level).
Easy Levels, Hard Bosses: Combat is only a minor issue throughout the game — puzzles and navigation are the main challenge, and being knocked into water or off a platform is more dangerous than Hit Point loss from attacks. During a Boss Battle, though, this is completely different. Doubly so in the remake, due to the bosses' behaviors getting various tweaks, and where reading the forbidden tablet in the Mausoleum of the Giants actually increases the strength (HP and attack power) of all bosses.
The End of the World as We Know It: The remake implies it's the Mother who has caused the great cataclysms/disasters of the past because her children failed to return her to the sky, and that she'll destroy the "eighth child" (modern day humans) in 2015.
Essence Drop: In the remake, you don't automatically get EXP when you defeat an enemy; they randomly drop green orbs which give EXP when collected.
Eternal Engine: The Tower of Ruin, especially in the remake. And to some extent, the Tower of the Goddess.
Eternal Recurrence: Whenever one of the Mother's children (i.e. the various sapient races) proved not to be up to the task of returning her to the heavens, she erases it and creates a new one. And since the Seventh Children found that the Mother's desire was no longer possible (if it ever was possible in the first place), the only way this cycle of hope, desperation, and frustration is ending is if the Mother herself is killed instead. It never really helped that the only race which showed all that much enthusiasm for restoring the Mother was the Giants — and even then, Sakit's faction wasn't keen on being abandoned.
Evil Overlooker: The Mother's face looms over Lemeza in the original game's mock-boxart. Less obvious but still present in the remake.
Evolving Weapon: The starting whip can be upgraded twice to deal double or triple the damage. Not to mention the Castlevania-Mahjong Wizard ROM combo, which grants you five times the usual damage.
Fan Disservice / Fanservice: Two words and a symbol: SKIMPY ♥ SUIT. If you know what to expect, though, and are into guys, Lemeza's pretty good-looking. It leans more fanservicey in the remake, where instead of a single jump scare of a scene that doesn't even leave a mark on your save file, Lemeza's Virtual Paper Doll, sprite, and idle animation changes, so it's more like a reward. The remake also lets you see Mulbruk wearing the same bathing suit if you beat the game after conquering Hell Temple, so everybody's happy!◊
It goes back into Fan Disservice if you consider that her father made the swimsuit for her.
Final Boss, New Dimension: Several new dimensions, actually. This has led to community debates regarding whether what you're fighting actually is the final boss or merely some sort of security system.
Final Exam Boss: All of the primary (melee) weapons must be used to defeat the original's final boss. If you're missing one, you can't beat her until you find it. In the remake your choice of weapon doesn't matter as much, but the boss's final form utilizes the signature attacks of all eight Guardians as the battle goes on.
Flare Gun: A secondary weapon to be found in the ruins. Useful for solving puzzles and hitting monsters above the player, but probably not a weapon to be relied upon (except for bosses).
Flunky Boss: A few bosses have regular enemies alongside them, such as (the original's) Tiamat constantly spawning bats, and the witches who accompany Baphomet.
Foreshadowing: The development team actually came up with the idea to make a La-Mulana 2 during the development of the remake, and slipped in some hints about it throughout the game. For some examples, look for the tablets that discuss the ninth children, and the one that says the eighth children (humanity) will be wiped out in 2015.
Game-Breaking Bug: The PC remake has a possibility of crashing at certain points, even in the latest version. The frequency seems to vary from system to system.
Game Mod: The creators of La-Mulana released an editor tool, including that tool has a Boss Rush and a Time Attack mode of Hell Temple. However actual mods are very rare, if not impossible to find due to either La-Mulana not being very popular when the tool was released or no one has even bother to translate the tool to proper English. This will also be possible in the PC remake, but not to the same extent.
Gratuitous English: The Japanese version of the game opens with "Finally I got to the La-Mulana [sic]. The adventure starts here!" Also, the introduction text of the original was edited a bit for readability in the patch.
The soundtrack titles are filled with it. Some examples are "Fanfale," "Interstice of the Dimention," and "Mother Will Be Awaken". Also most titles aren't capitalized correctly.
Guide Dang It: You might have more luck searching for the actual Ark of the Covenant than attempting to finish this game without an FAQ.
Combining certain MSX RO Ms can result in useful effects such as boosted attack power or extended Mercy Invincibility... but with a pool of over 50 RO Ms, good luck trying to figure out what to combine with what. This isn't as much of an issue in the remake with its .exe files, as there aren't nearly as many to mix and match, and half of them have useful functions on their own.
Hammerspace: Spear-throwing naga in the Chamber of Extinction only carried one spear in the original. In the remake, they simply pull another one out of thin air.
Heartbeat Soundtrack: Wonder of the Wonder (the Confusion Gate theme) in the new arranged version. It's also in the arranged version of "Awakening" (the True Shrine of The Mother theme).
Heart Container: Life Jewels (Sacred Orbs in the remake). There's one in each area.
A House Divided: The Giants split into two factions: those who wanted to return Mother to the sky, and those who wanted her to remain on Earth. (Three factions if you want to included Zeb stuck holding up the Earth.)
Inescapable Ambush: In the remake, almost every time you enter a miniboss room the exits slam shut behind you (though you can still teleport out). Anubis is a notable exception, since you can't acquire the item needed to fight him until you've encountered him first.
Anubis is actually an inversion. The ladder to escape his room appears after he drops in.
Infinity+1 Sword: If you have the Gauntlet and the right ROM combo, the Mace becomes the fastest, strongest, and most versatile weapon in the game. In the remake, it's the Key Sword after reciting all the mantras.
Info Dump: Acquire the Ocarina and the four Sages (Philosophers) will tell you pretty much everything about the ruins and their history. Acquire the Diary and elder Xelpud will also fill in a lot of details — in either case, it's a lot more text than you'll get from any other NPC in the game.
Interchangeable Antimatter Keys: The weights: found everywhere (even in shops), used everywhere for various purposes, and each one can only be used once. The remake justifies their one-time use by having them sink into the ground after being placed, presumably becoming impossible to retrieve. This is also true with the Ankh Jewels that summon the bosses — each jewel only works once, and it doesn't matter which one you use for which boss. The game's actual keys (Seals), on the other hand, can open any and all locks of their type.
Interface Screw: In a couple rooms the eye that warns of possible divine retribution is obscured or blocked by the HUD.
Interface Spoiler: Those wanting to not spoil one of the game's most infamous secrets should not read the achivements on Steam, particularly the global achievement stats. Specifically, it spoils the Skimpy Swimsuit's existence and purpose.
Invisible Monsters: One enemy in in Tower of the Goddess, which is invisible until you get the Eye of Truth, and another in the Tower of Ruin, which is said to be so fast it can only be seen by stopping time.
Item Get: While the original merely displayed a dialog telling you the item you just acquired, the remake adds Lemeza proudly holding the item up with one hand.
Jerk Ass: Duracuets with his Schmuck Bait. Though in the remake, he's less of a Jerk Ass and more of a guy whose relieved that he's finally able to pass off his treasure to somebody.
Xelpud in the remake is a bit of a condescending jackass until Lemeza defeats a couple of bosses.
Joke Weapon: The Keyblade is the worst primary weapon in the game (it's as weak as the weakest secondary weapon, in fact), weak, slow and with a smaller hitbox than any other weapon. Naturally, there are many puzzles that require you to use it and even a few bosses that can only be harmed by it. Additionally, as an almost never useful detail, it does extend a few pixels farther forward than any other primary weapon except the mace.
Lethal Joke Weapon: Completing all the mantras in the remake causes the Key Sword to become the most powerful weapon in the game.
Not Completely Useless: In the original, aside from situations where you're forced to use it, its narrow hitbox can be extremely useful in some of the Endless Corridor pot-smashing puzzles, since any other weapon risks accidentally smashing the wrong pots and forcing you to start over.
Jump Physics: Somewhere between Mega Man and Castlevania. If you do a standing jump then you can steer yourself left and right (Mega Man style) as you fall, but not so much if you do a running jump. And if you simply walk off the edge of a platform, you fall straight down (Castlevania style). Also note that in the original version, you couldn't execute a Double Jump after the apex of your jump.
Kaizo Trap: There were a few of them in the original (especially in Hell Temple), but a bunch more in the remake.
Another one occurs when you beat Chi You — the treasure box opens, but about five seconds later the roof falls right down on you if you don't get out of the way.
Stone fist in remake's Hell Temple anyone?
Kamehame Hadoken: The turtle-like "Toujin" enemies also uses this posture when throwing energy balls at you. Also Mother's soul in the remake, especially when executing the Viy-like laser atack.
King Mook: The remake's Ghost Lord and Anubis bosses, and The Boss (of Hell Temple) in either version.
Big Man/Skanda is a large Mud Man.
Knockback: Your main difficulty enhancer; if it happens in midair, you have absolutely zero ability to affect your momentum until you land on solid ground again—even if you land on water you will continue moving backward until you hit the bottom; trying to swim against it will just move you up, meaning you'll go back even further. If you were on a ladder when hit, you at least drop straight down instead of flying across the room.
And if you're hit in mid-air in the Wrap Around room in the remake's Chamber of Birth, your only options are to teleport out or reset.
Laser-Guided Karma: In the remake, Lemeza gets the Feather item by stealing it from the village temple. Elder Xelpud tells Lemeza he'll pay for that one day, and sure enough, in the end Shorn steals the Treasure of Life from Lemeza!
Karma Houdini: Shorn becomes one of these for this very reason, as if leaving behind his son all those years ago and then sending him a letter taunting him to come explore the temple years later weren't enough.
Last Ditch Move: Palenque in the remake makes a kamikaze leap for the player when defeated.
Baphomet in the remake summons pillars of fire upon defeat, though they are very easily avoided.
Lava is Boiling Kool-Aid: Lava is a palette swap of water. The only practical difference between them is that they require different items to avoid taking damage while in them (otherwise, water actually does less damage in the remake than the original; lava, on the other hand...), and different items to be able to access your PC (and use ROMs or teleport out) while in them. Note that in the remake, even with the proper items you still take damage when falling in lava, just very slowly.
Leitmotif: Lemeza, Xelpud, Mulbruk, the Four Philosophers, and every boss.
Lethal Lava Land: The aptly named Inferno Cavern. The Tower of Ruin also counts, though most players will have acquired protection from lava by the time they find it.
Let's Play: There are many playthrough videos out there of course, but DeceasedCrab is one of the few players to create LPs for both the original version and remake. In the latter, he makes a few comparisons between the versions, and even purposefully falls for some (okay, most) of the added traps (like Palenque's Taking You with MeLast Ditch Move).
Level-Map Display: There's a Map item to be found in each area of the dungeon, but viewing a map requires equipping either or both of the Ruins RAM cartridges (or Map Street software). Note that there is no map for the Surface in the original although there is in the remake.
Level Up Fill Up: Filled your experience bar? You don't actually get stronger, but you do get your HP refilled. The remake makes this mechanic easier early on in the game by using your maximum HP to determine the amount of EXP needed to replenish your HP.
Life Drain: Anubis enemies in the Temple of Moonlight. In the original they sap your HP just by being in the same room as them, while in the remake (where there are more of them to go around, especially in Hard mode) they have to actually see you to drain your HP... but when they do, your HP drops fast.
Touching Viy or Palenque in the remake has the same effect.
Deconstructed in La-Mulana 2, in which Lemeza is a wanted criminal due to having destroyed the temple by defeating the Mother.
Lost Forever: Some of the items in the game can be if you mess up on certain puzzles.
Both Whip upgrades can be lost forever if you fail to solve their respective puzzles. The first one at least warns you in advance "err just once, and it will never reach thy hands".
The Angel Shield (Aegis Shield in the remake) in the Dimensional Corridor. Luckily, because it's required for a plot-relevant puzzle, you can pick up the shield by another means.
The Life Jewel in the Dimensional Corridor is nigh-impossible to reach if you defeat the Dragon miniboss first (the boss provides a platform for reaching it.) It can technically still be acquired afterwards, but requires exploiting the knockback from the randomly-flying bats.
Almost any and everything in the Shrine of the Mother (in particular its Life Jewel) can be lost forever if it's not acquired before it transforms into the True Shrine of the Mother.
As well as Hell Temple if you don't complete its whole unlocking process in one go. This, however, is arguably an act of mercy....
In the remake, a tablet in the Dimensional Corridor poses you an offer if you can defeat Tiamat: A hidden fairy somewhere will reset one failed puzzle to give you a second shot at doing it right... but she'll only do this once.
Once you read the hard mode tablet twice, activating it, you can never go back to normal difficulty unless you reload an earlier save or start over.
Luckily My Shield Will Protect Me: Some enemies are shielded, which blocks frontal attacks. Lemeza acquires a variety of shields throughout the game himself, ranging from a simple Buckler (which can block small projectiles, but may break) to a "genuine" (or actually genuine) Silver Shield which can block many attacks but may (temporarily) break from repeated blows, to the golden Aegis/Angel Shield which can block all but some of the most powerful boss attacks. Midboss Chi You also makes effective use of his silver shield in the remake, blocking most of the player's attacks.
MacGuffin: The Treasure of Life, Lemeza (and Shorn's) ultimate goal. Its powers (if any) are never explained, other than that it is connected to the power to create life.
The Maze: At least half of the areas, especially the Chamber of Birth and Confusion Gate/Gate of Illusion with their invisible warp portals. Twin Labyrinths and the True Shrine also qualify to a lesser extent.
Medal of Dishonor: Four of the game's death traps give Achievements, in the Steam version, if Lemeza is killed by them.
Mercy Invincibility: Can be exploited in a few cases, such as dropping caltrops and stepping in them yourself to avoid taking a major attack. A certain ROM combination (in each version) can increase the duration of it as well. On the flipside, the remake gives bosses a split-second of Mercy Invincibility as well (they flash red when struck), which limits how fast the player can spam Shurikens (or the Knife) at their weak points.
Mercy Kill: The plan hatched by the four Sages/Philosophers. Realizing that it will probably never be possible to return the Mother to the sky, they decide the best they can do let the Mother rest in peace.
Metroidvania: Prepare to do a lot of exploration and get lost many times before you find that one item you need to reach that unreachable area over there. Then have fun trying to remember how to get back to wherever that was once you do get the item.
Money Grinding: In the original version, pots containing coins or ammo would reset when you reloaded your save file, allowing you to collect them all over again. In either version, summoning a green ("Luck") fairy pretty much guarantees that any pot you smash will yield coins. And in the remake, a smashable wall in the Chamber of Extinction respawns the moment you leave the screen... meaning that with a green fairy in tow, you can smash that wall again and again and again, and collect hundreds of coins in the process.
Monster Closet: Removing a certain section of wall in the Temple of Moonlight releases a whole bunch of Goddamned Bats. Amazingly enough, this is not a trap.
Moon Logic Puzzle: All puzzles give you just barely enough hints to solve them, but said hints can be ... quite obtuse, and are usually located halfway across the ruins from the puzzle they actually apply to. Good luck figuring out which hints belong to which puzzles....
The route to Hell Temple is a convoluted sequence with many steps, each of which you only get a vague hint for (and it's easy to mess up). Get one step wrong and you have to repeat the whole sequence over (except for one, which due to a glitch can make it permanently inaccessible). Of course, preventing the player from going into Hell Temple can be seen as an act of mercy...
The stupid invisible ladder in the Confusion Gate has made several players completely stuck. The only hint you get is a nearby tablet telling a tale about a fool who thought he was wise and a wise man who thought he was a fool (the hint being that you should Take a Third Option).
How the hell was anyone supposed to figure out how to escape the Collapsing Lair after beating the final boss in the remake? (especially with a strict time limit?) You probably didn't figure out what that tablet in the Dimensional Corridor meant when it warned "there is only one route to salvation: that which has received the holy blessing," and probably never heard Mulbruk specifically ask you "when the ruins fall apart, will you come save me?" either.
Trying to navigate the Chamber of Birth, mostly due to the fact that passages are hidden in walls, and teleports are abound like the Gate of Illusion
Good luck defeating Mother's fourth form in the original without a guide — there are three tablets throughout the ruins that sound like harmless Flavor Text, but they're actually very cryptic hints about where you should be attacking.
The remake's scanning puzzle in the Temple of the Moonlight. The few hints about where to scan are located in different areas of the ruins, and the references are easy to miss. "Face of the highest rank", or "dancing man"?
MSX Hard: The whole game is basically an homage to the era of Nintendo Hard MSX games, so it's only natural that it would be difficult. They promised they'd lower the difficulty in the remake... mostly by removing the Fake Difficulty. A lot of real difficulty remains. The remake's Hell Temple is still quite difficult, but not entirely for the same reasons as the original.
Multiple Endings: While the ending itself doesn't particularly change, the credits sequence can have different characters depending on whether or not certain conditions are met.
Multi-Stage Battle: While two- and even three-stage boss battles are par for the course in modern games, the Mother battle should be acknowledged as it consists of five separate stages, some of which involve substages.
Nipple and Dimed: The developers noted that they had to decide what to do about bare-breasted statues in the Tower of the Goddess area. In the PC edition of the remake, said statues are now slightly more covered. However, the developers have provided a graphics file for download which you can use to easily undo this.
The censored statues were made specifically for the US WiiWare so the game would get an "E" rating and it was this version of the game initially released on PC. Later versions of the game have the statues uncensored by default.
No Sell: The Crucifix will make completely immune to Souls in the original, rather than damage you; the remake cause them to self-destruct on contact with you without taking damage. In the remake, the Scriptures completely nullify the damage and knockback from bats.
Nostalgia Level: The original has an area dedicated to The Maze of Galious (aptly-named "Maze of Galious"), taking you from the Castle to World 1. The remake has The Gate of Time in its place with areas from the original La-Mulana: Mausoleum of the Giants, Gate of Guidance, and the Surface.
Throwing knives — try them on the original's ViyFor Massive Damage. They're also good for detecting fake platforms (but not trapdoors) and edges of solid platforms, especially in dark rooms. (They are replaced by Rolling Shurikens in the remake.)
The remake's Caltrops seem pretty useless since by the time you acquire them you probably have the Knife and Axe which can hit enemies at ground level, but they are very effective for killing the A Bao A Qus (invisible foes which follow you from behind) in the Tower of the Goddess, as well as a general counter for enemies that dive at you from above (i.e. you can focus on dodging while the enemy hits the caltrops you left behind). Plus, you can also exploit them for free Mercy Invincibility.
Not the Fall That Kills You: Although Lemeza never takes simple falling damage (unless you want a Game Mod for that), if you fall about one full screen of distance in the remake, he'll become stunned for a second or two before getting back up.
Notice This: In the PC (but not WiiWare) version of the remake, tablets have a faint red glow to indicate you haven't read (and translated) them yet.
Ominous Vocalizing: The opening of the arranged version of "Awakening" (the True Shrine of The Mother theme).
One Bullet at a Time: Generally, you can only fire up to three projectiles at once, though the exact limit varies depending on the projectile (you can only throw one chakram at a time, for example) and the "Ring" item in the original version increased the limit by one. Also note that in the original, a projectile that was blocked will still count towards this limit as it flies off the screen (in the remake, it will promptly disappear).
One-Hit Kill: Aside from a few traps that spell instant death in the original (and quite a few more added in the remake), there are a few cases where it is weaponized:
Collecting the "Perfume" item allows you to destroy any Skeleton enemy with a single blow.
The remake's Anubis mini-boss has a homing magic attack that will kill you on contact if you don't posess the Book of the Dead (if you do, it just saps your HP).
One to Million to One: Beelzebub, if you try to fight him before the endgame, will simply vanish into a swarm of insects and reform. Salamanders in the remake's Tower of Ruin will split themselves into three flames to teleport around.
One-Winged Angel: Mother's soul, three times! In the remake, Baphomet also undergoes a transformation halfway through the battle, becoming much more mobile and unleashing completely new attacks.
Only Smart People May Pass: All of the puzzles in the game can be solved with information found throughout the game, with the exception of one, where the information needed is in the manual.
Constantly lampshaded by the tablets in the Confusion Gate.
Orbiting Particle Shield: The Centimanti miniboss in the Chamber of Extinction is surrounded by a ring of swirling skulls. The remake replaces these with generic energy orbs. They don't exactly protect the miniboss from taking damage, but they do harm you if you touch them.
Percussive Maintenance: Draining the water from the Spring of the Sky requires whacking a mechanism with your weapon until it works. The remake's Twin Labyrinths has two vertically moving platforms that appear stuck in the ground; you activate them by falling and landing on them from a great height.
Peek-a-Bangs: The Fairy Queen and the Attack Fairy in the remake.
Piercing Projectile: Throwing knives/rolling shuriken, and the chakram can penetrate and damage multiple enemies... up to a point. Then the projectile simply disappears (this can be a concern with the chakram, as its refill ammunition is hard to find).
Platform Battle: In the original version, the boat you stand on while fighting Bahamut doesn't track your movements, so you have to make a concious effort to keep on it while fighting. And in either version, there's a winged miniboss high up in the Confusion Gate/Gate of Illusion that if you fall off the screen, it's a bit of a trip through the Tower of the Goddess just to get back. (On the other hand, if you hit a switch in the room this creates a ladder in the room below so you can simply climb back up — but the boss is back at full HP.)
Platform Hell: The aptly-named Hell Temple. It's one of the few Platform Hell examples where it's hard to actually die from it (mainly due to a lack of Bottomless Pits, but also because the enemies yield so much EXP that your HP gets refilled almost constantly). Considering what it is, though, dying may actually come as a blessing.
Players Are Geniuses: The dev team seems to assume this of the players given how cryptic some of the hints are to their solution. The remake does make a few of them a bit more straightforward, but many are still confusing as all hell.
Power Nullifier: The grail will not work within the Dimensional Corridor, since Tiamat sealed it off from the world.
Precursors: The race of giants who built many of the ruins are the most obvious example, but if you pay attention to the scraps of story scattered throughout the game there are several iterations of "Nth Children of the Mother".
Puzzle Boss: The final boss's fourth form in the original requires you to have found four hints scattered around the ruins to tell you what order to attack the boss in. Attack the wrong target and not only do you get zapped by powerful lightning, the sequence resets.
Recurring Riff: All the boss themes start with the same sequence of notes.
The same note sequence is used in the Chamber of Extinction, Chamber of Birth, and the fight with Palenque.
Recursive Reality: In the remake many of the ROMs are previous games by NIGORO, and one of them is La-Mulana itself. The description even identifies it as "the game you're playing right now!".
Red Eyes, Take Warning: Red eyes come standard on a few enemies (this is noticeable in the remake). There's also the Surface merchant Nebur who complains if you don't buy items from her - her eyes turn red as she rages at you.
Redundant Researcher: There are many adventurers who eventually failed at their research. Check their corpses for notes and items.
In the Wiiware version, the Maze of Galious tribute area has been replaced with the Gate of Time, which has the Surface, Gate of Guidance, and Mausoleum of the Giants in their classic original form (although limited).
Rewarding Inactivity: A few puzzles (most of them plot-important) are solved by waiting and doing nothing in specific areas. Others are solved by pausing the game so that Lemeza falls asleep. One of these areas is a niche that's made to look and represent a mother's uterus.
Rewarding Vandalism: Sure, you can smash pots for gold and/or ammunition, but if you attack something you shouldn't you may get instantly zapped by lightning, or certain statues in the room will get angered enough and start shooting at you (randomly in the original). Do note that there's at least two puzzles that require attacking a statue until it starts shooting back.
Ring Menu: In the remake, Holy Grail destinations are shown in a circular menu, which you access while viewing your Map.
Rocket Punch: Sakit shoots out his left arm, on a large chain that enables the player to reach his weak point. He gets a proper Rocket Punch in the remake, using his right arm.
Rump Roast: In the remake, any time Lemeza takes fire damage from behind the added flame graphic is in just this spot.
Running Gag: The "Curse of Ashguine". Elder Xelpud warns you about it; it turns out to be an iron pipe suddenly sticking out of your crotch. The manual mentions that one type of enemies breathes with an iron pipe originating from its crotch, and the theme of the Spring of the Sky is called "Curse of IRON PIPE"—which contains some musical material that references a certain theme from the game Ashguine 2. (Said material had to be reworked for the WiiWare version to avoid possible copyright issues.)
Save Point: The original version has only one — Elder Xelpud's tent, and you need to equip a "Game Master" ROM on your laptop first. The Enhanced Remake moves this to all Holy Grail tablets, allowing you to save anywhere you find one. And just in case you don't, they make a "quick save" whenever you touch them, enabling you to pick up from there if/when you get killed (at least as long as you're still playing).
Save Game Limits: In the original, the "Game Master" ROM gives you only one save file (number 0, if you will), while the "Game Master 2" ROM gives you four save files (1 thru 4). The PC version of the remake gives you fifteen save slots to use whereas the WiiWare version has only three, two less than the original.
Scenery Gorn: In the remake, the Shrine of the Mother is littered with skull walls, skeletons hung on the background, and skeletons of Humanoid Abominations. And that's not counting what it looks like after it "transforms", with great parts of the place being broken down by Meat Moss-like roots emerging from the Tree of Life.
Schizo Tech: The Tower of the Goddess and the Tower of Ruin have fully-functioning electronics and computer monitors all throughout the areas. Going by in-game text, it seems the Giants were one extremely technologically advanced race. (Heck, the remake implies it's the Giants who left behind murals of binary machine code for you to scan with your computer.)
Schmuck Bait: Many traps are easily spotted (or at least anticipated) in advance, like a too-useful item (Ankh Jewel, Life Orb, etc.) sitting in plain view, a weight pedestal sitting underneath a ceiling of spikes, etc.
As a sort of meta-schmuck-bait, also consider the treasure which must not be seen.
At least one of those trap pedestals is also the solution to a puzzle, but requires that you hit a certain switch elsewhere first (to disable the trap). As well, some traps must be triggered for certain puzzles, like the Descending Ceiling trap you must solve to acquire the Woman Statue.
A certain tablet in the Mausoleum of the Giants forbids you from reading it again (in the remake, it then flips around to reveal its opposite side). If you do, it basically says "you shouldn't have done that" and increases the game's overall difficulty. The extra enemies aren't a game-breaker by any means, but it also makes the bosses stronger, and the only way to undo it is to restore a previous save.
In the remake, NIGORO sure seems to like to mess with people who have played the original game, such as additional traps that didn't exist in the original (or worse, were correct puzzle solutions), some of which also qualify as a Kaizo Trap.
Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: An odd meta-example: In Mukimuki SD Memorial, a second girl appears after the protagonist downs the first one that tried to kill him. Turns out she's a Snatcher too, to which he replies, "Ah, to hell with this." The Robot Buddy invokes the MST3K Mantra, then the ROM crashes.
Sdrawkcab Alias: The game's name, La-Mulana, is the programmer's name, Naramura, with the syllables written backwards. Well, that, and the Japanese lack of distinction between "L" and "R". Xelpud's name spelled backwards is duplex, one of the other developers. Lemeza's Japanese name, Ruemiza, with syllables inverted is Samieru, the third developer's name.
Self-Imposed Challenge: Some Steam achievements require players to do these. Some examples include defeating Zu without using the Lamp of Time and defeating all Guardians (including Mother) without using sub-weapons (one achievement each for normal mode and hard mode).
Sequence Breaking: You can unlock and battle bosses in pretty much any order your items and abilities permit, as there aren't many bosses who actually block paths to the next area (in fact all the puzzles in the first four areas are entirely self-contained within those areas). Do enough exploration and puzzle-solving and you can amass enough power to kill any of the first four bosses in just a few hits each.
On a whole though, the game is well aware of your sequence-breaking desires, and just makes it so you have to work very hard to get what you want. There is almost always more than one path available to you at any time, though one is generally a lot easier than the other.
Maybe the game stops caring about linear paths after a certain point. The game starts to feel like a Wide Open Sandbox the more areas of the ruins you unlock. And in fact, it's highly likely that no two Let's Plays run the game the same way. Unlike say Super Metroid where certain key items are usually obtained and events are done in order.
Sequential Boss: The final boss has no less than five increasingly difficult forms, with no opportunity to warp out or heal between them.
Shall I Repeat That?: In the remake, when NPCs offer large quantities of plot-relevant information, they conclude by offering to repeat it.
Shielded Core Boss: The demon Chi You in the remake, like most bosses, is vulnerable only in the head but it is almost impossible to get a hit in without him simply blocking it with his shield. The solution? Attacking his shield repeatedly will cause him to become stunned for just long enough to leap up and get in a good clean strike. Ordinary skeletons offer a downplayed example, as the first hit causes them to collapse instead of taking damage.
Speaking of Moonwalker, in the WiiWare version of the Moonlight Temple there are actual mural silhouettes of Michael Jackson engraved on some of the walls, one of which changes pose every time you enter the room.
In the remake, the MSX references have been replaced by flash games that NIGORO has made in the past.
The song "Rest, No Rest" in the remake comes from the very first game that Nigoro made, GR3.
Lemeza's whip goes from leather to a chain to a chain with a spiked ball ("mace") just like the classic Castlevania games, among other references like the bone-throwing skeletons.
The developers in the remake for the Lamp of Time couldn't help pass up a Dio Brando/ZA WARUDO reference.
One common enemy is a blue porcupine that curls into a ball and goes around with enormous speed.
There's a heiroglyphic mural of a certain "dancing man" located somewhere in the Temple of Moonlight. Really. It's part of a puzzle, even.
In the remake Lemeza jumps in place after beating a boss, just like the heroes of The Maze of Galious.
If you use the text recorder on the shopkeepers and priests in the various rooms, you'll notice that their names happen to include a lot of MSX game shout-outs. Gailious, Zarnac, Hidlydia, Hotblooded Nemesistwo, Xanado... and that's just for starters.
Ocarinas aren't particularly a Legend of Zelda thing, of course, but the fact that the ocarina is specifically a blue ocarina...
Smashing Hallway Traps of Doom: The remake adds several crushers to the Tower of Ruin — one of which is over a platform where, if you just try to run and jump across it normally, has just the right timing to come down on you right as you're crossing. The infamous block puzzles deep in the Endless Corridor have also been replaced by a hallway filled with spikes and large spinning blades.
Some Dexterity Required: Precisely controlling falling, using grapple claws (especially in the original), and getting used to water/lava swimming physics will take a while to get used to.
Sound of No Damage: A hollow "ping", accompanied by the projectile ricocheting off. In the remake, some bosses (like Anubis) may also glow blue for a moment, indicating that some puzzle must be solved before you can damage them.
Sound Test: In the original, combining certain ROMs ("Shin Synthesizer" and "Snatcher") grants you access to the game's soundtrack; it's also present in the remake as the "Enga Musica" software. In either case, there's a limited and full version of the respective soundtrack, the former having only about 1/3 the songs.
Spell My Name with an S: A few names were romanized differently in the remake: the biggest one is Shorn's name becoming Shawn (further referencing his resemblance to Sean Connery). The giants also have slightly different names, except for Sakit. Oddly enough, in the Gate of Time, they're given their old names from the Aeon Genesis translation. Udjat is also now romanized as Wedjet, and Shu now goes by his Chinese name, Chi You.
Spikes Of Doom: For the most part, they are actually more annoying than deadly. In the remake, though, they take out a larger chunk of your health, but you now have the ability to walk through them from the sides... but there are a few exceptions (which tend to look different from the usual spikes anyway).
Spiritual Successor: The game was made by fans of the relatively little-known Konami MSX game Knightmare II: Maze of Galious. In the manual, they explain modern games just aren't thrilling enough. Not only that, but there is a hidden area based off of it in the original.
Squick: Xelpud and Mulbruk have this reaction In-Universe if you talk to them after obtaining the "Treasure That Must Not Be Seen" from Hell Temple in the remake. Pretty understandable on Mulbruk's part - her father was the one who made that clothing for her.
Stationary Boss: Baphomet, Tiamat, and Mother's first form in either version. (This does not include Baphomet's One-Winged Angel in the remake.) And to a lesser extent, Viy (because though Viy is more or less stationary, the arena itself is constantly scrolling)
Stealth Pun: "Strength lies at the foot of" one of the Giant statues. Which statue, you ask? Fut (Futo). You place a weight on the statue's foot to reveal a life upgrade (or, if you picked the wrong one, a spike trap).
Steam Vent Obstacle: There are a few steam vents in the Inferno Cavern, especially along one vertical shaft that hides a way to the chain whip upgrade.
Story Breadcrumbs: You arrive at the ruins with basically no information beyond a "most who went in never came back out" by Elder Xelpud. Most of the backstory you pick up via clues scattered across tablets; though you do get a lot of backstory near the end by talking to the Four Philosophers, and from Elder Xelpud after acquiring Shorn's diary.
So does Palenque, who actually does this as a kamikaze attack in the remake.
Super Drowning Skills: Initially in either version, merely touching water inflicts damage on. (The remake claims the water is somewhat toxic.) At least until you acquire the Scalesphere... but the game warns that you do have to swim through water before you can get it.
Super Not-Drowning Skills: After which, water is entirely harmless (save for during Bahamut's boss battle in the original version). Which makes the Spring in the Sky subsequently one of the safest levels in the game, as half its difficulty came from drowning. The same is oddly true for lava. In fact, in all likelihood, you'll be able to swim around in LAVA before water.
Also for legal purposes, the much-loved song "Curse of IRON PIPE" has had its last segment tweaked due to being a note-for-note copy of a melody from obscure MSX game Asguine 2. (The rest of the song is unaffected, though it's also been renamed to "Curse of Ocean".)
It would be almost impossible to damage Sakit if his arm didn't make a convenient bridge to his weak point.
Ellmac (in the original version only) is one as well, as it's much easier to hit him when he backs off and returns with his head at just the right level for you to spam shurikens at him when doing his cave-in attack. In the remake there are sections of track that elevate you to striking range of his face, but they're relatively short, and Ellmac has a nasty habit of charging you for a (very damaging) bite attack.
Viy doesn't really need to open his eye (his only weakpoint) to attack you, even if it's required for his most powerful attacks. Perhaps the demons that open it are actually on your side?
Take a Third Option: In the Confusion Gate/Gate of Illusion, at an intersection of one-way doors, a stone tablet tells the story of a fool who went right and a wise man who went left. The proper route? An invisible ladder in the original which takes you to the ledge above it, and in the remake, something to scan which opens a hole in the floor to fall through (also taking you to the ledge above it).
Taking You with Me: The remake's Palenque pulls this right at the end of his boss fight when he's killed, jumping out of his spaceship and exploding — if he's not knocked back into his ship with a well-timed hit, it's a instant death.
Baphomet tries this as well, spouting flame columns from the ground when it dies. However, these are easily avoided by hugging a wall.
Tears of Blood: The third form of the Mother cries these, and they turn into blazes of fire when they hit the ground.
Tennis Boss: In the second form of the original's final boss, the swirling disks have to be hit with the knife (and only the knife) to knock them back at her.
Timed Platform: While various areas in the ruins already feature platforms that crumble when you step on them, an isolated pair of rooms in the Inferno Cavern has platforms that move in and out of the background at timed intervals (though not anywhere as complex as the infamous timed platforms of Mega Man fame).
Time Stands Still: The Lamp of Time item allows you to freeze time for about ten seconds, which is used to solve a few puzzles (and you can rack up massive damage to enemies in the meantime). In the original, it recharges after a minute or so, while in the remake, you have to go to specific places to recharge it. And be warned - there's one miniboss in the remake that uses time-stopping power against you, and there's little you can do to avoid it.
Tomorrowland: Most of the game is ancient, dusty ruins. Then the Tower of the Goddess comes along, and it's a spaceship.
Took a Level in Badass: Most of the bosses and sub-bosses are much more difficult in the remake than the original, with or without Turning Red. For two, it is no longer possible to simply spam Shurikens at Amphisbaena, and Viy no longer flinches every time you damage him.
Trap Door: Temple of Doom has plenty of them. In the remake, some of them stay open long enough for you to potentially jump back up through them.
Try Everything: The game is designed to discourage brute-force solutions. Doing this will likely lead to a lot of deaths and (in some cases) can even make 100% Completion impossible.
Turns Red: Just about every boss has this to some extent, usually starting with a subtle increase in their attack speed. It is more explicit in the remake; for example, after damaging Sakit enough the stone plate on his face falls off and he drops his energy ball attack in favor of a Rocket Punch. The "Soul of Death" in the final boss fight takes this to an extreme, by casually gaining more attacks and having different animations in the background the more you hurt it. Baphomet also deserves mention for a completely new One-Winged Angel form.
Unexpected Shmup Level: The boss battle against Palenque, especially if you have a lot of Shurikens to toss at him from afar, and especially in the remake where his attacks become a lesser Bullet Hell in their own right. PR3 is an Unexpected Shmup Minigame, and you need to reach a high enough score to clear one puzzle in the Hell Temple.
Unique Enemy: The black witch in the Twin Labyrinths, who is part of the puzzle for locating Baphomet's Ankh.
Uncanny Atmosphere: Eden in the remake — an overly bright and cheery, calm and peaceful one-screen paradise in ruins that are otherwise dark and dreary, melancholic or tragic, or just plain trying to kill you. It's actually the Gate of Illusion.
Victory Dance: The remake gives Lemeza one after defeating each Guardian.
Video Game Cruelty Punishment: It's not really what you call cruelty, but attacking statues will cause them to fire darts at you. It becomes cruelty when you learn that the ruins are the body of the Mother; you're attacking her from the inside.
Video Game Remake: The WiiWare and PC remake. Aside from updating the graphics from 8-bit to 16-bit styles, several puzzles have been tweaked or changed, and the Grail tablets double as Save Points.
Visible Invisibility: Enemies known as "A Bao A Qu" in the Tower of the Goddess are invisible. In the original, this meant completely invisible at first (and completely visible after acquiring the Eye of Truth). In the remake, you can just barely see them at first, and even after acquiring the Eye of Truth, they're still mostly invisible (but you can clearly see their outlined shapes).
Waiting Puzzle: Some of the puzzles require standing idle in specific spots for some time; one puzzle specifically requires pausing the game long enough for Lemeza to go through his entire Idle Animation and start taking a nap.
While the original's Amphisbaena could be dispatched rather quickly by spamming shurikens when one of the heads is at ground level, the remake's Amphisbeana has a slightly different method of attack.
Sakit in either version. As the boss of the second area, he is many times harder than Amphisbaena was, as he is immune to subweapons (projectiles) and is only vulnerable in the head, which requires a minor Colossus Climb (in a relatively short window of opportunity) up one of his arms to reach.
Walk, Don't Swim: Swimming in the original translates into walking around underwater with reduced gravity and movement speed, and the ability to make infinite mid-air jumps. The remake polishes up the graphics with a swimming animation, though the actual physics remain unchanged.
Surprise Fish in the Spring in the Sky remain in place until you approach, then leap out at you. They were almost invisible in the original (due to being the same color as water), though they're easily spotted in the remake.
On the other hand, those blobby hands reaching out of floor and ceilings to attack you in the Chamber of Extinction were easy to spot ahead of time in the original, but that's no longer the case in the remake.
Warp Whistle: The Holy Grail. However, you must first locate and read the stone monument (with the Glyph Reader) that identifies an area before you can teleport in. You also cannot teleport out from inside the Dimensional Corridor (though you can still teleport in from outside).
Wham Episode: The Eden area in the remake. Moreso if you haven't played the original; at first it seems like a nice relief from all the difficult puzzles and combat, then you solve the puzzle in Eden that promises "more happiness", and... "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!" Welcome to the Gate of Illusion!
With This Herring: The lack of starting equipment is HandWaved in the manual as Lemeza's stuff being confiscated by airport security.
Womb Level: The entire game, since the ruins are the body of the Mother, but especially the True Shrine of the Mother, and the Temple of Moonlight. The former is chock full of organic tentacle-things radiating from the boss room, and the latter... well, the latter is a literal womb, with walls covered in what looks like muscle tissue, with arms stretching out of it at times. It even has a mural depicting the entire female reproductive system.
Wrap Around: The Endless Corridor wraps around after four screens. In the remake's Chamber of Birth, there's also a room where if you fall off the bottom, you just reappear at the top and continue falling, endlessly.
Wutai: Dimensional Corridor has Japanese-themed decor.
X-Ray Sparks: The remake gives Lemeza some any time he takes a lightning attack.
One gravestone calls you "Ye fool" instead of the proper "Thou fool".
"Be thee a wise man?" instead of "Be thou...?"
You Fool!: Commonly found on glyphs, especially in the Confusion Gate which constantly questions whether the player is a "wise man" or "fool". Then there's a memorable one from a puzzle in the Endless Corridor:
He who runs needlessly. Thou art a fool. Thou art a fool. Thou art a fool. Thou art a fool.
You Gotta Have Blue Hair: The Attack Fairy and Item Fairy with blue and green hair respectively. NIGORO has posted a beginner's guide to La-Mulana on their YouTube channel with a Super-Deformed Mulbruk guiding players through the essential basics of the game with green hair; same Mulbruk can be seen in a sidebar background in the PC version of the remake if you set the aspect-ratio of the game screen to 4:3.
Want to save the game in the original? You need to buy the ROM to do that for 10 coins. Want multiple save files? You'll need to find a better ROM later in the game. (This is averted in the remake, where you can save using the grail points.)
Also in the original, every time you pick up a new sub-weapon (shuriken, flares, etc.), the ammunition to actually use them is not included. You have to acquire (or buy) it separately. (Again, the remake averts this by giving you some ammo for the sub-weapons when you obtain them.)