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Video Game / Götzendiener

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Time to meet your Princess Maker.
Götzendiener,note  also rendered as ゲッツェンディーナー, is a Dungeon Crawling Action-Adventure comparable to Mystic Towers and ICO. It saw release on the PC Engine in November of 1994 and like many late titles remained exclusive to Japan. The decision to keep the game on home soil may have also been influenced by the fact that the video game is based on a novel, which was not translated either. The novel was written by Hiroe Suga and published in Dengeki PC Engine from February to July of 1994. A handful of studios worked on the video game, but the main developer is Studio Gainax while NEC Home Electronics served as the publisher.

Literally every article written about Götzendiener opens with a description of the title sequence and that's for good reason because it pulls a flawless Bait-and-Switch. A lovely princess gets abducted from her room by the forces of evil. An army sets out to rescue her. All fall but one lone warrior, who bravely marches on to confront the demon king holding the princess up in chains. At this point the cinematics stop and the sequence continues with in-game graphics. Gameplay is just around the corner! One mighty sword swing slays the demon king... and then the warrior succumbs to his wounds. The princess breaks free, ties up her hair, rips off her dress, and picks up the warrior's sword. Demons be warned.

As intriguing as the title sequence may be, the gameplay is unable to hold up due to lackluster execution. Looking at the release dates of the novel and the game, this is as good as certain due to a rushed development. The first thing to say about the gameplay in Götzendiener is that it is slow. On one hand, the diagonal movement required in the isometric field does not agree well with the d-pad. On the other, the realistic trappings of a Cinematic Platform Game are present but none of the Anti-Frustration Features. Notably, Princess Misa cannot run, which is bothersome given that the palace she's escaping is spacious and sparse. On the rare occasion a room is decorated, it's because the decoration is part of a puzzle. Which means there's not a lot of puzzles. There's not a lot of enemies either.

Nevertheless, the game's minimalism, whether intentional or not, is tastefully implemented. The remnants of abandoned gameplay go hand-in-hand with the notion that the big battle has already been fought and that the princess's sole task is to escape the few monsters that haven't already been dealt with. Similarly, what little of the novel's plot made it into the game is a better fit courtesy of the overall sense of abandonment.

Götzendiener exhibits the following tropes:

  • Action Dress Rip: One of the preparatory actions the princess takes to face the dangers of the demon palace alone is to rip off her entire skirt. She walks around for most of the game in her knee-length bloomers.
  • All There in the Manual: The game is an adaptation of a novel and relies on that connection, lacking various bits of information about what's going on because the audience is expected to have read the novel. Some of this information is given in the manual, such as that the princess's name is Kishu Rim Misa.
  • Animate Dead:
    • The princess has two magic spells at her disposal, one of which the ability to revive slain enemies. The usefulness of this spell is limited by the fact that most enemies disintegrate upon defeat. Of the few that stay, only the Seeigel in the Abandoned Mines is recommended to bring along against the last two powerful non-bosses.
    • Tänzers are harmless monsters on their own, but their skill is to bring back the dead, possibly even stronger than they were when alive.
  • Book Ends: The princess is abducted on a Wald Vogel at the start of the game. She escapes on a Wald Vogel at the end of the game.
  • Broken Pedestal: The corrupt actions of her bloodline and the people's fear of her family ruling the kingdom unchecked is implied to play a factor in the princess rejecting her heritage and was most certainly unhappy to hear about it when the demon god reveals it to her.
  • But Thou Must!: The player gains control of the princess before she picks up the sword. It is possible to walk around and pass by the one monster hanging around on the same floor, but the princess can't use ladders in her full royal ensemble and therefore can't proceed unless the sword is picked up.
  • Came Back Strong: It's left ambiguous, but it takes a lot more sword swings from the princess to bring down the revived demon king than it took the warrior to kill the demon king.
  • Clothing Damage: Misa loses much of her clothes and hair throughout her adventure. She gets abducted while wearing a luxurious dress. She voluntarily parts with the skirt at the start of the game to have greater freedom of movement. When she confronts the old god about midway in the game, she cuts off her hair and through unknown means and for unknown reasons loses her bloomers. Therefore, she walks around only in a leotard during the game's second half. In the ending sequence, she's depicted as also having done away with her shoes.
  • Damsel out of Distress: When the beautiful princess is kidnapped by demons, a brave warrior comes to her rescue. He dies from his wounds right after slaying the demon king, leaving the princess no other choice but to take her rescuer's sword and break herself out.
  • Death Course: The second half of the Catacombs are a weak version of a death course. Princess Misa falls into this area when the floor beneath her gives way and to traverse onwards she must continue finding weakened floors to fall through. Falling takes health points, but the place is fortunately littered with healing gems. So the way to go is to fall, wait around until you're healed, walk around until the floor cracks open again, and then wait again, and so on.
  • Decoy Protagonist: You thought the brave lad that is the sole survivor of the rescue siege on the demon king's castle would be the game's protagonist? Sorry, he dies before the game even starts, but he did bring along the Sword of the Valiant for the princess to use to save herself.
  • Dungeon Bypass: The starter puzzle to get the princess across a narrow gap in the floor has an easy and an easier solution. Either you climb down a few ladders until one breaks and you bring back the broken piece to use it as a bridge... or you straightaway jump over the *narrow* gap.
  • Floorboard Failure: Midway through the Catacombs, Princess Misa falls through the floor into a cave system with no exit. The only way to traverse this area is to keep finding weak floor to fall through.
  • Foreshadowing: There's a Tänzer in Catacombs that reanimates the dead into Schleppens. The final boss is an especially powerful Tänzer who decided they should go ahead and revive the demon king.
  • Gratuitous German: The title, Götzendiener, is german for "idolator". All of the enemies have German names too. In order of encountering them, they are the Speer (Spear), the Faost/Faust (Fist), the Gespenst (Spectre), Pilz (Mushroom/Fungus), Tänzer (Dancer), Schleppen (To Drag), Kerbtier (Insect), Seeigel (Sea Urchin), Reich (Realm), Erst (First), Verhärtung (Hardening), and Erfolg (Success/Beneficial Consequence). The name for the brown birds that serve as mounts is Wald Vogel (Forest Bird). These names are all there is to give the game a German flavor, because neither the setting nor the princess's name of Kishu Rim Misa is particularly German. The demon king also is not given a German name or title.
  • Heroic Mime: Princess Misa doesn't speak even once during the game. She's spoken to only twice, by the demon-gods no less, and mostly they have stuff to say that doesn't call for a response. Still, one would expect some vocal protest when the demon-gods tell her she stands no chance.
  • Important Haircut: Princess Misa has luxuriously long hair suitable for a woman of noble birth. She first ties it up into a Tomboyish Ponytail when she sets out to escape on her own. Then, when she learns that her ancestors became royalty for scummy reasons and that the people of her kingdom fear her family's unchecked power, she cuts it off. Her exact message is left up to interpretation, but it does symbolize a decision to break with her heritage.
  • Isometric Projection: The game field is presented at an angle.
  • Life Meter: The princess's life meter takes the form of a piece of jewelry in the lower left corner. On it are four gems in the colors blue, green, yellow, and red. If Misa takes damage, the colors of the gems dull starting with the blue one and ending with the red one. Each gem has two states of dullness, meaning that Misa has eight hit points total.
  • Modesty Shorts: Upon escaping her chains, the princess rips off her floor-length skirt to reveal knee-length bloomers. This is not her underwear, because she is later shown to also be wearing a leotard when she loses the bloomers. The modesty shorts don't matter for the audience, but one can imagine it offered a droplet of comfort to the princess during her Unwilling Suspension.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: The demon-god encountered midway through the game has six arms, is huge, and Princess Misa's enemy.
  • Playing with Fire: The princess has two magic spells at her disposal, one of which the ability to manipulate fire. If there is a flame nearby, she can summon a stream from it to burn down wooden barriers.
  • Primary-Color Champion: Both the princess's combat-ready sprites and the warrior in general wear primary colors. To elaborate on the situation of the princess, the dress she is abducted in is mauve as seen in the cutscenes and her original sprite. It's only after she removes her skirt that her top turns red — and then still the cutscenes depict it as mauve. Meanwhile, her dress is definitely red in the cover art.
  • Princess Protagonist: The title sequence at first makes it seem that the goal of the game is to rescue a princess. By the end of the title sequence, it's clear that the goal of the game is for the princess to rescue herself.
  • Recurring Boss: The demon king is the Final Boss to the warrior, who perishes after killing him. The demon king is later revived by a Tänzer so he can also be the Final Boss to the princess.
  • Respawning Enemies: Enemies respawn upon leaving and entering an area. But you don't ever have to backtrack so that problem solves itself.
  • Riddle for the Ages: Seriously, what ever happened to the princess's bloomers!?
  • Targeted Human Sacrifice: Princess Misa is a descendent of the people who sealed away the demon-gods, so she specifically needs to be offered up to undo the seal.
  • Third Eye: The demon-god has a third eye aligned vertically on his forehead.
  • Tomboyish Ponytail: One of the preparatory actions the princess takes to face the dangers of the demon palace alone is to tie her long hair up into a ponytail.
  • Unwilling Suspension: When the warrior finds the princess, she's suspended by her wrist with a thick metal chain. She breaks free moments after he perishes.
  • Villain Has a Point: The demon god, despite being an enemy to Misa, makes no bones on revealing how corrupt her family was to her.