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Video Game / Tombs & Treasure

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Tombs & Treasure (Taiyō no Shinden Asteka II, also known as Asteka II: Templo del Sol), is a first/third person graphical Adventure Game, developed by Falcom in 1986 note , for the PC88, PC98, and MSX2 platforms, and was later ported to the Famicom (in 1988), Sega Saturn (in 1998), and Microsoft Windows (in 1999). It puts the player in the role of an archaeologist exploring the ruins of the Mayan city Chichén Itzá (on the Yucatán Peninsula).

Whereas its predecessor Asteka was essentially a Text Adventure (it had static pictures for areas in the game, but was still controlled by a Text Parser), this game is instead menu-driven. It closely resembles ICOM's adventure games (Déjà Vu (1985), Uninvited, and Shadowgate), but differs in two major ways. First, choosing objects to interact with is not done with a mouse pointer, but rather you "cycle through" all objects on the screen (and therefore you never need to hunt pixels). Second, it includes an overhead-view map (or "overworld") for travelling from one building to another (when you enter a building, it shifts to first-person mode).

The Famicom/NES port deserves special mention, for two reasons. First, it was the only one to receive an English-language localization; this version was titled Tombs & Treasure, released in 1991 by Infocomnote . Second, Compile, who developed this port, made some major changes to the game; in particular, expanding upon the story (which was almost non-existent in the original), adding more characters, and adding some minor RPG Elements. The backstory now involves a previous expedition to Chichén Itzá, led by Professor Imes, in which most of the group disappeared, and your mission is to find them. Also, whereas the original game had only an Featureless Protagonist, here you play as a party of three characters: a man (whose name is chosen by the player, and there is no default name), Professor Imes's daughter (this character also does not have a canonical name), and José the guide. Each of the latter two characters has an ability that must be used in order to progress past certain obstacles; specifically, the daughter can play musical instruments, and José can move heavy objects. The RPG Elements consist of a few enemies that you encounter (there's a fixed number of them, each one is unique, and each one appears at a single specific location), a Turn-Based Combat system for fighting the enemies, and an Experience Points system (these points are rewarded both for defeating enemies and for making progress through the adventure-game puzzles).

This game provides examples of:

  • Adventurer Archaeologist
  • All in a Row: Only in the Famicom/NES version, on the overworld map.
  • Already Undone for You: In the introduction, José tells you that the monsters inside the ruins have rearranged everything to how it was before the professor's expedition.
  • Ambiguously Brown: The player character in the NES version. He looks like a Hispanic take on Adol Christin.
  • Beef Gate: Most of the enemies, especially the earlier ones, are there mainly for the purpose of preventing you from entering an area before you have the right items to solve the puzzles in that area. (You are rewarded experience points for solving puzzles / acquiring items; therefore, making progress lets you win against certain enemies that you previously could not defeat. Additionally, some enemies require you to have certain items in order to defeat them.) As mentioned previously, though, the version of the game other than the Famicom/NES one contain no enemies at all, thus making it more difficult to know where you're supposed to go to next.
  • Bilingual Bonus: "Akbal" refers to nighttime and the underworld, tying in with the jewel's purpose of affecting demons; "ixmol" means "conductress", as in someone who presides over religious ceremonies. Possible Genius Bonus at work, since we're talking about the Mayan language here.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: Honestly not that bad for most of the game, but you can tell when the writing staff obviously hit crunch time and had to rush some lines which suddenly drop the use of articles or other unimportant words, or even punctuation.
  • Busman's Holiday: What starts the adventure. You and the girl decide to go look for Professor Imes because it's summer vacation.
  • Character Portrait: These are used to represent which character is currently "selected". (To use a character-specific ability, you must select the character who has that ability.) Also, there are certain events in the game that cause event-specific static pictures of one of the player characters to be shown.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Looking at Anne three times makes the professor's daughter call you a "two-timer" and insist you're with her.
  • Combat Tentacles: The Big Bad (Famicom/NES version only) is called Tentacula, and (appropriately enough) has tentacles. (It's not clear exactly how Tentacula or any of the other enemies fights, since it doesn't quite have an animation for their attacks; instead, each enemy sprite has an animation that loops continuously whenever that enemy is present, regardless of what you and they are currently doing.)
  • Cool Mask: The One-Eyed and Two-Eyed Masks.
  • Disappeared Dad: Professor Imes, to the girl.
  • Door to Before: Two, and you'd better make sure that they're both open and available to you.
  • El Spanish "-o": El Slug. Actual Spanish would have rendered it as La Babosa.
  • Featureless Protagonist: The player character in the PC-88 / PC-98 / MSX2 versions; not so in the Famicom/NES version. And in the Saturn and Windows versions, the player character bears a suspicious resemblance to Indiana Jones.
  • He Knows About Timed Hits: José explaining how to use the Ixmol Jewel.
  • Hello, [Insert Name Here]: The player character and the professor's daughter, although the game will throw you random names if you leave the spaces blank.
  • Hint System: Cycling through the characters will sometimes make them comment on the situation if their given talent can be utilized. In a stranger example, finding a hidden tunnel to the Nunnery in the southeastern part of the map will make the Mayan god Kukulcan divulge a random tip for you.
  • In-Universe Game Clock: But you need the Sun Necklace to be aware of it, for some reason.
  • Incredible Shrinking Man: Alluded to on the stone tablets in El Castillo Pyramid. Then you actually do it in the Ball Court.
  • Infodump: The sole reason Anne has to be in the game, along with Prof. Imes' notes.
  • It May Help You on Your Quest: At the starting point (the professor's laboratory), you are given three items. One of these (the lighter) isn't used until the final location, and another (the silver key) isn't used until the next-to-last location.)
  • The Key Is Behind the Lock: Played with. The Sun Key is locked inside the Temple of the Sun. The thing is, the actual locking mechanism is inside of the temple itself. Which is only a foot or so in height, with the Sun Key taking up most of the space inside. To get it out, you have to shrink yourself, go inside the now-to-scale temple, use a completely different key in the lock, re-enlarge back outside, and finally open the temple like a dollhouse to claim the Sun Key.
  • Kryptonite Factor: The Akbal Jewel and the Ring of Itza are bad for demons.
  • Macguffin: The Sun Key.
  • Magic Music: The solution to certain puzzles involves causing magical effects by playing music. The professor's daughter is the only player character who can do this.
  • Mayincatec
  • The Maze: You need a compass to navigate it. No exceptions.
  • The Mole: Near the end of the game, José reveals himself to actually be a demon called Scareface, who you must defeat in combat. He says that the reason he joined your group was to gather the items needed to defeat the Big Bad Tentacula, so that he could usurp his position as ruler of the demons.
  • Moon Logic Puzzle: El Caracol is one giant Moon Logic Puzzle. Putting metal globes on pedastals and playing a set of pipes to make the sun reflect off of them and illuminate spots on the walls? Not to mention similarly lit tiles on the ground in the Court of Columns across the lawn? Um, okay.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: Tezcat has six arms (maybe) and each one is wielding a sword.
  • Never Say "Die": A notable aversion, coming from the NES. Both "dead" and "killed" are used several times.
  • No Fourth Wall: The player character addresses you directly a few times, depending on actions taken.
  • Not Even Human: It turns out that José is a demon whose true goal is to usurp Tentacula's position as ruler of the demons, and the reason he joined the player's party was to gather the items needed to defeat Tentacula. He eventually betrays the other player characters in an attempt to steal those items for himself.
  • Only Mostly Dead: The girl when she's found in Tentacula's Shrine. You need the Silver Censer and the bag of incense to wake her up again.
  • Palette Swap: Hornskull is one for Cadaver.
  • Password Save: Of the "game state" type, thus requiring quite long passwords. Also, you need to have an item (the Ixmol Jewel) in order to make the game tell you the password for the current state.
  • Pixel Hunt: Inverted; you're only allowed to highlight objects you can interact with.
  • Playable Epilogue: On the final screen of the ending, pressing the directional pad / start / select will make the characters' faces change expressions.
  • Point of No Return: Taking the stone pawl from the gears in the Ball Court is an irreversible action. Later, Tentacula's Shrine is completely walled in.
  • Power Crystal: The sword can be enhanced by setting the Red or Blue Jewels in the hilt. They also give the Cool Masks unique powers.
  • Race Lift: All the foreign characters (minus José, who hails from Mexico) were Japanese in the Japanese version and were changed to Americans in the English version (and José was named Laura, a female name, in Japan.)
  • Rewarding Vandalism: Several items are hidden inside of temples' walls or floors, which have to be smashed through to reach them.
  • RPG Elements
  • RPGs Equal Combat: Slaying monsters are one way the game rewards you with higher levels; solving puzzles is the other.
  • Save Token: The Ixmol Jewel gives you your current password when examined.
  • Sole Survivor: José is the only returning member of the expedition. Or so he claims, with regards to being part of the expedition.
  • Stable Time Loop: In the ending, you travel back in time to when Chichén Itzá was inhabited, find the missing professor there, and find that he became the High Priest who was buried in the Tomb of the High Priest — one of the locations you visited in the present day during your search for him.
  • The Starscream: Scareface (a/k/a José) wants to overthrow Tentacula and rule the world himself.
  • Sundial Waypoint: See Moon Logic Puzzle.
  • Traversible World Map: A fairly accurate portrayal of Chichen Itza, although the Well of Sacrifice should be much further away, and a few ruins unimportant to the game are missing. Oddly enough, the original Japanese version was the one who got it wrong about the geography of the game: the original name Taiyo no Shinden: Asteka means Temple of the Sun: Aztec, when the "Temple of the Sun" is located in Teotihuacan, near Mexico City and the Aztecs lived in the Central parts of Mexico, but the game itself takes place in Chichen Itza, in Yucatan (located on Southern Mexico), and it was built by the Mayans, not the Aztecs.
  • Treasure Room: El Castillo Pyramid has a greeeat big one.
  • Tsundere: The professor's daughter.
  • Unwinnable: There are a few unwinnable conditions you can reach. At least one of these (the one where you become trapped in a room by closing a door that can only be opened from the outside) is by design, since the game will explicitly tell you to hit the reset button when it happens. Some other unwinnable conditions are the result of combining items too early; the game doesn't always permit you to separate items that have been combined, and some puzzles require using the items in their original (separated) form.
  • Use Item: The ubiquity of the command is lampshaded — the icon for "Use" is a man scratching his head with a Confused Question Mark next to him.
  • Video Game Remake
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: That mummified woman who the player character comments that she appears to be asleep down in the Well of Sacrifice. She raises up a lot of mystery which is never answered.
  • You Can't Get Ye Flask: Mostly averted, but the game uses a lot of redundant verbs which might make things confusing. You have "Move", "Push", and "Pull"note  to choose from, and "Put"ting things is different from "Use"ing it. There's also the extremely situational "Wash" command, which may as well not even be there.

Alternative Title(s): Taiyou No Shinden Asteka II, Asteka II Templo Del Sol