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Video Game / Zeliard

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Zeliard is a Metroid Vania-style adventure game by Game Arts. Like Game Arts' earlier titles Thexder and Silpheed, it was originally released in Japan on the PC-88 in 1987 and brought to western shores by Sierra, the first project helmed by Josh Mandel.

The game takes place two thousand years after a monster known as Jashiin was sealed away by the nine Tears Of Esmesanti, after causing much havoc upon the world and claiming it for his own. After the self-proclaimed "Emperor of Chaos" somehow breaks free from his prison, he causes an extremely long sandstorm (it was raining sand, actually) that severely damages the beautiful landscape and turns Princess Felicia la Felishika to stone, simply as an act of revenge against the descendants of those who imprisoned him. Duke Garland, guided by the Guardian Spirit and appointed by King Felishika, sets forth to reclaim the holy crystals and finish off Jashiin and end his reign of terror. There is a video review, for those who'd like to know more.


The game is now Abandonware, and can be played online or downloaded here.

Zeliard provides examples of the following:

  • Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: Played straight with the inns and magic shops, which generally mark up their prices as you progress. The cost of each next weapon/shield up is always a significant increase from the last one, but if you can put off buying it now, you can actually pick it up at a later town for less. The almas-to-gold exchange rate offered by the banks also changes between towns, generally offering fewer gold for each almas the farther you go.
  • All There in the Manual: The game includes a (black-and-white) map of every dungeon in the game, even identifying such features as invisible air currents and fake walls on the map. This doesn't make it any easier to navigate them, however.
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  • Anti-Grinding: The sages in each town have a limit to how high they can level you up.
  • Asteroids Monster: When damaged, green slimes will split up and multiply, often faster than it takes to slash through them with your sword (hint: use fire). It's actually worse with the red slimes who aren't even damaged and keep cloning themselves everytime you hit them.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: The dragon of the Volcano cavern is vulnerable in the face; anywhere else is more or less Scratch Damage. The zombies (and several later enemies the same size as you) are also only vulnerable in their heads.
  • Big Bad: Jashiin, who was a monster from another galaxy before becoming a Sealed Evil in a Can. He didn't take it very well, and it shows.
  • Blatant Lies: The shopkeeper at the magic shop tells you that the magic feather will bring you back to the last sage you've met. This is actually untrue, the feather will always dump you at the first town. The reason for this was a design change when the game was ported to the West and they didn't corrected the shopkeeper's line. In the original Japanese version the feather does bring you back at the last sage you've met.
  • Blob Monster: Two of the bosses, Agar and Paguro, are gelatinous cubes. Many of the more-common monsters are some kind of blob, especially in the final world.
  • Boss Warning Siren: Not only is the door to the boss room identifiable in advance by an ominous pounding when you approach it (and they're invariably locked and have red gems above them too), but when you enter the room, "ENCOUNTER!" in large red letters will flash on the upper half of the screen before the battle actually begins.
  • Brick Joke: One of the elderly villagers in Muralla Town will tell you that his son Michael went into the caverns and never returned. Six levels later, in Llama Town, you'll meet Michael himself.
  • City of Gold: Complete with a place named "El Dorado," although very little of the gold is available for the taking (it's mostly just cosmetic).
  • The Coats Are Off: Jashiin does this in the intro to the final battle.
  • Collision Damage: You take damage primarily by bumping into enemies. Getting hit in the front allows your shield to absorb some of the damage, but getting hit from behind....
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Almas denominations have different colors according to their value, and doors between dungeon areas have different colored gems (red/blue/green/purple) to help you remember them by.
  • Convection Schmonvection
    • Inverted in the Caverns of Escarcha and Glacial, as you take no damage despite the frigid temperature.
    • Played straight in the Caverns of Tesoro and Plata, where the lava will only hurt you if you step in it and you aren't wearing the Pirika Shoes.
    • Averted in the Caverns of Caliente, Reaccion, and Correr: Walking through them without the "Asbestos Cape" results in Garland losing health because of the excessive heat.
  • Covers Always Lie: For its US version, anyway, which depicts a red-bearded Horny Viking slashing at a frog (with a skull tattoo on one arm) while a small eel-monster looks on. (The "slashing at a frog" part is pretty accurate for the first two levels, at least.)
  • Difficulty by Region: The original Japanese release of the game was far more harder than the Western port. Check this entry in Hardcore Gaming 101 for further details.
  • Disc-One Nuke: The better spells you acquire can serve this role, being far more effective than sword around the time they are first learned.
  • Dismantled MacGuffin: The Nine Tears of Esmesanti. You conveniently collect one piece for each boss defeated, and they're displayed along the top of the screen.
  • Door to Before: Every dungeon is structured such that "the road out is long but the road back short"; you'll generally find doors to the boss room in areas that are on the opposite side of obstacles, pits, etc. making it easy to jump down should you want to backtrack instead of progress. An NPC in Satono will also specifically warn you about a certain green door which "leads to the past" (actually two of them, which were part of the New World Tease you saw while navigating the first dungeon; if you don't recognize them when navigating the second, you'll end up backtracking). Also, the door to one of the buildings in Pureza Town (in world 8) is actually a one-way portal back to Dorado Town (in world 6).
  • Escape Rope: Starting in Bosque Village you can purchase Kioku feathers which are claimed to teleport you to the "last wise man you visited". For some reason this only ever seems to be the Sage in Muralla Town, at the beginning of the game ... but it's still preferable to dying (which costs you all your gold and half your Almas), and Muralla's banker offers one of the higher Almas exchange rates in the game.
  • Faceless Eye: One of the levels features giant eyeballs that rush at you at high speeds.
  • Feathered Fiend: Pollo, the third boss.
  • Floating Platforms: These generally come in two colors: red and yellow ones that move horizontally over a fixed area, and green and white ones that you can stand on and move up and down like an elevator. Later dungeons also introduce stationary red/yellow platforms that begin falling the moment you step on them (so don't dally).
  • Garden of Evil: The caverns of Absor, Desleal, Milagro, Falter, and Final resemble an overgrown garden.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: Cangrejo, the boss of the first cavern.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: All of the level names, all of the spell names, most of the boss names, and many other elements of the game are in Spanish (with the occasional Portuguese).
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • As with many adventure games of the time, the latter stages start to get more complicated to a point where taking a few steps without using a map can get you lost; navigating an area requires patience, memorization, and a willingness to try everything (like jumping into walls to check for invisible passages, or attacking them to check for breakable tiles).
    • The game doesn't actually tell you how many experience points you get from defeating each enemy or how much more you need to reach the next Level Up; visiting a sage will only give the player a general measure of how close they are. Fortunately, these webpages will tell you.
    • Want some help navigating the final dungeon? The people hidden in Esco Village can offer you tips, but how to actually get to Esco village is something you'll have to discover on your own. You jump through the ceiling of the passage below it.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: The Sword of the Fairy Flame, also a Sword of Plot Advancement as it is the only weapon capable of slaying the Final Boss.
  • Informed Equipment: Swords and shields have different colors and graphics, but shoes and other equipment (including the hooded cloak that is the "Asbestos Cape") are not visibly equipped.
  • Interchangeable Antimatter Keys: Downplayed in that you'll probably only find them one at a time before using each one to progress through a locked door, but yes, each key only opens one door.
  • Jungle Japes: The third set of dungeons.
  • Kill It with Fire: Having trouble defeating green or red slimes? Cast Fuego or Lanzar at them.
  • Lethal Lava Land: Caliente/Reaccion/Correr requires the Asbestos Cape just to be able to stand in it without taking damage.
  • Level-Up Fill-Up: Leveling up at a sage completely refills your Health and magic.
  • Lost Woods: The caverns of Madera and Riza are filled with giant trees whose branches you have to navigate.
  • Making a Splash: The Agua spell shoots three bolts of water.
  • Mana Potion: Although the game uses Vancian Magic, the Elixir of Kashi (which restores all of your charges for a single spell) and the Chikara Powder (which restores all of your spells) qualify as Mana Potions.
  • Money Spider: Averted. Enemies drop sphere-shaped soul crystals known as Almas, which can be exchanged for gold at the bank. In fact, other than a few chests that contain paltry amounts of gold, it's the only way you can actually get more gold.
  • New World Tease: The first level requires you to pass through a portion of the second level (which is separated from the rest of that level).
  • Not the Fall That Kills You…: Averted. You never die or take any damage when falling from great heights... unless of course you land on Spikes of Doom.
  • Offhand Backhand: Of a sword-wielding variety, your basic attack animation hits everything along its animation (it starts behind you then swings forward). This is a useful way to damage the fast-moving bats in the first two dungeons, and also the boss Vista.
  • One-Hit Kill:
    • NPCs claim that the Fairy Flame Sword can do this. And (at least against Mooks) it does.
    • While falling, thrusting your sword down will deal enough damage to kill just about anything. Even the red slimes.
  • Orbiting Particle Shield: The Magia Stone creates a shield of four rotating stones that damage enemies upon contact.
  • Palette Swap: Can be seen with almas denominations (white/red = 1, white/blue = 10, red/blue 100), potions in dungeons (red = minor, blue = full), and the slime, bat, and frog enemies (which come in green and red varieties; all other enemy types are unique). Your sword also sees this treatment, with several swords sharing the same appearance but in different colors.
  • Playing with Fire: Lanzar, fireball-like spell and Fuego which drop a pool of flames, and a green cousin to the blue icy boss Agar shows up in Llama town.
  • Plot Coupon: The Tears of Esmesanti, which are retrieved once per dungeon boss. You'll also need to acquire a Hero's Crest before the guard in Bosque will allow you entrance to the area's boss, and a Glory Crest before Tumba's weaponsmith will give you the Knight's Sword to defeat the demon Vista.
  • Point of No Return: The aptly-named "Cavern of Final" — which you reach after defeating the eighth boss, Jashiin's right-hand man Alguien — gives you nowhere to go but straight to Jashiin himself.
  • Regenerating Health: If you stay idle, your health will regenerate over time by very small increments. You can set the game speed to maximum for better effect. Just don't get attacked.
  • Respawning Enemies: Mooks will keep swarming after an area has been cleared, unless they drop an Alma and you don't pick it up.
  • Rodents of Unusual Size: The rats on the first world try to ram you at full speed.
  • '70s Hair: Duke Garland's hair.
  • Shock and Awe: The Guerra spell which zap everything on screen.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: The fourth world. You have to acquire special shoes to walk on the ice without slipping. (It is technically possible to make it through without the shoes, but extremely difficult due to small platforms over beds of spikes.)
  • Smart Bomb: The final spell, Guerra, damages everything on the screen at once.
  • Schmuck Bait: In world 2, there's a sign that warns you against opening the chest nearby. Opening the chest will release a unique bat that can be very difficult to beat depending on your current level and weapon (but also gives far more experience than anything else in that world).
  • Sequel Hook: The game ends with the Spirit calling Duke Garland away from Zeliard to save another land.
  • So Near, Yet So Far: Princess Felicia la Felishika is turned to stone by the villain, and she's being kept in a shrine in the first town where you can visit her whenever you like. There's no dialogue and, while you can go back to the first town at any point if you want to, there's no reason to ever go to her. She's saved remotely by defeating the final boss at a town very far away.
  • Soul Power: Almas are reportedly fragments of Jashiin's power.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Some of the translations are inconsistent. While "Helada" is the most common spelling of the fourth town, it is sometimes spelled "Herada." "Plata" is at one point spelled "Burata," "Tarso" is sometimes spelled "Taruso," and "Silkarn" is sometimes spelled "Shirukaano."
  • Spikes of Doom: Every level has some kind of terrain that damages you when you step on it (if you're not wearing the Pirika Shoes), and for the first few levels, it's these: Made of rocks, brambles, or ice depending on the level. Later levels avert this trope in favor of blue goo, lava, or fire.
  • Spread Shot: The Aqgua spell fires three bolts of water.
  • Stab the Sky: Duke Garland does this every time he gains a Tear of Esmesanti.
  • Stalactite Spite: Ice stalactites in the frozen caverns will drop randomly, and chunks of ceiling in the golden caverns will do the same.
  • Stationary Boss: The squid boss of the second dungeon doesn't move, and won't even attack you until you start lopping off its tentacles.
  • Suspicious Videogame Generosity: In a game with no mid-dungeon save points, you know you're in for a fight when you reach, say, the boss door in Caliente and discover a blue potion in plain sight right next to it.
  • Sword Plant: Press and hold the Down and Attack keys while jumping to thrust your sword downwards and land on enemies pointy end first.
  • Sword of Plot Advancement: Happens twice with both the Knight Sword and the Fairy Flame Sword.
  • Taken for Granite: The Princess has been turned to stone by Jashiin. Amusingly, she looks different in the various pictures seen in the game.
  • Teleport Spam: Jashiin does this in his first form.
  • Trauma Inn: Restore both your health and your spells.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable: Selling the Knight's Sword before you defeat Vista, and selling the Enchantment Sword ever, will make the game unwinnable. And as those are the strongest swords available at the time, selling them qualifies as insanity. There is also a Game-Breaking Bug if you use a Kioku Feather after defeating a boss (other than Alguien, who respawns) but before claiming its Tear of Esmesanti (which, again, you'd be insane to do).
  • Unique Enemy: The yellow-and-cyan bat that spawns when you open the Schmuck Bait chest in world 2 is not seen anywhere else (nor will it spawn there ever again if you loot the blue potion that it drops).
  • Untrusting Community: Llama Town, until you defeat Paguro and receive the Elf Crest.
  • Useless Useful Spell: Espada (Throwing Swords), due to its lackluster damage capabilities, is of some use against the toads and axethrowers in Peligro but quickly declines in utility afterwards; and Rascar (Falling Rocks), due to the random nature in which the rocks fall.
  • Vancian Magic: Each spell has a limited number of uses; resting at an inn, leveling up, or using the Elixir of Kashi or the Chikara Powder can replenish them.
  • Video Game Sliding: The downhill sliding is more of an obstacle rather than an ability, as the player eventually has to get an upgrade to ascend them.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: The crab boss of the first dungeon, Cangrejo. Vista, too, is MUCH harder than any of the bosses you've faced so far (and is Nightmare Fuel incarnate to boot). In fact, without the Knight's Sword, you can't even scratch
  • Wrap Around: For the most part, each cavern occupies a space 256x64 tiles large, which wraps around both horizontally and vertically.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Combined with a general theme of rot, decay, and undeath for one of the worlds, with the further implication that the zombie-like enemies were formerly ordinary humans before getting "infected" by blue Gelroid.