Final Fantasy Legend III, Game Boy

As Final Fantasy Legend games go this third instalment in the series is a little weird. It plays just as good as the previous two games (maybe even better because it has the advantage of refinement), but the way it’s presented is somewhat strange.

Final Fantasy Legend III‘s designers decided to use a kind of ‘modular’ or ‘sticker’ design look for the enemies that you see during battle, and when you’re facing off against them they look kinda funny… I guess that was the intention, although the change of style results in a bizarre-looking game rather than a scary one. You might be asking “What could be scary about a game like this?” and I would simply point to Su-Zaku in the first game – an indestructible fiery bird capable of drawing terror from all who encounter it… But the monsters in this just look googly-eyed and daft. It’s a pity because I loved the look of the first two games.

Final Fantasy Legend III is a fine JRPG though, and it does a few things new in the series that give the game an extra dimension. Firstly: you can jump over holes in this third game, which is new. Jumping was not something that was allowed in previous games, and it might seem quite minor, but it allows for different puzzles to solve. Secondly: this time your party members can eat the meat dropped by slain monsters, which transforms them into different races, each with unique abilities and powers. While the meat-eating element does add another layer of interest to Final Fantasy Legend III it’s not obvious which races are most useful in which situations, so unless you have a chart to refer to you’ll be flying blind. There is one in the manual, but it’s a bit of a beast… [pun intended].

Another cool feature of Final Fantasy Legend III is The Talon – a legendary time-travelling spaceship that you acquire some distance into the game. You must collect a number of upgrade units to make it battle-ready, but when you do you can fly around the game world, shoot enemies with it, and get in and out of it at will. It’s worth persevering with Final Fantasy Legend III to at least get The Talon upgraded. 🙂

Final Fantasy Legend series on The King of Grabs:
Final Fantasy Legend, Final Fantasy Legend II, Final Fantasy Legend III

More: Final Fantasy Legend III on Wikipedia

The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, Game Boy Advance

Released in Japan in 2004 and everywhere else in 2005, The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap was developed by Capcom and Flagship, with Nintendo overseeing the project. The result is: a fantastically fun handheld adventure game, with beautiful 2D graphics and captivating gameplay.

In The Minish Cap, Link makes friends with a talking, magical cap that guides him into a world of monsters and miniaturisation. A miniature race of people, no less, called The Minish. And – as Link explores and makes progress in the game – his powers increase, as does his arsenal of weapons and tools. Just like in every other Zelda game. And – just like every other Zelda game – The Minish Cap is packed with new ideas and game mechanics that make it a joy to play. The ‘Gust Jar’ is one such example: stand on a floating lilypad and shoot it in the opposite direction to which you want to travel.

I’ve always had a soft spot for the look of The Minish Cap. It has the visual appeal of something like A Link To The Past, but with a unique Capcom twist to it. The Minish Cap is a procession of beautifully-drawn (and incredibly colourful) pixel art, from start to finish, and really shows what the GBA is capable of.

Gameplay-wise: there’s little to fault. There are enough dungeons, puzzles, boss fights, and side quests to keep you going for days. Weeks even – depending on how much you like to take your time.

As Zelda games go, I would put The Minish Cap up there with the best of the 2D adventures. It’s a must-play if you like cute and colourful exploration games.

More: The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap on Wikipedia

100 Best Level-Grinders Of All-Time on thekingofgrabs.com

100 Best Level-Grinders Of All-Time

Knight Lore, Famicom Disk System

Knight Lore for the Famicom Disk System was developed by Tose Co. Ltd. for Jaleco with the blessing of its original creators, Rare. It was published only in Japan in 1986.

It doesn’t bear too much of a resemblance to the ZX Spectrum original, other than the basic idea, the isometric viewpoint, and the main characters remain the same. That said: it is not a bad game to play (if you ignore the silly tune that plays when you walk). It’s basically a ‘fetch’ game, where you collect and take objects to a cloaked figure who asks for them.

The game comes on a double-sided disk, so you have to swap sides to load it and make it playable. The text is all in Japanese, but if it says ‘B’ on screen, you know it’s time to switch to side B. And vice versa.

Why this version of Knight Lore was released only on disk and not cartridge I don’t know. The disk swapping is a drag. The game is not too bad overall. Compared to the original, though, I’d say it’s a little lacking. Graphically it’s quite good, although the colours are a bit too… green. Anyway, it is what it is (a little disappointing), but it is worth a play if you’re interested in Knight Lore history.

Knight Lore on The King of Grabs:
ZX Spectrum, BBC Micro, Amstrad CPC, MSX, Famicom Disk System

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knight_Lore

Knight Lore, MSX

The MSX version of Knight Lore was developed by Tose Co. Ltd. for Jaleco and published in Europe and Japan in 1985.

It is pretty much identical to the original ZX Spectrum version, complete with slowdown. That said: if you run it on a more powerful MSX computer it outstrips the Speccy original in terms of performance.

Knight Lore is a legendary game – whatever platform you play it on – and the MSX version is no exception.

Knight Lore on The King of Grabs:
ZX Spectrum, BBC Micro, Amstrad CPC, MSX, Famicom Disk System

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knight_Lore

Knight Lore, Amstrad CPC

The Amstrad CPC version of Ultimate‘s famous Knight Lore is the best-looking version, in my opinion.

The Amstrad‘s extra colours in high res mode make all the difference and it gives the look of the game an extra dimension. It also makes figuring out where you are on the screen a little easier.

Amstrad Knight Lore still suffers from slowdown – I think all the 8-bit version do – but it’s almost like it’s a deliberate feature… Meaning: that if the game didn’t slow down during some scenes they would be almost impossible to beat.

What am I talking about? Knight Lore is impossible to beat. Well, almost. 🙂

Knight Lore on The King of Grabs:
ZX Spectrum, BBC Micro, Amstrad CPC, MSX, Famicom Disk System

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knight_Lore

Knight Lore, BBC Micro

Legendary developer Ultimate Play The Game gave good support to the BBC Micro, releasing many of their iconic games on the platform.

This Beeb conversion of the classic Knight Lore is arguably better than the original ZX Spectrum version, because it doesn’t suffer quite so badly from slowdown. Graphically, it’s still monochromatic, like the original.

Knight Lore is a brilliant game, however you play it. Sabreman turning into a werewolf mid jump is always hilarious…

Knight Lore on The King of Grabs:
ZX Spectrum, BBC Micro, Amstrad CPC, MSX, Famicom Disk System

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knight_Lore

Imogen, BBC Micro

Imogen is an endearing and memorable BBC Micro action/adventure, published by Micro Power in 1986.

It was written by Michael St. Aubyn and features a wizard (who you play and is called Imogen) who can transform into a monkey or a cat to do certain things. Like solve simple puzzles.

The puzzles are relatively easy logic problems, and ‘find-the-right-item-to-get-you-past-the-guy-blocking-the-way’ type issues. Found items are manipulated via a menu at the top of the screen.

The graphics in Imogen are excellently drawn and move well. It’s a pity, though, that they are somewhat monochromatic.

As far as I can tell Imogen appeared on BBC/Acorn computers only, which makes it an iconic system exclusive.

More: Imogen on bbcmicro.co.uk

Ecstatica, PC [Part 2]

Here’s a second, completely different, set of grabs of Andrew Spencer‘s classic Ecstatica. The game is so good that it deserves more attention…

These grabs show more of the game played as a female character, and of different locations and situations.

Ecstatica is a game that is simple to play but contains layers of devilish detail. Someone should re-release it.

Here’s the first set of grabs: Ecstatica, PC [Part 1]

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecstatica