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Mighty Pinto avatar 6:38 PM on 03.11.2009  (server time)
The "Done" Pile: Phelios

Since I've recovered from my cold, I figured I'd try and start a series of blogs with a central theme (partially inspired by the Dragon Questiing series I've started reading recently). Now, I've seen a couple of gaming "To-Do" Lists, and while that's all well and good, I figured it'd be a whole lot easier to just beat a game, then reflect a little bit on it after I've finished. Hence, the "Done" pile.

Anyway, this week's title is "Phelios", a rather nifty little shmup for the Genesis by Namco, which I'd picked up in Orlando whilst accompanying the fine folks at Infinite Bits to Otronicon. Loosely based off of Grecian Myth, the game stars the Sun God Apollo, who's questing to save his lover, Artemis, from the clutches of the evil Typhon. Now, I know this game takes a few liberties with the source material (and after all, it's not like they had copyright infringement in Ancient Greece or anything), but having read a few of the Greek Myths back in high school, the overall story just seems a little creepy...mainly because Apollo and Artemis are supposed to be brother and sister.

"Ugh, quit leering at me like that, Apollo! It's disgusting!"

Anyway, incestuous overtone aside; Phelios borrows a little from to the top-down stages of Life Force; the player can equip up to two "option" satellites to augment the power of his Burning Sword of Justice, as well as three different sub-weapons: a typical "Homing" shot, a powerful "Beam" weapon that shoots a continuous stream of energy, as well as the "Across" shot which ricochets off of walls, which is extremely useful in enclosed areas. Even without all those nifty bells and Whistles, Apollo can still charge his sword to fire a powerful fireball capable of decimating entire waves of baddies. Nevertheless, the game was pretty challenging, and while there is a Novice Mode, it only takes the player through the first four levels, ultimately ending with a battle against Antaeus.

No, this isn't Antaeus, this is "Ladon", a dragon borne from the blood of Medusa. Also pictured, the "Beam" weapon in action.

Naturally, I took the "Advanced" route. There wouldn't really have been any point otherwise; Antaeus is hardly worthy of being a final boss. I mean, he's supposed to be this giant warrior who would challenge mortals and gods alike to wrestling matches, and he would use the skulls and bones of his crushed opponents in order to construct a temple to his father, Poseidon. Sounds pretty badass, right? Unfortunately, in the game they reduced him to some flying upper-torso that shot a paltry stream of fireballs. I know there was no way the could've made the former description actually work in 16 bits, but I would SOOO love to see that concept in something like God of War III (wishful thinking).

The same goes for the final boss, Typhon. According to mythology, he was supposed to be this huge monstrosity who had the upper torso of a man which was as tall as the sky; with two hands that had 100 dragon heads on each. His lower body was composed of millions of serpents, kind of like a Hula-Skirt of the Damned. Not as hardcore-sounding as Antaeus, but still pretty cool. However, in Phelios, the developers apparently opted for this design:

"Mwa ha ha, Apollo! I have naked pictures of your sister! If you hope to get the negatives back, you must face me in combat!"

Still, despite the change in design, I still had a heck of a time taking him down...even with Phelios, the Sword of Light in my hand (pictured), it still took nearly 50 fully-charged uber-beams to finally put Typhon under, all the while dodging toxic death-bubbles and multidirectional lasers that fired from his crotch. Still, through luck and twitch relfexes I persevered and rescued my, my, I just don't know anymore.

I don't think I need a witty caption for this's about 7 flavors of wrong all on it's own...*shudder*

After beating the game, it unlocked an "Expert" mode, but the only difference I saw was that the enemy bullets moved slightly faster than in advanced mode. I turned the game off, thinking to myself that it would be there the next time I turned the game on...but naturally, I was wrong. Apparently, I would have to beat both "Advanced" and "Expert" modes in one sitting, and let me tell you, dear readers, that I just don't have that kind of patience. So, as far as I'm concerned, this game is officially on the "Done" pile. It's available for the virtual console if you want to give it a go, if you can forego the initial creepiness.

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