During one of the Steam sales, I decided to pick up a game that had some good buzz, but I knew almost nothing about: La Mulana. I know it is supposed to be a hard as nails, oldschool experience, and I am totally down for that. The only experience I had with the game was watching a Let’s Play episode or two of the game years back, and it seemed alright enough for me. So what is La Mulana? Well, its Spanish for “The Mulana” if that helps.
In all seriousness, I started the game this weekend and found myself rather liking it. It is an SNES game, but it just feels a bit bigger or more modern. You play as some dude with a whip in a world where everything can kill you. After Dark Souls, this sounds right up my alley! I wandered around for the first fifteen minutes, unable to find which way was forward. I tried to memorize patterns of very simple enemies, as to minimize my odds of death. I failed. I died. A lot. Then I started to get the hang of things, and explored all around the starting camp. There were birds and trees and rocks and things, and I had learned how to kill most of them, except the condors. Then I fall off a waterfall and drowned. I decided to explore to the left, where I found a healing spring and snakes, and a giant about twenty times my height who can kill me in two hits. Man. This game reeks of Dark Souls! A confusing beginning with no direction, minimal narrative, and a world that hates the protagonist? Check, check, and check.
Turns out, I missed a very important feature...going into buildings. In my defense I tried and failed, so this wasn’t all on me! After I learned how to do that, I finally got a quest, and more importantly, opened up the Hidden Temple, which I had heard many legends about. Then the game started becoming….obtuse. There are signs and stones that you can’t actually read. You need an item that lets you read. Fair enough. Then, they are in a language you don’t know. So you need to buy an item that lets you read them. Ugh, alright. You also need to buy an item that lets you use the map, which you have to find in a chest anyway. So its a little confusing, but I managed several trips in and out of the temple getting money enough to buy all these things. I was finally ready to explore!
As I mentioned above, I was given no direction, just ‘go for it!’, so I wandered wherever the game would let me progress. Until I couldn’t wander back. See, the game has weights as a consumable item. You need weights to trigger certain pedestals, and they are often placed in areas that are gates to other levels, or hell, even where you came from. So I got myself stuck in a pyramid, in a tomb, in a waterfall, and generally had a poor time. I tried really hard to make progress, but with minimal health and no way to restore it, I was a little bit annoyed. So I had to revert back to a previous save, grind out money, and buy stones. Now I was ready! Then I still would get lost, forget the way back, and die in the cold depths of the temple. I felt like I was missing something. I was.
I decided to take a turn for the archaic and find the games Wii release manual and do some research. There were a few interesting tidbits in there, but the most important one was the White Whale. Er...Holy Grail. Not figuratively, either, it is actually The Holy Grail, and the manual said you should encounter it early, and that it lets you warp around the map. Wow. Such utility. Much useful. Very want. Must have. Using my map.exe program, I found a room in the temple called something like “Holy Grail Room” and began solving puzzles. After some rather cleverly put together puzzles, I finally found the Holy Grail, which lets you warp between almost any save point, including the one at the surface, with the shop and healing area. Now we were in business! I found a smattering of odds and ends, including more health, a grappling claw, The Reverend Stabby McShankerton (my knife), and some other trinkets. Now I was making progress!
So I have been exploring the caves, slowly but surely, trying to solve the mystery of what the hell I’m doing here. I have the holy grail. I am a very rich man. But apparently I want more. Most notably, I solved the entire pyramid level, revealing an enormous monster boss, which I have yet to best. I have discovered many chambers with their own treasures, secrets, and monsters, and I can’t wait to keep exploring!
I also wanted to follow my friend’s advice, and use La Mulana as an experiment in some software dabbling. He told me I should try out streaming, so I figured I could give that a shot. I have the software set up now, along with an account, and a classical rock playlist to serve as the background noise. I am going to try to start streaming most of what I play when I play because what the hell, why not, basically. I will probably be streaming after 7:00 pm Central on Weekdays, and pretty much whenever I feel like it on Weekends at twitch as taterchimp_twitch (http://www.twitch.tv/taterchimp_twitch). Feel free to stop by if you want!