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Castlequest: I did write a walkthrough.

Well, not quite. I typed up a walkthrough, but I actually translated it from a Japanese site that I found. A lot of walkthroughs that I found for Castlequest (guide here) fell into two varieties; The insanely hard Time Attack variation that only experts of the game will bother trying, and the "how to beat the game by going into all 100 rooms" method which takes more time than anyone would realistically be willing to put into the game. Fortunately, I found a nice middle-of-the-road alternative that aims to complete the game by avoiding the most fiendish rooms, but not taking you anywhere that you don't absolutely need to go.

So what the hell am I talking about? Castlequest was the American name for a Japanese Famicom game called Castle Excellent, which was itself a sequel to a popular Japanese game simply called "The Castle." The original program was the winner in a software contest hosted by ASCII Corporation (you might know them better today as controller manufacturers). ASCII published the game on every available popular Japanese micro computer platform (MSX, NEC, FM-Towns, etc.) and it was a huge success. Fans clamored for a sequel, so they made Castle Excellent for the MSX. Right around that time, the Famicom was hot, so they published a version for that too, although it was rather different from the MSX version.

I would best compare Castlequest to some more American titles such as Shamus or Montezuma's Revenge. You must essentially navigate a 100 room castle (arranged in a 10x10 grid) loaded with different colored doors, respective different colored keys, and loads of traps and enemies. While each room may have a particular puzzle that needs to be solved, the over-arching goal of the game is to find your way from the start to the location of the princess and rescue her. Naturally, there's a butt-load of doors in the way, and a limited supply of keys that you continue to gather. You can end up taking a wrong turn and getting screwed with no choice but the reset the game because you ran out of keys. The game does provide you with a kind of "Undo", but it costs a life, and by the time you figure out that you need it, it may already be too late to use it.

Castlequest was definitely one of those game that was far more suited to the Japanese audience of gamers than Americans. This is a huge generalization, but most Americans don't really have the patience for this kind of game (I certainly didn't). It takes a lot of planning and coordination, and it's not high on the immediate gratification meter. Even the ending sucks. Your only reward really is self satisfaction. Ironically, Nintendo Power didn't even cover this game's release... and they covered EVERYTHING. So to spare you any pain, here is the 18 minute time attack for you to watch and never play this game ever again.

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About Procyonone of us since 10:16 AM on 12.08.2006

My name is Scott. I've been playing video games since my hands were big enough to hold a joystick. I started with the Atari 2600, and graduated to the Atari 800 computer where I taught myself how to program in BASIC. I eventually got a NES, and later a Game Boy. The first summer I ever worked, I was a CIT at the day camp I attended. I worked all summer long to save up enough money to buy the SNES the very day it came out.

I attended college at the University of Pennsylvania. I was introduced to the internet my freshman year in 1993, and I fast became a console pirate, purchasing a copier and downloading ROMs off of IRC channels. Good times. In my senior year, I purchased the N64 as soon as the street date was broken, and skipped classes for the next three days to play Mario 64. I also bought a used PSX the same year.

After I graduated with a degree in Computer Science and a degree in Psychology, I was accepted to Digipen. I was part of the very last class that attended the school in Vancouver, before they moved the campus to Nintendo of America's HQ in Redmond Washington (across the street from Microsoft). After completing the program, I got my very first job as a programmer at Ubisoft.

I lucked out with Ubisoft because they were actually opening a studio near my hometown in NYC, so I actually landed my dream job and got to live on the east coast near my family. I worked on Batman: Vengence. I met a number of cool people, but the only one I still keep in touch with happens to be a buddy of mine who was the lead designer on "Army of Two." He is without a doubt, the greatest game designer I have ever had the privilege of working with.

The studio in NYC didn't pan out for Ubisoft, and they decided to fold the team up to Montreal. After living in Vancouver for a year and a half, I decided I had enough of Canada, so I stayed in the NYC office, which transformed into GameLoft. I stayed there until me and the buddy I mentioned landed a job at 3DO. We both moved out to Redwood City and started working there.

3DO wasn't a great company, but it wasn't terrible, and I met a crew of people who became some of the greatest friends that I have ever had. I worked on Dragon Rage, which was being led by Kudo Tsunoda. He told the execs that it was going to be an Army Men game with an art asset swap, and it would take 6 months to complete. The truth was we were building a new engine from scratch, and it would really take a year to get it done right. When the six months were up, the execs asked for the game, and we weren't even close to finished, so we had to do 12 hours days, 6 days a week until the game was finished. 3 months later, nobody cared about it anymore, and it went straight to the budget bin.

3DO closed down very shortly after. While I was at 3DO, I got to know two people who amazed me: Howard Scott Warshaw and Tod Frye, two of the original Atari 2600 programmers. Getting to meet them and talk with them about "the good old days" at Atari was an amazing thing to me. (I totally recommend visiting Howard's site, Once Upon Atari and ordering his DVD about what those days were like.) I still run in to Howard infrequently at retrogaming conventions and it's always a delight.

After 3DO, I worked for a THQ studio that used to be called (oddly enough) Pacific Coast Power & Light. It's known as Locomotive games today. I was put on the WWE Crush Hour game, the game that was designed to mix the WWE up with Twisted Metal. I created the game's shell and character selection screen. It was actually a pretty cool game, but THQ's love for WWE had cooled down when the game was close to finishing (right after WWF became WWE, the ratings started to tank), so they rushed it and laid off the whole team.

Wishing to return to the east coast, I applied for jobs that I could find there, and actually lucked out with a job opening at Firaxis Games in Hunt Valley, Maryland, home to Sid Meier. When I got there, they were toying with the idea of remaking Pirates, and were prototyping a lot. The results were mixed, and Sid decided to get involved with the development personally. They knew they wanted to make a console version, and they put me on the small team responsible for porting the game to the Xbox. I had doubts about the game, and I wasn't enjoying the tasks I was being given (such as working on the in-game glossary), and things didn't work out. I made a lot of good friends there who I miss working with.

By this time, I had been with four companies in six years, and my girlfriend at the time was in the middle of going to school to get her degree, so I did something drastic: I grew up. I ended up looking for any available programming job, and accepted a position with a UPS owned software company as an algorithm designer. I've been there since 2005, I get paid more money, and work fewer hours than I ever did as a game programmer. But I really miss the creative environment and working with people that I have a lot in common with, i.e. a love and passion for video games.

I am currently own and operate StrategyWiki, which strives to become the best online source of video game guides and walkthroughs anywhere in the world. I am now living in northern Maryland. Welcome to my blog.
Xbox LIVE:ProcyonSJJ


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