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The start of then affair: SNK's God Slayer: Sonata of the Far-Away Sky, aka Crystalis


Christmas morning, 1991. I was 3 years old and had no idea my life was about to be changed forever. I woke up, excited to see what Santa had brought me. I walked into the living room and there was an NES set up on our 32 inch television. I was so incredibly happy. Looking through the games, (they were hand-me-downs from my aunt and uncle, but I didn't care, hell I was so grateful to them) I saw Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt , R.C. Pro-AM, some other games, but one that stood out to me was this:

"A MONSTER GAME!" I exclaimed. I could read up to about a kindergarten level, but the font and word itself escaped me. Couldn't read the title but I asked my mom what it said and she answered, "Crystalis." I knew there was something special about this game.

Most people think of God Slayer as a "Zelda-clone." Well, kind of. If by "clone" you mean "1ups the previous game on every conceivable facet." Then sure. Bird's eye perspective, fighting monsters with swords. But what set this game apart was the great story, the cool items, the characters, and the level system. This was my first exposure to leveling up and it changed the way I thought about video games. Previously, levels were all about going from one place to the next, e.g. the classic Super Mario Bros. This level up system was something totally new to my toddler mind and I adored it. Fight monsters got you something besides meaningless points. It got you experience to make you stronger to fight new monsters. Amazing.

The story was incredibly deep considering my exposure to video game stories.

"1997, October 1, The END DAY. Savage wars engulfed the world. Civilization is destroyed. An evolution had taken place. The Earth's axis shifted and all the creatures became mutated. Life would never be the same. Those surviving vowed not to repeat their mistakes of the past and erected a great tower in the sky to oppress evil forever."

In the game you start off in a cavern, waking up from a century-long cryogenic slumber. You are a young scientist destined to save the world from an evil empire that has taken hold of the world in its weakened, yet magically strengthened state, Draygonia. From town to town, dungeon to dungeon, you help people, fight monsters, and collect the four elemental swords (Wind, Fire, Water, Lightning, in that order) to combine them and create the sword of Crystalis, the only weapon capable of vanquishing Draygon, the Emperor of Draygonia.

Sure, not exactly earth-shattering literature but to a 3 year old American boy it was FUCKING AWESOME. The graphics weren't 100% fantastic but theyw ere bright, colorful and conveyed moody atmosphere in so many places. The music was to die for. And the controls were spot-on. Move around, sword slash with B, hold B for 1, 2 or 3rd level energy attack, and A was a specified item you equipped. Rabbit boots for jumping, a gas mask tos urvive the poisonous swamp, healing plants, and of course your magic spells. Flight, replenish, teleport, etc.

In 2000 SNK licensed this wonderful game out to some company to make a port on the GameBoy Color. It was awful. They toned down the implications of the story and turned it into a generic fantasy tale. Gone was the mesh of machine and magic, and in its place was a typical tale of good guy vs. monsters. The screen on the GBC didn't allow for the size/resolution of the original, so dungeons seemed twice as cramped and it was incredibly hard to fight. The colors were washed out. The music was god awful. And the cool crystal font was replaced with this shit:

I hated it and the insult it was to the original. It was also significantly easier. Items were easier to get and monsters no longer had sword-element immunities. Taking ALOT of the strategy out of the game. *sigh*

I would love to see a Wii-remake for this. Holding back the remote for charging the energy blasts, swing the remote for sword slashes. And hell, add in some more stuff. Like running, etc. Of course SNK Playmore is too busy with fighting games (which I ahve NO complaints about) to do something like that, but in a way I guess Im glad there was only the gbc remake. It was forgetable leaving the cult classic original to stand for all time as a wonderful game.

Side-note: Didn't beat the game til I was 9.
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About SysiphusRockone of us since 7:33 AM on 06.17.2008

Greetings, Skrulls. Name's Joshua and I play video games. That's all I do, really. I play RPGs (mostly J) fighting games (mostly sprite-based 2D, but I play most 3D), adventure games (Zeldas ,not point-and-clicks) and general action games.

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