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Castlequest (NES) and Similar Games


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Seeing someone do Castlequest on the NES completions thread got me thinking about how great this game could have been.  It's really rough around the edges but is a lot of fun if you sit down and map out a strategy.  Only problem is that the strategy part is more fun than actually playing through the game.  It would have been a lot better if the castle was broken down into smaller pieces, at least at first.  Instead the game plays more like one giant "final" stage.

Was also thinking that I have never seen any other games attempt to improve upon the whole "maze of color-coded locked doors" mechanic.  About the only game I can think of that even comes close is Montezuma's Revenge on the old Atari/Commodore computers.  Great treasure hunting game with a lot more freedom of movement. It only uses 3 different key colors and there are always enough that you never get stuck without a way through a level.

Are there any other similar games that I missed?

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When I saw the title of this thread, I immediately thought of Montezuma's Revenge, but it seems you're already aware of it.  It's one of my favorite Sega Master System games.  If you haven't tried it,

I always felt that the perfect kind of game like this would be right in the middle between Castlequest and Solomon's Key... like have interconnecting rooms with puzzles you need to solve and platformi

Seeing someone do Castlequest on the NES completions thread got me thinking about how great this game could have been.  It's really rough around the edges but is a lot of fun if you sit down and map o

I always felt that the perfect kind of game like this would be right in the middle between Castlequest and Solomon's Key... like have interconnecting rooms with puzzles you need to solve and platforming inside each room, but make the key you need to retrieve to escape each room in the room you need to escape from so that what you did twenty rooms back in a different part of the castle can't screw you over down the road, but still allow you to wander freely throughout the castle and go back to previously visited rooms as you explore the castle.  I can't think of another NES game like Castlequest, but there may be some Famicom game out there that I haven't played yet that's similar.

On a side note, I remember getting this game early on in my collecting days and, having never heard of it, the boxart and general concept intrigued me.  The map with the route drawn in for you looked cool, and when I booted it up I was shocked to see that the game gave you FIFTY LIVES in reserve!  Well, between that and the map, I figured I couldn't possibly fail; boy was I wrong...

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When I saw the title of this thread, I immediately thought of Montezuma's Revenge, but it seems you're already aware of it.  It's one of my favorite Sega Master System games.  If you haven't tried it, there's a sequel on Game Boy/Game Boy Color called Montezuma's Return.  It's a lot of fun too.  It feels more linear though.  If I remember correctly, you have to go through every room (or most of them) to get to the end.

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Not sure if it's an exact match, but looking at the game footage in that thread reminded me of Legacy of the Wizard on the NES. There you explore a really huge maze with one of several characters, fight monsters, earn money, find loot and all that good stuff. However, the giant maze is separated into several isolated areas which usually require you to play as one specific character to make it to the boss. This is because every character has different strengths and weaknesses which allow you to access certain parts of the dungeon. It's a lot of fun and feels somewhat like and advancement on the Metroid formula. I have to warn you though that this game is very challenging.

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Thanks for the replies everyone!

Remixing this game with Solomon's Key would be awesome. There's hardly anything out there like that either.

I've played through Montezuma's Return but wasn't that impressed.  The door colors (or symbols) were too similar despite this being a "color" Gameboy game.  The overall presentation was lacking as well.

Really enjoyed Milon's Secret Castle.  That game is way better than people give it credit for.

Legacy of the Wizard is on my todo list.  It's a tough game to get into, but the similarities to Castlequest are definitely there.

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What's the interesting mechanic that you do love about Castlequest? I'm curious to hear more.

It's an pretty obscure game, and one I gotta admit I've not even played despite having gone through hundreds of NES games in my quest to categorize them all.

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1 hour ago, Sumez said:

What's the interesting mechanic that you do love about Castlequest? I'm curious to hear more.

I think the key collection and exploration mechanic is really neat - and it taps into the late-80's/early-90's past-time of filling spiral notebooks with handdrawn "game levels" -- but the execution really suffers 

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On 2/6/2021 at 12:06 PM, Sumez said:

What's the interesting mechanic that you do love about Castlequest? I'm curious to hear more.

Yup, mostly the key collection and decision making process.  Ex: You have one yellow key and two yellow doors.  Which one should you open first?  Then multiply that by a few hundred keys and even more doors.

There's usually more than one right answer, though there are times that a wrong choice or two will end your game (unless you know where to find the Undo option).

If you're into this sort of thing, it can be a lot of fun to map out a good route through Castlequest, both for speed running and max score.

It's actually possible to collect all the little trinkets throughout the game though with a couple of exceptions:

1. There's one item that is out of reach due to bad jump controls.

2. You end up unable to reach the princess and beat the game after using up too many red keys.

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Actually, I think the saving style of Heroes of the Lance would have made this game better.  Basically have like 3 files that you can use to save and resume any time, then when you pick the wrong yellow door, you just go back to the appropriate save state.  That way, if you balance out where you use your save files properly, you'd never be too far gone from still being able to beat the game...

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1 hour ago, rdrunner said:

Yup, mostly the key collection and decision making process.  Ex: You have one yellow key and two yellow doors.  Which one should you open first?  Then multiply that by a few hundred keys and even more doors.

That sounds interesting. In that case, it's a bit of a different genre, but what you said reminded me of it - Binding of Isaac.

That game is a really fun balance constant resource management. Like some times you have a plethora of money, some times it is bombs or keys, other times it is your healthbar, all of which can be used in some way to invest in new methods of exploration which can occasionally be a bit of a gamble. And you're usually always running low in at least one resource.

I know it's a pretty popular game, but if you haven't tried it out, it might be worth looking into.

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On 2/6/2021 at 1:53 PM, arch_8ngel said:

I think the key collection and exploration mechanic is really neat - and it taps into the late-80's/early-90's past-time of filling spiral notebooks with handdrawn "game levels" -- but the execution really suffers 

Have you heard of this not well known game Legend of Zelda?

🤪

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15 minutes ago, a3quit4s said:

Have you heard of this not well known game Legend of Zelda?

🤪

😛

LoZ, despite being one of my favorite games of all time, did not lend itself well to the childhood past time of "drawing pretend video game levels on a sheet of a notebook".  That was mostly relegated to platformers, among my group of friends.

Don't get me wrong -- LoZ was satisfying to map out as a kid, while playing -- but it was not particularly "fun to draw", as single-page one-off's IMO.

 

And the color-coded keys/doors I don't really recall from any game other than Wizards and Warriors (which is another one that was a great CONCEPT but suffered badly in the execution)

 

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Shamus: It was for Atari 8-bit, Apple II, TI-99/4A, C64 etc... It's a 128 room maze.. the action is very inspired inspired by Berzerk... electrified walls, unstoppable monster that chases you if you stay to long on any screen. Its a fixed layout with color coded keys and locks to reach deeper levels of the labyrinth. 

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