Sword of Vermilion
Sword of Vermilion is a fantasy action role-playing video game developed and published by Sega for the Genesis on 1989-12-16. The game uses a multi-perspective approach which includes top-down exploration for towns, first person exploration for outside and dungeons, a top-down view for combat, and side-view combat for bosses.
Erik, King of Excalabria, and Tsarkon, King of Cartahena sought out the 16 rings of power to try and tame the evils of the land. However, upon discovering how powerful the rings made him, Tsarkon attacked his friend Erik and conquered his kingdom. Before he was killed, King Erik entrusted his newborn son to his bodyguard, Blade, who escaped with the child and settled in a far away village to raise the boy to become a strong fighter. 18 years passed and, on the day Blade died, he explained to the young man his true identity. King Tsarkon still has the eight rings of evil, but he has scattered the eight rings of good throughout the land to prevent them from ever being brought together against him. You must seek out the eight rings, and confront the dreaded King Tsarkon to avenge your father.
While trying to better acclimate myself to the Genesis catalog, I found this game on a list of good early titles for the system, so I started playing it. I wasn't very impressed by it, but it was interesting enough to keep playing. I finished it on 2020-04-20.
I don't own this game, but I have beaten it.
Best Version: Genesis
— This section contains spoilers! —
- The game takes a lot of design risks to make it stand out from traditional RPGs. While I don't think the risks paid off, I do have to give the designers credit for trying something unique.
- The graphics are pretty good for 1989. The boss monsters, in particular, are drawn quite well.
- The music is decent enough. There are a couple tracks that are quite nice.
- The game has a couple side-quests, some which was rare in RPGs at the time.
- The USA release includes a full hint book.
- The story is pretty lame.
- The first-person view used on the overworld and in dungeons was an attractive feature in 1989, but it doesn't really help game play. There aren't enough textures and sprites to make it useful for navigation, so you mostly just stare at the top-down map the whole time you play. It seems to only be interesting for someone watching.
- Finding maps starts out as an interesting side-quest, but quickly becomes obnoxious requiring you to speak to every NPC multiple times to eventually find them. It's even worse in dungeons where you're shrouded in darkness until you stumble upon it. It would have been nice if the developers added a more powerful illumination spell.
- Saving should be done at the inn, like with most RPGs, I don't like having to make two stops every time.
- Some of the music, even though it's good, uses electric guitar and hand-clapping, which doesn't fit the fantasy genre at all.
- It's odd to hear the same death cry for every type of monster including kobolds, skeletons, wizards, and even slimes!
- It isn't enough to open a chest, you have to remember to take its contents as well. For the first five chests or so that I encountered, I assumed you automatically picked up the items because, why wouldn't you want them, and I missed several items that I didn't feel like backtracking to get.
- Much like in real life, the information given to you by fortune tellers is so vague, it's a waste of money. The NPCs you encounter on the overworld never have anything important to say either.
- The programmers took advantage of palette swapping for the enemies, so they knew how to use it, but it would have been nice if they did the same for the player's armor, sword, and shield to match what you've equipped.
- The Aerios spell is vastly superior to all other attack spells. Even late in the game, it's powerful enough to kill most of the enemies in battle with a single use. Once you get this spell, you can very easily grind out levels.
- The game has a level cap of 31 which is pretty annoying. It prevents you from becoming more powerful, so combat loses all benefit late in the game.
- Although I tend to enjoy real-time action combat in RPGs, I think this one is a bit too primitive for my tastes. For normal combat, it's mostly button mashing (especially when you're surrounded) with the occasional offensive magic, also used by button mashing. Boss combat is especially bad, limiting your actions to walk left, walk right, duck, and attack. You can't jump, block, or use magic.
- Having to explore every dead-end in the game in the hope of finding something useful is really annoying. Many of the game's chests are empty, contain low-value items, or have equipment that is too weak for the area. To further frustrate the player, some chests only appear if you're facing a certain direction on a tile, so, if you want to be sure to find every chest, you literally have to spin in all directions on every tile in every map!
- Random battles are far too frequent for my taste.
- The item shop keeper in Malaga robs you of all your gold and your sword (if you cancel the conversation, you won't even know this happened!). Depending on how much money you have, this can set you back a long time! He also has a special use near the end of the game, but there is no indication you should return.
- The game drags on for a lot longer than is enjoyable. I was sick of it by the fourth ring, but I still had hours of game play to go.
|English||Sword of Vermilion|