Friday, October 11, 2019

Catacomb Abyss: Graveyard

When the boys at iD left Softdisk for green pastures, they left behind the Catacombs series. Well, it wasn't much of a series yet, just a whole bunch of different games with the same name really. Softdisk took to the cast quickly and cast a new team on the engine for Catacomb 3-D to make it slightly better and more commerically successful. As I've already got an opinion on this, I can't say I wouldn't rather buy a copy of this rather than Spear of Destiny. And yet I own that game on disc.

GETTING IT TO WORK:
DOSbox, no fancy wrangling.
Catacomb Abyss or whatever that lame other name they gave it is the story of an unnamed wizard implied to be the player and his evil nemesis, called Nemesis. Who is the big evil wizard who was named Grelminar in the last game, or possibly the guy named Nemesis last time. Protip: Don't name your villain after a completely unrelated character in a franchise you only have three characters in. I guess we know that the Greek gods really don't exist in this universe then, if there are multiple people running around calling themselves Nemesis.
So the game begins. I'll be playing on Warrior, because I am a badass. The game doesn't start with sound on, which really confused me. And you have to turn it on every time. I don't remember that. We don't really have another John Carmack working here, but that's okay. If you've already read the first entry for Catacomb 3D, you'll know that this series uses little notes on the hud in order to show the player where they are. This is immensely useful at this point in time and will be of great use to me.
A zombie appears, a quiet unpleasant one to behold, even today. I dispatch him with no trouble. After looting the place and accidently using a zapper. I have one of every item. The Zapper, or machine gun, the nuke or the eXterminator, that shoots a circle out from you, and a potion or Cure, which heals you. From here, I quickly discover no more open road. No further place to go. It feels weird talking about things I already know the answer to.
The way out is to destroy a wall. There is no activation of anything. Just shoot it or bump into it for it to work. Life's funny that way. Despite having played this quite a number of times, I still get blindsided by the first two zombies. One behind another wall I destroy, aptly called "Weakened Walls". SUBTLE. This brings me to the first scroll.
Now that I'm an adult and I start to question the logic of this scroll. Who wrote this? Who has a reason to? Whatever, I'm sure one questionable item is peanuts to whatever inane garbage I could be playing right now. Now, let's journey onward-
Enemies are sneaky in this game. Really sneaky.
I didn't see you there. A quick solving of this, followed by a journey through "Shinbone Alley" into "Private plots" via the path of "Don't miss the Purple Gem in this region". I'll explain this after I deal with two of the undead appearing out of the plots below the nice weapons.
SNEAKY!
You no doubt see that little radar-like thing in the corner. It is a magic radar. But without any gems its just a compass with the ability to see where my shots are on the screen. I have to fill those slots with gems, then I can see the enemies. Usually you get some chance before you see an enemy to get the gem, but that doesn't apply on this level. Back to the regularly scheduled blow-by-blow.
Just like Heaven's Gate
The intro level continues to throw softballs at the player. Today, I feel they're softballs, but back in the day it was kinda nice. Well, the first weakened walls was a useful hint. Now its just pointless. You'd have to be denser than a diamond to miss the third pink wall being exploding. I continue gunning down zombies, ignoring a single pink window to enter...Heaven's Gate. Overdramatic name aside, it contains a single chest that, when opened, bring up two zombies behind you. Charming.
Is it just me or is that Japanese?
I go through the section further out from the entrance, Memory Lane, finding nothing but monsters, baubles, and a pauper's grave that actually looks bigger than the rest. I go back to the single pink window and what I presume to be the gravekeeper's secret storage with the red key. No bats, but a zombie. I go back to the Purple Gem region, where I find a purple window I missed and get the green key. Which pretty much finishes it up for this level.
These lead you to the next level
Or so I thought. Turns out I must have missed something after Heaven's Gate, so now I have to find the BLUE key. Back through Memory Lane. The storage door opens to reveal...the bats. Maybe my memory is of little use here. "Ankle deep in guano". I'd call that the child-friendly version of Knee-Deep in the Dead, but that's not true with these zombies, is it?
The door offers the option whether or not you want to advance. Very useful if you missed a gem.
The Garden of Tears starts off with no short amount of time in getting to enemies. I dislike levels like this, but I'm just going to let that slide for a moment. The opening hallway contains goodies. To my left and right are further passages. These a north and south respectively.

There's something written in stone at the end of this corridor. "A garden of tears to expose your fears." Who put this in a town cemetery? You know, come to think of it, there are a lot of statues of demons and trolls here.
North first. I keep forgetting I don't have Z set as an alt key subtitute* anymore and fire off a zapper at a potion, a zombie just getting up and a wall I didn't realize I needed to destroy. I meant to that that. It would have been obvious anyway, "Unstable walls". This is still the second level and "doors" are easy to spot.
New enemy, some kind of shade. I assume that's the case. He's not very difficult to kill, but he doesn't make any sound when he hits you. That would be a problem if this game didn't give you health potions like Doom gives you health potions. I advance and reach an open area, with many paths and some presumable destructible walls.
The central midway, is of course connected to the northern midway
In "The Northern Midway" I get ambushed by a goodly amount of zombies and shades. Hey, this is what the zapper is for. More treasure, more exploring. Zombies keep poping up in places I've already cleared up. I seem to recall this making me uncomfortable the first time around. Its like Resident Evil for the kiddies. I got to stop calling this a children's game.
"The Field of Sighs", another ambush place. Because when an enemy comes out of the ground, might as well ambush the player. After about twenty enemies later, I find the level exit, I just need to find the red key. I think there aren't any useful secrets, I.E., another gem. Further exploration of the field reveals to walls without any vines on them. I wonder what's in there...
More zombies, more items, and a yellow key. I guess its somewhere else, maybe south of the entrance. Judging by even more zombies popping up where I've already been, there could very well be a horde of them down there. Better check out the last part of "Midway" before doing so. Another obvious wall, revealing a bat and a locked door. What's behind door #1?
Which I probably should've taken a picture of.
If you guessed, red key and more zombies, then you win absolutely nothing. If this level's already done, what's down south? What's in this hedge maze? Bats? A Shade? A return to the level entrance? Why yes it is. How disappointing. It'd be a good level for a Catacomb DM though.
The Mausoleum Grounds start off with a corridor that only has a single thing blocking access. Progress! Of course, these have zombies in them. Zombie on the side, and while you're distracted with him, another pops up at the exit of the corridor. These guys have set up a weird daisy-chain of pop-up zombies. Each time one in the starting area goes down, another pops up.
After dealing with the swarm of zombies, I finally get to breathe again. Then I turn slightly and discover Mr. Skeleton. He looks a lot like the skeletons from Golden Axe, but I'm sure that's just a coinky-dink. I think he's slightly tougher than the zombies. I'm not certain. Speaking of which, they just keep popping out.
Why is there a town here again?
What a charming place I would definitely bury my dead relatives in. I soldier onward, disposing of another skeleton on the opposite side of the mausoleum. A single zapper plus a single extra shot and they're dead. That leaves the walls that are obviously traps. I go through the southern section, clearing up the undead as I pass by. A path eventually opens in two different ways, the eastern empty and the western blocked off. I take a gander at the western one. A red key is my reward, protected by some skeletons.
Strategy? What's that? I don't even need a zapper
Taking the western passage now, I eventually come across a true attempt at ambushing me. One in the front and one in the back. Before it was just dumb luck. "Corridors of Death", huh? Who names parts of their graveyard that? I eventually make it behind the mausoleum. Two undead, thanks to close proximity manage to harm me as I just make a turn. Stop game, you're making me have fun. If only I didn't have 15 health potions this would be terrifying.
Tough crowd.
Several more undead try to kill me as well. But at this point they're essentially undead #86 or something, hardly troublesome. On to checking the walls for cracks. Its not so obvious here behind the mausoleum. There are several windows and non-vine walls that don't explode when I shoot them. There's a door, but that needs a yellow key, and I only have a red. I guess that's the exit key and the yellow key is for the yellow gem. Hahaha, guys. The question now is, is the yellow key in this section or do I have to go back to the start and pick the other section? Decisions, decisions.
What? Another one?
The path further north from here leads me to more of the undead. Nothing troublesome, but they do try popping up in front of useful items. I don't think I'll really need it, but I remember Nemesis being a long fight. Burn through a zapper on a zombie, he dies faster. That answers a question I definitely cared about.
Enemies can't move past items in this game, and items usually break when shot, except for keys. You have to think about stuff like this for a moment, because otherwise you'll break something useful. Really useful, like this gem that lets me see them. That's not a problem right now, but later it should be useful. After I'm done spraying these guys with a few zappers.

Next time, The Mausoleum interior and whatever else until the next scenery change.

*Because the alt key usually causes you to get out of whatever game you're playing in Ubuntu. I don't know if this was a change from 16.04 to 18.04 or not. I also don't care.

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