Title : Conquest of the Crystal Palace
Publisher : Asmik
Developer : Quest
Genre : Action Platformer
Players : 1 Player
Release Date : 1990
Estimated Value (as of today's date) : $10-$15
CONQUEST OF THE CRYSTAL PALACE wins for best box art on any NES game. Case closed. I don't care what your argument is, this is the epitome of BAD ASS. As a kid you would be hard pressed to walk past this game and not beg your parents to buy it. It looked THAT cool.
And in terms of the game itself? Well, if the box art didn't impress you, than the game surely is. And it's a damn shame too, because this was one of those games that you mention to people and they'd respond to you with the most confounded look on their face. Not many people knew about this game, and I can't think of a reason why. I specifically remember seeing this game in a local Toys'R'Us, and one of my close friends had owned their own copy.
Perhaps it was because a late NES with a limited supply run. I wish I remember the article, but before I played this game I discovered that there really wasn't a push for a large amount of units compared to the other NES games out there. The game was positively received too, but it just didn't get the sales. Ugh, don't you hate it when that happens? Great games, decent advertising (saw it in Nintendo Power a few times), and little return? Makes me think of what happened to EARTHBOUND.
But still, when you get a game like this, who is actually made by the same people who brought you the famed OGRE BATTLE series, you are pretty much guaranteed gold.
This is another one of those "rescue the princess" story lines, so I won't get that much into it, other than the fact that your side kick is a TALKING DOG. Hell yes....So the dog reveals that you are some prince tasked with taking back your kingdom from an evil ruler. Not very original, other than the dog part. Oh, and the dog gives you a special amulet at the start of the game (but fear not, out of the three choices you can get all of them eventually)
There's either an amulet for a health boost, higher jumping, or the ability to shoot fireballs. All typical elements that you'd find in your standard action plat former. Which is what this game exactly is. I sort of think of this game as an intro to Ninja Gaiden. You know how Ninja Gaiden just persistently kicks your sorry arse no matter how hard you try? Well, CONQUEST OF THE CRYSTAL PALACE at least gives you a fighting chance.
The levels are linear, but very well designed with various stages of difficulty as you progress through them. Not to mention, all the levels are not as straight forward as they seem, with numerous open to you as well as secret locations waiting to be unveiled. One thing for sure, is that you've got to love the way these levels look. The amount of detail for a NES game is absolutely breathtaking.
As stated before, this game follows the standard action platformer schematic, but the gameplay provides it's own little quirks of its own. One is the amount of weapons you have at your disposal, including your talking dog. Don't take too much advantage of your dog though, as he could die too but he is insanely strong so use him as much as you can.
Most of your attacks are projectiles, such as fireballs and boomerangs, which works because you'll want to kill things before they get too close to you. And while the controls are smooth (insanely smooth), you'll want to be careful when performing jump attacks. Not sure if it was planned that way, but attacking while in mid-air cuts your jump short. A little annoying, but you get used to it.
Oh, and don't worry about running out of weapons - there's an ingame store to fulfill all your needs.
By far this is one of the "best looking" games for the NES. The animations are crisp, the designs of the monsters and the characters are fantastic, and even the cutscenes are well designed. It's one of those games that you just can't help to appreciate. And don't get me started on the boss battles. Man, those bring back memories of some epic fights.
There's not much you can say is wrong about this game. Controls are solid, gameplay is masterful, the soundtrack is addictive, and the story line while not very unique, contains some very entertaining quips.
This once again brings me back to the real depressing aspect of this game. No one knows about it. So I have a job for you. Play this game (if you haven't), experience it's glory, and tell a retro gamer friend about it. Let's get this game on the map. It needs all the attention it should have gotten over 20 years ago.
That's your job..NOW GET TO IT!! For me? I'm going to give this bad boy another play through.
Final Score (out of 5) :
Until next time. Keep on gaming!