La-Mulana

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Finally I got to La-Mulana. The adventure starts here!
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This is where the Mother sleeps. A path of trials, where only heroes that do not fear death may enter.
—First tablet in the ruins
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La-Mulana (ラ·ムラーナ) is a Metroidvania platformer videogame for Windows. It is freeware, and was developed by three people who call their development group Nigoro (formerly known as GR3 Project) in Japan as a tribute to the MSX computer system/gaming console (and includes tons of references to such). You play an Indiana Jones-esque archaeologist who must solve the numerous puzzles throughout an immense set of ancient ruins.

La-Mulana is an homage to the 8-bit action-adventures that you might remember from your childhood. It wants to instill in you the same sense of fear and awe you felt back then. The sense that everything is at stake and anything could happen.

But you've grown up, haven't you? Your twitch skills are stronger, and your knowledge of Video Game Tropes is broader. Can you ever really go back?

No need to worry 'bout that. La-Mulana has grown up too.

You can download the game and the English patch here.

A remake on Wii Ware was released in Japan on June 21, 2011, with 32-bit sprite graphics in place of the MSX-style ones, among various other changes; it was developed by the same three guys who did the original. An overseas release localized by Nicalis was planned, but was ultimately cancelled due to development problems and the decline of the WiiWare service. However! According to this post on NIGORO's blog, the remake is still coming to PC. And this version will have an overseas release. Watch the trailer here.

Tropes used in La-Mulana include:
  • Advancing Boss of Doom: Viy pulls it off, as does Ellmac (sorta).
  • Adventurer Archaeologist: Lemeza, the Player Character, is quite obviously one of these.
  • Alien Geometries: La-Mulana is non-simply connected, almost certainly deliberately. If you try to make a map that shows where all the areas are in relation to each other, taking every connection into account, you'll quickly discover that it can't be done. In particular, it's not at all clear what the lowest point inside the ruins is, as you can go through the same set of locations in the lower areas (Inferno Cavern, Chamber of Extinction) over and over again while taking a path that should logically be going farther and farther downward. That said, there's also the infinitely deep pit in the Inferno Cavern that appears during the quest for opening up Hell Temple.
    • Perhaps most Egregious is the Shrine of the Mother, in which the lowest area of the Endless Corridor takes you to the top of the area, and an entrance three floors up takes you to a lower, isolated area. Everything else can be explained with the depiction of three-dimensional space in two dimensions, but this...
    • Even the same areas aren't connected logically. Hell Temple is the another example where you can fall from multiple rooms into the same "Land of Hell". There's also the first time the player enters the Twin Labyrinth from the Mausoleum of the Giants, where going down one ladder sends the player to a room on the opposite side of the map!
    • Areas vary in terms of how alien their geometries are (with, generally, the "deeper" areas getting more bizarre, while the early ones make a bit more sense). The Twin Labyrinths in particular is utterly confusing (naturally, since it basically connects two dimensions). The Endless Corridor is pretty bizarre too, but both it and the bizarre way it relates to the Shrine of the Mother make a bit more sense when you realize that Tiamat used her power to swap it with the Dimensional Corridor so she could hide in another dimension.
  • All Myths Are True
  • All There in the Manual: For your benefit, the manual is included. Do read it, or you'll be lost at sea.
    • A necessary hint to one of the puzzles is only found in the manual, to encourage such things. However, as it refers to the end of the Aztec's fifth age, which got talked about a bit on television after the game came out, it's more probable you can beat the game without reading it.
  • Already Undone for You: Traps in that large temple complex.
  • Always Check Behind the Chair: La-Mulana really emphasizes exploration to a ludicrous degree, as finding a variety of items (like the MSX ROMs in the original game) and puzzle hints require examining everything and anything thoroughly, sometimes even including analysis of the backgrounds on specific screens.
  • Amazing Technicolor Battlefield: In the remake. In the original version, most of the bosses you fight will have a black screen in the backdrop, this is because it's supposed to look like it fits the limitations of the MSX.
  • Ambidextrous Sprite: Averted, Lemeza has different sprites for facing left and right.
  • Ancient Astronauts: The Mother.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Not a very good reward for completing the bonus level. In the remake, after you beat Hell Temple, Lemeza's sprites actually change in game of him donning the Treasure that must not be seen.
  • Apocalyptic Log: You can find skeletons of previous adventurers, frequently with some note on them, either detailing how they'll soon die or giving a hint to a puzzle. These range from the serious to the ridiculous (an adventurer writing a note after he triggered a trap instead of, you know, getting away from the trap) to ("I hear there are shops in these ruins, but that does not matter because I am dying.").
    • Also, the tablets in the Mausoleum of the Giants read like an Apocalyptic Log for an entire civilization:
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We could not grant the Great Mother's wish. I am the only one to remain, and here I go to my long, final rest. --Abt

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  • April Fools' Day: Take a look at this gameplay trailer. Notice all the weird things happening? Take a look at the date it was posted. Interestingly, a few things shown in the April Fools trailer actually do happen in the game.
  • Ars Goetia: The source of the names of some sub-bosses and enemies.
  • Ascended Extra: In the Wii Ware version, The Boss is given an actual theme, it uses one of the unused songs from the Jukebox, called "Good Morning Mom".
  • Ascended Meme: Even the developers refer to the Cat Sidhe in the Temple of the Sun as Cat Ball.
    • One of the entries in Jasmine "Momogirl" Cote's La-Momolana Livejournal has a joke about Lemeza actually wearing the equipment items. In the Wii Ware version, whenever you get a new equipment item, it will indeed show Lemeza wearing it in the Items menu.
      • Naramura's Twitter showed a lot of the concept art of La-Mulana and one of those concept arts has traditional versions of Momogirl's entries.
      • Those entries are actually in the full guide book of the Wii Ware version; not only that, but they were redrawn by Naramura himself.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: About half the bosses.
    • Viy, in particular, is so large that you only see its eye socket during the fight. Those annoying tentacles? They're supposed to be eyelashes.
  • Author Avatar:
    • Naramura's avatar character can be found in the Graveyard of the Giants. In the Wii Ware remake, his avatar character appears as a shopkeeper. His avatar character can also be found in Hell Temple in the form of a bomb throwing enemy and the Bonus Boss named simply "The Boss".
    • Elder Xelpud is considered to be Duplex's avatar before NIGORO was GR 3 Project.
    • Ditto with Samieru, his was Lemeza.
  • Auto-Scrolling Level: The boss fight against Viy.
  • Awesome but Impractical:
    • The pistol. It's by far the most powerful weapon in the game, but you can't carry more than 12 bullets (24 in the remake), they're prohibitively expensive, you don't get it until very late in the game, and the final boss isn't even vulnerable to it. It's only useful for finding certain ROMs and boss fights. It's a little more practical in the remake, as you can buy it from a shop on the Surface, and the bullets are now effective on most bosses.
    • In the remakes, the owner of the surface shop who sells the Bullets even says: "I smuggle, you pay out the nose."
  • Back for the Finale: Shorn steals the show, so to speak.
  • Background Boss: Tiamat as she appears in the remake.
  • Bag of Spilling: According to the manual, Lemeza's equipment was seized by airport security except the whip and MSX, which he saved by screaming "THESE ARE SOUVENIRS!" until they let him take them along.
  • Ballistic Bone: Thrown by the more advanced types of skeletons.
  • Bamboo Technology: Some of the children of the Mother built impressive mechanisms despite not seeming to have technologically progressed too far. Though it overlaps with Schizo-Tech, since someone built the Tower of Ruin and the Tower of the Goddess.
  • Barrier Change Boss: Each form of Mother (in the original PC release) is only vulnerable to one specific weapon.
  • Beam Spam: The tiny flying demons in the Dimensional Corridor love to shoot lasers all over the place, and they usually come in groups.
  • Big Boo's Haunt: The Giants' Mausoleum, and to a much lesser extent the ruins in general.
  • Bittersweet Ending: In perspective, the end of La Mulana is REALLY sad. Mother always wanted to go back to the heavens, but all that can be given to her is the peace of death. But in doing that, it actually seals the fate of Earth because without Mother, no more sentient races would rise on Earth. Granted, the treasure of La Mulana could make a normal human being capable of doing what she could... But can a human be trusted with that power?
    • Not to mention the fact that you go through all the work of getting the treasure only for your father to steal it from you in the end. In other words, the power to create life is now in the hands of a thieving jerk!
  • Blackout Basement: A large portion of the Chamber of Extinction. Also, both Tower of the Goddess and Hell Temple have a room which is dark initially.
  • Bland-Name Product: The Super Notebook MSX was manufactured by S.ONY according to the manual.
  • Bleak Level: The remake's take on Confusion Gate, now known as the Gate of Illusion or, in its disguised form, Eden. In the original, it's just kind of depressing. But now, expect to see plenty of disturbing imagery: blood-streaked face murals twisted into un-smiles, a serpent statue eternally un-vomiting pink water, ghostly maidens eternally re-enacting their deaths in the sacrificial pit of the demon Chi You, and of course, that Scare Chord that plays when you enter for the first time. Have Fun!
  • Block Puzzle: There are lots of them.
  • Bolt of Divine Retribution: Normally used whenever you hit something that you shouldn't.
  • Bonus Boss: The Boss, at the end of Hell Temple.
  • Bonus Dungeon: Hell Temple, one of the most aptly named levels in the entire game.
    • According to the official blog, some people thought Hell Temple (or Hell's Sanctuary) was too easy. So the Wii Ware version (which will have it as DLC) is going to be harder, with 'more traps'. Hoo boy.
  • Book Ends: The fanfare at the start of the final boss fight is the same fanfare you hear when you first enter the ruins, and also resembles the Surface music. The music in the True Shrine is also a remix of the game's title theme.
  • Boring but Practical: Shurikens.
  • Boss Remix: Each boss theme has musical sequences for that boss's areas, usually the backside theme, oddly enough.
  • (Mini-)Boss Rush:
    • The Dimensional Corridor holds Tiamat's eleven children: count 'em, eleven minibosses in just one area. All but one will appear in their room shortly after you do (the other is hidden by a puzzle).
    • The official editor comes with a Boss Rush mod.
    • The Wii Ware version has two different types of Boss Rushes in the form of DLC; one where you fight all the bosses in a sequential order, and the other one where you fight all of the bosses and mid-bosses in any order, with the whole ruins to explore in. The PC version of the remake has all of this included.
  • Bottomless Pits: The game has precisely one, but it doesn't kill you. Instead it's an infinitely long vertical chain of identical (or are they?) lava-filled screens.
  • Bowdlerization: Early promo art for the Wii Ware version showed Lemeza smoking a cigarette. This was quickly changed on the English side of the website.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: Called a treasure not meant to be seen, according to an ingame character, and with good reason.
    • Annoyingly enough, this is obtained after getting through the most ridiculously hard area of the game (Hell Temple), which is nearly impossible to find in the first place without reading the dev team's minds, requires having all the gear to finish the game already, and rewards you with being shown something almost no-one will find enjoyable, being called an idiot, and not even having a mark on your save or inventory to show for the experience. It however is likely to leave the mark of insanity on the player. Clearly, the dev team are completely sadistic.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Duracuets, in regards to the Hell Temple treasure. Judging by Lemeza's facial expression when he equips it, Duracuets isn't really making fun of him so much as making fun of YOU.
  • Brutal Bonus Level: "Welcome to Hell Temple. This place is one that none should come to. If thou will have no regrets regardless of what happens, proceed. This is Hell Temple. Hell temple is Hell!"
  • Build Like an Egyptian: The Temple of the Sun.
  • Captain Ersatz: Lemeza is an obvious spinoff of Indiana Jones. Shorn, in turn, spun off from Henry Jones Sr.
  • Cave Behind the Falls: Found in a few places at the Surface, and also in the Spring at the Sky and Dimensional Corridor.
  • Chain-Reaction Destruction: Ellmac is more explosive than one might think when damaged enough.
  • Character Blog: The Wiiware remake's official blog has a series of archeology lectures done by Lemeza himself.
  • Chinese Vampire: Seen in Endless Corridor.
  • The Chosen One: Lemeza is granted permission by the Sages to chant the Mantras and summon the Mother.
  • Collapsing Ceiling Boss: Sakit. In the Wii Ware remake, Mother qualifies as well, what with her being a Load-Bearing Boss (see below).
  • Collapsing Lair: Happens in cutscene format in the original, but played completely straight in the Wiiware remake. Not to mention the fact that it has an utterly obscene Guide Dang It as to where to actually go, especially since all the normal exits are blocked.
  • Collision Damage: Although most of the time, it's very minor. The damage doesn't matter so much as the Knockback (especially from the Goddamned Bats). However, damage from touching bosses is another story. For example, in the remake, touching Viy (or Palenque) in the remake results in your HP being drained fast, and Mercy Invincibility will not protect you.
  • Colossus Climb: During the fight agaist Sakit.
  • Cosmic Forces Trio: The Mother (Creator), the Sages (Preservers) and the Lemeza (The Destroyer).
  • Crate Expectations: Seen in Tower of Ruin.
  • Crystal Skull: One of the artifacts acquired late in the game; it unlocks the entrance to Tiamat's Dimensional Corridor.
  • Culture Chop Suey: The ruins are basically a huge pile-up of most of the world's major cultures, religions and architectural styles. Justified, as the game implies that all intelligent life was born in La-Mulana.
  • Cute Monster Girl: Tiamat.
  • Cycle of Hurting: Various traps, most notably the Confusion Gate's 'Sacrificial Pit' and the Twin Labyrinth's passage pits.
  • Dead Character Walking: If Lemeza doesn't properly die, he can move around without harm but can't attack or use the menus. The easist trigger is getting killed by a paralyzing attack, and is also known as the Zombie Lemeza Glitch.
  • Deadly Disc: The Chakram.
  • Deadly Gas: Two rooms in the Twin Labyrinths are filled with a poisonous fog that gives you 30 seconds before it knocks you out. The original is (for some odd reason) kind enough to just kick you back to the previous room; the remake... Game Over.
  • Death Trap: And tons of them.
  • Depth Perplexion: The bats can fly "in front of" any object on the screen, whether or not you can pass it, and will always hurt you if their sprite touches yours. They can also fly "in front of" water and behave exactly the same as they do elsewhere. And as frustrating as this is in the remake, it's even more so in the original in the original; there, the water is a solid color and the same color they are, making them invisible.
  • Destructible Projectiles: Most projectiles can be destroyed by hitting them: for example thrown bones, fire chunks, and even the burning excrements bonnacons attack with.
  • Developer's Room: Three of them, one for each of the developers.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: All of the game's assets are in plain image and sound files that you can view/hear normally... except for one. The skimpy swimsuit scene has its graphics scrambled, all to keep the surprise.
  • Disconnected Side Area: There are quite a few. A path you need to take late in the game consists mostly of them.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Temple of the Sun, "the valiant, male temple", and its counterpart, the Temple of Moonlight, "the lovely, female temple".
  • Door to Before: Quite a few.
  • Down the Drain: Spring of the Sky is up the drain.
  • Dual Boss: Gozu and Mezu.
  • Durable Deathtrap
  • Easter Egg: The Maze of Galious area found in the Chamber of Extinction, which is also a convenient shortcut between the two parts of the chamber.
  • Easy Levels, Hard Bosses: Combat is only a minor issue throughout the game: puzzles and navigation are the main challenge, and being knocked into water or off a platform is more dangerous than Hit Point loss from attacks. During a Boss Battle though, this is completely different...
  • Empty Room Psych
  • Endless Corridor: Area 8 is literally called "Endless Corridor". It has five floors, each of which loops around on itself.
  • Eternal Engine: The Tower of Ruin, especially in the remake. And to some extent, the Tower of the Goddess.
  • Evolving Weapon: The starting whip can be upgraded twice, dealing triple the damage of the start whip. Not to mention the Castlevania-Mahjong Wizard rom combo, which grants you five times the usual damage. Sadly, the combo is almost required on two late game bosses.
  • Eye Beams: Some bosses do this, most notably Viy.
  • Eye Scream: Viy.
  • Eyes Do Not Belong There: Algol's entire skin is covered by eyeballs.
  • Faceless Eye: One which chases you.
  • Fake Trap: One of this is encountered in the early game and looks like a spike pit.
  • Fan Boy: Xelpud, of the MSX.
  • Fan Disservice: Two words and a symbol: SKIMPY ♥ SUIT. According to the ESRB write-up for the remake, "...one male character can be dressed in a somewhat revealing Sexy Bathing Suit outfit." Which, combined with the new Virtual Paper Doll in the pause screen, can only suggest...
  • Final Boss, New Dimension: Several new dimensions, actually. This has led to community debates regarding whether what you're fighting actually is the final boss or merely some sort of security system.
  • Final Exam Boss: All of the primary (melee) weapons must be used to defeat the original's final boss. If you're missing one, you can't beat her until you find it. In the remake, your choice of weapon doesn't matter as much, but the boss's final form utilizes the signature attacks of all eight Guardians as the battle goes on.
  • Flare Gun: A secondary weapon to be found in the ruins. Useful for solving puzzles and hitting monsters above the player, but probably not a weapon to be relied upon (except for bosses).
  • Flip Screen Scrolling: Which often leads players jumping before the screen transitions.
  • Flunky Boss: A few of them.
  • Four Is Death: The fourth Seal is the Death Seal.
  • Game Mod: The creators of La-Mulana released an editor tool, including that tool has a Boss Rush and a Time Attack mode of Hell Temple. However actual mods are very rare, if not impossible to find due to either La-Mulana not being very popular when the tool was released or no one has even bother to translate the tool to proper English.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: In the ending, Lemeza is shown backtracking through the ruins on foot. As he does this, he passes by a few enemies without getting hit at all.
  • Genius Loci: The entirety of the ruins.
  • Giant Space Flea From Nowhere: This is a game full of ancient ruins and relatively normal giant monsters for the bosses. Then you get Palenque, who is an alien riding some kind of flying jet. Actually, it's apparently based on Pakal The Maya Astronaut.
  • Godiva Hair: Tiamat and Nu Wa in the Wii version.
  • Graphics Induced Super Deformed: In pseudo-MSX port, Lemeza's head takes up the half of the height in-game. Less so in Wii port due to more pixels.
  • Gratuitous English: The Japanese version of the game opens with "Finally I got to the La-Mulana [sic]. The adventure starts here!". Also, the introduction text of the original was edited a bit for readability in the patch.
  • Guide Dang It: You might have more luck searching for the actual Ark of the Covenant than attempting to finish this game without an FAQ.
    • Combining certain MSX ROM's can result in useful effects such as boosted attack power or extended Mercy Invincibility... but with a pool of over 50 ROM's, good luck trying to figure out what to combine with what. This isn't as much of an issue in the remake with its .exe files, as there aren't nearly as many to mix and match, and half of them have useful functions on their own.
  • Heartbeat Soundtrack: Wonder of the Wonder (the Confusion Gate theme) in the new arranged version.
  • Heart Container: Life Jewels in the original, Sacred Orbs in the remake. Don't eat them, though.
  • Heroic BSOD: Deceased Crab has one when he goes far out of his way to get an awesome item early... and winds up getting the Flare Gun for all his work. He was expecting the Chain Whip upgrade, and the flaregun, while useful, is not the Chain Whip. Kept as a Lost Episode.
    • To clarify, painful block puzzle with more steps than most of the Endless Corridor block puzzles, all while not having the upgrade needed to quickly push blocks. This makes an otherwise painless, if tricky, puzzle painfully slow.
    • Once he starts Hell Temple, it would be easier to count the moments that don't make him do this.
  • He Was Right There All Along: Sakit. It's one of statues you see in the Mausoleum of the Giants.
  • High Speed Battle: Bahamut, Ellmac and Palenque. Ellmac's theme is even called "High Speed Beast".
  • Homage: To MSX games in general, and a secret area contains a tribute to Maze of Galious, the inspiration of the game. There are also segments based on Parodius and Snatcher.
  • Honest John's Dealership: One of the ghost shopkeepers in the Graveyard of Giants. He suspiciously emphasizes that his wares are real...
  • A House Divided: The Giants split into two factions: those who wanted to return Mother to the sky, and those who wanted her to remain on Earth. Three factions if you want to included Zeb stuck holding up the Earth.
  • Inexplicable Treasure Chests: Why is everything still in their chests if Shorn already went into the ruins?
  • Infinity+1 Sword: If you have the Gauntlet and the right ROM combo, the Mace becomes the fastest, strongest, and most versatile weapon in the game.
  • Interchangeable Antimatter Keys: The weights: found everywhere, used everywhere for various purposes, and each one can only be used once. The actual keys (Seals), on the other hand, open all locks of their type.
  • Invisible Monsters: One enemy in in Tower of the Goddess, which is invisible until you get the Eye of Truth, and another in the Tower of Ruin, which can only be seen when time is stopped.
  • Jerkass: Duracuets with his Schmuck Bait. Though in the remake, he's less of a Jerk Ass and more of a guy whose relieved that he's finally able to pass off his treasure to somebody.
    • Also, Shorn taunting his son he found the ruins first and then stealing the treasure from Lemeza at the end of the credits.
    • Xelpud in the remake is a bit of a condescending jackass until Lemeza defeats a couple of bosses.
  • Joke Weapon: The Keyblade is the worst primary weapon in the game (it's as weak as the weakest secondary weapon, in fact), weak, slow and with a smaller hitbox than any other weapon. Naturally, there are many puzzles that require you to use it and even a few bosses that can only be harmed by it. Additionally, as an almost never useful detail, it does extend a few pixels farther forward than any other primary weapon except the mace.
  • Kaizo Trap: Plenty of them in the original, a bunch more in the remake, especially in Hell Temple.
    • In the remake, what does one boss (Palenque) do as he's exploding? Makes a flying leap at you to take you down with him.
    • Stone fist in remake's Hell Temple anyone?
  • Kamehame Hadoken: Mother's soul in the Wii Ware version.
  • Knockback: Your main difficulty enhancer.
  • Last Ditch Move: Palenque in the Wii Ware version.
  • Lava Is Boiling Kool-Aid: Lava is a palette swap of water. The only difference between them is that they require different items to allow you to use ROMs while in them and to swim in them without damage.
  • Ledge Bats: In many, many places, particularly in Brutal Bonus Level.
  • Leitmotif: Lemeza, Xelpud, the Four Sages and every boss.
  • Lethal Lava Land: The aptly named Inferno Cavern. The Tower of Ruin also counts, though most players will have acquired protection from lava by the time they find it.
  • Let's Play: "Hey La-Mulanites! I'm Deceased Crab!"
  • Level Map Display: There's a Map item to be found in each area of the dungeon (there is no overworld map). Viewing a map requires equipping either or both of the Ruins RAM cartridges.
  • Level Up Fill Up: The way that you can Heal Thyself is by filling your experience bar. The only benefit is a health refill.
  • Load-Bearing Boss: The Mother. Justified that the temple of La-Mulana is the Mother; the entire complex is her body.
  • Lost Forever: Both Whip upgrades, The Life Jewel in the Dimensional Corridor, and nearly everything in the Shrine of Mother.
    • As well as Hell Temple if you don't complete its whole unlocking process in one go. This, however, is arguably an act of mercy.
    • The Dimensional Corridor's Life Jewel is still accessible, technically, but just very hard to get because you have to depend on the random nature of the enemies.
  • MacGuffin: The Treasure of Life, Lemeza and Shorn's ultimate goal. Its powers (if any) are never explained, other than that it is connected to the power to create life.
  • Malevolent Architecture: Far too often to recount.
  • Mama Bear: Tiamat, who you can only fight after slaying her eleven children in the Dimensional Corridor.
  • The Maze: At least half of the areas, especially Chamber of Birth, Confusion Gate, Twin Labyrinths and the True Shrine.
  • Mercy Invincibility: Can be mercilessly exploited by dealing negligible damage to yourself with caltrops to survive major attacks.
  • Metroidvania: And how.
  • Minecart Madness: Boss battle against Ellmac.
  • Mini Game: A Parodius clone and a dating sim which segues into a parody of Snatcher, complete with shooting gallery battles.
  • Mistaken for Granite: The second Guardian and the Spriggan statue. Also, wall reliefs will start shooting at you if you stand next to them for too long or strike them.
  • Multi Melee Master: In the end, Lemeza carries a whip, a dagger, an axe, a katana and a ritual sword.
  • Multiple Endings: Nicalis has confirmed that the Wii Ware version will have three different endings.
  • Multi Stage Battle: While two- and even three-stage boss battles are par for the course in modern games, the Mother battle should be acknowledged as it consists of five separate stages, some of which involve substages.
  • Musical Pastiche: Curse of IRON PIPE, the theme to the Spring in the Sky, borrows about 15 seconds of melody from the obscure MSX game Ashguine 2. Because of this, that part of the song had to be changed slightly for the Wii Ware version, now called "Curse of Ocean".
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: The hero is an Adventurer Archaeologist... descended from ninjas. The Japanese kind, not McNinjas. I am not making this up... it's All There in the Manual.
  • Nintendo Hard: The whole game is basically an homage to the era of Nintendo Hard MSX games, so it's only natural that it would be difficult. They promised they'd lower the difficulty on the wiiware release... but not for hell temple. However, the main difficulty removal comes from removing the Fake Difficulty.
  • Nostalgia Level: The Gate of Time, which has its entrance hidden in the Chamber of Extinction.
  • Not Completely Useless:
    • Throwing knives (Rolling Shuriken in the remake): try them on the original's Viy to deal massive damage. They're also good for detecting fake platforms (but not trapdoors) and edges of solid platforms, especially in dark rooms.
    • The remake's Caltrops seem pretty useless since by the time you acquire them you probably have the Knife and Axe which can hit enemies at ground level, but they are very effective for killing the A Bao A Qus (invisible foes which follow you from behind) in the Tower of the Goddess, as well as a general counter for enemies that dive at you from above (i.e. you can focus on dodging while the enemy hits the caltrops you left behind). Plus, you can also exploit them for free Mercy Invincibility.
    • In the original, aside from situations where you're forced to use it, the Key Sword's narrow hitbox can be extremely useful in some of the Endless Corridor pot-smashing puzzles, since any other weapon risks accidentally smashing the wrong pots and forcing you to start over.
  • "No Warping" Zone: Dimensional corridor inhibits teleportation to grail points... There's also a few death traps that prevent warping as well.
  • Obstructive Foreground: Is present in some locations. It is much more prominent in the remake.
  • One-Winged Angel: Mother's soul (3 times!); Baphomet in the Wii version
  • Only Smart People May Pass: All of the puzzles in the game can be solved with information found in the game, with the exception of one, where the information needed is in the manual. Constantly lampshaded by the tablets in the Confusion Gate.
  • Our Demons Are Different: Baphomet and Beelzebub, as well as having common enemies called Satan and Devil.
  • Platform Hell: The aptly named Hell Temple. It's one of the few Platform Hell examples where it's hard to die. Considering what it is, dying may actually come as a blessing.
  • Power Nullifier: The grail will not work within the Dimensional Corridor, since Tiamat sealed it off from the world.
  • Precision F-Strike: One of the shopkeepers does not take kindly to you not completing a sale.
  • Precursors: The race of giants who built many of the ruins are the most obvious example, but if you pay attention to the scraps of story scattered throughout the game there are several iterations of "Nth children of the Mother".
  • Puzzle Boss: The Soul of Life in the final boss fight is a very ornate example, requiring you to have found four hints scattered around the ruins to tell you what order to attack the boss in.
  • Recurring Riff: All the boss themes start with the same sequence of notes.
  • Redundant Researcher: Lemeza and Shorn. As well, there are many who eventually failed at their research: check their corpses for notes and items.
  • Relationship Upgrade: Subverted; the girl in the dating sim talks about doing this, but then she complains about toothaches and the guy she was talking to finds some fake skin on the ground...
  • Remixed Level:
    • The Shrine, after defeating the eighth guardian.
    • In the Wiiware version, the Maze of Gailous tribute area has been replaced with the Gate of Time, which has the Surface, Gate of Guidance, and Mausoleum of the Giants in their classic original form, although limited.
  • Respawning Enemies: You'll love to hate them most of the time.
  • Retraux: Without doing a little research on the game, you may think that this game is straight out of the 80's, when it was really developed and released in the 2000's.
  • Reverse Grip: How you attack with your dagger.
  • Rewarding Inactivity: A few puzzles are solved by waiting and doing nothing in specific areas.
  • Rewarding Vandalism: If you attack something you shouldn't, you will bring it closer to becoming pissed off at you and randomly firing at you, if you aren't directly punished via lightning. But there's some puzzles that require you to piss off statues to get an item or continue on.
  • Rocket Punch: Sakit shoots out his left arm, on a large chain that enables the player to reach his weak point. He gets a proper Rocket Punch in the remake, using his right arm.
  • Running Gag: The "Curse of Ashguine". Elder Xelpud warns you about it; it turns out to be an iron pipe suddenly sticking out of your crotch. The manual mentions that one type of enemies breathes with an iron pipe originating from its crotch, and the theme of the Spring of the Sky is called "Curse of IRON PIPE"—which contains some musical material that references a certain theme from the game Ashguine 2 (said material had to be reworked for the Wii Ware version to avoid possible copyright issues).
  • Scenery Gorn: The Shrine of the Mother after it "transforms", with great parts of the former place being broken down and Meat Moss-like roots emerging from the Tree of Life.
  • Schmuck Bait: Many traps, such as those that have a pedestal for weights, but merely close off the section of the room you're in, or throw spikes in your face... or often both. Also, a really useful item sitting in plain view. Often it's told that doing this or that will trigger a trap. Also, as a sort of meta-schmuck-bait, the treasure which must not be seen.
    • At least one of those trap pedestals is also the solution to a puzzle, but requires that you hit a certain switch first. As well, some traps must be triggered for certain puzzles.
    • A certain tablet in the Mausoleum of the Giants tells you not to read it again. If you do, it basically says "you shouldn't have done that" and spawns extra enemies all through the area. The added Difficulty Spike isn't a game-breaker by any means, but the only way to undo it is to restore a previous save.
    • In the remake, NIGORO sure seems to like to mess with people who have played the original game, such as additional traps that didn't exist in the original (or worse, were correct puzzle solutions), some of which also qualify as a Kaizo Trap.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: An odd meta-example: in Mukimuki SD Memorial, a second girl appears after the protagonist downs the first one that tried to kill him. Turns out she's a Snatcher too, to which he replies, "Ah, to hell with this." The Robot Buddy invokes the MST3K Mantra, then the ROM crashes.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: The game's name La-Mulana is the programmer's name Naramura, with the syllables written backwards. Well, that, and the Japanese lack of distinction between "L" and "R". Xelpud's name spelled backwards is duplex, one of the other developers. Lemeza's Japanese name, Ruemiza, with syllables inverted is Samieru, the third developer's name.
  • Sequence Breaking: If taken far enough, you can amass enough power to kill the first boss in 4 hits. In fact, odds are you won't fight the bosses in order, and you may end up fighting the first boss late in the game if you don't go looking for it sooner.
    • On a whole though, the game is well aware of your sequence breaking desires, and just makes it so you have to work very hard to get what you want. There is almost always more than one path available to you at any time, though one is generally a lot easier than the other.
    • Maybe the game stops caring about linear paths after a certain point. The game starts to feel like a Wide Open Sandbox the more areas of the ruins you unlock. And in fact, it's highly likely that no two Let's Plays run the game the same way. Unlike, say, Super Metroid where certain key items are usually obtained and events are done in order.
  • Sequential Boss: The final boss has five increasingly difficult forms, with no opportunity to heal.
  • Shout-Out:
    • One of the ROM combos lets you play a Gradius clone, another combo with Contra turns you into a One-Hit-Point Wonder, and one of the ROMs required for the whip power-up combo is Castlevania.
    • The Contra "anti-shout-out" is part of a combo with F1 Spirit 3D because the creators disliked that latter game (which also shows in the fact that you can buy it for five coins).
    • Those who grew up with the MSX will get quite a few laughs from Elder Xelpud's many quotes.
    • The final reward for beating the Hell Temple is a Shout-Out to Dragon Quest II for the MSX.
    • Lemeza's last name Kosugi and his love for curry was inspired by a TV commercial about Kane Kosugi's "curry is my special power-up".
    • The second music preview for the Wii version makes shoutouts to Castlevania, Mega Man and especially Moonwalker.
    • In the Wii Ware version, the MSX references has been replaced by flash games that Nigoro has made in the past.
    • The song "Rest, No Rest" in the Wii Ware version comes from the very first game that Nigoro made, GR3.
    • Lemeza's whip goes from leather to a chain to a chain with a spiked ball ("mace") just like the classic Castlevania games.
    • You need to stop time to defeat the Skyfish.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: The Graveyard of the Giants.
  • Some Dexterity Required: Precisely controlling falling, using grapple claws, and getting used to water and lava will take a while to get used to.
  • Sound-Coded for Your Convenience: Shell horn announces when a puzzle is completed, or when you activate a trap instead.
  • Sound of No Damage: A hollow "ping", accompanied by the projectile ricocheting off.
  • Spikes of Doom: For the most part, they are actually more annoying than deadly. In the remake though, they take out a larger chunk of your health, but you now have the ability to walk through them from the sides... but there are a few exceptions (which tend to look different from the usual spikes anyway).
  • Spiritual Successor: The game was made by fans of the relatively little-known Konami MSX game Maze of Galious. In the manual, they explain modern games just aren't thrilling enough. Not only that, but there is a hidden area based off of it.
  • Sprint Shoes: The Boots.
  • Story Breadcrumbs
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Ellmac, a giant frilled lizard, explodes when defeated.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Alien: The Mother is heavily implied to be one.
  • Super Drowning Skills: Initially in either version, merely touching water inflicts damage on (the remake claims the water is somewhat toxic). At least until you acquire the Scalesphere... but the game warns that you do have to swim through water before you can get it.
  • Super Not-Drowning Skills: After which, water is entirely harmless (save for during Bahamut's boss battle in the original version). Which makes the Spring in the Sky subsequently one of the safest levels in the game, as half its difficulty came from drowning. The same is oddly true for lava. In fact, in all likelihood, you'll be able to swim around in LAVA before water.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: For legal purposes, references to the MSX are removed from the Wii Ware version. Instead, Lemeza will carry a Mobile Super X laptop.
    • Also for legal purposes, the much-loved song "Curse of IRON PIPE" has been removed from the Wii Ware version. In its place is "Curse of Ocean", which is pretty much the same song with the copyrighted parts changed.
  • Tactical Suicide Boss: Sakit. It would be almost impossible to damage him if his arm wouldn't be a convenient bridge after his Rocket Punch. Ellmac is one as well.
  • Take That: The first page of the manual is a jab at newer generations of video games, as well as gamers of the current generation:
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"For those used to the new-style of really easy games, it may be very hard to beat La-Mulana. But that's OK. We're looking for those gamers that could in days past defeat Druaga, bring the baby back safely from the clutches of Gallious, and sealed the Evil Crystal."

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    • If you're an NES fanatic, a couple of Xelpud's quotes might piss you off a bit.
    • A minor one: F1 Spirit (a real MSX game) is available in a store for 130 coins. F1 Spirit 3D (also a MSX game) is available in the same shop, costs 5 Coins. When combined with the MSX version of Contra, it either drains your health, or makes you a One-Hit-Point Wonder.
  • Taking You with Me: Palenque pulls this right at the end of his boss fight after he's killed in the remake: jumping out of his spaceship and exploding... if he's not knocked back into his ship with a well-timed hit, it's a One-Hit Kill.
  • Tears of Blood: The third form of the Mother cries these, and they turn into blazes of fire.
  • Teleport Spam:
    • Several minibosses have teleporting abilities. Baphomet also gains teleporting ability in the remake.
    • Hell Temple takes the greatest pleasure in making you do this. By bouncing you around on teleporters, until you are back at the very beginning, if you make the slightest misstep.
    • The player is also forced to do this (though not quite as extensively) to get through the mazes in Confusion Gate and the Chamber of Birth.
  • Temple of Doom: The main theme of the game.
  • Tennis Boss: In the second form of the final boss, the swirling disks have to be hit with the knife to knock them back at her.
  • Time Stands Still: The lamp.
  • Title Drop: The last Mantra is LAMULANA.
  • Tomorrowland: Most of the game is ancient, dusty ruins. Then the Tower of the Goddess comes along, and it's a spaceship.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Lemeza has a huge love for curry, he pulls it out whenever you pause the game.
  • Trap Door: Temple of Doom has plenty of them.
  • Trial and Error Gameplay: Often, but especially noteworthy in Hell Temple.
  • Try Everything: The game is designed to discourage brute-force solutions. Doing this will likely lead to a lot of deaths and make 100% Completion impossible.
  • Turns Red: The Soul of Death in the final boss fight takes this to an extreme, by casually gaining more attacks and having different animations in the background the more you hurt it.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: The dating sim minigame mentioned above does this for laughs.
  • Unexpected Shmup Level: The boss battle against Palenque, especially if you have a lot of Shurikens to toss at him from afar. PR3 is an Unexpected Shmup Minigame, and you need to reach a high enough score to clear a puzzle in the Hell Temple.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: It's not really what you call cruelty, but attacking statues will cause them to fire darts at you. It becomes cruelty when you learn that the ruins are the body of the Mother: you're attacking her from the inside.
  • Video Game Remake: The Wii Ware and PC remake.
  • Virtual Paper Doll: The inventory screen in the Wii Ware remake shows a picture of Lemeza wearing the current equipment set. The official blog recognizes that end-game combinations can make Lemeza look ridiculous.
  • Voice with an Internet Connection: The remake has Elder Xelpud send e-mails to the player when certain conditions are met, which can be read at any time.
  • Waiting Puzzle: Some of the puzzles require to stand in specific spots for long enough. One puzzle specifically requires pausing long enough for Lemeza to go through his entire Idle Animation and start taking a nap.
  • "Wake-Up Call" Boss:
    • While the original's Amphisbaena could be dispatched rather quickly by spamming shurikens when one of the heads is at ground level, the remake's Amphisbeana has a slightly different method of attack.
    • Sakit in either version. As the boss of the second area, he is many times harder than Amphisbaena was, as he is immune to subweapons (projectiles) and is only vulnerable in the head, which requires a minor Colossus Climb (in a relatively short window of opportunity) up one of his arms to reach.
    • The remake's Ellmac has definitely Taken a Level In Badass, with more-damaging attacks and more HP.
  • Walk, Don't Swim: Swimming translates into walking around underwater with reduced gravity and movement speed, and the ability to make infinite mid-air jumps.
  • Warp Whistle: The grail. However, you must first locate the stone monument that identifies an area before you can teleport in. You also cannot teleport out from inside the Dimensional Corridor.
  • Water Level: The Spring in the Sky.
  • With This Herring: The lack of starting equipment is HandWaved in the manual by being confiscated by airport security.
  • Womb Level: The entire game, since the ruins are the body of the Mother, but especially theTrue Shrine of the Mother, and the Temple of Moonlight. The former is chock full of organic tentacle-things radiating from the boss room, and the latter... well, the latter is a literal womb, with walls covered in what looks like muscle tissue, with arms stretching out of it at times. It even has a mural depicting the entire female reproductive system.
  • Wutai: Dimensional corridor.
  • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: One gravestone calls you "Ye fool" instead of the proper "Thou fool".
  • You Fail Physics Forever: A pushable block will stay stable even when it's half off a platform. The kicker? You need to use this to solve a puzzle in the Endless Corridor.
  • You Fool!: Commonly found on glyphs, especially in the Confusion Gate which constantly questions whether the player is a "wise man" or "fool". Then there's a memorable one from a puzzle in the Endless Corridor:
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He who runs needlessly.
Thou art a fool.
Thou art a fool.
Thou art a fool.
Thou art a fool.

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  • You Have Researched Breathing:
    • Want to save the game in the original? You need to buy the ROM to do that for 10 coins. Want multiple save files? You'll need to find a better ROM later in the game (in the remake, you can save using the grail points).
    • Also in the original, every time you pick up a new sub-weapon (shuriken, flares, etc, with the pistol as the only exception), the ammunition to actually use them is not included. You have to acquire (or buy) it separately (again, the remake averts this by giving you some ammo for the sub-weapons when you obtain them).