A action-adventure RPG on the Sega Genesis, in the same vein as The Legend of Zelda, from Climax Entertainment (which co-developed Shining in the Darkness and the first Shining Force with Camelot Software Planning). Released in the US during 1993 ('92 in Japan) and although it wasn't what anyone would call a smashing success, it is fondly remembered and gained a decent sized cult following.
The basis of the story rounds out like this: you are Nigel, a masterful treasure hunting (some would say, 'thief') elf who is given information about a great treasure buried under an island from a fairy - who although, doesn't necessarily know where they are on the island knows that they have to be there, and a after a little convincing - the two buddy up and begin the quest. Refreshingly ...the story doesn't have anything to do saving the world; it stays on track entirely about finding the treasure first and foremost. Though accusations are hurled at The Rival that he wants the treasure to finance a war.
During said quest, you'll come across all manner of classic fantasy creatures...ranging from winged demons, talking...bears?, more fairies, not-so-evil-Wizards, skeletons, orcs, etc. The big difference for the time was the perspective; Landstalker plays out entirely in an isometric view (think of the basic viewpoint for most Tactical RPG's and you'll get the idea). The novelty of it is that it makes the core aspect of puzzle solving rather difficult at various times since you can't alter the angle at which you see the world. This would also make for some extremely punishing platforming...as Nigel doesn't leave a shadow (landing jumps at later sequences becomes mostly trial and error). As noted, the biggest chunk of this game is in a myriad of puzzles to solve in the dungeons, ranging from laughably easy to mind-breakingly difficult; the smoothness of control however still made gameplay quite fun. Oh, and the music isn't something to overlook either - this game had plenty of addicting songs.
The biggest draw of the story is a subtle atmosphere of goofiness. Nigel's more than a bit of a Chick Magnet - hamster girls, six-inch tall fairies and bitchy princesses just can't resist him. At one point Nigel's youthful looks cause him to be ejected from a building full of beautiful women despite being Really Seven Hundred Years Old - he then goes to a gypsy witch for a little Voluntary Shapeshifting, resulting in the appropriate appearance to enter. He gets a few Armor Piercing Slaps from his companion for his trouble - only to find out that the building is actually a ballet studio. Actually, in the Japanese version, the building in question is a brothel...
Alas, it was scheduled for a remake on the Playstation Portable, but was canceled for reasons unknown. It has at least two direct spiritual successors - Dark Savior (from Climax - for the Saturn), and Alundra (not in isometric view anymore, making it more Zelda-esque - but felt very much like it, from Matrix Software for the PSone, a company comprised of members formerly from Climax) and one Distaff Counterpart in Lady Stalker for its rival. Nigel and Friday were also featured as playable characters in the Sega Dreamcast game; Time Stalkers - alongside a smattering of other Climax characters. It also now available to download on the Wii's Virtual Console.
Tropes appearing in Landstalker:
- American Kirby Is Hardcore: Japanese Nigel is a dashing Slayers-esqe figure. American Nigel is a Frazetta Man. Not as cool as it sounds, given that Nigel still has clothes.
- Broken Bridge: Played Straight, Right after the first town
- Cranium Ride for fun and profit. Needed to solve some of the many many MANY puzzles.
- Day of the Week Name: Friday the Fairy, natch
- Dummied Out: American version -blocked- a bath scene by putting an immovable maid in front of the door - however viewing it now is easy with the magic of cheats. or youtube.
- Exposition Fairy: Friday.
- Fairy Companion: Getting redundant?
- Fetch Quest: Though not so many as you'd think.
- Girl Friday: Quite literally.
- Goldfish Poop Gang: Kayla and her two goons...they get into progressively crappier situations for their trouble.
- Guide Dang It: Happens a lot throughout the game, but a particularly jarring example occurs when trying to get into the second dungeon. The item you need to access it is found in a totally nondescript house and blends in perfectly among all the background objects. You're given a vague hint as to what it is from one of the people standing outside the dungeon, but it's still easily missed.
- The worst one is in the fourth town. There is exactly one vague hint on how you are to progress through the game: a lady in the church who praises Duke Mercator for "walking through town and personally speaking to each and every one of us."
- Heroes Prefer Swords: Nigel uses only swords, nothing else - you get a handful of them throughout the game; each one better than the last.
- Interchangeable Antimatter Keys although only for the dungeon you're in. Seem familiar?
- Isometric Projection: One of the big features that set this game apart from other action-adventure games of the time. ...however, the lack of shadows made this problematic for jumping sequences. Not to mention the rather, shall we say, rudimentary control system; the Genesis controller had no diagonal inputs, so to move northwest, the player has to hit both "left" and "up". This is particularly annoying on emulators if you play on keyboard.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Friday. Also Nigel.
- Kleptomaniac Hero: Slightly averted. Your inventory is only so large.
- Noun Verber: The name of the game!
- Our Elves Are Better: Nigel the Landstalker himself (although amidst all the other crazy characters roaming about, he's never really singled out). Other elves are pretty sparse in game.
- Spared by the Adaptation: A number of things were changed when the game was translated. Most if it was stuff too racy for the American Censorship Bureau: all the sexy goodies in the optional Mercator variety shop became oddities, a Bathtub Scene was blocked off(but not deleted). Nigel might be happier in the American version despite this - in the Japanese, all of King Nole's treasure is lost down a Bottomless Pit when the Guardian is defeated. In the American, he gets all the treasure, and the Gold counter even spins up to quintuple digits to show this!
- Stock Video Game Puzzle: Many. A hefty amount of which are Nintendo Hard.
- Temple of Doom: Quite a few actually. Complete with requisite crushing boulders to the point where they are obviously used for puzzles.
- Use Item not that the game gives you hints to do so at the time.
- Walk It Off: Healing Boots!
- What Could Have Been: The remake for PSP ...featuring a fully rotatable camera in a perfect 3D reconstruction of the original game...that was summarily canceled.