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Miracle Warriors: Seal of the Dark Lord (Sega Master System) artwork

Miracle Warriors: Seal of the Dark Lord (Sega Master System) review


"I remember the first time I played Final Fantasy 2 (AKA FF4 in Japan) from start to finish. It was quite nice. One day I thought about playing the whole game again. But then, when I pressed 'Start', before I got control of Cecil & Kain (the heroes), I had to watch a several-minute-long intro. The Intro was interesting the first time, but not this time. I wanted to kill monsters ASAP, not see again the boring reasons that made Cecil start doubting his role as an army commander. "



I remember the first time I played Final Fantasy 2 (AKA FF4 in Japan) from start to finish. It was quite nice. One day I thought about playing the whole game again. But then, when I pressed 'Start', before I got control of Cecil & Kain (the heroes), I had to watch a several-minute-long intro. The Intro was interesting the first time, but not this time. I wanted to kill monsters ASAP, not see again the boring reasons that made Cecil start doubting his role as an army commander.

Thanks to that intro, I never got the urge to finish FF2 a second time. Miracle Warriors, on the other hand, has been cleared by me at least 4 times. It is definitely the console RPG I played the most, possible exception being Buck Rogers on the Genesis.

When I talk about 'Miracle Warriors', the first thing that comes to mind is that it has no boring Intro. It actually has one, where the King tells you to go kill the Dark Lord (quite the storyline, eh?), but this Intro is 100% SKIPPABLE! If I know what the King has to say, I can skip it! Press start, kill monsters! What Square RPG gives me this bliss?! Certainly not FF2, FF3, FF5, Chrono Trigger or Secret of Mana! (Never played non-SNES Square RPGs, cannot comment on them)

But, seriously, I always struggled as to why I like this RPG that, in all modern standards, is a piece of crap. It is for SMS, has 8-bit graphics, low character interaction & customization, a simplistic battle system, can be finished in under 5 hours, will force you to grind for levels, and is utterly n00b unfriendly. How unfriendly? Well, you start a bit far from the 1st town, where a healer is. You start without weapons, armour, or cash. In this naked state, your 1st enemy encounter is likely to either get you killed or, if you win, without a cash reward high enough to pay the healer.

A debate rages on about whether RPG players today like their RPG in a 'too easy' kind of way, the one that makes elder players like me sad. RPG player from this day and age: if you are scared of dying, stay away from this one. It gets easy once you get to level 40, but until then the Zorgamoira monster will make you wet your trousers.

Battle in 'Miracle Warriors' is of the simplistic kind. You face 1 monster at time, your party members attack only 1 at a time, and the commands you'll use 90% of the time are 'attack' and 'retreat'. This is pretty much the most common activity you will do in this game, and coupling this with the amusing and complex mission the king gave you (the only 'plot twist' of note), you can see why I said this game was, by today's standards, a piece of crap.

Still... I can't help but play this game AGAIN! What's alluring me so?!

I'll tell ya.

I think the intro bit back there sums up why I LOVE this game. It is just so... non-nonsense straightforward RPG heroes-PWN-monsters gaming! No stupid plot twist, no angst to content with, just some ROCKING to do!

For starters, the game-world of 'Miracle Warriors' is a work of beauty, and it presents itself for the 1988 gamer in its glorious fold-out map that comes with the game, something 2008 gamers will probably never see but in its 'decaying old paper' format. The map shows the entire world of the game, the 'Five Lands', in its full square-shaped-grid glory. Seriously, the artist who drew a map that resembled the game's square-shaped grid perfectly must be a very dedicated man!

What's more, the 'Five Lands' are, right off Level 1, all awaiting your exploration! Sure, they might not be so big a game-world, but being able to explore it almost-fully from the start is more interesting than what I call 'Square method': “make just a part of the world explorable in the beginning and inexplicably make the monsters from the second area stronger than those of the first area; and do not allow access to area 2 until some stupid plot twist happens and some of the character's angst is explored”.

You can choose what fight you wanna fight from the start. Starting out? Roam the plains, 'where thou dost belong'! Feelin' lucky? Go into the forests or mountains and pick on someone your size! The bestiary of 'Miracle Warriors' is varied and fun. From the 'Weasly Wimp' to the 'Ybe', passing through the 'Inutas' and 'Rohay', you'll meet all sorts of critters that show the artists at Kogado were cool and potentially drugged individuals! Individuals who, courageously for the 8-bit era, resorted very rarely to palette swapping!

There is for me a specially rewarding thing about having the whole bestiary ready to be fought at Level 1. Due to the fact that humans are naturally curious beings, certainly you'll wander away from the safety of the plains to the dark forests or mountains. In these lands lie beasts that will kill you in 1 strike, but not before you gaze at them. After dying a few times from these beasts in the low levels, the first murder you inflict on these monsters when you reach Level 12 will be oh SO sweeter due to that. The first time I killed a 'Vome' in this game was more thrilling than finishing off quite a few end bosses.

But that's not all! For once in the history of RPG gaming, NOT everyone in the overworld is trying to kill you! Sometimes you'll meet people like merchants, evil merchants, black monks and white monks. These people will... are you ready for this? ... TALK to you if you give them a chance! And another surprise... ready? ... sometimes their blabberings will be USEFUL! One of the best puzzles I ever encountered in RPG history (no kidding!) requires clues from thse people. But of course, what if you don't want to give them a chance to talk? Why, then KILL THEM AND STEAL THEIR MONEY! Other travellers will start fearing you, but what the hey?!

All of this monster killing will be done amongst the prettiest, although not the best-animated, graphics the SMS ever mustered. Yes, prettier than 'Phantasy Star' (though,again, not as well animated). That's not really much of a compliment, you say? Fine! Then the music is! The music in this game is truly... how to say it... EPIC! Go to Youtube and track down the Video of the whole game soundtrack being played. Or better yet, search for the one where a amateur rocker soloed on his guitar the game's main theme. Then look for the comments below, like those of people saying “man, I wanted to see this ever since I was a child!”. The soundtrack's only flaw I that it is in the SMS. The compositions of the game deserved better, they really rock.

And then there's extra rockin' to be done by the heroes' cast. No, it is not the most articulate cast ever. However, the 'Hero joins the group' process is truly inspired. It consists of three steps:

1 – Locate the 'Miracle Warrior' nearest your present location.
2- Show him one of the awesomely named weapons of legend, like the Axe of Iris, the Armor of Chronos, or the Shield of Kimaira.
3- Shout: AWAKEN GIANT!

“AWAKEN GIANT”. To me, this sums up the allure of Miracle Warriors.

You see, these days RPG heroes have been far too tragic-bound in my opinion. They may save the earth one day, but until then they'll see their wife & family get dead, their new girlfriends of a lost race murdered, their home towns burnt, and every time they rest at an Inn in a scripted point they'll awake in the night doubting their ability to save the land.

Miracle Warriors do not doubt they mad skillz. From birth, they knew their destiny: to ROCK.

That's why I love this game so much. I absolutely cannot think of an instance in where the Miracle Warriors are not totally kickin' monstrous arse and making that evil Dark Lord get a shiver. She knows (yep, the 'Dark Lord' is a 'she', and is not called 'Dark Lady') that some GIANTS have AWAKENED. They need no fire, ice or bolt spell cuz' they have SACRED NUTS to battle their enemies with (believe it or not, SACRED NUTS are among the magical items to be collected for use in battles), and are not afraid to use them until their 5 hour (less for veterans) game is cleared.

~//~

... still don't want to give this 'piece of crap' a spin? The SACRED NUTS weren't convincing enough?!

Ok, my last resort:

The last boss, the one know as 'Dark Lord' (a female, as stated early), is a gal with huge mammaries.
And she fights naked.

Rating: 8/10

zanzard's avatar
Community review by zanzard (January 12, 2008)

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