Part 5: Burning Ring of Fire
Scroll to the end of this post for an important announcement!
Chapter 5: Burning Ring of Fire
The plot so far, in Dragon View:
Alex, the svelte slingblade-wielder and disciple of the Isle of Keire's underground, underage, unlicensed fighter ring swore every despicable oath against the snidely wizard Argos after said despot kat-napped Katarina, ordinary girl of Rysis, because of wizard-reasons. Strapped in protective tinfoil and equipped with a trusty machete, Alex rushed to give chase to the village of Kazdra, where rumors of evil deeds gather in the streets to play games only a hoodlum would love.
Alex learned of the many goings on of the island, and where he may find the vile knave who absconded with his pretty princess. He learned that a powerful flame would be required to enter Keire temple, where foul deeds were afoot. Alex then visited a legendary warrior-hobo named Rodister, who told him that his own Master Qunos possessed the tools he would need to enter the fire cave and retrieve the ring within. After a short trip back home, Alex armed himself with the Serpent Scales.
He now stands at the entrance to the valley of fire.
Here's the valley entrance. On your way to Kazdra for the first time, you may have taken the more southerly path and ended up here. The landscape transitions into the hellish colors and the music changes to a more intense and hot beat.
And the cave itself, the valley's only feature. Reminds me of The Valley of Snakes in Diablo 2.
Now we're talking. This is a freaking dungeon!
The price of admission is one of your scales. Equip the scales to the A button and then use. A blue glistening shard will emerge from his form and destroy the blistering barrier, allowing you entrance to the cave. Touching the fire counts as an enemy attack, which means if you wander in here at a low level, you may be burned away outright.
Not content to simply put walls of fire in your way, the cavekeepers allow pits of fire to run along the ground and cut into the floor in places. Alex must deftly leap to avoid these hazards.
A few rooms in, and no monsters in sight. Perhaps they all burned up or scuttled off?
In addition to the fire pits at the top and bottom of this hallway, small fireballs launch themselves from back to front. They're pretty easy to avoid, but the platforming around this place is getting more convoluted by the room.
A glory shot of the fire bugs. We've finally found the monsters in the dungeon!
The boomerax can only hit these guys when they leap from the ground like the one pictured, and that doesn't happen often enough to be able to kill them reliably. The sword makes short work of these ankle biters, though. They burrow, they leap, they breath fire. You can even stand on top of them if you like.
The best way to take them out is to bait out their flamethrower and then step up or down to avoid it, and step back and strike while they cool down. Altogether not a threatening enemy, even in numbers.
For this panel, they try to spice it up by putting flame jet traps in the floor. Those still don't pop up frequently enough to really be a threat either. You just have so much mobility and room to work with, and by this point you may take seven or more hits before collapsing. No, no single room is the threat of this place.
This is what a Serpent Scale looks like in flight, right before it hits the fiery barrier.
We get a new enemy type! The fire elemental can scoot along the ground as a small burbling mass, and then emerge in this form, elbows back and spoiling for a fight. They can spit fireballs at you from range or close in and touch you with their burning bodies.
This one appears with a fire bug helper, and neither really poses much of a threat. I will say that the fire elementals are more fun to fight than the bugs, as they have less of an ability (or perhaps disposition) to stall you.
This shows Alex's upward thrust, I'm guessing right after the fire elemental attempted a leaping move. Enemies flicker after taking damage, and I must have caught this snapshot during one of the invisible frames.
And another new enemy!
These cave men sport body hair, scars, arm and leg tape, and tricorn hats, making them easily the most civilized and sporting cave persons I've ever come across. They bounce back and forth, preparing to leap overhead, rabbit punch, or smack you with the folding chair. Fighting against these colonial brawlers is really fun; their moves and overall style is...dare I say it...impetuous.
This is a fire barrier just as it is dissapating. They really put these all over the place.
As if the jets of flame were any kind of obstacle at all, there's an mp star container surrounded by four of them in this room. Magic can be really useful, so we'll want to pick up as many of these as we can get our hands on.
You can also use the Serpent Scales as an attack. You're given plenty more than you need for puzzle solving, and the ability to get more if you run out, so it's no big deal to spend a few of them trying to nail an fire elemental in the face.
You may not find it as effective as your sword or boomerax, though.
Another room, another colonial brawler. This is an especially good action shot and shows you just how badass these guys are. He's going for the flying volcano cannon splash while Alex readies an upward slice to meet him.
You can see at this point I've taken a few hits and need to conserve. I don't want to pop a potion if I can avoid it (you're allowed to carry 3 and I possess two at this point). No single room is terribly threatening, but when you recognize that so much of this dungeon is sharp edges, flaming floors and flying elbow drops, and the fact that you have to backtrack a little in order to activate further inroads, its easy to simply get attrited to death by the cave itself. Excellent dungeon theory, but how does it blend?
Well well! Don't mind if I do. I'm feeling better about the attrition war already. With enemies going down in fewer hits, I'm more likely to find the precious heart pickups I need to refill without taking an incidental elbow or knee.
The monsters were kind enough to donate their bleeding hearts and I guess brains (you tell me how I get their experience) to our cause before we come across yet another barrier. This one dies down and then roars back to life if you hit it with a scale. So how to kill it for good and get to the door on the other side?
You...leap directly into it! There's an area around it that's discolored, indicating a pit. If you fall gingerly down it (or clumsily, like me here), you'll get to the base of the fire, where the scales will be as effective as usual. Clever variation on a theme if you ask me.
Of course, now that this fire's out we have to climb back up, fighting monsters along the way.
Sweet tricorn of justice! There's four of them!
I finish one off right as another gut-punches me across the room. Depending on how much esteem you have for these gentlecavepersons, you may find yourself coming in and out of the room to repeat the fight. It would do you well to gain a level or so off of them (give or take) before going into the next room.
A boss draws near! This capricious efreet wants to beat your tweet.
Beat that Efreet!
And we bring the bang. The Efreet, like Piercia, suffers from a hasty nature that makes him charge you a lot after you strike him. He's got plenty more moves, though, and is just as likely to breathe fireballs or summon spouts of flame as toss elbows at you. Judicious use of the z step will mean the difference between triumphant Alex and crispy critter.
You may want to keep your distance, but I favor the sword to the boomerax for this fight. Being able to snap-strike when the Efreet is in position proves more important, and like the archer's paradox, the Efreet gets more accurate the further away you go.
With the boss gone and the Fire Ring in hand, making it back out of the cave is trivial. We journey back to Kazdra and the way to the temple, but first...
This stump holds a power I desire.
Guh? Where did this inferno come from? What satanic interior decorator decided "on fire" was the in thing for stump dwellings this season?
And when will Bravo start airing his show back-to-back until even hardcore fans are disgusted?
"I will bestow power upon your Flame ring, so it will become far more powerful."
Oh it just had to be a damn wizard babbling crazy talk. Well okay, if it will make me powerful.
The flame wizard makes his red crystal bob around and then some sparklies swirl into Alex's fist. With the ritual complete and the Fire Ring raised to level 2 (before I even used it once no less), the wizard poofs.
Then we sally on back to Kazdra, where the gateway to temple Keire lies.
"Yes, perhaps you are right! The ancient Ring of Fire may melt the ice pillars! You may need this map, please take it and be careful."
"I believe in you, and the Ring of Fire. Take care, young man."
There are worse things to believe in. I'm still not sold on the ring miself, but neither have I used it at all, so we'll see.
"I will guide you in your travels. Listen closely to what I say. When you have the strength, seek out the Castle in the Snow Fields. You'll find it marked on you map."
He bows to you, graciously, "Seek me when you need direction. I will help, if I can."
I usually skip the blue line monk (oft green clad), but this time he puts a marker on your map that can get there no other way. And I like maps. Yeah yeah yeah.
The back room of the star house contains this...curious alchemy symbol on the floorboards. The screen fades to white, but where will Alex go?
We find out next time!
Announcement brought to you by My Name Is Kaz
Friday Night, when October 30th becomes the 31st.
My Name Is Kaz will break Dracula's Curse!
Starting at this time, I'll be streaming Castlevania 3 through my ustream show:
It was brought to my attention that some internet personality very recently gave C3 a scathing review, complaining that it was too hard.
Well I'm going to beat it and have a blast doing so, mostly for my own enjoyment.
I won't stop until Dracula is defeated. Indeed, perhaps even after that. I'd like to complete three endings using some passwords to cut down on repetition, but we'll see how exhausted I am.
I've spent some of the past week testing the stream and generally making things work with the help of NERF WAR CRIME and medibot. There'll be something of a party on my end of things with the same kind of commentary (read: occasional shrieking) that you may have heard from my Castlevania 2 videos.
Save the date...when the witching hour begins, Dracula ends.
Event to begin midnight GMT October 31, 8PM EST October 30
I'll have a henchman make announcements in the irc.