From The CRPG Addict
Date Ended: 20 October 2018
Ranking at Time of Posting: (to come later)
Legends II started without much of a plot–just four adventurers looking for trouble. There was a hint in the tavern that “they somehow snatched a great king from a parallel world,” but that was it. Throughout the game, I was curious how this plot point would resolve, and I’ll say this for the game: I absolutely did not see the ending coming.
|A button puzzle in one of the dungeons. Each one opened and closed different areas.|
You can save your progress outdoors at any time, but saving forces you to quit, and when you reload, you’re back at the top of the island in Grumble. At first, I thought this would be annoying, but it turned out to be rather convenient. I’d explore southward until I felt my health was too low, then save and return to Grumble for rest and training. Training was absurdly expensive–so much so that I never trained all the levels I had earned, and I never spent any of my money on potions (though I did find a lot of them).
|I’m not sure I had this much money in the whole game.|
The Phantasie-inspired dungeon exploration is really the best part of the game, and I enjoyed it to the end, constantly revealing new areas, solving light puzzles, and stumbling upon the rare NPC or special encounter. There aren’t as many of any of those things as in the typical Phantasie dungeon, but the dynamic is still fun. I also enjoyed the way the game offered a label or description to each corridor and room.
|I continued to enjoy the incremental dungeon exploration.|
The next dungeon was a treasure dungeon called Zem Outpost, and it was here that I got most of the item upgrades that lasted the rest of the game: a star longsword, a wizard’s staff (curiously not wieldable by the wizard but rather the cleric), magical robes, banded mail +3, a silver cape, and so forth.
|I think this was the best weapon I found in the game.|
Around this time, the outdoor map itself began to take on structure, with limited passages through mountains blocked by sentry points and gates. As we approached, a sign titled “Gorvil’s Keep” told us we were viewing the “ruins of an obviously ancient and once majestic fortress,” abandoned after peace fell upon the region, nor recently taken over.
|These title cards add a lot to the game’s backstory and lore.|
The keep was full of vampires and undead. The key special encounter was finding an NPC named Urgle, who said he was searching for his brother Clovus, who in turn had been trying to figure out who has taken over Gorvil Keep. He asked if he could come with us. I said yes and then never heard from him again.
|This combat feels like it should have been harder.|
Sentry points repeatedly invited us to “buzz off,” but we pressed forward. I should mention at this point that combat in the game–whether with guards, vampires, dragons, sabre-tooth cats, or whatever–is pretty easy, and only in the last dungeon did I ever feel in any real danger. My wizard’s spells went mostly unused because it was faster just to hold down the “1” key and plow through physical attacks each round.
|The party reaches the end of the islands.|
Adamantyr helped me with some information about the dungeon I missed, Fogeek’s Deli. A title card indicated that in its heyday, the restaurant was favored by monsters and humans a like. Inside its walls, Urgle would have met up with Clovus and escaped with him, but not before giving the party a set of disguises. Later, the party would have rescued a female NPC named Gina who would have later backstabbed one of the characters and fled after warning the party not to press forward.
|This was an interesting twist that I missed.|
The last dungeon, titled “Eagle’s Roost,” was at the far southern end of the island chain. The accompanying sign said it used to be a guest house for visiting “princes, kings, and other luminaries,” but was abandoned at the same time as the keep
There were four levels to Eagle’s Roost, and on the first three, I ran into automatons called “validators” who challenged me with the three words (which are of course from The Day the Earth Stood Still in case you’re still sputtering from my statement above). The countersigns were clued on a document that shipped with the game. I had downloaded it but forgotten about it by the time I reached this part of the game, so I could figure out anything that worked. Fortunately, I was able to just fight the validators. They were easily the hardest enemies in the game, capable of killing a character in one round if they concentrated their attacks and got lucky. I had to have both my ranger and cleric cast heal spells every round while my fighter and wizard did their best to whittle away the creatures’ 999 hit points. In the last combat, the validator did get lucky and killed my cleric. I finished the game toting her dead body.
|Gort has developer Donn Granros’s initials on his chest.|
When we left the dungeon, the endgame commenced. The party and their companion hopped into an unattended ship and sailed away from the islands. There were a series of text screens confirming that the “great king” we had rescued was, yes, the King of Rock and Roll–Elvis Presley himself. I suppose this text ought to be preserved. I stress that I am not making any of this up.
And so it came to pass that your part and Elvis, your newfound friend, set sail on yet another quest. A quest to find the interdimensional vortex that plucked him out of his world and plopped him down in yours. Knowing only that the vortex was located in the ocean not far from Femble Isle, the search is long, relying only on Elvis’s memories, dimmed by the time spent shackled in the depths of the palace.
Now just as everyone had given up hope, a shimmering haze is seen off the bow. Moving closer, your ship suddenly surges forward as it is drawn into the heart of the vortex.
Your world fades from view as another materializes. You tumble downward and everyone lands in a jumbled heap in the middle of a great black expanse.
Your party seems dazed and a bit confused, but Elvis exclaims, “Well, I’ll be an ole hound dog. A parkin’ lot! Look, there’s my pink Cadillac just a-sitting there.” Turning to your party, he says, “Much obliged, friends–and welcome to Vegas. Here, I am the king and I owe a real powerful debt to you guys.
Several crazy women carrying National Enquirers spot the King and scream, “Elvis! It’s really him! Ma god.” A crowd forms and carries the King away.
The party enjoyed several months in the city before they were bitten by wanderlust again; however, on Earth, “the market for persons of your unique talents is a bit limited.” Thus, my fighter took a job as Elvis’s bodyguard; my ranger disappeared in the Rockies; my wizard performs a nightly show at the Golden Nugget; and my cleric became a televangelist.
I gave the original Legends a 29 on the GIMLET, rating its encounters and foes and economy best at 4s, its NPCs worst at 1 (I considered the people you meet in the dungeons encounters, not NPCs), and everything else in the middle at a 2 or 3. Legends II doesn’t do so well. Even before the silly final minutes, the story isn’t as fleshed out, magic plays a less important role, and equipment upgrades are rarer. The gameplay is more linear, the challenge less intense, and the economy absolutely broken when you never earn enough for leveling. With these various incremental modifications, the rating for Legends II drops to a 21.
I’m curiously ambivalent about the ending. If Crusaders of the Dark Savant pulled this kind of nonsense, I’d go through the roof, but Legends II wasn’t exactly the sort of game that engages you with its story in the first place. I think I’d be pretty miffed if I were a 1980s TI-99 owner, though. The last screen ends with a dedication “to the TI and its users, long may we run,” which would be a nicer sentiment if the developer hadn’t just made a shaggy dog joke out of the last RPG the platform would see for the next 20 years.
Despite the sentiment, Asgard closed up shop the same year Legends II was released, and the platform saw only a handful more games of any genre before the modern “retro” revival. (For more on Asgard and the developers, see the end of my summary of Legends.) Unless I actually make it to the 2010s, this will be the last time we see a TI-99 screenshot. There were only four RPGs released for the machine, and I needed Adamantyr’s help to set up three of them, so I’m not sorry to see this one disappear.
Our plod to the end of 1989 continues but is about to be interrupted by an incredible mire of a game called Legends of the Lost Realm.