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La-Mulana is really hard and fun. (56k no u)

harvestharvest By birthright,a stupendous badass.Registered User regular
edited August 2007 in Games and Technology
This game is freeware and runs on Windows.

DeceasedCrab's video walkthroughs

I've spent the last four days playing La-Mulana and I'm probably half way done with it. The game was released in 2005 but it looks like it was made in about 1988. The game plays similar to classics like Metroid, Zelda, and Castlevania, but was made more as a tribute to the MSX game Maze of Galious. Since hardly anyone outside Japan has ever heard of, let alone played with an MSX, the tribute is lost on most people, but the excellence of the game stands on its own.

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The title screen.

Our hero in this story is that of Dr. Lemeza, an archaeologist slash ninja. His grandfather, greatly renowned in the archaeological community (and the descendant of ninjas), has gone missing. Lemeza receives a letter wherein the old man claims to have discovered the ancient civilization of La-Mulana, the fount from which all human civilizations are supposed to have sprung. At once excited and skeptical, Lemeza sets out to confirm one way or another whether his grandfather's claim is true.

la-mulana_23052007_211717.jpg
Lemeza sets out for La-Mulana

Arriving in the small village on the outskirts of the La-Mulana ruins with only his whip and MSX laptop, Lemeza is about to discover some of the greatest secrets in the history of the world. The jungle is dangerous, and worse, the ruins are full of monsters and traps.

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The starting village.

Xelpud, the chief of the village doesn't think much of your chances, but is willing to humor you. As the story progresses you discover that he is both batshit insane and cryptically helpful, depending on his mood. Occasionally he can provide some hints on what you can do next, but don't bet on it. He's more likely to rant or wax nostalgic about the heyday of the MSX.

la-mulana_23052007_211741.jpg
Chief Xelpud.

So, why the hell do you care about all this? Quite simply, the game is one of the best adventure platformers ever produced. It is also one of the hardest. You breezed through the Dracula's Castle, killed Gannon(dorf) half a dozen times, and wiped out the Space Pirates without breaking a sweat, right? La-Mulana is about to make you its bitch.

At the very start of the game all you can do is walk, jump, and whip. As you progress you collect treasures and artifacts that increase you mobility and fighting strength, and gadgets that provide a wide array of abilities. But mostly what you do is die. Often. You know those harpy eagles in Castlevania and Ninja Gaiden? The ones that knock you off a cliff into a bottomless chasm? Well, you'll see them and worse, but you'll be happy to know there are no bottomless pits in this game.

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Your first steps into the ruins.

So how do you progress? Generally, your exploration of the ruins is hindered by lethal traps and blocked passages. As you navigate around the ruins you're bound to encounter little pedestals that you can activate with stone weights that you find scattered around. Pedestals are connected either mechanically or magically to mechanisms in the ruins, and activating them can be both beneficial and deadly, so you must proceed with caution. Pedestals surrounded by skeletons, or resting below a spiked ceiling should be carefully considered before activation. All sorts of things happen when you weight a pedestal. Treasure chests open, walls appear or disappear, monsters pop out, the ceiling falls on you, ladders extend or doors unlock.


la-mulana_23052007_211855.jpg
Activating this pedestal opened the passage going into the screen below.

The story of the game is revealed mostly by reading the graven monuments in the ruins, and is similar to scanning important things in Metroid Prime. These ruins are ancient though, and not all of the stone tablets are in readable condition. Not only that, but they're written in an ancient language that you can't read! So what you do is get out your Hand Scanner and Glyph Reader software and let your MSX translate the tablets for you. Soon you discover that these ruins housed, among other things, an ancient race of space-faring giants, a hydroelectric power plant, and a never-ending maze.

la-mulana_23052007_211803.jpg
The Hand Scanner is one of the first items you need to buy.

Besides stone tablets, you can also learn a lot from scanning the bones of dead adventurers scattered around the ruins. Many of them just lament their sad state, but they also often give you hints on what to do to avoid the fate of the people who have come before you. Some skeletons also hold MSX cartridges or floppies, many of which are useful in your laptop. The really are brutally effective at killing intruders, and the presence of these unfortunate skeletons reminds you to be wary at all times, lest you share their fate.

la-mulana_23052007_212709.jpg
There are dead guys all over the place.

While exploring the ruins, be on the lookout for anything that looks out of place or irregular. Lemeza is an archaeologist after all, and examining antiquities in minute detail is one of his passions. For some reason, there are MSX roms scattered all around La-Mulana, but many will only be discovered by the most eagle-eyed players. An off-color pixel jammed in between two floor plates, or an irregular hole in the background can conceal MSX disks or carts. Many of them are useless, but through experimentation you can find some great uses for some of them.

la-mulana_23052007_212717.jpg
The MSX roms I've found so far.

If you persist after getting killed a dozen times in the first few screens of the game, eventually you'll come across a way to summon boss monsters. There are (I think) at least 8 bosses in this game, and they're usually tough. Unlike other games however, you are free to go after them in pretty much any order you want to, although sometimes killing them does open up new avenues for exploration (and dying). Just because you revealed a boss location is no guarantee that you'll actually be able to defeat it with your current equipment.

la-mulana_23052007_212522.jpg
I'm pretty sure this door opened after killing this area's boss.

This game is damn fun. I've been stuck and lost and killed so often that I should be cursing and punching myself in the nuts. Instead, I keep trying to think up ways to progress, how to avoid traps, and what to do to solve the puzzles. I solved one hard one today, and since anyone who actually gets to this part isn't going to be able to memorize the solution from this picture, I'll show you what the block-pushing puzzles can be like:

endlesscorridorblockpuzzlesolution.jpg
A block puzzle in the Endless Corridor.



Download this game. It's as engaging as Metroid/Castlevania games and at least as hard as Ninja Gaiden games. The music is awesome, the environments are eye-catching and varied. There are like 80 enemies and 80 treasures to get. I'll help out if I can if you guys are stuck in some of the beginning areas, but I highly recommend DeceasedCrab's video walkthroughs. He is sort of just running the game by the seat of his pants sometimes but his is the only English-language walkthrough of any kind I know of.





Some more screenshots:

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Oh god the burning!

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A cold place.

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Temple of the Sun.

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These things are awesome.

la-mulana_23052007_212715.jpg
My inventory after about 25 hours playing the game.

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harvest on
«1

Posts

  • SonosSonos Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    eyes in pain

    Sonos on
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    PokeCode: 3952 3495 1748
  • harvestharvest By birthright, a stupendous badass.Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    If games that looks old and crusty were always bad, the Dwarf Fortress thread wouldn't be 70 pages long. This one spent 5 years in development to look this bad!

    harvest on
    B6yM5w2.gif
  • apotheosapotheos Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited May 2007
    "At the request of Gabe there will be ZERO discussion of emulators or ROMs at all except for commercial sites backed by the game publishers."

    Or did you ask for permission and I failed to get a copy of the memo?

    apotheos on


    猿も木から落ちる
  • MonoxideMonoxide Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited May 2007
    This actually isn't a rom dude

    Monoxide on
  • apotheosapotheos Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited May 2007
    Well what you needed to wait for me to unlock it why and how?

    (i thought it was so I was wrong shoot me)

    apotheos on


    猿も木から落ちる
  • JetBlackCenterJetBlackCenter Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Man, if i wasn't on a Mac I'd totally hit this up.

    JetBlackCenter on
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    BRAWL CODE: 3866-7685-8500
  • Shooter McgavinShooter Mcgavin Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    This is intriguing. I shall consider playing it.

    Shooter Mcgavin on
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  • LorkLork Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    I actually kind of liked this when the first thread bought it to my attention. The problem is that it's so huge, convoluted and confusing that I think it would be best tackled as a group effort, and then the thread died... Yeah.

    Lork on
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  • yalborapyalborap Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Man, if i wasn't on a Mac I'd totally hit this up.

    Virtual machines, sir.

    VIRTUAL MACHINES.

    I've got one running right now for stuff like this(low-requirement freeware that's Windows-only).

    yalborap on
  • JetBlackCenterJetBlackCenter Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    yalborap wrote: »
    Man, if i wasn't on a Mac I'd totally hit this up.

    Virtual machines, sir.

    VIRTUAL MACHINES.

    I've got one running right now for stuff like this(low-requirement freeware that's Windows-only).

    I just got this mac yesterday for schoolin', so I don't know the low down on all teh cool programs. Virtual Machines?

    JetBlackCenter on
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    BRAWL CODE: 3866-7685-8500
  • randombattlerandombattle Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Everyone fails for not comparing this to Cave Story.


    Just a whole lot harder then Cave Story.

    randombattle on
    itsstupidbutidontcare2.gif
    I never asked for this!
  • yalborapyalborap Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    yalborap wrote: »
    Man, if i wasn't on a Mac I'd totally hit this up.

    Virtual machines, sir.

    VIRTUAL MACHINES.

    I've got one running right now for stuff like this(low-requirement freeware that's Windows-only).

    I just got this mac yesterday for schoolin', so I don't know the low down on all teh cool programs. Virtual Machines?

    Essentially an emulator of a computer. A very good solution, and the one I use, is VMWare Fusion. It's a free beta, and very handy. You download it, set up an individual virtual machine, install windows on it, and you can run windows in a little window on your mac. The performance is rarely great on these things, but they'll run most freeware and plenty of 2D titles just fine, which is excellent for these purposes.

    yalborap on
  • JetBlackCenterJetBlackCenter Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    yalborap wrote: »
    yalborap wrote: »
    Man, if i wasn't on a Mac I'd totally hit this up.

    Virtual machines, sir.

    VIRTUAL MACHINES.

    I've got one running right now for stuff like this(low-requirement freeware that's Windows-only).

    I just got this mac yesterday for schoolin', so I don't know the low down on all teh cool programs. Virtual Machines?

    Essentially an emulator of a computer. A very good solution, and the one I use, is VMWare Fusion. It's a free beta, and very handy. You download it, set up an individual virtual machine, install windows on it, and you can run windows in a little window on your mac. The performance is rarely great on these things, but they'll run most freeware and plenty of 2D titles just fine, which is excellent for these purposes.

    I'll need to check it out.

    JetBlackCenter on
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    BRAWL CODE: 3866-7685-8500
  • brynstarbrynstar Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Nice OP! Definitely going to check this out. This has a Montezuma's Revenge meets "gameplay depth" vibe to it that I'm really digging.

    All the MSX stuff looks like a nice touch too. The only MSX games I've played before are the Metal Gear games on the PS2 Substance disc. I wish it had been a factor in the US, the more I read about it.

    brynstar on
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    PSN ID : Xander51 Steam ID : Xander51
  • FremFrem Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Just a whole lot harder then Cave Story.
    That, sir, is an understatement. I totally beat Cave Story in like a few hours. This, no. I had a really hard time even getting to the ruins. It just feels so slow and unresponsive. And you jump so low! And your range is pitiful!

    Also, Cave Story looks pretty. This, not so much.

    Frem on
  • harvestharvest By birthright, a stupendous badass.Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Frem wrote: »
    Just a whole lot harder then Cave Story.
    That, sir, is an understatement. I totally beat Cave Story in like a few hours. This, no. I had a really hard time even getting to the ruins. It just feels so slow and unresponsive. And you jump so low! And your range is pitiful!

    Also, Cave Story looks pretty. This, not so much.

    The controls are a bit ... cranky, yes. Your guy is so small that jumping 1/4 the height of the screen doesn't have the same feel as when Mario makes the same jump. BUT! You can get a double-jump item. And better weapons that have better range and/or different attack strokes.

    harvest on
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  • LorkLork Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    By group effort I mean we'd all start at around the same time, explore, post notes about the things we find, discuss the riddles and basically collaborate. I find that kind of thing much more enjoyable than using a walkthrough, which I guarantee will be required otherwise.

    For example, the very first thing that you should do: (spoilered for the stubborn)
    Go left one screen, destroy the vase and take the money. Go to the tent that is on this screen and buy the "Game Master" cartridge, which will allow you to save. Select the cartridge on the MSX screen and enter the Elder's house (on the screen you start in) to save. Saving and reloading is also the only reasonable way to heal in the beginning.

    Lork on
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  • LorkLork Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    harvest wrote: »
    Frem wrote: »
    Just a whole lot harder then Cave Story.
    That, sir, is an understatement. I totally beat Cave Story in like a few hours. This, no. I had a really hard time even getting to the ruins. It just feels so slow and unresponsive. And you jump so low! And your range is pitiful!

    Also, Cave Story looks pretty. This, not so much.

    The controls are a bit ... cranky, yes. Your guy is so small that jumping 1/4 the height of the screen doesn't have the same feel as when Mario makes the same jump. BUT! You can get a double-jump item. And better weapons that have better range and/or different attack strokes.
    The controls aren't unresponsive so much as they're annoyingly realistic - you can't jump laterally any appreciable distance without a running start. You get used to it after a while.

    Also, other than the fact that they are both 2d sidescrollers, this has nothing in common with Cave Story. It's like comparing Metroid to Contra.

    Lork on
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  • brynstarbrynstar Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    I just watched the first of those video walkthroughs linked in the OP. It was pretty well done, and funny, and it sold me on trying the game out, even though I was going to anyway.

    brynstar on
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    PSN ID : Xander51 Steam ID : Xander51
  • harvestharvest By birthright, a stupendous badass.Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    I'm pretty well stuck, so I'm going around taking screenshots of the partial stone tablets to try and piece together some of this stuff. Navigating around the world has become more fun now that I have a good selection of weapons to choose from and don't have to dodge or run away from everything. Feels good to be on the offensive for once.

    harvest on
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  • Marty81Marty81 Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Definitely gonna check this out.

    Marty81 on
  • BaronVonSnakPakBaronVonSnakPak Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    25 hours in and youre on the offense for once?

    yikes.

    BaronVonSnakPak on
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  • ReynoldsReynolds Gone Fishin'Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    How can I make it run in a window? There's a listing in the manual about hitting F7 to adjust this, but hitting the button causes nothing to happen. I must be missing something...

    Reynolds on
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  • harvestharvest By birthright, a stupendous badass.Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Reynolds wrote: »
    How can I make it run in a window? There's a listing in the manual about hitting F7 to adjust this, but hitting the button causes nothing to happen. I must be missing something...
    Uh, I don't exactly remember. I do remember hitting F6 and F7 and Alt+Enter but I'm not sure what actually made it work.

    You could try using my .ini and see if that helps

    http://harvest.images.googlepages.com/lamulana.ini

    harvest on
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  • PkErthbndPkErthbnd Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    So, the whole time I was trying to read that, I was thinking "This fellow has the same avatar as me. How...queer." Game looks good though. If I wasn't about to be in 12-14 hour-a-day rehearsals for the next 3 weeks, I'd give it a go. Perhaps afterwards.

    PkErthbnd on
  • harvestharvest By birthright, a stupendous badass.Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Impostor!

    harvest on
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  • ReynoldsReynolds Gone Fishin'Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    That works, thanks. The game is interesting, but I'm literally wiping out every enemy and pot and getting one coin. Sheesh.

    Reynolds on
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  • Panda4YouPanda4You Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Do this have a story, anywhere near Cave Story, in depth?

    Panda4You on
  • harvestharvest By birthright, a stupendous badass.Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Panda4You wrote: »
    Do this have a story, anywhere near Cave Story, in depth?

    I'd say yes, it does have a deep story. However, it's not presented to you in dialog like in Cave Story, it's entirely up to you to read and interpret the stone tablets all over the place. Some of the story is explicit and obvious when you read it, but some of it is symbolic and takes a little thinking and detective work to figure out.

    harvest on
    B6yM5w2.gif
  • DavoidDavoid Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    whee, this is alot of fun. Just got the grail, running around the tombs looking for stuff

    gonna try and buy that translator thingy

    but ugh, this deceasedcrab guy is the most obnoxious person I've ever listened to. No humour and no presentation skills.

    Davoid on
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  • harvestharvest By birthright, a stupendous badass.Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    I found out something important that isn't listed in the manual or explained in the game. I'll keep it obscure enough to not spoil anything.

    When you want to use the lamp that you can buy, you just push Enter on the keyboard to activate it. You probably can't finish the game without knowing this.

    harvest on
    B6yM5w2.gif
  • DavoidDavoid Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    I've recommended this game to alot of people

    I just beat the Giant boss, so I still have a tons of ways to go. Not exactly doing it in sequence though, explore alot of the Sun Temple and Twin Temple.

    Davoid on
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  • RohanRohan Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    It looks very similar to Rick Dangerous, that good old C64 game. That was pure awesome puzzley/platforming fun.

    rick_dangerous_02.gif

    rick_dangerous_05.gif

    Rohan on
    ...and I thought of how all those people died, and what a good death that is. That nobody can blame you for it, because everyone else died along with you, and it is the fault of none, save those who did the killing.

    Nothing's forgotten, nothing is ever forgotten
  • harvestharvest By birthright, a stupendous badass.Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Davoid wrote: »
    I've recommended this game to alot of people

    I just beat the Giant boss, so I still have a tons of ways to go. Not exactly doing it in sequence though, explore alot of the Sun Temple and Twin Temple.

    Well as far as I can see there's no specific sequence you have to do. Well maybe there is, but it's mostly dependent on the items and abilities you have. I've spent a lot of time in what I think is the final area but I still have three bosses (at least) to kill.

    harvest on
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  • randombattlerandombattle Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    harvest wrote: »
    Panda4You wrote: »
    Do this have a story, anywhere near Cave Story, in depth?

    I'd say yes, it does have a deep story. However, it's not presented to you in dialog like in Cave Story, it's entirely up to you to read and interpret the stone tablets all over the place. Some of the story is explicit and obvious when you read it, but some of it is symbolic and takes a little thinking and detective work to figure out.

    Sounds like metroid prime.

    randombattle on
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    I never asked for this!
  • harvestharvest By birthright, a stupendous badass.Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Exactly like that, but with more vague-ness.

    harvest on
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  • DavoidDavoid Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Augh, the Twin Labyrinth is kicking my ass.

    Davoid on
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  • harvestharvest By birthright, a stupendous badass.Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    It was a serious pain in the ass. I skipped most of it until I finished what I could of the Endless Corridor.

    harvest on
    B6yM5w2.gif
  • tendoboy101tendoboy101 Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    So I try to download this from the agtp site, and after running it the text is all Japanese. So I go back, and every time I try to download the patch it finishes and winrar says it is corrupt. Any other mirrors out there?

    tendoboy101 on
  • FremFrem Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    I am a nice person who mirrors things. link

    Frem on
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