Fatal Labyrinth - Reader Retroview  

Truth in Advertising
by JuMeSyn

Click here for game information
Less than 20 Hours
+ Anything picked up can be thrown at enemies for damage!
- Random level layouts all look and play the same.
- Challenge is randomly determined by how often the computer wants you to hit or miss.
- No saving to make up for the game's shortness.
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   Some ancient/revived dragon is apparently taking up residence in a Demonic Tower, and this dragon's return to power seems to herald the doom of humanity. So one random idiot takes it upon himself to march up the 30-floor tower and destroy the dragon's evil. This guy has a name (Trykaar) that I will not use again because it was never actually said in the game, only in the manual. Also it reminds me simultaneously of Conan the Barbarian and a prescription drug. Anyway the fool is going to wander up all 30 floors of the Evil Tower, with the player undertaking the task of making sure the top is reached. That's it, the entire story save for (SPOILER ALERT!) the dragon getting mad at its plans being forstalled before it attempts to kill the idiot. Sorry about the spoiler, it just slipped out.

   Fatal Labyrinth plays out with the nincompoop wandering around each floor of the Tower of Doom fighting things in an overhead fashion, picking up randomly determined items, and finding the stairs to the next floor. There are two ways the imbecile can fight: either by marching up and thrusting his weapon at the enemy repeatedly until one party dies (hopefully the enemy) or by throwing things with player input. Yes, the dullard is incapable of being guided save in which cardinal direction the player may direct his weapon thrusts. The player picks a direction to move in, and either the nitwit moves in that direction or attacks an enemy. A text scroll near the bottom will then inform the player whether the attack missed (very common) or, if it hit, how much damage it did. Magic is used by throwing things at enemies with a magical effect. How does the player know whether something has a magical effect? By throwing it at an enemy and seeing the result of course! Picking up the same item later proves the lunkhead can remember things because he'll remember what the item did.

   Proving his idiocy, the spaz is unable to consistently connect with his weapons or consistently guard with his protective gear. Admittedly the dunderhead wandered into the Horrible Tower sans any gear save a knife, leaving the player to scrounge whatever random stuff appears on the floors. Every item appears in this way, randomly spawned on the floor awaiting some curious visitor's acquisition and usage. So despite being a lackwit the hero must be fairly lucky, to have so many armories be emptied in his presence. He is not so lucky as to be unable to aim precisely no matter the supposed differences between weapons (these do exist however) nor to consistently deal the same amount of damage or take the same amount of damage to the same opponent. Merely confirming his dunce status, the fool is somehow able to inflict 4 damage with one attack and 20 with the next while either parrying or being hit for 2-30 damage. Consistency will not be found in this random barrage of combat.

   The lumbering lummox proves unable to comprehend the simple logic of experience points that are granted by most RPGs, and thus this game throws a very simple process at the player. Kill enough enemies and the lamebrain changes class! Class change certainly increases HP and seems to increase other statistics, though since these are never shown I am merely making a supposition. Amongst all the weapons, gear, and usable items the chowderhead picks up can be found gold and food. Gold is the pinnacle of uselessness in Fatal Labyrinth: all it serves to do is grant the incompetent one a better tombstone upon death because there is nothing to buy in the game! Food serves a vital purpose, for this is a unique ingredient to the game: the paint sniffer gets hungry and his HP will decrease steadily if unfed. There is a gauge to monitor the feeding status of the moron for the player's convenience, but a lesson to be learned by the player: this glutton's ability to consume too much can make him slow down enormously until the food works its way through his system. Though the risk is minimal with an intelligent player at the controls, the brain-damaged is capable of eating himself to death.

   I must give a bit of credit where it is due: even though Fatal Labyrinth was released in 1991 the halfwit does look different when holding different weapon types and armor. That is the only praise I will offer to the visuals, which otherwise do not reflect what the Genesis was capable of even at this relatively early date in its existence. The color schemes of the floors change twice on the way up but always look the same aside from the colors, and in a game of this length to use palette-swaps is heinous. Sound effects are annoying and inconsequential; music tracks can be counted with the fingers and are, while not terrible, very repetitive and grating after a little exposure.

   Something about the foolishly foolish fool's foolhardy foolishness must dumbfound monsters, because they will only move when he does. This means that if the player sits still and does nothing, despite combat being pseudo real-time nothing will happen until the player moves again. Throwing something counts as a movement, equipping something does not. What makes the birdbrain's incompetence most obvious is his amazing ability to get surrounded on all four sides; in this case the player can look forward to a very long time standing around hoping to win. As noted, the simpleton's poor processing power means damage dealt and received is essentially random. Whether enemies connect with their magic attacks is also rather random, but getting hit with Sleep or Confuse (which is not billed as Confuse, instead it makes 'you feel like dancing') can be very annoying. And if it gets the stupid one killed, oh no! This game features a chintzy developer that did not include a save feature, so death means the player mus t restart from whatever floor number that is a multiple of 5 was last cleared. Equipment possessed at the time the player reached the floor of restart is retained, as is whatever level the underachiever reached. Most of the Terrible Tower's floors have a random layout though, and the player must literally find paths on each of them out of the blackness. Having conquered a floor once does not guarantee that the retard can remember his steps.

   Those are the circumstances delineating the challenge, and if the player does not arrive at good strategies for dealing with the enemy hordes plenty of continuing will be mandatory (or the player can give up). If the slow one gets lucky the player can finish Fatal Labyrinth inside of 3 hours. If not, I cannot come up with an estimate for the time needed to conquer the game should circumstances constantly conspire to make retracing steps necessary. As for replay; while the random layouts might generate a desire in some to do so, the repetitive nature of the game in a first playthrough all but guarantees no one will want to return.

   Is there anything positive about the game? Well, aside from the aforementioned Confusion being described as 'you feel like dancing,' and the ability to throw anything at enemies (see how much damage that leather helmet can do if thrown around!), nothing comes to mind. Starring a mute dumbass who felt like wandering into the Fatal Labyrinth with no formal training whatsoever, guided by a player who should steer clear of the Fatal Labyrinth due to its randomized irritations, this is a game best learned from, not played.

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