King Colossus - Staff Retroview  

Sir Shrimpboat
by Mike Moehnke

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Less than 20 Hours
+ Many different weapons that alter playing style
+ Decent story for 1992
- Hero moves slowly
- Jumping is awkward
- Very linear
+ Can save anywhere
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   The Sega Genesis/Mega Drive could not compete with the Super Nintendo in terms of its RPG releases, but that did not mean the system possessed nothing for RPGamers to try, and some of the titles Sega had to offer were on par with Nintendo's offerings. Even with its much smaller library of titles to pick from in Japan, the Sega Genesis still found many of them stranded across the Pacific forever. King Colossus is one of these games, an action RPG with an obvious visual resemblance to Ys, that garnered some acclaim thanks to the internet many years after its release. The game is not a forgotten classic that would have instantly made Super Nintendo owners jealous, but it manages to be better than many Genesis games that did cross the ocean.

   King Colossus, at first glance, looks like many other 16-bit action RPGs. The hero wanders around its various environments fighting enemies in real time and gains experience through his destruction. Enough experience grants him a level-up that increases his statistics. All items are found in chests or dropped by enemies; concurrently there is no money.

   King Colossus varies from many other action RPGs with its weapons. Swords, axes, spears, guns, ball-and-chains, and wands that shoot projectiles in off-kilter directions are all available. Each type of weapon must be used in a different way, so it is possible to adjust how the game is played at any time. Combat is entertaining because of the varied methods at hand to kill the opposition, and thanks to the solid controls when dealing directly with the enemy.

   Navigation in King Colossus is rather annoying, however. The hero moves slowly with no means of ever speeding him up, and most enemies will run rings around him. Enemies do drop plenty of health recovery items to make up for this, but some kind of dash ability would have been very welcome. The inability to move quickly is why the lack of a navigable world is not a complete negative: choosing destinations from a map instead of walking slowly to them does speed up the game in one regard.

Don Don't trust the sunflowers, they're very aggressive.

   The jumping mechanism of King Colossus is also irritating. The game requires precision jumping, with numerous instances of moving and disappearing platforms to aggravate the player. The problem is often with the short amount of time available to make a jump before the platform vanishes, coupled with the difficulty of steering the hero once he is in the air. Missing a jump will drop the hero down to a previous floor, and is thus not likely to be a happy experience when repeated.

   The last significant flaw in King Colossus's interaction has to do with equipment. Any special item that is not a weapon, armor, or a shield is in a separate part of the menu, and thus a pain to discover the effect of. Switching between magic spells is done not in a menu of its own, but by clicking through every other piece of equipment in order to reach the needed part, whereupon the game exits the menu instead of letting the player do other things if desired. At least items that are not equipment will be automatically used where needed so that the player does not have to use trial and error in determining what to do, but this does not make up for the aggravation elsewhere.

   King Colossus does not possess a narrative that will spellbind any player, but for 1992 it was sufficient to hold interest. The nameless would-be hero isn't very good at his job, and his trainer Muuku orders that the legendary implement taken from its place of rest be returned. Doing so puts the hero in the path of the sinister Dezaiya who rules the world rather strictly. What makes the plot interesting is its time spent with secondary characters, which was not expected of an action RPG at the time. Characters such as Princess Lina and Iria are not exactly deep, but they are given a little personality. The game has no kanji, making it a fairly easy import.

Like so many other heroes, this one is stuck in the room he lived in as a kid. Like so many other heroes, this one is stuck in the room he lived in as a kid.

   Visuals are fine for a Genesis title from the middle of the system's lifespan. The different weapons, armor, and shields the hero can equip all have different graphics, which is a nice touch. Environments tend to look rather monotonous, however. As for the music, it sounds okay when being played but is completely generic and forgettable.

   Proper weapon choice can make boss fights devoid of much challenge, and the entirety of the game is not difficult either. Frustrating platform jumping is far more trying than the combat. The game lasts somewhere around ten hours, with no bonus content whatsoever to drag out that time or induce replay.

   Its many flaws notwithstanding, King Colossus would not have been anywhere near the bottom of the barrel for Sega Genesis RPGs had a localization occurred. The game is not a hidden masterpiece, and expectations regarding it by any who experiment should be kept at a reasonable level.

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