It’s that time of year again: the C64 Shoot-‘Em-Up-Construction-Kit (SEUCK) game-designing contest, hosted by Richard Bayliss of The New Dimension, is upon us again and now very near to being in its tenth year, in which duration yours truly has won it a grand total of once. Since that taste of victory was last year, however (with “Valkyrie III – The Night Witch“), it would seem a wee bit churlish not to submit something this year, while the community has been so gracious to me, and since the number three is perhaps auspicious for me when it comes to these things, I present the following:
(Requires C64 emulator to play.)
LOTD 1 and 2, incidentally, are old games of mine both dating back to 2009, and to be honest have very little connection to this one, either in plot or graphics (and since I have only recently learned any assembly coding, this one is way more enhanced and hopefully interesting to play). They are all tributes to the side-scrolling fighting games of the 1980s and 1990s I grew up with, however, and especially Sega’s “Golden Axe.”
This game features my most ambitious attempts to actually code on the C64 so far, due in no small part to the tips shared by Richard on his site (In particular, the “SEUCK School” resource). These include extra animations, power-up collectables, and a couple of non-standard special effects. Nothing terribly ground-breaking by today’s standards, although hopefully enough to make it stand out from the crowd (or make it a horrendously buggy, unplayable mess. Time will tell …).
The story …
In the centuries since the decline of the once-great elven kingdoms, and the magical protection they extended to the free peoples of Aurvandil, most of the continent has degenerated into a chaos of anarchy, feudalism, slavery, and warring tribespeople. Only a few havens remain such as Coed-Elyon: a peaceful woodland realm where the old goddesses are still remembered, and a few chosen daughters are inducted into the sacred mysteries each year. Their mastery of the ancient magic has so far deterred the warlords from invading. Indeed, the realm is far too peaceful for a few restless souls.
Xandra Windheart, a recent initiate of the temple, has found life within her order too restrictive, and has set out into the world at large as a sword-for-hire, much to the disapproval of her kin. Soon, however, they find reason to be grateful for her wayward spirit …
The Magarr Horde, one of the most brutal and hateful of the ever-warring factions, has dared to venture (or at any rate, dared to send many of their most expendable low-ranking warriors) into the Faragian Necropolis: an ancient complex of ruins built upon the unholy ground of the last great magical war, where the elven queen and her armies gave their lives to defeat and disempower the demonic legions of chaos which greedy and ambitious men had recklessly unleashed upon Aurvandil. Those evil spirits were sealed into a great sepulchre, although their influence could not be totally contained, and it contaminated the land all around.
Nevertheless, the hordesmen have invaded that land, risking its plague of undead, and have successfully unsealed the sepulchre by means of a cursed runestone. Already, malevolent chaos energy is spilling out, weakening the influence of benign magic throughout Aurvandil. Soon, Coed-Elyon and all such safe havens will be ripe for the picking … at least until such time as the chaos legions are powerful enough to just enslave or consume the whole world and everyone in it as they deem fit (The Magarr Horde is not known for its long-term planning skills).
When news of this catastrophe reaches Xandra, she knows at once that her people – so totally dependent upon their occult protection – will not be able to withstand the combined threat of the hordesmen and the demonic forces. Their last, desperate hope is for a single intrepid warrior to infiltrate the sepulchre and destroy the runestone, hopefully exorcising its influence before the legions of chaos become a permanent fixture of this world. Drawing her sabre, and a sigh of grim resignation, she set forth …
The mission …
Your quest is divided into three stages:
Stage 1 – Khovin Wildlands – The Magarr Hordesmen are your enemies in this region, wielding axes, throwing knives, and caltrops. Initially, you have only your sword with which to defend yourself, but be alert and search carefully. There are rumours that a few dragons, although mostly long-extinct, still nest in this region, and while they are hostile to most humans, the witches of your order have the necessary wisdom to befriend them and benefit from their considerable power …
Stage 2 – Faragian Necropolis – As you venture into the eerie ruins of this long-dead elven city, beware of maggot-spitting zombies, skeleton warriors, and evil magic-using liches that have been reanimated by the evil forces (once) sealed in the sepulchre. Also, be on the lookout for spike traps.
Stage 3 – Yaxley Tower – Your final battle is on a magical ascending platform at the centre of the necropolis. Survive to the uppermost level, and you will reach the sepulchre. Destroy the rune quickly, or the demonic force will fully emerge into the world and escape to wreak havoc for all eternity.
You can ease your mission slightly by rescuing the small, winged fae you may encounter on your travels. Although a pale shadow of the great elven warriors and magi of the ancient days, these beings still have the power to grant you a little magical protection in exchange for your physical protection. Each fae you collect grants you a single spell that you may activate at any time to destroy all on-screen enemies (A red screen border indicates that magic can be used). Press the S key to activate a spell.
However, do not bother saving your magic for the final conflict, as fae spells will be rendered ineffective in the presence of the cursed runestone. For some threats, nothing beats a little judicious brute force.