Tag Archives: Sonic’s UGC

Fatal Labyrinth is still difficult, but finally makes sense

fatal labyrinth gd medium

When I first played Fatal Labyrinth, back in early 2011 as part of Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection on the Xbox 360, I didn’t understand it. I only continued poking at it to get a single Achievement, which tasked the player with making it to the fifth floor of the randomly generated labyrinth. In fact, this was the last Achievement I popped, after getting that super tricky for Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine. I remember having great difficulty with this, eventually just avoiding all monsters and searching desperately every nook and cranny for the next set of stairs to take me upwards and away. You’ll have to forgive me, but I wasn’t familiar with roguelikes back then, confused by things like question marks on items and dark rooms full of uncertainty.

Since then, I’ve played a lot more roguelikes, some of which are very close in style and mechanics as Fatal Labyrinth. Here, let me name a few that come to mind: The Binding of Isaac, Coin Crypt, Dragon Crystal, and Hack, Slash, Loot. The games have taught me much over the past few years, like not to be scared of potions that don’t immediately reveal what they do. Yep. If you want to know what the brown potion does in Fatal Labyrinth, you have to drink it blindly; once you know its power, there’ll be no further confusion about it during your run. That said, last time I drank the brown potion, it simply said “you’re feeling much better”…so I have no clue what that actually means.

According to a gaming wiki I frequently hang out around, Fatal Labyrinth is about leading Trykaar into the castle of Dragonia in order to retrieve the Holy Goblet, which was stolen from the village. I’ll take that plot at face value because I didn’t read anything about that when I started out, but maybe if you linger long enough on the title screen you get some exposition. The castle consists of thirty levels, most of which are procedurally generated. Seeing as I’ve only ever gotten to the fifth level, I have no idea what that means. Perhaps there are boss battles that are the same each time you hit them. I don’t know.

Upon returning to Fatal Labyrinth, which, by all means was not something I planned, but rather something that simply unfolded before me when I popped in Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection to see if my save progress from Phantasy Star II was still there, I found myself surviving. Slicing up enemies and throwing duplicate weapons away like a skilled ninja. Killing monsters and leveling up, as well as grabbing food and navigating menus. All of that is in stark contrast from my first go with it, and again, I have the years of noodling around with other roguelikes to thank. Except for Dungeons of Dredmor, which I’ll never be good at.

As with just about every other RPG out there, the main concern in Fatal Labyrinth is crafting your initially weak and worried hero into a walking tank, brimming with weapons, spells, potions, and other powerful trinkets. You start with just a small knife and plenty of pocket space; I found the hand axe to be killer against most foes save for those ice crystal things and got a few pieces of armor on my way to the fifth level before losing too much HP after getting surrounded. Dealing with groups of enemies one on one is also important, much like dealing with zombies in Dead Island–focus on a single threat, eliminate it, then move on to the next one.

Here’s something that is not weird, but then weird. In order to continue exploring the titular labyrinth, you need to be well-nourished. However, you only have enough food at the start of your journey for around ten minutes of exploration. You can see your food depleting in the UI, marked as a F. Thankfully, like chickens in the walls of Castlevania, there’s spare meat lying around on different dungeon floors. Here’s where things take a turn–if you eat too much, you die. So it’s a constant balance of having enough, but not too much, not too little. Toss in enemies and new gear and mysterious potions, and there’s a lot to juggle all at once, which is where most of the difficulty comes from.

Lastly, I found myself stuck in a seemingly empty room after I cleared it out of enemies and items. There were no doors or staircases, not even one to go back down a level. I thought that maybe I had glitched in Fatal Labyrinth, but after a little Googling, discovered that I was supposed to read the manual, which told me that sometimes there are hidden passageways in walls, and the only way to find them is spam the button while facing every wall unit. See how pivotal manuals are, though I guess one could argue that, at this point, the Internet is basically one big manual.

I do believe that I can conquer all thirty levels of Fatal Labyrinth, and I mean to keep trying until that belief changes stance. Here’s hoping you see a haiku for this game sooner than later.

All Achievements Achieved – Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection

This game was a weird mix of Achievements. Some were blatant freebies, and others were so frustrating that I had to constantly take breathing breaks and power down the Xbox 360 for extended periods of time. The hardest and most excruciating had to be this doozy from Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine:

Yatta! (50G): Dr. Robotnik’s M.B.M.: Complete the game

If I ever meet anyone else in person that has this Achievement unlocked, I will shake their hand, pamper their feet, and maybe then feed them some grapes directly from Tuscany. Because my respect, they will have truly earned.

First of all, before Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection came along, I had no idea this game even existed. Loading it up, I expected it to be a traditional Sonic the Hedgehog game; you know, taking the Blue Wonder and having him run around, collect rings, and possibly, at the end, destroy some mean machine built by the nefarious Dr. Robotnik. I was surprised to find that it was…a puzzle game. Like an odd blend of Tetris, Dr. Mario, and sadomasochism. Eep. It’s not an easy puzzle game, and one can really screw themselves over quickly if they aren’t paying attention. Basically, you want to match four color blobs together, and if you match several in a row, you’ll create a cascading effect that will send blocking boulders onto your opponent’s side. Keep it up, and they’ll run out of space to place blobs, giving you one mean victory. 

That’s the gameplay, and it is simple at first, but with each consequent level, the blobs fall faster and your opponents get tougher. Or cheaper. Magically amazing at placing blobs and cascading your side to be more specific. Thankfully, there’s a password system available, and if you enter Yellow, Has Bean (that’s the one in the Achievement’s picture), Blue, Blue you’ll advance to the last level. All you have to do then is defeat Dr. Robotnik to complete the game. However, it’s virtually impossible, and you’ll be banking on luck and reloading saves more than skill or intellect.

Took me about thirty minutes or so of trying, dying, and trying again. I came close a few times only to have myself cascaded on, never to recover. Eventually, Dr. Robotnik’s AI screwed himself, and before long I heard that familiar Achievement ping! Wow. Did I really just beat him? Even double-checking didn’t help solidify that, yes, I unlocked Yatta! Sure, I used a cheat. Sure, I beat him unknowingly. Sure, I wish I could take more credit on earning this skillfully.

But yeah. That’s Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection, said and done. I was going to talk about some of its other Achievements, but Yatta! has, once again, stolen all my energy.

Games Completed in 2011, #3 – Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection

This collection of just under 50 Sega Genesis games could’ve used a better title. As is, Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection is misleading. I mean…is this a gathering of only Sonic games? Or are these games handpicked by the speedy, blue hedgehog himself? And if that, where is Toe Jam and Earl or Mortal Kombat or Boogerman: A Pick and Flick Adventure? Okay, maybe I don’t really give two cares about that last one…

Regardless, this is a good deal. You get a lot of games for an excellent price ($18 used, I think?) rather than buying a lot of them individually on XBLA for 400 MP a pop. Eek. However, for a lot of these games, no one should waste their money. Going in, I’d heard of a good number, played a few in my childhood over at friends’ houses, and experienced the rest as brand new things in 2010/2011. A lot are just meh. Can’t say it any straighter. Bonanza Bros. is ridiculous and a mess strategically. Sonic 3D Blast should come packaged with Advil. Controlling the helicopter in Super Thunder Blade is broken. I jumped to my death quickly in Space Harrier and never went back to it.

I only had a good time revisiting more familiar titles, such as Streets of Rage, Golden Axe, Sonic II, Beyond Oasis, and Ecco the Dolphin. Tara and I played some of these together, but as is usual with older games, frustration reigns supreme. We’d get more mad than glad during split-screen Sonic the Hedgehog 2 versus adventures. I was most surprised to find myself really enjoying generic platformers like Dynamite Headdy and Kid Chameleon.

Honest disclaimer: I have not beaten every single game in this collection. Not even close on most of them, nor do I really want to. So, the reason I’m considering this one completed for 2011 is based off its Achievements. I’ve unlocked them all. Woo-hoo? Woo. They’re split down the middle between super easy and soul-crushingly difficult. I’ll discuss them greater in another post, devoting way too many words to the Achievement for Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine. How I will forever hate that one.

If you’re looking to do some retro gaming and have everything you wanted from the SNES generation on your Wii or Nintendo DS, then this one’s worth a spin.

A roundup of lately achieved Achievements

I’ve been adding to my Gamerscore as of late via multiple games, and I think now’s a good time to share with you some of my grand accomplishments. I’m talking about Achievements, naturally. Y’know, those little blooping bloops that pop up now and then when gaming on the Xbox 360 and doing something, um, specific. I love ’em. And hate ’em, too. Facebook lists my relationship with them as “complicated.”

Moving along…

From Borderlands, I pinged–or rather dinged–this one last night after clearing out three to four “trivial” difficulty quests:

Ding! Overleveled (15G): Reached Level 51

The game’s a bit dull now that I’m a pretty high level, playing solo, and on my second run through the same ol’ quests. I do sincerely doubt I’ll climb much higher with Roland, but maybe I should try playing as Lilith to mix things up for a bit.

From Fallout: New Vegas, I completed a number of quests recently, but only one was actually tied to an Achievement:

Return to Sender (20G): Completed Return to Sender

This quest was…a bit of a downer. In many ways. First, you have to find a bunch of ranger stations and tell them about fixing their radios. Then you have to go back to each ranger station again to ask about odd reports coming over their radios. This means a lot of fast traveling, which doubly means a lot of loading screen. I swear I’ve stared at that spinning roulette wheel so much that I’ve seen its very soul. And then it ends sadly with a cloud of confusion over Jareth’s head.

From Street Fighter IV, I got a couple Achievements recently as I continue the long climb to the top, but this one is a goodie:

Super Combo Master (10G): Perform 100 Super Combos.

Why is this a goodie? Weeeeeeeell…super combos are hard to perform! There. I said it. Now you know just how much of a fighting game n00b I am.

From Mini Ninjas, a not-so mini (ninja) amount of Gamerscore for a grindy Achievement:

Now You See Me… (40G): Defeat 100 enemies with stealth attack

And lastly, from Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection, we have this one from Super Thunder Blade, a game I never played and never will play again:

Get to the Chopper (15G): Super Thunder Blade: Score over 1,500,000 points in the first level

This ol’ shoot and flying as frantic as possible game is horrible. You have a limited number of lives and must dodge an array of bullets–the biggest problem is the controls as moving the chopper out of death’s way is tougher than expected. But the Achievement’s name gets points, both from me and the Governator.

Okay, that’s all for now. Quite a roundup, eh?