Grandmaster was published by Varie in 1991.  It’s more of an action RPG than a proper JRPG, but it is an interesting game.  It’s often called a kusoge mostly due to the difficulty level.

A knight protects a princess.

The dramatic introduction of the game shows the capture of the princess.

The game starts with a dramatic introduction showing the capture of the princess.  Your hero then gets several options of where to explore.  Depending on which place you explore, you get new ways of crossing the land and the plot changes.

A typical scene while exploreing.

This on the left side of the castle, and shows typical exploration in the game.

Above is a typical exploration scene.  The green slime is an enemy.  The chest above the hero has a jewel in it, and to the south is a river.  You can also see immediately the problems with the game.  The paths are pretty narrow, and that river is an instant death pit.

The hero slowly levels up.

You can level up to have more hit points and more attack power.  In this case, the hero is at level two.  You can see another difficulty in the game. You are not automatically healed when you level up.  If you want the best ending, you only have two potions in unmarked chests to fill your health in the first area.

Exploring deep in the castle with 2 hit points.

With 2 hitpoints remaining, the hero stands to the south of a speartrap.

If you manage to get past the trickily timed spear traps, the enemies, and the finicky passages, you get another cutscene after the boss.  All in all, the game feels like a hard won victory when you manage to clear an area.  There’s a bit of luck to avoiding damage and to managing to search and area as well as some cleverness in understanding monster AI.  The music is catchy and not that unpleasant at all, and the graphics are bright and cheerful.  Still – I can’t imagine I’d enjoy finishing the game.  Sometimes, though, I want to.

  1. yukie’s avatar

    I’m amused at the princess’s expression.
    I wonder if they kept that ‘cutscene’ graphic to fewer colours in order to save memory space on the cartridge? It’s really evocative anyhow, the limited palette doesn’t detract from it.

    And evil floor traps are just – gyaah. Does the little guy at least move faster than original-flavoured Simon Belmont?

  2. Rav’s avatar

    She looks so irritated with Captain Fancy Helmet.

    Unfortunately, yes. Combine non-glacial walking and narrow passages though –

    I actually have more trouble with the spear traps. It’s literally almost a second between “you’ll make it through safely” and “you’ll be hit.” Then again, timing and me tends to be iffy.


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