3/2 So... why do I keep dying?

The Immortal (NES)

     There's a certain sadistic glee in the execution of a good 'adventure' type of game. This is best summarized by a famous old Dungeons n' Dragons adventure which will remain nameless. After hours and hours of wading through monsters, gathering treasure, and enduring the potent, cat-like stench of basement dwellers, you come to two doors. One leads to the exit and a happy ending. The other is instant screaming vaporization. There are no clues or ways of detecting which door is which. It's simply a trial-by-error, coin toss problem. And that's precisely how the Immortal likes ot do business. In the tiny room in which you begin, there are two recesses on the floor. In the only display of forgiveness this game has to offer, you receive the warning "It might be a good idea to move." Should you ever again brush the sunken tile, a Tremors-inspired hell worm busts out of the floor and snaps you out of the air like a dog treat.

     That sets the mood nicely, doesn't it?

     The Immortal is a gleefully sadistic dungeon crawl that likes putting bait out at every opportunity to make you kill yourself. Considering that modern-day RPGs and adventure games usually only call attention to switches and levers that help you (think of all the glittering hot spots in Chrono Trigger and FF9,) a 'modern' gamer is even more succeptible to that kind of thing. For instance, you find a medal with engravings, then a mysterious beam of slanted sunlight. Sounds pretty obvious you need to reflect off of it, right? But the second you do so, the dungeon fills with white light and you are eradicated. Find a patch of soft enough dirt to plant the spore seed you have in your inventory? The plant sprouts up and sprays you with fatal venom. This of course doesn't take into account the liberally-placed arrows and fire traps. Your only means of defense are profoundly wimpy fireballs that are mainly for discouraging bats from chewing on your head.

     The main enemies in the early stages I have the patience to play through are Goblins. Lots of little green men with daggers. And every time you alert one of them to your presence, they spout some generic 'fantasy villain' line like "YOU WILL GO NO FARTHER!" and start a good old-fashioned shankfight. These battles take place in close-up 3/4ths view and are kind of a rock-paper-scissors/left/right/middle stabbing game. I guess the meters represent fatigue and health, since your little guy moves slower and gets hit a lot when the one goes down. There's a fairly nice digital death scream when the fight is over, but it's the same scream for everything whether you, a troll, or a shade. Mostly you.

     I consulted my old Nintendo Power©™£ code book, remembering it had codes for the bloody game. Ah, level passwords. I could skip to the water stage and get eaten by a sea monster. Or the Whirlpool. Or better yet, hop to the last level and get murdered by the damn dragon. The possibilities for instant death are endless- what's this? A level made entirely of those Death Worm tiles? Oh joy. There's even a fun extra later in the game where you can meet the game's designers. And be killed by them. Hey, what's that on the other page... That gives me an idea.

     I'll play a better game! That's it!!

     The Immortal is pretty much a nice hybrid of the text-based adventure and a real-time NES game, and as such combines the things that infuriate me about both into a package of extra-special pain. Like an iceball with a rock in it. That's on fire somehow, too. I mainly consider this an okay game by the sheer amount of effort they put into making the player squirm. I said it before about Mario and a couple dozen other game heroes, but it's literally true here- Everything in this fantasy world wants to fucking kill you. Hideo Kojima needs a copy of this thing, stat, if that plan of his to "make a game that hurts the player" is still on.

     This article was delayed by roughly three weeks due to a combination of dungeon rot and exhaustion from work. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to beat the back-room Muzak out of my skull.



The blew the budget on the little guy wandering around the title screen.

Dost thou partake of the bong water?

The Immortal is the king of Cell Block D.