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|Release date(s)||1987 in Japan; 1990 in the West|
|Genre(s)||Platformer, Action RPG|
|Media/distribution||Two 3.5" floppy disks|
Zeliard is a platform-action RPG video game developed for the NEC PC-8801 and published by Game Arts in 1987 in Japan, and re-published for MS-DOS PCs in 1990 by Sierra Entertainment in Europe and North America. In Zeliard, the player controls the knight Duke Garland, whose task is to save the Kingdom of Zeliard by destroying the evil overlord Jashiin, and recovering the Nine Tears of Esmesanti, magic jewels.
The game supports AdLib and SoundBlaster for sound effects; for music, the game also supports the Roland MT-32. Either a keyboard or a joystick can be used as input devices. The physical size of the game on disk is a bit less than 1 megabyte.
Requirements: 512KB memory, 8086 processor or better Monitor supported: MCGA, VGA, EGA, CGA, Tandy, Hercules, Monochrome sound card supported: Roland MT-32, AdLib, SoundBlaster, PC speaker
Being an MS-DOS-based game written for older hardware, the game may need an emulator, such as DOSBox, to run with all features enabled or at all on modern systems.
An ancient demon, called Jashiin (and self-dubbed as the Emperor of Chaos), emerges from a two-thousand year-old sleep to unleash his wrath upon the Kingdom of Zeliard. Justifying his actions as a revenge upon the ancient kings of Zeliard, Jashiin does so by causing a sand rain to continue for 115 days, turning the kingdom into desert; as well, he turns King Felishika's only daughter, princess Felicia, into stone.
The protagonist and player-controlled character, Duke Garland, is sent by the spirits to aide Zeliard and save Felicia.
Duke Garland must recover the Nine Tears of Esmesanti, stolen by Jashiin from Felicia upon turning her to stone, for only they can reverse the enchantment. Subsequently, Duke Garland must also slay Jashiin. In order to do either, the player must pass through eight increasingly complex labyrinths, swarming with Jashiin's underlings. At the end of each Labyrinth, a boss dwells, holding one of the nine Tears; the final Tear is held by Jashiin himself.
Finally, Garland may find haven in various cities and outposts not yet conquered by Jashiin, in order to rest and purchase weaponry and equipment.
Zeliard is a fast-paced platform game. The gameplay can be divided into sections—in-town, and in-labyrinth.
No combat takes place in towns. The one-time exception to this is an optional boss in a building in the town with the fire caverns. Towns usually exist on the borders of different labyrinths, although some are located in the middle, and one village is hidden.
When in town, Garland can make use of any of the following facilities, provided they are present in that town:
- Bank: In the bank, Garland can store his gold coins, as well as exchange almas captured from enemies for gold at varying exchange ratios.
- Weaponmaster: At the weapon store, Garland can buy new swords and shields, as well as repair a damaged shield.
- Magic: At the magic shop, Garland can buy various magic items, such as life-restoring potions, defensive auras, or back-to-town teleports.
- Sage: The sage hut is the only place to save the game. In labyrinths, as well as in towns that do not have sages, saving is impossible. As well, the sage can increase Garland's maximum hitpoints, and teach him magic spells.
- Church/Inn: Both a church and an inn allow the character to restore his maximum hitpoints and spells. The church will do so for free, while the innkeeper will demand a fee.
Not all towns have all of these buildings, and certain towns may have additional, special-purpose buildings as well.
While in-town, Garland may also talk to the townfolk in hope of getting useful information for his quest.
The labyrinths are the combat space of the game. When in a labyrinth, Garland will have to make good use of his sword, shield, special items, and magic spells, in order to slay countless creatures, and progress to the next boss or town.
The labyrinth area is divided into eight different sections, each with a unique appearance and containing unique monsters, and each having a different boss monster, guarding one of the Tears of Esmesanti jewels.
Labyrinths are further broken down into caverns. Moving from one cavern to another is done through doors (locked or unlocked), and keys must first be found to unlock locked doors.
Regular monsters inhabit each labyrinth, respawning each time Garland enters, leaves, moves from one cavern to another, or simply walks too far away from their spawn position. Boss monsters, on the other hand, do not respawn after being killed. The one exception to this is the semi-final boss, the personal bodyguard of Jashiin. It only needs to be killed once to gain access to Jashiin, but if the player later dies or teleports out, the boss will need to be killed again.
When a monster is killed, it may drop an alma. Almas are valuable jewel-like creature souls which can be exchanged at banks for gold; as well, some NPCs require a direct alma payment for a needed item. Almas come in three ratings, grayish red (worth 1 almas), grayish blue (worth 10 almas), and reddish white (worth 100 almas). Enemies in later parts of the game tend to drop more valuable almas, but later equipment is also more expensive.
As well, later labyrinths in the game have hidden one-way air currents. Invisible to the player, they will involuntary carry Garland in their direction of flow. Some complex schemes of currents can be very difficult to outmaneuver, and reach the intended destination. However, currents may also provide a quick way to escape death, and using some hidden currents is required to progress in the game.
Garland can die by taking excessive damage from close contact with monsters, their projectiles, or the natural environment such as hidden spikes or excessive temperatures. There is no falling damage.
When dying, Garland will lose all his carried gold and half his carried almas, and be teleported back to the very first town in the game, having to go back to where he was before dying (which is usually easier than going there the first time, since the boss monsters are already dead, all the closed doors remain open, and special items acquired later in the game may be of use for quicker progression).
Garland's equipment consists of the following:
- Sword: The sword is used to deal the bulk of damage to the enemies. Later enemies will require more and more hits from the same sword to be killed. Better swords (which deal more damage and/or have further range) can be bought in later towns. The final sword, required to destroy Jashiin, can only be retrieved in the labyrinths.
- Shield: The shield is used to deflect frontal damage to Garland. Shields can be bought in towns, and better shields have more armor points and/or larger physical size. The shield becomes damaged from enemy attacks and can be repaired at towns. If the shield breaks it will disappear, and the player will have to buy a new one (which is much more expensive than repairing a shield).
- Crests: There are three different crests in the game, which can be recovered from the labyrinths or given as a reward by NPC's. Two crests are required for access to the next zone, and one for being able to buy a special sword.
- Keys: Keys are scattered around the labyrinths, and they are required to open closed doors. With one exception, all keys are the same, and can be used to open any one closed door (sometimes allowing alternate order of progression). The exception is the Lion's Head Key, which is required to open a special door, leading to the game's final Sword.
- Magic Items: Magic items can be bought in the magic shop, provided they are in stock. They all are one-time use in the labyrinth, and when used will cease to work once expired, or once Garland goes back to town. Different magic items will restore Garland's health, increase the damage of his sword, repair his shield, provide a defensive aura around him, teleport him back to town, or recover his magic spells.
- Magic Spells: Magic spells can be learned from the sage upon entering a new town. Further visits to sages will also increase the maximum capacity of existing spells. Spells are projectile combat weapons, and more advanced spells are stronger, faster, and/or have a longer/broader range.
- Clothing: There are four special shoes, and one special cape, which can be bought or found in the labyrinths. Different clothes, while worn, will allow the characters to do one of the following:
- Prevent slipping on ice
- Be immune to environmental spikes or flame traps
- Be able to climb slopes
- Be able to jump higher
- Survive the Inferno heat
Many of these items are required in order to progress in the game, although some are optional, simply making progress easier.
Altogether, Duke Garland must make use of his entire arsenal, by passing through all the labyrinths, slaying all the boss guardians, and finally destroying Jashiin, putting an end to the villain and recovering all the Nine Tears of Esmesanti, in order to save Princess Felicia.