Thursday, March 17, 2011

Athena, World of Sea

Next stop in my quest to finally get through Athena on the NES: the World of Sea! This is the level that generally ended my adventures when I played Athena as a kid, and I always had the impression that it was the furthest level most people ever saw. Only rarely was I able to get past it, and being able to do so was a big deal: you mean there are more stages after this one?

First thing's first. Blocks to the left? Take 'em out!

Sure enough, our efforts are rewarded with a new item for this World: the Shell Necklace. If we have this in our inventory when we hit the water, Athena will transform into her mermaid form.
This is significant because as a mermaid, she's only one block tall. She can fit through narrow gaps like the one that blocks passage to the Boss. Unfortunately, if her life gauge dips too low, she'll transform into tall, bulky Athena again -- and if she's not through that narrow gap already, she won't be getting to the Boss on that life!

A major difficulty in the World of Sea is that the most common enemies, the merfolk, drop one of two weapons when defeated: the Bow and the Wand. Neither of these first-level weapons can break blocks, so you need to be careful what you pick up. Meanwhile, I'm really getting mobbed by the merfolk; sure enough, I accidentally pick up a Bow. I really have no choice after that but to keep killing merfolk until I get the Silver Arrow, which upgrades the Bow and gives it block-breaking ability.

There's a Blue Hourglass in the corner of those blocks in the middle of the screen, and once I grab it I quickly swim back to the upper level. Curiously enough, this doesn't bring us to the surface -- it's entirely water-logged up here.

I'm getting really worried now because my life gauge is dangerously low, and a couple more hits will mean Athena will leave mermaid form and be too tall to fit through the narrow gap. It's gonna be close...

Made it!
Just made it! But I lost the Shell Necklace on the other side, and only have a single unit of life remaining! This is where my adventures would usually end while playing Athena during my childhood: just before or just after that narrow gap. This time I make it to the Boss.

The Boss of the World of Sea was an incredibly imposing figure during my childhood runs at Athena. He's less scary now that I've learned a trick. Normally hit detection works against you in this game, but on this occasion the fact that the Boss's graphic doesn't line up with his hit box works in our favor.

That area I've circled in red? If you stand right at the edge of his platform and fire arrows straight forward, you'll hit that area and it'll count as a hit on the Boss. Just keep firing, and he'll be destroyed in no time, and his projectiles can't seem to hit you.

He drops a simple Club, which is important if you have a weapon that can't break blocks. I'm pretty happy with my Silver Arrow, so it's on to the last room of the level. Next time: the World of Sky, in which I get lost and waste a bunch of time. Huzzah!

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