Friday, March 18, 2011

Athena, World of Sky

My journey through Athena on the NES is now passing into more unfamiliar territory, as the difficulty spike of the World of Sea kept me from seeing this next level, the World of Sky, very often as a kid. True to form, we made it here with a single unit on the life gauge. It's a good thing I know the location of a K Slate on this first screen!

Now if Athena dies we'll be able to keep our equipment. But let's see if we can explore this World a little before...

... or not. I have real trouble defeating the Pyutans with the Bow I retained from the last level, so I pick up a Blue Sword and quickly upgrade to a Yellow Sword. Before too long I find the Pegasus Wings; fitting for the World of Sky!

The good news is I find another K Slate to replace the one I used at the beginning of the level, but the bad news is I release a flying head and it drains most of my equipment away. It makes for slow going through the next tunnel.

But there's a Red Sword in there! Things are looking up.

... or not. This is a dead end, so I'd better hope that this pit doesn't take me back to the start of the level. Luckily it doesn't, and down there I find a Mirror, a Blue Hourglass, a Schoolgirl Dress that rewards me with an extra life, and...

...a second dead end? Uh oh. All Worlds in Athena seem to have two levels, an upper level and a lower level. If I started the World on the upper level, and dropped down one floor to the lower level, I should have gone back up to the upper level at some point; since I didn't, dropping down from the lower level means I'll drop out of the World. But I wasn't thinking about that, and now I'm probably in trouble.

Sure enough, this is the start of the level. I must have taken a wrong turn somewhere, and now I'm back at the beginning. I don't lose a life, but the clock doesn't reset either. It's usually not a good idea, though theoretically I guess you could try and gear up if your equipment isn't up to snuff.

This is where I made my mistake: it's the tunnel before the second dead end. I should have gone up here, and now I do.

It's much scarier up here: check out the lion shooting deadly block-breaking discs! If you can't see him immediately, check in the score line. Some games treat the score line as an overlay, with sprites appearing underneath it, but Athena, like Super Mario Bros., treats it as background where the enemies are concerned. Dodging Lions for awhile leads me to a temple in the background. It's the Boss of the World of Sky, and also a floating head I carelessly released on the way!

This Boss would be tricky if you couldn't stand behind him and attack with impunity. I'm a little worried about the floating head coming down to where I am, but luckily that doesn't happen. The Boss takes a lot of damage, but every so often one of his heads disappears. When they're all gone, so is he. He drops a lot of goodies when he's defeated: a Mirror, a Helmet, and a bag of money. From there it's a short jaunt to the last room of the World of Sky, which isn't so much a room as it is an open-air cloudscape.

Next time it'll be the World of Ice, whose Boss is uncharacteristically mean, and which I've only seen the other side of twice. But that's a discussion for another day.

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