Friday, March 25, 2011

Athena, World of Worlds, Part Two

This is it, everybody. We're halfway through the final level of Athena on the NES. If all goes as it should, I'm finally going to see the end of this game after all these years! We're not out of the World of Worlds yet, and now we're getting into the Bosses that caused me so much trouble the first time through!

I'm in the World of Ice now, and if the Boss still has his immunity to everything but the Bow line (and there's no reason to suspect that he doesn't) I need to seriously think about finding a Bow. In fact, the Bosses in the World of Worlds seem to arrive very quickly, so there's not much space in which to find a Bow.

Luckily, I find one on the screen just before he appears. Piece of cake! Standing on his right side nd pegging him with arrows causes him to explode, and he drops Pandora's Box, just like he did the first time.

It's a good thing, too, because I was wondering if Mado would still be immune to damage without the Box. If the Harp of Protection ensures that you don't lose your items (as I think it does), we won't need to worry about it. A little more World of Ice until we drop down to...

...the World of Hell. This stretch is actually fairly simple. The jumps aren't as tricky as on the first visit, and the dark section is short and familiar. I pick up a Red Sword, which I'm happy about.

Mado himself is incredibly easy since I have Pandora's Box, and afterwards we go to the World of Labyrinth, not through a hole in the floor like the previous Worlds, but through one of those mid-room teleports. I had hoped that since the World of Labyrinth seemed to be treated differently in the game itself (accessed by the Key, no Boss), we might not need to revisit it; but that's not the case.

Quick access to the Pegasus Wings makes me feel better about the whole thing. Shortly afterward is a huge wall of blocks, and enemies running in from the left side of the screen try to trap me by dropping Bows! Before long I pick up a Flaming Sword, which fully heals me. Remember this sword. It'll become relevant a couple angry minutes from now.

A little further to the right and it's the Boss, either of the World of Labyrinth or the World of Worlds; in any event, it's the Final Boss of Athena on the NES!

Immediately his three heads detach and start flying randomly around the room. I can stand on his shoulders and attack his shield arm, and then his sword arm, and then jump down onto his back and attack the mouth that fires those discs. Meanwhile, his three heads are flying around aimlessly.

Unfortunately, that Flaming Sword I picked up turns out to have not been such a great idea, because every swing of it depletes my life gauge by one bar. It takes so many hits to destroy all the pieces of the Final Boss that by the time I'm ready to tackle the heads (which also need to be destroyed), my life gauge is so low that one or two hits will do me in! Furthermore, even the magic of modern technology won't save me here, because I don't have a save state available before I picked up the Flaming Sword!

So I play through the entire World of Worlds again, and this time I don't pick up the Flaming Sword.

This time I have a lot more health when it comes time to take on the floating heads. This is incredibly annoying, and takes forever! Since the heads move so erratically, it's very dangerous to chase them down. Instead I stand in one place, swinging my sword and hoping they fly close by. There's no indication that I'm even hitting them, but eventually one disappears, and then a second, and then there's just the one left.

It seems like he never wants to get close enough to get damaged, but eventually he explodes!

Victory! I'm actually really excited. I've never finished Athena before, and now I'm finally going to see the ending, which can't have been seen by very many people. The background flashes triumphantly, it fades to black, and it fades up on a picture of Athena's castle.

The music from the World of Forest is playing, which seems fitting, since it's the song I most associate with Athena. I let it sit there for awhile, but when nothing happens I start trying to move Athena. Nothing continues to happen. No credits, no 'Congraturation!' or similarly endearing Engrish, nothing.

That's it. I don't know what I expected, but it was something more than that. Maybe they didn't think anyone was going to get this far?

I'll have final thoughts on Athena for the NES on Monday, I guess. I can't believe that's the ending!

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