Miracle Warriors is a turn-based RPG that was originally released for the PC-88 in Japan in 1986 and translated for release on the Sega Master System in 1988. The game opens with a request from the king to seal up the recently opened (and aptly named) Pandora’s Passage through which horrible beasts and monsters are coming into your character’s world and wreaking havoc. After obtaining these vague instructions, your character is off on a quest to find the Seal of the Dark Lord and fulfill the prophecy of the five lands.
This game was awesome and hard as hell. I thoroughly enjoyed many aspects of it including its stellar OST, its graphics, as well as the interesting twists on the battle system of traditional turn-based RPGs. Though I read the manual from front to back before beginning the game, there were some things that I think are worth mentioning to anyone who is ever intending to play the game.
The map is vague. The game comes packaged with an absolutely gorgeous map, but in reality there are very few locations of towns/caves/items identified on it. Unfortunately, when you start out the game, you’re literally a cursor on top of a castle with very little idea of where you are beginning your journey from in the context of the entire world. Everything looks the same – plains surrounded by forests and mountains with large, treacherous desert patches at the far end of the territory. I’ve completed an image of the map with all pertinent locations on it for anyone that’s interested. The game’s manual encourages you to draw all over it and push pins through it, but as a collector, the idea of this gives me the willies. You start in the red box on the eastern side of the map.
Bridges don’t necessarily lead to death. In the initial parts of the game, you’re blocked off by water/boundary walls and are forced to travel by land. Right off the bat you’re presented with a choice to cross a bridge, and if I’ve learned anything from RPGs, it’s that once a bridge is crossed, death is surely waiting on the other side if you’re unprepared (picture this: me, Dragon Warrior, 10 years ago, random encounter with a Wyvern ending in nearly instant death). However, contrary to all my RPG instincts, the enemy encounters are the same on either side of a bridge, and you actually must go south across the first bridge you see to reach the first town.
Mountain tiles, desert tiles and forest tiles can lead to death early (or very late!) in the game. The difficulty of enemy encounters is dictated by where the encounter takes place. The forest is intimidating at first but slowly gets more manageable – after all, there are plenty of Liphants to fight that drop magical items that can only be found in forests. Towards the end of the game, despite the fact that I was nearly at the maximum level possible, mountain and desert encounters were still some of the hardest battles in the game. Every so often I encountered incredibly overpowered enemies unexpectedly and met death head on.
It is extremely expensive to raise dead party members. The Village of Restoration is the location you’re to go if one of your party members falls in battle. This information appears in a text box in the middle of battle and might leave you scratching your head since it is not a place marked on your map, and not found inside each town like in some other 8-bit RPGs. It is very inconveniently placed in the middle of a bunch of mountain squares (see above why this is bad) and once you arrive there, the villagers demand 30000 Guilders to resurrect your party member! So not only do you a) have to travel to a specific location that is b) in the middle of mountains where some of the most difficult encounters of the game lurk, but c) you also have to dish out 30000 Guilders to get your party member back! It’s almost worth it to reset and play on from your last save point, or
throw your console out the window and quit forever kill off your entire party.
Saving can be done at any time and should be done often. I learned the hard way after beating a difficult boss that it’s very easy to die by wandering into the wrong place at the wrong time. A lot of caves where Senpi and Hanj enemies are found are in hard-to-reach places and can be treacherous to get to and to leave from. It’s best to save often when approaching an area where a boss enemy like the aforementioned resides. Also, as you might expect, you can’t save inside caves.
Random encounters are plentiful and deadly. The encounter rate in this game is very, very high. Sometimes I’d run into enemies three or four tiles in a row, and others I’d get an occasional break with fewer encounters. In the beginning of the game when you’re broke, you simply have to find easy enemies like Weasley Wimps and unleash the power of your fists upon them until you can gain enough Guilders to buy a weapon and hope with all your might that you don’t die in the process. Dying puts you back to the last save. You’ll likely be low on HP in a hurry, but don’t even think about healing up until you’ve fought lots of enemies to make some cash. The cost of replenishing your health in town is relative to how much of your life bar has been depleted. If you’re wandering off into the wilderness without a healer nearby, a set of five heals will run you 2000 Guilders, and it only replenishes a small portion of your life bar.
You can’t heal in battle. Although you can heal any time on the world map if you have herbs on hand or in towns at the healer house, there is no option to replenish health in battle until practically the very end of the game. This is important to keep in mind in boss fights because if you don’t have enough HP at your level to outlast your enemy, you’ll be stuck grinding until you do.
Only one party member can act each turn, and the enemy’s attack is retaliated against that individual. This can be hard to get used to when most other turn-based RPGs with wait mode allow each character in your party a chance to unleash their worst before allowing the enemy their next turn. And if you always attack with your strongest character, their health bar will deplete quickly. This encourages you to strategize and rotate through your party members regularly. It also encourages you to save your weakest player attacks for the last hit before the enemy dies – this way they don’t receive the counterattack but can still gain experience.
Trading Fangs for easy cash is not a good idea, especially late in the game. In every town you come across, there is someone that is willing to trade Fangs for 50 Guilders apiece. Fangs are acquired from felled monsters and though it might be tempting to sell them all off for some quick cash, this should really only be done very early in the game. Certain weapons and magical items can only be obtained in exchange for Fangs, and you’ll be stuck grinding for them if you’re not careful.
Find out where to get magic items and start saving up those Guilders and Fangs early! Some magic items can be found randomly from enemy encounters with Liphants (sacred nuts) and Sea Dragons (white spheres), but others like the Staff of Earthquakes and Stones of Protection must be bought with Guilders and Fangs, respectively. The locations of these places are indicated on the map above, but they are quite costly. Using offensive items in battle also gives experience to all party members, so you should find and use these often.
White spheres don’t bring back the dead. Though the dialogue box that appears when you acquire white spheres says that it can bring your friends back from death, what it really means is that it can bring your friends back from near death by restoring their health completely. If they’re dead and you try to use the white sphere, you’re out of luck.
You can hire a blacksmith to automatically repair weapons and armour. In the first town, I talked to a guy holding a hammer that told me he got in a fight with his boss and lost his job. He told me that if I paid him 12000 Guilders that he would join my party, and I thought, “Oh great! My first party member!” Well, I did some grinding, paid him his cash but the next battle I got into I noticed that I was still a lone battler. It turns out that this blacksmith lives in your inventory (you can see him if you go into your menu in quite a sultry pose, I might add) and the game doesn’t directly inform you of his role. I just happened to notice that my weapons and armour were no longer degrading after each battle. This is how the original text went:
Blacksmith: This is a Smithy. I had a problem with the Master. I was fired. For 12000 Guilders I shall go with thee. (Pay him 12000 Guilders). I shall journey with (character name). Wait thee here!
If you talk to him again afterward, his end of the conversation goes like this:
Blacksmith: My brother! Forge some fine weapons for (character name)! And thee, take care on thy quest.
So, so vague.
If you fight a specific enemy in the game, your Smithy gets murdered. I found this out the hard way. After defeating a Basailz enemy in a cave, I was told this:
Apparently this means that your blacksmith has died and is no longer with your party. I didn’t realize this until a long while later when one of my weapons randomly broke! Then I had to seek retributive justice through the slaughter of many monsters that were full of Guilders for the taking to buy his services back.
Don’t kill everyone you meet. Though it’s not something that you ever see referred to at all in the game, each enemy encounter you have alters your charisma rating. The higher your charisma, the more people like you. If you start killing innocent merchants and travellers, your charisma rating goes down and people in towns won’t help you or sell anything to you. That’s a surefire way to screw yourself over pretty quickly.
Be prepared to search, search, search! This game is not intuitive. You need to depart from your comfort zone, walk through mountains, trees and deserts and do your best not to get wiped out in the process. Caves and monuments can yield places to explore or hide powerful enemies like Senpis and Hanjs that can destroy you in a moment. Random houses in new towns are inhabited by your future party members, so you need to talk to every single person. To recruit your party members, you must acquire special armour/shields to be able to recruit them, and this is never clearly stated at any time, ever. When in doubt, take a little walk and don’t be afraid to see what’s around the next corner. Though it’s most likely death, it’ll be something you’ll know better for next time.
Be prepared for some hilarious, glaring language errors and lots of head-scratching moments. The translation of this game is not only poorly done, but it’s in old-timey English which can muddy things even further. Hints are vague, advice that you buy from townspeople doesn’t make sense, town names from the map and the game don’t match up, and it is never, ever clear where to go. Sometimes, people even say the opposite of what they mean, like the herbs merchant. He asks you if 2000 guilders is too steep to pay, and if you say yes, he charges you and sells you the herbs! It’s completely backwards!
Also, check out these descriptive instructions. Believe it or not, they’re actually directions. For the record, Dokia doesn’t exist on the map at all, and people in “Saria” call it another name altogether.
Miracle Warriors, though fantastic, is unrelenting at times. It almost seems if it barely cares for you or your well-being at all, which is reminiscent of many games of long ago. Though some people might cock an eyebrow at me for saying this, I have a soft spot for these kinds of games. My patience is bountiful and I would happily play through this game again sometime in the future. I hope that if any of you ever take the time to play it that these hints are helpful for you! I truly wish I would’ve known all of these things in advance, but half the fun of a new game is going in blind.
I’ve also done a complete playthrough of the game on YouTube/Vidme if anyone is interested in checking out gameplay from the game. Here is a link to the YouTube Playlist, and because Vidme doesn’t do playlists just yet, here’s a link to my Vidme site.
Thank you very much for reading (and maybe watching)! I wanted to reiterate again how grateful I am for all you folks that have watched me stream this game and/or have already checked out the playthrough, as well as anyone else that does moving forward. Your support is extremely touching and truly means so much to me that it’s hard to put it into words. Playing single player games with good company is a hobby I really love and is a great extension of my collecting/blogging. It’s really amazing to see it all come together!
Truly, thank you so much.
p.s. Don’t the people from the title screen look like the members of the band Rush? I can’t unsee it. Now I’m off to listen to some New World Man, and then put Feels So Good by Chuck Mangione back on repeat.