Conquest of the Crystal Palace is a winsome side-scroller, kooky and beautiful in equal measure.
You play a budding young samurai out to rescue the crystal princess from Zaras, who has taken her captive. Along the way, you must usurp Zaras from the throne, so you and your faithful canine, Zap, can take your rightful place as King and King’s Dog respectively. Right away, you choose from one of three crystals that provide extra powers. The Spirit Crystal increases your attack, while the Life and Jump Crystals increase life and jump, respectively.
From there, you hack up bats, golems, Venus fly traps, etc. and collect the money they drop. But it’s the emotions that Conquest of the Crystal Palace conjures that makes it stand apart. As you progress through outside levels, the time of day changes from day to dusk to night to sunrise, with each shift in light conveying a different mood. When you call your dog with the dog whistle, he bounces around you, killing everything he sees. That’s loyalty. Finally, the continue screen is a surprisingly dark image of an underground cavern, where your main character is tied to a rope, dangling above lava. He’s shaking, desperately trying to get free, while Zap barks on from the sidelines.
Of course you’ll continue. Not just because Conquest of the Crystal Palace is great, but because a man’s life is in your hands. That’s a responsibility that few NES games take that seriously.
PUBLISHER: Asmik DEVELOPER: Quest GENRE: Platformer
RELEASE DATE: 08/24/90 – (JP), 11/1990 – (US)