Review: The Tower of Druaga (VC Arcade)

Scale a skyscraper to rescue your lost love in The Tower of Druaga.

The Tower of Druaga is a moderately infamous arcade game. As the knight Gil (Who is really Gilgamesh) you must work your way up a gigantic 60-floor tower to rescue your beloved princess Ki from the clutches of the evil Druaga.

Each floor is quite literally a maze - Your objective on every single floor is to locate the key and then take it to the door leading to the next floor. Of course this isn't all there is to it, because every floor is swarming with enemies. When not pressing anything and just walking around, Gil will hold out his shield, used to block projectiles.

If you hold an action button though, he will hold out his sword instead. It takes about a second to switch between the two, so you have to react very fast on floors with enemies that shoot stuff! Some enemies also have to be hit from a certain direction, which can be hard to do since you have almost no room to maneuver!

A major element of the game is that every single floor has a hidden treasure - These can be unveiled by accomplishing certain tasks. Thankfully, unlike most of the game's features, none of these are random. The first floor's task, for example, is always to kill three Green Slime enemies. This will always make a chest with a copper pickaxe appear, with which you can destroy one wall per stage, allowing you to get around much more quickly.

Some of the later tasks are a bit more absurd though - On one of the earlier floors, the treasure chest appears by walking over the exit door before getting the key, something you're not likely to do without knowing. Some of these treasures are absolutely essential in beating the game, such as a pair of boots on the second floor which let you move much faster (You move painfully slow at the start of the game - Watch the video!) or an item which lets you see normally invisible enemies. The Virtual Console version's manual lists the requirements to get the first seven treasures, but after that, you're on your own!

As you might expect the game is quite repetitive - Every single floor looks the same, the only thing that really changes on each one is the types of enemies and the requirement for the treasure. Although the maze is different on every floor, the size isn't, so generally that doesn't really make a difference either. Enduring all 60 floors takes a lot of effort and dedication.

If you lose all lives, you have to hold the sword button while starting a new game in order to continue, allowing you to select any of the floors you reached in your previous go, and you keep all items. Doing this actually requires you to change the game options - The sword button is normally mapped to both 1 and 2 (On the Wii remote), but both of those are also used for inserting credits and starting, so if you try to continue this way it won't work since it will only register you starting the game, and not holding the sword button! Thus, if you want to continue, you have to unmap button 2 and map the sword to A or B. Quite annoying!

Remember this, because you'll be dying a lot - The game wastes absolutely no time in upping the difficulty, because as early as floor 5, wizards and warlocks will appear all over the place shooting fire and other spells at you, requiring you to very quickly change direction to block every shot - While dealing with other enemies! If you start to run out of time the game will also start spawning Will O' Wisps - These are so fast you can't outrun them, so get out as fast as you can! You can only configure one option in the VC version - The amount of lives you get per credit.

If you actually manage to make it to the last few floors you might be in for even more surprises - Some of the penultimate enemies can't be hit at all without certain powerups, and the final boss won't even show up unless you have the correct item!

Conclusion

As said, the game has its fans - But unless you're willing to spend a ton of time truly mastering the game you're not likely to enjoy it a lot. This one is only really recommended for the truly sadistic gamers!