Arkista’s Ring is a top-down action RPG released on the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1990 by Sammy of America. Despite Sammy of America being a subsidiary of a Japanese company, Arkista’s Ring was only ever released in North America. The game centres around a green haired elf named Christine as she searches the land for Arkista’s Ring which was taken by the evil Shogun (again, never released in Japan) and is needed to return light to the land of the elves.
Arkista’s Ring has a top-down view similar to The Legend of Zelda. While both games have a similar style of game play, Arkista’s Ring fells a bit more … ‘tight’. I know that sounds a little strange, but the game world works on a grid meaning that the player can only move straight up, down, left or right. While it does feel a little more restrictive than Zelda, it still very playable. It probably reminds me a little more of the first Ancient Land of Y’s game, only you have a bow and don’t attack things by running into them. The play character is armed with a bow and an unlimited number or arrows to take down anything that may stand in her way. In addition to her trusty bow, she is also able to collect power-ups and usable magic items which are dropped by slaughtered enemies.
There are a number of items that can be found in the remains of your defeat foes. They come in the form of nondescript bags and can contain a number of different items. Some restore life, while other have pieces of armour (which are really just extensions for the life bar). There are magical attacks which are needed to defeat certain enemies. There is even an item which increases the amount of items you can carry at once. Powerups in the game are plenty, so there is really no need to ‘save them for a rainy day’. In fact, you will probably find yourself using items just free up room in your pack to pick more up.
Level progression is quite linear. Each stage consists of single, scrolling screen. A key will appear in a specific spot once all the enemies in the stage have been defeated. The key is then used to open the door blocking the entrance to the next stage. It sounds pretty simple. That’s because it is pretty simple. There are no difficult puzzles or tricky combat situations to get through, it’s all pretty straight forward and the game never really throws you any curve balls. I don’t recall any NPC’s or dialogue screens either. It’s a pretty basic game.
Arkista’s Ring boasts 128 stages, but in reality it only has 32. When you complete stage 32, the game loops back to first stage. You then go through the game all over again on a higher difficulty (read: tougher monsters). The game loops 4 times in total. I only played through the first 32 stages, but I will probably go back to Arkista’s Ring and try going for the full 4 loops. It really is a sweet little game with super-simple-yet-strangely-addictive gameplay. It’s also pretty easy on the eye for an 8 bit action RPG. Apparently it’s one of the rarer NES carts in existence, but I would recommend Arkista’s Ring to pretty much anybody, regardless of how they manage to play it.