Alcahest, Super Nintendo

Alcahest is a scrolling, overhead action game – with RPG elements – that was developed by HAL Laboratory and published by Squaresoft in 1993. It was only ever released in Japan, but a fan-made, English translation patch is available to make it fully playable to Western audiences. Which is what I’m showing here.

Alcahest plays similarly to The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and Soul Blazer, with dungeon-crawling, real-time combat and a magical/fantasy setting. You play as a swordsman called Alen, who is on a quest to defeat a demon tribe led by the evil Babilom. The game can be played at four difficulty levels and features eight different stages, each with a variety of bosses and sub-bosses that must be defeated to progress.

Alen can pick up various items and power-ups that will aid him on his quest, and after defeating specific bosses he will also gain the abilities of one of the four Guardians (based on the four classical elements: earth, air, fire, and water). He can also do dash attacks; can block projectiles with his shield, and can summon elemental Guardians, depending on who is selected (which can be cycled through using the shoulder buttons). Magic Points (MP) are consumed when summoning these Guardians in battle.

As he progresses, Alen will also meet five different allies who will join him at set points during the story. Although you can’t control these allies directly you can trigger their special moves by pressing the appropriate buttons, and this will consume Special Points (SP) as you do so.

Alcahest uses a checkpoint system and passwords for continuing progress. Reaching checkpoints will replenish Alen’s vitality, but if it reaches zero then he’ll die and the game will end. Alen can also acquire Experience Points (EXP) by defeating enemies and bosses, and this will earn him continues to enable him to keep playing after death.

Alcahest is a playable “hidden gem” on the Super Nintendo, although the game is quite short in length. While it’s not in the same league as something like A Link to the Past, it does have its appeal, with diverse, flowing level design and dynamic arcade-style gameplay. It’s definitely worth patching and playing if you want something obscure and unusual on the SNES.

More: Alcahest on Wikipedia

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