How to Save the World

Part Nine

 

The Beginning of the End

 

This is probably the most delicate part of any game. Naturally, after you have designed enough dungeons and levels for your game, you too will be looking for the perfect grand finale. CAUTION! You cannot have a good grand finale if you donít lead up to it properly. Itís just impossible. And in order to make way for the perfect ending now, you must discard some of the rules we set earlier.

 

For example, where earlier it was a good idea to expand access to all lands of the created world gradually, now you must reveal all possible paths, roads, and lands. You must keep in mind that this time around, you are expanding for the last time.

 

Earlier it was also a good idea to start subquests and miniquests. Now you must be ending them. On the same lines, it may have been a good thing earlier in the game to require movement from one place to the next on special missions (e.g. races across the land to deliver something before it expires). Once the hero enters the final land, in my case Spade Mountain, he must never be required to turn back. As soon as Dominick enters the Mountain area, he will never have to go to Club Town or anywhere else in order to win the game. He can turn back if he wants to, or if he has an extracurricular activity he wants to do, but technically, he can stay on the Mountain for the rest of the game.

 

Ace

 

A good way to think of this concept is as if the final land is a perpendicular universe. In this universe there are people who have major problems and donít care much for what is going on elsewhere in the world. The one difference is that this time around the concerns of the people are actually your concerns, too. You are about to face the final boss, the evil force you set out to vanquish long ago, and nobody wants him vanquished more than the people of this final land, which I will call ďland XĒ unless I am referring to Spade Mountain specifically.

 

An alternative used in many games is to have the residents of land X be loyal to the evil overlord. This was most commonly found in the 2D games of Sega and SNES, but you can still find it in some of the recent Final Fantasy games. In this scenario, the hero must somehow make his way through the ďfortressĒ and access the inner walls of the castle. The hero is then making his way from the outside to a point in the middle (ďpoint of no returnĒ concept). Some games go as far as to make a maze out of the outer fortress part of the land and force the gamer to find his way through.

 

Iíll go with the first idea because it fits into my game so well. Youíll probably see why after I explain the plot of the game further.

 

Now you leave Club Town and go to the West Road past Obliteration field. Surprisingly enough, the road forks in two directions. You cannot get through without using a lightning bomb to clear away the rubble blocking the low road. And as to the high road, you cannot get through the ominous gates without something to put in the large keyhole in the middle. Well you can get to the low road anyway, and once you do, you enter Spade Mountain Metropolis, a large town of burnt out skyscrapers and burning ash heaps. It looks like this place has already seen the worst of the action. Tour the city a little and you will find that some of the citizens here survived the ďincident,Ē although you donít know exactly what that is yet.

 

These people have replaced their bombed-out buildings with temporary underground shelters they are still in the process of digging. They are the Spades, and while they look at you with some suspicion as an outsider, they are willing to be on good terms with you. After all, you are wearing the clothing style of a true Spadeland citizen, so youíre probably all right.

 

From these people you learn that their current ruler, King Reginald, is a fraud and a tyrant. He came into Spadeland with his army (made up mostly of lost souls he has called from the past) and made quick the hostile takeover of the Mountain. In his attack he captured and is holding hostage his own twin brother, Governor Jerry Carmichael.

 

Governor Carmichael rejected the family name apparently because it had a bad reputation for tyrant kings up north. HmmÖ pieces of the puzzle are coming together now. On top of this is the fact that the governor recently escaped from his prison and is now about to give a speech to the Spades at the Underground Festival Hall.

 

You arrive at the hall just as the speech is starting. Governor Carmichael does not look like Dastard all that much, so he mustnít be an identical twin. He is somewhat short, brown-haired, and still has the broken remains of shackles hanging from his wrist, and yet he is commanding in his speech.

 

Carmichael: Friends! My brother will soon find out I have escaped, so I will speak quickly. The entirety of our world is at war. King Aetre of Diamondland has stopped Dastard for now, but we cannot be certain how the stalemate will end, or how long it will last. The good King will try to attack soon, so we must be ready to join him. People, this is no time for cowardice. This is no time for fear. Though we face the souls of ages past we must fight, and we must fight now!

 

Man in Crowd: But how can we win when we face the dead? Who can fight them? Certainly, we stand no chance!

 

Carmichael: But we must try. These underground shelters are no safety to us now. All one has to do is cover all entryways and we are all buried alive.

 

Voice from the Doorway: Or we could just come in and slaughter you while youíre trapped.

 

And with that, five Lost Souls enter, armed with bow staffs like your own. You are the only person in the festival hall with weaponry to face them, so face them you must. When you win, the last enemy sets off a bomb device that causes the ceiling to fall on the area.

 

Carmichael: Quick! Everybody follow me!

 

The governor leads you and the people through a series of tunnels that eventually helps you escape. Make it outside and the governor will applaud your bravery and ask your name. On hearing ďDominick,Ē the crowd stirs and the governor kneels.

 

Carmichael: Why, only that name, by the legend, can lead the Spades to victory. I surely would have fallen short of defeating my brother, but youÖ you faced five Lost Souls and did not even flinch!

 

Lewis: What is this? I only faced those things because they attacked me. Why are you kneeling to me?

 

Carmichael: Could it be that you donít even know who you are? Lewis Dominick, you are the rightful heir to the throne of Spadeland!

 

*Notice how this comes as no shock to the gamer, but itís huge news to Lewis. This effect is intended because it in a way rewards the gamer for paying attention. Any time the player correctly predicts what is going to happen, so long as it does not happen too often, the gamer is rewarded with the confirmation of his / her suspicions.

 

Lewis: You mean Iím supposed to be a king?

 

Carmichael: A king? Lewis, this land, like my own Clubland, is tired of the oppression kings have laid upon it. The people do not call for a new oppressor. They call upon the Ace to defeat the tyrant King. Look around you.

 

Lewis looks around as the people join the general in kneeling.

 

Carmichael: You are young, Lewis Dominick, but you have proven your valor and saved the lives of us all. We cannot ask you to do more than you have already done, but the least I can do is offer you the Key to the City. If you accept our cry for help, the key will come in useful.

 

Carmichael gives you a huge key. Lewis takes a long look at it. Carmichael tells him that the key can be shrunk to fit in a pocket by pressing the red button on the side. Do this and you will have a giant key with you for the rest of your adventure. Gee, what a help. Of course, if you remember earlier, thereís a good place where a giant key could probably be handy by the upper path of the West Road. Before you go there, explore Spade Mountain Metropolis and see if you can get some more extracurricular help. Youíll meet some intriguing faces in this town, like Giovanni, the long-lost mob boss Alfredo is waiting for in the Heartbreak Hotel, among others.

 

At long length you take the high road and find yourself climbing Spade Mountain. You must defeat several Lost Souls along the way, some of whom seem to come out of nowhere, so remain on your guard. At the top is a gate that leads into the top of the mountain. Before you can enter, though, four somewhat large guards ambush you. Defeat them and you will hear a more-than-a-little-intimidating voice speak to you. You look up at hearing it to see none other than King Reginald Dastard standing atop the mountain looking down on you.

 

Dastard: Ah, and who is this? And why are you so hasty to kill my fine guards?

 

Lewis: I am Lewis Dominick, and I am sent by King Aetre to demand your surrender.

 

Dastard: Surrender? Ha! I have the king cornered in his wrecked Castle. And I doubt Aetre sent you in the first place. Even the dim-witted Diamond King could not be so stupid as to send a young boy to my mountain alone.

 

*A good rule of thumb is that whenever a character insults the author of this story, heís gonna die before the whole thing is over. Count on it.

 

Dastard: NoÖ I believe my brother sent you. Carmichael, you fool! And to deliver the Dominick into my hands so nicely! (Cruel laugh) And, Mr. Dominick, I have also met your little girlfriend, the one you call ďAlexandra.Ē Donít worry, sheís fine. You wonít find her here, either. You could say I made sure of it she went to a better place. (Chuckle)

 

Lewis stares in amazement as Dastard drops a badly bent ninja sword in front of you.

 

Dastard: But a child like yourself is not even worthy of facing an opponent such as I. Then again, you fought well against my guards. I will therefore offer you the chance to come through my castle and prove yourself. < The gate opens. > I will be waiting for you, Lewis.

 

Dastard opens a hole in the top of the mountain and drops through it, once again laughing in that sinister way he is known for. Hereís where I have set a little trap for the gamer. If he goes through the gate, conveniently unlocked for him, he heads to certain death in the Mountain Chamber. If he is smart, though, he will examine the sword laid before him. Hidden under the grip padding of the handle is a message, Kyís last note to Lewis.

 

*Remember: earlier I pointed out what a flaw it is for the same person to be captured by the enemy twice. Believe me, that is exactly what I am avoiding here by Kyís letter. You see, something has happened to Ky. Either she is dead (but we all know thatís impossible, donít we?) or sheís captured (but thatís impossible too, right?) or maybeÖ sheís got a plan and the whole death thing is a hoax (yes, that must be it). But I am too far into my game to start any new paradoxes or complicate the plot too much further, so if Iím gonna use this technique, I had better back it up with an explanation now. And Iíll have to explain everything. This is the time for secrets to be revealed, not presented, to the gamer.

 

As the letter is read, the screen changes to cinema setup. Roll the movie!

 

Lewis,

 

The day I pulled the switch I was trapped in the ruins of the ancient castle in Club Town, under the Library. I was left there to die by a certain roaming jester with the key to the entryway. Fortunately for me, your town just got obliterated, and the library is crushed. To make a long story short, the entire castle held its place except the doorway, so I escaped in the morning. Then I saw all of Dastardís troops outside. I managed to stay unnoticed because their attention was on Dastard, who was talking to a young boy in the Northern Leaf of the township. Lewis, I must say, it took a lot of courage to sit there and listen to such an intimidating man while completely helpless as you were. I tried to evacuate all the citizens of the town (maybe your aunt did not tell you about the evacuation), and by now youíve probably seen the survivors at my hometown, Safe Haven Village. Not everybody made it there, but I did the best I could. Anyway, when King Aetreís army arrived and you fled to the Woodlands, I was forced to flee by the North Road. I soon saw there was no escape, as Dastardís troops retook the entrance to the town, and I was trapped inside. I am currently writing this letter from the last tall tree standing in the town; the evil soldiers may know battle strategy, but in their armor, they still canít climb trees! I am using the sheets of paper Aetre gave me to post warnings about the bombing. I guess I canít use the papers for that now, so I am instead writing a series of notes I think will help you on your journey. If I am successful, then you have already seen all of them except this one. By the time I started writing this note, the good army had already pushed Dastardís troops away, so I guess it would be safe to come down from my perch now. But before I do, I must warn you of something: when you get to the top of Spade Mountain, donít go through the gate you see in front of you! Itís a trap, Lewis! According to the books in the library, there should be a secret entrance to the mountain lair in the ground below you. Clear the dirt, Lewis, and find the trap door in front of the gate. Itís the only way youíll ever reach Dastard alive! Now that Iíve written this letter, I will try to get it to Spade Mountain somehow. Donít worry about me, Lewis. I have a feeling weíll meet up again soon. Just keep your courage up, Lewis! Never lose the faith!

 

Ky

 

(still in cinema) Ky puts her letter under the grip of the sword and climbs down the tree. As she is walking, two men from behind attack her. They are both recognizable as two of the guards Lewis has just defeated. Ky fights, but her sword is knocked from her hands. She runs for safety into the Northern Woodland, the rest of her letters currently in her pocket. The guards cannot keep up with her while they have armor on, so they give up the chase.

 

Guard 1: (pant, pant) Itís no use. Weíll never catch her. King Reginald will be very disappointed.

 

Guard 2: (pant, wheeze) Donít worry, Bruno. I got the girlís sword. We can just tell his majesty we killed the girl and left her with the other bodies in Club Town. Surely the sword is proof enough we killed her, right?

 

Guard 1: What? Howís a sword gonna prove anything? And howís the king gonna know thatís her sword anyway? Any ninja from our side would use such a sword.

 

Guard 2: I dunno. Just put some blood on it from one of those corpses over there. Then weíll just say we couldnít bring the body back because it was too mutilated. Yeah, thatís it. Go get some blood on the sword, Bruno.

 

Guard 1: Yes, Ben.

 

Bruno runs off. End cinema. Coming up, Part 10: Heat.

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