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februari 25, 2013

Hi Saturn Navi arrived

It is the most expensive retro thing I've bought.  I am excited about it but also a bit disappointed. It is smaller than I thought and has a flat top. I think the skeleton This Is Cool looks cooler. I also didn't get an LCD screen with it. I did get some other accessories, such as straps and the GPS thing. But without the LCD screen there isn't much special about it and not worth its price.

I took a chance and bought it as "junk" and I am still happy I did, because these things are hard to find and very expensive. The console is in great condition, even if the box looks like it has been beaten up.

Supposedly "a couple of thousands" copies were sold. I am always sceptical about those claims. You find "fewer than 2000" mentioned and taken as a truth. In reality, the numbers aren't known. "Someone" claimed it... Based on what? Stop believing in whatever anonymous people write on web forums...

But still I think it is more fun to have a items that are uncommon because they didn't sell well. This console was too expensive at the time, 3x the price of a normal Saturn. Items that are released as dedicated "limited editions" are often collectibles and often they can be found in 10 000 unopened copies, and that takes away the fun I think. At least the Hi Saturn Navi was made to be an extreme product for high end users to be used, and not to put in a shelf to collect dust.

It is unlikely anyone would give me what I paid for it, so I think I'll keep it. It can play CD+G -- karaoke discs. Might be useful some day.

Update: I put it up for sale: http://www.tradera.com/hi-saturn-navi-system-auktion_302266_176318275

Kieta Princess and Fuuun Shourinken for FDS

While I am trying out my FDS games, I came to these two games.

Pretty depressing in my opinion. After playing I lowered their prices to 49 SEK (8$?).

Fuuun Shaolin Kyo or Shourinken is an early fighting game. Have you played Yie Ar Kung Fu or Urban Champion? Urban Champion was made by Nintendo and may be their worst game. Fighting games in those days really were fighting games and not what they became later. Controls are stiff because they are real.  But unfortunately all early fighting games are terribly boring. To be fair, Yie Ar Kung Fu has a certain charm to it. The speach they make when hitting "ya ya", "huh huh" gives it a comedic touch. The later Karateka for NES/Famicom is playable too.

Amazingly a guy on strategywiki has written pages on this Fuuun game. What a waste of bytes?
Attacks in this game are initiated by a direction, or a direction button combination. The direction that you input is relative to the direction that you are facing. Note that your character will not automatically turn around if the opponent is behind you. You must instruct your fighter to do so by pressing the appropriate direction. Refer to the chart below for a full listing.  -- http://strategywiki.org/wiki/Fuuun_Shourinken
Hardcoregaming said that the game is quite good. That's the first time a page is more positive than I am. ( http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/fighters/fighters4.htm )

After you die two times in Fuuun Shourinken you are game over. But on the first level you are game over if you die once. That's boring...

For the other game, Kieta Princess is a game so simple that I must say it is a crappy game, for real.

I tooke these pics from http://www.mobygames.com/game/nes/kieta-princess
Kieta Princess NES Starting out
 You start off in this simple puzzle like level. I honestly think a 5 year old could play this.

Kieta Princess NES This town is pretty large Then you come to the town. You walk around to collect clues. Strategywki has a page on this game too...
You must visit five different towns and collect information. Neary every house and building can be entered, which was unique for its time. The game also features a high degree of freedom, allowing you to visit restaurants for a bite, or a Dojo to train, or to hunt for vegetation to sell for money, while you are looking for the princess. The degree of difficult throughout the game is considered quite high, with very few hints to help you out, while other hints are misleading. -- http://strategywiki.org/wiki/Kieta_Princess
Being able to walk into all the houses and have freedom to interact with anyone reminded me of Pizza Tycoon and other Tycoon games on the PC. Except those game was fun. And all the text here is in Japanese, so it is impossible for most of us to make progress.

Maybe it is just that the freedom aspect of gameplay has developed so much in the last 15 years and these early games are too outdated. To be fair, this game is not the worst NES game. I think the developers had enough interesting ideas to create a playable game. But I am now confident about one thing: a lot of crappy famicom games involve someone walking around in a town.  

Kieta Princess game was sold with a notepad and a cassette tape you could listen for clues. I do think that box looks cool. I'll try to pick one up from Japan.

I didn't know there were so many bad FDS games. Bad memories of Chatran and Dirty Pair appear... I still tell people that the FDS is worth it just for the original classic games such as Zelda, Metroid, Kid Icarus, SMB2, Doki Doki Panic, Castlevania, and a couple of other titles. I do think so.

februari 24, 2013

Zanac (AI) for FDS

I never sold this game, but it seemed like a good game to me. So yesterday I tried it out. My main issue with shmups is that they often have limited continues. I only play limited continue games if they are so much fun that I don't mind restarting.

The NES version of Zanac has a start menu with a continue option. The FDS version doesn't have that, but luckily I have the manual and it says that Select+Start continues the game. This can be pressed as soon as the "Game Over" text is displayed. If you forget, you can press it at the start screen too. Starting with Level 5 the disk will then then re-read, but it only takes a few seconds in this game, maybe 5 seconds.

Zanac Screenshot

Zanac can be intense at times. I "cheated" with a turbo controller, but that is because I have the twin famicom with turbo and the turbo controller is the only controller I have. I don't think turbo is necessary though, because you can often just hold down the button.

Even if there is a lot of bullets on screen there are no slowdowns and I didn't notice any serious flicker either. I am impressed at how much the shmups matured from earlier games such as Xevious and Argus.

My goal was to play past level 4, and I made it all the way to level 11. On level 11 and 12, the last level, there are no continues. If you are game over, you continue at level 10. In the NES version there is a cheat around this, something with "Press Up, Down on 2 player controller, then Continue". I wasn't able to try this on the FDS version. Another NES cheat, the level select cheat, doesn't work on the FDS anyways (press Reset 13 times, etc).

The game has two kinds of power ups. The first one is in the three-boxes you see above. One of the boxes holds a shoot-powerup.

The other powerups is for the A attack. The A button has the alternative attack. There are 8 different alternative attacks and you can only have one at the time. It gets upgraded if you take another powerup with the same number. In the picture above, the ship has alternative attack #2, which is a front shield. Not one of the most powerful items but useful at times. I prefered number #3, which is an item that circulates your ship and is useful for both attack and defence. It takes away incoming bullets and kills enemies it touches.

The special attack you start with is #0, and that is quite good too because you can shoot in any direction. 

Here is a video from nesguide of Area 1. Area 1 is not that intense, but I think it is the longest one so it can be used for practice. A comment is that is looks like Guardian Legend, and it is because the games were made by the same developer. They also made Gun Nac.


The little extra feature of Zanac is that gameplay can get harder or simpler, depending on how you play. There is no guide on exactly how it works. It is claimed that shooting a lot will increase difficulty, but you will have to shoot enemies and stop shooting isn't an option. I noticed that with the shield powerup I got some tougher enemies at one stage. With a good powerups I think it is best to shoot as many enemies as possible so that you will get extra lives.

I enjoyed the strategy elements of the game. You have chose the secondary weapon you have with some care because they are so different for attack and defence. Because the incoming enemies are different in between plays it makes the game feel more alive. That's what the AI of Zanac stands for.

A gamefaqs FAQ gave useful "advice" on this game in the style of "So simple level. Shoot enemies and shoot the boss". But actually there is a lot more that can be said about strategy. What weapon to use, how to best kill the enemies, and how to avoid making the game harder.

The first couple of levels took me between 10-15 minutes. Level 9 got harder and took 1:15. Level 10 took 45 minutes. But because of no continues on level 11 I had to quit for the night.

I think I did well considering my limited shmup experience. It is because this game is fun and fair. Unlike Salamander / Life Force -- I don't know how an adult can bother playing such an unfair game for the first time. Occasionally you will read comments such as "Oh, Salamander isn't really that hard", "Oh, Gradius is quite simple". But it is relative to how much time you have. If I would have spent months of my childhood on Gradius I would also beat it easily, but I am older and can only give it a couple of hours (and I made it to just before the Brain). ;) Playing shmups is supposedly better when you are young and have lightning reflexes.

Most shmups are too hard for the occasional gamer. That is why they often didn't sell very well and the genre is a small niche compared to for example Dragon Quest.

This was the last level I reached. Area 11. 

februari 23, 2013

Boktai 2: Solar Boy Django for GBA

 Boktai 2: Solar Boy Django (EU)

About two years ago, before I started with Japanese games, I played Boktai 2 for GBA. I played the European version that has English text.

Action/RPGs or RPGs isn't my favorite type of game. They take too long, and after a while I forget the story. It also takes time to learn how to equip spells and everything else with the gameplay. And I also think the games are just too long for me...

None the less, I wanted to try out this game for the interesting feature of solar detection. The cart has a little solar detector, similar to a calculator. It will detect how strong the sunlight is. You need the sunlight to charge the energy that is used for magic.

 ScreenshotI played it during the summer two years ago. A nice side effect is that I got a lot of sun that summer. But then there was a week or two of cloudy weather and I had to stop playing and then I forgot about the game. You can play when it is cloudy but the sun is a lot weaker making it longer to recharge. If it is really cloudy you can't play and obviously you only play during the day. Technically you can play, but you can't recharge your character's energy. And some puzzle require the sun energy.

One of few action/rpgs I have played is Diablo, so I think I can say this game is like Diablo. Or should I say Landstalker? You go around slashing your enemies. You equip spells and talk to people. Every now and then there is a puzzle you need to solve. Sometimes the puzzle makes use of the sun in clever ways. For example, sometimes the sun will shine through a window in a house your character is inside. You may need to cover the detector with your hand to have items move around on the screen.

The reason I picked out the game today is because I bought a UV light for retrobrighting a while ago. It is 15W low energy which is maybe 50W "normal" energy. It brings up the Sun energy a couple of levels, not as much as I thought actually. I suppose stronger UV light would be good for my retrobrighting. Unfortunately my eyes are sensitive to this UV light for some reason.

Well, if you enjoy these kind of games I think it is well worth trying, but unless you have a UV lamp you need to have a period of sunlight.

Youkai Yashiki for FDS

I played some of Youkai Yashiki for the FDS this evening. Unfortunately, I got stuck at the end of level 2 , and after 2-3 hour without progress I decided to quit. I looked at strategywiki for the answer and I'm not sure I would have guessed it.

Personally, I don't like when games change the rules just to add difficulty, as in "if you stand in a specific spot, hold the red crystal and duck 5 seconds, it will warp you to the next level" (simon's quest). Okay, so this game is certainly not as hard as Castlevania II, but the solution is still not something I would've thought of trying. But it isn't too strange, other people might have found it.

I suspect it will be even harder on the next level, so I will give up playing it.

The game has nice graphics. It is a platforming game but you have to find the talismans on each level. Sometimes there are hidden areas, walls that aren't walls, and so on. I read that level 3 has a lot of invisible ladders too.

Graphics looks like Master Blaster. Gameplay resembles Milon's Secret Castle somewhat. As for the music it's nothing out of the ordinary, but acceptable.

Some screenshots from gamefaqs.
Youkai Yashiki (JP)

Apart from finding the five talismans on each levels, you also have the enemies to avoid. I think it is an original concept. You have a flashlight, and the lower your life bar, the shorter the flashlight will reach. The life is technically the batteries.

There are powerups (batteries) to pick up, and little poles that fills your life bar if you kneel while holding a helmet item.

Shooting a firefly will also fill your life bar. You can go back and forth between screens to fill up.

The game has umlimited continues on each level if you are game over, and that is always appreciated. Figuring out how to beat a level can take hours. But once you know how to beat a level, it will only take 5-10 minutes.

Well anyways, I hope people start to appreciate how many good unknown games there are on the famicom disk system, even if I couldn't make it far in this one.

februari 21, 2013

Nazo no Kabe for FDS (Crackout)

In the last two days I played a little game called Nazo No Kabe. It is also known as Crackout for the NES.

The cover looks weird but I think it is an alright game. It is made by Konami and is another quality product with good graphics. Too bad there is no music in the game.

The game is a "Breakout clone". I have played Arkanoid and Arkanoid II for the famicom earlier. The problem with those games is that you have no continue as far as I can remember. It's pretty annoying to start over all the time.

I have also played Alleyway and Kirby's Block Ball on the Game Boy. Alleyway is very simplistic and also has no continues. But Kirby's Block Ball is a great game and probably the best Breakout retro game. It has a battery save and several interesting features, such as paddles on the sides on some levels. But I felt it was very long. Someone wrote that it has 100 levels. After a while I just leave games like that and forget them.

In Nazo No Kabe you can also save on each level. If you die your 5 lives and are game over, you can just start with 5 new lives. The level starts over though. To keep the challenge, you have to play some tricky levels, including the one above that may have taken me 10 minutes to beat. After a while I understood the gameplay better and beat the levels faster.

The controls are simple. Move left and right. With the B-button you move faster.

You get some power upgrades sometimes. Most are obvious, but it should be noted  that you may need to activate them with the A button. The rocket will be shot with A. To make it explode press A again. You need to know this to beat one of the levels. The extra ball is activated with A, and can be activated again two times.

The little extra touch for this game is that you need to find the letters... like a crossword where you need to search for the hidden word. In the end you have to input the letters in the correct order to spell a word (or two words). The letters appear on the side. Like this one from one of the later stages:

I read about the game before I finished it, and I already saw the password. I didn't know I should write down the letters so it was a good thing anyways. Don't worry, I'm not going to say what it is.

In the FDS version you can replay the levels you have beaten if you didn't get the letter. Only some levels have letters.

The FDS version has a save function, unlike the NES version that uses passwords. In the start screen you also select what Area to play.

After you beat it successfully you get this crown or whatever it is. Maybe it serves some purpose.

Each world took around 45-60 minutes. There are 4 worlds and each world has 13 levels. The last levels took a little longer though. 

The end. Some music was played.

februari 19, 2013

Labyrinth for Famicom

After I sold Labyrinth I wanted to play it. Luckily I had another cart that my colleague has flashed with English text so I can play it. Thank you!

From what I can tell, the game would have been playable in Japanese too, but I don't want to risk that. I think it is useful to get those small hints. For example you will be told you need to get the key and the coin. If you don't know that, it will be very difficult. That's not the game's fault.

I always wondered why the game was only released in Japan. Maybe it had to do with rights to the movie and soundtrack. Also wonder why the game is not more popular. I think many people have bad taste in game, or they prefer nostalgic games from their childhood.

Anyways, the game is based on the movie of the same name. I saw it around 10 years ago, but I don't think it was popular over here. It is an interesting film with Jennifer Connelly and David Bowie.

As for the game, you walk around in an over head perspective. Instead of calling it a Zelda perspective I will call it a RoboWarrior perspective.
The game is called Labyrinth for a reason. It can be pretty tricky. I think you will always made good progress, once you understand how it works. I will make a short explanation.

You start the game and after looking around you enter the main gate. From there you will be able to enter a building of some kind. Moving north you get to a grass place, which is the center of the game. In the middle of this place is a Wise Man. He will tell you how to get to the next level. There are four ways to exit the place with the Wise Man: North (up), East (right), South (down) and West (left). He will say for example "Go West for 1", that means you will go to level 1 if you exit left.

On each level you must take a key and a coin. The key is required for the next level. You can take the coin later, but you still must take all coins before you can enter the castle and rescue your brother. The two items are hidden somewhere on the level.

You can find other items to help you, or you can buy them from a guy that appears sometimes.

You can also find hearts. When you give one of your helpers three hearts, you can summon him and then you control both players at the same time. Press B to make your helper stop walking. I have a photo of me and my helper in the picture above.

There are 12 levels and 12 keys. I got a couple of them before I had to quit for the day. Actually I got Game Over. The game has no continues so I will start over some other day.

The main difficulty is in finding the right way through the labyrinth. If you don't find it, you will drain your time which is your life. If enemies hit you, you lose time. If you walk around alot, you will get hit alot. You can buy time from the Wise Man or use the Book item, but you still must avoid getting hit and you must try and find the right way. When you have played a level once, you'll complete it much faster the next time.

I think it is a fun game and no manual is required other than what is explained on this page. I played a couple of hours without any guide, and think I could beat it if I have enough time. It should be mentioned that the game may seem unfair. You can warp from one stair to another, but if you go back, you may warp to a third place. But there is always a way.

Update 2013-02-19: Game beaten. I took some help from strategywiki on the last levels, but I am happy I did. The game took around 1:30 hours to beat, including breaks, mistakes, looking in the guide and other things.

februari 17, 2013

Elevator Action and Asmik Kun World II for Game Boy

 Asmik-kun World II Elevator Action (JP)
I played two game boy games yesterday.

I've started playing with Super Game Boy, so I don't strain my eyes.

Asmik Kun World II is the sequel to Asmik Kun World that was released in the US as Boomer's Adventure. The sequel is however different. In this game, you must build a path from start to goal.

You have a limited amount of tiles and you must use them all, no more no less. Usually there is only one solution. Here I found it on that level.

While you are building, one of your children will pop out of the house. After a while the "bad guy" to the left in the first picture will start to follow your child to try and catch him. If you meet with the bad guy you will fight him in a bomberman kind of game.

If you beat all the baddies in that screen you will force the enemy back.  If he beats you, he will take the child with him.

If he takes all your children, you will be game over. But you can always continue on the exact same course with 3 new children so it actually doesn't matter.

The game has a password system that consists of some letters. If you put them together they form a sentence...


The levels are all pretty simple and the first levels all go by nicely. It is more trial and error than thinking ahead. After 4-1 the levels take a longer time because you get to several puzzle screens on each level. You don't get any new passwords either. From 4-1 to the end of 4-3 must have taken more than an hour. I had to quit at the start of 4-4 which is the last level. For more info and the ending screen there is this page in Japanese: http://www14.atwiki.jp/gball/pages/463.html

The game has nice music, good graphics and low frustation level. The bomberman action is original for a puzzle game. I think it is a good game for children 7-12 years old. It is entirely in English. I rate it 4/5.

Before that I had played Elevator Action. I have previously played the famicom version. The Game Boy version is nice because it is much simpler. The concept is this: You move through elevators. You must enter all "!" doors in the building before you can exit. You can enter "?" doors to get powerups.

A little trick is that the powerups you get depends on the hundred digit of your points. Opening doors is a little confusing, but I think you stop outside of it and wait, to enter automatically.

After a while there will be dogs and robots. The robot can be killed with two shotgun shots but they are pretty tough. But you can actually walk together with the robots without taking damage.

That's as for as I got. If you die your lives you are game over and must start over, which is annoying.

The game boy version is still simpler than the NES/Famicom version. You have a life bar, and you get an extra life with every 10 000 point, which usually happens at least one per level. The enemies are also simpler from what I remember. And lastly, if you forget to take one ! room, you will be transported there automatically and the end of the house.

I don't know if the game has an ending. I couldn't find anyone who beat it. A youtube comment said that after level 1-6 you start over again at 2-1 and the enemies are harder. Because there is no continue function I know of, I'll only rate it 3/5. It still has good music, nice graphics, and it is fun to go around shooting enemies. You can also kill enemies by kicking them or squashing them with the elevator. Be creative. You can even shoot down the lamps, but then the lights will flicker...

Update: I played a little more. If you beat level 1-4 (that is with the robot, in the picture above), you get to rescue your girl, and you go back to the same building as in 1-1, but it is called 2-1 and has harder enemies. Still no continues.

februari 13, 2013

Famicom cart storage

I store some of my famicom games in cassette racks for music tapes. They are actually of the same size. But it would help if the games had top labels.

Some mods we do

We do a bunch of different console mods and can probably do some others... I have some skilled friends to help me. :)

Here is our unobtrusive and cheap famicom AV modd. Also gives an improved picture.  The label might not be perfect , that's because I put it there.

Here is the professional looking and cheapest SNES/SFC mod. But this is mainly for people who want to play both PAL and NTSC (JP/US) games.

A Mega Drive region mod. 

A Pc Engine Ten No Koe 2 with RGB output. This beats the DIM contacts, because the Scart cable is a standard cable. Also beats modding your pc engine console.

A Game Boy mod. Backlights and RCA contacts for ProSound. You can also chose to keep your existing ear phone contacts with ProSound, install a pitchmod and other things.

A mod of SG 1000 II was shown further down on the page.

We also do chip region mods but they cost a little more because there is often more work to them... I want to focus on providing the cheapest option.

Also modding Saturn and Dreamcast consoles! But those consoles cost a lot to chip internationally.

februari 11, 2013

Serpent and the Lion King for game boy

My free times continues so I'll make short reviews of some games I played short times...

Serpent (US)Serpent, or Kakomun Hebi in Japan
Serpen, or Kakomun Hebi in Japan, is a Snake game that is well made. It has the appropriate graphics and a music that is catchy and more than you would expect. I don't think a snake game needs better graphics. The gameplay is updated with powerups, and the little new idea is that you don't explode if you hit your opponent, but your head starts to swell. After a while you explode.

Powerups are created when you encircle an area.

I can't play this game well because you press A to steer right, and Left to steer left. I remember that the Right button is for powerups. I'm too old to relearn how to steer a snake and kept on dying, unfortunately. But I think if you are young and can relearn, you will enjoy this game.

 Disney's The Lion King (EU)
Another game with weird controls is The Lion King for game boy. This game wasn't released in Japan (good for them). The graphics and sound are all pretty good, but the game has the Prince of Persia control scheme, meaning you can't jump when you want to. You can only jump precisely on the first step, and on the seond, and so on. Never in between. Most of the game consists of timing your jumps. What a shame... The game is otherwise well made.

Look at him falling down all the time...

I did beat the first level but died all my lives and continues on the second level. Twice, I think I tried. Bad controls are so annoying... I wonder if they tried out the game before they sold it?

februari 10, 2013

Meikyuu Jiin Dababa for FDS

I have a period with some free time to play games and figured I would try this one out. Made by Konami and only released on the famicom disk system.

It's a nice little action game with a little bit of puzzle to it. I think the puzzles may be the hardest part, but that's only because the action is straight forward. I decided to play the game without walktrough to get the right feeling for it. At a couple of levels I almost gave up, such as 3-4. But there is always a way, and it's not too unfair.

On most levels you need to uncover the floor tiles with a White mark on them. I suggest to pick up other powerups too if you find them.

The only real instruction about movements you need is: press A to jump straight up. Hold A and press a direction on the D-pad to make a long jump in that direction.

When you have uncovered all white tiles, a book will appear revealing one or more exits... The levels can be tricky but are never too hard and a little trial and error will do it.

Some levels are a bit diffierent. Without saying too much, I can give the hint that you need to hit certain object a lot (6-7 times) to make something appear. This can also uncover secrets.

The boss battles may seem tricky at first but it is mainly because of your strange hopping movement. When you have figured the bosses out they are quite simple.

You get to continue on each world after game over, and no world takes more than 10 minutes replay with accurate play. It is player friendly. Some areas may seem unfair when you are warped back, but it is never too much effort to work your way back again. And I think it is fun to play anyways.

I think the game has the typical Konami well made graphics and music. I also have no issues with the gameplay. A possible complaint is that it is relatively short and once you've beaten it there isn't that much to do. Maybe there is some extra option but I don't know what that would me. It saves after you beat it, so maybe there is something.

Why does a monk save a girl? And why no end credits?

februari 09, 2013

Druid for FDS beaten

I found another disk to play instead of the one I sold and sent. I have a lot of disks laying around. That was fun. :) Pretty short too, once I understood it, it took 20 minutes.

I read in strategywiki that the ending you get depends on a these factors: How many chests you have opened, how many helpful items you collected, and how many enemies you killed.

Next time I'll open fewer chests and not take so many helpful items, so I will not become "half wit". Update: I played it a couple more times and became "Acolyte" with 410 points. But it's hard if you don't know what is most important, and just killing enemies is boring.

It could be useful to inform the youtube kiddies on how to play the game, so they don't make a WTF video of 30 seconds gameplay.

In the first treasure chest you see in the game, chose the "Down" option and select the key. If you select any other item, you can not get the key and have to restart the game.

The treasure chests hold the magic and also the items. You should chose items in most cases, unless you need ammunition. Most important are the keys. If you don't have enough keys you can't make progress. You must also have the Chaos to destroy the 4 giant heads. The golum isn't essential, and Invisible spell is useless.

After you select the item, the FDS version has the unique feature of have another set of extra items. These are interesting because they can help you or ruin your game. http://strategywiki.org/wiki/Druid/Items Here is an important trick: if you don't want to select one of the extra items, press B. If you happen to chose an item such Heaven or Drunk you might as well restart the game.
"Take Items" -- the extra items I collected when the game ended.

To change between normal Item, paus the game. Then press B to change between items, and A to change between spells. The main important items are: Key to open doors, Golem to summon a golem, and Chaos to defeat the giant heads.

The golem is a fun creature. With Select you chose what he will do: Wait, Follow, Attack, or 2Player (as in the screenshot). So you can play 2Player with the golem if you want.

In order to go to the next level, you must destroy the giant head on the level if there is one. Otherwise the stair will just take you back to the previous level. To defeat the heads, you need to touch it and then cast Chaos.

You have 5 continues (I think) if you die and they let you start right were you died, so it's more like you have 5 lives.

The maps on strategywiki are useful but not entirely correct for the FDS version.
The end of another one of those obscure FDS games. As I have mentioned earlier there are a couple of them.