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Four Reflections for Filler

This week I'll start a (really short and slap-dash) 4-F series on "Games that I knew were really bad, but that I thought I had to track down, under the (mistaken) impression I could have some fun with them."
Or, to summarize: Really Terrible Games that I thought would be fun...but I was wrong.. This week we'll look at Castlequest!
#1: Here's the title screen!
Yup, I've mentioned this game three times already but hadn't previously posted the title screen before.
(And looking at it...can you blame me?)
#2: What was I thinking?
Well, it wasn't such a bad idea on paper...
The first room makes it look pretty cool, like there's going to be a lot of item-gathering and exploration. The game's keys come in 6 different colors, for cryin' out loud!
Of course, game experience starts to curdle almost immediately as you try to engage in a butter-knife-fight with that knight guy. Then you'll discover you must press "B" while HOLDING the D-pad left or right to attack...and your attack has horrible range.
But I knew that going in, and I thought I'd check out the exploring/puzzle-solving aspects of the game. After all, I've mastered an excessively long maze-like blocky-sprite fantasy game or two in my day.
And hey, you get FIFTY lives! That's got to count for something, right?
#3: But it just gets worse, and the 2nd room pretty much illustrates why:
1 Yellow Key, 3 doors; which to choose?
Oh.
In case you can't tell, the "middle" door was the wrong choice: I can't get to the bottom left corner and pick up that pale blue key -- because I can't push that yellow/white/red brick block unless I'm on the same level as it (not in a divot below it). I have to pick up this "sucker prize" yellow key and try again in the previous room. And if I ever want that pale blue key, I'll have to use that yellow key on the lowest yellow door.
So, in the game's 2nd room, you're presented with a choice that has a wrong answer. You can't know which one is wrong before you choose, but if you choose incorrectly you waste some of the game's finite resources.
#4: Well, at least it's not the end of the world...
...yet
I'm almost certain that wrong choice won't make the game unwinnable. I did some read and heard that you can afford to waste a few of the most common keys. But I also discovered that there's a lot of ways to burn through the game's finite resources (waste a wrong key at a certain point of the game, or accidentally trigger the Aqualung before you mean to or going the wrong direction). Evidently it's not at all hard to leave your Castlequest in an unwinnable state.
So, those 50 lives? They're mainly there so you can screw up fighting with enemies (which is kind, because fighting is difficult enough, and that's without mentioning the invulnerable enemies). Even if you get the hang of combat and exploring, you'll still probably end up hitting the reset button many times as you learn (memorize?) the right keys/doors in the right order.
Though those 50 lives are worth a LITTLE, compared to...
the Japanese version, which only gives you 3 lives. I imagine this at least saves you from having to lean over and press the "reset" button, but until you get the hang of it, you're going to be starting from scratch every few mistakes...
But despite that, I'm not sure I can swear that the North American release is superior: here's the Japanese version's title:
EXCELLENT!
— carlmarksguy, 2016-07-25
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