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Posted by syn9 
Status Finished 
Prog. language FreeBASIC 
Last update 17-07-2005 
Links Website; Download;

Programming / Graphics : Syn9
Music / Sound Effects : David Turner
Beta Testing : Kiz, Deleter, Cha0s, Aether Fox


Download Link Now Available

Review by js71 on 18-07-2005
Well, where to start...
I suppose this is a somewhat anticipated title, even more so as it is developed almost entirely by Syn9, known most for his extremely impressive 3d demos. While this particular game is indeed 2d, Syn9 certainly doesn't let that stop him. The moment you encounter the first boss, a strange nearly cactus-like dragon-- bringing back memories of Zelda 3's Moldorm yet somehow being completely different as it bobbles and sways dangerously to and fro-- you catch a glimpse of just what the game is capable of.

The Griffon Legend makes extensive use of a chain-like style of animating large monsters (the 'proper' title I'm not sure of, though I've come to know it as bio-animation), linking many smaller sprites together to form massive, rather fearsome bosses and mini-bosses. Without revealing too much, I will say that if you think you've seen it all after the first boss, you are most definately quite wrong.

However, despite such impressive techniques, the rest of the game's graphics are at times somewhat... confusing. While some of the tilework certainly shows the skill of Syn9's capable hands (though there are some that seem a bit thrown together), it often becomes far too busy-- more than once I found myself wondering just why I couldn't leave the screen when it looked very much like I should be able to, or pausing for a moment to 'decipher' a room. Sometimes there is almost no difference in appearance between a 'high' floor and a 'low' floor, making it seem like there is simply an invisible barrier between the two.

The game's sprites do the job fairly well; while being nothing too flashy they certainly aren't dull either. Everything that isn't done through the chain-style of animating mentioned earlier is well enough animated; standard four-frame walk cycles and usually as many attack frames. Your character attacks by leaping forward and doing a mid-air flip with his blade out, effectively lunging at the enemy in a whirling ball of feathers and steel.

While I'm on the topic of characters, I might as well elaborate. There really isn't that much character development or even any other griffons or friendly characters in the game apart from the one you play, but to be honest that's really not a problem. I have a feeling the focus of the game is to be a fun experience, not to have an overly deep or compelling plot and characters. The only hints of a story you receive are in the intro and outro of the game, but they are sufficient to let you know what's going on. Both are fairly well-written, and while I did spot an error or two, they get their point across quite well, especially the ending.

There's nothing bland or drawn-out, really-- the moment you start a new game you are presented with the short intro text and are then immediately plunged into the game without further dialogue or hinderances, and left alone to battle your way past your foes, the Dragons. While some spots may seem a bit difficult, I never had too much of a problem after a few tries. Apart from a couple screens that are devoid of opposition, the action never really stops, so you can be assured it's far from a boring experience. However, such an approach does have its flaws. There were a couple rooms that seemed a bit crowded, reminding me slightly of some of the more... chaotic rooms of the later dungeons in the original Zelda for the NES. Of course, it's a small complaint really, hindering the game only slightly and occasionally.

I cannot comment on the music, as my computer's sound is currently not working all too well, so I can't say much about that aspect. However, I quite enjoyed the game without it, and if it's at least half-decent then I'm sure it will only enhance the experience.

Now, moving back to the more technical aspecs-- the actual mechanics of the game: For the most part it's simple. Below your character is a set of three (two at first, actually) bars: Health, Attack, and Magic. The 'attack' meter fully depletes itself each time you attack, and slowly charges back up again immediately afterwards. (it recharges faster as you gain levels) The higher it is, the more powerful the attack. The same applies to the magic meter, except for spells. The spells themselves are executed flawlessly; after beating the first boss you receive a crystal-- now, I'm not exactly sure of the usage, but 'using' this crystal (used just like a spell, which I'll get to in a moment) in either different areas or around different enemies (as I said, not sure exactly) causes you to 'find' spells. There are four spells in total, each of them quite useful. Be sure to discover them all! To cast a spell, you simply access the submenu (pausing the game) and choose your spell. You then choose your target (play is still frozen at this point, likely so the action doesn't get too chaotic) and select it to cast the spell, at which point the game resumes. Each spell has a meter that charges up after each use; you may only use the spell when this meter is full. This, coupled with the more general magic/attack meters, adds a good dose of strategy.

While not being the longest game around (somewhat of a mini-rpg really, I beat it in roughly a couple hours), it offers a good chunk of some classic gameplay without any needless droning cutscenes or overly flashy bits. Of course, it's not the most polished game, lacking enemy death animations even for the larger baddies and bosses (which can look a bit odd at times, suddenly seeing them wink out of existence without any transition whatsoever) and posessing a fair share of bugs-- nothing too serious, though-- but it all has some sort of charming appeal. Maybe it's just me: perhaps it's the use of the wonderful chain-like animation, or the fact that the main character is a sword-wielding, tail-bearing griffon knight, or the direct and to-the-point gameplay... But regardless of personal opinions and preferences, I can see this becoming a fairly popular little game among the community. Despite its flaws, Syn9 has created quite a fun and entertaining experience.
Review by Mandrake on 30-07-2005
This game has a great professional sheen to it. Everything feels and works like it should, and is just impressive from the get-go. Although, some of the graphics are bit meh (ie: not enough contrast in the backgrounds, there was one time I looked around and realized- oh hey there were trees in the background! how'd they get there?), the rest are all shiney and cool looking.

This game is hard, mind you. Not a little hard, but old skool beat the shit of you the minute you pressed start hard. And that's a good thing. I like to take a beating from my games. It makes them fun.

This could easily be the poster child for FreeBasic.
Review by Sirocco on 31-07-2005
I've always been a fan of Syn9's work, and he doesn't shy away from unusual ideas. First off, this game is a solid action game with some light exploration elements. Essentially, you slash your way through each area looking for a key or event or whatnot that allows passage to the next area.

First, the good stuff:

The menus look spiffy and do what they need to do. There is a somewhat functional map, but it doesn't go into detail such as marking rooms you've visited, enemy strength/density, etc. It's just a map. Combat has a quick, bouncy pace as you jump around hacking enemies to bits. The magic attacks are well animated and are actually effective (for the most part). The rooms and locales are detailed and do not suffer from "huge room syndrome" that most RPG developers fall for. There are little touches like the fog overlay and blood on the floor spikes that add a lot to the atmosphere.

Being able to discover new spells depending on what room you're in is a nice idea, although I found it a little too easy to find spells -- although that may have just been dumb luck on my part. Some of the bosses are very well animated, and have a sort of SoM feel to them, which is fantastic. The balancing on the bosses feels about right, requiring a few healing potions, but nothing so absurd as to drain all your reserves just to make a scratch in their armor.

Now, the not so good:

The music... is not suited to the game. It belongs in a sci-fi or modern gothic setting, and quite frankly gets on my nerves rather badly after a while. The quality is pretty good; no complaints there. Attacks are prone to jumping you out of bounds, where you get stuck until you jump back... leaving you vulnerable to enemy attack. The lack of polish becomes glaringly apparent when you die and instantly return to the main menu without so much as a "You dead, foo" message, or anything like that. While the spells are well animated, there are no death animations whatsoever, even a simple fade out would have been sufficient.

While the rooms are dense and full of detail, the lack of contrast means that depth is terribly hard to discern. This makes the game a bit of a chore to get around in, as you're constantly bumping into walls that you thought were floor. This is especially bothersome in the outdoor stages, and can be absolutely maddening if you don't notice a set of stairs in the corner, and end up wandering around for minutes looking for what should be obvious.

The difficulty is very steep, and just when you feel slightly comfortable with the enemies, you enter a new area and are immediately slaughtered. While this is somewhat acceptable, the start of the game is no exception, and can feel frustrating when you have to play the game ultra-conservatively for the first half hour or so. One wrong move and you're dead! Fortunately, saving and loading are painless and effective. This feeling is somewhat diminished once you acquire some supplies and spells with which to wage sustained battles.


This is a fine title worthy of play. I enjoyed it despite its abundant shortcomings, and give it a 7 without reservation. I think with some refinements it might jump to an 8.
Review by kbomb987 on 31-07-2005
I like the smooth fading and the action gameplay, but I've tried this game twice and can't find any way to get to the next screen. In trying to find a way out, both times, I get stuck on a tile in the upper left corner of the first screen. I have to exit the game because the character is frozen there. The other reviews talk about bosses consisting of multiple tiles moving together, which sounds cool, but I can't get past the first screen to see any of them :)
Review by Jocke The Beast on 31-07-2005
First of all, it's great to see a rpg that isn't using the turned-based battle systems that has ruined (in my opinon) so many great rpgs...the classic Final Fantasy (chose A for attack or D for defend or R for run...etc.etc.) battle system. Well, The Griffon Legend is a action rpg similar to Zelda and other similar games (a genre that I love to play).

The graphics are nice done but in some screens the contrast is very low and it's hard to see what's featured on the screen. So it can be a little irritating to try to walk on a space you think is walkable and be surprised to see that it wasn't...

The music is great. One can say that the music feels missplaced but in my opinion it doesn't matter since the effect of the music is so nice. I love the background music and don't care that it sounds like's neat!

The story is short but does the job...A action rpg with the focus on battles instead of npc-talking don't need a 3 page story.

Overall: I think it's a well made game that actually is funny to play, something that isn't so common these days...sure alot of games are nice to look at and have nice music but not many games are really that funny to play. I love this genre of games and think it's great to see one action rpg made using FreeBasic that rocked my world for a couple of hours.
Review by tcaudilllg on 03-08-2005
This game does a good job of recalling the olde Glory Days of the NES. Back then, it didn't matter whether a game looked real or not. Games were always sparse with few sprites, because the NES could only keep a handful onscreen at the same time without going spazzy. The gameplay was good, however, because having so few objects onscreen at the same time, made it very easy to fine tune the relationships between them. Griffen Legend demonstrates well coordinated gameplay.

The art is good. Not perfect, but in all seriousness if [i]The Secret of Mana[/i] were rereleased today it probably wouldn't be critiqued for it's own lack of distinction between tiles. Instead, it would probably be judged as a specific form of art, and it is under that criterion that I don't judge it too harshly, although it is perhaps a bit inappropriate for the game's setting.

So much has been said already, there is little other point that I can see to make (for this game already speaks volumes for itself) except to again emphasize that this is, as Mandrake has said already, old-school. At its best, and with all of its flaws.
Review by Verious on 03-08-2005
I haven't had a chance to play the game extensively, but based upon my first impressions I really like how smooth the controls respond and the overall feeling and atmosphere of the game.

This game does an excellent job of achieving the sometimes elusive "fun factor"; with a hero that jumps around as he attacks and enemies that breathe fire the game throws you right into the action.

There are a few things that detract somewhat from the overall experience. The music doesn't really seem suited to the genre of the game; however, the tempo does add to the overall tension and drama of the gameplay. On several of the screens it was difficult to tell which direction was the exit of the room and which tiles were walls and which tiles were the floor.

The graphics are quite good overall and show a high level of refinement. I'll definately be playing this game more.

Keep up the good work.