Title: Almana no Kiseki
   Released by: Konami
   Release Date: August 11, 1987
   Japanese level: 1
   MSRP: 2980 yen
   Current Price: 1200 yen

It must be something in the water that the FDS developers drank: Many Disk System games come packed with special freebies, ranging from cheapo stickers to figures, toys, cassette tapes, and so on. Konami was no exception to this: in many of their games they included a "character card" inside the disk case. The card inside Almana no Kiseki (The Miracle of Almana) has our super stud hero character facing an army of scorpions and probably saying "Scorpions! Why did it have to be scorpions!" (well, probably not, but..). The back has a serial number and a note to keep the card in a safe place, presumably for any contest that called for a certain card number to come up.

Your anonymous hero's object is to recover a red jewel, the treasure of a remote village somewhere in Generic Third Worldia. Some evil dude whose name escapes me magically stole the stone, petrifying all the villagers to stone in the process, and is now waiting around for you to kill him six levels and a variety of adventurey landscapes away.

What's so notable about this game? First is the way you go around: In most generic platformers you jump from ledge to ledge, and you do this here too, but many platforms here are too high for you to jump to. So, instead of a whip like you'd think we have, there's a sort of rope or grappling hook that you can attach to platforms and climb up. Sort of a neat change of pace; I especially like how you can jump and throw the rope, causing the rope to become taut and climbable at an angle from thin air. I'm a sucker for these sort of infractions on the laws of physics (as if floating platforms themselves weren't).

You have weapons too. Six of them, actually - they range from the thirty knives that you start with (we really stocked up for this quest, can't you tell) to the bombs, maces and
guns that you find along the way. It's important to stock up on this stuff, and it's fairly easy to simply avoid enemies throughout the level - thus saving your weapons for the bosses at the end.

Nothing totally amazing, and nothing that Konami would have lost a ton of money not porting over to the US, but I always love the charm that Konami put into all of its 8-bit creations. The graphics and such are in standard company style, and the music is truly excellent - making full use of the Disk System's extra FM voice to give just the right bugle horn adventure sound to the whole thing. They should do a thing or two about the plot though...