Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Game 1 - Fire Emblem Wrap-up


Fire Emblem: Dark Dragon and the Sword of Light (ファイアーエムブレム 暗黒竜と光の剣)  
Release Date: 4/20/1990  
System: Famicom, later remade on the Super Famicom and Nintendo DS  
Designer: Kaga Shozo, Intelligent Systems  
Publisher: Nintendo

  1. Turn type: Player turn/enemy turn.
  2. Maps: Fairly large. Terrain gives evade bonuses, but nothing else. No height.
  3. Character customization: None.
  4. Character development: Standard XP level system. Stat gains based on innate "growth rates" that differ by character. At level 10, some characters can promote to an upgraded class with the right item. 
  5. Party size: There are a total of 52 characters in the game (51 total can be acquired). At most 15 can be deployed in any stage.
  6. Equipment: Each character has 4 items, including weapons and usable items. There is no armor.
  7. Game flow: Each stage follows the previous one; maps cannot be repeated. There is no exploration or intermission screen between maps. No alternate paths or secret maps.
  8. Saving: Only after completing a stage. A temporary "suspend" save can be made during a stage. 
  9. Death: Permadeath.


Reviewing retro games can be difficult because it's hard to know what standpoint you should look at them from. The reason I called this "impressions" rather than a review is that I don't want to give any suggestion that this is an objective review. This is simply my own experience playing these games -- someone who has been playing video games since the early 1980s. I can't put myself in the mindset of how I might have thought of this game if I had played it in 1990. So at times my comments are unfair from the standpoint of what we could reasonably expect of Kaga and the other developers at the time. Given what they had to go on at the time I think they did a really good job with the game. And of course they get a lot of credit for starting a franchise that is still going strong 28 years later, and doing a lot to start the SRPG genre.

I'll get the bad stuff out of the way first. There are two problems that hurt my enjoyment of the game. The first is the item handling interface. Each person can only hold 4 items. There's no intermission screen where you can transfer items, so everything has to be done on the map. You can store extra items in a storage unit. But buying, transferring, storing, and retrieving items is painful. I would often put it off because I didn't want to deal with it. There are other issues with the interface as well -- not being able to easily see movement ranges, not being sure how much damage anyone is going to do without manually calculating formulas.

The second problem is the permadeath of units. I can't deny that this adds a lot of tension and strategy to the game -- you can't simply throw all your units forward in a mad rush and win as long as you beat the boss, or abuse the arena to power level. But it's too easy to lose a character because of an unlucky critical hit, or because you made a placement mistake or forgot to check an enemy inventory. When this happens 40 minutes into a stage it's very demoralizing. In fact this is why I have never finished a Fire Emblem game before this one. I found that my compromise of one save state per stage worked pretty well. It still meant that I couldn't just move units without thinking, but a simple mistake didn't send me all the way back to the beginning. I always wondered if the designers intended for you to lose characters and keep playing (they give you 51!) but judging from the developer comments that doesn't seem to be the case.

The game balance is spotty. The classes and characters vary widely in ability -- the axe users, for instance, get poor weapons and generally bad stats, and can't promote. The Social Knights start out much better (with greater movement, weapon choice, stats) and can promote. You can probably win the game with all kinds of parties but it's nice when the characters are closer in ability.

There is the opportunity for a fair amount of strategy in the game. Unit placement is extremely important because of how easy it is to get ganged up on and killed in the enemy turns. Going slow helps a lot with this, but often the designers have encouraged faster play by including thieves that steal chests and destroy towns, or reinforcements that start coming out if you take too long.

The storyline is really nothing to speak of -- most of the characters barely exist beyond an initial dialogue, and the plot is all given in the instruction manual. You know at the beginning of the game you're going to recover the Falchion and beat Medius, and that's what you do.

Overall I think this is an impressive effort for 1990, and it still held together pretty well for me. The rough edges are to be expected from a game of this era, particularly one that was still inventing a genre. I wouldn't particularly recommend the game except for FE or SRPG fans who really want to see how the franchise/genre started. If you're interested in the characters or (fairly light) story, you might as well play the remake in Mystery of the Emblem, or the total remake for the DS.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Game 1 - Fire Emblem (Stages 23-25)

I have to admit at this point I was getting a little tired of the game so I tried to see if I could use the Warp Staff to power through the last stages. It sort of worked, but there were a number of unforeseen hiccups.

Stage 23 - The Evil Priest Garnef
"The final fight against Garnef in the legendary city of Thebes."

I gave Marik the starlight magic and had him warp up next to the throne boss, although I noticed later that Marth was able to hurt him with the Mercurius as well. Since Marik would die and Marth wouldn't, I just sent Marth up to the top to finish the stage. This would later bite me in the butt because there are several fake Garnefs, and the one on the throne is not the real one. So I beat the stage without getting the Falchion, which is all but necessary to defeat the final boss.

Garnef is defeated, and can't realize his goal of defeating Medius himself. But he mocks Marth as he dies. Now Marth's sister Ellis finally appears.

She has a resurrect staff, which can be used in the next stage.

Stage 24 - The Kingdom of the Mamkute
"Drua Kingdom. This was the kingdom of the Mamkute people..."

This stage is easy to warp clear; I sent Abel down there with a Dragon Killer to deal with the boss and then moved Marth in to the castle. There's a place to resurrect dead people below but the only one dead was Kashim (from way before) so that didn't seem necessary.

Stage 25 - The Chosen Ones
"The fight against the Dark Dragon Medius. Marth's last deciding battle."

This is the last stage, and it's a tough one. Not only does it have strong grunts with reinforcements, but your team starts off split into four and dispersed around the map. You have no direct way to control the placement. Also this is where I noticed that I did not have the Falchion. Fortunately I had a save state back on stage 23 that I could go back to and beat the real Garnef. In doing so I lost Marik, but that seemed a reasonable price to pay.

Second problem was that none of my mages started near Marth. Someone on the Discord reminded me that if Marth has a Warp Staff, he can pass it to Gato, who joins on this map and appears near Marth. So I went back to stage 24 to do that.
Even then it didn't work. Marth got killed before he could even face Medius, who is behind another powerful Mamkute.

My next effort was to first send Abel there with the Gladius. Although he was not able to kill the Mamkute, he killed both of the Snipers, which was very helpful.
While this was all being set up, everyone else on the map died except for Gato and Sheeda. This left Marth alone to face off against Medius, with a lot of casualties in the final battle.
The Falchion is a fairly weak sword, but it does have a bonus to damage against Medius. It took me two turns.
But Marth was victorious! Of course Medius gives the usual bad guy speech about how he'll back some day as long as there is evil in the hearts of men, blah blah.
Sheeda managed to survive so Marth proposes to her (there's a different scene here if she died, where Marth says he'll never forget her. Now we get the English ending scene:
I'm not sure what that last sentence means; if they were referring to Fire Emblem Gaiden or not. A lot of games from this period say something like this at the end so it might not mean anything. Next up is a cast list that shows some odd romanizations for characters.
Next up is a list of all the stages and how many turns each one took, followed by your final turn count. This is a nice touch.
Finally, there's a short description of what each character does after the war. If they died, it says which battle they died in. Another nice touch.
And that's the end!
I'll post in a few days with some sort of wrap-up or review post but I'm not sure exactly what it will look like yet.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Game 1 - Fire Emblem (Stages 20-22)

Stage 20 - Black Knight Camus
"In Grunia, Marth fights the Black Knights of Macedonia headed by Camus."
In the longest pre-battle dialogue of the game, Nina tries to convince Camus to join the heroes, but he can't leave his dying kingdom even though he disagrees with Drua.

This stage has a fairly tough opening because of the four paladins to the left.

It's not that hard to kill them, but because of their high movement range it's tricky to keep everyone alive. It's easy for them to go around your troops and kill weak people. In my final play I didn't open the bridge until I had beaten those initial enemies. Marth then has to run down to the left for the Harman (Repair) staff in the house, which I never actually used.

Another enemy character falls victim to Sheeda's charms and joins the party.

Camus himself can be pretty hard. He has the Gladius, the strongest spear in the game. This is the kind of fight where I feel the permadeath is particularly unfair because if Camus gets a critical hit, he's going to kill whoever he's fighting except maybe someone at max level who has a ton of stat upgrades. I got lucky and beat him. The Gladius is good to give to a Paladin, particularly along with the Star Orb, which makes the holder's weapons not lose uses when they attack. Although the Star Orb is also really useful for Marth because the Mercurius Rapier is the strongest weapon in the game for him, and he can do a lot of damage with unlimited uses.

After the fight, Marth apologizes to Nina for not being able to save Camus.

Stage 21 - Deciding Battle at Macedonia
"A difficult fight at the border of Macedonia."

This is another map that was removed from the SFC remake.

The trickiest part is at the beginning, because all the monsters except the Paladins come for you at the beginning. Like the previous stage it's not hard to defeat all the enemies, but the Dragon Knights have such high movement that it can be tough to prevent them from killing anyone. Also your characters start separated on the map. I had three archer characters to deal with the knights and the reinforcements, but I had to try several times until I got it right. But once that initial force is beaten it's no problem because the Paladins can be lured down individually.

There's a secret shop on this stage in the mountains, that sells stat up items. Unfortunately you can't buy things at shops and send them to the storage, so it's tough to use. I just bought two things and moved on.

Stage 22 - The Knights of the Sky 
"The deciding fight against a large band of Dragon Knights in Macedonia."

I brought archers to this stage. One of the paladins is Michel, the older brother of Minerva and others, but he can't be recruited unfortunately. I played quickly here, first because you have to get to the village with Marth before the thief can destroy it. Marth has to bring the Star and Light Orbs to get Gato to make the Starlight, which is the best way to defeat Garnef. Apparently if you go there without the orbs, Gato will suggest using the Mercurius Rapier, the Gladius, and Devil weapons to try to beat Garnef instead, but he suggests basically starting the game over instead. Ouch, that's harsh!

The other reason to play quickly is to stop the reinforcements by blocking the six forts. Once I did that, I sent some units to the top left to buy stuff, and then ended the stage.

After the stage, Morodof announces that they found Thebes, where Garnef is. So now we can make our way there to recover the Falchion! In the next post I'll cover the last three stages.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Game 1 - Fire Emblem (Stages 15-19)

Stage 15 - Gadain, the Magic Country
"The evil bishop Garnef appears."

Overall this stage isn't too bad, but there are a couple of difficulties. The first one is that innate magic resistance does not exist in this game. So magic does the same damage to everyone unless you use the M Shield staff, or the permanent magic resistance item (one is in this stage). So unless you have these items, no one can really tank against magicians. However, they don't do serious damage individually.

Garnef is at the right side of the stage, but as the helpful villager tells you, he cannot be defeated (according to the instruction manual we'll take him out on stage 23).

Garnef leaves after a few turns, and the mage reinforcements around him stop. The only other difficulty is that most classes move slowly on the desert. But that's not a big deal, and the boss goes down fairly easily.

After the stage, Gato speaks to Marth through magic. He tells the story of Garnef and Miloa, who were once his disciplines. But Garnef stole the Mafu magic and now has the Falchion -- he surely hopes to control the world himself, without relying on Drua. Our only chance to beat Garnef is to find the Orb of Light and bring it to Gato, and then we will get Starlight Explosion, the only magic that can beat Mafu.

Stage 16 - The Fight in Altia
"Marth takes back his country, Altia."

This stage has a strange character, Chaney, who is the Commando class. I believe this class is only in FE1 and remakes. He can copy any other character, although he retains his own inventory and can't gain xp while copying.

There's really not too much to this stage. I just took my party south through the building with Chaney, and then around to the boss. There are villages at the top left to recruit either Samson or Alan (you have to choose one or the other), but Marth moves fast enough that I could send him off alone to do that and then catch up later.

Now Marth has taken back his kingdom, but he still has to clear the enemies out of the castle.

Stage 17 - Starlord Marth
"Marth frees Altia castle."

This was a tough stage. I had to reset more times on this stage than in the rest of the game combined.

The left side of the map has a bunch of chests. The right side of the map has the boss, who cannot be hurt by magic. This leaves Dragon Killer swords the only really effective means of hurting him. The two priests on the right both hold important items (a Member Card and a Reserve staff, which heals all units for 10 HP). None of this would be terrible except that reinforcements begin to come out from the right of the priests on turn -- three a turn for the next 40 turns.
Marth in the treasure room

The plan I eventually came up with was to warp Marth into the treasure room (you almost have to do this to avoid losing any chests to the thieves). Then part of my group would follow him, including Julian and Boa (who has the warp staff). Meanwhile Jeigan went to get a door key from the storage to open the door to the boss. After clearing out the enemies on the left side and getting most of the chests, I warped Marth next to the priests. He was able to then use his 11 move to mostly stay ahead of the reinforcements, get back around to the throne area, and receive a Dragon Killer sword from Astria. The other one I had went to promoted Kain, and they didn't have much trouble taking down the boss.
A failure -- this was the first time I tried the stage, before I was warping Marth into the treasure room

The problems I had were mostly beating everyone on the left side without losing anyone. I had one time where I had done it but I lost a person from full HP to a critical hit. Another time I did everything right but hadn't yet realized I needed Dragon Killers, and couldn't kill the boss. Finally everything worked out and I moved on. I did not use the secret shop behind the throne.
Marth running from reinforcements
So Marth has taken back his kingdom and castle. Unfortunately his sister Ellis is still with Garnef.

Stage 18 - The Black Knights of Gurunia
"Marth faces a fierce attack from the Grunia Black Knights on the bridge spanning Kashimia."

This is another stage removed from the SFC version. After 17, it's a breeze.

Except for one stupid loss when I just wasn't paying enough attention, this was basically a matter of charging ahead and killing everything. I wanted to finish the stage before the reinforcements came out, but Est (a pegasus knight) joins here along with the Mercurius Sword, which is one of the best weapons for Marth. So I had to wait for her to catch up and face a couple of reinforcements but nothing too bad.
As people on the Discord told me, she's the last pre-promote unit to join but has excellent growth to compensate. But I already have a lot of P Knights. After the battle, Modorf warns us about going to Laman Temple because there's a fierce goddess that will kill anyone who takes anything from it, but Marth needs something from there.

Stage 19 - Mamkute Princess
"Marth gains an important item at Raman Temple."

This stage is fairly small and has few enemies (and no reinforcements, but there are some tricky aspects to it.
As you can see, the Snipers will interfere if you try to use thieves to open the doors, so they have to be beaten, or you can use some other hardier class with a Door Key. I did this for a few of them but then just killed the snipers after that. The important treasures in this stage are the Earth Orb, from one of the chests, and the Light Orb, which a thief holds. They play a mean trick by having another thief equipped with a Devil Sword. I wasn't checking inventories and I got a nasty surprise and a reset.
The boss of the stage is Chiki, who Banutu told us about earlier. He can convince her to join and break out of her mind-control spell, so there actually isn't a boss to the stage.

Aftewards, Nina tells us that before going to Grunia, we should try to talk to General Camus. Camus was the one who protected her years ago when Drua attacked Akaneia, despite Medius wanting her dead. She hopes that by talking to Camus we can get him on our side. So that's the next destination.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Game 1 - Fire Emblem (Stages 10-14)

Stage 10 - Princess Minerva
"The fight at Teal Fortress."

Marth sets out to save Maria in this stage.
The captive
I sent most of my force around the building to head for the boss, while Julian and a small group went in with Marth to save Maria. I left Kashim on the fort to the east thinking that would block the reinforcements, but they come from the top of the map rather than the fort. This left Kashim completely alone vs. them, and he died. It was late enough in the stage and Kashim's not a great character so I decided to move on despite the death.

Once Marth saves Maria, Minerva the dragon rider heads towards him to join as well. She explains that although Macedonia has mostly joined up with Drua, she wants to fight against them. She urges Marth to save Kachua, Paola, and Est, her underlings who will help in the fight. The rest of the stage is easy, as Excalibur claims another victim.

This map also has the first promotion item. When characters of certain classes reach level 10, they can use an item like the Hero's Proof to advance to a new class. This resets their level to 1, and raises their stats to the base values for the promoted class if they weren't there already. I didn't have anyone at level 10 yet but I gave it to Ogma to use later. There's also a speed ring. I decided to give the stat up items in general to Marth, since he has no promotion, the Rapier is a good weapon, and enemies tend to target him.

Stage 11 - Slave City Norda
"Marth frees the slave city."

Marth heads to Norda to save Linda, who has the powerful Aura magic. This stage has the first appearance of the curious Shooter class, which is only in this game and the two remakes of it. It's an attempt to combine the Armor Knight and Archer class, which is a poor combination.
The slave area is at the bottom right. After liberating it I spend quite a bit of time using the shops and storage unit to shift around items. Dealing with items is definitely one of the low points of this game; it's far too difficult to trade and manage inventories. They should have offered a screen between games to do this.

After this I made a save state since I wasn't going to repeat that again, and this is where I began using my "one save state per map" idea. I've found that this preserves enough of the tension and difficulty without having the extreme frustration of having to repeat 45 minutes of a map because of an unlucky critical hit or making one mistake in unit placement.

I did in fact have to reset once when I was a little too bold with my advancing and got swarmed. You can convince one of the shooters to join you, and the other one goes down easily with magic.

Now we have reached Akaneia, finally returning Nina to her home. But of course we'll have to clear it of enemies first.

Stage 12 - Akaneia Palace
"The fight against Bishop Bozen in Akaneia Castle." 

Another castle map. The trick here is that you can only send out 10 guys because there are a bunch of heroes imprisoned in the palace, with no items.

The enemies there aren't too problematic because the archers can't hurt the armor knights. So that leaves us free to make our way through the castle. Once the initial enemies were cleared, I decided not to take the direct route to the treasure. I left Julian near the door and took everyone else around the bottom.

I had to load a state at this point because that sniper has a Silver Bow that I didn't notice, and took someone out in one turn. But Marth with a Thunder Sword made quick work of him, and of course those two clerics are no problem. Mages are a bit tricky because in this game, everyone has a magic defense of 0, unless you use one of the items to increase it. So magic essentially does fixed damage. Even so, Bozen can't take too many hits before dying. That General in the treasure room can't open the door so he's easy to pick off with magic from the other side. The only other thing to do is beat a Paladin on the right, who has the subtle name of Himmler.

One thing you sometimes have to be careful about is leading with a character who is too strong. Because if they can kill the enemies in one round (with two hits), they'll keep taking damage over and over again. This game doesn't let your guys' stats easily get too high, and so someone can die pretty quickly if you're not careful.

After the stage, Nina gives us the bow Palutia, which has a limited number of uses and a high weapon level requirement. There are two other good weapons like it: the Gladius, and the Mercurial Rapier, that we should come across later.

Stage 13 - The Wooden Horse Army of Gurunia
"The army encounters the Gurunia Army in Menidi."

This stage was cut from the SNES re-release and it's not hard to see why. 15 Shooters. Fifteen.

Some people use warp staffs to deal with the stage. What I did was go forward on the middle path, taking out the shooters there, and taking Marth to the village to recruit my own shooter (who can't leave the cliff area he's stranded in). Media recruits Astria, the swordsman. Now I had this position:

I had given Marth the Boots from a previous level so his move is 11. Marik moves forward and kills the Shooter boss with Excalibur, then Marth moves to the castle and takes it over, obviating the need to deal with that wall of shooters in the back or the shooter groups at the top and bottom.

Stage 14 - Gura, the Land of Sorrow
"Marth attacks Gura, the land that betrayed Alitia."

As given in the intro story, Gura is the land that betrayed Marth's father. Although Marth doesn't have any dialogue in this map so I guess you have to invent your own story of his revenge.
After getting the magic spell from the village on the top left, the next step is to take out all those annoying archers and the priest. Meanwhile Kachua and Paola appear on turn 5 and head towards Marth, joining the team.

I guess I took too few screenshots of this stage. The bottom part of the map seems easy, but I actually had to load my mid-save stage twice. Once was because the Armor Knight got a critical on Abel and took him from full HP to 0 in one attack. The other was due to the Pegasus Knight reinforcements that start coming in from the left. They do a fair amount of damage; probably if I had shooters out there they could tank it. Winning the stage before too many of them come is easy enough, but the right side has two chests, including the all important Silver Card, which halves the price of items. The tedious and cumbersome item interface makes this less appealing than it would otherwise be, but it's still a good item.

So we have now taken back Gura, but the Falchion is not there. Apparently Garnef has taken it and fled, so it's time to follow him to the desert -- we can't beat Medius without the Falchion.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Game 1 - Fire Emblem (Stages 5-9)

Stage 5 - The Warriors of Orleans
"Marth meets up with Hardin's warrior band, who is fighting to protect Princess Nina of Akanaia kingdom, in a fortress near Orleans castle."

There are two difficulties in this stage -- making sure none of the thieves can reach the village in the north, and having all the new members of Hardin's group survive the stage. Neither are extremely hard but I did have to restart a few times. Hardin's group is not very strong and it takes some proper placement to make sure the archers can't combine with the armor knights to take down one of them.
Once the thieves are defeated and the Archer/Armor Knight group taken care of, the rest of the stage is not very hard. Wendell, a Bishop, comes to Marth and joins. Although there are a lot of strategy RPGs with enemy characters that can be persuaded to join your side, I don't know how many there are where the enemies actually approach your own troops and join on their own.

Reinforcements (a single Social Knight) come out of the fort at the top if you take too long. I used the magicians to take down the Armor Knight.

Stage 6 - Fire Emblem 
"A fight inside Orleans castle. After winning this fight, Marth pledges to Princess Nina to defeat the Drua kingdom and free all the lands of Akanaia. He sets out on his journey."
This was a tough stage for me. The main problem are the treasure chests. There are 5 of them, and four thieves on the stage that can go loot them. Unlike later FE games, defeating the thieves after they steal the chests does not give you the item. Two of the chests are impossible to get without using Lena's Warp Staff, and I decided to ignore those. I would have liked the Angel Clothes to increase max HP, but I don't know how many warp staves there are in the game. I also wasn't sure who was strong enough to send over there in the midst of the enemies -- I found a Japanese blog where the guy used Wendell to get the Angel Clothes. I guess that makes sense; he has a high defense and can do a lot of damage to the armor knights.
Even getting the other three chests was tricky, though. I kept losing guys to gangups by the archers, the social knight with the gold sword, and the magician at the top left. I think the above picture is from the time I actually won. I finally got down and closely investigated everyone's stats so that I knew who could best defend against the attacks. Julian also recruits Ricardo, giving me a second thief.
Once the chests are done, there's still the problem of the two archers and magician in the final room. I approached very slowly, killed one archer, and then fortunately the other archer and magician came forward when they could not attack anyone. This made it easy to finish them off, and Wendell and Marik's Excalibur magic finished off the boss.
Now Marth has the Fire Emblem, which will help him open a future chest that is important for the journey, and the first major section of the game is done.

Stage 7 - The Trap at Lewakandi
"In the valley of Lewakandi, Marth encounters the White Knight group of Minerva, but..."

Minerva decides that Macedonian troops should not be serving Drua, and defects with three of her pegasus knights. This draws down the forces here to a reasonable number and makes the stage pretty easy.
A few archers were enough to take out the remaining D and P Knights, leaving just a skeleton force defending the base. The boss, once again, I beat with Marik's Excalibur. That won't last for the whole game, though.
This stage also gives me the first Mamkute, Banutu. He tells us that we need Chiki, another Mamkute, to have any chance at defeating the other Mamkutes who serve Medius. He lost his stone, but fortunately I picked one up in the last stage. With the stone he gets a big defense boost and an attack that never runs out -- pretty nice! The ending dialogue of this map just summarizes the story that was already given in the instruction manual.

Stage 8 - Port City Warren
"Marth is surrounded by a large army at Warren."

The goal in this map is basically to escape to the right and take over the castle; there are large numbers of reinforcements. Some people might fight them all for experience but I finished the stage before I got overwhelmed. I accidentally set up a situation where the horsemen could not move or attack, blocking that area from further reinforcements.
My new recruit Banutu dealt well with the armor knights, who really couldn't hurt him. Excalibur once again finished off the boss.

The funny part of this stage is Sheeda's recruitment of Roger. She asks him if he believes in love and if he has anyone special in Gurunia -- after a while they have to stop talking and Roger is smitten as so many other men in the game are.

Stage 9 - The Dragon of Perati
"The fight against Commander Manu, the Mamkute." 

This is another stage that was cut from the SNES remake. The boss is a Mamkute, but gets taken out with Excalibur -- I'm definitely going to run out of uses of this before the end of the game. The main trick of this stage is getting the chests. The two closest to the start are easy because the thieves go for the town instead, and you can easily head them off.
 The harder one is at the bottom right -- not because of the thieves, but because at turn 10, pirate reinforcements start coming out at forts at the bottom of the map.
I decided the Dragon Killer was not worth it and just finished the stage.

At the end of the stage, one of Minerva's P Knights, Kachua, asks for help -- Minerva's sister Maria has been captured by Drua. Minerva is rebelling against Drua but they want our help saving Maria. And off we go!

16 stages to go.