Friday, April 18, 2008

Kongai: Ambrosia Get (4/18/08)

This week's challenge is for Ambrosia Thorn. Which makes me happy - not only did she just get a tweak that I can now test out, she's a solid card in her own right.

Ever since the change in the last update (I really have to get around to making a post about that one of these days.) to make her subpar Blood Ritual, well, good she's gone from a forgettable card to one verging on the awesome. I'll hopefully get around to talking about why I think she's not quite there yet tomorrow when I can do a review of her card. But, for now, what you need to know is that - like Higashi last week - Ambrosia is a card to have. Because, odds are, you'll like playing around with her.

To get Thorn you'll have to complete 10 level in the sequel to the original and still awesome Amberial - the Nebulosa Realms.

The Nebulosa Realms are a sequel in the "take what worked and make it work better" vein rather than, you know, Zelda 2. If you liked bouncing your little ball around various danger filled environments in the first then you'll love the new maps and the twists they'll bring. If you didn't well, a) you're a dirty communist pinko who sleeps on a bed of the corpses of dismembered children and b) you'll have to gnash your teeth and suck it up if you want the card. And, again, you want the card.

It's a refinement, in other words, rather than any real attempt to push the boundaries of flash gaming in new and unexpected directions. This same thing bugs the hell out of me in the Thing-Thing series but this is only the first sequel instead of the umpteenth and I actually like the underlying gameplay here so I'm going to be hypocritical about it. Hobgoblins of little minds and all. Like the original there are 16 stages initially. You'll unlocked them one by one as you play through them - beat one and the one next to it and the one below it in the grid will open up (Thankfully, the painfully slow scrolling level selection screen of the first has been done away with in favor of a simple grid laying out all the available levels for easy clicking.). You can do the available levels in any order you want so, once you start you'll have some options and if you get stuck you can always try your luck someplace else.

As in the first, there's a special bonus objective in each level. An "Ace" - generally hidden somewhere tougher to reach in a given level than the designated exit - which you can roll over to collect. The big innovation this go around is another special objective, the Thunderbolt. You earn those not for playing more skillfully and exploring the map but, instead, for speed. If you can rush through a level in a set amount of time (I have no idea what that is, though, it seems to vary by level) you'll get a little Thunderbolt icon along with your victory checkmark.

An additional 6 levels - including a Kongregate themed one - can be unlocked through earning various combinations of Aces and Thunderbolts. You'll need first 3 Aces, then 8 of one and 3 of the other for the next two bonus levels, then 12 and 8, and, finally, a massive 21 of each to get the final bonus level meaning you have to get through the rest of the game flawlessly first.

Considering I've already done the challenge and it took me less than thirty minutes without ripping apart any of my peripherals in frustration, it's not all that hard. Sadly, I can't really offer any tips beyond, you know, don't suck it up. I didn't have any problem with it and, having run through most of the levels one or two times I finished with 9 Aces and 6 Thunder Bolts - only missed the Ace on #6 because I couldn't find it at all (Located it eventually, it's in the top left hand corner. Kinda tricky to get and you can't see it at all from the rest of the level.) and, as for the rest, I burned too much time searching for the Ace to collect the next go around. I think I would have been better off to go for the Ace then do a speed run for the exit but, oh well. I didn't use any secret strategy just acute spacial reasoning and years of hard won gaming experience - I used to love Marble Madness back in the day, for example. That's enough for the first two badges for the game, by the way, so I'm 20 points closer to my next Kongregate level.

There are 22 levels so 10 isn't even halfway. Considering you can pick and choose the ones you play and that you don't have to get any of the fancy finishes - just the plain old normal ones - it's not really that hard a bar to jump over. I'm sure, though, that if you're having trouble there'll be video guides out there for you to check on soon enough. I checked on the Tube for you but my thirty seconds of due diligence only turned up vids from the first game.

So, I can't tell you how to get the card. What I can tell you, however, is that Thorny is a good card to have. So get out there and go get her already. As for me, well, I'm going to be hearing the game's soundtrack in my nightmares from now on but, then, I think Ambrosia's worth it.

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