LGR – Zeliard – DOS PC Game Review


[LGR Theme plays] [fizz, sip] Aahhh! [typing] I recently got a Tandy 1000 series computer and started going through my library of games to see what I could run on it. I came across Zeliard, published in America by Sierra Online in 1990. However, the game originally released in Japan in 1987 on the NEC PC-8801. At first, I had simply taken note of
the game for whenever I got a Tandy because of its exceptional graphics and sound, but then I got to playing it and I’ve gotta say, this one surprised me. Zeliard is a platform game in which
you play as the knight Duke Garland. Strangest-looking knight I have ever seen. I could have sworn he was a viking. Perhaps he is using elicit substances and just imagines he’s a viking, judging by the freakish beasts that grace the cover art. Even the frog has weird teeth and odd proportions and– Is that a skull tattoo?! What the heck?! This version is the MS-DOS game which will work on practically
any computer with 640K RAM with a variety of graphics and sound modes, but the Tandy one is the one I’m interested in. “Get into Zeliard–” “because you can.” Well, I can’t argue with that logic. Once you’ve configured the
game’s settings to your liking– I’m going with the full Tandy
mode here for most of this review– the game starts off with the logo and a pretty rad theme song and some backstory. [Tandy music plays] The gist is that apparently the kingdom of Zeliard has been taken over by the demon overlord Jashiin, apparently as some kind of revenge plot. What else would it be?
Demons do that kind of thing all the time. He rains sand down on the kingdom, turning it into a desert, and then turns Princess Felicia into stone. So perhaps YOU aren’t completely stoned, but the princess certainly is! HA-ha-ooookay… Anyways, you are Duke Garland
who has been sent by “the Spirits” to save the kingdom by collecting the Nine Tears of… Es…me…santi… and killing everything that moves, including Jashiin. Yay! Typical fantasy-action plot lines! But unlike many other games,
you’ll actually follow this plot all the way through, gathering bits of story along the way, which is pretty wild for a game from ’87. You start off the actual gameplay in Zeliard, walking around in a town near the castle. These towns your home bases for the game where you’ll actually do everything from save the game to buying weapons and armor,
using the bank and learning new abilities. You can even talk to the various townsfolk
about things going on at the time. This is starting to look more
and more like a role-playing game than a typical action side-scroller. And that’s because it kind of is, and that’s not a bad thing, either. Once you’ve talked to the king
and received your 1,000 Golds, you… Wait. Did he just say “Golds?” Golds. Heh heh. That’s awesome. You can use your Golds to save for later, or spend on various items like potions or weapons or… you know, magic things. Once you’re ready,
you can enter the meat of the game: the labyrinthine caverns. And, dude, check out the music in this section. [pulsating Tandy music plays] This is probably the best show-off for what the Tandy machines were capable of. It kind of reminds me of somewhere
between a Game Boy and an NES or an Atari 8-bit or something. While we’re on the subject of technicalities, you’re looking at the Tandy version. There are Hercules, CGA, EGA, and MCGA/VGA modes to choose from, the latter of which are pretty close to Tandy, just with a bit more color depth. Personally, I just prefer Tandy modes
overall because of the sound that you get, but the MCGA and AdLib or Roland MT-32 sound would also be pretty darned cool. So yeah, this is the action portion of the game. It’s rather straightforward: you just
run left and right, and kill things with your weapon. The manual includes most of the
information you’ll need to get started, and there’s also this nifty-keen and uber-useful poster of the different labyrinths. Sweetness! It’s really big and awkward, but totally useful. You will encounter frogs, gastropods, rats and bats in this first section, as well as environmental hazards. But don’t be surprised if you die pretty quickly by touching anything and getting… essentially raped by all these creatures from all sides because the game is really, really
unforgiving when it comes to combat. And a lot of that has to do with the controls because they’re a little strange at first. I don’t really know how to describe it. Jumping is weird. And it’s just a little awkward, but it’s not horrible. It’s all about timing and knowing
how these enemies work, as well as strategically gaining
and using potions and such. Of course, the type of weapons,
armor and maximum health will also determine how tough the game is. To upgrade yourself, you’ll need to collect almas. No, not that Alma! These are weird, little… orb things that fall from most enemies. And you can then go back into town later and trade it for Golds. You can also collect Golds in the caverns, but if you die, all your Golds will belong to the caverns, and you’ll also lose half of the almas that you collected. There are no lives. You just lose half your crap and return to the first town. Just visit the sage’s hut,
save your game and go back for more. At the end of each cavern, you’ll have a boss to kill. Go to the next town. Wash, rinse, repeat. It sounds pretty simple, and really it is, but it’s also got quite a bit of
depth for such an old game. All the different combinations and
possibilities of potions, armor and weapons really add an incentive to
continue playing in different ways. Plus the sheer luck involved with
the spawning rapist enemies and in the way you really play it
makes it really darn fun. And each cavern contains new
enemies and environments to tackle, so you’ll probably get frustrated
far before you get bored. And for this type of game,
that’s not really a bad thing. On top of that,
the world is just cool-looking, with the impressive graphics and sound of the game really giving it the leading edge
over PC platformers of the time. In fact, I think this is the best platformer on PC, until Epic and Apogee started doing
their things in the next few years. Zeliard is one impressive game for 1990, and even more impressive for 1987. I’d love to try out the PC-8801 version,
if I could ever get one of those machines. It’s got action, a coherent plot, genuine challenge, RPG elements and, most importantly, fun, without being excessively punishing. Zeliard. Get into it. Because you can.

100 comments

  • FrozenFireZFGC

    Nice, I didn't know about this game and it actually looks pretty fun. It looks like how I wish Zelda II would've been, ha ha. I really enjoy your older game reviews, LGR. Especially the MS-Dos games from the 90's. I remember so many of them from my childhood.

    Have you ever played Zone 66, Space Chase (fun, but pretty annoying sounds), Cosmo's Cosmic Adventure, Block Man (unique puzzle game; simple to play but not simple to beat), or Gate World (kind of flawed but has a unique atmosphere)? I didn't see any reviews for those, so just throwing them out there if you aren't aware of them. I noticed you like Jazz Jackrabbit, which is also one of my all time favorites.

    Reply
  • Chris Pie All

    Why not use full 64 colour mode? I can imagine it would be hard to make a game compatible with both 16, 32 and 64 colours you'd have to repick the colouring I imagine.

    Reply
  • Waterwarp

    What used to annoy me most about the Viking on the cover is that it's completely different from Duke Garland you could see in the intro sequence. As if the artists just took a quick peek at the gameplay and thought that's enough. :p

    Reply
  • Dec

    The Tandy sounds like a Sega Master System to me.

    Reply
  • Piefav2

    Ah, 2010 LGR. Truly the classics…

    Reply
  • Launchpad McQuack

    Best intro out of all of them. 😀

    Reply
  • ssfsx17

    This game had an epic soundtrack! But the later levels were brutally difficult, with illusory walls and one-way wind currents.

    Reply
  • Sam Tuttle

    That looks like a cool game actually

    Reply
  • Plum Zaplook

    Wow I forgot this episode existed, weird to find old lgr's after watching so much and for so long.

    Reply
  • The Playing Collector

    I need to track this game down for the soundtrack alone. This one is fantastic and I've liked every product GameArts has done so far.

    Reply
  • The Opponent

    This reminds me a lot of Ys III. I can't help but think there was a CD release for a different platform with much more impressive music.

    Reply
  • Pow3rh0use

    I can't believe I never watched this review back in the day. This is definitely a good review that fell through the cracks.

    Reply
  • silpheedTandy

    Silpheed and Firehawk II : The Second Contact also had beautiful Tandy music.
    oh, and Grandia on the playstation was incredible — music, gameplay, humor, originality. Game Arts did some good stuff!

    Reply
  • Dado Simic

    Zeldiard 🙂

    Reply
  • gammaraider

    Played this all the time on my 286.. and wrote a savegame crack for it in 93 i think 🙂

    Reply
  • Muffintop

    This game looks like something I would enjoy playing. I need to look up an emulator for it. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

    Reply
  • Kenshin 811

    this game remind me of Ys III

    Reply
  • alex1vid

    Holy smoke… I LOVED this game.  One thing I have to say though – when I played it as a kid, I had a much better version of this game.  The graphics on mine were better, and the soundcard I used was way better.  Back then we had a Tandy 1000 too – but I honestly don't remember if I played this on that or something else (I'm going back over 20 years).  Just saying this because the sound card made the music far, far better.

    The little villages and levels were awesome.  However… there was one level that was almost impossible.. and it was the fire level, where you had to figure out and memorize the flow of wind.  I was so perplexed that I called the help line, and even they struggled to get through it.

    Reply
  • Andrew Dupuis

    great game. i was just playing this game on my Del Pentium 4 2.26ghz  how ever I cant get sound to work

    Reply
  • Jordan Mattes

    This is a lot like Exile or Ys III. There were tons of games like this for PC88/PC98, it's a pity Sierra didn't engage some other Japanese developers for stuff.

    Reply
  • DUC DOAN

    i finally found it. played it a long time ago and I forgot the name. Best game ever!

    Reply
  • raydeen2k

    Have you ever played Sorcerian? That was my first PC game (which unfortunately didn't play properly on a 486 – had to play it on a 386). Also published in the US by Sierra, but was originally from Falcom, who make the incredible Ys series of games. Sorcerian was, and is still, one of the most unique RPGs ever made, as your characters aged and you could eventually replace them with descendants. Great game and very much worthy of a look if you haven't given it one already.

    Reply
  • DeepFriedPotatoes

    the sound track reminds me of pokemon …. neat game.

    Reply
  • dan2304k

    Thanks, Clint! I don't know how I missed this review back when it was first posted, but I am glad it came up in my recommendations. I've been trying to find this game for years but couldn't remember the title. Now I know!

    Reply
  • TheRetroDudeAbides

    As nice as the MCGA graphics are, I feel running in EGA mode with Adlib sound/music is the most authentic to the PC-8801 experience.

    No matter how you play it, the game us awesome. To think later they would later grace us with awesome stuff like Grandia and Lunar..

    Reply
  • Azereiah

    Ah, man. This is the first video game I ever played, and I loved it a LOT. Had it before I even got a Sega Genesis.

    Reply
  • Aki U

    This was my childhood!!!!! That cave music was amazing. I came here because my sister was like "Hey remember that game like Zelda, what was it called?"

    and instantly I was like "Zeliard". I used to play this game all the time. I loved it. I wish we had more games like this. 😀

    Reply
  • Andrew McGhee

    Looks like it may have inspired Talmit's Adventure

    Reply
  • Ace Strife

    Starsiege!

    Reply
  • Rose Erilla Uninspired

    Have you played an old game named "Traysia"?

    Reply
  • Xanthey Belmont

    Man i had totally forgotten about this game. Might be time to pull the ole 486 out of the closet and search through the 15 boxes of floppy disks to find…… yeah nevermind time to play more Momodora on steam.

    Reply
  • Cj Castonguay

    reminds me of Ys III

    Reply
  • Daminite

    i miss this game

    Reply
  • Roomy

    This HAS to be the same guys who made Faxanadu for the NES. This is completely Faxanadu. Even the way they say "Golds". Absolutely 100% Faxanadu like.

    Reply
  • JTib

    Remember this one from my childhood. Great game, and definitely worth its weight in "Golds".

    Reply
  • Sarim Mehdi

    What's that pinball game right at the beginning of your video? I remember playing it but can't remember it's name

    Reply
  • Marcellus

    LOL alma in Hungarian means apple so you collect apples???

    Reply
  • Shadow Hog

    6:44 So… now that you HAVE a PC-8801 (as of the "Huge Box of Japanese PC Stuff" video), you planning on getting into Zeliard – because you can?

    Reply
  • Stephanus Tavilrond

    Golds.

    Reply
  • tifforo1

    The claim that the game is straightforward because the dungeons have a linear order ignores how NOT straightforward it can be within each dungeon. What with doors transporting you back and forth between toroidal scrolling areas, doors that take you to part of the next dungeon, beating a boss and having to find the next town in the next dungeon, towns that have two doors into different parts of the same dungeon, shoes that let you reach new parts of the dungeon, keys, and mandatory backtracking near the end of the game.

    Reply
  • grizzlywhisker

    best game of my childhood, i played this on an IBM and the music sounded much better though!

    Reply
  • Professor Dick-Butt

    I genuinely laughed at the stoned-princess joke.

    Reply
  • invghost

    I'd love to be in the room when they were discussing tag-lines.. "Get into it because you can". What genius thought that up haha

    Reply
  • SpiderKnives

    I HAVE BEEN LOOKING FOR THIS GAME FOR SO LONG. OH MY GOD. THANK YOU.

    Reply
  • rimmersbryggeri

    I had this on the 286 I think.

    Reply
  • invisiblem0vement

    I'd pay some golds for this game

    Reply
  • Doktor Hachi Roku

    Now you have a NEC PC-8801. The time is right to look at all the Game Arts products for this machine.

    Reply
  • mtklaric

    one of my favorite games ever!

    Reply
  • mtklaric

    I cant believe that the original box of the game included the maps!!!! hahaha…I passed the game with my friend playing it over a period of years….drawing our own maps to find the solution! I even feel prouder now 😀 very hard game to finish…

    Reply
  • Subtle Demise

    Faxanadu for NES: This is not enough golds.

    Reply
  • Travos k

    this reminds me of shovel knight adventure

    Reply
  • Mike F

    reminds me of faxanadu

    Reply
  • Twerkingfish

    tandy sound reminds me of game gear/master system. especially here.

    Reply
  • Noel Goetowski

    So this is Zelda II, but better. Got it.

    Reply
  • Juice Patrol

    it sounds like OG dark souls

    Reply
  • TheCivildecay

    the cover art of zeliard is the most misleading ever 😀

    I like that when you die you lose all your alma's, a bit like a oldschool dark souls 🙂

    Reply
  • LotoTheHero

    This game looks very solid. Reminds me of Zelda 2, Ys 3, Faxanadu etc.

    Reply
  • Metallic_Falcon

    I find very weird that much of the things in the game are in spanish. I'm very curious about this since at that time there weren't many games translated to it.

    Reply
  • Wim De Gier

    I loved this game, had so much fun playing it as a child!

    Reply
  • Maywither Dragon

    Can't you hold up and down at the same time so you can do the 360° sword attack that's normally used when jumping even while standing still or running? I feel like I used this attack more than almost anything else, but never see you execute it in the video. 😕

    Reply
  • Kairu Hakubi

    looks extra cool

    Reply
  • ZeliardFTW

    Ah brings back memories growing up =)

    Reply
  • bigemugamer

    oh wow never saw this review! nice 😉 RPG
    ongoing edits lol:
    looks like legend of zelda 2 for nes in towns
    9 tears of esmeral….. someting or other, at least its not "Collect the 4 elements!" typical quest
    gastropubs?? =/

    Reply
  • Gary Radov

    hi i am looking for a game that had pillars in it was side view on pc

    Reply
  • NinCollin

    If only Sierra put as much effort into the Sorcerian port as they did this port…

    They de-scanlined the graphics, which messed them up and didn't bother fixing them (many PC-88 developers used the scanlines to make plaid-type patterns) and the music (at least the Adlib) was lazily made and filled with wrong notes .

    Reply
  • TheChowitzer

    Almost seems like this game was translated into Spanish first, then into English using the Spanish translation. There's a lot of clues in the Spanish words everywhere… Alma is soul, muralla is wall, malicia is malice, peligro is danger, and the bosses have Spanish names (cangrejo just means crab). How curious!

    Reply
  • Otaking Mikohani

    Tandy?! Oh no, he's been brainwashed by the Children of the Damned!

    Reply
  • Juice Patrol

    sounds like OG dark souls with the almas.

    Reply
  • Luigi Azura

    it looks like wing of madoola on the famicom

    Reply
  • Dominic Wood

    Played the heck out of this game in 1996 on a 286 in monochrome – even without a decent sound card the audio was really neat. I got to the end – found the lava map the toughest tbh.

    Reply
  • Alpesh Srivastava

    "GOLDS" 😅😂😂

    Reply
  • Marcelo Sampaio

    Loved the name of the crab boss: Cangrejo. That's crab in Spanish. :p

    Reply
  • Wiley M

    Im too lazy to scroll through comments but ALMAS translates into SOULS in Spanish.

    Reply
  • Igor Troyanovski

    this game was brutal. in the early levels one mistake and you died. in the later levels secret doors were not how you reach bonuses. they were how you actually progress….

    Reply
  • Ashton Wolf

    If only the game Zeiliard Was on Google Play Store I Might be Able to Download it

    Reply
  • handsomebrick

    Why does it look and sound exactly like a Master System game? Is it like a Master System tribute game or something?

    Reply
  • Ernest Moreno

    GOLDS

    Reply
  • PSPMan3000

    boy this certainly impressed me, i didnt know dos was capable of games like this

    Reply
  • kevinfishburne

    The Sierra port's release was graced with an arranged MT-32 score, which was awesome.

    Reply
  • Pentazer

    This looks a hell of a lot like Ys!

    Reply
  • UltraGamez

    man, your intro is really nostalgic now

    Reply
  • L2Nuku

    Young Clint forgetting to mention Game Arts :p Most if not all of their games were of pretty high production quality, the programmers they had knew the hardware and made good use of it, see also their console games.

    Reply
  • maasro

    Oh boy, did I spend months on this game when I was a kid. Off course I had an illegal copy and therefore no maps of the labyrinths, so I had to find my way on my own.

    Reply
  • extragirth64

    This game reminds me of Ys 3: Wanderers From Ys for the SNES (and other systems but I know the the SNES version.)

    Side-scrolling action RPG. The fantasy-themed border around the game screen. Your life bar and the enemy's life bar at the bottom which are even placed the same. Great tunes.

    Reply
  • Birdie McChicken

    The fact that the game is Japanese explains the cover art, and the viking even though the protagonist looks more like Sir Graham from King's Quest.

    White Washing was the name of the game, when it came to porting anything non-western to a western audience in the '80s and '90s.

    Reply
  • Zero Kurapika

    Looks japanese and awesome.

    Reply
  • Soterion Coil

    game looks fun

    Reply
  • Dale Frewaldt

    This sounds like the Dark Souls of DOS Games…

    Reply
  • Ayden Nash

    My childhood well spent!

    Reply
  • Emerald Danjon

    Beautiful.

    Reply
  • RyGuyGaming

    You lose some of you almas (Spanish for souls) when you die? This game must be Dark Souls!!
    Can I be a game journalist now? 🙂

    Reply
  • Дмитрий Лобанов

    В 2019 помню об этой игре, вспомнил как вспомнил Dangerous Dave, сколько же лет назад это было….

    Reply
  • only257

    Cool☃

    Reply
  • Haroc

    Watching old LGR videos… because I can.

    Reply
  • Gabriel S

    So is this a precursor to faxanadu?

    Reply
  • majikos

    The music sounds even better when you use an MT-32

    Reply
  • child of cascadia

    This reminds me of a really old sidescrolling Ys

    Reply
  • Aaron Condon

    So it’s The Adventures of Link but better?

    Reply
  • SC

    That cover was deliberately changed for the west for marketing purposes, but when you look at Duke Garland in the cut-scenes, he looked great compared to that trashy viking on the front cover. You can also tell there was no communication between the western box cover artist and whoever commissioned them. They took one look at the game and interpreted the Dukes Winged helmet as a horned helmet and just decided he was a viking.

    Glad I didn't see the cover in my childhood, all I knew was what I had seen in game. Played on and off, but I couldn't end up beating it until I was maybe 15 as I got lost in the fire cavern, but after playing dungeons and dragons a little bit I realised I could map the cavern out! Finally beating that game was amazing.

    Reply
  • Grumpy Modeler

    One of the few games I played through completely in the early 90's.

    One thing I find odd about many of these low res games from that area is that they often have giant frames around the action, limiting the already limited resolution. Wolfenstein 3D also did this.

    Reply

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