Zanzarah: Victory

Well, I found the Fire Card. Due to the twistiness and irregularity of the maps, there were a couple of largish regions I hadn’t noticed before (or possibly had noticed, then abandoned because it was too early in the game for them, then forgotten about.) You can always tell when a region is unexplored, because it’s still littered with loose coins and other treasures like so many Pac-Man dots. Ironically, the reason I found it is that I gave up on looking for it. I took the plunge and started seriously exploring the Shadow Realm instead — the Shadow Realm that Rafi had advised me not to delve into until I had finished exploring the overworld — and it turns out that the Fire Card isn’t optional. You need it in order to obtain the key to a certain locked door. Once this is your primary immediate objective, the location of the Fire Card gets marked on your map. (Mind you, even knowing where it was, I had some difficulty finding the path to it.)

The rest followed smoothly, due in part to all the time I had spent leveling up fairies while unable to progress. Carrots were also a significant factor. That’s the game’s quick-leveling consumable: where Nethack has Potions of Gain Level, where Pokémon has Rare Candy, Zanzarah has Golden Carrots. It’s actually kind of unusual how they work. Instead of granting an experience level, the carrot makes its recipient one experience point short of leveling. You can then earn this point by picking a fight, even with the most inferior foe. This puts a brake on how fast you can abuse it. You can’t just dump fifty carrots on a fairy to turn it from a wimp to a superman. You’d have to fight fifty fights as well. Perhaps because of this, the designers made the carrots a lot more easily available than their equivalents in other games, letting you simply buy as many as you can afford from certain magic shops. They’re expensive, mind you, but by the end, I had a big stack of cash and not much else to spend it on. (Again, this is partly due to the time spent stuck, but that just amplified the effect.)

In the end, there are a couple of fights with the White Druid, including the one I anticipated where he uses light fairies against you. After that, there’s just the Guard. What I didn’t anticipate, but should have, is that the Guard, being a thing of magitech, is defended by a team made entirely of robotic Metal-type fairies. Fortunately, I had three elements in my team that were strong against Metal: Air, Ice, and Energy (which seemed like a good choice for the fifth slot). And so I beat it first try.

And that’s that. The world of Zanzarah is restored to balance, as tends to happen in fantasy worlds when the right thing dies. Without the Guard, all the portals to the human world are open again, presumably meaning that fairies will start attacking people in the street soon. Mind you, by the end, I was far more often the aggressor than they were. There’s a special item for use in power-leveling, a magic horn that you can use to wake up any nearby sleeping wild fairies. (Encounters tend to occur the first time you step on their unmarked trigger spots, but there’s some sort of delay before you can trigger them again. The horn bypasses the delay.) Pity the poor defeated fairies who have given up on violence and decided to sleep out the rest of the crisis, only to have Amy, the alleged hero, deliberately goad them into attacking her just so she can beat them up again. No wonder the humans got kicked out, if this is how their prophesied heroes behave.

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