Review: Rolan’s Curse (Game Boy)

In this review, we raise our sword in the Game Boy game Rolan’s Curse. We find out how well this adventure game plays.

This game was released in 1991.

You play a hero character. Your quest is to defeat the evil King Barius who is terrorizing the land with regenerating monsters.

You start your adventure in a town with a sword and two hearts. While it is possible to take on a half of a heart worth of damage, and many of the enemies don’t deal a lot of damage at first, this doesn’t really leave you a big margin for error. Care will be needed when you venture out for the first time.

You have two slots for items you can equip. They are assigned to the “A” and “B” buttons. The “B” button is for your main weapon. For a large portion of the game, this will be your sword. Meanwhile, the “A” button is used for your special item. This slot tends to have a little more crowding as there are a number of items that can be placed here.

For “B” button weapons, there’s really only two weapons” the sword and the fire rod. The sword has a much shorter range, but you get this weapon right away. The fire rod is a little more hidden. With this weapon, you can fire for moderate distances. If you collect weapons in general, your fighting power will go up. However, since monsters also grow more powerful as time goes on anyway, this barely makes much of a difference in the grand scheme of things.

Meanwhile, the “A” items are far more plentiful. The first item is the life potion. This restores your health to full at any time. Unfortunately, it is a single use item. Once you consume this item, you’ll have nothing in the “A” slot.

Another impressively helpful item is the rock hammer. This item serves no combat purpose, but can break down any breakable obstacle. These obstacles include sand piles, dead trees, and cracked walls. Often, numerous other items or shortcuts are hidden away behind these obstacles. The rock hammer has unlimited uses, but if you collect another item, then you have to collect an additional hammer to regain this ability

A third item is the magic crystal. If you charge it, you can fire a shot at any normal enemy and take them out in a single hit.

The chameleon ring is a defensive item. If an enemy is approaching, you can magically transform yourself into a space that cannot be harmed. You can transform yourself back into your normal form at will.

The shield is another defensive item. Presumably, you can block enemy shots with it. Unfortunately, if an enemy charges into you, the shield won’t do you any good.

Along the way, you’ll encounter many different enemies. Some of them simply move around slowly like slimes and bats. Other enemies will move slowly, but require many hits to take out. A few enemies will fire shots at you, but many of them are weak if you can reach them in time. A couple enemies will be able to fly around or swim under water. If you kill one in an area you can’t reach, and they drop an item, then that item is basically lost.

There are a number of minor weapons that you can collect as well. Some are dropped by enemies while others can be found in treasure chests. There is some overlap on these items in terms of location.

One of the very helpful items is the small health potion. If you collect it, you’ll replenish some health.

Another item is the armor piece. If you collect this item, you’ll increase your health capacity by a half a heart piece. A similar item is the large heart. Collect this and gain a whole heart container. One important thing to note is that once you beat a level, this capacity will reset. In level 2, you star with 3, while level 3 gives you 4. Level 4 will start you with a decent 5 pieces.

Another notable item is the glove. Gloves will increase your overall attack power by one point.

One final item of note is the cape. This cape will turn you invulnerable for a limited period of time. This can help players get past some difficult areas with relative ease.

As you travel, you’ll note five different locations you’ll move through. The first is, of course, villages. Villages are the only areas devoid of enemies. Often, the villages will contain a health potion item as well.

A second area is the forest. You get to navigate around trees and lakes and take on some of the more weaker enemies along the way.

A third area is the beach. You walk around the water via sand bars and docks, trying to find the exit.

A fourth area is caves. You get to maneuver around rocks and take on some of the more powerful enemies in the game here. Some of these caves lead to boss fights.

The final area is the castle. Some of the most powerful enemies are located here. You travel from room to room as you try and reach your goal. Some of these areas also lead to boss fights.

Some people apparently complained about the length of this game. While I can agree that this game is a little on the short side, this isn’t really a huge problem for this game. There are a lot of area’s you can explore that will keep you occupied for a while still.

What I will say is an even bigger problem is the repetition of certain rooms. While repetition doesn’t seem to be a thing in this game at all at first, you’ll gradually find yourself looking at the same rooms more and more. In fact, it got to the point where I even thought I accidentally backtracked significantly and doubled back. The only hint that this wasn’t the case is the enemies that populate the area. This made navigation easy almost to a fault after a while.

Another problem with this game is the limited inventory system. It would have been great to see a small inventory where you can select between items. At the very least, have the game remember what your previous item was when you collect the health potion. Having to forfeit a useful item just for the health potion seems a little harsh.

In addition to this is the lack of any real puzzles to solved. You can make it most, if not, all the way through the game without the hammer. There are no locked doors or anything like that. While evading enemy fire does make things interesting, the adventure gets a little plain after a while because all there is is combat with enemies and moving to the next area (with some bosses thrown in).

Still, the difficulty is about right. The learning curve is pretty good. The basic concepts that are in the game are pretty decent. Some likened it to a Zelda game. It’s not an unfair comparison as it takes a lot from that game. There is some good gameplay to be had despite some of the games limitations.

Generally speaking, this game has its strengths and weaknesses. While some complain about the length, I think the item system and repetitive rooms are an even bigger weakness here. Still, the difficulty is about right and the learning curve is more than reasonable. So, it’s an alright game.

The graphics are pretty decent. The game’s movement manages to limit the blurring limitations of the hardware pretty well. It’s not the most amazing graphics I have ever seen in a Game Boy game, but it certainly holds its own.

The audio is decent enough. Some of the music is pretty good, but others can be exceedingly repetitive. One track is almost 6 seconds long. With a slight change to the loop, the track becomes 12 seconds in total, but it is still extremely repetitive. The sounds are pretty decent, though nothing amazing. So, sound is overall alright, but nothing amazing.

Overall, this is a pretty decent game to play. While I can agree on the complaints of length to an extent, I felt this is a minor flaw in the game. The repeating rooms and primitive item system, meanwhile, serve to be bigger irritants in the game as far as I’m concerned. Still, the game has a decent difficulty and learning curve. The graphics are pretty good. A major plus is the games ability to overcome hardware limitation when it comes to blurring. Unfortunately, the audio is only half decent. A flawed, but decent game all around.

Furthest point in game: Beat the game.

General gameplay: 17/25
Replay value: 8/10
Graphics: 7/10
Audio: 3/5

Overall rating: 70%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top