Mento's May Madness More: #28 - Cthulhu Saves the World

May the Thirty-First

The game: Zeboyd Games's Cthulhu Saves the World

The source: GB user @awesomeandy alongside Breath of Death VII (thanks!)

The pre-amble: Cthulhu Saves the World is a throwback to the 16-bit JRPGs of our youths and is more or less the same game as Zeboyd's earlier parodic Breath of Death VII just with new characters, new settings and a new story. The game follows the adventures of the Dread Lord Cthulhu, finally roused from his eons-long slumber then immediately de-powered by a mysterious sorcerer. He is told, in a bit of fourth-wall breaking exposition, that he must become a true hero in order to regain his terrifying omnipotence and he scurries off to make that happen.

The playthrough: I'm tempted to just toss up a link to a blog I wrote that discussed Breath of Death VII and call it a day, because many of the same mechanics (and problems) persist from that game to this one. While for the most part as accurate to the 16-bit JRPG experience as is modernly possible, Zeboyd throws a few bones (wait, wrong game) to the player for convenience's sake. As well as affording the player the now standard random encounter limit - after which enemies will stop appearing unless you instigate a battle yourself from the menu - and full HP regeneration after every battle you can now also teleport back to any town you've visited. There's a very finite resource that allows you to repeat battles if your party is wiped out and the ability to save anywhere is present as well. What this means is that anyone playing the game doesn't have to suffer too many of the 16-bit era's foibles, but having so many safety nets also means the game can feel justified in making the battles themselves more challenging. It's a good game design philosophy and one that worked well for Super Meat Boy too.


Zeboyd's sense of humor is still going strong in Cthulhu Saves the World too. The new setting means there doesn't need to be as much of an emphasis on largely trite fourth-wall breaking and RPG cliché parodying humor, since the game can now focus on the inherent lunacy (as it were) of turning one of literature's most terrifying beings into a supercilious goof of the sword-wielding hero protagonist archetype. Albeit one that has the power to render many foes insane; a status effect that sees a lot of interesting applications as insane enemies tend to be wildly unpredictable. There seems to be more companions this time as well, and almost every setting (and a lot of the bosses) has some relevance to the Cthulhu Mythos.

This Sea Horse likes teddy bears and jellybeans. The game told me so.

If anything, Cthulhu is a mild upgrade over Breath of Death VII, and I'm sure the third Penny Arcade game is a similar minor step up from this game as well. There's no real point trying to differentiate these games on their gameplay because it seems to be largely identical. I'll just say that the game's a real treat if you're familiar with Lovecraft's work and a fairly solid and - by design - non-frustrating modern 16-bit RPG for everyone else. I can only surmise that it doesn't overstay its welcome with a playtime that can be measured in days either, which was something BoD VII also got right.

The verdict: I beat BoD VII and this game's better so I'm sure I'll come back to it. I have a lot of RPGs on this backlog of mine though, so I don't know when that'll be.

And on the entirely germane note of two insanity-based games in a row it's the end of May Madness! My thanks to everyone who read and commented on any of these twenty-eight blog entries, the fine folk who donated a few of these games as prizes or gifts and Giant Bomb for hosting this idiocy for another year. I think it's back to the retail games for June; I need to get the taste of Indies out of my mouth. So to speak.

Or you could just go to back to the first day Zeno Clash blog and start all over, I ain't buggin'. Have a great summer, folks.

Posted by Video_Game_King

Yea, this sounds a lot like what I wrote on the game a long time ago: "Like Breath of Death, but slightly better". I will say, though, that I got tired of the "let's all drink some....milk" jokes pretty damn fast.

Edited by MooseyMcMan

Cthulhu Saves the World is great! There's a pretty great joke about the insanity thing near the end of the game, but I can't say anything without spoiling it. But keep trucking. The game is rad.

Posted by BisonHero

I actually thought the humour was dramatically better in Cthulhu Saves The World, in the sense that I thought most of the writing in the first game was pretty flat. Cthulhu taking umbrage that no one fears him was put to pretty good use, surprisingly.

The Penny Arcade game is actually a bigger departure from the 2 games you've covered. It has a pretty solid system where you can reassign character classes, though a lot of the spells and abilities are somewhat familiar.

Posted by Slag

@mento said:

If anything, Cthulhu is a mild upgrade over Breath of Death VII

yup, that's about it. I would say the writing is significantly better though in Cthullhu

I hope the Zeboyd guys get a bigger budget sometime. They show some promise and show decent improvement with each game.

Edited by ZombiePie

This and Breath of Death VII are the most recent JRPGs that I have played. Before that the last game from the genre that I played was Barkley Shut Up and Jam Gaiden.

I don't know about the humor in these games, it's oftentimes cringe-worthy and the games are usually guilty of the gameplay mechanics and story tropes that it is very willing to make fun of. To me that's kind of obnoxious, but then again this is an outsider talking.