OverviewSolstice: The Quest for the Staff of Demnos
is a lesser-known NES game which puts the player in control of a wizard named Shadax
who is looking for the magical Staff of Demnos in order to save Princess Eleanor from his rival wizard, Morbius. The game is displayed in a 3D isometric view.
An extremely challenging game due to its large map with minimal navigational help, Solstice is memorable due to the fact that it is extremely difficult to complete without the player creating a hand-made map of the game in order to remember where to go. There are several hundred rooms in Solstice, each set up differently. The map only shows a small portion of the game world around the player, and as such, it is difficult to remember the layout of the entire game world.
Due to the isometric display of the game world, players were forced to adapt to a diagonal control scheme. For example, if a player pressed Up on the control pad, Shadax would move in the northeast direction on the screen. Although Shadax is also able to jump, his range for jumping is fairly small until he obtains a certain item.
Though there are enemies in Solstice, they usually move in set patterns. For this reason, a player can get through a room by planning and timing his or her movements. The game is based more on planning than on reflexes, as quick and sudden movements are rarely necessary. Stationary objects such as spikes will also kill Shadax if he touches them. Unless he happens to be using a potion which prevents his death at the time, Shadax will always die in one hit, which can make the game very difficult when trying to get through more complex or challenging rooms.
The player is able to obtain and use an assortment of potions for use during gameplay. Some make Shadax invincible, while others cause all enemies on the screen to stop their movement. Although the potions are useful, it is possible to finish the game without their usage.
The game also features temporary items that only exist in the room they are found. These are usually boxes or balls that roll across the screen. These types of items can be picked up by the player and released (but will disappear the player leaves the room). These types of items can be arranged in a manner that will allow the player to reach rooms (or areas of a room) that would be inaccessible through the use of normal jumping. This can sometimes involve placing an object onto something that the player could not normally touch (such as an enemy) to allow them to move across the room.
Other items that can be obtained are keys (which allow the player to access certain areas), extra continues, and permanent items which usually affect how the player moves. The sections of the Staff of Demnos also appear as items in the gameplay world. The entire staff must be assembled for the player to win the game.