Wow, did Atari ST players get screwed with this game. That screenshot above is the only endgame that I got. Amy, who played the Amiga version, got a nice animated ending in which the volcano collapses, the world is restored (even mountains grow in the background), and the party zips back to town for a celebration. I got this one screen. After all that work.
The end of the game came so quickly after the last posting that it surprised me. Granted, it did take me a while to navigate the DAIN path, and I'm afraid I only have a little to relate about that experience. I videoed the entire thing, trusting that I'd recount it later (and take screenshots) from the video, but I accidentally closed the video program without saving it, and I didn't feel like repeating the path.
Suffice to say that DAIN called into play a lot of wizard spells. There was one corridor in which I faced an endless army of water elementals and creatures that I called "phantom tentacles" but I see now their actual name is "rives." They were non-material, so I had to hack at them with my one vorpal sword and keep casting "Weaken Nonmaterial Beings" from my other characters. It took almost an hour, and I was starting to wonder if they spawned endlessly, but finally I killed them all and was able to move forward.
|These might be the weirdest-looking creatures in the game.|
There were some other clever puzzles involving teleporting mists that redirected spells, and by figuring out the direction of the redirection, I could blast enemies and open doors.
On the upper levels (before the Diabolical Demon Director) was a large area full of flying serpents and hidden pits. Although I now knew how to look for them by tilting my monitor and watching for the lines, I still fell into an absurd number of them. Finally, I found the right keys and buttons to make my way out of the area.
|And these are the coolest.|
I had already cleared the way to the DAIN entrance from the DDD level, which made it easier. The Corbum ore for the level had the usual pit traps around it, only some of them were "false pits." This was clued by a message on the wall that read "EYES LIE."
|Notice that it looks like I'm standing on a pit as I retrieve that Corbum ore.|
With all four pieces of the Corbum ore, it was time to head upstairs. I chose to simply enter via the closest staircase, only a few steps from where I found the DAIN Corbum ore.
When I was finished with the game, I looked online for a map of the level, and I was astonished to see that I'd only mapped a fraction of it. Somehow I ended up emerging in a place extremely close to the endgame. I barely encountered any difficultly on the level, and it feels a little like I cheated.
|My map of the level (top) versus the full map of the level (bottom), courtesy of the Dungeon Master Encyclopedia.|
I think perhaps the reason I had sosuch an easy time is that I saved my "Skeleton Key" and used it on a lock here, opening a secret passage to the final area. Perhaps if I'd used that key elsewhere, I would have had to go the long way around?
Either way, I found myself in combat with a slew of salamander demons (or, I see now, just "demons"), against whom I liberally used my magic freezing boxes, FUL bombs, poison potions, and other magic items that I'd been hoarding. I had screwed myself in Dungeon Master by not saving a couple of magic boxes for the final level, when they would have been extremely helpful against Chaos, so I erred too much on the other side here. I managed to kill the demon with nary a scratch on me, recovered a "master key" from one's corpse, and used it to open a nearby lock to the final area.
Lord Chaos was waiting for me, casting fireballs, and for a while I tried to engage him. I still had a few boxes left, and I froze him, pummeled him, cast various spells, but couldn't kill him no matter what. I finally realized that it wasn't my goal to kill him, so I skirted past him and found myself at the FUL YA pit.
|He looks pissed.|
The FUL YA pit featured an normal-looking pit with what looked like a "black flame" monster on the other side. I figured I needed to toss the Corbum ore in the actual pit, and threw all four pieces down there before I realized nothing had happened and I'd lost my Corbum. I reloaded and hurled them across the pit at the thing that looked like a black flame, and that's where they were destroyed.
|This was satisfying, but it would have been better if Chaos had shown up, screaming "NOOOOOO!" while I did it.|
My reward, as I said, was that single screenshot above, followed by a listing of my characters and their final levels. I don't mind saying I feel a little cheated.
|My characters rose but a few levels during the game. None of them rose at all as ninjas. I wonder if I'll get to use them again in Dungeon Master II.|
And what the hell were all those gems for? Some of them were a pain in the neck to get!
|Leyla with all the mysterious stuff that seemed to have no purpose, including a lock pick set, three rabbit's feet, a magnifying glass, a rope, and three gems.|
Here's a few minutes of video of the endgame:
As I said, the end came so quickly that I'm a little stunned. I figured I'd have two or three more postings, and I had planned to cover magic and combat in detail. I guess that's not terribly necessary, since things haven't changed in those departments since Dungeon Master. I'm not sure Chaos Strikes Back even featured any spells that Dungeon Master didn't (I didn't find any spell scrolls, anyway). Thus, you can always read my "Runic Magic" and "Battling Forward" postings if you want to learn about those mechanics.
I'm also sorry that I didn't get to finish any narrated video on this one, but a) Chaos Strikes Back might be the most videoed game in existence. Watch Amy's series if you want to see it in action, or check out the amazing 8-minute speed run that Georges linked to in a recent comment; and b) no matter how much I tried to plan the narrative on the one video I lost, this is what it was sounding like:
Okay, so there's a neat puzzle at the end of this hallw--oh, #*$*@! I forgot about that hidden pit. All right. I think the stairs are over...ah, @#)$! Where did he come from?! Let me just quickly mix a potion to heal...well, he's dead. I don't even know where the nearest...you know what? I'm just going to fireball myself to death and start over. Okay. So, now I just have to press the...what the...OW! That worked last time! Maybe I need to go over....AAAAAAAGGH! Why do I keep forgetting about that pit?!
But you know what? Now that it's all over, it doesn't seem like it was that hard.