Weirdly, after patching my ROM file, it would not run in NESTopia. It did, however, run on the Analogue Pocket where I played it. I think this is the first time I’ve seen a legitimate, objective benefit to the FPGA in the Pocket.
Like many NES games, the key to success here is taking the time to get powered up early. I hadn’t done that at first, and I kept dying. So I reset my file completely, started over, farmed the easy levels to get my sword strength and money up, and had a much easier time.
These kind of games almost always fall apart on balance and are either way too hard in the beginning, way too easy by the end, or both (looking at you, Kid Icarus). Getsu Fuuma Den does NOT suffer from this. Even after you’ve collected everything and have the ultimate weapon, the trip to the final boss is fun, and the final boss fight itself is a challenge.
I was once again surprised by a very forgiving Continue system. You get 3 lives per continue, each Continue restores all extra lives which could be found in levels (so you can go back and get them every time if you want), and when you get Game Over, the only thing you lose is half your money. You don’t have to go hunting for items or power up your sword again.
Yet again the music is stuck in my head. To no one’s surprise, it’s great.