The Lost Golem is a Lost Gem

Now here's a game you most likely won't have heard of. I was going to include this as part of 'Japanese Import Oddness Part Two' (read the first one here) which i will be writing in the near future, but this game really deserves an article of it's own. I have actually owned this game since November, but have only really got around to playing it recently.

I first heard of this game while browsing through Segagaga Domain's Dreamcast write ups. Always a great place to get info on Japanese Sega releases, that. Described as a simple but clever puzzle game, I was intrigued as I do love me a good puzzle game.

So I tried to serach for more info, and came back with nothing. That was until I tried seraching for it by it's Japanese title Golem No Maigo, which gave me two excellent articles about the game by a Jeff M at his blog gogamego. The first claimed it to be "The Dreamcast's Best and Rarest Puzzler" with only around 500 copies sold, that gave a good description of the game play and features.

This was later followed by an interview with the games' developer who revealed that he was a student while producing the game, did a large lump of the work himself, and that the studio who put this out CaramelPot (who's logo looks like the Dreamcast logo stretched out) only ever made this one game before closing.

Now I just had to see this for myself. I was expecting when a copy did eventually show up it would cost a bomb like other rare games like Lack of Love, but it popped up on an Ebay shop for no more than £10, so I bought it.

Graphics wise the characters are very blocky crude models, much like those seen in Sengoku Turb, only in this case we're talking about a small team of student programmers and not the company that produced the Dreamcast's graphics chip. It makes up for the lack of any technical prowess with a very charming art style, including a beautiful colour scheme and characters you will find yourself warming up to, despite how simplistic they are. Even the instruction manual is full of cute child-like drawings of the characters. This charm comes across in the story as well, which I found a translation of at Gamefaqs...

"A Golem got his existence from sorcery conjuring the rocks and soil. The
masters of magic has come to an agreement that there would be only one of
them, nothing more. There were two peaceful countries, Pipiria and Mabel.
The kingdom of Pipiria was composed almost entirely by plains, with some
forests at the northern tip of the land. The magic sorcerers lived in that
forest during the peace time. Mabel, south of Pipiria, had an enormous lake.
On the lake, there was a wizard composing wizardry for Mabel, up on a tall
tower. One day, Pipiria was attacked by goblins and the people of Pipiria
lived in uncertainty and fear every day ever since."

The game manual also suggests that if you are the emotional type, you should get a handkerchief while playing the game. I haven't played enough of the game to see why this is yet and such emotional scenes might end up being lost to those who can't read Japanese, but with the exception of the text in the cut scenes this game can be easily played without any knowledge once you know what menu is what.

So what do you do in this game then? Well, you play as the rock golem with it's big square body and beedy little eyes, who has to guide a king who seems to be lost and has no sense of direction. In each stage you have to guide him from one door to another using walls you can push around to change his direction. You see, much like the Lemmings series of games, every time the king comes across a wall he will turn in the next possible direction, either left or right, and he will do this no matter what. Even if he is about to walk straight towards a hole.

But getting the king into the exit is not all. You also have to make sure all the walls on the stage are linked to the red wall when the level is over, so the Golem can knock them all over in one push. This is where things can get complicated as you need to adjust the walls to move the king towards the goal and link them all together once he is heading in the right path.

There are many stage elements that will complicate matters more such as pole that will make walla rotate 90 degrees, and various types of enemies that will break down walls, get in the kings way or even attempt to kill him. half of the fun comes from seeing just how many ways the king can be bumped off. If a level is driving you mad you can push a wall into him, knocking him off the stage and landing on his fat arse.

There are about 100 or so levels in total with cut scenes inbetween every 10 or so of them. Once you have conqured all of those however the game is not over. Considering what a low budget, small staffed game this was, Caramelpot sure did utilize a lot of the Dreamcast's features. There's also a two player battle mode (which I have yet to try out) but the real life expansion for this game is the stage creator, which gives you free realm to produce a level using any of the games elements and save it to your VMU, as many as you like as far as I can tell. What's more, there is a link to caramelpot's website on the disc where you could download new stages and upload your own for others to play. It's a shame the website has long since vanished as i would have loved to try out some of the user created stages.

A note must also be made for their use of the VMU screen while playing. While it has no real purpose in-game, the animations displayed throughout the game are a nice touch, with a close up of the king's face in which ever direction he is facing, as well as death and victory animations amongst other things.

So if you ever manage to come across this rare but cheap game and like a good puzzle game that will get your brain going, I would defiantly recommended this, so long as you can get over the basic visuals.


Tom Charnock said...

Very interesting - have to be honest, never heard of this game. Like most people I'm not very 'up' on import gaming, but it's an intriguing looking title and has a unique visual style. Top stuff!

Badbrains said...

This game looks pretty cool. I like the character designs, especially that wooden blocky dude.

Caleb said...

Wow. What a cool looking puzzle game.

I can't wait until people get done translating Japanese games like Segagaga and 7 Mansions.

Animated AF said...

I was actually looking at a back up copy of this game the other day and found that most of the games text are images, so it could be easily translated. With the exception of all the cut scene text I could probably use that manual translation to try it myself, although I couldn't get the copy to burn properly..

Caleb said...

Muhahaah! Hey Gagaman(n) they just mentioned you over at the Escapist website on one of their main articles!

They called you a "Dreamcast Dork".

Muhahahahaha! A guy writing about the "Wii Fit" calling someone else a dork?

It's a shame they didn't use my video as well. They just showed that Japanese kid's video who didn't even use the movement stick to play.

Animated AF said...

Aww, but the Virtua Tennis video is so much better. Never mind, more visitors for us I guess!

Jeff M said...

Hi, I'm the Jeff M you mentioned in your article. I now have a website dedicated to Lost Golem ( It contains my review and interview you mentioned. Plus, it also includes every cut scene from the game. So, for those who can't make it all the way through, you still get to enjoy the story. The first page is dedicated for Lost Golem fans to leave questions and comments about the game.