Shalom: Knightmare III is an adventure game developed by Konami for the MSX, the third game in the Knightmare series. Taking place many years after after the previous games, the player controls a regular college student who is drawn into the Knightmare world by a cursed computer game, and told he must defeat the Demon King Gog before he can return home.
The game came out in Japan in 1987, but was never officially released anywhere else. An English fan translation, based on an earlier Portuguese version, was however made available in 2003.
The game starts in the real world, as a young college student discovers his classmate has a copy of the newest Konami game – Shalom: Knightmare III. Nabbing it from her, he quickly boots it up, only to find himself drawn into the computer. Everything goes black, and as he wakes up, he is greeted by Butako, a talking pig, who informs him the game was cursed, and that he is trapped inside of its world until he can stop the Demon King Gog.
It has been decades since the events of the previous Knightmare games, and Popolon and Aphrodite have long since passed. Their son, Pampas, now rules the Greek Realm as king, but he is old, sick and bedridden. Butako leads the student to him, and the king believes the newcomer to be their savior, telling the him of the prophecy of Gog’s return, and warning him that 8 of the demon’s lieutenants have already come to prepare for their master’s arrival. The king also asks for an additional favor, that the student look for his daughter, Princess Chelsea, who has been missing for over two weeks.
Unfazed by all that’s happened, the student sets out to find clues as to where the Princess and the 8 demon henchmen could be, with Butako tagging along.
Shalom is an adventure game and, aside from the boss battles, contains no combat, making it quite unlike its predecessors. Instead, the player must talk to the inhabitants of the world to gather clues, find items, and solve puzzles to track down and defeat the 8 demon servants of Gog.
The game uses a slightly skewed top-down perspective, and a tiled flip screen world map. It generally leaves the player free to explore all available areas in any order, but new areas are typically only accessible after the next demon has been defeated. Games can be saved at any of the 10 monks scattered throughout the world, using disk or tape storage, or a 130 character password. Death is rare, though can happen if the player fails certain puzzles, falls into certain holes, or is defeated by a boss.
All interaction with the world is done though a command menu. The commands will target the tile in front of the player character, and an invalid target will usually result in a mocking response from Butako, though occasionally she will provide hints or trigger story progress.
- TALK – Converse with the target. Some characters will have additional dialog if used several times.
- LOOK – Look at the target.
- EXAMINE – Physically examine the target.
- GET – Take an item.
- USE – Use an item from the inventory on the target.
- SHOW – Show the target an item from the inventory.
- GIVE – Give the target an item from the inventory.
- TO DO – A special contextual command that gives access to additional commands when used at the right time.
The boss fights differ from the rest of the game, as they present the player with a mini-game to overcome. Several are simple side-view action platformers, reminiscent of Knightmare II, where the player must throw knives at the boss’ vulnerable part while dodging his attacks. Others provide a similar fight in the top down perspective of the main game, draw in gameplay from other well known game types like Breakout or sliding block puzzles, or must be overcome using the command menu.
Aside from the main conceit of the main character being a gamer from the “real world”, the game does break the fourth wall occasionally, requiring the player to take actions outside of the game world to progress. After getting swallowed by quicksand for example, the player is faced with a game over screen, but can get rescued if he presses the question mark key, as certain characters will advise him.
Shortly afterwards the player is face with a broken bridge, which only becomes usable after the player saves and then loads the game. And an optional quest at the aptly named Reset Village even goes as far as resetting the system if the player tries to complete it without meeting all its criteria.