is a freeware-turned-digital indie game by Japanese developer NIGORO. It's an incredibly difficult Myst-meets-Metroidvania that's absorbed my life for the past month or so, and I wanted to submit something from it for Crusade. I initially tried to come up with some movesets for Lemeza, the protagonist, but they all came out rather... generic. It was then that I realized that it was not the characters of La-Mulana that should be represented, but the world and setting itself.
La-Mulana focuses on Japanese-American archaeologist Lemeza Kosugi's attempts to discover (and, eventually, destroy) the secrets of the titular ruins of La-Mulana, bizarre ruins which seem to contain cultural signifiers of ancient cultures from all over the world. The ruins are not easy to explore, however - they are filled with puzzles and traps.
As a stage, La-Mulana would be around the scale of Palutena's Temple or Great Cave Offensive - a massive stage built for 6-player matches. Unlike those stages, the stage itself would also be filled with a variety of traps and gimmicks. Rather than try to propose a layout for the stage itself, it would be more effective to propose these stage elements. I've proposed one element from every area of the ruins - note, however, that many areas come in pairs, with front sides
and back sides
. If at all possible, at least one element or trap from each pair should be present in the stage, but I've proposed elements from all areas.FIELD 1FRONT SIDE - GATE OF GUIDANCE
As the iconic introductory area of the game, most of the stage should be primarily patterned around its South American stylings. The huge Olmec face which appears in the background several times, in particular, should be included.BACK SIDE - GATE OF ILLUSION
The room in which you fight Chi You is iconic, but not so much for the boss itself as the structure hanging overhead. After beating the boss, if you linger in the room this structure will fall on you, killing you instantly. Though it should perhaps not be quite as powerful in Crusade, it could easily fall and crush battlers who linger underneath it for massive damage.FIELD 2FRONT SIDE - MAUSOLEUM OF THE GIANTS
This area holds many statues of ancient heroes, which stand overhead and act as both platforms and landmarks. The statue of Bud, however, is especially memorable, as when the player solves a certain puzzle it will collapse - possibly crushing the player underneath for another instant-death trap. This statue, similarly, could serve as a platform for players to fight on and around, but it would be at risk of collapsing - damaging players underneath.BACK SIDE - GRAVEYARD OF THE GIANTS
This icy-themed area has one puzzle revolving around these small platforms. In addition to having slippery ice physics, they descent slowly while the player is standing on them and rise when he is not. Including these platforms (with a spiky pit beneath) is the obvious choice of feature to take from this area.FIELD 3FRONT SIDE - TEMPLE OF THE SUN
A huge pyramid serves as the centerpiece of this field. At its top is this disc which is meant to represent the sun. When the player attacks it enough, it falls off and rolls away, revealing a warp to another area - but crushing the player underneath if they fail to move out of the way quickly enough for yet another instant death trap. Bringing this disc over is an obvious choice - but, in a multiplayer game, the fact that it rolls away would allow it to be used offensively, as you could attack it until it falls off and then move out of the way, allowing it to crush other players unlucky enough to stand in its path.BACK SIDE - TEMPLE OF MOONLIGHT
This pit filled with human remains makes for a striking and memorable setpiece - especially when some of the skeletons within start getting up and moving around! An area of the stage having this pit of bones would be a good choice, especially if living skeletons crawl out of it and start tossing bones to attack.FIELD 4FRONT SIDE - SPRING IN THE SKY
This watery area is an obvious choice to model an area of the stage around, particularly with its use of waterfalls flowing into large pools. If water is implemented, this would be a good place to put it, and even if not waterfalls flowing in the background makes for a striking visual.BACK SIDE - TOWER OF THE GODDESS
This field's back side lacks any water theming (for lore reasons), but it DOES have these gigantic scales, used as part of a particularly difficult puzzle to get the game's ultimate weapon. These make for an obvious platform setpiece, their balance changing when players stand on them and, possibly, when huge gems drop onto them from machines in the background.FIELD 5FRONT SIDE - INFERNO CAVERN
These reverse crushers (an active one on the right and an inactive one on the left) are activated by the player as part of a puzzle, but in the stage they could simply activate on their own. Straightforward and simple.BACK SIDE - TOWER OF RUIN
These more mechanical crushers are smaller and more plentiful, but equally straightforward.FIELD 6FRONT SIDE - CHAMBER OF EXTINCTION
This area's boss, Palenque, appears at first as a mural in the background before coming to life for an obligatory shmup level. I could not find an image of the mural itself (and it disappears after you beat the boss, so I couldn't find it just by playing my save), but I could of the boss itself. The mural could appear in the background, but have all the guns of the boss, serving as a dynamic and striking hazard.BACK SIDE - CHAMBER OF BIRTH
This area is filled with mudman spawners (to the left of this screenshot), which endlessly spawn mudmen enemies from their man-shaped holes to pursue Lemeza. These die in one hit to any weapon, but eventually collapse on their own. These spawners and enemies could be brought over essentially unchanged.FIELD 7TWIN LABYRINTHS
This area's gimmick is that the front and back sides are intertwined. This mostly manifests in making navigation a nightmare, which is difficult to bring across in a fighting game stage. This room, however, houses the "unsolvable puzzle", which is an iconic and memorable puzzle. Its platform layout, too, is interesting and easy to copy for a portion of the stage.FIELD 8FRONT SIDE - ENDLESS CORRIDOR
This area's main gimmick - that it is made up of endlessly looping floors, each of which holds a puzzle that must be solved to move onto the next - is also difficult to represent, but this floor's gimmick fits nicely - these huge sawblades extend and retract from the walls in regular intervals, dealing huge damage when touched.BACK SIDE - DIMENSIONAL CORRIDOR
This area is essentially a huge boss rush, so the best way to represent it is through one of its bosses. This one, Ushum, works exactly like how you'd expect from looking at it - it flies around the room and can only be damaged by attacking its head. Having it spawn in from offscreen and fly around the stage for a while before disappearing would work nicely.FIELD 9SHRINE OF THE MOTHER
The final area of La-Mulana has a distinctive aesthetic, with these massive roots or tentacles tangled through it. Having them appear throughout the stage, acting as platforms (except for the small red branches, which wave around and deal damage when touched) is the best way to represent itFIELD XHELL TEMPLE
This optional bonus area is infamously one of the all-time hardest challenges in gaming history, and I did not want to go through it again just to get a screenshot of this area. However, it contains a quite iconic trap, the final instant-death trap in the game - when you attempt to cross through a particular screen transition, a fist comes out of the wall and crushes you to death, forcing you to find another way around (You also get an achievement in the Steam version, the icon of which I used here). This would be an entirely random and unpredictable trap - at random (but probably with a low chance), a fist could simply come out of any wall in the stage and hit a player for massive damage.