There may be some slight spoilers on this page, but nothing major. Beware of spoilers on linked pages, however.
Essential keyboard keysEdit
Here's a quick list of some keyboard keys that you should know about. A more complete list can be found in the manual. You can navigate menus using the arrow keys and the Space key.
- Alt-Enter - Toggles Windowed / Fullscreen mode
- ESC - Brings up the Quit menu
- F1 - Toggles Pause
- F2 - Toggles Item Screen (While in the item screen, you can use the Grail by pressing the numeric keys)
- F3 - Toggles MSX Rom Cartridge Screen (You can choose which cartridge(s) you want loaded in your MSX)
- F4 - Toggles MSX Software Screen (This will show a screen you can't interact with, unless you load certain ROMs)
- F5 - Toggles Options Screen (Here you can load saved games, adjust sound options and volumes, as well as re-bind your keys)
- F6 - Change Screen Strech mode (Hardware stretch/Software stretch)
- F7 - Change Window Size (1024x768, 512x384, 256x192) — This only works in windowed mode
A few notes:
- If the sub-weapon key doesn't seem to work for you, try pressing Shift.
- This game has music. You may need to turn it on manually, from the F5 menu. If you can't seem to turn it on, see the Troubleshooting page.
- To place a weight, press Down.
Saving Your GameEdit
In order to save your game, you must first purchase the Game Master ROM from the MSX shop in the village on the Surface (referred to as the '10x cartridge' in the manual). You can find the MSX shop one screen to the left of the starting screen. There is also a one-time 10 coin pot on the same screen as the MSX shop, which just so happens to be the price of the ROM!
Note that this Game Master will save to slot '0'. To use the other slots, you will have to locate the Game Master 2. This can't be acquired until you've made a lot of progress in the game. It is best to just make full copies of the La Mulana program to separate directories, and save multiple files that way.
In order to successfully navigate the ruins of La-Mulana, you will need a few essential items, most of which can be acquired almost immediately after starting the game.
- Shell Horn (Surface - chest) - makes a sound whenever you solve a puzzle; makes a bad sound whenever you activate a trap
- Hand Scanner (Surface shop - 20 coins) - lets you read things like skeletons, tablets, and signs, and also lets you examine locations (such as cracks in walls) to look for objects
- Glyph Reader (Surface shop - 100 coins) - lets you understand what's on tablets throughout the ruins (and activate teleport points)
- Grail (Guidance Gate - chest) - lets you teleport to the Surface and most of the areas of the game. To use it, open the item screen (F2) and press a number key (0 for Surface, 1 for Guidance Gate, etc.)
Getting stuck in La Mulana is inevitable. While it may be tempting to simply look at the area guides on this wiki, try to avoid doing so unless you are very very stuck. The pages currently give everything up front, and it is likely you will spoil several puzzles for yourself in addition to the puzzle you are currently having problems with. The joy of La Mulana is in solving things for yourself, not following directions as if though cooking something.
The following is a list of general hints to help you get into the right 'head-space' to solve the puzzles and find the necessary items throughout the game.
- Read the manual! A set of html files is located in your La-Mulana folder. They contain a lot of information on items and techniques of the game. Many of your problems can be solved by reading through it. This PDF version of the manual File:Manual.pdf allows for easy printing or reading on a tablet.
- Especially, don't forget that the manual contains descriptions of all items. Be sure to check it when you acquire a new item!
- The Game Master ROM and Hand Scanner should be your first purchases! Since there are 30 coins worth of money in the pots on the surface, this is easy enough to do right away. To earn enough for the Glyph Reader ROM, however, it is best to trek through the Guidance Gate and other areas destroying pots. Enemies simply don't drop money often, or in great amounts.
- To get to the Temple Proper, start at Xelpud's hut — in fact, go inside and have a chat with him. Then, go one screen right, kill the enemy, and climb the ladder. Use a weight on the daise ( File:Daise.png ) there to unseal it. Explore the surface to find the Shell Horn, and then purchase the Game Master ROM before going inside.
- Xelpud usually makes silly references to MSX games when you don't have the Game Master ROM equipped. However, if you've accomplished something major, he might actually give you some useful hints. Remember to de-select Game Master in the ROMs menu once in a while to check in on him.
- If you don't have the Game Master 2 ROM, you can't use the extra save slots. To work around this, duplicate your save files in the La Mulana folder, or just duplicate the entire folder.
- You can use the Hand Scanner on many of the skeletons you find to read their notes. Lots of helpful information and items come from them! You can also read the glyphs if you have the Glyph Reader Rom equipped. If the text is coming up blank all the time, check the Troubleshooting section for details (some glyphs are blank naturally though).
- You can push your way through the red doors ( File:Door.png ) from one side.
- Remember that you can climb down ladders that look like they're half a tile "under" the floor ( File:StairsDown.png ). They may be easy to miss at first.
- The upper loop of the whip strike can actually be used to attack enemies. For a significant portion of the game, this is the only way to attack upwards. Be sure to utilize it on enemies that camp out at the top of ladders.
- Remember: an unprepared explorer is a dead explorer!
- While there are dangerous things in the game, if you have saved the game since making any meaningful progress, don't be afraid to test something that looks dangerous. Moreover, sometimes instances of objects that normally hurt you actually must be struck, touched, or otherwise manipulated to solve puzzles.
- Be a good archaeologist and take pictures! Given that you are probably using a computer to play the game, take screen shots with the Print Screen key, and save them by pasting them into an image editor like MS Paint. This is invaluable for recording the text of glyphs and similar text sources, and can also be a good way of keeping track of suspicious objects. If you are stumped about what to do next, review your collection of pictures for hints. Just make sure to name them something to tell them apart and remember their context. For example, "guidancegate_twostatuesclue_twofacesroom.png" will tell you the field, type of clue, and room it is located in quickly when browsing your images. You may wish to make separate folders for each field, or use similar sorting methods. If you are playing on a hand-held device that can't capture images, at least write down the information in a notebook.
- Look for common themes amongst the text of the game. If glyphs and skeletons constantly mention, just as an example, a red hand, you'll know the red hand is important. Check these sources specifically for additional clues to where the red hand(s) might be. Remember that a good archaeologist keeps his notes in good order; doing so will make cross-referencing easier.
- Just to re-emphasize... always review your collection of information when you get stuck! Sometimes a glyph will make sense when compared to other text or images. Periodically review your notes and inventory to give yourself an idea of what your next overall goals should be.
- If you hear a hollow pinging sound when striking a background object, that object can be broken with a certain weapon or sub-weapon (with the exception of statues that fire projectiles when angered). Keep track of sources of these pings (with screen shots if necessary), and try newly acquired weapons on them as you progress. If an enemy makes this sound when you strike it, you're not hurting it. Try hitting it from a different angle, with a different weapon, or at a different time.
- Watch out! Sometimes information provided on glyphs can be strikingly similar to a puzzle in an area, but actually have nothing to do with it, thereby leading the player astray. Don't be scared to try things, but keep this in mind if the information doesn't seem to help. Always be willing to review your gathered information.
- By the same token, La Mulana can really punish those who are too clever. If you arrive at a complex conclusion that is difficult to investigate, try thinking of simpler possibilities first. La Mulana doesn't want you to learn the Aztec alphabet, honest!
- Don't sweat it too much if a particular area is giving you problems. Sometimes the solution is simply impossible until later on in the game, when certain items are gathered, or certain conditions are met. Many puzzles presented early on can't be dealt with until much later, and clues often don't apply immediately or even soon after discovery. Work on different puzzles and areas if certain ones get you stuck; don't worry about a single stubborn puzzle if there are other things to investigate.
- Sometimes you might not have pulled off the solution correctly. If nothing else seems to work yet you were confident with your first solution, the problem might be you might have pulled it off a pixel short of where it should be or how it should be done, you just weren't a second patient enough for the puzzle to be solved.
- If all else fails, use brute force. Lots of walls and other objects must be attacked and broken to progress. If you are really stuck, and no information provided to you in the game helps, sometimes you are expected to break a wall to access an area which isn't even hinted at by any game text. Not every such area is accessed by breaking walls, either. Sometimes you'll have to locate false walls, floors that break when you stand on them, find warp points by touching an object, enter an enemy producing hole as if though it were a doorway, or place a weight on something other than a pedestal. Strike and touch everything, and press down on every suspicious object or marking (well, not if it's in mid-air...). Sometimes even ceilings and floors can be broken with certain weapons, and there is even one vexing invisible ladder in the game. When you're really stuck, it's time to get thorough!
- Most false walls seem out of place in comparison to the rest of the room or just seem oddly tiled. If it seems suspicious, try whipping it. There are still - unfortunately - walls that give absolutely no indication whatsoever.
- Having said that, you must apply brute force carefully and as a last resort. You may encounter areas where you can become stuck or close off your further progress if you are incautious or unprepared. You may, for instance, accidentally collapse a piece of floor that you might later want to use to support a block. You will find traps that can hurt you badly if you blunder into them. Make sure you look carefully at each new screen before you hit anything, run into any nooks, or place any weights. Look for areas that might be traps. In early fields, the more devious traps tend to manifest as walls that close you into blind walls; in later fields, though, traps tend to be puzzles that can be solved incorrectly to inhibit your progress. Don't be paranoid, don't be discouraged, but do proceed with caution and keep multiple saves (by duplication of the game folder if necessary).
- Sometimes you need to just clear a screen of all enemies to solve a puzzle, even though it's not hinted at anywhere.
- If you find yourself in need of some cash, note that most coin pots (except those on the surface) regenerate their contents when you load your game. For best results, collect coins from pots that are easy to access, save your game, load it immediately, and go collect again. The Guidance Gate has numerous respawning 10 coin pots. (See the Making Money page for details.)