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The Legend of Sword and Fairy (simplified Chinese: 仙剑奇侠传Template:; traditional Chinese: 仙劍奇俠傳Template:; pinyin: Xiān Jiàn Qí Xiá Zhuàn), is an action RPG developed by Taiwan's Softstar Entertainment. Set in ancient China, the game is based on the Wuxia genre with elements of fantasy. With the first of the series released in 1995, the game became one of the most successful video game franchises in both Taiwan and mainland China.
Names in English
The game's name has been unofficially translated into English titles as such "The Magic Sword and the Chivalrous Youngsters", "Chinese Paladin" (This name is now officially used in the online version of "The Legend of Sword and Fairy") or the abbreviated title "PAL"(This name has ever been officially used (please refer to the file name of DOS ver.)). Softstar officially named it "The Legend of Sword and Fairy" upon the release of the sequel.
There are many subtle differences between the numerous versions of the game. The plot provided in this section is based on the PC game versions for Windows 95 and 98.
The protagonist, Li Xiaoyao, is an ordinary 19-year-old boy who lives in a small fishing village near Suzhou, China. During a quest to seek a cure for his ill aunt, he travels to a strange island out at sea, where he meets a fairy named Zhao Ling'er. He is forced to marry her and remain on the island forever, but manages to escape home with the cure for his aunt. However, he loses memory of his adventure on the island and does not remember Zhao when he meets her again. This time, Zhao's home has been destroyed by some enemies and Li decides to accompany her to southwestern China to find her mother, who may still be alive.
Li and Zhao arrive in Suzhou and meet Lin Yueru, the spoiled daughter of a wealthy martial artist. Unexpectedly, Li emerges as champion in a martial arts contest and wins Lin's hand-in-marriage. Li and Lin are engaged but Zhao disappears mysteriously on their wedding night and they set of to find her. Their search brings them to Sichuan, where the Mount Shu Sect, a powerful martial arts clan, is based. They learn that Zhao is actually a half-serpent spirit and has been imprisoned inside the Demon Prison Tower by the sect's elders. Li and Lin break into the tower and succeed in rescuing Zhao after making a perilous descent to its lowest level, but suffer grave injuries when the tower collapses on itself during their escape.
The trio are saved by a herbal medicine guru, who tells Li that Zhao is pregnant with his child, and that Lin has died from her wounds. Li is deeply saddened but he has a more important task to do, which is, to retrieve two rare items to save Zhao and his baby's lives. During his quest, he meets and befriends A'nu, a white Miao princess. They are currently in southwestern China, where the Miao people live. The land is plagued by a prolonged drought and the white and black Miao are at war over scarce resources. Li completes his mission and Zhao recovers, after which she calls for a rainstorm and restores peace to the land. They discover that the drought is orchestrated by an evil black Miao cleric. Li, Zhao and A'nu confront him and manage to defeat him after a battle, but Zhao sacrifices herself to destroy a monster summoned by the cleric.
Li is traumatized by the loss of his two close friends, who are also his love interests. He bids A'nu farewell and walks away alone. Just then, he sees Lin, carrying his child. Lin's reappearance at the end of the game is often disputed, but the official story released by the producers claim that Lin is indeed dead and cannot be resurrected. However, her body may be brought back to life, but she will never be the same as before because her soul is dead.
The player guides the characters through southern China in landscapes consisting of cities, mazes, and wilderness. The game has no overland map; entry points to subsequent locations can always be found on the current location's screen. The story is mostly linear. Once the player completes the quest associated with a particular location, there is usually no reason to return (In most cases, return is impossible, as either the entrance is destroyed or you travel to the new location via a game mechanic). Hidden items and quests are available, but they do not affect the story's progression.
When the characters engage in combat, they are taken to a separate combat screen. Battles are purely turn based. Certain ability scores of the combatants determine which party acts first, and then actions alternate between the player characters and the enemies. The actions taken during battles mainly consist of normal attacks and casting spells. The players may also defend, throw and use items, and steal from the enemies. Once the appropriate equipment is obtained, the player may also capture monsters to later turn them into beneficial items. The magic system contains the five elements of wind, lightning, ice, fire, and earth, which form the descriptors for the offensive spells, each type able to counter another. There are also spells of no elemental type, such as Li's Wanjian Jue (incantation of ten thousand swords).
The player's equipment is primarily upgraded through treasures gained in mazes and acquisition from shops. Defeating monsters usually make negligible contributions to the player's inventory, but it is the primary source of money. Healing and combat support items can be made from captured monsters as well as bought. The player can also make poison-based weapons using certain types of venomous insects as raw material.
The Legend of Sword and Fairy is developed by the Kuangtu production team (狂徒制作群) of Softstar Entertainment Ltd. with concept work beginning as early as 1991. The group consisted at that time approximately 12 members, some being very young with little experience in game design. The Legend of Sword and Fairy was their first major RPG project. The production manager was Yao Zhuangxian (姚壮宪), who was 22 years old at the time. The game's music was composed by Lin Kunxin, whose most memorable titles include The Butterfly's Love (蝶恋), Martial Arts Contest for Marriage (比武招亲), and Drunken Sword Master (酒剑仙). Lin Jiawen, a graphics artist on the team, was the major contributor to character portraits and animation. She also enthusiastically participated in the designing of the mazes, but her expertise in that area was limited.
Yao faced some turmoil in his love life during the game design process. This influenced him to integrate his own views of love into the game. Yao said, the three female protagonists are based on reality; Zhao Ling'er is like a girlfriend; Lin Yueru is like a lover and A'Nu is like a mate. At some point, there arose a dispute regarding to the fate of two of the female characters in the end. In the finished game, this matter was intentionally made ambiguous where Lin is shown standing under a tree in the ending cinematics even though she is supposedly dead. Yao commented that he invested a great deal of feeling into the story, and the unclear ending was meant to leave events open to the players' imagination. In the years that followed the game's release in 1995, Yao did not wish to openly address questions regarding the game’s ending. (There was an anecdote about the ending: Yao was in favor of Zhao while another producer Xie Chonghui inclined towards Lin. In Yao's blueprint of the whole game, the ending is that Lin's body is intact but her soul is destroyed while Zhao's body has disappeared but her soul exists. However, Xie disagreed with this setting. Eventually, this setting was broke by some final changes and the next version that indicated Lin's body was preserved by a special type of insect.
The Legend of Sword and Fairy is praised to be the pioneer of Chinese RPG. It has deeply affected a whole generation of Chinese, and established a particular Chinese style of story-telling and maze-running RPG. Many Chinese consider it to be one of the most classical RPG games ever made.[ ]
In the first month following the game's release in Taiwan, The Legend of Sword and Fairy sold over 100000 copies. Sales reached 350000 copies in mainland China a month after the game's release there. The game's sales totaled about two million copies, but as many as 20 million copies may be in circulation due to piracy.
The Legend of Sword and Fairy won numerous awards. The game was recognized in 1995 by the Best Role Playing Game award from CEM STAR magazine and the Golden Bag Game award (游戏类金袋奖) from KING TITLE. The Legend of Sword and Fairy was also on the top of the Best PC Game List of the New Gaming Era (新游戏时代) magazine until October 1996, for 14 consecutive months; and topped the "My Favorite Singleplayer PC Game" list in the People's Software (大众软件) magazine for ten years.
The Legend of Sword and Fairy is best characterized as a very memorable tragedy. Its plot, especially the ending, has moved many players to tears. Zhao Ling'er's death and the question of whether or not Lin Yueru was successfully resurrected have fuelled an abundance of forum discussions and fan fiction. Yao Zhuangxian became reputed as the "Father of Xianjian", and many players reverently refer to him as "Immortal Yao".[ ]
Due to popular demand, the Kuangtu production team released New Legend of Sword and Fairy in 2001. Minor changes were made to the storyline; and the graphics was greatly improved using better technology (new visual effcts, reproduced music, some additional storyline details, etc.). The most significant and most requested addition was two new hidden endings. The game's success eventually led to the creation of the subsequent titles in The Legend of Sword and Fairy series, even somewhat against Yao's wishes.
First released in 1995, it is often cited as the most successful video game in Taiwan and mainland China.
Windows 95/98 version
A re-release for the Windows 95/98 platforms. Some bugs (such as typos) in the former version were removed, and the whole difficulty reduced by simplification of mazes. Additionally, three-dimensional AVI clips were introduced in place of the original static pictures. Also, the RIX music used in the DOS version was replaced with MIDI tracks, which is inferior in quality to RIX.
Sega Saturn version
This is a version designed for Sega Saturn console.
This is a remake of the DOS version, with minimal changes to the original story. Two alternate endings are dedicated to the two female protagonists of the story.
Initial release was in 2001, titled as New Legend of Sword and Fairy (simplified Chinese: 新仙剑奇侠传Template:; traditional Chinese: 新仙劍奇俠傳). It was re-released again as the New LSF XP version for the Windows XP platform.
The Xianjian Inn
A restaurant management simulation game released in 2001. The story is based on the original game.
Chinese Paladin Online
A MMORPG has been made and is currently in beta testing.
- Chinese Paladin (TV series)
- Heroes of Jin Yong
- Dragon Oath
- Martial Kingdoms
- Xuanyuan Jian
- Jade Empire
- Heavenly Sword
- Official The Legend of Sword and Fairy website Template:Zh icon
- Softstar's website Template:Zh icon
- Official Chinese Paladin Online website Template:Zh icon
- Li Xiaoyao and Zhao Ling'er fansite
- Xianjian Qixia Zhuan series at MobyGames