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Let's Play (and snark at) Riviera: The Promised Land!
Shield Of Doom

[table of contents]
In Which Surprisingly Little of the Game is Covered
I suppose I'll start the game now. Be warned: This update is long. I spent more time on the mechanics than I thought I would.

Riviera begins, as many stories do, with an opening scroll. Since it does a decent job of explaining the backstory, I'll transcribe it in full here:

Asgard, home of the gods...

Utgard, land of the demons...

Ragnarok—the war between gods and the demon invaders—cast the world into a state of violent chaos.

Overrun by demons, Asgard teetered on the brink of destruction.

In desperation, the gods broke the ancient covenant and created the black-winged Grim Angels.

Each armed with a Diviner, the angels descended to battle...

The battle raged on, but through their valiant efforts, the angels ended the war.

The demons were sealed away, but the gods would soon follow.

Leaving their power behind in the heavenly isle of Riviera, the gods entrusted the land's inhabitants to watch over it until their return…

1000 years passed quietly...

Signs of the demons' return were rumored throughout Riviera.

The Seven Magi, proxies of the gods, made a decision for the sake of Asgard's existence...

...To activate the divine power of destruction, "The Retribution."

The Magi appointed this task to beings well-suited for the job...

Black-winged agents of death, the Grim Angels...

Now, two angels shall descend upon the sacred soil of Riviera.

With that out of the way, the game can actually begin, with Chapter 1: Angelic Advent. This chapter concerns the Grim angels spoken of in the opening scroll as they travel to Riviera. To do this, they must venture through the pretentiously-named Heaven's Gate.

Now, I should talk a bit about how this game is structured. Each chapter consists of a single dungeon, and each dungeon contains nine (always nine) stages. In short, Riviera is a rare (or perhaps unique) example of an arcade-style RPG. A roleplay-'em-up, if you will. It works better than you'd think.

Anyway, I start by entering stage 1-1, Angel's Memorial. Upon doing so, two people and a winged cat enter. One of the people (who has blonde hair, red clothes, and black angel wings), says that Riviera should be just beyond Heaven's Gate (Wait, "should"?). The text box identifies him as Ledah, and his features give away his identity as a Grim Angel.

The other guy is our protagonist, Ein. He has brown hair, gray clothes, a blue cape, and no wings (though his sprite shows him with blue hair and a gray cape—this game's sprite work is often lacking). Ledah comments that everything must seem new to Ein, before telling him to stay out of the way.

The cat (Rose) moves forward a bit, and a giant purple wolf appears out of nowhere. Ein immediately asks what it is, and the colours of the background suddenly invert for no reason. A black bar then appears at the top of the screen with text on it identifying this as an Enemy Encounter. Rose then claims that "those are demons," even though there's only one of them. Ein and Ledah make some comments to the effect that there weren't supposed to be any demons here before preparing to fight using their Diviners.

Ledah and Ein introduce their Diviners to nobody in particular: Ledah uses a spear called Lorelei, and Ein uses a sword (duh) called Einherjar. They brandish their weapons, and let me tell you, they honestly look more like toys than anything I would expect to find on a battlefield. Ledah, however, insista that they are powerful weapons, and I'll have to believe him because that's all we have. The game then asks whether I want to fight or run (always fight; there's no reason to ever run), and this is followed by an out-of-character explanation of how to select the items I'll be using to fight.

After Ein and Rose are done, I'm brought to the item selection screen and told to choose 4 items to bring into battle. Right now, though, I only have the aforementioned silly-looking holy weapons, and Lorelei is mandatory (because Ledah refuses to use anything else). Immediately after choosing Einherjar and confirming that I really want to make my only possible choice, I'm thrown into...

...another tutorial, this one on selecting and using items.

After skipping through it, I can actually fight! Huzzah! It only took me...seven paragraphs to get here. Anyway, Riviera is unique in that you can't select targets for your attacks. Instead, whatever item you're using will display the enemy (or enemies) it targets. Furthermore, different characters use different attacks with items. For example, Ein can use Einherjar to do a Slash attack that hits the entire front row for decent damage, but anyone else will just throw it at a random target for pathetic damage (except Ledah, who can't even do that).

Anyway, I select Einherjar and Ein slashes the single enemy (a Hell Hound, if you're curious) for around 100 damage. Ledah then uses Lorelei to perform an attack known as "Divide", which does 4 fire-elemental hits. Two of them miss, but the remaining two do a good amount of damage. Anyway, Ein then uses Lorelei, which in his hands does a basic fire spell against a random enemy. It misses, likely because it has the Low% property. This gives it a much lower hit rate than normal. Ledah then finishes the fight with an attack I'm not supposed to know how to use, and I claim a Potion as my reward. The game also grades my fight based on how quickly I won and what kind of attack I used, giving me an S rank.

Rest assured, I'll never go into that kind of detail on a fight again. At any rate, the characters discuss the item that the demon dropped, and how it restores health. Ledah then suggests that any items I can find will be essential (not really; most of them suck). Rose then tells me how to open the menu (Select), and I'm given control.

Now I'm going to talk about my current characters.

Ein - Honestly, Ein's lucky I have to use him in every fight, or I'd almost never use him. He can use every weapon that the other characters specialize in, but his attacks with them are decidedly average. He specializes in the use of swords, which are the most generic weapon type, though they have their uses. He also resists Dark elemental attacks quite well, which is nice.

Ledah - I'm not going to mince words here: Ledah sucks. This is entirely due to the fact that he refuses to use any weapon other than Lorelei. Fortunately, the tutorial is designed so that he'll look useful, but if he was anywhere else his inability to do anything other than swing his fancy spear around would quickly wear out its welcome. He resists fire, and has a crippling weakness to ice damage.

I should also go over movement, because this is a major point where the gameplay differs from normal JRPGs. Instead of having free movement, you're given a list of directions you can move in. Pressing the corresponding button immediately moves you onward. At any rate, I can only move to the right, so I do so.

Ledah's spider sense goes off as I do, and a purple-robed man appears in front of us. This man is named Hector, he's one of the Magi, and he's so obviously the main villain that I don't even consider it a spoiler. I mean, listen for a moment to his theme music and tell me you can't tell his intentions right off. Anyway, he asks for a status report, and gets one. He then suggests that the demon was under someone's command, before ordering us to continue to Riviera. He then goes on about history repeating itself for a while before repeating his orders. He also comments that he won't be able to contact us in Riviera and disappears.

The next screen has nothing of interest, so we move forward again. On the following screen, Rose detects some more demons to fight. I then select my items (all of them again), and one of the demons (a little guy with a hammer) makes a scripted attack with his ultimate move: Devastator, an attack that knocks off about 60% of your party's current HP. As soon as Ein gets a turn, he drinks that Potion I got from the last enemy. Potions heal 75% of the user's health, and can be used by anyone who isn't Ledah. Rose then tells me to press R to get information on the effects of the item I have highlighted. Nothing else interesting hapens in the fight, but the hammer guy dodged enough attacks that I lost my S-rank.

Ein assumes that he's invincible with the Potion, but Rose promptly bursts his bubble by explaining item durability. The Potion had 3 uses at the start of the battle, and I used it once. After two more uses, it'll be instantly removed from my inventory. Lorelei and Einherjar, however, are have infinite uses. This won't be as much of a problem as you might expect, though, because most items worth using have more charges than I could possibly use up.

Anyway, there's no path forward, so I'm forced to go back. This prompts Ledah and Rose to explain how dungeon exploration works. Up to now I've been in Move mode, where I can move between areas. By pressing X, I can switch between that and Look mode, which obviously lets me examine things. In Look mode, icons appear on things I can examine. Post-tutorial, an icon that lets me examine the nearby cliff appears. Doing so, Ein discovers that there's a ledge below it. Rose then explains how most things you can examine in Look mode require a Trigger Point to examine (the icons for these are red). I can get Trigger Points by winning battles efficiently and will basically never run out. I exit Look mode, and find that I can now drop down the ledge. Doing so, I've finished the first stage.

...Wow. I did not expect to write so much for the first stage. I'll try to keep future updates more concise. Voting's still open, by the way (in case anybody else actually wants to vote, that is).
4th May '11 6:00:46 AM flag for mods
comments
This is a game I always wanted to play but could never find time for.

I vote for Sierra.
gentlemanorcus 4th May 11
Ah, I have fond memories of this game. I've been meaning to play the rerelease (I own a cheap, preowned and w/o a manual copy), but I'd made such progress in the GBA version that I wasn't sure if it was worth starting from scratch again. Perhaps reliving my experiences through this liveblog will reawaken my interest in the game...or at least goad me into trying out that PSP version of Knights in the Knightmare that's been gathering dust on my shelf.

As for voting, I'm going to go with Fia, mainly to diversify the vote.
EndarkCuli 4th May 11
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