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Take a powder, and Let's Liveblog Eternal Sonata!
Nyperold

[table of contents]
Preliminaries and from the first cutscenes to reaching Tenuto
(The posts up to where the party leaves Viola's house are repostings from the forum.)

So, I'm now starting a liveblog of Eternal Sonata for the Xbox 360!

Eternal Sonata, as I've mentioned in places, is my killer app for the Xbox 360. Yes, on this system with seemingly mostly FPSes and sports games, the game that convinces me to get it is an RPG. (And since then, I've bought my first Final Fantasy since 3 for the DS: Final Fantasy 13, and the series entry with the next highest number is Final Fantasy 6 Advance. But this isn't about these.)

Storywise, it's a fictional account of the dying dream of famed Polish composer and pianist Frederic Francois Chopin. But is it just a dream, or is he actually in a different reality? This question comes up both inside and outside the dream, and the contrast between the answers is quite striking, as you'll see.

The detail level will mostly be according to what I feel like, but probably:

So now that we've started, let's have some cutscenes!

If you don't like cutscenes at all, certainly you're free to hit Start then B to skip over each one; otherwise, you're probably going to be judging them on a case-by-case basis and therefore want to see all of them at least the first time. I personally do not skip cutscenes unless I've already seen a certain one that play session, like say I lost against a boss that had a significantly long cutscene preceding it; if I don't skip it, I'm watching a cutscene I just watched, and that gets annoying.

The first cutscene features the girl from the front of the box, a cute young teen, standing at the edge of a cliff in a very red world. She seems to be trying to convince herself to do something, because it's for the person who means the most to her, and his life is more important than hers, and that makes it easy.

And so, she lets herself fall off. As she plummets headfirst, she thanks everyone simultaneously, for although her time was short, it was the best time she's ever had. Thinking of the person, she wonders if a blown kiss would reach him from there. She doesn't think it would...

Now, a new scene. Lovely scenery, relaxing, almost sleepy music (Field: NO. 01, "Reflect the Sky, Blossom of Life"), and... narration, telling us about the natural beauty of the location, comparing it to a concert. (By the way, I like the voice of the English narrator better.) It tells us about the town of Tenuto, which is called the "Village of Flowers".

Tenuto: an Italian term meaning "sustained" or "held".

It also mentions a harbor town that can be seen from Tenuto. The lights seem like diamonds in the night.

One thing I noticed was that it said there are no shops in Tenuto. Basically, all the items there are to buy have to be bought elsewhere, is what I took it to mean.

Back at the field of flowers, a woman and an adorable little girl walk. Apparently, the woman is the girl's mother. The girl asks about waves. The woman says it's because of the moon, which is true, but then she goes on to say it's the beauty of the moon that excites the waters and causes waves. When the girl asks if it's true, her mother asks if the girl doesn't feel her heart fluttering when she looks at the moon. She does. That proves it, right there.

She notices a puddle, though, and asks if it, too, makes waves like the ocean does. No, her mother says, because there isn't enough water in it, and you need a lot of that to make waves. The girl thinks that's weird. She goes back to look at the puddle, and her reflection within. Her mother tells her that how much water there is is the most important part, and says that the same is probably true of people. She speaks of things that charm the hearts of people in the same way: wealth, vanity, status, image, and power. People drawn to them make waves, and fear exacerbates them. And the number of people involved makes the waves all the bigger. And this is what leads to terrible conflicts. The girl walks back to her. The woman says it's probably going over her head. Well, yeah! What is she, 4? 5? 6, maybe? And you're talking about that?

Oh, but it gets better. She tells her, as they walk away from the puddle, that if such a conflict were to happen during her lifetime, she might just have to jump into that sea, because that'll calm down the waves. And however difficult it may be, her effort will bring joy to the person who means the most to her. The girl cheerfully agrees. Oh dear.

The woman goes on to say how insulting it is to compare sea water stirred by the moon's beauty to human desire. Sigh.

A physician and a woman are watching a man sleep in bed. The woman notes that the man seems to have calmed down, not seeming to be in pain as he was. The physician figures he may be having a pleasant dream. The woman hopes that means he's on his way to full recovery, but the physician has heard that the most pleasant dreams often come prior to death. This upsets the woman. The physician apologizes, and hopes it's merely an old wives' tale. The woman says "Frederic..." as we look at the man. Apparently, he's Frederic.

Chapter 1: Raindrops

Path to Tenuto

(Tune: Field: NO. 10, "A Relaxing Place")

The girl from the beginning emerges from a tunnel onto the path. She guesses she took longer than usual, notes that her mother is likely worried about her, and decides she'd better get home before dark.

By the way, leave her idle long enough, and she'll sneeze. She never does so in a cutscene, however.

Let's check status by pressing Y and selecting the girl.

The girl's name is Polka.

Polka: Lively Bohemian folk dance in 2/4 time.

She wields a Cute Umbrella (ATK +5. Very lovely umbrella.) and wears Handmade Clothes (DEF +4. Handmade clothes that have been repeatedly altered over the years.) Wait, does that mean that this is essentially the same outfit that she wore in that other cutscene? Anyway, she has no Accessories equipped.

Special Attacks

Orange Glow is a healing move that determines which party member within 25 feet of Polka needs the most HP and heals him or her. This potentially includes Polka. Of course, since Polka is the only one currently in the party, it will automatically heal her if used.

Shade Comet is a long-range attack that fires at one enemy and also damages ones near the target.

Now, we're checking out the "Items" and "Item Set". What's the difference? Well, consumable items in Items can only be used outside of battle. To be able to use such an item in battle, it has to be stocked in the Item Set. However, the Item Set only has just so much capacity. Right now, it has a capacity of 10. The only consumables you have are Floral Powders (a single-target healing item that recovers the target's HP by 50%. Like Orange Glow, it selects its target based on who need it most). Floral Powders take up 2 of that 10.

Now, let's see this Party Level thing. There are six Party Levels, but we only have access to the first. In it, we get infinite Tactical Time. The Action Gauge is stopped when you're not moving, and allows for 5 seconds of action. Normal attacks that connect add a little time to the Action Gauge.

There are slots for viewing Score Pieces, Photos, and Piano Music, but you have none. I'll tell you about each as I come to them. The regular Music slot is for listening to any music you've run across in the game, outside of the Score Pieces and Piano Music. It's divided into three tabs: Event Sequence, Field, and Battle. The only Event Sequence listed is NO. 01, "Remember Me". It's the music you hear on the title screen. There are 22 pieces in this category. I've already told you about 2 of the 31 pieces in the Field category. I haven't run into any battles in this file, so I haven't any Battle music listed. There are 9 pieces, though.

Leaving that behind... up the road is some sort of sparkly thing. This is a Save Point. When you walk up to it, it flashes once and chimes, and light swirls around it. You press A, and can elect to save the game. You choose your device, and which one of the 10 files you want to use. (I'm choosing 02.) You confirm it, press A when the save is complete, and press B to return to the game.

Up farther, I encounter a hopping round thing: A Very Very Empty. To engage it, I run into it.

In battle for the first time (Tune: Battle: No. 01, "Make the Leap"), Polka says the animals aren't very strong, so their defeat will come easily, but to be safe, she wants to review. You can either view the tutorial or not. For the purpose of this blog, I'll go ahead and do it.

The turn order goes from fastest to slowest. This refers to your SPD stat. The higher it is, the earlier in battle a character will move. The Left Stick is for movement, by the way. She tells you what I told you about the Action Gauge earlier.

She has you Attack whether you're at the enemy or not. The A button is for normal attacks. When you attack, she says she's remembering how to do this. She also tells you more stuff I already told you. When the Action Gauge runs out, it's the enemy's turn. Partway through it, Polka tells you about the Next arrow, which tells you which character is Next in battle. You get another turn. Once that runs out, the VVE will attack during its turn, at which point, Polka will tell you about blocking. When the Shield icon and "Chance!" appear, you have to press B to block attacks. If the attack is weak enough vs. your DEF already, it'll do no damage; otherwise, the damage is merely decreased. Your turn comes up again. Polka then tells you about running away. If you want to run, you have to hold down LB and RB during the entire turn of a party member, or you won't get away. All the basics covered, it's time to finish off the VVE. Once I do (Tune: Battle: NO. 08, "Well Done"), I gain 25 Exp and 3 Gold.

From this point, except for bosses, certain enemy types, and certain specific spots, you can try getting the drop on your enemies. You do this by running into them in the back. When this happens, your entire party gets a free turn, and you're approaching from a side that makes the enemies have to turn around to attack you. It isn't so important when all the enemies can be wiped out in one turn anyway, and you have a higher SPD, but otherwise, it's pretty helpful.

Beyond the second VVE, the path forks. The right fork ends shortly, but at the end is your first chest. Chests are red and blue. This chest holds a Peach Cookie (a single target healing item that recovers 1000 HP, currently more than Polka has. It takes up one slot in the Item Set). I cross the bridge and go through a rocky arch to transition to the North Section.

Near a flying flag, I take on my first battle with more than one enemy at a time. Thankfully, I get an ambush round and use it to take out the first and my normal round to take out the second.

I suppose this is as good a time as any to talk about the layout of characters in battle. On the battlefield, you can imagine six initial slots. One side, determined by which side you approach the enemy from, is where your party will be, and the other side is where the enemies that enemy represented will be. Each battle has up to three enemies. In near-to-far terms, the center slot will always start with an enemy in it. If there are two, the second enemy will be in the near slot. If there's a third, it will take up the far slot.

The same is true of your party. There's currently only one member. She appears in the center slot of your party's side. When you have multiple members, you can arrange them on the menu. Members in the first slot will be where I said, the one in the second slot will be in the near slot, and the third (if there is one) will be in the far slot.

Near the flag, Polka can look out at the sparkling ocean, if you wish. Onward over a bridge I send her. Near a sign, I defeat another 2-VVE group.

Through another arch, Polka reflects on how tired she is, and that there are many people in Ritardando. She wonders why none will buy from her.

Ritardando: Gradually slowing.

And now... She spots a chipmunk, and kneels, reaching her hand out. It approaches, and runs off. She feels it doesn't want to be touched by her, either. (Well, yeah, that's true of most wild animals, whether the person is ill or not.)

Now there's a scene of her trying to sell Floral Powder back in Ritardando. A young woman passing by remarks that she didn't know people still made it. Given that there's mineral powder now, why would Floral Powder be needed? While she doesn't mean to be rude, she does feel the need to point out that it's not useful anymore. Polka is somewhat discouraged by this news.

She doesn't have much time to be at the moment, however, as two men engage in fisticuffs offscreen. One is laid out on the hard stone walk. After a bit of watching and looking around, she approaches him, asks if he's all right, then holds his hands over him, closing her eyes. There's a green glow, and sparkles, and bubbles. A small crowd gathers. When the special effects dissipate, she asks if he feels better now. Well, he's able to get up. He displays his gratitude by telling her to stay away and not to touch him, and running away. You know, because she's going to harm him immediately after healing him. The crowd, too, has dispersed. One boy is suitably impressed. He tells his mother that she was glowing. The mother tells him to come back (He was just standing there, several yards away!), and not to go near anyone who glows like that. He asks why, but she gives the freaking classic parental non-answer. They leave, leaving poor Polka alone and disheartened.

Back from the flashback, we can snag another Peach Cookie from a chest, and engage another 2-VVE group. This is enough to bring her level up to 2.

Another battle, and farther up, I reach Tenuto.

Tenuto

(The music here is also "Reflect the Sky, Blossom of Life".)

I save at the Save Point near the entrance.

Next time: Tenuto and more!
18th Dec '10 6:13:55 PM flag for mods
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