in which I beat the boss on the first try
Remember the good old days when I used to die a lot and would report the number of times I picked up the same items over and over again? Welcome back to those days, although I can't predict how many times I'll detail the item-picking-up thing.
The sunflower field is a sunflower field. It's... a field and it's got sunflowers in it. It satisfies the necessary conditions of being a sunflower field perfectly. I suppose it's really more of a sunflower maze though, with the sunflowers being the walls. It's pretty short, but kind of hellish.
Skipping the enemies for now, the dungeon design is simple but loops back on itself a lot and feels very frustrating to explore because I always feel like I'm leaving behind split-ups (if you've played any older RPG you know what I mean). The main gimmick here is that there are two kinds of flowers blocking some of the paths, red ones and blue ones. There are also some... gas vents? Pollen? I dunno what they are but there are things coming out of the ground that make you blue or red. When you're red the red flowers will wilt around you and when you're blue the blue flowers will wilt.
The colors will stick with you through several screens, but the flowers will respawn so you can't necessarily go backwards and you can't just kill all the flowers and forget about them. There's also a colorless gas vent that will wipe any color off of you. But there's a switch that turns it off. Behind a colored flower of course.
I'm sure you can imagine the sorts of things I needed to do, such as running forward through a red path to get a blue color that I needed to take backwards to get another red color closer to the path I needed to open so it wouldn't run out before I got there, but I'm not going to go into too much detail about it. It involved an awful lot of running around, but not too much thinking. It should suffice to say: enemies were respawned.
And, oh, the enemies. Field sprites: bees. Theme: bugs, plants, and lizards. Difficulty: priceless.
The major theme here is status ailments. Paralysis? The plants to it. Poison? The lizards do it. Petrification? The cockatrices do it. With all targeting attacks. That also do damage. You name it, it can wipe your party. If you're lucky, you'll get a chance to run away. I got into a pretty good rhythm actually. Up-left-box-box-up-right-die. Up-left-box-box-up-right-die. Up-left-box-box-up-right-box-right-die. It was disheartening to say the least. Damn cockatrices.
But then I had a revelation. I can use Sanae in random battles
. I had taken her out in favor of Patchouli because she has no offensive capabilities, and battles used to be damage races that simply ended faster with more offense, but given the circumstances being able to cure status ailments and more importantly raise resistance seemed like it might be kind of, well, helpful. Because she was specced into buffs for bosses, they got a boost in casting speed and pretty much always went first in battle. Who'd have thought that random battles would take strategy too?
Like a divine miracle, it worked. Switching in Sanae let me survive to cockatrices and start actually exploring the dungeon instead of getting the full party petrified on the first turn. While the high of success didn't last long, at least I could get to the aforementioned colored flower puzzle thing and start working on it. And then, after what seemed like hours of struggling in this dungeon, I advance past the last flower and the lizards killed me.
I had only been bothering with the resist up spell on the cockatrices. The lizards do poison, which is "just damage". But this was more than a lizard, this was 3 lizards. And they poisoned me. A lot. They must have an absurd amount of induction because this poison did more than half my health per tick. Anyway, I died.
So I do the whole puzzle thing again, pick up all the boxes again, and this time cast resist up against the pack of lizards. It turns out that was the last enemy of the last room and the heal point/teleporter was just ahead. I had discovered the exit and turned around to get one last chest when I fought the lizards. Go figure.
Anyway, given the theme of this dungeon I figured I'd need status ailment protection on the boss. So I equipped as many resistance or status ailment accessories as I could and left Sanae with all her anti-status spells, as well as giving Youmu an ability that could cleanse herself. And then I entered the boss room.
Cutscene time. Invincible flower youkai Yuuka
and poisonous doll youkai Medicine
are just kind of hanging out talking to each other. Medicine seems confused and Yuuka seems authoritative here, but that's pretty vague. Enter party, minds are read, Yuuka has a sinister smile and begin battle.
As predicted, Medicine does lots of all targeting poison attacks while Yuuka mixes physical attacks with all targeting flower attacks. Flower is apparently a physical element because defense up works. Resist up also works on the poison. Now prepared to survive, I focus on Medicine first because she feels weaker, health-wise. No evidence, just a feeling. Poison is also pretty nasty when it hits.
It should be noted that I can't handle all-targeting attacks. My strategy relies almost entirely on Alice taking the majority of the damage and Sanae topping her off. That's just how it works. Sanae has a single all-targeting heal spell, but it takes a bomb and has a cooldown, and most importantly I don't have it equipped to make room for all the buffs I need (including attack buffs). So healing happens one person at a time, it just happens to be the case that that one person is usually Alice. Reimu has cheap AOE heals, but I switched her out so neener neener.
Let it be known that Marisa is a Squishy Wizard
. While one of the accessories I gave Marisa apparently lets her regenerate when the land meter leans towards fire (remember the land meter? fills up with elements and buffs them while weakening the opposite), that's not exactly enough to survive two bosses consistently spamming AOE attacks. So Marisa is dead. That is the premise of this battle.
It's here that I devise a bold new strategy: strategy. It's pretty basic, but it served me well in this new world of bosses who just do things all willy-nilly instead of just hitting Alice like a good girl until some gimmick comes into effect. What happens is that Alice spams cover ("London Doll") on Sanae, Sanae alternates between healing Alice and Youmu, and Sakuya heals herself whenever she can with "Soul Sculpture" which is a decently powerful HP drain attack that costs a bomb.
By decently powerful I mean it does around 400 damage buffed (equivalent to one of her best attacks) and heals for the same. 400 HP, as you may recall from Komachi, is ridiculously more HP than Sakuya has, so it heals her to full. Luckily Sakuya has a lot of bombs, because when she runs out of bombs she dies. I cannot
afford to heal her. Good old self-sufficient Sakuya.
Anyway, I survive. And as well all know, the trick to beating any boss is to die after it does. It's not a particularly long fight or anything, but after Medicine falls it's just a matter of patience. Yuuka was strong, but not strong enough. And I beat a boss on the first try, the first time since Sakuya and Patchouli. It feels good, but also somewhat hollow. That was a pretty boring boss, come to think of it.
They talk and we leave. Next stop, Eientei, the House of Eternity. Just because, I dunno why.
Because this one is probably
shorter than the next one, I'll add this here. At this point I had read ahead slightly and discovered that the next dungeon would split my party into 2 full groups. Frankly, I think this is awesome since leaving people unused doesn't sit right with me but more importantly I only have 10 party members at this point so the 6th commander slot would be wasted. I had expected to get Mokou or Byakuren at some point in the story so I didn't recruit them early, but after 2 dungeons of no new characters I was starting to get worried. Had I misinterpreted it and I did in fact need to recruit them manually? More importantly, was I willing to go into the next dungeon with 2 incomplete parties?
So, sadly, I recruited them. In case you don't want to refer back to the earlier post on the subject, this involves leaving the game on for an hour and entering the Konami code into a forest. They are both level 1, but have a decent power level and won't say anything until the proper place in the plot. As it turns out, the proper place in the plot for Mokou is the beginning
of the next dungeon, rendering the secret early recruitment thing pointless, but hey, that's how I roll. I have no idea how Mokou is supposed
to join the party, but she talks when I enter Eientei. That's a story for the next post though. And honestly, I don't think I could've beaten the boss without Byakuren anyway.
- Last Word: "Phoenix Ressurection", revives all allies.
- Specialties: Phoenix (attack), Imperishable Night (defense + shields), Hourai (HP + automatic self resurrection (?!)), Hands-in-pockets (bombs + MP)
- Weapon: Fists, counterattacks and inflicts stat downs
- Overall: Nigh Invulnerability. Mokou is the other tank. High HP, High defense, doesn't die when you kill her. More offensive than Alice, she can actually hurt things and will counterattack when hit. Unlike Alice though, she lacks defensive support abilities. Actually, she lacks abilities in general: not counting weapon abilities she has 3. Until level 45 (a ways away) when she'll have 4.
- Last Word: "Flying Fantastica", increases XP gain and item drop rate for the battle.
- Specialties: Support Magic (stat buffs), Status Magic (stat downs), Great Magic (MP + magic attack), Aria (casting speed, cooldowns, bombs)
- Weapon: Scroll, HP and MP regen
- Overall: Yin Yang Bomb. She has both light and dark magic, both blessings and curses. She's the only character who can spam dark magic because all of Patchouli's moon spells are spellcards with bomb costs and cooldowns. Unlike Sanae and Satori, her support spells are single targeting but notably more powerful. This makes her better on bosses, maybe.
Both are level 1, and I have no desire to switch either of them into my party, although of course for the next dungeon... It should be noted that Mokou is basically the best commander. I've been almost completely ignoring the commander abilities (which you might recall cost a bomb and don't use up any turns), but Mokou's is particulrly notable. Most people have "attack up for one turn" or "instant party healing" or somewhat useful things like that, but Mokou revives you. She revives
people. I can revive people now! That is just... awesome.
They come back with 1 HP, but I can target dead people for cover or healing, and commander abilities always happen at the start of the turn before even super speed-boosted spells like cover or heal. It only brings back one person per turn even if there's more than one dead, and targets randomly, but if you have that many people dead I'm not sure you have a right to complain about free revival