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Let's Play a random Touhou fan RPG!
Clarste

[table of contents]
Stage 9 we've entered an endless recursion of corridor
Stage 9 we've entered an endless recursion of corridor

First of all, new weapon recipes. I suppose this happens every other stage but I'm just constantly checking. Now, technically I can't buy them right now because I need an ingredient that I'll get in the next stage, but in the interest of not interrupting the dungeon section I'll just act like I have it now. I run into a problem, or rather notice a potential future problem.

The way this crafting system works is that, for weapons anyway, there are three categories of ingredients. First of all, there's a character specific ingredient. Silver trays for Sakuya, shed snakeskins for Sanae, bird feathers for Aya, etc. Second of all there's a semi-generic ingredient that's shared between a few characters. Obsidian for Sakuya and Youmu, pickling stones for Marisa and... sorry I don't actually pay attention to anything but obsidian. There are about 3-4 of these items divided evenly among the 12 characters, so they're shared by 3-4 characters each. Last of all there's the "level" ingredient that changes for each tier of equipment. It's pretty common, but you have to go to higher level stages to get it. That's why I can't make new weapons until I enter the next dungeon.

Anyway, I previously lamented my lack of obsidian, but this time I notice that I don't have very many silver trays for Sakuya. In fact, it's taking more and more of them each time and I don't actually have enough for the third tier weapons. Combined with the lack of obsidian from Youmu, I'm pretty sure I don't have enough resources to upgrade weapons every time. So I decide to start rationing it. No need to go gung-ho on weapons, I'll just get them every other tier. In the meantime I can upgrade some other people's weapons who I've been skipping. So I get Aya and Sanae a new fan and snake respectively. On that note, apparently Sanae also uses obsidian, although I realize that afterwards. /facepalm

Finally I enter the dungeon. Eientei is a large Japanese style mansion hidden in a bamboo forest. So tatami mat floors, paper walls with wooden frames, and lots of sliding doors. The party, now accompanied by Mokou for some reason, enters with no problem but immediately encounters a split up in the entrance. Unlike the last three billion split ups, its decided that we need to split into two parties, despite the fact that it's actually a three way split up if you look closely. I suppose it's plausible that there's some magical reason for this, but whatever.

In splitting the parties, I decided that the obvious thing to do was put half my high leveled people on one side and the other half on the other. For party A, hereafter referred to as the Alice team, I decided to put both my tank and my Squishy Wizards in the same group because Alice can actually taunt the enemies. To round out the front row fighter slots I put Nitori and Reimu (doubling as healer). Satori fills in the commander slot because honestly I'm not sure what I'd do with her in battle.

For party B, hereafter referred to as the Youmu team, I decided that since we had no actual tank I should have as many high level people in the front rows as possible, to give them a chance to survive. Youmu takes the tank slot because she has the second most defense, with Sakuya and a newly respecced attack-Sanae in the front rows (that's one of the reasons Sanae has a new weapon). Aya and Byakuren fill in the back row, with Mokou as commander because a level 1 tank is no tank at all.

Because the party is split up, we can't have actual cutscene conversations because there are too many permutations for the writers. Only the team leader talks, and I assume they have fairly generic dialog. To make up for that, we're treated to a cutscene of the enemies' perspective immediately. This time I'm pretty sure it's not a boss fight, and I actually try to read it this time. It's probably wrong.

Kaguya, the spoiled and whimsical moon princess, is sitting on the floor at a table, reading a newspaper. Her loyal servant/manager Eirin is also in the room, pacing back and forth. Apparently the newspaper is the Bunbunmaru, self-published by Aya, and Kaguya's reading up on our exploits. Huh. I guess Aya was actually reporting all this time. Anyway, the newspaper makes it clear that Eientei is our next target, and Eirin is thinking about how to deal with this while Kaguya doesn't seem to care much.

Coming to a decision, Eirin summons her two rabbit servants, Moon rabbit Reisen and Earth rabbit Tewi. "Go guard the entrances!" "Yes ma'am!" "No way~". Hmm, it's somewhat annoying to convey this in prose, but there's a pattern here where Reisen and Tewi will respond at the same time with opposite responses. It doesn't work when I type it out sequentially like that, so I guess I'm going to have to tell and not show.

Reisen is the dutiful former soldier, while Tewi is a relaxed prankster who does what she wants when she wants, in case it wasn't clear who answered what. Tewi's apparent dereliction of duty flusters Reisen, who seems to believe it will reflect badly on her, and indeed Kaguya cannot tell the difference between her pet rabbits. Eirin though is used to working with Tewi and cuts her some sort of special deal which gets her to agree reluctantly. This whole process flusters Reisen even more. Anyway, they head off to their guard duty with a "Right away!" and a "Yeah, yeah" while Kaguya either notes to herself or hopes that they will fail to stop the Hakurei maiden. Eirin doesn't believe that it's dealt with yet either.

Back to the dungeon, I find myself in control of the Alice team. There's a designated button for switching teams that I've never pressed before, so I test it out and it works. Somewhat annoyingly, I can no longer change equipment or rearrange my party order, presumably because the menus were programmed to act as if you had your full party with you. It also averts the oddness of the shared inventory between the two parties, but I'd prefer convenience to realism. Heading back to the entrance to examine the third path, it turn out it's just an empty room with a not yet active teleporter. And I can't go back the way I came from: I just run into an invisible wall.

Apparently returning to the entrance room recombines my parties and the dungeon itself cannot be accessed by a combined party. There's a floating hint book thing, which I haven't seen since the first few stages, and talking to that takes me to the party splitting interface again. So I just quickly reassemble the same teams. I decide to just stick with the Alice team first until I reach an obstacle which the other team needs to clear for me or something, which ends up happening exactly once.

On the Alice team side, the enemy field sprites are rabbit-girls that look somewhat like a color-swapped Tewi. Very shortly, we end up leaving the mansion and entering the bamboo forest where most of this side of the dungeon takes place. Much like stage 3, it's a dark forest with paths hidden by leaves, but we also routinely return to the edge of mansion, where paths are hidden by the overhanging roof. It's pretty easy to guess where they are though.

The enemies are rabbits with weapons, bugs and plants and such. Most of them are vulnerable to either fire or lightning, and what do you know we have Marisa, Patchouli and Nitori on the same team, who as you may recall are the elemental attackers of the party. I gave Nitori some random sword that I found in a box at some point, and was disappointed when she didn't seem to have an animation for it as she pulls out some large gun-like thing. Then it turns out she has a giant swiss army knife and the sword comes out of it.

Anyway, as you may recall Nitori has these abilities called "Chasers" which let her follow up other elemental attacks with her own. So Patchouli would cast an all-targeting fire spell and then Nitori would hit all of those targets again with her own fire attack. Marisa could clean up with her powerful single-target spells. So this place was pretty easy, although I had some MP problems. After a bit of running around I find a pressure plate next to a teleporter with a mirrored set-up on the other side of the wall. Common sense says the teleporters turn on when both switches are hit at the same time so I switch over to the Youmu team.

Unlike the Alice team which went outside into the forest, the Youmu team goes deeper into the mansion. It's composed of long hallways lined with doors that lead to small rooms. Most of the hallways go in large rectangles surrounding a room-block, but a lot of the paths are blocked off so you have to go into the rooms. The rooms themselves are laid out in a grid, but have either secret or obvious passages between them. Reminds me of stage 5, but less annoying. What is annoying is the sense of leaving behind split-ups.

The enemy set is completely different here, composed of crocodiles, demon things, and walls. Not stone walls, but Japanese paper walls. Just sitting there on their own, taking reduced damage. In a stroke of accidental brilliance, this side is weak against physical attacks. I just completely randomly split up my party in a useful way. Youmu tanks, but she also counterattacks while entering a stance, so that's pretty useful, Aya's a bit low level but she can still hurt things a bit, and Byakuren does not pull her weight. She runs out of MP almost instantly, and I can't switch Mokou in because I can't change my party order.

The real surprise, to me anyway, is Sanae. As mentioned, I respecced her into attacking for this section. In her case, that means putting a bunch of points into Snakes and whatever's left into Youkai Extermination, which gives her attack power. If you were paying far too close attention and remembered all this stuff from the first post, there's an interesting combination that has been foreshadowed but I didn't notice until now.

Sanae is not a fighter. She's a healer and a buffer. Her STR isn't too high and her weapons aren't awesome. However, all her special attacks are based on her physical attack instead of her magic. I just dismissed this as strange quirk of hers. However. Putting points into Snakes makes her drain MP with her normal attacks. That's not so weird on its own, so does Marisa, it's just a way for her to recover MP when she's out, right? It's not like she has much attack power.

Wrong. She drains MP with her special attacks because they're physical. Her physical attacks have huge areas of effect, as well as some of the more uncommon elements like earth. She can spam her best moves and because they hit so many targets she drains more MP from them than she uses. As the cherry on top, her weapon causes paralysis randomly and applies that chance to all the targets of her physical attacks. So while she may not be particularly strong, she hits every every enemy on the field every turn with a chance of paralysis. Now I know what it's like to be the Mind Flayer. Why did I have her in the commander slot all this time...?

Anyway, the enemies here are basically no problem with this new strategy, other than the walls which are resistant to physical elements (slash, bludgeoning, piercing) and rarely cause death with their attacks. Sakuya's 2H sword bonus pierces slash resistance though, and Youmu can just randomly kill them.

Moving back to the dungeon itself, I accidentally take a correct turn and run past every single dead end and treasure chest, as well as the switch my other party is waiting for, and end up in the Endless Corridor. As the name implies, it's endless. You can just keep running in one direction forever, and there are infinite doors lining both sides at regular intervals. Going through one of these doors takes you to a room with four exits, NE, NW, SE, and SW. Every one of these exits takes you back to the same corridor. There are no enemies here, just one corridor and a lot of doors.

Well, what I said above isn't quite true. I believe every third door or so take you to a different room, with only two exits. The south exit takes you back to the corridor and the north exit takes you to the "resting room" or something which has a treasure chest, a bed that does nothing, and a hint book. The hint book gives me some slightly complicated Japanese text that I assume is the riddle that I need to solve to get out of here. Except I can't read it.

So I'm stuck here, in an infinite room puzzle, with a clue that I can't read. I can't even get out to save. I flail about randomly for a bit but end up getting nowhere, and it seems pointless to continue. So I just leave the game on and take a break. During this break I scour the Internets for a clue, but alas this game is not exactly a popular subject of conversation. I find one post asking about it, but it's also edited with a "nevermind, I figured it out" and no one bothers to respond. Real helpful, thanks. So I put the game on hold and do some other stuff. I got quite a few rare-ish material drops so I'm very reluctant to quit the game.

I leave it open in the background and do whatever for a few hours. Later, someone comes into the room (in real life, not in the game) and, wanting to show off my frustration, I start running around randomly for a while to demonstrate the hopelessness. And in perfect narrative logic, I get out during this demonstration. See, all it takes is a healthy dose of irony, and we can solve any problem.

In case anyone actually wants to play this game later, the actual solution is to keep running through the same door over and over again (it's aligned such that if you hold the "down" direction you'll go through a loop of corridor-room-corridor-room for a while). I'm guessing the hint said something about being persistent, but don't quote me on that. Anyway, newly freed from my prison, I find my way back to the entrance and save. Glorious, glorious saving.

After getting Alice team back to the switch, I start exploring with Youmu again and clear out the dungeon. Turns out the switch activates a teleporter which is roughly the halfway point in the dungeon. The Endless Corridor is at the end of the dungeon. I just randomly ran past the whole thing. I have to go back into the Endless Corridor to get to the exit of the dungeon (as opposed to being spat back out at the entrance), but it's a simple matter of running repeatedly through the other door. So, double ominous heal points, check and check. Both parties have to move into the boss room before the scene starts.

Well, it's not much of a scene really. Since no can talk because of the freedom of character choice, it's really just Team Alice walking up to Tewi in the forest and fighting her. The gimmick here is sequential battles rather than a duo of bosses but that doesn't matter yet because Tewi kills me.

Tewi is kind of a weird boss. She seems to have roughly three attacks, an all-targeting physical attack with about a 50% hit rate, an all-targeting sleep spell with a slightly lower hit rate, and an all-targeting laser attack that does massive damage (ie: instant death) to anyone who's asleep and misses everyone else. Oh, and she can buff her own Induction stat. The trick is of course to cure or prevent sleep while simply surviving the random physical attack. However, you may note that my party is full of Squishy Wizards and low level people so even the non-instant death attack can be instant death.

To beat her, I switch my parties around a bit. I switch Reimu and Sanae for defense, evasion, and resistance buffs as well as the ability to cure sleep and switch Youmu and Alice because I don't really need a tank against Tewi. Also, Sanae can revive now, yay! I also need to put her back into support mode, which involves both reassigning power and changing pretty much her entire move set, which is kind of annoying. The fight's fundamentally pretty random, but it was won. Consistently, because if I lose the next one I have to do Tewi all over again. Youmu proccing a double attack on her Last Spell made me once again appreciate how awesome she is.

The next fight is Reisen. She uses area of effect physical attacks that have a chance of applying berserk or sleep, as well as some party-wide attacks. She's really quite troublesome, especially after Tewi, but there are three keys to how I won: formation, Reimu's AOE heals, and Byakuren's debuffs. First of all make sure that the people around Alice can survive a hit or two, ie: not Byakuren who will die instantly because she's both low level and pretty fragile in the first place. Those people will take the bulk of the damage which will be both instantly healed and wake them up from sleep. Berserk doesn't necessarily need to be cured.

Byakuren, as you may recall, has both single-targeting buffs and debuffs. Casting attack-down on Reisen makes her do negligible damage, and when combined with defense up it actually becomes 0 damage. I'm pretty sure that's the only reason I won, but it's trickier than it sounds because bosses have quite a lot of resistance and Byakuren's spells have cooldowns. So I needed to stack her with induction (stolen from Youmu) and cast induction-up on herself before I even had a hope of getting attack-down working. After several attempts it worked out but the fight wasn't pretty.

Both Tewi and Reisen fall with little fanfare, again due to the lack of character-specific dialog. Team Alice (led by Youmu) and Team Youmu (led by Alice) somehow meet up again deeper in the mansion, but that's the beginning of the next stage.
27th Jan '11 10:52:19 PM flag for mods
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