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Let's Play a random Touhou fan RPG!
Clarste

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Stage 14 the expansion pack of stage 13
First of all, wow, we're already here. This is actually the last stage I've done, so while I've been talking from memory and with plenty of foreshadowing up until now, in the future the posts will be written shortly after finishing the stages. And the screenshots will be taken during the playthroughs. Expect at least one screenshot of my party dead, and expect my party to die because I'm taking screenshots. Also, because this is the latest stage, running through to get screenshots was actually quite dangerous and I'm surprised I didn't die doing so. It also counted as grinding levels, sort of, which annoys me a bit.

Obviously, I won't be able to write these as fast if I actually have to play the stages in between them.

Stage 14 the expansion pack of stage 13

Stage 14 is not more of the same. It is the same. While the stage is now technically in Heaven as opposed to the Sea of Clouds, and it's got some slightly different architecture as there are now stone bridges built onto the clouds, there's a particular quirk in place here. Remember that item box I couldn't reach? Stage 14 requires me to go back through stage 13 over and over again, and basically turns the switch/wall puzzle Up To Eleven. There are only about three new rooms, but the dungeon is easily twice as long. This is fractal dungeon design. I'm about equal parts impressed and annoyed.

Hearkening back my early posts in this thread, I'm gonna start this with a narrative rather than just a summary of the place. I had just beaten a rather simple if fun boss, and decided to switch back to my standard party after being underwhelmed by Nitori's earth damage. So after saving I head past the boss room into the next stage. Looks pretty much the same so far, and soon enough I find another giant foot. Oh, I guess we're still in sprite recycling mode. So I fight it. And I can't win.

It doesn't kill me instantly, and I manage to run away with most of my party dead, but upon trying again I still can't win. And I try again. And again. Usually I manage to run away, but sometimes I die and have to run back up to here. The enemy is blocking the path. I'm like 10 steps into this stage, and there's a random encounter that I just cannot get past, even going all out. I run out of MP trying this one fight over and over again. Luckily the previous boss room is right there, and before that there is the no-longer-ominous heal point.

The enemies are 2 thunderbirds, a slime, and an elite Mind Flayer. The thunderbirds wear me down with lightning breath as previously described, the slime is strong against most attacks and can regenerate and drain health, but the real problem is the Mind Flayer. Now, I've fought Mind Flayers before, way back in stage 5. If you don't remember, they spam Mind Blast for all targeting damage plus paralysis, and then they randomly kill you with their normal attacks. But... I've dealt with them before, these guys just have stats scaled up to my level, right? And since then I've figured out how status ailments work and can protect myself against them with Sanae, right?

Unfortunately they go before Sanae. So it paralyzes half my party on the first turn while the others tear me apart. Rinse and repeat. I'm getting nowhere, and this is frustrating. Thunderbirds! Mind flayers! Gah! While I'm not really at risk of losing anything, this isn't exactly the best way to start a stage.

As with most of my problems, this all comes down to reading Japanese. As you may recall, in stage 8, the sunflower field, I had a lot of problems with status ailments until I started using Sanae to cast resist up. However, by stage 10, the second half of Eientei, the moon girls were able to cast Time Stop on me before she could get an action. While I dealt with that then, I'm now encountering the same problem in a more critical situation. So what changed between stages 8 and 10? I'll give you a minute in case you want to guess.

...

The correct answer is that I respecced Sanae out of support and into attacking, because I was forced to split my party up. Because of realizing how awesome that was I kept her in attack-mode for future random battles, even adding her to my standard random battle party in place of Alice, who I also realized wasn't necessary in random battles. So Sanae, despite being in my battle party, is no longer specced into support. Wait... specced? Support? That's right, Sanae's Wind Priestess specialty increases the cast speed of her buffs in addition to their power and duration. That's why she's slower than the enemies now, and that's why I'm dying.

This plot twist took half the game to set up. This is a Greek tragedy in motion: the hubris that ended up bringing my own downfall. This is the life story of Sanae in my party, and combines the specialty system, the status ailment system, and every last ounce of my understanding of the game. This was the final test, and I felt simultaneously idiotic and brilliant when I figured this out. I'm guessing this is somewhat hard for you guys to care about, but this was a really emotional moment for me.

So I shifted a few points that were lying around into Wind Priestess and won. Kind of anticlimactic, but there you go. I had beaten the system. I was on top of the world. These enemies were nothing before my new might. And then the next guys killed me.

Not content to merely inflict status ailment doom on me, the next group combined Mind Flayers with Shisa, who cast defensive buffs on their allies. They use the two-pronged method of casting spell reflect and defense up, causing Marisa and Patchouli to kill themselves while the Mind Flayers now take less damage from my remaining three party members and are free to flay/eat brains at their leisure. I manage to beat them the next try, but you know what? I don't like this place.

Noting that it's entirely plausible for my magicians to be rendered useless in battle, I boldly switch to an all-physical party consisting of Youmu, Sakuya, Sanae, Aya and Nitori who I use for the rest of this dungeon. This works quite well except for stupid draining slimes that are strong against physical attacks and regenerate. The only things I can hit those guys with are Sakuya's resist piercing normal attacks, Nitori's fire spell (which has a cooldown), and Youmu's random chance of instant death. Eh, it works.

Of course, I haven't even gotten to the puzzle yet. That was just the first two enemies. The crux of it is that there's this one switch that I need to hit to open a path forward. However, by hitting it I block off my path to that path. So I have to take another route back to stage 13, where a new connection between the two stages is opened up. Except... in the process of solving the stage 13 puzzle I blocked off this new path backwards.

So I have to undo the switch that opens the way forward, go back through Iku's room and work through the stage 13 puzzle backwards until I can open that door, then do stage 13's puzzle again so i can get to Iku's room, so I can advance forward and close off my path so I can run all the way around through stage 13 again and advance forward, yay! On the way out, I hit a switch that doesn't seem to do anything and then a mid-dungeon cutscene happens.

Tenshi, the spoiled celestial, is watching our progress through a reflection in a pond. For some reason she sees Reimu despite the fact that our field sprite has been Youmu for quite a while. That was actually the most startling part of the scene, because I haven't seen Reimu running for a while. Tenshi is excited, because she's Tenshi. That's about it.

Returning to the dungeon, I take a sharp right, pick up an item, and die. There's a new enemy here, the Slyph which is this weird R Type looking elemental that has a ridiculous evasion rate, a lot of health, and regenerates by casting some field spell at the beginning of battle. Oh, and it also hurts, a lot. Remember that my party is all physical fighters now, so I can't actually hit it. I run away, but I'm cornered so I just take the death. No big loss, I just saved before coming here.

Except I hit that switch in the previous room. Which is basically the "undo everything you've accomplished here" switch that closes a particular gate, effecting resetting the puzzle. I don't even know why this switch exists, it's just cruel. I would strongly recommend never hitting this switch. Ever.

So, I'm back to square one, but at least I know how to do it, right? Annoying as it was at the time, I can now sum it up in a single sentence: I did it again. In case you're counting, I've cleared stage 13 about 5 times by now. Enemies were respawning by the time I finished. At least I'm used to these enemies by now, right?

Too bad the next room, where I died, has a slightly different enemy set. There are the aforementioned Sylphs, as well as some dinosaurs. Luckily Dinosaurs Are Dragons, and Sakuya still has her Dragonslayer. Upon investigation, Aya has an ability that makes your party have a 100% hit rate, so all is well. It's tough, but I can deal with these new enemies. And apparently that was the last room. All of stage 14 is stage 13, over and over again. Ominous heal point, etc.

Tenshi fights us. Because she wants to fight us. No more needs to be said. She kills us, of course.

Tenshi is like the sequel to Iku. She starts with a powerful attack that she does every few turns, she almost exclusively uses a single element, and she regenerates far too much if you let her. Of course there are some new problems. The first problem is easily solved: I'm equipped for a lightning dungeon and Tenshi uses earth attacks. As mentioned, accessories that protect against one element often make you weak against the opposite. So I started the battle weak against earth, which is not recommended.

Second of all, her powerful attack simply does damage in this case, instead of instant death. For my purposes, that's a bad thing. It does enough damage to instantly kill weaker party members (like Marisa and Patchouli) and that damage affects even those who survive, forcing Sanae to play catch-up on healing.

Lastly, she seems to be onto my MO. For both Cirno and Iku, the key lay in Patchouli's elemental field spells. So the obvious thing to do against Tenshi would be to cast "Heaven Crack" and weaken earth while buffing lightning. Except... she countered it. When I cast the field spell, on her next turn she immediately overwrote it with her own field spell, which lasts a dozen turns and seems to buff earth spells. That didn't go so well. She never casts that spell otherwise, so I'm pretty sure it's just a response to my strategy. Clever girl.

So I have to do this the old fashioned way and rely on the land meter itself. Luckily lightning is twice as easy to spam because Marisa has it, unluckily Marisa is another Squishy Wizard, so when rocks fall everyone dies. I can almost completely nullify earth damage by spamming Alice's elemental guard spell, but I can't quite predict when it will happen and if she doesn't do it it'll be a waste of Alice's turn because she also needs to cover people from Tenshi's rather powerful physical attacks.

This isn't exactly hard but I end up bouncing around with people dying because Alice is doing the wrong thing on that turn. Reviving is somewhat cheap now though, and the battle of attrition pays off. This battle is mostly memorable for how similar yet different it is from the previous one. Also, it turns out that Tenshi counts as a god too, so I could have used that edge, but I guess I didn't need to.

Tenshi being defeated, she... laughs triumphantly. Great, great, that was awesome Reimu, let's do it again sometime soon. So uh, Tenshi, what was the point of this again? "Oh, it's ____" Cue Flat What from the party. "What? You didn't hear me, it's ____. You know, _____. Oh, I get it, I have to do the pose." Tenshi spins around, sparkles, and repeats that it's ____.

While I'm sure this scene is hilarious, what will always stick out in my mind is that I have no idea what _____ is. The kanji is black something. And there are a whole lot of black somethings in the dictionary, assuming it's even in the dictionary. Curse me and my limited mental capacity for memorizing kanji! Curse me and my inability to reliably count strokes! If only I could copy-paste it, which is my method of choice.

Anyway, following the hilarious _____ scene, it's revealed that Tenshi can clearly see the source of the mist from up here, because you can just see it pouring out of that thing in the Forest of Magic. You know, just look down. I guessing that we expected such a result, and that's why we came up here in the first place, but who knows? The ways of the wild goose chase are mysterious indeed. So now we know where the mist is, and we only had to beat up 24 innocent bystanders to figure this out. Not bad.

After the fade out, we cut to a mysterious villain room. And what do you know, Original Characters! Unfortunately I'm not too good at describing people, and I can't just link the Touhou wiki like always. There's a girl in a wide hat sitting on a floating cushion and smoking a long pipe. You know, one of those thin ones. One of those mysterious cloaked figures from before enters the room, stand next to her and throws off her cloak, revealing a Snake Person. They talk to each other for a while, doing the classic name exposition in conversation. It seems both have names in katakana, and I'm to understand that they're Greek. Is this an invasion? I dunno.

They summon their servants, and we're introduced to a Quirky Miniboss Squad. There are three maids, a giant bipedal turtle, and some sort of large person that I can't remember any details of. Hopefully I'll be able to take screenshots of all these people eventually. After receiving their orders, they all teleport out, except the turtle who has to walk. Reminds me of a similar scene in Wild Arms, but that's just me. Just as WMG fuel, the turtle's name is Genji.

And that's that. Now I actually have to start playing again, but reviewing everything I've done has led to me understanding things a bit better. I think I'll buy armor next.

This is the entrance to the stage. It looks kinda the same as the last stage, but you can see this golden path on the clouds. Eventually it turns into this. That's the magic gate that I spent so much time on, by the way. This is the final room, with a funny post thing.

This is the group that I couldn't beat. Actually, I said it was a slime up in the post and this one has a ghost, but that's not the important part. Also pants wetting are these and especially this. There are also some unimportant guys like Fuujin and Raijin here.

The Dragonslayer is pretty awesome sometimes, and I actually get decent experience in this place. You don't want to meet these guys in a dark alley and frankly I'm surprised I didn't die there. I just got lucky, really. Note everyone's health after one turn.

I got a picture of Aya's Last Word. She looks quite happy there, but thank goodness for her Magic Skirt. I think there's a meme about the fact that Aya isn't allowed to have panty shots, or something like that. I notice she has wings in that picture, but not in battle. I wonder what's up with that.

Here's Tenshi in her natural habitat, lounging in luxury. I love how simple Tenshi's dialog is compared to everyone else. Except for ____, of course.
27th Jan '11 10:54:04 PM flag for mods
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