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Let's Play a random Touhou fan RPG!
Clarste

[table of contents]
Stage 25 third time's the jinx
Just so you know, the side room from last time was just a big circle filled with enemies and exactly one item box. It contained Fresh Blood, which is the crafting material for Remilia's weapons. I think this whole "grinding room" is a new pattern for the expansion dungeons. There was one I noted in stage 22, and another in stage 23 that I didn't think was notable because the path forward was hidden anyway. I suppose they're "mercy rooms" in that you can grind next to a heal point, but I rather dislike them because I'm not in the mood for fighting random encounters after finding the boss room.

My first priority after that is to get some sidequests done. Why? Because the main quests are pretty boring recently. Even discounting the most disappointing boss ever, the main quests have no story or dialog to them whatsoever. At least the sidequests have the decency to give you a nonsensical yet sometimes amusing set-up and mess around with your party to keep things fresh. Honestly, I didn't think I could stomach another Abyss Demon.

So I sign up for Remilia's sidequest. In which a robot... does something. Let's see here:

Charisma Alien

ONE KNOWN AS remilia! WE ARE NOT AFRAID OF YOUR charisma! Come TO THE Great Temple!

-Garumian

Yeah, it talks weird, but how's the fight? Unfortunately, I'll never know because it's in the second to last stage of the main game. Where the enemies are both dense and still pretty tough. No way I'm wading through that for another Fresh Blood. Yet.

Also, I suppose this was spoiled by the comments of the previous installment, but new weapon for Yuugi! I figured she deserved it for being a melee fighter who's always in my party for the Power. She is not in my party for the experience though; all the new characters are now significantly higher level than my lower level old characters. It's just much harder to catch up with Power rather than experience. My goal is to get them to P. Lvl 77. Which is mostly an arbitrary number, but it's also when the Power requirement to reach the next level suddenly jumps. For the first 35 levels or so it takes 100 each, but every level after that it increases by 10 every level. So 110, 120, etc. At 76 it takes 500, but at 77 it suddenly jumps to 999 and stays like that forever. Well, for as high as I've gotten.

Anyway, back to the weapon. Yuugi really needs it (as opposed to, say, Lithos or Cirno) because A) all she does is physical attacks and B) all she does is physical attacks. A) is addressed by the fact that this new weapons increases her attack power considerably, putting her on par with Sakuya. She still doesn't have the multi-hit attack multipliers that Sakuya does though. B) is also addressed at the same time because leveling up weapon proficiencies unlocks new skills. In this case new forms of throwing rocks, but every little bit counts.

But enough talk. I've been delaying this moment for too long. This is Yuugi's new weapon, in her pre-action pose where she's readying her weapon. Yeah, it's a watermelon. Weird, huh? No, wait, what's that around the watermelon? It's Suika! Yuugi's weapon is another Deva of the Mountain. The one who never shows up in this game, much to my annoyance. Wouldn't Suika make an awesome boss fight? Come on guys, it's not that hard is it? The actual throwing animation itself seems to be about one frame and I can't catch it, but let it be known that Suika goes horns first and smiles the whole time.

And then I stopped playing for a while. I'm not looking forward to the next dungeon, and even the sidequests seem more trouble than they're worth. What reason is there to hurry? Well, there's this liveblog I guess, but I try not to make this obligation force me to do things that I'd rather not. I fully intended to progress eventually. Just not right then. I have forums to read and such. A few hours later, out of morbid curiosity, I decided to check what kind of Abyss Critter I'd be up against next. And, spoiler alert, I decided to start playing again immediately. I'm sure my avid readers know what I'm talking about, but no reason to go into detail yet.

Ominous Thoughts

The Sunflower Field was also a flop. New corruption in Muenzuka, gogogo. Not very motivating, are they?

As always, new area is next to the old one, but with corruption. Muenzuka. I really like the music here, so much so that I'll note it again after already noting it last time. Kind of a jazzy remix of Higan Retour, but with bells. Not sure how jazzy with bells works out, but it does. I think this is my favorite music in the game.

This place is kind of a junkyard. Piles of tires and barrels and broken computers and refrigerators and whatever. I think I also saw some toxic waste. What I wanna know is where this interpretation came from. Frankly it strikes me as pretty bizarre, and certainly more creative than most of the other locations in this game. Well, thinking outside the box anyway. It also has this progression towards flowers as you get closer to the end. Which is of course very convenient as a marker when you're exploring.

Design-wise, it's a dungeon with many split-ups. Many many many split-ups. Each new room is either a complicated-looking dead end or has at least 2 other exits. So its design hearkens back to the very essence of RPG dungeon design, which is using your instincts to guess which is the right way to go and then going the other way. To get the treasure of course. Luckily my sixth sense is very finely tuned, because this place has a lot of treasure. There's a character specific crafting item for each character here, as well as a number of generic armor and weapon boxes. That's almost two dozen separate boxes scattered through the area, which I suppose you don't have any scale for but that's a lot. Almost double the normal count. I love opening boxes.

Unfortunately the enemies are not so friendly. In addition to the junkyard-themed enemies, there are a number of really annoying and dangerous enemies. While Remilia is a survivor, personally I'd rather not end up in that situation quite so often. Mostly because of all the instances I'm not showing you where Remilia doesn't survive. Zombie tengus make up the lower end of the scale by constantly interrupting your actions and being resistant to physical attacks, but it gets worse. Much worse. In lighter news though, Reisen pulled off a 27k hit against a Berserked chicken. That's a really big number.

First off, we have what I can't help but think of as the GARfish. The GARfish may seem like just a fish, but its magical fire breath kills most of my party. I don't know why it's breathing fire. Maybe it's some sort of mythological fish monster or god or something. All I know is that breath attacks hurt. A lot. This is a running theme in this game. Traditionally I've dealt with this by having Alice use her elemental resistance dolls (Alice is really useful), but this time around I switch in Aya for her Favorable Wind. Aya also has the edge over Alice in being able to kill things that aren't fire breathing fish.

Doesn't help against the Mind Flayers though. Or the Mind Flayers backed up by Beholders. Or the —yeah, no, I'm not fighting that. That's why they invented the run command. As you may have noticed, I gave into peer pressure and switched Sanae and Youmu into my party. You see, Mind Flayers are very strong against magic but weak against physical, usually slashing. My new party doesn't have many slashing attacks, so I have to go with the old stand-bys. Also, these particular Mind Flayers have decided to put all their spare points itno evasion, meaning no one other than Youmu in her accuracy-crit stance can even hit them in normal circumstances. And Sanae can use resistance buffs, always a good thing. Still managing to keep the new characters in the party for the Power, but it's getting trickier. The things I do for love...

You may recall that Remilia's Last Word is "Spectacle of Fate" and turns the enemies into Yukkuris. Which as you may also recall are Metal Slimes that drop tons of experience but usually run away. I thought I was being so clever when I turned the Mind Flayers into harmless piles of experience. Unfortunately, Fate is not a toy. Please consult your doctor before summoning an Eldritch Abomination with the face of a human but a heart that seeks nothing less than total destruction and despair.

Ominous heal point and teleporter, etc. Also, new recurring design element in the form on an extra optional room filled with enemies. Unfortunately, it also has two treasure boxes and is on the other side of a one-way ramp to the heal point and teleporter. Which means that I need to run through the entire dungeon all over again to get there from the heal point, and the enemies are respawning because I died a lot here. And the enemies aren't easy either. It takes me about three tries to secure the items before I can move on. Pre-battle cutscene time!

Really? An honest-to-goodness cutscene? With dialog and a boss that talks to you and everything? This is the first one in the entire expansion! Even Yuugi didn't have a pre-battle cutscene. There's actually a plot-like development going on, I can't contain my excitement. Of course, now I need to translate it. Time to crack open the dictionary and slowly stumble my way through!

Once again, we have only Reimu, all the new characters, and Marisa for the cutscene. Kind of odd to have only Marisa when you necessarily get her at the exact same time as Alice, but in terms of limiting the cast to the important characters I suppose it makes sense. Actually, I'm now curious about whether it's even theoretically possible to beat this boss with only this party.

Marisa quickly confirms both her existence and the fact that this is actually a cutscene. "H-hey, this is..." It's not the most interesting line, but after walking around with a party of mutes for hours it's a breath of fresh air. The party quickly confirms that this is indeed the same stuff we've been chasing the entire game, and incomparably more of it. It seems we've reached the actual culprit this time, so Reimu calls out for whoever it is to stop hiding. And they respond.

After some generic villainous lines from the shadows about how she never expected us to get this far, out pops... Hina! Hina, goddess of curses and misfortune. Well, that's not really a surprise to the genre savvy among us, or at least those who can recognize silhouettes. It's certainly a surprise to Remilia and the rest of the party though, who feel compelled to use ...'s and even ?!'s with wild abandon. In their defense, they hadn't seen her silhouette until now. Hina greets us quite cheerfully, although she has a bit of a slasher smile if you look closely.

"Why would the curse-bearing god be... wait... curses?! It couldn't be?!" Yes, Lithos, it actually does make sense. Rather, your confusion makes no sense. "Fufufu, it's just as you imagine, Lithos Medusa Gorgon." Reimu has no idea what's going on though. Get with the program Reimu! Reisen decides to explain. I guess she's The Smart Guy in the party right now. Or rather, she says something explanation-esque. Since it doesn't make much sense to me in context, instead of summarizing it I'll just translate all of it so you can make your own judgments. People who actually know Japanese, feel free to correct me.

"At a guess... the primary phenomenon behind this incident, those sinister thoughts, are NOT due to Hina Kagiyama's misfortune, or something like that. Meaning... This is the bad guy! That last one was Cirno interrupting, if you're not looking at the the pictures.

While we all know Cirno is an idiot and should not be trusted to reach logical conclusions, they don't immediately tell her to shut up or anything, so I can only assume that there's something reasonable about what Cirno said, even though I don't see how that follows at all. Hina also sarcastically thanks the rabbit girl for the non-explanation. And then talks about tasting the malice and regret born from her misfortune, perhaps with a side of our inevitable defeat. Wait, is this or is this not because of her misfortune? Or maybe she's basically saying "what of it? I'm still strong enough to defeat you!"? I really don't know, I'm not really following this. I blame Cirno.

Yuugi and Remilia go on to confirm that everything is definitely 100% without a doubt all Hina's fault. Even the hats on the statues. I must be missing some sort of idiomatic usage of a double negative or something. Or maybe it was a typo, although I'm not nearly confident enough in my Japanese to claim that. Regardless, they clearly think that Hina is at fault here.

And now it's speech time. I suppose as the Disc One Final Boss each of the characters feels compelled to explain why they're in this game. Remilia want to teach Hina not to mess with the Scarlet Sisters. Yuugi wants revenge for Yamame and Parsee while Reisen wants revenge for Tewi (what happened to Tewi?). Cirno, of course, wants revenge for herself. Lithos gives a long speech about the duties of the gods. Yeah, like you're one to talk.

Then Hina's all: "Fufufu, your hatred empowers me, watch as this world destroys itself!" blah blah blah. In response, Marisa's all: "Okay, that's nice, how about we started by destroying you first. With a Master Spark to the face." And of course Reimu just wants to end this stupid incident. "Let's see you try then! Drown in the negative thoughts of Gensokyo!" Action poses! And then she kills me.

Hina is an interesting, if gimmicky, boss. Unlike the previous bosses, she's not strongly affiliated with Darkness. Her most powerful attacks are darkness, but she doesn't use them often enough to make the Land meter relevant here, and she's not weak against light or anything. As you might expect, many of her attacks afflict the Curse status effect, which causes all damage or healing you do to also cause the same amount of damage to yourself. Given that your party tends to do enough healing or damage to kill themselves in one hit, you pretty much have to twiddle your thumbs until it's cured. Not being able to heal is terrifying though.

That's just the beginning of her "return the pain" theme. One of her attacks, Pain Bond, does more damage to a single target depending on how hurt Hina is. About halfway through the battle, this is unavoidable instant death by means of massive damage. You just have to revive through it and hope it wasn't someone important. Luckily her normal attacks are pretty weak.

Her biggest gimmick though is her use of reflecting barriers. On the second or third turn she'll cast a barrier on herself that makes her immune to one form of damage, magical or physical, while reflecting the other. So while she has the magic reflecting barrier up, she'll also be immune to physical attacks and vice versa. On the turn after it runs out, she'll cast it again. She randomly chooses which one to use, but you will never be able to hurt her if you don't dispel them, because either barrier makes her effectively immune to all forms of attack.

And that's the trick really. You can't dispel reflection effects, because the dispel will reflect back at you. Reflect takes priority here. So if Hina's reflecting magic, Sanae's dispel won't work, or rather would dispel her own buffs  *. Luckily for us, there's also a character who can dispel with physical attacks. Reisen! It's your chance to shine! Of course, Reisen can't dispel when Hina is reflecting physical attacks, so we need Sanae too. You need both to deal with this. This balance of physical and magical dispels is what constrains the battle.

Unfortunately for me, Reisen isn't very useful on bosses, or at least not by herself. She relies heavily on the damage bonuses she gets when the enemy has Permanent status effects. Most of which bosses will naturally be immune to, particularly the disabling kind that Reisen specializes in. Berserk, Confusion, Charm, and Sleep are not going to work on bosses, unless they're specifically designed to be vulnerable to it. Variety effects (stat downs, but also stat ups I guess) also give her a bonus, but it's much smaller and only applies to her spellcards, which have cooldowns. So she's very inconsistent on the damage front. She pretty much needs to be in a party with someone who can poison bosses, which is either Aya or Satori. Which runs into another problem.

Pre-constructed mechanics rant time! CAS, how I love it yet how I hate it. I've talked about CAS a lot because it's basically the most relevant stat most of the time. It marks the difference between success and failure, both for the application of status effects and for the battles that rely on said status effects. Victory and defeat hinge on CAS more than any other stat. Which is why whenever I'm using a character to cause status effects, I stack as much CAS on them as possible, using Growth, equipment and accessories. The problem lies primarily in the latter, the accessories.

Throughout the game, I've managed to accumulate exactly three accessories that raise CAS: one that raises it by 15, another by 30 the last for 45. Unsurprisingly, they're labeled I, II, and III of whatever they are, but they do stack for a total of +90 CAS when using up all of the character's three accessory slots. +90 out of around 150-200 total, depending on the character. Not bad at all. That's the problem though. That's all I can do. After you max out the relevant Growth trees, CAS doesn't go up anymore. Doesn't go up with better weapons, nor does it go up very much with level. I had 150-200 CAS back in stage 12 when I first started experimenting with Satori. I still have 150-200 CAS. It's not scaling, and the accessories are a huge fraction of it. While the scaling doesn't matter too much as long as the enemies don't scale (can't say if they do or not), the accessories create a big problem. Without accessories, your CAS is pitiful, and status effects become unreliable and therefore useless.

I only have 3 of them though. Enough for one character. I cannot support two separate status effect-using characters, and depending on how you use them that's four members of my party: Satori, Byakuren, Aya and Reisen. More if you count things like Youmu's instant death or Cirno's freezing. I need a ton of CAS spread around my characters. I love averting Useless Useful Spell in this game, but it won't let me unless I choose one character to do it and stick to her.

Well, I've been passing these accessories around depending on who's in my party, but the fact remains that I can only have one reliable status inflicter at a time. It's not like having the accessories even gives a 100% effect rate or anything, it's just enough to bring it over 70% or so, which is about my limit for wasting an action on it. I need these accessories to be on par here, which annoys me a lot. They should've either cut them from the game entirely and lowered enemy resistance in general or, perhaps more usefully, doubled the amount of them available. But you'd also have to lower the difference between the levels so you don't stack 2 +45's on one person while everyone else gets +15, which would defeat the point and change nothing.

Anyway, I've been holding that rant in me for a while now, but it's never actually been important until now. Well, maybe not important, but at least mildly relevant. I now need two separate characters to reliably hit with dispel. Or an already long fight drags on even longer while I waste time casting dispels that get resisted. Doesn't help that I require both Reisen and Sanae in the party, both whom can't exactly hurt Hina anyway (Reisen because of Hina's immunity to mind-affecting statuses). It's a battle against my MP as very few people in my party are doing damage. Not that I can't try.

First real attempt: Sakuya, Reisen, Reimu, Sanae, Marisa. Mokou as commander for revival purposes. I took out the tank and replaced her with Sakuya because honestly Hina's melee attacks are pretty weak. I need Reimu for emergency area-effect healing while also being able to provide consistent damage. Marisa has a special ability that lets her lasers pierce through reflection effects so she's also providing consistent damage while I'm waiting for a dispel that won't go through.

It's a long and slow fight, made practically unbearable by Hina's high evasion, but it's working. Pain Bond gets stronger and stronger over time, but it's all overkill anyway so progress is steady. Until Hina's in super-critical, around 5% or less, when she decides to change the gameplan. She casts a barrier that reflects both physical and magical effects, which is by definition undispellable. Well, at least Marisa can keep hitting her, right? As long as she doesn't start spamming an all-targeting attack that does 20,000 damage. Okay, back to the drawing board. It's always fun when the rules change right at the end.

I'll admit it, I cheated here. I looked up the fight on the Japanese wiki and translated the basic strategies to get some idea of what the moves do exactly. The death wave can be nullified by Reimu's Duplex Barrier, and while that's on cooldown you can do Alice's Little Legion to save everyone else. Satori also has some sort of Wall, and everything that can save me has a cooldown of course. Gotcha, gotcha. I suppose it's just a matter of staggering them and surviving until Marisa finishes it I guess? Also, ooh, Satori has both physical and magical dispels! The perks of being a Blue Mage. Unfortunately I have to go hunt them down and learn them from random enemies. That's what wikis are for, right?

So I get her physical dispel from some maid in Eientei, and fail to get her magic dispel from some fairy in Muenzuka (high level version, the place I'm fighting the boss of right now). The fairy couldn't cast it while controlled for whatever reason, possibly because of too many spells for the command UI. Well, it's not a huge deal, I'd need Sanae anyway for the HP buffs, because Satori has roughly zero survivability. Stupid CAS accessories though.

Round 2, cheating round: Alice, Reimu, Sanae, Satori, Marisa. Alice shields everyone, which is also necessary for Satori to survive, even with the HP buffs. Satori physical dispels and casts Holy in her spare time, which does about the same damage as Reimu's Persuasion Needles, but costs 4 times as much MP. MP costs seem to be Satori's weakness. The fight goes much faster without Reisen and Sakuya weighing us down (Sakuya also couldn't hit because of Hina's evasion, but I needed a heavy armor wearer in front). I get to phase 2, where Hina reflects everything, and put up Satori's Wall because it has the longest cooldown. And then Hina does 50,000 damage to herself and dies.

Um... apparently that was a Reflect Wall. And I guess this fight was supposed to end with a Death By Irony? Cirno also has reflect, in case you were wondering if Satori was mandatory.

She gives 65535 XP, which last I checked was some sort of binary equivalent of 99999, initially invoked in games due to memory limitations. Somehow I doubt that's the maximum amount of XP I can receive though, or grinding would be even more hellish in the late game. Is it just a fun reference then? The world my never know. At least until I manage to kill a super-yukkuri anyway. She also drops a Disaster Blade. This is the first time I've seen a plot-boss drop an item.

"Au..." "This is the end Hina! Stop the incident!" "U...o...ao" Uh... what? The party seems quite confused. I guess they expected her to be more coherent after being beaten up? Anyway, with a scream from Hina the thing behind her vanishes and she collapses to the ground. "The misfortune vanished?" That's been our goal, right? So that means we're done! Mission complete, time for the tea party?

Nope. The incident hasn't ended yet. While at first Remilia thinks that Hina's just being a Determinator, Hina quickly explains that we've been mistaken. The stuff from before wasn't her misfortune at all. So Reisen was right all along? I'm just more confused now. Of course, this is what I expected in the first place.

What we just saw was the "Fu no Shinentai", or the negative Shinentai. I can't find Shinentai in any dictionary, but it has 374,000 hits on Google. Apparently it's used in both Final Fantasy VII Advent Children and Haruhi, so that's really no surprise, but it doesn't tell us what it means. The basic gist of it seems to be an entity that possesses thought but no body, but isn't really a ghost either. On the other hand, that contradicts the fact that we've been beating them up so far, so in this case it might be an entity composed entirely of thoughts. As in, thoughts are its body. Anyway, I'm gonna call it the Negative Thought-body unless someone has a better suggestion. Assuming they ever say it again.

According to Hina, due to the recent "new gods" incident *coughcough*, an awful lot of youkai gave off negative feelings, which all got sucked into Hina's misfortune. Somehow or other, that big mass of negative feelings mixed together using Hina's aura as a medium. Then the mixture escaped from her and started gathering negative feelings from all around Gensokyo. That's the true form of this incident. Hina apologizes for her part in all this, but it seems she just got caught up in it. What I wanna know is what this has to do with what Satori and Yuugi were talking about. Didn't something escape from hell? I dunno, maybe they were talking about something further in the past, in the "this kind of disaster has happened before" sense. Or maybe there'll be another twist.

"I see" says Remilia, "I thought there was something fishy about this." No you didn't, stop trying to cover for yourself. "So what's it's goal?" "Destroy everything." "Everything?" "Everything. It doesn't have anything like reason, it's just an impulse from start to finish. Destroying everything is all it can do, so if this is left alone it'll be bad." Gotcha Hina. Good to know.

Hearing that she's kinda-sorta responsible for all this, Lithos has renewed determination to stop the incident, but Reimu reminds her that it's not like we wouldn't have seen this through to the end anyway. Hina tells us that its main body, which is of course far stronger than what we fought here, is growing in some alternate dimension. Which she conveniently opens a portal to. Reimu tells Hina that she needs to rest, which I feel is merely an excuse for the designers to not add her to the party. Think about it: we originally had 12 party members, exactly enough for two 5-person parties plus two commanders. Then in the expansion they add 5? That's three parties minus a commander. Or rather, 2.8333 parties. Hina was totally a shoe-in but they had to scrap her to make the deadline. Poor Hina. That's my theory and I'm sticking to it.
27th Jan '11 11:01:08 PM flag for mods
comments
Incidentally, I counted this time: this took 7 hours to write. I'm glad I didn't stay up all night for it.
Clarste 18th Jan 11
Well thank you.
totoro 18th Jan 11
For what?
Clarste 18th Jan 11
You have reflect? Can you bounce multi-target spells of it to hit a single enemy repeatedly, like in the Final Fantasy games?
Hylarn 18th Jan 11
No, as far as I can tell. It works backwards though: they can multi-reflect onto me for massive damage. The Computer Is A Cheating Bastard.

Favorable Wind is also a reflect effect that only works on breath attacks.
Clarste 18th Jan 11
7 hours! Oh dear. You are quite the determinator yourself.

Poor Hina indeed. It would've been amazing having her as a player character... I'm a little disappointed with Mr. Plot, though! I mean, negative thoughts? You barely even saw any- wait

It only just occurred to me, are all those monsters you kept fighting everywhere supposed to be the standard non-humanoid youkai living in Gensoukyou? ... I thought they were just a consequence of the mist or something.

Okay, I guess then the "negative thoughts" MIGHT make some sense. Absorbing the mist itself would've made more sense to me, though.

On the other hand, a being of pure negative emotions could have some potential for meaning, about how one without common sense is just a slave to lesser drives, something like that. Kinda doubt they'll really explore that, though! At all. Ah well. Hina! It was fun while you lasted!

PS: I'd really like to hear that Muendzuka music now.
Fawriel 19th Jan 11
The monsters are implied to be standard youkai (the battle resolution screen says "youkai extermination complete"). Possibly they're on a rampage because of the darkness, but they didn't need that excuse last time when all Bio was doing was weakening them. So they would attack you anyway and have nothing whatsoever to do with the incidents. You just fight monsters in RPGs, you know? It's the way the world is.
Clarste 19th Jan 11
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