Stage 26 my mom says i'm cool
Sorry for the delay. I do in fact have a life outside of this game. By which I mean I was playing other games. You may not realize this, but this long-term-project approach to gaming is a new one for me. I'm the kind of person who plays games when they're new or whenever I happen to discover them and then beat them within a week or less before trading them in for new games. Games don't come out every week, so I do other things in between. For the past few months those other things have mostly been this game, but I'm still taking breaks from it to check out new things.
Anyway, so I was talking to my mother about what a slacker I am. I am of course actually a slacker, there is no room for interpretation here and no insult was intended. She was wondering why I seemed to have no motivation for anything, and just went through school and work while applying the minimum effort. Didn't I want to accomplish anything? Something I was passionate about? So I told her that I was playing through an RPG in Japanese, a language I only know the basics of, with a controller in one hand and a dictionary in the other. For the record, dual wielding gives a 20% accuracy penalty. And then pulling all-nighters to write a 500 page novel on the subject. "Oh. It's nice to have hobbies I guess."
I'm not sure if anyone actually cares about these asides, but I thought it was amusing at the time. Actually though, she didn't give me a pithy one-liner but instead hugged me with joy because I was applying effort and passion to something. And that my Japanese classes had paid off in some way. And that I was playing RPGs (she's a bit of a gamer herself). It was a very touching moment, but mostly I'm mentioning it because it allows me to set up a terrible pun for the title of this installment. Honestly, the pun doesn't make much sense in the first place, but I always think of the title first to set the tone and now we're stuck with it. Let's see if anyone gets it.
The culprit behind the incident turned out to be an avatar of Gensokyo's negative thoughts. Enter the Darkness Space and defeat it!
Who writes these things◊
on the board anyway? The sidequests are letters of challenge, but the plot quests and character quests are written with no personality whatsoever, as if by some neutral narrator. Is someone following us around, summarizing the plot? Akyuu doesn't seem to know anything...
Anyway, next stop◊
is the Darkness Space◊
this sort of abstract spiral-themed place floating in the middle of a void. Very purple◊
. Design-wise, it's almost exactly the same as stage 21. Each room is an island in the void, connected to other rooms only by teleporters. A few of the rooms are also infinite loops, by which I mean if you run in one direction you'll end up back where you started.
While teleporter mazes are rarely pleasant, this one's not so bad. or at least I got lucky. Dead ends are easily identified and overall the trek goes smoothly other than one unfortunate hiccup. Halfway through the dungeon I activated a bridge◊
that served as a shortcut back to the entrance, and then another bridge at the end, so it never felt overwhelming.
As for the enemies, well, don't mess with angelic robots◊
. I learned my lesson this time. Luckily for me, some time between the original game and this expansion they changed the way enemies worked. It used to be the case that the enemy set would stay the same and I'd be forced to either eventually kill them or dodge them on the map forever, but nowadays it re-randomizes the set each time I run into them. So if I see a robot I can just run away and try again.
Other than that, you've got the usual random mix of enemies. Witches◊
, etc. Luckily for me, most of them are absolutely harmless because Reisen just Berserks them all and they can't hurt Alice with physical attacks. Unluckily, it turns out that Patchouli and Cirno don't make a very good combination. Patchouli is all about playing smart with the land gauge. Manipulating it so that the enemies can't hurt you and you can hit their weaknesses for massive damage. Indeed, her Growth gives her extra bonuses on top of the normal ones for having good land affinities, as well as tools to manipulate it more effectively. Cirno, on the other hand, is all about throwing ice at people. That's about it. That doesn't play well with Patchouli, especially when the enemies are vulnerable to fire or strong against ice, which many of these are (the blue witches, the plants, and the zombies). When they can work together with water they're unstoppable, but Cirno just doesn't know how to play nice.
Beyond that though, there are a few enemies that Berserk isn't effective on. The angelic robots, for one, but also the bikers, the zombies, and some 4 armed demon things that I don't have a picture of. The bikers have an all-targeting normal attack, so even when Berserked they'll just kill Cirno and Patchouli in the back row. I deal with them by using Little Legion to make Alice take all the hits on the first turn and if they survive, I use Cirno's Perfect Freeze to stun them on the second turn. The zombies have a normal attack that eats your brains and causes mind control. So even when Berserked they're annoying, especially with the aforementioned fire issue. Luckily they're pretty rare to encounter, but it's very dangerous if the wrong person gets controlled. Patchouli is not known for being a survivor.◊
I just got really lucky there.
The last dangerous enemies are the demons. They just have a really really strong physical attack, and attack twice per turn. They kill Alice through her physical defense. I treat them like the angels and run away, but I got unlucky once and died before I could get away. That was the hiccup mentioned earlier.
So, ominous heal point and teleporter back to the entrance. We all know what this means.
No cutscene. Boss is this guy◊
, who looks like this◊
in battle. He is known as "That Which Hates All", or the Everything-hater. Each of his two hand-mouth things is also a target, so technically this is a battle against three bosses although the mouths have fairly low HP, about the same as a normal enemy. The mouths have nonsensical names which I can't really figure out. One of them is the "Exchange Rooster Mouth" using an archaic character for bird which can pretty much only refer to the Chinese zodiac, and the other is the "Quake Rabbit Mouth", again using an archaic character for rabbit that only refers to the zodiac. It's possible that you're meant to read them as names instead of words, but there's definitely a pattern there so I'm gonna call them the Exchange Rooster and the Quake Rabbit.
The Everything-hater doesn't actually do very much. To be specific, the goal of the fight is to prevent him from doing anything, because if he does he'll kill you. You do this by killing his mouths with the correct timing. I think. Having cheated a bit last time, I felt guilty and did this fight entirely by trial and error, so my assessment of what exactly was going on may be off. I did win in the end, but maybe I just got lucky? He seemed pretty predictable, but minor deviations from my plan caused bad things to happen so I can only assume that I was doing it right.
First of all, the boss is immune to every magical element. That's fire, water, earth, lightning, light and darkness. Well technically, you can hit him with non-elemental "magic" element attacks, but those are pretty rare and kind of weak. Also, he's weak against all the physical elements so there's no reason to bother. Pretty simple. Use physical attackers. However, the mouths both have absurd evasion. You will not hit them unless you're using a high accuracy special attack, and even then it's iffy. However, they are each vulnerable to half of the magical elements. So the Exchange Rooster is vulnerable to Fire, Earth and Darkness while the Quake Rabbit is vulnerable to Water, Lightning and Light. Magic can't miss, so the evasion is irrelevant. Bring elemental casters.
Most of the time, the boss does nothing but physical attacks and single target darkness spells, and they're pretty weak. Every 8 turns or so though (I'm pretty sure it's a specific number but I didn't count the turns), he'll revive one of the mouths to full HP. If there is no mouth dead, he'll cause each of them to do a super-attack instead. Super-attacks are bad. Make sure at least one of them is dead. However, if both are dead at the beginning of a turn he'll cast Wind of the Abyss and then revive both of them at once, separately from the normal revive timer. This is also bad. Make sure exactly one
is dead. On the turn after the turn where he would revive a mouth (or make them do their super-abilities), he casts another spell that does exactly 999 damage to the entire party. I have about... 500 HP or so on average. Patchouli has 300.
Their idiosyncratic abilities make the choice of which to kill simple. The Exchange Rooster casts attack buffs and heals the boss for about 10,000. Normally that would be a whole ton, but he's weak against physical so you can just damage through it if you really want to. Still annoying though. As its super-move, it heals the boss to full. The Quake Rabbit is less annoying. Mostly it does is physical attacks, which have areas of effect but based on my formation won't hit anyone but the tank. Sometimes it casts a spell that does nothing but fill up the land gauge with Darkness. As its super-move it smacks the ground and causes an earthquake for 600 damage to the party, killing everyone but the tank. This is what I want to avoid. Ignoring the super-moves which should never happen in the first place, the Exchange Rooster is much more annoying have alive, so it dies first. And then it dies again after its revived. There's really no reason to ever kill the Quake Rabbit.
The party is Alice, Remilia, Yuugi, Sanae and Patchouli. Lithos is in the back to prevent Darkness build-up. It's not too important, but it does happen over time. Alice tanks, and takes very little damage. She also uses Little Legion to take the all-targeting 999 attack for everyone else and be the only one to die. Remilia does the bulk of my damage, spamming "Red, the Nightless Castle" every turn for 7000 damage, 15000 on a crit. I gave her extra bombs for this fight so she could keep using it. Yuugi was originally Sakuya on my first few attempts, but the boss' immunity to water made Sakuya's sword kind of useless. It doesn't do zero damage, but certainly a whole lot less than it otherwise would. I think it does half slashing damage and half water damage or something. Going down the list of powerful physical attackers, Yuugi was next. I tried Youmu too, but her most powerful attack is random-targeting multi-hit and would keep hitting the mouths.
Incidentally, at level 75 Yuugi learned an ability called Berserker Soul. Just like when she was a boss, this causes her to get 8 normal attacks in a row, for two turns. This amuses me, but she only has enough MP to do it once. Luckily her spellcards are pretty cheap so she can follow up with that. She now has 4
spells. Anyway, Sanae buffs and heals while Patchouli takes care of the Exchange Rooster using elemental magic. While it's dead she doesn't have much to do so I just have her maintain the land gauge by casting spells for 0 damage. This is important because I have to reset it every so often using Lithos' commander ability.
In the end, the boss doesn't have much health and I'm consistently doing massive damage to it with Yuugi and Remilia. It receives a number of heals while the Exchange Rooster Mouth is still alive, but it only takes about 2 and a half revive cycles to finish the boss off. I had been preparing to kill the other mouth (Quake Rabbit) immediately afterwards or at the same time, but apparently that wasn't necessarily because the Everything-hater took it with him.
While the description of it sounds relatively straightforward, this one was a devil to figure out. Oh, he revives them? And I'm dead now for some reason. Why did it heal him to full?! What's with these earthquakes?! You didn't do that last time! When I say trial and error, I mean trial and error. Emphasis on the error. Ultimately though, it's a clockwork boss that's extremely predictable, and once you know what to do the execution is simple. Even if you don't quite understand why
No cutscene, and the next area is just going deeper into the hole. I guess this was just another spawn or something. Maybe they'll add onto the zodiac theme with later bosses? Since this is short, I'll add on the next bit that might have otherwise gone at the top of the next installment. Put simply, I talked to Akyuu and she gave me new recipes.
That's standard; she gives out new recipes regularly and that's how you keep your equipment up to date. In this expansion though, that process has slowed down considerably. At the very beginning of it, I got one level of new recipes for everyone, the 8th tier, plus three levels for all the new characters, extending backwards so 6th 7th and 8th. This new 8th tier of weapons wasn't much better if at all than the 7th tier, but there's a good reason for that. It's practically impossible to make 7th tier weapons. Those were the Infinity Plus One Swords
of the previous game. The only one I have is Sakuya's. The 8th tier stuff is slightly weaker, but much easier to make so it's worth it. This difference in difficulty is due to something I mentioned a long while ago. Each weapon takes three kinds of ingredient.
First: the character specific ingredient. I've mentioned these a few times recently: the Phoenix Feather for Mokou, Fresh Blood for Remilia, and things like Broken Katanas for Youmu, etc. I've stockpiled an impressive number of these because this save file never bought any weapons.
Second: the weapon-type ingredient. This is shared between a quarter of your party and looking at the descriptions they're classified by type. The Iron Ore (I've been calling it the something something rock) is for blades, the Bamboo Pole for sticks, the Magic Medallion for magical items, and the Pickling Stone for everything else. Traditionally these have been my limiting ingredients, especially Iron Ore.
Third: the dungeon ingredient. The item that can only be obtained in up-to-date dungeons, forcing you to move forward to get better stuff. Not particularly surprising. There's one of these for each tier of equipment. They tend to be either awesome or abstract sounding stuff, like Makai Sand, Orichalcon, or Trapezehedrons.
The point of telling you all this is that the 7th and 9th tiers of weapons are exceptions. How so? Well, the 7th tier replaces the character-specific ingredient with a rare variation on it. So a Phoenix Plume instead of a Phoenix Feather or Dried Blood instead of Fresh Blood. I just made those up, they might be a bit more creative than that. These items were rare drops from powerful random encounters in the final dungeon, most of which I couldn't even beat. Luckily, I dodged a bullet and skipped right over them to tier 8. Ha, in your face, game-design!
Unfortunately, tier 9 replaces the weapon-type ingredient with the tier 7 weapon itself
. In addition to the rare versions of the character specific ingredients. So I can't upgrade my weapons until I go back and get the old Infinity Plus One Swords
from the previous game. I'm assuming that there will be new super-monster to drop them in the new final dungeon, but it's not a pleasant thought. And because I've been stuck at tier 8 for so many stages, I feel like my weapons aren't quite "fresh" enough to be useful for much longer. Hopefully that's just my imagination though.