Stage 24 second verse same as the first
Following my brief foray into the dual realms of weeding and vermin control, I did a couple of other sidequests. However, these do not deserve their own installments by virtue of being completely uneventful.
The Three Youkai Brothers
Sanae, Aya and Nitori are challenged◊
to a 3-on-3 with some wall things◊
. That's about it. No clever strategies or anything, just beat them up while Sanae heals. Aya's actually surprisingly strong with her new weapon that hits twice, and Nitori's axe chaser will apparently hit multiple times on the same target when chasing a multi-hit attack (Aya's fan counts as an axe). Good to know, but the walls are strong against physical elements so Nitori's elemental attacks were better.
This quest did reward three different items though, one for each of the required characters, so it was quite efficient, time-wise.
The Meirenji Temple Buried Gold Excavation Project
Apparently there was a treasure map or something showing buried gold underneath the Meirenji temple (that's where Byakuren lives). More importantly, it's Nazrin◊
. As for the fight, well, what can I say? It's Nazrin◊
. It turns out I don't even need a healer. Well, it is just a two star quest.
The reward is a gold nugget, and Nazrin dropped another one. They're crafting items, but I've never seen anything require them. Probably some accessory or something. Nazrin also gives me a formation called "Metal Busters" which has a few more back row magic-boosting slots for caster heavy parties. I guess that would have been nice on the dragon.
Signs of Darkness
The dragon in the Forest of Magic was not the mastermind. This time, the Sunflower Field is showing the same signs. Investigate.
. Well, well. Well.
Interesting predicament we have here. By interesting I mean not interesting in the slightest. Beating the dragon accomplished approximately nothing, and now we're going to investigate the exact same thing
somewhere else. I sense a pattern here, and I don't think I like it. While wild goose chases are all well and good, and indeed that was the plot of 2/3 of the original game, this time around we don't have the benefit of amusing-esque dialog and the general fun of meeting the cast of the setting all over again. Wondering "how are they going to interpret this
character's abilities?" has been a source of amusement for me. Abyss Dragons, not so much. That's just filler.
Just like last time, the area is a corrupted version◊
of the one next to it. And, just like last time, this doesn't show up at all from the inside◊
. It's the same sunflower field as before, although I suppose you guys haven't seen it before. The music here is somewhat odd. It's really... peaceful and old fashioned. Mkaes me think of SNES JRPG town music. Speaking of music, I forgot to mention this at the time, but the battle music changed in stage 22. I can't exactly convey this to you because the OST doesn't seem to be on youtube, but I like it more now.
The dungeon is designed in much the same way it was the last time we came to the Sunflower Field. It's big, sprawling, and vaguely circular, with paths blocked off by colored flowers◊
. There are also vents◊
that color you so you can get past the flowers. And other vents◊
the wipe out your current color. Overall, just a little puzzle dungeon. Seems a bit simpler than last time, or maybe I'm just used to it.
Enemies here are mostly large fairies◊
of some description, that seem completely unable to hurt me when Alice shields everyone with Marionette Pareil. The only mildly dangerous things here are cockatrices, who can of course petrify my entire party. I don't know why I think of them as only mildly dangerous now, as compared to the "Grah! Why? Why?!" that I felt the first time around, but most likely it's because Reisen is awesome.
As with the previous dungeon, my party is primarily composed of the new characters who need a whole ton more power in order to catch up to the older characters. The time around though, the dungeon design does not really encourage leaving to heal. Because of all the backtracking I need to do to carry the colors to the right flowers, respawning the enemies near the beginning would be quite troublesome. So I have to do the whole "use up MP and then switch the party around" thing.
Through this process, Reisen, who is normally kept in the back for her ability to create surprise attacks (which otherwise don't exist at all), gets eventually put in the front row. And it turns out she's pretty awesome at this random battle thing. First of all, she has a ton of bombs. She'll run out of MP before she runs out of bombs, so that's not even an issue at all. This is necessary before her attacks are broadly divided into two categories: her spellcards which cause status effects and her non-spells which get bonus damage against enemies with status effects. The major problem is that most of her status effects go away when the enemy is hit. Sleep, Berserk, Confuse, Charm, etc, are all useful only when no one else attacks. That's why I've found her pretty useless before.
However, while in long-term dungeon spelunking MP conversation mode, most characters can no longer spam their big all-targeting attacks. So Reisen's spellcards which Berserk the enemies' entire back row are much more useful when everyone else is only hitting the front row. And if those Berserked enemies happen to be cockatrices, then they can't use their petrifying attacks. Which I suppose is the entire point of the Berserk status effect. I don't really use it in most games.
Moreover, I seem to have underestimated the bonus damage that Reisen gets against targets with actual status ailments as opposed to the more generic stat downs that I usually use. It seems to be roughly 5 times damage with her current Growth distribution. So her super-cheap spammable basic attacks do around 4000 damage to the Berserked enemies while keeping them Berserked. Or 4000 three times depending on what's in the area of effect. Or Berserking them again, because her weapon has that effect. That's an awful lot for a low level character using cheap abilities. Note that Lithos is still doing a flat 6666 damage with her Last Spell that I'm using as a crutch. It seems that that will shortly become obsolete. Anyway, Reisen gets my seal of approval.
As a final note on this dungeon, I seem to have found a hole in the wall◊
. You're really not supposed to be inside the sunflowers. You can tell it's buggy because of the graphical clipping. I had been running away from an enemy chasing me and just sort of ran through the wall. Curiosity overpowering my fear of crashing the game, I run out as far as I can◊
. I suppose encountering an invisible wall is to be expected. The path I'm on is linear, so that's the end of the road. An awful lot of flowers though. I can exit the wall through the same hole I entered through with no problems.
Ominous heal point, teleporter, you know the drill. In this case it's pretty odd though, because there's another exit on the other side of the room that doesn't lead to the boss. Instead it leads to another area that I can see but not reach, because it's blocked off by differently colored ... oh. Oh, I see. That's pretty simple. I guess I got confused because I immediately exited the area to save my items (treasure boxes are finally dropping new armor again). I get it now. I suppose I'll have to go back there later. Just an extension of the puzzle, except you can reach the boss first for some reason.
Boss is this guy◊
. The Abyss Demon. First a dragon, now a demon? Well, at least his design is more interesting. Again, no cutscene or anything. Also again, he has worm back-up.
This guy is basically exactly the same as the previous boss, except easier. Seriously. The "gimmick" this time is that when the Land Gauge reaches full darkness he starts spamming an ability called "Winds of the Abyss" which is kind of dangerous. It also happens to be the exact same ability that defeated Biotopos in the opening cutscene of this expansion. Anyway, so the whole trick here is not let the Darkness Gauge build up. Which I had to do last time anyway. Did they somehow expect me to overpower the dragon without
doing that? That seems somewhat absurd to me.
So basically I can do the same thing I did last time, except without the dispels to annoy me, without the breath mandating Aya, and without the Meteors and Comets straining my healing. His normal attacks are also weaker. This was quite relaxing, relatively, but it troubles me. What were the designers thinking?
Well, I suppose it's not exactly
the same. This guy is weak against physical attacks and strong against magic, so nuking him with Reimu and Byakuren is considerably less effective. However, by not spamming light magic the meter builds towards Darkness considerably faster. So I need to use Lithos' commander ability every single turn, as opposed to every other turn. Luckily for me, the demon dies much
faster than the dragon did with both Remilia and Sakuya pounding on him. One of Remilia's critical hits did 20,000 damage, which is 20% of the Demon's HP. Although the average hit was closer to 5,000 (I have no idea how that works). Needless to say, this wasn't troublesome at all.
Well, I did
have a bit of trouble at the end. I didn't have magic attack buffs for this fight and only Byakuren had attack magic, so killing all four the worms at the same time, despite their ridiculous evasion, was a bit of a puzzle. And I wasted all of Byakuren's bombs before I realized they wouldn't die, so she had no all-targeting spells left. As it turns out though, Remilia's "Spear the Gungnir" has a very high accuracy bonus and is a piercing line attack while Sakuya's accuracy during "Private Square" is 100% for whatever reason. So I had to very slowly and carefully weaken all of them using Byakuren single target magic, and then kill them all on the same turn with single targeting attacks, or double targeting attacks in the case of Remilia (note their formation). I was sort of afraid of them respawning between Sakuya casting "Private Square" and her first action within it, but luckily that didn't happen. So it was all good fun. Worms are more interesting than the boss.
No cutscene again. And it seems the next quest is the same thing somewhere else. Wee! The final dungeon's cutscenes had better be worth it. Although I didn't hate running around the Sunflower Field again. However, the joy of fighting random battles isn't something that carries over well into liveblog format. Especially when compared to dialog.