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God Digs Giant Robots: Let's Play Xenogears!
Shield Of Doom

[table of contents]
Blackmoon Forest
Last time, Fei was branded a killer and forced to leave his people behind. Let's try to end this update on a less depressing note.

The events of the last update ended with Fei being dropped unceremoniously into the harsh, unforgiving overworld. Here, I can save anywhere, note that the world outside of Ignas is almost entirely water, and listen to best world map theme ever.

Incidentally, that song also has a vocal version, which was supposed to be for the intro sequence, but the entire scene it played over was cut out because it would mean having to sit through ten minutes of anime cutscenes before actually being able to play the game.

If only we still lived in a world where that sort of thing was a concern, right?

Before actually going into the Blackmoon Forest like I was told to, I spend some time getting into random battles to learn a Deathblow. Deathblows are super-strong attacks activated with certain button combinations, and they're learned by using the attacks that are part of them.

It works like this: each type of attack has a certain number of animations. Weak attacks have four, medium attacks have two, and strong attacks only have one. The game selects what attack animation you'll do next based on the previous one you used, ensuring that the attack chain looks smooth (relatively speaking) when animated. Each character has an "experience" counter for each of their attack animations, and when the animations that are used in a Deathblow have been used enough times, you qualify to actually learn it. The best way to learn a Deathblow is usually to repeatedly use the attack chain that results in it, but not always.

So, I spend a while beating things up with a Triangle attack followed immediately by an X attack. This leads to Raijin, the first of Fei's many Deathblows. In it, Fei raises his fist up, then punches the target into the ground.

Worth noting is that Fei happens to learn Deathblows slower than anyone else, gaining only one point towards learning his Deathblows each time he uses an attack. This, at the very least, meant that it wasn't much trouble to get one of the Hopper enemies that appear here to drop some Fencing Wear, which is an upgrade from Fei's Martial Wear.

Aside from the Hoppers, I can also fight Hobgobs and Lil' Kobolds (who have bows and can shoot bomb arrows for very slightly less pathetic damage than their normal arrows). The latter can drop Fencing Caps, which provide 2 Defense—the same as the Stamina Ring Fei starts with. Not really worth it, but taking the time to grind Deathblows should get you at least one.

With that bit of Deathblow grinding taken care of, I head into Blackmoon Forest. The new enemies here are Forest Elves, Dive Bombers, and Armor Grubs. Dive Bombers start the fight out of reach of melee attacks and Armor Grubs are nearly immune to physical damage, so Guided Shot gets a workout here. The latter can also drop Bizfruits, which restore 10 EP outside of battle.

I loot another Aquasol and climb up at a location shown to me by a helpful Hobgob, which contains a save point and the path to the second part of the forest. The path is blocked by a boulder, which is being held in place by a rather unfortunate Hobgob who I need to punch in the face in order to proceed. Doing so causes the boulder to very slowly roll downward, giving me more time to escape than I could possibly need.

As Fei moves forward, he encounters an orange-haired woman who yells at him in a language he doesn't know. Realizing her mistake, she switches over to English (with a slightly inconsistent accent) and threatens to shoot Fei if he tries anything. She claims she's been ordered to kill every "surface dweller" (or "Lamb") she comes across, but she asks for directions out of the forest first.

Fei quickly starts trying to get the woman to shoot him, but before anything can come of it, an elf knocks her out. Fei then says this:

'''"Stop! Keep your hands off of 'Elly'!"

I then have to fight two Forest Elves, who fall easily to my fists.

Much later, the woman wakes up. Fei asks her name after a bit, and, though it takes a bit of convincing, she introduces herself as Elyham, saying that her parents shorten it to Elly. Fei's response is this:

"'Elly', huh? Somehow I already 'knew' that."

Yeah, I bet you were thinking that previous statement was a mistranslation or something. I thought that too when I first played.

Our characters then rest, and Fei starts dreaming about something. It involves a young boy who looks like him in a desert. Some people walk by without taking notice of him, then a woman approaches him...and Elly wakes Fei up.

Now, Elly joins my party for the time being.

Character analysis: Elyham Van Houten

Elly, as you can see, leans heavily toward Ether attacks. Unlike most characters, she has a high enough Ether stat to actually make use of her Ethers effectively.

She starts with four Ethers: Anemo Bolt, Terra Lance, Thermo Cube, and Aqua Ice. These are wind, earth, fire, and water-elemental attacks, respectively, and they're Elly's main source of damage. They have the same damage multiplier and cost as Guided Shot, but they'll do more damage because Elly's Ether isn't terrible.

Elly's Ethers do have a unique property where they can fail and do a third of the normal damage, with the chance being based on her Ether stat. However, all of her starting Ethers have a 100% chance of working, and there's little reason to use the later ones.

I quickly pillage an Arcane Rod from a nearby box, which replaces Elly's wimpy Magical Rod. I also get another Aquasol and a SurvivalTent as I move forward.

I soon enter a fixed encounter with 2 Forest Elves and 2 Dive Bombers, after which Elly asks about something Fei said the previous day about his life being worthless (which I skipped over by mistake). This leads to her asking why he's in the forest, causing Fei to talk about how he ran from his village.

Fei proceeds to tell the story of how he tried to save Lahan and failed, and he soon starts blaming the Gears. This causes Elly to flash back to two nights prior, when she was on a mission near the border. She was hit, and had to make an emergency landing...in Lahan.

Fei starts losing it, trying to blame the Gears for the destruction of Lahan, to which Elly responds by calling him a coward for being unable to face his own responsibility. She calls him out for blaming the Gears when he himself chose to pilot the Gear. Fei responds to this by breaking down.

Elly then leaves the area and starts thinking about what she said, while flashing back to...something that involved her causing a bunch of deaths, and unable to take responsibility for them.

I believe we call that "irony", folks.

This scene is interrupted when Elly is attacked by a dinosaur. Fei, of course, has to come to the rescue.

I then enter a fight against the game's first real boss, the Rankar Dragon. It spends most of its turns doing nothing, but takes so little damage that Fei might as well be hitting it with a feather.

After a few turns of this, Citan arrives out of nowhere, piloting the Land Crab and carrying the Gear from earlier. Fei agrees to use the Gear to kill the Rankar, but he also requests that Citan kill him if it goes out of control like last time.

Of course, that would make for a very short game, so it's not going to happen.

Learning that Deathblow earlier also unlocked the first of Fei's Gear Deathblows. To use these, you need to first attack your enemies to build up your attack level. Each attack level (up to 3) normally contains two Deathblows, each of which corresponds to one of your normal Deathblows. For example, learning Raijin gave Fei access to the level 1 Gear Deathblow Raigeki, which costs 40 fuel to use and involves punching the target twice in succession.

Thanks to this, it doesn't take long for the Rankar to fall. It drops some Scales, which can be sold for money.

After the fight, Fei asks why Citan brought the Gear in the first place, given that it would remind him of how he destroyed Lahan. Citan responds by saying that Fei might need the Gear (which is called Weltall, for the record) to protect himself.

Elly then wakes up, and Citan fills her in on what happened. He then suggests that the group call it a day, so Fei and Elly can rest while he makes some repairs on Weltall.

We then get a scene where Citan talks with Elly. He notes that there was one Gear unaccounted for in the area, then says the following:

"Nil bayer dars legus? (It was you, right?)"

The second bit, I'd assume, wasn't actually said. I doubt anyone would actively translate what they're saying when the person they're talking to knows the language, after all.

Citan determines that Elly is with the military, because her uniform matches the ones worn by some of the dead pilots from Lahan. He then decides that it's best that they don't talk to much about their respective pasts, and asks Elly to leave before Fei wakes up. Elly, however, wants to apologize for what she's done to Fei. Citan is surprised that Elly would have such empathy for a surface dweller, given how her people normally think of them.

Elly starts talking about how she was taught that Lambs are stupid and weak, but Fei seemed different somehow. She thinks that she feels this way because of her father, who cared more for surface dwellers than is considered healthy by their people.

Anyway, Elly leaves and the scene ends. The next morning, Fei reveals that he heard part of the conversation. After a bit more discussion, Citan assures Fei that the people of Lahan are safe, thanks to Yui. He then suggests heading to the desert town of Dazil, where the two of them could probably get some information about what's going on, along with some replacement parts for Weltall. He then joins the party for the time being.

As we leave the forest, a massive airship flies past. Citan suggests that it's a Gebler ship allied with Aveh. He explains that the Gebler forces come from the Sacred Empire of Solaris, and that they provide military aid to Aveh. He also notes that Elly's probably part of Gebler, and that they're probably trying to secure some 500-year-old ruins to the north at present.

I then proceed out onto the world map, and I think I'll leave it here for now.
28th Jun '11 6:24:04 AM flag for mods
comments
The chain animation feature reminds me of Sands Of Destruction (made by a number of the same people, so natch), where basically you had a "heavy" attack and a "flurry" attack, with flurries being more useful since they had much more hits despite being weaker...but since your characters gained more actions based on the number of hits dealt, most non-boss battles soon turned into curb stomps.
ComicX6 28th Jun 11
Strangely, I'm actually getting Paper Mario flashbacks, though that may be because of the various ways the game deals with damage. Characters who do many small hits generall do way more cumulative damage than those who only do one big hit, but this means they have difficulty dealing with enemies with defense and so on... I actually think the Paper Mario games have one of the deepest battle systems I've ever seen in any RPG, naysayers of the game's "simplicity" be damned.

Do you know who this game's composer(s) is/are? I'm getting a familiar vibe from these tunes, but can't place it...
FreezairForALimitedTime 28th Jun 11
The music was composed by Yasunori Mitsuda.
ShieldOfDoom 28th Jun 11
Holy crap, he worked on Bomberman 64: The Second Attack and Mario Party 2? No wonder he sounds so familiar; those two games were an integral part of my childhood!
FreezairForALimitedTime 29th Jun 11
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