Last time, Fei got arrested because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Let's see if we can't fix that, shall we?
So, we're in a cell on this sand cruiser. Fei was worried about how he's been playing right into Grahf's hands. However, this is no time for crushing angst. Citan suggests that we get some rest when I talk to him, so I do that.
Citan proceeds to reflect on how he recognized Grahf, and thinks that we might be approaching "the -Time- of the -Gospel-" (complete with ridiculous dashes for emphasis). We then get a scene where he's talking with some guy identified as an emperor, who wears a gold mask and is sitting on a floating throne in the middle of nowhere, with several works of modern art orbiting it. The Emperor talks about how his people (or possibly just himself, if he's using the royal "we") will return to God and live in paradise for eternity, and how the time for this draws near. Thus, he intends to have his people find and resurrect God.
Well, that's enough foreshadowing for now. It's high time something interesting happened. Namely, sand pirates attacking the ship to steal our Gear. Their leader, who has blonde hair and blue eyes (or a blue eye at any rate—being a pirate, he naturally has an eyepatch), gives the order to attack, and for the life of me I can't find the music that plays when he does it (it's a sped-up version of this
We then cut back to Fei and Citan, who can only watch as the pirates' sand submarine
surfaces and launches its attack.
This is what happens when you want to have naval battles without giving the player a ship at the start of the game, folks.
Anyway, the ship we're on gets hit and immediately starts listing. That's never a good sign. We have to run against the flow of sand into the ship to escape, though I also grab a SurvivalTent and a Rosesol before leaving the prison area.
After that, I enter the engine room. Here, I fight Aveh Corporals, who have either rifles or machine guns (which hit multiple time, of course). The fights here are interrupted at regular intervals by explosions that damage everyone. They're also a good opportunity to test out Senretsu (which involves Fei kicking his target several times, launching them back, and punching them) while building up Citan's Deathblows. It doesn't take long for him to learn Ukigumo, his first Deathblow (Triangle then X, just like Fei—everyone uses the same combos for their Deathblows). For this attack, Citan punches his target several times, launches them into the air, then leaps up after them and slams them into the ground
Also, I should note that Sazanami (Citan's healing ability, just to remind you) has him literally heal his target with a lens flare. It looks pretty nifty for an animation that takes less than a second.
The engine room contains two extra items: a Leather Vest (which Fei equips) and an Extra Ar+1 (equipment for Gears, which I can't do anything with yet). It's also rapidly disintegrating, so I get the hell out of there.
I then enter a storeroom, which contains a save point and is quite difficult to navigate. One of the corporals I fight does drop a Leather Hat, though, and it's enough of a boost over the Stamina Ring to be worth equipping.
After I escape from there, Fei finds himself alone on the deck. This is because Citan is using a crane to form a bridge for Fei to get to Weltall. After manually running up the crane, Fei jumps into the Gear and picks Citan up. Unfortunately, our escape is interrupted by the pirate captain, whose Gear is red and has an eyepatch. He taunts us about leaving our comrades to die in the ship, obviously assuming we're soldiers.
Naturally, I have to fight him. Now, except when otherwise noted, all boss fights use the boss music I linked last time (Knight of Fire).
Anyway, to the fight. The enemy Gear, Brigandier, can use an attack called Wild Smile that causes camers damage (which drops my accuracy and evasion). It also has an attack called Chain Whip that does decent damage. I, however, also have a new trick in the form of Reppu, my new Gear Deathblow. For this, Weltall hits its target with a powerful uppercut that does around 200 damage.
After I do enough damage, we both get caught in a sinkhole.
We wind up in an underground cave. The captain realizes, once Fei gets out of his Gear, that he isn't an Aveh soldier. After apologizing, he introduces himself as Bart. After Fei tells the short version of his life story, he and Bart end up working together to escape the cave (which Bart claims is made from igneous rock, suggesting that he slept through every geology course he ever took).
Meanwhile, the surviving Aveh soldiers are on board the pirate ship, complaining about being torpedoed. The ship's nurse then says this rather amusing line:
"Excuse me... Is there anyone who is almost dead, with no arms or legs, or in need of an abdominal operation? ... No one...? Well that's depressing..."
After that bit of nonsense, we cut over to Citan, who is relaxing near the ship's first mate, Sigurd. They talk about how Bart managed to avoid killing as many people as possible, then discuss his disappearance. Sigurd follows this up by mentioning how he didn't expect to run into Citan here, while referring to him as "Hyuga".
Seems like Citan knows more than he lets on, huh?
Anyway, I'm back with Fei, and I might as well discuss Bart now that he's in my party.
Character Analysis: Bartholomew Fatima
- HP: Average
- EP: Low
- Attack: Average
- Defense: Average
- Ether: Low
- EthDef: Low
- Agility: 10
- Weapon of choice: Whips
Bart has average stats across the board, but this doesn't matter as much you'd think. He, unlike Fei and Citan, can equip weapons, which boost his attack power to more effective levels. His Agility is high enough to give him a decent number of turns, but not high enough to start getting multiple turns between other characters.
He starts with a single Deathblow, Head Hunter, which I'll explain when I'm somewhere where I'm not expected to constantly be in a Gear. He also starts with one Ether ability, Wild Smile. It has its uses.
Anyway, I should also note the abilities of our Gears now. Weltall, like Fei himself, is an effective yet average Gear. It has 10 Agility and 1800 HP at present. Brigandier is a bit tankier at 1900 HP (and it isn't damaged right now), but it also has 1 less Agility. It's also equipped with a LeatherGWhip, which should be hilariously ineffective but is actually decent.
Now, to talk a bit about some Gear stats:
- Gears have their Attack and Defense determined entirely by what engine and armour they have equipped. The engine has an "output" stat that's fed through a multiplier dependent on the Gear (10 for Weltall and 8 for Brigandier, for example), and the armour simply says how much Defense it gives in its description.
- Gears use the pilot's EthDef, though there are some types of armour that add to it.
- Gears have a "Response" stat that's applied to their pilot's Hit% and Evade% to determine the Hit% and Evade% of the Gear itself. This stat is 0 by default, and can only be increased by equipment (the Old Circuit Weltall starts with, for example, increases its Response by 10).
- Gear equipment has weight, and each Gear has a specific capacity for it. If you go over your weight limit, the Gear starts losing Agility (1 point for just going over it, with additional loss at fixed intervals).
- Lastly, Ether attacks made in a Gear are affected by a stat called EthAmp, which is used as a multiplier applied to the pilot's Ether. This starts at 10.
Anyway, I equip the Extra Ar+1 I found on Weltall (replacing a plain Extra Ar it was already equipped with) and head into the cave. Enemies include Sand Men, Tin Robos (pathetic Gears that can't take any punishment), Nomad Fix Bots (which will repair and refuel your Gears if left alone), May Flies (big insects attached to Gears; they can inflict camera damage), and Medusoids (land jellyfish, basically).
As I explore the initial room, Bart eventually picks up the presence of a cavern on his sensors. Unfortunately, there's a big rock in the way, but it's nothing we can't handle. Fei and Bart then debate the matter of who to blame for falling into the cavern. Bart ends up challenging Fei to another fight, but more competent minds prevail.
All right, back to exploring. The cavern contains exactly two treasures: a Gold Nugget (which sells for 2000 golds) and an Iron GWhip, which is significantly less embarrassing than what Bart was using before. I also find a Gear that explains that there's so much sand that a nearby barrier had to be closed to keep it from getting everywhere.
Before long, we come across a small cave that shows signs of habitation. Entering it, we find a very old and quite hospitable man who immediately identifies problems with our Gears. He also introduces himself as Balthazar (...yeah), though he prefers the significantly less Biblical Ol' man Bal.
Anyway, Bal explains that he lives down here because he collects fossils. In fact, he has a whole shelf full of skulls, with the oldest ones on the far left and the newer ones going from there. Examining them, Fei notes that there are no human fossils before a specific point, at which something changes slightly. Bal explains that the point where human fossils stop appearing is around ten thousand years ago, suggesting that there were no humans on the planet until then.
Bart brings up evolution, which Bal notes is taught by the Ethos. He, however, puts more stock in legends (yes, we did just meet a conspiracy theorist who believes that evolution is a cover-up by the church).
As this quite aptly-named theme
plays, Bal explains the legends he believes. It's remarkably similar to Genesis: humans live in a utopia protected by God, humans eat the forbidden fruit and are banished for their sins, that sort of thing. Then, it gets rather interesting, because instead of just living with their situation, humans made "giants" to fight God, until He killed those who would do so. However, He was wounded in doing so, and now sleeps deep beneath the ocean. Before sleeping, though, He made the modern humans.
With that bit of weirdness out of the way, we talk to Bal again to ask about a way out of the cave. There is one, but it's locked due to a sand barrier. Bal can open it, but he'll need us to turn off some sand sensors first. First, though, he offers to tune up our Gears.
Now, let's go over what the various Gear parts do:
- Engines determine your attack power (based, as I said, on their output) and how much fuel your Gear can carry.
- Armour determines your Defense and EthDef.
- Frames are specific to each Gear and determine how much HP you have.
Now, here's what Bal has to sell:
- G6-1200 (1200G): 6 output and 1200 fuel
- WELT-02100 (400G): Usable by Weltall, has 2100 HP
- WELT-02500 (800G): Usable by Weltall, has 2500 HP
- HEIM-03200 (1800G): Usable by Heimdal (which we don't have yet), has 3200 HP
- BRIG-02200 (500G): Usable by Brigandier, has 2200 HP
- BRIG-02700 (900G): Usable by Brigandier, has 2700 HP
- MS 6 (500G): Defense of 60
- Other equipment:
- Extra Ar+1 (50G): Increases Defense by 5
He also has some items:
- Aquasol (20G)
- Rosesol (100G)
- Omegasol (50G)
- SurvivalTent (150G)
Out of all that, I want the upgraded engines and armour, along with the best frame for each of my Gears. Buying the intermediate ones would just be a waste of money because I'd have to upgrade them again later.
Anyway, to the sand sensors. The first one is o a high path I couldn't reach without going through the area where Bal's house is. The second sensor, meanwhile, is in the same general area as the Iron GWhip, and in fact you need to jump past it to get to the whip.
After I turn both sensors off, I head back to Bal's place to talk to him. As promised, he opens the gate to let us through. After that, Bart asks him about something he heard regarding Gears that are superior to all others. Bal then clarifies that these are called Omnigears, and goes on for a bit about how absurdly powerful they'd be before dismissing them as a legend. After that, he heads over to our Gears and examines them.
While they're waiting for Bal to get back, Fei and Bart discuss the Omnigear, which is supposedly buried somewhere. Fei suggests that one of our Gears might be it, and Bart, naturally, is skeptical. I mean, what are the odds of something like that happening, right? Bart then clarifies that most excavated Gears are only a few hundred years old, so they couldn't possibly be Omnigears. He also says that there must've been a war at some point, due to the excavated Gears having taken battle damage.
Fei is a bit surprised to learn that Bart doesn't know anything about the past hundred years of history, and Bart explains it. The Ethos controls all records of history, and the people only know what little they can find for themselves. Bart then reveals his suspicions about Bal, who he thinks must be looking for ancient Gears if he lives in a place like this.
At this point, Bal notices something disturbing about Weltall.
"This is... The host for the spirit of the slayer of god..."
When Fei tries to get more information out of Bal, he kicks us out. He will still sell stuff, but I've already bought everything I need from him, so I save my game at the nearby save point and head onward.
As I proceed, I quickly come across a cable car. After getting the party out of their Gears (mapped to L2 and R2, but since I'm playing the PSN version on my PSP I press up on the little analog...thing instead), I ride it to the power source for the excavation site we're in. With that done, we can move forward by way of the now-functioning elevators.
After jumping through a strip-mined hole in the ground and saving at the save point across from it, I take an elevator to a heavily damaged bridge. However, before we can pass it, a fat-looking Gear with big rocket engines strapped to its back attacks us.
This Gear, Calamity, is noteworthy for tripping up the vast majority of new players. It can punch you, do a rocket punch, or shoot powerful unblockable missiles. New players, not knowing that the engine upgrades control more than fuel capacity, may well have skipped them altogether, ending up with barely enough power to pass this fight.
Guess what happened to me my first time through?
Anyway, besides properly upgrading my Gears and turning on the boosters, I apply Wild Smile, significantly limiting his ability to actually damage me. The missiles, being Ether-based, can't be dodged and will always do around 500 or so damage, but everything else is easy enough to negate.
Once it is sufficiently punched and flogged, Calamity goes down (amusingly ehough, to a 19-damage light attack from Bart). Before we can leave, though, it gets up and attacks again (complete with the boss music fading back in). Fei, however, jumps in and unleashes a powerful punching combo we won't be seeing again for a long
time. Bart asks what that attack was, but Fei insists that he doesn't know how he did it.
The text here, I should note, is incredibly laggy, probably due to copious amounts of dramatic zoom.
With that done, we can head out to the exit. Bart notes that you can see Bledavik, the capital of Aveh, from where we ended up. He mentions that there's no king in the castle right now, and that Bledavik is his home town.
We skip the time it takes for us to meet up with Bert's gang, and head right to the Yggdrasil, Bart's ship. I already linked to the music that plays inside of it, though it starts midway through the song.
Anyway, Citan is already waiting for Fei. Maison, Bart's apparent butler (or something, it's not very clear) welcomes us aboard, and formally introduces us to "Master Bartholomew", as he calls him. Sigurd then shows up and introduces himself, as well. He drags Bart off to the bridge, and I'm once again given control.
I then proceed to the nearest save point, because I think that's enough for now.