I don't know why I'm thinking about this, since I'm not the one playing it, but some thoughts on it's influences:
THE MEEKOoh, screenshots! Thanks for those!
SHALL INHERIT THE EARTH
Three StepsHmm, now that I can actually show things I wonder if that will limit my efforts to describe them. Rather than saying: "the enemies in this area are ninjas, pirates and robots" I would just go "here's a picture of a ninja pirate robot." I think I'm going to post them at the end or something so they don't interrupt the narrative, unless I have a particularly appropriate one. I kind of have to go back and stage these pictures though, so I doubt that'll be the case very often. Maybe when I catch up I can have real-time screen shots including boss fights, but don't hold your breath. Oh, and if it turns out that you hate the narrative and just wanna see the pictures, I'm gonna go cry in the corner. Stage 10 the dark side of the moon Stage 10 is basically the same as stage 9, except darker. More Japanese mansion with the same tileset, it's just poorly lit this time. It's also relatively short and almost unnoteworthy, as a dungeon. Well, it has a series of one-way doors that take you back to the entrance and one room that's pitch black so you have to feel your way around, but I found the lightswitch pretty fast so it didn't affect me much. So that's all I'm going to say about the dungeon. There's another starter cutscene this time. It's mostly just Eirin talking to Kaguya about stuff like how the rabbits were defeated and all that, but the cutscene is notable because Kaguya is playing a video game (imported via Kourindou, of course). So the scene is basically Eirin talking at Kaguya while Kaguya ignores her and talks about the game and how crazy it is that she can do something like this with modern technology. It ends with Kaguya Rage Quitting after dying. Unlike the last dungeon, I now have a single party again. But it's not like the experience didn't affect me. Having used a lot more of the characters and in general just familiarized myself with the game, I'll be switching my party around a bit more from now on. Not a lot more, but basically I'm willing to have a good 4 person party and 1 extra who I'm not relying on. The commander slot now goes to whoeever's the lowest level at the time, except on bosses where's it's Mokou. What this means in this case is that I realized that I can usually survive without a designated tank so I switched out Alice in favor of Satori, who I still haven't used at all yet (she was just the commander for Team Alice). Youmu is now the center character and my field sprite. Just for the record, Satori is pretty terrible when she has no abilities. Speaking of field sprites, the enemies are now little girls wearing masks on the side of their head. They look like they're from some summer festival or something, but I'm sure there's a classic youkai that looks like that. For some reason they seem harder to dodge here, but I think it's just the terrain. The enemies here are pretty tough, actually. We've got ninjas, who have a decent physical attack with a chance of instant death, werewolves who can cast all-targeting berserk, floating hard drives that can remove you from battle (super-death, tends to leave things like Marisa's hat lying on the ground, implying you disintegrated) and worst of all these moon princess things that look like color swaps of Kaguya. They cast Time Stop. Time Stop is kinda like paralyze, but it's not paralyze so you can't cure it in the same way. Also, they go faster than Sanae so they can Stop her before she gets a resist buff off. The moon princesses can't really kill you on their own, but being a sitting duck is never a good idea. Satori can learn Time Stop, and apparently it was completely overpowered in an earlier version of the game, but she never does for me. Actually, I get to about the third room before I give up on Satori. She managed to learn Lunatic Howl or whatever the berserk ability is, but mostly she just dies and fails to apply status ailments. Actually, one of her most useful moves is Scan, but all I learn from it is that pretty much everything here is vulnerable to darkness, which I can't really do. In the interests of not dying horribly I switch Patchouli back in, and she spams "Silent Selena". Byakuren can also do darkness, but only single targeting and she's kind of weak right now. Anyway, many MP-recovery trips were made despite the short area. In retrospect, I think you're probably supposed to switch characters when one runs out of MP, since you can just switch your party around anywhere. I'll have to try that. Anyway, soon enough (much faster than the last dungeon), I reach the ominous save point, now with visual aid◊. The switch turns on the teleporter; this is basically what they all look like. I switch Sanae back to support mode and prepare for my inevitable death. We meet Eirin out in the hall rather than in the room we've been seeing in cutscenes. Tensions are high right from the beginning as Eirin knows we're up to no good. Satori goes for the mind read, but unsurprisingly fails again further increasing the tension. Mokou in particular does a lot of angry sprites. Eventually, Eirin... pulls a bow on us! Wait, am I seeing this right? Eirin, actually using her bow. With full animations. Eirin, using her bow in a video game. I think I can die happy now, Eirin is actually being an archer instead of just carrying that thing around. Anyway, Eirin draws her bow and notches an arrow, cuing the party to get into their pre-battle stances. And so the fight begins. Or not. Kaguya takes this moment to pop out of a door and ask Eirin if she has anything to write with, because she need to write down a password. She just beat the level you see. Good job, Kaguya! As you might expect, seeing Kaguya makes Mokou go berserk, which Kaguya counters with a "fancy meeting you here" style response. Kaguya quotes something at Mokou prompting startled annoyance from Mokou and a nervous look from Aya, who incidentally doesn't participate in these scenes very often. Apparently Aya wrote something unflattering about Mokou in her newspaper. When confronted, Aya makes a cute pose and goes "tehe" which doesn't help much. Someone else interjects to get everyone to calm down (I can't remember who, sorry, might be Sanae or Patchouli), but Kaguya quotes something else at her. And the whole scene repeats itself. Eirin shrugs her shoulders at the ruining of the mood but doesn't seem to begrudge it too much. And we finally get another long awaited "shut up, let's just fight them" from Reimu. And they kill us. Eirin◊ and Kaguya◊ are another paired boss, but this time they work together quite well as opposed to just coexisting. Eirin does physical attacks and sometimes all-targeting attacks while Kaguya buffs them both with both attack and defense up and heals. When I noticed this, I decided to Shoot the Medic First and that worked out pretty well until Kaguya got below half. Then she healed both of them for 11000 each. I didn't realize this at the time, but that's 100% of their health according to those stat pages I have screenshots of. That happens at the beginning of the turn and doesn't use up her action. Then Eirin kills me with her buffed attack power. The wiki's walkthrough for this boss has exactly one line: cast charm on Kaguya. Which is, well, interesting. I certainly wouldn't have thought of that. That should make it simple, right? Turn the 2v5 into a 1v6, and finish off Eirin easily. Afterwards, Kaguya should be no problem because despite the super-heal, Sakuya still has her old "Killing World" ability which nullifies all healing. Easy-peasy, right? And I only cheated a little bit! Unfortunately, it doesn't go so well in practice. Kaguya may not be immune to charm, but her resistance is 60, also known as really really high. The only person who can cast charm is Byakuren, who in addition to being a liability for her low level also has a cooldown on all her spells, annoyingly enough. So if I miss a charm I have to spend a turn or two waiting for it to come back. Well, it's not quite that bad because she has another spell that does Control which is better than charm and also works on Kaguya, but it also has a cooldown. And while I'm fiddling with all this Eirin is still killing me, and she's quite good at it. Anyway, I give Byakuren all my induction accessories and switch her in in place of Patchouli. I need a tank for the boss so Youmu is swapped out for Alice, putting my party at Alice, Sakuya, Sanae, Marisa, and Byakuren with Mokou as commander for the reviving. The basic gist of this that I have to just luckily hit Kaguya with one of the first two charms (not that unlikely, with the induction accessories) and use that time to have Byakuren cast Unresist on Kaguya and Induction Up on herself. And then if I have spare time I also have to cast attack down on Eirin to survive and defense down to actually kill her. Because that ends up being a problem. One of Kaguya's spells in the Fire Rat Cloak, which increases defense by an awful lot. While it's great when she casts it on us, when she casts it on Eirin it takes a long time to chip away at her life. Given the constant threat of death, survival buffs always take priority over attack buffs, but as you may have noticed Byakuren has about a billion things to do at any given moment and Sanae isn't much better because of the need to heal (Kaguya can't target my party with her normal heals for some reason). Running out of MP is actually a problem in this fight. My first attempt I managed to kill Eirin but was completely dry at that point and I just couldn't finish Kaguya off. So I have to respec for MP efficiency, something that generally isn't a concern for my boss builds. But that lowers the effectiveness of other aspects of the characters, and I just fail to kill Eirin before all my defense happen to run out at the same time Eirin gets an attack buff and she kills me. It's a delicate balance and it took a number of attempts, but eventually I win. So... we won. Eirin gives some explanation about why she's immune to mind-reading, but I'm pretty sure she's lying given a whispered conversation she has with Kaguya. My guess is that she said something like "It's because we're from the moon" and then "good thing she didn't try it on you Kaguya". They talk for a bit, presumably about where we should head next, when suddenly Eirin raises her bow again! What?! We already fought, didn't we? It was hard! And she shoots. The party flinches, but no one is hit. Until a door in the background falls away revealing a mysterious cloaked figure who runs away. Oh, the intrigue! And then we set out on our merry way. Cut to two mysterious cloaked figures running through a forest and talking to each other. I guess the plot is starting to move. Next stop, Youkai Mountain. Now for some pictures. This◊ is what the dungeon looks like. As you can see, it's just kind of dark. I wanted to get a picture of Youmu running because it looks cooler, but I don't have enough hands. This◊ is a picture of the cut-in portrait for Sanae's Last Word. Also, ninjas, and Satori making a funny pose in the lower right corner. The spell is Yasaka's Divine Wind, which is just fun to say. This◊ is a ninja and a floating hard drive. Guess which is more dangerous? Here's◊ an enemy field sprite, which I should probably come up with a shorter name for, although I can't think of anything right now. Also a room and an open box. This◊ is what happens when I stop paying attention and just auto-attack. Don't rely on your levels, kids! Satori being dead is a common state of affairs. In a panic, I use Sakuya's "Private Square"◊. I had forgotten that Last Spells also have the portraits, I just don't use them much because three bombs is three bombs. It should be noted that this is useless because she's blinded (see the sunglasses on the bottom of the previous screen?) so none of her attacks can hit even though she gets 2 free actions. These◊ are the other enemies of the area. I hate the moon people. On the same note, here's◊ Sanae draining MP from them (she's jumping back to her spot). The spell costs 12, and she gets 13 back. I guess it also takes the enemy's MP but I don't notice. Enemies turn into points when you kill them.◊ Points are experience, power is power, and they can also randomly drop bombs or lives but that's pretty insignificant. Pretty lucky that I got a picture of a 1up here. The game is proud of its shooter heritage.
edited 15th Nov '10 4:49:11 AM by Clarste
Oh, and if it turns out that you hate the narrative and just wanna see the pictures, I'm gonna go cry in the corner.No worries! The pictures alone would be pretty boring, right?
Shoot The Medic First... that's a really confusing way to put it in this particular constellation. Also, is charming Kaguya really the only viable tactic? Because that seems really cruel. Hmm, I hope Satori and Byakuren are better than they sound here. I think if I played this game, my team would look a lot different from yours. In no small part because I'd immediately get to unlocking Byakuren and Mokou.
SHALL INHERIT THE EARTH
Three StepsByakuren's pretty awesome, in theory. She was the key to the last two boss battles despite being low level, remember? Her buffs and debuffs are ridiculously good, to the point where bosses can hardly hurt you if they have attack down while you have defense up, she's the only real source of darkness damage, which many things are vulnerable to, and she has some nice utility like being able to bless other people's weapons with any element you want. The walkthrough has usually suggested her for every single fight up til now. Satori is super-versatile if you have the patience to learn moves with her, I'm just impatient. With enough induction she could also just keep enemy groups blinded or silenced or something since she has all-targeting status ailments. Apparently her induction-buffed poison is pretty decent too.
Also, is charming Kaguya really the only viable tactic? Because that seems really cruel.The way I see it she's not being mind-controlled so much as really bored is open to interesting suggestions. It's not like we're forcing her to kill Eirin or anything, just to buff us instead of her.
edited 15th Nov '10 2:00:32 PM by Clarste
THE MEEKOh right, Byakuren awesome. My attention span failed me there. Also, I didn't mean "cruel" as in forcing her to "kill" her friend, but... cruel on the player.
SHALL INHERIT THE EARTH
Three StepsThe real problem is that Eirin will kill you very quickly when she's buffed. Oh, and that Kaguya will also use her full-heal if Eirin gets below half. My gut tells me that there's probably some way to dispel enemy buffs, but I can't find it on the wiki, which seems odds to me. Note that I got Kaguya to half pretty easily on the first attempt, she doesn't have much defense. If you have a really offensive focused party you could probably burst her down with Private Square and Final Spark or something. If you spec Sakuya into Time Stopping you get an extra extra turn, which can be quite devastating. I'm sure Kaguya also has some sort of type that you could Slay with the right weapon. I just find it really risky to rely on offensive strategies, so I prefer defensive ones. It's also a problem that you can't heal while killing Kaguya and afterwards because of "Killing World" but that's a field effect which means it can be replaced by another field effect. Off the top of my head the most easily accessible field effects are Patchouli's land effects which I haven't mentioned before but basically make the field act as if the land effect for some element is maximized, without actually changing the meters. Patchouli isn't too good at single-target burst damage though. I guess you'd have to replace the tank? My party only had two people attacking because of Alice, Sanae and Byakuren, so I guess an offensive party could easily double my damage output or more. Edit: Come to think of it, actually buying armor might be good start.
edited 15th Nov '10 2:58:22 PM by Clarste
THE MEEKArmor?! Oh, what folly am I imbuing you with! ... It just occurred to me that I've never really played an RPG that really made you think. Fire Emblem and Bahamut Lagoon arbitrarily don't count.
SHALL INHERIT THE EARTH
Three StepsI don't buy armor because the stuff in boxes works fine. Unlike weapons, armor is generic (although divided into heavy, medium, and light) so I don't feel like using my precious resources on it because it doesn't unlock better specialties. I have bought armor once, but then it turned out that only Mokou could equip it. Despite the fundamental genericness, crafted armor is unique to each character. They probably have cool effects too, that I'm completely ignoring. The wiki's armor section is completely blank.
edited 15th Nov '10 3:01:22 PM by Clarste
Three StepsNow that I'm motivated, I'm gonna translate the Japanese wiki and say what everyone's special armor does. The values of the bonuses go up with armor level, so resistances become immunities and percentage bonuses increase. Reimu: Light resistance, extra bombs, extra lives Marisa: Silence resistance, extra bombs Sanae: Death/Removal from battle resistance, extra bombs, extra lives Aya: Stun resistance, extra bombs Sakuya: Consecutive hit chance up, bombs + lives Patchouli: Magic reflect chance (?!), bombs Nitori: Blind resistance, Perfect Dodge chance, Chaser power up Alice: Paralyze resistance, bombs + lives Satori: Confusion resist, Induction up, bombs Youmu: Physical strikeback (?), counter chance, bombs Mokou: Bless damage reduction (?), bombs + lives Byakuren: Petrify resist, magic wall (?), bombs Some of them are pretty boring, but a lot of them seem to be introducing new mechanics entirely. Maybe I should be paying attention to armor... Gonna look at shields next, just in case.
edited 15th Nov '10 3:22:52 PM by Clarste
Three StepsBecause I think about this too much, I'm gonna say that Nitori would have been very very helpful for fighting Kaguya and Eirin, because all of her guns have Magician slayer and Warrior slayer (which are basically the human types). Kaguya is a Magician and Eirin is a Warrior. So that's another option for beating them without charm.
Three StepsStage 11 kind of a filler stage, really As mentioned last time, new weapons appear about every 2 stages nowadays. It's been two stages, so new weapons! I get a new sword for Sakuya, the Nęgling. This new sword has the Dragonslayer property, which is somewhat ironic because it utterly failed to slay a dragon when Beowulf tried it. Dragonslayer isn't nearly as helpful as Godslayer because the powerful demon archetype is still around while dragons don't quite exist, but the sword is just a lot more powerful against everything else. Our next stop is the Youkai Mountain. This is actually the home turf for quite a few members of the party. Both the tengu (Aya) and the kappa (Nitori) make their home here, and Sanae is the miko of the shrine at the top. Somehow that doesn't protect us from the waves of random monsters that attack us though. When I first enter the area, we see a short scene, as always. Byakuren talks, so I guess we officially have her now. I'm guessing the party is here to talk to the gods who live at the top, but that's just guessing. More immediately though, there seem to be some mysterious craters in the ground. I'm pretty sure those haven't been there before. Was there a battle here? What caused this stuff? We must investigate! Oddly enough, this damage is not reflected in the actual dungeon itself. I suppose there are just isolated craters in particular spots that I can't access. While I say this is the Youkai Mountain, we're not actually at the mountain yet. Foothills, at best, but really it's just a forest. It seems entirely possible that it looks exactly like the Forest of Magic, but I haven't actually compared them back to back. It's a completely generic forest, is what I'm saying. There's not really much to connect it visually to the Youkai Mountain. Other than all the youkai running around, of course. The enemy field sprites are... sparkling puffballs. I think. They remind me of those FOE things that are get associated with Touhou through the magic of memes, but on closer inspection they're not because they have no faces or markings of any kind. They're very sparkly though, so I'm going to imagine that they're bishounen puffballs, sparkling in the sun and mysteriously surrounded by fangirls in high school. Although come to think of it they actually are vampiric, so I guess a Twilight joke would have been more appropriate. The enemies are... eclectic, but at least one of these is a vampiric floating head that drains about 2-3 times as much damage as it does with its normal attack. This is actually a pretty common thing that enemies do, and it's really annoying. If they attack a less armored character they can significantly undo damage to themselves. It's not actually dangerous, but it certainly slows things down a lot. Other than that, there's birds, plant monsters, rectangular blocks with arms and legs, Buddhas, the usual stuff. The Buddhas heal the enemy party, and the blocks have a lot of defense, so I guess this is a defensive themed enemy set? Frankly, that's really annoying because it slows things down, but they're not going to kill me unless I just stop paying attention. The dungeon design here is really annoying. There are lots of huge paths that are ultimately dead ends and overall it's pretty mazelike and narrow. Luckily, there aren't many of those hidden paths, but I'm forced to fight more enemies than I'd prefer and it's a bit hard to remember where you've been. And then there's a heal point. That was fast, but there are two weird things about this heal point. First of all there's no accompanying teleporter back to the entrance, and second of all the heal point disappears when I touch it. So a single use heal point. I am paranoid though so the lack of teleporter doesn't make me think it's okay, but rather forces me to walk all the way back through the maze, and then return here. Well, that's one way to commit it to memory. Turns out the heal point respawns when you return to the world map, which is nice because I had to fight some more enemies on the way. So I head past it and unsurprisingly there's a cutscene. The party is walking along what is a presumably a forest path when suddenly enter Momiji the wolf tengu. She suddenly jumps in front of us from nowhere and blocks our path. At least someone's doing their job. The fact that Aya is with us seems to be of no concern to her, so there goes our free pass up the mountain. I'm guessing they're on high alert from whatever caused the aforementioned terrain damage. So as you might expect, she attacks us. Boss fight! Momiji◊ clearly looks all physical with her sword and shield and all that, so I do the standard physical defense buffs and whatnot, waiting to see what she'll do. What she does is... dies. Really really fast. All she did was hit us with normal attacks a few times. Um... what? Is that it? Has this game given up on me? You can't really call that a boss. And indeed it wasn't. Rather than being defeated, she just retreats. And the stage goes on. Momiji, now and forever relegated to midboss status. This explains the strange heal point, but unfortunately it also means more stage. Luckily for me, the second half of the stage is completely different. Now outside of the forest, we're on the pebbly banks of a mountain creek, a la stage 3 of Mountain of Faith. However, the boss of that stage was Nitori, so... *shrug* The rest of the stage goes upstream and takes us back and forth across narrow bridges. Compared to the forest maze, it's child's play. The enemy set is also different, despite hiding within the same bishounen puffballs. While you still fight a few of the same enemies, they are now the support for huge swarms of fairies. Fairies wielding a variety of weapons. Your standard axe fairies, staff fairies, double bladed lightsaber fairies... Reminds me of the old days, back in Remilia's castle. They hit pretty hard though so this much more troublesome than the previous half, especially when they're supported by healing Bhuddas and whatnot. Eventually I find my way to another heal point, this one permanent. No teleporter though. Perhaps having gone temporarily insane, I decide to head forward a bit to see if the teleporter was just off the screen or something. Unsurprisingly, the screen does not scroll when I move forward, but rather I enter a new area. And a cutscene. if you've been keeping track, my record for "beat a boss on the first try" is at 2/10. While that's actually slightly better than I would have thought, I would recommend against betting on those odds. Waiting for us on the edge of the creek is... Cirno?! Can't say I expected that. I have no idea why she's here, and I will continue not having any idea why she's here because I skimmed this scene and there aren't many contextual clues this time. She gets ready to fight us, but enter Momiji, stage left. So now we fight the second most random boss combination we've seen (Remember Remilia and Nitori? Yeah). And they kill us. Well, I had been expecting this ever since I stepped past the heal point in what I must emphasize was a ridiculous lapse of judgement. I knew that was a bad idea half a second after I did it, it just took a while to pay off. So I lose about half the boxes from the creek section plus whatever dropped, and quite a few things dropped. No use crying over spilt milk though. I make my way back to the heal point and discover that there was a bridge of lily pads leading to the East, where there's a switch that opens a semi-shortcut back to the entrance. It's a pretty long shortcut, all things considered, but I guess it's shorter than the other way and I save before trying the boss again. Cirno◊ and Momiji◊ are basically Tewi split into two people. Except a bit easier. And you know what, I won't take back that midboss comment about Momiji. She's a midboss. This whole fight is a midboss, and this whole dungeon was just the prologue for the actual mountain. We're just killing time here. As for how they're actually like Tewi, the combo here is that Momiji just sort of spams an all targeting attack with a very low hit rate and Cirno casts ice spells which do decent damage and have a chance of freezing, which causes you to have no evasion (or negative evasion). So Cirno sets you up to get hit by Momiji. What's slightly different from Tewi are three things: Most obviously, there are two of them so they get twice as many actions per turn. Secondly, Momiji's attack hits, or rather misses, each character 4 times so she's pretty likely to get weak hits off consistently but you'll take massive damage if all 4 hit. This causes there to be much more of a gradient between life and death. Lastly, and most importantly, Cirno's attacks are elemental. There are a ton of ways to deal with elemental attacks if you know when to expect them, and Cirno just does them every turn. As I suppose is to be expected, Cirno is the weak link here. I have two ways to basically nullify her attacks, and I decide to do both of them. As I referred to in a non-blog post, Patchouli has a set of spells that effectively modify the land element for as long as they're up. In this case, I can cast "Hotspot Volcano" to switch it over to fire, which as you might expect isn't very helpful for Cirno's ice. Alice also has a series of spells that lets the party resist/be immune to/absorb an element of your choosing for some amount of turns. So Cirno's damage output becomes a non-issue and while she can still freeze, Momiji's attacks aren't completely devastating on their own, especially with defense up and evasion up buffs from Sanae. Other than an amusing episode in which Alice cast her all targeting cover spell ("Little Legion") and got hit 20 times by Momiji while frozen and died horribly, the battle goes very smoothly. I target Momiji first because Cirno is already nullified, but I don't think that matter too much, really. So Cirno and Momiji are defeated and we proceed. Nothing important happens in this stage.
edited 16th Nov '10 2:33:35 AM by Clarste
Three StepsOh, forgot the pictures. This◊ is Kourindou, the shop. The picture says it all. This◊ is what the forest looks like. I got someone to help me by running while I took the picture, so it looks slightly less like I'm a tourist posing for shots. Most of the time I'm running past stuff. Note how Youmu runs with a hand on her sword. Attention to detail is what counts. Well, I suppose that's not as clear as it is when she's moving. Here◊ are some puffballs cornering me. They don't look very sparkly in the image, but hey, I'm trying to take a picture while being chased by enemies! This◊ is the temporary heal point, which is actually a different color Is guess. This◊ is an image of the... pre-turn thing. Before you start selecting the character's commands it has this thing, which is where you can use commander abilities, run away, auto-battle, or hide the menu so you can take a screenshot of the enemies. The thing in the upper-right is the land meter, although it's empty. These◊ are some enemies, including the vampire head. Which on closer inspection has a bunch of organs hanging down. Ew. While I'm fighting these random battles anyway, I decide to take some pictures of abilities and whatnot. So here◊ is Pathcouli's famous "Silent Selena" (please tell me how that's a darkness spell in any sense), and this◊ is Youmu being awesome. Note that she does it again afterwards for free, and that Kaguya only had 11000 HP. Marisa procs her Last Word◊, but honestly it doesn't do much for random battles, since while it looks cool all it does is lower MP costs. In the second half, it looks like this◊, and the enemies look like these◊. They're actually quite dangerous and kill Patchouli and Sakuya when I go easy on them, but that procs Youmu's Last Word◊ so it's okay. As you may recall, Youmu's last word kills all enemies. Twice, in this case, because every single ability she has can randomly happen twice. Ah, the wonders of paired katanas. For my trouble, they drop an obsidian◊, yay! Although looking at the kanji I'm not sure it's actually obsidian. Maybe I should stick with something something rock.
edited 16th Nov '10 2:57:50 AM by Clarste
THE MEEK1. Cirno! More powerful than Yuuka, too. Oh RPGs. How you make me smile. 2. Youmu looks really badass in that Last Word portrait of hers.
SHALL INHERIT THE EARTH
The flying vampire head is probably a penanggalan.
Three StepsYeah, that's what the katakana says. I don't really look at the names much, but I was vaguely aware that there was something like that somewhere in the world.
Three StepsStage 12 faith is for the transient gods We pick up right where we left off, having defeated Cirno and Momiji by the shores of... what's apparently a large body of water. I could have sworn it was just a narrow creek last screen. I'm not exactly familiar with mountain topography and fluid dynamics, but I'll just assume that this makes sense. We cross over the lake-thing on a maze of lily pads, which conveniently enough form a complete if scattered path rather than just drifting around randomly. They also take us to various small outcroppings with treasure boxes on them! Unfortunately the lily pads are also infested with sparkling puffballs, in what's the first reuse of enemy field sprites ever. I feel ripped off, but I suppose the previous stage didn't really count as a stage, when you think about it. The enemies are a combination of enemies from the previous stage and some new guys. Notable newcomers include yetis that I'm afraid of without remembering why, armored Lady of War types armed with naginatas, and Veteran Powers. The yetis are vulnerable to fire and because I target them first out of a primal fear they never really get a chance to prove themselves a threat. The armored warriors are strong against everything and fairly powerful with their normal attacks, but they turn out to be dragons, which makes me glad that Sakuya has her new Dragonslayer. The Powers are angels, and part of that "big strong single enemy" archetype, which makes me unglad that Sakuya has her new Dragonslayer. They're vulnerable to Darkness, but Moon Sign "Silent Selene" can only take you so far. So they're basically minibosses, and the first one I encounter actually kills me. Oh, and there are also crow tengus, who fight like Aya (fast, weak attacks with chance of stun) but because they fight like Aya they're a non-issue. After wiping several times in this small lily pad area, which makes it feel bigger than it is, I get back to shore and continue onwards. There's actually a mid-dungeon cutscene here, where we encounter more mysterious craters on a path that suspiciously resembles the previous time we encountered craters. Eh, there's only so much crater budget. This time though, we see someone lying face down inside one of the craters. It's Chen! Chen is Yukari's familiar's familiar, as well as your standard catgirl. In case you forgot who Yukari is, she's the Trickster Mentor who sent us on this quest way back in the first post, and hasn't been seen since. I suppose Chen's presence here implies that Yukari's doing her own thing while we're questing. Or maybe not: cats are known for wandering around without their master knowing. Chen certainly won't answer the question because she's unconscious in a crater. The party comments on this, and then moves on. Without even making a move towards helping her. Poor Chen. The second half of this dungeon is the actual mountain part of the Youkai Mountain. So, goodbye trees, goodbye water, hello rocks. And little rock stairs for some reason. This section is characterized by steadily climbing upwards, as you might expect. There are also a ridiculous amount of enemies and its getting kind of annoying. I run past many more than I usually do. The enemies here are the new enemies from the previous section plus some more new things. Notable enemies include wheels of fire that can stun my entire party, but rarely do, and "giants" that get two actions per turn, one of which will kill Patchouli, guaranteed. They seem to ignore taunting and party formation for their attacks. I say "giants" because it's really just a guy sitting on another guy's shoulders. They look pretty inhuman though. This place is notable for causing me to run out of Lives for the first time ever. I was quite confused when I started a battle with a four party formation, minus Patchouli, but after running away I figured it out and switched Alice in. Approaching the top of the mountain, there's quite a scenic◊ view that's unlike anything I've seen with this graphics engine. There's also another long shortcut back to the beginning of the previous stage, which I question the value of given how close I am to the end, but I'm not gonna turn down a chance to heal and save. A screen or two later, I approach the ominous heal point and the first teleporter of the area which is a direct line back to the entrance of the forest. See? Stage 11 didn't count. I get into my boss set-up and move forward, triggering the cutscene. As predicted, we're at the shrine on the top of the mountain, watching Kanako and Suwako. These are Sanae's patron deities, and the source of her snake and frog theme as well as her dual elements of sky and earth. They seem to be somewhat relaxed, but also filled with anticipation, like experienced performers getting ready for a show. Shortly before the party arrives, they step down to the entrance of the shrine and get ready to greet their guests. Putting on a show seems to have been correct, because while they're clearly trying to project an air of authority and, you know, godliness, that breaks down quite quickly. The party seems to ask them a question they don't know the answer to, prompting panicked whispering between them as they necessarily begin to deviate from the script. Suwako goes into "hey hey, this isn't what you said would happen!" mode while Kanako falls into "it's okay, we can deal with this, we just gotta improvise." So... uh... we cannot answer that yet! Because... um... you're not worthy! We must test you! Suwako starts hitting Kanako in an exaggerated anime "baka baka baka" way. But it's been said, and so it must be done. Enter battle stance, time to fight them for no particular reason! And they kill us. I don't even remember how they kill us. As we'll see, that isn't really important because this is a bizarre fight. I notice a few things from my fairly quick death though. First of all, Kanako's◊ sprite is really huge compared to Suwako's◊, and because Suwako is sitting behind Kanako it kinda looks like she's sitting on one of those poles. The first thing I do is confirm that they are indeed separate enemies. Second of all, and as you probably can't glean from those enemy status pages, Kanako has a ridiculous amount of defense and is strong against physical attacks while Suwako has fairly low defense and is acutally weak against physical attacks (but is strong against magic). I didn't realize this at the time, but apparently she also has less HP. As my heavy hitters are Sakuya and Youmu, this makes killing Suwako first an obvious thing to do. Lastly, and most importantly, these goddesses are, well, gods. And you know what they say about gods, and the slaying thereof? I'd hope that this liveblog has made the correct choice here ridiculously obvious, but I have this sword in my inventory which specializes in killing gods. So that's a thought. Still unclear as to what I'm going to do defensively or against Kanako, I decide that blitzing down Suwako can't hurt and set up to do that. At the end of Sakuya's 2H sword tree, she gets an ability that hits three times and has no cooldown. It's basically her reliable special attack. Each hit does normal attack damage, but can crit. So on the first turn, after buffing attack power with Sanae, Sakuya hits Suwako for 8000 damage. 8000. It hits twice for 2000 and then crit for 4000. That's more than half her life. That's what happens when you're weak against slashing, weak against godslaying and Sakuya has an attack buff. On the second turn, Youmu is now in her Asura stance and unleashes her spellcard which is both her strongest attack in this stance and all targeting, because why not hit Kanako if I can? It only does about 1500 to Suwako, which is still a lot, but Kanako dies. Instantly. Not from damage, but from death. Which as you may recall is a property of Youmu's katanas. And I tend to keep my induction accessories on her for random battles. So, Kanako is vulnerable to instant death. Huh. I suppose Kaguya set a precedent for status ailment bosses, but I think this is just a bit absurd. Suwako, perhaps sensing her imminent doom, manages to kill Sakuya before she gets another action, but that just delays the inevitable. After repeatedly reviving Sakuya and having her die again, Youmu manages to finish Suwako off, and thus we end the easiest boss fight ever. Who would have thought that gods were especially mortal compared to everything else? I can't really say I'm satisfied with this. I hope they cut down on these strange gimmick bosses. So the goddesses, now a bit ashamed, are forced to admit that they can't really help us per se, but they tell us where to go next. Which is about what I'd expect at this point. It's really just a excuse to go run around beating up people we know, but in the end isn't that what counts in a fan game? No complaints. Sadly, that era will shortly come to an end, as the next goal actually helps us deal with the mist, astonishingly enough. Remember the mist? Cause I've kind of forgotten by now. Anyway, next stop, Heaven. Now for some pictures. This◊ is what the lily pad bridge looks like, and these◊ are what you fight there. The person in the back is a dragon. Also, tengu◊ with a bonus of Sakuya right in the middle of her slash animation. This◊ is a veteran Power, and I hate them. The little starry face thing on the right of its selection data is the "god" symbol for some reason. Or I guess more accurately it's "divine" or something. You can also see its health bar, so the enemy's percentage of health is never mysterious, even on bosses. Checking the enemy list, it seems we've also fought Virtues and Principalities and such, so I guess this game likes its mythology. Reminds me of Shin Megami Tensei. This◊ is the edge of the lake right before it transitions into mountains◊. I already linked this◊ picture earlier, but I'd like to point out the running theme of me getting attacked by monsters while taking pictures. There's only a split second before the battle transition starts, and I was pretty relieved when the picture came out okay. These◊ are the giants that kill Patchouli. Patchouli actually procced her Last Word in nearly every battle, but she always dies before she gets her next turn, so no picture. I guess history repeats itself. This◊ is a picture of the land gauge leaning towards water, in case you were curious for some reason. For some reason I've never thought of reentering the boss room until now, so here's◊ a previously unheard of picture of me talking to Suwako. My translation of the text is "something is happening, isn't it? But, only when it's impossible should you something. Sanae." Yeah, I suck at kanji. As you may note, I can read everything except the important parts that provide context. Now you know exactly how many tons of salt you should take my interpretations of the cutscenes with. For the record, I would in the liveblog translate this as "You're here for help, right? But you shouldn't come see us unless you really need it. Sanae." So that's the Ass Pull ratio. Curious, I revisit Eientei and talk to Kaguya◊. She teases Mokou for a while and uses that as an excuse to give us a formation. A four person formation. I have no idea why you would ever be in a four person formation at this point in the game, but maybe the bonuses are really powerful? You still lose out on experience though.
edited 16th Nov '10 5:30:21 PM by Clarste
O.o And here I though that Yu-Gi-Oh! had a loose definition of 'dragon'.
Three StepsHey, this is Gensokyo. All monsters are humanoid girls. Utsuho counts as bird and Iku counts as a fish. I'm sure Wriggle would count as a bug too. Yuyuko is undead, Medicine is a construct, etc. There's nothing weird about a dragon girl.
Wait, which person in back? The yeti or the naginata lady?
Three StepsThe naginata lady. The yeti is a yeti. Anyway, isn't the yeti in the front? Gameplay-wise, that'd be the front row. Edit: The yeti is classified as a beast, btw. So's the dog, which I suppose is actually a tanuki. An elite tanuki.
edited 16th Nov '10 7:25:45 PM by Clarste
Oh, that makes sense, then.
Three StepsStage 13 the other other afterlife That's two stages, so new weapons, right? I guess not. It's not really that important, but I really have no idea what the pattern is, if any. So I just check after every stage, just in case. Feeling like I have a surplus of materials nowadays since I'm so frugal with them, I just sort of go all out and buy weapons for Patchouli and Nitori. I also switch Nitori into my party, just because. And the next area is lightning themed and Nitori is one of 3 characters who can do earth attacks. There's actually a gap in my memory here. I know I switched Nitori in, but I have no idea who I switched out. My standard party has recently been Youmu, Sakuya, Sanae, Marisa, and Patchouli. Sanae and Patchouli can both do earth attacks, Youmu is my acting tank, and Sakuya and Marisa are mainstays who have cheap and powerful attacks. so I can't really imagine myself having a party without either of them. So... where does Nitori fit in? I have no idea. Does Sakuya take over as tank instead of Youmu? Do I drop Marisa for the lack of earth attacks? It's probably one of those two, and I dropped Marisa for the screenshots I took, but maybe it was Youmu... Anyway, Nitori, now with gun. Last time I said the next stop was Heaven, and it is, but how exactly does one get to heaven? Hell was a big hole in the ground, but it's not like there's an sky elevator or anything. The short answer is that you go to this cloud looking things on the map◊. I circled it in yellow using my awesome MS Paint powers. The red circle is the Youkai Mountain, and since they're so close I think maybe it's supposed to be implied that you're hopping onto the clouds from the top of the mountain. However we get there, the next dungeon is
edited 17th Nov '10 12:33:35 AM by Clarste
Three StepsFirst of all, wow, we're already here. This is actually the last stage I've done, so while I've been talking from memory and with plenty of foreshadowing up until now, in the future the posts will be written shortly after finishing the stages. And the screenshots will be taken during the playthroughs. Expect at least one screenshot of my party dead, and expect my party to die because I'm taking screenshots. Also, because this is the latest stage, running through to get screenshots was actually quite dangerous and I'm surprised I didn't die doing so. It also counted as grinding levels, sort of, which annoys me a bit. Obviously, I won't be able to write these as fast if I actually have to play the stages in between them. Stage 14 the expansion pack of stage 13 Stage 14 is not more of the same. It is the same. While the stage is now technically in Heaven as opposed to the Sea of Clouds, and it's got some slightly different architecture as there are now stone bridges built onto the clouds, there's a particular quirk in place here. Remember that item box I couldn't reach? Stage 14 requires me to go back through stage 13 over and over again, and basically turns the switch/wall puzzle Up to Eleven. There are only about three new rooms, but the dungeon is easily twice as long. This is fractal dungeon design. I'm about equal parts impressed and annoyed. Hearkening back my early posts in this thread, I'm gonna start this with a narrative rather than just a summary of the place. I had just beaten a rather simple if fun boss, and decided to switch back to my standard party after being underwhelmed by Nitori's earth damage. So after saving I head past the boss room into the next stage. Looks pretty much the same so far, and soon enough I find another giant foot. Oh, I guess we're still in sprite recycling mode. So I fight it. And I can't win. It doesn't kill me instantly, and I manage to run away with most of my party dead, but upon trying again I still can't win. And I try again. And again. Usually I manage to run away, but sometimes I die and have to run back up to here. The enemy is blocking the path. I'm like 10 steps into this stage, and there's a random encounter that I just cannot get past, even going all out. I run out of MP trying this one fight over and over again. Luckily the previous boss room is right there, and before that there is the no-longer-ominous heal point. The enemies are 2 thunderbirds, a slime, and an elite Mind Flayer. The thunderbirds wear me down with lightning breath as previously described, the slime is strong against most attacks and can regenerate and drain health, but the real problem is the Mind Flayer. Now, I've fought Mind Flayers before, way back in stage 5. If you don't remember, they spam Mind Blast for all targeting damage plus paralysis, and then they randomly kill you with their normal attacks. But... I've dealt with them before, these guys just have stats scaled up to my level, right? And since then I've figured out how status ailments work and can protect myself against them with Sanae, right? Unfortunately they go before Sanae. So it paralyzes half my party on the first turn while the others tear me apart. Rinse and repeat. I'm getting nowhere, and this is frustrating. Thunderbirds! Mind flayers! Gah! While I'm not really at risk of losing anything, this isn't exactly the best way to start a stage. As with most of my problems, this all comes down to reading Japanese. As you may recall, in stage 8, the sunflower field, I had a lot of problems with status ailments until I started using Sanae to cast resist up. However, by stage 10, the second half of Eientei, the moon girls were able to cast Time Stop on me before she could get an action. While I dealt with that then, I'm now encountering the same problem in a more critical situation. So what changed between stages 8 and 10? I'll give you a minute in case you want to guess. ... The correct answer is that I respecced Sanae out of support and into attacking, because I was forced to split my party up. Because of realizing how awesome that was I kept her in attack-mode for future random battles, even adding her to my standard random battle party in place of Alice, who I also realized wasn't necessary in random battles. So Sanae, despite being in my battle party, is no longer specced into support. Wait... specced? Support? That's right, Sanae's Wind Priestess specialty increases the cast speed of her buffs in addition to their power and duration. That's why she's slower than the enemies now, and that's why I'm dying. This plot twist took half the game to set up. This is a Greek tragedy in motion: the hubris that ended up bringing my own downfall. This is the life story of Sanae in my party, and combines the specialty system, the status ailment system, and every last ounce of my understanding of the game. This was the final test, and I felt simultaneously idiotic and brilliant when I figured this out. I'm guessing this is somewhat hard for you guys to care about, but this was a really emotional moment for me. So I shifted a few points that were lying around into Wind Priestess and won. Kind of anticlimactic, but there you go. I had beaten the system. I was on top of the world. These enemies were nothing before my new might. And then the next guys killed me. Not content to merely inflict status ailment doom on me, the next group combined Mind Flayers with Shisa, who cast defensive buffs on their allies. They use the two-pronged method of casting spell reflect and defense up, causing Marisa and Patchouli to kill themselves while the Mind Flayers now take less damage from my remaining three party members and are free to flay/eat brains at their leisure. I manage to beat them the next try, but you know what? I don't like this place. Noting that it's entirely plausible for my magicians to be rendered useless in battle, I boldly switch to an all-physical party consisting of Youmu, Sakuya, Sanae, Aya and Nitori who I use for the rest of this dungeon. This works quite well except for stupid draining slimes that are strong against physical attacks and regenerate. The only things I can hit those guys with are Sakuya's resist piercing normal attacks, Nitori's fire spell (which has a cooldown), and Youmu's random chance of instant death. Eh, it works. Of course, I haven't even gotten to the puzzle yet. That was just the first two enemies. The crux of it is that there's this one switch that I need to hit to open a path forward. However, by hitting it I block off my path to that path. So I have to take another route back to stage 13, where a new connection between the two stages is opened up. Except... in the process of solving the stage 13 puzzle I blocked off this new path backwards. So I have to undo the switch that opens the way forward, go back through Iku's room and work through the stage 13 puzzle backwards until I can open that door, then do stage 13's puzzle again so i can get to Iku's room, so I can advance forward and close off my path so I can run all the way around through stage 13 again and advance forward, yay! On the way out, I hit a switch that doesn't seem to do anything and then a mid-dungeon cutscene happens. Tenshi, the spoiled celestial, is watching our progress through a reflection in a pond. For some reason she sees Reimu despite the fact that our field sprite has been Youmu for quite a while. That was actually the most startling part of the scene, because I haven't seen Reimu running for a while. Tenshi is excited, because she's Tenshi. That's about it. Returning to the dungeon, I take a sharp right, pick up an item, and die. There's a new enemy here, the Slyph which is this weird R-Type looking elemental that has a ridiculous evasion rate, a lot of health, and regenerates by casting some field spell at the beginning of battle. Oh, and it also hurts, a lot. Remember that my party is all physical fighters now, so I can't actually hit it. I run away, but I'm cornered so I just take the death. No big loss, I just saved before coming here. Except I hit that switch in the previous room. Which is basically the "undo everything you've accomplished here" switch that closes a particular gate, effecting resetting the puzzle. I don't even know why this switch exists, it's just cruel. I would strongly recommend never hitting this◊ switch. Ever. So, I'm back to square one, but at least I know how to do it, right? Annoying as it was at the time, I can now sum it up in a single sentence: I did it again. In case you're counting, I've cleared stage 13 about 5 times by now. Enemies were respawning by the time I finished. At least I'm used to these enemies by now, right? Too bad the next room, where I died, has a slightly different enemy set. There are the aforementioned Sylphs, as well as some dinosaurs. Luckily Dinosaurs Are Dragons, and Sakuya still has her Dragonslayer. Upon investigation, Aya has an ability that makes your party have a 100% hit rate, so all is well. It's tough, but I can deal with these new enemies. And apparently that was the last room. All of stage 14 is stage 13, over and over again. Ominous heal point, etc. Tenshi fights us. Because she wants to fight us. No more needs to be said. She kills us, of course. Tenshi◊ is like the sequel to Iku. She starts with a powerful attack that she does every few turns, she almost exclusively uses a single element, and she regenerates far too much if you let her. Of course there are some new problems. The first problem is easily solved: I'm equipped for a lightning dungeon and Tenshi uses earth attacks. As mentioned, accessories that protect against one element often make you weak against the opposite. So I started the battle weak against earth, which is not recommended. Second of all, her powerful attack simply does damage in this case, instead of instant death. For my purposes, that's a bad thing. It does enough damage to instantly kill weaker party members (like Marisa and Patchouli) and that damage affects even those who survive, forcing Sanae to play catch-up on healing. Lastly, she seems to be onto my MO. For both Cirno and Iku, the key lay in Patchouli's elemental field spells. So the obvious thing to do against Tenshi would be to cast "Heaven Crack" and weaken earth while buffing lightning. Except... she countered it. When I cast the field spell, on her next turn she immediately overwrote it with her own field spell, which lasts a dozen turns and seems to buff earth spells. That didn't go so well. She never casts that spell otherwise, so I'm pretty sure it's just a response to my strategy. Clever girl. So I have to do this the old fashioned way and rely on the land meter itself. Luckily lightning is twice as easy to spam because Marisa has it, unluckily Marisa is another Squishy Wizard, so when rocks fall everyone dies. I can almost completely nullify earth damage by spamming Alice's elemental guard spell, but I can't quite predict when it will happen and if she doesn't do it it'll be a waste of Alice's turn because she also needs to cover people from Tenshi's rather powerful physical attacks. This isn't exactly hard but I end up bouncing around with people dying because Alice is doing the wrong thing on that turn. Reviving is somewhat cheap now though, and the battle of attrition pays off. This battle is mostly memorable for how similar yet different it is from the previous one. Also, it turns out that Tenshi counts as a god too, so I could have used that edge, but I guess I didn't need to. Tenshi being defeated, she... laughs triumphantly. Great, great, that was awesome Reimu, let's do it again sometime soon. So uh, Tenshi, what was the point of this again? "Oh, it's ____" Cue Flat "What." from the party. "What? You didn't hear me, it's ____. You know, _____. Oh, I get it, I have to do the pose." Tenshi spins around, sparkles, and repeats that it's ____. While I'm sure this scene is hilarious, what will always stick out in my mind is that I have no idea what _____ is. The kanji is black something. And there are a whole lot of black somethings in the dictionary, assuming it's even in the dictionary. Curse me and my limited mental capacity for memorizing kanji! Curse me and my inability to reliably count strokes! If only I could copy-paste it, which is my method of choice. Anyway, following the hilarious _____ scene, it's revealed that Tenshi can clearly see the source of the mist from up here, because you can just see it pouring out of that thing in the Forest of Magic. You know, just look down. I guessing that we expected such a result, and that's why we came up here in the first place, but who knows? The ways of the wild goose chase are mysterious indeed. So now we know where the mist is, and we only had to beat up 24 innocent bystanders to figure this out. Not bad. After the fade out, we cut to a mysterious villain room. And what do you know, Original Characters! Unfortunately I'm not too good at describing people, and I can't just link the Touhou wiki like always. There's a girl in a wide hat sitting on a floating cushion and smoking a long pipe. You know, one of those thin ones. One of those mysterious cloaked figures from before enters the room, stand next to her and throws off her cloak, revealing a Snake Person. They talk to each other for a while, doing the classic name exposition in conversation. It seems both have names in katakana, and I'm to understand that they're Greek. Is this an invasion? I dunno. They summon their servants, and we're introduced to a Quirky Miniboss Squad. There are three maids, a giant bipedal turtle, and some sort of large person that I can't remember any details of. Hopefully I'll be able to take screenshots of all these people eventually. After receiving their orders, they all teleport out, except the turtle who has to walk. Reminds me of a similar scene in Wild ARMs, but that's just me. Just as WMG fuel, the turtle's name is Genji. And that's that. Now I actually have to start playing again, but reviewing everything I've done has led to me understanding things a bit better. I think I'll buy armor next. Screenshots next post because this one feels too long.
edited 17th Nov '10 4:58:19 AM by Clarste
Three StepsThis◊ is the entrance to the stage. It looks kinda the same as the last stage, but you can see this golden path on the clouds. Eventually it turns into this◊. That's the magic gate that I spent so much time on, by the way. This◊ is the final room, with a funny post thing. This◊ is the group that I couldn't beat. Actually, I said it was a slime up in the post and this one has a ghost, but that's not the important part. Also pants wetting are these◊ and especially this◊. There are also some unimportant guys like Fuujin and Raijin here.◊ The Dragonslayer◊ is pretty awesome sometimes, and I actually get decent experience◊ in this place. You don't want to meet these◊ guys in a dark alley and frankly I'm surprised I didn't die there. I just got lucky, really. Note everyone's health after one turn. I got a picture of Aya's Last Word.◊ She looks quite happy there, but thank goodness for her Magic Skirt. I think there's a meme about the fact that Aya isn't allowed to have panty shots, or something like that. I notice she has wings in that picture, but not in battle. I wonder what's up with that. Here's◊ Tenshi in her natural habitat, lounging in luxury. I love how simple Tenshi's dialog is compared to everyone else. Except for ____, of course.
edited 17th Nov '10 4:36:01 AM by Clarste
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