Let's Play a random Touhou RPG:

Total posts: [103]
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"Sappheiros" is Greek for sapphire, so Greek is a good bet for the OCs.
52 Fawriel17th Nov 2010 10:33:18 AM from the bottom of my heart , Relationship Status: If it's you, it's okay
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Aww, it's sad to hear that updates will be more sporadic now. I'm really enjoying this LP!
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53 Clarste17th Nov 2010 08:17:15 PM , Relationship Status: Non-Canon
One Winged Egret
Well, that was fast. The next stage is cleared and I got about 4 times as many pictures as I usually do, which is not unexpected because of cutscenes, bossfights, etc. However, they are not exactly of equal quality, so maybe I shouldn't just post them all willy-nilly. I think I'll insert the cutscene pictures into the write-up and keep the field/battle pictures for the end like usual. For now, I'll give you the unrelated-to-anything pictures as a preview.

First of all, three new Last Words: Nitori, Byakuren, and Satori. I hadn't actually seen Satori's until just then. I'm rather partial to Byakuren, of these three. To me, it looks like she's listening to music. I suppose this spoils what characters I'll use. Oh, and I also confirmed that Sakuya's Last Word has the same portrait as her Last Spell, so I guess I could get these on demand if I really wanted to.

For out-of-dungeon stuff, here is Akyuu giving me recipes, here's me buying some armor, and here is Reimu thinking up a new formation. When you go back to her shrine's heal point this happens sometimes, based on your progress through the game or your level or something.

I actually paid much more attention to the cutscenes this time, knowing that I'd have to relay them, so forgive me if it ends up being ridiculously long.

edited 17th Nov '10 8:18:47 PM by Clarste

Say, do you know who made this? The portraits really look like Azuma Aya's art.
55 Clarste17th Nov 2010 08:53:42 PM , Relationship Status: Non-Canon
One Winged Egret
Here's the staff page. Illustrations are credited to Okawa Hari, but maybe that's the sprites.

No wait, dot art is someone else.

edited 17th Nov '10 8:56:23 PM by Clarste

56 Clarste17th Nov 2010 10:19:39 PM , Relationship Status: Non-Canon
One Winged Egret
As I discovered in this thread, each character's unique armor has some special properties idiosyncratic to them. Youmu's gives her an increased counterattack rate (which apparently only works when entering a stance) as well as a "strikeback" chance which allows her to randomly deflect physical attacks and counter. Given that I use her as my random battle tank, having her counter a lot seems useful, so I buy her armor. I want to buy Satori's armor too, for the bonus induction, but I don't have the mats for it; I'll get them in the next dungeon.

Stage 15 something old and something new

So the party enters the Forest of Magic, again. This is a different area with a different entrance on the map, but it has the same name. Marisa notes how good it is to home aga— wait what the hell is this?! Alice thinks it's as if the plants are radiating life energy. Sanae wonders if this is the work of the black somethings that Tenshi was talking about, and I fail to get a screenshot of that textbox because apparently "print screen" doubles as "advance forward in the cutscene", much to my annoyance. So if there's a key line with no screenshot, that's why. They mention the black somethings about three times in this dungeon, but I miss it each time.

Nitori wonders why we're here and Marisa explains to her the whole "look down from heaven" thing that I mentioned last time. Was it not made explicit before? Patchouli attempts to look up "identifying mysterious lights in the Forest of Magic" in her book, but as you might expect that doesn't go anywhere. Anyway, Reimu thinks speculating about any of this is pointless, and that the only thing to do is move forward. I miss her dialog box, but here's Reimu in her action pose.

The forest is pretty straightforward. Unlike previous forests, there are no hidden paths and there aren't really that many split ups either. What it does have is a bunch of large green pipes, as you may have noticed during the cutscene. These are Mario pipes that can be entered to go to different areas. They even make the classic sound. I'm not sure why they decided to add these to this dungeon, but whatever. The pipes lead to an underground area that composes the other half of the dungeon. The first pipe though just leads to a gated off area, clearly a shortcut back to the entrance.

The enemy field sprites are the same mushrooms from the original Forest of Magic, but the enemies are completely different. The basic enemies here are all nymphs of various kinds, which I suppose favors the "Greek" theory. Oreiades, Dryades, Alseides, the whole shebang. Well, not the whole shebang, maybe they're saving some for later. Backing them up are Spartoi and Harpies, so yeah, very Greek. The nymphs are weak against darkness while the Spartoi are strong against physical but weak against earth, which I can't exactly do.

I know this because I have Satori in my party, and she can scan. My party is now Youmu, Sakuya, Sanae, Marisa, and Satori. I felt sort of guilty for not using her, so I switched her in and loaded her with Induction to see how it works out. Her poison, which is both cheap and all targeting, ticks for exactly 300, which isn't bad at all. Sakuya only hits for 400-500 base, so being able hit every enemy multiple times for 300 is actually pretty awesome. Too bad it overwrites Sanae's paralysis, because you can only have one "permanent" status ailment at a time.

This doesn't last long though, because Satori very quickly runs of out Lives, on account of dying in every single battle. She is the squishiest wizard yet, although a lot of that is just due to her level. Before she goes though she manages to learn Plasma Ball, which is her first actual attack spell. Too bad it's really weak. I replace her with Byakuren, who I decide to treat as a simple nuker for her dark damage, instead of messing with buffs or induction. She's actually surprisingly potent when given a good staff.

Shortly afterwards, I find the first real pipe that actually leads somewhere underground. I hit a switch that seems to open two gates, but when I pass through one of them it closes behind me. Trapping me. I don't like being trapped, it's quite nerve wracking to not be able to retreat.

Underground, there's a different enemy set. Instead of nymphs, we fight giant bugs and lizardmen. The scorpions are notable for their massive poison damage (240) but scarier are the antlions, which both remove a character from battle or blind the party. Blind doesn't actually lower your hit rate, but is more like silence for physical attacks. You can't even try. Anyway, Sanae is back on resistance buff duty for these guys.

I shortly find another pipe up, but I have no idea where I am and it takes 3-4 rooms of frantic exploring to get back to familiar ground. In the meantime, I encounter another big angel enemy, but I can actually use darkness now that I have Byakuren! So it's surprisingly not a problem. I decide to play it safe and run all the way back home to save.

Having gotten some materials in the dungeon, I'm able to make Satori her armor, which both lets her live and gives her 20 more induction. This translate into 380 poison damage, which I have to say is great. It's kind of funny though, Satori still dies more often than not, but at least she doesn't need to be alive to do damage with poison.

Anyway, it seems I've explored most of this area when I ran back, so all that's left is a minor puzzle involving another auto-closing gate. It seems the gates are connected so when one closes the other does as well, but the basic point of this is just to make you take the long way around. Effectively, the gates that close are never necessary to go through at all, and they're best treated as walls that look like doors. Along the way I encounter an Elder Basilisk, but being a dragon it goes down fast.

Mid-dungeon cutscene! The party stumbles upon a section of the forest that seems to be petrified. I... have no idea how to integrate this into the prose, but this prompts an "Ayaya?!" which for some reason I though was worth preserving. Reimu sees something else up ahead and runs forward, and when the party follows we find this. That's Ran, Yukari's direct familiar and quite a powerful being in her own right. Youmu briefly considers that it might be just a statue, but no, she can feel that its a living being. So we're dealing with someone who can petrify people. Medusa? Aya takes notes, but Reimu continues her "we'll deal with it when we get there" policy and we move on.

The second half of this stage adds some new enemies, that appear both above and below ground. First of all are the Beholders, yet another D&D property, that are really weak against physical attacks and interrupt magic spellcasting. Um... when I say it like that it sounds like they're useless because all they do is encourage you to use the abilities that they're weak against, but they're quite annoying in combos. The other new enemies are the unicorns, which are immune to all magic and do powerful physical attacks.

Anyway, as you might imagine this section is pretty annoying for magicians, so I switch out Marisa for Nitori. The unicorns are also vulnerable to fire despite being immune to magic, so it's win-win. It does make Spartois significantly more annoying to deal with though.

Shortly after I enter this new area I find a Ribbon. Normally I don't note items, but this is blatantly a Final Fantasy reference, given that it's a super-accessory that increases all elemental and status resistances. I give this to Sanae the next time I save my items, which is pretty soon because the next room opens up a shortcut back to the entrance.

There's a very strange puzzle here. Basically there are three different pipes that connect the surface and the underground, and while you can reach any of the pipes easily on the surface, the underground is separated by gates that open and close. What's weird is that the gates all simultaneously change positions every time you take a pipe from the surface to the underground, but only when you use a different pipe then the last time it happened (so you can't just go up and down the same pipe). It's pretty simple and really short, but for a while I thought I was just stuck cause I couldn't even leave. I was ready to call the game buggy for trapping me like that.

It's at this point that an Elder Basilisk kills me. I mean, slaughters me. The first time I fought one it didn't seem to do much, but apparently they spam an attack that does significant damage plus instant death. So yeah, another status ailment enemy, but it caught me off guard and instantly killed me. So watch out for that. There's not really much left to the stage, and shortly I find myself at the ominous heal point and teleporter. Switching back to my boss party, I enter and cutscene.

The party walks forward and encounters a purple pipe next to a sign. Reimu walks up and reads the sign, which says something like "This is not suspicious, definitely ignore it, please". This apparently gets Aya's reporter blood boiling with excitement, but Byakuren doesn't seem to understand and points out that the sign does in fact politely ask us to definitely ignore it. And it seems Aya is the only curious person in the party, so we decide to ignore it and walk past.

This angers the person hiding in the pipe, who turns out to be the turtle from last time. What's up with kids these days, aren't you the slightest bit curious?! When a normal person sees a sign like that they just have to know what's in the pipe! The turtle announces that he's finally returned to get his revenge on Reimu, but...

Uh... who is this guy? Reimu has no idea who he is, but Marisa gets the feeling that he's somehow familiar. "Oh yeah! Didn't you use to, like, drive a turtle or something, Reimu?" "Now that you mention it..." The turtle internally takes offense at being considered a vehicle instead of a faithful steed, but chooses not to say anything yet.

So, what happened to that flying turtle anyway, Reimu? Well, you see, that turtle was an item for flying. And now, I. Can. Fly. So I threw it away. Isn't that the obvious thing to do?

The turtle (what was his name again?) is enraged by this whole conversation and start ranting, but Reimu rants back and ultimately kicks him. He bounces back and forth between the pipe and the wall, another Mario reference, and Reimu suggests we forget this ever happened and move on.

That doesn't happen, because the turtle recovers and claims to have gotten powers from his new master. Byakuren tries to interrogate him about his new master, but he doesn't give more details other than a name (Biotopos) and rants about how he can finally get his revenge with his awesome new powers, which Reimu is very skeptical of. Long story short, we fight him. That's a battle stance picture, and it happens every boss. Oh, and his name is Genjii.

Genjii is a flying turtle. That's the long and short of it. I beat him on the first try, so don't expect any detailed analysis or planning. What I do know is that he has a ridiculous amount of defense, both physical and magical, and that he counters Master Spark by casting reflect on himself. So this battle takes a long time and Marisa is spending it twiddling her thumbs. The only thing I can do that does significant damage is Youmu's spellcard, but that can only be done every 3 turns.

Offensively, he seems to mostly do single targeting attacks, although he has one all-targeting attack that he stopped doing partway through the battle for whatever reason. One of his attacks is darkness and raises the land gauge. Since I have no light to balance it out with, by about half way through darkness was maxed out and he could kill anyone in one hit with it, including Alice. Undaunted, I just kept reviving. If he can only kill one person at a time, that's not really a problem.

Other than that, he has three utility spells, only one of which I understand. First of all, he can dispel all buffs from everyone, including himself. I assume it clears debuffs too, but I didn't have any in this party. Most annoyingly, this also clears Youmu's stance, but luckily he doesn't do it too often. Secondly, he does this thing where it looks like he's sucking in air, which gives him a "special" buff icon. Because that icon is idiosyncratic, I have no idea what it does. I thought he might be charging up for an attack, but eventually it just runs out and I can't tell the difference.

Lastly, he does... something that involves the Land gauge. It quickly says something at the top of the screen, but the only word I can pick out that fast is Land. My first thought is that he's failing to do a move because the Land gauge isn't appropriate for him to do so. I think that might be why he stopped doing his all targeting attack, but who knows? After the battle I looked at his status screen and it seems he's vulnerable to both light and dark, so maybe there's some yin-yang gimmick here that I completely ignored by letting him charge up the darkness? Maybe those are the only spells that would significantly hurt him or something, but they also charge up his attack? I have no idea, but I feel like I did it wrong.

Anyway, it's a long battle and I end with basically no resources left for anyone but Marisa, who was of course just twiddling her thumbs.

After we defeat him, he resumes yelling at Reimu, who just punts him off the screen. What a bad person, she exclaims, prompting a sweat drop from the rest of the party. Satori was thinking "you're one to talk" but print screen ate the dialog box. And then we move on.

edited 17th Nov '10 11:56:45 PM by Clarste

57 Clarste17th Nov 2010 11:39:42 PM , Relationship Status: Non-Canon
One Winged Egret
Picture time!

Here are some random shots of the forest area. I take pictures while opening boxes because it's safe. Huh, I didn't notice at the time that the heal point room lacks the glowy things.

Conversely, here's the underground area. I took pictures of gates because that's what stood out to me, sorry.

Here are some nymphs and stuff. In the second picture Satori is scanning: it says "vulnerable to darkness" at the top. In the third picture she's learning Plasma Ball, but it only shows it because she happens to level up at the same time. This is an angel. I can't figure out what its name is supposed to be. Kareidobaachaa. Kaleidovarcher? I dunno. I cast Master Spark on it just because.

Underground, we fight these guys. When removed from battle, Youmu leave only her ghost half behind. This is Byakuren roasting a scorpion with Starfire. Lastly, these are the enemies from the second half.

On a "failure" note, here is Satori being dead on the menu after running out of lives, and these are the game over screens. In the latter one, an enemy died from poison after I died, so the points just float there. I think my party members give suggestions for the dungeon when I get a game over. After this, we lose our items. Pray that the list isn't more than one page.

These are yukkuris. They give a lot of experience.

I have an awful lot of boss fight pictures, but most of them are pretty uninteresting. This is a few turns into the battle. He has both reflect and his whatever buff. This is right before the end of the battle. Honestly, I thought I might die from attrition. Alice has MP, but no bombs. Marisa is poking him with her broom for 0 damage because there's nothing better to do when he has reflect. This is Genjii's head exploding. I mean, that's his AOE attack. There's an awful lot of attacks where the enemy hops up there and shoots stuff at your party, and I think of them as breath attacks. Finally, this is the boss dying. He turns gray and shakes. All the items are gathering on Sakuya, who got the final hit. Bosses drop a lot of power.

This is a link to the whole folder, where you can browse them as a slideshow or whatever. They're in a completely random order because I named them descriptively rather than sequentially. I think I'll number them next time. There are a few pictures I didn't use here, but not many because... I'm bad at making decisions.

edited 17th Nov '10 11:43:49 PM by Clarste

58 Fawriel18th Nov 2010 12:50:53 AM from the bottom of my heart , Relationship Status: If it's you, it's okay
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I have only just started reading this stuff but I have to point out: Rinnosuke has DANBO THE AMAZING CARDBOARD BOX ROBOT in his assortment!

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59 Clarste18th Nov 2010 06:24:15 PM , Relationship Status: Non-Canon
One Winged Egret
Hmm, big important-seeming cutscene happens right when I enter the next area, so I'm gonna cover it now before I forget the details. I again failed to screen capture the "black something" kanji, which seems a lot more plot-important than I had originally thought, so if it ever appears again I'm just gonna pause and actually go all out looking it up in the dictionary.

The next area is the Genbu Creek which is somehow in the middle of the Forest of Magic. Marisa and Alice seem somewhat shocked that there's been something like this under their noses all along. It's somehow connected to the Youkai Mountain's creek, which worries Nitori. Mokou acts as a foil for her to explain stuff to. Aya wonders who we'll find here.

Byakuren, being on top of things, picks up on something Genjii said last stage and uses that as a launching point for what seems to me is a really dense explanation. That's just cause I fail at kanji. It must be a great explanation though, because Sakuya says "ah, so that's the truth" and Satori confirms it from having read Genjii's mind. Marisa can't quite believe it, but... Anyway, we decide to head forward.

Now for the important part. Cut to the Gorgon's Lair. These are the people I mentioned at the end of stage 14, although I guess the person I thought was a Snake Person actually does have legs. They talk for a bit about how important the Genbu Creek is to their plans, and then Genjii arrives and reports his failure. He's now a much smaller turtle, so I guess he was being buffed by her magic. Now you've done it, you meddling Hakurei Miko. But however far she gets, it's something to look forward too, right?

At this point a servant shouts their names from offscreen and I fail to get a screenshot, of course. From left to right, they're Biotopos and Anastasis, or something like that. Anyway, the herald is announcing the arrival of Lithos, who was out on an errand. Well, Lithos Medusa Gorgon is her full name, but again the dialog box was eaten. This is getting annoying. Lithos call the other two "nee-san" which means older sister, so I guess she's younger than them, but in Japanese doesn't necessarily mean they're related.

Bio teases Lithos about how she's worried about how cute little Lithos-chan might get seduced by a man like Zeus, but Lithos angrily-embarrassed wants her to stop worrying about that. Baka was said. Bio admits that she was wrong to worry about that, because Lithos lacks a certain "something", cuing more reaction.

She calms down fast though, when "Sis-nee-san" says something. I assume that's short for Anastasis, but it still sounds funny in English. It's at this point I notice a "third eye" theme for these people, Bio has one on her hat, Sis has one drawn on her forehead, and Lithos actually has one. Anyway, Lithos takes the throne in the center, marking her as the leader, and switches into serious mode, ominously talking about how the "Three Gorgon Sisters" will inevitably have free reign over Gensokyo, marked by being able to eat whoever they want. I guess they want to subvert the stable equilibrium between humans and youkai, or something like that. Cue pose.

edited 18th Nov '10 6:42:01 PM by Clarste

60 Clarste19th Nov 2010 01:45:31 AM , Relationship Status: Non-Canon
One Winged Egret
Okay, this whole print-screen thing is getting stupid. If I can't take pictures of unreadable Japanese text, what's the point of taking pictures of cutscenes? Anyway, I found an actual screenshot program that avoids this problem (as well as making this slightly more convenient), but I missed a bunch of them from this stage. If anyone cares. Somehow a picture of all the character just standing there seems to miss a vital point... The new one seems delayed though, so it's less helpful for battles, not that I've ever really managed to capture anything but the last words.

edited 19th Nov '10 2:00:44 AM by Clarste

61 Clarste19th Nov 2010 05:20:09 AM , Relationship Status: Non-Canon
One Winged Egret
Stage 16 were the first 14 just the prologue?

Due to the previous dungeon's success with switching in a previously unused character for the 5th slot (both Satori and Byakuren), I decide to go all out this time and switch around more than half my party. I'm now using Mokou, Youmu, Sakuya, Satori and Byakuren. Oh, in case you didn't realize I always list my party in numerical order, because that's how I have to choose my party. The 1st slot is the tank, the front two slots are fighters, and the back two slots are casters, although that's just because of the formation I'm in, which rarely changes. So Mokou is the tank now.

To facilitate this party change, I buy new weapons for Mokou and Youmu. Byakuren is using a good staff I found in the forest while Satori is still using the eye she started with. She just uses it to scan enemies. Mokou's weapon has a deflect chance on it and Youmu's has a chance of causing stop, although she can still cause death too because that's her own ability.

As you could see in the cutscene screenshots I posted earlier, this place, the Genbu Creek, is just rocks and water. It seems a lot less alive than most previous outdoor dungeons, but I have no idea if that's an intentional theme. It has both indoor and outdoor sections, but nothing complicated. The "theme" of this dungeon, if you could call it that, is that there are lots of dead ends that kinda look like they could be paths because of small holes between rocks and such, but aren't. It feels like they're teasing me, but maybe it's supposed to represent seeing future paths through holes? Whatever the case, it's just straightforward.

Enemy field sprites are land octopi. The basic enemies here are centaurs, and like most basic enemies come in different flavors. Sword centaurs do drain, spear centaurs do physical attacks, and staff centaurs cast fire spells. Only the staff ones are particularly dangerous, although that's a relative claim. They're backed up by sirens, which look a lot like harpies but can cast sleep and charm, although they're terrible at it so it was never a problem.

Other enemies include poisonous spiders that can paralyze with webs and Persephone. Yeah, the queen of the underworld. She's undead, and casts something similar to Sakuya's Killing World that prevents healing. She also casts Desu, which is Death but I have too many memes stuck in my head. Rounding it out is some skeleton thing called Hain or something (that's in romaji). It changes its defenses to be strong against what you hit it with, which in my case is always physical. It also attacks with the same element.

Satori's poison does its job the same as last time, and can even hit undead things for some reason. However, the enemies have more resistance now, while I have the same induction because I can only get it from accessories and skill trees. So poison does less damage and I'm worried about Satori's scaling. Byakuren fries things with darkness or light, depending (centaurs weak against dark, Persephone weak against light), but now she also has light and dark element healing spells too. One of them is a vertical line while the other is a horizontal, neither of which are useful in my formation.

New to this whole "in the party" thing is Mokou. As I mentioned a long time ago, she's a counter-attack tank of sorts. One of her fist-weapon skills is Cross-counter, which causes her to deflect and counterattack everything that hits her that turn. Unfortunately, she doesn't have much MP so she can't spam it in random battles. She also just counters and deflects randomly anyway, and unlike Youmu it happens no matter what she's doing. She's got some decently powerful spellcards, but very few bombs. Like Youmu, she has a random chance of attacking twice with anything she does. However, because of her level, mostly she just dies a lot.

I'm feeling pretty confident in this dungeon for some reason so I keep pushing forward instead of constantly leaving to save and heal, so I end up running really low on MP and bombs. I'm pretty sure I'm near the end because I just picked up a gold key for a gold door and that's usually what that means. However, not wanting to push my luck I decide to head back. And I can't.

There's an enemy blocking my path, an enemy that I had simply run past on the way here but was now an unavoidable obstacle. It's a party of 3 Persephones and two other things, which is quite large. And... I'm not really equipped to kill that without MP. After about 2 or 4 attempts during which I ran away, I have the bright idea of changing my party. I switch everyone out but Youmu, who has enough for one last spellcard, and that's enough to push through. Well, really all the work was done by Patchouli's Royal Flare, which as you may recall is Light, and thus super-effective against Persephone. This is the first time I've actually used such a strategy, and I guess keeping your party evenly leveled is a good way to avoid MP problems.

However, I'm still paranoid about the items so I leave anyway. One of the Persephones dropped a Hades Amulet, which increases both dark resistance and dark damage at the cost of light resistance, which I give to Byakuren because she mostly spams dark spells. After healing up I get the crazy idea of replacing my entire party with the people I rarely use, but a single battle squashes that idea pretty decisively. I'm sorry, Reimu and Aya, I still don't really see the point of you. I think I'll try them again later, but probably not at the same time. I still need a picture of Reimu's Last Word, at least.

Anyway, my initial instincts were correct and there's only one room after the golden door. However, it is a room that's positively swarming with enemies, so heading back wasn't a bad idea. I clear half of it before advancing and find the heal point, so when I head back for the other half I can splurge on bombs and MP. That's always fun, and it's sort of surprising how much easier it makes things. As expected, there's a shortcut back to the entrance. As I approach the boss room, I consider switching back to my "boss" party, but honestly that sounds like a lot of work. Eh, this party should be good enough (hint: it isn't).

Entering the boss room, the party encounters a lake. Marisa is just as surprised as I am to find a lake in the middle of the Forest of Magic. Patchouli notes that given that our enemies have apparently moved an entire lake here from outside of Gensokyo, hiding a temple or two as well along with it would be no problem. Youmu thinks two temples might be stretching it. But apparently the party is looking for a temple, good to know. This time I actually have an online dictionary opened up and am prepared to search through radicals and stroke counts to look up kanji, so I'm learning a lot more than I knew before.

For further clarification, we're looking for a temple at the bottom of the lake. Mokou notes how convenient it is that its summer, because doing this in the winter would be relatively troublesome. Reimu does her classic "yeah yeah, who cares, let's go" and steps forward slightly when a challenger appears!

This new person, who was also present at the Quirky Miniboss Squad introduction from a while ago as the non-maid, non-turtle, teleports in from nowhere, although I think it's supposed to be implied that she's just moving really fast. Who are you...? Amazingly enough, I actually got a screenshot of her introducing herself! I'm pretty sure this is a first. You may not care since it's probably all moon runes to you anyway, but I'm always trying to catch key lines, and always failing. Hopefully that won't be a problem in the future.

Anyway, she introduces herself as the gatekeeper of the lake-bed temple, 紅 松葉. In Japanese that would be read as Kurenai Shouyou, but I'm pretty sure she's supposed to be Chinese because she has the same family name as Hong Meiling and is also a gatekeeper. Also later in the conversation they refer to her explicitly as a Chinese gatekeeper, so I suppose she's from the ancient Hong clan of Chinese gatekeeper youkai, or something. Using my mighty google skills, I determine that her name is possibly Hong Songye, but don't quote me on that. I know even less Chinese than I know Japanese, and that's not much.

Despite immediately threatening us with her scissor hands, it turns out that Songye is a pretty laid back person. Byakuren asks her what her master's plans are, but Songye has no idea. Satori confirms that she's telling the truth, and in fact is not the slightest bit curious. All she knows is that she's supposed to guard the temple, so she's going to do it. For some reason her attitude (and maybe her appearance?) reminds the party of a certain shinigami which they spend a while pointing out.

Having stopped taking her seriously, Reimu steps forward, but Songye responds by cutting in half one of those rock pillar things. The cut happened too fast for my terrible picture skills, so that's Youmu being all shocked by it. You probably have to directly compare it to another picture to notice the lack of rock. Songye reiterates that she has no interest in the mist incident nor her master's plans, but she is definitely going to guard her master's life, and thus this place.

It's at this point that the party notices that she's a crab. I notice it quite a bit later after the boss fight starts, but this conservation suddenly made sense retroactively. Gensokyo has no oceans, so they don't get to see sea life very often, so a crab youkai is quite rare. Youmu thinks she looks tasty and thinks Yuyuko would have loved to be here for a rare chance at crab for dinner. Songye doesn't appreciate where this conversation is going, so she cuts the other rock. Again causing the party to flinch, but I guess they don't really care this time. Reimu confirms that getting permission to pass is not an option.

This causes Songye to go on this strange rant about the hypothetical situation in which she lets us pass. If I let you pass then my masters might have to leave this temple, and they might fire me. If they fired me I'd have to ___ but if they kept me on out of pity we'd ____ and then they'd probably ____. It's sort of a weird tangent, but I guess this game is all about weird tangents. In the end though, her story involves her fighting us again later anyway, so she's gonna show us her limitless power! And then she kills us.

This is not a complicated fight. From what I can tell, each turn Songye does one physical attack with a small chance of instant death and then one horizontal line attack that in my formation hit three people. Each of her attacks does more than half the HP of anyone in my party (obviously more on the weaker party members) so if she hits someone with both they die. Byakuren isn't exactly a good healer, or at least not with how I have her set up, and I can't revive because Mokou's not in the commander slot. So I pretty much inevitably die because I lack defensive options.

I learn two things: first she's vulnerable to poison which is interesting but not unexpected, proving that Satori might be okay on bosses. Second, I scan her with Satori and discover she's vulnerable to lightning. And also a marine animal (fish type). That's how I realize that she's supposed to be a crab. Oh, three things, I also learn that Mokou's self-rez has a chance of happening each turn, instead of just the moment she dies. So if you leave her on the ground she'll just get up eventually. Not that that helps when she's the only person standing with 1 HP.

I return with a more traditional party, but decide that instead of using Marisa and Patchouli's lightning spells like I normally would, I'd just use Byakuren's elemental weapons buffs on Sakuya and Youmu. This is because Marisa and Patchouli are very weak against physical attacks and would be pretty likely to get hit. Admittedly, I just want to see how useful it is.

Turns out my actual party is very much overkill. Alice takes 0 damage from all of her attacks, and can use full party cover every other turn. Byakuren's attack buffs and elemental imbues turn Sakuya and Youmu into monsters, the likes of which I haven't seen since the infamous Kanako + Suwako fight. Youmu does about a third of her life in one hit, quite a change from the previous boss.

When she's below half she casts some sort of buff on herself, but I never saw what it did because she died the next turn. This makes me a sad panda. I think Byakuren is banned from boss fights from now on, or at least ones with elemental weaknesses.

Songye, not seeming much more threatening than Meiling at this point, is now on the ground, but still strong enough to pull herself up and retreat. I guess we might see a scene of her reporting her failure as well, but not yet. Next stop, Lake-bed Temple.

Sorry if this one's particularly meh. I'm kind of sleepy, but I'm pretty sure I'd forget how the conversation went by tomorrow and I spent so much time failing to read it. It's not like they're using complicated words or anything, I just completely fail at kanji and it gets tiresome looking up every single word.

Oh, and here's Mokou's Last Word, which revives everyone to full, which is extremely situational. I believe Reimu's the only one left. Here's a link to the whole gallery, it's in chronological order this time and pretty self-explanatory I think.

edited 19th Nov '10 5:42:59 AM by Clarste

Hain is probably a Shout-Out to Hein from Final Fantasy III, a skeleton boss that changed his weakness.
63 Clarste19th Nov 2010 03:37:31 PM , Relationship Status: Non-Canon
One Winged Egret
I see, and here I was frantically looking up Greek mythology on wikipedia. I knew it sounded out of place. And looking at your link, the name is spelled exactly the same in Japanese and he looks similar, so it was definitely Hein.
64 Fawriel19th Nov 2010 03:59:18 PM from the bottom of my heart , Relationship Status: If it's you, it's okay
jump to the left
And for that matter, "Hein" is based on a name used for the Grim Reaper in more than one European language, I think... I at least know of the Dutch "magere Hein". "Mager(e?)" means lean, skinny... perhaps even bony!
move to the right
65 Clarste19th Nov 2010 04:39:37 PM , Relationship Status: Non-Canon
One Winged Egret
Just for the record, Mokou is actually higher level than Alice now been I've been only using Alice on bosses for a while now. The reason Alice took less damage on the boss is because of her armor, which gives her 25% more physical defense than Mokou's armor and has strong resistance to slashing damage, which is all the boss does. So it's not because Alice is just better, it's because Alice happened to be wearing armor that was especially good here. If Mokou had been wearing it, her defensive stats would've been almost exactly the same.

Alice does have her dolls covering other people though, which is her primary claim to fame here. Little Legion is awesome. Also a higher chance to block with her shield.

edited 19th Nov '10 4:42:10 PM by Clarste

66 Clarste19th Nov 2010 08:47:24 PM , Relationship Status: Non-Canon
One Winged Egret
Okay, this time I took a picture of every single line of dialog. I'm not going to post them all, obviously, but this makes me feel better. Also, I can just refer back to it so I feel less pressure to get the write-up done quickly before I can forget.
67 Fawriel20th Nov 2010 01:37:31 AM from the bottom of my heart , Relationship Status: If it's you, it's okay
jump to the left
Good job!
move to the right
68 Clarste20th Nov 2010 01:00:51 PM , Relationship Status: Non-Canon
One Winged Egret
Stage 17 the temple of evil elementals, or how the land gauge can ruin your day

I made two pseudo-promises to you last time, and I'll have to break both of them. And they're both Reimu's fault. First of all, I said I'd try to use Reimu more effectively in the future, which sadly turns out to be impossible. Second of all, I said that the next stop would be the Lakebed Temple, and even had a screenshot of Reimu shouting such, but alas it was not to be. First we have to go through the Genbu Lake. Which is a cave. Given that that's three "en route to" stages in a row, I'm thinking the temple itself is going to be at least a Disc-One Final Dungeon. Or the real final dungeon; I already have a good 50 hours sunk into this game.

Before we move on though, I'd like to make it clear that the last two stages have been pretty boring. The bosses were easy, and the enemies, while not exactly harmless, have become somewhat routine in their difficult. I can fairly quickly sort out their archetype and I deal with them in fairly standardized ways. I've even been switching around my party, which is now composed of 4 characters around level 50 and 8 around level 40. Level 50 requires more than double the experience of level 40, by the way. The point is that the dungeon experiences have become fairly unmemorable compared to early on, and while I'm fine with playing that, it makes it harder to write a liveblog for.

Which why I'm thankful for this dungeon, for taking my pre-conceptions and bludgeoning them to death against the wall. Well, not quite that extreme, but it marks a return to the earlier era where I actually had to routinely figure stuff out, both for the normal encounters and for the boss. Thank you, Strawberry Bose, for actually making a decent game instead of just generic RPG #374658 with Touhou characters thrown in to promote sales.

Anyway, my initial party set-up here is Sakuya, Reimu, Nitori, Marisa, and Patchouli. The dungeon is sort of a generic cave in the same style of the previous dungeon, and the enemies are still octopi. Actually, I'm still fighting mostly the same enemies at this point and the stage introduction banner hasn't shown up yet, so technically I'm still in stage 16. After taking a few attempts to get past the first enemy with this party and then dying on the next one (remember those Sirens that I said were harmless despite their status ailments? yeah), I decide that Sakuya isn't defensive enough to be a tank and switch her out for Youmu, who will continue to be your tour guide this evening. Notably, I could have barely squeezed a win if Nitori hadn't missed twice in a row. So I load her up with hit accessories.

Entering the stage proper, it's... a bluish cave. It looks distinctly different from the previous room, but it's still just a cave. The music doesn't change, and I start to realize that it sounds familiar, but I can't quite put my finger on it. The Gensokyo the Gods Loved? Maybe? The enemies are still octopi though. The very first enemies I fight are a pair of Otohimes, purple haired girls holding seahorses like bows. And they're strong against all elements. And they're dragons. Why oh why did I switch Sakuya out?!

Switching Sakuya back in for her Dragonslaying, I head downstairs. And now we're underwater. There's no explanation for how we can breath and run around and fight and eventually talk underwater, but magic. But what ab— Magic. This is the part where it gets fun, by which I mean every single battle nearly kills me.

There are 2-3 basic categories of enemies in this dungeon. Water elementals, which are vulnerable to fire, aquatic youkai, which are vulnerable to lightning, and robots, who are just there to screw with you. These enemies have synergy so I'd like to explain their individual natures. I love explaining things, sorry.

In the elemental category, we have Waters and Undines. That's what they're called, Water, written in katakana. Waters just use normal attacks, but their attack is physical-water elemental. Undine (pronounced Andain in romaji, which either means that Tales of Symphonia pronounced it wrong or that I pronounce it wrong along with Japan) is a tougher elemental with more HP, but spends her time healing. Both regenerate with water land energy.

In the aquatic category, we have Mermaids, Crabs, and Catoblepas (which is a cow-monster, but it's vulnerable to lightning so it counts!). Crabs have tons of physical defense and are otherwise just really annoying. Catoblepas has a ton of health and is just sort of a dangerous big enemy. Most dangerous of all is the Mermaid, which casts Water Field, which instantly pumps the land meter up to max water affinity. This is ridiculously scary.

Last of all, we have the robots: Prototype and Adamantoise. Adamantoise is actually a turtle from Final Fantasy, but he's vulnerable to water so he's a robot. Prototypes are robot snakes that are vulnerable to water. Normally they're pretty harmless, albeit strong against physical attacks, but when the fire gauge gets high they start spamming some all targeting lasers, which can quickly wreck your party. The Adamantoises have really high defense against both magic and physical, and cover other enemies.

You may be able to put together a picture of what this place feels like. You've got your Mermaid-Water combo, in which the mermaid fills the land gauge allowing the Waters to one-shot people with their water-elemental normal attack. You've got your Undine-Adamantoise combo in which the Adamantoise tanks for his healer while you're forced to let the Undine regenerate by pushing the gauge towards water. You've got the Prototype-Elemental combo where you have to choose which enemy to buff because killing one with its weakness will make the other stronger. And then you've got the Otohimes screwing everything up by being strong against all elements.

Each battle is a new puzzle! They didn't repeat very often either. When I first got here I thought I was so clever for having all the elemental attackers in the same party, but if only it was that simple. On the other hand, you need to take advantage of the elements to kill them before they kill you. Prioritizing targets, while always a factor in this game, becomes extremely delicate, and all because of the land gauge. I'm sorry land gauge, I've been ignoring you for almost the entire game, and you were starting to feel kind of pointless. Don't feel bad, you're a great mechanic, you just need the enemies designed around you.

Back to the dungeon design, it's an underwater cave and the passages are very narrow. It's pretty much impossible to dodge enemies here, so while ultimately it ends up being a pretty short dungeon I had my fair share of battles. In one room there are these little holes in the wall guarded by stationary octopi, who end up being sort of miniboss combinations of enemies. After you kill them, you can go into the hole and open a hidden treasure box. You can't see them, but luckily my first instinct when going into holes is to spam the search button.

One of these holes has a demon in it, who is a miniboss in that I never encountered another one. My party proved insufficient to kill it given that it's strong against everything but light and can kill two party members per turn, so I create a custom party designed to kill it. That would be Sakuya with the Godslayer and Byakuren to enchant Sakuya's weapon with light. That ends up working, although it's a close battle, and at this point I think maybe it's time to stop being so experimental with my party and just choose something that works. So I return to my old party of Youmu, Sakuya, Sanae, Marisa and Patchouli. Except Patchouli is dead from losing too many Lives, so I take Nitori instead.

The trick of this dungeon's design is that there's one room with lots of split ups, but taking any of them causes spikes to sprout behind you, blocking your path. You then take stairs upstairs out of the water to a larger room with lots of exits but they all lead to dead ends blocked by spikes except for one that leads back to the beginning (originally block by a gate, but there's a switch on this side). The only way to reset the spikes is to enter the room from that one particular entrance that I came through in the first place. So there's only three rooms but you have to run through them a lot in order to explore everything.

And that's it. There is no path forward. It's quite bizarre. Just path -> spikes -> stairs, rinse and repeat. Every single path is a dead end. This was quite confusing for a while, until I realized that some of the areas were inaccessible from the bottom because spikes would appear in front of you, but appeared to be normal dead ends when I came down from above. Thinking this was suspicious, I tried the classic "run into every single wall" and it paid off! There was an invisible passage leading down and around.

This led me to a golden key, which would've been awesome and let me progress, if only I had discovered a golden door. A key without a door didn't help much, so back to square 1. Now knowing that this place wasn't "fair" though, I quickly managed to discover another hidden path leading to a new room, in which I could see the golden door. Except I couldn't reach it without another hidden path. At this point I'm thinking the dungeon design is pretty schitzophrenic, but apparently that's it. Ominous heal point and teleporter back to the beginning of stage 16.

Cutscene: It's a Greek-style temple. On the bottom of the lake. After everyone oohs and awes at it, Patchouli starts explaining how the building must have been moved from outside, because its architecture doesn't match the rest of Gensokyo, which is Japanese. "Umm... you mean like our house?" asks Sakuya. Yeah, pretty much, except this isn't just a mansion, but a temple, built to worship Western gods.

Which means...?

Byakuren starts speaking, claiming to given this and what Tenshi-sama said  * there's only one conclusion we can come to, which Patchouli agrees with.

Which is...?

Alice exasperatedly informs Marisa that Western temple being moved in = Western gods = we're going to have to fight Western gods. Before we move on, I'd just like to note that Byakuren reminds me a detective in this story. She's always latching onto clues, interrogating enemies, and summarizing evidence. She also reminds me of Itsuki, in that she talks a lot without saying anything.

Reimu notes that she's never met a Western god before, so maybe instead of standing around speculating we should just go inside? Except when she tries we're interrupted by a voice from inside. Someone's been watching us.

It's the crab! Uh... what was her name again...? Songye can't believe we already forgot, but reintroduces herself anyway. Despite this, Reimu just keeps calling her Crab. So, uh... what are you doing here, Crab? Didn't we just beat you?

Didn't I tell you before? I'm the gatekeeper for this temple. And you're intruders. So I'm gonna guard it. It's not like you beating me changed anything, losing is just something that happens sometimes. This time, I'll show you girls a loss!

Not gonna happen. Won't this just end the same way? Patchouli agrees with Marisa's assessment, adding that the odds aren't exactly stacked in Songye's favor in the first place, being 5 on 1 (Or 12 on 1? How does this work narratively?). What can you hope to accomplish alone?

She's not alone! It's the turtle! Um... what was his name again? Genjii goes crazy, as expected. Didn't you just remember me two stages ago?! I thought we already did this joke?! After a bit of teasing about how Sakuya had assumed that Genjii would have retired by now, Genjii claims that turtles are fine for 10,000 years, so he's as fit as a fiddle. Moreover, now that we're underwater, turtles and crabs have the home field advantage. Nitori chimes in with a "but I have the home field advantage too..." but she's drowned out by the yelling.

So begin Round 2, final Round! And they kill us.

As you might expect, the battle against Songye and Genjii is pretty much the previous two boss battles combined. I wonder if that's why they seemed so easy, but if so it seems like a waste of stages when they could have been minibosses. Well, it's not quite the two battles combined; both bosses start with a limited moveset but when one dies the other is healed to full and gains more abilities. Nothing unreasonable there.

For the first phase, both of them pretty much just do normal physical attacks, which is also pretty much what they did in the first place. Genjii still has his defense but no reflect, and Songye is still vulnerable to lightning but seems to have somewhat higher defense. Maybe. When either of them reaches about half health, they cast buffs on themselves that last for the rest of the battle: Genjii gets a defense buff and Songye gets an evasion buff. Both of them regenerate from the water gauge, and Genjii sometimes uses a water spell. I brought Satori along for my first attempt, because scanning bosses is quite useful, and in the process discovered that poison overwrites regeneration. That's not useful in this battle, but is interesting to note for earlier bosses that regenerate, like Iku. I guess that's another strategy.

I decide to kill Songye first because she has less defense, but that turns out to be a bad idea. When she dies, Genjii goes crazy and kills you. He hijacks the land meters and casts powerful all targeting spells of the buffed elements, two a turn. This remind me of the classic "you die now" abilities from older bosses like Utsuho and Komachi, but since it takes two hits to finish me off I'm guessing it might be survivable in some sense. Patchouli has an ability called "Chameleon" in her Spirit Magic tree that makes her immune to favored land elements, but I'm not sure if you can build a strategy around that. Either way, I decided to just avoid the problem entirely.

Songye's berserk mode is relatively easy. While she regains her AOE spike ability that can easily kill weaker party members, she also spends a ridiculous amount of time dispelling buffs. I'm pretty sure she never had that ability in the first place (Genjii did), but in this battle it's not uncommon for her to use it twice a turn. So that's a lot more relaxing than instant death, although it does prevent me from using the enchanted weapon strategy I used last time.

The party I decide to use is Alice, Nitori, Sanae, Marisa, and Patchouli. Alice tanks the ridiculous amount of physical damage they put out (most people die in one hit), Sanae buffs and heals like always, Marisa and Patchouli do elemental magic damage and Nitori follows them with Chasers. Mostly she regenerates though, which is one of her skill trees. By regenerating I don't have to spend to healing her, so while she's kind of weak she's also low maintenance. Also, isn't this her home field? Go Nitori! Rah rah rah!

On the subject of ridiculous physical damage, I think I should probably explain how defense works. Defense is a flat subtraction from damage taken. The manual lists the damage formula as simply attack - (defense/2), but I'm pretty sure that there are some multipliers in there, in addition to the random factor. Anyway, since it's subtraction the more defense you get the better it is. Subtracting 10 more damage from 200 isn't going to make a difference in how many hits you take, but subtracting 10 more from 20 is going to make you twice as durable. And from there it's a short step to 0.

This is mostly relevant because of blocking. As you may recall, each character has a shield slot, although using spells or 2 handed weapons prevents you from blocking on that turn (which is why Sakuya is bad defensively). Shields nowadays have about a 40% block rate, and when a block happens the character is surrounded by a transparent bluish sphere, a "ting" sound happens, and the shield's defense is added to the character's defense for that hit. Shields have a lot of defense, so this is a very good thing.

This is relevant because Songye hits very hard. Even Alice could die in one turn unless she blocks both hits. Luckily, her skills provide a means to ensure this. In addition to having passively increased block chance and block value (she takes ~200 on hit, but 0 on block), she has a certain skill in her Manipulation tree that increases her block chance by 1000% when she's covering for someone else. So by spamming cover on Sanae, who's sort of next to her, I can guarantee that she'll always block the spikes when they aim at her as well as keeping the healer alive, which is always nice. So I'm granting this victory to Alice.

So, plan assembled and kinks worked out, the battle begins. The first target is Genjii, but he has very high defense. Nitori does 0 damage. Marisa can do okay with her spells, and I decide to have her pump fire to nullify their regeneration. The key to killing Genjii is Patchouli, who can cast the ever popular Silent Selene for massive damage. Really massive damage, because she has a skill that lets her crit with magic. She hits him for 3000 something, putting her at third place behind Youmu in the massive damage competition, and that's without a magic power buff. She can cast it every other turn, and it turns out that dark land energy prevents Genjii from doing something, just like I speculated last time.

This leaves Songye, who dispels a lot and uses her aforementioned powerful physical attacks, hopefully on Alice. She's got an evasion buff, but by lucky coincidence Nitori is stacked with hit accessories so it works out. Songye also seems to have quite a lot of physical defense though, so Nitori's contributions are about half as effective as the magicians spamming lightning. Oddly enough, her Chasers are more powerful than her Last Word, which makes me sad.

The first time I tried this I ran out of commander revives from Mokou and then Sanae died, but this time Alice is protecting Sanae with her life so that's not a risk. The going is slow, I think because Genjii heals her for more HP than she started with, but eventually I finish her off, proving that losers shall remain losers.

After celebrating their victory, Reimu leads the party inside. Which somehow takes me back to the world map. Which now has the supposedly underwater temple just sitting in the middle of the forest. Oh well, at least it's convenient.

edited 20th Nov '10 1:27:59 PM by Clarste

69 Clarste20th Nov 2010 01:42:04 PM , Relationship Status: Non-Canon
One Winged Egret
Pictures! Here's the full gallery, if you like. At first I was planning on uploading every single dialog picture in a single folder, with another folder for everything else, but then I noticed that I had 140 pictures. So no, not happening. That's why it starts with the cutscene though. You can't tell this, but I got about 30 sequential pictures and then just cherry picked ones I liked for the rest of it.

This is Reimu's Last Word, which means I'm done taking pictures of these things. Remind me if I missed one; I wouldn't mind just showing them all again next to each other for easy comparison. These are pretty much the only graphically interesting things in this game, other than animations which I can't really show in a still shot.

Cave. New cave. Gate. Underwater. Octopus hole. Spikes.

Old and new. Note the water in the top right. Nitori misses, with deadly results.

Otohime. Undine + Waters. Adamantoise. Lastly, the face of doom. Oh, a team of scuba diving centaurs for some reason.

Genjii kills me when left alone.

New party, ready for round 2. And 3 and 4 and 5. She's hurt, but all hope is lost. I dunno what that "C" buff is. She casts something that says bomb in its name but it doesn't do anything. Maybe she'll counter bombs? I dunno.

I just realized that paired bosses give twice as much power, but that makes no difference whatsoever. Alice levels up twice and learns Straw Doll Kamikaze.

edited 20th Nov '10 1:42:51 PM by Clarste

70 Fawriel20th Nov 2010 02:54:44 PM from the bottom of my heart , Relationship Status: If it's you, it's okay
jump to the left
1. If you ask me, "Undine" is pronounced "Oon-dean-eh". I'd think the name is Germanic in origin, and that's close to how I'd pronounce it as a German.

Adamantoise is actually a turtle from Final Fantasy, but he's vulnerable to water so he's a robot.

3. Clarste/LandGauge OTP

4. I'd like to see all the Last Word portraits next to one another, but I can just pick them out in the gallery myself.

5. Scuba-diving centaurs are the best centaurs.
move to the right
71 Clarste20th Nov 2010 07:02:45 PM , Relationship Status: Non-Canon
One Winged Egret
1. Then I pronounce it wrong along with Japan.

4. They're all in different galleries because I uploaded them at different times and I don't have an imageshack account so there's no connection between the different galleries. Also, apparently I missed Alice. I reuploaded them all into a new gallery.
72 Clarste20th Nov 2010 08:02:39 PM , Relationship Status: Non-Canon
One Winged Egret
I got the black somethings! It literally means black curtain, but seems to have the meaning of "the one behind the scenes". The person pulling the political strings. Pulling strings, what fun~

So basically it's a fancy word for "culprit" or "mastermind" in this context.
Merriam-Webster suggests that the Symphonia cast was pronouncing 'Undine' correctly. ...Which means I've been mispronouncing it all this time.
74 Clarste21st Nov 2010 02:53:27 AM , Relationship Status: Non-Canon
One Winged Egret
So, um... the next boss is either really poorly designed or I'm missing something drastic. This might take a while.
75 Clarste21st Nov 2010 07:39:07 PM , Relationship Status: Non-Canon
One Winged Egret
Turns out I missed something drastic. -ish. You're forgiven, Strawberry Bose. I did take a little peek at the Japanese wiki to see the move list though.

edited 21st Nov '10 7:39:18 PM by Clarste

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