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Monday, July 23, 2012

Final Fantasy 19: BOSS: The Enchanted Cookies

Enchanted Cookie x3
Level: 1, HP: 300, MP: 0
Rewards: Flour x3 (Always)
Special: None
Vulnerable to: Mini
Attacks: Speech Attack
Sketch: !Chocolate Chip Missile, Explode
Blue Magic: Explode (Sketch)
Draw Spell: Curaja

BGM: My Favorite Trick (Breath of Fire III)

The Enchanted Cookies are the easiest bosses in this entire game. There is no competition: it is literally impossible to lose this fight unless you target your own characters. The Cookies will never, under any circumstances, deal even a single point of damage.

They certainly are chatty, however. Every one of their turns, they have a chance of saying one of the following phrases:

   "You're losing serious brownie points, buster!"
   "Butter me up enough and I might let you pass!"
   "It looks like you've been caught with your hand in the cookie jar!"
   "You ugly beasts! Looking at you makes me want to toss my cookies!"

When attacked physically, they will scoff, "So, you think you're a tough cookie, eh?" When attacked magically, they will sniff, "So, you think you're a smart cookie, don't ya?" When defeated, they will cry out, "That's the way the cookie crumbles!"

If you hit them with fire magic (such as Phoenix's Fire spell,) they will yelp, "OUCH! I think you turned the oven up a little high!" If you miniaturize them with Badger's Compression spell, they will exclaim, "Bite-sized!"

Talkative little buggers, aren't they?

The most interesting things you can get out of these bosses-in-nothing-but-name are their Sketch attacks. Most of the time, you will get the !Chocolate Chip Missile, which is unique to the Cookies and features an animation never seen anywhere else (although the power is actually less than a regular physical attack). There is a 25% chance of getting the Explode spell, however, which is a Blue Magic that can be learned by Ferret. Granted, it is a USELESS Blue Magic that can be learned by Ferret, as you will almost always get more use out of a live Ferret that can Shriek and dispense items instead of a kamikaze Exploding Ferret (amusing though the image is,) but this IS the first chance you have to learn it, so it's interesting for the novelty if nothing else.

When it comes to the actual disposal of the cookies, you will find that the greatest danger in this fight is that you, the player, will die of over-exposure to bad jokes. Burn Owl Aye's "trap" to a crisp with Phoenix's Fire, which they are weak to, and move on.

Final Fantasy 19: Owl Tower

Location: The World of Darkness, Owl Tower
Party members: Badger, Ferret, Phoenix
Opponents: None
Items: Star Chart x13, Potion x2, Hi-Potion x2, Phoenix Down x3, Phoenix Pinion
       x1, 333 G, 444 G, 555 G, 666 G, 777 G
BGM: Welcome to Bukki Tower (Super Mario RPG)

The lair of the terrible villain Owl Aye! Traps lurk in the floor panels. Monsters lie in wait behind every corner. Utter terror enters your very soul from the chilling background music. Owl Aye is bringing Princess Peahen snacks.

Wait, what?

Preparation: You'll want to be fully decked out in World of Darkness equipment before venturing in here. Whether "World of Darkness equipment" means a store-bought Flashy Robe or the Scholars' Library's Librarian's Robe is your own prerogative, but Cotton Robes just ain't gonna cut it anymore.

Despite being the lair of an evil enchanter, Owl Tower seems suspiciously homey from the outside, with a neat little welcome mat and some pretty flowers on a windowsill. Phoenix fears that the welcome mat may have teeth and try to eat you, but Ferret smacks some sense into her and the animals breach the entrance only to come out again at the entrance to the tower's glade. A space/time distortion!

Ferret attempts the front door again, with no more success than before. Phoenix curses Owl Aye with the power of Crimper/Cheese. Badger ponders. If Ultimecia gave him a portion of her Sorceress Power over time and space, perhaps he can use it to unbend this spatial loop and gain entrance to the Tower!

Unfortunately, Badger has no idea how to access those powers.

Fortunately, Ferret discovers a door labeled "For Guests" that goes right inside.

Several stories up, a small grey kitten that has been watching the invaders intently now runs off to warn her master...

In the cozy parlor at the top of the castle, the Great and Terrible Owl Aye is threatening the beauteous Princess Peahen with...incredibly insignificant threats of bodily harm, such as tickle-torture and rib-poking. Princess Peahen, who is as dumb as she is beautiful and as brave as she is dumb, valiantly refuses to remain his prisoner, despite the "danger" to her person. The charade would probably continue indefinitely if the kitten did not appear, raging at Owl Aye that intruders have entered the castle! Owl Aye does not understand; how did they surmount his repeating space loop? "By taking the LABELED side door, you imbecile!"

Owl Aye is confident that Peahen's rescuers, no matter how powerful they may be, will never surmount his next defense. Kitty demands to know if this is the one in the kitchen and, when told that it is, informs him that she will be taking over Castle Defense duty herself.

The inside of Owl Tower is filled with books, tchotchkies, and a surprising number of chinchillas, who appear neither rabid, violent, nor even in the least bad-tempered. Above the nearest doorway is a plaque reading, "Lord Chaos, bless this humble home." It has birds on it. Ferret is not impressed.

Wandering through the rooms on the first level of Owl Tower, you will find a carefully labeled "Care Package" containing a Potion, a Phoenix Down, 333 gold, and a note wishing you to have a nice day. Ferret's respect for the place is dwindling into the negatives by now. Things only get worse when you enter the kitchen and find Owl Aye's "next defense"...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

In Humanity Lies Hope: Introduction

It's high time I introduced some new ideas on this blog, so let's begin with an idea I've been turning over in my head for over a year and a half now. Despite the large amount of time I've had this idea in mind, it's honestly not very well-formed, so this isn't a concept I'll have huge, in-depth posts on like I do for Rambling or Spectrum.

Some of you are probably quite relieved by this!

Anyway, "In Humanity Lies Hope" is imagined to be an RPG that looks like a Tales game and plays like Dissidia: Final Fantasy. It takes place in a world of demihumans, and it is a game plot that runs on curiosity and the desire for freedom rather than a world-threatening danger. Like Star Ocean: The Second Story (and other games,) the game has two main characters, both dog demihumans: Haruki, a shiba-inu-inspired archer who is quiet and sheltered, and Tess, a collie-inspired street-thief with a noble spirit.

Combat takes place in large, interactive, three-dimensional battlefields, as in Dissidia. The maximum party size is four characters, but you only control one, although you can switch who you are controlling at any time. The remaining characters in the party are either controlled by the A.I., directed by a Tales-inspired set of directives you can set in the Options menu and change during battle, or by up to three other people. I'm a big fan of multiplayer RPGs, and it's my personal opinion we really need more of them!

In a way, I intend the plot of "In Humanity Lies Hope" to be a mystery story. Mysteries drive the characters to leave their homes and embark on this journey. Mysteries drive the religions of the world, and mysteries inspire the ones who turn against these religions as well. Mysteries will, I hope, pull the player into the story. Who is right about the nature of the world? What is the real plan being woven within the shadows? Why do the worshiped gods have such familiar forms? And most important of we all turn pink or blue in the afterlife?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Yuunaru! Characters: Taro

Nicknames: None
Age: 17, Taurus
Grade: High School Senior
Hair: Black
Eyes: Black
Build: Large, but beautiful
Profession: Sumo-wrestler-in-training
Family: Orphaned
Personality: Kind, caring, dedicated
Dream: To open a restaurant
Likes: Feeling needed, rice
Dislikes: Cracks about his body
Weapon: Gloves
Transformed Costume: Fundoshi
Element: Earth Sun

 Magnitude 10
 Encourage (heals both of Taro's allies)
 Cure (full-heal for one)

 Taro, Hiro: NOT AGAIN
 Taro, Motoki: Bakery Attack
 Taro, Konosuke: Powerful Song
 Taro, Kiyoshi: Blitzkrieg
 Taro, Yukio: Elegant Song
 Taro, Shimei/ Fuma/ Jin/ Yukio: First Aid
 Taro, Makoto/ Ai Len/ Kisho/ Kohei/ Atsushi/ Zen: Martial Attack

 Taro + Two (Mizumaki, Konosuke, Kiyoshi, Tsuruya, Zen): Exhibitionist Attack
 Taro + Two (Shimei, Fuma, Jin, Yukio): Medical Emergency
 Taro + Two (Junichi, Konosuke, Hikaru, Yukio, Hanako): Concert Attack

The youngest and newest member of the school's unpopular sumo wrestling team, Taro is a sweet, gentle, soft-spoken, food-loving student with a strong work ethic and a humble dream of someday opening a cozy little restaurant somewhere in town. Shy and often found studying with extensive supplies of food at his side, he has been teased throughout his school career but has somehow held onto his kind and innocent nature. He can be gently teasing sometimes, but is much more often the shoulder others run to cry on, as he radiates calm, acceptance, and comfort like a space heater.

Although Hiro's wish grants him, among many others, magical powers, Taro doesn't realize this for quite a while (although his encouraging words to others have been having surprisingly dramatic effects recently). It's not until Arata and Hayato crash a festival and Taro shatters the earth to defend others that he realizes something's different. Once the situation is explained to him by the others, he cheerfully agrees to help Fight Evil (disappointing Ryuu temporarily by ruining his sentai team, until he learns that Taro can cook).

There are two different ways to hang out with Taro: you can train with him and follow him to sumo, which will get you lots of easy extra EXP but not too many relationship points; or you can cook with him and help him look into owning a restaurant. You can try switching back and forth, but both event trees are riddled with crucial events that you can easily miss, which will screw you up. Basically, if you want a relationship with Taro, encourage his foodie side, not his fighting side.

Yuunaru! Characters: Hayato

Nicknames: None
Age: 210, appears 18, Scorpio
Grade: N/A
Hair: Brown (Yellow when transformed)
Eyes: Brown (Red when transformed)
Build: Strong
Profession: Tengu
Family: N/A
Personality: Calm, vain, competitive
Dream: To be idolized
Likes: Tea, early mornings, bitter gourd crepes
Dislikes: Pepper, strong scents that disturb his sensitive nose
Weapon: Hauchiwa (mystic feather fan)
Transformed Costume: Elegant ceremonial robes
Element: Wind Star

 Tailwind (speed up, all)
 Galewind (speed down, all)

 Hayato, Arata: Demon Attack

 Hiro, Arata, Hayato: Summoning Attack
 Hayato + Two (Shimei, Ai Len, Kisho, Yukio): Bishounen Attack

NOTE: Scarred during the course of the first game

Like Arata, Hayato the tengu is summoned by Hideki to be Hotaru's secret weapon against Hiro. Hotaru holds back on utilizing Hayato until Ai Len defects, at which point he sends Hayato to keep an eye on Arata's hijinks. Hayato is a calm, logical individual - an excellent counterpoint to Arata's energy - but unlike Ai Len, whom Arata grated upon, Hayato also appreciates Arata's sense of fun and humor and is easily roped into going to amusement parks or festivals instead of attending to his work. Hayato is also fantastically vain and can easily be manipulated by appealing to or pricking his vanity; he often gets involved in beauty/ swimsuit/ talent competitions and is not above resorting to underhanded methods to win. He tries to portray himself as a tranquil, traditional, nature-loving individual, but his quick temper often ruins the image before he's even done creating it.

Hayato joins Arata in attacking Hiro after Ai Len leaves Hotaru's side, and he considers Ai Len - whom he replaced and whom often foils his carefully laid plans - his eternal rival, frequently challenging him to compete in the afore-mentioned beauty/ swimsuit/ talent competitions (although Ai Len inevitably wins). Eventually, however, the demonic duo's lack of results enrages Hideki and by extension Hotaru, who puts Raye in charge of them both. Hayato handles Raye's strict micromanagement better than Arata, but becomes dissatisfied enough that he joins Arata in hiding from him at mission time and accidentally stumbles across the Destroyer Laboratory with him. Hideki, furious at their intrusion, thrashes them both with extremely powerful magic, and only Hayato's wind powers get them out of the fight alive. Arata, the slightly less injured, tows Hayato to safety and gets them both to Hiro, who takes them in. Hayato, whose face is now scarred (albeit handsomely so,) is willing to do anything to get revenge on Hideki - even assist Ai Len.

Being as vain as he is, Hayato responds well to flattery. However, since he spends so much of the game getting beaten by Ai Len, the important part to winning his affections is comforting him afterwards, and words won't do the job there. Show him how well you know him by taking him out to do things he enjoys
after his crushing defeats - such as crepes, tea, hikes, or KILLING THINGS - and your relationship will blossom.

Yuunaru! Characters: Arata

Nicknames: Little Devil
Age: 199, appears somewhere between 13 and 16, Leo
Grade: N/A
Hair: Long, crazy, and silver
Eyes: Red
Build: Short but strong
Profession: Oni
Family: N/A
Dream: To find something to care about again
Personality: Mischievous, seductive, single-minded
Likes: Playing pranks and causing chaos
Dislikes: Words of optimism and cheer
Weapon: Gloves
Transformed Costume: Horns, samurai-esque garb, tiger-skin-loincloth, massive rosary beads
Element: Fire Moon

 Super Nova
 Meltdown (defense down, one)
 Smelt (attack up, one)

 Arata, Hayato: Demon Attack
 Arata, Kiyoshi: Shota Attack
 Arata, Chinami: Volatile Attack
 Arata, Atsushi: Oni's Sake

 Hiro, Arata, Hayato: Summoning Attack
 Arata + Two (Ryuu, Isao, Hotaru, Jin, Tsuruya, Kiyoshi): Brawlers' Attack
 Arata + Two (Makoto, Kisho, Konosuke, Tsuruya): Bara Attack

Arata is an oni summoned by Hideki and given to Hotaru as a secret weapon against Hiro. A passionate, mischief-making trickster, Arata takes great joy in having fun in any way: eating good food, going to amusement parks, going shopping, getting drunk, going clubbing...if it's high-energy and engaging, you can bet Arata wants to do it. He's been locked out of the world for almost a century thanks to a long-dead exorcist and is very excited to walk it again. Despite his youthful appearance, Arata has the benefit of many years of experience and is more intelligent than he lets on; in fact, although he enjoys being treated like a child for the happy-fun-times of it, he has a strong mature side underneath all the fun and games.

Hotaru releases Arata from his magic-induced slumber and orders him to help Ai Len after Ai Len's concentration is shattered when Shimei fires him. Arata's excessive energy clashes horribly with Ai Len's methodical planning, which eventually results in Ai Len defecting to Hiro's side and Hotaru releasing the tengu Hayato to help Arata defeat them both. With Hayato to help him plan his moves and control himself, Arata causes chaos with gusto until his lack of any genuine results provokes Hideki to put pressure on Hotaru and Hotaru to put pressure on Arata. When Raye returns from America, Hotaru puts the cowboy in charge of Arata and Hayato, and Raye's tight management causes Arata's free spirit to chafe. Upset and sullen, Arata accidentally discovers the Destroyer Lab hidden within Hotaru's headquarters and is, along with Hayato, severely injured by Hideki for trespassing. Supporting each other, the two barely escape with their lives and struggle to find Hiro and warn him about Ifrit, whom they barely caught a glimpse of before Hideki found them. Arata may be a demon, but his demonic nature makes him fond of the material world, and he doesn't want to see it destroyed. After Hotaru and Ifrit have been defeated, Arata - pleased at the excitement he's had with Hiro's group - begins to bother them on a permanent basis.

Although Arata often acts like a child to the point that you want to smack him, he really longs for someone who will put up with his rapid persona changes, both enjoying and valuing all the different roles he likes to take on without judgment. Arata takes a lot of attention and money - part of wooing him is doing whatever he wants you to do and buying him all the things he suggests you buy, which will take grinding - and also requires walking a fine line between playing along with him and humoring him. If he feels he's being treated like a child, he will speedily lose interest in you...unless, of course, he wants to be treated like a child at that particular point in time, in which case he will speedily lose interest if you DON'T.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Rambling: Monsters: Witches

Method of Attack: Hexes, jinxes, general bad-luck curses
Omega Attack: Witch's Kitchen

Black Annis

 Movement: 3
 Spellbook Slots: 3
 Magic Experience Gain Rate Chart
   Fire: 20  -  Water: 20  -  Wind: 20  -  Earth: 20
   Lightning: 20  -  Holy: 20  -  Darkness: 20  -  Medical: 05
   Strength: 05  -  Weakness: 30

Learns magic up to Level 4 of one random element.

Skill Statistics
Normal Attack  -  Lvl 0, MP 1%, Long-range
Witch's Kitchen  -  Lvl 0, MP 0, Omega Attack
Level 1  -  Lvl 5, MP ?, Long-range
Level 2  -  Lvl 15, MP ?, Long-range
Level 3  -  Lvl 30, MP ?, Long-range
Level 4  -  Lvl 60, MP ?, Long-range

Rambling: Monsters: Gorgons

Method of Attack: Claw slash, jewel toss, tail slam, super slap
Omega Attack: Death Glare


Movement: 3
Spellbook Slots: 2
Magic Experience Gain Rate Chart
   Fire: 05  -  Water: 15  -  Wind: 20  -  Earth: 30
   Lightning: 15  -  Holy: 10  -  Darkness: 25  -  Medical: 05
   Strength: 20  -  Weakness: 30

Stone Gaze - Gorgon turns, removes her mask, and raises a mirror; causes Stone.
Jewelry Shower - Blows a cloud of smoke that thunders and rains jewels.
Fatal Gaze - Removes Gorgon’s mask to cause instant death.

Skill Statistics
Normal Attack  -  Lvl 0, MP 0, Short-range
Death Glare  -  Lvl 0, MP 0, Omega Attack
Stone Gaze  -  Lvl 5, MP 12, Medium-range
Jewelry Shower  -  Lvl 10, MP 13, Long-range    
Fatal Gaze  -  Lvl 33, MP 50, Medium-range

Rambling: Episode Three: Stage Fifteen: Abyss Bridge

Stage Fifteen: Abyss Bridge
Enemies: Snuff Imp lvl 6 x3
         Manikin lvl 7 x3
         Witch lvl 8 x1

   The only bridge across the gorge between you and Aerei is guarded by a Witch and her summoned imps. Although not as powerful as Malevolenta, the Witch will still throw Fire spells at you from the safety of other side of the bridge, and her bevy of attendant imps will join in with Fireballs.

   This is not a battle where you can hang back and let the enemies come to you, as they will refuse to do so. Your only choice is to storm them, and the only way to do this is by crossing the bridge (or by fielding a group entirely comprised of Crows to fly over the chasm, but this is rather impractical). Of course, crossing the bridge is going to be a slow process, and you're going to be pelted by flames the entire time. This sounds like a job for a magic-defense tank, like, say, oh...Søren?

   With Søren to lead your advance, deploy some similar tanky types with high magic defense (Familiars, Elementals) or, failing that, high HP (Flo, Manticores). Since the enemies are trapped in tight quarters on their side of the bridge, area spells from Elementals or Yuki can put a large dent in their collective strength, allowing your advancing tanks to wade in and finish them off.

Rambling: Characters: Pepper

Recruited: Episode 3, Stage 14 (Mountain Pass)
Method of Attack: Ferret flip, ferret rush, or blowtorch (?!)
Omega Attack: Pepper of the Opera

Pepper is a ferret who was turned into stone while traveling through the Carapan Mountains. Yes, traveling. Pepper is a traveling imitator who imitates famous people from around the galaxy. He’s also completely off his rocker, which is the only explanation for how he knows about all these people from around the galaxy. He is a firm believer in Good and Justice, and is therefore proud to travel alongside a hero such as Hana. At least, this is what we think his excuse is. He only speaks in loud, opinionated squeaks.

Starting Level: 5
Movement: 6
Spellbook Slots: 1
Magic Experience Gain Rate Chart
   Fire: 25  -  Water: 05  -  Wind: 12  -  Earth: 10
   Lightning: 25  -  Holy: 05  -  Darkness: 10  -  Medical: 05
                   Strength: 05  -  Weakness: 05

Crabwalk - Pepper dresses up as a crab and pinches the foe severely.
Pepper daVinci - Pepper dresses up as Leonardo daVinci, scribbles on canvas, and ceremonially smashes it over the foe’s head.
Pepper Charat - Pepper dresses up as Digiko and fires Laser Eye Beams.
Pepperman - Pepper dresses up as a superhero and flies into the enemy.
Pepper Bonaparte - Pepper dresses up as Napoleon and commands the advance of a ferret army.
Pepper Dif - Pepper dresses up as Rene Dif and belts out Barbie Girl (?!).
Pepper the Great - Pepper dresses up as Alexander the Great and attacks from a chariot.

Skill Statistics
Normal Attack  -  Lvl 0, MP 0, Short-range
Pepper of the Opera  -  Lvl 0, MP 0, Omega Attack
Crabwalk  -  Lvl 0, MP 4, Short-range
Pepper daVinci  -  Lvl 5, MP 7, Short-range
Pepper Charat  -  Lvl 9, MP 6, Long-range
Pepperman  -  Lvl 17, MP 16, Medium-range
Pepper Bonaparte  -  Lvl 22, MP 22, Long-range
Pepper Dif  -  Lvl 26, MP 34, Long-range
Pepper the Great  -  Lvl 38, MP 51, Medium-range

Rambling: Episode Three: Stage Fourteen: Mountain Pass

Stage Fourteen: Mountain Pass
Enemies: Crow lvl 7 x3
         Oread lvl 7 x5
         Gorgon lvl 7 x1
Guests: Pepper (Ferret) lvl 5

   A level 7 Gorgon is dangerous, but not really worrisome. Later in the game, these will become one of your most dreaded foes, capable of killing in one hit with their Fatal Gaze skill, but for now the worst they can do is turn you to stone with Stone Gaze. While inconvenient, this ailment is easily cured with Refresh or Hana’s Scent of Roses. None of the monsters here really pack much of a punch at this level, so you shouldn't have trouble handling them in straight-up combat.

   However, before moving on, take careful note of that little ferret statue off to the side. If you examine it, you’ll notice that it has stats. That’s because it’s actually a character! Use Refresh or Scent of Roses to unstone the little ferret...and you’ll find out that you just unleashed a fireball of ferret-energy called Pepper. Most of Pepper’s stats are very low, but his attack, speed, and movement are through the roof. He’ll be controlled by the computer for this one battle, and you’ll see his worth as a fighter as he rips off the face of every enemy within his range. After the battle, you have the option of letting him join you. If you refuse, you will not get another opportunity! However, if you accidentally miss unpetrifying him the first time through, he’ll still be there on subsequent playthroughs of this stage.

Rambling: Episode Three: Stage Thirteen: Foot of the Mountain

Stage Thirteen: Foot of the Mountain
Enemies: Dryad lvl 7 x3
         Oread lvl 7 x3

   This is a simple enough stage that really exists so you have a nice, easy stage to experiment with SørenSøren is a heavy-duty tank-type character with good defense and very high magic defense, making him an ideal counter to any strong magic-user you come across. His spells are strong, but expensive, so particularly at this early point in the game, you'll want to conserve them for serious threats only.

   There's not much to say about the battle itself. Focus your attacks on one dryad at a time, as all six of them can heal themselves, undoing all of your hard work. Also, try to let your weaker characters finish the dryads off for some easy experience.

Rambling: Characters: Søren

Recruited: Episode 2, Stage 12 (Sleeping Tower)
Method of Attack: Knight Sword
Omega Attack: Sleeping Lightning

A prince from the faraway city of Once Upon a Time, Søren bit into an poisoned apple and fell into a deep magical sleep. He was sealed away in a tower for a princess to come and kiss him awake, in keeping with tradition, but the bad fairy Malevolenta learned of this and took over his tower herself. Søren has been trapped asleep in his tower for years now – but when Hana comes and kisses him awake, his once-simple life reveals itself to be much more complicated than he remembers it to have been.

Starting Level: 5
Movement: 4
Spellbook Slots: 2
Magic Experience Gain Rate Chart
   Fire: 15  -  Water: 20  -  Wind: 20  -  Earth: 15
   Lightning: 25  -  Holy: 20  -  Darkness: 10  -  Medical: 15
   Strength: 20  -  Weakness: 05

Awakening - A rising slash that sends the enemy flying, then two stabs.
Sleeping Thunder - Raises sword and summons lightning, then swings it at foes.
Refresh - Cures the status effects of one ally.
Sleeping Storm - Calls lightning into sword and rushes the enemy.
Sleeping Bolt - Throws sword into the foe and summons lightning to it.
Sleeping Tempest - Shreds enemy with swordskill amidst a thunderstorm.
Awakened Mjolnir - Summons the thunder god to incinerate foes with lightning.

Skill Statistics
Normal Attack  -  Lvl 0, MP 0, Short-range    
Sleeping Lightning  -  Lvl 0, MP 0, Omega Attack
Awakening  -  Lvl 0, MP 10, Short-range    
Sleeping Thunder  -  Lvl 0, MP 12, Long-range
Refresh  -  Lvl 10, MP 8, Long-range
Sleeping Storm  -  Lvl 15, MP 22, Short-range
Sleeping Bolt  -  Lvl 23, MP 36, Medium-range
Sleeping Tempest  -  Lvl 31, MP 67, Short-range
Awakened Mjolnir  -  Lvl 41, MP 40, Long-range

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Rambling: Episode Three: The Beauty and the Beast: Carapan Mountains

   To reach Aerei, one must travel through the Carapan Mountains. Hana asks Søren about Aerei – Søren says that it is a small, sleepy town.

Rambling: Episode Three: The Beauty and the Beast: Legend

   The Hero Society is astounded to see Hana, Yuki, Flo, and Prince Søren returning to Legend. One and all they turn on Silvanus, who remarks that he didn’t specify that it was a princess at the Northern Castle. With no other choice, the Society declares Hana a Hero.

   To get rid of her, the Society sends Hana and co. off to Aerei to get rid of a terrible man-eating monster there. The secretary regretfully informs you that you have been put on the Society black-list and are not allowed to borrow any flying materials as of now. Søren joins Hana’s team.

Game Reviews: Gungnir

Gungnir is a PSP game developed by Sting and Dept. Heaven and brought over to the U.S. by Atlus. It's the ninth entry in the Dept. Heaven game series, which includes several other strange and wonderful RPGs such as Riviera, Yggdra Union, and Knights in the Nightmare. No matter whether you like Sting's RPGs or not, you can't argue the fact that every one of them is quite unique, and Gungnir follows in these footsteps.

Graphics: 7/10
Gungnir's graphics are pretty, to be sure, but for the most part, they're nothing exceptional. I quite like the character designs and the battlefields are stunning, but while the attention to detail is exquisite, the actual "whoa" factor is missing from the locales and attacks.

Music: 8/10
For the most part, while the music is both pretty and atmospheric, it's not particularly break-the-mold notable. The exception--a song that bumps the music score up a whole point--is "Raguel," the theme for the penultimate battle. It's rare that a song comes along that can, on its own, transform a battle from "big fight in a video game" to "YES! I AM INVOLVED! GO, SORCERESS! GO, PALADIN! MAKE THAT SHOT! CAST THAT SPELL! WE WILL WIN THIS FIGHT TOGETHER, MY ARMY!" immersion. Take a listen for yourself:

Story: 6.5/10
The story of Gungnir is not a strong one...or rather, it is, but less-than-ideal storytelling unfortunately hinders it. While the plot is a good, meaty one filled with questions, secrets, politics, and character flaws, it is told at far too quick of a pace and through an unsatisfactory filter: the main character, Giulio. While I have no problem with Giulio as a character, or even as a main character, his personality does not lend itself to conduction of the plots going on around him; he's the type of character who holds his ideals tightly in his arms, puts his head down, and bulls through the webs of intrigue in hopes he can ferry those ideals safely to the other side. Because of this, a lot of the nuances of the game are lost on him, and because of that, they are lost to the player as well, who is forced to absorb the story through this less-than-helpful conduit. Regardless, if you have the imagination to fill in the backstory for yourself, the story is good, and the game definitely gets credit for having some very interesting, non-traditional endings that have incited much anger among players for those non-traditional aspects. In short: a story I enjoyed, but one I recognize as flawed and not for everyone.

Characters: 8/10
"A mixed bag" is the best way to describe the characters of this game. Giulio is solid, but not very interesting, to be brutally honest. His older brother, Ragnar, is a deeper and more tormented individual who nevertheless never succumbs to Wangst, for which I give him much credit. I find the elderly Paulo to be a shallow, distasteful character, but he has many fans (although I question whether those fans like him for his personality or for his battle prowess). Alissa is a character you will either love or hate; I found the juxtaposition of her wide-eyed anime-heroine exterior with a MUCH more complex and MUCH less innocent interior to be fascinating and compelling, but I recognize how she could come off as grating to others. Valerie is a character archetype I usually enjoy--the brash Amazon--but I found her to be a little bit too abrasive for me. Natalia was a fascinating ball of intrigue much like Alissa, and although I wanted to smack her, I loved that she could elicit that reaction from me. The crown jewel of the cast, however, is clearly Elise: a deadpan snarker of a Valkyrie who couldn't give a fig about the war she is involved in and makes this quite clear at every opportunity.

As for the villains, King Wolfgang is a bit underdeveloped but interesting in his weakness; Ziyad is pretty two-dimensional, and his only notable quality is being a quadriplegic; Robertus is a Magnificent Bastard to a T and great fun to hate; and Isabelli is adorable, suicidal, diabolical, and a real pain to fight, making her most memorable indeed. All told, the cast is roughly half mediocre and half great, which tips it onto the side of being good rather than bad.

Gameplay: 10/10
What can I say: Gungnir's gameplay blew me away. I'm not even going to try to describe how it works, but in my opinion, there is not a single negative to it. The gameplay is complicated, strategic, and unbelievably well-balanced, actively punishing typical SRPG "easy win strategies" such as power-leveling only one character or using an army entirely made up of one broken character class, while rewarding versatile blends of character types and well-thought-out tactics. Knockback is an invaluable tool, as are heals, status effects, equipment switching, collection of TP, careful Ragnarok summoning, positioning, combo attacks...every facet of the battle system can be put to good, creative use, and it's SO much fun to do so.

Total Score: 7.9/10, B-
It's by no means the best game in the world, nor is it even the best Sting game (that honor falls to Yggdra Union, in my humble opinion). However, it's a fun game saved from anonymity by amazing gameplay, and considering the PSP is on its way out and you can find it for fairly cheap, it's well worth the price. I played it and loved it, and you should too!

Final Fantasy 19: Wandering the World of Darkness: Dastar, City of Bards

Location: The World of Darkness
Party members: Badger, Ferret, Phoenix
Opponents: None
BGM: Final Fantasy III - Covert Village Falgabard

Corresponding to Duster, residence of Bards and Geomancers, Dastar is the place where Ferret will FINALLY get an equipment upgrade. Hidden in the middle of the star-shaped forest to the west of Demur, Dastar is definitely worth a visit before storming Owl Tower.

Item Shop:
Gold Needle
Eye Drops
Echo Screen
Holy Water
Phoenix Down

Dastar possesses all of the status-effect curing items in the game (except the unique ones such as Jinnspice and Shivan Soup). You won't need most of them for a while, but it wouldn't hurt to stock up early if you have the money.

Weapon Shop:
Thundering M-Phone
Dream M-Phone
Banshee's M-Phone
Song Stone

At last, weapon upgrades for Ferret! But which to choose? Unless you've spent a huge amount of time grinding for money, you won't be able to afford the Banshee's M-Phone. The Dream M-Phone is also vastly overpriced, especially as its effect can be mimicked once Ferret hits level 10 and learns Lullaby. The most reliable option--unless you're filthy rich--is the glorious Thundering M-Phone, which will finally allow Ferret to hurt all monsters instead of simply attacking them.

The Song Stone is good enough, all things considered; it protects from Sleep, which isn't a bad status effect to have protection from. However, it's very expensive, like almost everything else in the area, and protection from Sleep just isn't that necessary right now. If you've bought everything else in Dastar (up to and including the Banshee's M-Phone,) the Song Stone is not an unworthy purchase. However, if you've done that, you don't really need the Song Stone at all, now do you?

Armor Shop:
Diamond Bell
Plumed Hat
Bardic Robe

The Bardic Robe is a Ferret-only equip that offers only one point more Defense than the Flashy Robe but almost twice as much Magic Defense. It's a great piece of armor, as long as you can afford it. The Diamond Bell is a beautiful helmet with extremely high Defense; its physical protection might even outweigh its complete lack of Magic Defense and its typically exorbitant price tag. Or it might not, especially since Owl Tower and the Scholars' Library - the two dungeons you'll be tackling next - have foes with powerful magical attacks in them. Plumed Hats were, of course, for sale in Peaheria already.

A typical party set-up at this point might be:

Wave Hammer
Plumed Hat
Flashy Robe
Mythril Bangle
Remora Eidolon

Thundering M-Phone
Plumed Hat/ Diamond Bell
Bardic Robe
Mythril Bangle
Oxen Stone

Magic Wand
Plumed Hat
Flashy Robe
Water/ Storm Jewel

At this point, you can go and venture into the Scholars' Library if you wish. However, even with equipment from Peaheria and Dastar, you may not be strong enough to survive its many dangers. I will cover that location after Owl Tower.

Final Fantasy 19: Wandering the World of Darkness: Demur, Town of Fishermen

Location: The World of Darkness
Party members: Badger, Ferret, Phoenix
Opponents: None
Items: Remora Eidolon
BGM: Final Fantasy III - Town of Water

Demur corresponds to the World of Light's city of Amur. It is, if possible, even less important to the story than Amur was to the story of Final Fantasy III, but aside from the oddly attractive fishermen and their brash but good-natured wives that populate the area, there is one interesting thing to find.

Down on the beach are a trio of young boys fishing. If you talk to them, they accidentally pull up a giant fish that scares them all away. Seeing Badger and company as the only people around, the fish demands that you get that accursed hook out of its jaw. If you agree to do so, the fish will grant you the Remora Eidolon accessory in gratitude.

The Remora Eidolon isn't the best summon stone around, not by a long shot, but it does have its uses. Its summon spell, Latch On, deals a small amount of damage with the added chance of Slow and Paralysis. It works well against hardy enemies you need to take out of commission for a little while, such as Thunder Giants.

Item Shop:
Eye Drops
Gold Needle
Echo Screen

Final Fantasy 19: Wandering the World of Darkness: Leprit, Village of Summoners

Location: The World of Darkness
Party members: Badger, Ferret, Phoenix
Opponents: None
Items: Chocobracelet, Elixir
BGM: Final Fantasy III - Covert Village Falgabard

Filled with Summoners, Leprit is the World of Darkness version of the town of Replito. Small and quiet, these summoners live at peace with the natural magic of the world and dedicate their lives to the raising of Chocobos, which they unanimously seem to adore.

Item Shop:
Bottled Calamari
Toad Tonic
Titanic Pepper
Lunar Prism
Shivan Soup

Leprit is home to many interesting items that cannot be found elsewhere. If you have the money to spare, consider purchasing some Ottershrooms, which are convenient when you've run out of resources and need to escape a dungeon to recover.

The main hall of Leprit contains several Summoners who will explain various aspects of the game to you. One explains the differences between different types of magic. Another details all the positive status effects in the game, and her twin, the negative. Another gives various hints of how you might learn Ferret's new Vocalizations, while another vaguely references her Rage Gauge. They discuss the aspects of Ultimecia's Draw, Phoenix's Limit, and the powers of several characters you haven't even recruited yet. Also in the main hall is Rydia, famous summoner of Final Fantasy 4, who is in a panic; her friend Cecil just disappeared in a way that Badger connects as being oddly similar to Ultimecia's abduction. Hmm...

If you head over to the Chocobo corral and talk to the Yellow Chocobo, you have a dialogue choice between "Wark" and "Warrrk." Choosing "Wark" causes the Chocobos to perform a choco-dance. Phoenix's exuberant applause flatters the big birds, and they hand over a Chocobracelet to show their pleasure at your good audience skills.

The Chocobracelet will come in handy in Owl Tower, as it offers high Magic Defense and a large Speed boost. However, you'd best not equip it on the world map, as its regular Defense is quite low.

"But I'm back again!" said Norah!

Hi everybody! Sorry I was gone for so long. Life has been most involved recently.

For one thing, I got a new job! No longer do I work in retail; I am now a proud employee at Smashwords, an ebook publishing company, as a formatting editor! I'm moving up in the world! WOO-HOO!

The other thing that has come up aside from suddenly working three jobs is a host of new video games to be experimenting with (and parsing for use in my own ideas). I've decided I'm going to start doing some video game reviews on this blog in addition to my game ideas and League of Legends builds, because, why not? Specifically, the games I've been playing recently have been Gungnir; Elsword; Diablo 3; and Pokemon Conquest. So keep an eye out for those incoming reviews!

There's also a surprise for this blog I've been working on, but that's been going slower than expected. My lips are sealed on the details for that one, though; you'll just have to wait and see what that is!

Hopefully posting will become a regular thing again. Once more, sorry to have been gone for so long!