Sorry this update took so long. It's been delayed for several reasons, including burnout after finishing the game, the fact that this update took TEN GAME HOURS to collect all the content, and the fact that I've been playing other games in the meantime. (Guitar Hero Rocks the '80s! Oh yeah! Palette swaps and less content for your money!)
Anyway, as stated, this update will be sidequest-centric. We've already covered the arena and the Zariban desert monster rush (if you can call that a sidequest), so next up is the Amaidar Proving Grounds. Remember where we picked up
Monk 1: Since your training journey is beginning, the first match shall be easy.
Monk 2: I pray it goes well for you.
There's more in that picture than there are on the actual battlefield.
Herein lies the gimmick of this particular sidequest: Each battle contains sixteen of only one type of enemy. We're well past the point where we were expected to do these battles, so most of these are a breeze. It devolves into a contest of who can hit the most enemies with one spell.
As it turns out, it's Arc with Gale Flash. Look at that range! I don't think even Disgaea ever went that far.
And here's an image of
In between battles, Mr. Know-It-All here will spout clever phrases of encouragement. Here's the complete list if you want to fill out your Golden Line Notebook.
Even the hare will bite when cornered.
Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without one.
The longer the night lasts, the greater our dreams.
A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials.
Great souls have wills. Feeble ones have only wishes.
Behind an able man there are always other able men.
Experience is a comb Nature gives to men when they are bald.
He who asks is a fool for a moment, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever.
Wherever you go, there you are. BANZAIII!
Ah, the lovely hemo-ji. Ruiner of dreams. Hogger of all the ugly. I could've done without ANY hemo-ji-related exchanges in this game, so of course the game deems it reasonable to provide yet another one after this particular battle.
: ...Okay, baby. I do "search" on him, and sketch for Chongara's book!
WAH WAH WAAAAAAAAH
: So, look on bright side...I add him to my collection.
: Chongara is too lucky sometimes! Heh, heh, heh, heh, haaah...
Okay, ugliness aside, the Hemo-Ji is almost completely useless. He starts at level TEN, and even then his stats are so underpowered he can get killed in one hit from enemies as early as the swamps. Why I bothered to get him to the level I did... But I digress. Hemo-ji does have one power that at least Syrg seems to like.
This is handy if you have someone you just want out of commission for a few rounds, say, if you're a looter like I am and you're trying to get Mofly to build a bridge to a chest.
Yeah, we've seen it already, but now we can do it to the enemies. (But it doesn't do any damage, so we got ripped off.) This skill will disable all enemy spells and lower attack power a bit, if only for a few turns. Also, it seems that two hemo-jis are incapable of attacking each other, as further exchanges between the two above characters resulted only in this:
GOT YOUR NOSE!!!
But back to the proving grounds.
I forgot to mention something interesting the flame enemies do, since it doesn't really come up a lot over the course of the game, but it's something I almost want to see more of.
Leave two sitting right next to each other, and they'll occasionally combine to form one stronger enemy. This technique was also used in Secret of the Stars, and we all know what an awesome game that was. Unfortunately, it wasn't put to very good use in this game, because the flame enemies are COWARDS. When given the chance to move, they walk AWAY from any available party members. This is why my mind was effectively boggled when the last Proving Grounds battle was just a bunch of high-level flames.
You can't take them out in one hit like the other enemies, but that doesn't mean they weren't easy.
The flames aren't the only enemies that move differently from others. There's also these... drunken... lantern-carrying things, whose movement is randomized. When this enemy's turn comes, you could see it walk right two spaces, walk back LEFT two spaces, and then walk up one space, and then stop, regardless of which direction the party is in. These things are unlikely to actually attack any of your characters unless they're already standing right next to the enemy at the beginning of the turn.
I notice Arc the Lad tries to do a lot of different things, like enemy splits and fusions, floor-making spells, teleportation, a whole bunch of weird experimental stuff that's not really tried in other games. The problem is that, as expected, a lot of this stuff doesn't actually work, like the alternate forms of enemy movement mentioned above. That's kind of why I like it, though, because even though a lot of it doesn't work, they still aren't afraid to TRY doing weird new things, which is more than can be said for most games. All in all, Arc the Lad provides a pretty refreshing change of pace, even if it's kind of screwed up for it.
Part of that's the fact that this was one of THE first games on the Playstation. Everything was new and exciting, and so they took quite a few risks, like, say... ending the game mid-story.
We've finished all the battles that are available, but there's still other stuff to do here, for some reason.
This starts a looong series of multiple-choice questions, which start out being legitmate trivia questions involving the gameplay and storyline, but which eventually start to turn silly near the end. If you mess up on any given question, you have to re-enter the temple and start from the beginning. I'll just include all questions and possible answers given for each, with the correct answers given in bold.
Question: Who is wanted by the castle guard for unspecified crimes against the King?
General Yagun has a pet. What is it?
What is Arc's full name?
Arc The Lad
What was the name of the monster that held Gogen?
Lord of the Dance
Where is Hemo-ji's native habitat?
What is the name of Arc's father?
What is Arc's mother's name?
What is the name of Kukuru's Clan?
Sacred Blue Clan
Sacred Fire Clan
Sacred White Clan
What is Poco's choice in comfortable adventure-wear?
Super Hero Cape
Who is the flight attendant on Silver Noah and a friend of Bach?
In what country did you discover spies?
Which symbol do you find on the save data screen?
What is the name of the Guardian Force at Chongara's shop?
The sequel to Arc The Lad...
is a 2600 port!
will blow your mind!
How many people are there on the staff that made Arc The Lad?
In the military office in the capital city, a dungeon with 50 basements...
has a secret entrance.
is being built.
is where they keep the dialog writer.
What lies at the very bottom of the Forbidden Ruins?
The Colonel's Secret Recipe
It's a Secret
How many people can you see when the door of the temple is open?
Which item did Chongara find at the Ancient Monolith?
Spawned from Darkness
In case you don't know what the hell this guy was on about, well, that's normal. But you'll be receiving the answer to at least one of those questions in this update.
Okay, what's left? Oh yeah, the Forbidden Ruins. You better sit down, we're in for a long haul. (Or I was, anyway. I was considering making a screenshot and short paragraph detailing each floor, but I decided I don't hate you that much.)
Things begin normally. We're now overpowered for the first few floors, so they're a reletive breeze. I decide to send some low-attack characters after the enemies for some free experience while we're making our way down.
We actually run into enemy types we've never seen before pretty quickly. But we're still overpowered for them, so it's hard to provide details on their attacking styles.
Part of the fun in going down is seeing what treasures there are. We pick up a fair number of unique ones, several of which are built specifically for one character. (Each character has two pieces of equipment made specifically for them by the end of this.)
Is that a Moai head?
...How do sunglasses PROTECT you from darkness?
Upon reaching floor 11, we get a new setting, as well as different battle music. The enemies also get a LOT easier; you might remember the zombies from the second battle of the game. Even if the party had made it down here back when this dungeon was first made available, these enemies wouldn't have been any effort.
The one-person winding passages get annoying fast, though. Ugh.
Pony pony pony pony pony pony pony pony pony
Yeah, as far as I can tell this doesn't actually do anything. If it does, it's very subtle.
It's something like "+5 hp regen per turn" for the whole party. It's not the best item.
Oh HELL yes. This, combined with some power-boosting equipment (like the Phantom Glove, which boosts anyone's attack power 50%), can turn any character into a killing machine.
Reaching floor 21 greets us with yet another background/music change. Enemies are getting slightly harder, but if the ninjas are any indication we're not even past the naked fairy lady level of difficulty yet.
"Cheer Trumpetin' With the Oldies! Sweet!"
THINGS THAT BOTHER YOU NEVER BOTHER ME
I FEEL HAPPY AND FINE
LIVING IN THE SUNLIGHT, LOVING IN THE MOONLIGHT
HAVING A WONDERFUL TIME
(BLATT BLAAAT BLAATT BLAT)
Suddenly I'm reminded of Billy and the Boingers.
Seriously, though, this item makes Poco a fucking monster in battle.
Why yes, I would like to make Tosh into more of a badass.
What? What are these doing here!?
This seems like a leap from the bats we've just been dealing with, especially since we can't use too much magic unless we want everyone to run out of MP before reaching the bottom. (Yeah, there's NO WAY of recovering it, and MP will carry over from floor to floor until we leave the dungeon. Not happening.) However, they're guarding four treasure chests, which are probably carrying some serious loot. So let's go for it!
We got this and some fruit or something. GOOD THING WE'RE PAST THE ONE PLOT-RELATED BATTLE IN THE GAME WHERE WE MIGHT'VE NEEDED THIS!
Floor 31 nets us another change of pace. God, how LONG is this thing?
Some stairways are cleverly hidden beneath treasure chests. Oh ATL designers, you cads!
Okay, so here's one more spot we could get inflicted with Hemo-ji condition. These are easy enough to take out without changing what equipment we're using, though.
Enemies are getting tougher. The red skeletons are from the desert and I haven't even seen those dogs before.
Floor 41 and still going strong. I think the stain-glass floors blew the creativity budgetprovided for the following floors, so each one has exactly the same layout but with different enemies.
Lots and lots of enemies.
This sounds cool but I couldn't get IT to do anything, either.
This item actually IS broken. It's one of many that gain some awesome effects in AtL II, though, so getting it to port it over's a fun idea.
Wow. That's kind of counter-intuitive, isn't it?
Seriously, enemies are getting a bit cruel here. Also, unlike some of the previous floors, you have to take three or four turns just to make it to the staircase, which means you'll probably have to deal with most of the onstage enemies whether you want to or not.
Yet another item that sounds cool but doesn't do much. Or if it does, it's hard to tell this late in the game, since all recovery spells heal well over max HP at this point.
AGH MAKE IT STOP
Floor 50... and uh... THAT'S not a good sign.
: Wh...who are you?!
Choko: Choko is scary warrior!
: If it's a fight you're looking for, you've chosen your opponents poorly!
Choko: Wait! You're not Arc...uh, are you?
: He is, indeed! Betcha you're scared now!
Choko: Choko not scared! What makes you think...
WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON
For once I'm going to agree with Poco here.
Anyway, it's pretty laughable that Choko brings out those two sidekicks, because they're NOTHING compared to her.
We can still do a lot of damage to her, but she has about 1000 HP so we still have to deal with her overly powered attacks for a while. Especially if we want to open all thirteen treasure chests in this room during this battle; we can't return to this floor once the battle's over, so we have to take them now if we want them. (As it turns out, it's all restorative items except for one, which contains Romancing Stone 4. Unfortunately, I've already missed my chance to get Romancing Stone 2, so I can't get the "1 MP spells" enhancement that comes from equipping all four, but we'll have plenty of game-breakage soon enough.)
Since we don't want Choko dealing too much damage while we gather the items, I get Tosh to paralyze slash her (it's the only move he still has anough MP for anyway). As it turns out, this was a mistake. Her paralysis animation:
I pull out Rai-jin and Fu-jin and beat the crap out of her. Anything to GET IT TO GO AWAY.
What is she, the bastard offspring of Chongara and Satan? Also: Precisely why is there a GIGANTIC CORPSE in the room? Is this what humans looked like before evolution turned them into the stunted forms we see before us? (There's similar debate regarding the introduction to Xenosaga, I understand.)
Choko: Guess what? Choko wants to be friends!
: Uh, friends??
Choko: Choko just tried to kill you, but it really was more of a reflexive thing than something personal.
Choko: So, we can be friends, right?
...What you just gave was a plead for insanity, NOT JUSTIFICATION FOR BUDDIFICATION.
Choko: The Summon Pot can call me out of here, but only in certain areas.
Choko: In Seirya, I can be summoned on Colbo Plain, Quina Hill, and Karagan plain.
Choko: In Millmana, in the Ruvag Woods, Nicarus Forest, and Sembara Marsh.
Choko: And, in Zariban, I can be summoned in Raiden Ruins, Salyan Desert, or the Ishima Rocks areas.
Choko: Unfortunately, those are the ONLY places that Choko can be summoned. But rules are rules, right?
In other words, no places where summoning her would actually serve any purpose, just level-building spots. I guess she could help with the water guardian quest or leveling Chongara, but we've gotten all the good items from the quest, and who wants to level Chongara?
Aww, she's so cuWHAT AM I SAYING
Anytime you return to this floor Choko will make the party dance with her. "Dancing" involves spinning all the characters around and Poco complaining that he's dizzy, so it was difficult to get good screenshots of it.
Instead, I decided to go ahead and walk ALL THE WAY BACK UP. Yes, we must traverse all 49 floors again, enemies respawned and everything. It was a bit easier since I had the Hyper Boots, which provide a 30% boost to agility, allowing Tosh to take a good four to five moves without the enemy getting a chance to do anything, which meant I could usually reach the staircase going up without any trouble.
That little mission took THREE HOURS to complete. That is, about a fourth of the time it takes to actually finish the game. (Well, okay, it took me fourteen hours this time, but I've done it in twelve before). I had savestates so it was somewhat easy on me, but think of the poor people who actually did it on their Playstations.
At least we have a lot of loot to show for it. We also have a new summon (sort of), so let's check that out.
Yes, Choko at level 1 is more powerful than most party members at level 50. No magic or skills, but who needs them when you have the agility to attack an entire battlefield with regular attacks before anyone gets to move (with hyper boots equipped)? Plus, watching a little girl beat the shit out of hordes of monsters is something like magic in itself. Black magic, but still.
Choko, should you get her in AtL II, will become more lethal than any other character in this entire series.
No, really. I mentioned that a powerleveled Arc made short work of this game? An underleveled Choko can slay everything. Period. There is no exception to this rule.
Aside from beating the Arena into the ground (fight 1000 battles for special prizes!!), we've seen pretty much everything this game has to offer. So what's left to do? POWER-LEVEL.
This is my final offering to the LP: A full stats comparison between all characters at level 50. The level cap is actually 60, and I'll probably get there before moving on to AtL 2, but I figured this was a reasonable enough point to get to for the purposes of this little extra. Notice that all the summons move farther per turn than most of the human characters do, and as sort of a counter-measure to Choko's messed up stats, she takes more experience to level up than the others do. Be thankful I took the time to gather this information; Hemo-ji was a pain in the ass to level up. Look at his defense! Just look at it!
Now that we're done with the LP, I'd like to take the time to ask some questions that could improve future LPs. How's the game coverage? Should I provide more detail on the battles, or has limiting it to new moves/enemies been a good enough system?
How about screenshots? We've been having issues with those, so should I reduce the quality, the size, or the number of them? Or should I just fish for responses so we can get new pages faster?
How about the story? It's not the greatest, so would you prefer the dialogue be summarized in sort of a mock conversation bit like some LPs deal with it, or do you actually like it all quoted verbatim with added commentary? Speaking of commentary, I know people have already been complimenting it, but should we keep the dual commentary between Syrg and me, or should we switch to just one person? Because this could easily turn into a regular feature (if he didn't have so many of his own projects to work on).
Note: These commentaries I'm adding in are the simplest of the myriad projects I'm involved with. Don't worry about my time, just answer as to whether it's funny or not.
And one more thing: I'm almost afraid to ask this, since I spent so much time leveling everybody, but I've been considering providing you folks with an option. As I said, I'm planning on playing through the game again using only Arc to battle enemies, to see how much faster I can beat the game. As I also said before, completed game data can be carried over to Arc the Lad II. So you have a choice: We can carry over the power-leveled save we've been dealing with here, with the shitload of items and level 50 characters, or we can use the Solo Arc save, where we'll have practically no items and only Arc will be over level 50, and everyone else probably won't even have reached 30.
The former provides an easier experience for me, and it might unlock more sidequests or somesuch as well. The latter provides a more "authentic" game experience, since relying heavily on Arc is what most people did to get through the game. It also means I'll probably be dying more, although I'm not sure how entertaining that will be for you since this is just an image LP. Anyway, the choice is up to you. You deserve it after a game that doesn't even let you choose party members or rename your characters, or whatever it is you kids generally get to pick.
My recommendation? Go with the balanced party. It's way too much time to show you the comparison between the two since we won't see most of the characters for a few hours , so stick with the one that rewards the shitload of effort put into this.
Also, if you have an Arc-only party in II, you get your ass handed to you so much more until you level everyone else up. It's a much more balanced game.
Possible quirks aside, I hope you all enjoyed this LP. Until next time!
Up next on Arc the Lad: A black and empty void!