"He lit a torch!? Holy shit! Get that boy on the phone!"
Maybe by "his abilities" they mean "is able to fuck up so spectacularly he comes out as a hero", what with dying like a bitch. Shit, Kukuru didn't even die.
Polta: Oh, Arc! My baby...
Polta: Why must all whom I love leave?
: Mother, this is not forever. I shall return.
: I've just been summoned to Palencia. Perhaps they wish to recruit me.
: If that is the case, the pay will be handsome, no doubt. I can send money home, Mother.
And then Arc hightails it the hell out of there so fast I didn't have time to screencap it.
Cheer up, emo kid. Being abandoned by your entire family isn't that bad.
At least ONE man in her life manages not to get himself offed in ten minutes after setting foot out of the house.
What is this? The two main characters, on a romantic walk in the forest!? DATING!?
I guess not. Either that or chivalry truly is dead.
Took long enough. Hey, did they answer that "why am I lighting a beacon" question of yours?
: They say that Seirya is a country founded in harmony.
: And that the Sacred Clan is the family who weaves the harmony together. Like a tapestry, see?
: The daughters of the Clan are the weft of this tapestry. When the world is about to end, it predicts, the warp shall appear.
: The weft and the warp shall come together to make the world new.
: I believe it means that I am supposed to help you.
Leap in logic, anyone?
A rough analogy on this: "The prophecy says that someday, things will be bad. A guy will walk by when it is. You'd better hope he weaves better than you do, sister."
: It doesn't mean I love you or anything...it's destiny.
Worst pickup line ever.
: I didn't take it to mean that. But, it does call to mind what I was told on the mountain.
: Something about humankind dying out and my destiny...I don't know.
: Anyway, one thing is still clear. I must find my father.
: Nothing can happen for me until I leave this village...I'll find out more at Palencia Castle.
: Arc...I...I'd like to follow you.
: Arc, it's important. I must follow you, because our destinies are intertwined.
: I don't know why I know that, I just do. You are the warp that will point the way.
: Warp? Way? What are you talking about?
Lines like this are why I really, really like Arc. Great character. How often do you hear the legendary hero going "I'm hearing voices and shit, so I'll use this as an excuse to look for my missing dad. Also: you make no fucking sense."
: My path. My destiny. My way! After you go, the way shall appear.
"I intend to follow the newly-made footprints you leave."
: I...I can't explain it very well.
I don't think anyone's arguing with that!
: In the ancient manuscripts, they wrote about our special abilities.
: I'm not ready to leave right now, but soon, after training in these abilities, I shall follow you.
: I see. Well then...to destiny!
: Arc, be careful. For me?
In case you didn't feel like reading all that, the basic point is that the characters have no idea what they're doing. "Plot flow? This is an RPG! We'll travel to different countries based entirely on personal hunches!"
The world map... well, the Seiryu map, anyway. There's different maps for different countries, which we'll be coming to soon enough.
Also of note: as you get characters, more happens at the bottom of the screen.
Also well worth noting:
Secret save screen! The map doesn't tell you this, but you can press the square button to save your game. This is what's known as "design that could've been handled better". (To be fair, it does ask if you want to save before you go into a battle area.)
As was somehow integrated into the story, Arc's next destination is Palencia Castle, so the logical thing to do is return to his house.
For herbs! We're still at a stage of the game where these will heal a character completely, so this is quite a bonus.
What the hell, Mom. This is the kind of thing you bring up during your extended goodbyes with your son who is about to head out to find his missing father.
Oh, it's just some crappy tutorial. Sorry I yelled at you, Mom. The less prominent the tutorial is in any part of a game's required introduction, the better. Okay, moving on.
The Empire is manufacturing clones! They're evil!
This is Poco. He's handicapable. He's also probably the only sprite duplicate that anyone's ever recruited into their party. That's why the army coming out of the castle is more disturbing to veteran players; I'm sure anyone who's new to this probably just saw it as general NPC copying to conserve the designer's sanity, but to anyone who's played the game through it's an entire squadron of Pocos.
Still better than a harem of Kururus, though. At least Poco can meatshield.
: No sir, I wouldn't think of it. I'm Arc of Touvil, I was summoned by the King.
Guard: Arc of Touvil...well, really! We expected someone more...uh, grown up.
Guard: Regardless, you are expected. Proceed to the King's audience chamber. Straight ahead, then right.
: Yes, Your Majesty.
King: Word of your brave effort to light the Flame Cion again reached all the way here. It is said you possess unique abilities.
: I was given a gift on the mountain. By a Guardian, I think.
King: So, did this...Guardian...speak to you?
: Yes. It said humanity is dying. The end of our race is near.
If this weren't an RPG, he'd be in a psychiatrist's office right now.
King: Humanity...is dying?
Minister: Curb your malicious tongue, boy.
Minister: Your Majesty, don't trouble yourself with these wild imaginings.
King: The end of the world...
King: ...My brother, the Crown Prince, said the same words before he disappeared.
King: I must ask a favor of you, Arc of Touvil. It concerns an artifact known as the Ark.
Minister: We are not sure yet, Majesty, if he is the hero or not. It is too soon to tell him of sacred things.
King: Well, what then?
Minister: Would you permit me, Sire? I have an idea.
Minister: Arc, we must make sure that you're genuinely blessed by the Guardians. There is a plain called Colbo to the north of here.
Minister: Prove your allegiance and ability by exterminating the monsters there. Our army has already departed. If you hurry, you may catch them.
Minister: I shall wait for the result of your quest breathlessly, as will His Majesty, I'm certain. I pray that you do not disappoint us.
: Yes, sir.
King: We wish you success and await your return, Arc of Touvil. Godspeed!
Hmm... Let's not go to the plains just yet. I want to annoy the king some more.
Arc makes them taste the justice of his Angry Face.
: Please...help...help...I don't wanna die. Ooooh.
: I thought...wait! You're not a monster.
: Nobody in my unit was here!
: I was hiding b-because I think they have all been killed by the monsters!
: What a poor excuse for a warrior!
Arc offers a caring ear.
: My name is Poco.
: I never wanted to be a warrior, honestly. I'd rather play music than battle with filthy beasts.
: I'm Arc...from Touvil. I have been sent by the King to exterminate the monsters here.
: Well, as you can see there are no monsters here so let's go -- before that changes!
: Okay? Let's go...hellooo? Why are you just standing th...
I like how Poco's character is all flighty and timid, and yet his character portrait clearly gives off a vibe of "Hey, baby. Yes, you come here to me."
RESIDENT EEEVIL... THE LAD.
: Oooh -- monsters! Whadda we do? Whadda we do?
: Don't turn to jelly! Stand your ground and fight them.
: But I don't have any weapons, just my band instruments!
Okay, being a reluctant soldier I can understand, but not leaving behind the weapons they've presumably issued to you.
Let's be honest, though. It's fucking impressive that he can hold all those instruments. I'm convinced that Poco's not fat, but just weighed down by the entire orchestra he shoved into his pants. Where he'd put the weapons after that is a mystery.
: So, fight with what you have!
: What?!! But that's crazy!
: Crazy or not, you don't have a choice! Here they come!
Time for battle #2. Now Arc can hit enemies so hard they catch on fire. Why can't all games' normal attacks be as overpowered as this?
As for Poco, his attack power isn't great, but he brings four new spells to the table:
Speed Ocarina increases party agility, and affects anyone who is or is adjacent to Poco.
Battle Drum affects a fairly widespread area and gives the party a pretty big boost in the damage department. There is no reason not to use this buff.
Slow Bass reduces the agility of surrounding enemies. Or, you can just hit them.
Healing Harp heals Poco and anyone standing next to him. We'll probably be using this more than once.
Just a note on this, since most of these are ranged attacks: most every attack in this game can level up as you gain levels. Raising an attack's level raises the MP cost slightly higher, but with a few very rare exceptions, it also allows you to expand the area you're targeting. This is pretty fucking handy, since you can also choose lower-level versions of the spells to conserve MP if you don't need the range. (Admittedly, I am not the one playing this, and I haven't in years. I may be off on that "pick level" bit due to faulty memory, so if I'm wrong, someone point that out.)
As for Poco's standard attack?
He goes the cartoon route and smashes enemies with giant cymbals. I decide to leave the slimes to him.
"Every monarch loves hearing the last survivor of his armies is the lone pussy."
Now that Poco's joined the party, you get to see him chase a bat on the map screen. Uh.
Getting more party members also changes the save screen. Let's make Poco feel at home.
By forcing him into more battles. I figure it won't hurt to put the guys in a second battle together to prepare them for the next area. They each gain something like two levels.
Okay, enough fooling around. Back to the king, who I'm sure has been thinking of nothing else but Arc and his sexy, sexy headband since his departure.
Minister: Then why, pray tell, was your return not accompanied by the battalion?
: If you please sir...I...I...I...I...I...ohh.
Minister: Speak up, soldier. Who are you?
: Yes, sir. I'm Poco, first snare and cymbal in the drum corps.
Wait. They sent the army's BAND to fight the zombies?
Like I said. Poco's fucking impressive if you think about it. Just imagine a squad using Battle Drum and then smashing shit with a guitar.
Minister: You were at Colbo Plain as well?
: Yes, sir. The corps were destroyed, sir.
: Well, all except me, that is.
Minister: What?! Destroyed?
Minister: He must be lying. That battalion was the best unit in the country.
Wow. This kingdom is severely underfunded.
Seriously, Poco is a badass. You'll admit it when we get to game two.
Minister: So, you lads just happened to escape unharmed, did you?
: No, we exterminated the monsters as requested, sir. Your test, remember?
: Unfortunately, the monsters there appear to be limitless.
King: What? Limitless, you say?
Minister: How may we believe that you have beaten the monsters who have bested our finest?
King: Monsters at our doorstep! How? Why?!!
Minister: There is no time for delay. Why haven't they been engaged in battle yet?
Guard: They have bested every infantry squad we have put before them. They seem invincible!
They only sent the drum corps, and it WAS defeated, so technically this is correct. I don't really think it's time to give up because of that, though.
: If His Majesty will just watch, I shall demonstrate the power granted me by the Guardian.
: Let's go, Poco. We have monsters to slay!
King: I must admit that I am curious to see them in action. To the balcony, then!
: Oh no! It's Kukuru!
Funny, I said the same thing.
: Arc, what's happening?
: The monsters have followed us from the plains! We need to stop them, HERE!
Kick, punch, it's all in the mind.
Fucking. Useless. Bitch.
: I trained in the...special skills...like I said, so I could...
: ...follow you. But, I think it was a little too soon to fight so...hard.
: I'll be all right if I can just rest a while.
: Don't say any more. Conserve your strength.
: Boy, she looks awful. Look at her face! She's white as a ghost! We'd better get her inside.
I got two new pieces of equipment from monsters in the middle of that battle, a magic card and some boots.
One thing I always found disturbing about the results screen is that while everybody else is walking normally, Kukuru's hair and clothes are flapping around like she's going through a wind tunnel. Show-off.
: I did tell you I was blessed by the Guardian.
Minister: Impudent boy!
Minister: I would advise that you choose your words more carefully and be mindful of whom you are addressing.
...Andel...ANDEL?! Now where have we heard that before?
King: I really don't mind. These children saved our hides.
King: Pfft. Arc, pay no heed to Andel. He has control issues.
Yet another thing I love about this game: the king isn't fucking oblivious to his scheming underlings.
King: So...now that you've proven yourselves, I wish to ask your help in finding the legendary Ark.
King: But before we go into that...
King: ...I wish to speak of the legend from the ancient texts, and about my brother.
King: According to the legend, humankind once nearly died out because they angered the gods with their greed.
King: The King of that time made his way to the heavens to plead mankind's case with the gods.
King: At the same time, two who were warned about the end of the world by the Guardians...
King: ...journeyed to Seirya where they sealed the inheritance of humankind in the Ark.
This is just a convoluted mess of RPG keywords. GODS blah blah blah GUARDIANS blah blah blah SAVING MANKIND
King: Nowadays, everyone refuses to believe the legend...but...my brother sincerely believed it.
King: He left for Millmana 20 years ago to stop the war between their country and ours...and hasn't been seen since entering Toyoke Forest.
Minister: My liege, you should not speak such things to strangers.
King: But, the things he told me about the legend have come true! Monsters HAVE appeared, and strange things HAVE occured.
King: Arc, you must go to Toyoke Forest to learn what my brother may have seen, where the Ark is, and how it may be opened.
: Your Majesty, if it pleases you, I wish to accompany Arc and Poco as well.
King: And who is this beautiful brave warrior?
: I am Kukuru of the Sacred Clan, Sire.
King: Ah yes, the lineage of White, protectors of the Flame Cion. I see.
Sacred Clan? Lineage of White? Uh...
: My power was granted not only to serve the royal family, but to shape the future that the hero will bring.
: I have learned these things from the ancient manuscripts.
Minister: Hrmph! Well then, this quest is convenient for you, hm?
King: I see. Kukuru, you may accompany them. My personal airship awaits you at the royal skyport.
King: We are now depending on you. I pray that you do not disappoint.
: Leave it to us.
Summary for the lazy: "My brother left, like your dad. He wanted the Ark, which is made of
You get: a frickin' sweet new bike! Things are looking up for our heroes.
Mirror: Fool! You allowed him to be seen in the King's eyes as a hero.
Minister: It's too early to regard this upstart as the hero, but he should be watched.
Minister: He and his companions are leaving for Millmana now.
Mirror: Then we'll let General Yagun put him to the test there. The General will settle this either way.
Mirror: Do you still doubt that this lad is the hero of legend?
Up next on Arc the Lad: Someone gets naked!