An answer to Roar's question: Going solely on the basis of game genres, Arc the Lad is very similar to Final Fantasy Tactics, in the sense that Metroid is very similar to Castlevania. There's a difference in how much freedom each game provides you, though.
Whereas FFT allows you to choose the number of party members you have, what classes they are, what skills they learn, and when, Arc the Lad limits you to the number of characters you've found through story, and these characters each have a very specific set of skills that are learned at pre-determined experience levels (well, most of them anyway).
Battles run a bit differently as well. As I said in the first update, your turn ends as soon as you cast a spell or attack an enemy, you can't attack and then run away like you can in FFT. Spells are a little different as you can't aim them at a blank tile; even spells with an area of effect have to be centered on a specific unit. Oh, and you don't have to wait for the spell to be cast, it happens immediately.
Lastly, enemy levels are determined by area rather than the level of your party, which can create some tough situations, as we'll be seeing a lot in this update.
Of course, there's tons of other smaller differences, but these are the ones that would throw off veterans of another strategy game. I'm hoping to cover any of the other more subtle quirks Arc the Lad has through this Let's Play. (And what he doesn't, I will.) And on that note, let's move on to the next update.
Goin' back to Seirya!
Here's some better pictures of the "flight" movie. Actually, I think it's a slightly different movie. We need an entirely seperate one to have the arrow pointing in the opposite direction, you know.
But before that, two new areas have opened up in Seirya. Surely good level-building spots!
I found a better analogy for this, for FF geeks: "Slyph", the summon in FFV. Deals a little damage, splits that damage as health. When the enemies do it, it murders Kukuru! Weak bitch.
For the record? This screen is a death animation. Cherry blossoms = that character croaked. Unless it's someone we'll see soon...
Um... or not. For some reason, the designers decided to provide us with two new spots filled with enemies we shouldn't actually be seeing until the end of the game. Even if their gigantic area-of-effect spells don't kill us in one hit, we'll barely be nicking them when it's our turn to attack. Oddly enough, these areas also contain a few of the lowest-level enemies in the game, so I guess the point is to come back much later and see how far your party's come. For now, though, it's just here to make us feel bad about ourselves.
: Yes, it does seem like ages since we left.
: I bet no one believes what a great warrior I've become. I know I don't!
Who's the private dick that's a sex machine to all the chicks!?
: Well, that was the elite corps. He must be a fairly dangerous criminal.
: I don't know. He didn't have the eyes of a criminal...
Guard: You're back, young Arc! Have you succeeded in carrying out the King's request?
: We did exactly as requested, yes. Mission accomplished.
: Say, who was the prisoner those guards just dragged into the castle?
Guard: Oh, he's a guard from town.
Guard: I heard that he was actually an outstanding guard, but...
: I suppose he's done something terrible to end up in restraints.
Guard: You didn't hear it from me, but I think he was imprisoned for his beliefs.
: Yes...go on.
Guard: The minister wants to evict many of the citizens of Palencia to allow room for more guards.
Guard: He wants to have a military state where no one can move without his knowledge.
Guard: It's not popular with the people, as I'm certain you can imagine. They are rallying in protest.
Guard 2: Hey, you talk too much! Your tongue will be the end of us both!
Guard 2: Arc, the King is awaiting your presence. You should go...
Once more: great game. Where else would they be going "There's unrest in town..." "YOU IDIOT! We'll be killed! Guys, you never heard that..." It just seems more natural than most dialogue.
Poor guy gets KICKED into his cell.
Guard 2: I can't believe that one of our best would turn on us.
: I haven't turned on anyone. You've been blinded to the truth. I had to defend them.
Guard 1: YOur first allegiance is to the King. YOu chose to forget that.
: No! This time it's different. Innocent people, my people, are being killed! Don't you care?
Guard 1: I follow orders. That's it. If you had done that, you would still be out here.
Guard 2: Hah, hah, hah! Try not to think so much.
: What about the people that live here? Have you no conscience?
Guard 1: That kind of talk is for the philosophers and politicians.
Guard 1: Get some rest. You're going to need your strength...
Minister: Excellent. The King will be pleased. I'm certain.
Minister: Unfortunately, he has taken ill, and cannot hear your report in person.
Minister: Arc of Touvil, I shall hear your report and relay it to His Majesty. Proceed.
Minister: Let's hear it.
Captain: The rebel Tosh has been captured and immured in the dungeon.
Minister: Excellent work, Captain. We had bett...
Minister: Ah...Arc, I'm afraid I have rather pressing business to which I must attend.
Minister: I shall hear your report at a later time. You are dismissed.
: Yes, I noticed the change in his voice when he heard the news.
: I wonder...
: I wonder when we get to eat. I'm starving.
: Poco. Now is not the time for jokes.
: I wasn't joking. I'm really hungry.
Their home country is being taken over by a militarist government and people are getting jailed for protecting innocents from being killed, but Poco knows where his priorities lie.
Dude is a one-man army. That makes you hungry! Didn't you see Dragon Ball Z? He eats like Goku!
To everyone who just laughed: fuck you, you got it too.
: It will have to wait. We need to check up on the Minister.
: Poco, you know how to get to the dungeon, don't you?
: Yes, I know how. But I'm...
: No time for excuses. We must see what's really going on here...
: Lead the way. We're right behind...
: ...but, I'm afraid of...
: ...well, it's off limits...
: ...and it's...it's...kinda...you know...stinky.
: Ooohhh...I have a very weak stomach...
Badass or not, I have trouble defending Poco during moments like these.
I will, then. Dungeons smell like shit. I've been to some. Castles smell bad, really.
Guard 2: Hey! Bad news! It's death.
Unaltered dialogue, by the way.
Guard 2: The minister is adamant that we cannot have a breach of security at such a critical time.
: He believes that I pose a security risk? You cannot be serious. He massacred my family, my clan!
Guard 1: He's deadly serious, as you are soon to discover.
And for the people at home: you'll see why he fears Tosh soon!
: I fail to see how trying to stop the eradication of my clan makes me a security risk!
Who is the man that would risk his neck for his brother man? Tosh~~ Can you dig it?
Guard 1: Your failure to obey the Minister's order betrays your allegiance.
: He BURNED my village to the ground! He KILLED my father! What did he expect?!
Guard 2: Allegiance.
Guard 2: Listen, if you had just kept your mouth shut, you'd still be one of us.
Guard 1: You should have known you couldn't stop it. All you did was seal your fate as well.
Guard 1: But, if you're going to bring trouble on the Guard, good riddance, I say.
Guard 2: Pfft. I'm with you there. We don't need any more chaos.
Guard 1: I pegged you for trouble from the start, and you turned out exactly as I imagined.
Guard 1: Hah. Don't get all worked up about some slight that passes my lips.
Guard 1: Believe me, you have much bigger things to worry about now.
Guard 2: But not for long. Hah ha ha ha!
Elder: Tosh, we are outcasts from society.
Elder: But always remember the people who still need our protection.
: I like the view of Palencia from here the best.
: Even our humble hovel looks beautiful from this serene vantage point.
Elder: You are ready to care for the clan, Tosh. I shall retire to this place and leave them to you.
Holy shit! I hope this guy joins my party!
Remember, kids: Redheads are badasses. (This is also why nobody pisses off my Irish mother.)
Guard 2: Yesss, the once-great King grows weaker by the moment.
Guard 3: These lands are so corrupt and twisted with fear, we won't have to do a thing. They will fall of their own accord.
Guard 1: Palencia first, my comrade. Then the rest shall tumble before Romalia.
Who's the cat that won't cop out when there's trouble all about? Tosh~~ Right on!
And you thought Arc was impressive when HE set a guy on fire with his sword. Tosh doesn't even have the excuse of "Guardian did it".
Guard 1: Grahhh! You'll not leave here alive! How dare you challenge the King's guard!
: The charade is over! I'm the only real guard here!
: I shall put an end to your heartless slaughter of the innocent!
Guard 2: Killing people? That's your life story, isn't it? Thank the gods it's almost over.
: Silence! I don't think you're in a position to dictate my fate any longer!
Guard 1: Possibly true. Then again, perhaps not. GET HIM!
: It is handed down by our clan. The legend says that its shining precedes the hero.
: The mirror is blessed with the power of the Guardians.
: I know whose side I'M on. COME ON!
Kukuru brings out her girly deus ex machina vanity products to save the day. Except it doesn't actually seem to be working right. Shouldn't it have been shining the entire time Arc's been there? Or is Tosh secretly the main character of this game?
Finally, a battle. Albeit a really easy one, now that we have Tosh on our side.
In case you haven't been reading other people's posts, they say this cat Tosh is a bad mother
Shut your mouth!
I'm talkin' 'bout Tosh!
Then I can dig it.
As others have said, Tosh is awesome. He's got AT LEAST second best attack power, and he's got a big array of powerful attack skills, although none of them are available to us at the moment. Tosh is the major reason to level somebody other than Arc; anybody who doesn't is missing out. Tosh can kick ANYBODY'S ass.
Except ninjas, who can turn into logs to dodge attacks.
And here's something else ninjas can do. I tried to get a shot of this last time, which is probably why Arc ended up dying.
: So tell us, why were you made their prisoner?
: Forget it. It's in the past now.
: Besides...it's best if you don't get involved.
: But thanks...for the thought.
He's a complicated man, but no one understands him but his elder. Unfortunately, we won't be seeing Tosh again for a bit.
: Yes, Sire.
Minister: An obvious lie! This is not the son of royalty!
Minister: Your Majesty, surely this whelp is a rebel spy...
King: A rebel...? We really don't believe such a lad as this could be a spy.
King: Arc, do you have any evidence that you are indeed the son of my brother?
More reasons to love the King. "Fuck you, he helped us. I still want proof, though."
: The Guardian said she had received this from your brother.
King: Why, this is the Hero Crest that's been in the royal family since times immemorial.
Oh yeah, about the Hero Crest.
We'll be keeping this with Arc for quite a while, if not for the rest of the game.
Some of you might be noticing that the 4 spots for items don't correspond to body parts. You can wear shoes on your "head" or so on. Any mix of four is allowed so long as you have 4 items.
King: You give me hope, my lad...my brother may yet draw breath.
King: What is the connection between the Ark, the Guardian, and my brother?
: I'm afraid that's unclear, still, Sire.
: The Guardian said he had made a pact with her about the future of humanity.
King: Humanity's future? What on earth have we done?
: In the name of greed and ambition, we have pillaged the land, endangering our future.
: The natural balance has been upset, and we are at risk of paying the ultimate price for our folly.
King: Seirya is known as the Guardian's Home. Is even our sacred land not exempt from this peril?
King: I fear my brother left our family because he could not bear to accept such a reality.
So this explains why the King didn't know about Arc being his nephew; Arc didn't even exist before Yoshua disappeared from the kingdom. And why did he leave the kingdom? He was depressed about all the trouble and strife in the world, so he did what any of the rest of us would do: run away from home and start making babies.
King: So then, my friends, where does that leave us?
: I don't know. But, the Guardian said to await guidance from my father back in Touvil.
: I would ask permission to pursue that course.
King: I see. Of course. Set forth at once. I shall assist you in any way I can.
King: That is to be my role. I sit on this throne, after all, only because of my brother's absence.
: Thank you very much, Your Majesty.
"Oh yeah, that reminds me. King, most of your guards are monsters. And, uh, we killed most of them. While assisting Tosh in his escape. Well, bye!"
Shit, show him the corpses and the King'd believe you. Why doesn't anyone think of this?
Mirror: You have a keen sense of the obvious.
Minister: His power seems to have grown since he was here last.
It would have grown more, but SOMEONE is balancing the levels...
Mirror: I see. I shall warn the generals of this nuisance.
Mirror: YOU must keep him from discovering the Ark, fool.
Minister: I...I shall not fail you.
Minister: I plan to search Touvil for a message from Arc's father. If I get it first, perhaps I can slow his advance.
Mirror: I'm looking forward to hearing a good report from you...for a change.
Minister: Yes, Master!
ENDLESS SUPPLY OF HERBS! I mean MOM! NOOOOOOOOOO!
: Arc, what...what happened?
: Is the rest of the village destroyed as well?
: Demolished. There's nobody anywhere to be seen...
: Something very bad got here ahead of us. Someone or something knew you were coming...
: I feel so helpless! I don't even know where to start righting this wrong!
Alright, show of hands. Who read this and went "Doc Brown?!"
Letter: Dearest Arc, I've heard about your exploits. It's been ten years since I had to depart, my son.
Letter: As you heard from the Forest Spirit, the world is near its end. The Ark that will save the world is in Seirya.
Letter: However, to gain control of the Arc's power, you must seek out the Guardians of this land and obtain their blessings in the form of Power Stones.
Letter: Most of them have been hurt by humankind, and have closed their hearts to us.
Letter: I want you to turn the Guardians' eyes from the greedy ones, and help them to open their hearts again.
Letter: While it's true that I once lost all hope, I haven't surrendered in the struggle to believe in mankind.
Letter: The Ancient Book that will guide your journey can be found in the circle of stone, at the Ancient Monolith near Touvil.
Letter: I know this letter must come as a shock to you, my dear son. I only wish I could tell you the story in person, Arc, and reveal what must seem such a mystery to you.
Letter: But, unfortunately, I have my role to play, and this is your destiny. You must find the way by yourself. Love Always, Yoshua
: I just wish Father were here to guide me in person. I'm...so confused. However, the fate of this world lies with me, so I must act decisively.
: Poco, Kukuru, I cannot guarantee anything at this point, but I would be honored if you joined my quest.
: I'm not so strong and maybe not so much help, but I'm not afraid when I fight by your side.
: Besides, running away won't solve anything, so I'll stick with you.
: I told you when you started this journey -- we share the same path. I can't quit now.
: Well then, where to start? I have no clue as to how to find my mother.
: I only know that these events are all pieces of the same puzzle.
: Our first step should be to find the book Father mentioned.
: Let's go!
Before we leave, we check the house for treasure.
I have no idea what this does. Neither does the game.
I'll spoil these for you later, one way or another.
Well, let's go see what this Ancient Monolith looks like. I bet it's impressive!
It's a... penis statue?
: This is the place my father described in the letter.
: Whew! That was quite a hike. I'm pooped. I'll just take a break here while you rummage around, okay?
: Look! Arc! What's this?
: It looks like some kind of writing. Let's see...
Please note: we're fighting in Lavos' spare living room.
I got some pieces of equipment during the prison battle that raise hit success and dodge success rates. Let's see if they help. No
The giant blue guy in the middle has some spells he likes to pull on you. Being put to sleep before you even move around isn't an especially good thing.
Especially since those flames aren't just decoration.
The Big Blue Bastard (hereinafter referred to as BBB) also has explosion spells...
...and blizzard spells. Fortunately, after he casts about three or four of those, he runs out of MP, so you're free to run around after that.
Also note the continued Lavos parallels. Don't some of those attacks look familiar?
Oh hey, Poco's Battle Drum leveled up, so now he can point it at people. Unfortunately, it also costs more, and despite what Syrg said in the last update, you can't go back to lower levels of the spell. (Hey, I couldn't remember that, either.)
Kukuru's healing spell also levels up, meaning she can cover a wider area. The fact that her healing spell levels up before Poco's means that it is, in fact, more useful than Poco's, at least until the party levels up some more.
Actually, I'm not going to be harshing on Kukuru as much as Syrg is. The first time I played this game, although I overleveled Arc, I actually ended up overleveling Kukuru at the same time, and that worked out quite well for me. As for her spell list, she does have some unique spells to herself, particularly Resurrect, which is something every party needs, whether or not only one character needs it. I remember Divide working well too, because although it splits life among the party members standing near Kukuru, it also damages all ENEMIES standing near Kukuru, if I recall correctly. You just need to keep them even. I also don't condone Syrg's argument that Divine Judgement is not useful because "You'll never get her to a high enough level to earn this at any useful level." Yeah, if you left Arc at level 5 he would probably suck, too.
Speaking of Divine Judgement, we get it in this battle.
Apparently it does suck here, but I should state that, to be fair, it's hard to make the BBB take more damage than that. Even Arc's Meteor Shower doesn't deal more than 8 damage, and it's more likely to deal less than half of that. But you can't just move in to attack, because BBB will lay the smack down.
He does over 25 damage, which is enough to take your character out in two hits. And if he manages to counterattack YOUR attack before even taking his turn, killing all your characters isn't very hard for him to do. Which actually happened to me twice, before I discovered his secret weakness:
STONES. They can do as much as 23 damage coming from any character, which is twice of what any other attack manages to accomplish, and they keep you far enough away to avoid being hit.
You know, it's weird. I didn't think the designers EXPECTED players to level only Arc, but that's what I've done in the past and I don't remember having that much trouble with this battle. And if you haven't been leveling him properly up until now, it's hard to do it once you're to this point, because the only areas you have access to are one spot where the enemies are incredibly underleveled, and another two spots where they're incredibly OVERleveled. It's hard to level Arc or anyone else at this point in the game, so it makes me wonder if you were indeed expected to make Arc plow through everything up until now.
It takes all nine stones in my inventory to take the BBB down. With the Hero Crest giving Arc the ability to recover MP each turn, he could've just stood a safe distance away and cast Meteor Shower over and over, but with the 4 average damage it does and the fact that BBB must have about 150 HP, it wasn't exactly preferable.
To quote squid battleship guy from Wind Waker, KABOOM!
In case you didn't notice, BBB was holding that guy throughout the entire battle.
: Fortunately for you, or that monster would still have you!
: Excuse me, but who are you?
: I am known as many things, but most commonly I am called Gogen. I have waited in there over 3,000 years for you.
: You came here for the ancient book, didn't you?
: So, you mean you...?
: Yes. I'm "the book," here to guide you on your quest.
: Ho, ho, ho, ho, haaah...
Is this one of those puns that got lost in translation? Or has Gogen become senile in those 3,000 years?
: All right...now that the laughter is out of your system, tell us, what do we do to gain the power of the Ark?
: Well, since I'm awake again, that must mean there is trouble among the Guardians.
: You ought to save the five Guardians who bind this world together.
: Yes, that's what you ought to do.
: I think.
To answer your last question, Spoon: the latter.
: Five Guardians? Keep talking.
: Yes, yes. They...organize this world and control it.
: Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, and Light.
Screw that, I'm calling the last one Heart.
: If the Guardians accept you, they'll give you the stones that embody their power.
: Collect the five stones and break the seal of the Ark.
: So, okay...how can we find these Guardians?
: You probably already know the answer to that. Tell me, who or what led you here?
: Led us...the letter from my father?!
: And where did that come from? Hmmm?
: It's from Alatos! We must travel to Alatos!
: That's quite some distance from here.
: We'd need an airship.
: All right, we'll ask the King for help. He said he'd help us.
: You guys seem to have your minds made up. Now, shall we go?
: Oh! You're coming with us, then?
RUN POCO! RUN FROM THE FLAILING OLD MAN!
: Don't you know who I am, plowboy?
: I'm the Book! I mean...
: I'm Gogen the Great. The Great Gogen, ancient magic master. Er, master of magic.
: So you mean you can use great magic, too?
Yes, that's what we need, another magic user. When will you come back to us, Tosh?
: Perhaps you're still a little groggy...
: All right, enough of that. Let's get back to Palencia!
: Boy it feels good to be out of that rock! Hee hee! This is going to be fun!
: Do you have a Romancing Stone, boy? Wait up!
We somehow just got the second Romancing Stone from that. I guess I'll give them both to Gogen, he seems to know what they are.
Gogen sleep-hovers over the screen, not caring that he's had the past 3,000 years to get some rest.
Well, it seems the group is going to have to ask the King for the airship to continue their little journey. But will the king give up his personal flying vessel for the length of an entire round-the-world trip in order to allow a kid to look for some rocks? I don't think he will!
Up next on Arc the Lad: The King is negligent with his belongings!