Part 5: Update V: An Alchemist and her Spelunking Adventure
Hey! Can't you hear me calling you!?
Minister...my name is Sterkenburg. I would really appreciate it if you would call me by my name.
Music: March of the Bad Person
Meet Meredith. He's notable for being the only human antagonist (sorta) in this trilogy. I say that because he is the one putting his signature on completed Assignments, and he is the one coming up with them. Basically, the King of Arland gave the workshop a chance by giving them the Assignments, and Meredith is charged with issuing and approving them. Meredith wanted it closed down right away.
Hmph. No deal. Anyway, what happened to that workshop? Wasn't today the deadline?
She actually did a great job on completing the assignment.
Why would I do such a thing!?
This line depends on what happened at the end of your previous Assignment. If you had to have Astrid bail you out, he'll say the above line, then the conversation returns to Meredith continuing the conversation like normal. If you passed it, regardless of rank, Sterk will say the results were fair and he had no influence on them. I wanted to use the latter to keep continuity with the end of the last update, but my screenshot of Sterk's line seems to have disappeared.
Tsk! Those brats at the workshop... How annoying... If the King didn't decide to give them a chance, the workshop would've been shut down right away! He never does his job, but he always has to have his say on important issues...
I can't overlook someone disrespecting our King, even if that someone is the Minister.
Hmph. You, nor the King, have any idea what this is costing us. Or how much the kingdom would profit from constructing factories in the area of that workshop...
The overarching plot of this game is amusing to me. Basically, this advanced kingdom that has the technology for computerized bulletin boards and factories dotting the city wants to get rid of the workshop. So as Rorona, it's up to you to actually stand in the way of progress.
Of course. A mere knight like me could never understand something like business... However, you've already agreed to the King's decision. You shouldn't complain about it now. I understand that you only agreed because you didn't think this was going to last, but...
Grh...! It doesn't matter. She may have passed this time around, but she'll fail sooner or later.
*sigh* He's such an intelligent guy, but he's way too narrow minded...
*fade to black*
Video goes until Rorona says "I hope he doesn't get in trouble for helping me...
But I have to start the next one right away...*sigh* I hope I can keep this up for the next three years...
I thought you'd be more excited about getting through your first assignment.
Huh!? Whoa! St-Sterk...? What are you doing here?
Rorona's mind has to be in another world with how dense she comes off at times.
I'm sorry. I was just... Oh, do you need something?
Yes. I wanted to talk to you about your future assignments...
Did I make a mistake? Did I fail to do something?
No, it's not...
Are you taking away the workshop!? It's all my fault! Ahhhhh! What do I do now!?
You shouldn't take everything so negatively. I know you're used to doing that under Astrid...
*sigh* Well, it' more like... You looked so angry...
...I'm not trying to look angry, but I guess that's something I'll have to work on. Anyway, back to the topic at hand...
I heard that you went outside of town a few times for your assignment. Is that true?
Yes. I needed to get some ingredients that the shops here don't carry.
Did you go alone? Or did you have a guard?
Well, I went with Cory and my other friends...
Friends, huh? Alright, but keep in mind that it's very dangerous outside of town.
But..if I don't get the right ingredients, the workshop will...
That's true, but if you get seriously injured trying to save the workshop... I know this is because of the King's order... I'm sorry, I shouldn't be so hard on you.
However, you can't... Hmmmm... Alright, how about this? I'll tag along with you as much as I can whenever you leave town from now on.
Of course. That is, if you don't mind.
Oh, no, of course I don't mind! But are you sure? Don't you have your own work to do?
You're a resident of this town. It's a knight's duty to protect the residents. Besides, it's not like we're extremely busy all the time.
Of course, it's likely he does stuff off-screen, but Sterk's job really seems to be the middle man between Rorona and the Arland government. Can't blame the guy for wanting to have something to do.
...So the knights don't have anything to do?
Oh! I'm sorry! I didn't mean it like that.
...Don't worry about it. That's all I came to say. Let me know whenever you need me to come along with you.
...Did I make him mad? I hope he doesn't get in trouble for helping me...
Now we can hire the powerhouse that is Sterk from Assignment 2 on. He's pretty expensive to hire, as it should be, but he'll absolutely devastate anything for a while. If you're planning on spelunking in the next big area we'll be visiting this update, you'll want Sterk around.
I wanted to end the last update with that conversation between Sterk and Rorona just there, but it was running a bit long. I'll try to make sure to have these Assignment begin screens leading an update from now on if I can at all help it. In the future and now, I'll use these screenshots to give a brief overview of the Assignment.
This is your first real Assignment. Unlike last time, we need to beat this for real. Although you can cheese this Assignment by buying Phlogistons from Hagel and spamming Bombs, going into next area will be your first real test of not only how to sustain your party through a taxing adventure, but also making sure you're prepared by bringing synthesized items on your quests. I'd use this Assignment to bring up your Adventurer level, as the next big area in the game (which won't open until October or so), has the game's first formidable enemies. In addition, it's the first time traits really begin to matter, as making powerful items will start becoming more and more important.
This scene triggers when the second Assignment starts and you go to any of the stores in Artisan's Way. Video goes until the screenshot of Rorona talking about how happy Tiffani is all the time.
Ms. Tiffani, are you going somewhere?
Oh, uh, are you here to shop?
No, don't mind me... Where are you going?
I'm going to go visit my husband's grave. I wish I could go more often, but I'm always too busy...
Do you remember Nakagawa commenting that he wanted Tiffani's theme to reflect a "light in the darkness"? This is what he was referring to. What I do like about Tiffani's character is that she never radiates angst when it comes to the fact she's a widow. It'd be understandable, but it's refreshing to have a JRPG character with death of someone close to them in their backstory living life normally.
Oh! I'm sorry...
Oh, no, it's completely fine. I'll be back in the evening, but the shop will be closed all day today.
Hehe, thank you. I'll see you later.
Next up is definitely stopping by Hagel's shop. He'll be giving us a couple of things that'll be keeping us busy this Assignment and next.
Hey, kiddo. Good timing. I think I Might be able to help you with your request.
My request...? Did I ask you for something?
Didja forget already!? Remember, you were talking about how you wanted some equipment?
Really...? Great! I spent so many hours thinking up good ideas for you...
I-I'm so sorry! Um, so were you able to make something for me?
No, not yet.
Well, I can make you weapons, but I'd want to sell them to other customers, as well. Otherwise, you'd have to pay me a ton to make custom equipment just for you.
B-but I don't have any money...
I'm aware of that! So I was thinking about a way to cut down on the budget... The only way is for you to go gather the materials yourself.
Ooh, that's a good idea!
This is gonna be a lot of information, but listen carefully.
Okay, let's talk equipment synthesis. Hagel here is going to give us a recipe book that will allow us to forge ingots and cloths. Ingots are for new weapons, and cloths are for armor.
How it works is simple. By finding materials we can make those two items out of, we can return to the atelier and forge them into their respective items. We can pick and choose the traits to assign to the new equipment. Once the new synthesis items are made, we bring them to Hagel and ask him to make a new weapon or item with that item.
For those more familiar with the sequels, Rorona is quite a bit different when it comes to equipment synthesis. Instead of each ingot type being it's own item, what happens in Rorona is that the ingot item has 8 outcomes, based on what items were used. For example, if I were to use two Pebbles, the worst item item I can make ingots out of, I'd end up with a Tinc ingot. If I used the next tier of materials to make an ingot, I'd end up with Dry Metal ingot. If that came off strangely, I can post a short video detailing what exactly happens with the synthesis of ingots and cloths.
We do have to pay Hagel to actually do the forging process, but it's chump change typically. In addition, if we wanted to recycle an ingot or cloth because we liked the traits, we could pay Hagel to break down the original product back into what we made it out of, but be warned it may not end up the same way it came in. You can preview what will come out of the deconstruction process before you confirm.
...And that's about it. Do you have any questions?
Just one...where can I go to find...ummm...what did you call it? Ingots...?
You can get there on foot. It's to the West from here. All the metals in this town used to come from there.
This I find odd. I would think someone would have a problem with us going in and taking whatever we wanted from (presumably, because we never hear about other sources) the kingdom's main source of ore, but apparently not. Video game logic, I suppose.
Oh...okay, I'll go check it out later!
Just be careful when you go there. And make sure to get the best materials!
Since the materials for making the stuff for this Assignment is found the Mines, there's no better place to start with this Assignment.
Music: Sneak Peek! Adventure in the Cave
Sterk's stats speak for themselves. He'll regularly be outputting 2-2.5 times the damage our next most powerful hitter, Iksel, can. And that's only taking into account his normal attacks. His skills will devastate most anything here, and he's enough of a meatshield to take a lot of the pressure off your other two party members.
This scene triggers after you finish your first battle with Sterk. Video goes until Sterk talks about heading out.
What is it now? The battle's over, but don't let your guard down.
...I'm just surprised to see how strong you are.
...Did you think I was useless?
N-no! I didn't mean it that way...
Even though Sterk does come off as pretty harsh sometimes, he does have a nice smile.
(I didn't think Sterk would ever joke around...)
...Although, not all of the knights are strong. Some knights don't even know how to hold their swords correctly... But I'm getting off topic. Let's head out.
I ran into it before off-screen, but this is the first time I've shown the fact that some enemies will wait by the exits of areas to fight you. There's no way around them, so if you want to proceed deeper into the Mines. This fight is enormously hard without Sterk, and if you want to try beating it without him, you'll definitely need plenty of Bombs.
Music: Ultimate Rondo
Sterk has our first AoE skill. The area in blue indicates the number of enemies the next attack will hit. As a general rule, AoE skills are more valuable than single hit ones, but it all depends on context. Using it on bosses or a single powerful enemy is a waste of time.
But first, have some scene-setting screenshots
Unlike Ortoga and Nearby Forest, we can't just bring Iksel to any sub-map of the Mines to get the unique material for this area. There are a few areas you can get this scene, but we want to go here in particular because of a valuable material in this map. Video goes until Rorona says "No, thank you."
Lemme see... It looks fresh. Should we take it?
What kind of egg do you think it is?
Yeah, but like...from what?
Some creature? I don't know.
Well...do you think it's safe to eat?
Why not? It's an egg. I'll make a special giant omelet for lunch. Wanna join me?
...No, thank you.
This is what we wanted to gather for our first step. "Attach Water" means that in addition to the regular damage from an attack, "Attach x" adds elemental damage to the attack. So, by adding all four elements to a weapon, you could be doing more than twice the amount of normal damage. Very, very handy.
Let's head back to town for now to have Hagel forge some new equipment for our current party members.
This is the first of a few scenes you'll get if you craft a certain item. There's a few for the weapons, but quite a bit more for armor, since armor doesn't need to be limited to just one party member. Video goes until Rorona says "Um, okay...but it looks like it'll break if I swing it around...".
There! It's done, Kiddo!
Thank you very much! ...Um. What's that on the end of it?
Huh? It's a siphon. Don't you know that?
They keep talking about siphons in this scene, but I honestly didn't know it was a noun at first. Basically it refers to a tube that has the shape of an inverted U, which is used to draw water from one source of liquid to another. The siphon takes liquid from the source higher up and moves it to the lower source.
I have to side with Rorona here. Seems like a silly thing to put on a staff.
I do, but why is it on a staff?
Because it looks powerful that way. A good staff usually has a crystal or a gem at the end of it, you know?
These scenes are all pretty great. Not only do they occasionally give us an insight into some of Hagel's stranger hobbies, but he also gets to comment on some strange JRPG conventions, like powerful staffs having crystals or gems on them. That's certainly true from my experience.
Yeah, but a siphon...?
Trust me, it'll work. Try holding it. Ooh, it looks good on you. You look like an alchemist.
Um, okay...but it looks like it'll break if I swing it around...
Do you see the "Fish Busting" effect there? There's a number of "x Busting" effects in the game, and what it does is that for x, which indicates a species of enemies, that weapon has a 100% chance of a critical hit. Pretty handy.
This next scene happens in Sunrise Cafe assuming you've found Triberries, Mudheads, and Some Eggs.
Hello! It's busier than usual around here.
Yeah, thanks to you.
Me? I didn't do anything...
You know how we've been going to different places together? With all the new ingredients, I was able to add more to the menu. Everyone seems to like it.
Oh...I wanna try some of your new dishes.
Sure, just hold on a minute. It's all on me today.
He's only selling Some Egg right now as a new item, but the more places we bring him, the more he'll have to sell. That's why it's a good idea to bring Iksel to every location, even if you don't plan on getting his events or ending.
Really should have mentioned it earlier, but this is the Container. The Container can only be accessed from the atelier, but it holds 999 items at opposed to the Basket's 60, and items will never deteriorate while inside. Before I started playing this game on an HDTV with component cables, the words for each item were actually pretty hard to read for me. Technology is wonderful, indeed.
Something else I should have brought up earlier is that you can't just buy willy-nilly from shops. They do have a certain stock for each item, and if you buy all of a certain item, you have to wait until the 1st, 11th, or 21st of a month for the shopkeeper to restock.
Returning to the Mines...
I was wrong about Lightning being an element in this game. It's indeed Wind, but from what I remembered about the game, only lightning attacks caused that gauge to go up, hence my confusion.
It's pretty easy to tell when your character gets a critical hit. The camera will change to feature something that looks like this. The damage from a critical is about 50% greater than a normal hit.
This is the reason I left the Mines early. This big rock blocks your path to the second half of the Mines, and you need a Bomb to blow it up. Your bomb has to be of a certain quality to actually destroy it, and you have to destroy it with a single Bomb, instead of multiple Bombs.
Rorona chucking the Bomb. What happens after the Bomb goes off is that the object trying to be destroyed shows a health bar that indicates how much damage it did. I would have taken a screenshot of this in-action, but a PSN notice accidentally appeared while that was happening. Really have to remember to turn them off, but I'll show it off later.
This isn't the only destroyable object in the Mines. There's some smaller boulders that take good Bombs, but there's an area that contains multiple rocks that take extremely powerful Bombs to destroy. At a minimum, around 90 quality. Since we can't hope for Bombs that good this time around, we'll be back.
This next scene happens the second time to return to Arland with Sterk in your party. Video goes until Sterk says "...How can anyone under that woman's guidance turn out like Rorona?".
You don't need to thank me.
I have to start synthesizing right away. Excuse me!
She needs to calm down a bit. But I'm glad she seems to appreciate my help.
How gentlemanly of you, Sterkenburg.
...You should stop sneaking up on people. And I recall asking you to stop calling me that.
I don't like saying your real name every time, but I know how much it bothers you.
So...what do you want?
What's your plan?
What do you mean?
I want to know what you're trying to get from helping Rorona.
Nothing. I'm helping her because I want to. That's all there is to it.
...Hmph, fine. You're not the scheming type, anyway. However, if you're doing this to make yourself feel better...
How dare you!? Neither the King, nor I expected you to make Rorona take on these jobs for you!
You're losing it, Sterkenburg.
Sterk is a class act, so I wouldn't worry. Still, this scene would come of as really awkward if NISA kept Japanese Rorona's age at 13 for the North American release (as I have been informed). Astrid's probably just teasing him right now, but still.
I am not like you!
Hmhmhm, I'm just joking with you. I'm glad you're still the same nice guy.
What is that, sarcasm?
It's called a compliment. Relax. Anyway, as her master, I guess I should officially ask you... To please take good care of my pupil.
And don't do anything to her. Rorona is mine.
Hahaha. The angrier you get, the more suspicious you make yourself look.
...How can anyone under that woman's guidance turn out like Rorona?
This scene happens approximately 5/6 when you go to Tiffani's shop. Video goes until Barney says "Is he abandoning us!? Wait!".
I'm sure she will if you get her attention.
I-I can't do that! Why don't you go!?
But it's not like being jealous is gonna help at all... I should hurry up and finish shopping.
Dammit. I don't wanna waste my day just waiting around again...
It's a good thing Tiffani is probably the most well-mannered character in this game, because I'd imagine anyone who took it more seriously would be very creeped out by several men older than them ogling them all the time, even if they were shopping. Still, I like the mental image of these guys hanging around the shop all day, just stealing glances at Tiffani every time they can.
Awesome! You're our savior!
Our futures all depend on you now!
Everyone is so excited. Wait, I know that voice from somewhere... It is you! Dad, what are you doing here!?
Music: Dota Dota
It is just me, or does Ryan remind anyone else of the guy from Hotel Dusk? It's gotta be the coat, and the mild facial hair.
I can't believe you... I'm telling Mom about this!
W-wait! You've got it all wrong! Rorona...!
Oh no! Our savior!
Is he abandoning us!? Wait!
This next scene will also happen at Tiffani's. Seems to be a couple weeks to a month after the last event. It might also have something to do with Tiffani's friendship level. Video goes until Rorona says "*sigh* ...I don't understand any of this".
He's here again...
Don't you remember how upset Mom got last time?
Th-this is different! There's a reason for this...
Listen. Tiffani is young, beautiful, and foremost, a widow.
How would I know!? Stop not making any sense!
Hey, Ryan is right!
Justice is in our hands!
Ryan! We should go grab some drinks sometime!
*sigh* ...I don't understand any of this.
Well, at least Ryan and friends aren't total perverts, but it's still really weird. Still, I wouldn't count on Rorona catching on any time soon.
This scene happens whenever you visit Rorona's home and there's some materials waiting for you. Video goes until the screenshot where Rorona complains about her parents leaving her behind.
Oh? Is that a note? "Rorona, we're going on another trip. We'll be gone for a while. I've left a souvenir for you from our last trip. Please take good care of it." Signed, "Your Mother."
Rorona just sounds so defeated when she says this line.
Scene happens on 6/1
This scene only happens if you saw the scene with the pigeon earlier. Video goes until the screenshot with Sterk and the black background.
I'm just checking to see how you're doing on your assignment.
Oh...sure. I'm not having any problems so far.
You don't look very enthusiastic.
Oh, does it show?
I know it can be annoying if I keep bugging you about it, but...
I'd just like to remind everyone we saw the pigeon some five months ago in-game, and Rorona is still thinking about it. Everybody loves pigeons, but still.
You mean the pigeon?
...That bird is my pet. If you want, I can bring it with me next time.
You can!? Oh, thank you!
*fade to black*
The following scene seems to happen after you bring Sterk out 4 or 5 times, regardless of friendship level. Video goes until Rorona says "I guess he's dealing with a lot of issues himself..."
What is it?
Yes, it's fine. There's not much work for me to do around there anyway.
Oh. So what do knights do all day, anyway?
Well...there's a variety of things we have to do.
Seems like Rorona isn't much into subversive fantasy.
Sounds like somebody reads too many fantasy books.
Oh...yeah, I guess...
...Well, I don't blame you for that. That's what I thought too, before I became a knight.
But, I can't think of any other jobs a knight might do...
Most of it involves paperwork and dealing with the mangement, like Senior Esty. Sometimes we patrol the town. Fixing old buildings, breaking up drunken fights, picking up trash and cleaning the fields...
...That sounds really boring.
It is, but it's a sign of peace. Sometimes, though, I start to wonder... Does this kingdom really need knights?
I do like the overall background of this game. In its own way, it explores a world in transition from an era when people like Sterk would be needed to one that they really aren't needed in. It's all pretty-lighthearted, of course, but it's a theme I don't see too often in games.
It's a pointless thing to talk about. Just forget it. Come on, let's get back to work.
I guess he's dealing with a lot of issues himself...
A neat little detail I didn't notice until recently. You know how Rorona could see Ortoga Ruins from Arland's Square? If you look closely in the background in this screenshot, you can see Arland from here. I always love when developers give you that kind of sense of scale, when you can see playable location from another spot.
Agh, yes! I-I'm f-f-f-fine! Ouch!
...Did you bite your tongue?
Just don't talk. I'll give you your evaluation while the pain in your tongue goes away.
...Looks like making bombs isn't your forte.
Ugh...I mean, that's not the only thing I'm not good at...
You passed, but you haven't made a good impression with the people of the palace. I hope you can turn that around.
Looks like you fulfilled your requirements. But they're very mediocre.
Medi...? Is that bad?
It's not bad, but not outstanding either.I'm expecting you to exceed our expectations next time.
This is perfect. These bombs will go a long way in speeding up the mining operations.
Really? I'm glad to hear that...
I'm sure you'll do just fine on your next assignment. It's going to be a bit of a strange request.
The next assignment is a bit of a strange request...
Normally there would a smooth transition from the 8-10 stars to Sterk's dialogue giving you the next Assignment, but not this time. In the future, whenever alternate dialogue is available, I'll put it in italics.
Here's the book. It's been stored away in the storage room for a long time.
Th-thank you. Um, so I can make anything that's written in here?
My decisions... That's so much pressure...
Road to Arland
Sneak Peek! Adventure in the Cave
Voices echo in caves and tunnels. Kid's are usually fascinated by that effect. I wish there were a button to press to make her scream in the cave...
I used the accordion for the main melody in most boss songs, but I used a keyboard and a little wind synthesizer for this one. The differences between those two are very subtle; it all depends on whether you can create a chord or not.
March of the Bad Person
I was told to make something that portrays a bad, yet clumsy person. I think I did a good job in combining those two ideas.
This brings back a lot of memories. Why two Dotas in the name? Because two is better than one!