Part 15: Chapter XV: The Empire Strikes BackPardon the title, I couldn't resist. Let's get to Marlok and see if we can straighten out Stoll's situation.
This is going to be a big update, by the way, as there's a sudden attack of plot in this part of the game.
: "You didn't tell us the whole story! According to that man, you were the one who-"
: "Idiot! No matter 'ow much I pay for it, what's mine is mine! I 'ave a right to get it back, yes...? Never mind. All right, zen...this time, I 'ave you do some work where thinking is not required, yes?"
: "Fat greedy son of a...thinks he's smarter than us..."
: "Ershin says that we did fail the first job assigned to us. She also says it is unrealistic of you to expect to be given something for nothing."
: "All right, all right...I get your point! Poor Nina...because of me, she has to do even more work..."
: "Now how about a back massage?"
Poor Nina indeed.
: "I have been told that we should complete our assigned task as quickly as possible, that we may return and continue on our mission without further delay."
: "You're right. He said we should go to the Sandflier Wharf north of here, right? Let's go."
Let's go! Nothing can stop me now! I'm going to save Nina from the clutches of that old horny son of-
Nina can wait a little while longer.
We won't be catching all the fish in here for a while, but we can make some headway.
These guys are only slightly less prolific than jellyfish. They can be used as an item in combat to "cast" Frost on an enemy.
A recolor of blue gills, piranhas fight viciously for their size and heal 150 HP.
Bass are huge (aside from the shrimp I caught in this screenshot), fight like crazy, and are very hard to reel in with the starting rod. However, they heal 500 HP so they're very much worth the effort.
Alright, alright, I'll do what the plot wants. Everybody in here is running to and fro, sweating bullets and complaining about how Marlok practically works them like slaves. Let's find our job.
: "Well then let's not waste any time! I've got a job for you right here! First I need you to clean up this storeroom. You need to move all the barrels and jars and line them up where they're supposed to go. We don't need the old barrels anymore, so you can just break them if they get in the way! Pretty simple, huh? All right, get to it!"
This minigame is annoying. There's no time limit, but it's basically a pushing puzzle. Broken, rotting barrels can be smashed with Ershin's headbutt but cause random encounters. Cray then pushes around the other stuff and gets them in their assigned areas. I screwed it up and didn't get a perfect score, but screw save state spamming to get it right. It's not worth the effort. By the way, if I'm not mistaken, this is the first minigame we play that actually gives us Game Points, which are a mysterious number listed on our stat screen-okay, I'll level with you.
At set numbers of game points (10,000, 20,000, 35,000, and 50,000) you trip an invisible marker, and the next elemental dragon form you use (i.e. not Aura) gets upgraded to a more powerful form, with better stat boosts, a slight reskin, and an expanded move list. It's basically a way to guilt the min-maxer/completionist in your brain to play the stupid minigames as best you can, as only your high scores are added together in your game point score as far as I remember. Also, Ryu, Ershin, and a currently unseen party member all can attack people outside of combat (via sword, headbutt, and ?) for pocket change, but each swipe takes away a game point without telling you. Game points, and their connection to dragon evolutions, are probably the worst design choices in the entire game. It's easy to get through the game completely ignoring the system, yes, but damn if you don't feel a little angry that you don't have the +1 Dragons because of dumb minigames.
: "Well, it looks like you got everything straightened up pretty good...OK! Follow me - I've got another job for you!"
: "Ah....thank you. I feel much better now. 'Ow about you, Miss Nina? A little tired out, hm?"
: "Huh? Um...yes, I guess so..."
: "Oh, zen you are, eh? Well zen...I'll 'ave to give you a massage, zen, won't I?"
The word "massage" bounces slightly as he says it.
Nina yelps. That's...wonderful.
In the manga, Marlok tries putting the moves on Nina, but Cray busts back in just in time with a murder face on. I'm just gonna pretend that's what happened here.
: "Use this crane to load all those crates into the sandflier. We don't have much time until we set sail - get to it!"
Another minigame! Hooraaaaaaaaaaay
This one's not so bad, but it's touchy. Use the D-Pad to control the crane, left and right swivels it while up and down extend and retract it. Press O when over a crate to grab it, and press it again when it's over the right spot (the light blue squares) to lower it down for the most points. Use the shadow to judge where it'll drop. You have to put ten in within the time limit, which is actually pretty stiff. I didn't get perfect points this time, either.
: "Right then! Looks like we're ready to pull out. All we have to do now is..."
: "Ryu! Cray!"
: "Did zey do a good job zis time?...I see! It looks like you actually did some work, eh? Well zen, I will give you a tip for a job well done."
Oh you son of a bitch.
: "All right then! I will let you ride on zee sandflier, as I promised! And, I will give you zee VIP room, eh?"
At least we'll be getting nice digs. Maybe.
The box shakes around violently.
: "VIP room? Shyah! Some VIP room this turned out to be! Stuffing into these wooden crates like this...what does he think we are - cattle!?"
: "'Allo in zere! I would remind you, I am smuggling you into zee enemy territory. We must all make sacrifices, yes? Be a little more patient, eh? At least zis way, no one will find you, yes?"
: "Grrrrr! Why you greedy low-down...!"
: "Whoa! Cray! Calm down! Don't rock the crate like that!"
: "Thank you for your accomodations, Bunyan. The time has come for me to quit this place."
: "Fou-Lu...it looks like you're in a hurry over something...I don't need to know what, but tell me this - you were on the run from someone, weren't you? Does this mean there's going to be another war? I did my time, I've seen my share of fights. Something tells me that there's a big one brewing."
: "Thou...wert a soldier?"
: "Yeah...I was. Maybe it's just because I'm older now, but when I look back on it now, it all seems so pointless. I mean, sure, maybe when the First Emperor started it, that war had some kind of purpose, but it went on so long, it was as if the war itself became the purpose. None of us knew what we were even fighting for. The war took on a life on its own."
: "The mortals...they understand not..."
: "Forgive me...I merely spoke aloud mine thoughts. Farewell."
And with that, we leave Bunyan to his hut in the mountains and make our way down the path.
Snapflies use fire magic on you, but are incredibly weak to it themselves. We aren't in a position to exploit this right now, but Fou-Lu can still kill them in three swings.
La de da going down the path...
Hey, it's everybody's favorite, General Yohm!
: "Even if Your Majesty is still not fully recovered, you are still a god, one of The Endless. Even if you do not avail yourself of your powers, the act of simply speaking your own name creates a ripple in the world large enough that those sensitive to such things can sense your presence immediately."
: "T'would appear...that thou wouldst not have us enter the Capital by any persuasion."
Boss Video VII: Khafu
Note: There's a cutscene at the tail end of the video, which I will not be transcribing due to tons of motion at the end of it. If you want a summary, Fou-Lu is smug, Yohm admits that Fou-Lu is regaining strength quickly, and threatens to just go find Ryu and kill him instead. This freaks out Fou-Lu, who morphs into a dragon and flies off. Yohm then sends a second Khafu after him, and it beats the shit out of him since he's not fighting back, sending him crashing into a forest.
Back with Marlok, we see his sandflier pulling out of the Kyoin docks.
: "I don't think I've seen anyone who cares about making a profit as much as he does!"
: "Tell me about it! Just look at the size of those crates he's bringing in!"
: "Yeah, well, I suppose you have to be like that to make the kind of deals he does...we're on opposite sides, remember?"
Dragon Bait and Dessert wander off.
: "Yep...now that we've come this far, there's no way we're going back without Elina!"
For people wondering why a border guard didn't check the crates, the manga actually answers this with further explanation: they do. They have false bottoms, and are filled up with apples to cover them.
Kyoin itself is a tiny little outpost around a large tower, mostly with soldiers who want to go home but are stuck until the Causeway gate opens. You ain't missing much when I skip it.
This is the inside of the tower, crawling with monsters and a couple random, unimportant items.
You climb stairs, get outside the tower, and ride these elevators. That's about it.
Here's the Causeway's sole new enemy, the Gonghead. It throws itself at you to attack and deals surprising amounts of damage.
At the very top of the tower, there's a little elevator so you can go back down quickly. Would have been nice if there was a call function for the damned thing.
And here's the Causeway itself.
Suddenly, the lift lowers, and the sky begins to darken.
: "The lift!"
: "What the...!?"
A bunch of lightning strikes at once, all focusing on one spot just at the edge of the pathway.
A card appears...
...which spirals out into four cards...
...which open a gate...
That shoots out MORE lightning bolts. Pretty awesome.
: "It looks like it's been activated..."
: "Well, what are we waiting for, then? I guess we're supposed to jump there. Come on!"
Oh God damnit. Captain
: "...All right, then. Just who taught you people your manners, hmmm? Who do you think you are? This belongs to the Empire! Did you think you could just walk right up and use it without asking? Hm?"
: "We don't want any trouble...I don't suppose you'd be willing to let us go, would you?"
: "I'm afraid not. I owe that runt there for what he did to me. That hurt, you know!"
: "All right, if that's the way you want it then. You must be pretty brave, coming after us by yourself...brave...or stupid!"
: "Sticks and stones, sticks and stones! I came alone because I don't need any help to deal with the likes of you!"
Boss Video VI: Ymechaf, or "A Demonstration Of Insomnia-Induced Hubris"
: "The gate! It's...closing!? Move! Go! Go! Go!"
See ya, sucker!
It's really a wonder how the game handles the reveal of Ryu being a dragon with such shock after so many lines like this.