Part 45: Chapter XLIV: Holy Shit There's Plot In This One
Yes, plot will make its long awaited return. But first, the rest of the filler needs to get sorted out.
These are the En Jhou Ruins, an optional side dungeon that a lot of people probably missed. You have to ask where it is in Koshka after talking to Fu Chuman, then come here only to be confronted with a dilemma.
There's absolutely nothing here, or so it seems. This old man in a side room bemoans the fact.
However, there's a cracked wall in the dead end room nearby. Use Ershin to smash it down, and you get access to the ruins proper.
The place is extremely run down and full of ivy and huge roots, as well as a ton of cracked platforms, jumps, and twisty mazes.
One new enemy is the iBombs, who buff themselves and use Air Raid until you get their health low, at which point they'll use Sacrifice and blow themselves to kingdom come.
The Snapflies from Fou-Lu's mountain adventure are back, too, and their weakness to fire is now very exploitable. If you deal enough fire damage to them, they change sprites and become Stingflies, who are much faster and prone to fleeing.
I'll skip over the ruins exploration as it's rather sprawling and doesn't have anything of major interest. Our real prize lies at the bottom.
Note it said Earth Gem (which is Behemoth's), but it's actually the Flawed Gem. This gives you a better idea of the form's true nature.
Mutant is like Dan from Street Fighter or one of the many other joke characters that seem utterly useless, then have something they can do that is completely amazing.
You can probably see from the screenshot that Mutant's HP is very low compared to other forms. This is because all of Mutant's stats plummet except for Wisdom, which skyrockets. Mutant's breath attack is also very unique in that it actually has a scaling level system. While you might think that it's based on how often you use it, it's actually based on - surprise surprise - Game Points. Upgrading Mutant to Punk gives you a free level, in addition. It maxes out at Level 6 with 16 hits (the same as Kaiser Breath) at a mind-boggling 62,000 Game Points.
Mutant's major strength, though, comes from its ability to nerf an enemy's stats to oblivion. Its breath attack (in addition to being incredibly goofy) has an incredibly high chance of slicing the enemy's attributes in half, while its natural skill list is designed to debuff. While very situational, this means that Mutant/Punk can be utterly devastating in the right hands.
Also, now that we have all the dragon forms and abilities, I can finally post the compilation video I've been promising. Do note that I recorded it near the end of the game so Myrmidon's actually Knight in the video, which is why it looks different.
Compilation Video: Dragons Are Weird
In addition to that, our excursion gets Ryu to a high enough level to qualify for Lyta's next move.
: "I shall do my best to aid you in whatever small way I can. Here, take this Holy Strike. It may be of some use."
Like Flame Strike, only it makes demons and zombies cry for mommy. This is going to be an extremely useful move for a good chunk of the last dungeon.
So, now we can get around the checkpoint, and keep heading down towards the capital. Astana, at the moment, only holds a shop with incredibly handy but ludicrously pricey weapons, as well as a bunch of refugees from the capital.
This area. Good God I hate this area. It's only one screen with a deceptively simple but twisty path through it, but there's a reason I hate this screen.
Every single Nut and Bolt can appear here, and they will wreck your shit. Bolt Mages are so fast that there's no feasible way to outrun them at this point, and they open every fight with a very potent Silence spell. If it doesn't stick, you can use combo magic to nuke the little jackasses into oblivion, but otherwise it gets really annoying.
At least we get a new move for Ursula. Like with the Gulpers earlier, this lets her steal AP from an enemy. Like with the Gulpers earlier, this almost never works.
When we leave this area, we get a plot related cutscene!
: "Do you think the monster that appeared in the capital has something to do with the other Ryu?"
: "It's possible, I suppose...there's something more I'm more curious about, though...why hasn't Captain Ursula here turned us over to the Imperial troops yet? What're you up to, eh? What's your plan?"
: "I have no 'plan.' I am simply going to meet the general who have me my orders and to place you under his custody. That is all."
: "So that's why you're heading toward the capital, eh? You've heard the same stories - the capital's been laid waste. How can you be sure this general of yours is still alive?"
: "General Rhun is a veteran of many campaigns! It will take more than some monsters to kill him! I'm sure he is waiting for me at Army headquarters."
This Rhun guy sounds like a badass if Ursula thinks he's awesome, but if A-Tur is anything like Won-Qu, his days may be numbered.
Hey, look! It's Bunyan's place! A quick run up a cliff and we can give him a visit.
: "You come all this way looking for me? What would you want with this simple hermit?"
Dude, you're Bunyan. You aren't a simple hermit.
: "...I can see from your eyes that you have a purpose in your life. I thought I had done my part and was finished with the world, but it would appear not. You may be able to do some good for the world with the knowledge I've gained over the years. First, you must train your Vision. Seeing your opponent, and being able to gauge his ability, is perhaps the most vital skill in battle. Who will train with me?"
Just as Bunyan was the first Master in Breath of Fire III, he is the final Master in Breath of Fire IV. His requirement is simple: unlock every other Master. His Will is incredible: it sets the apprentice's base to-hit chance to 100%. As for his stat progression, it's...underwhelming. He's an inverted Marlok. +1 to all stats is not worth the brutal hits to HP and AP.
: "Whether you win or lose a battle depends on one thing: when the time comes, are you prepared to strike, and strike without hesitation? Come back when you have dealt 3,000 or more damage in one hit. Farewell."
3,000 damage in a single hit? That's nothing. Gimme that move, mountain man.
: "Back already, eh? I figured you might be back about now. Well? Have you been able to improve yourselves since we last met? ...I see. You are learning even faster than I thought. I knew you had potential, but I hadn't guessed this much. It appears you are ready for the next level. I will teach you another one of my skills. Use it wisely."
Yes, the first skill bestowed by the most powerful Master is a pimp slap.
This move is completely worthless. Its only use is to knock someone out of confusion, but there's other ways to deal with that. Bunyan's other skills are better, though. His next requirement is 8,000 damage in a single hit, which is a ways off.
So, this is the next stop on our journey to the capital.
But first, an opportunity!
This is the final fishing spot of the game, and surprisingly a rather mediocre one. There's only a single unique fish here, and it's pretty lackluster as a consumable item. Let's leave that for later, though.
At the Checkpoint, there's a huge mass of soldiers, each one in mortal terror about the state of the Empire. One just laughs uncontrollably, several talk about the massacre at the Capital, and a few even mention thoughts of desertion.
: "That's right. I need to see General Rhun."
: "Captain, the capital is all but lost! The General's pulled back to Astana."
: "What's the current status of our forces? How many troops do we have left?"
: "I don't know, ma'am. You'll have to go to Astana and talk to the General."
Yyyep, back to Astana we go. But first, another pit stop at that ? to check out the monsters in this region, because they're quite noteworthy.
Gold Flies are giant piggybanks. If you're able to kill them quickly, they drop huge amounts of zenny for how easy they are to kill. It's nowhere near as profitable as farming Gold Gangs, though.
That's just for two of them.
This is one of two enemies that only show up around here and one other place. You may notice it has a ton of status effects on it: Silence, Blind, and Poison to be precise. Its bio suggests curing it, and doing so gets a new message:
This is sort of obscure. Using water magic on it does nothing, but using a Croc Tear (those really terrible healing items you probably used up after the first dungeon) fulfills its request. By the way, as you fulfill its requests, it's probably kicking your ass up and down because it's surprisingly strong.
Charity pays off with Lampkin, who heals up your party before running.
Palliate is likely the strongest single-target healing effect in the game. It's essentially a guaranteed full heal if you put it on Nina.
Now, there's another enemy, the Poppy, who you can do much the same thing to. However, instead of being grateful, something else happens.
The son of a bitch spams Curse, a move that can halve the HP of all enemies. Handy to have, nasty to face.
After tucking these moves in our belt, it's time to head to Astana.
: "Looking for the General, ma'am? Then you should go through here and up to the building on the hill."
: "You're just going to go up there and hand Ryu over to them, just like that!?"
: "I told you from the beginning that's what I intended to do."
Cray is really bad at pattern recognition.
: "Look at it this way, Cray...if we don't find out all we can about the Empire, we won't know anything about Ryu's other half, the first Emperor, either. Besides, I think Ursula has also realized that even if the Empire does get a hold of Ryu, they can't do anything with him."
: "Look at it this way: we're all right as long as we have Ryu with us."
We'll head to that house in a moment, but what's through this glowing door?
Oh right. The Carronade.
: "Kinda creepy, isn't it?"
Heading up to the firing room, we find someone at the controls.
: "Heh heh...just kidding."
I have Ursula shoot him. Just because.
Next time: we finish Act III.