Part 11: Episode IX: Clowns Are Scary
Today is Chrono Cross' 10th Anniversary
Out into the world again. This time we'll actually get to explore a bit of the areas we were herded away from initially in Home World. The Fossil Valley is where we're meant to go next. But, let's take a little detour.
The Hydra Marshes still rest to the east of Arni. There are very few areas in the game that do not exist in both worlds. Granted, that doesn't mean they won't have major differences.
Music: Island of the Dead
The Hydra Marshes, for instance, are a hellish toxic wasteland in Another World. It is no doubt those filthy dwarves' doing.
"But the real cause was us humans killing off the flora and fauna. I hope we don't come to regret the destruction we caused!"
"So this started when the creature the swamp is named after died but it was really caused by when the creatures the swamp was named after died...? Thanks for the heads up Captain Redundant."
The Hydra Marsh comes off as an area you shouldn't be exploring at this point. The water in the area is acidic and damages health at a rate of about 10HP for each party member per second. Seeing as most of the area is covered in the corrosive water and the most HP any party member has is less than 70 hit points...sort of not the best idea to be playing in the woods.
Well, unless you're looking for a situation where you get massacred in about ten seconds if you get into a fight. However, there are a couple of decent Elements to be collected here as well as an item to save a bit of a headache later on.
At the entrance to the marsh is a vine like plant that can be interacted with to make a little walkway into the water. Hoping down from there and making a beeline to the little stretch of land north past the jerk wading about aimlessly will only result in maybe 20 HP lost for the party.
Taking a left at that patch of terra firma...somehow magically transports the party to that bizarre vegetation growth high above the Marsh...apparently half a mile above the marsh if the background is to be trusted...
There are a nice couple of elements squirreled away up this path. But, there's a much more important reason to head up this way.
At the peak of the canopy is yet another guy that bitches out the party for waltzing about unprotected in the treacherous conditions. But, he's cool enough to hook us up with...
...a fully hazmat outfit. Well, that was nice of him. The waters of the marsh no longer do any harm to the party despite the fact he only gives us one set of these. Well, Leena and Mojo weigh barely over 100 lbs combined. I suppose they could just piggy-back on Serge across the place.
There's nothing else at the summit other than another guy staring off into space. It is a lovely view though.
Returning to the first area...
Despite the protective gear there really isn't a whole lot that can be explore of the marsh. The first area is largely empty and full of dead ends. There is a cock tease treasure box up a slippery slope in one corner of the map. Jerks...
The second and only other accessible region at this point is barred by a punk ass vine that whips Serge in the face if he approaches it.
"The toxin levels seem-om higher here than at the entrance... The plants must've mutated-om."
"Mutated into dicks. Argh...that is gonna leave a mark..."
While we're in the neighborhood, we might as well check out the local flora and fauna that has survived the conversion of the marsh to Torvus Bog from Metroid Prime 2. First up is this...ridiculous piece of insect evolution... It err...bashes into people with its pinwheel wings and...that's about it.
The only other enemy in this small mini-dungeon is the Potpourri. These enemies don't actually attack. Instead, they have a dickish revenge move upon death.
When their HP is depleted they unleash a toxic cloud that will inflict Poison status on a random party member. If you hadn't gotten the water protecting gear earlier this is pretty much a death sentence to whoever was hit with it.
Chrono Cross is one of those fun games where status effects both last between battles and cause damage while on the field. In battle it depletes health at a rate of 1 HP per action (each attack when on the offensive counts as an action.) On the field I believe it's -1HP per step. Not pleasant stuff.
We might as well go over our new party members. Leena is a Blue Innate character. Her spatula (made out of apparently bone) is fairly weak early on in the physical damage department. However, her magic skills kick a lot ass. That's about all that is to be said about her right now.
Lucky D is a touch more interesting in battle. He attacks using the giant nail impaled through his body and setting things on fire with the everlasting candles attached to his head.
He also has a Fierce attack where he slams his nail into the ground and spins around like a top to kick his enemies in the teeth, which is pretty amusing. That said, he's a pretty crap character overall. His standard attacks are about on par (maybe even a bit weaker) with Leena. His accuracy is fairly awful. And he's one of the worst Black Innate magic users in the game. The only thing he really has going for him is his evasion skill is through the roof.
Well, that and his magic casting animations are pretty hilarious. Shake shake.
Right...time to stop procrastinating. Let's check out the forebodingly titled valley. It is of note that it might be a good idea to go drop 100G to rest up and restore status back in Serge's Not-Room.
Music: Drowned Valley
There are still soldiers stationed at the entrance to the valley. However, these ones are markedly not hailing from Imperial Porre and let the party pass this time.
The entirety of the fossil valley is only two areas and can be completed in about twenty seconds (well, outside the boss fight obviously.) But, let's check the joint before venturing forth.
The fossil valley is inexplicably populated by wild dingoes. I get the feeling someone one Chrono Cross' development staff took a vacation to Australia early in the planning stages of the game. Dingoes come in two varieties: weak as hell bubbas.
And far more hardy Mamas. The baby dingoes are probably the most harmless enemy so far and you're pretty much a horrible monster for murdering them. Hell, if you enter a battle that is just two babies there is a chance they'll ignore the party and just start ramming into each other playing around.
If a mama is present and the party kills one of her pups, she'll automatically get pissed off, cast a strength buff, and go on a personal vendetta to revenge kill the responsible party. Of course, if there's two Bubbas in a battle she'll do this twice and chew up so much of her stamina in the process she'll likely go down before even getting a turn. But, you're still kind of a jerk in either case.
A bit north from the entrance is a guarded rope ladder with a remarkably inept sentry at its post.
"Check out that guy in the back there. What do you see...?"
"Is that a...straw man...?"
"Indeed it is, friend. Indeed it is. Clearly, we are the exorcists you seek. No need for there to be an argument about it."
"Oh great, I thought you'd be a little older... Well, make your way up the rope ladder."
Up the ladder we come to a plateau with a terrible howling floating through the area sounding like some poor bastard is passing a kidney stone. Might want to check that out...
"Anyway, do you hear that howling sound from down yonder? All we want you to do is to stop that noise. I don't believe in ghosts, but go do what you have to do."
I'd point out the logically fallacy in questioning the supernatural in a valley comprised of fucking dragon bones and where magic spells can be bought at the grocery shop but meh...
BY THE QUAKING BONES OF STEVEN KING!! WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?!
A clown skull hopes out of the nearby dragon skull and begins talking. Did I mention Chrono Cross was kind of a weird game?
"I've been waitin' forever for someone like you! Yeah, I know. You and I are both dead, eh?"
"Actually, I'm from a parallel universe...I think..."
"Yeah, but you're dead in this one right? I can sense that sorta stuff."
"Well, yeah but..."
"Look, if I can find your obituary in an old copy of the newspaper, it's good enough for me."
"You understand what I'm goin' thru, don't ya?"
"How does that fake red nose even stay on your err...face...?"
"Man...I don't even know! I'm still confused by the bright pink thin' at the bottom of my portrait. It's been a one of those kinda days."
"But I have a feelin' everything will come back to me once I find my body parts."
Taking along the Morte's clown college cousin doesn't actually give us a new character. Instead, it initiates a long quest to collect his assorted parts to assemble a new party member. Yeah...this is one of the more convoluted ones to recruit...
"I'm heavier than I look, but I hope ya don't mind! And don't swing me around too much. I start feelin' nauseous."
Someone who apparently really fucking hates clowns has dismembered our new skeletal companion and scattered his bones all about El Nido. There are four other locations parts of the skeleton are discarded and we won't be finding them all any time soon.
At the northern most part of the area is another lovely vista to admire as well as an additional key item...
A bouquet of Bellflowers is hanging out up here. Well...I guess it's good to be prepared...
At the southwestern part of the region there is a climbable dragon spine leading to an area overlooking the previous map. Chrono Cross is quickly getting into a trend of hating small animals' children and mothers. No sense in fighting it at this point. Sneaking over to the huge bird's nest allows Serge to pick up...
The key ingredients for his record breaking omelet! Well....maybe not. This is yet another item instrumental in recruiting a character way the fuck in the future. Might as well toss it in the bag with the flowers and talking skull for the time being...
Stealing the egg will cause the mama Dodo to attack the party. It's avoidable by just immediately running back to the rope ladder. But, Serge feels compelled to slaughter all endangered wildlife. You never know when some girl might want a dodo skin hat or something.
Despite being freakish, ridiculously large birds the Dodo are not particularly dangerous. They're the hardest hitting enemy so far in the game (~15 HP per attack) but they do not attack particular often. That is unless you decide to be a fool and use an Element on them.
Elements cause the dodo to flip its lid and use its Peck attack. Peck does around 75 HP worth of damage to any character that gets hit with it. At this point in the game that is pretty much instant death to anyone who's taken a hit beforehand. There are several enemies in Chrono Cross that do not appreciate getting hit with magic one bit and retaliate with super attacks. There's never any indication as to who they are or what will set them off though so have fun with that...
Returning to the main area and continuing down the path...
A pair of familiar faces is camped out at the exit to the valley. Well, the most familiar faces in the game that doesn't get character portraits.
"W-We can't just shake it on back to the manor like this... We failed in our mission!"
"That was awfully awful, back there, Peppor. I want a rematch!"
"B-By the way... Do you remember what kinda outfit he was shakin'?"
"Psst...do you know these guys...?"
"O-Oh, you remember. So he looked like that, huh?"
"Are they...comic relief... henchmen...? How did you get a bumbling villain duo after you?"
"I don't even know anymore..."
"S-So you're sure about that?"
"Wonderfully wonderful timing, Peppor!"
"L-Let's shake it! W-We're really gonna shake it to you this time!!!"
All this shaking talk makes me want to play Mischief Makers.
Thus we are tossed into the third boss battle of Chrono Cross. The Shaker Brothers retain their silly little theme music for this fight so you know it's going to be about as tough as punching through a wet paper bag. Indeed, it is mostly another tutorial.
"Good work... Well, shake it on up and attack him with it!"
"Affirmatively affirmative, Peppor..."
"Gonna throw out a 70% chance this will blow up in this chucklehead's face."
"You're too generous. It's more like a 95% chance."
"I'm lucky, lucky, lucky! For yoou guys. 100% chance of failure foor these-om two."
Applying blackface in combat? That's racist!
"B-But... I was told that attack was one badly bad MOTHER-"
"SHUT YO MOUTH!!"
"I just talkin' 'bout Black Attack."
"Then I can dig it."
"Wait no... What did you do?!"
"I'm afraid you're right... How terribly terrible!"
"You DID bring a WHITE ATTACK Element with you, didn't you? If you didn't bring one with you, you're more stupid than I thought!"
"You mean like a civil suit lawyer?"
"No, you nincompoop!"
And that concluded the tutorial. In case you didn't get the gist of it, there are spells that will temporarily change the Innate of a character giving them all the strengths and weaknesses of that color. More competent enemies will be assholes with that sort of thing by changing Innates of the party then immediately following up with a super move of the opposite color.
Anyhow, the actual battle is quite simple. Solt and Peppor have both gotten a bit stronger since the previous fight; though neither of them is breaking the double digits in HP. Once again, Solt is slightly weaker than Peppor (90 HP and 80 HP respectively) so it's best to quickly take him out to have one less nuisance.
Peppor has picked up a new technique where he imitates E. Honda and does a flying head butt that takes around 40 HP worth of damage. Which, at this low level in the game, is pretty damn beefy.
It's really important not to let anyone die during boss battles early on as they'll completely miss out on the big stat boost at the fight's conclusion. We've yet to access any revival elements at this point so it's doubly important to not let HP dip too low.
But really, Solt can be taken out before he even gets the chance to do more than a single basic attack and Peppor is lucky to get off more than one PepporBox before they're both knocked flat on their asses.
And that's a wrap. Star Level 3 unlocks a few new things we'll cover in a bit. But, let's shake it out of this area first.
Next stop the town of Termina. Termites are optional.