Part 15: Episode XII: Shadows Are a Creepin'
Episode XII: Shadows Are a Creepin'
It is time to finally make some progress in the plot and explore the Shadow Forest. Nikki's route is probably the most involving of the three as it contains a full dungeon area to transverse. Guile's option consists of climbing a cliffside path while a soldier plays Donkey Kong and throws boulders down, followed by a dull boss encounter. Pierre's was a <very silly> boss battle and that was about it. Anyway, let's mosey...
Music: Forest of Illusion
Miki evidently works fast as she's already lured Lord Humongous and his cronies with her feminine attributes. So we are free to explore the wooded vista with little hassle.
Slightly past the entrance, the party comes upon this phallic little red creature. It makes a bobble sound when interacted with but otherwise just rocks back and forth in a daze. Keep this critter in mind as it will be used in a bit. In the meantime, let's check out that...thing...in the background.
Meet Bulbs: the primary enemy of Shadow Forest. They're mostly harmless with only a few weak physical attacks and low HP. They attack by...
Moving right along...
I neglected to mention it earlier as there really hasn't been anywhere to show it off; when we defeated Solt and Peppor back at Fossil Valley and earned the Level 3 Star we unlocked everyone's first Tech move.
Techs are unique special attacks each character possesses. They are unlocked in the Lv.3, Lv.5, and Lv.7 element grids. Though, the level 7 Techs have a little sidequest prerequisite in addition to opening that corresponding part of the element grid. But, that's far in the future.
Each character's Techs are the same element color as the character's innate. Even if it is a physical attack like Serge's Dash&Slash. The attacks' names and function is usually self explanatory. For instance, Serge dashes...
...And slashes. Then he strikes a cool photo-op pose while his enemy falls down dead in his wake.
Kid, being a shady
Leena comes packing the MaidenHand. This roughly translates to...
...bitch slapping the living fuck out of an unfortunate victim's face. Ouch.
That's enough about Techs for now. Moving on to the next area...
Further into the forest the party comes upon Nikki, who likely has enough drugs in his system to make a beluga whale see Jesus, trying to communicate to one of the Diglet cousins. He meets with little success.
"Ohhhh oooh oooh... Sweet friend of mine...
She's got eyes of the bluest ocean...
As if they thought of waves...
I hate to look into their motion...
And see an ounce of you at raves..."
"That sounds...a bit off..."
"I think he's avoiding copyright infringement..."
"Dammit! It's hopeless..."
And with that Nikki takes off further into the woods. Countdown until he gets attacked by hostile monsters....
...roughly 5.9 seconds.
And so we're thrust into a battle to save the ridiculously dressed pasty bastard from angry bird...rabbit...men.
The birdmen unleash a devastating volley of ball stomping on the cornered musician. I am not sure what it is about attacks in Chrono Cross and aiming right for the crotch. One of the animators definitely had some issues.
Nikki retaliates with the power of ROCK! :headbang:
Of course, this does fuck all as Team Serge have to kick the demons' asses to save the dope. The Cassowarys are all fairly weaksauce and go down with little to no trouble other than the occasional light peck her and there.
And, believe it or not, the battle that ended about sixty seconds (counting the scripted attack on Nikki) counted as a boss battle and levels the team up. Chrono Cross does occasionally throw Star Levels at the end of barely above random battle fights. But hey, I'm not going to complain.
Nikki thanks the party for their efforts by leaping off the ledge and hiding beneath a waterfall like a prick. Which begs the question why he didn't just do that in the first place? But, details...
Slightly further down the path is some big ugly plant creature sleeping on the only passage leading further into the woods.
Kid voices what everyone who sees this thing was thinking. Unfortunately, the creature is fast asleep and requires a dopey gimmick to awaken it and continue toward Viper Manor. Of course, this is an expansive forest and this makes fuck all sense. But, video games...
Following Nikki into the waterfall...
"You could at least thank us!?"
"You're off to Viper Manor, right?"
"No, we're photographers... I came here to take pictures of birds. The umm...quetzals. We heard they were in this area."
"The hell is a photographer?"
"Crap, cover blown..."
"Who the bloody hell are you?"
"Weren't you paying attention before?"
"Kinda zone out a bit when the ol' exposition starts kickin' in. They really oughta add them BOLD or colored words so I can just skim the crap."
"Hmm, wait. I think I recognize you from a poster in Termina... Slash, ain't it?"
"Err...no... I don't know any Slash. Who's Slash? That was a misprint!"
"I believe... my sister is in there..."
"Anyway... I'll let you in on a secret if you let me join your party."
But thou must recruit the androgynous glam rocker into the group.
You're breaking up the band, Yoko!
"I'll just grab a torrent of the album when I get home."
"You are KILLING the industry!"
"Tch. It's not like I was gonna buy it in the first place, sheesh."
"In order to get inside Viper Manor, you have to go through the water vein further up..."
"So we have to follow the only path available? This is the worst soddin' secret ever. Besides, there's a monster blockin' the way..."
"In order to move it, you have to feed it one of the monsters in the forest. I wasn't quite sure how to lure one to it, but then I found this notebook. It says to lure the monsters with their favorite food."
Alright, long story short: in order to wake up the vegetable monster the party inexplicably cannot go around or climb over (despite being in a coma like sleep) is to grab some pollen off one of those bushes in the previous area and use it to drag one of the silly looking phallic monsters back to it for it to awaken and feed.
"A one! Two! Three! Four! Ooooooooooh~"
"Time's a wasting."
"Ugh. My socks are all wet now. I'm heading home for a bit to dry off."
"No need to go that far. I'm sure you're more comfortable shackin' up at the nearest inn."
"Kindly go fall off a cliff and die while I'm gone."
"H-Hey! Wait for me!"
Right, so Nikki is a lame as shit name for a rock star and I want us to distance him from J-Rock because...
AAAAARGGGGGGHHHHH!!!!!!! Take it away! TAKE IT AWAY!!!!
Thus, Nikki will be converting to a more befitting name for a glam rocker. I'd change his name back to Slash but well...
Sure, he's right handed but he's clearly a K-Mart fantasy version of Ziggy Stardust in the first place, so I can overlook the inconsistency.
His tech move is fairly amusing at least.
GrandFinale consists of Ziggy taking his guitar by the handle...
...and breaking that sonuvabitch over an enemy's face. It does piss pour damage. But, how many RPGs have special attacks that involve guitar based violence?
The game automatically makes the party leave the cave after recruiting Ziggy. However, they have to immediately turn around to gather a handful of important items left behind. There is a notebook re-explaining what we need to do to move that monster, in case you're too retarded to retain information from twenty seconds ago. But, that's not what we want.
Alongside the notebook is yet another piece of our terrifying talking clown skeleton.
"I think I was angry at myself for havin' no talent... Everyone would just laugh at me or mock me... I hated myself... I'm sure you ain't interested. Let's just get goin'"
Most importantly, the treasure box next to the notebook and bones contains the catalyst for beginning this whole stupid little exercise.
So, in order to wake up the plant monster we need to hijack an airliner and get a wizard to summon Shadow the Final Destroyer and after the meteorite hits then...wait...no...wrong plant monsters...
Actually, Serge has to interact with one of the strange bubble bushes growing in this room. There are three of them scattered about and each produces a floating pollen bubble of a different color. The "correct" one here is the bush at the northwestern part of the map by the entrance to the region.
It is a red pollen bubble we've got to take aaaaalll the way back to the very beginning of Shadow Forest to the first doofus monster we came across. The pollen spores brought near one of these creatures of the corresponding color will cause them to give chase.
This part is pretty annoying as you cannot run the whole way or the dick monster will lose interest and saunter off. Likewise, walking too slow will cause the thing to catch up to the spore and devour it. Having either of these two outcomes requires a return trip to the original bush to grab a new offering and starting all over from scratch.
Anyhow, the Red Monster is the correct sacrifice to the plant demon. Feeding it the blue or green ones will cause it to get pissed at the party after finishing its morsel and trigger a battle against it. The red one, however, has a slightly different effect...
It shrinks to a fraction of its size and gives the party a lovely new prize.
Really, you shouldn't have... No, you shouldn't have... This is awful. Just awful...
But, the critter peacefully trots off without any fuss saving us a quick bit of combat. That was nice of him.
The next area looks...decidedly like where a boss encounter would occur. Like, a giant swamp abomination or some angry tree spirit or...
...or Solt and Peppor...again...terrific... Though, this time they're shaking things up and brought a friend.
Oh, for Christ sake... Call the fire department. I think he's stuck up there.
"WHATEVER YOUR BUSINESS MAY BE, I CANNOT LET YOU THROUGH."
"Why are you yelling everything?"
"He said: WHY. ARE. YOU YELLIN'. EVERYTHING?!"
"I CAN'T HEAR YOU DOWN THERE WITH THIS HELMET ON! JUST A MOMENT!"
"I AM ZOAH, ONE OF THE 4 DEVAS OF THE ACACIA DRAGOONS. SO... YOU ARE SERGE. THIS SHOULD BE INTERESTING. I SHALL LET YOU PASS IF YOU ARE ABLE TO DEFEAT ME. COME!"
Music: Brink of Death
Alright, time for the fourth...well I suppose technically fifth...boss battle of Chrono Cross. Seeing as Solt and Peppor are present alongside ZOAH, that means it is time for yet another tutorial skit.
"You said you brought a shakingly awesome Element with you, didn't you?"
"I have a brilliantly brilliant Element this time, Peppor... It's a new... 'Summoning Element!'"
"Shaking!!! It sure sounds good. Well then, shake a leg! Hurry up and use it on these smart alecks!"
"Affirmatively affirmative! Here I go, Peppor..."
"Ain't these jokers the same mob from back when we first met? Had another run-in with 'em since then?"
"Yeah... There's about a 95% chance this is gonna be stupid and they're going to spectacularly screw-up somehow."
"Oi. You gotta tell me about these things. I woulda brought some popcorn."
"Oooooh... Screwed up eyes and a screw down hairdo, like some cat from Japan..."
"Does he have a mute button?"
"Huh? Nothing happened? I wonder what went wrong...?"
"You can't use a Summoning Element until all the Field Effect attributes are the same color!"
"You muddle-head! Well then...hurry up and turn all the Field Effect attributes the same color and try again!"
"But, Peppor... You can't use the same Element twice in the same battle. Any foolish fool knows that!"
Peppor is going to end up smothering Solt in his sleep at this point.
"ARE YOU CLOWNS FINISHED WITH YOUR COMEDY ACT YET?"
So, Serge and Friends must defeat Solt and Peppor along with their new pal Zoah. Zoah just sticks to middling damage physical attacks while the Shaker Brothers at his side on the field. But, the two of them have gained a bunch of annoying status effecting and ally buffing Elements, so it's best to take them out first before they become a nuisance.
In particular, the pair has a double tech they'll start using that does a good 40 HP worth of damage and can be used multiple times, so it's a pretty big priority to break up the band as soon as possible.
As always, Solt is somewhat weaker than Peppor (80 HP vs. 90 HP) and should be taken out first. With his Steel Swallow, Serge is enough of a beast at this point to kick the shit out of Solt in a single turn.
And Peppor goes down whenever he gets his stamina refilled. All that's left is Zoah, who takes off the gloves once his back-up is out of the picture.
Like Karsh before, Zoah gains a special tech DragonRider attack when left alone. Though, Zoah's is a bit more unorthodox than his predecessor...
Instead of any pedestrian saddling up on a dragon and whacking his opponent with a blunt object, Zoah instead stands atop his speeding dragon...
...and does a flying elbow drop onto his victim's skull for a good 40+ HP of damage.
But, other than his dragon based pro wrestling moves, he's a push-over. Oh, excuse me: PUSH OVER.
Huh...two level ups in one update and I barely broke a sweat.
Music: Forest of Illusion
"That's it...? You're just going to let us walk in the back door? Just like that?"
"No strings attached?"
"Rockin'! Wanna hear a song?"
"NEGATIVE! YOUR MUSIC IS TOO LOUD AND OBNOXIOUS."
"You seem to attract some real nutters, Serge..."
"Tell me about it..."
"Oooooooh! Seeeerge! Oh woah woah! He had the WEEEEIRRRRRDEST luck. It was like he was always stuck in the mud. It's SEEEERGE! Oh yeeeeaaaa~!"
"Moving right along..."
That's actually only about half way through Shadow Forest. But, the rest is basically walking through creepy corridors. Highlights included avoiding flying angry bubbles...
Plugging a hole with an endless torrent of angry crickets...
And murdering a ghost...
A couple areas worth of sewer level with slightly more vegetation later...
"That means Viper Manor's right above us! Hey, mate, I say we wait here 'til nightfall."
And so the party took a nap at the bottom of a well for dramatic effect.
Zoah Official Art - I DO NOT KNOW HOW ARMOR WORKS.
Forest of Illusion