Part 16: Episode XIII: The Guards Are DumbEpisode XIII: The Guards Are Dumb
Music: Viper Manor
Note: This music is a mostly unchanged (other than higher quality synth sounds of course) track originally from Radical Dreamers.
Music: Snakebone Mansion (Radical Dreamers)
So nightfall has come upon Viper Manor. Time to break in, murder some people, steal some shit and...well, I guess maybe find out what the hell is going on with Serge being dead.
Though, before we begin I've really got to say I do not recall there being a second red moon in Chrono Trigger...
Ziggy's path dumps the party a bit south of the main gate to Viper Manor.
Of course, the actual entrance to the palace is still heavily guarded causing Serge and company to fight their way in...sort of making the whole side trip sneaking through an alternate route a bit pointless...
Though, this is only one of a handful of mandatory fights against the Acacia Dragoons guarding the mansion.
Dragoons come in two flavors: extremely weak privates that Serge can demolish in half a turn...
...and the slightly more hardy Sergeants; which Serge can annihilate in a bit over single turn. Privates only come packing weak physical attacks and are barely worth mentioning. Their superiors will occasionally bust out an Element spell or two. But, there is never more than one Sarge in a group so they ought to be top priority in a battle.
In any case, the main doors into the manor are locked and a key is needed to enter. Returning to the beginning of the area and heading to the eastern courtyard enters the party into a short stealth segment.
The goal is to avoid the spotlight scanning the grounds. If Serge is spotted, an alarm will go off and every enemy in the area (as well as a newly spawned Sergeant from the watchtower) will make a beeline for the party resulting in about four battles in a row. However, the search light has a really predictable pattern and it's no real trouble to evade.
It's worth mentioning that there are a handful of guards patrolling as well. However, they have eyesight so poor that the Genome Soldiers from Metal Gear Solid would tell them they ought to go to an optometrist.
The ultimate goal is to duck into the barn in the northern part of the courtyard. Said barn is apparently where the dragoons keep their dragons stabled. I wouldn't expect dragons to be housed like horses. Then again, I wouldn't expect giant chickens to be either... JRPGs are weird...
The stable keeper immediately assumes we're the new stable boys despite the fact it is around 1:00 AM and the party couldn't look any more out of place if they tried.
"Do ya have a key to the manor?"
"Sure do. Wouldn't mind givin' it to ya if you take on this job."
"Do it, Serge."
"Eh? Feeding the dragons? Why just me...? You can't help?"
"Askin' a lady to shove hay? What kinda man are ya?"
"Tch. Well, what about him...?"
"Ooooohh.... So far away we wait for the day... For the light source so wasted and gone... We fee-"
Serge is given several options for the amount he wants to feed the dragons. As long as he successfully completes any of the challenges, he'll get the mansion key. However, each of the five amounts also garners a prize along with it.
10 - Knee Pad Accessory (slight defense increase)
20 - Bronze Helmet Accessory (slightly better defense increase)
30 - Bronze Mail (Mid-level armor for this point in the game)
40 - RecoverAll Element (Very nice healing White element. Perfect to stick on Serge)
100 - Iron Vest (The best armor available at this point in the game.)
Now, granted I already forged a couple of Iron Vests by ripping apart that profiteer purse earlier. But, it is still a decent enough prize...
The mini-game itself is a painful experience. There are five dragons that all apparently have stomach worms and must feed constantly. Serge does this by giving them bales of hay (and teleporting between each stall to feed the dragons.) The trouble is, Serge can only hold three bales at a time. When he runs out, he must go all the way to the leftmost part of the screen and restock.
In addition, the dragon must be crying for food (it starts roaring and does a little angry dance) before Serge is able to dump food in front of it. This is because...err...gameplay! Anyway, our stable boy protagonist has around 1-3 seconds to shove that hay into the pen before the dragon will get pissed off. Each time a dragon misses its meal its impatient bastard ass turns slightly redder. If Serge fails four times to feed one of the dragons, it turns bright red and becomes enraged, ending the game in failure.
The thing is on the 100 feeding challenge, it's basically humanly impossible to do this in the way the developers intended as after around 50 successes, the time limit is knocked down to 1 second or less and the dragons like to all become hungry in quick succession.
So basically the only way to do it is to mash X constantly like you're stuck in the Metal Gear Solid torture sequence. Going constantly down the line and immediately back to the hay, mashing the button non-stop and hoping one of the jerks will eat while you go past them. It's not really that hard using this method. The key thing to do is to always place priority on that fuckhead dragon at the far right seeing as it's the farthest away from the hay and is the easiest to fuck yourself on.
It took me about three attempts before I recalled I just had a third party controller with turbo when I was younger and that worked like a charm.
The best part about that old thing was Revolver Ocelot was totally full of shit and didn't know a damn thing was amidst during the torture sequence.
Upon successful completion of the challenge, the dragon keeper hands over the key to the palace to our shady band and we're free to waltz right in the front door.
Swanky pad. Unfortunately, all routes further into the mansion currently locked and/or blocked.
Next to the northern exit is a little snake statue that can be spun about in place to the left and right to perhaps unlock something.
Or trigger a trap...in retrospective it was probably definitely the trap thing...
"What should we do with these fools?"
"What's so funny!?"
Wow, what a potty mouth on this girl. I cannot believe she busted out the D-Word.
This goes on for a bit as Kid continues to use 2nd Grader caliber insults to provoke the soldiers into opening the cage and attacking.
This ends very poorly for them...
And thus the trio assume the identities of the three men they just murdered, leaving them free to explore the manor at their leisure. Hey, it's the PS1... It's not like there was a high enough resolution for anyone to notice the blood and viscera chunks coating the outfits.
Down the stairs is the dungeon of the manner. This area is restricted; even with our swanky new inexplicably form fitting uniforms.
But, there is a strange little new enemy of note.
This is a gimmick fight. Serge can attack either of the two boxes with a 50% chance of gaining a prize. Choosing the wrong one ends the battle with no profit.
Whacking the right one causes the chest to trot up to our hero and present his reward. That is much friendlier than those uppity jerk monster chests that attack for a puzzling amount of damage in other games.
There are two corridors leading east and west on both levels of the manor. Let's check the lower east first. The first set of doors leads to the mess hall.
"How many times do I have to tell you? It's......to the right......to the left."
"Better write this down before I forget."
Glenn trots back to his room next door afterwords. We'll have to steal that very obvious password clue from him in a bit.
In the kitchen is our old chef pal from Serge's dream in the prologue. He doesn't have anything much to say. Serge neglects to ask if he's dreamt of Aussie murdering lately.
The next room over is the soldiers' barracks. Glenn has scribbled the super secret passcode to the inner sanctum of the manor on the wall next to his bed. Very professional.
On the opposite end of the basement is a heavily guarded region. The big golden robot refuses to give the party the time of day. But, the two goons standing by the door demand a password.
Well, that's about the worst password ever. It is a clever use of manipulating standard gameplay concessions but...really poor on the actual security front. Who comes up with "if they awkwardly staring at you with a slack jaw, that means they're legit"?
Welp, time to get a lootin'!
"The Frozen Flame...?"
"Yea... Ya know? Legendary magic gemstone or some rot? Grants ya wishes and junk? Ridiculously valuable?"
"I err...I thought we were here to see what the dragoons wanted with me?"
"I bet this is valuable...yoink! Oh...huh what's that? Yeah... Yea, right. That dragoon mob is up to no good. Really need to see what yer story is, mate. Ooh. Shiny!"
The treasury contains a bronze sword and matching armor, as well as a now useless Hero Shield (part of the dearly departed Pierre's quest.) The most important item of note is the necklace on the right hand wall.
"This must be some kind of trap. We should leave it alone."
"Whatever! Just grab it."
Can't argue with logic like...
Well, fuck... Kid, you are the worst thief ever!
"Just a minor slip-up! But look, we got the treasure. "
"But we're stuck in a cage...again..."
"Actually, we're just... Well..."
"Well, when you put it that way I suppose so..."
"No matter. Kom out."
The cage door opens...
"And why are ya helpin' us?"
"Ooh-hoho-hoho...! Vho said anyt'ing about helping?"
"Bloody hell kinda accent is that? Did Saint Nick have an affair in German once or somethin' and out you sprang?"
"You vill all be my guinea pigs."
<points> "Finish dem..."
And then she, of course, is immediately impaled by her creation, only to return from the dead with super powers four games later.
Wait, I'm mixing up shit again... Time for another boss fight...
Lucia releases a pair of upgraded Bulbs from Shadow Forest. The only real upgrade they possess is buffed up strength and a handful of low level magic spells. As well as maybe doubled HP (~75 HP each.) They attack by...
...moving right along.
They're just giving these away like candy lately, aren't they? This was probably the easiest one yet, if only for the lack of a thirty second scripted fight before the slaughter.
"You have exceeded my expectations by defeating my Bulbs. Now, please leave."
What is it with Japanese video games and obsessions with this mystical "battle data" concept? I'm not sure what breakthroughs can be made by inputting "monster screamed 'POT!' three times before being stabbed to death" into a formula. I can think of probably a dozen games off the top of my head that feature some vague combat input formulas that results in ULTIMATE POWER!
Before leaving, there is a Pokémon we can have a brief chat with caged in the corner of the room.
"Pip! Pip pi-pi pip piiiiiiiiiip! Pipa!"
"Ummm...Would you mind opening dis cage quietwy?"
Hmm...unleashing a cute but undoubtedly remarkably dangerous biological organic weapon in a laboratory...? Yeah, that never leads to trouble. Why not?
"'Til we meet again! I will puwsue my dweams and see de world!"
"Soon dey wiwl know the feewing of the boot of Pip stepping on faces...fowevewr..."
"What was that?"
Leaving the abomination with an asshole for a mouth to its own devices and attempting to leave...
"I am extremely interested in all of you. I cannot leave right now, but kom by vhen you need my help. I am villing to help you. Ooh-hoho-hoho... I'll be vaiting..."
"Just back away...slowly... No sudden movements..."
Lucia Official Art - Purple hair and monocles are in this season.
Pip Official Art - Behowd the devouwer of wowlds.
Viper Manor Flyover
Viper Manor (Chrono Cross)
Snakebone Mansion (Radical Dreamers)
- The Japanese title of Viper Manor (and its original Radical Dreamers name) was Snakebone Mansion. The Radical Dreamers incarnation of the location was much more Castlevania-esque and full of monsters and slightly more deadly traps.
- Luccia's Japanese name is Lutiaana. It is one of the many victims of Chrono Cross' restrictive six character naming space.
- Pip's Japanese title is Plush. I cannot really see the reason for the change. Well, other than "Plush" being sort of a silly name.