Part 2: Eat the MeatImmediately upon leaving we get an opportunity to talk about part of the game system:
When a character eats meat or installs part, the element of the character interacts with the element of the enemy to determine what they'll become. In this case it's straightforward, with our fire elemental Chrono eating some meat from a fire elemental Diviner and ended up as a Broomer, another fire elemental creature. Fire elemental beasts tend to be strong casters, so this brought up his magic stat and reduced his attack and agility. Eating meat from another beast with a differing element will change your form again.
A lot of people have talked about whether or not to transform characters, but it's actually a very situational thing.
Looking at Chrono's talent screen, we can see that in his transformation he's picked up a couple of immunities and some talents to use in battle. Beasts can use magic as well as a human and with less facility than a mutant. They use weapons with half-effectiveness and skills (like Karate, Jyudo, and ect) with double effectiveness. Just as an example, if we were facing a monster with great defense that was weak against magic then transforming Chrono and Marle and giving them spells would be useful. Similarly an enemy strong against all kinds of magic would be a good reason to turn Lucca and Frog into beasts and giving them skills or possibly turning them into cyborgs.
I'm not sure what exactly is up with the Raven, but they're a good example of the monster type of enemy. Generally humanoid enemies are either beasts or cyborgs, while more strangely shaped enemies are monsters or robots.
Eating the meat turns Chrono into a wolf, which gives him some very fixed stats and prevents him from using weapons at all. Instead, he has to content himself with using talents or magic. Some monsters are powerful casters, while others have very useful attacks.
Led by our furry leader we approach the tower. I'm planning on changing him back as soon as possible, as being a wolf doesn't suit my purposes.
Luckily there are monsters inside the tower who can be harvested for parts. Flowers are fairly nasty pieces of work, but are weak to ice. I like how the Orb Rats appear to be made up of mice. Orc-orcs are about what you'd expect, but I still find the design pretty funny.
Climbing up the tower there are pitfalls scattered all over the place. The obvious thing to do is to jump them, but if you want to climb down quickly you can also just fall through them.
Worms and Quackies are two more of the enemies here. A Quacky is some kind of cyborg, but Worms are pure monsters. More interestingly, however, they are the same element as Chrono and as a result he can regain HP from eating their meat.
Since magic spells are physical items now, they can be stuffed in treasure chests and taken as loot. It sometimes pays to hold off on buying spells as a result.
Evidently Chrono now has three heads? Somehow that never came up... Talkers are a cyborg type that always freaked me out a bit with their huge lips.
The next floor has a leather glove, our first hand armor that naturally enough goes to Arthur. At this point he's actually transformed into something else (A Sea Monk, maybe. I can't recall offhand) as a result of installing some parts. When he returns to being a human, he'll return to his native element of fire. The game also likes to use pits as a method of allowing shortcuts and channeling movement.
There are also psychotic looking lizardmen. These things are usually a pain in the rear end to take out with physical attacks.
One of the nice things is that you don't have to continually eat meat to get stronger creatures. When you gain a level up, your characters will change form on their own.
On the final floor we get the float spell. The question of why it's here will only get stranger as the game goes on. Wait a minute...was this tower about as tall on the inside as the image on the map would actually suggest?
The question of how to spread magic around is one we could probably talk about a bit. I like to give spells like this to Arthur or Sharon, who aren't going to need their MP in battle very much. Float creates a weird rock thing that we can ride in across the sea, but not over mountains and such.
Okay, that'll definitely come up later in the story.
Across the sea we find a cave in the middle of a sheltered area.
This is actually the town of Elan, which presumably built under the earth for security. Two of the helpful villagers give us directions to find the only two named people in the village.
The question as to how a woman living in a backwater underground town who has probably never seen one of these Magical Stones knows this is probably better never asked.
The town also has some nice upgrades for some our equipment including...napalm grenades? They've got napalm of all things here? Anyway, we upgrade our armor and Chrono and Marle's weapons. For the most part Lucca and Frog are going to be using magic anyway.
Downstairs at the inn behind a false wall is, of all things, a hot spring.
Undisturbed the a centaur sharing their bath the occupants chatter about healing springs and a hidden path. They're quite right on both counts, but this brings up another interesting thing in this game. In this town and in Dharm we've seen no beasts or monsters roaming the town, only pure vanilla humans. This is a real contrast to the first two FFL games which featured very integrated societies.
Heading out of the west side of the bath will lead us outside to the waterway, where we can climb up the waterfall in the central pillar. Inside...
Tell me about the future.
Unless the water from Water Entity is stopped, the world will perish.
Could you be any more to the point and depressing?
At any rate, the magic shop has nothing of great value, only a spell to cause blindness and one to cause poison. Neither is all that great.
Well, now we have an idea of what that floating island might be and that there's somebody who's supposed to be in charge around here. Where's he when all this is going on?
You know, considering that it's a time machine from the future, there are a LOT of people who seem to know all about the Talon. No wonder monsters are after Units, people won't shut up about them!
Elder, huh? It brings back mem...Hey!
The Radar detects Units. What is your intention?
To return to the future, where I came from.
I see. Monsters seek Units too. Prepared?
for future. Seek past now, and I will see you back here when you return.
It's a plan!
One down, twelve to go.
Heading toward the Palace to install our new Unit there appears to be something standing in the way. I think I'm going to want Chrono as a human for this.
While searching for some parts I also got a glimpse of the type of enemy Chrono is currently a cousin of. I kind of get the feeling that the enemies are just a bit squished in this game.
Chrono and Marle are actually fairly close in damage dealing potential, while Lucca and Frog are terrible at it. Lucca's got the best magic power by a fair margin, making her a better overall caster than Frog. I might be just a bit over leveled for this part, since I had to go find some parts for Chrono.
This does not begin well.
More of an initiation boss than anything else, the WaterHag has about 480 HP. Most of our characters can do a bit less than 100 damage per hit, so this fight only really lasts two rounds once we get started. The Waterhag's attacks aren't that damaging, and it has no real weaknesses or strengths.
It also gives pathetic XP, but at least the gold is nice. After beating it, we can continue to the Palace.
Having served his purpose, it's time for Myron to hang out back here in Dharm while we go into more dangerous territory. Probably a good thing, since as an NPC he will never get stronger.
Approaching the terminal allows us to install the Past Unit and use the option to Warp to the Past.
I'm not sure if the fact that the world actually does do this when you time travel makes it more or less appropriate for flashbacks.
Next time: To the Past!