Part 10: Patton would be spinning in his gravePardon the tardiness of this update, but school assignments kept me busy. It shouldn't happen again. This is also one of my least favorite parts of the game, so let's get this over with.
Chapter 10: Patton would be spinning in his grave
Technically, he threw himself off the raft, followed by Ultros flinging him into the air, but that's not really important.
What's much more important is that unlike the other party members, Sabin is not on the proper side of the world. Getting back to Narshe is going to take a little bit of work.
Music: Shadow's Theme
Despite the uniform, this fellow on the Chocobo is actually a friendly wandering merchant. This guy is going to be handy, as our two magical healers are traveling around with other groups.
We'll, looks like somebody slipped in an apostrophe when they shouldn't have.
The merchant has a number of unusual items for sale. I don't believe we've seen throwing stars and scrolls (known in-game as Skeans) before. Since they're cheap, I pick up 99 of the Shurikens and five of each Skean. I also get a disposable pair of sprint shoes, because we're about to get a temporary recruit.
: Imperial soldiers have built a base somewhere beyond the forest.
: They seem to have their sights set on Doma Castle.
: So Doma's next, huh? I have to reach Narshe immediately!
I think Celes mentioned something about Doma during Locke's scenario. Something or other about poisoning. That could be bad.
: Your only hope is through Doma. I'll show you the way. Just know that I may take off at any time, if I feel like it. The Reaper is always one step behind me.
And with that, we've already picked up our first new party member for this scenario. Unlike the ones to come though, we shouldn't get too comfortable with this one. Relic-wise, I just slap on a pair of Sprint Shoes and put him in the back row.
Inside the house, this old coot immediately mistakes us for somebody who has a stable career. Sadly, we left our engineer in our other party, so we can't help fix his problems.
What most people don't seem to realize is that this old man doesn't stop griping after he mentions the clock. He'll also start confusing us for lawn care professionals, stove repairmen, bed fixers, and so forth.
Of course, if we try to tap into our inner stove repairmen, the old man goes on a different tirade, threatening to throw some kid into some place called the Veldt, before suddenly denying that he ever had a kid in the first place. I'm sure his babbling won't be important ever again.
Shadow actually hit the jackpot when it comes to gimmicks. His first one involves his dog, Interceptor, who may randomly take a physical hit for his master and then retaliate with an attack of his own for about 800 damage, assuming the target isn't floating. Needless to say, nothing in this part of the game can withstand such damage.
A note on Interceptor: Certain monsters later on in the game will have an ability that swaps status effects, and Interceptor counts as a status. If Shadow goes into a battle with a monster like that and the monster dies after taking Interceptor, Shadow will lose him forever.
Shadow's other gimmick is the Throw command, which allows him to throw weapons and unique items like throwing stars and Skeans at the enemy. Damage is calculated based on the attack power of the weapon he throws, so it doesn't matter whether he's in the front row or not. And since I bought him 99 Shurikens, that's all he's going to be throwing for the entire time he's with the party.
Music: Troops March On (Imperial Army Theme)
The Imperial Base is in a tiny patch of desert a short distance from the house. Much as it seems like this will be a dungeon of some kind, it's essentially a long series of cutscenes.
We don't get too far into the base before we trigger a scene. Get used to watching our party duck behind things.
Soldier A: Shhh! Quiet down. If Kefka catches us, we're toast. If he drives General Leo out of our battalion, he'll probably become the next general!
Soldier B: Don't make me laugh! If someone like him becomes a general, I'll go home!
Soldier A: Shhhhh! What if he hears you? You'll be jailed!
Soldier B: Alright, alright!
: Hey, you! You keeping a sharp lookout?
Soldier A: Yes, Sir. You're Kefka, correct? How are you, Sir?
: Please, save your petty small talk! Just do your job!
Soldier B: I'd like to tell him to his face that he's no General Leo.
Soldier A: Sssh, do I always have to tell you keep it down? You're hopeless...I hate that weirdo, Kefka. I don't even think he's human, not like General Leo...
Soldier B: Agreed.
So the clown doesn't have much of a popularity rating. Not surprising, given his penchant for dressing in bright colors and wearing makeup.
We change scenes to Doma Castle, defended mostly by palette-swapped merchants. The castle itself looks to be a slightly grayer Figaro with some rubble textures and a river running through the middle.
Well, that seems like a sizable invading force. If they broke through the doors, they could probably take over the entire castle in short order.
So naturally, they try climbing the walls instead...by hand. Points for originality, but that doesn't seem like the most efficient way to storm a fortress. I seem to recall that they had some sort of technology that could smash right through wooden gates, and said technology also had elemental beams, including one that sets things on fire.
Despite this, the Empire is apparently still winning. Somehow, the people of Doma are even worse at warfare than the folks outside. That says a great deal.
Voice from Offscreen: A moment, sir!
Music: Cyan's Theme
Meet Cyan Garamonde, quite literally the only competent soldier in the entire Doma military. He's also apparently a samurai, despite the fact that the rest of the world has been relatively European in appearance.
: If we can fell their commander, they'll surely give up. Let us give it a try!
Oh yeah, and he also speaks in pseudo-Elizabethan English. There are so many weird things about this guy.
So wrapped up are the Imperials in their attempts to disassemble the wall that they completely left their commander undefended. Is there any part of this military operation that doesn't suck?
I'm not really planning on giving Cyan the True Knight, because it's rather terrible. However, I just love the description text for this thing, so I had to show it off. Since there's only one memeber in the party right now, it wouldn't do much for me anyway.
I'll go more into Cyan's techniques when I get a good opportunity, but for now, let's just do a brief overview.
When you use the SwdTech command, a bar slowly fills from the left, highlighting numbers as it goes. The idea is that you're supposed to hit the A button when it reaches the desired number, and the theory goes that the techniques that come later are more useful than the ones highlighted first. However, the tradeoff is that while the bar is filling, the battle still goes on, so if you want to use the higher-up techniques, I hope you're ready to take a hit or three.
For now, we just need the Level 2 technique. At first, it doesn't look like anything is happening when you do it, but when Cyan takes a hit...
He jumps in and does over 800 damage, killing this enemy in one shot. This ability is called Retort, and there's a funny glitch associated with it that we'll see later.
And so the Battle of Doma ended, with the people of Doma losing two bricks to the mighty assault. Jeez, the Empire is terrible. On the plus side, defeating the general gets us a Black Belt, which will be very handy for Cyan.
Black Belt: Gives the user a chance to counterattack when hit by an attack. This is pretty good for the more physically-inclined characters, so I stick it on Cyan for now.
For a brief moment, we have control of our characters again. For some reason, the game always switches Shadow and Sabin's positions after the Battle at Doma. Why is that?
The proper solution to opening this box is to hit it with our bare hands, at which point a guard comes by and we hide in the box. If we kick it, the dog posted outside hears us and we get in a fight. Either way, we get another Star Pendant for our troubles. I feel somewhat cheated.
In another tent, we get a Green Beret and a Mithril Glove, both of which are decent enough pieces of gear without any silliness about kicking treasure boxes. What's up with that?
Welp, interactivity over. Time for another cutscene. This one is fairly interesting, because we get our first look at the esteemed General Leo Cristophe.
Soldier: General Leo. The citizens of Doma seem to be playing a waiting game...
General Leo: So, that's their strategy.
Soldier: General. We're ready to take the castle. Just give the order...
General Leo: Patience! If we attack now, we'll have to sacrifice too many lives.
Soldier: But, General! I'm ready to lay my life down at any time for the Empire!
Soldier: Y...yes Sir. Why?
General Leo: And your family lives there? Fall in battle, and I'll have to deliver the bad news...What shall I say to them? You have a life to go back to someday. Don't throw it all away for nothing. Emperor Gestahl wouldn't want that.
Leo can talk a fine line, but seeing as he was technically the fellow in command during Operation Let's-Try-to-Siege-a-Castle-Without-Bringing-Ladders, I have trouble believing that he really has the soldiers' best interests at heart.
Long story short, another soldier comes by and gives Leo a message from the emperor summoning him away.
General Leo: Just don't jump the gun. Please.
At this point, the game gives us control for about a second before taking it away again. I'm not exaggerating here. If you try to advance after you get control, you can trigger this next scene in about a second. I wouldn't normally harp so much on these story sequences, but we've spent barely a minute actually moving around in this camp and at least five minutes watching plot events occur.
: You loser! I'll take care of this situation in no time!
General Leo: Don't be pompous! And DON'T forget that they are PEOPLE, just like you and me.
: We need not spare those lands that gave rise to the Returners!
Leo has nothing to say about this, and just walks off. Good to see that he's so good at determining when treachery is about. This skill will serve him well.
: You just go and pretend to be a good little boy...!
: He's no longer here! I'm in charge now. Pour it!
Soldier: Some of our people are prisoners inside the castle! If we poison the river...
: Do it! Take 'em all out!
Naturally, this battle ends instantly the first time that someone hits Kefka. No good killing off the villain in the first act, after all.
: Kefka, wait!
We repeat this once or twice, and it's about as interesting as you expect.
Music: Kefka's Theme
And then Kefka pours the poison anyway. Way to make the running around seem worthwhile.
: Hee, hee! Nothing can beat the music of hundreds of voices screaming in unison! Uwa, ha, ha!
In short order, Doma soldiers begin dropping like flies. Too bad that nobody thought to stock Antidotes.
: Guard our liege!
And just how were you going to protect him from poison anyway? It's probably in the air right now. Can you block the air?
: Excellency! Hang on!
The Expendable King Doma: I fear for your family. Unh... chest is on f... fire...
: Save your strength! Don't talk!
The Expendable King Doma: Go... run to your family...hack...gasp.........
Too bad he died before we could even care about who he was, otherwise this death scene would have had some sort of impact.
Even longer story shorter, Cyan's family is dead too.
: Owain! NOT YOU TOO! Son...you can't BOTH leave me!
Yes, even the kid. Surprising for a game made in the early 90's.
That's the spirit!
Next Time: We tackle the actually-entertaining portions of Sabin's scenario.