Part 38: Recitation Notes 7: Formatting And Presentation WorkshopRecitation Notes 7: Formatting And Presentation Workshop
Since we've picked it up, the Shades of Black Technick has gotten quite a workout. Enough that we've had plenty of opportunities to see a sight like this:
That is, one character casting a high-level spell while the rest of the party stands around with fully charged actions twiddling their thumbs. This is jarring enough to feel like a glitch, but it's actually an intentional attempt by the game to work within the limitations of the PlayStation2's graphics hardware.
Briefly, every Magick and Technick is assigned an integer power of 2, between 1 and 8, that corresponds to the complexity of its animation. This value is also roughly proportional to the strength of the ability -- first-level Magick and most Technicks have a value of 1, while stuff like Flare and Scathe and enemy attacks with their own cutscenes have a value of 8. Only eight points' worth of animations are allowed to play at one time, and anything that would push the total over has to wait in the queue.
With that in mind, let's take a look at a strategy decision I made when fighting the White Mousse:
Despite fighting a flan that is strong against physical attacks and vulnerable to Sleep, I switched one party member from using Shades of Black over to physical attacks halfway through the fight. This is because the White Mousse starts to exclusively cast Waterga at half health. Partly this turns the fight into a damage race, and I want a guaranteed source of damage -- accidentally healing the mark or casting a useless status effect is a possibility with Shades of Black.
The other reason, though, is because -ga-level spells have a value of 4, and with two people using Shades, I have a very good chance of getting the mark's attacks stuck in the animation queue. Standard physical attacks, however, don't have an animation rating and don't have to wait for anything, so a physical attacker, especially one with Berserk, can get off three or four hits while the big laser is still fading away. This is a kind of cheap but viable tactic against a select few enemies that rely on magickal damage, moreso in the late game with a character that can repeatedly cast eight-point spells like Holy or Flare. But it's more often a way to accidentally trip yourself up by having too many casters at once. Magick got a significant rebalance in IZJS, but this is one system-level drawback they weren't able to fix.