Part 33: Kibombo, Part 2
So, Piers. Piers is probably the best playable character in the series, not because of his personality (hint: he doesn't have one) or his gameplay style (hint: he spams djinn and psynergy), but because he's basically the only character in this entire series who actually takes some form of initiative in wanting to quickly and efficiently accomplish something worth accomplishing.
Well, okay, he did spend this entire time staring at a statue. And he probably would have just watched his orb for a day or two had we not decided to show up. And he has no problem prioritizing ten-hour conversations over actually working towards what needs to actually happen. And he's going to join us in dicking around for a few hours before we actually help him at all. But hell, he could probably spend most of the day huffing paint and still manage to be more proactive than the rest of the series' characters (especially last game's Mercury adept) combined.
Besides, going off of Vall's influence, he has a lot of fun pets to play with. He's like a crazy cat lady who legitimately means well but forgets to take her medicine and occasionally rambles on about how she hates the youth of today until her audience falls into a number of comas and dies.
These marks are here to indicate an entrance. The entrance was probably beneath that stone.
Man, if this was the only entrance I feel bad for the people who built this statue. If this is the only hole, then there's no way for air to get in or out.
Jenna has raised an interesting point. They would not have been able to do it without an air supply. If that's the case, we should search more thoroughly.
This conversation is optional, and neither of the game scripts on GameFAQs (seriously, who looks at a game script of a 90,000 word game and thinks "You know, that's good, but I think this site could really use another one"?) seem to acknowledge that it exists. I only point it out to show that our characters don't really understand building (wouldn't the air supply have been... the air? I don't see why they assume that workers would have gone underground to build a statue located above the ground) and that Camelot is actively encouraging you to think about the logistics of building this statue. This was not a wise decision for them to make.
The statue is a cave. Maybe the characters' pattern recognition is better than I'm giving them credit for.
The statue does make some progress in the design department, though. Rather than being a cave that's also a maze, the Gabomba Statue is a cave and then a maze. I would try to make some sort of math joke about this kind of discrete dungeon creation and the concept of infinitesimal change, but I think if I did that I would be legally prevented from ever having friends.
In addition to being a cave and a maze, the statue is also a clock. You might be thinking that a mechanical-themed dungeon is slightly out of place in an African tribal setting where savage spear-throwers consecrate witch doctors by coercing statue gods into accepting rocks. You might also be noticing that this is not how gears work at all.
(Note: skip these next two paragraphs if you don't want to read a not particularly funny rant)
As I've mentioned a few times in the thread, my mediocre justification for why I keep bitching about Camelot's game design is that they do everything in their power to make me notice the problems with their games; if they were just less heavy-handed about forcing their vision down our throats it would be a lot easier to let these things slide. This dungeon makes absolutely no sense at all, but in a normal game nobody would care. I would notice it and think of it in the same way as walking over first aid kits to instantly cure bullet wounds or letting ten year olds raise monsters for no-holds-barred cockfighting tournaments. It would be a five-second observation and it would not damage my "immersion" or enjoyment of the game in the slightest. Same with some plot inconsistencies in a game that isn't devoted to endlessly repeating the same few sentences of plot.
But Camelot does not understand how to just let things be in the background. Instead, they spend so much time jumping up and down and waving their arms that the only way to justify the result is to become situationally myopic. They've specifically forced us to think of the logistics of building this statue and associated it with an ancient tribal ritual, then they immediately cop out on actually making it consistent with that. The next couple of cutscenes are also going to rest on this statue's inner workings, but they're never going to try to integrate any of what we see into it. The natural thought is that there's going to be some sort of payoff, like this tribe being much more advanced than they seem, but, as with werewolves in Garoh and levitators in Kandorean, our characters never bring this inconsistency up and absolutely nothing comes of it. One of the basic rules of writing is that, if you call specific attention to something, it should have both a purpose and an ultimate payoff, but Camelot has an amazing ability to completely misunderstand Chekov's Gun. Instead, they show ten minute sequences of people meticulously loading revolvers and then two scenes later make them miraculously find blades in time for a knife fight.
As for the game part of this dungeon, it's as unmemorable as always. There's a bit of creativity built around climbing on top of gears and pounding in pillars to stop a few, but none of it is connected in a way that makes it a puzzle rather than just an inconvenience and there's way too much backtracking for the novelty to last. Golden Sun in a nutshell, I suppose.
Yes, this is the same cutscene we watched last time. This exact same cutscene is going to happen every minute or two we don't solve the puzzle in this room.
Akafubu's prayers make lightning shoot out of the blue and red floating ball pillars until revealing that African tribes are bad at Pipe Dream. As I said, there is no payoff for this, no incredulity from the characters, and not even a token attempt at pretending this fits the framing device in the least.
No! This time, he seemed almost like he might... We must continue! Drums! More drums!
Doesn't this battle of attrition somewhat undermine the significance of having him accept your gift? "Blessed by the gods" is usually a slightly higher vote of confidence than just "tenacious".
Ah! So that's how it works!
He's been failing because the conduit that channels his Psynergy is broken.
Should we reconnect the conduit so he can complete the ceremony?
Why should we help this pack of thieves?
Think about it, Piers... Akafubu stole the orb solely to perform this ceremony...
Oh! So...if his ceremony succeeds, the orb will be taken into the statue... I... don't want to help that Akafubu, but... Let's see if we can't help him finish his little ceremony.
I can't help but think this might have been a useful conversation to have before breaking into and climbing an eight story statue tower with no escape route.
The way this works is that pounding the pillar makes all of the tiles pop out while walking on the arrows rotates them. When one is lined up, you pound it in and it stops rotating, once again demoting this from the realm of "puzzle" to that of "time-waster". Every minute or so, the "He's accepting our jewel" speech plays out verbatim. Eventually...
We get a noble attempt at one-upping the horror of H.R. Giger.
Then it eats the orb.
And yes, somebody at Camelot actually saw this screenshot and said "Yep, this is exactly what I wanted in my game. Right here. Good work everyone, we'll ship next week."
At last! The Great Gabomba accepts me! I shall answer his call! I shall enter the Great Gabomba!
I'm not sure why there's a statue inside this statue, though I do think that Matryoshka Gabomba would be a great name for a band provided it wanted to sell about zero albums.
I know, you think I have the order of these screenshots messed up. I don't. The orb comes in, the characters discuss that it came in, then it comes in, then the characters discuss it coming in. I'm serious. This is actually how the scene goes. I'm serious.
We've come to reclaim the black orb you stole!
Do you really believe I would permit you to take it!?
Hey, watch it! You wouldn't even be in here if it weren't for us!
Well, yes, but the rest of it was broken also. The blue side wasn't even set up to reach the center at all.
So we completed the circuit so that your magic energy could go where it needed to go.
I honestly have absolutely no idea what Camelot is trying to get across here and I don't think they did either. Is the punchline that he's a sham? That all of this is a sham? Is this a normal and legitimate way of picking rulers? Is he a legitimate ruler? Are we trying to help him? Seriously, what the fuck is any of this?
But... if you truly did this, then why? Why did you help me?
We were sort of hoping that we could take the orb if your ceremony succeeded...
You can't have the orb.
You should give us the orb because we directly took a situation in which you couldn't use the orb and instead engineered a situation in which it would be useful for you not to give us the orb.
Ah, well in that case here's the orb.
Akafubu just gave us the orb as a result of being asked by us. I am a character in this game!
I thought Akafubu was an evil man, but I guess we were wrong...
You never can tell, Sheba...
What exactly are you basing this on? He still stole the orb and leads a warrior race that randomly attacked a town.
This isn't the same statue as in the last screenshot, it's just the telepathic statue behind the statue inside the statue that's mechanical but also magical. Pay attention.
Akafubu! Your magic has grown strong! At last, you are worthy of the title witch doctor. I give you the feathers and gown that are the badges of your office!
I'm shortchanging this a little bit; there's a slight hook for a sidequest that's going to happen an update or two from now, but it's incredibly unimportant and I'm overwhelmingly sick of this village. With that in mind, and with Piers' water freezing ability, we can backtrack some more.
For one thing, we can get a mushroom and another djinn we illegitimately already have.
For another, we can show the fortune teller our orb to get the only semi-useful fortune in the game. Thanks for the clarification, fortune teller; I imagine having to kill an immortal enemy would be substantially more difficult.
And finally, back on a good continent, we can watch something extraordinary happen. For the first time in this game, there's actually going to be some minor hint of... wait for it... conflict!
Something less extraordinary is going to happen also, which is that Camelot is going to mishandle this like hell and basically defeat the entire point. Though there's also going to be a boat involved. It's almost like the game is going to actually start being a game.
But don't get your hopes up.