The Let's Play Archive

I am Setsuna

by The Dark Id

Part 10: Episode VIII: I Am Turtling

Music: Silent Snow

Welcome to the Frost Caves. Funny, looks a lot more like an ice cavern to me. But what do I know?

Nidr has joined now formally the party. Despite his backstory of literally grinding monster encounters every day for upward of a decade, the guy is still lagging two levels behind everyone else initially. Yet even so, Nidr manages to have a higher strength stat than even Level 9 Endir. Turns out much like Auron, Nauron Nidr is a powerhouse and is by far the strongest physical attack character in the game. The only trade-off is... well nothing, really. His ATB gauge fills just about exactly as fast as Endir’s since there’s no real Speed stat.

Really, the only downside of Nidr right now is that his Techs are rather limited. All he has is his sweet sword jump Aerial Strike.

In a change from the norm, the gameplay version of Aerial Strike is actually a shit load more potent than its cutscene portrayal. Unlike Endir’s Cyclone with its broad AOE use, Nidr’s tech hits the entire battlefield and knocks back EVERYTHING from the epicenter of the attack to the outer reaches of the battlefield. Impressive stuff! The only drawback is those pesky exploding seals will be knocked back in unpredictable manners with risk of accidentally exploding in one of Nidr’s allies faces.

Our new companion’s abilities aside, there really isn’t much to the Frost Caves. All the enemies are the same critters we’ve been encountering: Pengy, bomb seals, and the occasional slapping Walrus boys. Nidr and Endir can whoop the lot of ‘em before they can even react most of the time. I think Aeterna got to attack in exactly one out of the dozen battles across the dungeon.

We do find a treasure chest containing a Provoke spritnite for Nidr. Welp... It does exactly what you’d expect it to. And yep, add it to the parade of Techs lifted directly from Chrono Trigger. Nidr unfortunately does not slap his ass to taunt his enemies when using it.

We’ll just jump ahead to the end of the dungeon since that’s about it for points of interest. The end of all dungeons in this game can be denoted by a save point. And you can bet good money there will almost certainly be a boss fight just beyond said save point.

As per RPG tradition, we can only sort our party members at save points or the world map. We’ll go ahead and swap out Aeterna for Setsuna for this upcoming brawl. While X-Strike may have been our bread and butter thus far, there is a reason we want Setsuna here.

Let’s mosey and see who is in charge of the Frost Caves...

Music: Deadly Gamble

Ah. Of course. An ice turtle with crab pincers and a sea anemone for a nose. Naturally.

I mean... I’m sure greater numbers would make it easier to let the sacrifice escape alone... But if we can’t even make it past here, we ain’t gonna get anywhere.
Not with that attitude.

As an aside, if you’re wondering how the game handles extra party members appearing in cutscenes: anyone not in the active party just phases into existence briefly for the cutscene and then fades away into the ether at the cutscenes conclusion. So as soon as this scene concludes, and despite the whole point of Nidr joining is so Setsuna will have more people guarding her at once, Aeterna will just vanish in thin air.

Music: Relentless Advance

Time to take on the Primeval Tortoise. That sounds like the name of geriatric heavy metal band. This guy is a bit of a jerk sporting over 1000ish HP. I’ve got to give vague numbers for these early encounters cuz there’s literally no method of seeing any enemy’s hit points until later on in this chapter, short of digging into the game’s memory. And nobody has done that quite yet that I’m aware of...

Early in the battle, King Koopa here has three primary attacks. It can (surprisingly rarely) swipe with its malformed claws for around 30-40 HP of damage. But mostly, it likes breathing fire at a single target for a good 55-65 HP worth of damage. I’m sure we’ll discover it is rubbing together mucus glands at a rapid pace or something absurd to produce this effect.

Less dangerous, there is the tortoise’s Toxic Breath attack, which coats the entire party in noxious fumes. This has the potential to inflict Sap on any member of our party. Status effects are not at all a guaranteed thing in this game. Indeed, they seem to have a fairly low success rate, especially when enemies are using ‘em. The Frost Caves’ guardian used this twice during the battle and only managed to hit Setsuna successfully once.

While Endir’s Aura does cure all status effects with Momentum (with 100% success rate) it’s not really worth it. We can just burn an antidote with Setsuna, since she’s just going to hang out and build up Momentum for a bit and can waste a turn on that.

Our two heavy hitters are going to pound on Bowser’s misshapen ancestor with their Techs for the duration of the fight. They both do around 50-60 HP of damage each turn. This boss is fairly resistant to physical attacks overall. We’d only get about 60-70 HP of damage if Aeterna came in to do some X-Strikes instead of Nidr. And barely above 40 HP of damage with Charge, which is why she’s sidelined.

And really, the primary reason we’ve brought Setsuna along is for this phase. After taking a few hundred HP of damage, the Primeval Tortoise will retreat into its shell and put up a Physical Barrier. <Damage Type> Barrier in I Am Setsuna means they’re completely invulnerable to that attack for the duration of the Barrier. In other words, physical attacks and Null damage Techs (read: Everything Nidr and Endir can do) are a no-go now.

Which is why we brought Setsuna along. Remember Setsuna has that Lightning spell? Barriers also make enemies weak to every other type of damage. So while PT here is hiding out, Setsuna can bust out Lightning spells dealing 80 HP of damage (up from like 40+ damage under normal conditions) while Endir and Nidr take a breather healing up and building up Momentum.

We actually don’t want to use Momentum with Setsuna’s Lightning on the first cast. PT will take the damage from the attack and continue its defensive position for two standard casts. Meanwhile, a Momentum buffed Lightning cast will *barely* do any more damage, while still counting as a critical strike and in turn knock the boss out of its barrier and back into attack mode. In other words:
Non-Momentum: Two 80+ HP damage Lightning Casts before entering back into attack mode.
Momentum: One 90-100 HP damage Lightning Cast and immediately enters back into attack mode.

It’d be interesting if there were more times where you shouldn’t use Momentum buffs constantly to add a bit of depth to battle strategy. But, this is just a weird outlier.

In the second half of the battle, Primeval Tortoise decides he’s had enough of our party’s bullshit and stops doing its shell defense game. Instead, it retreats into its shell only to go into a wild spin, hitting the entire party for 75-100 HP of damage. Which can actually be quite dangerous considering we’re all maxing out at barely over mid 200s right now. I’d be concerned if we didn’t have one party member with a full party 100 HP heal and another with a single character full heal.

In any case, that’s about enough out of the Primeval Tortoise. It’s a mercy, really. I don’t think that poor thing could even fit out of the gates into and out of the Frost Caves. No wonder it was so cranky.

Music: A Moment of Respite

I have no idea how this game calculates XP from battles since it doesn’t surface any of that info outside of a bar filling up after battle. Nidr shot up two and a half levels during this dungeon. Endir was just shy of Level 10 at the beginning and is only a little ways into Level 11 by the end. Setsuna was only here for this fight and is nearly at Level 11. I dunno! At least there isn’t any need for grinding sidelined characters much at all.

More pressingly... who has to carry the “long red nose”? Not it.

Yeah, that’s right...
Let’s go. We need to make up for lost time!
...Says the one that didn’t even help fight the idiot giant turtle thing.
I was busy holding off the rest of the monsters to give you time to fight.
Mhm. Well, now we definitely have to get moving. This cave is filled with the smell of BS.

And with that, our brief march through the Frost Caves comes to its conclusion. Tune in next time when we begin our quest for transportation at reasonable prices from local royalty.

Frost Caves Concept Art - Caves? Check. Frost? Check. Ship it.

Video: Primeval Tortoise Battle