Part 1: Genesis
At the start of the game, we get to name the main character. El is a nice name and all but... once you get over the quirkiness of the hero being named "God" it just becomes a tad boring. Still, it'll do.
: There is a gift for those who graduate.
The game neglects to tell you this for a while, but the guy El's talking to here is Zodia. He's El's teacher/mentor/what have you, and thus he's supposed to be much more powerful than you are. Unlike most people with this type of informed ability, he actually manages to accomplish things. Not very many things, since we're not playing as him, but it's still a nice change of pace.
: It's nice to see another great Gaia warrior. Please accept this as a gift from me.
This sword is okay for a freebie, but it is the weakest weapon in the game naturally... and so we won't ever be using it. The game starts you off with no money, and no equipment of any kind so the two chests next to him help alleviate this problem further;
The $300 could be put to use in buying a bit more armour, and this is what you are recommended to do... yeah, we won't be doing that.
Just equipping the free equipment for comparison purposes. The Leather Mail is much more effective than the Tite Sword and both cost the same. Fortunately, we got $300 exactly and let's check out the weapon store I'm conveniently stood in front of.
This game, being an old one with very little equipment that you don't buy, follows a very simple rule: for the most part, the more expensive something is, the better it is. The Heat Sword here is not, as you'd expect, a fire-elemental sword or anything but it does cost exactly $300 (boy, isn't that convenient?) whereas the Tite Sword was free and a replacement would cost $45. It stands to reason, therefore, that the Heat Sword will be much, much better, right?
Well, no. You see, prices don't increase relative to how effective the weapon is. If this were the case, you'd end up with so much money, you'd literally never run out at any point ever. As it is, you have to wait until you're about halfway done for this to be the case. The Heat Sword, however, is twice as powerful as the Tite Sword so we'll be using it anyway. We'll promptly be buying yet another new sword once we reach the second town which costs around 20x the price of the Heat Sword. I wish that was a typo, but it really isn't.
Just next door is the armour store. For the most part, I don't consider armour to be particularly important since it only ever really comes into play against bosses. Random encounters are pretty much always ridiculously easy, because there's a thing lacking called "balance" but we'll get to that later.
Oh, and the $30 came from selling the Tite Sword. Likewise, you're recommended to spend the $300 on the Copper Shield but if you just one shot everything armour really isn't important.
There's also an item store, but with very few exceptions items are basically useless. The ones that are arguably worth using at this point you can get for free from random encounters anyway.
There's no way to actually leave the town at the moment, so we're railroaded into the only building of clear importance. Inside is a couple of unimportant NPCs and Zodia. They all say basically the same thing, but talking to Zodia is required so that's the only one worth worrying about.
: Mt. Palo has been known as a source of strong Gaia power.
Immediately after this, the screen shakes which often demonstrates an earthquake. Amazingly, it actually doesn't do that here. Instead, it causes a generic NPC to run in and actually say something plot related.
: What!? I'm worried about the kids. I'm going to Mt. Palo.
Zodia runs off and does just that. We could follow him there, but not only would we not be able to do anything there yet, we'd get completely massacred by the monsters there.
We can, however, follow him out of the city and go do other things that are equally important. Y'see, this whole "monsters attacking" thing isn't just a stock reason for why you have random encounters. It's the driving force behind a fair few plot arcs, this introductory one included.
Early game enemies are pretty simple, and so there's not much to the battle system worth worrying over yet. With the Heat Sword, you'll one shot everything in this area even at level 1 so there's no threat at all. Liches are very nice, however, in that they actually serve a nice purpose at a later date, but we won't worry about that for now.
Oh and you level up very, very quickly. Like, these two fights here?
Enough for a level up. Unlike certain other main characters from MegaTen games released at around the same time as this one...
El actually learns magic spells. Blaze 1 isn't a bad spell, I guess, but it's not one I use particularly often. There's only really a few spells I'd actively use anyway, since just stabbing things is not only faster but more reliable and much more effective.
Okay, so El starts with some pretty nice stats at this point. He's got a decent balance between everything so he can built basically however you'd like.
They each max at 40 points, which lets El max three just from level ups which is quite nice. Also;
Endurance: Affects how much physical damage you take and HP you gain at a level up.
Intelligence: Affects how much magical damage you deal and MP you gain at a level up. Unlike in some other MegaTen games this doesn't influence anything else for El.
Strength: Affects how much physical damage you deal.
Speed: Affects the chance of ambushing enemies and evasion rate.
Luck: Honestly, I'm not entirely sure in this case. The manual just states that "something good may happen if this attribute is high." If I were to guess, I'd assume it affects the chance of ambushing enemies and critical hit rates but I might be basing this on a placebo effect (the one time I maxed it for El, I swear I ambushed pretty much everything for a while).
Also, I really wasn't kidding when I said it's super easy to level up. Just by fighting another one at this point you'll almost definitely level up again. It's nice for grinding to be quick if you'd ever do it at least.
Mana Seeds are very basic HP restorative items and are kinda nice I guess. El has no means of healing otherwise, at the moment, but we'll rectify this shortly. I wouldn't recommend relying on items you get from drops, though, just to completely contradict something I said not too long ago. Whilst, yes, items from drops are normally the only ones worth using, aside from ones found in chests of course, they are obscenely rare. Like, getting a drop before reaching, say, level 30 is some kinda devillish luck. Free items are nice, but they're unreliable at best.
Anyway, this town here is the only other one we can actually go to (there's one slightly off-screen here to the east but we can't enter it yet). Therefore this must be where we have to go.
Remlia is kinda important at this point. Now, if you'll excuse me I do believe I'll go grind somewhere in the region of $6000 just for a new sword.
This is El. Say hello, El! El is, as you know, the main character of this little game. His name is also "God" in Hebrew, as I've mentioned already. This is nice and all, but the quirk wears off pretty fast so he'll need a new one (max 7 letters). And, since this game is super easy, he'll also need something resemling a combat build. Any build, and no I don't mean like "1 point in strength, 2 in Intelligence" and stopping updates everytime I get a level up or something, I mean like an overall one. As in, should he do what he does best and just stab stuff a bunch whilst dodging the enemy? Should be become some kind of spellslinger who tanks damage constantly? Should he do something else entirely? You tell me!