Part 1: Stop Me If You've Heard This One BeforeMusic:
Before we begin, a couple of notes about the music. First, all of the music files for the game are MIDI files that don't loop, but I made them loop myself by copy/pasting the notes a few times in Audacity. So if there's any slight stutters in the music when it loops that's my fault, not the music's. Second, since pretty much all of Last Scenario's music is from tracks provided with RPGMaker, all of the songs have horribly generic names such as "Town02" or "Dungeon03". I've taken the liberty of giving them slightly more creative names.
The game opens with this slow text scroll. As I mentioned in the OP, and as you can probably see here, Last Scenario's opening is intentionally designed to look like the most unimaginative RPG plot possible. But since me saying "huh huh never seen that before, amirite?" every time something cliche happens would get old really fast, this is the last time I'm going to point it out.
Rat: We can try to sneak into old man Robert's farm again.
Marv: Nah, he's gone to the city for a couple of days. It's no fun when he ain't home. Hey Dwight, why don't you come up with something for a change?
I think it's your turn now, Rat. Y-Yeah, that's right. You tell us.
Hold on guys, look who's there.
Ladies and gentlemen, say hello to our hero.
Look at that. Getting all friendly with us, huh? You think we're buddies because you like to pretend you're the town hero?
He looks more like a town f-fool to me.
What've you been up to today? Slain any dragons?
Haha. Thanks for the warm welcome, but I really got to go.
He might hurt himself.
Fade to black...
They're out in full force today at the town square.
Those good-for-nothing boys? Oh Hilbert, why do you keep letting them bully you? You know you don't have to let this continue. If you just stood up to them...
It's all right. They're just words. You know those kids are harmless.
So I'm not sure if you've noticed this yet, but our boy Hilbert here wants to be a hero. I just thought it might be necessary to point that out. This desire is going to be the driving force of Hilbert's character for a good while, but let's just say that it won't stay that way forever.
I'm the protector of this town, right? They'll understand when they're older.
Fade to black...
Hilbert! You have to help me! Anna ran away! I was playing with her in the field, but something scared her and she ran into the old mine! I called for her and waited and waited but she wouldn't come out!
Anna? Your cat? She ran away? That's no good. You want me to go look for her?
Please find her! Everyone else says it's too dangerous to go in there, but you're not afraid, are you?
You're talking about the abandoned mine west of the city, right? I'll go straight away!
Thank you, Hilbert! I'll go home and wait for you!
And with that, we have control. This being an RPG, there's nothing fancy when it comes to moving Hilbert around. Arrow keys to move, confirm button to interact with things, and cancel to open the menu. There's one other button we can use on the field, but I'll explain that when we come to it. Anyway, before we go anywhere, let's see what we've got in the menu...
If you've played any RPGs before, everything on this screen should be fairly self-explanatory except for Hex List and the Crisis bar. We've got our standard options to manage our items, equipment and magic (known as Spellcards in this game), and while we can't do it now, we can also save and change our party while at a save point. Sadly, the Hex List option doesn't list curses we can cast on people, but rather deals with Last Scenario's main minigame, Hex. I'll explain Hex more at a later point.
Anyway, let's take a closer look at our menu options. First up is Items, which... shows our items. Unlike in Exit Fate, the inventory is communal and any character has access to all items at all times. We begin the game with two Brown Herbs, which restore 50 HP to one character.
For the rest of our menu options, we'll need to know about character statistics, so next let's take a look at the Status screen and see what those statistics are. That sure is a lot of numbers! What do they all mean?
HP: Health Points. How not dead you are. At 0 you are completely not not dead and are therefore dead.
MP: Magic Points. Can be spent to cast spells.
STR: Strength. Determines damage done by physical attacks.
VIT: Vitality. Reduces damage from physical attacks.
INT: Intelligence. Determines potency of magic spells.
RES: Resistance. Reduces damage from magical attacks.
SPD: Speed. Determines the turn order in a round of battle.
SKL: Skill. Determines how likely the character is to land a critical with a regular attack.
DEX: Dexterity. Determines how likely the character is to dodge an incoming physical attack.
LCK: Luck. Affects everything the character does in a small way.
Below these stats there are four percentages which are derived from the stats above.
PDEF: Physical Defense. Incoming physical damage is reduced by this percentage.
MDEF: Magical Defense. Incoming magical damage is reduced by this percentage.
CRIT: Critical Chance. The percentage chance the character will land a critical with a regular attack.
EVA: Evasion. The percentage chance the character will dodge an incoming physical attack.
On the right of the screen we have experience information as well as the character's equipment. Each character can equip a weapon, a helmet, body armor, and one accessory. Every character is locked into one weapon type; Hilbert will never be able to use a weapon that isn't a bow.
The bottom right of the screen shows the character's equipped spellcards. We don't have any spellcards at the moment, so there's nothing there.
Next up is the equipment screen. Here we can change a character's equipment and see what effects it will have on their stats. It's worth noting that equipment modifies stats directly: for example, Hilbert's Short Bow grants +14 STR, so in reality he has a base of 4. Likewise, the Leather Jacket imparts +8 VIT and the Dash Ring gives +5 SPD.
Without his equipment boosts, you can see that Hilbert is somewhat of an all-rounder character, though he's more focused on strength and agility than magic. He doesn't excel in any particular area, but on the other hand he's capable of doing pretty much anything competently, and he'll also be the fastest member of our party for a good long time. He can never be removed from the active party, so his versatility is very nice.
Next, we have the Spellcard menu. This is normally where we'd equip spellcards to characters, but we don't currently own any spellcards, so there's nothing to do here.
Finally we have the Game Stats menu, which shows us various statistics about our battles, characters, and Hex playing.
Now then, we've got a cat to save! But before we head out, we've also got a game to save. Interacting with one of these large crystals will open the menu with the Save option enabled, as well as Party if we have enough characters for it.
Heading into town, we find the boys from the intro.
You're really thinking of going into the mines? I knew you were stupid, but I had no idea you'd take it that far.
A c-cat? Nope, I saw nothing. Got nothing to tell you.
They're still dicks, so let's see what else there is around town.
West of the boys is the town inn. You should all know what this is for. Resting at an inn will restore the entire party's HP and MP to full.
There's also this girl nearby. One of the neat touches in this game is that apart from a few generic soldiers, literally every NPC we can interact with has a name. Not that it really changes anything, but I thought it was cool.
The western part of town has an item shop.
I never went far in there, but I found a couple of animal corpses who died from poisoning. Might be best to take a few antidotes with you if you're serious about this. Who knows what's inside there.
Sound advice. As is expected of an item shop at the beginning of the game, the shop's selection is fairly small. Brown Herbs restore 50 HP, while the other items cure poison, blindness, and silence respectively.
Since the game starts us off with 20 gold and a couple of Brown Herbs, I pick up a couple of antidotes on Farrel's suggestion.
The house next to the item shop holds this fellow who shatters the fourth wall without hesitation. I mentioned a moment ago that there's one other button we can use while controlling Hilbert, and that is the "Hex challenge" button. If you use the Hex challenge button to talk to an NPC, you'll play a game of Hex with them if they're willing (if not, they'll just say whatever they say when you talk to them normally). Again, though, I'll be explaining Hex at a later point. I'd like to actually start playing the real game first before we get into minigames.
The only other house in town is this one in the far west, which is where Cathy lives.
Her dad turns out to be a complete ass though. What the hell, man?
We can also head upstairs and get Cathy's hopes up if we feel like it.
Anyway, that's about all there is to do in our hometown. We can head out to the north.
And we find ourselves on the world map. Unlike most RPGs, the world map is completely safe, and we can walk around it as much as we want without worrying about getting into a battle. There's also a minimap in the lower right, though it's a bit hard to see since at the moment it's almost blank.
There's only two destinations for us right now. To the north is a mountain pass...
... but it's blocked by a soldier who won't let us through. And the cave to the west...
... is the abandoned copper squaremine. Whoops.
Didn't think it'd be that easy. Looks like I'll have to go deeper inside.
Welp, this is our first dungeon, so let's head north and--
And it's battle time. Battles in Last Scenario are random, and unlike in Exit Fate, they begin without warning. The battle system for this game is fairly straightforward, so I'll just give a brief overview.
Battles in Last Scenario are divided into rounds, with each character and enemy getting one turn during a round. When a round begins, we have three choices: Fight, which allows us to select commands for our characters, Auto, which will cause all of our characters to attack physically (generally not a good idea unless we're very overpowered), and Escape, which allows us to attempt to run. Running usually succeeds, but if it doesn't, the enemies will get a free round to attack while we can do nothing.
If we select Fight, this menu will show up once for each character in our party. All of these options should be fairly intuitive. We can attack normally, cast a spell (we don't have any), use an item from our inventory, or defend.
Once all of our characters have commands, the round begins and each combatant takes their turn, starting with the combatant with the highest speed. Hilbert gets the first attack and deals a small amount of damage to the enemy kobold. Like the early Final Fantasy games, Last Scenario has little animation when it comes to combat. When Hilbert attacks, he simply flashes briefly and then an arrow falls into the enemy's head. As you can see, he fights with a bow.
The kobold then counters with an attack of its own. In addition to losing a bit of HP, you'll notice the damage also filled up Hilbert's Crisis bar slightly. Whenever a character takes damage from an attack, their Crisis bar will fill by an amount equal to the percentage of their max HP that they just lost. So if a character takes 10% of their max HP in damage, for example, their Crisis bar will fill 10% of the way. Crisis is used with spellcards, which we'll get to in the next update.
After that, the round ends and the cycle begins again.
There's not much else to say about a one-on-one fight like this. We trade a few more attacks until Hilbert finishes off the kobold with a critical.
As is customary in RPGs, winning the battle nets us experience, money, and sometimes items. There's also a fourth box in the bottom right which will show another type of item enemies can drop, but I'll explain that when something actually shows up there.
In any case, this seems like a good place to take a break, so we'll pause here for now.
Next time: We get down to some real gameplay and explore the mine in earnest. Also magic.