Part 84: Commentary: Updates 66 - 70
This quest is pretty similar to the one with Esmeralda earlier, except this time you're hanging out with Pearl and there's less talking. You're looking for the keys to Diana's heart, except they're literal keys for some reason. This quest is kinda dull after doing the Esmeralda one, where you had some nice banter and backstory with her as you looked for her sister's cores. Pearl's not nearly as chatty here.
The main point of the quest is to set up the story of the Jumi Arc. Diana goes into the backstory of the Jumi, much of which has already been stated at various points, and we finally get into why Sandra's been such a dick to the Jumi: to punish them for letting Florina, the only Jumi who can cry, give up her life force to support the Jumi race.
Sandra's pissed at Diana in particular, as she waged a war with Deathbringer (the 316th mention of the unimpressive sub-boss) and used Florina's tears to keep the Jumi going. Of course, Sandra's rather biased here, but it doesn't really matter in the end, as Sandra just takes Diana's core and heads off. And...that's pretty much it for this quest.
The next Jumi quest has us finally meet Florina, trapped inside Pandora's Box over at Alex's shop in Geo. Despite being an actual Jumi quest, the storyline isn't really advanced here so much as we find out yet more backstory about the main characters of this quest, this time through Florina's dreams. Belle's also back, the second of only two quests she's in, to send us into Florina's dreams.
And I must say, Florina must really have some fucked-up dreams if she dreams of a school of Basket Fish perving over a dancer.
There are several flashbacks, the first couple between Lady Blackpearl and Elazul. They don't really make much sense, though. In the first one, there's talk about Elazul letting his last guardian die, and then there's mention of Pearl, which...doesn't really make much sense with the context of the next quest, but whatever.
Then we find out in their second encounter that Pearl was that guardian, which...makes even less sense.
Then Sandra reveals her plan, though it doesn't really click until near the end of the next quest. Blackpearl plans to stop Sandra since Sandra's a Jumi genocider and all, but then she falls for...some reason. Then we fight yet another fucking Jewel Beast.
Then the next cutscene is Elazul running into regular Pearl, who acts as if everything is normal.
In the end, this was kind of messed up, and none of this really makes much sense. We don't actually advance the plot, we simply learn some backstory which may or may not be true.
I can't believe this is considered a Jumi quest, yet the Esmeralda quest isn't. Whatever.
Before we get to the actual quest, my final "pet" is this Golem. I used my old bow to have a ranged partner, though it ended up not really doing anything in most battles. Since the thread voted Marcie, in honor of the robot companion in the penultimate dungeon of the very first Seiken Densetsu game (Final Fantasy Adventure), I painted it grey, though maybe green would've been more appropriate for a Game Boy character.
Golems are simple to make, and logic blocks are at least intuitive enough to stick on a Golem, but it still takes a lot of effort to figure out how to really make a Golem that will actually be useful in combat. Mine certainly wasn't that handy in combat, even though I only used it for a handful of battles, most of them I couldn't even see the damn thing in. Ah well, let's get to the good stuff now.
Anyway, the final Jumi quest begins with our old friend Inspector Boyd bringing us to an abandoned jewel shop in Geo, except it's one we've been to plenty of times, one run by Alex. We get in, while Boyd sits the rest of the quest out.
Boyd mentioned Nunuzac coming here looking for cores, saying how disgraceful such an act is, but I prefer to think he was looking for Esmeralda's sister's cores to help her. Then again, he is a bit racist, calling Esmeralda "dirt" and whatnot, so who knows.
We run into Elazul and Pearl, and then lead them to Florina inside Pandora's Box. Pearl becomes Blackpearl, and she and Florina talk a bit. Florina mentions the Sword of Mana, which the sword Blackpearl has obviously isn't, since it's an artifact that leads to the final quest of the game.
Anyway, Elazul's finally had enough of this bullshit and asks Blackpearl just what the hell is the deal between her and Pearl. This leads to a lengthy flashback between Alex and Blackpearl. Blackpearl was Florina's guardian until the war with Deathbringer or whatever led her to relinquish her knightdom to Alexandra. As you probably guessed, Alexandra = Alex + Sandra, with the two being the same. It's actually interesting that we have two people with dual identities, though Alex/Sandra are the same person while Pearl/Blackpearl are two different people.
At any rate, Alexandra is obsessed with saving Florina, who continually gives her life to the Jumi, and attacks Blackpearl, damaging her core. Then Pearl is born to shoulder Florina's pain...or something. Then Florina disappears, and Pearl takes over. At this point, you decide whether to take Elazul or Pearl/Blackpearl to the final battle. Taking Pearl gives you access to Blackpearl and her incredibly broken Syncho for boss battles, plus Elazul gives you a free 1H sword, even if it is mediocre, plus it leads to a nice showdown between Blackpearl and Alexandra, two rivals with a bit of backstory to them, which is why I chose that way. That said, you can take Elazul as well and nothing will really change other than Alexandra's form when you meet her and a few other minor details.
So the Bejeweled City... Where to start... Oh yes, the fucking music.
This is a favorite for many, and while it's not necessarily my favorite (mostly because this game has so much awesome music it's impossible to choose a favorite), it's still a very fantastic piece in an incredibly strong soundtrack, and one that really sets the mood for the final dungeon of the Jumi Arc, which incidentally is the abandoned city the Jumi race once called home.
The actual dungeon is kind of annoying, actually. There are four floors, though each floor is smaller than the last, which fits with the visual layout of the city. Before you can even try advancing, you have to beat up a Jewel Beast. Almost every battle in Legend of Mana is trivial as is, and if you chose Pearl to come with you, she'll change into Lady Blackperl, and trivial boss battles become complete jokes. Then, you end up having to guess which combination of jewels you need to open the door, with the door chiming once for each correct jewel you have. The problem is that once you use certain jewels, you can and will need to go back and recollect them to advance. This isn't intuitive, but fortunately that's the worst part of this. Overall, the puzzle isn't bad, but it can take awhile to figure out.
The final jewel, the diamond, is protected by a golem, the only respawnable one you'll meet in the game. Incidentally, this is also the only battle in the game where you can continually gain boss-level EXP
There's also a couple of cutscenes delving into even more backstory. There's probably more backstory to this quest than there is present story, though it's interesting enough that I'll forgive it.
Eventually, we reach Florina and run into Alex/Sandra, and also the Lord of Jewels. Then it's officially revealed that Sandra's helping feed the Lord of Jewels so that he can fully heal Florina. The 999th core he eats is the partner you didn't choose, and then you fight a weak boss battle before Alex/Sandra sacrificies him/herself to fully power up the Lord of Jewels into a monster whale which...well, it's hard to gauge how difficult a final boss is when you have fucking Blackpearl on your team.
So at the end, the entire Jumi race is essentially dead, and despite stopping Sandra and the Lord of Jewels, the Jumi are as good as extinct. Which, in a rare moment, causes our hero to really get involved in the quest by shedding a single tear, thus turning into stone. As for the rest, well, you've seen it play out.
This is my favorite ending of the quests, because your character is so intricately involved in this. For the Faeries, your character has fuck-all to do with anything and it's all about laughing at Matilda for being an idiot when Irwin shuns her in hell. For the Dragon Arc, it's more about the sibling bond between Larc and Sierra and the resurrection of the dragons.
Here, you literally watch the person you're controlling die. You watch the two main characters of this quest go up to the two children you take care of, and nonverbally tell them that, well, you're not coming back. Then, in essentially the only real instance of your character actually saying something, your protagonist returns to great fanfare. It's incredibly emotional if you get attached to your silent protagonist oberserver, and it just cements how amazing the Jumi arc is.
In the end, most would agree that the Jumi arc is the strongest of the three main arcs. Unlike the Faerie arc, you can end up sympathizing with everyone, even Sandra, and unlike the Dragon arc, there's a lot of complex emotions that complicate everything. The Jumi have a ton of depth and care put into their backstory, and it's yet another example of the love and care put into this wonderful game that there's so much development for this one race of peoples. But perhaps most importantly, it's in this quest more than any other that your character is truly involved. You're really an observing bystander in the Faerie arc, and while you're the catalyst for the events in the Dragon arc, it's really about Larc and Sierra. In the Jumi arc, you're the one driving everything, and by the end it's Elazul and Pearl looking to you, the player, for guidance. For a game where 90% of the time your character is really just observing what's going on, it makes it all the more special when your character saves an entire race through an incredible moment of self-sacrifice, making their return all the sweeter.
Niccolo Calls It Quits?
So of course rather than end our journey there, I chose to end it the way we started: helping some asshole rabbit con someone. In this case, Niccolo's moved up into conning a nice mansion out of a sick matron.
The twist hewe is that Niccowo has amnesia, so he's less of an asshowe than usual. Hewe, we see a diffewent side of Niccowo that we've never seen befowe, or will ever see again for that matter: the compassionate one.
Gameplay-wise, it's not very intuitive where you're supposed to go. You trigger things in Geo, then find Niccolo in Polpota, then go between Geo and Gato before going to Polpota again. The Geo stuff is pretty intuitive, but I don't think anything really tells you to visit Polpota or Gato. If you already know what to do, though, it's a very simple quest, though I don't know why Niccolo couldn't just gather all the herbs at once and save us a few steps.
Then again, the whole appeal is the dialogue to the final chapter of the story of asshole rabbit merchant.
After grabbing the third leaf, Niccolo falls to his death, except he doesn't. Instead, you have to conclude that he ended up in Polpota again. From there, the game automates and Niccolo's revealed to be back to his old asshole self, taking the mansion from Kristie, but being merciful enough to make her the caretaker of the place while he continues his "merchant" business.
Whether he was faking his amnesia the entire time is open-ended, but for someone who has no recollection of the promises he made as his "good" self, Niccolo knew he had the final leaf he needed to cure Kristie, so it's really not that unreasonable to assume he did a long-con there. But hey, either way works, and the open-ended ways you can assume certain events transpire is just another part of the charm of this game.
And, sadly, this is the final regular quest of the game. It's been one amazing ride, and I'm happy you all have followed so far. Now, we've just the final quest to go, and after doing a sum-up I can't wait to complete it and bring this amazing, wonderful tale to a close. Thanks very much for following, and I hope you enjoy the finale to come!