Part 37: A Blast from the PastChapter 32: A Blast from the Past
With the Blue Dragon restored and everything we can do in West Katarina done, let's take the long journey over to the Marius Zone.
Seriously, it's surprisingly long considering that the journey is just a straight path down the river. It's a solid minute of traveling in a straight line.
Frankly, having a vehicle really adds little to the game. Consider what a vehicle does in other games... allows you to visit places you weren't able to before. Do side quests. Roam the world in a blink of an eye.
The problem in this game is that first off, your progress after obtaining the Destiny is a linear path forward anyway. You're not going to places you saw previously and couldn't go to before. It's just that the second half of the world map is designed to be traversed with a vehicle. It's not like getting the airship and discovering some hidden village in a mountain range.
Also the Destiny is sloooow. They speed it up the remake, and the world map is smaller, but it feels like it takes forever to get anywh-
Oh wait a thing is happening.
: I've never seen anything like this! The whole town is flying.
: Since Althena is powering this world no longer, I wonder where the magic to levitate an entire city is coming from?
: It is... it must be! I don't believe it! It's Neo-Vane!
Why I believe we found where Borgan must have scampered off to. And it is like Vane! Except kinda shitty looking.
Why the fuck is the Destiny even in the damned game?!
: What kind of power is it they're using?!
: It's definitely magic, but what's the source? Could it be that they are drawing on the power of the Black Dragon? If that's the case, their range must be limited.
Welcome to the Marius Zone. Guess that dude in Horam told us not to go here for a reason. While we don't have a clear direction given, there's really only way to go: west. And so we shall.
I really have no idea why the "no Destiny ramps" are here. Spoiler alert: once we get the Destiny back (oh, spoiler, we're getting it back eventually) we're not gonna wanna come back this way.
Oh hey, I remember these guys from the tournament! They were total push-overs; since we've got a long journey ahead, let's just use regular attacks.
...so, uh I had no idea they did that. I never actually attacked them with normal attacks when I fought them in the arena. Why would I? Well, the Wolf Guards in the arena do the counter as well, and theirs is far less damaging. (They're technically not exactly the same; the ones in the arena are weaker) These Wolf Guards... well all of them are in the counter position, and I have both Jean and Hiro attack... Moreover, their normal attack hurts like hell too.
I think the game isn't fucking around any more.
This area's also got these enemies. The Demon Wolf also has a special that has all the other Demon Wolves attack at once.
Their version, however, hits everyone. Ouch. For an added bonus, they went before Jean! Fortunately, their HP is miniscule.
The Lizard Guard, on the other hand, is a brick wall of HP. They have a special, but I was anxious to not die, so I didn't see it. Sorry. But at least I took 'em do-
Oh fuck you.
Wow I had a lot of words for traveling down a straight line for a minute and two battles. Anyway, here we are. Wherever here is.
This is the Zaback Mines,
The mines look like they might be kind of interesting. But they're not. They're really not. It has four floors, but there's only one piece of treasure in the entire place, and only one floor with more than an up stairs and a down stairs.
The enemies at least rather different. Boomba Kids will do one of two things. Nothing, or, if they're flashing, walk over to your party and self destruct.
It's just a regular AoE blast, and a rather unwhelming one, too.
While the only enemy type in the mines are the Boomba Kids, there are different types of Boomba Kid. They all have similar behavior, but each do something different when they explode.
The ones with the googlely eyes make you fall asleep. Sleeping explosions. Sure.
The mustached ones just do a higher damage, single target explosion.
On to top it off, they give remarkably shit rewards. I'm not actually sure if they deduct EXP if they explode rather than you kill them, but even in this example I killed four out of five. So yeah. Crap.
Navigating the mine isn't hard. On the first floor go left, and on the next floor go right until you reach the stairs. There is more to this floor, but no reason to explore it.
Now on the third floor (well, actually it's B2-B, to make it seem more confusing than it actually is) there is actually stuff! Again, you can go left and just exit, but if instead of heading to the next floor you go down, you'll reach the only chest here! (You can also go down, left, and then down again.)
Believe it or not, this is an accessory. It allows you to cast Clean Magic. Honestly, I rarely use Ronnie's Clean Magic as it is. Almost half of my party has Tri Rings on, and the other half has protection from at least some ailments.
From the chest, go left a bit, under the pathway, and you'll find...
: It's coursing through the rock around this door! We must find the key to open it!
If you guessed we'll be back here later, congratulations! Also, I hope you found this door! (And remember where it is)
Anywho, head down, right, under the pathway, and then up to the stairs.
And finally you're on the top floor. Just go up onto the upper path you see there, go all the way left, down, and then right to FREEDOM!
Oh, and there's a town here. Huh. Well, let's introduce ourselves to the natives.
: All failed the trial of Borgan, and so must work here until they die.
... ... ...and how is the local sports team doing?
: But the rest were all sent here when they failed his magic trial. That man over there is teaching the children to use magic so they can get out. I've worked at this mine since I was a child. I'm used to the hard work. Now the teacher over there is another matter entirely. I heard him crying to himself the other night! Can you believe that?! That big baby...
: Now my family is enslaved to him for generations.
So Borgan's been busy, as you can tell. He's apparently trying to revive Vane's tradition of the magic trial. Although, in the olden days, they didn't enslave you if you failed. You... died in a cave.
: Borgan got the power to creat Neo-Vane from the diamonds of this mine. Didn't you know that?
And in case you're wondering, this what Borgan wants from this town. Hm...
: Jealousy is often the cause of fights around here. It's so sad. Borgan has turned us even against each other...
: I used to be a teacher in town, but I came here to try to teach the children magic.
: They must be paying you a fortune to work in this dump!
I don't think you get how teaching works, Lem.
But, as you might guess, this magic trial set up is putting a lot pressure on kids and their families.
: I don't want to pass the test and be carted off to some fancy city! Enslaved or not, I want to stay here with my family!
: That's so sweet! You'd give up your future to stay with your family!
: If you forget the magic you've learned, you'll be enslaved at the mines! Your father and I don't want that, so please... study!
Just a... smidgen.
: The boy next door still can't do the magic of Blaze, but my boy mastered that when he was only three! His parents must be so embarrassed! I know I'd be!
But on the other hand some people just thrive in cutthroat environments. You know... assholes.
: In fact, I can't wait until it's time for me to actually take the test. I suspect that I'll have the highest rating of all the applicants this year. But that shouldn't be a surprise to anyone, as I do come from superior stock.
: If you're that skilled, why not apply to the Magic Guild of Vane?
: Vane? Are you kidding? That place is for unskilled people of the old order. I thought that inferior clan had decayed well past repair by now.
What is this, Borgan's Mini Me?
: Why you little! I suspect you need to have your butt whipped well past repair! Maybe it'll knock some of that arrogance out of you!
Really, it's just kind of depressing all around. So that leads us to our next logical step.
: The things that stinks is the slaves of Borgan have no cash to pay their tabs! I'm up to my ears in I.O.U.S!
...how does this town even have a cash economy any more?
: West of the Minea sea this is another treasure trove, too! They say it's shaped like a giant lion's head! But... you guys look like you're too busy... forget about it.
Actually, he's a little mixed up. The dungeon shaped like a lion's head is in the Marius Zone, not Minea Sea. But yeah, could this possibly be leading up... optional dungeons?!
I'm pretty sure your sprite isn't supposed to be an old woman, but go ahead.
: You see, a long time ago, her husband died, but not before giving her a son. She made that boy study very hard, and it paid off because he passed the trial. Now that he's in Neo-Vane, she's become a pathetic, sobbing alcoholic. I think it's because her son went away like her husband, and even though her son's still alive, she can never see him. You see, her magic power's too low to gain entrance to Neo-Vane, even to visit.
Wow, this lady has had some really-
: I feel so sorry for the old lady, but what can you do? It's hopeless.
Oh. Oh. You were just telling her story. That's a little bit presumptuous, dude!
: Well, maybe you can start a local chapter of 'AA' and get her the help she needs! Remember, I get half the profits of the refreshments at the meetings! After all, it was my idea!
And Lemina kills any somber mood that was left.
Uh, sorry we were talking about you behind your back.
Why are places filled with alcoholics so dammned depressing?!
: That's an imitation of ancient Vane. Borgan called it 'Neo-Vane.' People who are not gifted with magic ability are barred from entering. Those that attempt the trial to enter but fail it are sent here to labor their meaningless lives away as slaves of Borgan.
: But... Grandpa... I...
: Ah, Lemina, you are always the kind one, weren't you? There's nothing you can do. My fate was sealed the day I tried to enter Neo-Vane. If I hadn't failed, I would still be free...
You're not helping buddy. But anyway, we have another mysterious grandpa. In this case, the English script implies they know each other, leading one to believe that he is Lemina's literal grandfather. Probably isn't supposed to be. For one, why would Lem's grandpa be here? I guess no one really does believe in the Vane Magic Guild.
Any who, if we go up the stairs, there's a statue of Althena.
That costs money to use. And there are no other free statues around, unless we want to walk back to the Destiny, so we have to pay. Borgan, you diabolical bastard!
There are actually quite a few a people milling around on the upper layer of town. It's kinda neat. Also, one would think these clothes bridges would be horribly unsafe. Does this place even pass OSHA standards?!
: Ha ha ha ha... I just made that up. Funny, huh?
...good for you.
: I can't wait until he passes the trial and gets out of here. I'm tired of hearing all his bragging, day in and day out. Let me slave in peace!
: Nobody down here likes Borgan. We make up names for him behind his back, like 'Fart-Breath,' or 'Slug-Lips.' I know, it's pretty lame, but it sure does help pass the time.
: ... ...he he he... slug lips!
I know they're a community that's been crushed and enslaved, but one would think they could come up with better insults...
: Failure results in a life of back-breaking labor in misery. Success leads to a life of pleasant luxury in the service of Master Borgan. It's all determined by one small test... and nobody forces you to take it...
: You... mean... you have to work for free?! Why, that's outrageous!
: How is it that you always seem to only tune in on the money aspect of a problem?
Seriously, did Lemina just realize what slavery was?
Well, I think we've learned all we needed to. Let's go gear up.
The armor shop has two new items; the Onyx Armor pictured, and the Onyx Bracelet on the bottom row. While the Onyx Armor is better, it does mean giving up my agility bonus. I passed on the armor, and just bought the bracelets for everyone who needed one.
And the weapon only has two new weapons; the sword pictured, and a Dark Bow. I don't give Lemina bows, and I don't care about Ronfar's weapon most of the time, so I only got the Onyx Sword. Also, I'd like you to note the price there. The Onyx Sword is over a quarter of my current money total! Now, I did get this sword after buying those bracelets, but that was a relatively minor cost. Equipment prices skyrocket at this point.
It's, uh, kinda hard to miss.
: Borgan made it using the power of the Black Dragon diamonds! He keeps all of us mining for more by using fear and intimidation.
: Well, maybe we should stick around and help mine for some of those diamonds. I bet they're worth a king's ransom...
: Lemina! Is that all you ever think about? C'mon! We've got a job to do here!
: Oh pooh! I was just thinking out loud... You're absolutely no fun at all.
: Borgan controls all the operations here in Zaback Mine with magic. If any of us tries to steal what we mine, he finds out and punishes us severely... and we're not talkin' spanking here...
"What I'm trying to say is... if you try that shit, at best you'll lose your hand."
It doesn't look like we have any other ways of getting into Neo Vane, sadly. So we'll have to go in the way everyone else does; magic test.
The way in is on the left side of town, through this building here.
I wonder if this magic test is hard, or if takes a long time. Or what it consists of.
I would say Jean would be in trouble because she's as magical as a rock, but she can make a ghostly duplicate through dancing. If that's not magical, I'm not sure what it is.
: Only those with magic ability are allowed to enter. Our Magic Tester will analyze your magic ability.
Oh god it's not a robot clown, is it?
: If you pass, you'll be allowed to enter. If you failed, you'll be sent to the mines. Now then, please follow me. I'll activate the tester.
Where's the tester, lady?
So... the test just magically detects magic ability?! Well, I guess it would it is a magic test...
: Ronfar! They've got us suspended in mid-air!
: Whooa! Somehow I don't think this means we passed. I just wonder what's down there.
: Neo-Vane is no place for people like you to live. You're sentenced to a life toiled away in Zaback Mine! Good riddance!
There actually is a voice clip of screaming here. I hope no one is crushed that I'm not going to include it.
: Those two don't belong here in Neo-Vane. They knew the risk when they submitted to the test. I don't know why people think they can enter this city without magic. I guess you always get those types that just want something they can't have. Pathetic, isn't it? Well, anyway, enjoy your stay in Neo-Vane!
All right, let's just get the obvious out of the way; why the hell did this... test-thingy reject Ronfar and accept Hiro?! All he can do is throw a boomerang and swing a sword. Well, if we look at their stats...
Hiro still has the highest base wisdom.
Hell, Hiro's base wisdom is higher than Jean or Ronfar's wisdom after equipment bonuses.
It's higher than Lemina's base wisdom! Actually, wow, Lemina's base Wisdom is the worst. Sheesh. Yeah, keep her with a rod.
So clearly this test doesn't care about a person actual magical knowledge, just their inna- well, not strictly their innate ability. Again, Lemina has the lowest base wisdom. But after equipment she has the best! So... I guess all you need to do to pass is to get a magic staff and enchanted robes.
Neo-Vane is kind of stupid.
And next time we'll be exploring it. Yay.