Part 14: Video 11
Those Resistance soldiers REALLY work them Moogle antennae. And I LOVE Elpizos new eyeliner. Smashing!
(Alternatively, bad pun on the main gimickenemy.)
Also, Z-Saber skill up! We can now charge our slash in less time!
Welp, there goes the neighborhood.
100 pt. Requirements:
-Clear time: 4:00
-Enemies killed: 37
-Mission: Dont Kill your Buddies. -2 Points per buddy killed.
Hard mode makes it so that the brainwashed soldiers will fall apart at the mere MENTION of a Z-saber, and can only withstand a single one of your bullets, so you have to be careful taking out the few enemies scattered around them.
Among the second mission set, the Crystal Cave is most definitely the most visually distinctive. Its also the one with the highest learning curve, being incredibly tough to tackle at first, but gradually getting easier.
Taking place at the crash site of the interquel stage bomber, it has a very nice run-down feel to it, one which the music only serves to accentuate. It drops a couple Spikings on you right off the bat which is never nice, but overall the first part of the stage just feels good. It doesnt last all that long, though, at which point youre dropped into the so-called Crystal cave, where the first of the stage gimmicks rears its head.
Those things are two sides of a special enemy known as a Hottalook, a foe placed specifically to help you. See, the crystals have the rather unique property of being INVISIBLE, and also are placed on top of a bed of spikes, which makes platforming a wee bit challenging. Like the Hottalook, the crystals come in two colors, red and blue, and they *only* become visible for a brief moment upon landing a hit on the hottalook, which always hovers a set distance in front of you.
Once you do land a hit, two things will happen: One, the crystals matching the Hottalooks color will fade in for a couple seconds, and two, the thing will release 3 (easily killable) mini versions of itself. If you wait for a bit, the Hotta will then flip sides, allowing you to hit the opposite color.
The strategy thus becomes to inch your way along, hitting the hottalook to reveal your path, and making your way safely across to avoid the spikes. Some of the jumps are rather tricky, and rushing heedlessly will often dump you into a pit of spikes, so the section can be a bit frustrating for first-time players. Thankfully, the Hottalook is completely invincible, so youll never have to worry about losing your figurative compass in the maze of crystals.
HOWEVER. There is an alternative strat, one which essentially renders Mr. Hott irrelevant. See, if you look closely at the spike pit, youll notice that every time theres no crystal platform present to protect you, the ground will be slightly raised. This is true for both sections of crystalline platforming, and thus, rather than bother with shooting Hott every few seconds, you can just study the lay of the land and jump accordingly. Super-pro graphic to demonstrate what I mean:
Once you know this, the sections childs play, but I personally recall many, MANY deaths at the hands of those spikes. Its fair, but difficult.
Also, the Hottalook makes great form fodder for people who arent stupid (me), seeing as it can spawn three enemies at a time, about once every 3 seconds. The little Hotts are all grouped together at first, and make it childs play to get kills on them to meet the requirements for the rise (jump slash em), X (Shoot em), or defense (boomerang em) forms. So, yknow. Do that.
NOT DONE YET, THOUGH. Unlike the other Guardians stages, this one has some real meat on its bones, and gets a second gimmick. Say hello to our friends, the resistance soldiers!
Seems Neo Arcadia (Just Harpuia?) intercepted the scouting Resistance troops and outfitted them with a spiffy new antennae. The antenna brainwashes them, powers their gun up to the point that theyre actually capable of doing something, and is quite a charming fashion accessory to boot. I have to assume the soldiers just have some kind of plug in their noggins specifically for this kind of thing to go into.
Anyway, theyre scattered around the crashed airship that occupies the latter half of the stage, and can be quite a nuisance. Obviously we dont want to kill them, but they have no such qualms, and will not hesitate to fire on Zero should they see him. Theyre sturdy little guys and can take a shot or two, and will be temporarily disabled with no penalty to you should you choose to give them a little love tap, but overdo it and theyll explode everywhere. I think I said something about there not being any more stage-specific objectives, but I forgot about this one; if you kill them, you both penalize your mission score and (like the soldiers in Hylegs stage) prevent them from showing up later in the Resistance barracks. So dont kill them.
Should you CHOOSE to kill them, though, theyll hilariously enough each drop a 1-up for you. So you can kill your teammates for personal gain if you wanna!
They have their own dialogue after the stage, but because were doing this one last (and are forced immediately into the next stage) we wouldnt actually be able to see said dialogue before the forced mission triggers a flag that changes the text. As such, Ill put it here. Its mostly pointless drivel, but if you want it here ya go. Theyre all located on the 2nd floor barracks, which were previously empty.
Soldier #1 (outside rooms): I remember up until I headed for the crashed aircraft Neo Arcadia is very scary
Soldier #2 (outside rooms, end of hall): I was brainwashed? I had no idea
#3, #4 first room: What?!! I conducted attacks against Mr. Zero? It must be some mistake!?/ Mr. Zero. You saved me? Thank you very much.
#5, #6 second room: For a new Resistance Base, dont you think this room is too small?/Is it true that I was brainwashed? I dont remember at all.
#7, #8 third room: Mr. Zero, youre a lifesaver./Even though I was brainwashed, I cant believe I turned a gun on you, Mr. Zero My apologies for acting like that.
#9, #10 fourth room: I almost gave up returning to the base I still cant believe that I survived./If you hadnt rescued me, I might have killed my comrade. I feel so disgusted just thinking about it
Last thing to note: the crashed aircraft is exactly like it was in its own stage, but sadly the ladder leading inside has been blocked off by an indestructible iron plate. This means that all the Cyber-elves located within are missable, and should you miss them youll have to wait for new game+.
E; wait no I'm dumb.
Oni Elem posted:
You can go back into the ship crash site after you complete that mission if I recall properly. The ladder is blocked off during the mission so you don't stray off.
I'd tried it before, and going back to the Crystal Cave just boots you out of the mission entirely once you reach it.
HOWEVER. You're right, you can. The dang thing makes a separate entry in the Operator's menu when you finish it, and places it a couple entries above where new missions are usually put(placing where it first appeared post-Operation Righteous Strike). Managed to escape my notice; now that I think about it, I vaguely recall this, but seeing as I've never had to go back for years completely blanked. Thanks for pointing this out!
Our fourth and final saber skill. Following in the footsteps of the buster set, this ones the non-elemental equivalent of the Laser shot we got aaaaall the way back in the second stage. The Japanese translates as Mirage blade.
It involves holding down and pressing the Saber button whilst standing still, and when used produces a sizable green shockwave not unlike Harpuias own slashes. However, in our case, the shockwave is rather limited in distance, only capable of traveling about two body lengths before dissipating.
This really hurts some of its potential usefulness as an attack, but it still has one thing going for it: Much like the Laser shot, the Kougenjin pierces enemy shields, and thusly can be used to take them out quicker. Its not stand-out powerful though, so youll usually have to use it a few times in a row to get the desired result, and seeing as you cant move while executing it its a little risky.
No elemental adaptation for this one, but it still has some referential goodness for me to talk about. Unlike the other three saber skills, this one isnt strictly a throwback to an ability from X4, but rather its an ability Zeros showcased throughout his appearances, starting with the battle against him in Mega Man X2. Its varied in size, range, and damage over the years (at one point it got so huge it covered 2/3s of the screen and became an instant kill), but this is the first time its put in the hands of the player, which is pretty sweet. Not INCREDIBLY useful, but cool nonetheless.
Golem ty-Ok seriously guys? 4 times? What is so special about the Golem type E I mean really
- Soaring strike: Rises into the air, then dives in an arc-like pattern from one corner of the screen to the other, firing a shockwave diagonally downwards about halfway through.
- Pile driver: Rises into the air, then dives deep to just above ground level. If he makes contact with Zero, youll be lifted off the ground to a great height, at which point Harpuia will turn over and fly straight towards the ground, slamming you into the dirt with great force. Yells out I got you now! Fall! in Japanese.
- Purple lightning: Crosses his Sonic Blades above his head, and channels electrical energy through his body. Calls down 5 lightning strikes aimed at Zeros position, lasting for about a second and dissipating for a brief moment before the next strike lands. Calls out Skewer him! before the attack; either lead the strikes a bit, or hit Harpuia with an attack to knock him back onto the ground.
- EMP Missiles: Fires off 3 slow-moving, semi-homing missiles. Said missiles will move a short distance, crackle with electricity, then correct their trajectories towards Zeros current location. Theyll correct themselves twice, then give up and fly upwards off the screen. Destructible with normal attacks, and Harpuia can be knocked out of the attack, so just strike him.
- Sonic slashes: Used when knocked to the ground; strikes three times with his twin Sonic Blades, with each slash producing a shockwave. First one goes straight forward, second goes at a slight upwards angle, and the third also goes straight. Jump over the first, fall under the second, and leap the third. Always followed by either a quick, sweeping ascent that produces a shockwave traveling diagonally downwards, or
- Extremespeed: Crouches for a brief moment, then travels 2/3s of the screen at speeds so great hes only visible as a green blur. The attack sends Zero flying if it connects, but if youre located near the edge of the screen and fail to fly out of his range, Harpuias follow-up rising slash will also connect and cause you to get launched high in the air. Jump over and forwards to avoid; hell always stop at your current horizontal position, so just jumping straight up will allow his uppercut to land.
- EX Skill: Sonic Boom: Bathes himself in a green aura, rises up to the top of the screen, and proceeds to fly rapidly back and forth across the entire battlefield. Each pass will result in a shockwave slightly larger than half the screen being sent down towards Zero, for a total of 8 before the moves completion. Dash back and forth rapidly to weave in between them.
Harpuias the wise and prideful leader of both the Guardians and, currently, Neo Arcadia as a whole.
As such, he gets all the good scenes and hogs the character development. Initially appearing as a vain commander under the orders of Copy X, he thought nothing of the Resistance, Zero, or anyone else, simply carrying out orders without any sort of opposing force. Upon meeting (and being defeated by) Zero, however, his outlook began to change; while he still prioritizes the safety of the humans he shelters above all else, hes gradually become further and further open to the idea that the Resistance isnt necessarily his enemy. As such, hes avoided engaging them beyond those instances where hes directly confronted by a foe, and was even responsible for Zeros safe return to the new Resistance base following his breakdown in the Sand Wilderness. An antagonist, but not necessarily an enemy, Harpuias definitely the most sympathetic of the Guardians at present.
As for design. His name, Harpuia, is the actual Ancient Greek work for Harpy, due in large part to his aerial theming. Aligned with lightning, his entire body is slim and streamlined for swift movement through the air, and his green coloration fits the bill as well because someone somewhere decided green = air at some point. His powers include tornado-summoning, lightning-calling, shockwave-producing, and suplexes.
Due to the streamlining, and the fact that Harpies are monsterbirds with ladyparts, and also his very high-pitched battle vocalizations, lots of people mistake him for a her. This is not the case, do not be fooled, Harpuias a guy robot which matters quite a bit because
Other notes: He has big boosters on his back, which produce the thrust needed for his aerial maneuvers, and his helmet is apparently reminiscent of Valkeries, which if intentional only further compounds his gender ambiguity due to the fact that they were/are female warrior spirits. His twin swords are known as Sonic Blades, and are also part of that obscure 10 shining weapons thing.
The fight against him in Zero 1 is rather infamous, due to a shoddy AI that would allow you to hit him with a charged ice attack, send him into his 3-strike combo, hit him again, and send him into the combo once more ad infinitum. Theyve fixed that up a bit here, allowing him to use different moves when knocked to the ground (like immediately launching Sonic boom) or to flow from the combo into a different move (like Extremespeed), but he still suffers a lot from being easily stunned. And the reduced health bar doesnt do him any favors when it comes to quick takedowns.
Basically, all of his attacks, sans Pile driver, are ranged attacks. Unfortunately for him, the moment he launches most of them (Lightning and Missile especially), you can simply shoot a single shot and stop the move in its tracks. It trivializes the majority of his techniques, and makes the fight more about zoning and making sure youre never in a spot where a quick shockwave could come at an angle thats impossible to dodge. The triple strike takes a bit of getting used to, but once youve got the pattern its cake. Youtube does a number on em, though; all his shockwaves are meant to flicker every other frame, so you wont be seeing half of em. I used to mirror on Blip, but thats no longer an option so just ~*imagine*~.
Theres only two moves likely to give you trouble, with the first being Extremespeed. Hes invincible while using it (more than likely a precaution to stop the Zero 1 tactic), and launches with a very brief telegraph compared to his other moves, which makes dodging a bit of an acquired taste. Simply jumping wont do the trick, and instinct generally tells you to move AWAY from him, so his long dash range can really catch you off guard and get you caught in his upwards strike.
The other problematic one is, of course, his EX Skill. As is customary with the guardians, its long-lasting and rather annoying. In his Zero 1 appearance, the move consisted of fighting against a tornado trying to push you into a pair of electrical barriers, but here, its been dangerously tuned up and turned into a non-stop onslaught of screen-wide shockwavy death. They launch quickly, fall at a rate of 1 per second, take 1/3 of your life with every hit, require you to dash the entire length of the screen to dodge each one, and last seemingly forever. Worse still is the fact that he REALLY wants to get two of them off, so therell be instances like in the hard mode vid where the move will end, only for him to *instantly* launch it again. Not fun.
Two special things to note before I end this. Firstly, upon dying to him, hell taunt you with Are you serious? How can a legend die? He appears to be the only boss so far to have such a death taunt, dunno why they only gave one to HIM but I know later games make it a habit.
Secondly, I put a couple of his translated quotes in the moveset section. Ive been looking for a source for those for some time, and I finally managed to find one that seems fairly reliable, so I can put his and a couple later ones in. Zero 2 bosses dont have all that many, with the only major one being Phoenix Magnion (Burn..., It's no use..., and You pest... being a couple examples) but I wanted it for the final boss so now Ill be able to do that.
All in all Harpuias better than his Zero 1 appearance, but still not amazing. Id put him on par with Leviathan, though Fefnirs boss battle is legitimately pretty fun.
This image has always made me chuckle, much like Elpizos own deliciously evil one. If there was any doubt hes gone off the deep end at this point
Also, for those not paying attention, he has now gathered:
-A Key to unlock the seal of the Dark Elf. Obtained from the Forest of Notus, its form is uncertain but its probably fairly ominous given that X himself tried to prevent Elpizo from getting it.
-A transport craft, presumably a Tentolancer, obtained from the Shuttle factory. Needed because portable trans servers wont do the job when trying to bust into Neo Arcadia, and he doesnt have access to the bases heavy-duty one anymore.
-A Secret code, obtained from Computer zone 2. Needed to unlock a door to the highest security area in Neo Arcadea, presumably where the Dark Elf is.
-An IFF Beacon, obtained from the bomber crash site. Used by Neo Arcadia to differentiate between friendly and enemy craft, needed to allow his transport to get by security undetected.
Oh, also, in the time it took us to beat Harpuia and get back to base, hes apparently already gotten elbow-deep in Neo Arcadias innards. Weve established how fast he is in the Forest of Notus, but this is a whole nother level.
Only one *really* new track, but I realized I forgot to up Cyber Xs theme, Cyberelf, after his initial appearance in Hylegs stage. OOPS.
Cyberelfs okay, if a bit repetitive, but the Crystal caves theme (titled Flash Back) is quite enjoyable. Its got a nice junky, worn-down feel to it I really dig. Title obviously references the Déjà vu of being back on the bomber.