Part 21: Bone Dungeon
So before we even attempt to tackle the Bone Dungeon, we desperately need to get some more experience under our belt. Let's see what this battlefield has to offer.
To start things off, we have the Willows. They're a decent jump in difficulty, doing ~60 damage a shot and they have somewhere around 300 HP. Our axe will make quick work of them, as it does ~200 damage a shot by hitting their weakness.
We can also find Poison Toads, which are simultaneously more and less dangerous than the Willows. Their tongue attack does about 60 damage, but they will spam the hell out of Poison Fluid (which does nothing but poison you), and they have poison-touch on top of it, so they usually end up wasting a lot of their turns. The downside is that it'll take us at least 3 turns to put one down, and poison damage adds up pretty quickly here.
Not pictured: Me running back to Foresta after every other fight because you end them looking like this.
OH COME ON THAT DOESN'T EVEN MAKE SENSE
It's worth it, though. Not only for that precious experience, but we finally got Cure.
Anyway, we only need about 500 experience for another level, so I'm going to go ahead and grind that out in the Level Forest real quick.
Now we're starting to look respectable. Let's go pick up Tristam.
Not too bad, all things considered. Guy can't cast a spell to save his life, but he's fast, pretty strong, and he's got solid defense/HP.
Now, here's the problem. Once Tristam joins, we are on a strict time limit to finish the Bone Dungeon. Those 99 ninja stars aren't going to last forever, and by the creator's own admission, running out of shuriken will make the Bone Dungeon "about 4 times harder". The Bone Dungeon is already a long, tough son of a bitch, and I'm not in the mood to make it any harder, so we'll actually have to skip the battlefield that just opened up.
Not only is it a drain on our already precious shuriken, the jackass went and increased the round count up to 15. Supposedly, higher round counts indicates better prizes, but we'll have to wait until we have Phoebe to find out.
Great. Fucking great. You literally can't even get in the door without being poisoned, and we still can't cure poison outside of casting Life during a fight or dying.
Right, moving on. Basilisks are right motherfuckers and I will actively go out of my way to avoid them. They're marginally stronger than the Willow/Poison Toad, typically doing ~70 damage a pop, but they have a nasty surprise in store for you. These fuckers have Para-touch, and just enough HP that following up one of Tristam's attacks isn't enough to kill them.
The last new enemy for the first room is the Sand Worm, which also confusingly has Para-touch. Quicksand will do about 40 and lower our speed, and Scrunch is good for a straight 100 or so damage. Thankfully, they go down to a 1-2 punch because of their axe weakness.
Ammo now comes in bundles of 8 instead of 10, putting our supplies under even further constraint. Note that after fighting just three enemies, we were already down to 84 shurikens.
First room done. We could have taken the quicksand directly up, but that would mean that we have to fight our way our on our own. For the love of god, do not attempt to fight your way out solo.
The next room is a breather, as we get our Bombs.
And while we're here, let's grab the Iron Shield.
Bombs have been nerfed to hell and back, doing about a quarter of the damage that they would normally do. They supposedly inflict Blindness, but I'll be damned if I ever saw that do anything for me.
Also while we're on the weapons screen, the shuriken have been changed to inflicting sleep and poison instead of paralysis and poison. After all, now that Tristam doesn't one-shot literally everything in the dungeon, we can't have him inflicting ailments that might actually be useful.
Thankfully there's really only two enemies we have to fight in this room, but I'm going to head up top in the vain hope that it's some Heal Potions or something.
Yeah, okay, should have seen that coming.
Then we have these fucks. Skeletons have about 600 HP and their damage is all over the place. Their sword attack does ~20 damage and their headbutt does damn near 120. And of course, they still have Spooky Laugh because fuck you. And Para-Touch.
Just a brief check on supplies, we're about halfway through the dungeon and more or less fought the minimum number of enemies to get this far. We've burned through 3 of our 7 Cure casts, about a quarter of our Cure Potions, and we're still poisoned.
And that was the easy part of the dungeon.
And speaking of the easy part of the dungeon, here's someone who's glad to rid us of those silly ideas. The Gorgon is a nasty piece of work, with something like 700-800 HP, and all of its attacks do at least 100 damage a shot. Body Odor is the sole attack that won't directly do damage, and that will paralyze us. Bite and Dash are single-target attacks good for almost 200 damage, and Poison Breath will do 100 to each of us and probably re-poison you if you ever got around to curing it.
If we duck into the secret room, we can finally pick up our first Heal Potions. Yay for artificial difficulty!
Okay, that one's clever. You get points for that one, romhacker.
At least the box has more remedies for us.
Another status check: 1 Cure left, half our Life casts are gone, and we've burned through 3/4 of our cure potions. Not feeling particularly optimistic right now.
Finally, we have King Shit of Bone Mountain, the Minotaur Zombie. He's packing about 1500 HP, he has Confu-touch as a counter, Stare for confusion on its own, and his damaging attacks are no less imposing. Like with the living Minotaur, you're really hoping for the Axe attack, though it does 70 damage instead of 30 this time. Roundhouse is up to a devastating ~250 damage, and if it crits, it can easily push 500, 550 damage.
Last floor, we're almost there!
Seeds! Precious, precious, seeds. This means that our healing situation more or less has solved itself, but this is all we get until Fireburg, unless I make this godawful trek again. Have to use them wisely.
Okay, now that I can handle.
Not gonna lie, I was fully expecting both Quake and the seeds to have been removed because they trivialized Flamerus Rex or some bullshit.
We made it! Both of the item boxes have some greatly appreciated cure potions, since I was down to two of the things. I started this dungeon with 39 of them, for reference.
It's showtime, motherfucker. You'd be forgiven for thinking that after that absolute slog of a dungeon, Flamerus Rex was going to stomp all over your shit, because I sure as hell did. I mean, how the hell do you top the damn Minotaur Zombies, who can literally one-shot either of your characters if they get a lucky Roundhouse?
Well, as it turns out, the answer is "You don't". Flamerus Rex is, comparatively speaking, one of the easiest damn things in this entire dungeon. Sure, he's got a ton of HP, but his attacks are positively anemic. He only has a single attack that can hit for ~200 damage, and everything else he does ranges from 100-120 or so. Rip Earth can be nasty if he spams it, but a couple Cure spells on both characters should be enough to cover for it. He also has Poison and Sleep Powder, which are functionally free turns when he decides to use them.
Really, the whole thing is kinda insulting. I go through all of that shit to get here, and this is the boss that I get? That was weak, romhacker. I expected better out of you.
Get the Sand Coin. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DO NOT FORGET THE SAND COIN, YOU LITERALLY WILL NOT MAKE IT BACK ON YOUR OWN.
And then Tristam ditches us. You did remember to leave a path where you don't have to fight anyone to get out, right? Because that isn't going to end very well either.
Anyway, with that ordeal behind us, here's the real cherry to the shit sundae: If at any time during the dungeon you find that you aren't well-prepared enough, or you came in at too low of a level, you more or less have to forfeit not only all the progress that you've made (because all the enemies will respawn once you leave), but you also lose all the shuriken up to that point. And god help you if you run out of those and get stuck with using Bare Hands, because not only does the axe do less damage than the shuriken do, it's going to trigger every single counter ability. With multiple sources of Confu-touch and Para-touch in the Bone Dungeon, I don't see how you can make it through without getting horrendously overlevelled or grinding out 99 cure potions, and even then you're going to die of boredom by the end.
So yeah, fuck this hack. I'll probably keep playing it on my own, but unless something egregiously bad pops up, I think the point has been thoroughly made.