Part 9: PART NINE: ZIO'S FORT, ZIO'S FORT, AND ZIO'S FORT.
PART NINE: ZIO'S FORT, ZIO'S FORT, AND ZIO'S FORT.
No, that title will make sense by the end. Anyway, moving on!
There's Zio's spirally fortress of moderate doom. I say moderate because it's not like he's even doing anything in there anymore. He's just sitting around waiting for the computers to do stuff for him. So evil!
It's not quite as rounded when you look at it up close.
: Oh, that's rather inviting. Let's just break on in!
: Yeah, don't go touching that, kid. You might hurt yourself.
: How is it invisible? We're looking right at it!
: Never mind that, here comes the welcoming committee.
More Speards here, but with the addition of Tech Users, the most wildly and imaginitavely named enemy in the game. Seals would work wonders on these guys if we had anyone that could cast it or if they were much of a threat to begin with.
: If we can't get in the front, maybe there's a back way?
: There is! I'm not sure I understand the carpet scheme of this floor, though.
: I'm going to guess that this is somewhere important.
And so it begins: Zio's Fortress of Backtracking. We'll go right, first.
: It's those creepy statues again...
: Maybe it's just me, but these guys are creepier.
Ah, Rippers. Giant scythes on one hand, a flamethrowing-shoulder on the other side. I really like these guys for some reason.
I can't say Rika feels the same way, though.
: Hmph, back down already?
: Not if those guys have anything to say about it...
These guys are neat looking, but not all that impressive. They do have Deban, though, so they at least try to cut down your effectiveness.
: Well, that was a goddamn waste of time.
Back to the left staircase, then.
There's at least more than one way to go this time. If we head left and down those stairs,
we find Zio's treasury. Apparently spending absolutely nothing on furnishing his home has really paid off.
Back upstairs, and to the south, and we come across...
Some stairs, a hole, and some more paths offscreen. Let's go upstairs first.
No, I said UPSTAIRS.
Well, crap. We fell in the hole.
This is a nice hole! Moon Dew revives a dead meatbag to 1/4 health. I say meatbag because there are machine characters in this game later on, and these don't work on them. Also, you can only find this and other Dew items in dungeons, until much later in the game, anyway, so it's a rare and nice surprise to get one.
What's not so nice is that we need to leave Zio's fort to get out of that room.
: Zio may be holding the world hostage, but frankly I feel like a nap.
Hey, if you're forced to leave, and there's an inn five feet away, why not?
Zio's Fort, part two!
This time we actually are careful on the stairs. Right, Gryz?
: Should I acknowledge him? I can't remember if that breaks the fourth wall too much.
It almost looks like a dead end from this shot, but you should be able to see the tunnel on the right.
Complete with fake-sideview transition!
It spits you out on the floor you need to be on, but in a dead end. With a Laser Sword.
It's significantly better than the fine china we've been using. Generally Chaz outshines Gryz's damage output now. And he criticals like the goddamn right hand of death.
Which makes him getting this in the next fight all the more better. Airslash allows Chaz to hit every enemy, which is very, very nice. And since there are no more multi-target bosses coming up save for one annoying trio, you can feel free to spam the hell out of it.
Now, we can go down or to the right. We'll go down first.
Ceramics really DO provide a hell of an oomph against fire attacks. Wat hits for almost six times that amount.
Another staircase down.
Which is freaking empty. What's that? You thought I would just skip the useless portions and just show you treasure and the right path? No sir, you all are playing this with me, and you will experience my exploration of every INCH of these dungeons.
Also, well, you know, it shows you where to go AND where not to, so, yeah.
For my insolence, a Ripper attempts to behead Gryz. Presumably he caught he blade in his beak and then hacked the damn thing's legs off.
Back up on the second floor, we go back to that fork and go across the middle of the tower.
While the parallax scrolling is nifty, it also boggles the mind as to how this place is built. I'm pretty sure that I shouldn't be able to see into that blue room, right?
Along the way, Hahn learns Rimit. This allows him to freeze all biological enemies in the battle. Sorta makes up for Rimpa, I guess.
Of course. Let's just skip both the stairs and the hole and go south to what I hope is the last of the mini-tower rooms.
And down again.
Really not worth the fucking effort, guys.
I DO manage to get one of these off of a Shadowsabre. These are VERY rare, but, also very worthless.
It's a sword with stats so high that it actually causes a rollover and reduces some of Chaz's stats to lower than his base. If he's level 1, though, it'll turn him into a freaking god, but only until he ends the next fight and ultimately hits level 2. I assume this was done because they had no way to make a weapon with negative stats, and decided to abuse the rollover glitchiness instead. Perhaps this sort of laziness lead to the level 99 issues? Eh, it's forgivable, given how great this game is.
Anyway, while it sucks, I've never had one before. So, woo!
Gryz, don't you dare jump down another hole on me.
: Yes, because I'm clearly in control, here.
: Seriously, stop meta-gaming already.
...fine. So, let's jump down that hole!
Seriously? I was at the freaking end of the dungeon, too. I have to leave now for a goddamn shield?
...time to go rest up at the inn again!
Zio's Fort, part three! No, I don't know why I'm using a new screenshot everytime I walk in here. I could clearly use the first one three times and still have the same effect. But that's just not as authentic, I guess?
Making our way back to that second stair-hole combo, I test out Airslash. Hopefully these guys don't need their intestines inside their bodies anymore.
Right! Up we go!
And now, the companion to the Laser Sword tunnel.
: Rika, where's Gryz?
Despite being the main path, we still get a treasure for coming through here.
And I'm quite happy to have one of these, I tell ya.
It's not a gigantic increase, but goddamn, it's a laser claw. Come on.
: Come on, something good this time!
: Ha ha!
: Hmm, the red carpet treatment. How thoughtful.
: Hey! A man in black...is that Zio?
: Oooh, I wish!
BOSS FIGHT: JUZA, ZIO'S FANBOY (Gamevee Viddler)
: You're not? Then...
: I am, like, Zio's biggest fan! I've followed him everywhere since the beginning! Someday soon he may even let me gaze upon his countenance! I am Juza. You will never get near Zio - unless you defeat me!
In all seriousness, though, Juza is somewhat of a mediocre boss. He has the potential to kick your ass, but, he has an equal chance to just sit there and be pummeled.
He can hit everyone in your party with Zan, which sucks, but isn't entirely threatening on it's own.
However, if you don't heal and then he does this, you'll probably be dead. Still, I actually had to redo this fight in order to get this attack to pop up, as he didn't use it the first time.
At any rate, he's dead now.
And apparently he was tied to a magical staircase.
Some more running around up here,
and squeezing through here,
brings us to the pinnacle of Zio's Fort, where it appears someone is rather tied up at the moment.
RESCUING DEMI, AND... (Gamevee Viddler)
: Somebody's been captured...it's Demi!
: We've got to rescue her!
: It's a little late to only now be catching up on the mission objective, Chaz.
: Alys Brangwin and company.
: Thank you very much! You are all injured, are you not?
: Actually, we had cure bitch Hahn over here to take care of us and-
: Oh, well, alright then.
: Huh...? I feel strength welling inside me!?
: It's my Medical Power. My name is Demi, and I am in charge of controlling Nurvus.
: Whew! I heard she was supposed to be an Android, but this is beyond my expectations!
: She's no different than a human being!
: Be that as it may. Demi, can you stop the transmission of energy to the system that's malfunctioning? You're the only one who can do it, right?
: Yes. I, too, have tried to freeze the entire system, but...
: Go no further.
: Who's that! Not that there's anywhere we can go but backwards, of course.
: That voice! It's Zio!
: Zio! You son of a...!
: Watch your tongue son. So you thought you would sneak in while the owner's out, eh, you little sneak thief?
: Sneak thief? What the fuck is that?
: Take a look at your own evil self before you dare put us down!
: Oh, I do, my boy. Sometimes I spent sooo much time looking in the mirror that I just swear I can see wrinkles forming!
: Think about all you've done!
: Hmmph. So I've wrought damage to Motavia. What's wrong with eliminating worms?
: Worms? You dare call us worms?! You...you...I cannot forgive you!
: A face filled with pain and anguish, begging fearfully for help, a face quivering with anger! Go, on! Get angry! Suffer! Be sad!
: Holy shit, that's more than just a little creepy there, you prick.
: That would truly be the ultimate offering to me and my great god!
: Your god?
: Son of a...! Blast! Come on! Let's go everyone!
: Wait, Chaz! Zio! Do you understand what's going on? If we don't stop the systems that are running out of control, Motavia itself is going to become uninhabitable. You must let Demi...
: Total annihilation of life, What a fine thing! Death to all that lives! Destruction to all that has form! That is indeed my desire!
: That's crazy!
: My god will not tolerate any life forms in Algo! Everything must be wiped out. And I, with these very hands, will do just that!
: That means you yourself will be gone too!
: If my god wishes that to be so, that is also my wish.
: You...you're out of your mind! Also, you're a lot scarier now that you dropped the bad stereotypical gay guy charade.
: Anyone who dares get in my way shall perish. My humble self, who has taken it upon myself to do the wish of my god, shall destroy thee. Oh, the greatest, my one and only ultimate god, Dark Force!
: 'Dark Force'?
: Oh, fuck.
: This isn't good.
: It's like we've been swallowed by his dark aura. I can't even tell where we are anymore!
: I don't think location matters right now. Let's take him out!
: What the hell is that thing?
: It's the same face that was on all of those statues. Is that Dark Force?
: Oh god!
: Look out!
: We'd better make a temporary retreat!
: I think you're right.
: Blast it! He was right there! Damn it all!
: No! Alys!
: We'd better return to my village, Chaz!
: Why your village?
: Does it really matter?
: Ah...alright. Alys... sniff
NEXT TIME ON PHANTASY STAR 4:
Regrouping after the failed assault.
A little note on the Shadowblade: even though its stats suck, it does have a chance of inflicting instant death, so it's not completely useless. Of course, we're going to be fighting machines again soon and then it'll be useless again.
But I'm not here to talk about game mechanics today. Now that he's finally been mentioned in the game, I'm here to talk about Dark Force. (Endgame spoilers for PS1 and PS2 follow, obviously.)
Dark Force's first appearance was in Phantasy Star 1. PS1's plot centres around the heroine Alis's quest to assassinate the evil king Lassic. According to the manual, Lassic became a tyrant under orders from the priests of a mysterious religion, who promised him immortality. Of course, Alis killed him, so I guess that whole immortality thing didn't work out so well for him, huh?
At any rate, during Alis's quest she stayed in the mansion of the Governor of Motavia. While there, she had a nightmare in which she was attacked by a demon:
Looks familiar, doesn't it? The "Saccubus" hit hard enough to kill characters in one or two hits, and could also use magic to paralyse them. Unless the party was seriously overlevelled for this point in the game, they'd lose... only to wake up and find out that it had all been a bad dream. (The fight was technically winnable, but the only reward was 10 experience points.)
Now, most players would think nothing of this and keep on playing -- I know I did, anyway. But after killing Lassic, the game tells you to go back to the Governor and inform him of your victory. Upon revisiting the Governor, Alis finds that he's disappeared and his mansion has turned into a monster-infested dungeon. At the very bottom of the dungeon, behind a secret passage, is...
... the real final boss of PS1, Dark Force! (Well, the game mistranslates his name as "Dark Falz", but it's still the same guy.) Turns out that this is the being that Lassic was worshipping all along. Now that Lassic's dead, Dark Force has attempted to possess the Governor's body and continue his evil schemes. Of course, Alis puts a stop to that.
Dark Force plays an important role in Phantasy Star 2, as well. The game begins a thousand years after PS1 with Rolf, the protagonist, having the same nightmare he has every night, about Alis's battle with Dark Force:
The nightmare ends while Alis is still fighting for her life, so Rolf never gets to see the outcome of the battle. Anyway, he's got his own problems to deal with, what with Motavia slowly turning into a desert and monsters running amok everywhere. Eventually, Rolf finds out that the disasters befalling Motavia can be traced back to an evil force inhabiting a spaceship at the edge of the Algo system, and when he goes there to investigate, what does he find but...
Dark Force again, and even more intimidatingly huge and grotesque than last time! I like to think that Rolf's nightmares finally end after he kills Dark Force.
Dark Force was also the final boss of Phantasy Star 3, but we don't talk about Phantasy Star 3. Why not? Well, uh...
That's why not.
In short, what we know so far is that Dark Force is an evil being with godlike power that manipulates humans to do its bidding, it was behind most of the bad shit that went down in the first two games, and it seems to come back on roughly a 1000-year schedule when it's killed. And Zio has it on his side. That doesn't bode well for our heroes.
(The bit about Zio was posted much earlier in the thread. I've moved it to this chapter since we actually meet him here. -meteor9)
Zio, that Fake Magician
Zio is fucking evil. His origins are unknown, but what is known is that he worships Dark Force; the physical incarnation of The Profound Darkness in the Algol System. He desires to wipe out all life in Algol, including his own, should his dark gods will it. He has a demonic arm, thanks to his dark allies, and wears a gauntlet to conceal it. He even has a cult following in Kadary. Either on his own, or perhaps as a gift from darkness, Zio has a good array of devastating skills which can and will tear an unprepared group to shreds. He can even call on a minor form of Dark Force to aid him in battle. (Although it's more in-line with the Saccubus from PSI)
For starters, his Magic Barrier renders all attacks useless until neutralized. Then, he calls upon his pet to use the Black Wave, which, to put it bluntly, will make you cry (Or least one person, as it's a single-target attack). He can do the Evil Eye, which puts one humanoid member to sleep by chance, and he's also given the power of Corrosion; a group-wide dark- element attack which does middling to high damage on all party members.
But Zio is still a little lacking in the one place it counts. He'll never recast his Magic Barrier. He'll never spam his Corrosion attack, despite it being the most intelligent thing he could possibly do (5vs1, after all, who said the good guys played fair?). He won't use the Black Wave on your weakest people. Chalk it up to the corruption of Darkness, I guess.
Finally, it is strongly implied that Alys knows him from somewhere. Rune might as well, but will these questions be answered? Probably not!
And so, we finally meet
Demi, Controller of Motavia
There's a lot of good things to say about her. There's a lot of bad as well.
Let's start with the good: Medic Power. This humanoid-only skill is more than capable of saving your hide in a desperate situation, reviving and healing all non-androids in the group, and giving them a moderate heal. (More than Res at this point, but less than Gires) She's also an android, so she gets Barrier, which reduces all non-physical damage by a nice amount. She's equipped with a Stasis Beam, which paralyzes a single biomonster at a good rate, has an android-only instadeath in Spark, and gets the android-exclusive Recover. Also, if down at the end of an encounter, she'll recover to 1 HP. In addition, she recovers 1 HP per step you take outside of battle. She's also very short. And cute. And very, very feminine.
Now the bad: She's weak for an android. Her weapons, even her strongest, aren't all that strong. She has lower HP than Chaz of the same level. She is just barely more defensive than Rika. She never gets any multi-target weapons (and only one multi-target skill). Compared to other characters...she's kinda unimpressive, in statistics and abilities.
We totally demolished that asshole Zio. But not without a case of Plot Armor in return for it. In fact, I can almost see this exchange happening right now...somewhere.
Alys: Chaz, your swing is still too sl...
Chaz: Well, it's better than your dodge!
It's odd. Perhaps Zio was saving a special load of the Black Wave to fire directly all over someone's face, as later, Gires works just fine to recover the wounds caused by it. Or perhaps it has something to do with his barrier? We'll never know, and Alys' condition degrades with each passing second. You guys, we have to save her! WE CAN DO IT GUYS
e: Oh. Boss Count: 3! Not bad for the first 1/3rd of the game! Sorry about the disappointing official art for Demi. I don't have any good fanart of her.
I'll try to catch up to the LP, so next up we have..
Purgatory Boss #4: Juza
This is the first significant dungeon with a boss at the end. This'll really teach you to make at least two trips through the dungeon: once to collect all the loot, then come back to fight the boss. In the latter trip, run from every fight. Use healing items after you get stuck in a fight for a turn.
The only commentary I have on the Juza fight is to keep everyone's health high. He has a few party-wide attacks and at this point, once someone falls they're out for good.