Part 18: A Rat in Rococo
The start for this run is the same as any other for the Robotrek familiar. Our hero's father Akihabara tries to wake him up from his slumber after his move into Rococo, to no avail. So, he does what any inventor father would do and scares the bajeezus out of him with something that sounds like an explosion. While we're not treated with our hero peeling himself off the ceiling, the noise is still enough to wake the slumbering hero...
... Wait a second, something's not right here.
That's right, our hero is mouse. This is to serve both as a safeguard for one of the rule conditions, as well as show a mechanic that could otherwise be missed. When the hero is in this form, he literally cannot use items in battle - the option is red and unusable. In addition, there's just something innately amusing in seeing the characters this early in the game talk to Brain like it ain't no thing.
This is the basic Menu, by and by, and can be reached using the X button. For the unfamiliar, here's a quick breakdown of what each of those options do:
INVENTORY: This takes you to your mostly-standard RPG inventory where you can equip items and equipment. However, the inventories are split into two - the hero's inventory and the robot inventory. In addition, you can't cycle between inventories here. If you want to change the gear on a different character, you have to back out of the current one you're looking at and choose another.
MAINTENANCE: The is the menu where you treat your robots. If they're damaged, scrapped, or have status effects, this is the option you choose to tend to them. It tells you how many of each restorative item you have, and choosing the orb at the beginning allows you to change the order in which you send out the bots into battle. The former is going to be very important to this run, the latter not so much.
STATUS: This option brings up the "character sheet" for each character. With Brain, it'll give how much experience he's collected and how much he needs to the next level, along with all the schematics he's learned so far. With robots, it's a breakdown of their base stats, modified stats, and equipment. Other than to see how close I am to a level, I usually don't use this option much.
RUN: Shows the current Run commands programmed into your robot. You cannot alter or change them here, however. Just look. To add or remove Run commands requires something else. I'll go more into detail on this when going over Run commands in general.
CONFIGURATION: Change the scrolling speed of the text, whether the audio is Mono or Stereo, and change the buttons if they aren't to your liking. However, since the buttons are to my liking, I'll be leaving them alone. It's probably recommended to change the text scrolling to Fast, though. There's a couple points where characters talk a bit too slow.
As I mentioned, characters will still talk to our hero despite his mousey appearance.
In addition, we can still examine objects for items and read books as if we were still human. The game even has unique sprites for these actions when done as a mouse. This is good since we're going to need at least a few invention schematics and, quite obviously, funding in order to ensure our hero can survive his adventure. Speaking of, there's some loot we should pick up before moving on.
For those following along, along with the 500GP in the cabinet in the bedroom, we'll want to raid the other cabinet in the room behind it for a Cure and a Clean. In addition, another Cure is hidden in that crate shoved between the bookshelf and that fridge-looking thing. I've... never really figured out what that was supposed to be.
As a note, those boxes in the bottom left corner? Don't even bother checking them. Robotrek's hidden items are all in things you can examine from the front. Examining them from the side won't reveal the item, and any object that you can't examine from the front won't have a hidden item in it.
So, properly stocked up on these items, the next order of business is to move the plot along.
After picking up some cash from this hidden spot here.
And starting a bit of a conga line. Several characters in the game react to the mouse form, like these children, by following along behind you. The dog will follow you regardless of what form you're in, though. Entering or exiting any building will cause most these "chaser" characters from following.
Except for the dog, of course, who follows this pattern except that he will follow you into the Mayor's house. The Mayor hates dogs and will freak out a bit if you try talking to him with one, so it's best to just pop back outside to return the pup to his usual patrol.
Unfortunately, like the Mayor's dog reaction, some hard-coded reactions to the mouse form override necessary plot conversations, even in parts of the game where you're not supposed to be a mouse yet. As such, it's impossible to stay in mouse form 100% of the time. Such a run would come to an end right here, if you don't count the opening sequence. You're human there too until you have access to your menu.
There's not many of them early on, fortunately enough, but they become more numerous as the game goes on. Especially after the point where you're supposed to legitimately get this item. However, it's still possible to spend a majority of the game as a mouse to little ill effects.
Characters who only exist in areas where you shouldn't be able to access them as a mouse still act as normal, for example. So, Dr. Einst here will ignore the fact that our hero is a currently small and furry and continue to berate his lack of SCIENCE. This is an inventor who is a jerk to both man and mice.
Solving the problem of anti-mouse policies is simple enough: we take off the item that makes us a mouse in the first place. Once we've talked to the character we need to, such as the Mayor here, we simply put it back on and continue on our way. It should be noted that other items that take up the Use slot will also force us to drop the vermin-y visage, and thus are treated in a similar fashion.
With that meeting over and done with, our next stop is to return home to learn how to make ourselves a robot. It should be noted that most of these on-entry events are scripted to run regardless of whatever form you're in - mouse or human. This pattern continues for most of the game, save for a few that actually have separate events if you enter them as a rodent.
Those events won't be for a while yet, though, so it's a bit of a moot point right now. So we pick up the Robot Book and find out that robots help like friends do sometimes. And with that insight, we're set to build our sole companion for this adventure after nabbing the 2000G in the back of the book. Well, almost.
Fun fact - the game is actually scripted so you have to talk to Nagisa in order to progress. If you try to skip her after reading the book, she'll yell at you to go visit the Mayor. The flag to do this is turned off after you've talked to her and she leads you downstairs to make a robot.
As mentioned, this game has quite a few spelling errors and nonsensical sentences. This one being one of the most obvious ones since you come across it so early in the game. They really don't detract from the game, though, unless you're very into the plot. As such, I'll probably skip over most of them unless requested otherwise.
Our next "hurdle" in this run is the fact that our hero can't reach the controls as a mouse. It is circumvented the same way as hard-coded plot characters: un-equipping the mouse item to access the Invention Machine (Also known as the R&D and "the robot machine") and putting it back on when done. Or you can just imagine that our hero got himself a ladder or stool to reach the buttons and levers.
I'd show the animation for building the robot, but it does not have Brain as a mouse in it. Thus, it has been excluded.
And so here we have our sole companion for this run-through: Pinky. Since he's our only line of defense against the hordes we're inevitably going to face, he's going to have to be able to soak up the damage as well as dish it out. We're given 40 Program Points initially to distribute over the five stats.
ENERGY: This is health, basically. It's the only number that can go over 99 out of the five. The more you have, the more damage your robot can eat before it gets scrapped. Some guides recommend having as much as 20 points here initially, but I feel 10-15 is perfectly fine. I go with eight in order to get the other stats where I like them.
POWER: Self-explanatory. This is how hard your robot hits things. The bigger this number, the bigger the numbers that pop up over the enemies when you bash them in the face. In this run, we'll want this as high as possible. We want the enemies to die as soon as possible to minimize damage taken. Preemptive healing, if you will.
GUARD: Almost as self-explanatory as Power. This is your defense stat and boosting it means you take less damage. This works on all damage, including back attacks, which do more damage to both you and your enemies. Another stat we'll want high, even at the cost of a couple early points of Energy. After all, having 8 HP isn't that big of a deal when most enemies will be hitting you for 2 damage tops.
SPEED: This one's a bit of a misnomer. Speed doesn't make your bar charge any faster or make you move any further. It instead affects how often you hit or crit, as well as your physical and status evasion. It's also supposed to have an effect on turn order at the start of a fight, but sometimes the game just seems to like giving enemies multiple moves to yours regardless. We'll be keeping this decently high because it bolsters both attack AND defense.
CHARGE: This is more along the lines of what you expect Speed to be. The higher this number is, the faster the Charge Gauge refills after attacks are performed. This can actually be safely be kept rather low, since you can "aid" your Charge Gauge by mashing the B button. In fact, if you're good at mashing, you can probably get by without this stat ever going over 30. This tidbit is very helpful for this run since these points can be better used elsewhere.
And with our stats set, we're all set to head out and seize the day with our murderbot. Nagisa, of course, will pause you here to test the Transceiver and save your game if you so desire. However, you can still talk to her directly as a mouse to save your game or request a hint, which is nice. This remains constant throughout the game, so if you don't want to switch out to use the Transceiver, you can always just come home and talk to your assistant here.
Next time: Super Fighting Robot
Also, while it's still early enough to be changed: Should I stick with these names? It's a simple enough deal to redo this beginning part and use different names for our mousey hero and his mechanical companion. Voting on this will most likely end shortly before the next update.