The Let's Play Archive

Secret of Mana

by ddegenha

Part 19: City of the Dead

Now that we've passed the Hydra we get a chance to enter the city proper. Everything else? Pretty much the front lawn. We've also got our first "wild" Captain Ducks wandering around. I suppose it makes a certain amount of sense in a formerly underwater city..

The sunken continent features moving walkways kind of like the ones you see in better airports. Luckily you can run slowly against the direction of travel to do things like get to switches.

There's not much else to see except for lots of winding and near identical corridors until we come to a doorway..

All I can say is that it's a good thing the whole "Watts being places he couldn't possibly be" issue has been run into the ground. I'm not even going to ask about this one.

The really important thing is that we can finally get some of our weapons upgraded:

Gigas Lance - +2 Strength
Morning Star - Inflicts damage on insects
Hammer Flail - Slows enemies
Frizbar - Effective against slimes/lizards

This "code" will be moderately important later. There's a few people running around in this safe haven. Krissy's somewhere around here, but when I came in she was hiding under an overhanging wall or something. She heals you, but doesn't restore MP.

The ancients were evidently very fond of winding passageways, including dick moves like one way stairways and such. The Dark Stalker that was actually one of the Four Generals? A regular enemy from here on out.

The code comes in pretty handy moments after we receive it. You just have to hit the lights in the order the soldier told us. For some reason my brain refused to parse the sequence so I had to do it twice.

The route terminates in, of all things, a subway..

Full of the decaying undead corpses of the people who were presumably riding the subway to work the day the city sank. It's actually quite creepy if you think about it. You don't really have to fight them if you don't want to, but it can be a good place to get some experience and money.

The subway isn't exactly moving, so you just have to run to the back and exit from one of the doors. The shapeshifters from Joch's cave are back, and will remain a staple enemy throughout the rest of the game.

The most bizarre occurrence in this city of the dead has to be running into the Scorpion Army of all people.

Somehow they managed to find out Boy is the legendary Mana Knight without processing the fact that he and his companions have kicked the ass of three quarters of the world's monsters and are probably not a good target for extortion.

Even though they're a confederacy of dunces, I love the byplay between Boss and her henchmen.

For the Scorpion Army, the natural solution to this whole dilemma is another robot. You know, since they were using a mana seed to power the last one, what's the power source here?

Boss Battle: Kettle Kin

Kettle Kin Battle Video

Kettle Kin is a bit of a toss up. He's got the same wide-armed attacks the original Scorpion Army boss used and can cause unconsciousness (as you see here) but in some ways he's much easier than his prototype.

The only thing that makes this fight even moderately tricky is his sole ability, which makes it difficult or impossible to land a good physical attack on him. I suppose you could dispel the Lucid Barrier, but that's pretty much a waste at this point.

Alternative strategies are to use the highest level magic you have since he doesn't really have any elemental affinities to speak of or to use moon energy and slam him down with crits. It shouldn't take too long, and when he's gone we get a Bow's Orb for our trouble.

It's all a bit confusing, but Boss Scorpion seems to be flipping out over her own ineptitude and blaming in on some undefined person who fed them bad information. Sadly, this is one of the last time we'll see this merry crew.

Immediately afterward, climbing a set of stairs takes us to an area.. that looks very familiar. Did we really just go all the way through that city to come up in a different portion of the same marsh?

The truth is somehow a bit worse. We're right about at the base of the Palace, but now that we've gone and fought through a few bosses a new pathway has opened so that we can reach this point from where Jema is. It's a handy little break that the game gives you in case you need to heal or anything, but... nah.

The real path forward is through this doorway at the bottom of the pyramid, presumably so we can climb all the way up it from the inside. Seriously, they couldn't have put a convenient window in there somewhere?

We've got a few new and interesting enemies to deal with in here. Heck hounds can summon lesser wolves at will and cast Blaze Wall, a highly annoying spell that engulfs one of your characters. The swords and the imps are higher powered versions of the ones we've encountered earlier, although the imps can be real pains in the ass at times.

More amusing are the Turtlances, which occasionally convert themselves to rocked powered turtle-shaped battering rams. It's awesome, even if they do spend about half their time crashing into walls and such.

The main gimmick of the palace is the use of orbs, one for each element that we've collected thus far. The game does, however, give them to you in approximately the order that you received the elemental spirits.

To make things a bit more sporting, triggering the orbs lets loose a few enemies directly into your face. Since the only way out is along that narrow pathway, you pretty much have to deal with them before you can move on.

It's not immediately obvious, but the first couple orbs were simply raising posts so that we could whip ourselves across a gap.

Once you see the pattern, you don't really need to analyze the orbs any further. Not only that, but the game is usually kind enough to color code the rooms for your convenience.

Going up the next set of stairs takes us to this locked gate, which is actually controlled with the switch you can see to the left on the raised platform.

It's not exactly hard to get to, but you actually want to loop around to the south to pick up another Sword Orb. It's an easily missable item here, especially since we won't be coming back.

Shade and Luna let us in through the final set of orbs. I guess they weren't feeling dickish enough to require an 8 MP spell to blast through a Luminaire orb. One final climb takes us up to the top floor where we have an unexpected visitor.

Mini-Boss Battle: SnapDragon

This guy isn't really distinctive enough or interesting enough to get his own video, but he's essentially identical to the biting lizards we dealt with earlier. He likes to attack with his tongue and pull you in, and he can do some decent damage. Other than that, nothing special.

The only annoying thing is that he can use Cure Water, and can heal himself for discouraging amounts of HP. A few moments of concentrated attacks gets us a Javelin's Orb and lets us proceed.

The Emperor doesn't look it, but evidently he's not supposed to be standing the way it seems that he is. Either that or this scene is even more creepy than I would have imagined. Standing or lying on the stairs, a motionless corpse is a pretty disturbing indication that things have gone horribly awry.

Fanha's alive and well, with the obvious implication being that the Emperor got double-crossed. We only get to se the Emperor a few times, and although he's a mild douche you can't build up too much hatred toward him. FFA was actually pretty good about this, since you had plenty of reasons to despise the Dark Lord before he was replaced with one of his henchmen.

A revealing plural usage (although considering that she'd just killed the Emperor, it could have been the rural plural) sets Boy's hackles on edge.

Turns out that's a reasonable reaction, since the actual villain we've been dealing with ever since Pandora decides to make an appearance.

Kid gets right to the point..

And gets a very disturbing answer. I'm not sure brainwashed and immobilized so that I can take over his body and shred his mind and soul fits most people's definition of okay.

As usual he buggers off while leaving Fanha to pick up the slack. They really need to stop with these ill-thought out plans. I'm a bit confused about the revenge bit, since we haven't seen Fanha before this dungeon. Could she have had a previous relationship with something we killed?

Boss Battle: Hexas

Hexas Battle Video

Our next boss battle follows the example of the other Generals by turning into a hideous abomination of nature, very much resembling Kary from the first Final Fantasy Game. The sad thing is that she's about as threatening.

Other than stripping off your buffs she has no really noteworthy spells...

And her only non-spell ability is shrinking your characters. This might be a bit more annoying if we didn't have the Midge Mallet, but as it is the battle turns into a game of whack-a-mole. Constantly having to cure your characters is annoying, but that's really all she has going for her.

She's supposedly weak to Earth Slide, but Freeze works just about as well. That and charged attacks will deal with her handily, leaving a Whip's orb for us to pick up. Right now we're batting 500 for taking out the Generals, but that'll improve shortly. Just like her predecessor, Fanha is a bit miffed about actually having to go through with the whole dying thing.

The game likes to be a bit tricky with the direction we're going. You might think that this is a switch to trigger the real exit, but it'll actually teleport you to the concluding area of the castle.

Once we get there, we see Geshtar the Mech Rider zoom past on a bitching new bike but he doesn't seem to be his usual talkative self..

Which Thanatos explains as a result of his mind being pretty much destroyed by magic to make him into a better fighting machine. Swell. Somehow this crosses a line in Boy's mind, leading to..

Boss Battle: Mech Rider (3)

Mech Rider (3) Battle Video

As you can see, nothing of substance has really changed in this boss battle, as Geshtar's new bike pretty much resembles the old one. My wife pointed out that it's extremely phallic with that long part coming out from between his legs and the giant sack behind him, and now I can't not see him riding around on a giant mechanical penis.

He's still got his Speed Up buff that he uses constantly, but in a bid to make him a bit more sturdy he also uses Wall at fairly regular intervals to protect himself from magic.

The interaction is fairly predictable, as his AI isn't smart enough to realize that he's got a spell reflection up and will cast anyway, buffing your team for you.

Geshtar's very annoying to deal with on a physical level, but you can strip away his wall pretty easily and he hasn't lost that old weakness to thunderbolt. He's actually got a good bit of HP this time, but it's not really much of a problem. Even if he stops and recasts Wall, it's a minute when he's not charging around the screen. This time he explodes along with the bike, leaving us a Spear's Orb as compensation.

Victory's a bit hollow, as the palace itself is sinking. Ignoring the fact that we're already on top of the portion that was above water previously, this results in a panicked escape on Flammie.

The Mana Fortress sinks back below the waves, taking any treasure that you missed with it. Definitely a place where it's important to be thorough. Next update we'll try and find out where we need to go, but for now..

Weapons roundup:

Gigas Sword - Another strength enhancer, two points worth.
Dragon Lance - Effective against dragons, as you'd expect. I'm pretty sure we haven't seen any yet, so this is probably a pretty good hint about upcoming bosses.
Nimbus Chain - The second strongest whip is actually an anti-insect weapon. Weird.
Wing Bow - Causes confusion. Pretty decent.
Elf's Harpoon - Not for harpooning elves, sadly. Raises intelligence and wisdom instead.

American Kids Would've Been Fucked

Reverend Cheddar posted:

Chris "Guys! Glad you're safe! You haven't been hurt? Don't overdo it. Here, I'll restore you back to tip-top shape!"
soldier "I heard this secret code from the enemy. 'AXBY'... what's it mean?"
(you'll notice this is nothing like the code in the English version. but if you played this game on a super famicom it'd make much more sense, and you'll realize why it had to be changed. if it hadn't, American kids would've been fucked.)

scorpion lady "Hold it!
You've got a lot of nerve, treating us the way you have!"
"Yeah! That's right!"
scorpion lady "I've had my subordinates do a little background check on you! YOU are the hero of the Holy Sword?! Mere children?!
Aaaaaaahahaha, it's so funny I almost forgot to laugh. What the hell's so heroic about you? Obviously there's been some mistake if you are the one lugging that thing around. Now, be a good little boy and give it to me!"
"Yeah, yeah! Do it! Can you imagine the price that thing's gonna fetch on the black market, ma'am?"
scorpion lady "You dunderhead! Like hell are we going to sell it! You got that?! We get the sword, we'll finally have some bloody brute force in this operation!
Meet our...

Reborn as a death machine, our robot JIRO! Attack him if you dare, he will crush you!!"
(I guess we should go home and be family men? yes, SoM is being meta-aware of Street Fighter II in the original!)

scorpion lady "The-they're too strong!
Ma, maybe they seriously are the real heroes?!"
Aw jeez! Who are you people? Why didn't you tell us you weren't faking it?!
C'mon, let's get outta here!"
"Aye aye sir-!"


grand palace slog time

jema "Thanks to your efforts, we were able to stave off the enemy and drain the swamp. You've got a clear entrance to the Grand Palace now!"

ugh I hate those blue devils.

BOY "? Something's weird here!
!! The Emperor! He--he's dead!
What the hell happened!?"
BOSS "There's a path behind the altar! Wasn't like that before!"

Fawnaha "Oh good, boy, you've come..."
BOY "It was you who killed the Emperor, wasn't it?!"
Fawnaha "Uhuhu... yes, you'd be right. If we just have the Mana Fortress, together we can rule over this world..."
BOY "'We'? Who else is there?
Thanatos!! You've come here!"
Thanatos "Fufufu, it's been quite a while, children!"
KID "Where's Dyluck?! Is he okay?" (hasn't KID learned by now that no one is ever okay around thanatos?)
Thanatos "Why, of course, my lady. That young man's just about to become my vessel for rebirth, after all!"
KID "What are you talking about!?"
Fawnaha "There's no need for you to know why. Now, Lord Thanatos, please go on ahead to the Fortress.
I will have my revenge on you in the name of Sheik and Geshtal!
You will all die this day!"
(she ain't so hard)

Fawnaha "This cannot be...
Lord Thanatos... why?..."

(tap dat switch)

BOY "Geshtal! You're alive!"
Geshtal? "..."
Thanatos "...Kukuku, he is Geshtal, and yet he is not Geshtal...
He is a biomagical machine, brought back to life by my ancient magics... hohoho...
A piteous puppet who lives only to fight..."
BOY "... How could you have done something so inhuman?!"

BOY "The Fortress has finally come online!
The Ancient Continent is sinking into the sea!"