Part 17: To the Face
"Come forth, my mighty minion! Come forth, Booskaboo!"
"You're really getting into this a bit too much."
"The name kind of grows on you."
Our next destination is literally halfway across the world in the desert. We're actually just across some mountains from the very first part of the game. That said..
"Ahh, my old stomping grounds. Lots of good memories of this place."
"In other words, the local cops are after you and there's a wanted poster on every corner."
"Don't be ridiculous."
"There aren't any cops here."
Unfortunately, there's not much new in the way of equipment..
Although I find it kind of fitting that the city in Hawk's flashback is one of the few that actually has a chest you can open. It's a very weird thing, but this game is not long on loot at all.
Just like everywhere else in the world, Sultan has problems.. in this case a heatwave and a ninja blockade.
"I think the fact that it's right on the edge of the desert should tell you all you need to know about why you don't have customers."
Just head south is a pretty useful direction guide to finding the Valley of Flames, but as we'll see things get.. weird.. out in the desert.
"You have NO idea.. although it shouldn't be a problem anymore."
"Do you ever think that in some ways the things we do make the world a more boring place?"
"Rough break. I know just how losing your parents can be."
"Well, the kid seems okay "
"The child's mind is clearly unhinged by grief."
This may be important later.
"No, that's Altena. The Navarre raiders are..Hawk, what are they doing exactly?"
"I think they're trying to liberate the magical forces that bind the world together and destroy humanity."
"It's even worse when you put it like that."
"How is it that your criminal acts never seem to actually result in the kind of havoc you'd expect?
"I'm.. just that good at them, I guess?"
"That's just really not fair."
The desert just outside of town is full of the expected desert like creatures, including the bulette seen here charging at us and cockatrices.
It also introduces the Duck Soldiers, a perennial favorite enemy in the series.
It has the same trap rooms that we saw in the snowfield, with the extra fun of some of them being one-way entrances. It actually works pretty well if you want a loop to level up in.
When in doubt, just kill everything in a room and see if the terrain mysteriously changes. This pathway here is a dead end, but it has a couple of interesting features.
First, this is the view using a jumping spring to take a look. You can see that we have a castle to the north and a town around an oasis to the west. So far so good.. although I'll point out that we had to travel south and east to get here. The town of Sultan is on the western end of the desert.
The castle to the north is Sand Fortress Navarre, and is locked up tight at the moment.
From the jumping spring if we head south and east we can come to this lovely lush, green area.. which is a bit strange since we could clearly see that it was to the west. The promised village is the same place that the local merchants are having trouble reaching.
More rumors and information. It would probably be more interesting if we didn't already have Hawk and Lise's backstories telling us all about this.
"When people began battling for control of Mana, the forest withered away "
"This oasis is all that remains of the great forest. When it disappears, there'll be nothing left."
"This entire desert might be the most depressing place I have ever been to. Do we really need a mana tree and mana all that badly?"
"I don't even want to imagine what the world would be like without it."
The item shop is deserted..
Mainly because the shops here are actually open only during certain times of the day. The weapon shop isn't a great loss, because it just has the same stuff we've already got.
The real prize is the armor shop, which has upgrades for two of our accessories. The difference isn't very much in the scheme of things, but every bit counts. This game has a very limited equipment selection for its length.
"You should probably start packing your bags now, actually. I don't think things are going to get much better here."
This is something of a lie.. we have to go west, north, south, and then kind of back east. It's not too hard to find, though, and once we're there we can find some old friends.
"Wow, she's really glad to see you."
"It's almost like she thinks you killed her brother or something."
"Wait, so that means we can ki"
"Ixnay on the illkay! Don't give anybody any ideas"
"Because it worked out so well the last time these two idiots fought with us.."
"Bill Ben snap out of it! We were a team, remember?"
"Like that one time when we were robbing the mansion and I cut the rope early and you fell down before the dogs ate the drugged sausages.."
"Uh Hawk "
"And you can't forget the time we robbed that merchant in the desert and I let you guys pick first? I even helped you get the curse off of the jewels so you'd stop pissing blood.. those were the best times of our lives!"
"Let's go, Ben."
Boss Battle: Bill/Ben, Second Edition
Bill/Ben Boss Battle, Once More
It's actually been a very short time since we've fought these guys, and not terribly much has changed.
They still use lots of multi-target jutsus and shuriken, which Hawk can now counter with his own. This means that there are a lot of debuffs flying around in the fight. If you're not careful you can find yourself utterly crippled by it. Other than that, the fight is straight forward except for one thing.
The major differences in this fight is that they have a brutal counter against level 2 techs. It's not as bad as dealing with the machine golems, however, as their counter is single target. You can't accidentally cause a full party wipe by using a multi-target technique.
"We'll get her, Hawk..she just gave up the last thing that could have stopped us."
If I had to describe the Valley of Flames in one word, I'd pick Red. It's a lot of ledges and winding paths leading vaguely southward.
These little guys are firedrakes, although I haven't seen one live long enough to do anything noteworthy.
There are a few caves and other places we can try to enter, but any deviation from the main path results in an explosion.
There are also Master Ninjas running around in here, but they're not that big of a problem.
"Huh.. I guess she could do that if she really broke the curse linking their lives.."
"If she did, though, we'd kill her in seconds."
"Ah-ha, a famous Navarrian stand-off. One of us will have to blink sooner or later!"
"Dart to the face!"
"Or that could happen, I guess."
"I stand in awe of your diplomatic skills, Nikita."
"She's unconscious. But the necklace is off, so there's a chance she'll recover "
"The closest town is Deen. I'll take Jessice there, don't worry. Just go ahead and catch Bigieu!"
"Thanks man.. could you tell her I didn't kill her brother and wreck the kingdom when she wakes up?"
"Not a problem, bro. I'll even tell her that the leggy amazon you're running around with is your cousin or something."
"Pity I couldn't use Jessica's soul to do it.. I had to use Bill's and Ben's "
"but their sacrifices will not have been in vain! My master, my Dark Prince the holyland is ours!"
"Seriously, are you trying to stack up more reasons for us to kill you?"
"La la la, can't hear you, vanishing now "
"Just like in Altena it seems that everyone is after the Sword of Mana "
"Humans are pretty much a giant collection of douches."
"If the Sword falls into the wrong hands there would be another worldwide catastrophe!"
"You don't have to sound so cheerful about it."
"We can't let that happen! We have to hurry and find the rest of the spirits!"
"HEY! Watch it with the fire, buddy!"
"Sorry, didn't see you there."
"I don't like you already."
"That.. that was terrible."
"Everybody's a critic these days."
"So you've decided to help us out? Thanks!"
"Just leave it to me!"