Part 24: No Need for Heaven and Earth
Since it's been mentioned, there's no real reason not to take a side trip to investigate the city other than the fact that it's totally pointless right now.
Instead of a cityscape, we get dumped into an eerily empty jungle. The name is appropriate.
There's only one building in the area, and simply stepping into it results in a scene change.
"I hear the world's finest armor and weapons used to be sold there."
"Scholars say that fluctuations in Mana have distorted space and time, and made the city vanish "
"That's weird the way people talk about the Dragon Emperor you'd think that happened a lot longer ago than ten years.."
"I'm more curious about how the cats talk like they've been there. How did they manage that?"
"It's because they're cats. Duh."
"Maybe it will show up once we've defeated the God-Beasts!"
Since we can't do anything else at the moment, the next stop is Rolante. Going in reverse order Shade would be the next spirit, but that's not exactly an option.
This time the cats are waiting in the tunnel on the way to the Wind Mana Stone. There are no additional areas or new pathways at this point, we're just retracing our steps.
That's not to say that the enemies haven't been beefed up, but they're substantially weaker than enemies in other areas. Scaling isn't very well executed, so just raising enemy levels by 20 or so doesn't make much of a difference on their survivability.
The armor knights are probably the most dangerous enemies in the area, as you can see. Keeping at full health is a must. One benefit of this area is that it's not unusual to find five or six enemies together on one screen.
Naturally, the mana stone is gone at this point.. but that's not exactly important, as we aren't here for that.
"I can't see what else it could be.. but how are we going to get up there?"
"I think the answer to that is "dragon."
Yes, we are flying for this boss fight. This is why a lot of people have been looking forward to it and describing it at one of the best boss fights in the game.
God-Beast Battle: Dangaard
Dangaard Battle Video
So yes, that is a two-headed dragon and we are riding on Flammie's head. This boss battle is pretty unique, in that it transitions between several different viewpoints.
Dangaard mostly uses magical attacks, beginning with single-target air elemental abilities. With each scene transition, new attacks are added to the rotation.
The second phase is side-scrolling. With each transition you also lose your buffs and debuffs every time the view changes. This happens a total of three times in the course of the battle.
The next attack added in is thunderstorm, which is visually spectacular but otherwise not all that dangerous. This is as good a time as any to mention that earth attacks absolutely wreck this boss. It's a bit weird, but weaknesses are mutual in this game. Earth is weak to air, but air is also weak to earth.
The third scene change brings in the area attacks, including a full screen version of air blast and air slasher, which also lowers stats for the entire group.
For the fourth and final change, Dangaard adds the ability to increase its speed and evasion. This doesn't cause too many problems, however, as it's easy enough to counter with Earth Jutsu.
After three sets of spells it's all over, with an explosion marking the fact that we're most of the way through the God Beasts at this point.
The God-Beast of Earth is located here in the Molebear Highlands, but the situation is complicated by the fact that there are multiple landing sites in the area. It's pretty important to actually land by the giant glowing spot on the minimal.
When you find yourself in a brown, craggy area that looks completely unlike the green fields that make up the rest of the highlands you're in the right place.
There's pretty much one path to follow, and the gatekeepers don't have anything new to sell. At this point, even if they did we're getting pretty close to the legendary shopping in Pedan.
The God-Beast of Earth is ensconced in Gemstone Valley, which is mainly populated by high level cockatrices and upgraded molebears. The needlions are particularly annoying, as they can fling their spines and lower your stats.
For some reason, various sections in this area have the enemies ten levels lower. This could be some mercy on the part of the developers, or it could have been a typo. I'll leave it for you all to decide.
The other enemies are small green dragons (poisonous) and slimes (also poisonous), the latter of which can be seen here using their trademark ability that results in everyone hating this place. Mucus shot is an attack debuff that hits your entire group and essentially reduces you to single digit damage. Sometimes the AI will decide to use this on you within a second of your entrance into a room. Other times it never will. I usually just step out of the room if I see something like this, as it's easier for everyone involved.
Needless to say, the golden goddess statue is a very welcome sight that it is completely possible to miss. The first one, and there are two, is down a dead-end fork in a path with the other fork leading deeper in to the dungeon.
Going out of the caves and back onto the ledges takes us to the final stage, with a golden goddess near the final stretch to the God-Beast.
God-Beast Battle: Land Umber
Land Umber Battle Video
Land Umber is one of the host of bosses in this stretch who doesn't actually make an appearance for a few seconds after he supposedly appears. It's a good time to lay down some buffs, since you do have enough control to do that while he makes his appearance.
Land Umber is probably the most mechanical looking of the God-Beasts, and does a very stylized dance? When he finally does make an appearance. He's completely invulnerable until he's done showing off.
LU also likes to hang out at the top of the screen. Stone cloud is one of his few single techs that you actually get a chance to see. It's not particularly threatening.
His main standbys are a set of physical attacks that are very difficult to see, as they usually tend to take place behind the text boxes announcing their names. Breaking his physical attack is fairly necessary.
His other big technique is earthquake, both as a single target (how!?) and multi-target version. It can cause some fairly decent damage across the party, but it's kind of underwhelming. Land Umber is a bit of a breather boss, to be honest.
My favorite attack from this boss is indisputably crashball, which has him picking one of your characters up and flinging them all over the screen.
Finally, for his personal buff LU gets the ability to increase his defense, which would be a nice delaying tactic if he weren't weak to the counter, thunder jutsu.
After a fairly thorough battering he explodes, leaving us with only one real place to go. The end-game is approaching pretty quickly.