Part 45: Illusory Palaces
Once we get into the Mirage Palace, it's pretty much oceans of blood, skulls, dragon zombies, and necromancer tomato men. In other words, very cool.
The big gimmick in this area is space warping doorways. A number of places will send you to another place where you have to do something or kill a number of enemies, then dump you right back in the same place. This first one appears to send us to Wendel...
"I'll still have the pleasure of killing you myself ahahahaha!"
"Bring it, old man! I always knew this day would come!"
"Has the Elder always been a monster, or was I just not paying attention?"
"I'm.. fairly.. sure that isn't the real Elder."
"Close enough for me."
At the north end of the causeway there's a very strange save statue, surrounded by 8 orbs. After we clear each pathway, the orbs will light up as a visual signal.
Heading east leads us to an old friend, who hasn't grown any more impressive in the meantime. As you can see, his assistant bugs are still level 23 for some bizarre reasons. We kill it with fist, fire, and flail.
Southeast takes us an area marked by blue flames, complete with an invisible pathway and another transportation doorway.
This one takes us through a succession of environments, each with 3 enemies that have been scaled to an appropriate level. Once you kill all three, you're instantly transported to the next area. Fighting through all the encounters clears this pathway.
The other cardinal direction we have available to us, west, leads to a transport through a series of rooms with a number of doors to choose from. I don't know if the choice makes any difference, but the final room only has one door.
At the very end, we've got another stationary enemy from the past to deal with. Genova really hasn't changed very much at all.
He's also lower level than us, and thus vulnerable to the Death Spell. That makes for a fairly short fight.
To the southwest there's a variant on the Gem Valley. Rather than showing "trapped" it displays the message about the up stairway being closed. In order to navigate this area you actually have to pass through some of the rooms without killing all the enemies. Killing them will change the exits, making it necessary to go back a couple of rooms to cause a respawn.
The goal for this one is to reach Pandora's box and get an uplifting message about hope. Next!
Northwest we have a replica of the destroyed village of Astoria, still in the same shape as when we left it.
The town is inhabited by the ghosts of the inhabitants, and it's impossible to enter any of the buildings.
The key is to find this guy, who was never actually in the original village. Once you talk to him and return to the original entry he'll be waiting. He turns into a level 52 ghost, which is only remarkable because that's about the highest level a normal enemy reaches in the game. Beating him ends this segment.
In roughly the same area we can return to the endless stairs of Rolante castle, populated by enemies that were never in the area to begin with.
For some reason, Karl shows up and runs downward. It could be a trick to pull players back down and erase some progress, but damned if I was going to climb down those stairs. At this point, we're pretty much free to return to the central pillar and open the way north, which leads...
Into a second Mirage Palace, complete with switch puzzles! This one moves a bridge over, allowing us to move around the palace a bit more easily or to fall into a pit.
Kevin sticks the landing at the bottom of the pit. There's actually a purpose to this, however, as this pit has another necessary switch to solve the puzzle.
The end goal is to create the bridge in the middle of this room so that you can walk through a false wall. There are no hints about the false wall and there have been no false walls previously in the game. On the other hand, running around looking for the wall definitely made for some good leveling.
Behind the false wall is a teleport square to a much more scenic part of the palace, which looks like it would be perfectly at home in one of the Castlevanias.
Fittingly, it's haunted by one of the other bosses we've seen before. The only difference is that we're two class changes further down the road and have three party members to fight him with instead of two.
His attacks, while still cool looking, aren't all that impressive anymore. Even bosses don't really scale well in this game.
We don't have any holy magic of substance to use on him, but despite being undead he's still quite vulnerable to the Death Spell. Probably a good thing, since he still likes to hang around outside of Kevin's range for long periods of time. Gorva is the last mini-boss on this path, and a few more rooms finally bring us somewhere.
"You, masked mage! Give back Mana Sword!"
" Heath, this is your new boss? What are you thinking helping someone this obviously evil?"
"I don't like this what happened to you?"
"You'll have to excuse my associate he's a man of few words, these days."
"Few words ! I've got a few words for you and you aren't going to like what I do with them!"
"Thanks to you, their energy is now absorbed into the Sword of Mana "
"Eternal life power surpassing that of the Goddess herself It will soon be mine!"
"Is power all that you people think about? Power, power, power I'm sick of hearing about that! What do you even want to do with that power!?
"Eh, I'm sure I'll be able to figure something out. Once I'm immortal I'll have plenty of time to think about it."
"The Sword ! Stop!!"
"What's happening "
"The light I can feel it burning me Goddess, that could only be you "
"What, you think I was telling you just out of the goodness of my heart? I could have told you that it wasn't even going to work before you even tried it."
"I was hoping it wouldn't come to this! But I'll chop down the Mana Tree if I have to "
"Gah! Mana Goddess in trouble!"
"Well, what are we waiting for? Let's go after him!"
"Heath, wake up! It's me, Carlie! Don'tcha remember me?"
"But, first, a change of venue "
"We'll have a use for that throne room come the day, and it's so tiresome getting monsters to clean blood splatters from the ceiling."
" ? You just need a mop with a long handle."
"I'll keep that in mind. We might be turning this into a guestroom, you know."
"I don't know, and I don't want to know. I don't want to fight you, Heath! Stop!
Boss Battle: Heath
Heath Boss Battle
The first and most important thing to remember about Heath is that as a priest he's going to have a lot of abilities we've already seen. He can heal himself for about 500-600 hp, but that's only the tip of the iceberg.
He's also got Carlie's summoning spells and Lise's stage 3 summons, many of which come with a nasty status effect attached. Getting the entire group silenced at once isn't very much fun at all. He can also do very respectable damage with those summons.
He's also lower level than us, wasn't given immunity to the Death Spell, and Kevin can use Veritubach on him. This confirms that just about anything that uses a character sprite is vulnerable to the grappling techniques. This battle goes precisely as badly as you'd expect for Heath.
"And how did we get back here from the other place?"
"Heath! Don't talk!"
"Don't worry about me. Hurtty to the Holyland Stop the Masked Mage "
"Long ago in Wendel there was a girl with an incurable disease.
"Light magic had no effect on it. My father, Belgar, wanted to cure her at any cost."
"So he began a long, intensive study of the forbidden dark magics "
"In time, he found an incredible spell which could reanimate the dead girl.
"The people of Wendel began to fear Belgar. They even called him the 'Priest of Darkness'...
"This can't have been that long ago..you're not that old, and you talk like you were there "
"Afraid that the city of Wendel would become cursed, the Priest of Light exiled Belgar.
"He has worn the mask ever since to hide his true self."
"My magic was too weak to save him I became a victim of his evil plan "
"That's pretty rough. If it makes you feel better, my dad's kind of a jerk too."
"All things considered, not much is going to make me feel better right now "
"Goodbye? What do you mean goodbye? You can't!"