Part 1: Why the fuck did they stick the hardest fight first?Part 1: Why the fuck did they stick the hardest fight first?
Actually, I'm 100% aware that I'm here to get my nuts smashed. Let's just get this thing started. Nobody actually cares about the intro screen. There's some framing device about being stuck in a forest and having to do what the witch says, but it's ill-defined and not as cute as the other Shining Force games. I'm naming myself the standard Bowie, because I have no imagination.
That's what happens when you pick the Ouch! difficulty. It's supposed to be the hardest, but most likely somebody at Camelot fucked up. Super is actually the hardest difficulty because all enemies have 125% normal attack power, which means they hit really fucking hard by the end. I speculate that this attack boost was supposed to be active in Ouch rather than Super. As a result, all playing on Ouch does is make the enemies prioritize targets better, but in this romhack, that's good enough.
By the way, that screenshot I posted in the OP was on Super difficulty. I can't beat the first fight on Super.
Our story starts with the protagonist waking up on an ordinary morning. Let's check out his stats.
Hey, notice anything missing? That's right, he has no magic. In the original game, Bowie starts with a spell called Egress which allows the party to flee the fight with no penalty. It enables power leveling and avoiding the penalty for getting Bowie killed. The removal of Egress alone make the game kind of hard, but it doesn't stop there. Not by a long shot.
We have to go to school and let our teacher know that we're here or something. Apparently Sir Astral spends his morning hanging out in the basement.
Sega's pretty shameless about these things.
And by let's start he means I'm going to get summoned to castle and leave you kids doing nothing until you arbitrarily decide to start following me. Oh yeah, we recruit Sarah and Chester, our healer and knight respectively. Being rascally kids, we lie our way into the castle and begin looting.
This item actually mimics the effects of Egress perfectly. This is one of three we are going to get in the entire game. I'm going to have to use them wisely if I want to make it to the endgame.
Then some stupid stuff happens. The king is sick, the kids barge in on Sir Astral treating the king, and then Astral pulls this completely out of his ass:
Whatever, let's get moving.
Actually, that's a dark smoke which would thoroughly ruin the shit of both me and my grandchildren if it attacked right now. Luckily, it brought actual gizmo buddies.
It's going to take us two to three hits to kill each enemy, while it's about the same the other way around. While the enemy outnumbers us, we have the advantages of healing and being able to manipulate the AI. In fact, the AI is very easy to manipulate in this game move the edge of an enemy's movement range, and they will move in to attack that character and leash to him until one of the other is dead. Generally a leash will only be broken if 1) Bowie is in range to be hit, 2) a healer is in range to be hit, or 3) a character who would be killed in that hit is in range. I will be abusing this pattern to no end because the heroes simply cannot stand up pound-for-pound against the enemies.
Two things to note in this series of screens. The first is that Chester fucking sucks and left the enemy at one hit point. Seriously, Chester is the worst knight in the game yes, Shining Force veterans, he is worse than Higgins and Jaro and I have the data to back it up and one of the candidates for the worst character in the game. Chester being a piece of shit is going to be a recurring theme in this game.
The more interesting point comes with the Terrain Effect window in the last screen. Terrain effect is a stat assigned to each tile and represents a bonus to defense. Terrain effect comes in three varieties: 0%, 15%, and 30%. A large part of making this game easier on yourself is being able to occupy the 30% tiles while forcing the enemies onto 0% tiles. What you see in those screenshots is my baiting the gizmo into occupying a 0% terrain square, making it much easier to kill. This early in the game, even one point of extra defense is the difference between a two-hit and a three-hit kill, which is the difference between a character living or dying.
This is what happens when I let a gizmo occupy a space with 15% terrain effect. Just shaving off one point of damage for Chester is killing a third of his damage output. That's bad news.
This fight is a triple punch to the balls. The first reason is because you're stuck with a small party without a lot of utility. Bowie and Chester just hit things, and the latter isn't very good at even that. Sarah can heal, but she also hits as hard as Bowie, so you're regularly forced to choose between attacking or healing. The second reason is that gizmos have an unusually high dodge rate, and one dodge is usually the difference between winning and losing. The third reason, as pictured, is that you get half normal EXP for no good reason. The first fight of the game is seriously the hardest fight of the game for a long time to come.
Interesting side note, gizmos are weak to wind and fire magic while being resistant to ice magic. Not that it matters, because we don't have access to any of that and these enemies are never appearing again.
Many turns later, this is the battle situation. The green and red dots in the middle? Those are NPCs that are just obstacles on the field, so whatever. It's three against two, so I'm relatively safe now.
Level 2, 1 HP/1 MP/1 ATT/1 DEF/1 AGI
Level 2 1 HP/1 MP /1 ATT/1 DEF/1 AGI
Get +1 to every stat is run of the mill for the first few levels of the game. Stat growth is actually very stable in ShF2 compared to other games.
Well maybe you should
Oh god dammit
Listen man, this really isn't the time to be playing around
The demon floating above the king's body doesn't clue you in to that?
Afterwards, Astral passes out due to exhaustion and the demon escapes. The king summons the royal army to hunt it down and kill it.
Most of the royal army can't even afford shirts. Then, the king sends us off to a nearby village to visit an old guy who looked really dorky as a kid. He knows stuff about the tower, but who gives a shit, there's things to kill.
Fun fact, I never knew there was a cat on the beach until this playthrough of the game. I learn something new every time. Actually, I don't.
As we try to leave the village, we get a fighter who's actually worth a shit. Meet Jaha, who immediately renders Chester redundant. Also, before starting up the fight I head over to the right to that house with the sword on it to upgrade weapons for Bowie and Chester. I also stockpile on medical herbs for everyone. Every character has four item slots, each medical herb only costs 10 gold (gizmos dropped 60 for each kill), and they restore 10 HP a pop. There's no reason for any vacancies in item slots, and we're going to need all the healing we can get.
This fight starts outnumbered two to three, but Jaha is actually good. Unfortunately, the monsters here hit a shitload harder than the gizmos.
And on the other hand
Just as a reminder, that rat has 21 HP. Boy howdy am I glad I'm not playing this game on Super difficulty.
Hey Chester, why don't you continue being a bad character. I'm really honestly completely cool with that.
This happened in about three turns because I'm an idiot who didn't properly control terrain.
By the way, do you know what happens if you get Bowie killed? You respawn but with half your gold. Also, any characters that died in the fight stay dead and you have to pay to revive them. Fuck up on a single fight enough, and you're going to be stuck because everyone's dead and you can pay to get them back. One common challenge for Shining Force games is to play them Fire Emblem style, which means when somebody dies you pretend you can't revive them, and if Bowie dies you reset.
Fuck playing this hack Fire Emblem style.
See each of those dark green squares? They confer 30% terrain effect, while the lighter green squares only give 15%. In addition to occupying the superior terrain, I have the slime leashed onto Jaha and Sarah in proximity to Bowie when he gets hurt. This is what we call A Good Situation. Yes, Chester is left high and dry on a 15% tile, but I've already given up on him.
Now see, this is normal experience gain for killing an enemy. This kill also sent Jaha to level 2. Jaha hit level 2 before Chester did. Chester is terrible.
For the record, this probably took five or six turns of slugging and healing. These things would normally be dead in three turns at the most.
After a lot of turns squatting in the swamp and killing a rat and two oozes, this is the situation. There's another ooze hidden beneath the windows, but they're easy to kill if they don't have 30% terrain effect. That rat is sitting in the forest with 30% terrain effect, but it's more an annoyance than a threat without any other enemies to pour out damage on me.
Level 3 2 HP/1 ATT/1 DEF/1 AGI
Level 3 1 HP/2 MP/1 ATT/1 DEF
Level 3 1 HP/2 ATT/3 DEF/2 AGI
Level 3 3 HP/2 ATT/3 DEF/1 AGI
I somehow managed to catch Chester up to everyone else, but fuck him all the same. Jaha is already far better than he is. Chester's advantages are mobility and range, but given that the dominant strategy is conservative offense and sticking as a pack, we don't really care how far Chester can move and his attack is so low that having range doesn't make up for it.
Oh yeah, I guess there was something about going somewhere.
NEXT TIME: Bat Country