Part 3: Forest Planetary Exploration
: Commander Bloss will want to see you!
Figures as much.
Actually, it kind of was...
: Why don't you hook up with the landing party. Give you a chance to use that firecracker you're always carrying around. You like to blow stuff up, right?
Well, I WAS a Boy Scout once...
: Who's leading this party?
: Don't get ahead of yourself kid. I've already got a team lead, trouble as she is. She's a hand-me-down from the front lines. Guess High Command thinks it's funny to drop their garbage on me.
: Front lines?
: A month back over Earth. We gave this kid the best Battleworm in the fleet and she still managed to get taken down by a single human fighter. Total incompetent.
A month? We were out for a month!
: A girl?
: She was stripped of rank and sent here as punishment. Ha! But a few months with Bloss should straighten her out. She's probably in the Skinning Room. Why not drop by and say hi?
: ... So that's who shot down Sigma Team! A lousy Krill girl!
Recker's on a rampage!
Hey you, bit--
: Never seen anyone get skinned before?
We were not prepared for this.
: So you're the new guy, huh? ... You're not much to look at. But my parasite seems to like you.
: Thanks, I guess.
: But then, my parasite is a primitive animal. How about you? What did they fit you with?
: Excuse me?
: Your parasite. Let's take a look. ... Heh heh heh. Bloss sure gave you the runt of the litter! It's a good fit for you though. Next to our Krill soldiers you're pretty shrimpy.
: Are you finished?
: And sensitive too! I'll have to learn to play nice. It's Psyme in case you're wondering. Easy to remember. Rhymes with Rhyme.
: My name. Bloss said you're tagging along. Be at the landing hatch in five minutes. It's next to the launch bay.
So that was Psyme, the Krill female lead. She's a handful and poor Recker gets to deal with her from here on out. If any of you thought I was making too many jokes about ladies and alien ladies, it was only because of Psyme and the other girl on the box and the fact that it turns into a space soap opera once she appears.
: This starbase has been conducting scans of the nearby Forest Planet for the past month. Krill High Command is no longer satisfied with long range scans. They think landing a team on the surface will yield different results.
: What kind of data are we supposed to be looking for?
: High Command knows, but they aren't saying. There is something about the planet that makes it unique. Whatever we're looking for, it should turn up in routine geological surveying.
: Hah. Now there's something we have in common! Arrogant top brass!
: Enough out of you Earthman. Why don't you make yourself useful at that NAV station. Drop us out of orbit and take us down. Don't worry, even a child can do it.
: This "star" base can land?
: Would you rather we call it a land base? Shut up and do as you're ordered!
Geez. Well this is going to be a fun trip... (unpictured: dropping the ship out of orbit, i.e., me going to the computer and clicking LAND.)
The screen shakes here, impossible to catch in a still shot.
: By now you must already know what our ships are living things. Standard operating procedure any time we land a starbase is to set the fleet loose to patrol the surrounding airspace. They make good eyes and ears, but our hips aren't capable of evasive maneuvers. When a ship is in danger, it summons the nearest pilot into its Control Cavity. The pilot acts as its logic center until the threat is eliminated. The beauty of this design is that we can breed out ships to outnumber pilots 100 to 1. It's been the key to our success in dominating this sector of space.
: When you said the ship "summons the pilot"... You mean it... Calls you or something?
: You don't know? Ha! This will be rich. Try to keep up.
VIDEO: Forest Planet Exploration + 1st Random Battle
So we're finally at the main gameplay portion of the game. it's during these parts that we get to explore the planet, find new Gun Data, and enjoy the meat of the game. And speaking of enjoyment, here's a video of some planet exploration leading up and through the first random battle.
These serpent statues are destructible, and aside from the respawning enemies, they are your easiest method of regaining Health and Bombs. Shoot them and grab the contents.
And here's a health pack. I think it heals about 1/4 your like bar.
This is Gun Data! It looks angry. Maybe it just wants a friend.
When you collect Gun Data, you're taken to your Weapon Select Screen and the game scrolls to the new data, unlocks it, and plays a jingle. This is the Horizonal Alternating Cannon. It's not bad by far but it gets quickly obsoleted by not only a better variation of it, but also by another cannon data. We'll be sticking to our standard gun for the time being.
You can leap down off ledges that have that arrow on them.
This is a Smart Bomb. Pressing L uses one bomb, but the bomb kills every enemy on screen aside from minibosses and bosses.
Here's where the Metroidvania aspect of the game comes into play. We can't get over there yet, so we'll need to return later with an appropriate inventory item.
I figured I'd show the map for the planet. The X towards the center is the point where the star base entrance is and the white square (which flashes white to black) is the room you're in. The different colors represent areas that you can get to at later times. In this case, dark green is what's accessible right now, light is next, then orange, last yellow. Orange and yellow will be explored on later visits.
Well, it doesn't look like we can go this way.
We continue forward and run into Psyme and the troops.
Hey, where are they warping?
: Where did they go?!
: The ships are spooked by something. They're summoning pilots.
: You mean they can just suck people into the sky?!
: Sure! That's what your parasite is for, idiot! It's a link between you and your ship! If you're summoned, just take aim and destroy anything that moves. Once the ship relaxes, you'll be sent back. ... Whooops......Here I go!
: Oh, man! Here it comes!
This battle was shown in the above video.
: That was amazing! We don't have anything like that on Earth! My parasite...and that ship...It was like I was in its head!
: I wouldn't get too attached to that ship.
: Why not?
: Because, silly. You never know which ship will be summoning you. It could be a different one every time. Which reminds me. Everything you experience is remembered by your parasite. That means that the stronger you become, the stronger the ship you inhabit will be.
: Weird. On Earth our ships do all the work. We just pilot them.
: Which is why you won't benefit any from that peashooter you carry. Don't forget that. If you're going to strengthen the bond between you and your parasite, it'll be in the stars. Build up our parasite's experience level, and your ships will fly tough.
That explains how you can be as powerful as you are later in the game no matter what ship you pilot.
: Got it.
: I'm going to scout ahead. We need to gather data on the area.
On a translation note, it sort of bothers me how much English slang the Krill use. 'Peashooter' and 'Firecracker' in reference to Recker's gun, 'Chitchats' instead of talks. I mean, it's not that much usage, but it feels strange that an alien race who has learned our language has also learned to use our slang. I dunno, I just find it a bit strange.
Up ahead a little bit we find a new Cannon Gun Data. This is the Vertical Alternating Cannon. It's pretty useless in a game where all the random battles scroll horizontally.
One of the enemies on the planet, this worm thing burrows from underground and sits there. Easy to avoid.
One of three minibosses you can find during this section of the game. This one's the most annoying of the three.
You have to shoot it in the eye, but that rocky shell rotates around it. Eventually the shell stops and the creature inside flips around. That mouth orifice then fires bullets at you.
Eventually after taking enough damage, the rock shell can be shot off.
Lastly, it will spin around and fire bullets in all directions. This is the last form and after a couple seconds more of hitting it, it explodes and leaves about 60-80 EXP.
Also, the battle shows the Heavy Krill Fighter. I'll explain it in more detail in a little bit.
I was surprised here by this ship appearing. It's the Krill Small Fighter. This is a relatively uncommon ship to be summoned into. It's like a heavy fighter in that it's pretty resilient from what I remember, but it's smaller than any other ship, flying at about the speeds the normal ship flies at.
Same fight, there's a couple of new enemies here. Those yellow and purple squares just float there, spinning. They're more like mines than anything in that they don't attack, just take up space. That blue dragonfly-looking thing will fly faster if you get close, so taking it out from a distance is how to deal with them.
: There is definitely something here, ma'am.
: I feel it. Rumbling. Like a vehicle approaching.
The screen shakes every couple seconds throughout this conversation, driving the point home that there is, in fact, something rumbling.
: It's deep underground. I can't tell how far.
: This might be what we're looking for. Stay here and record it. Then return to the starbase with your readings.
: Where are we going?
: To find out what's causing this hunk of rock to shake. Somehow I doubt High Command sent us here for a simple foot massage.
Have I mentioned that the dialogue can be genuinely funny and entertaining at times?
This is the Krill Bomber. It's probably the worst ship to have to fly but luckily, the Forest Planet does not have any battle stages that can dick you over if you get unlucky enough to get this monstrosity for the stage. The bomber is slow and huge and despite its size, it has only average defense. Its B firing drops bombs, like our Earth ship in the intro did. Getting stuck with the bomber for later planets' stages where you have to kill upwards of 80 enemies to beat it are a test in fine control and patience.
Convenient Data Plug sitting out here. I'll take it. Data Plugs also heal health to full, so they're great in that regard too.
Most planets have underground caves you can enter. Some are dead ends with Gun Data, some are actually part of the path. On the Map screen, ones that are part of the path are usually shown by the thin white lines connecting areas. Caves never have random battles.
It may not go up in experience but our gun makes enemies explode. That enemy below is new, it jumps at you if you get close enough, but you can kill it from afar in one hit.
Now THIS is a Cannon Gun Data we'll be using a lot. The Free Movement Cannon is amazing in that it shoots in the direction you are currently moving. If you aren't moving it fires straight forwards. Sounds tricky, and it can be at times but the fact that you just have to hold the fire button down instead of mashing it makes it immediately useful. And you don't have to always line up shots horizontally with it. Very handy for the upcoming Chapter boss.
I got a level up here. Level ups restore health to full mid-flight so it's really handy if you're close to dying and know you can get one.
Same battle, this is the Krill Agile Fighter. It's the fastest ship the Krill use, almost too fast. Holding B to accelerate while in this ship is dangerous, especially in tight stages.
This is a bomb in use. Each EXP bubble is one dead enemy. Bombs kill everything on screen, no questions asked.
We have our first Bullet Gun Data here. This is the Steer Shot. Your shots get influenced by the direction you move. It's like the Free Movement Cannon but in bullet form, but only fires forward. Combining the two turns into a clusterfuck of bullets that are impossible to control so we won't be using it anytime soon.
Once again, the Heavy Fighter. It's got high defense but it's rather slow. However it makes up for its speed with its high defense and B weapon.
The Heavy Fighter's B weapon is a spread shot that's actually more powerful individually than the A weapon (currently). Even later in the game when the A weapon should be more powerful, the spread on the Heavy Fighter's B weapon can be useful.
I realized I ran past this and backtracked a bit because this is the Bullet Gun Data we'll be using for a while. This is the Double Shot. The bullet turns into two lasers and increases both attack power and the bullet size.
VIDEO: A random battle from this section of the planet.
That purple shell enemy moves slowly along whatever surface it's attached to and fires bullets at you.
VIDEO: The second miniboss.
This one's easy enough, just fire at it until it dies, avoiding the charge attack.
: That's an Earth symbol by the doorway, isn't it?
: I don't believe it! This looks like some kind of mining operation! What could they be up to so far from Earth?
: Looks like your overlords have been doing some moonlighting!
: Earth doesn't have overlords! Well, jeez, I don't know. Maybe we do.
: It would take a great deal of resources to secretly excavate a planet in Krill space. ... Shush! I'm getting orders from the station.
: Don't look at me! You can talk through that creature?
: I said quiet! ... ... Wow, I can't believe I have to explain this to a grown man. Ok, look... Female Krill have the ability to speak through their parasites when the fleet is overhead. Surely you've noticed the difference between male and female Krill?
: Hard to miss.
: Anyway, we're attacking the settlement.
: You feel like dishing out a little payback to your Earth friends? I'll set up a remote DATA PLUG here. Use it to SAVE your progress.
: Data Plug's for saving. Got it.
Even though we've used them about four times by now.
: When you're ready to hail a ship, just step into the middle of this circle. We use these as lures to attract the nearest ship. Don't step into the circle unless you're ready for a battle. I'll be right behind you when you do.
Join me next time as we fight our own species.
I ran across this as I was playing to transcribe the dialogue, after I'd taken the screens. This is the last variety of Krill ship, the Krill Transport Vessel. It's big and slow, with nothing special about it until it takes enough damage, other than its rarity.
When it takes enough damage, the ship opens up and falls back, launching out a Krill Small Fighter. It's more of a novelty than anything, but it's neat nonetheless.