Part 5: Cursed RuneWhere we left off, we were about to get shot at by a pirate.
Watch the naval battle against the Pirate Brandeau
(Or just listen to the music)
So, now that we're getting into a fight that actually matters, I can talk about the final major part of Suikoden IV's gameplay, the large-scale battle system.
Ships are armed with rune cannons, which come in five elemental flavours, as noted on the lower right; the icons are, left to right: fire, wind, earth, lightning, water, and then fire again. Much like the duel system, they work in a rock-paper-scissors manner, except it's one of those complicated versions of RPS that nerds come up with when they think they're being clever, like, I don't know, rock-paper-scissors-spock hand-chainsaw or whatever.
Any time a ship fires, the target gets to fire back if they are in position to do so. (This is going to be most of the time.) When that happens, one of three things occur:
- If they fire two unrelated elements (say, fire and lightning) then both ships are hit and take damage.
- If they both use the same element, the two shots cancel each other out.
- Finally, if the two elements are next to each other on the list, the one on the right is cancelled out, but the one on the left deals damage.
In this case, one ship has fire shells and the other one has lightning, which is shown in the little red bubbles next to each ship. A quick look at the list shows that water beats fire and earth beats lightning. We simply equip those two elements, and both ships will happily kill themselves on us without having any hope of ever dealing any damage.
While this fight can be excused as an extended tutorial, later ships will generally just have two cannons, and all of them are equipped with two "related" elements - that is, fire and wind, or wind and earth, and so on. This means that you can just shoot them with the higher element - if they have fire and wind, then fire; if they have wind and earth, then wind - and both shots will cancel out half the time and the enemy will be taking damage the other half.
Oh, and it always looks exactly like this. The battlefield is just a grid with a bunch of blue wet stuff under it, and your units are always ships with rune cannons. Basically, it's like Suikoden II except with no differences in terrain or units or any of the other things that actually made the large scale battles in that game interesting.
Man, I had such high hopes for pirate battles on the high seas, and it turns out every fight consists of using the same weapon over and over on enemies with giant PLEASE SHOOT ME WITH THIS ELEMENT UNTIL I DIE signs attached to them.
(You can also board enemy vessels, but this is fairly pointless since it only results in a relatively generic battle using the characters you've selected as fighters on the preparation screen. I'll try to remember to show it off at some point I'm not on a boat full of generics.)
And that, as they say, is that. But though his ship has sunk, the Pirate Brandeau still has one last trick up his sleeve, and it's a doozy. Watch the scenes - this is long, but very recommended.
The ship shakes violently.
Knight of Gaien (1): Wha? What's going on?!
Knight of Gaien (1): Wh-What?!
Knight of Gaien (2):A dozen or so enemy combatants confirmed!! We are currently...
What follows is a generic battle where Generic Gaien Knight 1 takes Snowe's place and does a much worse job at it in every possible way. I take some pride in keeping his worthless ass alive through the entire fight and...
...it's actually the nameless goon who delivers the finishing blow to Brandeau.
Assassin: Y-You little...
Hmmmph, so you're the Pirate Brandeau? You've really got guts picking a fight with the Knights. But you'll regret that decision in the afterlife.
Assassin: Grr... M-Master Brandeau...
Brandeau raises his hand.
Assassin: No! Not the--
All of you...
Oh, this won't end well at all.
Asassin: F-Fools!!! R-R-Run!!!
Run away! Quickly!!! W-We'll be turned to ash!
For the Knights as well as "Assassin".
As for Lazlo -
-oh, god damn it.
Sure is. And what was that about your arm? It seems to work fine to me!
So anyway, Glen fishes him up.
I... I know, but, my arm!! My arm wouldn't move, don't you understand?!
Glen decides the only proper punishment is to clip his hand right through Snowe's face.
It sounds like someone bashing a pig carcass against a concrete wall.
You coward! What kind of captain leaves his men in order to save himself?! The captain is always last to leave!
But... my arm!! My arm wouldn't move!! Look!!
This is pointless!
GEE THANKS FOR THE ADVICE I'LL GET RIGHT ON THAT
Will you... be... next?
One blow from me and you'll be dead in an instant!
Oh, I don't doubt that actually yes I do but you have to hit me first!
(Brandeau's lines are actually somewhat harder to figure out than Glen's, so I'll at least give him credit for that.)
That ends just about as well as you'd imagine.
(Fools who have got their shit utterly ruined by a mute teenage boy: II)
Just in time for Glen to finally haul his ass over here! And catch Lazlo as he collapses.
...Brandeau is still not dead.
Finish me... now.... Please...
Is that... a Rune? That pattern...
The rune considers this a good opportunity to explode in Glen's face.
Remember how I said you should remember this pattern?
Words cannot describe how fucked you are.
Heh... heh... It's your turn now...!!
The rune attaches itself to Glen's hand...
Now... I'll be... free...
...and Brandeau dies.
...before succumbing to the peer pressure.
Lazlo isn't quite sure what the hell just happened...
...and the ship heads back towards Razril.
The "merchants" have been watching from what they probably believe is a safe distance.
It certainly has been one misfortune after another. But with this... we will no longer be dogged by the infamous Pirate Brandeau.
Well, it's a little ironic for us to be calling him infamous, though.
We must exercise more caution in the future. By the way, Ms. Mizuki and Mr. Akaghi, what did you make of that light just now?
I've never seen anything like it.
There was a weird sound, too... like someone screaming. Still, it gave me the chills.
Hmm... I suppose this is something we should report, as well.
I would like to confirm it one more time...
Snowe, Snowe, Snowe your boat...
Lazlo has somewhat mixed feelings over the whole affair.
And as for Snowe? He's just feeling like one right bastard.
The next thing Lazlo knows, he's waking up in his room. He's probably hoping things will stay quiet for a while so he can sort out what has happened...
...next up, shit hits an industrial strength fan.
If Lazlo had decided to surrender against Brandeau...
...it counts as a defeat...
...and you get a game over.
I'm not going to bother showing off the surrender option for other fights because I imagine they're just going to be along the same lines with someone telling you YOU FUCKED UP! LOOK HOW MUCH UP YOU FUCKED! and then getting kicked out to this screen.
Also, I wouldn't be able to live with myself.