Part 9: Back to the Grind
After a good night's sleep, the party makes their way outside, but Lazlo hears something interesting and stops them.
(This video starts with a whole two voiced lines that you missed out on last episode! Exciting! Well, at least pretend it's exciting, okay? actually I just can't be arsed to re-do it)
What happened? You arrived ahead of schedule.
Tactical Espionage Action!
Where? Is it in enemy territory?
Merchant-like Man: Yes, sir. A group of pirates apparently attacked the Knights at the Village of Razril in Gaien...
Look what you made me do. We just had to bring a skittish fucking elf and now she's gone and given us away. I hope you are all happy with yourselves.
You there! Come out!
So Colton and Tro... our anonymous benefactor (soon to be ex benefactor) drag the party out in front of the firing squad. And by firing squad I mean Colton.
Honestly I'd rather take my chances with the rune cannons right now.
Then I would assume that you're all prepared to face your fate...
Nooo! I have so many reasons to live! Like... Wait, trying to come up with one now...
We are... "ex-" Knights of Gaien.
We can never go back.
Spoiler: yes we can.
I'm no Knight!
I have heard enough! I'll make sure that your clamoring stops! By your leave, Captain?!
I suppose it can't be helped.
By that he means we're going to fight Colton and Troy- wait fuck. All right, hell with it, Troy has infinite HP in this fight. It is technically possible to beat Colton, but he has like 4000 or 5000 HP so it's not happening, and either way he the two of them hit like trucks loaded with bricks made of explosives. See that 11? That's the damage I'm doing. See those other numbers? That's all Troy's doing. Frame of reference: Lazlo has 117 HP at max health and is the beefiest character in the party at this point.
Naturally, it's the triumphant return of the Unwinnable JRPG BattleTM.
Sink or swim, let's get out of here!
Colton moves to give chase, but Troy stops him.
It doesn't matter. Let them go. Besides, we shouldn't waste our time with these amateurs.
But... Sir Troy...!
So yeah, they actually tell us outright at this point.
Ultimately, they're just weaklings who cannot show their faces in their homeland. Forget about them. The sea will decide their fate.
How long do you think it will take before that statement comes back to bite him in the ass?
Troy flounces off.
Grr... The Captain certainly is spineless...
Which is why he's in charge.
And you're not.
We need to fight two random encounters to escape (for some fucking reason) but, if we turn around, there are also two non random encounters we can get into.
These soldiers will initiate combat if interacted with, and no matter how many times you kill them, they will not go away. Here, if one had a turbo controller and were so inclined, it would be possible to auto-level.
...so I will.
Unlike the previous game I played, there is really no downside to this in Suikoden IV, and we're free to sit back and watch the XP pour in... in theory.
The way levels work in Suikoden is that you need 1000 experience points for each one, but how much you get after a fight depends on your level in relation to the enemy's. Kill a higher level enemy, get lots of XP. Kill a lower level enemy, get not so much.
This is a good thing as it allows easy training of low-level characters - and there will be a lot of characters who can't keep up with your main party in a game with dozens of playable ones. However, it makes grinding past the "appropriate" level for each area rather painful. The good news is that you should never need to grind past the appropriate level, and in fact if you're considering it, I can almost guarantee that you're doing something wrong, like not upgrading your weapons and armour.
The bad news is that our auto-levelling attempt comes to a plateau around level 20, after which each new level takes an increasingly ridiculous amount of time to reach. Once you hit level 23, the XP gain drops into the single digits, and by then I just said "fuck it" and aborted the mission.
Here is where we're at after all that. A few hours and a couple of hundred battles, and we've gained twelve levels.
At this point, I have to ask myself: was it worth it? Well, considering it took place while I was off doing something completely unrelated, hell yeah! But given the time spent? It's certainly not something you should wait around for.
Aside from the levels, we've also gained about 120k potch and fifty or so "? pots", which will have to be identified before we know what they are, but it's going to take a while before we can get around to that.
Several hours, and levels, later, the party begins to worry that they're overstaying their welcome.
Paddle faster! Faster!
Troy just stands there, looking down on us. I'll make him regret that one of these days.
And Colton is eager to get the last word in.
Had you been able to return to Gaien, you would have been killed by us!
That was... Troy...
In case we really didn't get it back then, Paula is only too happy to confirm that the man who very nearly killed all of us (all because of her) was the same one Glen ranted on about in the second episode. What a coincidence!
Another short segment of gameplay follows...
I'm done for, meow...
Mr. Chiepoo, let us both work hard. Please hoard the rain water.
...where we need to go around talking to our crew.
Once that is over,
...it's back to the Goddamn Ocean.
Another couple of encounters later, we come to our
So let's talk Rune of Punishment.
You'll notice that Lazlo only has a first level spell despite having magic points all the way up to level three. Much like Soul Eater before it, the Rune of Punishment (the description for which reads, "Rune governing atonement & forgiveness", by the way) unlocks all its spells at specific points as the game progresses.
The gimmick of the Rune (as the game should have driven home by now after the second guy got turned to ash after using it) is "power at a cost". In theory, that is a really neat gimmick.
If you're sensing a "but" (or possibly a "however") coming along, congratulations, you've been paying attention to the thread title.
However, they fucked this up in practice, because the Rune of Punishment is awful. It will eventually contain four spells like just about every other magic rune, but you're looking at the only one in its arsenal that's actually good - and even that is fairly pathetic coming after Suikoden III.
300 damage as a first level spell is pretty good, but comparing it to True Fire (400 damage with a small AoE), True Lightning (900 damage divided among enemies) or True Wind (250 damage to all enemies), none of which had any drawbacks at all, it's pretty embarrassing.
I have other issues with it, too. The design is clearly seashell inspired, but I can't find anything indicating those being symbolic of atonement or forgiveness. From what I've heard, they just picked it to fit the visual theme of the game. Not that I know how one should illustrate "atonement" with a simple symbol...
...but that brings us to the next problem. This is just a personal thing, but atonement and forgiveness? Really? I have to say it's one of the silliest things for a True Rune to represent so far. Mind, it's far from the only silly True Rune; the Dragon Rune seems pretty redundant in a world with both the Beast Rune and Gate Rune, and I don't see why we'd need Moon for special, sparkly vampires when there's Night in charge of the undead already. But how do you go from life and death or the power of the elements to forgiveness? It's like a class reunion where everyone is relatively successful and then one guy comes up and reveals he's cleaning toilets for a living and then he makes everyone else uncomfortable for the entire evening.
The boss dies in three turns, only partly thanks to the lengthy grinding session. Next up, this giant wave! Unfortunately, it too has infinite HP, so we're fucked.
Good thing about this island!
It also has new music.
Each party member needs to be talked to twice.
The first time...
...they won't do much more than groan.
My, it's bright...
The next time...
Wh-Where are we...?
...How is everyone?
...they join the party, and once we have collected all three...
...it's time to assess the situation.
I'm gonna die of thirst... Anyway, let's get under the shade.
We don't have any damn cheese. Shut up.
Anyway, the island is pretty small and there aren't any random enemies (hallefuckinglujah!) so it's pretty easily done to just run around all the different areas. It's kind of a nice looking tropical island.
It is... a deserted island.
Oh yeah: a nice looking deserted tropical island
N-No... No way! I don't want to shrivel up and die in a place like this.
But you know.
It really is a nice looking island.
I mean. There's palmtrees and shit. And no random enemies. Do you have any idea how fucking hard it is to find a place with no random enemies in this part of the world?
You can walk around this island in a day... Who wants to live like that?! Lazlo!
Even the back streets of Razril had random enemies! How did they even get there? Don't people live in those houses?
Then... should we do that...?
So we did!
"And that is the story of how I lived happily ever after on a tropical island with my two girlfriends and pet cat."
So yeah, that was Suikoden IV, a confusing piece of shit game that throws all sorts of plot at you and proceeds to drop all of it and resolve fuckall. Now I just need to load my last save into Suikoden Tactics, so I hope you've all enjoyed the LP and I'll see you next time!