Part 11: A wet blanketWe'll be joining Belcoot at the inn soon, but before that...
...there's another scene by the exit that can be quite easy to miss, since you probably don't feel the need to explore town at this point.
Is that... a dwarf?
Yeah, the hammer he's carrying says "D". For "Dwarf," see?
Guard: You really wanna know?! Only humans are allowed past this point! Vile beasts like you are strictly prohibited!
Oh boy, I don't think I've ever got this much use out of that emoticon.
What?! I'm no "beast"! I'm a blacksmith! I wanna check out the weapons being used at the Sacred Games!
Guard: Silence, vile beast! Get out of here! You're obviously completely clueless, so I'll fill you in! It's perfectly legal to KILL non-humans in this town!
Grr! All right... I'm leaving...
Racism is wrong and bad.
I know how you feel, but forget it. Even if he does get past the guard, another one will just stop him again. And he might kill the dwarf! I feel bad for him, but if he's smart, he'll just go home.
No, it's not legal. Falenan law does not make a distinction between humans and dwarves. But Lord Godwin enforces the law in this town. He hates all non-humans, so he'd turn a blind eye to a murdered dwarf.
Any time now, they'll start talking about final solutions. This really is a bit of a low point - I think the Godwins would have been much more effective characters if they hadn't been quite so slimy. But, then again their biggest rival is... well, Barows.
But enough of the racist shit, let's go have ourselves a nice big meal.
As soon as we get inside, Marina drags us upstairs...
...and lays out a feast for us.
Inn Proprietress: Please make yourselves at home and eat as much as you want! I hope you'll like everything.
I'm sorry, this must be your busiest time, normally.
Inn Proprietress: Please don't worry about that! What prestige our inn will have now that the Prince and Lady Sialeeds are visiting! Besides, Marina was so glad that Belcoot was safe, you couldn't have stopped her cooking if you tried.
What's wrong with being glad one of our most important customers didn't get hurt?!
Inn Proprietress: Nothing at all, dear. Hee hee hee.
Marina, I'm sorry I made you worry.
Oh, that's all right! Don't give it another thought!
O-Okay, everybody! I'll keep the food coming, so don't let me see you stop eating!
The nameless lady follows, somewhat more calmly.
Huh? What do you mean?
You honestly don't know?
Honestly! I have no idea what you're talking about.
Uh-oh... Looks like that girl'll have to try extra hard with this one...
Uh, with a girl so concerned about you, you shouldn't have been so willing to let those thugs go to town on you! Guys like that don't pull any punches. You could've been killed, you know.
I knew I wouldn't be. When I'm up against amateurs, it's easy to make it look like I'm getting hurt without being seriously wounded.
But it still means getting hurt!
There wasn't anything else I could've done. Certain circumstances make it impossible for me to drop out.
Are those "circumstances" the reason you applied for the Sacred Games?
Do you mind if we ask what they are?
Well... Actually, it might be better if you did know. Those thugs called me a "foreigner," but that's not actually true. Take a look at this.
Sadly, they don't actually show us what it looks like.
No, I don't suppose it does. But I couldn't help it. I had to have this one put on to cover up another tattoo.
A-Another tattoo...? Don't tell me... a WHITE tattoo...?!
That's right. I used to be a gladiator in this country. About ten years ago, I escaped and fled to Kanakan. But when I heard the Sacred Games were going to be held again for the first time in sixteen years, I came back.
I want to marry into the royal family and abolish the gladiator system! I know that, thanks to Her Majesty the Queen and His Majesty Ferid, gladiators are treated better now. But I bet if the next Queen were to marry a noble, everything would revert right back to the way it was. I can't let that happen... If at all possible, I want to free all of the gladiators. That's why I have to... I just have to win the Sacred Games!
I think that's the most admirable reason we've seen so far.
The night goes on. All that talking seems to have made him thirsty...
This guy sure is a lightweight when it comes to drinking! Could he really have lived in Kanakan all that time?!
Living in Kanakan, as far as the Suikoden universe is concerned, it kind of like living in the province of Champagne. Most people are more familiar with the booze than the location itself.
He barely even tasted his drink, and he's already out!
I dunno know about "barely tasted," but, yep, he sure is a lightweight, considering his build.
I strongly suspect it's Sialeeds' tolerance that's on the unnatural side. Just thinking about matching her drink for drink would have been enough to put Belcoot under the table.
Should we put him to bed?
Marina seems to have been listening outside the door.
We could ask if she wants help, but...
Okay, tuck him in well.
...we'd probably just be in the way.
That's right! Just leave it to me!
Guess we should all get going, anyway...
Oh, all right, then.
Hee hee hee. Be sure to tell the proprietor and proprietress that downstairs, too!
Don't hurt Belcoot now!
Oh, don't worry about him! I'll take good care of him!
Definitely looked more pleasant than a banquet with a bunch of stuffy nobles.
Before leaving, we can go back in and check on Marina...
...and Belcoot on the bed. Not much to be had up here, though, so we'll head on down.
Oh, poor Marina. It'll break her heart.
All the other guests have left.
Good! I'm glad to hear that!
All that's left is to head out and go back to our quarters.
It's good to know there's nice people in Stormfist, too! (music)
So... whadja think?
Don't want to make Frey look too dumb, now.
Yes, I think he's a good man, too.
Unlike a certain Queen's Knight, he knows how to treat the royal family with courtesy, too.
You started it, auntie.
He's far from perfect, though. He seems a little thick-headed, and he can't hold his liquor!
What do you think? Do you think Belcoot is good enough for Lym to marry?
Let's not get ahead of ourselves here.
Belcoot is old enough to be the Princess' father, isn't he?
That's not so unusual. A 10- or 20-year difference isn't at all that rare in royal or noble marriages.
Still creepy, though.
Well, we don't have to talk about this right now. The first round isn't even over yet!
True, but... I'm still worried about a few things. If Belcoot wins, I wonder what Marina will do...
Huh? Marina? What do you mean?
Now then, I guess we'd better be getting home. I bet Lym is getting a little tired of waiting!
I'll say. It's been hours.
The streets of Stormfist are empty...
...and the market has closed for the night as well. We don't get any scene of us reporting to Lym, though - we cut right to the next day.
The Sacred Games continue as planned.
The generic crowd cheers.
Childerich beats up more dudes-
-much to Alenia's delight.
Belcoot is doing pretty well, too.
It's getting better and better!
Brings back a few memories for some, I'm sure...
And in the end...
...only the two finalists remain.
Referee: Match two of the semifinals!
I don't think I was too surprised at this, even the first time through.
Of course, we know who we are cheering for.
It's actually turning into a rather pleasant little family outing. Lym seems to be doing much better...
...and Sialeeds is having the time of her life!
Tomorrow's match will be something to look forward to.
He sure is! What a fighter!
Come on! Let's celebrate in advance! Let's go break in on Belcoot and have a party!
We probably shouldn't get him all hung over for his fight tomorrow if we're hoping for him to win.
Huh? What a wet blanket.
Georg! What about you?
Hmm... Yeah, it'd probably be better if we stayed near him.
Oh, that's right... If they're going to stop him from winning the championship, today's the last day they have to do it.
And we certainly can't count on the patrol guards... It's settled, then! Let's go break in on Belcoot!
...you're just looking for an excuse to party, aren't you...? But I suppose if that's what it takes to keep someone from taking an axe to Belcoot's face, we'll just have to go along with it.
We'll head out momentarily, but first we'll check around the arena a little.
If you reeeaaaaally wanna buy me something, though, that would be super-nice!
Lym's room is two doors up from Frey's, and of course Miakis is still there, and still, well, Miakis. Wouldn't have her any other way, really.
It still doesn't seem real to me... Tomorrow, either Gizel or Belcoot will be my... fiancé.
I know I can't choose, but which one do you think is best for me, Brother?
In a competition between "creepy" and "extraordinarily creepy"...
...I tend to go with the less creepy.
Really? You met him, didn't you? If you think he's the best for me, then I'm sure he's a good person! Just the fact that he's fighting for himself, rather than getting someone else to do it... Well, it shows he's got more courage than Gizel, that's for sure!
I'm not sure Gizel's problem is courage. It's the fact that he's Gizel.
Across the corridor...
What is it? Ah, so you're going to see Belcoot!
...we have the parents.
Just try to steer clear of trouble, okay? I'm with your mother on this one.
You know, it really isn't princely to wander about so much in public.
Poo on princely.
Both of them also have a line if you talk to them again.
I suppose you'll be safe with Sialeeds and Georg with you. Still, don't stay out too late.
I know, I know. You're big enough to take care of yourself. But still, be careful.
Now that, I can promise.
The knights have a room next door.
I have the highest hopes that Childerich will be the victor tomorrow. If the Princess marries Gizel, Falena can only grow in power and prosperity!
But at what cost?
Of course, everyone is talking about the upcoming bout, but, well, we'd be here all day if I were to show off everything. It's mostly stuff along the lines of this, though. Seems our ex-gladiator is making quite the impression!
So let's finally get our butts over to the inn and meet him.
Inn Proprietress: Oh, it's just terrible! Marina! Marinaaaa!
Marina has been... kidnapped.
Inn Proprietress: I sent her on an errand, and she never came back! And then... And then...!!!
Just a little while ago, somebody pushed a letter under that door... It said that if we wanted her back, I should go alone to the hut in the Western Woods...
Looks like we were too late...
It must be the work of those thugs, huh?
We don't have any proof, but, chances are, yeah.
Those dirty cowards! Too afraid to go after Belcoot directly, so they targeted poor Marina!
I'm so very sorry... This is all my fault...
It isn't your fault. The only ones to blame are those thugs for kidnapping poor, innocent Marina...
Look, we don't have time to point fingers.
I-I guess you're right...
I like Marina. She gave me food. Someone has just made a very dangerous enemy.
No, I won't hear of that! I can't let you go to that kind of trouble! I'll just do what they asked me to do.
No! They really might kill you this time!
That doesn't matter. Marina's life is what's important.
That's the worst way to go about it. Even if you do what they say, there's no guarantee they'll let Marina go.
Do you really think such low-down, dirty scoundrels would have enough integrity to keep a promise?
Then... what are we supposed to do...?
I just remembered something... They said, "hut in the Western Woods." Do you think they're talking about that hut the woodcutters used to use?
Proprietor: I'm sure of it. It's empty now, so it's the perfect place for no-good types like that to gather.
In that case, I have a plan.
Yes. There's more than one path to that hut. There's an animal trail through those woods, too, and it leads to the back of the hut. If we go that way, maybe we can sneak up on them.
Proprietor: R-Really?! Even we didn't know about that...!
I used to come visit a lot back when I was engaged to Gizel.
...auntie, what were you doing with Gizel Godwin in a cabin in the woods...? Actually never mind, I don't want to know and I'm going to go scrub my brain with steel wool now.
Would you quit it with that stupid idea already?!
This is starting to feel familiar.
They've got a hostage. Even if you could sneak up on them, you couldn't do much by yourself.
We want to rescue Marina, too! Please let us help you!
Georg wasn't kidding when he said he does these things for a living, I guess.
Everyone... Thank you so much!
Come on, now! Cut that out! Now that it's settled, let's get going!
Inn Proprietress: Please, Prince... That girl is just like a daughter to us! Please! We're begging you! Please bring her back safe!
Inn Proprietress: Oh...! Hearing you say that, Prince... I feel like maybe everything just might turn out all right... Thank you! Oh, thank you, all of you!
For real this time!
We have some money, so I'll take the opportunity to upgrade everyone's weapons to level three. Belcoot's, just like Shoon's, starts at level 1, although the man himself is level 19 and probably doesn't need the boost.
The kids are still the best thing about Stormfist.
The sharpening left us with cash over, so I'm also going to outfit Frey with a Lightning Rune. The prince is actually not a bad caster - his MAG isn't the greatest, but he has B affinities with all the regular elements, which means a 10% boost.
Actually, since we're on the subject already, let's go over affinities. You can skip this part if you're only in it for the story.
Each element is ranked from E up to A and finally S, and the game kindly tells you exactly what rank each of your characters has with every element on the status screen - none of II or IV's secrecy this time.
Both magic and physical attacks have affinities. The magical ones are Sun, Fire, Lightning, Wind, Water, Earth, Star, Sound, Holy, and Dark. The physical ones are Slash, Thrust, Punch, and Shoot.
An E rank means you can deal no damage with that element whatsoever (even if you can cast a spell, it will deal no damage) and take 50% extra damage when someone uses it on you. D deals -50% damage and takes +20%. C is average and both deals and takes regular damage. B, as I've already mentioned, boosts your output by 10% and reduces damage received by 20%; A boosts damage by 20% and reduces it by 50%; and S boosts damage by 50% and makes you immune to damage from attacks of that type.
Magic affinities vary a lot, but most - though not all - characters have a C in the physical damage types. Either way, physical attributes don't go higher than A or lower than D.
That's enough wall of text for now - I'll go over the runes another time.
It's time to head out.
Guard: No matter what happens, I can't allow you to go through. If you insist, well, I guess I'll have to fight you. And I really don't see that going well for either of us.
Except the guy at the gate is a total moron.
Looks like this one's going to be stubborn. Let's try the other gate.
I have a better idea. Look! The river is right there! All he needs is a tiny little nudge. No one would ever know!
The other gate has a save spot on the other side of it.
Guard: ...Pardon? This is an emergency, you say? Hmm, you can't say what it's all about...? A-All right! I guess I can let you through, seeing as it's an emergency... But please promise me you'll be very, very careful! If anything happened to you, it would be my responsibility!
Unlike your asshole friend who was prepared to physically attack me. I can see you have a long career of not getting pushed in the river ahead of you.
Here we go!
Welcome to the world map. Quick overview: it's a world map! And we have a not terribly helpful minimap in the lower right corner that, at least, tells us the general location of areas we can visit. There's also music which I think is quite nice.
I knew that! I was just testing you.
Before we can make it over there, however, we have some grinding to do. I wouldn't normally care, but, well, LP.
Here, we get our first taste of multiple hits.
There are two varieties of this. First, there's the type we're familiar with from Suikoden II, where the character hits one enemy and then jumps on to hit another...
...and then there's something rather like Suikoden III's Swing or Tactics' Battle Lust skills, where you strike the same enemy repeatedly. (I've slowed this one down a bit because the second hit there is pretty fast.)
Both of these are random, but influenced by the character's speed, which can be improved by the Agility skill. How many attacks you can make against a single target is determined per character - for instance we have Frey and Lyon, who can both land five hits (the highest in the game), Belcoot can deliver three, and Sialeeds and Georg will only ever hit once. This does hurt Georg somewhat, but it's true to his philosophy of "one hit, one kill" and of course he also gets Charge to make up for it.
In rare cases, you may see combinations of these. When that happens, the combo is reset on the second enemy, so characters can break their max combo number if they hit more than one enemy. This is going to be pretty rare, though, at least until we get our stats and skills up a bit more.
Belcoot comes with a Falcon Rune, the first male character in the series to do so. He's sadly kind of shit at it - it does deal triple damage, but unlike previous falcon users he becomes unbalanced after using it. It also reduces his accuracy, but Belcoot is very accurate and shouldn't suffer too much from that. Finally, as you can see from the gif, it looks really boring. Belcoot, thy name is bland.
The blade bunnies drop Counter Orbs reasonably often. These increase your counter rate by 50%, so it would be okay for people like Georg - but by the time he has an open rune slot, we'll have better things to put on him. They're worth money, though, and that's never a bad thing.
But this is the real prize. This is another returning feature from Suikoden III (in the shape of an enemy returning from the first game): the area miniboss. Minibosses are tougher than other encounters in an area, but if you can take them out, they drop larger amounts of money and are virtually guaranteed to leave behind some decent loot. The game plays a little scare chord when the battle begins, so it's always obvious which encounter is the miniboss.
Of course, we have Georg and Belcoot, so this one goes down in two hits. They'll be a little sturdier later on.
The Fur Clothes aren't that great, and we can't use the beef (shouldn't it be pork?) at this point, but the Power Piece is not a bad haul.
I decided to go hunting for more miniboss encounters, but I forgot the stupid things are on a cooldown and only appear about every 30 minutes.
Gave me plenty of time to encounter all these enemies, though! All of them are returning from earlier games.
Well, playing on an emulator does make this easier, since I can mostly just swirl my thumb around the left stick and do other things in another window. You can actually control Suikoden V (and most games in the series) one-handed - the select button opens the menu, and L1 and L2 act as select and cancel. Quite nice for those of us who like a nice cup of tea to go with it, or indeed those of us paying our bills in another window while Frey runs in circles looking for more boars to kill.
Assembling the four Power Pieces makes a Power Orb. This is most closely related to the Warrior Rune from earlier games, but...
...it works a little differently. Warrior Runes would take off half your DEF and add the same amount to your attack power; this one raises attack independent of your DEF. Whether this is good or bad depends on how much DEF and ATK you have in the first place, but most characters will probably appreciate this change.
I'm putting it on Lyon for now, because she and Belcoot are the only one with an open rune slot, and Belcoot is already one-shotting everything. It will give her a nice boost, but in the end, it took well over an hour to get all the pieces. Was it worth it? Certainly not! But at least I've been able to show off the assembling mechanic, so at least that's something.
Next time, we beat up the thugs and rescue the distressed damsel.
Early concepts for Alenia and Galleon. I rather like Galleon's; it's too bad the image is so small.