Part 74: CH69: All Optional Dungeons Look Alike To MeCH69: All Optional Dungeons Look Alike To Me
: It'd been a couple months since the end their adventures with Fodra. Sophie had learned how to revert to her original form, but not how to fight in her new one yet - the longer legs kept throwing her off.
: I know exactly what you mean. It's been thousands of years and being a tiny bit taller throws off all my moves. I feel so useless.
: Anyway, Asbel had dropped Lambda and the Fodra core he'd grabbed back off at Fodra. Lambda wanted some time alone I guess. They figured since they had gotten together for that, they'd go see how the core of Ephinea was doing as well. The answer was fine by the way.
So the save we make after watching the ending of the future arc has a normal-arc icon, and a location. Usually clear data saves don't have a location. What happens when we load it?
Skit: Errand Boys
: It must be important if she reached you all the way down here.
: Lemme see... Boop beep beep boop! Aaaand...I was wrong. It's from Fourier.
: Anything about Lambda?
: Nope, wrong again!
: Apparently Frederic's been borrowing her lapcomp machine since forever and it sounds like she wants it back.
: C'mon, we're busy! Have her get it herself.
: She says she's busy in her lab. Also, we can get to Lhant much faster in the shuttle.
: Sounds like we don't have a choice. Let's go find Frederic and take it back.
: ...If you insist.
: They'd arrived at Asbel's house to pick up the lapcomp...
: Ah, Frederic. Perfect timing.
: Did my sister leave a machine called a "lapcomp" with you? Cause I think she wants it back.
: Er.. yes. Your sister was kind enough to let me borrow it. I...will b-bring it down right away. Please just...wait there.
: Um, Pascal? What's a lapcomp?
: Some sorta gizmo my sister cooked up. I dunno what it does.
: It's odd to think that Frederic would need to borrow a machine from Fourier.
: What is it, Sophie? Do you know something?
: No, look! It's the sky!
: The sky...?
: What the hell?!
: Those people just fell out of the sky!
: We have to help them.
: Ohmigosh, they're humanoids! I gotta check this out!
: Everyone, get back!
: Run for your lives!
Weaker than US Lite beer.
: Those were the same type of humanoids we saw on Fodra.
: Is it possible they fell all that way?
: Considering the mass of the planet and the gravitational constant... Yeah, I think that's pretty much impossible.
:So where did they come from?
: What? What do you see?!
: No way!
: Stop clowning around, Frederic!
: ...He can fly?
: Be serious, you two! We're gonna get you down, Frederic! Just hold on!
: Hey, check out that thing he's holding!
It must be the lapcomp my sister was talking about! Hey! Throw me the lapcomp!
: I...I cannot!
Oh, dear me! Oh my stars and garters!
: Booo! Come on, just give it back already!
: Come on, guys! Let's get to the roof and see if we can help!
: Oh no!
: T-Too late! I think I'm going to...
: Frederic became a star.
: I don't understand! What could have pulled him into the sky?
: It must be Foselos!
: The big ring that surrounds Ephinea.
: But why? And more importantly, how do we get there?
: Why not just take the shuttle?
: Right! Let's get going.
: Lapcomp, here we come!
: Hold on, Grandpa!
A place called the "Zhonecage" is added to the world map.
: They found a platform of some kind that seemed to be where he'd been dragged to.
: Maybe we go in through there?
: Hold on! We should think this through!
: Aw, nuts. Nothing. Maybe I was wrong.
: Asbel, what's this?
: I'm not sure.
: Let me take a look.
: Pascal? May we borrow you for a moment?
: What is it, Pascal? Say something!
: Wh-What's going on?
: So you have come this far.
: Something's wrong with Pascal!
: Sophie, get back!
: This facility is called the "Zhonecage."
It was constructed by the Amarcians.
: The Zhonecage...
: I am speaking to you through Pascal's communicator.
I hacked into it with the lapcomp.
: Somehow this gave her the ability to control Pascal's actions.
: Who are you? And what have you done with Pascal?
: I am Frederic.
: What? That's impossible!
: I told you, I hacked into-
: I don't care if you're hacking or packing or...or what! Let her go this instant!
: Where are you? Show yourself! You have no right to impersonate Frederic!
: Hey, guys. Hold on a second. He said something about the lapcomp, right?
: Thank you, Lord Asbel!
: Very well. We will trust you...for now! Why have you chosen to contact us in this way, Frederic?
: Do you see the stand in front of you? Please place an Apple Gel there.
: Here, Asbel. I have one.
: It opened!
I assume we go through here now, Frederic?
: Yes, go through the portal and... Oh no! They have found me! I must hide!
: What's wrong, Frederic?
: It can't be... No! S-Stay away from me!
: Frederic? What's wrong?!
: Grandpa! Oh no!
: Is he...dead?
: Come on! Talk to us!
: ...Muh? Huh? Oh, hey, what...
: Is that you, Pascal?
: Huh? What do you mean?
: Don't you remember?
: Remember what?
: We have no time for this! Let's go save Grandpa!
: Right. Let's go!
Dungeon Video 1
Welcome to the Zhonecage, the optional super-dungeon of Tales of Graces. You will note the "Enemy Strength" counter in the upper right, that goes up 1% every few seconds. It starts for each layer at 125%, and ranges from 100% to 200%. This number is a direct multiplier on enemy stats.
This is Cheria's floor, so it drops unique items for her and a chance at her ultimate weapon orb, except we have her ultimate weapon already sooo...
Rooms sometimes have pillars of liquid in them. You can use the yellow ones to drain the Enemy Strength gauge by 25 percentage points, and blue ones to randomly summon a treasure, monster, or shopkeeper.
The primary enemies here are duplicates of kid Asbel, Hubert, and Richard, which are notable for their absurd defense values.
On Chaos Difficulty, the biggest optional superboss in the entire game has 3600 P Def and 4200 C Def. Li'l Asbel? there has 3390 P Def, and a motherfucking whopping 5390 C. Def. Li'l Richard? has 5390 P Def, and 3390 C Def. Li'l Hubert? has 4390 for both, making him harder to damage than the final ultimate secret boss. The boss does have over 100x as much hp I'll admit, but it's somewhere between triple and double the level of these guys. We're about 10 levels higher than we "should" be for this part, thanks to the future arc.
: They found Frederic, but that didn't solve things.
: Frederic, are you okay?!
: What happened to you?
: And what is this Zhonecage?
: I don't like having so many unanswered questions.
: You're right. We need some answers. But maybe we should hold off until we're out of here.
: No, wait. There's something you must know.
: What is it?
: Hmm... Where to begin? Two hundred years ago, the world faced a crisis the likes of which had never been seen.
: What happened?
: The Zhonecage Satellite Defense System spun out of control. When this happened, the entity known as Solomus was superactivated!
: ...What the hell is he talking about?
: Frederic, are you certain about this?
: C-Captain, you actually understand what he's saying?!
: Hmph! Grow up, Asbel.
: The captain is exhibiting symptoms of an eleth high. It will likely begin manifesting in the rest of us soon. My apologies. Please, what happened to this Solomus?
: Solomus called nine warriors from the surface and formed a fighting force called the Terma Ten, with Solomus as the tenth member. Even as we speak, they are attempting to destroy the world!
: Not all of this is strictly true, as we'll see shortly.
: Uh, Frederic...? How do you know all this?
: I conducted my own investigation as soon as I was brought here.
: Way to go, Gramps!
: Wow, that is impressive.
: Good, good. You catch on fast, Asbel.
: Lord Asbel, I must ask a favor of you. ...You must fight me!
: What?! Have you lost your mind?
: Due to my carelessness, Solomus is now in possession of the lapcomp.
: Oh, crap! My sister's gonna kill me!
: I am so sorry. There is a large amount of material on there which must never be seen by anyone! It must be retrieved, no matter the cost!
: Yeah, okay. But I still don't understand why we have to fight you!
: I was chosen as one of the Terma Ten! And to reach Solomus, you must defeat all the other members of the organization. If you do not, I will never truly be free of this place.
: How could this have happened?
: I don't want to fight Frederic...
: This is indeed a bitter blow.
: Understood. I apologize, Frederic. Now...prepare yourself!
: Frederic's already formidable fighting skills had been enhanced by Foselos.
: Since when did Frederic have formidable fighting skills?
: I'll cover that later.
Frederic does sword moves with his cane, this one is Sword Rain.
He's got a variant of Sonic Thrust where he thrusts once, phases through you,...
...then thrusts from the other direction.
Since the Zhonecage technically takes place before the future arc would (even though it doesn't necessarily make sense that way) if you hit Asbel's Accel Mystic Arte, they recorded a separate line for that that doesn't reference Lambda being his bro.
He's got some sort of sword laser there. Except he's not using a sword, so it's just a cane laser.
His Demon Fang is a little different from ours.
Some kind of dive attack.
Oh, and a Mystic Arte.
Not reduced by 50%.
As noted by KillerDan, the glyph there is from Akuma's Raging Demon super in Street Fighter.
: The gate to the next area... should be open. That is...all I know.
: It's fine, Frederic. Just lie still.
: Do not fret, young masters. Death has no hold here in the Zhonecage. I believe this is due to some property of this area and its connection to powerful eleth.
: The Ancient Amarcians built this area as a perfect training arena.
: Oh, thank goodness!
: Yes, that's quite the relief.
: This is simply that kind of place.
(What kind of place is "that kind of place?")
: Eleth holds many mysteries...
: Okay, enough with the blah blah blah! Let's go back to the entrance and look for more Terma Ten members!
This is a "Ribbon" that Cheria can wear. If you put it on, you get a skit. Also, we get the Apple Gel back since we won.
Skit: Accessorizing with Cheria
: Yes! It's very cute, Cheria.
: Thanks, Sophie. Maybe I should show it to Asbel.
: Show me what?
: Ah, perfect timing! Look at this, Asbel! ...Pretty cute, right?
: So what do you think?
: Yeah, it's nice. It's a really good choice considering the...um...climate around here.
: The...climate? Uh, well, at least you liked it! Thanks!
: Are you happy, Cheria?
: Of course! I think Asbel really liked it. ...Wait, Captain! Look at this!
: Did you...cut your hair?
: No, I didn't cut it!
: ...Strange. Asbel just told me that you cut your hair. Why would he lie?
: Argh, that jerk! He didn't even notice my ribbon! He thought I was talking about a haircut! Un-believable!
: It's okay. Keep trying.
: Tell it to Asbel!
: Even after they got married (shortly after Sophie learned to split me off, so that we could keep both bride and groom from getting cold feet) they had trouble with that sort of thing.
Dungeon Video 2
Each level requires a more expensive item. Apple Gels won't cut it for this one.
: They'd brought Richard along for this, he figured he could provide them with some extra firepower.
So you see Richard on the far right? In the PS3 version, there are items in the future arc that allow characters to "wear" other characters like a costume. The character contributing the body provides the stats and titles, but the imitated character provides the moves and skills. So even though we don't technically have Richard we can dress Malik up as him and it works out ok. Anyway, this is Hubert's level and has royal soldiers as enemies for some reason (that should be for Asbel's level IMO, Hubert wasn't in the party when we fought those).
: It didn't seem possible.
: It's been a while, Asbel Lhant!
: Asbel? Who is this?
: Archduke Cedric. ...Richard's uncle. But this is impossible! I watched you die!
: Richard was too surprised to say anything.
: But the heavens saved me! I was not abandoned- ned-ned-ned-ned-ned-ned!
: Something's wrong with him!
: I'll never forgive you! I will k-k-k-k-kill you! I-I-I-I-I-I-I am more powerful than ever!
I... don't think he actually has any new moves.
: P-Please... H-Help me... It hurts...so much... Gaaa-aa-aa-aa-aa-aa!
: This is...
: We should end this right now!
: Our opponent is in tears. We must show him mercy.
: Those are...tears?
: Yes, I believe so.
: You have a soft heart. But I like that in a man.
: (Though...it looks like oil to me...)
: And if Frederic is right, he'll just come back even if we kill him.
: Let's move on to the next Terma Ten member.
: It hurts...so much...
: Richard was ok with this outcome I guess. He just glared the whole time.
: I am fairly certain that was impossible.
: But, we just saw it.
: Asbel, did you see what...
: ...what I did with Cedric's body?
: No, I had my eyes shut after you took out the saw.
: Anyway, there's no way anybody could be put back together after that.
: I don't know, you'd be surprised. Was the head intact?
: Aside from being covered in tar, yes.
: Yup, that'll do it.
We get another unique item, this one for Hubert.
Skit: Accessorizing with Hubert
: You noticed?
: New glasses, right? They look good on you.
: That you think so is a true testament to your refined fashion sense.
: Huh? But those glasses are so last year!
: I know. That's what makes them such a good fit for Hubert.
Ok, here's another thing about this dungeon. Each of the bosses here has two sets of dialog, one for the first time you beat them, then another for subsequent times. Also you can see me doing fights with a slightly different party.
Refight Video: Frederic and Cedric 2.0.
: I don't understand, Frederic. If you are this strong, how were you unable to save our father?
: When Lord Aston passed away before my eyes, I...I could not bear it. So I began training in the art of combat, so that I would never have to witness such a thing again.
: That must've been some training.
: I'm sorry, Frederic. I wasn't trying to blame you.
: It's all right, young master. I share at least some blame in this.
: You have grown so much...
: Please tell us. Who did this to your body?!
:After you almost killed me, I escaped to the Barona Catacombs. I wandered there, lost and alone, consumed by madness and yearning for revenge. When I finally emerged at the shore, a beautiful light enveloped me and I...lost consciousness. When I came to, I found myself inside this inhuman body. And now, Asbel Lhant, we meet again!
It hurts...so much...
: He can't possibly have walked.
: I asked Psi about this. Apparently, transferring one's consciousness to a humanoid, like Emeraude did, can cause hallucinations.
: So we can't trust what he says.
: Well, I doubt you could do that with him anyway.
: It seems Cedric may make it to his trial after all, if we can get him out of here.
: Don't worry, I'm on the job. As soon as Solomus drops we can deactivate the whole thing.
Dungeon Video 3
So the next area is Crystal themed, and in addition to crystal enemies, gives us the crystals that we use to turn our weapons into slightly different weapons. I'm pretty sure I explained that back in the big dualizing explanation.
: The third Terma Ten member was... different.
: Who...Who are you?
: My name is Amber Hearts. Were you brought here as well?
: Not exactly.
: Oh! Excuse me! I haven't eaten anything since I came here.
: You must be starving. Can we get you something to eat?
: You seem awfully...nice.
: You say that like it's strange, Cheria.
: I can really have whatever I want?!
: Um...sure, I suppose.
: Do you have cucumbers? I have plenty of miso, but what I really need are cucumbers!
: Um...no, sorry. I don't think we have that.
: What about flying squid?!
: ...No, we don't have that, either.
Well, I suppose that's not your fault.
: So what are you doing here?
: I lost a memento of someone important to me while I was in a Spir Maze. I was looking and looking for it, when suddenly a giant light shined! ...Then I found myself here.
: A memento?
: Yes. I was going to return as soon as I found it, but...
: Asbel, shouldn't we...you know? Take care of business?
: I know, I know! See, we're trying to meet someone called Solomus, and so...
: Oh, I see! That means you have to fight me! Okay, then! Here I come!
So Amber Hearts is from Tales of Hearts, and is our second cameo character.
Mostly she's got long combos with her flaming baton.
And of course she has a Mystic Arte.
Reminder that that's reduced by 50%.
But Asbel does not die because I got the timing on his Accel just right. There's a split second where you can slam the Accel button after your HP hits zero that can save you. A certain trick relies on this, but I'll show it later.
She does in fact have a ranged attack.
And another one, Crimson Disk.
She also starts jump-kicking. After watching an Artes Exhibition for her, I think this is Rising Pheonix.
Ultimately I have a complaint about the fight: she didn't use any of the wind or light spells you see here. Ray is one of my favorite Tales spells, so I kind of miss it.
: Wow! You're pretty strong!
: That's another one down.
: Yeah, I guess.
: Okay, then let's head to the next!
: So long!
If someone could tell me what those conditions are, that'd be lovely.
: Oh! You came to see me again!
: Sooo...where are you from, Amber?
: Hmm? Why do you ask?
: N-No reason! I've just... Well, I've uh, never seen clothes like that before.
: A friend and I were fighting a battle before I was brought here.
: Oh, I see... So, you have a friend...
: We need to fight again, right? Let's go!
: Phew! Now I'm really hungry...
Anyway, I cut one line that referenced this taking place while Lambda is about to eat the core, which doesn't quite make sense. In Graces f, level wise you'd go Main -> Future Arc -> Zhonecage, but the Zhonecage was originally in the Future-Arc-less Wii version so the timeline goes Main -> Zhonecage (optional) -> Future. So I'm exercising my prerogative as a Narrative LPer to mess with things a little.
Anyway, I was going to have a vote on the party for the next three levels, but instead I realized that you might stick me with a Pascal/Sophie/Cheria/Richard party that'd get torn to shreds unless I ground to 150. So instead I'll let you vote for one character that I'll have to use on the each of next 3 floors. Sophie and Cheria aren't going to be in the poll because I absolutely will use them.
These will close 24 hours from this post.