Part 1: Mythe's Adventure - Part 1Unlimited Saga, Part 1: The Way of the Gun
The votes are in, and Mythe has won. So, without further ado, let's begin!
Mythe is an inventor and blackmsith, which gives him a few special abilities. They are not very useful abilities, generally, for reasons we will cover later on, but he does have them. Mythe's story is generally considered the hardest for a variety of reasons, including the famous final boss, but also because most of his characters are weak or unusual, and difficult to work with -- himself included. But before we get into that, we should see how his story begins.
Mythe lives in Longshank, which is an industrial town. And here you can start to see what I mean about the art: pretty much everything is either hand-painted or rotoscoped, and the entire game has a very unique style to the visuals. Sadly, a lot of the art was designed to be viewed on a standard definition screen, but the sprites are often huge and look great even in a high-res emulator.
The main landmark of Longshank is Fugar's Mansion, which is where our story begins.
This is truly exquisite. Only Mr. Fulgar can select such wine!
Indeed! Only Mr. Fulgar can have his tables and curtains arranged with such perfection.
People who usually speak of Fulgar like a pest of the town kiss up to him at times like this. Well, I guess I'm one of them.
Every story has some kind of narrator or voice-over, though the context differs. In Mythe's story it's usually just him telling us his thoughts, but in Laura's story you get to hear what Henri, the boy she's in charge of protecting, thinks about her. Which is neat, I suppose. Armic usually just says "I don't understand," because he is an idiot, and so on. Apart from occasional battle quotes, that's mostly the only time you get voice acting in this game. For Romancing SaGa Minstrel Song they did the opposite and had voice acting for even minor pieces of dialog... and then didn't let you skip them!
teache Yeah, well, I usually wouldn't. But I hear he's got something interesting this time, so here I am.
It must be another of those "exquisite selections."
Now, now. That's why he's our best customer. Treat him well.
Yes, sir. I shall interact with him in a manner worthy of my master.
In the Unlimited Saga setting, the world is full of weird technological relics and ruins from ages ago. While every character's story involves a relic from the past, at least to some degree, Mythe and his teacher are some of the few people trying to figure out how they work and how to repair them. Fulgar collects them, and so is mostly only involved in Mythe's plot, though Ventus also meets him briefly due to his carrier job. For every other character, Fulgar's Mansion is on the city's location list, but can never be visited outside of one very brief sidequest.
Indeed. What will you be showing us today?
We hope this won't be as disappointing as usual, Mr. Fulgar.
Ha-ha! Today's main item is so enticing, it should surprise even you two. By all means, please have a look at my new collection!
The visiting rich people are very impressed, but Mythe is not. This is what voiceover text looks like, by the way.
Nothing but junk. Fulgar must be talking about that thing covered with the white cloth.
I now present tonight's main attraction!
Is it a photograph? I've never seen such a vivid photo in my life. Mythe, let's get a closer look.
Hair and eyes the color of gleaming silver. A hue I'd never seen before. My body was hot. I still didn't understand what had happened to me. I couldn't look away from her. I just stood there frozen, gaping like an awestruck fool.
What do you think? One seldom sees anything this exquisite...
Mythe is immediately obsessed with the girl in the picture, even though his mentor is more interested in how a photograph could even exist.
This photo appears to be quite new. It is too vivid for it to be from the Golden Age. If so, then how can we determine who created this image? Though we can duplicate photos, we can't create one.
Who could this girl be?
How did you come by this photo?
From a girl called Tiffon. She brings me interesting things now and then.
Tiffon? Haven't heard that name. I doubt she's an inventor.
Ever since then, I've been having dreams of her. Even when I'm awake, she's all I can think about. This has never happened to me before. Could I be in love? In love? Me? A guy who's happy with any woman who shows him a good time? In love?
So, that's our adventure hook: Mythe needs to find a girl he saw a picture of once. He's basically Alexander from King's Quest 6.
Regardless, now we've finally got control, so let's talk about how Unlimited Saga works.
We are in Longshank, at the Inn. Every town has, at minimum, an Inn and a Carrier's Guild. Sometimes they will have other features, like a blacksmith or a magic shop, or even a unique story location. For example, Longshank has Mythe's own blacksmith, Mythe Works:
And also, Fugar's Mansion, "a place unknown to the poor."
At the time, people were not fans of this type of menu-based city, though nowadays they're a lot more common -- particularly in handheld games -- so people maybe would be more accepting of it today. In this case, however, it's apparently meant to imitate the oldschool 80s RPG towns, like you would see in Wizardry or Phantasie.
What? You've never heard of Phantasie? Well, Japan has. Phantasie, and its sci-fi followup Star Command, had dungeons which looked like this:
And if you have played Unlimited Saga, that should look pretty familiar. The series is essentially forgotten here in the West, but in Japan it was popular enough to get a fourth installment exclusive to Japan. And not a Wizardry-style licensed spinoff, either. The developers actually were paid to design and program a game for Japanese audiences. Kawazu, who designs every SaGa game, is a huge fan of early CRPGs, and it's particularly clear in Unlimited Saga.
Anyway, we could also choose to leave town, but we don't have any other cities unlocked yet, so there's nowhere to go. Mythe also doesn't know where to find Tiffon, so we can't head off on the story quest yet. Instead, we need to do what anyone playing an old RPG would do: check for rumors at the inn.
Usually, people in the Inn don't have anything interesting to say. However, they may rarely give you information that unlocks a sidequest or even leads to a new party member! They may also give you background on the world, which is nice.
In this case, talking to Lynda unlocks the first of Mythe's story Adventures: To The Fortuneteller, Part 1. You can leave on a quest from the Inn by selecting Adventures, which lists any quest that departs from the city you're in.
We could leave right now, either to find Sapphire or on the Cemetery sidequest, but we're far too weak for the latter and I want to do some shopping first. Plus, we should probably take a look at our character!
Here's what Mythe is equipped with at the start of his adventure. As you can see, Mythe likes to use guns. That doesn't sound special, but it is actually impossible to get a gun unless a character you've got in your party had one to begin with. Remember, working relics and machines are rare and valuable, and pretty much everyone just uses medieval weapons or magic. Mythe has two guns!
If we were playing as Laura, we wouldn't get one until Michelle, who starts with one, joined our party. Some scenarios will never have one appear at all.
The rest of his equipment is nothing special. You can check the effects of equipment by pressing left or right on the dpad to switch between screens, but there's nothing interesting to see here, effects-wise. What is important is that he also has some stuff in his inventory, including a helmet which we can have him wear, and also that he has an armlet made of meteorite. We can, if we're lucky, make a fair amount of money using that, as you'll see. For now, I took one of his guns off (there's literally no point to having two equipped at once) and replaced his meteorite armlet with a bestial armlet he had in his inventory. This one is special, since it's enchanted to let him cast Boulder, an earth-element attack spell, even though he doesn't know any earth magic. You can buy enchanted items from magic shops, and they're useful, but they can't be repaired and usually have low durability, so they're not ideal.
Before I do some blacksmithing, let's check Mythe's skills. Getting skills is very weird, but we'll cover that later.
Weaponsmith and Accessory Smith are unique skills that only Mythe can obtain. Their level determines what he's able to work on in Mythe Works, and so they can be useful before you start opening up different cities and smithies to visit. Unfortunately, after a while they don't do a whole lot and they don't help at all in battle or in quests, so we'll replace them later. Gun Arts makes it easier to land hits with a gun, but does not increase the damage dealt by them -- that's a fixed value, per SaGa tradition. And Maharaja is, well, you can see what it is. It lets you pay more for things, if you want. Why would you want to do that? Well, as you spend money in shops, the rarity of the items they sell increases. If you're playing as Armic and need new items to appear for story progression, it's pretty useful. In theory, Mythe can also use it, since he can actually run out of quests and, thus, can run out of things to buy, so he'd want to make sure the rare items needed for the endgame appear.
But no, it's mostly as bad and useless as it sounds. We'll get rid of that, too.
One problem with Mythe is that he has no useful skills for actually exploring a dungeon! He can't pick locks, he can't navigate, he can't swim. We can maybe give him those skills, but perhaps not. We'll see.
Every Inn has a shop. The more cities you can visit, the more shops you can check. There's some things to look out for early on. If you see anything made of mullock, buy it immediately and keep it safe. Wood is also useful, particularly copse. These materials become much rarer as the shops replace them with stuff like steel and iron, but they're useful for crafting and are very cheap so you might as well grab them when you can. Sadly, this Inn has no mullock or wood, but it does have some scale weapons, which I buy.
You can buy with money or barter with items. Some shops only work through trade. We've got 10,000kr, though, so we can afford this stuff. I also buy some ravenite, and one of the stone weapons because it's made of quartz and pretty much anything that is hard or durable can be used for repairing stuff. Guns need to be repaired a lot!
So. Blacksmithing. Each smithy can make specific things, and Mythe's shop, with his current skills, can only handle Daggers, Swords, and Accessories. He cannot even repair his own gun, and in fact until we get to Wanda we won't be able to fix them at all. Whatever.
If you combine something made of meteorite with a scale there's a chance of getting meteoric iron. With basic scales it's about %15, but since they were cheap to buy and it won't hurt the armlet if I fail, I decided to try it and got lucky on the first try! An armlet made of meteoric iron sells for about 15k. Ironically, being this lucky meant I didn't need to buy anything, because I had the other scale weapon left. I forged the fang armlet Mythe started with and the scale sword to make a fang sword. Since these materials are both really light, I got this:
That <Deflect> means it has a chance to block any physical attack, as long as you've got it equipped. High-end shields can deflect all sorts of things, including elemental attacks or magic, but for the moment this is better than any shield I could possibly buy. Mythe is awful with swords, so he'll never use it, but since you only need one gun equipped at a time it can sit in his off-hand and protect him for, essentially, the entire game.
I also use the ravenite to make an armlet that has Water Arts. Any armlet made with Ravenite will do this. Mythe starts the game knowing Purify, which is a healing spell, and this will let him cast it. I know it seems silly to do all this before we leave, but I want Mythe to do magic and, in SaGa, you get better at things by doing them.
In Unlimited Saga, characters often start with a spell or two already, and can learn more, but you need to give them some equipment with the right attribute to let them access their spells. Purify is a water-elemental spell, so I made an armlet with Water Arts on it. Casting magic using it will use up durability, but it can be repaired like any weapon. It's possible he won't need to cast it any time soon because his early battles are very simple, but I had the items available so I figured it was worth doing.
So now, it's off to find Sapphire. To The Fortuneteller!
Here's what it looks like when you're in the field. They went with a board game theme, so our character is represented by a miniature, and we move directly between rooms. Each move counts as a turn, and sidequests will always have a turn limit. This is a story quest, though, so we can take all the time we want.
You move by tilting the right stick towards a location. If it's red, like this, that means there's enemies there.
Yellow means there are enemies, but very few or relatively weak. Blue means safe. Enemies move when you do, though, so they could move away or, alternatively, a safe spot could fill up with enemies between turns. And even if there are enemies, they may choose not to attack you, or you may use skills which prevent combat. We don't have any of those, though, and the enemy here is an insect so it's unlikely to leave us alone.
Time for combat!
Mythe is fighting this terrifying insect!
If you've played a SaGa game you'll know what HP and LP are, but in case you don't an explanation is probably needed. HP is sort of like the character's stamina or constitution. It refills between fights and, in most of the series, losing all of it isn't fatal. In Unlimited Saga, it also is used to pay for attacks, with more damaging attacks or heavier weapon types usually costing more. Mythe only has 90 HP right now, but it'll increase over the course of the game. His 13 LP maximum, however, will never increase.
LP is "Life Points," and it's what you really want to protect. If it's reduced to 0 then the character is dead, and will not come back until you return to town. There is no way to restore LP during a quest, either. Having high HP helps prevent LP damage, so there's still a reason to cast healing spells and to build up your character's HP maximum, or to put on armor that reduces damage. If this doesn't make sense, feel free to ask about it in the thread! All of this stuff is common to the SaGa series generally, so if you're interested in playing one of the less arcane ones it's still nice to understand how it works. However, every enemy we face here has only 1 LP, and Mythe has a gun, and no matter what he does he'll kill them if he hits them with it. So I can't show this off properly at this time.
Still, the fact you can't fully heal a character in a quest is part of why we couldn't go on the Cemetery quest right now: with only one character and only 13 LP to work with, the boss of the quest would probably win through sheer numbers alone.
There's more to know about combat, like damage types and stuff, and why LP is important, but that can wait. Let's kill this insect!
You input 5 commands every turn. We've only got Mythe so he gets all five. He'll shoot his gun and also cast boulder from his armlet, which should easily kill it.
The insect attacks first, and even manages to deal some LP damage due to how weak and terrible Mythe is right now. But this quest has no boss, so it's not a big deal. Now it's Mythe's turn.
We can choose any of the five commands we entered, and Mythe will perform them right away. You can use this to, for example, preemptively put in a healing spell and then cast it after an enemy has attacked, or for various other things we'll talk about once we have other party members. You can also choose HOLD, which tries to start a combo. Each additional HOLD makes the combo longer until finally, someone chooses GO!!! and then it's performed. There's a lot of intricate rules that say whether a combo is powerful but they don't matter, nobody in the world cares about them, all that matters is combos break the damage limit and the more people in them the better. However, enemies can join the combo as well, and that'll boost their damage as well as yours, which is bad. Alternatively, you can break into their combos, and your damage will increase as a result! Attacks which are slow, like swinging an axe or casting an attack spell, are harder to combo, because the enemy will probably act before someone else on your team has a turn. Daggers are quick, and so on. There's exact numbers but who cares, it's pretty intuitive generally and things you would think are slow probably will be.
But for the moment, we've got five attacks and the enemy is out of moves, so we can just combo everything together at once! This is a stupid thing to do considering the circumstances, but it'll make it easier to explain things.
Oh hey look it's the thing everyone hates about Unlimited Saga!
When you pick an attack, the outcome is determined by a reel. For magic the reel is almost meaningless because it's a minor damage boost, at best, so if you HATE REELS then you can just cast magic all the time and be OK. For most weapons, the reel determines whether you do a special attack, and which one. For guns, it's whether or not you hit them at all, and if so how much damage will result. This is always the same number, even if it's in a combo, and at this point literally any HIT result will kill an enemy, so comboing guns and burning all their durability for no reason is stupid. Also, the longer the combo, the more confusing the reels are (look at that, it's madness) so guns, which do no damage at all on a bad result, are also bad for combos in another way. But there's a couple things to note. First of all, reels in the background are slower and let you see the entire reel, meaning if you start a combo with something it's very easy to land on any result you want out of it. Second of all, the reels are not random; a Gun Lv1 reel always has those same panels in that same position. High level skill panels make it pretty easy to do the high level attacks and it's pretty easy, by the end, to just do the best axe attack over and over and kill damn near anything with it. Because there's so many reels, a long combo is harder to manage, but you can probably guarantee at least one attack will be really good and, with the damage boost, will do a ton of damage too.
White numbers are HP damage; red is LP. This poor insect has like, 50hp and 1 LP. It was annihilated. Every enemy we fight here dies the same way, more or less.
Meanwhile, doing all those attacks like an idiot has used up a lot of Mythe's HP.
If you press the left or right stick, you can rest a turn and everyone will heal. How much depends on their HP Recovery statistic, etc etc, whatever. Again, sidequests have a turn limit, so in those you have to worry about whether to waste a turn when you could heal up in battle instead and save time. We've got infinite turns so Mythe just sits in a field for a while and heals up. No worries.
In adventure maps, you can do various things. You can search for treasure, though Mythe can't because he lacks the skill, and as such they didn't put any in his quest. It's just a straight line, with a couple wandering monsters who pose no real threat. Here's a critter getting blocked by the sword I made:
If an attack is blocked, then all damage from the attack is immediately negated. It's about a 1 in 3 chance for Deflect to trigger, and since nothing here can do anything but physicals this means there's a 33% chance of not being hit. You can build up a guy to evade attacks and also give them a sword and they will be very hard to kill. Now, if someone has the shield skill, then even early shields become very powerful and effective, but otherwise I recommend giving everyone a sword. Even wizards.
I was hoping for Mythe to improve his magic abilities, so I had him use boulder a lot. He doesn't have a good earth skill so it's not very effective, but lacking any other attack spell it's the only way. Fortunately everything here is pretty weak and they go down in one hit regardless. Helpfully, you can actually view any character's stat growth, so here's Mythe's:
As you can see, he's got really good water and fire numbers. Purify, the basic healing spell, is a water spell and high water values will let him heal more with each casting. The sword is SKILL, which governs daggers, bows, and evasion. 3 is middle of the road, so he's pretty average at that and bad at almost everything else that matters. Guns don't scale off of any stat so one thing you can do with him is make him a spell-caster and let him use the gun as backup, which is probably what I'm going to do in this LP.
To compare, Judy has, like, a 5 in magic and high values in every element. Armic has similar numbers but, for other reasons, can be an incredibly powerful martial artist who suplexes giant monsters. Mythe is by far the weakest protagonist. And speaking of statistics, let's finish this quest and improve Mythe's.
This quest was pretty basic and uninteresting, because the player essentially can't have any skills yet and they only have one party member. Later dungeons will be covered in greater depth, I promise.
Hey, it's that other thing everyone hates!
So, the skills and stats your character has are based on the famous Unlimited Saga skill grid, seen here:
In the lower left is Mythe's Guns Lv1 hex. Weaponsmith is why he could make stuff in his forge at all; the other tools thing is Accessory Smith and let him forge the armlet. Maharaja in the middle there, being useless but still contributing stats overall, so it can stay for now.
The way this works is that, after a quest, you get assigned four new skills, based on your actions during the mission. Mythe did martial arts and magic, mostly, so he got a familiar (casts magic without using durability) and a kick panel as a result. I didn't do anything to really earn locksmith or maharaja, but if you didn't do enough to earn any attack skills it generally gives you stuff like that instead. Yes, this does mean that skill gains are, partly, based on random chance.
Anyway, you pick one and put it on the grid, either in a blank spot or replacing one of the old ones, and there you go. If you found a magic tablet it'll be up in the top row and you can give that to a character instead, and it works basically the same way as a skill panel. However, you cannot choose to skip this, which means it's good to have a spot on your build that you don't care about, to dump stuff in. Panels increase the stats they are next to on the grid, so once you've got your characters going the easiest thing is to just pick one you don't care about and put every bad panel there. For example, a pure physical character will literally never use his or her magic stat, so that's an easy place to ditch stuff. Depending on the panel, it'll raise different things by different amounts, too; a physical panel next to strength will raise it more than a familiar would, for example. It gets more complex when you want to use magic, since you need to balance survivability from stats with raising the character's elements, too! Also, if you put panels with the same symbol next to eachother or in a line, you get a bonus. This is all in the manual, but people never read those.
I don't really need a familiar for Mythe right now, since I can have him cast magic directly from his armlet. Maharaja is stupid, as has been established. Honestly, lockpicking would have probably been a good choice, but I decided to put the KICK Lv2 in the upper right to boost Mythe's skill. He doesn't use it to attack, but it does raise evasion too and that's always useful. Plus, there is a very nice kick skill which maybe he'll pick up somehow; I could get lucky. Because learning attacks is also based on chance, as you'll see later on. In the meantime, Mythe stops in Zomar, the halfway point between Longshank and his destination.
Once you visit a town, or sometimes once someone tells you about it, you can visit there via the world map at any time. We can go back to Longshank and buy some items, or continue the journey from here. Each city has its own sidequests which can only be started from there. We'll finish up the trip next time, and get our first party member as well! It's exciting! Also, hopefully less explanation. So stay tuned.