The Let's Play Archive


by The Dark Id

Part 81: Episode LXXVIII: Maria Balthasar and the Boringest Goddamn Dungeon Ever

Episode LXXVIII: Maria Balthasar and the Boringest Goddamn Dungeon Ever

Welp, we’ve swapped out a whip wielding pretty boy for an under-aged blonde girl named Maria... Where have I heard this scenario before...?

Due to the high alert, we cannot return to Aphel Aura until this whole sneak attack is dealt with. But, a thrifty Chu-chu has taken it upon himself to combine the Item, Gear, and Weapons shops and offers all the services of ‘em before we head off. Protip: Bring a shit load of Omegasols (full HP/EP heal outside of battle) and general items that restore EP. It will make your life a lot easier.

Seems the whole generator shield is down. Hey, how come we didn’t see an obnoxious bright orange glowy thing around Aphel Aura...? Weird. Oh well. Just a quick elevator ride and a stroll over to Seibzehn’s hangar and we’re golden.

The party enters the elevator to the hangar and...

"Isn't there another way to go down to the hangar?"
"We may be able to go down if we use the emergency shaft. But it's not normally used..."
"I don't care. We can't waste time here anyway."
"You're right. They won't wait for us."
"I see. The entrance to the shaft is just above here."

Maria toggles the elevator switch and the lift ascends a bit up the shaft...

”Cool. What are we looking at? Like a super long ladder? Cuz what a thrill that would be...”
“Not exactly...”
“No it is...well, we were thinking of expanding the residential sector by utilizing empty sections of Shevat’s underside but...the plans got scrapped before completion.”
“They only built the hallways.”
“How many hallways are we talking here, Maria?”
“ or eight floors of them.”
<I hate my life.>
“Also there...maybe a slight monster infestation...”
“What?! HOW?!”
*shrug* “I dunno.”

Music: Forest of the Black Moon

Remember how I bitched about the Ethos Dig Site dungeon being monotonous as all hell? Well, apparently my mind had blocked the memory of the Shevat Shafts. Zeboim doesn’t have SHIT on how boring this dungeon is and indeed, it may even usurp Kislev Sewers for the crown of worst dungeon.

You see those two screenshot up there? Yeah. That is the design of 95% of the dungeon. At least the Dig Site had the decency to make its endless corridors linear. Shevat Shafts is full of dead ends with the occasional treasure chest, copy and pasted extremely long staircases (there’s seriously like 10 of that room in this dungeon.) And the best part...

Random battles out the ass! There is such a frigging high random encounter rate down here. At one point toward the end, it took me three minutes to use a save point due to random battles. If you try to go to a menu when a random battle is loading, the game just goes “fuck you battle first” and starts the fight. And if you happen to be over the save point at the time, at the end of the battle the save point will be disabled until Fei runs a bit away from it and runs back to re-activate it. Cue a clusterfuck of random battles. Another mark against this dungeon is that Maria is a required character.

Xenogears subscribes to the same train of thought on children combat abilities as Drakengard did with Seere. This is a nice way to say that Maria is unbelievably useless on foot. She has no Deathblows. She has terrible accuracy. And if she does hit...she does single digit damage. Add to that the fact that she’s about as durable as you’d expect a skinny 13-year old girl to be and you’ve got a spectacularly bad character. But, Maria does have one decent set of abilities...

Using her robot communicator wrist watch or however the hell she commands Seibzehn, Maria can summon her Gear into on-foot battles to ruin her enemy’s day. Right now she can make Seibzehn fire lasers or missiles. But shortly she also gets a fist pound (hey Seere had his giant helper do that too!) and stomp.

Of course, it doesn’t help Maria’s case against uselessness that having the ability to summon a filler dungeon we’re currently crawling through in order to save Seibzehn...makes absolutely no sense. But, this dungeon is just the worst. So we can overlook gaping plotholes created by in-game abilities.

Unlike the Zeboim medical facility, we cannot sleep walk our way through random battles in the Shevat shafts. No sir. As you see, every single fight down here has some kind of gimmick. Tears here, always come in pairs. Together, they’re not too bad. But if you kill one of them, the survivor powers up and suddenly shots doing hundreds of HP to the party (it can straight up one-shot Maria at any time.)

Forbiddens start out the battle frozen in Carbonite and cannot attack. In this form, they only have 500 HP. A high end deathblow from both Fei and Elly will kill one for me. If you’re lucky, the party will be quick enough to have Maria chip in with a Seibzehn attack and another party member performing a Deathblow to take out its twin.

Killing the pair in their frozen form yields a nice chunk of experience and a chance for them to literally shit out gold when they die. Forbidden have a 30% chance to drop a Gold Nugget (sells for 2000 G) and a 10% chance to drop a Gold Bullion (4000 G.) Easy money.

However, failing to kill the Forbidden in a couple turns will result in Princess Leia wandering along wrong Carbonite escape... Forbidden will smash out of their containers and turn into...well still Forbiddens. But their new form hits like a truck, has 9000 HP, doesn’t shit gold, and is generally unpleasant.

Last up we have Gimmicks. Yes. There is a gimmicky random battle against something called a Gimmick. I hate this dungeon. Gimmicks have only 6 HP! But they have extremely high defenses. Even with that, a series of six Light attacks in a row will kill a gimmick every time. Even Maria can take one out in a single turn. Gimmicks themselves have a rather unimpressive Ether attack where they summon a giant saw blade like that jerk back on the Reaper Ship.

The annoying thing about Gimmicks is they can decide to instantly steal all of a characters EP. Not a big deal for Fei and a bit of a setback for Elly. But Maria sort of needs her Ether. So of course, they always seem to go after Maria and steal her EP the first chance they get. Pricks. The first time I did this dungeon, I really didn’t stock up much on Ether restoring items. As such. Fei and Bart pretty much dragged Maria’s drained corpse through the duration of the dungeon, as it wasn’t worth it keeping her alive.

To break up the tedium of endless hallways, we occasionally take trips outside to do some platforming. Apparently you need to be extremely strong and skilled in parkour if you want to make it through the gauntlet that is Shevat’s fire escapes.

At the fifth or sixth floor of this dungeon, we get a map. The thing doesn’t really indicate where in the hell we’re meant to go (it’s the bottom left corner) so its usefulness is limited. By the way, all those circular rooms are copy and pasted spiral stairway chambers.

That said, there is one little anomaly in this area. Okay, two.

First up: Battle Apron! Going right on Fei, that. Secondly...

Big Joe is hanging out in a corner of the dungeon. He doesn’t do anything special or announce himself. He just is contemplating life in the sealed, monster filled emergency shafts of the flying city. This guy...

After what approached an hour of endless dungeon, we emerge to the room we began our visit from Shevat in. With all that time we just pissed down our leg, I’m sure Seibzehn is long gone, the Queen has been assassinated, and Solaris is lining up cruise missiles to blow up the place.

The party hurries into Maria’s Gear hangar...

“Hmph, it's you again... You pests aren't making my job any easier.”

”That’s it! I’m filing a restraining order.”
“Lemme come with. I need one against that Ramsus jerk.”

"Never thought I'd come across Seibzehn in my place of escape.

“Originally, this belonged to us, Solaris."
"Dominia! I can't let you have the Gear!"
"Fool, not even knowing this Gear is the point of contact between us."
*looks at Maria* “Huh...? That child... Hey, you... Are you the daughter of Nikolai...?"
"Undoubtedly, I am the daughter of Nikolai, Maria Balthasar! What about it...?"
"I see... So you're his beloved daughter to whom he offered himself to undertake that difficult task..."
”Who talks like that? ‘Whom offered himself to perform that difficult task’...? Stop speaking like a tool!”
“Trust me, if I couldn’t get her to stop doing that, you do not stand a chance.”

"Hey, young girl. Want to hear an interesting story? Let's see... How about the cursed secret of Seibzehn?"
"...!? What do you mean?"
"What do I mean? You'll understand it when you hear the story."
*munches on sandwich* “Mmm. Turkey.”

Music: Tears of the Stars, Hearts of the People

“Regardless of how great a pilot one is, as long as it is human, there will always exist a time lag and human error when interfacing with a machine. That's when your father, Nikolai, was targeted. He was a genius in the field of cranial nerve mechanisms. They made Nikolai search for a way for humans to go beyond humans... By merging humans and machines. In other words, they were trying to create a new life, an ultimate living weapon, by connecting a living human brain to a Gear directly.”
”Just say cyborgs!”
“It would've stayed as a mere fantasy without Nikolai. But that genius made the fantasy come true...”

"I don't lie, Maria. This is the truth. Your splendid father succeeded in fusing man and machine. And he opened the gates to hell for the Lambs."

“That is how the special humanoid mutants, Wels, were born. Wels created in Solaris were tested on the surface. Only the Wels that passed the tests were dismantled, restructured, and reborn. They became the Gear's central control circuit... and became part of the machine... It's all the result of your father's great research. Seibzehn is the prototype of a man-machine fusion Gear. In other words... Seibzehn was completed at the cost of innumerable land dwellers' lives. And in the nerve circuit of Seibzehn lies...”
“Don't you think you've said enough, Dominia?”
"Who is it!?"

Jessie out of fucking nowhere! Sure, why not...

“They jabber about things they shouldn't be talking about. Hopeless..."
"Jesiah!? You...!? What're you doing in Shevat!? At one point, weren't you considered to be the next Gebler commander-in-chief!?"
”Yup. Then I looked into the job description and it was all minding a buncha crazy bitches and ordering around cannon fodder and no drinking on the job so I said to hell with that.”
"Don't get so excited."

“Maria is the only one who can operate Seibzehn. You should be well aware of that."
”I was wondering why the hell she was still here after we were stuck in those shafts all day... Hey, Maria. I suppose it would be too much to ask you to make that Gear of yours squish the jerk on top of it?”
“It takes a minute to start up. She would probably move to safety first.”

"Hmph, fools! Don't get so cocky. The party's just begun. But, I guess it's alright. My mission is complete. All that's left is... Maria, I'm afraid I must go now. Enjoy your party. Hah hah hah...!"
"Wait! Dominia!"

Dominia hops off Seibzehn and escapes to...somewhere. We’re in a closed hangar and blocking the only exit...

"Hey, Maria. Don't mind what she told you..."
”Yeah. She’s just a spiteful mega bitch. Don’t let it get to you.”

An extremely loud and annoying alarm sounds. It is not pleasant on my ears.

“The Yggdrasil is also accommodated in the dock. I'm sure the other guys are making a fuss over it."
”The Yggdrasil...? Aren’t we still in the sky? How the heck does that work?”
*shrug* “Science.”

"I have an ominous premonition... I doubt it but... they could've..."

Well, the worst of Shevat is over. Early warning: The next sequence of the game is fucking BONKERS. Stay tuned.

Tears Concept Art

Forbidden Concept Art

Gimmick Concept Art