The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky
May 2, 2016
Batman: Shadow of the Bat 58
Ultimate Power 3
Conspiracy theorists love this game, since they think the "trails in the sky" part of the title refers to Chemtrails.
Linkara: (wearing a black cloak) Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. Buuut of course, it's not a bad comic today. As I said last time, it's a Patreon-sponsored review of something that is decidedly not a comic. It's a JRPG! And hey, I'm well-known for my opinions about JRPGs, like Pokemon and, um... Pokemon!
(Cut to a shot of the covers of the game series Dragon Slayer and The Legend of Heroes)
Linkara (v/o): The Legend of Heroes series is one of those things that the Angry Video Game Nerd would make a "Chronologically Confused" video about if he actually played these sort of things. The games are developed by the company Nihon Falcom, and the first two were actually part of a completely different series of games called Dragon Slayer, with said games being called Dragon Slayer: The Legend of Heroes I and II. For reasons that I couldn't find, it's spun off into its own series, The Legend of Heroes. You might think it was because it focused on different characters in the Dragon Slayer games, but nope! Of course, the sequels exist within their separate sets of continuities, so, like Final Fantasy, they just shoved the name on them for brand recognition, despite the fact that they really have nothing to do with one another. And once these games were brought to the U.S., it was decided to rename them in the same kind of asinine way Final Fantasy was; hence, why, in Japan, there's Dragon Slayer: The Legend of Heroes I and II, then The Legend of Heroes III, while in America, we have the first Dragon Slayer game, and then The Legend of Heroes III becomes The Legend of Heroes II. Oh, but despite this being the mid-2000s, and they're releasing ten-year-old games, they had to do it out of order. So the American version of Legend of Heroes IV was released before the American version of Legend of Heroes III, although without a number attached to it. Once the fifth game arrived, they called that Legend of Heroes III. Oh, did I not mention that? Yeah, the second game of one trilogy came out before the first. Smooth.
Linkara: Dragon Slayer: The Legend of Heroes II never got an English release, but I assume, at this point, that if they did release it, they'd call it Zombie 9.
Linkara (v/o): Then, when they reached the next one, the one were looking at today, Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky, they just abandoned the numbering concept for the American release and just called each individual game in a subseries their own number within it.
(Cut to footage of the game)
Linkara (v/o): The story is a steampunkish fantasy-turned-base-RPG. You've seen it before and this is the first game of this little subseries, so there's no major backstory that isn't just part of the story itself. In case you're wondering, this request came from the same person who paid for "Cho Dengeki Stryker", so hopefully this one will have less pedophilic dogs.
Linkara: And as such, let's dig into The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky and see what it does have in store for us.
(AT4W title sequence plays, and the title card has the title music from the game playing in the background. Cut to gameplay footage of Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky)
Linkara (v/o): The story begins with a prologue cutscene showing our main character, Estelle Bright, as her father Cassius comes home with an unconscious boy in his arms.
Linkara: (as Cassius) Honey, you will never believe what was on sale at the mall today!
Cassius: Don't make such a fuss or you'll wake him up.
Estelle: Wake him up...? You mean he's still alive?
Linkara: (as Estelle) Well, now how am I supposed to cook him for dinner?
Linkara (v/o): This is Joshua, who has a mysterious backstory that we don't learn until the end of the game... and it's otherwise irrelevant to the plot anyway. We jump ahead five years later, where Estelle and Joshua, now having been raised together as sister and brother, are on their way to the town of Rolent to complete their training as Bracers, which I'll explain in a moment. Cassius asks them to pick up a copy of his favorite newspaper, Liberal News.
Linkara: Damn liberal media! I hear they want to give equal rights to slime monsters.
Linkara (v/o): Actually, I'm pretty sure it's pronounced "LIE-beral", which is basically the name of the country we're in, headed over by Queen Alicia, II. So, here's some quick background info to set the stage here. Ten years ago, Liberal was invaded and almost conquered by the Erebonian Empire, but were driven off during the Hundred Days War. Since then, the two nations have been at peace, especially because Liberal actually has very advanced technology, utilizing pseudo-magical power sources called orbments. Orbment technology has allowed the kingdom to be pretty much a steampunk environment, with airships, heavy machinery, and even phones and weapons. Estelle and Joshua are completing their training to become members of the Bracers Guild. The Bracers are an organized, multinational mercenary organization dedicated to helping people in need. Usually, that involves killing monsters, providing increased security, and any number of odd jobs that need doing, usually for a small fee. They have a good relationship with the military, for the most part, although they're a strictly civilian operation. So anytime the government comes a-knocking and asking them to stay out of their affairs, they agree.
Linkara: Which is only amusing to me since governments tend to have the complete opposite policy.
Linkara (v/o): Cassius, being one of the foremost members of the Bracers, has to leave on a trip, a thing that he seems to do quite frequently that Estelle is bitter over, and dumps his workload on his children. Estelle's mother was killed during the war, but the two are teenagers capable of taking care of themselves for a bit. After passing their final test, they become junior Bracers. They'll have to travel around and work at every Bracer office in the country – don't worry, there are only five of them – in order to get promoted to senior status. I should note that I'm actually going to leave out a lot of characters and events that happened in the game, since, well, it took me around forty hours to complete this thing and there are a lot of characters, most of them side ones that are only relevant for certain sections of the plot, but not important enough for the overall narrative. Speaking of, the main narrative in the first town involves the theft of some septium, the chief mineral responsible for making orbments. It's done by some sky pirates that you fight and defeat, but they manage to get away. And you soon learn that Cassius' ship, meant to return him to Rolent, was shot down, supposedly by the pirates.
Linkara: Aw, great, now I gotta do all of his work! (picks up clipboard) All right, what's next on the list? (reads) "Shave mustache even thinner"...
Linkara (v/o): By the way, I apologize for the quality of some of this footage. I originally started recording it at 720p, but since FRAFS doesn't give me an option to control the bit rate, three minutes of footage filled out four gigs – in a game I was told would take 50 hours. Yeah, I condensed the capture size in half to give me something better to work with. In addition, I needed to convert all that footage down to something more manageable that would actually function in Premiere. There's a reality of game reviews, guys: 90% of the footage you capture will be utterly worthless anyway, since it won't end up in the review, and it takes up an entire hard drive's worth of storage. The AVGN actually has a friggin' archive of game footage from stuff he's played to make it easier on himself. Eventually, I just got sick of seeing how badly it got compressed that I was just much more discerning about what I recorded and bumped it back up to 720p. But obviously, I wasn't going to replay ten hours to get that footage again. But if you think the footage looks bad, then it gets a thousand times worse when it comes to the content. See, one of the subplots of the story is the growing romance between Estelle and Joshua, who, I remind you, are brother and sister. Now, admittedly, adopted brother, BUT THEY HAVE BEEN RAISED AS SIBLINGS! You can't even argue that it's two consenting adults making that decision for themselves; they're underage! And before you try to push cultural differences about age, a small plot detail later on in the games is how the Princess of Liberal, also sixteen years old, is being pressured to get into a political marriage, even though most people around her think she's too young. Now, if it was just random people commenting on it who didn't know they were siblings, that's understandable. But people who have known Estelle since she was a baby nudge her into a romance WITH HER ADOPTED BROTHER!! It's creepy and weird and even weirder that the game keeps pushing it to the end! I don't even get why they don't just have him stay at an orphanage in town or something. Given that we know that the town was hit by the war, you'd think that'd be a natural spot for this. It's like the game needed a reason why they weren't together already, so they hit upon the idea of "Oh, they see each other like siblings," while forgetting that since he was adopted by Cassius, THEY ARE SIBLINGS! Anywho, moving on from that happy subject, here's how the battle system works: you have three different forms of attacks: your standard type of attack a weapon; arts – basically, just magic; and crafts – arts and crafts, ha-ha-ha. Crafts are special skills unique to each character. You gain points for using crafts by either attacking or being attacked. Once you've hit a hundred points, you can use a limit break, or S craft, to execute a very powerful attack, one that actually bypasses whoever's turn is next to do it. Strategically, it's best to do it right after you've already done your normal turn. The arts are equipped to people through objects referred to as "quartz". Basically, monsters and enemies once defeated don't drop cash, but a resource called sepith. You can trade the sepith to unlock slots and forge quartz, objects that can enhance your stats, and that affects different arts you can use. There are also stat-buffing arts, healing arts, protective arts, etc., but I usually don't use them as often, because I am uncomplicated and just like hitting things with cool-looking attacks. As I said, the monsters don't give out money, like in other RPGs... which makes sense; what the hell do you need money for if you're a hornet? ...and instead, you get money by selling items you find or primarily by doing side quests at the Bracer Guild, posted on bulletin boards for any Bracer to take advantage of.
Linkara: (pretending to read a post on a bulletin board) "Looking for one lost hole. It was here, but it's gone now."
Linkara (v/o): Moving on to the next city, Bose, we learn that the military is investigating the attack on the airship, but haven't made much progress. This is where we learn that basically everybody on Earth knew who Cassius was. He was a major war hero, a former military officer who has rubbed shoulders with every politician and official across the world, and his children were completely unaware of it. You'd think there'd be reporters out constantly trying to get a story with him and his family. And yes, a side character in this is a reporter investigating what's going on. It gets pretty ridiculous, since Estelle is continually shocked to learn that people know who her dad is, even though it keeps happening! Every time we meet someone who knows him, she's just flabbergasted by that concept. I half-expected her to exclaim shock that Joshua knew who he was. Anyway, we manage to track down the sky pirates' base and learn that they're holding the crew of the airship hostage for ransom, something confusing two of the sky pirates' leaders. It's a group of siblings, two brothers and a sister, and the eldest brother has become increasingly violent and bloodthirsty, happily proclaiming that he plans to kill the hostages after they get the ransom money, to the shock of the others. However, upon defeating him, he seems confused about what's happening and is experiencing memory loss. We recover the hostages, but Cassius isn't among them. It seems he stepped off the ship right before takeoff and they didn't have time to change the passenger manifest before they were attacked. Cassius contacts our heroes via letter, also sending a package containing a strange black orbment without any serial numbers on it, with instructions to bring it to a scientist named Professor Russell.
Linkara: You know, for a guy who's met everybody on Earth and saved so many people and is this big, cool hero of renown and fame, he seems to pawn all his work off on us!
Linkara (v/o): One thing that seems to be strange about the situation is that the military have a leak to the sky pirates, since the pirates seem to be part of a bigger plan involving some mysterious, black-clad figures. Anyway, we move on to Ruan, a tourist city with most of the local Bracers helping a member of the royal family staying in town while also helping out the local school and a festival they're putting on. We also run into a sweet little orphanage... that gets burned down. And here's where we get into something that really bugs me about RPGs sometimes. RPGs like this need side quests to occupy your time in between major events. That's fine. The problem is when the quests are so damn asinine. "Hey, we've got a prestigious order of monster hunters, bodyguards, and investigators! What should we have them do?" "Oh, I don't know. How about we have two of them participate in a play for a school festival AT A SCHOOL THEY DON'T ATTEND!! Oh, and they even have to go to classes for a week at this school, despite having no reason do so if they're just there for the damn play!" This is especially frustrating because we're doing this since the investigation of the arson was taken away from us by a dickhead senior Bracer. We're "too close" to it! Yeah, we're so close to it in how we, you know, give a crap about it. Oh, but hey, we have to help out with this school festival. It's to make the little kids happy! Hey, you know what would probably make them even happier? HAVING A PLACE TO LIVE! Hell, some of the students don't care about the festival either. (as student, whose name is apparently Mickey) I'd rather just spend the time relaxing. Why should I have to get roped into this crap?
Linkara: 8-Bit Mickey is right: what the hell am I doing here?
Linkara (v/o): The sad thing is that this actually is a game-necessary thing, and that's what's so stupid about it. This is the kind of job for a side quest, but they made it a necessary part of the game, despite it really having no impact on the plot later. Fortunately, the majority of side quests can be completely avoided. For example, in the next town, there's a side quest about helping a librarian out with various odd jobs. It apparently goes into multiple parts, too.
Linkara: Oh, yeah, guys, I'd love to help with this mysterious object that might mean the end of our civilization, but I've got some old newspapers I've got to archive.
Linkara (v/o): Locating lost items, I get that. Escort missions; basically, just bodyguard work; makes sense. But helping a friggin' librarian?! This world has got cars, cell phones, and assembly-line factories, but no temp agencies?! Did the guild muscle out all the other ones? And really, am I the one most qualified for this sort of thing? Armed with swords and magic?
(Cut to a clip of Conan the Librarian in UHF)
Announcer: Conan the Librarian!
(Cut back to the game)
Linkara (v/o): Fortunately, we are brought back in as things grow increasingly worrisome. The military is stepping up their presence, only calmed down a bit by the leader of the newly-formed Intelligence Division, Col. Richard. Shock of all shocks, he knew Cassius as well. Further investigations reveal that the mayor is in cahoots with the mysterious, black-clad figures. He had the orphanage burned down so he could expand the tourism areas of the city, despite it being, like, several miles away from the city, but whatever, and gain some new capital by working with the black-clad figures, since he kinda, sorta gambled away most of the city's budget.
(Cut to a clip of an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, showing Mike Nelson dressed like Uncle Sam and saluting in front of the American flag)
Mike: (singing) I'm the government! I'm the government! I'm the reason nothing works!
(Back to the game again)
Linkara (v/o): The mayor also owns an ancient artifact that can stop time, passed down by his family for generations, so he almost gets away with murdering our heroes. But it turns out that the black orbment reacts to the device and cancels it out, absorbing its orbal energy. When the mayor is finally, like the sky pirates, he's suddenly having memory problems and doesn't know what's going on.
Linkara: And people thought (makes "finger quotes") "I don't recall" during Iran-Contra was a lie. Clearly, there was a conspiracy at work to brainwash politicians!
Linkara (v/o): I should note that each city of the game constitutes a "chapter" of the story, taking up about six to ten hours of gameplay, depending on how much of the side quests you do. Strangely, the first chapter was considered a prologue, despite it being actual plot stuff and long enough for its own chapter, so go figure. Anyway, Chapter 3 brings us to the city of Zeiss, where Professor Russell lives and works at an orbment manufacturing plant. Turns out the guy is pretty much the one responsible for orbment technology, so he's the best for figuring out what the black orbment is. However, during his attempts to open it, after causing a power outage with it, the black-clad figures storm the factory and kidnap him, although when they reach the ground floor, a picture reveals them wearing the uniform of the Royal Guardsmen, the Queen's personal guards. However, despite that evidence, we later learn that the Professor is being held at a nearby military base, and we soon discover that Colonel Richard is behind this, threatening to kill Russell's granddaughter if he doesn't assist in unlocking the secrets behind the black orbment. After sneaking in and rescuing him, we learn from the head of the military base that the Intelligence Division has been secretly gaining more and more power over the regular military for a while now, jailing dissenters or threatening their loved ones if they don't cooperate. The evidence against the Royal Guardsmen is actually a ploy to brandish them as traitorous terrorists, thus securing even more security and power for the Intelligence Division. The black-clad soldiers are actually the division's special ops unit. Professor Russell and his granddaughter head out on the run with that jerky senior Bracer I mentioned before, while Estelle and Joshua head to the capital to hopefully contact the Queen and tell her what's going on.
Linkara: (holds up index finger) And allow me to take a quick break from the plot to discuss my major complaint about this game: the camera.
Linkara (v/o): You have the option to make the camera fixed or have the ability to rotate it. The problem is that every time you enter a building, it changes the camera perspective to a fixed one, since obviously you don't need to see every iota of a general store's interior. However, when you exit back outside, the camera's angle has changed, and you're forced to try to reset it so it matches the mini-map and you know where everything is. Now, I later discovered that there was an option to have the mini-map change with the camera, but that just seems like I get more lost navigating around otherwise unfamiliar areas. And before you say, "Well, just leave the camera fixed at one angle," there are actually items and whatnot hidden from view that require you to rotate around and realize they're there. It's not a game-breaking problem, of course, it's just really damn annoying when it happens every time I exit a place and I have to reorient myself to know where I'm going. Speaking of annoyances, the final chapter of the game is a slog to get through, the longest part of it by far. Maybe that's because it doesn't have any side quests like the other towns do, but especially the final dungeon takes forever. Mind you, part of that is self-inflicted, but I'll get to that in a bit. On the way to Grancel, the capital city, you discover the nearby Royal Villa has taken over by the Intelligence Division for anti-terrorism activities. With the Royal Guardsmen implicated in the Professor's kidnapping, the special ops forces have basically assumed all functions regarding protecting the royal family. Grancel was increasingly placed under martial law as the chapter unfolds, mostly thanks to the approach of the Queen's birthday, which has been an event that the game has referenced several times by this point.
Linkara: Turns out this whole thing was just an elaborate way of having Colonel Richard jump out of a cake for her.
Linkara (v/o): It's been announced that the Queen is ill and thus hasn't made any public appearances lately, and with the increased security in the town, there's no way to get in to see her. Fortunately, there's a martial arts tournament underway, where the winners will be allowed to attend a banquet at the castle, so it's our best bet for getting inside the place. And naturally they use such sophisticated martial arts techniques like... machine guns. And explosives.
Linkara: (waving dismissively) Bah! We know that the real kind of martial arts out there is ninja-style dancing!
(Cut to the Ninja-Style Dancer, who dances to Olivia Newton-John's "Dancin'", while footage of the martial arts tournament plays in the corner. As he dances, the Dancer picks up a machine gun)
Newton-John: (singing) I wanna dance with you / Until the sun comes creepin' through / I wanna dance with you / I won't stop pleasin' you...
Linkara (v/o): We also make contact with the Captain of the Guardsmen, who informs us the best way to get to the Queen is through her head maid, delivering a letter to her that explains the situation. At the banquet, it's revealed that at the Queen's birthday celebration, she's going to officially announce that her loutish, boorish asshole idiot of a nephew is going to be named her successor, despite the Queen's granddaughter being next in line. It's justified that the Princess, being only sixteen, is really not in any capacity ready to take on the role and might be in a better position when she's older, but not quite yet. It's decent enough reasoning, even though clearly the nephew is a selfish sack of crap and would make for a terrible ruler. Once we actually get in to see the Queen, she lays out what's really going on here, and I will give the game a lot of praise on one thing: Col. Richard. See, Col. Richard is not some madman bent on destroying the world or something. He's a legitimately charming, likable, intelligent guy who loves Liberal and wants to protect it. The problem is that he's built up this massive hero worship over Cassius, believing that he alone was solely responsible for saving Liberal during the Hundred Days War and not that it was a combination his efforts and several other factors that won them through.
(As Linkara continues, there is a huge amount of text covering the screen, reading: "The dialogue vs. his actual actions is unclear about his level of sexism. The Queen is convinced there's some sexism to it because he feels her views on peace as "womanly," but his actions and conversations with women in power don't seem to gel with that. Could be one way or another, but I'm inclined to believe the character just has multiple shades to him depending on who you ask.")
Linkara (v/o): While he himself is not misogynistic, he knows some of the neighboring countries are and that if one unmarried queen ruling Liberal was enough to piss them off, having two in a row, one of whom was just a sixteen-year-old with no political experience whatsoever, would be a sign of weakness and an invitation to invade again. The only reason they haven't been attacked so far is because Liberal is much more technologically advanced than the others. But considering this technology is in everybody's homes, it won't exactly take a master spy to bring this stuff back, reverse-engineer it, and that advantage will be gone. And since Cassius is no longer in the military and is missing right now, Richard is even more convinced that they stand on the cusp of war with their neighbors and he needs to do everything he can to protect Liberal, even if that means staging a coup d'etat so he can be the power behind the throne.
Linkara: And considering a lot of JRPG villains like in Final Fantasy or something have the motivation of (makes "finger quotes") "I want to end suffering by destroying the world," and other bass-ackwards reasons for their villainy, having it just be a good person who's making moral compromises is very refreshing.
Linkara (v/o): Col. Richard wants to control of an ancient device buried deep under Grancel called the Shining Ring that, according to legend, has the power to control nature itself. A weapon of that magnitude would ensure Liberal's protection for who knows how long, and the black orbment is somehow the key to activating. Personally, I think the black orbment being able to disable orbment power itself would be enough, but I suppose it's one of those things they can't really direct at the enemy and would just screw themselves over if they tried to use it. Anyway, the Queen is going along with this because the Princess is being held hostage by the Colonel at the Royal Villa we passed by on the way into town. We bring in all the other Bracers, as well as the exiled Guardsmen, and stage a pretty well-executed rescue, with diversions and multiple attack teams and stuff. This is another thing the game does handle well. In settings like this, usually the main character have to sort out the problems by themselves and circumstances that are more than a little ridiculous, given what they're up against, but here, we have resources and other people and just a good old-fashioned commando raid on the villa. It's revealed that the Princess is actually Kloe, the schoolgirl we met when we wasted our time decorating some high school instead of unraveling the conspiracy that resulted in her kidnapping.
Linkara: But it was all worth it. Sure, lots of people are dead, imprisoned, or have their loved ones being threatened so they'll capitulate, (amused) but we got to put Joshua in a dress! LOL!
(Another set of text is shown: "Unfortunately, I somehow failed to record the actual rescue of Kloe, just right before her rescue and right after they discuss their plans.")
Linkara (v/o): With the villa retaken, including a stolen intelligence airship, everyone wants to ship Kloe out of there for her protection, but she insists that the situation needs to be fixed before the birthday, which means they have to rescue the Queen. They utilize a similar plan as before, with diversions to draw forces away from the castle, but also having one team sneak in using the sewers, while the other flies the airship in. So now, it's time to rescue the Queen.
(Cut to a clip of The Princess Bride)
Valerie (Carol Kane): (waving goodbye) Bye-bye, boys!
Miracle Max (Billy Crystal): (also waving) Have fun stormin' da castle!
(Cut back to the game)
Linkara (v/o): After several battles, we reach the Queen again, although she's being guarded by [2nd] Lieutenant Lorence, the mysterious leader of the special ops team. He's from a competing mercenary group to the Bracers called the Jaegers. And Joshua seems to recognize him, but says nothing to explain himself.
Linkara: Because withholding information when you're engaged in a life-or-death struggle to rescue your entire country is really the best option. I mean, talking about it makes you slightly uncomfortable. That's the worst!
Linkara (v/o): The boss fight, theoretically, from walkthroughs, can be won, but it's hard as all hell and really should only be attempted if you're going for 100% completion, since he cheats like a bastard: very powerful moves, massive healing abilities, stops you from casting arts; it's a pain, and you're supposed to lose anyway. He's of course cryptic about all this, proclaiming that everything is going to plan before handing over the Queen and departing, making me wonder why the hell he put up a fight if he was just going to hand her over anyway. Once the castle is retaken, we learn that Col. Richard is already on his way down to activate the shining ring. Fortunately, all of our plucky allies we met along the game show up to come help, and we're allowed to choose our party... sort of. See, the party is limited to four people, and since Estelle and Joshua are the main characters, we can't switch them out, meaning we can only pick the two people who can help. Fortunately, none of the other characters are bad, they just have different strengths and weaknesses. So it's up to the player to decide the best way to approach it. I picked Zane, who's a big, burly dude who "I am a man" punches stuff, but also has enough defense and hit points to serve as a tank. The other choice was Kloe, since she knows a lot of group healings, so she's basically our White Mage. They also serve as backups to Estelle and Joshua, since I made sure to give Estelle some minor group healing abilities, while Joshua has been a damage sponge throughout the game. Seriously, any time there was a group of monsters, they tended to fixate on Joshua above anybody else. What the hell is it about this kid's face that makes monsters want to tear it off? But yeah, as I said, the final dungeon just takes so loooong. It's not so bad if you're just rushing through it, but the thing is that this dungeon seems designed to help people get in some last-minute level-ups and equipment before the final boss. Several treasure chests contain the most powerful weapons and equipment for party members, so it's in your best interest to go through them and take what you need – except, somehow, a group of giant, powerful robots are all HIDING INSIDE OF THE CHESTS and you need to defeat them to get the equipment! Look at these things! How the hell are they hiding inside of a dinky little trunk?!
(Cut to a clip of an episode of Doctor Who)
Doctor: Time knows science. It's bigger on the inside.
(Back to the game again)
Linkara (v/o): By this point, if you've done some grinding like I did in the final chapter to beef up your characters, it shouldn't be any problem to deal with them, but they're not exactly a walk in the park, and after a certain point, they just become tedious and annoying, taking several minutes to finish up. The good news is that since you're defeating so many of these things and are given a bunch of sepiths to fashion quartz, you can continually get better and better equipped for the final boss battle. Now, they must have realized it would be silly for us to go on this daring mission, only for us then to leave and go back to town while the special ops forces are still being fought in the town just for us to fashion some new equipment, so Professor Russell is there to fashion the quartz. However, to make it really silly, he's also there to serve as a store for potions and equipment. He sells us this stuff!
Linkara: (as Prof. Russell) Look, I've been on the run from the military for two weeks with an ornery Bracer, my granddaughter, and nothing to eat but bugs, and a tree stump for a toilet. Whether you win or lose, I'm retiring in style after this.
(More text is shown covering the screen: "Sorry I keep showing scenes from this one battle. Once again I seem to have failed to record footage I thought I had. Whoops.")
Linkara (v/o): One thing that makes the dungeon crawl a bit more tolerable is the music. It's a fast-paced, exciting remix of the normally slow and soft theme music, so it keeps everything nice and energized for you as you make your way through it. It's just the effects of the music wear off after an hour in this place. Once you reach the bottom, you face Col. Richard, and like I said, he's an honorable sort, so he's willing to talk things out with our heroes, but he can't agree with them. However, it's made plainly clear that even he's being manipulated, since his memory is having issues, just like the sky pirates, the mayor of Ruan, and some others. However, that's stuff for the sequels. In the here and now, the battle against him isn't difficult at all. But of course, you don't have a huge ancient device in a fantasy setting and not turn it on, so it's activated. The real final boss is Reverie, a robot left by the ancient civilization to keep this thing from being turned on. There are three stages to this fight, and if you know what you're doing, you should be fine. The first stage involves these two giant floating heads who provide assistance. The one on the right is immune to physical attacks, while the one on the left is immune to arts, so you just focus on defeating one, then the other, and the robot's a bit of a pushover in this first form. The second form is the hardest, but again, if you know what you're doing, you'll be fine. He has a crap-ton of hit points, but since it's alone, it only makes one move. The walkthrough I read recommended having one party member casting a guard spell on the members to absorb a hit, while everyone attacks or heals as they need to. Use one of them on occasion to recharge your mana with items and just keep pressing. Even this form has stages that he goes through, first casting a missile that will cancel out arts, and it's best to provoke this reaction by casting something before its turn, since otherwise, it'll summon additional robot helpers to attack or buffet stats. Once it loses a certain number of hit points, it'll stop trying to cancel your arts and you just have to absorb hit points as they come while attacking with what you got. I'm fond of White Gehenna myself, since that art opens up a portal to Hell and unleashes hundreds of demon bats on the enemy.
Linkara: White Gehenna, ensuring that every place you stop is bat country.
Linkara (v/o): Once its health is low enough, I'd say around 5,000, hit it with crafts. But it's still not quite dead yet. Col. Richard, since he's not a bad person, tries to intervene and convince our heroes to make a run for it, but he's saved by the arrival of... Cassius!
Linkara: Well, look who it is: Sir Not-Appearing-In-This-Film! Where the hell have you been?!
Linkara (v/o): The final form is easy; just keep hitting it and it dies. In fact, this final form is so pathetic that you don't even fight it if your Bracer rank isn't high enough. But whatever. The day is saved, the Queen celebrates her birthday, we're given some revelations about Joshua's past to set up the next game, and there was one twist that I admit I did not see coming, so I won't spoil it for you, and Joshua admits that he has to leave because of these revelations. Estelle admits her growing attraction and love for Joshua, because why not have a final note of creepiness? He gives her a sedative kiss to get even creepier, then leaves for the next game, and roll credits.
Linkara: (throws up arms) This game is... perfectly okay. And that's it.
Linkara (v/o): Here's the problem with the game: it's unremarkable. Don't get me wrong, it's a perfectly good game. I played it, I enjoyed it, I wouldn't mind checking out the two sequels that continue the story, but the thing is that the story isn't anything to write home about. It touches on several fantasy setting cliches and tropes: the conspiracies of corrupt governments; the member of royalty who was secretly hiding out as a commoner; and the ancient, highly-advanced civilization that died out due to some catastrophe; mysterious pasts; mysterious warriors who spout faux-philosophical bullcrap; ancient devices that seem wholly impractical but look really cool; it's all here. The thing is that these are not necessarily things against it, just in how they're executed. And they're executed just fine. This game does not have any profound meanings or speak to some deeper truth. It's just an enjoyable, fun little RPG, with a diverse amount of character personalities and combat styles. Mind you, being the first part of a trilogy might make it be that the first part has to be the most basic before the sequels let loose, but I'm not judging it based on its part of the larger narrative, just on its own. And on its own, it's okay. Pretty good; check it out if you're curious.
Linkara: Next time, it's back to bad comics and to the Ultimate Universe with another issue of "Ultimate Power"! Let's see how much Greg Land can trace the same face over and over again this time.
(End credits roll)
Thank God this civilian paramilitary operation has the ability to casually open portals to hell and unleash demon bats.
As with any game review like this, I apologize about content that I neglected to discuss, but when it comes to material like this that's VERY labor-intensive in a short amount of time, stuff gets left out and I prioritize the things *I* want to talk about.
(Stinger: A clip of the game is shown)
Col. Richard: (to Cassius) If you had stayed in the service, it never would have come to this...
(After a brief pause, Cassius walks up to Col. Richard and punches him so hard that sends him flying backwards. He lands on the ground hard)
Col. Richard: Ungh...!
Cassius: Stop being such a child, Richard!