Fire Emblem. It's the talk of the town right about now, but I'm not too familiar with the series. About a decade ago, I played FE: Path of Radiance and FE: Radiant Dawn. I don't remember that much about it, really. Now that I have a 3DS I figure I'll give the series another shot. I never played Awakening and I haven't been following the news for this game all that closely, so what I know about it is limited mostly to a few blog site posts and reading the backs of the game preorder boxes. This run may be embarrassing.
So, the first question of course is - Anya or Byakuya version? Black box or white box? Nohr or Hoshido? When I first heard about this choice I was interested. Okay, so Hoshido is clearly Japan here, and it appears that their country is being invaded by the evil Europea-, er, Nohr folks. The box text suggests that Anya Kingdom is plainly evil and Byakuya Kingdom is plainly good, if you side with Hoshido you're fighting against the forces of evil, but if you side with Nohr you're 'being a glimmer of light in the darkness'. Okay, whatever, but then I heard that Nohr side will have some interesting mechanics about not being able to grind levels, and having more strategic goals than Hoshido. Also, I'm already a white guy living in Japan who blogs about JRPGs, so if I sided with Hoshido from the start I might hit critical weeaboo levels and have a meltdown. Nohr it is.
Forcing me to make one tough choice wasn't enough though, and the game immediately makes me pick the game difficulty, my character's gender, appearance, and class. Fem Kamui is cute but I decided to go with M Kamui for my first run. Maybe next run I can play cute lesbian Kamui on Hoshido side, but for now I'm going with this. What kind of person would try to change a warring country from the inside when given the choice of fighting them directly? That's the impression I was given of my role in Nohr, and it sounds like something that you'd have to be either incredibly smart or incredibly stupid to attempt. I have a feeling it's going to be incredibly stupid, so I made my Kamui an intelligent Sorcerer because he's going to need all the smarts he can get for this task. For difficulty, I went with Hard. I've heard Normal is too easy, but I'm too out of shape from the series to try the Lunatic difficulty right from the start, so Hard it is.
The game starts with Kamui having a dream - the pure and innocent Hoshido are being attacked by the cartoonish villains of Nohr. Kamui is with some Hoshido folks who call him their brother, and some mooks wander one at a time into our area so that we can have a tutorial battle. Cut to a battle between a prince of Hoshido, Ryouma, and a prince of Nohr, Marx. Ryouma wields a giant katana whose steel has been folded a thousand times through superior Hoshido smithing and it crackles with electricity powered by pure bushido. Marx rides in on a horse wielding some really evil looking sword crackling with dark magic that some dirty, unholy sorcerer probably enchanted. Marx gets a good hit in on Ryouma, but then Ryouma flips out and slices Marx a thousand times, and they're evenly matched.
Kamui wakes up, this time with the Nohr princes and princesses calling him their brother. It turns out the royals of Nohr are actually pretty nice folks, they're all big softies when it comes to Kamui and doting on him. I do some sparring with Marx to hone my swordsmanship - wait, wasn't I supposed to be a sorcerer? Oh well. Kamui has been declared ready to venture out of the castle he was raised in and go out into the world! Before that though, he has to go see daddy. Daddy Nohr is scary and everyone knows it.
Earlier I mentioned that I made sure intelligence was my Kamui's strong suit, but the game doesn't seem to care, because Kamui is a complete moron and decides that despite training his sword skills for years, he's a pacifist and he refuses to finish off the Hoshido captives that daddy is having him fight to prove himself. One of his brothers covers for him by teleporting the Hoshido folks to safety and pretending like he actually killed them, and daddy Nohr is pissed, but he still gives Kamui a ridiculously evil looking sword - again with the swords, I'm a sorcerer! Why let me choose when everyone will treat me like a swordsman? Maybe it'll change later? Kamui meets up with the Hoshido folks he spared and tells one of them, Rinka, that he doesn't want to fight them and would instead like to become friends with them. Huh? Isn't there a limit to how naive someone can be? These two kingdoms are supposed to be at war, but Kamui is already laying the "let's all just talk it out and be friends" JRPG protagonist act on thick. Better hope his plot armor is just as thick.
Daddy Nohr gives Kamui a new mission to prove himself, and a reminder of what a lovely kingdom Anya is by assigning a mass-murdering lunatic to accompany him on the trip. Fortunately we also have our reliable mentor-type old man figure Gunther, and a maid named Felicia coming with us. In the first real battle of the game, I immediately failed when Felicia got wrecked by archers. Now, when I started the game, I was given the choice of casual mode which makes characters never die for good, and the other option which means if they die once they're gone. I picked casual and I immediately felt like a tool when Felicia let out a dying scream and the game zoomed in on her like she had just suffered a critical injury, but then she just said she was withdrawing from the fight anti-climatically. It shamed me so much that I reset and restarted on hardcore, and Felicia immediately got picked off again by archers, permanently, muttering about how sorry she was for being clumsy to the end. Whoops. I can't be losing characters this early, so I reloaded and had Gunther and Kamui form up and take point for an easy win as long as Felicia stayed way back.
Nohr bros and sis come to save the day and send Kamui and Gunther back home, but on the way back, crazy mass-murderer guy drops Gunther off a bridge into a ravine for what looks like a fatal fall, and attacks Kamui, who sprouts some dragon appendages and smacks crazy guy around with it, but not before he also falls off the bridge. Some girl from the castle turns into a dragon and carries Kamui to a safe zone, and I come back to the real world to get smacked upside the head by Rinka and taken in front of the Hoshido royalty. They claim that Kamui is actually their long-lost brother and was abducted as a child by daddy Nohr. Someone who claims to be Kamui's mom hugs him. Now look mom, I don't want to be rude, but my Kamui is pretty close to the default art, and Kamui clearly looks, how to put it, not Japanese? He looks just like his Nohr 'brothers and sisters'. Were you messing around with some Nohr man behind your husband's back? I look nothing like big bro Ryouma. Next up I'm being taken alongside Ryouma and to go save our Hoshido sisters who were selflessly helping evacuate civilians in a village when the dastardly Nohr folks attacked it. I get it game, I get it!
So about the game itself, coming to this from playing Stella Glow is interesting. It's hard to get used to the ultra-low quality battlefield graphics at first, but it clearly must be a stylistic choice because the rest of the game is so high-budget - gorgeous cutscenes, character portraits, and usage of 3D. I'll get used to it, I'm sure. I'm looking forward to continuing playing it, I hope it surprises me and Kamui isn't just a naive pacifist-turned-killing-machine like I expect he will be.
My review of Stella Glow is finally up.
Finishing up New Game+ took a bit longer than I thought, mostly because I wanted to take my time using the characters I didn't get a chance to use much in my first playthrough. Nonoka is amazing in battle! She's as overpowered as Rusty, especially if her affection is raised to max for her final attack. What Rusty and Nonoka both have in common is extremely high agility and movement speed with decent damage, and in a game with lots of hazardous terrain this is a lifesaver. Another interesting character is Dorothy - as a 'harakiri samurai', her best attacks either deal damage to herself at the same time as the enemy, or are stronger the lower she is on HP. If you're careful enough to keep her near-death but not let her die, her attack power is through the roof. It was too much of a pain trying to keep her just-barely-alive though, so I gave up and benched her after a while. Dante is like Klaus, spear-user who can hold positions. By the end of the game though, I found that holding positions was less important than being able to spread out (which characters like Rusty and Nonoka excel at), so I didn't get much use out of him. Keith was just sort of average - a stronger bow user than Popo, but Popo has song magic and he doesn't so it's not even close. Archibald is still pretty bad even after his movement distance increases, because by the endgame as I mentioned, your party is more spread out usually.
I had mentioned I was thinking this game was an 8.5 but depending on how NG+ is, I could tweak it to 8.25 or 8.75. The True Ending was awesome! I wasn't expecting that much of a change, but it changed everything. I had such a big smile on my face when Alto came up with the True End plan, why didn't I think of that? After the True End, the game also let me pick another character end, so I went with Popo this time. The character designer and main illustrator for Stella Glow, ideolo, said that Popo was his favorite character and that he recommends people choose her. He said he submitted his design for her character and it got accepted on first draft, which doesn't happen very often apparently.
Next up it's time to finally get started on Fire Emblem if. I bought it on release day three days ago but haven't started it up yet, so I'm looking forward to it. I may end up overloading on strategy RPGs at this pace, though.
Back to Part 8
Got my hands on Fire Emblem if today. It seems to be selling well, the shop I went to had a huge display for it with 32 rows or so, but by the time I got there on my lunch break at noon, it was empty except for a single Hoshido version of the game. Fortunately I preordered it so they had my Nohr copy behind the counter.
I've still got to finish up New Game+ of Stella Glow and get that review up, which will probably take until Saturday, so with any luck I can start FE on Sunday.
I'm really hoping this turns out to be good, because with 3 routes it could be a long game. Maybe long enough to tide me over until Yoru no Nai Kuni, Atelier Sophie, and Utawarerumono in August and September. I'm a novice to Fire Emblem, the only entries I've played are Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn almost a decade ago, so I'm looking forward to seeing what the series looks like these days.
I still haven't decided on my protagonist's gender, it may come down to messing around in the character creator for whichever looks cooler.
Game clear! It was a fun ride. The game difficulty stumbled a bit near the end (it became too easy, especially if you'd been paying attention to your gear and orb equips), but recovered itself with some intense final boss battles that I just barely beat. Rusty was the #1 most useful character throughout the game, he probably has as many enemy kills as all my other party members combined. Hilda would probably be #2, her magic is insanely strong and she can teleport to ignore terrain. Alto is the protagonist and a sword-wielder so you'd think he'd be best off up front and in the fray, but he's really better off staying behind the front lines and sticking close to the witches to support them.
I ended up following through with Hilda's ending. Boy, I sure felt like a jerk after how hard the game tried to ship Alto with Risette, and what happened in Hilda's ending must have been a serious gut-punch for Risette, but that's how these games with selectable endings go. If you really want to spoil Hilda's ending for yourself, click here to see her ending CG. Hilda (1017 year old) together with Alto (17), isn't this a bit wrong on Hilda's part? Best not to think about it that deeply. Hilda has a transformation when you finish her tuning like the other witches - she loses the black classical-witch hat and outfit, and gets a royal-looking white dress and golden crown in its place. It's a pretty amazing contrast.
One other thing I wanted to bring up that I really, really liked about this game: The party members have battle voice lines that change throughout the game. Each character has 3 or 4 sets of battle lines (4 for Alto and the witches, 3 for everyone else). The first set of lines is everyone's standard stuff in the first half of the game. The second set is for very somber battles where something really tragic/sad just happened and it wouldn't feel right for the characters to be shouting energetic attack phrases - it helps the mood a lot. The third set is after they've matured a bit and overcome issues later in the game, they sound a lot more confident. The fourth (for Alto and the witches, unlocked after their tuning is complete) is similar, more confident lines since they've taken care of their fears and insecurities. It's a great touch and I hope the English version keeps it.
Anyway, all that's left is to play New Game+ and get the true ending, which I missed on this first run. Since NG+ gives you enough time to talk to everyone, I'm looking forward to seeing more of the personalities of the other members of the party. Unfortunately levels don't carry over to NG+, but the wiki I read said that leveling becomes easier/quicker in NG+ so maybe it won't matter. I doubt I'll be able to finish this in time to start playing Fire Emblem:if (or should I call it Fire Emblem Fates now?) on release day, but at the very least I should hopefully finish by next weekend. Right now I'm thinking this game is an 8.5/10, but NG+ could possibly sway it a tiny bit to 8.25/10 or 8.75/10. Somewhere in that range, though.
Back to Part 7 On to Part 9
I couldn't help but check a wiki to see what the ending requirements were before I finished up Popo's tuning, since I didn't want to lock myself into her ending. It looks like there's a True End that is only possible to get in New Game+ (edit: this is false, the wiki is wrong! All it requires is getting Klaus' affection high enough so he learns Magic Shield before Chapter 8, thanks Gangrelion for the info). Also, NG+ has 9 free time uses per node instead of 3, meaning you can talk to three times as many characters. That means you can talk to everyone to max affection without worrying about it. I think that's great, I can't wait to get to know the non-witch party members more in NG+. I just hope I can finish the game and rush through NG+ in time for Fire Emblem's release, but if not, I'll just put off starting FE to finish this up first. Stella Glow is worth it.
Back to Part 6 On to Part 8
Finally nearing the end. It really is amazing how they managed to fit almost every JRPG stereotype imaginable into this game. It's the typical JRPG hero's journey played completely straight. To top off our trope-filled journey, we're headed to the moon to kill God. If that doesn't scream 'JRPG' to you, then I don't know what to say.
Hilda pulled a Magus on us and she's the cutest old grandma ever. You know, lots of these games have characters who look like teenagers or young adults and are 'actually thousands of years old' but very few of them actually stop and think about what kind of personality someone would end up with after living that long. Stella Glow doesn't really try that hard, either - Hilda has some moments where Alto says she's acting like an old woman, but that's about all. Saying she's acting like a 70 year old, not a 1017 year old. Let's not even get into Doctor Veronica and how crazy (okay, crazier) she should be.
Maybe it's because I didn't particularly have one witch that I was crazy about before this (I'd been talking with them about equally), but I dropped everything when Hilda joined and have been spending the last bits of conversation time I get almost all on her. I'm going for her ending, sorry Risette. I can only spend 2/3rds of my free time with Hilda though, so I'm spending the last 1/3 to finish Popo and Sakuya's tuning since they were almost done anyway. If you split your time between the witches evenly you'll inevitably end up with Popo and Sakuya maxed first, because Risette gets blocked from being raised any further for a few chapters, and Moldimolt just joins too late. I just finished Popo's last level - when a witch is completely finished being tuned, she transforms and gets increased stats and a new, stronger chorus song to use. Popo sprouted wings and her song now also deals huge damage in addition to the previous effects. The only downside is that the new song isn't nearly as nice to listen to as her old one. Maybe the other witches' second songs will be better.
Finished Chapters 7 and 8. I knew there was going to be a twist waiting, but I didn't expect the person who was behind it. Whoops. I think this is another chapter it's best to just skip writing about since the spoiler is too crucial - game's not over anyway, on to Chapter 9. It's now clear why our own party has been acting dumb sometimes, but I still need to hear an explanation from Hilda about why her merry band of lunatics have been acting so dumb. The party's going to meet her right now so I guess I'll find out. The death toll and kicked puppy count is getting pretty high. The battles this chapter were excellent - I love when battles becomes virtually unwinnable (for someone who hasn't been doing excessive grinding) halfway through and the objective changes to become survival or escape. There was also a battle that forced me to use characters who I have barely leveled since they joined, but fortunately Rusty was one of them and I've been keeping him up to speed, with everyone else supporting him with items and healing, he managed to carry the team through.
Risette can sing now! Her song is so strong it's almost funny. I really like how powerful the songs are, it's great when the battlefield situation is looking hopeless and then one song completely flips it on its head. Risette and Popo's songs seem to be the most useful so far, surprisingly few enemies are immune to Popo's song effects (even bosses!), which causes them to be unable to attack for 1 round and then lower their defense the next two rounds. Risette's is basically a full HP and SP heal for everyone that continues ticking for 4 rounds.
The game made me pick one witch to spend time with at a crucial point and I'm thinking that may have locked me into an ending. I hope not. I chose Risette - I like Risette, Popo and Sakuya but Risette is being pushed so hard as the 'canon choice' that I don't feel like going against it. If I get the chance to ditch them all for Hilda though, well...
Anyway, it looks like our next opponent may be God, how original for a JRPG.
Back to Part 5 On to Part 7
It's Klaus appreciation day here at JRPG Review. Klaus is the knight-captain and leader of our party, even if he isn't the protagonist. He's got high HP and defense, uses a spear with long range, and most importantly, he blocks enemies from being able to move past him without stopping at his side first, meaning he can protect party members behind him from getting attacked if you position him right. My battles in Chapter 6 of Stella Glow were all carried by this guy. He would be even stronger if I had spent any time talking to him in my free time, which I feel bad about not doing. See, this game gives you certain amounts of free time to raise your affection with the characters, which causes them to learn new abilities. This time is very limited though, so I've been spending it almost all on the witches so far - it's the obvious thing to do, because raising affection with the witches also unlocks further levels of tuning for them. It's a shame though, because I really do want to spend more time talking to some of the guys in the party like Klaus, Rusty and Keith. Maybe in New Game+ the conversation levels will carry over? I guess I'll see.
Chapter 6 started off with a big helping of teenage angst, not my favorite thing to deal with, but the protagonist is a teenager after all so I guess I really can't complain. The angst got mostly taken care of by the end of the chapter, and without any ambiguous tip-toeing around the issue either, so I've got to give that to the game too. We visited enemy HQ this time and the battles were intense - the victory conditions changed from the usual SRPG 'defeat all enemies' fluff to 'desperately try to survive while enemies come at you from all angles' - again, Klaus was the hero here with his ability to hold a chokepoint for the rest of the party. Our protagonist Alto hid in the corner for most of the fight.
See, I don't like the losing condition in this game - it's game over if Alto dies in any story fight. This doesn't make much sense to me, since if other characters die, they just retreat from the battlefield. I don't see why Alto can't do the same and just have the losing condition being a total party wipe. The result of this losing condition is that it's best to have Alto be a total coward and only move in when it's completely safe, not very heroic of him. Anyway, it looks like Chapter 7 is all 'free time', like 12 slots of it, before the buildup to what I think is the last chapter (Chapter 8), so maybe I can squeeze some talking in with characters besides the witches if they run out of conversation topics.
I've got to pick up the pace a little bit so that I can be finished in time for Fire Emblem if in a couple weeks, but I think I should make it.
Last thought: Hilda's outfit is ridiculous.
Back to Part 4 On to Part 6
I've been thinking, the protagonists of the Ar Tonelico games and of Stella Glow are really only knights as a side-job. Their main profession is 'magical psychologist'. We'll come back to that in a minute.
Anyway, last I left off I was headed west to find the Witch of Earth. She supposedly lives somewhere to west in the desert near the ruins of a city that was destroyed 3 years ago when one of the royal knights (Rusty's father figure and mentor, in fact!) betrayed the kingdom and defected to Hilda's cult of stock villains. Hey, didn't the protagonist lose his memory about 3 years ago, too? I'm sure it won't come up again. I'm all set to head to the desert when Alto hears someone singing. It must be the last witch! Right, I forgot to mention earlier in the prologue, apparently a long time ago God got pissy and took away humanity's ability to sing, and now only witches can sing. He didn't just take away magical songs, he took away singing in general. He also may have sent a bunch of angel soldiers down to destroy everything, but taking away songs was pretty mean too. Alto rushes to the source of the sound and finds a young girl named Mary singing, who immediately collapses and gets amnesia like there's a panel of judges evaluating how many JRPG tropes she can fit into one scene. Unfortunately, I immediately know she's not the Witch of Earth because the Witch of Earth is on the cover art and this girl is not that witch. Sure enough, Mary wakes up unable to properly sing again, but she immediately wins over the hearts of the entire party by being so damned adorable, cheery and earnest. All of the knights love her, all the townsfolk think she's great, the shopkeepers all can't get enough of her. It's almost scary how much the game drills into us how likeable this girl is, I'm starting to get a bad feeling that she's either going to die horribly or be the secret main villain.
We've already wasted half of Chapter 4 on this and I'm on a strict one-witch-per-chapter recruitment schedule so I'm eager to get out to that desert. Unfortunately the locals in the desert-by-the-ruined-city are not too happy to see the royal knights who murdered almost all of them 3 years ago, even if it was just that big meanie traitor knight who defected to Hilda, and not our good respectable knights. We go back empty-handed because we're out of water and they won't spare us any, so we have to resupply in order to keep looking for the last witch. I spend the rest of Chapter 4 diving...er, 'tuning' Popo and Sakuya. Risette is still unable to sing or be tuned. With our supplies restocked, we set back out to the desert to try again. This time a pair of sisters greet us, Nikki and...Moldimort! Hey, that's the Witch of Earth, I saw her on the box and the opening movie! What happens next is a series of battles and story events that take my brain and start playing kickball with it. It's by far the coolest plot arc this game has had so far so I'd rather not spoil much of it here. Suffice to say that Moldimolt joins our party by the end of the chapter. Yeah, I just skipped the entirety of Chapter 5 in this blog, go play the actual game, it'll be more fun unspoiled. This chapter pretty much made up my mind that this is at least a solidly 'good' game when it comes time to review it.
Moldimolt's got issues. Serious issues. I mentioned earlier that Alto's role is more like a psychologist than a knight. The witches have problems and he's got counseling. It's a bit crazy how much more obviously in need of psychological help Moldimolt is than the other witches, though. The following scene does not exist in this game, but it should:
Setting: The tuneup facility. Alto got some unexpected time off so he can help the witches a bit. Risette, Popo and Sakuya all heard this and rushed over to see if they could get a tuning session, and they're arguing with each other over who should get the time slot for counseling.
Risette: I'm still traumatized by losing my mom and holding everyone back by not being able to sing, I could really use the tune-up. Please.
Popo: Popo's still scared of freedom and traumatized by the thought of people hating her! Popo should get to see Alto!
Sakuya: Well I've got to deal with putting on a hundred different faces and fake personalities for people and I'm sick of it, it's clearly my turn!
Moldimolt shuffles into the scene. She opens her mouth slowly to speak but then closes it again with a mumble, staring at the other three witches and the tuneup facility door with a blank look on her face. Risette, Popo and Sakuya all sigh and hold open the door for Moldimolt, tell her to take her time with Alto, and then they go out for tea and crumpets.
Yeah, she's that messed up. Also, her parents named her 'Moldimolt', what the hell were they thinking?
Next up is Chapter 6 which I'm just starting. I saw some sales numbers this morning that Stella Glow has only sold a bit over 13,000 copies in the first week, so little. Sometimes I forget just how niche these games are. Rounding Japan's population to 130 million, that means that only 0.01% of the population bought it. Less than that when you consider that some of those sales were to foreigners like me. I bought this game on release day at a medium-sized game shop in a mall with a decent-sized 3DS section and it wasn't even out on the shelves. I had to ask for it behind the counter. Meanwhile, Fire Emblem if has an entire display shelf to itself to show off ~24 empty preorder boxes. I checked the same game section again today on the way back from work, Stella Glow still isn't out on display. Sad.
Last we left off, our party now includes two of the four witches we need (water, wind) and we were heading off to recruit the Witch of Fire from a country in the far east said to have its own unique culture separated from the rest of the world this game takes place in. Yep, you guessed it. The witch here is a miko, the buildings are all Japanese-style, there's a Japanese festival going on, we've landed in not-Japan.
I was prepared to tour a country full of honorable warriors and superior culture, but this game actually defied my expectations here. Let me explain - Imageepoch is also responsible for the 7th Dragon series. 7th Dragon 2020-II was one of the biggest self-flattering depictions of Japan I've ever seen. In that game, every country except the US and Japan got decimated by the dragon invasion, and only Japan's superior dragon-killing technology and samurai honor was capable of standing up to the dragons, while the Americans played the role of arrogant and underhanded jerks trying to steal superior Japanese dragon-killing technology. Now, there's nothing wrong with that plot, it's a Japanese RPG, it's totally understandable to make your own country the hero. Just look at any American FPS to see them doing the same thing. But anyway, I was expecting that treatment here too, and boy was I mistaken. Not-Japan here in Stella Glow is full of very unflattering otaku idol-worshipper sterotypes, and Sakuya, the miko and fire witch, has a terribly rotten personality behind her miko facade. So I have to hand it to you Imageepoch, you caught me by surprise here.
Anyway, everyone lives around an active volcano that Sakuya keeps from erupting with her song magic, and that's what we've got to help her with before she'll join our party. Hilda is having none of this and is trying to kill the witches before we can recruit them, so what follows are a favorite of anyone who plays SRPGs: a battle where you have to protect NPCs that move and attack on their own! A little girl in a bunny hood attacks us with her dolls and we have to protect Sakuya or it's game over, so of course she charges headfirst into the middle of the enemy forces. A lucky miss from an enemy saves her life in time for me to get Risette to heal her and the rest of the party to reform around her, and we clean up the puppets and rabbit-ear-pajama puppetmaster.
The last fight in this chapter is actually two consecutive fights - first we've got to tune Sakuya like we did with Popo earlier. Her spirit world isn't hide-and-seek like Popo's, just a simple beatdown of enemies. The hard part comes after - I was not prepared for this next, final battle in Chapter 3. Underleveled and undergeared, I gave up on the bonus mission objectives as my party started getting KO'd one after another. It was a nailbiter but in the end, I got the boss cornered with just a couple HP left and two characters with a turn before her. Two characters will both get a swipe at her before her turn arrives (at which point she'll swipe at Alto and knock him out, and if he goes down it's game over), and they each have an 80% chance to hit! Whew, I guess we're safe. Well, you can guess how that worked out. 20% chance to miss * 20% chance to miss = 4% chance of this failing, but that's SRPG hit % for you. Never there for you when you really need it. I missed both attacks and died. Instead of risking another close battle like that, I went back and bought fire-resist rings, leveled up a bit, and curb-stomped this battle the second time. Not as dramatic as I'd like, but it's the RNG's fault for denying me a ridiculously close win the first time, so I'll take what I can get.
Next up in Chapter 4 we're off to find the Witch of Earth before Hilda can get to her. With the weekend over, my next update might be a while off. I'm enjoying this game quite a bit so far, though.
Back to Part 2 On to Part 4
Reached the end of Chapter 2 in Stella Glow. Last we left off, our merry band of knights was trying to recruit the Witch of Wind, Popo. Popo is pretty badass, mostly because she can fly and there are a lot of cliffs in this chapter. We have three knights in our party - the knight captain Klaus is an all-around powerhouse character with average movement, but high attack power, long reach with a lance, and even healing magic. Rusty is a light-armor scout/rogue type character despite being a member of knighthood, throwing or slashing with kukri in combat. He's a complete lifesaver because of his amazing movement and jump - it's no use having high attack power if you can't reach the enemies or reposition yourself out of getting back attacked. Last in our knight squad is Archibald, an all-business beefy tank of a man who moves at the speed of a glacier. He's strong but he can't ever reach anyone. I forsee him being benched from my team pretty quickly.
We also have Yuan, a 13 year old merchant who is a lot smarter than he should be for his age, pissing off certain members of the party. He's got a valuable information network though, so he's coming with us. In battle he uses guns, can open doors and chests without needing to waste time destroying them, and some of his special attacks are activated using gold instead of SP. I don't have anything against the brat but I see him getting benched pretty quick as I recruit more witches.
Speaking of witches, song magic was finally unlocked. But before we can use it, Alto has to go through more tutorials on how to do 'tuning', this game's version of diving. There seem to be two varieties - one where the whole party helps suppress the berserk witch, which is basically just a normal battle in her spirit world with the witch's familiars, and a victory condition of getting Alto to the square next to the witch. The other type is a one-on-one tuning session that involves an SRPG-grid game of cat-and-mouse and moving platforms. Bring Alto to the square next to the witch successfully and it's time for some dialogue to help her solve some of her worries, ala Ar Tonelico or Fate/Extra CCC. Anyway, with that finished, now Popo can really sing.
Our first witch (Rizette, witch of water and adoptive sister of the protagonist) can't sing yet, but Popo can. She can sing alone shortly for a pretty impressive AoE damage attack, or if the song gauge is charged, Alto can make her sing a really amazing channeled song that prevents all enemies on the field from attacking for one turn, and then lowers their defense while she sings for two more turns. By 'make her sing', I mean Alto takes a magic dagger and stabs Popo in the chest with it. What is it with these games and needing to penetrate the songstress? Ar Tonelico had those crystals, Stella Glow has this dagger. This is totally not sex. Whatever, you j-j-jam it in the witch with the holy dagger and she starts channeling this super 'ensemble' song. The battlefield music changes to a full-length song (I quite like how the first one unlocked here sounds) and everything turns green with glittering leaves spinning around when Popo starts singing. Anyway, we solve Popo's problems (and boy, did she have a doozy of a plot going on around her), and we're off to find the third witch. Sakuya, the Witch of Fire, lives in a land to the far east with its own unique culture. I'm sure this won't be this game's obligatory mini-Japan, Stella Glow has been so good about avoiding tropes so far, after all...
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Random JRPG blogging about the games I'm currently playing.