In this update, I completely waste the extra time Mammon bought me. It's Ashmedia's turn and I had things all planned out on how to raise her to battle the last form of Trillion, but it didn't quite work out the way I hoped. Anyway, about Ashmedia, she has some amusing events if you take some time out of training to talk with her, but mostly she's a one-gag character like Perpell was. During her training time we also get some new scenes with Faust where Zerbolos finally asks her who or what exactly she is. She's not an angel or a demon and doesn't seem to be a human either, and she knows about the whole 'multiple dimensions existing' thing which even Zerbolos as Great Demon Lord didn't know about, but she's not in the mood to answer. Ashmedia has taken a liking to Faust and sits around watching her research in the lab a lot and asking questions, apparently Ashmedia used to spend most of her time bothering Levia instead, but since she's dead now Faust will have to do.
Once again Ruche gets the lion's share of character development even though it's not her chapter, dealing with her dead sister and dad. I know the game is pushing her hard but I can't help but take a liking to her anyway. Uriel continues on his so-far mostly unsuccessful quest to win Elma's affection and helps train Ashmedia - he unlocks a new training option that raises all stats instead of just one, but also heavily increases fatigue. There are items that remove fatigue without resting, so if you have some saved up you can probably raise power pretty effectively with his training. I didn't expect Ashmedia to be able to finish off Trillion though, I was expecting that task would fall to Ruche, so I ended up saving most of my good items and dungeon tokens for the next run.
I thought I maybe had a chance to end it with Ashmedia, though. I had what I thought was a good plan from what I observed fighting Trillion's final form briefly with Mammon. Problems: Trillion has too many attacks to reliably dodge them all, and it's incredibly hard to get close to her. Solution: Have Mammon seal off Trillion's main body section to get rid of the biggest area attack, and turn Ashmedia into a sturdy character who can take some hits, but attacks from range with magic. It sounded like a good plan, but one detail completely ruined it all - this plan relied on using the main ranged magical attack for damage output, but Trillion has an ability where any after using any special attack on her twice, it stops doing any damage after the second time for the rest of the fight. I only hit her once with Mammon so I didn't know about this. So in other words, the only thing it seems you can actually rely on is your regular standard melee attack since that never stops doing damage. Also, with Trillion's main body section sealed off, it is actually perfectly feasible to dodge everything else, so the points I spent raising Ashmedia's HP, DEF, RES were all wasted too. I had a magical attacker with high defense and low firepower, the exact opposite of what I needed. I tried my best with what I had to work with, but in the end Ashmedia only took off about 2.6% of Trillion's health with her pathetic physical attacks before running out of mana and dying. For her dying attack, I chose the option that powers up the next Demon Lord's weapon, since it seems like having a strong normal attack is the key here.
The castle's gotten pretty quiet, the only Demon Lords left are Ruche and Fegor. Trillion's messenger from earlier crashes the party again to tell us that resistance is futile, blah blah, but this time Ruche openly asks the messenger if he's her dad, Astaroth. I guess this really was supposed to be a huge surprise to everyone - I won't even say 'I called it', it was obvious from the start, but the characters are all shocked and don't believe it. Ruche insists that she knows her dad's mannerisms and that it's him inside there, but Zerbolos and Fegor can't tell that it's their brother and the intruder himself is staying quiet and refusing to answer.
Faust offers to check it herself - she carries around a grimoire that she can use to confirm the identity of any soul she's seen before, and she was there watching when Astaroth died so he should be in her book too. Sure enough, she confirms it's Astaroth and now Zerbolos and Fegor are in a panic too (well, maybe not Fegor, she can't seem to get too excited about anything, sloth and all that). He still insists he's just a representative of Trillion though, and Faust thinks he's just a mind-slave of Trillion (yeah yeah, called that too) and there's probably not much of him left in there. Astaroth leaves with everyone except the player recovering from the shock of the revelation.
Anyway, Ruche is up next. Since fighting Trillion also means fighting her dad by proxy, Zerbolos and Fegor ask her if she's still okay with it, and she is. She'll end her dad's suffering herself, and points out that Fegor would be fighting family too just the same as her since Astaroth is her brother. So there's no point changing the order, she'll do it and become the next Great Demon Lord. The game's really built hype for her turn up a lot - she's the one who appears to actually want the position of next ruler of the underworld the most. Her attribute is Pride, and she's suffered a lot of blows to that what with her dad losing to Zerbolos in the contest to become Great Demon Lord, then her dad losing to Trillion and becoming his puppet, and then her younger sister Perpell dying too.
I'm cheering for her. I'm at a point in the game where if I fail to kill Trillion with Ruche, I'm going to feel just awful about it. I think that's what the game has been aiming at this whole time, but the first few Demon Lords it doesn't really work that well because as the player you know it's not really your fault, it's not reasonable to expect to beat Trillion that quickly. So when they die, it's the game's fault, the player doesn't really feel that personally responsible. I'm well aware that if I hadn't screwed up so badly with Ashmedia I could have maybe already ended this though, so if I fail here it will be my fault if Ruche dies. This is looking difficult, though - Trillion still has 32% health remaining and what I need is a physical attacker to get in there and smack Trillion around up close, but Ruche's initial skills and stats indicate that she's more of a magic attacker. Also, my training with Perpell and Ashmedia was mostly magic stats, so she'll be counting mostly on the inherited physical attack power from Levia and Mammon. On the positive side, I've saved up most of my gold so far and I have lots of dungeon diving coins saved up that I didn't use on Ashmedia last time. So I've got to transform Ruche into a melee attacking beast who is good at breaking Trillion's parts. I hope my next update is of victory in her fight against Trillion and not a postmortem, but it's going to be rough.
Last we left off, Zerbolos decided to be the worst uncle imaginable and let Perpell be the next candidate to fight Trillion. This whole thing was just sad, and not in the 'makes you want to cry' way, but more in the 'I can't believe anyone thought this was a good idea' way. Again, regardless of appearance (Ruche and Fegor look about the same age), Perpell actually acts like a kid. She gets motivated for training by being promised snacks after, needs to be babied by her sister Ruche and uncle to stay focused, and her goal when she becomes Great Demon Lord is to turn the underworld's castle into a candy house. The characters may think she has a chance because she's still a powerful Demon Lord, but the player knows it's a suicide mission this early in the game. Oh well. I made her into a mage and completely ignored defensive stats (HP, Def, Res) since from Levia's run it seemed like a better idea to just not get hit in the first place, Trillion is easy to dodge (for now).
During Perpell's time as the candidate, we actually get more character development from other characters like Zerbolos, Ruche and Faust than from her. This may be my fault for not focusing on raising her affection and just sticking to training. We get more details about why Zerbolos became Great Demon Lord instead of his older brother Astaroth or older sister Fegor - last time the underworld and heaven fought, Zerbolos defeated the Archangel Michael in combat, proving he was the strongest. Ruche is still a bit bitter about her dad being weak, and how he became distant to his daughters after his wife died. Zerbolos takes some time to wonder why heaven hasn't taken the chance to cause some trouble now that the underworld is occupied with Trillion - they've been too quiet lately.
The allotted time passes and it's time for Perpell to go out. Uncle Zerbolos gives her a ride on his shoulders before sending her off to be slaughtered by a world-eating monster. I let Trillion break through our defenses twice to get more time to train and deal damage to him, and did a pretty nice amount of damage to Trillion, brought him down to 70.2% HP before Perpell finally died. Perpell's death reminded me of the deaths of certain other characters in the Conquest route of Neptune mk2, I thought Compile Heart got enough flak from their fans over that ending to make them stop pulling this shit, but I guess not. She dies crying that she's hungry and wants to go home, and Trillion crushes her with disgustingly vivid bone-cracking sound effects and red bloody screen flashes. I felt a bit sick to my stomach. For her dying attack I chose the option to seal Trillion temporarily to give the next Demon Lord more training time. Good job Zerbolos, your brother's dying wish was to look after his daughters and instead you just sent one of them his way early. He screams and gets mad like he did with Levia, but come on, you could have just told her no, this is all on you, buddy.
Let's just forget all that even happened, shall we? Yeah, let's move on to the next Demon Lord, Mammon. As we pass the ring on to her, another unwelcome visitor appears - this time it's an injured angel who landed in front of the castle. We take him in and have Elma start looking after him while he's unconscious, the rest of us have got to focus on training our next candidate. Mammon's attribute is Greed, but as an adventurer and dungeon-diver she seems to earn most of her money the fair way, and is surprisingly down to earth. She grew up in the slums and when she becomes Great Demon Lord she wants to take care of the poor and hungry demons like the ones she grew up with, a pretty angelic objective for a demon.
I started offloading presents to her and realized that I made a big mistake earlier - each present can be a bad, okay, or good match for a given Demon Lord - one they don't like may raise affection 1% while a good one could raise it 5%. While I was looking through for things that sounded good for Mammon, I found I had two lockpick sets (perfect for an adventurer, right?) - giving this item actually triggered a special event just for it and raised her affection 25% in one go, and another 25% with the other one. Add some regular gifts along the way and she was at 100% easily, I'm sure if I had tested the presents with Levia and Perpell I could have gotten them to 100% too regardless of the whole 1/3 getting/receiving ratio if I found their 'special' present. Whoops.
Since the whole glass cannon build was working so far, I did the same for Mammon - almost nothing allotted to HP, DEF or RES. All into attack power, mana (to be able to cast her main attack from range), and speed. When it came time to fight Trillion, the fight ended almost as soon as it started once he hit 70% and changed form into a dragon-looking thing. The game pulled me out of the fight and gave me another 2 weeks to train while everyone fussed about why Trillion was transforming. Faust thinks it's because he finally sees us as a real threat and is evolving to cope with it. She adjusts Mokujin so that he mimics dragon-form Trillion now for us to practice against. Mammon tells Zerbolos that when she's Great Demon Lord she's going to take him as her prize and to look forward to it, what a gal.
Anyway, a short weeks of training later and Mammon completely broke the game, I don't think I was supposed to do this well. In my fight against dragon-form Trillion she took him from 0.7 trillion to 0.35 trillion HP all by herself with some fancy manuevering and abuse of a stacking skill that keeps piling up damage bonuses if you don't move. The trick is that some attacks will move your character for you, and they don't stop that bonus from stacking, only regular movement does. So pumping her main attack to max while leaving the movement abilities at Lv.1 so they're cheap to cast means it just keeps stacking to the max of 200% bonus damage, and since I already built her like a glass cannon, it was brutal. Trillion changed from AGAIN (so Mammon dealt the finishing blow to both forms!) at 0.35 trillion HP remaining, turns out Trillion's true form is...this. Okay, sure, why not? I guess I have to start calling Trillion 'she' now.
My luck with Mammon wasn't about to hold out for Trillion's third form, since now she starts having an even more insane amount of moves and spreads area damage effects throughout the whole map making my whole 'glass cannon' thing not so effective since I can't easily avoid it. Mammon got one hit on the final form of Trillion until her time was finally up. I had her seal off one of Trillion's final form parts with her dying attack since I seriously doubt I'll need more time with how overkill I just went. A tutorial popped up explaining that Trillion's final form cannot be run from, you can only try your luck against it once per Demon Lord, but I have 3 left so I think I should be okay.
Back at base, after we're done mourning for Mammon we get news from Elma that the angel who fell here earlier has woken up. It's Archangel Uriel, and he's an arrogant little brat who has the hots for Elma, but more importantly he's come to inform us that Trillion already devoured heaven's core and the human world's core. Heaven is in shambles and hanging by a thread, while the human world is already annihilated, so he's here to beg for our help defeating Trillion. He's not good at begging, what with what a haughty jerk he is, but we planned to beat Trillion anyway and he agrees to help with our training. He goes back to get some rest after everyone smacks him around a bit and warns him that if he tries to pull any moves on Elma he's going to be fed to Cerberus. He also tries to give us a holy relic, but the demons aren't too fond of it because it's so bright and holy, and we throw that piece of junk in the storage shed way in the back so it won't ruin our underworld groove, much to Uriel's indignation.
I thought the game would give me another selection screen with Fegor, Ashmedia and Ruche to choose from this time, but this time the order is fixed. Ruche asks Ashmedia and Fegor to stand down and let her go and claims to have a good reason, but she can't say what it is. Zerbolos and Faust don't want to send her out unless she'll come clean with what the reason is, but she can't spit it out, so we eventually decide to just go by order of territory controlled by each Demon Lord. That means the order will be Ashmedia, Ruche, and then Fegor last. So Ashmedia's up next, her attribute is Lust and her character so far has just been making innuendo out of every conversation, we'll see if she gets anything more interesting. Fegor's attribute is Sloth, which is fitting because she might get to be so lazy as to not even have to fight, with Trillion at only 35% it seems likely I can finish this with Ashmedia or Ruche.
Perpell's whole character and death left a bad taste in my mouth and I'd be lying if I wasn't a little disappointed at how easily I wrecked dragon-form Trillion, but it is fun how each Demon Lord inherits stats from the last one. It's a cheap way to elict sympathy by making you spend time with a character one by one and then killing them off, but it's effective and it's what this whole game is about so I really can't complain, I knew what I was getting into. I feel like the game is showing a lot of favoritism towards Ruche, out of the Demon Lords she's been getting most of the character development. Faust is the best girl, though.
It's time for Levia to do her best with the limited time we have until Trillion wakes up. Faust has created a wooden practice dummy called Mokujin from the battle data of Zerbolos' fight with Trillion and we have Levia battle it to see how the situation looks. It looks bad, I lost this fight handily. Faust is not surprised, and she muses about how things are probably going to be hopeless 'this time'. What do you mean 'this time?' everyone wants to know - and Faust explains that there's almost no chance that Levia can win, but that her power will be passed on through the ring after she dies to the next Demon Lord like Zerbolos' power was passed on to her, and she can at least deal some damage to Trillion and slow him down in the meantime. Zerbolos is not happy about this, he's not into the idea of sending his demon lords on suicide missions, but there's no choice but to train hard and hope for the best.
Zerbolos' ancestor (she really hates when he calls her grandma, even if she is) shows up and talks about how the fight went the first time Trillion showed up. She's dead but it doesn't seem to be that big a deal, she's just got some will-o-wisp ghost things circling her, but being dead doesn't seem too bad. Anyway, she recounts how last time, everyone got obliterated and Trillion devoured the magical core of the netherworld and then left, and her husband, the Great Demon Lord at the time, made a new core out of his own heart. So Trillion just stops by worlds to devour their tasty creamy centers and then leaves, it seems. Well we're not about to let Trillion eat our core a second time, are we? Back to training.
A variety of events can randomly trigger each day, with random good or bad effects on training. For example, Cerberus might dig something up and it could be a good item or a bad curse. One of the trainers may offer a special training course and it could teach the demon lord a new skill, or it could just make her fatigued. There are probably a dozen or so of these events, and I can't really tell when it's best to go along with them (accept the training, dig up the item, etc.) and take a chance, and when to decline them (nothing good or bad happens). It's entirely possible for a patient person to just save and reload constantly whenever anything bad happens, but that's no fun. Once a week, we have a practice fight against Mokujin to prepare ourselves for the battle with Trillion. If you win (which is easy after the first fight, at least so far), you can get some nice experience out of it.
Faust eventually comes up with another invention - a piglike suit of armor that can withstand Trillion's demon-killing aura. The catch? An actual soul needs to be placed inside the suit for it to move, and these things are almost guaranteed to die in the actual fight against Trillion, although they can assist by engaging the summoned smaller enemies and letting the Demon Lord focus on Trillion. So again, it's a suicide mission - Zerbolos is not happy about this either, but countless denizens of the netherworld are actually clamoring to volunteer for the job despite knowing the consequences because they want to protect their home, so he reluctantly gives his okay to produce more suits for the volunteers. We can equip these on our demon lords according to their Capacity (CAP) stat, higher CAP means more followers that can be taken into battle against Trillion.
There is also an affection meter for the demon lord - this can be raised by spending time with them (instead of training) and by giving presents. You can give 3 presents per day, but you only get at most one present per day from the game. Damn, I really messed up by picking a character that I like first, not only will Levia die a horrible death, I decided that I probably wouldn't be able to max her affection so I decided to save presents and time for later demon lords and just focus on training. We get some story events with Levia as her training progresses, she's the jealous type as her 'envy' trait suggests, but she's always been a good childhood friend of Zerbolos and does her best for him in whatever way she can. She's one of the few options that would be a perfectly fine candidate for Zerbolos to have a romantic ending with, considering her age and the fact that some of the other Demon Lords are Zerbolos' nieces or sisters. Bah. I'm sure this game has a New Game+ element to it, I'll max her affection next run, sorry Levia. It's almost time for our first fight against Trillion, we have a big dinner together with all the demon lords, probably the last time everyone will be able to eat together.
It's time, and Levia heads out to fight Trillion. There are actually three possible outcomes to a fight against Trillion - death of the Demon Lord, retreat, or Trillion breaking through the defense line. Trillion jumps forward every now and then on the map, and if he gets past a certain point it's treated as a loss and the fight ends. If you retreat or if Trillion breaks though the line, Trillion devours some of the netherworld and you get some more time to raise the same Demon Lord while Trillion takes a short break. It's Game Over (as in, bad ending I guess) if Trillion devours his way all the way to the netherworld's core. This is a really dizzying array of choices - I guess I lose if all my Demon Lords die, but I also lose if I keep retreating (and each time you retreat, the time until he re-awakens gets shorter and shorter) and he eats the core. I wasn't really sure what to do, but Levia survived her first battle with Trillion and he broke through the line and ended the fight that way. He ate some chunks of the netherworld and I got another 3 weeks to train Levia. I only did about 1% damage to Trillion in this first fight, and also learned that breaking Trillion's parts (I broke his tail and right hand) are not permanent, they grow back each fight. Wailing on his tail after beaking it seems to be good for damage, so I decided to focus on that next time, since dodging his attacks wasn't too hard.
There's a second gauge in combat, the feelings gauge, which increases from the various training and character events you do. It gets used up first in fights instead of HP and MP - for example, if you have feelings gauge above 0, spellcasting will use feelings instead of MP. If you get hit, it comes out of the feelings gauge before it comes out of HP. Also, when this gauge is depleted, the option to 'retreat' becomes unselectable. I don't know what's best to do when it comes to retreating, but with Trillion's sleep period getting shorter each time and the feelings gauge resetting to 0, trying to prolong the inevitable seemed like a bad idea, so I pumped everything into Levia's attack, speed, and her main damage ability for the next fight.
Round 2 against Trillion - this time I got the hang of things better and broke his tail quickly, and immediately started wailing on him with everything I had, emptying the feelings gauge and not even thinking about retreating or letting Trillion break through this time. It was a good fight - I took out 7.5% of his total HP before Levia finally fell. Of course 100%/6 Demon Lords = 16.7%, but since each Demon Lord should inherit some stats from the last one, each should do more damage than the last did, so I think 7.5% was a fine result.
Levia realizes she's about to die and throws everything into one last attack - the game gives you a choice of how to use this final dying attack. You can use it to do huge damage, to seal off one of Trillion's parts permanently, to increase the time available for the next Demon Lord, and a few other choices. Once again I have no idea what's best to do here, so I chose to seal off Trillion's right hand part. As everyone else watches on the monitor from the throne room, Levia's final attack destroys Trillion's right hand and Trillion kills her. She says she's happy that she got to spend a few weeks with Zerbolos and wishes that she could see him cry for her too, which he's doing quite a bit in the throne room as everyone looks on in horror at her death.
After we're done grieving, it's time to move onward - the ring returns to Faust's hand with Levia's power in it, ready to be passed on to the next Demon Lord. Before that though, someone shows up who introduces himself as a messenger for Trillion - he says that if Zerbolos gives him the lives of all the Demon Lords, he'll leave their world in peace without devouring its core. Zerbolos refuses, and Ruche realizes that he's lying anyway, he would have just taken both their lives and the core. Ah, but how could she know his quirks so well to tell that he was lying? Come on game, we all know that's Astraroth there that Trillion brought back to life as a mind slave or something, don't expect anyone to be surprised later. He leaves and we get back to planning.
Okay, so the choices are still just the original 3 who volunteered - with Levia dead, that means it's between Perpell and Mammon. This time I'm going with one that I'm not too interested in, I won't make the same mistake as last time. Mammon seems okay, so I'll save her for third so that I can max her affection, so this time it's Perpell's turn. Perpell is actually also Astaroth's daughter, and she's a lot more childish than Ruche. I'm not just talking about appearance since 'they're actually thousands of years old' is par the course for these games, but personality. Her attribute is gluttony, and all she's really done so far is talk about wanting to eat sweets. She should probably be practicing her multiplication tables, not being sent on a suicide mission against Trillion, but she is a proper Demon Lord and it's a desperate fight, so I guess we're doing this. This is your niece Zerbolos, and Astraroth's last wish was to watch after his daughters, so it would have been nice for you to tell her no, but that's hoping for too much.
So it's time to continue the fight against Trillion, this time with Perpell training for the next battle. She inherits a portion of Levia's stats from last time, and I decide to build her into a magic-user since I had Levia be physical attack-based and Mammon also seems like a physical character. Worst case is that it doesn't work out but she passes that magic on to other Demon Lords who are clearly magic-users, so let's give it a try. Faust runs a shop with gear and the gear she offers gets stronger (and more expensive) as time goes on too. So again I'll be forgetting about raising affection and focusing on combat - 3 presents per day / getting 1 present per day = 2 out of the 6 demon lords you can give max presents to. I'll see about maxing Mammon out, and then I'm not sure who. I would have chosen Levia, but she's kind of dead now, again kicking myself there for choosing her first. Maybe the other one will be Ruche, I'd like to see if we can wipe that smug grin off her face at some point. I expect that not all the paths are romantic considering that Fegor is Zerbolos' older sister and Ruche and Perpell are his nieces, let's try and not make Astraroth's ghost angry, okay Zerbolos?
(Note: This is a blog of my playthrough of Makaishin Trillion. It is full of spoilers. If you're looking for my review of the game, please click here instead.)
Compile Heart's latest game Makaishin Trillion gives off major Disgaea vibes, and there's good reason for that, since many of the old Disgaea team left NIS and worked on this title. Let's see how it turned out. Our protagonist is Zerbolos, the ruling Demon Lord of the underworld. Suddenly appearing at the gates of hell is an incredibly powerful world-destroying monster that they know as the 'Demon Destroyer God' (Makaishin). On a side-note, I really wish the localizers would hurry and decide on an official translation or title for this so that I could use that instead, but oh well. Trillion brought the underworld to the brink of destruction several generations earlier, and now he's shown up again.
Unfortunately, the Demon Lords assigned to guarding the gates of hell are off on irresponsible personal errands (Perpell, Demon Lord of Gluttony, is busy snacking and Mammon, Demon Lord of Greed, is off gathering treasure in dungeons). Zerbolos' older brother Astaroth asks to be sent out to dispatch Trillion, and Zerbolos reluctantly gives him permission to go buy them some time. He's sent off by worried younger sister Elma, who is so sickly that she carries an I.V. drip around on her staff. She sends her guard-dog Cerberus with Astaroth to help him. Meanwhile the royal advisor is sent off to gather up the remaining Demon Lords so that they can go assist Astaroth.
Only a short time later, we get word in the throne room that Astraroth's forces have been completely wiped out - they were the best troops in the underworld and there were thousands of them, and they're all dead. Zerbolos heads out for some revenge - along the way his own underlings start falling dead, Trillion has an intense aura that kills off lesser demons on contact, anyone below Demon Lord-class can't even get close to him, so Zerbolos heads on alone, just in time to see Astraroth in Trillion's claws. Astraroth asks Zerbolos to look after his daughters, and to run, seconds before Trillion devours him whole.
Zerbolos goes berserk and attacks Trillion, and we get a tutorial explaining how fights against Trillion work. The battlefield is a grid but it's more responsive than your typical SRPG grid, the gameplay is more like a roguelike game. Each time you make a move, the enemy also gets to make a move - the moves happen at the same time. Trillion has one trillion HP and four parts, the goal is to dodge his attacks and get close enough to attack his main parts to destroy them. Destroying his parts will take away some of his attacks and weaken him. That's what the tutorial screens said anyway, it wasn't too relevant here because I got 4 or 5 hits on him that took less than 1% of his HP away before I was obliterated.
Everything goes dark, and a voice calls out to Zerbolos asking him if he wants power. This is a JRPG, the answer is always yes. The voice says that in exchange for power, Zerbolos must give his soul, and he still says yes, anything to get revenge on Trillion and protect the underworld. We come to in Zerbolos' room, and the person behind the mysterious voice introduces herself as Faust. Zerbolos is pissed because his body is a complete wreck, he's a patchwork abomination who looks like a zombie and he's barely alive, much less in any condition to fight Trillion. Faust tells him that yes, it's already far too late for him to ever see combat again with his ruined body. As long as he's alive there's still hope of defeating Trillion though, and she plans to help however she can in accomplishing this. Elma is happy that her brother is still alive even if he does look like a battered zombie now, and informs them that the Demon Lords have been gathered in the main hall.
The Demon Lords are all assembled here - each of them represents one of the deadly sins. We have Ruche (Pride), Levia (Envy), Fegor (Sloth), Mammon (Greed), Perpell (Gluttony), and Ashmedia (Lust) all gathered to hear what's going on. Faust explains that Trillion is currently in sleep-mode, staying put by the gates of hell after it took Zerbolos' last attack, but that it will soon re-activate. While sleeping, its demon-killer aura is even stronger than while awake, so they can't just leave it alone or the underworld will be wiped out eventually. To even get close to it requires wearing a special ring made by Faust from a piece of Zerbolos' soul, but she could only make one ring. In other words, only one person at a time can attempt to battle Trillion.
The Demon Lords have varying reactions to this whole situation - Ruche doesn't want anything to do with it, doesn't trust Faust, and is probably still hurt about her dad Astaroth dying even if she doesn't show it. The three who do volunteer for the task are Levia, Mammon and Perpell. Levia is Zerbolos' childhood friend and very friendly towards him, always getting mad at the other demons for being disrespectful to him. Mammon and Perpell volunteer because they feel bad about shirking their gate-guarding duty from earlier. So it's decided, we'll choose one of the three to be the first to try taking down Trillion. Mammon asks afterwards if there will be any reward for the winner - Zerbolos says that since the underworld's leader is decided by power, the reward will be becoming the next Great Demon Lord, ruler of the underworld. Now Ruche is suddenly pissed that she didn't volunteer and wants to be sent out, but Zerbolos tells her nope, it's a volunteer-only job and the three who volunteered before the prize was announced get first dibs. After the meeting, Faust points out that Zerbolos didn't tell any of the Demon Lords about their contract, about how when this is all over Faust gets his soul. He says it's fine, after Trillion's dead she can have his soul and a new Great Demon Lord can rule the underworld. I guess Earth literature isn't too popular in the underworld if none of the Demon Lords know what making a deal with someone named Faust means (yes I realize Faust was the one who sold his soul in the story, but this time it's a demon selling his soul, so it's the other way around now).
So here's where the player gets to decide who will be the first to try their luck against Trillion. The chosen Demon Lord will wear the ring that Faust crafted which will bestow her with a portion of Zerbolos' power, and will spend the time until Trillion re-awakens training herself and getting stronger in preparation for the battle. The choices are the three who volunteered from earlier - Levia, Mammon or Perpell. I went with Levia, I like her design the best out of the choices. Thinking about it though, there's no way she'll be able to beat Trillion since she's the first one up, so isn't being picked first a certain death sentence?
Oh well, she's happy to take on the task and next the game explains how raising the Demon Lord works. You have a certain number of days until Trillion awakens, and you can use those days doing various tasks, like training different attributes and using those points to strenghen the chosen Demon Lord's stats. As training proceeds, you'll get tokens which can be used to go dungeon diving for treasure and experience - again, the system here is similar to the fights against Trillion, the enemies and you move at the same time. You have a limited number of turns to explore the dungeon and gather treasure/defeat enemies and then you must find an exit to escape, or else you'll lose everything you gathered in the dungeon so far. The resources (experience, tokens, money, equipment) must all be prepared in order to face Trillion when the timer hits. You can check on Trillion's status from the menu at any time - right now for me, he's at 99.9% health with all four parts in perfect condition. I imagine as the game goes on and we throw more and more Demon Lords under the bus to injure him, his condition will slowly get whittled down more. This actually looks like a pretty fun system, I'm looking forward to exploring it more. I'm not going to use any wiki or 2ch thread help on my first playthrough if I can help it, so this run may be pretty tragic. It would be a shame if I lost every one of the Demon Lords without taking Trillion down, but let's see how it goes.
By the way, this isn't a 3DS resolution game anymore like my Fire Emblem and Stella Glow plays, so you can click any of the images here to show the full-res screenshots.
After finishing Fire Emblem if, I need a game to fill the time until my highly anticipated Yoru no Nai Kuni releases. Looking around at recently released (or about-to-be-released) games, it seems my options are Makashin Trillion, Langrisser Re:Incarnation, and Ray Gigant.
I unfortunately don't have experience with the Langrisser or Growlanser series so the idea of a reboot doesn't ring any nostalgic bells for me, and I've heard that the real fans of that series are also not really into the idea of the reboot. Looking over the gameplay, it also looks too similar to Fire Emblem, which I just finished playing. Pass.
Ray Gigant looks interesting. I have mixed experience with Experience DRPGs (hohoho), they're hit or miss to me. The main attraction for this one seems to be the very pretty in-battle character graphics - they definitely do look nice. I might come back to this game if I end up finishing Trillion with time to spare before Yoru no Nai Kuni comes out.
So I ended up buying Makaishin Trillion, which just came out today. It's a Compile Heart title, which means that it's best to go in without too high expectations. I've heard this one actually got fairly high reviews from mainstream review sites though, which is surprising (because again, it's Compile Heart). The impressions I get from the trailer is that it's half a character-raising game, so a bit different from your normal SRPG. That sounds interesting, and I'm a bit burnt out on SRPGs having just played through Stella Glow and Fire Emblem in a row. Word is that when NIS lost a lot of employees, a lot of them went to Compile Heart to work on this game. It will be interesting to compare it to Disgaea 5, to see which team ended up doing a better job in the end.
While I was buying Trillion, I saw that Sega already has a giant display up for the new 7th Dragon game which doesn't even come out for another 3 months. We'll have to see if game quality is affected after Sega takes over all of Imageepoch's old IPs, but one thing I can say is that they advertise well. It's going to be a busy remainder of 2015 for JRPGs - after Trillion I have Yoru no Nai Kuni in late August, then Atelier Sophie and Utawarerumono in late September, and 7th Dragon in October. Star Ocean 5 and a half-dozen other titles are also looking to be late-2015 releases. The first half of this year was pretty dry, but things are looking up for Q3 and Q4.
My review of Fire Emblem if is up.
Let's see how things concluded in the final route of this game. In what is hopefully not a surprise to anyone, Rontao ended up tricking and betraying Kamui, luring him off alone to be assassinated. This time Kamui was at least cautious enough to leave his siblings a note before going off alone with the incredibly suspicious kid though, so they show up and save him. Ryouma tells Kamui that it's okay for him to be naive, that's what makes people like him so much, so he can just keep trusting people no matter what and the rest of them can just watch his back. Something else is nagging Ryouma though - he's convinced that whoever killed Crimson on the fall down is a member of our party. He knows Kamui doesn't want to hear it but he had to say it anyway, time to set the stage for some doubt.
It's time to kill some parents! On our path of carnage advancing deeper into the Invisible Kingdom, we cut through Aqua's mom Shenmei, who is just a shadow puppet controlled by Hydra at this point, much like Takumi was back at the end of the Anya route. She throws a Hydra-controlled zombie Crimson at us just to add insult to injury, and we put both of them out of their misery. As a side-note, it's incredibly hard to make Crimson an intimidating enemy when she's a flying unit and any unit with a bow can wreck her so bad her ancestors probably felt it. We get some crying Aqua as Shenmei gets a little bit of her sanity back before kicking the bucket, and then we move on to none other than Empress Mikoto, who uses the last of her sanity to warn Kamui to pick the blue doors in the next dungeon we enter, where there are three sets of doors to pass. In the battle she'll tell you to open the blue one, then the blue one again, but for the last one she suddenly tells you to open the red door - do it and everyone in your party gets reduced to 1 HP, it was a trick, should've believed her back when she first met and told Kamui to only pick blue. Fortunately my Kamui is a goddamn tank as a Paladin and I was very careful before opening the red door, so a heal from Elise and a lucky miss from an enemy saved me from having to redo the map. We kill shadow-Mikoto and she also gets her sanity back for a few seconds so that all the Byakuya siblings can get the experience their mom dying in their arms a second time. She also reveals to Kamui that she's actually originally from the Invisible Kingdom - and Kamui is a rightful prince of Touma, just like Aqua is.
Next up we enter a maze, and the party splits up to search for an exit. Some amazingly fast, unseen force attacks Kamui, and Gunther shows up to wake him up - Kamui says he recognizes who it was, it was the same person that killed Crimson on the fall down. They run in the direction Gunther says he saw them go, but it's a dead-end with only Aqua there. Hmm. We're interrupted by another family reunion - this time it's the Byakuya siblings' father, Sumeragi, who is also partially possessed by Hydra. He was the shadowy figure who made Kamui's bomb-sword explode and kill Mikoto way back in the beginning of the game, and he wants to fight. We beat him down and as he's dying (again, in the arms of his kids, poor things get to see both mom and dad die a second time!) he talks about how Mikoto came to Byakuya with baby Kamui already born and he married Mikoto after.
We finally reach the throne room, and a big magical attack strikes everyone in the party except for Kamui and Aqua. Honestly the attack looked so big and sounded so bad that I thought everyone had died, but they're all fine. Gunther is pissed though, and he suddenly accuses Kamui and Aqua of being traitors - he points out that they're both of Touma Kingdom blood and that maybe they killed Crimson and now they're trying to wipe out all the Anya and Byakuya royals at once to take total control. Uh, Gunther? Kamui convinced everyone to jump off a bridge earlier, if he wanted them dead, they'd be dead.
Time for some detective work from Kamui, who is uncharactristically bright for one scene - Gunther said something about the sad sight of the scorched flower on Crimson's vest when she died during his accusation, but that flower was something that Crimson pinned on her vest just before she jumped, and she and Kamui were the last ones to jump. The flower was also blown away by the attack that killed her, so it wasn't on her corpse. In other words, the only people who possibly could have known about the flower on Crimson's vest were Kamui and the person who killed her. All eyes on Gunther. Whoops, the gig is up, Gunther walks over to the empty throne and sits on it, brimming with Hydra's power, an almost complete vessel for him. He laughs and asks Kamui if he's still going to be naive and say that he 'trusts everyone' after this, and Kamui says yep, he still trusts Gunther. Aqua uses her song to weaken Hydra for a bit while Kamui tries to call out to what's left of Gunther, and gets through to him finally, with Gunther pulling a Ryouma and impaling himself on his own sword, driving Hydra out of his body and apologizing for the trouble he caused as he lays dying. Hilariously, the JRPG rule of healing magic not working on cutscene injuries is broken as Elise and Sakura use their magic to heal Gunther right back up. Back to 100%, fit to fight in the next battle even if you want. Driving that huge sword through his own gut was but a scratch. Dramatic death denied - Kamui tells Gunther that if he wants to atone for killing Crimson (even if it was mostly Hydra's fault), he has more work to do. Gunther explains what made him susceptible to corruption in the first place - he hates royals because King Garon executed his wife and child. He hated royals for treating commoners like dirt to be stepped on, and that led to him being a corruptible target for Hydra, much like Takumi's jealousy and resentment made him an easy target.
Hydra, newly expelled from Gunther, summons King Garon. Garon is overjoyed that Gunther didn't work out, because now he gets to be Hydra's vessel! Hydra tells Garon not to get cheeky with him though and instead eats him, devours him right in front of the Anya siblings with poor Elise screaming as her dad gets eaten by a dragon. Hydra uses the dragon blood he gets from consuming Garon to take form again and it's time for the final battle with Kamui rallying everyone together and all five of their weapons joining power to evolve Kamui's sword into its final and true form. Two battles in a row with no saving allowed, first against Hydra as a giant mask, and then against Hydra in his full dragon glory as a giant enemy who must be killed in parts (two claws, head, then heart). I enjoy these motivational speeches in JRPGs and Kamui gives a decent enough one when everyone's preparing to die against Hydra's true form, but we rally together and beat him.
With the true enemy finally defeated, we're treated to a nice scene where Aqua crowns Kamui the new King of Touma, with our siblings on both sides in attendance. Kamui pledges to work with both Anya and Byakuya going forward as he begins work on reviving the ruined country. After the ceremony we stop by to talk to Aqua alone, Kamui asks if she's really okay with it. After all, she's also a rightful heir to the Invisible Kingdom. She doesn't want to be queen though, and says that the hero who wielded the legendary sword is a better fit anyway. We get to see a nice cutscene of all our brothers and sisters from both Anya and Byakuya finally getting along and pledging to work together as Kamui's siblings for everlasting peace. I'm a sucker for this kind of cheesy heroics, I enjoyed the whole ride from Gunther's betrayal up to the ending here.
Well, that's about it! My final thoughts about the game are arranged in the review mostly. Thanks for reading, if anyone actually does read this stuff. Time to find another game to kill time for a month until Yoru no Nai Kuni comes out in late August.
Covering a lot of ground with this update so again, I may get things out of order. Our mission is to convince as many allies as we can get our hands on to meet us on the day when the skies change so that we can go fight the real baddies in the Invisible Kingdom, and we stop by the neutral country where the fake Anya illusionist has been pretending to be the leader, Izana, in both previous routes. This time though, Gunther is with us and he sees right through the illusion, so a fight breaks out. We beat him down again and rescue the real Izana, but there's one more guest in the prison cell: it's Takumi! He's not all that happy to be rescued by us, but Izana convinces him to calm down while he goes and beseeches some prophecies for Kamui and co. What he doesn't tell them is that in order to receive the last prophecy, he needed to give something in exchange for the divine favor - namely, his life. As he dies he tells Takumi to take the stick out of his ass and trust Kamui, so Takumi joins up. The last prophecy was 'go meet the dragon', not much to go on but it's better than nothing. RIP Izana.
We take a boat again on our journey for friends and information, but instead of being ambushed by shadow soldiers or thieves like in the previous routes, this time we're ambushed by Flora and Camilla. Flora's ice magic is so strong that she freezes the entire surrounding waters we're sailing in and grounds all our ships for a battle - we beat them down and Camilla tells us to kill her, she's got nowhere else to go because if she goes back to Anya, Garon will surely execute her. The obvious solution is having her join us instead, so we do just that. This is good since so far we've mostly just been picking up Byakuya folks so convincing anyone else from Anya was looking less and less likely. Camilla also gets a new younger brother and sister to tease and bully in the form of Sakura and Takumi, which is especially amusing in Takumi's case.
Arriving at the neutral area with the nice opera house where Aqua danced the last two routes, we find it completely burned to the ground, the whole place crumbling. Ryouma and Marx are there with their armies, each side thinking the other is responsible for destroying the place and angry as hell about it. Actually, it was soldiers from the Invisible Kingdom but neither of them will listen, so we have a tough battle where we have to break through one side's forces to get at the Invisible Kingdom troops hiding in the middle of the map. Even after we beat the invisible guys Marx and Ryouma still don't believe us, but Aqua uses her song to calm the murderous tension in the air a bit so they at least listen to what Kamui has to say about meeting us on the given date by the endless canyon before parting ways.
Next up we run into our old friend Silas again and his Anya detachment at the border. Before the battle starts, Elise joins up and literally says 'Hey, let's take a look around the enemy forces for people who we might be able to talk to!'. Maybe this is a running gag in the series or something? Anyway, how about the two people with unique portraits, Charlotte and Benoit? Bring Elise next to them and she'll get them to join the party. She convinces Benoit by calling him kind-looking, which makes him flustered since nobody's ever called him that before. Convincing Charlotte involves namedropping herself as a royal and the possibility of making lots of money. Then we go beatdown Silas, and fortunately Kamui remembers who he is and their childhood promise again this route, so I guess it's not controlled by Kamui's gender, just by route. I don't understand why he didn't remember in the Anya route, if someone reading this has an idea please tell me.
Time to meet the Rainbow Sage again! This time Kamui's not looking for power, but for answers. Specifically, who the hell is this dragon I'm supposed to meet? After we pass the trials again, the Rainbow Sage goes ahead and evolves Kamui's sword and reveals that he is the dragon. He also namedrops the game's name by mentioning that gathering all five holy weapons together can form the legendary 'Fire Emblem'. Then he kicks the bucket from old age, RIP old dragon dude. Anyway it's almost time for the skies to change so we head back to the ravine. Ryouma and Hinoka ended up believing us, so they show up, but a huge Anya army has arrived under the command of Ganz and a fight breaks out. We win, but we're pretty out of fighting power after such a tough battle.
Our army's fatigue is about to become a problem, because a second Anya army arrives under the command of Macbeth. We fight but it quickly becomes looking hopeless as reinforcements keep surging in, and then suddenly Marx and Leon show up to save the day. They're convinced Kamui is right - it helps that somehow King Garon went full retard this route and is openly blabbing about how he wants to destroy not only Byakuya, but Anya Kingdom as well, right in front of his children, and cackling even more obviously insanely evil than before. Not even Leon and Marx could deny something was wrong after all that. The fight ends and a truce is called between Anya and Byukuya for the time being, how sweet. Now it's time for Kamui to convince everyone gathered to jump off a bridge - he expects nobody will believe him, so he comes up with a plan that he'll speak of the Invisible Kingdom to them, which will cause him to evaporate, thus proving that he's telling the truth and leaving it to his siblings and allies to finish the job. Everyone tells Kamui that's not necessary though, they'll be happy to jump off a bridge into an endless ravine for him! Wow, they sure went from 0 to 100% trust quickly. We all jump down, and the writers decide to kill off the rebel leader that Ryouma was close to, Crimson, on the fall down as someone from the Invisible Kingdom hurls a fireball at Kamui and Crimson positions herself to take the hit and dies. What's with all the poorly written, sudden, forced-feeling deaths in this game?
Now that we're in the Invisible Kingdom, Aqua can finally properly explain herself. She says that the current king of the Invisible Kingdom, Hydra, killed her father, the previous king. Touma Kingdom (the proper name for the Invisible Kingdom) used to actually be pretty prosperous before Hydra came and ruined everything - the throne in Byakuya was a gift from them from way back in the day, too. Anyway, after Hydra took over, Aqua's mother Shenmei fled with her to the outside world and Hydra has been plotting to rule the world...or destroy it...or both, ever since. So our objective is now clear - give this Hydra guy a royal beatdown. After fighting through some Invisible Kingdom forces, a kid named Rontao claiming to be a page from the castle asks us to help him escape and we convince him to instead lead us back to the castle. Along the way Takumi almost falls down a cliff with Leon saving him, and Marx is very distrustful of this Rontau kid, thinking he may have purposely been leading them into traps, and the other Anya royals agree that he's super suspicious. Kamui is having none of it though and gives the kid his absolute trust. We'll see how that works out.
Still quite a few more chapters to go (8 more, I believe), we'll probably be attacking the royal city proper from here on but there's plenty of room left for plot twists and the like. I can't say the writing has improved at all, but it's still better than the atrocity that was the Anya Kingdom story. That's a very low bar to pass. Crimson's death was dumb. At least now with the royals from both sides gathered together, I can access some amusing support conversations between the two of them.
Both Anya and Byakuya routes are now finished, so I can finally move on to the third and final route, the Invisible Kingdom. This route wasn't added to the game until a couple weeks after release - when you choose it, it warns you that you're meant to have played both the other routes first to enjoy it properly. I paid another 2000 yen to unlock it, bringing my total for this game to 8460 total. I really wonder how this whole DLC thing is going to go over in the west. Anyway, I spent way too long trying to design a new Kamui for the last route, but couldn't find anything I liked, so I ended up just choosing the same male Kamui design I used in Anya. I really can't stand any of the other haircuts for him. I made his secondary class Knight, since I figure I may need the defensive skills. Difficulty is Hard + Classic (permadeath), I really want to try sticking with it this time since I have some practice with the game now.
So let's hop right back in at the decision point in Chapter 6. The Anya and Byakuya siblings all call out to Kamui to join them, and Kamui explains that he can't betray either of them. The Anya royalty are his raised siblings and he considers them family, and his Byakuya siblings are his real family and pretty cool folks too. Ryouma and Marx won't take his waffling for an answer though, and a battle breaks out between the two sides over who gets to take Kamui home. Kamui looks on while his siblings from both countries fight each other and wants to get them to stop - Aqua walks on over to him and proposes a plan. God damnit, we are not listening to another of Aqua's plans, we saw how that turned out in the Anya route. Well, her brilliant plan this time is that we should attack some regular soldiers from both the Anya and Byakuya armies - that way our siblings would have to stop fighting each other and pay attention to us. Really, Aqua? REALLY? Yes, really. We are really doing this. Felicia shows up on the battlefield and frantically asks Kamui and Aqua which army we're attacking, we tell her 'both', much to the poor maid's surprise. We attack both sides, and not surprisingly, it ends with both Ryouma and Marx yelling at us about how we've betrayed their country and will be killed on sight if we show our faces again while we run for our lives.
If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you jump too? Kamui's answer is yes. With nowhere to go and being wanted outlaws in both Anya and Byakuya, the three of them decide to believe Aqua when she tells them that there's a special safe place they can go to, and all they have to do to travel there is jump off a bridge that hangs over an endless cliff. She can't tell them more than that, just 'trust me'. Well, in for a penny, in for a pound, right? Kamui agrees, and poor Felicia also follows behind as the three of them jump headfirst off a bridge. They fall for what seems like miles until they teleport completely safely into a mist-filled grassy area, which Aqua reveals to be the Invisible Kingdom. You can't speak about the Invisible Kingdom outside its borders or else you'll evaporate, which is why she couldn't tell them specifics earlier.
The ruling king of the Invisible Kingdom is named Hydra - this is the god King Garon was praying to all the time in the Anya route, if you recall. Aqua's father was the previous king before Hydra killed him, and her mother is a woman named Shenmei - again, we learned in Byakuya route that she was Garon's second wife. So now it makes sense why Aqua acted weird in both routes when Elise called her sister - she's not blood-related to any of the Anya royalty through her father or mother, she's actually the rightful princess of the Invisible Kingdom. Hydra has been turning the people against each other and brought the kingdom to ruin, and now he's pulling the strings outside in Anya and Byakuya too in order to destroy those countries as well. Our conversation gets interrupted by some of the ghostly warriors attacking us, and we meet Gunter, who also ended up here from when Ganz dropped him off the same bridge we jumped off of. He's glad to see us, and joins up.
We resolve to get Anya and Byakuya to work together to focus on the real threat of King Hydra in the Invisible Kingdom, but there's a major problem - like mentioned earlier, you are not able to speak of the Invisible Kingdom while outside it or else you'll die. So they have to try to convince both sides to trust them without explaining the reason. Also, there's a time-limit: we only have until the next time the skies change. It seems that every few dozen years, the dark skies over Anya and the bright skies over Byakuya switch sides, and at that time the entrance to the Invisible Kingdom opens and closes. We head towards Byakuya first to try our luck there, and run into the top general, Yukimura. He is incredibly not happy to see us and doesn't believe us for a second - it seems that in the chaos after Kamui ran away, Ryouma went missing and Takumi got taken captive by Anya. A fight ensues and we beat them down without killing them to get us to listen, but Ryouma's ninja retainer Saizou is still pissed and tries to self-destruct to take everyone out with him. Suzukaze and Sakura run in and stop him, saying that they believe Kamui, and they calm things down. We tell them to meet up for some cliff-diving by the bridge on the given sky-changing date if they choose to believe us and we head off, with Suzukaze and Sakura joining our party.
Next up is an almost completely re-used scene from Byakuya route where we attack some Nosferatu and they end up being people from the wind tribe - again, it's the Anya royal advisor Macbeth's doing, and again we go fight the wind tribe to test our strength and convince the village elder, same as last route. Rinka joins up with us here, helping convince Fuuga that we're not lying, since she's the daughter of the fire tribe's chieftain. Fuuga sends us off with the brat Tsukuyomi again, and we head off towards the neutral country of Izumo to learn more about Kamui's sword - the wind village elder Fuuga mentioned that it is said to 'even be capable of killing a god', so maybe it can work against Hydra. Oh good, I was worried I might end up playing a JRPG that didn't involve killing any gods for a minute here.
Hard Mode + Classic is going alright so far - it forces you to be very careful. Unlike Anya route though, I can grind as much as I want, so there's no danger of realizing you built the wrong characters or one of them hogged too much experience, so I'm just taking things slow and making sure to raise everyone I can. We recruited Lv.1 peasant girl Mozume again (she's recruitable in all three paths near the beginning) and I've been raising her into a bow-user, she's actually ridiculously strong if you take the time to level her up thanks to her unique skill that gives her higher growth rates. Right now she and Kamui are my main sources of firepower while the other support them - with endless grinding I can go pop out the child characters for any of the men in my party whenever I want to, I'll try to do that when I can so I can give some of the ones I never tried before a shot.
Time to finish the more popular version of the game up. Our party is using a secret route the Rainbow Sage told us about to sneak into the capital. We hop into the capital to find it...nearly totally deserted. Silas tells us that if people wander around outside too much, they get attacked by Nosferatu or thieves. People have little food and lead desperate lives. Ryouma promises that when he becomes king, he'll give Anya Kingdom food for free since Byakuya has so much. Speaking of thieves, a whole gang of them attack us, but we beat them down and it turns out that their leader (who we also recruited in the other route) has old ties to Byakuya, his old clan got wiped out and the remnants scattered to become thieves in Anya. He helps them sneak into a hidden underground city in exchange for Ryouma's promise to help rebuild his lost clan after the war is over. The hidden underground city is lively with civilians and merchants everywhere, and apparently the authorities don't know about it. Really? The whole capital is nearly deserted but there's a bustling underground city with what looks like hundreds or maybe even thousands of people, and it's a secret? A flower-girl calls out to us and tries to get us to buy, we're about to turn her down when...hey, it's Elise! What's she doing here? Turns out she comes here often because the rest of her family's gone wacko - Marx is cold, Leon is missing, Camilla has shut herself in her room, so Elise has been making new friends here. She offers to help guide Kamui to Garon and Marx because she thinks she can convince them to stop without fighting.
We also learn some stuff about when King Garon first started going crazy - seems it was around the time his second wife, Shenmei died. When his first wife died he swore he'd never marry again but somehow Shenmei convinced him, and he's been weird ever since she left. She's said to have had an amazing singing voice...all eyes go on Aqua and they think she's Shenmei's daughter, but Aqua's a little hesitant to confirm or deny it. We head off through some hidden passageways into the castle with Elise's guidance, but we run into Camilla on the way. Camilla has completely snapped - she says she'll slaughter everyone there except Kamui and Elise so that they can live together as a happy family again. We beat her and Kamui promises to end this so they can live as family again, and Camilla faints, carried off to get some rest by her retainers while our party marches on. We pop up right into the middle of the Anya Kingdom training grounds, with Ganz, the crazy axe-murderer guy who dropped Kamui and Gunter off a cliff at the beginning of the game, now acting as a general in the army. A fight breaks out and...once again, Lilith takes a fatal blow for Kamui, this time from Ganz's axe instead of a Nosferatu attack like in the Anya route. Pretty much the same scene otherwise, though. Poor Lilith, fated to die long after most players have forgotten she even exists outside their pocket-dimension castle in both routes.
Let's see, our remaining obstacles are Macbeth, Marx, and then Garon. Macbeth first - he takes control of Takumi and makes Takumi choke Aqua. Takumi is so obviously under control of the curse from earlier again, but Macbeth tries to make everyone think Takumi is betraying them of his own free will. Poor effort, everyone trusts Takumi by now and their trust weakens his control and buys enough time for Aqua to get loose and sing to undo the last remaining bit of his curse. We deliver a well-deserved beatdown to Macbeth, who once again pleads for his life, and since we can't stain Kamui's pure hands with even completely reasonable and necessary murder, Leon shows up again to kill him for us and wish us luck against Marx and daddy Garon. He also tells Elise that she should stay back for the next fight, things are going to get hairy. She doesn't listen, she's convinced she can convince Marx to stop fighting. We get to Marx and he demands a one-on-one duel with Kamui, which she accepts for some reason, and loses badly. Marx pulls back his sword hand to deliver the finishing blow, and...Elise jumps in front of it and takes a fatal slice. Low blow, game! It's one thing to kill off the older brothers or side-characters, but killing Elise (and in a well-animated cutscene no less) is over the line! She dies in a shocked Marx's arms begging him to stop fighting, but Marx is mad as hell now and it's time to fight. Similar to the fight against Ryouma in the Anya route, Kamui and Marx are locked in one area together, while Marx's retainers fight the rest of the party. Unlike the last route though, this time my Kamui is built to use a sword, so she just goes right over to Marx and bashes his face in within two turns to win the map. While Marx is dying, he gives us a nice line, telling Kamui "there's no point thinking about 'what if'. You can't change the path you've chosen", namedropping the game's title pretty hard. You totally can change it, Marx, you've just gotta fork out for the DLC!
Anyway, time to fight Garon. Not much to talk about here, it goes pretty much the same as it did in Anya route except with a different set of siblings delivering the encouragement as we beat him down, evolve our sword to its final form, have Kamui nearly die taking a near-fatal blow (this time meeting with Marx, Elise, Flora and Lilith in the afterlife instead) and then come back to life and kick Garon's ass after he turns into a huge dragon. Aqua once again uses the last of her power singing to weaken the final boss (dragon Garon, instead of possessed Takumi like last route), except this time we get to see her die after the battle's over, evaporating into the mist from using too much of her song. Ryouma inherits the throne with Leon and Camilla in attendance, and he promises to work together towards peace with Anya and coexist, sharing resources and food with them like he promised and all that good stuff. Leon's set to be the next King of Anya - Camilla is actually next in line for the throne, but she declined it, she doesn't want to be queen. I guess that means Anya is actually more progressive about rights of succession than Byakuya is - in the other route, Hinoka only became queen because both Ryouma and Takumi died. Even though Takumi was her younger brother, she mentioned that he was higher than her in the royal succession order. It presumably only goes to a daughter if there are no sons left in Byakuya, whereas Anya just gives it to the oldest living royal.
Overall thoughts about this route is that it was better than the Anya Kingdom route, but it still wasn't anything special. At least there were no completely retarded plans like last route, but there was still a bunch of really hamfisted forced drama near the middle and end. The two routes also recycle so many plot points, using them almost the same with just a swap of the characters involved. I guess maybe it's supposed to be artistic or symbolic, but it just feels lazy most of the time. My hope is that these two routes will actually just be the setting and background building blocks for the Invisible Kingdom route. Despite everything, I still have high hopes for that route. Also, I am really looking forward to trying my hand at Hard difficulty on the third route! Since it's the final path, I can take my time and raise my characters carefully. I'll start on Hard + Classic and see how long I can last, I hope I can make it to the end without budging from those settings, but we'll see.
I'm burning through Byakuya route at a fast pace so I may forget some events or get them out of order. While on a boat, we're assaulted by shadowy figures from the ocean, and Zoura actually takes a near-fatal blow for Takumi to save him, earning the party's trust. He may be an evil-looking hunchback but he's not heartless! We reach the opera house and Aqua volunteers to sing in place of the originally planned singer, who's too distraught from her mom being on her deathbed to do her job properly. We turn the opera play into an assassination attempt on King Garon (who is again in attendance like he was in the Anya route), but despite Zoura's earlier bravery, he betrayed us and told Garon about our plan. The poor guy has taken a liking to the party though, so after he goes back to Garon's side he begs Garon not to kill Kamui's party. That doesn't go over well, King Garon executes him on the spot right in front of a terrified and probably now-traumatized Elise, RIP Zoura. Marx shows up and bellows about how he's going to execute his traitor sister Kamui - with both Garon and Marx on the battlefield there's not a big chance of winning this, so we run for our lives. The battle's probably perfectly winnable if you grind enough since you can grind endlessly in this route, but I'm rushing through this, so nah.
Aqua keeps collapsing after singing, we'll eventually learn again that she's got a curse that gets sped up whenever she uses her song's magic, but we're too incompetent to survive without her power so she's just got to deal with it. While searching for Ryouma, we run into none other than big sis Camilla, who walks right up to Kamui's enemy army with absolutely zero sense of danger and hugs her. She actually seems nearly convinced that Garon is in the wrong (after we beat her and her retainers faces in a bit, granted), but Leon shows up to finish Kamui off, with Camilla begging him to stop. No worries though, because Ryouma runs in to save the day along with the rebel forces he's been taking shelter with and forces Leon and Camilla to retreat. Now that the royal gang's all together, it's time to invade Anya Kingdom proper, and this is sped up by the hidden rebel fort getting discovered and attacked, so we escape through a secret tunnel into Anya territory. Macbeth shenanigans happen and Suzukaze sacrifices his life to save Kamui during a quake, and falls down an endless pit. Apparently when Suzukaze was young he saw the spy who kidnapped Kamui sneak into the castle but didn't think anything of it, and he never forgave himself for not telling someone about it, so now he's 'atoning' for his mistake. He's a bit of a drama queen. I sure am glad I decided to use other ninjas this run instead of him so the levels didn't go to waste, RIP Suzukaze.
Once again wanting to reuse a plot device from the other edition of the game, this time it's Takumi who suddenly comes down with a deadly disease that requires special medicine to cure. This kid really can't catch a break. We head off to find medicine for him and run into none other than Flora, the other maid who used to serve Kamui growing up, who says that after Kamui defected all the old servants got scattered and she ended up here. Macbeth shows up and slaps her around a bit in front of everyone, we beat him up and he teleports away like magic bad-guys always do. Flora gets Takumi the meds and offers our little invasion party sanctuary in her ice tribe's village, where she says they'll be safe. It was a trap though, and she ambushes the party. Turns out she was made an offer by Garon to either betray the party or have her entire tribe wiped out. RIP Flora.
We slaughter some beastmen to avoid the main army routes (just like we slaughtered some foxmen in the Anya route for the same reason), and end up in a dark swamp to be ambushed by Leon. Leon is such a cutie, he starts ranting about the power of darkness and how he always hated Kamui for getting more attention than him, doing his best Takumi impression. After we beat him though, Kamui puts her sword to his throat and they have a 'hey, go on and kill me', 'no, you go on and kill me!' back and forth until Leon starts crying and bawling that he's sorry about what he said before, it was all a lie, he really loves his big sister Kamui. Why are the younger brothers in this game so satisfying to bully? Anyway, he decides to help us out, and tells us that we can't beat big bro Marx with our current power, because Marx got the Rainbow Sage's blessing and we don't. Maybe if we got the blessing too we could beat him, but the sage is a long way from here. Fortunately, Leon's carrying a lazy plot device - an old magic teleportation tome to the village where the Rainbow Sage lives that is almost out of power and has just enough left to teleport there and back once. How convenient. Aqua gives Leon something else in return - a crystal, the same crystal that she showed King Garon's true form to Kamui in the Anya route with. I remember back then in the other route, she mentioned something about how the crystal could only be used under special circumstances, OR 'by a powerful mage, like Leon'. That seemed kind of arbitrary to throw Leon's name out there. I mean, it's still a really lazy plot device, but that line makes sense now. She tells Leon to figure things out himself with it, and we part ways.
We use the plot-device book to teleport to and from the Rainbow Sage, same 'the true power was inside you all along!' gig as last route, except this time we face some shadow warriors instead of Byakuya troops in the tower, blah blah, teleport back to Anya Kingdom to continue the main story. We enter a big dragon fossil of a passageway and Macbeth shows up via projection and uses magic to partially resurrect the dragon while we're inside it, meaning we're in a dragon's stomach and getting digested. Lovely. Aqua saves us with her song again, turning the dragon back into a fossil, but she's nearing her limit, collapsing again in more dramatic CG.
Outside of the main story, I paired Tsukuyomi up with Orochi and sure enough, his daughter ends up being older than he is by the time we go yank her out of time-capsule-land. I don't have to listen to you, dad, you're younger than I am! What a parenting nightmare. Anyway, their daughter Syalla is a real creep, she's another incarnation of a character from Awakening, Tharja, who was apparently the same way. I really wish I had played that game before this, I'm missing so many references. Kamui spends a few support conversations trying to get Syalla to behave like a normal girl instead of a mouthbreathing stalker, but gives up and decides that she's fine the way she is. Syalla does some fortune-telling in their A-rank showing that they'll be reincarnated together in another life (Awakening, I guess), but in her S-rank she admits that she sometimes wishes she could be reincarnated a man so that she could be loved by Kamui, but she doesn't want to wait until another life or body to say how she feels. Oh, the overused yuri tropes! Kamui decides to accept her confession though, and Syalla stays creepy to the end, whispering about how happy she is and that 'even if you come to regret this, it's too late to change your mind now'. Wheeeeew. Anyway, no lesbian childbearing magic happens, so the event to go recruit Kanna is not triggered. Fine by me, really. I made a save before the choice, I'll mess around with the other options later, interested to see Kamui's S ranks with some of the guys too.
Probably just one more update for Byakuya route before I can start on the Invisible Kingdom route. As far as the story goes so far, it's very...plain? If I had played this route first I think I would say it was boring, but at least it's not infuriatingly stupid like Anya was. They really re-use a lot of plot devices between the two routes, it's a bit lazy. This is such a beautiful game as far as graphics and production value goes, couldn't they have swung a bit more of that budget towards the writing? Anyway, Byakuya route really is a complete joke on Normal difficulty, I think I'm going to take my time on the third route with Hard + Classic difficulty so that I can enjoy a good challenge again.
Random JRPG blogging about the games I'm currently playing.