Next stop for Xird and co. is a mechanical city where someone decided that making houses out of giant screws was good aesthetics. The representative of this area seemed really eager at the meeting in the beginning of the game for Xird to take their idol Palsh off his hands, and we'll soon see why. Asking around the main city, everyone seems to have a grudge against Palsh here and doesn't understand why anyone would want to go see her, but they point the group to a research lab on the edge of town. We're greeted there not by the idol we were looking for, but by an android who introduces herself as C-9 and promptly tells us to get the hell out of here. She thinks we're debt collectors, apparently Palsh has money problems.
A battle ensues as C-9 tries to chase us off, but we beat her down and the noise wakes up the sleepy Doctor Palsh, this area's idol. She knows who Brigitta is and about the plan so she calls C-9 off, and immediately tries plotting to get the party to pay her debts in her place. Apparently she's been an inventor for a long time, but lately her inventions have all been failures that cause problems for people, and she can't pay back all the money she's borrowed. She strong-arms her way into joining our party while insisting that we're also taking responsibility for her debts as she joins. Clever girl.
C-9 is coming with us too - she's not just a normal robot, Palsh made her 13 years ago when she was only 7 to be a replacement mother for her. Wait, so Palsh is supposed to be 20? Stranger things happen in JRPGs, I guess. We'll find out later that C-9 is actually an idol too despite not having witch's blood (or any blood at all, she's a robot), - when Palsh made her, she eventually awakened a real motherly soul. C-9 has been acting a bit less like a mother and more like a lesbian stalker towards Palsh lately, though. Someone should look into that.
Back at our floating base, we get some minigame set up in the pool area - it's a strange rock-paper-scissors based foam weapon battle in the pool. You have a team of 3 idols vs opponent's 3 idols, and choose rock, paper or scissors for each of them, and the winner of each RPS match deals damage to the opponent and knocks them off the beam into the pool if they deal enough damage. I tried it for a while but it's kind of boring right now, there's a little bit of strategy involved in choosing rock paper or scissors depending on damage amount and number of hits, but mostly it's random, so not that fun. It seems you can earn tokens doing this minigame to exchange for swimsuit armor which has 0 defensive ability in battle, but provides other buffs. Maybe I'll come back to this later, for now it seems pretty boring, and I like the idols' normal outfits better than sending everyone to the battlefield in swimsuits anyway.
Our next stop is to the country ruled by the unlikable bald dude at the meeting earlier who had the nerve to disagree with our amazing plan of gathering all the idols together. We'll find out why when we get to the main city here and find out that the idol here, Hisoka, is wanted as the primary suspect of the murder of her parents, and has been on the run from authorities for 2 years. We track her down and try to help smuggle her out so that we can hear her side of the story, but we're confronted by baldie and the detectives. Here we have to sit through 30 minutes or so of a mini detective case where Xird figures out that the real main suspect in this murder case is not Hisoka, but is actually baldie here, and he gets arrested by the detectives nearby.
Hisoka's name isn't quite 100% cleared yet but it's obvious she's not the culprit and will be acquitted, and the detectives let her come with us if Brigitta gives them her word that they'll bring her back when needed to close up the case. I thought this whole section was a bit lame, wasted opportunity. I love murder mysteries, it would have been fun for the party to actually wander around with Hisoka and gather evidence first, and then Xird could have his big hero detective moment. Instead it just sort of happens right away, and the case is closed almost as soon as the player hears about it. I guess with 12 idols we can't spend too much time recruiting each one, gotta keep on moving. Hisoka is of course glad to join the people who cleared her name and freed her from having to live in hiding for 2 years, so we're up to..what is it, 7 idols now?
With a full party, I've gotten to play more with the battle system and I'm enjoying it more than I was earlier, but I still haven't gotten that much time to mess with it. Each character has a super attack usable with 300 VP that has a short song clip in it (very short, maybe 15 seconds, I wonder if full versions exist). Some of them are amusing, and all of them are powerful. The easiest way to fill the VP gauge quickly seems to be to have the idols back up a bit so that enemies won't bother them too much, and sing together. A solo might only give a few VP points, but starting a Quintet going can boost +120 VP in one turn, for example. Once they have 300 VP, you can have each idol take turns stopping singing to go empty their VP gauge on an enemy with their special attack, it seems to work pretty well on the battles so far. Also, the picture here is a bad example, but the song radius spreads like zerg creep if you spread the idols out - if the radius of their songs touches even at the edges, it joins together and expands to provide all bonuses to every square. So for example, even if a song's radius is only a 3x3 square, chain 5 idols in a line and you can get a 15x3 area with all five buffs in it, or any other shape you can make out of it. Besides buffing attack/def/evasion/etc., C-9's song also provides ZOC (abbreviation for 'zone of control', I think?) which forces enemies to stop in the first ZOC square before advancing further, it's probably useful for holding choke points and defending more fragile characters.
So far, the game's okay. I was worried last time that it might spiral downwards, but it's decently entertaining so far once you just shrug and accept it as an idol harem setting and roll with it. Palsh, C-9 and Hisoka all had decent reasons for joining our party instead of the whole 'you are now my husband' thing Rana had going, so that's nice. I don't think there's any chance of it being as good as Stella Glow at this point, but it's probably not fair of me to keep comparing it to that, no matter how much I miss the full-length vocal songs in battle that SG's witches had.
Random JRPG blogging about the games I'm currently playing.