Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Game 11: Phantasy Star II (Genesis) - Go Do Something, Somewhere

I have in my possession a stick of gum that allows everyone in my party to breathe underwater. As nonsensical as that sounds, my next statement will make even less sense. I cannot figure out how to go underwater. Why isn't this more straightforward? Plenty of water everywhere, there's one continent surrounded by the stuff yet the buoyancy is such that everything floats.

Based on this gum existing, I know my next step is to find a way to use it to explore the ocean depths. Skirting the coastline doesn't provide any notable features offshore, and trying to use the gum at random points provides little insight.

With no other leads I headed back to the town where the gum was created. One lone, random NPC mentions different colored water comes from the lake. I assume the Climatrol center is spilling lake water somewhere in the ocean, which is noticeably different. I search again, this time expanding my net to include areas of the ocean not visible from the shore.
How does the color of the water change?
The whole expedition is hampered by the game's rubbery display that only moves as I approach the edge, but centers once again after combat. Combat occurs quite frequently. Maybe there's a better hint to follow, but I'm determined to find it, there are only so many places to look. I'm rewarded by locating a small whirlpool, an hour into playing... I suppose the levels were worth the time.
Certainly... (the game gives no more dialogue after this message)
Here, I used the gum and found myself transported into a watery tunnel, complete with parallax scrolling ocean sheen. Did no one complain during play-testing?
Let's blind the player as much as possible!
This and the next few areas were linear, with only a couple branching dead ends. The false sense of security set in nicely and I was woefully unprepared when I entered the main floors of Climatrol. Paths branching everywhere, floor teleporters, loops, redundant paths, and dead ends all made an appearance and threatened my progress.

My next foray into the tower went a bit better, as I broke down and brought out my trusty paper and pencil. I drafted the layout of the floors, not too concerned with proper dimensions, collected treasure chests, and found a blue figure. She looked somehow familiar. As soon as I spoke to her, the comparison was obvious.
Nei? Does she remind you of anyone?
Neifirst explained, humans tried to kill her when she was first created. In turn she wanted to kill everyone, so she turned the biolab into a breeding ground for degenerate monsters. Nei split off from Neifirst during this time, disgusted. Meeting here like this again, Nei is overcome with rage and rushes to the fight, alone. I'm forced to fight, one character down.
Nei didn't last long, and would die anyway
This is the first boss, and what a challenge. I was trounced, even with what I considered over-leveling from extended exploration. Having gained some wealth, I used it to upgrade Luke's weapon (Cannon -> Laser Cannon) and give a weapon to Fera; I stocked up on healing items as well. The second attempt went much smoother, yet Fera still died.

Arriving back in Paseo, I headed straight to the cloning lab. The news wasn't positive; Nei can't be revived because the lab can only clone humans. (If Nei dies from a normal battle, is there an issue cloning her?) The game adds a nice touch by recognizing Fera died in the battle, and seamlessly offers to revive her. I'm told there's a plateau nearby to place Nei's body, never found it.

I returned to the command center and informed the commander/mayor of what transpired. He relayed that Climatrol was now flooding the world due to the spike back in power, and I am now wanted by robot guards in conjunction with this event. Our only hope is to open the dams; the attendant tells me I need an access card for each, red, yellow, blue, green.
Of course you hide emergency dam cards in a secret control tower!
Where do I get them? I don't get to ask that question. My next step? Speak with random NPCs again, and see if one has a hint. Maybe I'll run across some robot guards with the first card. In preparation, I've added Meta (the wrecker) to my group. His machine destroying abilities will prove useful if there's a robot boss.
Where were these robot guards when I was fighting Neifirst?

Session Time: 3h27m (Total Time: 13h52m)

42 comments:

  1. You'll probably have to level him a bit but Meta will be useful against the robots. I think after the water level the other dungeons are way less annoying with the scrolling.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My personal opinion you should go with you main characther, rudo your gun user, Kain(Meta), and anna(I fogot what you named her.) And if you can I think you are way better off with a laser sword for your main charachter. And some slashers for Anna. I won't outright tell you outright as well but when you do find the control tower your going to have to do it again if you havent done something you passed up doing earlier but maybe that will be good for you to learn trial and error as it will give you a chance to level up Meta and Anna.

      Delete
    2. I can't imagine exploring without the healing abilities of Amy. If I happen to have money to burn, I'll check out the other characters, level them up, and see if they gain Res at a minimum. Fera definitely isn't helpful inside fights doing only 20 damage.

      Delete
  2. "I have in my possession a stick of gum that allows everyone in my party to breathe underwater". Ha ha, reminds me of an old cartoon called Marine Boy and his Oxygum.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I must've had the patience of Job as a kid. I remember loving this game, but reading about give the impression it's brutal. Guess the modern RPGs have spoiled me. Still the PS series holds a special place in my heart.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Were you using the hint book provided with the game? I've been avoiding it since it feels like a walkthrough. I imagine a lot of the game is explained in there.

      Delete
    2. No hint book. Think I just plugged on. These days i get stuck too long…gamefaqs to the rescue.

      Delete
  4. "Rubbery display" - that's a good description for the way the screen tends to move/adjust. As to Unknown's comments, I recently got a taste of this myself - through my son. He picked up the first Final Fantasy for the Wii Virtual Console awhile back and started to play. He was having all kinds of problems, and as I was explaining things to him, he was just baffled by things like needing to save at the inn when so many games let you save wherever, and how brutal a loss in a deep dungeon can be - things that were really testing his patience.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I tried to introduce my kids to some easy RPGs like Golden Sun and Pokemon Mystery Dungeon, but they don't seem to resonate. I think they've been spoiled on easy games, but maybe they'll grow a knack for patience.

      Delete
    2. They could just not be interested in RPGs. I never knew about anything RPG before maybe 2004. I have no idea how I would have viewed them as a kid. I only ever played action-platformers and Primal Rage, Space Invaders, and Pac-Man at the arcades (mostly, a lot of stuff happened back then...). I don't think anything turnbased would have been up my alley during the '90s, but again I don't know as I was so different from how I am now.

      Now that I think about it, video games were more or less just something my friends and I went up to my room to do or when my uncle let me blow all his quarters (mostly on Primal Rage) at the mall. Playing outside, watching cartoons, and really nice toys courtesy of Powers Rangers, Beast Wars, and Marvel Comics was most of my funtime in the 90s. As far as I can tell, Halo on the original XBox drew me more towards being video games as my main form of entertainment, and now reading stuff nonlinear is my main form of liesurely activity with effectively zero interest in all the things I loved before.

      Ahh, sorry for all that nostalgic diarreah.

      Delete
    3. Should say online not nonlinear. Stupid Kindle Fire! (but oh how I love it!)

      Delete
    4. My son likes RPG's in general - he's played most of the more recent Final Fantasy offerings for example, but there's definitely a disconnect when he has tried to play some of the older ones like the original FF, or Dragon Warrior or my Ultima games on my PC. Things I hadn't really considered because I don't generally go back and play those games (even though I still have access to most of them). But listening to him talk about some of the things that we just take for granted now in a lot of RPG's, it's clear that there have been more changes than we sometimes realize, even for titles like JRPG's that are accused of never doing anything new.

      Delete
  5. A few thoughts:

    1. You should really consider using the hint book. It was provided for free with the game, which, IMO, suggests that the designed level of difficulty involves utilizing the hint book.

    2. I had the -exact- same problem finding the whirlpool/water thing as a kid. I looked -forever-. Finally, having bought the game used without a hint book, I asked the place I bought it from if they had any. They got me one. That's how I found the damn thing!

    3. Over at Dtoid, I've been ranking the Final Fantasy games in terms of quality (usually like 2-3 an entry). There, I referred to PS2 as the first JRPG with a decent storyline. I know you're likely to disagree now, but the Nei event is just the "first" notable thing that happens here. Even if this shit ain't high drama, remember, it came out in 1989. That's two years before FF4, which, IMO, took the RPG storyline to the next level. It was even released before FF3 and only a bit after the broken mess that is FF2.

    4. All that considered, yeah, this game is brutally hard, and the encounters seem to come ever few seconds. If anyone reading this dislikes overly common random encounters, I suggest avoiding PS2.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've considered using the book, but like I mentioned above, it feels too much like referring to a walkthrough even if it came with the game originally. If I get stuck, then I'll take a peek. I'll keep in mind that the hint book came with the game when I give the final review. I think it's more helpful to get an accurate time for beating the game without the hint book. So far things haven't been too obscure.

      If you think finding the cards is as difficult as the whirlpool, feel free to provide a hint in rot13. I'll probably need it. I can't remember running across a secret control tower that could hold the cards.

      The story is at least consistent in style, and I'm looking forward to where it goes, but you have to admit that it has its holes. Most recently, it was mentioned that if Neifirst dies, then Nei will die; how is the reverse not true? The whole open the dams with hidden cards scenario screams arbitrary fetch quest. Why isn't the location known? I thought my commander was the leader/mayor of Mota, if so, who's sending these robot guards to kill/capture me, and why doesn't he have any power to petition clearance on my behalf?

      The encounters don't feel as common as Phantasy Star 1, but maybe that's just my impression. I believe the fights last longer on average with the additional animations in this game.

      Delete
    2. I got the final fantasy's I think 1&2 for my iPhone to occupy me at work. All I did was frustrate myself. I couldn't remember anything. I was emailing people at work for help since websense blocks anything video game related here

      Delete
    3. This worries me a bit. I think I remember them. I already know I'm going to be frustrated by the combat in Final Fantasy 1.

      Delete
    4. Well I think that you have to consider that the Mother Brain computer is in charge of things. And you are seeing as the story progresses that the Mother Brains intentions are not as benign and helpful as one would think. The story will continue to flesh out on that point. But it does explain why the robot guards are after you in a sense. As far as the keys the only hint I can give is try going to the library to ask about the dams and control tower. Then think about different towns youve been to that have conspicous control towers. I think you will find it by trial and error even if you just go to all the towns.

      Delete
    5. I don't remember needing help to find the cards, but, then again, I may have been using the hint book. The main thing I remember using the hint book for after the whirlpool is getting through the end-game dungeons. Those things are BRUTAL.

      Regarding the story, oh yes, don't get me wrong, there are holes the size of Texas in PS2's story. It's just that PS2 is the first JRPG I'm aware of (maybe DQ2-3 made a lot of progress here?) to create a story that was more than minimal. FF2 also had an okayish attempt at a story, but the progression system was too broken for it to matter. In PS2, Nei dies, blank happens, and the ending.. well.. yeah. It's not a "great" ending, but it certainly is an interesting ending. It's probably one of the more interesting JRPG endings I've come across yet, warts and all.

      Regarding FF1, honestly, FF1's difficulty is all frontloaded. Once you get your class changes, the game is easy as pie. Even before this, the difficulty peaks around the Marsh Cave or so. The first few "big" dungeons are rough, but you should have the skills, items, and equipment to deal with the problems. I seem to remember there being a lot of instant kills in the Ice Cave or whatever, but that's the last gasp of high end difficulty.

      Delete
    6. @sean: The explanation in the game was that I'm being blamed for the malfunction of Mother Brain, so the guards are after me. This might be a translation issue or maybe spoken from the commander's point of view, but it doesn't make much sense to me at this point.

      @killias: It's trying something different, not just a quest to kill the bad guy. This may be the first game where the end goal isn't given from the start, although it's implied I'll have to deal with Mother Brain at some point.

      Delete
    7. True. It's unfortunate that so much of the game involves fetch questing because that actual story elements that do come up are rather unique, especially for the time. I'm still rather amazed at how early this game came out.

      Delete
    8. Ya it wont make a whole lot at this point but your really not given alot to go on this early on plot wise. But maybe Mother Brain wanted the biomonsters?!!! Anyway it will flesh itself out and the influences and plot will be revealed. With lots of bad english translation.

      Delete
    9. Killias2: Hmm some rebalacing must have been done for the GBA port what with save anywhere, phoenix downs I almost never use, auto-retarget, and a more forgiving MP-based magic system- because I remember plenty of stuff being hard after that (giant blue centipedes near Crescent Lake, green dragons, robots, and a few others that I had to grind in order to feel confident enough to wade through them). Overall that version of the game was simple to get into, and I had no real moments of getting stuck.

      Delete
    10. The Ice Cave to get the Floater will cause much pain. Now that I think about it, maybe I'll just skip Final Fantasy 1. ;)

      Delete
    11. [James Earl Jones] NOOOOOOOOooooooOoOoo!!!!!111!

      Delete
  6. Stupid google. That's my post above. Longtime lurker first time poster

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good to have you in comments.

      Delete
    2. Thanks. No power last week gave me time to catch up on you and addict. Trickster is taking me longer. Great work.

      Delete
  7. Steam sale; Thought you might like the SEGA Hit Collection, with all of Phantasy Star I through IV. http://store.steampowered.com/sub/15550/?snr=1_crossdomainxml_4_ Can also buy 1 by 1, 40% off, if you don't want a zillion other Sega games.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the heads up. It's really encouraging to see companies release their console collections on PC. Sega in general has been very good about this (I played one of the Phantasy Star (III or IV, can't remember and only for an hour or so) games back when it was on GameTap).

      This is good for others to check out, but I've already got most of these games on the Sonic Ultimate Genesis Collection on the Xbox 360. I've marked games I have in the main list, and I have most of the games through 1991. Should keep me for another year or so.

      Delete
  8. Ah, good stuff. I beat this game when I was a elementary school, and have done so again many times since. The problem with this game (and many others from this era) is that if you know where you are going, you do not wander around enough to acquire the requisite experience points to calmly stroll through the next dungeon (when found) and bust heads safely. The last few times I have played through it, I got to Dark Force ridiculously too low level to have a prayer of a chance of beating him, and had to grind a dozen or so levels. At least Rolf really shapes up his game around level forty or so and starts to get really high attribute raises on level up.

    Also, nice list of RPGs. I swear I have played through two-thirds of them all or better. Playing RPG's is basically all I have been doing since about 91' or so.

    Good luck with this project of yours, it is certainly a noble one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your kind words. I hope you, and others, understand the break. I'll get back at the blog with more commitment soon, and hopefully still make the it to the end of the gaming year by January.

      I don't think I could say I've played half the games, although it's close. I hope you stick around to comment. It's good to hear other opinions on the games.

      Delete
  9. Two weeks between posts? You really did have to "Go Do Something, Somewhere"! ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ;)

      Yeah, I should get back to this soon, maybe this week. I've actually been focused on finding games for the next few years, and I'm pretty set for at least two. After that I'm hoping cycling through (selling off while buying more) will allow me to keep costs down.

      I've mostly just been busy doing other things though. I do want to get back to this, but a combination of the current game being kind of boring and not feeling like streaming has put me off for a bit. This week, promise.

      Delete
  10. Hey Zenic, how has PS2 been lately?

    Anyway, I just visited Shen Nung's Inconsolable blog, and what happened to all his GIMLET rankings? It doesn't look like I am able to email him. Could you get the scoop (he doesn't even note the change over to the VIPS ranking system)?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. PS2 has been sitting there. I'm going to get back to it this weekend. There have been times when I could grab 30 minutes of gaming, but decided it wasn't worth the effort to set everything up to stream.

      I noticed that too, but I don't want to bug him about it. Seems he likes being left alone for the most part. He has comments disabled. My guess is he's striking out little more on his own. You should be able to find his email if you look up his info. If you're still having trouble, I'll pass it along if you email me.

      Delete
    2. Nah. If he doesn't like to be bothered, it's no big deal. I got the chance to read all of his GIMLETS before he changed over. Hopefully looking back on the old ratings that he changed will be just as entertaining as they used to be. Thanks anyway, and I hope you will game again soon.

      Delete
    3. Well, it's a good thing I came by to check what's holding Zenic up on PSII. I have no problem with getting eMail if someone has a question or comment about the blog (My eMail is available from Access Nodes -> Contact off the main page or from my sparse profile). I just don't like the way the regular blog comments function. It ends up being way too time consuming to respond (and I'd feel obligated to respond just as I did here). eMails are far less frequent and generally the content is more interesting so let 'em fly.

      I changed from GIMLET to VIPS for two reasons. The first is that they were taking too long as I sometimes struggled to come up with at least a paragraph for each one. Condensing down to five should hopefully give me some leeway. The second reason is that I'm not really affiliated with the Addict at all. We had some brief contact at the beginning of the blog but I think my abundance of f-bombs and dick jokes scared him off. :) Some of the ranking's humour may be lost in transition (e.g. strategy games) but I've tried to keep it close to the original.

      Delete
    4. Makes sense. The only thing holding me up is me. I've been playing again, and finally made it through all four dams. Update post incoming.

      Delete
    5. D'oh! Well I have been using my Kindle fire a lot more than my desktop, so I will have to try using the desktop when I think of something interesting. For now, I just hope you will find Final Fantasy 3 (Famicom) as awesome as I did.

      " my abundance of f-bombs and dick jokes " - Shen, have you thought of offering your manchine services to cracked.com? Seriously, you're not that bad about your usage and pretty funny to boot.

      Delete
    6. I've played FF3 before but it was back when I was a meatsack and don't recall a lot about it (other than it was excellent).

      I've written for other sites in the past but I like the Inconsolable setup and want to only focus on that. The project is already a massive time sink and could take around two decades to complete (and it's not like Inconsolable is the only thing I do (though I kinda wish it was)).

      Delete
    7. Yessssh!

      And do what ya gotta do. I am greatful for the time you put into Inconsoleable.

      Delete
    8. I agree. I wish I could read more of Inconsoleable, but I'm doing my best to avoid spoilers on games I plan to play. Looks like I'll have to wait for Phantasy Star II, but I'll catch up on Final Fantasy in a week or two.

      Delete