Thursday, August 9, 2012

Game 11: Phantasy Star II (Genesis) - As if Millions of Voices Suddenly Cried Out

And so, it came to pass; that the space station Gaila, prison colony for those against Mother Brain, crashed into the planet Palm, which joined the company of Alderaan.
What was on that station to cause the destruction of an entire planet?
Before we get to the update proper, I apologize for the long delay. A combination of factors we'll just call life hindered my progress. The past two play sessions have been early in the morning as the only opportunity to grab some gaming time. I'm sorry to anyone who tries to catch my stream in the evening.

Back on track, I left Kyle reeling from the news of a world-wide flood, and that he was the only hope to stop this catastrophe. All he needed to do was find four key cards to close four dams. Simple enough; too bad no one remembers where they put their keys.

Game logic to the rescue! Piata, being the only town where a story event hasn't occurred, is the ideal place to start looking for the secret control tower. Here I find a path only accessible from the top area of the town, going along the bottom causes the group to leave town.
Too far to the left, you must leave town
Such areas were common in console RPGs; I remember skirting the edge of every town hoping to find a secret area, especially in Dragon Warrior games. Do these still exist in games today; if so, why? Why hide areas accessible only through trial and error where the point seems to annoy and frustrate the player just because they don't know which magic tile or area transports them out of town, and which ones keep them safely within its borders?

At least the dungeon is easy (the music "puzzle" didn't trip me up thanks to comments), and I begin my attack on the dams; however, one of the reasons I hesitated to play again cropped up: I'm bored with combat. The constant beating of the attack button gives no opportunity for any sort of strategy. Item selection is minimal (healing only), and using skills would only take away from my stock of healing. All of my tech points are saved for heal spells. After every battle I need to heal at least one party member to stave off death. I hoped this would change with the wrecker, but I get through about four fights before I get through all his tech and revert back to basic attacks.
Touch = return to town
I continue my trudge through yellow, then green, then I wipe out, game over. This was the end of my first session. It wasn't a big loss, I had just saved, but it stung because it was right before I planned to return (just one more battle!), and I failed to run 8 times in a row.
Game over screen confuses Algo with a planet
During my next session I was told by a viewer that I had missed the Laser Sword, which was superior to the double knives I was using. At the same time, it dawned on me that I had gained some new equipment from various treasure chests. I remembered from the manual that equipment had uses in battle, and while I had tried all the equipment purchased from shops, I imagined only items found later on would prove useful.

So, I went about trying the new items and found two cast Gires, the moderately powerful heal spell. By the third dam I obtained many more pieces, another item to cast heal, two helpful damaging spells, one agility buff, one that has an odd effect that hasn't worked yet, and lastly a mysterious reflective shield placed on my party.
Anyone know what a Crystal "nish" is? It casts lightning if that helps ;)
Once I discovered each of these uses I found myself enjoying the combat, even if the only thing to break up the monotony of attacking was casting indefinite heal spells. The less physically inclined members now had damaging spells available to cast at will, which made them much more useful, combat was shorter, progress through a dungeon was steadier.

Opening up the last dam alerted some robot guards. Even though I was at full combat ability, and threw everything at them, none seemed to be going down. After a number of rounds I was told I'd been captured.
Army Eye used "End Combat," it was super effective
I found myself on a space station, held in bondage, somehow depleted of tech points and items. I wondered out of my holding area, not really a cell; with no hope of fending off the enemies I had to run from each encounter. The place is devoid of any interest.

Suddenly, an alarm started blaring. It warned of the impending disaster. My only hope was to reach the controls and get the station back in orbit. From far off I saw them, but they were still out of reach. Making my way through damaging tiles and continued encounters, I found myself in front of them unable to alter our course. Then I blacked out.
Someone forgot to style check this image (Parma and Motabia?)
I received visions of Alis fighting Dark Force. Kyle doesn't know what these mean, and I wouldn't either if I hadn't played through the first game. It's a bit confusing as to why he's having these visions in the first place.
What's with the hair?
I woke to find myself on a pirate ship. I thank Tyler for saving me, a space pirate who left Palm many years ago happened to return at this moment. He informs me I was lucky to be alive given the space station I had been on collided with Palm in a rather epic explosion. Seeing as how my roster is already full, I bid him farewell; he deposits me on Mota after making some vague comments that I was heading for the planet Dezo.

I confront the commander, and he tells me to take the space ship on top of his tower to visit the only other surviving planet, Dezo. Wait... take the what? Why didn't you tell me about this space ship before?

Edit: On a side note, I've decided to inject some challenge and role-playing into the game. For those that have played this through, let me know if this is a completely crazy idea.

I'm thinking of taking Rolf, and the three level 1 character as my final party through the rest of the game. Story-wise, instead of going with the line that everyone escaped from Gaila, I'm going with only Rolf/Kyle did. I think it'll make things more interesting, although I might have to grind for a bit to get the rest up to snuff.

Session Time: 5h38m (Total Time: 19h31m)