March 20, 2013

Sword of Hope - End Game

The tumultuous nature of the battles continued as predicted by Past Shen but what he didn't know is that the magic system would stabilize somewhat with the introduction of higher level spells.  For each of the three main spell types (Fireball, Tornado, and Lightning), there are four levels of power.  Level 1 is where the target is completely random; Level 2 allows the caster to select a single target; Level 3 affects everyone in the battle; Level 4 hits everyone except the caster.  The level 1 and level 2 spells cost the same amount of magic points, making the level 1 immediately obsolete after attaining the level 2 version (pity, that).  Keep in mind that being able to select the target does not necessarily mean that the spell won't hit the caster, it just happens less often than the random version of the spell.  Magic is relied heavily upon as melee attacks have a wide range of damage, often dealing only a couple points of damage and effectively wasting a turn.  This turns out to not be such a big deal as there is an item available for purchase that refills magic to full, although it is quite expensive.

44 Golds?!  This had better
be some primo kush.

Even with the help of a balanced magic system, the majority of fights still swayed wildly in their difficulty.  Sometimes multiple enemies would unleash their most powerful attack spell and waste Theo right away, and sometimes they'd just wail on each other and Theo would then finish off the survivor.  Boss fights were particularly tough; victory depends entirely on what the boss decides to do during its turn.  If it ever decides to deal damage twice in a row then it's curtains for Theo.  Theo had to hope that the boss would take time out from pummeling his face to heal or buff or steal gold, etc.  And some of these bosses are the most horrendous creatures ever to be conceived of by mankind.

Pulled straight from the deepest recesses
of my chamber of nightmares.

Thankfully, whenever Theo dies, he respawns at the old man's hut with no XP or gold loss, just having a reduced HP and MP which can be promptly healed by teleporting to the shaman.  The shaman does cost a little gold, though, and is pretty much a mandatory stop after a death.  This starting area is situated nicely in the center of the game world and makes it easy to get back on track for most of the areas.  I say "most of the areas" because the final area isn't so easily accessible.  It's a much longer path that has many traps where if Theo enters a certain room, he's warped back to an earlier part of the area.  One could make a map of it but this proved unnecessary as Theo had to traverse the final area no less than fifteen times due to the final boss being so gosh darn difficult.

This is actually Theo's father in the game
but I haven't been focusing on the story
anyway so that doesn't really matter.

Of course, this being the final boss, almost no magic works against him and the only option is to attack with the Sword of Hope (oh yeah, I got that thing).  All three of the king's attacks do damage, so there is no chance for a break in taking damage and it comes down to hoping that the attack won't do as much damage as it potentially could.  After Theo's first five defeats (and I mean defeats — usually dead by round 3), he decided to grind a level before trying again.  If he failed again, he would grind another level before attempting the battle again.  Levels don't come quickly at this point and I spent around two hours, at maximum speed, grinding five bloody levels before finally being successful.  With a total time of 8.5 hours, this means I spent about a quarter of the entire game just grinding for the last boss.  Eventually though, Theo lucked out and managed to get a killing blow in.  Too bad the trope of having sequential final bosses raised its ugly head and Theo immediately had to fight the dragon that possessed the king in the first place.  With no opportunity to heal between fights, Theo was killed in the first round and the Rage Meter™ rose way, way into the red zone.

Ugh, can't a brother even get a
chance to blaze some herb?

The meter was pushed even further up when it was realized that the king had also regenerated and both king and dragon would need to be defeated in succession.  The dragon wasn't as difficult as the king due to it sometimes healing itself but not healing more damage than Theo could dish out.  Still, having to defeat both of them in a row took many tries.  I wish I knew how many attempts it took but I think it broke my floating-point unit processor chip.  Words can't do justice to express how I feel about this whole final boss fiasco so I think I'll find a suitable image instead.  Without my FPU, this may take awhile so just hold on...
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query images.human.facial.expressions
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indexing results (810,187,420 hits)
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initiating algorithm(fitting.expression)
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algorithm complete.  outputting result direct to monitor.
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