|For picking up the ladies, of course.|
The quests involved a lot of running around the massive overworld which has a high to ridiculously high encounter rate (depending on terrain). While I mostly knew where I should going and what I should be doing, there were a few times where I basically had to revisit every town and talk with everyone again in order to trigger the next event. That aspect really made it tough for me to get into the Dragoon spirit and my sessions suffered for it, both in length and frequency. I actually played some NDS games in the interim but realized that it's better to have the challenge of dying too much than never dying once through the course of an entire game.
|One can only grow by learning|
from one's errors, stupid sage.
Though I did find the encounter rate to be much too high, I really liked how the overworld terrain functioned. Rather than have the normal invisible boundaries that determine monster difficulty, here it is completely based upon the terrain type. Grasslands always hold the same set of weaker monsters and a (relatively) low encounter rate, while mountains house much stronger enemies with an insane encounter rate (average was one encounter for every two steps). This makes for some interesting decisions while traversing from one locale to another. Do I try for a shortcut through some mountains or try to skirt around them, not knowing how far the mountain range extends.
|Doubting my chances to pass|
through this unmolested.
Most of the quests were predictably of the fetching sort but a few stood out. At one point, I had to reach the city of Achernar, which exists in the dream of a monster who dwells in a vast desert. The city pops up in random locations before fading out and appearing somewhere else. In order to get into it, I had to confront the beast and put it to sleep with the Dream Mirror I had picked up much earlier.
|Your name is Shin? We should totally team up, bro!|
At this point in the game, Amai was doing much better. Her DEF still sucked compared to mine but this was balanced by her having many more HP as well as being able to do more damage. Her breath weapon could be used in every encounter with no noticeable repercussions. I focused more on feeding her strong enemies and her stats started increasing dramatically. Oddly enough, after attaining a Cooking Set from a quest, if I didn't feed Amai a monster, it gave me the option to eat it myself. This only served to refill my HP as my stats are based off of equipment but it was a nice option to have (if only to picture me tucking into an entire stray dragon by myself while Amai watches me devour her brethren).
|No Amai *munch munch*, you can't have *smack*|
any. You'll get a *slurp* disease or something.
I wasn't entirely happy with Amai being more powerful than me, so I worked on getting enough rupees to purchase some of the really expensive items from Hoverpool's Lower Town district. I first wasted a bunch of cash on a suit of armour that almost doubled my current DEF at the cost of being unable to attack (in other words, useless). The best weapon I could find was the Maser Gun, which almost doubled my attack power. Ah, now I had far outstripped Amai's strength (though she still had her multi-attack breath weapon) and was feeling back in control, at least until the gun broke. Damn crappy futuristic weaponry! More grinding was done in order to purchase another one. This time, after I had used the maser for awhile, I went to sell it in Hoverpool before it broke. I was expecting to get about half the value but ended up being quite taken aback.
|By the end of the day, Shen had completely|
bankrupted Hoverpool's item shop.
Well, my rupee worries were over and I was carrying around ten Maser Guns and a full stock of healing items. Now I could just feed Amai everything we came across and she was all the happier for it, quickly rising in power and catching up to my level.
|Some of Amai's favourite snacks.|
Since Amai and I had explored the entire main continent, we were fairly certain that the end was near since there was only one building we hadn't been able to explore yet. It was blocked by a Rakshasa who wanted me to fetch him a Beef Bowl to eat. I had no idea where to get one but was fairly sure that the Cooking Set would be used. Though I eventually figured out that it was the Cooking Set that allowed me to eat enemies, at this point I thought it was just an item that I hadn't found a use for yet (when attempting to use it from the menu, it gave the message "But I have no ingredients to cook with..."). I was certain that I'd have to accumulate two or more ingredients and then be able to use the set. Long-time readers will know that when Shen starts into an anecdote and then declares his certainty on something, he ends up being 100 percent wrong. Yet again, I revisited every single town and chatted with everyone but to no avail. I got, what I believed to be, one of the ingredients by attacking all the cows that were hanging out in Hoverpool. Yeah, Sansara Naga has the nice option of letting you attack anyone and anything in the towns (though they regenerate after leaving and coming back). I had about ten cow livers and set about to looking how to make a nice stock or get some ramen noodles or what the fuck is in a Beef Bowl anyway? Dread started to creep in as I thought perhaps I missed an item in a dungeon somewhere but then I remembered about the Haratama Huts. These four huts are spread out across the world and allow for transportation between them. They also have food available which doesn't heal but the hut proprietor gives a hint on what to do next. Most of the food options are very cheap and they all result in the same hint. Except. For. The. Most. Expensive. One. OF. COURSE. Choosing the costly take-out results in a battle to the death with a ferocious cow.
|Hooves vs. maser. En garde, indeed.|
After all that, I was overjoyed to get the Beef Bowl and be able to continue on my way. But, oh no, that would be too easy. As the Rakshasa chowed down on the beefy delicacy, he informed me that Amai would have to be bathed in the blood of a demon called Namuci before letting us pass. *sigh* That sounds like it will be much more of a challenge that just ordering some take-out.
Namuci wasn't actually all that tough and it softened my heart to watch Amai roll around in its eviscerated carcass, making sure that all that blood got into every nook and cranny. On the way back, we met up with Ala Singh (the sage who originally gave me the Dragoon Flute) who forced me to let Amai have a rest. I couldn't get him to relinquish his hold on her, so I just wandered around, picking my nose and fighting the occasional creature by myself, but it just wasn't the same without Amai. When I went back to see if she was all rested up, I was informed that some Fallen Dragoons had stolen her. I had to track her all the way back to the cave where I fought the Ichthyosaur and found her slutting it up with three other stray dragons. As they all prepared to attack me, my parental instincts kicked in and I blasted out a sharp, hyper-amplified note from my Dragoon Flute which smashed into the three horny scumbags with the force of a thousand dads. After they fled, I was left to reconcile with my dear Amai.
|Did you at least use protection during your gangbang?|
Well, all her whoring must have done her some good because she was more powerful than ever.
|I can see why the boys like|
her, just look at those gams!
Now we could finally go beyond the Rakshasa and attempt to enter the dragon realm. The last hurdle involved two temples, one with male priests and the other with females. To access the realm of dragons, we needed to break the seal of Rta Sathya by collecting the two Vajras (one in each temple). Once again, I got stuck in this spot and could not figure out where the Vajras were. I searched all around the sealed areas, hoping to find a secret door but it was all for naught. So I played some more DS instead (I know; bad Shen, bad!) and when I came back, decided to just explore every single square in each temple. Then I stumbled upon something that just made me feel stupid and I rolled my eyes at myself.
|Noticeable right from the fucking entrance, too.|
Getting the Vajras proved to be no problem and soon Amai and I were on our way to the dragon realm. Somehow Ala Singh was there and told us that we must defeat the Chaos Dragon before it breaches the barrier between the human and dragon realms. Cool! Nothing could stop us now! What could the game possibly throw at us to impede our destiny?
|How about a metric fuckton of tunnels?|
Admission time. I abused my savestates big time here. The weird thing is that it didn't help much as it still took me a good half hour to find my way through. Eventually we found the Chaos Dragon who was impatiently tapping his foot and glancing every so often at his wristwatch.
|Hot damn, I really like this perspective|
that some of the bosses have.
In a twist that would make M. Night Shyamalan proud, the stereotypical end fight was instead initially replaced with a series of dreams consisting of scenes from my past. Most of these ended with a regular fight against whomever I was dealing with in the dream. I got to beat up my grandma, a fellow dragoon, and even the professional foodie who hung out at the Haratama Huts. They weren't just straight up battles either; some dialogue choices were present (though I'm assuming all branches led to a fight). Being the Shen that I am, I even managed to get stuck during one scene where I was in a bath house with six fine females who were unfightable and all said the same thing.
|Now now, sexy ladies, there's more|
than enough Shen for everyone.
I thought that perhaps there was bug here and I always worry about game-breaking glitches in translated games, especially when the patch, such as this one, is newly released. I considered ending the game here and still declaring a win since I WAS IN A BATH HOUSE WITH SIX BEAUTIFUL WOMEN ALL IN LOVE WITH ME. Alas, I just had to search the middle of the pool to advance. It's almost as if I hadn't learnt anything from my previous experience at the Rta Sathya temples. Next up was some strange minigame where I attempted to carve up a watermelon by hitting right and left on the control pad. After that, I got the classic RPG ending where I'm flanked by soldiers on both sides of me as I approach the king to receive my accolades for winning.
|Sike sike super sike.|
Then I had to fight some other guys, including a clone of myself, and then finally I was allowed to confront the Chaos Dragon himself.
|For realsies this time?|
The final battle was as epic as I had hoped. Father and daughter joining forces against insurmountable odds. I had run out of maser guns by this point so I had a less sweet sword but Amai was in top form, biting and tearing at our vile nemesis. The Chaos Dragon could hit me all he wanted as I still had many full heals left but I had nothing left for Amai and her stamina began to wane by round 30. Just as it seemed that Chaos may get the upper hand, Amai went all out with a massive breath attack that hit C.D. well over ten times. The Chaos Dragon cried out in agony as his body was consumed by raging green flames. To my utter dismay, this came at the cost of Amai's life, for it hath been foretold that the Legendary Breath Attack may only be used once by a dragon that had been raised (and loved) by a master Dragoon.
|She had a name, damn it... and it was|
Amai... *sob* ... AMAAAAAAIIIIII!!!
As I mourned for my dear Amai in the silence of the aftermath, I noticed something underneath her corpse. On closer inspection, it turned out to be a rainbow egg. Oh, Amai, why didn't you tell me you were preggers? Ah, she knew that if she told me that I would just get soft on her and not push her to her maximum potential. Sweet, precious Amai... you've taught me just as much as I've taught you. I returned to Hoverpool and received a great medal and a feast in my honour but the food tasted like ash in my mouth. During the festivities, the rainbow egg began to shake and broke open. Tears welled up and flowed down my face like a waterfall as the spiting image of a young Amai looked up at me.
|Your legacy will live on, Amai.|
You will never be forgotten.