Here's a game that spent a considerable amount of its lifespan cozily nested within the bowels of my Game Boy a quarter century ago. Every summer my family would spend at least a week out at Grammy Gram's farm as part of our vacation. Mom said it was good for us to get out into nature, but I'm sure she didn't mind saving them dem ducats either. This was great for child Shen but as I started becoming an up-and-coming dream teen, playing in a broken-down school bus surrounded by about ten old-timey, rusty tractors just wasn't cutting it. I just wanted to stay in the basement and play muh vidya, but Moms wasn't having it, so I climbed into the treehouse and played there. Good compromise, don't cha think? For three summers in a row, FFLII would get a good workout as I attempted to complete the entire game before we headed home, where GB was generally set aside in favour of the usual consoles. Each following year, I'd attempt the journey with a more difficult party, going so far as trying an all-monster party (though I'm pretty certain I didn't finish that one). Guess you could say it was quite the saga for young Shen. Ahhhh, yes, those breezy and carefree halcyon days just kickin' it with tha G-to-tha-B, which taught me so many life lessons, like playing with humans is pretty boring and robots are always awesome and kick ass. Character selection is very similar to FFLI, with one very important difference — robots as a playable race. I think it appropriate for the manchine to play as one, even if it makes the story intro weird as both my parents are obviously human.
|*beepboop* Error! Error! DADLOVE.EXE|
file not found... heh heh, naw, I'm just
fuckin' with ya, Pops, I'll miss you.
Father goes off on a mysterious mission for a couple of years while I update from a brash young calculator into a robust desktop.
I decide to go looking for Parental Unit XY, who I learn is out searching for seventy-seven pieces of powerful MAGI, which he's gathering in order to keep it from being abused by the forces of evil. I already have one MAGI that father gave before he bailed; it's called Prism and it has the ability to show how many other MAGI are on any particular world. Seems like the kinda thing one would want to have in one's possession when embarking on a mission to find other MAGI, but perhaps Dad just wanted to try hard mode. At any rate, I'm not about to do this solo and have to pick three friends to join me. Though it's tempting to try a party completely comprised of brobots, I guess I'll stick with more variety so we can see how the other races function. I'm going with two mutants (male and female) and a corpse-consuming monster.
|Sorry humans, but there is far too much|
diversity in the world to just go stock.
Monsters in the party change form and abilities whenever they eat meat left behind after a fight and usually suck. It's not a case of being able to feed it constantly as 90% of the forms available will be very suck compared to the others. When it does stumble upon a decent form, it becomes a question of how long will this form last before I get too curious about its potential and feed it again. This usually results in disappointment as it reverts back to a shit-tier pleb who dies from a single hit. Having said that, I still love these guys, just like in the first game. They tweak the difficulty to make things a little more challenging while still being fun to play with. It also helps tremendously to picture them more as pets than full-fledged members. Mutants gain their abilities randomly, just as in FFLI, but this time only the fourth slot ever gets changed instead of that also being chosen randomly. This allows me far more control over building each mutant but I prefer the original mechanic. I liked never knowing how long some sweet ability would stick around for and watching powerhouses get the chips knocked off their shoulders as all their fantastic talents devolved into weaknesses or a lame resistance. I'm seriously considering breaking out a d4 and letting that determine what lay in the fourth slot. But then again, I'll know ahead of time what ability will eventually be lost so the element of surprise is gone.
|But then again, maybe this'll just|
happen over and over and over.
K, enough about those guys, I know y'all want to hear how the manchine is handling being a manchine in the game. Robots don't gain any stats or abilities by winning combats; they are determined purely based off what equipment is installed in any of its seven available slots (the eighth is an innate resistance to poison and paralysis). Weapons increase either strength or agility and armour increases defense. The best part about the armour is that the increase is based on the material of the item alone; the armour type is completely irrelevant. This means I can slap on three gauntlets for the price of one full suit and be just as awesome.
|Did someone just throw a piece of paper at me?|
I'm glad I didn't take any stinkin' humans or other robots so that the vast majority of funds can go directly into my own personal arsenal. I still have to buy armour for the muties, of course, as well as a cheap weapon or shield for them to use when the situation doesn't warrant the use of an ability. Not only do abilities have limited uses per outing, but giving them something other than magic is the only way to raise non-Mana stats. I, however, have no such worries and can use any weapon I install with impunity. All my weapons are replenished after a night at the inn, just like mutant or monster abilities. I do have a slight disadvantage in that any weapon I stick on myself only functions at half its maximum uses, but with at least four weapons to choose from, this essentially becomes a non-issue. I just adore bristling with all kinds of weaponry: guns, swords, axes, crossbows, rockets, freakin' CHAINSAWS (going to buy two of these soon as I could afford it). Saws can cut opponents in half which, as one would expect, means instant death for those unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end.
Questing for the MAGI involves jumping from world to world through a network of teleporters in space. Of course, opening up the space doors requires a certain amount of MAGI, so I'm stuck going to desert world, which is ruled by Ashura, who is also gathering MAGI but for evils. The striking thing about desert world is that it does a great job of making one feel sandy. The overworld is covered in a raging sandstorm, which obscures vision and makes navigation difficult. There's even a vortex that sucks one down into its center all while still fighting random encounters (hardcore!). The townsfolk tell me that Ashura is a goblin who has been transformed into a powerful, six-armed beast by his MAGI. On the way up through Ashura's castle, I stop and release a prisoner who goes by the name of Mask, but is obviously my dad.
|Even if I didn't have fifteen different kinds of scanners|
built into me, I still wouldn't fall for this.
IT'S THE HAT, DAD! THE HAT
IS A DEAD GIVEAWAY!
Dad joins us and we continue on to face Ashura. The townsfolk seem pretty scared of this guy, and I knew that the mutants' attack magic would be useless against him, so I went into the battle with a little apprehension.
|At least until I remembered that I'm|
essentially made out of adamantium.
Even though it's just Dad and I doing damage to Ashura, he doesn't last too long. It doesn't help that Ashura decides to attack me almost exclusively, despite the fact that I'm untouchable. After he falls, I get a whole seven MAGI, each different from each other. Each character can equip one type of MAGI and gain benefits from it, adding a layer of configuration to the party. Each stat is boostable, as well as the various elements that fuel the mutants' magic. It's not a negligible amount either, and I can see why so many people want to get their hands on this stuff. Dad takes off (what a shock!), still pretending to be Mask, and I head back to the Shrine of Isis on World 1-1 to check in on a cleric named Ki, who initially helped us get access to the space teleport system. Turns out she's sick because micronized enemies have invaded her body and we have to find some way to shrink down and go after 'em. Ki's assistant tells me the secret to shrinkage lies on Giant World and I should head there, post-haste!
|Why don't I just sit in the pool for a half hour or so?|
At a normal-sized town, I learn that the giants have left their town and that I should search there for the secret I seek. I also meet my dad here, who has shucked his Mask "disguise" and has a talk with me about MAGI. He refuses my request for him to go home to see Mom, says that protecting MAGI is far more important, then gives me the ONE MAGI that he's found after all these years. I've only been doing this for a week or two and I already have over seven. Methinks dear father is harbouring a secret and has a woman (or man) on the side. I don't know why he wouldn't just tell me, it's not like I'm programmed to care about where he sticks it.
|Had a hard time remembering|
her name is Mom, didja Dad?
My suspicion is confirmed after Dad refuses to join the crew that's a couple thousand percent more efficient in MAGI retrieval than he is. Whatever, Dad, have fun doing whoever it is you're doing. Too bad you're going to miss out on giant town, which is lovely this time of year. If Dad can slack off for years at a time, I think I can take a moment to snap some photos for posterity.
|Arrgh! I always end up blinking in these!|
Much like the desert world, giant world adds its own special touch to increase its immersion. Here, it's simply making the tile for the tabletops semitransparent so that it gives the illusion of walking underneath it. I find a bottle of Micron on top of one of those tabletops (yes, the transparency disappears when I'm on top) and we're off to explore Ki's body. Half the enemies are of the regular sort, but the other half are microscopic diseases that are as frightening as they are realistic.
|Notice how the influenza is wearing|
gloves, just like in real life.
I antibody the heck out of Ki, picking up a bunch of MAGI in the process, which just happens to be enough to get into the next world. Here I meet with Apollo, who gives me a MAGI and three riddles on where more are to be found. When I inquire as to why he doesn't want the MAGI for himself, he says that he has enough power and doesn't desire any more.
|Said no one in the history of ever.|
Obviously this is a huge red flag, but I'm still going to play his little game and retrieve the MAGI I'm sure he plans to take for himself. My sensors indicate that he's a fancy pants anyway and there's no way he can stand up to me, the incredible killing manchine. The riddles are easy enough as they're just describing areas that would be found by normal exploring anyway. With that, I'm off, and don't be surprised if I come back with enough money to build myself completely out of chainsaws.