|Arrrr, I hate the sea... and everything in it.|
|Monstage: Special Sea Slag Edition|
A single battle with any one of these bad boys could see me casting Cure several times (thank goodness it's pretty cheap). Oh, how they love to quickly dodge my feeble attacks while still getting double attacks on me. The worst was trying to explore Yougetsu Tower, hidden away on a remote island. It's a lengthy sea voyage from the nearest town and the monsters in the tower are even harder than the sea dinks. I had to make over ten trips to that dang tower and a quarter of the time I'd have to abort due to being whittled down en route.
|Sh... shut up, game!|
At least the mini-bosses guarding the good loot in the tower were fun. Of course, in my initial encounter with each of them, they handed my ass to me since I could barely handle the regular minions. However, by utilizing a secret technique called running away like a little bitch, I managed to conserve enough MP to actually have a chance against the bosses. Success hinged on how quickly I could seal their magic with a spell of my own (appropriately called Seal). Then perhaps a Weaken spell to soften 'em up a bit before gittin' in the groove of trading blows and hoping I had enough to fuel the all-important Cures.
|My cowardice will be your downfall, Genbu!|
Most of the game is fairly predictable and bland, so I'm gonna gloss over that and just give a few highlights before dealing with the endgame and the promised monstage. My first snippet takes place while I was travelling to an undersea mermaid cave to cure the queen of some malady. I was in auto mode due to a long play session and bong hits, so I was breezing through talking with townsfolk, barely paying attention to what they were saying unless I saw some keywords (like names or directions). Before I knew it, I had paid some mermaid ALL of my ryo (13,000+ golds) just for some picture of the queen.
|Worth every ryo.|
Two odd design choices showed up at the final town of Tatsuno. The first was when talking with Ioki, who gives some info about the final weapon. Instead of using one of the many oft-used sprites that filled every town and village up to this point, the developers went with the one sprite that usually is unique in RPGs.
|I'm seein' double — four Musashis!|
The other choice was more of a pisser. So, all along this journey, I've been collecting scroll MacGuffins and, from the way people talk about them, they're pretty damn important. The elder of Tatsuno, however, lost it and needed me to retrieve it. So it's obviously in some hard to reach location, necessitating a brave and stalwart hero, right? Nope, the elder just misplaced it somewhere in his house and couldn't be bothered to find it himself. Or get the other two people in his house to help look. The scroll isn't in some place that looks obvious due to the layout of the graphics either; every tile has to be examined. Making matters worse is that, when searching, either Musashi or Tanuki can be selected to search, so the whole ordeal takes twice as long (though I did realize later that Musashi only ever searches pots (treasure chests), so I could have saved myself some work here).
|For those going to play the game|
themselves — you're welcome.
The final island also stumped me with its impassable mountain range running down the middle of the island, effectively splitting it into two. I couldn't find any obvious way through so I thought this was yet another case of searching every tile. I did so and found nothing. I thought maybe I still needed an item or something so I went back to the last few towns and talked with everyone again. Still nothing. Well, I suppose I could try using some of the items I do have, although I already know what each is suppose to do. But who knows? Perhaps one of these items is pulling double duty. It was during this futile waste of time that I accidentally pushed west against a mountain tile when I was trying to go north. All of a sudden I found myself in the mountain tile and there I stayed until I could fully process what had just happened.
|You can't just change the rules like that, game!|
As I navigated the hidden path in the mountains, I was at least pumped for a new battle background but it turned out to be the same as the craggy hills. Hope was renewed as the other side of the island had a new tile of leafless, dead trees, no doubt due to the nearby presence of poison swamps. But nope, the background for that is the normal forest one, foliage and all. By the time I reached the final castle, I had no expectations and figured it'd be the same as every other castle I'd been in. Now AoM redeemed itself with a fresh backdrop, suitable for an end dungeon.
|Monster wardrobe even matches the decor... so kewl.|
K, monstage time and then end boss wrap up.
|One Mega monstage coming right up.|
The final battle with ol' what's-his-name was less fun than the previous mini-bosses, due to none of the status ailment spells working. It does make sense, though; the fight would be pretty boring if I could just seal all his magic for the entire battle. So it's still boring anyway; I just pound on him while healing myself occasionally.
|Oh right, it's Kojiro, my archenemy.|
Kojiro also had access to the Cure spell, so the fight took quite a long time. My own MP reserves started to dip low, but I wasn't worried as I had three Mandalas on hand. Mandalas boost MP, generally can be used a few times, are incredibly expensive, and can only be bought from a secret vendor hidden away on a small island (it pays to thoroughly explore, high encounter rate be damned). They are also sometimes dropped by certain enemies, but this is quite rare. At any rate, since this is a DQ clone, I knew the REAL final boss would show up after Kojiro was defeated.
|Aww, I like how he's pawing at the text.|
He really wants me to know that he's appeared.
The fight with DemonKo went exactly the same as the one with Kojiro. While it does seem lame having some unknown, random, second end boss in so many of these games, from a story standpoint it makes perfect sense. These are the shadow overlords, pulling the strings from behind the scenes, and they're so good at what they do that nobody in the world even knows about their existence. However, from a gameplay standpoint, it's just an opportunity to draw another big-ass sprite and pad the game a little bit more. After beating DemonKo, I got to wander around Tatsuno a bit before the end credits arrived. I got a ♥KISS♥ from some chick on the street, then I got another one from Otsu (my supposed girlfriend from the first town whom I hadn't seen since the beginning).
|Don't hate tha playa, hate tha game.|