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Author Topic: A story that goes Beyond (Beyond the Beyond LP)  (Read 6917 times)
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« on: 11, March, 2021, 05:25:47 AM »

Long before Camelot made Golden Sun, they had dabbled with other games. Shining Force is well known and reasonably respected. This however.. isn't.

As far as I can tell from Internet sources, Beyond the Beyond was the first JRPG to be released on the PS1. On release, it largely met with a lukewarm reception before being buried under other, better games. So.. not a lot of background to go off of.

However, I can promise that this will be a unique and interesting experience, having played through it before. In some ways, it foreshadows the flaws prevalent in the Golden Sun series itself. But much like those games, this is a wacky adventure with some very memorable moments.

Enough talk though, let's begin!

Ah, Camelot's old logo. Must say, "Software Planning" is a weird choice of words. Planning is often associated with architecture or economy, not software development. I also miss the little castle graphic that would become so distinctive later.

The title screen seems promising. We have the title on an appropriate period-y background, and an appropriately heroic ditty to go with it.

The very next scene is a complete turnaround. For whatever reason, we are thrown into a weird kaleidoscopic area, with some lady insisting that something terrible is upon us. Despite that, we are treated to a relaxing tune.

Ah, of course. This is the save game selection screen!

We are prompted to name our rather doofy looking protagonist. We can't see much beyond his face, but he does look similar to some Camelot protagonists.. Felix

I name him the most appropriate and goofy name I could think of. And no, the x is not part of it.

Mysterious Lady: Steiner should be an adequate partner. He will certainly try his best for you.(Ma'am, you don't sound very confident in this Steiner, whoever he may be)
Mysterious Lady: Steiner! Take care of Artur!
Tiny Dragon: Artur! I'll take you to the village of Isla!(Ah, there you are, Steiner! And wait a minute, you can carry a teenage boy to a village? Sure, why not!)
Steiner: There, our adventure begins!

Cue moving to a new scene, where a man chops trees in an oddly barren field.

He is soon joined by a lady with a portrait even more ridiculous than the protagonist's.

Man: Mmm... I'm sure they're fine.
Man: They will probably be home soon.

Suddenly a young girl joins the conversation!

Young Girl: ...into the fields and instructs him in swordplay until he is completely exhausted!
Young Girl: How can you call that "fine"?!
Lady: Oh Annie... I understand your concern, but you shouldn't take your frustration out on your father.
Annie: But Sir Kevins is being too hard on him!
Annie: If Artur gets hurt again, I will never forgive him!
Lady: What was that all about?
Man: Huh? Ohhh. I think she just worries about Artur a lot.
Man: Unfortunately... It looks like her concern might be justified. Look.
Lady: Huh? What do you mean?
Lady: Sir Kevins! Oh... Artur...

Cue Kevins entering with Artur on his back.

Kevins: Hmmm... I didn't realize how quickly time flies.
Man: Well... I hope Artur is not hurt.
Kevins: Oh, he is quite all right. When he recovers consciousness, he won't feel a thing.
Lady: I don't want to be rude but...
Lady: Even though you're his father, don't you think you're being a bit harsh?
Lady: Artur is just a kid. Why are you training him like this? It's too cruel!
Lady: I know it's your job to defend the kingdom, and this may be hard for you to understand, but for women, we value children more than our own lives!(Yeah, you sure showed those stupid men who have never had kids!)

Lady carried Artur into the house, then Annie pops up in surprise!

Annie: Artur!!
Annie: How terrible... I must speak with you, Sir Kevins!

Annie barges out of the house, and confronts Kevins.

Annie: I have... always wanted to tell you...
Annie: I think your methods are extreme!! You allow Arthur, who is without a mother, to live with us, but when you visit once a month, you nearly torture him to death!
Annie: Is this your idea of being a good father?
Man: Annie, calm down.
Annie: If this happens again, I will... I will never forgive you!

Annie storms off into the house.

Man: Oh Annie... I must apologize, Sir Kevins. She has her mother's spirit.
Kevins: Or perhaps her father's?
Man: Ha ha ha ha ha.
Kevins: ha ha... HAHAHAHA!
Man & Kevins: WAHAHAHAHA!!

Annie bursts out of the house again.

Annie: Dad! If Artur gets hurt like that again, I'm holding you responsible as well!!

Annie slips back in

Kevins: Well...
Kevins: Sir Galahad, I think I will return to the castle.(Finally, we have a name for this man!)
Galahad: What? You mean you're leaving without saying goodbye to Artur?
Kevins: I care for him, but the longer I stay with him, the harder it is to leave him here.
Kevins: I'm also worried about things at the castle.
Galahad: You're worried about Bandore, right?
Kevins: Yes, we recently found several of their spies roaming around our kingdom.(Wow, that doesn't sound good)
Kevins: I wouldn't be surprised if they attack us while I am not there. Sir Galahad, please take care of Artur.

Kevins prepares to leave, but turns around at the last moment.

Kevins: Will you ever change your mind and return to Marion Castle?
Galahad: I'm sorry... but no.
Kevins: Ah... it must be the young prince that you don't like, huh?
Galahad: Marion will be fine with you and Samson there.
Galahad: An old soldier like me only wants to live the rest of his days happily.

Kevins leaves, and says something from offscreen

Kevins: Artur has grown strong. Much more than I expected.
Kevins: Hmm... I know! As a reward, why don't I show him around the castle? Please tell him to go there when he recovers.
Galahad: I will. But that's kind of boring. Why not give him a challenge?(What the hell, Galahad?)
Galahad: If he succeeds, then he can go to Marion.
Kevins: That's a good idea! Please do that. (No it isn't! What sense does that make?)

Galahad enters the house, scene ends.

A small ditty plays, followed by...

Steiner: Kyuruuuu!

Steiner starts tugging on Artur's head, until he gets irritated enough to get up.

Kyrrrrr... Good morning, Artur!

Artur looks at Steiner, Annie climbs into his room.

Annie: Hee hee!
Annie: Morning, sleepy guy.
Annie: Daddy has something important to tell you. He's been waiting a while, so please see him as soon as possible.
Annie: Your best friend, Steiner, took care of you all night. You should thank him.

Annie goes downstairs.

Steiner: Annie took care of you too. What is she talking about?
Steiner: Let's go, Artur! Sir Galahad is waiting.

Steiner then sticks behind Artur, where he will be for most of the game.

Phew, that was a lot of dialogue we had to go through! What did we learn?

1. Despite Steiner claiming he would carry Artur to Isla village, Artur has a human dad and a foster family who have been taking care of him for some time.
2. His dad doesn't really spend much time with him, only instructing him in swordfighting once a month.
3. Somehow Galahad thinks that his swordfighting classes aren't enough to deserve a castle tour and proposes a challenge to make him "worthy".
4. There's an empire spying on Marion, the kingdom Artur and co. live in presumably.
5. Annie and the lady(presumably Galahad's wife) take issue with Kevins' lackadaisical attitude towards Artur, understandably. Galahad doesn't seem to mind.
6. Camelot was very longwinded even back in the day.

Tune in next time for some actual gameplay! Hopefully!
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« Reply #1 on: 16, April, 2021, 03:05:28 AM »

It's been a long time since last huh? Let's continue this game.

Last time we left Artur, he was here:

We can search around the room a little. There's a Herb in the bottom leftmost corner of this room.

As you can see, Beyond the Beyond's menu is pretty heavily inspired by Dragon Quest. Talk lets you talk to other characters, Search searches the area in front of Artur, Magic lets Artur or any other character cast spells that are relevant outside battle, Item lets you use items, and Prepare has three commands under it that let you check the stats of your characters, set their formation, and change the settings for message speed, windows, and window colors. Note that Talk and Search can also be performed with a hotkey, so we shouldn't need those options much.

Let's head down to meet our dad figure, Galahad.

Galahad: Artur, would you like to see Marion Castle?
Galahad: I have a small favor to ask. If you can do it for me, I'll take you to Marion Castle.
Galahad: There is a cavern called the Cave of Spirits to the far east of this village.
Narrator: Sir Galahad removes a flask from the shelf.
Galahad: A natural spring in the deepest part of the cave contains Magical Water.
I want you to fill this flask with that water. What do you say? Will you do it?
Artur rushes to Galahad and takes the flask.
Annie: What about me?
Annie: Can I go too?
Galahad shakes in disapproval, his wife turns to face Annie.
Lady: Annie... Please listen.
Lady: Artur is going somewhere dangerous, and besides, you are just a girl...
I can't let you go.(Well I guess she didn't get enough training then because of her double X chromosomes)
Annie shakes in shock and frustration, backing away slowly.
Annie: Oh, is that right? You think I'm just a weak girl, huh? Fine.
I won't ask next time.
Annie rushes outside the house, stumbling upon the doorstep. She gets up and keeps running. The others are left gaping at her.
Steiner: Krrr. Krrrr.
Galahad: Huh, you want to go too, right? Well you're not a kid, you're a dragon.
Go on and help Artur.(Okay so Galahad can speak in dragon tongue? Is that what this is implying? And can't Steiner speak normally, as he did with Artur earlier?)
Galahad returns to his seat by the table, his wife returns to the oven.
Steiner: I feel sorry for Annie, but let's hurry up and get the Spirit Water.(Wow, way to sound insincere about your feelings!)

We regain control again, and look around the room. Searching his bookshelves reveal books about being a soldier and good tactics. So perhaps Galahad is a retired soldier then?

Let's talk to Galahad and his wife:
Galahad: The Cave of Spirits is dangerous. So why don't you take whatever you need from the basement. It's all at your disposal.
Lady: You're very peculiar, Artur. Sometimes it looks as if you can actually understand what that dragon is saying. Anyhow, don't worry about Annie, and please be careful. (Okay so other people can't understand Steiner.. yet Galahad talked with Steiner just a while ago. Inconsistency? Or perhaps Galahad could read his mannerisms? Eh, whatever)

Trying to go outside gets us chided by Steiner:

Steiner: Artur! The Cave of Spirits is a dangerous place.
As Sir Galahad suggested, you should take some weapons from the storage!

Well then, we'll head downstairs.

The shiny sword on the wall is indeed a Short Sword, which gets equipped automatically by Artur. The bottom right barrel has an Antidote, and the second barrel slightly left of center has another Herb. Checking the chest reveals that it is, infact, a storage box. You can store either items or money in it. This is another thing taken from Dragon Quest, though quite a few games with limited inventories have adopted it ever since. Anyhow, we're not interested in storing anything, so let's check what we can take out.

Turns out there's a decent haul in there. We can retrieve 2 Herbs, 4 Antidotes, and a Light Shield. The Light Shield is an accessory for Artur that improves his defense slightly. The other items should be fairly self explanatory.

With that done, we head outside the house, only to be interrupted by Galahad again!

Galahad: I almost forgot. In the Cave of Spirits, there is a fork in the road with two paths.
Take the path to the right because the left one is very dangerous. Don't forget!
At the fork, go to the right!

And with that, we're finally out of the house on our own! Let's see what the townsfolk have to say.

Headclothed man with backpack: I am the travelling merchant, Michael. You will not find better prices in all of Isla.
Do you wish to buy any products?

Michael sells Healing Herbs and Cure Herbs, in addition to the stuff we picked from home. Healing Herbs are noticeably more potent than regular Herbs, and Cure Herbs remove all statuses. Neither are that relevant to our current quest though, so we skip them. Michael can also Repair stuff. This will be relevant much later.

The priest can save our game, resurrect dead party members, and cure us of all statuses. Naturally, he does charge for the last two functions. For some strange reason, he can also shut down the game after you save.

Lady to the left: Oh! Artur, I haven't seen Annie today. Is she helping Sonya with something?
Old man in top left house: You are going to the Cave of Spirits? That place is full of monsters.
Well, be very, very careful.
Kid at northern town gate: Oh, Artur. I'm sorry, but I can't open the gate for a minor without the expressed permission of their parent or guardian. (So apparently Artur isn't of age, yet Galahad sees no trouble sending him to a dangerous cave full of monsters? Great parenting right there!)
Man at bottom left: Many people in town have been victims of the monsters in the Cave of Spirits. If you can retrieve the Spirit Water, you will have the entire village's respect.
Lady in bottom left house: Artur, Todd was asking to play with you.
Todd: I want to play with you, but I have something to take care of...
Let's play after I'm done, okay? Promise?
Bookshelf in bottom left house: "Fairy Tales for Kids"
Lady outside Artur's house: I recently saw some soldiers from Bandore. I wonder what they were doing here.
Lady at the bottom center: Artur, are you going out? You shouldn't go out too far or Sir Galahad might get mad.
Old man in bottom center house: Was that Artur who just passed by ready to fight?
That reminds me of our war with Bandore. We nearly lost that one.

Alright, so mostly the townfolk have little to say. They are concerned about us heading to a monster filled cave, understandably. There's also talk of Bandore, considering that apparently Marion and Bandore are enemies, that's likely not good news. Thankfully it's not our business.

We're finally on the world map! Hopefully we can get to some gameplay... next time!
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« Reply #2 on: 25, September, 2021, 07:55:09 AM »

Alright, it's time to move on!

Though we are in the overworld, we can really only go to one other place at the moment - this cave. Let's just do it.

Cave of Spirits
Walking just a few steps into the cave leads to our first encounter.. and it's a scripted one too!

Battle 1
So a quick rundown of combat actions: we can pick between Fight, Tactics and Run. Fight brings up a submenu of options, Tactics allows you to choose between a bunch of auto combat modes or manual battle, and Run does what you think it would. Currently we don't have Tactics because we only control Artur, and always have to issue commands to him.

As for Fight's submenu, it provides options to Attack, use Magic, Defend, or use Item(s). If you've played any RPG, odds are you know what all of these commands do. Honestly, even if you haven't, they're fairly self explanatory.

Given that this is the early game, Artur doesn't really have any options besides Attacking or Using items to heal.

This particular fight goes fairly trivially, and gives equally trivial rewards.

Artur: Huh?!(Rejoice, the presumably silent character spoke!)
Annie: I came anyway!
Steiner: Oh... It's Annie.
Annie: "Oh... It's Annie." What kind of greeting is that?!
Steiner: Annie, why are you here? You're not thinking about going with us, are you?(Wow, Steiner really doesn't like Annie being here)
Annie: Why, Steiner?!
Annie: Do you think I would be a nuisance if I came along?!
Steiner makes a head shaking motion with his body, as if to say no
Annie: Do you feel the same way, Artur?
Artur also does a head shaking motion, except with his, well, head
Annie: Really??? Are you sure?? I won't be in the way?
Both Steiner and Artur proceed to perform the head shaking motions they did before
Annie: But maybe I shouldn't... I'm just a weak girl... I wouldn't want to hinder your journey.
Annie: If I get in your way, then you won't be able to do the favor for my father.
Artur nods his head(This seems like a dumb thing to do, and it contradicts all the fervent head shaking so far. So does Artur want Annie on the journey or not?)
Annie: Hah! I knew that's how you felt! Just like every other MAN!
Annie quickly moves upto Artur
Annie: You think you're so strong that you don't need a woman's hand, huh?!(Oh I see, she's going to act like a spoiled brat in response to Artur's poor gesturing. That's cool.)
Annie: Hmph, I'm not so easily scorned.
Annie: I'm the daughter of the kingdom's top knight & I have been trained to fight.
Annie shoves Artur aside and then proceeds to move deeper into the cave
Steiner: Annie! Where are you going?
Annie moves deeper into the cave, then turns around
Annie: Where I go doesn't concern the two of you.
Annie: When I get the Spirit Water, maybe you'll respect me then.
Steiner: We're in trouble, Artur! This place is dangerous. We must stop Annie.

Of course, trust this game to open the very first dungeon with DRAMA.

Heading deeper into the cave ourselves leads to more scripted fights, where Artur can still only choose between Attacking and Using Items. Not worth covering.
What is worth covering is the way this game does attacks and counter attacks.

You see, when you decide to attack a target, the game chooses between a regular attack or a critical hit. Occasionally, it will let you execute a second attack, which again can be a regular hit or a critical hit. So you have as much as four times the regular damage on one end, and damage worth one hit on the other. This leads to lots of variation in how effective the attack command is, which isn't really great for balance.

Now all of the stuff I said above for regular attacks? ALSO applies to counter attacks. Oh, and enemies get to use the same system for executing attacks, meaning you get to feel the brunt of the uneven damage yourself. It's honestly rather absurd, and should have really required some mechanism to control it, be it your to hit(which isn't a real stat in this but whatever), a timed minigame, or perhaps even a special command that consumed some kind of resource.

Technically speaking, there's the concept of timed hits alluded to in the manual. The problems with the implementation are that you only get the prompts for timed hits at random(a think sound when you or your enemies move to attack), and that getting the right inputs in doesn't really guarantee a double or critical hit or even a counterattack, merely raises the chances of it happening. So, uh yeah, basically it never matters much.

In addition to all of the above, Artur can randomly get a "dual attack" like this. Only he can ever score it, and it seems to either deal the damage of two dual attacks, or a critical attack. So effectively it's just an additional chance for him to score those two outcomes. Moving on.

The Tumblerabbit is as unremarkable as every enemy here, except for one thing; occasionally it jumps through the air to deliver an attack on Artur, complete with comical spring sound effect. It's quite hilarious actually.

Annie slowly steps backwards
Annie: Leave me alone!
Artur and Steiner cautiously move forward
Annie: I said, "Leave me alone!"
Annie runs to the stairwell on the left
Steiner: Wait. Which way was the dangerous path? It was... left. Right?

Indeed it was. So, they deliberately write Annie to be a brat and then deliberately also write her to be rash. I'm not sure we're supposed to care for her, outside of her being the protagonist's sister(or sister figure). Anyway, let's pretend we do care and go the dangerous way downwards.

Down here, a chest holds this Source of Wisdom. There's a bunch of various Sources around in this game, and they basically act as stat boosts. As you might guess, this one boosts the magic casting stat, called "IQ" in this game. This is perhaps the least useful stat to boost, and I'll show you why in due time.

At level 3, Artur learns FireLevel1. It's a decent enough spell for now, hitting about as hard as a critical attack. This also gives me an opportunity to showcase the uselessness of IQ. Pictured, Artur hurling a fireball without drinking the Source of Wisdom:

And with:

Admittedly, that's just one IQ boosting potion, however it will quickly become apparent that IQ has little to no impact on how much damage a spell does. Infact, it's best to consider spells as fixed damage sources. This also leads to spells becoming outdated surprisingly quickly, as you can imagine.

Unfortunately, for as helpful as FireLevel1 is now, Artur only has enough MP to cast it once. So the rest of the dungeon is still the same ol' Attack and Item routine.

A scream is heard as Artur descends further downward
Steiner: Artur! That's her! Something must have happened! Let's hurry up and find her!

Down the stairwell lies..

Ugh, that looks gruesome. Let's hurry up!

Steiner: Annie is in trouble! Artur, what are we going to do?
Artur and Steiner nod to each other, then proceed to move to both sides of the creature and fight it. Unfortunately this has little effect, and both are thrown back hard.
They try once more, and fail, this time running into each other. The creature moves away from them.

Annie: HELP!!
Both of them get up, and Steiner tries to pull Annie out of the grasp of the creature, with little success
Annie: Steiner, please... Help me!
Steiner: Just hang on, Annie! I'll save you.
Annie: Steiner, I... I can... no longer...
The creature promptly slips out of sight, tossing Steiner backwards. When both of them get up, all that remains are a bunch of bubbles where the creature once rose from. Steiner checks the spot dejectedly, and this plays
Steiner: Artur, we have got to do something! There must be a way to rescue her!

So we went from Annie being a brat and running rashly into dangerous caves to Annie being captured by a horrible swamp monster, possibly dead. That sure escalated quick.
Leaving makes Steiner prompt this:
Steiner: Artur, we can't leave her here! We must do something!

Indeed, we must.

Taking the other stairwell, we soon end up here:

That sure looks like a spring to me, so let's fill our Flask! To do this, we need to select the Flask in our Item menu while facing the spring. Using it gets us the Spirit Water, complete with happy jingle. Unfortunately, we can't drink it, merely look at it.

Rushing through many, many dull encounters back to the swamp on the left...

Steiner: Artur, try everything you can to save Annie!

Using the Spirit Water on the swamp leads to...

The creature from earlier shrieks in pain, rising up and tossing out Annie in a fit.
It retreats quickly.
Steiner rushes to Annie's side

Steiner: Annie! Wake up! Wake up, Annie! It's no use... We have to try something else.
Artur nods and pours a few drops of Spirit Water into Annie's mouth.
Both of them then wait and watch as she slowly regains consciousness.

Annie: Uuummm... <cough>
Annie: Uuuh... <cough>
Annie: Mmmm...
Annie gets up, everyone rejoices, and this tune plays
Annie: I... I was... ehh?
Annie looks around a bit perplexed
Annie: The Kraken dragged me underwater! I don't even want to think about it!
Steiner: Annie, I'm so relieved. You sound all right.
Steiner: Artur, let's go. We shouldn't stay here too long.
Annie: I'm scared... I can't walk alone. Take me with you, okay?

And with that, we finally get a second party member. Took them long enough.
Annie is more mage like than Artur, as far as her stat distribution and equipment goes. She also starts at level 1 and currently hits for rather pathetic damage with her rod, making one wonder how she even got through the cave in the first place. While she starts with 10 MP, she bizarrely knows no spells to cast.

You might also be noticing a pattern with the dialogue.. a lot of it repeats a few key points over and over, and honestly leaves little room for interpretation. As such, I think it would be wiser for me to start summarizing scenes and only highlighting some notable sentences when necessary.

Having a second party member finally lets us access the Tactics menu. Charge is supposed to make the team fight aggressively, Fight make them fight normally, Reserve make them conserve resources like items and mana, and Guard make them defend themselves. Honestly, none of them matter though, since Manual lets you have direct control and is often better for decision making than the other options.

The only other thing of note in this cave is this bizarre room:

I have no clue if this is supposed to be us on a cliff top, or some otherworldly landscape in the depths of this cave, or perhaps a rendering error.

Well, this cave was pretty dull when we had one party member, and with two it's honestly not even worth mentioning. Time to leave!

Steiner: Artur, it's getting dark. We should hurry back home.

Will do, but that will have to wait for next time!
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« Reply #3 on: 11, October, 2021, 10:40:37 AM »

We last left at a rare sight, the overworld at night. We will perhaps see this again only one more time, much much later.

Heartless Wilderness

Also I forgot to link the overworld theme. Honestly it's actually a fairly remarkable piece, weaving a narrative gradually through its progression through various "phases". Too bad you can rarely hear it in its entirety when normally proceeding through the game.

A large reason for this being, well, overworld encounters are now active, and quite frequent. Thankfully, they aren't any harder than the Cave of Spirits, not yet. Anyhow, heading back to Isla Village, we find that everyone is indoors, but not yet asleep. They don't seem to mind us entering their homes either. Time to move on with the plot..

Isla Village

Galahad is pleased with us, and then looks scornfully at Annie. He is joined by her mother, who stops her from retreating into our room(and yes, the house only has the one bedroom, even though a family lives in it. There aren't even multiple beds). They end up chewing her out in the usual parental scolding way.

When suddenly...

The family hears strange noises from outside. Galahad at first dismisses it and sends everyone to bed, only to catch the sound again. He thinks it's someone screaming, which seems extremely odd to me as it sounds more like someone knocking on a door. Anyway, we finally see someone offscreen calling out to the family.

The Kraken

Galahad rushes out, followed by the rest. Turns out this is Annie's formerly unmentioned brother, Percy. He's in a rather poor state, talking with a lot of ellipses and laying on the ground. He says something about Bandore troops attacking Marion Castle. Uh oh.

Naturally, the family is completely shocked about this, and tries to assure themselves that Percy is alright. But Percy, of course, talks like someone about to die. With things looking grim, the family surrounds him to take him inside. But surprise!


Annie, in a fit of desperation, suddenly begins to glow! She makes Percy glow too. Everyone is shocked at this sudden turn of events. Percy is lifted up into the air for a few moments and then laid down, falling into a fit of sleep. Everyone notices that his wounds have been healed and his expression is peaceful.

Percy Sleeps

As if to heighten the drama, Annie stops shining, and collapses herself. Everyone remaining is too confused to make sense of anything, and decide to pull them in and retire for the night.

The next day, Percy talks about Kevins sending him to deliver a message to Galahad. We don't see this message, but everyone is amazed at Annie's new healing powers. We also get some brilliant lines like these:

Galahad: Rather than saying "had", we should say "has".

Galahad theorizes that the swamp and Spirit Water combined gave Annie a healing force. Eh, it's an acceptable explanation for her magic. Percy and Artur decide to head to Marion Castle even though it's occupied by a hostile army, because apparently Percy has an odd sense of bravado. Artur tags along because he's concerned about his father. Annie, sensibly, is quite worried about this journey. Galahad responds with this:

Listen... Annie.
For a man, there are times when he just has to act.

Galahad is truly a caring and sensible dad.

Annie is of course shocked to hear this, and runs back up to the bedroom.

Percy: Since they know my face, you lead the way, OK?

Umm, I don't think that will help. Artur is noticeably younger than you, and you aren't exactly concealing your face anyway.

Annie, despite sensibly being worried about us heading off into enemy territory, pleads with us to let her join. She says it's because she wants to help us with her newfound healing powers. Somehow I doubt that's going to make the difference against an army. Her dad lets her go anyway, complete with cute fanfare.

And now we're back to the overworld. Let's take a look at both Annie and Percy.

Annie gets a basic Heal spell; it works exactly as you think it does. It can be used basically everywhere so long as she has MP.

Despite being a Knight, Percy is pretty similar statwise to our other characters. He's a slight bit slower and has mildly less defense, but that might be on account of him being two levels behind.

We're actually led into a pretty vast expanse of the overworld, but can't really get anywhere besides Marion. This bridge just leads us to a guard post where we are turned away.

Amusingly, enemies jump gleefully when we retreat from them. It's a cute little detail that is mostly marred by the high frequency of encounters in general. In unrelated news, Annie learned Cure Level 1 from level ups. It's basically Heal but for status effects.

There's a second bridge crossing which is blocked the same way, and a suspiciously big church with a pathway behind it clearly visible. We can't do anything with it yet, but atleast the priest can revive us and save our game. There's also a chest with a Resist Jewel to the right, but I'll talk about it when it becomes relevant.

Anyway, next time we enter Marion! Let's hope we don't die or get captured horribly, somehow. Would be quite a short game if we did.
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« Reply #4 on: 11, October, 2021, 02:45:18 PM »

and yes, the house only has the one bedroom, even though a family lives in it. There aren't even multiple beds

Oops, just caught this and have to correct myself. Yes, this family does have just the one bedroom, but they do have more than one bed.

Though, the bedroom looks more like a hastily converted warehouse room, and I can't figure out whose bed is whose. Like, are the two beds side by side supposed to be for Galahad and his wife? If so, then why does Annie get the "special" bed on top of the carpet? If it's Galahad's bed, then do Annie and her mother sleep by their side? Ah well, the room probably didn't have much thought put into it, after all it's barely relevant for anything past the first.. hour or so of the game.
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« Reply #5 on: 21, October, 2021, 12:53:57 PM »

It's time to enter Marion!

Marion Town

We are immediately treated to a dismal tune, which is quite fitting considering the town was captured recently and is currently under military occupation. This is one of the better tunes in the soundtrack, and infact perhaps my second favorite, right behind the overworld theme.

Talking to people around town reveals that it is occupied by Bandore, that they are looking for a "hero" of Marion, Sir Samson, and that Bandore is evil in the least subtle way possible. Here's a sample of Bandore villainy:

Checking the shop reveals that the Bandore soldiers have confiscated all lethal weapons, except they still sell magic rods. It's not pointy enough to be used as a weapon right? Anyway, the shop is a bit pricey and the gear it sells, while being technically stat upgrades, are too small to matter really.

On the lower rightmost corner of Marion is this brave Marion soldier. He is shocked at the number of soldiers, because apparently he didn't understand how military occupation works. Then he proceeds to rush forward in a vain, pointless attempt at rescuing the prince of Marion, Edward. Alright.

The inn has a grandmother and her daughter from Zeal(not the Chrono Trigger kingdom). Apparently they need to get to an elder's village, but can't cross over to Zalagoon because of the Bandore border guard. We'll get to those places someday.

The inn itself is fairly cheap, as RPG inns tend to be. It also does what all RPG inns do, refresh your HP and MP.

Bandore Soldier: The local hero Samson, who is known for his strength, is running around with no regard for the prince. He is going to force us to execute him.

Well I doubt his running around is purposeless if he really is a hero of Marion. Maybe he plans a jailbreak, or is organizing an uprising.

Going to the palace courtyard of Marion, we can talk to more Bandore soldiers there. Unfortunately they say little that's interesting, save for one who bemoans his lieutenant taking all the credit for capturing the prince, even though he caught sight of the prince first. There's a Smoke Bomb we can loot from a chest, basically a guaranteed battle escape item.

Anyway to actually progress the story, we need to talk to this guy:

Samson's Theme

We are treated to a ridiculously badass cutscene of Samson wrecking a Bandore soldier looking for him, and then frightening his six other buddies. Of note is this amazing line:
Samson: Hey guys! Do you want to fight or dance? Well, we can't fight when you're all the way over there!

Then after some more toying with the soldiers, he decides to rush past them, killing off one of them, and heads to the graveyard. Where he proceeds to just.. vanish. Huh...

Checking the graveyard reveals nothing about Samson's whereabouts, though we can discover that only 3 gravestones are named and loot a Ring of Defense from one of them. Well then.

It turns out there was a secret passage in the house Samson was hiding in all along! Hmm, what could that have to do with the graveyard though?
Downstairs, there's a switch, which we of course flip. This opens up one of the gravestones, conveniently when the guards give up on searching the graveyard. I'm shocked that none bothered to bring a shovel to dig up the graves themselves, perhaps these soldiers are incompetent after all.

Cave of Spirits

The passage below is filled with scripted encounters with... bats. Yes, mild reskins of the cave bats we fought back in the Cave of Spirits. Camelot, you surely could have made these enemies more notable if you were going to script an encounter for them? Or atleast not resorted to palette swaps this early.

Anyhow, the battles with them are pretty uninteresting and inconsequential, as you would expect. We then run into a rock which we move out of the way through team work.
Finally, we meet Samson in the lowermost level of the passage.

Samson and Percy talk, hatching an escape plan and also getting Annie and Artur introduced. Samson seems surprised to hear Artur is Sir Kevins' son, and a little upset that Galahad didn't show up. We then decide to accompany him because clearly he's a badass and the hero of Marion, why wouldn't we.

Samson starts out pretty impressive. He's a whole 10 levels above the party and his Strength score is astounding. Conversely though, he knows absolutely no spells. We adjust the party formation so that he can fight from the front, with Annie going to the back.

The prison has this really amusing Bandore soldier:

Bandore soldier: How did I get in here? I remember drinking... and drinking and drinking... I passed out in front of the emperor. I was told to sleep it off.
When I woke up, I was in here. I think I'll sleep some more...

The Marion soldier held down here is not as amusing. Least amusing of all is of course the prince, who simply orders us to save him fast.

Naturally, his idea of surprise is to ram the door down and rush into the guard room. What follows is a fight with 3 Bandore soldiers. They prove to be pretty unremarkable, thanks in no small part to Samson being so overpowered currently.

A surviving guard proceeds to flee to the upper floor, closing the fake wall behind him. Well that just leaves us free to break out all of the prison inmates, but there's only one person we're going to rescue, and unfortunately it's not the funny Bandore soldier.

Samson rudely knocks Artur out of the way in his rush to check on prince Edward. Turns out Edward is fine, and the party decides to visit Zalagoon because the queen is the prince's aunt. Of course, the prince himself joins the party.

For some reason, Edward is a wizard with wizardly stats. Maybe spellcasting is just part of the royal curriculum. He also doesn't have many spells right now, only being able to cast the same fire spell as Artur, albeit more times than him. Perhaps the royal curriculum is not very good at teaching things. We move him to the back and then proceed to leave the prison.

Naturally, since this would be too smooth for a JRPG plot, we are spotted just as we're heading back to the passageway.

Ramue's Theme

Hi Ramue! As you can guess, she's a major villain, and acts appropriately villainous. She taunts Samson and throws two of Bandore's soldiers at him for her amusement, then attempts to shock him with bolts. When he dodges all of them, she laughs and then throws a cursed... shawl. He dodges this with little difficulty, but then has it drop on his head, despite having dodged lightning bolts before. I guess he was caught off guard by how silly throwing a piece of clothing at him was. Then she taunts him again, challenging him to go as far as he can under the effects of the shawl's curse. Of course, she ends the conversation with a menacing threat about how she won't be as "merciful" next time.

The very first thing you'll notice about the curse is that it robs Samson of all of his levels, reducing him back to level 1. Naturally, his stats also take a big hit as well. I would discuss what it does in combat, but the moment we proceed a bit further in the passage, he splits us up, taking Edward with him. He's worried that a bigger group would be easier for Bandore to catch, but in that case he should give the prince to someone else, since he himself is a fugitive being actively hunted down. Anyway remember the big church near the border crossing to the east? We need to meet up with him and the prince there. Oh, and Artur's father is treated as a mere footnote, which while understandable considering the circumstances, is still rather harsh.

Join us next time for a thrilling escape across the border and to new lands!
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« Reply #6 on: 01, November, 2021, 04:49:01 AM »

It's time to finally cross the border! To do this, we enter the large church we visited earlier and show our royal pendant to this priest.

Border Church

Doing this prompts him to ask if we are Artur, which we of course are. I mean, I don't know many other people with a pet dragon, or his foster sister and brother trailing him with a rod and sword in their hands respectively.

We move on and find Samson and Edward up ahead, as well as a weird puzzle. Samson and Edward spend time talking about how a book told them about it but not how to solve it, and that said puzzle vexes them.

It's honestly an alright sliding puzzle. It can be a bit difficult to get pieces to the right row, especially since the top has pieces from both itself and the bottom at the start, but a bit of fiddling around should solve it. Worst comes to worst, you can view how the pieces get scrambled at the start of the cutscene and then unscramble them using this info.

Trying to leave without solving this puzzle leads to an unwinnable fight with Ramue, so uh, don't do that! Inexplicably, when you do solve the puzzle, the priest comes upto you fine, despite being brutally killed in the scene before this fight.

Solving it also opens a door set into a mountain, which leads into a very large and empty room, which then leads into a cave. Inexplicable architecture aside, we soon run into more DRAMA.

Cave of Spirits

We hear some pursuers calling us out from afar. Percy then acts like a bold hero and closes the gate to slow down, breaking its lever on the other side. Annie protests, but is too startled to do anything. Annie exclaims in disbelief, Samson and Edward commend him on his bravery, the team makes facial gestures to Annie, and move on.

We quickly rearrange our formation to put Annie up front, being in the back row reduces physical damage output and for quite a bit of the game, having high physical damage is rather important. Annie, despite her appearances, actually has the same strength as Artur right now, and indeed she can whack things quite well with her rod.

Edward gains AttackLevel 1 from a level up deeper into the cave. This is a fairly potent attack buff, though unfortunately heavily limited by its steep MP cost. We shall make good use of it later. We also find a chest with a Source of Agility in its upper elevation. Unlike the Source of Wisdom, this is actually important, as it lets characters go first before the enemy on a turn. Annie is currently our fastest attacker, but Artur isn't far behind, so we give it to him.

Going further, we find this priest stranded in the cave. If we agree to guide him out, he will trail us at a fair distance. He doesn't fight in battles nor heals the party, but if you take him all the way out, he will leave, and then stay in an inn up ahead where he provides his usual services. Besides that, this cave is entirely unremarkable and the encounters uninteresting, so we move on.

Some grunts report our escape to Ramue. She then proceeds to threaten them all in typical villain fashion, but then claims that we won't receive any assistance in Zalagoon even if we do make it there, ending with a villainous cry of laughter.

Mountain Cottage

While the inn is another poorly constructed, inexplicable monstrosity, and we do nothing of significance there, I might as well link its theme. It's incredibly relaxing and a pleasant change from the monotonous cave theme we just had to endure a while ago. It is also used later on for various towns, which is very much welcome.

Despite this really impressive dragon, the northern cave is mostly a dead end, with enemies just as unimpressive as the cave before it. Annie levels up and learns Awaken, which is a worthless spell. It removes Sleep, as you might expect. Sleep(and most status effects) are simply not common enough to warrant casting it. The only thing we can really pick up here is a Healing Herb, a mildly strong consumable. So we'll head out and right to our next dungeon.

The Tree

The next dungeon occurs within a network of trees, similar visually to a stripped down version of the interiors of Tret Tree. Most of the dungeon consists of puzzles involving shoving cocoons into holes, like this. Or falling through said holes yourself. Going through a detour on the left gets us Steel Mail, a mild defensive upgrade to Samson. Most characters in this game have their own type of armor, with a few exceptions far later into the game.

You may recall that Samson was cursed by Ramue in the prison. This wasn't just a plot point, the curse will randomly make him take roughly a quarter of his damage dealt back to him, or stop him from taking an action. Since Samson can only ever attack, and since he tends to be on the frontline due to his strength, this leads to him killing himself quite a lot later, which is rather frustrating. Right now it's not too bad, just mildly inconvenient.

The enemies here are mildly stronger than in the caves before, but not by much. Certainly not enough to demand any strategy more complex than mashing "Attack" over and over.

Artur learns IllusionLevel 1 from a level up. It's a fairly worthless spell that attempts to inflict Illusion on a group of enemies. Illusion was supposed to work a bit like "Blind" and other similar spells in RPGs, blocking their sight and lowering their attack accuracy. However, because of a bug or poor values, it basically does next to nothing. Even if it did work it would be rather insignificant, since many enemies who are strong enough to warrant status effects instead of raw damage often use spells and spell like effects, not regular attacks.

In other news, Edward also learns IceLevel 1. This is stronger than FireLevel 1, at the cost of being hideously expensive and rather inefficient. As such, throughout this dungeon Edward has been swinging his staff rather than casting spells; he simply doesn't have the MP to sustain any actual spellcasting throughout the dungeon. As you will see, this will actually become a common trend for attack wizards in dungeons in this game.

While this dungeon plays around with the idea of puzzles as obstacles, it doesn't do much with it. The cocoon puzzles never get much harder, only more roundabout. We finally reach the tree branches after much fighting, climbing, and pushing of cocoons down holes.

This however is merely an interlude between this and the next tree. Which is all about bouncing off webs. Yes, seriously. The puzzle here is to drop down onto ground that's not covered by webs, so that we can successfully descend. There's one detour we can take for a Source of Life, a consumable that boosts LP. Huh, LP? But VP is what went down when we took hits right?

So basically, this game uses a reserve health system. VP is our active health, and goes down when we take damage. When it reaches 0, the character is knocked out and becomes "groggy". On their next turn, their LP kicks in, restoring roughly 2 VP per LP used upto the max VP. Sometimes it takes more LP, sometimes it takes less. What this means is that, in most circumstances, you will be able to survive high damage hits, especially random high damage hits, and come back just fine. While for the most part this is a well thought out mechanic, it's let down by poor telegraphing and certain rough encounters. But that's a subject for later.

The last room is an annoying circle of webs where all but one hole leads to Artur's party being bounced back. My patience is greatly exhausted "solving" this trial and error maze.

So I'll leave the next dungeon for later, as it's going to be Yet.Another.Cave. Join me next time when we get to Zalagoon and the game will become interesting again!..Maybe.
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01, June, 2022, 07:12:04 AM
Plexa: We're almost there Daddy Poi, ACE in TLA any day now :)
01, September, 2021, 02:55:35 PM
Daddy Poi's Oily Gorillas: At least for warps.
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Daddy Poi's Oily Gorillas: To think that events are not done via a tilemap in GS3 is interesting, and they'd just be cubes in the size of a tile (I think)... with given coords.
28, March, 2021, 06:10:33 PM
Salanewt: Tiny announcement down here that a new animation pack is now available for download! The Animation Overhaul is required; see the downloads page for more details.
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Daddy Poi's Oily Gorillas: I'm happy ACE is possible and easy in GS1. :D Thank you Tret. Now if we can get GS2 Air's Rock to do ACE, wouldn't that be something.
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Daddy Poi's Oily GorillasSo how long is this site going to be "This website is still under construction, please excuse the mess." :D
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Salanewt: We're more alive than the board implies; most discussion takes place over on the Discord server.
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30, October, 2020, 11:10:23 PM
Salanewt: ... Actually, it's almost time for me to post an update on the forum. It's been coming along really nicely overall, and it was only a couple months or so ago that I added some new status effects to the game.
30, October, 2020, 11:08:41 PM
Salanewt: I need to get it done to start making progress on the parts of the AI Overhaul I want to start working on.
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Salanewt: That's awesome! I'm pretty good; been working on an AI Overhaul project and have made some nice progress in the past couple weeks; the goal for tonight is to add Deadbeard to GS2 and then I can move onto something new.
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