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Dengeki Academy RPG: Cross of Venus

GaijinMonogatariGaijinMonogatari RPGamer StaffRPGamer Staff
edited June 2016 in Staff Review Blogs
This one was first reported back in 2008 in Japandemonium, but I'm only just now trying it out with a very discounted copy I bought not long before the earthquake hit.

---

Last night, the nameless protagonist of Dengeki Academy (let's call him Sho, for convenience) and his probably-girlfriend Kizuna were checking out rumors of a ghost at their school. In the cafeteria, they find this girl stealing food. She's a bit weird, but they don't realize how weird at first. Kizuna even semi-correctly identifies her as cosplaying the character Shana from Shakugan no Shana -- semi, because this actually is Shana, as she proves by destroying a ghost-like monster that conveniently pops up. She's crossed the barrier between the literary and real worlds in search of a fated human. This turns out to be Sho. Instead of bothering to explain, Shana grabs Sho and teleports them into the first book world.

Apparently someone is attempting to disrupt the story worlds, changing or outright preventing major events crafted by the Entertainers who crafted those worlds.

Iriya no Sora, UFO no Natsu

For the record, I have no idea what this book is about, and neither does Sho, so at least we're equally lost. Apparently, someone or something is attempting to sabotage a crucial plot point early in the book, where Iriya first meets the male protagonist and gets a swimming lesson. In fact, the pool where this event takes place has been drained. Searching the pump house reveals that someone has taken the control handle, but they also dropped a key card to the secret military base on the far side of the school.

No, it is not explained why there is a secret military base on the far side of the school grounds; I am assuming that this is covered in the novel series.

All throughout this, Sho is getting bits of combat tutorial at each random encounter. The A button attacks, for up to a basic three-hit combo, but it can be combined with the up button for jump attacks, the down button for strong attacks, or the Y button to add a boosted skill attack to the combo chain. The B button defends against many (but not all) attacks, while the X button switches out the active party member. Combat really resembles the Tales formula, only with a single fighter at a time on my side.

On campus and in the base, the main enemies are soldiers, armed with either combat batons or machine guns. The minor boss of the area is a pair of Men in Black types, and once the pump handle is retrieved these guys become semi-regular random encounters as well.

So, the pump is repaired, the pool is refilled, and the protagonists can continue their fated encounter so that the story will flow properly. Yay. Oh, there's a boss?

--Enomoto--

This guy is not from Iriya no Sora. In fact, he shouldn't be here at all, because only the chosen guardian is supposed to be able to cross literary boundaries. He's the boss of the Men in Black, though, and he's a lot tougher than anything else so far. His bomb attack ignores defense, and he can summon a squad of lackeys to surround the player and open fire. Once you figure out how to avoid them, it's pretty easy to do so, but Sho took a lot of damage in this one.

But in the end, Enomoto is defeated, and he dissolves in a burst of static. Weird. Then Sho and Shana return to the "real" world. A copy of Iriya somehow coalesces out of the ether to follow him. As explained, this Iriya isn't actually the book Iriya, but a magical shadow copy that still has her (lack of ) personality. She can also fight, so there's that. A quick trip around the school shows that Iriya's co-protagonist is also roaming the halls slightly confused, and Shana's male co-protagonist is out in the garden. In the cafeteria, there's a merchant, and I sort of recognize him. Which leads us to book 2...

Spice and Wolf

This is the only book featured in this game that I have actually read, even if I never actually finished it. Unfortunately, Sho is too late to save this one. Enomoto's group already managed to disrupt it, wrecking its reality and consigning it to oblivion. We don't have a name for this group yet, but according to Shana they are working for the forces of Boredom, and intend to make the entire world completely uninteresting.

In order to begin the resuscitation of Spice and Wolf, Sho needs to find the seed of the plot, a crystalized essence of the seminal plot point. It took me far longer than it should have to find it, because in my slightly sleep-deprived state I forgot that the first big scene happens in a horse-drawn trader's wagon. See, it actually pays to read these books... Anyhoo, the book world is still a mess, but there is at least some hope.

Now all I need to do is find the actual next book that needs attention: Kino no Tabi. It's not on the shelf, like Spice and Wolf was, even though it was specifically named as my next destination.

Comments

  • GaijinMonogatariGaijinMonogatari RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff

    Well d'oh, as it turns out, I do not have to use the bookshelf to access the next spot; that's for going back to previous areas. Instead, all I have to do is ask Kizuna the bibliovore to explain the next section and confirm that I'm ready to go. So, here we go...

    Kino no Tabi

    I should probably mention that every time we start a new area, Sho gets a flash of whatever pivotal scene is about to be affected. In this case, it's a combat match between Kino and Shizu, the male co-protagonist for her story. We land in the middle of a bloody, smelly colisseum, much to Sho's dismay. There's a switch all the way on the right side that opens the gate forward, but that just gets us a glimpse of Kino entering the arena area as the drawbridge goes up. A nearby switch unlocks a door back in the first corridor, where there's a simple switch puzzle, which activates a different nearby switch, which opens the front gate...

    Yeah, they kinda overdid it on this one.

    We need to take the sewer route through, but the way there is blocked by this dude in need of some high-proof liquid courage, which can be found in one of the barrels in the starting area. After that, it's pretty simple to wend through the under areas, fighting crazy gladiators, survivalists, and camo-clad ladies with rifles. The main gate to the arena is shut tight, but there's a side door a bit to the left that we can pass through.

    Inside we meet... Shizu? Nope, it's actually a clone of his, created by the Dream-Breakers. Kino and Shizu are supposed to come out of this encounter as allies, but it's the clone's job to make sure that this doesn't occur. So we beat him up and save the day instead.

    Of course, once we're back at school, it turns out that Kino, Shizu, and Kino's talking motorcycle have all come along for the ride as well.

    On to the next challenge!


    A Certain Magical Index

    The scene flash for this section is a bit more of a "flash". Specifically, it's the scene where the protagonist, Touma, is trying to prove his nigh-undetectable psi ability, and accidentally nullifies the magic effect that keeps her clothes on her body. Sho spends much of the episode being embarrassed over that, and over the comments from Shana, Iriya, and Kino.

    The city of this title is a lot more sci-fi than the previous ones, with trashcan-shaped security droids that summon other enemies to the battle (good for exp, at least). The main enemies seem to be pyrokinetic guys with mohawks, and teleporter gals who have some interesting tricks, such as teleporting parts of the ground onto Sho's head, or even teleporting him to other parts of the battlefield in order to stun him.

    We can't cross the bridge because Kino's gun is setting off the security and we don't have a security pass. Heading back the other way, we meet a girl named Yomigawa who is looking for her purse. The purse is currently stuck in a cleaning droid, which is malfunctioning because of it, but as soon as Sho removes the obstruction, this other annoying girl crashes in convinced that we're tampering with things illegally, and she shoots lightning.

    After a quick getaway, Sho checks through the purse to find a security pass. Score. Then, right after we get past the droid, crazy lightning girl shows up and tries to zap us. She hits the droid instead, but then goes to blame it on us anyway.

    The only obstacle left is an invisible barrier that's keeping Sho from continuing down the street. After some backtracking, he finds three magical seals (one in each screen area so far), plus one more up ahead from where the barrier is. Of course, then we get to deal with the guy who set the barriers...

    --Stiyl Magnus--

    This one's not a copy. He's an actual character from this book, only he's appearing several chapters (maybe even volumes) ahead of his intended entrance. He hits hard, but his HP is pretty low.

    Once he's down, we get to re-witness the meeting between Touma and Index, only skipping out before the clothes fall off.

    Back at school, everyone's teasing Sho about his reaction, Kizuna gets a little ticked that he saw someone else naked, and then Index pops in wanting to know what's so funny. So we have to explain.... At least she takes it well and no one gets hurt.
  • NyxNyx Staff Girly Girl RPGamer Staff
    I am actually enjoying the blog for this one, but I remember it being a game back in 2008 that I remember asking you about because it just sounded like fandom fodder... for light novel series I have no idea about.

    Hopefully it stays interesting!
  • GaijinMonogatariGaijinMonogatari RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff
    Nyx wrote: »
    I am actually enjoying the blog for this one, but I remember it being a game back in 2008 that I remember asking you about because it just sounded like fandom fodder... for light novel series I have no idea about.

    Hopefully it stays interesting!

    It actually seems to be pretty anti-fanfic, since the main point of each section is to prevent outside forces from interfering with the original intentions of the Entertainers.

    ----

    Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu (The Mystery of Haruka Nogizaka)

    Sho is kind of relieved to hear Kizuna's synopsis of this one. No post-apocalyptic combat, no demons, no crazy psychic powers. It all sounds a pretty normal excursion into a high school much like his own. Unfortunately, when the group tries to go straight into the school, they get called out for having unfamiliar uniforms, and then Sho actually asks "What IS the secret of Haruka Nogizaka?" out loud. Haruka happens to be the most popular girl in school, a true local idol, and her fan club decides that Sho must be a crazy stalker from another school. Every enemy in this chapter is a school club kid, fighting with tennis balls, soccer balls, twirling batons, etc.

    Going in the front door is out, and the back door to the school is locked. Someone has the bright idea to visit Haruka's (ridiculously huge) house to find the key, but the fan club spies them sneaking into the garden, so it's a battle all the way.

    One of Haruka's maids is willing to find the key for us, if we help her find three pieces of sheet music that Haruka needs for her piano recital. One is in the drawing room where the piano is, the second is on the third-story balcony for some reason, and the third is in the inner courtyard garden. For reasons that probably make sorta sense in the novel series, there is a baby wild boar running around in the courtyard, which complicates the retrieval effort.

    Once we DO find all three and turn them in, the maid rushes off without really saying thanks, though she does drop the key we need. Back at the school, we find the room where Haruka is supposed to be, only to find one last fan club girl barring the way. The Dream Breakers have hit upon a new strategy: controlling actual characters from the story in such a way that they sabotage major scenes. Case in point, the archery club girl guarding Haruka has had her idol loyalty turned up to 11, to the point where no one is getting by her. But this means that the male protagonist can't accidentally stumble in to discover Haruka's dark secret... that she's really the biggest anime and game nerd in the school.

    At least when she inevitably shows up at the "real world" school, she has no problems believing the situation. Her first reaction is something along the lines of "Oh, you mean like in <name that RPG>?"


    Bokusatsu Tenshi Dokuro-chan (Dokuro, Blunt Instrument of Heaven)

    And this next story actually has Sho freaking out even before we arrive. A story premise based entirely on a not-too-bright angel repeatedly beating a pervy teenager over the head with a spiked club while still defending his life against other angels who'd rather kill him straight than try to reform him, well...

    Seriously, the base novel series for this one is pretty stupid. The male protagonist is already a bit of a perv, but apparently he is destined for even greater and pervier things. In his quest to produce the perfect lolita-type, he accidentally hits upon the secret of eternal life and youth, which freezes the world's female population permanently at an approximate age of 12 or 13. This plays havoc with Heaven's accounting, so Dokuro-chan is sent back in time to deal with the problem before it ever happens. The pivotal scene for this chapter is the one where she decides that reforming the protagonist is a better idea than killing him outright, and then defends him against a different angel, the haloed and horned Sabbat.

    Sho & co. get warped in right outside the room where the showdown occurs, but are then immediately trapped inside a weird, extradimensional dungeon full of cute animals in business suits. There are also tons of switches on the walls, only one of which passes Sho on to the next section of the dungeon. A few of them may reveal items to pick up, but most are linked to dangerous traps that either drop stuff on his head, shoot him with arrows, flambee his hair, or in one case causes tentacles to sprout from the wall, dragging him screaming into an unseen maw, at which time unspeakable things are done to his person and he loses all of his EP.

    Both Shana and Kino twig pretty quickly to the fact that there's something odd about the floorplans in this place, and if you pay attention to the map on the lower screen you can see that the floors are actually designed like katakana.

    1st  エ
    2nd ス
    3rd カ
    4th リ
    5th ボ
    6th ル
    7th グ

    On the seventh floor, all the switches are labeled with kana, and you have to spell out the name of Dokuro-chan's weapon, Escaliborg, to proceed.

    Waiting for us back at the big scene is Sabbat, the other angel. Only... Sabbat is ALSO back behind us, in the actual scene. The Dream Breakers are messing with characters again, this time convincing Sabbat to work with them. She really is unhappy to be stuck in the past with practically no resources or clean underwear, and so she let herself get cloned by the Dream Breakers in the hopes that a two-on-one fight against Dokuro might be winnable.

    The resulting fight is pretty silly, and even a little difficult since Sabbat has some unblockable super attacks that she likes to spam.

    Back at school, Dokuro-chan of course shows up, much to Sho's dismay. She's an idiot angel with a huge, spiked club. What could possibly go wrong?
  • TheAnimeManTheAnimeMan Member Full Members
    Bokusatsu Tenshi Dokuro-chan (Dokuro, Blunt Instrument of Heaven)

    I remember watching the anime for this one when it came out. Although using a slightly different translation for the title.
    http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=5094
    sig.gif

    28 years of gaming and still going strong
    and now a mostly annoyed Father with first son. And now a father again to a second son :D

    Winner of the 2015-2016 Fantasy gaming Pool
  • GaijinMonogatariGaijinMonogatari RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff
    Yeah, I didn't like the grammatical aesthetics of the straight translation :p
  • GaijinMonogatariGaijinMonogatari RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff
    ToraDora

    This should have been a straightforward jaunt. The narrative world of ToraDora isn't too different from reality, the female protagonist's tendency to half-murder people notwithstanding. Alas, it looks like the Dream Breakers have taken control of a lot of high school club members, specifically the basketball and kendo clubs, and we're going to have to fight our way out of an apartment high-rise first. The building is where Taiga, the leading lady of the story, lives. Her unfortunate male counterpart, Ryuuji, lives in a nearby building and was unlucky enough to find a love letter she'd written to another boy. This ties in with the aforementioned half-murdering schtick.

    There's one more problem for Sho, however. Taiga's apartment building has been rigged with all sorts of booby-traps and levers, and a certain idiot angel (DOKURO!!!) can't help but pull any suspicious lever she finds because, hey, it wouldn't be suspicious if it weren't important. This is how the stairwell to the ground floor gets flooded with poison gas, so Sho has to work his way up to the fifth floor, past the landmines on the third and the pitfalls on the fourth, not to mention the various trapped levers on the fifth, to find a way to disarm the entire razzafrackin' building.

    Then, just to get out, we have to walk over a series of tiles in a way that spells out something important to the novel. This would obviously be less difficult if I'd actually read the thing, but... The group chat function (Y button) actually proved useful here, giving me just enough info to succeed. The password out is actually Taiga's nickname, "a tiger in the hand" or てのりタイガー.

    Right outside Ryuuji's house is a girl named Minori, who is the object of Ryuuji's own affections as well as Taiga's best friend. Except, this Minori is a fake, created by the Dream Breakers to squash any chance of the novel's intertwined romantic plots from happening. Minori is on the softball team, and swings a mean bat, but she's not nearly as tough as some bosses in the game.

    Sho and co. leave the scene right as Taiga is threatening to cave Ryuuji's head in with a wooden sword, but that's actually how the scene is supposed to play out. Back at school, Sho is so shaken by it that he can't stop talking about how stupid a reaction it was, etc., and it was only a love letter... and Taiga appears right behind him. WHAM! It takes a while to talk her down after that...


    Asura Cryin'

    This novel world, on the other hand, is nothing like reality in many respects. For starters, the pivotal scene involves demonic contracts and the binding of a human soul into a mechanical abomination -- and these are the good guys. The level is a creepy looking house filled with demonic beasts and automata, as well as the secret base below it. Oh, and password locked doors. Lots of them.

    There are some clues to help with the passwords, at least. For the first door, the cellar entrance to the base below, a memo points Sho to check under the cherry tree outside. Legends say that cherry trees will have dead bodies buried under them, as Dokuro-chan is happy to point out. This one has a gravestone beneath it, with the word Meiou-Tei (メイオウテイ), which is the name of the student dorm where the protagonists live, but is translatable as "Pluto's Residence" (the king of the underworld, not the dog).

    The underground base has a lot of strange things in it, including a giant medieval mecha and a bottomless pit. The second password hint is over by the mecha, and references something Sho read in a book upstairs. This one is harder to figure out without knowledge of the book, but it's the name of the possesses armors in the series, the Asura Machina (アスラ‐マキーナ). To be honest, I'm not sure how to properly create the dot in the middle of the term, but it's necessary for getting the password right. If you get it wrong twice, security demon-doggies appear with the right answer. Sho just has to beat them up first.

    The walkways past that point have a lot of drop-offs, so we can't get to the last area directly. Instead, there's a button to press, which creates a bridge across that bottomless pit. On the far side of that, right about where the cherry tree would be on the grounds above, there is a pile of bones. See? Dokuro-chan was right! Searching through the bones gets Sho a key, but also two fights against security automata.

    The key lets us go through the third door on that floor, which gets us on the right pathway to reach the far end of the level. There's one more password to get through, and the memo clue even contains a kanji that Sho can't read. From the description, it's definitely a "burial doll" (べリアル‐ドール), the human sacrifice placed inside an Asura Machina to make it function.

    On the other side, in the big summoning chamber, is Reishiro Saeki, an actual character from the story who's not happy with the role he's been given, and so he's thrown in with the Dream Breakers. He's also got his own machina to back him up, which complicates the battle a bit. The machina takes all hits for him, and even when it's defending he can still be shooting off his machine gun, so it's difficult to pull off good attack combos. I ended up messing with the support card system that Index and Haruka provide, doing things like switching all my active attackers to an element in opposition to the boss, boosting attack, defense, or regeneration, as well as a few active healing or attack effects. I beat the thing on the second attempt. Yay.





  • GaijinMonogatariGaijinMonogatari RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff
    Whew, I've let this slide a bit... time to catch up!

    Shakugan no Shana

    The official eighth world to visit is Shana's home volume, though she isn't too enthusiastic about letting others see the seminal event in need of protection. It involves locking the male protagonist in his own closet while she changes clothes, for one thing.

    When Sho arrives, the first thing noted is a strange little ragdoll, floating in the air. This is Marianne, the familiar to one of the series antagonists, and she leads us on a merry chase around the neighborhood, summoning demonic kewpie dolls on a regular basis. Eventually she flies into an apartment building not far from where we started, but the front door is locked. The back fence looks shaky, though... Sho borrowed a pickaxe from a nearby construction site to tear the thing down and get in.

    Inside, we're supposed to look for a good spot for a magic circle, and the roof is the best spot. When we get up there, though, there's nothing. Way down in the basement, however, there's a different magic circle. As it turns out, the building we're in isn't the "real" one, but a magical fake. We need to use the basement circle to phase over to the real one, then get to the roof. But we have to take the correct route, or the phasing effect cuts out and we're stuck in the fake one again. Whenever we get near the elevator for a particular floor, Marianne shows up again to go "Nyah, nyah!" and run up one of the staircases. The correct thing to do is take whichever stairs Marianne does NOT take.

    Up on the roof is Friagne, Marianne's master and habitual tool. He's also the first boss to make regular use of flight (and one of the few enemies in the game to do so, in fact), so he can be hard to hit at times.

    Afterward, we finally get to see the rest of the scene play out, where the protagonist, tired of being shut inside his own closet, bursts out just as Shana has got her top off. The scene fades away before Sho can see anything, much to his dismay. When he expresses this, however, Shana and Kizuna both give him a good shouting.
  • GaijinMonogatariGaijinMonogatari RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff
    Checking in with the store in the cafeteria, it turns out there's an optional book for sale. Boccano is another novel that the Dream Breakers managed to ruin, and like Spice and Wolf it's an endlessly repeating forest area with random items scattered around it, one of which holds the plot seed for the book. It's the train, for the record. Apparently the inaugural scene of the novel happens at a train station.

    So now the main character of Boccano is running a casino in the school basement.

    Iriya no Sora, UFO no Natsu

    Now that we have all eight heroines, it's time to revisit some areas. Iriya's school is preparing for its culture festival, and the male protagonist is having a serious discussion with a teacher on the roof of one building. Sho has to make sure this conversation doesn't get interrupted, so after confirming that the two are where they're supposed to be, we do some scouting around. In the mystery base on campus, we run into one of Shana's associates, who doesn't know how he arrived, but he's happy chilling for now. He's not the only one out of place, though; along with the military dudes we saw before, there have been random encounters with security bots and teleporters from A Certain Magical Index. Boundaries are wearing thin, and the Dream Breakers are getting serious.

    Outside, Sho gets a bad premonition, seeing a vision of the school's bell tower toppling to the earth and ruining the festival. We need to get into that building to prevent that, but the student at the door isn't letting any strangers through. Shana's got this trick, though, that lets her essentially freeze time. It only works on people connected to her novel's shadow world, so we need to head back to her associate to get an item to let Sho and the others get around that little issue.

    So, Shana stops time, and everyone else stops moving... except for the kid at the door. That's because he's really a shadow-world monster disguised as a kid. In reality, he's a round wind-up doll of a thing that throws iron popsicles, swoops at you with mechanical bat wings, and drops venomous caterpillars from the sky. There will be plenty of these guys throughout the building, but eventually Sho gets to the bell tower, where the boss waits.

    --Sydonay--

    This is one of the big villains from Shakugan no Shana, and he hits hard with the fire spells. When he's low on HP, he starts spamming this attack where he turns into a Chimera and rushes across the screen. I had to rearrange my Dengeki Cards to alter my strengths and his weaknesses, not to mention using the healing cards a lot.

    Once he's down, Shana releases the time-freeze, and the plot event continues as planned.

    And in a brief "Meanwhile..." scene, a certain magical fake character gets incinerated by the real deal. Which brings us back to...

    A Certain Magical Index

    This time, we need to protect a character, namely Stihl, the guy whose body-double we beat up the last time we were here. Stihl is sighted right from the start, heading down a manhole and into the sewers. It's a bit of a maze down there, but not too bad. We emerge in the far upper-right corner of the area, behind some skyscrapers. When we try to go through the skyscraper area, though... we get lost. There are redirect wards hidden all over, and it takes a lot of practice to thread the correct path and make it out. Oh, and we're under constant attack by pyrokinetics and the murder-dolls from Asura Cryin'.

    That's not the last of the problems, though. There's a huge security drone blocking the way, and it's loud enough to wake the dead (or ruin the scene). Shana stops time before that can happen, but we're still stuck for beating the thing. The three card-using characters (Index, Haruka, and Misao from Asura Cryin') figure that if they combine the effect of three Dengeki Cards, specifically the Electro Master cards, then they can blow the thing up. So back down into the sewers we go to find the cards.

    Cards collected, droid blown up, and here comes Stihl... who attacks us. Yes, it's the real him, and he's hellbent on altering the path of the story because he still doesn't like how it turns out. Specifically, the scene we're protecting is one where he absolutely fails to take out the male protagonist, and instead gets whupped by the psionic null force, etc. He's a little tougher than the first time around, but nowhere near as bad as the previous boss.

  • GaijinMonogatariGaijinMonogatari RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff
    Kino no Tabi

    We're back in a familiar book, but a completely unfamiliar location. For this chapter, we're visiting "Otona no Kuni", or the Land of Grown-Ups, which is one of the various strange lands Kino visits on her gulliverian voyage. The scene is some sort of confrontation between a traveller and a local, but the outcome... Well, last time we were supposed to protect someone, but this time, we have to NOT protect someone. More on that in a bit.

    First, upon arrival Sho and Shana are immediately suspicious of all the people in the streets, and there's the serious possibility that one or more citizens are actually phantom-world impostors sent by the Dream-Breakers. But when Shana tries her time-stop trick, it fizzles. Something is blocking it. Index draws a magic circle on the ground, and that actually helps for a moment, but we're going to need more circles and better drawing materials, because what we've got isn't strong enough to last if someone walks over it.

    So we are on a quest... for paint! After looping around the overly circuitous routes of the city, we meet a man who can sell us some paint for just three gold coins... which we do not have. To get some local legal tender, we first take a job delivering a package to a man at the town entrance, which gets us two coins. Then we use those two coins to buy a bouquet of flowers from a lady on the east side of town, and sell those to a worried boyfriend in the northeast corner for three coins. Then we head back to the paint salesman to get the paint.

    Luckily the game repeatedly shows the player a map of town where the circles need to be drawn, and Index will do so automatically when you get close enough. Time-stop is initiated from a point near the center of town, and those mumbly, suspicious citizens do in fact turn out to be killer kewpie dolls. Fighting our way up to the northwest corner of town (which Kino had us avoid earlier), we prevent one of the kewpie dolls from killing the fat man who's threatening the traveller with a knife.

    Normal time resumes, and a new figure steps out of the shadows. It's Kino's mentor, the one who taught her everything about marksmanship... or so it appears at first. This mentor is a fake, and she's pretty tough. All of her attacks are fast and long-distance, and her attack type is directly opposed to both Sho and Shana, so hopefully the player likes Taiga's and Dokuro's fighting styles. Her big attack is to pull out a gatling gun, hitting the player directly as she puts it down, then firing off a large number of powerful, unblockable shots. If at all possible, jump behind her before she can whip it out, but if not, then take the first hit and get a short grace period from damage while the barrage goes on.

    Now comes the scene. Apparently the fat man is Kino's dad, an in accordance with the traditions of the Kingdom of Adults, he's about to subject his daughter to an operation that will force her to be happy with her adult life, whatever it is that is chosen for her. A wandering traveller objects to this, and when the father lunges at the daughter, he takes the hit for her. The invasive monsters were supposed to impersonate local citizens standing in support of the traveller, preventing his death. But at the same time, his death was supposed to inspire the young girl named Sakura to take the traveller's name (Kino) and begin her own remarkable journey.

    Once they're back at school, both Kino and Sho take separate long walks to think things over. This adventure was not what our protagonist was expecting.
  • GaijinMonogatariGaijinMonogatari RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff
    edited June 2016
    Shakugan no Shana

    The next scene to protect in this novel takes place the morning after the last one. In-book Shana has stayed the night at the male protagonist's bedroom for his protection, and is about to wake up. Something is lurking outside the apartment to ensure that it is a rude awakening.

    When Sho gets to the apartment building, there is a surprise waiting in the lot across the street: Shuri Kurosaki, a teenage girl from Asura Cryin'. Or at least, it's a replica of Shuri under the control of the Dream-Breakers. If this doesn't sound like much, please realize that Shuri was rebuilt after a bad plane crash in her own narrative, and is now a nigh-unstoppable T-1000 style cybernetic killing machine who normally is pretty nice and gets along well with Misao and the rest of her novel's cast. And she's under the control of the bad guys. While I CAN attack her right now, the game offers the option to run away, which is definitely the better choice. At a rough estimate, based on how much damage I was doing versus how little her health bar went down, she has in the neighborhood of 50,000 HP. Her missile barrages (5 or 6 hits) do over 700 HP damage with each hit, which is enough to K.O. any character I have.

    So run away it is! Shuri chases us halfway across the neighborhood, and we only lose her by ducking down a manhole. Now the question is, how do we stop her? Index has one idea, but it requires an item belonging to the actual Shuri. For just a little bit, we get to duck over to Asura Cryin' to raid Shuri's room and get an undershirt.

    The problem now is getting to a location where we can put this to good use. Aboveground, we run the risk of getting slaughtered, so we're trying to find the closest approximate point underground. The water flow of the sewers doesn't help, though. We need to go all the way to the west end of town and use one of those manholes to get access to the pump stations, one after another, to work our way south and east to the spot directly under Shuri's den. The Y-button chat helps here, because Shana will tell which cardinal direction that point is at, based on the current position.

    Anyway, spell is cast and Shuri is disabled, or at least brought to manageable levels. If Sho fights her now, her HP is significantly lower and she is paralyzed for the entire battle, so she only rarely attacks.

    The bigger problem, once Shuri is neutralized, is that we've caught the attention of a local, one Margery Daw. Technically she's supposed to be one of Shana's allies, but that doesn't mean she doesn't like a good fight from time to time. She's a flyer, riding around on her magic talking grimoire, and the fireballs are a constant hazard.

    The full scene from the novel is actually kind of cute, though Shana is embarrassed half to death by it.



  • GaijinMonogatariGaijinMonogatari RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff
    A Certain Magical Index

    It's our third visit to this world, and we finally have a completely different location -- a traffic-clogged highway and neighboring side-streets. But, no one's in evidence. It's like the entire place is abandoned, and yet here and there we can hear different sounds or smell foods. There are also plenty of rune cards scattered around that will warp Sho back to the start. Much like in the previous chapter, something is interfering with Shana's time-stop, so we'll need to set magic circles at both ends of the highway area before using the time-stop at the big flowerbed with the windmill about halfway down.

    But then things get really weird. Something interferes with the time-stop field, and the world sort of blinks out. Stuff's still there, only it's completely invisible. The only way to break out of the effect is to destroy the rune cards, though it also may be necessary to defeat the handful of minions that can be seen on-screen during this period. I suppose it's intended for Sho to have to navigate by sounds and smells, but the mini-map still works, so it's easier to just use that.

    When the final card is destroyed, Sho heads back to the end of the highway to look for the person we're technically supposed to be protecting, an important scene character named Kaori, who's supposed to be fighting the protagonist. The bad guys obviously put a lot of effort into breaking that scene, so who's going to face us in the end?

    --Kaori Kanzaki--

    The very person we're supposed to be protecting from interference. Or perhaps a copy of her. To be honest, I wasn't paying too much attention to the dialogue on this one, so I'm not sure what her motivations are, but she's not that difficult an opponent. Dokuro-chan's third special, the embarrassed counterattack, works incredibly well here.

    After returning to the school, there's a short conversation concerning the Entertainers, and the notion is floated that every world has such a creative force behind it, even the one with Sho and Kizuna's school. Food for thought...


    The Secret of Haruka Nogizaka

    This one was annoying. The scene is one of Haruka's memories, where as a child she was given a manga while in the park. When Sho arrives, however, he's in Haruka's drawing room, and there's an enemy near the piano. After beating her, we get teleported to a strange place with seven doors, but we can't choose where we appear or which door we go through. For the longest time, I only went through the same three doors, and I couldn't figure out why, but then it hit me...

    In each of the rooms I'd visited, I found a memo with the name of a character and a food. After each teleport, the destination is determined by the person who finished off the enemy. So for the first time in the game, I'm forced to constantly shuffle through my active party. When Sho has all six memo pages, Haruka points out that each food contains a syllable that matches a number in Japanese (this is a common word game over here). Going by this, the order is Taiga, Shana, Dokuro, Kino, Sho, and Iriya, and then we're in the park where the scene should happen. And waiting for us is... trouble.

    --Aureolus--

    This is a guy who has style, what with the white suit and slick-backed hair. He occasionally throws a cigarette to the ground to trigger different spell effects, tosses knives across the entire field of battle, and he frequently teleports all over as well. His big attack is to change into a fiery, amorphous demon thing and wham the ground with a big stone cross.

    Once he's down, the scene continues as written, and everyone leaves. Before the game cuts back to the school, though, a mysterious woman named Boogie-Pop shows up, says vaguely mysterious things, and then disappears.
  • GaijinMonogatariGaijinMonogatari RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff
    Went shopping at the school and found a new book!

    Inukami!

    This one's another world that's already ruined. As soon as we have the book, the female protagonist of Inukami!, Yoko, will appear in the library. She can teleport Sho to any spot in the school, but only from the library. Inside her book, we need to find this bluish dog/fox statue to get the plot seed and ensure that the story will one day be revived. In thanks, Yoko gives Sho an item that will let him exit a novel world at any time, and not just through the special circle at the starting point.

    Now it's on to...


    Shakugan no Shana

    For this second-to-last chapter, we are back in Shana's world, but this time we're not patrolling her neighborhood. Instead, we are in an abandoned department store. Stuff is piled up everywhere and shelves are located willy-nilly, blocking access to some areas, so we have to go back and forth between the stairwells and the escalators to make any progress. The villain for this area is Friagne, again, and Sho will have frequent run-ins with the dude's "brides". These mannequins in bridal wear have rapier-bouquets and a license to inflict status ailments (which one depends on the color of the dress), and there are several set encounters throughout the level. One, by an otherwise dead-end spot near the north stairs, even gives us a key.

    On the third floor, there's a working elevator in the upper right corner, but first we're going to have to take on Marianne. The little twerp of a doll is set on defending her master, and she's right annoyingly good at it. It's not that she's particularly strong, but she's one on of the smallest enemies in the game and constantly in flight, so it's very difficult to hit her with any strong attacks. Shana's the best at hitting things in mid-air with her jumping attack, and several others (Sho, Dokuro, and Taiga) have attack combos that can hit her on an upswing, but the bulk of the damage will have to be from Dengeki attack cards.

    Up on the roof and through a locked door (we got the key from one of the bride battles, remember?) we find Friagne on the roof. The dude's hiding in the middle of a magic circle filled with runes, and the only way to get to him is to walk the write sequence in order. If we mess up, we get sent back to an earlier room with three consecutive bride battles.

    Marianne definitely left us with a clue in her final words, and for a while I was convinced that the word to spell out was in fact "Marianne". There's even the rune version of M on the right side of the circle, but that's a red herring. In order to get the right password, we have to trudge back through the department store, locate what's left of the bookstore, and find a dictionary to translate one phrase that she uses into English: "LOST PLEASURE." Upon closer inspection, most of the letters in the circle are not actually Futhark, but just Latin letters done up in a pseudo-Nordic font.

    Friagne's not much tougher than he was back in Chapter 9, but he's got a new finisher attack that summons four brides to attack. Shana is fast enough to avoid it; the others generally are not. Still, he's not too hard to beat up.

    ---

    Back at school, something weird... er, weirder happens. All this time, we've been hearing the word Zetsumu, which I've been rendering as Dream-Breakers because I thought it was the name of an organization, or perhaps a personified force like the Nothing from the Never-Ending Story. Zetsumu is a real character, though, and he's Sho's shadow. Literally, the dude's shadow, and he's been controlling all of the antagonists this entire time. I forgot to mention, but Sho has been having occasional headaches and visions of the eight heroines all crucified on a hill. This is Zetsumu's dream come true -- that all other stories become null, and only his book survives to be enjoyed.

    Zetsumu disappears, cackling, and Sho is left to ponder the consequences. By traipsing across the eight story worlds, he's given Zetsumu the chance to strengthen his grip on reality, and now all the worlds will soon come apart. Thing is, since Sho and Zetsumu are apparently two sides of the same being, destroying one would probably destroy both, and their own world would get destroyed. "Dengeki Gakuen" is effectively the same thing as any of the book worlds, and Sho is the protagonist. All the memories he shares with Kizuna are the creation of that world's Entertainer, which helps explain why, even though they know about all their classmates, none of these classmates actually appear to attend the school right now.

    In other words, this section is "The Game gets meta and Sho gets depressed." Let's skip ahead to where we go kick butt.

    Dengeki Gakuen

    Sho and company appear outside a fortress-like necropolis. Most of the tomb entrances are collapsed, but there's a wall in the back that could be taken out. The pickax we got from Chapter 9 won't be enough though. South of that point is the Tomb of the Pyrotechnician, however, and there are still two bombs to be found therein (as well as a boss). The first one gets used to open the way.

    (Should mention here that it's pretty interesting that all the mini-bosses in this area are semi-unique sprites, appearing only in this level and only in this role. A few of them repeat, but I wasn't expecting anything like them at this point in the game)

    Up, down, and around, and now we're getting somewhere in the crypts below. There's a washout area where the current is too strong, and right beyond that is a magic mirror that pulls us right in.

    And now we're in... Iriya's high school? Things are looking a little off, as the seams of reality begin to split apart, but her male protagonist is waiting by the pool. He gives her a weird stone before disappearing. We get kicked out of the mirror right before it cracks.

    That's about how it goes for the next few bits. Scattered around the lower levels are seven more mirrors, though the last one only becomes accessible by drop-off when the rest are finished.

    For Kino's world, we have to speak to Hermes the Talking Motorcycle up where the showdown occurred in the Kingdom of Adults.

    For Haruka's world, we have to wend our way around the garden path to find her male protagonist and her little sister.

    For Index's world, we need to get across the bridge and to the end of the road at the far end to find Touma.

    For Dokuro's world, we need to navigate an annoying maze (with no sub-map), only to get teleported back to the beginning when we find Sakura-kun. Dokuro gets so annoyed that she ends up stepping off the edge of the maze and into empty space... only to discover it's just a carpet made to look like empty space. Shortcut unlocked, we go to beat up a mini-boss and get the fifth spirit stone.

    For Misao's world, we have to make our way through the wreckage of the base beneath the Meiou-Tei dorm to find her male protagonist next to the giant suit of devil armor.

    For Taiga's world, things have become pretty well cracked up by this point. While sometimes seen in the previous excursions, there's plenty of empty space in Taiga's apartment now. Stepping on one it will send us right back to the necropolis, only to make our way back to the mirror and start over again. It's easier to just make a save and re-load if that happens. Anyhoo, Taiga's apartment is completely blocked off, so we need to head to the fifth floor, break into the apartment there, and use that other bomb from before to blast our way into Taiga's living room. Ryuuji isn't surprised at all, and gives us the seventh spirit stone.

    Finally, there's Shana's world. There isn't much left of this one, and we'll have to make use of the sewer system to get anywhere. Eventually we come to where the male protagonist's apartment building should be, but it's already gone, and he's fading fast too. Shana leaps to grab hold, but he fades away in her arms. When we get booted out of the cracked mirror, she has the final spirit stone in her hand.

    Back in the necropolis, there's a spot with eight crosses. It's pretty obvious to find, even if you didn't get booted their by the inky void previously. Place all eight stones at the foot of the appropriate crosses, and the way to Zetsumu is opened. Now we just need to beat him.

    --Zetsumu--

    At first, he doesn't seem so bad. He's just a palette-swapped Sho with some shadowy flame effects. Dokuro's counter-attack finisher can end him almost single-handedly.

    Too bad he can't just stop there.

    --The True Zetsumu--

    This version's a lot bigger and a lot more monster-y. It's also got a ton more HP and some nasty attacks. In fact, it has a more than one multi-stage attack where it morphs into a series of different bosses to use their special attacks. That's not counting its actual special attack, which blacks out the entire screen before he attacks and smacks the lead character with an ability-sealing status. It's possible to dodge, but really hard. He also likes to literally rain poison down on people's heads.

    Frankly, I'm surprised I was able to take this guy down on the first try.




    Afterwards, Zetsumu is screaming about how Sho has doomed them to oblivion. Sho just says "It was worth it" and then the game goes to credits. All the way at the end of the credits, things get even more meta when Shana addresses the player directly, asking him/her to please always remember what happened, because that way the story can keep going and Sho will never truly disappear.

    ----

    Random post-game stuff:
    The dev room is open now in the southeast corner of the school. Lots of rare cards available therein.
    Mikoto of A Certain Scientific Railgun appears in the library. If you can beat her, she joins as your tenth party member.

    There are also some other post-game bosses, but I'm not sure how many of those are exclusive to the 2011 edition of the game.


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