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Star Ocean Blue Sphere

GaijinMonogatariGaijinMonogatari RPGamer StaffRPGamer Staff
Yay, getting back to this one after many years. I had to give up on it almost a decade ago because my Japanese wasn't up to snuff. Now I'm having no problems :D

---

So we start with a decent sprite-animation FMV sequence, which is pretty darn good for a GBC game. It takes up about the first 50 seconds of this video:



The story is that Opera and Ernest, the two Tetrageniot adventures who crashed into the middle of Star Ocean 2 once upon a time, have gotten themselves lost again on some far-flung world, and their friends received a distress signal soon after. Young Precis does her best to land the space ship in mostly one piece, but the engine is a total loss. Now the search is on for their missing friends as well as some means of either repairing or replacing their ship for the trip home.

From the very beginning, we have the following characters available:

Precis F. Neumann -- mechanical genius, spoiled brat, and nominal main character at the start.
Ashton Anchors -- still has those two dragons on his back
Bowman Jeanne -- kick-butt pharmacist
Chisato Madison -- intrepid reporter lady
Celine Jules -- magical lady of mystery
Noel Chandler -- animal lover
Leon D.S. Geeste -- the other resident genius
Dias Flac -- swordsman who takes stoicism to new heights

I'm free to stop by the spaceship at any time via teleporter to switch out party members, and the game pools Skill Points that can be used on any character to increase a skill level and add some ability points.

----Scute Village and the Ruins of Maille----

Right off the bat, just as the party is discussing the need to determine if there's anyone even living on this piece of green-covered rock, we run into a native kid. He promptly runs away. A few screens later, after a fight with a Kobold and some fuzzy tribble-things, we get to save the kid from another Kobold. This gets us a meeting with his grandpa the elder of Scute Village as well as some necessary background information.

Apparently there are ruins scattered all over the world, leftovers from a previous civilization. Wondrous items, known colloquially as Gifts, are sometimes found in these ruins, so the adventuring business can be quite lucrative. The eastern exit of Scute is currently blocked, but there may still be some usable ordinance in the nearby Ruins of Maille

The ruins are pretty well excavated by this point, and the big dangers are the Land Worms and the Guardian robots that still wander its halls. It's easy enough to first locate the room on the second floor where a Kobold has the Maille Key, then use the key to get access to the stairwell, and finally reach the back room on one of the higher floors that has a switch to activate the escalators. There are a few doors that won't open yet because they don't have power reaching them, so it might be necessary to revisit this place sometime. Certainly, I couldn't find a way to reach the side room with a treasure chest and a Green Dragon, but I could still get close enough to observe them and use Noel's field ability to glean the details of the thing for the monster index. It's... probably a good thing I can't reach it right now.

In the final room, there's a nasty monster. It's so nasty that, when we first arrive at the room before it, it's quickly throwing what's left of the previous adventuring party back out the way they came. The elder's brat of a grandson was sneaking around before, though, and now he's stuck in there with the monster. Time to kick butt!

--Guriguri--

It's... sort of a giant rat thing with drill bits on its tail. Big and nasty, so it's a good idea to have your command character be someone who can defend and tank in front while Celine is in the far back readying fire bolts. It also gives 160 Skill Points when defeated, which is about twenty times more than anything else so far in the game.

The brat is safe, and we've found some Gifts! One is a weird lepoid computer called the Rabbicom, which I haven't found a use for yet. The other is a spare bomb. All I have to do is switch out someone's regular B-button field skill for "Bomb" (easily done in the menu), then destroy the rubble in the far bottom-right of the screen, one screen south of the elder's house. Now we're on our way to the jungle!

Comments

  • GaijinMonogatariGaijinMonogatari RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff
    ... and now, part 2!

    Right out of the town, we meet some random traveler who thinks our clothes look familiar. There was a weirdo dressed like us, only he had a third eye in his forehead. Bingo! Sounds like Ernest is investigating the ruins in the jungles to the east. There are two routes down into the jungles, one of which is guarded by a mean-looking baboon, so I took the first one instead. Heading along the north end of a huge ravine, I came across the ruin quickly enough, but I need a permit to explore it.

    On the advice of the guards, I headed over to Aba City to see Lord Aba and get a permit. Yes, the guy renamed the city after himself. When I tried to talk to him, though, he thought my guys didn't look strong enough to be of any use. In town, we met a young lady looking for work, and Chisato (currently my front girl) immediately offered to help her with that. This led to us searching the city pretty thoroughly and locating the second (and better stocked) weapons shop that was looking for staff. Super! The young lady gets a job, and we get access to better weapons. By this point, I've got lots of Poison Checks off of Green Pythons, not to mention Golden Earrings off of Assassin Ants, so after I sold off almost everything I had enough to outfit a few characters with the best equipment.  (after checking up, it looks like the job hunt is a Chisato-specific event, and not connected to the plot advancement)

    Lord Aba definitely noticed my party this time, and even gave us a permit for the northernmost ruin in the jungle, the Garv Ruins. If we could defeat the Land Dragon which dwells deep in its basement, he says, then we can get access to the other ruins.

    The Garv Ruins are overrun with vegetation, and thick roots and vines block a lot of paths. Ashton's fire-breath skill was essential here. Down in the second basement, there was a weird-looking flower, which turned out to be the tongue/lure of the Land Dragon. It ate my party. After reloading, I avoided that thing like the plague, but instead headed farther down into the dungeon until I located the room directly under that friggin' flower, where the main body of the Land Dragon could be founded.

    Imagine a thing like a large, blind whale formed out of twisted vines and then animated by a very hungry animus. I'm amazed that I survived, though all the Skill Points from fighting back and forth across the ruins definitely helped.

    Anyhoo, yay, we beat the boss and pried a scale off its dying carcass. Lord Aba was most impressed, and gave us the permits. And then, right as we were heading out of town... There was a soldier harassing a woman. Our guys step in, like heroes do, and we end up getting arrested.

    And this is how we get introduced to the Leviaboa Ruins, a.k.a. Lord Aba's personal prison for problematic adventurers!
  • GaijinMonogatariGaijinMonogatari RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff
    Well, my world got turned somewhere between sideways and upside-down last weekend, so I'm behind on trying to blog this game. No time like the present, says I.

    ---

    The Leviaboa Ruins are the best-preserved so far, with a LOT of floors that the player will never see. Floor 72 is the hub for prisoner activity, and the team's teleporter device is replaced for the time being with one that works only within the ruins. The only way in is through a laser-grid gate, and the only way out is to accomplish one of Lord Aba's many goals for the ruins. Specifically, we need to defeat one of the Guardians (robots) on the 24th floor.

    There are three other floors to take on before Floor 24, some of them above the hub floor and some below. The main robots on the higher floors are the batrachian Froggi bots, which are easily eliminated. The most common foes on the lower floors are much, much more difficult. Each of these floors has a secret, which can be revealed if the party has the appropriate "elemental guide" in their possession. Aside from some equipment and other goodies, this usually means the party receives an elemental seal as well. I have no idea what these are for, nor do I know why I've collected nine single-use blue keys at this point. I do know that there's a lot more to Leviaboa than is apparent at first, and subsequent visits (after finishing the quest and getting pardoned) can unlock many more floors on which to die, because the enemy strength gets stratospheric after a while.

    Anyhoo, we finished up Floor 24 by defeating an Abel Guardian, a bunch of Atlas Guardians, and a Lizardman who was apparently trying to steal something from the secret room for that floor. After that, we had our pardon and were good to go. The teleport gate out of the dungeon takes us straight into Lord Aba's castle.

    On our way out of the city for the second time, there are a few familiar faces. First is the young lady whose virtue we protected at the cost of jail time. Her boyfriend finally caught up with her, and he's so thankful that he gives a pretty good accessory as thanks. The second is Ernest, who's walking out of the inn just as we pass by.

    There's a lot of catching up to do, but we do finally figure out why everyone's on the planet. Ernest and Opera's ship was damaged, and they took separate escape pods down to the surface. While he doesn't know where Opera landed, Ernest's pod crashed in the middle of the Gravis Forest, a huge expanse of greenery to the southeast. There might still be something salvageable to help Precis fix the ship we came in on, so that's the next goal.

    ---many, many hours later---

    OK, the devs could have made it a trifle easier to do this. Gravis Forest is just beyond the aptly named Slave Village, where Lord Aba gets most of his vegetables grown. The forest is a complicated labyrinth of branches and drop points, where it's hideously easy to fall off the edge of a branch and need to repeat the entire excursion. Plus, while there's an anti-Aba insurgency hiding in the forest, the main route to their hideout is intentionally difficult to pass through because the main clue is "go where the Verm Beetles go", i.e. whenever you see one of the beetles, kill it and go through the nearest available exit. It should be mentioned that Verm Beetles are about the same size as VW Beetles, and are tough cookies even when one has the best armor available for sale. In fact, the things drop BETTER armor than what's available, and on a regular basis. I ended up killing a few dozen of the things by the time I made it all the way through, and I had several Resist Armors, Mythril Weaves, and Knight Shields in my possession at the end. Drops from earlier fights made the later ones (and all the retries) a bit more survivable.

    I should mention that the Leviaboa Ruins (extra floors) and the Ralf Ruins are both open to exploration at this point, but the enemies there are even tougher.

    Once at the rebel stronghold, the obvious is revealed (that Lord Aba is a butthead who's enslaving neighboring villages). The rebels are fine with us, though, once Ernest's name comes up. Everyone likes that dude apparently. His pod came down in the northern part of the forest, which is full of carnivorous ape-men called Mandriffs. After the gantlet of beetles, they aren't that tough at all. Unfortunately, rummaging around in the pod's wreckage is a Mountain Mandriff, and it's much tougher. In order to beat it, I had to switch the party around to have Bowman on healing and Celine spamming her strongest spells while Ashton mostly held the front line defense. I put every SP I had into his defense-raising skills, and I'm still amazed I beat the thing on the fourth try.
  • GaijinMonogatariGaijinMonogatari RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff
    With the big monkey out of the way, we can salvage a set of energy crystals from the escape pod. Then one of the rebels rushes in, and with his last gasping breath tells us that Lord Aba has hit the rebel base with a sneak attack. We skip straight to the base entrance (avoiding all the forest, thankfully), and there's a survivor at the door with some Soma to heal us up completely (again, thankfully). There are Abel Guardians wandering the halls, and one other survivor that's about to get zapped by an Atlas. These are the same robot types from that last floor in Leviaboa, so they're tough but not impossible.

    Apparently, Lord Aba had advance notice of a liberation raid on Slave Village and set a trap for the liberators. After another helpful shot of Soma, we skip past the next section of the forest (again thankfully), and arrive at the village. There are a lot of people dead on the ground, but the two rebel leaders are facing off against a much bigger Guardian. This thing is a lot smarter than most, and can even calculate threat levels from opponents. The two rebels rate a threat index of 30%, but our party is substantially stronger, so we get attacked instead.

    The G. Aba is a mechanical elephant with a laser trunk and extendable tusks which stab at frontline attackers. It's also pretty manageable at this point. The Mountain Mandriff was far more difficult.

    After this, the rebels give us access to the secret passage that links Slave Village to Nuza Beach, which connects to parts south. So that's where we're going next.
  • GaijinMonogatariGaijinMonogatari RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff
    Nope, I have not forgotten this one, even with the backlog purge going on. Portable games are good at filling in the holes in my commute.

    ---

    Nuza Beach has a marked lack of sand. Instead, it's all artificial platforms and cliffs, the remnants of an erosion control network combined with the usual strange ruins. There's even a secondary entrance to the Clive Ruins down here, as well as a shortcut back to the area around Scute Village and our downed spaceship.

    It's a fairly straightforward path down to the city of Banis, where there's word of a three-eyed woman working with the scholars in the next town over. So, while we could explore the seaside cave ruins to the southwest, our next destination is to the east, in the scholastic city of Knott.

    The road to Knott is long and monster-ridden, and there's at least one dead-end route that leads to a vista of a huge ruin supported by tall legs. I'm sure we'll be visiting it sooner rather than later.

    In Knott, we get some more info on Opera's whereabouts. It seems she's become good friends with a researcher lady in town, and the two of them are delving the ruins under the city. Another scholar at the entrance gives us some basic directions, but this is still an annoying dungeon, as it's a "follow the true path or get sent back to start" situation.

    For the record:
    up, up, right, up, down (first floor)
    down, right, left, up, right, down, left, left (second floor)
    meet Opera and her friend, then in the next room push the block onto the leftmost switch and head down as much as possible to get to the boss:

    Steel Vein

    This thing is... a strange origami hound made of blood-red liquid metal, which can reshape itself into various configurations for attack or defense. If nothing else, Tri-Ace certainly knows how to design monsters.

    Once Steel Vein is out of the way, the treasure it guards is ours to take: the Palantir Stone. Our scholar friends are elated, as it's one more vital key to the puzzle surrounding this crazy planet. They ask us to go find a friend of theirs, most likely at the bar in Banis. Once we find him, though, a messenger from Knott rushes in to tell us that the other city is under attack!

    Apparently there was a second access point under Knott, one which connects to an untouched ruin hidden in the eastern section of Gravis Forest. Unfortunately, it was also a nest full of Verm Beetles and their big brothers the Banded Beetles. There's a half-dozen bugs running ramshod through the city. As soon as they're taken care of, it's our job to keep digging and find the source.

    Gravis Cave is deep and windy, and often we need to smash through spots where the walls aren't as thick. There are lots of Solid Worms and various beetle varieties, not to mention the fire-breathing T-Rex lookalikes. The boss is... well... The boss is a giant mechanical beetle with a glass sphere in place of a thorax. Within the sphere is the vague silhouette of a person, and the conversation that ensues is... interesting. There's a lot more to this planet and its vague apocalypse than we've seen so far.

    Unfortunately, I've yet to beat this bastard, even after boosting Dias' and Celine's skill levels a lot. All five of its main parts have really high defense, but its legs are the weakest. The bad news is that when its legs are cut out from under it, it starts spamming a really nasty energy attack that can take out most of the party in a single hit.

    So yeah, I'll let you all know when/if I beat this thing.

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