Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween, everybody! Celebrate, have a good time, and scare yourself with the most frightening (or most terribly bad, AKA terribad) game you can find.

Which reminds me. Look forward to an upcoming column series by me, tentatively titled “Games You Think Are Awesome But Which Are Actually Terrible”.

Regular updates resume tomorrow.

Terminal Velocity

If you haven’t done so already, visit the Game Voting Page to vote on which game I play next. I have recently made an important update.

This is it: the Moon Cave – Orochi. Where it all began and ended a hundred years ago. The entrance was one big cursed zone, the place so full of rot that no amount of rejuvenation could fix it. The only cure would be to slay the beast itself.

I found Waka already by the entrance. He activated the Serpent Crown, which broke the seal. Issun was raving and ranting at him, which is what Issun always does, calling him a half-baked prophet and such. Once the seal was broken, one of Orochi’s heads snaked out, grabbed Kushi off Amaterasu’s back, and went back inside. Oops. Amaterasu followed in immediately and was surprised to find out he and Issun were also sealed in! They had been tricked by Waka. Sort of. I mean, they wanted to go inside anyway, so… did they just get tricked into doing what they already planned to do? Only Waka… After we entered, Susano stealthily approached the entrance, debating whether to enter…

A long stone staircase carved a path from the base of the cave to a chamber at the top, probably Orochi’s chamber. Unfortunately, the staircase was broken, it was too long to jump, and deus ex machina decided that it would be impossible for me to brush my way across the path. Therefore, as Issun says, “Leap befor you think!”, and we jumped into the chasm below.

By the way, Amaterasu is practically immune to falling damage. No matter how far he falls, if there is ground below him that is technically on the same screen, he can safely fall at terminal velocity.

I appeared in an icy cave where I also found Kishi’s Thunder Brew. I picked up the Thunder Brew, thenw ent to enter the palace of orochi through a nearby door. However, two imps were guarding it, which means for some reason I could not kill them. I guess the rule is that I cannot be the one to initiate combat. Weird, huh? So, I had to trek through the ice cave: platforms of ice, stalactites, stalagmites, pools of cold water, a chest in ice surrounded by torches (?), and a treasure chest with a blank piece of paper on it that doubled as the mask that the imps wear. I drew the following symbol on it: ^.^
The perfect disguise…
With that, the imps let me through. Just so we’re clear on their intelligence level, that is the ONLY thing of which my disguise was composed. Still a big white wolf with a tiny glowing green man jumping up and down on my head.

The central chamber of Orochi’s palace is circular and features a large gong, an elevator, a spacious kitchen to the side, and several side chambers that exist for no other reason than platforming. My objective was to prepare Orochi’s appetizer, so he would be ready to eat his sacrifice, which would, I dunno… make him full I guess and we could play cards.

But such is the plan! I saved the cook from the stew pot and he told me to get four special ingredients which I would most assuredly find somewhere around this place.

Fetch Que~st!

Some of the highlights:
Swinging across blossoms that dropped me into a pit of poison. Usually, you can stand atop blossoms, but on these ones, you had to swing, brush to another one, swing, and repeat until you got to the end – or ran out of ink and fell into the pit of poison.

A chamber where you walk slowly across a bridge of fragile ice. Then you walk back across it and it breaks anyway.

The Constellation – This time, a phoenix gave me its power over fire. I can draw lines from torches and the like to melt ice.

The Flaming Orb of Infuriation – In one chamber, the only way to melt the ice was to move an orb over to it. However, the orb was on fire. You could try to use wind to blow out the fire, but that lasted for all of two seconds. Then you had to do it again. You could also just straight-tackle or roll it, but you burn yourself when you do it. There is no way to do this without getting pissed.

The Sand Orb – What’s with this dungeon and rolling orbs? There is a chamber where you need to roll another ball past several sand pits. If the ball falls into the pit, you start over at a check point. There is even an invisible pit. The ball is hard to roll accurately. Prepare to thrill as the orb falls repeatedly into sand holes. Watch in delight as you fall in trying to save the orb! Squeal with glee as you finally succeed after the longest most infuriating ten minutes of your life!

The Cannon – Orochi has a cannon. No explanation required. No instructions either, oddly. I figured out that I can choose to just shoot a hole into any part of the wall that looks vaguely suspicious and hope that it opens a passageway. Yay.

The Freakin’ Elevator – There is this part where you need to get to the lowest basement by using the elevator. However, the imp working the elevator doesn’t want to go down. You have to power slash him to make him let go of the lever that keeps the elevator up. After a few seconds, he regains control and starts grinding up. So you have to power slash him again. If you don’t have a lot of pots of ink, expect to run out about the time that you reach the bottom. And regardless, he starts pumping back up immediately once you reach the bottom. When you are there, you need to jump out through this small crack between the elevator’s raised sides and the platform nearby, without falling into the poison, which you can expect to do several times.

The Imp Merchant – These unscrupulous imps will gladly make deals with you even if they realize that you are not another imp. By the way, although the imps are convinced you are one of them, nobody else is convinced you are a demon. Weird.

Once the highlights were out of the way, it was time to confront Orochi himself!

Orochi sits in the middle of a tremendous golden cobblestone dais. He is a tremendous eight-headed snake, and each head wears a different hat (literally). The heads are attached to what can only be described as a shrine on a raised platform. At first, he was glowing golden and I could not hurt him. However, once I tried, Susano showed up! Orochi began ignoring me and started bargaining with Susano. If Susano spoke the words to release him, Orochi would become incredibly powerful and Susano would be given great might himself. Susano – refused! He got Kushi out of there and threw some sake into Orochi’s mouth. This got Orochi drunk. Then we somehow had infinite sake, which we poured into pools around Orochi’s body. At that point, it was time for Amaterasu to kick some ass!

The first portion of the battle consisted of me dodging around Orochi’s heads as they lashed out, shot lightning, fire, poison gas, and other effects. At any given time, up to three heads were attacking me as I moved around the screen. I used the waterspout technique to pour sake into Orochi’s mouth when he roared. After a few of his heads were drunk, they all fell to the ground and revealed the shrine. I jumped in and destroyed the shrine, which severely weakened Orochi. The last half of the battle was laughably easy compared to the first, since he seemed to resort to just lashing out instead of using any of his potent special attacks. I just got the heads drunk again, let them fall to the ground and slashed the crap out of them until they died. Once all the heads were down, Susano swept in for the final blow. His sword, now the Susano Blossom, became a magnificent golden blade, and the little leaf became a full blossom. He charged in, slashing apart seven of the heads with my help. But, with the last one, he turned and said he did not need my help any more. With one truly impressive swing, Susano brought his sword arcing down the entirety of the eighth head’s neck, splitting it in half. The beast was dead at last.

But the journey continues…

We’re Gonna Celebrate and Have A Good – SNAAAAAAKE!

If you haven’t done so already, visit the Game Voting Page to vote on which game I play next. I have recently made an important update.

I know Amaterasu should be going to the Moon Cave to immediately meet up with Waka and slay Orochi, but I guess the goddess of the sun isn’t the sort of person to turn down a midnight party (?).

Everyone is gathered together for the festivities, or they would be in a perfect world. No, instead they are standing outside Susano’s home, yelling at him to come out. Seems Susano drank all of the 8 Purification Sake from earlier. It’s tragic, but I can’t help being impressed. I mean, that is a LOT of sake. The container is bigger than his whole body and he just gobbled it all down. And he’s still standing. That’s a special kind of alcoholism. While the people shout at him, he tells a woeful tale: he has lived with the unwanted responsibility of being Nagi’s descendant for all his life and never even believed the tale. It was he who went to the Moon Cave and removed the sword to prove that the legend was false. He (somehow) moved the gigantic boulder in front of Kamiki village, sealing off the town. He hid in his basement and never wanted to leave. He believes the gods are inspiring him to these heroic acts he now commits, helping him slay demons and the like. He is unaware of the heroism that he does possess and refuses to see the truth. Nobody can bring him out.

And then things get worse. The moon comes out and everybody realizes that the festival is screwed. This night celebrates the defeat of Orochi and is held on the same night that Orochi used to fire a white arrow at the homes of his annual sacrifice. So, now that Orochi’s out – that’s right! Sacrifice time again! An arrow shoots forth and strikes Kushi’s house. But – if she’s gone – that means… no more sake! No~! I must stop Orochi! Kushi tries to leave town by herself, carrying a pot of Thunder Brew sake, her most potent, hoping to somehow use that instead of 8 Purification Sake to defeat Orochi. But Amaterasu won’t let her go alone! He puts her on his back and off they go to the Moon Cave.

Selective Pyromania

If you haven’t done so already, visit the Game Voting Page to vote on which game I play next. I have recently made an important update.

The Gale Shrine is connected to the large windmill which oversees the entire Taka Pass. Beside the colossal windmill, it is a surprisingly mundane dungeon in the course of a game with many fantastic locales: cobblestone ground and red wooden beams supporting everything. The real beauty of it is in climbing to the top of the Gale Shrine, going outside, activating the windmill with the power of a new constellation, and getting a panoramic view of the Taka Pass. The game always finds new ways to take your breath away, even in these small variations of things I have seen already.

Let’s step back a moment. The entrance of the Gale Shrine is protected by a ghost, the former head priest and husband of Princess Fuse. He wouldn’t let me in until I gave him the eight orbs, which rose from their position surrounding me and flew into notches on the wall. A little more on those orbs later.

Earlier in the game, there were these treasure chests covered in flames. I had no way of opening them at all until I got the waterspout technique, which let me fire hose water onto some of those chests to open them. However, some chests were still out of range of water. The new gale technique I obtained from this constellation lets me open all of them. Now, the question is, will there be more flaming treasure chests as I progress through the game? My money’s on “no”. Sure, there might be a couple here and there, but these are game gimmicks, which are also a pet peeve of mine: special locations, events, or activities available only if you have the right power or item, and available only in a small section of the game, and almost never after you obtain the necessary key. Why even have them? At least they don’t do it with everything: the vine technique I obtained earlier on is still used for pretty much the same thing it has always been used for: swinging from floating turnips. Now, I don’t mind flaming treasure chests being there, but they aren’t thematic to any of the dungeons: they are just random flaming treasure chests. And who puts a treasure chest on fire? That seems like exactly the sort of thing you don’t want to expose your treasures to. And why only select treasure chests: if you ARE going to set some on fire, shouldn’t you do it to all of them? Selective Pyromania – it can happen anywhere.

Anyway, with the ability to make winds, I was able to get through the Gale Shrine’s platforming sections. There was… the room with the platform that you need to push with the winds to get it to align right. And… the room with the streaming banner that you had to blow wind so they all went horizontal and you easily jumped across. And… that was it. Short dungeon. I was a little disappointed after how long the previous one was.

Well, maybe the boss will make up for it.
Crimson Helm reminds me of one of those Chinese parade dragons: the ones where people stand in a line, throw a sheet over their heads and puppeteer the long snake-like body of the dragon puppet. Only he’s rather short-bodied, wears armor, and wants to destroy me. The fight feels slightly surreal, since it’s so incredibly easy and has a lot of weird things going on. For example, there are these pillars around the room. And Crimson Helm runs into the pillars. And when he runs into the pillars, nothing happens. Why? What’s the point? They don’t come crashing down on my head. They don’t daze him. There doesn’t seem to be anything -I- can do with them. Is it supposed to be pretty? In a game where practically everything has a function, it was a bit of a let-down. Also, during the fight, those eight orbs appeared and encircled me. I guess they were there to protect me or damage Crimson Helm, but I couldn’t tell the difference. If they were there to protect me, it feels like overkill. I already had a lot of hit points by that point and didn’t need eight more (or however many the orbs give). Finally, guess how you beat this guy.

You hit him. A lot. Remember the spider queen, where you had to align the canvas right three times and get the vines to connect to her spinnerets, then leap forward and take every shot you could against the center? Hah. This guy, just jump up and hit his armor a lot. Eventually it shatters. Then we get to the HARD part. He’s on fire! So, make a quick swirl with your paintbrush, his fire disappears, and he just stands there while you beat the crap out of him. And you have to do it two or three times.

As Crimson Helm falls, he gets angry and rises again! Time for the real fight?! Orochi’s eight heads appear and they are on fire! It looks intense! Then Susano shows up and finishes him off (with your help, of course). Huh.

So, Susano rushes out and Waka shows up to steal the Serpent Crystal. He then leaves through a hole in the back of the Gale Shrine that Amaterasu was never told about. It seems like it’s time to head to the Moon Cave to confront Orochi at last. But wait! It’s the night of the full moon. Time to go back to Kamiki Village first and join in the celebration.

The Dog Hunt, Part 2

The other three Canine Warriors were somewhere in the Taka Pass (the general area where Kusa Village also is located), Agata Forest (where I went fishing and rescued Ume), and Kamiki Village (the starting town). I discovered that the one at Taka Pass was actually at a place called Sasa Sanctuary. The unfortunate thing is that I couldn’t get in.

Sasa Sanctuary is the home of the Sparrow Clan (an actual clan of sparrows, in case you were really wondering). The boss sparrow’s daughter had gone missing and he was so angry that he would not allow anybody into the Sanctuary. Clearly he wouldn’t be doing anything. But I can’t really blame this guy. He makes Jabba the Hut look anorexic.

So I took another visit to the home of the Despicable Mr. Cutter and the Horrible Mrs. Cutter, whom I knew had captured a sparrow girl and whom were evil. I broke open their roof to let some moonlight in, then dragged Mrs. Cutter underneath the moonlight while she was inside her home. I couldn’t do this earlier in the game because she was sleeping – that explains everything, doesn’t it?

Anyway, this created a shadow that revealed her true form – a demon! Oh no! Total surprise! We suddenly appeared outside the house with her husband in tow and they turned into big flying demons! Why are all the demons in this game flying now? They were creepy people, but they went down easily enough. And when I defeated them, the pack that Mrs. Cutter had been wearing popped open and, tada, the Sparrow Princess, Chun, emerged. She was this small squat sparrow who flew around me as I took her back to Sasa Sanctuary. The sparrows were happy to have her back and agreed to let me into Sasa Sanctuary (I love saying that – Sasa Sasa Saaaaaanctuary!). Sasa Sanctuary is a hotsprings but, even though it was open again, they couldn’t cater to their clientele. The hotsprings were dry. Oh no! But wait, Mr. Bamboo from Kusi Village was here to visit! Mr. Bamboo is a guy whose really good at bamboo-craft and wears bamboo on his back. You know what? Just assume that if a person or group’s name sounds like it could be taken literally, assume it is unless I say otherwise.

Mr. Bamboo knew how to find water to refill the hotsprings, but it required a digging mini-game. It’s something like Mr. Driller, and it’s played several times throughout the game. An NPC is trying to reach the bottom of a shaft filled with various rocks. Amaterasu must dig through, tackle, and use his celestial paintbrush to destroy the blocks or help the NPC bypass them. There is also a time limit. It requires good timing, especially because you have a limited number of ink pots with which to take actions and they do not regenerate immediately. Take too many actions and the NPC might run into some wall spikes and cause you to lose 5 seconds. You can gain back 20 seconds by using “blossom” on plants which appear in certain areas. When the NPC reaches the bottom, he will point out the place to dog. Dig there and you have reached your goal.

In this case, a new fountain of water spurted up and filled the hot springs. It also revealed a new constellation. Woot. This one enabled me to move water as a stream from one place to another or create platforms of shooting water in certain areas where the water has a natural fountain.

Anyway, I funneled the water through the top of one of those bamboo water-tilt things that everybody loves, but a gigantic one it was. When it was filled, it tilted over, then tilted back with such force that it activated a button it had been sitting upon, which opened a pathway, which I went up, and found a crying sparrow, who had lost his dog, and the dog turned out to be one of the missing Canine Warriors, and we fought cuz, y’know, I had the canine tracker which means I have to prove my worth(?), and when he lost, I got the orb and I left without him cuz he wanted to protect this place. … You know, all of this is STILL just to get into the Gale Shrine back in Kusa Village.

After dealing with that canine warrior, I used a new device called a Mermaid Coin. The Mermaid Coins enable me to teleport between springs located around the world. It is a relatively small world, but this still cuts down travel time significantly. This time I teleported to Shinshu Fields outside of Kamiki Village. In Kamiki, I spoke to the only dog thereabouts. It turns out he wasn’t the real Canine Warrior, but he had taken that one’s place after it had been killed. He didn’t want to leave here because he planned to protect the village during some event happening on the night of the full moon (important for later). Like the last dog, he challenged me to a fight, which I won again. And once again, I got his orb. Onward, to Amata Forest!

Ume has gone missing – again! This time, the kid thinks he was swallowed by the Whopper, a tremendous fish that had actually swallowed the moon’s reflection and which dwelled in the Deep Abyss, the pond where the kid fishes. Instead of fishing, though, he wanted me to get help from Kushi, the sake girl, whom… somehow might be of help. I found her filling a barrel with water at a spring in Agata Forest. The water was for 8 Purification Sake, which was rumored to have been the deciding factor in defeating Orochi 100 years ago. It was ceremonial to ready it for the annual celebration of Orochi’s defeat. Anyway, Kushi was unable to fill the barrel, so I used my new Waterspout technique to do it for her. But, oh no, monster attack! I prepared to fight the monster but Susano interfered. For a guy who was such a coward… you know, he is starting to get cool. Even when five more monsters showed up, he didn’t back down. Mind you, he doesn’t have a real sword. It’s basically a wooden zweinhander. There is this little branch coming off of it with a living leaf, which is kind of weird. Anyway, he attacked all the monsters to protect Kushi. As usual, I unleashed the power of the Celestial Brush to do the real damage. Then Susano started shouting at his sword, convinced that some power was interfering with him, doing the real work, and so forth. So, well, he was right… but he never acknowledged that it was me (v.v), and ran off. Kushi returned to the village with the sake and I went back to finding canines. Maybe my memory is off, but I do not recall what any of that had to do with finding Ume other than I was not allowed to do so until I helped Kushi.

So, I went fishing. On the third attempt, we got the Whopper, a truly immense fish. After a couple power slashes, we yanked it out of the water and Ume came flying out. Also, the moon’s reflection reappeared and I got a new Celestial Brush technique! This time, the rabbit in the moon came out, we made rice, and he tried to slam me with a hammer. I don’t know why he is so pissed, especially since afterward he started praising me like all the other celestial gods. Anyway, he granted me the kinda-neat ability to make the moon appear. Go forth, sun god, and make the moon!

Anyway, Ume *sigh* wanted to fight. Kicked his butt. Got the orb. Returned to Princess Fuse. And then I got the other 5 orbs. So, not only did the Canine Warriors not actually do anything helpful, but now I have to be the only one to go to the Gale Shrine. Eh, that was the original plan anyway. A god’s gotta do what a god’s gotta do.

The Dog Hunt, Part 1

If you haven’t done so already, visit the Game Voting Page to vote on which game I play next. I have recently made an important update.

Kusa Village was overwhelmed by a malevolent presence so strong that it disabled my magic entirely. I was rendered as a simple white wolf amidst the swirling purple and black clouds. The villagers were surprisingly unaffected, save one. A local princess and high priestess, Fuse (which I believe is pronounced “Few-Say”) had been possessed by a demon and that was the source of all the trouble. This demon was an imp with a square kite he used for flying through the air. Even without my divine powers backing me, all I had to do was leap into the air and tackle him to bring him down. I was amazed that killing that one minor demon was all it took to remove the corruption over the town. Once I had freed the town of its curse, Princess Fuse asked me to track down the Canine Warriors. The Canine Warriors are a group of, well, dogs – and they possess magic orbs. These magic orbs in turn enable them to break the seal at the Gale Shrine where an evil fiend, Crimson Helm, has holed up. Until Crimson Helm is defeated, the valley’s windmill won’t blow again, and the skies will be black with Orochi’s curse. I also needed to find the Serpent Crystal, an artifact that Waka mentioned when I happened upon him in the valley. The Serpent Crystal possesses the ability to open the gate to the Moon Cave, where Orochi is holing up. Anyway, the princess asked me to find the canines because this is an adventure game and people just don’t leave their homes when there are convenient wolves around to carry out their tasks for them. She gave me the Canine Tracker, a floating talisman that pinged when I got close to one of the Canines. For some reason, they hadn’t come to her when she called for them. I guess loyal warriors just aren’t what they used to be. What ensued was a slightly odd mini-quest. The Canines were scattered around town, hidden inside walls or aimlessly wandering around in the open. No explanation at all as to why they weren’t hurrying over to help their princess in her great time of need – just … there. And they wouldn’t just come with me either. No, I had to feed them.

Also, Susano was hanging around. He had come to defeat Crimson Helm, which is awfully brave of a guy who not long ago was holing himself up inside a secret underground chamber in his household. Unfortunately for him, he couldn’t really do anything while the Gale Shrine was sealed up, so he just hung around the village while I did useful things like find lazy dogs and feed them.
After I got the first four (by the way, for what it’s worth, those canines are adorable; they wear these little bandanas around their necks with the magic orbs attached to them), I returned to the princess to report. However, a large bruiser dog with one missing eye showed up to stand in my way. The fifth of the eight canine warriors challenged me to a fight. I thought that pretty hilarious, what with me being a god and all. I kicked his ass. He put up a decent fight, since he had a move where he lashes out across the battlefield in a series of tackles during which he is invincible, but that was easy enough to dodge. After the fight, the princess stepped in and talked with me. She was grateful that I had returned those five Canine Warriors to her, but, oh no, there were three more still missing! Where were they? All over the world! Oh really?

Onward!

Imperial Bulletin: Game Vote Poll

I need to make some clarifications and adjustments to the rules about voting on which game I play next. For those who don’t already know, you can visit the Game Voting Page (on the right of the screen) page to vote. Anyway, read on, subjects of the empire.

First, the most important update: I will play a game if, and only if, I either have it or can obtain it at little or no cost. If you want me to play a game that I do not have, I would appreciate it if you would be willing to let me borrow a copy. If the games keep coming, the blogs keep going. Unfortunately, I own almost none of the games on the list, some are hard to find and/or expensive, and the imperial treasury’s funds are currently lacking.

How to send games to the emperor
Let me know which games you are willing to share and how to contact you. You can do so either by leaving a comment on the game vote page or by sending an e-mail to: theswordemperor AT gmail DOT com . If one of your games is going to win, I will contact you.
Note: If I do own a game, I will put an asterisk beside it on the game vote poll page.

A few other things…
I plan to keep the same poll up over the course of several games.
You can vote for as many games as you want. Therefore, don’t just vote for the one game you want to see me play next. Also vote for any that you ever want to see me play.
I occasionally add new games to the list. I think you are able to vote again after you have already voted, so long as you do not vote for the same games. If I’m wrong on that, let me know. I might create a new poll sooner rather than later.
Final Fantasy XII is currently in the lead. I should be done with Okami before the end of the week, but I do not own FFXII.