Next Game Decided – Ar Tonelico: Melody of Elemia

Ar Tonelico: Melody of Elemia wins the poll this time around. I plan to begin it Tuesday or Wednesday. I’m particularly excited about this one, ironically because I know almost nothing about it. It comes highly recommended, and many people have voted for it.

I will be playing it on a PS2, not a PS3. Two reasons:
1) Ar Tonelico glitches PS3s, corrupting memory data
2) The PS3 I have been using no longer works (huzzah…)

After I beat Ar Tonelico, I may move directly on to Ar Tonelico 2. Then maybe on to Ar Tonelico 3. Depends on whether I can get together the funds for an HDD with which to patch the second game.

Also, thanks to the contributor whom is letting me borrow his copy of Ar Tonelico. This game couldn’t be played without you.

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Site Change Poll Closed

It was a close one, but the votes are in. Most of you wanted me to do essays on gaming in general. Then essays you will have! I will make a point of it to try to do at least one essay per month, starting in May. We’ll see how that goes and go from there.

I’ll be working out the theme for the first essay over the next week. Most of the articles will probably revolve around RPGs, since I know those well. I have some words to say on staying focused on games, the difference between games of old and games today, and what goes into a good (or bad) RPG. If there’s anything in particular you would like to hear my thoughts on, e-mail me or leave a comment somewhere to let me know.

Thanks again to everyone whom voted. This site is for your entertainment as much as it is for my own amusement. Onward!


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The Most Serious Laugh – Mother 3 Review

Mother 3 (GBA) is ostensibly the natural continuation of a series of RPGs known for their emphasis on humor and parody of the genre. While it is all that, it is also a game that tells a serious story exploring the impacts of personal loss and environmental irresponsibility.

The setting is the Nowhere Islands, a small landmass settled, appropriately, in the middle of nowhere. There is one rural town, and the game makes a point to emphasize the happiness of the simple life: for example, nobody goes to jail, there is no system of currency (instead, there is a barter store), and most people do not work. The game emphasizes the idyllicism of this landscape because it makes it all the more heartrending when it gets dismantled piece by piece by the invaders.

Without giving away too much, I can say that a mysterious group of people, called the Pig Masks because of their uniform, have come to destroy this peaceful island for their own purposes. Their scheme turns out to be truly bizarre and horrifying, and the game does a good job of slowly building the loathing you should have toward their purpose.

By the way, it also helps to have played EarthBound/Mother 2. It isn’t necessary, but the game has a strong tie-in that has more dramatic impact if you have played that game.

The characters, and their struggles, are central to this game. You will get to know about a dozen different characters, many of whom join your party at some point or another. Most of them have their humorous quirks (Lucas fights with a stick for most of the game) and yet many also have a distinctly serious side. One of the characters you play as early on experiences a tragedy that has lasting repercussions that play out throughout the game and don’t culminate until the very end.

Although the invaders have a vile intent, they’re not necessarily one-dimensional. At least three of the enemies prove to have more going on for them than just their “mwahaha, we’re evil” villainy. Whether that’s a love for rock/jazz bands or motivations of Lovecraftian freakishness, you’ll remember your nemeses.

To be fair, the story does get a little strange by the end. The main antagonist’s motivations border between horrific and nonsensical. The actual ending is a little less exciting than its build up. There is also some backstory explained by the end that doesn’t make complete sense given the pretext I laid out. Even so, it is interesting, and the characters will certainly carry you through the rough spots.

Sometimes, though, I think even the characters play second fiddle to the music. The Mother series is known for its exquisite compositions. I’ve said before that I would like the soundtrack to Mother 2. This is doubly-so for Mother 3. The music is fantastic; at times haunting, beautiful, funny, exciting, jazzy or horrific. I can only hope the soundtrack has a fully realized instrumental version of some of the tracks. In particular, I would like to hear DCMC, an in-game band, laid out in full orchestra. Yes, there is a band in this game, and they do rock. The music is so good that I wish I was a true audiophile, that I might better appreciate it. It’s on par with Legend of Mana and Final Fantasy VIII, my standards for aural comparison.

The music even creeps into the battle system. The combat is standard turn-based with a few small twists. As is the increasing norm, enemies are laid out on-screen and you engage them by running into them. If you touch them from the side or behind, you can get a surprise round, and vice-versa. Also, if your party is significantly stronger than the enemies they face, then using the Dash button to run into enemies will just knock them aside.

The actual combat mechanic features two particular twists. The hit point wheels and the combo rhythm. Yes, your hit points (which max at 999) are individually represented on wheels. Whenever a character takes damage, these numbers slowly wheel down. When they heal, they slowly wheel up. The beauty of this is that a character can survive mortal damage by being healed, or winning the battle, before they wheel down to zero. You can even increase their chances of survival by having them go on Defense, which slows the speed of the wheeling to about half, drastically increasing a character’s chance of receiving timely healing. It adds an element of strategy to the game, as it makes it fair game for enemies to be able to deal massive amounts of damage. If you are quick-witted enough, you can avoid being overwhelmed.

The combo rhythm system is a method by which characters can do more damage than normal. It’s separate from critical hits (called SMASH! attacks in this game). In the case of a combo rhythm, characters can rank up combo hits against enemies, possibly ultimately doubling or even tripling their damage. To get this rhythm, the player needs to tap the “A” button in rhythm with the battle music. Putting an enemy to sleep will magnify this rhythm, making it easier to follow. Even though, though, it is hit and miss. By the end of the game, I still got a combo off a little less than half the time, and usually not a big one (the highest possible is 16 hits; my highest is 10). It keeps combat interesting because, even if you know you can win, you realize you can win more quickly at no cost.

It’s slightly dismaying that the graphics aren’t as impressive as the music. They retain the classic unique sprite style of the Mother series, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. The graphics, as a result of being the same as those from Mother 2, are sub-par by today’s standards. There is a little something to be said for nostalgia, but it doesn’t change the fact that the game looks a little ugly. The charm and novelty wore off after the second game. To be fair, the sense of humor plays out well in their spritework (Cactus Wolf; guess what it is… if you guessed a wolf with a cactus on its head, you win) and they do make the most of these (self-imposed?) limitations.

By the way, don’t expect a particularly long game. Most chapters take about two hours to play, assuming you go for secrets and talk to everybody. You could easily beat this game in less than 24 hours.

And that feels about right. The game doesn’t try to stretch itself, thus avoiding the pitfalls of games like Suikoden V. It tells its story in a concise and entertainingly bizarre fashion. The combat is just novel enough that it feels refreshing instead of trite. The music seals the deal. This game is a grand finale to the Mother series and certainly the best of the lot.

“All Things…” Considered Are Possible and Must Come to an End

The group steps out of the temple and find a limo waiting for them. I wondered, how did this limo get here? There is just no way that it could have driven through the passageways. The answer soon becomes clear: it is a flying limo, and that is awesome.

The limo is here to take the group to New Pork City. Apparently Master Porky is pretty full of himself and is giving us an expense-paid trip to his home base. Wonderful, now we can kill him and just be done with it. Time to get this thing over with.

We get to walk around the limo for a bit. Yeah, it’s a tremendous limo. Sit in sofas, look at games that we can’t play.

The limo lands in New Pork City, panning across to give us the cityscape. It is dominated by a tremendous tower with spikes going up it at regular intervals, and framed by a pair of fire-snorting dragon statues. I’m guessing that’s where the boss lives.

New Pork City appears to be bustling, although it is somewhat strange: it has a childish atmosphere, and the “modern city” feel seems like someone forcefully trying to recreate something they don’t full understand. This is because the creator is Porky, the kid whom was named Pokey in Mother 2. What’s the deal here? A mistranslation? Or did he just rename himself, or take on that identity coming into Mother 3? Anyway, yes, he’s the one behind it. And he’s clearly not the Masked Man. The Masked Man, I think, is Claus; either mind-controlled or reanimated. Hopefully the former. It would explain how he has Psi Swords. That would have been granted to him by the Magypsies when he went to the Drago cave.

The group wanders around and ends up taking a trip into the sewers. They run into Leder, the extremely tall guy from Tazmily, and he spins a bizarre tale.

Long ago, the people of this world destroyed themselves. A few of the people escaped the destruction and settled here, on Nowhere Island. They brokered a deal with the Dark Dragon, whom kept the island safe from corruption. Eventually, however, they had to put the Dark Dragon to sleep. Also, they decided to remove their own memories and establish this village: all of them except for Leder, whom was charged with keeping the memory of what happened.

Porky, it turns out, came here through a Time Distortion machine. For whatever reason, after he fled from the scene of Mother 2’s final battle, this is the only time and place in which he could arrive. He immediately set about being evil, because apparently Porky really is Mother’s equivalent of a high priest of the mad gods; he’s pure evil. He decided to corrupt the world and awaken the Dark Dragon to end everything. And he might be gathering everybody in New Pork City as one tremendous sacrifice (this last part is just a hunch on my part).

After that story, the group leaves the sewers, but has to fight Miracle Fassad before they can escape. Yes, it’s Fassad again, and this time, he has even more horns. Fortunately, I gained about ten levels training down in this dungeon before fighting him, so he fell pretty easily.

Upon emerging from the sewers, we find that the population of New Pork City has about doubled. Most of the people here say absolutely nothing of worth, usually just repeating things like, “Hey Hi” and “Hello Goodbye”.

Porky’s tower is now available for me to climb. It’s time to head to the 100th floor. And it’s quite a trip.

First stop is the floor where the DCMC band is playing. They grab Dusty for one last concert, but they get interrupted during their second song. Porky decides it’s time for the do-gooders to come meet him. He’s doing this just to screw with the group; he doesn’t think of this as anything more than a game.

Such a game, in fact, that he forces the elevator to take stops at several floors along the way. All of the floors are suitably bizarre and most don’t offer any sort of real threat.

First, the Hippo Launcher floor. They’re technically enemies, but you can wade right past them in the water without a single fight. A researcher does sic one of them on you, but that’s all. Other than that, it’s pretty much just scenic.

The there’s the floor where you get to meet Porky’s fan club, including another one of those O2 machines, which will give you oxygen “for old times sake”. There’s also a bunch of presents lying around that you can’t open. *grumble* Anyway, no threats here: next!

How about a level where everything is under construction? Apparently they just didn’t finish this one up. Porky is having a spa installed, and I guess it is going to take up the entire floor. You fight some enemies here, and bump into construction workers to knock them over to form bridges. You do this three times, the third time being a Rube Goldberg device, actually. Pull a lever, dropping a ball onto a seesaw, sending a worker flying into the air, to land in a cart, which rolls down a hill, then sends him flying into the gap you need to cross.

Then there’s the floor with a Magypsy house. The weird thing here is that it looks like Fassad has been living here; you can tell by all the bananas around. After leaving the room, the party runs into a mouse: it talks about the Magypsy whom was here, and pretty much identifies Fassad as that Magypsy. Woah… okay, that was unexpected. So, we killed a Magypsy. Huh. Well, Fassad did ally with the villain, so I can’t feel too sad about it.

Especially since the bathroom floor is up next. Yes, this is an entire floor full of nothing but bathroom doors leading to various occupied and unoccupied bathrooms. Some contain enemies, some contain treasure, and one contains that red gigantic-mouthed chimera from way back. Also, the men’s room signs attack you.

The following floor is actually deadly. It’s a big lab full of deadly machines and high-ranking pigmasks. At the end, you find a bunch of people suspended in green tubes of liquid. It makes them feel good and like Porky. It’s really creepy, especially since there are about 40 of these people and you can talk to about half of them, hearing their delusions.

Then it’s time for some games. The chauffeur whom brought you to New Pork City is your host for three challenges against a robotic version of Porky. The objective is to lose all the mini-games by a slim margin.

The first is whack-a-mole. The robot gets 10 hits. You have to get 9 in order for it to let you go on. Apparently, you can’t just bullrush your way past these guys.

Next is a race across some water, with fake sharks and alligators popping up. You have to end the race just a little bit behind the robot.

Finally, you need to pump balloons. Again, make yours pop just a little after the robot’s, and you’re gold.

After that, it’s time to run up one last flight of stairs to encounter the Natural Killer pig robot. It’s a screen-filling boss, a gigantic pig with robot claws and a tremendous brain in a glass dome. It’s also surprisingly easy. Put up defensive barriers and it can barely hurt the group.

After that, you run up a looooooooooooooooooooooooong passageway to get to a boat. This boat takes you on a tour through a riverside museum of artifacts from Mother 2. It’s a little trip down creepy nostalgia lane.

The boat deposits the group on the other side of the chamber. Okay, once more. Run, run, run straight up!

And you enter a room with a tremendous pane of glass in the back. Porky’s voice calls out to the group. He suddenly appears; just like in the second game, he’s a little kid. He insists that you play with him, but whether Lucas accepts or refuses, he just blows up. It turns out, he’s another robot! And he’s brought friends. They engage the party in one massive battle, seemingly with no end in sight. Yet help arrives!

DCMC shows up to take out a few of the bots and evens the odds.

Finally, the real Porky has had enough. As various townsfolk, including Flint, rush into the room, Porky appears. Descending from the ceiling, a strange bed carrying a severely aged and infirm Porky descends. He’s clearly deluded and quite mad: he drones about how humanity is always doomed to destroy itself by its own evil and stupidity and that he looks forward to gaining ultimate power with the help of the Dark Dragon. Far below this complex, the seventh needle will soon be pulled. He mocks the group, then leaves, and forces them to take an elevator to the depths of New Pork City, with Flint along for the ride.

As soon as the elevator stops, Flint says he’s going ahead. The group takes off after him. They find a Doorknob, which is odd. Is it supposed to be the same doorknob that Flint knocked off when he got out of jail? Why would it be here?

A bit further on, they find Flint himself. There is something flying off, which I guess is Flint’s hat. Anyway, he has realized that the Masked Man is Claus and it’s temporarily robbed him of his will to go on. He says he’ll catch up.

Lucas finally finds a Real Bat, too. After spending an entire game running around with various sticks, finally a bat! A really awesome one, too. It massively improves Lucas’ Psi Points. It’s almost a pity that the dungeon isn’t longer than it is. Point, there are very few enemies here and most are easily avoided. Not that it matters, as the bosses here are something special.

First up is Porky. This is the only real boss battle here. Porky is on a tremendous bed/crawler that vaguely resembles his Time Distortion device from the second game; the creepy spider bot. He takes a cue from Giygas’ book and unleashes a series of attacks that are incomprehensible. As the battle progresses, he rants about how he can never die, never be destroyed, and gleefully awaits the awakening of the Dark Dragon. It’s hard to tell whether he’s serious; he claims that he’s lost track of time – his body is withered and he says he might be 10,000 years old for all he knows. Truly bizarre.

After doing enough damage to him, he hops into the Absolutely Safe Capsule, designed by Dr. Andonuts. True to his word, he cannot be damaged. No way at all. The battle ends in a stalemate. However, Dr. Andonuts shows up and says that the Absolutely Safe Capsule is safe both ways. There is no way for Porky to exit it. He is stuck inside of it forever. And now he’s out of the way.

The party rushes forth to find the final needle and Claus. Claus attacks the party with his lightning attack, knocking out everybody but Lucas (whom still has the Franklin Badge).

The battle that ensues, in true Mother style, is not one that you can win with attacks. Lucas cannot bring himself to attack Claus. The only way to “win” is to outlast him. You have to let Claus attack and do nothing but Guard and heal. Remember the game’s unique health drop mechanic? Yes, HP doesn’t instantly drop; it slowly drains. The trick is that Guard halves the rate at which HP drains, and when you heal, you can just wait for the HP to tick itself back up to full before letting Claus take his turn. The point of all this is that several times throughout the battle, events will happen. Hinawa’s voice will reach her children, trying to shake Claus from his brainwashing. Flint rushes in and takes a couple blasts of Psi Swords from Claus before dropping unconscious.

Finally, after what feels like 40 rounds, Claus comes to his senses. However, he still doesn’t have full control of his body. He commits suicide, striking Lucas with one last blast of lightning, which reflects to him and deals mortal damage. He falls and goes to join his mother in whatever afterlife awaits him.

And now it’s time to set the world right. Lucas grabs the seventh needle and pulls it. The world is wracked with a massive storm and the Dark Dragon awakens. The new world will now be born.

The End?

Those words show up on the screen after the Dark Dragon awakens, without showing you what has happened. If you wiggle the direction stick, you can move around on a field of dark. “The End?” just hangs there in one part of the screen, and you can walk past it.

As you walk, people talk to you. And it’s you. They start talking to “Sword Emperor”, in my case. You run into a bunch of characters from the game while in the darkness, and they congratulate you and talk briefly about the world. Also, you pick up a Doorknob. You never really figure out what happened to the world, but presumably things are better in it.

And the game comes to an end, with a final screen: Mother 3 is displayed, but now instead of the words being a fusion of metal and wood, it is all wooden, and the O has transformed from a metal sphere into a picture of the Earth.

The End


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“The Seven Needles” Might Be Too Many; I’ll Settle for One and Some Thread

Lucas awakens in the old folks’ home, being tended to by Wess and Alec. Alec had a dream where Hinawa told him to put a haystack in the exact spot where Lucas fell. Wow. Could it really be possible? … sure it can.

After we leave the home, Boney barks to let Lucas know he found something. It’s Ionia, the Magypsy from the hot springs. She’s (and they do refer to themselves as girls, I’ve learned, so we’ll go with that) been tied up for some reason. She gets worried about Aeolia, another Magypsy, so she accompanies Lucas with a boat ride up to their home. They find Aeolia fine, but something goes wrong; apparently, somebody has pulled the needle from Osahe’s Courtyard. If all seven are pulled, then the dark dragon beneath the island will awaken; figures that wasn’t a joke. With the needle gone, Aeolia vanishes, but not before opening a passageway that will take the group to the courtyard. Onward!

After a short trip past some cleocatra enemies (groan), we arrive in the courtyard. Ionia explains what’s up: There is a creature called the Dark Dragon slumbering beneath the island. It is something akin to the protector of the island. This creature can be awakened by pulling out the Seven Needles. However, it requires somebody with a certain gift in order to do so. It is said (by whom? who knows?) that somebody will eventually do this; however, their heart will decide what form the dark dragon’s power takes, good or evil.

The fact that somebody is running around with the same psychic power as Lucas (whom can also remove the seven needles) is disturbing.

As each of the seven needles is removed, one of the Magypsies will disappear.

Now it’s up to Lucas to put a stop to this.

Interesting plot. I wonder what they could want that much power for. To conquer the world? Seems obvious enough. In any regard, this is certainly an interesting scheme. I just wonder why they needed to invade the island and take over in order to execute it. It all seems mindlessly bitter.

After that, Lucas picks up a transceiver. Once again, he is mistaken for the Commander, this time over the phone. They tell him to come to the Chimera Factory because they need to get a monkey. … Salsa?

The Chimera Factory, which is by the ropeway leading up to Club Titiboo, is imposing. The music is creepy and there is the face of a bizarre monster resting above the place; it looks like some mutated lion.

Ironically, here they think that Lucas is the part-timer before, unsuspecting that he is here to stop their plans. They tell him to come in, put on a pig mask, and help them find the missing monkeys.

Lucas runs around, running into the monkeys, before they run off, mistaking Lucas for a pigmask person. As Lucas leaves the room, he is attacked by the almost mecha-lion, a rampaging chimera. I was actually not at full health for this fight, so it was pretty intense. Still, enough defense up and counter-attack spells and it was toast.

After that, a gigantic red chimera with a tremendous mouth escaped. I had to avoid it while searching for the monkeys, or else it would eat Lucas.

Eventually, Lucas found the monkeys and, with the aid of Dr. Andonuts, learned its weak spot: a switch on its back. Salsa and his girlfriend, the Love Monkey, were the kidnapped monkeys. Once they saw Lucas without the mask on, they realized whom it was. Salsa hit the switch while Lucas had the creature distracted and the group made their escape.

Dr. Andonuts, huh? That’s Jeff’s father from Mother 2. Yeah, my money is riding on Jeff being the villain.

With Salsa’s help, we open a door that requires more dancing. Inside, we meet another one of the Magypsies, Doria, and Kumatora. Doria tells us where the next needle is hidden; a pond right next to her. However, to remove the water, we have to return to the chimera lab. Dr. Andonuts gives us a pump chimera which we use to pump out the water. Once Lucas takes the needle, his Psi Swords ability improves and Doria disappears.

Hopefully, Lucas can remove all the needles before the enemy.

Onward, to the snowcapped mountains.

To get there, we have to go through the mole cricket hideout. Remember the mole cricket from the beginning of the game? He is here for a rematch. He talks big, about how the match goes into sudden death after 10 minutes, but he’s no stronger than he was at the beginning of the game, so a single attack defeats him and earns the respect of him and all the mole crickets. Then they let Lucas and co. go through the mole cricket’s confusing layout. It’s kind of neat: basically, it’s a series of small crooked passages. If you always take a turn whenever you have the opportunity, then you are guaranteed to get to the exit.

This leads to the aforementioned snowcapped mountains (the weird thing is that there is no hint that this is where you have to go; I checked an FAQ; strange, as the game usually gives you a lead). The next Magypsy is here. It seems it will be easy to get this needle, but such is the illusion: my nemesis shows up and takes it first, then shoots off on a batwing jetpack… damn his awesomeness. He leaves me to fight a mechanical gorilla.

Did you know? Mechanical gorillas can cry. They’re affected by that status condition.

After that, we ride a refrigerator off a cliff and back to the graveyard. A note there begs us to come to Mr. Saturn Valley. There we find that the pigmask people have taken over again.

They are using these bizarre machines called frightbots to scare the Mr. Saturns into telling them about the next needle. Their ploy fails and I destroy the machines (strangely, the frightbots don’t attack; in combat, they just keep telling you scary stories).

The Mr. Saturns help the party go north to the volcano where the next needle is. The party makes it in time, but Fassad is there! He’s back and he’s half-machine! Also, he can’t speak any more, instead blowing through horns in his nostrils. He has an interpreter-bot whom deciphers his strange noises.

After defeating him, it’s back to Mr. Saturn Valley. The pigmask people are here again, and they try to blow off my escape route. Fortunately, a birdcage devised by the Mr. Saturns lets us fly off (and that makes about as much sense as anything involving Mr. Saturns.

Rope Snake insists on letting us use him as the rope to the cage, so we hang off of him. Unfortunately, he falls again. We make it back to Tazmily, but the landing was dangerous. In shame, he runs off… and as for the party? Well, it’s time to go into the ocean and visit the next land. Huzzah.

Crossing the ocean requires kissing these mermen robots… and they’re not particularly attractive looking ones either. Could really use a shave and a better haircut and… time to stop analyzing robotic mermen that you kiss for oxygen.

At the very end, you fight Master Eddy, a not-so-difficult boss whom nevertheless ends the fight with a cheap shot; he drops everybody to 0 HP and makes them lose their items.

They wash up on shore, without items, with 1 HP and no MP, and only one source of restoring themselves: … the mushrooms.

The music becomes trippy, the world gets really bright and colorful, and the party begins hallucinating. All of the enemies here look like people that Lucas knows, but they speak gibberish and attack him. You can’t tell exactly what you’re fighting because they are all “Eerie Smile” monsters until you’ve taken them down to half HP. There are also mailboxes filled with horrible things like 1000 rat corpses or endless screaming. There’s even a strange sauna that everybody but Boney will use.

You encounter the Magypsy who relieves you of this condition by slapping everybody with a 2×4.

Then it’s off to the mountain itself to fight… the Barrier Trio. This is one heck of a hard boss. It is three statues which fight together, using nothing but psi techniques. They form barriers which prevent you from doing certain forms of elemental damage to them, and they change this regularly. Basically, if you put up psi shield, you’ll be fine, but I didn’t figure that out until losing to them a couple times. Really, it was the first boss where psi figured in that much, and I didn’t know that defense up wouldn’t be enough. Mm… I’ll have to keep this in mind. The game is starting to require more strategy.

Then something kind of cheesy happens. As the party approaches the needle, they hear the pigmasks coming. Instead of just grabbing the needle, they stand there, literally waiting as the pigmasks take up formation, roll out a red carpet, and let their masked leader walk up to the party. Really, game? This is a bit of a strain of credibility.

*sigh*

Anyway, Lucas & co. get owned. The masked kid pulls out a sword, swings it, and causes a lightning bolt to hit the group, knocking them out. He then pulls the needle and takes off.

The party recoups and heads back to town. They have to go back through the entire jungle, back through the enemies. It’s kind of a drag. I mean, there’s nothing else of interest in the forest. Ooh, I can see the monsters as they truly are. Splendid.

Well, we cross back over the ocean, this time with the aid of Mixy’s (the Magypsy of this area) servant, Octo, the taxi octopus (he really does have taxi written on his back; is that a tattoo? Strange, but I expect that sort of stuff from this game).

The town is now almost deserted. Everybody has gone north to New Pork City (*groan*). So the group has to follow them, up north through the Argilla Mountains.

They come across Ionia’s place along the way. And also, a Mr. Saturn whom gives us the Franklin Badge. It turns out that is the true form of the courage badge that once belonged to Flint. Lucas had given it to a Mr. Saturn earlier to be polished. And, yeah, this is awesome: the Franklin Badge makes somebody immune to lightning. Perhaps it can foil the masked kid and his impressive lightning sword attack.

Ionia gives Lucas the Water of Time, necessary to restart time for vines covering the entrance to a forest temple that contains the sixth needle. Apparently, cutting implements and fire won’t work on it for some reason.

Neither will clay men, as we quickly discover. The enemy is already there, trying to bash their way in. When they realize we are right behind them, a group of pigmasks attack. They fall quite easily, as a series of Psi attacks just ravage them.

But then it’s time to fight the Masked Man. And, hah, I was right. The Franklin Badge reflects his lightning attack. Then he gets pissed and goes full melee. The ensuing battle is kind of challenging; I’m not sure whether his attacks are categorized as physical, psi, or neither (some attacks cannot be blocked). However, he does go out of his way to use an attack that negates the entire party’s shields that they erected… but both types, so I don’t know which he was canceling. The fight carried on for a long time (he has a light saber, by the way), until it was just him and Lucas. Fortunately, Lucas had plenty of healing reserves. I just had Lucas attack again and again while the Masked Man alternately used dangerous attacks and zapped Lucas with lightning that instantly got reflected.

After the Masked Man fell, it seemed he, or his suit, short-circuited. Robot? Hm.

We entered the temple, activated the sixth needle, and Ionia taught Kumatora PK Starstorm before disappearing. This is awesome. Starstorm is a devastating attack in Mother 2. I bet it’ll be even more powerful here.

And then we are sent off again… the last needle’s location is now known. It is… somewhere… and that somewhere is somewhere near a place that is filthy… mm… to New Pork City then.

“Sunflower Fields” is the Shortest Chapter In Any Game

The time required for me to type out this post is probably longer than this chapter itself.

It opens with Lucas in a sunflower field. There is pleasant music playing in the background. He can wander around, which triggers a flashback to a home with a big sunflower in it, and somebody calling out “Lucas.”

Lucas walks further, across the beautiful field, and Boney shows up. They then see a ghost of Hinawa, Lucas’ dead mother. Lucas pursues her and then sees her floating in a cloud. He jumps off a cliff to try to grab her, but he falls.

He and Boney land in a haystack near Wess and Alec.

And, bonus, something I wondered during this chapter: is Paula the villain? She was a powerful psychic in the second game, which would give her quite the advantage if she wanted to rule the world, and the villain is called “Great Master P”. Plus the play room did have a slightly feminine feel about it.

Still, all this technology reeks of Jeff’s doing.

“Tower of Thunder” – Is This Some Kind of Amusement Park Ride?

There is surprisingly little to say for this chapter. The party is going to get back the Hummingbird Egg.

First, I stock up on new equipment. Then, thanks to advice from blog follower Lord Bob Bree, I headed back to Osahe castle and found Passion had returned, now as Lord Passion. He was much easier to take down with four party members. My reward, a pair of awesome boots for Duster which increase his stats across the board, drastically.

Then it’s into the next area, where we quickly find the clay man whose body contains the Hummingbird Egg. However, a bolt of lightning hits it and it goes berserk. It runs off and the group gives chase.

They chase it into a clay men factory which is notable because the civilians don’t know about this one. Wonder why. Perhaps it’s for Pigmasks only… for whatever reason. Too close to the Thunder Tower?

Anyway, the Pigmasks mistake Lucas for their Commander for some reason. Could it be Claus somehow became their leader? He certainly resembles Lucas, except for hair color.

They give him a suit, then dress up the other party members as Pigmasks. Even Boney wears a helmet.

Then you go running after the berserk clay man. Lucas get stopped by a trooper whom recognizes Lucas for whom he is; after the battle (very easy, thanks to the fact he gets really jealous and does nothing when he sees that Lucas has a DCMC pamphlet), it’s just a matter of going through the long series of tunnels to get to the dump.

You ride on another Pork Bean, although it can run out of energy. This happened to me, thus making this journey much longer. Anyway, I made up for it by getting a ton of XP.

There’s also a little crappy bar in the middle of nowhere. However, the jukebox plays some beautiful music.

Finally, the party comes across the rogue machine. Yet before they can grab it, nearby junk comes alive and attacks! And is quickly destroyed by a few well-placed fire spells. Huzzah.

A Pigmask rushes up in a Pork Bean and grabs the party, still thinking that Lucas is their commander. He takes the group up to the Thunder Tower.

For some reason, you still have to fight monsters as you go up. And why go up? Well, if we can take out the weapon, the town won’t be harassed any longer. Hopefully.

Part way up, that trooper from before shows up for a rematch. He goes down the same way.

Then Fassad shows up. Since we are no longer in town, he figures to finally off Lucas. Lucas and co. make their escape upward, across a bunch of girders.

Then they enter a bizarre room. It looks like a childrens’ play room. There is a robot maid (that attacks if you try to take the yo-yo on display) and some goodies. What’s most curious is that this room has a lot of references to EarthBound (including the yo-yo and a teddy bear that the game suggests could take your place). The maid said that the boss’ name is P… … Pokey? Could he be their leader? I guess it could be Pu, but that would be bizarre.

Anyway, Lucas climbs higher, and has to fight Mr. Generator, an electronic guard system for the tower. It’s pretty easy, since I bought rubber suits earlier on, which prevent it from damaging the party with its powerful electric attacks. After taking it down, it’s up to the top, with Fassad in close pursuit.

He stops to mock the group, telling them that the tower may be destroyed, but they’ll be going down with it. He calls for air pick-up, but he trips on a banana peel before it can get him. Yeah, I’m guessing he’s dead, falling from that distance.

With the help of the Rope Snake, we grab onto the ship’s rope ladder. Surprisingly, the enemy doesn’t just cut it. We hold on for a short while before the Rope Snake tells the group that he’s going to be forced to let go. And they fall. But not before seeing a mysterious masked man, presumably the enemy leader. He’s a kid, but he’s skinny, so it seems unlikely that it’s Pokey unless he’s lost some weight. But who… ah… wait… Jeff? Well, it doesn’t start with a P, but that could just be a cover. It would make sense if the one character whose extremely good with technology was behind all of this.

On to Chapter 6!