At the end of Day 3, I had two options open to me that didn’t involve leaving the planet: run along the coast (to Medusa Tower, I said) or return to a shrine, inland, that seemed too strong for me. I have since decided that the shrine is Medusa Tower. It doesn’t look like a tower, that’s for sure, but I know the Tower is on this continent, and there are only three dungeons here: the prison, a cave, and the “shrine.” So by process of elimination the shrine must be the world’s flattest Tower.
Thankfully, I decided to try to cross the lava first, since going to Medusa Tower would have been a very bad idea.
The lava, as it turns out, is just some typical RPG lava that will only slightly damage people crossing it. It makes me laugh to think about how one square of distance can mean so much more in one game than it does in another. It takes your first units in Civilization decades to walk one square, but in Phantasy Star 1, you wind a lava-coated, snaking road across a major continent and all you get is warm feet.
I got across and found a scrap yard on the other end, which held the game’s dumbest puzzle so far. Here’s what I was thinking and what I saw right in front of me:
- Again, I’m looking for a robot to fly my ship. It turns out his name is Hapsby.
- Hapsby is made of Laconian (Laconium?), the game’s strongest material.
- I swear I remember one of the people I had to bribe with sodas saying something about Hapsby being “chained” with Laconian. However, the Phantasy Star script is online, and the word “chain” never appears in it. I wonder I managed to mess this up? It only caused a partial delay.
- In spite of believing the thing about chains, the idea never made sense to me to begin with. You see, someone else had told me that there was a universal solvent called Poly “Meteral” that could dissolve anything but laconian metal (and I had to solve a puzzle to reach this person, so you know what he has to say is important). So obviously I would have to free the laconian robot by melting something off of him that wasn’t laconian.
- So what do you know? I came to this scrap yard, filled with piles of scrap. Sounds like the sort of thing you’d melt off a robot, right? Someone even said there was a robot in there somewhere! But I searched each and every one of them, and none of them gave any indication that there was anything in them.
North of the scrap yard was a cave, but I was wary to go in because, two squares from the scrapyard, I had been ambushed by a pack of Sphinxes, which were the monsters that had scared me out of Medusa Tower in the first place! I figured I was in over my head here, but I risked it, went into the cave and was attacked by… EvilDeads? The cave was infested with Vampires, which were Were Bat recolours, but otherwise, completely subpar monsters! I was back on track! [Editor: The Sphinxes were recolours of the Medusa Tower monster from Day 3, or vice versa, however you prefer. I don’t remember why I mixed them up so easily.]
I got through to the other side of the cave-tunnel, and was surprised to find myself on another continent! From there I had to walk across the shore, which had always been a phobia of mine after that FishMan showed up half the game ago and proved that the shore is always worse than the land. Probably because it was mandatory this time, but my party’s long walk on the beach turned out better than expected, only encountering a few out-of-date shellfish and an Octopus that I suppose justified the use of magic.
There was a town at the other end of the beach that sold a new Heat Gun for Odin, which upped his damage from 5 to all enemies to 10, and a Silver Fang for Myou that put her ahead of Alis in terms of attack! There was also word in town that Poly Material was available in a town called Abion to the north, so I headed down another road.
Results on that road were mixed. There were the odd vampires and Sphinxes, but there were also Deadtrees (a second-level recolour of a first-level monster that appears in the oddest places) and other pathetic second-level monsters that really surprised me this late in the game. If I had to guess, I’d say we’d have to be on the 7th or 8th set of monsters by now, if not further. So we made it to Abion without any trouble, and bought the Polymtrl at, bizarrely, a First Food Shop.
There were also Laser Shields for sale, but they were so expensive I could only manage one, which I gave to Alis. This was a little bit wrenching since I knew from a frustrated look at the Phantasy Star Shrine’s equipment page that Las. Shields are Noah’s only shield, and since he’s currently walking around with none, it would really help him. There were also some strange rumours in town…
The first told me that Lassic was in town (!!) but I’ve since decided it was supposed to say Lassic HAD been in town, and had since left. It certainly got me worked up, at least. There was also a set of rumours that combined into a complete picture, one saying a man was in town doing animal experiments and had brought a pot with him of some kind, and another saying that if you cook a certain kind of bean in a pot and feed it to a cat, it would make the cat grow huge and be able to fly, which the townsperson remarked was “Pretty strange”.
I sought out the strange man by going through a dungeon infested with (hahahahahahahah) Were Bats. I saved just outside, and had my fears confirmed when I went in. See, whenever Phantasy Star has wanted me to just talk to someone, like you would expect when you’re trying to ask someone to turn your cat into a giant flying monstrosity, it would go into an odd camera angle with a flat background wall that seems a little too close. Now puzzles go either way, but when the good doctor showed up and asked me to give me the cat, and I realized we were standing in a typical dungeon hallway, I knew he was a boss monster and up to no good. (I later tested it and was proven right: he’ll kill Myou if you let him).
Refusing “Dr. Mad” (yes, that’s his name) started a fight, which didn’t end very quickly, but did kill Noah, which made me decide to go back to my save. Now, I’ll admit, I’m probably over-levelled thanks to the Peninsula Dungeon fiasco. Walkthroughs I’ve checked after the fact (because this was bothering me) tell me that I shouldn’t be able to buy a Las. Shield after buying the Heat Gun and Svr. Fang, much less beat Dr. Mad. But I had a plan: I had Myou cast her Wall spell, which blocked the doctor from damaging us for two rounds each cast. With Noah flinging fire, I was only interrupted once, to heal Noah after the boss broke the wall the first time. The doctor died, leaving behind the Lac. Pot I had traded for Myou! That left me with the obvious problem: I had no idea how to use it, or how to advance the plot in any way!
Lost, I began to wander aimlessly. I re-searched the scrap piles for a robot (nothing), briefly returned to Medusa Tower (attacked by a Green Dragon, which I beat despite him doing 40 damage per hit), searched the Desert Planet thoroughly (almost every route is blocked by Ant Lions), resisted the urge to check out a secret in the desert dungeon I saw by accident in the PS Shrine (I felt it wouldn’t be fair), returned to buy another Las. Shield, which might I add was a considerable walk (which I gave to Odin so I could sell his Crc. Shield, thanks to bad math in my head that left me 1000 mes short of Noah’s shield) and finally gave in and checked a walkthrough.
The robot’s in a scrap pile. The scrap pile the robot was not in when I looked. There’s no hint which pile, except that the building he’s in looks different. There’s no indication that the Polymtrl melts any of the other scrap piles if you try to use it, as it doesn’t affect them at all and Alis just smells the stuff if you try! This is same as she does when you use it anywhere else it’s not supposed to be used, like in dungeons, or on unhelpful human beings. What was I supposed to do, go around smelling the stuff until finally it leaps out of my hands onto the proper pile? Garbage, 80’s RPGs, that was garbage.
I backtracked, being ambushed almost every square of the way, by Elephants, Nessies and MarMen who lived in a lava flow and attacked in groups of 6s even though only Sworm recolours had ever come at me in those numbers in the past. I eventually limped back to my free inn in the first town. From there, I returned to the man who built my spaceship. The game gave me permission to use the ship, but didn’t tell me… where it was. I only stumbled on to it by accident: I forgot the west exit of the scientist’s town (Gothic) had been blocked in the past, and talked to the guard on a whim. He let me through, and there was my ship!
The ship only had three destinations: the town of Gothic (ie, where I was right now), a town on the Motavia past the antlions, and a town on the ice world, Dezoris, which I had yet to visit. Thus began a massive… well put bluntly… shopping trip. On Dezoris, I found a town filled with Palman immigrants, built beyond a deep tunnel, which helped explain how the town was fully heated. Nice touch from the 80s. With a bit of wheeling and dealing, and the help of the Were Bats and Blue Slimes in the tunnel to round off some purchases, I managed to buy a Las. Saber for Alis, a Wand for Noah (sadly his best weapon, and it’s not even good) and a Las. Gun for Odin, which doubled his attack to 20 to all enemies. This was invaluable for Odin, and was definitely worth the unfortunate footnote that I, once again, couldn’t buy the Las. Shield for Noah, or the Gloves for Myou, her only shield item.
The new shops were also selling Mag. Hats, which could one-time cast the Talk spell, and Spheres, which could one-time cast the Telepathy spell, both of which are almost virtually useless. Let me explain: these are spells that let you communicate with sentient monsters, usually ending the fight, but not only does it not always end the fight, and not only is it hard to tell which monsters apply to Telepathy but not Talk (usually human-shaped monsters can be Talked to), it by and large it isn’t worth the lack of experience and cash to avoid the fight, especially when MP is already limited and inventory space moreso. Also, there’s already a Run spell! Still, the native Dezorians were Telepathic and did have the odd bit of useful information, though I was told they were often liars. One implied that Lassic lives above the clouds where no space ship can go, which was probably true given that I sure can’t find the guy, but where was he?
(Editor: Phantasy Star 2 also has a clever “You know who the bad guy is but even though you have access to air and space travel, still can’t find their location” angle to the story. But the idea that Lassic has a sky castle you can’t reach by spaceship is honestly kind of silly.)
My plan for tomorrow is to explore Motavia, as the monsters on the Dezoris seem to be a bit stronger – not so much that I can’t handle them, but enough that I figure it’s a hint to go to the sand world first. There, I hope to find a town they say is to the south, along with a Land Rover that will let me cross those wretched Ant Lions.
I leave you now with the following:
What fear indeed.