I hate being lost in this game. It’s the 8-bit first person stuff. I get the feeling that if I were trying to play the original Megami Tensei I might just go insane. (Editor: HAH!)
First, something I forgot yesterday: I found a flute that would let me escape dungeons anytime I wanted. (Editor: Though I’m not positive I ever used it, considering an incident you’ll be reading about in a Day or two.)
Today started out fair enough. I went to Motavia and headed south, where there was a village several people had mentioned that was surrounded by rocks and water. The only way in was a cave to the south, which I took. I got a little lost in the cave, but that’s not the big deal, and it ultimately helped me as I found a side passage I would have otherwise missed. The passage played home to a cramped but plot-important Blue Dragon, which dropped an Amber Eye (a gem) when it died. Once I made it through the tunnel, the people in the village said there were dragons plural in the caves beneath, but I’m pretty sure I flushed the place out. Last resort, I’ll head back.
There was really nothing else to do in town, though people hinted at there being a hovercraft somewhere that would let me cross water (that would be great on Palma, which was Earth-like and mostly water). For the time being, I bought a Land Rover from a shop in town. This vehicle let me move faster, avoiding more fights, and also let me cross Ant Lions. I immediately went exploring and found an area filled with gas that I had been warned about, but didn’t recognize as gas at first sight. It did contact damage that tore the party apart, killing two of them in three squares of movement. I had to cast the Fly spell to get away at all!
Since the Fly spell returns you to the last church you visited, I had long ago set it the first town with Las. Shields: it was out of the way and I still needed one for Noah. After a bit of bungling, I got one at last, and finally moved my Fly-point to a church that wasn’t in a remote corner of the world.
I explored Motavia a bit longer, but it was getting frustrating as no one had pointed me to a way to avoid the gas, and the rest of the planet was almost wide open without the Ant Lions to block my path. I eventually wandered into an area I’ve been calling “Horseman Territory” after a monster that lives there. The monsters in that area were all stronger than the rest of the planet, so for the time, I chose to avoid them. That may have been a critical mistake, but I’ll have to see in a later day.
Deciding Motavia was a dead end, I went instead to Dezoris. The ice world was much less open-ended. I haven’t yet decided if going there was a mistake. Dezoris’ only available path led to a tunnel, which led to an open area with another tunnel, to another area to another tunnel, which gets across how bored I was before Wht. Dragons showed up to remove my limbs. My biggest mistake was using Noah’s magic to damage them, as it cost me healing that would have been more valuable. By the time I made it out of the cave I was in abysmal shape. I finally had two directions to go, but that’s not the kind of news you want when you can’t find your blood. Either one of them could have lead me to the town of Dezorins for healing.
I saved and went west, finding another shrine dungeon, which I later learned was called Corona Tower. I immediately left the shrine, reasoning it would be as dangerous as Medusa Tower. I could not help but notice that a third shrine dungeon existed on Palma, past the magically locked door I mentioned ages back. I had an Open spell for Noah at this point, that might work, but failing that, a monster I had Talked to mentioned a “MiracleKey” that would definitely work. But since these shrine dungeons seem so far out of my league, the second Palman shrine was not really at the top of my list.
I kept going west and found a cave, officially named Dezoras Cave despite the cavern system I had
come through to get there. I was hoping the Dezoran town would be down here, since the last town was underground. Upon entering, a Dezoran met me and told me to go left. I ignored him, having it on random-monster-in-the-middle-of-the-desert authority that Dezorans lie very often. This led me into a complicated dungeon I had no chance to properly explore, it was just too big and I was in too terrible a shape. I ran through, in hopes of finding the Dezoran town, but instead managed to find the Laconian Shield, the best shield in the game. Great find, but I was in no shape to make it out (Editor: see what I mean about that flute? Though honestly, I was really in such a bad shape that getting out of the dungeon alone would not have helped.)
Also, I felt kind of disgruntled that I had ignored the entire dungeon. Completionist instinct, I suppose. (Editor: Major difference here between me playing a normal game and me playing the Marathon) I reloaded my save, putting me past the Wht. Dragons but before I turned west.
This time I went east. I knew there was a cave there, but I had ignored it earlier. Inside, I found new Ghoul recolours (“Battalions”, I think) which scared me at first. See, it had only been a few tunnels before that I had met an earlier Ghoul recolour (Zombies). Generally, a game puts recolours far apart, implying that the Dezoran tunnels and this cave were supposed to be played far apart. But lo and behold, I found the Dezoran town, at the end of a spiralled cave system filled with the same laughable monsters guarding the Palman settlement.
In town, I kept my guard up, wary the Dezorans might attack me, since, as you might recall, they’re monsters in the wild. Thankfully they didn’t. They did, however, tell me a lot of things that are probably rank lies. I learned about an artifact that might be useful, the name of the two nearby dungeons, and that there might or might not be a healing spring and a warp point in the tower and cave, respectively. More importantly, I found an “Ice Breaker” vehicle on sale for 12 000 mes. At that price, it was not the most expensive thing I’ve ever seen for sale (that would be the Diamond Armour for 15k) but certainly the most expensive thing I actually have plans to buy, since it certainly does something. Unfortunately, I only have about 2000.
My plan, specifically, is to go to the Dezoran Cave and sweep the place if I can, or to level up nearby first if I have to. Once that’s done and I have the Laconian Shield, I’ll poke around Corona Tower, because I’d hate to have to walk back through the tunnels if I can avoid it. During this all, I’m going to try to amass 15 300 mes: 12 000 for the Ice Driller and 3300 for the Gloves. With the Driller, I hope to be able to charge through the Dezoran ice without having to go back through those darn tunnels – I remember a mechanic somewhat like that from what I saw of Phantasy Star 4. It’s entirely possible there’s no practical use for the driller and the caves might just be the better option, but it’s better to try, especially especially if I can’t beat the Tower at this time and will have to come back.
I’m going to be seeing an uncomfortable lot of ice, that’s for sure.
In between Day 5 and Day 6, I picked up Batman: Arkham Asylum, a game that took around two months to clear in between real life goings-on. Unfortunately, 2 seconds into the game and I made the mistake of assuming loading the compilation’s save state instead of the save file, and inadvertantly erased everything I did on Dezoras the previous “day.”
This might, however, have been a blessing in disguise, as it provoked me into going to Motavia to search through Horseman Territory, and found a dungeon I had missed. Unfortunately, over two months away from the game had sapped my navigational skills, and a fight with two Golems sucked out most of my magic, so I was forced to retreat. I hadn’t even noticed the dungeon was made in a pattern (though that explains why I was so lost).
Trying again, I found my way to the basement where I fought monsters around my level of strength, including some Red Dragons. At the end I found an old man claiming to be Noah’s teacher, who challenged him to a one-on-one duel that forced me to reload a save, as I had panicked against a Red Dragon and had dumped all of Noah’s magic. Attempt two had Noah going in properly armed, and he won handily.
Make a note of my choice of words here. “around my level of strength”. “Won handily”. We’ll be coming back to this oh-so-very shortly.
The prize for winning, unfortunately, was just some good armour for Noah. I still had no leads. Was Medusa Tower still out of my league, I wondered? I certainly didn’t want to go back to the frozen hellscape of Dezoris. Ultimately, I decided to return to Palma to try out Baya Malay, the shrine hidden behind the magically locked door on Palma. Sure, the hints were that it was the last dungeon, but sometimes the hints are overdramatic. Especially in the 80s. After all, when was the last time we saw the plot? Maybe I had to actually pursue Baya Malay before the plot would move to Dezoras.
Oh, was I underestimating the 80s.
Baya Malay began with a small prison, where once again a robot asked me for my Roadpass. Thetrouble was, this time the robot recognized mine was forged and had me arrested. I had to break out and kill it, which was no trouble.
Past the robot, I searched the place from bottom to top before realizing I needed an item to finish off, and I had no way of knowing if I had missed it in the dungeon or if I had to find it elsewhere in the game. Inside, I had found a Crystal from a weird old soothsayer, a second Mag. Lamp I don’t need, and a Miracle Key that, it turns out, could unlock any door, not just the magic ones. Odin had died, and the rest of us were in no good shape, but it had taken the entire extensive dungeon for us to reach that point, as nothing in the place was much of a challenge besides the Centaurs. Those things were nasty: they could take upwards of 45 HP off of Odin.
I was effectively at a dead end at this point, not just in terms of Baya Malay, but the entire game. I had to turn to a walkthrough. What followed was RAGE. Remember when I mentioned a Hovercraft in Day 5? This was months ago for me, ages and ages ago as game playing goes. It turns out the man who mentioned it to me actually knows where it is. The issue was that he asked me if I knew about the Hovercraft, a prompt that typically involves the character giving you info if you say “No” and saying “Okay then” if you say “Yes.” Aka, it’s typically pointless. The trouble is, you do have to tell him you know about the Hovercraft. Even though he’s the only one who talks about it, and you’d be lying to tell him otherwise! (Editor: Yes, you do know about it after he tells you, but generic NPCs across the genre and yes, even here in Phantasy Star, exist in something of a time bubble, never really acknowledging change or expecting any from you.) If you do tell him the lie, he’ll tell you where to find it, allowing you to find it and go to an island in the south of Palma. That sets you off on a chain of story dungeons.
How many dungeons did I skip in exploring Motavia and Baya Malay ahead of time? Well, the walkthrough recommended fighting Noah’s master the dungeon after the next, so that was only one dungeon ahead. But between here and Baya Malay is almost a DOZEN individual dungeons, including the entire Dezoras section. I missed almost a dozen dungeons and was so over-levelled that the game didn’t even blink. Some might say this is a good thing. I might have agreed with them, but now I heartily disagree. In fact, the boss of one of those dungeons is a Titan, a monster I’d destroyed in groups at Baya Malay. Meaning: I’ve missed over a dozen dungeons and they’re all going to be BORING.
I don’t really know who to blame. I mean, I should have prodded the man about the hovercraft way back when just to be meticulous but I’m not sure if “screwing up the entire gameplay experience for two days so far and every day to come” is really a fair price for missing a shitty dialogue trigger. *sigh* I think this game just gained the railroading argument a good cache of points in my mind. If I had been railroaded (at least MORE railroaded, or given a reminder of my current task) this never would have happened. Rubbing salt in it, the town with the man talking about the hovercraft is the one surrounded by lakes, making it hard to get to, and the town that actually houses the hovercraft is beyond the lava flow so I’ll have to take those hits yet again. I can’t wait to get to Phantasy Star 2. This game has worn out its welcome. Maybe I’ll get lucky and I won’t be as overlevelled as it seems, but I don’t know. We’ll see.
(Not long after the original posting, I added the following note to myself:) I’ve been reminded, half through walkthrough hints and half from my own memory, that the Crystal from Baya Malay is supposed to be used against Lassic. Someone said so in one of the towns (script says it was the town east of Abion). So that’s useful. Very “original Legend of Zelda” to hide your weakness in the same dungeon as the boss, wouldn’t you say?