Month: April 2020

FFCC: My Life as a Darklord – Bed, Bath and DLC

Session 2, which carries us to the end of the game, began with the two of us picking up exactly where we left off: me trying to beat the main level, Kyle trying to beat the side-levels. Between the difficulty and the time between sessions, my first two attempts were total cock-ups, and Kyle’s first attempt, despite a lot of forethought, didn’t reach the end. But he pulled off the second!

Kyle’s winning move involved a lot of initial delay floors. Two Slow Clocks with Behemoths and one with a Bomb were split up by Evil Puppet Shows, while some Thunder Stands waited at the top, largely unguarded for the time being. The first serious wave in the set is a wave of three Gladiators, who will naturally get past the Behemoths (and unfortunately also the Bomb, even though it was level 3 at the time). Because there was three of them, Kyle was forced to build a lot of redundant floors, but a wave of weak Red Mages showed up to prove additional funds, so it evened out. Unfortunately, a Thief from a later wave managed to sneak through and started wreaking the Thunder Stands, so Kyle prepped a Behemoth to one-shot her on the next floor (one of the biggest disadvantages of the second-tier monsters is that they have to be summoned at least a full floor ahead of an Adventurer to have their attacks ready under normal circumstances, and Behemoths are the slowest of the lot).

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FFCC: My Life as a Darklord – Building in a Dead End

Thieves show up early in the next level, revealing the Poison Harp’s weird defensive resilience to the Job. Other than the Harp, there wasn’t much else to say here, but the level does unlock another side-path (this one not associated with a tower). Both of the two branches presented levels that did away with the Trainees we had been getting used to seeing as early “popcorn enemies,” and promised nothing but Jobbed adventurers from end to end, all Shooter and Mage.

We took the side-path first and it didn’t take it long to introduce Level 5 Thieves, a pair of them right on the heels of three level 3 Black Mages! Frankly I’m shocked we didn’t lose here. Literally half the tower’s floors flashing with alarm (screenshot below), a Black Mage on the final floor, what a wreck. This also marked the end of the side-path, so I suppose that’s something.

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FFCC: My Life as a Darklord – Playing the world’s smallest, venomous harp

An overdue look at our “Tonberry” assistant, Tonbetty.

Tonbetty suggests the best way to build up terror is to beat up some prominent warriors. Chapter 2 begins after the Tonberries have singled out a target: the Striped Brigands and their leader, Bal Dat, who raid on the continent just east of here and also appeared in the original FFCC (or so I learn after teh fact). And of course, we’d be going in with a new present won from the previous level.

In this case, the new unlock is our second monster, the Scorpion. Relative to the Goblins, the Scorpions are a bit stronger but slower, but their real advantage is that they’re a different attack type. MLD has five attack types, and three exist in the aforementioned rock-paper-scissors triangle that you’ll need to master to move forward. Melee (like our Goblins) beats Shooter, Shooter (like our Scorpions) beats Magic, and Magic beats Melee. This applies both to attack and defence. The rock-paper-scissors structure is so integral that the map screen even tells you which attack types your enemies will have (listing the number of adventurers that have each) so that you can plan the early stages of your tower around that information! The remaining attack types are Generic, which is neutral to everything, and Healing, which I’ll detail once it starts to show up, though I imagine you get the gist already! One thing to bear in mind is that even your artifacts have damage types – Iron Balls, for example, are Melee – though this is primarily a defensive factor since few of them cause much direct damage to begin with!

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FFCC: My Life as a Darklord – Come and Get Me

I have never been good at Tower Defence games. Despite having a blast with my first-ever encounter with the genre (Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne‘s tower defence-themed bonus level), ever since it’s been me and Plants vs Zombies versus the world. And believe me, I’ve played a lot of them. During my many years at Flash gaming site Kongregate.com, I played every game that was ever given a Badge (a site-wide achievement, carefully curated by site staff to generally ensure the games were good), and I’d say that Tower Defence was one of the leading A-tier Flash genres, and I sucked at allllllllllllllll of them. From Desktop Tower Defence to Gemcraft, I failed at one and all. These games were big and advertised heavily enough to have thick guides published by developers and fans alike, and I read them all to try to get the Kongregate Badges, and somehow still never got any better. Short of being told exactly what to do, I would eventually lose well before mid-game, and if I was told what exactly to do, I’d often find myself unable to work out why the walkthrough’s strategy was superior – my brain just couldn’t work this crap out! And that’s assuming it varied in any significant way at all, because sometimes I swear I’d be doing the exact same crap and would still lose. I’m not saying I’m cursed, but believe me you, I’m definitely not going to say that I’m not cursed.

And ultimately this is all bad news, because there are two Final Fantasy Tower Defence games! I’m talking about Final Fantasy Crystal Defenders, which we have lined up on Kyle’s PS3 for a much later date, and today’s game, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a Darklod.

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FFCC: My Life as a King – My Power Nap as a King

Shut up, Jecht.

The next day, Leo is atop the tower when he imagines his father talking to him (or is outright visited by his ghost, it’s hard to say). At first, Epitav seems to be insulting his son, calling him a crybaby (which the game has always used as an insult), only for him to turn around and call Leo’s empathy a quality that he lacks, which prompts some visual frustration from Leo. It’s a rare, genuinely effective emotional moment between the jackass father and his abandoned son, but I should note that it’s hampered by the fact that Leo is basically a silent protagonist.

When you want a character to communicate, your options are to have them to do so directly (through speech, sign, writing, or other methods), to have them express their feelings through animation, or to have others comment on their behaviour. Leo doesn’t do the first, has barely any of the second (less than a dozen?), and the third is an extremely shaky and arbitrary route to begin with, and would take extremely skilled hands to handle! Suffice to say, MLK doesn’t manage it in my eyes. All Leo’s qualities, like empathy, are just informed attributes that don’t actually show up in his actions.

Now, there is a fourth way to communicate your character’s feelings, but I don’t know if I should be bringing it up: the things your character does through regular gameplay can be seen as an expression of their character. It can be seen like that, but not only is the industry as a whole bad at this angle, but Square Enix in particular is so preposterously bad at this that it’s been one of my running jokes for years! Is MLK better than the curve? Well, I guess Leo talks to his citizens every single day in our playthrough, but the devs can’t guarantee you do that, and Kyle and I had long since stopped actually listening to them, which doesn’t seem very empathetic!

And worse than all the above, as the scene goes on, Epitav tries to say explain that he’s a gung-ho, bullheaded idiot who charges off to war at the drop of a hat, but this makes him a terrible sedentary king. Okay, good point. But Leo, he says, will be a good king because his personally is totally opposite of his father! Right? Oh wait, that’s right: everyone keeps reminding us that Leo has to be forced into this role with a hydraulic press, because he’s actually a gung-ho, bullheaded idiot who’d rather be fighting! Yeah, Leo’s portrayal has actually been closer in line with his headstrong father, and he has to be practically restrained into the role Epitav is now claiming he’s great at!

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