Sunday, November 10, 2019

Game 40 - Monster Maker 3 (Finished)

Chapter 5 is the last one. I began by sailing around to some of the towers to boost Lufeea's magic. I finally figured out what the yellow magic spells are -- it means your level is not high enough to use them without a chance of failure.

A lot of what happens in this chapter is somewhat aimless; just proceeding to the next town without a clear goal. The main goal of this chapter is that now Lufeea's sister has been kidnapped as well. This means that the enemies have both the master Monster Maker and the High Priest, which can't be good.

A random dude has captured two of the side characters from the previous chapters, but we manage to save them pretty easily. There's then a sequence where we need a kayak to access new areas, requiring trips through several more dungeons. They have the usual array of traps, switches, confusing passages, etc. I'm going to skip over this part and resume near the end of the game, crossing a mountain peak.

After beating some minions we have to deal with these three warrior women. It's a bit tricky at first with all of them going for you but if you can beat one it makes it a lot easier. Lufeea's area effect magic is good because most of them can cause various status effects like confuse and freeze.

After this, there's a town where we help find a boy who ran out to get his dog. While we're out of the town, a flying castle appears.

The castle obliterates the town, killing the boy's mother.

Apparently this was an attempt to kill us, so that's not good. The castle goes off to the desert.

Now we need to make it into the desert, but it's too dangerous because of worms, so we need to have a Monster Maker combine some honeys together to make a spice so that we can control the worm (I guess the creators like Dune).

Once the worm is tamed, you can ride it around the desert. There's a large dungeon that's optional but gives Lufeea her most powerful spells. I never ended up using them much (partly because I never hit level 48) but going through the dungeon is also worth some extra treasures so I did it. This was one of the most annoying dungeons in terms of encounters because I had to run from almost every one.

A few more miscellaneous things -- we save some women from a king's castle, who captured them at the request of one of the villains, Dioshel. Next up is the Water Dragon Cave, which will lead the way to a castle where we may learn the truth about what's going on.

Finally, here's Kurisu, the character I named at the beginning. She was one of the heroes who defeated evil before, with the help of the white dragon Bran, which magicians and heroes created. It turns out that Lufeea is a reincarnation of Kurisu, and Bran has become the Black Dragon that the enemies are using. Gaiane hopes to use the power of the Black Dragon along with the captured High Priest and Monster Maker to revive the Evil God. We need to stop that, and of course Lufeea now wants to try to save Bran the dragon.

Lufeea also gets access to various shrines that have the best equipment for her -- the Kurisu Robe, the Kurisu Hood, etc. This is a strange way to use the named character; I'm not sure I've seen another game where it's not someone you actually control.

We get to the final dungeon with the help of Mito, the dragon that we saved early in the game. He's now grown enough to get us there.

The final dungeon is very long, but there are multiple save points inside it and they provide ways for you to open shortcuts so it's easy to leave. What's also nice is that there are few encounters that you have to run away from so I was able to gain a fair amount of levels. Dioshel has been turned into a crow and trapped in a jail for some reason, but we save her on our way to the final battle.

Gaiane is in the final room, hoping to revive the Evil God. First we fight one of her warrior minions who isn't hard, and then the Black Dragon. He isn't as hard as I thought he would be. Now it's the final fight. Gaiane fuses with the Black Dragon to reveal the final boss.

The head will revive the arms, and the arms protect the head. However, they can be frozen, so having Lufeea cast Death Freeze helps, as does the Dark Ball spell which stops all magic for a while. Once the arms and head are defeated, the torso is left.

The torso casts nasty area effect spells. I thought I might lose, but by casting Dark Ball every chance I got and using items to heal, I was able to eventually defeat it -- at one point I was down to only one character with 70 HP left, so it was close.

After this, the Black Dragon turns back into Bran, and he disappears to turn back into the earth and air he was created from. The closing scene is mostly wordless as everyone goes back to their lives.

This game is very flawed but not the worst I've played, and I'll discuss all of this more in the wrap-up post next week.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Game 40 - Monster Maker 3 (Part 2)

I think this game would be very hard to play on a console, especially if you tried without the dungeon maps. Even with the battle setting on the highest speed the battles don't go that quickly, and the encounter rate is extremely high, especially compared with the long dungeons.

The dungeons are relatively well designed, I think. They have a lot of traps, switches, alternate paths, and such, so that it's not just wandering through a featureless dungeon finding treasure boxes. But I can also sympathize with the criticism of this game's difficulty -- one thing you have to do in pretty much every dungeon is figure out which encounters will kill you if you try to fight them. If you try to fight enemies that cast charm or sleep, or have area effect magic/attacks, you're running the risk of a game over even if you enter the fight at full strength. Even if the risk is minor, it's not worth it given that a game over sends you back to your last save, and the dungeons are so long. Fortunately running away is relatively easy, but I have gotten game overs even when I tried to run.

Chapter 3 introduces another character, princess Diane. Her brother is sick, and she thinks it's because of the growing power of the monsters, and sets out to find the problem. Her father forces her to go take a magician along with her. Also she can pick up an "underling" Robber who can find traps and also fight in battle.

The magician is training in a forest, and his master sets up a trial to see if we're really ready to go out adventuring. We pass. The magician characters are interesting because their regular attacks shoot magic out of their wands that does a decent amount of damage at a distance; this makes up somewhat for their low MP.

The rest of the chapter is pretty short. Diane has to save a statue maker who can make a goddess statue to ensure safe travel over the seas. Along the way she meets up with the heroes from the previous chapter.

Chapter 4 begins with Lufeea, who seems like the main character, but the person I named at the beginning is Kurisu, so I don't know what's going on there. Chapter 4 is quite long, and overall the time that elapses before you get this main character is much longer than in Dragon Quest IV. The main goal here is for Lufeea to travel around to various magicians and learn their magical powers as we still try to discover what's going on with the increase in monster activity.

It also seems like she's a prophecied person because everyone knows who she is; destined to become the most powerful magician in the world. Her sister is a high priest. After leaving her village she quickly meets up with the three characters from the former chapters, and this is the party for a long time (maybe the rest of the game?)  The first goal is Bolgard tower, where a mage puts Lufeea on a trial through various traps and tricks in his tower, and then teaches her magic.

After that, she heads off to meet Daruuan, but the shadowy villains of the game have captured him. As he's being captured he throws Solomon's Ring to Lufeea; with this we can now get monsters on our side. It's similar to Megami Tensei (I think one of the MT developers worked on this game), but I haven't used it much yet. Getting a Goblin or Robber is helpful because they can detect and disarm traps. But one of the complaints I've seen about this game is that the system is implemented in a way that makes it hard to use the monsters -- you have to completely sub out your party for the monsters (temporarily) and they can only be revived at monster maker huts which aren't necessarily in convenient locations.

The majority of this chapter is just finding the towers with the magicians in it, with no real developing story. A few important things do happen -- we save the daughter of the King of Fetoland by going into her dream, and Fetoland's brother has stolen a ring from the Elves that we return.

Near the end of the chapter we have to go to a volcano to stop the villains from doing some cliched ceremony, and also to stop the volcano from blocking access to other continents. This is the hardest dungeon so far because most of the encounters are game over chances. So it's a lot of fleeing.

Eventually we meet up with a Black Dragon and one of the antagonists, Diosheryl. This is a hard fight but we just have to survive for 6 turns before an earthquake shakes the area. We get saved by the dragon from chapter 2, and the chapter ends with us being able to explore the southern continent.

I'm still not sure what's up with that character I named at the beginning of the game. It almost makes me wonder if I hit the wrong button and went with the default name (Lufeea?) but I'm pretty sure that in the dream world there was a mention of Kurisu. We'll see.