The Liberation Army vs.
Time for the Milich scenario, gang! Let's cash in the votes...
Looks like our frontrunners are Mrs. Lepant and ol' Black Ears. I don't really have any reservations about this team; Kuromimi is a solid front-line fighter, and Eileen gets good rune magic and sits in the back row. Anyone in the back row is safe from virtually anything the game can throw at me, natch, which makes me curious as to why there are any S-range magicians. I mean, why ever put Luc in the party when you can put Eileen or Cleo or someone there instead?
Some pre-adventure preparations: first, Kuromimi needs a rune. He's not good with magic, so I hook him up with the Killer Rune instead, which will increase his damage output. Meanwhile at Chapman's armor shop, you can see how expensive it can get to outfit your army with the best gear. That's 110,000 bits for just body armor for just this team, not counting the sharpening I have to do. Good thing Gaspar is always on standby!
Now it's time for an oldschool RPG throwback. No leads, no idea what to do next... but I do have a big new section of the world ripe for the pluckin'. That means we reach in the closet and dust off RPG Rule #1: talk to everyone.
I just want to put on the Nostalgia Hat for a second and comment on this info-gathering distraction: I like it. Feels like you have to dig into the big, gooey world and get your hands dirty, you know? RPGs nowadays rely too much on out-and-out exposition cutscenes telling you precisely what to do, and not so much letting the player piece it together for himself. Suikoden is usually no exception, either; sometimes it really feels like ○×∆□☆ is just Mathiu's errand boy.
So here's the fruits of our investigation: Milich Oppenheimer's big evil flower is keeping us from getting close to Scarleticia Castle. There is a doctor who can whip us up a magic brew to counteract the effects of the big evil flower. Said doctor is a hermit who lives up in the hills. So...
...obviously "up in the hills" means "down the river."
Okay, so this isn't a great example of using NPCs to orient the hero in the right direction. I still think it's cool.
Of course, things are seldom that easy. After sailing all the way down here we find we're blocked by some curiously whirlpool-shaped rapids. Of course we had to actually sail this insane distance to find this out; we couldn't have just asked someone. (Kind of hard to see how far of a trip it is in that shot. Excellent screenwork there, Dickroad! ○×∆□☆'s boat is in the bottom-center near that bend in the river, and he disembarked from Rikon, which is way upstream towards the northeast.)
Apparently not! Here's another spot where the game leaves you to your own whims rather than blow a whistle in your face while holding up a sign that reads "PLOT THIS WAY!!". Since you're supposed to have done your exploring and talked to everyone, you'll remember this guy...
Gen doesn't care about war or liberation or freedom or anything... all he cares about are boats. Which you'd know if you talked to him, which you would have if you'd explored a bit. And if you hadn't talked to him, well, you're stuck exploring anyway! (This is actually a little confusing later on when the game tells you to put someone who "knows boats" in your party, and the answer turns out to not be Gen. Oh well!)
|Originally posted by: last update|
Suikoden geography lesson! Lake Dunan is a huge body of water in the center of the Jowston(e) City-State(s), which is to the north of the Scarlet Moon Empire. The river empties down into Lake Toran (where Eureka's Castle is) and eventually way down south near Liukan's cozy little bolt hole. I'm not entirely sure how the Dunan River can empty out into Lake Toran and still be called the Dunan River, but it does, and there you have it.
Now that I need some boatwork what needs done, Gen is more than happy to sign up. And he's got a good idea of how to get our boat past the rapids...
Gen is our boat guy! And... that's all I know about him! The game forces him into my party here, but I always just take him out as soon as possible and replace him with someone cooler. I mean, if I'm gonna use a boat guy, I'll just use Tai Ho. You know?
Unfortunately, this means kicking someone out of the group. Bye Kuromimi! Fear not, I'll put him back before it's dungeon time.
Gen's idea is to talk to local eccentric crackpot Kamandol to see if his newfangled science can get our boat down the river. Well, what do you say, old man?
Kamandol introduces us to his so-called "engine," a miracle machine that runs on oil that lets boats travel upstream. Flik all but decries the contraption as witchcraft, but everyone else likes the idea well enough, and Gen can't wait to slap it on a boat and see it in action.
Excitable chap, isn't he?
Like Gen, Kamandol only has to be in the party for the short walk to Rikon (and not even that, if you'd rather put the Blinking Mirror to work), so I don't know what he's like in real combat. Like Sergei and Sansuke he's an S-range fighter and his stats suck, so I don't really have high hopes for him.
With Kamandol on board, my party is now completely filled with forced additions. Once again, Suikoden 2 fixes this problem by adding a convoy: two out-of-party slots used for characters who need to tag along with the team, but you don't actually want to use in combat.
Also note that no matter what I do here I've got to have an S-range dude in the back rank where he's absolutely useless. I'm glad it's just a short walk to Rikon and not, say, a long twisty dungeon.
I do get in one fight along the way, where Gen demonstrates an attack animation identical to Sansuke's. oh god it hurts
Once we get to Rikon, Gen and Kamandol set immediately to work while the rest of the team retires to the inn for some well-deserved rest.
Gremio gets up in the middle of the night to have a heartfelt one-sided conversation with ○×∆□☆. Aw, isn't that sweet?
...wait a minute, the last heart-to-heart was with Odessa in Sarady, and she ended up skewered in a sewer. Gee, I hope this isn't a trend.
Wait, I thought you didn't like being called "old man"? Oh well. Shut up and get in the boat.
Now I have no problems getting past the rapids! And this screenshot shows the flashy location dots a lot better. Liukan's crib is all the way down south, just to give you an idea of how far away from civilization he likes it. Way upstream is Rikon, the twin dots north of that are the entrances to the Bridge of Garan. To the west of Rikon is Milich's dungeon, Soniere Prison. In the northwest corner is his keep, Scarleticia. The double dots south of Scarleticia denote the checkpoint leading to the Lorimar region, and that dot in the middle of Lorimar is the Warrior's Village, which we'll visit in a couple scenarios here.
First thing's first: gotta check the old hermit's house for phat lewt. This goes in the vault alongside the other collectible doodads I can't actually put to use yet.
Here's the famous Dr. Liukan himself. Ain't he just a peach?
Of course, before I can get Doc on my boat, Milich shows up on his dragon to wreck everything. He can't very well let someone whip up an antidote to his magic destructo-flower, can he?
Heh heh heh. Peacock Man. Oh Viktor, the knee-slappers just never stop with you.
Even though he's an old jerkass, you've got to admire Liukan's big hairy balls. The only thing that could make this scene better is if he leaned forward and whacked Milich with his cane, but alas, there was no money in the animation budget for that.
This line is even funnier if Kwanda is in the group, because he doesn't do anything about it. Not even a "Dude, harsh. I'm standing right here." There's no mystery as to why Milich feels the need to remind everyone he's not the sissiest general, although even assuming he's manlier than Kwanda (spoiler: he's totally not), now that Kwanda's turned heel the baton has surely been passed.
Enough about who's a sissy; Milich grabs Liukan, hops on his dragon, and flies off. And yes, Milich's dragon too sounds very much like an elephant.
Yeah! If only you guys had swords or magic runes or something, and Milich was standing within reach! Then you totally could have done something!
Well, so much for the "explore and unearth helpful information" segment of the game, time to run crying back to Mathiu so he can give us ice cream and tossle our hair and tell us how to fix everything.
Naturally, by the time ○×∆□☆ rolls up with his story of soul-crushing failure Mathiu has cooked up a new plan: recruit a counterfeiter and a scrivener from the town of Antei to draw up some fake orders that will get us inside Milich's maximum-security hellhole.
Kimberly turns out to be Mathiu's ex-whore. Illiterate ex-whore, as it happens. She's willing to help, but not for free...
That's right, Flik. Carry that torch. (Actually he might just be trying to keep away from the ugly skank's diseased pooty-tang, but I'm pretty sure it's the torch thing.)
This just in: Viktor is Flik's man-pimp. This sheds some light on their... special relationship in Suikoden 2.
Cut to a scene where Flik and Kimberly drink tea. Okay, this scene has always kind of bothered me, mainly because the two characters are animated in such exquisite detail. Kimberly actually picks up her cup and drinks, then shakes it at Flik shen she wants a refill. Flik does so, then hangs his head in shame. Don't get me wrong, it's very nice work, it's just... why give such loving attention to this scene? Remember, we just watched ○×∆□☆ hop up and down in place when he should have been shakin' his groove thang with Mina. That's a scene that could have used some love. The huge disparity in character animation is really jarring; sometimes the graphics are drawn perfectly, sometimes they're lazy as all hell. I'd actually prefer it all one or all the other, you know, maintain some consistancy.
Or maybe it's just the fact that Kimberly of all fucking people has more frames of animation than 99% of the other characters in the game. Glurge.
And thus, for the remainder of his stay in Eureka's Castle, Flik always slept with one eye open.
Kimberly is our counterfeiter, and for some inexplicable reason you can put her in the party as well. So, uh, please Talking Time, don't make me use her. I am begging you.
Wait, dammit, that's not going to work. I'll have to use reverse psychology. They'll never see it coming.
I mean... I love Kimberly! She's amazing! I can't WAIT to put her in my team for the entire rest of the game!
That oughtta do it. You're a sly fox, Brickroad!
Kimberly tells us that Tesla is hiding out here in Antei, but going by the name Albert. So naturally ○×∆□☆ hunts down "Albert" and lets Viktor put the spurs to him. Viktor attempts to punch holes in "Albert's" story by grilling him on the name of all his relatives, eventually tripping him up by just saying "Hey, Tesla," to which "Albert" responds "Yes? ...wait, I mean, that's not my name."
And thus does Tesla, the weasely scrivener, join the Liberation Army.
Tesla's not a combat character, so there's not a lot to say about him... but look! Fifty-four people! We're halfway there, guys! Woo!
Kimberly and Tesla are shady undesirables, but they did some good work for us. What we have here are exact forgeries of official documents, supposedly signed by Milich himself, that will get us into Soniere Prison without a fuss.
Don't worry, buddy, we have Calorie Mate for that.
Here's a good view of Milich's domain, which I've seen called the Kunan region on some fansites. Fansites, of course, rarely if ever cite their sources, so who knows where the name comes from; in the game it's only ever referred to as "Milich's domain".
Anyway, right now ○×∆□☆ is standing outside scenic Soniere Prison. West of us we can again see the Lorimar checkpoint, Warrior's Village, and Qlon Temple. East on the river is Rikon, Garan northeast of that, and Teien west along the lake. West of Teien, smack in the middle of it all, is Antei, and further on is Scarleticia. Northwest of Scarleticia you can see two dots on either side of a mountainous mass; these are the entrances to the Dragon's Den. Beyond that is the Dragon Knight's Fortress, where Futch is from. (Surely you remember Futch? From the very beginning?) The same maps that show this as the "Kunan region" label the Dragon Knight's Fortress as "Goya" but, again, grain of salt etc. To the north we have a checkpoint appropriately called the Northern Checkpoint, beyond which is the region that borders Jowston(e), where Teo McDohl was sent in the prologue. And that dot in the northeast corner, on the lake? Oh yeah, baby. Pirates. We'll be all up in that shizzle soon enough.
The Opal is the item I need to go back and recruit Esmeralda for... why the hell do we want to recruit Esmeralda again? Oh, right, best ending. Nerts.
So yeah, these guards are no match for my perfectly faked orders, and they let ○×∆□☆ and his gang saunter right on in.
These are the guys what drop Opals. No, not the Red Slime receiving what-for from Gremio; the playing card monster behind that. It's called a Nightmare and, like the Holly Boy and their Nameless Urn, sometimes they cough up the item you need in short order, and sometimes you run fifty laps around the prison looking for one. Nightmares are exceptionally annoying in that they use rune magic against you; they spin around and, depending on whether they show a Fire, Water or Lightning rune on their obverse, will use a different magical attack. That's not the annoying bit. The annoying bit is the "spin around" animation takes what feels like an eternity, and you have to sit through it twice each time one of the damn cards casts a spell against you. Remember, I'm the guy who won't even use the Kickass Kai Supermove because it takes longer to watch than using Free Will; fighting Nightmares is practically torture.
Here's another of Suikoden's ubiquitous collectibles... not that we can do anything with it until we recruit a librarion. To the vault with it!
Nonsensically enough, this lever doesn't open the door. I mean, it does, but you don't open the door by attempting to throw the lever. What you have to do is attempt to walk through the door, at which point ○×∆□☆ will automatically turn around and then activate the lever. I... don't know why I'm mentioning this.
Now that we're in a for-real dungeon, how are your guys' picks standing up? Eileen's getting pretty caught up in levels now, and while her ATK still sucks a big fat one she's got a perfectly respectable MAG stat. Also, though it looks like her spell charges are lacking behind, that's only because I haven't been to an inn to recharge them since she gained a bunch of levels. There's no boss in Soniere so the charges aren't actually a big deal, but let's see what she can do anyway...
101 damage with the L2 Fire spell? Not bad, I guess. Not great, but whatevs.
Wow! The damned thing dropped before I even got through the second screen of the dungeon! That is bro-awesome. That means three out of four of my random chance recruits dropped right into my lap with zero effort!
Seriously guys, I am having stupidly good luck with monster drops this time around. It's like the game knows I'm Let's-Play-ing rather than just regular-playing, so it's making things easy on me. At this rate, I might go ahead and clean up all the Window and Sound Sets when the time comes.
Here's a shot of Kuromimi, now that his weapon's been sharpened up and his gear's been upgraded. His ATK is actually exactly equal to Gremio's, although his damage is better because he's scoring so many more critical hits. And yeah, "Good Sword." That is the least pretentious name you could ever give a sword. Bless you, Black Ears.
By the time ○×∆□☆ has gotten down into the butthole of the prison he apparently forgets he has forged papers and just starts slaughtering guards left and right. Which, you know, is fine by me, but we could have done that without inviting that skank into our house.
Here's the first collectible Sound Setting. Eventually I'll recruit a character who can alter what my menu actions sound like. My personal favorite is the one that makes the cursor into a squeaky toy that roars at you whenever you select something. You reader-types will never get the benefit of these, though, otherwise I'd let you pick which ones I use. For argument's sake I'll just say I'm using the most actively obnoxious one possible because I'm certain that's what you all would pick for me and, anwyay, it's not like you can check.
You... changed your mind pretty quick there, buddy. I'm beginning to think Liukan might be bipolar. Thankfully, the game does not force me to send someone home so Liukan can jump in the party; he instead just silently joins me as an NPC for the time being. You know, kind of like Gen and Kamandol should have.
Once again, Milich shows up right in the nick of time to spoil our fun. Liukan must give off Milich-attracting pheremones whenever ○×∆□☆ comes around, or something.
You... already said that. Dude, seriously. First you assure us you aren't a sissy, and now you're trying to drum into us what a great swordsman you are. TRYING. TOO. HARD.
So instead of fighting ○×∆□☆ man-to-man (like that total sissy Kwanda did) Milich breaks a bottle of man-eating spores on the floor and triumphantly sashays away.
Wait, Gremio, what are you--
Oh god you're crazy. He's crazy! OPEN THE DOOR!
NO I MEAN YOU CAN GO AHEAD AND DIE IF YOU WANT BUT YOU'RE TOTALLY CARRYING THE BLINKING MIRROR! JUST OPEN THE DOOR LONG ENOUGH TO PASS IT THROUGH! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!
By the way, that totally happened to us the first time we played this game. Walking around on foot. Everywhere. Forever. Life sucked.
1) Be glad this scene came about before the inclusion of voice acting in the Suikoden games. Listening to Gremio choke out these words with an agonizingly overblown delivery would totally kill the scene.
2) This is the most horrific way any RPG character dies ever. Suikoden does not pull punches.
Soon enough Mathiu shows up to rescue us. Which is good, because we were locked in a dungeon, and if he hadn't come around we would have had to eat Viktor.
Speaking of eating our best friends, what's left of Gremio?
Ouch, that's rough. Suikoden does NOT. PULL. PUNCHES.
I'd make a crack here about how Viktor is going back in to rape the corpse, but... there is no corpse.
After a short nap ○×∆□☆ gets up to find half the damn castle standing outside his room to offer condolences. Camille's are especially out-of-place. She's all "asshole owed me like fiddy bucks".
Liukan, meanwhile, has brewed up enough anti-flower medicine for the entire Liberation Army, and then practically begs to join its ranks.
Liukan is our doctor and, strangely enough, he is a combat character. I've never seriously used him, since he's another front-frow weakling, but who knows? Maybe there's a biggest-bushiest-beard sidequest or something I never knew about where he'll come in handy.
Enough crying about his babysitter; it's time for ○×∆□☆ to put on his big boy pants and marshal the troops.
Battle at Scarleticia Castle, take two! *clack*
Still outnumbered, but this time the mean ol' flower has no effect. And Krin pulls through! If he's gonna Charge, I'm gonna Magic. Luc's attack is now a bit stronger with Lotte on his team, so...
...free victory! How about you, Giovanni? Are you up to not sucking today?
Sometimes instead of coming right out and saying "Charge Attack" or whatever your thieves will come back with "So-and-so's Attack". When this happens, you have to consider what kind of attack the opposition is most likely to throw at you, which can be difficult if you haven't played the game before. Suffice it to say that I know Milich's specialty is Magic, so I should send elves at him.
That's right, I've chopped his numbers damn near in half without losing a single man. No more freebies though; we're out of thieves. Say, how about those merchants?
The old rule is, when in doubt, charge. Of course, without Gremio ○×∆□☆'s team is no longer top dog in the Liberation Army. That now falls to Lepant and his kin, who should be able to mop this up nicely...
Damn right we did! Who's the sissy now, Mr. Flower General!?
Once again Mathiu is the man with the plan! Of course, there's a hole in my party what needs filling up...
Humphrey was next on the list (tied with Sheena, but an impartial third party broke the tie for me). Of course, you guys managed to stick me with four S-range fighters. D'oh! Fortunately there's not a boss in here, so Kuromimi can sit in the back row and keep Eileen and ○×∆□☆ warm until we're done.
There are treasures here, but we're going to gun straight for the flowers. We have to come back shortly for some recruits anyway, so I'll knock the whole place out in one pass.
After setting "fire" to the roses, Milich complains that the Black Rune on his arm is melting. Of course Viktor, Cleo and Pahn are all clamoring for Milich's blood, and Mathiu has to step in by saying "it wasn't him, it was the rune!" Which leads to one of Viktor's best lines in the game...
By the way, I'm pretty sure that between the two, Milich would have picked the balloon. I dunno, there's just somethin' about him.
Here's another option I don't trust you cats with. I'm not sure if the game will let you kill Milich or not, but with 55 stars under my belt I'm certainly not going to chance it. This naturally causes some complaints from Viktor and Pahn...
...but Flik of all people steps up to defend ○×∆□☆'s decision. Looks like all ○×∆□☆ had to do to prove he's a worthy leader is let someone close to him die a horribly tragic death! Which... would qualify Flik, too, I guess. Well, I'm not going to question it.
Milich doesn't need any goading, he offers to join up. And lo! The plot thickens! Looks like Barbarossa only keeps Windy around because she reminds him of his dead wife, which means in addition to being corrupt and malevolent he is a creepy bastard. And though Pahn and Viktor like it not, ○×∆□☆ agrees to let the murderous flower general enlist in the Liberation Army.
056/108: Milich Oppenheimer
Okay, just going out on a limb here and assuming that Milich is actually gay, he is proof positive that gay people rock. He said he wasn't bad with a sword and he meant it; he can hold his own alongside most any of my big boy attackers. His real specialty is rune magic, though, and he's one of those rare gems that can dish it out from both angles. He does chew up a front-row slot while doing it, though.
Uh oh! Looks like trouble's a-brewin'! That's for next update, though.
By the way, Gremio's death powers up the Soul Eater to L2, giving ○×∆□☆ access to a very cool area attack spell.
...and Camille just gets creepier. Is this standard operating procedure for tax collectors when their guy is dead? "Oh, sorry your dead friend can't pay me, I'll just move into your house and stay forever now."
Next up: more plot, another recruitment drive, and NINJAS. Stay tuned!
Vote if you want, but don't come crying to me if your seething need to see Kimberly or Kamandol in my party ends up killing your chances to see a NINJA instead. Master list is still here.
Countdown to Quincy: 24 Stars of Destiny
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