So you guys are all hot and bothered for some nice, juicy violence. Okay, I can dig that. Which means it's time for...
The Liberation Army vs.
Teo "○×∆□☆'s Dad" McDohl
Teo does NOT mess around; dude brought his army straight up to Kaku in order to have a go at me.
Yeah? Well ○×∆□☆ is going to teach you not to pick on poor, defenseless ninjas!
I feel bad sending the young lad off on such a dangerous mission, but he knew what he was getting into when he signed up.
Armored Cavalry, eh? That sounds... powerful. And also very much like a Charge attack. Magic > Charge, so let's send Luc out.
Okay, that didn't work, and a bunch of my guys got slaughtered. Krin, what you got?
Again? Well I guess if I had an unbeatable super-move I'd just spam it over and over too. Magic doesn't work, so this time we'll send Lepant out to Charge at it. Hopefully we can at least stalemate.
OH GOD THE PAIN.
This sucks. Now they outnumber us about 2:1 in addition to their superior combat ability. How about we build a wall out of our dead and hope for the best?
Oh, well, good. At least it's not Armored Cavalry again. Luc's already spent, but surely Jeane's unit is up to the task!
OW OW OW OW OW TEO'S CHARGE IS JUST ARMORED CAVALRY AGAIN.
A damn sensible idea, Mathiu. Man, this is twice now an Imperial General has made fools out of us on the field. What the hell kind of edge do we need this time?
A quick aside: it is possible for members of your army to permenantly die during these combat scenes, although you have to royally screw up for it to happen. It won't happen during battles you're supposed to lose (like this one), and it's not just a random toss; you really have to suffer a heavy-ass blow to see it. Some characters, of course, have plot immunity; you'll never see Lepant or Viktor fall in battle for instance. In my experience, as long as you stay on top of your recruiting and play the battles at least half-intelligently, it's nothing you'll ever have to worry about. There's a FAQ out there somewhere that lists all the people who can die and what their last words are, presumably because it's so hard to actually kill them. Dead Stars of Destiny have their name greyed out on the stone slab, and they no longer count towards your total. So if, say, Eileen gets killed you can kiss your endgame bonus* good-bye.
*It's chips and salsa.
Apparently Teo's Armored Cavalry use dragon horses instead of regular horses. And fun fact: we don't see dragon horses again until Suikoden 5, where they play an important part in the plot! (Three of them are Stars of Destiny, even!)
Though the entire Liberation Army failed to repel Teo's attack, Pahn believes he can hold them back single-handedly.
Alright, tough guy, I won't try to talk you out of it. Do I get your stereo if you die?
I think Pahn means "en garde" here, which I guess just means "on guard" so maybe he's just trying to cut out the middleman. Or try not to sound French. What I'm getting at is, I think this is a translation mistake rather than a stylistic decision.
The thing to understand about these one-on-one fights is, even though everything is boiled down to a yellow health bar, your stats still matter. That's why I sharpened Pahn's weapon and leveled him up and decked him out in the finest armor; you're supposed to lose this fight, and anyone who hasn't taken the time to train Pahn up is certainly going to come off it with a feeling of hopelessness. If Pahn loses, Teo beheads him and his name is stricken from your stone slab (this also has the side effect of leaving ○×∆□☆'s unit in major battles empty for the rest of the game). However, it's possible to win, but only if you show Pahn a little love.
The sad truth is Teo is a motherfucker. Defending is still the best way to win, but it effectively means we trade blows; his "blocked" attacks deal about as much damage as Pahn's counterattacks. Which means you have to tip the scales against him by picking Attack when you know he's going to Defend. This is nickle-and-dime damage, maybe 8-10 per hit, but unless you seriously want to powerlevel Pahn it's your only trump card.
I played the fight almost perfectly, and you can still see how close I cut it. Actually, this time around Pahn is a few levels shy of where I usually like him; after Scarleticia I tend to run him through Soniere a few times waiting for the Opal to drop. Since I didn't have to partake of that particular chore laps around the prison would have just been naked grinding and we all know how much I hate that.
Bottom line: Pahn can beat Teo, but it sure as hell ain't easy.
Win or lose, Pahn finds himself in the same situation: Teo's manservants want to cut off his head. The difference is that, if he wins, he's garnered Teo's respect and Teo lets him live.
Pahn, of course, is kind of dense and Teo's generosity is lost on him. Ah well, at least he makes it back in time for dinner.
Teo's mercy in this scene is a great example of how the "villains" in Suikoden typically aren't. Outside of Windy (and, okay, Kraze) nobody is really a bad guy per se. There are better examples than Teo in the series (and even in the first game in particular), but it helps paint the picture that this story really is about two clashing armies and not good overcoming evil.
Yeah, no shit, you think?
Teo's army is still (supposedly) amassed just outside Eureka's Castle, and the best way to deal with this apparently is for everyone to take a nap. So ○×∆□☆ retires to his room, which at this point is pretty swank and takes up an entire wing of the top floor...
...cue magical girl exposition! And just when I got done praising the story for not being some played-out "good vs. evil" schtick.
What Leknaat is talking about is that she and Windy share a True Rune between them (the Gate Rune) and Windy is attempting to steal a second for herself (the Soul Eater). Later in the series they explain that it's impossible for one person to take two True Runes into themselves (this is kind of important to the plot of Suiko3), so exactly what Windy was planning to do with the Soul Eater is unclear. Equally ambiguous is the "revenge" she is determined to exact upon the world. The last message in particular is something I find humorous because there are a lot of examples in the series of regular Joes having True Runes with no real ill effect. In fact, it's not until Suiko4 that we start getting into the subject of Runes that have a negative effect on their hosts at all, and...
"Brick, you're not LPing Suiko4. Shut up and get back on point."
Right, sorry. The tl;dr is that Windy is the bad guy and I have to stop her, and by the way it would be okay if you freed everyone from the corrupt empire while I'm at it. Which... we pretty much knew since we got kicked out of Gregminster. So, really, all Leknaat accomplished was screwing ○×∆□☆ out of some much needed rest. Well played, Leknaat!
This line from Mathiu just flat out baffles me. Either he's hallucinating, or he really badly mispronounced "Pahn".
Fortunately, Flik of all people has had a brainstorm: by now the Secret Factory guys should have finished up a whole mess of Fire Spears, which should be effective even against the Armored Cavalry.
Unfortunately, nobody knows if the Secret Factory is still standing. It is located in the north, after all, and Teo's been wreckin' shit up there pretty good for a while now. Not much for it but to head that way and check it out, though.
Just by sheer coincidence Gen and Kamandol have thrown together a speedboat for me, which just happens to be what I need to get to the next area of the game! You'd think since Teo's army is within eyeshot it would be too dangerous to leave the castle through the front door, but nah, the Armored Cavalry mysteriously vanishes until the plot calls for them to be back.
Still, ○×∆□☆ is a poopy-pants nautical novice and can't possibly handle the breakneck speeds of Gen's new super-boat, and apparently he doesn't feel like politing it himself, so I've got to bring someone else down. That someone else is, of course, Tai Ho, and the other four slots will be filled with the frontrunners on the vote list.
First up, my pocket's a little light, so I stop off at Gaspar's joint for a refill. By the time I've outfitted my new team I will have officially blown through one million bits since I started the game. How many non-Mario RPGs do you know where it is common to spend your max purse several times over before you're done?
No thanks man! I think I'm good!
Okay, time for the newbie rundown. Gon is pretty similar to Kuromimi except in how some of his stats are laid out. To keep things simple I actually just popped his brother's old Killer Rune on him. Also note: Cool Sword. "Hey Gon! Your sword is totally cool!" "Dude I totally know!" "Hooray!" "Hooray!"
Freakin'... kitchen knife? Oh lordy lordy. As you can see I didn't even bother giving Kimberly a rune, partially because she has fewer magic charges than does my pocket lint, and partially because it's probably possible to transmit STDs through used crystals.
Hilariously, Kimberly manages to out-damage Sheena the entire time we're out, although neither of them are particularly good thanks to being so horribly underleveled. Rounding out the team in the back line we have Camille, chosen from a four-way tie by an impartial third party, who will be rocking my Fire Rune. My plan as always is to rely on area attacks to take out enough monsters to level up the weaklings on my front line before they have to actually fight. PRO TIP: you can't do this if you forget to recharge ○×∆□☆'s magic, but I didn't notice that I had forgotten to hit the Inn until I was well on my way to the next dungeon. (D'oh!)
Why, exactly, do we need a speedboat? Well for one, it travels about twice as fast as your regular ol' boat. For another, it gets you through what the game calls a "maelstrom" and lets you dock at the village of Kirov.
Kirov has a few people to recruit, but absolutely no freebies. Melodye here won't sign on until I find her a unique rune.
Sarah the laundry girl is more open to the idea, but only if I run an errand for her: she's out of soap. You know what that means, guys... fetch quest chain! Someone cue up the Benny Hill music!
Generic NPC #3187 has soap, but won't give it to us unless we find him some soy sauce. Which is stupid because if ○×∆□☆ dangled even 0.1% of his net worth in front of this guy's nose you know he'd be willing to give us his soap and his pants if we were in the market for some.
Soy Sauce Man wants salt. Isn't... isn't soy sauce pretty salty already?
Okay, but only if you promise you're going to use it to beat your children, and not anything boring like, say, measure a yard.
Sorry buster, we left Milich back home and ○×∆□☆ don't roll that way.
So where on earth are we going to find sugar?
Why, at the store, of course! Sweet!
Heh heh see what I did there?
So now that we have sugar we just repeat the fetch quest in reverse order...
I swear to god someone needs to get all up in here and organize a weekly Kirov swap meet. You people are pathetic.
That last guy (the first guy?) is a jerk, and tries to pull a "princess is in another castle!" on you. Of course he immediately backs down, perhaps because ○×∆□☆ doesn't particularly look like he's in a chuckling mood after running around town doing everyone's grocery shopping.
KICK IN THE NARDS. The laundry girl fetch quest is absolutely the most inane thing you have to do in the entire game in order to recruit someone. (Obviously the wheel-o-frustration back in Lepant's mansion is the most inane thing overall.I mean, to Jabba and Esmeralda there's at least some element of adventure to it; farming for item drops isn't fun, but you do have to learn what item, exactly, they're looking for in the first place and which monster, exactly, drops it. That's something that uses up some brain units. Sarah's sidequest is just a series of hoops you have to jump through; no battles, no danger, no though required; just "do XYZ and you get a prize!"
In all seriousness, Sarah isn't bad. She isn't great, but any L-range fighter with a decent amount of magic charges is a worthy addition to the party. We discovered Sarah while training up all the "joke characters" we could think of, and were pleasantly surprised with her performance. Still, she's nowhere near as awesome as the laundry girl from Suiko2, but that's someone else's LP.
With that unpleasantness out of the way, it's time to do some super expensive shopping. Interesting to note about Gon: he's one of the few people who can use shields, and the Chaos Shield is the best one you can buy in the game. So even though he can't match the damage output of some of my other brutes, he is on average easier to keep alive.
By "free man" he means a bum, of course. And of course the best thing I can offer this "free man" is a position of servitude in my army! But first he wants to play a game...
Georges's game involves memory matching. To recruit him you have to flip all the cards on the table over before the timer runs out (in this case, fifteen seconds). When you make a match, those two cards are removed from the table, and the four cards surrounding them flip over momentarily. If more matches can be made of those, they too are removed and the next layer of cards is flipped. While these chain reactions are ocurring the timer stops; it only ticks down while you're picking your cards. On the easiest difficulty Georges only uses five distinct cards (as you can see, I'm about to get two more matches right here), so you can clear the entire table in just a couple picks with a little luck.
Your days of being a "free man" are over, bucko; I'm putting you to work digging ditches and emptying bedpans.
As can be expected, Georges is a non-combat character who plays his card game with you back at Eureka's Castle. It's kind of fun for a few minutes, but you can't win any money or prizes at it, so there's no reason to ever play him again once you've beaten him here in Kirov. Minigames like this are a pretty major part of the series, though, and that tradition gets its start with Georges/Gaspar/Marco.
The last thing we need to do in Kirov is run around tasting everyone's stew. Because when you're barging into strange empty houses, the first thing on your mind is to sample the abandoned bubbling pot on the stove.
Don't think too highly of yourself, I only did it because Tai Ho dared me.
Lester is our other chef, but I don't know if he's any better in the party than Antonio was. I'm betting not. They probably have a Unite, though.
Here's the northernmost region of the Scarlet Moon Empire. The dot we just came from is, of course, Kirov. We're headed for Kalekka, and the Secret Factory is beyond that. The dot to our southwest is Moravia Castle, and southeast is the Floating Fortress Shazarazade. The mountainous area north of Shazarazade is none other than Mt. Tigerwulf, the dungeon ○×∆□☆ braved all by his lonesome back in the very first update, which means the lonely dot in the valley is Sarady. Which, if you think about it, is pretty neat; they didn't just pick some random location for our meeting with Kage early in the game, they actually worked the map so it was a location geographically close to where Kage would be taking the plans to. (I guess we're supposed to assume that he was able to slip through mountains that are impassable to us, but I'm willing to suspend my disbelief that far because, hello! NINJA!)
Here's the destroyed town of Kalekka. This is either "just another busywork dungeon" or "a vital piece of Suikoden lore" depending on how deep you like to get into the story. If you don't care, skip to the next post. Elsewise, brace for a history lesson.
Being in the northernmost region of the Empire, Kalekka was most at risk of being invaded by Jowston(e). This was especially true right after the War of Succession, when Emperor Barbarosa first took the throne. Tired of war, pretty much nobody cared when Jowston(e) made a land grab south and occupied a lot of area, completely demolishing the poor village. However, the destruction of the village caused Imperial patriotism to swell, and invigorated the army's morale; the great generals banded together and retook the region, pushing Jowston(e) back. Though Kalekka was lost, occupation was averted, as was the drawn-out war that would have inevitably followed.
At least, that's the Imperials' "official" story.
What really happened was this cat, Leon Silverberg, Mathiu and Odessa's uncle according to outside sources. Leon was Barbarosa's chief strategist during the Succession War, and he saw the importance of avoiding war with Jowston(e) at whatever cost. In order to drum up public support for a campaign against the Jowston(e) invaders, Leon himself arranged for Kalekka to be razed and for the blame to be placed on his enemies. His ploy, though it didn't sit well with any of the generals, worked perfectly; Kalekka was burned and the armies rallied against Jowston(e). In Leon's mind (and probably in cold, cold reality as well) the greater good was served.
The "Kalekka Tragedy" or "Kalekka Incident" (depending on where you do your research) left its mark on several of the Suikoden characters. It's the reason Mathiu developed his anti-war sentiments and tried to dissolve from Imperial service. Our favorite stoic swordsman, Humphrey, participated in the sack of Kalekka and was so disgusted at what he was being asked to do that he murdered his commanding officer and became a wanted man, eventually falling in with Odessa and her fledgling Liberation. (Though, how he could stomach the Silverberg name at that point is anyone's guess.) Even Leon himself retired afterwards.
You guys know by now I try not to put too much stock in "weak canon" sources, but most everything pertaning to the Kalekka Incident are right here in the game. Presumably this is to really play up that the Scarlet Moon Empire is absolutely corrupt and has got to go; greater good or not, the Liberation would never stand for torching its own lands and betryaying its own people in order to win a battle.
As for Leon himself, I find him to be one of the most fascinating characters in the series. I can't recruit him yet, but I will eventually. He comes back as the "bad guy" in Suikoden 2 but, remember, in the Suikoden series, many of the "bad guys" aren't.
For those of you who managed to sit through my gushing fanboyishness there, and didn't skip to the next post, here's a great shot of Gon chopping up some hideous bird-man. Hooray!
We can file this one under "kick ass!":
Ninja-man pile driving Kimberly into the ground. Suddenly I am very, very glad you guys made me bring her along.
The last living resident except for Leon, you mean. Apparently the old man isn't bothered by the many hundreds of monsters that now inhabit Kalekka, just so long as he's got his beard and his bottomless bowl of soup.
I won't be able to read this in-game until the next scenario, but this is actualy the Imperial account of the Kalekka Tragedy. Fitting, no?
There's a requirement to recruiting Blackman the farmer, but I didn't learn what it was until my second or third pass through the game.
I know absolutely nothing about this guy other than he has a ridiculous name and is a farmer. In order to recruit him, all you have to do is talk to him before you stomp on his plants. (Or, if you do, leave the screen and come back.)
Of course once he's not around to see you, you may feel free to stomp with impunity...
Hmm... I should try doing this with Blackman in the party, on the off chance he flips out and murders anyone. I won't hold my breath, though.
This is the item we need to recruit Melodye. We'll pick her up on our next pass through Kirov.
"Fuck Dagon!" "Yeessssss!"
Okay guys, I know I normally try to avoid doing this, but I simply cannot resist presenting this next conversation unaltered:
Oh ○×∆□☆, you're such a stinker!
As soon as Ledon identifies us as the guy who was hanging out with Odessa at his inn, Ronnie Bell runs off to inform her boss that we've arrived.
Of course this frees Ledon and Kessler up to drop sob stories on us, practically begging to be let into the Liberation Army. Interestingly enough, you'll recall the first time we rean into these guys were when we were delivering the Fire Spear blueprints to Sarady. Perhaps even more interestingly, the only reason ○×∆□☆ didn't burn down his in after "being served a tea" is because the PlayStation controller didn't have a button for it.
Ledon is all but pointless at this stage in the game; he can't be assigned to the party, and his role in major combat (that of a third Thief) is pretty insubstantial considering we're about to get our second Ninja. Maybe we can put him to work brewing tea...
Kessler, on the other hand, can be assigned to the party. He joins Varkas and Sydonia in the "Bandits" Charge unit, and my gut says he's probably similar to Varkas in battle... not that I know much about what Varkas is like.
Inside the Secret Factory we meet up with the infamous Kage. Since he's almost very literally only asking for peanuts, there's no reason to turn him down. In fact, there are several good reasons not to.
Kage is our second Ninja, giving us two freebie rounds per skirmish instead of one. He's got an L-range weapon and an empty rune slot. I don't believe he's a great magic-user, but it's the perfect spot for Killer or Double-beat. I mean, I never particularly get much use from him outside of the mass combat scenes, but if you're gonna reach on the shelf for a ninja in your party why would you pick Kasumi over this guy?
More collectibles! As you've probably guessed most of these are in treasure boxes, but a few have to be won off monsters. It takes something like an hour or two of running around if you really want to have the whole set, so...
Hey peanut gallery!
Do you want me to collect the whole sets? This includes all the Sound and Window Sets plus the full collection of Old Books. Although I'm probably making a mistake deferring to your judgment on this since the answer is just going to be "lol kimberly" anyway.
Mose and his fantastic Hitler 'stache cut right to the point: yes, we have Fire Spears. No, we can't transport them to Eureka's Castle. Why? Because we don't have enough boats. Mose doesn't technically join yet, but once he does he becomes our third blacksmith. For the past few months (year?) his smithering skills have been hard at work mass producing Fire Spears. In fact, you can see racks of them in the screenshot!
Tai Ho thinks he can solve the boat problem by calling in a favor from a buddy of his in Kirov. So, back to Kirov with us! (Of course we'll be taking the Blinking Mirror/Viki shortcut rather than hiking back through Kalekka, because we're not morons.)
We're done with regular combat for this scenario, but there won't be a major recruitment drive before the next one; you pretty much get everyone in the Kirov/Kalekka area in one pass. So keep those votes coming in! For the record, Kimberly wasn't as completely terrible as I was expecting; I was figuring she'd be along the lines of, say, Sergei or Sansuke, when really she managed to pull her weight okay. Sheena was the big disappointment this time around, honestly, though I almost wish there was a boss so I could have at least showed off some cool Lightning Rune attacks. Master list hasn't moved.
Countdown to Quincy: 9 Stars of Destiny.
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