It's been awhile, but I'm back now and I'm going to try saving the town of Gant.
So, yeah. Rescuing the people of Gant. It seems they've been captured and taken to this Dark Dragon base. The good news is that there's better monsters on the way there. It's tough, partly because it involves a trip underwater and partly because I couldn't run from about half the fights I got into. Normally, that wouldn't be a problem, but of course, there's the previously mentioned fact that I'm a doofus who keeps forgetting to stock up on the items I'm going to need for upcoming big fights.
Anyway, after a few tough battles because I needed to conserve my HP, MP, and items for the boss fight we all know that's coming, I get to the base to the west of Gant. Because this is actually an enemy encampment, there are human enemies instead of the random monsters found outside. And because we're advancing along in the game, there are two types of human enemies. The random battles pretty much involve the same Dark Dragon forces we've seen all along. There are also a few encounter points where the heroes have to fight some upgraded versions of the earlier human enemies.
The encounter points can be avoided with some ease by having Ox punch the many breakable walls in this fort. The down side to having Ox on point, as I think I mentioned last time, is that the random encounter rate goes up. This can be a good thing, especially if you're the kind of player who likes to level grind in RPGs. Unfortunately, it's a bad thing for me at this point, for the reasons I've already mentioned. Which is also a bad thing because I really need the levels and money to get equipment and strength for the things to come, starting almost immediately after this base. This rather sorry state of affairs means I need to avoid as many battles as I can and run from as many of the rest as I can, which means I'm going to have to paraphrase Willow Smith and switch my party back and forth quite a lot to survive this part.
Once the party gets through this dungeon, there's a Dark Dragon commander who turns into a giant Toad, which, for as much as I wish were like the one in the Super Mario Brothers cartoon, is actually a stronger version of the Frog the hero fought alone in Camlon, at the very beginning of the game. I'd say I did very well in not getting any of my battle party killed in this battle. It certainly wasn't easy, seeing as how I was under-leveled, under-stocked in items, and very probably under-equipped as well. But I did it. I beat the boss in spite of that and the fact that he was on the party as soon as I entered the prison area of this dungeon. Upon rescuing the people of Gant, they tell you to go north and check out a castle, Nalon, I think the place is called, while they go back to Gant and build up the defenses.
In what I would consider a bizarre twist for an RPG, the game flat out tells you, twice, actually, that you're not going to be able to get to the place you need to go without help from a Dark Dragon spy who lives near Gant. The first time the game tells you this is by way of one of Ox's friends that just got rescued. The second time is from a druid guy that lives in a chocobo forest or something between the base and Nalon Castle. But you still have to go anyway to advance the plot some more. Which is a matter I'll save for next time.
The next issue may very well be just as delayed as this one was, but this time it will be because I need to do some level grinding and to figure out just what exactly I need to do to get this done.
But before I close out this issue, I should probably talk a little bit more about how the party dynamic works in this game now that there are more than four members in the party. And there are more than four members in the party now. You only get to fight with four, but all eight of the main characters, when you get them, will be in the party, in a technical sense. I've never been entirely sure how this thing works, to be honest. It seems that there are actually four rows to this battle system. There are the front and back rows for the fighting members and also front and back rows for the ones who aren't in the fight. Another interesting dynamic here is that you can switch out party members during a fight, taking members from the back four and putting them in the front four if they'd make a fight easier. I like the idea and I don't recall having seen anything like it in any of the other RPGs I've played.
As far as the XP goes, I'm not entirely sure how that works out. I think all the party members get the XP equally after a battle. Don't quote me on that, though. I may be wrong, though. It may be that the characters who actually beat the monsters get the full XP from the fight and the ones in the back only get half.
At any rate, character management starts getting increasingly confusing and difficult now that there are more than just the four fighting characters in the party, and since any of the eight can be put in at virtually any moment a player chooses, it's important to make sure that all the characters you use regularly are kept up with their levels and equipment. While this is certainly doable, it's not easy, and it really adds to the challenge of the game, which makes it fun but frustrating.
I'm really beginning to wonder if it was a good idea for me to choose this game to start out my Text Play series with. It's certainly a fun game, and one I haven't seen done often by Let's Players out there. Unfortunately, it will also more than likely prove why this Farscape clip sums up my playing style when it comes to RPGs.
But anyway, I'd better wrap this up before I get into some seriously pointless rambling. I'll see you back here next week, hopefully, or the week after with Issue Twelve: Castle Number Nine. No matter how this works out, though, I have a feeling I'm going to need heavy, heavy fuel of some sort to make everything I've got going on work out even close to the way I want it to.