Thursday, April 2, 2020

Seiken Densetsu 3, Part 4 - Chaos Of An Unseen Realm

Our next goal: Find all of the Mana Stones, which should open the way to the place formerly known as Pure Land (can't say Holy in early 90's Nintendo games).

Faerie is the first spirit you get. It doesn't have any spells or an element, and the only purpose it really serves is to bounce you over this one pit.

That leads to the first boss fight of the game...

...Full Metal Hugger. ::Bayley's theme plays::

Actually, there's a cool story about this boss. When the dev's were making Secret of Mana, they couldn't really program large bosses due to cart memory limitations. So bosses that should have been huge, like the Gigas-es, ended up being sorta miniature versions of what was intended. In both Seiken Densetsu 3 and Chrono Trigger they'd gotten over size limitations, so you could have huge bosses like Giga Gaia and Lavos. In this game the devs made the very first boss freaking humongous, in essence declaring superiority over the memory constraints that kept them from doing this kind of thing before.

Here's the fight, as is tradition. It's a pretty standard 16-bit era first boss, not tough but not particularly easy either unless your levels are decent. The first of several boss themes plays here. Unlike most games of the era, there are no fewer than three normal boss themes in this game.

And here's the fight in the upcoming current-gen remake. It's...a little easier when you can dodge. In the original you have to face-tank hits.

Winning that fight gets me the first elemental spirit with actual magic, Lumina. Probably my favorite elemental from the previous game so it's cool to see it be the first one in this game. 

Unfortunately, you don't get spells right away in this game. Once you get an elemental, you won't start learning spells from it until you level up. It's one spell per level, too, so it takes a few level ups to get whatever is available. And that's only if your stats meet the requirements for the spell...if not it could take a few levels.

Wait, what? It seems I accidentally let the beast-men through. They knock our heroes into a pit and leave. Said heroes black out, and have dreams of...

"Hey!" "Hey!" "Listen!" "Hey!" say a pack of faeries buzzing around the Mana Tree.

...they wake up in a jail cell. Why is there a gold statue in the jail? If the prisoners revolt and stage a riot, they could hold up in this room and fight off guards indefinitely as long as they have that statue to retreat to.

Here's our third character, and Charlotte's second henchman/bodyguard.

Duran fools the guards into opening the gate, and we make our escape. Because of the statue, this is an ideal spot to gain some levels (especially since your third character starts at level 4 and your initial characters could easily be upwards of 7 to 9 already).

After the next level, Charlotte gets Heal Light which is probably the most important spell in the game. It largely eliminates the need to stock tons of healing items. It's single-target now, but she gains the ability to multi-target it with some of her later classes (the heal-centric ones) which makes her the best healer in the game when it happens.

Once I get done grinding a few levels for Duran, it's time to start heading for the next elemental. Here, Charlotte lays down the law.

We get a quick third character recap.

Next up we take the Golden Road to a town that sounds like a beer. It used to be called Byzel in earlier translations of the game.

The Golden Road is a fairly plain area that gets a LOT of use in the early parts of this game, since it connects all of the important areas (sorta like the fields between Potos and Pandora). Since you automatically slow down and go into fighting stance in this game, you can't just zip past lowbie enemies like you could in the previous game.

Altena Mages! They all look the same, weirdly enough. It's like a "Sexy Vivi" costume.

They sic these two tiny Kilroys on our heroes. This fight is a miniboss at best, but it's tougher than any of the early bosses in my view. These robots just completely rip through your characters if your levels aren't high enough. Sometimes you get lucky and one of them glitches out by getting stuck, as seen here, which allows you to fight one at a time. For such a forgettable fight, it's one of the game's more difficult spots.

After the mages blow up the bridge, we have to find another way around. Here's noted Cannon Travel tycoon, Von Boyage. It's like when Everquest had a time travelling character named Tavid Dennant. In any case, he's gonna help us get to the next area, if we get the parts he needs to finish his new cannon design.

His sister is over here basically trash-talking and belittling him for whatever reason. He's just a REGULAR inventor. Is that you, Primm?

At this point I had to consult a guide. Actually, every time I play this game I get lost somewhere around this point. You have access to a bunch of areas, with the big confusing Golden Road between them.

The next goal is the Dwarf Town, which is underground as is tradition. If dwarves like two things in this world, it's Work and also Tunneling. Lali-ho!

Some pretty sizable weapon upgrades to be had here.

The dwarves tell tales of Gnome. He's the next elemental to get, and he's nearby.

After blowing up a tunnel for our heroes that knocks them out in the process, this dwarf goes "lol" and leaves. What is this weird Riesz syndrome in this game where characters just sod off?

Here's Watts, who has the chemical we need for Von Boyage's cannon. And just like that, this post has been flagged by Homeland.

Watts totally fleeces our heroes, as if they weren't already burned enough from that other dwarf. It's really important to note that this guy can be talked down from his initial price (of like 9000 or some nonsense), but you don't want to talk him down too much because he might refuse to sell it if you press the issue. 3000 is a good point to take his offer.

Gnome Dungeon follows. It's a somewhat confusing cave, with a lot of SoM enemies. I prefer the Underground Palace, if only for the music.

Is that a boss door? It kinda looks like it might be. We don't know, though. This game really needs fog doors like Dark Souls, because the bosses are often right off of nondescript hallways without clear warnings that you're walking into a boss fight.

And...yep, it is. Here's Jewel Eater, who attacks with Gem Missile (which has gotten quite a visual upgrade). This is a significantly longer boss fight than the first one.

Here's the fight, which isn't much to write home about. At least the boss doesn't move around much. The fact that he AOEs the party can make it a bit difficult without heals. Pay no attention to how I wasted Charlotte's last bit of MP healing the one character that didn't need it.

Here's Gnome. He's hovering over Duran, which makes Duran look like some sort of Super-Gnome.

I misread that as "the alcoholic inventor" for a second. I don't know why people can't show some respect to this guy.

I give him the WCW Nitromyte and he uses it to... our heroes very unsafely to the next area. Could we fire some cannonballs at Altena while we're at it?

After a trek through Molebear Highlands (which are full of those Pebbler enemies from SoM) we arrive at another place that's under attack from Altena and its army of Sexy Vivis.

Angela's Mom isn't herself, to say the least. She's gone full Queen Zeal, after power and nothing else.

Our next stop is the Black Market. This is the most important shop in the entire game. It's only open at night, and it's a bit seedy.

This is where you buy Poto Oils, which heal the entire group for about as much as a Chocolate would heal one person. If you don't have Charlotte, these things are crucial for getting through the game. I'd go so far as to buy 99 of them while you're here, which runs 3000 GP. Hopefully most players have that left after being fleeced by Watts.

After that, you can also get items here that cast elemental sabers and elemental attack spells. Given how long it takes to get those for real, it doesn't hurt to get some of these items. Just need to know which ones are actually going to be useful. The next boss is a fairly tough Wind-element foe, so I usually get a couple of Earth Saber items and nine Earth Coins to cast the attack spell for that element.

The Black Market is also home to the Aurora Sisters, who dance. Dios mio. Shake it, senoritas!

After a boat ride, we find ourselves back on Hawkeye's part of the world. Everyone here is in a trance, including Neko. NOT NEKO TOO!

Next, we get drugged by somnosa flowers while walking through a field. This leads to our heroes being apprehended by...

...the Resistance, led by Riesz. They're lurking in this cave for the time being, since Hawkeye's former compatriots have invaded their castle.

This is a bit of a run-around, as you need the Midge Mallet to proceed and that requires going all the way back to the Black Market. You can't just get it while you're there the first time either, as it only appears once you come all the way over here.

Later, Riesz. See you in Trials of Mana in a few weeks.

Luckily, the sexy elf people have a cannon too. BWAST OFF.

Back over the ocean. This really does feel like the game is just killing time.

Got the Midge Mallet. With this we can shrink down and get to the village of...

...the tiny pixie-folk. They make dwarves look like The Big Show.

Yep, picking Charlotte was the right move.

After another irritating time-wasting section where you go around the village talking to NPCs (some of which are hidden) until the guy you're looking for reveals himself, we find out that our next destination is Gusthall, lair of the Wind Stone. Now that we've got most of the early-game tedium out of the way, it's time for the first really challenging dungeon of the game.

Gusthall is full of switches that control the air currents and allow you to move through the dungeon. Some rooms are confusing puzzles.

Most notably, there's one room that can loop you around so you end up going in a huge circle, and it's this room. The key is to move south so that you're at the point where I am in this screenshot. Then you can just walk left through the wall to get to the southern part of the room and actually continue.

After that confusing maze, we find the Wind Stone. It's noteworthy that there's a gold save statue off of the same hallway as this room. However, the game doesn't give you any clue of which way is which, so a new player has a 50% chance of finding the heal/save room and a 50% chance of running into a boss fight without warning. More, actually, since the boss door is the first one you pass.

The boss in question is Tzenker, the wind elemental boss. She's much stronger than the previous two bosses, which is why I brought Earth Saber items and a bunch of Earth Coins. Wonder how sexy this boss will be in the upcoming remake, where every female character is smooth and silky.

Here's the fight, where I went full Secret of Mana throwing item-spells at her with Charlotte. Absolutely spammed Earth Coins. The key to victory in this game really comes down to stocking up on the right supplies from the Black Market.

Third elemental acquired. Now we've got Lumina, Gnome, and Sylphid...and like no spells from any of them, except Healing Light. It'll get better once we get our first class changes done and can actually learn some spells/abilities.

...and speaking of which, this is the earliest you can do it, since you need a Mana Stone. However, you need to be level 18, which is like 6-10 levels higher than most players will be at this point. So you can either come back later (which is likely intended) or do TONS OF GRINDING.

I opt for the latter because I want to get this class change done before I do anything else. Besides, a bunch of extra levels will put me ahead of the curve for the rest of the game and speed things up. Level-grinding here before fighting the boss is a lot more tedious since you have to backtrack through the maze room to spawn enemies. Once Tzenker is out of the way, you can go back and forth from her room to the save room and continuously respawn enemies in-between. Also the boss gives a nice chunk of EXP.

The one thing to watch out for are these very Chrono Trigger looking knights who sometimes do this Cyclone tech that hits the entire party for big damage. I actually wiped out once or twice to this at lower levels.

It takes several hours to get to level 18 here, and it's quite tedious. Good thing to do while watching a show. Just remember that it'll speed up the rest of the game.

Taking a moment to enjoy the scenery before I get back to the ENDLESS GRIND.

Finally, I get level 18. This unlocks a bunch of choices for everyone. Hawkeye can choose between Ranger (light) and Ninja (dark) which both inform his later classes as well. The Ranger path gives him buffs and more defensive abilities, while the Ninja path gives him a lot of offensive abilities. I went with...


...Ninja. Ultimately I want his third class to be Ninja Master. Those guys were badasses in Secret of Mana and they are here too. It's probably his highest-DPS class, and with Charlotte as my MC healing everybody, my goal with Hawkeye and Duran is for them to just maul our foes.

I've mentioned how Charlotte's two paths are healer and pet-caster, and this is where those differences begin. I, of course, went with...

...Priestess, which will get her group-heal spells sooner than later. After that I'll be set for the rest of the game. Notice the subtle color changes when you switch classes.

I'm not as set on what Charlotte's third class will be. She's got a couple of very good choices with Sage and Bishop. First of all, Sage gets Saint Beam (formerly Lucent Beam) which is a pretty sick spell that hits the weakness of a lot of late-game bosses. Sage also gets multi-target sabers, which would save me a lot of time cycling sabers around. ...except I only have two attackers, so not that much time. Bishop on the other hand is the best healer in the game, with high Spirit. It also gets Turn Undead, a super-damaging spell that only works on undead. Not quite as good as Saint Beam but it might be potent against a lot of the same foes. I'm leaning Bishop right now.

Duran is the last one to get level 18, due to his lower level when he joined the group. It took an extra 15-20 minutes of grinding to get him caught up to the others. His two choices are, again, between defensive and offensive paths. Knight puts him on course to learn single-target heals, which can be super useful, as well as high-defense third classes like Lord. Another benefit is that Knight and its evolutions can equip shields, while Gladiator can't. This made for the toughest choice I had out of these three characters.

Ultimately I decided on Gladiator. This class may not be able to use shields, and might be weaker defensively, but it can learn saber magic and it hits harder. Also, the third classes that branch off of Gladiator are both very very good. Duelist might be the highest-DPS-against-one-target class in the game outside of some of Kevin's classes, while Sword Master is very solid DPS while also being well-rounded and having access to some useful spells. I'm leaning Sword Master at the moment but I'm less set on that than I am on Ninja Master and Bishop for the other two.

Second classes, with weird new character portraits. "Look at my butt!" says Duran.

After that insane grind, I'm ready to plow the rest of the game. Hold onto your hats.


  1. Yeah, it's interesting how the game has multiple boss themes without a particular pattern.


    Wait, what happens if he refuses to sell it?

    That wind cave was always rough, really looking forward to that being a lot easier to navigate in the remake.

    1. We know all of these games share DNA, but what I'm discovering now is that SD3 actually had SaGa Frontier DNA too. There's the multiple character choice, but also the way the areas are linked together (a lot of distant locales that you can't walk between, instead taking warps, which creates a world that feels a little disconnected). There being a bunch of boss themes that don't follow a pattern is also very SaGa Frontier. That was the first game I ever played that had a bunch of boss themes without a real rhyme to it. Earthbound too I guess but it doesn't have boss themes, just...themes.

      If you don't get the Nitromyte from Watts, because you haggled the price down too much, I think he tells you to sod off and leaves. Then you have to find him somewhere else to get another shot at it (like a completely different town). I don't remember exactly if that's the case, but whatever happens, it happened to me the very first time I played. I remembered it being a chore. So now I stop at 3000 with the haggling to be safe. You MIGHT be able to get him down to 1500 but I don't remember and don't want to risk it.