Thursday, September 7, 2023

Dragon Quest VI SFC, Part III - Glockenspiel

Not quite as breathtaking as the remake, but not too shabby either...

Took a while to get here, so it's great to finally make it. This totally opens up the gameplay from here on out.

Lots of tier 1 classes to choose from right off the bat. I went into detail on these already in the remake post. In that game I pretty much went for everything for everyone, while in this game I'll need to be a lot more selective. To start with I decide to focus on getting Battlemaster (Gladiator) for Hiko/Hassan and Sage for Muriel/Barbara. This keeps things pretty simple.

Starting them out as Soldier, Fighter, Priest, Mage respectively, which is basically just continuing their default roles. I'll switch the pairings around once they max the classes they're on (to Fighter/Soldier/Mage/Priest respectively). That said, I like Fighter-Mage a lot for Barbara, so I might switch her to Fighter instead of Priest, we'll see. When it comes down to it, Sage is really really good in this game and should be the focus. Hiko eventually has the Hero class to switch to. Fourth slot is a bit of a wild card, not sure if Hassan will go the distance in this run.

Class name differences in this version versus the remake, since I use the names interchangeably:

Fighter=Martial Artist
Beastmaster=Monster Master


"Keda!" say the Kedamon. Don't be deceived by their cute looks, they know how to bite and thrash.

I found the ocean to be a good spot to gain class points at this juncture, since the enemies there are about as strong as anything gets on the overworld right now. All things considered though I think I might just wait until that one tower to get my classes done, when I don't have to worry about level caps.

Ever since Barbara started staying at the local inn, the place just shakes uncontrollably every night.

I don't know what to tell you dude.

Next step is the Amos sidequest, since he's actually a worthwhile character.

This requires battling him late at night when he turns into a... purple dragon-werewolf? What even is that?

This fight is nowhere near as bad as Maou Mudo, but it shouldn't be taken lightly because it can surprise you real fast. Especially with newly class-changed characters. Barbara's HP is absolutely pathetic after changing her to Mage and her survivability is very low for the moment. The low levels aren't helping.

Well, all will fix itself once I get to that one tower. The tower of mega-grind.

What are these things anyway? Clowns with... Raphael sais?

I'm getting some class-ups...for now, but it dies off pretty quickly. Here, Hassan learns the technique of the Back-Leg-Front-Kick. If do right, no can defend.

Things take a turn for the dark when our heroes run into the menace that is...Dancing Carrots.

Muriel learns the all-important Healall spell. In the old DQ games it was the ultimate in healing technology. In these later DQ games it's actually more of a mid-tier heal, all things considered. Group heals are the real upper tier.

Defeat gives me flashbacks to the bad old days when you couldn't control your party members. Dragon Warrior IV on the NES and Cristo's constant Beat-ing. Well, I'd be Beat-ing constantly too if I had to be around Alena all the time while I'm friendzoned.

Next is that gorgeous mountain. We saw how nice this place looks in the remake. Well, this version has its own Late SNES Charm.

Yep, very pretty locale. Cool that the remake made sure to make this place gorgeous. That remake version of this mountain is probably designed to echo people's memories of the 16-bit version back in the day.

Here's the thing we need to cure Amos. All of this is technically a sidequest, and I referenced before that the most gorgeous area in the game is actually completely missable.

Just realized this guy looks a hell of a lot like an NES DQ Hero. Is he intended to be a kind of throwback character?

Amos is good, and a fighter-type character who I think is on par with the hero attack/defense wise. The main thing unique about him is that he can use Transform to become a monster during fights. This makes him uncontrollable but he has some good attacks to dish out. Personally I don't really use this though. There are better moves you can get from class-maxing, without losing control of the character.

He has to do some time as a Priest to get backup heals. Everyone has to spend time in this class to get backup heals. It's like how some countries have compulsory military service for a year or two in order to teach their young people a bunch of life lessons and the value of service and all that.

This NPC is really useful sometimes, like when I'm trying to balance out my characters so a few of them max classes at around the same time (to cut down on trips back here).

Muriel finishes her compulsory military service by becoming The Pope. This means she learns Vivify, THE WORST SPELL EVER.

There have been a bunch of times where it took, no exaggeration, 8-9 casts before it actually worked. I'd hate to be relying on this in an actual battle. At least I have any means at all to revive outside of a church now, but still. I feel like the spell got nerfed because as unreliable as it was in past games, I don't remember it ever being this bad.

Barbara becomes a stoned magician (I think I've met those on the subway) and learns Firevolt, AKA Firebane. Very nice spell, though always kind of held down by Explodet.

Not sure why she learned Bounce because she already had that down pat.

Next we arrive at Arcbolt Castle, the place where everyone has to fight. It's like Vince McMahon's paradise. The guy who once challenged Kofi Kingston to fight him in his office for some reason.

Not everyone can be a tough alpha hoss who likes to fight, and our heroes are probably more in the Tony Khan camp of just wanting some peace and quiet.

Maybe the problem is that you scared everyone off?

Thunder Knight Brast... is no Thunder God Cid, that's for sure. Guy is the strongest fighter in this kingdom and he's puny. Ya know, if they weren't making me fight this dude, Terry wouldn't be getting such a head start...

This whole thing is so weird, the way the king gives people coffins to drag around. BONUS: If you die trying to defeat the monster, you already have your own coffin!

Terry solos the monster and saves the kingdom. Not sure if this is supposed to be a Green Dragon ala DQ1 or if it's some sort of lizardman. Might even be a dinosaur for all I know.

Terry gets DQ2's mightiest sword and then just sort of leaves. Would have been awesome if he joined here so that I could get his classes done once I reach the Spiegelspire. But noooooo.

Next up is a town that has dried-up, where crops won't grow and the well is empty. Our defeat of Mudo hasn't really done anything for these people.

They're a pretty depressed lot, drinking to try to forget how miserable they are.

As the Morg said in Neverending Story, people without hope...are the easiest to control.

This makes them the perfect target for...

...something called the "Land of Happiness", a place where all your woes go away. In the evenings, a ship comes and takes people away to said land, and a lot of these depressed people are going along with it.

This one guy is questioning the narrative, and quickly finds himself being condemned by Fact Checkers and booted off of the town's social media.

Getting to the Land of Happiness requires waiting for nightfall. The game does this in a weird way. You basically have to talk to everyone in the town, then talk to certain people last, to trigger it. I ended up just wandering the place for a while until I finally tripped whatever the switch was. Could see some players getting stuck here and not knowing how to progress the game.

At night, a bunch of blue imps whisk our heroes off to the Land of Happiness, which is actually an EVIL TEMPLE.

Maou Jamiras is the new Big Bad, and he gets a hearty guffaw out of all of these depressed people looking for something halfway decent to pick up their spirits. So basically he's a total a-hole.

He may be the new Maou, but only because Mudo got ganked and they had an emergency job opening. He isn't actually any kind of big deal. Back when Mudo was in charge, this guy had a job as a carrier pigeon.

Sap doesn't work on him, which seems to be the case with most bosses in this game (talk about nerfed). The key is to spam Increase until it stops working, as seen here, and then just weather his AOEs because his physical attacks will be almost completely mitigated.

Jamiras didn't realize who he was dealing with, as he croaks.

Somewhere out there, the next Maou is moving up in the world. Some lucky carrier pigeon or stable boy or toilet-cleaner in the ranks of this army.

In our rush to take down Maou Mudo and Maou Jamiras, we have given rise to a much greater evil: Medal King.

He quickly sods off back to his castle where he collects medals and leaves everyone alone, so I'm not too worried.

A good question. This game is different from most in the series in that the first Big Bad isn't just a henchman or a red herring, he really is the Big Bad of this world. Following Big Bads are just other guys who stepped up and replaced him, until we run out of bads altogether.

We can see what's in the basement of the Land of Happiness transport ship now. It's a bunch of skeletons of people who rotted in jail... and some loot that I can't get. WHY

Next is my least-favorite part of this game, the horrendous chapter of Prince Holse. He continuously runs and hides, and his locations aren't set in stone. I would bet money that this chapter of the game is where the most people have gotten stuck and/or fallen off with the game entirely.

Here's the most annoying boss in the ENTIRE GAME. He just spams Confuse on the entire party over and over and has a zillion HP.

When Holse disappeared, I was usually just lucky enough to happen to check the right areas before I spent too much time running around. The worst part is if you're warping back to the Shrine of Dharma or something, he'll just poof. Where does he end up? Who knows? Could be somewhere in this cave, could be somewhere in the castle, could be somewhere in the nearby town.

Enough, time for me to go play a different translated SFC game. Shin Megami Tensei, let's GOOOOO

Well I did give this one a try, but let me just say, the proto-3D "move through a nondescript maze of flat color walls in four available directions" gameplay has not aged very well... I did try, at least.

Once the Holse chapter mercifully concludes, we get some neat fireworks. And...

...the 2nd key, which is significantly better than the Thief's Key (in this game, that one seems to do very little). Unfortunately it isn't good enough to unlock most of the actual doors I've seen so far. I need a Jail Key of some sort.

WHOA okay. Is that what Puff Puff is passing for these days? Puff Puff would be a way better name for it.

Next up is the second-most annoying dungeon in the entire game.

Yeah, this one, where one false move knocks you down to the beginning, and the ascent is a total maze.

I get to the top, chip at this rock, and get the hell out.

Got the low-altitude flying ship for this game, which's Spiegelspire time.

Here it's just called "Mage's Tower" but it's still the same dynamo of leveling up that it is in the remake. The best part is that unlike almost every other dungeon, it gets added to the Return location list. This tells me that the developers probably did intend for people to do a lot of level-building there and thus made it particularly accessible.

NOW I can get my classes on. Everyone pretty much had their first class maxed before I even got here, and now things will fly. Here's what my overall tentative plan for everyone was:

Hiko - Soldier>Fighter>Gladiator>Priest>Paladin>Hero
Hassan - Fighter>Priest>Paladin>Soldier>Gladiator
Muriel - Mage>Priest>Gadabout>Dancer>Luminary>Sage
Barbara - Mage>Priest>Soldier>Armamentalist>Sage
Cham - Mage>Priest>Soldier>Armamentalist>Sage
Amos - Priest>Soldier>Fighter>Gladiator>Paladin

Someone has to max Ranger so that I can access the postgame dungeon (which requires all classes maxed across the party). Was gonna leave that for Terry, but since he joins so late, I'd say whoever finishes up their classes first can get going on Ranger.

(Editor's Note: This turned out to not be the wisest move, as it seems Ranger has the steepest point requirement of any tier-2 class. Should have dedicated someone to it from the start, probably Amos.)

These fights are actually pretty tough at first. The second floor of the tower is a lot more manageable at low levels. The fact that it makes you work for your fights here is a good thing, because it only makes it more clear when your characters start reaching new levels of power and rolling over the previously-tough foes.

That's it for now, taking a bit of a break from DQVI before I run the last 40% or so of the game.

I'm not gonna say anything.

I'm not gonna say anything.

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