Anime Was A Mistake: Let's Dunk On Ni no Kuni 2

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#1

You’ve probably heard of the first Ni no Kuni, even if you haven’t played it. It was a really ambitious crossover between Level 5 (who up until this point had pretty much only the Professor Layton series to their name) and Studio Ghibli. Hayao Miyazaki himself oversaw development of Ni no Kuni, and despite the gameplay being mediocre, everything else was actually pretty good.

Flash forward to 2018. Level 5 decides to make a sequel - only this time, instead of hiring Studio Ghibli again, they hire some ex-Ghibli employees… and the difference in quality absolutely shows. Ni no Kuni 2 is absolutely not a good game - it starts out with a ton of potential and then immediately squanders it with a generic isekai anime plot that forgets that it’s even an isekai anime about five minutes in. The characters are almost entirely Mary Sues (or very, very close) and the plot makes absolutely no sense if you ever stop and think about it.

I was mostly interested in this game for two reasons - first that I was bored out of my skull and needed something to play while not working on my other LP (which I swear I will get back to someday I just got really burned out on it). The second is that I share a name with the main character and had never actually seen that before apart from a brief segment in Hotline Miami 2 that was still probably better than this game. It actually makes a couple of scenes in this game really weird for me.

Along the way, we’ll run into a bunch of blatant expies from actual Ghibli works, murder thousands of the same enemy, wish to god that the plot actually does something, and then probably call it quits when we realize this is basically the answer to the question of “What if MMOs were single-player?”

Updates to this will be kept rather short due to this site’s tendency to delete images if they’re left un-posted for more than a few hours… but this will also allow me to update more frequently than I used to (hopefully).

Updates:

Update 1: Drakengard, Only In Reverse

Update 2: President with a Gat

Update 3: The Real Demon’s Souls Starts Here

Update 4: From The Crumbling Bridge, No One Escapes

Update 5: Taurs Are The Worst Furry OCs

Update 6: A King I Am (Not)

Update 7: Cloudcoil Canyon

Update 8: Jumping the Shark

Update 9: Never do Bossfights on Extreme

Update 10: Boy Sampson

Update 11: The Plot Climbs Mount Dumbass

Update 12: Pointless Side Mechanics

Update 13: What Natural Resources?

Update 14: Niall

Update 15: Stupidity In Action

Update 16: Boy Sampson Strikes Again

Update 17: A Trash Mini-Boss

Update 18: Primal Judgment


#2

Update 1: Drakengard, Only In Reverse

Man, those sure are some nice intro slides. It’s a shame that none of this stuff is ever seen in the actual game, or has anything to do with anything. I’m not even kidding.

What’s this? A Not-American flag? The first game took place in “Motown”, which was basically Not-Detroit set in the 1950s. This is basically an anime version of the seal of the President of the United States… so this must take place somewhere else in Not-America.

Clearly we’re not in the 1950s anymore. Welcome to Not-New-York.

Meet the President of Not-America, who looks like he has been forever rejected from a career as a professor in a Pokemon spinoff.

Oh, crap. Well, given where we are, it’s only a matter of seconds before the President’s two favorite hedgehogs grind the bridge rails and send the obviously nuclear-tipped missile into space.

Uh, All Hail Shadow?

Drakengard! Ni no Kuni 2!

Somehow, the President is still alive despite being within what is probably a few miles away from the epicenter of a nuclear explosion large enough to wipe New York off the map. Unfortunately, as we’ll see in a minute, this isn’t your standard nuclear missile.

No, this is the dreaded Japanese Isekai Nuke. Isekai, in case you’re not aware, is a genre of anime where a protagonist (usually from modern-day Earth) gets sent into a magical realm of some sort and has to deal with the consequences. Around the time this game was in development, the isekai genre was massively popular, but was totally over-used and is now largely relegated to the same trashbin as Lucky Star and all those military shows where the entire cast is high school girls.

You know, I pity all the people who probably wound up getting sent to Sword Art Online.

Meanwhile, in a magical isekai realm…

Is that Manah? You little shit! Where’s Caim when you need him?

A muffled explosion fills the room, and… wait, Manah doesn’t have cat ears. I swear to god though if this kid starts talking about the Watchers…

The cat-child wisely attempts to vacate the room before the impending isekai plot behind them can take over.

Whoops, too late! Now you’re stuck in an isekai plot!

So I will give this game exactly one thing: this intro actually does work pretty well and the graphics are in fact pretty good. That’s two things. Whatever.

Man, this kid’s got some guts. Also, you’re totally forgiven if you assumed Evan was a girl - his VA is a woman and until he calls himself a king I honestly assumed he might be as well the first time I played this.

If you’re not aware, Ding Dong Dell was a location in the fantasy world in Ni no Kuni 1, ruled by a morbidly obese cat furry. It is, in fact, the only location that I’m aware of that the two games have in common.

Honestly, from a lot of angles, Evan really does look like a girl.

Like Caim with Manah, the President does not give a single fuck about Evan’s bullshit. Kid, if you were going to shank him, you had an ample opportunity.

Also, the President is now like thirty years younger and has a ponytail.

Evan manages to be about as threatening as a kitten… which is actually pretty much what he is when you think about it. I want to say that he’s around 10 years old, though I don’t think his actual age is ever stated.

The President, who we now know to be Roland Crane (even though we won’t learn his last name for another 40 hours), realizes this and just pushes right past him. Note that he still hasn’t shown an iota of concern for the fact that he was just caught in a nuclear explosion, or that he saw Not-New-York get fucking destroyed. I’m pretty sure his name is supposed to be a reference to the Stephen King series The Gunslinger, which was also an isekai story about a guy named Roland.

He checks his phone, which is about as much concern as he shows for the people of Not-New-York who are either in an equally horrible isekai realm or dead. We’ll quickly learn that Roland Crane is pretty much the worst president ever.

Roland: “I was… I was on my way to the summit…”

Roland: “So this… this has to be a dream…”

Roland: “That, or I’m…”

I’m not kidding when I say that this is the last time Roland will ever think about the fact that he was in a nuclear blast, or that thousands of people are dead. It will never be brought up again. I’m not even kidding. I wish I was.

Oh right, the angry kitten.

Assuming you’re the king of this mess, they probably left knowing their king is a ten year old boy.

I’d just like to point out that Roland’s idea of “play” is having a kid rush him with a knife. Just think about that for a minute.

Oh, I should mention that none of the dialogue past where Roland left Evan’s bedroom is voiced. The game has a couple of voice clips it uses for each character (the only one they use for Evan is him saying “Excuse me!” in a snobby British accent) but other than that is only voiced during certain cutscenes.

Roland: “Heh, sure you are. Can I ask you something?”

No, but we all kind of wish you were.

Evan: “What?!”

Suddenly, another explosion hits, this one close enough to knock Evan around.

Roland: “All right, forget about where you are for now. Let’s just suppose for a second that what the kid said was true…”

Roland: “So you’re the king around here, huh?”

Evan: “Yes! How many times do I have to tell you?”

Roland: “All right, Your Majesty. I’m going to go and take a look around. Can you be a good boy and wait here for me?”

That’s it for this update. Next time, we’ll see just how popular Evan is with his subjects, and get a pretty good idea of why sticking a ten year old on the throne is a bad thing. He’s no Elodie, that’s for sure.


#3

We are now formally in control of Roland. The game will always have the current objective underneath the minimap on the right side - which is entirely an MMO thing. Later, we can track sidequests this way as well.

At the bottom of the stairs is an open pair of doors… and another cutscene.

Evan, being the idiot that he is, immediately charges past Roland into the Jin-Roh wannabe mouse furries who are clearly here to protect him.

The mice, realizing that the boy they’ve been sent to murder has just walked up to them and turned his back, look at each other with murderous anticipation. Evan would not last a minute in Lordran, that’s for sure.

Evan takes critical backstab damage and dies, leaving behind a small pool of souls. The mice gain a humanity and are free to go about their day…

… except that Roland pulls a gun and caps the guard before he can finish the swing. I read a paper once on how medieval armor would stand up to modern firearms - the answer was that full plate might deflect a couple of low-caliber handgun bullets but other than that would be worse than useless. Considering the guard is wearing only a coat, I’d say he’s super fucking dead.

Roland Crane, certified as the third most competent American political figure in a combat situation behind the president from Metal Wolf Chaos and Senator Armstrong.

Have I mentioned Roland is also fully versed in the way of hanzo steel? He is.

Welcome to the combat tutorial. The game makes a lot bigger deal of it than it actually is, so I’ll explain it real quick.

Unlike the first game, combat in Ni no Kuni 2 is entirely real-time. Each character has their own melee weapon type and their own ranged weapon type. Right now, we can only use Roland’s melee of choice: swords. All weapons have a “fast attack” and a “heavy attack” - the heavy attack is almost never worth using except in very specific situations.

That’s all we’ll see for right now - the game is pretty slow about easing you into the other mechanics.

Meanwhile, Evan cowers behind a planter.

Roland: “Open your eyes. Nobody’s coming. Nobody good, at any rate. It looks to me like we both need to get out of here.”

Evan: “Wh-what are you talking about?”

Evan proceeds to look confused while more mice prepare to burst into the room.

Meanwhile, in the throne room…

So yeah, this guy is just kind of cartoonishly evil - which isn’t totally out of place in a game like this, I suppose.

Well, I guess we have our final boss and his dragon. Next time, we’ll go through the game’s only stealth segment and begin the first dungeon in earnest.


#4

Update 3: The Real Demon’s Souls Starts Here

Down in the basement, Roland and Evan find out what all those explosions were earlier.

Well, that explains where anyone who would oppose the mice went.

Evan: “Ding Dong Dell has been at peace for generations…”

Roland: “I’m sure it has, but still waters run deep.”

Evan: “Hm?”

Roland: “I should know. I run a country myself.”

So one thing I’ll never really understand about this game is that Evan has exactly zero questions about where Roland came from. In fact, I don’t think he even finds out about Roland until… I want to say about an hour before the end of the game and even then he doesn’t really care.

We now have our second objective leading to the first dungeon of the game.

Along the way, there are a few fights against the same mouse guards we killed earlier.

They’re pretty easy to kill, not much to see here. Most of the combat in Ni no Kuni 2 is fairly easy - apart from a couple of places.

Now we enter the first (and strangely, only) stealth section of Ni no Kuni 2.

This turns out to be a pretty much bog-standard red light/green light scenario.

We run into another battle here, but what’s this?

Blocking in Ni no Kuni 2 is a losing proposition for everyone involved. You still take damage, and become virtually unable to move. Anyway, one fight against generic mouse guards later…

Meet the Mouse Sorceress. The developers had the art team make a model that is only used here and I really don’t know why.

The sorceress wastes no time launching fireballs at Evan, who is completely oblivious. Roland does the usual diving tackle save and fires a couple of shots from his pistol, only to find…

The sorceress has an Anti-45 Caliber Shield. Too bad Roland isn’t packing a Five-Seven or a Deagle ™ ® Brand Deagle.

She then proceeds to summon skeletons…

And prepare fireballs to launch from behind her newly-summoned meat wall.

Meanwhile, the guards catch up. Roland is now out of bullets.

See? At least someone knows how Dark Souls works. The mysterious green-haired woman introduces her bandit knife to the sorceress’s back.

Meet Aranella, Evan’s bodyguard.

This fight introduces the Skeleplasm, a common enemy we’ll be seeing probably too much of. They’re usually pretty resistant to physical damage… though not always. This fight teaches us the evasion roll, which is the preferred way of avoiding damage. Rolling provides a very generous amount of invincibility frames and can be spammed to avoid most attacks that don’t have a colossal AOE.

Here, Roland levels up mid-battle, which is very much a thing in this game. Levelling up fully restores HP and MP… which we don’t have access to yet.

Aranella: “But today of all days… how could they?”

Aranella: “Who exactly are you, and how did you get into the castle undetected?”

Roland: “I’m Roland, and I’m as curious about how I got here as you are.”

Evan: “Roland saved my life!”

Roland: “Finally beginning to see reason, huh?”

Aranella: “Very well. If His Majesty counts you as an ally, then so do I. Forgive my suspicion. I was merely doing my duty. My name is Aranella, and I have served as Evan’s governess since his birth.”

Roland: “You’re not just a governess, though. You’re a bodyguard.”

Aranella: “I suppose you could say that, yes - but I’ve never had to prove it until today.”

Evan: “What’s going on, Nella?”

As you can tell, Evan is dangerously genre-unsavvy. I mean seriously kid, did you need him to be called the Grand Vizier?

Roland: “It won’t work. This was no spur of the moment uprising. This was planned. If he says he wants you dead, he means it.”

Roland: “Aranella, do you know of a safe way out of here?”

Thankfully, said passage is right behind this door.

Next update, we’ll start the first dungeon in earnest.


#5

Update 4: From The Crumbling Bridge, No One Escapes

Before we get to the dungeon itself, we still have one more tutorial thing the game makes us do.

Here, we get our first healing item. Soreaway is the lowest-level healing item in the game - though unlike a good RPG where you can carry around and use a massive stack of them in battle, we’re limited to using 5 per battle (though we can carry up to 99). Typically, we won’t need healing items except on certain bosses, as there are a bunch of ways to regenerate HP during and after combat that don’t rely on healing items.

Uh-oh… looks like Nemesis found us.

So yeah, he’s basically Nemesis. I’m sure we’ll never see him again until the end of the game when we hit him with a magnum several times in the head.

Roland gets one of the mouse guard coats, which will be his standard outfit for the rest of the game.

We also get the Arms Band, which is what really opens up combat. With the Arms Band, each character can equip three weapons rather than one. We also get access to zing. What’s that, you ask?

Each weapon a character has equipped comes with a “zing gauge” that charges up when you hit something with a light or heavy attack. At 100%, you can use your zing to power up a skill, which usually causes it to do slightly more damage and (usually) guarantees a knockdown on an enemy. This can be really useful against certain bosses later on. Zing charges regardless of which weapon you’re using - every weapon a character has equipped will charge whenever you hit something (though some weapons charge faster).

Aranella teaches Roland how to equip stuff to his band… and then asks him about his ranged weapon. This was one of the few moments where this game actually surprised me. You would think this would be a thing like Star Ocean where the protagonist starts with a laser pistol but it breaks ten minutes in.

For a moment, I was overcome with joy at the thought that Roland could just cap motherfuckers in the face - unfortunately, ranged weapons in NNK2 suck for a whole host of reasons.

This is Roland’s current equipment screen. I won’t be showing this a lot. His pistol is the one weapon that is not allowed to be sold… even though as we’ll see later, the residents of this magical isekai kingdom already have firearms as a thing.

You can’t see it very well, but NNK2 uses the same save system as Final Fantasy - you have save points in interior areas but can save anywhere outside. Save points also fully restore HP.

Outside, the Black Knight has vanished.

This room is actually a double circuit, with an outer ring we could use to avoid all the guards. However…

Aranella is a fucking BEAST in combat and Roland is nearly at level 3. Plus, these mouse guards die really quickly.

Once we have more official party members, the AI will take control of anyone we’re not actively using. The AI is fairly good at managing things, enough that you usually don’t need to worry about micromanaging.

Midway through the fight, Roland hits level 3. Levelling in combat will fully restore HP and MP.

I also wanted to show this off quickly. When your zing is full, your weapon glows red.

Aranella finds a secret passage behind a completely inconspicuous bookcase, and on we go!

Or we’ll get another cutscene.

“Grimalkin” is the term NNK2 uses for cat-people, like Persha in the first screenshot of this update. Evan is half-grimalkin… and also the only half-human we see at all.

Evan is a dipshit.

So yeah, Evan is a dipshit.

With that, we enter our first dungeon - Ding Dong Well.

As soon as we walk in, Aranella casts a “potential unlocking spell” (Super Kami Guru, anyone?) on Roland, unlocking his first special attack, Flatliner.

Flatliner is a large, sweeping horizontal attack that hits a wide area in front of Roland for decent damage. At maximum zing, Roland follows up with a vertical slice that effectively doubles Flatliner’s damage on enemies in a line directly in front of him.

There’s also a few chests lying around. Chests in this game are… mostly pointless. Enemies drop a ton of gear, and the game has a sort of MMO quality system for drops where some have different-colored names (and thus higher stats). This broadsword was actually worse than the Ratslicer we started the game with.

We also get introduced to a new enemy type - Goos. Goo enemies typically have a large area of effect on attacks and are also capable of ranged combat. In most cases, they’re elementally aligned and can harden themselves to stop physical damage until you use magic to knock them out of it.

I mentioned earlier that ranged attacks suck, and here’s why. Ranged attacks cost MP, and do jack shit for damage. Right now, Roland hits for somewhere between 30 and 50 damage with his sword, but only 10 with his pistol.

Eventually, we wind up here… at a destroyed bridge.

And oh look, it’s the old villainous monologue right on schedule.

Oh boy, he’s got a battle aura now. That’s never good.

Man, the Black Knight really sucks at his job. A proper villain would’ve run forward and skewered Evan during that dialogue. Where’s Luca Blight when you need him?

Roland, being thoroughly fed up with this shit, grabs Evan and jumps off the bridge.

So, I’d like to talk for a second here about character death. Yes, I know the update is already getting long as-is, but I’d really like to just talk about what we’re seeing here. Usually, when a character shows this much emotion when someone else dies, it’s because we (the audience) are invested in that character. At this point in the game, counting the time it took me to run through the dungeon, Aranella was on screen for all of maybe twenty minutes.

Here, we see Evan after a tragic accident trying do to that “nya!” catgirl pose and getting tendonitis.

Unfortunately, this is not Roland pile-driving Evan into the ground.

Roland: “Calm down. If we go back there, we’ll be captured for sure - and she’ll have given her life for nothing.”

Roland: “I… I think we have to assume that. Come on, we need to keep moving.”

Next update, we’ll fight a Deviantart furry OC and watch Evan cry some more. That Evan, not me. I’m not crying. You can’t prove it.


#6

Update 5: Taurs Are The Worst Furry OCs

Moving on, I eventually picked up a third weapon and equipped it. Roland also levelled up to 4.

Just like literally any post-WoW RPG with random drops, equipment drops are color-coded. White is the most common and also the weakest, followed by blue, followed by red. There might be a purple in there somewhere, I forget. Just know that red drops (like this sword we just found) are generally a cut above everything else.

By the way, elemental weapons actually look different and I really appreciate that. Typically, they’re not something you want to be using as your main weapon, mostly because they convert all of your damage to elemental… meaning enemies can be outright immune to your physical attacks. Fortunately, there’s nothing in this dungeon that resists fire.

Well, crap.

Every boss gets an alliterative intro card similar to Ocarina of Time.

The Black Knight is level 8, compared to Roland’s 4. You can see that his name is in orange - enemies are also color-coded by difficulty based on their level compared to yours. Most of the time, taking on stuff five to eight levels above the party’s isn’t too bad. This fight is mostly about staying behind the Black Knight (who is very slow to move) and hitting him repeatedly.

You can see that I’m not even taking damage and he’s already at half health. Good thing this isn’t FF14 (even though that is absolutely what this game is) because this is about the point where a catchy vocal-heavy theme song would start playing before the boss actually gets serious.

Well, shit. Unfortunately, we don’t get a theme song.

There is no way this isn’t someone’s furry OC.

Welcome to Phase 2. In this phase, the Black Knight has significantly larger hitboxes… at the cost of being much easier to flank than he was before.

The good news is that all of his attacks continue to be forward-facing, so we can just slip right in and mash the attack button until he dies. Fortunately, we only need to get his health about halfway down before…

Yeah, this is DEFINITELY someone’s furry OC.

Roland, having clear experience with bosses that spam line AOEs, dodges effortlessly.

Evan, however, is busy standing in one spot and not moving. Come on, kid, you had like a full five seconds to dodge that!

Unfortunately, Aranella appears mere seconds before Evan can be incinerated and… yeah, this kinda makes no sense. Evan weighs all of like, maybe fifty pounds wet. She could probably just have picked him up and run.

Continuing the theme of making Evan’s life hell, Aranella dies in front of him… for the second time in 5 minutes. Unfortunately, these are Cutscene Flames ™ which are instantly lethal instead of doing maybe 30 damage and some knockback.

Roland quickly reaches for the gun he completely forgot he had…

And just straight-up caps that motherfucker in the face. Roland does not fuck around. I also made a (low-FPS because my internet connection sucks) video of the fight:

Yep, he’s super fucking dead. Naturally from falling and not from being shot in the face multiple times from a 45-caliber handgun.

Like I said, Roland does not fuck around. Unfortunately, this is one of the few remaining times we’ll see him shoot someone in a cutscene.

So anyway, it’s here that I’m going to advance my “Evan is Dead” theory where Evan actually got incinerated and the rest of the game is his final thoughts before dying. We’ve just crossed the line right into where the game becomes aggressively mediocre.

As good as the models (at least some of them) in this game look, they were clearly not meant to be viewed from certain angles. You can sort of see how Aranella’s eyes aren’t lined up correctly.

The rest of the line is “a total dipshit”. That’s absolutely canon.

So okay, what I want you to keep in mind here is that Evan is reduced to a sobbing heap and clearly traumatized from watching some NPC we’ve known for maybe 10 minutes die. Just keep this in mind, because after this cutscene he will almost never mention it again or show any signs that her death had any real impact on him.

Seriously she’s worse than John Wick’s wife for post-mortem guilt trips. Next thing you know, Evan will get a dog in the mail and spend hours staring at family photos.

And… she’s dead.

Remember how I said the models definitely were not intended to be viewed from certain angles? This is one of them. Evan looks like a gremlin or something.

If this were a good game, Evan would go on to build an army without a country in the middle of the ocean. This is not a good game.

The first time I saw this cutscene, I was honestly hoping this would turn into a Drakengard-style scenario where Evan slowly gets corrupted by the Watchers… or at least something like Kat’s flashbacks at the end of Gravity Rush 2 where they make the plot way better and expain the whole Discovery of Gravitation thing. That song fucking ruled.

So, I can’t get into what the actual explanation for these cutscenes is without spoiling the entire game, but suffice to say they wind up ruining the plot far beyond how bad the plot ruins itself. By the end of the game, you will fucking hate that these cutscenes exist probably as much as I do. We’ll be seeing one at the end of every chapter.

So apparently, Roland decided to make camp maybe a few feet from where they exited the sewer system. Clearly this is one of those Super Metroid kind of situations where enemies can’t leave the room they spawn in.

And that’s roughly the end of Chapter 2. Next time, we’ll get to see the world map for the first time and watch the game’s quick downhill slide in quality.


#7

Update 6: A King I Am (Not)

From this point on, we control Evan rather than Roland while outside of battle. We can actually ditch Evan from the main party in battle - once we find a third party member, that is. Ultimately, we’re probably going to want to choose between either Evan or Roland because both of them use swords and there really aren’t enough good swords to go around. I’ll show it a bit later on, but Roland has higher base attack stats than Evan does, while Evan has slightly better defensive ones.

Roland: “There’s no Ding Dong Dell where I’m from. And no view like this either…”

Roland: “Hm. I guess it’s… ahead of this world in some ways… and behind in others.”

Evan: “Nella used to tell me a story, you know. When I was little…”

Evan: “It was about another world. One very closely connected to our own…”

This is one of the few nods they give to Ni no Kuni 1 existing, back when the magical isekai kingdom was more like Narnia without all of the Christian symbolism and wasn’t a generic isekai anime.

Evan: “I always imagined it was just a fairy tale, but… I suppose there must have been some truth to it after all.”

Roland: “So I got… lost between these two worlds and wound up here? Does that mean there’s no way home?”

Evan: “What did you do there? In your world?”

So honestly, I think this game would’ve been way more interesting if it was the other way around, with Evan winding up in a modern-day Earth. They could’ve used the whole “what happens in one world effects the other” thing again and it would’ve been a much better and more direct sequel.

Roland, worst president ever. Michael Wilson this guy is not.

Evan: “What?!”

Roland: “Well, a president. It’s kind of the same thing.”

Roland: “Which means I have a little experience when it comes to running a country.”

I think it was about this point when I realized that Roland reminded me a lot of Clancy from Deep Fear.

Evan: “Really? Then perhaps you might be kind enough to share some of it with me? Things may not be the quite the same here as in your world, but still…”

Roland: “What exactly are you planning? A quiet life in the mountains might not be such a bad idea, you know.”

Roland, truly the best president ever. This is one of the things that really bugs me about this game. From here on in, Roland is treated like an expert statesman when he failed so badly as a president that New York got nuked on his watch. You’d think he’d at least feel a scrap of regret.

So now, Evan tells us we need a Kingmaker. You might ask, “Wait… aren’t those just the Primals from Final Fantasy 14?” and you’d be absolutely right because that is quite literally what they are… minus the theme songs.

So now, you might ask, where is Evan’s giant demon thing?

Pretty much exactly where you’d think it would be. You would think that Evan would have mentioned this thing’s existence or tried to secure it before he left. You’d also think that he’d have seen a twenty-foot-tall deer unicorn thing on the way out.

So now that we’ve got a destination, it’s time to set out…

Roland: "So what are we waiting for? Let’s go!’

Evan: “Ahh… just one second!”

Evan… puts on a short cape. This is somehow all he needed to be able to fight. We now have access to Evan as our second party member - but there’s a bit of a problem.

So, to understand what I did here: I unequipped Roland of all but one weapon that does roughly the same amount of damage that Evan’s default weapon does. He’s still a full level ahead of Evan and will probably remain that way for the foreseeable future.

In contrast, these are Evan’s stats. Evan comes with a single piece of armor which I removed for this shot.

It’s not obvious right now (mostly because Roland is higher level) but Roland tends to have slightly better stat growth on level-up in his attack stats (top two) versus Evan who is more of a mage (middle stat). The problem is that they’re both sword users… and there aren’t really enough swords to go around. We could keep both of them in the party: I finished the game the first time I played it without even using zing at all, but there’s generally going to be a huge gap between your best weapon and second best weapon for any given category… so we may want to consider getting rid of one or the other later on.

Since my LPs usually don’t allow for a large degree of audience participation, I’ll allow you, the viewers, to pick which one we get rid of… or if we keep both.

These are Evan’s specials. Kingspin is essentially the same as Roland’s Flatliner skill - except instead of getting a second vertical slash when at 100% zing, it instead reaches a wider area and also does fire damage. It’s hard to get a screenshot of, but you’ll see it next update.

On the way out of the mountain area, we also run into our first warp point. These make the first part of the game, where we’ll largely be going between places on foot, much faster.

And now we’re on the world map. The game has auto-switched us to controlling Evan in combat, though we can change back to Roland at any time. The world map is a lot like Earthbound’s, where enemies are on the screen and will aggro when approached unless your level is way higher than theirs. There are “sneak attacks” if an enemy hits you from behind - this removes any zing you have built up but otherwise doesn’t change much.

Here, we meet one of the handful of enemy types we’re going to run into: Whamsters.

At this point in the game, Whamsters are almost entirely melee-based… except for the blue ones, which are casters. They’re pretty easy to knock down, and don’t have a whole lot of health. Later on, they typically have more casters and add archers into the mix, which can be annoying if there’s a ton of them.

We also run into a second enemy type: dogs. They’re much harder to knock down than Whamsters are, and have more health on average… but spend a lot of time growling, like that one on the right edge of the shot. During the growling animation, they’re wide open to melee attacks.

You can see the yellow market on the map telling us where Cloudcoil Canyon is… but what’s this house? We’ll find out next time, when we get introduced to Ni no Kuni 2’s mascot characters and gain access to our final major combat mechanic.


#8

Update 7: A Useless Side Mechanic Appears!

As soon as we go near that cottage, the game thrusts us into yet another cutscene. I swear, it’s impossible to make a JRPG these days without having it feel like a movie.

Oh no! That grandma and her pikmin are under attack!

The game helpfully tells us how to deal with flying enemies… kind of like this wyvern we’re going to be fighting in mere seconds.

Wyverns are usually mini-boss type enemies that are encountered alone and have boss health bars. They’re spongier than normal enemies are, but the main difference is that they’re one of a handful of flying enemies in this game.

This one starts on the ground, though normally they’ll alternate between a ground cycle and an air cycle. Once we do some damage to it…

So, one thing that I absolutely hate about this cutscene is that the pikmin creatures never actually do this once we get them in battle.

In fact, this is about as useful as these things get - on their own, anyway.

The pikmin things are called higgledies, because absolutely everything in Ni no Kuni has to have a fanciful dipshit name. It’s kind of hard to see what they actually do in combat, but the tutorial for them actually has some good shots.

So, this screen is actually kind of a lie. What happens is that the higgledies spend time gathering power and every so often will form a circle that you can use to get them to do something. The only ones that are really worth it are the green ones, because they provide an AOE heal over time effect.

Their main use is charging your attacks. Any attack that is effected by zing (including Roland’s Flatliner and Evan’s Kingspin attack) can be charged using a certain color of higgledy. This essentially lets you use zing attacks without actually needing zing… at the cost of not being able to move for a second while you charge up.

This allows us to switch to Roland and charge Flatliner repeatedly to stunlock the wyvern to death.

I skipped a bit of this cutscene because this update is rapidly becoming a movie, but you get the idea. I’ll probably upload it to video soon and get it put up here.

Also, we learn that Cloudcoil Canyon is full of pirates.

We also get our first higgledy - they actually come in units of 4 and can be upgraded using vast amounts of crafting materials later on… but it’s not really worth doing.

There’s a warp point right outside the cottage - this is actually the location of our first sidequest, but that won’t happen until after Cloudcoil Canyon. This was where I stopped for a bit, and when I logged back in…

So, in between when I started this update and now, the game updated to have a “hard” and “extreme” mode, which cause enemies to drop far better items at the cost of reducing your damage by roughly 25% on hard and 50% on extreme.

Naturally, I set this shit right to extreme.

You might also wonder what our higgledy’s special attack looks like. This is it - it does roughly the same damage as a single physical attack from Evan… and eventually, Evan will outscale it so much that it won’t even be worth using.

This is the effect of extreme mode: we’re now doing 14 damage when previously Roland was hitting for 50+.

Right away, the drops start getting better. Roland gets a wizard outfit with roughly four times as much defense as the stuff Evan starts with.

Evan is actually the only person in the entire world to be half-furry. It’s really weird that they never delve further into this.

Anyway, Cloudcoil Canyon is right over there. Next time, we’ll go in there and see how much dumber this plot can get.


#10

Update 7: Cloudcoil Canyon

Welcome to Cloudcoil Canyon - a sort of halfway point between an actual story dungeon with a boss and one of the sidequest dungeons that we’ll get to later. I should mention that in between the last update and this one, I built an entirely new PC with much better specs that allowed me to crank everything to Ultra.

Evan: “Yes, and that’s not the only challenge we’ll face. The King’s Cradle is at the other end of Cloudcoil Canyon, on an island near the Heartlands.”

Roland: “So we’ll need to find a boat, too?”

Evan: “… I’m afraid so. But we must worry about that later. First, we need to make it through the valley.”

So Roland, who is supposed to be the sensible person in all of this, just follows along because clearly everything Evan has ever read in a book is true.

Right away, there’s a warp point just beyond the save point that’s visible in the cutscene. The developers of Ni no Kuni 2 were really nice in that most large areas have multiple warp points. This is especially true of Cloudcoil Canyon, for reasons we’ll see in just a bit.

Behind the warp point is this guy, who is this area’s merchant.

Roland: “What’s a merchant doing all the way out here?”

Merchant: “Well, it’s quite a story actually. You see, I was based in Ding Dong Dell, but there was a little… political trouble out that way, and now the mice are in control.”

Merchant: “I didn’t much like the way things were going, so I made good my escape while I still could.”

Evan: “You’re… you’re from Ding Dong Dell, you say…?”

Merchant: “Everybody on Leafbook was saying you’d been killed, so I just assumed the rumors must be true!”

Evan: “Oh, well… umm… not actually. I survived - just.”

Roland: “What’s Leafbook? Is this some other kind of magic you guys have or something?”

Evan: “I’m afraid I haven’t the foggiest idea…”

Yes, Ni no Kuni 2 apparently takes place in a world where modern-day Earth never invents social media, but the magical isekai kingdom does. You know, I think that explains where Mark Zuckerburg came from.

So again, I’d like to point out that a mere six updates ago, Roland pulled out a modern cellphone and attempted to use it. I like to think that the reason Roland got nuked is because he outlawed everything on a cellphone except for making and receiving calls.

Even weirder, this random jerk has a bunch of these magic cellphone things. As we’ll find out shortly, so does pretty much everyone in the magical isekai realm except for Evan.

This is what Leafbook looks like - there’s a dedicated button for it and everything. Strangely, there’s no old people posting about how they think Congress has been taken over by aliens or making arts and crafts with firearms. I’m not going to show this off at all after this point, mostly because it contains spoilers for areas we haven’t been to yet. In fact, one of the pictures on this screen is of an area that we won’t visit until maybe two hours from the end of the game (assuming no sidequests in between).

You can also “like” posts, which I don’t think does anything. This isn’t, say, the email mechanic in Xenosaga where if you failed to answer the first email you recieve (which that game at no point explains how to do) you miss out on the best weapon in the game.

Moving on, we encounter two new enemy types.

The first one is Dynagoo, which is the first elemental upgrade to the basic Goo enemy we fought in the sewers. These guys tend to run away and attack from range, and if left alone for a short period of time will turn silver.

This makes them one of the most annoying enemies in the game, simply because you need magic (not just elemental attacks) to break them out of this state and make them vulnerable to physical attacks again. Evan’s fireball or water ball spells will both do the trick, but Roland doesn’t have any spells yet, and won’t for a while.

The other enemy type is the Sylph, which later gains colored re-skins. Sylves are also ranged attackers, though instead of spamming weaker attacks, they charge up and release a homing bolt that hits for around 75 damage at this level. It’s honestly kind of hard to get a screenshot of the actual projectile, mostly because the sylph will usually die before it ever gets a chance to use it.

Behind a couple of Dynagoo/Sylph encounters, Evan spots… a plant.

You can tell that Roland is getting ready to outlaw these the same way he outlawed social media.

Roland: “This is hardly the time for a botany lesson.”

Evan: “But… I’ve only ever seen them in books before! I… sorry, of course, we should get moving.”

You would think that the cutscene would be there so we’d remember where that clover is… and as you’ll see in just a minute, you’d be completely and utterly wrong. In the meantime, we have another two new enemy types: Porcs and birds.

Porcs are among the tankiest non-miniboss enemies in the game. This one has pretty much the same amount of HP that the wyvern did in the last update.

Really, they’re more of an annoyance than anything - they can block attacks from the front and mostly attack by charging in a straight line, which is really easy to dodge and also offers ample opportunity to hit them with charged special attacks.

They can also charge up and release an AOE explosion. While they’re totally vulnerable to being hit during the charge, they can’t be knocked down.

Birds, on the other hand, are basically flying sylphs. One or two light attacks in air will knock them down, and a few more will kill them off.

Once we get to the end of the area with the first Porc encounter, we run into a bit of a problem.

One short walk down a side path later…

The higgledies start doing something strange, and out comes…

Our first wind-element higgledie! These are pretty much the only useful higgledies, short of a handful of end-game ones, because their activation ability provides an AOE heal over time.

They also give Evan an old twig, which is pretty much what he deserves…

We’ve now learned this area’s out of battle spell. Each of the game’s major areas has one.

Wind Whipper allows Evan to turn the prop clovers into bounce pads that open up new areas.

Now, you might be asking yourself, what was beyond that first clover? Well, let’s find out.

The answer is a bunch of level 20 enemies that can and will destroy Roland in one hit at this point in the game. You might think the developers had that cutscene earlier so we’d remember to come back here later, only when we DO need to come back here, there’s a map marker for it.

The intended route is just to the left of the bridge, which bounces us up to the top of the cliff.

Right at the top is another battle, and the final new enemy type we’ll be seeing for a while.

These are “incarnates”, which are really just elementals. Unlike most enemies, they don’t show up on the map until battle starts, and spend most of their time running away frorm you. They don’t attack, but are impervious to pretty much anything but elemental attacks. Thankfully, Roland has the fire broadsword, which killed this one quickly.

Roland also levelled up to 8 in that battle, which earned him a new technique whose name escapes me at the moment - it’s either Circle Cut or Circle Slice and I forget which. Like its name implies, Circle Cut is a circular AOE attack that hits anything within range two or three times. It can be charged by wind elemental higgledies into what you see here.

One short jump over a gap later, and we’re mere inches from a cutscene trigger… and the end of this update. Next time, we’ll meet the sky pirates of Cloudcoil Canyon.


#11

Update 8: Jumping the Shark

Once we go past the bridge, the canyon turns into a less swampy Valley of Defilement. You might have noticed in the last update that the first Leafbook post has one of those weird stones in it just like the one straight ahead.

These are Higgledy Stones, and are probably the worst-implemented thing in the game. Each stone contains a different Higgledy to collect… only as I mentioned earlier, higgledies are useless - the stones even moreso, because we’ll soon have a way to craft higgledies at will.

Each stone has the same exact dialog. They want a crafting item (ie; all that random junk we’ve been slowly accumulating since the beginning of the game, both as drops from battles and from glowing pickup spots) which is usually something that’s either too rare to justify the expense, or that you won’t have for another 5+ hours after you meet the stone. There’s one particularly egregious example about 3/4 of the way into the game where one of the stones (in an area that is extremely annoying to navigate) wants an item that isn’t even obtainable until post-game.

Anyway, this stone wants a nut - just like the one we grabbed from a pickup spot mere seconds ago.

I’m only showing this because there are a few sidequests later on that will demand we do the same thing - pick the right item from a list. Most of those are safe to ignore.

This gets us a second wind-elemental higgledy. I don’t believe there’s any reason to have two other than to double up on the chance of getting that AOE heal.

Not far from the stone, we find the final prop clover… of this area, anyway. They’ll show up in some other places later.

Oh man, it looks like a boss arena. Could it be…

Suddenly, Roland gets surrounded by what looks like rejected 40k Ork technology. For some reason, he forgets to simply pull out his gun and start blasting.

For some reason, instead of just cutting both of them down with the machinegun on the front, this idiot decides to go for a different approach.

Buddy, I’ve heard of Solid Snake, Liquid Snake, Naked Snake and Punished “Venom” Snake. I swear to god, if these idiots are just Fantasy Outer Heaven…

Roland immediately contemplates passing anti-net laws, and revoking net neutrality while he’s at it.

Evan: “We have important business beyond the valley! You simply must let us through!”

Dingus: “Oh, must we indeed? I’ll tell ye what we simply must do, boy - string up all them as comes a-spyin’ on our secret base!”

Yes, their secret base that even some old lady who lives on the other side of the continent knows is here.

Khunbish: “Aye, me honored colleague has the right of it. Ye’ve contravened rule 7, section D o’ the Piratical Aviator’s Code. An’ the punishment for such a heinous crime is… death!”

Roland: “But we’re not aviators. We walked here.”

Khunbish: “Spare us yer clever words, mister! We’ll not stand here an’ listen to ye wheedle yer way out of it.”

Dingus: “Aye, piratin’s busy work! Less talkin’, more dyin’! Heh heh!”

And oh look, it’s a twelve-year-old version of San from Princess Mononoke. Mostly, I don’t hate this game - it’s mediocre and grindy and poorly designed in a lot of places, but damned if I didn’t finish it. Tani as a character, I absolutely do hate.

Khunbish: “Er… we- we, er…”

Khunbish: “Well now, I never… that is we… ahem.”

Roland: “We wait for an opening, then run!”

Evan and Roland are pretty much immediately taken to the game’s second town, the Sky Pirate Base.

This part is basically a five-minute walk that would ordinarily take something like fifteen seconds at Evan’s default movement speed. From what I remember, the first time I played this part, the pirates walked in front and behind the party to sort of force them along - but in this case, they both kinda decided to fuck off to the side.

Meet Batu. Batu is probably my favorite character in this game.

Batu: “Ye must be the trespassers. Loiterin’ suspiciously in the Canyon there, or so I hears it.”

Roland: “With good reason. Please, hear us out.”

Evan: “W-we only want to visit the King’s Cradle! We won’t cause any trouble, I promise!”

Batu: “Ye caused trouble the second ye set foot on Sky Pirate turf, lad. ‘Tis a violation o’ the code - one that carries the penalty of death!”

So yeah, this guy is an ice cold motherfucker who is going to kill a pre-pubescent boy for trespassing.

Evan: “What? Can’t you-”

Roland: “You may want to reconsider. This is King Evan of Ding Dong Dell. What do you suppose will happen if you execute a royal, hm?”

Batu: “Eh? You’re a wry one to jest so in the face of death, matey.”

Batu: “We’re not so backward that we ain’t heard o’ the young price taking the throne… but we’re not so soft in the head as to believe he’d come traipsin’ all the way up here, neither.”

Roland: “There was a coup. We fled here in fear of our lives.”

Batu: “Is that so? All the more reason to sling ‘em off a cliff an’ be done with it. Whoever’s in charge at Ding Dong Dell’s sure to be pleased as punch at such tidings. An’ it can’t do no harm to stay on their good side now, can it?”

So yeah, ice cold motherfucker.

Dingus: “The wyverns’ve taken her hostage! They said they’ll let her live… b-but only if we promises to pick up sticks right away an’ never come back!”

Batu: “The devils! Pick on a mere slip of a girl, would they? …But if we desert this base, we’ll be sittin’ ducks for any an’ all choose to come at us! The lousy lizards’ll slaughter every last man, woman, and child!”

So yeah, he’s gone from killing Evan to sacrificing his own daughter just so he can stay king of the pirates. I want you to keep this in mind, that this guy is basically one step away from being Luca Blight at this point.

Evan: “But she’s-”

Batu: “She’s the blood o’ my blood’s what she is. I the boot were on the other foot, I know she’d do the same.”

Evan: “Wait! You can’t just leave her to die!”

Batu: “What’s that now?”

Evan: “If none of you are willing to go, I will! I’ll rescue her!”

So yeah, this is the kid who not even a day ago was too scared to fight anyone to the point where he got someone killed as a result.

Evan: “Please, Chief Batu! You have to let us try! Tani saved our lives, we are honor-bound to repay the debt!”

Batu: “Somethin’ tells me that ain’t all yer after, laddie.”

So when I first read this line, I made it my headcanon that Evan has somehow seen Princess Mononoke and had a thing for San, not knowing that the best female character animated by Hayao Miyazaki is actually Fujiko Mine. This entire segment could’ve been avoided if someone had just shown him Castle of Cagliostro.

Khunbish: “Aye! They’re after a way out, boss! You take it from me!”

Evan: “We won’t run away! You have my word as… you have my word!”

Batu: “Just what’re ye plottin’, laddie? I don’t have time for none of your trickery.”

So I’d like to point something out here. This line, right here? The one by Batu about the “blighted lands” being “rife with misery and war”? This is something that is absolutely NEVER SHOWN IN THE FUCKING GAME AT ANY POINT. The only unrest we’ve seen so far is the coup at Ding Dong Dell - and that’s a civil war at best, not an international one. In fact, Evan’s entire motivation setup here makes absolutely no goddamn sense! None! But no, from here on out, there will never be shown at any point a war between two nations.

… And it’s only going to get worse from here. I’d also like to point out that Batu of all fucking people is the ONLY PERSON IN THE ENTIRE GAME to question the wisdom of having a 10 year old boy run a country.

So yes, readers, we have just officially jumped the shark.

Batu: “What’s that? Not just a king indeed, but king of the whole blessed world, eh lad?”

Evan: “If that’s what it takes, I have to try! And I can’t stop trying until everyone is able to live happily ever after!”

Batu: “Silence, ye mangy curs! Ye were sayin’, lad?”

Evan: “If I can’t repay my debt to Tani, I don’t deserve to be king. I don’t deserve to live! So kill us if you must. But at least give us a chance to save her first. And if we do… grant us safe passage to the king’s cradle.”

Anyway, we’re now given full access to the pirate stronghold. There’s not a whole lot interesting here apart from a merchant who sells soreaway, but at this point I had already blown all of my money on soreaway from the merchant at the start of Cloudcoil Canyon.

All we can do now is touch the warp point to activate it, and blast off to strike against the evil wyvern empire… in the next update.


#12

Update 9: Never Do Bossfights on Extreme

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We’re now on the world map just outside the Sky Pirate base. This is where things can get a little iffy if you’re playing on Extreme mode, as we are.

So, one of the things that’s different about the world map than most other areas is that enemy levels are somewhat randomized - you’ll usually find them at a set level range (for this area, it’s roughly 5 to 9)… but sometimes, you’ll find an “elite” enemy who is much higher level. Take this level 14 Whamster, for example.

There’s also a warp point here, mostly because there are chests here we won’t be able to get for a long, long time.

The problem is that on Extreme mode, you can run into this: a pack of wyverns with one being level 14. I was actually wrong about one thing: wyverns actually don’t appear alone. Those are “elite” wyverns, which are more of a boss/mini-boss.

Anyway, the level 14 wyvern essentially no-sold every attack I threw against it that wasn’t Circle Cut… and then killed Roland in two hits.

The worst part is, I almost had it down, then got hit once and game overed. This is the danger of playing on Extreme mode - honestly, I shouldn’t have bothered cranking the difficulty setting up for better drops just yet, because we haven’t run into this game’s equivalent of the Covetous Gold Serpent Ring.

This area is absolutely littered with wyverns. Fortunately, I levelled up a bit offscreen. Grinding for levels in Ni no Kuni 2 is kind of a slow process and isn’t really encouraged, but I did it mostly to see if I could get some better weapons to drop.

On the way there, I got a little confused and wound up here. Crookneck Cavern is actually a dungeon in and of itself if I remember right - there’s like four caves with the same name and three of them are only used for sidequests we don’t have yet. We might want to remember where this is though, because it’s part of a sidequest I might do off-camera near the end of the game.

The path we want is on the other side, and is full of level 13 wyverns. The one behind it was also level 13. These weren’t quite as bad as the level 14 one was, and I suspect that’s because the game adds a hidden defense multiplier to enemies that are at a certain point above your level to discourage you from trying to kill them.

Once we get closer to the Wyvern’s Den, there’s a side path with some mushrooms. These are actually the equivalent of those prop clovers, only for the next area after Cloudcoil Canyon.

You might think the Wyvern’s Den is a dungeon, but it’s actually just a boss arena. In the pre-arena room, near the save point, there’s another higgledy stone. I picked up the item it wants in a chest near Crookneck Cavern, and it’s an element we don’t have, so we might as well grab it.

This one is dark-elemental, which we’ll need to power up a couple of Roland’s attacks down the line.


Before we go in, I un-equipped the best sword off Roland and put it on Evan. You might ask why I didn’t bother equipping three weapons: that’s because zing is fucking useless once you gain the ability to use higgledies to charge attacks… and because I primarily use Roland in combat and the AI doesn’t tend to use zing very often even when it has it available.

Roland, on the other hand, gets a new gat that has a higher damage rating than anything else we’ve found so far. This is what we want, because the AI will spam ranged attacks like crazy in the upcoming boss fight.

I’m pretty sure this arena (and in fact this whole area) was ripped out of Nausicaa, but I can’t prove it because I’ve never actually seen that movie.

Oh look, it’s the Bell Gargoyle. By the way, I’d like to mention that at this point, I had fucked up and forgotten to set the difficulty back to normal mode. Why is this important? We’ll find out in a bit.

The boss begins the fight by flying upward like a coward.

He then summons a bunch of lower-level wyverns to make this game hell for speedrunners. These go down fairly quickly - I took this shot I think two or three seconds into the fight, and even with Roland having the second-best equipment he still nearly killed one before I did anything.

On normal mode, this is a fairly easy fight - the boss mostly attacks by running around in circles swinging his axes. The obvious strategy is to get behind him and spam light attacks… though he is capable of turning pretty quickly and can hit some of the area behind him. This, by the way, is the special for most of the wind-elemental higgledies. In case you’re curious, the reason Evan’s HP is so low is because I took uh… maybe two attacks from the boss?

The reason I gave Evan the best sword is because he learned a new ability at level 10: Flurry. If you’ve played Devil May Cry, it’s basically a renamed Stinger, complete with that “Breakdown!” strike at the end which does a pretty significant chunk of damage. Flurry is a crit machine, but it has an extremely long animation and leaves Evan totally vulnerable until that animation is complete.

At 25% HP or so, the boss flies up again and does the “drop trash mobs on you” strat. This does not end well for said trash mobs.

Once the boss came back down, I happened to get the dark-element higgledy’s attack to go off. This just straight-up creates a black hole that hits for a large amount of damage. I believe this one hit for 190, when most of Evan’s attacks are still in the mid double digits.

A few Stingers later and the boss explodes, boosting both Evan and Roland to level 11. This, by the way, is why we don’t do bosses on extreme: not only do they become extremely damage spongy, but their drops are fixed regardless of difficulty.

This is the armor the boss dropped. I went through my save from my first run and confirmed that it’s exactly the same drop. Compared to the difficulty-boosted armor drops, this thing is hot garbage.

Evan Pettiwhisker - human footstool.

Evan: “Little boy?! You can’t be much older than me!”

Tani: “Heh heh! Alright, keep your hair on, umm…?”

Evan: “Evan. My name is Evan.”

Roland: “And I’m Roland.”

Tani: “Evan and Roland, eh? Well, thanks for coming to the rescue! I didn’t have either of you down as the reckless type, but you must be to have come here.”

Tani: “Speaking of which, why didn’t that grizzled old coward Batu come down here and get me himself?”

Evan: “We made an agreement: in return for securing your freedom, he promised to grant us safe passage to the King’s Cradle.”

Tani: “Really? He said that? Ha! I knew it!”

Evan: “I most certainly do not!”

Tani: “You most certainly do, too! It’s like you can both see something… that no one else can…”

Tani: “Yes, boss! Sorry boss!”

Batu: “Evan, lad! Ye were as good as yer word, so I shall be as good as mine - ye may pass freely through the canyon!”

Evan: “Thank you very much, Chief Batu!”

Roland: “One step closer to the King’s Cradle, huh?”

Tani: “So you really are serious about going then? To the cradle?”

Evan: “Yes!”

Tani: “Well, the quickest way there is to fly, of course… but what are you going all the way up there for?”

Batu: “This one here’s set to hook himself a Kingmaker, an’ become lord o’ the whole wide world, don’t ye know!”

I only included this shot because Tani’s face looks like someone is dangling a donut off a fishing pole just off-camera and she’s trying to eat it without using her hands.

Tani: “Blimey! You have some pretty big ideas for such a pipsqueak.”

Tani: “Well, you’ll only end up getting lost if you go off on your own… alright, I’m coming with you!”

We now have our third party member… who also happens to be the absolute worst character in the game. Strangely enough, we won’t see her in combat until after the next update, as there are no random encounters between this cutscene and the King’s Cradle unless you purposely go back into Cloudcoil Canyon to grind.

Skipping ahead a bit, we can head down to the bottom level and finally get this story on the road. Just before we take off, though…

An overprotective anime dad re-appears.

Batu: “But there’s not a soul been to that cradle and made it back unscathed. If she comes home with as much as a scratch, I’ll have yer hide, understand?”

Evan: “Y-yes, Chief Batu! We’ll be very careful. Tani will be safe with us, I promise.”

I said the same thing back when I was a teenager. Ah, the memories of taking my horrible anime love interest to a dungeon so I could summon a 50-foot-tall hellbeast to conquer the world for me.

This story is kinda boring, so I’m just going to start making up my own. Once, there was a janitor who worked in the same office building that Hayao Miyazaki rented out when they were producing Nausicaa, back in the early '80s. The janitor’s name was Fred, even though this is in Japan so that would make no sense. Fred worked at the same building until 1998, after Princess Mononoke was released.

Thirty years later, Level 5 wanted to rip off Ghibli without actually paying the exorbitant amount of money they paid for the first Ni no Kuni, so they hired anyone even remotely connected to Ghibli to do character and environment design. Fred had always been friends with some of the lesser animators, and he even did some art on the side, so he was a shoe-in for a position on their new game.

Fred was happy with his six-digit salary working at a job where all he did was draw a bunch of blatant Mononoke ripoffs, but was a little concerned about how all his boss wanted him to do was ape someone else’s style. One day, he went to his manager and voiced his concerns.

There is literally no angle at which Tani does not look horribly deformed.

Fred’s told his manager, “Boss, aren’t we ripping off Mononoke a little too much? Can’t we, I dunno, come up with something original? Wouldn’t that be better?”

Fred’s manager looked at him, befuddled. “But that might actually require us to hire animators who could do something other than rip off Miyazaki… nah, fuck it, we’re ripping off Mononoke too much. Start ripping off Nausicaa instead.”

And that’s how this cutscene came to be.

Anyway, next update, we’ll go into the King’s Cradle and witness as the game rips off both Sonic 2006 and Gravity Rush 2 at the same time.


#13

Update 10: Boy Sampson

So, Batu warned us that the King’s Cradle is so dangerous that no one who has come here has ever returned. Clearly, we should be ready for a boss fight on this massive staircase, because that is absolutely something the early Final Fantasy games would’ve done.

Any second now, we’re going to have some big, dumb-looking boss swoop down from the skies and…

Okay, maybe not on the big staircase. Maybe it’s on that OTHER staircase. Definitely.

Nope, no bossfight. That would be giving this game more credit than it deserves. Instead, we get a 15-second or so walk up to the Cradle with absolutely nothing on the way there.

Evan: “Yes… if we can prove ourselves worthy.”

When I heard this line for the first time, I was absolutely prepared for a time skip or something, like how in Ocarina of Time Link isn’t ready to wield the Master Sword when he’s a kid. Like, we’d just walk up to that Shenron ripoff in the back and get told “Nah kid you’re like, ten years old and ten year olds are horrible kings, come back in ten years” but that’d be good writing.

So here we are. There’s nothing else here apart from the giant statue in the back, so let’s check it out.

Evan: “What’s this?”

Roland: “Talking statues?! What’s next?”

Roland is immediately fascinated by a statue that could easily just be a speaker and some LEDs.

Wait a second… this isn’t going to be like that moment in Sonic 2006 where they had Sonic do stupid trials as filler, is it? (that’s exactly what this is)

So here we are, in… a blatant ripoff of the final chapter of Gravity Rush 2, a game that not only did this same thing better but also had better music. By the way, go fucking buy that game and play it because it’s a hundred times better than this trash heap even with the online disabled.

Anyway, now that we’re here, the first thing we want to do is check that glowing pedestal. There’s an overly long tutorial thing for this, but I’ll explain it as we go. Essentially, there’s three rooms. Each one has one of these book pedestals at the start. Instead of a gravity block puzzle, we get a thing where we have to make an Euler circuit (that’s doing a circuit around a room without ever doubling back) and hit checkpoints to match the story.

Here’s the first story. Now, you might ask me, “Hey Timrod, is this foreshadowing for the rest of the plot?” and the answer is no. I have absolutely no fucking idea what this is supposed to be. It SOUNDS kind of like the plot to the first game, only it clearly isn’t because the main villain of the first game was the white witch.

We can press Z to get an overhead view of the maze. The little blue spheres are “bonus orbs” that award items if you pick them up and complete the puzzle on the same run. We can also hit Tab to reset the puzzle. The blue sigil thing will warp us back to the Cradle. So yeah, hard to see how anyone died here.

Stepping on a tile causes it to fall as soon as you step off it, and we need to make a complete circuit, touching those three yellow circles in order. However, this one has a bit of a twist… we need to turn the orange statue to face the red one. What I’ll do is post the solution in the overhead view first, then the screens of what the stuff looks like up close.

It’s hard to see from this angle, but the “fairy” statue looks a little like Drippy from the first game. But again, there was no dragon in the first game as far as I know.

After each segment, the game will ask you if you want to move forward just in case you didn’t grab all the bonus orbs. I honestly shouldn’t have bothered, because the rewards are uh… a soreaway, a “strong sixth censer” which restores MP and is useless, and a leather armor that is okay if you’re playing on normal, but we’ve already got better stuff on extreme.

Once the puzzle is solved, all of the floor tiles spring back up and the door at the end opens.

So again, this isn’t foreshadowing. We’ll actually have six party members by the end of the game - and none of them are a wizard or a bard of any kind.

So as you can see, this statue looks nothing like anyone in the party.

The pistolier looks nothing like Roland either. For finishing this puzzle and collecting all the orbs, we get a wand for Evan that does about half the damage of Roland’s gun, a three-leaf soreaway, and another sixth censer. Three-leaf soreaway is basically a hi-potion, and we won’t be able to buy those until way later in the game.

With a name like Mornstar, I’d suspect the kid is actually the Demifiend and this is an allegory for Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne.

This last puzzle is so large that I can’t actually show the solution on one screen… and actually, I can’t because I forgot to take overhead shots after rotating the dragon statue. The idea is that you start on the left, and then use the switches to turn the dragon.

Now we face the second part… the boss fight that really isn’t much of a boss fight. I also may or may not have accidentally forgotten to set the difficulty back to normal. Whoops.

Thogg is a normal, if somewhat rare, enemy type. They’re almost exactly like the Porcs in Cloudcoil Canyon - high HP but very slow. Thankfully, I left the best equipment on Evan… though the game is nice enough that you can warp out and get stuff off Roland if you have to.

The Thogg only has three real attacks, the first of which is a series of slow punches while moving forward in a line. This makes it very vulnerable to Flurry.

The second is a charge attack that fires off a large projectile. It’s easy to avoid because it’s telegraphed for upwards of 5 seconds, and you can stun him out of it using a zing-powered attack (since we don’t yet have the right higgledies to power up Evan’s attacks).

Finally, it has a flying tackle that does a lot of damage and has a very wide hitbox. Most of the damage I took in this fight was from this attack, because even rolling usually isn’t enough to avoid it if you’re in the line of fire.

The best tactic for this fight is simply to stay behind Thogg at all times and use Flurry when he finishes his punch combo or charges up his projectile. You’ll notice that Roland and Tani both levelled up despite not being in the fight at all - that’s because this game works like Final Fantasy 7 in that even characters not in your party gain EXP from fights… albeit at a reduced rate.

Speaking of, both of them get warped in just in time for…

Oh man, I can’t wait to get a 50-foot-tall murderbeast in the party.

No, instead, we get this fucker. This is Lofty. He is, as you will soon learn, the worst character in this already mediocre game. I mean, he’s that Boy and Mom Sampson costume in pseudo-Ghibli style.

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Part of what makes him so annoying is his appearance, but also the fact that he has a stupid “low British” accent that makes his text annoying as hell to transcribe. Thus, I’ll be doing as little of that as possible. If I could somehow edit the screenshots to pretend Lofty doesn’t exist, I would.

So anyway, he confirms that he is indeed Evan’s Kingmaker, and gives us permission to build a kingdom… but first, we need to make a “kingsbond” which is basically a Pact straight out of Drakengard… with the unfortunate side effect of not being as cool as it was in Drakengard. What I’m saying here is that I was fully hoping that this would lead to a darker future in which Evan becomes a Caim-like figure and starts out by throwing Lofty into a meat grinder.

My canon explanation for why this scene sucks is this. Actually, I’ll just write another fanfic. Fuck this game.

So one day, Fred gets assigned to work on the storyboard for this segment of the game. He looks at his folder of concept art, and realizes that really, this is just that one part from Sonic 2006. So Fred goes to his boss.

I love Roland’s smug-ass grin, as if even he realizes how dumb this scene is.

“Boss,” Fred says. “This scene makes no goddamn sense! Why did Oakenhart let Mausinger use a sword to swear the oath over, but Lofty forces Evan to use a twig? We could’ve had a really neat mechanic where the player chooses a weapon and has it grow as they develop their kingdom!”

“No,” says his boss. “That would make this game far too original. We’re doing the 4Kids thing and keeping the stick.”

“Well,” Fred replies, “we could at least do a thing where the stick sprouts leaves and a flower, like they did in Okami with Susano’s sword. I mean, people fucking loved the art direction in that game and I’m sure I could-”

“No,” says his boss. “Just draw a scene where they both look really constipated and add some lighting effects in post.”

As shit as Lofty is, he does give us one very important item: the Tactic Tweaker. Remember how in the last update I said farming for the better gear that playing on Extreme gets you was pointless at the time? This is the item that will make farming for gear work.

This is it right here. Each time a character levels up, you get a number of “battle points” - I’m not sure what determines how many you get or if it’s even random at all. The tweaker is divided into four sections, each of which can be levelled up using battle points to allow you to move the bars further from their starting positions.

The top-left quadrant is for “monster affinities”. Every monster in the game is divided into one of six types, and moving the bars allows you to do more damage to monsters of that type.

Next up is the top-right “elements and ailments” section, which is purely for defense. Status effects in this game are few and far between: I think in a complete playthrough, I only saw maybe a handful of them late into the game. The other side of each bar corresponds to an element, and reduces elemental damage taken. This actually IS useful, but is not a top priority.

What we’re interested in right now, especially with the difficulty-boosted drops, is the bottom-left quadrant. This segment is all about drop manipulation, and contains four categories that can only be levelled up once each. I first unlocked this one, Cash vs. Kit, for 5 points and naturally set it to “kit” because money is useless in this game.

I then levelled up this one for 10 points. We’ll be setting this to EXP because again, money is useless.

Finally, I spent 15 points to level up this bar, which we’ll be setting to maximum equipment droprate. High-end crafting materials are used for certain sidequests later in the game, but crafting itself is as useless as money.

Shortly afterward, we’re warped back to the sky pirate base… where we’ll pick up next time, when we get introduced to yet another mechanic we will see once and then never, ever touch again.


#14

Update 11: The Plot Climbs Mount Dumbass

So we’re at a point when the plot is about to go straight up Mount Dumbass to Dipshit Peak.

Batu: “And by the look on yer face, ye didn’t come home empty-handed!”

Evan: “No. This is my Kingmaker, Lofty.”

Batu: “Arr… is it indeed?”

Lofty: “OY MATE I’LL HOOK YA ONE RIGHT IN THE GABBER SWEAR ON ME MUM MATE”

So yes, Batu has gone from “Oh hey this kid showed up time to make like a North Korean dictator and execute him” to throwing Evan a feast because he brought Boy Sampson back with him.

I’d like to imagine that Fred went to his boss at this point and was like “Boss, we already have a ton of cutscenes. Couldn’t we just… you know… show them feasting rather than just having a text screen?”

His boss replies “What are we, Naughty Dog? We don’t have the budget or the talent for that, get back to ripping off Nausicaa.”

Evan: “Y-yes?”

Batu: “Well now. There’s a thing. I see something in ye. And I’m not the only one.”

So yes, the plot just reached Dipshit Peak and is raising the celebratory flag. Batu and all of the pirates, who I remind you again were ready to execute a ten year old boy for no reason, now decide to swear their eternal loyalty to him after knowing him for maybe a day.

Oh boy, another cutscene for morons!

Evan: “I am! It happened just as you said it would! I met lots of new people, and made lots of new friends.”

My theory here the first time I played it was that the blue-haired kid really is a Watcher and was using cthonic runes or something to mind control the pirates so they can later feed the giant pregnant demon lady and her flying demon babies in Ending D.

I took a photo of me flipping off this screen but I think it got deleted. Oh well.

Batu: “Now, that’ll be an awful pain in the neck, won’t it? Why, ye could just raid a village somewhere, use that as yer base…”

Roland: “We’re not pirates, understand? Anyway, if we’re going to build a kingdom, we’re going to need a good spot. Location is everything.”

I swear to god, the first time I read this I thought Roland was going to pull what the author of Fables did when he had Bigby spend no fewer than three full pages talking about his views on Israel. That’s an actual thing, by the way.

Roland: “The only way for it to grow is to put itself somewhere out of harm’s way. Anywhere else, and you’ll be overrun before you know it.”

He acts like this is something he actually has experience in.

Tani: “So what kind of place do we need to look for, then?”

Roland: “Someplace difficult to invade, for sure. And with plenty of natural resources. If you’ve got both, you have a chance. Someplace like…”

So yes, there is apparently an area of the world that is perfect for settling… and no one has done it yet.

We’re now in Chapter 3, where we’ll begin Evan’s master plan to conquer the world.

Roland: "Can we fly there?’

Batu: “Well now, it ain’t exactly that we can’t fly there, but it’s the winds o’ Cloudcoil Canyon that set the ol’ sky-skimmers a-soarin’, see. Beyond the bounds o’ the valley, things can get a mite… hairy.”

Evan: “I… see. I think I’d prefer to walk.”

Batu: “Goin’ by land ain’t necessarily much the safer, lad. There’s a gaggle o’ bandits been botherin’ folks down around the ruins there as of late.”

So, someone on Twitter pointed this out because it wasn’t something that I really thought about at the time, but Batu implies that there are already people living in the Heartlands, and…

Roland: “Bandit versus pirates, huh? Sounds like quite the showdown.”

Minus twenty points from Roland, no stupid meme references on my watch.

Tani: “Yeah, and it won’t be pretty.”

Batu: “Then we’ll have to go mob-handed! We’ve a couple o’ halfway decent leaders o’ men among our number.”

So yes, Evan is about to raise an army to go conquer the Heartlands and kick out the existing inhabitants to claim it as his own… so that he can create a world without war where everyone can live happily ever after.

Posting that video was practically obligatory.

KhunbishDingus: “BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD SKULLS FOR THE SKULL THRONE FEED THEIR SOULS TO SLAANESH! WE DO IT FOR CHAAAOOSS!”

We also have Gerel join in. Gerel is actually not part of Evan’s army - she’s the item store owner in the pirate base, and is going to be our first completely willing and not at all forced on the pain of death and the execution of everyone she has ever loved citizen of the new kingdom.

And, in addition…

We also get Batu! I’m going to end this update before we actually reach the pointless minigame section coming up, because it’s time to decide who our party is going to be.

Right now, we have Evan, Roland, Tani, and Batu. As much as I hate Tani, both Evan and Roland use swords… and usually, it’s more efficient to have no more than one party member using a given weapon type at the same time. However, I’m going to let the audience decide.

On my first playthough, I used Evan, Roland, and Tani up until I got a different party member that we won’t be seeing for… probably another 50% of the game.

Tani uses spears, which typically have a lower attack rating than swords but have different specials that usually focus on ranged attacks. She shares a ranged weapon type with Batu - both of them use bows - but that’s not as big of a difference.

Batu, on the other hand, is a hammer user - hammers have the highest attack rating of all melee weapon types, but are also incredibly slow and leave the user wide open to attacks. They’re hell to play as, especially on extreme, but not terrible as party members.

Tani has a bunch of skills that are very difficult to screen capture. She’s the only party member capable of stealing items - though even with items to boost her success rate she’s still pretty bad at it and there’s no good unique steals like in the earlier Final Fantasy games. Interestingly, both of her weapon skills use her bow rather than her spear. One of them fires an AOE explosive arrow, while the other fires a piercing arrow that hits all enemies in a line.

Her spear also has a wide, sweeping arc that can hit flying creatures from the ground.

Batu, on the other hand, only has one useful weapon skill - I have absolutely no idea what his second one does. His weaponskill is… if you’ve ever played DOTA2, it’s Juggernaut’s ultimate. He spins in a circle with his hammer, doing damage to anything caught in the arc.

I’ll leave this up so people can vote on party members. In the meantime… I’m going to need to grind a bit offscreen. You’ll see what I mean.


#15

Evan needs to get used to delegation, so I vote Roland, Tani, and Batu.


#16

Well, there’s only one vote, but it’s the one that counts. We’re going with Roland, Batu, and Tani… right after this update, that is. It won’t matter for this update, and you’ll understand why pretty soon.

Update 12: Pointless Side Mechanics

We’re back outside the pirate fortress again. This time, instead of going to the right (which leads us down to where the wyvern boss was) we’re going to head to the left.

This is largely uneventful… except for this chest here. These blue chests are special - we can’t unlock them until we have a spell that we probably won’t have for another… well, let’s just say several hours of grinding several updates from now. In any case, even once we have that spell we don’t necessarily want to go hunting these down right away because there is a MUCH easier way to do it later on.

From here on out, we’ve unlocked “skirmish battles”. If you’ve played any of the Suikoden games, you probably remember the “strategy battles” that used your party members as units in a turn-based strategy mode. Skirmish battles are to those what Tetra Master in Final Fantasy 9 was to Triple Triad in Final Fantasy 8. By that, I mean it’s a side mechanic that has absolutely no effect on the main game whatsoever.

Skirmish battles look like this on the map - they’re a raised battle flag that glows as you get close. They’ll always have a name and a recommended level that are shown before you go in… but ultimately, that doesn’t matter for reasons I’ll explain as we go through this horribly thought out side mode.

Each skirmish starts out like this, with an overview of the map (all skirmishes take place on the world map with minor alterations) and a count of your units versus theirs. This is not accurate at all: most skirmishes have more than one stage, and this only shows the enemies in the first stage. The numbers next to the crossed swords are “military might” - basically your army’s HP.

Our opponents are some dipshit bandits in masks.

Skirmishes work a little differently than a normal RTS. Evan (and it will always be Evan leading the army even if he’s not in the party) can have up to four units orbiting him. We start with two: a unit of swordsmen and a unit of archers. In addition, there are hammer and spear units as well as gun and wand ranged units.

In battle, Evan has no direct control over his army, other than that we can rotate their positions. On paper, this is because of unit type matchups. In the top-right, you can see the matchups for melee: swords beat hammers, hammers beat spears, spears beat swords. I don’t know what the matchup chart is for ranged weapons because they’re all weak to melee and at high levels skirmishes tend to devolve into you getting surrounded by clusterfucks of units and the whole type thing goes out the window.

There’s also a fourth melee unit type that isn’t officially named but that I’ve termed “crap” - it’s a weapon type only NPCs have that is weak to everything. These guys we’re fighting here are all crap units.

I’ll post the tutorial for this mechanic because it’s something that’s hard to see if it’s not on video: the “might gauge”. This bar automatically refills over time and can be used to either make your units sprint or to make your units attack harder. Most of the time, we want them to be attacking harder. This also helps ignore the whole type matchup thing: if you’re using the might gauge, type matchups go out the window.

So, one of the main problems with this mode is that the AI is absolutely godawful, especially on the ranged units. See these palisades? Palisades register as enemy units: the enemy won’t attack them even if they’re in the way, but at the same time, your ranged units will lock onto them and will keep going until all those walls are down.

I should also mention that the number of soldiers in each unit is kind of like an HP gauge: as they take damage, you’ll lose soldiers and need to spend military might to replace them. The soldiers do not, however, stay near their unit leaders. When I went through this part, I had a single archer stick to the fences and just keep shooting them while the rest of his unit was halfway across the map.

At the top of the hill is more crap and two gun units. Typically, we want to engage ranged units first, since they’re a lot more effective for the AI than they are for us: when the AI uses them, they typically run off on their own while you’re busy fighting off the melee units.

Behind all of the crap units, we run into Stage 2, where this asshole comes in. Apart from being named after a character from NieR, this asshole shows up for his own line of uh… probably six skirmish battles.

We also get the final weapon in our arsenal: special tactics. These absolutely suck, as they cost military might that is better spent on replenishing our ranks and don’t do a whole lot of damage even when they hit.

Chingis (the sword unit leader) can call in the weird Nausicaa planes to do a bombing run. Wait, didn’t these assholes say that the planes don’t work outside Cloudcoil Canyon? Anyway, the bombing run isn’t that big and doesn’t do a whole lot of damage. Khunbish (the archer leader) has a stun that works in a small AOE that would be decent if he was a melee unit, but he isn’t.

You might be asking what’s stopping us from just pulling a Resident Evil and running past everything until we get to the boss. The answer is these gates, which won’t open until all the enemies nearby are dead.

Next up, we have siege towers. Siege towers do (as far as I can tell) a fraction of the damage an archer unit does but have a bit more HP. They’re usually pretty harmless - most of the time, we can just kite the melee units away from it and then deal with it later (or run past it.)

We did lose a bit of military might killing off all the cannon fodder, but there’s usually pickups hidden around the map. Destroying the tower dropped a “medium” boost that more or less restored all of the might we lost getting to it. You might notice the white flag in the middle: enemy structures can be rebuilt for military might, though this isn’t something we typically want to do because of how useless towers are.

Here, we run into the second type of enemy structure: the command post. Command posts will spawn units as long as they are up: though they won’t start spawning until at least one unit is dead - in other words they’re limited to how many they can have out at once. In this tutorial battle we can’t rebuild them, but in regular skirmishes we can. They add a small amount of military might every few seconds and are usually not worth it because it takes a while just to pay off what you spent to rebuild them.

Before we move on to the final stage of this battle, we get a tutorial about shock tactics. This is a bar that builds up as Evan’s army kills things, and once full causes your units to always be effective against all enemy unit types and slows down how fast the might gauge goes down. If you combine this with the “all-out attack” feature of the might gauge, you can do a lot of damage very quickly. So clearly, we need to activate this and…

Actually, there’s no real reason to activate shock tactics here, as all of Tyran’s units are hammers and thus already weak to swords. In addition to that, there’s a tiny little oversight that will allow us to win this fight without taking damage. Not that we need to - I just found this amusing.

So, remember how I said that the palisades count as enemy units, and thus the enemy will not attack them? They won’t attack them… but they’ll still try to attack you if they can see you, even if they do not have a clear path to actually reach you.

Naturally, we just stand on the raised ground just to the right of the palisades - keeping our archers outside of the range where they can attack them. They CAN, however, still attack the units on the ground, and due to an exploit in the way the projectiles work, they can reach Tyran while the wand units on the ground cannot reach them because arrows can arc and fireballs cannot. I went and got a drink and the fight was over when I got back, with no soldiers lost.

Easy money. Our units both level up to 3, which is great because this is the last time we’ll be using them. This is, as far as I remember, the only required skirmish battle in the game… and even if there wind up being one or two more, we’ll have units with better abilities later on.

One final note on these by the way: skirmishes are scattered all over the world map and vary wildly in level: there’s one that spawns not far from where this one ends that is level 20. The trick is that if you’re underlevelled for a skirmish battle, you can simply go in, let your units kill a few things to level up, and then lose. Your units keep any levels they gained even if you game over… so you can just keep grinding those for like half an hour and you’ll be at level 20.

We do get some small crafting material rewards, but nothing too unique. I also went ahead and changed the party over. We’ll stop here, since next update is going to start with a cutscene.


#17

Update 13: What Natural Resources?

Welcome to the Heartlands, where we are about to be sent on a nonsense quest that has no reason to exist other than to advance the plot. I’d like you to notice in these shots that there are a whole bunch of trees in this grassy steppe we’ve taken over.

All hail Evan, king of what is basically a hobo camp in the middle of nowhere.

Roland: “But we can’t live in tents forever. We’ll need to think about putting something more permanent in place. And for that, we’ll need natural resources.”

Well that’s great! We’ve got all those ruins you could probably repurpose for worked stone, and trees all over the place.

Evan: “Ah yes, building materials.”

Roland: “Right. Some high-quality wood would be a start.”

Great! We’ll just send Batu out to chop some of these trees down and get a lumber mill going and…

… What. The ENTIRE REASON you built here was because of the natural resources! There are trees literally all around you!

Tani: “You can’t just go chopping down trees willy-nilly! What do you think Niall will have to say about that?”

Roland: “I’m guessing he’s the owner of this forest?”

Tani: “Yes. He’s the leader of the greenlings - they’re the creatures who live there. Nothing happens in his woods without his permission.”

I mean, we do have an army here… and a pile of corpses rotting probably several hundred feet away. What’s a few more corpses for the pile? Raise the army, boys!

Evan: “Then we must go and speak with him. I’m sure he’ll give us his blessing if we explain the situation.”

Batu: “Ha! Ye’ve clearly not met Niall, lad! He’s an incurable old skinflint. Tighter than a hangman’s noose, he is. Ye’ll get nothing out of him for free, mark my words!”

So yes, we just built a kingdom in a spot where we apparently do not have access to the materials needed to actually build the kingdom.

Now we’re off to the Forest of Niall, which is a bit of a walk from our hobo encampment. In the meantime, since all the images for this update up to this point were actually taken when I was doing the prior update, I’d like to talk about something I just saw, namely the announcement about DLC for this game.

Ni no Kuni 2 launched with a Season Pass for DLC, which I absolutely did not buy. The game has been out for almost five months and only just had an announcement about it: essentially, most of the DLC is costumes and a single dungeon that’s coming out sometime this winter, with the actual story DLC not coming out until probably March or April of next year. Hopefully, I’ll be long since done with this game by then, but if not, don’t expect me to do the story DLC unless it’s really, really good.

I had to reload this area a few times to get through it. You might notice that Goo enemy is level 15 - Tani is only level 9, and Roland and Batu are both 12. I was getting oneshotted by common enemies and the game was being really stingy with weapon drops.

There’s also a new enemy type not far from the new kingdom - the Manitcore. I got these things confused with Wyverns: these are the enemies that are always encountered alone and have boss HP bars. Note that I was dumb enough to do this one on extreme. They aren’t QUITE so instakill happy on Normal, though they still do a ton of damage.

Their main attack consists of jumping a bunch and (on extreme at least) instakilling anyone who gets caught when they land.

They do have one weakness: they like to roar after their jump combo, which gives you a few seconds to hit them before they start instakilling your party again.

Thankfully, Boy Sampson dropped an Awakening Orb. It’s kind of hard to see due to the background, but they’re glowing yellow orbs that Boy Sampson will occasionally toss out in battle. There’s a way to raise his chances of doing it, but it’s not really worth the grind.

Collecting one of these before they disappear causes your character to temporarily go Super Saiyan, complete with a powerup cutscene.

You can see that my MP gauge is now replaced with a yellow bar - this is “awakening mode”. In this mode, special attacks do not cost MP and are guaranteed to knock down enemies. The problem is that I was playing as Batu, who only has one knockdown attack… which is at the very end of his spin attack that has an extremely long animation. It was kind of a miracle I was able to knock this thing down.

The final attack these assholes have is a charge-up followed by an AOE explosion that can and will instakill people.

At this point in the game, even after levelling to 13, Roland has about 550 HP. That attack just did 667 damage to him. The Manticore killed Tani with a jump attack not even seconds later.

Thankfully, its HP was low enough that I could just barely kill it before it started jumping again.

On our way to the forest, we find this fucker - this is called a tainted monster, and is basically a superboss. Unfortunately, even on Normal, we stand absolutely no chance against it.

This was ONE ATTACK from the boss.

Thankfully, shortly after, I found a weapon for Roland that was good enough to bring him to Batu’s level.

Welcome to the area just outside the Forest of Niall. There’s a couple of things here we won’t be seeing for some time. For right now, we’re going to take the most direct route we can to the forest.

This is where we start running into the first palette-swapped enemies: Grimchillas are upgraded Whamsters, and Sylphies are purple versions of those fairy enemies we fought in Cloudcoil Canyon. I grinded a bit here and got Roland and Batu up to level 15.

With this new sword, Roland does pretty respectible damage… for extreme mode.

The forest itself is just over there.

Tani: “That writing - those are the weird squiggles they use in Goldpaw, right?”

Roland: “Goldpaw?”

Evan: “It’s a kingdom on the other side of the forest. There are even more people there than in Ding Dong Dell.”

Right he is. The Forest of Niall is a dungeon, though we’ll only be seeing the first half of it right now. The route that takes us to where Niall himself is will allow us to bypass most of the enemies that spawn here, but there is a new (and highly annoying on expert) enemy type here. There’s a tainted one of these much later on that I don’t think I ever bothered to kill on my first run.

Meet the Mumshroom. If Dark Souls taught us anything, it’s that you should never fuck with sentient mushrooms unless you have a giant fuckoff greatsword or can hurl soul spears. Mumshrooms are immobile, and spend most of their time crapping out giant white spore balls.

Said spore balls do a shit-ton of damage if they hit, and also spawn these smaller mushrooms. The mumshroom also has an attack I wasn’t able to capture where they just kinda breathe at you that does some 500 damage on extreme.

Niall’s house is maybe two minutes across the map.

The dipshit cat is Floyd, who will eventually become Evan’s royal chef… once we actually have a kingdom.

If it were up to me, I’d stick this guy in idiot prison and just go on with the game.

We now have our second all-too-willing citizen. Floyd is one of the only citizens we’ll get for free, and also one of the most worthless.

Next time, we’ll visit Niall and head on to Goldpaw.


#18

Update 14: Niall

Now that we’ve rid them of their Floyd problem, we can go in and see Niall.

Niall is basically the answer to the question, “What if Master Roshi was a Saibaman, and also Irish?”

Evan: “Um…yes.”

Niall: “Good luck with that, pal.”

Niall: “Next time, instead of sending some snotty wee urchin tae do his dirty work, tell yer king tae come and ask me himself, eh?”

I like how he can look down on Evan when he’s wearing what appears to be a pile of shit on his head. Seriously, tell me that doesn’t look like a cartoon turd.

Evan: “I… I am the king.”

Niall: “Oh, aye? D’ye think I was born yesterday? Nope. I’ll speak tae yer king and none other. And I’ll make no promises even then.”

Evan: “I said, I am the king!”

Roland: “He is. This is his Kingmaker right here.”

Lofty: [incomprehensible gurgling]

What he means is that Evan didn’t call him out on wearing a pile of shit on his head.

Evan: “You… you don’t see any of those things in me?”

In addition to being the worst character, it’s almost impossible to get a screenshot of Tani where she doesn’t look incredibly constipated.

Tani: “And now he’s trying to build a whole new kingdom! And it’s going to be amazing!”

Niall: “Crikey o’blimey! That’s a right auld tale! So ye’re tellin’ me ye’re young Evan? The lad t hey were sayin’ perished in the troubles over that way?”

Niall: “Well, that’s all well and good - I love a bit o’ drama as much as the next man - but I cannae give youse what ye need. Auld Puggie’s the one youse want tae speak tae.”

In voiceacting form, Niall’s VA actually manages to (mostly) keep the accent stable, but in subtitle form it sounds like he’s half Irish, half 1930s Chicago gangster.

Tani: “You mean Pugnacius? From Goldpaw?”

Roland: “Who’s that, exactly?”

So, as soon as we get to Goldpaw, you’ll learn that as much of a terrible and completely unrealistic idea as Evan’s new kingdom is, all of the other kingdoms in the world are even dumber.

Niall: “Aye, that’s the fella! Invited me over for a wee shake o’ the auld dice, and before I knew it, I’d lost ma shirt!”

Niall: “Now his flunkies are trampin’ through mah lovely wood, stickin’ nonsense on trees and tryin’ tae boot me out on mah behind, the heartless devils!”

Roland: “So, those things on the trees… they’re eviction notices?”

Evan: “Which means the Forest of Niall is now the Forest of Pugnacius.”

Batu: “I’ve a inkin’ ye’ve been biled, old-timer. The games over in Goldpaw’re said to be rigged to beggary.”

Sometimes I swear that there’s some sort of multi-million dollar industry revolving around the use of apostrophes, and said industry was paying the writers every time they used one in dialogue. Only way to explain why there’s so fucking many of them.

Niall: “Aye, that they are! Crooked as a dog’s hind leg, the lot of them!”

Roland’s expression here tells me that the first thing he’s doing when he gets back to the post-apocalyptic U.S. is having the Pentagon develop rigged dice so he can try to con the Italian government into wagering Rome on a dice game. Something tells me Italy would go for it.

Roland: “I have a proposition for you, Niall. We need wood- lots of wood. If we get you your forest back, will you give us what we need?”

Niall: “Are ye jokin’? If ye get me mah forest back, I’ll chop down the trees meself!”

After a little more dialog (which I’ll skip, but it’s basically Roland pretending to ask Evan for the okay) we’re off to Goldpaw.

Goldpaw is on the other side of the Forest of Niall. It takes… maybe five minutes to get there walking.

The area outside is shaped like a giant zen rock garden, and is filled with enemies. There are actually more than a few manticores in here, which we want to avoid because we’re playing on Extreme still.

Other than that, most of the enemies are the same things we’ve fought before. In fact, there are only two “new” enemies here - both are fire-themed recolors of enemies from the forest.

Apart from being a different element and doing more damage, they’re really not any different than the ones we’ve fought already.

We mostly want to avoid combat on the way in, because as far as I can tell, the game decides when to start dropping better equipment based on your progress in the story: the drops I got from the monsters on the way in were identical to the ones we were seeing even as far back as Cloudcoil Canyon, but once I got past the series of cutscenes we’re coming up to, the drops changed.

Also, I kind of played a ton of Monster Hunter World, and kept getting the controls confused, so there’s that too.

We also definitely want to grab this trip door - there are a number of sidequests that take place out in the giant zen garden later on.

Welcome to Goldpaw, the Chinese/Japanese fusion town populated entirely by dog furries.

Tani: “I heard Goldpaw was showy, but… blimey…”

Lofty: “Beautiful, en’t it? I have a feeling I’m gonna like this place!”

Roland: “So the government runs the casinos, huh? Guess we’d better go find Pugnacius.”

Roland immediately forms a plan to rebuild post-apocalyptic New York as a giant, government-run casino.

Evan: “Yes! I’m sure if we ask nicely, he’ll soon see sense and let Niall have his forest back!”

Evan: “Although, I’m not exactly sure where to look for him…”

Tani: “It’ll be the big castle-looking thingy up at the top of town there, wouldn’t it? That looks like where a Grand High Roller would live to me.”

Goldpaw is so large that it has trip doors of its own. I shit you not that when I was recording this, I actually thought to myself “Oh right I have to grab all of them so I can get the ones that lead outside” and then remembered that no, this is not Final Fantasy 14. Realistically though, we do want to grab all of these because Goldpaw is home to just over a third of all of the sidequests in this game.

We also run into our first restaurant - there’s one in every major city, though later on we’ll be able to make our own meals. These are basically the food buffs from Monster Hunter: you eat them and you get a timed buff. I honestly never used these at all during my first playthrough.

Also of note is the first real weapons shop in the game. Most of the time, stuff you buy from the store sucks, but I found a spear for Tani that doubled her damage, so I went ahead and got one of those.

Just north of the shops is the inn, which works like it does in any JRPG. I’m not sure why you’d ever use it, because in most cases it’d be cheaper to just heal with items.

There’s also the casino, which disappointingly does not allow us to gamble.

One final trip door before we reach our destination: the “Goddess of Fortune” statue.

Evan: “It sounds like a festival of some sort.”

Batu: “And what happens then?”

Tani: “You’re joking! How’s anyone meant to afford that?”

You know, it’s a wonder that Goldpaw has not yet collapsed from its own stupidity.

Roland: “Wow, that sounds… risky.”

You know, I can’t help but feel that somehow, this is kinda racist.

There are a lot of things I really don’t like about this scene, mostly because there’s something that should be in this scene that isn’t, and it kind of ruins the consistency of things.

Since I don’t have the ability to record, the die lands on five but then makes a very obvious jump to the six.

Next time, we’ll watch Evan spiral into a gambling addiction and find out the very obvious solution to this mystery.


#19

Update 15: Stupidity In Action

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Yes, yes it was. We now need to go attempt to meet with him, only…

There’s this asshole in the way.

Roland: “How about we play you for the chance to see him? Put the decision in the hands of the Mistress of Fortune.”

Now, if you’ll remember from all of one update ago, Batu said that all of the gambling in Goldpaw is believed to be rigged. In fact, Roland himself saw mere seconds ago that the die on the statue is rigged.

The game makes a big deal out of this - the guard all but tells us to go and save before we do anything.

For this point in the game, 1000 guilders is actually a fairly sizeable sum of money. Most enemies at this point are still dropping money in the single or low double digits. Right now, we have about 3000 guilders, but most of that came from chests or selling all of the junk equipment I picked up off-screen.

The game goes into a short explanation of how this works, but it’s basically a modified version of cee-lo, which you might’ve seen in Suikoden or Yakuza. In theory, the way it works is that this dipshit rolls two dice, and then Evan gets the chance to gamble on whether the sum of those two dice plus a third one will be greater than/equal to (“Red”) or less than (“Black”) 11. All 1s counts as Red, while all 6s counts as Black.

So, if this is your first time playing Ni no Kuni 2, you might think “Oh shit, this is going to be one of those Leisure Suit Larry moments where you have to play the slot machine to get enough money to actually finish the game and can game over on the slots”. That’s actually kind of how I thought, even though on the whole the game is generally not that much of a dick. The guard will actually repeat the rules if you ask.

Strangely, though, there’s no mention of what happens if the dice land on exactly 11.

Roland: “They seem fair enough. Slightly in our favor, if anything.”

Batu: “That’s a fine set o’ dice there, matey. They’ll be worth a pretty penny, I shouldn’t wonder.”

Anyway, he starts us off by rolling two dice.

At 7, we theoretically have a 50/50 shot at being right - a 1, 2, or 3 will make Black win, while a 4, 5, or 6 will make Red win. Now, we’ve already seen that the big statue is rigged. Care to guess what happens next? I picked Black, by the way.

The die comes up a one, and then in a very un-natural fashion the third die shifts back to six, causing us to lose. I couldn’t really capture it very well here, but we actually have to do this two more times. No, seriously.

Evan: “Oh no, we lost! Uh… might you consider playing another round?”

Now at this point, Roland, being the responsible adult in the party, should probably step in and stop the ten year old boy from gambling any more. But no.

Aaaaand… Evan’s already a gambling addict.

Roland: “What are you doing, Evan?!”

Lofty: “Go on, son! Waste all of Roland’s money on dice games! Slash his tires! Maim! Burn! Kill!”

The second time around, the guard will roll two ones. Naturally, you’d take the non-sucker bet that has a 5/6 chance of winning. Instead though…

Who would’ve guessed that a guy using loaded dice would… keep using the loaded dice to win? The game really hits you over the head with this. We actually do it one more time, and you can more or less guess how that goes.

This is actually a Lupin III plot, by the way. This entire section of the game rips off a lot from Lupin (which Hayao Miyazaki and some other Ghibli employees worked on before Ghibli existed).

Evan: “I’ll do it this time!”

Tani: “Seriously, Evan, are you a complete numbskull?! Give up!”

Evan: “Wh- but I’m doing so well!”

So now Evan gets tasked with stealing a diamond from some Chinese mafia guy who keeps it in a safe that has been eaten by a shark that lives in a skyscraper that gets pulled around Tokyo by helicopter. He spends the entire episode getting it, gives it to the dog, who pulls off his mask to reveal he’s actually Fujiko Mine in disguise. Evan then walks away and points out to Batu that he replaced the diamond with a diamond-shaped explosive. Fujiko loses the fake diamond in the breeze and it explodes on Zenigata, who was sitting in the sewers the entire time. Roll credits.

Batu: “Ten million?! Ye dog, ye! T’was only a thousand a minute ago!”

Evan: “W-we don’t have anywhere near that much!”

So yeah, this guy is just straight up playing Yu-gi-oh now.

So yeah, these little shits are called duebills, and even though we never saw a single one on our way into town, we’ll now see that most people in Goldpaw have one.

Roland: “So, about that dice game - I couldn’t help noticing something fishy about how the third die was moving.”

Tani: “You spotted it too! I was thinking the exact same thing.”

Evan: “Really?”

Batu: “Heh, I was so lost in the game there, it slipped me notice, I have to say.”

Roland: “It wouldn’t surprise me if there were more to that die than meets the eye.”

Batu: “The swab said they was special dice, only for bigwigs or somesuch, did he not?”

Evan: “If we could get our hands on one, we might be able to find some proof that he was cheating.”

Roland: “Why don’t we take a look at the casino? The government runs it, right? So it’ll be full of government employees - and dice.”

Tani: “Motion seconded!”

Evan: “Erm… thirded!”

I think what Roland is thinking of is his state department, since that would explain how New York got nuked with zero warning and without him having any idea who or why, but sure.

We now have a new objective. There’s a trip door right outside the casino, but I actually forgot to grab it on the way in. Even if we had it, it’d be locked right now.

So you might be asking “Isn’t this just a single really, really long cutscene?” and you’d be absolutely right. This entire scene from the point where we entered Goldpaw to where I saved after I took the screenshots for this update is about 40 minutes long. I’m going to skip the inside of the casino, because it’s just reiterating what we already know.

Evan: “And it seems they really are a little fishy…”

Batu just picks up the idiot ball and eats it. Seriously though, the game might as well be a VN at this point.

Tani: “… You didn’t, did you? Oh, you did, you big wally!”

Batu: “Gah! I couldn’t help meself! Stand by an’ watch while there’s fun to be had? That ain’t me way, girlie!”

Lofty: “Aaand how much did you lose exactly, if youell excuse me a little pry.”

Batu: “Oh, ah… mere pennies, little feller, mere pennies!”

Tani: “Pff. Well, let’s forget about our friend the genius here for a moment, shall we? There’s something I want to show you. I can’t do it here, though. Shall we take this somewhere a little quieter?”

The casino isn’t actually that far from the inn, but we can get there “instantly” after a load screen if we use the trip door.

Tani: “Heh, heh! Your favorite little scallywag only went and swiped herself a dice!”

Evan: “You mean you… stole one?”

Tani: “Pah! Stole, borrowed, whatever helps you sleep at night.”

For some reason, none of these shots turned out that great, but Tani shows us the mystery of the dice.

Basically, each side is a button that when pressed, causes the die to come up on that side.

Roland: “This is how they’ve been doing it, huh?”

Batu: “The scurvy mutt blockin’ our path to Pugnacius had the selfsame dice, so he did!”

Evan: “Well, what are we waiting for? Let’s go and tell him his secret is out!”

Roland: “He’ll just deny it. Besides, it’s better he doesn’t know that we have it for now.”

Lofty: “I see where youer goin’! Very crafty! I likes it.”

There’s a scene of Lofty mumbling with the party just before this, so that’s the context.

Next time, we’ll give the guard a taste of his own rigged dice game.


#20

Update 16: Boy Sampson Strikes Again

Evan: “No, I’ve come to play another round.”

Evan: “Oh, I’m not losing this time! I’m counting on you, Lofty!”

Evan: “Red!”

Somehow, I have the distinct feeling that if Miyazaki had anything to do with this game, he would’ve absolutely vetoed this scene.

So yes, we are at grade school levels of juvenile at this point.

Tani: “How would we have done that, exactly? It’s yours! You rolled it!”

Tani: “Or are you saying you had some nasty little trick up your sleeve and it didn’t work?”

So yes, for those keeping track, we are still in cutscene land. At this point, the save I’m using for this is almost four hours in. Oh, and now we find out that Pugnacius has a grand vizier. Say, don’t you remind me of somebody?

Oh, right. In case you haven’t played Final Fantasy 14, that’s Lahabrea, the main villain of both A Realm Reborn and the Heavensward ex-pac.

Pugnacius: “Well, well. And what exactly is going on here?”

Interestingly, I don’t think we ever actually meet the vizier or learn his name other than this one text box.

Evan: “Master Pugnacius! How glad I am to meet you at last. We were sent here on urgent business from Niall!”

Tani: “Yeah, but your stupid gatekeeper tricked us into owing him a fortune, and he still won’t let us in!”

Roland: “Is this how Goldpaw treats its guests?”

Pugnacius: “Forgive my foolish underling. If my good friend Niall sent you, it can be no trifling matter. That much should have been plain.”

Pugnacius: “And to resort to base deceit? An unforgivable transgression. Your debts shall be annulled, of course.”

RIP annoying-ass bird. I find it kind of funny that he also gets rid of Batu’s, despite the fact that Batu got his from the casino rather than from the doorman.

Pugnacius’s castle is now open to us. There’s nothing here - just a hallway leading straight to the throne.

Evan: “We have come to ask that you return his forest to him.”

Pugnacius: “Ahh, but of course. He has sent you to beg for it on his behalf.”

Pugnacius: “And why would I simply return it? I won it from him in a game of chance. It was as fortune willed it.”

Roland: “Was it? We couldn’t help but notice how much cheating goes on in this kingdom of chance.”

This feels like it could be a Phoenix Wright case, with all these weird twists and turns.

Roland: “Huh?!”

Pugnacius: “Our friend outside may have been capable of base trickery, but the Mistress of Fortune? I think not.”

Batu: “So he wasn’t even playin’ with their pifflin’ casino dices?”

Evan: “No, the one we saw in the ceremony is much bigger.”

Roland: “That doesn’t mean someone couldn’t have messed with it.”

Pugnacius: “You would accuse our most sacred symbol of trickery? It is a preposterous idea. But you are welcome to examine Her if it please you.”

Pugnacius: “I would warn you to proceed with the utmost care when doing so - the people of Goldpaw will not take such an intrusion lightly.”

Roland: “Thanks. I think we’ll take you up on that.”

I’m going to skip a small bit of this cutscene because it has gone on for way too long.

Evan: “Have you found anything, Lofty?”

Lofty: “Nothin’ much, no. Unless you count the biggest flippin’ jumble of wards an’ charms an’ magic-repellin’ doodads as I’ve ever seen in my life!”

Lofty: “Other than that… wood’s nice, all smooth and shiny. Yeah, it’s quality stuff, this.”

Lofty: “Oy! Watch who youer callin’ a pet, pally-o!”

Evan: “Master Pugnacius gave us permission to look at the die and-”

Tani: “And make sure there’s no funny business going on!”

This old guy doesn’t seem very laid-back.

Roland: “It sure is. I’ll bet the statue must take some serious looking after. And that die, too.”

Long story short, we need to go back to the forest. I feel like this entire segment is way too long for what it is.

Thankfully, we can warp to just outside Niall’s chamber. The game is always nice enough that it will mark the closest warp point to whatever objective it is you have. You can even do this for sidequests… not that we have any.

Evan: “Umm, well… we didn’t manage to get your forest back quite yet…”

Roland: “But we did find out the game is rigged all the way to the top.”

Niall: “I knew it! The crafty wee roasters!”

Tani: “Now all we need is to get some proof that there’s funny business afoot with Lady Luck as well.”

Evan: “You haven’t noticed people from Goldpaw doing anything strange in the woods lately, have you?”

Niall: “Well, they were up to something toward the Auld Woods there, but to be honest there were so many of the beggars traipsing in and out, I couldnae keep track of 'em all.”

Roland: “Maybe that’s where they’re making the dice…”

Quicken Growth is another spell like the one we got in Cloudcoil Canyon. This one lets us make mushrooms into platforms.

On the way out, we can see that one of Niall’s idiots got scammed as well.

On the other side of Niall’s tree is this: a wall going over a convienient rift in the ground. Even without Evan in the party, Roland can cast the spell.

No, Evan, that’s called puberty and - oh, you mean the mushrooms.

The Auld Woods is actually a pretty sorry excuse for a dungeon. It’s really just a small maze with all of three groups of enemies inside, all of which we’ve seen before.

Near the end is a trip door and save point. If you ever decide to play this game yourself (please don’t) you’ll want to equip Evan with your second-best equipment even if you’re not using him, because we won’t have another chance to do it once we get past this point.

That’s what we’re looking for, the secret Goldpaw dice factory. One thing I don’t like in games is when an area is designed where there’s no reasonable way people could get through it - there’s an entire factory of workers back here who managed to cross that rift in the ground without casting quicken growth and going over it or leaving a bridge behind.

Evan: “So this is where they’re making the trick dice…”

Tani: “How shall we do it? Charge in shouting our heads off?”

Roland: “No. We can’t draw attention to ourselves. We need to slip in undetected and find out what they’re doing.”

I thought about this for a second, because logically there shouldn’t be cellphones or other electronic forms of communication in a medieval isekai realm, but then I remembered that they have tablets and social media.

Batu: “Hide yerselves! Some swab’s a-comin!”

Batu: “Arr, I’ve a mighty fine idea all of a sudden.”

So yeah, this is entirely ripped from 70s-era Lupin III, where this exact scene is something Lupin did at least once per episode. In the new series, not so much. Just try not to think too hard about the fact that Evan and Roland, who are both human, are trying to sneak into a factory belonging to a country where probably 99% of the permanent population are anthropomorphic dogs.

Evan: “Are you sure this will work?”

Batu: “Only one way to find out, lad. We’ll keep watch out here. Off ye go and sneak into that there dice factory!”

Next time, we’ll sneak into the dice factory, have a mini-boss fight, and then probably have our first real boss fight.


#21

Update 17: A Trash Mini-Boss

There’s a really brief shot of a dog-man passing them by as they enter. It’ll be in the mini-boss video at the end.

Roland: “All right, we need at least two forms of proof. The first is some kind of evidence tying Pugnacius directly to the deception - some kind of documentary evidence would be ideal. The next is evidence of how they’re manipulating the dice. I’m guessing they’re not using magic.”

Roland: “Oh, there are ways. Where I’m from, we have a few different techniques for manipulating things from a distance. It wouldn’t surprise me if someone here developed something similar.”

You can’t see it here since I forgot to screenshot it, but this building is shaped like a Y.

I think you’re meant to just examine everything the first time you play, but it’s kind of obvious where the stuff is when you think about it. Also, have a shot of the one token human who works here so this entire facade kind of makes sense I guess?

The first branch of the Y has a rack of meticulously kept ledgers along with a signed “I DID IT” letter.

By “these”, Roland means the source code for this game, and by someone, he means “literally everyone at Level 5 except Fred.”

If you look at the minimap, you can see the other end of the Y where we found the letter. No points for creative level design here.

I feel like there’s a few different ways they could’ve done this part better - maybe had this area be a dungeon and scattered the items a bit better. But no, it’s just a Y. Let’s just leave this hole and go punch that stupid dog right in his-

Well, shit. This is why I said you want to equip Evan with your second-best (or best) gear before you go into the factory - we are required to use Evan and Roland for this fight.

Meet the Mossy Monument. This is essentially a mini-boss: we’ll encounter a bunch of them as regular enemies soon enough.

Now, those of you following the LP closely might realize I forgot to do one very important thing before fighting this boss.

That’s right, I forgot to take it off Extreme difficulty. Whoops. This enemy type is easily one of the most annoying in the game. Most of the time, it’s either doing a puncho combo or spinning around and punching shit, meaning that it is very difficult to get MP back.

I spent most of my time getting exploded until Roland and Evan died, at which point I quit out and reloaded on Normal.

Here’s a video of the Mossy Monument fight, not that anyone is going to watch it. After the fight…

Tani: “Looks like the people in the factory didn’t notice either. We got lucky there.”

Batu: “Well, did ye find yer precious proof?”

Evan: “Yes! We found the device Pugnacius uses to control the die’s movement!”

Batu: “Arr, that’s the stuff, lad! Now we can hang this swindlin’ dog out to dry!”

So, this is actually completely out-of-character for Roland, and I’m wondering if the writers added this in specifically to address how incompetent Roland looks as a leader.

Roland: “If it doesn’t go well for us, things could get ugly. And if they go really badly, you could be making an enemy of an entire nation. Are you willing to take that risk?”

Evan: “We have to give the people of Goldpaw their country back!”

Roland: “…You really are starting to sound like a king, you know that? All right, our leader has set out his policy… and now it’s time to implement it!”

Before we leave, there’s a Higglestone here that we can get fairly easily.

This gets us our first water-element higgledy, which is useful because it automatically applies a defense down debuff to all enemies. It absolutely sucks for anything else.

We might as well just warp right back to Goldpaw.

Evan: “Master Pugnacius! You have deceived Niall and your own people! The very people you’re supposed to serve!”

Pugnacius: “More wild accusations? And where is your proof, hmm?”

Pugnacius: “Did you find evidence of trickery? Some ingenious device hidden inside Lady Luck, perhaps?”

Roland: “Come on, you know we’re onto you. Why not drop the act?”

Pugnacius: “There is no ‘act’ to drop. I am innocent, as the Mistress of Fortune herself will attest.”

Pugnacius: “Hm. It sounds like a very fine idea indeed. Yes, this is the way of Goldpaw. All matters of state, be they legal, political, or otherwise, are decided by a roll of the dice.”

I know there have to be people at Level 5 who have played the Ace Attorney games, because that is more or less exactly what this sounds like, specifically Spirit of Justice on the 3DS.

Pugnacius: “Do you accept my terms?”

Evan: “We do!”

Next update, we’ll have ourselves a sham of a trial, followed by a sham of a bossfight.