Monday, May 2, 2011

Fun With Mad Science/Magic

I recently did a very brief review of the Mardek games.

Beyond the sense of humor...

...there's the fact that the gameplay is genuinely interesting and clever.

Thus far, my favorite character(s) is/are the above, Legion, a robot that ended up with four souls living in it. (Baron von Doomkill is only one of them.) Legion is similar to Final Fantasy's blue mages, who learn magic used by enemies; the way (t)he(y) learns it is by being hit by it. Legion learns attacks instantly upon being hit, although (t)he(y) can't learn every attack, and there's no way of predicting which will or won't be learned. This means that Legion can learn a completely new ability in the middle of a battle, and this has potential for crazy situations. Legion is also the only character who can be targeted by the skill Repair, which not only heals him for a large amount, but boosts his stats for the duration of the battle.

In fact, I already have a completely nutty story about using Legion in battle, despite having played with him/them for, oh, all of half an hour.

In one of the game's regions, the Dream World, there's an enemy called a Pixie. Don't think it's a harmless little creature, it's actually among the nastiest enemies you can encounter randomly. It's immune to most of the elements your characters can use, is guaranteed to dodge physical attacks an average of 60% of the time regardless of how fast your characters are (its stats that determine how often it should dodge otherwise are also quite high, meaning that your chances of hitting it are really low), and it has a huge variety of devastating status effect-inflicting attacks. Only one of your characters has a magic attack that can work on it consistently, and that character is also the easiest one to knock out. Ironically, Pixies have fewer than 250 hitpoints, which makes it all the more frustrating.

And, oh yeah, it also gains every positive status effect in the game at the start of a battle. That's Barrier (halves all physical damage), Magic Barrier (halves all magic damage), Haste (gets two turns per round), and Regeneration (heals a small fraction of its health every turn).

Anyway, I decided I wanted to try to get Legion to learn some attacks from Dream World monsters, as they tend to have elements that other enemies don't have much in the way of resistance to. However, I forgot to take my party member who can cast Light element attack spells, and naturally randomly encountered a Pixie right out of the gate.

And as Pixies are wont to do, the little devil cast Addle Gas on my whole party right at the start of the battle, which Confused everybody... except Legion, who isn't immune, but was apparently lucky. (Confusion is the game's "make the victim attack completely at random" status effect-which isn't as bad as it is in some games I've played, as being hit by a physical attack snaps them out of it. Hilariously, Confused characters and enemies may attack themselves.) Legion's turn came up... and I had Legion cast Addle Gas, which (t)he(y) had just learned.

Pixies aren't immune to Confusion.

The Pixie's confuzzlement gave me a breather, and my party recovered. However, I had no way to damage the Pixie reliably (my party really wasn't optimized to fight it, although in my defense, it's really hard to optimize for the Dream World), except for giving it Poison... which was canceled out by the Regeneration it had. And it was still attacking my party periodically.

Then it hit itself with an attack that Silenced it, meaning it couldn't use magic anymore. Cue the Pixie attacking repeatedly with its only physical attack, Poison Sting, which dealt only five to fifteen damage and sometimes inflicts poison. I had two party members who could remove Poison, so this wasn't a problem. (Hitpoints were in the high triple-digits for the entire party at this point.)

That still left the problem of who could deal damage. Mardek was equipped with a water-element sword, which was useless because the Pixie was immune, and also had an air attack (the Pixie was immune to that too). My other characters could deal a variety of elemental damage, but all of it was in the four "classical" elements, which as noted the Pixie is still immune to. The only damage type that I had access to which would damage the Pixie was "physical" damage, a non-elemental damage type... and the only character which could deal it was Legion, my lowest-level and slowest character.

(I suppose I might possibly have run away, but where's the fun in that? I also forget about escape options all the time, and in fact I think I've only ever run away by accident.)

Then I remembered that Legion had also learned a form of dark elemental damage, and tried that, hoping it would get past the evasion ability. I got a few hits in with it, but it ultimately didn't work well enough.

And then I remembered the aforementioned Repair ability. I had the character who uses it spam it like crazy while having Legion take swings at the Pixie in hopes of making a blind hit.

Eventually, Legion managed to get in two blows this way, bringing the Pixie down to just ten hitpoints. So close... And then Poison kicked in before the Regeneration, taking those last ten hitpoints.

That was possibly the most fun I've ever had in a computer/video game RPG.

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