Well, I got past the boss. Not sure how. I got her death cut scene when her health bar still seemed to be about a third full. Random.
This game is really is rough as heck. It’s great fun, but it keeps glitching and I get an error message (which it recovers from eventually) when I turn the PSP on. Could be issues with the shiny new PSP hardware or new firmware, I suppose, though it could just be the low budget.
It’s a good game, though, despite anything, if you ignore that first boss. I get the impression that I’ll be giving up when I get to the next one, unless I can somehow glitch past it.
Oh, wait, I’ve got to a boss. A horribly annoying boss.
Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?
I’m not very good at this one, either. I’m all right at surviving and getting through levels, but I’m terrible at scoring and racking up combos. It’s still fun, but it’s depressing to get through a level and then be way off even a bronze medal. Hopefully I’ll be able to come back later when I’ve got a bit better.
Specifically, Gradius Gaiden, which I’ve never played before. I’ve yet to get off the first level, but I have managed to reach the boss. Once.
Yeah, I’m not very good. For some reason I’m much better at vertically scrolling shooters than horizontally scrolling ones. No idea why.
Sometimes I just need me some OutRun.
Evidence is mounting that this game is something truly special. I brought my PSP into work today because I couldn’t wait until this evening before trying that battle again.
So I’ve just spent a very pleasant half of a lunch time once again attempting to defend the Bastille of the Augustins. And this time, I won. I tried a new placement for my troops, which initially seemed to be very unsuccessful. Marcel fell early, because I forgot that enemies could climb ladders. (I know, I know, I’m rubbish.) Roger didn’t last much longer, but he got some good hits in before he died.
Things were looking bad, but I stayed further down the stairs than I have before and that let me open up some gaps in the flood of enemies trying to attack me. Enough of a gap for Jeanne to be able to transform and hack her way out.
(Gaming mechanic explanation time. Jeanne can tansform into a more powerful version of herself once she’s built up enough skill points in a battle. Her best extra skill after transformation is Godspeed, which lets her move and attack again if she defeats an enemy, rather than her turn ending as it normally would. So if you’ve weakened some enemies down to the point where they’re killable in one hit, you can send her all around the map slicing and dicing in a single turn. The transformation only lasts a couple of turns, but if you can create the right opening, the effects can be devasting.)
She killed, I think, four enemies in that one turn, two weakened enemy soldiers, a full-strength mage and a full-strength priestess. The magic users tend to hang back, but by using the soldiers as stepping stones I managed to get Jeanne out to them.
On the next turn, Liane was killed because she’d selflessly been healing Jean rather than herself, but that wasn’t enough to stop me. Turn nine came around, the final enemy fell and Jean and Jeanne stood proud on the battlefield. Hoorah!
It’s amazing how powerful Jeanne’s transformation can be if the conditions are right. Getting those conditions, though, is the hard part. You can certainly improve those odds – like leaving two routes down the stairs by defending lower down – but I think luck’s always going to play a part, except for those really anal types who pour over moves for half an hour at a time and can remember how much different attacks do against different enemies.
I was doing well, with a slightly modified version of my previous tactics, when I forgot that Jeanne had to survive this battle and sent her off into the middle of a scrum of enemies, without even noticing she only had half a health bar. A stupid, stupid death and a richly deserved Game Over screen.
And after taking The Bastille of The Augustins, I then had to defend it. I had a cunning plan, which seemed to work okay. While the main force were forcing their way through the locked main gates, I took on Talbot, one of the main baddies, on the steps up to a turret, as he’d managed to sneak in. It took a long, long time to kill him, but I made it and then ran up and sat in the turret. A good defensive position, as only one enemy could get into an attacking position on the stairs each turn. (Which was what had led me to take so long to kill Talbot.) The main English force had broken through the gates by this point and I positioned my strongest character at the top of the stairs and had the others raining down offensive spells and doing healing.
All was well until all that was left was the enemy’s priestess, a healing character with little or no offensive capability. Unfortunately, she decided to run away. Unfortunately, all levels in this game have a turn limit. I chased her, but she had a big head start and I only had Jeanne, Marcel and Liane left. Jeanne moves quite quickly, but Marcel and Liane are slow. For the last three turns I wasn’t able to damage the priestess enough to kill her and on her turn she’d run further away and heal herself. At the end of my last turn I got her down to nine hit points. That’s not a lot, but she was still alive and my time ran out and the Game Over screen appeared.
Never before, I don’t think, have I been as exhilarated at failure. I’m itching to get home from work tonight and try again. This time: take out the healer early with whatever I’ve got. Maybe I should buy some more of those items that do magical damage when you throw them, if they’re available in the shops. More ranged attacks are always good.
Whether the enemies auto-level or whether there’s suddenly been a scripted difficulty hike I don’t know, but the difficulty feels just about perfect right now. The enemies have a bit more health than my characters and there are more of them, so I’m having to think. And, you know, I nearly won.
I think next time I try I should bring in Jean instead of one of the other characters I used. On the stairs his two-square hit zone – not to mention his special Impale move – should make things quicker and easier… if I can keep him alive.
Well, forget what I was saying last time I played, about it being very easy. I’ve just taken the Bastille of the Augustins from the dastardly English, but not without a fight. In fact, when I won I only had one unit left – my archer, Marcel. It really was very exciting and felt very cinematic.
I probably could have won without losing almost all my units, too, but I was being a bit inept.
I’m way too levelled. In today’s story mission I cut through the enemies like butter.