Rematch with Virgin Oil
It's time for things to get really random. Have fun trying to follow what I'm doing, because even I am having a hard time following it, and I'm the one who did it... But we did at least get one big thing out of the way this time...!
This post is kind of long and super random, because I wanted to end with something actually interesting, and not just... after any of this random stuff. You'll see what I mean lol.
One of the great things about SaGa series is the Open Scenario System. Basically this just means it's open-world, but since that was a pretty unheard of thing in Japan at the time, it kind of got its own branding as a SaGa thing in JRPGs.
And, uh, that means you can just run around and do random stuff and do little parts of this quest here and there. There's usually a bit more structure than western open-world games, but you're still pretty free, and it gives them a lot of replayability. Even though the game is usually pretty similar between characters, you can do stuff in very different orders, and things that were a cakewalk in one playthrough could be a nightmare in others, based on what kind of party and abilities you have when you reach them.
But it also means you can have difficulty deciding what you want to focus on, and this post is going to be an illustration of that. Because honestly it's hard for me to even puzzle out my motivations looking back on these screencaps.
So, first off, we head to Ria Sea. The place north of Cerenaif if you take the western boat (not the eastern boat that takes you to Ilfee).
Mostly I was just looking for blacksmiths again, I think? Because I didn't stay here long.
It's one big coast with a lot of little "sections" in it. It's kind of hard to explain, but like higher lands divide all the little coastal regions, making them like these little enclosed coves of land, if that makes sense. And each of these little sections has a town so there's lots of people to talk to here, and surprisingly a lot of things to see for how small it is.
And that means lots of asking people if they know about Ai Hanumu...
A woman from Ferrol says she doesn't know anything, but we might be able to learn something if we ask our reflection in the water. Leo asks what the heck that's supposed to mean, and she says first you go to the water, then you look in it. The rest is up to the water.
That's... really her advice. When we leave, Liz somehow thinks that's good advice (?!) and Leo just says it can't hurt to try it.
We ask a woman from Muros about Ai Hanumu, and she says that the Emperor didn't acknowledge the existence of Ai Hanumu. When Leo asks her why, she gets a bit of an attitude, and says there's no reason she would know that, and we should just ask people from the Empire -- oh wait, they're all dead!
So, people from Ria are pretty obnoxious...
Continuing along the coast, we get to one of the bigger 'pockets' of land that actually has two towns in it. We ask about Ai Hanumu at the city of Arousal. Er, I mean, Arousa.
We ask some guy there about Ai Hanumu, and he wants us to be more specific -- are we asking where it is, if it exists, what life is like there...
Leo says it's not like we're planning on living there.
The guy is like, oh, so you're just thinking about stuff like "I wonder if there's food in a capital no one knows about~" and tells us it's probably not a good place to live.
What is with these people?!
Leo comments about how we're wasting a lot of time here, and Liz says maybe we should have packed lunches lol.
Lastly, we head to the nearby town of Pontevedra, where we ask one more person what they know about Ai Hanumu. The lady tells us that it's a fairy tale land, where there are only beautiful maidens and burly men.
Leo says that such a place wouldn't exist. Anywhere you go, you'll find plenty of fat dudes and ugly chicks.
The woman seems annoyed and says for someone asking about Ai Hanumu, we sure don't seem to have any imagination.
Leaving, Leo wonders if anyone around here really knows anything about Ai Hanumu, and Liz says of course they don't -- anywhere we go, it's just a bunch of fairy tales.
Traveling around the area a bit just to see what's around, we find a giant cocoon. Giant cocoon means giant bugs, and I love that sort of thing, so we approach it.
And our buddy Phoenix shows up and lands on the cocoon. And it starts glowing all fiery and stuff. And well, no, I'm not going to mess with giant fire cocoon right now...
Liz starts dry heaving imagining what might be inside that big thing. Leo says it's so big that there's no way it could be a bug. Liz yells at him to not bring up bugs right now. Kinda reminds me of Misty from the old Pokémon cartoon, hahaha.
And then I guess I totally gave up on this area because the next screencap I have is from somewhere completely different! Maybe I just got sick of how annoying everyone in this region was hahaha.
So I went back to the sea bridge that leads over the northeastern border, I guess.
Arriving here, we get harassed by some punk who thinks we're ridiculous for thinking we can just... cross a bridge. Like it's really that easy. We need to 'assist' the 'Bridge Guards' with a 'fee.'
We're given the option to pummel them or trample them.
After beating them, someone comes from a "Bridge Association" or something and pretty much the exact same thing happens (even the exact same two options lol).
The fights go pretty smoothly. Liz ranks up Sonic Arrow and Rico ranks up Vandalize, which is pretty awesome, because those are both super useful things.
And we're finally there! All of the exploring has been trying to lead us to this point. And it just... seems like any other region. No big cutscene or revelation of Ai Hanumu or anything.
Liz gets super cold, and Leo seems fine. I guess the Scarlet Shards are not helping out here?
There's this big fire pit thing, and the lighting effect like... goes in front of Leo if we stand close lol. Nice polish, there, devs.
There was also a place called "The Village of no Presence" which is a strangely long equivalent they chose for what amounts to "Unknown Village." Also, the edge of these area seems to be like... some kind of literal end of the world?
Stopping in Village of NP, a woman tells us there's not really anything here, but there is some kind of shrine out to the west. Leo is surprised there's a shrine in this kind of place, and Liz says we may as well go check it out. The woman tells us it's supposedly good to offer fish to the shrine, but she doesn't know exactly what it's supposedly good for.
Entering again after talking to her, we get a welcoming gift of a Star Stone, which is a really great accessory that raises Intelligence by two and lowers Concentration by two. Kinda sucks to lose Concentration, but if you're just wanting to pile up magic power, this is great.
But if you thought "The Village of No Presence" was a cumbersome name, check out CHERRY BLOSSAM: THE INFINITE. The Japanese says "10,000 year Cherry Blossom" and is also much more compact. Saying things are "10,000 years" is kind of a hyperbolic expression that is sort of like saying "forever" in English, so I guess I can see how they got the name but it just seems... ridiculous.
There's a bunch of other stuff here, like some guy ice fishing, the remains of a mining town or something, "spirit lake," and some strangely-shaped thing called "Fang Terrae" (terrae is apparently the plural of terra... yay dictionary!)
I didn't really check out most of this stuff because I was just here to look around, but I didn't want to accidentally find like... the end of the story or something hahaha.
In the far north of this area, there are these big "wall glaciers" that, unlike everything else in the world, don't have a button prompt or description when we approach them. They're just... there.
On the way back out, we pass by "Abyss Swamp," which sounds pretty scary. But it's really not. Leo wonders if this is Ai Hanumu, since it's possible to submerge things in it. We're given the option to try it, and it just starts an easy battle. Afterward, Leo determines this is not Ai Hanumu lol.
While we're going places we haven't been , I decided it wouldn't be a bad time to go wander into some other random area. This is Termina, which is a huge donut-shaped region with a big lake separating most of it through the center. You can bypass the lake on the north or south side, it's just... very long so it takes a while to get around in here.
Well, I guess it's more of a 'sea,' because they refer to it as such. Anyway, Liz tells us that this province is called Termina Province because it's the province around Termina Sea (...)
Leo responds that the name "Termina" must mean that it's a distant sea, and Liz is surprised that Leo knows something like that. I don't really see how he got "distant" from "Termina" or what even a "distant sea" is supposed to mean...
Well, Liz at least explains the next part. Apparently when the people from Azhuacan, who had never seen a sea other than the Regis Sea, first saw this place, they were surprised that seas existed even this far away. Thus, TERMINA.
Leo basically calls her a huge geography nerd, and Liz doesn't interpret it as a compliment.
To continue our lucky streak of weirdly named things, we find "Wam i Mine" in the corner.
And it's not long before our buddy Phoenix shows up. He flies over near the northern mountain range, sits around on the ground for a bit, and flies off. Whenever this thing shows up, it just goes and sits somewhere, something bad happens there, and it flies away. It's weird.
And some people start lighting fires where it landed.
Sounds like trouble, I guess, because next I seem to go somewhere else. I'm really sorry that my playing got so random, hahaha. I have no idea what my goals even were during these sessions. But in the end, this is THE SAGA WAY.
We head up to Moor Head, a little village between Termina and Normi. I think it's been a while since we've been to Normi, but it's that polar region far north, where there are those sunken ruins and a weird floating polar bear and stuff. And like, weird-looking recolored Caspar.
We ask about Ai Hanumu, but apparently the Norm people don't believe in Ai Hanumu, so we're not going to learn anything here.
Leaving, Liz complains about this -- to be honest, I didn't really understand this little conversation. Like, I understood the words, but... the meaning? Hahaha. Basically she says something like, "Oh, the Norm don't believe in Ai Hanumu? Check one off the list." I think it's supposed to be sarcastic or something? And then Leo says it's not really like he believes in Ai Hanumu either, he's just searching for it. Then Liz still looks angry and says she doesn't understand what he's trying to say, in a kind of accusing way.
I don't understand what she's trying to say, either, though!
Anyway, have this random screenshot of this bow upgrade, and I remember being excited about this. I think the reason I was so randomly running around is because I was looking for blacksmiths and easy places to grab materials, but along the way kinda checking out random interesting stuff as I passed by.
Anyway, we head into Normi and check out those monsters that made the weird ice cap things float up when we fought them. You know, the one with the bear on it. I figured this would be a good place to farm water crystals while actually accomplishing something, since these battles give tons of crystals.
I also want to talk about how much I hate undeads in this game. They have this 'Glare' attack that, depending on the type of undead (I think), will inflict you with status effects like confusion, sleep, or paralysis. And they will spam this a lot and debilitate the whole party quickly. They also have some nasty sword attacks. It's really ridiculous.
Even on the GameFAQs forum for the game, people are complaining about these hahaha. The battle results seem up to chance. I can't really come up with a decent measure against them. There are accessories that help against some status ailments, but you usually only find like, one of each, and I don't even think I have one for paralysis...?
And healing magic takes like 3 turns to cast and it's extremely likely the enemy will cancel your cast with a status effect or just kill the caster before then, so...
Anyway, after fighting some of the monsters, I started to realize that the monsters spawn on four spots on the snow field, and where you fight the monster determines where an ice cap will appear in the ocean, as there seem to be four columns of ice caps. But I'm not sure how to determine which 'column' the monsters appear in (since only two appear at once, and when you fight one, it disappears and a new one appears).
(EDIT: That's not really how it works hahaha)
Also, after fighting, sometimes things appear in the ocean. If you remember before, a bottle of honey appeared. A crate appears now and floats toward the shore as we approach it.
AND THEN INSTEAD OF INTERACTING WITH IT I JUST RANDOMLY RUN BACK TO TERMINA AND EXIT IT THROUGH ANTOHER TOWN AND RUN INTO THIS GUY. I KNOW, I'M SORRY! I think maybe I realized I had enough water crystals to make a weapon I wanted and was going to try to go to a water discount blacksmith?
Oh, speaking of -- just a random thing I've noticed while playing that I haven't mentioned here yet. Certain items are only available at certain types of blacksmiths. For example, I can upgrade my current mace that Lamar is using to the Golden Bat, but only at a metal blacksmith. The option doesn't even appear at the others.
Anyway, this guy is Roh Sung, and he's the magistrate of Termina. He stays in Knym Castle, which you may remember was just some random place we saw at the edge of Cindrea long ago. No, I really don't expect you to remember that. Especially with how random this game
and my playing is...
Anyway, Leo asks him about Ai Hanumu, and he says that in Ai Hanumu there were many beautiful women, but when Ai Hanumu disappeared, so did all the lovely ladies. Liz asks if there weren't any hot guys, and the dude says if you want a hot guy, you're looking at one.
I agree! And with unique appearance and name, I'm really hoping we can recruit this guy.
But that's all we get for now. And Liz seems super pissed about this, because after hearing this she says she can't think of anything but killing this guy, and Leo tries to calm her down by telling her it was just a stupid old man joke.
And then I must have found what I was looking for because I went right back to Normi and inspected the box. I have no idea.
Anyway, inspecting the floating crate initiates a battle. We had to fight Birds of Paradise. Their name terrified me, but fortunately they were not nearly as tough as their UNLIMITED:Saga counterpart.
In the crate, though, we found 10 membranes! (It's a crafting material lol)
And then we go back to fighting the enemies along the south part of this area to make more ice caps appear, hoping that we can figure out exactly what we're supposed to be doing with all this, as well as rack up tons of water crystals and other water materials.
The battles are a little tough, but the party is even tougher now.
I've realized that I was really wearing myself thin and have started to focus on a few things. I upgrade only my best equipment, and especially am not trying to upgrade enough armor to cover this entire party of like, 20-something characters.
I generally have been keeping to about eight party members: Leo, Liz, Rico, Julia, Caspar, Thiago, Lewis Darling, and Lamar. Then I upgrade enough equipment for just them.
Everyone shares armor, though I would really like to have static armor at least for everyone, but it's a bit much for me right now. I also continue to have the same members unless someone gets low on LP or a situation calls for a specific skill of a benched member, then I swap.
Each time I swap members, I have to unequip (there's an "unequip everyone not in the party" button so I assume that you're intended to play the game like this) and re-equip. It's not so bad. There's an auto-equip button, too, though I generally like to choose for myself anymore. It doesn't take very long.
Over the course of all the battles (I did a lot of fighting here), we got a lot of nice ranks up and stuff. Thiago ranked up Leg Sweep, which is very nice, and Liz ranked up Flame Arrow. I also was still using Urpina at this point, from the screenshots. But she's since become more of a permanent bencher.
Right now, Caspar and Balmaint are kind of iffy. I only use Balmaint if I desperately need the spear arts on a fast character and Thiago is low on LP. Which doesn't happen too much anymore.
And then for Caspar, we've discovered over at GameFAQs that if a character starts with a level of 0 in an elemental level, they can never learn magic arts of that school and can never raise that elemental level... I have been training Caspar in magic arts for quite a while now thinking that he would EVENTAULLY be able to learn something, but... he can only do water arts. And there are only three arts of each element, so... this isn't a lot. You really need your mages to be able to do more than one element.
But I don't really have any other magic user besides Julia, and it would be nice to have a second. The water arts are really nice -- Poison Wave hits all enemies and can inflict poison, Life Rain heals the entire party restoring HP and recovering status ailments, and the... other thing is like an ice attack to all enemies (I don't remember the name lol).
And speaking of magic arts, here is Julia using Holy Grail to... dump holy water on Rico's crotch. Because he's just too hot. Even dead. Hot dead Rico.
Also Liz glimmered a very powerful bow art called Heartseeker, which doesn't have great accuracy, but does massive damage. It also costs 8BP, which is the entire max BP in most formations. It's wild. I still haven't managed to rank it up yet.
Sadly, it also causes the 'anger' status effect, which makes the angry enemy only able to attack the target that they're angry with. So if she hits them, it means they'll become angry with her, and then they'll always attack her. This isn't good since Liz is not meant to be attacked. She's not defenseless, but I reserve the bulkiest armor for the front-row people, and Liz needs to focus on being FAST, so her equipment tends to sacrifice defenses for the sake of boosting speed.
If I haven't noted this
many times already, Liz is a really great character and one of the most fun to play with. Bow arts are really awesome and she has a wide variety of abilities. I wish her Concentration level was a bit higher, because I really have to focus on boosting it up with equipment (even more than Speed), because it's important for her to be able to inflict status effects.
Also, we found like... a frozen corpse? We love corpses. Especially Rico's hot one. When we inspected it, it initiated a battle. Afterward Leo was just like, "That figures." and that was it. I don't get it LOL.
Also, after this, I randomly decided to go to Cerenaif (again, I think I was probably looking for a blacksmith and got sidetracked), and I picked up where I left off there, making the sulfur nitrate and stuff, and so until this point, none of that actually happened. It's all in the last post if you are wondering what I mean. But yeah, now Lamar is officially in the party lol. That's probably about when I stopped using Urpina, too.
Making more ice caps appear, we're able to walk around and actually reach a polar bear. If you remember, we got honey in a bottle here long ago. We give it to the bear and... convince it to leave. Then it just... disappears. I guess we need the honey to clear the path of bears. But there are more bears and we only had the one honey...
So, I guess it's back to more battles. Maybe we can stack up so many ice caps it doesn't matter and just walk around the bears? During one of the fights, Lewis glimmered High-Speed Nebula, an axe art where he splits into three people and attacks in a triangle formation. It's pretty cool looking, and it's very strong. It also gives a huge turn order advantage as you use it, so you can use it to get far up in the timeline. It has a huge BP cost, though.
If the whole 'turning into three people and chopping with an axe' thing sounds familiar, that's because High-Speed Nebula is the Japanese name of Reverse Delta. Thankfully, this one is not nearly as broken as its UNLIMITED:Saga counterpart. It's very powerful, but not ridiculously so, and its BP cost is a good balance for its big damage and speed boost.
Julia also got a new role that boosts the power of her magic arts, which is very nice. Julia is actually turning into one of the most useful characters in the party, when she started as more of someone I was just using to try out different magic arts.
After fighting another battle, a new honey appeared in the water again. So I guess you just need to keep battling and making ice caps and picking up honey... there's probably some kind of better solution to all of this that I'm not realizing. Like a pattern that I'm not seeing.
Anyway, feeding the honey to the bear actually happened later, so I'm saying this kind of out of order, but like... later all I did was just randomly feed the bear honey and that's it? So I may as well just put it here. And things start getting a little more linear after this.
After this, I guess I get bored of ice caps. Don't worry we're getting to the end, now! I went back to Ria and when I went into the town of Muros, this random NPC was like "the people of Muros never go beyond the sea" and then Leo just.. invited her into the party. So now we have this new party member named Chichi (yeah lol) and her stats are OK but I'm not even going to bother using her now. She looks like she might be great with bow arts or magic arts, so maybe in another playthrough I'll try her out. I like her outfit, though. Doesn't look practical for battle, though. But hey, she's SEEIN' THE WORLD.
Anyway, now that I've accumulated lots of materials and upgraded a lot of weapons, I've decided -- it's time to try to rematch Virgin Oil!
Yeah, remember this thing? Burn it down! Julia has some great magic arts now. Flash Fire hits all enemies and can stun them, which is ridiculously helpful. It costs 4BP but it only takes one turn to cast.
But I still died.
Those mines on the east side of Gladion, the ones where I killed everyone before but then they came back -- I went there and used them to farm materials. Like kinda a lot. I mean just enough to make the few weapons I wanted to upgrade for now. With the battle loot and the extra you can get by demanding a bonus from the miners, I was able to get about 50 crystals per battle. This isn't a ton for this point in the game, but for easier battles it's quite good.
Everyone's levels rose, and of course, I'm focusing on a smaller number of characters now, so we're not falling behind. I'm finally starting to be able to win battles without half the party dying every time.
Thiago glimmered this really badass spear art where he gets to hit the enemy three times, and the final time he turns away from the enemy and thrusts the spear backward into them. Not only does it do a lot of damage (especially for Thiago), but it also can stun! It costs a ton of BP, though.
I decided to try out the Counter Hazard formation against Virgin Oil. With even more magic arts, new weapon arts, new weapons, a new formation, and many levels up, I felt I was probably ready to actually face this thing.
It was a close one, but we finally won!
And then the urn is back. It's back. I can't even believe it. After this grand victory, it's still here!
Liz is just as mad as I am, and says we should just take it and bury it with the stupid guy that originally had it. We should have just done that in the first place!
The guy's body is just... still lying around, and we take the time to give him a proper burial. We even construct a headstone and everything. And we bury him with the urn. Hopefully no one will dig it up. But you know, this is a universe of necrophiles, so...
Anyway, Liz finds something and says it must be a gift from the dead guy as thanks for burying him. She doesn't really believe that's what it is, but considering all that's happened here, maybe it really is.
And we pick up... "Some Kind of Bone." Like that is the name of the item. It's an accessory that lowers Strength and Speed levels by 1, but protects against confusion. Now if only we had five "Some-Kind-of-Bones."
No Scarlet Shard, though there's still one apparently in the area, but we were able to lay Crazy Urn Guy to rest, hide the urn so no one will find it, and finally defeat Virgin Oil, proving that the party has come a long way. And that's where I wanted to end the entry, because it's the only thing that has ... really happened in this entire post lol.
Sorry this was so long, but hopefully the final downfall of Virgin Oil and the final resting place of the urn was a satisfying enough conclusion to make up for... all of THAT. After this I really started doing things in a more linear fashion, only moving on if I couldn't figure out what to do next in an area's little sub-scenario.