Nov. 20th, 2013

guardians_song: Ken Sugimori's concept art of the Pokemon starters, with the main characters and rival beside them. (kicking it oldschool)

Beat Shining Force Challenge Mod!

...With savestates, admittedly, because I was tired of having to repeat the first half of the Darksol battle (during which I had a 100% guarantee of keeping all Force members alive, since the enemies were spread out) and... then went a bit crazy with savestates during the second half, because I did a bad job of planning out how to deal with the clusterfuck of max-powered enemies. >_> I wasn't scumming for criticals, double-hits, or item effects, though - just for attempting different tactics. I'm sorry. I played every battle before this completely legitimately.

Also, I savestated after each head of Dark Dragon, because each one was... quite the challenge to take out. (Also, because I wanted to reload if I screwed up and had a character wander into spell range when I was walking past the middle head.) It didn't help that I had forgotten half of my maximum-power healing items on random unused units 'for storage'. -_- Nevertheless, I managed to take out Dark Dragon mostly legitimately, albeit by piling all my healing items onto the main character so that I wouldn't be taken out by a WTFOMGHAX blow at the wrong time. And how did I know I needed to do this to avoid being taken out by a WTFOMGHAX blow at the wrong time? Uh... I TOLD you I savestated after Head #2, right? >_>

Anyway, that was an absolutely wonderful mod, it probably deserved better treatment than I gave it at the end, and I very much enjoyed it! :D Now, back to work, and I should really think about that Pokemon Yellow Nuzlocke I said I'd do...
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Nov. 17th, 2013

guardians_song: A crop from FE7's Arcadia CG showing Nergal and two villagers chatting over scrolls. (analytical)

Incidentally, I think this is the best of the Shining Force tracks.

Click on this link, and then go down to the MP3 Darksol track. Now THAT is some final battle music. I hate to sound like a retro fanatic, but I think the designers often did better when they were forced to make absolutely horrible tools look and sound as good as possible. With better tools, it's too easy to use the basic quality of the tools as a crutch and slack off on the quality of the material.

(Case in point: UGH! What is this gutted version on the GBA soundtrack?! D: 
...I mean, it isn't... bad, per se... not if you don't know the original...
...I may have spoken too soon. It's not that they intentionally botched redesigned the tune, it's that the GBA probably doesn't have the proper harsh bass for the original music. There's a certain signature sound to the Darksol and Dark Dragon battles, and I'm not sure a GBA's speakers could produce it.)

Actually, you might as well nab all the MP3s at that link if you feel like it. The MIDIs from have their own charm, but they seem to be unable to duplicate that weird harshness.

As long as I'm mentioning, I repeat, the Rayquaza Battle MIDI by Alex Rentz is better than the actual tune. (I think hotlinking to the comments is allowed. It's just the hotlinking to the file that drives servers batshit insane, right?) ...No, I'm not going to ever stop advertising that. I've used it too often. >_> :P

Hope you're all doing well!

, -- Prophecy Categories

Nov. 16th, 2013

guardians_song: A crop from FE7's Arcadia CG showing Nergal and two villagers chatting over scrolls. (analytical)

Aura-users are RIDICULOUSLY useful on a higher difficulty.

Also, my All-Mage Playthrough memories are correct: mages are massively powerful in this game. I'm hedging "overpowered", because it is balanced in some sense, but the sheer number of enemies in the endgame that have Defense-ignoring attacks frankly takes away melee units' best advantage.

And in exchange, you get never-miss, high-powered attacks that you can aim at long range.

I think what balances Shining Force mages is that they start relatively weak, die to stiff breezes before promotion, and are often inferior to physical units in the low-Defense, high-accuracy early game, and about equal midgame. In Chapter 7, they begin to catch up, and prove useful in the clusterjam battles that take place in all the wooded areas of which the designers were inexplicably fond.

In Chapter 8, if you do not use mages, you are deliberately hindering yourself.
(I should know. My first time through, I used one mage until Chapter 8. >_< Chimeras are pretty much a gear check for mages. That's not said in jest. They're high-HP, high-damage enemies with a 25% evade rate. And Shining Force, being an old game, has a bizarrely streaky RNG, so this will manifest as your units hitting consistently and then missing several hits in a row. Guess what it does to your battle strategy when several units completely waste their turns? It isn't pretty.
And then we get into the Blue Dragons, which are basically Chimeras on steroids. Yep. I got the idea that the designers REALLY meant for you to use magic, how about you?)

If I HAD any more mages to use, I WOULD be using them. The endgame of Shining Force is a mage's world. Particularly when you're doing a challenge mod that ups enemy HP to dumbfounding levels. (I'm just waiting for a generic enemy to show up with ??/?? HP at this point.)

This is a great game, and a WONDERFUL mod! :D

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Nov. 15th, 2013

guardians_song: Ken Sugimori&#39;s concept art of the Pokemon starters, with the main characters and rival beside them. (kicking it oldschool)

Shining Force Challenge Mod progress:

Currently running around Shade Abbey. Just destroyed the Laser Eye.

This mod does an INCREDIBLE job of improving play balance and adding excitement to battles. I really don't know on any given battle whether I'll survive or limp back in after an embarrassing K.O. I mean - heck, I have to hang back and kite enemies towards me rather than just ROFLRUSHING any given formation. (And this mod cuts back enormously on the number of Gaddamned Bats, thank GAD...)

Considering that unmodded Shining Force is, ah, not what one would call hard, this is a great accomplishment.

I mean, I just beat the Laser Eye battle with three out of twelve party members remaining, and with all of them within a hit of being K.O.ed. (In fact, the hero was hiding off in a corner while I crossed my fingers and hoped the other two could beat the last remaining enemy to death before it could K.O. one of them and run over to the hero on the next turn.) Freaking TENSE. And I have to say, I DID have to use a fair amount of strategy to even get to that point. (The Laser Eye has been de-lobotomized. As have the Runefaust tacticians. You can no longer sit on your rear and wait out the Laser Eye while it flattens half of "its own" army.)

To be honest, this feels like less of a "mod" and more of a "patch". That is to say, not a fanmade alteration, but rather an official-quality improvement of a game that was reasonable but highly imperfect.

Anyway, if you like Shining Force and aren't adverse to getting a Genesis emulator/Shining Force ROM (and you remember to convert to .bin via that WIN BIN thing and THEN patch), get this mod. The quality of the game is vastly improved. And I really liked the original game, so that should tell you something.

, -- Prophecy Categories

Nov. 13th, 2013

guardians_song: Ken Sugimori&#39;s concept art of the Pokemon starters, with the main characters and rival beside them. (kicking it oldschool)

There is a Shining Force mod that actually makes Adam USEFUL.

It also ups the difficulty significantly (mostly by de-lobotomizing the AI, according to patch notes) - but hey, I'm mainly amazed at useful!Adam. So I'll give it a whirl.

...Once I can get it working, that is. Apparently you need to convert from SMD format to BIN format, which requires a Fetch Quest for a romhacking utility. -_- *facepalm* Otherwise, it throws a tantrum doesn't correctly patch the ROM.
(Romhacking utility found. There we go. :D;;)

Welp, it says the checksum was incorrect, but the newly-patched ROM seems to work. Now to have the newly-upgraded game wipe the floor with me! :D
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May. 13th, 2013

guardians_song: A slightly edited posterized version of King Zephiel from Fire Emblem: Rekka no Ken. (Amused)

Allergies are infernal creations of... somethingruther.

In cheerier news, the Shining Force mage-run is steamrolling the opposition, and I could probably beat the final chapters with my current team. Only stall right now is grinding up Alef, Torasu, and *pained wince* Adam. The latter is less of a unit and more of a sustained trolling attempt by the developers.

The pertinent points:

A) He's a robot!
B) He's a robot with less Attack than the mages of equivalent level.
C) He cannot equip weapons.
D) He has 4 Move, so you can't even really give him the Power Ring unless you really plan on having stronger units stall for him...
E) He comes at level 10, when ideal promotion is at 20.
F) He comes in the very late-game (midway through Chapter 7/8).

However, I've committed to using certain units, so I'll use him. And then I can brag that I've actually used Adam, and I'll never have to use him again. 8D *TWITCH*

Okay, now for the less whiny information.

Read more... )

Party members: Kalkin (20/12 Hero),  Arthur (20/18 Paladin), Anri (20/18 Wizard), Alef (20/1 Wizard), Tao (20/8 Wizard), Domingo (23/NA Magic Creature), Lowe (20/6 Vicar), Khris (20/4 Vicar), Torasu (20/1 Vicar), Gong (20/11 Master Monk), Bleu (20/11 Guardian Dragon), Adam (17/0 Robot)
Battle: Chaos
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May. 4th, 2013

guardians_song: Part of Fire Emblem 7&#39;s Chapter 19xx CG, colored (comfort)

Current progress in Shining Force second-run:

Party: Kalkin L15, Arthur L12, Anri L14, Tao L14, DOMINGO L1, Lowe L13, Khris L13, Gong L13
Battle: Just cleared the General Elliott battle.

The Laser Eye battle was unremarkable. Swing, swing, swing, smash.
The General Elliott battle was embarrassing - both for me and the enemy. It embarrassed me because I initially botched it by walking my units into a swarm of enemies, and it was embarrassing for the enemy because they kept walking into double BLAZE L2s. That's another difference between this and Fire Emblem - you will never see 3+ enemies dying at once in FE.
(The only problem is that I'm hitting the point where mages and healers no longer make good physical attackers... Urk. Well, that's what magic's for.)

And now I have Domingo! :D Go forth and turn your enemies into ice cubes, oh Lord of Freeze! (I have an actual tank! Will wonders never cease?)

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May. 3rd, 2013

guardians_song: A crop from FE7&#39;s Arcadia CG showing Nergal and two villagers chatting over scrolls. (analytical)

...TBH, I wonder if playing with fewer characters breaks the AI.

 I know the AI occasionally engaged in threshold behavior on the FULL-party run- enemies wouldn't start to move until a certain amount of characters were in range.  It could be that, with only 7 characters in play, the game's not picking up that it SHOULD be reacting.

I say this because the Master Mage in Bustoke Quarry attacked only once in three turns, and when it did, it was a MELEE attack. Units were in range for a FREEZE L2 the entire time, and the Master Mage died with full MP. 


It wasn't the only unit in that battle that did that, either. A Skeleton refused to attack any units, and a DarkMage was similarly unresponsive. "Darksol pays his units in weed".was an understatement. I should have said "in morphine".

Edit: I confirmed that there's weird threshold behavior. When I had only one unit near two Pegasus Knights, they refused to move, but movement began after I brought a second unit nearby. So when I send one unit out to clean up a mob, he can do it by himself so long as his HP stays reasonable. *scratches head* The Shining Force AI is fascinating in its inadequacy. I wonder how its algorithms work...

-- Prophecy Categories
guardians_song: (Fire Emblem OTP)

Current progress in Shining Force second-run:

Party: Kalkin L10, Lowe L9, Tao L11, Gong L11, Khris L8, Anri L9, Arthur L9
Current Battle: Bustoke Quarry

...The amazing thing about having only Kalkin and Gong as physical attackers is that I actually have Arthur at L9 two battles after getting him. And I'm not even Egress-grinding him! (Normally, training Arthur is really tedious due to having to forsake kills from better units in order to give him EXP.) ...And also, unnervingly, Kalkin and Gong really don't have that high an attack, so Arthur has a reasonable attack with the Power Ring on. Ooh boy, this is going to be awkward.
(Fortunately, in Shining Force, enemies have very little magic resistance worth mentioning. I even beat the Marionette on the first try! ...Okay, sure, Kalkin, Gong, and Arthur did the majority of the damage, but still...)

On the bright side, both Tao and Anri have "BLAZE level 2", so I can dish out a fair amount of AOE damage if the enemies clump up. And, when playing with few attacks and two mages, those healers actually have something to do! :D I mean, even KHRIS is a natural L8! (Yes, I still think she's a bad unit. That Agility is horrible. I'm going to pass her the Speed Ring so she doesn't always go after Lowe and Gong. :\ )

Um... I should probably add something so as not to bore you.
  • The Manarina battle wasn't that bad, but I ran into embarrassing issues with being halted for several turns by Kalkin falling asleep and clogging up a chokepoint. And then I walked him straight into two enemy BLAZE L2s. And... um... yeah, basically suffered from tactics!fail on my part. Lack of permadeath makes me lazy.

  • The Cavern of Darkness battle was... *LMHO* YES, enemies, walk straight into my BLAZE L2s! And conveniently bunch up at chokepoints for my units to take you out one at a time! And do little bits of damage for the sake of my healers' EXP! And...

  • The Circus battle was a pleasant EXP farm, with the exception of the Marionette boss. ...Let's just say that my mages ended up being accidental FREEZE L3 bait, but Kalkin, Arthur, and Gong carried the day.

  • The Shade Abbey battle was highly difficult, as an army of mages and healers doesn't do well when swarmed by strong physical attackers. I had to redo that battle a few times, though one Egress was optional.

  • The Bustoke Quarry battle would be much harder if its enemy AI wasn't DOA. The archers move to attack, but fail to grasp that they should move away a square and fire when the only nearby unit is Kalkin, who is happily whacking away at them with his Middle Sword. And the mages literally don't attack unless they can hit more than one unit with BLAZE L2, which means I can just have units properly-spaced apart stroll up to them and start whacking away without fear of retaliation. And... I'd say the only competent AI is on the healers, who heal and attack as appropriate. The Shining Force AI has an erratic grasp of ranged attacks (and adjacent-square attacks when it has to prioritize targets), and it shows. [Reportedly, a fanmade hack that mainly fixes the AI is significantly harder than the base game...]

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May. 1st, 2013

guardians_song: Part of Fire Emblem 7&#39;s Chapter 19xx CG, colored (comfort)

Current progress in Shining Force second-run:

Well, I deserved a loss the first run of this battle for repeatedly walking into Blaze 2s. :P Fortunately, I only lose half of my easily-replaced money. Ah, Shining Force: The Legacy Of No Permadeath!

Current levels:
L7 Kalkin, L7 Gong, L7 Tao, L5 Lowe, L4 Khris

...You can tell the difference between damage-dealers and healers, can't you?
I never thought I'd have use for THAT many healers.
One battle away from gaining another party member... :S It will be nice to have more than one mage.
-- Prophecy Categories

Apr. 29th, 2013

guardians_song: (celebration)

Current progress in Shining Force second-run:

...Please tell me this isn't going faster with only-mages (+ hero). That would be embarrassing.

On the bright side, Tao's already learned Blaze 2, and I only just beat the second battle! Having to restart the first one ~3 times to level up was justified. :D;;

Named my hero Kalkin for the Lord of Light reference, on account of how "Great-Souled Sam" didn't fit in eight-characters-or-less. (Alas, he doesn't possess the power of electrodirection - if he did, the Ramladu battle would take about 90 seconds.)

My party will be:
Max, Lowe, Tao, Gong, Khris (****!!!), Anri, Arthur (❤), Domingo(♡♡♡), Alef, Torasu, Bleu, and Adam. Yes, Adam is slightly fudging the 'magic' part, but I don't want to tolerate Hanzou in my party ever again. For a level-10 effectively-promoted character to be less useful than a level-15 unpromoted is an atrocity.

...Hey, at least I'll never do without healing. :D;;

-- Prophecy Categories
guardians_song: (celebration)

So, I beat Shining Force!

It occurs to me that the Resurrection of the Dark Dragon additions are probably mostly correct. The two pods in Metapha with the "After 1000 years, two heroes will appear" sign beside them in the original does align with that WTF hibernation scene in the remake.

There is no excuse for the satellite-magic explanation, though. -_______- And they missed a brilliant opportunity to have the Supernova spell linked to the Chaos Breaker rather than having it be one of Max's spells. It would make perfect sense! I mean, that would go a long way towards explaining why the Chaos Breaker was so important... 'Yes, it's an awesome sword, but more importantly, it lets you call down orbital strikes as well. And you thought Low-Orbit Ion Cannon spam was just Anonymous's favorite method of DDoSing, didn't you?'

(A funny note for the slashers on my f-list: Max and a certain someone are brothers. This fact was inexplicably left out of the U.S. version, though it was restored in RotDD. It's obvious if you know what's going on, mind. However... if you didn't... *cough* )

That aside, the swerve from medieval fantasy to science-fiction (+ fantasy) was awesome, and flawlessly pulled off. ...My favorite novel is Roger Zelazny's Lord of Light, so I may be biased, of course. As for the part that symbolized that melding best, I think it was the Colossus boss - the magic-casting head of the stone behemoth that had eroded away over the centuries to reveal the wires and status-lights beneath. The robot enemies were one thing, but the failed attempt at disguise just drove home that the Ancients had known the world would backslide into ignorance and darkness after their time, and had hidden their mechanical guardian appropriately. ...And that their mighty works had not quite stood the test of time...

On that subject, that's probably why Adam is a horrible unit, too. He was likely meant to be at the level of his promoted form (which is, by all accounts, actually decent), but had parts fall away over a thousand years until he could be beaten up by magic students with reasonably sturdy staves (which is what his initial stats literally indicate). ...I'm beginning to understand why people praise leaving world-building ambiguous. There is so much retrospective brilliance in this game, but the RotDD explanations were... far too heavy-handed. It's a pity. A few hours after beating it, I literally found a fanfiction that handled the technological elements better. (Wasn't perfect, but it didn't consider the readers as dumb as balls of wax...)

Anyway, I'll probably replay Shining Force. With a different team, mind. I want to try more magic-users this time. :) And level up my hero earlier, for the love of gad! Should be fun!
-- Prophecy Categories

Apr. 28th, 2013

guardians_song: A crop from FE7&#39;s Arcadia CG showing Nergal and two villagers chatting over scrolls. (analytical)

The first thing you need to know is that, past 20/20 promoted, stat gains essentially drop to null.

I suppose they didn't want to put a hard cap on the levels because it would harsh your buzz, but it essentially acts as one.

So here's the stats (with weapons, because weapons essentially remain constant at the endgame).

Shining Force Stats: Guardian's Song's Lineup
2ArthurDGOD PLDN20/258030676272
12MaeFAIL PLDN20/5560422527

...It's worth noting that ZiegFeld was 20/1, Khris was 16/0, and Bleu was 18/0 when I first ran into this battle. Assume that the other top-tier people have been jacked up similarly (no kill like overkill!).

*thoughts* )
TL;DR: Ah, well, at least things are improving now! I'm giving thought to what sort of line-up I might want for my next run, if I do one. I propose significantly more mages... I ended up ditching Luke in the long run, so I could keep Anri rather than deciding too late that Luke wouldn't see endgame. Lemme think...

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Apr. 25th, 2013

guardians_song: A slightly edited posterized version of King Zephiel from Fire Emblem: Rekka no Ken. (Amused)

Hahaha, yes.

Using these instructions, I got the Musical Colors visualizations back. If you use Windows Media Player, it can't hurt.


Also - good GAD, Shining Force's third-to-last level is awful. O_o You get the feeling that they were reeeeally exploiting the no-permadeath feature to excuse the difficulty level.

There's a few rubbish enemies... and then there's the Chimeras and Blue Dragons. Now, the Blue Dragons have a defense-ignoring attack that does around 23 damage a pop, 50 HP, and the ability to move without terrain restrictions (since they can fly). The Chimeras have the exact same gimmick, except that they also have something like a 60% evade rate... and around 30% of the time (or something like that), they attack twice.

So anyone with less than 46 HP can potentially get 1HKO'd. By what pass for generic grunts.

So they're basically a 'Have you been training your mages?' & 'Did you know that some weapons can be used to cast spells?' gear check. Well and good! But I wasn't expecting that, since the 'best party' lists didn't mention that there would be raging-jerk enemies with about 60% evade rate!

Fortunately, Arthur is an 80 HP/67 Attack/7 Move/magic-wielding horrifying demigod by now (some games REALLY love the Magikarp Power trope), so he can soak up hits if I play my cards right... but still. And it doesn't help that my stat-level-ups seemed to be confused for a while, so half the characters weren't as good as they were supposed to be. They've evened out now, buuut... Well, I'll talk about that next post.
, -- Prophecy Categories

Mar. 31st, 2013

guardians_song: A sprite edit of Nils from Fire Emblem, looking shocked: CHRISTMAS EDITION (shock)

Shining Force can have the effing weirdest stat distributions.

Like Fire Emblem, the level-ups are random.

Unlike Fire Emblem, you can gain more than one point per level-up in a stat. This means that the people who are RNG-screwed are really RNG-screwed in comparison, and the RNG-blessed are, uh....

Let's just look at some current statistics, shall we? (Attack is given with equipped weapons, so don't gawk too much at the low attack of the healers and mage.)
Outliers are bolded.


Seriously, I don't know what Mae and Gort are putting in their rations, but I'd like to distribute some of it to the rest of the army. And I wouldn't mind Ken sharing his dietary secrets either. o_O
[...And apparently this is normal behavior from them, to tell from what a FAQ says. Yeesh. And I thought Fire Emblem had weird stat variance.]

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guardians_song: Icon depiction of the sporker Richard. (Default)
Guardian's Song

December 2014




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