It's a game with the good kind of bugs! Let's Play Bug Fables

Put your Let's Plays in here.
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Poison Attacker, and then Status Booster for later (unless you can buy Status Booster later, if so then wait).
What if after we put in a huge deposit they just steal our money and run to a hot spring or something!?
Likely this is a reference to another buggy game Hollow Knight.

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Before I get into replies, a quick question: did anyone notice something different about the animated GIFs in this last update, and if so, what do you think of the change?

The software I've been using to make them updated with some new options, so I tried a different approach: it's easier to get them under the required file size (with fewer artifact/blurring issues) this way, but it causes discolouration in some of them. Better? Worse?

(Also, there's still plenty of time to get votes in if you want to influence my medal purchases. Next update won't be affected so I don't have to push the button right away.)
Kacie wrote:
Wed May 05, 2021 9:57 pm
Poison Attacker, and then Status Booster for later (unless you can buy Status Booster later, if so then wait).
What if after we put in a huge deposit they just steal our money and run to a hot spring or something!?
Likely this is a reference to another buggy game Hollow Knight.
I'll count this as a vote for both medals; we'll be able to buy all of these later eventually, but there's not really a good reason to hold off buying things now if we want them. There are exactly enough crystal berries in the game to eventually get everything Shades will stock, so we're really only choosing the order in which we get them.

I do know about that reference (though I've not actually played the game so I've never seen the scene it refers to), I was trying to be a little coy about it because of the ongoing blind LP.

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19: Games Within Games

Before we start, once again Alien Arcana has provided more insight into the boss scripting:
Alien Arcana wrote: Interestingly, it looks like the fraction [Monsieur Scarlet heals] is actually variable! He recovers 1/2 the damage he deals at first, but that increases to 2/3 once he's at half health.

On hard mode, he gets the Attack Up at 65% and the Defense Up at 40%.
On normal, the Attack Up comes at 50% and he doesn't get a defense boost at all.

It looks like [the explosion] attack heals Scarlet for 100% of the damage dealt, but it's capped at 8 HP.
It's no wonder I didn't figure out how his healing worked.

Image 34 - Dodgy Business

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When we left off last time, we hadn't yet talked to Carmina from this side of the table. Let's remedy that now.

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Image Um, what?
Image What's a deck?
Image Tch. Have you come to waste my time, then? I live and die by the card.
Image If you're not here to play, leave.
Image Sounds interesting. Won't you tell us more? We may surprise you.
Image You expect me to teach a newbie the ropes?
Image ...Well, sure. It's been a slow day.
Image The first thing you'll need is a proper deck of cards.
Image We aren't gonna have to buy some, are we?

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Image Oh, yes! I do love spying!
Image You'll need at least one Boss Card, two Miniboss Cards, and one Enemy Card.
Image Come talk to me when you're ready. I long for battle.

This sounds interesting! We've definitely got enough spy data for this, so let's talk to her again and see how it works. (If we didn't have enough cards somehow, Tatel's right behind us and would be happy to sell us the data.)

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Image You'll battle us, then?

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Image Listen closely, rookie!

Minigame time!

Image 29 - Team, This One's Stronger! (Miniboss)

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Image Numb: One of your opponent's Attacker cards is numbed.
Image If X: If played alongside X card, gain an effect.
Image If Atk (X): Gain an effect if your total ATK reaches X.
Image Unity: Gains ATK for every member of its tribe. Like a swarm of Midges...

Cards do what they say on them. The only real difference between "Attacker" and "Effect" cards is that only Attackers are vulnerable to Numb.

Ironically, Midges don't use the Unity mechanic any more, they're just Attacker cards now. They did have Unity(1) on them back in v1.0.5, but for some reason they were changed. This isn't all the keywords either, but it gives a decent enough overview of how different types of card work.

Image You can check many more effects in your Discoveries menu.
Image You can include as many repeated copies of Attacker and Effect cards in your deck as you want.

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Image At the end of each turn your TP is restored, so go wild with your plays.

(What Carmina's neglected to say here is that your maximum TP also increases each turn, until reaching the cap of 10; it's pretty reminiscent of Hearthstone. It's intuitive enough once you see it in action.)

Image To summarize, your deck must contain 15 cards: 1 Boss, 2 unique Mini-Bosses, and 12 Attacker or Effect cards which may be duplicates.
Image Now, try building your deck.

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It just throws us right into deckbuilding! This is just for the tutorial, we'll get to build a new deck when it matters so the stakes are low here.

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We can choose the card of any Boss we have the spy data for, which right now is these three. For the tutorial, I'm not going to pick things strategically, so let's use the Devourer because it's cool. I've certainly never used it in the Spy Cards tutorial before!

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Now we need to choose two Minibosses.

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Again, we have the choice of everything we've spied so far; this time, we need to pick two different ones. Mothiva and Zasp have abilities that work together, so let's try them.

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And now we have to pick 12 more cards. Let's see what we've got:

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This is a much wider range of choices! We've encountered 16 different enemies so far, and we can include multiples.

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For now, let's just go with a healthy variety of Attackers at different costs, and a couple Numbnails and Venus' Buds to round things out.

We also get the option to save our deck, so we can skip this step next time we play this game. I won't be saving this one, I'll build a more synergistic one once we're out of the tutorial. You can't store multiple decks, any time you save a deck it'll overwrite your previous one.

Let's do this.

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(Did you think Carmina was done talking? Oh no. She's barely gotten started.)

Image Mine are turned back, of course. But you can tell their type through their back.
Image I'm holding a Mini-Boss and 2 Attacker or Effect cards.
Image Attacker and Effect cards share the same back. Leaves you wondering, right?
Image Use as many cards as your TP allows you to and try to win the round.

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Image This is a bit obvious, but reduce the opponent's HP to 0 and you'll win the match.
Image What a mouthful... Let's start our duel.
Image I'll be holding back during this practice match, okay? Pick your cards and give it your all!

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Okay, we're finally in the game. We can see our status in the top left, and our opponent's in the top right: each player starts with 5/5 HP (some cards heal, but you can't go over the maximum), and 2 TP on turn one.

Our hand is in the bottom left. We have Thief, Numbnail, and Zasp.

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Of the cards we can afford to play, let's pick the Thief, at least with that we'll have a chance to win the round. Once we've selected all the cards we want to play, we press (X) to submit.

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Here's what happens after you submit. It reveals the cards the opponent played, then each side's effects get tallied up and compared. We tied at 2 Attack, so this round ends up being a push and neither player loses HP.

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Now the next turn starts.

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Image That should cover everything. Let's continue!

Well, she didn't explain the card drawing rules, so I'll take care of that. Each turn, you draw two cards (up to a maximum hand size of 5), or three cards if you had an empty hand. So this turn, our hand contains four cards.

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Let's just do this. (Notice we had 3 TP to spend this turn, each turn our TP goes up by 1 until it maxes out at 10. We gradually ramp up to more expensive cards.)

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Yowch. There's Numb in action: it disables one Attacker card. Specifically, it hits the one in front (the first one you selected), so if you're playing multiple cards you can lead with the weakest to be slightly safer. We only had the one, so we lose to a puny Seedling, and lose 1 HP.

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Let's try this?

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So much for that. Her Numbnail cancelled out our attacker, and this round's another push. The Inichas didn't end up doing anything: its ability says Coin (1), which means it literally flips a coin and only gets the bonus on heads. She didn't get heads.

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We have both Zasp and Mothiva, and exactly 5 TP lets us play them both. Each of them gets a bonus from the other so this is an easy choice.

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Yeah, that was an easy win. Notably, because Mothiva and Zasp are both Mini-Bosses, Carmina's Numbnail doesn't do anything against us, it can only disable Attacker cards (the ones with green backgrounds).

Also, you can see Mothiva's Heal ability triggering, which gives us back 1 HP. Heal is pretty good.

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Keeping it simple. I think that's the way to go here.

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Another loss.

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Tough call here. Looking back at it, I'm not sure why I made this play: the second Venus' Bud is redundant (Lifesteal heals you if you win the round, but we're only down 1 HP so the second is pointless), and playing the extra doesn't get us extra card draw or anything. I should've played Mothiva instead.

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See? Would've won if I played Mothiva, instead it's a push.

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Ooh, Carmina has her Boss this turn.

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Let's just go with straight power.

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Let's unpack what happened here. The three cards she played were Spider, Zasp, Seedling. Spider goes first and its summons trigger, adding Inichas and Jellyshroom to her played cards. Then everything else gets totaled up.

We actually lost this on a coin flip: if the Inichas had come up tails, she wouldn't have gotten that 2 defence, and then our 8 attack would win. But with the defence, 7 beats 6 and we lose.

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Let's just play everything we drew, I guess.

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We win. Not by much, though.

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Again, just playing everything we drew. The late-game often ends up looking like that.

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We lose again. This deck isn't impressing me.

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Another turn where we just play everything we have.

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This time, though, it works. We also get 1 HP back from Lifesteal.

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Finally, the Devourer showed up! We may as well play everything.

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Devourer's "Vs Bugs" kicks in (Zasp counts) and gives us an extra 3 Attack, which ends up winning us the round.

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Another turn where we'll just play everything we drew. I'm not showing a lot of strategic play here, I promise it can be more interesting than this!

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And we win this exchange, and with it, the match.

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Image Seems you are ready for the real thing...

Image 34 - Dodgy Business

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When we come out of the Spy Cards game, we briefly see Logbook Updated show up in the corner; we also get a Discovery for this, as Carmina alluded earlier.

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The Discovery text goes into more of the various keywords we might find on cards. It's handy to have this here as a reference (though it's a bit awkward we can't check it in the middle of a game!).

Let's talk to Carmina again.

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If we decline:

Image A shame you turned out so spineless...

That said, let's go.

Image Ready yourself. This will be a duel for the books!

Image Click me for video!

Image 29 - Team, This One's Stronger! (Miniboss)

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Let's build a new deck.

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This is the Venus deck, my favourite deck for Spy Cards. I'll explain how it works in a moment; I'm not going to claim this is the best possible deck, but it's quite reliable, and it can be built entirely from enemies you're guaranteed to have met prior to this point. If you can't make out the cards, here's what the list is:

Boss: Venus' Guardian
Miniboss 1: Acolyte Aria
Miniboss 2: Monsieur Scarlet
Venus' Bud (x4)
Thief (x2)
Bandit (x3)
Burglar (x3)

The core idea here is that we're building around Venus' Guardian. It gets +3 Attack for each Venus' Bud played along with it, and they're cheap, so we'll play a bunch of them. They also have Lifesteal, so we can tack them onto other turns in the hope of getting more HP. Aria plays into this strategy too, she gets three coin-flip chances to summon a Venus' Bud.

Monsieur Scarlet is more or less a default choice, since neither Zasp or Mothiva are much good if we're not playing the other, but he has a conditional heal so he plays into what we're doing anyway. Then we fill out the rest of the deck with Attacker cards at various costs. (I go with the bandits rather than, say, Seedlings, because there's a real risk of opponents playing Weevils.)

It's not terribly sophisticated, really, but it gets the job done. We're not going to do better with our current card pool, though it's possible my ratios aren't completely optimal.

Let's give it a go.

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Well, this is a bit unfortunate, but not that surprising given we're only playing two copies of Thief. We don't have anything we can play. We can just press (X) without selecting any cards and pass our turn, though. This deck often forfeits the first turn, but it's fine.

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As we expected, we lose. (As I mentioned before, Midges used to be classed as an Effect card and had Unity 1, but now they're just 1 Attack.)

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We have a full hand this turn, but with 3 TP we can't play many of them. Bandit it is.

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That's a push.

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An actual decision! Burglar, or double Thief?

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I'd rather do double Thief here, to draw more cards next turn (and be safer if she plays Numbnail).

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It's a tie again.

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This is the best play we can make this turn, I think. I want to cycle out the bud to draw more cards anyway.

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Close one, but we still lose.

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This was a bit of a misplay on my part, honestly. I should have played the second Bandit instead of Scarlet, they both give the same attack for the same cost and I could have held Scarlet for a later turn when I could have triggered the bonus.

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We win the turn, at least.

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If I'd played the Bandit instead of Scarlet, I could've triggered his heal this turn pairing him with the Burglar. Oh well.

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We win the exchange, at least! (If you watch the video very closely, you might see something peculiar here - the Miniboss card Carmina plays shows a 4 TP cost initially, before turning into Acolyte Aria. She's actually playing her own card, which turns into a random other miniboss.)

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Keeping it simple, let's just go for damage.

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Overkill, but it got the job done.

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I wasn't optimistic about winning this exchange; it seemed wasteful to spend too many cards on a losing turn, so I'm holding back.

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What the hell, is Carmina cheating? That's two copies of Monsieur Scarlet! She shouldn't be able to do that. (It's her morphing card picking him. I think the game does cheat a bit here, and bias it toward cards we've already seen, the devs updated this minigame a couple of times trying to minimise how many future enemies it'd spoil.)

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Making the best of what we drew.

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We win the hand, and recover 1 HP from Lifesteal.

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I wasn't sure whether I wanted to play Aria here or hold her in case we draw Venus' Guardian, but given Carmina has a Mini-Boss I thought it was better to go for it (especially since she's on 1 HP, so this is game point).

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We heal 1 from Scarlet regardless of winning or losing the trick; on top of that, Aria won two coin flips, meaning winning here got us back to full. This deck is good at that (even if it's irrelevant right now, since the match is over).

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Image 34 - Dodgy Business

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Image So it seems. Good game.
Image Ahahaha... Ahahahahahah!

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Image We get anything for winning?
Image Don't bring your greed into our battleground, Vi.
Image Mhm. This was nothing more than a duel to clash our wits. To think I'd be bested...
Image But if you really want a prize, there's a big competition on Metal Island.
Image Rich bugs board the boat on the pier there, and watch us play for sport.
Image The entry is pricey, but nothing compared to the prize.
Image Wait, you can make money playing card games?
Image It sounds fun. Can we enter, then?
Image Take this, Leif.

Image 11 - Key Item!

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Image If you wish to enter... you'll need to fill up that Blank Card.
Image Search for the four Card Masters across Bugaria. That's all I can say.
Image Could we have a tip, at least? Bugaria is quite vast...
Image ...Eh, sure. Why not. The first card master... is old. Good luck.

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With that, she leaves.

Image Heheh. Let's go look for them! You've gotta win that prize!

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I love how baffled Vi initially is at the concept of playing cards for money; characters like her are usually into gambling. Also, Leif's competitive streak comes out again; was anyone expecting him to get hooked on card games?

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If we check our quest log, we'll see a new sidequest has been automatically added.

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That's all we know, for now. We have Carmina's hint that the first one is someone old (you can probably guess who this is), and we might have an idea who one of the others is (the person we saw her playing with at the Golden Festival). We don't have any clues for the other two. We'll have to follow up on those leads and see if we can't qualify for the tournament.

This is one of the game's more involved sidequests, obviously. I love that they programmed in a complete TCG for this: it's not the most sophisticated game ever, obviously, but it's still fun and there's real gameplay here.

With this, we've wrapped up what we can do in the Underground Tavern for now. Next time, we'll get back to the mission: I could follow up on the Card Masters, but I happen to know we can't actually finish the quest until Chapter 3 is completed, so I'd rather postpone them until we have some more cards available and can maybe mix up our deck a bit.

If anyone still wants to vote on what medals to buy from Shades, feel free to do so. I'm seeing a solid consensus in favour of Poison Attacker and Status Booster, with HP Plus in a distant third; I'll grab all three of those unless more votes tip the scales.

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Um. Well. I'd hoped to have an update done before now, but... to put it briefly, real life bullshit has interfered. Among other things, a work project I'd had on the back burner has suddenly become very urgent, so I'm going to have to focus on that for the next few days and that's going to delay the update even further.

I apologise for the interruption in service, I hope it won't be too much longer. In the meantime, I've finally gotten to updating the character page, at least.

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Take your time. Things will get better!

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20: Sandbox Gameplay (Part 1)

I'm sorry about the delay between updates; for better or worse, I've had a lot to deal with offline recently. I can't guarantee a return to the prior pace for the foreseeable future either, unfortunately, so thanks for bearing with me in the interim.

Image 34 - Dodgy Business

We left off last time having explored the Underground Tavern, and been introduced to Spy Cards. Let's pick up there. Here's a bit of alternate dialogue I forgot to show:

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(Incidentally, this is a complete lie, there's no way Leif could actually have read up on the rules! The Discovery Log entry doesn't get added until after Carmina's tutorial. That said, even if it doesn't make perfect sense, I appreciate having the option to skip the tutorial.)

Image You're a cheeky one, aren't you? I hope your "studying" proves enough.
Image When you're ready, let us battle!

From there it goes right into the deckbuilding screen. This completely skips the tutorial round in addition to all of the related dialogue, so it can save a lot of time on repeat playthroughs.

Now, before we leave, we have some business with Shades. The thread overwhelmingly voted for me to get Poison Attacker and Status Booster, so let's do that.

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Image Kehehe! Here you go, my lovelies...

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Image Come back if you still have any berries left to spend! Kehehe!

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These will definitely both come in handy. Also, I made a mistake last time: I was going to buy HP Plus also, as that got a handful of votes, but as it turns out that one doesn't get added to his stock until next chapter, I'd had it wrong in my notes.

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Despite everything I said earlier, I'm going to have Leif equip Status Booster. It may not work on Frigid Coffin, but it'll boost Icefall for crowd control purposes and I may as well get some utility out of it.

Let's be on our way.

Image 06 - Outskirts

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We need to pass through the Outskirts on our way to the Lost Sands. And would you look at that, it's Delilah and Stratos! They certainly weren't here before.

Let's check the banter first.

Image It's Team "Not Slacker".
Image Indeed. They must be thoroughly scouting this area!
Image Heheh. Let's get a lead on some exciting stuff!

Let's see what they have to say.

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Image Ah! Team Snakemouth! We're doing fine. We were investigating the outskirts for secrets!
Image It seems there is a place Seedlings like to gather up ahead. But you need to cross the river to reach it.
Image Indeed. But we don't have time to try to cross it! More mysteries await to be unveiled!
Image So you will just leave that area unchecked?
Image Think of it more as an opportunity for you to find out more about it!
Image By the way, I have heard that the "Seedling Haven" is a great spot to find Golden Seedlings.
Image Be careful, though. Golden Seedlings are really strong and you shouldn't underestimate them.

(You don't have to rub it in, Stratos.)

Image But they are known for carrying rare berries, so it is up to you to fight them or not.
Image Well, I can't say no to treasure! Thanks for the tip!
Image No problem! Stay safe!

This is a pretty big hint. Specifically, you may remember that one of the Bounties we learned about from Doppel was for something called the Seedling King; maybe this is related to that?

Now that we've met Doppel, Stratos and Delilah will start popping up in various places to give us hints about where to find the Bounties. Seeing them is a pretty good sign that one of them is in a nearby area; once we beat the Bounty, they'll leave.

We can also talk to them again to get a truncated version of the hints:

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Image Don't know why, though, but it seems it is easier to find Golden Seedlings there!

This is absolutely true; I'll cover it in more detail once we can actually go there.

Image I sensed a strong presence beyond the river. Be careful when going there.

And Stratos heavily implies there's a boss.

The banter stays the same. In fact, that banter in particular is shared among all of their bounty hint locations.

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It's hard to see from this distance, but there's a path to the north behind the weeds on the other side of the river. That's the area Team Slacker were talking about, and where the Seedling King can be found. Unfortunately, we can't get across the water with our current abilities, so this is going to have to wait.

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We actually need to be going east.

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Specifically, this is where progress is. The Lost Sands are to the north, and we can use the crank to lower this bridge now. Also, why are Gen and Eri here?

Image It's Gen and Eri!
Image They seem stuck. Let us find a way for all of us to cross!

If we talk to them:

Image Ah, geez! How does this bridge work? Where's the worker?

Image I hope we cross soon. These Underlings don't play nice at all!

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Also, the sign.

Let's lower the bridge. It's a simple matter of using Beemerang Halt on the crank.

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Is that one of Venus' buds on the far side?

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Image Mhm. We were stuck here for a while.
Image It wasn't much!
Image We'll get going now. See you in Defiant Root!
Image Be careful, now!

After this, they leave. Let's get going.

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Image Looks like it wants to tell us something...

Let's talk to the bud.

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Image Venus?!
Image Hee hee... Yes, that's me!
Image I decided to help you in your quest.
Image Really!? You're gonna beat up stuff with us!?
Image ...I'm not a combat Goddess! But I CAN heal you up in no time!
Image ...Y'know, for a small offering of 8 berries.
Image What?!
Image Why would a Goddess need money?
Image Listen, Aria and my followers want to thrive in life too, and they are way too dedicated to me to get other jobs.
Image So it's the least I can do for them! Besides, 8 berries is nothing for adventurers like you!
Image Sounds like a fair deal, team. It helps us, AND Venus' followers!
Image Mhm! Just shove the berries in this bud's mouth when you want some healing, alright?

This is interesting. I'm not entirely sure how the mechanics of this work (how does feeding the flower berries get them to her followers, anyway?), but I'm not going to complain. Yellow save crystals are going to become rarer from here on out, but Venus' buds often show up in their stead, and 8 berries isn't particularly exorbitant. May as well:

Image Hey guys! Venus here.

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We're actually still injured from the fight against Monsieur Scarlet, I hadn't stopped at an inn or anything yet, so we may as well take advantage of this.

Image Here you go, some Venus special healing!

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Venus' healing breath fully restores our HP and TP.

Image Please come by again, I'm always up for a chat.

Let's see what else she has to say while we're at it.

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Image Ahead are the Lost Sands. There's monsters and bandits everywhere, and the sand makes everything way too hot!
Image I'll try to support you as much as I can, but be careful, as not even my roots can reach all of the desert.

She'll generally give vague hints and/or flavour text.

There's also a new banter now that we've spoken to the bud:

Image So Venus really is all across Bugaria...
Image Well, she's like a super Goddess, right?
Image Indeed. That she would bless us with her healing... I'm beyond grateful!
Image Easy there.

This seems to be a universal banter for any bud we find.

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Let's move on.

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This is the entrance to the Lost Sands. As soon as we start walking in, our team decide to have a conversation:

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Image They're way too huge. It's gonna take ages!
Image It'd be nice if we could move just a bit faster...
Image ...Well, why not just run?
Image If we tap (B) twice with me at the front...

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Image Bleh... Whatever gets us outta there faster.
Image We'll try to keep up, Kabbu.

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This conversation unlocks a new field ability for Kabbu, and with it a new battle skill. If this conversation and placement seems a little awkward... well, honestly, it is. This was actually added in v1.1, as a quality-of-life feature; the running ability didn't exist in earlier versions, and Dash Through unlocked later in the game.

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Here's a demonstration of Kabbu's new ability. Double-tapping B will start him running, and then he'll keep going until you either press B again or collide with an obstacle. This is definitely much faster than we could go before (though honestly at times it can be a bit hard to see where you're going). Also, Kabbu runs horn-first, so this can help first-strike enemies, or just avoid battles by knocking them aside.

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Dash Through is expensive, but we finally have another move that hits multiple enemies! This does (Kabbu's attack +1) base damage, ignores 1 point of defence, and can flip enemies. Not bad.

There's also a banter here:

Image It feels like just yesterday, when we crossed this gate.
Image With the current Wasp situation, it's become quite fortified.
Image Uh huh. It's a really big wall, too.
Image ...Imagine if all the sand poured out into the Ant Kingdom!
Image Let's not, Kabbu.

It's not completely clear to me what prior crossing he's referring to (if he's talking about his backstory, I got the impression he'd have been alone, so I'm not sure why he says 'we').

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Image Please do be careful, the number of bandits roaming the sands has been increasing lately.
Image To reach Defiant Root, keep going northwest to the base of the Big Tree.
Image Do NOT approach the Wasp Kingdom border to the northeast! Stay clear from it!

The gate guard gives us directions, and also a warning.

Image This Ant guards the Lost Sands gate.
Image What, that's it?
Image I... I don't know what else to say.
Image Stop wasting time! Get a move on!

This got a laugh out of me, I'll admit.

There's one other person to talk to, to the right of the gate.

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Image But I can't go to the desert yet, I am still preparing for my journey.
Image If you plan on crossing the desert, keep in mind it is much bigger than it seems.
Image Everywhere you look, there is sand. Keep a mental map when you plan on crossing!

This is good advice.

Image That hat... would it not worsen the heat?
Image Apparently, it keeps you quite cool.
Image Seriously? I don't think I'd look good with one, though...

And this is cute.

Before we set off into the desert, let's take a quick peek at an alternate timeline. With all this talk of how the gate is now open, would it have been closed if we'd come here earlier?

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Yes. If you come here before getting the mission from the Queen, the gate is shut.

Image Halt. The passage to the Lost Sands is closed for the time being.
Image We are investigating a series of cases under the Queen's orders. We'll open up when we're done.

The turbanned bug also has different dialogue:

Image Hey hey. If you want to cross the desert, tough luck. Right now, no one can pass from this side.
Image If you want to cross, you'll have to convince the Ant Queen to give you permission.
Image HAH! Good luck with that!

Enlightening. Anyway, it's clear you can't sequence break and go to the Lost Sands before fighting Venus' Guardian or anything, even though you just need the Beemerang upgrade to lower the bridge.

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Enough ado, let's head in.

Image 36 - Lost Sands

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The giant tools lying around definitely help confirm that this desert is actually a literal sandbox. Also, let's see what this new discovery is about.

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And, of course, the area banter:

Image The Lost Sands... we've come back at last.
Image The heat never gets any less awful...
Image You traveled all through this to get to the Ant Kingdom? Separately?
Image It would've been way easier with Vi around, though!
Image Heheh. Same to you.
Image Well, it's nice to have a guide... Lead the way, you two.

Aw, they're bonding.

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We can get an idea of what a maze this place is going to be already, this screen has three visible exits. Before that, though, there's a new enemy here.

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There's also a new transition animation!

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Let's find out what these are.

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Image It is otherwise unimpressive. Not even digging will spare it from our magic. Let's decimate it.

Um, Leif, it doesn't even have 10 HP. How do you propose to do that?

Psicorps aren't all that intimidating, but they're not trivial to deal with. (These are actually based on pseudoscorpions.)

We'll just do some attacks this turn; a lot of the enemies in this area have defence, so relaying to Kabbu continues to be a good idea.

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This attack will cause 2 turns of poison if not blocked.

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They can also choose not to attack, and just burrow underground.

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Still, this isn't too scary. Kabbu can finish off the first one easily.

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Underground enemies, of course, can be forced to surface with Leif's ice attacks. (Though it's worth noting, he does need to deal nonzero damage or they'll stay underground.)

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Easy enough to clean up from there. Notably, we're a bit overlevelled, to the point we're just getting pity EXP from these.

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Let's go west first.

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The banter for this screen is short and sweet.

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We can't cross the big gap full of cacti right now, though there's definitely something on the other side.

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Let's just head north?

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When we get close to it, the small cactus gets up and reveals itself to be an enemy.

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It has an Underling with it, but let's find out what the new thing is before anything else.

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Image It's a bit too tough for the Beemerang... Better let Kabbu handle it!

These Cactilings are the new Seedling variant for the area. We'll see what they're about soon enough; for now, though, let's just get some damage in on the Underling.

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On its turn, the Cactiling uses this spinning attack. This looks a bit scarier than it actually is because Kabbu has Favorite One on (it's base 2 damage), but it's tricky to block and hits twice.

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Leif finishes off the Underling.

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Cactilings have a hefty 2 defence, but they can be flipped, so they're not quite as durable as they look.

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With decent block timing, their attack looks a lot less terrifying.

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Anyway, it's easy enough to clean up after that. These are still worth EXP, at least.

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Let's actually go north now.

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Image These poor cacti! It must be so difficult being bunched up together.

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Heh.

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This isn't a particularly difficult group.

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With all the Underlings around, it's not uncommon to find Danger Spuds after battles in here.

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This screen has two more exits that we can reach.

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The southeast exit takes us back to the first screen.

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There's an exit we can't reach behind the rubble; we'll need some later abilities to get past this log.

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Let's see what's this way.

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Image Uh, any idea what that is?
Image No clue... It's got some scribbles, though.
Image The ancient language... I'm sure Neo would love to check this out later!

It's not easy to see from this angle, but the awning-looking thing over that big rock appears to be a book. That's probably the writing they're talking about here, which does raise some interesting questions...

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This burrowing enemy seems to be something new! With good timing, Kabbu can smack it right as it emerges.

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Whatever it is, it starts the battle underground.

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Image Its teeth are so sharp that they can bite through stone! Leif, we will need your assistance!

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As usual, Leif's attacks can force these to surface. Then the others can attack it.

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Arrow Worms only have one attack: they burrow underground if they weren't already, then pop out and lunge. This has a base damage of 4, which can really hurt if you're not expecting it. The predictability makes them a lot less scary than they could be, though.

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Later in the fight, the Cactiling shows off their other attack, launching spikes at range. This only does one hit, so it's less painful than the spin, but it comes out fast.

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Arrow Worms are giving 4 EXP at our current level; they're one of the higher yield enemies here.

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The sand pit and boulder are blocking the way north, so this south exit is the only way we can go from here.

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Which brings us back to where we started. We just went in a loop.

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Considering I've taken some damage in these fights, I figured I may as well backtrack to Venus and heal before proceeding. This is far enough that it will cause the enemies we killed to respawn, but we'll be taking a different path this time so that's not a big deal.

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Let's head east from the start this time.

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Image What could be locked behind the door here?
Image Pretty suspicious... We could ask when we get to town.

We'll see what door they're referring to soon enough.

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Ooh, that's an HP Plus up there. We definitely want that if we can find a way up. First things first, though, let's deal with this Cactiling.

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It has a Psicorp with it. These fights are still honestly not interesting enough to show in full, but we do get to see the Psicorp's other attack this time:

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The bouncing before attacking is the clue that this version is coming; this one has a fakeout before the actual hit, and causes 2 turns of sleep if not blocked. Sneaky.

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That said, it doesn't stop us winning the battle.

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There's some kind of fortress here with a locked gate, but we don't have the key. This definitely looks like something that will turn out to be important later.

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Jumping onto these rocks from the ledge is the key to getting the HP Plus medal. This is trickier than it looks, the rocks are kind of tiny and it's easy to fall off.

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Vi's Beemerang can grab it from there. This is our fourth copy!

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For now, Kabbu can take off the poison medals in exchange for this. We haven't seen the last of the poison strategies by any means, but I don't feel the need for them right now.

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A Cactiling waits for us by the north exit.

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Another straightforward battle.

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This one drops a new item for us, though! Cactilings have a decent chance of leaving behind Succulent Berries. These give us the option of more gradual healing, which could come in handy in long fights; also, if used outside battle, it restores 6 HP immediately. This also opens up some new recipes, though I'll wait to cover that until we get to town.

Let's go north.

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This area looks different!

Image That rock formation is impressive. It almost looks bug made.
Image Was it always here? Did ya get to see it way back?
Image Err... no. This is our first time here, really.
Image That's a shame. I'm sure many researchers would love a glimpse of the past!
Image As long as it's not from us...

Speaking of researchers, it looks like Hawk is here. Let's see what he's up to.

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Image Could there be a path I haven't noticed yet?

There's also a banter about him:

Image Hawk seems, uh... stumped.
Image Understandably. There really seems no way to climb up.
Image Hmm. If we get creative, there's gotta be a way...

This screen has a puzzle we can solve.

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If we head over to the left side of the arch, there's a Cactiling we can freeze to make a big block. (If we fought it, we'd find it was a battle with a single Cactiling and nothing else, and it respawns immediately upon being defeated. It's here to be used for the puzzle.)

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With careful use of the slopes, we can jump onto the block.

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And from there up to the ledge. There's a bit of time pressure here, because the enemy will thaw if we take too long.

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The whole point of getting up here was so Kabbu could kick this tyre down. It rolls into place to make a staircase up the right side.

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Image I simply must see what's at the top. I'll see you there!

Hawk has new dialogue after doing that.

Image Alright! Let us climb to the top!

And the banter updates to this.

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It can be a bit tricky jumping onto the tyre because of the way the ground slopes. You want to jump diagonally rather than from directly to the left of it, because the ditch it rolled through is a bit lower down.

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What's this up here?

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A new medal, for one thing! More on that in a moment. As soon as we pick it up, Hawk comes to meet us.

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Image Not that I've ever seen one...
Image Weird place to put a statue, right?
Image Maybe this place looked much different, and only the relic withstood the test of time...
Image Hey! At least we found something we can use here!
Image A Medal, huh?
Image So this was a Medal covered in dust... Fascinating. I'll have to write up a hefty report.

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Image Mmmmm. Would you mind testing its properties on the field? I don't really mind if you keep it.
Image I've got the data I wanted already.
Image Cool. Thanks, Hawk.
Image Once I am done with my research in the desert, I shall head back to the Hive.
Image May we meet again.

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With that, Hawk leaves, and we get another discovery entry.

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That's all very mysterious, isn't it? (I do like the use of tardigrades as a mysterious ancient artifact, considering they're known for their durability and resilience.)

Let's check out this new medal.

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Image Tardigrade Shield is something new: this is a skill-granting medal that any of our bugs can equip. It's also only 1 MP, so the opportunity cost for equipping it is minimal. The skill it grants is called "Sturdy", and it's... interesting. It's basically a defencive stance: for 3 TP, the user will get +3 defence and status immunity for the turn. 3 defence is, frankly, huge. It negates any extra turns, though, so if you want the user to take other actions (like, say, using Kabbu's Taunt), you need to do that first. We'll have to test out the "converting extra turns into HP" feature, too.

This skill was quite severely buffed in v1.1; in previous versions, it only gave +1 defence, and therefore wasn't particularly worth using. At +3 defence, though, this skill is great (even if, at 3 TP per use, you can't afford to spam it).

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Let's keep exploring.

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Looks like the western exit from that room takes us back here, but on the other side of the sand pit!

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Which means we can go north.

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Well, this is certainly a room.

Image Woah! That's one BIG quicksand pit!
Image Doesn't seem like we can just walk through, either.
Image These twigs look quite flimsy... I should be able to open a path for us.
Image Good old reliable Kabbu!
Image Hehehehe...

This room is a sort of central hub for the Lost Sands. It connects to many other areas, though we can't reach everything yet.

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This is the central gimmick: Kabbu can cut down these sticks with his horn, and they'll fall to make bridges. As we explore the area, we'll gradually knock down more and more of them to open new paths.

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For now, there's only one way to go.

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There's a Cactiling on this platform.

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There are some enemies here, but these battles still aren't particularly interesting.

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Nothing that happened was interesting enough to show, frankly.

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We can knock down another stick to head west.

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But that's a dead end for now.

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Let's try going this way.

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Hmm. Shall we test out Tardigrade Shield?

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Let's get Kabbu in back and have him taunt first, to be sure something will hit him.

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Then I had Vi relay to him, so we can test the conversion of extra turns into HP. I don't think I've ever used that feature before. (Also, I don't think I've shown it before, but in this screenshot you can see the status icon for taunted enemies. I often use Taunt as the last action in the turn, in which case you don't see this before the enemies start attacking.)

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This is the animation. It looks like each extra turn is converted to 1 HP; it's nice not to completely lose the value if you accidentally do this before using the turns, I guess, but this doesn't seem like a very efficient way to heal. I certainly wouldn't advise having other characters relay just to get the healing.

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And here, you can see Kabbu's in a defencive pose.

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That damage certainly isn't getting through. This is very much overkill against these enemies, but it's proof of concept at least.

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After that little demonstration, the rest of the fight is just cleanup.

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We knock down more bridges.

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And more bridges, though this one's another dead end for now.

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Let's see what's over this way.

Image Oh, that artifact over there looks like Kut's tools!
Image It seems the ancients also sliced things.
Image Ya reckon they had Beemerangs too?
Image Eh, maybe? Or something cooler.
Image There's no cooler weapon!

It honestly took me a bit to notice the knife they're talking about; it's stuck into one of the rocks.

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There's really nothing to see here, aside from the save crystal. Let's see what's to the north.

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How did Stratos and Delilah beat us here?

Image This takes the prize for most boring place we've gone to.
Image The most innocent places can hide dark secrets. I wonder what's in here...

There's another banter if we get close to them:

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Though it's not particularly enlightening. Let's see what they're up to.

Image It's Team... not Slacker!

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Image You really did come all the way out here.
Image Do you remember our talk? We think this here's the fabled Sand Castle!
Image What, this brick?
Image Well, yes. This tablet's just waiting for its secret to be unearthed.
Image You think it's just gonna come out of the sand?
Image Maybe! No clue what's inside - but what good castle has no treasure?
Image So how does it come out?
Image Sorry, we don't know yet. And when we do, we've got to tell the Queen.
Image Aww...
Image It's still good to see a familiar face in the desert.

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I get the impression we were supposed to see this conversation before the one in the Outskirts. Oh well.

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We don't have whatever goes here, but we can certainly try this?

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Kabbu is not amused. (Leif's reasoning here is quite funny though.)

We can try talking to Team Slacker again, but it just repeats their last line of dialogue. There is a new banter now, though:

Image How can they just stay here all day?
Image For a team of "slackers", they can do the tedious work.
Image I shouldn't have misjudged them...

That's all we can do here for now, though. Let's leave them to try to figure it out.

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Let's head south from here, I guess.

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Image So we've reached another limit of the desert...
Image It'd be kind of fun to draw a map of the whole area.
Image On your own time. There's stuff to do!

A map of this area would definitely be helpful. (I'll show one once we're finished exploring.)

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The battle here is a pair of Cactilings. Still straightforward.

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More Succulent Berries! I won't complain about this.

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Going south from here would just take us to the big arch where we found the Tardigrade Shield.

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And the west exit takes us back to the sand pit. We can complete the bridge on this side, I guess, though once again we've gone in a big (largely unproductive) loop.

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This path is the last one we haven't tried.

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Let's get this enemy group out of the way first.

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Knock down another bridge...

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At least we're getting a bit more enemy variety; here's a Thief. If we hadn't done the theatre sidequest, this would be our first time seeing one.

As it stands, though, this is still pretty simple.

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Let's press on.
Last edited by Explopyro on Tue May 25, 2021 8:31 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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20: Sandbox Gameplay (Part 2)

Image 36 - Lost Sands

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Seeing a Venus' Bud next to a save crystal is at least vaguely alarming.

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This is the banter for the area; Kabbu seems to have better vision than me (and the game camera), I certainly don't see them!

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If we chat with Venus, this is all she has to say. The game is certainly telegraphing something is about to happen...

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So let's buy healing.

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When we get closer, we can finally see Gen and Eri, and start a cutscene.

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Image Hiya!
Image Hey, Team Snakemouth. How's it going?
Image Well, it's a bit hot...
Image You're traveling to Defiant Root as well?
Image Yup. We're on a mission to protect these merchants!
Image Specifically, our dear Snail. We could fight or run, but this one's pretty wimpy.
Image It's been a super good day, though. Easiest mission we've ever had!

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Of course. She just had to say it.

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Image Dangit, Eri!
Image Bandits!
Image You've got some NERVE trying to mug us!
Image D-Dear, it's okay. We can make the money back. Don't get hurt fo-
Image As if! I'd rather go down fighting than yield to these scoundrels!
Image You speak brave words, for a powerless merchant.
Image This is your last chance to surrender to the Wasp Kingdom!
Image L-Like we'd let you take anything!
Image Yeah, it's time to s-show what we can do!

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Image Hmm? Those three! They're the ones from the report!
Image That'll pay a pretty penny! Let's capture 'em!
Image You will keep your vile limbs away from my friends!
Image Let's kick their butt!
Image L-let's go!

Image 24 - Oh No! WASPS!

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Well, that escalated quickly! This is going to be a real fight. This is our first time seeing a Burglar outside the play, and we also have a completely new enemy in the Wasp Scout. Let's check her out first.

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Image Even if you call for reinforcements, we won't falter!

Yes, there's an added complication of potential reinforcements here. Wasp Scouts can call other Wasp Scouts.

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I'd put Leif in front thinking I might use Icefall here, then decided not to in the interest of letting the enemies show what they can do.

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So instead I just ended up having Vi attack the Thief, and Kabbu taunt them all.

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We've seen this attack before, at least.

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The Thief used this wind attack, which we haven't seen yet. Like other mash-type action commands we've seen, you can Super Block this after successfully mashing, but the timing is tight and I didn't manage it here.

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Wasp Scouts have a few attacks, including this diving kick for 4 base damage.

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Now that he has a charge-up, I decided I might as well have Leif go for Icefall. (You can see the Status Booster icon shows up on Leif's skills menu. I like how they put indicators in the menus to show what your medals are affecting, even if in this case it might have been better to put it on individual skills instead of the entire menu...)

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Status Booster seems to be doing good work here. Let's give it the credit, at any rate.

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Vi finishes off the Thief.

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I'll be less flashy for now, just rotating Kabbu in front and having everyone attack the Burglar.

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On his turn, he chooses to use the last attack of his we haven't seen yet. Burglars have this charge attack which hits the entire party. The base damage is 3, this is a Super Block.

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And here's another attack from the Wasp Scout, a needle throw which does two hits. Each hit of this can poison if you don't block it.

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We should be able to clean up pretty easily from here.

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Kabbu finishes off the Burglar.

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Vi knocks down the Scout.

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And Leif goes for the freeze with Frigid Coffin, to try to prevent reinforcements.

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Now we can just finish her off.

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And that's that. These enemies are worth decent EXP, too.

Image 36 - Lost Sands

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Image Shut it! Let's go!
Image You... We won't forget this!

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They flee.

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Image Yeah. Thanks, Team Snakemouth!
Image Hmph. We were going to be fine. They were weaklings.
Image You're welcome.
Image ...Those wasps are showing up more, huh?
Image It's worrying indeed. We should report this as soon as we're able.
Image We're just humble merchants. We can't help too much...
Image But we are so very grateful for your help. This isn't much, but take it.

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Yet another free crystal berry for progressing the plot. We've gotten a fair number this way by now.

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Image Of course. You won't find merchants in debt. With this, we're even.
Image We can keep the merchants safe from here. We're almost at the town!
Image Yeah. Don't let us slow you down!
Image You would never! But thank you. We'll keep going now.
Image Safe travels!

Everyone leaves after that. Whew.

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Before we leave this area, there's a new banter:

Image Smart of the bandits to hide behind that rock...
Image I wouldn't be surprised if this was a routine ambush spot. Why are there no guards around?
Image Two guards ain't gonna do anything against a bunch of 'em!
Image In any case, it's not our problem to solve. Let's keep going.

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Before that, though, let's go back to Venus and get healed again. Can't be too cautious.

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Also, it's worth making note of this sand pit for later. We can't cross it now, but it definitely looks like there could be something on the other side.

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Let's keep going.

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Image Quite the cliff, isn't it?
Image And a lot of cacti, too.
Image So thirsty... I wanna drink the cactus water... I'm gonna jump in!

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This does make me wonder what sorts of cacti grow on this scale. There are definitely some tiny species of cactus, but I'm not convinced they look like the ones here.

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There's a Succulent Berry in this weed hiding behind the cactus.

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Also, is that a medal on top of the cliff? We can't get up there from this side, though, so it's moot for now.

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There's an enemy by the exit.

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Easy enough. Let's keep going north.

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Looks like we might finally be getting close; we've reached the far wall, at least.

Image Defiant Root's just ahead! A welcome sight after so much walking...
Image And a break from the harsh sun.
Image We should drop by the Inn and sleep in a nice bed!

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That's clear enough.

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Wait, where am I going...

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We have to check this out first, of course. Standard video game procedure: if you're told to go somewhere, go everywhere else first.

Image What a big gate.
Image This is the border with the Wasp Kingdom. So the area is heavily secured.
Image I only see one guard, though.
Image A new development. She, uh, wasn't here before...

Speaking of the guard, we can talk to her.

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Image W-we're just passing by...
Image Passing by?! This is the border with the Far Grasslands, Wasp Territory!
Image Unless you want to start a war, you'd better get out of here!
Image No one crosses the border on my watch!
Image Eep! L-let's go, Kabbu!

Maybe this wasn't a good idea.

We can also, of course, talk about her:

Image The border guard's MASSIVE.
Image Perfect for the job. We'd better leave before she gets upset.

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There's also this person in the corner.

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Image *Sigh* ...I just wanna see the Wasp Kingdom!

Okay then.

Image Who'd even wanna visit the Wasp Kingdom?
Image She may be... seeking the thrill of an unknown culture?
Image Right, let's go with that...

Uuuuuhhhh, let's not speculate any further. I'm just going to get out of here.

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Another easy battle.

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We're getting close to the next rank, though.

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This barely counts as a puzzle, really. We just need to turn a crank to rotate the bridge, like we've been doing for a while now.

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We can't do anything about these rock piles still.

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Another simple battle with some Seedling variants.

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And finally, we've reached our destination.

Image 37 - Defiant Root

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Welcome to Defiant Root.

Image Ah, it's good to be back.
Image Oh yeah. You mentioned staying here back with Neo.
Image That means we've been neighbors all along!
Image Life truly is full of small surprises like that.
Image Uh, cute. Anyways... how do we get to the Hive?
Image We just keep going straight. There's a huge elevator there!
Image I-Is it safe?
Image No one's fallen off yet, so it's probably safe! Let's go get this overwith already!
Image Venus... watch over me...

This conversation happens as soon as we arrive. Also, we got a disovery.

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We'll explore the town next time; this place is pretty big and there's a lot to see.

Here's a map of what we've managed to explore so far of the Lost Sands. (I didn't make this map, it's one of a few that are on the wiki, I've just redacted it so it only shows the areas we've visited so far.)

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21: Defiant Root (Part 1)

Image 37 - Defiant Root

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Last time, we left off having just arrived in the desert town of Defiant Root. As usual with a new town, there are all kinds of places to see and people to meet, so let's get started on that.

First, though, a banter:

Image Not much has changed. There's quite a few places I want to visit...
Image Really? I usually just zoom past the town unless I need the inn.
Image We're not familiar with the area. What's good in town, Kabbu?
Image North of here is a commercial district. The baker makes fantastic honey treats!
Image Seriously!?
Image The mayor's around here too, I should greet him when I get the chance...

This town is Bee Kingdom territory (the Hive is up the nearby tree, whose root the town is named after), but Kabbu is the one who knows it best, since he spent some time recuperating here after the journey from his hometown. We'll be getting a lot of comments from him about the locals and such.

Let's talk to the gate guard first.

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Image ...I know that already.
Image Just doing my job.

There's also a banter, of course:

Image Vi, you're the only Bee explorer, right?
Image Huh? Uh, yeah! That I know of...
Image We've been thinking it's a bit weird, to see so many Bee guards, but only one explorer...
Image Look, they're not guards because they want to or anything, okay?
Image They were born to be guards, so they guard. That's it.
Image That's a bit somber...
Image ...That's just how the Hive is sometimes.

This is interesting, and definitely raises some questions about bee society and how it functions. The real question, to me, is why Vi seems willing to accept this reasoning for the other bees but not herself. (This banter is shared between all the bee guards.)

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Let's just check everything out systematically. First up is a clinic?

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Image We're not sick, just passing by.
Image That's okay. If you're ever feeling bad, drop by. First consult's free!

There's also, of course, banter:

Image Isau is such a relief to my eyes. She's treated many of my wounds.
Image Your trip from the north sounds anything but fun.
Image ...
Image Really though... it's not so bad to have someone else take care of you, right?
Image Can't argue with that.

We get more tantalising hints about Kabbu's prior adventures, though nothing concrete.

Despite this, Isau can't actually treat wounds for us in gameplay terms. She's just here. Maybe she'll become relevant for something later.

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As we come outside, we can spot this person walking around.

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That's all he has to say. Sounds like the ladybugs aren't the only ones getting a bad reputation as a result of the bandits, the dragonflies are starting to see knock-on effects too.

Image Poor Dran... He's had it rough lately with all these bandits.
Image Mhm... even though he is such a fine fellow, it's hard to escape superficial judgment.
Image ...
Image He'll be fine. And if he's not, we can help.

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I love that Kabbu actually calls this out.

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Let's check out the next building.

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Looks like this is the local tavern! There's a quest board and some familiar faces here.

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Vi still absolutely refuses to interact with this particular bee, and won't let the rest of the team talk to her either.

Image Great... she's here too.
Image Wonder what she's up to.
Image Don't know, don't care.
Image Isn't Vi being a bit too mean...?

All right then. Let's go meet some new people, then.

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This is all the proprietor has to say.

Image That eyepatch... so cool!
Image Seriously, Kabbu? Those are for covering wounds, you know.
Image Yeah. Can't believe you're so insensitive!
Image W-Wait, I said it was cool out of respect!

This is a cute bit of commentary, I like this. Kabbu also seems like the type who would genuinely compliment battle scars, anyway.

Image

The other person behind the counter just points us in the direction of the quest board.

Image It's quite convenient to have quest boards all throughout the kingdom.
Image Must be a drag to update all of them...
Image Works for us, though. Completing these gives super good stuff!
Image Indeed. Let's check up on them every now and then.

The mechanics of how the boards get updated are probably best not thought about, despite the game drawing our attention to it.

Image

Image

Image

Image

There are three new quests for us now! We haven't met Crisbee or Vivi yet; Kut we definitely know. Looks like there's going to be some cooking in our future, among other things. I'll grab all of these for now, though we won't be doing them in this update.

Image

Image I am certain he's fine!
Image Or maybe he...

Image

Kina's hanging out here too; you'd think Leif would know better than to jerk her chain by now, but apparently not. (Leif is such a troll.)

Image Kina's search for Maki continues...
Image That's cute and all, but she better not forget her job!
Image Knowing her, she's already finished. She's scary efficient when making time for Maki.

Though that raises other questions, doesn't it? We usually see exploration teams working as a unit (to the point Eetl won't give permits to un-partnered bugs), but Maki and Kina have been operating separately each time we've run into them...

Anyway, let's talk to Dan too.

Image

Image By mixing flour with different ingredients, it's possible to create so many different pastries! I must taste all of them!

He has a solid hint for us, too. As we'll see shortly once we get to the bakery, the cooking system is about to open up dramatically. Flour can be mixed with almost everything, and will roughly double the number of recipes available to us. It's worth experimenting with.

Image Ah... we can't help but be hungry around this bug.

Image

Image Oh? We just might order some stuff, then...
Image Don't mind if we join you!

I'm including the screenshot in this banter, because Vi's unimpressed expression completely changes the meaning of what she's saying.

That's everything to be seen in the tavern, let's keep exploring.

Image

To the south, we can find a big well and someone else to talk to.

Image

Right, go down the well. Understood.

Image I dunno why bugs stay here. It's all sandy and stuff.
Image ...You know, yeah. We wouldn't make this a permanent stay.
Image It's a very tightly knit community, with strong traditions!
Image Can't they just do their traditions somewhere nicer?
Image ...I swear, Vi...

What this has to do with this person or the well, I'm not sure, but it's nice to get some insight into what everyone's thinking.

Image

Right, down we go.

Image

That said, there's not actually anything to see down here. Maybe it'll become important later.

Image

What's this little stall about?

Image

Image Only one way to find out.

We can see this banter first.

Image

There's also a sleepy pillbug here.

Image ...
Image Um, Leif? Is something on your mind?
Image We want it.
Image We're not getting any pets!
Image We really really really want it.
Image Whatever. Talk to the merchant. But I ain't helping you buy it!

Leif's love of cute little critters strikes again. Let's talk to the merchant and see what's going on here.

Image

Image A bed bug... rental service? Sir, what exactly do you mean?
Image It's all in the name. This pillbug here is incredible, I tell ya.
Image If you're tired, he will lull you to sleep and heal you fully!
Image Let's rent it, team.
Image Seriously!? This sounds like a huge scam!
Image B-But the pillbug...
Image ...Look. I don't ever do this, but if it'll earn your trust...
Image First rental's free, how's that? As soon as you sleep, though, he'll come back to me.
Image This is quite the interesting business model...
Image Well... if the first try's free, I can't say no!
Image Yes... yes!
Image You won't regret it. He'll show you his super powers!

Image 11 - Key Item!

Image

Image He'll do his best, so take care of him, okay?
Image We will. Oh, we will.
Image D-Don't forget we must return him...

The Bed Bug goes into our Key Items menu, and we can use it from there, once, as a portable inn to fully heal ourselves (outside battle only, of course). Once we do, though, it'll disappear from our inventory and go back to Morty, and he'll charge us 30 berries if we want to rent it again.

It's a pretty useful little feature, though honestly I usually forget I have it and never end up using it (there are enough healing points distributed across the game world that you're never that far from one). I suspect it's mainly here for the sake of puns, though of course it can come in handy in a pinch.

Image Hey. How's the little guy doing?
Image We couldn't be happier.
Image Just don't hang onto him TOO long, okay?

I don't think Morty quite realises who he's dealing with; let's hope this doesn't become a problem.

Image I must say, Morty's services were better than I expected.
Image It's super useful to rest anywhere! If I was him, I'd charge WAY more!
Image The idea that our dear bed bug could be rented to another bug... Team, we must keep renting at all costs.
Image Uh, just remember we don't own it or anything, okay?

Yeah, this isn't going to end well. Leif, don't steal people's pets? Please?

Image

That toy car looks a bit suspicious, doesn't it?

Image

Yes, we can use it as a staircase. It is, in fact, the only way to get to the upper level.

Image

There's a free Berry Juice we can grab up here.

Image

Looks like this is the mayor's residence. We met him before at the Golden Festival.

Image

Image Mayor... thank you. I'm currently on a mission, however. I'll come back again.
Image Anytime, Kabbu. Bring your friends, too!

The mayor's a nice guy.

Image Getting to the mayor's house is super weird, isn't it?
Image Eh... we think it's a cute method.
Image Regardless of the route, this is a great place to live in.
Image He can easily oversee the whole town from here!
Image Look, all I'm saying is he could've paid for some stairs.

I guess it makes sense to use what you have? Though it is a bit weird they constructed this building without any inherent way to reach the upper level (maybe the bees built it, or at least someone else who could fly?).

Image

Image

We can walk along this balcony to the eastern side, but the second entrance is locked and we don't have any kind of key.

Image

We haven't finished exploring this screen, but let's check out the northern sector of town first.

Image

This is the commercial district of Defiant Root. There's a lot to see here. Let's check the banter first:

Image Business is booming.
Image There's so many shops, and they all sell unique items!
Image We simply cannot skip going to the bakery!
Image We feel there's more to this place. A little supply gathering detour won't hurt.

Look, it's Fuzzo!

Image

Image ...I'm bad at this, so I'll only say it once. Thank you.
Image It was no problem! Now, for a rew-
Image It was nothing! We look forward to buying from you in the future.
Image Heheheh.

The rest of the caravan are probably somewhere nearby too. For all that it's very much a recurring schtick, it's fun how many different ways they find to play with Vi asking for rewards for everything.

Image These merchants really get around.
Image Defiant Root's the best place to restock, you know? They get lots of stuff for cheap!
Image You're surprisingly well informed...
Image If it's about money, it shouldn't surprise you.
Image Yep! In business, knowing's half the battle!

Now to check out the shop.

Image

Image That's a dumb question. How would she have our items if she wasn't?
Image Perhaps they work in shifts, and transfer items between each other...
Image So is she Amber or not!?
Image Dunno.

Again, the game draws our attention to things like this. Don't ask how Amber gets here, just be glad that she is.

Image

Image

Image Please do check my other wares.

This is a standard shop where we can sell items, unlike the one in the Golden Settlement. That one's a weird exception, most shopkeepers are happy to buy our things.

There's also a banter:

Image That dry bread looks go-...
Image Leif?
Image Are you alright?
Image Some sand just fell on it...
Image Nothing some shaking can't fix!
Image You have fun eating it. We've got standards.

Leif doesn't seem very impressed by their wares. That said, let's take a closer look:

Image Dry Bread (7 berries)
Image Crunchy Leaf (3 berries)
Image Clear Water (3 berries)
Image Agaric Shroom (7 berries)
Image Hustle Berry (11 berries)

Aside from Crunchy Leaves and Clear Water, this is all new! Let's see what they do.

Image Dry Bread
"Defiant Root's preferred snack will leave you thirsty. Restores 3 HP to an ally and 3 TP."
Sell: 3 berries

Dry Bread is actually a cooked item; as you might expect, it's what you get if you cook flour by itself. It's okay, though don't buy it, we can literally make it cheaper next door.

Image Agaric Shroom
"This mushroom gives you a very short-lived energy burst. Restores 6 TP, numbing the eater."
Sell: 3 berries

We could have found these dropped by enemies in the desert, but we didn't luck into any. This is yet another item that inflicts a status on the eater, and in fact this is the first source of Numb status we've encountered. We'll talk about Numb more once we encounter enemies who inflict it; right now, this isn't really worth using.

Image Hustle Berry
"Scientists say it's a bean. No one cares. Eating this will grant you an extra turn... next turn!"
Sell: 5 berries

Hustle Berry is a very interesting item (even aside from the fact it's obviously a coffee bean). It's based on the "Hustle Drink", a dummied-out item from Paper Mario 64 that saw a lot of use in the Pro Mode and Master Quest ROM hacks. Effectively, this lets you give up the user's action this turn, in return for an extra action on the next turn (kind of like using Turn Relay between turns, instead of within the same turn). It may not seem powerful, but there are definitely some clever tricks you can set up with these, and I've seen them used to very good effect in challenge runs. They've also been made cheaper in v1.1, they used to cost 18 berries.

Agaric Shroom and Hustle Berry can also be used as ingredients in cooking, but let's save that discussion for the huge cooking episode that's clearly going to be coming soon.

Image 38 - Make it Crisbee!

Image

Just west of the shop is Crisbee's Bakery. He's obviously our local chef.

Image

When we talk to him, he mentions the quest we accepted, but we're going to ignore that for now. In addition to cooking, Crisbee also sells some items.

Image Oh, you noticed? I practice a lot, so I have leftover pastry and ingredients...
Image So I thought it'd be nice to sell them! Just press (A) near 'em and I'll tell you more.

There's also a banter, of course:

Image Ah, good old Crisbee's. It's nice to see this place again.
Image Again, Kabbu?
Image Mhm. On my first trip here, I would eat here every day.
Image I must say, I've heard the food's gotten even better!
Image Is that so? Now we've got to taste some...
Image A bee chef out of the Hive, huh...

Well, Crisbee seems to be a carpenter bee, and they're not eusocial like honeybees are, so it makes sense that he's relatively independent.

Let's see what he's selling:

Image Honey Drop (4 berries)
Image Bag of Flour (4 berries)
Image Nutty Cake (10 berries)

Once again, there are new items here. Let's look at them in some more detail.

Image Bag of Flour
"A bag of flour! Use it to bake many different things. Restores 1 TP."
Sell: 2 berries

Obviously, you don't want to be eating raw flour, but this is an ingredient that can be used to make lots of different things (pretty much every item in the game can be cooked with this). It's very similar to Cake Mix from the Paper Mario games. Crisbee's shop is the only place we can get it, but it's cheap.

Image Nutty Cake
"This cake's flavor is simply nuts! Restores 3 HP to an ally and 6 TP."
Sell: 5 berries

This is a basic recipe, made by mixing a Image Hard Seed and flour. I suspect it's here mostly to suggest the sorts of things we can try to make; we'd save a few berries buying the ingredients and making it ourselves.

We'll be back to explore the possibilities in more detail, and help Crisbee with his training, but for now let's continue getting to know the town.

Image

Next to these shops is a smithy, apparently.

Image

Is that a wanted poster for the desert bandits next to this person?

Image

Interesting.

Image This fellow seems to be diligently guarding this sign.
Image Huh. I think I saw him when I left the Hive, but he looked a lot happier.
Image It's not like we know what's going on in his life. We shouldn't be too nosy.
Image B-But being nosy is a part of helping others!
Image ...
Image Fine...

This is a fun conversation, too. Apparently we're not going to learn more about this right now. Someone he knows was injured by the bandits, that's all we've got.

Image

Image A new frontier of WEAPONRY awaits! By my CLAW!

Okay then. Engira's a bit eccentric, isn't he?

Image Nice claw.
Image I don't get what's the big deal with it.
Image Well, he's the blacksmith... so long as it helps him out, it's all that matters!

If you look closely, you can definitely see has an artificial claw on one arm.

Image

This is the last person for us to meet in here, but this is all she has to say for now.

Image Miss Butomu! What an honor!
Image Uh, is she special? She makes Medals, right?
Image Well, yes... but there are many tales of her strength. Of her journeys!
Image She'd slowly travel across the lands collecting materials, and no obstacle would be a match for her!
Image They say she walked right through a boulder!
Image Now that's gotta be fake...

And an interesting banter to round things off.

There's nothing we can actually do in here right now, just meet these characters. As you might have guessed, they'll each have sidequests for us later, but that's a ways off still.

Image

There's another merchant for us to meet.

Image Hey, Kabbu, is this your dad?
Image What? Vi, we look nothing alike!
Image You look pretty similar to us.
Image Excuse me? The green hues are completely different!
Image Eh... Maybe all beetles just look the same.
Image Wow. So do all bees.
Image Hey!

After a banter, of course; this one always makes me smile. (As far as I can tell, his colouration and Kabbu's seem to be the same? I'm not sure though.)

Image

Image Uh...
Image Worry not, I only wish to help. I've got some powerful berries on me.
Image Hmm. Just how powerful?
Image These berries can boost your combat abilities when eaten.
Image You can't really share them though... You'll have to decide who eats which.
Image Those sound quite helpful.
Image Bleh. Knowing these merchants it's gonna cost us a wing...
Image You're not wrong, traveler. I'm selling an HP boosting Heart Berry right now. 100 Berries.
Image What!?
Image Just think of the HP, Vi.
Image Just think of the 100 Berries, Leif!
Image Err, we'll come back when we've decided, sir.
Image Don't take too long. Who knows when they'll spoil.

This is something new! In addition to medals and ranking up, there are a handful of permanent upgrade berries around that can increase our stats. Sun here is a major source of them, though he's certainly not the only one, there are several to be found elsewhere as well. (Do note that while I say "permanent", the respec mechanic we will eventually get access to does allow redistribution of these bonuses, so mistakes can be corrected.)

Image

I can afford this, and I want it.

Image Use it well, travelers.

Image

This goes into our Key Items menu, and we can use it from there. I'm not making any decisions just yet about who gets it, I'll put that up to a vote in the thread.

Image I still have a few berries I can sell you, travelers. Come back later when you're interested.

Sounds like he might still have more; let's see.

Image

Image ...Travelers, I made my price clear. I will not be swayed.

Damn. I want this even more than the Heart Berry, but I don't quite have enough berries. I'll be back for this later.

Image

The next building is closed.

Image

Who's this?

Image

Image S-Sorry...

He doesn't seem to have much to say to us.

Image Shady mosquitoes are everywhere, huh.
Image Hey. The juice seller in the Golden Settlement is honest.
Image Indeed. Vi, you shouldn't generalize a whole group!
Image Geez, I was just saying...

(I have to admit I'm cheating a bit here: I spliced in this character's dialogue from a different file. Shay here is one of the Card Masters, and I didn't realise that having started the quest would make me get his quest dialogue now. Apparently you can face them out of order if you want, which is a thing I never actually knew you could do before; that said, I'd prefer not to do that, and we'll cover the Card Masters quest later once we can complete it.)

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Also, it's kind of hard to see, but there's a hidden passage here between the boxes!

Image

What's this?

Image

Image Err, where... no, WHEN did you hear that?
Image Kut mentioned him. His ingredients carry more toxins than you could imagine.
Image Do we even want to ask?
Image Look. We're buying these. And cooking them.
Image No way! Do it with your own berries!

Well then. A poison shop.

Image

Image Kuku. If you're interested in pain, get close to its vessel and press (A) to call me!

Edgy. Let's check out his wares.

Image Poison Dart (8 berries)
Image Poison Bomb (28 berries)
Image Danger Shroom (3 berries)
Image Danger Spud (3 berries)

The Poison Dart is new, and a counterpart to the Numbnail Darts we've been finding: it can be thrown to make a 2-power attack that attempts to poison, which is a bit underwhelming. Otherwise, we have a convenient source of Poison Bombs if we don't feel like preparing them ourselves, and finally a way to buy Danger Spuds without having to hunt enemies (which is the best part here). Not too bad!

Image

This alley also has a magician.

Image

Image Here, I offer charms which can change how battles go for you, for only a few berries.
Image I have a few different charm types, which is how long their effects will last. The longer they last, the more berries they cost of course!
Image Could I interest you in any charms?

Image

For now, let's ask for more information.

Image Simple! Once you're charmed, there is a random chance my magic will activate in battle.
Image Depending on when it activates, different effects can happen.
Image Like granting a boost of power when attacking, or increasing your toughness before an enemy attack...
Image Even recovering your HP or TP depending on what happens!
Image Charms only last a few times, however. Once they run out, you can just come back and reapply them to benefit again!
Image The charm types only change how long they last, but buying in bulk can net you a nice discount.
Image So, might I interest you in any charm?

Image

Image Aw. Come back if you ever change your mind, alright?

Let's see what our party think before we make any decisions about this?

Image Ooh! The charm dancer! We simply must purchase one!
Image We thought you weren't too keen on fortune...
Image I've seen these work with my very own eyes. There's no luck involved.
Image Uh huh... Maybe just one, then.

Kabbu's attitude here is kind of interesting, especially since (according to external materials) the unnamed fortune-teller in the Golden Settlement is her brother.

Anyway, this is Charmy. She's Bug Fables' equivalent of Merlee from Paper Mario (even to the point of being found in the back alley of a desert town, good grief). If we choose to purchase her services, we'll occasionally get random bonuses in battles until it wears off.

Let's take a look at the mechanics (shamelessly cribbed from the wiki):

There are five possible boosts, each of which can trigger at a specific time. There's a 5.5% chance of the bonus activating, after which there's a randomly-determined cooldown of 3-8 turns before another bonus can activate (though the cooldown doesn't persist between battles). Here are the effects and their associated timing:

Attack Up (for 1 turn, on one character). Can trigger whenever a character attacks, if that character doesn't already have Attack Up status.
Defence Up (for 1 turn, on the entire party). Can trigger before an enemy's attack.
Healing (20% HP to the entire party). Can trigger after an enemy's action.
TP Refund (half the amount spent, minimum 1). Can trigger after using a skill that costs TP.
EXP Increase (1.5x). Can trigger at the end of a battle.

(When compared to Merlee's bonuses in Paper Mario, these are a lot more balanced.)

If we want to purchase this service, there are three packages available:
Cheapskate (10 berries): 5 charges
Regular (20 berries): 12 charges
Overcharmed (40 berries): 23 charges

Interestingly, it looks like "regular" is actually the best value, although you might still prefer Overcharmed just so you have to refresh it less often.

I'll admit I rarely use this service: even though the effects are entirely positive, I don't much care for them arbitrarily throwing off my plans. That said, it's pretty cool and I'm glad the option exists for the people who like it. This is the other thing I'll be taking votes on this update: do you want me to show this off?

Anyway, this is the last service available in the commercial district! Whew, there was a lot to cover here. Let's get back to the rest of the town.

Image

Image I've been thinking of going on an adventure up there myself. But it's hard to find the time...
Image (Not like he's missing much...)

This person's wandering around in the foreground. There's also, of course, a banter:

Image Say, the citizens of this town really enjoy that pattern on their clothing, don't they?
Image Well, they're simple to weave yet appealing... I could see why it'd be a hit.
Image Oh. We should open our own clothing line! With squares instead of triangles.
Image No way. Circles would look way better.
Image I'll keep my triangles, thank you very much.

Seems like no discussion of local industries can be complete without Vi wanting to disrupt it.

Image

Looks like the next building is a museum! Let's check it out.

Image

Image Ancient artifacts, or historic pottery... we take pride in all of it!
Image Wooow...

I can't tell if Leif is legitimately impressed or being sarcastic here.

Image This moth looks just as old as the rest of the museum.
Image Heheh. You don't get to talk about being old!
Image Vi!
Image O-Oh. Sorry, I...
Image Heh, it's fine. Walked right into that one.
Image Phew...

I'm glad Leif took that okay, I could have seen that going badly.

Image

There are some signs to check near the exhibits.

Image

Image The union of those two clay artisan species made to the creation of all of Defiant Root's buildings, and our land's famous clay pots!
Image If you are interested, please consider purchasing your very own masterfully crafted clay pot as a souvenir!

Image

Is this a museum, or a marketing scheme? Anyway, we get a discovery the first time we read a sign in here. Let's check the other one before we see what it is.

Image

Image

Image Historians deduce that these tools were made by either roaches or giants.
Image As for their use, they might have been used as traps to keep invading troops away during times of war in these very lands.
Image No consensus on their use or creation methods has been reached yet.

Jacks would look pretty weird if you're bug-sized; they're just a bit too big and dull to work well as caltrops, but it makes sense that's their first guess as to what they are.

Image

Image

The discovery is just for the museum itself.

Image

There's just a bit more to see west of the museum, before we can move on to the next region of town.

Image

This sad lady doesn't have much to say, but the banter is slightly more interesting:

Image Something seems off about this young lady.
Image Hmm? ...! Her leg...
Image Ah... We should probably shut up.
Image I pray she did not hear us gossip...

It's hard to see, but if you look closely, she has a peg leg. Could she be the friend of the butterfly in the smithy who was attacked by bandits?

Regardless, there's nothing we can do about that now.

Image

There's a Lore Book sneakily hidden back here. It's been a while since we've found one of these!

Image

Also, we can climb up the front of the building here.

Image

Looks like somebody's hiding behind the boxes up here!

Image What the-!? ...Yikes, we didn't see him there.
Image Eep!
Image Interesting spot. Shall we see what he has to say?

Let's talk to them, I guess.

Image

Image

This person's acting surprisingly shady for someone selling legitimate merchandise. That said, it's completely legit, we can buy overpriced Spicy Berries here if we want to. Right now, though, I don't need any.

Image Fine. Don't tell ANYONE else about this!

As far as I can tell, there's no angle from which you can see this character's sprite. According to someone on the wiki, it's a pillbug, but I can't confirm that.

Image

Let's finally go west.

Image

Image Here we are. The elevator to the Bee Kingdom. Woo.
Image Gets the job done.
Image If we're going up, let's make sure we don't need anything from down here.

They don't have much to say about this area.

Image

Up the stairs is this door, but we have no way to open it right now. There's not even a lock we can find a key for. Put a pin in this for much later.

Image

The sign on the wall of the inn shows two characters, but we can only see one person inside. Wonder what that's about?

Image

Image Uh... so he's sad, basically?
Image Indeed.
Image You're dying to talk to him, aren't you.
Image ...No. When it's grief like this, only time can heal it. Let's not meddle.
Image Kabbu?

Heh. I don't think they believe you, Kabbu.

Anyway, let's talk to him.

Image

Image

The game just puts the option to be nosy right here, how are we not going to take it?

Image Oh, thank you... It's alright.
Image Some complex things happened, and I'm coming to terms with them...
Image I am grateful for your patience. Don't let it bother you.

Well, that was cryptic. Presumably we'll learn more about this eventually. (Anyone playing along, make sure you talk to him, it's necessary to start a minor sidequest much later in the game.)

Image

Image We've never seen that instrument before, actually. Is it... an artifact?
Image Isn't it just a rock with holes in it...?

Samira's here, offering her usual sound test services. She has nothing new to say about that, but that banter was new.

Image

Is that Diana? We haven't seen her in a while!

Image

She doesn't have new dialogue, she just immediately offers to dig a shortcut for us. Of course I want this.

Image Oh, that's what I'm talking about!
Image Those berries don't even taste good...
Image We don't think her taste would be the only weird thing here...
Image Oi, I'm doing you a favor, okay? Just sit and watch!

Image

Image Phew... All done! Thanks, y'all!
Image We're in your debt once again, Diana. Thank you.
Image Well, I'm off! See you some other time, folks!

The screen fades out, and when it comes back she's gone. The dialogue was identical to the last time we saw her, but at least we get a new shortcut!

Image

The guard's dialogue is the same as others we've seen at these, but there's a new banter about her:

Image Hmm... It's a bit weird to see Ant Guards so far from the city.
Image With the mines, we could say they're not too far...
Image Mhm. These tunnels were a super great idea!
Image Guess we'll have to give the Queen credit for that...

And with this, I've hit the character limit; see you in the next post.

User avatar
21: Defiant Root (Part 2)

Image 18 - In the Court of the Ant Queen

Image

We come out here, under a sign for Defiant Root. Just to our left, the stairs up to the Ant Palace, and to our right, the exit to Golden Settlement.

Image

Also, this lady is here, and we have a quest from her.

Image Oh, great! I really, really want to visit the Bee Kingdom... but the Queen hasn't allowed us to leave yet.

Image

Image Sorry. Nothing yet.
Image Aw... I will be waiting here.

We haven't been to the Hive yet, so we don't have what she's looking for. That's the dialogue we get if we don't give her anything, but what if...

Image

Image

Image Yeah. Would that do?
Image It's not a Bee, so... no.

Heh.

Image

I went to check my bank to see if I'd had enough for the Bond Berry, but no such luck. Oh well. Let's get back to Defiant Root.

Image

Image Just be careful with the monsters on the way.

Looks like there's a bit more of the Lost Sands we can explore past this exit! Let's check it out.

Image 36 - Lost Sands

Image

So this is where our caravan friends have gotten to!

Image This place's got a good view of the big tree.
Image And the Bee Kingdom...
Image It's amazing to see such a large living being!
Image Makes you feel tiny sometimes, doesn't it?
Image Nah. When you're at the top, you feel like the coolest bug in the world!

Some interesting perspectives here.

Image

Image Gotcha...

Cricketly certainly has her priorities straight.

Image

Image

While Huscada is, characteristically, a bit nicer about it. Let's check their shop:

Image Magic Seed (18 berries)
Image Burly Berry (12 berries)
Image Succulent Berry (10 berries)

They've changed their stock a bit: we can now buy Succulent Berries, but they don't have Spicy Berries so we're stuck paying inflated prices in town for the time being. (Or we could go back to Bugaria Outskirts and find the caravan miraculously there also, and get it at the usual rate... but let's ignore paradoxes for now.)

Image

Let's head east first.

Image

Image The Lost Sands sure love their rock formations...
Image And their thorns.
Image Perhaps one day, these barren places will be home to new settlements!

Image

Image

There's nothing we can do here. There are clearly platforms to the east amidst the spikes, but we can't get to them, and up on the cliff we can't progress because we'd need to knock down a log from the other side.

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So let's try the other route.

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Image Those vast walls cover the desert, don't they?
Image Mhm. When you see the Lost Sands from the Hive, it's one big box!
Image That can't be a coincidence, can it?
Image Nature works in most mysterious ways. It's possible it's mere chance.
Image We should ask Neo sometime...

I suppose a sandbox would be quite mysterious to bugs who don't know much of anything about humansgiants.

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There's also an enemy here.

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We're getting close to ranking up!

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The battles here are worth quite a lot of berries, too.

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For some reason, there's always a Crunchy Leaf in the weed up here.

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More spikes we can't cross.

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So let's keep going south.

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Image This floor is unbearable. So uneven...
Image It could be fun to roll around all the hills!
Image And ruin my fur? You're nuts!
Image We concur.
Image Killjoys...

This one's cute. Kabbu's silly side is coming out again.

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There are a couple of enemies to take care of here.

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These battles aren't terribly interesting still, but I do like that they're mixing in old enemies with the new ones to switch things up. Midges are still annoying!

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While it's not the best idea (the Midges will still counter!), there were enough enemies here I decided to demonstrate Kabbu's new Dash Through skill.

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It's a simple button-mashing command, and it hits all grounded enemies for +1 damage relative to Kabbu's normal attacks. Not bad. Just like the rest of Kabbu's horn attacks, this also ignores 1 point of defence, and flips enemies if possible.

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Another combination we haven't seen yet, now we have a Midge and a Thief.

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I decided to deliberately miss the action command to show how enemies stealing items works. They can take anything we have, and once they do they'll hold it over their head.

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Now we have a problem: once they've stolen an item, enemies will run away on their next turn and take it with them. Can we get it back?

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Attacking won't do it, he's still got it.

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Freezing him will keep him from running away, at least.

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Kabbu finishes the Thief off, and in so doing gets the item back. Obviously, killing the enemy works, but Kabbu's actually doing double duty here, because any flipping attack is sufficient to make them drop the item.

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Finishing this battle is enough to rank up, at least!

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As usual, I choose MP.

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Our bonus for reaching rank 11 is Vi learning Needle Toss! This is the first of her needle skills, which means the Image Poison Needles medal finally has a use.

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That description isn't particularly helpful, is it? The most important thing to realise here, though, is that needles are piercing: this skill ignores all defence. We'll take a closer look at it in a moment.

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Let's go further south.

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This area looks different!

Image Water... Need... water...
Image We're close to... the Hills... Hang in there...
Image (We're not thirsty, but perhaps we shouldn't boast this once...)

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Also, there's a Chomper in our face as soon as we step into this area.

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This is a pretty simple battle (Chompers aren't very intimidating any more), but it gives me a convenient opportunity to demonstrate Needle Toss.

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Vi splits her Beemerang into two needles and flies up, then takes aim. While the skill claims to target "all enemies", that's because we can aim the needles separately: each needle can hit at most one target. Like Icefall, the reticle moves automatically and we press (A) to launch. The needles pierce all defence and deal damage equal to Vi's attack.

In this case, I missed the second hit entirely (this can be tricky to aim, especially against targets with tiny sprites, like here), but if it'd hit, the damage would be reduced if it hit the same target. Each subsequent hit deals 1 less damage, or 2 less if the damage was 4 or more, though it will never be reduced below 1.

It's an interesting skill, though often not quite as effective as you want it to be. I like it though.

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Anyway, let's finish the battle.

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There are a bunch of weeds to cut down here; if you look closely, there's a bouncy mushroom peeking out behind them.

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As we cut down the weeds, we get close to a cactus that reveals itself to be an enemy.

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Another easy battle.

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Yet another Succulent Berry. I have way too many of these now; this playthrough is showering me in them for some reason.

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Using the mushroom launches us up to here, where there's a log we can knock down.

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It doesn't look like there's much over here...

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But we can jump down to find this medal!

Image Strong Start is a medal that opens up some interesting options. For 2 MP, the equipped bug gets to start with an extra action on the first turn of every battle, but in return, the exhaustion penalty reduces subsequent attacks by 2 damage instead of 1. That's not as big a downside as it sounds, though, for two reasons: one, it only applies on the first turn of the battle, and two, it only applies to the bug wearing the medal, so you can have them relay to someone else instead. This medal's really good.

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I usually give it to Leif, but it's great on pretty much anyone.

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Let's head east?

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Image Not the most exciting of places...
Image Given deserts are just a bunch of sand... We're surprised it took this long to find a barren spot.

There's nothing here, or at least nothing we can do. Just more spikes we can't cross. Let's go back.

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Let's go south again.

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We come out here, behind this gate we saw earlier in the Golden Settlement!

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Hitting the switch here opens the gate, allowing us to use this path as a shortcut. Of course, this is mostly moot, since we now have tunnels in both locations anyway. Regardless, I won't complain.

Now that we've explored the western side, here's an updated map of the Lost Sands. There are still some areas we haven't been able to get to, but we've seen a majority of it now.

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Speaking of the tunnels, that's where I'll be going.

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This person seems to want to talk to us; I overlooked them last time I was here.

Image Is there a need to wear a cloak inside a mine?
Image It's super dusty! We should wear cloaks here too!
Image Eh. We bet she just wants to look mysterious...

Let's talk to her, I guess.

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This cloaked ant will offer us fast-travel to some locations, in case all the other options we had weren't enough! Going to the plaza is free, but some later options will cost a handful of berries. To be honest, I'd completely forgotten she existed; we're definitely gilding the lily a bit here.

Anyway, let's go back to Defiant Root.

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Specifically, after those battles (and a quick visit to the bank), I can now afford to grab the Bond Berry from Sun.

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Image I do not have any more berries with me at the moment, but I might find some more in the future. Please come back some other time.

If we talk to him again:

Image I no longer have anything that might interest you. Be safe, travelers.

We've cleaned him out for now. He will periodically get more berries, though, so it's worth checking in with him at the start of each new chapter.

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There's no reason not to use this one right away, since TP is shared across the party. The game still asks me to choose who give it to, so I gave it to Vi, but it literally doesn't matter. Anyway, we have 14 max TP now.

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Going into the menu to do that reminded me that I picked up a Lore Book earlier, so let's make a quick stop at the library before wrapping up the update.

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Image Looks like you have enough for the next reward tier! Here you go!

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Image That seems to be all for now! Come back once you have found more Discoveries!

We can also claim this, though it's kind of underwhelming. The next couple of rewards for these are much better.

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Let's see what this is about!

Image Lesser Bugs. After the Day of Awakening, many bugs changed form. We "evolved" to be able to live as we do now. But not all bugs evolved. Some remained untouched by the Awakening. We call them "lesser bugs". Spiders, Midges, Weevils, and some others did not gain sentience. They remained unchanged. The causes for that are still being researched. But unless another "Day of Awakening" happens, it will be difficult to study the changes. However, it's been concluded lesser bugs have become more ferocious and will attack bugs that come near them.

We'd already noticed some of these patterns, but here it is in detail.

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And with that, we'll wrap things up for now! Next time on Bug Fables... Cooking! Sidequests! Cooking Sidequests! See you then.

In the meantime, how about some voting? (a) Who gets the Heart Berry? (b) Should I buy Charmy's services?

User avatar
22: The Great Bugarian Bake-Off

Last time, we picked up a couple of sidequests for chefs.

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We've also recently learned about several new ingredients. There's a lot of cooking ahead of us today.

Before that, though, we'll need to track down some ingredients. Specifically, Kut's requested a Tangy Berry, and we're going to need to hunt down a Golden Seedling to get one of those. Let's take care of that first.

Image 06 - Outskirts

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Image 04 - FIGHT!

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I was prepared for this to take quite a while (Golden Seedlings have a 1% chance to replace any other seedling-type enemy), but would you believe I found one on literally the first encounter? I could hardly believe it.

We're a lot better prepared now than we were last time we saw one of these, so let's get ourselves a Tangy Berry.

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First things first, Kabbu gets in the rear and taunts it to keep it from fleeing.

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Leif and Vi get some hits in.

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I decided to try to get fancy here, and have Leif use his second turn to toss a Numbnail Dart. These guys have 60% resistance to sleep (the only status they're not immune to), so I thought it might be fun to try, although as you can see it didn't take. It does damage, anyway.

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Yeowch. Not unexpected, but still. If the damage looks too high, well, I had put Hard Hits on in anticipation of needing to grind a while before I found one (may as well get some extra berries, I thought). Without it, there might have been a chance for Kabbu to have survived the hit.

Regardless, though, he deals a point of counter damage thanks to Spiky Bod, and that definitely helps.

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We've got this now.

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Image 07 - Battle Won!

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These guys are worth a lot of EXP.

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It also drops a huge pile of stuff. I don't think we've seen a yellow berry drop before yet, those are worth 10 berries each.

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That's not what I was expecting! I think this might be the first time I've seen a Golden Seedling encounter drop other items. I suspect this is pulling from the encounter's normal drops.

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The Tangy Berry was indeed there, it was just hiding behind Kabbu's sprite and all the other loot. Just what we needed.

Image Tangy Berry
"An exotic berry that isn't native to Bugaria. Restores 8 TP and cures an ally's paralysis."
Sell: 15 berries

Golden Seedlings are guaranteed to drop these when you kill them. Just looking at it, it might seem a bit underwhelming (though it's definitely not a bad item!); the real value is in cooking them.

We have everything we need now.

Image 38 - Make it Crisbee!

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Let's go help Crisbee first.

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Image So I had this idea for a dish... I'm gonna need a Spud. Then I can make something really good! Um, probably.

This quest is pretty simple. Crisbee's going to ask us for ingredients, we bring them to him and he'll cook the thing. What if we try to give him the wrong thing?

Image Hmm... I don't think that'll do. Please bring me the right ingredient!

Okay, okay.

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Ignore the rest of that stuff for now, please. We have a Danger Spud, that's what he wants. (If we didn't already have a bunch of these, remember the poison shop in the alley sells them.)

Image Yes! This is perfect!
Image I'll get right into it. Wish me luck!

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Crisbee cooks by sliding things into his oven.

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Image Yam Bread is okay. As you might expect, this is what you get if you combine flour with a Danger Spud.

Image How's it look?
Image Honestly? Pretty good.
Image Awesome. I'm ready to step it up a little! Just a little.
Image Let's see... Try to bring me a Succulent Berry. I'll try to make something super tasty!

All right. That's not too hard either, we're swimming in these (and if we didn't have one, we could get it from the caravan just south of town).

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Image Yes! This is perfect!
Image I'll get right into it. Wish me luck!

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Image I'm so glad I was right... The Succulent Berry's real flavor comes out when you bake it!

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Image Succulent Platter is another new recipe, just a Succulent Berry cooked alone. This lets the entire party get HP regeneration, though it doesn't heal anything immediately when you use it, you have to wait for the end of the turn. If you use it outside battle, it heals each bug 4 HP. A bit situational, but it has its uses.

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Image A... A bomb?
Image Then I'll bake it with an Abomihoney! I'm so excited!

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Image We're curious, but mostly worried.
Image It's, um, really risky... but the legend says it'll bring honey to a new level!
Image I was really scared to try before but... I've trained so much! I think I can pull it off!
Image Team, let's believe in Crisbee! If we don't, why did we take that mission?
Image I mean, you're right, but...
Image If it's forbidden, it's probably super delicious. Let's do this.
Image Okay, geez! We'll bring it! I've got a bad feeling, though...
Image Oh, thank you so much! I won't disappoint you, I promise!

Well, that certainly escalated quickly. This sounds like a really bad idea, are we sure we want to do it?

A lot of people get stuck at this part of the quest, because the game gives you very little by way of hints for how to make either of these things. There is that one conversation early in the game where Vi says not to combine too much honey, which helps, but the Spicy Bomb in particular stumps a lot of people. I've already covered how to make it in the LP, of course.

We still need an Abomihoney. I've shown one way to get this before (combining two Honey Drops), but there's also another way.

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Image Huff. Okay, here it goes! Wish me luck!

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Here's the "cooking failure" animation for Crisbee, Abomihoney is considered a "bad" recipe.

Image Ah... I really did try... I'm sorry.

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Image Come again, won't you? I'd love to keep improving!

So, yeah. Too much honey gets these, as Vi warned us early on, but so does overcooking honey. We have everything we need now.

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If we say no:

Image Alright. No rush. But please bring them soon! I can't wait to get started!

Let's do it, I guess. What could happen?

Image Yes! This is perfect!
Image With these... I'm going to cook the forbidden recipe!

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...it's alive? I expected a soggy bottom maybe, but this?

Image 29 - Team, This One's Stronger! (Miniboss)

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And now we're fighting... monstrous honey blobs? (Look closely at the background here, and you can see Crisbee hiding behind the boxes! He's animated, too, you can see him shaking in fear while the fight goes on.)

Let's get some information, I guess.

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Image If it pulls anything funny, we'll use our ice magic to deal with it. Let's end this.

The Strong Start medal is really convenient for spying, among other things, since using Spy doesn't build exhaustion.

Anyway, these Abomihoneys don't look that scary, though they're definitely different from what we've been fighting so far. Let's see what they can do.

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Kabbu attacks the first one. After being hit, it collapses into a puddle: it's effectively underground like this. You may recognise this behaviour from Underlings, it's very similar.

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Leif's ice attacks can hit them and force them to surface.

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Leaving Vi free to hit it again, though it'll go under again once she does.

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If they're underground when their turn comes, they'll use this bite attack from underneath. It hits for 4 base damage, and they surface after using it.

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While above ground, they use this bite attack instead. This also hits for 4, though I find it a bit easier to time blocks for.

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It's our turn again.

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Kabbu finishes off the first one.

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Leif was feeling a bit ganged up on, so Vi heals him.

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Leif attacks the remaining one.

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It goes after Vi this time.

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So far, so good. At this point, the battle's a foregone conclusion.

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That wasn't too bad!

That said, we didn't see the most interesting thing they can do. I did manage to get some footage in an earlier recording session (that ended up being unusable for other reasons), so let's have a quick look:

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Instead of attacking, Abomihoneys can also transform into a bomb! This gives them Defence Up (unlimited duration, which means you can't remove it), and also queues them up to explode next turn if you don't kill them. This attack seems to become more likely the lower on health they are.

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The explosion does 10 damage to everyone (and also, as a suicide attack, robs you of the EXP you would otherwise get). Kabbu only lived through this because he'd used Sturdy. Obviously, you don't want to let this happen.

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After being destroyed, they leave behind this... thing. That's terrifying. We'll talk about this more in a bit.

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Image Abomihoney is super dangerous! Doesn't matter how good you bake it.
Image S-sorry... I guess the "forbidden" wasn't just for show.
Image It's okay, Crisbee. Even if it wasn't food, you cooked it to perfection!
Image Shame we couldn't eat it though...
Image Hmm... Wait up, okay? I'm gonna try again. Not following any old legend! This dish is all me!

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That looks like Glazed Honey and a flour bag?

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Well, this is nice!

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Image I made some more for everyone!
Image Woah... It's super yummy!
Image Incredible... We must have more!
Image It's all thanks to your help! If you bring me a Glazed Honey and a Flour Bag, I'll make you more!
Image You've earned yourself a regular.
Image Heheh. You're gonna be famous in no time!

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Image We're best friends now. Come whenever you want, and I'll bake you some real tasty stuff!

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That completes this quest! There's actually quite a bit to talk about here, as far as rewards go.

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First off, we get to keep all the items we helped Crisbee make, which is nice enough.

More importantly, though, we've now unlocked the first "chef's speciality" recipe: only Crisbee can make these doughnuts, and he couldn't do it before we completed the quest. They're one of the better TP-restoration items, and certainly the most cost-effective. I'm definitely going to be stocking up on them; they tend to be something of a mainstay for most of the rest of the game.

Interestingly, if you try to have Crisbee cook any of the recipes involved in this quest (Yam Bread, Succulent Platter, Abombination) before making them during it, he won't be able to make them successfully and you'll get a Mistake instead. We really did help him learn! Fry and Kut could both make them already, though.

If we talk to Crisbee now that we've finished the quest, we'll get his standard dialogue:

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Image Oh... that's okay. Crisbee's always open!

This is also what you'd see if you talked to him before accepting the quest.

Let's talk about the Image Abombination. It's a fascinating little item that's very tricky to use, but can be quite rewarding once you figure out what to do with it. A demonstration:

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It essentially lets us harness the Abomihoneys' explosion attack! It does 10 damage to everything onscreen, enemy and ally (although if there are any Abomihoneys around, they'll get healed by it instead), modified by defence. We haven't encountered shielding mechanics yet (either for us or for enemies), but that's the only way to avoid being hurt by the explosion. It does destroy the shield, though (as of v1.1), to make it harder to spam them. Abombination also restores 40% of maximum TP, rounded up, but only if it damaged an ally (if everyone is shielded, no TP for you).

10 damage is enormously powerful. As you might imagine, these are a mainstay of challenge runs, though for playing the game normally I think the downsides outweigh the benefits.

Fry and Kut can actually make these earlier in the game without consequence, I just thought this would be the most natural place to talk about them. Crisbee can now as well: the Abomihoney battle is a one-time thing, and this just works like a normal recipe from now on.

While we're here at the bakery, let's talk about the new recipes we can make with flour (and our other new ingredients). There are a whole bunch:

Image Drowsy Cake (38)
"This cake's super yummy but puts you to sleep after eating it! Restores 7 HP and 7 TP."
Inflicts sleep (2 turns)
Sell: 5 berries
Made by combining Image and Image

First up is Drowsy Cake. We already knew about this item since we could buy it in the Golden Settlement, but now we can make it ourselves with flour and Numbnail Darts.

Image Poison Cake (30)
"This cake is delicious, but... not recommended. Restores 11 TP. But really, don't eat it."
Inflicts poison (2 turns)
Sell: 6 berries
Made by combining Image and Image or Image

Image Shock Candy (33)
"This candy's shockingly sweet! Restores 9 TP, at a shocking price."
Inflicts numb (2 turns)
Sell: 10 berries
Made by combining Image and Image

Similarly, combining poisonous or shocking ingredients with flour can get us similar results for other status effects. Poison Cake can be really good for poison-based strategies if you're not using Weak Stomach, and presumably we'll get medals to take advantage of Numb eventually too.

Image Succulent Cookies (14)
"Delicious cookies made from Succulent Berries! Restores 3 HP, then recovers 2 TP for 3 turns."
If used outside battle, recovers 3 HP and 6 TP.
Sell: 1 berry
Made by combining Image and Image

Image Mushroom Gummies (34)
"Sweet treats made from mushrooms! Restores 3 HP to the party, and cures poison."
Sell: 4 berries
Made by combining Image and Image

Image Sweet Pudding (35)
"A simple, plain pudding. Restores 6 HP to an ally and 6 TP."
Sell: 7 berries
Made by combining Image and Image or Image

Image Leaf Croissant (36)
"Extra leaves for extra crunchiness! Restores 5 HP to an ally, 4 TP and cures poison."
Sell: 4 berries
Made by combining Image and Image

Image Honey Pancakes (37)
"A delicious and sweet morning dish! Restores 1 HP and 6 TP to the party."
Sell: 8 berries
Made by combining Image and Image

Combining familiar ingredients with flour gets us several new permutations of healing item. Mushroom Gummies and Honey Pancakes both offer new party-wide healing options, while Leaf Croissant and Sweet Pudding are both efficient hybrid recovery items for their price point (compare Sweet Pudding to our old favourite Drowsy Cake). Succulent Cookies are honestly kind of weird, and also sell for less than the value of their ingredients for some reason.

Image Spicy Candy (40)
"This spicy candy will rev you up! Restores 5 TP and boosts an ally's attack for 2 turns."
Sell: 12 berries
Made by combining Image and Image

Image Burly Candy (41)
"This candy's actually good for you? Restores 5 TP and boosts an ally's defense for 2 turns."
Sell: 12 berries
Made by combining Image and Image

With Spicy Candy and Burly Candy, we finally have an alternative to Spicy Fries and Burly Chips. These also activate Weak Stomach, so it's a matter of whether you prefer HP or TP recovery; they're both great.

Image Hustle Candy (39)
"This candy will pump you up some time later! Restores 6 TP and grants a turn next turn!"
**Prior to v1.1, recovered 4 TP
Sell: 8 berries
Made by combining Image and Image

Image Hot Drink (43)
"This boiled drink pays off later! Heals 2 HP, cures status effects, and grants a turn next turn."
Sell: 7 berries
Made by combining Image and Image

These two recipes are the reason you should never use a plain Hustle Berry. By incorporating the Hustle effect, these let you get either TP recovery or status recovery without any loss of action economy (they give back the action you spent to use them). Hustle Candy in particular is a mainstay of many challenge run strategies.

Image Numb Bomb (59)
"This high voltage bomb's ready to go! Toss it at enemies to paralyze them!"
Inflicts 5 damage on the targeted enemy
Inflicts 3 damage on other enemies in blast radius
Inflicts numb (1 turn) on enemies hit
Sell: 15 berries
Made by combining Image or Image and Image

Finally, we have the Numb Bomb, which is just like the rest of the bombs we've seen and can inflict the Numb status.

Which means, I guess, we should talk about Numb. It's a pretty straightforward status: it immobilises the affected character, but increases their defence by 1. This makes it a bit more practical than sleep for disabling purposes (at least you don't heal them), but makes doing damage afterward a bit harder. It's powerful, but hard to inflict for long durations.

Let's go to the Golden Settlement and see Kut. It's not far thanks to the tunnels.

Image 27 - Kut it Up!

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Image I need a Tangy Berry to cook my newest idea.
Image However, they are really rare. It's rumored that only Golden Seedlings carry them.
Image If you ever find one, bring it back to me and I will cook you my greatest dish!

Sounds promising. And since we've planned ahead, we can do this now.

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Image Alright, then. Hand it over.

If we give him the wrong thing:

Image Hey... That's not a Tangy Berry! Don't try to pull my leg here!

Sometimes these lines are kind of fun, honestly.

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Let's give him the real thing, though.

Image Hmm! You actually found one!
Image Alright then, leave it to me!

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Image Here it is... My magnum opus!

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Now that's an item!

Image This is a dish only I can make.
Image Just bring me a Tangy Berry, and I shall prepare it for you, free of charge.
Image Thank you very much for this.

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Another quest completed! That was a lot quicker.

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Just like with Crisbee, we get to keep this. And we've now unlocked Kut's speciality: he can make more of these whenever we want (provided we find Tangy Berries, that is, which is a bigger ask than Crisbee's recipe). This is by far the best HP-healing item we've seen thus far, and it heals the entire party!

While you can find Tangy Berries earlier than this, the quest doesn't appear until you reach Defiant Root for the first time, and Kut can't prepare this recipe until you've completed the quest (so don't waste the berries trying beforehand).

There are a few other recipes that use Tangy Berries, but none of them quite live up to this one:

Image Tangy Jam (52)
"A jam made from a Tangy Berry mixed with honey! Restores 12 TP and cures an ally's paralysis."
Sell: 20 berries
Made by combining Image and Image

Image Tangy Juice (53)
"Juice made from CRUSHING Tangy Berries! Restores 8 TP and cures an ally's status effects."
Sell: 17 berries
Made by combining Image and Image

Image Tangy Pie (54)
"This pie's citrusy flavor lingers for hours! Restores 4 HP to an ally, and recovers 2 TP for 5 turns."
If used outside battle, restores 4 HP and 10 TP.
Sell: 13 berries
Made by combining Image and Image

None of these are exactly bad, but they're not that impressive either; I'd recommend sticking with Tangy Carpaccio. (That said, I do have questions about that dish: does it even make sense to prepare a citrus fruit Carpaccio-style? Given the scale, I think Tangy Berries are probably something like a kumquat...)

There is one more recipe (and a really good one) that uses Tangy Berries, but it requires an ingredient we've yet to discover.

That's the second cooking quest done. We're finished now, surely?

Image 26 - Golden Lands

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Of course not. Once we've completed both Crisbee's and Kut's quests, these two quests appear on the boards. Let's chat up Aria first, since she's right here.

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Image It was our pleasure, Acolyte. You look well... What seems to be the issue?
Image I'll be brief, to not waste your time. I'm planning on giving the Goddess an incredible offering.
Image An offering? Like a LOT of berries?
Image Goddesses don't need money. Bet it's a bunch of food.
Image That is correct.
Image It is?
Image Seriously?
Image I wish to give Her a banquet worthy of one as great as She is.
Image I have prepared several dishes, that I have. But I'm missing... something grand.
Image What sort of dish are you looking for?
Image It's hard to say. Something I cannot simply buy would be excellent.
Image We could ask Fry, Kut or Crisbee to make something. Their specialty, perhaps?
Image I've heard the chef Fry has been planning his "masterpiece".
Image The Goddess would be overjoyed to taste something that divine!
Image So uh... You think she'll give us something for it?
Image Of course. Venus is generous, kind and loving. If you make her happy, She will reward you.
Image Fry's masterpiece... We'll do our best to get it for you, Aria.
Image You have my thanks, Team Snakemouth. I'll be waiting here for you.
Image Let's make sure to make one for us too, Kabbu.

If we weren't already motivated to get Fry's speciality, Aria wants us to help her get one for Venus. Let's go see what Fry's planning, then.

Image 21 - Fry it Up!

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Image Alright, let's get to the chase. I had an idea for the ultimate dish...
Image Combining the most sweet thing with the most tangy feeling...
Image It will surely be something out of this world!
Image I need two dishes not found anywhere else, which will contain these qualities!
Image Once you have found them, bring them back to me! The reward will be well worth it! Hahaha!

Fry is definitely referring to the specialities of the other two chefs. Come on, Fry, we just got them! Do we really have to give them up so soon?

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If we decline:

Image Hmph! Let's stop wasting time and get those ingredients!

And if we don't have them in inventory:

Image ...You don't have them! Remember, I need the Sweetest thing and the Tangiest flavor to cook my best dish.
Image Bring me those 2 ingredients and I will get down to it!

Okay, okay, let's give him what he wants.

Image Ohoho! You actually did it! I am impressed!
Image Those ingredients are perfect for the ultimate dish!
Image Let's get right to it!

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Yes, he just puts the doughnut and sliced fruit into his pot and stirs them around. This really doesn't seem like it should work...

Image Ahaha! Here it is! The ultimate dish!

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Well then. He wasn't kidding.

Image This is something only I can cook!
Image Just bring these ingredients back here and I will make as many as you can eat!
Image Thank you very much for this!

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That completes the quest. This is Fry's speciality, and what an item it is. Queen's Dinner is one of the best healing items in the game (nearly obsoleting the Tangy Carpaccio we just learned about, unless you're trying to do Weak Stomach things). If you want an "oh shit, save me" button in battle, this is it.

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I'd really like to keep this, but Venus has a prior claim. We can always make more of them later when we come across more Tangy Berries, so let's go see Aria again.

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If you try to give her the wrong thing:

Image ...
Image Uh...
Image This isn't grand enough for Venus.
Image Sorry, we'll get back on it.

Let's give her the Queen's Dinner.

Image ...
Image ...So?
Image ...Yes. I can tell that this dish is something worthy of giving to Venus.
Image Nice! So we just have to deliver it to her, right?
Image Indeed. We must venture to the top of the hills and deliver it to Her.
Image You go on ahead, I shall catch up in a bit.
Image Alright. See you at the top.

Not quite done, we have to deliver it personally.

Image Please go on ahead, I will catch up with you in a bit. Venus awaits at the top of the hills.

Aria just has this to say if you talk to her again. Let's go.

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Thankfully, the way to Venus is still open, we don't have to repeat any of the puzzles.

Image 28 - Harvest Festival

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When we approach Venus and talk to her, Aria immediately shows up.

Image Vi! Kabbu! Long time no see! I'm especially glad to not get spooked by you, Leif.
Image Uh, sorry. We can't help it.
Image Goddess... I have brought you a humble offering, with the help of these brave explorers.
Image Please enjoy it to your heart's content, so that our village may be blessed for just a bit longer.

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Image Aria! You know the festival's more than enough!
Image But thank you. I can tell it's going to be wonderful. Let's share, shall we?

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Image A-Awesome!
Image Can earthly ingredients reach this flavor!?
Image We're gonna have to hunt for more Tangy Berries...
Image I-It was beyond my expectations. Thank you so much for sharing with me, Goddess.

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Image Team Snakemouth! You're getting a healing discount from yours truly! Only 5 berries now!

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Image It was our honor!
Image It was worth it as soon as we tasted that dish...
Image Please take this Medal too, as a token of my gratitude.

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Image Prayer may not seem like much now, but it's sneakily good. This costs 3 MP, and makes the "Do Nothing" action heal 2 HP. That's okay, but the real power of this medal rests in the fact it's not the only medal that enhances Do Nothing, and you can stack them (there's an entire build there). Do note that any medals like this only function the first time the equipped bug does nothing in a given turn, you can't keep relaying turns and healing further.

Image I'm so relieved you enjoyed the offering.
Image I sure am glad I don't constantly monitor everyone, it would've ruined the surprise!
Image Come back again, yes? You are most pleasant company.
Image Anytime!

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And with that, this quest is completed as well. The healing discount persists for the rest of the game, and Prayer is a solid medal, so I'd say we made out pretty well in the end.

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If we talk to Venus again, that's all she has to say.

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Likewise, talking to Aria when we get back to town yields this new line.

With this, we wrap up the Great Bugarian Bake-Off. Finally, there's no more cooking to be done.

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There is a bit more eating, though! The thread agreed, pretty universally, that Leif is the hungriest and therefore should get to eat this.

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Bringing him to 10 maximum HP.

Image 37 - Defiant Root

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And there was a general consensus in favour of seeing what Charmy can do.

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While most of the votes were for Cheapskate, there were a few votes for more, and I think we have a better chance of seeing a variety of effects if we do that, so I'm going to put my thumb on the scale a bit and purchase Regular instead. (Let's say it averages out. Shh. Maths totally work that way.)

Image Alright! Let's start then!

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Purchasing a charm gets us this nice little animation.

Image There you go! Now you're all charmed up.
Image Who knows how it will help you out? Might even get you out of a pinch!
Image Come back later when you want more charms!

Guess we'll have to see what that ends up doing for us.

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Next time, it's a homecoming for Vi (like it or not), we're heading into the Hive.

User avatar
23: The Queen on High (Part 1)

Image 37 - Defiant Root

Last time, we did a lot of cooking and learned a whole lot of recipes, and our three chef friends each discovered their own speciality. Since you probably haven't been counting, we've now seen 56 of the game's 70 total recipes. There are still quite a few items to learn about, but the variety is pretty frontloaded.

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I took the opportunity to do some cooking and fill up my inventory with a variety of things (including a bunch of Crisbee Donuts, you can never have too many of those); this is what I'll be carrying around for now, and I have a few more things in Amber's storage.

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Back to the mission. Our next stop is the Bee Kingdom, which we can get to via this elevator on the west end of Defiant Root.

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Image Uh huh. Get us up?
Image Sure thing. Hop on, explorers.
Image We're not done talking about your issues, Vi. We're just saving it for later.

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Leif seems pretty fixated on getting Vi to talk, but she's not having it.

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Everyone hops on the elevator and up it goes.

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We're going to be having a conversation in transit, it seems. The effect here is pretty neat, you can see the leaves and knots on the tree trunk go by as you go up.

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Image Indeed, we'll protect you if they speak poorly of you.
Image Hahahaha... That's... not really going to happen, ya know?
Image Huh. So they don't tease you?
Image Just, uh, a little bit.
Image Vi... could it be the Hive has done nothing to you?
Image ...
Image Nonsense. Why would she be so unwilling otherwise?

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Image I am?
Image The Hive didn't do anything. I did.
Image Vi. What did you do?
Image My sister kept teasing me, okay? Saying exploring's a job for other bugs.

Image

Image So I got really mad and said a lot of mean stuff to her... and ran off.
Image Told my boss to shove it. Told the Queen she had no idea what I'm capable of!
Image Vi...
Image So in this story, you're the mean one?
Image Kinda. They had it coming, though.

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Image All you have to do is say you're sorry. And it'll get fixed.
Image No way!
Image Even if I was super mean, they still teased me all the time! I'm not gonna say sorry!
Image Not even to your close sister? It's your family!
Image She can say sorry first! I'm not gonna lose after making a big scene!
Image ...
Image Look. The mission's most important, okay? I don't wanna talk about this anymore.
Image We're almost at the top... you're not off the hook, Vi.

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With that, we arrive at the top! (As you might expect, it's the usual thing where the tree's exactly as high as it needs to be for the conversation to fit.) We're certainly learning more about Vi's conflict with the other bees, seems like there were some other aspects she wasn't telling us (or was in denial about).

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The logbook notification suggests we've gotten a discovery.

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Not much to say, though.

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We can talk to the guard here to go back down whenever.

Image Enjoy your visit to the Hive!

That's all she has to say otherwise. There's also, of course, a banter here:

Image The Hive's gigantic!
Image Mhm. Most bugs just see the main area, though. Most of it's just honey and housing.
Image So most of this Hive is honey? We'll have to investigate...
Image That honey's for bees!

Maybe bringing Leif here isn't a great idea? His endless hunger is even enough to squeeze a bit of patriotism out of Vi, apparently.

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Let's go in.

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This is interesting. A security checkpoint?

Image What a peculiar room.
Image This is the scan corridor. So they know we're clean or whatever.
Image That's weird.
Image Yup...

Enlightening.

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Image Um, what?

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The scan is apparently a lattice of laser honeycombs?

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Image "Huh"? You saying we're not clean or something?
Image It's not that... Hmm, well... Yes. Okay.
Image Alright. You've been cleared to pass.
Image ...

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That wasn't cryptic at all. At least they opened the door for us.

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Onward.

Image 39 - Drums of War

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As we enter, the camera starts on this stained glass image of the Bee Queen, then pans downward to reveal...

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...a lot of soldiers waiting for us. That's ominous.

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Image Vi, is this normal?
Image Uh, not really...
Image Hold it, folks!

Someone calls out to stop us from offscreen.

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Image W-What?
Image Was it us?
Image Most definitely.
Image Is Leif okay!?
Image Dearie me. We've caused a scene. Could you come with me? I'll check it out ASAP.
Image You sure you wanna trust her, Leif?
Image Yeah. We don't have any leads right now. Nothing to lose.
Image Guide the way, doctor!

The scanner seems to have reacted to whatever's going on with Leif. I wonder if there were communication issues of some kind here; she's not quite reacting like she wanted all the soldiers there.

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We fade back in to see we're in some kind of lab.

Image 15 - The One Left Behind (Leif's Theme)

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Image Doctor, is Leif okay?
Image According to the tests, ancient crystal fragments lie within you. If I'm not wrong, you can use magic?
Image Yeah. After we woke up in Snakemouth, it just suddenly came to us.
Image So that wasn't a super bad lie?
Image ...You still doubted us?
Image Given the weirdness of it, I'd tally it to healthy skepticism.
Image Magical powers are a common side effect of a body being linked to these crystals.

Image

Image Something else?

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Image Er, put us under?
Image You know. Fast asleep.

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Image

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Image Leif, you had this sort of power?

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Image ...Sorry. We don't know what happened. We're not too keen to be put under, however.
Image An involuntary self-defense mechanism...
Image Leif, was it? Give it some thought. Your condition is fascinating.
Image I'm starting to get worried...
Image Don't be. We feel fine.
Image We're getting closer to the truth, although there's much left to answer...
Image Well, I think we'll leave it at that for today. Sorry for distressing you.
Image It's okay, really... Thanks.
Image Welp... We're going to be late to the meeting, aren't we?
Image Ah, yes. The Ant Kingdom brought the materials for the key replacement, right?
Image I've heard there's four other explorers looking around the Hive.
Image Could you round them up in front of the throne room? I'll meet you there when I finish some things up.
Image Crow!

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Image

Image Round up the data! We have work to do.
Image Ah! Y-Yes, Doctor.
Image Great... A walk around the Hive.
Image Can't be the worst thing. We'd like to get to know this place.

Image

Doctor H.B. might have the worst bedside manner ever, but in addition to raising further questions about Leif, she's gained him a new skill.

After that conversation ends, the Bee Kingdom's area music finally kicks in.

Image 40 - High Above, Bee Kingdom

Let's check out our new skill before anything else.

Image

Bubble Shield Lite is a defencive ability. This lets Leif cast a protective bubble on any one bug (including himself), making them invulnerable for the turn. As you might imagine, this can be quite handy, and 3 TP isn't too extreme a cost. It can stand up to nearly anything; one of the only exceptions is the Abombination item we learned about last time.

Let's check out the lab. First off, a banter for the doctor:

Image So Professor Honeycomb's not the only prestigious researcher around.
Image Those two are always fighting... if they're so smart, they should act more grown up!
Image (C-Coming from you, Vi!?)

This one's cute.

Image I still need some time to process the data, could you find the other explorers?
Image They should be around the Hive somewhere.

If we talk to her again, she just encourages us to get back on task.

Image H.B.'s lab is impressive, but we'd rather not be here...
Image Her proposition was quite startling, but at least she didn't press the issue.
Image Maybe she can open you up, Kabbu, to find out why you're so nice.
Image Not in a million moons!

And that's the general banter for this room. Always gets a chuckle out of me.

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There's a big computer over here (with a face!) but it doesn't want anything to do with us.

Image

Image Yes. You know any Card Masters?
Image Well, I'm a bit busy... I-I can help you find them later.

If we talk to Crow, we get this conversation about Card Masters. This is, in fact, the reason we can't complete that quest this chapter: Crow's too busy to help us with it. (It's reasonably obvious from this that she's Card Master #4.)

Image

If we'd come here without the quest, we'd just see her griping about how much work there is.

Image H.B.'s running poor Crow ragged!
Image Science looks like a lot of hard work.
Image It's like, uh... the thinking version of exploring!

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The last thing to see in this room is over here. There are two medals sitting on this table for us to check out.

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Inspecting either of them also triggers this conversation:

Image Woah! That medal looks cool!
Image Let's snatch it.
Image No! Let's see if we can convince H.B. to give it to us somehow.

Sadly, we can't do this Leif's way. And the doctor is too busy right now to entertain any conversations about this, so they're just going to have to tantalise us for later. Both of these medals are handy quality-of-life things, we'll appreciate having them once we can get them.

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Let's head out of this room and get our bearings.

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We come out here, under a sign for HB's lab. If you look over to the left, you can barely see the save crystal near where we came in.

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We can check this hologram, though this is all it has to say. You can see how the game styles dialogue from automata differently, though: we get these blue-on-black text windows, and it occasionally flickers random characters over the text to make it look like it's glitching out (which you can see the screenshot caught here).

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Heading back to the entrance where the crystal is. Let's check the area banter before anything else:

Image Still feels weird to be home...
Image Despite everything, surely you're a little happy?
Image Well... I did miss the honey fountain.
Image We'll miss it too...

Leif is still obsessed with food.

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The soldiers guarding the throne room don't have much to say.

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Let's be methodical about this, we'll go anticlockwise around the entire Hive.

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There are some young bees here.

Image (Psst! Leif!)
Image (What? Why are you whispering?)
Image (Don't tell Vi, but... Doesn't that little bee look like her?)
Image (Ohhh... yeah. She does, doesn't she? She looks so annoyed, too.)
Image You suck at whispering!!!

This conversation's cute. There's some truth in this, too (even if I don't actually think they look that similar, sprite-wise): eusocial insects have a higher degree of genetic similarity to each other than most other species, so it would make sense if a lot of them looked alike.

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Over here, we apparently have a Mothiva fan. Nobody tell her.

Image Ah. Children are so pure!
Image Vi is right here.
Image Not in the mood.
Image It's not funny if she won't react...
Image Leif, you should take it easy on her while we're here.
Image Fine...

Leif continues to be a troll.

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There's another pathway here.

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Let's see what that area's like, then.

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Image Yup. And it's super duper off limits!
Image First the ants, now the bees... I cannot help but feel excluded.
Image It's just how stuff is. Sorry!

Just like the Ant Palace, there are "off-limits" areas here which we won't get to see.

Image

Image It would be great to have you at next year's festival.
Image You can count on us.

Here's a familiar face! Jud lives here when she's not running eating contests.

Image Ah... we want to join another eating competition.
Image The Golden Festival is the only one, though.
Image That's impossible. Eating is the best. How can it be once a moon?
Image Don't be such a glutton, Leif.
Image Indeed. You must watch your figure!

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Kabbu seems to have some body image issues, doesn't he.

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Image Can you get us in then, Vi?
Image Noooope.

This guard won't let us past, and Vi either won't or can't help. (This is another area that doesn't exist ingame and is just implied for flavour reasons. I continue to appreciate that they do this.)

Image Vi, can't you convince this guard to let us pass?
Image Noooope.

The banter just reiterates this.

Image

Oh look, more people we know!

Image

Let's start with Kenny.

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Image Uh... you think?
Image The air is clean, and the people are nice. There's a great view and good food.
Image Think you'll stay here?
Image ...No, I don't think I will. I want to see what else the world can offer.
Image May we meet again, explorer!
Image May we meet again, indeed.

He's still searching.

Image

Image

We met these two ladybugs at the Golden Festival.

Image These two seem to be together a lot, don't they?
Image Two friends traveling across Bugaria... not that unlikely, right?
Image They should become an exploration team already!
Image Shame. They don't seem like they can fight.

It seems to be working out all right for them so far.

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Gen and Eri are two of the explorers we need to find for the meeting, as this banter suggests. Let's talk to them.

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Image Thanks again, we owe you for back in the desert...
Image It was no problem. You would do the same for us.
Image They would try, at least.

Leif can be kind of an asshole sometimes.

Image We'll make up for it, you'll see.
Image Mhm. Hey, Vi? You're being real quiet.
Image Oh? Uh... sorry. Just thinking.
Image The Hive is SUPER cool! We have to come back together when we're not on the job!
Image Everyone's really nice. And they let us drink from the fountain for free!
Image Y-Yeah... Glad you like it. You ready to meet up?

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Image We'll see ya there, Team Snakemouth!

Image

And they walk off.

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Image Hmph.
Image Vi.

Image

Image Look at us, Vi. This is serious.
Image ...
Image You're mad over petty things. You're acting like a child.

Image

Image We're not finished.

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Image Instead of acting so proud, won't you be happier if you fix things?
Image ...
Image Vi, Leif is right! We never know what can happen. Friends are so precious to lose over nothing...
Image ...But what if she doesn't forgive me? I was really mean...
Image If you really mean it, and show it, she'll forgive you. You're sisters!
Image ......
Image F-Fine. I'll try.
Image Hmm. You're more mature than we expected.
Image Shut up!
Image We're on a mission now, but...
Image W-When we have time, I'll try and apologize. Okay? Are you happy now?
Image You promise?
Image I'll do it! I don't need to promise it like some kid!
Image Heheheh. Alright, Vi. We believe you.
Image We hope it goes well. Life's too short to have dumb fights.
Image Sigh... I feel all tired now.
Image Let's go find the other explorers, okay?

That was pretty heavy. We can definitely see where Leif is coming from (he's lost his entire family), and Kabbu sounds like he might be speaking from experience too. Only time will tell whether Vi will actually be able to make this better.

For now, though, we have more exploration to do.

Image

Image

Elias here has built a telescope. We'll check that out very soon.

Image We've been thinking for a while... what are those things some bugs wear on their eyes?
Image You mean glasses?
Image Never heard of them.
Image They're this fascinating gadget that helps bugs with poor eyesight see better!
Image Really? That small trinket improves eyesight?
Image Really cool huh? They started being sold a while ago.
Image It's good to see some things do get better with time.

Interesting that they apparently didn't have glasses back in Leif's day.

Let's check out the telescope.

Image

Image Look, there's the pier!
Image Oh, there's the Golden Hills! Can't see Venus, however.
Image And there's Snakemouth. Wonder why we feel so drawn towards it...

This banter suggests some of the things we might be able to see. Let's take a look.

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It's really easy to tell the Lost Sands are a sandbox from this height.

The telescope starts in that position, but we have full control here, we can pan the telescope around and look at everything.

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This jungle-esque area is just next to it: the Wasp Kingdom's territory.

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We can see Metal Island (as well as some others) out in the lake.

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There's Bugaria Outskirts, but the foggy area is unfamiliar!

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The Golden Hills.

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Image

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And the gigantic wall and door are an actual human house. All of Bugaria does seem to be in this house's backyard. Don't ask me why it has a constant stream of water pouring out.

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If you position the telescope roughly here and wait long enough, you can eventually see a big amorphous shadow move past in the fog, though it's too fuzzy to make out any detail. It's quite mysterious. It could just be a big animal, I guess? Or it could be... something else. :iiam:

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After we look through the telescope, we get a discovery.

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With that, we're done on this balcony.

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Let's head back inside.

Image

Image

Image

Image Y-Yeah, thanks...

Talking to this bee and being encouraged to sample the honey fountain fully restores our TP for free. That's handy.

Image What a nice bee. It warms my heart!
Image So tall. Cheerful, too.
Image Even I can't get mad at Vilma...
Image I feel bad, though. All that honey for free...
Image Not us. We intend to keep eating.
Image How are you two not fatter!?

Okay then.

Image

Image They sure managed to outlive even some of the new generation. Is this the power of science?

This guard has a neat little tidbit for us.

Image

This place certainly seems crowded! Let's talk to the person outside first.

Image

The banter is a little more interesting:

Image Hmm...
Image What's up?
Image It's nothing. I'm just thinking about clothing...
Image Gonna buy some?
Image No, no. I'm happy with how I look.
Image I'm not sure how to feel about others wishing to change their image...
Image Bugs can do whatever they want. If they wanna wear a big hat they can do it!
Image Can't say we oppose that view.
Image You're right. It's not my place to judge others, even if I'm not going to wear clothing myself.
Image Geez, it's not like you cut the scarf off of her. Stop apologizing!

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Oh, that explains the crowd. It's Mothiva. Joy.

Image 41 - Bugaria's Latest Sensation! (Mothiva's Theme)

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Delaying the inevitable just reveals this store is mostly stocking her merch. Just what we wanted to see.

Image That scarf is so pretty!
Image Mothiva's a crook, but her clothing brand is pretty high quality.
Image Wait, what? Isn't it only those red balls?
Image It seems any item she helped create has a small icon... Look at the scarf's corner!
Image Ugh, that sucks... No way I'm going to buy it.
Image You could just cover her logo up.
Image Nuh uh! She ain't getting one berry from me!

Whatever else you might say about her, Vi does have principles.

Before we talk to Mothiva, there's another quick banter:

Image It's them!
Image Let's get the meeting underway. Maybe they've even repented!
Image Doubt it.

Image

Image

Cheers break out from the crowd periodically while she talks.

Image Ugh! How can she be so popular while being such a jerk!
Image Ignorance is bliss for this crowd...
Image Um, Mothiva?
Image More fans? Ohoho-

Image

Image

Image A-Ahahaha! Sorry, show's over! I hope you'll join me in my next tour!

Image

The crowd complains, but does disperse.

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Image We didn't do anything! And you're the jerk!
Image Your mere presence ruins my vibe, can't you tell?
Image Maybe you can steal some of ours when we're not looking.
Image Why you...
Image Enough! We're not here to fight you. We have a mission, can't we cooperate?
Image We need not hog the glory. If we work together, we will all be recognized!
Image Sigh. So naive. What good is fame when shared with the likes of you?

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Image Look, just go to the darn meeting point. We can settle this later.
Image Hmph. I'll go, but not by your barking. See you don't keep me waiting too long.
Image And get Zasp to go too, okay? I can't be bothered after seeing you three.

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At least she's going, I guess.

Image 40 - High Above, Bee Kingdom

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Image It's a shame her defeat didn't humble her one bit...
Image We'll have to be careful, we never know what they'll be planning...

Let's go find Zasp, I suppose.

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Image

Image You've got some nerve walking into the Hive!
Image Hmph. Pipe down. I'm here on explorer business, just like you.
Image Come to steal more credit, we assume?
Image If you expect an apology, you won't get it.
Image Ngh. So you're proud of your actions?

Image

Image We saw an opportunity and took it. It didn't work out, but it's not the end of the world.
Image As you can see, even without the artifact, she is still respected.
Image Who's gonna respect someone so petty? Bet they wouldn't if they knew the truth!
Image Vi! We're not going to start badmouthing others!

Image

Image Hmph. Look, we don't care. Can you just move it to the meeting point?
Image That, I can do. Business is business, after all. My interests are not petty banter with you three.
Image Yeah, yeah. Just go.
Image Mothiva must be waiting, anyways. See you there.

He leaves too.

Image

Vi will say this line after talking to whichever explorer ends up being the last one (Mothiva, Zasp, or Gen and Eri).

If we'd talked to Zasp before Mothiva, we'd get this line from Kabbu just before he leaves:

Image We'll notify Mothiva as well. You won't wait for long. See you there.

instead of Mothiva telling us to give him orders.

Unfortunately for everyone involved, we still have more exploration and such to do, so we'll be keeping them waiting a while yet.

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There's actually something we can buy in this shop!

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Image

Image This is one purchase you won't regret!

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Image Thank you, thank you! Please visit Fashion Bee again!

We need this for a sidequest, of course. Hopefully Vivi will like this.

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If we keep going around, we can find this area. Is that a whole pile of boomerangs?

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Image

Image

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Image Heheheh. Of course. My tools are the best there is!
Image Um, we seem to have forgotten your name.
Image Oh. Hmm... Right. I'm Professor Honeycomb. Renowned scientist of the Bee Kingdom!
Image ...Or I was, until that Doctor H.B. took my spot!
Image H.B.'s creations all use weird tech she found studying the old roaches, you see.
Image Disgusting. While I do use ancient crystals, the roaches didn't create them. I'd never use borrowed technology for my experiments!
Image I'll create the perfect A.D.B.P. through my own superior intellect.
Image What? The Beemerang isn't good enough yet?

Image

Image When I finish the Mk III... They will seem like children's toys!
Image What? Can't you upgrade mine again?
Image I'd consider it, if only because of the data you've helped me round up.

Image

Image That's really not how physics work.
Image And then I'd reclaim my spot as the Bee Kingdom's lead scientist!

Image

Image Maybe later. But for now, begone! You're getting in the way of my research!
Image Yikes. Fine. Let's come back later.

She might have a fair bit to say, but there's not really anything we can do here except look around.

Image I'm busy! Shoo, shoo!
Image HACK HACK COUGH!
Image We should go before we make her faint...

If we talk to her again, she just encourages us to leave.

Image I knew I'd seen her somewhere before!
Image She seems to have a bit of obsession with the A.D.B.P.
Image I thought it was A.B.D.P.
Image I already told you it's the Beemerang!

I still don't enjoy typing these acronyms.

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There are even more piles of boomerangs everywhere and not much else in here. The professor does seem to have a one-track mind.

Image Woah, look at all these Beemerangs!
Image She seems to have been working on the A.D.B.P. somewhat obsessively...
Image And she's not even done yet. Her work ethic is admirable, given her age...

For all that, though, we can't do more than look around. We'll have to come back later to learn more about upgrades, I guess.

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Let's finish exploring the Hive proper.

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This person doesn't have much to say.

Image What a fluffy bee!
Image Bumblebees are pretty cute. Not cuter than me though!
Image We don't dare to disagree...

This is actually pretty interesting: apparently the Hive is open to other species of bee too!

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Just past there is an exit that leads to the Honey Factory.

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In addition to the guard, there are these helpful gears above the path to indicate where it leads.

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Apparently the factory's not inside the hive itself, but across this bridge.

Image We're... We're so high up. No fence, nothing...!
Image Just keep looking straight, Kabbu. It's not a long bridge.
Image Ngh... So high up...
Image Look. If you fall, I'll catch you, okay? Just get moving!
Image Vi...! ...Very well. I won't give up. Let's go!

Kabbu doesn't do well with heights.

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The guard stops us from going any further, though, so let's head back.

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We've almost completed the circuit now.

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Image Good luck getting someone to buy THAT portrait...
Image At least wait till she draws it before judging!

There have been hints before that the Hive is something of an artists' commune (among other things) but this is the first we've seen of it.

Image My, these paintings are quite... unique.
Image Artia really needs to add some color sometimes.
Image We agree, but maybe she won't be happy if she does.
Image Someone who's happy in a gray world... is that truly possible?
Image You're really overthinking this...

Well, it probably wouldn't be great if you're a bee, that'd make it a lot harder to find flowers...

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There's another exit here, surrounded by art supplies, but it's blocked off by this sign. Presumably this will open up later.

And with this, we've completed the circuit. Everyone necessary for the meeting is here, but let's talk to them all first:

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Image It's nowhere someone like you should be in!

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Image Shut up, or we'll take even longer!

Vi is really not pleased to have to deal with these two again.

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Meanwhile, Gen and Eri are a bit restless.

If we check for a banter on any of them, we just get this:

Image Let's gather everyone so we can get the meeting started!

I'm pretty sure you're supposed to see this one before everyone's here. Anyway, enough dawdling.

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Image Oh, nah! She gave us the parts. So we're good to go.
Image She's shameless, that's what she is!

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Image Be on your best behavior, for even glancing upon our Queen is a privilege.

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Image Are you the same Mothiva...?

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They open the doors and everyone files in.

(Continued in next post thanks to the character limit.)
Last edited by Explopyro on Thu Jun 10, 2021 4:28 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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23: The Queen on High (Part 2)

Image 42 - Bianca, Queen of All Bees

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Once again, the camera starts out high and pans down.

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Image Oh! Adorable, aren't they? Welcome!

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Image Y-Yes!

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Image (Shut up!)

Mothiva's really laying it on thick here, isn't she.

Image Uh, yeah. It's nice to be back...

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Image U-Um...
Image We have heard of your exploits here. You have brought pleasant surprises to my days.
Image That's great, Vi!

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Image The Hive is wonderful! Makes me wish I was a bee!

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This line does suggest that at least some of Vi's complaints are based in fact, even if she may have exaggerated them.

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Image H.B.?
Image Yes, my Queen.

H.B. comes in from offscreen.

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Image The core of the Honey Factory, which we owe this great kingdom to, has turned out to be an artifact.
Image Under normal circumstances, we would have to deny even the Ant Queen her request.
Image However, she has provided us with all we need to build a new core.
Image R-Right! Kina should have delivered them to the factory already...
Image Fufufu... Yes, I have gone there and gave a quick examination.
Image With my incredible intellect, I can quickly create a suitable replacement. All due to these materials' incredible quality!
Image It's quite a simple ordeal, isn't it? Almost feels like we've gone through a bit too many formalities...

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Image Ahaha! If you are true to your word, that would make me most happy.
Image For I would like to invite you to accompany the doctor to the Honey Factory and witness this pivotal exchange.
Image You are not obligated to go, but it would warm our heart if you did...
Image Yes. YES!
Image Sure thing! We would love to see even more of the kingdom!
Image Yes. For one, seeing honey being produced sounds delicious.

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Image Um, thanks. We'll go.
Image Vi...
Image Q-Queen?
Image Contrary to what I believed, it seems the outside world did you some good.
Image You look so grown up! Your team has my thanks.
Image Ah! Um, you're welcome, Queen.
Image I... I haven't changed at all. I'm still the same Vi!

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Image W-Well! Shall we go?

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Image No need to be so ruthless, my dear guard. Ahaha!
Image But you are indeed free to go unto the factory. It's to the west of my throne's entrance.
Image Vi, please take care of everyone as they explore. As sure as I am that there will be no issues.
Image ...Yeah. I will. You can count on me!
Image Dismissed!
Image Sigh... Let's go, Zasp.
Image About time.
Image Now, teams. I still have to pick up some tools. We'll meet up there.
Image Don't let the wind blow you off the bridge!

(I'm sure Kabbu just loves hearing that!)

Everyone leaves.

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Image Even we are disarmed by her words. They remind us of Elizant.

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Image Even so, you shouldn't have badmouthed them.
Image Fine. I'm sorry, okay!? And I'll, uh... I'll fix stuff. Slowly. Can we just do the mission?
Image Heheheh. Alright. Let's go, team.

With that, we're finally back in control. There's a bit more to see in this room before we leave, though.

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Image Please enjoy your visit!

Queen Bianca doesn't have much more to say, but the banter is more interesting:

Image Say, Vi. The Queen mentioned a mother knowing best...
Image Just a bee thing, really.
Image Do you think of the Queen as your mother?
Image Not really... She's the Queen before anything else.
Image I'm sure she does think of you as her daughter, though.
Image Dunno... Everyone's her daughter to her. Does it make anyone special then?
Image That's another way of thinking about it...
Image You two are overthinking this! Let's get going already!

It's interesting to think about what the familial dynamics for sentient eusocial insects must be like.

Also, I want to highlight this one because I've seen a surprising number of people react to the earlier "daughter" line with something like "wait, she's the princess in disguise?!" and, well, no. They're bees. That's not how bees work, and I'm glad the game goes out of its way to acknowledge this. (I don't have anything against "exiled princess" as a trope, but it has no place here.)

There's one more banter for the room:

Image This throne room is so pleasant, and the smell is fantastic!
Image That's what a bunch of honey and flowers will do to any place, really.
Image The Queen's demeanor also lightens up the mood. Shame we're here for business.
Image Eh... I'm sure I can get you both back in.
Image Oh? You're willing to come back?
Image ...Let's go!

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The guards by the door both say this. We should probably be on our way.

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Let's take a quick detour to the Ant Mines first though. We bought that hat, after all.

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Image Oh, great! I really, really want to visit the Bee Kingdom... but the Queen hasn't allowed us to leave yet.

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Image Oh! That's really cute!
Image But I'm cuter, right?
Image You are! All Bees are SO CUTE!
Image ...Err, thanks. Here you go.

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Image I found this while digging here, but it should be useful to you.
Image It'll be pretty good.
Image We're glad we've made you happy!
Image Hee hee... it is so cute! I am totally wearing that once I get my leave! Thank you very much!

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A second copy of Numb Resistance could prove useful, we're going to be facing a lot of Numbing enemies soon.

If we talk to her again:

Image Thank you for that hat! I really treasure it.

That takes care of the last sidequest we currently have the ability to complete. Let's head to the factory.

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When we start crossing the bridge to the factory, Vi calls out at the halfway point.

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Image Oi! Calm down!
Image A bridge's not the best place for sudden outbursts.
Image Look. Everything in the Factory's super expensive! And they don't let you leave mid-tour!
Image I see... We should shop beforehand, then?
Image Yup! Let's save some berries!
Image Or we could spend a little not to have to go all the way back...

This conversation is a pretty important hint. Entering the Honey Factory is a genuine point of no return (at least for the rest of Chapter 3; nothing becomes permanently inaccessible in the long run). There is a shop inside, but its selection is limited and the items are marked up, so it's probably a good idea to get your items in order now (that said, Amber will be inside, so storage isn't off-limits).

This is also a good time to go buy medals or complete sidequests if you still need to.

Having said that, I've taken care of everything already, and we're ready to go in.

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We'll head into the factory next time. Something's obviously going to go wrong, in order for us to have dungeon gameplay... but how?

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Hmmm. It is a mystery.

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