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 5 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?

Image

Image

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!

Image

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!

Image

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!

Image

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.

Image

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.

Image

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

Image 28 - Harvest Festival

Image

Image

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.

Image

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?

Image

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.

Image

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

Image

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.

Image

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!

Image

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.

Image

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

Image

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.

Image

Image

Bringing him to 10 maximum HP.

Image 37 - Defiant Root

Image

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!

Image

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.

Image

Next time, it's a homecoming for Vi (like it or not), we're heading into the Hive.
Last edited by Explopyro on Mon Jun 28, 2021 3:58 am, edited 1 time in total.

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.

Image

Image

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.

Image

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.

Image

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.

Image

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?

Image

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.

Image

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.

Image

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).

Image

The logbook notification suggests we've gotten a discovery.

Image

Image

Not much to say, though.

Image

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.

Image

Let's go in.

Image

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.

Image

Image Um, what?

Image

The scan is apparently a lattice of laser honeycombs?

Image

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 ...

Image

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...

Image

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

Image

Image

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

Someone calls out to stop us from offscreen.

Image

Image

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.

Image

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

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

Image

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?

Image

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

Image

Image

Image

Image Leif, you had this sort of power?

Image

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!

Image

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.

Image

Image

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!

Image

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

Image

Image

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.

Image

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

Image

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.

Image

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).

Image

Image

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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Image

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.

Image

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.

Image

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.

Image

There's another pathway here.

Image

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

Image

Image

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!

Image

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

Image

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.

Image

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.

Image

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

Image

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?

Image

Image We'll see ya there, Team Snakemouth!

Image

And they walk off.

Image

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.

Image

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.

Image

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.

Image

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

Image

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

Image

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

Image

The Golden Hills.

Image

Image

Image

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.

Image

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:

Image

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

Image

Image

With that, we're done on this balcony.

Image

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!

Image

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

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

Image

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.

Image

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?

Image

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.

Image

At least she's going, I guess.

Image 40 - High Above, Bee Kingdom

Image

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.

Image

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.

Image

There's actually something we can buy in this shop!

Image

Image

Image This is one purchase you won't regret!

Image

Image Thank you, thank you! Please visit Fashion Bee again!

We need this for a sidequest, of course. Hopefully Vivi will like this.

Image

If we keep going around, we can find this area. Is that a whole pile of boomerangs?

Image

Image

Image

Image

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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24: Lockdown (Part 1)

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It's time we went into the Honey Factory, as Queen Bianca requested, to witness the cores being exchanged and have a tour of the premises.

Image 43 - Work That Honey

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Looks like we're pretty much the last to arrive.

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Image Amazing, right? Here's where we produce all of Bugaria's honey!

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(The placement of speech bubbles looks a bit awkward, but the asides are coming from Mothiva in the background.)

Image Yeehaw! Can't wait!
Image Sounds like a good opportunity, doesn't it? Science is incredible, but not the best spectator sport.

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(notice Mothiva and Zasp slinking out of sight while everyone else is talking)

Image So go on, have fun!
Image Thank you, Doctor. We will enjoy this for sure!
Image Knowing how the honey is made... This is an opportunity we cannot miss.
Image It's seriously nothing that cool...
Image Maybe for a bee. For us, it's a great experience!
Image Alright, alright. Geez... It'll be fun, I guess.

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Everything shakes.

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Image Factory has been compromised! Alert Code 32 Engaged!
Image Complete Factory Lockdown in Effect!

Image 13 - It's Getting Scary!

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All the doors loudly slam shut.

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Image What...? But Code 32 is...

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Image Code 32 means... The factory has been attacked by hostile forces!
ImageBut how? We didn't see anyone on our way here...
Image Doctor, we must leave! We can retrieve the artifact later!
Image Indeed. It's not just us. Tourists and workers need to evacuate too.
Image Guide, do you know where the Overseer is?
Image N-no! It's routine checkup time... She could be anywhere!
Image ...Tch. Without the Overseer, we're stuck.
Image What!?

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Image That is, unless the Overseer enters the disarm code.
Image We suggest turning our trip around the factory into a rescue mission.
Image ...Great idea! Finding her will fix all our problems, really.
Image A-alright. We'll help!
Image With such a capable group of explorers here, we should be okay.
Image For now I will work on the core's replacement... You should focus on the rescue mission.
Image Let's do this!
Image You heard that, Mothiva? Let's-

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Image Huh, he's gone too...
Image I bet they have something to do with this...!
Image For this once, probably not... Guess we'll have to search for them too.
Image Cuz we didn't have enough to do... Let's go, team!

Image 43 - Work That Honey

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With that, the scene ends and we're back in control. This is certainly a situation, and we're going to have our work cut out for us (never mind "lockdown" feels a lot more salient nowadays than when this was written). First, though, let's assess the situation, have a look around and talk to everyone.

Image This trip didn't go as I'd hoped...
Image That's what I get for doing the Queen a favor...
Image It's just another mission. Let's stay focused, and take in the sights.

The banter in this hub area is nice and simple.

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Image Dr. H.B. is with us... She will figure something out...!

Her text is shaking a lot.

Image Most workers are surprisingly... calm.

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Image Never combine those words ever again.
Image ...Besides, they're used to staying here a good while.
Image Even so, we do not know what caused the lockdown. We must hurry so they can evacuate!

This banter's fun (and is shared between most of the guards and workers in the factory; honestly, it seems a bit less fitting for this one). Vi, please don't tempt fate.

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Doctor HB and Crow are hard at work here. (Is that a floppy disk on top of the pile? I'm genuinely not sure.)

Image Look at 'em go.
Image Goodness... They're assembling the pieces at an unbelievable pace!
Image Looks like a bunch of junk. Is this really going to make a new core?
Image I can't wait to see the end result!

They're going to be pretty busy, let's stop bothering them.

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Image ...I've never actually seen the core itself before. Wonder how it looks like.

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If we head down that passage, we'll immediately hit a dead end. The door to the core is firmly shut and we can't interact with the console in here, the Overseer is going to have to do that.

Image This is the core room.
Image Great. It's locked. Let's find the Overseer and get this overwith.

Our team don't have much to say in here either. Let's go back.

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Gen and Eri hint we should be looking for a key card if we want to get into the Honey Processing area.

Image It's a relief to have other teams here with us...
Image THEY should be relieved we decided to come along!
Image Why not both? We'll have to work together to get through this.
Image Meh. If you say so...

Honestly, I'm surprised Leif isn't taking Vi's side here, he's certainly grumbled enough about them in the past.

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This console is obviously where the keycard goes, but we don't have it.

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This area's locked off too.

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That's a bit of a lead, at least.

Image Seems at least one is frazzled...
Image It'd be weird if everyone stuck to protocol.

She gets a different banter, at least.

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Image Maybe they had something to do with it?

That's a bit suspicious. Do we think they're malicious enough to sabotage the factory? What would they get out of doing that? Something to think about.

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The guide seems pretty frazzled too.

Image Poor Tuvi...
Image It must be rough, being a tour guide.
Image What about us? We're the ones cleaning up the mess...

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Let's check out the lower level.

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Image Maybe you can find something to help there?

We'll check this out in a moment.

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There's someone crying in the corner by this door.

Image This poor bee is distressed! We simply must-
Image Yeah, yeah. Let's talk to her.

This banter can be seen only before talking to her.

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Image I just got the job, and everything's already ruined. Ruined!
Image Why does this always have to happen to meeeeeeee?!
Image With the factory closed, I can't sell stuff to fill up my quota, and I'll get fired! Noooooo!
Image Err, management doesn't have quotas during emergencies...
Image Huuu...
Image Some make believe won't hurt, Vi. Miss, we'd love to shop here, if you'd have us.
Image Y-you will...?

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She unlocks the shop and goes inside. Let's see what this is about.

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Image If you want a delicious honey treat, stand next to it and press (A) to call me.

So, yes, this is a shop. With the lockdown in place, we can't leave, and this is the only reliable place to get items (certainly the only place we can get anything that's been cooked; enemies can still drop items, of course).

Image Yikes... Why'd you have to say that, Kabbu? Now we HAVE to buy things.
Image Vi, we cannot leave until we complete our mission. More supplies will be helpful!
Image I mean, it's not like we walked in here with our pockets empty.
Image And if we run out of berries, it will be hard to get more.
Image Let's just be very responsible with our exploration funds, then.

(Don't tell Kabbu, but I didn't bring in any berries to spend anyway. Leif is also overstating his case a fair bit, you can earn plenty of berries from battles.)

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Amber is also here, and will happily let us access our storage if we need it.

Image Poor miss Amber's been trapped as well!
Image Thankfully. It'll be handy to take our items from storage.
Image Think about her feelings!
Image I dunno. She seems fine to me... Does she even know there's a lockdown going on?
Image If she doesn't, we better not tell her.

Once again, the game's hanging a lampshade on the mechanics here. I do enjoy that they're willing to poke fun at themselves about things like this.

Let's check out the shop's inventory.

Image Honey'd Leaf (10 berries)
Image Leaf Omelet (10 berries)
Image Glazed Honey (9 berries)
Image Honey Ice Cream (20 berries)
Image Shock Berry (11 berries)

Vi wasn't wrong when she said the shop here is overpriced, though it's not quite as bad as she might have led us to believe. The basic food items here can come in handy in an emergency, and they do have a few new things.

Image Honey Ice Cream
"This honey flavored ice cream's a real guilty pleasure! Restores 5 HP and 10 TP. It may cause brain freeze!"
Freezes user (2 turns)

Honey Ice Cream is a recipe, though we couldn't make it right now even if we could get to a chef (it requires an ingredient we don't have access to). When the description says "may cause brain freeze", it's a bit misleading: this will always freeze the eater unless they have immunity from a medal (which we don't have, and can't get until later in the game). This is hard to use strategically right now, unless you get it specifically for out-of-battle healing. If you came in here unprepared, you might end up using these whether you like them or not.

Image Shock Berry
"This high voltage berry tastes great, but really shocks your system! Restores 7 HP."
Inflicts numb (2 turns)

The Shock Berry is another new item, and I believe it's actually exclusive to this shop. As far as cooking goes, it works the same as Agaric Shroom in all the shock-based recipes. If you want to numb a character as part of a strategy, this could be useful.

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We can also check out this hologram, though it doesn't have much to say. (I do like the way they have the text of digital entities periodically have glitches flicker in.)

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That's it for the shop, though. It's worth keeping in mind if we find ourselves needing supplies, but let's keep exploring.

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Looks like we've found a dormitory?

Image So many beds! Are these needed with the Hive close by?
Image Workers don't really leave the factory until their shift's over. Sometimes it's days long...
Image That sounds suffocating. And illegal.
Image Pays super well, though! And then they go on a huge holiday!
Image How come you didn't become a worker, then? It'd get you all the berries you want.
Image No way! It's so boring! Once was enough for a lifetime.
Image I wanted to fall asleep every second of it! I'd rather be poor!
Image Alrighty then...

When Leif says illegal, I have to wonder what labour laws he's thinking of. This factory's run by the Bee Kingdom, the ruling Queen obviously approves.

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Image If you need them, just come see me.

This worker in the corner will sell us overpriced Magic Seeds. Once again, we really don't want to have to buy them, but the option's there if necessary.

Image Sorry, can't make the deal any cheaper. Not even for you, Vi.

She also has this line if you try to buy one while not having enough.

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Image If some turret shoots it at you, make sure to block!

This is a hint at a core mechanic in the upcoming areas, we're going to be facing a lot of enemies with attacks that cause Numb if not blocked.

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The last worker in here offers us the ability to rest for free, which is quite convenient. I'll take her up on this, we're not quite at full health.

Image Alright, I'll wake you if something happens.

Image 20 - Night at the Inn

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That's it for this room.

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There's one place left we haven't checked.

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Image Call it a hunch, but we think this is the Overseer's office.
Image Mhm.
Image Incredible! How did you figure it out?!
Image ...A hunch.
Image ...Oh. Ahem. Vi, there's no way the Overseer would be hiding in here, right?
Image I sure hope so. Would make our life way easier.
Image Then she's definitely not here. But let's look around anyways.

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Looks like there's some kind of card on top of the bookshelf. One thing at a time, though.

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This is all we get interacting with the computer.

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Image It's not like that. This is the honored employee portrait!
Image Bees that work really hard get to be put up there for a few days.
Image Is there no hall of fame for all the honored employees?
Image Yup. It's inside the Hive, though, so you two can't see em.
Image So in our team, Kabbu would be the honored employee?
Image I-I would?
Image No way, it'd be me!

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We get a discovery for interacting with the painting.

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And, as per usual, once we have it, checking again just yields a short description:

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Let's go get that card.

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We can climb up using these boxes and sundry as a staircase.

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And Vi can snag it with her Beemerang.

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Just what we needed. (Make sure to read the description on this one!)

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Let's open the way.

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Image Heheh. It's our time to shine, Eri! Can't let them do everything, right?
Image Y-You sure we won't get in the way?
Image Relax. It's just a factory! Let's go in and do what we can!

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Gen and Eri head inside.

Image Uh oh... The factory's super dangerous! It's full of sentry bots!
Image W-What!? Team, we must give chase!

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Onward we go.

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Certainly looks like there's a lot going on in here!

Image Alrighty. We're officially in the worker zone! We can just catch the tram and...
Image Doesn't seem to be working, does it?
Image Argh! Everything's going wrong!
Image Wouldn't be a mission if it was easy. We'll have to walk around normally.

Let's have a look around.

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Image Contact Malbee for repairs.

Sounds like there's supposed to be a tram system here, but of course it's inoperative. Nothing is ever that easy. These little friendly robots are called Menders, we'll see them in various places throughout the factory.

Image An intelligent machine that speaks!? What is this sorcery!?
Image Has technology advanced this far so quickly?
Image It's not intelligent! It only knows, like, three sentences!
Image This is only the start, Vi. How long until three becomes thirty? And then even more!?
Image Will we be replaced by machines!?
Image How would something we create replace us?
Image You two seriously need to learn how to think less.

This one always makes me smile.

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Let's head downstairs.

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Looks like there are a few different new enemy types down here!

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The battle-start animation is completely new in here: instead of the various leaves we're used to, it's honeycombs, and they move vertically instead of horizontally.

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Let's see what this... bee drone? is about. (I'm halfway convinced the main purpose of the bees' technological advancement is to create opportunities for drone puns.)

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...Of course it's called a Bee-Boop. Well, let's see what it can do.

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Whenever you hit them, Bee-Boops swap between their two modes. It's not going to come into play in this battle, because we can kill this one before it gets a turn, but they have different attacks in each mode and this means we have some control over what they do.

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Hitting it again makes it switch back. Leif and Vi will proceed to finish it off.

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Hey, we're getting EXP again!

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Really don't know why Leif thought it was going to be a problem to get berries.

Let's check out the other enemy now.

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What are these odd things?

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Denmuki are based on Monema flavescens, which is also known as "Denkimushi" or "Japanese electric bug". These ones are literally electrified.

We'll throw a full round of attacks at the one in front and see what happens.

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This is their attack, they charge up and attempt to shock us. If you don't block this, it will numb on hit.

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As we see when the second one hits Kabbu. Oops.

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This is what Numb looks like. Kabbu's completely immobilised, though being numbed does give +1 defence so it could be worse. We're only losing out on one action, anyway.

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You can still rotate the party even if one member is disabled, so let's get him out of the front so we don't miss out on the attack bonus.

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Vi finishes off the first one.

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While Leif gets in a nice chunk of damage on the other with the positioning bonus.

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At least I blocked this time!

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Now that Kabbu's recovered, it's trivial to finish this off.

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These are worth a bit less than the Bee-Boops. Regardless, though, these enemies are definitely a step up in challenge and will punish you for getting careless.

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It dropped an Agaric Shroom, too. Item drops aren't that uncommon in here either, so there's less need to resort to the shop than you might expect. We can't cook this, and using it in battle is probably not a great idea, but for TP recovery outside combat it's handy.

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With the enemies gone, we can quickly realise there's nothing we can do on this level.

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What we actually needed to do is strike this switch.

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That starts the elevator platforms moving up and down. It also immediately triggers a scene.

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Image S-Shocked!?
Image Whew, good thing I can fly...

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What are you doing, Leif?

Image No way. What if I need to cut or freeze something?

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The platform starts flashing while Leif stands on it.

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Looks like that shield comes in handy!

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Image We took some time to think about it... And we can control it.
Image If we hold down (B), we should be able to all cross safely.
Image Can't really jump or walk fast while doing it, though...

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Image Eh, if Gen and Eri got through, we would have found a way. Let's go.

(This does make me curious how they actually got past this...)

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Image You can also move while using it to push away enemies!
Image Leif can also use the Bubble Shield skill in battle!

This unlocks Leif's second field skill, and a combat skill to go with it. Didn't we already have Bubble Shield, though?

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What we had before was Bubble Shield Lite, which protects one person. This is the big version. For 7 TP, Leif can put a bubble on every member of the party at once. The downside is that it costs him two turns to use: if he has multiple actions, it'll spend two, and if he doesn't, he can take a loan from the future and skip his next turn instead.

Even accounting for that, this ability is very strong (though 7 TP is a lot). It's a great way to dodge big attacks you know are coming (such as delayed or charged attacks), and one of the few ways to safely use Abombinations (though those will remove the shield). This spell is very exploitable, and a staple of challenge runs (often seen alongside Hustle Candy, to help mitigate the action losses).

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The field version of this ability lets Leif wrap all of Team Snakemouth in a protective bubble. This lets us travel over hazardous terrain (like these electrified platforms), which allows us to get across this room.

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It also protects against enemy attacks, meaning this turret's shots won't hit us. Touching enemies with the bubble stuns them, making it a very easy way to get first strikes.

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Like so. This is a new enemy, let's see what it's about.

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These things may not look scary yet, but they're very dangerous.

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To start with, they have 2 defence, so Kabbu is really the only reliable means of attack against them without spending TP. So he'll do that, while the other two hit the Denmuki instead.

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The first thing we see the turret do is cough up two missiles, each of which hits for 4 damage before blocks (I somehow Super Blocked both hits here, so the numbers look deceptively low; this can rack up damage fast). Each missile is targeted randomly at our party, so they can hit the same bug or different bugs.

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While the Denmuki just attacks us. They, at least, only have the one attack.

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It's easy to clean up from there, at least, so this one presents no further issue. We'll see what else they can do in later fights.

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That could've been worse.

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It leaves behind a Honey Drop for us too, which is nice.

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Let's move on.

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The next room has even more complex machinery everywhere.

Image This is the most honey we've ever seen...
Image Heh. It only gets better as you go.
Image This factory's design is quite... unorthodox. Moving about is quite difficult.
Image It's made for bees. We just fly around.
Image Can't you carry us?
Image Not if there's another way! Now shield up!
Image This power-up was a mistake...

Leif, you have wings too.

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There's a Bee-Boop guarding the bridge. (If you look down, you can see honey drops moving past on a conveyor belt, and much of the floor in this room is a gigantic pool of honey.)

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This fight has two of them, so we should finally get to see their attacks.

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Kabbu attacks the first one twice after getting a relay from Leif.

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When Leif attacks, something special happens: Charmy's spell triggers! This gives him +1 attack before striking, which makes it enough to get the kill.

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Though as you can see here, the boost is only for this turn. I guess with a relay you could potentially get more use out of it, though with exhaustion that comes out mostly a wash.

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Vi's attack leaves the Bee-Boop in its visored mode.

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When in this mode, they attack with this diving charge. It hits pretty hard! Overall, though, I think this is probably the easier attack of theirs to deal with.

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That said, we can finish this now.

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We're starting to get some nice EXP yield from these battles.

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Now that the enemies are gone, we can get our bearings. There's a switch on one of these electrified platforms which we obviously need to hit.

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Judicious use of Leif's shield makes this a simple matter of timing.

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That switch activated the platforms leading north, making them move up and down.

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Unfortunately, it also activated the electrifying mechanism on them.

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But we can get up just fine.

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There's a Denmuki waiting for us up here.

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We'll just have everyone attack the Denmuki for now. It attacks Vi and doesn't do much, but on the other hand... the Bee-Boop is in gun mode.

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In gun mode, they launch these honey globs. This hits twice with a base damage of 2 (we're seeing more on Kabbu thanks to Favorite One), and will also cause Numb if not blocked. It's annoying.

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After that attack, Charmy decides to heal us! This can trigger after any enemy attack, and heals everyone 20% of their maximum HP (though it looks like it's rounded down). Not too bad.

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We can finish off the Denmuki easily enough, and do some damage to the Bee-Boop at least.

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I missed the block on Vi and got her numbed, so I left this in, both to show the attack does this and so you can see her numbed sprite.

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Easy enough to wrap up from there.

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Now we can figure out how to move forward. This setup is much like the cranks we saw in the Golden Hills: we need to constantly turn one of these cranks to raise the platforms so we can cross.

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Thing is, the platforms will lower down again if Vi releases the Beemerang, so we can't swap to Leif to shield against the shocks. Instead, we just need to hurry across with good timing between the shocks.

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More enemies lie in wait.

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The turret has a Denmuki with it.

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After having Kabbu get some damage in on the turret, I decided to have Leif try to freeze the Denmuki, but it didn't take. This is a bit unlucky: all these enemies in here have 50-60% freeze resistance, so Frigid Coffin is significantly more likely to work than not. Still, more likely isn't certain.

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On the other hand, Charmy decided to refund Leif some of the TP he spent. It looks like this is rounded down too, it's supposed to be half of the cost.

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The turret does something new this time. This is a delayed missile, which hits one turn later. Honestly, though, I like seeing this, it's less scary than their other moves.

The Denmuki just attacked Vi.

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Although it did something new afterward! Denmukis sometimes elect to curl up after attacking or being attacked. This temporarily gives them 2 defence. Flipping attacks can knock them out of it, and after attacking they return to normal.

The rest of this battle isn't terribly interesting, so I'm going to gloss over most of it, except for this:

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This is what the delayed missile landing looks like. It's only 3 damage for some reason, so not only is it only a single hit, it's less damaging than the other missiles which it fires twice.

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We're starting to get close to the next rank, which I appreciate.

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After that fight, I decided to use the Agaric Shroom to restore some TP.

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That's this room sorted. Let's keep going.

(Once again, this update required splitting. Back momentarily.)
Last edited by Explopyro on Sat Jun 19, 2021 3:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
24: Lockdown (Part 2)

Image 43 - Work That Honey

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It's hard to see just from this entrance, but this room has a lot going on in it.

Image This is the Connecting Room! But... the pump seems to be broken. Uh oh.
Image The factory must've shut it down.
Image How could you tell, Vi?
Image The honey levels are a bit weird. It's pooling up.
Image ...If it keeps up, honey's gonna pile up in the basement! Abomihoneys can come out!
Image We still don't get why that happens.
Image It's dangerous, okay? Be careful!

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Heading west, we get a bit of a respite at least. One of Venus' buds is here, as well as a save crystal.

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Image Contact Malbee for repairs.

The Mender doesn't have much to say.

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Don't think I need healing just yet, but let's see what Venus has to say.

Image A factory inside a tree? You Bees sure know how to impress!
Image It is a bit tricky to get my roots out here, but I'm here to heal you up if you need it!

Much appreciated, Venus. We'll be back.

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Let's fight this Denmuki, I guess?

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This one has an Abomihoney with it! These aren't exclusive to the Crisbee quest, we'll be fighting quite a few of them in here. They're no different from when we saw them before.

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I decided to freeze it while we deal with the Denmuki. With Venus so close, I'm less concerned about being frugal with my TP.

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Charmy decided to help Kabbu attack this time.

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At the end of the fight, the Abomihoney decided to go into bomb mode, but it's not much of a threat alone.

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They actually have a different death animation when killed in bomb form!

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Abomihoneys are worth a lot of EXP!

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The console here expects a keycard, but we don't have it yet, so let's keep exploring.

We could head down that passage to the north, but let's check out the south side first.

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Both sides here are identical: we can turn a crank with the Beemerang to raise these platforms and reach the upper level.

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There's a lot going on up here: the electrified platforms are constantly making a circuit around the room.

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Enemies await us as soon as we disembark.

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We're getting used to these enemies, so this fight isn't anything of particular note.

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Although we finally see the last attack the turrets can do. Instead of missiles, it can also launch globs of honey. These come out really fast, so they can be tricky to block, and while they do less damage than the missiles (3, compared to 4), these will cause Numb if not blocked.

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After the battle, let's get our bearings. There are two other stationary platforms up here, each leading to an exit; we're going to have to ride the moving ones to get to them.

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It's easy enough as long as you remember to shield.

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Let's head north first.

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What's going on in here?

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Image What's this room even supposed to be?
Image The training obstacle course!
Image An obstacle course...?
Image They make the platforms fly around everywhere, and whoever grabs more honey off the trams wins!
Image We're glad the platforms are stuck to the ground, then...

Sounds like a convenient excuse for more puzzles. Let's see what we're dealing with.

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We have a crank, a floor that periodically electrifies itself, and a wall with a switch behind it.

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Turning the crank makes the wall retract, though just like the last time we saw this gimmick, we need to time our crossing because Leif can't bubble while Vi is using the Beemerang.

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We make it to the switch.

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The wall starts closing again, but there's a bouncy mushroom back here just in case.

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Flipping that switch caused this enclosure to be lifted, revealing another crank. What will this one do...?

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Well, let's get the lay of the land first. The stairs lead down to this gigantic electric floor, and there are some enemies milling about too.

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Let's eliminate them.

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We're getting quite close to ranking up now!

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There's another of these walls on the far side, blocking our progress. Let's clear out the other enemy too, then get back to the crank.

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Getting a first strike while under the effects of Strong Start means Leif starts the battle with three turns.

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Though this can be awkward: if you look carefully here, you can see that after relaying once, Leif's icon for Turn Relay has been greyed out. I'm not sure exactly how the restrictions work, but it seems like, when under the effects of Strong Start, a character can't relay multiple times in the same turn. Leif's going to have to take at least one action under the effects of double exhaustion.

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It doesn't affect the use of items, though, so it's fine. It was a bit wasteful to heal here, really, considering we're about to level up, but Leif couldn't do much else so I figured I'd play it safe.

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And there's the level-up.

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No special bonus this time, but the usual benefits are still appreciated.

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I decided to use our new MP to give Prayer to Kabbu. I don't know if I'll use it, but it can be handy and I want to show off how it works. (I also swapped Leif's Status Booster out to give Vi Poison Needles, though I didn't end up demonstrating them this update either.)

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Let's get the crank going.

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This room's a little tricky. We don't have time to get all the way across this floor before the electricity starts, so once again we just need to time it well. As soon as the electricity stops, we'll start moving, then release the Beemerang and switch to Leif for shielding once it starts flashing again. That should give us enough time to get through.

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And we've made it, though as you can see the wall had started closing by the time we reached it.

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There's a keycard up here. Let's take it.

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That's all for this room, so let's head back.

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We need to wait for the platform so we can move on to the next portion.

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There's not a whole lot on this side of the boxes, but it's still worth checking out.

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Though this fight might make you think again... two turrets at once is nasty.

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Dash Through is really good here. Especially when you follow it up with Heavy Strike and kill the first turret immediately.

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Levelling up had a dramatic effect on our EXP gain: these enemies have all stopped giving anything beyond the pity EXP now.

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Hiding in the niche behind this box is a new item.

Image Shell Ointment is Image Tardigrade Shield in a can, if you prefer not to use the medal. We'll eventually be able to buy these, but this is the only one we'll see for a while.

I'll be saving this for a specific purpose, but if you're playing along, don't necessarily feel obligated to.

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That's all there was to find over there, though, so let's ride the platform to the next stop.

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And into the next room.

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This looks interesting. Let's check out the room.

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Looks like we have floor switches and water droplets, so it's going to be an ice block puzzle. Let's get rid of the Denmuki first, though.

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It comes with an Abomihoney. Still, this isn't too difficult.

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And done.

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There are two water droplets in here, and two big switches on the floor. Naturally, we need to get a block onto each switch.

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We have to use the first block to get up to this ledge first, though.

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Knocking this one down is easy enough.

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While it's certainly possible to get the block we'd knocked against the ledge free with sufficient effort, it's easier to just refreeze the droplet. This causes the original block to despawn at the same time the new one forms.

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Now we can put them on the switches.

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Depressing both switches makes this honey geyser rise up with the platform. Now it's just a matter of waiting and riding it up.

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Before going to the left, let's check behind this pillar.

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Sneaky! It's been a while since we've found one of these, hasn't it?

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Now for the main platform.

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Oops, looks like Leif got stuck somehow. Let's fight the turret, anyway.

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I got a bit sloppy here. The turrets can really output a lot of damage if you're not careful!

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The keycard is behind this screen. But how do we get it?

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Let's finally check the room banter.

Image Hmm... So the gate closes when the geyser rises.
Image We can only control so many ice cubes. Let's use that to our advantage.

That's our hint. This puzzle's kind of weird, in that it relies on the "one ice block per source of droplets" limit.

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When we freeze the droplet and make a block up here, it causes the block we put on the switch to despawn. It's the kind of puzzle that can make you feel clever when you solve it, which I like, but don't ask me to explain the physics behind it: everything about this puzzle makes zero diegetic sense. I'm not sure how to feel about this one, really.

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Let's go get our prize, anyway.

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It's another one of these.

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That's all for this room, so let's head back.

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We can ride the platform back to where we started, completing our circuit of this upper level.

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So let's just drop back down.

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We've taken a bit of a beating, so let's stop in to see Venus before proceeding.

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Much better.

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This exit is the last one we haven't tried. Unlike the platforms we've been dealing with thus far, this one is constantly electrified instead of being on a timer.

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Still, the solution is just to cross it while in a bubble.

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There's a lot going on in this room, too. Though do note, all of the platforms are currently not moving.

Image Are those Gen and Eri?
Image They seem to be in trouble. We should check it out.

The first time I played Bug Fables, I actually got stuck in this room for quite a while. I just didn't know what to do.

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What we need to do is freeze these honey geysers, so we can cross to where Gen and Eri are. Between the fact these geysers are honey rather than water, and the last geysers we saw were in Snakemouth Den and Ant City, it's kind of easy to just forget about them or fail to make the connection. Nevertheless, it's easy enough once you realise.

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When we get across, we can see Gen and Eri desperately dodging the fire of this Bee-Boop.

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Image H-Help! Please!

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We're thrust straight into the fight. It's only two Bee-Boops, though, so it's nothing too hard. Let's just clean them up.

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Image We may have to start charging 'em...
Image Nonsense, Vi.
Image What did you do to get rushed by Bee-Boops?
Image Oh yeah! We were, like, trying this switch out?

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(...oops, even the writers mix up Gen and Eri sometimes, apparently. I feel slightly less bad about doing so myself now. Gen is the one with the blue scarf.)

Image This place is too dangerous, you shouldn't split up!
Image You should return to a safe place. We will take care of this.
Image W-Wait! We can help! Seriously!
Image We can stay here and press the switch, right? Then all of you can cross!
Image That's a fantastic idea, we're impressed.
Image It'll settle our debt with Vi, too!

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Image But will you be ok? What if you get ambushed again?
Image Eh, doesn't seem to be anything dangerous left around.

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This is how this room works. Pressing (Back) now, instead of triggering a party banter, will signal to Gen and Eri to flip the switch and toggle which direction the platforms move (they each move between two endpoints, either horizontally or vertically depending on the platform). These platforms also shock periodically, so we'll need to be shielding while we do this.

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So once this one gets to us, we can get on it and then have them send it back again.

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Some of these jumps can be a bit tricky, going from corner to corner. There might be a cleaner solution intended, but this is how I always end up doing it.

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We make this platform go left and it meets up with this one.

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And that final platform, after another toggle, brings us to our destination.

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There's yet another keycard for us to grab here, as well as a switch.

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Flipping the switch causes these platforms to rise out of the honey, meaning we don't need to reverse the journey over those platforms.

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That's that. We can return to the main room now.

Now for some dialogue no player would normally see. If we leave this room and come back in, there's a banter we can see (but we can't get it otherwise, because the button is toggling the platforms instead).

Image We can't really move here without Gen and Eri, now can we?
Image Vi could carry us around, or something.
Image There's nothing here! Just get out!

It's kind of cute, anyway.

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They'll also say this if we go back to the platform they're on.

There's no reason to actually do this, though: finding the card key was the last meaningful thing to do in this room.

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Now, back to this console.

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Inserting one of the cards causes this bulb on the wall to light up.

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Once all three cards have been inserted, the way forward opens.

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This seems like a good place to stop, though. Next time, we'll continue our exploration of the Honey Factory, and hopefully find out what's happened to the Overseer at least.

User avatar
25: The Blob

Image 43 - Work That Honey

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When we left off, we'd ventured pretty deep into the Honey Factory, and just collected the three key cards needed to open this door. Let's head on in.

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Image Hm? Something's going on up ahead.
Image M-Malbee? We've gotta help!

We're too far back to see what's going on, but Vi clearly knows whoever's in trouble...

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Image 13 - It's Getting Scary!

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Whoever this is, she's retreated from the Abomihoneys and gotten trapped on top of that machine.

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Image We'll keep you safe!
Image Vi? What are YOU doing here!?
Image Talk later. We're getting rid of these pests.

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Image 029 - Team, This One's Stronger! (Miniboss)

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For all that it's playing the miniboss music, this is just a basic fight against three Abomihoneys. Still, this could be scary if they decide to blow up on us.

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Let's start off by having Leif use Frigid Coffin to put one of them out of commission.

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Kabbu attacks the one in front.

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This is actually kind of a problem, I didn't quite think it through. Leif, with doubled exhaustion from Strong Start, can't get this front one out of the ground because he won't do any damage to it.

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I decided to try Hurricane Toss to get it out of the ground. It kind of worked: Hurricane Toss did force it to surface, but then it immediately went back under again. I wasn't expecting that; apparently not all attacks that can hit underground enemies are created equal (although this reaction may be unique to this enemy).

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So Kabbu attacks the second one instead (after Charmy provides a convenient boost).

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Not the best showing from me on blocking. I sometimes forget how fast the damage adds up if you don't block; this is a good reminder!

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Turn two.

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Kabbu finishes the first one.

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While Vi and Leif knock the second down to 1 HP.

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Here's evidence that Spiky Bod damage can't kill.

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Cleanup is easy from there.

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A nice chunk of EXP for us, Abomihoneys at least are still worth some.

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That takes care of that, at least.

Image 43 - Work That Honey

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Image We, um... are glad to see you're okay.
Image Vi, who is this?
Image This is Malbee, the maintenance chief.
Image That I am! Glad you still remember that.
Image Who are those two with you?
Image Vi's exploration team.
Image At your service!
Image So you did go and build up a team instead of doing your shift here, didn't ya?

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Image I didn't. The Vi from back then wouldn't have managed.
Image HEY!
Image Guess something changed, though...
Image It seems that I owe ya in the end. So thanks. Who knows what could've happened.

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Image Uh, I'm glad we could be of help.
Image By the way, Miss Malbee. We're looking for the Overseer. Would you be able to help us?
Image Oh, her? She's got to be trapped in the Storage.
Image With the security in place, the vents shut down... Honey's heating up, and those Abomihoneys are popping up.
Image She won't last long by herself.
Image What do we do? The storage is locked.
Image That's because the pump shut down. I was about to fix it when I got jumped...
Image Can you fix it now?
Image Yup. Hang on tight for a few minutes.

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She goes off to do something while the screen fades out.

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When we fade back in, the pistons are chugging away and the conveyors in the background start moving.

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Image Thank you! Now we've just got to walk back...
Image Oh, you're gonna like this, Kabbu.
Image With the machines working again, you can take the tram back.
Image Will it bring us back to the entrance?
Image Yeah. Saves a lot of time. And you get to see the factory from a whole new angle.
Image That is fantastic! We do get to tour around after all!
Image Thanks, Malbee. We're gonna go do our mission and stuff.
Image Hmph. Vi, if you don't think you're cut out for that exploration stuff, I'll actually rehire you here.
Image Could always use more folk pushing the boxes.
Image Never! Let's go, team!

With that, the scene ends and we're put back in control. There's a bit more dialogue we can see here before heading back. First off, let's talk to Malbee again:

Image Don't forget my offer, Vi. I can always use more help.
Image Right... See you later!

Vi's not particularly pleased with this offer.

There's also a banter:

Image So Malbee was your boss, Vi?
Image Yup... I hate having a boss. It sucks! Being an explorer is way better!
Image But isn't the Queen our boss now?
Image At least it doesn't really feel like it...
Image Indeed. Exploring sets the soul free!

Sometimes it's the small differences that matter. That said, I'm not sure Vi and Kabbu aren't talking past each other a bit here.

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Moving toward the machinery to get a closer look.

Image The pump is a fascinating piece of technology!
Image It makes the Golden Settlement look way behind the times.
Image I dunno. It just looks weird and ugly to me.
Image What's its appearance got to do with anything?

The area banter has them discussing the machinery. Honestly, Vi's perspective is pretty realistic: nobody ever seems to think much of tourist attractions that are right in their backyard, no matter how amazing they might be to people who aren't used to them.

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We may as well head back, there's nothing else to do here.

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It lets us off right here, at the beginning of this path. (Also in evidence here, me screwing up at pacing. For some reason I could've sworn there was at least one more room between the locked door and where Malbee was; this all really belonged at the end of last update. Oh well.)

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Back in the central room. Let's check around and see if anyone has something new to say before heading to the storeroom.

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Image Guess this lockdown isn't going that great for her...

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Gen and Eri have already made it back, they're hanging out here now.

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And this worker on the lower level has a new line for some reason. The others don't, though.

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Image Thank you! I will guard it with my life.

I take this opportunity to drop off the Shell Ointment we found with Amber.

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And we may as well take a rest to heal, since it's free.

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All right, back to work. The storage area is this way, and it's open now.

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Image 44 - Store That Honey

I recommend giving this area's music a listen, it's a much more somber and spooky twist on the theme from upstairs.

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Image What a grim atmosphere.
Image Must we always find an elevator in our travels?
Image This connects the fun part of the factory with the boring storage part! Down we go!

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Hit the switch with the Beemerang...

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And the elevator starts to go down.

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Let's go see what's here.

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That is a lot of boxes. (As well as a save crystal, if you need one. There are a lot of them in here.)

Image I have never seen so many boxes in my entire life!
Image We feel like all of Bugaria could fit in here... Vi, do the bees need this much honey?
Image You never know, right? Maybe someday we'll have to feed all of Bugaria!
Image Given what'd have to occur for that to happen, let's hope not.

Wooden boxes don't seem like a very effective storage mechanism for honey to me, but what do I know? I'm not a bee.

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There's another keycard scanner up here, but we don't have one, so we'll need to take another path first.

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Like this convenient gap between the boxes.

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The boxes in front block our vision of the team (though we can get a preview of some other areas!), until they come out here. Let's deal with the Denmuki first, before trying to solve the maze.

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These fights are starting to get more interesting, mixing up all the enemies we're familiar with now.

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That said, we know how these enemies work, taking care of them is just more of the same still.

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Heading through this gap, we can find the area in front we saw earlier. There's a lever in here.

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Hitting it causes the dangling box to rise up or come back down. Why could that matter? Let's leave it alone for now, though we'll definitely need to come back to this later.

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There's one other way we can go from this little hub area.

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It's a linear path (at least there's enough transparency now for us to see where we're going!). We can also see one of Venus' buds waiting for us in a room to the front, though we can't reach her from this side. Instead, we have a turret to fight.

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Turrets alongside Abomihoney are new.

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Turn one is pretty ordinary (I had Kabbu hit the turret twice for piercing, and the other two focus on the Abomihoney), but the Abomihoney choosing to go into bomb mode definitely throws a wrench in things. I don't want to take any chances here.

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Looks like a job for Kabbu's Dash Through!

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It's just enough damage to get the turret out of the way, and leaves Leif and Vi free to (just barely) finish off the Abomihoney before it can go kaboom.

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Turrets are apparently worth 0 EXP now, as well.

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It may be hard to see here, but there's a gap in the left wall we can go through.

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But it takes us to a dead end. There's a giant box in our way that we can't get past, and none of the ledges are low enough for us to jump onto. What to do?

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We need to go back and flip this switch.

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That switch toggles all of the cranes in the room, which includes the one that was holding the big box on this side. With it out of the way, we can climb up the ledges to the bouncy mushroom.

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And get on top of the maze of crates.

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We can jump down from there to the alcove where Venus is.

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Maybe she'll have some information for us?

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Thanks, Venus. How enlightening.

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May as well avail ourselves of her healing while we're here, too.

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That said, before we head down the path south of her, let's finish exploring this room.

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It can be pretty tricky to see, but there's a secret here.

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There's a gap we can fall down right here.

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And at the bottom, there's a medal for us.

Image Shock Trooper is yet another of the "turn a status effect to your benefit" medals, this time for Numb. It's 2 MP, and this one will just straight up make the character invulnerable. This sounds pretty good, but honestly I find it's hard to justify using over something like Bubble Shield.

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We can cross this bridge to the far side, but it doesn't look like there's any way to get up to that Crystal Berry we can see on the box...

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The crane is the key to this puzzle. What we have to do is go back to the switch, throw the Beemerang so that it'll hit it on the rebound, then hold it there and make our way back up to the upper level.

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Once we're across the bridge, we can finally release the Beemerang to toggle the positions. I always think I need to be on the bridge while doing it, but thankfully it's not quite that precise.

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I'm pretty sure you can make the jump to it from up here, if you aim it just right.

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But it's much easier to just walk around to this side and climb the stairs.

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Let's take this and get out of here.

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What's this room about, then? (Aside from yet another save crystal, despite there being one in the previous room too...)

Image I must say this storage room is somehow more grim than the last.
Image It's like the bees went and made their own Snakemouth.
Image Heheh. You'll cheer up when you see this Beemerang trick!

Vi hints that we're going to need her skills again in here.

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First things first, let's deal with the enemy.

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A straightforward battle.

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There's a switch here, but let's see what the sign says first.

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Image When the halt stops, it returns a bit behind its launch coordinates...
Image Hawk says it's a malfunction... IT'S A FEATURE!

I think we know who wrote this. Anyway, this is a tutorial for using the Beemerang to activate switches remotely, if we hadn't figured it out already in the previous room. (This should also be a familiar mechanic for anyone who's played Paper Mario: TTYD, it's nearly identical to how Koops' shell worked.)

Before we solve the puzzle, can we get that Magic Seed on the box in the corner?

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This jump is just barely possible, if we take it from the highest point.

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Easy enough. Can't have too many of these.

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Now to do the thing. Throw the Beemerang here...

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Get on the box...

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Then ride it over.

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Is this a dead end?

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Image There's gotta be something, somewhere!
Image Is it that weird for there to be an empty room?
Image ...Yes!
Image ...
Image Wait... What's this feeling...

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Image 13 - It's Getting Scary!

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Image Ready up, it's coming!

Image Click me for video!

Image 029 - Team, This One's Stronger! (Miniboss)

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And we thought the Abomihoneys were bad! This one's much bigger and angrier. Let's get some information.

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Image We've gotta get rid of it, but we can't ignore the Abomihoneys, either!

(This name doesn't quite roll off the tongue as well, does it?)

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Let's start off with a round of basic attacks.

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For its first attack, Ahoneynation spits balls of honey at us, which rebound off and become baby Abomihoneys. It can shoot either once or twice, so we had a bit of bad luck here.

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You may notice something a bit off with the baby ones - their defence reads as "???". They actually have -1 defence, and if you hit them with most attacks it will do additional damage.

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Dash Through is a convenient way to get rid of them. Though you will notice there's no extra damage here, it seems any attack which ignores or partially ignores defence also ignores the negative defence. You win some, you lose some.

If you don't kill them, they have a bite attack for 3 damage, or supposedly they can also rejoin the main Ahoneynation to heal it 3 HP (though I have never seen this myself, I tend not to let them live).

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Leif and Vi just attack.

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This time, it uses its turn to charge up, instead of attacking us.

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It gives itself +2 charge and enters this angry mode. In addition to the usual benefits of +2 charge-up, this also means it has a particular attack queued up for next turn.

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I don't want to be hit by it, but I'm going to need some more TP first.

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Kabbu goes to attack as usual, but Charmy steps in to give him a bit of extra punch.

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And this, of course, is why we needed the TP. Leif can use Bubble Shield to block the big attack.

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That looks like it would have hurt.

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Even though Kabbu took no damage, that still counted as being hit for purposes of Favorite One.

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We'll just attack again. Do note that Leif didn't get a turn, since he's still recovering from using the shield.

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Ahoneynation decided to charge again.

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Since I didn't have enough TP for another Bubble Shield, I decided to try Frigid Coffin instead. The odds were in my favour: Ahoneynation has 50% resistance, so after -30% it's an 80% chance to succeed. Nevertheless, a 20% failure chance is not zero.

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So we're going to play it a bit risky and just keep up the pressure.

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Ouch! That's some serious damage (keep in mind, this is Super Blocking: the attack does 5 damage at base, and then 2 more from the charge-ups, and it hits everyone).

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But while that's a lot of damage, we survived it, and it's low enough we can finish it off.

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Ahoneynation is actually quite a capricious miniboss, and can often be underwhelming. We saw most of its moves during that fight; between Bubble Shield or just freezing it, and the fact it wastes turns charging up, you can often take it out without seeing it do anything particularly interesting. I'm pleased to have been able to show a run where it was threatening.

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The attack we didn't see is this gigantic punch, which hits one bug for 6 base damage.

Also, here's a highlight from a run of this fight I decided not to show:

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Ahoneynation is very vulnerable to poison (only 20% resistance), so Vi's Poison Needles can do a lot of work here if you use it on the first turn. Both hits successfully poisoned it here, for a total duration of 4 turns.

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Although poison damage is capped at 2 per turn on enemies, it still adds up to quite a bit over the course of the fight! It's not a bad strategy, though this isn't a particularly tough fight regardless.

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The Ahoneynation explodes and... is that...?

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Image ...W-Woah! Are those...

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Image What happened?
Image We found this keycard, and then...

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Image A "thank you" would be enough.
Image N-Never! This NEVER happened! Argh!

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She storms off in a huff.

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Image Humility is hard to come by...

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Image Hmph. You're welcome.
Image You must have been terrified!
Image We were. We really thought that was it for us...
Image Try not to bring it up, okay? Even Mothiva can get very scared.
Image And why shouldn't we?
Image Take this.

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Image ...I trust this makes us even?
Image We were even from the start. Go, you wouldn't want to keep her waiting!
Image ...See you upstairs, Team Snakemouth.

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Image What matters is we've got the card. I'm sure we can save the overseer with this!
Image It'll be so hard not to rub this in her face... Guess we're better than that, though. Let's go.

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Well, isn't that interesting? It seems pretty unlikely they were behind the sabotage then, at least. (Zasp is really quick to code-switch as soon as she's out of earshot, isn't he.)

Image Mothiva sure can run when she's mad.
Image Heheheh.
Image Don't be like this. Can you imagine the fear of being eaten alive?
Image They're fine! Chill out!

We can see this new banter before leaving the room.

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Venus is right in our path on the way back, it only makes sense to heal up. We took some heavy damage in that fight.

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Another key, another door.

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Image The Overseer's GOT to be in here, I can feel it!
Image Can bees feel each other's presences?
Image That's not what I meant!

I like this one.

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There are a lot of Abomihoneys in this room.

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They're all by their lonesome, though, so they're not too threatening. That said, even with a first strike and Strong Start, we can't quite kill them in a single turn without spending TP.

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Still, they're simple to deal with.

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Abomihoneys also frequently drop... Abomihoneys. Of course they do.

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We could use that crank to lower the drawbridge, but there's no need to bother right now.

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We can just drop down here, though there's another Abomihoney waiting.

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It's just more of the same.

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That said, in this fight we finally see a new Charmy effect! This one gives everyone Defence Up just before it attacks. If this one triggers in a fight with multiple enemies, it can really have a big impact.

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We can just climb up these stairs, no need for the bridge. Although there aren't any stairs back up on the other side, so we will need the bridge to get back later.

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Yet another lone Abomihoney fight.

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And we've reached the far side. It looks like someone's up there on top of that box. Could it be the Overseer, finally?

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Image Oi! We're here to help!

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Image We've come to save you!
Image And have you open the core room.
Image Mhm. Team Snakemouth to the rescue!
Image Team Snakemouth... That was you in it, huh?
Image Guess your explorer gig did pay off! I feel kinda bad for not believing in you at all...

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Image S-Sorry! What I meant to say is, I'm impressed!

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Image I would never expect a Code 32 to happen just on the day we would replace the core...
Image The vents have shut off and the honey is becoming volatile! The abomihoneys are taking over!
Image We do need to reset the core, fast! But I can't get past all these monsters...
Image Worry not. We shall escort you to the exit.
Image Just stick with us. We'll make sure nothing harms you.
Image S-Sure hope so... Or I'll just come running back!

Image 24 - Oh no! WASPS!!

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Yes, it uses the wasp battle music here, even though there aren't any wasps around. It works pretty well as a general panic theme.

Anyway, the Overseer is following us now, and the gimmick is we have to get her out of this room without touching or getting too close to any Abomihoneys (which have conveniently spawned to fill the room even though we just killed off all the ones we saw).

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If you mess up and get caught, this happens and sends you back to the start. We don't get the chance to fight them here.

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The easiest (and presumably intended) way to do this is to rely on Leif's Bubble Shield. As long as we're in the bubble, we can just bump them away from us and move past.

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Though we can't stay in the bubble the entire time! We need to knock the enemies as far away as we can, then release it so Vi can turn the crank to lower the drawbridge. (Remember, there aren't any stairs on the far side!)

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The Beemerang needs to be held in place to keep the bridge down, but once you get onto this side, it's safe to release it.

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And get back into the bubble for the home stretch.

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Once you reach this point, you're safe. (Incidentally, it is totally possible to get through this section without using Bubble Shield. I didn't think of that solution on my first playthrough, and while it was incredibly frustrating and took several tries, I was able to get through by some combination of platforming on top of the boxes and using the Beemerang to stun Abomihoneys from a distance. I do not recommend this, but it can be done.)

Image 44 - Store That Honey

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(Oh dear.)

Image Yeah! I've just gotta restart the system, and everything should stabilize...
Image We've gotta review this protocol, seriously.
Image That's a relief.
Image Explorers can be pretty cool. Thank you!

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Image I'll go to the core room. You should be able to get out then.
Image When H.B.'s ready to switch the core, feel free to tag along!
Image With that... I'm out!

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Image Praise will get you anywhere, eh Vi?
Image Yup. Anywhere, anytime. Time to finish this job!

At least somebody appreciates her :) Aside from herself, I mean.

There's a new banter in this room before we go:

Image This place could use some endearing posters!
Image The storage's not really part of the tour.
Image And it shows. Let's get out of this place.

I'm only too happy to oblige.

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Though this seems like a pretty good place to stop for now. Next time... we've solved everything, right? What else could possibly go wrong?

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026: Drone Strike

Image 44 - Store That Honey

Last time, we rescued the Factory Overseer. She should be able to get us into the core area, so hopefully we're into the home stretch now.

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There's nothing else to do in the Storage area, so let's head back up the elevator.

Image 43 - Work That Honey

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Let's head back into the main area.

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This worker has new dialogue; she'd previously commented on Zasp and Mothiva having gone into the storage.

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So do Gen and Eri. Also, take note that the pile of materials is gone from the centre of this room, and that Doctor HB and Crow are nowhere to be seen. The room looks pretty empty now.

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Zasp and Mothiva are back too, still their usual selves.

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There's only one place left to go. Before that, though, a quick check:

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I took a quick opportunity to rearrange some medals. Among other things, I thought it was finally time to take Poison Attacker out for a spin, so we're going to let Vi play poison games. Otherwise, this is pretty similar to what we've been using throughout.

This is also a good time to take a free nap and heal to full, if needed. With that done, let's proceed.

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This antechamber feels pretty crowded now that we're not the only ones in it.

Image The Overseer's here... Let's exchange the core!

You get this banter both for the room and the Overseer herself.

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A bit of chatter from Crow and the Doctor. I find it a bit strange she and Kabbu have exactly the same line, but I guess that's not completely unreasonable given the content?

Image They built an ancient artifact replica in... like an hour? Incredible.
Image Bee scientists have truly earned their fame!
Image ...Yeah.

A slightly more interesting banter for the scientists. Anyway, let's talk to the Overseer.

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If we say no:

Image That's fine, you probably need some time to handle the majesty of it!

That said, no more dawdling:

Image Ok, here we go!

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The gates open and the camera zooms in to let us see inside. (I don't know who's speaking, I think maybe the Overseer?) The "core" of the factory seems to refer to two separate things: the giant machine that's chugging away, and the artifact which has been slotted into the centre of it. (Don't ask me how this works.)

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Image Heh. It was definitely designed with function over form.
Image This is such a big day! The core's never been replaced!
Image If this goes awry, the whole factory will explode...

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Image CROW! I told you that was a 0.004718% chance! Shut up!
Image S-Sorry, Doctor...
Image Phew... I don't want to be here if it's going to blow up!
Image Oof... Please do not scare us like that.

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She goes to approach the artifact, when an alarm sounds and red light starts flashing.

Image What is it now!?

Image 13 - It's Getting Scary!

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I don't think anyone was expecting that.

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Image Everyone, be on guard!

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Image Deactivation code 940906!

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Image Doctor! W-What do we do!?
Image Leave it to us. We'll knock this thing out.
Image Yeah! We ain't leaving without the artifact!

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Image Everyone... Alright! Take care of all the Bee-Boops! We'll take care of the big one!
Image You'd give ME such a simple task?
Image Shut it! They're coming! Just do your job!
Image Grr... Whatever, let's go!

Image Click me for video!

Image 45 - MECHA BEE DESTROYER BLASTLORD (Recommended listening!)

This is one of my favourite songs in the game (definitely in my top three or four), I can't get enough of it. And yes, the title is consistently in CAPSLOCK everywhere it appears, including the ingame list and the OST. Enjoy.

Have some fan remixes: Remix Guitar cover 8-bit Remix

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Looks like our chapter boss is going to be this giant robotic drone. Before anything else, let's spy, of course.

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Image Vi can knock it down, but we must be wary of its delayed missiles. Our formation will be crucial.

This isn't a bad hint, though of course we'd figure it out soon regardless. Also, take note that at 65 HP and 1 defence, Heavy Drone B-33 is representing more durability than the Devourer did. This boss is not messing around.

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I'm going to do something a little different here, and use the Swap Positions command to switch Kabbu with Leif. This way, he can benefit from Back Support (or, right now, cancel out the penalty from Favorite One) while still leaving Vi in front. Vi definitely belongs in front for this battle, the enemy is flying and she's going to be doing the lion's share of attacking. Leif's also going to relay to her this turn.

I always feel a bit dirty doing this, honestly. "Swap Positions" was added in v1.1 and, having played the game several times before then, I got used to this particular formation being impossible. That said, what is a tool for if not to be used?

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And once he's in back, Kabbu will taunt. Whatever he's saying, it even works on robots.

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Vi will just attack normally for now.

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It doesn't fall down, though. Like Venus' Guardian before it, being hit while in the air doesn't knock the drone down, only puts it off-balance. It'll take a second hit to bring it down.

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Though, of course, that's not a problem for Vi.

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At the beginning of its turn, the Heavy Drone always rises back into the air before attacking. Knocking it down only does so much good.

This laser attack is pretty nasty, hitting the entire party for 4 base damage. It's unlucky seeing this on a Taunt turn, though not that unexpected: this boss does have single-target attacks, but it has a lot of things like this too. Maybe we shouldn't bother with Taunting. (Truthfully, it's a bit of a gamble and it does sometimes work out well, but I'm going to stop using it for the rest of the fight.)

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After the laser, it launches a big missile into the air. This is the delayed missile Leif was talking about, and it will land in 3 turns. Launching the missile is a follow-up attack it can use after most of its other actions, though it has a cooldown so it doesn't use it every turn.

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Here we can see the delayed missile is targeting Leif's position.

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With the charge-up from Favorite One, I decided to have Vi use Hurricane Toss. Her multi-hit moves are generally a good choice in this fight, since they can get the drone down with a single action instead of two. (They also do pretty good damage!)

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Leif gets lucky and freezes with Frigid Coffin. The drone is strongly resistant to most statuses (outright immune to poison and sleep, and 70% resistance to freeze and numb). I usually don't expect to freeze it more than once, and it'll become outright immune after being frozen twice.

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Since it's been frozen, let's not break it out. We have this Succulent Platter and everyone's taken a bit of damage, so let's mitigate that.

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Because it's the last action of the turn, and the enemy doesn't get to act, it goes right from the item-use animation into the end of turn triggers.

(Also, there's something a bit interesting here. The platter didn't trigger Vi's Weak Stomach. If I'd thought to, I could have relayed to her and had her use it instead, and it would have. I'm not sure why it works this way, but some items - specifically, items which don't target a specific bug, and don't outright restore HP - will only trigger Weak Stomach if the bug wearing the medal is the one to use the item.)

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Here you can see the icons for HP regeneration. We'll get another turn of healing from the Succulent Platter.

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Our TP's getting a bit low, so Kabbu uses a Honey Drop.

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Giving Vi enough to use another Hurricane Toss.

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Charmy's nice enough to refund her a bit of TP afterward, though it seems like that's it for the spell.

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Leif attacks for a measly 1 damage.

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On its turn, the Heavy Drone summons a Bee-Boop.

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Which immediately attacks Kabbu, though it doesn't end up doing much.

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The Bee-Boops summoned are perfectly normal, unlike the weaker Abomihoneys we saw in the miniboss fight.

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Thanks to the refund, Vi can afford to Hurricane Toss again. The Bee-Boop attacking Kabbu helped us more than it, really, she appreciates the charge bonuses.

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Leif and Kabbu attack too.

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The Bee-Boop attacks before the big one, but it's still not doing very much.

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When reduced below 65% HP, the drone's next turn will start with this malfunction that causes its armour to crack. This changes its stats for the rest of the fight: it gets a permanent Attack Up, but also Defence Down.

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It then spends its turn charging up. It won't do this move before the armour breaks. Like the miniboss we just faced, in addition to gaining a charge-up status, this queues up a specific move for its next turn.

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Also, it's that time: the missile lands on Leif. It's 4 base damage, so it's not exactly pleasant to get hit by, but it's pretty manageable. Bubble Shield Lite can block it, but honestly, I'd usually rather just take the hit than spend the TP and a turn.

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Here you can see the three status icons on the boss after that last turn.

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I don't want to get hit by the big charged attack, but we're going to need some TP to use Leif's Bubble Shield, so Vi pulls out a Crisbee Donut.

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Because she's the one who used it, the doughnut triggers Weak Stomach and poisons Vi (activating Poison Attacker and Poison Defender). If anyone else had used it, that wouldn't have happened.

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Kabbu attacks the Bee-Boop for lack of anything else to do.

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And Leif shields everyone.

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Even though we have shields up, we can still block, and in this case still get Spiky Bod damage.

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The turn after charging up, the drone will do this ram attack. It hits the entire party. How grateful are we to have avoided this?

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If we hadn't shielded, it'd have looked like this instead. The base damage is 5, but it's effectively 7, since it always comes when the boss has Attack Up and +1 charge. At least this attack is always telegraphed, so you can avoid it with good TP management (honestly, I think the laser is scarier since you don't see it coming!).

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Here's where things stand now. It's not the easiest thing to see in this screenshot with the charge-up icons, but Leif's sprite is already greyed out as though he'd already moved: he doesn't get an action this turn as a consequence of using Bubble Shield. (This also means we wouldn't be able to change our formation this turn if we wanted to. It doesn't matter here, but that could be important in another fight!)

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Vi's got a lot of boosts now, so Hurricane Toss hits quite hard. (I think she's actually benefiting from the "ignore 1 defence" bug here too, thanks to the boss having given itself Defence Down.)

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She'll hit harder after the boosts than he would, so Kabbu relays to Vi and she attacks again.

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This Bee-Boop still isn't managing to be very threatening.

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This turn, we finally see the drone's last remaining attack. It fires a salvo of 2-3 missiles, each of which can target a different bug. These are normally base 3 damage, but it has Attack Up now, so they hit a bit harder. This is the only move it has that's affected by Taunt: if taunted, the missiles will all be aimed at Kabbu.

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Also, it's time for it to fire a new missile. There's a 3-turn cooldown on this ability, so it generally launches a new missile the turn after the previous one lands, but it looks like it doesn't get a chance to launch it in the charge-up or ram turns, so this one's coming a bit later than expected.

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Vi and Leif are looking a bit worse for wear after that barrage, but we can finish things this turn.

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Kabbu starts off using a second Crisbee Donut to restore our TP. God, these things are so good.

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Vi finishes off the boss with one final Hurricane Toss.

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And Leif can finish off the Bee-Boop with Frigid Coffin to end the fight. (It always ends up feeling a bit anticlimactic when the boss dies before the adds, but what can you do.)

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That wasn't so bad!

Heavy Drone B-33 is often a wake-up call; I know I struggled with this fight on my first playthrough (I do sometimes wonder if my fondness for the music has to do with getting destroyed by it multiple times). This is a fight that really rewards you for knowing how to use Turn Relay, thinking through your formation (especially if you have Back Support on), and remembering you have Bubble Shield. There's also the fact you could be facing it with a limited arsenal, if you didn't prepare well for this area and bring in outside items (I'd have needed another turn to finish the fight if I had been using Glazed Honey instead of Crisbee Donuts, for instance), or skipped collecting a lot of medals.

It feels a bit toothless to me now that I know what I'm doing, but I still respect this boss, and I hope that comes through despite this run perhaps making it look easy. It's a great fight and I really appreciate the things it makes you think about. (I deliberately didn't do it until the game forced me to, but it's worth remembering you can exploit the "ignore 1 defence" bug throughout this fight by having Leif cast Break.)

Also, of course, I'm tickled that the boss of the bee chapter is a literal combat drone, it just hardly merits a comment after we've been through this entire mechanised factory.

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Image Hmph. Good moves. At the very least, we've accomplished our goal.
Image We can agree for once.
Image Uh... Yup! Good job, everyone!
Image You did almost NOTHING!
Image S-So mean...
Image W-Well done, teams! We can replace the core now!
Image Still, what a shame... Such a beautiful machine reduced to scrap.
Image W-We'll fix it later, Doctor. Could you replace it? I really want to leave!
Image No kidding... Feels like we've been here forever!

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When she pops the artifact out, everything shuts down and the lights go out, only to immediately come back on when she slots the replacement in. Looks like it worked!

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Image There ya go. Bet ya can't tell the difference. I'm a genius!
Image Awesome, Doctor!
Image Mission complete! We can finally leave!

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Image Of course.

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She walks over...

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And hands it to Leif.

Image 16 - Lost Treasure

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Image Despite Vi's foul mood, the team took the Defiant Root's elevator, arriving at the Bee Kingdom. Leif had a scare, but the team learned more about what happened in Snakemouth Den. Vi was convinced to reconcile with her sister, and faced the Queen of all bees.
Image Although the factory tour went a bit awry, the explorers worked together to replace the core. Now, all pieces have been assembled. Is the Everlasting Sapling finally within reach?

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Image Fascinating. Your condition... I haven't forgotten. Think about my offer, okay?

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Image Hm. You're growing bolder, you brat.
Image N-Now, now. We can all go home, surely that is reason to celebrate!
Image You got it! We're going for some Succulent Berries!
Image See ya at the palace!

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Gen and Eri leave.

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Image Shall we go, Mothiva?
Image Yeah. Whatever. Tomorrow's a new day for glorious fame!

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Zasp and Mothiva leave.

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Image Sure thing, Doc.
Image Ah. You're dropping by? I better ask the Queen about the shutdown real quick, then...
Image Um. Thanks for everything, see ya!

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The scientists leave.

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Image You've got a real weird idea of fun.
Image We should go hand over this artifact. Let's go, everyone.

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Finally, there's the end-of-chapter save prompt.

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Also, the game reminds me to check my achievements.

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As usual, we get one for completing the chapter, and one for the boss on Hard Mode.

That's a wrap for Chapter 3! The summary really does highlight just how far we've come. It may not have seemed like it in the moment, but looking back, Chapter 3 definitely feels like an escalation compared to what came before. Expect more of that from here on out.

Next time, we'll get a look at what Chapter 4 has in store. See you then!

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27: New Complications (Part 1)

Image 01 - Bug Fables

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Time to start a new chapter! And a new chapter means a new title screen. Doctor HB and Crow have joined us on the left side of the plaza now.

Image 43 - Work That Honey

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We left off here, having just defeated Heavy Drone B-33 in the core room. First things first, there are some new banters and dialogue to be had around the factory area now that the crisis is past. Starting with this room:

Image This is the core room.
Image We know, Kabbu.
Image Back in the day, we heard the factory was powered with caterpillars running to spin wheels...
Image Is that even possible?
Image Yep. But then the core got built a few moons after the roaches disappeared.
Image Bless science. Think of how tired those caterpillars must have been!

I also have to wonder what species of caterpillars they were using, and whether they're from a sapient bug race or not...

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Image ...It's nothing special, really. Bummer...

This guard has new dialogue. She was excited to see the core earlier, looks like she was a bit disappointed by it.

Image Back to work, I see.
Image Yeah, work never stops.
Image We can see why you'd want to quit, Vi.

This new banter is common for all the guards and factory personnel. There's also a new general one for the room:

Image Phew. Glad the lockdown's over.
Image Now we can learn the honey making process at our leisure.
Image Eh. It's better if we get going.

Of course Leif is still obsessed with food.

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Tuvi has this to say.

Image Tuvi's in high spirits!
Image We're surprised. She looks as though nothing's happened.
Image I'm surprised she didn't quit...

Understandable.

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Image Do you know how long it'll take to clean that up!?

Oops. Looks like our fight with the Ahoneynation left a bit of a mess. Let's not tell her.

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The door guard is pretty shaken.

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Image Just a few minutes longer, and I woulda missed it. I'm super in your debt!

And a follow-up to this little detail. You know, this one's a bit interesting to speculate about: does this mean the bees have something like television? The only "shows" we know exist otherwise are plays (like the one we participated in and the travelling Bug Ranger shows, but that theatre's in the Ant Kingdom), and Mothiva's concerts (and Mothiva was stuck in here with us, so we know it's not that!).

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The Overseer's back in her office now. There's a new banter in here too:

Image We found the Overseer, so... can we leave?
Image Don't like the office much?
Image Yeah. Seriously bums me out...

We can also, of course, talk to her.

Image

I'm not sure this is quite the right lesson to have learned here?

Image That's the overseer!
Image Yeah, we saved her, remember?

I do kind of enjoy how the game's poking fun at me for checking all these banters when I already know who the character is.

Image

There are a few new banters in the shop too.

Image Bleh, the store prices are so high!
Image If we want honey, we could grab some ourselves.
Image That's theft! Cease and desist!

That one's for the shopkeeper. There's also a new one for Amber:

Image I'm glad Lady Amber is here to help.
Image Do you think the Bee Kingdom pays her to be here?
Image I wonder if we could get paid to make Kabbu carry bags...

Heh.

Image

Image What? Magic Seeds? No idea what you're talking about, Vi. H-Hahaha!

This worker won't sell us Magic Seeds any more now that we've finished the chapter.

Image

Image

Image Fat chance.

Likewise, we can no longer sleep for free in the dormitory.

Image

That's all for new content in the factory, so let's get going.

Image

As we cross the bridge, our team stops to have a conversation.

Image Mhm...
Image Something on your mind?
Image Kinda. Malbee and the Overseer never really approved of me... But they changed their mind!
Image So, I dunno. Maybe I CAN fix stuff with my sister!
Image Vi, you've mentioned her before, but what kind of bee is she?
Image Her name's Jaune. She's a painter in the Hive! We got into a really bad fight...

Image

Image ...Thanks. I'll think about it. I'll drop by when I feel it's right!

Image

This conversation automatically adds a sidequest to our log.

Image

Image

We had Leif's personal quest earlier (which we still can't make progress on); now we have Vi's. As you might have expected, Vi's personal quest is to effect a reconciliation with her sister.

Image 40 - High Above, Bee Kingdom

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Inside the Hive, this path by all the art supplies is open now (there was a sign blocking the way before).

Image 22 - Fine Arts

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That's got to be Jaune.

Image C-Can we go?
Image Something wrong?
Image I just... don't wanna be here... Sigh.

Vi's pretty reluctant still. Despite that, though, we're not leaving.

Image

Let's try talking to her.

Image

Image ...Jaune.
Image Miss, we-

Image

Image What do you want? I'm busy. The Queen's commissioned me for a birthday piece.

Image

Image T-That's uh, really cool. My team and I had this cool mission at the factory.
Image The factory? You're the one who solved the lockdown? N-Not that I'm impressed.
Image So you managed to squeeze your way into an exploration team. Color me shocked.
Image Didn't expect it from such a petite child.

Image

Image Yes! If only I was crass enough to treat you with half the disrespect you've shown me your whole life!

Image

Image I do not want your empty apologies! You seem to be doing quite well anyways, ain't you?
Image Just go. Play with your team or whatever. I've got my issues to solve.
Image S-Seriously? You're kicking me out!? I'm saying sorry!
Image I've got to finish this piece, but I can't find any red paint.
Image That's all I can afford to worry about now. I certainly can't waste my time...
Image With a mean, greedy, selfish child like you!

Image

Image You've said enough about my art for a lifetime, Vi. Just leave me alone!
Image T-This isn't going well...
Image WE'RE LEAVING.
Image Vi...
Image NOW!

Yeah, that could definitely have gone better.

Image 40 - High Above, Bee Kingdom

Image

Image Just what did you do to her?
Image I told her she drew like a weevil.
Image Vi! What in blazes! You can't just go around saying that sort of thing!
Image We're assuming this is a new type of insult...
Image Well, she called me stuff too! Weak, short, coward...
Image I couldn't talk about exploring without her talking down to me!
Image Exploring is extremely dangerous. Many lose someone dear to a bad trip...
Image Couldn't she simply have been worried?
Image Whatever.

Image

Image Y-Yeah?

Image

Image That's pretty hard to get. It's out of season or something.
Image Let's get it for her.
Image That is a fantastic idea!
Image Y-You're right! She'd be too happy to get mad!
Image Maybe then we can have an actual conversation. Hmph.
Image Where could we start searching? I know little of paint.
Image I dunno either, but uh... it's made in the Golden Settlement, right?
Image We could just take the tunnel and check it out when we're free.
Image Then let's keep that in mind. Jaune seems to need it quite badly.
Image Alright. Let's get a move on!

Image

There we go. We've gotten a lot of new information about this sibling conflict: it definitely seems a lot more petty than we might have assumed, but Vi certainly isn't the only party at fault here either. At least we have some kind of a lead to go on with the paint...

Image

Image All bees are sisters, aren't they?
Image Well, yes. But even in a huge colony, some get more attached to each other.
Image We guess so. No point in thinking about it too much.

If we check for a banter about Jaune, we can get some more insight into what sisterhood means among the bees. They seem to mean something closer to found family by it, since they're all related genetically. Though I have to wonder if Jaune and Vi are very close in age, or something, they seem to have so little in common I'm not sure how they became so close unless they grew up together.

Image Shoo! I'm busy! Go play with your team or something!

If we talk to Jaune again, she just tries to get rid of us.

Image

This was just barely visible earlier, let's grab this before we leave. (Jaune seems to have questionable taste in literature, perhaps? She doesn't have anything to say about this book either way though.) Looks like we'll be paying a visit to Reeves later :allears:

Image Let's go. No point coming back until we've got the paint...

And Vi will say this if we check the room banter now. Let's go, for better or worse there's nothing more we can do here.

Image

Let's check in with Queen Bianca.

Image 42 - Bianca, Queen of All Bees

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Seems like there's something going on here, at least!

Image

Image I-I don't know, my Queen...
Image Reports say that something went wrong at the Power Plant, which caused the Code 32 lockdown!
Image And you found nothing in the Power Plant? Are you certain you looked through EVERYTHING?
Image Y-yes, Your Majesty.
Image To think our honored guests were endangered! This must not happen again. Please do see to that.
Image We will continue our investigation with double the troops!
Image You should have given it your all from the start!
Image S-sorry, my Queen...

Honestly, I think she's being a bit harsh with this soldier. That said, this is pretty intriguing, we might have to investigate this ourselves. (Seeing this conversation causes a quest to appear on the bulletin board. This is a really easy quest to miss: if you don't think to come in here, nothing else will tell you about it.)

Image Ah, Vi. I humbly commend you for your service at the Factory.
Image It was no problem!
Image I hope that this incident doesn't make you dread coming home again...
Image N-no. Seriously, it's super fine!
Image Oh hoho! I'm glad, Vi. ...I hope you can reconcile with everyone soon.
Image Y-yeah. I'm, uh, working on it. Gotta go!

We can see a new conversation if we talk to the Queen again. This one's pretty cute; I like the way she seems to be trying to strike a balance between monarch and mother.

Image What could have happened at the Power Plant...?

And the soldier just says this.

That's all for the throne room, at least for right now. There's a bit more to see in the Hive.

Image 40 - High Above, Bee Kingdom

Image

If you recall, Doctor HB said she had something to talk to us about. Let's go see her.

Image

Image Thanks for the help in the factory.
Image It was nothing, Doc.
Image Anyway. I wanted to show you something...
Image You see this big machine behind me?

Image

Image Is that possible?
Image Yes! As long as we can get a crystal which recorded your fights.
Image You know ancient crystals have the ability to record their surroundings, right?
Image The roaches used them all the time to store data.
Image My machine can read said data to recreate certain moments of the past.
Image All that is needed is to find a crystal that recorded what you have seen on your journeys.
Image Where would we find said crystal?
Image Well, you're explorers, right?
Image You probably already have something that has crystals in it.
Image Fufu... I will be waiting for you to figure it out!
Image Can't you just tell us...?

This seems interesting! It sounds like this is where we'll be able to refight bosses, but we have a kind of puzzle to solve first.

Image

She expects us to give her a key item. If we pick the wrong thing...

Image That won't do. Don't you have anything with crystals in it?

Sadly, she doesn't react to the Bug Ranger Plushie; I did try. Anyway, what she's looking for is our Explorer Permit.

Image Bingo! Authentic permits given to exploration teams have crystals in them!
Image It must be overflowing with combat data!
Image I don't get how that works...
Image You don't need to understand. Fufufu... Just check the computer behind me to start the B.O.S.S. program!
Image Technology has advanced at an incredible pace...
Image Indeed. I've registered you all under the B.O.S.S. terminal already.
Image If you have any questions about it, just come and ask me! I'm so eager to see it in action!

Let's talk to her some more and get all the details on this thing before we try it.

Image

Image Yes, what B.O.S.S. stands for is...

Image

Image With it, you can simulate old battles you have recorded in the crystals on your permit.
Image I still don't know how the crystal works, but just being able to read this data is fascinating!
Image In return for letting me test and study the crystals, you are free to use the B.O.S.S. any time you want.
Image And should you do well in Rush Mode, I'll give you prizes! It's a great deal!
Image Just check the computer over there to start it.

Yep, this doesn't just let us refight single bosses, it's also a boss rush mode!

Image

Image B.O.S.S. will read the crystals on your explorer permit and load data from strong foes you have faced in the past.
Image With that, you can refight old battles at any time you want!
Image The HoloMachine is not perfect, though. It flickers a bit way too much for my liking... But it works well enough.
Image You will keep items you had at the start of the run, so you won't lose any after the session.
Image But used items stay used in Rush Mode until you either finish it or quit, so watch out for that!

This is really nice, actually. There are no penalties for trying this, it'll give back any items we spend in these fights, so it's a great place to experiment with strategies or use things that are otherwise scarce without needing to feel bad about it. You can have a lot of fun here.

Image

Image Yes! You will get some EXP from battles, but since these are simulations, the amount you get is very reduced.
Image But if you do well in Rush Mode, I can give you some Medals and goodies I have stored. Tempting, right?
Image Losing battles won't penalize you, so there is no risk involved as well.
Image It's a safe way to see how much you've grown!

This too. You don't get a Game Over for losing here, and you can also just run away to quit at any time if you decide you've had enough.

There are two medals we can win in here (the two medals we saw sitting on the table in her lab earlier), and we can actually get both of them now, so let's try this out.

Image

Image Welcome, Vi, Kabbu and Leif! This is the B.O.S.S. terminal!

Image

Image Logging off. Entering idle mode...

We can select either Single Battles or Rush Mode, and face any Mini-Boss or Boss we've fought before. I really love that this is here; one of the things the Paper Mario games were really missing, I thought, was the ability to revisit boss fights (honestly, that's probably one of the reasons I ended up doing so many playthroughs of those, the bosses are one of the best parts of these games and you always want to try new strategies).

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Interacting with the terminal in any way gets us a discovery!

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Image

There isn't really any new information there, but a discovery is a discovery. This also brings us to 25, which means we can get the next reward from Libren next time we're in the Ant Palace.

Image

Let's try out Rush Mode.

Image

Image

Image Very well! Please proceed to the Arena to battle!
Image Let's go, everyone!

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The gates slide open to reveal an arena and the holoprojector.

Image

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

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Image

Battle transitions in here use grey honeycombs, but the animation's the same.

First up is a hologram of Aria. This one's a bit interesting, because it's actually a slightly different fight than when we fought her in the festival: she starts out on the ground instead of on her vine, and we have our full team of three. Not to belabour the point too much, but she's even easier now.

Image

I'm not going to show the refights, there's not really anything new to see here. We do get a bit of EXP for each one we beat. (Honestly, if you ask me, I'd have preferred if they didn't give any EXP here, so that you wouldn't get overlevelled by fighting in here. At least it's reduced, I suppose.)

Image

After each fight, the Doctor will give us some options before the next one starts. In Rush Mode, you get three full heals you can choose to use between battles; right now, there aren't going to be enough fights for rationing these to be a big decision, but when we come back later that can be more interesting. I didn't need one after Aria, so let's just keep going.

Image Alright then, here it comes!

Image

Next up is Ahoneynation. The order things show up in the rush is at least somewhat chronological, but a few do appear out of order for whatever reason.

Image

Image

I'll take the healing after this one.

Image Very well, a bit of healing coming up!

Image

As you might expect, it's a full restoration of both HP and TP.

Image

Monsieur Scarlet is up next. This is definitely the toughest fight of this group, and the one most likely to still need a fair bit of thought put in.

Image

That said, we beat him once and we can definitely do it again.

Image

Image Impressive! You've exceeded my expectations. Have a little something, it's on me.

Image

After beating the third Mini-Boss in Rush Mode, we can get this. Spy Specs is a neat little medal: for 1 MP, it makes spying not cost a turn (handy if you want to see all the characters' dialogue in battle rather than in the bestiary), and also makes enemies' HP visible even without spying. There's also a hidden effect: spying automatically succeeds and doesn't require an action command when this is equipped. It's a nice convenience thing, though if I'm honest I don't usually bother with it.

Image

Let's keep going.

Image 66 - Mothiva's Grand Stand!

Image

The last battle remaining, of course, is Team Mothiva. Interestingly, instead of the normal miniboss music, one of their themes plays during the battle. It's the theme for their second fight, though we've already heard it since it played when they threatened us in the Golden Hills, before the battle.

Image

They're still the same as they were last time we fought them, though.

Image

Image Here is something for your trouble!

Image

Not too bad! You can earn berries pretty easily here.

Image If you want to try again, just start up the B.O.S.S. once more! Can't wait to see how you will perform next time!

Image

After the rush has ended, we regain control in front of the computer terminal.

Image

Let's head right back in.

Image

Image Very well! Please proceed to the Arena to battle!
Image Let's go, everyone!

Image

Image

Image

This works exactly the same as with the minibosses. It's really something to see how quickly these fights go now; it may not necessarily seem like it, but we're a lot stronger than we were at the start of the game.

Image

Image

A consequence of gaining EXP in here is that we can rank up in the middle of it (we were already pretty close).

Image

Image

Leif gets a new skill on reaching Rank 13! Cleanse is a bit situational, but it's pretty interesting. For 2 TP, this can remove all temporary buffs and status changes from an enemy. Do note, though, that "temporary" matters: this will not remove any permanent buffs (anything displayed with the infinity symbol). Still, this can come in handy. If nothing else, you can use it to remove charge-ups: it won't stop the enemy from using its special move if it's prepared one, but this is a way to weaken it and save TP relative to Bubble Shield.

Image

Guess we don't need to heal since the level-up took care of that.

Image

Venus' Guardian is up next. Interestingly, the hologram of Venus comes along with it too. It fights exactly the same as it did before.

Image

Image

I'll take the healing this time.

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And now we're facing Heavy Drone B-33. You can well imagine how this fight went, we literally just did it.

Image

Image

Image Impressive! You've exceeded my expectations. Have a little something, it's on me.

Image

This thing is really nice to have, and (IMO) the main reason to do this now. It costs 0 MP to equip, and gives both auditory and visual signals when you enter an area where a collectible is hidden (it reacts to Crystal Berries, Medals, Lore Books, and Discoveries). I'm not sure if I'll keep it equipped for the LP since I already know where everything is, but if you're playing blind, this thing is incredibly helpful (though it can be annoying sometimes, when it reacts to a thing you don't yet have the necessary abilities to find).

Image

Next up would be the Devourer, but I don't feel like dealing with that.

Image I understand. Well, if you want to retry, just check out the B.O.S.S. at any time.

Because I quit early, I don't get any berries. (I also wouldn't have gotten berries if I'd continued and lost, in rush mode you only get paid if you finish all of the available fights.)

If you lose (or run away), you get this dialogue from HB instead:

Image Well, you can't always win, can you?
Image Maybe rearrange your Medals or train a bit more and try again later?

Image

That's enough of that for now. I've gotten what I came for.

Image

Let's put the Detector on, since it's free.

We have now obtained all the tangible rewards from B.O.S.S. There are actually a few different ways to get these medals, though this is the only way to do it now: if you wait until later, you can get both medals in a single rush, it'll give you the second after the sixth win (e.g. if we'd had enough Mini-Bosses to fight, we'd get the Detector after the 6th fight).

(If you missed the Hard Mode achievement for any chapter boss, you can make that up by putting on the medal and fighting it again here. You'll still have to buy Artis' medal from the caravan, but at least this means the achievements aren't missable. Though I have read that while this works for the ingame achievements, the PS4 and Xbox versions may not correctly award system-wide achievements here; I haven't tested that, but it seemed irresponsible not to mention.)

Winning nine fights in a row in either Mini-Boss or Boss Rush unlocks "EX Mode", which allows you to fight stronger versions of them (either in single battles or in rush mode). Finishing the entire boss rush (either in regular or EX mode) once all the fights are available has a small cosmetic reward. Other than that, you just get berries.

I want to stress that there aren't any achievements tied to this, and you can get the achievement for 100% completion without engaging with B.O.S.S. any further than we have just now. In every sense, this is completely optional and its main purpose is to challenge yourself and have fun. That said, it's fun and finishing the boss rush feels like a real accomplishment, I'm definitely not going to say it isn't worth doing.

We'll be back in the postgame. The boss rush will be one of the last things I'll do in this LP.

Image 40 - High Above, Bee Kingdom

Image

Let's head to the residential area now.

Image

Interesting. The smug bee Vi doesn't like seems to need something.

Image It's her.
Image Come on, Vi. Let's see what she has to say.

Let's see what this is about, I guess.

Image

Image

Image ...What's up? Can I help you?
Image Dunno. Can you?
Image Tell us your issue. We'll see.
Image I thought buying a house in the Ant City would be great, but I didn't enjoy it at all.
Image I just get too homesick for the amazing Bee Kingdom... I dunno what to do with it now.
Image Homesick, huh. I understand how you feel.
Image Uh, that sucks. C-Can we help?
Image Are you interested in the house? It's right in the main plaza...
Image You mean the red house near the inn? We could use a place...

Image

Image Goodness. The housing market's gotten rough.
Image Won't blame ya if you don't want it. It's nothing compared to here.
Image We... will... think... about it.

Image

Image (Let's just go...)

This is interesting. Leif made a few comments about not having a place to live when we first explored Ant City, clearly he has some anxieties around the issue. We can afford to buy this, after the berry reward from earlier.

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Image 150's the lowest I'm going to go. I've already lost money on it.

That's what she says if we refuse. I suppose we may as well, though.

Image

Image Hey... Thanks a ton. Here's the key.

Image

Image You really helped me out... I can fund my next project with this...
Image It was nice helping you.
Image If it gets off the ground, you three can come in for free... For real.
Image Really?
Image Yeah... I never forget a favor. Take care, okay?
Image Mhm. It's good not to be homeless anymore.
Image Yeah! See you around!

We'll find out later whether this was actually worth buying, but regardless, it's a pretty cute scene. There's also a bit more dialogue now:

Image Mmm... Maybe I should try buying a house in Defiant Root.

Beeette says this if we talk to her again.

Image ...She gave us a really good deal, huh.
Image And I've only said bad stuff about her...
Image ...Well, at least she didn't hear you.
Image And you helped her in the end! You've made up for it!
Image ...Yeah. I'll watch the stuff I say a bit more now...

And there's a new banter. Look at that, she's learning! (Although honestly, I can see why she wouldn't get along with this particular bee.)

Image

After buying the Flower Key, we're finally done with the new things to see in the Hive, so let's head out. We need to return to the Ant Kingdom and report back to the Queen, after all.

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When we get off the elevator, the Detector immediately kicks in. In addition to this little icon that appears over the head of the character you're controlling and flashes for a few seconds, it also makes a distinctive sound. Unfortunately for us, I happen to know the item hidden in this screen is currently inaccessible to us, meaning the medal will pester us each time we come here but we can't do anything about it. Anyway, that's how it works.

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Kenny is also here now, so let's talk to him before we leave.

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Image Yes. I must say, Defiant Root's got its charm as well.
Image Really? The sand doesn't do much for us.
Image Although it's not the most prosperous, people trade and work together to endure thirst and bandits.
Image It's a historic site with a tightly knit community.
Image Could this be the place you'll call home?
Image ...Not yet. But I hope we'll bump into each other once more.
Image Safe travels.

Looks like he's going to keep wandering.

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Let's take a shortcut through the mines. (The character limit necessitates splitting this update; this seems as good a place as any. Back momentarily.)
Last edited by Explopyro on Tue Jul 06, 2021 3:50 am, edited 2 times in total.

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27: New Complications (Part 2)

Image 18 - In the Court of the Ant Queen

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Feels like it's been ages since we've been in the Ant Palace, doesn't it?

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Let's just head straight to the throne room.

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Mothiva and Zasp, as well as Professor Neolith, are already waiting.

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Image We've brought the artifact, Elizant.
Image And by WE he means all of us, isn't that right?
Image Nah-

Image

Image Heheh. It's nice to see you all working as a team!
Image Today marks a historic day. We have finally found all the artifacts! If only words could show my gratitude.

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Vi doesn't hesitate to hand over the artifact this time.

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We're still getting paid, too! This will come in handy.

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Image M-May I?
Image Inspect it, Professor. Mark the end of this long search!

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Image

Image ...Speak. Now.
Image This... isn't the whole artifact!

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Image Explain yourself! NOW! Was this not in your notes!?
Image L-Look, this artifact has a small mechanism at the bottom... it's missing a half!
Image A half? Curses! Where would we even start to look?
Image We were so close! Time is running out...
Image What do you mean?
Image The Wasp Kingdom grows bolder each day. We hoped we could gather them all before they made their move.
Image T-Their move? Are they going to invade or something?
Image Calm yourselves down. We just need to find the other half quickly.

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Who said that?

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Image My esteemed scout team. You have something to share?
Image If we overheard right, a half is missing. Yes?
Image We're super sure it's within the Lost Sands! There's this peculiar area we have staked out for days.
Image The sands hide more secrets still? Incredible!
Image In the most plain of corners, a Sand Castle hides.

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(The complaint here is coming from Zasp, it's easier to tell ingame because his sprite does talking animations.)

Image We suspect the missing artifact is there.
Image It used to be an area previously inhabited by the roaches, according to my notes.
Image A Sand Castle, you say? Where would its keys be?
Image The mayor of Defiant Root holds this secret. But he asked that we told everyone here first.
Image This is great news! We have a lead again.
Image Zaryant! Reward them. They have prevented this day from being an utmost disaster.
Image Oh, it was nothing, my Queen. We live to find secrets!

Image

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Image Team Mothiva, Team Snakemouth...
Image Leave it to me, my Queen. That key will be yours before you realize we've gone.
Image You bet! And we'll be the ones to bring it!

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Image Some healthy competition won't be the worst.
Image Suit yourselves. We'll finish this search.
Image Best of luck, everyone!
Image Your orders are clear. Speak to the mayor of Defiant Root, and begin your search!

Image 46 - Chapter 4: Mysterious Lost Sands

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There's the official beginning of Chapter 4.

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Image Being a star and an explorer is so taxing!
Image Aw. Boohoo.
Image Go, Mothiva. I will manage until your return.
Image Heheh. This is why you're my partner! See ya, Snakemouth losers!

Image

Image

Image Let's make sure to finish any of our business before departing.
Image Stocking up on some items would be wise, as well.
Image There's some spikes in the desert, right? If we could cross 'em, we could search a bunch more places!
Image Spikes aren't much compared to electric shocks. Our Bubble Shield should be able to get us across.
Image Excellent! Let's prepare and see what new paths we can explore!

That's actually a very solid hint about where progress is. Leif's Bubble Shield can be used to cross brambles, as well as electrified floors, and we've definitely seen brambles in a few places before.

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We're finally given back control, though Neolith wants to talk more.

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Image Yes, Neo? May I be of service?
Image I found this during my research, but the Queen has been too involved in the artifacts to take notice.

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Image What's this? I can't discern its purpose.
Image I can't say for sure, but I think it's the key for somewhere. I'm quite tied up researching but...
Image The last lead I got was in the outskirts, east of the association.
Image We'll look into it, Neo. You have my word.

That's mysterious. That said, we've seen the place where this is supposed to go. We'll check it out soon enough.

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Zaryant has a new line if we talk to her.

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As, awkwardly, does this soldier near the entrance. Normally I'd fix a typo like this rather than show the screenshot, but I can't when it's her only line...

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Let's stop in at the library.

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Image This time you have 25 Discoveries, last time you had found 21...
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!

This is a really excellent medal, and probably the best reason to be diligent about finding Discoveries (this is the earliest opportunity to get it). Victory Buzz costs 3 MP, and restores 4 TP each time we win a battle. This is, needless to say, extremely convenient and makes dealing with overworld encounters significantly less tedious. I won't say this puts an end to resource management woes completely, but it certainly lessens them substantially!

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That's going straight on. (It's probably worth remembering to swap this out for something else when you know a boss fight is coming, but otherwise this is a great medal to just slap on and forget about. It's almost always worth it.)

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Now that we have that, we mustn't forget Reeves!

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Image Ah! This is one of the worst ones! Let's see...
Image Tch. "Our Twisted Summer".
Image Why was so much time spent setting up all those characters!?

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Image Uh... So it's like good bad?
Image It's atrocious and disgusting. Perfect for my bookshelf. Here's your reward.

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Image One more should sate my urges... Let me know if you find more.

Reeves is the best.

Image 17 - Ant Kingdom

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When we leave the palace, Utter draws our attention to the fact there are new sidequests available.

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We'll accept them all, of course. "Power Plant Investigation" is the one we unlocked by seeing that scene with Queen Bianca. We're going to have our work cut out for us, between these and the tasks that have already been piling up.

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Let's not forget about Artis, too. He should have some Hard Mode rewards for us.

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Image Hmmm! Good job, folks! You defeated that hardened Heavy Drone B-33!
Image Was it too challenging for ya? You deserve a reward. Here, take this!

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Image Oh ho! You've been on a roll! Beat Ahoneynation too, eh? Here, take this as well!

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Image Come back later when you've bonked some extra hard heads with that medal, will ya?

These are some interesting medals!

Image Empower is like Image Break, it gives Leif access to another kind of status move. It's 2 MP to equip. Empower costs 3 TP, will give one ally Attack Up for two turns. It's pretty nice.

Image Deep Taunt is an interesting one. It's only 1 MP to equip, but its effect is double-edged. While equipped, this makes taunted enemies both deal and receive 1 extra point of damage. There are definitely ways to make good use of this (especially if you're stacking attack boosts and using multi-hit attacks), but equally so, it can be counterproductive for actually tanking, so it's something to be careful with.

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What say we check out our new house?

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It's a little barebones right now, wouldn't you say?

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That said, there's one immediate advantage: we can rest here for free whenever we want. There's no longer any reason to be paying for inns.

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We can also use the mushroom to launch ourselves up to the roof.

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At the very top, there's something for us to find.

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Image Charge Up is another medal that gives Leif a status spell, and costs 2 MP. This one lets Leif spend 3 TP to give any ally +1 charge-up. Truthfully, I don't like this one much, there are enough other ways to get charge-ups that spending 3 TP just seems excessive, but there are definitely ways to use this effectively. Still, a medal is a medal.

That's what 150 berries for the house bought us: the ability to rest for free, and this medal. That's not all the house does, there are a few other things we'll see later, but that's the majority of it; if you're playing along, I leave it to you to decide whether it's worth it.

Before wrapping up this update, there are a few more errands to run.

Image 34 - Dodgy Business

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It's a new chapter, so Shades has new medals in stock! He is now offering the following:

Image Luckier Day (2 Crystal Berries)
Image Power Exchange (5 Crystal Berries)
Image HP Plus (2 Crystal Berries)

in addition to the ones we didn't buy last time:

Image Super Block+ (4 Crystal Berries)
Image Poison Defender (4 Crystal Berries)
Image EXP Booster (2 Crystal Berries)

Let's talk about what the new ones do.

Image Power Exchange, for 5 MP, gives the equipped bug +1 attack and -1 defence. (It's like P-Up D-Down from Paper Mario, though significantly less undercosted.) It's still well worth it, it's an attack boost that doesn't require you to jump through hoops to access; if you're going for a glass cannon approach, this is the medal for you.

Image Luckier Day is... certainly something. Here's the description: "This legendary medal by Kiefer is sure to make you feel lucky while fighting!" It's 0 MP to equip and... it changes the displayed message for all action commands to "UNBEELIEVABLE!" regardless of the attack. That's it, that's all it does. It's obviously meant to be a reference to the Lucky Day badge in Paper Mario, but that actually did something.

And, of course, there's an Image HP Plus. It's actually here now, unlike last time.

We have 9 Crystal Berries right now. I'm inclined to grab Power Exchange and either Poison Defender or Super Block+, but I'm open to input, feel free to vote for what I should buy.

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Merab has new medals in stock too!

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I have enough berries to buy all of these, so I'm just going to go ahead and do that. I don't necessarily plan to use them right away, but there are some good things here.

Image Heal Plus is 2 MP and increases the HP restored by 1 when the equipped bug uses a healing item. This does, however, include healing skills like Vi's Secret Stash, so it's particularly well-suited to her if you want to build her as a healer. That's certainly something you can do, if you want to play things like a traditional RPG.

Image Meditation is 2 MP, and makes Do Nothing restore 1 TP the first time you use it in a turn. This isn't that great by itself, but you can stack it with other medals that have effects when you do nothing (like Prayer), enough effects like this and you can really get something going.

And then, of course, Image Freeze Resistance is yet another medal in the resistance series.

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Stopping by the bank to drop off the few berries I had left. We're nearly broke again, despite all that income.

This seems like a good place to wrap things up for today. Next time, we'll get started on the massive pile of side content we've been presented with; the game really starts opening up here. I've described the distribution of content in this game as being somewhat bell curve shaped, and as we get into Chapter 4 (and Chapter 5) you'll definitely start to see it.

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I like the bee queen-dom. I like bees in general, and I like the thought they put into the sisters, mother/queen aspects.

Your choice on the medals.

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Kacie wrote:
Mon Jul 05, 2021 8:56 pm
I like the bee queen-dom. I like bees in general, and I like the thought they put into the sisters, mother/queen aspects.
I really appreciate this too, especially because they could so easily have chosen not to address it (or worse, just write them with familiar human relationships), and that would have made it very awkward if they'd used terms like "sister" without the context. Social insects are interesting!

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28: The Butler Did It, and Other Stories

We're early in a new chapter, and that means sidequests! We've certainly picked up a bunch of them. The agenda for today is getting the quick ones out of the way, so that we can start digging into more substantive ones next time.

Image 06 - Outskirts

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First up, remember this cave in the Outskirts? This is what Professor Neolith's clue was pointing to. Let's head inside.

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It's very quiet in here. There's only ambient noise, it doesn't even play the usual cave music.

Image What a peculiar cave.
Image Huh... There's nothing here! Just a rock!
Image ...We can feel magic coming off this cavern. It's hiding something.

We've seen this banter before, but I wanted to refresh our memory, it's been a while since we were here.

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One of Venus' buds is also in here now. That's new. Let's see what she can tell us.

Image This is a really strange cave, isn't it?
Image I can just feel something interesting is hiding here! You better look around!

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We didn't have what goes on this dais before, but we do now, thanks to the Professor! What a helpful chap. Let's put that in and see what it does.

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The room starts shaking and the pedestal sinks into the ground.

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Then the room starts shaking even more...

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A giant crystal descends from the ceiling, and this huge stage rises back out.

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Is that a hologram of a roach? Interesting. We certainly need to investigate this further.

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The signage isn't very helpful.

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Whatever this is, we can talk to it. Let's check for banters first.

Image Woah! Is that a Roach!?
Image It's just a projection, Vi.
Image Still, it feels so real!

There's also an area one:

Image What an incredible device! It projects images!
Image I've seen a few like this in the Hive. They're really cool!
Image ...Can a projection reward us...?

Vi is reminded of B.O.S.S.? (Or maybe something else similar to it?) Interesting.

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Oh. That's not helpful.

Image Ah, the Roach dialect!
Image Come on, Leif! You've gotta translate!
Image Uh. This accent is really weird. Let's see...
Image Deranto te daqueda ni firosk.
Image Teterande da...
Image Translation Complete.

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Image Guess we won't need to translate, then...
Image Here, you can challenge many enemies you've faced before in succession, in return for prizes and glory!
Image Prizes!? Glory!? Aw yeah!
Image This must be an ancient Roach training simulator!
Image Indeed! Shall we start a test run?

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Image Bleh. It's busted.

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Image Oh, fret not, challengers!
Image All we need is a Crystal that has recorded any battles you have fought!
Image A crystal that recorded our battles?
Image It must be something that has been with us since the start... But what?

This is a bit awkward, I think they wrote this conversation assuming we'd discover this before B.O.S.S., but the structure of the game just naturally tends to go the other way, so it ends up making it look like our team has a bad memory.

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Anyway, obviously the answer is our permit again. If we give something else, we can see this line:

Image This item does not possess recorded data. Please provide a data-rich crystal for data reading.

Let's do it correctly now.

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Image Please speak to me whenever you are ready to start the program or you have any questions about the system.
Image Alright! It's prize, glory, and uh... Holo-trainwhatever time!

This is the Cave of Trials. It's a battle gauntlet, like B.O.S.S. but different (Paper Mario fans will definitely make comparisons to the Pit of 100 Trials). Let's get some more information.

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Image This terminal will use your crystal's data to let you battle many foes in consecutive battles.
Image If your crystal has no data on our enemies, they will show up as silhouettes. My apologies.
Image You can only heal every 10 battles, and holographic enemies award less EXP.
Image Every 10 battles completed awards a prize, and it's safe to fail.
Image So keep changing your strategy until you come out on top!

What he didn't say there is that, like B.O.S.S., there's a limitation on how many times you can use the healing between rounds. You only get 2 heals for the entire gauntlet of 50 battles (and, like he said, you only get the option after every 10th battle).

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Image For each 10 completed Trials, you get special items, Medals or berries that may aid you in your journey.

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(Including this screenshot because I caught a nice view of the glitching effect, the weird characters temporarily flicker in to replace the text.)

Image But beware, giving up before reaching a 10 battle milestone will net you nothing. Try to endure until then!
Image Also, do not worry about spending your items, as they will be returned just how they were at the end of the battle! So use away.

This works just like B.O.S.S., any consumable items you bring in will be returned at the end, though not restored between battles, so you can use powerful and rare things with impunity here.

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Image Cold feet? Come back if you decide to challenge the Trial again!

As much as I'd love to show off by beating this now, I don't think I can. You really need a certain level of sustainability and regeneration to be able to get through this many battles, and while the Image Victory Buzz medal we got last time goes a long way in that respect, it's not quite enough by itself (unlike the Pit of 100 Trials in Paper Mario, these enemies don't drop items or recovery pickups). I did a casual practice run that ended at battle 20; if I'd brought better items I could've gotten through that one, but wouldn't expect to get too much further (unless I went out of my way to grind a full inventory of Queen's Dinners or something, and I'd really rather not). Even then, I wouldn't be confident: the late-game enemies get pretty nasty and the tools we have now aren't really adequate to handle them.

That said, I'm inclined to say it's not a great idea to show this now anyway. Enemies we haven't seen yet start showing up as early as round 10 (they're not exactly organised by the order we fought them), and even if they appear as silhouettes only, their behaviours would still spoil future content. Many of the enemy formations in here are unique, and mix and match enemies in ways you won't encounter elsewhere in the game. This is great in that it's new content, but makes it awkward trying to figure out when to do this.

There are some good rewards for this (rounds 10 and 20 give rare consumables, 30 and 40 give medals, and 50 is a key item); after you earn them the first time, you'll get berries instead on subsequent attempts. There are a few other minor things you can do after finishing it (including a really fun secret), but we'll cover those later.

Playing casually, it's not a big deal to come here and see how far you can go whenever you feel up to it, but for the LP I'm more inclined to put it off until the postgame. If the thread prefers me to do it earlier, it'd be safe to do rounds 1-40 after Chapter 6, but I think that's the earliest point it would make sense. Let me know what you think, I suppose.

Anyway, let's get back to exploring the room for now.

Once we've spoken to it, the banter for the roach hologram changes:

Image Woah! Is that a Roach!?
Image It's just a projection, Vi.
Image We can start the trials by talking to this very realistic hologram. Get ready, everyone!

We can also go check the signs again.

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The text on them is now legible. They show some of our ingame stats, which is pretty cool! Trying to break your record for damage done in a single turn can be fun, too.

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Image A training simulator, huh? Be sure to heal up before working out!

Venus has new dialogue now as well. She's here to provide convenient healing, in case you're not on full health when coming here for whatever reason.

That's all there is to see here; now we know what this cave is about. I wanted to show this now because it's available, even though it's a bit awkward to come here and then refuse to do anything. Let's move on to doing some actual sidequests now.

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First things first, let's head to the Golden Settlement area. Someone called Madeleine says her butler's gotten lost in the Golden Hills.

Image 30 - The Sacred Hills

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That must be her.

Image We've got a hunch that this is Madeleine. Shall we say hello?

If we check the banter, Leif says much the same thing. Let's see what she has to say.

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Image That's correct! Madeleine, I presume?
Image That's me. I'm so grateful for your help! You see...
Image Seb, my dear butler, got lost while we enjoyed our pilgrimage.
Image I've searched quite a bit, but I am helpless finding my way without him!
Image Pretty please... Could you try and find him for me?
Image How's he like? It'd help us.

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Image Please do your best, yes? I'll reward you appropriately.
Image Heheh. We're on it! Just hang in there!

Seems simple enough. Let's check the banter again before we go:

Image Madeleine's got some good style going on.
Image Vi, ever thought of carrying an umbrella around?
Image Nah, I'd just get tired. Hey, Kabbu. What about you?
Image Hmm. You think I should try it? I could look so pretty!
Image Err, sure. If you say so...

I love that Kabbu's interest in fashion continues to be a thing. It's not at all something I'd have expected given everything else about him, and I think that's what makes it work.

And, of course, we can talk to her again:

Image Oh, please! Find him soon! If anything happens to him... I don't know what I'd do!

Okay, okay, no need to panic on us.

The game doesn't give us any information to go on about where Seb might be, but if we think back to when we were exploring this area in Chapter 2, there was one suspicious place we couldn't go. Other than that, we explored this place thoroughly, so let's start there.

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It's in the area up this elevator.

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Remember that little platform with the ramp, out in the brambles? With Leif's Bubble Shield, we can now get to it.

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It's distant, but it definitely looks like someone is over there!

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Yeah, that's him.

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Image Orange bowtie marks the spot.
Image (...Wow. He's even tinier than me!)

A cute little banter before we talk to him.

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Image It's disgraceful that I would worry her so, fleeing upon the sight of monsters... I can only hope she'll forgive me.
Image Stop worrying. She'll be quite pleased to see you.
Image You truly think so? ...Then, without further delay, let us not keep her waiting.
Image My, how devoted! Just stay close to us. We'll get you through safely.

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Seb will now follow us. That's really all there is to this quest; now we just need to take him back to Madeleine.

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Image Milady! I'm sorry to have troubled you so...
Image Oh, how would my life be without you to help me?
Image I can only hope my absence would be noted, Milady.
Image But of course. Oh, brave explorers... I can't thank you enough!

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Oh, Vi.

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Image As a token of my gratitude, I hope you will make good use of this.

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Image With that said, shall we head home? I fancy some Burly Tea.
Image Of course, Milady. With some sweet bread?
Image You know me too well! Brave explorers... May we meet again sometime!

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They walk off, and that completes the quest. That was a pretty simple one, although it could take a lot longer if you search the entire area rather than beelining for the unexplored area.

Madeleine and Seb are something of an odd pair: she's a cicada killer wasp, and he's a cicada, but they seem to genuinely care about each other.

(Also, if you look carefully, there's a pile of dead monsters right next to where Madeleine was standing when we found her. Seb wasn't lying about having fled, but apparently she was more than capable of dealing with them. Nobody will ever comment on this.)

Anyway, let's take the book she gave us to the library.

Image 18 - In the Court of the Ant Queen

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Image Ah, wonderful. That is one of ours, yes. I'll put it on the shelf, so check it out whenever.

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Image The Everlasting Sapling. It is said that the sapling was a creation of the roaches. The legends of the sapling have brought the first settlers to Bugaria, bringing about the creation of the Ant Kingdom. According to legend, it is said that eating even one of its leaves will grant immortality to the bug that eats it. Our only clue to its whereabouts are artifacts mentioned in ancient texts. They say one resides in Snakemouth Den, but its dangers have proven too much to conquer. Was it truly made by the Roaches? Could it have caused the Roaches to vanish? I hope this chapter of history will be cleared up in my lifetime.

A bit of new information in that one (we didn't know the sapling was connected to the roaches before), though it's mostly speculation still.

The other quests I want to address today are in Defiant Root, so let's head there.

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Image 37 - Defiant Root

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This soldier trying to get our attention is new! She appears here after we've seen the Chapter 4 briefing in the Ant Palace.

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She offers us yet another form of fast travel.

Image Roger.

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If we agree, she'll immediately bring us here, to the Lost Sands entrance in Bugaria Outskirts.

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And we have the option to go back immediately. This is convenient, I guess, though it seems a bit unnecessary when we already have the tunnels. I think this might've been added in v1.1? I never remember that this exists.

Let's get back on track, anyway.

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We had a request for help from someone named Eremi in the museum.

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That must be her.

Image That's a cute apron!
Image Leif, you quite enjoy cooking. Correct?
Image When it's stuff we like.
Image Perhaps you should wear a cute apron as well!
Image That's... not how it works.
Image You just don't wanna wear it!
Image Why don't YOU get an apron then, Vi?
Image Ahahahaha... oh, whoops, time to get back to work!

Kabbu's fashion sense strikes again. Let's talk to her now:

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Image Err... no.
Image You must be Eremi.
Image Ah, yup! That's me!
Image How may we help you combat this heatspell?
Image Leif! Freeze her up!

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Image Wow! What a nice breeze!
Image Mission complete.
Image Pay up!
Image W-Wait! It's already hot again!
Image I'm SUPER thankful, but... I need something that will last after you're gone.
Image Hmm...
Image Perhaps an umbrella? Or some sort of ointment to shield you from the sun's rays?
Image I'll take anything, really. Please... I'm begging you!
Image So much for the easy check... We'll find something, so sit tight!
Image Try not to, uh, work yourself up until then.

So this is our quest. Eremi wants something that will help her keep cool.

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Talking to her opens up the regular items menu and we can give her something. If we give her the wrong thing:

Image This isn't really gonna help. I'm grateful you've tried, but...

Let's see if we can't do something about this.

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Ointment was mentioned, and we found this in the factory, so let's take it out of storage.

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That said, I'm going to save here. You'll see why shortly.

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Let's give her Shell Ointment.

Image Ooh! That's a fancy brand!
Image This should protect you long enough!
Image Mmm, it's a good bandaid, but an umbrella would've been better.

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The game gives us a choice here. Let's see what happens if we say no, first.

Image We'll see if we find an umbrella. You'll have to wait, though.
Image I'm gonna try! Patience is hard when you're melting.

They're really hammering in on this umbrella thing. What happens if we say yes, though?

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Image Sorry, it's not perfect but it'll do.
Image Yeah... you're right! Sorry, the heat's got me a bit cranky. I'll try it out!

The screen goes dark briefly.

Image Ah, much better! Thank you so much!
Image No probs! Now, to seal the deal...
Image Here, this should cover the item and more!

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Image Thanks-!

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This quest is unique, in that it's the only one in the game that can be completed multiple ways to get different rewards (in fact, there are three options). The hints about looking for an umbrella weren't exactly subtle, but Shell Ointment will absolutely suffice to complete the quest, and she'll pay 30 berries for it. There's something else too, though.

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If we go to the caravan, they now have a Image Reflection medal in stock. This is what Eremi would give us on the best path for this quest, and since we chose not to do that, it gets sent to the caravan for us to buy instead. Reflection is the third type of medal that changes Do Nothing: for 3 MP, it becomes a kind of defend action, increasing defence by 1.

While it's a bit costly (Eremi paid us 30 berries, but the medal is 45, so we take a net loss, and we also lost the Shell Ointment, which we can't replace right now though we'll be able to buy more eventually), this path technically gives us access to the Reflection medal earlier than if we were to do it the "correct" way.

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Image It's nice to finally be able to look around town without feeling like I'm melting!

When we go back to the area with the museum, Eremi is walking around outside now, and seems much happier. Even though this isn't considered the optimal solution to the quest, it's not exactly a bad one.

It is perfectly reasonable to complete the quest in this way, especially if you want the Reflection medal early. That said, there's a reason I saved beforehand: I'll be reloading so none of this ever happened, and we'll return to this quest later to see the other solutions.

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Let's go do a quest we can actually complete.

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Ven here had a request for us.

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Image We did. Beat some bandits, is that it?
Image Yes. These blasted bandits... I will never forgive them...
Image Please. I cannot go myself. I have my reasons. Besides, I am not equipped for it.

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Image You have my gratitude. I need you to defeat at least 20 of them.
Image Any of them will do. Be it the dragonflies, the crickets, the ladybugs, whichever.
Image Just beat them up so they stop attacking the citizens of Defiant Root!
Image You got it! Just have our reward ready when we're back!
Image As long as they stop attacking us... You shall receive your reward. Notify me once you've beaten 20 of them.

This seems pretty straightforward. Just go beat up some bandits. That said, if we talk to Ven again without having enough kills, the game will clarify exactly what this means:

Image Seems you still need to teach a few more bandits a lesson. Just beat 20 bandits, any of them, and I will reward you.
Image It'll be good to check the Bestiary. It should hold how many we've defeated!

Specifically, quests like this look at the kill counts recorded in our bestiary. This does mean that if you're overlevelled you can't use Bug Me Not to beat them in the overworld, you have to take that off and fight the enemies properly or the counters won't increment. Let's see how we're doing:

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We have accumulated 9 kills total for bandits prior to this point.

When I play this game normally, I don't go out of my way to complete this quest, it's more efficient just to let it complete naturally over the course of the chapter. But in the interest of streamlining things for the LP, I'm going to go grind it out offscreen now to get it out of the way. It's not hard to find bandit enemies throughout the Lost Sands area (or, if you're feeling cheeky, you can go repeat Chubee's play in Bugaria Theatre a handful of times; it may not make sense, but those kills count too).

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Image Justice has, in fact, been delivered!
Image If only I had more to give. Here's what I promised you.

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Image Once more, you have my gratitude. Now at least she can rest easy.
Image No problem. Take care of yourself.
Image It will be much easier now. Stay safe during your travels.

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That completes the quest. This is our second copy of Image Freeze Resistance, and more or less completes the set of resistance medals: we now have two copies each for Poison, Sleep, Numb, and Freeze. It's not bad to have.

Ven also has a new line now:

Image Thank you. For everything. I am sure she is grateful too.

Who is this "she" he keeps talking about?

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Remember Anna? The bug who's missing a leg, implied to be due to an injury inflicted by the bandits? Her dialogue changes now too. (According to the artbook, she's Ven's fiancée, which may explain why he was so furious.)

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Image ...Thank you... Thank you very much!

That's the real reward for this quest, in my eyes.

This seems like a good place to wrap things up for today (though I hope this update wasn't too disappointing, with how much of it I spent talking about not accomplishing things.) Next time on Bug Fables, more significant sidequests!
Last edited by Explopyro on Sat Jul 10, 2021 11:09 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Still can't get over how charming the character designs are in this game. Ven has a super cool look.

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FYI, I've slightly edited the update, adding a line mentioning all the dead monsters around Madeleine, and one acknowledging that the artbook says Anna is Ven's fiancée, both of which I think add some context worth having. I've also fixed a handful of typos. Sorry about that.
clearcardinal wrote:
Fri Jul 09, 2021 9:14 am
Still can't get over how charming the character designs are in this game. Ven has a super cool look.
Completely agreed.

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29: Mother Mayhem

First up, a brief mea culpa, I apparently had an error in my notes again. The thread expressed interest in the Luckier Day medal, so I went to Shades to try to buy it and it just wouldn't show up. I'm not sure if it appears partway through this chapter (and Shades therefore updates more often than once per chapter), or if I just had it down a chapter early again, but regardless I've apparently jumped the gun again. I'll show it as soon as I can.

Image 26 - Golden Lands

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Today, we'll be following up on the Honey Factory lockdown and investigating the issue at the source. The Power Plant is located here at the edge of the Golden Settlement.

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The guard now gives us permission to go in.

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And the door's open now, so let's head inside.

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The Power Plant has a similar aesthetic to the factory. Though, weirdly, there's no music in here, just a bit of ambient technological humming.

Image The Power Plant is inside the Bee Kingdom's tree, correct?
Image It feels like one more room in the Honey Factory.
Image In a way, it kinda is!

Team Snakemouth comment on this in the banter. Let's talk to some people and get our bearings.

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They don't seem to have been able to accomplish much.

Image The Power Plant's way cooler than the factory. How come I never got any shifts here!?
Image Those Bees seem to be operating very complex machines. Do you know how to?
Image I, uh, I'm sure I'd press the right buttons...
Image Thankfully for everyone, exploring's your one true calling!

There's a new banter for the workers here. Somehow I don't think Vi would have been any more satisfied with this once the novelty had worn off...

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Image It's got something to do with all these switches... Think you can figure it out?

It seems we have a puzzle on our hands if we want to go any further. There are four switches against the wall, and we have to do something with them to get the door open. That's all the game tells us, the rest is trial and error.

Hitting any switch toggles both itself and any switches adjacent to it, and our goal is to turn on all four simultaneously. There are various ways to do this (you can more or less just feel your way through), but here's the quickest:

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Hit the switch on the right...

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Then hit this one to turn on the other three.

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That opens up the door so we can proceed.

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We can inspect this machine here.

Image Vi, what is this machine?
Image That's the Energy Converter! It, uh... converts all the energy!
Image That's a very helpful description, Vi.
Image It must use the power generated from the windmill to power the Factory's core!
Image Uh... yep! That's what the Power Plant does!
Image It's no wonder many Bees visit the Golden Settlement for the Festival.
Image The wins here play a big part in creating delicious honey!
Image Guess it's why the Bee Kingdom asked Elizant for control of this place.
Image Elizant... Everyone won because she didn't cling to her territory.
Image Bees won the most, cuz we get to make so much honey!

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In addition to some interesting tidbits of political history, this also gets us a Discovery.

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Though the conversation had more to tell us than the discovery log does. Still, it's more progress toward the next prize threshold.

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As per usual, checking it again has a new message, if not particularly enlightening.

Let's check out the area further.

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Image Maybe it is what caused the alarm?
Image ...We should prepare before we go ahead.

This conversation triggers as soon as we check behind the machine. This actually seems a bit weird now I think about it: Vi just got done telling us that she's never been here before, so why does she know this is wrong? I guess she could know the layout without ever having come here, but it's still a bit odd.

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Leif's hint is a good excuse to move some medals around. In particular, Numb Resistance is a pretty good idea here (though blocking still mostly obviates the need for it, it's good to have it as a failsafe). I didn't think of it at the time, but Status Booster on Leif (for Icefall) would also have been a very good idea.

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In we go.

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What is this?

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Image Is this what caused the lockdown?
Image What's this feeling in the air...?

Image 13 - It's Getting Scary!

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Image It's overflowing with electricity!
Image It's gonna pay for causing so much trouble!

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There's a new leaf animation here, we haven't seen this foliage yet.

Image Click me for video!

Image 35 - Reckless for Glory! (Bonus Boss)

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Hello surprise boss fight! Meet the Midge Broodmother. Let's find out what we're dealing with...

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Image Let's freeze up the small ones, see if it takes some pressure off us.

Leif explains what the fight's going to be about. She has a lot of numbing attacks, and can summon smaller Midges. Also, 70 HP. Though with 0 defence, that's no worse than Heavy Drone B-33.

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Let's get started. (If you watch the video, you'll probably notice I was a bit indecisive at first and spent a bit of time shuffling my formation around before settling on this. I thought about putting Kabbu in the rear and using Taunt with Back Support, but I didn't want to start off with that, and then never ended up deciding to. That strategy is good here if you want to go that route, though.)

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Vi attacks first. Unlike some other bosses we've fought, one hit is enough to bring the Broodmother down for the others to hit.

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Kabbu and Leif proceed to do so.

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On her first turn, Broodmother uses this charge attack. 5 damage at base, targeting one bug. Conveniently, she went after Kabbu, taking 2 Spiky Bod damage from Super Block and also triggering Favorite One. I certainly won't complain about that!

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Turn two. For now, we'll just keep attacking.

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A bit more damage thanks to the charge-up boosts, but otherwise nothing special.

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The boss uses the charge attack and targets Kabbu again. I'm fine with this.

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Turn three. We'll continue in much the same manner.

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This is her other main attack, launching a barrage of numbing projectiles. I'm not sure exactly what they're meant to be, maybe they're just electrical sparks? Regardless, this attack does 2-3 hits, each with a base damage of 3 and the ability to numb if not blocked; she targeted Kabbu with all three here, but that isn't guaranteed (unless he taunts), each shot is aimed at a random member of the party.

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Kabbu's really been taking a beating, he's not looking too healthy here. Let's fix that.

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Vi heals him with Secret Stash. I could've used an item for a larger heal here, but this seems like enough for now.

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Then Kabbu and Leif get back to attacking.

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Lots of things happen this turn! First off, she launches a delayed projectile, which will land two turns later. This doesn't cost her a turn, and she can randomly decide to do it before attacking. Presumably there's a cooldown on this: it behaves like other delayed attacks and will have at most one projectile active at a time, but I don't know the exact length of the cooldown.

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Then she calls reinforcements. This also happens before she attacks and doesn't cost her a turn, and calls a single Midge. Once again, I suspect there is probably a cooldown, though I don't have more details than that.

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After both of those actions, she attacks as normal. This time the projectiles are distributed more evenly.

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The freshly-summoned Midge also gets to attack immediately.

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This is a bit scarier. If you don't know how to deal with this, the Midges can become pretty problematic: they recognise the Broodmother as one of their own, and will counterattack every time we hit her.

(Also, the numbers worked out interestingly here. There's a trigger when she gets below 50% HP, but it didn't happen yet because she started the turn at exactly 35. I absolutely did not plan it this way, but I'll take advantage of it.)

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First things first, let's use Icefall. That's generally the best way to deal with them, since they can't counterattack if they're frozen. This is also why Status Booster is a pretty good idea here (Broodmother has 40% freeze resistance, and Midges have 25%), but even without it your odds are pretty good. I got pretty lucky and froze both of them.

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This seems like a pretty good time for Tornado Toss, Vi has a couple of charges and we get a damage boost from the freeze. Because the small Midge is frozen, it doesn't get to counter.

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Then Kabbu relays to Vi and she finishes off the small Midge.

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At the start of her turn, Broodmother powers up and gains an extra action on each turn. This happens the first turn she begins below 50% HP, and lasts for the rest of the fight.

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Then proceeds to use both turns to launch projectiles. That was starting to look a bit scary for Kabbu, but blocking sees him through it.

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Here's where things stand at the start of the turn. You can see the permanent extra turn effect here. That said, this could be a lot scarier, we've already gotten her pretty low.

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Kabbu heals himself with a Leaf Omelet. Honestly, this ended up being a bit of a waste and I could have finished the fight without it, but I thought it was better to play it safe.

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Vi attacks normally.

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And Leif uses Frigid Coffin, and gets the freeze (40 + 18 - 30 resistance, so it's a 72% chance of success), setting us up nicely to finish things the following turn.

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The delayed projectile lands at the end of the turn, though she doesn't attack otherwise for being frozen.

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Shouldn't be too difficult to wrap this up.

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First things first, we get Vi in front and restore some TP. Conveniently, this Honeyed Leaf will also activate Weak Stomach for some extra damage.

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Tornado Toss gets us most of the way there.

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And Kabbu deals the final blow.

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That wasn't too bad!

For all that this fight uses the superboss music, it really isn't very tough if you know how to handle it (and it only gets easier if you come here later in the game, I definitely think it's intended to be fought around now). That said, if you let the Midges get out of control (and if you're bad at blocking), it can be a lot scarier:

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Here's a screenshot from another fight where I let her get two at once (she won't summon more than that), for instance. If you hit Broodmother here, both Midges will counter, and attacking either Midge will have the other one counter also (though Broodmother herself doesn't react). You don't want this to happen (although, frankly, the Midges only have 7 HP each, so even this isn't insurmountable: just kill them). Make good use of Icefall.

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That's her dealt with.

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As soon as the Broodmother is dead, a few bee soldiers come in to check on us.

Image It seems like this Midge was the issue.
Image I see. We will get rid of the eggs before more Midges are born. Good work!
Image Allow me to reward you for assisting the Bee Kingdom!

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We get paid.

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Image Well, we have lots to do, so let's get started!

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And with that, we've completed the Factory Inspection quest! We're not quite done here just yet, though, there's a bit more exploration we can do still.

(Incidentally, I don't think the Broodmother is meant to be a queen and imply Midges are eusocial, that would be odd whether they're flies or mosquitoes. As far as I can tell, she's just the fully grown version of the ones we've been fighting.)

First off, there's new dialogue from the soldiers here:

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Image Could they be from...?

As well as a new banter:

Image A hidden path inside the Power Plant's tree...
Image Let's see where it leads to!
Image (...What's with all these spears, anyway...?)

That's a good question. The spears definitely look like the ones used by Wasp soldiers... that's probably worth investigating.

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Let's see where this path leads!

Image 25 - Caves

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We're in a cave?

Image It's way too cramped in here. This cave could learn from Snakemouth.
Image There's a buncha doors! Someone lives here?
Image Hard to say. Let's see if we can open all of them with time.

Seems pretty mysterious.

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To start things off, there's a switch we can hit that opens the gate directly in front of us.

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There are a few ways we could go here, but let's check this path blocked off by grass first.

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Wait, the Ants are here?

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Image I hope us being here isn't considered an act of war...

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Image I just hope we don't run into any monsters while here...

Seems like we're in the Far Grasslands, which we previously learned was Wasp Kingdom territory. Though the ants are encroaching on it for some reason, possibly in preparation for the invasion they suspect is coming. (Who's invading whom, anyway?)

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Diana is here.

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Asking the usual questions. As usual, I'm not going to refuse this; shortcuts are always nice to have (even if this will use up our profits from the quest).

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!

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

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We now have a new shortcut back to the Ant Mines. That will definitely come in handy later. Let's get back to looking around

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The gate on this side is closed. We can see a switch on the other side, but there's no way to hit it from here, we'll have to come back to that later.

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We can, however, take this exit to the south.

Image 56 - Lands Untamed (Recommended listening!)

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This is a new area! The first time we come here, we get a discovery.

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Yeah, we've stumbled into Wasp Kingdom territory. Which in a way explains what their spears were doing in the Power Plant, but, well, does that mean the Midge Broodmother interrupted an invasion?

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Looking around, there seems to be a new enemy here.

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Image 04 - FIGHT!

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Guess we're fighting whether we like it or not! (While it's slightly differently coloured out here, it's now clear that the foliage we saw in the battle transition with the Broodmother is from this area.)

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These are actually Chapter 5 enemies. We're here early. Also, this is peculiar: there's a second battle theme that usually kicks in in this area, but apparently coming here this early means we still hear the one we're used to.

Anyway, let's see what we're dealing with.

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Image That aside, this enemy's got quite the varied skillset. We'll have to watch out while we block.

(If you spy on this with Vi or Kabbu, they'll react as though they think it's a wasp. Mantidflies are something quite different, though many of them are indeed wasp mimics.)

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Image It does heal up, so we've gotta focus it down or it'll just get back up!

And we have another Chomper variant. These have 2 defence!

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Kabbu and Leif do the best they can against the Wild Chomper.

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Wild Chompers can attack with vines from below. We've seen this kind of attack before in Chapter 2, but this is significantly more threatening (4 base damage). This attack can also do a second hit, for 2 base damage, but it didn't here. They also regenerate 1 HP after acting.

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Mantidflies have a variety of attacks, including this claw swipe.

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They also get two actions every turn, which means we get to see another of them. They can grab our bugs and try to lift them into the air, though we can escape before it finishes the move if we mash (A) fast enough.

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Turn two.

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I decided to have Vi use Needle Toss for some piercing damage on the Chomper. That said, I genuinely can't explain these numbers. Normally the second hit deals decreased damage if you hit the same target again, but it didn't here for some reason.

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Kabbu relays to Vi so she can knock down the Mantidfly.

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Leif attacks.

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Here's another of the Mantidfly's attacks: a charging dash that deals 5 damage.

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And on its second turn, it went for the grab again. I decided to let it finish the move to show what that looks like, and ouch! It suplexes Vi into the ground for 7 damage. You can block to reduce the damage as they're hitting the ground, but I didn't manage it here, and it was enough to KO her.

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Hey, finally an excuse to show what it looks like when you use a Magic Seed. Incidentally, this also triggered Weak Stomach, which you can kind of see here.

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It's easy enough to finish it off from there. Victory Buzz kicks in at the end of the battle, restoring 4 TP.

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Fighting these guys early is worth a lot of EXP.

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That said, right now there's not much else we can do in this area. The way east is blocked by boulders...

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And the way south is blocked by this root. With our current abilities, we can't get past either obstacle. (Full disclosure, I had completely forgotten this was here, and had planned to cover the area to the south in this update... change of plans, I guess.)

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There's nothing else we can do here, but there's a convenient shortcut back!

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We come out in the Ant Mines under a sign with a symbol for the Far Grasslands.

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This miner tells us a bit about how the construction process went.

I did some poking around in the Hive and the Honey Factory to see if Queen Bianca or any of the factory personnel had something new to say now that we know what caused the lockdown, but I couldn't find anything.

Artis should have a medal for us, though, so let's go check in with him.

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Image Was it too challenging for ya? You deserve a reward. Here, take this!

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Image Come back later when you've bonked some extra hard heads with that Medal, will ya?

Say hello to one of the most broken medals in the game (though we won't see its full potential until much later). Image Miracle Matter is 3 MP, and will automatically revive the equipped bug with 2 HP, two turns after they're knocked out.

It probably won't escape your notice that 2 HP is well within range to activate Last Attack; these medals go really well together. It becomes really abusable once you have access to powerful defencive strategies: there are a few different ways to set up a nearly impenetrable defence on someone, and if you pair that with someone else going fully glass cannon and equipping Miracle Matter... well, the results speak for themselves. I will definitely show this off later once it's possible, it's particularly good for B.O.S.S. rush mode and the Cave of Trials.

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Since I wasn't able to cover anything else in the Far Grasslands the way I wanted to, let's get started on our next major sidequest instead. Let's hunt down some red paint so Vi can (hopefully) reconcile with Jaune; we don't want to leave that to fester too long, after all! Our best lead is that it's made in the Golden Settlement.

Image 26 - Golden Lands

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Poking around town won't reveal much, until we talk to Dashy by the cochineal farms.

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Image Much of the Bee Kingdom's clothing is dyed with their help.
Image That's, uh, cool.
Image Oh yeah. Is paint made that way too?
Image Some colors, yes. Like this exquisite red paint I bought at the festival.
Image Hard to get this time of the year.
Image M-Miss! We have been searching far and wide for that paint!
Image Have you? None of you seem like you know the way of the brush.
Image It's, um, a gift! For Jaune!
Image Ah, yes! She would certainly put this paint to good use.
Image But I'm afraid I can't part with it. I had a special duty for it.

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Image It's not about the money! I'm decorating my chambers...
Image I thought of drawing on its walls.
Image If you won't sell, would you consider a trade?
Image Hmm...

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Image There is one thing.
Image I do love the Defiant Root's work and their patterns.
Image If you could get me some of their fine building cloth, I would consider giving you the paint.
Image Got it! Just, uh, please don't use the paint yet! We'll be back!
Image Best of luck. It'd be a win-win for everyone, wouldn't it?
Image Alright. Let's hunt it down when we can.

That's progress, at least! We've found a source of the paint, now we just need to convince her to hand it over.

If we talk to her again, she'll just repeat a few of her lines pointing us at cloth from Defiant Root. Let's follow up that lead.

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Image 37 - Defiant Root

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Looking around the town, this person wasn't here before! Before we talk to him, there's a banter:

Image Must be rough being a Bumblebee in this heat...
Image He's wearing a scarf, right? Doesn't seem like he minds.
Image Now that's what I call heat tolerance...

Let's have a chat.

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Image Would you mind showing us?
Image Sure!

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Image Beautiful, right?
Image Indeed! This must be in line with what that fine bee wanted...
Image It's really cool. Where did ya get it?
Image Um, right here. But it was the last one...
Image You wouldn't, uh, sell it or anything, right?
Image We've been looking a long time for something like it.
Image U-Um...
Image If it's not for the money, we could trade for it as well?
Image Wow, you're really serious about this, huh.
Image Let me think...
Image I went to the Ant Kingdom earlier, but I didn't get to pick up anything.
Image I'd trade this cloth for a toy, or some souvenir like that?
Image We can do that.
Image Yeah! We live there and all!
Image Really? Then this must be fate!
Image I'll be here for a good while, so I'll hang on to the cloth.
Image Looking forward to what you bring!

That was fast. We've found what we need, but we're going to have to go hunt down something else to trade for it. This is turning into a huge chain of transactions. (Every game has to have one of these quests, right?)

Incidentally, this bumblebee is named Genow. You might recognise this as the username of one of the developers (specifically, the lead writer); most of the devs have an ingame avatar somewhere, and this is his. For the purposes of this quest, he's just an ordinary NPC though. If we talk to him again, he just repeats his last two lines.

Let's see what we can find for him in the Ant Kingdom.

Image 17 - Ant Kingdom

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Remember Ann? (It's okay if you don't!) She's the one we have to talk to.

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Image I'm sorry, Ann. I don't get to babysit you much anymore, do I?
Image I can't imagine Kabbu babysitting!
Image We can. Oh, we can.
Image Look at this cool thing I bought! I saved up all my allowance!

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Image What an adorable souvenir! It carries the warmth of the Ant Kingdom.

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Image Hm?
Image ...! W-Wait, you two can't be-
Image That's a pretty cool toy. You wouldn't, uh. Sell it back, right?
Image What? No. It was the last one in the shop!
Image W-What if we got you a cooler toy?

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Image Please excuse them. They, um, really need it.
Image The only place that makes cooler toys is Metal Island.
Image No way I could ever afford going there...

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Image It's like one bajillion berries.
Image Still, if we get a toy from there, you'd consider it?
Image Yeah! It'd be a super fair trade!
Image Welp... Let's find out how to get there without going broke.

Well then. We know what our next step is going to have to be: we have to get to Metal Island in order to complete the chain of deals. (If we talk to Ann again, she'll just repeat two of her lines to that effect.)

We could just pay the fare, but it's 300 berries and that would require a fair bit of grinding. And why would we do that, when we were already given a clue that there's another way? We have that quest to find and defeat the Card Masters to qualify for the big Spy Cards tournament, and Carmina told us that competitors get a discount rate on travel to the island.

Seems like it's time to play some cards. We'll start off next time with that.

User avatar
30: Chasing Cards

Image 17 - Ant Kingdom

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Last time, we learned that in order to get red paint for Jaune, we'd need to complete a chain of trades, and the next link in that chain is on Metal Island. We can get a discount on the trip there if we qualify for the Spy Cards Tournament, which means it's time to hunt down the four Card Masters.

Back when Carmina gave us the quest, the hint she gave us was "the first Card Master is old".

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Did you think of Chuck? He's not the only old bug around, but he's definitely the one whose age has been brought up most frequently.

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Image Indeed. We are looking for the Card Masters.
Image Ho ho! Been a while since someone came by to challenge me.
Image Wait, really? You're a card master?
Image Carmina did call him old...
Image She best get her eyes checked! I fight like a young champ!
Image Back in the day, they called me the Flash Summoner!

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(I love how Leif goes into a magic pose even when he's getting serious about a card game.)

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If we say no:

Image Hmm. A wise choice. You'd best prepare.

But let's accept his challenge.

Image You best not think I've gotten rusty, ye hear?

Image Click me for video!

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

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We have the Venus deck saved from last time, and I could reuse that (it's probably what I would do if I were playing on my own). But we've already seen that one in action, so let's build a new deck for variety's sake.

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Here's what I ended up going with. It's a pretty simple concept overall, mostly just going straight for card power, but there are a few wrinkles:

Devourer seemed like the best option among our boss cards (if we rule out Venus' Guardian, which would push us right back to our old deck). It's 4 TP and only 3 ATK, but it gets +3 if the opponent plays any cards classed as "Bugs", which ends up being a huge subset of cards so it's more often 6 than not. The Spider is a bit weak by comparison, and our other options would have been Heavy Drone B-33 or Midge Broodmother, both of which require support from a limited subset of cards (Bots or Midges respectively), and Venus' Guardian does that better. Devourer it is.

For Minibosses, I wanted Monsieur Scarlet for healing, though that made the choice of a second awkward. He pairs well with Aria in the Venus deck, but Aria's unimpressive without the potential explosive turns alongside Venus' Guardian, and Mothiva and Zasp both need the other to be effective. I picked Ahoneynation more or less by default because it was the last one remaining. That said, you could definitely make a case for using either Zasp or Mothiva on their lonesome as just an attacker card, or for using the pair of them instead of Scarlet: Ahoneynation is a bit capricious thanks to relying on coin flips, and often disappoints.

We round out the deck with an even spread of attackers, 3 of each at 2/3/4. For the last three slots, I dithered for a bit (I was tempted to go for Numbnail or Denmuki) before settling on Weevil. Weevil is an interesting card, it's cheap at 2 TP and, like Devourer, gets a bonus against a common class of enemy: specifically, it's 1 ATK normally but gets +2 against Plants. We'll see how that works out. (It's worth remembering this card when choosing which attackers to use, too, I default to the bandits at least in part because they aren't plants.)

That's our deck. Now let's get to the game.

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We don't have much choice in this hand, it's Weevil or nothing.

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We're seeing results right away! Seedlings are plants.

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One fun thing to pay attention to is the characters' poses between hands, the loser generally goes into a shocked pose and some of them are pretty entertaining (it comes through better in the video, there's only so much screenshots can capture). Kabbu and Vi sometimes react from the sidelines too, even though Leif is the one playing. Also, Chuck has a new sprite while playing, you can see him holding his cards!

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I elected to play Scarlet, which ended up being a push. It might have been better to hold on to him for later (to trigger the heal alongside one of the Burglars, perhaps?), but I preferred to be aggressive (and as you can see, if we'd played the Thief instead we'd have lost).

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Burglar is an obvious play on a 4 TP turn.

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We're rewarded for it! This was a bit lucky. Chuck really seems to like Seedlings.

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This is an actual choice! The most reasonable plays are either Burglar or Thief + Bandit. I ended up deciding to go with Burglar, I think I wanted to save the Thief to pair with the other Burglar next turn.

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And this round comes down to a coin flip! Chuck's Acornling only provides defence half the time, but he won the flip and that's enough to make us lose the hand.

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We already knew most of what we'd be working with this turn. Let's go with the Thief + Burglar plan.

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It works out.

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This is a pretty solid hand! With 7 TP, we can get the full value out of Monsieur Scarlet. The safe play would be Burglar, guaranteeing us the heal regardless of the outcome...

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But I thought Weevil might do better, considering Chuck's predilection for Seedlings. And I was correct, although it didn't end up mattering (he lost his coin flip this time around, but even if he'd won it, we could still have won the hand with Burglar too).

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A much more straightforward hand. With victory in sight, let's just go for maximum power with two Burglars. If we look at the card backs, though, we can tell Chuck has his Boss, so things might get a bit dicey.

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Interesting! He's playing the Seedling King, which is one of the Bounty bosses. We're aware of its existence, but we certainly haven't seen it before, and it's not a card we have access to right now. With its bonus, Chuck's hand overpowers ours.

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We have some interesting cards this time around! With 9 TP, we can pair Devourer either with Ahoneynation, or Bandit + Thief.

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Ahoneynation was the riskier play, and it went badly: I lost both coin flips, so it contributed literally nothing, and Devourer doesn't get its bonus against Seedlings. Winning even one coin flip would have been enough to end this (and, looking back, Bandit + Thief would have won this hand cleanly, but trying Ahoneynation was fun).

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Let's just play as much power as we can, and try to end the match. We can't fully use our 10 TP, but we can get pretty close...

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Chuck puts up a valiant fight, but even winning the Acornling flip isn't quite enough, and we win the final hand.

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And that's game point!

Chuck isn't too hard to beat (although, as we saw, his deck does have a few nasty surprises!), although Weevil definitely ends up being almost a counterpick, we saw nothing but plants from him. I don't know his exact deck (or, for that matter, if he has multiple; I know Carmina at least doesn't always use the same one), but the focus on Seedlings is definitely consistent.

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Image Nonsense, you fought like the best of them!
Image It was good. Best I've had for a long time. I wouldn't give this to just anybody!

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For defeating the first Card Master, our Blank Card is upgraded to a 1-Suit Card.

Image Excellent. Still three to go, though.
Image You've still got some Card Masters to go, don't ya?
Image Got any good hints?

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Image Um, anything more specific?
Image Card Master protocol! I'm sure ye'll find her, though.
Image Thank you, Chuck.
Image No problem, yer always helping me out! Come back for a rematch, will ya?
Image When we settle this business. For now, we must go.

I think he slipped up a bit there, the character's gender is a second hint! (Although this is Bugaria, being female doesn't narrow it down that much.) Still, the hint sounds like it's pointing toward the Golden Settlement, and we can probably think of a candidate there...

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If we talk to Chuck again, he'll now be up for rematches anytime, in addition to the usual offer of rest.

Image No problem. This bug ain't goin' anywhere.

If we were up for it, here's what he'd say:

Image Can't get enough of the Flash Summoner, eh? Ready up!

And if we were to win the rematch:

Image Good stuff, Leif! Here's a little something!

He'll pay us 10 berries each time we win. It's not much, but it's enough to make it not feel like you're completely unrewarded if you enjoy Spy Cards and want to keep messing around with deck ideas.

If we had lost to him, we'd see some other dialogue:

Image Oho! I've still got it!
Image Come on, Leif! Just try again!
Image You can do it!

You get this same dialogue if you lose to him on a rematch. I do enjoy how satisfied he is on beating us.

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Anyway, that's all we can do at Chuck's, so let's follow up his lead.

Image 26 - Golden Lands

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And head to the Golden Settlement. The eastern side of town is the first place we should check, since that's where we first saw Spy Cards being played during the festival!

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Definitely some familiar faces here. I realised at this point that we hadn't yet come back here after doing the cable car repair quest: this seems to be where the technician comes to rest when he's not working.

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Though he doesn't have much to say. Let's check the banter:

Image ...Took him long enough to move around.
Image Are you... upset, Leif?
Image Uh, no. But we do wish he'd done his job sooner.
Image Leif's upset!
Image Knock it off.

That's a bit more fun, at least. Anyway, digression aside, let's get back on task and find the person we've come to see.

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Arie is still here.

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Image That we are. You too?
Image Heehee! Yup! I'm one of those cool Card Masters!

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Image Wow, you're so eager! I can't say no to that!

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If we decline:

Image Aw. Tell me when you're ready then!

But obviously we're not going to.

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Image Time to rumble!

Image Click me for video!

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

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This deck worked out pretty well for us last time, let's use it again. (I did think about building a new deck each time, but quite frankly there aren't that many different deck concepts available to us right now...)

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It's neat that the game uses appropriate background scenery for each match, rather than sending us to some generic minigame arena screen.

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Always nice seeing cards we can play in our first hand.

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Weevil versus Chomper is a favourable matchup for us (we've even seen this in the wild, Weevils do like eating them). So far, so good.

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Some choices here. Scarlet is the strongest and most reliable play, but there's a decent case to save him for later and try Weevil or Thief instead.

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I chose to play him, and he won me the hand (though Weevil would have as well).

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Three potential plays here! Burglar, Devourer, or Weevil + Thief are all equally valid choices.

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I went with Devourer and got lucky: she played Numbnail, but Boss cards are immune (as are Miniboss and Effect cards, Numb only works on the green Attackers), so we sneak through a win anyway.

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Once again, a choice: Thief or Weevil to pair with Bandit?

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I went with Weevil given Arie's been playing a lot of plants, and it definitely worked out (although Thief would have won here too). We're on a roll!

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It's only round 5, and we're already on the verge of winning... can we do it?

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With five cards in hand we still have a few different combinations we can try, but given how things have been going, we should probably pick one that includes the Weevil...

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It didn't actually pay off here (and, interestingly, Arie's playing Weevils of her own!), but we still managed to win on points. (The miniboss she played was Mothiva; Arie's deck definitely seems to be themed around Chapter 2/Golden region enemies.)

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And with that, we win! I'm pretty sure this was a first for me, I don't remember ever getting a clean 5-round win before. There was a lot of luck involved in that, though, don't expect it to be a regular occurrence. I don't know of a way to do it reliably!

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Image You had us by the ropes, um...
Image Heheh, that's Arie to ya. It's my joy to upgrade your card!

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Yet another card upgrade!

Image Good job, Leif! We're halfway there!
Image My card master hint is: "Taking shade, always cool."
Image That could mean anything!
Image You'll figure it out, I'm sure!
Image Still, thank you. We are closer to the tournament goal.
Image By the way, Leif, if you ever want to play again, just drop the word, eh?
Image Hopefully soon. But for now, we'll be on our way.

Like Chuck, Arie will now become available for rematches whenever we want. Her hint is a lot more cryptic, though, this one is going to be tricky.

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Proof of concept.

If we decline:

Image Aw. Tell me when you're ready then!

Accepting has new dialogue:

Image Alrighty! Let's go!

And winning the rematch gets:

Image Beat again! It was too fun. Won't you take this?

Like Chuck, she'll reward us with 10 berries for subsequent wins.

Lose to Arie, either in the original or in the rematch, and you see this exchange:

Image Good duel, eh? Maybe next time you'll win.
Image Tsk...

Arie, for better or worse, doesn't have a whole lot of personality in these exchanges aside from being nice and pleasant regardless of the outcome. I guess that's still something?

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Anyway, that's all for here. Let's be on our way.

Image 37 - Defiant Root

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The cryptic clue Arie gave us is actually pointing at this mosquito. I guess this area is in shade now that I look at it, but it's not something I'd really have thought of; it's easier to stumble across him than actually solve the clue, I think. (I put this quest off so I could do the whole thing in one update; if I'd been playing normally, I'd have taken care of Chuck and Arie prior to reaching Defiant Root the first time, and learned this guy was a Card Master in the course of talking to everyone.)

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Image You're quick on the uptake. Ever heard of the Card Masters?
Image You're talking to the one and only.
Image A-Aren't there four?

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If we decline:

Image Tch. Don't bother me, then.

But of course we're going to accept.

Image Feel the sting of a pro player!

Image Click me for video!

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

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This deck's been working out well so far, let's keep going with it.

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Shall we play Weevil, or Weevil?

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I guess we play Weevil. It wasn't enough, though. (As you might expect from finding him in Defiant Root, Shay is partial to enemies from the desert.)

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I'm never sorry to see Monsieur Scarlet in my hand.

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That said, he only gets us a push here. This match isn't going our way.

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Out of the potential plays here, I thought Devourer was probably the strongest option, and went with that in an attempt to mitigate Shay's early lead.

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It's a close one, but it works out. Burglar counts as a Bug, so Devourer's bonus is online.

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I don't think any of our options here are great, really.

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I went with double Thief because it was more likely to win than using Weevils would be (Shay hasn't played any Plant cards yet), and at least playing two cards means we'll draw two new cards next turn, instead of one if we played Burglar (there's a maximum hand size of 5 and you don't draw cards if there's no room). As expected, though, we lose.

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This hand at least gives us a way to take advantage of all our TP.

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Ouch, still a push. Shay's putting up more of a fight than the others.

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With 7 TP, we can pair Ahoneynation with another card this turn.

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I went with Weevil just to get rid of one of them; it's the weaker play, but that didn't end up mattering. This came down to the coin flips: if we'd won both with Ahoneynation, we'd have taken the round, but only one came up heads and that wasn't enough.

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That looks better. We're still behind, though. Let's go for broke and make the strongest play we can.

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That's a win. Barely, but I'll take it.

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Lots of options here, this is a strong draw.

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It turns out Shay does have some plants in his deck! Good thing, too, because we needed all the bonuses we could get to fight through what he played this turn (he won the coin flip on Cactiling for 4 defence).

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We can't quite use all our TP this turn (a common problem now that we've reached the cap of 10 each turn), but we can get close. Will 9 attack be enough? We're up against his Boss card...

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It doesn't actually matter! This is another preview of a Bounty boss we haven't fought yet. Tidal Wyrm is an interesting card: it's weak attack-wise, but it literally Numbs everything it can. It's pretty close to a silver bullet for the kind of deck I'm playing right now (at least our Weevils and Boss/Miniboss cards could get past it, but that's it, and we didn't have any of those this turn: it nullifies two-thirds of the cards in this deck!).

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Now we're into the phase of things where we're drawing 3 cards per turn, and can almost always afford to play them all. We're down to our last HP, we don't have much of a choice.

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That round was pretty tight! We barely won, especially when you factor in this depended on a bunch of coin flips: we won one of two with Abomihoney, and Shay lost his for Cactiling. Also, the Weevil's bonus is what pushes us beyond a tie.

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It's all down to this! We're both on 1 HP. (Though, as we drew Monsieur Scarlet and enough cards to reach 7 ATK, we could theoretically lose and keep going, the healing applies regardless.)

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In retrospect, going with Devourer was the riskier play here. I'm not entirely sure why I chose that over Burglar (which would have guaranteed the heal to prevent a loss), but it worked out. We win the match by the skin of our teeth!

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This one was a nail-biter. I definitely find Shay tends to give me more trouble than the other Card Masters; between the fact he consistently puts up respectable numbers with various bandits, and Tidal Wyrm just sometimes saying "you lose", I don't find it too unusual to lose here sometimes. At least if you do, there's no penalty, you can just keep trying until you pull it off.

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Image Your overconfidence was your defeat.
Image I learned a strategy or two, I'll give you that. I, Shay, shall upgrade your card on my duelist's honor.

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Image Woah! Only one left!
Image You still need to defeat the remaining masters. But they don't get any better than me, really.
Image Here's a good hint. "Someone shy, but when challenged, changes completely."
Image It pains me to say there's no shortage of shyness in this kingdom. Thank you for your help, however.
Image No problem. If you're up for another game, just say it. I'll give you a good fight.
Image Hmm. Anytime, Shay.

Shay's hint is even less helpful than the one that led us to him. We do have a lead, but it's not thanks to him: Doctor HB's assistant Crow mentioned she might be able to help us, so we should check with her.

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Like the other two before him, Shay will offer us rematches now.

If we beat him:

Image So I lose again... Here's something for your trouble. I did come up with some tricks.

A win is worth 10 berries.

If Shay wins, either in the original match or a rematch, you'll see this exchange:

Image Ngh... Strong.
Image The title of Card Master isn't given to just anyone. Best of luck next time.

That's Shay. He's a bit arrogant, but honestly, he deserves it, he's definitely the one who usually gives me the most trouble.

Image 40 - High Above, Bee Kingdom

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Let's head to the lab and see what lead Crow had for us.

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I quite like how her whole demeanour changes here (even if it's a bit weird that this conversation seems to have started partway through), and that the Doctor reacts in the background.

Image This dueling aura!
Image When it comes to cards... I won't hold back! I won't be defeated!
Image We expect nothing less of a card master!
Image Please be quiet...
Image Prepare as you must. This will be a duel for the ages!

So Crow herself is the final Card Master. Shay's clue does make sense, but it's sneaky: we couldn't have seen the change until after already finding her!

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If we decline:

Image W-well... Come back if you change your mind.

But of course we're accepting. We're nearly finished!

Image Do your worst!

Image Click me for video!

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

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One last hurrah for this Devourer deck, it's been pretty good to us.

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This isn't a promising start, she's got her Boss already (though she probably can't afford it for a turn or two at least). Let's do what we can.

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I wasn't confident in Weevil here, but it turns out Crow couldn't afford to play anything and we win by default.

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(Where'd all the spectators come from? And did we kick the Doctor out of her own lab? She isn't anywhere to be seen...)

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Playing a 3-attacker on turn 3 is usually pretty good.

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Bee-Boop is a weird card. It flips a coin to determine whether to give ATK or DEF, but it more or less just counts for 1 either way (I guess DEF is slightly worse since it can't win if the opponent's ATK totals or is reduced to 0, but that's pretty marginal), so it doesn't matter very much. Neither outcome can compete with a simple attacker.

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I'm pretty sure the game is trying to tell me to do something here.

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It ends up being a push.

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Let's go for the most ATK here.

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This round was actually pretty close! If Crow had won the coin flip on Denmuki, she could've numbed one of our cards and then won the round (or tied it, if I'd remembered to put the weaker card in front, but I didn't).

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Once again, let's just do the obvious thing.

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Though this one also came down to chance. Crow's Ahoneynation won one of two coin flips; if she'd won both (admittedly a 25% chance), she could have taken the round. (Also, I keep forgetting to put the weaker card in front, it could definitely matter!)

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We're getting close! This could be the winning round.

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She just barely squeaks by, though.

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I think it's time for the trusty double Burglar, that's usually reasonably reliable.

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Though Crow sneaks by once again! Her deck is definitely focused on enemies from the Honey Factory; the Heavy Drone gets bonuses for fellow robots, as you might have expected.

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Let's just go for maximum power here (and include Monsieur Scarlet, because we can).

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It's enough! (Though once again, I notice now that I put the stronger attacker card in front, and that had Crow won her coin flip, that mistake would have gotten me a tie instead of a win. Marginal advantages matter!)

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Regardless, we triumph over Crow. (She usually puts up a bit of a better showing than this, honestly, though to an extent she's at the mercy of playing a lot of capricious coin-flip cards.) We have now defeated all four Card Masters!

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Image You're the strongest opponent we've faced.

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Image But that was a great duel! U-Um, I'll upgrade your card now.

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Image We've done it.
Image And that's it. You've got a full card!
Image Show it to the old sailor at the pier. He'll take you to Metal Island for real cheap!
Image Really? That's awesome!
Image We can finally test our mettle against the tournament's best.
Image Good luck! You're strong, Leif. B-but you're gonna need it!

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After receiving the Full Suit Card, we get a message that the quest "Card Masters of Bugaria" has been completed. It turns out the quest isn't to win the tournament, just to qualify for it (though, of course, we'll be participating in the tournament). More importantly, this qualifies us for the discount ticket to Metal Island, which is what we were more immediately after.

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Crow also, like the others, offers to rematch us whenever now. She'll give us the same line on declining as before, but has new dialogue otherwise:

If we accept:

Image Now you're talking! Time for you to lose!

If we win the rematch:

Image Darn, I lost again. H-Here, you won this!

After which she will pay us the usual 10 berries.

If we lose to her, either in the initial match or the rematch:

Image You're no match for me at all!
Image I liked her more when she was quiet.
Image That really was a great duel, we can't deny it.
Image Come back when you have better cards! T-That should help a little.

Crow actually offers some advice after beating us, unlike the others. I do like this conversation (though I suspect most people will never see it).

While I chose to face the Card Masters in the intended order for the LP, you don't actually have to, you can approach them in whatever order you like and the game will let you do it. The dialogue is barely altered, and they'll each give the same hints regardless of whether or not you've already beaten the one the hint points to, but you certainly can. Also, Card Master #4 being Crow is the reason the quest can't be completed until Chapter 4: she was previously too busy with the factory core reconstruction project.

Now that we have our Full Suit Card, let's head to the pier.

Image 10 - The Sailors' Pier

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The sea captain is certainly singing a different tune now! 90 berries is a lot more reasonable than 300. (Were you expecting it to be free?) If, as a player, you balk at paying for this, trust me that doing so does cause the game to give you something of value later, you just won't know immediately. Also, of course, it's necessary to finish Vi's quest for paint, so of course we're paying.

Image ...That's all berries accounted for. Hop on! Our destination: Metal Island!

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I'd originally planned to cover Metal Island in this update as well, but I had more to say about the Spy Cards gameplay than I expected and it's already getting quite long, so I'm going to leave it here. Next time... Metal Island!

Also, Voting Time! We'll be doing the Spy Cards tournament soon. Do you want to see more of the Venus deck? Did you like the Devourer deck I used here and want to see more of that? Do you have an idea for another deck you'd like to see me try? Tell me what you think!

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The amominhoney is too random for my taste. Do you have a different mini-boss or boss to swap in, that still works with Devourer deck? (Or one you can get on the way to the tournament?)

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Kacie wrote:
Fri Jul 23, 2021 6:14 am
The amominhoney is too random for my taste. Do you have a different mini-boss or boss to swap in, that still works with Devourer deck? (Or one you can get on the way to the tournament?)
Right now, it's awkward. The best option I really have is swapping in either Zasp or Mothiva, but that then strongly encourages me to swap out Scarlet for the other one (the two of them are a bit lacklustre on their own, and much better if played together, but relying on drawing them both is unreliable in its own way). I might do that, though.

There are a couple of miniboss cards I could acquire by advancing the story further, but if I'm going to do that, I may as well put off the tournament until much later in the game.

That is actually something I'm considering, and we're having a bit of debate about it in the parallel thread on SA. Does anyone here want to weigh in? (Quick summary: next update is going to cover Metal Island regardless, the tournament wouldn't be until the following one regardless. The tournament has to be played with the same deck for all rounds, so it'd basically let me show off one more deck; the question is whether it's preferable to put it behind us now, or put it off so I can come back with more card variety, as well as not having too much Spy Cards content in a row.)

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I think doing the tournament later with a bit more card variety would be nice.

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I also agree that doing the tournament later with more card variety would be nice. It lets you show off more of the cards, too.

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Come back to the tournament later, I say.

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31: Metal and Paint (Part 1)

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Last time, we finally got on the boat to Metal Island. Let's get off and see what awaits us.

Image 72 - Summer Holiday at the Metal Island (TM)

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The captain drops us off at a dock. It's hard to tell from this view, but the island seems to be some kind of metal dish, or maybe a wheel or hubcap? Which suggests that this body of water probably isn't very deep, it doesn't seem to be floating.

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Image Don't take all day.

The captain will wait to take us back whenever we want. That said, do not say yes here. He specifically sold us one round-trip journey, and he'll charge us to come back.

There's an area banter to start things off:

Image Goodness! They've truly created an artificial island!
Image Is that... safe?
Image Well, everyone seems quite calm, so...
Image Sorry guys. If it sinks I'm flying away!
Image No you're not. You're drowning with us.
Image Nooooo!

Let's have a look around! It's a new area, there are lots of people to meet and things to see. And we need to find a toy shop of some kind, so Vi can finally get the paint for Jaune.

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A new town-type area means there are lots of people to meet; let's start with this person.

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There is a general theme that emerges very quickly from the NPC dialogue around here. That's all this person has to say, but the banter will elaborate:

Image Hmph. If you're going to complain, you should stay firm and skip the food.
Image ...Well, have you TASTED Master Slice's food!? It's... it's exquisite!
Image I thought you were the one with, like, dignity and stuff, Kabbu.
Image E-Err... I-It's just food...

We'll have to investigate this Master Slice person. Though I'm curious how Kabbu knows this, or would have had an opportunity to taste it before. I guess he's never explicitly said he's never been here before, but you'd think he would have if he had? (Maybe this banter was written assuming we'd see it later in our visit?)

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There are a few ant soldiers about. This one warns us not to fall off.

Image Hmm. Does a place like this truly need guards?
Image Feels like the price of the ferry weeds out troublemakers already.
Image They're insurance. If a rich evildoer came along, who would protect Metal Island!?
Image ...Us! We'd get rich!

The banter reveals that Vi views altruism and extortion as inherently linked.

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Let's head onto the island proper.

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Another guard here has only this to say (and we get the same banter for all the guards).

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To our left is this little stall. Could be promising, but let's check in with the soldier first.

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She's apparently managing the area's quest board. Yes, there's one here too (but no, there aren't any new sidequests for us yet).

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Let's check the banter before talking to the merchant.

Image That's a lot of Mothiva dolls. Ew.
Image ...What's that other plush? Looks a bit like Venus.
Image Perhaps it is another culture's harvest goddess!
Image Huh. Wonder if this one's real, too...

Interesting question. It's hard to see, but if you look closely, there do seem to be flower dolls in the chest with all the Mothivas. Anyway, let's chat up the merchant.

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Image Hey! This must be the place!
Image If you sell any toys, we demand that you show them to us.
Image What a cute little trio! This one's just for you all!

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Image Hmm, well. It's no Bug Ranger merchandise, but...
Image Shut it, Kabbu. It's perfect! How much is it?

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Image It's at half price today, for 400 berries.

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Vi really doesn't like hearing this. You can tell by the dramatic zoom the camera does.

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Image You've got, uh, anything more accessible?
Image This one's on sale! My prices start at 600, you know.
Image Welp. We've hit a dead end.
Image There must be some other merchant...
Image None as good as I, I assure you!
Image ......
Image Y-You tried, Vi. It's going to be okay.
Image We'll figure something out.

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Image This is one purchase you won't regret!

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Image Pleasure doing business!

Uh...

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Image Our funds are fine, so...
Image It's my savings.

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Image So no one can say I can't do something!
Image But it takes a really long time...
Image And you've taken such a great chunk of them for this?

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Image But I've known her all my life, so... I want to fix things.
Image We're an awesome team! So I'll raise the berries again.
Image But friendship is priceless, right? We're impressed.
Image I'm... I'm moved to tears...
Image Let's get back to Ann so we can do all the trades!

And there you have it! I always enjoy this scene. We've already had plenty of hints that Vi is (unbeknownst to us as the player) gathering things for herself, she has her own stash of items for her healing move, etc, so it's not a complete surprise she has her own money. (For better or worse, this scene is unchanged even if you come here able to afford the item, Vi always buys it herself.) Character development!

We'll deliver this soon, but first, we have an island to explore.

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Talking to the merchant again just gets this line. Also, if we'd talked to him without progressing Vi's Request first, we could have seen this brief exchange:

Image Hello! I've got the coolest merch of all!
Image No Bug Rangers... hard pass from me.

Kabbu, you already have one.

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Across the way is a stall that sells tea. We've seen these items before; it's cheaper to make them yourself if you know how, but this can still be convenient.

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Image Are you fellow tea lovers? While tea is easy to make from boiling leaves...
Image You have to mix them properly to bring out their true flavor.
Image Would you fancy some? Press (A) near a brew to let me know.

The shopkeeper's dialogue hints at the recipe, to help us figure it out if we didn't already know it. Also, I can't help thinking "Tea Heaven" is a reference to Teavana, a now-defunct chain of loose tea shops (which personally tickles me to see, I actually worked for them at one point). Teavana survives today only as a Starbucks product line.

Her stock is pretty straightforward:

Image Burly Tea (32 berries)
Image Spicy Tea (32 berries)

These can be useful (if sometimes awkward: they can get in the way of status-based strategies, if you just want a status cure with upside, they're great), but I don't feel the need to buy any. Let's check the banter:

Image The smell's nice. We don't come across tea this high quality often.
Image Ah... it's true. A nice, relaxing brew would do wonders for my wings!
Image I want a super spicy one! To get me all pumped up!

This is in-character, but I wonder if it's meant to be a vague gameplay hint too, suggesting it'd be a good idea to give Vi things that boost her attack? Also, hey, Kabbu does know he has wings.

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Moving right along, we can find this interesting fellow.

Image That's a very round beetle! Kinda looks like a big Tangy Berry!
Image I heard that to the far east there is a land where bugs are shaped like fruit. Perhaps he came from over there.
Image We must visit that land sometime. Do you think they have bug shaped fruits there?
Image I'd rather not find out...

Bug-shaped fruits? I can't even imagine it. (He's obviously from the same region as Tanjerin.) Let's talk to him.

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Image Shiver me timbers! These are really rare an' not found anywhere else! Well, yer loss.

Skirby (get it?) sells Tangy Berries! Look at them all in the crate behind him. He's not lying about the exclusivity either, this is the only place to buy them. This is easily the most reliable way to get them in bulk if you want to make a lot of Queen's Dinners. Or, of course, if you haven't had luck finding Golden Seedlings, you can get one from him to complete the cooking quest line. I've bought so many in prior playthroughs I lost count. 40 berries is expensive, but it's reasonable for how useful they are, and we'll be rolling in berries soon enough.

I don't buy any now, but I'm sure I will soon enough. Getting access to Skirby is one of the main attractions of coming here.

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Samira's here too. She doesn't have anything new to say, just her usual offer to play songs, but there's a new banter:

Image Woah! Samira's here!? Did she get a discount!?
Image She must be doing incredibly well!
Image These are really high profile clients. It's thanks to you, Vi.
Image Nah. It's all 'cuz she worked hard!

That's a cute one. (If she is doing well, it's not because Team Snakemouth have been paying her... I haven't been buying songs.)

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Let's check out this building.

Image 27 - Kut it Up!

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Coming inside, we can see a mantis chef making dishes to go on a carousel (I guess Bugaria doesn't have a sushi equivalent, that's usually what I'd expect to see served in this style).

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This is Master Slice! Although there isn't any way to actually get food here, or interact with him in any way, which is a bit strange. It's just a set piece.

Image That slicing technique... it's like Kut's.
Image They look alike too. He's probably, like, his master!
Image I heard Kut and his master got into a fight...
Image There's many things I'd love to ask him, but he seems quite focused. Let's let him cook peacefully!

Some interesting little tidbits here, though as far as I know there's no way to follow this up or try to resolve the conflict. It's just background detail. I've said before how much I appreciate the way these things make the world feel bigger than the game (but then sometimes it's frustrating, because it piques curiosity and then does no more).

Let's see who else is in here.

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Image ...They're saying I'm missing a "boss card"!? Hello!? My "Spuder" card's legit!
Image All a conspiracy, I tell ya. Everyone's trying to keep Jerry down!
Image Bleh... time to eat the rage away...

Heh. That again.

Image "Spuder"? Did he mean... the Spider boss card!?
Image No way, that card's got the wrong colors. It's a fake.
Image People care enough to make fakes of these...?

Oh, Vi, you have no idea. I do think it's quite cute they put in a reference to the boss's name change by having it be a counterfeit card.

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There's food around, so of course so is Dan.

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Image But here I am, pondering how they would taste mixed with other rare berries, or even rare seeds.
Image Maybe they can be mixed with some explosives to really blow out the flavor!

That's a pretty explicit hint to some recipes that we've yet to make. Rare cherries? We haven't seen those yet, we'll definitely have to keep an eye out so we can try them.

Image He's here, too? Now we know he's a true gourmet.
Image What, just 'cuz he spends money to eat?
Image Many people boast being refined but wouldn't make the sacrifice to travel here.
Image Truth be told, I do believe I enjoy eating...
Image But if our travels hadn't brought us here, I wouldn't have tried to eat Master Slice's food!
Image You two think about this way too hard...

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Last up is this fellow.

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Image I may be far from the ol' Golden Hills, but I still thank good Venus before each meal!

(Why does John talk like this when nobody else we met in Golden Hills did?) Let's check the banter.

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Image Oh dear. Are you going to start speaking like that?
Image Maybe.
Image It's not like I mind, but... it'd be a bit weird?

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I have to say I'm with Leif on this one :)

Image 72 - Summer Holiday at the Metal Island (TM)

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Heading back outside the restaurant, I want to briefly draw attention to this fence. There's a secret here, but we don't have the necessary ability to get past it yet.

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There are a bunch more people to meet in this little park area.

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More hints about cherries. (You can see him holding them.) Drew here is the son of Tee, the tea shop proprietor.

Image Woah! Dark Cherries are super expensive, y'know!? And he's got tons!
Image He doesn't seem too excited about it.
Image Bleh... rich kids don't know how good they have it.

Now that I think about it, it's a bit strange Vi is so familiar with the dynamics of inherited poverty. She's from a eusocial species that doesn't exactly have family units, the bees more or less live in a commune. Maybe she spent a lot of time watching visitors?

Image

Image I never thought I'd see the day! Everything is GREAT!

This person, by contrast, is very impressed with everything. She has literal stars in her eyes!

Image Heheh. It's nice to meet other first time visitors!
Image Yeah. Everyone else seems used to the glamour.
Image I don't think I'll ever get tired of eating fancy stuff! ...You think she will?

Vi asking the hard questions.

Image

There's also a statue we can inspect in the centre here.

Image

As you may have predicted, it's a Discovery.

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Image

Image

It doesn't tell us much we don't know (though the fact the spectators apparently enjoy watching a game they don't understand is interesting; wouldn't be the first time). Interestingly, there's no conversation to go with this discovery like there has been for most others, and checking the statue again just shows us the inscription again.

Image

Our slacker friends are here (you might've seen them peeking into one of the prior screenshots). They've certainly been moving about; last we heard, they were supposed to be headed to the desert to investigate the Sand Castle more (if we went there, we'd see them too). Let's see what they have to say.

Image

Image It's doing us much good. Are you vacationing as well?
Image Nah. We're trying to get a boat!
Image A-A boat? What for?
Image There is more to Metal Lake than this resort.
Image We've heard a powerful monster lies hidden in a nearby island's cave.
Image Anyone who's gone after it ended up missing!
Image Woah... As if lakes weren't bad enough already.
Image Thanks. We'll keep it in mind while traveling.
Image If you find a boat, please be safe!
Image That we will. If you find a boat, be safe as well.

They're serving in their usual role of giving hints toward the Bounties. Specifically, one of them is on another island in the Metal Lake, and will be accessible once we have a ship of our own (the captain won't go there). I point that out because I've seen people misinterpret this hint and scour Metal Island itself, assuming they must be missing some secret.

This is also, of course, a bit of tantalising foreshadowing that we will at some point be able to get our own vessel and explore the rest of the sea.

Image

Image

They each have a brief line if we talk to them again. Both of them are very self-aware, aren't they? (How'd they get here without a boat, though?)

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Tucked away on the west side is this fellow. Let's see what he's about.

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He's another merchant. His seeming speciality is selling items with incredibly vague descriptions; let's not buy this.

Image Oof. Don't just say that to an old bug!

Let's see the banter.

Image You can't sell items with vague descriptions! It's bad business!
Image B-But what could they be!? Are you not curious!?
Image Hand over your berries, Kabbu. We'll handle the funds.

Image

Heh, this guy's got Kabbu's number. It is at least somewhat intriguing, though we're unlikely to make out well from this. Still, let's find out. (Please ignore inconsistencies in my berry count, I came back later to buy these and am splicing the footage in here.)

Image

Image Oh! Thank you. Here it is.

Image

Oh. That definitely wasn't worth it.

Image I still have something to sell that might interest you. Come back later if you want to know what it is, will ya?

In for a penny, in for a pound. Let's keep making bad decisions!

Image Ooooh... Oh, hm. Hello. Do you want some other trinket I have?

Image

A "weird berry". Sure. How could this go wrong?

Image Oh! Thank you. Here it is.

Image

A bit overpriced, but that's a useful thing at least.

Image I still have something to sell that might interest you. Come back later if you want to know what it is, will ya?

Let's keep going!

Image

At least this should be the last one, hopefully. How bad could it be?

Image Oh! Thank you. Here it is.

Image

And this one is actually respectable! Shell Ointment is a tricky item to use well, but it's interesting, and this is the second and last one we can get for a while (they will eventually become renewable, but that's in Chapter 6).

Image You sure got everything I had! Thanks for coming all the way over to talk to me.
Image No one seems to care about an old bug anymore...
Image Bugs these days are always so busy betting on those card games, I don't get the appeal at all!
Image Oh, here I go rambling again. Please make sure to visit in the future!

He gets quite a bit more talkative after we buy his last item. That said, there's a bit more to this, because we can talk to him again:

Image Ooooh... Oh, hm. Hello.
Image I don't have anything else to sell, but you lot remind me of this fly lad I met once.

Image

Image I wonder what became of him after that... Last I heard, he headed north or something...
Image Oh, don't mind me. Just going back to my memories! Go on, you lot! Have fun with all that stuff!

This speech is the main reason to buy this guy out; you won't hear any of this otherwise. There are some tantalising backstory hints in there, though it pertains to a character we haven't met yet so I don't want to say anything else.

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There's one last person to meet out here.

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Image You won't get much enjoyment here unless you have many berries to spare.

That's all he has to say. Yes, I think we've gathered this, thank you very much.

Image This beetle exudes... a business aura. Importance!
Image Hey, those medals he's wearing... "VIP"!
Image You seem to be right, Kabbu. This must be a very influential bug.
Image Heheh. Hope he posts a quest. Think of the reward!

I don't quite know what to make of this speculation, because nothing ever comes of this. He's just here. Maybe there was originally a quest line planned that got cut?

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That's all for the exterior portion of Metal Island, so let's see what this building is about.

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Image I've never seen such a massive inn!
Image Bugs travel across the sea just to stay here... Can it be that great?
Image We won't know if we don't stay, right?

Hmm. Looks like this is an upscale hotel of some kind. Amber's here, too, if we need to access our storage. There's a banter about her too:

Image I wish Ms. Amber could enjoy the resort...
Image She's probably getting paid a billion berries to come here, it's fine!
Image You're sure it's not a billion berries to GET here...?

Anyway, let's see what this is.

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Image One room for three costs 40 berries for the night. It includes a hand-made dish by the one and only Master Slice.

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That is very expensive, can't say I'm interested right now. If you do choose to stay, the item you get is a Image Tangy Jam. This is not a bad item (12 TP and cures Numb), and you're more or less getting it at cost, but it's still expensive for what it is.

Image ...

Image

The innkeeper really doesn't like that we declined. Let's check the banter:

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Image Vi, what's gotten into you?
Image I can tell he only treats others nice if they've got berries! It's disgusting!
Image Since getting here is so expensive, he probably just thinks we're being cheap...

There are definitely two sides to this one, it's interesting to see them discuss it. Anyway, let's have a look around.

Image

Image They say you need to prove yourself by defeating the four masters to enter...
Image But even before challenging them, you need an invite card from someone who's already defeated them.
Image It's so alluring! So exclusive! Ohohoho!

Should we tell her?

Seems like a bit of a missed opportunity for her not to have new dialogue if we've already done this, but clearly she's meant to hint at how the quest works for people who didn't find it yet (if they somehow managed to get to Metal Island first).

There's also a banter, of course.

Image What's that in her hand?
Image Oh, that's a fan! They've become quite trendy lately.
Image You wave them quickly to blow refreshing air into your face!
Image Interesting invention...
Image It's not hot in here, though. She's probably just showing off...

Fans are a recent invention, apparently.

Image

When we approach the door on this side, the guard bars the way with his staff. What's going on here? Let's see the banter first.

Image Is that... custom made armor? To guard a card game?
Image Are you implying Spy Cards does not deserve such a thing?
Image Ah, um...
Image Of course it doesn't! It's just a children's card game!
Image Tch. You're so clueless...

Vi, those are fighting words. (I think she knows that, too, and is trying to get under Leif's skin.)

Let's talk to him.

Image

Let's ask what he means, even if we can guess.

Image Only those who have defeated all Card Masters of Bugaria and obtained the proof of their skill may pass beyond this gate!
Image Begone if you have no proof!

(You know, this raises questions as to how the spectators get in...)

Image

Image Without proof, you may not pass! Begone!

Okay, okay.

Image

Image

Let's show him some wrong items first, as you do. How about an Explorer Permit? That's proof of something, surely?

Image What is this!? This is not proof! Don't waste my time!

(You get this for almost every wrong item.)

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We have to try this, of course.

Image ...That girly doll is not proof!

Image

Image Woah! Brutal!
Image Don't waste my time! Bring me proof or you shall not pass!

This one's fun on several levels (though I don't exactly approve of the gender-shaming aspect, I can't say it's an unrealistic thing for someone to say?); admittedly, mostly I enjoy the guard doing a Gandalf impression.

Image

Obviously, the card is what we need to show him.

Image ...

Image

Image You are welcome in the great hall of the Spy Card Champions! Please proceed.

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He will now allow us to pass by and enter the card tournament arena. I have no intention of completing the tournament right now, but let's head inside and check the place out.

Incidentally, I've checked and the guard has no special dialogue for being shown intermediate forms of the card (e.g. Blank Card, 1-Suit Card, etc), he just treats it as any other item.

Image 34 - Dodgy Business

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Fancy! It's a big theatre. There's also a save crystal here, which is actually quite helpful if you want to reset rather than lose your entry fee if the tournament goes badly.

Image This is it. The Card Master tournament.
Image Bring out your strongest cards!
Image You've got our support, Leif!

A bit premature, since we're not playing just yet, but that's a cute one.

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Let's see who's in here.

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Image I haven't been back to the homeland in decades. I wonder if life is better there nowadays.

He's from the same region as Kabbu. Let's check the banter.

Image ...

Image

Image Kabbu? What's wrong?
Image N-Nothing...
Image Huh...

There's definitely something he's not telling us about his journey here, judging by the strength of that reaction. But we already more or less knew that.

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Who's this fellow?

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Image My grandpa used to be the best Spy Cards player there was! He never lost a single battle!
Image Before he retired, he gave me his deck, something he has been building for years! And with this...
Image Watch me, Gramps! I will win using this special deck!

That's a bit of a pointed reference. If you had any doubt, this character's name is Bu-Gi. Yeah. There's also, of course, a banter:

Image It seems we're not the only ones with a lot of support.
Image Everyone here fought hard for their spot. It won't be easy!
Image You've got this, though! No problem!
Image ...It seems our support may just be the best in the hall.

This one's cute. It's nice seeing the team support each other.

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There's somebody else on this side.

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Image Unless you are a champion, you and I have zero business between us.

This person wants nothing to do with us.

Image How rude.
Image Who does she think she is!?
Image We'd do well not to pay her dismissiveness any mind...

Moving on.

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This person has even less to say.

Image This Ladybug has suffered so much... We can feel it.
Image We must not let our guard down. That pain's carried over to his deck.
Image It's just cards!

That's at least a bit more interesting.

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Over on this side, we have someone else.

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Image Don't get in my way, then. I will win, you hear! That reward is MINE!

The other competitors certainly span a range of temperaments.

Image What a poisonous aura... toxic, even.
Image I do get a feeling of condescension...
Image It's gonna make winning much sweeter!

Honestly, people like this aren't much fun to play with, win or lose.

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Closer to the stage, we have a few more people. Finally, someone nice?

Image We hope to match with her in the tournament. What a good aura.
Image Is it really ok to be so relaxed?
Image Some battle for glory... She seems to only want a good match!

You know, I'm genuinely not sure if Leif's supposed to be doing anything magical when he refers to characters' "auras", or if he's just speaking metaphorically. (I also wonder whether he wants to play with her because she seems nice, or because he thinks she'd be easier to beat as a result...)

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We're getting closer to the stage.

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Did you think the devs were only going to reference one card game? This one's a bit subtler, though: we'll eventually learn this bug's name is Johnny. "Johnny" is Magic: the Gathering slang for a creative or offbeat deckbuilder.

Image We admire creativity, but... there is a beauty in playing optimally.
Image If you're trying to win, you can't waste time showing off!
Image This coming from you, Vi?
Image Oi! I always try my super best!

Leif and Vi are definitely closer to the Spike side of things.

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Image I can't stand this, it feels like anything can just crawl out of there!
Image Maybe I should take my business elsewhere.

This person draws our attention to the big crack in the wall. This is worth remembering for later, though we can't do anything about it now.

Image This guy's right to be mad! We pay way too much for the wall to be cracked!
Image Ngh... For some reason I... want to see what's under it!
Image Okay...?

We can't satisfy this curiosity now, but no doubt we'll be back.

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Finally, onstage is the tournament MC.

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Image Here we hold down the Spy Cards Championship.
Image You probably already know that, since you managed to defeat the Card Masters.
Image Let's cut to the chase. If you win the tournament, you can get many, many berries.
Image You will have to fight 3 battles in a row with the same deck. No changing in between.
Image Only one of you can participate, however. So decide who it will be.
Image Hm. Who should play then?
Image ...Uh, Leif. Duh!
Image Mhm. We are ready to start whenever.
Image If you are ready, just say the word. Don't leave our sponsors waiting.

If we talk to him again, he'll offer to start the tournament:

Image

Image Then don't waste my time!

I wasn't planning to do this right now anyway (we have more exploration to do), but I don't even have enough berries on me! The tournament costs 25 berries to enter, and you can play as many times as you want (though there's a special reward the first time you win). We'll be back.

There's also, of course, a banter:

Image He's got class, we'll give him that.
Image In a high-end establishment, even the staff must look the part.
Image I bet the outfit cost more than the ride here...

Anyway, that wraps up what we can see in the Spy Cards arena for now. Let's head back and check out the rest of the hotel.

Image 72 - Summer Holiday at the Metal Island (TM)

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This sign next to the front desk is quite intriguing, wouldn't you say? Let's head east.

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Image If only they knew it's nothing special... So depressing...

This person seems tailored to poke at Vi's issues.

Image Complaining that she has everything... There's no way I'm gonna feel sorry for her.
Image Her problems are... not relatable, yeah.
Image We will probably never understand how she feels, but...
Image Does that truly mean we can't try to empathize...?

"Try" is the operative word there, I suspect.

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There's also a bee working here as a maid.

Image ...
Image What's up? Fancy a bowtie too?
Image I just think it's weird. Leaving the Hive just to work for someone else...
Image She seems quite proud and content. Perhaps it was her dream?
Image Maybe... I don't get it, though...

As you might expect, Vi has a reaction to this.

This is a bit awkward, but I'm running up against the character limit and need to split the post here. Back momentarily.

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31: Metal and Paint (Part 2)

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Toward the far end of the corridor, we start seeing Ant Kingdom workers, as well as rougher terrain. What have they even been doing here? (Did the hotel extend further before they started construction, or was it built right into the bedrock or something?)

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Image I heard she paid over a million berries to get the tunnel done here... Kinda wish they'd gone to our city.

We don't know why Elizant II directed this project, only that she did.

Image All these Ant Kingdom personnel disrupt things a bit, don't you think?
Image Yeah. They still gotta pretty up stuff around the tunnel.
Image It's a small sacrifice. Surely the guests will understand!

That will probably depend on whether they're allowed to use the tunnels, honestly.

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Image We had to patch for leaks pretty frequently... I hope we never have to do that again!

This also makes me wonder about the overall structure here (as I said earlier, this makes me think the body of water surrounding Metal Island must not be very deep?).

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The shortcut back to the mines is already open when we get here. This is, actually, our reward for coming to Metal Island "early" via the boat: if you wait until much later in the game to come here, Diana will be waiting and charge a significant price to open it (I think it's either 120 or 150 berries? I'm not completely sure, I just know it's more than the discounted boat ride). Anyway, once you've come here once, this shortcut means you never need to pay for the boat again, which is good if you want to come back for Tangy Berries or the card tournament.

(Also, I lied earlier. If you go back via the boat accidentally, you can totally go into the mines and get back via this shortcut for free. You just wouldn't have any way of knowing you could do that, and would probably be very frustrated.)

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The shortcut lets us out here, on a different side of this room than we're used to seeing! You can see the symbol for Metal Island on the sign above the exit.

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This miner asks some interesting questions about Elizant's motivations for opening the tunnel. (The real answer is, no doubt, to facilitate the game's fast travel system...)

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Well, we've had our fun on Metal Island for now, let's start making some deliveries!

Image 17 - Ant Kingdom

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First up, of course, is Ann. We can choose items to give her now. Of course, we have to try some incorrect things first, now that we finally can.

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Image Uh, sorry. I think I'm a bit too old for the Bug Rangers...

Image

Image ...Ignore him, he can get very sensitive.

I suppose the Bug Rangers never came up when Kabbu was babysitting her?

If we try other incorrect items:

Image Um... I wouldn't call this "cool". Try again?

Fine, enough dawdling.

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Let's give her the Eastern Doll Vi spent so much of her savings on.

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Image Touch this petal. TOUCH IT!
Image Pretty cool, right? You wanna trade?
Image Heck yeah! Thank you so much!

Image

Image Please take care of it. It's more expensive than we want to admit.
Image I'll treasure it forever!
Image Now we can bring this toy to our fellow bumblebee in Defiant Root!

Well, seems like that worked out well in the end at least.

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If we talk to Ann again, she'll just thank us. Let's head to Defiant Root.

Image 37 - Defiant Root

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Talking to Genow now also gives us an item prompt. We have to try the plushie first, of course.

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Weirdly, he doesn't have a special reaction. This is the same line he says when given any incorrect item.

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Image A little ant toy! It's adorable!
Image It's the cutest, right?
Image Mhm. It's going to look wonderful in my room. Can't wait to tell my teammate!
Image Here. The cloth you wanted.

Image

Image Thank you so much!
Image Excellent. Our goal is finally within reach.

Image

Image It was nice to meet you!

Nice and painless. One step to go, we just need to take the cloth to Dashy in the Golden Settlement and we'll have the paint.

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Talking to Genow again just gets this line.

Let's go.

Image 26 - Golden Lands

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Image

As is tradition, we'll try giving her the plushie.

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Like Genow, Dashy doesn't have a special reaction; this is what she'll say for any incorrect item. I'm not sure why Ann has one but they don't.

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Let's give her the cloth.

Image Oh yes! Feel it... So soft. The patterns flow through me!
Image Uh, glad you liked it.
Image Time for your end of the deal!
Image In a hurry aren't you? You should appreciate art a bit more!
Image Indeed. Or at least Jaune's...

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Image But I won't delay you, I'm very grateful after all. Here.

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Image I hope she likes your gift.
Image ...Me too.

And we have it at last.

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If we talk to Dashy again, this is all she'll say. Let's go deliver the paint!

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Image

There's no music playing in Jaune's room when we enter, and cutscene mode takes over immediately.

Image

Image Are you sure you don't need backup?
Image We've got your back!
Image It's ok. I think I gotta do it myself. Just wait a bit!

Image

Image

Image It seems I wasn't clear enough during our last exchange!

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Image

Image

Image

Image You've gone and gotten it to rub your riches in my face!?

Image

Image

Image I'll get going now...

Image

Image

Image Y-Yeah?
Image Red paint is off season, and hugely requested as it is.
Image I know you didn't just walk into a store for it...
Image Why make an effort after I've gone and shouted at you?

Image

Image ...
Image I AM sorry I said you draw like a weevil. And all the other stuff.
Image You weren't believing me, so I had to go EVERYWHERE for the darn paint!

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(Aha! Finally the game reveals it! Yes, her full name is Violet. But given the context of Jaune's name, it's likely pronounced as in French, 'Vee-oh-lay'. Hence why Vi rhymes with bee.)

Image B-But if I can say something, you were mean to me too!
Image I had dreams and you stomped on them!
Image I'm doing great! I've gone to many places and beat up huge monsters!
Image If... if you had any faith in me I could've done it sooner!
Image I...
Image ......

Image

Image Please forgive me.
Image Only if you forgive me back!
Image ...
Image ...It's settled then. Welcome home.
Image Jaune!

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Aww. (Aside from everything else, this spritework is just wonderful.)

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Image I don't wanna be a jerk, but I didn't miss the Hive at all.
Image ...I did miss you just a little bit.

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Image There's something I've got to finish. And that I want to show you.
Image Oh, uh. Okay. I'll go tell them!

After that heartwarming scene, we fade out and resume with Team Snakemouth waiting outside.

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Image Yup. Let's go back in whenever!
Image That's a relief... Let's meet your sister properly, then.

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Image

We regain control now, but of course we'll just be heading right back in. Presumably some time has passed?

Image 22 - Fine Arts

Image

Image

Image What's the thing you were finishing? The Queen's present?

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Image I've had this project for a long time, but not the heart to finish it...
Image I'm grateful I get to show it to you.
Image Stop hyping it up! I wanna see it!
Image Hehehe. Oh, what a great audience. Get ready!

Image

Image

(Here's a static shot so you can see the painting better, my GIF software washed out the colours a bit in the animated one.)

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Image S-Sniff...
Image Hohoho! Its beauty moves you to tears!
Image Jaune...

Image

Image

Image And you its best explorer!
Image Let's not fight again, alright?
Image Never!

Image

Image

Image

And that's the quest resolved, finally. Vi gets a new skill for this, which we'll check out in a moment. First off, though, what's this achievement?

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For completing Vi's personal quest, we get this. Leif and Kabbu will each have similar ones.

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If we talk to Jaune after completing the quest, she'll let us rest for free here. We're rapidly accumulating locations like this, between Chuck, the house we bought, and now Jaune.

If we say yes:

Image Just make sure not to knock anything over!

What are we doing, sleeping amidst the art supplies?

And if we say no:

Image Alright. Stay as long as you want, if you wish to see me working!

(Despite saying this, we can't actually see her working, she just stands around.)

There are also a couple of new banters. First, for the room:

Image All's well that ends well!
Image You did it, Vi. We're extra happy for you.
Image Heheheh. It was worth every berry!

Aw.

There's also one for Jaune:

Image So... yeah. Jaune's my sis.
Image All bees are sisters, aren't they?
Image Well, yeah. But I grew up with her! So we're special sisters!
Image In a way, it seems bees do choose their family...

We get a better understanding of bees' family dynamics.

Let's check out our new skill.

Image

Sharing Stash is the second (and final) healing skill Vi gets, and it's a huge upgrade over Secret Stash. The description here is a bit misleading: it heals the entire party 2 HP (and cures poison) immediately, and on top of that gives everyone HP regeneration for two turns. Vi can absolutely serve as the party healer if that's a role you want someone in, and she's quite good at it (the main downside is the opportunity cost of her not attacking, honestly). It does cure poison, though, so think carefully about when to use it if you're relying on poison strategies. Also, if you want it to heal more, you can equip Heal Plus on her, that medal works with her skills too.

Let's do a quick demonstration.

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After getting hit a bunch deliberately so there's damage to heal, let's try this out.

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Like Secret Stash, there are a few different items Vi can throw here, though they're functionally identical. It heals immediately on use.

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At the start of the next turn, you can see the icons for HP regeneration. It's also worth noting, if we used Sharing Stash again before the buff wore off, the durations will stack.

This seems like a good place to wrap things up for now. We've finally taken a big step toward solving Vi's family issues and reconciled her with Jaune. See you next time!

User avatar
32: Victory is in the Cards

Image 34 - Dodgy Business

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Last time, we explored Metal Island and the Spy Cards arena, and reconciled Vi with her sister Jaune (finally!). Today, let's do the tournament.

We had a bit of discussion in the thread about whether now was the best time for this, or we should come back later when we have a broader range of cards and decks to choose from. I weighed the options for quite a while (this wasn't an easy decision), but ultimately I think it's better to do it now, and revisit it later (maybe in the postgame) to show off more varied decks. For anyone reading who is bored by the Spy Cards minigame: be forewarned this is another update dedicated to it, but it will be the last one for a while.

Image

Let's do this.

Image Let us start then.

Image Click me for video! (Entire tournament)

Image

The screen fades out briefly and opens on the MC alone on stage, as well as a clear view of the big Spy Cards icon behind him (if we couldn't quite see it before.)

Image

Image Here are today's competitors...

Image

We get to see a full tournament bracket here! There are seven competitors in addition to Leif, and their positions on the bracket are determined randomly, so we could end up facing any three of them (it's a single-elimination tournament). There are some familiar faces there, in addition to the people we met in the arena last update.

We'll be going up against Carmina first. But also, look next to her - that's Janet! (Did you forget Janet?) We met her in the Ant Kingdom plaza as a completely forgettable NPC, complete with dialogue about how forgettable she was, but she gets a cameo here and that's pretty neat.

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The MC introduces Leif and invites him on stage.

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Every opponent gets a brief introduction by the MC before they come on stage.

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And each opponent gets a line before starting the match, with various degrees of smack-talking. Carmina, of course, gets to remind us she taught us the game.

Image And now... Let's start the fight!

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

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As usual, we start off with the question of whether or not to use a previously saved deck. Let's not. This decision's a bit more impactful than last time, because we're stuck with whatever we choose for all three rounds - no switching decks or sideboarding in between!

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That said, I'm not changing things around too much. I've swapped out our previous minibosses for Zasp and Mothiva, for variety and since some commenters seemed interested in seeing them (I do prefer Monsieur Scarlet, but Ahoneynation was disappointing and we don't have any other good standalone ones to go with him). I've also swapped out the attackers for other enemies of similar strength, so at least they'll look different (I'm still avoiding plants, though, Weevils will get you if you don't).

I did try a Bots-based deck first, since that was suggested and it would've been nicely different, but I just couldn't get it to work with the cards we have now. I also thought about bringing back the Venus deck for a last hurrah, but rejected it since it tends to create longer and grindier games (I didn't feel like having to commentate that and I doubt you want to slog through it either; I'd probably have used it if I were playing casually, though). We'll be going with this.

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This isn't a great opener, but at least we have a valid turn one play, so let's do that.

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Lucky. Her play was just slightly worse than ours, I'll take it.

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I have a choice here, I could play either Psicorp or Weevil. Neither is ideal, really (I'd prefer to be able to spend all my TP).

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I went with Psicorp, thinking it was the safer play, and got punished for it. Weevil would've ended up being a push. Oh well, it's still early, and losing an early trick or two isn't unexpected.

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A decent spread of cards here, but there's not much of a decision, our play is obvious.

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Carmina just played a couple of Bee-Boops, that really isn't enough to contest us here.

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Look at that, both Mothiva and Zasp are here! The pair of them is probably the best turn 4 play we could make.

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Pairing the two of them gets an additional +2 attack and Heal 1, both of which are just great. Carmina basically threw the hand, but even if she hadn't, there's not much that can beat this. (Also, she lost her coin flip for Denmuki, but even if she'd won, Miniboss cards can't be Numbed.)

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There are a few different combinations we could play here...

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That said, looking back at it, I'm not entirely sure why I chose this one. It worked out, but I could easily have played a 4 attacker with the Weevil instead, and then paired the other with Arrow Worm the following turn; that's just better sequencing.

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Still, we drew another one, so I didn't get punished for it. Let's play our 7 attack.

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And that's game point. Simple enough. These matches can sometimes take a lot longer than this, I'm not sorry to see one go quickly.

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So far, so good. One round down, two to go.

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When we return from the minigame, our opponents generally have something to say. Some are more gracious than others; Carmina just seems proud of Leif.

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Image Here are the current standings...

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We can get a preview of who we'll be facing here. I suspect it's just random who wins the other matches, but I suppose it could be possible they're simulating them in more detail?

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We're up against Bu-Gi next. Let's see what Grandpa's deck has in store for us.

Image And now... Let's start the fight!

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

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(We don't get asked any questions about our deck here, it's right into the game. Hope you like your deck!)

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Weevil isn't my favourite turn 1 play, but it could work out.

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Seems like Bu-Gi had the same idea, though, so that's a push.

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Fairly straightforward, let's press the attack.

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That didn't go well. Denmuki might flip a coin to see if it numbs, but since it has attack, if it wins the flip against a single attacker card, it'll get a win instead of a push.

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This is a choice, at least. Abomihoney or Devourer?

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Devourer seemed more likely to get a win instead of a push, but it was also more risky - and here Bu-Gi managed to thread the needle with cards that don't count as bugs, and just barely overtake it. We're falling behind!

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Let's see if we can get back in this. At least we have two cards totalling 5 TP this turn.

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I actually remembered to order them with the weaker card in front this time! That made the difference between a push and a win, too.

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Once again, there's an obvious play if we want to use all our TP. Will the Weevil come through this time?

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Yes it will! Although, of course, it didn't actually matter, we'd have won this without its bonus anyway.

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Let's spend all our TP, but save Zasp in case we draw Mothiva later.

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I got careless here and didn't remember to order my cards properly; if he'd won the flip on Denmuki, this would have been a push (but not if I'd put them in the other order). I'll take the win, but I'm not pleased with myself for forgetting. At least we're finally pulling ahead.

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This is an interesting choice. We could play Zasp and Mothiva together, or we could use all our TP with Abomihoney and both Psicorps. They're both good plays, but the minibosses are better (it's 1 point stronger despite costing less TP).

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It ended up being the right call, we'd have ended up with a push the other way. The healing is appreciated too, of course.

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Can we win this turn?

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Looks like it! Sometimes all you need are big numbers.

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That's round two down!

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Bu-Gi is pretty disappointed to lose.

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Image A refresher of the current standings!

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Looks like we're going to be up against Johnny in the final.

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Image And now... Let's start the fight!

Image 35 - Reckless for Glory! (Bonus Boss)

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We do get different music for the final match! If you didn't fight the Devourer and/or Broodmother yet, this might well be your first time hearing this song.

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Looks like we'll be playing Weevil turn one again.

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That was more interesting than it might have been! Johnny wins the coin flip for Acornling, and we get the bonus for it being a plant, but the two of them come out a wash.

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We have a nice basic play for turn two, at least.

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Looks like he had a similar idea. Neither of us are making any progress yet.

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Choosing between Devourer and Abomihoney is a toss-up, really. Devourer didn't work out last time, so let's use Abomihoney I guess?

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It worked out. (Devourer wouldn't have won here, robots aren't bugs.)

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We both have our boss cards this turn. Interesting. I don't think it's right to play ours, though; we don't really have an optimal play regardless this turn, but at least if we play two cards we can draw two fresh ones.

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Looks like Johnny had a similar idea. That's another push.

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Now I think it's time for the Devourer, since we can pair it with another card.

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That works. Amusingly, both of our bonuses ended up triggering here given what he played.

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Mothiva and Zasp together is almost always the correct play if you have them.

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Amusingly, he played Zasp too. The set bonus pushes us over the line to win.

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It's correct to play 8 TP worth of cards this turn since we can, but which one? I ended up going with Weevil, since we have seen some plants from Johnny...

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It ended up being the right decision, though we'd have won either way.

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It's game point. Can we win? May as well play all these cards...

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Johnny finally plays his boss card, though it isn't enough to save him. I'm not really sure what he's trying to do with Venus' Guardian here (did we see any Venus' Buds from him? I don't think so...); I've seen him play a couple of different boss cards in different runs.

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Anyway, we win!

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Johnny is a Johnny to the end.

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Image You gave the crowd the show of a lifetime!
Image Here's your prize, Spy Card Champion!

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That's quite a haul! This was definitely worth it.

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Image 34 - Dodgy Business

Image Show's over! Let us meet again!
Image We could see ourselves coming back quite a bit.

He's not joking, and Leif honestly has the right idea here. We can come back and challenge this tournament again whenever we want, for the same 25 berry entry fee. We can only get the trophy and Crystal Berry once, of course, but each subsequent win still yields 150 berries. This is a very quick way to grind berries if you're so inclined (especially if you enjoy the minigame anyway), and basically means money problems are a thing of the past.

Now that we've won the tournament, a lot of the NPCs in the room have new dialogue. Before we go check that out, though, I replayed the tournament a whole bunch to see every competitor's introduction and lines. (For each competitor, there's the host's introduction, their challenge, then a line when they lose to us, and a line for if they beat us; they'll be in that order.)

Bu-Gi:
Image From the other side... His bonds brought him this far! Bu-Gi!
Image (Challenge) For grandpa... I'll defeat you!
Image (Leif wins) N-No... everyone... I...
Image (Leif loses) GRANDPA! I DID IT!

Carmina:
Image From the other side... The mysterious, the charming, the one and only, Carmina!
Image (Challenge) I brought you into the scene... But I'll crush you nonetheless!
Image (Leif wins) ...The potential I saw in you was true. Good game.
Image (Leif loses) Good showing. Let us play again.

Janet:
Image From the other side... Um... Janet? It's JANET!
Image (Challenge) Oh, hey. I'll do my best, so you do too.
Image (Leif wins) Oh. Hey, you're pretty good. I'll try again later.
Image (Leif loses) Hey, you tried. It was a good try.

Johnny:
Image From the other side... A deckbuilding innovator! Johnny!
Image (Challenge) You better get ready! My deck's unpredictable!
Image (Leif wins) Aww, that worked out better in playtesting...
Image (Leif loses) You didn't see it coming, eh?

Kage:
Image From the other side... A pained soul with a battle-forged deck! Kage!
Image (Challenge) You will feel true despair... when you face my cards!
Image (Leif wins) ...Tch. Have I not suffered enough to earn victory?
Image (Leif loses) You lack hatred, if you're to defeat me...

Ritchee:
Image From the other side... A nomadic bee with exotic power! Ritchee!
Image (Challenge) Hmph. You're my opponent? A shame for the spectators...
Image (Leif wins) WHAT!? HOW... HOW DARE YOU SULLY MY RECORD!!!
Image (Leif loses) ...As expected. Out of my sight.

Serene:
Image From the other side... A good sport, win or lose! Serene!
Image (Challenge) Let's have a good match, alright?
Image (Leif wins) Aww... What a good game. Shame it had to end!
Image (Leif loses) That was so fun! Let's go again!

There's some fun character in those, running the gamut of card player tropes. I'm not sorry to have compiled all of them, but please don't ask me how long I spent grinding through the tournament to see all of them. On the other hand, we're flush with berries now, I guess that's a plus? Ironically, Serene, the friendliest player, was the only one I managed to lose to (it took me three attempts to get her defeat quote with this deck; hers is pretty similar, I saw her use Devourer and Weevil at least).

Now let's check out what everyone has to say.

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Johnny's planning new decks, of course.

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Serene is staying positive.

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Ritchee is very angry.

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Kage is still edgy.

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And Bu-Gi is determined to make a comeback.

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Image Well, not really.
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Vic is certainly singing a different tune now! She wasn't interested in talking to us at all before. (She's not a player, she seems to just be here as a spectator.) This one also gets us a new banter:

Image ...Hmph.
Image Now that you won she's all over you, huh.
Image ...Let's go.

Leif is really not impressed.

Anyway, there's nothing else to see here right now, let's get going.

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Image This time you have 28 Discoveries, last time you had found 25...
Image Sorry... It doesn't seem you have enough for the next reward tier... But don't give up! Keep trying and come back when you do!

On the way back, since we pass through the Ant Palace anyway, I decided to see if we had enough discoveries for the next reward, but we don't quite (I couldn't remember the exact number we had). I don't remember if I've shown this dialogue before, but here it is now regardless.

Anyway, I want to make a quick stop in the plaza.

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Specifically, at Team Snakemouth's house! You might notice something different already... (also, hi Janet!)

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That's right! The empty plaque on our wall now prominently displays the card trophy. That's what it was for. This is entirely cosmetic (and it's all the trophy does, though it also lives in our key items menu still), but hey, it's a reward.

This seems like a reasonable place to end the update. We're done with Spy Cards for now (until much later, when we can play around with new enemies); next time, we'll get back to our main task. Kind of, anyway. We were given the hint that Leif's Bubble Shield will let us traverse brambles... let's see where that takes us. See you then!
Last edited by Explopyro on Tue Aug 31, 2021 8:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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33: An Unknown Dungeon

Image 17 - Ant Kingdom

Last time, we took part in and won the Spy Cards tournament, wrapping up our business on Metal Island for now. Today, we're going to follow up the suggestion to try crossing thorns with Leif's Bubble Shield and see what we can find. But before that, a bit of bookkeeping.

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With our winnings from the tournament, I bought a couple of Tangy Berries from Skirby and went through the process to make them into Queen's Dinners (in addition to some other item management, but most of the rest of this should look familiar). I'm hoping not to need them, but they're handy to have around in case of emergency.

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Also, let's head to the bank and drop off the rest of our winnings.

Image Welcome... Oh, it's you!

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I did say I had to replay the tournament a lot in order to see all the lines, and this was the result. (Also, yes, I'd more or less had to clean out our account for the last couple of updates, between the boat fee, tournament entry, and buying out the shady merchant.) All these berries will no doubt smooth things out somewhat in the future.

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Let's deposit all of it.

Image All done. Your balance is now 595 berries.

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Image Well, yeah. Saving up's really important!
Image You're now a platinum member!
Image That sounds like... w-what's the reward!?
Image Your interest rate's been doubled! And you get this fancy card!

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Image Alright! I'm gonna get way better return on investments!
Image Vi, did you not trust the bank?
Image ...You know about returns on investments?
Image ...Look, what matters is we're getting rich! Heheheh.

This scene triggers the first time you interact with the bank after reaching a balance of 500 berries or more. It can definitely happen earlier in the game than this, depending on how you're managing your funds. Regardless, getting this tends to mark the point at which money problems largely disappear: once you have enough of a balance to get this, the interest payments are usually enough to cover most of your expenses (even after the nerf).

With the card, interest is doubled from 2% to 4% of the balance, paid every half hour according to the ingame clock. The cap of 75 berries per payment still applies, but this will get you to it faster. (In versions prior to 1.1, it was 3% and 6% and had no cap, which got out of control very quickly.)

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Like the Card Trophy, the Platinum Card will live in our inventory for the rest of the game. It doesn't serve any other purpose.

With that out of the way, let's go exploring.

Image 26 - Golden Lands

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Remember this big spike pit in the Golden Path? (If not, this is the area just outside of the Golden Settlement, on the lower level.) There's a sign warning us not to cross, but who listens to signs?

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Can't really see what's on the other side, but let's go for it.

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That definitely looks like a cave entrance!

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Let's see what's inside.

Image 25 - Caves

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This area looks intriguing! You can just about see one of Venus' buds on the upper level there, as well as some Chompers milling about. We also get a discovery as soon as we enter, so let's see what that's about.

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...That's a bit spoilery, game. Presumably we'll be finding one of those in here. Anyway, welcome to the Chomper Caverns! This is essentially an optional mini-dungeon. The game doesn't give many hints that this is here, either, aside from that sign saying not to cross the pit. You can come here any time after finishing Chapter 3 (you need Bubble Shield to reach the entrance, and that unlocks during the factory lockdown).

Let's see what our team think of the place.

Image A cave, all the way out here?
Image It's full of Chompers!
Image This may be the nest where they've all come from. Let's proceed with caution.

Straightforward enough. Let's have a look around.

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That is one big Chomper.

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It's even scarier up close. Let's see what it's about! (It may not come through in the screenshots, but these big chompers like trying to first strike us by spitting seeds. Even with Image Crazy Prepared on, this is still a pain, and makes it tricky to land our own first strikes on them.)

Image 04 - FIGHT!

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Let's spy and see what we're dealing with here.

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Image We're sorry, you poor creature... But we cannot let you stop us!

Kabbu does the honours this time. Chomper Brutes are really beefy for a normal enemy, look at that durability! It's pretty inevitable to take significant attrition (whether HP or TP) dealing with these.

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For now, we'll get to work removing the little Chomper. As plants, they're weak to ice and take an extra point of damage from Leif.

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With a relay from Vi, Kabbu can get through its defence and finish the job.

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On its first turn, the Chomper Brute uses a seed-spitting attack. This launches 2-3 Hard Seeds at us for 3 damage each (we lucked out here and only got two), targeted randomly across our party. If you aren't at least decent at blocking, this can get scary pretty quickly.

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Now that the little one is out of the way, let's get some attacks in.

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Vi relays to Kabbu for the third hit, so she can keep her charge-up since the damage would be the same.

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At the beginning of its turn, the Chomper Brute spits up a seed, which immediately becomes a small Chomper. This is a completely normal small Chomper, unlike the weaker ones the small ones are able to summon.

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Spawning a Chomper doesn't cost it a turn, either, it still gets to attack.

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We're not making much progress here, are we?

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Let's switch Leif into the front and use Icefall. Both varieties of Chomper have low freeze resistance (regular ones have 30%, and Brutes actually only have 10%), so this is usually a good tactic. The small one got lucky here.

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We finish off the little one (Vi relays to Leif because he'll do more damage, what with being in front and the ice weakness).

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Let's try this again. We're slowly making progress. (Thankfully, Chomper Brutes can't heal themselves, unlike the other varieties.)

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I finally decided to just let Vi attack, rather than keep saving up. I think I was trying to conserve TP, which is a bit silly in retrospect.

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Here's the other attack Chomper Brutes have - unlike the biting attacks of the smaller ones, these just do a big head slam, with a base damage of 4.

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9 HP to go.

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I elected to go with normal attacks to save TP, instead of finishing it off.

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Which means it gets to attack us one last time. This time, it shoots 3 seeds. On the other hand, between Back Support and blocking, it barely had any effect.

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At least it's trivial to finish it off now.

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And this is why I shouldn't have bothered trying to conserve TP. These guys give a lot of EXP, and it's more than enough to rank up and get a full heal.

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We don't get any bonus this time, just the usual 3 MP.

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One other quirk of Chomper Brutes is that they very frequently (at least 50% of the time) drop items, sometimes even multiple items at once, and this pool includes several cooked items. It's quite strange, but it makes the resource drain of long fights a lot more manageable.

I'm pretty sure the odds and item pool were tweaked in v1.1, it used to be significantly less generous (though some cooked items did always show up).

Anyway, we'll take this.

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With our MP from the new level, I decided to equip Image Heal Plus on Vi. I may not plan for Vi to be spending a lot of turns healing (and in the long term she probably won't be keeping this on), but Sharing Stash's immediate heal going from 2 to 3 HP is a 50% increase, and that's pretty great. Even if you don't use it much, spending 2 MP to have that tool in your back pocket can be worth it.

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Let's head into the next room.

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This room also has two levels; there's a bit more to it than we can see from here. Let's check the party banter before anything else.

Image I can't make out a path...
Image Don't ask me to carry you.
Image If there's pillars missing to jump on, maybe we'll have to create some ourselves.

That's a fairly straightforward hint. Let's have a look around.

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To start with, there's a Chomper right here.

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The baby Chompers in this area are very often deceptive, and are hiding Chomper Brutes you don't see until you get into the battle. This also means that if you have Image Bug Me Not! equipped, you'll be in for a nasty surprise if you were expecting them to vanish on contact.

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When there are multiple little Chompers in these fights, I like to open with a combination of Dash Through and Icefall. I didn't quite aim the Icefall properly here and missed the one in front, so our remaining actions this turn will have to clean that up.

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I'm going to skip past the rest of the fight from here, we've seen what Chomper Brutes do and these fights are a slog.

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This is worth highlighting, though: thanks to Victory Buzz, we recover 4 TP at the end of each fight. It's a good reminder to not be too stingy with good moves any more.

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The EXP yield has gone from 13 to 10 per Chomper Brute, but that's still quite nice.

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It leaves behind a lot of stuff, too (including lots of cash). Whatever else you can say about these fights, they're profitable.

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We don't have room for all these things, so let's eat a couple so they don't go to waste.

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I ended up using the Mushroom Gummies and the Crunchy Leaf, so we're back in good health. We'll hang onto the Drowsy Cake for now.

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We can start to see a bit more of what's going on in this room now - there are some water droplets falling from above, and some columns we'll need to use for platforming. But before we can do that, we should probably deal with the rest of the enemies...

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This one's just the small ones, at least.

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A well-placed Icefall is enough to trivialise this completely, we can finish them off before they get to attack.

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Victory Buzz returns the 4 TP we spent on Icefall, so we didn't have to spend any resources here either.

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The little ones aren't worth EXP, though.

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Let's keep going.

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What's inside this one?

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Another group of small ones only, which are just as quickly dispatched.

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Even the tiny groups can be pretty lucrative.

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Now for the big one.

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This one has two small Chompers with it, but the formation's slightly different.

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Starting with Icefall is usually a good idea; from there, we can pick off the little ones first as usual.

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The most interesting thing that happens in this battle is that, when in this formation, it can choose to summon the small Chomper behind it instead, since that's also an available position.

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We eventually win the battle.

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Score! Another huge pile of loot.

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This item's really good for poison strategies, it might be worth hanging onto (Vi's still got the poison medals on right now). I used the Drowsy Cake we picked up and the Crunchy Leaf that dropped to make room, as well as get us back to near-full.

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The left wall has a suspicious crack, but we can't do anything with that right now. We'll have to come back later once we know how to interact with that.

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Now to try to solve the puzzle. We need to get up to the second level somehow; this water droplet is what we have to start with. (If it's not clear from the screenshots, the second one is falling onto that wide pillar, it doesn't reach our level.)

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It might not be immediately obvious why, but we need to put the block here, between these two pillars.

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The block is high enough that we can jump from it to this pillar, but the other is slightly higher; we'll need to do something else to reach there.

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What we have to do is make a second ice block, and stack it on top of the previous one (hence why it needed to be between the pillars). This always looks a bit precarious and janky (and it can be tricky to aim it well, though honestly it's more forgiving than it might look), but as far as I know it's the intended solution.

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With the stacked ice blocks in place to bridge the gap, we can now jump across.

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And now we're on the upper level!

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Though of course there are more Chomper Brutes to fight.

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This fight has a pair of them. Honestly, it's tempting to run, but we can deal with this.

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Let's start out with a Dash Through to get a bit of damage on all of them.

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Then Leif can finish off the small one.

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Kabbu attacks again.

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With the penalty from Strong Start, this is pretty disappointing damage-wise, but I still like Frigid Coffin here since it will take the back one out of commission for two turns. That's long enough for us to get most of the way through the front one, and we really don't want to be taking attacks from both of them.

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I'm not sure why I bothered relaying when Vi would have done the same 1 point of damage. Habit, I guess?

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On its turn, it uses the Head Slam on Leif, and I manage to Super Block somehow.

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These fights can often feel kind of exhausting: it barely looks like we accomplished anything.

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We'll just attack normally for now.

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Ouch. Not only did it decide to concentrate fire on Kabbu, but I blocked pretty abysmally here. That's a lot of damage.

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We're definitely looking a bit worse for wear here.

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Kabbu keeps attacking as usual.

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While Leif freezes the back one again (with how low their resistance is, Frigid Coffin is guaranteed to succeed even after it's already been frozen once). At least this time it does respectable damage also.

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Vi throws a Leaf Croissant to Kabbu. You can see the effect of Heal Plus working here: normally this item heals 5 HP. That's not the reason I gave her the medal, but I certainly won't complain about it!

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Another barrage of seeds ends up being pretty painful, but we get through it.

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We're making progress, slowly.

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Kabbu attacks as usual (with a bit of help from Vi).

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While Leif freezes this one. It's not quite enough to kill, but at least this way, we won't have to eat further attacks this turn.

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At least we can finish one of them off now.

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We finish the one in front.

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And get some attacks in on the back one. If I'd thought of it, it'd have been better to let Vi or Leif finish off the first one, we could have gotten a bit more damage in on the other that way. No matter.

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Only two shots, though this still isn't great.

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We should be able to finish things this turn, thankfully.

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A Tornado Toss from Vi (with the last of our TP) gets us most of the way there.

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Leif can finish it off now.

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These fights are well worth it in EXP, but they do drag on.

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It drops another Poison Cake and Crunchy Leaf, so we can get a good chunk of our resources back at least.

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That does it for this area. Let's head through here, back into the first room.

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More Chompers. What were you expecting? We saw them up here already.

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Ugh, another battle with two of them. We know how this goes.

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I'm going to gloss over the rest of the fight, but here you can see me using Sharing Stash turn one, and Heal Plus taking effect. I really didn't feel comfortable leaving Leif on 1 HP; with the regeneration, this should keep us for a while.

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After a while, we get more EXP.

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Sometimes the things they drop are really peculiar.

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There were also some Mushroom Gummies and a Crunchy Leaf in that pile.

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We don't have room for everything, so let's keep moving. There's one more fight here, how bad could it be?

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Oh.

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The first turn went sufficiently badly that I decided to flee and regroup.

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The items didn't despawn yet. We can use this Abomihoney on Kabbu (he's already at 1 HP) to get most of our TP back, then feed him the Crunchy Leaf and use the Mushroom Gummies.

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This is much more comfortable. I'm not going to show the rest of this, we've seen enough similar fights.

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As per usual, at least the rewards are nice. That's the last of the battles in here.

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We can knock down this stick to make a ramp, giving us a convenient shortcut back to the save crystal and ensuring we don't need to take that annoying route again. Don't forget to do this! (I somehow didn't notice it was here until, I think, my third playthrough? I felt very silly when I realised.)

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Let's see what Venus has to say.

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She doesn't seem very keen on the idea of our being here... that said, she also isn't making any effort to stop us.

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She'll also offer us the usual healing, thankfully.

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Let's press onward, never mind the warning.

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Well, that's interesting! This must be the Mother Chomper. (This does raise some questions: are these plant monsters also eusocial? They certainly seem to have a queen...)

Image W-Woah...
Image Let's think very carefully before proceeding...
Image Good idea.

The banter in here is a warning. It's definitely a good idea to take advantage of that save crystal, if you hadn't been inclined before.

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I'm also going to take the opportunity to move some medals around. Victory Buzz is of no use in a boss fight, but Poison Needles might be, so let's give that a try. (Swapping out medals like Victory Buzz when it looks like a boss fight is coming is a good habit to get into.)

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When we get close, all the Chompers notice us and stop marching.

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And the big one roars...

Image Click me for video!

Image 35 - Reckless for Glory! (Bonus Boss)

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As you might have expected, she isn't going to fight us alone. Let's find out what we're dealing with here.

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Image She keeps spitting Chompers out... I think I'm gonna beat her up first!

Mother Chomper is another one of this game's optional bosses, and she's pretty strong. This is not a fight to be messing around with, especially if you're here this early (although it doesn't require as carefully tuned a strategy as the Devourer; this can absolutely be beaten fairly).

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We'll start off by getting the little ones out of the way. Aiming Icefall well can absolutely hit all three targets here. Mother Chomper is immune to freezing, though, so we can't plan around disabling her (though she still takes weakness damage from ice attacks).

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Kabbu can then use Dash Through to finish them off, and get some damage in on the boss.

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Vi relays to Kabbu so he can attack again.

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At the start of her first turn, Mother Chomper roars. As far as I know this is just for intimidation, it doesn't seem to do anything gameplay-wise.

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After that, she spits a seed that becomes a new Chomper. Keeping the small ones under control is definitely a big part of this fight.

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She also attacks afterward (she doesn't summon every turn, but it doesn't count as an action when she does), by spitting pollen spores. This hits 2-3 times, targeted randomly each time, and can send the bugs hit to sleep for 2 turns if not blocked.

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At least we got a Favorite One trigger out of it. Let's see what we can do here.

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Kabbu uses Spicy Fries on Vi, which gives her Attack Up and activates Weak Stomach, turning on her poison medals.

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Let's try Needle Toss. We could've done a bit more damage with Hurricane Toss here, but I wanted to change things up a bit and this is still plenty effective. She has 50% resistance to poison though, so it didn't end up taking. Maybe I should've put Status Booster on her.

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We're out of TP, so Leif uses the Poison Cake on Vi. This conveniently extends her poison duration, so we won't have to worry about it wearing off any time soon.

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The small Chomper attempts to spawn a smaller one, but is unsuccessful.

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So it bites Leif instead. I didn't manage to block, the only damage reduction here is from Back Support.

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She uses the spore attack again, and this time shoots three times. At least I did better on blocking (and Vi's Poison Defender is active), that was a lot less painful.

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Here's where things stand at the start of turn three.

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Let's try Needle Toss again. This time, it actually poisons.

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Although it seems only to have triggered once; we just get two turns' worth of poison. It's working out fine, but for better or worse, I can't really recommend this strategy over Hurricane Toss here, and I think this was the point I decided to abandon it.

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Speaking of Hurricane Toss, may as well do one while we still have the attack boost. (Before you ask, yes, doing these moves in the reverse order would have done more damage.)

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With the last of our TP (for now), Leif uses Frigid Coffin for some extra damage. With his charge-ups and the boss' ice weakness, it's pretty strong.

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On the enemy's turn, we see the danger of leaving the baby Chompers alive. In addition to their usual moves, they can spend their turn boosting their mother. This can give her either Attack Up or Defence Up for two turns.

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Mother Chomper also roars again, and this time gains an extra action (which will last for the rest of the fight). This happens at the beginning of her first turn below half HP. Between this and the attack boost, we could be in for some pain soon (though, small mercies, she doesn't take the extra action the turn she gains that status).

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The pollen attack hurts quite a bit more now (especially when I miss blocking with Kabbu!). Kabbu also goes to sleep, which certainly isn't going to help things.

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At least we get poison damage this turn, I guess? Every bit helps.

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This isn't looking very good, is it.

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First things first, let's wake Kabbu up with some coffee! I've been holding onto this Hot Drink for a situation just like this.

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In addition to the healing and status cure, Kabbu gets the Hustle status (that new yellow +1 icon). It doesn't do anything this turn, but next turn he'll get two actions. I quite like the way the action economy works out with Hot Drink: in addition to getting back the actions we'd have lost to the status effect, we'll end up getting an extra one. It's definitely my favourite status cure item.

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Kabbu uses a Crisbee Donut to restore our TP, since we're all out.

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I decided to play it safe here and have Vi use Sharing Stash instead of going for damage (although, honestly, that could have been a mistake). This way, we'll be more or less guaranteed to get through this turn safely, and can finish things up next turn. On the other hand, it does unfortunately have the downside of curing her poison.

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The small Chomper spawns an even smaller Chomper! From the failure earlier, it might be natural to assume the small ones aren't able to spawn successfully in this fight, but they're perfectly capable of doing so; the move just fails sometimes.

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We finally see one of Mother Chomper's other attacks - an enormous chomp (base 7 damage!) that also heals her equal to the damage done. This is definitely something to watch out for, and one of the major reasons to try to focus on burst damage and keep this fight from going long: she can keep using this and outheal the damage you can do without spending resources.

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She also gets a second attack, of course. This time, it's the spores again.

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At the end of the turn, we see results from Sharing Stash! The regeneration is quite handy.

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Also, poison damage.

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We're in the home stretch now.

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Vi starts off with a Hurricane Toss, to take advantage of her charges.

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Let's recover our TP again.

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Leif uses Frigid Coffin for some more damage.

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Which brings her just low enough that Kabbu's Dash Through can finish the job.

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That said, the fight isn't quite over yet! We still have to deal with the little ones. They caught me by surprise here, attacking in the middle of the boss' death animation and actually knocking Vi out.

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Kabbu's Pep Talk can fix that, at least.

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From here, it's a trivial matter to clean up.

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Which brings the fight to a close! Mother Chomper can be pretty tough, especially if you let things snowball with the stat boosts and healing, but as long as you approach it with strategy (and some amount of focus on burst damage) it's not so bad. This is another bonus boss the game just makes available and lets you choose to fight whenever you feel comfortable (well, assuming you discover the cave): it's perfectly reasonable to beat it now, but it's also fine to come back later if you're intimidated. The reward is well worth it, though, so of all the optional bosses, this is definitely the one I'd most encourage people to stick with if they're struggling.

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She does have one other attack we didn't see in this fight: in addition to the sleepy pollen, she can launch Hard Seeds, which do 1 more damage per hit but don't cause sleep.

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The Mother Chomper withers away, leaving something behind, as the small ones flee.

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Let's see what this is.

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Well, this is intriguing. We'll have to investigate this further; we definitely know some scientists, at least.

Image It really was a nest...
Image The seed it left behind seems different from the rest.
Image You think? Maybe we can sell it to a Bee scientist, or something...

There's a new banter in the room now, which suggests much the same thing (though somehow I can't imagine this just ending in a sale, nothing's ever that simple).

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For better or worse, that wraps up our business here in Chomper Caverns. (For all her griping earlier, Venus doesn't have anything new to say after we defeat Mother Chomper.) Next time, we'll start off with investigating that seed and see where it leads us.

User avatar
34: Friendship Bites

Image 25 - Caves

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Last time, we explored the Chomper Caverns and fought the Mother Chomper. Let's see if we can figure out what to do with the seed she left behind. There's nothing else to do in here right now, so let's get going.

Image 40 - High Above, Bee Kingdom

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Our team discussed the possibility of taking it to a bee scientist. Let's check in with Professor Honeycomb. (Doctor HB and Crow don't react if you try them, this isn't their project.)

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Image We should go before we make her faint...
Image ...Wait, what's THAT?!
Image Uh, what?

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Seems like she wants us to give her something. Of course, we have to try certain things first...

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Image This is useless! Give me the BIOFORM!
Image C-calm down! What's a bioform!?

No special reaction for the plushie, she says this for any incorrect item. Also, if you back out of the menu, she has an interesting response:

Image I KNOW you have a bioform on you! Hand it over!
Image HACK HACK COUGH!
Image ...What's a bioform?

Enough messing around, let's try giving her the seed.

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Image That seed! Could it be...?!

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Well, that's a dead end. Looks like we'll have to head back to the Lost Sands and track him down. Conveniently, though, our mission lies in the same direction (remember the mission we were supposed to be on? I've been faffing around with side content for a while...), so we can get to work on that too.

Let's head down to Defiant Root.

Image 37 - Defiant Root

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We were supposed to meet with the mayor and see if he has any leads, so let's not put that off any longer.

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Image No, it's my pleasure! Thank you for everything!
Image Hohoho! Don't think of it!
Image You've got info on the Sand Castle, correct?
Image That I do. That castle's an ancient Roach structure, rumored to be at the northeastern corner of the Lost Sands.
Image Mind you, that rumor's older than I am! But there IS a weird tablet in that part of the desert.
Image It's the only clue we have, so... Any ideas on how to get in?

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Image I've got a lead on only one of them. It's said to be... with the bandits.
Image Ngh. They've been causing us enough trouble as is.
Image Ask around town, someone could have a clue on their hideout's whereabouts.
Image Maybe some have heard of the other key, even!
Image If Elizant wasn't lying, time is of the essence. It's time to search.
Image Stay safe, you three. The sands are unforgiving to those unprepared!
Image I have my team. Worry not, we'll protect each other!
Image I have no doubt. Even so! You've got to accept this little gift from the good old mayor!

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Image Take it, Kabbu. You can't say no!
Image ...Thank you, Mayor. We will return safely!

We'll see shortly why the Mayor gave us some funds here. Anyway, that's not much of a lead, all he really told us is that someone in town might have info on the bandits. Guess we should look around.

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If we talk to him again, he'll just encourage us to do that.

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The place we actually need to go for that is... into the well.

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There seems to be a mysterious fellow down here. But first, let's see what everyone thinks.

Image So we've come to the bottom of this well for... not much, really.
Image Yeah, it's just a bunch of water!
Image It IS a well...

How helpful. There's also a banter for the hooded figure:

Image A curious place to set up shop.
Image Well, anyone who can help will do. No matter where they fancy to sit!

Well, let's see what this person has to say, I guess.

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He doesn't seem inclined to talk unless we pay him. If we decline:

Image Suit yourselves.

Looks like we don't have a choice. (I'm pretty sure the mayor giving us money is the devs trying to make sure the player can always afford this. It's nice of them to try to prevent mandatory grinding, though I've never actually run into a problem here.)

Let's pay him.

Image You're a wise bunch. Here.

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Image Um, what's this? The key?
Image The bandits lurk in the southeast of the desert. That's your ticket in.
Image Just how do you have this?
Image ...
Image W-Well, no matter. We'd best start planning our trip there!
Image I'll be seeing you.

There is nothing suspicious about this in any way, surely. Guess that's one lead to follow up on; we'll get to that soon enough.

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Before that, though, there were a lot of paths blocked by spikes in the western half of the desert. Let's explore those.

Image 36 - Lost Sands

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First up is this area.

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With Bubble Shield, we can now cross the brambles to this platform.

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And then from there it's a simple matter to jump up this staircase of platforms.

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We can also knock down this stick to make a shortcut back.

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There's a bandit on top of the arch here. You can sneak past him pretty easily using either Kabbu's dash or Leif's Bubble Shield, but let's fight anyway.

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It's a pretty simple encounter, one cricket bandit and one Cactiling. Familiar enemies, and it's not a particularly scary formation; not much to see here.

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That said, I did want to show this. I'm not all that reliable with the timing, but when something like this does happen you can really see the value of Spiky Bod. That Cactiling just lost half its health from attacking Kabbu. (I like passive damage, okay?)

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We're high enough rank now that these enemies no longer give us EXP.

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Past the bandit, the other side of the arch leads into the next area.

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What's this up here?

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First off, let's grab the medal. It's a second copy of Image Meditation! If you were wondering, yes, they stack: if the same bug equips both of them, they will restore 2 TP when using Do Nothing (the first time each turn). This can be a really effective way to keep your TP up, and you can also combine it with Prayer and Reflection medals to get even more benefits. I'm definitely a fan of these medals and strategies, but I don't usually use them much until later in the game. Still, this is great to have.

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If we get closer to the edge, we can see where we are: we definitely saw the other side of this chasm when we first explored the Lost Sands. That said, aside from the medal (and some berries that are guaranteed to be in the weeds up here), there's nothing here. Let's head back.

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As we proceed further south, we immediately reach another big thorn chasm.

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Getting across is straightforward now. There's an enemy waiting underground, though.

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It's a solitary Arrow Worm. No threat.

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Easy enough.

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Let's head east.

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This area's completely new, we haven't been here before! Looks like some kind of oasis?

Image Now this is something. Water flowing freely in the desert.
Image Bottoms up! I'm taking a big chug!
Image Why, I wouldn't mind splashing my face a bit either!
Image Perhaps we could even find the source of it if we look around.

Our team certainly seem pleased to be here. Let's explore.

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There are other people here, too (and a save crystal); we'll get to them momentarily.

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Looks like the path south is blocked by a fallen pillar; we'll have to find a different way around, or else come back with a later ability.

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This looks like a dead end, though. The water's coming from whatever this big structure is, but we can't get up from this side. Let's go see what Team Slacker are up to.

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Image Hiya! Fancy meeting you here!
Image Indeed! Seems you are also curious about this mountain over here?
Image Somewhat. What can you tell us about it?
Image This is Stream Mountain. Called that because of this very oasis here, as the water comes from it.
Image We've heard a powerful monster lives in here, so we are investigating.
Image A monster?
Image Yeah, don't know much of it yet but it seems pretty nasty!
Image Be careful if you explore the mountain. Lots of strong creatures live inside!
Image But we bet it is full of treasure. Thank you either way.
Image Mhm! Treasure!
Image Just stay safe, alright? Wouldn't want us to be blamed if you went missing.

Gee, thanks, Stratos, so glad to know how much confidence you have in us. Anyway, this is yet another of their hints toward a Bounty location. Though we can't face it quite yet, we'll need an ability from later in the chapter to get up to the entrance of Stream Mountain.

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Image Be careful, alright? We don't know what the monster is, but locals say it is powerful.
Image Don't go blaming us if something goes wrong.

Talking to them again gets us an abridged version of what they just told us. We'll definitely keep this in mind, anyway.

Now, who else is here?

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Image Something's very familiar about him, for sure!
Image (They can't tell?)

Intriguing. Let's talk to him. (Also, I have to say I love his relaxed sprite.)

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Image I just hope he can manage to trick some chumps at the well.
Image Excuse me, sir. Are you alright?
Image Oh, yeah. I am alri-

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Image Is something wrong?

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Image Uh. Sure thing, "bud".

Yeah. This is the bandit that led the ambush on us alongside the wasps. (Also, oh no, the jig is up regarding the well... but we're not going to be able to act on that knowledge, are we.)

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That's all we can do here for now. Let's head back.

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The last path we have yet to try is here, in the southwest corner of the Lost Sands. Let's fight this bandit first, though.

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I think this might be a formation we haven't seen before, with bandits alongside an Arrow Worm? That said, it's still pretty straightforward at this point.

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Let's just go.

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Yet again, we're on the other side of a chasm we saw on a prior visit.

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We can also knock down this twig. This is actually a pretty good shortcut, making it easier to cross between the two halves of the desert.

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There's also a path to the north, up this makeshift staircase. Let's fight the Cactiling first though.

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Simple enough, it's just a pair of them.

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Despite getting only pity EXP here, we're still getting close to levelling up.

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There's an Agaric Shroom to grab up here. No sense leaving it behind.

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This area looks new. Once again, we're on the other side of a screen we've seen before, but we couldn't exactly get a good look up here from that side; these ruins are definitely something new.

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Jumping down, we find a fallen pillar that looks like it had Roach writing on it, but we can't read it. Also, there's no way back up once we drop down: we're going to have to find another way back.

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Let's head west. That should take us to the area south of the oasis.

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Well, there's a lot going on here! These are certainly some ruins. Let's check the party banter.

Image This smells like Snakemouth Ruins.
Image Couldn't the Roaches have lived in a normal place? Like the Ant Kingdom!

Leif confirms the suspicion these are probably Roach ruins, at least.

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Heading a bit further south, there's Hawk. Let's see what he's up to and if we can get him to go back to the lab. First, though, there's a banter:

Image Hey, it's Hawk!
Image Let's see what he's up to. Maybe he's got a lead on the keys.

Oh, right, that too. Let's talk to him.

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Image Oh, it's you.
Image That's correct. It's most likely a statue of the Roach village founder.
Image That's right! We saw some Roach ruins in Snakemouth too.
Image What!?
Image Yeah. It was all around where we found the artifact!
Image Incredible. This is information you should've shared right away.
Image I guess that explains why this key was here...
Image That key, could it be for the Sand Castle?
Image Don't ask me. But Roaches and artifacts often pop up together.
Image Just what made them disappear? This is what I want to know.
Image All the damage you see is simply a result of the passage of time. A few sandstorms here and there roughed up the place, but...
Image With the Oasis so close by, I find little reason this place would be abandoned. Most curious...

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Image You're asking me to hand you over a priceless historical relic?
Image P-Please? We'll return it...
Image ...Well, sure. If it really leads to the artifact, it'll give my research a boost.

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Image Thanks, Hawk.
Image Do get back to me with any developments.
Image I'll head back to Professor Honeycomb's lab to compile my findings.
Image If you ever drop by, please share what you found with the key with me.
Image Will do. Safe travels, Hawk.

With that, he leaves. That was easy! (For Hawk to return to the lab, you have to see this conversation, and also the one after finding the Tardigrade Shield medal.)

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Image We should go back to town and ask around where the other key could be.
Image Or just look around ourselves.

Our only lead on the second key is the bandits' hideout. That said, we have some other things to do before that.

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Before we leave this area, let's just make note that there's one of those mysterious dirt spots sneakily hiding inside this ruined building. We'll have to come back for that.

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Heading north from here would just take us to the other side of that pillar we can't pass, so let's go south.

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We come out here, right back where we started (just up a ledge, so we couldn't have gotten there from this side).

That does it for the new areas we can explore this side of the desert, so let's have a look at an updated map:

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We've covered a lot of ground now - there's only a single screen we haven't been to yet (next to the oasis, it's presumably where the entrance to Stream Mountain is). It's still inaccessible right now, though.

We're done here for now, so let's head back to the lab.

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Image 40 - High Above, Bee Kingdom

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Hawk is back now, of course.

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Image You must show it to the professor right away!

He notices the seed immediately, and encourages us to speak to the professor. There's also a new banter about him, though.

Image There's something about Hawk we just can't describe...
Image Really? He's just a normal dude to me!
Image As normal as a scientist Moth working in a Beehive can be...
Image It must be our imagination...

Heh.

Let's talk to the professor.

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Image Yeah! Do we get a reward?

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Image Ugh.

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Image Hm. You're so ungrateful, but I actually DO have something for you.
Image As long as you're willing to gather more data for me. Take this.

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She gave us a new medal! Image A.D.B.P. Enhancer is an interesting one. For 3 MP, this adds an extra hit to all of Vi's multi-hit skills (the description just says Beemerang skills, but it actually works on her needle skills too), but also increases the TP cost of those skills by 1. The increased TP cost means it isn't necessarily guaranteed you'll want to equip this all the time (if that last hit is just 1 damage, it might not be worth it), but the more you boost her attack, the better this gets. This usually never comes off once I decide to put it on. If you're using Vi as a damage-dealer, you almost certainly want to fit this in somewhere.

Image Ugh, more data stuff? That's so boring!
Image Just be grateful I let you keep the prototype at all! Now get out before I lose my patience!
Image ...Wait, what's THAT?!
Image Uh, what?

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I love how she completely reverses course here. Let's give her the seed!

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Image Indeed. It was left behind by a Mother Chomper...
Image Fascinating! Do you know how uncommon it is for seeds to not bloom immediately?

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Image Indeed! With this, maybe...
Image Yes, YES! Maybe we can make it work!
Image What? What will work?
Image Shut it and watch! Come here!

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Image In front of you, you see what I call a "Chomper VAT"!
Image That's just a huge chunk of glass.
Image Hush! This place is just a compact environment where Chompers thrive.
Image With this, we can plant that seed right here in the lab.
Image ...So you wish for a pet Chomper?

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Image If we can somehow study how the Chompers are born, and their lifestyles outside of chomping bugs...
Image It would help us understand them more, and maybe even pacify them in the future.
Image Sure... I really don't get how, though. Is it worth it?
Image Just getting them to stop attacking travelers is a huge boon to bugdom!
Image We can't study them without great risks. But here, we can observe them easily.
Image We do find Chompers cute. Here's hoping this works.
Image That's what I like to hear! It's the moment of truth!

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Image I-Impressive! This Chomper looks a bit different though, doesn't it?
Image Hm. My guess is that this is...
Image You said that you got this seed from a Mother Chomper?
Image Yeah. It was a super big, super strong mama Chomper!
Image I can only assume that this small one was supposed to be the next in line for that position!
Image Chompers do have a weird hierarchy system, but it isn't too far apart from how we bugs do it.
Image They have their Mother, we have our Queen.

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The Chomper jumps up and down twice.

Image Maybe it's because she is still young, but she seems very peaceful.
Image Hm... I suppose there is some sort of imprinting in this Chomper too. It doesn't seem like it will turn violent.
Image You brought the seed here. Would you care to name it?
Image Really? Can we?
Image It's only fair. We owe this incredible specimen to you.
Image I'm bad with names anyways... Go on! Name it!

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We are given a prompt to name the Chomper. It automatically defaults to "Chompy" (which is a bit :effort: ), but we can change that if we want to. Unless the thread really feels strongly about it, though, I'm inclined to leave it as is: her name doesn't come up that often, and that way it'll be more clear who we're talking about.

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Image Very well! Now I have another favor to ask you...

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Image I want you to go out in the field with this Chomper and gather data on their behaviors.
Image How's that a reward!? You want us to babysit a dangerous MONSTER!
Image ...Don't call it a monster.
Image She seems to have taken a liking to you three, and should be mostly harmless.
Image Maybe if she lives alongside bugs, she could grow to become a peaceful Mother Chomper.
Image We don't even care if you don't agree, Vi. We're doing it. It's too cute to leave here.
Image ...Fine. I guess it IS a bit cute!
Image Isn't it!? I cannot wait to share stories with it!
Image It's settled! Come on over and take her out for a walk whenever you can.
Image Just bring her back into the VAT whenever, too.
Image Count on us, Professor. We will ensure a bright future for this Chomper!
Image Treat Chompy carefully... It's quickly earned my love.

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That was a long conversation! We're finally back in control. The game gives us an achievement for this, too:

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How cute. Let's see how this actually works, then.

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If we interact with the vat here, we'll get this option. If we say yes...

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Chompy actually follows behind our party! (Leif's finally gotten a cute critter, just like he always wanted.) We can take her with us, and she'll even help out in battle. Chompy isn't just a cosmetic pet, she's actually something of a fourth party member; more detail on how she works in a moment. Before that, there are a few more conversations.

Image Take good care of that Chomper! We can't afford having to find another one!
Image You don't need to say it twice, we will protect her with all we've got.

That's all we'll get from the Professor for now. Hawk is a bit more interesting.

Image Chompy seems to have really taken a liking to you. Please watch over her.

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Image Alright. Take care of her.

I don't feel the need to, but Hawk will let us change Chompy's name whenever we feel like it.

Let's take Chompy out for a test run, shall we?

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She appears with us in battle. You may notice she doesn't have a displayed HP stat like our bugs do; enemies cannot attack her, so she's invincible, but if she's the last one standing it's still game over.

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She also has a much more limited selection of options: right now, she only has Attack and Do Nothing. (Because there are only two options here, it may not be immediately apparent that you can order her to do nothing, since the flowers are directly across from each other! A lot of players miss it, and it took me some time to notice myself. But you can. You don't have to make her attack a frozen enemy if you don't want to break it out, for instance.) Let's see what her attack is like.

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If you succeed at the action command (which prompts a random button between A, B, and X), she will bite the front-most grounded enemy for 2 damage.

So far, so good. This is already pretty great - in many ways, you can think of her as a free 2 damage per turn, but that's a lot of damage considering our core team also have 2 attack each! But, well... can we do better?

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If we stop by the Fashion Bee shop in the Hive, they'll have something new for sale. (They've actually had this in stock ever since we bought the Bee Hat for Vivi, but it wouldn't have done anything before.)

Let's buy it.

Image Thank you! Here you go!

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Image Thank you, thank you! Please visit Fashion Bee again!

Don't tell her, but we can't, this is the last item she'll ever have for sale.

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Let's head back to the lab and see if we can do something with this.

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First, we have to return Chompy to the vat.

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If we interact with it now, we'll have a new option to give her the ribbon.

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And now she's wearing it! Look at that, isn't she cute?

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Now let's take her with us again.

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The Image Pretty Ribbon, in addition to changing her sprite, increases her damage to 3. That's really quite nice!

This is the other major mechanic with Chompy: we can collect various ribbons for her to equip, and they'll have different effects on her attacks. Right now, though, the Pretty Ribbon is the only one available to us. For better or worse, though, extra damage is really nice, and this is arguably the best ribbon for her (which does make it a bit awkward design-wise that it's the easiest one to get, but I'm not exactly going to complain).

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One other thing: if you fail the action command, she'll fall on her face and not attack at all, rather than doing partial damage. (It can sometimes be handy to do this deliberately, if you mistakenly ordered her to attack an enemy you'd prefer not to hit.) It looks similar if you order her to attack an enemy she can't reach.

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There's one last thing to see with Chompy right now. If we go to our house in the plaza...

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We can now interact with this little pet bed in the corner.

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Just like the vat in the lab, we can leave Chompy here if we want to. (This seems a lot less secure...)

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Aww.

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And, just like in the lab, we can swap out her ribbons too. Obviously, though, we'll be taking her with us. (I'd put this to a vote in the thread, but I think I know what people would decide.)

So, that's the reward for exploring the Chomper Caverns and beating Mother Chomper. We now have our very own pet Chomper to travel around and help us fight! It's pretty awesome, and a pleasant surprise when the game's mostly established a pattern by now of rewarding side content and optional bosses with medals (not that medals are a bad reward, but variety is good). She's definitely a bit on the overpowered side, though, when you think about how much she increases your damage per turn.

Since we're in the area, let's check in with Artis too.

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Image Was it too challenging for ya? You deserve a reward. Here, take this!

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Image Come back later when you've bonked some extra hard heads with that Medal, will ya?

Our Hard Mode reward for defeating Mother Chomper is a Image TP Core medal. It's 3 MP, and will let us regenerate 2 TP every two turns. This is pretty useful, especially for long fights. Although it may be worth keeping in mind that it triggers after the enemies' turn ends, so if you end the fight on a turn it would have triggered, you won't recover the TP. (I don't always do this, but one thing you can do is wear Victory Buzz for normal fights, and swap it to this for bosses, since both are 3 MP. I've found it can be hard to get much value from TP Core if normal battles are ending too quickly, but it very much depends on your play style and what you're fighting. Most of my late-game builds end up incorporating this somewhere.)

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That said, I'm going to put it on for now, I had some utility medals I could take off without losing much.

This seems like a reasonable place to wrap things up for now. Before I go, though, there are some interesting conversations to see from alternate routes. First off, if we'd found Hawk and returned him to the lab before defeating the Mother Chomper:

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Image No problem! Now for th-
Image It was nothing special, Hawk. Just doing our best.
Image ...
Image I have a lot of data to analyze about the Roaches and the old world now.
Image But the professor is already looking into something else.
Image What would it be?
Image Something on those plant creatures in the Golden Hills, the Chompers.
Image They reproduce quickly through seeds. But what if we could somehow harness that seed without it hatching?
Image They seem to sprout instantly when touching a hard surface, but it should be possible to extract them if treated carefully.
Image Good luck with that. We wouldn't know where to start looking.
Image If you manage to find one, please bring it here. Although the professor's been trying her whole life...
Image Is such a seed truly hiding in the Golden Path...?
Image We will keep it in mind, Hawk. Keep up the good work!

If you talk to him again, he says a bit more:

Image Chompers seem to have a place where they congregate hidden somewhere in the hills.
Image We haven't been able to explore it since they are so vicious, but maybe you'd have better luck.

I don't think I'd ever seen this conversation before, I always found the Chomper Caverns before getting Hawk to come back in previous playthroughs. Apparently the game does give more direction toward finding it (as well as some backstory and motivation); these hints are a lot clearer than I remember getting. If I'd thought of it before last update, it would have been better to do this first.

While replaying to get that conversation, I also finally got some old friends to show up.

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(This is on a file that hasn't defeated the Devourer, they don't appear here on our main file because we fought it already. I knew they'd show up here with the hint at some point, but not exactly when; as it turns out, the trigger seems to be getting the Chapter 4 splash screen after the scene in Elizant's throne room.)

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Image I know, right?
Image We heard some interesting rumors during it.
Image You know of the windmills leading to this settlement?
Image Yes. They help provide power to Bugaria, do they not?
Image Seems they tried to build one in a pretty dangerous place, and some workers got hurt.
Image An incredibly cruel monster haunts the way to the Golden Settlement!
Image Really? We didn't see anything on the way here...
Image Apparently it's a pretty high up area. Does it ring any bells?
Image ...But yeah, it'd be nice if the area got reclaimed. Maybe they could build the windmill then.
Image We'll scout around if we're nearby.
Image Thank you for the information. Be wary of traveling there as well!
Image No worries. Have safe travels, everyone!

And they each have a bit more to say if talked to again:

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Image It was a warning, not an invitation... Be safe.

That's a much more explicit warning than they give for the others, and I like that there's backstory worked into it too. It's just too bad that this warning comes too late for most players, with how easy it is to stumble into the Devourer earlier. Given that Stratos and Delilah appear now, I suspect the developers thought Chapter 4 was the appropriate time to try fighting it.

Next time, we'll follow our dubious lead to the bandits' hideout, with our new friend to keep us company. See you then!

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35: One-Armed Bandit (Part 1)

Image 36 - Lost Sands

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Last time, we found ourselves a new pet! (And, also, a lead on progress.) Let's head into the Lost Sands and see if we can get into the bandits' hideout. This entrance from the Outskirts is the most convenient way to get there, as it's in the southeast corner.

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We just go east from the first area...

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And we reach the bandits' fortress. We found this ages ago, but couldn't do much here (though we did collect an HP Plus medal that was atop one of the pillars).

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We can use this key...

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And the portcullis vanishes. Let's head inside, I suppose.

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The flags hanging here seem to have an upside-down version of the Ant Kingdom's symbol on them. If we try to check a banter here:

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That's all we get. One line from Kabbu, and the others don't weigh in at all. Let's head forward.

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There's not a whole lot here. It's just a short corridor leading up to this room, and the key we need is just sitting on a pedestal... in a spotlight...

Nothing else for it. Let's grab it and get out of here.

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Image ...Something feels off, doesn't it?
Image It's definitely too quiet in her-

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Well, that went well, didn't it. (You can't tell from the screenshots, but the sound design here is great, while the screen is dark you can hear all kinds of impact noises and really gives a good sense that they're beating us up.) Who could have possibly seen this coming.

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We rejoin Team Snakemouth to find them coming to inside a cell.

Image 47 - The Bandits' Hideout

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Image All our belongings, as well.
Image What a disgrace! I should've been more aware... I've put you both in danger.
Image Stop being melodramatic! Let's look around. We'll figure something out!
Image Perk up, Kabbu. You can't let Vi beat you at pep talks.
Image ...You're right. You two really are a great team! Let's search every nook and cranny!

We r