I AM PANDA, HEAR ME ROAR
Actually no, please leave.
Yopaat is the storm personified. Yopaat is power and strength, Yopaat is the fire that burns in the centre of the world and the winds that rage around it. When Yopaat calls on the elements, they OBEY. Except for the times they don’t, but let’s not focus too much on that okay? That was a really tough time for me and I would appreciate you not bringing it up.
I AM THE ROAR OF THUNDER
I AM THE CRACKLE OF FLAME
I AM THE TREMBLING OF THE EARTH BENEATH YOUR FEET no not because I’m fat, how very dare you
THE MIGHTY YOPAAT needs not such petty things as “humility” or “depth perception” or “an indoor voice” for I am the master of the elements!
(except I totally took the Storm Elemental talent)
EAT MY TOTEM, YOU ABSOLUTE END-PIECE.
What were you doing in 2003? Back then, I was either finishing my first year of college (studying AS Accounts, IT, Maths and Business Studies) or starting my second (where I dropped both IT and Maths, and picked up Sociology, my favourite of the -logies). I was 17, I already knew I was a flagrant homosexual and was keen to explore more aspects of my self and my being. Apparently, 2003 was the year I discovered I like SRPGs, and this game was the catalyst.
What Even Is A Disgaea Anyway?
Nobody really knows for sure as the makers have never specified, at least not to my knowledge. Most common speculation is that dis means bad or not and the gaea part means earth or world, giving you Not Earth or Bad World. Makes sense as the game is set in the Netherworld, the evil counterpart to the good-aligned Celestia and the, I guess, neutral Earth. The Disgaea games are a series of SRPGs developed by Nippon Ichi, set in Netherworlds populated by demons and prinnies (the souls of the sinful dead, reincarnated into the form of explosive penguins and made to work off their crimes) with the thinnest of thin sheets separating them and the fourth wall. Characters know they’re in a game and will comment on various mechanics and tropes and even try and exploit them (the main character of Disgaea 3, Mao, stole another character’s title of hero from their in-game status screen for instance, and Laharl from the first game, when seeing the bonus boss, exclaims in horror “LEVEL 4000?!” as that was the highest level boss in the game).
Battles are played in typical SRPG fashion; the battlefield is a grid, characters can move x amount of tiles and perform attacks that affect y number of tiles. You move and take action, then you end your turn and the enemy takes their action. The usual stuff. Disgaea has a few other mechanics up its sleeve though; humanoid characters can lift and throw other units (monsters cannot, but they still have a throw range, because if you throw a unit at them, they bounce off in the direction the monster unit is facing!) to add another element of strategy, and in later games monster units can be used as mounts, fuse together to make giant monsters, or turn into weapons and equip to a humanoid unit for a limited amount of time. There are also Geo Panels, tiles that are specially coloured, and the prescence of a Geo Block in a coloured tile gives a special effect to ALL tiles of that colour, be it extra XP, invincibility, bonus stats, etc.
Also your level can go up to 9999, your stats can hit the hundreds of millions, and damage can reach BILLIONS if you grind hard enough. Yes, this game has a lot of grinding, and honestly? It’s one of the things I love most about it. The game is absolutely unashamed of its grindy nature, and even leans into it, giving you the occasional stage that has the PERFECT setup for level/money/mana/etc grinding.
Then you need to consider that every item you can use and every item you can equip has an item world inside it, and the further you go into the item world of an item, the more it levels up and the stronger it (and the character that equips it) becomes! They say World of Warcraft is a game that really begins at max level (debatable but there you go) but this is a game where you hit max level, reincarnate to reset your level to 1, then RELEVEL TO 9999 with increased stats and weapon masteries, gaining bonus stats for how many levels you’ve gained on that character, up to a maximum of 186000 levels.
But What’s The Story?
Demon Prince Laharl awakens from a 2 year slumber (an extreme length of time, yes, but it’s later discovered it was due to NEFARIOUS REASONS) to discover his father, Overlord King Krichevskoy, has tragically died. Laharl therefore sets out to become the undisputed overlord of the Netherworld and along the way learns the meaning of love.
I mean, kind of. He IS an evil demon. Though I think it’s important to stress that the vast majority of demons are evil in a sort of nominal way. There’s no eating babies or rampant murder, but…
Like, silly evil. The overarching message of the game is that there is good in everything and everyone. Except Vulcanus. Fuck that guy.
- Laharl, wannabe overlord, voiced by Rita Repulsa.
- Etna, vassal of the wannabe overlord, voiced by Crimson Viper.
- Flonne, love freak, voiced by Sailor Chibi Moon.
- CAPTAIN GORDON, DEFENDER OF EARTH!, voiced by Deathwing.
- Jennifer, sidekick of CAPTAIN GORDON, DEFENDER OF EARTH!, voiced by Jihl Nabaat.
- Thursday, robot sidekick of CAPTAIN GORDON, DEFENDER OF EARTH!, voiced by Zhang Fei.
- Kurtis, mad scientist cyborg dude with a Tragic Past, voiced by Baine Bloodhoof.
Dark Adonis VyersMid Boss, likes peppering French into his speech, voiced by Kilik.
- Seraph Lamington, a seraph but not a lamington, voiced by JARAXXUS, EREDAR LORD OF THE BURNING LEGION.
- Archangel Vulcanus, an asshole who just LOOKS evil, voiced by General Nazgrim.
Why I Does Love It
I do love a good grind, but there’s more than just that. The story is hilarious, but also capable of ripping your heart out and crushing it (watch out for the Red Moon chapter, and the scene before the final boss, they will break even the hardest of hearts). The characters are wonderfully thought out and develop as the story goes on. The gameplay has a lot of tactical nuance to it, unless you deliberately overlevel and stomp everything, which is entirely your choice! The game encourages you to take the path you want.
I’m a sucker for a class-based combat system and my GOD are there classes here. 37 unique classes, each with 6 progressively stronger tiers, with unique stat growths, favoured weapon types, appearances and abilities. Spoilt. For. Choice.
I think I’ll close this post with my top 3 attacks from the Disgaea series as a whole, because there are some delightfully OTT ones and you know me, I live for OTT.
3) Asagi: Dead Hurdles
2) Zetta: One-Inch Zetta Beam
1) Gig: Murder Play
I’ve actually owned Vagrant Story 3 times now. I bought it when it first came out back in 2000. I was living in Cornwall at the time and I remember seeing it in the only video game shop in Newquay (which to my horror I learned last November is now a vape shop, because everything is becoming a vape shop nowadays) and wanting it.
“Squaresoft!” I thought. “They made Final Fantasies 7 and 8 and I loved those!”
So I bought it, and I just couldn’t get to grips with it. For so long I was used to turn-based combat with the ATB meters, and here we had this ACTION RPG, gasp shock and horror. I got to the Snowfly Forest and finally gave up. Traded that shit in for Final Fantasy 9 later that year.
Something about it stuck with me though, and so in 2001 I gave it another shot. I saw it in Game in Salisbury for dirt cheap (at this point, my father was entering his final year of service in the RAF and he was given the option of remaining in Cornwall for it, or returning to Amesbury in Wiltshire; he ended up choosing the latter) and thought “why not give it another go?”
Man oh man, am I glad I did. Having read up the mechanics of the game on GameFAQs, I was armed with a greater understanding of what to do and where to go, and could go about my merry way through the catacombs and streets of Lea Monde. Fuck the Snowfly Forest still though.
The third time I owned it? I bought it on the PS Vita so I can play it wherever I go.
The Setting of Vagrant Story
Set in Lea Monde, a city that, 25 years prior to the start of the game, suffered a terrible earthquake that destroyed much of the city and left the ground generally unstable. Lea Monde is part of the kingdom of Valendia, which was recently embroiled in a civil war between the Regency of Gurunas, and the noble houses under House Nalzarc. The rising of a cult known as Mullenkamp culminated in the son of Duke Bardorba, a key figure in the civil war and who now controls parliament behind the scenes, being kidnapped by cult leader Sydney and his right-hand man Hardin. They flee to Lea Monde, and in pursuit is you, Ashley Riot, Riskbreaker of the Valendia Knights of the Peace!
Then, shenanigans happen, shit goes down, the dead rise up and so on and so forth.
- Ashley Riot, he of the assless chaps apparently.
- Sidney Losstarot, who has metal arms like Jax from Mortal Kombat, minus the missiles.
- Romeo Guildenstern, massive asshole.
- Callo Merlose, damsel in distress.
- Jan Rosencrantz, also a massive asshole.
- John Hardin, who’s too old for this shit.
- Duke Bardorba, who spends the whole time in bed or something.
- Samantha, is useless.
- Joshua, a child, ugh.
- Tieger and Neesa, who have to share this bullet point, such is their joined-at-the-hip nature.
- Grissom, oops zombie.
- Duane of the Awful Hair
Why I Does Love It
It took a long-ass time to grow on me, it really did, but it eventually cemented its way into my heart as one of my favourite games of all time. Partly due to the amazing story, the stunning (at the time) graphics that, frankly, still hold up today, the wonderfully deep crafting and combat system that saw you creating different weapons for different situations (skeleton enemies? Smash them to bits with Blunt weapons! Armored? Find their weak points with Piercing weapons! Fleshy foes? Chop them up with Edged weapons! Throw magic around! PROSTASIA HERAKLES DEGENERATE TARNISH oh now I have no MP).
The game has a really strong visual design that almost emulates a comic book, with the speech bubbles and whatnot, the language used is flowery and almost ye olde Englishe but without tipping into triteness as it so often does in other games that try to use it. There’s also a sense in-game that nothing is wasted; loot a crossbow but don’t need it? Break it down into parts and use them to forge a new one! Add in gems to increase or decrease various affinities, making them more useful against this enemy type or that enemy element. Upgrade armour, upgrade shields, upgrade weaponry. Not prepared for a fight? That’s on you; the game gave you what you needed, you just haven’t assembled it yet.
There is no voice acting, yet every character is acted perfectly. Again, the comic book look really lends itself to this feeling.
According to Yasumi Matsuno, the game’s writer and designer, in order to hit release date they had to cut out quite a lot of stuff; almost half the story and features. Half the story! The game could have been so much MORE and it was already amazingly detailed, with twists and turns galore. If only they did a remake of it; one that saw these cut story threads and lost features brought back in.
Now that I’d be so down for. With next year being the 20th year since its release, maybe Square Enix would do something to commemorate one of the greatest games ever made, one of the original Playstation’s swansongs as we headed into the PS2 era.
One can only hope.
1920×1080. The end.
…Okay, no. We live in a time when new games are released almost daily, and periodically some of those games are made dirt cheap. They come down in price, we buy them in absolute droves, then we never play them. Maybe we just have no time to, maybe we’re playing other, more persistent games, like MMOs or things like Civilization. Maybe it’s just a mistaken purchase, who knows.
I too have a gaming backlog, and starting soon, I aim to begin clearing it. Let’s look at what’s in store, shall we?
- Monster Hunter: World (one of the more persistent games in the list, but I’m not through the main story yet. I’m on the part where you first get to kill Nergigante)
- Final Fantasy XV (I think I’ve just encountered Ramuh?)
- Saint’s Row IV
- Torchlight 2
- Deadly Premonition
- Assassin’s Creed: Origins
So at some point I will start on this list. Maybe not this week though, as I only have one day off (Wednesday) and then my pre-Christmas 4am shifts start at work. Only 4 of them this year though!
Never work in retail, it’s a thankless job.
Now back to Civilization. I’m playing as Iceland!
So a character concept I am utterly in love with, just in general, is that of the “impossible thief.” Basically, a thief that can steal more than just items off a shelf or from a museum.. Like, more. I suppose it’s easier to show via examples, so here’s an excuse for me to post a TOP X THINGS blog post, because let’s be honest I’ve not done that for a while.
You know, every time I start a new character on Skyrim, I think “this time, things will be different! I’ll use swords and shields, or maybe magic!” and then I loot a bow and some arrows, and oops I’ve become a sneaky archer thief yet again.
So I go around and steal a load of stuff, join the Thieves’ Guild, level up sneak and pickpocketing slowly but surely, and those two skills are where the REAL impossible thievery comes into play. With the right amount of those two skills and the correct perks (Perfect Touch as a minimum, probably 5 ranks of Light Fingers and Stealth too) you can literally steal the clothes off someone’s back and the weapons from their hands from in front of them in broad daylight, and somehow not only do they not notice, they don’t even react! As if they were feeling a draught already so this is nothing out the ordinary.
This, however, is nothing compared to what you can do to a particular type of enemy. Over in The Reach, the city of Markarth has a problem with the Forsworn, rebels who are trying to reclaim the area from Nord and Imperial control. One type of Forsworn enemy you can encounter is a Forsworn Briarheart, powerful high ranking men who usually act as the leaders of the various groups you encounter in The Reach. The story goes, they performed a ritual, offering their human heart to Hargravens, and in exchange receiving power and a new heart, the Briar Heart. Well yes, if you’re sufficiently sneaky and pickpockety, you can creep up behind them, steal the heart from their chest, and watch them drop dead instantly!
Final Fantasy Tactics: The Thief Class
A staple class in a lot of Final Fantasy games, even those without an explicit job system (example: Rikku in X, Zidane in IX, Vaan in XII), the Final Fantasy thief is one character I always try to include. I mean, free shit, right? Just gotta pry it from their hands!
Thieves in Tactics go a little further though. Not content with stealing weapons, shields, armour and accessories, the Tactics thief can also steal the enemy’s heart (not in the Skyrim Briarheart way), charming them into fighting for you. They also go a bit metaphysical, being able to steal the experience right out of someone’s head! Yes, with Steal EXP they can prevent an enemy levelling up by just filching the experience points from them! They can’t take them below 0 though, and thus cannot level someone down, which is a crying shame. They can, however, steal an enemy’s money without using Steal Gil! One ability gives them gil equal to damage they’ve taken! Literally picking the pockets of someone swinging a sword at them, amazing/.
The thieves from Final Fantasy Tactics Advance can steal whole abilities from an enemy! That black mage got a spell you haven’t? Go right over to them and steal it outta their mind, and become an instant master of magic!
Disgaea: The Thief Class
Statistically rather weak, and with rather bad weapon aptitudes (though they eventually get okay ones with Gun and Bow), the thief is best used as, well, a thief! Boasting double the success rate for stealing items compared to other classes in the game, and with the best items coming off of really strong enemies, you’re going to need an even stronger thief to relieve them of those precious things! Much like the previous thieves, they are capable of tearing the clothes off your back and the sword outta your hands, but Disgaea’s thieves also have another trick up their sleeves: they steal STATISTICS.
While it picks a stat at random, Snag Heart actually permanently raises the stat of the thief at the cost of the same amount from your target. It’ll never be enough to cripple an enemy’s statistics (you’re better off stealing their armour and weapons for that, plus have you SEEN the crazy numbers they can reach in that series?!), but the fact remains you’re stealing something highly intangible! In Disgaea 2 they can also inflict status ailments through stealing; Steal Memory causes the Amnesia status, making the target unable to use abilities, whereas Steal Health inflicts the Poison status.
Final Fantasy X-2: Thief Class AGAIN
Popping back briefly to Final Fantasy, in the much maligned (but secretly very very good) X-2, thieves had access to Flimflam abilities, and these had a couple of interesting effects!
There’s the typical stealing of money or items, but Borrowed Time literally stole your enemy’s time, inflicting the nasty Stop status! Similarly, using Soul Swipe they could inflict Berserk, making the enemy unable to use anything other than physical attacks (with the trade-off of making those attacks hurt a LOT more), and with Steal Will they could literally steal the enemy’s enthusiasm to fight, making them flee the battle!
I just made them all Dark Knights though. They looked cooler.
THE ORIGINAL, THE BEST: CARMEN FUCKIN’ SANDIEGO
I mean let’s just recap some (not even all, SOME) of the things this genius has stolen over the years:
- The shine of the Hope Diamond. Not the diamond itself! The shininess of it!
- Portuguese. Yes, the language.
- The alphabet.
- The Spanish letter ñ.
- A TV channel.
- The internet.
- The Mona Lisa’s smile.
- All the goulash for some reason.
- K2. An entire fuckin’ MOUNTAIN.
- Gandhi’s glasses.
- A beach.
- All the salsa. ALL.
- Saturn’s rings.
- Montezuma’s headdress.
- George Washington’s face from every $1 bill that ever existed and, somehow, ever will exist
- The International Date Line, which is imaginary but she stole it anyway.
- The steps to the tango.
Look, when it comes to impossible thievery, Carmen Sandiego just cannot be beaten.
She’s my fucking HERO.
Blizzcon starts tonight, which is lovely and all but what’s more important is that I AM ON HOLIDAY! Currently on the hotel wifi, making a silly blog post while I drink and think about what I want for lunch.
Is 3pm an appropriate lunch time? Is there a name for a meal between lunch and dinner? Like brunch as a concept?
What I Wanna See At Blizzcon
SNAKE PEOPLE. GIVE ME SERPENTS.
What I Wanna See In Newquay
You know, it’s changed a lot since I was last here, all of two years ago. There are fewer gift shops for instance. I suppose they cannibalise each other’s custom; if you buy your gifts in one, you’re not gonna be buying more of the exact same gifts for the exact same price a bit further down the street. I suppose the most popular ones survived, and the unlucky bit the dust. It’d be nice for some more unique stuff to be put there instead. Fancy eateries, or cool smoothie shops!
That church sign has been like that since, I dunno, the dawn of time? I distinctly remember it from when I lived here back in 1999/2000. It’s obviously a refreshed sign, the colours aren’t faded, but they just keep going with that same CH__CH joke, which is charming I guess! Like they’ve peaked in terms of creativity, and every time they have a brainstorming session to come up with a new pun, 99% of the parishioners vote to keep the old sign, and some jokester keeps submitting “Singers wanted, INCHOIR within!” or something to that effect, and everyone’s like “WE HATE CHANGE” and the sign stays the same.
If you’re in Newquay and fancy a good Indian meal, then I can recommend a place for you! I remember seeing it 18 years ago, and every time we visited, and we always wanted to go and never got around to it, but this year! This year we FINALLY went to the Maharajah restaurant, and it’s so amazing. I’m possibly still full from it, 18 hours later.
Also found a New Favourite Curry to eat whenever I go for an Indian. Lamb Methi! Yesssssssss.
Birds here are as dirty as ever. Shitting on people left right and centre. BEWARE.
You know though, the bravest, most nasty birds I ever experienced were located in Wales. In Barmouth, I was literally dive-bombed by a seagull who knocked a doughnut out of my hand, snatched it from the fuckin’ air, then fucked off before I know what happened. In Conwy, birds were congregating outside an ice cream shop, swooping on any unsuspecting person with food. People were literally having to chase them away constantly, and they didn’t take the fuckin’ hint.
And one time, when I was in Aberystwyth university, I had a sandwich in the Wetherspoons by the train station, and figured I’d sit outside as it was a nice day, and some fucked up bastard seagull just stole like half my lunch.
Birds can go fuck themselves.
Check that shiz out! G’huun went g’down, and now we’re g’ahead of the curve! I guess we’ll take alts into Uldir soon, gives me a chance to stretch Lunchi’s legs, get all Misty in this place.
Gumi, proving they love love love their global exclusive characters, recently gave Zargabaath his 7* awakening in Final Fantasy Brave Exvius, and he’s gone from being “really good” to “borderline absurd” and I am entirely here for it. Not enough that he’s got extremely powerful support abilities, but he now gets 40% baseline evasion, meaning he can hit 100% incredibly easily, and he gets a fuckin’ chaining move! Octaslash family too, so he plays nice with Reberta, another GLEX character. Just watch Fryevia get an Octaslash move with her 7* awakening, that’d seriously rock.
Need to kill the Malboro Family, Calcabrina and Shaula trials. Should get on that, really.
Today at work, another colleague recognised the game I was playing on break and we both collectively nerded out over now knowing someone IRL playing this silly mobile game, and that was lovely. Gaming, even mobile gaming, long dismissed as “not real games” by idiots and elitists, bringing people together who would not normally have said anything to each other!
Got Your Number
Fuhai the Hunter is level 118 now. I think. Or she’s incredibly close to it. I think I am levelling her slowly because having done the 120 grind twice relatively quickly, I can’t really face THE SAME grind a third time. Maybe later, maybe later.
And I had such lofty goals of getting loads of characters (and their professions) maxed out early on. Where did that enthusiasm go? I don’t think it’s me not enjoying the game, more thinking “well I have the main and the backup, do I need anyone else? Could I be gearing/perfecting them instead of dicking around on a character I might not play much?” and just deciding it’s not worth it, not just yet. I’m not in the position of “I’ve done EvErYtHiNg and now I have nothing to do!” like some people somehow are, but I am in the mindset of “this time could be spent bettering characters I actually use, or playing Civ 6 or Soul Calibur” and I just stop.
The hunter is mechanically strange to me as well. Ranged, but mobile. As a warlock main who is basically a fixed turret 99% of the time, playing a class that can freecast but move as well feels liberating, but also dangerous. If I get too used to moving when casting as a hunter, I might end up translating that into my warlock gameplay, and interrupt all my fuckin’ casts. Can’t have that, no sir.
Soul Calibur 6 is finally out, which means we all get to play as Mr #FashionGoals himself, Voldo! Our favourite, oh yes indeed.