Tag Archives: Nocturne

Mot, the King of Boss Fight Bullshittery

Boss fights. Gotta love ’em, that old staple trope of video games. You get to the end (or middle!) of a section of whatever game you are playing, and you’re faced with the end boss (or mid boss!). Some bosses are simple, others… less so.

Whether you’re facing off against a 100 year-old sniper capable of photosynthesising in a massive map with several sections that he of course can shoot you through, or the lone knight your main character fights mano a mano, or the robot that flat-out removes characters from the fight one by one, there are some bosses that are frustrating to fight.

And then there’s Mot.

MOT!

If you have played Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne on the PS2 way back in 2004, you’d know that this is a game where the bosses do NOT fuck around. Just about every boss in the game could conceivably be That One Boss in any other game, but ol’ Coffin Boy here takes the biscuit. Why so? Well, here’s a video showing you.

Well what the hell was going on there?! To explain why this boss is so stupidly broken, we need to go over Nocturne’s battle system.

Press Turn Battle System

See those little icons in the top right of the screen? Next to the word Player? These are your Turn Icons. Generally, you get one icon per member of your party, and when a party member does an action, it spends a Turn Icon. Depending on how the enemy is affected by said action, more icons or fewer icons can be used. An enemy dodges the attack or nullifies it? It actually uses TWO icons, not one. You hit an enemy with a critical hit or an elemental weakness, or pass to the next character? You use HALF an icon!

This also applies to your enemies, as you can see in the above gif. He has two turn icons at the start of his turn, he launches an attack, the attack is dodged, so both turn icons are spent!

In this gif, Titania hits Mot with his weakness, electricity, causing one of the Turn Icons not to be consumed, but to flash! This means it has been half consumed, so the next attack will use the rest of it. Targeting your opponents weaknesses is the key to maximising your turns; the more you make half icons, the more actions you can take before it’s your opponent’s turn.

While you get one Turn Icon per character on your team, bosses generally get 2 or more, by virtue of the fight being 1v4 so as to balance it, but some bosses (hello Mot) have an attack called Beast Eye. This takes a Turn Icon (or a Half Turn Icon!) and turns it into TWO Half Turn Icons. Now, generally this ability has rather a low priority in a boss’s moveset, because wouldn’t it be ever so frustrating if a boss were to just spam it constantly, giving them potentially near-infinite turns?

Hello Mot.

Back To Mot!

Here’s a short video of how the Mot fight can go if you’re relatively unlucky. I’ll give you a blow-by-blow!

  • Mot’s turn starts. 2 PT icons.
  • Mot uses Beast Eye. 3 PT icons.
  • Mot uses Beast Eye. 4 PT icons.
  • Mot uses Makakaja (buffs his magic stat). 3 PT icons.
  • Mot uses Beast Eye. 4 PT icons.
  • Mot uses Makakaja. 3 PT icons.
  • Mot uses Makakaja. 2 PT icons.
  • Mot uses Beast Eye. 3 PT icons.
  • Mot uses Makakaja. 2 PT icons.
  • Mot uses Makakaja. 1 PT icon.
  • Mot uses Megadolaon. Kills the main character, thus triggering a Game Over.

Oh yes, even if you have other party members, if your main character falls in battle, it’s an instant game over. It makes sense with the mechanics of the game I guess; the other members of your party are demons you have summoned, so if you die, the demons would theoretically be dismissed, so they really cannot go on without you.

Mot seems to be programmed to use three attacks with absolute priority over his others. He has a physical attack and a Force-based magic, as well as a heal spell, but he tends to escew these in favour of increasing his Turn Icons, buffing his magic stat, then nuking you with Megidolaon, a magic attack of the Almighty element, an element that is treated as non-elemental, but also ignores repelling or absorbing abilities. Basically, these types of spell will always do damage unless it actively misses you.

So yes, we have a boss that can basically take an infinite number of actions per turn, or at least as many as it needs to outright kill you, without letting your party get an action in. In a game full of really difficult bosses (Matador, Trumpeter, Beelzebub, Baal, Noah, Lucifer), Mot is the boss that takes the game’s mechanics and happily abuses them, almost as much as the player does in any other game!

Truly, this coffin-monster is a reflection of humanity itself.

Toughest Video Game Bosses #1: MATADOR

I intend this to be a series on the bosses I consider to be the most difficult, frustrating bosses in all of video games! Naturally, this is merely my opinion, maybe you have bosses you find more difficult? Or you consider the bosses I list easy? Let me know!

For now, we kick off with…

Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne

MATADOR

matador2

To understand what makes this boss so potentially devastating to you, you need to understand the battle system of Nocturne. It uses something called the Press Turn Battle system, whereby you take turns, and how many actions you can perform are indicated by how many icons appear in the top right.

smt_nocturne_95

There are 4 icons, therefore 4 actions, generally 1 per unit. You have 4 units? 4 actions! If you’re lucky enough to get a critical hit, or you hit an enemy’s weakness, one of those turn icons, instead of disappearing, turns into a “half turn” icon, meaning you can take more actions! If your attacks miss, or the enemy nullifies/drains/reflects the type of damage you tried to do, however, it consumes TWO turn icons, effectively REDUCING the actions you can take in your turn.

This applies to the enemy too. They hit a weakness, they take more actions. They miss you, they lose turns.

And so we get to the Matador.

smt3-matador

In a lot of RPG games, you get various magical abilities. Nocturne is no different. They fall into several categories here:

  • Attack magic: The most commonly used magic!
  • Healing magic: 2nd most used, probably most useful.
  • Status magic: Inflict status effects!
  • Support magic: Buff stats, debuff stats, and remove stat buffs from your enemy/stat debuffs from you.

A lot of people tend to neglect support and status magic in most RPG’s. It doesn’t do direct damage or heal, so what’s the point? They may keep attack-boosting spells (in this game, Tarukaja boosts physical damage, Makakaja boosts magical damage), but other than that? Useless!

Not here. Not now.

Around 1/3 of the way through the game, in the Great Underpass of Ginza, you run into this bullfighting monstrosity. The first action he takes (and he WILL take the first action) is to use the ability Red Capote. This buffs his evasion to maximum levels.

Now, remember what I said about what happens if you miss attacks? You lose turns. This means you potentially lose precious healing turns!

He may be a speedy little bugger, but he also packs a massive punch, thanks to his powerful Force spell Mazan, which hits all of your party, and the physical ability Andalucia, which hits random targets several times. And yes, it is possible for ALL the hits to be on one character.

matador_small_5624

The trick with him (and many bosses in the game, and even random encounters!) is to use the spells that other games treat as useless. The debuffers. Dekaja will nullify his evasion boost (until he casts it again of course), and Dekunda will restore your defense to normal (his ability Taunt buffs your physical attack, but reduces your defence, which will make his Andalucia hurt even MORE).

He tends to get a bit nasty when you’ve knocked off half his health. He starts combining his Andalucia attack with an ability called Focus, which causes his next physical ability to do 2.5x the normal damage. Ouch. It’s tempting beforehand to equip your main character with a Magatama (the essence of a demon that confers elemental strengths and weaknesses and level-up abilities, usable only by your main character, the Demi-Fiend) that nullifies Force abilities, this way he loses turns every time he uses Mazan.

Thing is, Mazan is NOT his most dangerous ability, it’s Andalucia (and Focus/Andalucia especially), so equipping a Magatama that halves Physical damage is more helpful here. He won’t lose turns, but he won’t KO your main character so damn easily.

Oh, by the way, your main character’s HP reducing to zero means game over, even if you have other party members at full health, so watch out for that (Focused Andalucia’s hits all hitting the Demi-Fiend will probably result in a game over!). Having the Fog Breath ability on one of your demons will also be a big boost, as this reduces his evasion AND accuracy, and if he misses an attack? He loses turns!

spec

Matador is a very rude awakening. While the rest of the game up to this point isn’t exactly a cakewalk, Matador is a massive spike in difficulty compared to what came previously, and usually requires special preperations to actually defeat (having a physical-resisting main character, a demon that nulls Force, a way to counter Red Capote, and a healer that can heal everyone at once), but also teaches you that this game is not like other RPGs. It teaches that buffing your stats and (more importantly) debuffing your opponents,or even simply dispelling them, is an incredibly important tactic, and that it’s in your best interests to have party members capable of using at LEAST Dekaja (nullify enemy stat boosts) and Dekunda (nullify ally stat debuffs), especially later in the game when enemies will start throwing Degenerate (lowers ALL your stats) at you.

NEXT TIME:

hbvg2

Oh yes. The one that, if unprepared, causes you to have to RESTART THE WHOLE GAME.