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Oct 2, 2013

It's back

PoPoLoCrois Story is an RPG released in Japan in 1996 for the Playstation by SCEI. It was based off of a newspaper comic that was run in an offshoot newspaper from Asahi News. Though the comic itself was relatively short-lived, the game went on to spawn 4 sequels and 2 anime series. To Japanese RPG gamers who grew up during the PS1 era, it is one of the most memorable and nostalgic series from the console.

The title is a combination of 'popolo' (people in Italian) and 'croix' (crossing in French). The concept was a 'crossing of peoples' or a story involving people of different racial and cultural backgrounds.

The game has an approachable plot that is easy for players of any age to relate to. It has meaty enough mechanics and style that older players will be drawn in, and tons of visual personality to keep younger players entertained.

The game has a hugely varied soundtrack and, thanks to the efforts of How Ingratiating! I have most of the tracks from the game. I will be posting them up on Tindeck so please enjoy them!

Because the game is absolutely stuffed full of little animations, expect to see lots of gifs in this LP. A huge part of this story can be told without words, and I want to keep my narrative as simple and concise as possible to preserve the fairy-tale like style of the game.

Some of you may have read my old LP of this which got half-eaten by an archiving issue, so to you I'll have to apologize but this time around I'm not doing a narrative. I will just be doing this like a normal RPG SSLP with important conversations written out and my commentary and game mechanics included with it all instead of trying to break it up and divide the in character stuff from the out of character stuff. I realized I was spending way more time writing stuff out last time than I would have been if I had just used a normal format.

In-game text will all be in bold, all my stuff will be un-bolded.

I will have videos on Youtube for all animated cutscenes and boss battles, with subtitles applied as necessary.

Please don't spoil the story, even in spoiler tags. This will probably be the first time many people have even heard of this game, and I don't want their enjoyment of the plot to be ruined.

The anime based off these games are really good but I'd recommend avoiding any of them if you want to remain unspoiled since all of them take place after the events of this game and all of them contain rather massive spoilers.

Without further ado, the prologue:

Once upon a time...
Once when this world was ruled by swords and magic
In a certain land there was a small kingdom called Popolocrois.
Popolocrois was ruled by the good king, Paulo Pakapuka.
His beautiful queen was named Sania.

After a time a lovely child was born to them.
They named him Pietro.
On the day of the Prince's birth, the castle was full of jubilant voices.

Out of nowhere, a horrible wave of cold assaulted Popolocrois.
The land was engulfed by a terrible blizzard, and soon every mountain, river and city was entombed in ice.

This was all the doing of the Lord of Ice, who held dominion over all the northern lands.

The Lord of Ice and his *four generals, who were all masters of powerful magic, came to lay waste to Popolocrois.

The Lord of Ice's demonic army was powerful.
It seemed it would be only a matter of time before all of King Paulo's soldiers fell.
But, just then...

A giant, magnificent dragon appeared and came to the aid of Popolocrois.
The dragon and the Lord of Ice locked in ferocious battle for seven days and seven nights.
Finally, when both were at the point of death, the Lord of Ice was defeated.

When the Lord of Ice found himself falling into the Dark Beyond, he reached out and grabbed hold of the dragon.
The two of them fell into the darkness together.

The people of Popolocrois were not slow to remember their savior.
They erected statues of the dragon, and it became a symbol of their kingdom.

Since that time, 10 years have now passed.
Prince Pietro has grown up kind and strong.
It is now the day of his 10th birthday.
And, as night falls and the party begins...
So does our young hero's adventure.

(*The four generals in Japanese are called the 'Shitenou' or 'Four Heavenly Lords'. This is a common term that crops up in anime and games all over the place. The Elite Four from Pokemon are also called this in Japanese, for example. It is a term that has deep cultural and historical meanings in the Orient, but next to none in the West, therefore I will be ignoring it as a term. If you want more info on the Shitenou, Wikipedia has a fairly good article on it as well as various placed it's been used in Eastern media)


Oct 2, 2013

Update 1
Update 2
Update 3
Update 4
Update 5
Update 6


toddy. shows us the truth behind the apprentice's 'accident'.


Getsuya fucked around with this message at 16:26 on Feb 13, 2016

Oct 2, 2013

Chapter 1
The Stolen Crown

Old Dude: Ahahahaaa!

Old Dude: The treasure is all mine!
We pan out to see the old dude (who is randomly riding a tricycle) is riding in a large airship.

Followed by lots and lots of other little airships.

Old Dude: Oh, there it is!

Old Dude: Popolocrois Castle!

Narration: Today is Prince Pietro's 10th birthday.

Narration: All the people from the castle and the nearby town came to offer their congratulations and gifts.

Narration: But even at his own birthday party, the Prince had a gloomy face.

Narration: This was because the person Pietro most wanted to celebrate with...

Narration: ...was not there.

The scene transitions to Pietro alone on the balcony outside his room.

Pietro: *sigh... I wonder what's wrong with me? Even though everyone was celebrating my birthday, I feel so lonely.
Pietro: I wish I could see my mom, just once... but that's never gonna happen. She died a long time ago, after all...

Pietro hears a rustling noise and peeks over the balcony.

He sees the king hurrying toward a tower across a small bridge behind the castle.

Naturally, he follows.

There he found a chest that will stick in the back of the player's mind until they finally get around to opening it... which takes a while, frustratingly.

And, as he's going up the stairs, he pauses to look at a picture of a lady up on the wall.

King: Time really does fly, doesn't it...
King: Has it really been 10 years? That's right, he turned 10 today.
King: No need to worry about little Pietro. He has a few rough edges to be worked out...
King: But he's growing up strong and true.

Pietro: Father what... are you doing?
Pietro walks over to stand by his father

Pietro: Father, who is this lady? Why is she sleeping?

Pietro: Father, why won't you say anything? Father? Is... is she...?

Just then...

The ominous-looking airships from the opening appear and fly toward the castle

The king books it, followed by Pietro who lags behind a bit

Man look at all the detail in this brief scene. The bombs all not only have the old dude's face on them but they explode in a cloud shaped like his face as well. And if you look at the beginning you can see the shadows of the airships crossing the ground. This game has both amazing animated cutscenes AND amazing in-game animated cutscenes as well.

Anyway, we cut to the throne room

King: What's going on? Who in the world could be behind this!

???: Hehe, looks like I found the treasure!

King: Who are you!?
GamiGami: Me? I'm the Evil Genius, Lord GamiGami!
King: Why are you doing this?

GamiGami: I want the treasure sitting on your head
GamiGami: The Crown of Wisdom!

Just then Pietro comes pelting in
Pietro: Father!

Pietro: Father...
Pietro: You did this to him, didn't you! I won't forgive you for this!

Not... exactly your typical JRPG protagonist...

GamiGami: What's this kid's problem?
GamiGami: Well, whatever. I've got the treasure, no need to stick around.

GamiGami: Listen kid, if you want to try beating a genius like me...

GamiGami: Try again in a billion years or so!

As the shot fades from night to day the fires die down.

Such a horrible ending for Prince Pietro's 10th birthday!
Lord GamiGami and his goons had stolen the treasure of Popolocrois Castle: the Crown of Wisdom.
With not only the soldiers but the king defeated as well, there was mass confusion among the people.
Finally, once all the fires had been put out and the soldiers' wounds had been seen to...
The sun was already rising in the East.

Morm: What to do, what to do
Morm: Anyone who wears the Crown of Wisdom gains knowledge far beyond our reckoning.
Morm: In the hands of that maniac GamiGami who knows what will happen.
Morm: If only our soldiers weren't still recovering from their wounds...
Morm: Someone needs to track down GamiGami before he uses the crown to create some kind of monstrosity.

At this point Pietro steps in front of Morm, who continues pacing without noticing Pietro. He even pushes Pietro a little out of the way with his pacing, so deep in thought is he.

Morm: Prince Pietro?
Morm: What? You want to get the crown back?

Here Pietro and Morm engage in a silent conversation of nodding and shaking their heads without saying anything. Until:

Morm: *sobs a little
Morm: And here I thought you were still just a child...
Morm: To think you'd offer to go by yourself for the sake of the king...
Morm: I understand, Prince Pietro. Just leave everything to me!
Morm: I'll get everything ready for your journey and... oh! Of course!
Morm: Hey you two! Get in here!

Morm: These two are Gon and Don. To say they are the finest swordsmen of all the soldiers left standing...

Morm: would be quite an exaggeration.
Morm: But they are the youngest and fittest of the soldiers. I believe they will serve you well.

Gon: My name is Gon! I'll do my best!

Don: I, I'm... I mean, my name is Don.
Don: I'll do my best!

Gon: We'll go on ahead to Popolocrois Town and get some supplies together.
Gon: Come meet us when you're ready to go.

The two soldiers leave, but just as Pietro is about to follow them...

King: Wait...
Morm: My liege!

King: How could you even think of sending a child like Pietro out on his own.
Morm: But your majesty!
King: Pietro is not to leave these castle walls. That is my order as King!

The King tries to get out a few more words but his energy is spent and he falls back asleep.

Morm: I'm sorry, but if the King gives an order, then even I cannot go against him...

Oh don't worry Morm. We definitely intend to obey the King's orders and not run off.



Anyway we can finally move around, but I'll leave exploring the castle for next time. Instead the game wants us to head over to the tower and check it out. As soon as we get close:

Voice: Pietro... Pietro...
Voice: Pietro, I can see the desire in your heart. The desire to protect this kingdom.
Voice: But you are still weak.
Voice: I will lend you my strength.

Awww hell yeah. Now we're ready to rock.

Getsuya fucked around with this message at 23:22 on Jan 15, 2016

Seraphic Neoman
Jul 19, 2011

Yay! This one was cute as hell :3:

Aug 23, 2007

It's okay if you have any questions.

Glad to see this back.

Jul 10, 2008

Gravy Boat 2k

Was the PSP version of these games any good? Pretty distinctive art style, I'm kinda curious.

Oct 2, 2013

People mentioned enjoying it on the past version of this LP, and it's not horrible, but just be warned that it smooshes together the stories of both Popolocrois 1 and 2 and abridges both of them. You get maybe a quarter of 1, maybe a tenth of 2 and then a new added scenario that expands on 2 a little. Still it's probably going to be the only way to experience any of the story from both games in English (aside from this LP of course).

However if you want to play a much better Popolocrois game in English there is the 3DS Popolocrois Story of Seasons game coming out, which is Popolocrois meets Harvest Moon (though reviews have described it as much more of a Popolocrois game than a Harvest Moon game). It's supposed to be very enjoyable.

Nov 9, 2011

Foolish child of man...
After reading all this,
do you still not understand?

Never heard of this, but it looks interesting. Glad to be in on the ground floor.

Nov 4, 2014

I won this avatar on a technicality this thick.

This looks like a cute game. Looking forward to it.
You left this in the update.

Oct 2, 2013

So I did, thanks for catching it.

The next few updates should go pretty quickly since I'm pulling a lot of material and images from my old posts. I'll probably get one up tomorrow.

Oct 2, 2013

Update 2

Though you're free to explore the castle as soon as you gain control of Pietro, I ran and grabbed Gon and Don first (for narrative purposes in my previous LP). You meet them if you exit out the front of Popolocrois Castle, which leads into the town of Popolocrois.

Gon: What took you so long, Prince?
Gon: Did something happen at the castle?
Gon: Forget about it, let's just go teach that GamiGami guy a lesson!

Okay now let's check out what the castle has for us.
Most of the NPCs either give us gameplay tips (Press O to talk, here's how battle works, these are the status ailments etc.) Or they give simple exposition about the world. I'm not going to go into too much detail unless I find a particular conversation really interesting, since I want to keep this translation down to a sane level. Anyway let's check out some of the treasures and interesting finds in the castle:

This is Pietro's room,

and climbing the ladder leads us to

an attic room with a piggy-bank. You can choose to take the piggy bank with you, in which case it is an item that keeps all your money safe once if you die (it breaks after use). Otherwise normally you'd lose half your money on death. I am not, however, going to take it with me now or at any point. The important thing to remember about the piggy bank is that once you take it you can never put it back. Why this is important will be apparent a little later in the LP.

In the mages' quarters there's an apprentice girl who wants to try out her healing spell on us.
Sure, sounds fair

I... that doesn't look like a healing spell.

Anyway the girl apologizes profusely and if you talk to her again she insists that THIS TIME she's got it... after which she will proceed to burn you again. Every time.
(If this is what the magical training is like at Popolocrois Castle no wonder Pietro starts out only knowing fire magic)

Downstairs from the mages' quarters is this room. It holds three treasures that, on my first playthrough, I didn't even know were there until Chapter 2, several hours into the game. What do they contain? Oh nothing much, just the World Map, Monster Encyclopedia and Exit Lamp. Yeah the game doesn't even tell you they exist. You can probably guess what the first two are, and the third one is this game's fast travel item. It will take you back to the last place you slept, which allows for teleporting back to town easily. Would have been nice to have, on my first time through.

As mentioned in the prologue, the people of Popolocrois worship the dragon that protected them, as this statue's description will remind you if you examine it.

Right above where the dragon statue is, is this house. It is a weird house. The couple sit in there and sigh, and if you try to talk to them they just mumble something about 'we were so happy to move into our new house but...' and that's it.
But what? Is the rent too high?
Does it have asbestos in the walls?
Is it haunted?

At one end of town there is a school building. When you approach a teacher pops out and tells the kids to come inside.

The first little girl to go turns around and says everyone'll get a spanking if they don't hurry.

And then they're all in studying.
So the reason I point out this sequence of events is that it has only happened 1/3 of the time when I play this game. I have no idea what does or does not trigger it, but the first and second time I played there was no scene and instead the teacher was just inside the school complaining to herself about low attendance until she notices Pietro is listening and apologizes.
Bottom line is it pays to poke around in this game and talk to everyone. I just wish I could provide a 100% translation of everything and show everything the game has off. Well, hopefully the snapshot I'm giving is enough.

On the opposite side of town there is a belltower.

At the very top of the belltower is the Sword of Martin, wait no that was at the top of the abbey wasn't it sword of some old guy.
Interacting with it prompts us whether to pick it up or not.

If we say yes this guy pops up and tells us how that was his weapon from when he was a brave soldier who fought against hordes of monsters.
Sadly, he points out that it's far too heavy for any of us young bucks to pick up, and tells us to come back if we ever get a more brawny companion.

He is perfectly happy to part with the rest of his treasure, though, which consists of a few healing items including a Dragon's Tear, which is this game's revival item.

And that wraps it up for the town. There are some other places, but we'll hit them up later on when they have more relevance. There's also a shop, but we have more than enough items just from raiding the castle and that old guy's belltower, and nobody needs weapon or armor upgrades.

Incidentally, the sword Pietro got in the first update is called the Dragon Sword, and it levels as he does. If you level at a normal pace there will never be any need to buy Pietro replacement weapons. Any minor attack boost a bought sword could have will be outpaced in a level or two by the Dragon Sword.

Also since we're outside of town let's talk about something. This game has very few zone barriers. For example, when we cross over from Popolocrois town into the wilds there is no loading or any indication we have left the 'city' zone. Which means you can literally get into a fight the first step you take off that bridge. In cities where there isn't a wall that clearly defines where the city starts or ends, this could mean you get in a fight a few steps away from the inn where you were going to rest up cuz' you're almost dead and hey now you're all the way dead.

Also this game has a very high encounter rate.

So yeah. Save often, heal often, and high-tail it back to town the instant you start getting worried. This makes the instant-teleport item I picked up in the basement very, very important and useful.

Here's the map we got from the castle. Right now the fairy-pointer thing is where we are, Popolocrois Castle/city.
The shaded out areas are everywhere we haven't been. It's a small world, I know, but it's full of lots of adventures.

Our destination is Takinen Village. It is literally a stone's throw away from Popolocrois if you're running, but I decided to run around in the wilds for a bit so I could show off the battles.

Because, I mean, it's one thing for a game to look nice and sound pretty good and have lots of animations, but if the mechanics aren't fun or interesting there's not much point right?
So let's talk mechanics.

When battles initiate your characters pause and there's a snapping sound like someone stepped on a twig. The brief pause before the monsters appear is all the loading required, which is really nice.

Here is the battle theme for the first area. There are over a dozen different battle themes in this game, not even counting boss themes of which there are also several. Each battle theme is crafted to fit with the area theme, so that when it pops up it sounds like a natural continuation of the area theme. It's a very interesting musical thing that I haven't seen happen in many other RPGs. Most RPGs you're lucky to get 2 or 3 different normal random battle themes. Not Popolocrois.

Anyway here's the battle screen. On each character's turn you see a blue grid representing where they can move and red squares showing places they can move that will put them in range to attack an enemy.

And here's the Attack-Cast-Defend box. You can also press right for more options, but we'll get to those when we talk more about in-depth mechanics, which they mostly deal with.

Pietro starts the game with the Fireball spell. It is a decently damaging spell that normally does quite a bit more than Pietro's normal attack, except against enemies that resist fire or magic. Expect to see me spamming it constantly for reasons I will explain a bit later this update.

Anytime a player character casts an offensive spell the other characters duck and cover. It's a cute little extra touch.
Also every enemy in the game has a 'burned to a crisp' image for them. No I will never get tired of pointing out how much attention to detail this game has.
On a more serious subject, you can see a percentage appear above the damage from the spell. This percentage gives you a good idea of how weak or strong the enemy is against your magic attacks. Usually a 100+% means they're weak to that element or magic in general. It is also slightly tied in with a mechanic I'll explain next time I do a mechanics update.

There are two ways to physically attack the enemy. One is to move your character over to a red square and then select attack and then the enemy. This is the slow and clunky way to do it. You can also just select attack and then the enemy in which case the character will automatically beeline for the enemy and smack them.

If you're far away from the enemy and you select to run over and smack them, sometimes your character will do what I call a Dash Attack.

The character dashes over and absolutely smashes the enemy. This is different from a critical, in which a box saying 'Critical' will appear and a different attack animation will play.
These dash attacks (and the ease of doing it) are the pros of using the auto-attack method instead of the move-select-attack method. There is one con but it is trifling and I'll mention it when it comes into play.

Here's Pietro doing his Dash Attack.
Also, keep in mind that battles can happen facing any of the four directions on the isometric grid. This means that every attack animation in the game has at least 4 variations, one for each of the directions the characters and enemies may be facing. Have I brought up how much effort was put into this game yet?

Victory! After each battle you get a little report of how much EXP and Gold you got. The enemies may also drop a little chest when they die. I'll go over some of the mechanics regarding that when we see one. Also: the victory jingle also changes subtly to match each area theme. As does the Game Over jingle. They seriously thought of everything.

This googly-lookin' bird is one of the more dangerous enemies right out of the gate. Here's what he can do:

Luckily he's a bit of a glass cannon so one round of hits from everyone and he goes down.

Killing the bird nets us not only normal EXP, but Magic EXP as well.
You get experience for any given spell each time you use that spell, but you also get universal magical exp from certain enemies that can level up all your spells, not just the ones you used that battle.
The amount of magical exp required to level spells is pretty steep, so it behooves you to spam magic as much as possible right from the beginning. Leveling certain spells up enough can even change their effects completely. Having lots of high-level magic isn't required to beat the game, but it will make the end game so much easier. Plus it makes battles flashier, if a little more tedious. Luckily that's only for me to worry about since you folks won't have to see all the grinding.

And our last battle for the update shows off the last of the four monsters roaming this starting area. Yes thank you helpful pointer hand, it's that one!
I'm not mentioning the names or stats of these enemies at the moment, but don't you worry. I'll post their Monster Manual profiles at the end of the update.

Killing them causes Pietro and co. to jump for joy. This victory dance thing doesn't happen at the end of every battle, and I'm not sure what the requirements are for it. It's basically just following the Final Fantasy theme of 'jump up and down next to your enemy's corpses', but the fact that it only happens now and then makes it interesting.

I run around and grind a bit more and get Pietro and co. to Level 2.
Pietro learns Heal Water, a single-target healing spell. Gon learns Fireball, same as what Pietro has, and Don learns Cure Water, a status-ailment healing spell that (at level 1) gets rid of poison.

And that's it for this update! Next time we'll go through the village and hit the woods.
For now I'll leave you with the Monster Manual pages for the guys we fought this update.

Left: Doroun
Note: Weak

Right: Big Preying Mantis
Note: Moves fast

Left: Big Stag Beetle
Note: Strong defenses

Right: Blitzkrieg Bird
Special Attack: Vulcan Peck
Note: Dangerous for low-level characters

Nov 9, 2008

Impractical practicality

I really like the spirtework for this game. This is reminding me of Chrono Trigger a little bit. Why the heck wasn't this ported and translated for the US? I'd have loved to have this back in 96!

Dec 30, 2014


Man, that sprite and soundtrack work really does shine through, even nowadays that would be a lot of effort for a sprite-based game.

Also, a curious look at Wikipedia tells me that the dev studio also went on to make the 3DS J-horror extravaganza Nanashi No Game and its sequel. I can see that their library seems to prioritize a certain level of artistry and creativity.

Oct 29, 2011

Getsuya posted:

Here is the battle theme for the first area.

This track owns.

Jul 22, 2007

Hail all those who are able,
any mouse can,
any mouse will,
but the Guard prevail.

Clapping Larry

Oh, huh. So you're only buying weapons to outfit your other party members? I suppose having one guy's equipment automatically update is convenient if you drop cash on death.

Oct 2, 2013

Glazius posted:

Oh, huh. So you're only buying weapons to outfit your other party members? I suppose having one guy's equipment automatically update is convenient if you drop cash on death.

Nah that only applies to his weapon. I still have to update his armor normally. Still this is one of those RPGs where it pays to explore because you usually find all the equipment you need in chests.

Nov 14, 2014

This game looks incredibly charming. I'm going to have to follow this

Oct 2, 2013

Update 3

Here we are at Takinen Village. It's pretty small, and there's nothing separating it from the forest so there are places where you'll get attacked going from building to building because you don't realize you've step outside the 'town' safe zone.

So, first things first, we want to get rested up before something gets lucky and kills us. Between the fields and the forest the enemies gain a significant amount of strength, so it would be easy to carelessly die just while walking around town without getting full on health first.

Upstairs from the last screenshot is a sort of free inn. As soon as you walk into the room the game prompts you to sleep/save. So, we do.

And now let's go check out the town and get some information.

Lady: A little while ago, a man in heavy armor headed off into the Lost Forest.
Lady: He was muttering something about a sword...

Guy: Not many folk from the village will go into the Lost Forest
Guy: The witch Gilda hates it when humans enter her forest, so she sends monsters to chase us out

This guy brags about how great he is and insists there aren't any monsters in the forest

And goes on with his woodchopping

until he hears a branch snapping

Man remember when anime used to use these all the time? I'm getting 90s flashbacks.

Anyway he runs off with some excuse about his back hurting.

And monsters show up. Surprise surprise. It's kind of hard to see them through the trees, though that's just one of the things they had to deal with when making battles happen right on the map.
Which reminds me, one of the things that's interesting is that the entire game is set up on a grid so no matter where battles happen there's a definite grid you can move on where the battle can take place. Sometimes this leads to interesting situations, though, since there are locations where you'll get into a battle and an enemy will be stuck in a location where the current floor layout makes inaccessible. Luckily you'll pretty much always have ranged attacks to use.

Anyway after we take down those enemies we meet up with this guy, who says he knows everything about the area.
According to him, GamiGami's castle is past the Lost Forest, and up in a kind of 'metal cave' in the hills. He also says there's a place around the castle full of giant heaps of trash.

Then there's this guy. This guy's awesome.

If you ask him, he'll show you his super wood-chopping technique. I'm kinda disappointed Pietro doesn't learn any new attacks from watching him.
Anywho, off into the forest we go.

Here's the theme for the forest and

Here's the battle theme

While fighting we get our first treasure drop. All enemies can drop one of two treasures, a common one and a rare one. If you're hunting rare drops, always remember that only the last monster you kill will drop a treasure chest. Honestly I've never spent any time in any of my playthroughs grinding treasure drops.

Here's Pietro getting a crit, so you can see it's different from the dash attack.

Anyway, I'd show off more of the forest but there really isn't much to it.
The screens you've seen are pretty much all there is. It's just a twisty path of trees with some dead ends.
There may be some treasure hidden around in the forest, but I'm ignoring it for now for reasons I will explain later.
For now, here's the monsters I fought in the forest!

Living Dead
Note: Weak to holy magic. Can poison.

Bone Dead
Powers: Throw Rib, Throw Head
Treasure: Healing Leaf
Notes: Weak to holy magic and fire.

Poison is pretty normal in this game. Get a little skull and crossbones above your character and it ticks down your life each turn you take. Battles usually go too quickly for it to wipe you out, though it can be dangerous if you're low on health when you get hit, since it does do about 1/6th of your health per tick. It heals automatically at the end of battle.

Giant Bat
Powers: Suck Blood
Treasure: Healing Leaf
Notes: Fast

Powers: Trick
Notes: Strong defense. Also resists magic.

Boyo-ns also give tons of magic experience. Fighting one got me about 10 points, which was enough to level Pietro's Fireball to level 2. Which is very good.

Also on our way Pietro hit level 4 and learned his first Special Attack: Kaze no Yaiba (Wind Blade).
I'll talk about it when I use it.

One of the side-paths in the forest can take you to this place.

A fairy appears and offers to heal your guys. It's not too far away from the free heals of the village, but it's nice if you're having a rough time in the forest. Which is possible, considering the poison zombies and the super-quick bats that almost always get a swing in before going down.

Also this place is completely forgettable which is a bad thing since it's tied to a sidequest later in the game that is so easy to miss I didn't even know it existed until I used a guide for my 3rd playthrough.

More woods. It's all like this.

Until we come to a clearing.

And in the middle of the clearing, we find this strange little treehouse. Let's go see if someone's home.


Monster: Guhehe, hehehe. So you came. I know ALLLLLL about you.

Monster: Well, who'm I gonna eat first? You? Or maybe you?

Our bodyguards have an 'I didn't sign up for this' moment


Don: We'll be k-k-k-killed! I'm s-s-s-scared!!

O... kay. Well we can handle this ourselves, can't we Pietro.
Let's handle this ourselves.

Pietro isn't taking any of this monster's BS. <Boss Battle VS Lesser Demon

Here's the first boss battle theme (yes there are multiple):

Okay, let's talk about the first boss.

First of all, he hits like a tank.
He can use ice magic that can easily two-shot Pietro.

Or a swipe attack that does about 18-19 damage.
Those are his only two attacks, but sometimes the turn order comes around in just the right way for him to get two hits off.
Luckily I've never seen him use the ice spell twice in a row. It probably has a longer recovery time than his normal attack.
Ah, yes, that reminds me. This game has an ATB system, but it's invisible. Different spells and skills have different turn weights, so certain actions will cause your turn to come up again faster or slower depending. It doesn't come up too often, though. Usually it's pretty steady about everyone getting a turn, then all the enemies getting a turn, then back to your party etc. Some enemies like the bats in the forest are so quick they're almost guaranteed to go before you do, though.

This is the menu that comes up if you press Right in the battle menu.
The top option is 'Kiai' (gather energy). Doing this fills up the little blue bar beneath your character portrait.
This is your 'Guts' bar. Normal attacks and most special attacks cause it to deplete, lowering your damage output.
Higher guts=higher damage. Kiai as well as defending will replenish guts.

This is Pietro's first Special Attack, 'Kaze no Yaiba' (Wind Blade). It is basically just a weak, ranged physical attack, but it does have one special property. It does not drain your Guts meter. Therefore you can pump Pietro up to max Guts and throw Kaze no Yaiba around with no repercussions. The only downside is that it is weaker than a normal physical attack. But since you don't have to pause to defend or Kiai to refill your Guts meter all the time when using it the damage balances out pretty well. Plus, bosses like to dodge the hell out of normal physical attacks, so you'll mostly fall back to either spells or specials for most boss fights.

Anyway, Pietro is obviously getting the crap kicked out of him by this guy's ice, so luckily we have our healing spell:

Heal Water. As you can see healing spells also have percentages. This is also tied into your Guts meter, so keeping Pietro high in Guts is beneficial.

Also, enemies also have a Guts meter. If you watch the video, you'll see a blue bar briefly flash each time the enemy attacks. By the end of the battle he's mostly worn his out.

And so, with one final fireball:


After the battle the door to the house opens up and this lady comes floating down, ignoring the ladder:

A little girl follows behind her, though she just climbs down the normal way.

Witch: Keh, what's this, what's this? That monster of yours wasn't worth me spit! Couldn't even scare off a yearling like that'n. Let yer big sis show ye how it's done.

The girl's textbox gives her the name Narcia.
Narcia: Sis, that was horrible! It doesn't matter who he is, there was no call for you to do that...
Narcia: Is he... going to be alright?

Oct 30, 2010

It's back! :neckbeard:

Feb 22, 2013

I fell in love with a Video Nasty

Welp, The End, good LP everybody.

Feb 19, 2011

End Session?

Poor kid, first his bodyguards leave and then he has a heart attack. :smith:

Jul 22, 2007

Hail all those who are able,
any mouse can,
any mouse will,
but the Guard prevail.

Clapping Larry

Dang. Did not expect the guards to have such a small gameplay duration. Usually your tutorial help abandons you AFTER the first boss...

Seraphic Neoman
Jul 19, 2011

To be honest, losing your guards before a touugh boss is kinda mean, game design-wise.

Aug 13, 2010

"Sometimes life is too uncertain to have regrets."

The battle doesn't seem too tricky, but it's hard for me to examine that as someone who's played a shitton. I think keeping them is what I would have done gameplay wise, and just beef up the boss to make it more forgiving.

Still, comes the problem of narratively getting rid of them after.

Nov 9, 2011

Foolish child of man...
After reading all this,
do you still not understand?

Pladdicus posted:

Still, comes the problem of narratively getting rid of them after.

This seems like a perfectly fine opportunity to do that.

Oct 2, 2013

SSNeoman posted:

To be honest, losing your guards before a touugh boss is kinda mean, game design-wise.

Actually, I noticed something about this fight while I was playing through again to get new footage for the LP (since my footage from the original thread is long gone). The Lesser Demon wasted several turns waiting for no reason, and generally didn't use his ice attack very much. I'm pretty sure they nerfed the AI to not attack you very aggressively, but just to push your HP into the red a bit to make it seem challenging. I say this mostly because the later bosses WILL spam the crap out of their most annoying and damaging attacks so it feels like they intentionally had the very first boss go easy on you.

Then again, this game is pretty tough for how cutesy it looks. Even just getting around the first few areas requires you to keep an eye on your health, since an unlucky poison or getting killed by a bat taking the first turn is very possible. You get resurrected for free after every battle (assuming you don't wipe) so it balances out the challenge with some kindness.

The funny thing is the fanboys in Japan didn't think Popolocrois was hard or frustrating enough so, bending to their demands, the Popolocrois folks made Poporogue... a Popolocrois rogue-like. I will be skipping that after 1 and going directly to 2 for my next LP, though I may come back and visit it later. I suck at roguelikes though so I wouldn't count on it.

Oct 2, 2013

Update 4

Narcia: Is he really alright? He still isn't opening his eyes...
Gilda: Hmph! No need to worry about him. I know how to hold back when I need'ta!
Narcia: But...
Gilda: Eei! Quit yer yappin! Even if he is a kid, I ain't forgivin' him fer settin' foot in our woods! When he comes around maybe I'll just give him another taste of my magic!

Pietro: W-where am I?
Gilda: What, are you still half asleep? Yer in the house of Gilda the Forest Witch!
Pietro: You, you're Gilda?
Gilda: That's right, and you better listen up! My job is to protect these here woods from humans like you. Yer just a runt, so I'm willing to let you go just this once. But I better not see your face 'round these parts again.

Gilda: Eei, what's with that face? You got something to say?

Narcia: Wait, sis, let's hear what he has to say.

Pietro: M, my name is Pietro. I'm... the prince of Popolocrois.

Gilda: A prince you say? Well, what th'heck are you doing around here...

Pietro: Lord GamiGami stole the treasure of Popolocrois castle, and my father... no... the king has fallen into a deep sleep.

Pietro: All the soldiers, too. He got everyone... If, if I don't get the treasure back from him... there's no one else...
(Well there WAS Don and Gon...)

Gilda: Eei! I don't care, I don't care! What's the castle to me? What's the King to me? I'm not letting a human pass through these woods and that's final!

Narcia: Sister, stop this at once!
Narcia: I know you know that this boy's heart is true. I won't allow you to bully him just because you want to be stubborn!

Narcia: Don't worry, Prince Pietro. I'll go with you until you reach the edge of this forest... No, I'll stay with you until you find castle of Lord GamiGami.

Pietro: Really? You'll really go with me? Thank you! Thank you... um...

Narcia: I'm the Forest Witch Narcia, and that's my big sister, Gilda. Pleased to meet you, Prince Pietro.
Gidla: Hmph, suit yerself.

Narcia: Okay, let's go Prince Pietro. Just beyond these woods is a big mountain with strange metal caves. Those caves could be the doing of Lord GamiGami.

When we go to leave, Gilda says this:

Gilda: You finish up running around with him and get back here as soon as yer done, y'hear?

Now that our tutorial guys are gone, we have our first new party member: Narcia!
As you might expect from her being a Forest Witch, she is a 100% magic-user with no physical strength to speak of. She even starts out at level 1.
But first, before we actually start out into the field:

Gilda acts as an inn. If you talk to her she sticks her staff out and you're healed (kinda sad that there was no sparkly animation like at the fairy lake), and she saves your data if you talk to her after being healed.
Anyway, back into the forest.

Before we get into any fights I just wanted to show off the Formation option from the options menu.
There are 5 pre-set formations which change depending on how many people are in your party.
The first one works fine for now, since it puts Pietro in front of Narcia where he can tank hits for her, so I'll just be sticking with it.

Here's another variant just for comparison. The others are just different ways of putting the two side-by-side or one in front of the other (though only one option puts Narcia in front of Pietro).

I didn't want to grind up too much with the tutorial guys, so I didn't spend almost any time exploring the forest for treasure. Plus, once you defeat the Lesser Demon, the forest becomes enemy-free.
Also, the treasures you find are actually tailored for Narcia, so it makes more sense to pick them up once you have her. Back toward the village I found this: a Sacred Tree Staff.
(Actually because it's written in hiragana, the word 'shinboku' could mean either 'sacred tree' or 'friendship'. Both fit pretty well.)

And I found a Green Ring over toward the witch's house. Both this and the staff are a great early boost for Narcia.
Popolocrois is one of those 'don't buy, explore' RPGs where most of the good upgrades come from treasures in dungeons. Most of the time you can completely ignore shops since you're sure to pick up the better stuff they're selling by just being thorough when exploring the next dungeon. There are some exceptions, of course, but I didn't find myself going to shops too often during my previous run through.
Anyway, since we have some new pieces of equipment it's time to show off the equipment screen!

Every character can hold a weapon, 2 accessories (right now really all we have is either rings or bracelets but there will be more kinds later), and 2 types of items. I say 'types' because you can equip, for example 'Healing Leaves' seen here, and be able to use all 13 of them that are in the inventory. This introduces an interesting resource management issue since you have to split item carrying duties between characters. Should you make sure everyone has access to the basic healing and revival items? Or do you need to cover some status curing items? Should you take the more powerful single heal items or the party-wide weaker heals? It's restrictive, but in a good way that pushes for thinking out what items to use instead of just limiting what you can carry. It's never a matter of running out of items, instead it's on the player to make sure they have a good loadout.

The Green Ring is a huge upgrade for Narcia right off the bat.
The stats are pretty standard for RPGs, but just for reference they are, from top to bottom:

Magic Defense

Anyway. Almost immediately after leaving the woods we come to an area that is more sparsely wooded and with some big cliffs, signifying we're getting into the mountains. We also start meeting some new enemies. Like this guy.

He likes singing. He likes it a lot. In the battle pictured here he just kept flying back and forth singing despite my characters already being asleep. Hey, the AI isn't perfect. He finally ended things by pecking Narcia. She woke up and took him down with her main attack spell.

Wind Shoot! Like Fireball for Pietro, this will be Narcia's staple attack for a large portion of the fights in the game. It does pretty massive damage to any enemy that isn't strong against magic.
Incidentally in this gif they're fighting another new enemy; the orc.
Orcs hit really, really hard. Not pictured (because I stupidly decided to stop recording while I grinded for a bit to get Narcia up to a reasonable level) is Pietro getting critted and insta-killed right out of the gate in a fight against two of these guys, forcing Narcia to stand over Pietro's dead body and take them both down single-handedly with her magic. Man I wish I could work that into the narrative. Narcia's a little typhoon.
Also not pictured is the resurrection system. Anytime a battle ends and someone is dead, a pillar of light comes from above and they get back up. It reminds me a little of Lunar: Silver Star Story, and when I see it I kind of miss hearing Nall's "C'mon, get back on your feet!"

There are a few treasures around the cliff areas, including a Power Source (+5 ATK to one ally, this game has your standard set of permanent stat-boosters) and this Copper Bracelet. I could have run back to town and bought one for Pietro, but I knew this was coming so I just braved through it. This gets Pietro's defense up to the point where he at least won't go down as easily to the Orcs. In my original LP playthrough I ran back to town at this point to buy stuff, but it's actually better to hold off just a little bit, because we'll have a much better reason to return to town in the next update.

Anyway, continuing on I ran into these guys.
A robo-ninja! With the hand-signs and the jutsus and everything!

Their main attack is 'Kaminari no Jutsu', or 'Thunder Jutsu'. A 'jutsu' can be translated as a technique or skill, but it is a word fairly unique to ninjas in most Japanese fiction.
They also explode for massive damage if you hurt them but don't kill them before their next turn. Make sure to keep Narcia as far away from them as possible.
Oh and as you can see here with Pietro, yes every party member and every monster in this game has an 'electric shock' sprite. So that's:
1 normal sprite+1 burnt to a crisp+1 electrocuted x 4, 1 for each direction they could be facing. And that's not even counting all the movement and attack animations for each direction for each character and monster. Yeah.

They take about one hit from Narcia's Wind Shoot to go down, and they always appear to lose their head upon dying. Since I almost always take these guys out with Wind Shoot, I have this odd image in my mind of Narcia running around lopping off robot heads with blade-shaped blasts of wind.

This particular robo-ninja dropped a treasure. Inside was a GamiGami Weapon! The plot thickens. We must be getting close...

As we go back into the narrative, here's how the kids are doing:

Pietro Level 7
Fireball L 3
Heal Water L 2
Cure Water L 1

Narcia Level 6
Wind Shoot L 3
Heal Rain L 2
Mist Screen L 1
Holy Burst L 1
(We'll cover her other spells later when I put them to use)

And here's the enemies from today:

Name: Mage
Skills: Fire Bisou
(this was the name the thread came up with last time since I didn't know what to translate the Japanese as. It means 'kiss' in French, and the ghost is kinda making a kissy face so it works)
Ice Bisou
Notes: Strong against magic

Name: Relax Bird
Skills: Kaionpa (that singing skill. Without any kanji I dunno what it's supposed to mean, but from what I can gather it's 'Clear Sound-pa')
Notes: Fast

Name: Orc
Skill: Kiai
Notes: When it uses kiai it becomes very dangerous.

Name: Robo-ninja
Skill: Thunder no Jutsu
Drops: GamiGami Weapon
Notes: Fast. Beware the explosion.

Across a little bridge at the top of the cliffs

There is the entrance to a cave

It appears to have strange metal fixtures. This must be the mysterious metal cave the village person and Narcia mentioned.
Also we get a new music track in this cave. It sorta... sounds familiar...

And of course a new matching battle theme

The cave only has this elevator. Let's see where it goes.

It... um... did we step into another game accidentally? Usually when there's advanced technology in a fantasy game it's all sparkly and crystaly and alieny but this looks like something out of Mad Max or Borderlands instead.

How does a non-industrial society produce this much scrap??

Oh hey look that statue is a sprite. Probably nothing.

Nah it's definitely nothing.

Nothing. It's nothing.

Aight maybe it's something.
Let's poke it with a stick.

Narcia: Kya!

White Knight: KAKAKA!
kakaka is how some old guys laugh in anime and stuff.

White Knight: My name is White Knight. I am a knight who has traveled far, seeking the Legendary Sword.
White Knight: I befell ill times on this mount, though, and the men of that villain, GamiGami, did abscond with my trusty blade.

No seriously that's his name. And it's not some kind of Engrish thing trying to be cool like WAITO NAITO or anything it's just the Japanese for white knight (shiro kishi)

Narcia: Oh dear. That's awful...
Narcia: I am Narcia, a Witch of the Woods, and this is Prince Pietro.

White Knight: Indeed, a Prince?

Pietro: Yes, I am Prince Pietro of Popolocrois. Lord GamiGami also took a precious treasure from Popolocrois Castle. I've been following him here to get it back.

White Knight: Zounds! A noble endeavor if ever I've heard one. Splendid, child, I must commend your... what's this?
White Knight: Prince, that is a remarkable sword you bear...

Pietro shows off the Dragon Sword

White Knight: Since mine own blade was stolen, this is all I have to my name. A rusted piece of refuse dug up from one of the heaps here. More fit as a toy than a blade...

looks fine to me

White Knight: But it matters not! No matter the sword I wield, I am a knight of justice! My heart is moved by your plight. Allow me to accompany you on this quest!
Pietro: Really?
White Knight: As I live, I have never let a false word pass these lips. You have my oath, Prince Pietro.

White Knight: Well then, if all matters are decided
White Knight: Let us suit our actions to our words. The castle of Lord GamiGami lies just ahead. Let us press forward, and overcome!

Tank Get! Our holy trinity is complete.

Seraphic Neoman
Jul 19, 2011

Well at least you have three characters again! I always hated having level 1 characters joining though. I didn't ask to grind, dammit!

Feb 19, 2011

End Session?

This game is so cute. I wish it had got a real translation way back when.

Seraphic Neoman
Jul 19, 2011

Yeah for real. I could see it being incredibly popular if it ever got a proper localization.

Feb 14, 2014

I got super-into the PSP version. I picked it up on a whim because it looked interesting and then nearly 100%ed it before my PSP was stolen. I would love to see a translation of the original games.

Oct 2, 2013

I would love to translate this game and am 110% willing to join up with anyone who wants to try to make a project out of it. Only problem is it's apparently not as simple as some other games to crack. Here's some quotes from a guy who took a whack at it and gave up:

some guy on Romhacking posted:

Don't use Cartographer for dumping this game's text. You're gonna need custom made programs for this one, and if you can't afford the task just forget about the game entirely: it's a bloody mess. By the way, there's no table needed as the game uses S-Jis for storing most of the text and the larger font is pulled directly from the BIOS.

some guy on Romhacking posted:

I did investigate it years ago and I can assure you the game has some terrible programming issues, so if you have no way to code your own tools and reprogram huge chunks of assembly lines, forget about it because it's not a starter's project.

some guy on Romhacking posted:

You code programs to properly extract/insert file segments and/or text. If you can't program, the ball will never roll. Assuming you can, in principle, extract the text using Cartographer, you won't be able to freely insert text. You'll run up against space limitations which can only be solved by coding custom programs. It sounds like the pointers may also be hardcoded in assembly from Gemini's comment. These pointers would require extra coding to detect/extract alongside the script.

In short, if you can't program: give up.

So... yeah. If anyone knows any really knowledgeable hackers that would want to take a stab at it that'd be awesome and I'd totally be there for translating the script once it's out, but it sounds like that's a huge chore in and of itself.

Nov 4, 2014

I won this avatar on a technicality this thick.

I wonder how long White Knight has been staying in that scrapyard.

Deceitful Penguin
Feb 16, 2011

Thems the breaks, Japan giveth and Japan taketh away. Or witholds, as the case may be.

Seraphic Neoman
Jul 19, 2011

Basic translation: :negative:

He basically could have just written


You're gonna need custom made programs for this one

Because that alone is a hell of a project.

Mar 23, 2007

I'm more surprised there's a generic program people use for extracting text in the first place, it doesn't seem like there's any reason people would store text in any remotely standardised way.

Rigged Death Trap
Feb 13, 2012


Polsy posted:

I'm more surprised there's a generic program people use for extracting text in the first place, it doesn't seem like there's any reason people would store text in any remotely standardised way.

Think of it like ASCII, Nintendo probably supplied a character encoding charset along with the devkit that most SNES games would use.
The text itself may be formatted/delimited in some specific way but the actual data that says 'this is the character X' is going to be the same across multiple games. Figure how to get and manipulate one character and you can easily get all the others, which is when you use a program/code a loop for it because hex edits are mind numbing robot work.

Now the special cases come from when the devs feel the need to extend the charset or interpret it and store in a different way.

[e]: this might not be how it actually works.

Rigged Death Trap fucked around with this message at 17:49 on Jan 29, 2016

Mar 23, 2007

Rigged Death Trap posted:

Think of it like ASCII, Nintendo probably supplied a character encoding charset along with the devkit that most SNES games would use.
The text itself may be formatted/delimited in some specific way but the actual data that says 'this is the character X' is going to be the same across multiple games. Figure how to get and manipulate one character and you can easily get all the others, which is when you use a program/code a loop for it because hex edits are mind numbing robot work.

Now the special cases come from when the devs feel the need to extend the charset or interpret it and store in a different way.

[e]: this might not be how it actually works.

Oh yeah, I don't mean so much decoding the text once you have it, as much as where the text is and how it's divided up, but, I might be overestimating how much automatic work the thing does for you.

Rigged Death Trap
Feb 13, 2012


(Why'd I think it was an SNES game. i dumb)

Well shouldn't it, lines of text at the very least, be contiguous? So if you know the hex values for characters then you can manually set up a search.

I'm not too knowledgeable about the magic devs used to do to cram everything in, but from what the romhacking people have said it just seems like a lot of braindead dives into hex leading into a lot of deciphering and hand writing hex tables.
All in all it seems to be a massive headache.

(also wow polsy, didn't recognize you by the avatar.)


Mar 23, 2007

Rigged Death Trap posted:

All in all it seems to be a massive headache.

I searched out a few posts from people talking about text extraction and that's pretty much the conclusion I came to as well

Rigged Death Trap posted:

(also wow polsy, didn't recognize you by the avatar.)

Yeah, strange things can happen when you post in ADTRW, I mean, TJGFJYLITAWYLIA

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