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Mar 27, 2010

Mahalo, fuckers.

Hello everyone and welcome to this playthrough of Linda³ ("Linda Cube"), a weird and wonderful game unlike any other!

What is this game, anyway?

Well, on the surface, it's just another 1990s JRPG, although this time with more of a Sci-Fi slant. However, this one has, over time, achieved a bit of a "cult classic" status, due to some of its plot elements and the overall execution.

A bit of history. The game, directed by Shoji Masuda, was released originally on PC Engine platform in 1995 as a Japan-only release (also worth noting is that 1995 was way at the tail end of that platform's lifecycle, it had pretty much already been discontinued by then!). It then two years later, in 1997, received a remake on PlayStation 1, under the name Linda³ Again. This really was a full on remake: the in-game graphics were much improved, and the original's semi-static cutscenes were replaced by fully animated anime FMVs, in addition to some QOL improvements in the gameplay. Unfortunately, due to Sony's policies at the time, it also received "toning-down" of some of the more violent and/or weird content--the PC Engine original was one of the few 18 rated games on that platform--however, the plot remained largely unchanged. There were also some new extras added to the game (which I will not spoil here).

Apparently, the game was popular enough to then receive also a Sega Saturn port in 1998, this time under the name Linda³ Complete Version! The "Complete" moniker refers to the fact that this version includes even a few more extras, and I think it also came with a soundtrack CD, featuring some music and songs (yes!) from the game's soundtrack. There seems to be what I think is a bit of a misconception, that this version restored things which were toned down for PS1 edition, but as far as I can tell, this is not really the case--rather, this version is, at least when graphics (including the anime cutscenes) and gameplay is concerned, largely the same as the PS1 version. Therefore, if there are any differences, they might be in some restored bits of dialogue or something like that. So I will refer to both PS1 and Saturn versions collectively as "the remake".

In any case, the PS1 version is definitely the most popular one, so that's the version we are going to be playing in this thread.

Uh, but what is it ABOUT?

Right, I got distracted there a bit talking about the game's history. Anyway, to start with, here's a story from the first pages of the manual, which set up the background of the game's plot:


Even in the old records, no information remained about "mother" Earth, other than the fact that it "became extinct". In the present day, humanity has spread across many planets, so that even the coordinates of the original Earth had been lost to history. In order to find other viable stars and planets, the humankind had to do everything they could to keep moving. By the end of the millennium, they built a vast interstellar Federation.

But by that point the human race had also reached an evolutionary dead end. Humanity was on the verge of slowly dying out--year on year the birth rate kept falling while the death rate was rising, and there were also various other ominous events happening with increasing frequency. The Federation government set up a project to investigate the cause, but it yielded no results. The only disappointing conclusion that could be made was that the life-force of humanity had simply run out. To avoid social unrest, this information was not made public and the Federation continued to struggle in secret.

A few hundred years later, a miracle occurred. A space probe discovered an ideal planet. A planet full of life, green and more beautiful than ever. All kinds of beasts, birds, fish and insects were on the planet.

Even more surprisingly, there were indigenous people living on the planet. But who were they really? Their culture, religion and customs were different from that of mankind, but they were biologically almost identical and their language system was very similar to ours. But what was even more interesting was their extraordinary vitality--they possessed physical, healing and reproductive abilities that could not be found in the contemporary human civilisation.

However, the settlement plan of this planet, which was named Neo-Kenya, turned out to have a limit of 100 years from the start. A huge meteorite was on the way to the planet, so large that it could easily destroy it. The settlers were not told that they are guinea pigs for an experiment, nor that their new home would be dead in 100 years.

They first set foot on Neo-Kenya in the year 1900 AMD, 91 years ago from now...

By the way, AMD stands for "After Mother's Death", implying years since the "mother" Earth became extinct. In any case, this is where our game starts, in the Spring of 1991 AMD and concerns the events around our main characters, Ken and his girlfriend Linda (after whom the game is named), as they try to save the animals of the planet which is about to be destroyed. I'm not going to say too much more right now about the story, since the game's opening does a good job of setting up the rest of the premise. But I guess it's a bit like Pokémon ;) except it's definitely not intended for kids. (This is a joke. The game is actually not very much like Pokémon at all. But you'll see what I mean.)

The gameplay

From a purely technical side this has the look of a typical "top-down" JRPG from the 1990s with turn based combat akin to Dragon Quest. It features your standard towns, dungeons and towers, like a Final Fantasy game from early 1990s would. However, it does have a fair bit of mechanics which are either different or not really seen in the other JRPGs of the time. It's also one of those games which doesn't feature random encounters, but instead "enemies" are in fact visible on the overworld--there is also a plot related reason for that, which we will learn soon. I will cover different game mechanics (of which there are a fair few) as we encounter them in the game.

About the LP

Well, first of all, the big elephant in the room. As some of you probably know, none of the versions of this game were ever released outside of Japan. Unfortunately, that means there is no official translation, so you'll have to make do with my imperfect one. Neither Japanese nor English is my native language, so it's probably going to be a little rough, but we should be able to follow the plot well enough. I am aware that there has been a fan translation in the works already for a number of years (I think it's just one person working on it), but I don't think anything has been released publicly so far really. If it ever gets released, then I will consider switching to it if possible, since by coincidence it is being developed for the PS1 version of the game, the same one we're playing here. I'll keep an eye on it and we'll see.

As for the rest, although I have not actually played the game to the end, this is not really a blind playthough either since I am familiar with the different game mechanics, etc. In any case, I also have in my possession the following book:


Namely, the complete game guide which was published at the time of the game's release. So if things get rough, we can turn to it for help as it really is quite complete! The goal of this LP is definitely to, so to speak, 100% the game, or as close to it as possible. So I will make an effort not to miss anything (in fact there is already in the first update below something you can permanently miss!).

Some extras

Extras? Yes, I will be posting some extra content as we go through the game.

First of all, the guide is full of beautiful illustrations from the game's character designer/art director, Tatsuyuki Tanaka, and there is also a whole art book on top of that. So there's a TON of concept art, illustrations and film storyboards (for cutscenes) to be seen. I will be posting some of those as appropriate, while trying to avoid spoilers.

In addition to that, I will be posting some bits and pieces from the PC Engine version too, including a few full cutscenes, just so you can see the difference between the two.

Here and there I will also post links for tunes from the game's soundtrack (composed by Ryouko Kihara) which is actually a lot better than you would expect and honestly on a par with Final Fantasy games of the time period. There's even a few vocal songs which we will be able to hear in the game.

Final words

Finally, please don't post spoilers, not even in the spoiler tags. I don't expect a huge amount of people have played this game already, but nevertheless, if you have, please try not to spoil the future plot events for others.

Anyway, I know, I really talk a lot, so let's scroll down and get started with the game finally!

List Of Updates:

        Part 01: Summer 1991
        Part 02: Summer 1991
        Part 03: Summer/Autumn 1991
        Part 04: Autumn/Winter 1991
        Part 05: Winter 1991
        Part 06: Spring 1992
        Part 07: Spring 1992
        Part 08: Summer 1992
        Part 09: Summer 1992
        Part 10: Summer 1992

        Part 01: Summer/Autumn 1991
        Part 01: Summer/Autumn 1991 (cont.)
        Part 02: Autumn/Winter 1991
        Part 03: Winter 1991-Summer 1992
        Part 04: Summer/Autumn 1992
        Part 05: Autumn 1992-Summer 1993
        Part 06: Summer/Autumn 1993
        Part 07: Autumn 1993

        Part 01: Summer 1991-Spring 1992
        Part 02: Spring/Summer 1992
        Part 03: Summer/Autumn 1992
        Part 04: Autumn/Winter 1992
        Part 05: Winter 1992/Spring 1993
        Part 06: Spring-Autumn 1993
        Part 07: Autumn 1993-Spring 1994
        Part 08: Spring/Summer 1994
        Part 09: Summer/Autumn 1994
        Part 10: Autumn/Winter 1994
        Part 11: Spring-Autumn 1995
        Part 12: Winter 1995-Autumn 1996
        Part 13: Autumn 1996-Autumn 1997
        Part 14: Winter 1997-Summer 1998
        Part 15: Autumn 1998-Summer 1999

        Part 01: Summer 1998
        Part 02: Autumn 1998
        Part 03: Winter 1998
        Part 04: Spring/Summer 1999

ivantod fucked around with this message at 11:32 on Sep 15, 2022


Mar 27, 2010

Mahalo, fuckers.

Mar 27, 2010

Mahalo, fuckers.

Mar 27, 2010

Mahalo, fuckers.

Well, then, after that overly long introduction, it's time to finally start the game.

And by doing that, we are faced with a couple of opening cutscenes that we need to watch, so let's get started.

So that was a short prologue with a childhood scene between Ken and Linda, set some years in the past. The next scene, however, is the actual opening of the game, set in spring 1991.

And now, the actual premise of the game becomes clearer. As we already know, the planet is doomed to be destroyed by a meteorite in 1999, so that gives us 8 years to collect one male and one female of each animal species living on the planet, including humans, and use that "ark" to save them (there are some variations in this goal, but I will cover that in a moment). There are clearly, many questions around this whole situation, but one of the burning ones surely is, where did this ark even come from?

(I guess we'll have to play the game to find out?)

By the way, you might have noticed that this scene also contained the game's main credits. Unfortunately, they got a bit cut off in the video for reasons of mismatched aspect ratios for the actual video vs. where the credits are on the screen, so I'll give them here for those who are interested:

Voices:                 Linda - Minami Takayama
                        Ken - Kazuki Yao
Character Designer:     "Cannabis" (Tatsuyuki Tanaka)
Music Composer:         Ryouko Kihara
Producer:               Tetsuya Sasaki
Game Designer/Director: Shoji Masuda

As I mentioned before, Tatsuyuki Tanaka is not only the character designer but was also responsible for the game's overall look and in particular for storyboarding the cutscenes. He also drew a ton of illustrations and concept art.

In any case, this finally gets us to the game's title screen and main menu, the second of which is, I have to admit, a bit plain looking.

The options are mostly clear, I guess, except the "Prologue" option let's you see the prologue cutscene again, if you want. The last option which is written in Japanese is kind of a bit important: it's the difficulty selection.

In case of this game, the difficulty level controls only one thing: the speed of passage of time. With all that talk of limited time before the planet's destruction, I guess it shouldn't come as a surprise, but with this I can indeed confirm, that the passage of time in this game is not in fact plot driven, but that the time passes independently of that, so you better know what you're doing otherwise you might find yourself in trouble! The time-passage mechanic in this game is actually a fair bit more complex than just "the time passes constantly regardless of what you do", but we'll just talk about different parts of it as we encounter it during the game play. But if it's your first time through the game, it's probably a good idea to turn the speed down here a bit.

After selecting the difficulty setting to your desire, there is nothing else left, but to choose the "Start" option, so let's do it!

But, oh, if you thought we're done with the preamble, no such luck.

As you can see, the game offers three different scenarios that can be played, and you can read their names on the screenshot. Again, this is something I will get a lot more into much later, but for now we'll just pick the first scenario, "MERRY XMAS" and be on our way to finally play the game!

After selecting a scenario, the game gives us a bullet list of winning conditions, which in case of Scenario A are as follows:
  - Collect no less than 30 animal species (one male and one female each so a total of 60 animals)
  - Take off with the ark

There are actually a total of 120 species in the game overall, but in order to win this scenario, we only need to collect 30--in fact it isn't even possible to collect all 120 species in this one due to some areas of the overworld being blocked off.

The game also reminds us that the difficulty level is set to "2", which is basically "normal". The possible options are from 1 to 4, with 1 being hard and 4 being very easy.

Like any normal JRPG protagonist from 1990s (literally and figuratively!), Ken also starts the game in his mother's house. Although, at least he is already up and in the middle of a breakfast instead of just getting out of bed! So, that's something, I guess.

I should also note that although the opening cutscene was set in Spring 1991, by the time the game proper actually starts, it's already Summer, so I guess we lost about three months there already! That's probably not going to be helpful. Anyway...

The lady over by the kitchen counter is Ken's mum by the way. And she's got a few things to say.

You'll be late again, even though our house is just behind the Ranger HQ building! I heard that of all the rangers you're the one most often late! Your dad must be crying in heaven!

Mother! I have something important to tell you!
Huh, what? Why so formal?
About that ark... It hasn't yet been decided who is going to be the male crew member. Therefore, I...
Oh, Ken, if you were hesitating because you were worried about me, then please, don't be silly! At least this one time in your life, you should do as you wish!
But, mother, I...

He's interrupted by a phone ring.

Oh, commander, I'm just an old lady, please don't make fun of me!

She finishes the conversation.

Commander says, he wants you to come over to the conference room on the second floor of the Ranger HQ immediately!

Well, there's nothing to do at the moment in Ken's house, no hidden items or anything, so we might as well go outside.

Oh right, before we go out... let me show you the difference between in-game graphics of PC Engine version vs. PlayStation. Here is the PC Engine screenshot:

...and here is the exact same screenshot in PlayStation version:

As you can see there's quite a bit of improvement, especially in the detail for the character sprites which are supertiny in the PC Engine version!

All right, now let's head out.

Coming out of the house, to the left you can see the swing that Linda was sitting on in the prologue... which actually reminds me. The prologue cutscene actually changed a fair bit compared to the PC Engine version. So purely as a fun comparison, here is also the PCE version of the prologue:

So that changed a bit, although I'm not quire sure why. One reason I can think of is that they wanted to reduce the animation budget by shortening it or something. Also it's pretty wild how crudely drawn the PCE version looks, it looks like it was literally animated pixel by pixel by hand on a PC or something like that!

Anyway, back to Ken going outside. Like in a typical JRPG, there are a TON of people to talk to everywhere, and honestly, we will, because they do provide a lot of "lore" and background info on the world and everything else around us.

It is possible to actually sit on the swing, but perhaps it would be better to try this again once Linda is with us. We can, however, talk to that guy standing on the lawn on the left!

I guess this house is really starting to fall into disrepair ever since Linda's family moved over to Minago some years ago. I miss her from back then... she could do a mean cobra twist.

I guess by "cobra twist", they are referring to the wrestling move.

A couple more things here. NPCs and in general characters which are not part of the plot, don't have portraits in this game, so I will simply use the empty portrait to represent them. Also, in general when talking to NPCs, Ken takes on the role of a silent protagonist. Really it's only with plot-relevant people that he will actually have a proper conversation. So, now let's move on and talk to the little girl standing next to the building there, since she has something important for us! It's a bit hard to see, but she has a dog with her, the dog is hiding behind that bush.

My family is moving house... so I wanted to ask you if you don't mind to take care of this dog. His name is "Hero".
[Sure thing!] / Nah, too much trouble.

This here is a dialogue choice, which you will get sometimes when talking to a person. The option I will select will always be outlined in brackets, like here. It's probably a good idea to say yes here, because if you do, you get yourself a dog, exactly as the girl said (if you say "no", you get nothing)! Why is that important? Well, turns out, dogs can be in your party when you're fighting enemies! And believe me, when Ken is low level like at the beginning of the game, it helps immensely, so it's not a bad idea to get a dog for free! However, we'll talk about it next time when we actually get into some battles, so that this first update is not overwhelmed with info right now. For now, let me just say that the "DOG" building to the left is a shop where we can actually buy even more dogs--up to two can be in active party at one time, but you can keep more in reserve. We'll visit that shop later, but for now we do have quite a few more NPCs to talk to.

The Ranger HQ building is to the right of us, so let's slowly make our way there. We are right now not in fact on a timer--although the time passes in this game, it actually doesn't pass at all while you are in a town, so that makes it possible to easily explore and talk to everybody without worrying about the time limit! Nice one, game!

Before going into the building, if we go all the way south to the town entrace, there are some rangers blocking us from going out.

"Don't let any young male rangers leave!", commander's orders. I've been standing here since yesterday evening! Can you just go to the second floor of the HQ and say "Yes"? Then we can all go home!

It's starting to seem increasingly like we have a "but thou must" kind of situation here! Let's finally go back to the Ranger HQ. One last person to talk to before going in!

The male crew member of the ark will have to be somebody from the rangers, because there were no other applicants, right? Too bad the salary for risking one's life is not so good. Oh, hey, you're also a ranger!

Inside it is!

I know there's stuff here and people to talk to, but honestly, we've been prolonging this already too much, so let's head straight to the second floor, up the stairs!

The meeting room is over to the left where a bunch of people are standing, but let's first see what the couple of people here have to say. First, the lady sitting at the desk:

If you want the commander, he's in the conference room. Stop dithering, aren't you late already?

...and then the guy standing by the doorway:

Hey! The "King of Lateness"! You're already 30 minutes late today like you run the place here! Well, I guess you're forgiven for today, since you have the main role in the meeting. Anyway, go over to the conference room, people have been waiting a while already!

Yeah, let's do that. The commander is probably not going to be too happy.

All right, Ken, take your place.

I guess you all know the purpose of this meeting, but I guess it doesn't hurt to recap it briefly?
[Yes] / No.

There's a longer cutscene coming, you can select No here to skip it. It doesn't change anything. Let's have a look!

And then...

Maybe you're wondering how they can have a button "in front of themselves" when they are standing in an empty room? Well, that's because back in the PC Engine version, they had desks:

Anyway, Ken pushes his button.

Ken, are you sure about this? We don't even know where the ark will go. There's no guarantee you'll survive. Is that really ok?
[I'm ready] / I don't think I can do it.

As I mentioned, this is definitely a "but thou must" situation and you ain't getting out of this room until you say you're ready!

All right! It's been decided hat Ken will be the male crew member! Everyone should help out Ken to prepare as long as it doesn't interfere with their regular work. Dismissed!

After everybody is gone, we can talk to commander (whose name is Ben, by the way) again.

Now head over to the ark and register as the crew member, no take-backsies! Make sure to tell you mum about it too, okay?

It's true that we do need to go and register at the ark, but we can do that a bit later. For now, let's just make our way out of the HQ. Obviously we have to stop and hear what EVERYONE has to say after Ken's decision! First, the guy at the doorway.

Ken, your precious princess was here just now! Hmm... where's she gone, I was sure she was here just a second ago... hm, maybe she's waiting for you below.

Huh, is he talking about Linda? Was Linda here? I guess we'll see. Let's talk to the desk lady again:

After all, as everybody talked, Ken is going to get on the ark. With this, you might also lose your "King of Lateness" nickname! Well, it's only to be expected of the son of the former Ranger commander. Anyway, say hi to Linda for me.

Before we go down, there's just one other thing...

...over here in the corner, there is some kind of a picture on the wall. Let's have a look.

For reasons that I can't explain, there is a pin-up calendar with a picture of Linda in this room. To be honest, I don't really want to think whose room it might be, but in reality, this is just a bit of fan service from the game. The calendar will actually change every year, showing different pictures of female characters from the game wearing a bathing suit (or in one case, not quite wearing one), kind of like how there would often be a beach episode in an anime TV show. Ultimately, it has no influence on anything in the game, so I guess I will just leave it to the thread consensus to decide if we should come here and check it once a year, or just skip it.

With that done, let's go back to the stairs and head down.

But, as Ken walks down the stairs...

Ah, why is Linda following us with a big stick in her hands? The cutscene will give the answer! By the way, don't worry that we'll be constantly bombarded by cutscenes every few minutes--this is actually the last one for quite a while!

[Leave it to me!] / Are you kidding me!
Anyway, remember it, level 3! Until then, don't even try to talk to me, ok!
Well then, toodeloo!

She starts to leave, but then comes back, and...

Ken, because you applied... T H A N K   Y O U ! ❤️ ❤️

In the PC Engine version, there was actually an insert picture here showing Linda kissing ken as she leaves, like so:

In the PS version, there is only a barely even noticeable animation. So barely noticeable, that I didn't even make a gif of it.

Also, yes indeed, I just wanted to point out that Linda's hair used to be red/pink in the PC Engine version, however when the characters were redesigned slightly it was changed to blue/green in the remake. When I post the illustrations/concept art from the game, you will also see that some have one version of the characters and some the other, depending on when they were drawn.

Back to our story, the lady in the blue suit who was standing there all this time is actually Linda's mum. Her name is Ann.

Mum! I'm going to go ahead and leave first, ok?

And with this Linda finally leaves, and Ann approaches Ken.

Please, Kenny! No matter what happens, please protect Linda! I beg you!

I guess she means in particular after we get on the ark, since nobody knows what will happen. After this, she leaves too, leaving Ken(ny) on his own.

We do need to go and register at the ark, but before that, let's make a big tour around the town and talk to all NPCs and have a look at all the shops! Sorry, this first update is going to be very talky, but that's just so we can get the plot going without too much delay.

Anyway, let's start by looking at that poster behind and to the left of Ken. There is actually no picture for it in the game, you can just read what it says:

Let's make the Neo-Kenya Escape Project a success and a source of pride for our Ranger Corps!

Then we'll continue by talking to everybody, although some people just tell you about game mechanics, like which button to press for what, so we can safely skip those since I will be explaining those bits as we come across them. That means we can even skip the two rangers in the room there. I do want to talk to this guy who looks like a doctor:

My job is to get people back to work after they have been battered and bruised by the animals. I want to help you guys since there are not many of you left. Also retirement money is bad.

I kind of just wanted to note this for now. What he's saying is that there's (almost) no penalty for dying in a battle in this game! This guy here simply puts you back together and you can continue--you only lose one small thing but it's genuinely not that bad, e.g. you retain all your money and such. So not a huge worry on that front, which is just as well since there are only limited locations where you can actually save your game!

And one such place is this person here:

It's my job to keep a record of everybody's work reports. You can make your report also over the phone, but why not come and see me sometimes?

So, there are phones in various locations which you can use to save. In particular there is one at the entrance of every town. The phones also have some other functions, like allowing you to hear your answering service messages and so on, but again, more on that next time. The person on the sofa we can also skip as he just tells us how we learn skills as we level up. I do however want to visit the bank counter there.

Welcome! This is Neo-Kenya bank, celebrating its 77th anniversary this year!

We can chat a bit more with the lady at the bank counter.

A ranger's salary is transferred to your account each season, four times a year. That said, it's still just a typical government employee salary, so many people look for side jobs.

Here we can check out Ken's bank book:

...which reveals that his full name is Ken Challenger! Nice. We can also checkout his transactions so far:

...and this confirms that Ken already received his 100G salary for Summer 1991--not bad. We can withdraw that money so we have it with us, but we can also get here a loan. The current limit for a loan is 400G with the repayment term of one year and seasonal interest of 20G. I take the loan out just to have some cash on hand to start with. Since our salary is 100G plus the money we already had on us (another 100G) we should be able to manage to repay that in time.

Back outside, there's another ranger standing across from the HQ building...

You know, that picture of a destroyed building that the commander showed during the recruitment presentation just now... I was thinking, I must have seen that somewhere before, and it turned out the same picture is in the Federation's Escape Project guide book.
Is it just an artist's impression of the "Grim Reaper" impact? But where are there even such tall buildings on this planet? Clearly the Federation bureaucrats have absolutely no clue what's even really going on down here.

In the northwest corner of the town is the power station:

Let's check inside!

Technician has some info for us:

Don't touch the catfish over in their enclosure there. If they get agitated they may discharge electricity into the air and... burn you to a crisp.

Interesting, so they are using some electric catfish to provide the electricity for the town!

There is another person upstairs in the same building.

Finally I can afford to enjoy the inconvenience of being on this far away planet... but then it has almost no time left. I will never have the kind of life I want.

Well, that's depressing. Our next stop is the DOG building, which houses the dog shop and the veterinarian.

Here you can buy dogs, and also fix them if they get injured in battle. Since dogs are also animals you can "collect" for the ark, it's possible also to catch a wild dog and bring it here to become your party member. More on that later. For now I will just buy one more dog, so we can have two in our active party, togethe with Ken. This should help us in the early stages.

You can only use a maximum of two katakana letters to name a dog, which is not a lot. Nevertheless, I decide to name the dog "Haru" (=spring) because I somehow managed to forget that it's already Summer in the game! Oh well. The names don't matter anyway, so... let's just move on.

Over by the fountain is equipment shop.

Love that knife on the table...

Anyway, the ranger has the following to say:

Many shops in this town overcharge horribly. I want to learn to make my own equipment as soon as possible.

Sounds like a good skill to have. I'm sure we can figure it out eventually. Next, the shop owner:

There are four types of equipment, weapons, hats, clothes and shoes. We take several of the same animal and process them into equipment. It takes 10 male animals for a weapon, five females for clothes, three for a hat and two for a pair of shoes. And that's all the equipment one person needs!

Yeah, so instead of, you know, "Mithryl sword" or something, here you have stuff like "squirrel knife", "rabbit hat" and so on, depending on which animal you used to make a particular item.

Our next stop is the butcher shop/animal trader, but there is also a person in front of it:

Eight years from now... this town of Hardia is already getting deserted.

Right, actually nobody really said the name of the town (although the game does give you a location title initially), but now that they have, let's check out its description.

It's true, 100G really is a pittance, when you consider that I had to pay 200G for that one dog I bought earlier! But worry not, this game's economy is definitely broken in the sense that there are items which you can sell for more than the price of the components used to make them, so we'll avail ourselves of that soon enough. I guess when you have a fair number of moving parts, it's hard to ensure that such things are impossible for every case.

Inside, the butcher guy:

The animals can be processed to make clothes, hats, weapons and meat for eating. The only useless animals are humans, because they are inedible.

Uh, ok... sure. To be clear, the difference between this shop is that here you can actually process animals into equipment, while the other one sells you already pre-made equipment. Not sure why they needed to separate that, but ok.

On the other side is the animal trader.

You want to gather animals? But do you know you don't have to catch all the animals by yourself? For now, you can buy here a squirrel or an ostrich and register them at the ark. Also, if you run out of money, take a look at your TransCargo backpack, you might have there one or two animals you can sell for money.

Actually, as it turns out, both squirrels and ostriches can be very easily caught just outside this starting town, so there is absolutely no need whatsoever to waste money on buying them right now.

Next to the animal trader shop is some ranger housing.

Most people here give you hints about what each controller button does, but there are a couple of rangers worth listening to.

The year 1999, the Grim Reaper collision. You know, if you're late for a date with your girlfriend, you'll probably survive, but if you're late for this particular date, then...

We rangers don't deserve this. When the corps was founded, all we had to do was deal with animal poachers. But now we're supposed to be some kind of a police, too! And now even having to be errand boys for the Escape Project, too? No way, I won't do it!

Okay, buddy, calm down, You can stay and get hit by a meteorite, no worries. But there does seem to be some dissent in the ranger orders.

We won't dwell on that too long, since it's time to visit that staple of every 1990s JRPG, The Inn! Or, in our case, The Hotel.

Welcome! For 5G you can have a room here. Although, you'll eventually learn the "Camp" skill around Level 4 or so, so you won't really have a need to come here any more. But maybe you'll want to stay here anyway for a change at some point?

There's another person sitting here in the lobby.

During the autumn, be wary of male animals in heat. They go totally crazy.

Indeed. The change of seasons on the planet does also bring about the change in behaviour of various animals. Something to go into more detail about at a later date, though.

Upstairs is a nice lounge/bar. Let's have a chat with the bartender.

What would you like to drink? Everything is 20G.
Penguin Rock / Sea Urchin Juice / [Cobra Milk] / Nothing

Well, let's have some cobra milk. It replenishes your HP, although Ken hasn't lost any yet, so... The bartender will offer you to drink again, but a second drink will definitely bring about the "lost" status effect where all your controls are temporarily reversed. Very silly, but maybe not so silly when you're trying to run away from a battle.

There's a couple of rangers standing here too, so let's see what they say.

Have you been in touch with Linda since her family moved over to Minago?
Ah, well... / [Not really...]
You guys used to fight all the time, but you were also very close too. Minago is over in the Q-14 area, just across the river to the east.

The game has a handy-dandy coordinate system which makes it easy to find things! Ken also has a navigation/map device, which I will show you shortly!

Over to the left, there is another ranger.

Until you gain some strength, better stay away from southern areas, especially Karagoram at Q-17! You don't want to die, right? They say there is a den of wild dogs there, but if you really need a dog, just go and buy one.

As we'll see next time, wild dogs are no joke, so this is good advice!

Also, the older guy:

Seasons are like old people. One day, you realise things have changed and there is no turning back. Just look at my hair, all gone!

Well, that's all we can do here, let's head out.

Outside, as Ken is walking around town, he is suddenly approached by a person dressed in a Santa Claus suit.

I have a message from Linda! She's waiting for you in Room 102. Can you remember that?
Bro, I really envy you for having such a cute girlfriend!

No idea what this whole Room 102 business is about, not to mention somebody wearing a Santa suit in the middle of the summer, but I think it's high time to go and get ourselves registered at the ark, don't you?

In order to do that, we can just head through that exit which was previously blocked by rangers.

Here is what a typical exit/entrance area for a town looks like. On the left is the phone I mentioned where you can save your game and check your messages, etc. The people here mostly give gameplay tutorial info, so we can skip talking to them. The one thing of note here is "left luggage" service. This allows us to clear out some inventory spaces, and best of all, the items can be retrieved again at any other station in the world!

Exiting Hardia, we can see that the Ark is just outside. Also, human towns appear to be in some kind of enclosures too. Also also, please ignore (for now!) what appears to be some sort of a ruin in the bottom left!

And here we are! If we talk to the ranger standing by the entrance, he has the following to say.

Ah, you finally came! You should go and see Linda as soon as you've registered in the ark. I'm sure she's waiting for you!

Hm, go and see Linda? But we are not level 3 yet? Also, does he mean in Minago or in "Room 102", whatever that may be? Hmm. Well, let's just head in for now.

Inside, there are levitating robots everywhere. Let's try talking to one of them...

I am made of the flesh of Annabis. Everything is going to be eradicated. I made this ark out of wooden logs and made a room in it and coated it with pitch. Take from among you one young man and one young woman and put them in the ark. And take one pair from each of clean beast and unclean beast and bird and let them survive.

I guess we are quoting from the Genesis now? But, it said we should go and register ourselves, so let's do so. It's over in one of the rooms.

Uh, sure, but... does it hurt? I guess, let's do it?

Ken Challenger Human♀ Registered.
The ship welcomes you as a crew member and master.
Ken, welcome to the ark!

Ok, that went... fine, I guess?

We don't actually have anything else to do here for now, since we haven't captured any animals or anything like that. So let's head back out!

As we are walking out, the guy by the door interrupts us.

Linda is in Minago, at Q-14. It's a stone's throw away, just be careful of squirrels and ostriches. Say hi to Linda for me!

Ostriches and squirrels are definitely nothing to worry about, even at level 1, Ken can handle them just fine! It's like somebody telling you to be afraid of Goblins in a Final Fantasy game!

Anyway, there's a little shed there we can go in and talk to a few people.

There was a vacant room up in the ark on the first floor, so I took the liberty of redecorating it into a "love nest" for you and Linda. It has 800 days of food supplies, and a good selection of daily necessities and furniture. I wasn't completely sure about one thing, so for now I've put in there two separate beds and the information bank has stuff about medicine, cooking, chemistry, child care, botany, astonomy, movies... I put there a few things I thought might be useful.

Well, thanks, that's nice! So we should have a comfortable journey.

Talking to the other guy:

The TransCargo backpack you carry is actually an emergency evacuation system too. When you are killed you are automatically placed in the cargo and one of each animal is ejected to make room.

Well, that's good to know, and it's also the second part of the explanation about what happens when you die in a battle. So you basically lose one of each captured animal and are simply revived and can continue. This can be a problem if it's some kind of a rare animal, but generally it's pretty lenient. The only way to get a game over in this game is to let the time run out.

About TransCargo, it is essentially this game's answer to the question "how can the party carry all those items with them". Essentialy, TransCargo backpack is able to decompose and resythesise the matter, so a lot more ends up fitting in a small backpack than you would expect! Clever!

Note how there's also a phone here too, and like all phones it can be used to save the game. So it's not really that bad but you DO have to go inside to save, no saving on the overworld directly.

Going outside, there's just one more person to talk to...

I wonder what the former commander Gene was thinking when he decided to take you in? You were a stranger to him, but he brought you up so well. Too bad that he suddenly died like that.

I'm sure this is totally unimportant.

That monolith is also still here in case you want to read "the message from god" again.

But I think we should just go and try to pay a visit to Linda in Minago--everybody seems to want us to do so. I know we aren't yet level 3, but maybe she'll want to talk to us this time? We won't know unless we try. Although there's still that "Room 102" thing which I'm not sure about.

Let's head back out to the overworld.

When on the overworld, Ken can use his navigation computer to orient himself:

Our curent location is the big square on the left (O-14) and we need to head to Minago eastwards across the river at Q-14 (currently being pointed at by the black line). That's actually even closer than it looks here, so let's get to it!

We're already at the river, and you can see Minago peeking there from the right. Incidentally Ken is able to walk over rivers and other shallow water, but his walking speed is reduced.

There we go, Minago!

"Minagoroshi" means "annihilation" in Japanese.

Upon going inside, it has a similar entrance area.

These people actually have a couple of more interesting things to say. First the person standing:

These days you see these Santas around here collecting donations for refugee relief. It seems that the employees of Green Pharmaceutial Co. are doing it as volunteers. But I think many are fakes, so that's a problem. I'm not sure that you should just trust like that just any Santa that approaches you.

Hmm, I see. That maybe explains a bit the Santa guy, but I'm not convinced. We'll have to see. Well, let's talk to the person on the sofa.

When the Federation expedition team first landed here on Neo-Kenya, they were a bit surprised to encounter us, the Beastians. They couldn't understand how a human race without interstellar travel managed to end up on this remote planet... but why do they care about it anyway? We have lived here all our lives, and we don't appreciate being bothered like this!

Interesting, but nothing we can do with this information for now. But we can read that announcement on the wall, next to the telephone.


Satellite crash in the southern area

Due to the radioactive contamination, the entire southern area has been declared a special danger zone and is off limits to all visitors. There has been only one confirmed survivor, but for the rest of the inhabitants, there is no hope.

Basically the southern part of the overworld is blocked off and we can't go there. Ok, now let's head into town.

They have a nice cemetery here. Let's first talk to the old guy.

Linda's family house is to the left of the church and is the most modern building in town. Linda's father borrowed a lot of money to build it, but I think he totally forgot about the Grim Reaper. You have to be crazy to spend that much money when you know you'll have to throw all of it away in a few years!

...and then the woman.

I thought I was going to be laid to rest here one day... but looks like that's not going to happen now. The ark must have been sent by the legendary "Mother of all Flesh" who sleeps deep in the ground. I thank her!

A few steps north is the said church and also another person who we can talk to.

This is the Beastian church. They still believe their ancestors were animals... at least that's what the tourist guide says!

As we were told, Linda's house is to the left of the church.

So let's go inside...

Linda's room is on the second floor...

Ah, here we are. Let's see.

Hey, can I try something?

But, Ken, how can you not be able to dodge a punch from a level 2 girl?
Should I try it again?
Yes / [No]

Clearly we'll have no luck here until we're actually level 3. Well, let's finish here for today, and then next time we'll try and capture some animals, in hopes of raising our level to at least 3. Maybe then Linda will stop hitting us every time we meet.

By the way, this last bit at Linda's house is totally optional, you can just go out and start gaining levels etc. without ever seeing this scene! I'll try to include as many such little bits as possible.

So I know this was a bit long, but I just wanted to get the story going--as you can see, there is a TON of background information on this world which needs to be conveyed somehow! From now on it shouldn't be so much of an information overload constantly though, although there will never stop there being a ton of NPCs around to talk with. I kind of don't really want to skip too much here as it really helps with the world building (which is pretty awesome in this game!), but let's see how it goes.

In the meantime stay tuned for some additional content!

So that the actual update doesn't get too overwhelmed with information, here I will post some additional background info about subjects that come up during the gameplay. This game really goes the extra mile and then some when the world building is concerned!

NEO-KENYA    The Federation outpost planet no. 643 is the most popular tourist destination as of AMD 1991. It has abundance of nature and is home to all kinds of animals. The planet has many features that don't make sense compared to other planets and often confuse visitors. Walking around here without basic knowledge of how to deal with the animals you encounter can be quite dangerous.

BEASTIANS    The indigenous people of Neo-Kenya are known as Beastians. They had only a very primitive civilisation when the Federation team discovered them, but traces of artificial genetic tampering were also found. How they arrived on Neo-Kenya is still a mystery. The Beastians have their own beliefs and have a basic philosophy of worshipping animals as their ancestors. There has already been an amount of miscegenation with the Federation settlers.

FEDERATION NATURE CONSERVATION POLICY    The Federation has an unusually strong policy of nature conservation. The fact that all the towns are enclosed in domes is a sign of this policy, and since there are no roads between the towns, the only means of communication is the bird line on the huge island of Pterano. In order to maintain the ecosystem, only licensed hunters are allowed to hunt animals. However, the carrying of firearms is forbidden.

THE RANGER CORPS    It is a public institution originally established on Neo-Kenya, and it has both police and rescue functions. Currently, they have a strong role as a participant in the Neo Kenya Escape Project. The purpose at the time of the establishment was to protect wild animals from poachers and conversely to protect civilians from animals, but the current situation is that there are few members because the salary is small compared to the difficulty of the work. It also seems that some of them abuse their privileges to excavate ruins and obtain huge fortunes.

As mentioned, I will usually try to post a couple of illustrations by Tatsuyuki Tanaka, normally something which is relevant to the current update, but if not then just whatever looks interesting. So here are a few for today, hope you enjoy them!

"It's a promise!"

"Looking for the ark crew"

ivantod fucked around with this message at 22:55 on Nov 9, 2022

Mar 27, 2010
Yes, a totally normal intro. Waiting to see what the totally ordinary Santa was about too.

lets hang out
Jan 10, 2015

oh awesome, been interested in this game forever

Mar 27, 2010
... okay ... these people clearly have interstellar travel, so why aren't they, you know, doing something about the meteor that's going to hit in eight years?

Feb 15, 2012

Now prepare yourselves! You're the guests of honor at the Greatest Kung Fu Cannibal BBQ Ever!

I like how there's no real urgency here, despite a world-ending meteor coming in 8 years and the entire southern continent being wiped out. It's uncanny.

Seraphic Neoman
Jul 19, 2011

Ratoslov posted:

I like how there's no real urgency here, despite a world-ending meteor coming in 8 years and the entire southern continent being wiped out. It's uncanny.

Honestly, kinda feels like it mirrors modern events eerily well.

Oct 30, 2011

Is it just me, or did Linda kiss Ken while his mouth is wide open?


This game is full of these weird nice vibes and I am liking it already :allears:

Nov 4, 2010

This looks interesting, it's not at all what I expected from just that handprint title screen.

TheDavies posted:

... okay ... these people clearly have interstellar travel, so why aren't they, you know, doing something about the meteor that's going to hit in eight years?

Heck, they could've given the meteor the tiniest of fly-bys back when they discovered it 100 years ago. The minute gravity of the ship would've been enough to pull it off of its collision course.

Dec 18, 2020

13km away
I remember reading a really interesting article about this game. Very excited to see the details.

inscrutable horse
May 20, 2010

Parsing sage, rotating time

I find myself fascinated by Ken's Guile hair.

Mar 28, 2010

This is fascinating! I've never heard of this game, and I'm hooked. (And speaking as a professional J-E translator, you're doing a great job.)

Kaboom Dragoon
May 7, 2010

The greatest of feasts

Oh hells yes! I've been fascinated by this game ever since I saw a compilation of some of the cutscenes in the game (probably most people's first exposure to the game, and I bet you know exactly the one I mean). From what little I know of it, this game is gonna loving go places.

Oct 31, 2012

Ante up.

I.. what? This looks incredibly fascinating, I shall be reading with bated breath. :suspense:

Also domestic violence is not okay Linda no matter what anime may have taught you. :mad: (Looks like this game is on track to hit all the problematic 90's anime tropes)

Nov 4, 2010

I'm also really wondering if the ³ character works in thread titles so you could get rid of the ^3 you got in there now.

Sum Gai
Mar 23, 2013

Kaboom Dragoon posted:

Oh hells yes! I've been fascinated by this game ever since I saw a compilation of some of the cutscenes in the game (probably most people's first exposure to the game, and I bet you know exactly the one I mean). From what little I know of it, this game is gonna loving go places.

That's basically how I found out about it, and I've been hoping for something like this ever since to explain what's actually going on, as far as that's possible.

Mar 23, 2007

Geemer posted:

I'm also really wondering if the ³ character works in thread titles so you could get rid of the ^3 you got in there now.

The thread title entry box for regular users is pretty restrictive but I don't think there's any technical restriction on the title itself, a mod could probably edit it in if desired.

Mar 27, 2010

Mahalo, fuckers.

Hirayuki posted:

This is fascinating! I've never heard of this game, and I'm hooked. (And speaking as a professional J-E translator, you're doing a great job.)
Thanks for the kind words, especially coming from someone who does translation as a day job. :)

Kaboom Dragoon posted:

Oh hells yes! I've been fascinated by this game ever since I saw a compilation of some of the cutscenes in the game (probably most people's first exposure to the game, and I bet you know exactly the one I mean). From what little I know of it, this game is gonna loving go places.
Believe it or not, it's also how *I* found out about this game too! I think you're right, it's pretty much how most people find out about it, and yes it REALLY does go to some interesting and weird places!

Polsy posted:

The thread title entry box for regular users is pretty restrictive but I don't think there's any technical restriction on the title itself, a mod could probably edit it in if desired.
Thanks, I'll get in touch with the mods and see if they can do something about it. It WOULD be nice to have the game's name written properly in the thread title! :v:

Feb 21, 2013

Chill Bug

kens mom is just doing the :shepface: directly into the camera

Nissin Cup Nudist
Sep 3, 2011

Sleep with one eye open

We're off to Gritty Gritty land

Can't remember too many games (or anime or w/e)where the Big drat Kiss is 5 minutes in

Sep 4, 2011

Im intrigued to see what this game has in store. Also, what God has as a backup plan when Linda inevitably kills Ken.

Kaboom Dragoon
May 7, 2010

The greatest of feasts

Randalor posted:

Im intrigued to see what this game has in store. Also, what God has as a backup plan when Linda inevitably kills Ken.



Sep 4, 2011

Wait, do her "tests" actually deal damage, and if so, can she actually kill Ken with them?

Mar 27, 2010

Mahalo, fuckers.

Randalor posted:

Wait, do her "tests" actually deal damage, and if so, can she actually kill Ken with them?

Luckily, Ken doesn't actually take any damage during those scenes!

Mar 30, 2019

Excited to get in on the ground floor of another ivantod lp! Agreed with everyone else that the premise is already super interesting.

ivantod posted:

My job is to get people back to work after they have been battered and bruised by the animals. I want to help you guys since there are not many of you left. Also retirement money is band.

I'm having a hard time parsing that last sentence... is he saying retirement money is banned, so he might as well not retire?

Mar 27, 2010

Mahalo, fuckers.

differentiating posted:

Excited to get in on the ground floor of another ivantod lp! Agreed with everyone else that the premise is already super interesting.

I'm having a hard time parsing that last sentence... is he saying retirement money is banned, so he might as well not retire?

No, he's saying that the retirement money "is bad". I just made a ridiculous typo there that I somehow didn't notice.

Sorry about that, it's fixed now! I guess the end result is still that it doesn't make sense to retire because of that.

Mar 30, 2019

ivantod posted:

No, he's saying that the retirement money "is bad". I just made a ridiculous typo there that I somehow didn't notice.

Sorry about that, it's fixed now! I guess the end result is still that it doesn't make sense to retire because of that.

Ahh, gotcha. That being said, you're both translating and transcribing a bunch of text, so one typo here or there is nothing!

Dec 13, 2002

eVeN I KnOw wHaT CoRnEr gAs iS
This game is even more ??? than I'd thought from your posts in the prior thread, can't wait to see how it goes.

The uh, Biblical Ark thing is a lot - a LOT more overt than I thought it'd be, for one.

Sep 11, 2021

Man I love weird and sort of obscure cult classics like this, and I especially love when I can read a full of info LP about them.

I gotta say so far it's definitely... interesting. Definitely can't say I expected a full on wooden ship ark to fall from the sky.

Mar 27, 2010

Mahalo, fuckers.

Last time, we covered the initial story of the planed Neo-Kenya where our adventure is set and met our main characters, Ken and his girlfriend Linda. It, however, became quickly obvious that she is not going to want to talk to Ken until he reaches level 3, but he's currently only level 1. Well, since we do have animals to gather for the ark (and potentially our own purposes), then I suppose, let's get out into the world and try to find some. This should allow us to reach level 3, and then hopefully we can finally have an actual conversation with Linda.

Back to the overworld it is!

Here is Ken, just after leaving Minago at Q-14, after his unsuccesful attempt to talk to Linda.

(By the way, that overworld theme above is pretty awesome so definitely give it a listen!)

As far as animal gathering is concerned... in the general area of the ark, we can already see some pigs. As mentioned, there are no random battles in this game, all "enemies" are visible on the overworld like this, so you know what you're getting into (sort of). Pigs are pretty harmless, so let's approach. Incidentally, approaching an animal from the back does give you the preemtive strike!

So, how does this work?

The battles are mostly presented in a Dragon Quest-like style. On top you can see the enemies and their HP, in the middle is your party, and at the bottom all the actions/results are displayed as plain text. It's also where the menu appears for our party members to choose their action.

Our party can consist of up to two humans plus up to two dogs. One of the humans will always be Ken, but for now we have there one empty spot next to him. The other two spots are reserved for dogs (if you put them in your party). Here like this at the beginning it's useful to have both dogs present as both of those we have already start at level 5 and are therefore stronger and sturdier than Ken and will help out if we are fighting a lot of enemies.

Speaking of which, I'm sure you've noticed the cross in the bottom right corner. This shows you the battlefield configuration. Our party's position is in the middle and the enemies can be on any (or all) of the four sides. In this example, there are 3 enemies in front, and 2 to the right (it might be a bit hard to see). So in addition to standard functions, you can also change the direction you face during the battle, to attack a particular enemy. This arrangement is one slight difference from a typical JRPG of this period. There is one other quirk here, which I will cover shortly.

In any case, the disadvantage of dogs is that... you cannot control them--they will act on their own in the battle. It's not a huge problem, but something to be aware of. For our situation, since dogs are higher level than Ken, they will generally act first.

Eventually, Ken will get his chance to choose from a menu, as you can see above. The game helpfully displays you also his stats, so here we can see that there are actually only three different kinds of stats! From left to right, they are: attack power (100), defense (91) and speed (76). So you won't have to worry about a complicated mess of numbers like in some other games.

The options available in the menu are:

| Attack | Transform   |
| Item   | Spec. skill |
| Defend | Escape      |

All of these options are pretty standard, except probably "Transform". We'll talk about it more another time, but for now I can mention that it allows you to temporarily transform into a "beast" and be able to use more powerful abilities to fight enemies. The drawback is, of course, that these abilities consume BP (Beast Points) to use. But Ken has currently 0 BP, so this is a no go for us at the moment. And so are the skills, since he has none of those yet either.

Anyway, Ken attacks, and deals 54 damage to the female Pig B. Pigs are pretty basic enemies (the most basic there is in this game), so this battle goes smoothly and we end up with the following transferred to our TransCargo backpack:

Pig♀ 3
Pig♂ 1

So, this doesn't quite fit the number of enemies that were on the field, what gives? Ah, well, here is the tricky part. The goal is not to kill the animals! Therefore you must ensure that you don't deal too much damage--i.e. you must not "overkill" them! If you deal too much damage/overkill them, then the animal is considered not usable, and is lost. This also means that you mostly have to be careful in which order you fight different species, because e.g. leaving these pigs until you are much higher level would make it more difficult to capture. But, luckily, they're just around the opening area so we can deal with them right now!

No money is received from battles (for that you will have to rely on your salary and whatever you can sell/trade), but Ken does get a fair chunk of experience (and so do the dogs--they also level up as the gain experience!).

Here is a small info card with some basic detail about the pigs...

...but in the meantime I will go and capture a few more. For the ark we only need one of each gender, so the rest is up to us what we do with them.

After the second battle with the pigs, Ken gets enough experience to become level 2!

The next animal on our list for today are squirrels!

There are some here nearby, but they are a bit annoying as they will try to run away from you, so you might have to chase them for a bit. But, eventually:

There is again nothing to even remotely to worry about here, they are just as easy as pigs. The only annoying ability they have is that they can change position on the battlefield, but considering that the battle system is strictly turn based with no real time elements, it's not a big deal.

However, again I want to draw your attention to the cross in the right corner which, as I've mentioned, shows the configuration of the battlefield. Now we can see that it also shows the terrain configuration! This is important for one simple reason, each animal (including humans) has a favourable terrain type, which is usually its natural habitat. This means that if you manage to fight it on a terrain that is disadvantageous to it, it will be weaker and not be able to deal as much damage. In case of squirrels, their natural habitat is, as you can imagine, forest, therefore here they have their full abilities. Which is still not much, so you don't need to worry about this when squirrels are concerned. But this can be really imporant if you manage to get an aquatic animal near the coast and fight it like that. It does also apply to our party, e.g. if we end up fighting in water, our abilities may be slightly decreased because of that.

Anyway, fighting a few more squirrels finally gets Ken to level 3!

In theory, we could go and see how Linda is doing now, but... since we're already here, let's just capture a few more species! Next on our list is... ostrich! Here are some:

So, let's get into battle!

Again, nothing of particular note happens here, so we end up with a few of them in our backpack.

I will mention though, that some of these abilities Ken and/or Linda will certainly be able to learn later on!

Soon, as Ken is walking...

...he receives a notification that there is a message waiting for him at the phone answering service! Hm. Wonder what that could be about? Well, since we do have to find a phone anyway to listen to our message, let's then first stop at the ark and hand in these animals we've captured!

This time, we'll go through this door here...

...which leads to...

...the chamber where we can register our animals. If we walk all the way to the front... is a device which allows us to do it. We get a screen like this:

...which shows us all animals we currently have in our TransCargo. There are a few of both male and female pigs, squirrels and ostriches. To repeat, only one of each needs to go into the ark, the rest are left to us to sell or use in any way we need.

Every time we hand in a male animal, Ken gets a small increase in all his stats (HP, BP, attack power, defense, speed). Here you can see +1 in each of those. When we hand in a female animal, it's Linda who gets the stat bonuses (even when she's not in our party, like now). In some cases you might also get an ability from the animal you handed in, but that will come later.

After handing all 6 animals in, you can check them out sitting in their pods in the ark:

From left to right: pig, ostrich, squirrel. I'm not generally going to bother showing this screen since the animals look exactly the same as on the battle screen, so there's not really any point.

If you talk to this robot here, then he will show you how many animals/species you've captured and how many are still remaining to capture in this scenario. Here you can see that the total we need is, as we already know, 30 species/60 animals, out of which we already have 3 species (and 6 animals in total). The maximum in the game is 120/240, but that's not even theoretically possible in this scenario, so we don't need to worry about that.

The other robots standing around here will explain you about the stat gains and abilities you may get upon registering an animal, so we can skip them and go see about that message now!

For this, we can use any of the phones found in all towns. Here, Ken is using the one in the Hardia entrance, but actually you might remember that there was also one in that little shack by the ark, so we could have used that one too.

In any case, it turns out that the message is from Ben, the Ranger commander.

It's me, the commander! I don't know where you will be when you receive this call, but you need to get to Hospico ASAP! Linda... Linda is... Well, anyway, just get to the Hospico right now, do you understand? And, no matter what happens... stay strong! That's all!

Uh, so has something happened to Linda? I mean, he kind of missed to say the most important part there...

You know what, let's just go quickly and check in with Ken's mom, she might tell us something more?

She's going to be fine, she's the same like you! It's not as bad as it looks. Anyway, whatever happens will happen, so all you can do is believe in tomorrow, right?

Uh, sure. But at least that explains the message--it seems that Linda has somehow lost her memory? But how?

Well, we'll head over to Hospico soon enough, but for now let's head out and do a little bit more hunting.

So, anyway, back outside...

...if we head out a bit north of the ark...

...there is a bunch of weird shaped peninsulas or whatever they are. Here we can usually find...

...some rats for us to collect!

In any case, this goes pretty easily and we end up with a few of them in our backpack!

Rats are a bit annoying on the map because (a) they will keep trying to run away from you when on land, and (b) their tiny sprite looks a bit similar to a squirrel (which are much more plentiful around the area). I will go ahead and try to catch some more rats.

I should mention that level and HP are just approximate/average and it can vary a bit between encounters. Also, some abilities are only used by higher level versions. Apologies if sometimes the ability descriptions are not detailed enough, that just means I wasn't able to find the information!

By the way, when walking around this area...

...try to be careful not to run into a pack of wild dogs! If they see you, they will chase you around the map and you will probably have to use the sprint function to escape. The only problem... in this game, sprinting costs HP! It's not actually so bad because the main character's default moving speed is already pretty fast so this only really needs to be used to escape from an unwanted encounter with a stronger enemy.

You, know, something like this.

The dogs are indeed a bit too strong for us right now, so we'll try to avoid them!

This is the last species we're looking for, for today: the dragonfly! They can also be a little harder to find and take a bit of walking around to get them to spawn.

Here we go!

Here you can already see a bit of an issue. They are relatively rare in the Summer, but it's still better to catch them now while Ken is at a very low level! Also, even though they're weak, you should be a bit careful of their fire attacks, especially since they also have the ability to reduce your fire defense!

So that's about it for hunting for this time, but I just wanted to show you something. The animal designs in the original PC Engine version are sometimes slightly different. For example, here is what the pigs used to look like:

So that looks pretty different (and cool)! But on the other hand, rats seem to have stayed mostly the same between platforms (well apart from the fact that PCE doesn't support as many colours on the screen as PS1 does!):

Ok, now we can head to Hospico. It's located a bit further to the east from the ark...

...but there's this mountain range in the way!

Luckily, there are tunnels which go under the mountains, and here you can see the entrance to one of these.

They literally go under a mountain, and allow you to quickly cross to the other side!

Here we are, on the other side! Now a just a little little further to the east...

...and, here is Hospico at coordinates V-13!

Let's head inside!

The entrance hallway is pretty much the same as always...

Passing through, we get to the reception building.

Inside, we can talk to this friendly nurse at the reception desk.

You're here to see Linda Aurea, aren't you? She's in a private room upstairs in the second ward, right next to the neonatal unit. You can't miss it, but if you get lost, just ask at the nurses' station!

Oh, we learn Linda's full name! Also, neonatal unit? I guess when so many of your patients are pregnant women...

Well, if we head straight through that doorway on the north...

...we go through a courtyard, giving a nice view to the actual hospital building. This place does have many of the normal town facilities and services. For example, right inside the hospital building is a pharmacy:

Drugs are much more effective than a random effect from some mystery meat! You can use them with confidence.

I haven't talked about it yet, but if you process the caught animals into meat, eating that meat could give you various positive or negative effects. This shop, however, mostly sells recovery potions, this time in the form of medical capsules:

Like for example the capsules which recover around 50 or 100 HP, or even stuff which cures status effects like an antidote capsule or a neutralising spray.

The pharmacists has a bit more to say...

It was more than 10 years ago... There was a stimulant called "Vigour II" which became popular with the hunters. One tablet of "Vigour" and your attack power would raise enough to be able to fight wolves or rhinos! Everyone just kept taking them, even after they found out that it could ruin their body both mentally and physically!

These are indeed some slightly higher level enemies in the game!

Well, we're here to see Linda, so we'll just head up those stairs right behind Ken, to the second floor.

We might as well ask for directions at the nurses' station!

You're here to see Miss Linda, right? She's in the room down the hall over there, right next to the room with the newborns. I hope she's going to get well!

Heading down the hallway, past the newborns, there is a ranger here we can talk to:

Hey Ken, something crazy happened while you were hunting pigs or whatever you were doing! The entire population of Minago disappeared over night, the only one left was your dear Linda! I don't know how it happened, or where all the people went! I have no idea why she was left... we don't know anything!

Hold up! The entire population of Minago disappeared and only Linda was left, but without her memory? And commander never thought to mention any of this in his phone message? Really?

We can also talk to the doctor-looking fellow standing at the door there!

You're Ken, right? I'm Chen, the director of this hospital. Nice to meet you! As for Linda, she's a little weak, but is otherwise doing fine. She should be back in full health in no time. The only thing is... she seems to have lost her memory. Like she experienced some kind of a shock, or something like that. Anyway, go in and see her. I'll wait here so we can talk afterwards!

Sounds like a plan. Let's talk to Linda and see what she has to say.

I apologise in advance, but... who are you? What is our relationship? Sorry to trouble you, but can you tell me?

(Ken fills Linda in about their shared past starting from the time they were children.)

And also... as you said... we're... practically engaged.
I'm sorry... You seem like a nice and kind person...
But I'm really sorry! I really can't remember any of it! I can't even remember the face of my boyfriend... You must be upset, right?
Well, it's only natural... / [ Don't worry about it! ]
I'm really sorry! But, if it's not too much of a bother, would you come and visit me again some time?

Even if it makes no difference in the game, no need to be a jerk, right? Anyway, that's all we can talk to Linda about for now, so let's go back and talk again to the hospital director outside.

So even you she can't recognise... Memory loss is one of the diseases for which there is no generally effective treatement still.
But, fortunately, here on Neo-Kenya we do have a cure for amnesia. I mean, we don't have it here right now, but... well, it's a bit complicated. The procedure to get it is a bit troublesome and it will take time. If the discussions go well we'll put you to work for it. So make sure your skills are up to scratch. I should be able to get things in motion by the time you've made yourself some nice crab gear. I promise you we'll talk then.

So this is a little bit of a hint. The crabs are level 7, so basically we can go on with our other tasks and should expect to hear from him around the time we're level 7, in order to then proceed with obtaining the memory loss treatment for Linda. Since the gameplay is kind of bounded by actual time passage of 8 years, but the game also has a proper plot, then it kind of "gates" your plot progression in this manner so that you also have time to do animal collection and other stuff in between the "plot moments".

Anyway, since we're done with this, why not check out the room for the newborns, too?

Cute, but let's talk to the nurse for a second.

But, as you can see, I'm able to live and work here normally! And so will Linda even if she doesn't regain her memories. But I hope she does!

You have a dialogue portrait! Why do you have a portrait? I guess we'll find out? Maybe? Interesting.

Well, since we're done with our main task, visiting Linda, let's take this opportunity to do our usual tour of the town and see what people have to say about stuff! If we walk over to the nurses on the other side of the floor...

Have you met Sachiko?
[ I've met her. ] / Not yet....
The whole southern area was burned to the ground! Sachiko is the only survivor of the satellite crash. It's only when Linda started talking to her that she finally became emotionally stable. That girl is really sweet, like an angel!

Ah, yeah we read about the satellite crash on that news bulletin!

The other nurse, over by the stairs...

Since Linda came here, she's been washing her hands every 5 minutes or so, every finger, every nail. It's like there's invisible blood on them or something!

Well, that doesn't sound too good! Hopefully she recovers soon.

If we go up the stairs, there is an entrance to the roof and also a person standing there:

In the backyard, there's a building which looks like it's half buried underground... Rumour is that this is where the mayor of Koshikata is still being held. It's been already 16 years since that horrible incident...

That sounds interesting. Perhaps at some point we should try to find out more about this.

Anyway, there's nothing else here, so if we go back down and then again down to the ground floor, there's more people we can talk to... this pregnant lady here!

If you talk to Miss Sachiko, you might get an idea of what Miss Linda's future is going to be like once she leaves the hospital. You are going to take care of her, aren't you?

Over here in the corner, is the staircase leading to the basement, so let's check it out.

Well, that definitely looks like a morgue, complete with a corpse. Uh, well, let's talk to the guy here.

Before the late Dr. Emory developed organ cloning, bodies were often stolen from here. It's not so common these days, but the corpses of young Beastian women do still disappear from time to time.

Uh, moving swiftly onwards, or rather leftwards to that room next to the morgue!

Well, turns out, despite being somewhat unconventional in many of its mechanics, still this game does have plain old treasure chests, and in fact there are two of them right here!

The one on the left has a "Recovery Tablet 100", and the one on the right "Antidote Capsule", both of which you could also buy at the pharmacy earlier. But it's nice to get some for free!

If we exit the basement, and go all the way around to the other side of the ground floor...

...we find another one of those power stations.

In towns, you don't have to worry about the time. So take your time and listen to what people have to say. Although it's probably going to be just stuff like lies, rumours, boasting, slander and complaining...

So, this is just another of the last few bits of tutorial! But I kept it because it's phrased in a funny way. If we go through that door...

...we pass another of those electric catfish pens, confirming that this was indeed the power station for this town!

Linda's dad, Hume, was dismissed from the Ranger Coprs because he was messing with "Vigour II". I think he acted a bit too rashly, I mean I get it, he got married, had Linda, and the money was tight... but still then he ended up working so much that had no time at all for them. Silly man.

And I guess this is that building where the Mayor is kept? Let's find out!

This is the special monitoring cell. What is your business?
[ I would like to see the mayor. ] / Just walking around...
Koshikata mayor is not here! Please stop spreading silly rumours!

Let's go back around...

Oh, cool, a place for dogs to exercise!

Anyway, on the other side are some nice houses.

Let's go in!

Oh, I guess those are the "scientists' labs", mentioned in the town description. Let's see...

How could a satellite fall down like that! And for Dr. Emory to suffer such an unreasonable death... And all that after all his research was done to protect humans from unreasonable death: organ cloning, artificial wombs...

So I guess he also got killed by the fallout from the fallen satellite?

There's another pregnant woman standing in front of the next house down...

Your girlfriend has amnesia? I wish I could be her... because I would actually prefer to forget my life...


Going into the house, it's another lab.

What's with the Christmas tree over on the left? Isn't it Summer? And what kind of experiments are even being done here? It looks a bit weird...

This is Dr. Panheim's lab. But he only visits a couple of times a year. Mostly, he's working in his lab over in Eterna, so if you want to see him, you'll have to go there. He doesn't like to meet people, though, so he probably is not going to want to see you.

We've learned about quite a number of new places today... we'll should probably go and pay them a visit at some point!

And the third and final house... I guess another lab?


Well, there is actually a person to talk to here.

Oh, hello! I'm Flora! It's been so long since I've spoken to a human, so I'm a bit nervous! I mean, I like to talk to these chatty flowers, but all they ever want to do is talk about the weather!

Speaking of flowers... long as it's weather, right?

Yeah. You can talk to the blue flower.

All right, let's leave... but as we try, we get stopped.

Would you mind answering a survey? Of all the fruits I'm going to list, which one is your favourite?
Banana / Lemon / [ Apple ] / Kiwi / Mango / Strawberry / Watermelon / Tangerine / Pineapple / Apricot / Grape / Melon.

Yes, indeed, you really get all those choices on the screen:

Check out that box on top with all the fruit names to choose from! Anyway, Ken chooses "apple".

Huh, an apple? But from now on, you will like bananas. You seem to me like a banana person! ❤️

If you do choose the banana, then she's happy with you!

Anyway, let's try to leave... again.

Oh, you're going already? Can I get at least a goodbye kiss?
Gladly! ❤️ / Sure, I guess. / [ No way. ]
Then I will just... *kiss* ❤️ ❤️

She kisses him anyway. Ok, we need to get out of here.

There's another pregnant lady sitting here on the bench by the fountain...

You see these three buildings here? This first one is Dr. Flora's laboratory, the next one is Dr. Panheims's and the last one with the flower bed is Dr. Emory's laboratory. These are the laboratories of "the three geniuses of Hospico". Their work has already contributed to extending the average human lifespan by at least two years each!

That's not bad... I guess?

With this, we've kid of made a loop of the whole hospital complex, so let's go back inside as there are a few more people to talk to.

Like these people here in the waiting area. First the one on the left...

I know you have a lot on your mind because of Linda, but you have to keep going with the animal collection! Don't worry, she'll be back to normal! I'm sure she will!

And the other person.

Nurse Sachiko is the flower of this hospital, the idol of all patients. I even started smoking, drinking and doing other things bad for your body, just so I would end up in the hospital and be able to see her!

There's also this person here. Not sure why this office also has a whole bedroom included?

If you are trying to find the director of this hospital, the best way is to look for the white coat and bald head. That's what the rest of us do, at least.

We kind of already found him, but thanks for the info anyway!

As mentioned, the hospital does also contain some other facilities normally found in towns.

Like the bank!

If you have cash to spare, you can also pay the hunters for hire up north in Paraside. They will happily collect the animals for you, without you having to break a sweat! Although you might break out in cold sweat while trying to negotiate with them, hahaha!

Possibly, I should mention at this point that collecting all the animals is not simply a matter of going around the world to the places where they appear on the overworld. You can do that for quite a few of them, but the rest require other, more or less complicated methods in order to obtain. We'll obviously have a chance to see that over the course of the game. But we have still another place name to add to our list of places to visit.

As we did before, we can check again Ken's bank book, which shows the total currently at zero, after our withdrawal last time. Well, it makes sense, it's still Summer so our next salary hasn't been paid yet, since in this world they are paid quarterly.

Next to the bank is this gentleman here...

I've heard that this hospital has an annual deficit of about 3 million G. And it's all covered by EGF, a foundation created by Green Pharmaceutical Co., which specialises in donations to medical organisations. The company's president is quite something! She's a beautiful woman in her thirities, but how much experience she has you'd think she's in her 60s!
But you know what else, when it says "donation" written on a contract, it's easy to not read it as "bribe".

We can also stop by the butcher shop, as usual. We don't have anything to do here, but a bit of chat is always nice.

Meat spoils easily when seasons change, so you might want to use it sooner rather than later, don't think about it forever. Especially in the summer, the meat goes bad faster.

Nice hint. If we process an animal into meat, we can only carry that meat with us for a limited time, typically one season, otherwise it will go bad, so we should use it one way or another before that time! This also applies to other kinds of organic matter we can have in our possession.

Here is our old friend, the animal trader!

Do you have any extra animals you don't need? We'll take them for a good price! But if you want to buy or sell protected animals, then our hands are tied. I've heard that there are some people who don't mind the hassle and would still do it, though.

Hm, well, I guess we can think about that if and when we even have any "protected" animals in our backpack.

I take the opportunity to sell some of our extra pigs, squirrels and ostriches for a bit of extra cash, although despite what he says, his prices really really aren't good at all.

After this, we can go to his neighbour, the equipment shop.

I'm going to give you some tips about equipment. If the original animal's attack was strong, the weapon will have a high attack power. If the animal had a hard shell, the clothes will be defensive. If the animal was weak to fire, then the clothes will be too.

Well that makes sense, the clothes and equipment will take on the properties of the animal it was made from.

We can do a bit of shopping here also.

We'll get a "Rabbit Knife" for Ken, which gives +24 to his attack power. We're a bit short on money, so that's what we can afford for now.

I remember to also equip it, which raises Ken's attack from 107 to 131 as you can see there on the top right. Neat. Ken's previous weapon, in case you're interested, was "Squirrel Needle", and his clothes are also all "Squirrel" level (waistcoat, goggles and slippers).

The smaller numbers you can see there on the right (2, 4) are various resistances to things like physical attack, fire, electricity etc, which are the effects of some animal attacks.

By the way, if we check quickly the party menu screen:

The right side is empty of course because we don't have a second person, but for Ken we can see that even our three stats the game is assigning a "level" based on different animals, so our attack and defense are "mole-level" while our speed is "squirrel-level". This game does have a bunch of such whimsical touches, I like it a lot.

For one last thing for today, let's head back outside...

There we find the typical dog shop/veterinarian combo, with a nurse standing outside.

I'm not sure it's very hygienic to have a dog veterinarian on the grounds of a human hospital. I wonder who's going to be responsible when dog diseases or parasites start infecting the weak patients!

North of this building is actualy that dog pen we saw earlier.

We can also go inside, although mostly here we get some gameplay hints about managing the dogs in your party etc., so we can skip those.

Although, we can talk to this person for a bit.

Please make a donation for the peace of souls of poor dogs who perished because of their foolish owners! If you keep dogs, you should donate because it will make you fell better!

Ok, that's funny. But for real, we do need to be careful with our dogs since we don't really have control over them in battle.

In any case, that's all we wanted to do here for now, so we'll head back out. Next time, we'll do some more hunting and then we'll see what else is around! There certainly seems to be a lot going on in this world! And we have learned already of a fair few places that are potentially interesting, however, we might find something on our own too!

THE ECOSYSTEM OF NEO-KENYA    There are a number of strange features to be found in the animals of Neo-Kenya. Sometimes they seem to have the characteristics of an animal that should have evolved in a completely different environment on another planet. There are also obvious sings of genetic tampering, such as the presence of extra organs from another species, and sometimes also various biological defects, such as explosions caused by chemical reactions of unknown substances in the body. It is therefore necessary to be careful of things like sudden fire and ice attacks from animals.

For today, first we have some storyboards used for the cutscenes we saw last time:

It seems that part which is in the middle column didn't actually end up filmed.

And, to conclude, here is a silly one from the PC Engine era, with the slightly different look for the characters:

Please don't ask me to explain it!

ivantod fucked around with this message at 22:56 on Nov 9, 2022

Aug 14, 2008

Things sure seem to happen abruptly in this game. Curious to see where it goes.

Dec 13, 2002

eVeN I KnOw wHaT CoRnEr gAs iS

ivantod posted:

Please don't ask me to explain it!

how many of your LPs does this apply to? :v:

Feb 21, 2013

Chill Bug

ohhh those pigs are so cute in the ps1 ver!! :3:

also its kinda funny that running costs HP in this... gives me lunar dragon song vibes :v:

Fantastic Foreskin
Jan 6, 2013

A golden helix streaked skyward from the Helvault. A thunderous explosion shattered the silver monolith and Avacyn emerged, free from her prison at last.

Those're some wicked monster designs.

Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.

This seems very, very odd.

Mar 27, 2010

Mahalo, fuckers.

Night10194 posted:

This seems very, very odd.
Which part? ;)

Fantastic Foreskin posted:

Those're some wicked monster designs.
They're pretty awesome, aren't they? And there's still so many more to see, we've only scratched the surface!

Booky posted:

also its kinda funny that running costs HP in this... gives me lunar dragon song vibes :v:
Well, if we're talking about the DS game, then I can tell you that unlike that game, Linda³ is actually good, or at least interesting! :v:

In any case, running consuming HP isn't such a problem as Ken already moves on the overworld at decent speed, so sprinting is really only needed when you actually really want to run away from something. So it kind of makes sense how they did it.

Oct 30, 2011
The pigs are just :3:

Booky posted:

also its kinda funny that running costs HP in this... gives me lunar dragon song vibes :v:

That was probably a bigger dumpster fire than Ririko, all in all.


Blaze Dragon
Aug 28, 2013

I'll join the cute pigs bandwagon here. The spritework in general is really neat, with some very otherwordly designs.

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