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  -Part 1 :: [02.22.03]
  -Part 2 :: [05.23.03]
  -Part 3 :: [02.01.04]
  -Part 4 :: [08.17.04]
  -Part 5 :: [02.17.05]
  -Part 6 :: [02.17.06]
  -Part 7 :: [08.06.08]
  -Part 8 :: [08.28.11]
  -Part 9 :: [05.17.13]
  -Part 10 :: [11.26.13]
  -Part 11 :: [11.24.14]

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"The townsperson complains about loneliness, as the rest of the town thinks s/he's full of chocobo shit. I can't see why anyone wouldn't believe him/her as s/he's SO not irritating at all and probably doesn't constantly rant and whine on the FF7 version of LiveJournal."
     -Jeanne, Final Fantasy VII Part 6

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Lunar: Silver Star Story : Part 11
By Sam
Posted 11.24.14
Pg. 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6
The last installment of proto-Dragonmaster Alex's adventures netted him his third item of Dragonmaster couture (the still-sweet-as-fuck Blue Dragon Earflap Hat), but also cost him his third consecutive dragon. He's not going to have a lot to be master of by the time this is over. On the less-than-reliable advice of the elder of Lyton, but more on the reality that there's just nowhere else to go at this point, Alex leads his friends east toward the supposed location of the Black Dragon.

Southeast of Lyton, the teens enter a canyon carved from red rock. A weird haze hangs in the air. I'm guessing it's haze, anyway, since it actually looks like someone used their "light smog" Instagram filter. The monsters are, of course, stronger than anything the gang has faced thus far and are not at all in line with my expectations of what kind of fauna one would encounter in a desert canyon. There are hornets and, I suppose, demonic cacti (this requires me to squint hard and charitably at the palette-swapped plant monsters that have been all over the goddamn game), but there are also "Ice Pups," bright blue canines that are identical to the ice mongrels in the Cave of Trial, but then again, it's not like they made any more sense in there. Finally, they encounter more giant mushrooms, something that would never be able to flourish in this dry climate. I'm starting to get the feeling the game designers don't care about these kinds of details.

Alex's victory dance reminds me of something.

The kids wind their way through the canyon, passing various signs that tell them to turn back or warn of "Falling Rocks Ahead!" like they're on their way to see the Wicked Witch of the West. Which, I guess they are, except they're walking east, and the witch is an albino community theater enthusiast in purple robes and a horned hat. They must explore basically every inch of this place to get all the loot, including a "Dark Helmet" that I'm sure, when it was named, caused the game designers to burst into 20 extemporaneous, self-indulgent minutes of quoting Spaceballs. Finally, with every chest opened and every monster dead, and my desire to play this game mostly gone after barely half an hour, they pass through a narrow opening to the eastern edge of the canyon. The music immediately drops into Sinister Slags mode so I know one of the Vile Tribe ladies is about to make an entrance.


The lady of the hour in this case is Xeboobia--I guess the ladies have to appear sequentially, so it's her turn. Kyle snarls, "You filthy wench! Come here and let me wrap my hands around your scrawny neck!" I know she's super evil, but dang, that gives me the heebs. I wish that line hadn't been put in Kyle's mouth. Xeboobia in turn promises that he won't lay a hand on her until the moment "I stomp on the head of your cold, rotting corpse." There's a lot of love here, obviously. Xeboobia is here, duh, to prevent Alex from reaching the Black Dragon, and summons a group of mohawk-sporting knight and wizard monsters to take them out.

You have to give them credit for coordinating their look.

Since there is no convenient Althena statue out here in Bumfuck Egypt, the kids are not at full mana, and while this one group of monsters is easy enough to handle (Jessica even snarls with undeniable hubris, "You could attack us with a thousand monsters and it wouldn't matter, [Xeboobia]!"), Xeboobia keeps summoning new waves, hoping to overwhelm Alex with force, and mohawks. As Xeboobia summons round three of the mohawks, and fools are about to be pitied, Kyle says through gritted teeth that they can't keep this up. Xeboobia, again with the hubris, says pointedly that one more wave of monsters should do them in. Then, all of a sudden, volleys of the biggest arrows I've ever seen fly in from the east, wiping out Xeboobia's minions. They're, like, javelins. Instead of dealing with these interlopers and then finishing Alex off with her apparently inexhaustible supply of demons, Xeboobia opts to punt this time and teleports out of there. Whatever, lady.

As for said interlopers, I expect to see someone operating a giant wooden siege weapon, given what we've seen. But no! The camera pans right to show a man and woman on horseback at the top of the canyon. To pad out the anime running time total, a cutscene shows us these two in more detail. They're...well, they're basically Alex and Gams. Fauxlex has brown eyes, not green, underneath more severe eyebrows, and he's wearing a fur-lined tunic, tribal headband, and side braids like some white girl dipshit dressing as Slutty Sacagawea for Halloween, but otherwise he's a dead ringer. He's also holding a plain recurve bow in one hand, because that makes all the sense. Pseudogams is dressed in a tailored red jacket and white riding pants, like she came straight here from the Southampton Dressage Club. Though her only real similarity to Gams is the hair color--she's clearly older and seems much more self-assured than Gams--it's beyond obvious who these two are supposed to resemble. They say nothing, except for grunting "Hyah!" at their horses to spur them away. Which is fine, since it's not like Alex and company would be able to hear them at this distance anyway.

A jaunty western theme kicks in as our heroes gawk at their saviors. "They hit the Vile Tribe with their arrows from that great a distance?" Kyle wonders. "Do any of you realize how incredible that is?!" The word I'd opt for is "improbable," Kyle, but I hear you. Jess only wonders why they left without saying hi, when they were like a mile away and on top of the cliffs. It would probably take them an hour to get within shouting distance of each other. But no, Jess, you're right, that is so weird. Alex only has ellipses to contribute, which I am taking to be a diffident shrug on his part, so with that diffident shrug he walks out of the canyon, directly into the next village.

'Hey, fuck you, it's HARD to come up with new character designs.'

The village Walmart greeter--and he even calls himself the village greeter--tells the group they've just entered Tamur, on the edge of the Frontier. Except he also uses words like "howdy-do" and tries way too hard to convey how folksy and friendly the place is. Just in case that's not enough to set the tone, the village is surrounded by a wooden log wall and most of the houses have taxidermy-heavy décor and furniture it would be polite to refer to as rustic. At least the sprite animation limitations keep the town NPCs from sitting on their porches and whittling.

Lady, stop giving them ideas.

Thankfully, though this is another Town with a Theme, Alex isn't quite as bludgeoned to near death with it as he has been previously. For the most part, the citizens of Tamur are normal, and not narcissistic inbred engineer thieves, though they are unified by a general nervousness about living near the Frontier and the Vile Tribe, and some of them want to get the fuck out of Dodge. It turns out, the only person in town really embracing the frontier spirit is an old man Alex finds lurking between two buildings. He shares a sprite model with Dross, and exposes himself as a traveling snake oil salesman by asking, "Hey, kids...wanna go around town and tell people how my medicine cured you of leprosy? It might be more believable if one of you chops a finger off...I'll pay you for it!" He seems charming. But more on him later. For now, the kids finish up Talking to Everyone and then walk north out the town's back gate, where they are somehow surprised to run into Laike. These fucking kids.

Laike should replace his beret with a fedora.

The kids catch Laike up on what they've been up to, and everyone states a lot of the obvious, before they admit they have no goddamn idea where the Black Dragon is. "My mother once said that the lair of the Black Dragon was located on the Frontier..." Mia contributes, "and that it was guarded jealously by the Vile Tribe." I'm guessing Lemia's incorrect intel is a reference to the original SegaCD version, in which that is exactly where the Black Dragon was. Which makes no sense whatsoever, because this game's Lemia would obviously know where it lives. No matter. Laike blatantly fucking lies that he doesn't know where the Black Dragon is--more on that in a bit--but he does offer to help them find a way to fly to the Frontier, if that's what they want. "There's an old inventor named Myght who lives in this neck of the woods," he tells them. "He's a bit strange... But if you asked him, I know he could easily build a flying machine for you." Do inventors in this game create anything other than flying machines? Shouldn't someone invent the elevator, if only so someone else can pretend they did so a decade later?

Of course not. Inventors need to meet the demands of the people, which is why we see so many people in this game flying from city to city. Can't throw a rock around here without hitting a zeppelin! Laike goes on, "The only problem is that Myght isn't really a people you can't all go to see him. One of you will be more than sufficient for this job." Predictably, this one person is Alex, who is less a person and more a collection of hero tropes in a cool hat, so Myght won't mind him at all. Laike offers to accompany him as well, and the others graciously agree to hang out in Tamur and get hammered until their triumphant return. Unfortunately, this does not include Squeak, who stays glued to Alex like always. He does at least ask Laike's permission, and Laike is fine with it, though you'd think if Myght is really some kind of misanthrope, bringing annoying-ass Squeak along is about the worst thing they could do. But nobody is listening to me.

Look at this pack of goddamn liars.

Alex sees that his friends have settled into a cozy corner of the tavern--and that Nash is still muttering statements of foreshadowing like nobody can hear him--and then has Laike take him north of Tamur to Myght's Tower, an imposing structure that looks like it has a bunch of waterslides snaking in and out of it. As we'll see, that's not entirely inaccurate. A blue-haired elf of some kind is guarding the door leading upstairs, but recognizes Laike and tells him to go right in. His only warning is that Myght's "pungency warning is in the red"--he says nothing about the ridiculous lengths Alex and Laike will have to go to in order to experience his odor for themselves.

Through the door, Alex finds himself in a room with four other doorways, each labeled with symbols: a moon, a star, a sun, and a planet. Unless Alex enters the doors in a specific order, he will loop back to this room indefinitely. He also finds this notice tacked to the wall: "Intruders, GO AWAY! Beware of the cranky, stinky, rude genius within." It also rather snarkily has a space for the password for invited visitors, which Squeak notes is blank. Jesus, he hates people and smells bad, I think we've got the message. And it's not even interesting enough in the first place to bear repeating. Alex was hoping the note would help him figure out these fucking doors, but the game basically laughs and tells him tough titties. It turns out he must enter the planet door, followed by the star, sun, and moon, but I only know this because of the strategy guide. (The moon door being last is obvious, given that it's on the northern wall and Alex logically has to go up eventually, but the rest of the order doesn't follow any internal logic that I can see.) Given that the game and the guide were written by basically the same group of neckbeards, would it have killed them to put this in the fucking game somewhere? They may as well have charged an extra 15 dollars for the game up front and baked the guide into it.

And if this silly puzzle isn't enough for Alex to hate Myght and Working Designs with a burning red passion represented by his furry Dragonmaster hat, when he and Laike go through the moon door, they find themselves in a maze of giant pipes and corrugated metal flooring. It's like Myght lives inside World 7 of Mario 3. This room goes up four stories and is jammed with pipes and walkways, with two one-way elevators taking Alex up or down each side. The door leading to Myght himself, I puzzle out after staring at the labyrinthine mess of maps in the guide, is the left-most pipe on the third level. But the pipes are only accessible by the walkways, and not all the walkways connect to each other or to the elevator landings, so it's of course not as easy as just going straight to that door. Also, there's a bunch of treasure that Alex would hate to miss, because hermits are totally known for leaving helpful items in chests for the people they're avoiding. Also also, there are monsters in the pipes along with the treasure, because geniuses frequently live in monster-infested sewage treatment plants.

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