Monday, 4 November 2013


  I have achieved something near monumental today … no, not in Rune Factory 4!  Who would want me to return to that project?  Instead it is Animal Crossing: New Leaf, the game no one can ever leave.  After months of spending all of my bells to upgrade my town to perfect status, spending on scores of unwanted clothes to satisfy giraffish fashionistas, and regularly gifting every citizen in town with the surplus useless furnishings in a vain attempt to ingratiate them for their pictures, I now have all but one room upgrade.  I am a mere 598 000 bells away from having a full size house.  That I can’t live in.  What do you think of my priorities now?

  I haven’t let myself get too rushed.  AC is a lifelong game, so it seems.  One game I sure hope doesn’t take forever is Rune Factory 4.  Sorry, is that not how you guys wanted that to go down?  Rune Factory is leaving me with some troubles, and I’m starting to really resent the arbitrary locked state of its every opportunity.  But I paid full price on it, so, yeah, I’m stuck and I better make the most of it.  It’s like I’m six again (*smile*smile*)!

  I’m going to go a little out of order to outline this issue.  While I charged headlong into the adventure, I quickly found my every effort stymied by constant defeat.  I was still using level 1 gear after all, and it has taken me a while to grasp the complicated upgrade system.  The most in demand resource is lumber, which is at once easy and and painful to obtain.  Farmland left fallow collects debris, typically weeds and dead grasses, but sometimes useful things like iron clumps and sticks.  Large areas of fallow land can collect dead tree stumps, and sometimes whole live ones (…? How does that work?).  This remains the easiest way to find lumber.  Random drops from enemies and on the path feel tedious as ever (I hate random drops from enemies!)

  Managing fields to keep some fallow and others harvestable is a skill that I’m still working to perfect.  It helps that there is another field outside town, just to the south and west.  Every day I wake Lest and harvest the main field, then trek out of town to harvest the other.  The main field has crops (presently) while the field to the south has rocks, iron, and lumber.  The lumber I can obtain in this way is a pittance, only a few a day, and everything in town needs 30 lumber to build.

  Just as I come to my first 30 lumber, I resolve to build a forge and put some of these extra iron lumps to work for me.  I’ll need another 30 lumber for my fridge: that doesn’t even make sense – pre plastic age fridges were stainless steel furniture.  Sadly, I can’t reason with the game, which is terribly counter-intuitive at the best of times.  Lumber it is, no matter how slow it is to get more. 

  Forging, at least, is a lost less trying.  Lest cannot even purchase a forge until he passes a three question quiz.  Passing gives him his forging license; failure would send him back to school, assuming there was such a thing.  It would be nice is Bado, or any other NPC really, bother to teach anything about forging, but at least once its begun it is blessedly simple.  Lest can forge weapons, tools, or upgrade an existing weapon/tool.  Just for kicks, I forged one again of every tool that Lest currently has.  I spent my entire collection of iron and scrap metal and upgraded every tool I could to level 10, the arbitrary level where they cannot be upgraded further.  Barrett is a traveler who helpfully reminds Lest the materials used in reforging tools and weapons; his announcement may hint at the final trick:

  Weapons forged and upgraded with better metals should be of better quality.  Everything I have still says “Poor …” so I helped myself to forging with iron and scrap, and built up over 15 blacksmithing levels in no time.  The other trick of forging is the cost to the rune points; when gone, Lest is exhausted and vulnerable.  I’ve found a Heal spell (spend RP to recover HP), but I’ve yet to find a potion that can recover RP properly.  While the Fridge has priority, I can sense that I need a Potion lab soon!

  I know that I’m barely scratching the surface here, but again, I’m resenting the arbitrary limit.  There just isn’t that much in the way of harvestable lumber about, and that means that I need to slow down and take my time, no matter what urgent case is rocking Selphia.  And now back to our regularly scheduled beat down…
Ghost sightings abound throughout Selphia, sending shivers down poor Forte’s spine.  After a short bit of furtive running around, the ghost stops to confront Lest at the town gates.  It introduces itself (herself) as Pico, and mutters impatiently about what is taking Lest so long to save “her.”  With precious little time taken to explain anything, Pico is off like a shoot, announcing that she will be waiting for Lest where the bridge used to stand.

  That bridge is long gone, its remnants tumbled to sheer cliffs to the south and west of the gates (and the farm land outside the gates).  New tools, such as the hammer, permit Lest to crumble barriers and clear paths to it, but his own skills would be useless for getting across this obstacle.  Volkanon to the rescue then, as he appears right behind Lest and sets himself to work rebuilding the bridge.  This guy is scary effective, and his skills put mine to right miserable shame.  Like the fishing competition!  Why do they need me again?

  Across the bridge, Pico is as impatient and talkative as ever.  What does she know of Lest, and why has she been looking for him?  What did she mean by claiming that he (I) was taking too long?  Tough question, and the only answers come by chasing after her.  I was smart enough to replenish my potion supply, but I really should have taken the opportunity to run back to town and drop off the goodies.  I left a lot of nice things behind!

  Pico beelines for a mansion in the woods, run down and decrepit.  As Lest ambles after, he no sooner enters, but is trapped.  Typical!  Aside from a few tricks, the mansion is more or less a straight run back to the east.  Monsters within a tough though, and advancing is a test of endurance, doubly so as most of the doors forward are blocked by visible shield walls that are only cleared by killing all of the enemies. 
The boss at the end is Marionetta, a demonic doll with a host of powers to make Lest’s life difficult for him.  Pico is cornered only so long as to explain that she has fetched Lest to save her friend Dolce, and everyone, down to Lest himself, are no familiar with how this must mean he is in for a fight.  Range is a non-factor for Marionetta, so hanging back and blasting with runes is a non-starter for strategy.  Better to get up close and personal with a favorite melee weapon, and then run away before Marionetta prepares a counter.  The doll also has a favorite tactic of flinging herself bodily at Lest, and if she scores a hit than she can rack up a good number of combos.  Good armor helps, but staying out of Marionetta’s clutches is vital!  I burned through my healing items several times!

  With Marionetta’s strings cut, Dolce takes shape once more and collapses, and Lest and Pico carry her south out the door and into the light.  There is yet no explanation forthcoming, not until Dolce awakens anyway, so Lest is left puzzling many things.  Who are these people who are monsters, anyway?  Just outside, Volkanon has been busy, and has built a staircase down from the door in the Obsidian mansion … to the fishing hole just outside Selphia, the very spot where Amber has placed her pinched flowers.  In the moment I suppressed a cry: I’ve gone a long way to a place quite close as to be convenient going forward.  I was exhausted by this long trip to nowhere, and was pleased enough not to have to go back the way that I came.

  Dolce takes up residence in the Little Bandage clinic with Dr. Jones and Nancy.  And like Dylas before her, she ends up in Ventuswill’s chamber.  But this time, Pico’s presence gives Lest a chance to do some eaves dropping, and explanations are finally forthcoming.  Next week.

  Happy (delayed) Halloween everybody!

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