DQII #5: Exploring Alefgard

We have a ship! The world is now ours to explore.

The music that plays when you’re on the ship makes me feel like you’re dancing across the water. Unfortunately, the reality is more like you leisurely chug along because, unlike Final Fantasy, you don’t travel any faster on the boat. However, you can dock it anywhere you can access land and it’ll magically follow you when you cast Return.1

Since these are royal children we explore in baby steps and sail not even an entire screen away to Alefgard.

Tantegel Castle was changed slightly from the NES version in the DQI remake. This particular remake sticks closer to the original, though. I’ve no idea why that is. Anyway, a hundred years have altered things a bit and the town of Brecconary has been folded into the castle. On the west side are the usual shops and inn.

It’s not much more to go on than we had before, but at least we know there is some indication of where the sunken treasure lies.

Of course, I already know where the spot is, which is very handy because it wasn’t very easy to spot in the remake. Though, to be fair it does actually sparkle in this version.

Back in Lianport, the man will gives us the Echoing Flute in exchange for the ship’s treasures. Because there’s no context, we can safely assume it’s important.

DQII193

The Alefgard area is definitely the best grinding spot at this point. The enemies aren’t too tough and they give decent experience and gold. There’s a save point inside the castle. And, just like in DQI, there’s a man here who will restore your magic so you don’t have to bother with an inn!

My priority at this point is to get the available upgrades from the weapon shop. I don’t bother with Roto’s equipment because (a.) I’ll be finding a new weapon soon and (b.) I got an iron helmet as a random drop.

Sailing from Tantegel Castle to Charlock Castle

After I finish grinding, we sail the short distance south to Charlock Castle.

The first floor of Charlock Castle is in ruins

Inside, Charlock looks like the first ten minutes of Flip This House. As you might expect the castle is crawling with enemies. They aren’t endgame hard this time, but they are still pretty tough for my party at this point.

The lower levels have a layout similar to that of the previous game right down to the chest with Erdrick’s Sword. How it ended up back here is anybody’s guess. After nabbing the sword I warp out to heal and save.

On my return trip I head to the bottom floor where the Dragonlord’s great-grandson is faithfully imitating his ancestor by doing a whole lot of nothing. He tells us about the five crests we will need to collect to receive the power needed to defeat Hargon. In other words: time for a fetch quest.

Map of the world

Behind a barrier on the west side of the bottom floor are a bunch of chests. There’s really nothing too important in there, though, one does have a world map. Inventory space is at a premium so I’ll toss it in the vault at the next opportunity.

Group of seven metal slimes

Back outside I head east across what I presume to be the Rainbow Bridge and run into a group of metal slimes. They beat me up quite thoroughly before all running off. What do you bet I won’t be able to find any once I have the ability to actually hit them?

The Holy Monolith is at the southern tip of this island and, proving it’s just the Southern Shrine with a cooler name, inside is a guy demanding to see Erdrick’s Token. He isn’t very friendly, but at least he doesn’t throw us out of the monolith.

  1. You can also retrieve the boat from inside Lianport where it will inexplicably always be docked.

“Tales of Xillia” Trophy Hunting

Following this incredible guide, I am 11 trophies away from obtaining the platinum for Tales of Xillia. I’ve never bothered with trophy hunting before, but even after this brief introduction I can totally see the appeal.

I’ll likely have a more detailed review of sorts posted once I’m done, but I do have a few thoughts about some of the trophies. Not to mention a few additional tips I found useful.

Specialist in Rare Monsters
Despite what the above-linked guide says, I didn’t find I had to grind many of the trophies specifically. Though I did fight every encounter in each new area, which arguably was grinding in and of itself. But this specific trophy is definitely one that requires extra effort. The monsters are called “rare” for a reason and it’s just a random chance if an encounter will appear in a zone. Also, given my poor vision I’m pretty sure I missed a lot of these because the warning symbol indicator isn’t entirely obvious to me.

However, I had 38 rare encounters after going through Jude’s side and that included all four types of bacuras. In fact, I actually ran into a rare bacura, which was quite interesting.1 Anyway, grinding this out at the SW entrance to Sapstrath Deepwood is absolutely the best method. I personally found it best to set Elize as the party leader so she’s the character on screen. She’s so short that there’s no need to move the camera around as you zone, which makes it easier and faster to check the two monsters in the area for warning icons. I think it took me about 30 minutes to get the trophy to pop.

Sadist
If this one hasn’t already popped by the time Milla has regained control of the Four Great Spirits, it is ridiculously easy to get after that. Every single cast counts so you can just spam each of the Four against enemies weak to their specific element. I didn’t have to bother, but you could set her with Minimum Damage and spam attacks to an even further degree.

Forger of Chains
Playing through the first time this was the trophy I figured I would never get. I just could not get the hang of chaining linked artes. Partly this was due to the fact I’m color blind and couldn’t tell when the gauge was full so I was never quite prepared to chain when I set off a linked arte. But mostly it was that I hadn’t really gotten a good grasp on the combat system.

Anyway, going through the game again I have a much better understanding and actually I found that an even easier way to set up chains is to use the Right Stick rather than the guide’s suggestion of the normal Left Stick settings. This way you only have to move the stick to activate another linked arte, which alleviates one entire button press. Plus Jude and Milla have so many linked artes you can easily set 8 and not overlap on any others you have set as your regular attacks on the Left Stick and risk breaking your chain. Also, the guide doesn’t mention it, but having the Extended Window or Casting Window skill is also handy because it gives you a bit of extra time to set off a linked arte and initially begin a chain.

I also found it advantageous when building up the link gauge to have a partner whose skill related to the enemies.2 For instance, when fighting enemies that knock you down a lot I would link with Jude who would constantly Restore me back to my feet. Whenever my gauge was full I’d start the next battle, link Jude and Milla and just spam a link chain until it ended. Unfortunately, most of the time outside of boss battles, I find that you often can’t get a good chain off before the battle ends. I think the most I ever got outside bosses was four or five and those were mostly in the later areas. But going through Jude’s side with this strategy I had the trophy pop before I cleared the game.

Snap Pivot Adept
In my first playthrough of the game I only managed to activate Snap Pivot five times and I didn’t even know what I’d done! I practiced a bunch on that clear file before starting a new file for trophy hunting and while I agree this is one that is best left grinded out, I personally think it’s worth doing during Chapter 2 rather than saving for endgame or NG+.

Near the start of Chapter 2 you’ll have control of Jude regardless of which side you’re playing. There’s a scripted event against one of those boar enemies mentioned in the guide and since Jude is fighting solo you don’t have to worry about setting Strategy or anything. Granted I didn’t have to grind the entire 150 in that fight.3 It’s a great time to practice, in my opinion, because Snap Pivot is really helpful for the following boss fight.

Oh, and if you have the Cross Counter skill, you’ll want to take that off so Jude doesn’t end up killing the boar just by defending.

Career Thief
The guide makes Item Steal out to be one of the easier partner skills to do, but I had the hardest time getting this trophy. In fact, it was the only one of the partner skills I actively had to grind out. I partnered with Leia for over an hour in total, knocking enemies over and rather than steal she’d attack or run off and cast something or just randomly do anything except steal despite what I set in the Strategy. It was truly frustrating, which is saying a lot since working on Elongated Staff was also pretty awful.

  1. It still only counts as one encounter, unfortunately.
  2. The gauge fills incrementally by using linked artes or when a partner skill is activated.
  3. I think I was about 1/3 through already since I’d been trying to practice now and again during random encounters.

DQII #4: Channel Crossing

Grinding around Hamlin, I get Maria a few levels fairly quickly. At level 4 she learns Woosh Infernos and can actually contribute to the party’s offense.

We head east to the Tower of Wind where the Cloak of Wind is rumored to be hidden. Inside the dungeon a man warns about falling off the edge. More about that in a bit.

I really love Sugiyama’s work on the DQ games, but this is not one of my favorites. It’s a fine piece of music in its own right. It just did its job too well for me when I was a kid, making me feel every step I took was perilous. I don’t find it as unnerving now, but I also think the enhanced version in the remake isn’t quite as severe.

There’s not much to the tower. The Cloak of Wind is here, as previously mentioned, and there’s a chest with a wizard’s ring in the remake. The enemies are a bit tougher than those outside, but they aren’t exactly challenging. It’s a deceptively tame dungeon if you don’t know what’s to come later.

The party was warned about accidentally falling off the edge earlier, but intentionally leaping off the tower is another matter. Despite the height, we land safely back outside the tower on the overworld. Since Kain hasn’t learned Outside yet this serves as a handy way to quickly exit the dungeon and it’s a mechanic used throughout the series.

To the west of Moonbrooke is a monolith. Inside is a guy who seems in awe of my party . . . and also a bridge across the channel. Where did that come from?

The first encounter I had on the other side of the channel had a metal slime in it. Maria took out the rats with Infernos and Roto scored a critical on the slime before it had a chance to run off. Woot! Level ups for everyone!

On the overworld, outside the southern Dragon's Horn Tower

Further northwest is another channel with a tower on each side. Inside a man provides a cryptic hint about the connection between the two towers.

There’s no random bridge this time. Instead, there is a section of wall missing and it just so happens we have the Cloak of Wind, which rumor says will allow its wearer to soar. And so as before, leaping off the edge is harmless, but with the cloak equipped we gain a bit of distance and make it across the channel. Personally, it seems like an awkward means of transportation, but it does provide access to a whole new area to explore.

On the northern side of the channel, the party finds the town of Lianport.

Even in medieval fantasy, men are pigs.

A Lianport woman asks: "Don't you think I'm cute? Do you want a puff puff?"

Hey, it’s the puff puff girl again.

There’s no subtlety here about the next major destination; almost everyone tells us about Alefgard across the eastern sea. Lucky for us we happen to be in a port town with a ship at the dock. The nearby old man, however, won’t let a random group of strangers take it. Royal status doesn’t seem to get you anywhere in DQII.

Approaching the northwest corner of town, a little girl comes running over to the party. In hot pursuit are two gremlins who demand we hand her over.

Okay, here’s where not referencing a guide could have been a bad idea. I didn’t remember the exchange above triggered a fight and I hadn’t rested after going through the tower and traveling to town. Anyway, despite not being full on health or magic, it wasn’t difficult. Since they’re a group, Maria’s Infernos spell can hit them both and it does a fair amount of damage.

Turns out the old man by the port is the little girl’s grandfather. He’s so overjoyed at her rescue that he hands over the ship. He then tells us we can sail wherever we want. Because I guess we must be dumbfounded by his generosity or we’re so travel worn he thought we might pawn it.

Before venturing out into the vast world now accessible with the ship, we head just around the corner from the dock to a locked door in town. The man inside tells us about the sunken treasures. He reminds of the man in Garinham who said Gwaelin was to the east because seriously there is a lot of sea in the world.

DQII #3: Princess of Moonbrooke

Now that I have one, let’s talk a bit about party members. In DQI your stats were determined by your name. but in this game stat growth is fixed. However, your name choice does influence the names of your party members. There isn’t quite a class system, but everyone has their own set of abilities. For instance, Prince Kain has the Heal spell while Roto has no magic whatsoever. The differences become more pronounced as you level. In fact, even the experience to level up is different for each party member.

Anyway, it doesn’t take all that long to grind Kain up a few levels. At first I just have him Defend on his turn because he’s pretty squishy. Plus, until he gets Fireball his attack is so low it’s pointless to use.

Another new feature of DQII: enemies now drop items. Honestly, I was surprised it took this long to happen for the first time. Maybe it’s the remake.

Obtaining the silver key from the Lake Cave

Kain was level 6 by the time I had amassed enough gold to deck everyone out in the best available equipment. After that I headed over to the Lake Cave to snag the Silver Key.

Battle with three drakees in two different groups

While backtracking to open all the silver doors, I finally ran into an encounter that showcased groups. Up to this point all the groups I’d run into were made up entirely of the same enemy or groups of different enemies. However, while groups always will be the same enemy, said enemies aren’t always in groups like the drakees in the screenshot. This really only matters when it comes to spells, which have three ways of targeting: single, all, and group. How a spell only can hit a group is beyond me, but it’s a mechanic that’s still around in DQ games.

The NES version didn’t have an auto-target feature, so if you had selected to attack an enemy that was subsequently killed you would waste the attack.1 Unless it was within a group because when you target a group, you actually target a random enemy within the group. The remake has added the auto-target feature, which is very much welcomed.

The guards no longer block the way

Now that Kain is in my party the guards at the monolith move out of the way. To the south, as the guard notes, is the town of Hamlin. As usual the citizens drop lots of random clues.

Here I thought it was weird to dream of obtaining magic keys.

If you talk to it, the dog will follow you until you exit the town. Interesting.

I was about three tiles from Hamlin en route to Moonbrooke when I ran into this encounter. Even by NES standards, DQII is hard and much of it has to do with enemies like these baboons. Despite being within the level range of enemies the party should be fighting, the baboons hit very hard. And, unfortunately, running from battles isn’t very reliable. So, it’s pretty easy to get completely wiped out by these types of monsters.

In fact, they beat Roto to death2 and I had to go utilize the church to bring him back. It’s fairly cheap at this point, but the “donation” required is dependent on level. Like the newer DQ games, the remake uses coffins to denote dead party members, while the NES censored this and turned them into ghosts.

Moonbrooke Castle is in ruins after the massive attack and somehow is now surrounded by a poisonous swamp. Inside are various spirits of the former inhabitants, including the king, and a pretty huge encounter rate with enemies. Talking with the various Eyes of Sauron, the party learns the princess has been turned into a dog and the Mirror of Ra is needed to break the curse.

Obtaining the Mirror of Ra

I’ll never understand why important items in DQ games are buried in swamps. At least this one is small and doesn’t require a whole other item to aid in searching it.

Back in Hamlin, Roto uses the Mirror of Ra on the dog who turns into Princess Maria.

Like Kain, Maria starts at level 1. Unfortunately, there’s no equipment currently available for her because she’s a mage and DQII is hard like that. Needless to say she will only ever Defend while grinding her up.

  1. Final Fantasy had a similar issue.
  2. First death of Project DQ.

Computer Woes

I suppose having gone through three different hard drives in the last year I should be glad I’m not having that issue currently. However, I’d almost prefer it to the nightmare issue I am having. In short, I have to replace the logic board, which is kind of irritating because the issue itself isn’t the logic board. Rather it’s the Bluetooth, but since it’s soldered onto the logic board the entire thing has to be replaced.

Actually, I think this problem has been going on since my hard drive died last summer. I just thought the issue I was having was solely related to the dead drive, but was in fact a separate issue that merely alerted me to the dead drive. I’m just lucky that way.

At least it’s under warranty. If I had to foot the bill for a new logic board, I’d probably cry.