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  -Part 1 :: [02.22.03]
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  -Part 8 :: [08.28.11]
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  -Part 11 :: [11.24.14]

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"A comical, jazzy tune is playing in the background as Momo (I'm sick of playing dumb about her goddamn name) ummms and ahhhhs over her experiment. 'I guess the key lies in somehow stabilizing the pure [crack]...' she mutters. Ah, it's that kind of 'experiment'."
     -Ben, Breath of Fire III Part 4

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Lunar: Silver Star Story : Part 8
By Sam
Posted 08.28.11
Pg. 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5
When we last checked in with Alex on his quest to earn a sweet earflap hat, Ghaleon finally took Alex's beard off his hands, allowing him to head up to Dyne's Monument with a shovel and dig up the Dragonmaster corpse bride of his dreams. I mean, the evil Magic Emperor kidnapped poor Gams, and now Alex must become a Dragonmaster to save his true love! Whichever version you prefer, Alex just finished herding his friends into an adventurous conga line so they can visit the Red Dragon in the Marius Zone, south of Nanza.

But first, Alex teleports to the Shrine of Foreshadowing, as he needs to collect some softcore porn he missed last time. Yes, there are more important things to worry about right now, but if these boys can't collect pictures of their scantily clad lady friends to stare at in horror and confusion totally pleasure themselves to, then the Magic Emperor has already won. The owner of this particular piece is one of Jessica's creepy classmates at the Shrine. "Jessica!" she cries when she sees the group. "I'm going to cast a spell on you to make you stay here with me!" Jessica replies, "I'm not gonna tell you again, lady...I do NOT have a sister!!" I was just about to make a Single White Female reference and say something about throwing a puppy out of a window, but it occurred to me that there could be legal adults reading this who were born after that movie came out. Sigh. After Kyle wisecracks that Jessica is too much of a princess to be anything but an only child (true), her "sister" says, "All I had to remind me of you while you were gone was this..." Jessica is mortified and yanks the picture out of her hands. Magically, this lands in Alex's inventory as Jess's Bromide 1, so I guess Jessica is fine with Alex ogling her. "You stole this from my room..." Jessica snarls with her Rawr I'm a Kitty face, "probably to be the centerpiece of your shrine!" Sissy-poo corrects her that it's an altar, not a shrine, so there. The picture is fairly tame compared to Jessica's last bromide--this one shows her pulling on a shift and staring at herself in a mirror. Beyond exposing Jessica as Lunar's Queen of Camwhores--"This picture is so spontaneous! I'm not even looking at the camera! Tee hee!"--I have to wonder why she kept a "candid" solo picture of herself in her room. Who does that?

Nice Kaboodle cosmetics kit, Jess.

Okay, now the boys can wank in peace, I suppose, so it's back to Nanza. The party leaves through the southern exit, which opens into another mountain pass. Like the western pass to Lann, this area is inhabited by both monsters and employees of Kyle's who exposit at length about everything from Kyle's Robin Hood status to Jessica's bitchy high-maintenance girlfriend status. One man in a Captain America getup drops an anvil on Alex's head about the "wisest man in the world," named Damon, who lives in a tower south of here. I'm sure it won't come up again. An elderly man mentions a huge volcano in the same general area. While this is of course where the Red Dragon lives, this guy is more interested in the nearby hot springs. He naturally wants to soak in them to soothe his arthritic joints, certainly not to scope out young, nubile naked bodies. After finding two treasure chests at a dead end--one of which is another goddamn locked red chest--Alex exits south to the world map.

The Marius Zone is frustratingly large. In addition to the aforementioned tower home of Damon, there are no less than three villages spread out across the area. And that volcano where the Red Dragon lives? It's on the other side of a large, impassable mesa. Alex stares longingly for a few moments before randomly entering the closest town to Nanza Pass, a Stonehenge-like circle of buildings called Reza.

Even though there was no hint at any point that it is necessary to visit Reza in order to advance the plot, that is exactly what happens. I guess "geographical proximity" will have to do. Alex and the gang don't even have to enter the town's walls to find NPCs willing to smack them in the face with the This Town Has a Theme Hammer: Reza is the home of the Thieves' Guild. Every last NPC in Reza discusses stealing, seeking refuge in Reza because of stealing, or awesome things they have stolen. If you guessed that this means something of value is about to be stolen from our heroes, then you win a gold star, only to have it stolen by a member of the Thieves' Guild.

What a lady.

Sure enough, as soon as Alex leads the conga line past Reza's Althena statue, a gray-haired sprite bumps a little too hard into Squeak, mumbles an apology, and dashes off. Kyle, a lawless brigand himself, immediately knows what's up and asks if Squeak is missing anything. And look at that! The White Dragon Wings are gone. Son of a bitch! Why couldn't the thief have stolen a bromide or a sword or Alex's stupid fucking ocarina? It just had to be the amazing magical object that allows me to avoid walking all over creation. Fuckity fuck! Kyle helpfully says, "Well, you just learned the only real downer to this place... It's a den of thieves! There are so many of 'em, they've even formed a Guild." He even adds, "Watch your valuables. This place can get a little...rough..." Jessica points out for me that this information would have been much more helpful before Squeak got mugged. Well, not really, since you can hardly walk five feet in this town without someone talking about the Thieves' Guild.

There's nothing for it but to start searching Reza for the thief. I'm sure that's going to go great. Of course, this is just a slightly more focused version of Talk to Everyone. Among the hot conversational topics in Reza: the town to the south, Iluk, is full of creepy nerds; the town to the east, Meryod, is full of inbred tardbillies; and hey guys, did you know Reza is full of thieves? One thing not mentioned, maybe because Reza's kleptomaniac population has become densensitized to it, is the infuriatingly annoying background music. It's a snazzy little MIDI horns tune, and it's not even so bad, the first hundred or so times. Problem is, the midi loop restarts every time Alex enters or leaves a building, so the obnoxious opening strains get played over, and over, and over. It makes me want to find one of the guys who played trumpet in my high school's band and bludgeon him to death with his own instrument.

This issue with the music would be bad enough in a normal town, but, as one NPC tells our teenage adventurers, the layout of Reza is also intentionally confusing, the better to let all these thieves hide themselves and their stolen goods, after all. So by my count, there are approximately eight million doors in Reza, and most of the doors and corridors either dump our heroes back outside the city walls or loop back in on themselves, and fucking all of them restart the Reza Jazzy Horns Theme that is probably playing in hell right now. And just to fuck with my head, it's not even necessary to navigate this labyrinthine mess of doors--to advance the "chase," all Alex has to do is wander into the bar right in the middle of town. But to make up for this unexpected simplicity, the quest Alex is about to take on is staggering in its unnecessary length and complexity. This almost makes me feel better about wandering around Reza for 20 minutes and finally puncturing my own eardrums with a ballpoint.

Shut the fuck up, Squeak. This is all your fault.

Inside the bar, Alex runs into none other than his old buddy Laike, whom he last saw in Burg. Now, given that a day hasn't even passed since Ghaleon's "coming-out party" (hee hee!), and that Alex had the White Dragon Wings to teleport him everywhere while all Laike had was a pair of boots and his charm (and that ass), I have no idea how Laike could be sitting here right now. He can't even be a wizard, because he doesn't have any magic points.

Before Alex approaches Laike and the bartender, he orders some expository apps for the table: from the mozzarella sticks, he learns that the bartender is actually the leader of the Thieves' Guild; from the lettuce wraps, that said leader/bartender has one weakness in his spoiled granddaughter, Lily; and from the loaded potato skins, that Lily is shut up in her room, terrified that she is going to be kidnapped by the Vile Tribe because she's a singer. One drunken asshole nearby slurs at them, "Lily should be standin' on thad table right now and singing her dear liddle heart out!" Yeah, Lily is around nine years old, so that is gross. Once the party has had its fill of tapas, Alex bellies up to the bar and speaks with the bartender. Of course, the bartender addresses Kyle, because they are both criminals and therefore must be friends. Kyle explains the situation and asks what they can do to get the White Dragon Wings back. "That's a shame, Kyle..." the bartender replies. "But complaining about thievery in Reza is like whining about wuss magicians in [Vein], you know?" Nash goes "Hey!" at this and I giggle a little. Anyway, the bartender says there's nothing he can do about it, unless one of them were to join the Thieves' Guild, since stealing from fellow members is against the rules. Or, I dunno, they could find this motherfucker and tell him he has the honor to return what he stole from the future Dragonmaster and savior of the goddamn planet. But no, that's stupid--much easier to waste time joining a cabal of thieves. It's not like they have anywhere else to be.

The bartender explains that one must pass a trial to join his guild. "Your thieving skills have to be tested by one of the Guild elite," he says to Kyle, since Kyle is obviously the one who will actually be handling this shit, as his younger companions are goody two-shoes that only drink milk and go to bed by 9 p.m. "He can be found working in Meryod this week... Finding him is also part of the test!" Oh, dandy. If finding this guy is part of the trial, but the party is being told straight up where he is, this must mean actually getting to Meryod is a gigantic pain in the ass. Jessica immediately exclaims that Meryod is "practically in the Stadius Zone" and that they might be too shitty to even get there. But even after hearing all this, our heroes decide that this is the only way to get the Wings back. I'm not sure when they all turned into Quakers and kicking the thief's ass became forbidden by their religion, but that's the explanation I'm going with so we can move on.

Well, Nash is already living with that.

Before they go on their mission to get Kyle unionized, Alex speaks with Laike. "Ho, ho, ho! Hello, Alex!" Laike guffaws like an evil, black-bearded Santa Claus. "I wouldn't have expected to see you in a place like this!" Ditto, old man. It's not helping my resolve to not think about how Laike got here so fast when he draws attention to it. "There are a lot of thieves in Reza..." he adds, not realizing it's the most pointlessly obvious statement ever made, "make sure you keep a firm grip on your possessions!" When he finds out that Squeak has already failed to follow this advice, he chuckles some more. I'm sure it wouldn't be so funny if he knew what had been stolen, but nobody bothers mentioning it, even though Laike is the one who gave them the Wings in the first place. Changing the subject, Laike says, "Alex, I take it you came this way to find the Red Dragon..." So Laike realizes why Alex is there, but thought this was the last place he would turn up. Logical. "But the only way to get there is by flying over the mountains. So what are you going to do?" Alex doesn't respond because his tongue was ripped out by Gams one day when he accidentally said she did look kind of fat in that dress, but Laike gathers from Squeak that they have no current means of transport, and are too busy getting back the Wings in the most roundabout way possible to think about it just yet. Nonetheless, he says, "I've heard that there are flying machines you could use to reach the Cave... But I don't know where to look for them! Ho, ho, ho!" If Laike really wanted to be a pal here, he'd make use of his considerable contacts and find out more about these flying machines while these idiots go on a walkabout to Meryod. Of course, he's not going to do that.

After buying some new arms and armor at the overpriced Reza shops--and that's a kick in the teeth, when it's not like they even paid for their fucking merchandise--the party leaves town and treks across the Marius Zone toward Meryod. As Jessica indicated earlier, it's a bit of a walk, sitting past a patch of forest on the eastern edge of the zone. Before entering that forest, though, the kids make a pit stop at a lovely marble fountain on the world map, just to the southeast.

The heroes of Suikoden are so sad they aren't in this game.

Off the world map, the fountain turns out to be a large hot spring, complete with palm trees and relaxing music. "This is the spring of the Goddess Althena," the attendant tells them. "If you enter its soothing waters, you can purify your soul. Do you wish to?" Well, put like that, how can they say no? Though I do wonder how soaping up in Althena's hot spring better purifies the soul than groping one of her many statues. When they agree to get naked together, however, the attendant tells them the catch: "As you must know, springs where the two sexes bathe together are not permitted. In light of that, it is now necessary to inform you that this is a spring for males only. Your female companions may wait over there...or seek out the springs designated for them." Oh, I'm sure the boys are just crestfallen. I mean, Nash forgot his bottle of magic bubble bath (in Ghaleon's favorite jasmine scent) back in Vein, and that's the greatest tragedy of all.

It costs one bar of soap for the boys to take one bath, and yes, that means they're all sharing. Hot. Each bath treats me to one random anime scene. The first one opens on Kyle's ass, cruelly blurred out by the Evil PR Team. He flexes for the camera and grunts as Squeak sits on his shoulder. No, really. Alex and Nash are behind him, their groins covered in tiny white towels. Nash is humming a little tune to himself as he washes his hair--it could very well be "I Feel Pretty" but it's hard to tell from only a few bars. And since Kyle's ass is facing the camera, Alex is getting a nice view of his helicopter dick. Impressive!

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