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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 next room must connect to the intricate waterway system, as it contains the same barred openings and about six or so feet of water. Naggy gives Twink a lesson in diving -- again ignoring the giant green button with the word 'Dive' on it."
     -Jeanne, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Part 1

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Lunar: Silver Star Story : Part 9
By Sam
Posted 05.17.13
Pg. 1 : 2 : 3
On the last leg of Alex's Path to the Dragonmaster's Glory Hole, he and the gang went on the most pointless and spiritually unsatisfying walkabout ever, as they wore out their boots and my patience all over the Marius Zone. But now, finally, they have a lead on getting to the Red Dragon Cave, and are set to head south to the village of Iluk.

This guy's prior customers? The cast of The Americans.

But Alex has already punted on that particular goal for several hours, so what's a few more minutes? First, he needs to use his new Thieves' Crest to find all those godforsaken red chests and plunder them like a Dragonmaster's grave. The first one is right here in Reza, behind some barrels on the edge of town, and contains another precious Silver Light. But doesn't every member of the Thieves' Guild have one of these crests with the lockpicking instructions on it? How could this chest possibly sit out in the open for more than ten minutes without anyone opening it? Why would anyone in this town even bother? I have a headache already.

Looting the remaining red chests is tedious and not even a little bit interesting, but the Working Designs guide provides a helpful and concise list of all their locations so Alex is not left relying on my leaky memory of where they all were. So that's something. A few locations are kind of a pain to reach, even with the White Dragon Wings, and Alex has to waste everyone's time backtracking through Meribia's sewers, Vein's Cave of Trial, and Meryod Fucking Forest. But the most annoying red chest happens to be the second, which Alex finds in Ram-It's bedroom back in Burg. Not only does he have to go into Ram-It's bedroom, a place no one ever wants to be, but the chest contains a Garbage Can Lid. Not that I expected Ram-It to possess anything of actual value, but given that these things couldn't be opened until now, a fucking Healing Nut or something even marginally useful would have been nice. Then again, it could have contained Ram-It's Bromides 1-4, and then the future Dragonmaster would have had to gouge his own eyes out.

Armed with their well-earned treasure--mostly Silver Lights--the kids teleport back to Reza and make the short trip south to Iluk, a tiny village on a peninsula. This town, too, has a Walmart greeter, intent on making the case for this town being the one sane, non-shitty slice of civilization in the Marius Zone. Of course, her message that Iluk is not stuffed with "a buncha fruitcakes" is slightly undercut when she asks, "Have you ever tried to swim in lemon jello? It's actually quite refreshing!" Alex is quite perturbed by this--after all, she actually said the word jello, and not "gelatin dessert"! Is she going to have to pay a royalty for that? Does she even care? Crazy old bat.

The Walmart greeter is standing next to the item shop, which the proprietor tells them he only opened so the locals could stay as close to their mom's basements as possible while still maintaining their Hot Pockets and Mountain Dew supply. No, really. I'm pretty sure this whole town is just a set for The Big Bang Theory.

Speaking of bangs, though not the fun Dragonmaster-on-Dragonmaster kind, the kids find a little girl outside the next house who has had quite enough of her nerdy engineer brother's wacky experiments to descend to the bottom of the ocean, as well as the resulting explosions. I'm not sure what kind of diving equipment this industrious nerd is trying to create, but the little sister doesn't elaborate as she sighs, "I'd better go start gathering wood to repair the roof." Intrigued, they step inside, where they find model ships and two twin beds with cute blue fish comforters probably fresh off of Thinkgeek. But the brother, thank goodness, is not decked out in a Princess Ruto cosplay getup like I was expecting. He is standing in front of a contraption that looks like someone attached several weather balloons, or maybe large ben wa balls, to Gadget. But even more interesting is the conspicuous red lever on the wall directly in front of the door. I think most people would have a hard time resisting the allure of a conspicuous red lever, and Alex is no exception. Dr. Icthyophiliac manages to blurt out, "No, you goddamn idio--" before the whole house is rocked by a blinding explosion. Standing in the wreckage on the right side of his house, Dr. Icthyophiliac moans at them, "I was almost finished...that's why I asked you not to touch the switch...aaauuuggggghhh..." Squeak apologizes for this, so I guess it was him who could not resist the allure of that long red lever. Dr. Icthyophiliac says, "I don't have any choice but to rebuild my diving machine and come up with a different type of waterproofing!" I still don't remotely understand how such a device could be all that explosive, but I have a hippy dippy liberal arts degree, so what the fuck do I know?


Alex and pals next venture into a house in the northeast corner, and I don't even know what is going on in here. There are giant statues of hands, a green jack-o'-lantern, and a bed that's facing the wall, which might be the weirdest thing of all. Does anyone sleep that way? If you do, I'm here to tell you it's fucking bizarre and unnatural, and you should change your lifestyle to make me more comfortable. But none of this décor has shit on the obviously insane person who lives here, who is looking out a telescope when they enter. While he's still occupied, the kids spot a picture on the wall and Squeak insists he's seen the woman in it before. Mia, with her "Nash farted" face on, tells them, "It's a portrait of my mother when she first assumed command of the Magic Guild." It is left unsaid that Lemia is pictured smoking hash, with her boobs hanging out of a paisley caftan.

Just...what the fuck?

Nash calls the picture "interesting," which could mean either "I have a boner" or "Kyle, please hold me, I'm scared." I have no idea anymore. Squeak just calls Lemia "Babraham Lincoln," because of course he does. So who the hell is this wrong-sleeping creep and why does he have Lemia's Bromide 1 framed on his wall? Well, as it turns out, he is the editor-in-chief of "Hot Girl News," a fanzine that apparently exploits famous, attractive young ladies in order to provide cover to Lunar's many gay men. Larry Butz here lets them in on his latest scoop: that "the reclusive Mia Ausa has left [Vein] for the first time in her life." He moans, probably crying rivers of sparkly tears, "Do you know how much a picture of her would be worth to the publishers of 'Hot Girl News'? Well, DO YOU?" I don't know, a three-mimosa brunch and a handjob? Larry vows to track this "mysterious vixen" and take pictures of her, and maybe hand her a hand-carved clock modeled after his naked body.

Mia is like, "GET ME THE FUCK OUT OF HERE," but it's too late--Larry has realized that the famous Mia Ausa has unwittingly wandered into his den of denial. "The daughter of Lemia Ausa, the future leader of the Magic Guild, and a VERY hot girl," he creeps at her. "Would you mind if I took a few dozen pictures of you in various states of undress?" Yeah, he's so straight he wants to take some fancy boudoir photography and then not touch her at all. CHIIIIIIIIICKS.

Mia, I wouldn't worry too much.

Gay or straight, mind, this guy is a disgusting paparazzi toolbag, so Alex steers his friends out of his unsettling domicile. To the west, they come across an old man and his too-young milkmaid wife, who are experimenting with genetically modified vegetables that are, per the husband, gigantic, nutritious, and completely disgusting. "Oh, the frustration!" he wails at Alex. "Just when I finally solve the problem of size, I encounter the problem of taste!" Alex whispers to him that a healthier diet often fixes the bad taste problem. Alternately, his wife could stop complaining. I kid! More on this guy and his experiments later, though. For now, it's time to visit the final house in Iluk. Squeak takes the time to go through the occupant's shelves and make wisecracks about the poor man's auto-masturbation gadget, because HA HA NERDS, before they speak to the man, named Shira.

Shira is delighted that these kind strangers found his blueprints, but puzzled as to why a thief would want schematics for a balloon, as if wanting the White Dragon Wings or a bunch of Damon's library books made any more sense. Once he has his blueprints in hand, he tells them unnecessarily that he's an inventor, and even more unnecessarily that he's too poor to thank them properly. But since they did not come down here to return these out of the kindness of their hearts, Squeak says, "Well, we need to get over the mountains so we can find the Red Dragon Cave..." Shira is, of course, immediately confident he can get them there with his balloon. "But to make it fly," he says, "I need a fluffy bug...and the one I had escaped into the field north of here!" None of our young heroes ask, "A who in the what now?" because I guess it's common knowledge that balloons are powered by bugs. "No problem!" Jess tells him. "We'll catch the bug while you build the balloon!" I'm sure those two things will take the exact same amount of time.

Shira adds that they need to ask the botanist's permission to access the field where the fluffy bug escaped to, so they return to his underground lair. "Oh, you want to catch fluffy bugs?" he asks. "It's fine with me, children! I like to encourage interest in horticulture!" The botanist plows on before Squeak can ask if horticulture is the practice of growing Courtney Loves. "But you should be aware that we have puwa-puwa bugs out there, too, and even I can't tell them apart!" Squeak is all concerned about how they will find the right bug if this guy doesn't know the difference, as if they're not going to be distinctly labeled on the battle screen. Get your head out of your ass, Squeak.

Alex and friends wander into the backyard of Hall and Oates.

I always remember this field as a giant pain in the ass, but it's really not that bad. Obviously it's full of insects and plant monsters and everything has a poison effect, but there's nothing irritating on the scale of the monsters in Meryod Fucking Forest. What does set it apart is how eye-searingly bright the battle screen is. The neon green fields are more oversaturated than an Instagram of a teenager's sandwich, and it's actually a little hard to look at. I could fuss with the video settings and make it easier on myself, but then I wouldn't get to provide an authentic recapper experience complete with whining about dumb details.

It doesn't take long for Alex to encounter his first fluffy bug, and he immediately wonders if everyone in Iluk is an idiot. The fluffy bug, a little pink fluff cloud with bug eyes and a phallic head stalk, is surrounded by puffy bugs--or "puwa-puwa bugs" per the botanist--which are baby blue. (I have no idea why "puwa-puwa" is the one piece of Japanese left in this game. Were they too hard at work on a Steve Urkel joke and this fell through the cracks?) I know I've made fun of the palette-swapping in this game, but come on, nobody could look at these two types of bug side by side and not be able to tell them apart unless they were completely color blind. Making it even "easier," the fluffy bug runs away at the beginning of the battle, leaving only useless puffy bugs. Seriously, that botanist's special crop must have ruined his eyesight.

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