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  -Part 1 :: [07.27.03]
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"After the card is chosen, both players get a second card to add to the first. If they already add up to nine, the player gets what is called a 'Kabu' and automatically wins. And by 'the player,' I mean 'Mike.' Geddy doesn't get a Kabu, ever, because the game is designed to fuck him in the ass. With no lube."
     -Sam, Suikoden III Part 6

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Breath of Fire IV : Part 4
By Ben
Posted 02.08.04
Pg. 1 : 2 : 3
In the last episode of "Assorted asshats agitate Ben", the party met a whole bunch of moronic NPCs, became acquainted with TikTok, survived a hex, met up with Clay, and finally, all (except for TikTok -- you know, because she ISN'T NORMAL!!!!!) had a fucked-up dream in which Sandy and Ruley got jiggy behind a curtain. Well, not really, Thank God. The madness isn't over yet, however.

This recap begins on the Not!World Map, where yet another new dotted line leads to a "Dam". Well, damn (crappy pun fully intended). We fade in on a huge structure made of stone and wood, which I guess is supposed to be the dam. A river of brown stuff runs down the side of a steep incline. It's mud, but looks more like chocolate. Mmm, chocolate.

Now something really confusing happens. A brown twig-like thing with a shiny white outline floats down the river of chocolate before disappearing from view. I have no idea what it is, but I'm guessing that it's Very Important, since the camera focuses on it for about ten seconds. Maybe we'll find out what it is later...or maybe not. Hell, continuity has never been high on a Game Designer's Priorities List. The screen pans up to show Ruley, Sandy and Clay entering the area - TikTok is still with the party, but the engine will only allow three heroes in the on-screen party at one time. Unfortunately, since a cutscene is imminent, I can't yet eject the ever-useless Sandy from the party in favour of the much-cooler TikTok. Grrr.

Email me if you know what the hell this is.

"Kinda quiet 'round here..." Clay states. Well, it would be kinda quiet if it wasn't for the annoying BGM of mechanical rumblings, which gets old really fast. "Where is everybody?" he continues. Well, Clay, my guess is that everyone took off, fearing for their sanity, as soon as you and Sandy showed up. Just a recapper's hunch.

Clay goes on to drill the fact that the god-damn dam is deserted into our heads some more, by saying that he heard "there was lots of people workin' there". Okay, so people should be here, but they're not, and the odds are that they haven't just gone to the local Item Shop to buy some Antidotes. WE GET IT.

Luckily, before Clay can say anything else, speech bubbles containing huge exclamation points appear above the party's heads. We can safely assume that this means something has startled them. The something turns out to be an offscreen random stranger, who yells "Who're you? What're you doing here?" Dude, you do NOT want to start a conversation with these people. Trust me on this one. The screen pans up to show that the random NPC is a worker at the dam. Aha, maybe now we'll find out what the hell has happened to all the other workers. I don't know about the rest of you, but I simply can't sleep safely in my bed without knowing where these NPCs are.

Just what is the weird shiny twig thing that's floating away?
Exactly what it says on the tin -- a weird shiny twig thing!
One of the Mud Non-Dragon's turds.
The last shred of my sanity.
Who cares? It'll probably never be explained anyway.


Thus far, we've gone for around 500 words without suffering from a bout of Sandy's verbal diarrhea, but no good thing lasts forever: her sickening sweetness once again brings out the potential murderer in me, as she bleats to the random worker "Um...excuse me....". God, her...unnecessary...periods...piss me off...almost as much as...her personality. "We want to get to the other side of the river," she continues. "May we cross?"

"You want my answer? A big fat N-0, you simpering wankette!" the worker replies. Oh wait, that was just me. In actuality, he replies almost as politely as Sandy. "Sure -- don't need my permission t'do that! But...uh..." God, there's ALWAYS a 'but'. Always. In RPG Land, it's never simple to go from A to B. No, first you'll probably have to go to C, go on a fetch quest to D, go back to C, talk to E, fight F, collect G, then, and only then, can you go to B. Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a little, but you get the idea.

"Wait...don't tell me you don't know what's happened?" says Random Worker Guy. Suddenly, there is a huge bang followed by what sounds like a cry from the cursed offspring of Stephanie McMahon and a dying hyena. Yes, it really does sound that weird. I have no idea what it is. "There's a [non]-dragon running around in there!" reveals Random Worker Guy. Ah, so that's what the weird noise was supposed to be. Such a pity it sounded nothing like a dragon, of the Non variety or otherwise.

The Exposition Train continues along its long, long track, as RWG reveals "That [Non]-dragon lives in the mud. Normally, he swims near the bottom and doesn't bother anyone much. But for some reason he's been acting really crazy lately." I wonder if that reason has anything to do with Ruley's appearance. Nah, couldn't be. That would be much too obvious...right? According to RWG, all the other workers ran off in fright when the Non-dragon started whining. After hearing the sound of it for myself, I don't blame them. "Just be careful, you hear?" RWG finishes, before walking away.

"Thank you sir. We will!" gushes Sandy, about ten minutes after RWG has left the area. God, I swear that girl gives dumb blondes a bad name.

Maybe now I can finally resume control of Ruley. "All right then -- let's go!" Clay declares. Um, Clay, who made you the fucking leader? Having a big tail doesn't automatically make you better than less-endowed people...or so people keep reassuring me. After placing Ruley (you know, the supposed hero) back at the head of the party, I'm ready to go on.

I think he's found Wakka's hash stash.

Walking, walking, random battles, walking, turning the camera for half an hour until I get a decent angle, walking, random battles, more walking. This sure is riveting! On the subject of battles, I must mention one gross monster in the area. Along with assorted Goos and a palette swap of our favourite stoned birds, the Caps, we have a sick (literally) creation that goes by the name of 'Puspool'. That says it all, really. It looks like a big, slippery pile of pink vomit (with horns). Its battle descripton reads "its body is mostly water and absorbs most attacks". And as if that weren't disgusting enough, when hit with a Fire spell, it fucking dries up. Graah. So, inbetween annoying camera angles, annoying random battles, and annoying Sandies, Ruley has to deal with dried-out pools of bile. Someone in Game Designer Land really hates him. And me.

Who dreams these monsters up?!

Anyway, after descending a ladder, the party emerges in a network of underground tunnels. A big steel gate straight ahead reads "Sluice Control Panel! Unauthorized Access Prohibited!" And there was silly ol' me, thinking that jargon such as "Unauthorized Access" and "Control Panel" only entered the world's lexicon during the techno-boom of the last century. Then again, this game IS set in the bizarro BoF universe, and nothing about that place surprises me -- it spawned Clay and Sandy, for God's sake.

As the gate is locked, I explore elsewhere -- namely, down a long, winding tunnel where the camera is at its blood-vessel-bursting, controller-smashing worst. Yay. If it seems like I'm forever bitching about the game's camera angles, I apologize. However, I won't apologize for ripping on Sandy (sorry, I mean Nina4) all the time, because making fanboys pissy is one of the highlights of my sad existence. Hehe.

At the other end of the tunnel is an exit leading outside into the mud, where there are several anthropomorphic NPCs, none of which have anything interesting or important to say. Sound familiar? Further along, there are more NPCs (this time of the human species). One of them is wearing an inflatable rubber tube, which he reveals is to help him stay afloat in the unlikely event that the dam should break. Can't see that happening anytime soon, right, readers? ::cough::

Another 'worker' is sitting on his lazy arse inside a makeshift wooden hut. He seems to be the head of the workers, even though he isn't doing any work. Sounds a lot like my boss. He asks what the hell the party wants. Apparently, the party has learned a new form of silent communication, as they tell Not!Worker their entire story without a single line of dialogue appearing onscreen. The ol' Black Screen of Long Speeches doesn't even appear. Heck, I know Ruley's supposed to be the silent hero, but I didn't know the other members of the party were suddenly struck mute, too. At least it gives me a break from Sandy's simpering.

Anyway, despite the lack of dialogue, Not!Worker figures out what Ruley and the others are saying, and replies "The other bank? Why would you come all the way to this place to do that?" My question exactly. The gist of the ensuing conversation is that the party must now close the sluice, then cross the mud river to get to a mechanical lift, which will deposit them on the far bank. Whew. The ever-helpful camera pans around to show us where said lift is. Fortunately, the Game Designers don't patronise us any further by giving us a multiple-text-box instruction on how to access the lift. No, that will come in due time...

"Rhoppe's got the key to the sluice...go talk to him," Not!Worker continues. Um...who in the blue hell is Rhoppe? "...He's the one with the tube." Not!Worker finishes helpfully. Now that confusion is cleared up, maybe I can actually progress for five minutes without wanting to rip my own face off and dunk my head in salt water.

I beg your pardon?

No such luck. I find Rhoppe, looking as ridiculous as before, a few steps away. I get the key, but not before Rhoppe asks "What d'you want the key for?" WHAT THE FUCKITY FUCK DO YOU THINK? Here's a little clue -- it's called the 'Sluice Key' for a reason. Moron. I run away from Rhoppe as fast as Ruley's pixellated legs will allow. Heading back to the steel gate in the tunnel, I use the key. Amazingly, I do this without having to endure a tedious lock-picking minigame. However, I'm feeling nervous -- it's been quite a while since I've had the 'pleasure' of playing one of these Little Slices of Hell. On the other side of the gate is a bunch of complex-looking machinery and a big cog-like wheel. Pulling the lever next to the wheel makes it turn for about an hour, then we see a short cutscene of the sluice closing. Well, that was fun.

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