Sunday, July 3, 2011

Last Armageddon

Brain Grey

Last Armageddon is a painful-to-play atrocity of an RPG, but it seemed to have a heck of a lot of potential when I first got going with it. I found it to be very reminiscent of Efera & Jiliora (another Brain Grey title and a personal favorite of mine) in a lot of ways: E&J's narrator, some of its sound effects, and many of the browns and greens that dominate its unsettlingly bleak canvases are also employed here.

But rather than featuring two spunky anime girls, LA spotlights a crew of mythical monsters out to reclaim a depredated planet Earth from a legion of aliens and robots.

The premise and story are pretty damn cool, and it's fun to watch as your zany beasts learn about different aspects of the planet's history and make discoveries regarding significant, world-altering epochs.

And LA doesn't hesitate to relay its cool story in strikingly graphic fashion.

As if it isn't awesome enough that your party consists of fantastic creatures of legend instead of the usual run-of-the-mill RPG good-guy types, said creatures actually evolve into tougher, fiercer, scarier aberrations as they level up, eventually reaching points where they can merge with other beast types to acquire additional attributes and powers.

Many of the monsters can make use of specific types of armor and weaponry, and the system implemented for purchasing such goods is pretty interesting. Basically, certain members of your party can acquire equipment, healing items, and status-effect relievers whenever you want them to, which is obviously very convenient, as is the constantly available save-game option.

But bear in mind that you can have only one save file going; don't save yourself into a bad position! And bear in mind that this is merely one of the many negatives that plague Last Armageddon, and just by playing the game in the first place, you're putting yourself in a very, very bad position.

LA just doesn't let up with random battles, battles that frequently pit you against seven or eight stern opponents, all of whom can survive multiple rounds of hits. This is especially irritating when you find yourself stuck in a spot where enemies assail you without reprieve (which often happens immediately after a boss fight), making it seem as if you'll never be able to take another step (the attacks do eventually stop after you've punched your way through plenty of fights).

The leveling-up system is terribly unbalanced. Some of your monsters, due to their respective attributes and attack types, can level up much more quickly than others. The first time I fumbled my way through the game, my strongest character was at level 70-something while my weakest was at 17. It was absolutely ridiculous.

And it's ridiculously easy to break the entire gameplay system. With so many random battles to participate in and so many enemies to slaughter, it's only a matter of time before at least some of your monsters develop into such fearsome powerhouses that they're completely impervious to harm. The second time I defeated the game, I put more effort into achieving balance among my party members and made sure to take advantage of situations that allow for quick, painless experience acquisition; and following a routine early stretch of leveling, most of my monsters didn't take a single point of damage the rest of the way.

Even if you don't abuse the system (in which case the game will feel either stupidly unbalanced or extremely difficult), you'll still have to pound your way through so many random encounters that most of your monsters will achieve their final transformations before you're even halfway through the adventure, leaving you with pretty much nothing to look forward to in the second half... unless you're a fan of absurd dungeons. The LA labyrinths (two towers in particular) are ridiculously large and contain billions and billions of corridors. And basically all there is to do in them is fight. There's no treasure to find or puzzles to solve. You just find your way around the enormous mazes and thrash groups of opponents who can take lots of hits but may not even be capable of damaging your creatures.

Boosting the rate at which text messages run their course of appearing and vanishing is the only way to make the battles tolerable, but the game doesn't save your setting, so you have to make the change yourself every time you load up your file. Also inconvenient are the status window and pointless borders that occupy a good portion of the main screen and allow you a very limited view of your surroundings at any given moment. The fact that there is never any clear path to follow just makes matters even more difficult. And as you trek about the land's two continents, expect disasters like earthquakes and tornadoes to occur randomly and abruptly knock each of your party members down to a single hit point.

Put up with all this grief and you'll be struck with additional agony via a horrible ending sequence.

But hey, if you've read all of that negative stuff and you actually still want to play through the game, well, here's something that will come in handy for you:


First of all, note that you won't be able to view certain cinemas in their entirety (and thus will miss out on key items) if you aren't using the "correct" party at the points where the interludes play out. You'll usually want to be in command of the gargoyle party when a cinematic moment is about to go down.

Hang out around your home base for a while and level up. Once your creatures have built up some muscle, venture out to find the four enemy outposts and kill the boss at each one. You'll acquire the ID Card.

Note that you can slay these bosses over and over again to level up quickly and easily. Welcome to the first phase of breaking the game.

Once you've had your jollies at the expense of the hapless outpost crews, head northwest to the ice area and enter the dungeon.

There are three cinematic moments in here: one in the message room, one in the CS room, and one in the CD room. In the CS room, make sure you get the cinema that shows a skeleton holding a book.

In the CD room, you'll get a CD.

Head east of the home base to the mountains. You'll find a "skull gate" where you have to fight a boss.

Beyond the skull gate, look for this strange-looking area:

Approach the opening and you'll get to watch a cinema about a sword in a tree.

Find the twelve red tombstones that are scattered about the land. They're numbered, and you can see their numbers by "searching" them a second time. Again, just concern yourself with the red ones; there are ninety-six others, but you don't need to worry about them.

Head northeast beyond the skull gate to reach a downed ship.

There are three cinematic moments inside the ship. During the second one, you should receive the key to the tower. There's a boss right before the third one.

The tower is to the southeast. You'll need the key to enter it.

On each floor, you need to do three things: find a message on a wall explaining something about Earth's history, find a crystal ball that will open the door to the next floor, and find and pass through the door to the next floor.

On the fifth floor, all of my party members needed to be alive for me to pass through the door to the sixth. On the sixth floor, the crystal ball is easy to find, but the door to the north just leads to a small, empty room. You need to "warp" to a different part of the floor. The secret teleportation spot is a step south from where my character is positioned in this screen:

Yeah, I know, every bit of the entire floor resembles this screen. Well, at least this will give you some general idea of where the spot is.

On the seventh floor, you'll finally get to face the boss of the tower. Then you'll be done with it.

You'll then find yourself on a new continent. You'll be attacked right away by a boss creature.

This is another beast who can be challenged and beaten repeatedly, so level up for a while.

There is a town to the south and a tower to the northeast, but you can't enter either of them yet. You need to enter a factory first. It looks like eight white "squares" set up in two rows of four. Enter it through the lower-left square.

The factory is a huge maze. You'll need to travel from area "E1" to area "E8." A few events will occur inside, and a boss will appear at the end.

Now you'll need to find twelve special objects, one for each of your monsters. The objects can be found in four different buildings: the police station (which is where the item for the dragon newt is), the school (cyclops, golem, sphinx), the church (harpy, gargoyle, skeleton, snake), and the hospital (slime, orc, minotaur, goblin).

The police station has two floors, the school has two, the church has one, and the hospital has five. In the school, you need to search only the first floor. There are no objects on the first floor of the hospital, but there's one on each of its other floors. The dragon newt object can be found on the second floor of the police station.

Once you've found all twelve objects, you'll be able to enter the town.

Visit the weapon, armor, and tool shops, and then head for the northern part of town. An event will occur, and then you'll have to fight.

After the battle, continue on and enter a building where robots are being made. Then head all the way north to the town's castle. The castle has three floors. On the second floor, you'll need to find and talk to the king. On the third floor, you'll fight a boss.

The main computer is in the room behind the boss. After the computer event, leave the castle. You'll now be able to enter the final tower.

The first floor of the tower is large but straightforward (compared to most of the others, at least). You just need to go through the maze and find the teleporter to the next floor.

A teleporter can be found in the southwest area of the second floor; it'll warp you to a spot near the teleporter to the third floor.

On the third floor, head towards the lower left to find a teleporter. Once you reach the fourth floor, a boss will attack you.

The fourth floor is tricky. You can fall back down to the third very easily.

The teleporter to the fifth floor is in a "room" to the northeast. I went all the way to the upper left, then crossed over to the right, and then went back a little to the left in order to get to it. I don't know if you have to go through all of that, though.

The fifth floor has LOTS of teleporters on its walls. Take the wrong one and you'll find yourself back at the beginning of the floor. Have fun.

The sixth floor is pretty normal. Start by heading towards the right.

The teleporter to the eighth floor can be found on the left side of the seventh floor.

You'll have to face the final boss on the eighth floor.

Good luck.

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