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Crossing the bridge between dreams and reality - Let's Play Eternal Sonata!

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
(Note: this is the end of an update that started on the previous page.)

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Polka: “Long ago, it was thought they looked like the light that guided people to death, since they blossom the opposite of regular flowers. Even now, a lot of people don’t like these flowers. To many, they’re still considered a bad omen.”

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*Frederic doesn’t know how to respond to that. Polka then walks in front of him.*

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Polka: “But, if you’re in your own dream, how can you be so completely positive that what’s happening is only a dream? And if what you’re experiencing in the dream is so realistic to you, how can you even tell what’s actually the real world?”

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*The music stops; Frederic is shocked.*
Polka: “You were wrong. I was thinking about leaving Tenuto. I want to go out into the world and live my own life. Even if that life only exists inside your dream.”

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Polka: “I just want to help people somehow. Like these flowers. Even though people call them Death Lights, they still blossom and struggle to live on.”

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Frederic: “You’re going to leave the village? But where do you intend to go after you leave Tenuto?”

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Polka: “Because right now, they’re hurting everyone in the village.”
*There’s a short pause.*

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Polka: “Since you can’t use magic, it means you don’t have an incurable illness.”
*Frederic doesn’t respond; Polka starts walking out of the clearing.*
Polka: “Please, stay at my house tonight. I’ll tell my mom you’re coming.”

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*Polka giggles and heads back to her house.*

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Frederic: “Hmm...”

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Seems like this conversation’s got the wheels in Frederic’s head turning on something, though it remains to be seen what exactly that is. In the meantime, I’m gonna call this update here. We have a long way to Forte ahead of us, so stay tuned!

Next time: The journey to Forte begins.
 
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Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
Glossary of Musical Terms

Piu Grave – This requires a two-part explanation. “Piu” is an Italian word meaning “more”, and grave is a tempo marking that indicates a very slow playing speed – around 25-45 BPM – making it one of the slowest tempos in music. So, “Piu Grave” essentially means “even more slowly”.

Opera – There is uh, way too much history for me to get into here with these little blurbs, but essentially, opera is a form of theater where music plays a central role in the production and all the acting parts are performed by trained singers. It originated in Italy at the end of the 16th century and soon spread throughout Europe, and it’s been a key part of Western classical music pretty much ever since. There are several different types of opera, each of which has their own histories, and just skimming the wikipedia page above can lead you down a rabbit hole if you’re so inclined.

Forte – A dynamic marking, meaning “loud” or “strong”; indicated with a fancy f.

And that’s it! Not many new terms this update. See y’all next time!
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
Here's some more art, this time featuring Frederic.

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Fancy! In real life Chopin was known to be quite fastidious when it came to what he wore, but I doubt he would have worn anything this extravagant. Sure as hell looks nice, though!

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It's a bit hard to tell since it's upside down, but if you look closely you can see that a treble clef is worked into the design of Frederic's conductor's baton.

While I'm here, have some environmental art!

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There's not a lot of it floating around online - at least not that I've been able to find - but I'll show off what I can.
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
Here's a few more pieces:

Chopin - Prelude in F Sharp Minor, Op. 28 No. 8
Prelude in B Flat Minor, Op. 28 No. 16

Leoš Janáček - On an Overgrown Path

Only one piece from a non-Chopin composer this time, because it's a.) actually a whole collection of pieces, and b.) pretty long, but still worth listening to! Leoš Janáček was a Czech composer active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In addition to being one of the most celebrated Czech composers (along with Antonín Dvořák and Bedřich Smetana), Janáček was also a noted folklorist, and his research into Slavic folk music considerably influenced his own style.
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
Verse 1-4: The Rain-soaked Wood, Part One

Welcome back to Eternal Sonata! Last time Polka made the fateful decision to travel to Forte to ask the Count about taxes on floral powder.

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Click to watch the cutscene

♪♪~ No music

But I wonder what Allegretto and Beat are up to?

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Let’s check in with them and see…

*Scene transition to the secret hideout...*

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Allegretto: “It’s not like we’re going on a picnic, Beat. Don’t get so excited.”
Beat: “Yeah, I know that, Retto.”

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Beat: “That way everyone can afford blankets, and cheese, and all the honey-covered bread they could ever possibly want! Then everyone can finally be happy! Right, Retto?”

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Allegretto: “We have to uncover the real root of the problem.”
Beat: “Yeah, you said it! So, where are we going, anyway?”
Allegretto: “You mean you don’t know? Geez, I take back what I just said.”

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Beat: “Hey, Retto! Wait up!”
*Beat moves to follow Allegretto up the ladder as the scene ends.*

Seems the two groups are like-minded, even if their goals don’t exactly line up.

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♪♪~ The Mediocrity Sought Out By Everyone

That’s a good idea. Before that, though, I need to do a bit of menu maintenance.

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First we’ll equip Allegretto’s new weapon…

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Then we’ll finally take a look at the photos we took a couple updates ago.

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Here we can look at the photos we’ve taken. These photographs are all fully-developed; I think boss photos fully develop as soon as the fight is over, but I’ll have to test that out later. You can technically sell photos that aren’t fully-developed, but that always results in single-digit sell prices, so it’s always preferable to wait for them to develop, which doesn’t take long at all anyway. Photos can have one of three ranks, with C-rank being the lowest and A-rank being the highest. A-rank photos sell for the most cash, while B-rank ones are pretty decent and C-ranks are almost never worth holding onto unless they’re boss photos. Thankfully you can trash any photos that you don’t want to keep.

The photo mechanic has been heavily rebalanced from the original release of the game; in the Xbox 360 original it was much easier to take A-rank photos, and photos were worth much more money, to the point where if you managed A-rank photos of the first few bosses you’d be set for the entire first half of the game. In the PS3 release, the requirements for A-rank photos are much stricter, and photos overall sell for less money.

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These photos are pretty good, but not quite good enough for an A-rank. Having the subject fully in the frame helps, as well as capturing it in profile from a pretty close (but not too close) distance, and it being in the center of the frame. Having more than one subject in the frame also helps, as long as they aren’t facing away from you. Beyond that it can get pretty finicky, but in general it’s easier to take A-rank photos of standard enemies and harder (but worth more) to get A-rank photos of bosses.

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Before we sell these photos, let’s go see how the kids are doing. There’s nothing new about the sewers so I’ll just cut to the end directly.

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♪♪~ No music

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Ad: “If we went outside to play, somebody’d probably take us away or something.”
“I’ll look after everybody while you’re away. Just leave it to me!”

Y’all better stay safe while we’re gone…

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She then takes the Rat Tail we got from Bread Gang…

Lib: “Thanks! Here, I’ll give you this in exchange.”

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Lib: “Thanks, Retto!”

This is the start of a trading sequence; there are actually two of them in Eternal Sonata, roughly one for each half of the game. The second is much more lucrative than the first, but it’ll be a while before we get to it, so we’ll focus on this one in the meantime.

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Phony: “I hope you and Beat come back soon.”
“You have to come back soon, okay? Promise?”

We’ll do our best, but bureaucracy can be pretty slow in the best of times, let alone when it comes to taxes…

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Sym: “I wanna be a baker if it means you can eat yummy bread like that every day.”

Freshly-baked bread is delicious, I’ll give you that. I could go for some right now…

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Guess we won’t be opening this chest for a while. We’ll have to check it again once we’ve returned from Forte.

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Okay, now we can go sell off our photos.

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Not yet, but that’s why we’re here!

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Sometimes when you go to sell your photos, the shopkeeper will say that there’s a photographer in the shop. That’s not the case here, but if it were, our A- and B-rank photos would sell for more money than usual… but our C-rank photos would sell for less. Since we have mostly C-rank photos, it’s actually a good thing that a photographer isn’t here.

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Before I started selling photos, we had 325 Gold; after I sold all of them, we earned 690 for a total of 1,015, which is a little over three times what we started with. Conversely, selling off Polka and Allegretto’s old weapons only got us 10 Gold. Even with the reduced money from selling photos in this version of the game, it still pays to do it!

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I briefly consider buying this armor for Beat, but I decide to hold off on it; we’ll be finding better equipment soon.

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Instead I buy 10 Peach Cookies and one Angel Trumpet; we’ll have to be more reliant on items for healing since Beat and Allegretto don’t have any healing specials.

Now then, it’s time to talk to everyone before we head off; we won’t be back here for a while, after all.
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
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“Why don’t you come back to the choir? I mean you had a pretty good voice.”

Ah, well, we just don’t have the time for it right now, man. Gotta see a Count about some taxes and whatnot. Wonder what the priest in the church has to say about that…

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♪♪~ An Inspection Which Values Harmony

Priest: “Beat is still small, so don’t push him too hard. I wish you all the best on your journey.”

Don’t worry, we won’t. Thanks for the well-wishes!

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♪♪~ The Mediocrity Sought Out By Everyone

“You may have already noticed this, but my brother is pretty good at making money.”

Oh, are you related to the guy who runs the item shop? Yeah, I guess he would be, being the only game in town and all…

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“You again? These flowers aren’t for eating! Scoot, now! Scoot!”

Nobody said they were…

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“Ever since pirates started appearing on Fusion River, they’ve suspended travel because it’s dangerous. If I can’t get to Baroque, how am I supposed to keep up with the latest fashions?”
“I wish a white knight in shining armor would come along and teach those pirates a lesson.”

Pirates, you say? It’s a good thing we’re heading to Forte on foot instead of by sea. Actually, I’m not sure you can reach Forte by sea anyway.

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Wah ha ha!

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“If you see him, grab him for me, would you? I need to teach him a lesson! He won’t be getting any dinner tonight, that’s for sure!”
“How can I talk if I don’t have my dentures in? Well, I always keep a spare set with me, of course. I’m not a dunderhead like my old husband.”
“Find my husband for me. Please!”

Uh, sure, we’ll keep an eye out for him.

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“What does it mean to be macho?”

I’m not exactly an expert, but I would say you don’t have to be good at stereotypically “masculine” things like sports or whatever to be macho. Just follow your heart!

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“I just can’t let myself sleep. Ah, I’m going crazy.”

This dude just really does not want to take a nap for some reason. Maybe he has an appointment somewhere.

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A stick, you say?

*Handed over Stick*
“Ah, one just like this. If you put one into the ground you can measure the time there is in a day. The shadow of the stick moves, you see. Slowly, slowly, it gets long and narrow. And when it disappears, that’s the end. The end of a single day. Here’s something you can have that I had in my pocket. Do you like it?”

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“Aah, I really did a lot of talking today. The sun’s about to set. I suppose I’ll get ready to settle in. It’s surprisingly warm beneath the eaves of the church.”

Despite what you might be thinking, this man isn’t the old woman’s husband, and we can’t give the dentures to her. He just, had them in his pocket. That raises… questions.

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“But don’t fall in love with me because I’m so macho.”

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Kids these days…

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Still full of bugs, I guess. But that cave is nice and unblocked now, so let’s poke our heads inside real quick.

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♪♪~ A Step

There’s not much to this cave – it’s just a straightforward path with one branch that currently doesn’t have anything in it. At the end…

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Allegretto: “No, wait. This will take us to Tenuto Village. Better go back.”

Right. Polka and Frederic probably came through here earlier on their way to Forte. Anyway, we’re almost done talking to everyone – there’s just the lady in the house by the other exit from Ritardando.

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“I wonder if he’s even thought once about his future. What he wants to be when he grows up and such.”
“I swear, that boy will make me old before my time.”

I mean, he’s just a kid from the sound of it; playing all day’s a pretty common occurrence!

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That’s everything in Ritardando taken care of; time to start making our way to Forte!

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Click to watch the cutscene and combat tutorial

♪♪~ Innumerable Animals

Another forest, another forest theme, but this one’s pretty different to “Illuminant Lives” in terms of mood and structure. No vocals, for one thing, and a bigger focus on percussion. It’s also not afraid to throw in some dissonant piano chords every now and then, but in a playful sort of way; there’s some good bassoon harmonies here, too.

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Allegretto: “Pictures?! Come on, don’t waste time on that stuff. You need to help me fight.”
Beat: “Hey, that’s not nice. Don’t say things like that! Taking pictures isn’t a waste of time.”
Allegretto: “Fine, fine. You can tell me all about it later. Come on, let’s get moving.”

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Joke’s on Allegretto, taking photos is extremely helpful in fights. =V

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That is a gnarly-lookin’ plant…

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Also, despite what he said earlier, fighting in Agogo Forest will be pretty similar to the sewers, since Florite Mice are also here.

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And speaking of fighting, there’s another tutorial waiting for us over there, so let’s go see what it has to tell us.

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♪♪~ Leap the Precipice

This tutorial is pretty important; now that we’re at Party Level 2 we’ve unlocked one of the key features of Eternal Sonata’s battle system. But before we get into that, I should go over something else real quick that’s also important.
 
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Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
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See, when certain enemies enter from light into darkness or vice versa, they change – either their stats change, or they get access to new attacks, or they could transform into a different enemy entirely, like this Very Very Empty changing into a Great Coconut when it entered the rock’s shadow here. These enemies are much tougher than their smaller counterparts, and have access to some strong attacks.

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The Great Coconut can use Coconut Fall from anywhere on the battlefield, but it can only use Moldy Breath up close, which is good because it seriously hurts unguarded. Thankfully, the Great Coconut is very slow, and it takes a while to turn to face you. It also won’t really move at all – if it’s not close enough to use Moldy Breath it’ll happily spam distance attacks at you.

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Now then, onto the battle system changes. For starters, we still have infinite Tactical Time, but whenever we start moving it instantly gets reduced to zero, so if we stand still our Action Gauge will still go down. We can still think about what we want to do at the beginning of a given turn, but once you start moving you’re committed to that turn no matter what.

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But, more importantly, we have access to the Echo Meter! You can see it at the bottom right corner of the screen. Every four consecutive hits adds a notch to it, up to 16 hits; for the final two notches – 24 and 32 – you have to add eight consecutive hits. What does this do?

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Well, the more Echoes you build up, the stronger your next special attack is, with a full 32-hit Echo Meter being the most powerful. Echoes are shared between everyone in the party, and the Echo Meter gets reduced back to zero when you use a special attack, so for tougher enemies and bosses you have to plan ahead a little depending on who’s special you want to use. Naturally, Beat’s long-distance rapid-fire shooting is great for building up the Echo Meter, and we’ll be making heavy use of this throughout the game.

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With that taken care of, we can resume making our way through Agogo Forest.

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Sweet, another one! I’ll put this on Beat until we find some better equipment for him.

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Perfect, some more enemies – this is a good chance to show off the new specials we learned a couple updates ago.

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If enemies happen to spawn close together, it’s a great opportunity to build up the Echo Meter super fast. These Florite Mice die too fast for me to take advantage of that, but there’s more of them in this area, so no big loss.

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Beat’s rapid-fire attack in action. Like I said earlier, very useful for racking up Echoes.

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And here’s the animation change for Rapid Shooter; Beat holds his hook gun in one hand, which somehow increases the damage it deals. I can work with that I think.

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Here’s Sky Divider in action. It’s a two-hit light special, and it’s a fair bit stronger than Sun Slash; it also has a chance of causing knockback, which is quite handy for tougher enemies. The poor Mouse never had a chance.

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Further along the path there’s a section where a bunch of enemies are hanging out. Time for more fightin’!

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Beat: “I see a weakpoint!”

If you use a special while sitting on 24 or 32 Echoes, the character in question will strike a pose and say a unique line.

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Needless to say, this Great Coconut’s day has been thoroughly ruined.

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And here’s Fire Blast. It’s essentially a light-special version of Rapid Shooter, and the animation change applies to it as well. There are several specials like that in this game – light and dark counterparts of what’s essentially the same special – probably for budgetary reasons if I had to guess. Game development is expensive!

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Just a couple more enemy groups and we’ll be in the next area.

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This is the Great Coconut’s other long-distance attack; it’s the least dangerous move in its arsenal, but it’s also the fastest. I’d still prefer it to Moldy Breath, honestly; at least Smoldering Palm doesn’t hit three times!

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Allegretto: “It’s over now!”

That is a very true statement.

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3,200 damage in one go is nothin’ to scoff at at this point!

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♪♪~ Innumerable Animals

Right, next area. Left is the way to go, but there’s a chest over this way to open first.

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Don’t mind if I do.

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Nothing off to the side there, so we’ll head on up those stairs.

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More stairs up ahead.

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I like the contrast between here and Heaven’s Mirror Forest – whereas that place was predominantly dark blue, Agogo Forest is an incredibly vivid green, with vibrant trees and plant-life everywhere.
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
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Another split in the path ahead. We’ll go right first here, as well.

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There’s an NPC down this way, but first…

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Nice! The minor attack boost is just a bonus. I take the time to put the Copper Necklace on Allegretto; it’s not necessary to micromanage like this, but it’ll make me feel better. =V

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“But the lush bounty of nature is more lush than I imagined! I’ve almost used up all my green paint!”
“The clouds in the sky are starting to look threatening. But I cannot leave this place! My inner voice cries out that I must not run! I’m almost out of time and paint! So many obstacles stand before me!”

It’s too bad we don’t have any green paint on us, we could help this dude out. Good luck, man…

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Taking the left path from the intersection before, we find a save point. I put Vivid Shot back in Beat’s light special slot, and I change around the Item Set a bit, switching out a Floral Powder for two Peach Cookies. Allegretto and Beat are both at level 6, which should be enough for what’s ahead.

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Onward!

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Click to watch the cutscene and boss fight

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♪♪~ Rapid Fire

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Oh crap, it’s… uh, what is that exactly? Looks like a flying dinosaur...

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I don’t think it’s here to invite us out to lunch, in any case.

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♪♪~ Opposition Resignation

Boss: Baby Dragon, Florite Mouse x2
HP: 35,000 (PS3)/40,740 (Xbox 360)
Exp: 794 (PS3)/1,500 (Xbox 360)
That’s a weird-looking dragon: Just wait till you see what an adult dragon looks like.

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Allegretto: “Don’t get cocky!"

The Baby Dragon is a step up in difficulty from previous bosses. Not only does it have noticeably more HP, it also fights smarter.

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Of course, just like Bread Gang, it immediately goes for Beat. The bosses in this game must have it out for him or something…

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Its basic attack is a two-hit combo. They’re both pretty easy to guard against, but I wasn’t facing the Baby Dragon so I had to take the brunt of it. That’s the least of your troubles in this fight, though…

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Like with the Bread Gang fight, we’ll take out the other enemies first, building the Echo Meter in the process. We’re strong enough now that we can just defeat the Florite Mice with standard combos.

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Crap, this is bad. The Baby Dragon has an annoying tendency to fly behind a character to use its strongest attack:

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Fiery Breath. You can at least turn around to guard against future attacks, but you still have to endure the full force of this one. It hits everyone in an arc in front of the boss, so attacking it from behind with Beat while distracting it with Allegretto is a good option.

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Beat: “The detail is just amazing!"

But first, it’s photo time! The targeting reticle will automatically point at enemies, but you might have to do some manual adjusting. It’s good to keep in mind that wherever the reticle is pointing is the center of the frame as far as photos are concerned.

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I get pretty unlucky in this recording, and the Baby Dragon does this a lot in the first half of the fight. We still only have space for one Angel Trumpet in the Item Set, so I’d like to avoid KO’s wherever possible. On top of that, using an item takes a flat two seconds from the Action Gauge, limiting the amount of time we can build up Echoes.

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Allegretto: “Cut through the cloud cover and rain upon them!”

The good news is that thanks to the Echo Meter we can hit back just as hard. With an almost-full meter we just dealt a little over 10,000 damage in one turn. That’s nearly a third of its health!

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Now that Beat’s done taking photos he can join in for real. Note that these rapid-fire shots don’t add any time to the Action Gauge, so you’re stuck with a max of 15 hits a turn if you start shooting immediately. That’s still better than his melee combos for meter building, though!

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Beat: “This’ll really hurt!”

And of course he can hammer the boss with his own powered-up specials, too.

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The Baby Dragon has two more attacks aside from Fiery Breath, although they aren’t as dangerous. Knock Out is a four-hit bite that has a strong chance of knocking a character down unguarded, while Red Heaven is an AoE that hits everyone in a circle around it. Both of these are preferable to Fiery Breath, which it seems to use less as the battle goes on, at least in the recording I made.

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From there it’s a matter of keeping up the pressure; once it starts hunching over you know you’ve almost won.

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Finally, Allegretto slashes it from behind and deals the final blow!
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
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♪♪~ Well-Done

Allegretto: “You’re all washed up!”

Heck yeah! The Stone Sword Hilt is to ATK what the Copper Necklace is to DEF. Allegretto and Beat also each gained a level from the fight, although neither learned a new special. Still happy with this, though.

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Click to watch the rest of this update (recommended viewing)

♪♪~ Innumerable Animals

Beat: “So what? We can handle a little rain. I mean, the hideout’s roof leaks like crazy.”

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So, every now and then – about once a chapter, with a couple exceptions – the game will take some time to talk about the Chopin piece that a given chapter is named after. This is one of those times. I’ll put some line breaks in between the end of a cutscene and beginning of these little presentations, and won’t be adding any of my own commentary to them; all the text will be straight from the game until it’s done. See y’all on the other side!

----------------

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♪♪~ Raindrops (Prelude in D Flat Major, Op. 28 No. 15)

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“Her real name was Aurore Dudevant. George Sand was her pseudonym.”

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“when they first met, he commented to a friend, ‘Is that really a woman?’”

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“Even her pseudonym, ‘George Sand,’ was masculine. She was unswayed by society’s mores and expressed herself unabashedly. The romance novels she wrote were extremely popular.”

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“The relationship between the genius pianist and the popular author must surely have been the talk of the town.”

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“During this time, Sand took Chopin to the Spanish island of Mallorca to allow him to rest. To avoid attention, they left Paris separately and rendezvoused at a village near the border.”

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“Chopin’s health appeared to be improving, but the island entered its rainy season and the warm weather vanished.”

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“At the time, tuberculosis was a terminal illness, and Chopin and Sand’s landlord evicted them, fearing contagion.”

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“And rain continued to fall outside…. The sound of falling rain continued incessantly; the simple sound of raindrops blending together to form a dreary rhythm.”

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“A work created by Chopin at age twenty-nine.”

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“But George Sand devotedly stayed by Chopin’s side, never fearing infection.”

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---------------​

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♪♪~ Innumerable Animals

Frederic: “You know, the rain makes the plants look even more alive.”

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Yeah, I bet so. Certainly makes it a lot easier to water all those flowers than manually carrying water out to the field would.

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We could continue on with Agogo Forest, but this is a good stopping place, I think; we can finish it off next time. See y’all then!

Next time: The trek through Agogo Forest continues.
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
Glossary of Musical Terms

Ad lib – Short for “ad libitum,” a phrase in Latin meaning “at one’s pleasure” or “as you desire.” In music, it’s generally used to indicate that the marked passage can be played in free time, or if marked “repeat ad lib” to repeat a passage an arbitrary number of times.

Symphony – A large-scale piece of music, usually (but not always) written for orchestra. Traditionally a symphony is written in four movements, with the first movement being in sonata form, although there may be more or fewer movements depending on the piece in question, with wildly differing structures. Although usually written for orchestras, some symphonies are also written for concert bands. The word “symphony” can also refer to the orchestra that plays such works, i.e. Vancouver Symphony Orchestra or Boston Symphony, etc. Has a long and complicated history you can read more about in the link, if you’re curious.

Baroque – The Baroque era is a period of Western classical music lasting from about 1600-1750. Notable Baroque-era composers include J. S. Bach, Antonio Vivaldi, and George Frideric Handel, among many others. There’s too much history to get into here, but the link has a lot more info.

Fusion – The practice of taking elements from two or more genres of music and mixing them together.

Agogô – I think it’s referring to this, a bell instrument with origins in traditional Edo music and Brazilian baterias, and possibly the oldest samba instrument.
 
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Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
Here's some more art, this time of Beat.

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Gosh, isn't he just adorable?

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A closer look shows that his hook gun is modeled after a clarinet.
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
Today's a good day for more music, I think. First, a Chopin piece:

Chopin - Prelude in B Flat Major, Op. 28 No. 21

And in celebration of Pride Month, I'll be sharing links to pieces by LGBTQ+ composers, starting today with...

John Cage - Dream
Cage - In a Landscape

John Cage was an American composer active in the 20th century. He's most famous for being a major pioneer of aleatoric music - that is, music wherein some part of the compositional process or performance is left up to chance; his best-known composition, 4'33'', is a major example of this. He was also a pioneer of the prepared piano, which is a piano that has had its sound altered by putting various objects on or between the strings. Cage was gay, and his most frequent collaborator was his lifelong romantic partner Merce Cunningham, a dancer and choreographer whose works often served as inspiration for Cage's music.
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
Verse 1-5: The Rain-soaked Wood, Part Two

Welcome back to Eternal Sonata! Today’s update is going to be a shorter one than usual, but the next should be closer to usual length. Anyway, last time our two groups were heading through Agogo Forest on their way to Forte, and it’s just started to rain…

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♪♪~ Innumerable Animals

Before we move on, we’ll go ahead and open this chest.

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An item you find now is an item you don’t have to buy later, am I right?

I also take the time to give Polka the Stone Sword Hilt, and equip Frederic’s new Bamboo Shaft; we’ll need the ATK boost to more effectively deal with the enemies here.

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♪♪~ Leap the Precipice

Now that it’s pouring rain, the battlefield for Agogo Forest looks quite different from before; those patches of light near the glowing rocks are all you get, and sometimes there won’t even be a rock in the middle. Naturally, this means most of the VVE’s we see on the map are actually Great Coconuts in disguise waiting to catch you unawares.

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We’ll have to take advantage of the Echo Meter to defeat these enemies with any sort of speed. The good news is that even with just two characters we can build meter pretty quickly, partially thanks to how fast Frederic’s melee combos are.

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Frederic: “There is power within my melodies! Listen!”

Speaking of Frederic, his Piu Grave special is going to be doing some heavy lifting while we’re making our way through Agogo Forest; even at 24 Echoes he can do some serious damage to the Great Coconuts, much less a full meter.

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That taken care of, we can start moving on through this area at last.

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Score! This will help Polka’s survivability a fair bit. I’ll put the Copper Necklace on Frederic until we can find some better armor for him, which should be soon.

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♪♪~ Well-Done

Frederic: “Let us rejoice, for now.”

Speaking of him, again, he picks up a new special at level 6! It won’t see much use in the forest (since it’s a light special), but I’m happy to have it all the same.

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Now to just circle around back to the main path and follow it to those stairs…

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Deal with some unfortunately bunched-up GC’s…

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And be on our way. Side note, I really like the trails of water running down the slope throughout this area. It looks nice, especially in motion.

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This small clearing at the top of the stairs is a good chance (and indeed the only chance I get) to show off Frederic’s new special.

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It’s hard to tell here because it comes out so fast, but Coup de Grace is a single-hit attack that has strong knockback; it’s bad for building Echoes, but great for keeping enemies at a distance, and for forcing strong enemies and bosses to waste time getting back up and running to you again.

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That taken care of, we’ll head onward once more.

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These stairs lead further into the forest, but we’ll keep moving forward for now…

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To grab this. Again, I’ll explain what exactly it does later – as soon as I find a good opportunity to do so – but for now just note that it’s helpful if you’re having trouble with the GC’s while you’re making your way through Agogo Forest.

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Item acquired, we come to another fork in the road that leads to another item.

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In this case it’s a new parasol for Polka that puts her ATK on par with Frederic’s. Very helpful!

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That gotten, we’ll cross this bridge and move on to the next section of the forest.

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L’Opera Knights show up again in this area, and unfortunately for them…

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We’ve gotten a little bit stronger since Heaven’s Mirror Forest. They shouldn’t pose many problems to us anymore, but I’ll happily fight them and take their item drops.

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Let us not allow the monster-fighting to distract from the fact that that’s a pretty cool tree stump.

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Polka: “Stay away from me!”

Heck yeah, Polka! Show that GC who’s boss.

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We’re almost at the end of this area…

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Just need to head up these stairs and a little further on.
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
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Before we beat up this GC for the item it’s guarding, can I just mention that I like the camera shots this area is using? Because I do, that previous angle on the stairs especially.

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Anyway, let’s snag this new coat for Frederic and be on our way. You get fewer opportunities to buy new armor for him (at least that I recall), so it’s important to keep an eye out for equipment upgrades whenever you can.

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I’ll use that save point in a little bit; first…

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I should show off a section of the menu I’ve been ignoring up to this point. Now that we’ve seen one of Frederic’s piano pieces performed in-game, we can use this option to listen to them whenever we want.

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In the original version of this game there were seven pieces, one for each of the first seven chapters; the PS3 port added an additional piece, which we’ll look at once we get to it much later. You can even reread the little presentations associated with each piece while you listen, if you want.

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All that settled, we’ll move on.

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Click to watch the cutscenes (recommended viewing)

♪♪~ No music

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Frederic: “We should get out of this storm. Is there someplace around here where we can take shelter?”
Polka: “Hm, I don’t know.”

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Oh? Maybe they’ll know somewhere we can get out of the rain. I’m sure Frederic and Polka are both thoroughly soaked right now.

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Who’s this person? We haven’t seen them before…

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“I am looking for something myself. But I’m learning that it’s not such an easy task when it’s pouring down rain like this.”

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♪♪~ Pressure

Frederic: “What?!”

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Whoa dude, slow down, we just met-

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♪♪~ A Flicker Which Divides Light and Darkness

Uh, I guess this is happening now? Surely we can talk this out-

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“I can’t stand the smell of this forest – the plants, the animals...”

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“And the sweat, coming from you people!”

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Polka: “*gasp* What are you doing?!”

That is a great question, Polka, and I feel like we’re about to get a really bad answer.

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“Fugue,” huh? He sure is taking his sweet time sauntering over to us…

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Alright, that’s more damage than we’re used to seeing, but we should be able to patch that right up on our next turn.

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Okay whoa that’s a lot of damage. I’m guarding against this attack here, for reference, and it still took off a third of Frederic’s health. That’s really not good…

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What the hell? We’re only doing single-digit damage to him and he’s not even reacting at all! I’m starting to get the feeling we’re in way over our heads here.

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Oh crap, I mistime guarding once and Fugue capitalizes on it immediately.

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Uh, I just guarded too early. This is going to hurt.

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That’s… more than Polka’s max HP in damage. In Frederic’s case it’s double his health.

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“Ugh, I got dirt on my clothes.”

Yeah, I’m sure you were able to pick up on it pretty fast, but this is an unwinnable boss fight. Assuming you either a.) level-grind in Agogo Forest for an obscenely long time, or b.) find a way to cheat and give yourself higher stats, Fugue will just use an attack called Deus Ex Machina that will deal 125% of the target’s max HP in damage, KO’ing them anyways. Thankfully this is the only fight of its kind in the game.
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
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♪♪~ No music

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Fugue: “Thank you kindly for the workout. It helped me relieve some stress.”

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Wow, what an asshole.

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*Fugue walks off and the camera pans up as the scene changes...*

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Ludwika: “Oh. Finally. It looks as though the thunderstorm has passed.”
*She turns and moves over to Frederic’s bed.*
Ludwika: “How is Frederic’s condition?”

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Ludwika: “I hope he’s all right.”

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Ludwika: “Perhaps he was startled by the lightning. Maybe that’s what caused his seizure.”
Doctor: “Yes, madam, that may very well be true. But I have a suspicion that that wasn’t the only cause.”

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*The scene transitions once more, back to Agogo Forest.*

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♪♪~ Innumerable Animals

Well, it looks like the rain has stopped, at least.

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Allegretto: “Hey, Beat. Did I see you shaking back there?”
Beat: “What?! No way! I wasn’t shaking!”
Allegretto: “Oh? Really? You were hanging on to your camera for dear life, weren’t you?”

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Excellent idea, Beat.

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Before we start on that, however, I need to check something real quick.

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Dang, not a single A- or B-rank photo in the whole set. I guess I wasn’t close enough to the Baby Dragon for any of them. Still, this will give us more money than not taking any photos at all, so we’ll hold onto them until we find a place to sell them.

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Now that it’s not raining, the sun is free to shine through the canopy in all sorts of interesting and beautiful ways.

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♪♪~ Leap the Precipice

And, of course, now that the battlefield is mostly light again, these VVE’s are completely screwed. Even if they happen to spawn in the shade as Great Coconuts, we can build up Echoes much faster with Beat, and Allegretto’s a stronger melee attacker than either Polka or Frederic.

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Moving on. I won’t show the whole trek through the forest as Beat and Allegretto, but I will at least show the especially pretty areas we pass through.

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It doesn’t take long at all to reach the next area, especially since we’ve already opened all the chests and don’t have to deviate from the main path for them.

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Moving on through the tree stump area and up these stairs…

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♪♪~ Well-Done

Sweet! I don’t get a chance to demonstrate it this time, but I’ll be sure to later.

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A few more fights and we’re almost at the same place where Polka and Frederic were just a minute ago.

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That’s odd, they’re not here. Maybe someone found them? That archway nearby seems like it leads to a settlement of some kind, so maybe that’s the case. First, though…

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Wait, is this the husband of the old woman from Ritardando? The heck’s he doing all the way out here? And he’s stomping on something...

“I’ll show her! She’s not going to be doing much talking at all with her dentures in pieces! Hah!”
*At this point he notices us.*
“What? She said she’s not going to give me dinner? Oh no! She must be really mad! I better go back and apologize right now! But I smashed her dentures. If she finds out about that, she’s going to do even worse to me.”

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“You’re giving me these? Thank you so much! You’ve saved my life! Please take this in return. It’s the least I can do.”

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“I’m going to head back now. Thanks again.”
*He leaves.*

Green paint, huh? Y’all know what that means.

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Time to backtrack!
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
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Luckily that doesn’t take long, especially if you avoid battles on the way back.

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*Handed over Green Paint*
“Oh! You’ve got green paint! And you’ll give it to me?! Thank you, stranger! Let me give you this in return!”

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“What vivid green! My brush will dance with delight!”

Thanks for the pants, I think. We’ll find some use for these somewhere down the line, I’m sure.

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But in the meantime, I think I’ll call it here. We'll learn what happened to Polka and Frederic soon enough...

Next time: The end of Chapter 1!

And since there was just the one new musical term this time, I’ll put it here instead of making a separate post for it:

Glossary of Musical Terms

Fugue – A compositional technique in two or more voices wherein a subject is introduced and then reappears in imitation several more times throughout the piece. The fugue is kind of a precursor to sonata form, since it’s usually written in an exposition/development/finale structure. It’s probably easier to hear an example instead of reading about it, and lemme tell ya, J. S. Bach has got you covered in that department in spades.
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
No new art this time, but I do have more music to share:

Chopin - Prelude in A Minor, Op. 28 No. 2
Prelude in G Major, Op. 28 No. 3

Julius Eastman - Gay Guerrilla

Julius Eastman was a 20th century American composer. His work can largely be classified under minimalism, although unlike most other prominent composers in that movement, Eastman was far more willing to use dissonance and avant-garde techniques in his music. Many of his pieces draw on his experiences as an openly gay black composer, and have overtly political titles reflecting this. Unfortunately this didn't play nicely with the classical music establishment and kept him from finding much work after the 1970's, and many of his scores were impounded by the New York City Sheriff's Office after an eviction in the early 1980's. He died homeless and alone in a hospital of cardiac arrest in 1990; no public notice was given of his death until an obituary appeared in the Village Voice eight months later.

Eastman's work has seen a resurgence in recent years, thanks largely to the effort of people who worked with him tracking down his scores and CD compilations like Unjust Malaise. But it's still shitty that his life was cut short, and that most of the previous paragraph was about the circumstances that led to his death. Black composers have an important place in the classical repertoire, and their voices deserve to be heard. Black lives matter.
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
Verse 1-6: Ogre Battle

Welcome back to Eternal Sonata! Last time both our groups traveled through Agogo Forest, and Frederic and Polka got beaten up by some dude with a katana and an attitude problem. Hopefully we’ll learn what happened to them afterwards soon…

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♪♪~ Innumerable Animals

Heading through this archway seems like a good place to start looking for them.

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Just a little path and we’ll be in the next area.

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♪♪~ Can We Be Both Different and Alike

This track sure is… sleepy, huh? The way the melody lazily drifts between instruments, the insistent bassoon harmonies, the laconic tempo… It’s technically a waltz, but it might be the slowest one I’ve ever heard. This is also one of the few places in the soundtrack where a cor anglais turns up, and it’s always nice to hear. Pretty good clarinet lines here, too!

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What a cozy little village! It shouldn’t take long to look around, at least.

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First we have to finish going up the path, though. As soon as we do...

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Click to watch the cutscene

Beat: “Hey, I think I see someone over there.”
*The two of them head up the stairs.*

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Allegretto: “So, it’s just the two of you? Alone? All the way out here? Must be tough.”
*The door behind March is heard opening and closing.*

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March: “Lately, though, I must admit I’ve been surprised at how many guests have been showing up around the forest.”
*March hears footsteps behind her and turns around.*

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*Polka walks down the stairs.*
Polka: “Huh? Where… where am I?”
March: “You were found lying unconscious at the upper entrance of the forest. The agogos came to me, and told me where I could find you. I think your friend is out taking a walk somewhere nearby. He kept mumbling to himself. Something about trying to find inspiration for his music.”
Allegretto: “Excuse me, but what are ‘agogos’?”

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Including Beat’s response because it’s adorable.

March: “Anyway, they don’t approach human beings. And recently, it seems as though the agogos haven’t really been showing themselves at all.”

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March: “In fact, I still can’t believe they came to me about rescuing a human being at all. This is the first time anything like that’s ever happened.”
Polka: “So the agogos rescued me? Even though… even though I’m….”
March: “I think maybe you should get some more rest right now. I’ll fix you something warm to eat.”
*She starts heading back inside her house, but stops and turns around.*

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Polka: “Who, me? Well I’m….”
Allegretto: “You’re Polka, right?”
Polka: “What?!”
Allegretto: “You sell floral powder in Ritardando. Yeah, I heard someone say your name once.”

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Allegretto: “Hey, Polka, what’s the matter?!”

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Beat: “Why’d she run off like that? Did we say something wrong?”

Gonna guess she doesn’t like being reminded of having a terminal illness. Just a hunch.

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*Frederic turns to the group.*
Frederic: “Did something happen?”
March: “She really shouldn’t be running around like that. She’s only just recovering.”
*They all look off in the direction she went.*
March: “That path doesn’t go very far off though. So at least she shouldn’t get lost.”
*Suddenly, Polka screams from offscreen.*

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*The two of them run off as the scene ends.*

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♪♪~ Rapid Fire

Oh no, Polka’s in trouble! We’ve gotta go do something about it!

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It definitely was! The other NPC’s around the village all say similar things, so instead of talking to them let’s go before something bad happens!

(I do take care of a few things offscreen first, but I’ll show that stuff next time so as not to break the pacing here.)

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Click to watch the cutscene and boss fight

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Oh man, that’s a pretty big monster. Polka might have a hard time fighting it by herself…

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♪♪~ Opposition Resignation

Here comes the cavalry!

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*Allegretto looks over at Frederic.*
Allegretto: “I can understand that you want to fight. But are you sure? After all, you’re recovering, too, aren’t you?”
Frederic: “I’ll be fine. Don’t worry about me. Right now, we have to concentrate on keeping these things away from Polka!”

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Speaking of, they seem pretty mad!

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Boss: Ogre Champ, L’Opera Knight x2
HP: 45,530 (Xbox 360)/43,000 (PS3)
Exp: 2,000 (Xbox 360)/1,000 (PS3)
Hey uh, what about that other sword on its back there: Oh don’t worry, it only uses the one in its hand.

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Beat: “C’mon, let’s fight!”

The Ogre Champ isn’t really much harder than the Baby Dragon was; sure, it has more HP, but this is the first boss we’re fighting with a full party, and it’s a pretty balanced one at that.
 
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Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
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Allegretto and Frederic are going to start the fight by getting rid of the L’Opera Knights. At this point they’re weak enough to fall to standard melee combos, and this way we can keep the Echo Meter intact.

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Beat: “Watch the little birdie!”

Beat, of course, is going to spend his first few turns having a photo-op with the Ogre Champ. (Selling the photos of the Baby Dragon is one of the things I did off-screen; more on that next time.)

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The Ogre Champ’s basic attack is a two-hit combo with its big ol’ sword; the individual swings are pretty easy to guard against, and it’s so slow that a couple combos can very well take up its entire turn.

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Unfortunately the boss prefers using its arsenal of special attacks over its standard combo. Decapitate is the most dangerous one, easily capable of taking off over 1,000 HP if you fail to guard like I did here. It can also hit other characters besides the main target if they’re standing close enough to each other, so try not to do that if you can avoid it.

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This isn’t strictly necessary, but I use a Poison Whitecap to speed up the fight a little. Poison inflicts a fixed amount of damage based on the target’s maximum HP at the beginning of their turn, and it also causes them to stagger, wasting time on the Action Gauge if they don’t have any Tactical Time. The latter part is especially useful for bosses, which is what I’m counting on here more than the damage. (I did some math, and it seems to be a little under 5% max HP per turn, but I’ll have to do further testing to see if that’s consistent.)

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Sadly I have to spend Frederic’s turn healing himself instead of attacking, but I won’t be caught unawares next time. If you’re confident in your guarding skills or are more willing to lean on items for healing, having Coup de Grace instead is a good option since about half the battlefield is in the light.

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These are two of the Ogre Champ’s other specials. Ground Strike is a massive punch that can cause knockdown if unguarded, and Big Smash is an AoE that affects a wide area around the boss. It has another special, called Big Break, that’s kind of a hybrid of the previous two – a big sword swing that sends out a wave of fire on either side – but it’s pretty rare, and I didn’t see it happen in this recording.

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The unfortunate thing about poison is that it causes an enemy to enter its hunched-over animation even if it isn’t close to being defeated, so it can be tough to gauge how far along in the fight you are. It’s a small price to pay for the help it provides, though.

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Frederic: “A never-ending vibration, within eternal silence.”

Thanks to how the turn order worked out, Frederic ended up dealing the most damage by far over the course of the battle. I tend to use up the Echo Meter as soon as it’s full, and it just so happened that Frederic kept filling it up first.

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Once it’s close to defeated, the Ogre Champ might use One Gulp to heal itself, although it doesn’t happen very often. Still, this is your cue that the fight’s almost won.

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Just a little bit more…

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Allegretto: “Listen closely, to the angry winds of your requiem!”

And Allegretto deals a massive blow, finishing the fight!

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♪♪~ Well-Done

Allegretto: “Heh, how was that?”

Excellently done, I’d say. Everyone present gains a level, and a new sword for Allegretto isn’t too shabby, either.

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♪♪~ No music

Click to watch the cutscene

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Polka: “No, I’m all right. Thank you.”

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It might be hard to see, but there’s a glowing ball of light, and it’s starting to bounce toward the group…

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Beat: “It’s kind of weird. Look, Retto. It’s glowing.”
*Polka looks toward the agogo.*
Polka: “Agogo, thank you for saving me.”
Beat: “I’ve never seen one of those before. Oh, I know! I’ll take a picture of it!”
*Beat moves to take out his camera, but before he can...*

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Polka: “Where did it go?”
Allegretto: “Great job, Beat. You scared it off by taking that stupid thing out! I wish I could’ve touched it.”
Beat: “Gee, I’m sorry Retto.”

Allegretto is being… weirdly petulant here? Like, yeah he’s a teenager, but still. It’s weird. Plus he made Beat sad, and that’s not cool.

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Polka: “I’m sure it’ll come out again.”
*She starts to stand up.*

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Allegretto: “I’m Allegretto.”

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I can understand why he’s lying here – if I were in his situation I wouldn’t go around telling everyone I met that I was an orphan living in the sewer, either.

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Beat thinks it’s hilarious, though!

Allegretto: “Anyway, enough about me. What’s a powder seller like you doing way out here? Are you headed somewhere?”

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Flashback time!

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Solfège: “Now is not the time to discuss this! We have a guest in the house.”
Polka: “I told you the reason floral powder isn’t selling is because people can buy mineral powder so cheaply. I’m sure he’ll understand if I talk to him.”
Solfège: Polka dear, don’t be foolish!”

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Polka: “I’ve already made up my mind! Don’t try to stop me!”
*She runs into her room and slams the door behind her.*
Solfège: “Polka!”
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
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*She listens at the door for a few seconds, but Polka doesn’t respond.*
Solfège: “Polka, are you listening?”

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*The flashback ends and we return to the present.*

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Polka: “Oh, yes.”

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*The scene transitions once more as the group heads to March’s house offscreen...*

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Click to watch the rest of the update

Looks like March made tea for everyone while they talked. That was nice of her!

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Beat: “Frederic, huh? Okay. No problem. I’m really good at remembering people’s names.”
March: “You said you’re going to Forte. Do you mean Forte Castle?”
Polka: “Yes, I do.”
March: “You should know that Forte is not a very friendly place right now. It’s much nicer here in Agogo Forest.”

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Beat: “Ah! You mean mineral powder, right?”

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March: “If something isn’t done soon, the agogos are going to lose even more of their home.”
Polka: “That’s just terrible. You know, I was actually going to ask them to reduce the amount of mineral powder they’re selling.”
Allegretto: “Hey, hey, hold on. Wait a minute, you guys.”

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Polka: “Oh!”
Allegretto: “I know you gotta sell your floral powder, but there’s other people out there tryin’ to survive, too.”
Beat: “And with the taxes as high as they are now, people can’t even afford bread most of the time.”
Polka: “Oh no! Really?”

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Allegretto: “And if they can’t buy medicine when they need it, on top of that, you’re gonna see people start dying.”
Polka: “But wait, floral powder is medicine, too. I know right now it’s more expensive than mineral powder because of the taxes, but….”
Beat: “Exactly! That’s the problem right there. The taxes are just way too high!”

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March: “That all sounds reasonable, but I’m afraid it won’t solve the problem Agogo Forest is facing.”
Allegretto: “Well, yeah, I guess you’re right about that. Then, instead of stopping the mining completely, maybe we can get them to cut back, or even find a totally different way to make the stuff.”

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Polka: “It’s just that… I’m so ashamed of myself.”

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Polka: “I’m so sorry.”

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Beat: “Yeah, and anyway, if people could get floral powder at a cheaper price than now, then there’d be less need for mineral powder right there. Two birds with one stone.”
March: “I think what Beat is saying is more or less correct.”

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*March grabs something from nearby.*

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Allegretto: “But how’re we gonna find her? I mean, we don’t even know what your sister looks like.”
March: “Oh, I don’t expect that will be a problem. You see, we’re twins. So, I think you’ll recognize her right away.”
Allegretto: “Gotcha. All right, then, I think we can handle that. Come on, let’s get going, Polka. We’ll go together.”

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March: “Yes, you should go together. I think that’s a very good idea.”
Allegretto: “I mean, we’re all heading to the same place, so we might as well stick together, right?”
Beat: “Besides, if you collapse again, the agogos might not be around to rescue you the next time.”

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*Scene transition back to that earlier flashback...*

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Solfège: “Polka, are you listening? Polka, please! If you can hear me, then answer me!”
*Rather than answer, Polka walks over by her bedroom window.*

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♪♪~ Your Circumstances

Polka: “I don’t have long to live, so I want to do something meaningful with that time!”

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Polka: “I don’t have much time. But I… I want to use my power for good somehow. I want to help as many people as I can before it’s too late.”

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Polka: “Up until now, every stranger has been my enemy. I’d convinced myself of that and couldn’t trust anyone.”
*She clenches her fist.*
Polka: “But not any more. Now, I’m going to start off by trusting people. Because if I can do that, then...”

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*Polka closes her eyes for a long moment.*

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*Back to the present once more...*

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♪♪~ No music

Allegretto: “Okay! Then we should get going. Oh, Frederic. By the way, what are you gonna do?”
Frederic: “I was heading for Forte as well.”
Beat: “What? You’re going to Forte, too, Frederic? Oh, that’s great! I guess that means we’re all going to the same place!”
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
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Allegretto, my dude, you have no idea.

*One more scene transition for the road, why not?*

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♪♪~ Can We Be Both Different and Alike

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March: “Don’t mention it. And if you ever come through the forest again, please drop by.”
*She waves as the group starts heading out of the village.*

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Allegretto: “Are you still going on about that? You know you can just go back to that same cave again later.”
Polka: “Allegretto’s right. As long as some agogos show themselves, I’m sure you’ll get to take a picture of them next time.”

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*Meanwhile, back in March’s house...*

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And so Chapter 1 comes to a close. Polka has found her resolve, the main group is leaving Agogo Forest for Forte, and the agogos are apparently not all that they seem. Frederic has only just begun dreaming, and it’ll be a long while yet before the time comes for the dream to end, but until then…

Next time: Chapter 2 begins!
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
Glossary of Musical Terms

March – A genre of music with a strong regular rhythm, originally written for the express purpose of marching to, and most often performed by military bands. Marches tend to be pretty peppy – see almost everything John Philip Sousa ever wrote – but there are also wedding marches and funeral marches.

Salsa – A musical genre that originated in 1960’s New York City. Put simply, it is a blend of various Afro-Cuban music genres and dances (guaracha, mambo, etc.) with jazz and occasionally other genres. There is apparently some controversy over whether or not salsa is actually its own distinct genre, but I don’t know enough about the subject to feel comfortable weighing in on that particular debate.

Rock – Rock and roll, obviously! It originated in the late 1940’s to early 50’s from several different styles such as gospel and R&B, and was popularized by artists such as Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Little Richard, and Chuck Berry. Rock has changed and mutated quite a lot over time, and not many artists nowadays play it in a style that’s even remotely close to its origins.

Waltz – A ballroom and folk dance in 3/4 time that eventually became a concert genre in its own right. It has a long history, dating back to at least the late 16th century, and pretty much any noteworthy classical composer you can think of has written at least one, including Chopin. It fact, it was Chopin himself who helped popularize the waltz as a standalone genre of music that was not meant to be danced to.
 
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Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
So, Chopin is kind of unique among classical composers in that he wrote almost exclusively for one instrument, that being the piano. Most of the pieces he published in his lifetime were small-scale, single-movement piano works, and he only wrote a comparatively small number of pieces for anything other than solo piano. In fact, every single piece of music he ever wrote involved the piano in some way. Most famous classical composers wrote in a variety of genres for a variety of instruments, so it's notable that Chopin went all in on one instrument and is not only still widely performed today, but was even famous within his own relatively short lifetime.

All that being said, I thought it would be interesting to share one of Chopin's major works written for instruments other than solo piano at the end of every chapter, starting with...

Chopin - Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Minor, Op. 21

A concerto is, put simply, an instrumental piece written for one or more soloists accompanied by an orchestra. It didn't start out in that form, and in fact the concerto has a long and complicated history that's too much to get into here; if you want to learn more you can follow the previous link or watch this very long video. Piano concertos tend to be one of the more common forms of the genre (along with violin concertos), and Chopin wrote two of them as the capstones of his musical education at the Warsaw Conservatory. Their titles are a little misleading; the Concerto No. 2 was actually written first, but it was published second, and vice versa.

I'm sure you noticed from the link above, but concertos tend to be pretty long, and I don't blame anyone for being unable to listen to the whole thing in one go. If you don't have the time or simply don't want to listen to the whole thing, I recommend at least listening to the second movement, the Larghetto in A-Flat Major (there are timestamps in the video description). It was inspired by and dedicated to Konstancja Gładkowska, a Polish soprano that Chopin fell in love with while he was studying at the Conservatory. It's a beautiful piece of music all on its own.

In the meantime, here's a couple more pieces for your listening enjoyment:

Samuel Barber - Hermit Songs, Op. 29
Ethel Smyth - Cello Sonata in A Minor, Op. 5

Samuel Barber was a 20th-century American composer. His main claim to fame is being the guy who wrote Adagio for Strings, which you've almost certainly heard before (and which was actually adapted from his String Quartet Op. 11, rather than being a standalone piece), but he's also responsible for several other works that have remained popular in the classical repertoire. He was gay, and met his lifelong romantic partner Gian Carlo Menotti while they were both students at the Curtis Institute of Music. Menotti was primarily an opera composer who wrote over two dozen such works (which is ludicrous, by the way), and he actually wrote the libretto for two of Barber's operas, Vanessa and A Hand of Bridge. I don't know about y'all, but the mental image of two lovers writing operas together is adorable to me.

Ethel Smyth was an English composer active in both the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In addition to being the first female composer to receive a damehood, she was also a prominent figure in the women's suffrage movement, up to and including literally writing the anthem for it. Her opera Der Wald was, for more than a century, the only opera written by a female composer to be staged by New York's Metropolitan Opera. Despite her successes and her prolific output, Smyth was criticized in her lifetime for writing music considered too "masculine" for a female composer; I suspect this sexist criticism is at least partially due to the fact that Smyth was a lesbian who had several high-profile affairs with women, along with being a lifelong fan of sports (particularly golf). Thankfully such criticism has died down in recent years. Smyth became deaf later in life, and retired from music to become an author, writing ten books (most of them autobiographical).
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
Remember when I said way back in the first update that I'd be taking a closer look at Motoi Sakuraba's musical career? Well I figure now's as good a time as any to do it. This isn't intended to be an exhaustive overview or biography, because I'm just one person doing this for fun in their spare time, but I will be highlighting the things I think are interesting or important about Sakuraba's career up to this point. Let's start at the beginning with the first album he ever released:

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Playlist
Genre: Progressive Rock
Year of Release: 1988
Musicians: Motoi Sakuraba (keyboards, composition, production), Tetsuya Nagatsuma (bass guitar, vocals), Genta Kudoh (drums, percussion, vocals)
Favorite tracks: Baroque in the Future, Flash!, Byzantium

Sakuraba had had some piano lessons in preschool, but was otherwise self-taught, and he began composing his own music in college. He formed Deja Vu (originally called Clashed Ice) as a duo with fellow student Genta Kudoh in 1984 while they were attending Meiji University. The name change and the addition of Tetsuya Nagatsuma came after they graduated the following year, and Baroque in the Future was released a few years later. It's a mostly-even mix of instrumental and vocal tracks composed entirely by Sakuraba, and the musicianship is excellent all around (save perhaps for the vocals, which don't seem to be quite the singers' strong suits).

Deja Vu didn't last long after that - Nagatsuma left the band soon afterwards, and despite adding two new members the band broke up in 1989 over musical differences. Afterwards, Sakuraba participated in a special one-off project:

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Genre: Progressive Rock, Chamber music (sorta)
Year of release: 1989
Musicians: Full list here
Sample tracks: Fiori per Algernon, Sospiri del Fiore (audio glitches in the upload), Fragoroso

Pazzo Fanfano di Musica was a one-off project/supergroup formed by a who's-who of musicians from the Japanese prog rock scene, consisting of members from such bands as Mr. Sirius, Magdalena, and Teru's Symphonia, among others. Whereas you could describe most prog rock bands as rock musicians drawing at least some inspiration from classical music, here it's kind of the opposite? Most of the songs are carried by the strings with support from the keyboards, and it kinda sounds like chamber music in some places. Unfortunately the three songs linked above are the only ones on Youtube at time of posting, otherwise I'd put up a playlist.

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A photo from the inner sleeve; I'm pretty sure Sakuraba is the guy in the back with the shoulder-length straight hair. He co-wrote "Fragoroso" and played piano on the album, although to what extent beyond the aforementioned track I can't say for sure.

I'll do this little retrospective in chunks, with the aim of posting one per chapter until I'm out of material I want to highlight; sources will be in the opening post. I think next time we'll look at the beginnings of his solo career, as well as his releases outside of video game music as a whole. Until then, see y'all later for the next update!
 
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Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
Verse 2-1: The Road to Forte

Hello and welcome back to Eternal Sonata! Last time the party decided to travel to Forte together, with the common goal of speaking to Count Waltz about this whole mineral powder business.

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This is one of the longer chapters of the game, and there’s a lot of ground to cover, so let’s get to it.

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♪♪~ Strategy

Click to watch the cutscene (recommended viewing)

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*We begin with two people in the middle of a conversation.*

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“Do they think they’ll start a revolution just by declaring they oppose the government?”

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“Perhaps it would be best to nip this in the bud.”

The blond guy in the outrageously ostentatious clothes must be Count Waltz, then.

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Legato: “Well, yes….”
Waltz: “But a revolution involves toppling a country’s government. Do you really think Andantino is capable of doing that?”
Legato: “No...”

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Waltz: “Andantino knows that better than anyone.”

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So, Chapter 2 has some weird pacing choices. It comes up a few times, but I feel like certain cutscenes could have been put in better places. I say this now because we’re about to transition into a history lesson and this cutscene isn’t technically over!

--------------------

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♪♪~ Revolution (Étude in C Minor, Op. 10 No. 12)

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“It was the November Uprising.”

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“About four weeks before the revolution, on November 2nd, Chopin left the increasingly dangerous Warsaw and headed for Vienna.”

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“But Chopin was unaware of this, and his trip had been planned many months in advance.”

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“So his friends wanted him to use the piano as a weapon to fight for Poland.”

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“And six days after that, the insurrection in Warsaw started.”

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“Chopin, then age twenty-one, learned of the insurrection’s failure while in Stuttgart, Germany.”

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“To Chopin, who genuinely loved his homeland of Poland, the insurrection’s failure was difficult to bear. But perhaps he found it even more difficult to bear the fact that he was safe in a foreign country.”

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-------------------​

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♪♪~ Strategy

Waltz: “I asked you a question: why does Andantino continue to fight?”
Legato: “Well, I….”
*Legato’s eyes widen as Count Waltz suddenly gets up in his face.*
Waltz: “Don’t know the answer?”

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Waltz: “So, in simpler terms, our real enemies are the ones who are behind the scenes, backing Andantino. We’ll let Andantino play out their game. They’re no threat.”

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See what I meant earlier? I feel like the developers could have put the Chopin history lesson right here at the end of the cutscene instead of in the middle of it. It’s not a huge deal, granted, so I’ll try not to complain too much.

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♪♪~ Dive into the Vast Expanse of Plains

In any case, we have a new area to go through, and it’s one of my favorites in the whole game.

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Just look at this place! It’s huge and vibrant, and dandelion seeds are constantly blowing in the breeze. It’s only a few screens long, and most of it is a straight line, but man it’s a cool place.

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But before we really get into it, we have to go back into Agogo Village for items and such.

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♪♪~ Can We Be Both Different and Alike

We’ll start here. During recording for Chapter 1 I spent some time immediately before and after the Ogre Champ fight going around the village for items and shopping for new equipment, and I’ll show that now; the continuity might be a little weird for the time being as a result.

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Handy! It’s at this point that we can buy Poison Whitecaps in shops for 100G apiece, but right now our money is better spent elsewhere.
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
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There’s a couple items in March and Salsa’s house, so we’ll search there next; we’ll talk to March herself a bit later.

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This item is a little finicky to get, since you have to stand in a very specific spot to examine the bird cage. As for the item itself, it heals a status effect that I’ll go over later when it pops up.

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Heck yes! Clovers are extremely useful items that heal the whole party instead of just a single character. Club Clovers are the weakest in that they “only” heal 3,000 HP, but that’s still a full heal for everyone except Allegretto. They cost 3 points to put into the Item Set, same as an Angel Trumpet, so I’ll save this for emergencies for the time being.

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Allegretto: “Something was inside of it.”

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Right outside, we find this thing in a small shrine. Score Pieces are part of another game-long sidequest that’s actually pretty cool, but we don’t currently have the means to do much with this so I’ll just hold onto it for now.

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There’s another couple items over in this building.

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Yoink! There’s another item right next to this one, but I missed it before I started recording for Chapter 2; I’ll pick it up later once we’re back in the present.

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In the meantime, we’ll head downstairs and check out the item shop.

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No A- or B-rank photos of the Baby Dragon, sadly, but that’s still a pretty decent chunk of change there.

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I buy the Cork Baton for Frederic (although I forgot to equip it until after the boss fight…) and two Breast Guards for Allegretto and Beat. It’s not really necessary to do this before the fight like I am here, but it helps it go by a little faster.

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This is technically the start of another game-long sidequest, although it’s a much stranger one than anything else in the game. More on this later, but trust me it’s really weird.

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“She can introduce you to the chief anyway.”

Now that we’re back in the present, let’s chat with the villagers before we set off for Forte.

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Agogo Boy: “I hardly see them at all anymore. Where’d all the agogos go? Oh! Maybe I can find them in the forest. But March won’t let me go there.”
“Where did all the agogos go?”

I can’t tell you that, but I do know what we saw…

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We can rest at March and Salsa’s house if we need to, but the party was automatically fully healed after the Ogre Champ fight so there’s no need to at the moment.

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Yeah, it kinda does. Wonder what’s up with that? (Side-note: A little drum plays every time you examine this statue. It’s neat!)

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“Lately, they don’t seem to hear too well. Maybe they’re getting old.”

You don’t say…

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“You can’t play all the time. You need to study some, too.”

Says you, dude. We happen to have important business in Forte, thank you very much.

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I guess it’s not uncommon for Salsa to leave the forest to do other things.

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Allegretto: “I should give the kids some vegetables to eat along with their bread.”

Not a bad idea. Just one of those carrots would probably be enough for all of them!

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“Hey that would make a pretty good desktop background” count: 7

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Back in the shop I sell off the Ogre Champ photos. Once again only C-ranks; it’s difficult to get the boss fully in the frame without also being too far way, although the photos with L’Opera Knights are helpful since they’re worth a little more than usual.

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I buy some Peach Cookies and Floral Powders for the road; I also briefly consider buying some new armor for Polka, but I’m pretty sure we’ll find a new set on the Chorus Plains so I hold off on it for now.

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Speaking of equipment, the new sword we got from the Ogre Champ is a nice upgrade over the Saber.

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Now that we have more than three party members, anyone not in the first three slots goes into the reserves. Characters who aren’t in the active party still get EXP from fights at a reduced rate (I believe it’s 50%), but they will start lagging behind eventually if you don’t swap them in at some point. This won’t be a problem for us because I like switching the party around as characters level up. Polka’s very close to level 8 so she’ll stay in the party for a while, and I’ll swap Frederic for Beat once the former is at level 9.

Also, you can use Clovers in the party menu to heal everyone at once, instead of just the battle party. Handy!

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While we’re in the shop I’ll grab the item I forgot to last time. That’s all of them in the village, but there are still a few NPC’s to talk to over by the place we fought Ogre Champ.
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
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“I heard there’s huge onions and stuff in the forest! I really want to see them!”

More huge vegetables to add to the pile, I guess!

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“I hear the leader of that country over there is doing something up in the mountains. And when the mountain isn’t healthy, neither is the forest.”

Hmm… if the agogos aren’t showing up because of the mining operations at Mt. Rock, then why would they suddenly appear around Polka? Something to ponder, I suppose.

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“You must never go near that cave! Never!”

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Okay okay fine, we get it.

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“Anyway, it’s best if you stay away from it, like he says.”

Alright, duly noted. At least you’re more reasonable about it than he is…

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♪♪~ Dive into the Vast Expanse of Plains

We’re done in the village for now, so let’s set off for Forte! Hang on, what’s that on the ground over there?

I love this track a lot! It’s very majestic. The way the brass and strings work together to bring out the melody is great, and there’s some good counterlines in the cello. I also really like the percussion here, lots of good timpani and bass drum. This has pretty much always been one of my favorite tracks in the whole game.

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Oh, weird. There’s a village right nearby, kinda strange that this is just laying here. Oh well.

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There’s a new enemy over there, but we’ll deal with it later.

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First we’ll head over here…

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And pick up this new armor for Polka. It’s not quite as good as what’s being sold in Agogo Village, but it’ll do for now.

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“Hey that would make a pretty good desktop background” count: 8

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♪♪~ Leap the Precipice

Right, time to look at the first new enemy for the area, Angel Goats. They’re difficult to ambush on the field; they seem to pretty much always turn around and run towards you a few seconds before you can get to them, making them the first enemy to behave this way. As for the battlefield here on the Chorus Plains, it’s mostly light, with a patch of darkness over on the right side. Angel Goats also project an aura of light around them, so unless you’re positioned just right (or are Beat) you’re mostly stuck using light specials against them.

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Angel Goats are fast, both in movement speed and statistically; until our party gains a few levels they’ll pretty much always go first. They also have a tendency to gang up on one character, even outright ignoring more advantageous targets if they feel like picking on someone else.

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They also like to use their most powerful attack the most often. It deals a decent chunk of damage, but the most dangerous thing about Ride of Three Hundred is that it comes out very fast; if you don’t block it pretty much as soon as the prompt appears you’ll get hit. The good news is that it’s slow enough to take up most of their turn, so you won’t have to worry about multiple charges from a single enemy.

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Angel Goats aren’t as sturdy as you might think; a single turn’s worth of Echoes from Allegretto is usually enough to get rid of one at our current level.

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Their standard attack is to alternate between headbutts and kicking you with their hooves (which hits twice). It also comes out pretty fast, but is much easier to guard against than Ride of Three Hundred.

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♪♪~ Well-Done

Polka: “Perfect!”

They give pretty good EXP, and combined with the free rest at Salsa and March’s house the Chorus Plains are a pretty good spot to level-grind if you feel the need. I won’t be doing this, but the option is there.

As for the new special Polka just learned, Nether Wave is awesome; I’ll cover it later when I get the chance.

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Moving on. There’s not much to this first area besides the path and the one treasure chest, but it’s very lovely to look at.

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There are a couple more pieces of paper lying on the ground, though. Someone was just having a littering field day, I guess.

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Hm, seems like there’s something on the bridge blocking the way forward. We should investigate that after clearing out the enemies in the area.

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Speaking of which, here’s the other special that Angel Goats have. It’s not especially dangerous even unguarded, and they don’t use it very often, but it is something to consider.

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Huh, looks like the things blocking the bridge are more goats. These ones don’t seem nearly as murderous, though, which I am perfectly okay with.

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Allegretto: “If you’re going to play, couldn’t you do it somewhere else?”
*bleat*
Polka: “Please, Mr. Goat. We’re trying to get to the other side of the bride. Do you think you could let us pass by?”
*bleat*
Frederic: “It appears futile. He doesn’t seem to have the slightest intention of moving.”
*Beat thinks for a bit as the goat bleats again.*
Beat: “I know!”

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Allegretto: “You think?”
Beat: “It’s true! This one time in Ritardando, I gave a seagull some bread crumbs, and it brought me my hat that was stuck in a tree.”
Allegretto: “...”

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Sounds like a plan to me. Time for a small (and I do mean small) fetch quest!
 
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Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
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You get the same dialogue for all the pieces of paper, so I’ll skip over that bit and just pick them up.

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Thankfully you can pick up all the paper in one go; you don’t have to give them to the goats one at a time, which would have made this way more annoying.

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*The goat munches on the paper, bleats, and walks away. The process repeats for the second white goat. Allegretto then feeds the black goat...*

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Allegretto: “Come on, Mr. Goat. Won’t you pretty please let us by?”
*bleat*

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Success!

Allegretto: “Phew, finally we can get going.”
Beat: “See, Retto? It’s just like I told you. Animals listen to you if you give them something to eat.”

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I mean it’s worked out so far, right?

Now, before we cross the bridge here I’m just going to go back to Agogo Village real quick…

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♪♪~ Can We Be Both Different and Alike

Might as well take advantage of this while it’s still convenient to do so. That sorted, let’s get back on our way.

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♪♪~ Leap the Precipice

Beat: “Look over here!”

While I’m heading towards the bridge, I decide to take some photos of the Angel Goats. They won’t be worth as much cash as a boss photo, but it’ll be much easier to hit an A-rank. On the other hand, there won’t be any shops besides the one in Agogo Village for a while, so I’ll probably have to backtrack a bit to sell these. Not a huge deal.

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Here’s Nether Wave in action. It hits the enemy six times, with the final hit being a wave of crystalline-looking stuff that fans out in a wide cone (although that’s hard to see from this angle, alas). This is Polka’s best dark special for quite some time, and arguably period; it’s decent for building Echoes, and the last hit is both powerful and capable of hitting multiple targets with the right positioning. It’s pretty great!

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♪♪~ Dive into the Vast Expanse of Plains

The bridge has been thoroughly crossed, and we can keep making our way through the Chorus Plains. We’ll deal with that new, distressingly large enemy in a bit.

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You can just barely see it, but there’s a chest off in the distance on this ridge. We’ll deal with this Angel Goat first; this is the point where they start showing up in groups of three instead of just two, so keep that in mind if you’re having trouble fighting them.

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I’d say we’re doing just fine, though. Here’s a better look at Nether Wave, which did in fact just wipe out two Angel Goats in one go. Did I mention that it’s pretty great?

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Ignoring the giant green squirrel for the time being…

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Don’t mind if I do!

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Earth Shakers are the first enemy that can be considered a serious threat. They’re big, beefy, and have a bunch of highly-damaging attacks that can ruin your day if you aren’t prepared.

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Sludge is their least threatening attack, being a mid-range projectile that’s not too bothersome.

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Their standard combo is a punch with their weird wing-stub arms followed by a tail swipe; both are pretty slow and easy to guard.

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The Earth Shaker’s attack of the same name is its most dangerous one – it comes out super quickly and hits anyone nearby three times with a chance of knocking them down. You really want to guard this attack if you can, otherwise you’ll be hurting like I am here. They have one more attack that didn’t get used here, so I’ll show it off later.

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Oh look, it’s the goats that were blocking the bridge earlier, plus a few more. I bet that guy standing nearby is their shepherd.

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You know, I have just the thing…

*Handed over Long Johns*
Goatherd: “Hey, thanks! It was getting a bit chilly down south, if you know what I mean. I was just resting in the shade of a bush when all of a sudden, a goat came up behind me and bleated right in my ear! Needless to say I was surprised, and when I stood up my long johns got caught. It was terrible. If I give you this, would you mind giving me some privacy?”

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Goatherd: “Hey, come on. Give a fella some privacy. I can’t bring myself to change my clothes with you guys around.”

Right, sorry, we’ll be on our way. Thanks for the goat’s milk, though! I’m sure we’ll find someone who will want it more than us later on.

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Just circling back around to fight the monsters on the main path. It might look like I have the upper hand here, but Earth Shakers have this annoying habit of turning around to face you at the last second. There’s an easy way to guarantee an ambush if you really want to: just get into a fight with an enemy and immediately run away. This puts you in a flashing state on the field for a few seconds, and enemies won’t pay attention to you until it stops; this way you can position yourself right behind an enemy and immediately ambush them. Not strictly necessary, but it’s quite useful if you’re accidentally ambushed; that way you can recover from a bad situation and immediately turn the tables on an encounter.

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Sore Tail is the last attack that Earth Shakers have in their arsenal; it can hit multiple characters if they’re surrounding it, but it doesn’t quite have a full 360 degrees of coverage.

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Moving on from that, we’ll keep heading down the path. It’s uh, pretty long.

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At this point the path and the ridge meet up. Say, that looks like a house off in the distance. Maybe we should stop by and say hello.
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
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Dang, there isn’t a bridge across the lake; looks like we’ll have to take the long way around.

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“Hey that would make a pretty good desktop background” count: 9

At least the view is nice!

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Yep, sure is. Thanks, sign.

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This area isn’t too big, so it shouldn’t take long to circle around the lake, at least.

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The path is pretty narrow, though, making avoiding enemies tricky.

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At last, a save point! Feels like it’s been a minute since we’ve seen one of those. Our party setup is pretty good at the moment; I put Frederic and Allegretto in the first two active slots, but the third doesn’t really matter for reasons that will be made clear soon.

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Click to watch the cutscene and boss fight

♪♪~ No music

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Looks like we walked in on a bad situation that’s about to escalate. Whoever the floating dude with the cool scarf is, he sure isn’t being friendly.

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Polka has the right idea. Let’s go!

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♪♪~Opposition Resignation

Boss: Maledictor x2
HP: 27,500 (each)
EXP: 3,000 total (Xbox 360)/1,480 total (PS3)
So like, is that a mask or their face: Great question!

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Frederic: “You foolish creatures!”

So the boss theme might be playing right now, but I would call this more of a miniboss fight, really, for reasons that will be clear in the next update. It can still be challenging, but we should be fine.

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The Maledictors like to keep their distance, forcing you to come to them. This is less than ideal since they have a long-distance attack they can use anywhere on the battlefield.

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Spiritus can do some serious damage unguarded, and has a chance of knockdown as well. I end up whiffing the guard input during the second Maledictor’s turn, which leaves Frederic hurting a bit.

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You’ve probably noticed already, but we suddenly have a new team member! Viola here automatically replaces whoever is in the first active slot, sliding everybody over one space (and consequently forcing out whoever’s in the third slot); getting used to how she fights is one of the bigger challenges of this battle, really. She can do some cool stuff, but I’ll go over that next time; right now I’ll just cover the basics of her fighting style.

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Once I move everyone over to where they are, the Maledictors decide to engage the party at melee range. Their basic combo is a two-hit alternation between their staff (which can reach characters behind the target, as seen here) and their off-hand. It’s pretty slow and not much to worry about, really.

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They like to end their turns at melee range with Deathblow. The long animation can trick you into guarding too early, since the prompt doesn’t appear until right before it connects; this attack can also cause knockdown if it hits unguarded.

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The other Maledictor floats over to join the party, which is a big mistake.

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I flub the guard input, but Deathblow doesn’t hurt all that much – certainly not as much as Spiritus – and we’re in prime position to launch a counterattack.

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See, the Maledictors have made a grave tactical error and left themselves wide open to both be attacked from behind simultaneously, letting us build up Echoes super quickly. Viola is first up to bat; she fights by punching her opponents while holding a huge longbow in her offhand, which is awesome. Her melee attacks are pretty quick with only a slight pause in between combos, letting her build up Echoes reasonably fast.

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Viola: “Go up in smoke!”

Since she’s standing in the bosses’ shadows, this lets Viola use Bone Crumble, her dark special; it’s a seven-hit flurry of punches that leads into a graceful backflip kick, followed by a final shot from her bow. Pretty decent for building Echoes, and the final shot can do some serious damage if fully powered up.

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This sets up Allegretto nicely to launch an assault of his own.

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Allegretto: “Listen closely, to the angry winds of your requiem!”

And that’s one of the Maledictors down already! The other one is seriously hurting and won’t last long at this rate.

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It tries to pull one more trick out of its sleeve, an HP-drain attack (the first of its kind we see) that will heal the boss for the amount of damage it inflicts to everyone in range. It’s not especially powerful though, and the Maledictor retreats afterwards.

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Hey Viola, why don’t you nip this fight in the bud for us?

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Viola: “Huh! You better beg for mercy from this one!”

Thanks, Viola. Sacred Strike is her light special, and it has infinite range, so as long as she’s standing in the light (and isn’t blocked by an environmental object) no one is safe.
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
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♪♪~ Well-Done

Viola: “You’re a mess!”

Heck of an entrance into the party, I’d say! Allegretto gains a level from this fight, but we don’t get any Gold from it, which is kinda lame. Guess that’s what photos are for!

(Viola’s victory animation involves her throwing her longbow into the ground while she crosses her arms. It’s quite difficult to capture a victory pose while also showing the EXP value for the fight, which is why most of these post-boss screenshots look kind of awkward.)

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Click here to watch the rest of the update

♪♪~ No music

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Frederic: “Yes, they had the ability to use magic. Which means that they must be terminally ill, doesn’t it? But why on earth would they attack us like that? They had a strange, evil look in their eyes."

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I’m sorry what?!

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Polka: “But, lots of people in Ritardando are using it. That’s why floral powders aren’t selling.”
Allegretto: “So that’s it. The mineral powder. I knew something fishy was going on. It’s been bugging me for a while, and now I get it.”
Beat: “Huh? What do you get?”

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Beat: “Well, that’s an easy one. It’s because Count Waltz is doing something nice for his people.”
Allegretto: “No, dummy. You can’t see things for what they are because you’re always looking through that lens.”

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Beat: “Yeah, I guess. But that’s okay! ‘Cause, since mineral powder is so cheap, it can help lots of people.”
Viola: “True, mineral powder does cure most illnesses, but it has some very serious side effects.”

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Viola: “You saw it for yourselves.”
Polka: “That’s horrible.”

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*Viola leads the party to her house as the scene fades.*

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Seems like a nice place. And Viola’s made tea for everyone, which from the party’s perspective makes twice they’ve been served tea after beating up monsters in one day. Funny how that’s worked out.

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I’m not sure exactly what kind of animal Arco is – he seems like a cross between a rabbit and a squirrel – but he sure is adorable!

Polka: “Oh! How cute!”
*short pause*
Allegretto: “So mineral powder’s a poison!”

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Frederic: “What could Count Waltz’s real objective be?”
Viola: “That’s what I’d like to know, too.”

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Viola: “Who knows? I’ve heard that there are lots of dark rumors about the Count.”
Allegretto: “But if he wanted to kill his own people, there are easier and faster ways to go about doing it.”

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Frederic: “Is it really possible that he doesn’t know?”
Viola: “Well, mineral powder does have its uses, y’know. But just because it’s useful, doesn’t mean it should be used. Those involved might not realize what’s wrong until it’s too late.”

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Viola: “And since we can see what’s going on, it’s up to us to let them know.”
Polka: “They like the convenience of it so much, they don’t see the danger they’ll be faced with later.”

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Allegretto: “It’s true what they say, ‘the longer you wait, the harder the cure.’”

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Frederic: “Once we’re there, we may learn more. If possible, we should try to meet with the Count in person, and discuss his intentions directly.”
*As the others are talking, Viola gets up and walks over to a nearby window. At Frederic’s last line, she laughs.*

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Viola: “And since my bow has some life in it….”

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Viola: “Besides, I owe Count Waltz some payback. A bunch of my poor little goats have been killed because of what he’s done.”
Allegretto: “What? You’re telling me we’ve got another one now? Oh, terrific.”

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And on that adorable note, I’m gonna call the update here. This little trip just got way more urgent, but we’ve also gained a new ally to fight with us along the way. We’ll see what lies ahead soon…

Next time: The journey to Forte continues.
 
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