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

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
Glossary of Musical Terms

Andantino – A tempo marking, indicating that a piece or section of music should be played slightly faster than andante (about 80-108 bpm).

Legato – A kind of articulation that indicates the marked notes are to be played smoothly and connected, with no intervening silence when transitioning from one note to another. Marked with the word legato or with a curved line (called a slur) drawn over or under the affected notes, like this.

Étude – An instrumental composition that is written to provide material for practicing and perfecting a given musical skill/technique. Was not originally designed as a standalone concert genre, but was popularized as such in the Romantic Era by composers like Chopin (of course), Franz Liszt, and Charles-Valentin Alkan, among others.

Chorus – Has multiple meanings. Can refer to the chorus, the line or lines repeated throughout a song (also called a refrain), which in popular music typically contrasts with the verse melodically, rhythmically, and/or harmonically; the chorus effect, wherein multiple sounds are perceived as one; chorus form (more commonly called strophic form), a song structure in which all the verses or stanzas are sung to the same underlying music; or a chorus/choir, a musical ensemble made up of singers that may or may not have an instrumental accompanist, depending on the piece being performed.

Score – Aka sheet music, i.e. the piece of paper or .pdf with all the notes on it.

Viola – A string instrument in the violin family, slightly larger than one, with very similar construction, and deeper in pitch (but higher in pitch than a cello). Is unique among most instruments in that it primarily uses the alto clef. Perhaps partially because of this (nobody likes reading alto clef), the viola is the butt of a lot of jokes for some reason.

Arco – A directive for string instruments indicating it is to be played the normal way, by drawing the bow across the strings. This is the default way of playing for string instruments that use a bow, and is usually not specifically marked unless the music is returning to arco after a contrasting section using a different technique.
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
I have more art to share for the first time in a while, this time of Viola:

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Compared to other characters we've met so far, Viola's outfit is uh, a bit much, but I would not describe Eternal Sonata as a horny game - unlike some other RPG's I could name, the camera doesn't constantly zoom in on her backside or chest during fights or cutscenes, and there aren't any creepy moments passed off as ~wacky hijinks~.

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In any case, Viola herself rules; she's one of my favorite characters in the game, actually! Plus Kumiko Yoshioka worked some kinda-but-not-really subtle jokes into her design - she uses a bow in battle and has a pet named Arco, and her hair even kinda resembles goat horns. It's thematically consistent at least!
 
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Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
It's time to post some more music. Since Chapter 2 is named after one of Chopin's most famous études, I'll be focusing on those. He published three sets of études in his lifetime: Op. 10 in 1833, Op. 25 in 1837, and a set of three études without opus number in 1839, which were written for a piano method book by Ignaz Moscheles and François-Joseph Fétis.

Étude in C Major, Op. 10 No. 1
Étude in F Minor, Op. 10 No. 9

Some of the études in the first set (including No. 9) were written when Chopin was still a teenager, which is quite frankly absurd considering both their technical difficulty and how well put-together they are. No. 1 is primarily a study in arpeggios designed to stretch the fingers of the right hand, while No. 9 is made to promote flexibility in the wrists and fingers, particularly in the left hand. Many of the études Chopin wrote were given fancy nicknames after they were published, although Chopin himself never gave his pieces titles; No. 1, for instance, is nicknamed "Waterfall".

Pyotr Tchaikovsky - Piano Sonata in G Major, Op. 37
Jennifer Higdon - blue cathedral

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was a Russian composer active during the Romantic Era. He was one of the first Russian composers to make a lasting impression internationally, and indeed he's one of the most famous and most-performed Russian composers of all time. He wrote a ton of famous works that are still regularly performed and was a prolific composer, writing three ballets, eleven operas, seven symphonies, four concertos, several overtures and symphonic poems, and three string quartets. Famous pieces of his that you've almost certainly heard before - even if you don't necessarily know the title - include The Nutcracker, Symphony No. 4, Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet, and the 1812 Overture. As you might be able to tell, Tchaikovsky didn't really do short pieces, so it was kind of difficult to pick one to link here.

Tchaikovsky was gay, but he kept this hidden from all but his closest friends and his brother Modest (who was also gay); his homosexuality has at various times been suppressed/censored by the Russian government at least as recently as 2013, and musical scholars still debate exactly how comfortable Tchaikovsky was with it. Despite this, his music still has a firm place in the repertoire and is still regularly performed to this day.

Jennifer Higdon is an American composer who has been active for several decades and is currently one of the most performed living American composers. She has been a professor of composition at the Curtis Institute of Music since 1994, and currently lives in Philadelphia with her wife Cheryl Lawson, whom she met in band class in high school. blue cathedral is one of Higdon's most popular and most performed works; it is dedicated to the memory of her brother Andrew Blue Higdon.
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
Verse 2-2: The Abandoned Fortress

Welcome back to Eternal Sonata! We last left off in new ally Viola’s house after learning from her that mineral powder is actually real bad news if used long enough, making the party’s journey to Forte that much more urgent.

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♪♪~ Relaxing Place

Before we leave, there’s a few things we can look at in Viola’s place, like that obvious chest behind us.

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Don’t mind if I do. It’ll be a while before we can buy these in shops, so any free samples we can pick up until then will be gladly accepted.

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It’s too bad the dresser in the foreground is blocking it, I bet it’s a cozy little basket.

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Allegretto: “Yep, there’s the gift tag.”

That’s everything in this half of the house…

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I like the little detail of all the arrows in various containers. I bet Viola practices her archery skills a fair bit.

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There is actually a map of this game’s setting floating around out there; I’ll post it much later once we’ve been to some more places so as not to give away locations ahead of time.

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Allegretto: “’Essentials of Archery: 1. Aim at your enemy from afar. 2. Aim for your enemy’s head.’”

This is solid advice that will be relevant a bit later.

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♪♪~ Dive into the Vast Expanse of Plains

It’s at this point that I realized I forgot to grab an item in the Chorus Plains, and I should also sell off the photos I’ve taken before we press onward. I’m just gonna backtrack to Agogo Village real quick…

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♪♪~ Can We Be Both Different and Alike

Alright, our first A- and B-rank photos! This gives us some extra cash to stock up on items with.

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I go ahead and do that, and I also buy this armor for Polka, passing her old armor off to Frederic afterwards. We should be all set for the journey ahead.

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Just a bit of flavor text I missed the last time we were here. Onwards!

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Way up in the top-left corner of the Chorus Plains is what I believe is the third Club Clover we’ve picked up so far.

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These are some cute little signs, and completely unnecessary. We can see her house just fine, it’s the only one on the plains! Oh, hang on, who’s this old man?

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Letter Carrier: “After thirty years as a letter carrier, how could I make such a blunder? And right before my retirement!”
“This is terrible!”

Uh, three letters, you say? You wouldn’t happen to have lost them near the bridge by Agogo Village, would you? Oh, no reason. Now if you’ll excusemeIreallymustbegoing

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“Hey that would make a pretty good desktop background” count: 10

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Small detail I appreciate: you can hear the windmill whirring as you pass by it.

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I’m showing off this much of the little ramp we’re going up – even though it doesn’t take long to traverse at all – purely because I like the aesthetic details of it so much. The way the streams on either side babble as you pass by, the rainbow – it’s pretty great!

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Click to watch the cutscene

♪♪~ No music

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Wow, this is a huge cliff we’re about to pass over. Good thing the bridge is here…

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Polka: “This is a really old bridge.”

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You said it, Beat. That has to be at least a couple hundred-foot drop to the river below…

Viola: “Since I don’t usually take the goats this far out to graze, this is actually the first time I’ve ever crossed this bridge.”
Allegretto: “You have to cross the Cabasa Bridge… if you wanna get to Forte Castle from Ritardando.”
Frederic: “I understand.”

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Allegretto: “Bingo! Hey, you’re pretty darn smart, aren’t you? That’s right. And it’s also why there’s a fort at one end of the bridge. It’s called….”

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Allegretto: “Yeah, right! Fermata, that’s it.”
Polka: “Let’s be careful going across, okay? We don’t want to fall.”
Beat: “Uh, guys? I think I’m gonna wet myself.”

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Polka: “What?”
Allegretto: “If you slip or something, it’d be dangerous. You better hold my hand.”
Polka: “Um, are you sure that’s okay?”
Allegretto: “What are you talkin’ about? Of course it’s okay. Come on.”

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Viola: “Well, well, well. You’re quite the gentleman, aren’t you?”
Allegretto: “What? No, I wasn’t tryin’ to-- Oh, let’s just go!”
*He hurries off across the bridge with Polka in tow.*
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
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It might be hard to see since the cutscene fades out as soon as it happens, but Viola is sharing a knowing smirk with Frederic.

Weird bit of sass from her aside – Viola is not afraid of giving people sass – I like this little moment. Polka probably hasn’t been able to have much interaction with others because of nonsense about her illness, so Allegretto offering something as simple as hand-holding is a pretty big deal for her. You can hear it in her voice-acting if you watch the cutscene, but she sounds kind of overwhelmed (in a good way)! And from Allegretto’s reaction to Viola’s very mild ribbing, it seems like he’s starting to develop a bit of a crush on her. It’s all very sweet, at least in my opinion.

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Anyway, it looks like we’ll have to pass through Fort Fermata on our way to Forte.

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But before we can even cross the bridge, a wild cutscene appears!

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Click to watch the next two cutscenes

♪♪~ Strategy

I haven’t really talked about the music that plays during cutscenes, but this track is one of my favorites in that category. I love that it’s a duet between piano and timpani; that’s a very rare combination of instruments to use together, and outside of this game I can’t think of another piece off the top of my head that does the same thing. The little flourishes and pitch-bending that the timpani does throughout really adds some character to the menacing atmosphere the tune already has, and it works very well.

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Waltz: “I’ve no interest in hearing about your failure.”
Fugue: “Yes, but...”

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Waltz: “We’ve also come to learn that it only works with the type that glow. I don’t care what it takes, I must have them.”

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Waltz: “It’s our duty to protect the well-being of our citizens. And the role of our government is to serve its citizens to the utmost of its ability. If the powder’s effectiveness increases, the people will be happy. Will they not? I can already see the smiling faces of my subjects.”
*Waltz has a good laugh at that; Fugue looks on but doesn’t respond.*

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Waltz: “This is for our beloved subjects.”
Fugue: “Yes!”
*Fugue bows.*
Waltz: “I won’t listen to another report of failure. Understand?”
*Fugue takes his leave as Legato enters the audience chamber.*

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*There’s an awkward silence as the cutscene ends.*

The heck is Count Waltz up to? Seems like the only thing he’d stand to gain from increasing the effectiveness of mineral powder is killing the people who use it faster. Either he really doesn’t know about its fatal side effects – which I really doubt – or we don’t have the full picture yet. Guess we’ll have to wait and see.

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♪♪~ No music

For now we’ll press onward… straight into another cutscene at the front gate. This whole section is another weird pacing decision, but collectively it takes less than ten minutes to progress through so it’s not too bad. Still odd, though.

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Allegretto: “How’s it going Beat? So, did you wet yourself?”
Beat: “No! Of course not!”

Aw don’t tease the poor kid, that’s a pretty big chasm we just passed over.

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Polka: “After all, the only big city that’s south of here is Ritardando. Do they really need to keep watch from here?”
Allegretto: “That’s a good question. But just take a look around this place. I never said they were actually keeping watch.”
Frederic: “Yes. Now that you mention it, I do not see any soldiers posted here.”

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Beat: “Yeah, that is weird. I figured a fort of all places would have lots of guards.”

That is a good point – this place looks pretty old and run-down. It doesn’t seem like it’s seen serious use in at least a few decades.

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Allegretto: “This is the best spot for a fort if Ritardando was ever beaten by enemy forces.”

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Well that’s troubling; guess we won’t be taking a leisurely stroll through the place. We’d better stay on our toes.

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Good thing the front gate still works!

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♪♪~ A Wall With No Front or Back

Man, what a cool dungeon theme! Right at the beginning there’s a cool touch that doesn’t show up anywhere else in the soundtrack, in the form of those bells you can hear in the background during the intro. I’m pretty sure those are Almglocken, also called alpine bells or tuned cowbells. They’re what that last name implies: special cowbells that are tuned to specific pitches. They sound super cool, and more game composers should use them in their arrangements!

Anyway, the rest of the tune does some pretty cool stuff too. The time signature alternates between 6/4 and 5/4 depending on the section, and the low brass really gets a good workout throughout, even alternating (or sometimes carrying) the melody with the strings in places.

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I really like the overgrown look of this place – the crumbled stone, the plantlife that juts out of the walls and floor in odd places, etc.

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Handy save point. The path is straightforward for now, but that won’t be the case for long…

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Man, how long has this place been abandoned exactly? There seems to be a path heading off the side through a hole in the wall, but let’s try the door first.

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Crap, of course it wouldn’t be that easy. No other option but to take the long way around…

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Fort Fermata is the first real dungeon of the game. It consists of two large areas, a West Side and an East Side, with a small center area for traveling between them.

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On top of this, each side has two elevation levels to contend with, the ground floor we’re on right now and a series of pathways above us you can see in the screenshot. We’ll have to pass back and forth between the two elevations as well as both sides of the fort to progress, but our path might be impeded by rubble or overgrown plantlife depending on where we are, plus there’s another wrinkle to the place we haven’t come across yet. It’s easy to get lost here – especially with the game’s lack of maps – and I suspect at least a few playthroughs have stalled or ended here.

All that in mind, I’ll try and walk us through the place as clearly and concisely as possible. You’d better buckle up, because we’re going to be here for a while. At least the music is good though!

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♪♪~ Leap the Precipice

You couldn’t really see it since it was obscured by the chest, but there was an enemy on the rubble path in the previous screenshot; this is a good time to look at the new monster here, as well as the battlefield. It’s a pretty big arena that’s largely shrouded in darkness, and your party tends to be spawned rather far from the enemies. There’s a bit of randomness about the battlefield here, too: sometimes the torches in the middle won’t be lit, although the ring of torches around the edges always are.

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As for the enemies, we’ve encountered our first palette swap, the Lord of Darkness. Amazing name aside, it acts largely like the Florite Mice in and around Ritardando, but with beefed-up stats. The main difference is that their tails emit an aura of darkness instead of light, so your melee characters are largely stuck using dark specials against them.
 
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Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
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They also have a new mid-range AoE called Sneak Drop, but it’s not very damaging and they don’t use it very often – I think I maybe saw it three or four times the entire time I was in here. Right now they’re faster than us, but ambushing them from behind solves that problem nicely until we gain a few more levels. They also drop Floral Powders sometimes, which is handy if you forgot to stock up on them earlier or are running low.

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While I’m here, I think this is an excellent time to go over Viola’s unique mechanics. You might have been able to guess this already based on her choice of weapon, but Viola is the other long-range character in this game; however, she plays very differently to Beat.

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Viola: “Take that!"

Pressing and holding the attack button when not in melee range causes Viola to draw her bow; if you’re close enough she’ll aim automatically at whatever enemy she’s facing, but if you’re far away like I am here you’ll have to manually adjust the targeting reticle with the left analog stick. Since Lords of Darkness are closer to the ground we’ll generally want to aim a little bit above them to account for our arrows’ trajectory. Once you’re confident in your aim, you can start mashing the attack button to start shooting arrows.

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Viola is unique in that she is the only character who can deal large amounts of damage completely independent of the Echo Meter; the farther away she is from an enemy, the more damage her arrows will do. This can get absolutely ludicrous at extreme distances – say, from the complete opposite end of the battlefield, for instance – and with enough practice you can tear through bosses and enemies with high defenses like wet tissue paper, and even one-shot weaker enemies as seen here. You might think the damage would have been nerfed in the PS3 port, but for whatever reason it was actually increased in this version of the game.

Viola’s arrows do also add a small amount of time to the Action Gauge with each hit, unlike Beat’s rapid-fire shots, but this is a minor bonus in comparison to the sheer damage output they provide. Now that Viola is in the party we have a nice safety net to fall back on if we’re having trouble with certain bosses. I’ll try not to do this too much because I’m sure that would be boring to watch after a point, but some of the bosses in Chapter 2 mean business and I’ll absolutely be using Viola for those fights.

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Moving on from all that, we’ll climb up this ladder that we saw earlier.

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There are a few little rooms throughout Fort Fermata, and we’ll have to investigate several of them if we want to get through the place, but this room is locked and we won’t be able to see what’s inside for a long time.

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Oh, we should look at Viola’s stats before we progress through Fort Fermata any further. As you might expect she has a pretty high ATK, and her DEF is decent as well. She wears Light armor, as well as a line of Robes and Dresses that can only be worn by her and a couple other characters we’ll see much later; they’re sort of in between Light and Medium armor, similarly to Frederic’s Coats. Viola has been rebalanced a fair bit in this version of the game; in addition to the arrow damage increase mentioned earlier, her SPD has been lowered, and her MAG increases at a slower rate than before. Still, she’s a solid addition to any party combination, and we’ll be using her a lot throughout the game.

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With that out of the way, our journey through Fort Fermata continues. Actually, hold on, this enemy here is a good opportunity to show off Beat’s Sledgehammer special we still haven’t seen yet!

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It’s Beat’s first close-range special, a six-hit combo that ends in a big shockwave that hits anything in the immediate vicinity. The last hit has a chance of causing some major knockback, making it great for clearing the area of enemies if you’re surrounded. It’s debatable if you’d rather use this or Rapid Shooter while you’re in this dungeon; enemies do tend to spawn pretty far away from you, but with Viola in the party you aren’t totally without long-range options if you decide to have Sledgehammer equipped.

Originally Beat learned a different special at level 8, with Sledgehammer being instead learned at level 24 in the Xbox 360 release, but the developers swapped the two attacks for the PS3 port. We’ll of course cover the other one at the appropriate time much later.

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Right, where were we? We’ll check out that room below us in a minute, once we find a ladder back down to ground level.

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But before that, we’ll have to fight some Maledictors! This is why I mentioned that they weren’t too big a deal back when we fought them as a boss last time.

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Maledictors act exactly like they did in the previous update, but they’ve been downgraded to regular encounter status with stats to match. We already have some experience fighting them so they shouldn’t be too much trouble, and they give out pretty good Exp. Speaking of which…

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Allegretto: “I’m just gonna keep on fighting!”

♪♪~ Well-Done

The party will be gaining several levels throughout our trek through this dungeon. We’ll take a look at Void Edge a little later; it’s pretty good.

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♪♪~ A Wall With No Front or Back

At last we’ve reached the ladder at the end of the path, and can climb down it to investigate the room we saw earlier.

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Uh, oops, one other thing first – nearly forgot about this attack. It’s a good thing Lords of Darkness don’t use it often, because it kinda hurts! (Also yeah, it does make the screen do that briefly.)

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This is a hint at the mechanic we’ll be running into later in the dungeon. For now we’ll fight these Maledictors – this room is the first place they can be encountered in separate groups from Lords of Darkness. They’ll only come in pairs for now, but later on they’ll show up in groups of three.

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Beat: “I’m getting stronger and stronger!”
Frederic: “*chuckles*”

Fighting both groups of Maledictors pushes Frederic and Beat to level 12. Night Shot is what you’d expect from the name, letting Beat take photos in darkness (very useful for this area); we’ll look at Coup de Jarnac later.

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Polka: “Huh, phew!”

Maledictors occasionally drop Club Clovers, as well as a new battle-only item called an Odd Chocolate. They cost 3 points to put in the Item Set, and decrease a single enemy’s ATK by 5% for the duration of the battle. This is very handy for bosses if you can get it to stick, but right now we can’t really afford to use them; we need to save our meager 10 points for backup healing and Angel Trumpets.

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“At… I… found…. Moving… room… opens… path…. And… I… outside….”

Another hint. We’ll see just what this means in due time.

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There’s another save point right outside the floating room, and another enemy we can use one of our new specials on.

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Void Edge is the dark equivalent to Sky Divider, and it’s slightly more damaging. In the original release it was a late-game special, being learned at level 40, but it was swapped with another special for the PS3 port.

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Moving on, there’s another room near the save point, but we’ll be ignoring it.

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Instead we’ll climb up the ladder and make our way across the roof of the floating room…

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And snag this new weapon for Polka. I believe this is the first weapon we’ve come across that does more than increase ATK power, and the MAG boost is very nice indeed.

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That obtained, we’ll make for the far wall on this side of the fort. We can’t reach that chest right now, but rest assured we’ll be back for it later.
 
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Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
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From there we need to head all the way down…

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Past the other side of the pathway leading to the ladder to the floating room…

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Until we’re blocked by this pillar from moving south any further. This new pathway stretches all the way around the west side of Fort Fermata, and we’ll need to run across the whole thing, but first…

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We’ll climb down this ladder.

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From there we’ll run to another small room, and this time we will poke our heads inside.

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There are a few things of note in here, but first we need to take care of this Maledictor.

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This lets us obtain a new set of armor for Polka; in fact, she’s the only character in our party who can wear the Red Velvet.

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Indeed it is. The red dot shows where we are, but the blue rectangle is slightly misleading. The shiny orb behind us is a switch that moves the floating room to different parts of the fort, and there are a few of them in rooms like this; the blue rectangle on the reference map doesn’t show where the floating room is, but where it will be if you push the switch. This particular switch acts as a reset button, moving it back to its original position should we need it; that being the case, we don’t need to press it right now, and will instead make our way back to the ladder we descended earlier.

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Like so. Before we go any further, let’s look at Frederic’s new special.

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♪♪~ Leap the Precipice

Coup de Jarnac is a new dark special, and it’s a fair bit more powerful than Piu Grave. Rather than simply being a dark version of Coup de Grace, this special hits twice, and the second hit affects enemies behind Frederic as well. You have to be careful, though; for the second hit to connect on enemies in front of you you’ll have to be right up in their face (especially for smaller enemies), and if you aren’t lined up correctly there’s a chance you’ll whiff it. Still definitely worth using, though.

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♪♪~ A Wall With No Front or Back

Now begins the long circuit around the West Side.

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I’ve said it before, but I really do like the aesthetic of this place. That’s a hell of a strong tree to burst through the pathway like that!

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We’ll make a brief detour down this ladder before continuing on.

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Yoink! It’s not much, but I’ll take it.

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Back on the top pathway, we keep circling around…

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Past the locked room we saw back at the start of this dungeon…

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And to the other side of the pathway on the far wall. We couldn’t reach this area earlier thanks to some inconvenient rubble blocking the way. First we’ll head up here for another hint at the main navigational puzzle of this place:

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“Four… rooms… switches…. One… moves… back….”

This almost spells out how it works directly, if you’re having trouble figuring it out (and to be fair, with all the battles you fight in this place it can be easy to forget sometimes).

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Sweet, we’ve reached the Central Road. There’s a handy save point here if you need it.

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Here we are in the East Side at last. Nowhere to go from here but south, so let’s get to it.

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We’ll ignore this ladder for now; it doesn’t lead anywhere useful at the moment.

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Dang, another chest we can’t reach yet. We’ll be back for this one as well.

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There’s a ladder close by we’ll be making use of, and another save point we’ll ignore for the moment.

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Another switch room. This Maledictor rushes us as soon as we take a step, so we’ll have to deal with him first.

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This is a good time to point out that Sacred Strike can actually hit enemies in a small radius around it; it’s not just a single-target move like you might expect. Useful if you have to fight at close range instead of sniping dudes from afar.
 
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Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
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I’m glad the switch rooms all have reference maps, otherwise the puzzle would be much harder to keep track of.

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Unlike the reset room, we do need to push the switch here to progress.

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*The screen rumbles and something large is heard moving.*

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That done, it’s time to backtrack a bit.

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Back up the ladder and through the Central Road…

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Over to the long outside upper pathway…

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All the way back around to the far wall from the south…

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Past the broken pathway by the ladder to the floating room’s original position…

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Over to a ladder by its new position, courtesy of the switch we pushed. We’ll climb down the ladder, head through the floating room again…

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And open the chest we couldn’t reach before, finding a new weapon for Allegretto in the process. There are a few weapons in the game that cause additional status effects, either upon hitting an enemy or while a character has it equipped; in this case the Poison Blood has a chance of poisoning an enemy with each individual hit. The odds aren’t high, but even if it doesn’t proc very often the ATK boost is still pretty nice.

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New weapon in hand, we’ll enter this switch room next.

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Activating the switch moves the floating room over to the East Side, so we’ll need to make our way back there next. This involves circling all the way around the West Side once again, so I’ll just cut that out.

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All the way at the end of the far wall on the East Side is another ladder, which is not going to descend itself.

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At the end of this path is the new floating room location, which we will move through posthaste.

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This leads to a long pathway…

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Past a tantalizing chest that’s out of reach for now…

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Which leads to another ladder.

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Back across the top pathway…

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Across the roof of the floating room…

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Which leads to yet another ladder. Down we go!

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Back on ground level, we’ll cross this rubble path…

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Leading to another switch room.

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That’s another switch activated, and the floating room moved once again. Time to head back up the ladder we descended to get here.

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Moving across the roof of the floating room again…

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To climb down this ladder, leading to…
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
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A new weapon for Viola that we couldn’t reach earlier. This increases her ATK to the current highest in the party, which I am more than happy to accept.

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That gotten, we’ll head back up this ladder and across the roof of the floating room one more time…

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Down the ladder at the north end…

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And then up this ladder a bit south from there.

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This leads to the chest we passed by a while back, containing a new weapon for Frederic. The HP boost will help his survivability until we find the next Coat.

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We’ve found all the items in the East and West Sides of the fort and don’t need to move the floating room anymore, so now we just need to head to the end of this place. We’ll do that by staying on the top path…

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And circling all the way around the room…

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Until we reach the far wall from the north.

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At long last, we’ve made our way to the other side of the locked door we encountered way back at the start of the dungeon. That is uh, a big boy off in the distance there; we’ll have to fight it before we can leave. To that end I rearrange the Item Set a little bit and shuffle the party. I normally use Allegretto for this battle, but on a whim I decide to keep Frederic in the party instead.

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Just for posterity’s sake, I will point out that it took me a little over an hour and fifteen minutes to reach this save point. That’s kind of a step up from the Ritardando Sewers!

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Anyway, let’s go say hello, shall we?

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Click to watch the boss fight

♪♪~ A Flicker Which Divides Light and Darkness

Now that we aren’t getting bodied by Fugue, let’s talk about this track. It’s my favorite “standard” boss theme in the game, mainly because it does not let up for a second. I love how the brass and strings trade the melody back and forth, and the furious string runs that happen when they aren’t leading the tune. I also really like how it keeps you guessing throughout the run-time, changing key with little preparation for short periods, and even briefly reprising the intro before veering off in a completely different direction. It’s super hype and I love it.

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No dilly-dallying here, this thing wants to fight and has no time for a warmup.

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Boss: Killer Knight, Maledictor x2
HP: 102,165
Exp: 4,000 (Xbox 360), 4,260 (PS3)
Gold: 90
How does it even see out of that helmet: Beats me!

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Frederic: “How pitiful. You soulless creatures!”

The biggest challenge here isn’t really the boss itself, but rather its massive HP total, which is more than double the Ogre Champ’s. It’s a good thing we brought Viola along to help out with that!

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The Killer Knight’s standard attack is to alternate between swinging its two cleavers at you. It does this rather methodically so it’s not too tough to guard against.

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Red Death is a different story, though. It hits four times, can hit other characters besides the main target if they’re close enough, and can cause knockdown if unguarded, so it’s in your best interest to learn the guard timing pretty quick.

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The Maledictors aren’t really anything to worry about – they’re the same normal enemy they have been throughout Fort Fermata instead of the boss encounter they were in the Chorus Plains.

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White Whirl isn’t as rough to deal with as Red Death; it hits three times and also carries a chance of knockdown but isn’t nearly as damaging. It can also hit other characters if they’re grouped very close together, but spreading your party out even a little bit handily avoids this.

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Beat: “Say cheese!”

It’s better to have Night Shot here if you’re going to take photos of the boss, rather than Vivid Shot, since the battlefield is mostly in darkness. You’ll also want to try being farther away than I am here, so you have a better chance of fitting the Killer Knight fully in the frame.

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The general plan for this battle will be to have Frederic build up Echoes (and have Beat join in once he’s done taking photos) while Viola harries the boss from a distance. I’ll try to have her stay near one of the torches so she can fire off Sacred Strike, but if I have to move into the dark to get a better position it’s not a big loss. We’re actually kind of over-leveled for this bit so Frederic should be able to withstand the Killer Knight’s attacks pretty well for the most part, provided I don’t flub guard inputs.


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

If you’re having trouble with the fight or are under-leveled, a good tactic would be to spread out your party as far as you can; the Killer Knight’s attacks are all in melee-range, and forcing it to chase you around will give it less time to attack you. However, I think we have the situation well in hand.

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The boss has two other attacks that it uses less often – Plow, a series of three tail lashes that can hit other characters standing behind or beside it, and Stomp, which is uh, a stomp. It didn’t use the latter attack during this recording, though.

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Frederic: “Dance amidst the darkness, amidst the shadows!”

The fight ends up taking a little longer than it probably should have; I could definitely hit the Killer Knight with Viola from farther away, and I also kind of lose track of how many photos I’ve taken. But we’ve almost won at this point – just a couple more rounds and we’ll have this fight in the bag. Speaking of which...

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Frederic: “Hear my command and obey: disappear!”

Frederic brings us home with a decisive final blow. Thanks, Frederic!
 
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Albatoss

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

Frederic: “Go back, back into a nebulous dream.”

Heck yeah, full-party level-ups! That’s what I like to see. The Fort Fermata Key’s function should be obvious, while the Lace Veil increases the wearer’s maximum HP by 5%; this is going straight on Polka.

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Viola: “Maybe it’s time to upgrade!”

Viola learns a new special that will be very useful indeed; more on that next time.

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Our Party Level also goes up! More on that next time as well.

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Click to watch the rest of the update

♪♪~ No music

Seems like everybody made it out of the fight okay.

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Allegretto: “Nope. They’re more worried about an invasion from Baroque these days. They’ve probably pulled out almost all the troops from here.”
*short pause*
Frederic: “No matter how much time passes, war remains.”

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Allegretto: “For Baroque, it’s an easy way to shake up things in Forte, without getting their hands too dirty.”
Frederic: “Andantino?”

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Polka: “Wouldn’t a revolution be destructive?”
Beat: “But isn’t a revolution better than nothing? It may improve people’s lives a little, and that’s a good thing, right?”
Allegretto: “Hm, it’s not that simple, Beat. Think about everyone involved: Andantino, Baroque, Forte….”

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Frederic: “I would imagine they have their own agendas.”
Beat: “But one of them has to be the good guy, right?”
Allegretto: “Who knows? They might all be evil in their own way. Then again, they might all be right. It’s hard to be sure.”

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*While the group ponders this, the scene transitions to another place...*

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*The camera zooms in through the archway.*

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That’s the man with black hair speaking.

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Claves: “I’m sorry. But this is an important mission, so I want to make sure I get it right.”

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Falsetto: “Fine.”

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Jazz: “We’ll infiltrate the castle tomorrow at dawn.”
Claves: “But the castle gates are heavily guarded. What will we do about that?”

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I did not mean to make Falsetto look so smug here. Poor screenshot timing on my part.

Jazz: “Falsetto’s right. It won’t be that difficult a mission. We just have to bring the guardian back.”
Claves: “Excuse me, but why are we rescuing her anyway? I mean, how will this mission benefit Andantino?”

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Jazz: “So, it makes sense that they would want to detain the guardian and make her tell them about the glowing agogos.”
Claves: “The glowing agogos? But, what on earth does Waltz want those for?”

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Jazz: “Falsetto! If you don’t take this seriously, we’ll end up making a mess of even the easiest missions!”
Falsetto: “Huh, fine.”
Jazz: “Apparently, agogos dramatically increase the effectiveness of mineral powder. But it seems that only the glowing one have that effect.”

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Falsetto: “I guess from Waltz’s point of view… by multiplying the effect of the mineral powder with the glowing agogos, he’ll be multiplying the number of troops he has at his disposal.”
Claves: “I get it now. And then he’ll use those troops to fight against Andantino.”
Falsetto: “I don’t know about that. I seriously doubt he’ll be attacking Andantino anytime soon. He probably considers Baroque more of a threat.”
*Jazz starts to get up.*

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Looks like we have more people heading for Forte, and they have an idea of what Count Waltz is trying to achieve with the mineral powder. The situation just keeps getting more serious the closer we get to Forte…

Next time: Finally reaching our destination.
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
Glossary of Musical Terms

Cabasa – A percussion instrument of African origin, typically constructed nowadays with loops of steel ball chain wrapped around a wide cylinder. You hold the chain with your non-dominant hand to provide pressure, and the handle with your other hand, twisting the instrument back and forth. Used a lot in Latin music.

Fermata – A symbol in musical notation used to indicate that the note it’s placed above should be held longer than its usual duration. How long exactly that is depends on the performer or conductor, but it’s pretty common to hold the note for twice as long as normal. If a fermata is placed over a bar line, it indicates the end of a phrase or section of a work; if done in a concerto, this is the point where the soloist plays a cadenza.

Jazz – A genre of music that originated in New Orleans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that has roots in the blues and ragtime. Characterized by a strong emphasis on improvisation, the use of swing and blue notes, and the common presence of polyrhythms. Has its own musical theory that’s separate from the classical tradition and can get quite complex, and a long history that’s too much to get into here.

Claves – A percussion instrument consisting of a pair of small dowels that are traditionally made of wood. When struck together they make a bright clicking sound; sometimes the claves will be hollow and carved in the middle to amplify this sound. They’re important instruments in Cuban music, used to play a repeating rhythmic figure called the clave, which is also important in African and Brazilian music.

Falsetto – A vocal register just above the modal voice; it is also more commonly used to refer to a vocal technique that lets one sing notes beyond their normal vocal range. There’s a lot of technical stuff in the link that I don’t feel qualified to talk about, but it’s pretty easy to hear once you know what to look for - Staying Alive is sung almost entirely in falsetto, for example.

Hanon – One of the only times in the game a place or character is named after a real person, rather than a musical concept. Charles-Louis Hanon was a French piano pedagogue and composer from the Romantic Era; he’s primarily known for his work The Virtuoso Pianist in 60 Exercises, which is still sometimes used today for modern piano teaching.
 
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Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
Time for some more music:

Chopin: Étude in C Sharp Minor, Op. 10 No. 4
Étude in F Major, Op. 10 No. 8

The Étude No. 4 is nicknamed "Torrent", probably for the relentless barrage of sixteenth-notes that pass back and forth between the left and right hands; No. 8 is nicknamed "Sunshine", and the main difficulty of this piece is articulating the right-hand accompaniment clearly while playing the melody in the left hand.

Francis Poulenc - Concerto for Organ, Timpani and Strings in G Minor
Inti Figgis-Vizueta - a bridge between starshine and clay

Francis Poulenc was a 20th-century French composer and pianist, known both for the wide variety of style within his music and for being a member of Les Six, a loose group of French composers whose music is often seen as a reaction against both the ever-prevalent influences of Richard Wagner at the time, and the "impressionist" music of Debussy and Ravel. Poulenc himself was also openly gay; music scholars debate if the diversity of style within his music is reflective of some inner turmoil at his sexuality, but (and I am not a musical scholar nor an expert, just a bi person who likes classical music a lot) that just sounds like hot nonsense to me.

Inti Figgis-Vizueta is a transgender American composer based in New York. In addition to having been commissioned and performed by a bunch of people (full list here), she also curates for Score Follower, an online archive that focuses on finding and featuring queer and poc artists.

It occurred to me while I was doing some research for this post that there aren't very many trans classical composers being talked about, either as part of the repertoire or like, in general. This article is a good place to start, but if anyone out there has more examples I would love to hear them.
 
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Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
Verse 2-3: The Nervous Capital City

Hello and welcome back to Eternal Sonata! Last time the party crossed a big ol’ bridge and then made their way through an old fortress on their way to Forte. The journey continues today.

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♪♪~ A Wall With No Front or Back

Just going to take care of this before we leave. It’ll save a bit of time later.

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Over by the exit we find our second Score Piece; more on those later this update. Before we continue on, let’s look at what reaching Party Level 3 has changed for us, since we can see most of the changes without having to get into a fight.

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For starters, we can now equip two light and dark specials per character! The top special is what appears by default in battle; to use the other one you have to hold down the R2 button. Pretty simple to get used to, and very handy.

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Our Item Set capacity has also increased to 20 points! This gives us much more leeway in terms of backup healing items, and I go ahead and put a couple more Angel Trumpets into the set.

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Alright, let’s get out of here.

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♪♪~ Breeze the Conductor

Ah, this track is so bouncy. There are some lovely flute passages and harp flourishes here, and the melody is just gorgeous. This is also the most use the cymbals and snare drum see in the whole soundtrack, and I’m sure y’all know how much I appreciate that sort of thing by now.

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I gotta say, after the stuffy, ruined atmosphere of Fort Fermata, a trek through the lovely countryside is a nice change of pace.


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Gotta hit up that save point before we move on in earnest, of course.

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There are several little curls in the path throughout Hanon Hills; a few are empty like this one, but most of them have items for us to grab.

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I’m guessing that huge tower in the distance is connected to it. Let’s go introduce ourselves to that Earth Shaker before we go any further; you can’t see it here, but it’s guarding a chest, and it’ll also give us a chance to go over the other changes that Party Level 3 brought on.

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♪♪~ Leap the Precipice

The battlefield here is a bit special; the shadows at the top right come from the nearby rock formation, but the big shadow at the top left is actually from a cloud that slowly moves across the arena. This is the first time we’ve had to deal with the light/dark ratio of the battlefield actively changing on us throughout a given fight, and it won’t be the last.

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The Earth Shakers here change into Dark Bats in shadows and vice versa; once transformed, Dark Bats gain higher attack and defense at the cost of less HP. If they stay as Earth Shakers, they have the same stats they did on the Chorus Plains, making them the easier opponent of its two forms.

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As for us, our Tactical Time has been reduced to 3 seconds, and we now only get 4 seconds on the Action Gauge instead of 5. This gives us overall less time to think and act during our turn, but it doesn’t affect damage output as much as you might think; we can still build Echoes pretty reliably, and we’re getting strong enough to not really need the one extra combo we could perform before.

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This isn’t related to our Party Level, but it is important to consider. Some enemies, like the Dark Bat, have high enough defenses to take 0 damage from certain hits in a character’s combo, and 0-damage hits do not build Echoes. Viola can get around this by shooting at an enemy from far enough away, and Beat’s rapid-fire shots can always deal at least 1 damage.

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Right, all that over with we’ll gladly take this Club Clover and move on.

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Further down the path, there’s a fork in the road that seems like it leads somewhere important. Let’s take care of that enemy first.

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Heal Arrow is the first multi-target healing special we’ve learned, and it’s pretty good! It heals every party member, and if it’s fully powered up it’s almost a full-party heal in our current state. It’ll fall off in usefulness later on since Viola’s MAG isn’t the greatest, but right now it’s very good at keeping us from dipping into our supply of Club Clovers unless absolutely necessary. However, keep in mind that it’s slow to use at 3.5 seconds, and unless you do nothing else that turn it’s very difficult to use more than once at a time.

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The Dark Bat’s normal attack is this weird sonic wave. It comes out pretty fast but the rhythm of it is easy to pick up on.

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You uh, really don’t want to mess up the guard input on Tail Dive though. That’s almost half of Polka’s HP in one go!

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Anyway, let’s see what’s over here on this conspicuous side path.

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Well that’s a weird symbol. Let’s take a closer look…

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Click here to watch the (very short) cutscene

♪♪~ No music

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*Allegretto puts his head closer to the rock and listens.*

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Huh, that’s odd. Can we take a closer look?

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Guess not. Oh well, I’m sure this won’t come up again. Moving on!
 
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Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
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Another new enemy awaits us shortly afterwards. Let’s go say hello.

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♪♪~ Leap the Precipice

Eternal Greens behave almost exactly like Angel Goats do and have most of the same attacks, although Ride of Three Hundred has been upgraded to Ride of Six Hundred, which of course deals more damage.

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Apart from the increased stats, Eternal Greens do have two new moves: an annoying heal they can use on each other if you don’t get rid of one quick enough, and a hind-kick that’s pretty easy to guard against and doesn’t see much use.

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♪♪~ Breeze the Conductor

Hey, we’re halfway through Hanon Hills already! At this rate we’ll be in Forte in no time.

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♪♪~ Well-Done

Polka: “*giggles*”

After fighting some more Eternal Greens, Polka gains this very important level. Trust me when I say that Earth Heal is really good.

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You can just barely see it, but there’s a chest off at the end of that little curl in the road. But before we can get that…

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We need to take care of this situation.

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♪♪~ Rapid Fire

*Panicked whinny*

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This shall not stand!

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You know, it’s a real pity those Earth Shakers spawned right next to each other.

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A real pity for them, that is.

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*He looks at his horse.*
Item Merchant: “I thought I’d give this fella a rest so I stopped my cart, but then those monsters showed up and caught me by surprise. I’m so glad my merchandise is okay. Oh, that’s right, I forgot to mention that I’m a merchant. I pack all my goods on my cart and sell my wares wherever I go.”

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This is sadly not actually reflected in his prices, but it’s a nice thought I guess. =V

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*whinny*

You’re welcome!

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We can rest here for free if we want, and I think I’ll do that.

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That sounds real nice, not gonna lie. But anyway, it’s time to do some shopping.

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Not bad, considering we didn’t have any photos above C-rank! That last photo hurts to look at, though. 1 Gold? Ouch.

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I consider buying this new umbrella for Polka, but I decide not to for now. I do take the opportunity to stock up on some items, though.

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I also buy some Fancy Clothes for Polka and Beat, as well as the Coachman’s Coat for Frederic, which is a substantial DEF boost over what he’s currently wearing. The increase in Tactical Time from the Clothes is a nice bonus, as well.

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Newly prepared for the road ahead, we’ll head over to that chest we saw earlier before setting off once more.

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Oh hey, there’s a man at the top of this hill. Let’s see what he has to say.

“You climbed that hill in this weather? I’m dripping with sweat. Phew. Oh! That’s goat’s milk, isn’t it? Do you think I could have some?”
*Handed over Goat’s Milk*
“Ah, that was refreshing. Thank you very much. This is something I bought in Count Waltz’s town. I’ll give it to you in exchange.”

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“So, where are you all headed? I’m on my way to Ritardando.”
“Leaving so soon? Well, take care. I’m gonna rest my feet here a little longer.”

Thanks for the piggy bank! I don’t think we can fit all the money we’re carrying inside of it, but maybe someone else in Forte will have a use for it.

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Almost there! Just a little bit farther.

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I really like the different camera angles you get in this section of the game; they show off the surrounding countryside quite well.

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I’ll take that, thanks.
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
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This is the last section of Hanon Hills; it’s also the shortest, which is nice.

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At this point there’s not much separating us from Forte besides a winding path and a few more enemies. Speaking of which, this is a good time to look at Earth Heal before we leave this place.

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♪♪~ Leap the Precipice

Earth Heal is a powerful healing special; those numbers you see haven’t been boosted with Echoes at all. If you do save up your Echoes it’s practically a guaranteed full-party heal. But there’s a catch: Earth Heal with heal everyone in range except Polka. For that reason you should still keep some backup healing in your Item Set, since Orange Glow is starting to fall off in usefulness.

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♪♪~ Breeze the Conductor

Forte is just around this bend.

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Before we get there, though, we should pick up this very interesting item. Hell Mustard is a battle-only item that costs 2 points to put into the Item Set, and temporarily puts the user into Burst status. Burst is sort of a buff and a debuff at the same time; it doubles the affected character’s ATK while also cutting their DEF in half. This, in effect, turns a given character into a glass cannon for a few turns, letting them chew through tougher enemies while becoming much easier to KO. I don’t tend to make use of Burst very often, but I’ll hold onto this anyway in case I decide to try it out against a tough boss.

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The last enemy between here and Forte decided to give me a piece of its mind before I leave the Hanon Hills entirely. As you can see here, Flutter kinda hurts!

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But enough about that, we’re finally here!

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Click to watch the cutscene

♪♪~ Trembling Homefront

Does anyone else get a major Star Ocean vibe from this track? It might be just me, but it sounds like something you would hear in one of the first two games especially. It sells the uneasy atmosphere of the place pretty well, what with its tendency to stay on one chord for prolonged periods throughout the piece. This is probably my least favorite town theme in the game, but it still does its job well at least.

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Finally, we’ve arrived at last. Feels like it took weeks to get here. =V

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Polka: “Yes, you’re right. All of today’s public audiences with the Count must be over by now.”
Allegretto: “Huh. Guess we’ll have to give up on it for today.”

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Good idea. But before we do that, I don’t think it would hurt to look around first.

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It’s worth noting that entering Forte City for the first time is the point of no return for Chapter 2. If you missed a step in the trading quest or forgot to pick up some items along the way, be sure to take care of that before you arrive here (and yes, you can backtrack all the way to Ritardando if you want, although I don’t think you can go to Tenuto Village if memory serves).

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“He thought I’d never be able to finish them all. Made me so mad! I wouldn’t let him beat me though. I gave it my all and finished everything in one day. That’ll show him! Ha! I feel great!”
“Now it’s time for a well-deserved break!”

I hope for your sake your boss wasn’t just manipulating you into doing more work…

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“What do you think I should do about it? Do you think I need to work out?”
“Should I start jogging? Maybe squats would help.”

Sorry dude but you’re asking the wrong guy; I don’t exercise as much as I should, personally.

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Allegretto: “Yikes! Better mind our manners in this town.”

Wow that doesn’t send a great message at all. Maybe you should look into changing that particular rule, Forte City, just sayin’.

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“’Are you prepared to back up that statement? You’d better be serious when you tell a lady you’re gonna make her the happiest woman in the world!’ After that, he looked sort of ill and took off running.”
“You can’t say that kind of thing unless you mean it.”

True enough, I suppose.

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“No way, you’re kidding! My Darling will be home any minute! I’ve got to go and get dinner ready!”

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That is totally okay. Some people just don’t want that kind of relationship.

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“The scoundrels! They use the cover of darkness to hide their fiendish deeds.”
“We can’t let things like that disrupt the lives of the people. This is when we guards are put to the test.”
“Hmm. That guy looks shady.”

How do you even see out of that helmet? Looks like you’ve got kind of an Exdeath situation going on.

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Allegretto: “Gross! I got something slimy on my hand!”

I don’t mean to be rude but that’s kind of 100% your fault, dude.

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Er, sorry to bother you. We’ll see ourselves out.

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“I’m also taking it more than I should. No matter how good it is, I guess I shouldn’t over do it.”
“I’ve already gone through five bottles of medicine today.”

Yikes! Trust us, you should really stop taking that mineral powder, as soon as possible.

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“As I recall, it was a young boy and his sickly mother living on their own. Then one day, they just weren’t there anymore. Where could they have gone?”
“He was such a good son, that boy. He took care of everything for his poor mother. Did the cooking, and everything else, too. But then the two of them just up and vanished. I wonder whatever happened to them?”

I hope they just moved out of town and it wasn’t anything worse than that…

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A tavern, you say? We’ll check this out a little later.

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Guess we can’t shop for the time being. Maybe we’ll do that after we’ve spent the night at an inn.
 
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Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
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Always watch where you’re going, kids.

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Let’s check this out real quick.

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Darling’s Brother: “Hold on one second. I’ll just move that one there….”
Darling: “When I finish this bit, we’ll be all done for the day.”

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Alright, guess we can’t look around this area right now. Back to town.

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I was about to describe this tavern as “cozy”, but I realized that I’ve been using that word a lot already throughout this thread. Do that much more and I’d have to keep track of a separate counter!

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Heartbroken Man: “No, no, it’s not that she turned me down. More than anything, I want her to be happy, and I’ll do whatever it takes to make that happen. It’s just that something she said suddenly made this huge wave of doubt come crashing down on me. I felt so pathetic when I realized I’d ended up coming here. I can’t forgive myself for running away.”
"It’s just no use. Who would ever want a pathetic guy like me?”

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Always watch where you’re going, kids.

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Let’s check this out real quick.

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Darling’s Brother: “Hold on one second. I’ll just move that one there….”
Darling: “When I finish this bit, we’ll be all done for the day.”

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Alright, guess we can’t look around this area right now. Back to town.

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Sounds like a rough situation. Try not to drown your sorrows too much, man.

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Tipsy Old Man: “It’s my dream to fly like a bird some day. I’ve been trying to figure out how to make it happen for eighty years now.”

That’s an impressive work ethic if nothing else.

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Proprietress: “This man is really depressed about something. I wonder what happened.”
“You really shouldn’t drink when your spirits are low.”

I mean, I don’t see you refusing him a drink… anyway, let’s head upstairs.

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Hey, a piano! We’ll mess with that in a bit.

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Uh, right. Sorry. We’ll be taking our leave now.

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Somebody’s had a bit too much to drink.

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“That’s right. I can tell that everything’s looking up for you.”

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“Why won’t they give me a chance?”

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“There’s just nothing finer! Beer is the greatest. It’s no exaggeration to say I live for my first taste of beer every day.”

Can’t say I share the same enthusiasm for alcohol, but you do you.

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“A lot of mining goes on at Mt. Rock. And I’ve heard they’re mining what I think are called ‘mineral stones’ on the Forte side, too.”
“Not long ago one of the men working at the mine told me that the excavation work is pretty brutal.”
“That reminds me, the miners staged a rebellion some time back. It was stamped out pretty quickly by the army though. What was the name of the leader of the miners? Hmm. No, I’ve forgotten what it was. I’m bound to remember sooner or later. Come back and ask me again sometime.”

Some interesting backstory on the actual mining of mineral powder here. I wonder who staged the rebellion? Maybe we’ll find out later.

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So this is cool – there are a couple places in the game where you can listen to a Chopin piece that isn’t part of one of the chapter-specific history lessons. I wish there were more of them, but the fact that they exist at all is pretty rad.

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♪♪~ Mazurka in B Minor, Op. 33 No. 4 (recommended listening)

Once you press X to confirm, the piece will play start to finish, provided you don’t press anything else (which will stop the piece) until it’s done. You don’t get anything afterwards, it’s just a cool thing you can do if you'd like. You can listen to it as many times as you want, but once is enough I think.

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♪♪~ Trembling Homefront

We might not be able to see Count Waltz today, but we can at least poke around the castle courtyard a little.

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Polka: “Are you all right?!”
“M-my chest….”
Polka: “Your chest hurts? I’ll use my magic to--”

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Allegretto: “Hey!”
Polka: “It’s okay, Allegretto. I’m used to it. Let’s just go.”
*She walks off.*

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Don’t say we didn’t try to help, jerkwad.

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“Why’s it so hard to save money? Just when you think you’re almost there, it disappears right away. Why is that? My dad said I’d find happiness if I could save up my money.
*Handed over Piggy Bank*
“What? You’re giving this to me? Yay! Thanks a lot! If I put my money in here right away, it won’t go anywhere. These shoes are too big for me, so I’ll give them to you.”

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“I’m saving up happiness bit by bit in this piggy bank.”

Heck yes! The Speed Shoes are one of the best accessories in the game; they increase the wearer’s movement speed in battle. I like to put them on Viola so she can get into prime archery position faster, but they’re good on any character. This isn’t the end of the trading quest like you might think it would be, so we’ll have to give these up at some point, but we’ll get another pair down the line to replace them so it’s no big deal.

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Allegretto: “Nah, it’s not worth it.”

I actually agree; we need every bit of Gold we can get our hands on!

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Gentlemanly Pop: “Surely this is some kind of sign! Won’t you play a session with my score piece?”
 
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Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
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Click here to watch the Score Piece tutorial

At last we can get into one of the game’s meatier sidequests. The game gives a good explanation of how it works; I’ll explain it here, but you can also watch it in the link above if you want.

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Score Pieces are essentially small fragments of music you find all throughout the game; you can bring these fragments to certain NPC’s to perform them together. Pop’s Score Piece is at the top, while our collection is at the bottom.

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The idea is to try and match your Score Piece with the other person’s, and if they’re a close match musically, you’re rewarded with items.

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There are four ranks you can earn for a given session, depending on how well the two Score Pieces match: F, B, A, and S. An F-rank is a total failure and doesn’t get you anything; B-ranks generally get you healing items, while A-ranks grant you a unique item you can’t get anywhere else. S-ranks are special cases for unusual combinations of Score Pieces that match in surprising ways; these get you unique items as well, including pieces of equipment in a few cases.

In this case, playing our Score Piece #1 with Pop’s gets us a B-rank, which gives us…

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Not bad, but we can do better.

Gentlemanly Pop: “Oh, you again? Want to play a session? Think you’ll do better this time?”

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As a matter of fact, I do. Thanks to our second Score Piece, we get an A-rank.

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This is also where the EZI sidequest starts in earnest. Throughout the game we’ll come across these unique EZI items, mostly through playing Score Pieces with the right people, although there are one or two exceptions. They’re all joke items; some of them are mildly beneficial, some have strange effects not found anywhere else, and a few are outright harmful. The number 321 tends to appear where these items are concerned, for some reason.

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In the EZI Cracker’s case, it costs 20 points to put into the Item Set, and heals the user for all of 1 HP (although the game doesn’t tell you this). Collecting every EZI item would give you an achievement in the Xbox 360 version of the game, but the PS3 port doesn’t have trophies for whatever reason. There is, however, one EZI item exclusive to this version of the game that does something very special indeed. We’ll look into that much, much later; in the meantime we’ll keep an eye out for more EZI items.

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“You don’t think I’d let you into Count Waltz’s castle, do you? Now scram!”
“Go away!”

Alright alright, we get it. I’d like to see you try and stop us tomorrow, though!

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Yeah, about that… uh, let’s just say you don’t have to worry about it anymore.

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Alright, this is the only building in town we haven’t looked at yet; this has gotta be an inn.

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Click to watch the cutscene

♪♪~ No music

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For ease of transcription, this girl’s name is Koto.

Koto: “If he gets caught goofing off again, he’s gonna be in big trouble!”
Allegretto: “Hey, what’s the matter?”
Koto: “Oh, did you want to stay the night? My friend Phil is supposed to be watching the front desk right now, but I can’t find him anywhere. Knowing him, he’s probably run off to play somewhere in the city.”

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♪♪~ DANTOTSU! (the all-caps are important, you see)

Koto: “He’s practically risking his life by wandering off like this.”
Allegretto: “Aren’t you overreacting? Being punished is just a part of learning how to behave.”
Koto: “It’s not that simple. You don’t know what Phil’s mom is like! It’ll be terrible if she finds out.”

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Clearly Beat is the only one who understands the gravity of the situation.

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Allegretto: “Huh? Why us?”
Koto: “Don’t you feel sorry for poor Phil? Please go find him. You’ll be saving his life! Literally!”

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Okay then, I guess we’re stuck finding this kid since no one else is at the front desk right now. Commence Operation: Find The Missing Kid!

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♪♪~ Trembling Homefront

Koto: “That Phil! I wonder where he’s gotten to.”

That’s a great question… Anyway, before we go look for Phil, there’s a couple things we can look at while we’re in the inn.

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Right, that’s everything here. Let’s go ask around about Phil outside.

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“After that? The man chased him away when he woke up.”
“He knows his mother would scold him for playing pranks, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s hiding out somewhere.”

We have a lead now, albeit a small one; if we can find the guy who Phil drew on he might be able to point us in the right direction.

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That must be a pain to scrub off the helmet.

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“What’s that? You want to know if I’ve seen him? Hmm, can’t really say without a better description of him.”
“I haven’t really been paying attention so I don’t know. Sorry."

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Darling: “I don’t think he came near the cliffs.”

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I guess we can cross that off the list, at least.
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
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Allegretto: “’One meal per person, per day! More than that, and the Iron Mask will cry.’ The Iron Mask is a wimp.”

Missed this my first time in here. The search continues!

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Shopkeeper: “I told you before, I’m not giving you a cent!”
Moocher: “It won’t be pretty if I turn into a wolf! I might go nuts and trash this whole town!”
Shopkeeper: “Go right ahead! I need money more than I need this town anyway!”
Moocher: Whoa, how heartless! You’re terrible, you hypocrite!”
Shopkeeper: “Hmph, call me whatever you want!”
Moocher: “Drat! Huh?”

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Aw man, and we just found some at the inn. Fine, if it’ll get you to leave the shopkeeper alone.

Moocher: “Huh? Really? This is my lucky day! I guess it doesn’t hurt to ask. All right! I’m going to the tavern with this money! I can drink tonight, baby!”
*He walks off.*

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Well, we can buy stuff now, but that doesn’t help us find Phil. Let’s check the tavern.

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Proprietress: “Phil played a prank on him and he was very upset. I’ll bet he knows something.”

Another lead! Back outside, then.

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Tipsy Old Man: “Buurrp! Ph… il?”
“Oh! I remember now! That’s the little brat who drew all over my face! He ruined my beauty sleep. But I have a black belt in judo! Just as he was painting on the finishing touches, my sixth sense tingled, and I opened my eyes! He must have been frightened by my fierce gaze. He took off so fast, he forgot his brush.”
“Huh? Phil? Oh, right. I took off after him, thinking I’d teach him a lesson. But he’s a fast one, I’ll give him that.”

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Tipsy Old Man: “I wouldn’t think he’d go out to the cliffs though. Why don’t you ask one of the guys building the fence out there?”

Oh man, this is bad; there’s a chance Phil could have fallen off the cliffs, and we don’t know how far down they go. I have a bad feeling about this…

Next time: Investigating the cliffs near Forte.
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
Glossary of Musical Terms

Mazurka – A Polish folk dance in triple meter, usually in a lively tempo, with strong accents placed on the second or third beat of a given bar. It became popular in ballrooms throughout Europe in the 19th century, partially due to Chopin himself, who wrote at least 59 of them between 1825 and his death in 1849, although his mazurkas differ from the traditional dance in some ways.

Maestro – An honorific title of respect, most commonly used in addressing or referring to conductors, but can also refer to other respected musical figures. Also used in Italian opera to refer to specific musicians who have important positions within the production.

Popular/Pop music – Apparently these two terms are not interchangeable! You learn something every day. Anyway, they both refer to music that is uh, popular with general audiences and is the stuff you tend to hear on the radio, although the latter term is a subset of the former.

Koto – A Japanese stringed instrument. Has 13 strings that are strung over an equal number of movable bridges; you change the pitch of the strings by adjusting the bridges before playing. You play a koto by plucking the strings with three fingerpicks worn on the thumb, index, and middle fingers. There’s a cool fight scene in Kung Fu Hustle involving a koto if you want to look it up (slight nsfw warning if you do though).

I’m also pretty sure that Phil is a sneaky reference to “philharmonic”, which is just another name for an orchestra.
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
Here's some more music:

Chopin: Four Mazurkas, Op. 33

This is the full set of mazurkas that the piece in the previous update comes from. Chopin regularly published sets of three or four (or in one case, five) throughout his life, and as far as I know wrote and published more mazurkas than any other classical composer I can think of.

Maria Szymanowska - Caprice sur la romance de Joconde

Maria Szymanowska was a Polish composer from the early Romantic Era, who has the distinction of being one of the first professional virtuoso pianists in 19th-century Europe; she was also one of the first pianists to perform memorized repertoire in public concerts, beating out people like Liszt and Clara Schumann by at least a full decade. Before Chopin came along, Szymanowska had published the largest collection of mazurkas to date, with a book of 24 such works (all of them less than a minute long, hence my linking the Caprice instead).

A capriccio, or caprice, is a piece of music free of any standard form and lively of character; it's essentially a loose framework to let the composer do what they want without getting yelled at by the musical establishment for not following genre conventions.
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
Verse 2-4: Cliff-sides and Confrontations

Hello and welcome back to Eternal Sonata! Last time the party finally arrived in Forte and found a place to stay the night, only to be stopped because nobody is actually running the front desk. We need to find a kid named Phil who’s went missing, so let’s get to it.

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♪♪~ Trembling Homefront

But before we do that, let’s go shopping first. I buy this sword and the Full Plate for Allegretto (the first set of Heavy armor we’ve come across), the Wolf’s Fang for Beat, and the Pair Jacket for Viola (which reduces the wearer’s chance of getting poisoned).

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Much obliged.

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Click to watch the (very short) cutscene

♪♪~ No music

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*He picks it up.*

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*The party looks out over the cliff.*

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It sure looks that way… We’ll have to make our way down to find him.

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Thankfully there’s a convenient rope right by where we were standing.

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♪♪~ The Posture You Do Not Despise

This piece is… quietly dramatic, if that makes sense. Even in the loudest/most intense parts it never quite feels out of control, probably because of the relatively slow tempo. It’s a nice change of pace from the other new tracks we’ve heard in Chapter 2 up to this point. I also appreciate the metallic percussion that’s used; apart from the tubular bell that sounds out occasionally, there’s some tasteful use of bell tree as well.

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Assuming that Phil didn’t just climb down the ropes here…

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Then he’s fallen a long way down. We’ll just have to hope he’s okay as we traverse the cliffs.

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Our main method of vertical traversal is these ropes tethered to the cliffs; we’ll have to climb down a bunch of them to reach the bottom.

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On the plus side, we’ll be treated to some lovely sights on the way down. For what’s essentially a filler area, the developers really went all out on the visuals for the Glissando Cliffs; the plantlife that’s growing everywhere is just gorgeous.

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Huh, there isn’t a rope leading downward here. How are we supposed to keep going?

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Why, by jumping off the nearby ledge, of course! We’ll be doing this a bunch, too.

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The items here will often require us to climb a rope to reach otherwise inaccessible platforms. Not too big a deal.

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After hopping back down to where we were, we press onward, or downward as it were...

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Around this tree…

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And over to the first enemy of the area. Let’s go say hi.

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♪♪~ Leap the Precipice

The battlefield for Glissando Cliffs is mostly in light, save for a thin strip of darkness at the top and a small patch being cast by that rock. It’s also much smaller than the past couple battlefields we’ve had to fight on, making it easier for both sides of the battle to close in on each other.

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Sweet Whispers are the main enemy here, and they’re actually weaker than the Dark Bats we encountered on the Chorus Plains (which is good because those were a pain to deal with), but to compensate they have a couple different status-effect attacks. I manage to block them all here – it’s worth noting that blocking a status attack guarantees protection from its effects – so I’ll show them off later.

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Their basic attack is the same as the Dark Bat’s, so no worries there.

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Moving on from there, we’ll hop down a couple ledges…

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And meet this man just kinda chillin’ here.

Wiseman Maracas: “Wait, what’s this? Those eyes are filled with doubt. This will never do, the youth of today are so jaded. You’ve got to be more open-minded. Here, let’s rehabilitate your heart by playing a session.”

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Unfortunately, neither of our Score Pieces are a match for his; we’ll have to come back later once we’ve found some more.

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Wiseman Maracas: “It’s going to take quite some time to rehabilitate your heart.”

Yeah yeah, we know. Let’s just get going, we have a child to find.
 
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Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
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Just a quick hop down to the next enemy.

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♪♪~ Leap the Precipice

Unfortunately I flub the guard input here and get hit with a new status effect called Darkness Body.

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Like the name implies, Darkness Body causes the affected character to project an aura of darkness around them, and it also prevents them from using light specials; any character standing in the aura will also only use dark specials. It’ll wear off after a few turns, or you can just win the fight, since all status effects are removed at the end of a battle.

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Sweet Whispers transform into Caravan Crabs in the dark; they have much higher defenses in this form, and access to a different set of attacks. Poisonous is the one they use the most, and does what you think. For situations like this, you can either move the character with Darkness Body away from the enemies, causing them to revert back to Sweet Whispers, or you can spam specials on them (or snipe them from a distance with Viola).

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♪♪~ The Posture You Do Not Despise

Now that that’s out of the way, we can move on.

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The area transitions in the Glissando Cliffs are kind of abrupt; not a complaint, just an observation.

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Anyway, let’s keep pressing onward. The path forward is off to the left, but we want to climb down the next rope first.

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I love that this item is called Hell Mustard. It’s just so extra.

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Back to the main path and straight into another enemy; encounters here are often positioned in such a way that you can’t really avoid them without some very careful maneuvering.

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It’s a good thing Viola blocked that, otherwise we’d get hit with another status that I’ll go over later. It’s doubly important to block because Supersonic can hit other characters nearby if they’re close enough.

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As for the Sweet Whisper’s other attacks, Night Flutter hits characters in a line (you can see Beat taking damage even though the numbers haven’t popped up yet), and Side Dive is a mildly-damaging single-target move that always manages to fake me out and guard too early.

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After that fight, we need to slide down this rope behind the rock outcropping. This area has you going behind scenery a fair few times, actually; it’s pretty neat.

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From here we’ll head left; both the ledge and the rope eventually meet up at the same place, but the ledge has an item waiting for us at the end of that path.

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The Silver Necklace is a very slight upgrade over the Copper Necklace, increasing the wearer’s DEF by 3 instead of 2.

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That obtained, we’ll hop down the ledge and climb down this rope.

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At the bottom is a small tunnel that wraps around to the next rope.

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”Hey that would make a pretty good desktop background” count: 11

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Moving on, we’ll climb down this rope…

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Hop across these ledges....

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And be saddened that we can’t quite reach this chest. It’s actually kind of tricky to get to, but we’ll reach it soon enough.

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For now we’ll climb down the nearby rope and move to the right.

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There’s a save point to the right, but first we should stop here and examine our surroundings. This rope always trips me up; it’s long enough that at first I think I have to climb back up here from the next area, but that’s not the case.

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Instead we just hop down the ledge that’s hiding in plain sight and climb up from there.

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Don’t mind if I do!

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From here we can jump off this nearby ledge to get back to the save point…
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
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And then climb down the rope to reach the next area of the cliffs. We should hop down the ledge to the left before proceeding to the right.

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From there we’ll go through a tunnel going through the cliffside and come out to get our second pair of Speed Shoes.

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Now to get back on track, albeit very briefly.

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We could climb down that rope, but instead we’ll head to the right, since the two paths eventually meet up.

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Doing so lets us hop down the ledge to this free Floral Powder.

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Now we’ll hop down a couple more ledges…

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And head to the left to reach where the rope would have taken us.

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Then it’s across another ledge, and through another tunnel after we beat up this giant bat.

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♪♪~ Leap the Precipice

I actually forgot that Sweet Whispers had a heal move, but it’s not much to worry about at this point.

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Much more worrisome is getting hit by Supersonic, since it inflicts the Slow status on characters. Slow reduces your movement speed to a crawl, which makes positioning your character or moving them much at all very difficult. Thankfully it doesn’t reduce your actual SPD stat, so you don’t have to worry about getting turns less often.

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♪♪~ The Posture You Do Not Despise

This rope doesn’t lead to any items, but you can hop down to that platform from a ledge, which will get you down here faster. Handy if you missed an item and need to come back to the Glissando Cliffs for it.

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Since we haven’t missed anything, we can keep going.

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It’s ropes all the way down, y’all.

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One last attack to show off; like its name implies, Pierce can go through multiple targets if unblocked, but it’s not too hard to guard against.

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Before we climb down the rope we saw earlier, we’ll hop across these ledges.

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Doing so lets us walk around this large tree to reach a new accessory; the Spirit Arrowhead raises its wearer’s ATK by 3 points.

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Onwards and downwards.

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This is the last area before reaching the bottom of the cliffs; starting to worry if Phil’s okay…

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Oh cool, there’s a water basin down here. Neat!

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Anyway, moving on.

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Down some stairs lies another tunnel to pass through.

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This leads to some ledges to hop across…

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Which leads to another tunnel.

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There’s another rope to climb down nearby, but before that we’ll snag this new robe for Viola.

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Yeah, no kidding.
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
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Right, back to the tunnel entrance and down the rope. We’re almost at the bottom...

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Made it! Now to find Phil; he should be around here somewhere, and with any luck he’ll be okay.

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Click here to watch the next two cutscenes

♪♪~ No music

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*Quick fade to black*

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Allegretto: “Are you sure you’re really okay? I mean, you fell down from pretty high up there kid.”
*There’s a quick aerial shot to illustrate the point; Phil looks himself over in response.*
Allegretto: “Anyway, shouldn’t you be getting back home soon?”
Phil: “Oh no! You’re right! I really have to get going!”

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*Phil runs off as the scene ends.*

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♪♪~ Trembling Homefront

Thankfully we’re deposited back at the top of the cliff in Forte. Glad we don’t have to climb back up here manually!

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Positively picturesque, even.

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Before we head back to the inn, I sell off the photos I took on the cliffs first. Not a bad haul.

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I also finally buy the Bat Umbrella for Polka, since her MAG stat is still higher than her ATK after equipping it. Now, back to the inn!

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Phil: “Koto told me you guys are looking for a place to stay for the night.”

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*Rest jingle*

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Glad all that’s over with; now we can go see Count Waltz. But before we do that, let’s see if the NPC’s have anything new to say.

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Phil’s Father: “I want to say a man should be the king of his castle, but my wife wears the pants around here. It’s well known around here that I’m just a henpecked husband.”
“Sigh~”

I mean you don’t seem too upset about it, so why complain?

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Phil’s Mother: “Take care! Please come again!”

We appreciate the hospitality, ma’am.

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“Light weapons are great against dark monsters, but weak against light monsters. And dark weapons are great against light monsters, but weak against dark monsters. Basically they’re great against the opposite element and weak against the same one.”

This is sound advice, but unfortunately there isn’t a way to tell at a glance if a particular monster is light or dark-elemental. Luckily most monsters are neutral, and I’m not sure there are many monsters outside ones that transform who fall into in one category or the other. I’m pretty sure bosses are all neutral as well, so overall you don’t have to worry about it too much.

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“No matter how much others might help out, in the end, the housework gets left to the women.”
“When I look at my friends, married life doesn’t look very easy. Yeah, I think I’m better off on my own.”
“To be honest, there are times when I get lonely. And I think it would be nice to find Mr. Right.”

Not sure how to respond here, so I’ll just be on my way.

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“What?! You think I should fast?! Does that mean I can only eat lunch three times a day?!”
“I could never fast! Are you trying to starve me to death?!”

Geez, not cool, game.

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“Don’t get in our way.”

Fine by me…

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“I know mineral powder is supposed to be good for you, but I couldn’t help being leary.”
“But I wanted to get rid of the headache quickly, so I took some mineral powder. It’s amazing. I was back on my feet in no time.”

Trust us, you should really listen to your original instincts and not take anymore.

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Still can’t leave, unfortunately. We gotta talk to Count Waltz first!

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Phil: “Hey, if you need a room for the night, stay at my family’s place. I’ll make sure you get a good price!”

Thanks, Phil! We’d appreciate it.

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Tipsy Old Man: “Hic! Huh, I’m all on my lonesome?”
“Where’d those young folks go who were drinking with me?”

The tavern’s pretty empty at this hour; the only other person who’s here at the moment is the proprietress.

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Proprietress: “Well, for coming in so early, I’ll give ya a little something on the house! Or rather, I’d like to, but unfortunately I don’t have anything here you kids could drink.”
“Why don’t you all come back when you’re a little bigger. It’ll be on me.”

Eh, maybe; not a particularly big fan of alcohol, myself.

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This item wasn’t here last night, but it is now, and we should pick it up before seeing the Count.
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
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This is one of a few accessories in the game that are unique to a certain character; in this case, the Lead Slug gives Beat a minor ATK boost. Helpful!

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Koto: “And he never finishes anything, so I’m always cleaning up after him. It gets really annoying.”
“Without me, he’d be a hopeless wreck.”

Yeah it kinda seems that way from the sound of things…

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Darling: “This sandwich may look a bit lifeless, but it’s chock-full of my Honey’s love. And we’re going to be together forever. Her cooking is only going to get better with age; like fine wine! I get a thrill just thinking about all the goodies I have to look forward to.”
“I’m always telling my brother he’s got to toughen up. That guy’s got no motivation!”
“I guess the important thing is having someone to take care of.”

I suppose; depends on one’s perspective.

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Darling’s Brother: “I had no idea marriage could change a guy so much.”

Before we head back to town...

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♪♪~ The Posture You Do Not Despise

I’m going to revisit the Glissando Cliffs for a bit. See, there’s an item here now that wasn’t there before and I want to go get it.

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This does unfortunately mean that we’ll have to climb all the way down again (and then all the way back up on our way out), but since we’ve already gotten all the items here we’ll get there much faster this time.

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♪♪~ Leap the Precipice

Do note that the battlefield is different now; the shadow cast by the cliff wall is much larger now that it’s daytime, so you’re more likely to have to fight Caravan Crabs if you get into any encounters. I’ll be avoiding/running away from them all, since we don’t need the Exp at the moment.

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Anyway, way down at the bottom there’s this.

Allegretto: “’Congratulations on getting all the way here! You’ve completely wasted your time. Now, now. Don’t cry. Here, I’ll give you this.’”

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This is a very good item, so it’s not entirely pointless to come down here again. The Star Clock completely refills the Action Gauge of the character who uses it, and only costs 1 point to put into the Item Set. It can be tricky to take advantage of, though; you always need at least two seconds on the Action Gauge to use an item, otherwise you won’t be able to. Star Clocks are pretty rare to come by, and you can’t ever buy them in shops, so it’s best to save them for tough fights.

That’s that taken care of; time to climb back up to Forte offscreen.

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♪♪~ Trembling Homefront

“How does mineral powder taste? What does that matter? Why don’t you try it yourself?”

Uh, no thanks.

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“But Koto has got him under her thumb. Ha ha!”

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Honey: “But he tells me everything I make tastes good, so I’ve started to enjoy cooking. And now I’m pretty good at it.”
“Well, I’m going to get started on the cleaning and laundry while my Darling’s at work. And then I’ve got to get everything ready to make dinner.”

That’s everybody in town proper. To the palace courtyard!

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You can still perform a session with Gentlemanly Pop if you need to, but we’re good.

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Indeed. Before we go in, I’m just going to mess around with my party composition and Item Set a little bit. Just have a feeling is all.

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Click here to watch the cutscene (recommended viewing)

♪♪~ No music

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Whoa, that is a sweet mohawk/mustache/eyepatch combo. Not to mention the collar! Wonder what he’s talking about, though?

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Polka: “You’re right, he does. Let’s go ask him if he can get us an audience with Count Waltz.”
*As they’re talking, Beat tries to get a view of the man from behind the rest of the group.*
Eyepatch: “Hold it. We already know all about your plan.”

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Frederic: “Now just hold on. Something doesn’t appear to be quite right with this situation."
*Beat walks over to the man.*

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Yeah, I’m not sure what your deal is, but--

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♪♪~ Pressure

What the hell?! Did you just backhand a child?!

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What he said!

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Boss fight time! (recommended viewing)

♪♪~ A Flicker Which Divides Light and Darkness

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Boss: Tuba
HP: 132, 530
Exp: 7,500 (Xbox 360)/5,500 (PS3)
Gold: 0
Holy crap that’s a big mace he’s carrying: And it hurts an awful lot, as I’m sure you can guess.

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Tuba: “Just stand still and give up already!”

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Allegretto: “I’m ready for you! Bring it on!”
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
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Tuba is a pretty significant difficulty spike compared to previous bosses we’ve fought; if you get caught by surprise he can and will turn your party into mincemeat with that mace of his. That cutscene earlier wasn’t just for show, either – if you have Beat in your active party he’ll be forcibly removed from it and replaced with the character in the first reserve slot.

The battlefield for this fight is pretty small and mostly in light, save for the two shadows cast by some nearby pillars cutting through the center and top right. Tuba himself has a pretty slow movement speed – he’s about as slow as a character inflicted by the Slow status, actually – but it doesn’t hinder him too much thanks to this attack:

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Gigantic Slam lets Tuba close the distance with his target if he’s close enough, and it sends out an AoE shockwave that hits anyone nearby. You want to block all his attacks as much as possible, because they all hurt.

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My general plan here is to keep Tuba busy with Polka and Allegretto while Viola stays as far away as possible and snipes him with arrows. It’s a good idea to have at least one character with a group heal in your party; having both is pretty safe if you’re having a hard time with the fight.

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Tuba: “This is gonna be fun. Ha!”

Tuba’s movement speed might make you think his actual SPD is pretty slow, but this is not the case! Occasionally he’ll get two turns in a row, which is really bad because he’s more likely to pull stunts like this.

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Mega Mash is Tuba’s deadliest attack; it’s a three-hit combo, and the last strike can hit characters next to him. Unguarded (like it is here), it can easily take off two-thirds of a character’s HP in one go. It also carries a chance of knockback if unguarded.

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Allegretto: “You’ll taste the naked blade of death!”

I’m playing it pretty risky here; I could have healed with either Polka or Viola but I wanted to build up to at least 24 Echoes to hammer Tuba. If I can hold out till either of their next turns I should be fine.

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Tuba’s basic attack is an overhead swing followed by a forward swing, the latter of which can also hit characters behind him. It’s by far the least dangerous move in his arsenal.

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Success! This plus a Floral Powder for Polka puts everyone back on their feet. Unfortunately I actually screwed up big time, because using Earth Heal made Polka turn to face Allegretto, leaving her open to attack from Tuba.

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He of course takes advantage of this and uses Demonic Embrace on her; it’s a two-hit ranged attack that can hit a character from pretty much anywhere on this small battlefield. It also has a chance of knockdown, and poor Polka hits the ground.

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Then just to be a bigger jerk Tuba immediately uses it again before Polka can get back up to guard in time, KO’ing her. I get her back on her feet shortly afterwards, but this just goes to show that this boss fight is not messing around.

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See what I mean about distance? Viola’s almost on the complete opposite side of the arena and Tuba just does not care.

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The good news about this fight is that as long as you keep up the pressure on Tuba, it’s a short one; either you do that or he just stomps you into the dirt.

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Thankfully I’m a pretty good shot, and Viola deals the final blow!

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♪♪~ Well-Done

Viola: “Not bad at all!”

Indeed! The lack of a Gold reward stings, but Polka gains a level, and Viola is very close to doing so as well.

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Click here to watch the cutscene (recommended viewing)

♪♪~ Strategy

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Allegretto: “C-cut it out!”

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*Cue fade to black*

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♪♪~ No music

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Well, at least we’re all in the same cell. And Beat seems okay, thank goodness. But who’s--

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Yeah, what she said.

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Viola: “Old lady?! Why, you little….”
Beat: “Now, now. Don’t fight.”
*He raises his hands between them.*
Redhead: “Oh, what’s this? Just who do you think you are, you little runt? Can’t you see I’m busy talking to this old lady right now!”
Beat: “Huh? Runt?! Hey! I’m almost the exact same height as you!”
Viola: “You called me ‘old lady’ again! You’re gonna pay for that!”

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*awkward silence*
Frederic: “Unfortunately, I must admit I’m rather at a loss as to what to do next.”
Allegretto: “No problem, that’s an easy one. We’ll just have to break out of here.”
Redhead: “Huh! It’s one crazy after another with you people. If it was that easy to get out, they wouldn’t call it a dungeon.”

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Salsa: “Thanks a bunch! I just never feel quite myself if I don’t have this. So then, you people met March?”

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*Allegretto whispers to Beat:*
Allegretto: “Huh. I’m guessing March has all the social skills in the family.”
Beat: “No kidding.”
*He giggles as Salsa puts on her hat.*
Salsa: “By the way, how the heck did you people know that I was Salsa anyway?”
Allegretto: “Well, all we had to do was take one look at ya….”

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*She points at the cell bars.*
Salsa: “And a magician can make himself disappear. So you’re going to disappear and then reappear outside the cell walls, right?”
Beat: “Yeah, well, disappearing isn’t the only thing magicians can do, y’know. The same way they can break out of handcuffs, they can unlock things like cell doors.”
*He winks, and Salsa snaps her fingers in response.*
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
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Salsa: “Hey, you may be a little runt, but at least you’re way smarter than that old lady over there.”
*Viola glares at her.*
Allegretto: “Hey. Thanks, Beat.”
*He hunches over the cell door and picks the lock.*

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Success!

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Allegretto: “Oh! Uh, well… you know, I am a magician after all!”
Beat: “I get it, Retto. You just don’t want Polka to know what it is you really do, right?”

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*He giggles to himself.*
Viola: “I think we can all imagine what kinds of things you were up to in Ritardando. Don’t worry about it.”
*Short pause; Polka elects not to say anything.*
Frederic: “Tight as a clam. Is that so? Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a clam that had its shell completely closed.”

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Salsa has a point; we should really get out of here now that we have the chance, which we will do next update.

Next time: The great Forte prison break and the end of Chapter 2!

(By the way, in the English voice track for this game, Salsa for some reason speaks with a Southern drawl. I’m not kidding, go watch the video if you don’t believe me.)
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
Glossary of Musical Terms

Glissando – A musical technique where you glide from one pitch to another; also has several different names (like slide or sweep), depending on the exact method used.

Maracas – Percussion instruments used in many genres of Caribbean and Latin music. Played by holding the handle and shaking them; usually played in pairs.

Tuba – The lowest-pitched instrument in the brass family. Played by producing a buzz with one’s lips into the mouthpiece. A given orchestra will usually have only one tuba player, but concert bands, brass bands, and military bands will have anywhere from two to four players.
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
Here's some music to tide y'all over till the next update:

Chopin: Three Mazurkas, Op. 59

Franz Liszt - Grandes Études de Paganini, No. 3 in G Sharp Minor ("La campanella")

Franz Liszt was a Hungarian composer and pianist who is widely considered one of the greatest virtuoso pianists of all time. He was wildly popular in his time and was friends with many famous composers of the Romantic Era, including Chopin (who dedicated his first book of études to Liszt), the Schumanns, Hector Berlioz, and Camille Saint-Saëns, among others. Liszt wrote a bunch of music in a wide variety of genres, but he's probably most famous for his piano études - which are among the most difficult in the entire repertoire - along with his piano transcriptions of other composers' music.

"La campanella" (Italian for "the little bell") is one of the most difficult pieces ever written for the piano. It takes its melody from the finale of Niccolò Paganini's Violin Concerto No. 2 in B Minor; Liszt was in fact inspired to become a virtuoso pianist after attending a Paganini concert. I've seen it performed live twice, and y'all it is wild watching someone actually play something like this.
 
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