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

Albatoss

Prince
(He/him, they/them)
Hello! Just a quick note before posting the first update on the new forums.

So, there's no longer an image limit on posts, which is cool. I wasn't aware of this when I was migrating this thread over, which is why there are already so many posts in it, but I figure that's fine. In the interest of preventing people's browsers from slowing to a crawl, I won't be putting future updates into one big post, but I will aim to use fewer posts than I had been on Olde Talking Time.

Additionally, I have the updates for Chapter 3 written, and the footage for Chapter 4 has been recorded, so I should be able to post updates at a slightly faster rate for a while, so y'all have that to look forward to.

That's enough preamble from me; see y'all in a sec with the finale of Chapter 2!
 

Albatoss

Prince
(He/him, they/them)
Verse 2-5: Clash on the Big Bridge

Hello and welcome back to Eternal Sonata! Last time the party rescued a kid from having fallen off a cliff and then immediately got thrown in a dungeon afterwards. We now return to your regularly scheduled breakout already in progress.



♪♪~ No music

Allegretto: “Hey! What have we here?! This almost makes up for getting thrown in the dungeon!”



These things are just lying around everywhere, huh? Not that I’m complaining, mind.



Point taken. Seems like our only option is to go right and hope for the best; there’s an audible breeze coming from that direction anyway.



Huh, kind of an elaborate mirror to just be sitting here in the castle dungeon.



Click to watch the cutscene

*The rest of the party walks past, but Salsa stops and looks at the mirror.*



♪♪~ DANTOOTSU!

Salsa: “Wait, hold on a minute.”
Allegretto: “What is it, Salsa? We need to keep moving.”
Salsa: “Hey, just come here a second.”
Beat: “Huh? Well, what is it?”
*He walks over.*



*He does.*
Salsa: “Ah-hah! See? I knew it!”



Beat: “What’re you talking about?! You’re only taller because you have a hat on! That’s not fair!”
Salsa: “Come on, we gotta hurry!”
*She follows after the group.*



Poor Beat. He’s had kind of a rough day.



Anyway, past that is this person who I swear isn’t this game suddenly being wildly offensive; a musical slur is an actual thing!

Thief Slur: “Or so I thought. Apparently my luck ran out sneaking into this place. I was caught before I knew it. Punishment in Forte is known to be nasty, and now I’ll never get out of here. You wouldn’t happen to have a score piece, would you? If it comes out nice, I’ll give you something real good.”



Alas, neither of our score pieces match his. This is going to be something of a recurring trend until we find more of them.

Thief Slur: “You’ve still got a ways to go. It’ll take more than something like that to touch my heart.”



One last item before we investigate the large obvious hole in the wall.



Frederic: “Mmm. Whoever made this hole must have been in quite a hurry.”
Viola: “It looks suspicious to me.”
Polka: “But this seems to be our only way out. There are bound to be lots of soldiers upstairs.”
Salsa: “It’ll be fine! I’ll bet this hole was dug by a great burglar! I’m sure it will get us outside!”
Beat: “I don’t know.”
Viola: “Well, fearless leader, what should we do?”
Allegretto: “Hmm. All right, let’s give it a try!”



*Audible gust of wind*



...Let’s just go through the hole and pretend Allegretto didn’t say that.



♪♪~ From Strength to Kindness

I tend to prefer the more bombastic and energetic area themes, so I don’t seek out the more laid-back tracks like this as often. It still has some good things going for it, though; the percussion is really nice, and I like that the flute is largely the instrument playing the melody here.



A-ha, so now we know who’s responsible for the hole in the wall. This extensive cave system right under Forte Castle is pretty convenient for them! Or it will be until Forte discovers it and seals it, which I’m sure will be pretty soon after we escape.



Anyway, the path through these caves is pretty twisty, with several sizable branching paths leading to treasure that let you see other parts of the dungeon. Let’s get to it!



This is one of the few times I can honestly say I enjoy a cave dungeon in an RPG, and that’s partially due to the aesthetics; a lot of it is just standard cave stuff, but all throughout you also have these weird tendril-things of light curving upwards. Couldn’t tell you what they do, but they look nice!



The main path is off to the right, but for now we want to keep going south, which means dealing with this scorpion.



♪♪~ Leap the Precipice

The battlefield here is pretty cramped; it’s a little larger than the arena at Glissando Cliffs, but the stalagmites on the floor can block your specials if your positioning is off. The arena is also mostly in darkness, with a few patches of light here and there.



As for the enemies, they’re the same Sweet Whispers/Caravan Crabs that we fought at the cliffs, so you should be pretty used to fighting them by now. There’s also one new enemy further into the dungeon that we’ll cover later.



And by “later” I mean “right now”!



Bolbos are these weird squid things that are pretty unpredictable; sometimes if they spawn far enough away from you they’ll wave at other enemies before heading your way. They also have far more HP than most other standard enemies up to this point, so it’s best to take them out with a fully-charged Echo Meter.



Spore Scatter will poison any characters caught in the cloud. It’ll actually telegraph using this attack by puffing up at the end of its turn; it will then use Spore Scatter at the start of the next turn. It’s up to you if you want to move your party out of the way or try to blitz through its HP before it goes off, since Bolbos are pretty slow. Wreathe, on the other hand, is just a mildly-damaging attack that I always screw up the guard timing on anyway.



♪♪~ Well-Done

Allegretto: “What did you expect?”

Bolbos will sometimes drop these items, including the next tier of cookie; Star Cookies heal 3,600 HP and cost the same amount of points to put in the Item Set (1), which is very nice indeed!



♪♪~ From Strength to Kindness

Moving past that, we come to another intersection; again, we want to keep heading south for now, but we will head east later on.



Beat: “Look over here!”

This isn’t strictly important, I just wanted to let y’all know that I took some choice photos while going through this dungeon.



Ten Lashes is just what it sounds like: a ten-hit attack that can hurt if you don’t block it. It also carries a chance of knockback if unguarded, so try not to let that happen.



Down at the end of the path is this new umbrella for Polka; you can see the other path leading from the intersection we were just at, which is cool.



Yeah, this’ll do.



Back to the intersection, this time to head east (after dealing with this Bolbo).



Speaking of, their basic attack is two lashes followed by a four-hit spin attack. It comes out really fast so it’s hard to block, but it’s not the end of the world if you do end up eating the hits.



Hmm, that ledge over there looks suspicious; I bet there’s a chest hidden in the foliage up there.



We’ll worry about that later; for now we’ll snag the Star Cookie from this chest.



On the way back to the intersection we pass by this ledge; keep it in the back of your mind for later. In the meantime, I think it’s time we take a look at our new character.



That’s right, Salsa officially joined our party back in the Forte dungeon; I just haven’t used her yet because I’m trying to keep everyone except Beat evenly-leveled (more on that later). As you can see here, she’s very fast, and because of that she’ll almost always get the first turn if she’s in your active party. She isn’t exactly a tank, but Salsa’s DEF is decent for this area, and her starting weapon lets her deal good damage to the Caravan Crabs even though her ATK isn’t that high. Her MAG is easily Salsa’s lowest stat, but her other stats and utility in battle easily make up for it.



Salsa: “I’ll send you flyin’ to the other side of the sun!”

Salsa fights with two large chakrams that the game calls Sun Rings, and her standard attacks with them hit five times per combo; this combined with her high SPD and fast combo speed mean she’s really good at building Echoes very quickly.



On top of this, she starts out with a dark special called Shadow Silhouette, which is flat-out one of the best specials in the game. It’s a three-hit combo, and it doesn’t deal much damage on its own…



But it does put a red aura around Salsa and any other party member in the immediate area. What does this aura do?



I’m not sure of the exact math here, but Shadow Silhouette increases the damage of the affected character’s next special pretty significantly; note that Frederic was only working with 16 Echoes and he still annihilated that Bolbo. Combine Shadow Silhouette with a full Echo Meter and you can deal some preposterous amounts of damage.



Oh, while I’m here, turns out that Caravan Crabs have a long-range attack they can spam if they’re too far away to melee you, but it’s not a big deal.



♪♪~ Well-Done

Frederic: “It’s a frame of mind, you see.”

Ooh, nice! In the Xbox 360 release Frederic learned this attack at level 38 instead of 18, and it wasn’t as useful there. This is actually only one of two of Frederic’s specials whose level requirements were altered for the PS3 port; more on the other one once we get it much later.



Way back at the first intersection in the Secret Passage, we finally take the east path.



We also see Salsa’s light special in action. Solar Flare only hits once, but it’s a big hit despite her low MAG, and the knockback is ridiculous.



Ah, that’s right, Caravan Crabs can heal each other. Nothin’ a Shadow Silhouette-powered barrage can’t fix.



Anyway, past this handy save point…



We come to another intersection. We’ll go down the southwest path first.



Nice. I do enjoy when games let you see all the different paths you’ll traverse in a given level before you do it; it’s neat!



That obtained, it’s time to go southeast.



The winding path soon leads to the next area.



This is the first area where the Secret Passage really opens up; you get a good feel of the sheer depths of this place.



Before we press on, we’ll hop down to the ledge I mentioned earlier to grab this new sword for Allegretto. We’ll have to do some backtracking to get back to where we were, but I’d say the free weapon upgrade is well worth it.



There, now we’re back where we were, and we can show off Frederic’s new special while we’re at it.



♪♪~ Leap the Precipice

Mirage Blow hits once and deals decent damage, but its real use lies in the fact that it’s our first debuff! There are only a few specials in the game that debuff an enemy’s stats or inflict status ailments; this one decreases an enemy’s ATK by 10 points. It’s also very spammable, taking only a flat 1 second to use. The only problem is that I’m not sure how much the debuff stacks, and there isn’t any documentation online that goes into detail about it, at least not that I can find. Still, it’s good to have, and much more useful here than in the original game.



♪♪~ From Strength to Kindness

Onward to the next area.



Past another save point, should you need it…



Wrapping around back to the north…



And into the next area.



Before we move on, we should take a closer look at our surroundings – we’re directly above where we just were a minute ago, and that plus the two plant-things are a hint…



At another new piece of equipment. Man, Allegretto is doing very well in this dungeon, huh?
 
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Albatoss

Prince
(He/him, they/them)


Some quick backtracking and we’re making forward progress once more.



This area is pretty short – just the straight shot to the next.



We’re almost at the end; this is the last section before the Secret Passage’s exit. Both directions here meet at the same point, but we’ll head to the right…



To snag this new baton for Frederic.



Soon after we come to another intersection. The southwest path just leads to a dead end without any items, so we’ll go southeast instead.



Not every day you see trees like this growing in caves.



It’s being blocked by the ledge here, but there’s a chest just below us; let’s circle around to get it.



New item! The Dragon Scale costs 4 points to put into the Item Set, and increases the user’s DEF by 10%. Handy for an emergency if you’re taking a beating during a boss fight.



The path near the chest leads to a dead end, so we’ll have to circle around the long way to progress.



Sunlight! We’re really close to the end now.



But first, one last item for the road.



Alright, the exit is just past that last save point. Note that Andantino’s Secret Passage is a one-time dungeon, so if you missed anything be sure to go back for it now.



Click to watch the cutscene

♪♪~ No music

Jazz: “All right then. There should be a switch behind this rock. Falsetto, if you wouldn’t mind?”
Falsetto: “Right.”
*She reaches up and pushes the switch.*



*The rock wall slides open, and out runs...*



Salsa: “But I can’t believe that huge rock moved out of the way, just by giving it a little push! I guess I’m even stronger than I thought I was!”
*She stretches her arms as the rest of the party walks out of the cave.*



Frederic: “We’ve just escaped from being held in the dungeon of Forte Castle.”
Salsa: “That’s right. We didn’t even do anything wrong, and they threw us in a cell like criminals.”
Viola: “No kidding. Anyone would’ve run away. Oh, my hair is a total mess.”
Beat: “Oh, those guys are terrible! They just arrested us and threw us in the dungeon. And we didn’t even do anything wrong to deserve it.”



*Allegretto runs over to keep Beat from spilling the beans on any of their misdeeds. Probably mostly bread heists if I had to guess.*



Polka: “I swear, we haven’t done anything.”
Jazz: “It would seem they’re not our enemies.”
Falsetto: “I suppose you’re right. Let’s hurry up and get back to the mission.”
Jazz: “Wait a minute, Falsetto.”



Frederic: “The guardian of Agogo Forest? Yes, I think we can help you.”



*Cue flashback*



Legato: “Young lady, I’m tired of repeating myself.”
Salsa: “But if you don’t stop the mining at Mt. Rock, the forest is gonna die. The mountain and the forest are dependent on each other!”
Legato: “I’ve told you. We cannot make mineral powder without the mines at Mt. Rock. That powder is responsible for saving the lives of many of our people.”
Salsa: “Sir, Agogo Forest is our home. But if you keep digging….”
Legato: “Hold on. Agogo Forest? You’re telling me you live in Agogo Forest?!”



Salsa: “This is the first time I’ve come to a city like this.”



Salsa: “What?”
*End of flashback*



Jazz: “It seems our mission is complete.”
Viola: “Hey. You guys sound like you know something about what’s going on around here. Why don’t you come back to my village with the rest of us?”
Polka: “Besides, once they realize we’ve escaped, they might come after us.”
Frederic: “She brings up a good point. We shouldn’t stay here much longer. We must leave. What are you people going to do?”
Claves: “What should we do, Jazz?”
Jazz: “Good question.”



Falsetto: “That’s right. And much earlier than we planned, too. It looks like we’ve got some extra time now.”
Jazz: “Let’s listen to what they have to say. Maybe they can tell us about the inside of Forte Castle.”
Falsetto: “It’s boring when things always go according to plan.”



Hmm… I get the feeling there’s something going on here, something we aren’t fully privy to. Whatever it is that’s happening between these two, Jazz doesn’t notice it:

Jazz: “Then it’s settled.”
*Polka looks over at Beat and Allegretto.*
Polka: “Allegretto? Is something the matter?”



Frederic: “Well, Beat did do his best.”
Viola: “Yeah, he didn’t do too badly for a clam, anyway.”



Aw, poor kid just can’t catch a break today.



♪♪~ Breeze the Conductor

It’s probably a good thing we can’t operate the rock wall anymore; once Forte catches on to our escape they’ll have to take the long way out of the city to catch up to us, and hopefully we’ll be long gone by then. There’s not much else to do besides backtrack to Fort Fermata, so I’ll just head there now. (The item merchant is still at the midway point of Hanon Hills if you want to resupply, but we have more than enough items right now.)



Oh, it’s this guy!

“I don’t suppose you’d lend me those shoes for a while?”
*Handed over Speed Shoes*
“Thanks a lot! I don’t know what I’d do without you guys. It isn’t much, but take this as a token of my appreciation.”



“You never can tell what might happen on a journey. Make sure you’re prepared before you set out.”

Safe travels, friend.



So long, Hanon Hills!
 

Albatoss

Prince
(He/him, they/them)
*Meanwhile, back at Forte Castle...*



Click to watch the cutscene (recommended viewing)

♪♪~ Strategy

*Count Waltz bangs his fist on the throne and stands up.*
Waltz: “Really, Tuba.”



Waltz: “Listen carefully, Tuba. I don’t think I need to tell you that this is your last chance. Find them, and eliminate them all. Immediately.”
Tuba: “Yes, my lord.”
*He bows and turns to go.*
Waltz: “No, wait. The guardian of Agogo Forest, bring her back alive.”



*Back at Fort Fermata...*



♪♪~ No music

*Frederic thinks to himself as the scene transitions elsewhere...*



Lovely attention to detail with the nameplate there.



Doctor: “Mr. Chopin is taking a journey on which he will have to face himself. Whether that journey will end with his return home, or with his acceptance of death, we can not be certain.”



*Back to the dream world we go...*



Frederic: “At this moment, I’m asleep in Paris. As a pianist – and as a composer, as well – I have produced many popular works that have brought me a rather good deal of renown there.”



Allegretto: “If this is all some kind of joke, you’ve got a really weird sense of humor, mister.”
Frederic: “Oh, no. I assure you, I’m not joking.”



Frederic: “I’m afraid you find me at a loss there. But perhaps that proof is the very thing I’m searching for on this journey.”



Viola: “Oh, really? Are you sure you just haven’t had too much mineral powder? Not that I’ve ever heard of a side effect that makes people confuse dreams with reality.”
*Frederic chuckles.*
Frederic: “No, I haven’t taken any mineral powder. But as for confusing dreams with reality, well, there is something to that. This world does seem incredibly close to reality. And that being the case… can it possibly be that I have somehow lost my ability to distinguish between what is real and what is unreal?”



Claves: “Yes, reality’s something that just is. It’s like the way we’re not consciously aware of air when we’re breathing it.”
Frederic: “True. I suppose it is nearly impossible to confirm the existence of things which seem so natural to us. However, ‘unconfirmed’ and ‘nonexistent’ are two entirely different concepts.”
Beat: “Geez, this is makin’ my head hurt. Can you start over again, Frederic? Why are you going with us on this trip in the first place?”
Frederic: “A good question. I believe that I am somehow being tested. That I am on this journey to come to some realization.”



Allegretto: “What the--? So then you’re not really traveling for any particular reason at all? Man, you sure are a strange one, mister.”



Allegretto: “Wh-what? What did I do wrong?!”
Polka: “No matter what you think, you shouldn’t talk to people like that. You’re being rude to Frederic!”
Allegretto: “I’m being rude? Wait, you don’t actually believe this guy?”



If you watch the cutscene video, you’ll notice that Polka sounds really angry here. This is the angriest she’s been the whole game!

Allegretto: “Fine, fine. So then are you saying that you actually believe “Frederic’s” crazy story?”
Polka: “Why shouldn’t I? I happen to think it’s a wonderful way to think about things.”
Beat: “Whoa! Hold on. Do you really mean that, Polka?”
Polka: “W-well, I don’t actually believe that we’re living in a dream world, but I think the thought is nice.”
Allegretto: “So, I was right! You don’t believe him either!”



*She storms off.*
Allegretto: “Hey! Polka, wait!”
Viola: “You’ve still got a lot to learn about women, don’t you?”



*Viola and Jazz look at each other as the scene ends.*

This scene is substantially different from the one in the Xbox 360 release; there, everything is the same up until Allegretto asks Frederic why he’s traveling with everyone, but Frederic essentially shrugs and says “I dunno!”. And then everyone else is like “Oh, that’s weird” and the scene immediately ends. It’s super abrupt and doesn’t really serve any narrative purpose, so I’m glad the changes are here.

Plus, there's some kinda subtle character building going on here. You can tell when Polka gets angry at Allegretto it isn’t really because he’s the most vocal about not buying Frederic’s “y’all like, straight up only exist in my head” story (although she is probably at least annoyed on Frederic’s behalf). Neither she nor Frederic have long to live thanks to their illnesses – and in Frederic’s case he really doesn’t have long at all, unbeknownst to everyone but him – and that line about living his life to the fullest struck a chord with her. Telling Frederic that that’s all a lie or nonsense is telling Polka that it’s a lie, at least in her mind. I’d be pretty hurt too in her situation!

Am I reading too much into this RPG about Frederic Chopin? Possibly. But I’m happy that this game is even trying to do stuff like this at all, and that it got a second chance to express these ideas and themes in a more coherent way thanks to the PS3 port. That doesn’t happen very often.



♪♪~ A Wall With No Front or Back

Anyway, since we have the key to the place and unlocked the backdoor earlier, we don’t have to backtrack through the entire dungeon! Hooray!



♪♪~ No music

Allegretto: “To protect Forte from things like Baroque and pirates, right?”
Falsetto: “Well, that’s the official reason.”
Claves: “What was it really built for then?”
Falsetto: “It was built to keep the subjects of the king of Forte from escaping.”
Beat: “Huh?”



Falsetto: “It’s said that due to this honesty and benevolence he was revered by his subjects. The people were so willing to work hard for such a king that the whole kingdom was energized by it. Labor, culture, technology—everything combined contributed to the country’s prosperity.”



Falsetto: “He couldn’t stand losing the love and respect of even one of them. Once the fortress was completed, people weren’t able to leave Forte at all. The people put up with being confined in Forte at first, but a situation like that couldn’t last. Eventually, discontentment spread, rebellion erupted, and the selfish king was dethroned.”
Viola: “How sad.”
Allegretto: “Not really. Sounds like he got what he deserved.”



Jazz: “He wanted to be thought well of, to be praised and admired, to be loved forever. He turned his back on his faults and lived a life of fantasy. He built this tall fortress to keep his world from slipping away. It was how he eased his cowardly heart.”



Jazz: “The truly important thing is to accept both our strengths and our weaknesses; to believe in ourselves without fearing the judgment of others. We learn from our mistakes, and grow from them. The fact that the king wasn’t able to realize that is really the saddest thing of all. That’s what you meant, right?”
Viola: “...”
Jazz: “Of course, that’s all in the past.”



Frederic: “With the mineral powder, right?”
Claves: “How much do all of you know about the mineral powder anyway?”
Frederic: “We heard about the dangerous side effects from Viola.”



Right, good idea. Pooling our knowledge together is a smart move to make when it’s just a handful of people and a group of rebels against an entire kingdom.



So, I’m sure you’ve guessed already, but the title of this update isn’t just for show – we have a tough fight ahead of us. To that end, I’m putting some Angel Trumpets at the top of the Item Set for easy access and then filling up the rest of it with Star Cookies; they’ll actually heal us a little bit more than Floral Powders at the moment since none of our characters have quite reached 6,000 HP yet. As for party composition, I’m keeping it the same as when we fought Tuba in Forte, except replacing Polka with Beat. This leaves us without a dedicated healer, but we should have enough items to be okay.


Here goes nothing…
 
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Albatoss

Prince
(He/him, they/them)


Click to watch the cutscene (recommended viewing)

Beat: “Huh? Gee, I didn’t get it. That was kind of hard for me to understand.”
Salsa: “Oh? I understood it just fine. But why don’t we explain it one more time, for the little guy?”



Beat is positively scandalized.



Falsetto: “And a side effect of the powder is that it allows people to use magic.”
Jazz: “Then, once they go mad and become mindless warriors, they can be made soldiers.”
Viola: “And that means that Forte’s army is about to get much, much bigger. And they’ll easily defeat Baroque.”
Allegretto: “But only people who are dying can use magic, right? So, when they do die, Forte will lose its soldiers.”



Polka: “And that means that even more people will be turned into magic users, like me.”
Frederic: “Then, as more mineral powder is sold, the number of soldiers will go on increasing. It is an endless cycle that, once begun, will be hard to stop.”
Beat: “Wait a second. If they keep on doing this, building up an army for a war that may or may not happen, then sooner or later, there won’t be any soldiers left!”
Viola: “Yes, that’s exactly right, Beat! You figured that out fast.”



Hehe.

Falsetto: “It really is just a complete waste. And Waltz realizes that, too. That’s why he’s trying to increase the strength of the mineral powder.”
Frederic: “The Count understands that if he can supply soldiers to the front line at any time, Forte’s military power will essentially be without limit.”
Claves: “And apparently they need to mix glowing agogos into the mineral powder in order to accomplish that. Though I hear they also taste good in soup.”
*She looks at Falsetto, who doesn’t respond.*



Odd, March said the same thing after we left Agogo Village. It can’t just be that they’re rare – neither of the guardians of the forest have ever heard of such a thing. There’s something we’re missing here.



♪♪~ Pursuit

Beat: “Huh? Hey! That’s him! That’s the guy who locked us away in the dungeon!”



♪♪~ I Bet My Belief

Hell yeah, I love this theme. It only plays a few times in the whole game, at big dramatic moments in the plot, but I wish it was used more because it’s pretty great! I love how prominent the flutes are here, especially the call-and-response bit between the piano and flute that starts at 1:25. The part right afterwards that hangs on a passing chord for several seconds before reprising the intro is super hype, as well.

Boss fight time! (recommended viewing)



Boss: Tuba (Rematch)
HP: 178,000
Exp: 10,000 (Xbox 360)/6,800 (PS3)
Gold: 100
I wasn’t expecting a rematch so soon: You and a lot of other people, I’m sure! This fight can be kind of a roadblock for first-time players.



Tuba: “Even if you run, you won’t get away! Got it?”



Beat: “I’m gonna get you back a hundred times for before!”



Tuba is largely unchanged from the first time we fought him; he has more HP and higher stats, but his moveset is the exact same, so we should be able to handle his assault more easily. Unlike the first fight against him where we weren’t allowed to use Beat, in this battle we’re required to – the game will put him into your third active slot if he isn’t already in the battle party.



The other big difference in this battle is the arena itself – it has more vertical space but less room horizontally, and aside from a couple passing clouds is entirely in light. This is a good reason to bring Viola along; if you’re confident with your aim you can move to the opposite end of the bridge to set up and chew through Tuba’s HP in the space of a few turns.



Beat: “Look over here!”

I’m only having Beat take photos for one turn; Tuba is just too dangerous to stall him for very long. After that I’ll have Beat run support, building up Echoes and tossing around items as needed, while Allegretto will keep Tuba away from the other two characters and lay into him if I save up enough Echoes.



And Viola will do Viola things, of course. She’s by far the MVP of this battle, and makes it go by much faster than if she weren’t here.



Not that Allegretto can’t pull his own weight!



Just uh, don’t get overconfident and mistime your guard inputs; Tuba can still bring a character from full HP to KO’ed in a matter of seconds if you aren’t careful.



Situations like this is why it’s a good idea to keep your party spread out as much as you can – Tuba’s attacks can all hit multiple characters, and you really don’t want to be in a situation where you’re trying to patch up multiple party members.



Strangely, Tuba didn’t make use of his full moveset in either fight against him; he has an attack he can use at critical HP called Full Power, which heals him for 15,000 or 17,000 HP (depending on if it’s the first or second time you’re fighting him), but more importantly gives him Burst status, making him way more dangerous but much easier to defeat. It’s weird that I didn’t see it happen in either fight, but trust me when I say that if he uses it, that’s your cue to go all out and defeat him as soon as possible, or he could very well wipe your entire party on his next turn.



Allegretto: “You’re finished!”

Thankfully we don’t have that problem, and Allegretto deals the final blow!



♪♪~ Well-Done

Allegretto: “You’re all washed up!”

That went smoother than I thought it would, to be honest! Usually I have a harder time with this fight, but I guess I got lucky not seeing Full Power, plus I’m slightly over-leveled (it’s more common to fight Tuba at level 18). Certainly not complaining about it though.



Viola: “Yes!”
Allegretto: “Hey, I’m still growin’, y’know!”

Fire Wave is decent, but Hawk Eye is incredible; more on both of them next time.



Click to watch the rest of the update

♪♪~ Pursuit

*The camera cuts to a closeup of Tuba’s face.*



Hey, why’s everybody getting reaction shots all of a sudden?



Oh, crap.



Not good!



*Everyone screams as they fall to the river below.*





♪♪~ No music

*Beat, Claves, and Salsa are swept away in the current as Allegretto sinks into the river.*



*His eyes widen as he sees...*



*Allegretto begins frantically swimming towards Polka.*



*He reaches out for Polka’s hand...*



*But just misses it, and is swept away as Polka remains caught on the debris.*



Slight change here from the original release: in the Xbox 360 version of the game the cutscene ends immediately after the bridge is destroyed and everyone falls. The stuff that happens in the river is new to the PS3 port.

Regardless, this is pretty bad! Everyone’s separated now, and there’s no telling where they’ll end up…

Next time: The start of Chapter 3.

(No glossary this time because there was only the one new musical term, with a link to an explanation for it back in the first post.)
 

Albatoss

Prince
(He/him, they/them)
In celebration of the new forums opening I'm posting some artwork right now instead of waiting a day. Here's Tuba!





He isn't in the game for very long, but he's certainly memorable!
 

yama

the room is full of ghosts
Ah, it's good to see this again.

I rememember Tuba taking me a few tries but I don't remember if I changed my strategy or setup at all.
 

Mogri

Round and round I go
(he)
Staff member
Your conjoined images are probably unnecessary now that the image limit is gone; the horizontal ones are harder to read on mobile anyway.

Also, your wiki link is broken. Try using quotes around the URL?
 

Albatoss

Prince
(He/him, they/them)
Your conjoined images are probably unnecessary now that the image limit is gone; the horizontal ones are harder to read on mobile anyway.

Also, your wiki link is broken. Try using quotes around the URL?
Thanks for catching the link, somehow I missed that. As for conjoined images, I hadn't actually considered that but you raise a great point. I've already finished the updates for Chapter 3, but I can at least reformat the horizontal conjoined screenshots I've made since there are way fewer of them. Going forward from there I'll change how I format screenshots. Thanks for the feedback!
 

Albatoss

Prince
(He/him, they/them)
I think a dramatic end to the chapter requires some suitably dramatic music to go along with it.

Chopin: Ballade No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 23

Germaine Tailleferre: Ballade for Piano and Orchestra

Chopin wrote and published four ballades in his lifetime; they're all single-movement piano pieces characterized by their lyrical melodies, clear dramatic arcs, and not being beholden to any one particular structural form. No. 1 is my personal favorite and probably the one that's appeared the most in popular media, although the other three are also very good and worth listening to.

Germaine Tailleferre was a 20th-century French composer, notable for being the only female member of Les Six. In addition to many small-scale pieces, she wrote several concertos, seven operas, and a whole lot of film scores. She's also a fantastic orchestrator, which you'll hear if you listen to the piece above; it's one of my favorites of hers.
 
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Albatoss

Prince
(He/him, they/them)
It's time once again to look at Motoi Sakuraba's musical career. This time we'll be looking at his solo albums, which are few in number but high in quality. Let's start with his first:


Playlist
Genre: Progressive Rock
Year of release: 1989
Musicians: Motoi Sakuraba (keyboards, composition/arrangement), Ken Ishita (bass), Takeo Shimoda (drums)
Favorite tracks: Humpty Dumpty, Tone Access, Motion, Scrap and Build

Thanks to his work on Pazzo Fanfano di Musica earlier that year, Sakuraba was able to release his first solo album in 1989. It's similar to the songs found on Deja Vu's Baroque in the Future, only entirely instrumental and much more rhythmically complex (no joke, the first two songs on the album are in 10/16 time, although "Humpty Dumpty" moves away from that eventually). This is one of my personal favorite albums of all time; it's just wall-to-wall bangers with no wasted space or subpar material, full of excellent musicianship and adventurous composition. Fun fact: Sakuraba still sometimes ends live concerts with "Narratage". (Additional fun fact: the album cover was painted by Sakuraba's father!)

Soon after the release of Gikyokuonsou, Sakuraba became a full-time video game composer to find stable employment, and he's been incredibly busy with that ever since. But he does still occasionally find enough time to put together a solo album, like this one:


Full album
Genre: Contemporary Classical
Year of Release: 2008
Musicians: Motoi Sakuraba (piano, composition/arrangement)
Favorite tracks: Tsuioku/Reminiscence, Fly!, Maze of Mirrors, Glass Moon

This album is completely different from the type of music Sakuraba typically writes, and it's pretty great for that! There's still plenty of high-energy noodling going on, but it's balanced out by slower, more contemplative tracks. I hope he gets the chance to write more stuff like this at some point.

There are two more solo albums to look at, largely in the same style as Gikyokuonsou: After All/What's Up? and Passage. The latter isn't fully on Youtube, but that is not the case for the former:


Playlist
Genre: Progressive Rock
Year of Release: 2011/2013
Favorite tracks: Megrim, Illusion of Darkness, Lie, After All

Sakuraba released After All in 2011, and this was later rereleased with a few extra tracks as What's up? in 2013. The big difference between this and his other solo albums is the addition of orchestral brass and string sections! They really up the intensity and theatrics of the tracks. Sadly I can't find any musician credits for this one, so any help on that would be appreciated.

Finally, we have Passage, released the same year as What's up? and his most recent solo album to date. The whole thing is on Apple Music, but I don't have that and this post is getting too big anyway, so I'll just make do with a few sample links:

Storm of Blooms
Caution of the Fragile
Blast of Wind
Passage

Once we're through Chapter 3, we'll look at Sakuraba's first forays into video game music. See y'all then!
 

Albatoss

Prince
(He/him, they/them)
Verse 3-1: The Silent Swamp

Hello and welcome back to Eternal Sonata! Last time the party escaped from Forte Castle but were pursued by Tuba, who in a last desperate act destroyed Cabasa Bridge with everyone on it, sending them plummeting to the river below.



This is one of the shorter chapters of the game, and in fact none of the rest of them (save for Chapter 7) are quite as long as the first two. That aside, let’s see how some of the group are doing…



Click to watch the cutscene

♪♪~ No music



Viola: “Oh? ‘Polka and the others,’ huh? Not ‘Beat and the others?’”
Allegretto: “What’s that supposed to mean?”
*Viola chuckles.*



*Arco chirps at Allegretto. It’s pretty adorable.
Viola: “Oh, hey, Jazz, by the way, what’s the name of that river we fell into back there?”



Claves: “The rich earth from Mt. Rock flows down with the water. So, crops tend to grow very well in the nearby regions of the river.”
Jazz: “No. That was in the past. Ever since Waltz started mining Mt. Rock things have changed a lot around this area.”



Falsetto: “Everything we do has some effect on the environment. And ultimately, that ends up affecting human society as well.”
*Awkward silence*
Viola: “That’s very true.”



Claves: “We’ll need to be up early tomorrow.”



*chirp!*

You said it, Arco.

*The next day...*



♪♪~ Silence and Life

This track is absolutely lovely, and it’s one of my favorites in the whole game. It’s very sparsely arranged, using only piano and very subtle string accompaniment. I think it works pretty well, and in fact I think that Motoi Sakuraba is really good at writing small-scale pieces like this and wish he was able to do it more often. He’s known for writing bombastic prog rock, but I think tracks like this show that he’s more versatile than people tend to give him credit for.



Adagio Swamp isn’t a very big or complicated area – it consists of two modestly-large sections and one main path with a few branches for treasure. It’s a nice change of pace after the mazier dungeons of Chapter 2.



Before we move on, let’s pop a quick save and then take a look at our party.



After merely tagging along in the last update, Jazz, Falsetto, and Claves join as official party members!



Jazz here is pretty tanky; he has the most HP and DEF of the party by a wide margin (the latter being helped by the fact that he exclusively wears Heavy armor), and he has the highest ATK as well. To balance this, his MAG is only decent, and he’s by far the slowest character in the group. As for his weapon, he fights with a large two-handed broadsword.



Falsetto, meanwhile, is easily the fastest character in the party, and you can pretty reliably count on her going first in battle. Backing this up is a very respectable ATK stat and decent defenses; her MAG isn’t great but will improve with time. As for equipment, she fights with her fists and wears gloves to facilitate this, and wears Light armor; she also shares Robes and Dresses with Viola.



Claves is an interesting character. She’s the only female character in the game that can wear Heavy armor, letting her act as something of a tank if needed; she also fights with rapiers, and although she doesn’t start out with a great weapon this will be remedied later on. She’s decently fast but her MAG leaves something to be desired, and it’ll take a few levels under her belt before Claves can really shine.

Since they’re lower in level than Viola and Allegretto, I decide to use Team Andantino as my active party. Now then, let’s be off.



...After this short cutscene.

Falsetto: “Is there a problem?”
Claves: “N-no, but…. It’s just, well, filthy.”
Falsetto: “Oh, come on. We can’t get to the hideout without going through here.”
Claves: “I know that!”
Viola: “...”



Never change, Viola.



Nothing over to the right except a sneak peak at some treasure we’ll have to fight a monster for.



Conveniently the path to it is right here, but first let’s say hi to the weird floating fish.



♪♪~ Leap the Precipice

The battlefield in Adagio Swamp is pretty cramped, being pretty small to begin with and having those two tree-stumps making positioning more difficult. It’s also mostly in darkness thanks to the surrounding trees, with sunlight only shining through the canopy in the middle. I’ll talk more about the fish a little later; since I was able to ambush the first few enemy groups I didn’t get a good chance of showing off their capabilities. However, this is a pretty good time to go over our new characters’ fighting styles.



Starting with Falsetto! She is an Echo-building machine; there’s not really a noticeable pause in her combo, and if she starts a turn next to an enemy she can build up to 15 Echoes, making her great for getting the Echo Meter started. To balance this, Falsetto has easily the shortest attack range of all the melee characters; you have to be right up in an enemy’s face to be able to hit them consistently, and as such proper positioning is especially important for her.



She starts out with a light special called Snow Claw, and it isn’t especially powerful, but it does hit an enemy nine times, making it great for Echo-building even if you fire it off at the end of her turn. It can even hit other enemies besides the main target if they’re close enough – especially the final hit – but it’s best not to rely on this since the range is pretty small.



Claves has a pretty average attack speed; her combo speed is about on par with Viola’s, I’d say. She also has pretty decent range on her rapier swings, although you still want her to be pretty close to enemies.



She comes with two light specials; this one here, Feather Spin, hits twice and can reach enemies behind Claves if you’re surrounded. It’s also quite flashy, which is always a plus.





We’ve reached the point where Peach Cookies aren’t worth using except to patch up a character who’s not quite at full health, so this is a nice find.



Back on the main path, we come across another monster, and as will often be the case in this area, the path doesn’t afford us enough room to move around it. But hey, that just means more of that sweet, sweet Exp.



On top of being the slowest character in our party, Jazz also has the slowest attack speed in the entire game; you’ll be lucky if you ever manage to do more than two combos with him on a given turn. To make up for this, he has the largest melee attack range of all the characters, allowing him to stand well away from enemies, and his broadsword swings cover a wide arc, letting him hit several enemies at once with proper positioning. In addition to all that, each swing in Jazz’s combo hits twice, which lets him put out big damage and still be decent at building Echoes.



His starting light special is Heat Blade; it hits seven times, with the final hit producing a pretty big explosion in front of him, and the preceding swings can hit enemies around Jazz as well. It’s pretty useful for building Echoes and deals good damage on top of that.



Moving on, there’s a treasure chest up those stairs, but I forgot it was there and end up opening it much later. Not a big deal, and in the meantime we can talk about the other enemy here in Adagio Swamp.



These scorpions are Rare Metal Pickers, which the fish monsters transform into in darkness.



Like the Caravan Crabs, the Rare Metal Pickers have pretty high DEF, so with Falsetto you’re better off spamming specials to punch through their carapace. Speaking of which…



Willow Strike is her dark special, and it hits three times. What’s weird about this special is that the final hit can also damage enemies to Falsetto’s right, but it’s actually pretty easy to get the positioning for that correct if two or more enemies are standing next to each other.



The good thing about Claves’s Espada Rapier is that it gets a damage boost against dark enemies, letting her deal respectable damage to the Rare Metal Pickers.



As for her dark special, Eagle Wing is just the dark version of Feather Spin, and all the same descriptors for that apply here.



Jazz’s dark special, Magma Pillar, only hits once, but it covers a huge area, as you can see here. It’s pretty useful for crowd control, especially if you have your Echo Meter saved up.



Most of the time you’ll be fighting the light form of the scorpions, a new enemy called the Blue Gil. These fish like to alternate between chomping you and swiping their tail.



The real danger they pose, though, is in this attack, which comes out very fast and can take off about 1,500 HP if unguarded. They’re weaker than the Rare Metal Pickers, so you don’t want to leave them hanging around for long if you can help it.



”Hey that would make a pretty good desktop background” count: 12



Dang, that chest is being guarded by a scorpion. Nothing for it but to fight!



Rare Metal Pickers have essentially the same attacks that Caravan Crabs did, just with updated names and strength, meaning they can still pierce multiple targets and poison a character at close range. They hurt, but they’re also pretty easy to guard against.



Score? Yes, actually; the Fish Incense is a new battle item that costs 3 points to put into the Item Set, and it lowers a single enemy’s DEF by 5%. It works pretty well against the Rare Metal Pickers, but I’d rather save my points for emergency healing items. Blue Gils also drop Fish Incense sometimes (in addition to Star Cookies), while Rare Metal Pickers sometimes drop Club Clovers.



It’s at this point that I remember to go back and get this before I forget about it entirely. An item found now is an item I don’t have to buy later, after all.



Back to the main path, at least for a little bit; we want to head up that bent-over tree first.



Always handy to pick up one of these.



Being that we’re in a swamp and all, we have to trudge through some remarkably clear swamp water to progress. (That tree in the foreground is not an alternate path; it is merely a tree.)



The path to the east leads to the next area, but we want to go down first.



Just past this scorpion…





We find an awesome new weapon for Viola. The increased movement speed from this bow will stack with the Speed Shoes, but this makes her kind of hard to control on the small battlefield of Adagio Swamp, so I’ll pass the Shoes off to Falsetto instead.
 

Albatoss

Prince
(He/him, they/them)


Back on track to the next area, there’s a well-hidden chest by the bushes and… eggs (?) in the background, which we’ll of course want to grab.



Another fork in the road; once again we’ll go south first.



Huh, there actually isn’t anything down here. I thought for sure there was, but I guess I was misremembering. Won’t say no to the Exp. though.



Right, detour over.



You know, it’s not a very big section of the game, but Adagio Swamp is still strikingly beautiful to look at. The sunlight streaming through the trees, the various types of plant-life blooming everywhere, the strangely clear water… I hadn’t noticed it beyond “dang Eternal Sonata sure is pretty” before starting this thread, but this game really does capture the Romantic Era’s whole “beauty of the natural world” thing pretty well, doesn’t it?



Anyway, there’s nothing off to the left so we’ll go east.



Before we cross the tree over to the end of the swamp, we’ll be wading through some more swamp water to reach that item I mentioned at the start of the area. This is a pretty good time to look at the new dark special Viola learned last time:



Hawk Eye deals very little damage – that’s only a three-digit number you’re seeing in the screenshot there – but that isn’t its main purpose.



Assuming the target doesn’t block the attack, a successful hit with Hawk Eye will put this circular glyph on the enemy. This makes it easier for Viola to hit the affected target with her arrows, since she only needs to hit inside of the glyph for the arrow to connect. But it has a second, more important effect:



Enemies marked with Hawk Eye will take drastically more damage from all attacks, and the glyph doesn’t go away until a) you use a special on that enemy, or b) the enemy is defeated.



This defense debuff is invaluable for bosses and makes tougher regular encounters much easier. Combining Hawk Eye with a full Echo Meter and Salsa’s Shadow Silhouette will let us put out truly absurd damage, but since she isn’t with this group we’ll have to make do with what we have, which is plenty enough already.



While I’m here, I might as well show off Allegretto’s Fire Wave as well. It’s decent if you really need Allegretto to have a long-distance attack, but personally I think you’re better off using him as a front-line attacker. It is at least nice to have the option, though.



This is Claves’s other light special, Unicorn Horn, which gives her some utility as a backup healer if necessary. It’s about as powerful as Viola’s Heal Arrow, and it’s faster to boot, but it doesn’t have the infinite range of the latter, so you’ll have to be closer to whoever you want to heal to use it properly.



Moving on, we’ll head north through the swamp…



Around the tree and west…



And score a new set of armor for Claves.



Back on the main path; I love the detail of the moss draping over the tree here.



I wonder what’s over to the left?



Nothin’ but these funky little mushrooms, it seems.



Heading up those stairs leads to progress, but we’ll go right first.



I spy a chest off in the distance there; we’ll grab it after we’re done investigating what’s over here.



Huh… didn’t expect that. Guess we can’t do anything about it for now, but let’s remember that this Blue Gil is here.



Back on the main path, running through the swamp some more…



Down the side path to the chest we saw earlier. The Big Paper Fan is another new battle item; it costs just 1 point to put into the Item Set, and inflicts Slow on a single enemy. We’ll hold onto this for a rainy day.



We’re almost through the swamp; just a little further past this sneaky scorpion…



Down to the southeast…



♪♪~ Well-Done

Falsetto: “Not bad!”

Not bad indeed! I’ll go over this special next time, but suffice it to say for now that it’s pretty good.



♪♪~ Silence and Life

At last we’ve reached the end of Adagio Swamp. I’ll just pop a quick save and head right on out.
 

Albatoss

Prince
(He/him, they/them)


Click to watch the cutscene

♪♪~ Relaxing Place



Oh good, we made it here before dark.



*Falsetto points to the inn.*
Falsetto: “That’s the inn we told you about. We’ve only ever been here once before, and that was quite a long time ago. I’m glad to see it’s still here.”
Allegretto: “Hey, it’s already pretty late. Let’s just stay here for the night.”



*Meanwhile, back at Forte Castle...*



♪♪~ Strategy

*Waltz taps his foot on the floor in annoyance.*



Waltz: “He wasn’t satisfied with taking his own life. He had to kill the guardian of Agogo Forest, too.”
Legato: “What shall we do, my lord?”
*Waltz thinks for a moment.*



Waltz: “This just proves how worthless Tuba really was. I feel more sorry for the bridge.”



*Later that night at Cantabile Inn...*



♪♪~ No music

*Viola walks into frame and spots Jazz nearby.*



Viola: “To think, all that time I was happily looking after my goats, you were making plans and doing things to change the world. I’m ashamed I didn’t act as soon as I knew something was wrong.”
Jazz: “There’s nothing to be ashamed of. You took good care of Arco and your herd, and you managed to do it all on your own.”



Viola: “Stop it, you’re gonna make me blush."
*She smiles; Jazz spots Allegretto sitting on the nearby pier.*



*Allegretto starts getting up as Viola walks over.*
Viola: “What’s bothering you, Allegretto? I know what it is. I bet you’re thinking about Polka. Right?”
*He doesn’t respond.*
Viola: “What’s the matter?”
Allegretto: “I’ve been thinking about this for a while now.”



Viola: “Huh?”
*Cue a brief flashback to Forte Castle...*



*Which continues up until this line:*



*At which point we return to the present.*



Viola: “No matter what they might say about Count Waltz, even he wouldn’t give orders to kill ordinary citizens who were just coming to visit him.”
Allegretto: “Exactly. That guy sounded like he knew that someone was supposed to be showing up at that time. And he was waiting for them.”



Jazz: “What?”
Allegretto: “Yeah. It’s possible you’ve got a spy working in your group.”
Jazz: “But Claves and Falsetto were the only ones who knew about that mission.”



It would mean that it’s highly likely one of them is a Forte spy, and we have no way of knowing which of them it is. Things just got a lot more tense…

This scene is slightly different here in the PS3 port; in the original Xbox 360 version Viola and Jazz talk more about her goats instead of the whole “I wish I had done something sooner” bit, although I’m pretty sure the second half of the cutscene is the same.



♪♪~ Relaxing Place

Regardless, there’s not much we can do about the possible spy right now, so I’ll round out the update by taking a look around the inn.



Something tells me it’s going to be October 17th for a while; just a hunch.



Allegretto: “That’s right, I saw a menu out front.”

We’ll take a look at it once we’re done inside.



We can stay the night again for 200 Gold, but there is no reason to do that since we just did for free less than five minutes ago. Instead, let’s go see what’s in the other room.



Allegretto: “Mr. Squeakers?”
Traveler: “He’s my precious pet rat! Please help me catch him!”



It might be hard to see, but the rat in question is busy scurrying all over the place.

Allegretto: “I guess I’d better help.”
*He runs over...*



*This continues for a while:*
Allegretto: “He got away again! He’s really fast!”
*scurry scurry*
“Now where did he go?”
*Finally:*



Allegretto: “Be careful not to lose him again.”
Traveler: “Oh, great! Thank you so much for catching Mr. Squeakers! When I think about life without him, I get all choked up. Here, it’s not much, but I want to give you something to thank you.”



Traveler: “Thank you so much. From now on I’ll make sure to keep Mr. Squeakers shut tight in his cage.”

Thanks, I think? Somebody will appreciate the fact that we have it later on, I’m sure.



One more spot to check before we head outside.



A bit unorthodox to punch monsters with, but I’ll take it.



Lovely weather outside. Looks like the perfect day for a zipped-up hoodie.



“Local Specialties Full Course!

-Foil-baked Devilfish
-Poison Up-Mushroom Stew
-Adagio Bog Water Steamed Rice
-Drop Dead Pudding (Ingredients change daily!)

All dishes prepared with the freshest local ingredients and a touch of elegance. Bon Appétit!”

Allegretto: “I think I’m going to be sick.”

Yeah uh, let’s just not eat here, how’s that sound?



“Don’t eat any of those spores by mistake, now. You look like the kind of guy who would eat anything.”
“Antidotes are useless. They won’t work on the powerful poisons in Woodblock.”

This old man is referring to the next area we’ll be passing through, Woodblock Grove. More on that place next time.



Allegretto: “Hey! Nice!”

This isn’t much money at this point, but that won’t stop me from grabbing it anyway.



Allegretto: “What’s this? There’s something in here.”



Oh hey, a new Score Piece! It’s been a while since we’ve found one of those. On that note, I’m going to call the update here; we’ll go through this Woodblock place in the next update.

Next time: Continuing on our way to Andantino’s hideout.
 

Albatoss

Prince
(He/him, they/them)
Glossary of musical terms

Blues – A genre of music that originated in the American South in the 1870s from roots in African musical traditions, African-American work songs, and spirituals. The blues is characterized by the use of (among other things) the call-and-response pattern, the blues scale and blue note, and specific chord progressions, of which the twelve-bar blues is the most common.

Adagio – A tempo marking, on the slower end of things (between 66-76 bpm), and often also used to indicate that the section or piece of music should be played with great expression.

Cantabile – An Italian word that literally means “singable” or “songlike”; used in instrumental music to refer to a style of playing that is designed to imitate the human voice.

Woodblock – A percussion instrument that’s pretty much exactly what the name implies. Played by striking it with a stick or mallet, which alters the sound depending on what’s used; the size of the woodblock is also a factor in determining the sound that is produced.
 
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Albatoss

Prince
(He/him, they/them)
Man this game is pretty. I've also never heard of a Cantabile before!
Yes it is! And I'm happy to spread musical knowledge around, however small.

Also, here is some art, this time of Jazz:





It's kinda hard to see since he's holding it behind him, but I believe that some euphonium valves are worked into the design of his broadsword, which is pretty cool. It's definitely some type of brass instrument, at least!
 

Albatoss

Prince
(He/him, they/them)
Music!

Chopin - Impromptu No. 1 in A Flat Major, Op. 29
Impromptu No. 2 in F Sharp Major, Op. 36

Maurice Ravel - Jeux d'eau
Sonatine

Impromptus and fantasias/fantasies are pretty similar in form and function - they're both genres generally free of strict form and written to appear as if a given piece was improvised on the spot. Chopin only wrote a small handful of impromptus in his lifetime, including this chapter's namesake, which went on to become one of his most famous works despite almost not being published at all (but more on that later).

Maurice Ravel was a 20th-century French composer who is often associated with the Impressionist movement along with Claude Debussy, although both composers rejected the term being applied to them. He's probably most famous for his orchestral arrangement of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, and indeed many of his pieces exist in two versions - first as a solo piano piece and then later an orchestrated version. Ravel also served as an ambulance driver during World War I while he was in his forties. He's one of my favorite composers, so I'll definitely share more of his music in the future.
 

Albatoss

Prince
(He/him, they/them)
Verse 3-2: The Poisoned Groves

Hello and welcome back to Frederic Chopin’s Dreamtime Express! Last time we caught up with Allegretto, Viola, and Team Andantino as they traveled through the Adagio Swamp on their way to the rebel hideout, and also had the unfortunate realization that there might be a Forte spy in their midst.



♪♪~ Relaxing Place

We’ll just have to sit on that knowledge for the moment as we continue onwards.



Click to watch the cutscene

♪♪~ Wonderland of Wanderer

Claves: “We’re finally back home.”



Maybe y’all are used to it, but I don’t think Allegretto or Viola like the look of this place very much.





This might be my least favorite area in the game. It’s kind of a pain to navigate (especially if you want to find all the items), and there’s an annoying gimmick to deal with during battles as well. I’ll do my best to show where we’re going in a way that’s easy to follow, but if y’all get lost I apologize in advance; heck, I got turned around a couple times myself while I was recording footage for this chapter. At least the music is good!

This track is incredibly gloomy, and fits the aesthetic and mood of its accompanying area very well. As you might expect from a place called Woodblock Groves, the woodblock features prominently, although it’s used more for textural purposes than anything else. The bassoon is the real star of the show here, carrying the melody for the majority of the run-time, while the clarinets provide some lovely counter-melodies.



A lot of the pathways in this area loop back on themselves; it’s pretty simple right now, but these pathways will get more complex to navigate further in. But for now let’s get acquainted with the main enemy of the area.



♪♪~ Leap the Precipice

The battlefield for Woodblock Groves is pretty large, with two tree-stumps potentially complicating your positioning. It’s mostly in light with some shadows on the outer edges, but these shadows will actually grow larger the deeper into Woodblock we go.



On top of this, your party will suffer an automatic poison status for every fight throughout the area. The damage isn’t all that much to worry about, but flinching from said damage eats into a character’s Tactical Time, giving you even less time to think before your turn starts than normal.



The Mushroom Up is the next step up from the Bolbos we fought in Andantino’s Secret Passage back in Chapter 2; they have the same general attacks and big bags of HP as their weaker cousins. Building up a full Echo Meter is the best way to take care of them, and Viola’s Hawk Eye special will help defeat them much faster as well.



Speaking of specials, here’s Night Fist, which Falsetto learned last update. It hits twice (with the second hit being much more damaging than the first), and the resulting blast can hit enemies from a pretty fair distance away. Note that the first hit has to connect for the blast to appear, so you can’t just spam it from far away like you’re playing as an ersatz Beat, sadly.



That taken care of, we can cross the bridge we passed under earlier.



From there it’s a straight shot down this winding path…



Over to a resting traveler that is unfortunately being blocked by this weird mushroom in the foreground; you can just barely make out his hat if you squint, though.



Hungry Drum: “Hey, would you mind keeping me company while I take a breather?”

Not at all, stranger.



Playing our first Score Piece along to his results in what I believe is our first S-Rank!

Hungry Drum: “What?! That harmony! It’s like my mom’s Casserole Surprise! You couldn’t tell by looking at it, but it’s delicious!”



Hungry Drum: “A session with you is like forbidden fruit. I know it’s not right, but I’ve got to have just one more bite!”

Uh, thanks??? Anyway, the Brilliant Brooch is an interesting accessory that grants permanent Shining Body while equipped. Like the name implies, it’s the opposite of the Darkness Body status: the affected character projects an aura of light around them that prevents them and anyone standing in the aura from using dark specials. Of the two statuses, Shining Body takes priority; if a character who has Darkness Body stands in the aura projected by Shining Body, that latter overrides the former and the character can use light specials again.



Moving on from Hungry Drum, we soon come across a fork in the path. Going straight ahead will lead to the next area of Woodblock, but we want to hop off the bridge first to grab an item.



So we do that, circle around to this log bridge…



Across the bridge to a path overlooking the one we were on earlier…



And over to a chest guarded by the other new enemy of Woodblock.



Bloody Onions are the tougher, meaner cousins of the Great Coconuts from back in Agogo Forest. They have pretty beefy defenses, so if you don’t have Viola in your party you’re probably better off spamming specials against them (or building up Echoes with Jazz).



They have two separate long-range attacks to use against your party, with Burning Onion being single-target and Onion Fall being an AoE; they also have a breath attack that doesn’t see much use, which I’ll show off later on.



After the battle we open up the chest the Bloody Onion was guarding, which contains a new sword for Allegretto. It’s at this point that I realize I completely forgot to make use of the Crescent Blade we got from Tuba.



Which is kind of a shame, because that HP regen would have been pretty nice up to this point! Oh well, I guess.



Anyway, we’ll just hop off the ledge and press onward deeper into Woodblock.



We immediately come to a three-way split in the path; we can hop off to the left, jump down straight ahead and go across the bridge, or run off to the right. We want to go left.



Doing so leads to this chest at the base of the ledge we just jumped off of, which is pretty hidden if you don’t approach it from the north like so.



Sweet, new broadsword for Jazz! He’s doing a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to fighting Bloody Onions, so this is a welcome find.



That obtained, we’ll move on. We can either hop off the ledge near that Bloody Onion…



Jump off the very bridge we just crossed…



Or circle around back to where the path originally split and take the middle route across this bridge.



All of these routes lead to the next section of this area, a chest that’s out of reach for the moment, and this Bloody Onion blocking the way forward.



Speaking of which, now that the battlefield is darker there’s a good chance that a given Bloody Onion will spawn in the shadows, transforming it into a Leaf Egg.



Leaf Eggs are much weaker than their light counterparts, but they’ll almost always make a break for the light if given the opportunity, so it’s better to prioritize taking them out so they don’t get the chance to transform. Interestingly, in the original Xbox 360 version of the game Leaf Eggs actually gave more Exp. than Bloody Onions, but this was reversed for the PS3 port.



Moving on, we get a glimpse of the tangled mess of pathways that lie ahead of us.



For now we can only circle around this large cluster of mushrooms…



But soon we come to another fork in the road. Keeping on the path would lead to the next area, but as always we want to grab some items first, so it’s off the ledge we go.



From the ledge we’ll move west across this bridge…



Circle around to this mushroom/log bridge…



Then up said bridge…



Get burped on by this Bloody Onion (gross)…



And pick up this new armor for Falsetto. Viola can equip it as well, but she doesn’t need the DEF boost as much.



The nearby ledge takes us back to the original fork in the path, and from there we’ll hop down again but head south this time.



Circling around leads to a shortcut back to the original path…





But first we’ll grab this new weapon for Claves. The ATK downgrade might make it seem like we don’t want to equip it, but the added effect will help her deal more damage to the Bloody Onions (who happen to be light-aligned monsters), and the more advantages we have against those things the better.



That obtained, it’s time to move on.
 

Albatoss

Prince
(He/him, they/them)


Jazz: “Everyone, put these on. It won’t protect us for long, but it should help purify the toxins for a little while.”
*He starts handing something to the rest of the group.*



Viola: “Hey, you gave me two by mistake.”
Jazz: “One is for Arco, of course.”



The Neutralizing Stone doesn’t get rid of the permanent poison status you’re under here, but it does drastically reduce the damage it inflicts – from around 4-5% of a character’s max HP to like, 10 or 11 damage total. It’s nice, but I would prefer not to have to deal with the poison in the first place.



Anyway, we’ll start this area off by heading northeast to this ledge; if we continued around the path we’re on it would wrap back around to the entrance so we’ll jump off here instead.



From there we’ll move across this bridge…



Over to a second bridge which we’ll jump off of…



Following the path northwest…



And circle around back southeast to this chest being blocked by the item prompt. This makes four Score Pieces so far.



Fast-forwarding back to the second bridge, which we’ll cross this time so we can follow the path northwest…



Leading to this Bloody Onion that’s slightly different from the others.



*squeak!*
Allegretto: “Huh? You want this?”
*Handed over Winder*
*squeak!*

Allegretto: “Whoa!”



Allegretto: “Is the winder making him move? Huh? There’s something on the ground.”



Aw geez, this is the next item in the trading sidequest. That means…



It’s time to backtrack!



♪♪~ Relaxing Place

We won’t get the chance to do this later, which is why I’m taking care of it now. Good thing we aren’t very far from the next step in the trade.



♪♪~ Silence and Life

Allegretto: “Oh! Of course! We can fill this empty vase with water and dump it on him!”



I appreciate that it actually shows Allegretto doing this instead of going with a simple fade-to-black.



*The Blue Gil spins around, waves its head at Allegretto, and swims off.*
Allegretto: “You could at least say thanks. Hmm? There’s something on the ground.”



Nice! This is a very good accessory that increases the wearer’s ATK by 10%. Putting it on Jazz would turn him into an absolute wrecking ball, but I’m going to equip Claves with it instead so she can deal more damage against non-Bloody Onion enemies.

Back to Woodblock!



♪♪~ Wonderland of Wanderer

The little path that formerly-inert Bloody Onion was on is just a dead end, so we’ll keep going west.



Doing so leads to a bridge, where – of course – we’ll want to hop off of it.



This lets us reach a chest with a Club Clover in it, which is handy. Then we can just jump off the log…



And reach the next area.



We’ll be crossing that bridge eventually, but for now we’ll keep going northeast…



To this bridge, which we want to jump off of.



Hmm… the damage increase with this weapon is nice, but the movement speed boost from the Swallow Shooter is just too good. I’ll hold onto this for now in case we want to equip it later.





Continuing on from there leads to another chest with an always-useful Angel Trumpet.



Back to the bridge we hopped off, crossing it now instead…



Hopping off the nearby ledge…



Over and across the bridge we ran under when we first entered the area…



♪♪~ Well-Done

Claves: “I can’t complain!”

Oh, nice! In the original game Claves learned this special at level 56, which is uh, a bit higher than where we’re at. I’ll show this off later.



Anyway, with that pleasant interruption out of the way we’ll keep going and pass under this bridge.



Then we need to circle around and jump off this ledge…



Cross the weird mushroom bridge…



And snag this Star Cookie at the end of the path.



That gotten, we’ll hop off the mushroom bridge and head to (and then jump off of) this other bridge…





Then hop off the ledge behind the Bloody Onion and walk over to this chest. The Floral Extract is an upgrade over the standard Floral Powder, healing a character for 75% of their max HP instead of 50%, but it costs 4 points to put into the Item Set rather than 2.



Immediately below that chest is another one containing this Angel Trumpet. From there we’ll hop off the ledge to the next area…



Well that sucks! It’s a good thing we’re pretty much done with Woodblock at this point. That said, I’ll pop a quick save and reorganize the party a little bit before we press onward.
 

Albatoss

Prince
(He/him, they/them)


Click to watch the cutscene and boss fight



Of course we couldn’t just reach Andante without incident; first we have to fight, uh… what is that exactly? A haunted smoothie with wings??



Whatever it is, I’m sure we can handle it. It’s go time!



♪♪~ Opposition Resignation

Boss: Trick or Treat, Red Cap x2
HP: 225,730
Exp: 15,000 total (Xbox 360), 11,300 total (PS3)
Gold: 200 total (Xbox 360), 10,200 total (PS3)
I’m sorry it gives *how* much gold: Yup! I’m guessing this change was made because photos are worth so much less in this version of the game, and since Beat isn’t in the party right now the developers thought players might be running low on cash at this point. Anyway!



Jazz: “Don’t think, just attack! You mustn't hesitate!”

It sucks that the Neutralizing Stone broke just before this fight, but the poison isn’t really the big concern here: it’s the high HP total of the Trick or Treat and its minions, plus the deadly AoE attacks and general unpredictability of the boss.



The Trick or Treat’s basic attack is to alternate between bonking you with its face and jumping on your head. Both of these can hit multiple characters thanks to the boss being so big, meaning it’s in your best interest to keep your party spread out if possible.



While I’m here capitalizing on the boss’s foolish decision to group itself up with the Red Cap, here’s Obsidian Needle! It’s a dark special that hits seven times, with the final hit causing major knockback. It’s pretty powerful and quite useful for building up Echoes, especially in situations like this.



The Red Caps are almost identical to the Mushroom Ups we’ve been fighting throughout Woodblock in terms of movesets, but they have higher defense and much more HP – 70,500 compared to the Mushroom Up’s 47,000. I had forgotten this crucial detail before recording footage for this chapter, and it made the fight take much longer than it probably should have as a result.



Jazz: “Burn away to nothing!”

On the plus side, I’m at least keeping this Red Cap busy so that Falsetto and Claves aren’t mobbed by every enemy in the battle.

Curiously, Red Caps are exclusive to the PS3 port of this game; in the Xbox 360 release the Trick or Treat was accompanied by regular ol’ Mushroom Ups, which had about half the HP they do here. This one change makes the fight much harder than it originally was! Of course, you could bring Viola along for an easier time – Hawk Eye makes short work of most things – but I wanted to take Team Andantino for a spin.



Unfortunately you can’t really see it here, but I manage to hit the Red Cap that Jazz is fighting with this Night Fist! Love when that happens.



As for the boss, Trick or Treat has some pretty dangerous moves in its arsenal. Mushroom Party (which is an awesome name, btw) is its most powerful attack, an AoE that can hit anyone in a pretty substantial range. Inevitable Punishment, meanwhile, is odd in that it’s kind of a long-range melee attack? The boss teleports over to its target and smacks them twice with its wings before returning to its original position.



Falsetto: “The shadow of the flower falls on the vortex and knows no fear. Imperial spirit!”

Anyway, with both Red Caps taken care of we can start focusing on the Trick or Treat.



Of course, since everyone’s surrounding the boss that means it can really put the hurt on us if we screw up the guard timing on its attacks.



On top of this, since its idle animation involves doing little jumps and flipping around in place, your melee attacks might miss sometimes, which is annoying but not the end of the world as long as you time your attacks correctly.



If one or both of the Red Caps have been defeated, the Trick or Treat can revive them with Heaven’s Assist, but this only restores them for 4,300 HP, allowing you to take them out again in a single character’s turn with minimal fuss. Dander Fume is another AoE which, while troublesome, is much less harmful than Mushroom Party.



Claves: “Can you see the point of my sword?”

I gotta say, Obsidian Needle and Night Fist have been doing a lot of heavy lifting in this fight. Thanks, Claves and Falsetto!



That last onslaught wasn’t quite enough to defeat it, but Falsetto manages to land the final blow on the Trick or Treat with a standard punch-roundhouse combo.



Then shortly afterwards Jazz brings it on home. Thanks, Jazz!



♪♪~ Well-Done

Jazz: “We won’t be stopped!”

Phew! Glad that’s over with. The rewards are very nice, too – those Recovery Gloves will be seeing a lot of use throughout the game.



Jazz: “Very good!”

And we learn a new special, too! I’ll show this off later.



♪♪~ Wonderland of Wanderer

The game just dumps us back where we were after the battle, so I take the opportunity to shuffle around some equipment. Moving on from that…



Click to watch the cutscene

♪♪~ No music

Allegretto: “What do you mean, ‘we made it’? There’s nothing here.”
*Falsetto chuckles.*
Falsetto: “It’s no wonder you’re confused.”
*She points straight down.*



Viola: “It’s underground?!”
*Allegretto looks at the ground below his feet in amazement.*
Jazz: “Yes. Though it’s not that impressive. But it’s more than enough for us to live comfortably.”



Heh, even Falsetto has to admit that’s a pretty good joke.

Jazz: “This is Andantino’s headquarters. Everyone here is one of us. Please, make yourselves at home. Falsetto, would you mind showing our guests around the town?”
Falsetto: “No problem.”
Jazz: “Okay. We’ll go on ahead. When you get tired of sightseeing, come and join us.”
Allegretto: “Where’re you going?”
Falsetto: “To the house we’ve been using as a base.”



Jazz: “Later.”
*He waves, and he and Claves head off.*



Good idea; the sooner we can put Woodblock Groves behind us, the better.



However, before we head into town…



♪♪~ Relaxing Place

We can at least poke around the outskirts of Lake Reverb first.



Lonely Pitch: “Yes, so long as I have the music of loneliness, I need nothing more.”



Playing Score Piece 1 for Pitch gets us a B-Rank; using Score Piece 3 will also get this result.

Lonely Pitch: “Loneliness is truly something people cannot do without. You had better set aside some time to be alone with yourself.”



We’ll just accept the reward and be on our way.



There isn’t anything else in this area, but it at least looks pretty chill. We can try heading to the house that Claves and Jazz went to, but…



No dice. Ah well, I think this is a good stopping point for now; we can poke around Andante later.

Next time: Aforementioned poking around Andante and the end of Chapter 3!
 
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Albatoss

Prince
(He/him, they/them)
Glossary of Musical Terms

Andante – A tempo marking that’s moderately slow (around 76-108 bpm); sometimes described as playing at a “walking pace.”

Drum – I mean I presume y’all know what a drum is, but I gotta be thorough with these things. Anyway, the drum is a family of percussion instruments that consist of at least one membrane, called the drumhead or drum skin, that is stretched over a shell and played by being struck either directly with the hands or with a percussion stick or mallet. They're the world's oldest and most ubiquitous musical instruments, and the basic design has remained pretty much unchanged for thousands of years, which is rad as heck.

Reverb – Short for “reverberation”, which refers to the psychoacoustic phenomenon of the persistence of a sound after that sound is produced.

Pitch – This one is actually kind of complicated to define, because it’s less of a physical thing and more of a perceptual property of certain sounds that lets us do things like put them into musical scales, or perceive intervals between two different pitches. Getting into it in any more detail kind of necessitates getting into psychoacoustics which is a whole separate can of worms I’m not really qualified to talk about. Feel free to follow those links for a decent starting point on that, though!
 

Albatoss

Prince
(He/him, they/them)
That's... not great! I just checked the BB code and I'm pretty sure it's all formatted correctly, and the image host I'm using (imgur) doesn't seem to be down right now, so I'm not sure what the deal is. Is anyone else having this problem? I'm open to suggestions on how to fix this.
 

Albatoss

Prince
(He/him, they/them)
It is time for more art:



Falsetto is my favorite character to play as in this game; I'm always a sucker for monk-type characters in games (I blame playing Legend of Legaia a lot as a kid for this), and she's of my favorite examples. I remember my first few playthroughs I pretty much always had her in the active party. I've also only just noticed that Falsetto isn't wearing the weird bracers in the drawn artwork, only the render. I assume they assist in punching monsters.
 

spines

behold my godlike
(she/her, or something)
i played this game when it was new on 360 and liked it decently. the battle system gradually morphing from a simplistic valkyrie profile 2 thing to chaotic and somewhat unpredictable button mashing was pretty fun, and the soundtrack is noticeably better than its contemporaries in sakuraba's oeuvre (at least that i can think of...i.e. tales games and infinite undiscovery), even setting aside the straight up chopin pieces. but gosh the early hd era was a strange one of really small and straightforward jrpgs; i think i ended up finishing this one in about 20 hours including the bonus dungeon. as someone who didn't have an hd display at first and had really high expectations of some of these teams it was pretty jarring, but i think i'll definitely have to read through this one (the lp forum is one i haven't checked out in ages, and it's past time for me to look through many of these, i imagine). though i might try and track down a copy of the rerelease and play through it before that...
 

Albatoss

Prince
(He/him, they/them)
That length of time sounds about right for my distant memories of the 360 release, but I can assure you we'll be taking longer than 20 hours to reach the end of the PS3 port; I would say it's around 30-ish hours now for the main story content, give or take an hour or two in either direction. I hope you end up reading this thread! I'm always happy to have new readers.

Anyway, here's some more music:

Chopin - Impromptu No. 3 in G Flat Major, Op. 51
Fantaisie in F Minor, Op. 49

Margaret Bonds - Troubled Water
The Negro Speaks of Rivers

Margaret Bonds was a 20th-century American composer, notable for being one of the first black composers and performers to gain recognition in the United States. She also collaborated frequently with Langston Hughes, setting some of his poetry and other texts to music (the second link above is one example). Bonds mainly wrote pieces that involved voice in some capacity, either choral pieces or works for voice and piano, but she wrote a small handful of orchestral works as well.
 
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Albatoss

Prince
(He/him, they/them)
Nothing to see here, just a quick post to start a new page in this thread. See y'all in a bit!
 
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