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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Lost Odyssey: The Hell Shaker Grind

After failing to get on my exercise bike last night (busy night, too lazy, too tired, etc), I popped in Lost Odyssey. I figured I could still squeeze in a little RPG action despite the late hour. My party of characters is currently in Gohtza. They need to speak with the King of Gohtza for some reason or another. I honestly don't remember what I'm trying to do in the game after having taken such a long hiatus - though I'm sure it's about stopping the guy who stole Kaim's memories. There appears to be much more going on than it would appear at first glance but I'll have to keep playing to uncover the rest of the puzzle.

I was stuck on outskirts of Gohtza with no idea what to do. I couldn't get into the heart of the city because Kaim and the rest of the group are not citizens of Gohtza. I traveled to Low Town, did a little gambling, and looked everywhere I could for some form of citizenship papers. My search came up empty. But there was a gambler who kept asking for money and I figured that he might be the key to getting into the city. Maybe if Kaim lent the gambler enough money, Kaim could eventually force the gambler to turn over his own papers of citizenship in exchange for a little loan forgiveness...? The only problem I had with this plan was that my party was completely broke. I'd spent all of the party's money on healing potions (Lost Odyssey can be pretty tough at times).

I figured I should go out and perhaps "grind" a little to earn enough scratch to pay off the Low Town gambler. Although Lost Odyssey discourages level grinding by reducing the amount of experience you earn from "easy" fights, my party's characters were not high-level (around level 29 or so) and I just wanted some money.

I traveled to the Numara Atoll on the Lost Odyssey world map. I recalled that there were some difficult fights in this area when I first visited the Numara Atoll...sometime last year, I think. I was right. The Numara Atoll area is swarming with these nasty buggers called Hell Shakers.

Hell Shakers are these big fish-like creatures. They can take a pretty big beating before dying. And they have a few devastating attacks at their disposal:

  1. The Hell Shaker's standard attack will take close to 1000 HP of any your front-row party members. I keep Seth and Kaim as my front-row "wall" in my party formation. They can each take one hit from a Hell Shaker before collapsing. Two hits and it's all over.

  2. The Hell Shaker's All-Aquarus is a devastating water-based spell that attacks all party members at once. It's powerful enough to take out everyone in my back row (Sarah, Jansen, and Mack/Cooke) and really puts quite a bit of hurt on Seth and Kaim.

  3. Finally, the Hell Shaker's Ground Shake is another spell-like attack that targets the entire party at once. Thankfully, this attack is not quite as effective against the protected back row of my party's formation. But it still stings and gets me scrambling to heal everyone before the Hell Shaker launches another attack.
I took on about ten Hell Shakers in quick succession last night during my grinding run. I finally figured out a fairly good approach to the fight using Kaim and Seth as my front row with Jansen, Sarah, and Cooke holed up in the back row. Of course, there are a ton of configuration options in terms of skills and equipment that mean the difference between a good party and a great party of characters. I haven't really done all that much optimization and I try not to look online for that type of help when it comes to role-playing games. I think blindly experiencing RPGs is the best way to enjoy these games.

My general strategy for tacking a Hell Shaker is as follows:

  1. Sarah's job is to cast Powerus (physical attack buff) on both Kaim and Seth. When Kaim's attack power is upped by Sarah, he's able to do about 1300 HP worth of damage using his Combo skill; Seth does about 1100 HP worth of damage using her Combo skill. Hell Shakers only have 9120 HP total so you can see how valuable Powerus is for this battle. Once Sarah has successfully powered up the front line melee specialists, I used Sarah to target the Hell Shaker with her entire arsenal of offensive spells.

  2. Jansen's job is to hit the Hell Shaker with a poison spell as soon as possible. The Hell Shaker takes about 1100 HP worth of damage every round while poisoned. Once the Hell Shaker is poisoned, I use Jansen to spam offensive spells or healing spells as necessary.

  3. Cooke's focus is on keeping the party healthy. I'll use Cooke to cast Heal whenever necessary. I'll also use Cooke to cast Seal when I see the Hell Shaker readying All-Aquarus. The All-Aquarus spell takes the Hell Shaker a couple of turns to cast. I tend to wait until the second turn before casting Seal forcing the Hell Shaker to lose two full turns of action (one turn used preparing the spell and a second turn wasted when "sealed" just prior to casting). I really find that this delay in casting Seal is critical to getting the upper-hand against an otherwise powerful foe.

  4. Finally, Kaim and Seth just pound on the Hell Shaker using their Combo attacks.
Using this strategy, I've been able to take down Hell Shakers in 4 turns or less. As my party continued to level up, I was finally able to keep all five party members alive to share in the flood of experience points awarded at the end of the battle. And with a save point close by, I was able to save my game every couple of fights. I'd then quit and reload my game to take advantage of Lost Odyssey's "feature" of replenishing all party members' HP and MP upon resuming a previously saved game. This trick is crucial to successfully grinding out some extra cash or levels in Lost Odyssey. Otherwise, you'd eat through far too many potions.

Did this post come across as too technical for those of you who haven't played Lost Odyssey? Am I a nerd for getting so excited in discussing my strategy for beating a giant fish in a Western-ized J-RPG? Who am I kidding? I was a nerd well before today and I'm fine with that.

Tonight I'm going to find my way into Gohtza. I did check out a spoiler-free walk-through on GameFAQs. It ends up that the key to getting into Gohtza has nothing to do with the gambler in Low Town. So my level/gold Hell Shaker grind was pointless in terms of advancing the story. But I'm sure the extra 10-15 levels of experience will pay off in the end.

Have a good one!

Bonus: I found a YouTube video of a Hell Shaker battle in Lost Odyssey. The video isn't of the greatest quality but it's all I could find.
You'll notice that the user has decided to use Ming as part of his party. I opted to forgo using Ming because her outfit, while certainly alluring in the absence of all other factors, is just plain disturbing when you consider that there are two children traveling with the group. I wouldn't feel too good about my kids traveling with a veiny-breasted exhibitionist. I'd probably make an exception if my kids were on some sort of "quest" to save the world or something. I'm also fairly certain that my wife would have an extra sweater or something that she could lend out if this exact scenario were to come up.