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Well then. This be the most complicated DS game I’ve ever played. Woah kids. I never said “fuck this noise.” There’s some good combat up in this. This is a one-of-a-kind battle system everybody should experience as it’s a Strategy RPG that moves at the speed of you. Think Secret of Mana * Disgaea * Big Bang Mini. Despite all the complaining on the complexity, I haven’t lost yet on Normal. There’s too much tutorial for one player to take in without stabbing one’s face, so let me tell you things ya actually need to know as opposed to the encyclopedia the game wants you to know…at least to get you through the first 10 stages…
I’m a lazy guy, you’re a lazy guy. This here’s a beginner’s guide for lazy people that don’t suck at videogames.
Step 1: Watch all the Basic Steps section before you start the game. Don’t worry about the Tutorial right away.
Step 2: Read this guide
Step 3: Play game with sound. Audio cues are very important when trying to follow what the hell this game is doing, despite the failwhale voice acting.
Step 4?: Reread guide or go this way if still confused: www.atlus.com/knights
WTF is the Objective?
Before the fight, see that 4×4 grid on the bottom left (top screen) with the horizontal lines? Some of them may say ‘KILL’. All you’re doing is playing 4×4 Tic Tac Toe/Connect Four. You want to run a line of four kills horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. Every horizontal line represents the lifeline of a bad guy. Kill one, you get the ‘KILL’ label on the grid part the enemy represents. Every “battle” you think you’re fighting with that wisp countdown is really just called a turn (and I’ll just call ‘battle turn’). You are given something like 9-ish of these ‘battle turns’ to kill enough enemies to make a tic tac toe on this 4×4 grid. At the beginning of each battle turn you get to pick which spots on the grid you fight the enemies in what looks like a slot machine. If you have any Mario Party dice-manipulation skills whatsoever, you can time it so you can pick any grid space you want. The colored lights flash in the same order, so count how many flashes it takes for your light to reach the space you want and stop the slot machine accordingly.
SideTip: If you see one horizontal bar has two different color lifelines, that enemy is going to recover health. Depending on the bad guy, it could recover over time if you don't select it again, or it can recover if you hand pick that enemy for another fight right away. It’s kinda like the Vs. Street Fighter series when you swap a partner out. The longer lifeline is the amount the bad guy can recover. In most cases, just try to select the same enemy multiple times in a row until dead since enemy damage accumulates across multiple turns.
WTF How do I Battle?
Ok, that Basic Steps training thing taught you about the “Law” and “Chaos” states right? We’ll call them L & C. Each weapon can only do any real damage in either the L phase or C phase. Look in the upper right corner next to the weapon item, you’ll see a tiny L or C next to it. That means drag and drop the weapon on whoever can use it during that matching phase if you want to get anywhere.
First, drop off any Key Items you equipped with anybody who will take them [see *|* way below]
This is how you battle assuming the turn battle phase started with L:
L phase, drag & equip L weapon on whoever it’ll let you, charge one attack till you see a percentage% on enemy, let go touchscreen, switch to C phase, drag & equip C weapon on whoever it’ll let you, charge one attack till you see a percentage% on enemy, let go touchscreen, switch to L phase, drag & equip L weapon on whoever it’ll let you, charge one attack till you see a percentage% on enemy, let go touchscreen, switch to C phase… repeat until you run out of battle turn time or MP.
If your weapon icons grayed out and you can’t create a big percentage% attack, methinks you ran out of MP.
In the event you run out of MP:
Repeat regular crosshair (non %percentage basic) attacks with/on the same guy until you get enough crystals to get back up to at least MP level 2 (top right bar), resume the attack cycle above.
If you’re annoyed at accidentally selecting other things when you’re just trying to go to the phase change or item selector, hold L or R button to hide your Wisp so that doesn’t happen. Holding this also cancels any attack you accidentally began charging. The big one is the wisp takes half damage while holding L or R. It will deselect equipped weapons though, so you’ll have to put on a new item weapon and connect your big attack without hiding.
If you graze enemy bullet patterns with the wisp, you’ll get experience point bonuses; kinda like Raiden Fighters.
SideTip 1: "percentage% attacks" that I'm calling them are really called "Skill Attacks". Those attacks with the intro name, and the picture of your guy in the corner, and the flashy everything starts exploding, and you hit the enemy in some 8-hit combo even though you swung your dagger once, and your dude says "Hey I think that worked!!" or something weird like that. Yet, the only way you can tell if you're about to do a skill attack is if a large percentage amount appears on the enemy before you attack, so yeah...percentage% attack.
SideTip 2: I’m having you switch between C & L after one attack constantly because after a single large percentage% attack that generates a 'spell', that ‘fog’ thing the game always talks about is already halfway depleted. Also, you don’t have to worry about identifying how much fog is there. If you look at the Law and Chaos icons themselves, they also function as a meter which happens to quantify how much fog you really have. If either icon looks halfway drained, switch to the other phase for the hell of it. If you're doing this attacking the way I tell you, you don't have to worry much about crystals and MP and all that jazz because you'll be generating so much of it during all your big attacks, it won't matter.
SideTip 3: Anytime you see a gray box with a number in it and a small arrow on one edge, keep drawing tight circles around it with your wisp. Just do it, because I dunno what the icon is for half the time, but that number (sometimes it's an element) in the center reduces with every circle you draw around it. Oh yeah, if you see "bonus chance" on an enemy, poke it with the stylus.
SideTip 4: You might see the text ‘Gram’ when playing Wizard or Priest. This is just laying the spell equivalent of a frikkin’ land mine. Place the land mine wherever the hell you want by waiting with a full charge, then letting go when the icon is at the right spot. This will count as a percentage% attack, so just switch to the other phase and do what you do. If you put the trap in the right spot, you’ll see good violence later.
SideTip 5: Characters do retain the last weapon equipped. I just reequip a character with the same weapon over and over again out of habit, but if you find you are using one character on the map specifically only during one phase, you don't have to keep reequipping the person with the one weapon (s)he's always using. Just drag your wisp to that character anytime you need to and the guy is ready to attack.
SideTip 6: Enemy attacks are easy to spot before they happen. You'll see a white circle outline before many of them begin, and you can check the meters at the left screen that function like the ATB system in final fantasy. When a meter fills up on the left, somebody bad is going to attack.
WTF do I do in Post-Battle Shopping?
When you complete the tic tac toe shit within nine battle turns/countdowns or whatever, you get a bunch of shopping options. Here’s what you do:
1. Always go to the Fuse Items. Any two exact same items you see, fuse them together. This means you can fuse together weapons fleshlight & fleshlight. But if you fuse a fleshlight & [+1] fleshlight together, the stats round down and you lose the [+1] quality. If you must know, the whole reason behind this is so you don’t run into issues with weapon durability. Low durability numbers make your weapons break. Don’t worry about it. Just do this fuse thing.
2. Distribute Experience. Don’t worry about this up until about the forth of fifth (official) battle when hopefully you’ve accidentally figured out how to get good guys to join you permanently [hint: use key items]. After you get an idea of what you’re doing, then start playing with this distribute exp thing. I would only spend your points leveling up a single member of every class or anybody you think has low vitality.
3. Strengthen Items after you ran through doing your Fuse Items. Feel free to strengthen any low-level weapons with Durability in the double digits. Trust% on the top screen determines your chances the modding will work. You can get everything you own [+3] pretty quickly if you’re fighting your battles like I told ya.
4. Use Transoul (later in game) whenever you have two permanent people of the same class. Kill your lower level guy and give the soul to the upper level guy. That’s what I do anyway. You can view the upgrades the soul will give to each guy before you pull the trigger on the murder, so feel free to experiment.
SideTip: Look at Class Info. Study it for a bit.
WTF do I do in Pre-Battle Tactics?
1. Hold your stylus down on each character on the map. Wait and confirm each of your guys can actually attack spaces on the board (they switch directions automatically upon holding stylus down). Your jackass classes can only face certain directions when in play. I never found the screen that just tells me the restrictions, so here’s a list:
Duelist – (only up) Northeast & Northwest [can move with C phase normal attacks]
Warriors – (only up) Northeast & Northwest [can break shit]
Knights – Any [can move with C phase normal attacks]
Archers – (only down) Southwest & Southeast
Hermits – (only down) Southwest & Southeast
Priestesses – (only down) Southwest & Southeast
Wizards – (only down) Southwest & Southeast
If you find a character’s attack isn’t covering enough spaces, double tap on it and you can change guys/classes. Just remember you need a dualist or warrior or horse knight hanging out on the bottom of the screen and everybody else can be on the top screen. Now remember the class and the level of each good guys you’re about to fight with for 5 minutes.
2. Equip Items.
*|* -Look at your Key Items first. Any of them that are yellow, you can use it. Highlight the item and it’ll tell you who. You’ll find you may have two or three key items that will work. Don’t worry, the people you can use this on will not go away during the nine battle turn chances you have. All you do is equip one key item per turn battle. Use the key item on whoever can use it the second you start battle and ride the rest of that turn out with three weapons. Repeat this until all yellow-highlighted key items are used. If a yellow highlight key item is brought out and you find you can’t use it on anybody, the character is in your stock and you just gotta bring the guy onto the playfield.
-Fill your remaining slots with weapons:
—ORGANIZE YOUR WEAPONS BY TYPE by clicking the type (T) column heading with the stylus. The most annoying part of this game is finding a weapon your current classes can use. When you doubletap a weapon, you will see in yellow “1 Use OK” in the center if you picked correctly.
—YOU WANT AT LEAST 1 C & 1 L WEAPON. Stupidly, this listing isn’t in the bottom screen. When you single tap a weapon, check the top screen to see if it’s an L or C (viewing a skill attack confirms the weapon works for that phase). (after useful key items are expired) The ideal weapon configuration is to have 2 Ls and 2 Cs that work for two different good guys on the playfield…
…say you have an archer and a warrior in your battle. Archers use bows, warriors use axes, right? The best way to assign your four items is to pick 1 L bow, 1 C bow, 1 L axe, & 1 C axe. Never give the same class two C weapons or two L weapons or you’re just wasting time by limiting your positioning on where you can hit enemies. Fuck matching elemental weakness. They help, but being able to land a percentage% attack at anytime is far more important and less time consuming.
—THE WEAPON HAS TO MATCH THE CLASS AND HAVE A LEVEL LESS THAN YOUR GUY. If your matching weapon type keeps saying you can’t use it, the level of the weapon is probably too high. Bummer. Check the level of the guy you’re searching a weapon for before going to the item menu. There is a dedicated Level column for the weapons. Level, Type, and Durability are the only columns I ever look at when I select shit. I suggest you do the same if you don’t want this planning crap to take 900 hours. But if you must know, if you match the elemental of your guy with the elemental of the weapon(& type), that guy will be able to do some harder-core gigafuck attacks (hi-skill attacks).
SideTip 1: If you're trying to play the game with one superpowerhouse character doing all the work, you should look out for a stat called Vitality. When this stat hits zero, that character dies for good. Leveling up restores some vitality, but the game basically wants you to spread the attack work around to your other characters. Another idea is to use guest characters often for easy turns so you spend their vitality instead of your better characters. Guest characters are gonna bail on ya after the fights anyway unless you got them the key item they wanted. Spend their shit. Oh yeah, if your character is blinking or fading out like some Back to the Future shit, that guy has got low vitality and is about to die. Avoid using that person the rest of the battle turn and when monsters start getting the ability to attack your players instead of just the wisp, look for the spinning grey number counter you gotta knock down.
SideTip 2: Hold d-pad or A button to see a stat chart. Those random colored numbers you see by your better weapons actually mean status effects and other tweaks. The number next to them indicates the effect will activate when your upper left battle combo/chain counter (rush count) exceeds the listed number.
My left shoe could write stories better than 99% of these Japanese industry fucks. It takes like 5 stages (2 hours?) just to learn the name of any character. The beginning just totally sucks, but the story does improve much after people named something other than “goofy priest” or “smiling hooker knight” start talking to each other. Slowest exposition of the year. Here’s some story pointers to make sense of all the boring:
-You play as the dead soul (wisp) of the “Lion Heart King”, also named “King Wilmgard”. The places that went clusterfucked are called Gleivnir Kingdom and Aventheim Castle. Fuck if you claim spoiler, it’s in the manual.
-Maria is the chick in the tutorials and the intro.
-Any character carrying an unnecessarily huge object is probably a plot bad guy.
-White Background with white text is the wisp (king’s soul) apparently talking to itself…or a Rocky & Bullwinkle episode narrator.
-Anything cutscene in a sepia (brown) filter is about the past right before or right after everybody got murderfucked. Most of these are referring to some plot-unrelated monster boss you’re going to fight or did fight. So look for those clues, because god these segments are a waste of time.
-Anything cutscene in color is probably involving the bad guys conversing/plotting/scheming/whatever. Your plot is here.
-I guess the narrator cutscene text is useful. You wouldn’t know it a lot of the time. Supposedly it fills in a blank or two once in awhile.
-Right before that ‘Battle Start’ message, there is explanation about the current town the king is in and what it was doing before the ‘tragedy’ and monsters destroyed the fuck out of it. Think like John Connor trying to stroll back home after Judgment Day hit and thinking about all the places he used to know.
-The game doesn’t start until about Stage 10
Follow all the crazy stuff I just said, and you should be able to beat the first ten stages with relatively mild effort and almost zero brain power. You’ll be able to figure out more of the game mechanics on your own as you go along. Good luck.