…Not gonna lie, I bought my second copy digital just for the digital-exclusive 3DS Theme:
The theme features the 5 witches on the top–Hilda, Lisette, Popo, Sakuya and Mordimort–and Popo’s pet Bubu on the bottom. I bought a physical copy a few years ago and use it on my Red 3DS. I bought the digital version for my Ambassador 3DS. It’s a Stratedgy RPG with the flow and mechanics of a Visual Novel. There are 31 playable characters with one who leaves after a certain point and another who requires certain conditions that must be met to get them.
Here’s an overview of the playable cast and in some cases, their predecessor:
- Alto: His memories begin 3 years prior to the start of the game. He’s found in Mithra Forest and ends up living in Mithra Village with Lisette and her mother Rosa. After the village is crystallized, Alto accepts Klaus’ invitation to join the Regnant Knights and find a way to restore his adopted hometown. After the knights are betrayed, Alto assumes leadership of the group and learns the truth about his past life. Like the Hero Elcrest, Alto is a Conductor. This allows him to draw out further power from the Witches who fight with him. Allegro fills the Song Stone faster and lasts until Alto’s 4th turn like all status changes. Combine Allegro with Song Orb 2 and you’ll be able to fill the Song Stone to 4 or 5 very quickly, allowing you to Conduct a Witch sooner than later.
- Elcrest: The Hero who fought to save the world 1,000 years ago. He disappeared from history after the fateful battle and with good reason: The wounds he sustained were so severe, it took 1,000 years for his body to be healed. It would be fair to say he died after the battle. 1,000 years later, Elcrest awoke as Alto with no memories of his previous self. Elcrest silently provides help to his present self early in the game, unable to make himself known to Alto or his companions. When Alto and Elcrest finally speak, the two clash swords for the right to decide who will lead the reformed Tuning Knights in the final battle.
- Lisette: The Water Witch and a childhood friend of Alto’s. The pendant Alto gave to Lisette for her birthday turned out to be the Water Qualia, which was long believed to have been lost to time. When Mithra Village is crystalized, the Water Qualia reacts to her strong emotions and she turns into the Water Witch. Unlike the other Witches the Regnant Knights recruit, Lisette is unable to Sing for most of the game. It’s later revealed her strong but unrequited feelings for Alto is the reason why. When awakened to her full power, Lisette is able to fully restore all allies during battle.
- Francescia: The Water Witch who fought alongside Elcrest 1,000 years ago. After the final battle, she volunteered to spend the rest of her life healing Elcrest’s badly injured body. She took him to the waters near present-day Mithra Village and put him in a deep sleep to allow his body to focus on healing. At some point afterward, Francescia took her own life. Legends passed down in Mithra Village speak of a lone maiden who watched over the waters of the village, likely in reference to her. It is here Lisette recovers the Water Score for the Celestial Hymn.
- Rusty: A member of the Regnant Knights. Three years earlier, he was in Kashmistan when Hrodulf betrayed Regnant and wiped out the entire city in a single night. Before the betrayal, Rusty looked up to Hrodulf as a mentor and that made the betrayal even deeper for him. Unlike Archibald and Klaus, Rusty fights with knives. This allows him to fight at melee range or one space away. Knife Fan and Beehive are some nice AOE Skills but be warned, they damage friend and foe alike.
- Archibald: A member of the Regnant Knights. Archibald is one of three party members who has the Guardian ability, which prevents enemies from passing them. The trade-off is Archibald’s Move rating is shared with the lowest at 4 (increases to 5 with Max Affection). Archibald’s Defense is the highest in the game to compensate and even better, he gains HP Regen with David’s Meditation. Archibald’s offense is pretty damned impressive including 3 knockback abilities, 2 charge abilities and an AOE ability with the possability of a status ailment with almost all of them. It would be fair to say despite his bulk, he’s also an offensive powerhouse.
- Klaus: The charismatic commander of the Regnant Knights. He is master spear wielder and one of three party members who has the Guardian ability. Like Archibald, he has some bulk but he also has two recovery moves and Spear skills designed to hit foes out of close range. At the game’s climax, it’s revealed Klaus was the one who proposed the Anthem Program to Regnant, among other things. When Hilda confronts him in the capital, a serious question is raised: How can a mere knight know such intimate details about the nature of the world?
- Xeno: The first king of Regnant and Elcrest’s best friend who fought beside him 1,000 years ago along with Veronica and the five witches. It was long believed by Elcrest and the others that Xeno died at the hands of Eve, the sentient being that is Mother Qualia but it turned out she had a far more sinister fate in store for him. Several years before the start of the game, Xeno’s alter ego Klaus came to Regnant and worked his way up to the position of Commander of the Knights. This was all part of a much larger plan to use everyone to bring about the end of the world. The question one can’t help but ask: Why?
- Ewan: A Merchant who joins the Regnant Knights during the search for Popo. Though still a child, Ewan is a shrewd but competent and very capable businessman. During battle, three of Ewan’s abilities allow him to heal allies–for a fee, of course. Early information about the game suggests Ewan’s “big secret” is he is revealed to really be a girl. In the finished product, it’s revealed he has a tail. Once Ewan learns SP Delivery, he really starts to shine especially late-game. It’s all the more reason to max his Affinity: His Item Master Ability allows him to use his utility skills on allies who are one space away from him.
- Popo: The Wind Witch who lives outside Port Noir. A naive young girl, Popo was manipulated by the mayor of Port Noir until Alto and the Regnant Knights help her break free. Popo is also the first Witch to be Conducted by Alto. When awakened to her full power, Popo is able to unleash a thunderstorm that devastates all enemies.
- Millicent: The Wind Witch who fought alongside Elcrest 1,000 years ago. After the final battle. she seems to have disappeared from history but likely lived in the area that would become Port Noir. During her search for the Wind Score, Popo overhears a melody that has been passed down in the town for generations. Although she’d never heard it before, the Wind Qualia tells her it’s the Wind Score that had been passed down through time.
- Nonoka: A ninja who is a servant and bodyguard of Sakuya. Despite her training and being a masochist, Nonoka always wears a cardboard box on her head so she doesn’t stand out when with Sakuya. Obviously, a woman walking around with a cardboard box on her head is pretty hard to ignore. Fortunately, the head ornament seems to have no impairment on her combat abilities. Nonoka’s Shinobi Slash ability has the added effect of making her invisible until her next turn.
- Sakuya: The Fire Witch and Priestess of Amatsu. When Alto and the Regnant Knights journey to Amatsu to recruit her, they discover all is not what it seems with the eastern nation’s adored spiritual leader. It’s revealed in Barracks conversations how the Fire Qualia was passed down over time. Every generation, a young girl is chosen to become the Priestess of Amatsu. The Priestess takes the Fire Qualia into her body and is both the Priestess and the Fire Witch though the former is emphasized. Sakuya reveals she did have siblings before becoming the Fire Witch but when she was chosen to be the new Priestess, she was cut off from her family. When awakened to her full power, Sakuya can summon a firestorm that ravages all foes and invigorates all allies.
- Kaede: The Fire Witch who fought alongside Elcrest 1,000 years ago. After the final battle, she settled in present-day Amatsu and likely became the land’s first Priestess. She likely created the sucession system to ensure the Fire Qualia would be passed on after she died. When Sakuya returns to look for the Fire Score, Nonoka finds it inside the temple where it had been stored by Kaede 1,000 years earlier. The Fire Score was the only part of the Celestial Hymn whose location was clearly known in advance.
- Keith: A Mercenary, marksman and former knight of Regnant. Shortly before the fall of Kashmistan, Keith was hired by Mordimort’s mother–the previous Earth Witch–protect and watch over her successor. When the Regnant Knights and the Harbingers both come to the desert in search of the Earth Witch, Keith is at odds with both groups at first. When reinforcements for the Harbingers arrive, Keith decides to join forces with the Regnant Knights who also want to protect the Earth Witch. Keith has further range than Popo as an Archer and most of his skills are AOE. Some do hit friend and foe alike so ally placement will need to be kept in mind when using him.
- Mordimort: The Earth Witch and the sole survivor of the destruction of Kashmistan. Three years earlier when Hrodulf set Kashmistan on fire, Mordimort’s twin sister Nikki died protecting her from the flames. It’s implied her mother, who was the previous Earth Witch died during the fighting trying to protect her daughters. Before she died, she passed the Earth Qualia on to Nikki who passed it on to Mordi before she died protecting her sister. When Mordi came to, Kashmistan was in ruins and there was no one else left alive. She lived alone in the desert and used her new powers to make an illusion of Kashmistan from before it was destroyed. Mordi is forced to confront the trauma when The Regnant Knights and the Harbingers come looking for her. With help from Alto, Mordi finds the strength to leave the desert behind. When awakened to her full power, Mordi has the power to smother all foes in a vicious sandstorm and bolster allies.
- Ukana: The Earth Witch who fought alongside Elcrest 1,000 years ago. After the final battle, she settled in Kashmistan where the Earth Qualia is passed down through the ages. When Mordi returns to Kashmistan to look for the Earth Score, she finds the part of her she left behind: Her grief from 3 years ago. It’s there she finds the Earth Score. Mordi sees an illusion of her sister Nikki, which likely confirms Nikki become the Earth Witch before she died and passed the Earth Qualia on to Mordi.
- Hilda: The Time Witch who fought alongside Elcrest 1,000 years ago. Hilda is the main antagonist for most of the game. Sometime after the final battle, Hilda founded her own kingdom in the north and ruled as its queen. Her disinterest in governing Hildegard paved the way for Civil War to break out. Hilda used her Song of Ruin to crystallize the entire population and then founded the Harbingers. When she meets Alto for the first time in Mithra Forest, she realizes he was Elcrest from 1,000 years ago but it doesn’t sway her from her plans to crystallize Mithra Village and later target Lisette, Sakuya and Mordi. As an enemy, Hilda can summon minions to fight for her. After The Promised Day, Hilda (along with Dorothy and Dante) joins forces with Alto and the reformed Tuning Knights. Now returned to her original role as the Time Witch, Hilda has various utility skills. Conducting her inflicts the Stop status on all foes (excluding those with the Ailment Block ability). Her movement is Warp so she is not effected by terrain or height.
- Dorothy: A member of the Harbingers. The Regnant Knights first encounter the 11 year old girl in Amatsu where they clash. Despite her young age, Dorothy can hold her own against all of them. As an enemy, Dorothy can summon minions to fight for her. Apparently, her parents were killed by Angels and Hilda takes her in. Hilda would only allow Dorothy to stay with her as long as she is useful to her. It’s not until the Harbingers join forces with the Tuning Knights that Dorothy’s lack of civility becomes a serious problem. When Alto maximizes his relationship with her, Dorothy takes off her hood and reveals her face to him to show him she’s decided to trust him with her life. All of Dorothy’s Skills inflict her with a negative status when used so you will need to keep that in mind when using her. If you thought her Guts Ability was annoying when fighting her, she regains it as an Ally. Like Alto and Rusty she has the Counterattack Ability and will strike back when hit from melee damage. It’s fair to say some skill is needed to use her. Nevermind the fact an 11 year old girl wields a chainsaw and a katana.
- Dante: A member of the Harbingers. Alto first encounters Dante after Hilda crystallizes Mithra Village. Dante mops the floor with Alto but the arrival of the Regnant Knights forces Dante and Hilda to withdraw. When the Harbingers join forces with the Tuning Knights, the party regains a Spear wielder and party member with the Guardian ability lost when Klaus leaves the party. Dante doesn’t have as much bulk as Archibald or Klaus but he’s certainly durable. Like Klaus, Dante’s reach alloes him to hit foes 2 or more spaces away with the added benefit of lowering a foe’s status. Dante is most effective at creating chokepoints while casters or archers attack from behind him.
- Veronica: A Scientist who once fought alongside Elcrest and Hilda 1,000 years ago. By the time she decides to join the party, it’s revealed Veronica is actually over 5,000 years old. Eating angels wings greatly extended her lifespan, allowing her to live for so long and preserve the knowledge of her age. Her generation–known as Technolomies–were the ones that gave rise to Mother Qualia on the Moon. It wasn’t until Elcrest’s generation that Veronica joined the battle to protect the world. She would have to wait another 1,000 years to finally correct the sins of her generation and stop the threat of Mother Qualia for good. By the time she joins the party, she’s still outclassed by the Witches in terms of raw power despite the guaranteed negative statuses and being able to give allies the Protect Status. She’s even slower than Mordi so…yeah. She’s ok as a secondary elemental user especially when power leveling on one of the Level 45 Play Coin Battles though.
- Giselle: A Prototype Humanoid Angel. When she’s first introduced, she helps the Regnant Knights in their battle against the Harbingers in Kashmistan and again in Farenheit. After the game’s climax, she’s revealed to be under the command of Xeno and turns on Regnant. If you maxed out Klaus’ Affinity before he leaves the party, she will automatically join the party later in the game. After Alto is granted additional power by Elcrest, he convinces Giselle to withdraw and she decides to join the Tuning Knights. If you don’t maximize Klaus’ Affinity, she will self-destruct instead. As an ally, Giselle will run roughshod in battle. Hyperion C is the strongest non-Song Skill in the game and will inflict massive AOE damage (keep allies away!). Like Alto, Rusty and Dorothy Giselle has the Counter Ability. She also has Ailment Block so she can’t be inflicted with any negative statuses. She’s well worth maxing Klaus’ Affinity to recruit to say the least!
…Quite the large cast of playable characters, yes?
In all but the two story battles he’s not directly involved in, it’s instant Game Over if Alto falls. Some battles have additional ways you could lose such as anyone falling, a certain character being defeated or in one map’s case an enemy reaching a certain point.
With non-story battles, you can withdraw anytime a party member is having their turn. The reason to do optional battles is to level, earn money and get orb fragments. Battles that require Play Coins are harder but the rewards are greater in exchange. Unlike Story Battles, you can use whoever you want in optional battles. While leveling, I usually bring Lisette, Ewan or Popo who can all heal. When you level up, your HP and SP is fully restored so there’s that.
Be warned that if you retreat from a Play Coin Battle, you will NOT be refunded the Play Coins you used so be careful. With all battles, you can restart the mission from the beginning anytime or after you fail. A sound strategy if you want to change deployed party members.
The basic flow of the game after the First Chapter involves Free Time and Mission Time:
- Free Time: You can’t leave the capital BUT you do have access to 3 additional Facilities you can’t access during Mission Time: Knights’ Baracks (Raise Affinity Levels), Tuning Hall (Tune Witches, unlocked after you recruit Popo) and the Tavern (Take odd jobs for money and items). You also have access to shops during Free Time also.
- Mission Time: The story is advanced during this phase. Go to the world map and go to a spot with a Red Square to advance the story. At two specific points, you will be given the option of either going to the World Map to train or continuing the story. If you opt out of going to the World Map, you won’t be able to go to it until after you clear several story battles. You have access to shops during Mission Time otherwise.
The pacing of the game’s story is akin to a Visual Novel.
About two thirds of the game is voiced as well. For those who might not know, funding for the game ran out right after it was completed. Thankfully, Sega stepped up and paid for the game’s release. Funding ran out after it was announced and this is why the 3DS Theme is exclusive to those who buy the game digital. The voiced dialogue is English but the songs are in Japanese.
The game does have 2 endings and it depends on a choice you’re given during the final battle:
- Accept Marie’s Request: If you accept it, the current battle will continue until the boss is defeated. Marie will not be with you during the ending sequences.
- Refuse Marie’s Request: If you refuse it, the current battle will end and you will fight a different more powerful boss who has two phases. When you beat the boss (It will take a while), Marie will be with you during the ending sequences.
I won’t say who the boss or second boss is for obvious spoiler reasons. It’s reccommended everyone be at or above level 45 for the final battles or you will struggle.
In addition to the main story ending, you will also be able to pick an individual ending with whoever you have Max Affinity with. As of this writing, I have seen four (Warning: Spoilers!):
- Lisette: After saving the world, Alto and Lisette return to their simple lives in Mithra Village. Having married, Rosa tells Alto it’s time for them to give her some grandkids!
- Hilda: After saving the world, Alto and Hilda decide to stay in Lambert. A year has passed and Hilda has given birth to their first child together, a girl (Don’t ask me how with Hilda being over 1,000 years old though it’s also true Alto’s body is technically over 1,000 years old too). It’s a new experience for both of them but Hilda is clearly feeling overwhelmed until Alto promises to be there for them.
- Ewan: After saving the world, Alto joins Ewan in New Kashmistan. In a year’s time, the city has been rebuilt–this time for real. Ewan reveals it wasn’t a charity project but an investment for the future. Alto is taken aback but with a little presuading, he accepts Ewan’s offer to become a business partner and they set off.
- Nonoka: One month later, Alto is visiting Nonoka and a clearly X-Rated scene is overheard. Or so it seems. It’s revealed the two were actually cooking (yes, Nonoka shows her face).
When I see the other endings, I will update this post accordingly.
There is a New Game+. After you clear the game for the first time, Free Time Slots are tripled from 3 to 9 per session. This makes it possible to get Max Affinity with everyone in a single playthrough and is the ONLY way to get the Level 5 songs for all 5 Witches (You’ll be lucky to get just one on the first playthrough!). You wlill also have a passive increased EXP and Gold gain. The money you had whe you beat the game is carried over but nothing else.
A few tips to those willing give this game a chance:
- Ewan and Rusty can Steal from foes but the Thief 2 Orb comes in handy for the story battles you’re locked out using both of them in.
- Speaking of the Thief 2 Orb. During her last battle as an enemy, Hilda has a Portal Ring you can Steal. You do get an opportunity for a Portal Ring later but getting this one makes life easier up to then. I usually put it on Rusty, which paired with his high Move means he can go anywhere with a Portal Ring. Give Mordi, Ewan and Keith the 3 Mobile Rings you will come across (2 stolen from Hilda) when you can since they have low Move.
- Hilda’s Tuning Battles are different from the other Witches. Unlike the others, you will have a handicap on your party with each battle. In one battle, Songs are sealed. In another, Items are sealed (There’s recovery tiles to offset this). In a third, Skills are sealed. Strategy is needed to overcome each battle and clearly you will want to both over level and be on your second playthrough or later.
- It is possible to Steal the weapons carried by Millicent, Francesca, Kaede and Ukuna. Give Alto a Thief 2 Orb and use Hilda’s Transfer Skill to get him to Millicent, who is on an island. All of their weapons have 5 slots and will hold you until the final battle.
- The Element balloon monsters need to be defeated once they’re at low health ASAP. Otherwise, they will self-destruct and the splash damage is pretty wide. The one time I got lazy about it, one wiped out the whole party!
- The Hercules Ring negates the Guardian Ability some bosses as well as Golems have but so does Infiltrate, which Rusty learns.
- The level 45 Play Coin Battles are for grinding levels for the final battle. The toll is 10 Play Coins but you’re guaranteed to level your team on all of them.
- Allegro + Song Orb 2 = guaranteed Song Stone increase. Remember that.
- The bonus objectives are 100% optional but completing them gives you a rare item or piece of equipment. One battle early in the game has no damage to Sakuya and Nonoka as a bonus objective. Another requires Alto to clash with Giselle even though she could easily 2-hit KO everyone who isn’t Hrodulf.
…I could go on.
It goes without saying I think very highly of this game!
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