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I have a confession to make.
When I picked up Star Ocean 3, I first thought that it was one of my favorite RPGs of all time. However, one of the final dungeons includes the most astronomically unfair enemies in the history of JRPGs.
I really enjoyed the entire story of this adventure. Star Ocean 3 is one of the few epics that manages to break the fourth wall. The sudden plot twist made me feel painfully sad that the heroes were not even part of the human world. It even forced me to question my own video gaming habits in a prolonged economic recession.
As the journey progresses, the difficulty level raises exponentially. The first boss in the Sphere Company building, Azazer, gave me a reasonable challenge by sapping away my party's magic points. Unlike other RPGs, Star Ocean 3 kills a character when his or her MP reaches zero.
The battle was tough, but bearable. As the Sphere Company tower extended onward, the dungeon quickly raised the stakes. My party now had to fight four-legged mechs that buffeted my characters with missiles. To make matters worse, the missiles sapped magic points. This allowed them to kill me twice as quickly, because their MP levels were not as high as their HP.
Around the fourth floor, the dungeon decided to slow my team's movement. Now the heroes plodded around like molasses, while the enemy soldiers buffeted them with MP-sapping gunshots. I really started to lose my patience with this system.
Finally, the protagonists reached a save point on the fifth floor. Unfortunately, this floor included two extraordinarily powerful bosses. Although both of them were tough cookies, Belzeber was the worst. He blasts a massive rocket launcher to slaughter each individual party member with missiles. To make matters more terrifying, each attack always inflicted damage levels of about 60 percent of each teammate's hit points.
I only found one possible strategy for this battle. I had no choice but to control Maria Traydor for the entire battle. For some reason, she is the only character toting a laser gun. She was the only one capable to stunning Belzeber with an Aiming Device attack.
If that wasn't bad enough, not every Aiming Device attack stunned Belzeber, because he assigned himself a "No Guard" ability onto himself. Thus, during many of his missile attacks, my own gun attacks had only a 50/50 chance of stunning him.
Maria had to spend the entire battle reviving her friends by using up our collection of fresh sage. She had to use up the magic berries and the perfect berries to heal the entire group. And when both of her teammates died, she had to desperately run away to escape from the extremely long-ranged missile attacks.
After two minutes of the most hell-raising patterns of healing and stunning, we finally defeated that stupid juggernaut, Belzeber. Sadly, I wasn't even close to finishing the entire Sphere Company dungeon. I reluctantly glanced at the Star Ocean 3 strategy guide on gamefaqs.com. Apparently, this tower is about 100 floors high.
I should feel glad that I can program the elevator to take me straight to the top. Instead, I feel disgusted that the developer of this game, Tri-Ace, is giving me very few choices in this final stretch. If I reach the top, will the boss annihilate my team? Will I miss out on any crucially valuable treasures if I skip to the 100th floor?
I'm glad that Tri-Ace provided an automatic healing spot, a save point and an item shop on the fifth floor. However, this is probably the most horribly designed tower that I ever had to play through. Most of the treasure chests are empty. My party still moves half as quickly as the other enemies. Even the elevators have programming glitches. I can't drop back to the floor of the save point unless I first raise the elevator one floor higher.
It's incredible that Tri-Ace always finds a shrewd way to ruin some of my favorite games. On the positive side, probably no other dungeon is ever going to turn out as painful as the Sphere Company tower. I just hope for my own sake that future Tri-Ace adventures will never cause as much agony as this one. Ugh.
Can you think of any dungeons that are more unforgiving than this one? If so, what are some of the annoying tasks that developers expect from gamers? Is this a fair hardcore challenge or a god-awful tower that is best left forgotten?