Please don't call me Ishmael, that's not my name. But some years ago--never mind how long precisely--having little money in purse, yet having nothing particular of interest to play, I thought I would sail a little and see the PSP part of the world. See, I had nary a handheld before then, and used PSPs were easily obtained and cost trifles. I sailed around the worlds of Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep and Persona 2: Innocent Sin, until I caught a glimpse of a majestic beast in the distance.
Jesus almighty, even the picture is gigantic. Anyway, having caught a few Disgaea games in my time, I knew I had to chase this beautiful creature. Just look at that menacing cover, even the wee penguin lad be shakin in 'is boots.
I think I'll stop the Moby-Dick impressions, you get the idea.
Anyway, the game is completely different from Disgaea titles, being a platformer instead. As a platformer fan, I was hooked instantly. The game's controls work like Ghosts 'n Goblins of old, except the main characters, the titular Prinnies (you start with 1000 of them at the very beginning of the game, no 1-ups), only have a single weapon: melee on the ground, or weaker ranged weapon in the air. The latter, combined with the forced arcs when jumping, makes the game go from tactical platforming to blood pumping rushes to the next checkpoint.
But what really makes the game special is the ability to ground stomp in the air, which can stun enemies and boss alike for bonus damage. This rewards recognition of enemy patterns, like in platformers of old.
So where does the tale of the white whale fit into all this? Well, the final boss of Prinny removes the stun mechanic entirely, the only use for butt stomping being to avoid one of his attacks. That means the only way to damage him is with shitty chip damage, and since the boss battle has a strict three minutes time limit that means you'll mash the square button really fast to kill him in time... Which in turn means fighting this boss (and dying to him) is very tiring. End result: wrists hurt and Prinnies depleted. I gave the game more tries since, and while the game is immensely enjoyable all the way through, one look at the white whale waiting at the end of the game and I'm too terrified to pursue. All evil, to crazy Blonde Bass, were visibly personified in Sir Sweet. I told many people to try the game, but have never been able to beat it myself, how shameful is that?
So this is where it ends. I boot up the game, ready to assemble a cast of 1000 of the finest Prinnies around to get aboard the Pequod with me and hunt the beast down. Sure, the game taunts me as I start for picking up Normal difficulty, but I'm not scared of what a few 0's and 1's think of me. The game's difficulty curve is actually very good until the final stage, with every stage having 6 forms depending on the time of day with scaling difficulty: a fantastic way to promote replayability and a nice way to allow the player to customize his playthrough, maybe plan a route if you're a speedrunner. If you're trying the game yourself after reading this, do play Tutorial Stage 2 to unlock more NPCs in your base: I'm only here for one thing and it's the bloody beast.
As you time progresses and stages get progressively more difficult, the sky turns from blue, to dark, and finally takes on a crimson hint as you reach the final stage. This stage is no pushover either, with narrow platforms and carefully placed enemies. You'll see them in advance and still feel powerless as the knockback pushes you down to the depths below, like a quick glimpse at the white terror that lies between the waves.
But at last, I see it. Blood rushes to my head, and I'm not making a dick joke. Yes, I see the white whale, I aim directly for its crooked brow with a quick slice...
Over, and over, and over. I feel the hand cramp coming in quick. Without any way to stun the boss, his health bar becomes a near insurmountable wall. I keep on making a lot of progress then dying, having to restart from the very beginning. Thankfully, his patterns are the same every time, so it's all a matter of memorization. After years since I first fought the beast, I finally realize that getting close to the boss and ducking is a sure-fire way to dodge his horizontal fireballs. Victory is at hand. Only a couple hits now...
Hmm, another Prinny dead. Alright, it's fine. I have a whole stack. My hand begs me to stop playing. Or at least, I'm hallucinating it is. Duck, slice, move, slice, slice, slice.
And in the end, sweet release.
In all honesty, it could have been a lot worse. It might take a while for my hand to recover, but the beast has been slain unlike in Herman Melville's classic tale. This D Rank is a personal trophy which I'll keep with me forever, obtained thanks to the sacrifice of 77 comrades; the Prinnies who died in previous stages were chumps who will be forgotten by time.
Well, that's it for my personal hunt. Have you guys ever played this game and if so, have you beat it? Maybe you've dropped a game you loved due to its final boss? I'd like to hear about it.