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The Genius of Sappheiros: Gameplay

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The Genius of Sappheiros is, at its core, a traditional console-style JRPG, but it comes with many intricate systems and details that might go unnoticed at first. Learning and using these is key to success.

The Menu

The game's menu has ten choices. From left to right, first row then second row:

  • Status: View the statistics of a character. The A button will bring you straight to their equipment, the X button will bring you to the Power menu, and the Y button to their spell set.
  • Formation: Set a formation for your party members. After selecting a formation, you can freely switch characters around within that formation. You can recieve more Formations from NPCs like Hieda no Akyu as the game progresses. The positioning of your characters will affect who will be targetted by area-effecting spells. Different formations can change who is targetted the most, how much damage certain characters take or deal, and so on.
  • Equipment: Set a character's equipment. Each character can wield one of four weapon types based on who they are, as well as a shield and armor. Each character is restricted in their armor/shield choices, with S-class characters only being able to equip S-type; M being able to equip M and S; L-class armor users can use anything. Finally, each character can have up to three accessories. Before a piece of equipment can be used, however, you must return to the overworld at least once.
  • Power: Use a character's accumulated POW levels to enhance certain skill sets. Each character has 14 categories they can grow in: four are specific to the character and are related to their individual capabilities, and will increase stats, enhance certain spells, or provide other effects. Four of them are for the weapon classes that each character can equip, and will grant the characters bonuses when they're equipped with that specific weapon type, as well as new special attacks using those. Finally, each of the six main stats can be directly increased here. Note that when going from, say, a level 3 bonus to a level 5 bonus, the character will need to have two POW levels free - you can't increase a skill to levels that do not give a benefit. Note that the Y and Select buttons undo a character's POW level assignment, allowing you to change it up any time - just be aware your HP and MP will drop back down and not automatically recover if they were affected. Note that once a character's PLv reaches 24, the required PEx will increase by 5 each level.
  • Options: The options in order are:
    • BGM Volume
    • SE Volume
    • Max Backup Saves: The game saves automatically. It also keeps a folder with backup saves. The folder can get pretty big if this stays at max, so you might want to reduce it.
    • Disable Keys: Options are "disable autobattle", "disable flee", and "disable both".
    • Hint: If it's on (second choice), you'll recieve gameplay tips if you lose a battle.
    • Animations: Show battle animations (yes or no)
  • Inventory: View the party's inventory. Items with Yellow text are new, and cannot be equipped until you have returned to the overworld.
  • Party: Change your current party. You can have five characters in battle, and a sixth in the "support" slot. This character will provide some stat bonuses to the rest of the party. They can also be called on during battle to use two support spellcards to assist the party as a free turn.
  • Spell Set: Change the spells a character has equipped. Each character can only have six different spells/weapon skills/spellcards equipped in total.
  • Data: View data such as battle statistics, item and formation collection lists, and the game's bestiary.
  • Pause: Puts the game in pause mode. The timer will not increase while this is selected.

Battles

Battle begins when you touch an enemy in a dungeon. The initial command list will pop up, giving you several options. Pressing A will bring up the normal character menus, while B and Y will let you get a better look at the battlefield. The L button will allow you to flee; R will set the party to auto-battle. You can also use X at this point to bring up the Support Spell menu, which will allow you to use the support spells of your sixth party member.

Each character has a set of commands comprised of their normal weapon attack and the abilities and spells set in the Spell Set menu. Each of these comes with their own requirements: almost every command other than a normal attack will consume some of the character's MP. In addition, the final value displayed in an attack's description is a cooldown timer - after casting that spell, the character will be unable to cast that spell again for that many turns (Normal attacks and some abilities have a 0, meaning they can be used whenever). Finally, Spellcards have a couple additional requirements: Using one spellcard will impose that cooldown timer on all of a character's spellcards, and they will consume a number of Bomb items in addition to MP, represented by stars on the icon - the green star in a character's status display is the number of bombs they currently have. If no action seems worthwhile, the Y button will tell a character to defend.

Once all character actions have been inputted, all characters - both enemy and ally - will attack based on their speed. Rinse and repeat.

Randomly, when a character is attacked or attacks while at low health, the character will glow with the message Last Word Chance. These are akin to Limit Breaks or similar systems, and will appear in the character's selection. These Last Words tend to activate very early in the battle round, and provide extremely powerful effects. They also come with no MP, bomb, or cooldown costs, although once they are used or the battle ends, the Last Words will disappear from the character's action list until Last Word Chance is activated again.

There are also two types of critical hits possible in the game. Normal criticals, which are random and indicated by the screen flashing red, will deal double damage, or even more if the user's equipment/skill increases the critical damage multiplier. Meanwhile, Strong attacks are the result of using an attack or weapon which deals extra damage against a certain enemy type; they flash green and deal additional damage depending on the weapon. If both activate together, the screen flashes yellow - expect to see huge damage numbers pop up when this happens.

When a character is defeated in combat, their lives counter (the red stars) will decrease by one. When it hits 0, the character will no longer be automatically healed between battle and will no longer gain EXP. Reaching any healing point, however, will instantly restore all characters to their maximum of number of Lives, as well as max bombs and full HP/MP. When all characters are defeated, you'll lose any items obtained in the area where you were defeated.

When an enemy is defeated, they will drop Point items (EXP) and Power items (POW), and possibly one of a number of other things. Full Power items will give a small boost in statistics to the character who recieved them (It maxes out at three); a Bomb item will give the character an extra bomb up to their maximum; an Extend item (A 1-up) will increase their remaining lives by one. They can also drop items and equipment for the party.

Statuses

Manipulating the conditions of the battlefield is an important aspect to victory in The Genius of Sappheiros, and there are three different kinds of ways to do this: Status Effects, the Land Gauge, and Battlefield Effects.

Status Effects come in three varieties in this game.

  • Permanent status effects: Poisoned, Paralyzed, Petrified, and Blinded. Some of these will not be cured on their own unless a healing magic is used, although in most cases waiting for several turns will remove the permanent effect; sleep and charm, on the other hand, can be instantly removed once the affected character is attacked by the enemy. Only one status effect can be in effect at a time; if a new one affects a character, it will overwrite the old one.
  • Variety status effects: Things like Attack Up or Defense Down. There can only be a grand total of five on a single character; if a sixth is added, the first one applied will be lost.
  • Quick status effects: Such as Dazed. These conditions will automatically disappear after the turn ends. They are noted by a "!" mark.

Here's a list of status effects in Japanese and English:

  • 行動制限 - permanent effects that limit a character's actions
    • 盲目 (Blind) - shades (physical attacks miss)
    • 沈黙 (Silence) - ... chat bubble (disable spells)
    • 混乱 (Confusion) - two circling stars (magic attacks miss)
  • 行動不能 - permanent effects that completely disable a character
    • 麻痺 (Paralyze) - lightning bolt
    • 石化 (Petrification) - stone
    • 睡眠 (Sleep) - zzz
  • 精神操作 - permanent effects that take over a character's control
    • 狂戦士 (Berserk) - spider-like figure with 3 dots
    • 魅了 (Charm) - heart (attacks your own team)
    • 支配 (Control)
  • Others
    • 毒 (Poison) - 3 green bubbles
    • 呪い (Curse) - skull in some swirls (takes damage when dealing damage)
    • 即死 (Death) - big skull (Instant kill)

Here are a few Quick effects:

  • 灼熱 (Burn)
  • 凍結 (Freeze)
  • 転倒 (Daze)
  • 感電 (Shock)
  • 反射 (Reflect)

When a status effect is removed on its own, a bluish green speech bubble will pop up above the character.

The Land Gauge is a system in battle which can strengthen and weaken elements. Each of the main elements comes in a standard pair (Fire and Water; Wind and Earth; Light and Dark). This gauge, displayed in the top right corner in the first menu of a battle, displays which elements will be strengthened or weakened. When the gauge leans towards an element, it is strengthened and its opposite is weakened. The increase can be very drastic, and some abilities can modify the Land, so take advantage of them whenever possible. In addition, some spells require certain properties from the Land gauge.

Finally, Battlefield Effects are status effects that will affect everything, friend and foe, equally. Only one battlefield effect can be in place at a time, and using a new one will overwrite the old one.

Stats

A few stats:

  • STR (Strength, increases physical attack)
  • DEX (Dexterity, increases induction)
  • INT (Intelligence, increases magic attack)
  • VIT (Vitality, increases physical defense)
  • AGI (Agility, increases speed and evasion)
  • POT (Potential, increases resistance)
  • 物理攻撃 (PATK)
  • 物理防御 (PDEF)
  • 魔法攻撃 (MATK)
  • 魔法防御 (MDEF)
  • 命中 (Accuracy)
  • 回避 (Evasion)
  • 誘発 (Induction, chance to land statuses)
  • 抵抗 (Resistance, resists statuses)
  • 速度 (Speed)

Elements:

  • 火 (Fire)
  • 水 (Water)
  • 地 (Earth)
  • 雷 (Lightning/Electric)
  • 光 (Light)
  • 闇 (Dark)
  • 魔 (Mystic/Magic)
  • 斬 (Slash: Swords)
  • 突 (Pierce: Spears)
  • 殴 (Crush/Blunt)

(More to come in the future, promise)

Formations

There are some formations the player can utilize. Some of the formations and their effects are described below.

Formations with 1 party member

  • Free fight: No effect.

Formations with 2 party members

  • Free fight: Increase in speed for all members.
  • Moriya Defenser: Front row plays defense. Back row has no effects.

Formations with 3 party members

  • Free fight: Increase in speed for all members.
  • Momiji Strike: Front row gets increase in attack and defense. Back row gets increase in speed.

Formations with 4 party members

  • Free fight: Increase in speed for all members.
  • 4 way boundary: Front row gets increase in attack. Back row gets increase in defense and speed.
  • Trickster: Front row gets increase in attack and defense. Middle row gets increase in attack. Back row gets increase in magic.

Formations with 5 party members

  • Free fight: Increase in speed for all members.
  • Hakurei type: Front row gets increase in attack. Middle row plays defense. Back row gets increase in magic.
  • Master star: Front row gets increase in defense and decrease in attack. Middle and Back row gets increase in magic and decrease in speed.
  • Moriya Wall: Front and middle row gets incrase in defense. Back row has no effects.
  • Gensokyo legend of fastest speed: All members get increase in speed and decrease in defense.

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