Another Star 2 Dev Log #28: Toying With the Enemy

Generic encounters make up the bulk of play time in most RPGs, and Another Star 2 is certainly no exception. These battles can be dull padding if the developer is not careful. The original Another Star addressed this by speeding them up with its omni-battle system. Most of the strategy in battle was deciding which elemental attacks to use so that you could take out the biggest or most annoying threats first. Still, it’s easy for battles to feel samey with enemies becoming no more than the same thing but with different graphics. Another Star was by no means innocent of this.

Another Star 2 takes a slightly different route than its predecessor. Battles are still meant to be fast paced and not drag on past their welcome, but without the omni-battle system each character manually choose their target and a so lot of the first game’s design decisions are no longer applicable. And even as quickly as the battles play out, they just aren’t as fast. To make up for this I want to make sure that each enemy feels unique and gives players reasons to think about how they will approach them.

Take the humble Toad, for example. This is a very early game enemy, though one players will likely struggle with for their first few levels of progress because of the Toad’s relative power compared to the player’s initial strength.

Now, like all real-life amphibians, you can see that Toads have heavily armored skin on their backs. (Of course it’s true. Why would I make such a thing up?) This is a good demonstration of one of the game’s design philosophies: you should be able to gather clues about an enemy just by looking at their design. Sure, there are enemies that will purposefully defy your expectations to keep you on your toes, but observing new enemies is usually your first step to determining how best to confront them.

I also want to make sure that’s there’s not necessarily just one strategy to defeat an enemy. Again, the Toad is an excellent example. As I noted, Toads have natural armor. An obvious approach is to switch to a piercing weapon. As in the first game, piercing weapons ignore armor and deal damage directly to a target’s natural defense. Toads are squishy beneath all that armor, so you can easily deal a lot of damage.

However, that’s far from the only strategy. See, there’s a trick to these Toads in that you can use what would normally be an advantage to their disadvantage. If you think about it, you may note that many amphibians survive the cold winters by burying themselves in loose, wet soil and hibernating. Thus, as you might suspect, Toads are immune to ice damage. But this is a two-edged sword. Have you figured it out?

If you hit a Toad with an ice attack, you won’t do any damage, but you will put them into a deep sleep. While they’re in this state, they won’t wake up, even if you attack them! You can use this to your advantage by putting them into hibernation and then laying the smack down, or just ignore them and focus on any other enemies while the Toad is no longer a threat.

There’s certainly not an endless array of strategies. Another Star 2 is by no means a game steeped in emergent gameplay, and I can assure you that the developer has not thought of everything. But if you experiment with your abilities and think about how an enemy behaves and reacts, you’ll likely to be rewarded. Items, skills, and magic can take you a long way in battle if you put some thought into how best to use them. The work I put into the game’s scripting engine is really paying off in that regard.