An Alternate Chat with Arekoll

The universe is a collection of millions of random events. All occurring simultaneously. All in tandem with one another. At the best of times it produces the most incredible phenomena. Oxygen. Carbon. Life. At the worst of times... disease... death... ourselves. But what if you could reach inside the universe? That's what Pier Solar did. It allowed us to see inside this grand machine.
So, Pier Solar is a Large Hadron Collider?
We tried it on smaller universes. Creating, shaping, collapsing them over and over again. The results were remarkable.
That's the Large Hadron Collider, Arekoll mate.
Pier Solar is a machine with power only the most brilliant minds can grasp!
You're still describing the Large Hadron Collider.
We created organisms. Life. But it was life... perfected. No aging. No death. Even in its most minute form, Pier Solar could harness unimaginable energy. We could make the most complex machinery run on... on nothing itself. The need for any consumable resource for... well... for anything was gone, vanished in the puff of a single idea. This was going to be our parting gift to humanity. An Eden. Paradise regained.
That's... impossible...
Nothing is impossible! Not if you can imagine it! That's what being a scientist is all about!
No, that's what being a magical elf is all about.
I'm sorry. Please continue.

But the only way to continue would be to have Arekoll completely repeat his previous block of text which would have been too awkward, and Farnsworth and Cubert had to be cut in favor of my main point.

On the Ending

In my main review I refrained from spoiling the ending. I'm not going to be so polite this time, but if you don't want spoilers then skip the next two sections.

... right, only people who don't care left?

So here's the gist of what happens: Hoston erases himself from existence to prevent the game's events from ever happening.

To elaborate a little more, Bethina wants to use Pier Solar to make her perfect world where everybody is happy because she willed it. Hoston tells her there's no such thing as a perfect world, that he's going to send her to the cold land of death, and stabs her through the chest. Then the group finds Pier Solar, whereupon Hoston decides the only way to get rid of it is to make his perfect world where everybody is happy because he willed it and send himself to the cold land of death. There, an image of his father asks him if he really is the hero of this story, and tells him he has an eternity to meander around the void and ponder if he made the right decision.

It's not made clear why Hoston couldn't, say, use Pier Solar to make it destroy itself right then and there. Something about how the plans still exist, and Bethina might return again, and it could just be rebuilt again? The way the characters talk like space aliens trying to act human didn't make it any easier to understand what the hell they were going on about. But couldn't Hoston have just eradicated the plans? And since Pier Solar needed three crystals to work, wouldn't wiping those out prevent it from ever functioning again? Maybe Hoston learned decision making from the end of Fable 2. Or the developers were trying to manipulate me into feeling bad for a character I didn't give half a shit about.

Do not come and tell me that I just "don't get it" or that I don't like sad endings. Yes, I'll admit I prefer happy endings, but I understand some stories need sad endings. Vagrant Story also ended with the main character getting screwed over to prevent something of reality-altering magnitudes of power from ever falling into the wrong hands. But Vagrant Story's ending made sense, was not done just for the sake of having a sad ending, did not happen because Ashley was being a dumbass, and most of all was not executed in a way that rendered the player's actions meaningless.

Is "Pier Solar" The Game Cartridge?

Before I elaborate on this, here's the titular Pier Solar, with Rudy going medieval on it:

Initially it's said to be a machine that lets people manipulate the universe, then later it's clarified as "choice manifest". But a case could be made that it's really the cartridge itself, and not just that the game has a boner for itself and its 64 "ultracompressed" megs.

As I mentioned in the main article, the manual's line about "The completion of the Pier Solar project was the final chapter in a tale that began with man's writing of Genesis" can totally be interpreted to mean the development of the game on the Sega Genesis. Also, it's not explained why Pier Solar is called that, except that it's the name of the game which, far as I can tell, was derived from pairing the counterpart of "lunar" with the initials of "Phantasy Star".

But what about all that jazz about the Great Architects using it to create their perfect vision of the world? Well, Pier Solar is already being used to do that; all the characters are living as slaves in a world of somebody else's creation, their idea of a "perfect world" (yeah, yeah, I know), where there's no aging or death, and everything runs on nothing. And then I come along and start using "Pier Solar" to force my decisions on everybody in this world. So I guess we can throw Panzer Dragoon Saga into the mix of games Pier Solar rips off.

Of course, a major point against the idea that the game is a commentary on me using game characters as my playthings is that is the ending renders all of my choices meaningless. But Hoston is still using it to tap into the universe, rewrite the game world, and erase himself from it in the process.

Alternatively it could be like the princess in Braid, and Pier Solar can be interpreted as either a macguffin or the cartridge. Or most likely, it's merely a plot device and I'm overanalyzing things again. Except being a metaphor for the game cartridge is both somewhat more original and a better explanation of how it works, instead of it being a magical macguffin that works by tapping into the infinite power of don't question me around company, woman.


These are various scraps and tidbits that I couldn't fit into the main review, seemed petty even for me, came up after I'd posted it, or just slipped my mind.

Throughout the game there's these slides (actual slides, not concave trees) that can be turned into ladders with a spell learned from a hidden book. Except I spent most of the game confused on how to climb them, because you're not told you need a spell to go up them until after your chance to get it. You get another chance at it towards the end of the game, but by then you're sealed off from most of the actual slides.

I turned on the auto-run because at the default speed your party is a conga line of old ladies trying not to break a hip. Except it seems the developers weren't expecting you to actually do this, because characters spaz out in amusing ways when the game is in control of them. One examples is when Zellini brings the professor to see the voodoo lady, and I think she was supposed to be pushing him, but she kept running back and forth into him. Shortly after that she reveals herself and everyone is supposed to get themselves into the line formation, only it looks like everyone else runs off while leaving Kruller behind. It also causes a major irritation at Cliboe's Dimension (which looks a lot like "Cleft of Dimension" and even includes a town that's frozen in time, or maybe I'm just grasping at straws here) when you have Arekoll tagging along, only he walks at the default speed.

Two weapons, one of Kruller's staffs and Edessot's Drill, say they have a chance of inflicting poison or sleep. But they actually have a chance of inflicing that ailment on the user, not the enemy. Are those items glitched, or was that another one of WaterMelon's sick jokes?

And on that subject, why does Kruller equip staffs when he attacks with his juggling balls?

Was there supposed to be something going on between Kruller and Zellini? If you open the chest containing Zellini's ultimate whip, the flavor text says something about how it's "almost as tight as the love for a wizard".

Allegedly, Edessot comes from a wealthy family who live in another town. But they're only ever mentioned, and they're completely dropped from the story after the incident at the Angel's Altar. Towards the end of the game, he helps Arekoll build the Phase Distorter Meteomobile and Arekoll compliments him on what a smart boy he is. And his second best weapon is called the "Architect Hand" Why do I get the feeling that at some point during development Arekoll was intended to be Edessot's estranged father? But eventually that got cut to maintain some deniability that he was inspired by Jeff?

When Cult Leader Sigma gives the group the second old book, the one that's "thick enough to beat goats to death with", Alina beings to translate it and eventually states it's encoded in ROT-13. Aside from the issue that you don't "encode" in ROT-13 (hey guys, if you're going to go around saying the SNES is really an 8-bit console because of the data bus, maybe you shouldn't be making such basic CS terminology mistakes as calling ROT-13 a code? Just a thought), why would a book written in an ancient language be encrypted based on a modern one?

There's two game cartridges you can find, one for the Genesis and one for the Mega Drive, that unlock minigames you can access on the title screen menu, which I never played because I couldn't be arsed. The Genesis Cart is, understandably, Phantasy Star IV. The Mega Drive Cart? Alien Fucking Soldier.

I commented in the main review on how much the final boss looked like the final boss of Super C, but she's really a total ripoff of Easytype Zeromus.

Base body of a monster scorpion? Bizarre growth on the back including fin-like protrusions? Part of a woman? I think we have a winner here. Even the way the tentacles wrap around her face is reminiscent of the shell around Zeromus' face, her forelegs parallel the two tusks under the woman in Zeromus' abdomen, and flip his sword upside down and you've got the end of her tail. She's also red in the same general places as Zeromus, and green where Zeromus is white including the aforementioned sword-tail. And compare the texture of Zeromus' tail to Bethina's legs. And holy crap, I just realized Zeromus even has Bethina's antennae thing, except it's pointing the other way and isn't white.

And while I was getting that image of Zeromus, I realized something...

Not seeing it? Let's try mirroring the Final Fantasy IV image:

And while we've got that Zeromus image here...

... does anyone else think Ironhart (the blue guy around the center of the image on the right) looks a bit like a modified Kain?

And I see Mossae isn't a "Modareign"...

... but a Wind Drake Arekoll imported from from Final Fantasy V.


And it's even easier to take something old, halfass it, then shit on the source material, eh?

It's not just the game code that's sloppy, the hardware seems to be a bit dodgy too. There were a couple times I tried to save my game and got a message saying "Something wrong has happened". Then after Kleoneo made the Confederacy of Dunces reference and I thought "Ooh, I have got to get a picture of that", I reset the game to make a copy of my file, then turned the game off. When I came back later, I thought Pier Solar had given me an even more solid reason to pack it in when it asked me to choose a language and told me to initialize the saves, then gave me that same "Something wrong has happened" message. I reset the game three or four times, and got the same thing. I figured my seering hatred finally microwaved the game, so I fiddled around with Crimson Shroud for a bit and had dinner. A couple hours later I finally decided to give it one last try, and it was working again. Maybe it was playing dead in hopes that I would go away?

What the hell is with the reviews for this game? I seem to be the only person on the Internet who noticed the similatiries between Edessot and Jeff, or the Zero Punctuation reference. This one just rambles about the game's history and technical specs, makes a few generic praises like "never did the plot seem contrived or derivative" and "the dialogue is funny and well-written, and the trio of main characters is easy to identify with" all of which I strongly disagree with and actually backed up with moments from the game, whines about the unintuitive out of battle healing interface, calls it "a great feather in the cap of Genesis fanboys everywhere!" (HAHAHAHA!), and then knocks off for lunch, as if that's supposed to sell the game. Talk about giving new meaning to the phrase "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." And really, the story "leaves ample room for a sequel"? Seemed pretty final to me. Although if it really was meant to leave room for a sequel, and since the ending has everyone getting amnesia, you could argue Pier Solar commits all twelve of the Deadly Sins of video game storytelling.

They also have the same screenshots, including a doctored bullshot depicting Edessot casting a fire spell while Rudy Gathers, which you can't do in the actual game (also notice the Gather meter under the character portraits looks different than in the final product. And I don't care to double check so I may be wrong about this, but I'm pretty sure you need one Gather to use that fireball spell). This one has a screenshot of a snail enemy that doesn't exist in the game. I realize there's no ROM for the game available as of writing this, but is a capture card really that unheard of around the Internet?

Discussion of the game is even more dumbfounding. Practically every thread I've been able to find about the game is either asking about how to get a copy, or bitching about the slippery bridges, with one person complaining about being stuck on the one in the magic school for a month. Uh, I really hope that was an exaggeration, or else somebody needs to get a new hobby. Yes, those section were awful, but not because they were difficult (hell, I had way more trouble on the damn Bomberman knockoff), just an utterly pointless waste of time, especially the ones in the final dungeon that can be completed by holding down a button. It's also great how people make such a big deal about them, as if they're some groundbreaking innovation instead of brief DDR sessions dressed up with the tiles of the Lunar Core in Final Fantasy IV given the behavior of the ice dungeons in Blaster Master.

Screenshot Gallery

And since I just moaned about the lack of screenshots depicting the actual game floating around, here's several I took but couldn't work into the main review: