Part 3: Matte! Black Bullet (Tokyo City Hall, 1)

Here we are at the start of the game's first proper dungeon, City Hall Inverted. Before we get in, though, we—

Is that a gun

Er, yes?





I don't think you'll be able to stop her, Captain.

Please tell me you have a license to use that.

Of course the beautiful Satsuki has a license for this. What do you take me for, Captain?

For all her eccentricities, she is trained in the usage of firearms.

A vote of confidence from Koron means I'm really good at it!

You're allowed to take it that way.

Anyway, before we head in, let's discuss our party members real quick. It's worthy of note that we only have a few skills unlocked per character for this first dungeon, so the gang will all be getting plenty of new toys as the game goes on.

Chisa is the same as she was—an all-around good physical attacker with great, but not perfect stats in speed, offense, defense, and HP. She's very reliable. You know, like a protagonist. We won't be able to get into her primary gimmick until after this dungeon.

Hard to go wrong with a samurai.

Richter is our 'support' mage, being good for buffs, some healing, and some magical attacking... later. He's not too frail, but he has the lowest damage output of any of our party members right now. Everyone's skillset will expand a lot later, but Richter's the one who's most waiting for the initial tier of skill unlocks, especially since we also won't be unlocking his primary gimmick either, until after this dungeon.

Hacker's got the roughest start of the classes, I feel. Can't deal any damage, and they don't even have access to the gimmick that their class name comes from. Kinda sad.

Koron is a fucking wizard. She's our only real source of elemental damage at the moment, along with having a healing spell if you're into that and an interesting support move I'll show off to good use later. She's the physically frailest character, because she's a wizard, but her damage output is solid and she has a lot of MP.

And yes, her weapons are claws. She can and will claw your fucking eyes out.

Psychic, meanwhile, has an okay start and will eventually snowball hard into the most powerful damage-dealing class. Destroyer can pump out bigger numbers, but Psychic requires no setup and can exploit multiplicative damage modifiers to reach ridiculous heights. Especially in 2020-II, where for some reason Imageepoch decided it was necessary to buff them.

Youka is the slowest character we have, but she's a physical tank who can draw aggro and inflict great physical damage. Her class gets fucking nuts later, but even now Youka is already a lot more competent than Kyoshiro was (RIP). I don't know if anything in this dungeon can kill her save like three full-on dragon offense turns, tbh.

Destroyer requires setup, but once they get rolling they can really fuck up anything that stands in their way. They even have a bit of buff/debuff utility!

Finally, Satsuki is by far our fastest party member, and as just demonstrated, she has two types of weapons—knives and guns. She functions differently depending on which one she's using, but both ways, she's fast and good at physical damage. She's the second-frailest character, but she's got a lot up her sleeves.

We clear? Okay, good. Get used to these five, we've got a long road ahead of us.

Trickster doesn't have the highest damage, but it's got decent damage, and is practically guaranteed to go at the start of every turn, regardless of how fast any given enemy is. Trust me, that's a really major boon in the 2020s.


I guess it's time to jump down this hole!! Which was not here before.

It's okay to be nervous, honey.

Me, I lost the ability to be nervous about going down unfamiliar holes a long time ago. I worked in sanitation for a time, see, and any time you have to climb down a hole in that line of work, it's nothing good. The Bloom petals are a lovely touch, though.

Hoo. Okay.

Well, ladies—

And Richter.

Thank you, Satsuki.

—y'all ready to fuckin' roll, babes?

As I'll ever beeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

You should try using a cape, I find it makes me more aerodynamic.

it's also all the hot air

What was that?!

Falling down the hole, we tumbled past a pile of rubble and landed on the floor below, as odd of a statement that was to say.

Hoo, hoo, hah, yes. Hi. Hello, 3.7.

Oh, you got to meet my fellow greenheads? Cute kids, right?

Just precious!

Well, if I can hear that, it seems our connection must be secure. Mr. Esslinger?

No issues from this end, either. The countermeasures are working fine. Please continue.

Right. How many Dragons will we need to strip for that?

One unit per. You'll need to defeat three total.

Simple enough.

Understood. Unit 13, over.

Having fun?

W-well, I'm just being proper.

(Wait, is it silly to say 'over' at the end of transmissions?)

(Don't worry, you're fine.)

(Oh thank god.)

The same light fixtures I'd run under one long sleep ago were flickering beneath my feet. The tiling of the ceiling was never meant to be walked on, so it wasn't as steady as the ground, but it was a bit sturdier than I'd imagined it would be so long as you didn't step on any insulation.

Patrol Soldier: Out here looking for Dz? It's a great multi-purpose material. The Dragons have us pinned here, but they're also key to our rebuilding.

How pleasantly ironic.

Um... how did that box get here?

Certain monsters have developed a habit of hiding their goods in stolen SDF storage boxes.



Just a bunch of junk. Hair clips, cloth...



Great job!

Yeah, that's right, I'm the best.

She started casually strolling away, whistling a tune and spinning the gun I'd brought that was now apparently hers on her finger... with a bag of 'loot' shoved into her pockets.


No, um... It's fine. Whatever makes her happy. I've taken stranger things out of treasure chests.


By the way, Cap, watch out.


Alright, in positions, everyone!

Satsuki, on point.

Who do you think I am?

I'm the beautiful Satsuki, is who I am!

One notable thing about Satsuki, while she's using guns, is that her regular attack hits twice—each hit deals less damage than a whole attack, but they can also crit independently of each other and stuff.

In 2020, regular gun attacks each deal 50% damage. In 2020-II, for whatever reason, they deal 55% each, meaning a gun of equivalent ATK to any given knife deals more damage on a regular attack. Weird, that.

Alright, silence the beating of your heart...

And spin!

My goodness, look at that! She can move, can't she?

So she can, Miss Fudoji.

Along with Diagonal Slash, Chisa's other current attacking move, is a move that deals, at the moment, 3 hits to random enemies. It's one of the only sources of AOE damage we have at the moment, so I find myself using it on randoms a fair amount. It'll eventually gain more hits to its name, too. I like it, but then I fucking love multihits in general. There's nothing better in life than a ton of damage numbers exploding out of an enemy.

Not the highest damage in the world, but I can't deny that it's satisfying.

My main use for Whirlwind Roll is... Well, I'll mention it when the time comes.


Will you be more careful?!

Burn to cinders!

Oh, wow.

Don't get sloppy, Satsuki. It'd be a shame if you died.

Aww, you really do care.



Due to a recording mishap, I had to rerecord this segment of gameplay, and in my haste I mashed through the victory screen too fast for most of the victory animations. I'll get you those tasty animations, but rest assured—yes, she does actually do the Robocop.

I agree with Koron. Try not to be too careless.

Oh, you're practiced in first aid, too?

What a handy woman to have around.

That's our Captain!

The hands of a beautiful ojou-sama on my frail body... kuh! Unimaginable!

You sound like my girlfriend.

As a brief note, the minimap in the corner can be toggled with the X button (cancel, because this game is in Japanese. I have it bound the opposite way on my controller because I am a filthy American who can never, ever get used to games that use O for confirm and X for cancel.) You can set it to corner, full-screen, and off.

Playing this game with an Xbox One controller really fucked with my muscle memory when I went to go play 7th Dragon III with the same controller. I had my buttons bound to mimic the standard PlayStation layout (so B is circle, A is cross, X is square, Y is triangle), and when you go back to a game where the bottom button is the standard "confirm" button, it really screws with your head.

I can't wait to read about the fallout from Sony deciding to make "cross = confirm" and "circle = cancel" the global norm with the PS5. Can't imagine how that's gonna feel for Japanese people who've been using PS controllers since the PS1.

they did what.

A herd of Rabis. Be careful, everyone—

yeah ok sure move over


Always a pleasure to see her in form.


(Great shot!)

Satsuki's gun skills are a little MP-intensive at the moment, but that's not too big of a deal. Dancing Bullets is our first proper AOE move, and it shreds the enemies in this dungeon. It's one of the primary reasons Satsuki is easily our best party member at the moment, though, funnily enough, not the last one. By the end of this update, Satsuki will be able to one-shot Dragelopes with the damn thing.

That was amazing, Satsuki! Um, but where did you get the other gun?

Oh, that? I had it in my pocket.

Using two guns at once doesn't seem like the easiest thing in the world.

tbh i can't imagine using one

It does seem a little too passe for you, doesn't it?

See? Mama Fudoji, she gets me. She feels my soul.

I understand and agree. Thank you for your service.

That's eight. We should be good for the time being.

Are you really so skittish?

You'll understand someday.

Just a shot to show you where Dancing Bullets already is. Skill status: good. Satsuki status: beautiful.

Always good to stretch your limbs a little bit. Are you feeling refreshed, Captain? I'm feeling refreshed.

That was an icicle.

So it was.

For the time being, Flame and Freeze are mostly interchangeable. It's JRPG elements.

These bookshelves... Just yesterday—just a month ago, I was looking across these as I walked through here for my exam.


Something wrong?

No, it's just...

You're thinking about your fellow cadets, aren't you?



Well, all you can do is give a dragon or three what for for their sake, right?

Mm-hm. You're right.

Another hole. Let's go, everyone!


Your Goofy is improving.

thank you i try

3F. Around here, Bluegrass Nymphs start popping up again.

Ahhh, life-giving water. Nectar of the gods.

Hydration is very important.

This path is blocked, we'll have to turn back.

grumble grumble ...waste my time, why don't you...



! Everyone, be cautious. That—

Your instincts are correct. If you'll look forward, you'll see one of the Dragons targeted by this mission. This variety, we call a "Hammerhead". It's a tough foe, with a huge battering ram.

Just in time, NAV-chan. The Exhaust Gauge will appear now in combat, and it's basically a button you hit to juice the fuck outta your next action, whatever it is. You'll go fast, deal more damage, heal twice as much, be more likely to inflict status ailments, take less damage from guards, the works. It charges up mostly from dealing damage. Somewhere in the distance, Richter hears a sad horn.

To elaborate: EX is gained through offensive skill usage (attack skills give set amounts of EX per hit) and taking damage (it's actually possible for a character to take a fatal hit, die, and reach 100% EX as they die, which is fun). Hacker not really having access to the former absolutely tanks the rate at which they gain EX.

2020-II mercifully fixed this by making commonly-used Hacker give EX upon use.

You all ready?

As ever.

...That isn't a dragon, though. It's a drake.

Oh, not this again.

Oh, well, excuse me for thinking that words have meanings.

Let's go, everyone!

The game was taking it easy on us with D1 and D2, but starting from here, dragons will uniformly have two actions per round. While none of them are insurmountable, it's best to hit them as hard and as fast as you can to ensure nothing gets too rough.

Die in obscurity, damned lizard!

Don't blame me! Blame yourself or God!

you see what i did there


Aw. I think you'd like that game.


Aimed Shot is Satsuki's more basic gun attack. It's good.

—Guh! No kidding.

Try looking out for the hammer!

Thank you, Youka!

My pleasure.

Oh—Koron, you be sure to watch out, too!

You needn't worry about me.

Just try it! Can that underdeveloped brain of yours figure out a way past that?

Evidently not.

Koron's Decoy Mirror skill lets her throw up a shield that serves to block incoming damage. It's got a certain amount of HP that just happens to be barely enough to tank two hits off of a Hammerhead, with no harm to her. In fact...

Is it the red, child? Are you seeing red?

This guy here rammed into Koron with both attacks, utterly wasting his turn. RIP this guy.

When Hammerheads reach low HP, they'll pull out a new trick that's the same as the old trick but more powerful.

Mechanical note: damage to a psychic's shield cannot leak back onto the psychic, even if the killing blow to the shield is overkill. If you have a shield with 10 HP, and it eats 400 damage, for example, the psychic won't take the last 390 damage—it'll just vanish into the ether.

Guh! I felt that one!

Hm. That was a nice quake you made. Are you feeling a little more competent now?

You little bitch!

Please consider spending less time trash-talking the dragon!

It's not a goddamn dragon!


And that's that!

Nice work!

Thanks for watching our backs, you two—



I-is the hammer Dz?

Maybe. I've never been entirely sure, myself.

Well, maybe we can make something out of it...

Did you expect any less?

I try not to expect things. You've defeated a Hammerhead, and recovered a unit of Dz to boot. We have reports of other Dragons lurking on this floor—

Actual dragons?

Please continue the mission.

Oh, I see.


You've likely gathered, but that red diamond you can see on the map is another Dragon waiting for us to murk. It is a solid idea to keep cognizant of them, and also kill every last one of them! When we're done with them, our descendants won't even remember what we called them!

If you're coming from Etrian Odyssey: Dragons are not on the same level of power as FOEs. You're meant to kill them as soon as you see them. In fact, if you don't do that, you will regret it very much down the road.

Bless you and bless this object.

Alert Soldier: We've got it set up so if you touch one once, you can jump right back in, too. Thanks again, Richter.

It's no problem at all.

Oh, did you make these?

I assisted with their development.

Within the radius of an Imperial Dragon's spatial distortions, there's usually a radio interference that prevents things like radio communication, but these use a form of energy drawn from Japan's leylines by Murakumo spiritualists—essentially, the spatial distortion caused by dragons, especially Imperial Dragons, allows us to reverse-engineer the flow of energy from the leylines to create a safe form of travel between certain high-traffic points in a given area. The tech was in its starting phases before the invasion, but they were fast-tracked for the sake of advancing into City Hall. Of course, they do also need to be guarded, since a dragon appearing nearby can distort the leyline's energy and disrupt travel—

Oh, that's interesting!

And it's all thanks to our little Richter!

Oh, uh, no, not at all. Mr. Ayafumi and Dr. Akaneno are the ones to thank—I just assisted with some of the logistics.

take the compliment

Really, though...

Hehe! I know how that feels, don't worry.

Despite Chisa's paranoia, this game's actually quite kind about ensuring that you're never too far from a way out of a given dungeon. With Escape Kits and Escape Points both, swoocing out to restore your Support Skills is as easy as pie.

Also don't go over here because of plot.

Oh—monsters! Richter—bolster us!

Not to worry! Initiating support duties!

Ricky's Attack Booster. See? He's already more multi-purpose. Thanks, Richter.

Alright, lead them towards me!


Lead them towards me, I said. I can take 'em!

If you insist!


Any fighter worth her salt knows the cross counter is the ideal form of attack.

The quadruple-power cross counter...! Funyah!

So remember when I said Youka could draw aggro? This is that skill. Counter Stance is the start of her counter line of skills, which draw aggro and allow her to counterattack. Counter Stance isn't too strong, but it can also activate multiple times per turn, meaning that Youka can launch some real hurt—in fact, it even activates on things like the Bluegrass Nymphs' Paralysis Scales. Combine that with her natural bulk, and she can really lay on some hurt.

Gallant Soldier: It's true that leveling up will totally restore your LIFE and MANA, but to recover uses of your Support Skills, you need a real break. That means a bed, in a safe place.

Remember how Chrono Cross had that system where every Summon element you used cost a Star, and you could only restore them by going to an inn, but by the time you had them you had so many Stars that it would be unreasonable to ever, ever run out, especially since Summons weren't the easiest thing in the world to use to begin with?

That has nothing to do with this, I just suddenly thought of it. That was a weird game.

Chrono Cross is goddamn mind-bending and I cannot make heads or tails of it no matter how many LPs I read and/or watch.

hey guys wanna grab some drinks from the vending machine



Here's another one! Satsuki, Koron, watch our backs!

Youka Fudoji, advancing!




I'll stay on support—you two handle the offense!

I see my opening! Let's rock!


This is on our tankiest party member with Defense Booster up. Downstroke does a lot of damage.

Nice shot!

The primary principle of anything is to hit where it hurts!

Of course, so does Youka. D-Depth goes from 1 to 3, and it lasts three turns, which gets extended every time it's inflicted again, actually. So, going from 1 to 2 means Youka will get four turns in a row of Forward Punching. Several attacks can inflict D-Depth, and management of D-Depth is the other way, aside from counters, that Destroyers can do their work. Earlier that turn, Chisa's Diagonal Slash did 50 damage, so Youka definitely outdamages her, too.

Two down, one to go!

You're a natural!

The third dragon wasn't far off from there at all, and as I advanced toward it, I saw Satsuki flipping some knives in her hands.

You wanna see something rad?



The dragon's muscles had begun seizing, and I saw it had difficulty with its movements.

I'm a genius!

For this fight, Satsuki's switched over to her dagger moveset. Unlike her MP-intensive area attacks from her guns, Dagger Satsuki is our primary ailment specialist—Tarantella inflicts Paralysis, which has a flat chance of cancelling any of the target's moves. I don't thiiiink it works as often on enemies as it does on us, but cancelling any number of actions is good against dragons. Turn economy is very important with a three-person party.

More mechanics! Paralysis is actually a bit fucky in terms of how it works here compared to damn near every other JRPG paralysis ailment I can think of. In 7th Dragon (well, the 2020s, at least), the chance for paralysis to cause an entity to lose their turn is dependent on the skill and the level it is at. Tarantella, for example, scales from a 10% chance to lose a turn at rank 1, to an 18% chance at rank 10.

And I've got my opening!

Jab is a minorly damaging skill that's absolutely guaranteed to inflict D-Depth on an opponent, so it's a great way for Youka to open up and start laying in with Forward Punches.

(You got it good!)

The animation is mostly identical, but this is Satsuki's Scorpio skill—it inflicts Poison. It's four turns of free damage if it hits, and status ailments can stack so our friend here is both Paralyzed AND Poisoned.

Satsuki is easily the best party member we have for City Hall Inverted, since she's fantastic at dealing with randoms and can seriously debilitate dragons. While her direct damage isn't as good as our three primary damage dealers, she's invaluable to have around in general. Plus, Exhaust can boost the damage of the Poison you inflict, too!

Ohhh... Poison. We're gonna have some fun with you, later, Poison.

It's really slowing down! You got it where it hurts, huh, Satsuki?

I try.

Hah! It's almost gone! Youka, draw its fire!

Looks like it's my turn, then!

Bye-bye, Invader!

Excellent work, everyone! In my opinion, it seems we're ready for further combat.

Thank you, everyone. You've been a huge help!

Don't mention it! We're a team, yeah?

As odd as that sounds.

Alright, now I believe I was promised a chance to cuddle you?

So you were.

Good work, good work~


But I'm cuddly too... :<

Oh, I'm sorry. I'll get to you when we get back to base, okay?


It wasn't that hard. This is a great team—I think we're already working together very well.


You do have a good head for these things. Have you seen combat before?

I could ask the same of you, Youka?

Oh, you know how it is.

Do I?

We'll be returning to base with the Escape Point ASAP, Navigator. Has Unit 4 been informed of our visit?

Already taken care of. Good work, Unit 13. You all did well.

This part is always such a relief.


Unit 4 is...?

R&D, where we visited before. Now would probably be a better time for introductions.

I've been waiting, Unit 13.

I'm sorry to have kept you waiting.

It wasn't the easiest thing to strip given the toughness of their skin, but this should be enough.

Hm. Well, with just what you brought us, we can fill all the arms orders we've currently got. I'll admit I was worried when I heard the rookies were handling this, but it seems like you can handle yourselves.

i mean tbh have you seen youka's guns

You're the one who uses guns?

Keima! Reimi!

The two trainees got to work, and immediately the room was filled with heavy industrial noises the sort of which I hadn't heard in quite a while.

AND, I've got a whole pile of LOOT. What can I get for this, Waji?

I'd rate you at about 600.

pay dirt.


These days, rather than use money, we've reverted to organized barter. Aside from the precious Dz, we've called everything else Az. Everyday stuff. Still useful.

No kidding!

Ohhhh. I was wondering why she was so excited about all that random junk.

Did I or did I not say it was loot?



And thanks for the hair clips, Satsuki!

No problem at all, Keima my dude. As someone with naturally frizzy hair, the life of a creative whose hair gets in their eyes is known to me.

Wait, really?

Oh, yeah. Definitely. If I let it stay wet it puffs up all whaaaaah! and looks like I just got zapped.

I kind of want to see that...

You and everyone else.

This is military gear. For the SDF?

Yuuup~ Thanks for the help!

This is an express delivery, then. Who knows when they'll run out of supplies?

They're not gonna now!

Right! They're not gonna now!

That's the spirit★ Beat feet for us!

Calling Unit 13.

Already another mission? You guys are as busy as bees, aren't you.

That's life, I suppose.

Well, for you it's nothing new, right?

Haha. That's true.

Seeing as you've got stuff to do, let me give you some Dev Unit pointers.

Oh, this should definitely be useful! Thank you, sir!

The bosses use us pretty harsh... you gotta take care of yourself.

Tell me what you need before you go, okay? With proper materials, we can do anything! ★


The three members of Unit 4 are our shops, and they each have different items for sale.

By the way, the Junk items you pick up after battle, like the Hammerheads'... Hammer Heads, are in fact just for sale. Anyhow,

i'm really sorry for breaking the flow but i want to note that certain drops are required for quests and their descriptions will clearly note that, along with how many you need to save for that quest, okay i'll go now

Reimi sells armor and accessories.

Keima sells weapons, and god bless him for it.

This is a lovely blade! You've done well!

Heheh. That's our job, ma'am.

Hm. I can work with these claws.


On my hands, yes.

Do they help?

Ever so much.

The numbers here aren't the increase numbers, it displays your final stat after the thing is bought. It's a little weird, but it gets the point across. This shopping trip is mostly me buying upgraded weapons for the whole party, which we have just enough dosh for.

Always upgrade your gear as soon as you can. Always. 7th Dragon 2020 is basically a very fancy version of Paper Mario, i.e. the damage formula is just ((AttackStat - DefenseStat) * Modifiers). Even a meager increase in your attacking stat can have huge implications on your damage, and vice versa for defense.

And I bought from him last update, but Waji sells our healing and utility items. Items are really good in this game, so we'll be perusing his wares fairly often.

Alright, back into the field again. The SDF needs this gear pronto!

Next time, Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children.

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