Monday, July 10, 2017

I Am Setsuna

I found out about this game from a post on /r/chronotrigger.  The game is completely separate from Chrono Trigger, but happens to take a fair amount of inspiration from it, hence it caught the subreddit's eye.

What's the story?  Spoiler-free, of course.  Well, a very wintry world is under constant threat from monsters.  To keep them at bay, every ten years, a sacrificial pilgrimage is done.  A powerful magic user journeys to a place called the Last Lands, protected by a guard.  Once in the Last Lands, the sacrificial rites must be performed for the monsters to be appeased.  This game follows the story of the currently chosen sacrifice, a girl named Setsuna, as she and the members of her guard undertake the sacrificial pilgrimage.

How exactly does the whole "inspired by Chrono Trigger" figure into it?  Most of the similarities are graphical in nature, but there are also tech names and late-game weapons that reference it.

I'm not counting the save system because so many other JRPGs work in the exact same manner.  You know the drill: you can save whenever on the world map, but in an actual explorable area where there's enemies and possibly bosses, you have to find a save point.  It lacks the auto-save of newer RPGs, which might catch some people off-guard, but it's not too big of a deal given that you can save anywhere on the world map.

It's very blatantly not a Chrono Trigger clone, though.  It contains extra mechanics that allow you to formulate completely different types of strategies.  Rather than gaining tech points and unlocking new techs every so often, you simply gain another slot where you can put a tech, and you can customize what your tech list looks like to suit your strategy.  You can also customize those techs slightly with the game's Flux system.  I'm not going to delve too much further into it here, since this is a review, not a tutorial.  The bottom line is: if you try to play this game as you would Chrono Trigger, you're doing it wrong.

I find the Flux system to be very interesting, because it addresses an issue that Chrono Trigger and a lot of other JRPGs have: generally speaking, you want to save your MP for boss fights and go through regular fights with just your regular attacks.  However, here, you actually want to be constantly using techs in order to get Fluxes to occur so you can power up.

One thing that the game very notably lacks: inns.  This is unusual, even for a JRPG.  You basically just have to use a Tent on the world map instead.  NPC dialogue in one town mentions that there used to be an inn there, but due to monster attacks the number of travellers decreased and it went out of business; perhaps this is the reason behind the worldwide inn shortage.

As much as I love the game's beautiful art style, I would really love to see a climate other than "constant snow" done in this same style.  That said, the snow in explorable areas is handled with a reasonable amount of attention to detail.  Namely, as you (and the enemies) move around, you leave a path of trampled snow behind you.  Since the game is constantly rendering snowfall, if you venture away from an area and back, you'll find your tracks have been covered by more snowfall.  It works.

The game's music is rather interesting: the soundtrack is almost entirely piano.  This is a neat stylistic choice that I feel complements the game's setting and story very well.  The piano is capable of expressing a wide range of different emotions, and the soundtrack handles that perfectly.

Enemies move around their "home" areas, and you can use this to your advantage: sneak up behind them and you start with full ATB meter.  If you're strong enough, you can easily use this to finish things in one turn while taking minimal damage and quickly move through an area.

Positioning of the enemies and your party matters greatly, and the game affords you have a fair number of options for adjusting positioning.  One example is the tech Demi, which pulls enemies closer together while dealing damage to them.  Another example is Cyclone, which knocks enemies back a fair distance while dealing damage to them.  Many techs will also reposition your characters in a reasonably intuitive manner: healing techs often have the character run away from enemies for a set distance before the actual casting animation happens, whereas offensive techs could leave a character surrounded if used improperly, or leave them too far away to take advantage of anything that affects close-by party members.

My end-game strategy just sort of fell into place.  I was using Flare, with a support item that restores some of the casting character's MP when they kill things, and then I got Luminaire.  With it, the Luminaire+Flare dual tech, Supernova, opened up.  Combined with a weapon for the character using Luminaire that restores some of their MP when they hit things, and the fact that most battles are against three or four things that Supernova can easily one-shot, and I was moving through areas spamming Supernova, one-shotting everything, and having the characters' MP get completely refilled in the process.  The remaining character was really only necessary for the occasional heal or use of a tech in case Supernova didn't actually kill something.

Overall, the game is really good and I would definitely recommend it.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

The Finer Points of Cheating

I recently obtained about the worst device ever to let me use cheat codes on my SNES: a Super UFO Pro 8.  I bought it for other reasons, and there's a post incoming about the device itself.  This post is about some interesting logic I noticed with the combination of cheat device and Chrono Trigger, while cheating my ass off.  It's applicable to basically any game when using a cheat device, though.

You can follow along in an emulator if you have a ROM of Chrono Trigger.  The cheat codes used in this post are RAM codes (address and value, not encoded in any manner), which also happens to be the format used by emulators, as well as both the X-Terminator and Pro Action Replay cheat devices.  If you have the ability to follow along on console, give it a shot.  That's what this post is written for, anyway.  If all you have is a Game Genie or Goldfinger, you won't be able to use it to follow along.  The Game Genie and Goldfinger use ROM codes.  You could still find codes that would work for these devices, but they would be very different.

First, load up the game with the following cheats, start a new game, get to the world map, enable the codes, and save your game.  If you're doing this on console and your cheat device doesn't let you enter all six at once, you'll have to split them up and do multiple saves.  For best results, enter them in pairs, based on the last digit of the address.

7E2401CDOne Power Tab in inventory slot 2
7E2402CEOne Magic Tab in inventory slot 3
7E2403CFOne Speed Tab in inventory slot 4

Note that inventory slot 1 is left empty, this is because the next code uses that slot.  If you haven't done so already, save your game.  Reset the SNES (power-cycling if necessary to get back to the code entry).  If using an emulator, just remove or disable the previously-entered codes, no need to reset or reload your ROM.  Enter the following cheat, load your save, and enable cheats.

7E250063Inventory slot 1's quantity is always 99

You may not notice this code's effect right away, since the first three codes purposefully didn't put anything into the first inventory slot.  When moving items around your inventory, this code will let you duplicate them.  Go ahead and try it with the Tabs you got from the previous codes.  This is why those codes only give you one of each Tab.

Now, these items are of course meant to be used to increase your stats, so let's do that.  If you just use them, though, the quantity will decrease according to the number of them you use.  To stop that from happening, move the one you're using into the first inventory slot, which has its quantity set to 99 by the cheat we currently have active.  Now, when you use whichever Tabs you moved to this slot, you won't run out of them.

While using the tabs, though, you may notice something interesting: the displayed quantity decreases to 98 and stays there while you use them, as opposed to staying at 99.  Why is this?  Well, that's the subject of this post.

The reason behind this is due to how these cheat devices work: given an address and a value, they detect that the game is reading that specific memory address, and respond with the specified value instead of whatever value is actually at that address.  However, if you think I'd be satisfied leaving you with that explanation, you obviously haven't read very much of this blog.  We gonna get detailed, yo.  Well, not too detailed.  Everything is abstracted away from the fiddly technical specifics, to make it easier to follow.

In this first example, the game is running without a cheat device.

Given the following:
  • We're using Power Tabs on Crono
  • stored_quantity is the number of Power Tabs in our inventory
  • displayed_quantity is the number of Power Tabs that gets shown on screen
  • crono_power is Crono's power stat
This (or something functionally identical) will happen every time we use a Power Tab on Crono:
  1. SET displayed_quantity TO stored_quantity
  2. DECREMENT displayed_quantity BY ONE
  3. SET stored_quantity TO displayed_quantity
  4. INCREMENT crono_power BY ONE
Let's run through that, shall we?  Let's say we have 10 Power Tabs.  When we use one on Crono, stored_quantity is read into displayed_quantitydisplayed_quantity is then decremented by one.  The result, 9, is stored back to stored_quantitycrono_power goes up by one, and the display updates (using displayed_quantity to provide the quantity) to show that we now have 9 Power Tabs.  Using another Power Tab will start this over again and result in that 9 being decremented to 8, as you might expect.

When we're using a cheat device, though, something different happens.

Given the following:
  • We're using Power Tabs on Crono
  • stored_quantity is the number of Power Tabs in our inventory
  • displayed_quantity is the number of Power Tabs that gets shown on screen
  • crono_power is Crono's power stat
  • We have a cheat device that tells the game that stored_quantity is 99 whenever the game asks for its value
The same process as before will happen every time we use a Power Tab on Crono:
  1. SET displayed_quantity TO stored_quantity
  2. DECREMENT displayed_quantity BY ONE
  3. SET stored_quantity TO displayed_quantity
  4. INCREMENT crono_power BY ONE
Let's run through it again.  When the process starts, it reads the number of Power Tabs, just like normal.  The cheat device, being configured to provide the value 99 when stored_quantity is read, does its thing, resulting in displayed_quantity becoming 99.  The game decrements displayed_quantity by one, resulting in displayed_quantity being 98.  It stores displayed_quantity back to stored_quantity and crono_power goes up by one.  Finally, the display is updated (using displayed_quantity to provide the quantity) to say there are 98 Power Tabs.

However, the displayed_quantity doesn't immediately go back up to 99, even though our cheat device will tell the game we have 99 of the item in this slot if it asks.  This is because the game believes it already knows the quantity of this item, and hasn't asked for it again.  This means that game doesn't continually re-read the necessary data to show you what you're currently looking at in the inventory.  You can observe this if you make a change in an emulator, scroll the inventory down far enough that the slot is offscreen, then scroll back up.  The game will then re-read the value, and by doing so, it will show the updated value.

Let's go through the process again, so that what's happening becomes apparent.  The game is currently showing us that there are 98 Power Tabs in our inventory.  However, it reads the value again, which means the cheat device once again provides it with the value 99.  This 99 is decremented to 98 and the display is updated.  As far as the displayed values are concerned, we still have 98 Power Tabs.

"Aha!" you say.  Yeah, you understand now.  It's no longer "for some reason it goes down to 98 and stays there", it's "the cheat device always provides it with a 99 that gets decremented and then displayed".

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Summer of RPGs 2017

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I have an RPG backlog that I need to get through.  So basically, this summer, I'm gonna do just that.

The plan is to get through as many of the games as possible.  To make this a bit easier, I'm not counting games that I want to buy, but haven't yet.  The list is thus pared down to the following:
  • I Am Setsuna (PC)
  • Chrono Cross (PS1)
  • Final Fantasy 4 (PS1)
  • Dark Cloud 1 (PS2)
  • Fossil Fighters Frontier (3DS)
  • Etrian Odyssey 4 (3DS)
Currently, I'm playing through I Am Setsuna, and plan to proceed down that list from top to bottom.

To make things go faster, I'm trying very hard to not be my usual self.  This means saving my typical completionism and as much other grindy activity as possible for later.  I already know that Chrono Cross will be made a lot harder by not grinding, due to how it hands out random stat boosts periodically in lieu of traditional level-ups.

Some of the titles in that list are in the situation where I started playing them a long time ago, but forget the story, where I was, and where I was going; thus in those games I'll be starting over from the beginning.

The more observant of you may notice that this gaming project also involves finishing two of my most procrastinated gaming projects: Chrono Fever and Project 'Bout Fuckin' Time.  Gotta get it done.

Unlike what I did with Rogue Galaxy, there won't be session posts for these games.  In fact, if I post anything, it's generally going to be a tweet or two.  I do plan on doing overarching summary posts, though, so stay tuned for those.

Also, the end of the summer doesn't necessarily mean I'm just going to stop playing.  I'll likely still continue, the whole "Summer of RPGs" label is just a nice way for me to try and remain focused on the task at hand.

Because I've gotten a fair distance into I Am Setsuna, there will probably be one of those "overarching summary posts" coming up soon, so stay tuned.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Day of Racing 2017

Let's get to it, shall we?

Breakfast: Formula 1 Grand Prix of Monaco

I'll be honest: my interest in Formula 1 is waning.  It's just not entertaining to watch a two hour parade.  Monaco is perhaps the worst example of this: if you don't qualify on the front row, you have an absolutely terrible chance of winning.  It should come as no surprise, then, that the winner of the Monaco Grand Prix qualified on the front row.

I know, I know, it was a Ferrari front row lockout and it's been forever since they've done that, and it was a Ferrari one-two finish and it's been forever since they've done that, and whatnot.  I don't care.  The only way you can pass at Monaco is via pit strategy, or during the chaos of a race start/restart.  Any other time and you're likely to crash, as Jenson Button found out when he tried to pass Pascal Wehrlein.  The resulting crash put Wehrlein on his side up against the wall and took both of them out of the race.

In other words, the F1 race was rather uneventful.

In typical F1 bureaucracy, Jenson Button was given a three grid spot penalty for the failed overtaking maneuver.  For anyone unfamiliar with it, the F1 race stewards are a bunch of old chaps in suits sitting around a room looking at monitors and saying "you could've done that differently" on occasion, which I equate to your average YouTube commenter who engages in a healthy dose of backseat gaming.  This penalty is to be served on his next qualifying result in this season.  Since this was just a one-off thing, he'll never be able to serve that penalty, and thus penalizing him was pointless.

Lunch: Indianapolis 500

Did I mention Jenson Button up there?  Didn't he retire from Formula 1?  Why yes.  Yes he did.  Why was he back in the car for the Monaco race, then?

Because Fernando Alonso was at Indianapolis.

This move turned a lot of heads and gathered a lot of interest, as well as a lot of bunched panties from butthurt Europeans who consider American auto racing to be a wholly plebeian activity.  I for one don't understand why all the commentators were so surprised that Alonso adapted so quickly.  They spent plenty of time giving him praise for having won two F1 world championships and having raced against the best of the best there (i.e. Michael Schumacher), and then see him having no trouble picking up a slightly different race discipline and fail to add one and one.

I can't say for certain because I've never driven a race car professionally, but for a professional race car driver such as Fernando Alonso, switching disciplines must be fairly similar to a computer programmer learning a new programming language.  The form may be slightly different, but all the core concepts are the same.  It came as no surprise to me that he qualified well and was a factor for the entire race, up until his Honda done blow'd up.  What I took from his interview after his engine let go was that he had way more fun not finishing the Indianapolis 500 than he's had in the past few years in Formula 1.

Other than Alonso, there were a few noteworthy events, namely the crash that took out Scott Dixon in epic fashion as he sailed through the air (and Helio Castroneves drove under him).  Later on, a five-car pileup took out a couple Penske drivers, including Will Power.

At the end, though, it came down to two drivers: Takuma Sato and Helio Castroneves.  Sato was going for his first win after coming so close in years past, and Castroneves was going for his fourth.  Sato is aligned with one faction of the light side of the force, Andretti Autosport; and Castroneves is aligned with the dark side of the force, Penske.  Thankfully Sato held off Castroneves and claimed his first Indy 500 victory.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway may only have four corners, but it produces a far more entertaining race than Monaco.

Dinner: Coca-Cola 600

Because my local Buffalo Wild Wings committed suicide by closing their old location while they're waiting for their new location to be built in an as-of-yet unspecified location, A friend and I had to look for another place to watch this race.  To be honest, I don't really have much of a vested interest in NASCAR, especially this season with the idiotic "stages" thing they're doing, but nevertheless, this day is an important day in auto racing and I'm gonna watch it all.

Partway through there was a red flag for rain.  Fox decided to run a classic NASCAR race to fill the time, and chose the 1987 Winston 500 from Talladega, which happened to have a crash that destroyed the catch fence and brought out a red flag.  So just to reiterate, we were watching a race that had been red-flagged, and the race that had been put on to fill the time was also red-flagged.

They did eventually get going again and the rain stayed away.  It was tough to watch this race, not because of anything that was happening, but because the TV was muted and the captions were off, but I did my best.  With a few laps to go, we were worried that it was going to be JOHNSONWINSLOL, but then I noticed that the gap back to second was gradually going down and people were un-lapping themselves like crazy.  I guess he was trying to save fuel or something, but it didn't work because he ran out with about three laps to go and Austin Dillon inherited both the race lead and the victory, which happened to be his first NASCAR race victory.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

boot9strapped in!

With the 33c3 public disclosure of sighax (headphone warning: very loud audio) and the recent BootROM dumping efforts, the public implementation of sighax, known as boot9strap (hereafter, B9S), is finally a thing.  I've updated my 3DSes to it and am now going to proceed to an explanation of sorts.

What does it do?  Almost the exact same thing as arm9loaderhax (hereafter, A9LH).  It just does it earlier in the boot process and is unpatchable by Nintendo since it uses a vulnerability that's permanently baked into the console's BootROM.

Why bother updating to it if I already have A9LH on all three of my 3DS family consoles?  It's simple, really.  Luma3DS has already dropped support for A9LH, meaning I need to be on it to get updates to my CFW and ARM9 payloads in the future.  I also needed to update Luma as a part of updating to B9S, since older versions of Luma can't be booted with B9S and newer versions can't be booted with A9LH, and there is no version of Luma that works with both.

Also, this gives me the chance to get used to using GodMode9, having done The Guide™ on my systems before it was included (I used Decrypt9/Hourglass9, and am still a bit more comfortable with their simpler interface).  I have the B9S-compatible version of Hourglass9 on standby if I absolutely need it, but GodMode9 seems to be fairly intuitive, just a bit weird and different.  I'm going to try and get used to it now in an amicable manner instead of eventually being dragged kicking and screaming into getting used to it later on.

Thankfully, the update process from A9LH to B9S is very quick, easy, and smooth.  Moving the necessary files around (and making a compulsory NAND backup after the fact) takes longer than the update itself, which has several checks it does beforehand and an "OH SHIT" recovery mode that will kick in afterwards, in the very unlikely chance that something goes wrong.  It's a far cry from the old days when people used unstable exploits to downgrade their systems one system title at a time, which could randomly fail and leave you with either a partial downgrade or a brick.

But wait, what even is sighax, anyway?  Well, I'm by no means authoritative on the subject, but my understanding of it is that the 3DS' ARM9 BootROM has a flaw in its checking of the firmware signature that allows a specially crafted (but invalid) firmware signature to result in the BootROM comparing the calculated hash of the firmware to itself.  This means that with said specially crafted signature, the signature check will always succeed and we can load whatever code we want.  Which is pretty fuckin' cool.

In other news, my buttcheeks are clenched since there's a ban wave going around that seems to be targeted at users of hacked 3DSes.  No ban yet, but it ain't over yet.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Wii Fit U: One Year of Fitness

Hard to believe that a year ago, I was 253 pounds and running out of breath going up the stairs in my house.

It's also hard to believe that eight months after that, I was 153 pounds.

Its a bit easier to believe that in the last four months, I've kept my weight in the ballpark I set for myself, because Wii Fit U is too shortsighted to give you the option.

Now, let's consider what I've done in these past four months, food-wise.
  • I went to the Highland County Maple Festival, where I ate buckwheat pancakes with butter and 100% Grade A Dark Amber maple syrup, with a side of sausage and sausage gravy.  Ate a single maple donut.  For lunch, missed the maple chicken but had a kind of underwhelming "consolation" hamburger.
  • I've been to Cook Out, Five Guys, Wendy's, Brixx (which is a total shit pizza place, get a real crust instead of serving pizza on a cracker), and a few other restaurants
  • I've been having various desserts after dinner, including M&M's Ice Cream Sandwiches (the ones I compared to premature ejaculation in a review a long time ago), and the Reese's ice cream bars; but also toast with apple butter, which is fucking amazing
  • Snacking with walnuts and 60% bittersweet chocolate chips maybe once or twice a day, usually while watching YouTube videos
  • Drinking a fair amount of alcohol, both beer and liquor, and noticing the odd reality that the beer affects me far more than the liquor despite the liquor being higher ABV
Pretty good?  Well, on the surface, yes, but mentally, it's a struggle.

Anyway, after a year of caring about my physical fitness, what do I think about the future?

Well, I definitely need to figure out with a bit more certainty how much leeway I have for the things I can eat.  I still feel like it's a giant guessing game and I hate feeling like I have to pay attention to the numbers.  I feel guilty whenever any one given meal is larger than normal and the "now I gotta work this off" thought very quickly enters my head and stays there.  It leaves me completely uncertain as to whether or not I can maintain the weight that I've gotten myself down to, especially if I want to have a job or maybe not have to exercise every single day for the rest of my life.

Restaurants are a huge problem, because they almost universally don't care about nutrition.  I feel like there's only two restaurants I can ever go to and not have to worry, they're Bodo's and Sticks.  All the other establishments just cover everything in oil, throw in tons of sugar and fat, coat it with salt, and deep fry it all.  It's like chefs and corporate test kitchens need to be bitchslapped back to reality.

It's no wonder America has an obesity epidemic.  Our restaurants are serving up nutritional nightmares, and people grow up on "traditional" food that's absolutely terrible for them.  Anyone who wants to live a healthy lifestyle is the odd person out, and nine times out of ten, gets treated as such.  We're the nutjobs that don't want fried chicken in our salads.  We're the crazies that don't want our cornbread to be sweet.  We're the radicals that prefer the natural taste of food to when that food is covered with fat, salt, oil, and sugar.

Anyway, it's been a year of fixing what was likely two full decades of nutritional missteps, and while I feel like I can maintain it, I also feel like I'm way too restricted on what I can enjoy, and like I'll be tethered to one or another form of tracking my weight for the rest of my life.  I'll never be able to relax, and I'll always have a mental anxiety that causes me to act and eat very differently in the 24 hours before I weigh in.  The weight loss part is done, but life ain't easy.  Fuck my life.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Brave Dungeon: "Do Your Best" Playing Level

The Playing Level you get for clearing the Godshill dungeon with no party member above level 20 takes a bit of strategizing, and given that I just did it, I'm here to share what I did.  It's not possible without being on New Game +, because you need a few specific effects from the Syega Shop, and being able to include Zizou in your party will make the boss fights go a bit more smoothly.

Syega Shop Effects

Inherit 1% of Tres: If you start this New Game + from a save that has a lot of Tres, you could potentially buy a lot of stat boosts from the Power Up menu, making everything easier.  I didn't carry over a heck of a lot of Tres, but I did pour basically every Tres I got into stat boosts.  Having higher stats (particularly Attack) helps greatly for the Floor 2 boss, Papa Mudman, who can stalemate you if you aren't dealing enough damage.

Inherit Maps: While this isn't 100% necessary, it's very useful to be able to plan your route through each floor of Godshill.  You absolutely need to avoid as many battles as possible.

Inherit Accessories: A Through Pendant is absolutely required, and given that the materials necessary to craft it require you to visit dungeons other than Godshill, you'll need to carry one over from another save.  Other than that, you can bring over whatever you want.  You'll only have access to two accessory slots per character, so your choice is fairly important.  I carried over three Quadruple Strikers, two Magic Earrings, one Ultimate, and the Through Pendant.  I wholly recommend carrying over six accessories in addition to the Through Pendant, so you can equip and unequip the Through Pendant as necessary.

Inherit Magic Items: At the minimum, you need Escape and a good number of the healing items.  If you've already got a save that has all of the magic items purchased, this is a no-brainer.

Increase Revenge Power: Revenge Magic as a whole is kind of underwhelming in this game, at least when you have Quadruple Strikers around, but one character's Revenge Magic is very, very useful: Stoj's Come On Minions.  It's a heal for the entire party that costs zero Capacity.  With this effect, she only needs to be hit twice to be able to use it, and three times for full power.

Half Tres: Tres rewards from battles are directly tied to the amount of experience you get, and without Half Tres, you'll level up to 21 before reaching Bajel.  To get an idea of how close it gets even with Half Tres, I levelled up to 20 on the Floor 5 boss of Godshill.

Life +500 and Life +1500: These combine to give you 2000 extra HP.  Given that you'll just be rushing through Godshill at a low level, ignoring all the other dungeons, the extra HP is necessary to ensure survivability.

Attack +20, Defense +20, Mind +40, and Agility +10: It's simple, really.  Would you rather have lower stats, or higher stats?  Obviously, you want higher stats.  There's no sense in deriving some sort of false pride from making things more tedious than they absolutely need to be.

Party and Game Setup

First things first, use an Escape to bypass the opening scene where Al runs into Godshill by herself.

Hold L + R when selecting Change Party, and set your party as Al, Zizou, and Stoj.

Press X and set the difficulty to Easy.  Set any other options you want.

Equip the accessories you carried over, ignoring the Through Pendant for now.  I equipped a Quadruple Striker on everyone, Magic Earrings on Zizou and Al, and the Ultimate on Stoj.

Once you're ready, head off to Godshill.

Godshill Route

In general, you'll want to fight as few battles as possible.  To do this, the rhythm of each floor is:
  1. Enter floor.
  2. If necessary, swap out the Through Pendant for whatever other accessory you brought.
  3. Take the path to the boss that results in the least number of battles.
  4. Defeat boss, then equip Through Pendant.  I personally equipped it in place of Stoj's Ultimate, but it doesn't really matter.
  5. Make sure the doors on the floor have been opened.  Not all doors need to be open, just the ones on the shortest route between the entrance and exit.
  6. Use an Escape to heal and replenish Magic Items.
  7. Re-enter Godshill and run to the next floor.
The only exceptions are just before Papa Mudman on Floor 2, once you reach level 10, and once you reach level 20.  Just before Papa Mudman, you'll want to fight a few extra fights to get yourself to level 10.  In this regard, your initial route through the floor should prioritize opening the door that lets you get to Papa Mudman more quickly when you re-enter the floor later.  Depending on what your stats are, the level 10 Class Change stat boosts could make the difference between the fight becoming a stalemate, and actually defeating Papa Mudman.  At a certain point in the fight, he uses Bodybuilding to gain Attack Up, Defense Up, Speed Up, and Regen.  The Regen combined with the Defense Up is what's capable of making the fight a stalemate.  None of the other bosses have to be worried about in this manner, including Bajel.

Once you hit level 10, and again when you hit level 20, you'll need to use an Escape to go back to Newport and Class Change everyone.  Your choices matter a bit more here, given that you only get two Class Changes per character.  For Al, I took Cold Block (for the stat boosts, I never actually used Cold Block) and Power Up All.  For Zizou, I took Express and Disruptive.  For Stoj, I took Funny Delusion and Rescue.

Once you start encountering the Metal Blubbers, the battle strategy changes a bit.  Since they can run from the battle, you basically want them to do this.  Kill off everything else and then just pass turns by pressing Y until it happens, making sure to keep yourself alive in the meantime.

In Conclusion

As long as you exercise a certain amount of intelligence in keeping your party alive, this setup should get you the Playing Level reasonably easily.  I did have to have Stoj use Rescue a fair number of times on the second phase of the Bajel fight, because Double Hell Claw is a one-hit kill, but at no point did I ever really panic.  Just have Al and Zizou keep attacking, have Stoj keep healing and reviving as necessary, and the fight will be over before too long.  If Come On Minions isn't available, just use one of the Magic Items that heals the whole party.

Also, there may be images added to the Godshill Route section in the future, showing each floor's map and annotated with the route you should take.  I'll have to do another playthrough of Godshill to make the screenshots, so it'll be a bit.