This game is heavy on the use of the Stylus, and you could even play it without pressing any buttons at all (though you would be making your life exceedingly difficult by doing so). You won’t get away with not using the touch screen though, so you may want to consider investing in a screen protector and making sure your DS is correctly calibrated.
During the dialogue sequences, you need only remember that A (or tapping the screen) will skip to the next line of dialogue, and B will fast-forward through the dialogue like there’s no tomorrow (very handy on second play throughs or if you’re playing the Japanese version of the game).
During the missions, the controls will be as follows:
-B button: Speed up gameplay
-X button: Change from unit list to unit-type selection
-L button: Rotate the playing area 90 degrees counter-clockwise
-R button: Rotate the playing area 90 degrees clockwise
-Start Button: Open the options menu
-D-pad: Move the play area in the direction indicated (note, this does not
follow the direction of the map on the top screen, but the bottom) -Touch screen: Unit selection, commands, the whole kaboodle really
Selecting and moving units
To select a unit, you can either tap on that unit, click on the icon to the right of your screen that shows the stylus and draw a circle round the unit or units (this also pauses the game while you do so), or tap the avatar for that unit in your unit list at the bottom of the screen. These icons each represent a unit by their type and health status.
Diamond avatars represent Hero units, Circles ones represent Harvester units, and Squares represent Battle units. Also when your units are carrying out an action (harvesting, attacking) they will turn into stars momentarily.
The colour will show you how well your unit’s health is doing. The closer it gets to red, the closer it is getting to dying a horrible death.
Green and happy means health is between 81-100%
Yellowy-green and indifferent means health is between 51-80%
Yellow and drooping means health is between 31-50%
Orange and rather down in the dumps means health is between 0-30%
A health bar is displayed above each unit indicating the aproximate health of the unit, including enemies.
To then move the unit or units selected, tap on bottom screen where you want them to move and they will do so, indicating their path with a series of white arrows. Note that in the event of a path being blocked, or being too narrow to get a certain number of the units through, some units may decide to seek out alternative routes, even if it means gonig into enemy territory, so keep an eye on where your units are heading.
When moving multiple units, the first unit to the spot will occupy it, while the others will wander around the near area of the spot already occupied. If it frees up, another unit will take its place.
You can also select all units of a certain type by changing your unit list to unit type mode. To do this, press the X button, and a set of icons depicting all the units types available to you will be displayed. Tap on on of these, and all units of that type will be selected. Also, when you manually select one or more units by tapping on the unit or encircling it, the type of units selected will flash on this icon list.
Note that certain units will only be able to move on certain terrain. Most units will move along the ground only, and can only jump up small steps. Jumping units can overcome changes in relief to a certain extent. Flying units can go practically anywhere. Aquatic units will move faster along water (that ground units can’t tread) and slower on land.
More detail on Unit types and how they handle terrain can be found in the MOBs/Units Explained section.
The map in the top screen will show you the entire level. The lighter areas indicate the map that you have uncovered so far, and the darker the areas that are still to be unveiled. You will be able to see units and resources in the uncovered areas (even if no unit is currently there of yours).
A red square will show you what part of the map corresponds to the play area you are currently viewing in the bottom screen. One corner of this square corresponds to where the compass (top left of your bottom screen) is situated in relation to the square.
You will also see here a power guage that indicated how powerful your army is in comparison to the enemy’s. Half-way means your even, and the more your green extends into the right side of the bar the more powerful you are in comparison, and vice-versa.
There are several status ailments that can be inflicted upon characters and MOB units, each of which will affect movement, attacking or HP in a certain way for a short period of time. They are detailed below.
As well as moving the game area with the D-pad, you can also switch your screens so that the top map is displayed on the touch screen. A square will display the game area. Tap on a part of the map to move this square there, and the game screen will shift accordingly. You can then switch the screens back.
This also allows you, if precise enough, to select units on the map, as well as centering the screen on them to use them.
To switch the screens, use the icon in the top-right corner of the bottom screen. Note that this icon is also used in the information menus.
Rotating the screen
You can rotate the screen in 90 degree increments either using the L and R buttons to rotate counter and clockwise respectively, or you can tap on the compass in the top left corner of the bottom screen to rotate clockwise by 90 degrees. Also note that the blue marker in this compass will indicate North.
There are two resources to collect in the game. Harvester units will head out to collect these and bring them back to the Nightswan Ship.
First off is Gaia Stones. These are collected from mineral deposits with Gaia’s face on them, and are used to build structures within your Ship.
Then there are Treant Fruit, which is collected from trees with Treant’s face. These are used to spawn MOB units from the structures in your ship.
Each resource deposit has a limited quantity of mineral or fruit, and the less there is available the more droopy the deposit’s face and general status will look (so the tree will wither, and the mineral deposit will look… well, more and more shagged out really).
In each map there are hidden items that are found when any MOB unveils a certain square on the map. This is another reason to explore as much of the map as possible. A MOB finding an item will be indicated by a extended ascending chirpy melody and a speech bubble with an exclamation mark appearing over their unit-list avatar (if displayed).
These items will be listed at the end of the level during the ranking screen.
Anchoring your ship
The Nightswan Ship can be moved during a mission, but generally will stay anchored to a mooring point on the map. Some maps have several mooring points. The ship will only be able to carry out certain functions while anchored, such as spawning units, gathering resources from the Harvesters and summonning God- Beasts, but will be vulnerable to melee attacks also. While on the move, it will be vulnerable only to projectiles, but you won’t be able to perform any of the previously listed tasks.
Your ranking is based on several factors, and can be reviewed in the Encyclopedia in-game. Also, the higher rank you achieve in a mission, the better the reward you will receive for completing the chapter. The factors taken into account are:
Clear Time: 20p Max
Friendly Units Spawned: 10p Max
Enemy Units Defeated: 20p Max
Friendly Units Lost: 20p Max
Gaia Stones Harvested: 10p Max
Treant Fruit Harvested: 10p Max
Map Uncovered: 10p Max
Damage to Ship: 20p Max
Platinum S Rank: 100-120 points
Gold A Rank: 80-99 points
Silver B Rank: 70-79 points
Bronze C Rank: 60-69 points
D Rank: 59-50 points
E Rank: 49 points or less
Also in the case of maps where certain statistics don’t apply the maximum score is given by default (ie. a map where you are given a set number of units, your friendly unit spawning points will be maxed out even though you didn’t spawn any units).