One of the most crucial, yet most overlooked features in Megaten is its minimap. Newcomers to the world of Megaten often find themselves lost and disoriented, partially because the world in Megaten is based squarely in urban Japan; Home III, which is where play begins in earnest, is situated in Tokyo. Suginami, just outside of Home III's protective walls, is a ward of Tokyo. To a Japanese audience, the visual impact of a ruined Suginami is somewhat more than a Western audience not intimately familiar with the surroundings. But part of the experience of any game is to get into the mindset of the characters of the game, and so knowledge of the map feature is paramount. Even a Tokyo native can't be expected to know his way around a post-apocalyptic wasteland, even if it is where he presently lives!
The first thing is to be familiar with the GUI, or graphic user interface. This is a term common to computer users, so please file it away for future reference if you didn't already know it. The GUI is how you interact with the game. It includes your cursor (the little pointy arrow thing), the chat windows, the display windows...and the compass, which is located by default at the top right of your game screen. On the compass, you can see yourself and the people and demons around you. As you move around, you'll notice that some things appear in some colors, whereas others appear in other colors. You are always in the center of the compass, and there is a lighter, triangular field that shows which direction you are facing, at any given time.
At the top of the compass is a helpful readout displaying the current phase of the Moon -- this is important in game terms, for reasons we'll get into later. The pale green sphere at the top right of the compass shows the Moon directly, for illustrative purposes. The square with the smaller white square inside, as with any window of virtually any system, minimizes the compass. But the most important item for this tutorial is the angular icon that resembles the number 4.
By clicking this, we are able to bring up a miniature version of the map, so that we can see where we are in relation to things and where we are going. The default location for the minimap is the lower right, but this can be manipulated as you like. The three buttons on the top right of the window are, like most window-oriented programs: minimize, a toggle between full-screen and miniature, and close. There is a special blue symbol on the minimap that signifies you, the player, and the green waves show the direction in which you are facing. But you have probably noticed some symbols on the map that you may or may not recognize.
To remedy this, we need to click the middle button, the one to make the map take up our full screen. It will be semi-transparent, but I don't suggest moving while you have this up. Once you've done that, you'll be able to see the whole area. In Home III, for example, you have things like the Virtual Battle chamber, where Snakeman -- the man who gives you story-advancing missions -- stays. By hovering your cursor over the symbols, you can see what they mean. This is helpful when you come across unfamiliar symbols, or if you're not sure what the specific symbol stands for. An example of this is that there is an obelisk in Nakano, which is appropriately the Nakano Obelisk. When you go into Shibuya, the obelisk there is the Shibuya Obelisk. The symbols are the same, but the meanings are different. These two are rather basic examples, but there are other, more importantly distinct landmarks that share similar symbols.
For Home III newcomers, the locations should be explained:
Virtual Battle & Snakeman - This area contains the virtual battle tutorial, which allows you to hone your skills. You should go through this tutorial completely at least once upon starting Megaten. Its advice is essential for any beginners to find their way in a fight. You'll see a lot of this area, since Snakeman is responsible for your storyline-advancing missions, called Acts.
Cathedral of Shadows - This is a crucial part of Megaten, where demons are fused and new demons made. You'll come into contact with the master here later.
Armor Shop - They sell armor of all kinds, which includes various items of clothing. There is also a merchant that sells items to change your look.
Weapon Shop - This shop sells, naturally, weapons and weapon supplies.
Terminelle - The Terminelle takes care of storage, specifically item storage and demon storage. Demon storage requires a cash shop item, however.
Home III Service Entrance - This location will become important during a storyline quest.
Pharmacy - The Pharmacy sells recovery items and augmentative items that can increase various things, including hit points (HP) and magic points (MP), and so forth. By using recovery and curative items, you will raise your Expertise in Curative Magic, for example, if you have it set to accumulate.
Home Point - The Home Point is the place where you will find yourself if you are defeated in battle and choose to be returned there. You can only set a single Home Point, so make sure it's somewhere you want to be restored. By using the spell Traesto or a Traesto stone, you can be returned to your Home Point without being defeated first. In the Megaten series, the Home Point is where you save and load, et cetera. It's a neat bit of consistency between the console titles and the online game.
Magic Shop - Here you can buy magical items. These range from augmentative items to various spell stones. Spell stones contain the ability of a spell, but without the need to expend MP on casting it. Your Expertise in the various kinds of magic, if you have them set to accumulate, will advance even if you use magic stones to cast the spells.
Suginami - This is the exit of Home III, leading to the big outside world. Suginami holds chance and fortune, and all adventurers must eventually leave the safety of Home III's haven.
To reduce the minimap to being miniature again, simply click the same button on it that you clicked to make it full-screen. It's the middle button at the top right of the window. Voila! You've returned your minimap to the way it was. But what if you used the scroll bars at the bottom or side? It won't be centered on you anymore! You won't be able to see where you're going.
In that case, the button Reset will appear. All you have to do is click on that, and your minimap will center on you again. You'll be able to track your progress through the game's world once again.
There is a caveat though, and that is that if you don't have the map for a certain area, of course you won't be able to do much with your map or minimap. The areas surrounding Suginami are all in your map system. However, the farther from Suginami you get, the greater the likelihood that you will no longer have a map. Once you get into the more outer-lying areas, you will find that you won't automatically have a map for it...but that won't happen for quite a while!
Now that you know how to use your map, feel free to explore! As long as you're careful, you can go and look at some of the wonderful locations in the world of Megaten. Get into the feel, get into the mindset of the characters, and let yourself be swept away by its beauty. I recommend Nakano for gorgeous music and scenery. Just be careful of the Garms!
Signing off until next time, your friend and explorer!