about the title: "Kratos ga Taosenai" is "I can't beat Kratos" in Japanese. It's a reference to a song called "Airman ga Taosenai" meaning, similarly, "I can't beat Airman," which is lamenting about a particularly difficult boss in the Megaman series. There is also an English rendition called "I can't Defeat Air-Man."
Kratos Aurion. Possibly one of the most EPIC characters in video game history. I mean that both literally and figuratively. He is both awesome, and belongs to a class of character highly consistent with those in epic stories. But then, when the official tagline of the game is "The epic battle for survival" you SHOULD follow an epic structure; Tales of Symphonia has NO problem with this.
Those familiar with the game, aka, having played it, you will be able to understand the significance of this post's title instantly. For those who are less familiar or have no clue what I'm talking about, yes Kratos is a party member*. No, that does not mean you won't have multiple opportunities to fight him. As an older, more experienced adventurer, he quickly becomes a mentor figure, and perhaps even more depending on how you play and how you interpret his character. At the same time, as a mercenary and the only other swordsman the main character has met, he is easily identified as a possible rival.
At multiple points in the game, you have the option, and often obligation, to fight him. Very few of these fights are you expected, or even REQUIRED to win. That's how bada__ this character is as a boss. Strong melee fighter, ridiculously fast at casting spells, and nearly impossible to interrupt. Generally your best tactic is to split up the party so he doesn't kill you all in one go, and try to hang on for dear life long enough to see some of his cooler moves before he slaughters you.
One of his more threatening moves, the bane of my existence, is a spell called "grave" (an earth spell summoning forth spikes of rocky death, not unlike FMA). It was a particular favorite of the AI that one day I had to fight him, like, six times. Go into overlimit so I can't interrupt him, cast "grave," knock me down with said "grave," and start casting "grave" again while I struggle to get up. I HATE grave. Plus, it makes me sick to think that he's using it to kill me before I can use it to kill things playing AS him.
However, as difficult as it is, Kratos IS beatable EVERY time you fight him. Last night my friend and I, on a FIRST playthrough might I add, actually defeated him. It wasn't the first time we fought that battle, but we went back a few times. Once or twice because we didn't think we'd put up a good enough fight, and once for some serious sidequesting. By the the time we got back from tracking down long lost parents, visiting graves (real graves, not the spell), helping children find their mothers, and saving princesses, we finally settled down to fight this guy, well and prepared.
We decided our goal was to get off one good Unison Attack, one which we'd built to use an attack we usually used him for (Cross Thrust, for those who know the game), and my own goal was to get off as many GRAVES as possible with our other characters capable of the spell. If we were gonna get our a__es handed to us, we were going to put up the most ironic fight ever. After all, our most commonly used characters are Lloyd (mostly her character) and Zelos (mostly mine), and my friend is a role-player (she actually went to an in-game amusement park simply to "cheer up" one of our characters she felt was depressed by recent events). Lloyd would go down fighting and Zelos only fights in style, so that's how we were gonna do it.
Being the SPEED DEMON on the field he is, Lloyd managed to reach Kratos and perform our first Unison Attack fast enough to cut off Kratos's most powerful spell in the middle. It turns out, the AI opens this battle with that spell and only uses it once. This is a good thing because that spell would have taken half our hit points within, literally the first 5 seconds of the battle. After a bit of walloping on Lloyd's part, I got off Zelos's grave spell; we were pretty happy. Though we kept taking a beating, we continued to do well.
After a bit we started using items and even life bottles (the equivalent of phoenix down). As I went to the item menu one more time, I asked her, "how much are we trying to win this?" It was then that we decided we had used too many items to not go all the way, so I pulled out our secret weapon, "all-divide."
All-divide is a classic Tales boss item. You only get about 2 or 3 a game, so use them well. They cut damage done to anything on the field in half, friend or foe. Why would you do that? Healing isn't halved, only damage. This version of Boss Kratos doesn't heal himself, but we can. We have four damage-dealing characters and he has one. Essentially, if you're going to be whittling away at his 20,000+ hit points, make sure you can survive long enough to do it.
Before long, we were doing well enough to use a magic lens and see he had about 2500 HP left. This fight was in the bag. Over all, we got off about 3 Unison Attacks and a fair number of graves. Oh yeah, and kicked his a__.
The four-and-a-half minute boss fight yielded, literally, over 9000 EXP (XP, experience points), a few choice items, including a level 4 ExSphere, and +2.72 grade. Three of the four party members on the field leveled up. Oh, and Kratos's data in our bestiary. Again, for those unfamiliar with the game, those are good spoils. Plus, the bragging rights of having defeated Kratos as relatively inexperienced gamers on a first playthrough**, that is, no "new game plus" where most people pull these kind of stunts.
No, the fight isn't as hard as your first one with him, or some other battles, but we still feel pretty good about it. And, since my friend in a writer and a RP gamer, she even decided our defeat of Kratos filled in a few subsequent plot holes. Overall, not a bad night.
~singing~I can't defeat… Kra-atos. No matter how I try to dodge of his lightning he just graves me again. Every time. Somehow, every time I lose. ~hums "I Can't Defeat Air-Man"~
*For those even less familiar with video games, that means he is a playable character. He's in your party. You get to play as him. From a literary standpoint, "party members" would be considered a protagonists or allies.
**I say "a first playthrough" rather than "our first playthrough" because I have played the game before, but I don't have the data, so i don't have "new game plus" for it.