Matt Bird writes all sorts of nonsense, but he dedicates a large chunk of his time to writing game walkthroughs.
The last time Oliver visited Tombstone Trail, probably over a decade in the past, he received a Skeleton Key that he was told would allow him into a to-be-built casino. It's been a long time since then, so . . . is the casino ready?
It is! Stroll back to Tombstone Trail in the present and you'll find the Crypt Casino, built into the wall to the east of the area's first save point. The Skeleton Key will allow you access, and when you get inside the Pit Boss will describe the four games of the Casino in detail.
Slots is . . . slots. You sit down at a set of three reels and try to time your clicks to line up like pictures on the reels. Do so and you'll win some money—but usually not a lot of money. To up the ante a bit the slot machines also include items, gained when you get a lucky seven, that allow you to speed up time, increase your winnings, give you another spin and so forth. The slots tend to lose you more money than they make, and are best avoided. Even if you are lucky, it takes a long time to earn up enough chips to afford any items.
Blackjack in this casino plays the same as it does in any casino. Both you and the dealer begin with two cards. Your goal is to have at least two cards that add up to 21—or the closest you can get to 21—without going over. To win a round, you must beat the dealer's hand. Get a Blackjack (21) and you win automatically. The stakes improve with each successive round, so you can win a ton of chips at Blackjack IF you're very lucky. The cards dealt are entirely random. This is an okay game for raking in chips, but it's not amazing.
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Platoon is essentially a large-scale version of War. Each turn, or 'campaign', you are dealt a hand and must place cards into one of five formations. Players then take turns squaring formations off against one another to see which is more powerful. The higher number wins, and the first player to have three wins in a campaign wins the campaign. Kings allow for an automatic win, except against Bishops (aces) and other Kings; Bishops are an automatic loss, save against Kings; and Magicians (jokers) swap your cards with those of the other player's formation. Pair Bishops and Magicians together for a devastating combo. Platoon is probably the best game to play to earn chips, as it allows you to employ a great deal more strategy than the other games, though it does take a little while to play each campaign.
This game is essentially the same as the Test of Friendship back in the Temple of Trials. You have to guide Esther and Oliver across a pit of falling platforms—and, this time, by obstacles such as moving fireballs. The higher the level you play, the higher the stakes will be. Double Cross is fun, but it's not a good way to earn a lot of chips in a hurry unless you're insanely well-coordinated.
The casino has some decent items for this point in the game, though you can't unlock the A- and S-Rank items until later—in the latter case, until you beat the entire game. For now, your best item to grab is probably the Medal of Agility, which increases the Attack, Defense and movement speed of one team member. Equip this on Oliver, Esther or Swaine and you'll make it a lot easier to escape from enemies who are closing in. The Bluster Blade isn't too bad, either, though it's a bit costly for a small boost in power over what you can find in stores.
The Crypt Casino is as fifty-fifty as its odds. Some players will love it; others will find it a waste of time. It's not necessary for beating the game, at any rate, and may eat up more cash than you're willing to spend. Still, it's not a bad diversion if you enjoy elevator music—and if you come back after the end of Ni no Kuni, you can access the special RIP room, which contains clips of the game's cut scenes. Nifty!
Enough canoodling with the rich and the dead. This adventure won't resolve itself. On to Skull Mountain!
© 2013 Matt Bird