Crystal Story II allows for a great deal of customization and combinations.
As there are 6 classes and 5 levels per class, given enough SP, one could attain total mastery of all classes. As there are various choices to be made, one can create a very balanced character or a character favoring Attack/HP or another favoring Magic ability and Magic Points. (However, IMHO 200 MP are sufficient for defeating just about anything except the Dargon King and Koohii.)
In favor of a more balanced strategy are numerous of the tougher bosses, who may kill multiple of your party members. While you may be able to use items as Revive, Full Revive, healing potions, or cast the equivalent spells, casting healing spells is based on the caster's Magic ability (and weapon).
|Cure / Heal Effect||D||Lina||Mari||Kaz|
|Heal, Cure, Raise, Heal All, Quick Heal, Regen, Cure All||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Holy Light (Greater Group Heal)||No||Yes||No||Yes|
|Auto Raise (Raises ally if they should ever lose all their HP)||Yes||No||No||No|
Good general purpose weapons would be the Balanced (Evoblade, Balisong, Twin Trigger, Judgement) and HP steal (Souleater, Life, Life Zapper, Bloodscythe) weapons. The Balanced weapons are 20-25% stronger and faster than the HP Steal weapons, but the latter allow for less necessity to cast healing. (Of course, it could be argued that dispatching enemies faster means less necessity for healing. In terms of math, the Balanced IV Level 99 is +231 speed, magic, and attack compared to HP Steal, so you are going to be hitting more often and harder.)
In favor of a more specialized character are that certain items e.g., the Attack/Magic/Guard weapons, would also favor certain stats. Also, specializing certain characters increases the efficiency for killing enemies and bosses. In general, Kaz favors HP and ATK and the female characters favor MAG. Lina is the fastest character.
Since the game gives you a lot of items (Revive, Healing Potions, Mana Potions, etc.), you could have one character specialize in using the Item Plus weapon (Materialauncher, Kris, Pocket Pistol, Demonchaser). This character would be very specialized to use Bursts (Grenades, Super Grenades, and Rockets) to do damage as as you do 150% ATK damage well as some Magic secondary support and Regular Attacks and would use potions (150% heal on potions and tonics, irrespective of stat) and items. A character that specializes using Bursts should focus on the ATK stat.
These are weapons that I don't think are very useful as they have such limited use: Resistance (reducing Nerf duration), Buff Player, Nerf Enemy, Buff Duration, Last Resort.
The ATK / Magic / Speed weapons seem to require you to build your character around that stat. Compared to the Balance weapon, the ATK weapon sacrifices Magic significantly (-467 points) and some speed (-261) for a high ATK rating (+374 points). If say, you build one character where you minimize MP and Magic bonuses, and primarily pick ATK, Speed, and some HP, that might be a way to specialize.
Conversely, if you play a Magic specialized character, you could pick some MP and primarily Magic and Speed, and as little ATK as possible.
The Speed weapon allows you to have more frequent actions (-261 points to ATK and Magic, +251 to Speed). If you try to play a "fast" character where you pick Speed regularly and balance points, you can expect somewhere around 1600-2000 Speed, so +251 is about 1/8 faster. In contrast, the fastest Hard mode regular enemies are about 1150 (1200 for a Birdo). The fastest Normal mode character is the Dargon King (Speed= 416) and the fastest Hard mode character is the first form of Koohii, Speed = 1700. For some reason, the second, giant form of Koohii is slower (Speed=1400) but has higher stats (3333 instead of 2500 and more HP, 220000 instead of 198000). Even if you do a Quicken, I don't think specializing on the Speed weapon and on a fast character is a good way to go.
In general, these are the rules I used for building my characters:
1. If ever there's a choice between HP and (whatever else), choose the one that is NOT HP.
If you don't choose HP, your HP totals when you max out should be: D 2851, Lina 2333, Mari 2597, and Kaz 3170. That's plenty of HP to defeat anyone except Koohii. You can give Lina all the Stat HP potions you get until she evens up with everyone else if you're concerned.
Just make sure to buff up vs. Koohii and wear the Full Armors.
2. Generally, don't pick MP (except in rule #1 above -- if HP vs. MP, pick MP, but otherwise pick the other choice if MP vs. other).
If you only choose MP instead of HP and otherwise pick other, you'll end up with MP: D 189, Lina 195, Mari 223, and Kaz 194. You can give D, Kaz, and Lina a few Stat MP potions (you'll get at least three just in the Wanted X quests).
3. If you have a choice between two stats, pick the one that would give you more points e.g., 5 ATK vs 4 SPD, pick 5 ATK.
4. If the points are equal, pick the stat that is currently lower, unless you are trying for a specialized character, in which case pick the character's specialization (ATK or MAG).
The SPD stat is the frequency of attack and damage per unit time is going to be ATK * SPD (if physical attacks or boosts) or MAG * SPD (if using magic).
Keeping Useful Equipment Around
A player does not need to only heal in combat but can heal after combat is completed, so conceivably, you could keep the Heal Plus weapons (Holylight, Calm, Repair Pistol, and Angel Wing) to equip before casting healing spells. Unfortunately (or fortunately) if you have 3 Full Armor Tier IV Level 11 per character, you really won't need to use healing very often. Moreover, if you max out stats, you may find you have 800+ MAG (plus bonuses due your choice of weapon) and base HP in the 2500-3500 range, so you really don't need 1.5 x (783+800) or if I have Magic Up, 1.5 x 1.8 x (783+800) healing that often. I find that if I do a MAG UP (1.8x) and use the balanced weapon (866+800), this is plenty of healing in battle.
One could also look up the Bestiary before entering into battle and if the enemy casts certain spells -- one could equip the appropriate gems e.g., the Djinnie uses all Fire based attacks, so you could equip the Fire Gem.
|Balance||Best overall weapon for stats (ATK, MAG, SPD)||No other special abilities||This weapon is very good for enhancing characters' abilities and for overall damage|
|Attack||Highest ATK rating||Sacrifices Magic and some Speed||Great for characters who have specialized in ATK with good SPD.|
|Magic||Highest MAG rating||Sacrifices ATK and some Speed||Great for characters who have specialized in MAG with good SPD.|
|Speed||Highest SPD rating||Sacrifices ATK and MAG||Not really that great other than you hit a little more frequently. Since damage per unit time is roughly SPD (=frequency) * ATK/MAG, you are better off with a different weapon|
|Buff duration||Increases duration of friendly buffs||Not very good for ATK/MAG/SPD ratings||Not worth it; you might save some MP for (re-)casting buffs|
|Resistance||Decreases duration of enemy nerfs||Not very good for ATK/MAG/SPD ratings||Not worth it; you might save some MP for casting Cure|
|Nerf Duration||Increases duration of nerfs upon enemies||Not very good for ATK/MAG/SPD ratings||Not worth it; you might save some MP for (re-)casting buffs|
|Random buff||Randomly casts a random buff||Not very good for ATK/MAG/SPD ratings||Not worth it; you might save some MP for (re-)casting buffs|
|Random nerf||Randomly casts a random nerf on enemies||Not very good for ATK/MAG/SPD ratings||Not worth it; you might save some MP for (re-)casting nerfs. Most big bosses are immune or highly resist the nerfs.|
|Last Resort||Triples your ATK/MAG stat when you have low HP||Shouldn't happen very often and you're about to die||Doesn't occur enough to warrant the usage|
|Heal||Heal spells (which based on MAG stat) and healing potions are 150%. MAG stat is also almost as good as Balanced.||Sacrifice a lot of ATK.||Really not worth it in battle.|
|HP Steal||10% of total damage inflicted, whether by Physical Attack, Magic, Group Effects, Weapon skills, etc. is healed.||About 20% less than Balanced.||Pretty good weapon overall if you don't like to heal and if you can outright kill monsters.|
|Item+||Healing potions are 150%; all item usage is faster (cost less action bar). Bursts do 150% ATK damage.||The same stats as HP Steal, which is about 20% less than Balanced.||As you get a lot of items and they are fairly useful, it is definitely worth it for one character to use an Item+ weapon. (See calc below)|
|Guard||When using the Guard skill, you take 66% damage instead of 80% vs. physical attacks; you also retaliate if hit by anything for 75% of ATK (not affected by buffs). You also have a bonus to HP.||You use an action which is a substantial amount of the action meter to cast Guard. The retaliation is not affected by buffs. ATK is lower and MAG is substantially lower.||Really not worth it. Longer analysis below.|
GUARD IS NOT WORTH IT!
The Guard skill costs 2 MP and is pretty substantial for the Action Bar (2/3 of total bar) whereas a normal attack is only 1/2 of total bar. In addition, retaliatory damage is only 75% of ATK and buffs do not affect this amount. While you take less physical damage -- at 66% instead of 80% for a Defense Up -- but not less magical damage or group affecting abilities like Dargon King's Judgement, this doesn't seem worth it.
Let's say D has 800 ATK, 800 MAG, 800 SPD, 3000 HP without a weapon.
D with Frostblade IV Level 99: 1400 ATK, 1272 MAG, 1435 SPD, 4470 HP. So retaliatory attack = 1050.
D with Evoblade IV Level 99: 1666 ATK, 1666 MAG, 1666 SPD, 3000 HP.
Note that D with Evoblade IV (without buffs) is going to consistently hit for more damage, cast for more magic damage, and attack a little faster.
There are a number of things that really imbalance this in favor of Evoblade over Frostblade: 1) Buffs (e.g., Attack Up, Magic Up). Buffed D is going to do at least 2x the retalliation damage and also more frequently since it costs less action bar. 2) 3 Sets of Full Armor Tier IV Level 11. If you have this, you won't be affected by elemental attacks or by physical attacks (those will heal you). The only things that affect you are Group Effects like Judgement or Nerfs/Statuses/Conditions.
|Weapon type||Adjusted ATK||Adjusted SPD||Base Damage inflicted on enemy||Cost MP||Action cost in segments||Total damage per first form Koohii Action|
|Guard+ Tier IV Level 99||1400||1435||1050 (Retaliation)||2||2 2/3||1291.5|
|Balance Tier IV Level 99||1666||1666||1666||0||2||3172|
ITEM PLUS CALCS
Somewhere around ATK=400 and SPD=400, a character who is specialized in ATK and uses the Item Plus weapon (even to Tier IV Level 99) will do more damage per unit time with bursts than a character who uses the Balanced weapon, everything else (buffs, etc.) equal.
Let's say you use Kaz and he has ATK=600 and SPD=500.
|Weapon type||Adjusted ATK||Adjusted SPD||Burst damage range||Total Rocket damage per first form Koohii action|
|Balance Tier IV Level 99||1466||1366||1466-2932||1144-2289|
|Item+ Tier IV Level 99||1235||1135||1852-3705||1201-2403|
As you can see, you are doing about 5% more damage per Koohii action with Item Plus weapon by using Rockets.
Most useful items
IMHO - Weapons: HP Steal, Balanced, one character with Item+
Armor: Booster (First Strike), Dice (Luck), Mirror (Evasion), Monocle (25% chance of critical = double damage), Full Armor, Start All, Gems.
Note that as in the armor section, if you have Full Armor IV Level 11 = Resist Physical -35% and Resist Magic -35%, and you have a Fire Gem (= Resist Fire -100%), then if you get hit by a Fire spell, you will be healed for 35% of the damage instead of taking damage.
Full Armor IV Level 11 x 3 - heal 5% per physical or magical hit, immune to everything except statuses (including poison). You'll also never need to cast Defense Up.
Booster+Start All+Monocle - First turn buffed action every time, with 25% chance to do double damage! (Chances are good if you have a fast character, with Booster+Start All [Start All has a Quicken buff], you'll get in 3 actions before the enemy can get in 1. e.g., If D has Evoblade Tier IV Level 99 and has all but one class completed, he'll be approximately ATK and SPD around 1400, faster than all creatures. With the Start All, you will have SPDx2 due to Quicken. You will get first move, and most of the time, enemies will be below the 50% mark on the Action Bar. Which means you could use D to do Charge, Charge, Dragon's Breath before the enemy can even twitch!
Best items at different scenarios:
Prior to defeating the Dargon King, you won't get any Sapphire or Ruby drops, so the maximum you can get is Tier III for all weapons and armors. At this point, there isn't a huge difference, although not having to heal is often a plus. I tended to favor the HP Steal weapons and one Full Armor Tier III Level 11 per character and some random items.
After defeating the Dargon King, it's helpful to get all characters with one Dice (for item farming) and getting components to build appropriate weapons. I'm currently trying to optimize and have Tier IV Level 99 weapons for HP Steal, and Balanced and plan to make one Item+ weapon on my next Ruby.
It's also worth it to have a total of 12 Full Armor Tier IV Level 11 before going into the middle islands. Abyss runs in hard mode are great for advanced item farming although I haven't seen a lot of Mirrors or Monocles (I think I got my second Monocle via Mecenary Defense). I am a little embarrassed to admit that with each character with 4 Full Armor Tier IV Level 11, you will have little difficulty even with Fury, Bunch, Bahumot or even Koohii #1 or Koohii #2.
ATTACKS OF HIGH DAMAGE
|Attack||Action bar time in segments||Cost (MP)||Approximate damage / description||Analysis|
|Rocket||2 segments||0||Attacks 5 times, 1-2x ATK (unless with Item+ weapon and buffed ATK Up); max is around 2.1-4.2x ATK plus criticals, can be up around 8000-1000 damage per attack)||I get averages around 20k or so every rocket I launch, so this is one of the best attacks for the delay.|
|Dragon's Rage||6 segments to set up (3x Charge), 4 segments delay afterward||0||Attacks up to 7 times for around 3.5-5x ATK with chance to critical||This does a lot of damage, I was seeing about 20k-40k total, but is very costly to set up.|
|Death's Tomb||6 segments to set up (3x Charge), 4 segments delay afterward||0||Attacks once for around 7-10x ATK with chance to critical||This does a lot of damage but is very costly to set up.|
|Cyclone Dance||6 segments to set up (3x Charge), 4 segments delay afterward||0||Attacks up to 5 times for around 3.5-5x ATK with chance to critical||This does a lot of damage but is very costly to set up.|
|Trigger Happy||6 segments to set up (3x Charge), 4 segments delay afterward||0||Attacks up to 5 times for around 3.5-5x ATK with chance to critical||This does a lot of damage, I was seeing about 20k-40k total, but is very costly to set up.|
|Elemental Attack III||4 segments delay afterward||16||Attacks at 2.2x MAG with variability of 1.2x; can MAG UP for 1.8 (max=3.96-4.752 x MAG)||Very costly in terms of MP, but does a lot of damage. With Balanced to Magic specialized characters, you're talking of up to 6k-9.5k damage.|
|Shockwave||4 segments delay afterward||12||Attacks at 1.6x ATK with variability of 1.4x; can ATK UP for 1.4 (max=2.24-3.136 x ATK)||Costly in terms of MP, but does good damage. With Balanced to Attack specialized characters, you're talking of up to 3k-6k damage on the group of monsters.|
|Barrage||3 segments to deploy||8||Four (4) Attacks at 0.5x ATK with variability of 1.4x; can ATK UP for 1.4 (max=2.8-3.92 x ATK)||Good damage, especially for Balanced to Attack specialized characters, it does a distribution of 4-8k damage to targets.|