The Let's Play Archive

Conception Plus: Maidens of the Twelve Stars

by Psycho Knight

Part 57: And what matters ain’t the “who’s baddest” but the ones who stop you fallin’ from your ladder

Update XVIII: And what matters ain’t the “who’s baddest” but the ones who stop you fallin’ from your ladder
Song Title Reference: Short Change Hero – By: The Heavy

We’re back to story content! Hurray! It’s only been… two months! That’s not too bad, right?

Okay, so it’s pretty bad. Hey, it’s not my fault that this game has shitty pacing and encourages you to do one labyrinth from each season which results in all the story content being emptied out after 4 dungeons.

Anyway, the point is that we’re resuming our march towards the end of this game. Because there’s a lot of story to get to, we’re just going to have a quick look at the labyrinth and then curb-stomp the boss. That will be it for our time in the Aquarius dungeon.

Which looks like what you would expect it to look like: Collette. At least it’s fairly colourful and bright. There are a handful of things of note that happen in here.

First of all, this is an issue that has been happening repeatedly which I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned. The game will randomly freeze from time to time whenever loading needs to happen (moving from room to room/floor to floor, entering a battle, leaving a battle, or even opening the menu).

The freezing lasts for about 30-40 seconds. Once the game finally feels like loading up again, the framerate proceeds to fluctuate like crazy. Every three or four seconds it will drop to about 10-15 FPS for a bit. This requires relaunching the game in order to fix it.

But here’s the thing: My OBS recording isn’t affected by this. Everything looks totally normal in the video I recorded. The framerate issue only manifests within live gameplay. It’s not the result of any programs or things running in the background either. This freezing/framerate drop issue has happened during grinding sessions as well, where I don’t have OBS running (and the game isn’t even set to fullscreen).

This fucking game.

In terms of equipment, we pick up one Supreme Armor. It’s a slight improvement, so I toss it to Blaze because he had the lowest overall DEF.

We also snag a new weapon from the Item Shrine. It’s a lance that looks like someone glued a handle onto a gift shop model of the Tokyo Skytree. Unlike the other “joke” weapons, this one is just outright better than our current weapons. We lose the Dark attack element, but ATK gets boosted by 45 and LUC shoots up by 310. I’m willing to make this trade off, because I expect the Ophiuchus Labyrinth to be filled with Dark/Light enemies and there is no enemy in Aquarius or Pisces which can possibly pose even a slight threat to us at this point. I’d rather have the increase in LUC for stuff like Sealed Rooms and Critical Hits. And I guess whatever other random shit that LUC impacts in this game.

That’s a weird design. Not sure what it has to do with Aquarius other than being slightly aquatic looking.

Mana tells us that its regular attacks are weak, but to “watch out for its powerful magic!”

…It does not have powerful magic. In fact, all of its stats are pathetic.

Now, normally this boss would be a decent challenge... if this was the third or fourth one that we fought. It has a good selection of spells and would normally be dangerous because it possesses a second tier spell (Absolute Zero). It also has healing and status recovery. All the makings of a “Okay, the gloves are off now” boss are there. It’s just too bad that we happened to tackle this near the end of the game instead of the beginning.

I think they may have originally intended the labyrinths to be run in a linear order, but later in development just decided to give the player free choice. All of the bosses feel out of order in terms of difficulty and there’s been no attempt to scale them with player progress outside of [If cleared labyrinths = X, then boss level = Y].

Whatever. It comes with Water and Wind Craters. I almost managed to pull off a sweep before the boss managed to get a single turn, but Itsuki couldn’t quite manage to seal the deal.

Apostatae uses its one and only turn to heal itself (at least boss Heal spells have been coded to scale with level. Too bad that they are still capped at 9999). It dies two turns later.

We get some Life Fruit to bump Itsuki’s HP by a negligible amount and also 4,000 EXP that we don’t need. Then we go and seal the labyrinth. Then, story time!

The following story event will trigger once you have cleared your fourth unique seasonal Star Labyrinth. What I mean is that you have to beat the boss of at least one Star Labyrinth in Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. So you can get this as soon as your fourth labyrinth, or as late as your tenth.

~Stardust Lab. Entrance~

*The screen shows Itsuki and Mana freaking out as everything shakes and the roaring happens. Then the screen goes black temporarily and comes back to reveal…*

I-Is… is this…?

Oh, hey Narc. You got here awful quickly.

Oh, Nar, you’re here too.

Well, if it’s here, then let’s take care of it right away.

Itsuki, wait. We need to talk first.

What do you mean, talk? What do we have to talk about?

Not here.

Yeah, I guess it is sort of chained shut right now.

We need to prepare at the castle.

…Fine. Let’s go back then.

~Palace Throne Room~

Hey, I’m not complaining. I’m cool with Mana not being in any more scenes. Also, hey Shang! Haven’t seen you in ages.

What we are about to speak of must remain here.

…This won’t be a fun discussion, will it?

More secrets, huh? What do I need to know about this time?

Itsuki, as you know…

Yeah, you said that. So why aren’t we opening the door to the Ophiuchus Labyrinth? If I beat the 13th Phantom, then your world will be fine and Mahiru and me can finally go back to ours.

Itsuki, the 13th Phantom… It’s unlike any of the Impurity Gods you’ve faced.

That sounds a lot less ominous than you think it does. The other Impurity Gods have been… underwhelming as of late. You should have seen the one we just beat.

…Please stop dragging this out. Just tell me what you’re hiding.

According to the ancient texts… the 13th Phantom cannot be defeated.


Is that new information? I was under the assumption that we were going to seal it again and things would be cool for another 1,200 years or whatever.

But the texts do say how it can be sealed.

I’m sorry, but defeating it and sealing it are the same thing to me. I want to get Mahiru back home. So just let me go enshrine the offering and… Wait. Now that I think about it, where is the Star Offering for this labyrinth?

Is Alfie not able to make one of those? …Who am I kidding, this story wasn’t rewritten to account for her. She barely exists as a character as it is.

How do we make that?

The Grand Star Offering refers to the God’s Gift who bears all 12 Star Brands.

Ohhhhhh… This is about to turn in to Persona 3, isn’t it?

That, Itsuki… is you.

…W-Wait… what are… What do you mean? Do I have to make it, or…

Story time!

A few thousand years ago…

Are you kidding me? The 12 Star Maidens from thousands of years ago just happen to look exactly like the current batch? Also, there are only 8 Star Maidens in that CG plus 2 ghost hands near the bottom.

The 13th Phantom and 12 Star Maidens are said to be bound like light and shadow. Since it’s conception, the 13th Phantom sought destruction of this world. Thus, it wreaked havoc everywhere it went.

Spooky. Also a little goofy.

But 2,400 years ago… The Great Mage built the Ophiuchus Labyrinth to seal away the 13th Phantom. During that sealing process…

But ever since it was sealed by the Grand Star Offering… the 13th Phantom began absorbing Impurities from the people of this world.

Okay, so Star God wasn’t responsible for the “sex makes monsters” thing. Maybe? The 13th Phantom was created by Universal Law, so does that mean the universe just popped it out, or did Star God create it himself? I’m just going to assume the latter, because Star God is an asshole.

It has been gathering its strength to break the seal and one day revive itself.

In other words, the 13th Phantom is responsible for producing these Impurities. Simply put… If the 13th Phantom vanishes, the Impurities will vanish as well. When that happens, Granvania will forever be at peace… But that was not possible back then.

That is why the Great Mage built the Stardust Labyrinths. The Impurities were sealed within them to be absorbed by the Star Offerings. The Great Mage attempted to stop the 13th Phantom.

The 13th Phantom has been absorbing Impurities for over 1,200 years.

And with the Star Chaos occurring once every 1,200 years… This means the cycle of the 13th Phantom’s absorption will soon end… and it will devour the Grand Star Offering of God’s Gift. The Star Chaos will force God’s Gift himself to become an offering.

So… then what happens when God’s Gift becomes the offering?

Then… The Impurities will vanish along with the 13th Phantom. That is why… the next Grand Star Offering must be made to create the next seal.

Do we really want to save this god forsaken planet? …I’m referring to Granvania.

This means Mahiru’s power is needed for the sealing ceremony… Mahiru’s true mission is to create the Grand Star Offering.

So basically, a God’s Gift needs to create the Grand Star Offering using a God’s Gift as the material. I guess this is why Star God nabbed two people from Earth this time instead of one.

I promise you… With the 13th Phantom sealed, I will personally ensure Mahiru returns to Sora.

…So the only way to save the world is by sacrificing myself? There’s no other way…?

Take as much time as you need to decide.

It’s not much of a decision. Itsuki (and Mahiru) can’t go back to Sora unless this is done and if he doesn’t do it, then he dies in this world. All roads lead to death.

In the meantime… You can defeat the other Impurity Gods to delay the revival of the 13th Phantom.

Already done. Mostly. There’s still that pesky Pisces Impurity God hanging around, but it’ll be dealt with soon enough.

Until then, keep this information to yourself. Swear to the Star God…

*The screen turns white here for a second for some reason*

…Fine. Whatever…

Tell me the moment you’ve decided.

~Inn: Itsuki’s Room~

You don’t look too happy… What did you all talk about?

*The scene fades out there. When it fades back in, it’s dark in Itsuki’s room*

…It’s morning… I barely slept…

Oh, you’re awake?

…Hey, Mahiru. You look pretty excited…

Whatever. More importantly, we’re ending this today.

Oh come on, Mahiru. Now is not the time for this crap.

What are you talking about?

What else but the rumor hunt?

~Granvania Shopping Center~

What do we even have left to investigate? I thought we followed up on everything.

*Mahiru wanders across the screen slightly*

Hey, where are you going? The academy is that way.

I think this is another grammar/translation fuckup. It should be “We’re not going to the academy field.” We’ll see in a little bit that Narc isn’t at the field or the academy.


We’ll be getting to the bottom of that underground room. Why is the academy exposing students to danger? We’ll get him to tell us.

That’s a ballsy move, Mahiru. Just going to call him out face to face like that?

We can’t just go home and leave things as they are.

Mirei told us not to get involved. She’s investigating it for us.

We can’t keep sitting on our hands.

Doubtful. Mirei doesn’t seem to have much allegiance to the country. She just cares about research.

You can’t be serious.

~Palace Laboratory~

We wanted to ask you something.

You could have done so in class.

That would have been the smarter move, honestly. Going straight into the lion’s den isn’t the option I would have gone for. Also, this is why I mentioned that I think there’s a grammar fuckup. We most certainly did not go to the academy field.

That would have been fine with us, but maybe not for you.

What is that supposed to mean?

This is about the underground room.

We found the hidden door in the headmaster’s room.

So… you two went in there again?

You’re busted, Narc. Just give it up.

How did you get past Mirei’s Star Energy?

Because of awesome God’s Gif—

I see… So, she’s on your side now…

What the fuck, Mahiru?! Way to fucking sell out Mirei like that after she helped you! Jesus, what the hell is wrong with you? All you had to say was “I guess our God’s Gift powers are stronger than anything you can come up with.” He sure as hell doesn’t know if that’s true or not. I doubt the true extent of God’s Gift energy is understood, let alone a God’s Gift with all 12 Star Signs (which hasn’t happened for 1,200 years).

Why is that Star Energy Circle underneath the academy?

I can’t answer that.

Please stop stalling on this, Narc. I don’t want another fucking “Mahiru hunts rumors” event after this.

Is it another national secret?

Even though you made the headmaster’s room off-limits?

Was it you who opened the hidden door, Itsuki?

Who else could?

Oh, of course. Of course Shang is behind it. Man… I really wanted him to be cool.

I haven’t even opened it myself.

I call bullshit on this by the way. The rumor that led us to this in the first place was about how Narc would enter his office and disappear. The sliding wall door had one seal and the door behind it had another. Are you telling me that Narc would open up the wall door (which he presumably seals) and then just stand in between it and the other door?

I do not know what lies beyond. I only watched over it at the king’s command.

I don’t believe that at all.


Oh, hey Mirei. Mahiru totally ratted you out by the way.


Mirei, why did you unseal it?

Because you wouldn’t tell me the whole truth.

I haven’t hidden anything from you regarding this.

No, he’s lying…

Mirei, do you seriously believe him?

I’ve known him for many years. I can tell just by looking at him.

Here’s an idea. Let’s bring Ruka in to confirm that. She can supposedly tell when people are lying. I’m sure she can keep a secret. And if she can’t then I don’t particularly care anyway.

He isn’t lying about this. Besides, Mahiru, I told you not to get involved.

That didn’t solve anything.

But there’s been progress. I haven’t been twiddling my thumbs.

Mahiru is kind of terrible at investigation.

By the way, yes, Itsuki is still part of this scene. Well, insofar as him being present in the room anyway.

~Underneath Star God Academy~

And there was a Star Energy Circle here until recently. It was stealing the Star Energy from the students day after day.

Impossible… Those are forbidden.

That’s why I’m trying to find out what’s been going on. By getting to the bottom of this evil and finding evidence.

So what did you find out?

I used Star Search Energy that reacts to the Star Fragment and followed it. And today, I reached a conclusion. It isn’t mere coincidence you chose today to conduct this, Mahiru. This, too, is the will of the Star God.

Star God doesn’t will shit. Don’t go making it sound as though he does stuff.

Mirei, enough with the prologue. Tell us what you have discovered.

The other day, the Star Search Energy discovered a large Star Fragment.

Oh, please tell me this isn’t going where I think it’s going.

The Stardust Labyrinths?

I learned of it just this morning. It seems the Star Fragments are functioning as the 13th Star Offering.

Oh, okay. For a second there I thought we were going to find out that Shang has been feeding the 13th Phantom.

This is something that can be easily proven by going into the labyrinths. I’ll leave the Star Fragments to you, Itsuki. Get to the bottom of this.

So then, Narcisstes isn’t the culprit here?

Dun-dun-duuuu—Nah, we figured out this part in the last scene.

Your Majesty!

So the day has finally come. The hidden door was made to only respond to my Star Brand.

Well, that’s what you get for NOT USING A GODDAMN DEADBOLT!

Mirei, did you destroy the Star Energy circle?

Yes, of course. The only ones who can create or destroy such artifacts are my people. Your Majesty, I would ask for an explanation…

But the Impurities in the labyrinths are consuming the Star Offerings, right?

It wasn’t a problem in ancient times. However, just 100 years ago… The power of the Impurities within the labyrinths began gradually increasing.

You havin’ fun back there, Itsuki? Don’t worry, you’ll get a line at some point in this scene, I’m sure.

20 years passed… It became difficult to seal the Impurities with the 12 Star Offerings alone. Looking at it now, it was all due to the Star Chaos.

But Your Majesty, there is no record of this anywhere.

That truth had been discovered by the palace mage at the time…


I was afraid our people would fall into confusion if they heard of this. So I searched for a way to avoid this danger with your grandfather, Mirei.

That crystallized power… is what became the Star Fragments. We needed massive amounts of Star Energy for the Star Fragments to function. This academy was founded to collect that Star Energy.

So you built this place just to steal energy from students?

Hey! There’s Itsuki! Welcome back to the story.

Mirei, your grandfather was a great man. Compared to the Star Offerings, the Star Fragments’ power is extremely weak. However, as he expected, the Star Fragments are still working well to this day. It’s thanks to his efforts that we haven’t been overrun by Impurities.

Mirei and her family play a weirdly important role in the story. Given the general absence of all the other Maidens, I’m wondering if her background was originally part of an NPC and SC just decided to combine it with Mirei at some point during development. It’s weird to me that out of the 12 Star Maidens, only Mahiru and Mirei seem to have any connection to the main plot.

I am forever grateful to him.

There was no other way. The country would have fallen into ruin otherwise.

See, I want to tell Shang to fuck off with that because I’m angry at him for being the “villain” of the story since I wanted him to be cool. On the other hand… he’s right. As despicable as what he did was, it was a necessary evil.

Now, there is an argument to be made for him handling this in a better way. I think looking to the citizens to donate Star Energy would have been a more ethical arrangement. Their lives would be on the line after all.

What do you mean there was no other way?


Wh-What are you saying? Are you crazy?!

Star Fragments take 15 years to make and 15 years to be expended. That 15-year period is about to end. The Star Fragments’ power is gone. We need new Star Fragments.

Why? What would that accomplish at this point? The Star Fragments aren’t going to stop the 13th Phantom.

Mirei, you aren’t seriously considering this, are you?

The students’ Star Energy will not wane that easily. The effect isn’t immediate. Mirei, this is a command. Create the Star Energy circle.

Mirei, this is an order from your king. If you do not obey, it is treason.

Pretty sure the treason ship already set sail with Shang at the wheel. He was betraying the trust of the citizens by secretly draining their life force without consent.

I don’t know what to do. Itsuki, what do you think? What should I do?

I think it’s obvious.

Itsuki, tell me…

I don’t know what everyone else thinks about this. But as far as what I think… Shangri-La? You’re wrong. I won’t stand for this.

Narcisstes, call the guards. Those who disobey the king are guilty of treason.



I keep gaining greater respect for Mirei. I probably would be rethinking my vote right now… but I may have kind of cast it already.

Mirei, what are you saying?

There is no other way. Only your people can create the Star Energy circles.

You won’t force her to do it, Shangri-La. I won’t let you.


If you do this, then consider my mission over.

If you do that, you’ll never be able to return home.

Itsuki finally starts to become cool. Wake would be proud of a response like that.

Itsuki, do you intend to bargain with me?

I’m not bargaining. There’s only two options here. If you give up on restoring the circle, then I’ll keep carrying out my mission. When I complete it, the circle won’t even be needed anymore.

There is no guarantee of what you say.

You really don’t have a choice, Shang. There’s jack shit you can use as leverage against Itsuki. You can’t exactly lay your hands on the Star Maidens, since they are critical to saving the world.

It’s up to you. If you want me to do my best, then you have to back off. If you force Mirei to restore the circle, then Granvania will be destroyed.

Unfortunately, the Itsuki dialogue you’re seeing now is from my mind. Official Itsuki stops being a badass right after that “Granvania will come to ruin” moment. Official Itsuki basically begs and pleads for Shang not to do go through with this. I took some liberties to make LP Itsuki less of a candy-ass.

… …Fine. However, I will set a time limit.

Our deal will be null and void.

Shang is really misunderstanding the situation here. Setting a time limit is pointless. Either Itsuki seals the 13th Phantom or the world is destroyed. There is no third option anymore. There’s been no indication that the Star Fragments are capable of stopping its revival at this late of a stage. The Ophiuchus Labyrinth has already spawned. Buying yourself another year or two won’t change anything.

Fine. Then I’ll just finish my mission before that happens.

Narcisstes, guards will not be necessary. Mirei, return to your duty.


Oh, and… It seems you have been investigating the Seven Academy Wonders. I’ll tell you about one of them now. I truly am 120 years old.

Wait, really?

Oh screw you, Conception. The Star Maidens don’t age for 120 years, which is understandable since they need to be around to maintain their Star Offering until it runs out of gas. But what possible reason could there be for Star God to slow down aging for God’s Gifts? They go home when their job is done, which takes a few years at most. I mean, I assumed Shang had some kind of age thing going on, but I thought it was some secret magic/medical deal (like he was using the Star Fragments or something).

Also, any guesses as to Shang’s age now that we know this? He’s been here for 100 years, which at 1/3rd rate means he’s aged 33 years. If he was Itsuki’s age when he had his turn as God’s Gift, then that means he’s about 49 or 50. That looks about right, although personally I think he looks a bit closer to mid 50’s than early 50’s/late 40's.

I will take my leave now.

*And Shang wanders out of frame*

Itsuki, Mahiru. This goes without saying, but this…

Is a national secret. Yeah, yeah. We know.

But if the Star Energy Circle is restored, we can’t just keep quiet.

Don’t misunderstand.

Narcisstes, don’t treat them like children. They know all of that. I shall take my leave back to my research. See you later.

*And then Mirei leaves*

She went back to normal so fast! Mirei is a mystery herself…

Narcisstes. I want to ask for a favor.

What is it?

~Star God Academy Hallway~

Yeah, but why are you?

You followed us here, didn’t you?

So you knew, huh.

The safe bet is to just assume that you are always lurking somewhere within our vicinity, unfortunately.

I’m sorry, Itsuki. I was told to watch over you. That’s just part of my job.

Yeah, I know.

It sounds like the king is aware of everything you’ve been up to till now. Is that okay? You haven’t done anything weird, right?

No, Mahiru. I haven’t.

Grr… Sh-Shut up! Not another word!

But I want closure on that! Let me beat the crap out of that dude! Just a little bit!

What are you two talking about?

Nothing. Never mind.

You don’t need to worry about that.

Are you two sharing a secret now…? How lewd.

I hate you so much. The anime has only reinforced that hatred.

Jealousy is unbecoming of you, Mahiru.

But don’t you already have a relationship like that with someone else, Mana?

What are you on about now?

Listening to what you’ve said, I think I have a theory…

What are you getting at?

What the great detective Mahiru thinks is…

…Did we not already figure that out? I could have sworn that we figured that out.

Well? Am I right?

Yes, I owe my life to Shangri-La. As such, I’ll do whatever I can for him.

Listen, I’m going to head to the classroom. Are you going to come along?

What are you going there for?

I need to tell everyone something. I want them all to listen.

~Star God Academy Classroom~

Each Star Maiden should now proceed with their preparations.

”Except for Alfie.”

Could I have everyone’s attention? …I want to seal the 13th Phantom as soon as possible. For the children… for you… for everyone.


Narc actually slides out of frame after this ellipses, as if he can sense that Itsuki has a big spotlight moment coming.

So please, help me. I need powerful Star Children in order to make this work.

Not as cool as you think it is, game. You’ve got to work harder than this to make the “All choices are the same” moment deliver a good punch. You have not worked hard enough.

Let’s make great Star Children!

What are you talking about, Itsuki? We were going to help anyway.

It’ll make sense in a bit, trust me. Incidentally, you may want to start checking out some dating sites. Just saying.

Itsuki, you’re acting weird…

Mahiru, what’s with Itsuki?

~Inn: Itsuki’s Room~

I’m so tired…

What do you mean by that?

To be honest, I couldn’t sense if you felt any duty to your mission. Especially since the Ophiuchus Labyrinth appeared.

Well… I wasn’t really fully aware of what my duty was until now. …Mana? Would you sacrifice your own life for someone else? Like the king?

Wait, you died? Is that how you got “tamed”?

I see. …Would you be sad if I died?

Don’t say things like that! How can you die when you’ve defeated so many Impurity Gods already?

Please, Conception, stop. I beg you. For the love of all that is holy, do not try and emotionally connect the audience with Mana. It’s not going to work. It’s far too late to redeem her as a character.

Actually, you know what?! How dare you say that, even if it’s a stupid joke! You’re such a dumbass!

Right. Sorry.

Itsuki, are you worried?

I’d personally choose death, but that’s just me.

I promise I’ll return you to Sora, Itsuki.

…Thanks, Mana.

…Are you crying?

Of course not. I’m the hero, remember? I’m going to save the world. I’ll protect everyone… and I’ll go back home.

Itsuki, you’ve really matured.

I’m not so sure about that. It’s just that no-one else has given up yet, so neither should I.

In that case, I’ll need to return soon. Or do you need some more comforting?

I’ll be fine. I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?

Yes… Good night, Itsuki.


*The screen is currently black*

Itsuki… Itsuki, wake up!

Once you’re ready, head to the Ophiuchus Labyrinth.

Got it.

The game gives us a chance to save and go through the menu at this point. Saving is a good idea, but fiddling with your Star Child teams and items isn’t important. We’re not hitting any point of no return.

~Granvania Shopping Center~

Oh right, Itsuki.

Before you head to the labyrinth, how about you talk to them? They’re still in the classroom. I’ll go on ahead to the labyrinth.

We’re finally free! For a moment, anyway. At this point, our task is to go to the academy and say our coded farewells words of encouragement to the Star Maidens. The Church is unavailable, so it’s best to just get this out of the way now. As I mentioned, there isn’t a point of no return here, so just keep plowing through this story content and eventually you’ll get your usual freedom back. We’ll check the “Unraveling” events and finish up this section of story in the next update.