Part 34: Holes to Heights (1)
Last time, we pulled our first Needle after a fearful trek through the Chimera Lab, and Kumatora rejoined us. Now we're gonna do whatever.
In the area with the Needle are these Magic Gloves, a nice weapon upgrade for Kumatora that also boosts max PP a bit.
Salsa and his girlfriend will hang around here from this point. He won't be a party member anymore, but at least he'll give you Nuts.
Anyway, as we try to leave...
(Whoa, whoa, whoa! Hold it right there! Just where do you think YOU'RE goin'?!)
Meet The Squeekz.
He's not as tough and cool as he looks.
You know what's really cool? Teamwork. And also abstinence.
(I humbly apologize for my rude, egotistical attitude, despite being so weak. Back on the highway, I was known as the hippest cat around, but now I'm just a pathetic excuse of a mouse. All the girls dug me, but I'm definitely no fighter. But you helped me remember who I really am.)
(Whoa, I'm suddenly feelin' homesick now! I'm goin' back... Yeah, I'm goin' back. Anyway, dude! I'm headin' back home now, but watch out for them mole crickets if you keep goin' east. Again, so sorry!)
At least this story has a happy ending. And people say no good can come from violence! Those people clearly need a baseball bat in the face.
Oh yeah, something big may have escaped out of the Chimera Lab.
At this point, there are some monsters in there. I didn't catch a battle with the Security Robot, but you can imagine what it does. Here's what it looks like.
Regular Pigmasks are enemies here, but at this stage you're so powerful that they'll run away from you given the chance.
There's also Pigmask Captains, who are slightly less cowardly. They'll fire beams and kick you and stuff, nothing we haven't seen before.
Here's something we may not have seen before, PK Freeze Beta.
And here's something I know we haven't seen before, PK Love Beta.
And I couldn't help but capture this. Managed to trigger the elevator before the Pigmask caught me, so he decided to jog in place instead. He's not going to go up the ranks with that sort of attitude!
Anyway, on the third floor is this weird fella. We have to go in from the back elevator to reach him, though.
This guy's kinda gimmicky. He's pretty weak, but he's immune to PSI and inflicts status effects.
Yeah, I don't want to know what sort of pose that was.
Zombidillos meanwhile roam in the basement of the lab.
They roll for mediocre damage and are otherwise forgettable for also being weak.
At least while exploring, Kumatora picks up Paralysis Omega, which affects all enemies. It'd be more nifty if it weren't so expensive at 24PP, and if bosses were vulnerable to anything besides crying and occasionally Wall Staples.
Anyway, that's all done. Let's continue on to...well, whatever we're supposed to be doing.
Oh, right, our current mission is to be interrupted by a mole cricket.
I think we can do this part before Chimera Lab, actually, but I didn't bother doing it because I might as well wait until I have Kumatora already.
So you kept true to your promise and finally came to the Mole Cricket Hole, huh?! It's me! It's me! Don't you recognize me?! I'm the mole cricket you fought at Alec's place when you were play-fighting with the Dragos as a little kid!
Yeah, remember that weak and pathetic mole cricket we utterly wiped the floor with in the first update, the one who pretty much served as a tutorial for the battle system? He's back, and he's out for revenge.
Also, he's one of the few animals that actually talks. In this world, dogs and cows and pigs have to communicate telepathically, but mole crickets have vocal cords and have no problem speaking the same language as humans. I'll buy it.
I've been training for this day all these years! Okay, let's go! The time to battle has come! Follow me!
This is where you and me are gonna fight it out. This is where my right hand'll be raised into the air when I'm declared the winner. And this is also where you're gonna hit the ground with a thud.
So now we've got to climb down this hole to engage in our rematch.
So, the Mole Cricket Hole.
This place is Earthbound as upchuck, between the purple pathways, the trippy music, and the most obtuse objects blocking your path.
We're exceptionally proud.
We kinda can't explore at the moment due to these lotus roots, so let's get this beatdown over with.
I've asked him to be the judge for our match today. If you try to run away or do anything cheap, neither of us'll sit by quietly... Just so you know. Anyways, I've got special rules for our match. If, by some chance, an outcome isn't reached after 10 minutes have passed, we'll go to overtime, which'll last five more minutes. And if a conclusion still isn't reached after that, our elder'll decide who the winner is. Elder. Is there anything you'd like to add?
Take my advice. Sometimes, the bravest thing to do is run away. ...But you insist on it? In that case, I won't stop you.
On second thought, I'm scared and I really have to save the world and I'm not ready for this and oh god hold on a minute-
And so our inevitable rematch with our most fearsome rival, some Mole Cricket, begins in earnest!
Maybe too earnest.
The Mole Cricket has trained significantly in that his speed is now 255 while all his other stats are the exact same. This is so the Mole Cricket has a chance to prove how weak he is before you wipe the floor with him.
Even got some sweet EXP from that fight.
To think that such a mighty mole cricket warrior could be so easily defeated... Perhaps mole crickets aren't so powerful after all... I'll meditate on what else this means at a later time. But, for now, the match is over. I suppose the traditional thing to do now is be on good terms with you.
Actually, yeah. Do you know where the Needles sealing away the Dark Dragon are? We're looking for them.
We mole crickets aren't very knowledgeable creatures. But, call it a hunch, I think there could be a clue to these mysterious objects on the mountain on the far end of this mole cricket hole. I figure that's what the elder wants to say, too. He's hard to read sometimes, though.
Yes. I agree. The mountain! Go through this mole cricket hole and head up the mountain! I'm certain that's what you must do!
The mountain, huh... We don't have any other leads to follow up on, so let's check it out. Oh, hey. You guys don't know anything about the Dark Dragon itself, do you?
Sadly, we don't. We really are just mole crickets. Even though he's our elder, he's still just a mole cricket, too. We have no real strength at all... It's a pity. The very least we can do...
Wow... A dragon... I bet it's really incredible...
It must be incredible, indeed. I've learned so much today. A dragon that sleeps underground, needles that seal it away, us being surprisingly weak... Living a long life is worth it. Do you suppose you could tell us mole crickets about even more things?
The Mole Crickets are one of the better video game races I've encountered, so sure.
Thanks. We'll try not to be too much of a bother, so please raise us to be great. To start off, I'm thinking of starting a business in our own unique, mole cricket way. Please stop by if you ever happen to see us!
Oh yeah. If you're gonna go through this mole cricket hole, you should take my little bro with you. He's little, but he's a tough one. You can treat him just like any other item. Hey! Little bro! C'mere!
If you get lost in this mole cricket hole, just ask my little bro for help and he'll bring you straight back here. Right, little bro? ...C'mon, bro! Get your act together! The bad news is he's kinda lame and hates the sunlight more than anything else in the world. So be careful. You can't take him with you outside the mole cricket hole. ...Right, little bro?!
You can always pick the guy back up at this mole cricket should you wish. And you may wish to.
First, let's check this area out. We can now get rid of these lotus roots in a most gruesome way.
Only the most honest of the honest make these Sincerity Dumplings!
The Mole Cricket Hole's famous Sincerity Dumplings! Whether they sell or not, I make them every day and set them out so I can practice conducting business.
Sure, you can get Hot Spring Eggs for free that heal the same amount, but they're certainly not as sincere as these dumplings.
This map is indeed unbelievably accurate yet utterly unhelpful. There are four levels to this place, which makes navigation even more fun.
That's the trick to getting through this mole cricket hole.
I don't know, it's kind of amusing having this ridiculous, miserable labyrinth of a maze to navigate and being told you pretty much have to do the old "turn left/right every chance you get" thing to realistically escape.
In the meantime, there's lots of mole crickets to talk to, so...
*mumble* *mumble* *murmur*... What wonderful times!
After meeting you guys, the elder's suddenly full of life and enthusiastically asleep.
We are Mr. Mole Crickets. We dig holes and live in them, but we're very humble.
Lotus root-things are yum. Even their holes are yum.
This mole cricket hole is reallllly big, you know. You're gonna get bored fast if you don't do pointless chit-chat with us.
Mole crickets know everything. Just about everything ever. Like how to dig holes and how to win fights.
If you say yes...
Thank you! I'm so happy you believed me! I'll work hard to save your game juuuust right!
And he'll save your game for you. And if you say no...
Yeah... You're right. Only frogs can save games... Anything else is just a cheap imitation. I guess that's one way to think about it... It's not much, but I feel a little rejected.
You want to get to what's on the other end of this mole cricket hole? Everything over there is mysterious for some reason. I'm not brave at all, so I'm too scared to go.
If there's a turn, turn. Even if you don't want to. Do that, and you'll eventually reach the other end of this mole cricket hole. Have faith in yourself, and proceed NOT straight ahead! Time for another song!
It's a twisty, turny road
but it's not the path I chose
But don't complain, just grin and bear it
as you go down that twisty, turny road
It's not the path I chose
Who did choose it, I wonder
Whenever there's a turn, be SURE you turn! No matter what happens, turn at every turn! Do that, and you'll never get lost!
It's so rare to meet non-mole crickets. Could you let me bite you real quick? If not, could you let me lick you instead? No? Oh, well.
You went out of your way to come talk to me? Even when you could've lost your way? You make me so happy I wanna cry...
Some mole crickets have been digging some really deep holes in that area. Could they be any MORE inconsiderate?! We moles've been digging holes here for a long time now, so they should've at least gone through the proper channels first. *mumble* *mumble*... Oh, I'm sorry.
Other than the mole crickets (I'm sure I probably missed a couple but like hell I'm gonna explore every inch of this damned place) there is really nothing exciting to show. It's a huge maze of purple pathways leading to roots that lead to more levels that lead to dead ends that lead you back to where you were to lead you down more paths that lead you down to more dead ends that lead you back to where you were that lead you into insanity.
So screw all that here's the damn exit. So what's at the other side?
Next time, we explore the mountain and hopefully find the next Needle!