The Let's Play Archive

Shadow Hearts

by The Dark Id

Part 17: Episode XVII: Quack Back

Episode XVII: Quack Back

Music: Sea - Highnoon Fish

<notices the party> Wha...!? You people are...!!
Well, I never! Aren’t you rude, then? You can’t just come barging in, yelling and flailing about!
Nah, it's cool. Alice was gonna die of old age before the curse at the rate that story was going.
You were warned, boy.
Not strongly enough!

Now you look at me like you’ve seen a ghost! Have we met before?
<shrugs> Uh, n-n-no, no! Not at all!! I… I just, uh, didn’t expect to see such a beauty in a place like this. M-my apologies. Heh heh, heh heh heh…

The door creaks open and Zhuzhen shuffles into the scene.

Music: Asian Parfait

<stands up> Y-you?! It's the quack oracle!

Cowardly Chen looks the party over one last time and dashes full speed out the door. Nothing suspicious there.

It's been like two days, pops.
Yeah, well... I've been to four villages in that time and sorted out a hex, a poltergeist, and one demon badger. Also, there was a false alarm odor curse that turned out to be the mayor's son not having bathed for six weeks. That was the worst of the lot... It's easy to lose track of time when you're that busy.
Yeah, well. Lotta that going around lately.
Busy few days for both of us, eh?

<turns to Margarete> Hmm? And who’s this? Someone from the railroad company?
I’m Margarete. I’m a high-ranking government official from a certain large country. Sigh… Another shady-looking old fellow. So, who are you?
<steps forward> Master Zhuzhen! Thank you for coming! We’ve been expecting you.
Sorry to keep you waiting. Some idiot blew up the train depot, and the trains aren’t running.

And I'd have chartered a flight, but the airfield was on lockdown. Seems terrorists broke onto the base and caused some kinda ruckus there too.

<notices Alice>

Zhuzhen walks up to Alice and kneels to check on her.

…Whew. That’s a mighty powerful curse she’s under.
You couldn't get a pillow or a blanket for the poor girl? You just tossed her in a heap on the floor like a ragdoll?
Look, gramps. Trust me, that's her preference for getting rest.
If you say so, kid. This curse is dire...

…But you needn’t worry anymore.
<walks up to Zhuzhen> My arts are as good as useless against it. More than ten have died so far…

Zhuzhen stands back up.

It’s the man pulling the strings… It’s “him”.
What do you mean?! You… you know why Li Li came back?!
<nods> Oh, I have a pretty good idea. I’m starting to see who might be behind all this.
Oh…! It’s… Zhuzhen…

Li Li… is in… pain, too. S-somebody… forced her… to come back…
Yes, yes… I know. I know exactly who it is, and what he’s up to.
Now's not the time for a monologue filling everyone in. We've got to take care of that curse first, OK?
You just take it easy and get some rest. I assure you, it’ll all be over by tomorrow morning. Okay?
Yes… Th-thank… you… <passes out again>

Zhuzhen stands back up and walks over to Yuri and Margarete.

Our first task is to rid this town of its ghosts! What do you say? Are you with me? What d’ya say? You want to tag along?
<nods> If that’ll save Alice? You’d better believe it!!
Been itching to punch a ghost since I got here.
<nods> Same here!
Less punching, though... Can you even punch a ghost...?
Oh, absolutely. Yuri's fists should be a big help.
Huh... OK, second question: Can you SHOOT a ghost...?
Sure. Crack them over the head with a stick, set them on fire, you name it. Ghosts being some incorporeal being is an old wives' tale.
Good to know.

<starts pacing> Okay, let’s strike while the iron’s hot! Good. Let’s get cracking then. First, we’ve got to find the place they’re all getting in from. My guess would be somewhere down by the water. There’s sure to be a mark at the spot where they enter. …We need to destroy it.
You can walk end-to-end of this town in under a minute. It shouldn't be hard to find.
Monsters are everywhere outside. Be careful…
They've been randomly battling anyone who dares step more than a few feet outside at night.
I shall look after the girl.
<nods> Right! We’ll leave her to you. Don’t worry, it won’t take long.
<to Yuri and Margarete> All right, let’s get going.

Meanwhile, back in Fengtian...

Music: Army Mood

Yes. The man and the woman have set out to destroy the monsters that’ve been appearing in town. That’s how they’re going to break the spell on the girl. At least, that’s what they said.
I ran here as quickly as possible to inform you.
Excelle—wait... Excuse me, did you just say you ran here?
Yes, ma'am. Fast as I could!
From Dalian?
As you ordered.
The 400 kilometer away Dalian port village? That Dalian?
I ran track back in my school days.
...I see. Commendable. But, this report...

So the other two must be the thin young man and Malkovich… Very well. The beast is caught in its trap! ...Yes, we must proceed with caution…
E-excuse me…
Sending in brute strength may not be the best way… In which case… …Perhaps I’d better do this myself.
E-excuse me, Lt. Colonel… I was wondering, heh heh, that is, if you don’t need me anymore…
I'd like to go get some rest is all... That jog really took it out of me.
<turns to Chen> Yes, yes. You may go. Get your money before you leave. And one more thing. You must not breathe a word of this to anyone. Have you got that?
<nods> Huh? Oh, of course! Honestly, I’ve got a terrible memory. I’ve already forgotten the whole thing…

Cowardly Chen jogs out of the room.

Somebody! At once!
Yes, Lt. Colonel!

Three soldiers dash into the office. One is not like the others... Once you receive a character portrait military outfits are legally obligated to let you wear whatever you please.

That chin...
I’m sorry, but could you leave the self-introductions for later? We don’t have time for this now.
<turns to the generic grunts> I want you two to dispose of the man who just left this room. Make it look like a traffic accident.
<stands at attention> Yes, Lt. Colonel!

The two generic soldiers run from the room to carry out their assassination orders.

Sergeant Kato, you’re coming to Dalian with me. Get a boat ready.
A… boat, ma’am?
A boat. You know how to operate one, I presume.
I've had some rudimentary training, but not—
That's better than most here. Get the boat.

I don’t care what kind. Any old thing will do. Do you understand? If so, we leave now. Follow me! <walks out of the room>
Ah! Lt. Colonel! Please, wait! <runs after her>

Back in Dalian...

Music: Sea - Highnoon Fish

And we're finally back to being able to play the game. Alice is out of commission until further notice and Zhuzhen has taken her place. They're nice enough to level him up to roughly the same range as the rest of the party. The game will not always be this nice about characters who fall by the wayside for an extended duration.

With our healer Alice out of the picture for a while, we're going to stop by the store and stock up on some Thera Leaves since we'll need to rely on consumables until we fix her curse. I also "forgot" to equip Alice with those new accessories we purchased. So Zhuzhen can slip those on in her stead. Alice is a nice girl. I'm sure she won't mind.

While we're at it, we can also run back over to the apparently 24-hour Underground Weapon Shop and pick up Zhuzhen's new Hexagonal Staff. This upgrade grants +8 Physical and +11 Special Attack. After all, it's PERFECT for the adventuring clergyman!

Anyway, let's get to it! Random battles now occur in the streets of Dalian. Though nothing we haven't seen yet... kinda...

Music: Brain Hopper

There are only two mobs haunting the streets of Dalian. Neither of which are ghosts, despite the Ghost Troubles afoot. And only one of them is a "new" enemy – the Water Creepers which are a random battle version of the Kappa mid-bosses we fought back in Fengtian's sewers. Beyond the palette swap, the only notable difference they possess is having only 55 HP (versus the Kappa's 100), no healing ability and being Wind elemental instead of Water. Any single one of our current party can kill a Water Creeper in a single combo.

Water Creepers Japanese name was Isora (Seashore) and is derived from Azumi-no-Isora a minor Shinto god of the seashore. Couldn't find much information on 'em other than they're kinda gross and slimy. The above is Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne's interpretation of one which is... just an angry stingray. Shadow Heart's palette-swapped Kappa seems closer a take.

Other than the Water Creepers, Frog Gods have also made the trip from the Fengtian Sewers to Dalian port. Normally, I wouldn't comment on a returning enemy. But this is a special case. These are the only two mobs in the area – a trio of Water Creepers and a trio of Frog Gods. Frog Gods seem like they're the more common of the two.

Margarete's Grenade skill will wipe out the entire Frog God mob in a single turn. Zhuzhen's Ogre Flamedance can do the same as well, though he is significantly slower than Margarete so he'll likely not get the chance unless she runs out of MP. In other words, these guys are extremely easy to grind.

Music: Results

These fellas give very little EXP at only around 150 a battle. So, they're not good for leveling up. What the Frog Gods ARE good for is the fact they're Light elemental for... some reason. A fight that lasts all of 20 seconds yields +3 Light Soul Energy. There is no more efficient area in the early game to quickly level up Light Soul Energy. It's like a 12-minute grind, tops. So, we're gonna go ahead and do that real quick.

And while these enemies provide minimal EXP (we wouldn't want to power level while Alice is half-dead) they will fork out enough experience to likely level up Zhuzhen, who rejoins the party quite close to Level 12. At Level 12 Zhuzhen learns Nourishing Potion – a spell which causes mild healing and cures paralysis. Always good to have a backup healing spell, especially when our White Mage is taking a vacation. Not that Zhuzhen is going to be replacing Alice anytime soon. Nourishing Potion costs a hefty 35 MP which limits its applications. Plus, Zhuzhen is the slowest party member and that ain't great for a healer. But hey, it's better than nothing!

Once Yuri's Light Soul Level has reached its next level, we can take a quick break and hop into the Graveyard at the town square save point to go claim our prize.

Music: Graveyard Moon

Sure enough, another one of the gravestones has lit up with energy. If we go take a closer look...

Music: Brain Hopper

Our Fusion monster challenger for today is Heaven's Fiend. Someone forgot to give this poor lad some legs... Having wings doesn't compensate for a lack of legs. Nobody wants to fly EVERYWHERE to get around. That's incredibly inconvenient even to some weird angelic being.

In any case, Death Emperor, our Dark elemental Fusion, ought to be the one to take on its Light counterpart.

We'd not really had a need to mess with Death Emperor's Special Attacks thus far since its physical strikes made the donuts well enough. The Dark Elemental fusion's primary offensive spell is Dark Messenger, which just... kind has it vomit a bunch of gross smoke that seems highly unpleasant to get a face full of without notice. Certainly, Heaven's Fiend hates it.

Fun fact: in our opening fight with Fox Face, if Yuri survived long enough after his ghost dad transformed into Death Emperor, the fight will automatically end when he uses Dark Messenger since it does about 300 damage in that fight while Yuri was still a Level 1 baby.

Heaven's Fiend is not without abilities of its own. Exorcist Arrow is err... well an arrow of light. Pretty straightforward, really. The Light elemental attack that will peel off a good 35-40 HP off our Death Emperor. But Yuri is becoming an increasingly sturdy boy. He can take it.

We wanted to get our Dark Messenger licks in early because Heaven's Fiend can also produce a Wall of Resistance which adds a 15% Special Attack defense that lasts the rest of the battle. Not that 15% is a huge margin of damage reduction. Still...

To be on the safe side, we should probably just punch its lights out. Nothing beats the classics.

Defeating Heaven's Fiend grants us its soul and with it the Light Elemental Fusion. We're definitely gonna want this one in our stable in the future. Best to pick it up early.

Music: Graveyard Moon

You've received Soul of Heaven's Fiend!

Unlike our previous Fusions, Heaven's Fiend is more of a support type transformation. Its biggest boon is Sacred Remedy – a full party heal. There may be instances in the future where Yuri takes over as the designated healer for a time due to this ability. Stat wise, Heaven's Fiend provides:

While we're in the neighborhood, we may as well clear out our accumulated Malice. We'd made it to Red level Malice, just shy of Fox Face showing up. It's still a wee bit too early game for that to be a good idea.

Gonna be real, Yuri. I'm not a fan of your weird slug tail flailing in that form... Not a real fan of anything going on in that form, honestly. It's a weird, gross boy. Not into it.

Defeating Evil 4 again and clearing out Yuri's Malice this time nets a Seal of Luck to boost... well, take a wild guess. Morgagius sounds more like the god of mortgages than gambling. But I don't think there is a mortgage deity to my knowledge. That'd be the worst...

But enough about that, our side business in the Graveyard is concluded. Let's hop back into reality and continue on our way sorting out that whole bothersome curse business.

Music: Angel Heart

The Dalian inn has opened after Sea Mother's ghost story. So, any damages or depleted MP we racked up can quickly be remedied with an inexpensive 100 buck inn rest. Those Frog God battles had the secondary benefit of providing 650 Cash a pop. As such, we're pretty set on funding going forward for a decent stretch. So that's nice.

That quick grind kinda quadrupled the length of this whole Dalian nighttime event. In reality, all we had to do was walk one screen over to the docks where we began. We'd be hard pressed to run into more than a couple random battles along the way.

In the bottom left corner of the fenced off turtle area from earlier, Yuri can now rummage around in the grass to recover this little trinket. Between modern monitor refresh rates and playing on an emulator, my Judgement Ring timing is already on the cusp of classification as "kinda spotty" overall. Not really in the market for something that makes it spin faster...

Enough distractions! Let's reach the dock already. Nobody noticed this giant evil hell aura glyph emblaze at the water's edge? Nobody going out at night ain't an excuse. Sea Mother is in the building right there to the south. She could have looked out a damn window at some point in the last few weeks. Ridiculous...

Before we proceed any further, we're gonna go ahead a do a quick party shuffle. Everyone is going to hang out with Zhuzhen in the back row for a little while. No real reason. I just thought the old timer was getting lonely back there.

If we get rid of this, the monsters disappear, right?
Awright, let me at it!!
Kid, you don't know the first thing about how to get rid of this thing, do you?
<rubs neck> Well, I was thinking of...
Were you thinking of punching it?
<unconvinced glare>
That's not gonna help here. Stand back...

Zhuzhen performs some crazy kung-fu moves and apparently can now summon lightning now? Of all the characters in the party, the extent of Zhuzhen's powers is the most... vague. Just roll with it... Tune in next time as the gang sorts out the source of this ghost trouble. If you think it means fighting a husky-voiced ghost lady, you'd be very wrong...

Video: Episode 17 Highlight Reel

Sea Mother Portrait – You think the Cat Lady demon is sore Sea Mother got a proper character portrait and she didn't, despite sharing the same old lady model?