The Let's Play Archive

Shadow Hearts

by The Dark Id

Part 26: Episode XXVI: Meowster

Episode XVI: Meowster

Music: Blow Up

A new area has opened up to explore on the world map. That looks like a sizable hike from Shanghai. Especially, considering it was referred to as the Temple of Wuhan and the city of Wuhan is roughly in the same spot some 840 kilometers away. But ehh... details. Unlike past points in the game, we still return to Shanghai at any time. Not that there is much need to in our playthrough.

Speaking of which, we're now a Keeper! Dang... Would have been into being a Cockatrice. You know, I can't actually find a list of all the meaningless ranks. I mean, I can tell it's just all the random battle enemies and bosses that aren't also NPCs plus some of Yuri's Fusions. Still...

Oh well, no need to delay any further. Yuri doesn't have any Malice to clear and he's obtained all the Fusions he can at this point in the game. Let's head on into our destination.

New Music: Death - Zombie Party
(That's quite the track name. Also, you should probably listen to it.)

This is the Nine Courts of Xiyuan, the sanctuary of Wuhan and the apex of Nine Heavens Taoist Magic.
Wugui and his cronies aren’t here yet?
They woulda probably started monologuing or some dumb seal crap would be on the front door.
<looks around> I don’t see the Japanese Army around anywhere, either.
<give each other a glance>
Don’t things seem a little too quiet?
<waits a beat>
...See, I said that phrase, and no monsters immediately popped out. No traps sprung... Nothing! That's weird, right?
<concerned nod> It's kinda weird.

Kawashima and Kato Smuggler Boss and Courier Subordinate decide they're tired of waiting and walk on in. Welp, guess we may as well do the same...

Nice digs. Looks vaguely like a less than memorable fighting game arena. Maybe from the PS2 era Mortal Kombat games. Damn, remember when those trash fire games were the only 3D fighters holding any mainstream public interest at the time? Like even Tekken had shat the bed around that time with Tekken 4. Those were some dark days...

We need to inspect that shrine in the center of the room to continue. But before we do, there is another sneaky lottery ticket hidden behind this pillar. Is the secret lottery cabal hiding these tickets too or is there just a plague of pants with hole riddled pockets in Southeast Asia?

Ain't there supposed to be like bald chanting guys and kung fu matches going on in these places?
Knock it off with the stereotypes, kid. That's only on weekends.

Are you really sure this is the place? You didn’t get mixed up or something?
Give me a break. I haven’t gone that senile yet.
<looks around> To proceed from here, let’s see… Oh, right, I need to chant the unlocking rites.

Darn! I can’t seem to remember them! Hmm, how did it go…?
<laughs> Come on, don’t REALLY go senile on us!
Are you for real right now, old man...?
Hey, the last time I had to do this the lot of you kids were no more than a twinkle in your papa's eye. Give me a break...
Next time we're in Shanghai, I'm gonna ask that Zhen guy if you pulled this same senior moment routine with my dad.
...There's no need to dredge up the past.

Hey, kid. You guys can go look around for a bit while I try to remember the chant.
...G-go away! You're distracting me!

So, we need to give Zhuzhen some time. Let's swing around the left and see what the smugglers are up to outside. As well as hit up a Save Point if necessary.

Pfft... Those losers are slower than molasses. They didn't even get a chance to fire off a shot when we fought them at that airport.

By the way, I bought some items in Shanghai. Let me know when you need them. They're not free, of course. What kind of items do you need?
Show me what you've got.

The Courier Subordinate is now running the Kato Pachimon General Store. Kato, you're not supposed to be using your real name. Especially if you're scalping items to the people you're tricking into doing your dirty work for you. C'mon, guy... Anyway, Kato is selling mostly the same junk as the general store back in Shanghai. But he does have a few new accessories. Particularly, we're going to pick up one of these...

Who knew there was an entire crate full of teddy bears on the err... St. Mary ghost ship...? Never heard of that one. The Queen Mary wasn't a thing for another 20 years. Did you mean the Mary Celeste, Shadow Hearts? That was in 1872. Wait, the Mary Celeste... Why is that name bringing up bad memo—SHIT! Do you mean this Teddy Bear belonged to fucking Benjamin Spooner Briggs?!

Lost Captain of the Mary Celeste? The King Limbo himself!? That motherfucker!?

Ugh... I just gave myself a PTSD episode. In any case, we've run into multiple instances of Instant Death being an issue with enemies recently. This is the first point in the game we get anything to combat such issues. So, we'll go ahead and pick one up, even with its dubious origin... The game might throw two more our way for free during this segment.

We've probably given Zhuzhen enough time to tear through his memory recalling what the hell the password was to get into the temple's inner sanctum. Let's return to him.

<nods and steps back>
I'm gonna punch a hole in this thing if this doesn't work.
Kid do NOT punch holes in the sacred temple where I was trained!
No promises.

Zhuzhen glows with energy and performs a kata, which causes the shine to slide aside and a stairwell to reveal itself just as though he'd slotted the proper emblem in a Resident Evil puzzle.

"Musty aroma"? Yeesh! Is this where you stashed the bodies?
I find it quite nostalgic...
Sense of smell is failing alongside the memory, huh? That's sad...

So the real deal’s waiting for us inside, eh?
<nods> That’s right. Let’s go.

Down the stairs and... straight to a rickety ladder five steps in? Someone cheaped out on the construction job for the temple. Or they contracted the same architects that did the work on Lordran.

Oh well, let's just enter this ominous looking door on the far end. What's the worst that could happen?

<looks around> Enemies, perhaps?!
<shakes head> I doubt it...
Hey, Margarete you didn't set a buncha bombs again, right?
No. Not yet, at least...
Don't worry about that. Little in-joke, you know?

Music: Asian Parfait

What do you mean, “And”?! What kind of a response is that?! I am Master Xiaofang! I guard this temple. Nice to meet y’all.
Meeeow! You insult me! I’ll kill you!
And? You're not even the first cat kid this week to claim that and burn through all nine lives.
<laughs> Hey, there, Master Xiaofang. You’re speaking a whole lot more now, I see.

Xiaofang runs up to Zhuzhen and happily bounces excitedly.

Heh heh heh. We’ve come to see Master Xifa. So how is the old man, anyway?
24 in cat years!
...How is the old man. Not how old is he.
Whoops! My meowstake!
Is he going to keep doing these cat puns? Cuz...
Hush! It's adorable!
Cat puns...? Are you into that? Really?
They're purrfectly fine!

The meowster knew you’d all be here. He told me to welcome you. That’s why I’m here, meow.
<nods> Great. How about you take us to him right away, then. Using the shortcuts, of course.
No way, meow! You gotta follow the rules to get to Nirvana Palace!
<looks at the wall and shakes his head> Don’t be that way, Xiaofang! I’m sorry, but we just don’t have time to play the old man’s games right now. If we don’t hurry, Dehuai’s men or the Japanese Army will get here.
Some Japanese soldiers have been here already. They’re all dead now, meow! Meow!! I ain’t afraid of no soldiers!
Meow the police! They ain't got meow on me!
As happy-go-lucky as ever, eh? If you keep going like that, I may have to turn you back into a cat.
<jumps back>

You have to go through the Spiritual Trials before you can enter Nirvana Palace, meow.
Did you just say you would turn him back into a cat? As in you turned him into an annoying brat in the first place?
No! He's not allowed to do that! It's cheating!
<shrug> Sometimes you get bored with training and turn a cat into a boy. It happens.

Spiritual Trials?
They’re like little tests of nerve. They CAN get rather tricky, though.
No inverting controls, Xiaofang. That's just wrong to do to folks...
Here in the Nine Courts of Xiyuan, from the Samsara Pavilion further on in… There are three dungeons, called the Dan Tian Court, Jiang Palace, and Ni Wan Palace. Meowster Xifa’s Nirvana Palace is at the end of those dungeons! Only two people can challenge any given location. For the first dungeon, Dan Tian Court…
<looks over the party>

Xiaofang runs up and points to Yuri and Zhuzhen.

Hey now, kiddo! What’d you choose us for?
I’m the one doing the talking around here, meow!!

It's a very complicated system! You wouldn't understand it!
<leans over> It's because we were standing closest next to each other.
Meoooow! Don't reveal the temple secrets!

<trots in front of the party> All right, meow! Your trial begins!


Your Items have been sealed away by Master Xiaofang.

So, the Temple Ruins is the first proper full-length dungeon Shadow Hearts offers up. And hey, guess what? This is also a gimmick dungeon! It's probably my least favorite area of the game and this is just one of the reasons for it.

<shakes head> Gods, do we really have to do this?
You sure I can't just punch this cat kid's head into a fine mist and save us a lot of time?
No... That wouldn't help.
...Have you tried?
Please don't punch my old master's cat, kid.
Tch. Fine...

Okay, then!!

Master Xiaofang opens up the door to the left.

And with that, the trials of the Nine Courts of Xiyuan begins. Tune in next time as I heavily abridge the proceedings because BOY... this place is just kind of a forty-five minute slog of copy and pasted hallways with no map broken up by random battles against very limited pools of enemies and capped off by some complete jobber mid-bosses until we reach the end of the trials! Shadow Hearts continues as soon as I hack all that down into something brief and readable!

Masaji Kato Portrait – He specifically asked to reduce the chin proportions when commissioning this piece.