The Let's Play Archive

Shadow Hearts

by The Dark Id

Part 28: Episode XXVIII: Xifa

Sorry for the delay in updates lately. My wife has been in the hospital with a medical emergency and that takes a LITTLE priority over an LP.

Episode XXVIII: Xifa

Music: Death - Zombie Party

One more of these lousy trials remain. This time literally all we're allowed to do in battles is have Yuri punch things. Zhuzhen is also present.

If you think they mixed up the aesthetic of this third and final portion of the dungeon, you'd be dead wrong. If anything, they took all the flipped and edited versions of the same handful of maps from the two previous areas and smashed them all into this one trial. And of course, we're not exempt from...

Music: Brain Hopper

Even the enemies in this part of the dungeon are a snooze. Since they kind of have to be since all we can do is hit them more than they can hit us. The first of two baddies present is the Brain Sucker. It does not attempt to suck any brains to my knowledge. Indeed, its Japanese name was just... Mysterious Frog. This frog is a fraud. All it does is toss rocks at people and if Yuri doesn't smash it first.

The only other foe present in this portion of the dungeon is the Succubus Queen, which is... just a shrunken version of the transformed Li Li with some gaudy neon shaded texture edits. It lacks any of Li Li's more potent attacks, so it is only left with flailing its tentacles in our party's general direction. Sometimes it does this in a specific manner so as to potentially cause Confusion. It never once successfully landed a Confusion status ailment despite using it on our team at least a half dozen times through out the trial.

Its Japanese name was just Yashahime, which is Half(-Demon) Princess. The only thing I could find with that name was some manga I never heard of whose wiki began with "the infamous gunslinger buxom witch who..." and I closed the article, deciding enough research had been committed to the topic. Moving on!

Music: Death - Zombie Party

We'll be skipping the bulk of the remainder of this dungeon beyond the highlights. A couple of new items of interest were acquired along the way. Tossing this wood carving at someone will sort their shit out like nobody's business.

Where's the game with unique animations to show off how the hell you do properly use all these weird talismans and relics to cure ailments? This increases Intelligence. How the heck does that work? Do you rub it on your forehead? Do you slap it across their face? Is it pressed into their chest and absorbed? Do you eat it?! Inquiring minds want to know!

Unlike the previous two trials, where Xiaofang only showed up near teleporter nodes, we can actually find the brat hanging out down a dead-end path in the southern region of the third level of the Ni Wan Palace. It's really important we find him here. Since the only thing that would make this an even worse dungeon is if we broke a sidequest progression along the way...

Meowanna play the lottery?
These aren't even puns. You're just adding meow to words now...
Is that a yes or nmeow?

Count me in.

As it turns out, just this one specific time, down a deserted path that looks like seven other identical deserted cavern passages, Xiaofang will reveal himself to be Lottery Member No. 11. Remember, we have to win at least one prize from every single member of the Lottery to fully complete this quest. Guess what point in the game this quest became a wash for me the first time I played through it? And... the second time too when I was replaying this during the Koudelka LP to see if I wanted to do this game afterward, for that matter... Whatever, we're not in that timeline.

Our prize today is the Flash Badge. It does pretty much what it says on the box. It adds a rather significant 25 points of Agility, but the wearer is essentially permanently inflicted with the double speed Judgment Ring anomaly. I really prefer my Judgment Ring to be consistent, so I'm not big on anything that rejiggers it from normal speed/size/etc. But that's just me.

Meowby you can try again?
Meowck you, brat.

There's one final wrinkle in this particular trial. You see this tunnel with a treasure chest?

OK. Good? Now you see this tunnel with a treasure chest? Despite what it might appear at a glance, these are not the same tunnel. Look, that chest is scooted down a couple feet. How could you make such a mistake?! Additionally, one of these chests contains the reward of fuck all and the other has...

...a mission-critical item! By the way, we needed this item to complete the Ni Wan Palace trial. How were we supposed to know that?

Well, if we'd made it to the end of the region, then we'd find Master Xiaofang as usual and he'd inform us that...

The guard's power source is in front of the altar. It's called the "Shrine of the Five Elements." When all five powers are gathered, the guard will fill with power. You just need the power of the Wood Token. If you insert it into the pentagram, the guard will appear.

There you have it. The Wood Token is only back through the teleporter and essentially taking a giant upside-down U path to the next tunnel over. Except for the part where you'd have no idea that was a case while playing normally and not looking at a map or guide. But, I think I definitely know how this could have been worse.

We'll get to that in a minute. For now, we need to do a brief bit of boss preparation. Particularly, we're going to stick a Pocket Watch accessory on Yuri to prevent any fuckery with the Judgment Wheel since now more than ever, he's the one carrying this boss fight. Margarete wishes she had to carry Alice this hard...

In any case, heading into the shrine we have our last chance to save and heal up. We definitely want to be at full health before starting the fight since again, no actions are allowed beyond physical strikes all day, every day.

So, remember how I mentioned getting this Wood Token wasn't too difficult. It was quite close by to the end of the dungeon. Well, they repeatedly mentioned there are five total slots but only the one Wood Token is needed to complete this ceremony and summon the boss. Guess how many empty chests were in the Ni Wan Palace trial? Four chests... Out of curiosity, I went and looked at a map of the Dan Tian and Jiang Palace trials. There's five empty chests in both of those... I will bet good goddamn money you originally had to get five Wood Tokens in each of these trials to fill in at the shrines and fight the bosses. Along the way, someone smacked the devs upside the head, told them this dungeon was already bad enough and to knock off with that Koudelka-esque Key Item collection fetish they had going, and it was stripped down to the (still bad but not THAT bad) final version we ended up with here.

Visit the scenic Wuhan Temple Ruins with their trademark slogan – "Hey, it could have been worse!"

Music: Brain Hopper

Having wings for an index and pinkie finger must be the most inconvenient thing on the planet. Meet Qinggu, the third and final handy boy of the Wuhan Temple Ruins trials. Back in his land of origin, Qinggu went by Ancient Blue. Not so sure about either of these names, honestly.

This scaly clown comes packing 600 HP of which Yuri will be punching away about a good 581 hit points of on a good day with Zhuzhen's sorry support. It's a Water elemental enemy, so you'd think the sage would be able to contribute a little more than normal. But alas, Qinggu has some other ideas on the matter.

Large Whirlpool is one of Qinggu's primary attacks. It only does a moderate 20-25 HP of damage to Yuri and slightly more 30-35 for the Fire elemental Zhuzhen. But it has a much more insidious secondary function.

A Judgment Ring anomaly that cuts the size of the hit area in half. Since Yuri has the Pocket Watch equipped, he won't suffer those effects. Zhuzhen's not so lucky in this matter. He'll just have to make do with likely missing half his attacks because that's a really tiny target to hit. Especially, with a tiny amount of input lag. Sorry, old man. You're about as useful as an asshole on an elbow for this battle.

Not that it is much of a battle to speak of really. Beyond the whirlpool full party Water element attack, Qinggu also has a single target Water spell that does roughly the same exact amount of damage to each of the boys. We just have to kind of take that since there's no healing or debuffing magic or... anything interesting going on with this fight.

It's just sort of five minutes of Yuri doing the same attack animation again and again until it finally falls over dead. Thank goodness that's the end of this bullshit and the game never pulls any dungeon gimmicks more advanced than forcing a particular party configuration or docking a character for a while.

For our efforts, we receive... the same amount of EXP and Cash we did the previous times. Alongside a third Leonardo's Bear (there was a second one somewhere during this area, don't worry about the where and when.)

Good work… All right, then, Master Xiaofang! We’ve passed the Spiritual Trials! Show yourself!
Yeah, c'mon out and give me my abilities back! I didn't think I'd ever get bored of punching things... This place has ruined PUNCHING for me. That's just sick and wrong...

Master Xiaofang teleports into the chamber.

Meow, meow!!

A door opens, allowing Alice and Margarete to enter the shrine chamber.

Music: Asian Parfait

Zhuzhen excluded for meowvious reasons.
Come on, you’ve got no grounds for denying us further. Take us to the old man, won’t you?
<turns to the door> Of course, meow! I’ll open the door to Nirvana Palace. Hold on. Meeeow meow meow… Um… MEEEEOW!!
He better not break into some sorta meowing jingle.
...I really hope he breaks into some sort of meowing jingle.

The room flashes with light and the door behind Master Xiaofang slides open.

Xiaofang steps aside and lets us into Xifa's chamber. Before we go, it might be a really good idea to save and maybe heal up Yuri and Zhuzhen. I mean, they wouldn't want to do that dull boss fight again, now would they?

The party enters Nirvana Palace. Meanwhile, back outside...

Music: Profile

<paces around> Hey, Lt. Colonel Kawashima. Can I ask you a question?
What is it, Kato?
Lt. Colonel... do you think... I would... Well... Err...
Yes? Spit it out, already.
Do you think I'd look good in a cape?

...A cape?
Yeah, I was thinking of changing my look.
...With a cape?
Ergh... Well... Forget I said anything! Hahaha...

...Well, it might draw attention away from certain... prominent features you possess...
Being a bit too nervous about things?
Sure... That... We'll go with that... Sure, you'd look fine in a cape. But, I don't think that will go over well at your current rank...
Yeah... I'd need to work on that... Heh... Umm... T-thanks for the input, ma'am. Uhh... Well... That boy and his followers are taking their time...

Yes. Maybe Lieutenant Suketani was right about them. Maybe they’ve failed.
That can’t be! I… I put my faith in them to the end!
Heh. It’s ironic, isn’t it? I find myself rooting for the enemy. I wonder why? They’re so reckless… yet somehow, I envy them.

Kato notices someone approaching and quickly runs in front of Kawashima to protect her. It takes him a few moments to realize it's Suketani and to relax his stance.

That was fast, Lieutenant. What happened to the others?
We have twenty men hidden nearby. If something happens, they’ll be ready. Lt. Colonel, how is the situation?
Yes… there’ll be no movement for now. Please wait a little longer.
<looks at watch> A very little...
<salutes> Understood.

Suketani marches up to Kato, startling him in the process.

Up to something?!
I’m counting on you, Sergeant.

With that, Suketani and his men depart. I'm sure this internal conflict within the Japanese army won't lead to much of any concern.

At that same time, in Nirvana Palace...

Music: Asian Parfait

Welcome back, Zhuzhen. Nice to meet you, ladies, and Hyuga’s son.

The party enters the room.

The very same. And you’re Yuri? Like father, like son, it seems. You both carry a heavy burden. At any rate, welcome. I’ve been so bored lately… Today’s Trials were quite a pleasant change.
Question: Out of a scale of one to ten, how much did my dad get annoyed with all this trial crap?
<shrugs> Maybe a 6.5 at most.

I’ll give you back your power and items now. I’ve added something for finishing the Trials.

We don't get a chance to see what Xifa gifts us for long enough that it was two hours later in recording game footage and I went "oh crap yeah, this thing!" It's this game's equivalent of an Elixir. Now to never use it because YOU MIGHT NEED IT LATER up until the credits are already rolling and you've realized later has never come.

Heh. I don’t care how much strength Dehuai has… he can’t break through this seal so easily. Just as I cannot leave it, he cannot come in.
<steps forward> It’s an honor to meet you, Master Xifa. I’m Alice.
<walks up to Alice> Ah! So, you’re the blue-eyed prophet I’ve heard so much about My, you DO have incredible power… No wonder Dehuai is drooling over you… He probably would succeed in his Valorization if he had you in his possession.
My father lost his life protecting me from a warlock with similar plans, in a country far away…
You don't need to be vague for my sake. I'm aware of European countries. I'm a hermit, not a shut-in.
Tell me… why do people like Dehuai attempt such awful things?
He's a dick.
That is... a touch blunter than I was expecting.
Your presumptions of my demeanor in being a mystical Chinese oracle are... <sigh> Europeans... Fine, let me rephrase it.

<begins pacing> They’re motivated by vengeful hearts… They sacrifice many victims to their idol of revenge. I’m sure Dehuai hasn’t fully considered how the Demon’s Gate Invocation might change the world. Of course, I don’t know what would happen, either… but it must be stopped.
One does not generally want to invoke demons nor open a gate containing demons and have things remain intact. Both of those words being in a dark ceremony...? Not great...
…Oh, I almost forgot. There was something I wanted to give you. Xiaofang!
<runs up to Xifa> Yes, Meowster.
There’s a Votive Picture tablet of the White Tiger on the back shelf. Please fetch it for me.

Xiaofang runs up to a nearby shelf. Music: ENDS

Xiaofang grabs the portrait and starts running back to Xifa. Mid-stride a surge of energy blasts the cat boy.

...Is that good?
Wh-what?! The barrier may have become slightly weakened by the Trials, but… this cannot be!
Did you let the dick sorcerer in here by yanking our chains with those stupid trials?!
No… Even Dehuai isn’t this powerful…
<nods> I know who this is!

The room flashes with light several times and Master Xiaofang rises to his feet.

Actually, the cursed Harmonixer's son had it right the first time. And I don't appreciate being called a dick!

Music: Misfortune - Psycho Temple

That voice! Dehuai!
<rubs neck> OK... Mistakes might have been made...
Ya think?!

Bastard! What have you done with Xiaofang?!
Too late! The Votive Picture of the White Tiger is mine!
Zhuzhen! Give me a healing talisman! A broken seal can’t be repaired. We must seal the entire temple!
Ha ha ha! I’ll bring this temple down around your heads before you can!!

Xiaofang-Dehuai casts a spell rumbling the entire temple and wrecking everyone in the room, including Xiaofang, in the process.

Dehuai teleports into the room.

Master Xifa, you thought I’d be as weak as I was fifteen years ago? You fool…
<walks up to Alice and laughs> Ah, such beauty…!
Giving a free show too. How considerate.
If I’d only come earlier, this moment would not have been delayed so long…

Dehuai warps out of the room along with Alice. Xifa manages to regain consciousness and return to his feet just as Dehuai escapes.

Music: God Knows Bad News

<stomps foot> This is not how I pictured this day going...
<walks up to Xiaofang and prays> Poor Xiaofang. Please, forgive me.

Oh, Master Xiaofang apparently got telefragged by Dehuai and is dead by the way. His body fades away to indicate that yes, he's incredibly dead. RIP, meow puns child.

I'm over a hundred, about to be homeless and my cat is dead. Time to make an exit from the stage, I think...

The party is revived by Xifa's healing spell. They groggily return to their feet.

It’s all right, Zhuzhen. My time has come and gone. The rest I leave to you.

Master Xifa falls to his knees.

Young Hyuga… Do not fear the dark. If you accept it, it will protect you in return. Then, what frightens you… will also disappear…
Flying in planes...?
For real? Right now you're going to get on that again?!
No... I meant... Dying here. Could you keep it serious?
Shoot. Sorry! I mean... <clears throat>

N-no, you old fool! We’re not gonna let you die here!!
Heh heh. I’ll transport you to the Samsara Pavilion with the last of my strength. Good luck… Now, go! Go to Kuihai Tower and rescue the girl!!

The room starts shaking violently.

I-it's collapsing!

Master Xifa teleports everyone out of the room just as the ceiling starts giving in...

...and keels over dead. Introduced the same update he died. That's a new record for named, character portrait possessing NPCs in Shadow Hearts. But don't worry, that record doesn't stand forever. Tune in next time as the gang runs into complications escaping Wuhan Ruins and maybe we kill off another reoccurring NPC in the process as Shadow Hearts continues!

Video: Episode 29 Highlight Reel