Part 34: Episode XXXIV: Essential Smut
Episode XXXIV: Essential Smut
Music: Blow Up
Well, that was kind of a waste of time. Hopefully, there's no portal to Outworld looming above Shanghai or giant Hellmouth sinkhole swallowing half the city in the couple of days since we've been gone. It's really not clear exactly what the Demon's Gate Invocation does, other than it is some bad news.
As long as the sky doesn't start birthing cannibal space babies, it cannot be worse than anything we've encountered before. Now then, without any further delay, let's head into Kuihai Tower for the final showdown with Dehuai. It is looking like Shadow Hearts will wrap up as a real short game by JRPG standards.
Music: Misfortune - Psycho Temple
Ah... it's like we were here just yesterday. Or before a long weekend. You know how it is shifting time zones with travel. Everything is all out of whack. Let's get to saving Alice and defeating that sorcerer properly now.
<shrugs and shakes head> Oh, quit it. Even an idiot like Dehuai wouldnt use the same tactic again.
That has kind of been his only move... The guy seems set in his ways. Like the only question is whether it's going to be a possessed animal or a Yamaraja guy this time.
But... This is his main base. It seems like he'd have to try something different, right? Like... I don't know... a DRAGON is guarding the gate.
Hey, pops. What was past this gate when you and my old man kicked open the door last time?
<rubs chin> Possessed tiger. It turned into a man-tiger demon.
<cracks knuckles> OK. If that's the case, my money is on a Yamaraja dude.
Heh heh Well, theres one way to find out.
Music: China Ogre
No amount of emulator texture filtering can pretty up that background texture that is apparently a postage stamp sized jpg blown up to fill the entire background. I recall the background of this battlefield looking remarkably ugly even when it was a pixelated mess on the original hardware.
In any case, guess what? It's another Yamaraja match. Remember those two ogres from Kowloon Fortress? We found their boss variant big brother. Meet Yamaraja: Stone. Keeping up with the theme of its predecessors (discounting the pretender Wugui) the boss is a Fire elemental enemy despite having Stone in its name. Dehuai is not good with naming his guardian minions. Dehuai is not particularly good at many things... Yamaraja: Stone original went by Enma-O: Vajra. Vajra is a type of ritual club with a ribbed spherical head which symbolizes the properties of an indestructible diamond and the irresistible force of a thunderbolt. Well... I guess I can see how that can translate to giant oni with an even bigger club... if you really squint and don't think about it too much.
Yamaraja: Stone comes with 1800 HP and that's about the only noteworthy trait the creature possesses. He's a sturdy lad if nothing else.
Our game plan isn't going to undergo a remarkable change in pace at this point. Inferno is far and away the best physical brawler damage output wise for the first half of the game. It's not even a competition. So, we'll have Yuri get his Fusion on and follow that up with the Fighting Spirit to get psyched for the fight.
To offset the fact Inferno is a Fire elemental enemy, we'll just spray that hot-blooded youth down with Margarete's Aqua Edge and set him to work punching. Margarete herself will stick to physical attacks since her innate Water element will do a good amount of damage (and her Grenade has dropped off a cliff damage wise across the last couple of chapters.) Zhuzhen's Lifesucker does some decent damage as well, but once again he's on healer reserve if need be.
Abilities wise, Stone is even more limited than the last few jerks we've come up against. For some reason, he has a whole host of spells that buff his Evasion (Falcon and Mirage for +15% Physical and Special evasion respectively.) Except... he's a big lumbering ogre with garbage evasive abilities to begin with, so it makes literally no difference. Nobody missed a single hit despite the fact he'd immediately reapply a buff if the first one wore off after five turns. I guess everyone has to have a security blanket.
Other than that, err... he just beats people over the head with his very large ogre club. Granted, that's a remarkably effective means of wrecking someone's day. Don't get we wrong, I respect a good club user. It made Dark Souls 2 a breeze. But, you know... it doesn't make for a very interesting boss battle.
New Music: Meltdown (This is the only time the LP will hear this, so have a listen!)
So, let's take a moment to point out there is a Berserk version of the China Ogre boss track. Yamaraja bosses tend to end in defeat first rather than sanity depletion for the ill-prepared, so it's very easy to never hear this theme. The reason I might be bringing it up now is that China Ogre might be permanently retired as a boss theme in the near future. In fact, a very large chunk of the game's soundtrack might be sunsetting with the end of this chapter. Don't you feel like a fool for passing up those music links until later, thinking there was time?
Anyway, Yamaraja: Stone is a complete chump especially after Guyver Wugui and Undead Wugui. Look, Dehuai can't afford a yeti or a dragon to guard the front gate. Do you have ANY idea the overhead in maintenance to keep one of those things around just in case? It's already costing an arm and a leg to feed all of those Kappa he's keeping around and dressing up in human disguises. And let's not even get into the travel expenses Wugui was wracking up going back and forth between Shanghai and Kowloon every other weekend.
We receive a nice chunk of EXP and Cash for our troubles. More importantly, Margarete has finished taking sharpshooting courses during the last several lengthy boat rides we undertook and can now Snipe enemies. That might come in handy in the near future.
Music: Misfortune - Psycho Temple
I guess both you and Dehuai think on the same level, sonny boy! No, Im kidding.
Dehuai is much less creative.
All right! This is it!
Nobody is allowed to die other than Dehuai. I am NOT doing this again in another fifteen years. I'm getting too old for this nonsense.
Weren't you already too old for this last time?
Eat me, kid.
Wait!! Theres something on the ground.
Margarete bends over and picks up...
We finally got our hands on one of those Votive Pictures we've heard so much about and gotten multiple people killed over during our adventures in China. These are actually supposed to be Ema the tiny wooden plaques from Shinto and Buddhist religions. They give the literal names of the four guardian spirits in Shadow Heart's localization, but this was originally Ema of Genbu. Seiryū (Blue Dragon), Byakko (White Tiger), Genbu (Black Tortoise) and Suzaku (Red Phoenix) show up as names, usually of a villain team, in a ton of shit. They're the bad guys from the end of the first major arc in Yu Yu Hakusho, for instance. The four protagonists in Yakuza 4 were supposed to represent these guys as well. You don't need to worry about any of that. This is just a component of an upcoming puzzle.
It was only briefly stated way back when, but the Black Tortoise Votive Picture was stolen from the shrine in Zhaoyang Village way back in the very earliest parts of the game.
Damn, if it isnt the Black Tortoise Votive Picture!!
So, this is the one that Dehuai took?
Thats right. I never expected wed get it back in a place like this.
What? Was it like just tucked in that Yamaraja guy's pocket?
It's best not to dwell on questions like that.
We'll just take that along with us and enter Kuihai Tower proper. You may recall this room as the first place we saw Dehuai as well as the first reappearance of Roger Bacon in the plot being a vaguely antagonistic dick to his Chinese colleague. It's changed perspective and added a save point since last we saw it.
Stepping forward, we find a place for one of the Votive Pictures. This one has a Dragon picture above it. But we don't have the Blue Dragon yet. So, we'll just remember this is here. As a side note, that chest around the side of the save point holds one of the easier to acquire Lottery Tickets. I can't wait for mid-villainous monologue for Dehuai to stop dead in his tracks and reveal himself to be Lottery Member No.8 or some shit. We'll need to be on the lookout for a Lottery Member somewhere in this tower. The final member of this act of the game does pop up here. But we'll worry about that later. For now, we have some enemies to deal with...
Music: Brain Hopper
It's real weird that it's impossible to do Kuihai Tower before Kowloon since just about all of the enemies are just weaker variations of those hailing from Hong Kong. Water Tiger is back from Fengtian Sewers and the Fight Pit, so that Kappa isn't worth mentioning. The dickless ghosts here are much less crybabies about it and just go by the name Shadow and shockingly is actually a Dark elemental enemy like its name suggests. They're just straight downgrades of Kowloon's Tears with barely any HP to speak of before dying... again.
A new variation of the snake demons is hanging out in Kuihai Tower, the Man-Snake. These are the Earth elemental versions and they can potentially cast Flying Stones like every other trash mob Earth bender.
These dorks at least have a good dumb original title. Their Japanese names are Zhu Tun She/Chotonda which is literally Pig-Boar-Snake. Apparently, it was some cryptid recorded back during the Song Dynasty, but hell if I can find a wiki article about it other than the fact it appeared (as depicted above) in Shin Megami Tensei IV and several Asian gotcha mobile games.
Lastly, there are three variants of these creeps with the huge dangling schlong. They've gotten rid of the skull mask and bondage gear but haven't gotten any less lewd. There is Rage Demon, which is covered in scars and can inflict Silence with its dong. Don't ask me how that works. You don't want to know. Vengeance Demon is wearing yellow boots and is covered in illegible Chinese characters. He's just faster than the three and begins every fight by buffing his Agility further. Finally, Mournful Demon has no butt or legs but can do the limbo to cast Exorcist Arrow. Again, with its penis.
Rage Demon has really high physical defense but garbage special attack defense. Vengeance Demon is sturdy against everything. Mournful Demon has a glass jaw but can tank any Special Attacks. Beyond that, there's the factoid their original names were Anger Disgusting Beast, Grudge Disgusting Beast, and Sorrow Disgusting Beast. Let's never speak of this trio again and get back to taking care of this tower.
Music: Misfortune - Psycho Temple
The central lobby of Kuihai Tower has three possible directions we can explore: a door to the northwest on the first floor and staircases leading to the second floor to the west and east. It would take a bit of wandering around to figure out the correct way to proceed here. But let's just do the optimal path, eh?
Which means first we'll be heading up the right-side staircase.
At the top of the stairs, we find a slot for another Votive Picture. One which has a turtle above it. Hey, I think we have just the thing to use here. We'll just slot that bad boy in and...
Bingo! That door to the bottom-right is now unlocked. Fantastic. We'll go out there in just a second. First...
Kuihai Tower is still undergoing some renovations at the moment. You'll have to excuse the clutter. Hidden just behind a pillar, we can find...
Our first sample of the final incarnation of the Pure (HP restore) series of the item. Eating this slice of Juicy Fruit gum will fully restore a character's HP. I bet just like Juicy Fruit, the taste wears off within seconds. What a mediocre gum.
Back to the mission, that newly unlocked door leads us on a path to the upper-level walkway of the tower. Unfortunately, the gate at the top is locked shut. However, there is a chest we can plunder and within we discover...
In the hands of a wicked person, it could destroy an entire nation. Fortunately for the world, it was in the hands of a very incompetent person who just left it in his porch cooler for anyone to wander up to and take. Dehuai, what if it rained out here? That picture doesn't look like it can stand up to the elements. Between potentially nearly killing Alice with torture and leaving your powerful McGuffins out where anyone can find 'em, it's like you don't even WANT to do your evil ceremony.
This was stolen from an unseen water shrine off the coast of Dalian port. Blue Dragon was also an early Xbox360 RPG made by a bunch of Final Fantasy expats, including series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi, forming a new studio. With art by Akira Toriyama and music by Nobuo Uematsu! What could possibly go wrong? Well, what seems to be the case with every "we threw a bunch of names you've heard of from Japanese companies into a pot and made a stew!" the case is... a bland gruel you should just pass on by... This is not an invitation for Blue Dragon apologists to counterpoint it was actually a hidden gem here. Nobody cares about your bad tastes, least of all me. Mistwalker turned it around with actual good game Lost Odyssey with much the same people sans Akira Toriyama, so maybe Dragon Ball guy and his mad libs of like five faces, ten outfit types and two pairs of shoes for every design was the foul part of the mix.
Now you'd think we would slot the Blue Dragon picture in the main hall right away. But we've got a "puzzle" afoot. We just don't know it yet. Let's head into that room downstairs next.
If I'm not mistaken, this is the room where we were first introduced to Wugui of Kowloon while Dehuai was getting mad the whole Li Li ghost saga didn't pan out. Before we do anything, there is a critical item we need to acquire in this room. Hey, remember how Yuri taunted Wugui and told him to tell Dehuai to hide his nudie mags because they were coming to kick his ass? Yeah, Wugui never related that message. So, well...
The Erotic Book is found on the floor here. This counts as a Valuable (Key) Item. What if I told you acquiring this was essential to unlocking a significant chunk of endgame content? Like access to the game's superboss and Yuri's best Fusion is out the window unless we steal this porn mag from Dehuai's joint. Shadow Hearts is a weird game... And that's tame compared to a similar key item series from the sequel.
Anyway, the Red Phoenix Votive Picture is slotted into this room already, though the picture above the slot is of a tiger. We'll add this to our collection as well. They never mentioned where the hell Dehuai acquired this portrait from... It might have already been in Shanghai and he had it by default. Who knows. It is in the party's possession now.
Unfortunately, we cannot leave the room unless a Votive Portrait is slotted into... whatever these devices are... So, we'll put the Blue Dragon VP in here for now and carry off the Red Phoenix for use elsewhere.
Let's head up the one path we've yet to take. At the top of the stairs here, we find somewhere we can immediately put that Red Phoenix picture to use. Slamming that bad boy in like a Nintendo cartridge will unlock the nearby door.
Before moving on, it's worth noting on the far side of the room is a locked gate with a chest behind it and a stairwell leading upward. We'll need to be on the lookout for those stairs if we make it to the next level.
In the next room, we find just a straight up Umbrella lab san the Tyrants or any other BOWs in their stasis capsule. There is an electrical current running across the stairs up that will zap Yuri if he gets close. We need to finish this rudimentary puzzle before it'll be deactivated. Naturally, this lab is the best spot to store the final Votive Picture for just that purpose.
You'll recall this is the one Dehuai stole due to that nitwit Master Xifa wasting everyone's time with the shittiest dungeon in the game literally for no reason other than he was bored. That makes a whole set of pictures. Now just to swap 'em around in the right order.
So back downstairs we go to swap the Blue Dragon for the White Tiger...
...and finally, the Blue Dragon finds its home in the central foyer. That's all four portraits in their place and the seal broken. Dehuai probably should have kept those things with him at the top of the tower. Or at least, I don't know, put a lock on the chests they were in. This guy's security really needs an overhaul all around.
For frankly baffling reasons, placing all four Votive Portraits in their places will deactivate the electrical current back in the lab and also activates a handy save point. Indeed, this is the penultimate save point of this act of the game. Entering this next room is the POINT OF NO RETURN for Shanghai. Kowloon Fortress and Zhen's Pit Fights must both be completed before here or they're lost forever. Tune in next time as we step through the threshold and begin the end of Dehuai's arc as Shadow Hearts continues!
Video: Episode 34 Highlight Reel (You know you want to see those creepy boys in motion.)