Part 1: A Series of Quickly Escalating Events
Almost all of it
Before we begin, you may notice our old pal Tetsuya Nomura is doing character designs here. Despite the train wreck of fashion that usually entails, The 3rd Birthdays character designs are remarkably restrained. Though, I dont think Nomura actually worked on very much here. In 2010/2011, he still would have been busy with not finishing Kingdom Hearts 3 and not finishing Final Fantasy Versus XIII.
New Music: The Babel Genesis
Its worth mentioning, the director of The 3rd Birthday, Hajime Tabata, would go on to take over directing duties for Final Fantasy
We open on Manhattan, New York on Christmas Eve of 2012. This would place this exactly 15 years to the day after the events of the original Parasite Eve began. Manhattan really bounced back from the Mitochondria evolved mutant outbreak, the scores of people being roasted alive or turned into goo, Liberty Island being coated in exploding biomass, and a dozen naval vessels detonating in the harbor. I wonder how long it took to shovel all of that genetic sludge out of the Chrysler Building.
The holiday season brings a change of scenery, as office workers are out of their suits and in festive outfits...
What is it dear? Do you want to go home?
Is it so much to ask to spend one solitary afternoon with your mother?!
The television displaying the earlier weather forecast with the woman whose head was completely obscuring the state of New York ominously flickers off. Im sure its just a careless last minute Christmas shopper tripping over a plug. Nothing to worry about.
Cmon now. In the grand scheme of terrible things that can potentially happen in Manhattan in fictional media, a blackout is fairly tame.
And how did people manage to immediately get into a traffic jam. Ive been to Manhattan many times. Unless they mowed over a dozen people jaywalking during the red light, this is a highly unlikely occurrence. Especially in Times Square.
Alright. A building suddenly collapsing into the street is cause for worry. Manhattan in this universe already suffered a 100 ft. tall monster made out of the biomass of an audience in a Central Park amphitheater serving as the uterus for the birth of an evil space baby stomp around the city. Whats the worst that could happen here?
Giant tentacles erupting from the ground. I err Alright?
Time Square might be getting reamed by tentacles of unknown origin. But at least the rest of Midtown Manhattan seems no worse for the wea
Assorted news reports and other radio chatter begins playing over the scenes of destruction engulfing Manhattan. That borough just cannot catch a break.
While several hundred story tentacles are a new one in the grand scheme of fucked up things plaguing the Parasite Eve universe. It is worth mentioning that Resident Evil-esque mutants roaming the country were already a thing to the point the FBI had a division devoted to hunting down and killing em. And also cyborg super soldier mutants. Parasite Eve is a weird series. But dont worry about any of that, as that fact will never be brought up in The 3rd Birthday.
How would you describe what you are seeing here? Is it something along the lines of Uhh like a mass of tentacles and shit ? I dunno? Well, I do hope you like that sort of design ethos as hard to describe shit with tentacles is The 3rd Birthdays jam.
*shuffles around papers and clears throat*
*pauses for gravitas*
Oh, for Christ sake! They just finished rebuilding that thing last fall. Thanks Obama!
Lets be real here. What kind of jackasses go to visit the Statue of Liberty on Christmas Eve? You all had it coming.
And so we have the title card as the Statue of Liberty gets felt up by subterranean tentacles. Despite the lingering shot of Lady Liberty and several pieces of concept art featuring the severed head of the statue in the wreckage of Manhattan we never see the statue again.
The official response from their offices say, and I quote: Do you not see the crazy goddamn skyscraper sized tentacles engulfing the city?! No, it is not a fucking earthquake! Jesus! End quote.
Oh. Yeah, sure. The Babel. Lets go with that. Why not? Nothing calls forth biblical allusions like writhing masses of tentacles of unusual height.
We now cut to blurry cellphone camera footage. How many iPhone revisions deep were they by 2011? You know what? Dont answer that question. I dont care.
That right there is a goldmine of ad revenue when this gets posted on YouTube, friend.
I dont think cellphone cameras cut out to film static when the signal is interrupted. But, I feel like we should just embrace the inevitable future where media begins screwing up the technicalities of older technologies functions.
Welcome to Episode 0 of The 3rd Birthday. The game is broken up into seven episodes, counting this prologue and an epilogue episode. Its like they were going for the Days in Parasite Eve 1 but couldnt help themselves with narrative bloat. Each episodes length varies from several hours to about 25 minutes.
New Music: Investigation of the Past
We now jump to a year following Manhattan getting uprooted. No, you shouldnt know what organization CTI is an acronym for. Nor should you know what an Overdive Room entails.
A young woman gasps at the YouTube footage of that token black guy being the first to get smoked by low level Final Fantasy mutants.
Meet Aya Brea, the protagonist of The 3rd Birthday and the Parasite Eve series prior to it. If you think thats an unusual name for a blonde haired, blue eyed white girl, thats because Aya is supposed to be half-Japanese. So its okay for Japanese nerds to think shes hot and Nomura to be really creepy sexual with her concept art in the games. Despite that not really being reflected much at all in the actual games. Well until The 3rd Birthday.
Aya is also pushing 40, despite her youthful looks. Thats because the mitochondria in her body have de-aged her to keep her in top physical condition. She can also shoot fireballs with her mind and turn into a naked kung-fu angel. It's a long story... But dont worry about any of that. This game certainly will not!
The game will be introducing the core cast here. Beyond Aya, everyone here is new. That is not to say there arent any returning characters from previous games. Though you might wish they hadnt bothered when you see some of their new incarnations.
Meeting the rest of the CTI team, we have Hyde Bohr. Dressed in a white suit and looking like Albert Weskers nerdy cousin. Im sure hes on the level. If this were a Metal Gear Solid support team, Hyde would be the Colonel Campbell.
Sir, my mission?
Rally with the National Guards and aid in the destruction of the Big Orb.
This is the proper noun, Big Orb. Correct?
Thats right. Capital B, Capital O. Big Orb.
I just wanted to be sure.
No soldier has seen the heart of the Babel and come back to tell his tale.
I know I just flipped from a parenthood analogy to a soldier one. Err on the battlefield, you have to be ready to adapt to the situation.
If youre still wondering what CTI stands for, it is Counter Twisted Investigation. No, Im not going to tell you what the hell that means. Im not made of bloody answers! Thelonious here is a soldier man and knows combat stuff. Like Master Miller, but not secretly Ayas evil British twin brother wearing sunglasses. Just a really stupid first name.
I didn't know you had a daughter.
For all you know, I don't.
I specifically didnt use gendered pronouns for my vague, botched metaphor. I could have a son. Or the child could not exist. Or it could be my cat standing in for my...
Okay, okay. Got it. Back to work.
Reprogramming codes I can do, but you're the only one who can reprogram the past. Do it for all of us! Well? What do you say, Aya?
Oh yeah. By the way, this game heavily features time travel. Just a heads up for what kind of a narrative clusterfuck well be wading into here.
Finally, we have Dr. Blank. Who would be the Mei Ling, I suppose, of our support staff. Id say Otacon. But there is another character later on that fits that niche. Even if that is rather insulting to poor Otacon Dr. Blank does not have a first name, to make up for Crays pretentious ass sounding naming. Theres a reason for that. But thats an info dump for another day.
She doesn't need any more pressure. Is that understood?
*nods and walks off*
which means technically you die. You need to stay on your toes at all times.
Thats right. If you die in the game, you die for real!
That is not amusing.
Right. Also throw away any of the pseudo-science fiction business the Parasite Eve games went for with even the faintest touching on reality. The soul is a tangible thing here and the device in this room can blast it back in time. Cuz why not?
*sigh* So, we're sending a rookie, huh? That's comforting.
You can also forget that Aya Brea had been fighting horrible abominations for several years and was basically a professional monster slayer for the FBI the last time we saw her. Shes now a raw rookie in The 3rd Birthday. Theres a reason for that here. But, Ill let the game explain it. Go ahead and guess the most cliché reason why our protagonist would have lost all her combat experience between games. You are probably correct.
The ever-expanding research budget, the overall safety of the planet - every last thing.
But umm no pressure, Aya.
Before you do, would you mind telling us what the hell is going on? I feel a bit lost here
Are you sure its safe to be standing in front of this thing when she does this?
*shrug* I dunno.
Oh yes, as it turns out the soul is buck naked. Full on soul birthday suit. Its a good thing the only person who can do it is an attractive woman who is eternally in her early 20s. This would be a far different game if the protagonist was say the dumpy not-Danny Glover cop from the original Parasite Eve. Much much different.
So, about the details of the Overdive. You see, a naked Aya Brea isnt actually getting transported into the past. No You see
This game is actually anime Quantum Leap. Just with a lot more murdering. And not solving anyones problems and indeed making more problems if anything. Okay, maybe it's more like an anti-Quantum Leap. Honestly, the narrative/gameplay conceit in play is completely fucked up. But we'll get to that in due time.
Tune in next time and maybe well get an inkling of what in the flying fuck is going on in The 3rd Birthday. Spoilers: Nah. Not really. If anything, well end up even more confused. Fuck this game.
Video: The 3rd Birthday Intro
Video: Part 1 Cutscenes (Recommended Viewing)
Aya Brea Concept Art If you are wondering why Aya is wearing jeans that look like they were shredded by an unruly dog, the answer is: This is what happens when you take excess belts and zippers away from Tetsuya Nomura.