The Let's Play Archive

The 3rd Birthday

by The Dark Id

Part 3: Optimal Loadout

We now begin the first proper chapter of The 3rd Birthday. In subsequent playthroughs, you can just skip past the tutorial. Which is nice. Except for the fact you’re replaying The 3rd Birthday in the first place.

New Music: Joy to the World -For The 3rd Birthday-

This game just absolutely loves beginning new segments as the clock switches over to a new hour. We rejoin events a little over six hours since Aya Overdived to some street fighting in the past and didn’t accomplish much of note as apparently everyone present still died via cutscene – the strongest single force in all of the space-time continuum.

We now shift to CTI headquarters’ drunk tank. Aya has hit the bottle hard after reading through the script of The 3rd Birthday. Who could blame her?

Joking aside, you may be wondering why CTI has a prison block, when its primary function is fighting poorly named monsters. The answer to that question is: I have absolute no idea! We’ll be exploring headquarters’ somewhat puzzling layout in this update and the one following it. The prison block is relegated to the Phantom Zone of cutscenes, however.

The scene lingers on Aya’s hand to make sure you take note she is wearing a wedding ring. The very first images of The 3rd Birthday, back when it was announced as a Japanese phone game, was an armed Aya wearing a wedding dress. That might be still relevant in the final product.

Now, it wouldn’t be a proper story from Square-Enix if we didn’t have a vague dream sequence that wouldn’t make sense until toward the end of the game, now would we?

First, we have a blood-soaked hand, presumably belong to Aya, grasps for a pistol.

Then, the pistol wielding hand taking aim.

And finally, a girl with a freaky eye covered alien face. What else were you expecting?

I’m sure this will all make perfect sense eventually.

Aya sits up in bed and breaths heavily…

That... dream again.

Meanwhile, Hyde Bohr enters the cell block as a rendition of Joy to the World continues over the loudspeakers. Or the guard’s radio? Or maybe it’s just cutscene music. Who knows? It is Christmas Eve. Even weird prison cells holding a series protagonist in captivity need to be a little bit festive.

So, if you guessed “amnesia” as the lazy cliché that has turned Aya Brea into a fresh rookie since the previous game? Ding-ding-ding! You’ve got it! Aya has lost all memories, so we don’t need to bother referencing the plot of either of those previous games they lost the licensing rights to so her past is a mystery! And how to use all her magic Parasite Energy abilities has gone up in smoke and will never resurface.

You saw Liberation and the Overdive Kills back in the tutorial, right? Yeah. That was the entire extent of Aya’s special abilities beyond shooting people and rolling around like a hedgehog.

New Music: Dive Into Myself

Of course, that dream is somehow connected to Aya’s lost memories and some tragedy in her past. The first lesson they teach in the well regarded works of Dr. Uzuki’s Arts of Foreshadology is that any and all lost memories must have a strong connection to the amnestic subject’s dreamscape. No matter how abstract and mundane.

Have a dream about ending up in class in your underwear? Look carefully at the classmates laughing at your sorry state. Undoubtedly, the cloudy face of the man who killed your father will be among the dream classmates!

Is there another mission?
And did that last mission… actually do anything…?
…The boss is gone.
And the FBI branch. They're gone as well.
Are you sure?
Indeed. I would know. I am the chief of the Counter Twisted Investigation Overdive Investigation Unit. Investigation.
You're no longer under observation. We're moving you out of the cell into a room.
*gestures into hall* This way.

I'm just looking out for you.
Are you sure there is nothing I could do? You don’t want perhaps a pillow and blanket? A small television set? Maybe… some new pants?
I’m fine.

You need to… rely on me a little more. Do you think you'd be able to do something like that?
*shakes head* I’d rather not.

Aya starts walking out of her cell…

I don't know if you realize this, but you don't need a past in order to have a future.
Also, we are attempting to re-write the past so… It really is fundamentally not that big of a deal. Just some perspective.

Hyde walks off, leaving Aya to listlessly navel gaze and reflect on his words, as the door on her barren prison cell she’s more than happy to continue living in (between the sessions of time travel) closes along with the scene.

New Music: Wait for the Combustion

We are now given control back to Aya and are allowed to explore the CTI building before beginning our next mission. We begin back in the Overdive control room. Most new episodes begin with a chance to fart around the home base for some downtime and speak with our support staff.

However, we are still in a bit of a tutorial phase and the game wants us to access the computer Dr. Blank was fiddling with in the opening cutscene before we’re given proper freedom to explore.

This computer is the hub of all our upgrades and where we can begin the next mission, so it’s fairly important. We’ll take the time to see what it has to offer.

As you see, we have a variety of options. We’ll skip the self-explanatory ones. Start Mission will, of course, progress the plot into the next phase. Case Training lets us replay previous missions to attempt a better ranking score, if you’re into that kinda thing.

Over Energy is the upgrade system for Aya. And boy is it a pile of complete shit. We’re going to be doing some DNA splicing on Aya… somehow from this computer terminal running a bootleg copy of Windows 7 that hasn’t been patched in a year. Don’t think about it too hard. The developers certainly did not. Nevermind the part where AYA BREA IS AT NO POINT PHYSICALLY FIGHTING IN THIS GAME! She's a disembodied consciousness possessing people! We're 30 minutes into this game and it has failed to adhere to its chief world conceit multiple times already!

First of all, we need to select a “DNA Board”, which will dictate the layout of our upgrades. Of course… we only have the single one. So don’t worry about that part! We get a second DNA Board half-way through the game. And another by beating the game! There are five DNA Boards in all. You have to complete the game three times to unlock them all. The 3rd Birthday really banks hard on people replaying this game. It’s a very misguided assumption.

Ugh. A grid of spheres. A sphere grid, if you will… Just cannot escape the damn magic spheres, can I? So, we’ve got this 3x3 grid of spheres. We have also got Over Energy Chips. You see this first one is configured with two Lv. 1 Healing spheres in a vertical fashion. The next one has Cross-Healing and Antibody configured horizontally. Then an Antibody and Cross-Healing swapped horizontal one. And finally two vertical Antibodies.

Already installed on our DNA Board by default, we have Lv.1 Boost Fire, Energy Defense, and Healing. It’d probably help to know what all of those do. So here’s the skinny:

Healing – Random chance of healing 30% HP when Overdiving into a meat puppet. Any ability that relies on RNG is fairly crap!
Cross-Healing – Random chance of healing Aya and anyone else participating in a Crossfire. Eh.
Antibody – Random chance of getting improved defense for 10 seconds after Overdiving into another body. Terrible.
Boost Fire – Buffs Crossfire. Good stuff!
Energy Defense – Buffs defense. Alright early on, but quickly becomes kinda useless.

So we can place the OE Chips onto the DNA board like so. DNA spheres of the same color will link up and become stronger. That’s how genetics works, right? And placed OE chips have a chance of leveling up. A chance. Chance. See how there is a Retry button there? Hitting that will re-roll the placed OE Chip and there is a random chance it will mutate into a stronger variant.

Right now, Aya is only Level 2 (she levels up unceremoniously mid-mission) so the most any node can level is the same as her current level. But, OE Chip abilities can level up all the way to a cap of Level 25 (when Aya is at Level 50. Which is, if we’re lucky, something she’ll hit by the very end of the game on Normal.) BUT, how they level up is entirely at the mercy of the RNG and the more leveled up Aya gets, the larger the spread of random numbers to pop up while re-rolling.

In short, while placing abilities you’re optimally expected to mash triangle for several minutes in hopes of getting a better outcome. Like I said, this system is garbage!

That’s not all! The RNG can potentially roll Malignant DNA nodes which will de-buff Aya. This includes things like giving her less HP (is she giving her hosts soul cancer?) or slowing her run speed or how fast Liberation fills. If you think this might be some mechanic to punish people re-rolling for better results… nah. Just re-rolling again 2-3 more times will remove the Malignant DNA.

This is what I ended up with, which is mostly kind of shit. But shitty is better than nothing. There are some real good abilities that can be gained and I’ll mention them if the RNG gods allow them. But fuck this whole thing in general.

Next up we have the Weapon Bank, which allows us to upgrade and change Aya’s nonsensical loadout when her soul is sent back in time. This is less outright shit as the upgrades to Aya herself. But still rather half-baked. And again, highly hinging on the fact the player will replay this game multiple times.

We can have up to three weapons out in the field (the 4th slot in the weapon wheel belongs to the soldier we hijack.) Though only two are negotiable. Our magical infinite ammo pistol is mandatory.

We can customize our weapons using BP, the game’s currency. For the pistol, we can upgrade its magazine capacity, accuracy, and impact (ability to stun.) Other weapons, like the assault rifles, can have their recoil lessened or their range and the like. Real basic stuff. No fun insanity like a shotgun that fired a volley of rockets like Parasite Eve 1’s nearly broken absurd weapon upgrade system.

The trouble is, upgrades are not only limited by our BP, but also Aya’s weapon proficiency level.
Right now, being an amnesiac rookie, we can only purchase Level 1 basic upgrades. Aya’s weapon level can increase by just firing that type of weapon and hitting an enemy. A lot. Like several hundred/thousand shots per level. Even if we only stuck to the pistol the entire game, that’s probably not enough to reach Level 5 proficiency. Again, The 3rd Birthday really assumed you’d want to play through this game multiple times.

I went ahead a bought a pistol upgrade to Impact, since anything that gets us to more Overdive Kills is desirable.

We can also purchase new weapons using BP. Completing the tutorial unlocked the T05 7.5cm magnum. Weapons are broken into categories of Handguns, Assault Rifles, Shotguns, Sniper Rifles (have fun with the PSP control nub), Launchers, and shit you unlock replaying the game Special.

I’m going to go ahead and purchase that since… well it’s literally the only other weapon available at the moment and there’s no reason not to have less than a full loadout. I’ll mention if I purchase any new weapons or change my loadout. But I’ll probably omit weapon upgrades because “wooo… I can shoot 8 more bullets 5% more accurately now” doesn’t make for interesting content.

Lastly, we have Protective Gear. The classiest of loadout segments. Here, we can change Aya’s costume. Or repair them using BP, if taking slightly more damage and looking like we’d just crawled out of a bloody car wreck while escaping from a sexual assault isn’t an optimal look.

Aya’s default costume is the Black Leather. Ah yes, the slim fit makes for easy movement Jill Valentine excuse of dumb wear for battle. Of course. You’ll see this provides Aya with a B in defense. Don’t worry about that stat.

Aya’s only other available costume is the White Eider. Which is just her default costume wearing a jacket. It’s the end of December in New York. You’re not going out clubbing. Put a goddamn jacket on, lady. The White Eider provides an A in defense. So, there’s no real reason not to use it over the Black Leather. Unless you don’t like the character swapping costumes every ten minutes for a cutscene. Most of The 3rd Birthday’s cutscenes are pre-rendered so whoops! None of the bonus costumes show up and the game defaults to Black Leather.

And again, The 3rd Birthday really wants you to replay it. As these two are all the “Protective Gear” Aya Brea will be offered during the first playthrough of the game. That whole menu can potentially be filled up. But it requires multiple replays of the game all to play dress-up doll with Aya Brea and see her battle damage. That’s not creepy! No sir.

Normally, I’d show off all the bonus shit in a game at the end of a LP. But, I’m sure as fuck not replaying this game and doing the ridiculous requirements to unlock all of Aya’s costume. Nor do I want to engage with Toriyama’s dress-up fetish wear any more than necessary. So let’s just go ahead and load up a 100% complete save thanks to the PSP having no save security and get this elephant in the room out of the way this update. Gonna just be upfront about The 3rd Birthday being a complete creeper of a video game.

Let’s take a look at all the bonus costumes and how to obtain them.

Ah yes. That apron is so much fun. Those bloody claw marks and unidentified white goo marks are also a playful riot. The game must be completed on Easy difficulty to unlock sexy maid Aya Brea. I don’t remember if costume unlocks stack with difficulty. I completed this game and went fuck this thing until the unfortunate day I decided to LP it. I’m going to be pessimistic and say it does require a playthrough of the game on Easy mode.

Next we have the Business Suit. Yes, the “peekaboo red lingerie” really does give it that adult feel. Like an adult movie, one might say… This one is unlocked by completing the game on any difficulty.

Ah yes! That refreshing vulnerability. Especially the part where her clothes are about to slide right off her body thanks to the bleeding wounds suffered. This is the reward for completing the game on Hard difficulty. You’ll notice it has a C Ranking for defense. Indeed, most of the costumes have less of a defensive stat that the standard White Eider. For that refreshing vulnerability, you see…

Next up is the Playboy Titanium Bunny. Despite the title, this is tied for the lowest defense stat in the game. Who’d have thought? This is the reward for completing the game on Genocide difficulty. Which is unlocked by completing the game on Deadly difficulty. Which, in turn, is only unlocked by completing it on Hard mode. So yeah… Three complete playthroughs on increasing difficulty levels for the reward of dressing up Aya in a bunny girl outfit.

Hey, that is the same requirement for getting the final ending in Drakengard 2!

Psst. Be sure to mention the hairstyle in the description. We actually changed it for this model. The short skirt Chinese dress outfit is unlocked by completing the game on Normal difficulty. So this is the only one we’ll actually unlock at this LP’s completion legitimately.

You knew it was coming! Motomu Toriyama was heavily involved in this game. So of course, he has a rose for his eternal waifu Claire Farron and a Lightning costume for Aya Brea. If you take damage, you can see where her l’Cie mark on Aya’s breast. But you’re going to have to work for it, as of course the Lightning costume has the highest defense stat of any armor. It’s perfect. Just like Lightning.

This is the hardest costume to unlock by far. In the Japanese version, it required beating the game and having seven stamps from some shitty social media site Square-Enix had over there. I cannot get much information on that because of course, that shit is gone a half decade later. In the North American release, it was altered so a total of 57 feats, special achievements unlocked by meeting requirements during missions (think stuff like assure no soldiers die in a segment or take no damage against a boss) in Hard, Deadly, and Insane difficulty. Which means beating the game on the top three hardest difficulties and doing so really well!

You need to work to cosplay as Toriyama’s true love.

Sexy Santa Soldier is here, of course. Probably the only stupid fan service costume to make sense for a game beginning on Christmas Eve. This one gets unlocked by clearing the game on any mode and finding it hidden later in the game as well.

The Overdive Suit, other than maximum cleavage fit, would be an alright dumb sci-fi outfit for the stupid ass sci-fi business we’re conducting, compared to the hobo clubbing outfit Aya is wearing by default. So of course it’s locked behind completing the game five goddamn times! Yeah, no thanks, Square-Enix. No thanks.

Finally, we have the only other A Ranked defense wear in the Knight Armor. Yeah. Real authentic, other than the lack of pants and the fact it immediately explodes off Aya like she’s Arthur from Ghouls ‘n Ghosts. This requires completing the game on Deadly difficulty. Which is only unlocked by first beating the game on Hard. So two playthroughs.

And that concludes our time fiddling with the CTI master computer and checking out all the shitty costumes people have almost definitely wanked to at some point. Tune in next time where we’ll fart around the CTI building, chat with staff, offhandedly discover the entire world, not just Manhattan, may be in the middle of an apocalypse. Also lots of moaning and sighning… Good things await.

Video: Episode 1 Opening Cutscene

White Eider Costume Concept Art – A rare look at Aya Brea’s mom jeans before the terrible incident that scarred them for life.

TDI Note: To you in the future reading this in the LP Archive. If you'll check out the LP's Table of Contents, at the bottom are entries for Datalogs. For readability sake, I sequestered these updates off at the end of the LP update contents. If you're following along, you ought to check out each episode's corresponding Datalog update after the first new Episode of The 3rd Birthday.

Or don't! It's a bunch of bullshit fluff that has very poor fact checking as the game continues. Like to the point of referencing events that never happen, dropped plotlines, and shuffled events. They're mostly there for completion sake. You're probably okay skipping them if the deep poorly written lore of The 3rd Birthday is not for you.