The Let's Play Archive

The 3rd Birthday

by The Dark Id

Part 12: The Ol' Stinky Beans

We rejoin Aya on the rooftops of Spanish Harlem. Gabby has flown off to uhh… don’t worry about it. We should probably rejoin the rest of the SWAT team. They’re probably wondering where… Il-Nam Carste… has gone off to on his own. It’s a good thing Aya’s Overdive also magically links her radio back to HQ and overrides communications on the body she’s inhabiting. It’d be real confusing if people just started randomly jabbering to a secondary operations team in the middle of a battle.

Music: Arise Within You – for The 3rd Birthday –

[Watch out for the poison clouds.]
[Avoid the clouds and keep going!]
We're gonna get slaughtered! Requesting backup!
This fog! I can't move!

So the Stinker’s main gimmick is they crap out localized clouds of deadly poo gas from the sky. In order to demonstrate this poison fog, Aya needs to wander into the middle of it and take in a nice big lung full. Stinker gas, beyond presumably smelling none too well given the title seemingly dubbed by a six year old, is quite deadly. About 6-7 seconds is enough to asphyxiate Aya or any of the SWAT AI that goes off the rails and wanders into the cloud.

After we’ve gotten a real good mouthful of the deadly neurotoxin as the tutorial, Aya automatically Overdives into Mr. Chan Pinzlon battling down on street level. What happens to poor Il-Nam back on the rooftops? Well, he immediately chokes to death, of course. He was left in the middle of a cloud of nerve gas. What did you think would happen to him? Don’t worry, he knew what he was signing up for – a magic girl from the future mind controlling him to serve as a minor demonstration of Twisted nerve agents.

After battling some Slackers stalking out from the toxic clouds (they are either immune or… don’t breathe… it isn’t as though they have mouths), the team chime in with some advice.

[There's a good chance that's the one emitting the clouds.]

In a rather disorienting move, Aya is once again automatically Overdived back to the rooftops, where a pair of… excuse me, “Placido Frank”? That’s the name you’re going with there? Is Zlimpo Dickson fighting the next block over? Christ. And I’m not even going to touch “Txomin Eo”.

Anyway! We’re back on the rooftops. There are now a pair of snipers, also equipped with two-shot rifles. However, they have left their infinite ammo magazine crate back at home. The operation was quite rushed, after all.

The game does not make it explicitly clear, as we initially warp into the sniper facing completely away from our objective, but the Stinkers we want are actually floating quite high up in the skybox. Turning the camera in their general direction isn’t enough, we’ve got to actively look up into the sky.

It’s not really clear because other, non-essential Stinkers are also warping into the area and flying about. It doesn’t help that this is the only time in the game where we’ve got to look high up for any sort of enemies.

Stinkers themselves are incredibly weak. A single shot from a rifle is enough to kill any Stinker. But really, 3-4 shots with a pistol would also do the trick.

Slaying one of the target Stinkers will instantly clear all of the toxic gas it was producing. That’s now nerve agents work, right? Shut off the source and it simply dissipates into the ether instantaneously?

As I mentioned earlier, there are also non-essential Stinkers warping into the area. These are… pretty much just crappy Wads. They shoot energy bolts that drain perhaps a 10th of Aya’s health bar at best. They go down in a few shots. They’re not particularly fast. They are more of a nuisance than anything. I guess they still smell foul though. Otherwise that name would just be silly!

As we clear the area of four total toxic gas Stinkers, the streets below will clear of gas, allowing Aya (and other NPCs in theory, but not practice) to clear out all the Orbs from ground level and open up a path further into the ruins of the district. Exiting the map will bring Chapter 1 to an end.

Music: Ruin

[There are orbs up ahead. If you destroy them all, you should be able to progress.]
[Yes, but look at all those enemies! Get ready for some serious fighting, Aya!]
[Blank, what's the situation up ahead?]
[I'm detecting enemies everywhere!]
So you are saying there are enemies…

[Think back to the hardest battle of your life. This will be even worse. If you can't do this, this mission will be over.]
*thinks* Not counting anything in my forgotten past, I guess that would be the Helix Twisted in that parking lot? Emily Jefferson was a bit of a pushover.
[Aya… What are you talking about?]
Oh… Right… Never mind.

[There's no way you can do this alone. Move the troops to advantageous positions and use Overdive!]
Gabrielle, where are you right now. I mean, in the past?
[I dunno. Hard to say. It was a long day and I never did the part where I saved you from a helicopter.]
…Shouldn’t the future have changed then if that had never happened?
[Aya, sweetie. Don’t worry about it too much.]

Since we were dived into the body of a higher ranked SWAT member, we can wander over to the survivors in the safe room alley and get their thoughts on the mission. Jesus Christ, look at those goofy names…

Not Thelonious Cray!? I know that guy!
He should be on his way to the area up ahead.
[Cray's still alive, Aya! That's excellent!]
Cray and I were pals back in the Academy. Having him here is like having a whole new platoon.
Harlem's been destroyed. That's where I grew up.
Wasn't your grandfather part of the mafia?
Yep. Sicilians don't forgive those who hurt their family. Whoever or whatever they may be. I'll crush all who dare dishonor my family!

Spoilers: Erskine Reinagle, NYPD SWAT Team associate of the Harlem Sicilian Mafia would go on to sit in this room and never be seen again. Still a more compelling tale than The Godfather Part 3.

One of the magic future laptops has made its way to this forward outpost the SWAT members have set up in this alleyway. We may as well take a moment to update our future Facebook status and upgrade some gear.

Here’s our current nebulous DNA splicing stats at current. I don’t think there are any new abilities to mention. I did have the great luck of having the RNG spit out no less than six OE boards with malignant nodes that I had to throw in the trash. Malignant OE boards will either give you said bum stat (HP Down, Liberation fills slower, other handicaps) or only level down the node it’s replacing. I have no idea why they exist or why you’d use them. But that goes for a lot of the upgrade system.

Weapon wise, the SWAT rifle continues to become an Impact powerhouse and the magnum murders fools even harder. The sniper rifle that Gabrielle and the rooftop Stinker shooters were equipped with has become unlocked. But ahh… the rifle is extremely situational and has all of six shots where Aya must plant herself in the ground to fire.

Also I suppose Aya is wearing her jacket for her winter outings according to cutscenes. We’ll just have Gabrielle or someone back at CTI slip it on. That won’t interrupt the Overdive process and kill her like disconnecting in The Matrix, right?

In any case, once Aya’s inventory management in the future is updated for the past, we’re free to continue onward to the Babel in the next block over.

New Music: Time of Insanity

Welcome to Chapter 2 of Episode 2. This area is a rather large ruin leading uphill. We’ve got to destroy a trio of Orbs along the way while a non-stop assault of Wads and Rollers poor into the area against a steady stream of expendable members of the NYPD’s finest.

There are a trio of new Feats for this chapter. But I’m not going to share them all right now, as they spoil something absurd that is coming shortly. The first Feat involves minimizing the use of Overdive during this chapter. Which, despite only being a Level 2 Feat, is extremely hard to pull off with a New Game Aya Brea, for reasons that will become apparent shortly. I believe the maximum is four Overdives into other bodies. Oh yes, Overdive kills count as well. Yeah… not happening.

After the first batch of enemies and accompanying Orb, Aya ascends to a higher level of the ruins (you know Manhattan Island, with those rolling hills it has up north) she comes upon another new enemy. This one gets absolutely no introduction or special acknowledgement. Poor guy. Meet…

Meet the Bean. Umm… It is err… It’s… it is two gigantic butts connected end-on-end. I mean… that’s what you all are seeing, right? I’m not projecting.

Also surprise! There’s a giant purple mutant penis that springs from the butts. I bet you didn’t see that coming. It’s highly twisted monster design.

The mean Bean is essentially a stationary artillery battery. In butt-mode, it’s completely invincible. But once the phallic growth reveals itself, it’ll begin shooting damaging green energy orbs in Aya’s direction. These hit a lot harder than a Wad’s energy shots and will break Aya’s poise, stunning her briefly (and a follow-up shot landing will knock her on her ass.)

If the Bean’s target is turtling behind cover or out of range from its normal shots, the creature has a secondary fire where it will drop a line of exploding shots, not unlike the Rover’s explosives, doing about the same damage is two of its normal shots. This will also knock Aya on her butt and has a fairly good chance of shredding her outfit. Not cool.

Beans can be handled with essentially the same exact tactics as the Roller. Grenades work wonders in setting up an Overdive kill. The only difference is the stun time is much shorter and the grenade has to be thrown when the Bean is out of its shell.

Unlike the Stinkers, who only appear in this chapter, Beans join Rollers, Wads, and Slackers in becoming regular enemies and will be a frequent obstacle as Aya continues her assault through the region towards the Babel. Once we’ve taken out the second Orb in our path, a new wrinkle presents itself.

[What a lifesaver! We can use the satellite cannon!]
[Aya, dive into someone using an aiming device. Use the satellite as a weapon to shoot lasers.]

…So I feel like we missed an important part of the briefing here. Apparently, the SWAT team on location has access to a fucking ORBITAL CANNON. What, you didn’t hear about how the NYPD had a space laser deployed in geosynchronous orbit over Manhattan? This universe’s Manhattan has already had like three 9/11s! Two involving crazy ass monsters. They had to step up their game.

So anyway, we can just have Aya possess Vincenz Meier here, who has a targeting device for the NYPD’s Ion Cannon. It has infinite ammo and can be used to paint as many targets as we want in this area. Above is the farthest effective range Aya can paint targets with the Satellite Cannon. But hey, it’s a PSP game. That range will do.

The Satellite Cannon takes about three seconds to charge up the signal, but we can hold and adjust the targeting vector still. Releasing the button will unleash the space laser blast and instantly vaporize any enemy on the field in a single shot.

Rollers? Orbs? Beans? All toast in a single shot, because it is a goddamn laser from the heavens. It has infinite ammo, is effective for the entire duration of this map, and has zero cooldown beyond the three seconds it takes to charge the next wave. It is incredibly overpowered, but you know… it is actually real fun to just annihilate scores of Twisted with the ol’ SOL-740. Indeed the second Feat of this mission is to just go hog wild and kill at least eight enemies with the Hammer of Dawn.

Now, orbital cannons are actually not new to the franchise. There was a satellite cannon at end of Parasite Eve 2. In that game, its use had to be authorized by the President of the United States. It was also powerful enough to demolish the entire small town most of the game took place in and penetrate the doomsday bunker the back half of the game took place in as well.

I have no idea if this is supposed to be the same satellite cannon because, despite all the inane datalogs and over explanation for things that could just be written off as being part of a video game… there’s literally nothing about the space laser’s origin or function beyond it just kind of showing up out of nowhere in the hands of some nobody SWAT team member.

Of course that opens up the plot hole of why they aren’t just bombarding the Twisted strongholds from space when it’s already established there are ion cannons just hanging out with enough abundance that local law enforcement can be entrusted with them. But, The 3rd Birthday cannot be reasoned with or remain coherent or narratively consistent for more than fifteen minutes, as it demonstrates time and again.

Satellite based slaughter aside, eventually Aya burns her way through the Twisted ranks thanks to low orbit based weaponry and comes to the side of the main Spanish Harlem Babel itself, which hosts a trio of Orbs clustered on its side. Unfortunately, the Satellite Cannon is unable to target anything on even the mildest of an incline. It’s not like it is obscured by anything above. It's still a straight shot from the sky. The targeting just wigs out if it goes above Aya’s position. Though to be fair, Aya Brea is not trained in the casual use of space based weapons of mass destruction.

Regardless, they’re just common Orbs and are taken out easily enough the old fashioned way with standard firearms. I hope you all enjoyed our time with the orbital cannon cuz it shows up exactly one more time in a future episode, then vanishes from the game just as suddenly as it entered the fray. It’s not even a special unlockable weapon. Wouldn’t want the player to have too much fun with The 3rd Birthday now, would we?

[Wait! I haven't analyzed the data!]
I'm going.

Well, that seems an incredible stupid thing to haphazardly jump into, Aya. But you’re the one with the Quantum Leap abilities.

Music ends…

So welcome to inside the Babel. Hey, isn’t this the pocket dimension where Tidus and friends fought Yu Yevon? Aya, just look for the gigantic Dad Sword and step on the Space Tick so we can sort this mess out.

No wait… there weren’t scores of people eternally falling through a spiraling void. Wait, is this the Everfall from Dragon’s Dogma? No… wait… That’s Capcom. And a good game. That cannot be it.

Aya Brea herself has a bit bigger concerns than her current location. Namely…

…the Twisted Queen is also base jumping inside the Babel. Also by the way, the Babel have Twisted Queens. That’s a thing.

So Aya, how are your marksmanship while freefalling scores on the range? Is that a thing Cray trained you for before he managed to get killed on a mission that had artillery support from space?

The Queen demonstrates her ability to convert bodies into pure energy and devour them for a mid-afternoon bite to eat. I suppose you have to get creative when you spill your snacks in zero gravity.

Tune in next time when Aya Brea wings it in a zero-g battle against the Queen of Spanish Harlem for some reason! The 3rd Birthday – Welp, I Guess This is Happening Now: The Game!

Video: Part 12 Highlight Reel

Bean – Why not just name it Butt? At least that would be funny.