Part 48: .hack Quarantine - //Update 09 - Δ - Reincarnated Purgatorial Altar//Update 09
This is it. We're in the endgame of Quarantine. Today's dungeon is an epic affair, and this is not the shitty Internet use of the word. It is longer and harder than any dungeon we've been in to date - 10 floors, and each and every one of them is stuffed to the gills with data bugs.
Truly, a fitting final dungeon to this game series. Just in case that wasn't enough, we also have a boss fight at the bottom. Come stocked full of supplies, ready for the long haul.
: You're going to see Harald.
This is a soft Point Of No Return. Saying "yes" here won't instantly teleport you to the dungeon, but the game is being nice and pointing out that you've entered the endgame. If you have anything left undone, go and do it now while you still have a chance to do so.
: I'm going too! OK? I've gotta ask him myself what he was trying to do, and why this happened!
For what it's worth, it's currently Christmas Eve in the game. So instead of partying with their families, they're trying to end the Network Crisis.
You're only supposed to have enough of these cores to get into the dungeon. Because I cheated in 99 of each virus core, we could have come here as soon as the game told us about the keywords.
However, Quarantine will not allow you to sequence break. Obtaining each virus core, even if they were instantly discarded like the ones I got were, triggers an event flag. If you somehow enter this field and get to the bottom of the dungeon before getting those virus cores? The game soft locks when you step through the purple mist door.
This happened the first time I played through this game because I was an impatient idiot who had to cheat to win. (This is still me.) So imagine my surprise when I lost two hours of hard fought progress, while also spoiling what happens at the bottom due to how it soft locks.
Anyway, because we were good little players and triggered the proper event flags, we're going to get a neat cutscene instead of the PS2/emulator crashing.
The game is decidedly done fucking around. I abused savestates like crazy to get through this dungeon because doing it the way the developers intended was not going to be fun.
This actually bit me in the ass in the postgame when I had to come back here twice to get different things that I should have gotten the first time through.
Mercifully, the floors are compact.
I'm sure you guys didn't think we'd get all the way through Quarantine without seeing mimics at least once? Their physical tolerance is merely a joke at this point. In addition to Wiseman, Kite is also a pretty powerful caster - even without Wavemaster gear.
"Surprisingly" I got many chests and risky chests on my way down.
But when the alternative is fighting data bugs who can kill you in one hit...
The entrance to the floor is off to the south.
Every fight in here is a giant slog, and if you're unlucky, then you're going to lose experience and possibly even levels while fighting. Past a certain point, I started save stating in the middle of battles just to avoid the horrible effects from using data drain too much.
The entrance to the floor is beyond the giant arm off to the left.
The last new enemy type of the dungeon finally comes out to play down on floor 9.
We could have been a lot worse off at the bottom. Doing it legit, you're going to be full yellow with a giant red streak and "DANGER" flashing below. That's the point at which you're going to start seeing Game Overs if you're massively unlucky.
Video: *** WATCH THIS VIDEO ***
Watch that video. Watch that video. Watch that video.
Watch that video.
Watch. That. Video.
It is one of the most important cutscenes in the game.
After all, we're meeting Harald.
The fact that the faces were cut out of these pictures makes it a lot creepier than it would otherwise.
: Who goes there? Who are you?
The way the game makes Harald speak is a little more disjointed.
"Wh o go e s t her e? W ho ar e you ?"
That would get really annoying to read, so I'm condensing it for readability.
: This... This is Harald?
: My name is Harald.
: What?! Hey, you're nothing but a piece of rock! You're responsible for the "Cursed Wave" aren't you?! All right then - fix this thing!
: No. The passage of time is irreversible. Birth or death. Now only these two choices remain.
: What? What are you saying?
: Aura the Child of Light. Emma's daughter. My daughter. Just a little more.
: It's no use. This guy is totally gone.
Harald makes a lot of sense if you know what he's talking about. He's actually telling them how to fix the Cursed Wave like Blackrose asked, but being a fragmented AI he's... well...
: Aura, I have something I want to ask you. You said that I shouldn't fight Cubia. But why?
: Cubia is the shadow. When there is light burning in the darkness, a shadow is born.
There was going to be a screenshot here. When Aura is talking about shadows, the game cuts to the floor behind Kite and Blackrose and focuses on their shadows.
Thanks to an emulation error, there are no shadows.
: When the bracelet appeared in this world, Cubia was born as well. The bracelet and Cubia are opposite sides of the same coin.
: Cubia must have already known that, and that's why it kept running away...
: Cubia will no longer run away. Because... Because I have finally been released.
: What do you mean?
: Massive data believed to be the Wave is heading in your direction! That's the last one! Destroy it!
Hands up if you actually think it's the Wave coming to attack us. We've seen Aura three times since Infection ended. Each time we've seen her, what has come following shortly after like a lost puppy?
: Traveler, take this to heart.
: Run away. It is not too late!
: We'll defeat it, and end this!
: No. It's not... That is -
I was going to link to a scene from Moulin Rouge with those exact words, but apparently youtube has cracked down hard on scenes from that movie. So just imagine the scene where Harald and Satine sing The Show Must Go On.
God that movie was dumb, but I can't help but watch it occasionally. Apparently I have a soft spot for Baz Luhrmann jukebox operas. Go figure.
Anyway, on with the show!
After Harald exploded, the floor started collapsing.
I'm pretty sure Aura could have saved us, but she opted not to.
Ever wondered what's beneath the game's fields, down in the infinite expanse of nothing?
Oh it's just Cubia.
Wait, just how big is it?
Cubia is now so big that we can actually walk on its tentacle roots. Also if you listened to me when I told you about six times to watch a video, you'd see that the walls around Cubia are pulsating. It's really creepy and kinda cool.
Cubia is ultimately still the same boss. Sure the numbers have been boosted a bit, but at this point you have no excuses for dying to it.
You're also given a breather between killing each core. Again, no excuses for losing at this point.
There's really nothing to say at this point.
In fact, your team should be so powerful that you can just ignore the Gomoras. Nuke the shit out of the Core with whatever it's not tolerant against and it may live a whole 10 seconds before swapping tolerances.
That was the third core we killed and Cubia still looks ready to tumble. The fourth time we're not attacking some disembodied core, however.
We're stabbing Cubia's chest roots. Though 4000 health seems a little low, doesn't it?
For the first time since Mutation, Cubia also gets a new attack. Or maybe he always had these attacks and I simply never noticed them before. Curse and paralysis aren't very threatening, regardless.
Cubia is done running. Instead of retreating, it simply roared and completely destroyed the landscape instead.
: I guess it's not running away.
: Fine. Then let's settle this.
: For just once, I'll stick with you 'til the end.
This line doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Blackrose WANTED to come down here, so where did this "for just once" thing come from?
Now this is a more proper boss fight. He's still ultimately just a sack of HP, though. Even 9999 isn't very scary. We've been fighting bosses with that since Infection! Every 1500 or so HP, Cubia will use one of his moves that I covered way back in Mutation. That typically means you have just enough time for Kite to heal everyone with potions between each attack.
Cubia also has one final surprise in for us. Armageddon is a move unique to this final form.
What would a JRPG be without a (pseudo-)final boss that causes Armageddon?
Anyway, lower his health all the way to 0 and...
Cubia heals to full with this asshole of a move. Aura told you he wasn't running away. There's only one way out of this fight.
Video: *** WATCH THIS VIDEO GUYS ***
More than the one I told you guys to watch earlier, watch this one. Serious Plot Shit happens.
: Do you think we can really defeat it?
Kite's bracelet flashes and he looks at it in understanding.
: You want me to do what?! Hey, what the hell are you saying?!
: If they're two sides of the same coin, then this would settle it!
: But the bracelet, it's...
: Forget about the bracelet! We're in danger!
You really have to admire Kite's suicidal determination.
: Oh, all right! Fine, I'll do it! I'll do it, so shut up!
You know, Cubia is remarkably polite about all this. He could have been pelting them with attacks, but he's perfectly content to watch them do this.
Though the instant that Blackrose starts attacking the bracelet, it starts roaring in pain.
Finally the bracelet breaks with a pretty powerful explosion!
You can see the destroyed bit flying off just above the rest of the bracelet.
Kite is screaming in agony the entire time too, plus as the scene fades you can hear the game's low health alarm ringing.
The individual pieces of the bracelet are spiraling out of the center mass, like a reverse black hole.
Then the bracelet shoots out a single large ball of energy. You can also already see the background breaking down into its composite data.
The shadow Kite growing in Cubia's true core explodes. You could see this Kite as far back as the first appearance of Cubia, making it a fairly sly bit of foreshadowing about the connection between the bracelet and Cubia.
With no core, Cubia starts to disintegrate as well.
We won, but...
: We've lost our joker...
: ...But the enemy lost Cubia as well. And we have Aura. I'm sure there is a way to defeat the Wave.
: I've called the operation personnel. Let's have this conversation back in Ω Server Root Town.
NEXT TIME: The conclusion to the .hack tetralogy.