Back at the beach, Baofu points out that they may have killed Joker, but the larger problem is Tatsuzou, the elder Sudou, who was on the phone talking about Joker before the killings even restarted. Unfortunately, Katsuya wants to call recent events in to the precinct, and the two get into a fight that leads to the party splitting up. Maya agrees to stay on the hunt for Tatsuzou, but Baofu isn’t even ready with the next step, and says she should check in at work while he gets ready. Meanwhile, Jun (still lingering) is curious about Tatsuya but not about to follow the four of us, and stays behind at the beach, for all we could use a fifth party member. So now we only have one party member, and you can probably imagine why we got it into our heads to put off any upgrades and grinding. Again: I understand where the problem started, but in time…
Chapter 16: The Dim Flow of Irresistible Fate
Despite the immediacy of the preview from the last chapter’s ending, it’s actually May, one month later. Sure enough, AVALANCHE has brought a small army to take the Corel reactor. Huh, it looks like Shinra really is going to destroy Corel because of terrorist action in the reactor! I always thought that was some bullshit of Scarlet’s? Even weirder, BC never actually calls attention to the connection? As you’ll see, there’s a reason we never see Scarlet destroy the town, but they never even mention it, either!
Naturally, a whole four Turks have been deployed to stop AVALANCHE: Shotgun, Tseng, Reno and Rude. For Minerva’s sake… Once again, this is the army’s job, or at the very least SOLDIER’s job, not the Turks. AVALANCHE has a huge armed force in there! Our team of four splits up and heads in toward the reactor.
Baofu tells the party that the younger Sudou is housed in a sanitarium on “Mt. Mifune,” which is one of the few names in the game that seem to have been translated into an entirely different name. This is supposed to be Mt. Katatsumari from P2IS, where we found the Caracol and Joker launched Xibalba. There’s no way to squeeze “Mifune” out of “Katatsumari,” at least not in English, so I’m going to bet this has something to do with the length of the name. Either that or they were changed between JP versions for reasons that are totally lost on me!
Speaking of “length”: do we really have to go back to this stupid forest mountain? Like, at all? Do you have any idea how long I’ve been there already?
Chapter 15: To the Distant Skies and Beyond
Well this chapter promises to be an odd experience. Like a lot of Crisis Core’s stuff, we know exactly how this is going to end, but have never had the chance to play in it, so it could still be interesting. We’re already heading in the right direction, in my mind, by turning the rocket launch into a major publicity event for Shrinra, giving us a new perspective on an incident the writers could have slept through. Of course, FFVII also gave me the impression that the launch took place way more than four years ago… Oh well, this at least promised to be interesting.
Unfortunately, in hindsight, I think Chapter 15 ended up being one of the game’s most boring chapters, but let me explain why that is as we go along.
It’s April, three months later yet again, and Cid is flying the Bronco in an air show before the big rocket launch. Shotgun has been assigned as Rufus Shinra’s escort for the day, and he does nothing but complain about the money being wasted the entire time. Cid ends his show and comes over to be introduced to Rufus, carrying his fucking partisan with him wherever he goes. Seriously man, even in the plane? And if you thought Yuffie’s portrait was too young, check out Cid, who can’t be past twenty-five yet.
…Wait, hold on, Cid from FFVII was 32? The man acted like he’s pushing fifty! Oh, Square… Square… Square… As it happens, the Cid we’re looking at here is twenty-nine at this point, but still, I would have guessed he’d be 45 based on FFVII! (Please note, if you go to the FFWiki, that Cid’s listed age for Before Crisis is his age at the start of Before Crisis, twenty-six. We’re three years into the story at this point.)
Our first encounter in the dungeon was the Helpful Slime from the original game, who does the conversation tutorial again. Guess I’m opening this post with mechanics, huh?
Conversation with demons is much the same in this version of the game (although Pacts are called Contracts, ala SMT), with two major changes. First off, everyone has only one interaction they can use solo, instead of four. I suspect this was also the case in the PSX version of Innocent Sin, because it makes way more sense with the team-up conversation system than the version we got on the PSP, where everyone already had 4 options each and the team-ups seemed superfluous. Unfortunately, this does often catch you in situations where there’s literally nothing you can do to manipulate a demon to a particular mood. One thing that does feel like a change is that team-ups now produce different interactions depending on the order you select members, which took us a while to grok to: Maya -> Katsuya is not the same as Katsuya -> Maya! Secondly, the emotion grid isn’t visible in the PSX version. That’s only screwed us up once (it was me, for the record), so I can’t say it’s been all that awful, though I would rather have been available.
Footnote, but whenever the game gives you items in this game, it refers to them both by their name and their category, so a Medicine isn’t just “Medicine,” but “Item/Medicine.” I bring this up because all cards are referred to as “Trt./”. It took me an embarrassing amount of time to realize that stood for “Tarot,” thanks to the silent second T!
Chapter 14 – Each and Everyone’s Resolve and Wishes
Shinra took their time setting up this operation – it’s now January 3rd, a whole three months after Verdot’s report. Shotgun arrives in Wutai and confirms that she’s here alone. One person. You sent one person. Unless this is some scheme to fuck with the mole, this is ridiculous. Speak of the devil: inside AVALANCHE HQ, the mole is passing on the news of the incoming Shinra attack. They point out that SOLDIER is ruined now after Sephiroth’s “death.” If AVALANCHE can just stop the Turks, Shinra will be nearly defenceless, since we’ve established the Shinra armed forces are afraid of the sight of grass.
A complication enters the scene moments later: Yuffie Kisaragi, who has discovered the AVALANCHE HQ accidentally and just as unfortunately gotten one of the troopers to chase her into the streets, where he runs into Shotgun. Shotgun spots the trooper and says: “This operation will fail if he alerts his comrades.” Good things bodies fade into the ether when they die!
Here I sit, at the end of our first session, and before I go to bed, I force myself to stay awake another few minutes, because I know I have to open the Journal with: “Oh dear.” But I’m getting ahead of myself. Welcome to Persona 2: Eternal Punishment.
Chapter 13 – The Scar of Calm’s Destruction
We pick up exactly where we left off. Shotgun is holing out in the reactor with Zack and Cloud’s bodies, waiting for the incoming “medical team,” cough cough, that is definitely not going to be headed by a mad scientist. Unfortunately, a whack of Grand Horn monsters arrive (in waves of two, three and three) attempting to kidnap Cloud and Zack before Hojo can! How dare! These two are company property! During these fights, Ririn uses Bio twice, wiping them out fast but leaving Shotgun on virtually half MP for the rest of the mission! Yeah, starting to figure that’s Bioga, not just regular Bio.
Hojo and Tseng both arrive on-scene, Shotgun pointing out that Hojo shouldn’t even be here. Tseng responds that, “the president has issued a top-secret order.” Shotgun shouts, “Top-secret order?!” Yes, Shotgun, that’s what they call things I can’t tell you. Nevertheless, Tseng promises to brief her later? Right in front of Hojo??
After stocking up our items for the final charge, we returned to Xibalba. The demons get more powerful from this point on, but they still weren’t a match for our overpowered spells. Unfortunately, the mazes also got harder and longer, with damage squares to boot. Our first flashback in the latter half of the dungeon saw us in the past, with Big Sis looking after Jun while they wait for someone to pick him up. They talk, and it’s clear that Jun doesn’t like his mother for some reason, but they’re interrupted by the arrival of a man who resembles Jun’s “father” from the present day, just a little more slovenly. The man tries to introduce himself, but Jun interrupts him, telling Big Sis that this is actually his “uncle,” which the downtrodden man doesn’t confirm or deny. The present-day Jun once again keels over in pain as video game amnesiacs are apt to do, unsure of the facts of the matter. After the fact, Lisa notes that the “uncle” looks just like the clocktower ghost, and also that Jun’s father supposedly wrote In Lak’ech, and also that Ms. Ideal said the man who died in the clocktower wrote In Lak’ech. Kyle and I really appreciated that, since a lot of these details had been lost on us in the intervening months. In short: Jun’s real father was the teacher’s ghost from the clock tower.