October 20, 2015

[Game 054] Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei II (NES - 1990) (SNES Remake)

Translation by DDSTranslation

Like an old man about to soak his weary bones in a hot Epsom salt bath, I was looking forward to easing back into familiar territory with the second half of Megami Tensei.  After two mediocre JRPGs, a solid dungeon crawler was just what the doctor ordered and the prescription has only been improved upon.  I loaded the save state that I had made right at the end of part one and was greeted with a message saying that my data had been corrupted.  A couple days later after I stopped flipping out, I tried again and noticed that it wasn't really a typical error message for true data loss.  No, this particular message was part of the story and I kicked myself for spending the last two days destroying half the basement in a fit of rage.

"Fool me once, shame on... shame on you.
Fool me... you can't get fooled again!"

The data error is the reason why all of our stats get reset and so Gumdrop and I were back to square one, which meant gaining levels and collecting demons.  At the onset, the first of the changes from part one was noticed.  The classic first-person perspective was gone and replaced with a standard overhead view.

Hey, this looks like a JRPG.  Noooooooo!

Well, at least the combat and demon fusion components are still intact.  As before, only certain demons can be recruited; evil and/or bestial types are strictly off limits.

Too bad — this one would have made some
interesting, if completely disgusting, fusions.

It didn't take too long for me to create my first fused demon.  As it came off the assembly line, I turned to Gumdrop and asked if perhaps she didn't have somewhere else to be for an hour.

Mmmm... better make it two.

As we progressed, the feeling of déjà vu crept in as we were told that we had to retrieve the Orb of Silence from the Minotaur's body, exactly what we did at the beginning of the first game.  Lo and behold, we did come across the man-bull, who slammed us with the same insult he used before.

Oh god, *sob*, it hurts even more the second time.

After putting him out to pasture, it turned out I was just playing a video game called Devil Buster all this time with my best bud, Gob.  Defeating the Minotaur released a creature named Pazuzu, who thanked me for rescuing him and had some important information for me.

Awwwww, but I was just about to get to level 2.

Pazuzu says that real demons, just like in Devil Buster, have invaded the for real world, for reals this time.  Luckily, fighting and allying demons works exactly the same as in the video game, right down to there already existing demon-fusing temples.  Oh, and the demons I already had in Devil Buster?  Yeah, Pazuzu "downloads" those into my computer so I can use them in "reality".  Now, Pazuzu, I may not be the sharpest light bulb in the drawer, but I have watched Inception, so ya ain't foolin' no one up around in here.

The hell I can't.

So with all these demons running around the shelter, one would think that people might be panicking or fleeing or something of that nature?  Naw, everyone just stays in their completely empty rooms by themselves.  Mmmm, so realistic, Pazuzu.  No, no, really, I'm just completely immersed in this virtual worl — oh, I mean REAL world.  Anyway, Gob, being a cowardly sort, insisted that we can find safety with his girlfriend, as she's "pretty smart" and "always has a plan for stuff like this".  However, when we reached her room, she was losing her shit and begging Gob to take her with us.  A moment of awkward silence passed and I glanced at Gob, who was shifting uncomfortably and making no attempt to mask the regret in his face.  Then, without saying a word, we turned and left the poor girl to her eventual death, I suppose.  In the corridor, I looked at Gob and give him my best "WTF, man?" face.  He avoided eye contact with me, shuffling his feet and murmuring under his breath.

"I've made a huge mistake."

To get out of the shelter, we have to beat some guy who is performing experiments or something on the shelter residents.

How many times have I uttered
those words? (in my dreams)

Getting the Shenster to start thinking about sexy sex is a great distraction tactic and one that worked well enough to see my demise.  I was then treated to quite possibly the coolest death scene ever, riding a boat on the beautiful river Styx whilst a soft, whimsical melody eased my journey into the afterlife.  Unfortunately, Charon shows up and wants a bribe to send me back to the game.  If I deny him, I get to drift for a little bit more and then the game resets.  They should have had it just continue to loop the river journey over and over, signifying the endless nothingness that is death (but really I just wanted to chill out to it).

Fuck off, Charon, you're harshing my mellow.

Our second attempt at getting out of the shelter was more successful in that it was totally successful.  I guess I should have been suspicious that the place we were living was called a shelter, because I was greeted with a scene of devastation so grim it would make the residents of Vault 13 jealous.

Love the ruins under the green
(poison? radioactive? algae?) water.

Ahh, now that we're out and about in the wasteland and have room to stretch our legs a little, let's delve a little into some of the upgrades that this sequel has to offer.  As is to be expected from one of these multi-part remakes, the core of the game remains the same and the mechanics just tweaked here and there.  First off, there are more slots available for character equipment, most notably two weapon slots, one for a gun and one for a sword.  Each weapon type is strong versus certain types of creatures and so there's a little bit of experimenting available during combat.  Demon fusion has also received a facelift, now allowing for triple fusion, though demons must meet certain alignment criteria before utilizing this option.  But my favourite addition is that of a new demon class called Element.  Demons of this type cannot be recruited and must be created in the fusion temple.  It's quite easy to make an elemental demon, simply fuse together two demons of the same class and an elemental of some kind will be made.  Elementals have two things going for them; they're very cheap in magnetite cost should one want them in the party and, more importantly, they fuse well with other demons to create strong, rare types.

They also have no problems
getting down with their bad self.

The top-down perspective used at the beginning sticks around, but only for wandering the overworld and in cities.  Going into buildings and caves sees the return of the familiar first-person framework for which I am thankful.  Gob and I got stuck on our starting island; some huge sea beast required us to find the Fire Seal before it'd ferry us away.  Unexpectedly, Gob's girlfriend ended up having it, saying that some girl told her to give it to him.  She understandably wants to know who the heck this girl is, especially considering what a scuzzbucket Gob is.

Guess who left without saying a word again.

After we crossed the river, we learnt about a witch hiding out in Tokyo Tower and who was causing all sorts of trouble (as witches are wont to do).  First we needed to recruit a powerful beast called Orthrus, who functions a lot like Cerberus in the first game; a high level ally far beyond any of the other demons I had at this point.  Sure, we could have gone straight to Tokyo Tower to deal with the witch problem, but I had other plans for Orthrus for the time being.

Like battles to the death for cold, hard macca.

After making a few cool Gs, we stopped by another fine locale to get supplies for our trip to Tokyo Tower.

I'm just picking up for a friend.

But, ya know, I had a funny feeling that after dealing with the witch, we'd lose Orthrus, so, despite its insane magnetite requirements, we wandered around for a bit, watching in glee as Orthie tore up any enemy we came across with its many special abilities.  Sometimes enemies would drop metal cards and I recalled that such things would allow me to gamble, so we searched for a casino.  We found a city comprised mostly of casinos and after rejecting the lame slots and high/low games, found the place where we could use our metal cards.

Mastermind for a master mind.

Now, I'm just merely competent at code breaking games, but I'll take this over random luck games any day of the week.  I blew through my stack of metal cards in no time, either failing outright or getting it on the fifth attempt, netting me some macca.  I'm was sure that solving it sooner will get me more than just money, so we kept our eyes peeled for any shiny rectangles.  At any rate, it was time to get our witch hunt, so Orthrus shredded the barrier around Tokyo Tower and we faced the horrors that the witch had summoned.  All those drugs we had made the monstrosities a little less scary and, like, man, you know, we're all part of the same cosmic energy and stuff, ya know, and I bet these abominations just want a little friendship.

Come on, you guys, I'm sure the screaming
ball of disembodied heads is a great
guy once you get to know them.

When we reached the top of the tower, the witch turned out to be none other than Gumdrop (what a twist!)!  Heated words were exchanged between Gob and Gumdrop as both tried to curry my favour.  Long-time readers will have no doubts in their mind as to whose side I was on.

Oh, Gob, I've always considered you an enemy.

In true Gob fashion, he took half the macca, a special ring, and Orthrus.  Didn't even care, I was back with Gummy and that's all that mattered.  Having her back on the team was very distracting for me and I ended up getting paralyzed.  This was bad news as I had neither magic spell nor potion in which to cure the ailment and it doesn't seem to fade with time.  In a desperate gambit, I activated a hitherto unexplored warp by running around a statue in hopes that it would take me close to a place where I could recover.  Instead, it took me to a quaint little island that had a cave that informed me that I wasn't strong enough to handle its awesomeness.  Stepping on the entry point did nothing and I assumed that it was because of my paralysis, which also made matters worse by not letting me access my computer so that I could change the party order and put someone else in the lead.  Since we had no choice other than to wait until someone hopefully sailed by, Gumdrop and I decided to have a romantic little picnic on the beach.

The atmosphere was great, if somewhat burny.

P.S. We didn't bring any food so we had to eat some demons.  The Kelpie was delicious.

P.P.S. Yeah, I figured soon after that I just had to do the very same thing I did to get there in the first place but, come on, that's not very intuitive.  *whistles and avoids eye contact*