For Tomorrow. For Everyone. For the Children. Let's Play Shadow Hearts: From The New World

Shadow Hearts: From The New World is the fourth and final game in the Shadow Hearts franchise, not counting the two pachinko machines that were released after the company that holds the rights decided to simply give up on it. It comes after Koudelka, Shadow Hearts, and Shadow Hearts 2, aka Shadow Hearts: Covenant.

Why are you doing this game?

One of the things that got me into LPing in the first place is a screenshot LPer who goes by The Dark Id - he posted almost exclusively on SA’s LP board and was really good friends with a lot of people from there.

I spent nearly a year LPing this game after hearing that he was dying of cancer… except he wasn’t dying of cancer, had been making up shit for at least the past ten years - including that he had a dead daughter (she was never real), had a wife (she was a sockpuppet account) and was some kind of PMC super-soldier who was really just a Metal Gear Solid fanfiction.

My original intention was to kill off this LP in the event that he died, and given that he announced his own death last night, I will take him at his word one last time and kill this LP off. If anything, the lesson here is to always question even the most innocuous shit and not let people get away with anything.

This LP was also not genuine in that the game kinda sucks and that I was kinda suppressing that because at the time I thought I was doing it in tribute to a dying man. Please excuse that.

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newmascotresized: Warren sends in tribute to the game’s new main character.



newmascotresized: Alright, let’s do this. The first thing we want to do is turn on subtitles because the first five minutes or so are one giant FMV. I recorded it (and will probably re-record it) right here.

newmascotresized: So what you’re saying is that you’re every protagonist in an RPG. Got it.

newmascotresized: The doctor looked our protagonist in the eye and went “I’m afraid it’s been… I dunno, maybe five minutes.”

newmascotresized: I should’ve photoshopped a meter onto these that reads “RPG PROTAGONIST” and fills until it’s going off the screen.

newmascotresized: Yeah, this is why I played the Kill The Past games. Really helped me get over the nightmares after all those bad games I LPed.

newmascotresized: Anyway, enough of that shit, here’s our opening FMV.

newmascotresized: Welcome to New York, which as we all know is the only city in the United States.

newmascotresized: This feels like I’m playing some kind of knockoff of Tekken Tag Tournament. There’s this feeling I used to get when playing games on an emulator that I’d never seen in real life where I’d feel like I was playing an elaborate bootleg, and I got a little of that here.

newmascotresized: And here’s our protagonist. A Rude Hero, this guy is not.

newmascotresized: And then this guy, who… honestly looks a little like Agent Kato from the first two games.

newmascotresized: This book should be familiar to anyone who played either of the first two games. I’ll take bets now on how many children are going to be sacrificed to revive someone’s dead relative this time around.

newmascotresized: And then we have this lady, who looks like a KOS-MOS knockoff. The Dark Id said at one point that he’d rather eat a bullet than LP Xenosaga. I might dunk on it at some point in the future, because that game wasted like 30 hours of my life and I want it back.

newmascotresized: This guy’s jacket is trying real hard to be the one the guy in The Bouncer wears, but just isn’t quite there. Has a little bit of that Spookies logo vibe from Soul Hackers, though. That’s another game I really should get around to LPing someday when I can look at an SMT game and not immediately vomit.

newmascotresized: This shot looks more like something out of Parasite Eve than a game set in 1929. That’s when this game is set, by the way - and given the general dress of the protagonist, we’re maybe a few short months from the stock market crash that begins the Great Depression.

newmascotresized: Quit looking at me like that. Persona 5 deserved what I did to it.

newmascotresized: Oh, it’s just an Ubisoft Skylight we probably have to press E to smash through.

newmascotresized: The mysterious native lady undoes her bra strap, as you do while standing on the roof of a skyscraper in 1929. By the 1960s you couldn’t find a single skyscraper without a nudist on it.

newmascotresized: Most people would look at this and go “Okay this is a little weird”, except I played Skyrim once with this mod that was supposed to improve physics and instead made the female characters’ breasts into physics objects that could, among other things, instantly kill people with physics damage and vibrate through walls.

newmascotresized: Uh, what.

newmascotresized: This is the first shonen manga I’ve seen where someone transforms into an early 2000s scene kid.

newmascotresized: That’s not quite the expression I’d make if a winged elven lady dressed like she just robbed a Hot Topic crashed through my skylight, but yeah, okay.

Music Garland Office Theme

newmascotresized: This is the theme that plays throughout New York. Note, by the way, that while I could upscale everything past native PS2 resolution, I won’t.

newmascotresized: Meet one of the handful of returning characters from the older games. Lenny was a mid-boss in a weird Vatican murder cult in Shadow Hearts: Covenant before he turned in his giant spiky shoulder pads and turned his life around.

newmascotresized: I’m not sure if this guy screams Jojo midboss or rejected Resident Evil midboss more.

newmascotresized: You know, that one.

newmascotresized: Oh man, we’re going to Silent Hill?

newmascotresized: Don’t forget the whole “being part of a murder cult” thing.

newmascotresized: The attempted murder? Nah, that’s not what landed him in Silent Hill. It was not paying the bail money that did it, sort of like how James Sunderland got sent there for being circumcized and for no other reason whatsoever.

newmascotresized: I don’t know if it’s the PS2 graphics or what, but Johnny looks goddamn uncanny when he smiles like that.

newmascotresized: I mean, when you put it that way, half of Big Dick’s job was talking to ghosts and listening to people monologue at him.

newmascotresized: Do you want Elon Musk? This is how you get Elon Musk. Stop that!

newmascotresized: Lenny really should just be all “Okay, I guess I’ll have to go be an independently wealthy business owner” and just take it over himself.

newmascotresized: Lenny, don’t make this weird. You’re making it weird.

newmascotresized: We have one tiny bit of gameplay before another cutscene hits, so let’s get through that and we’ll start the game in earnest next update.

newmascotresized: The big teal-colored circle is our first save point. I’m still going to save normally even though I’m playing on an emulator, since savestates can fuck shit up over the long term.

newmascotresized: There’s a Talisman of Luck in the plant, which works exactly the same way it did in the earlier games: it’s the basic revival item.

newmascotresized: Unfortunately, the shitty Fandom page for this game does not have a proper transparent version of the dialog portraits, probably because From The New World is kind of the black sheep of the Shadow Hearts family. Oh well.

newmascotresized: This is also where I found out, annoyingly enough, that the game switches resolutions for cutscenes. In cutscenes, it’s in this weird pseudo-widescreen resolution, and in the rest of the game it’s 4:3.

Johnny: “My name’s Johnny Garland, and I’m 16. I’m a private detective living in New York City. And like Lenny was saying, the truth is my father died three years ago, and I was supposed to take over running his company.”

Johnny: “But living on an inheritance doesn’t really do it for me, so I opened my own office.”

Johnny: “That accident didn’t just take my family… it also took part of my memories. There is something important I had to remember. Something significant… something that really means something to me!”

Johnny: "It might help me someday to remember. I haven’t told this to anybody… not a soul… not even Lenny.

newmascotresized: Next time, on Shadow Hearts: From The New World, we’ll run into an immediate Simpsons reference that most definitely was not in the original Japanese script and then explore Times Square.

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newmascotresized: Welcome to the streets of New York, circa 1929 - even though the handful of NPCs on the streets and lack of any visible crowds makes it feel a lot more like Connecticut.

newmascotresized: Just like the older games, NPCs on the street have names (and sometime descriptions). Naturally, we run face-first into a Simpsons reference. This game came out in 2005, The Simpsons had already been a zombie for half a decade by that point.

newmascotresized: I’m pretty sure the Hudson River was so polluted in 1929 that you couldn’t fish in it, just like it is today. To this day, over 200 miles of the Hudson is considered a Superfund site by the US Government.

newmascotresized: Depp might just be confused because of his ex-wife, Amber the Regular Maniac.

newmascotresized: And, of course, a reference to Winona Ryder. I’m not sure what it is with Japanese media and Winona Ryder - Mizzurna Falls also has a character named after her.

Johnny: “I-I don’t peep! I was on a love affair investigation.”

newmascotresized: The person we’re looking for is this kid, who is… just kinda loitering by a dumpster. I’d like to remind you of something which will come up again in just a minute, and that’s this:

newmascotresized: I guess now we know why there were all those people in YIIK who were standing around dumpsters, but that’s not the only thing the Allansons, uh, “borrowed”.

Johnny: “None of your business! Anyway, have you seen the person in this photo?”

Johnny: “Times Square, huh? OK, I’ll go check it out!”

newmascotresized: I’m not sure what the better interpretation of this line is - the interpretation that Johnny, who has somehow lived in New York his entire life, has never heard of Times Square, or the interpretation that no one who actually lives in New York goes to Times Square.

newmascotresized: We can access the world map now, and since there’s nothing else we can do here, we can go off to Times Square… right after I go back and grab some easily-missed items. Shadow Hearts and Covenant were games you did not want to play without a guide, and this is no exception.

newmascotresized: There’s a Mana Leaf right in front of this car, with zero indication that it’s there.

newmascotresized: As is par for the course for Shadow Hearts, every healing item is some kind of mystery plant that blooms once every thousand years and is only useful when it blooms, and yet you can buy them anywhere.

newmascotresized: We can also go back into Johnny’s office to get a couple of chests with items in them.

newmascotresized: Thera Leaves heal 75 HP, which at this point is more than a full heal for Johnny.

newmascotresized: And now we’re ready to move out.

newmascotresized: Welcome to Times Square, home of IT OLD CHICAGO. What does IT OLD CHICAGO sell? Hell if I know.

newmascotresized: I looked up “bread with pepper sauce”, and it’s apparently a thing. Think garlic bread, only with roasted red peppers instead of garlic.

newmascotresized: Wealthy George has his car repossessed three months later after losing absolutely everything the Great Depression. By the way, there’s a hidden item on this screen. Can you guess where it is?

newmascotresized: It’s behind the sign.

newmascotresized: I’d like to point out that at this point in history, Harlem is in the middle of the Harlem Renaissance and redefining what it means to be Black in the United States. This is the golden age of jazz music.

newmascotresized: Anyway, if we keep going north…

newmascotresized: The building’s name is a reference to a party member from Covenant, along with his creepy doll that may or may not house the soul of his dead daughter. Clearly, he must’ve been kicked out of France.

newmascotresized: And here’s the return of Gerard Magimel, the kind of offensive gay merchant from Covenant. This time, he’s separated from his brother, who is presumably preoccupied with the collection of softcore gay porn trading cards Yuri gave him in Covenant.

newmascotresized: Shadow Hearts as a franchise should probably come with one of those “Everyone was harmed in the making of this game” warnings at the start. ESPECIALLY this game.

Johnny: “Uh… um… it’s Johnny Garland, but…”

Buigen: “Johnny, huh? That’s a nice name. It’s got a nice ring to it…”

newmascotresized: Now, I know this game came out years before DmC and shouldn’t be blamed for this, but I absolutely get the same vibe from it. We have Shadow Hearts at home.

Gerard: “Hey, Johnny baby-- can I call you that?”

Johnny: “No! No way!!”

Gerard: “Oh, so cold-hearted… well, no biggie. I’m Gerard Magimel, a merchant. This is my honey, Buigen. We just arrived in this land. Nice to meet you.”

Johnny: “Ahh… nice to meet you too. Um… I’m in a bit of a rush, so I’m just gonna get going now.”

Buigen: “Well, aren’t you an impatient boy? And we just got to meet you…”

Gerard: “That’s right! Stay and talk a little longer. I’ll even give you something special of mine!”

Johnny: “A point card?”

Gerard: “That’s right, a point card. If you shop at my store, you’ll collect points on your card. When you collect enough points, you can buy things for cheap, or we’ll pay more for things you want to get rid of. (If you’re successful with the Ring…)”

newmascotresized: Oh christ, the Ring. We’ll get to that in a bit. If you’ve played or read LPs of the first two games, you know about the Ring. God bless the Ring.

Johnny: “Did you just mutter something?”

Gerard: “U-uh, no, nothing. Anyway, this card’s a great deal! Aren’t you pleased?”

Buigen: “Hey hey - no fair cutting in, Gerry! Well, in that case, I have a present for the boy, too.”

newmascotresized: Not cool, game! Not fucking cool!

Johnny: “Whoa… you can do magic with this.”

Buigen: “Keep it on your body at all times. Just pretend that it’s me.”

Gerard: “No…! Honey, how audacious!”

Johnny: “Uh… well, thank you. Can I get going now? I’m really in a hurry…”

Gerard: “Oh really? That’s too bad… all right, we’ll be doing business around here for a while longer. We’ll be waiting for you, Johnny baby!”

newmascotresized: I’d show off how the star chart works, because it’s one of the few things that can be definitively called an improvement over the way Covenant did things, but there’s not really much to it just yet.

newmascotresized: For the most part though, From the New World is the Eternal Punishment to Covenant’s Innocent Sin, in that almost everything is a step backward.

newmascotresized: I suppose that would make YIIK the Persona 3 FES in this equation, which adds up because Persona 3 kinda sucks mechanically and then The Answer comes along and makes it all so much worse.

newmascotresized: On the side of the Geppetto building is the person we need to talk to.

Johnny: “Really!? Where? Where!?”

Johnny: “Near the theater in Chelsea, huh? Got it! Thank you!”

newmascotresized: We can grab a tent out of this box here that’s just kind of sitting out in the open.

newmascotresized: The game finally gives us a lore explanation for why Yuri kept throwing away all those tents.

newmascotresized: Chelsea is where we get to see the game’s battle system, which is… let’s put it this way, if I wasn’t intentionally holding back, I would be dunking on this game harder than I did Eternal Punishment.

newmascotresized: Don’t worry, ma’am, I’m sure your kids have been sacrificed in a demonic ritual. Alternatively, they’re summoning demons and making weapons out of the souls of their dead friends.

newmascotresized: Honestly, it’d probably be better for all of us if Johnny got snatched up and replaced with a better protagonist. Like, you know, Yuri. Or anybody, really.

newmascotresized: I did the math on this one. The civil war lasted from 1861 to 1865. Even assuming this guy signed up in 1865 at the age of 18, he is a minimum of 82 years old.

newmascotresized: Before we go too far, though, there is what I’ll start calling a bullshit item hidden on this screen. While it’s not technically a requirement to progress, it might as well be. You’ll see why.

newmascotresized: The Coral Lariat is an accessory that I believe has been in the series since the first Shadow Hearts. It slows the speed of the Ring by 25%. The Dark Id never used these, but I’m going to just for this dungeon because it also boosts magic attack by 2 points.

newmascotresized: “People don’t get shot in this town” - quote from man shot.

Johnny: “What happened, mister? Are you OK? It looks like you’re hurt.”

newmascotresized: I don’t know why, but McCoy looks like an extra in Sonic 2006. For that matter, so do a lot of the NPCs in this game.

Johnny: “A strange rumor?”

Johnny: “This is the run-down theater the person in Times Square was talking about, huh?”

Johnny: “Sounds shady… like the perfect hide-out. Yeah, it must be here! Thanks, mister!”

newmascotresized: This is the first dungeon of the game, the tutorial dungeon. I highly recommend that if you are playing this on real hardware, you immediately stop. I mean, just in general. Go play something else.

newmascotresized: There’s a mana leaf hidden off-screen in this area, before we enter the dungeon proper.

Johnny: “I’m not a journalist. I’m a detective, and I’ve come in search of someone. I’d like you to let me through.”

newmascotresized: And now we’re in combat. First, I’d like to explain that orange bar labeled “SP”. That stands for “Sanity Points”, which have unfortunately been a thing since Shadow Hearts 1.

newmascotresized: Sanity Points work like this: you lose one a turn (usually) and at zero, your character goes “Berserk”, which causes them to do dumb shit like waste expensive items on the enemy and attack the party.

newmascotresized: If this happens with one character, it’s an automatic game over.

newmascotresized: And now, the Ring. The Ring (full name: “Judgment Ring”) is a QTE that pops up every time you perform an action in combat. Hitting the orange area is a “hit”, the red area is a “strike” that does slightly more damage (or heals better, or whatever).

newmascotresized: You know, looking at the Judgment Ring… I feel like I’m somewhere else. A bad place. You ever get that feeling?

newmascotresized: Now, here’s why this sucks. By default, Johnny needs a minimum of two hits to kill either of these guys, who are generically named “Thug” and “Fat Thug”.

newmascotresized: You’ll notice that on the turn meter, Johnny’s portrait turns red - that’s because that’s the point at which he will go Berserk, and for our purposes pulls out a revolver and offs himself.

newmascotresized: Now, let me tell you about an even more annoying mechanic.

newmascotresized: You’ll notice under “Attack”, we have “Handy Tools”. Apart from both of those words being a lie, Handy Tools is Johnny’s special skill. What does it do, you ask?

newmascotresized: It makes him pull out a camera and take a picture of the enemy. Now, there was a character in Covenant who used this exact mechanic except it gave her the Shadow Hearts equivalent of the Enemy Skill ability from Final Fantasy.

newmascotresized: Snap does nothing. It has no effect in combat. What it does is give you a “snap card” of the enemy you use it on. You need a minimum of around 120 snap cards to unlock a dungeon very late into the game.

newmascotresized: There’s just one problem there. A lot of the enemies only show up in one particular location, and some of these locations (like the theater) can’t be re-visited. While we can get the snap cards for the Thug and Fat Thug later, there are a lot of enemies where we can’t do that.

newmascotresized: Now, you might realize if you’re doing the math that I just wasted a turn using Snap, which means that Johnny is now incapable of finishing this fight… sort of.

newmascotresized: Through the magic of some Handy Tools of my own (read: savestates) I simply hit a Strike on the Ring, which does exactly enough damage to one-shot the other Thug.

newmascotresized: Let me tell you though, Snap is a straight up shit mechanic in a game like this. It works in games like the FF7 Remake because you’re not on a constant death timer. Here? Kind of a dick move.

newmascotresized: I didn’t record it, but Johnny’s end-battle quote here is “Don’t mess with New Yorkers!”. You know that kid in all the 80s movies who gets shoved into lockers? That’s basically Johnny’s voiceactor.

newmascotresized: Oh good, an orphan. Now all we have to do is find the Emigre Document and grind her into paste.

newmascotresized: There’s no way she isn’t secretly the ringleader of the hobo yakuza.

Johnny: “OK, I’ll go and look for your brother. Stay here and wait until I come back.”

Johnny: “I will, I will. I may not look it, but I’m a detective. Finding people is my specialty!”

newmascotresized: Immediately down the hall from Nancy is another fixed tutorial fight.

newmascotresized: Notice how there’s a green gauge with a “1” over it on the bottom of Johnny’s meters? That’s Stock, which is one of the mechanics I really, really do not like.

newmascotresized: Stock works like this. It builds up over time, and allows you to either do a Combo with multiple characters for a shit-ton of damage, or alternatively use Double to perform two actions in one turn. Unfortunately, Double doesn’t allow you to attack twice - you can attack and cast a spell, but can’t do any one action twice.

newmascotresized: Because there are only two enemies here, I can get a free Snap on the regular Thug enemy. One other thing I should mention about Snap that makes it doubly shit: some enemies need to be hit with it multiple times to give you a snap card.

newmascotresized: I use some uh, Handy Tools to get another strike and end this fight just before Johnny runs out of sanity.

newmascotresized: This time, we get experience and money. Now, there’s one other thing I’d like to point out, and this is why the stock system sucks - notice how Johnny has that “2” over his stock meter?

newmascotresized: Stock carries over between battles, and given that the developers nerfed the shit out of SP in order to force you to interact with this mechanic, you will be forced to grind stock at times.

newmascotresized: What makes it even worse is that there’s another mechanic, which we’ll see coming up, where enemies get their own stock meters… and so you wind up spending all of your stock to stop them using theirs.

newmascotresized: I guess I can explain how the star charts work now.

newmascotresized: Instead of having a “Dominance Capacity” stat that governs how many spells you can equip, the star charts have slots of varying shapes and levels. The only reason this is an upgrade is because you don’t have to memorize which magic crests have which spells on them.

newmascotresized: There are a couple of items upstairs we might as well grab, along with some bullshit that we’ll see in a minute.

newmascotresized: Not shown: another battle with a generic Thug and Fat Thug.

newmascotresized: Seals are stat-raising items that raise a stat from 1 to 3. If I remember right, using them outside of combat always gets you a 1, while using it in combat gets you a 2. Using it in combat and getting a strike on the Ring gives you 3.

newmascotresized: This is the right side of that big room we saw coming up the stairs. If we go to the left side…

newmascotresized: There’s another thug guarding a chest, and I’m not sure why I bothered to grab it, honestly.

newmascotresized: The Leather Belt boosts physical attack power by 2, but it’s not enough to make a difference.

newmascotresized: You see, there’s a save point up here. We actually need to clear this fight to progress.

newmascotresized: This is a battle against two Fat Thugs and a Thug that I immediately lose because I missed a Judgment Ring spin trying to get a strike and forgot to use my uh, “Handy Tools” beforehand.

newmascotresized: The reason I missed the strike is because if you do a Double attack, the red zone on the Ring becomes way smaller. Let’s compare this to Johnny’s normal attack ring.

newmascotresized: By the way, now that we’ve used Snap on the enemies, we can see their current/max HP and element. For reference, Johnny is Non-Elemental, which was usually reserved for Yuri’s ultimate fusions in the older games.

newmascotresized: We’ll learn in a few minutes why the door won’t open, and it makes Johnny look like an even bigger idiot than he already is.

newmascotresized: You’d think the answer to progress would be this big middle door I’ve been avoiding, but… no. It actually isn’t.

newmascotresized: The answer is that fighting those Thugs near the save point raises a plot flag that spawns another group of Thugs in the hallway on the far side of the stairs.

newmascotresized: One thing I want to show off is Johnny’s “I’m a whiny little bitch” pose at the start of battle.

newmascotresized: It’s funny how characters in Dark Souls can two-hand a knife and not look like a bitch, but Johnny just cannot pull that off.

newmascotresized: Johnny pops a critical on the last hit, which doesn’t matter but is nice anyway.

newmascotresized: The good news is that Johnny gets a fifth sanity point when he levels up. Unfortunately, the developers still had not figured out the technology necessary to increase your HP/MP by the amount you gain at level-up so you get the extra max HP/MP but your existing amount isn’t increased to fill the gap.

newmascotresized: Just behind where that encounter was is the door to our objective. What’s kinda funny is that you can come in here before you trigger the battle upstairs and this room is empty.

Johnny: “I finally found you! It’s not safe here, so let’s get back. Nancy’s looking for you.”

Johnny: “The fire escape?”

newmascotresized: And then we get into another three-enemy fight made slightly less shit by the fact that Johnny has 5 SP now instead of 4.

Johnny: “You aren’t to come here again, okay?”

newmascotresized: They’re not going to come here again until they can find some new thugs to inhabit the place. Johnny has singlehandedly ruined these kids’ shakedown racket.

Johnny: “Oh right. You said something about a fire escape?”

Johnny: “Jiggle it up a bit… I see.”

newmascotresized: Johnny is an idiot. I swear, I think he’s the only videogame protagonist I can think of who fails to open a door not because it’s locked, or barred, or one of those doors that don’t open from this side you see all the time in Dark Souls, but just because it’s slightly harder than average to open.

newmascotresized: I mean, I don’t think Shiroyabu is that much of an idiot, and he doesn’t know the difference between a mailman and a hitman.

newmascotresized: I like to think that she’s saying this in such a way that it’s incredibly obvious she’s making fun of him.

newmascotresized: We’ll do the boss fight next time, because there’s another load of cutscenes coming up. In the meantime, let me post the item descriptions for Johnny’s gear.

newmascotresized: With a knife like that, I’m not sure I want to know what kind of “household jobs” a family is doing, unless that family is the mafia because then I guess that item description makes sense.

newmascotresized: This is the battle theme for the entire first half of the game, and it’s actually pretty good.

Music Delusion of Death

newmascotresized: This is the background music for the theater, but there’s an opera track being played over it that isn’t anywhere on Youtube as far as I can tell.

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newmascotresized: As soon as we open the door at the top of the fire escape, we hit the start of a chain of cutscenes.

newmascotresized: “Just shoot the motherfucker” - Sakura Natsume, The Silver Case. Man, I miss that game already.

newmascotresized: It’s not as obvious in screenshot form, but this guy is “I can’t stand up straight” levels of drunk.

newmascotresized: Honestly though, this scene reminds me a lot of Clock Tower 3. Only problem is that Johnny is way too much of a dipshit to be a magical boy.

newmascotresized: I feel like even Shiroyabu would’ve had this guy on the ground by now.

newmascotresized: He’s afraid Johnny is contagious. Also, I just want you to pay attention to how big Johnny’s hands are in this shot. Boy’s got some goddamn yaoi hands going on.

newmascotresized: Admittedly, if I was approached by an anime boy with freakishly large hands, I’d probably react the same way.

newmascotresized: And now this goes straight into Silent Hill.

newmascotresized: The camera cuts away and there’s some various squelchy meat grinder noises.

newmascotresized: Johnny loses all five of his sanity points and immediately faints.

newmascotresized: And now we’re back at the opening cutscene.

newmascotresized: This time, we’re playing as the weird Hot Topic angel lady, whose name is Thunderbird. This is a tutorial fight to teach us why the Stock system sucks.

newmascotresized: You’ll notice our Attack option has switched over to Hard Hit. Remember how I said enemies can get Stock as well? This how you get rid of it. Hard Hit costs half a gauge to reduce 1 enemy Stock.

newmascotresized: Unlike Johnny, Thunderbird has three attack areas on the Ring, and it is VERY easy to miss the first one (and thus fail your entire attack) if you don’t know it’s there.

newmascotresized: Now, let’s say, just hypothetically, that you forgot to make a savestate at the start of the fight and accidentally missed that attack because you weren’t aware how Thunderbird’s Ring is different. What happens?

newmascotresized: That’s what happens. You might ask how that’s possible given that Thunderbird has 20 SP, and the reason is that Thunderbird uses more than 1 SP a turn, the same way Yuri’s Fusions did. Fortunately, Thunderbird going Berserk is not an auto-fuck.

newmascotresized: Instead, she’ll start casting Dusk Proud and wins the fight by herself. Dusk Proud does Dark-element damage.

newmascotresized: I’d ask what the point of taking her clothes off is if they magically regenerate when she transforms back, but it’s pretty clearly some kind of racket. I mean, think about it: put on some expensive designer shit, transform, and then transform back and you have the clothing equivalent of BitTorrent.

newmascotresized: Well, that’s not ominous at all.

newmascotresized: And now, for something completely different.

newmascotresized: Oh look, it’s that mysterious red-haired guy from the intro cutscene.

newmascotresized: These two were designed to look like Yuri and Alice from the original Shadow Hearts, because From The New World, apart from being the Steel Ball Run we have at home, is also the Shadow Hearts we have at home.

newmascotresized: The next several seconds are flashes of red and people screaming.

newmascotresized: Man, where was this magic red glow that kills cops when we needed it in Eternal Punishment?

newmascotresized: The red-haired guy tries to run, but doesn’t get very far on account of the whole “being shot in the stomach” thing.

newmascotresized: If you labeled the red guy “Timrod” and the hand “Having to record Eternal Punishment”, that’d be a pretty accurate summation of that LP.

newmascotresized: That guy totally just lost 5% of his max HP in exchange for a useless item.

newmascotresized: They’ll explain the red aura thing in a minute, but for now I like to think that it’s some kind of brain exhaust from dumbfucks like Johnny trying to rationalize an unlocked door being locked.

newmascotresized: Speaking of useless dipshit protagonists…

newmascotresized: They were totally taking bets on whether he was dead or not.

newmascotresized: The guy is looking at me like “Yeah, you could’ve had me as the protagonist but now you’re stuck with Johnny.”

newmascotresized: They really were completely incapable of making Johnny resemble an actual human, and I feel like even if Nautlius/Sacnoth had access to the PS3 or PS4 they still wouldn’t have managed it.

newmascotresized: Anyway, welcome to the rest of the game, which will largely be Johnny perving on Shania (the native woman). This… I think was inspired by a 1980s manga called Ghost Sweeper Mikami.

newmascotresized: If you haven’t read The Dark Id’s LPs of the first two Shadow Hearts games for some reason, Malice was a plot device largely constrained to the first game, where it summoned Yuri’s ghost dad to kick his ass.

newmascotresized: Lenny would know a thing about that given his background as a mid-boss.

newmascotresized: Oh, that makes sense why Johnny was glowing like that, it’s because he’s an incel. Got it.

newmascotresized: That would be Lenny’s former boss, a cardinal at the Vatican who also ran a secret society dedicated to… actually, it’s not really clear what they were trying to do. Take over the world or some shit.

newmascotresized: Said cardinal spent half of Covenant being zapped in the balls by a Japanese spy with a ridiculously massive chin until he turned into a demon and got punched out by Yuri.

newmascotresized: Even though face capture wasn’t really a thing until the late PS3/PS4 era, my theory is that Johnny’s model is using a primitive form of it where they hooked up a pumpkin or a volleyball or something.

newmascotresized: Metal Gear!?

newmascotresized: That’s… kind of a leap there.

newmascotresized: I think this was my exact face when I played Tatsuya’s Scenario for the first time and realized how godawful it was.

newmascotresized: The protagonist of Ghost Sweeper Mikami, despite being as much of a pervert as Johnny, somehow manages to be less of a bitch than he is.

newmascotresized: I mean, given that the guy was probably on his way to Silent Hill anyway, is anyone really going to be surprised?

newmascotresized: I think it’s the eyes, but Johnny looks like some kind of reptile in this shot.

newmascotresized: Seriously though, what the shit is with Johnny’s facial expressions? Did David Cage animate this?

newmascotresized: For the record, I did check to see what Shania’s name is in Japanese, and it’s the same.

newmascotresized: “I am Natan. I should be the main character, only the writers decided to go with the whole Mikami thing.”

newmascotresized: No, I did not add that in.

newmascotresized: As soon as I saw this, I immediately went to try and figure out how much of a pain in the ass it would be to go from Manhattan to Boston in 1929.

newmascotresized: In modern times, it’s about a 3 and a half hour trip, depending on where Johnny’s office/bedroom is and what traffic is like. Most of that trip is through Connecticut on Route 15 and Interstate 84.

newmascotresized: Throw in the fact that most cars in that era had a way lower top/average speed than modern ones, and the fact that I-84 didn’t exist in 1929 (it was built in the 1960s) and it’s probably more like 5 hours.

newmascotresized: On the way out of his office, Johnny runs into another one of those hobos he’s stabbed like twelve of in the past day.

Johnny: “It…? What’s ‘it’?”

newmascotresized: This really, really makes me wish I hadn’t used that one Neil Cicierega mashup in one of the other LPs.

newmascotresized: Oh, you mean heroin. No, Johnny’s too much of a bitch to be a drug dealer.

Johnny: “Huh…?! W-why would I have something like that?”

newmascotresized: Ah yes, the lottery sidequest, also known as the reason I won’t do this game on real hardware. This is a sidequest that goes back to the first Shadow Hearts, when a 700-year-old monk started a lottery ring in his spare time.

Johnny: “Huh? What’s this? A lottery ticket…?”

Johnny: “So what’s what you were talking about.”

newmascotresized: The lottery is, of course, a Judgment Ring. Landing in the red area gets you the top prize, which you can only get once. If this is anything like the older games, someone’s best equipment is locked behind winning all of these.

newmascotresized: I should mention that the prizes change in New Game + if you ever play that for some reason, in that the top prize changes to a Third Key. Keys were an item in the older games that let you attack multiple times provided you never miss a Judgment Ring spin. You could stack them to hilarious effect.

newmascotresized: We can now go to Arkham University, but we don’t want to do that just yet. There’s an item that we can only get now that we’ve gotten past the tutorial boss.

newmascotresized: It’s all the way back in the theater, where we met Marlow Brown shortly before he got devoured by otherworldly horrors.

newmascotresized: Next time, we’ll take Johnny to college.

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newmascotresized: Now that we’ve gotten everything in New York, it’s time to head to Boston.

newmascotresized: We get to take about three steps before there’s another cutscene, because that’s how this game is.

Johnny: “Huh? Me?”

Johnny: “Nope. This is our first time here.”

Johnny: “No way! Walk around with a crazy guy like that? Are you kidding?”

newmascotresized: We can grab a Talisman of Luck from the pillar here. I then went off to the right, because there’s a cutscene that’s kind of hilarious.

newmascotresized: I didn’t take a video of it, but I want you to imagine these NPCs pretending to powerwalk while also having a metal rod up their ass. It’s ridiculous.

Johnny: “Huh? You mean me?”

Johnny: “N-not as far as I know…”

Johnny: "U.S… Walking…Warriors…Brigade…? What’s a ‘pedometer regiment?’ "

newmascotresized: This is another returning sidequest from the first two games. The pedometer is an accessory that counts steps taken, but only in areas where there are random encounters. Usually, this eventually nets you a piece of someone’s ultimate equipment.

newmascotresized: No one tell Foley he’s uh… almost four decades early for the Vietnam War and almost six for Full Metal Jacket.

Johnny: “…Yes sir…”

newmascotresized: This reminds me so much of another PS2 game called Covert Command, which also tried the Full Metal Jacket thing but did not understand it one bit.

Johnny: “Yes sir!!”

Johnny: “I don’t really have any idea what you’re talking about, mister… so, I think I’ll just be on my way now…”

Johnny: “…Sir…”

newmascotresized: We’re going to want to slap this on someone and keep it there for the entire game. Johnny is probably a good choice because unlike Yuri, he’s not a primary source of damage. Anyway, I’m gonna skip some of this dialogue because all it does is explain what the pedometer does.

newmascotresized: I’m going to skip some of the NPC dialog here, even though The Dark Id showed most, if not all of it in his LPs, simply because there’s a lot of it.

newmascotresized: John Maynard Keynes didn’t publish his economic theories until the mid-1930s, seven years after this game takes place. Then again, given Johnny, it’s entirely possible it took them seven years to get here.

newmascotresized: The localizers definitely had fun with this one.

newmascotresized: I mean, you’d think he would’ve known that earlier given that just two years prior, the government had formed a regulatory agency for it that would later become the FCC.

newmascotresized: To the left of that room we were just in is the library, which we have no reason to go into given that Johnny is probably illiterate.

newmascotresized: I looked up what kind of choices Johnny might have had, and there’s not a whole lot. One interesting bit is that the precursor comic to Nancy debuted in 1929.

newmascotresized: The only thing we really care about in here is an extra Cure spell we can find on a bookshelf in the back.

newmascotresized: Upstairs, we want to head into the door on the left, which is just offscreen.

newmascotresized: In here, we want to talk to this guy to find something out that we could have found out on our own (and actually did, offscreen) but that we need a plot flag for.

Johnny: “The sealed-off room?”

Johnny: “Next to the school, huh… thanks! I’ll go check it out.”

newmascotresized: Now, you might ask, does Johnny say the door is locked if you try to open it before talking to this guy?

newmascotresized: Yep! This door, for reference, is one screen to the left of where we entered the area.

newmascotresized: Before we leave, there’s a Seal of Life in the corner of the stage. Let’s grab that.

newmascotresized: Oh, and there’s some optional dialogue that’s kind of interesting.

newmascotresized: It’s that last line that gets me. Has there ever been a lesbian manga where one of the characters goes full on Weekly Shonen Jump and does the whole “I guess I have no choice… forgive me, master… just this one, I have to go all out…” thing, and then they pull out that “Women love me, fish fear me” hat that was all over Twitter a few years ago?

newmascotresized: Anyway, back at that door…

Johnny: “Oh! Right. OK, then proper detective-like, I’ll go ask around the school.”

newmascotresized: What this entails is going back up the stairs and to the classroom on the right side, which was previously empty.

newmascotresized: That’s not an ominous sign at all.

Johnny: “The under-path huh…”

newmascotresized: Now, you might ask “Could we go into the under-path before, not knowing it’s dark?” and the answer is no. I don’t know why they make you get the lantern when you have to unlock the door with a plot flag.

newmascotresized: The Chemistry lab is on the first floor, on the right side.

Buigen: “Hey, boy! We meet again!”

Johnny: “That voice… could it be…? It is!”

newmascotresized: Johnny clearly has the vision cone of a stealth game guard.

newmascotresized: I wish I had done this game before Persona 5, because I would have had Salty Vanilla draw Joker and Yusuke in this motorcycle, except it’s painted the Japanese flag colors and the sign reads “NO BEING HORNY”.

newmascotresized: Unfortunately, Salty Vanilla is on vacation for the next couple of weeks.

Buigen: “Cheer up, I have some good news for you boy.”

Gerard: “Well, not really good news, but something he forgot to tell you last time we met.”

Buigen: “Hey, Gerry. I thought you said that was our little secret?”

Johnny: “Uh… if you’ve got something to say…”

Johnny: “Realigning?”

Buigen: “That’s right. I alter its attributes and open holes and stuff. Of course, I charge for it, but I’ll do it cheaply for you, boy.”

newmascotresized: I feel like if someone told me that their job was to “open holes”, I’d probably turn around and start walking the other way.

newmascotresized: Johnny realigns himself to Chaotic Dipshit.

newmascotresized: Let me explain how this works. You pick a slot on the star chart, and you can either increase its level (which lets you put higher-level stellars into it), decrease MP usage by up to 50%, or increase the strength of whatever is in that slot, but we can’t do that yet.

newmascotresized: The door to the steam tunnels is right by where we got the Pedometer earlier.

newmascotresized: The building I worked in two jobs ago had steam tunnels (which had since been converted to a basement for the service people) and it was my favorite spot in the entire building.

newmascotresized: Not far from the entrance, we get into another tutorial fight. Natan, with his dual revolvers and “GUN-FU”, goes first. God dammit why couldn’t he have been the main character. It would’ve been Turok except less bad.

newmascotresized: You’ll notice we have a few new attack options. These include “High Angle” and “Knock Down”. Let me explain what those do.

newmascotresized: If you look up in the top-right, you’ll see two blue bars next to the enemy’s name. This indicates what kind of attacks can hit the enemy - the bottom bar is “low”, middle is “mid”, and the top bar is “high”.

newmascotresized: The best example I can give is that Shania’s main damage spell only hits “low” targets, which means that if we run into anything that’s flying, we’ll need to knock it down first for her to hit it.

newmascotresized: We also get introduced in a brief tutorial to the “Combo” and “D-Combo” options. Combos are neutered from how they were in Covenant - you have to spend Stock to use them. What they let you do is have each of your party members take their turns together, which can be used to burst down enemies.

newmascotresized: I should mention that Shania, like Yuri, cannot use magic the way Johnny and Natan can - instead, she has to use Fusion. Fusion does not take up a turn in a combo, meaning that the one real advantage Combos have is letting you get a Fusion off for free.

newmascotresized: D-Combo, by the way, is a Combo that takes two Stock instead of one and allows you to Double with each character, meaning you get potentially six attacks off at once.

newmascotresized: Right around the corner, we run into the second enemy type here - Sergei, which is supposed to be some kind of cursed monkey. Naturally, we need Johnny to waste his turn Snapping.

newmascotresized: You might notice we’re missing card 3 - that’s because card 3 is the Deep One that Shania fought in New York. Most bosses don’t allow you to Snap them, you instead have to get their card through a sidequest.

Shania: “He’s out? Or maybe… maybe the beasts got to him first?”

Johnny: “Oh man! If so, he might be in trouble!! But, the door’s still locked… hey, let’s search for the key! Maybe it’s laying around here somewhere?”

newmascotresized: There’s only one way to progress, so let’s do that.

newmascotresized: Oh, great, now they’re going to have to re-train Johnny because he’ll get confused when there are doors with no levers nearby.

newmascotresized: Right behind that door is a hallway full of Gagus behind a thin metal grate. I’ve played Resident Evil, game, I’m on to your shit.

newmascotresized: It would, admittedly, have been a really funny plot point if Professor Gilbert was making the 1920’s equivalent to a Minecraft mob grinder.

Shania: “I wonder… but it’s hard for normal people to catch beasts.”

newmascotresized: The camera moves and you can hear Johnny flip the lever off-camera.

Shania: “They’re coming!”

newmascotresized: I had a shot that got a little fucked up. Gagus have 33 HP at this point (they’ll get more once we reach the next cutscene) which puts them just out of reach of being one-shottable by Natan. Shania can one-shot them if she lands three Strikes on her Ring.

newmascotresized: Gagus mostly use Rock Bump or a physical attack that hits for about 22 damage and reduces evasion by 30%.

newmascotresized: Shania levels up off this fight, which doesn’t really do a whole lot. Dusk Proud costs a whopping 20 SP, so the extra 10 SP won’t allow a fourth cast.

Shania: “It looks like the levers open not just the doors, but the cages as well… let’s be more careful from now on.”

newmascotresized: This dungeon is really simple, there’s a few more doors (and one more cage) we can open.

newmascotresized: One of them is a shortcut back to where Johnny pulled the lever in that cutscene to open the cage, and at this point there’s nothing to do but move on.

newmascotresized: We’ll leave this cage for the way back. There’s a chest in it, but up ahead is progress and there’s what’s probably the best cutscene I have seen in a game in a long goddamn time up ahead.

newmascotresized: Thankfully, it’s already been recorded on Youtube. WATCH THE VIDEO VERSION. DO IT.

newmascotresized: If you’re not watching it, this guy’s name is Frank. Frank has an accent that is… unclassifiable. At some points he sounds kind of like the Spy from TF2.

newmascotresized: Frank is a goddamn American hero and also my favorite character of any of the RPGs I’ve done an LP of, even though mechanically he’s a copy-paste of the gay vampire wrestler from Covenant.

newmascotresized: If I ever go to a convention again, there is absolutely no way I am not cosplaying this. What sucks is that I was due to go to a speedrun marathon in June, but that wound up getting cancelled.

newmascotresized: The sound effects at this particular point are incredible, and I really, really want whoever did the character design for this game to take over Persona.

newmascotresized: Natan is like “What the fuck game did I get hired for, I thought I was going to be in the one that at least sorta kinda takes itself seriously.”

newmascotresized: This is another fight against three Gagus, and it’s over pretty quick.

newmascotresized: Trust me, this gets even better.

newmascotresized: This game is mechanically kind of a trainwreck, and that absolutely sucks because the character designer was completely on fucking point for this game with the exception of Johnny.

newmascotresized: My immediate reaction to this was “I bet his original flight plan was to fly from Chicago to New York, and he wound up in South America because he’s Frank.”

newmascotresized: Frank is a goddamn ninja who learned to be a ninja in Brazil, something I think only Frank is capable of.

newmascotresized: Here’s what I want to know. How the FUCK did the Allansons play the Shadow Hearts games and then come away with… whatever it was they came away with to make YIIK?

newmascotresized: Johnny does not understand what Brazilians are capable of. I started on a World of Warcraft private server a few weeks ago with a sizeable Brazilian population and let me tell you, I have seen some shit.

newmascotresized: The biggest crime here is that we did not get a Frank spinoff action game.

newmascotresized: Frank’s weapon is a giant saw mounted to a sword hilt, because Frank is a goddamn visionary.

newmascotresized: Yes. Frank is going to be a permanent fixture in our party. I don’t care if it turns out he sucks stat-wise and I just don’t know, he stays. This is Frank’s party now.

newmascotresized: Doors mean nothing to Frank. Frank goes where he pleases.

newmascotresized: You have no say anymore. Frank is the main character now.

newmascotresized: Next time, we’ll Frank our way through that door and find the inevitable bossfight on the other side. I was kinda without internet for half the weekend, and it’s already Tuesday night.

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newmascotresized: We might as well pull this lever because there’s a Stellar in a chest in the corner, plus we need to grind stock for Frank. The boss here basically requires that everyone has full stock to start.

newmascotresized: Frank has 8 Sanity, the same as Natan, and is Light element. This is going to be important because the upcoming boss is Dark element - meaning Frank will be our best damage dealer.

newmascotresized: Frank’s only mechanical issue is that his damage ability can only hit airborne enemies, meaning that in most cases we’re going to need a Double or D-Combo to use it.

newmascotresized: Frank starts with three attacks on his Ring, the same as Shania. He also comes with Holy Edge, which could theoretically buff Natan or Johnny’s damage against the boss, but in practice isn’t the best way to spend a turn.

newmascotresized: Bright Rage is a Light-based spell that I probably should have put onto Johnny, since he has nothing else he can do with a Double, but we need to Snap this boss. Apparently, the “No Snapping Bosses” rule only applies to bosses that Johnny isn’t in the party for.

newmascotresized: Frank is about to obliterate this fucking door.

newmascotresized: I love Frank so fucking much.

newmascotresized: The pose here just kinda gets me.

newmascotresized: God dammit Johnny stop being such a little goddamn bitch I swear to god.

newmascotresized: There’s another Stellar hidden in a corner behind the door, which we have no particular need for at the moment but I’ll grab anyway. There’s a save point up those stairs, so clearly the next room is…

newmascotresized: An anticlimax. This room plays the background music that plays when you’re in the university campus, and you can hear people laughing and playing outside.

newmascotresized: The box has a Leather Cap inside, which is a defense-boosting accessory. I toss it on Natan.

newmascotresized: Rarely do I see a game where the cutscene director is this level on point with all of the character animations and poses. It is a goddamn shame that Nautilus got reduced to making pachinko machines.

newmascotresized: Someone get me a goddamn mod for Ace Attorney where you can play as Frank. You could fix how bad most of the cases in The Great Ace Attorney were that way.

newmascotresized: My favorite part of this cutscene is that Shania and Natan are… just kinda there taking it all in. I feel like that’s really the only response a normal person could have to being in a room with Frank.

newmascotresized: I happened to run into a Sergei before the fight while I was grinding stock for Frank, and I’m pretty sure Frank can oneshot them.

newmascotresized: Or, you know, Johnny’s knife will become a lightsaber and impale it through the mouth. That works too.

newmascotresized: Johnny does not deserve cutscene powers.

Shania: “Her power!? If you know something, then tell me now!!”

newmascotresized: This cutscene isn’t canon because Frank would’ve stopped Gilbert singlehandedly if it was.

Music Le Gran Luxe

newmascotresized: Igornak looks like a rejected design for William Birkin’s super-zombie form in Resident Evil 2. It’s actually a relatively easy fight - provided you know how to abuse the combo system. You’ll notice that Igornak starts with a Stock and is going after Johnny, but before the rest of the party.

newmascotresized: Igornak has a three-hit combo, and each hit has a chance to apply Poison. By itself, Poison isn’t too bad - but if you get hit with it a second time, it becomes Deadly Poison. Deadly Poison does something like 10 to 15% max HP in damage each turn.

newmascotresized: What we want to do is immediately launch into a D-Combo. Unfortunately, Johnny can’t do much with a second turn - he can’t Snap unless he’s the last person in the combo.

newmascotresized: Johnny passes to Shania, who does a regular attack and then casts Dusk Proud. One of our side objectives here is to do a 25-hit combo, so we want to pull that off if possible.

newmascotresized: Shania passes to Frank, who uses his regular attack to launch Igornak, so that he can use Ninja Star.

newmascotresized: Frank’s animation for Ninja Star consists of him doing a bunch of Naruto hand motions to make an F…

newmascotresized: And then throwing a giant fuckoff shuriken at the enemy.

newmascotresized: Natan follows up with a regular attack and Slug Shell, his first special attack, to bring the combo counter to 24. At this point, we’ve done well over half the boss’s health in damage.

newmascotresized: One of the major problems with the Stock system is that for some reason, the boss gains Stock during a combo, meaning that you need to save at least half a bar of stock for the end to prevent the boss from Double Attacking.

newmascotresized: Igornak has 500 HP, and we’ve taken off 359 in one combo.

newmascotresized: On its turn, Igornak beats Frank down to 9 HP, because it knows he’s the biggest threat in the party.

newmascotresized: Now, here’s what I’d like to point out. Before the boss’s turn, it had one stock. Johnny used a Hard Hit to remove it… and now it’s back to having a stock again within one turn.

newmascotresized: In the end, we finish the fight exactly one turn before Johnny would have gone Berserk.

newmascotresized: A 25-hit combo gets us a new gun for Natan. If you really feel like using some Handy Tools, getting 100% strikes on the Ring gets you a Lottery Ticket, but given that the strike area lowers on a combo, you’d probably need to TAS it to hit every one.

newmascotresized: The only place we can go is back to Johnny’s office, so let’s do that. Technically, I still need three more Snaps of both of the enemies in the basement, but I’m going to wait on that.

Lenny: “No, I’m sorry. Not only has he vanished, but apparently Gilbert wasn’t even his real name. No personal information, no leads.”

Johnny: “I see… that’s just great. Now what are we going to do?”

newmascotresized: I know who Frank’s master is, and believe me when I say that whatever your guess is as to who Frank’s master is, it’s almost definitely wrong.

Johnny: “Frank’s Master? Is your Master all there?”

FRANK: “Of course! No doubt about it. But, Master is traveling around America, so Frank has no idea where Master is…”

Johnny: “What, so we have to go out looking!?”

newmascotresized: Wait… hold up. You’re telling me Frank is the goddamn Hokage? I mean, I’m not surprised that Frank is the Hokage, it would make no sense if he wasn’t.

FRANK: “Master is a very unique individual, so they’ll surely find her soon!”

Johnny: “You’ve got subordinates!?”

newmascotresized: I refuse to believe for a moment that at least two of those subordinates aren’t his kids, whose names are Frankruto and Franksuke.