If You See the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him - Let's Play Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse

screenshot
rpg
nws-tw

#81

The last dungeon was definitely super rude, but I can’t remember if it was a teleporter maze. The part I do remember is that it had a blind maze. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was both, with damaging floor tiles thrown in.


#82

When we last left our heroes, angels had appeared. It’s a Dominion again, this time with a Throne in tow. Thrones are the third highest rank of angel, and get their name from being carriers of the royal throne of God and wheels of the Merkabah (or possibly not; there’s a bit of historical debate on whether or not thrones and the “flaming wheels” of the Merkabah are actually the same thing). These are also the guys who deliver prayers and keep tabs on the universal constants.

Hand over Flynn. Now.

Uh… What now?

We must utilize Flynn, as our Messiah.

“Utilize”? You’re talking about a human being!

We Crusaders were tasked with retrieving Flynn for Lord Merkabah.

You angels have no right to interfere.

Your work is completed. Now ours begins.

You are given the option right here to try to hand over Flynn (nobody will actually let you, mind) for a nice big bundle of Anarchy points, or put yourself in front of Flynn immediately to get some Peace points. This playthrough’s going to have the latter, since Good Boy Run and all.

Yeah, we owe Flynn our lives after saving us from your kind at the Sky Tower.

So no! You can’t have him! I’ve got a debt to repay!

Flynn is a sign of hope for all humanity, both in Tokyo and Mikado.

I won’t let you just take him away!

Then I have no choice.

Merkabah’s orders are clear.

If Flynn cannot be used as our messiah, he must die.

In the name of Lord Merkabah, I will smite you all.

I cannot let you kill him now.

A Samurai dares defy me, a messenger of the Lord?

I am a Samurai, and my Code will not allow me to turn a blind eye to this.

Gaston readies his spear.

After I dispose of you disobedient worms, I will terminate Flynn, as well.

You will know what it is to fear us down to your very bones.

This is pretty much a gimme fight (I was able to kill both angels in one turn), presumably intentionally so, as the Throne and several other demons in scripted fights from this point onward are also regular random encounters in this area. We’ll call it an impromptu early Hunter’s Notes portion with bonus descriptiveness.

Dominion is a level 51 member of the Divine race that resists Electricity, nullifies Light, and is weak to Force and Dark. It starts out with Maziodyne and Megido before learning Samarecarm at level 52 and Dekunda at level 53.

Throne is level 62, with a nullifying quality against both Fire and Dark opposed by (unsurprisingly) a weakness to Ice and Light. Its starting moves are Agidyne and Mahamaon, while its skills from leveling up are Mediarama and Maragidyne from level 64 and 65 respectively.

Even with the Divine Powers gone, there’s still Merkabah and Lucifer to deal with.

Humanity won’t be free until we can take them out of the picture, too.

This simply means our fight is not yet over.

Well, we can’t stay here. Let’s go.

Isabeau lends Flynn her shoulder.

You and the others leave.

You get this lovely message as soon as you leave the corridor leading to Krishna. There’s a triage station just ahead on the right of this linear corridor, which you might want to stop at to top off your health before saving and continuing onward.

Heading past the triage station, we’ve got this guy. Murmur, or Murmus, is a warrior wearing a duke’s crown and riding either a vulture or a griffon. Two ministers under his rule always precede him, blaring trumpets. Summoners can learn from him the arts of philosophy or question the souls of the dead.

Now, if you would, hand Flynn over. Your services are no longer required.

Do you really think we’d surrender him to a demon?

Samurai… Listen here, little lap dog.

Flynn is to be OUR messiah. I won’t let you hand him over to Merkabah.

So, it comes to this. I shall not allow Flynn to be a pawn for the demons or the angels.

Too late to regret your decision now. I’m just gonna kill you all and take him!

Murmur resists Force and Dark, repels Electricity, and is weak to Fire and Light. He starts out with the moves Madness Nails and Mudoon, only learning Maziodyne at his first level up and then no further moves. He’s a pretty good demon to fuse, at least, with high Strength and Agility and pretty good stats otherwise, +1 affinity to Force, +2 affinity to Physical, and +3 affinity to Dark and Electricity.

Don’t worry, buddy. I’m sure it won’t be hard to find someone who wants you gone, too.

Maybe now’s not the best time for jokes. Let’s get out of here, first.

Let’s go, Flynn.

I’m sorry for slowing everyone down.

Don’t worry yourself over that.

Isabeau helps Flynn to his feet.

You continue your escape.

Abaddon, or Apollyon, is an angel of the Book of Revelation described as the “angel of the bottomless pit”, a bringer of destruction upon those who are not branded with the seal of God via a plague of monstrous locusts with scorpion tails, human faces, lion’s teeth, and iron chests. In the Old Testament and Hebrew texts, however, the name Abaddon instead refers to a land of the damned. This guy’s obviously the monstrous angel.

As for the fifth trumpet, that’s another reference to Revelation. In it, seven angels blow seven trumpets across the course of the narrative, each one unleashing a great calamity. Unsurprisingly, the fifth trumpet is the one that gives Abaddon and his horror-locusts the go ahead. Their stings create ceaseless agony, so much so that those afflicted beg for the release of death, but are never fatal.

If you do not relinquish Flynn to us, I will send you to hell myself.

Mechanically, Abaddon is weak to Electricity and repels Fire. He starts with the skills Hades Blast and War Cry, then gains Retaliate and Eat Whole at levels 65 and 66 respectively.

Our final scripted encounter is with Master Therion. This monstrous demon is Therion, an entity of Aleister Crowley’s occult teachings. It also happened to be a term that Crowley associated with himself, even referring to himself as being Master Therion, as well as a name that has its origins in the Beast of Revelation. If you know anything about Crowley’s hedonistic practices, you can probably guess why this design has its particularly prominent protuberance.

Hand over Flynn, or die.

Master Therion is a level 61 Yoma who nullifies Fire, Ice, and Dark but is weak to Gun and Light. His skills are Makajamaon and Agidyne from the start, Concentrate at level 62, and Mabufudyne at level 63. While he’s a decent demon with good stats all around, you definitely shouldn’t use him as your brawling buddy due to the fact that his Strength score is offset by a whopping -5 affinity to Physical skills.

He’s accompanied in this fight – and most random encounters he shows up in, for that matter – by the camel-riding Goetic demon Gemori. This demon resists Dark, nullifies Fire, and is weak to Ice and Light. The moves Gemori has are Sexy Dance and Maragidyne from the get-go, Mana Surge at level 59, and Mediarama at level 60.

At the end of all those scripted fights there’s only one way to go, and it seems it’s an “out of the frying pan, into the fire” situation. No choice now but to steel ourselves…

Hold, Asahi. There are more enemies up ahead.

Well, of course there are. Nothing ever that easy for our post-apocalyptic Scooby Gang.

Eeheehee… We’re back…

Hehehe… Well done…

You’re the old women from the Ring of Gaea.

We heard you reclaimed our temple.

So we thought we’d meet you here.

Toki!

Kei claps her hands and Toki steps forward.

Tch!

You prepare yourselves for a fight.

Toki stands still. She has no intention of fighting.

Toki! Do as you’re told!

No.

What did you say?!

Kill him yourself. I’m done being a puppet.

Toki looks at you sincerely.

The old women furrow their brows.

Do you understand what you’re saying?

The Aether may have affected me, but I’m fully aware of what I’m doing.

Do you know what you’re doing?

What?

The goal of the Ring of Gaea was to pursue individual strength in the world of chaos, was it not?

Look at yourselves, clinging together to establish a new order.

Obeying you will hinder my pursuit for chaos.

I will remain true to my belief… Not yours.

Very well.

You can die with your friends!

These Gaea Men and Gaea Women are all level 62, higher than those of the Maitreya faction, they’ve got the same resistances and weaknesses, same moves, and same boringness. Break them apart.

Toki’s no good to us anymore.

She was always disposable. Nothing left to do than throw her away.

The Maitreya faction is gone. Tsukiji Konganji is ours.

We have no use for you. Die as you please.

I will.

The Ring of Gaea believes that only the strong survive.

Now that I have defeated them, they have no power over me.

So you’re one of us now!

If that’s how you want to think of it.

We’ll take all the help we can get.

Given our current team, I’m sure she won’t be able to weigh us down.

Asahi mumbles to herself, clearly bothered about something. Nozomi taps her shoulder.

Hey now, what’s wrong?

We’re almost out of here. Chin up, okay?

Asahi visibly relaxes a little.

Yeah, you’re right.

Besides, I’ve got more personality. And I know him better. AND I like him better…

Are we really doing this? Really?

Let’s mosey on out of this hellhole.

A brief fade to black, and poof, we’re out without having to even touch the doorway.

Phew… ALL the way out, this time.

And Flynn is safe, all thanks to me!

We’re not safe yet.

WHAT?!

You…!

We really need to stop meeting like this.

Yep. Seems we’ve got yet another demon to check off the revenge list already.

His Lordship would like our messiah, Flynn, to stand with us now.

Even the Ashura-kai are helping with this one, so why don’t we NOT make a scene, hm?

Bullshit, I’d know if the Ashura-kai were in on this.

Well, I’m no expert on human squabbling.

But if I had to guess? Your boss, he just. Don’t. Trust you.

He’s not my boss, he’s my bro, and I know he trusts me! What do you know anyway?

Adramelech turns toward Flynn, but Gaston steps between the two.

We won’t hand Flynn over to you.

Everyone draws their weapon.

You’re going to pay for what you did to Manabu and Nikkari. Let’s do it, Nanashi!

Allow me to help with my master’s revenge.

Uh, what did you just call him?!

Suppose I’ll just take him by force, then.

I’ll burn you both to a crisp. Just like your two Hunter friends.

I’ll never forgive you!

Boss Battle!: Adramelech :crossed_swords:

Adramelech, our long-awaited foe, is finally here. He resists Dark, drains Fire, and is weak to Ice. He has high Strength and very high Magic, so you can expect being roughed up on both the physical and magical fronts.

Adramelech’s unique skill is Hellish Brand, which is effectively a combination of Agidyne and Dekaja. He can also use Eat Whole, Madness Nails, Maragion, and Dekunda…

Adramelech’s first interaction comes about 2,400 HP of damage in.

No matter. You’ll make all the same mistakes, so long as you’ve still got THAT one to worry about.

Adramelech charges his power, then starts attacking Asahi.

What will you do?

There’s two options to engage in here. You can either strike Adramelech for a cheap hit and some Anarchy points, at the cost of Adramelech getting a boost to his attack stats. Or you could protect Asahi by taking about 300 damage and get a large chunk of Peace points.

You shield Asahi from Adramelech’s attack.

Nanashi!

This reminds me of something… Oh yes! When those two Hunters threw their lives away to save you.

Well, the same fate awaits you both – to burn by my flames.

But that stops here. Don’t let it go to your head.

Come 5,000 HP down, Adramelech gives this attempt at sounding tough. His words are hollow, however.

8,000 HP down. Adramelech is still chatty, but not looking so confident now.

That’s it… I’ll burn you all to ashes if it’s the last thing I do!

Adramelech gets the jump on you.

Hahahaaa… Burn. Burn! All of you, burn!

Can’t let this fire stop us!

Asahi heals you and the others. There’s not a single burn on you.

Adramelech is left vulnerable by his frustration.

Adramelech’s defense power decreases.

With his Defense down, continue your assault with renewed vigor – victory is close at hand. Just be careful, as Adramelech now starts wildly throwing Eat Whole and Madness Nails at a greater extent. This makes him more predictable and susceptible to Tetrakarn abuse (or an Attack Mirror, the itemized version, if you happen to have one). Nonetheless, be careful

Gyaaah…! If I had known this would happen, I would have done away with them days ago!

And thus Adramelech dies like any other boss demon dies, breaking apart and shattering at full force. Adramelech’s one of those bosses who pretty much pushes one damage type (he also has the Physical moves, of course, but Fire is his main game) and is relatively impotent if you can shut that down and reply with his weakness. This, and a lack of any partiuclarly rude ailment or buff/debuff moves to pull out, means that the fact he has around the same HP as Krishna is less threatening overall.

Asahi’s eyes well with tears.

If every demon and angel in Tokyo is done attacking us now…

We need to get Flynn someplace safe and get him stitched up.

Thank you… Guh!

Blood drips from Flynn’s stomach.

We have to get you to the Hunter command center immediately!

We have no choice. Treating his wounds will take precedence over returning him to Mikado.

Isn’t your whole job to take him to Mikado?

It would be unseemly to return him in this state.

Gaston turns his back to you.

If we’re all in agreement, then let us get him back to the command center.

Do you need our help, Miss Isabeau?

Thank you, but I will be fine on my own.

Isabeau walks off, carrying Flynn with her.

And with that, we are finally done with our current quest and temporarily lose Isabeau once again. The reward is hefty, of course, with 164,794 experience points and 55,000 macca.

Probably 'cause we got Flynn back, safe and sound! We kicked ass!

All that’s left is to take down Lucifer and Merkabah.

Failure was simply not an option with me at the helm!

What helm? You should really know your place.

WAIT! You could see me this whole time?

Heh. You guys did great. Every inch of me aches from all that excitement.

You would do well to see to your own injuries while we wait.

Y’know, I think Gaston’s finally warming up to us.

Is there something you’d like to say to me, Hallelujah?

If there is, you’d better remember to address me as SIR Gaston next time.

And like that, the warmth is gone.

And they have every right to feel accomplished. The past two days have been a flurry of bosses for them.

Pathetic. This makes my skin crawl.

All this lipservice and ego-stroking is the kind of dependency that stops you from acting on your own.

You’ll see soon enough, kid. There’s no place for you among them.

You watch your allies converse and share smiles.

Asahi comes to you and smiles, head tilted in curiosity.

Hey, what’re you doing? We should head back to Kinshicho.

Let’s go, Nanashi.

Asahi holds her hand out to you.

You and the others leave.

All in all, a pretty productive day. Three big bosses beaten, Toki returning to our party, Isabeau returning to our party only to leave yet again, and Flynn recaptured from the Divine Powers. Only thing now is to have Nanashi sleep and prepare for the day of the 5/8 moon.


#83

Wild Demon Encounters: Tsukiji Konganji (After Slaying Krishna)

Once you axe Krishna, new demons start pouring into random encounters to attack you. Almost of these are Abaddon, Gemori, Master Therion, Murmur, and Throne, but there is also one horde encounter.

The rampaging Angel Army is a level 62 Horde made up of Angels, Principalities, and a lone Virtue in the middle. The horde nullifies Force, repels Light, and is weak to Gun, Electricity, and Dark. Members of the horde can cast Mazandyne, Mahamaon, Makarakarn, and Mediarama.

Fusions

Take-Mikazuchi and Haoma are fused together to create Gogmagog. This poor guy has three weaknesses, but he became a rather formidable monster in my case by having Resist Fire and Resist Force patching two of those up. This giant Jirae’s two unlearned skills are Ally Counter and Titanomachia, attained at level 62 and 63 respectively.

Gogmagog here has a twofold origin: first his mythological identity, and then his artistic inspiration. Appearing in the 1136 tome Historia Regum Brittaniae (History of the Kings of Britain), Gogmagog was a giant dwelling in ancient Britain. At the behest of the goddess Diana, wandering Trojans under the leadership of a man named Brutus set sail for this land, finding that the only intelligent life of the region were immense giants. One of these giants was Gogmagog, an 18 foot tall warrior who was the leader of a twenty-strong raid of the Trojans’ encampment. While most of the giants were slain by the Trojans, Gogmagog was captured alive to be pitted in a wrestling match against the Trojan soldier Corineus. A formidable classical hero said to have slain thousands of Gauls single-handedly, Corineus was able to throw the giant from the cliff they wrestled atop, plunging him to his death.

So, what’s up with the swirly face? While Gogmagog may be a very British giant in origin, the artwork by Kazuma Kaneko takes a far-flung inspiration from one of the Stone Age giant paintings found on rock outrcroppings in the Algerian plateau of Tassili n’Ajjer.

Fusing Taraka and Yatagarasu (one of a chunk of lower level demons I didn’t fuse “on camera”; there will be more than a few of those across this LP given the fact that there are literally hundreds of demons, and I apologize for that) creates Tlazolteotl, her normal weakness to Fire no longer present. By leveling her up, we’ll get Makakaja at level 58 and Recarmdra at level 59.

Tlazolteotl was an Aztec goddess of filth and the purification thereof. Her purview included childbirth, bathing, adultery and other sinful sexual acts, and diseases (STDs especially so). In a person’s youthful years she would inspire lustful thoughts, only to come and devour sins in absolution near the end of their life. Tlazolteotl’s sometimes depicted with a literal shit-eating grin, her mouth smeared with the excrement from devouring the filth of the soul.

I’ve created a Salamander by fusing Take-Minakata and Kushinada-Hime. Its two unlearned skills are Panic Voice at level 37 and Life Gain at level 40.

The salamander of Paracelsus’s elemental quartet is not the same as the group of amphibians we know and love (or I love, at least), instead being a large lizard with stars upon its back that is the elemental of fire. As an elemental, the salamander relied only on fire for sustenance, and could also restore lost scales by bathing in the purifying inferno.

Gnome is one of the pricier Element demons, as it requires a fusion of two members of the Kishin, Tree, Reaper, or Lady races, none of which have that many low level individuals. In my case, I fused this one out of Hel and Persephone so I can be able to have an easy source of Null Elec and a few other nice skills. The two skills left on Gnome’s list are Lullaby and Life Gain, learned at level 25 and 28 respectively.

I should also note that it’s actually easy to know what demons go up or down their racial tree with an Element fusion. The demons used to fuse an Element are the ones that are strengthened by it, and the demons of the race of the opposing Element (Water opposes Fire, Earth opposes Air) are weakened by it. This means that a Gnome is going to make a Kishin, Lady, Reaper, or Tree become the next higher level member of the same race, while it will make a member of Avian, Fury, Holy, or Dragon (the fusions associated with Sylph) the next lower member.

The gnome is the Paracelsian elemental of earth, resembling a tiny elderly man in appearance. They are associated with gemstones, metal, soil, and plant life. Gnomes would often guard underground wealth, and according to some ceremonial magicians of the Renaissance were even willing to part with this bounty when summoned.

Fused from Inti and Tuofei is Lailah with her weakness to Dark axed. The two skills she gains from leveling up are Makakaja at level 55 and Samarecarm at level 56.

Lailah (literally “Night” in Hebrew) is a Talmudic angel who acted as the aid of Abraham and also engages in the act of conception, bringing a drop of sperm before God to determine its fate and then returning to place a soul into the womb of those who had made love.

Kanbari is way lower level than us at this point, but it’s one of two special fusions I had skipped due to lack of macca or a missing compontent demon at the time, and the finite number of special fusion demons means I can show them all off even if I can’t show off literally every demon in the compendium. This freaky foot is a special fusion of Mamedanuki, Mou-Ryou, and Preta. Leveling him up provides Hamaon at level 28 and Chakra Walk at level 29.

Kanbari, or Kawaya no Kami, is a Japanese toilet god. Born from the waste of Izanami, he’s the guy you ask to help you when you don’t want to fall into a cesspit, have a good harvest (fertilizer, you see), or heal ailments of the teeth…for…some reason. He’s a fan of well-kept bathrooms and will sometimes curse the families of those who don’t have a clean latrine. Kanbari may also take a less beneficiary form as a yokai who takes the form of a hairy old man and peeps in on you while you use the bathroom.

Special fusing Jack Frost, Power, and Tam Lin creates Frost Ace. The two moves Frost Ace gains from leveling up are Hamaon at level 43 and Bufudyne at level 44.

_Frost Ace is another member of the Jack clan who has no mythological basis, instead being part of the mascot roundup. He has his origins in the chibi-based Devil Children spinoff games and somehow managed to get from there to Strange Journey and the SMTIV duology. He’s Jack Frost as a superhero, and that about sums it up.

And lastly, for a special fusion actually on our level we have Kinmamon. This one breaks our bank with a special fusion of the four higher Elements (that’s Gnome, Salamander, Sylph, and Undine if you’ve forgotten). Her sole unlearned skill is Megidola, attained at level 61.

Kinmamon was the head goddess in the regional variation of Shinto found on the Ryukyu Islands. She dwelt in a palace on the sea floor and was associated with prosperity, verdant life, snakes, and the sea. Her religious ceremonies were undertaken by women rather than men, and the kanji that makes up her name is even used to denote shrine maidens in modern Ryukyuan written languages.


#84

Well I thought it would be nice for Toki to join the group and get some character development in, but it turns out I have to strap in for F O R C E D L O V E T R I A N G L E S.
At least Adramelech’s dead. I didn’t expect to fight him so soon, but being the last boss of a moon phase this important is a pretty good way to go out.


#85

Ah yes, love triangles. My favorite. Especially when the main character is a silent protagonist with barely enough personality to fill a teaspoon.


#86

Master… Master.

Are you awake?

Hehehe. You’re so vulnerable when you’re asleep.

I feel like I could watch you sleep forever…

Well, that got weird fast. Could we go back to the dream visions?

Is that, um, weird?

No alignment points here, thankfully, just choice of dialogue.

How long have you been here?

About twenty minutes.

The door wasn’t locked, so I figured I’d keep an eye on you, to keep you safe.

I got to see you sound asleep.

Toki laughs like a normal girl.

Toki suddenly drops her smile.

Someone’s coming.

Asahi shoves herself between you and Toki.

What were you doing to Nanashi?

Nothing in particular.

No, no! You were definitely up to something!

I don’t know what you’re accusing me of.

But why do you care about what I’ve been doing with my master? It has nothing to do with you.

I’m sure this bickering can wait.

I never thought I’d say it, but thank you, Gaston.

Gaston enters the room, along with the rest of your friends.

You tell him about the broadcast yet, Asahi?

Not yet…

Broadcast?

Fujiwara’s giving a speech about Flynn’s rescue.

Presumably he’ll clarify your mission from here on out.

Hallelujah and I may be parting ways with you.

Does that mean…

But we don’t know what’s going to happen until we hear it.

That’s right, so let’s head on over to the Hunter Association.

Indeed. Let’s head over there now.

And this is just for the live feed.

Imagine what it’s like at Kasumigaseki.

I’m not good with crowds…

Yeah, I’d believe it.

You hear people talking around you.

Hey, you hear about Flynn?

Yeah, he’s safe now, right? And the Divine Powers destroyed. Helluva day.

Hopefully they can keep the momentum, take out Merkabah and Lucifer too.

Word is he’s going to make an appearance to talk about that.

That certainly explains the rabble.

Hmph. Why is it always about Flynn? There ought to be more praise for me, Navarre!

I’ll just start that list with “you’re invisible” and leave it there.

Gaston receives a message on his Gauntlet.

What?! I’m no longer captain…?

What’s it say?

Hallelujah peeks at Gaston’s Gauntlet.

Let’s see…

As of now, Mikado is completely sealed. All Samurai in Tokyo are ordered to return at once…

The Crusaders have been dissolved.

Gaston hangs his head in silence.

The unit he served in no longer exists… Same goes for his position as captain.

Just like that?

The excitement and commotion begins to die down as the speech nears its start.

You look away from the shocked Gaston, turning your attention to the monitor.

You’ve undoubtedly heard the rumors by now, but…

Flynn appears from behind Fujiwara and addresses the crowd.

People of Toko: I have returned.

This is all thanks to you, who worked so hard to rescue me.

Now, it is my turn to rescue you. I vow that I will save Tokyo!

Yes!

Tokyo’s safe!

The immediate threats are Lucifer and Merkabah.

The Eastern Kingdom of Mikado has enacted a strict isolationist policy.

Merkabah does not approve of Tokyo and Mikado banding together.

I believe that the people of Tokyo and Mikado should join forces, leaving behind old prejudices.

This is nothing more than the tyranny of angels.

They burn bridges with those who wish to cooperate, and isolate those who support them in a paradise.

This is nothing but self-righteousness twisted by the desire for power.

My fellow Samurai should have received orders to return to Mikado.

But just this once, I would like you to think for yourselves. Should you return to that unnatural country?

Then you have no need to return.

Escape from that country ruled by foolish angels and start a new life here as citizens of Tokyo!

And, I ask of you, the people of Tokyo…

Please find it in your heart to accept the Samurai who have chosen to remain here.

We are all humans – no one is greater or lesser than anyone else. Let us join hands, and become a new people!

You may feel uneasy or scared. But fear not – I am with you.

Quite the rousing speech. Maybe laying it on a bit thick, though.

I believe in Flynn! Let us join the people of Tokyo!

The Eastern Kingdom of Mikado is corrupt!

All hail Flynn!

Flynn walks off the stage to roaring applause. Fujiwara and Skins take his place.

The Hunters will join Flynn in the final battle.

Let us bring peace back to Tokyo!

With the Divine Powers out of the picture, we’ve got a chance now!

Tokyo for humans!

The coming battle will be unlike any other.

The speech has ended, but the excitement in the audience has not died down.

Hmph… I suppose it was a pretty inspiring speech. For Flynn…

I’m sure your speech would have been terrific…

Flynn’s looking out for his fellow Samurai.

Yeah, he wanted them to know there’s a place for them here, in Tokyo.

I doubt that they’ll abandon their homes that easily.

My guess is, most of them will return to Mikado.

And what do you expect me to do?!

Don’t know what to do with yourself anymore, “captain”?

Do you know the hell you’ve put us through?

What?!

You’re not our captain.

You’d better remember that when we get back to Mikado.

The Samurai depart, leaving Gaston alone.

Hallelujah tries to talk to Gaston.

Why don’t you just stay in Tokyo like Flynn, and –

I don’t need your pity!

And it’s SIR… Damnit.

I will follow my orders and leave Tokyo.

What? I was just starting to think of you as a fr –

Don’t.

I never considered you my friends.

Irrelevant. A Samurai follows his orders.

I understand where you’re coming from, but…it’s too bad.

Gaston heads for the door without so much as glancing at you.

But if you got up there then…then…

Then we’re going to have to fight! Don’t you get it?!

With clenched fists trembling, Gaston silently walks out of the Association.

Eh. He’ll be back. They always come back.

And that rough departure is interrupted by a new quest notice.

Looks like we have to go to the new Hunter HQ for more details.

Pretty obvious what it’s about, though.

Good thing Gaston didn’t see this.

We don’t know the details yet.

Master, let’s head to Kasumigaseki.

Once we get to Kasumigaseki, we’ve got this Hunter guard saying hello. You may recall him from his ole in sitting at this exact same door. Guarding it. Like he is now. This answer has no repercussions on our alignment, but we’ll be nice.

Of course.

That’s right, we met at Kasumigaseki. You do remember!

Well, anyway, I have something for you – a keycard, from Mr. Fujiwara.

Here, use this to accesss the underground’s second level. It’ll get you into headquarters.

Sure is something that Mr. Fujiwara depends on you. Even makes ME happy!

Well, good luck!

As can be seen here, basement 2F is where we can find the Terminal for teleporting to Kasumigaseki at long last, as well as the seat of command for Skins and Fujiwara. There’s even a shop in one of those other two rooms.

One run by a familiar face, no less.

Napaea?! What are you doing here?

Oh! Nozomiiiii!

Napaea jumps onto Nozomi.

Hey, Napaea! Don’t cling to me like that… Oh well.

So, why are you here? What are you doing?

I swear…

Didn’t I tell you not to talk to strangers?

Hehe! Sorry!

Napaea doesn’t seem shy at all, and is smiling happily.

Well… I guess I don’t mind as long as you’re not making any trouble.

You certainly let your people get the better of you…

You can say that again…

Long story short, all of the things in Napaea’s shop are quite expensive, so we’ll leave that alone for now and get on with our duty.

I’d offer you a cup of coffee, but there’s no point.

Even with the Divine Powers gone, we’re still at war with the angels and demons.

Time’s running out.

Thanks to the Divine Powers, we’re really hurting for firepower.

We can’t just disregard the Samurai’s retreat.

So I’d like you to gather some intel for us.

You will infiltrate Mikado with Isabeau.

Yes, if it’s not an imposition.

You turn around to see Isabeau, Flynn, and Dr. Matsuda.

There’s nothing more motivating than having Miss Isabeau around, hehehe!

I’m glad to see your enthusiasm. We’re of better use to the people of our lands if we work together.

Skins glances at Dr. Matsuda.

Right now, the Sky Tower and Mikado are separated by a Domain.

This Domain – Purgatorium – can only be entered by those approved by the angels.

So I whipped these up.

These are basically mock-ups of the Samurai’s Gauntlets.

The Gauntlets have a special function the angels use to identify people.

But it turns out they work a lot like your phones. The function’s like when you activate a Terminal.

So you can think of these as your fake IDs.

If the angels buy it, you should be able to pass right through the Domain.

One slip up and you might not return.

That’s right, try not to look too suspicious.

Since this is a reconnaissance mission, you’re in it alone.

You won’t have any backup.

A different team will investigate the movements on Lucifer’s side.

Aren’t you coming too?

Flynn shakes his head.

There’s no way I could hide my appearance.

Your appearance… Wait, I just realized something.

Samurai have to be at least 18, right?

Yes, everyone undergoes the Gauntlet Rite upon turning 18.

Those who can activate a Gauntlet are inducted to the Samurai order.

What do this have to do with anything?

Asahi whips out a hand mirror and holds it up to Hallelujah.

Hallelujah doesn’t remotely look 18.

Brutal but fair, game. Brutal but fair.

Yeah, well, youk now… Maybe they’ll guess I’m not 18…

There’s no “maybe” about it!

Hallelujah looks crushed.

Toki silently pats his shoulder.

Oh sure, like you’re one to talk!

It’s too bad I don’t have my mask anymore… But I’ll figure something out.

That’s it! We’ll just disguise ourselves!

That might actually work… I can try putting some makeup on you, Asahi.

Really?! Great!

Is there anything around here that we could use for a wardrobe? Props, maybe?

Oh, good, I love this Whose Line is it Anyway? round!

Moving ahead, the gang starts prepping for this mission. There’s not a lot noteworthy that happens…

…Other than this deserved crushing blow during Navarre’s attempt at peeking in on the ladies’ changing room.

Anyway, moving even further forward to the results of this costume escapade.

What is it, Asahi?

This is so much fun. I don’t usually wear makeup!

Toki shoots a look back at Asahi, then walks over to you.

You’re looking good.

Humanity is doomed.

Why should I care?

Dayum!

Wait! But do I still look 15?!

Not so sure about the fake mustache…

A mustache is an age-old symbol of wisdom and maturity!

Sure, old timer. I’m just saying it’s a bit –

They may not look at your whatever, but my mustache cannot be denied!

Isabeau lets out a sigh.

I’ve got a bad feeling about this.

You aren’t the only one.

Okay, play time’s over. Ready to go?

There’s only one way up to Mikado, and that’s through the Sky Tower.

To the Sky Tower it is!


#87

Equipment

Paying through the nose after a grindfest, I’ve spent a load of money at Napaea’s shop buying everything except our sword (which is still our crazy Orochi blade) and accessory (which I attained from a gift box at the Hunter Association).

Gun: The 90P Machinegun has 139 base damage compared to the Scar’s 109.

Bullets: Way more of a leap than our gun is the bullets it has. While the Pink Shot was useful, its 51 power has now been upgraded to the 111 power Prometheus Shot. This ammunition also deals Bind, which may not be as fun as Charm but works well enough.

Head: This set is the White Stealth, which is pretty good on top of making you look like Sam Fisher disguised for a rave. The headgear has +60 HP, +26 Magic, and +12 Luck.

Body: White Stealth’s body portion provides resistance to Gun and Dark, with no weaknesses. Hooray! It’s got +119 HP. All three types of Stealth body armor provide resistance to Gun, but the second resistance changes depending on color; on top of White Stealth’s resistance to Dark, Gray Stealth resists Ice and Green Stealth resists Force.

Legs: White Stealth leggings provide +119 HP and +26 Agility.

Accessory: Finally, as a reward for completing thirty challenge quests, I’ve gotten the Sage Bracelet. Equipping this bracelet provides +57 MP and +20 to both your Magic and Agility stats.

Party Member Updates

Getting to level 65 has allowed Navarre to learn Doping. This support skill allows you to effectively give someone the Life Surge passive for the current fight, boosting their total HP by 30%. The only catch: you have to top off that extra addition to their HP bar, meaning this move needs a healer to pick up what Navarre’s putting down.

Fusions

Fusing Taotie and Hagen produces Oumitsunu sans his normal Force weakness. This big lug still has the ability to learn Tarukaja at level 66 and Titanomachia at level 67.

Oumitsunu, also referred to as Omizunu, is the grandson of Susano-o and a god-king in the mythological history of the Izumo province of Japan. In his most famous legend, the Kuni-biki, Oumitsunu expanded the land by using a rope and his huge farming spade to hook and haul in land from other places such as Korea. This gargantuan god may also be the inspiration for yokai known as the daidarabotchi, immense giants said to have made land features such as Lake Biwa and Mount Fuji.

I’ve attained Anubis through the fusion of Dominion and Sleipnir. Unlike its Dark equivalent, the newly spotted skill Judgment Light is not a unique skill, so it can be passed on to other demons. It’s obvious why, as Die for Me! is Alice’s gimmick attack and all, but it’s kind of a shame there’s no other severe target-all Dark attack to have alongside it. Anyway, Anubis’s three unlearned skills are Dekunda, Light Pleroma, and Dark Pleroma at levels 61, 62, and 63.

The famous wolf-headed deity of the ancient Egyptian religion, Anubis was a god of many talents…all of them having to do with the dead, admittedly. He presided over embalming and mummification, including that of his possibly-father Osiris (Anubis’s lineage is one of those things that changes varying on the myth in question). He also helped the ba (the individualistic aspect of the five-part soul, which also actually happens to be a demon in the series that has just gone unused since the late 90s), guarded over the tombs of the dead, and performed the important weighing of the heart.

In the weighing of the heart, the ba that Anubis helped guide over into Duat would be weighed against the feather of truth on a scale. Heart lighter than the feather of truth? Congratulations, you get to stay in Duat! Heavier? Bad luck, Ammut the Devour gets a tasty soul snack and you are plunged into oblivion. After Alexander the Great rolled in and Egypt became more or less Greek for the several hundred years of the Ptolemaic dynasty, Anubis and Hermes were syncretically combined into the god Hermanubis.


#88

Hallelujah’s fake mustache is the best part of that whole disguise sequence.


#89

It’s easy to find where you need to go from the Sky Tower: just take a Terminal to the Sky Terminal outlet, head to this nearby ladder, and head up into the rather ominously named Hall of Grief.

Oh, and we have a Samurai outfit even though nobody else in the party has to wear one as a disguise. It’s garbage armor with only +12 HP and resistance to Ice at the cost of being weak to Fire. Luckily, we can take it off once we’re through the angelic checkpoint without having to worry.

Those permitted entry step through a distortion rippling in the air.

This must be the entrance.

We can’t afford to get caught, so just play it cool.

S-sure… N-no problem…

Is this really going to work?

You walk up to the gate. The angel inspects you.

You make it through with no trouble.

You may pass.

Your allies also make it through without any issues.

The guard’s priority is definitely the Gauntlets, not the garb.

Hold up…

Asahi is stopped at the checkpoint.

Asahi can’t seem to keep it cool. She’s tensing up, her voice quavering.

You are wearing makeup. Makeup is a corruption invented by Fallen angels.

He’s not wrong. The fallen angel Azazel was cast out of Heaven for teaching humanity how to make armor, weapons, jewelry, and cosmetics. Kind of harsh if you ask me, but I’m not YHVH so what do I know?

You also look…dreadful. Like a tarted-up clown. Ease back on it.

That, however, is purely uncalled for.

Hurry along. You’re holding up the line.

You manage to slip by unnoticed, despite the hiccup.

You quietly step through the gate.

Hey! What are you laughing at!

Tarted-up clown? I can’t believe you got fashion advice from an angel!

Ow!

Stupid angel!

Forget about it. We made it through, didn’t we?

Nozomi is clearly holding back her own laughter, shoulders shaking.

Ugh, can we just go already?

Indeed. Go we shall, and more specifically go upward. That’s the rule of progressing in the Firmament. Just don’t jump in any holes, as those are fast travel paths downward.

Multiple rocky floors later, and we have finally reached the Eastern Kingdom of Mikado, where Flynn’s tale began.

I never thought air could smell so good.

So that’s the sun. It’s even brighter and warmer than I imagined…

What I wouldn’t do to live peacefully in a place like this with the fairies.

Here again. So many bad memories flooding my mind… Oh, how I long to return to Tokyo…

Isabeau shows you around.

There’s a Terminal nearby as well.

Before this statue broke, it was a true monument to King Aquila.

In the Law route of Shin Megami Tensei IV, you get to see the transformation of Mikado under the rule of the angels firsthand, including the fall of this statue due to the angels considering it an idolatrous image.

He was the founder of Mikado. Legend says his name was once Akira.

Akira? That’s the name Hunters hate.

Meeting?

You just returned from the Unclean Ones’ country, correct?

You are to be briefed at the next meeting.

All Samurai are ordered to attend.

Thank you.

The Samurai gives you group a casual wave and returns to patrolling.

How could anyone think of war in a beautiful place like this? It’s time we all learned to just coexist.

It would seem we have a bit of time to ourselves. Allow me to show you around the city in the meanwhile.

Isabeau guides you around Mikado.

Aquila Plaza has several amenities for you to use at the moment. The blacksmith S has the same things in her arms and armor shop that Napaea does in Kasumigaseki, the apothecary C has items in stock that are on par with the mid-tier item shops in Tokyo, the barracks are like sleeping in your bed at Kinshicho, and K’s tavern acts as the local Hunter Association equivalent for delivering items and such. There are also other areas of the castle that are purely for dialogue.

Our actual main job here is to talk to random people around Mikado until the meeting pops up. Most have vaguely flavorful but ultimately inconsequential statements to make, but this is certainly interesting. The lake, eh… We’ll have to check that out. But first, a quick trip to the luxuror quarters.

Luxurors are the upper class caste of Mikado. The angels have abolished the feudal social stratigraphy of the country above the Firmament, as all sinless folk are equal in the eyes of YHVH and all that, but societal change doesn’t happen in a day.

Yes. He’s returned from Tokyo.

And was stripped of his rank upon his return.

Hey, are you catching this?

Let’s see what they know.

Hallelujah asks the men about Gaston.

Come now. That’s not quite fair, the boy does work hard.

Especially since that bit of trouble with his brother Navarre.

Gaston’s simply trying to clear his family name.

He worked his way to captain, but I suppose we know how that turned out.

It must be hard on him.

Navarre… I wonder what happened to him.

His father acts like he’s dead.

Hmph. Like father, like sons. None of them has a bit of shame or respect.

The men finish their conversation and walk off.

I can’t blame my father or acting like I’m dead.

My family has existed in the upper echelons of Mikado for generations.

Our family name carries such weight…

I couldn’t live up to that, and so abandoned my post as a Samurai.

It must have been equally trying for Gaston, that he’d push himself like that.

This whole affair is definitely a slice or two…or twenty…of humble pie for Navarre. It also helps humanize Gaston’s assholishness a bit.

Who’s acting? You are dead.

WHA?!

Well, I’m glad someone pointed that out. Was afraid I might have to.

Unfortunately for Navarre’s moment of reflection, equal to Gaston’s assholishness is the smartassery of the rest of our crew.

Lake Mikado’s the third stop on our trip around Mikado. Talk of spirits isn’t something to be ignored.

You lie down and close your eyes…

The wind strokes your cheek as the sun’s warmth eases you to sleep.

We’ve spent so many days out here at Lake Mikado, after all…

When I thought about this being our last nap here, I couldn’t bear to rouse myself.

So I don’t want to hear, “you promised to wake me up, Issachar!”, eh?

Drat, but now’s not the time to argue. We must hurry –

Definitely an interesting vision while it lasted. Not the same person’s memories as all the times before. How strange…

You open your eyes to find Asahi shaking you awake.

You realize there’s something in your hand…

Enough napping. We’re supposed to be gathering info, remember?

This brief – and, indeed, optional – event will be intensely confusing for anyone who hasn’t played Shin Megami Tensei IV, so I’ll take a moment to explain.

Flynn, Walter, Jonathan, Isabeau, and Navarre weren’t the only ones to take the Gauntlet rite together. One other young man, Flynn’s childhood friend Issachar, underwent the ritual…and failed. Issachar would become consumed by his failure and eventually appear as a demon of the Undead race, one of the first bosses of SMTIV. Nanashi just experienced some of Flynn’s memories of the good times with Issachar, before the time came when he had to end his oldest friend’s life in Mikado’s Kiccigiorgi Forest. It appears Issachar’s restless spirit hung around even after those events transpired, and we now have his fishing hook.

The final noteworthy event before the Samurai meeting is at the monastery.

Pretty busy in here.

The monks are typing away at their PCs.

It seems they are digitizing old books.

Probably don’t have time to talk to us. Let’s just have a quick looksie at their data.

Are we allowed to?

I’m sure they won’t mind.

Long story short, the only data we find confirms what the visions have already been noting: an unknown individual created the Firmament by sacrificing himself to Masakado. Afterwards, Skins attained Masakado’s katana and kept it safe for the years it took to find Flynn, the new rightful wielder.

Hey, check it out!

Hallelujah waves you over.

He found a Gauntlet.

This is the real deal.

And if you can turn it on, you become a Samurai.

You gotta touch it, man.

Sure, we’ll humor him. Choosing not to just leads to you bumbling into the Gauntlet and touching it that way.

YES! That’s what I’m talking about!

Submitting to peer pressure, you touch the Gauntlet.

The Gauntlet starts glowing.

A monk notices and rushes over.

What is this, how can this be?!

How did you activate this Gauntlet?! No one has ever activated this one!

Oh come on… It was working a second ago.

DON’T TOUCH IT! That is a priceless treasure!

What? It’s not like we broke it. I think we might have fixed it

Leave this place immediately!

You have angered the monk.

There doesn’t appear to be anything else here. You decide to leave.

How strange. Wonder whose Gauntlet that was…

In any case, heading to the four locations we just did activates the option to head to the Samurai meeting, our main goal.

A monk steps out in front of the crowd.

It seems everyone is in attendance. May I have silence, please?

I, Abbot Hugo, will hereby open this –

This matter is too important. I shall take over, Hugo.

Hugo steps back and Jonathan takes to the podium.

Abbot Hugo was a self-aggrandizing and pompous leader of the clergy in Shin Megami Tensei IV, constantly sending Samurai on errands to collect random goods from Tokyo under his command and generally wanting to make himself look good. Unfortunately for him, once the angels took over, he was no longer useful and has become more or less an impotent figurehead of the Monastery.

Our Lord sheds his light upon you.

It’s God…

God has descended!

The time has come to purge the world of Lucifer and the unclean Tokyo.

Tomorrow shall begin…Armageddon.

We will defeat Lucifer and take the Yamato Perpetual Reactor.

Tokyo will be drawn into a hell so deep that light cannot escape it.

Our Lord’s purification will at long last be complete!

At last, we shall have peace! The Millennium Kingdom shall be at hand!

That is what the Creator… What YHVH desires.

The Millennium Kingdom is yet another reference to Revelation. I know, it’s almost as if that book is an important inspiration for apocalyptic fiction or something. After the trumpets, an angel chains up the Devil in the bottomless pit for a thousand years. Christ and his followers rule for this millennium, after which the Devil is loosed again in a questionable move and allowed to do what he does best. After that, he gets axed for good, and is tormented for eternity in a lake of fire and brimstone. As Jesus doesn’t really play a starring feature in the SMT series, the Millennium Kingdom here is instead ruled over directly by the angels.

Beware of Flynn.

Some of you may know him as a fellow Samurai, but his words are not to be trusted.

He has betrayed us. Indeed, his agents lurk among us this very moment.

Merkabah points right at you.

How could they have ever found us? Perhaps the really bright red clothing on Nozomi? Or Hallelujah’s gold jacket? Or any of the other things that don’t match the Medieval European aesthetic of Mikado’s citizenry? …Nah, surely not. Must have been a lucky guess.

Everyone turns to look at you.

This…is not good.

Arrest them.

Following Merkabah’s order, the Samurai surround you.

You are knocked out and arrested.

Being conked out may not be a good thing, but it does give us a chance to delve into another vision. As always, Nanashi experiences it from the perspective of Akira.

I’m going to stay here.

Just like that you’re going to join up with the angels.

A flash of static…

This is the same flashback from our update involving Medusa, where Gabriel tells humanity to abandon civilization, so reference that if you need a refresher. Another flash of static brings it back to Skins, Fujiwara, and Akira in the Firmament.

Abandon civilization…! Who cares about the sun if we’re just gonna be slaves to these angels?

Are you saying we head back to Tokyo, then, after making it this far?

Don’t you get it? They want us to leave!

…?!

There’s no denying that we humans are weak.

But if we gave up, that’d really be the end of us.

You intend to control the angels?

Yes. I will outsmart the angels and create a country where humans can live.

I won’t align myself with anyone. I’m going to find my own path.

I’m going to find the middle path.

The middle path, huh?

Then we’re coming with you.

Yes, someone has to return order to the humans in Tokyo.

So you expect us to just leave you here?!

It might look that way. But we’re still a team.

I’ll work from up here, you work from down there. We’ll reach the middle.

We will return to Tokyo and establish order.

You’ll stay here and establish a new country for humans.

We’ll do what we can for the common goal.

We’ll go and meet the other.

In Tokyo, we’ll use the demons to find a way to survive.

All this time I thought you were just talking out your ass.

This whole time, huh? Well, I had to get something right eventually.

The three start laughing.

Fujiwara pushes his glasses up.

Someday we’ll all look at this sky again. Together.

Yeah, someday. Together…

And now these scattered visions all come together. Akira never betrayed the people of Tokyo – he merely optimistically thought he could outsmart the angels and create Mikado as a kingdom for humanity. Little did he know that there was time dilation between Tokyo and Mikado, and that twenty-five years below the Firmament ended up being over a thousand above. Not only did he never live nearly long enough to see Fujiwara and Skins again, the angels used Mikado to their own ends. Hopefully our heroes can set things right, but first we need to get out of this jail cell…


#90

Wild Demon Encounters: Firmament

On top of Abaddon, Angel Army, Dominion, Throne, Girimehkala, and Gogmagog, we can find a handful of new demons in the stretch of Firmament that connects the Sky Tower and Mikado.

Lorelei, nixie of the River Rhine, is a simple dualistic demon as far as being affected by damage types goes – weak to Electricity, nullifies Force. She starts with the skills Mabufudyne and Lullaby, then learns Marin Karin at level 59 and Makarakarn at level 60.

On the left our our buddy Gogmagog is Queen Mab, a level 61 demon of the Night race. She resists Fire, Ice, and Force but is weak to Electricity. Her skills are Diarahan and Sexy Dance from the start, Amrita at level 62, and Mazandyne at level 64.

The Persian spirit Peri is the strongest of the Nymph race at level 62, and has the dichotomy of nullifying Fire and Light while being weak to Ice and Dark. Her starting skills are Diarahan and Me Patra; leveling her up gets you Chakra Walk and Mediarama at levels 63 and 64 respectively.

The ravenous Nidhoggr is a level 60 of the Drake race. The great dragon at the foot of the World-Tree is resistant to Physical and Gun attacks, repels Ice, and is weak to Electricity and Light. Its skills are Grand Tack and Poison Breath from the get-go, Madness Nails at level 61, and Eat Whole at level 63.

This angry inferno is the level 64 Wildfire Horde, which nullifies Dark, repels Fire, and is weak to Ice. The horde’s offensive moves are Eat Whole, Maragidyne, and Nihil Claw.

Cherub is the second highest level demon of the Divine race, befitting its status as the second highest angel on the nine-tiered angelic hierarchy. Cherubim nullify Light, drain Gun and Force, and are weak to Electricity and Dark. They start off with the skills Heaven’s Bow and Megidola, proceeding to gain Makajamaon at level 72 and Gun Pleroma at level 73.

Fusions

Yet a third unexpected fusion error-only demon shows up! It’s Aramisaki, whose unlearned skills are Sea of Chaos and Blood Ritual (learned at levels 60 and 61 respectively). In yet another moment of dumb luck, a few levels later the High Dark Pleroma she randomly inherited in the accident mutated from a skill useless for her skillset to the very useful Null Dark.

Aramisaki is an obscure goddess of wrath, jealousy, and safe travel over water. She is one of the Sumiyoshi Sanjin, gods of sailing and the sea, and is said to have protected the legendary empress Jingu on her journey across the sea to the land of Silla (Korea).

Fusing Oumitsunu and Taraka creates Black Maria with her Force weakness covered. After inheriting Megidola, which she would normally learn at level 67, her only skill left to learn is Dekaja at level 68.

As with Gogmagog, Black Maria’s influence is twofold. Her mythological origin is in the Black Madonna/Black Mary, which is literally a Virgin Mary that is depicted with darker skin. Her artwork, however, has a more sinister origin: that of L’Idole de la Perversité, an 1891 painting by Belgian artist and theosophist Jean Delville intended to evoke the dark allure of the archetypical seductress.

A fusion of Throne and Kinmamon produces Israfel, sans his usual Dark weakness. The skills this demon learns by leveling up are Mahamaon at level 69 (attained early due to fusion inheritance), Judgment at level 70, and Ally Retaliate (high chance of dealing a heavy damage counter to an enemy that hits an ally with a Physical or Gun attack).

Israfel, or Israfil, is an Islamic archangel that is sometimes associated with the Jewish and Christian angels Uriel and Raphael. He has four wings and is so great in height that his feet are planted on Earth while his head touches Heaven. He sings songs of glory and praise to God in the thousands of languages of humanity, and will one day blow the trumpet that signifies the end of days and judgment of humankind.

Nidhoggr and Taotie fuse to make Taowu with its Force weakness axed. Its two unlearned skills are Sukunda at level 65 and Beastly Reaction at level 66.

Taowu, or Taown, is a beast with the body of a tiger feet of a pig, and face of a man that is the icon of stubbornness and ignorance, causing people to stray from the path of enlightenment with divinations of materialistic things. It is, like Taotie, one of the Four Calamities of Chinese folklore. The other two Calamities do not make an appearance in mainstream MegaTen games, nor do they have art by Kazuma Kaneko, but they do at least appear as chibi demons in the Devil Children games.


#91

Maybe it’s just me but some of the images in this update are broken for some reason? Anyway, it’s nice to find out that Akira had other friends besides Kenji and Kiyoharu.


#92

Every time there’s a serious scene with Navarre, I remember his death was extremely dumb comic relief. I guess they wanted to poke fun at him for being a jackass in SMTIV and also give him some actual development as to why that was the case, but it just makes him a strange character overall.

Everything seems fine on my end, but I had a similar problem the other day. It might fix itself after a while.


#93

I’ve been getting reports on that from multiple people, not just about this update but about uploaded images from imgur in general. It seems that it solves itself after a while at random, but something’s screwy in the pipes it seems. I apologize for the inconvenience it’s causing, in any case.

To Fefnir’s statement on seriousness, comic relief, and Navarre: this is indeed true. I planned on having a big discussion about this at the end of the LP, but I don’t see a problem in hashing some of my thoughts out right now. Apocalypse definitely has issues with tone at times, and I imagine a lot of it comes from the fact that Apocalypse was literally marketed at a young teen audience in Japan. We can sometimes lose sight of the fact that this isn’t a regular age-bracket MegaTen because demons with yonic and phallic symbolism, bloody death, and everyone’s favorite giant penis chariot (who goes beyond phallic symbolism, so he gets his own category in this sentence) are still present.

Now, is this a good thing? …I don’t know. I mean, I like the idea of slightly younger audiences getting introduced to world mythology and this wonderfully twisted series, but I definitely feel like the plot and character development in this game are slightly subpar overall, even with shining points like one that’s coming up in the next update. Now, I’m not one of the people who thinks Apocalypse is MegaTen being ruined forever or anything – I still like it enough to want to devote time to Let’s Playing it, after all – but I’d definitely say that almost all of the game’s weakest links are in its writing. Since the Apocalypse team is working on SMT Switch, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if this was a unique instance, or what ends up being the standard moving forward.

EDIT: Oh, and a word on those sprite-based talk boxes that popped up in the latest update. I decided that rather than making up slapdash vectors or text jokes for every NPC without official art, I’d end up reserving those specifically for characters who aren’t identified by a specific glowing NPC icon (like the Hunter bar scenes and most crowd scenes), and allow NPCs whose sprites are highlighted actually get the spotlight, as it were, to clarify things better. I’ll be going back and fixing a few older posts, like Maruo and Hiroshi, at a later time to match this decision.


#94

Finally!

You’re in a windowless jail.

You’re surrounded by stone walls and iron balls.

I assumed so from the “windowless” part, yes.

Looks like we got caught.

And they took all our gear. I’d say now’s the time to panic.

Morning, Asahi. Welcome to prison.

What happened? Where’s Miss Isabeau?

She wasn’t here when I came to.

They might have taken her somewhere else.

At least we’re safe.

“Safe”? Ever the optimist, I see.

Isabeau is being interrogated. The rest of you will be executed.

Executed?! You’re joking, right?

Gaston averts his eyes.

Oh no… Nanashi, we need to do something!

C’mon, Gaston, get us out of here.

Gaston sighs.

Gaston…?

Your equipment is in the Monastery.

Gaston furrows his brow and looks at you.

Unlike the rest of us, you should still be able to use your demons, without a Gauntlet or a phone.

As for me…I’m done for.

Gaston leaves with a pained expression.

Gaston…

Worry about him later. We need to save our own asses, first.

You’re our only hope, Nanashi.

W don’t have time to waste, kid. Flex some demon strength and bust out of here.

You summon your demons and use them to break through the cell bars.

Well done. You’ve stolen my heart yet again.

WHAT?!

As fun as this romcom routine is, let’s just get out of here already.

I agree wholeheartedly with Nozomi’s sarcastic quipping. After grabbing a random sword off of the wall, the gang rushes outside.

I could have told you that.

Oh, aren’t you real useful after the fact? What were you even doing?

Wh-wh-what, you ask? Well, uh… As a ghost such as I, uhhh…

You’re useless.

Whaaaat?!

Enough. We have company.

I’m not going to sit around and wait to be executed!

You were not supposed to know that. Unfortunate, but ultimately unimportant.

Either die now, by my hand, or enjoy a precious few more hours alive in prison.

Or we can kill you and survive.

Your defiance is an affront to the Lord. I have no choice but to terminate you all.

Escape is futile. Reinforcements are en route.

While sharing their name with the horde in Tsukiji Konganji and Firmament, don’t mistake this level 65 Angel Army for their lower level compatriots. For one thing, rather than nullifying Force, they are weak to it; they’re also weak to Dark, resist Electricity, and nullify Light. If they survive your onslaught, they’ll typically use Tarukaja followed up by Hades Blast. The horde can also use the skills Grand Tack, Hamaon, and Maziodyne. With the brokenness of High Force Pleroma + Floral Gust and a full set of other weakness-targeting skill users on my party, though, they crumple like tissue paper.

Damn… I didn’t think our Leader was this strong.

I wouldn’t have expected any less of him.

But I’m afraid he’ll have to keep it up a little longer.

It’s okay! You’ve got this, Nanashi!

Asahi’s completely right. Second verse is almost the same as the first, though now they’re a bit ruder and will throw around Ziodyne, Maragidyne, and Grand Tack rather than going for Physical prowess. They also now have a weakness to Ice and nullify Fire. Still, they’re no match for a well-oiled war machine.

Asahi tries to hug you.

Just before she can, Toki grabs her shoulder and yanks her away.

We’re not safe yet. Also, he’s mine.

Can we please just focus on the whole angel-slaying part? Please? For me?

What’s THAT supposed to mean?

Enough, both of you. Toki’s right – it’s too soon to start celebrating.

You heard our feathered friend, “reinforcements are en route”.

First thing’s first – we gotta get our gear back.

Gaston said they stashed it in the Monastery. Lead the way, Nanashi!

You head to the Monastery.

Unclean Ones, listen well.

They must have guessed we’d come here…

An angel appears from the back.

“Be not afraid” indeed. This charming fellow is Azrael, and according to Islamic theology he’s the face(s) you get to see when you die, as he’s the one who takes the collect call on your soul for God. He’s one of the four Islamic archangels, along with Gabriel, Michael, and Israfel, and has four faces, four thousand wings, seventy thousand feet, and a coating of eyes and tongues along his body that represent the various people living on Earth. Whenever one of his eyes blinks, it means that a person has died. He also writes down in a great book all those who are born, and erases their names when they die. Azrael got his job as the angel of death due to being the only angel that was able to successfully gather the soil to create Adam.

I knew you’d come for your equipment.

Unclean Ones – your very presence stirs chaos in the Eastern Kingdom of Mikado.

I cannot allow you to remain here.

In the name of our Lord, I will smite you.

Boss Battle!: Azrael :crossed_swords:

As he says, you’re entering a fight against a level 68 Herald with no allies and no save between Azrael and the Angel Armies that preceded him. Luckily, Nanashi got to keep his equipment for whatever reason, so we aren’t suddenly missing a chunk of HP or anything.

Oh, and never forget that you can switch out demons if it’s useful. I had Adramelech in my team to deal with the Angel Army, but he’s going to be very much a non-entity for this boss fight and ends up getting benched on the first turn.

Azrael resists Physical, Fire, and Dark, repels Light, and is weak to Ice. Not being weak to Dark is a pretty big “gotcha” moment for those who are expecting Azrael to play like other archangels, but if you’ve played previous MegaTens featuring him or already know about his whole “angel of death” deal you could probably suss out he’s not going to be weak to his own specialty.

You’re strength is admirable. …Very well. I propose an arrangement.

After taking only 1,500 HP of damage, Azrael already stops to offer some manner of deal.

Offer your soul to me, and the other Unclean Ones go free. Yes?

As counter-intuitive as it may seem, offering your soul here is a good idea, both for the results and a smattering of Peace points. You can also say you are keeping your soul, which will annoy him but cause no alignment shift, or ignore him and keep attacking for some Anarchy points.

So, you’re willing to trade your life for the lives of your allies. Very well, I shall have your soul.

Azrael casts a spell that puts you to sleep.

Odd, I cannot remove his soul. Could it be…? It’s been claimed by another!

Inconceivable! Tricked by a mere human…

Azrael is agitated!

Azrael’s defense power decreases.

I’d say a free Rakunda in exchange for an easily removed ailment on only one party member isn’t a bad deal, but you’ll ultimately have to decide that for yourself.

The most annoying thing Azrael can do is cast Makarakarn. It means his weakness is closed up for that turn, and you can only use Gun or Almighty attacks to deal normal damage to him on top of that due to his resistance to Physical. He will alternate between it and Tetrakarn on different rounds, the latter being way less of a hindrance than the former.

On the offensive, Azrael is capable of using several existing skills and one special one unique to him and him alone. In the former category, he can utilize Agidyne and Mamudoon.

The interesting thing about Azrael’s unique skill, Blink of Death, is that you’ll almost never see it if you’re playing smart. He pretty much only uses if he’s got Smirk (he prefers the target-all coverage of Mamudoon for his Dark needs most of the time), which means either you came into the fight with a demon weak to Fire or Dark (as I did in a replay of the fight just so I could get a screencap of the attack) or he got a lucky crit. If you recall from the lore behind him, Azrael’s eyes blinking means somebody’s died, so you can probably guess what this attack does. On its own, Blink of Death acts like Mudoon plus Rakunda, while Smirk makes it always instakill on any demon not immune to Dark.

Around 4,000 HP of damage in, Azrael makes this statement and the gloves are very much off.

Comrades! To arms!

The angels immediately begin to bet the ever-loving shit out of your team, unsurprisingly.

Nanashi!

Hmhmhm…

An army of angels suddenly surrounds you.

You drop your guard and stop resisting.

Regardless of what you do, you get beat down.

Azrael looks down on you smugly.

There is no choice but failure. Is this it for the fight?

Humans live unto the Lord and die unto the Lord. You need only believe in us.

Humans live for themselves! You can’t tell me what to believe!

Hallelujah steps forward with a determined look.

Hallelujah… What are you doing?

I didn’t want you to know about this.

I didn’t want you to think of me like this.

But for now… I want you to know that I’m on your side.

Suddenly, Hallelujah grimaces in pain and then disappears in a blinding light. And when it recedes…

Rrrrrraaaaaahhhhh!

Hallelujah tears an opening through the enemy formation.

So all along… Hallelujah was…

We’ll talk about it later! For now, just take care of these feathered freaks!

Hallelujah to the rescue! While you may have been fooled into thinking that this was an unwinnable fight like Odin’s, it’s not. We’re going to tear right through the angel of death with our ally’s full strength.

You are Filth beyond even that of the Unclean Ones. Your continued existence itself is heresy!

No longer leashed by hiding his true power, Hallelujah is capable of utilizing Megidolaon and two spells that he and he alone learns: True Agidyne (severe Fire damage to one foe) and True Bufudyne (severe Ice damage to one foe). This elevates him from being situational support to being a combo of support and a force of pure Magic annihilation.

I need you to trust me – I’ll make it count!

At 9,500 damage taken, Azrael…doesn’t talk, actually. It’s Hallelujah, thinking up some sort of plan. You can choose to either trust him for a bucket of Peace points, distrust him for a bucket of Anarchy points, or ignore him entirely for a few Anarchy points. Even if you’re going for the Anarchy path, though, I’d say it’s not a bad idea to listen to him in this case.

You place your trust in Hallelujah and attempt to distract Azrael.

Hm? What now? Do you wish to beg for your life?

Hallelujah leverages the opportunity to deliver a mighty blow to Azrael.

Gah! Such impudence!

A free True Bufudyne and rendering Azrael Dizzy is a pretty nice reward for the simple act of trusting a friend.

Azrael clocks in at around 12,000 HP. The biggest danger from him is Blink of Death if you let him get a Smirk off, while his most annoying stunt is Makarakarn, which can prolong the fight by forcing you to take a turn not actually targeting his weakness. I’d bring at least one or two demons with a heavy Gun attack – all the better if they’re also demons with Ice attacks, of course – just to keep dealing at least normal damage on him while he’s got his magic shield up. The reward for slaying him is 69,942 experience points and both an Attack Mirror and Magic Mirror.

I bet you didn’t see that coming…

I’m a half-breed. Half human, half demon…

Demon’s blood runs through my veins.

My mom always told me that my dad was a demon…

But I never wanted anyone to find out.

That’s why I hid my power.

I’m going to discuss the mythological concepts behind Hallelujah’s parentage at a later time for reasons that will become clear at said time, but for now I’ve got to at least say that his character development is probably the best one at this point, even ignoring the fact that his competition is mainly childish love spats. It’s definitely something to realize just how much Hallelujah has been holding back all this time for the sake of wanting to belong.

Remember that punch he gave to Gaston? Had he wanted to, he could have made our Crusader into a bloody meatsack on the floor. And all those times he’s felt guilty over it, he’s probably been worried about what had happened if he had lost his temper worse. It’s one thing to thirst for more strength, and quite another to have great strength but quench it for the sake of others.

I’m sorry I didn’t tell you.

Hallelujah stares at the ground.

Another pretty clear binary answer. Also, he can in fact go back into stealth mode, as you can clearly see.

It doesn’t matter.

You’re just going to let it go?

Aren’t you scared? I’m a demon! That has to at least be weird.

Eh, it’s no more weird than being an entity that walks on the threshold between life and death, and probably could count as a demon himself.

Not…really. I mean, Nanashi hasn’t been human for a while now, so…

Like I said.

Oh…

None of us are what you’d call “normal”. I’m a fairy queen, myself, after all.

Are you really okay with this?

Thanks…

Uh, anyone seen Toki?

Here.

What the! Geez, you scared me… Where’d you run off to?

I felt a sob story coming so I went to look for our stuff.

Tell me you found them.

Of course.

Sitting with the rest of your stuff is the Gauntlet you touched earlier.

Oh yeah, it’s the Gauntlet.

Dude, you are looking really intensely at that thing.

A powerful urge to take the Gauntlet passes through you.

You pick up the Gauntlet.

You obtain Broken Gauntlet.

I have an idea.

Even if we can make it to the Sky Tower, we’re not getting past that gateway again.

Yeah, that’s not happening.

So let’s think outside the box, then. What about using Mikado’s Terminal?

can we even do that?

Well, it IS a Terminal, and it’s obviously there for some reason, so…

But remember what Professor Matsuda said when he gave us the fake Gauntlets?

The authorization code programmed into the Gauntlets is how angels identify Samurai.

He said that code is a lot like the ones our phones use to activate Terminals.

So what you’re trying to say is as long as we have a phone, we’re good to go?

I think so.

Wait, I’m sorry. I don’t follow.

Ah, okay. Got it.

You share a look of agreement with the group to go forward with Nozomi’s plan.

asahi: Well, let’s find this thing already!

From what Isabeau’s told us, the Terminal’s not far from here. Let’s hurry.

The Terminal, if you recall, is one of the locations you could choose to visit in Aquila Plaza, so we already know where it is and can head there swiftly. An interesting note to make is that the “overworld” music for Aquila Plaza (and the rest of Mikado, for that matter) has changed after our imprisonment, escape, and conflict with Azrael. While it was originally a jaunty bagpipe-laden tune, it has transmuted into “Reign”, a vaguely unsettling choral piece that also acted as Mikado’s overworld theme if you chose to side with Law in Shin Megami Tensei IV.

You use your phone to access the Terminal.

Oh, great. What’s that mean?

It means you heretics can’t escape.

Wow, it’s a Throne speaking for once! Usually it’s the Powers and Dominions who do all the talking for the angelic rank and file.

We downloaded your smartphone and fake Gauntlet data when we confiscated them.

Then we reprogrammed them, thus ensuring you couldn’t use the Terminal system here.

Did you really think you could outwit us, Unclean Ones? Your interference ends now.

Is now the time to cut and run?

Are you saying we’re stuck here?

This Terminal was our last hope.

If that’s a bust, we’re in big trouble.

Nozomi’s usual cool is notably lacking.

She’s wearing a confident smile, but you can see through the mask that she’s tense.

Just work, you stupid Terminal! Work!

After making that off-camera statement, Gaston appears and guts the Throne that was hassling Nanashi and crew. See? Told you he’d be back.

Gwaaahhhhh!

Gaston! You saved us!

Save…? Hmph. I don’t know about that.

There’s nothing left for me here.

No one needs me. No one recognizes me. Why should I stay here?

The Terminal will take you there, yes? Take me with you.

My Gauntlet should activate it.

Do it! Do it now!

Calm down!

The blinding light subsides and your vision returns to normal.

You managed to escape Mikado in one piece.

That was a close one. I really wish I could lay down a sec…

I hope Miss Isabeau’s okay…

Where are we?

If it went where I intended, we should be in Kasumigaseki.

Man, if Gast – er, Sir Gaston hadn’t come then, we would have been screwed.

O-okay. Thanks, Gaston.

Thanks…?

Hmph. That’s not why I did it.

I know. But thanks anyway…

Hmph…

Gaston looks away and snorts.

And with that, our party’s almost fully together yet again. Only Isabeau is still lost out there somewhere.

Well, it’s certainly convenient that Gaston sent us to Kasumigaseki.

Let’s report our findings on Mikado.

Alright. Let’s go, Nanashi.

And by “go”, she means “go like ten feet, because we’re in the same room as the door to Skins and Fujiwara”.

At HQ, Skins has about as warm a welcome for us as one can expect from Skins.

Let me get Fujiwara and you can give us your report.

After he waves Fujiwara over, you have four dialogue options for your report: the nature of the citizens of Mikado, the meeting held by Merkabah, Isabeau’s capture, and the mysterious Gauntlet. Since we’ll have to do them all anyway, I decided to just go down the list as ordered.

You report the status of the citizens of Mikado.

I see…

Fujiwara has a pained expression in his face.

You report about the Samurai meeting.

I don’t like it, Fujiwara.

Fujiwara and skins sigh deeply.

You report about Isabeau’s whereabouts.

Fujiwara tries to hide his concern.

You show them the Gauntlet you found.

Hm.

It looks like it’s broken to me.

Dr. Matsuda will take a look at it.

You give Fujiwara the broken Gauntlet.

You’ve reported all the information you gained in Mikado.

I’m ready for it.

We’ll go down fighting at least. We won’t side with the angels or demons.

Agreed.

Well done. That’s all for now.

After finally completing our jaunt to Mikado and informing HQ of our findings, we get a big reward of 214,765 experience and 64,000 macca.

I’m sure you’re tired.

If that’s everything, I’d suggest you save your energy.

Hear that, Nanashi? Let’s call it a day.

Another moon phase down. This one’s had some crazy highs and lows, but Hallelujah’s highs definitely beat out the lows, definitely. We’ve also had Gaston finally come to terms with the fact that is on a different path than the Samurai who follow Merkabah, and both he and Navarre have started to let go of their pride. Now if we could just get Toki and Asahi to reconcile, everything would be dandy.


#95

Sidequest: Please Help Ken

That’s right in front of Ikebukuro’s Terminal, so probably the easiest quest to find yet.

Yeah, man, we’re the good guys. Isn’t it better to give it to us?

The Ashura-kai are bullying around a man and a child.

You’ll really let me off the hook after this?

Oh, definitely.

Liars! You said that last time and took our food!

Don’t give it to them, mister!

Shut up, kid!

Seems we have another conflict on our hands. And as usual, we’ll stick our noses right in the middle of it.

Oh…! Thanks, mister.

Who the hell do you think you are?

Hallelujah looks confused.

Abe wouldn’t usually let this slide…

Oh! Ken!

Back off, Hunters. This is Ashura-kai’s problem.

Ken shoots Hallelujah a dirty look.

You too, Hallelujah. This area’s my problem.

Yeah. I’m counting on you.

Ken steps in to defend the man and child.

It doesn’t hurt to pad the wallet a little bit, right?

People are already gathering tons of supplies.

It’s not a big deal to take a little off the top, is it?

How many times do I have to tell you to leave the honest folks out of this?

But check out how much they’ve got…

The deal is we look after Ikebukuro.

You screw up the deal, you make me look bad.

Use your heads for once.

What’s wrong with taking a few things? Huh? Nothing!

Who the hell do you think you’re talking to?

Ken beats up the men with his bare hands.

Damnit!

Get out of my way, kid!

The men rush at you, looking for a way to escape.

And then the most amazing magic trick: three distinct sprites become three of the same sprite!

These are Ashura-Kai Men, level 59 humans whose only scary trick is that they know War Cry. Otherwise, they’ve got Charge, Barrage (weak Gun damage to all; ooh, so scary!), and that’s about it. They nullify Light and are weak to Dark. The fact that each one has enough HP to take a Mudoon to the face three or four times in spite of their weakness is about the only thing that doesn’t make this fight even more one-sided.

72,506 experience from beating these guys isn’t the worst reward given how easy they are.

Dammit! Dammit dammit dammit!

Pathetic. And you call yourselves Ashura-kai.

Guh… Grrgh…

You got something to say to me?

Shut up! Just shut up!

We just took what we could!

Shut up.

They signed up for this job. Why did they think they could get away with extortion?

Ken seems to be evidence for why the Ashura-kai is tolerated at all. Presumably, in amidst the scum, there are at least a decent number of Kens and Hallelujahs to keep the organization from tipping over into being hated by anyone and everyone. We just mostly get the assholes because they’re more fun to fight.

I apologize about my men.

What are you Hunters doing here, anyway?

I asked them to come here.

What?

I put in a request to deal with those Ashura-kai guys.

I don’t need any help!

?!

I know they’re no good.

But now I’m no different…

If you write someone off like that, you never give them the chance to prove otherwise.

I’ll deal with it. It’s my job.

Ken…

Stay out of Ikebukuro.

Ken hefts the Ashura-kai men onto his shoulders and walks off.

Ken always seems to be so busy. I thought he could use the help.

I’m sorry, Mr. Hunter. I know if he worked with you, things would be easier…

As gruff as Ken is, we’re sure not staying out of Ikebukuro. Who knows, we may see him again in the future.

For now, though, we collect a further reward of 43,886 experience points and a bunch of high-selling relics.

Fusions

A bunch of extra cash means a bunch of extra fusions.

My Barong is fused from a combination of Aramisaki and Taowu, his weaknesses to Dark and Force both removed. The two skills he learns from leveling up are Nihil Claw at level 69 and Endure at level 70.

Barong, lord of spirits, is the ultimate figure of good in Balinese mythology. He most often takes the form of a lion-like beast covered in a pelt of long white fur and wearing golden finery, but can also show up in other guises such as a buck-toothed giant or a majestic naga. He is the arch nemesis of Rangda, the vile witch who represents the ultimate evil, and the two eternally do battle in the form of ritual costumed dances. In his most famous battle, Barong casts a blade-warding charm on the warriors of King Airlangga of Kahuripan to save them after Rangda placed a hex on them that compulsed the men to attempt to commit suicide with their own kris blades.

In one of the few cases I’ve actually used an Element demon to make something on par with the rest of my team, Mahamayuri here was created by slapping a Salamander onto the dualistic Aztec deity Ometeotl. While not weak to Dark, I gave my Mahamayuri that passive to help him act as our healer for the fight against Azrael. The two skills left on his skill list as Null Nerve and Doping, attained at levels 68 and 70 respectively.

Mahamayuri, the peacock king, is one of the wisdom kings of Buddhism. He is typically depicted as having four or six arms and riding a peacock, and helps ward off poison and drought. Why the peacock association? Like a decent number of other long-legged, ground foraging omnivorous birds, peafowl will potentially kill and eat snakes. In the case of peafowl these snakes are almost always juveniles, but the association is there nonetheless.

Forging the twin energies of Barong and Wu Kong together provides us Quetzalcoatl sans that Dark weakness we exploited in our battle with him. He learns Maragidyne at level 68 and Mazandyne at level 69.

Adramelech, once our most hated foe, is now one of our subordinates through a special fusion of the horse-like Kelpie, Aztec sun god Tonatiuh, and demonic Murmur. Thanks to Tonatiuh’s ancestry, Adramelech’s weakness to Ice is gone. The three skills Adramelech learns from leveling up are Eat Whole at level 69, Fire Pleroma at level 70, and Bloody Glee at level 71.


#96

Okay, the forced love triangle was actually worse than I was expecting. What’s even weirder is that I kinda like Gaston now. Who would have guessed?
I need to check out more Barong myth, I’m not actually familiar with them at all. Eternal dance battles with a witch sounds amazing, though.


#97

The sound of a new message on your smartphone rouses you from your sleep.

It seems that every since Asahi learned to let Nanashi sleep in, everyone else has gotten in on the act of preventing him from getting rest.

You reach for your phone to check it.

The text reads:

“War conference being held soon.”

Conference will be broadcast across every Association.”

“All Hunters expected to watch.”

Asahi dashes into your room.

Your other allies follow behind her.

If they’re holding the conference now, it can only be about one thing.

Merkabah’s Armageddon. That’s probably what they’ll be talking about.

Well, not much we can do until we hear what Fujiwara has to say. Let’s go.

Time to go back to our favorite bar.

Fujiwara steps into frame on the monitors.

Fujiwara here.

Lucifer and Merkabah have requested we hold a video conference.

I’m sure you’ve all guessed what this is about.

But let’s hear what they have to say.

I see no more need for diplomacy.

Allow me to be direct: I am ending the ceasefire.

Seems fitting that you would be the one to end it.

I’m glad you understand.

As your rats have no doubt already informed you…

My Godslayers – the Samurai of Mikado – march toward Tokyo as we speak.

Upon their arrival, we shall bring forth Armageddon.

Such a hasty move. Casting aside patience, Merkabah?

Hasty? You are ignoring the magnitude of this problem.

It doesn’t translate through text, but Merkabah’s voice actor says that line as “THAT Flynn”, in the same tone that that Yosemite Sam would exclaim “Oh, I hate THAT rabbit!”, rather than “you are ignoring the magnitude of this problem, that problem being Flynn”.

Agreed. But I will not abandon the Yamato Perpatual Reactor to you.

The ceasefire is over, Merkabah.

The war has begun, Lucifer.

I call to you, people of Tokyo – join me in our Lord’s army.

Those who do shall be granted the right to live above the Firmament.

Do you really think the humans will believe your empty promises?

Salvation is at hand for those who believe.

My army shall expose your salvation for the lie it is.

We will defeat you in battle.

And then we will down YHVH.

The Hunter Association has chosen its stand.

We will fight with Flynn, and defeat both Lucifer and Merkabah!

You cannot trust the angels or the demons.

Hunters: a strict no-conscription outfit.

Those who desire freedom, join us at Camp Ichigaya.

That is all.

So…Armageddon. A simple term that has grown to have vast usage. Its original appearance is in our good friend the Book of Revelation, and is a Hellenization of the Hebrew “Har Megiddo” (Mount Megiddo). Megiddo is a locality in what is now northern Israel that saw cycles of construction and conflict throughout the Bronze and Iron Ages. It is not, in fact, a mountain, and is traditionally referred to as the Plain of Megiddo or city of Megiddo, but let’s just skip over that and talk about the big end-game here. In Revelation, demons that look like frogs go forth to gather all of the rulers of the world at Har Megiddo to engage in a great war on the day of judgment set forth by Adonai Tzva’ot (“The Lord of Hosts”, one of YHVH’s many monikers).

Certain sects of Christianity (and some other faiths as well) have taken this to mean a literal war to end all wars fought between the unbelieving armies of the Devil and the faithful of God, while others see it as a figurative display of the ultimate spiritual warfare that rages between good and evil. Either way, Armageddon has made its mark on our consciousness, and even in secular media the term itself and the general theme of a great end-war show up. When you have literal Revelation-style Armageddon, it’s usually coupled with the idea that humanity can subvert the will of the Almighty and put a kibosh on the final conflict. MegaTen games go to that particular well fairly frequently, including right here with SMTIV: Apocalypse.

The bar erupts with conversation about the conference.

We have our own hero – Flynn. We’ll show those two assholes how we do in Tokyo.

I-I can’t do this anymore. I’m joining Merkabah I want to get my family away from all this fighting.

He’s right. I’m tired of living in constant fear because of the demons.

Why? Life on the Ceiling isn’t worth letting the angels walk all over you.

Letting themselves be misled by the empty promises of others, lost and desperate for something to cling to.

None of 'em trying to find their own way.

Like I’ve said, dependency compromises freedom. Don’t make the same mistake, kid.

Dagda’s that one guy who hears the adage “no man is an island” and then thinks really hard about how to make a scathing retort out of “well, ACTUALLY, every man is an island”.

Hallelujah receives a text message. He frowns as he reads it.

Who’s it from?

It’s from Abe. The Ashura-kai will be siding with Lucifer.

You’re not leaving us, are you?

I know I should help Flynn.

But I can’t betray the Ashura-kai. I don’t know what to do…

Hallelujah looks desperately at you.

What will you say to Hallelujah?

You can choose to tell Hallelujah to stay with the gang, or head back to Abe. Choosing to tell him to head off just ends up causing Asahi to scold you and Nozomi to give Hallelujah a speech about inner conviction that convinces him to stay anyway, but it does give you a big bundle of Anarchy points, so we’re staying away from that.

Stay with us.

Leader…

Okay. I’ve made up my mind.

This is my answer.

Alright!

Hmph…

It’s settled then. We go to Camp Ichigaya.

Let’s put an end to Lucifer and Merkabah once and for all. Together!

And thus, the fellowship heads out once more.

On our way out of Kinshicho, a familiar face happens to manifest.

Do you guys know him?

It looks like you have some new faces with you. My name is Stephen.

This girl is the Goddess of Tokyo. She is Tokyo itself, and she responds to the hearts of the people of Tokyo.

The Goddess of Tokyo is a factor in the original Neutral path of Shin Megami Tensei IV. She doesn’t actually correspond to any particular goddess of real world mythology, and is honestly one of the weaker points of IV’s story.

She has lost her original power now that the people are divided.

Tokyo is at a critical juncture. The future depends on your choices.

She’s concerned.

You should be able to choose the path you want to walk.

Paths, you say? Paths related to someone’s…alignment, perhaps? Surely not an indicator of our near future, though, that’s just silly.

Good luck.

Stephen and the Goddess of Tokyo leave the way they came.

Choose our path…

Hmph. You’d think he’d at least provide some concrete directions.

Come on, dude.

We already know where we’re going. Camp Ichigaya.

Let’s be on our way, Master.

Grrr…! Come on, Nanashi. We’re going.

After getting close to Camp Ichigaya, we’re stopped once more, this time by Hallelujah’s musings.

I think so.

But with Tokyo in this state, I’m worried how many will even make it to Ichigaya.

Let’s keep going, before we get caught up in all this fighting.

I don’t think we can avoid that now.

A horde of angels suddenly surrounds you!

Only thing we can do. We’ve got to take them all out!

These are just more of the same Angel Army hordes encountered before fighting Azrael. It’s not any more difficult now than it was then.

Phew… Thought we were goners for a sec. Glad we made it.

Don’t lower your guard yet.

If we stand around, we’ll be attacked again.

He’s right, we’ll be in no shape to take on the big guys if we fight every enemy we come across.

Let’s hurry to Camp Ichigaya.

You’ve probably passed Camp Ichigaya a dozen times on the overworld map by this point, but now we can finally enter it. This former SDF base is now home to Lucifer’s forces. It should also be noted that, as with Mikado, the overworld map of Tokyo has had a change in music. It’s gone from its original somewhat chipper tune to a more downbeat one.

Asahi spots Isabeau in the crowd.

Asahi?! So you came…

We’ve been so worried about you ever since Mikado.

I’m glad you’re safe. How did you get out?

I’m fine. They didn’t do anything to me.

I was just sent here with the rest of the Samurai.

They released me because the country’s in a crisis. I suppose you could say I’m on probation…

The Monastery said it was an honor die for Merkabah.

If you’re on parole, will you be fighting for Merkabah?

I’m surprised anyone, even Toki, would ask this. Isabeau’s the most loyal ally out of all our party.

No. I plan on fighting for the people of Tokyo. Just like Flynn.

Would you mind if I joined you again?

Of course! Now we’ll be unstoppable!

And thus we get Isabeau back for the…what, third time now? Fourth? I’ve lost count.

Humans have rallied behind the Hunter Asosciation, Merkabah, and Lucifer in equal number.

So the defectors joined up with the Samurai… I was hoping I wouldn’t have to fight former Hunters.

Some of our allies may have joined Merkabah, but we still have Flynn.

The final battle will be fought deep in this facility, where Yamato is housed. People of Tokyo, we march!

The citizens of Tokyo raise their weapons and let out a battle cry.

Skins, I will go alone and infiltrate through a separate route.

You too, Skins.

Flynn will separate from the Hunters and act on his own.

You join the Hunters entering through the front.

You see someone in the distance in front of you.

Was that Abe? So he’s here, too.

As nice as it would be to just walk through the front door, that’s not gonna happen, so we need to search the place. It’s not a teleport maze, thankfully, so you aren’t going to be horribly lost. For a rough estimate of where you need to head first, go up to the second floor, then find your way down to a unique area of the third basement.

Once you’ve found this nice shiny portal down in B3F, you get a rude welcome.

A horde of Lucifer’s demons block the way.

You want in? You gotta get through us, first.

Not that you weaklings stand a chance!

Meet Barbatos, in quartet form! This Goetic demon can find and unlock treasures hidden by magicians, reconcile broken friendships, and speak the language of animals. He’s a level 69 Fallen with very high Dexterity to fuel his love of Gun attacks. Barbatos resists Dark, nullifies Force, repels Gun, and is weak to Fire. He starts out with Stun Needles and Heaven’s Bow, then learns Hellish Mask, Zandyne, and Myriad Arrows at levels 70, 71, and 72.

Since these are regular enemies with a bit more HP than usual, you shouldn’t have any trouble eating the Barbatos alive (literally so if you have Eat Whole on one of your demons). Once they’re dead, you can step through the portal to find…

Welcome to the Chaos Realm, AKA Lucifer Castle. Its gaudy ostentatiousness is matched only by its high demon count.

What is that? That! What is that?!

An army of towering angels marches toward the end of the path.

Uh, the angels in here are a little more badass than the usual brand…

Did you expect any less?

This is Lucifer’s stronghold. Neither the angels nor the demons will hold back.

It looks like they’re evenly matched. This could go on for a while.

We have to end this Armageddon before it spirals out of control.

The gimmick to the Hall of Eternity, the first area of the Chaos Realm, is that there are two almost identical rooms with the same name (in this case, Hall of Eternity A). Once you figure out the difference, it’s fairly easy to find what door teleports you between the two rather than around the same room. In this case, there’s one Hall of Eternity A with a Spring of Healing, and one without. The one without has a “boss ahead” warning on the lower left door here. Obviously, we’re going to barge right in.

Lost lambs, you overestimate your strength.

Do you truly believe anything as powerless as humans could live without gods? Demons?

If you will not learn your place, then bear witness to the strength of Belial.

The term “sons of Belial” appears multiple times in the Bible. As Belial is Hebrew for worthless, one could interpret this as “worthless sons”…or you could do what Roman era Jewish writers, occultists, and John Milton did and have Belial be a specific demon. In the Dead Sea Scrolls he is the angel of darkness, whose “counsel is to bring about wickedness and guilt”. In the pseudephigral text known as the Ascension of Isaiah, he’s the same demon as Samael and Satan, and his realm is that of utter lawlessness. In John Milton’s Paradise Lost, the fall of Sodom and Gomorrah into sin is through the actions of Belial.

I’ve come to realize…

Humans are incapable of their own strength. They inescapably need to rely on others.

If humans become dependent upon carefully constructed order, the world will stop evolving.

That is why I joined Lucifer’s quest to put humanity through trials time and time again.

Chaos is the cause of human growth… This, I will teach you.

Boss Battle! Belial

Under the rule of being a bright red guy associated with hellfire, Belial nullifies Fire and Dark but is weak to Ice.

Belial’s all about the burning. His unique skill is Fire of Lethargy, which acts as a combination of Agidyne and Acid Breath. If he’s not using one of his three Press Turns to cast Fire of Lethargy, he’s probably casting Maragidyne or Trisagion instead. Trisagion is the non-unique equivalent of True Agidyne, dealing severe Fire damage to a single target but costing more MP than Hallelujah’s signature skill. This doesn’t really matter at the moment, mind you, as neither partners nor bosses use up MP (don’t ask me why partner skills have listed MP in spite of this).

He also has Mortal Jihad if he wants to deal Physical damage, but usually only pulls this out if he already has extra Press Turns and wants to get Smirk from a critical hit.

Oh, and then there’s Will of Flame. Do you have a demon that resists, nullifies, drains, or repels Fire? Congratulations, for this turn they don’t do any of those! The effect works for allies as well, though this doesn’t matter for Belial as a lone boss.

This 14,000 HP walking furnace is a one trick pony, but that trick involves dealing a ton of damage. Will of Flame means you can’t rely on just walling all of Belial’s attacks, so your best strategy is instead bulking your team as much as possible and then laying into him with a barrage of your best Ice attacks. I’d suggest either going the Asahi healbot route or having a demon on healing duty in exchange for Hallelujah in your partner slot dishing out True Bufudynes.

You’ve beaten me… I like it. Haha…hahahahahaaaa…

A god has granted you power that frees you from dependence… Hahahaaa…

Don’t listen to him, kid. His hollow words have no merit.

Actually…Belial does kind of have a point. Dagda’s ethos gets pretty Chaotic at times, as much as the game wants to paint Anarchy and Peace as two Neutral roots.

You’ve shown me new possibilities. I regret nothing. Glory to chaos!

There’s something up ahead. Perhaps it’s a portal forward.

The air there shimmers with distortion.

Alright! Let’s go.

It doesn’t seem strong enough to dispel the barrier, however.

The shimmering distortion brings us back to the entrance of Camp Ichigaya. Conveniently, slaying Belial has gotten us the Seal of Delusion, which removes that annoying fire barrier we saw upon first entering. Unfortunately, it’s not good enough on its own.

Nonetheless, we’ve made progress. We’re about halfway through Camp Ichigaya, in fact. And if there’s one boss with half of the key…


#98

Party Member Updates

At level 70, Isabeau attains Megidolaon, giving us yet another Almighty attack option.

At level 72, Nozomi gets her final skill, Mother’s Discipline. This target-all attack deals three medium damage Gun attacks on each enemy and removes Smirk.

Toki has also learned her final skill upon reaching level 75. It’s Mist Rush, an attack that deals two to four medium damage Physical attacks on random foes and can inflict Daze.

Wild Demon Encounters: All Overworld Areas During Armageddon

As Armageddon looms, the overworld becomes flooded with numerous demons of vastly disparate levels, from ones on par with you to those that you have long surpassed. These include both the level 62 and 65 versions of Angel Army, Archangel, Decarabia, Gemori, Israfel, Lailah, Orias, Nebiros, and Power. There’s also a few faces that we haven’t encountered or fused (fused “on camera”, at least) yet as well.

Dantalian, the many-headed Goetic demon of thoughts and knowledge, is resistant to Fire, Ice, and Dark, nullifies Force, and is weak to Electricity and Light. He starts out with the skills Makakaja, Makajam, and Makarakarn, leveling up to learn Sabbatma at level 55 and Makajamaon at level 56.

The level 67 Fallen Horde is the demonic counterpart of the Angel Army, made up of Bifrons, Halphas, Melchom, Ose, and Dantalian. The horde resists Ice and Dark, nullifies Fire, and is weak to Gun, Electricity, and Light. Its skills are Agidyne, Blight, Mazanma, and Tetrakarn.

An angel who appeared in the dreams of St. Patrick, Victor/Victoricus is the second weakest of the Heralds and resists Force, nullifies Gun and Light, and is weak to Electricity and Dark. His skills are Hamaon and Heaven’s Bow from the offset, further learning Makarakarn and Light Pleroma at levels 62 and 64 respectively.

Wild Demon Encounters: Camp Ichigaya

Striking an image that would almost certainly be terrifying to encounter face to face, the level 69 Defiant Horde is weak to Ice and nullifies Dark. Skills-wise, this group can pull out Energy Drain, Hades Blast, Mudoon, and Panic Voice.

The level 66 Snake Pendragon nullifies Electricity, repels Ice, and is weak to Gun and Dark. This physical powerhouse has the skills Titanomachia and Acid Breath at the start, then levels up to gain Charge at level 67 and Draconic Reaction at level 69.

The vampire foe of Kresnik, Kudlak appears in Camp Ichigaya as a level 66 Ghost. He resists Fire, nullifies Dark, and is weak to Gun and Light. His starting skills are Energy Drain and Tarukaja, while his level-based ones are the complimentary Pandemic Bomb and Death’s Door at levels 67 and 68.

Barong’s nemesis Rangda shows up here as well. She’s a level 68 demon of the Femme race who repels Physical and is weak to Electricity. Her skills are Binding Claw and Mazandyne at the start, Madness Nails at level 69, and Recarmdra at level 70.

Ym is a level 65 Drake from ancient Semitic mythology, appearing as the draconic foe of Baal. He resists Dark, drains Ice, and is weak to Electricity, and his skills are Concentrate and Mabufudyne from starting level, Sea of Chaos at level 67, and Energy Drain at level 68. As a foe, he also has the enemy-only skill Enigmatic Ray (heavy MP drain on all foes). In reference to the fact that the myth of the primordial war between Ym and Baal may come from the earlier myth of the primordial war between Tiamat and Marduk, leveling Tiamat to level 60 causes her to transform into Ym.

Wild Demon Encounters: Chaos Realm

On top of new demons shown below, the Chaos Realm gives you a second shot at recruiting Gemori, Master Therion, and Murmur if you didn’t get them in the raid on Tsukiji Konganji and haven’t fused them by now for whatever reason. You can also find our certified good dog buddy Cerberus from time to time and those Barbatos we fought to get into the Chaos Realm in the first place.

Alciel, or Arsiel if you want to use his correct name, is probably the unluckiest demon on the roster. While he does get to drain Dark and nullify all four elemental damage types, he has the crippling triple-blow of being weak to Physical, Gun, and Light. This demon’s skills are Poison Breath and Tetrakarn from the start and Magaon upon one level-up.

Loki’s canine son Fenrir is weak to Fire and Force, resists Electricity, and drains Ice. His skills are Nihil Claw and Eat Whole from the start, Phys Pleroma at level 70, and Critical Eye at level 71. While not necessarily quite so terrifying that he could scare Odin as he did in the mythology, Fenrir does at least have good numbers in all stats except Dexterity.

The Greek dragon Python nullifies Ice and Electricity, is weak to Force and Light, and has the skills Mamudoon and Fog Breath from the get-go, Pandemic Bomb at level 71, and Maziodyne at level 72.

Fallen Horde not doing it for you? Well then, here’s their upgrade, the level 69 Demon Army. This horde’s weak to Ice and Light, nullifies Electricity, and repels Dark. The members of the horde can use their Press Turns to attack with Madness Nails, Maragion, Mamudoon, or Pandemic Bomb.

Fusions

Kama is a special fusion that is specifically created from Diana and the Slavic deity Jarilo. His Fire weakness is covered, which will allow him to survive better as he strives to learn the skills Dekunda and Dekaja at levels 73 and 74 respectively.

In Hinduism, Kama (literally “desire”) is both one of the four goals of healthy humanity and a deity in the form of Kamadeva. He’s typically depicted as a green-skinned man wielding a bow made from sugarcane and arrows adorned with flowers, often riding either a giant parrot or a chariot pulled by said parrots. Kama is the son of either Brahma or Vishnu and is most famous for the myth wherein he has a really bad day doing his job. The gods are being beaten down by the asura Taraka, who is stated can only be defeated by a son of Shiva. After Brahma tells the goddess Parvati to seduce Shiva, the thunder god Indra gives Kama the job of using his love arrows to awaken Shiva from his peaceful meditation. Unsurprisingly, doing so makes Shiva extremely angry, and his third eye opens to immediately blast Kama to ash. Still, the plan works, and Kama at least gets a slight reprieve as Shiva gives him new life as an immaterial presence of lust across the cosmos.

Cherub and Dormath get fused to create Yaksha, sans his normal Force weakness. His unlearned skills are Me Patra and Makajamaon, attained at levels 72 and 73.

Yakshas, the male equivalent of Yaksinis, are guardian spirits of nature and treasure. Unlike the yaksinis, who resemble voluptuous women, yakshas are typically either hefty dwarves or menacing ogres. They are sometimes physically or sexually violent, but usually appear as foes of evil. If you recall, Yakshas are servants of Bishamonten as well.

Fusing Adramelech and Baihu the white tiger creates Cerberus! He’s a good boy, and now even a better boy without his usual Ice weakness to exploit. His skills from leveling up are Beastly Reaction and War Cry, gained at levels 70 and 71 respectively.

The three-headed hound of Hades, Cerberus was born of the serpentine giants Typhon and Echidna. Cerberus famously features in the final labor of Heracles, wherein the legendary warrior is commanded by King Eurystheus of Mycenae to bring back Cerberus from the land of the dead. Aided by Athena and Hermes, Heracles accomplishes his task, showing Cerberus to a shocked Eurystheus. Cerberus is then either escorted back to Hades or escapes and heads home on his own. Other heroes descending into the realm of Hades such as Aeneus also have to contend with the ferocious guardian of the border between the living and the dead, and in the Middle Ages Dante has Cerberus as the tormentor of Hell’s gluttons in the Divine Comedy.

Fusing Ym and the sun bird Huoniao, I’ve created a Sphinx with both of its usual weaknesses nullified. The two skills it has yet to learn are Grand Tack and Mediarahan (full HP restoration for all party members) at level 72 and 73 respectively.

The sphinx is a figure in Egyptian, Greek, and Persian iconography, taking the form of a lion with the head of a disparate being (a man, hawk, or ram in Egypt or a woman in Greece). In Egypt, sphinxes are typically associated with the guarding of temples and tombs, while in Greece the woman-headed sphinx is a singular entity born from Cerberus’s brother Orthrus. This is the sphinx that is associated with riddle-making and man-eating.

Yaksha and the Taoist judge of the dead Beiji-Weng fuse into Bishamonten. Remember him? Well, now he’s on our side, and the skills he still has left to learn are Hades Blast at level 71 and Luster Candy (all -kajas at once) at level 73.

Unlike most bosses we’ve fought, Belial’s level as a summonable demon and his level as a boss are in fact one and the same. This means we already get to use him, courtesy of his special fusion recipe consisting of Dominion, Inferno, and Orias. Unlike the boss version, however, our Belial doesn’t learn Trisagion. Instead, the two skills he has left on his leveling list are Mana Surge at level 71 and Will of Flame at level 72.

Was it overkill to give Belial High Fire Pleroma, combining with his innate +6 affinity to produce 90% more Fire damage than normal? Maybe. But it’ll be fun anyway!


#99

I kinda like how they mixed Camp Ichigaya and Lucifer Palace together and made it one mega dungeon.


#100

I was going to say, “Oh, that’s how it was in SMTIV,” but I just realized… it wasn’t, was it? Lucifer’s palace was in Camp Ichigaya, but I’m sure they wouldn’t make you navigate it again to reach the warp.

…Right?