: I feel like he’s reacting a day late and several dollars short here. Why didn’t he do this when they first saw the weird star monstrosity?!
: “It – what the hell is going on!?!”
: And now they’re just slathering it on to the point where it’s laughable.
: “I – what!!! Just – can you even believe what just happened!?!”
: “Oh man, dude! We need to get your photos developed!!!”
: There’s actually FOUR exclamation marks in that last sentence but the site truncates them after three. This game is like a graveyard for punctuation.
: “Developed? This thing is digital, baby!!”
: … so uh, why can’t you, you know, just look at the image on the camera’s preview screen? I’m pretty sure even cameras in 1999 had those.
: “So what now? Do we just leave…?”
: “I’m gonna go with: YES!”
: “I still didn’t know where Sammy was… and all we had found was more mystery.”
: “My mom’s on the phone, so if we want to go online we’ll have to go back to your house. Sorry about all the back and forth here…”
: He lives… right next door. Seriously, you can see the elevated area behind his house where we dropped down from Alex’s house to get a chest in the first update. I also don’t get why everyone has log walls around their houses.
: “I was talking to my cousin about this recently - the lifelong implications of seeing something actually, undeniably supernatural. Specifically, your reflection doing something that you were not doing.”
: I remember once, back when I was in English class in my senior year of high school, when we were reading something and the teacher tells us “You have to remember that when people are writing, every single word they put down has a reason for being there. The author thought about where to put it.” I think this game singlehandedly proves her wrong.
: I want you to think back to the last time you heard someone use the word “precocious” in casual conversation. The answer is probably never. Also, I like how Michael goes from “WHOA DUDE WHAT!?!?!?!?” to just paragraphs of pseudo-intellectual horseshit.
: "When I thought about that, I knew it would destroy any respect you had for the rules of life, or the boundaries of what could happen. I asked him what he said and he just shrugged his shoulders and said ‘Eh, kids say weird shit.’ "
: “He told me that his wife said his daughter was just confused. That she probably felt sad, but was smiling from having fun playing.”
: What the fuck is this point of this bullshit!? What the fuck is the point! Get to the point, White Urkel! Get to the fucking point!
: So the point is your cousin has a six year old daughter who might have depression. WHAT THE FUCK DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH ANYTHING YOU JUST EXPERIENCED?!
: “Like, as if her vocabulary wasn’t enough to express depression. But, I don’t know. She is a smart kid and somehow it felt wrong.”
: “Her reflection smiled at her? That’s really creepy.”
: You remember the part from Stranger Things where the kid goes missing and then the rest of the kids spend the entire episode talking about irrelevant bullshit? Of course you don’t, because that shit never would’ve made it to air!
: “Not really. I’ve always had a bit of an interest in it. I always thought that these sort of things follow certain people around.”
: “Like there is something that picks a particular person and forces them to see all the weirdness that others miss out on.”
: Like how you’re picking out your player and forcing them to see all this goddamn bullshit dialogue!
: “You say that with a lot of affection.”
: “I don’t know. It’s just kinda been my thing for a while. Conspiracies, ghosts, missing people, things like that.”
: The worst part of this to me is, they totally could’ve handled this in a way that didn’t involve a cutscene. What if, for instance, they had us go into Michael’s house to search for his camera cable? You go into his room and there’s a really obvious spot where it is, but also things like a bookshelf full of weird conspiracy shit that you could examine to find out as much (or as little) as you care to know. Something like, say, the opening scene of Policenauts where you look around Jonathan’s office.
Nah, that’d be good game design. YIIK’s got no room for that shit.
: "When did you first get into this sort of thing?
: “I can’t remember ONE thing that really pulled me in.”
: Would you care to guess how many more images I have for just this cutscene alone? I take one screenshot per dialog box so I can transcribe them in text format for the LP. From this point, we have… 50 left.
: By the way, this sentence is also outright wrong. Dial-up didn’t work that way: it’s not like DSL or Cable where a company has to put up new wire infrastructure and wire up your house. With dial-up, all you needed was a phone line and a modem - your ISP was a phone number that you set your modem to dial out to. In fact, you had to be careful who you picked as your ISP because what would happen is that your phone company would charge you for the phone calls your modem was making. If you happened to pick one that was long-distance, shit could get out of control real quick.
Some ISPs would also charge you a fee on top of that, most notably AOL.
: “And before long, I realized that information was too scattered. I spent a few weekends learning HTML and before I knew it ONISM 1999 had over 15,000 hits each week.”
: “Wait, you were involved with making ONISM 1999?”
: In fact, the fact that long-distance (and other phone-related charges) could be applied to internet service spawned an entire class of computer viruses called diallers, which were sort of the 90s version of those viruses that use your computer to mine cryptocurrency. Diallers would set your modem’s number to a 900 number - which usually charged a fee up front and then a per-minute fee after that.
: One last thing about dial-up: around this time, my dad had the family computer hooked up to an ISP called “Bluelight”, which was free and offered through KMart, of all places. The service sucked. Anyway, I’m going to be merciful and skip the next… ten images or so. Why?
: Because it’s Alex recapping events that happened not even an hour ago. If I had to transcribe this shit the rest of my commentary for this update would just be incoherent rage.
: “Maybe we can check online for a missing persons report. You could call the police and tell them you know where the video was taken!”
: “I don’t know. There’s still a part of me that thinks that, like–”
: “-- what, you dreamed it? Dude, I don’t know. That’d be a pretty specific dream.”
: “So you think that you went into the factory, came home, and then had a REALLY realistic dream where you met a missing girl you hadn’t seen before?”
: “But – sigh”
: “You see, she didn’t look EXACTLY like the girl in the video. There was something skeletal about her appearance. Something otherworldly.”
: “Dude, just forget I said it. Did the pictures upload?”
: You’d… you’d almost think it’s a horror movie cliche!
: “Holy shit!”
: “Okay, well. Yeah, this is pretty otherworldly.”
: “All my fears were confirmed. What I was experiencing was real. There was no doubt about it.”
: “We uploaded the photos to ONISM 1999 and waited for an explanation. We had our doubters, but more people wanted to believe than not. And with each reply, Sammy got pushed further away from the forefront of discussion.”
: “I explained how the building was the same one from the ‘Elevator Girl Photo’, but everyone was more concerned by the creepy figures in the photo.”
: “Each time my little mailbox turned red, I slowly realized that everyone on this forum wanted the content to be true. They needed it to be.”
: I like how he has no trouble accepting that there’s a monster made of stars, but a ghost? Nah, that’s impossible.
: “I considered myself something of a philosopher in college. I thought I had answers, but now that I’ve come face to face with the otherworldly…”
: His philosophy is “no one likes me, clearly something is wrong with their brains.”
: “I know now that every person who tells you about spirituality, dead people, and all that have no idea what they’re talking about.”
: When this game first got announced, I remember people laughing at it because Alex looked like a lumberjack. I really, really wish he was actually a lumberjack, because maybe then he’d be less of an unlikable dipshit. I seriously thought that Nippon Ichi had perfected the “protagonist who is such an asshole that people actively hate the game” with Disgaea 3, but clearly I was wrong.
: “With the exception of my post, most of the things on that forum seemed like lies.”
: …what. This is like, the worst possible way to introduce this sort of thing. “Oh yeah, there’s just a girl in town who can casually warp reality but, meh. Been there done that.”
: I like how one, they didn’t even bother to change anything to make it seem like time had passed. They’re still wearing the same clothes, sitting in the same position they were before the time skip, and now they’re talking about shit we already just heard about in the goddamn monologue.
: “No, really? Where? She – wait!”
: “Knew you’d get there eventually. It’s that old lady from the arcade!”
: I think the other thing I hate about this cutscene is that neither of them at any point considers the implications of having an unkillable star creature living maybe five minutes down the road. No “hey, maybe we should stop being idiots and swinging household objects at things to attack and get like, a gun or something”. You know what was a memorable scene? The scene in Persona 4 where Yosuke tries to smuggle a katana into Junes. That would’ve really brought something to this otherwise barren wasteland of cutscenes.
: “Geeze, enough with that old crap. She’s probably our age.”
: “Just wait til you’re done with college. You’ll be --”
: “–boring and fat like the rest of your graduating class? I’m looking forward to it.”
: “In the meantime, I will continue to be my interesting, slim, nubile self.”
: Come to think of it, you know what else Persona 4 did well? Having a reason for the characters to be together. Alex doesn’t even seem like he’s friends with Michael so much as it is that he tolerates him. It’d be hard for me to see Michael taking a Summons to Yomi for him.
: “I stand by my statement. Anyway, let’s take another look at these photos.”
: “Wow. It’s just so unbelievable. What is the likelihood that this is a thing?”
: “It’s incredibly unlikely. But since we’ve got nothing better to do, what do you say we visit ye olde Arcade for some air hockey and an interview with a dimensional traveller?”
: There is no air hockey table in the arcade. Or at least, there wasn’t the first time we went there. Now, let’s hope we can get some gameplay in. But first, I’d like to show you just how much of a dick this game can be.
: Not that, though… yiikes. No, what I want to show you is that the shops have new inventory - and buying any of it is a goddamn mistake.
: I sold some of our useless healing items at the pawn shop, and bought a propeller beanie for Michael.
: Now, notice that the Golf Cap (as well as the Fitted Ball Cap, which has even worse defense) is almost twice the price… for a bit more luck and one less defense. The Flannel Shirt is slightly better defense-wise than the Slightly Used Jersey we have two of, but as it turns out the Jersey adds 1 to strength. Not that I think any of these stats matter in the slightest.
: No, the dick move is in the record store, where we can buy the “Strolling Bonez LP” for a whopping $125. It does less damage than the weapon Alex already has equipped (but good luck figuring that out since this game lacks any kind of “compare” option when fucking Final Fantasy had figured this shit out by the SNES era). I bought it anyway, just in case the attack areas were bigger. They’ll be bigger, right? Also, notice the “u87 Keytar”. I wonder who that could be for?
: “Are you kidding me? That’s totally your job.”
: “Just man up and say something to her.”
: “I know how to talk to girls, but she is a senior citizen, man.”
: “I told you to cut it out with that age crap! She’s probably no older than 24.”
: “And besides, aren’t you the nubile one? You’re much more desirable.”
: “Hmm. Yes that’s true, I am.”
: “If you’d like to ogle some women, I’m sure your mothers would love if it you were home in time for supper.”
: “You’ve been taking photos of me!?!”
: What offends me about Vella is not only that she’s as badly written as Alex is, it’s also that she had a cameo in VA-11 Hall-A, which was actually a good game. Hilariously enough, the portrait art for Vella in that is WAY less shitty than YIIK’s is.
: VA-11 Hall-A and YIIK share a publisher, and I’m guessing money from VA-11 was used to fund this pile of trash. There’s no way in hell they got enough money purely off Two Brothers to develop a game for four years. Also, “Personality” followed by a blank space is pretty much how I’d describe every character in this game.
: Now we have a boss fight against the “Mysterious Vella”. Because the devs sped the battle text up so much, it’s hard to see but every turn she’ll call out that she’s “not a mysterious Vella”.
: Unlike… every other enemy we’ve fought, Vella’s attacks cannot be dodged.
: Michael dies in one hit. The reason he has 10 HP is because I bought him an accessory from the Pawn Shop that gives him an extra 2.
: By the way, this is that $125 record. Note how the active spots are no different than they were for the last two records. Vella then kills Alex in a single hit.
: After this, I reloaded the save. Didn’t buy anything this time.
: “Then why were you taking photographs of me?”
: “Hey, we didn’t take the photos! Someone on the internet did!!!”
: “Someone on the internet? What’re you talking about?”
: “If you’d stop slamming our heads together for one minute, we’d love to explain.”
: “Okay, explain.”
: “Exploding things with my mind? I haven’t done that in a while, so I’m sure it’s an old photo.”
: “So you’re not denying that you can do that!?”
: “Of course I can’t. Not with my mind, at least.”
: “Yeah, sure. I live like, five minutes from here.”
: On the run back to Alex’s house, I started just singing Hotel California to myself. YIIK: you can try to escape the cutscenes any time you like, but you can never leave.
: “How exactly do you explain all the blowing stuff up with your mind things? Can you really do that?”
: “It’s not exactly with my mind. I use sound. Remember when I kicked your ass earlier? I used the sound of my Keytar to do physical damage.”
: Oh, so you’re Lucio. Got it.
: “Where did you learn to do something like that?”
: “Oh, years of private practice and studying really.”
: “So tell me more about this website. What is ONISM 1999?”
: “Basically, it’s a place on the internet for people to talk about conspiracies, the occult, and anything supernatural.”
: So, you might ask why I’ve been so quiet for the past bit, and the reason is that it’s around here that we pass the two-hour mark in game time. TWO HOURS OF THIS BULLSHIT! It feels like fucking twenty!
: “That’s behind the old grocery store. Obviously you’ve been there before.”
: “Hmm. Interesting.”
: “What’s your name, by the way?”
: “I’m guessing you’re Camera Man and this is your sidekick, Ginger Boy?”
: “Usually I go by Alex. Only my mom is allowed to call me Ginger Boy.”
: Oh boy, it’s monologue time again!
: “As we told our story, Vella just looked into my eyes and never reacted. As I went on I could tell she was doing her best to understand my story.”
: “Something felt familiar about her, but not in the ‘I’ve met her’ sort of way. Something deeper.”
: “I dated a girl in college who was a Women and Gender Studies major. She told me that she believed men and women were all the same at our core.”
: Bull fucking shit!
: “That we were all made of the same elements, not just on a physical level, but on a metaphysical level. She was a strong believer in spirituality, although she’d be the first to tell you she wasn’t religious.”
: …excuse me, what the fuck did you just say? Did you fucking say “soul mates”? Did you just reference Ni no Kuni? If this fucking game goes there…
: “That unexpected feeling of familiarity you feel when you meet someone for the first time means you were meant to meet.”
: “I personally didn’t believe it. I still don’t think she has all her facts straight… but every time I feel what I felt when Vella looked in my eyes I thought of this explanation.”
: Entities? Oh boy, this game’s going to become Clock Tower 3!
: “Yes, those are the ones.”
: “No, we were too busy running for our lives.”
: “Did you try and take photographs of them, Michael?”
: “Yeah, let me pull them up.”
: “The way she spoke seemed two-sided. As if for a few moments, a side of her that she was trying to keep hidden was visible, and as soon as we noticed she made to cover herself up.”
: “She made jokes more often than she was serious, but when the serious aspect of her personality appeared, I was convinced that’s who she really was. This was almost more fascinating than the information she was giving us.”
: Shout-outs to the typo. I’d ask if anyone actually proofed this script, but we all know no one did.
: “Self-consumed with humanity. Self-consumed with other people. You know, that’s just how they are.”
: This is some serious “tell, don’t show” going on here.
: “A short time ago, I entered into a dark place, both physically and metaphysically. While I was there, I encountered the Entities for the first time.”
: Waiter, this word salad is awful! Send it back!
: “I can’t say what about their presence was so striking to me, but the moment I saw them, I felt something - something that was weighted. Like, their bodies took up the entirety of the room - as if they were the room.”
: As if this game is the videogame equivalent of The Room, only without even the humor value.
: “Something I said upset it, and it tried to grab me. It was almost like a mother trying to smother its child. The pain was beyond description. It scared me to death.”
: “I reflected on her story. I wanted to reply, but something inside me told me to let the words hang in the air. It was as if the longer the pause between her words and mine, the more truth they carried. Finally I spoke.”
: “That’s horrifying! But can you explain what you mean by ‘entered a dark place?’ Or more importantly, ‘physically’ and ‘metaphysically’.”
: “Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that includes the first principles, includes ontology and cosmology, and is intimately connected with epistemology.”
: “Epistemology, is of course, a branch of philosphy that investigates the origin, nature, methods, and limits of human knowledge.”
: Did I check to see if any of this was plagiarized? You fucking bet I did! None of it is.
: “I’m afraid that’s all I feel comfortable telling you. I don’t know you at all and to reveal something so personal seems like I’d be opening myself up to vulnerability.”
: “Opening myself up to vulnerabilty” - there’s another one of those elevator shaking things again.
: “Do you mean to imply that you’ve found a way to exist inside of a metaphysical space? That you–”
: “Enough. I don’t need to talk about this with you. It makes me uncomfortable. Don’t you get that?!”
: “Okay, okay! Sorry. I didn’t mean to piss you off.”
: “Look, I need to get back to the arcade. I was technically in the middle of a shift.”
: She also gives us the number for something else, which I’m going to skip to so we can see some actual gameplay in this update. It’s only another… six textboxes or so.
: You might’ve noticed that although we’ve done a few battles, I haven’t mentioned levelling up at all. That’s because up until this point, we can’t.
: “Also, if we want to call her we’re gonna need to search ONISM 1999 for some interesting posts.”
: The only reason I’m not skipping this cutscene entirely is for this particular line. They… somehow are aware they’re in an RPG, but it’s not like Disgaea where you have Etna pointing out the title on her status screen. What the shit is this game trying to pull? By the way, I did look at ONISM 1999 during the last update, and it’s all just unreadable walls of text.
: “Man, are we even cool enough to hang out with someone like her?”
: Oh, and that one. Any cutscene in which Alex is getting dunked on is still trash, but at least it’s more readable trash.
: The cutscene dimension is not going to let us go that easily.
: “I would love to just come out and say it, but I think it would scare you to death. And that would ruin everything.”
: “Nope. I haven’t figured anything out. Look, if you’re just gonna keep calling me and say vague creepy shit, you should at least tell me your name.”
: “Oh, it’s your BEST childhood friend. Think back to when you met me. We were kids. I think ‘Losing My Religion’ by R.E.M had just become a big hit.”
: “My mom didn’t want me listening to it because she was afraid it would turn me into a bad kid, or something.”
: “I went over to your house and we listened to it on your stereo for hours. My mom came to pick me up from your house, heard the song, and freaked out!”
: “How can you not remember that? It was the funniest thing.”
: “It sounded so familar, and yet, I couldn’t place it. It was like I had read it in a book somewhere, or watched it on a T.V. show. But still, no particular name or day came to mind.”
: “sigh Yeah, you’re right. You probably wouldn’t remember that. Look, I’m going to keep calling you until you remember me.”
: Glad that shit’s over. Let’s take a look at the Mind Dungeon.
: Oh look, it’s the dipshit crow!
: The crow has, and I am not shitting you here, TWENTY BOXES WORTH OF TEXT. TWENTY.
: This blue guy in the corner will level up your party members when you talk to him. I’m not sure how this works: I hadn’t levelled up Alex yet when I talked to him and he made Michael reach Level 2.
: I will confess that I looked up how I should build Alex, and had a little secret leaked to me. We actually don’t want to level Alex up at all past level 5. We have enough experience to get him there, but I don’t want to grind any more than that.
: The Mind Dungeon works a lot like Mario RPG’s levelup system. Each door has a number on it - that’s how much you’ll get in whatever stat you choose. You can only pick each stat once per levelup.
: This is actually a really time-consuming process because each door requires two dialog boxes and a screen transition. This is what I put our level 2 stats in, and how I’ll be levelling up Alex from now on. STR comes first (due to a mechanic we’ll see in a minute), then PP, then HP, and then finally Defense. Stats you haven’t picked in a while get a bonus to keep them up. You might also notice that some doors have a .5 with an arrow next to them. This means it gets rounded to the nearest whole number. Why they bothered with the fractions, I have no idea.
: On the second floor, we get a party skill that is going to make Alex’s attack suck a whole lot less.
: The ability is “Time Energy”, which is a new meter in the top-right. You can have this on for the earlier fights if you use assist mode, but I don’t.
: Time Energy slows down time, which makes racking up combos as Alex way easier. Here, you can see I got 11 hits off just the first yellow block. Time Energy starts full at the start of each battle, and recovers through taking and dealing damage.
: “I think you can see my biceps now!”
: “Hell yeah! I’m not really worried about how I look, I’m more concerned with how I feel.”
: “Yeah, you would say that.”
: “Do you think we’re strong enough to call Vella up?”
: “So what do you think? This interesting enough to bother Vella about?”
: “Yeah, probably not bad.”
Next time, we’ll call Vella and head to Wind Town, for what I’m sure will be an exciting - who the fuck am I kidding, it’s going to be more badly-written cutscenes and we all know it.