Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Let's Play Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth: Prologue E・D・E・N

Day one with Operation Decode's current golden child. More western media attention has been given to Cyber Sleuth than any Digimon game this side of Digimon World, and if Bandai's not going to translate it then I will.

LP format will be screenshot, with some video if I can get an HDMI to RCA converter going for cheap. I'm very interested in Cyber Sleuth's "digital metaverse" because it's fundamentally different from past Digimon Story games. The digital world in the first game was an escapist fantasy, a digital wonderland for kids to leap into through their Nintendo DSes. I was fourteen years old when Digimon Story came out, and desperately trying to get through a high school where everyone's biggest aspiration was to turn sixteen and drop out. One of my peers had been held back so many times that he had already abstained from voting twice. To me, the digital world in Digimon Story (World DS in my country) was one of the last playgrounds where any sense of being a kid was preserved. Eight years later, after twenty-four hours with Cyber Sleuth's digital world I am seeing a volatile underworld completely unlike the cyber summer camp of Digimon Story. Cyber Sleuth is directed at the adults that were kids back when the franchise was on the DS and not the PS...Vita? Is that what this system is called? I got a PSTV for this.

Game of the year, folks. I will call this right now.

This LP will take a hybrid approach of providing a translation walkthrough that summarizes the main points and objectives of the game for those playing at home, while also providing a log of my progress. If you ever read Turnip's Soul Hackers LP way back before all the images died, you'll have some idea of my direction here. Periodically I'll give analysis of the Digimon we encounter, as the game has a burgeoning online play mode.

In terms of spoilers, I will not talk about anything that has not happened yet in each section of this walkthrough-LP, but since this is a translation of the game, if you're waiting until the game gets an official English release you will be spoiled by my summaries. If you haven't seen it already, you'll want to watch the English-subbed Cyber Sleuth trailer. One more thing before we begin: sign the Operation Decode petition, it's 15000 signatures away from hitting the 75k mark.

Cyber Sleuth opens with a view from the protagonist's computer, entering the Enjoy Chat app. Countless chatrooms rotate in space, some password protected and others open.

They choose a protected chatroom, BB--a play on both "Bulletin Board" and "Blue Box." The password isn't your standard chatroom pass; it's more than ten digits long.

The chat is a total mess, of course. There's five or more conversations going on at a time, each aurally represented as a submarine ping floating up from the different levels of BB.

We settle on the lowest floor of the chat. The admin Bluebox is at the bottom left; the protagonist AI◎BA is to the right of him. Above Bluebox is Akkiino, the pink candy avatar.

Akkiino has set the chat abuzz with talk of Digimon. Fantaji (the old man) explains that they're a dangerous hacker program used to compromise security. Everyone is curious about these programs, with reports of them being used to steal accounts and break into password-protected forums. Fantaji points out that some of them are reported to look like monsters, and ArujaNON (the duck) suggests the name comes from "Digital Monster."

Just then, a strange user appearing as the mascot character "Navito-kun" forces his way into the chat, talking about the cyberspace EDEN. Akkiino thinks this is some weird promo campaign for EDEN, but ArujanNON correctly surmises that Navito-kun is a hacker.

A note; I don't know his real gender, but Navito-kun self-identifies with masculine pronouns and a masculine suffix.

"that's right, i'm NAVITO-KUN! a HACKER! i've got a wonderful PRESENT for you all! log into EDEN tomorrow! you must, if you don't log in, i'll HACK you!"
Navito-kun has a "wonderful present" for us, and wants us all to receive it. Naturally, the chat participants are put off by his threats, and once Navito-kun leaves most everyone clears out of BB too scared to go to EDEN. Only three remain; Akkiino, Bluebox...

"I'm going!!"
...and us.

We have the option to play a male or female protagonist. The default names are Takumi (male) and Ami (female.) Since this will be representing me in online play as well, I'm going with male.

A note for importers, you can't enter a name using the default English keyboard. You have to enable a Japanese keyboard in the language settings and use that, although the name can still be written in English (the Japanese keyboard still has English letters for inputs.) I enter my name in katakana because I'm accustomed to reading it that way.

With our gender and name selected, we're ready for EDEN.

The EDEN Entrance is a plaza ideal for meeting up with friends. We don't really know where to go yet to find Navito-kun and we've arrived early, so at this point we're just taking a look around. Users in EDEN are represented by their avatars, but how much they correlate with their real appearances is left to question.

The other users at the plaza are primarily concerned with rumors of hackers on the EDEN metaverse, and hanging out with friends. This little girl received a handheld Digivice for her birthday, a product that's only recently hit the shelves. Incidentally, our protagonist's Digivice is his goggles--in cyberspace, the actual form doesn't seem to dictate much.

After talking to everyone in the plaza's lower section it becomes apparent we won't find any of the other chat partners here, so it's time to move on to another area. But before that...

We find a Gumimon Medal at the top of the plaza. What could this be for?

The Community Area is the second level of the Entrance and another type of meeting ground, but also features EDENNEWS streaming in along with advertorials for products like the Digivice. As soon as we land, we get a call through our Digivice's Talk mode.

It's Navito-kun! He's mad about how slow we are. We're told to meet him at Cron Junk Park with everybody else, but he doesn't give us the URL before signing off. The protagonist is pretty freaked out, seeing as Cron is a romping ground for hackers.

From this we get the keyword "Cron Junk Park." Keywords can be used to open up new dialogues with characters that have a lock icon, helping us progress or find new information.

Cron's name is unusual; it's not a landfill or dumping ground, which are typically called Gomitame or Suteba. The full name is クーロンのガラクタ公園 Kuuron no Garakuta Kouen, with Kouen being the word used for a zoo or public park. The name comes from the Cron software utility, but is also probably a play on クロン "Chrome" from the recurring area Chrome Mine in Digimon Story and Lost Evolution. Chrome Mine is one of the few recurring elements between Story games, otherwise known as the "forbidden land" controlled by strong Digimon.

While in the Community Area we find both the Upamon and Minomon Medals. Really, what ever could these be for!?

Using the Cron Junk Park keyword we got from Navito-kun, we ask this salaryman for help...

...of which he's not much. He's surprised we're trying to go to a hacker's area, but he saw a hacker near the EDEN Entrance, and we did too!

So back at the EDEN Entrance we throw the keyword at this shady looking fellow, and he gives us the URL for Cron Junk Park. Mission accomplished, let's get hacked!

Once we confirm it the Cron URL sends us hurtling through EDEN, beyond the surface platforms and deep into its central core. There's a great fake-out here where they start to play the opening theme and cut it the moment you reach Cron.

Bluebox is on his way when we arrive.

Down below, Akkiino is already at the center plaza.

True to its name, Cron is a hybrid theme park-playground made of trash data.

We introduce ourselves to Akkiino as Touya, the EDEN persona of AI◎BA. In turn, she introduces her real self; Shiramine Nokia, thrilled to finally meet us in person--

--Nnooot!! What were we thinking, leaving her waiting alone in a dangerous place like this!? As for Bluebox he's here already, but he went off looking for some ghost that's rumored to be haunting the place. Nokia's not scared in the slightest, cyber-ghosts being so unscientific and all.

And then a ghost pops up behind Nokia murmuring about hatred and regret...of course, it's Bluebox. Rather, it's the man inside the blue box, Sanada Arata. Now that they're out of the chatroom Nokia can't stand him in person; in the chat he was like a big brother that looked out for you, but now it seems all the good men are really assholes. Total waste of an ikemen.

I absolutely cannot stress enough how amazing Han Megumi's acting is in this stretch of the game. She completely nails Nokia's character, and I can't imagine this translating at all well to an English dub without a really great actor to fill the role. When I replayed this section for more screencaps, I absolutely had to listen through all of her dialogue again instead of skipping it.

There's no sign of either Navito-kun nor the ghost, but what's really suspicious is that there's no sign of anything. The area's deserted.

Navito-kun rings us up promising to give us all our gifts, a world-changing miraculous power. Arata catches on right away as Navito-kun tries to hack our avatars, but the protective wall he puts up does nothing.

Note that Navito-kun talks a little differently in EDEN than he does in the chat. In the chatroom and at the Community Area his text was represented with phonetic Japanese, using colored characters to identify keywords, but in EDEN he starts mixing in kanji (more advanced and less childlike pictograms) into his speech.

Navito-kun's installed the Digimon Capture into our Digivices, a hacking tool that captures digital monsters by scanning them. By receiving it we've all become hackers, a prospect that horrifies Nokia but which Arata shrugs at. Thanks to the protections placed on the program, it can't be uninstalled; we're hackers for life.

The protagonist realizes we're not alone. Suspecting it's either Navito-kun or the ghost, Arata runs off in pursuit. Nokia wants to leave, but...

...a level 1 firewall's been put up over the departure point, preventing us from logging out and forcing us to go forward. Arata could be in danger, and our only hope of getting out is finding an exit further in, but Nokia's too freaked out to go forward.

We go on ahead without her into Cron Lv. 1, but it's not long before things go wrong.

See, the ghost of EDEN is here.

The world distorts, and the protagonist loses consciousness.

I confess; I don't know how to read digi-code. I am not a True Fan.

(Edit: ichi_1 was able to tackle this one. Highlight to read: "A fragment of memory was etched into your mind...")

When we come to, he's suddenly very real.

"What's wrong? Why, you look like you've seen a ghost."
Our hero points out that he looks an awful lot like one, but ghost boy protests.
"The truth is--I've been appearing and disappearing unexpectedly. [...] I'm no ghost. This EDEN is perfectly real to me." 
He thinks we look like a lost kid, but since we've taken the hacker program Digimon Capture in our hands, that makes us a hacker. There are all kinds of hackers in EDEN: those that exploit security holes, those that steal accounts, those that just want to test their abilities, among others. What kind of hacker do we want to become? Right now we're just a fledgling hacker, newborn--or perhaps, the "egg" of a hacker newly laid. But now that we are one, we are at liberty to do whatever we please. He's looking forward to seeing how we use the Digimon Capture.

We have a choice of three Child-level Digimon. The impulsive Vaccine-type Terriermon, the floral Data-type Palmon, or the mechanical Virus-type Hagurumon. To the best of my recollection Terriermon's never been particularly special in past Story games. Cyber Sleuth buffed him with healing abilities and skills that hit the entire field at one third the power of other skills, to make a support Digimon that can do multiple battle roles simultaneously. He has the highest Brains and Speed of the starter Digimon, while having an Attack stat caught in the middle of the others.

Palmon has been a Speed and status effect character in most games, with options for either single attacks to multiple adjacent zones or precision attacks on a single enemy depending on her evolution. Her high Speed made her one of the fastest ways to break Digimon World DS over your knee by turnlocking bosses, and that made her one of my favorite Digimon to use for a long while. Originally her Ultimate evolution was Rosemon, but that was coopted by the Lalamon line in later games. Lost Evolution gave her the Pinocchimon, Lotusmon and Ancient Troiamon (of all things!) evolutions, while Dawn and Dusk were content to let her wallow at the Perfect level without a proper Ultimate. I'm very partial to Palmon because of how much work my original Palmon, Miss Madness, did for me back in DWDS. In the spirit of the 15th Anniversary and Digimon Adventure tri. coming out this Spring, I suspect Palmon's Ultimate will be Rosemon again.

In this game Palmon's Speed-oriented role has gone to Terriermon, so instead she focuses on status effects and the raw power that Rosemon once brought to the table. She has the highest base Attack and HP of the starter Digimon, is middle in Speed, and she's not exactly a glass cannon either; her Defense is between Hagurumon's and Terriermon's instead of being the lowest as you might expect. Her Speed is directly in the middle as well, and overall if you round the stats to the nearest tenth (hundredth for HP) Palmon has the best overall stats of the group outside of her abysmal SP, which is only half of theirs. She makes up for this by being able to KO a lot of early Digimon with her basic attack, and her Poison Ivy skill has a 10% chance to inflict a poison status effect that can rack up damage over time on single targets.

Hagurumon hasn't changed much from his days in Digimon World DS. He comes attached to massive HP and Defense but low Speed and Attack. I initially gravitated towards Hagurumon for a couple reasons; generally he's one of the first Digimon to max out his Defense naturally, his final forms are a toss up between HiAndromon and Puppetmon, his evolutions get the Rainbow Lord (20% reduction on nonelemental damage) passive ability, and one of his canon Ultimates (not Story specifically but in general) is Mugendramon. Mugendramon gets a ton of field sweeping options that can hit different types of formations, so he's always been a good Digimon in the Story franchise. I can't know how much of that will hold true in Cyber Sleuth, but just based on his past track record Hagurumon is a really attractive partner Digimon to me. His armor evolution and HiAndromon were both great in Digimon World DS until the postgame. However, I started to rethink my decision since the last three Story games have had Mugendramon consistently be a part of the Black Agumon line instead of just throwing him around with whatever line has Megadramon in it.

For this update I've chosen Hagurumon, but as this is being written between chapters I'm actually experimenting with each to figure out what Digimon I want to start with. I suspect Terriermon will be the favorite of other people's playthroughs, so I'm a little biased against starting with him for mine. My overall assessment is that Terriermon is viable for his high speed, mixed healing and multitarget skills, Hagurumon is also viable for having raw power (his skills just consist of getting plus or minus extra base effect) as well as strong defense and HP that can outlast opponents, and Palmon is also a good choice because her huge HP synergizes with dealing a lot of incremental damage through poison stacking on top of strong normal attacks. In other words, it's balanced at a glance.

The boy explains to us the functions of the Digimon Capture, scanning data, converting it to Digimon as well as evolving and degenerating those Digimon.

Suddenly, a Chrysalimon appears! It's unusual for a Digimon of that level to appear in this area, and poses a problem for our new friends.

Chrysalimon chases off all of our potential partners, and the ghost boy asks us what we'll do. Help them, of course! He's surprised that we'd do that, asking if we'd rather have a strong Digimon than one of those weak ones.

Ghost-boy criticizes us for protecting these monsters, calling the protagonist a soft hacker--but also adding that being "soft" may not be such a bad thing. "You really are interesting. ...No, perhaps you're just charming."

He summons his own Digimon, Mugendramon. Now he'll show us the power of an experienced hacker.

For this battle, we're joined by the ally-controlled Mugendramon. Hagurumon won't be doing much in this fight but supplemental damage. His only skill is Darkness Gear, a single-target skill that costs 5 skill points and has a base effect of 70. Damage from skills is calculated using both the skill's base effect and the Digimon's Brains (equivalent to the Spirit stat from past games) or their Attack depending on the skill's properties.

After the battle Hagurumon levels up and learns Nanomachine Break I, which only costs 3 SP to Darkness Gear's 5 but has 5 less base effect and a 95% hit rate instead of being guaranteed. Since we only have a maximum SP of 43 rate now, these types of SP management skills are important for numbers hustling--we can only get off eight Darkness Gears, but we can manage fourteen Nanomachine Breaks. Over time the maximum number of Breaks will exceed the net damage of maximum Gears by almost 400 HP of damage.

Within the hackers, there are those known as irregulars. This is the kind of hacker the boy sees us to be, softhearted and sympathetic to Digimon. The egg has hatched. He finally introduces himself; Yuugo of Team ZAXON. The door to ZAXON will always be open for us. The exit is up ahead, and it's time for him to disappear again.

(No, this is not a "Rocket GangTeam Rocket" translation. ZAXON is literally チーム「ザクソン」 Chiimu "Zakuson" in the original text, which in Japanese differentiates them from similar concepts in the Pokémon games. Perhaps "ZAXON Group" would be a more contextually sensitive translation given that "Team" is the norm in English-speaking countries?)

North of the area where Yuugo leaves us is another level 1 firewall, but a ZAXON hacker won't let us get close.

Elsewhere, Nokia's out on her own, wondering why she got left behind when a hacker could spring on her at any moment, only to be interrupted by...

These dorks!

Her scream sends the protagonist running back, only to find...

...two (very cute) Digimon literally running circles around her. Initially Nokia's terrified, but as soon as Agumon and Gabumon open their mouths she starts getting attached to the two little monsters.

"I-it t-t-t-aaalks!? C-cuuute! I-I-I-I, eye'm, I'm Nokia ♡ What's your name?"
The three of them couldn't be more made for each other. Nokia thinks Agumon and Gabumon are strange but cute names, they think Nokia's a strange but cute name, and they all disagree! Agumon and Gabumon comment on Nokia's "peaceful" scent, which throws her for a loop. "Excuse me? I have this "sexy, but still cute" pheromone going on~ Like I just finished work." But when our protagonist arrives on the scene, Agumon and Gabumon both get scared and run off, much to Nokia's dismay.

For this part Nokia joins us in battle, but doesn't actually command any Digimon of her own. We can encounter Koromon, Poromon and Bubbmon in the Cron Junk Park, but can't actually convert any scan data that we acquire just yet. For now we're purely doing level grinding on the way to the finish line. Koromon is the most dangerous because we can only two-shot him and he has a higher damage output, while we can oneshot Poromon with our normal attack before he can ever move, and do similar to Bubbmon with Darkness Gear. Our HP is a huge asset here though.

As we near the end, Nokia gets a mysterious feeling, as if something strange is going on. She wonders what it would be like if she hadn't met with us in the chatroom yesterday, but quickly clarifies that she didn't mean what it sounds like she means...except she did.

The conversation gets cut short--we're being hacked again!

For an instant, we can see an image of children. Nokia freaks out, asking if we saw that too, then hurries on to go find Arata.

Arata is in the final area of Cron Lv.1, puzzling over the departure point. Then a strip of neon forms in the air and...

...out comes a Digimon like none other.

It's not a Digimon at all! Arata realizes this "EDEN's black monster" everyone's been talking about. The monster has a lock on the area that prevents the logout zone from functioning properly.

He tells us to run while he works out a way for us to log out. This is an enemy we shouldn't be fighting.

Nokia panics and can't get away in time, paralyzed in place.

But Agumon and Gabumon jump in, promising to protect everyone!

Nokia: "Y...you guys..."
Agumon: "We will protect Nokia!" 
Gabumon: "Run, Nokia!"

For the battle with the Eater we have Agumon and Gabumon here as computer-controlled allies.

The Eater will always spend its first turn converging data. This is effectively a charge turn for its attack.

Agumon and Gabumon will each use Baby Flame and Petit Fire, or they can opt to put attack buffs on one of their allies instead.

This is the first battle in which we're able to do a XROS combo attack, which is as close as I suspect we'll get to overt Xros Wars content in Cyber Sleuth. A XROS combo is initiated by having two or more Digimon attack in sequence, causing them to deal combined damage boosted by their mutual compatibility. It doesn't do us a ton of good here; every attack on the Eater is reduced to zero.

The battle ends on the Eater's second turn, when it uses Erode Device to knock out a Digimon and restore a portion of its own hit points.

Gabumon: "What should we do...he's way too strong...!"
Agumon: "I...can't believe my own weakness...! I want to protect...Nokia...everyone!"
We've bought enough time. Arata breaks the lock and tells everyone to log out; Nokia hesitates to leave the Digimon behind, but finally makes a break for the departure point. Arata follows suit, then the protagonist turns and...

...trips.


"Find us."
Digivice: "During Touya's attempted logout, there was an error.
Cannot logout...
Cannot logout...
Cannot logout...
...Logout continuing.
Logout successful. We await your next login. EDEN is able to provide this human network thanks to support from Kamishiro Enterprises."

We wake up in a crosswalk. Traffic has come to a halt, while office ladies and salarymen crowd around our half-digital protagonist.

A policewoman tries to break up the commotion, only to get equally freaked out by the strange phenomenon.

Fortunately, help is on the way.

This lady is interested in a strange phenomenon--our existence--and drives off with the protagonist in her car.

"Can you hear my voice? Can you speak? Good. Right now, you're not a person."
We're far from home, in Shinjuku. A strange phenomenon is going on and we're a part of it. Our body has become digitized, as a result of our EDEN avatar emerging from cyberspace into the real world.

As for this lady, her name is Kuremi Kyouko--"A humble detective."

"Would you like to save?"

6 comments:

  1. You have the best guide out there for the game. It is an impressive amount of work, we really appreciate it!

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  3. Thank you for this LP - I've finished the game, but 1) I like seeing a summary in my native language since my Japanese isn't all that great and 2) I just enjoy well-written text LPs in general. You're doing a wonderful job.
    Incidentally, the romanization for クーロン really is a toss-up; it could be "Cron" (as you stated) or "Coulomb" (like the electrical unit)...and World Dawn/Dusk's localization (which was rather sketchy to begin with) somehow thought it was "Kowloon", like the city in China. There's an "official" romanization later in this game and it's so laughably bad that I wonder if anyone at Media Vision speaks fluent English...

    As another addendum - and you may know this already - Agumon and Gabumon have the same voice actresses they had in the original Japanese version of Digimon Adventure. Almost every single Japanese commentary LP has commented on how nostalgic it's made them feel. Unfortunately, this experience can't quite be replicated for anyone who didn't grow up with it...and even if some miracle happens and if this game gets localized it'd be quite difficult for them to get the same voice actors from 1999, I imagine...

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    1. Oh gosh, I had no idea about the Kowloon thing. That's worse than World DS' "What an awesome Shogekiha!"

      It turns out Cyber Sleuth *is* getting localized but will go undubbed. I won't raise any objections to that, but I know something will be lost for English speakers playing the game and not hearing the original voices of Agumon and Gabumon. I get a little bit of it because I watched Adventure subbed in my teenage years (and teared up a little when I heard "Bokura no Digital World" for the first time.) As it turns out, it would have been possible for Tom Fahn and Kirk Thornton to reprise their roles, but some fans might not be happy with Fahn continuing as Agumon--he played the role in All-Star Rumble, and thirteen years seems to have changed his voice significantly.

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    2. It was Lex Lang, actually! He voiced WarGreymon back in Adventure's dub (back when they actually used separate voice actors for different dubs), hence why his Agumon voice doesn't resemble Fahn's at all. Not that this means good things about how easy it would be to get Fahn back.
      But yeah, as much as I was surprised about the lack of dub, I'm okay with it. Still, it is a shame!

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    3. I must have missed something, all the credit information I'd seen online credited Fahn. (I don't want to put ASR in my PS3 again just to watch the credits another time :P)

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