By Jeriaska . May 8, 2008 . 1:36pm
Having cleansed Hachiko of its curse and warded off the Reapers, chapter two ends with Neku turning against his partner in an attempt to escape the Game. He awakes without a clear recollection of the previous day's events, finding himself in another disorienting unlighted room. The character's amnesia still appears to be acting up, and he is startled to discover that the footsteps sounding out in the darkness turn out to belong to Shiki.
The action cuts to the previous day's scene. Shiki is suspended from the ground by her partner's telepathic powers. Just before she is strangled to death, a man in a gray vest and a five o'clock shadow intervenes and commands the red-haired Reaper to put an end to the web of violence she concocted. He reminds her that making "erase your partner" the terms of a mission is a violation of the rules, as is assigning more than one task per day. The Reaper disappointedly exclaims that for a Player the onlooker knows a lot about the rules, and she promptly takes off.
The stranger introduces himself as Sanae Hanekoma, a guardian who watches over the Game while tending to his cafe's espresso machine. From the looks of things, he makes it his responsibility to keep the malevolent Reapers in line. Hanekoma explains that this Shibuya, a chessboard for the Reapers' Game, is an alternate plane of existence from the reality to which the characters are accustomed. Here, reality is termed the "Realground," while the "Underground" is a game run by someone called "the Composer." However, the outcome of the game is presumably serious business.
Neku having nearly taken his partner out, gets off the hook with a light reprimand, offering a casual apology at Hanekoma's insistence. Before he leaves, the barista makes a point of impressing upon the two the importance of teamwork, without which they are unlikely to last for long at this stage. The Players have to get through seven missions in seven days if they want to survive. They are also told that the Reapers grade your performance, which will affect the outcome on the final day of play.
The scene returns to the shadowy location where the two are currently reunited. Shiki's phone goes off, alerting the party to a new mission assigned by the Reapers. Sneakily covering up an image appearing on the face of her phone, Shiki says that the task this time is to "Defeat the Master of A-East, a popular concert space," or face erasure. You head off with all of 360 minutes counting down on your palm, a clue that the day's mission will be considerably more elaborate than what you faced before. You also receive a Hanekoma stamp that allows you to up the battle difficulty to increase your chance of nabbing fallen pins.
Stepping out into the sunlight, the Players are surprised to find that they have just emerged from their destination, the entrance to A-East. They decide that to defeat the master, whoever that may be, they had better turn the lights back on. Just outside the venue stands a punk rocker with spiky hair, grumbling about his botched rehearsal, canceled due to A-East's technical difficulties. Seeing you wandering around, "777" calls you over and asks you to do him a favor. The roadie responsible for the rehearsal equipment has gone missing, but the rocker needs to stay near the concert space. Since this is the one person most likely to illuminate A-East, you agree to go looking for the tech in the black t-shirt with a lanyard around his neck. The rock vocalist thanks you, letting out a couple monster coughs.
At this point, having waded through the extended expository scenes, you can head over to the Lapin Angelique shop to purchase a gothic lolita bonnet or some other frilly article of clothing, though Shiki might not have the requisite bravery points at this stage to equip such flamboyant wears. Heading south, you discover two red hoodies on the same screen. In case you were thinking that this guy really gets around, it turns out there are multiple Reapers with the same exact taste for the grunge look. A barrier blocks your way forward, but the protagonists decide to try out a special blank pin given to them by Hanekoma, which works only if the partners are acting psychically in concert. Activating the pin brings you face to face with Noise in the form of grizzlies. At the top of Shiki's screen, a new fight option is introduced, encouraging you to guess ESP cards during battle to reveal a large star pin and unleash a powerful fusion attack. Once you have cleared the Noise, the red hoodie lets onto Dogenzaka, Shibuya's entertainment district.
Inside a ramen shop on Dogenzaka you find someone matching 777's description of the tech. Neku is surprised that inside the restaurant the party is visible to customers, but according to Shiki the Players become visible wherever they can shop for items that raise their stats, signified by a skull and crossbones decal found on the wall. If you purchased a gothic lolita bonnet earlier and want to raise your bravery to don the item, a bowl of Tonkotsu ramen will help bolster your ego against embarrassment. When you purchase food items from a restaurant or clothing from a shop, your friendship gauge with the clerk will rise, allowing you to unlock previously inaccessible items. You'll need to fight through a few battles to digest your meal before earning the bravery points associated with the item or consuming more stat-boosting noodles.
Judging by the conversation you overhear, the tech appears to envy 777 and would sooner escape A-East than fix the lighting. To clear the mission you are going to have to impose your psychic abilities on him to allow the concert to continue. When you find the tech outside the ramen shop, he is grumbling about feeling out of whack. Scanning him, you find that within a plague of red "chump" Noise there is revealed a yellow "negative" Noise, drawn by the tech's envy of the band. To get him out of his funk, you will need to purge the host of his spectral oppressors like you earlier did to lift the curse from Hachiko. Taking out the yellow Noise, the tech immediately rushes back to the A-East, but without the part he needed to restore the stage to working order.
Heading north to the Shubukyu department store, you will run into Beat and Rhyme. While Neku is loathe to mingle, Shiki will nudge him into striking up a conversation. The Players tell you about something called "memes," significant words that are related to the tasks assigned by the Reapers. Apparently, you can use the pins in your stash to imprint ideas on people whose behavior affects your missions. You don't get through much of this dialog before Beat gets fed up with Neku's standoffishness and storms off again. You can try out your imprinting ability on the tech, idling nearby, to put the "blackout" meme back into his mind. But before he can return to Dogenzaka to look for the missing electrical equipment, you'll need to draw the fuse meme by scanning a roadie waiting at the blacked-out stage.
When you finally make your way back to A-East, the tech will install the fuse, but before the lights turn back on you are attacked in the darkness. Shiki and Neku take to their places on the two screens, while above a swarm of bats swoop down from the rafters. There is clearly something lurking near Neku on the bottom screen, but it is not until several turns have passed before the boss reveals itself as a gigantic insect with green fur and red eyes. Focusing on Shiki's button attack combinations you can clear away the mess of bats, at which point the lights will come up on the boss. Clearing out the flying enemies, you will be rewarded with a set of poison bones that allow you to inflict defense breaks on the enemy at the start of battle. Despite having taken out the boss, however, Neku finds the timer is still counting down on his palm. Seconds within being erased, Beat and Rhyme show up and take out the master, a golden bat, with a combo attack.
In case you were wondering how you could talk directly to 777, even while the tech was oblivious to your presence, Neku informs you that the rocker is a Reaper. As Hanekoma told you earlier, the only people you can contact directly, outside store vendors, are involved in the Game.
At this point, the action cuts to two Reapers talking over drinks at a bar. One reports to her supervisor that six Players were erased earlier that day, and the boss responds that tomorrow's assignment will be very entertaining. Thus ends the third day and begins the fourth chapter of the game.
Images courtesy of Square Enix.