Tonight on Phoenix Plays Ethereal Gates: When we last left our heroine she was attempting to pass through the deceptively dull Auklet Town, just trying to get to the place that actually has the god damn fishing rod. Little did she know that, instead of the brief pit stop she'd anticipated or the simple search-and-rescue mission she'd been promised, she would be swept up into a dark and troubling mystery with implications that reach far beyond the edges of this sleepy hamlet. Robot uprisings! Death rays/tacky Christmas ornaments! Bedsheets! The iron shackles of the Dewey Decimal System! Eldritch Geek Squad–summoning rituals! And the true nature of the panicked humble lighthouse owner who was so oddly reluctant to hand over his key... will Phoenix be able to defeat the evil Dr. Lighthouse and rescue the missing girl?

Don't touch that dial—the REAL truth behind the disappearing daughter of Auklet Town shall be laid bare for all to see! Trust me, it'll all make sense when you read it!

(...no it won't. It won't make any sense at all. I really shouldn't do this when I'm hyper/tired.)

 

Before we go any further up, there's a ladder that heads back down to the first floor:

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Hey, that's cool. And since we're down here...

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...now that I know these boxes are smashable, let's go ahead and grab this other item on the first floor.

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Nothing immediately interesting to say about this place, aside from the obligatory PSA to let anyone else playing know that that item ball shown in the corner of this screenshot should not be picked up. It's currently glitched and will crash your game. The dev team already knows about this, is working on a fix and has posted warnings about it (thankfully, or else I totally would've grabbed it just now, haha), but just in case you hadn't already heard, now you know.

(Update: As of demo version 1.1, this item has been fixed and should be safe to pick up.)

The dev team says the item is "cursed". Could be, could be, but I wonder... was it, perhaps, placed here intentionally? Is it sitting there in plain sight, tantalizingly close, just waiting for some "heroic" trainer to stumble across it, reach down and meet some terrible fate before they make it further into the lighthouse? I can see right through your schemes, Dr. Lighthouse. I will not be defeated by your cruel traps, nor will I be stymied by your crumbling floors or collection of entirely too many unnecessary ladders. I'm going to discover the dark secret at the top of this tower, and the world shall know the truth!

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Aha! That doesn't look like any lighthouse beacon I've ever seen! There's also a child's toy of some sort lying abandoned on the ground... I don't like this...

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A key, hm? Did the little girl have it? Why did she have it? How did she get in or out of here if the lighthouse was locked? What have this man, his robots and this death ray or robo-brain or large and extremely tacky Christmas ornament or whatever it is done to that little girl? I don't know, but I must find out and unveil the truth, so I guess I'm off to the library.

Hm... that old lady was standing in front of a library, wasn't she? She can go on about ghosts kidnapping little girls all she wants, although clearly the more logical explanation is that the little one learned too much about her father's twisted robot experiments and has been imprisoned somewhere that no one would ever think to look for her. I mean, who goes to libraries anymore? Maybe he keeps even more heinous projects somewhere in the library's depths...

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The magnut don't seem to come any higher than level 9, but perhaps that's for the best. Any stronger and they might be powerful enough to begin their master's robot uprising. Also they know thunder wave, so they're already programmed to subdue anyone who gets in their way. (Although their cry reminds me so much of some of the bleepy-bloopy battle sound effects from EarthBound that I can't help but like them... a little bit. You can't trust robots, no matter how adorable or EarthBound-y they might be.)

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"Accidentally"? Or is it a carefully-calculated tactic to render all other electronic devices useless so that the evil Dr. Lighthouse and his robots can act unopposed? Or... the little girl and perhaps his base of operations are in the library... is his true plan to destroy all computers and force the world to return to the printed word, to shackle us all with dead trees and snail mail and hours wasted searching for information buried in dusty, outdated library catalogs? Dr. Lighthouse absolutely must be stopped! I hate book snobs.

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This magnut is being detained for further questioning. Also because bleepy-bloopy sounds and because technician could be fun, ooh.

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This one hurts a lot more than the others. :/ Sorry, Ragno. Don't worry, you'll get your chance to shine all the way to the end when I do my mono-normal run in the future. (Or, well, an avinch.) It's for the good of the world, don't worry.

Now, Zin Falza... take me to the library, and your leader!

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Why would there be plenty of healthy trees all around the town, and then a pair of scraggly, dead behemoths standing guard outside of the library? It wasn't spooky enough for you before, Dr. Lighthouse? You're showing your hand already!

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Eyecatch! And ominous music! (I don't think I can see a little pokémon hidden in there, though... :( )

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And who are you? Dr. Lighthouse's equally-twisted assistant? Perhaps an experimental android?

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Well, sure, can't have the kiddies coming in here for their research projects and accidentally stumbling upon the Book-Borg 2000 assembly line, can you?

The evil android assistant says that her name is Marana, and that she's a mythology... enthusiast, complete with pregnant pause on that ellipsis. She claims that the Auklet Library has an excellent mythology collection but she was surprised that the place has been abandoned, and while she's also "surprised" that I'm here to save someone she mentions having heard sounds in the library's basement.

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So you just happen to have gotten into a library that was locked from the outside with the key all the way up in the locked lighthouse, and then you just smile and offer some helpful advice about how to get to the basement. I smell a trap. Nice try, android. With no other clues I don't have much choice and so must investigate this conveniently faulty lighting, but I am on to you.

Marana the totally-not-an-evil-robot says she's done with her research and leaves, but not before saying my name even though I'm pretty sure I never introduced myself. You guys are reeeeally bad at not looking suspicious.

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While she's off warning her evil master that I'm close to uncovering their devilish book snob plot, I can get to exploring this place.

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"Caspook". Riiiiiight. What is this, a robot in a sheet? Are you just trying to keep up this "haunted" facade to scare little old ladies away from your secret lair?

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Oh. Hm. It appears to be an actual ghost-type. Doesn't matter, though! All that means is that Dr. Lighthouse's ghost cover story gets points for authenticity. As authentic as a bunch of frightened/undead Jiminy Crickets can be, anyway.

Let's start by checking out those books Marana was reading.

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"IT"? What is "IT"? Do you mean that clown from the Stephen King book? Or Cousin It? Ooh, I hope it's Cousin It. I love the Addams Family.

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Or perhaps "IT" refers to the Information Technology department. It is always an ordeal to get a hold of someone who actually knows what they're talking about when your computer's on the fritz. Maybe the next time my laptop bluescreens I'll perform an arcane ritual involving ancient Guardians, see how fast they can figure out why I've got a very expensive doorstop this time.

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ALL HAIL THE IT DEPARTMENT

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I DON'T KNOW WHAT THIS HAS TO DO WITH THE IT DEPARTMENT

I suppose it only makes sense that Dr. Lighthouse would be interested in channeling the dark powers of IT, at least while he's in the process of building his army. No telling what'll happen after his magnut have wiped all their hard drives, though. Double-crossing the very eldritch beings whose might he seeks to borrow... does the depravity of Dr. Lighthouse know no bounds?

There are more books upstairs...

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"It is said that long ago, our ancestors used to summon this Pokémon with a relic, and on rare occasions, it would appear and bring one who had passed back to the land of the living."

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As you do.

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This one is inaccessible...

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Namedrop!

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Aw...

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"...Pokémon."

Blah, blah, blah, that's fascinating, but what I really need to know is how to summon the IT department the next time my computer's lagging. Oh, and how to turn the lights on and find that little girl, I guess.

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I've tried checking out all the bookshelves I've seen so far, but all they say is this. Nothing but dead ends and musty books in this place, and... hang on. What's that in the corner there?

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This hologram claims that there's a monster in the basement. I wonder what sort of terrifying robo-beast Dr. Lighthouse is cooking up down there?

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Wait, you hid the bulbs to keep people like me away from the monster and now you're just going to tell me where they are?

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...it wasn't even far from where he was standing. You guys are terrible at this, seriously.

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Looks like I can just reach the chandelier from here, so let's slot this bad boy in and brighten the joint up a little.

Let's see what Mr. Projection has to say about the next bulb.

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Huh? Where'd he go? Oh, well, might as well check out this book...

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"...Goldcrest University Library." That's kind of a silly thing for a book to say. Why would you make me trot all the way off to wherever this "Goldcrest" place is just to read something you could have put into this book, huh, author? You didn't even state which book to look in! Terrible citation format, doesn't conform to MLA style at all, you're gonna get marked down a grade for this.

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There you are! Make me run all the way across the bloody library, will you? Hurry up and give me your next silly cryptic clue so we can move on already.

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Petrified... you're talking about statues, aren't you?

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Let me guess, that's where some of the IT-summoning relics are hidden, right?

Anyway, statues, statues...

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Gotcha.

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Didn't make it out... has the monster book-borg already claimed some victims? Gasp!

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Stories... stories... well, there's only one book on the table, so that's probably not what he means, but let's read it anyway.

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Wait, now there are monks involved? The Church of the IT is a vast organization indeed. Dr. Lighthouse has some serious cojones if he's trying to cross them.

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But I just checked here! Where did that even come from? These robots are sneaky, moving things around without me noticing...

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Huh, he walks around down here.

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How, by pacing?

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Look, I know you mean a red book on the floor, you know you mean a red book on the floor, can't we just cut out the melodramatic middleman and keep things moving?

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At least this one's much further away from Mr. Hologram than the others were. You tried a little bit, anyway.

That's all four lightbulbs! I smell a boss battle, so I think I'm gonna go heal right quick before I put this last sucker in its socket.

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Okay! Giant robot battle, here I come!

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That is an extremely disappointing giant robot. What do you want my help for? It'll probably blow away if you sneeze on it!

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And this is an awkwardly-posed screenshot of the extremely disappointing giant robot, which is apparently called jinkai instead of something impressive like Hyper Noveltron Mark VII. Ah, well. The smaller it is, the easier it is to stuff into a poké ball.

Once again the text is moving too quickly for me to grab it, but apparently it knows draining kiss and pain split. Maybe it won't be so easy to stuff into a poké ball. :/

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A great ball, on the other hand, does the trick first time out, and with that Dr. Lighthouse's technology-destroying disappointing robot has been neutralized!

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Just ghost? With draining kiss and fairy wind? Maybe that's another oopsie. Also, super-unprofessional-sounding pokédex entries are just as wonderful as bizarro science ones. That a direct quote from Professor Hawthorne, there?

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Get out of the way, Disappointing Robot! I think I misspelled "Noveltron" thanks to you!

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You're welcome, citizen! Just another day on the job for Phoenix, Master Detective!

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Wait, what?

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Look, I don't know what you're talking about with this "playing" stuff—maybe you hit your head while Noveltron was abducting you?—but whatever the case, I really don't think you should go back there. Haven't you seen enough of the atrocities your father has planned? Go stay with an aunt or something!

I'd better go follow her and make sure she's okay...

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Robots, woman! Robots!

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Look at them all, just sitting there like they have no idea about the sinister thoughts running through that man's hirsute head.

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Oh, yeah? What is it, a blast from his Limited Edition Christmas Cheer Death Ray now that I've unmasked the madman that is Dr. Lighthouse? Hah! I'm not afraid of him! One way or another, I will ensure that the truth is revealed to all!

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OH GOD PLEASE DON'T SHOOT

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DON'T KILL... don't... huh. An HM? Really? Uh... wow. That's... that's really nice of you, actually.

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"...Avocet City!"

Wait, isn't that the place where the fishing rod is?! A gym and a fishing rod? That's probably the most valuable information I've received all day! Well, I... I don't really know what to say... I mean, you're a horrible, evil man who will probably work on building an even larger, more effective Noveltron now that I've up and stolen the last one, and I still think your daughter would be better off in the care of someone who doesn't let her run around in what is essentially a condemned building, but... free stuff...

EDIT: never mind hurr hurr Avocet is not the fishing rod place and I already knew that I am the best at paying attention

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Bah, you know what? Screw it. Your secret's safe with me, Dr. Lighthouse. No one ever said that Phoenix, Master Detective, was immune to bribery. Free stuff is free stuff! I'll see myself out, then, and maybe next time put a little more effort into the "giant" part of the whole "giant robot" thing, eh?

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I knew it!

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Say it with me, kids... "What on God's green earth is that?" I am definitely intrigued, but I couldn't give Ragno away... I'll have to grab a spare avinch later and come back to check this out.

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No investigation into what actually went down at all, huh? Eh, don't mind me, I promised I wouldn't say anything. Now that the gates are open, I'll just take my new HM and be on my way!

Pfft. Ghosts. Like anyone really believes in that malarkey. Although... I do still have to wonder...

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...what was that all about?

...Whew. Okay, that was exhausting and by now I'm confident it is 100% not funny, but whatever! I really need to take a break after all that mess, so the next route and so forth will come in another post!