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100 Baroque Questions

  1. Please tell us your screen name.
    If you want to credit or reference my work, please just write "nervetower.neocities.org".

  2. Which do you play, the Saturn version or the Playstation version?
    I’ve played them all, but the Saturn version will always be my favorite.

  3. What do you name your protagonist?
    I believe the developers said they called him “Takeshi-kun” during development, so either that or “Koriel 12”, otherwise just puerile bodily function names.

  4. Who is your favorite female character?
    Sack Thing. I’ve written a short essay about it already, but besides having a great visual design, there is an unparalleled amount of theories to extrapolate from the quotes she relays to you. Overall, I guess I just really relate to her and how she seems to see the world - specifically her detrimental inability to fully block out reality and her awkward attempts to socially mask.

  5. Who is your favorite male character?
    Kitsune Kanazawa from the Baroquism Syndrome prequel stories. He’s a fascinating look into what people are like at the end of the world, besides being hilariously curt and callous to the suffering going on around him. Despite being a complete monster, he somehow manages to be a compelling protagonist and the quiet tragedy of his eventual fate always gets to me.

  6. Do you have a nickname for these characters?
    “Fukuro” for Sack Thing, I guess? Her name in Japanese is pronounced “fukuro no mono”, and “fukuro” can be translated as “sack” or “bag”. I wasn't sure which to translate it as for a long time, but "sack" won out in the end because of her burlap appearance and the fact that “sack” sounds creepier (which fits well with the degrading nature of “mono”). “Fukuro" is also the title of an incredibly disturbing animation made by Silent Hill’s Masahiro Ito which stars a Red Pyramid Thing.

  7. What is your favorite romantic pairing?
    People seem to be fundamentally disinterested in others following the Great Heat Wave, as Baroques make you focus and withdraw inward rather than outward. Anyone who cared for others probably died in the cataclysm, so there’s not a whole lot of room for romance in my opinion. I guess Niculi and Nicula? I always try to leave them alone, as “the Lovers” implies to me that they’re couples who found tranquility by shutting out the world and focusing inward on their love for one another.

  8. What’s your favorite cutscene?
    I don’t really have one. All of Baroque's best storytelling is done through piecing together the puzzle that the dialogue lines form. I do like how different the Creator and Preserver looks during the cutscenes though. In the Simulation, it’s just a crack of light that vaguely implies a human shape. When the protagonist sees it, it’s a terrifying mess of quicksilver and wires that looks like it’s trying to appear as a woman but utterly failing. When he approaches and goes mad however, she appears as a beautiful woman. It’s a nice play on the subjective nature of the game’s reality and a look into the protagonist’s declining sanity.

  9. Your favorite voice line?
    It’s pretty pointless, but I adore Sack Thing’s “You don’t say anything…” line. It’s a rare moment of her coming out of her shell in order to voice concern for someone else. It’s simple and inconsequential, but an odd moment of selflessness in an utterly selfish world.

  10. What’s your favorite BGM track?
    The whole soundtrack is phenomenal, but maybe “Confusion”? The vocal sampling creates a wholly unique atmosphere that’s both terrifying and melancholic all at once. I feel that Iwata’s description of his work as evoking the feeling of "visiting somewhere [you] once lived, only to find it demolished" really shines through on this one (among others). It makes the Nerve Tower come to life while simultaneously making it feel utterly and forever abandoned.

  11. What’s your favorite Torturer?
    I don’t know that I have one, but I find the Torturers to be the most imaginative items in the game. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to puzzle out how they work. My theory is that they strap to the back of the victim, with the two “handles” on the front being used to house a restraint. The back of the head rests against the circular Malkuth emblem, and is kept in place by the small guardrails around the circumference. The victim will naturally want to arch away from the spikes digging into their back, but this forces their head back onto the emblem - which is actually a pressure plate. The harder they press their head into the plate, the further the spikes extend into their back. If the plate is pressed in far enough, the spikes fire outwards, impaling the victim’s body. Following this logic, the protagonist could then raise the torturer above his head and slam his hand onto the pressure plate - firing the spikes out of the torturer and causing them to rain down on the occupants of the room. That’s how I imagine it, anyway. “World Guidance” just says they’re “magic” which results from the Creator and Preserver’s distortion.

  12. Your favorite Brand?
    The Trident one, probably. It's completely overpowered, and when you use it on a Guillotine Sword, it makes a pretty pattern on the screen. It also creates multiple shockwaves that fan out when used with the Wave Sword. Uncovering hidden item interactions like these is such a satisfying element in this game.

  13. What’s your favorite Archangel quote?
    “I’ve heard that ever since the Great Heat Wave, the sky is always red… That sky… One cannot see it from here.” The fact that he can’t even see just how terrible the world has become (because his own situation is so much worse) has a tragic and nightmarish quality to it that's hard to put into words.

  14. Was the Archangel nice to you?
    No, he quickly saw through my self-destructive actions as a ploy to get his attention and was understandably unkind about it.

  15. How did you feel when you first witnessed the true state of the Archangel?
    It's a truly surreal and horrifying moment. He committed some awful atrocities, but I can’t help but wonder how much of those were actually his fault. If the world is the word of God (as the game states), then isn’t the Archangel just a figment of God’s delusion - driven mad because she willed it? Did he even have a choice in committing the crimes for which he is eternally punished? Do any of us, as products of genetic imperatives?

  16. What do you think about the relationship between the Guardian Angel and Archangel?
    One of my favorite moments of Baroque is, in the post-game, when she just gets over him and decides to stop beating herself up for what she did under his influence. Fans seem to heavily romanticize their relationship (especially in the manga) but it seems like it was pretty toxic, to me at least.

  17. How did you get rid of Neck Thing?
    I gave him heart seeds until he bloomed and ultimately vanished. It bothers me when players insist you’re encouraged to murder him. If you let him naturally disappear, you’re rewarded with an extra Heart Seed on every run (not to mention the huge yield he produces when he’s in full bloom).
    Incidentally, there's a mistake in the Atlus translation that perpetuates the idea that he's killing himself by becoming buried (something along the lines of "When I'm buried and become a crystal..."). The line is actually "If I become a crystal when I'm buried..." . It shows that he doesn't know what will happen to him, but he doesn't intend to die. This is important, because his request for you to show his Baroque to everyone becomes sinister if he's intending to commit suicide through it. In reality, it's sweet that he's still trying to have a positive effect on others despite all he's been through.

  18. Why do you think the Sentry Angel wanted to sink into the earth?
    One of the Baroque Reports implies that he’s tired of the task he’s been given, doesn’t it? I agree with that, and it feels similar to the Worker Angel forgetting his task to assassinate the Guardian Angel. The world of Baroque reminds me of “Waiting for Godot” - a neverending purgatorial wasteland in which I can easily see people tiring of and ultimately forgetting their original purposes.

  19. “Please give me your pure water…” What other crystals did you give Eliza besides your own?
    I don’t remember, but at the very least I gave her the three NPC crystals you can get from the outside world.

  20. What was your reaction when the Littles first flew in your face?
    Unfortunately I missed out on the scare, as the remake was my introduction to Baroque. That version takes out all the aggressive, traumatic feeling jumpscares in favor of flaccid and gentle animations. When I finally played the original, I was already expecting them (but was slightly startled by the violence with which they appear).

  21. What was your reaction when you first entered the room with the illusion of the protagonist’s brother?
    Same as before, but this one did startle me because the remake version is so far removed from the original.

  22. Hanging girls, crawling girls, soaring girls… There are many different varieties of girls that appear when the protagonist is in “lust”. Which is your favorite?
    I will often transfer Lust Bones to the beginning of the tower for the sole purpose of seeing lust-ailment Grues hopping around. It’s adorable.

  23. How’s your Thing Thing headbag coming along? (PS Version only)
    It’s complete. It was nice to do something constructive for an NPC (instead of ruining their lives in a fumbling attempt to help them), but at the same time, such a positive interaction felt out of place in Baroque. His character design is excellent, but his constant masochism jokes weren't that funny. They also make Koriel #12 out to be someone who goes around hitting innocent people, which is an idea I absolutely hate. When you hit the Horned Woman, the protagonist seems completely shocked and confused by the notion that he'd hit someone minding their own business. After filling out the item list once, I've ended up avoiding him entirely in subsequent games because 1) it turns the player character into someone I can't relate to, and 2) item farming feels cheap and removes any challenge from the game for me.

  24. How far did you get in the Hell Dungeon? (PS Version only)
    I used to be really negative about the Hell Dungeon as I'd only ever beaten it through the new farming method that I thought the developers meant you to use. Something about getting killed in 3 hits by the opening level's Grue moshpit turned me off of it. However, I recently cleared it from scratch (starting with no exp or items) and it was actually pretty fun. Read more about it here.

  25. Have you ever spoken like the Coffin Man? (“Please… goddamn it”, etc)
    Not intentionally, but I think I’ve caught myself doing it accidentally once or twice. Embarrassing. It's much easier to do by accident in English though, so anyone who answers 'yes' in Japanese was probably trying to do so deliberately.

  26. Did the Training Dungeons help you?
    Yes. I went into the game completely blind, so they were a nice introduction to the mechanics. Although I can see the Saturn ones being a lot less helpful if I had started with that version.

  27. What were the circumstances of your first death?
    The first notable death I remember was when I was nearing the end of the game for the first time. I bit an unidentified (death) bone and got punched in the back of the head during the next millisecond.

  28. What do you think is going on in each of the NPC’s Idea Sefirot?
    “The City of Lost Children'', a major inspiration for Baroque, has a gas that works very similarly - showing whoever inhales it a montage of memories and feelings from the person it was extracted from. That’s how I imagine it working when you touch someone’s crystal. The contents of each are all pretty well defined by the game and interviews, except for the Horned Woman’s. Given that Yonemitsu confirmed she feels a great deal of guilt, her depersonalized state (similar to Sack Thing, who went through violent trauma) and her disheveled clothing, I think the answer to that could be pretty horrible. This is why I feel that the subsequent attempts to sexualize her (the manga) and make lust-ailment jokes about her (PS1 port and the remake's Crystal Sword) are in extremely poor taste.

  29. How do you envision the protagonist’s time with the Koriel?
    It sounds like their research into neurology was applied to some absolutely terrifying ends, everything from torture devices to remote consciousness hijacking to pain amplification. I’d like to think the protagonist was better than this, but what the Mind Reading Thing says about Koriel #12 ‘seeing something of his brother in the Archangel’ makes me think otherwise. Considering his brother was always unconscious while Koriel #12 was awake, I’m led to believe that the protagonist’s impression of his brother was probably only a projection of his own personality. That is to say, I don’t think Koriel #12 was all that different from the Archangel. The Archangel even refers to the protagonist as a friend in Yonemitsu’s prequel.
    I see the other Koriel (and the rest of the Malkuth) as being similarly unhinged and self-absorbed in their own delusions about what’s going on and how to achieve their goals. Again, see “The City of Lost Children”. I imagine it was less slapstick than the research facility in that movie, but our first introduction to Koriel #12 in "Baroquism Syndrome" depicts him leading a congregation in the Malkuth rendition of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" so who knows…

  30. What would you do if you were in the protagonist’s place?
    I've thought about this quite a bit, but in the end I realized that I don't think it would make any kind of difference. Disregarding the fact that I'd probably just curl up in a ball and wait for death, the first few runs the protagonist makes end in him going totally Baroque due to contact with God. I don't think anyone would have any kind of control in this state, and just fall victim to whatever their delusions told them to do. Once my memories and God's pain were restored however, I still don't think a whole lot would change. Yonemitsu has likened the game to a journey into the deepest part of oneself, in which you confront and accept the dark things about yourself that you normally try to avert your eyes from. The shape of the game’s world certainly seems influenced by Koriel #12’s Baroque (with heart-like vegetation and people melding together into parodies of conjoined twins), and in the end, he appears to be ultimately accepting both his distortion and the world’s distortion at the same time (because they are intermingled - or even the same thing). While the shape of the world’s distortion would vary from person to person, I don't think the plot would change - no matter who was in the protagonist's place. Either they accept the world born from their distortions, or they end up repeating the same stagnant cycle of endlessly 'trying to get it right this time'.
    Then there’s the more literal interpretation, in which I could only try to help the inhabitants of this distorted world without worrying about all that egocentric philosophical stuff. Is it possible to make a better world with less suffering for others using God's crystal? It used to bother me that the protagonist doesn't try at all. I feel like since you could make an objectively worse world, then it should be hypothetically possible to make an objectively better one. When I think about it though, would my conscience allow me to even try? Knowing that the slightest mistake could result in untold suffering affecting countless lives for who knows how many millennia? I feel like anyone who thinks they could handle such an impossible task (like the Archangel) would be fundamentally unsuited for it. I don't think that I could bring myself to take that kind of gamble, considering what's at stake and that the odds of 'success' are astronomically small. I’d probably just end up becoming a little Sin Moniz instead and travel the world, siphoning delusions out of people one at a time (although I guess that would just kill them in the long run so maybe not).

  31. Feel free to share any nicknames, strategies, or anything else concerning each Grotesque. We’ll start with “Moon”.
    One of my favorites due to the striking image they create in the outside world. Their presence in the skies makes the stagnant ocean feel even more dead and barren, which then leads to even more upsetting thoughts about the state of the world. The little ones in the Saturn version training dungeon are super cute.

  32. Grue
    Translating their name is a nightmare. Atlus USA calls them “Glue”, Inertia Pictures’ design documents call them “Guru”, the website calls them “Guryu”, and they’re spelled identically to the “Grue” enemies from Zork. I went with “Grue” because of how Zork’s native Japanese translators handled it and because the Inertia Pictures documents have a photo of their Japanese spelling next to their English name (as if to correct their assumption that it was “Guru”), while the other enemy concept sketches don’t. If it is “Grue”, then it makes sense that Atlus would change it out of copyright concerns.

  33. Kato
    I love the implications of this design, like a small office was compressed into a shell that houses multiple bureaucrats. They’re pretty easy to dodge and trap in an AI loop by circle strafing them. It’s both funny and tragic when they run over the Grue they just coughed up.

  34. Gliro
    They’re hilarious when they steal something, only to get body blocked by another Grotesque. They look like they’re having an absolute fit over their impending fate. The Blue ones in the PS1 Hell Dungeon have something insane like 380 HP and can kill you in two hits at first, I think? They go from your worst nightmare to invaluable resources once you're strong enough to fight them reliably, as they nearly always drop AD Fluid.

  35. Bulger
    This is the only one I have a nickname for, and that nickname is "Karen". A lot of fans seem to get really offended by this design, but I don’t understand that because (besides being green) it’s just what naked fat people look like? There’s no confirmation, but I’m almost positive the gas mask imagery and method of gas propulsion is an homage to Junji Ito’s manga “Gyo”. I highly recommend it if you’re into Baroque’s flavor of absurdist horror. These enemies are also the point at which it becomes apparent that the remake is lazily crafted trash - their graceful, floaty movements are replaced with some of the jerkiest animation I’ve ever seen in a game. It looks like an invisible child is using them as pieces in a boardgame.

  36. Seventeen
    The design notes say that the brown material on their body is leather. They’re relatively forgettable within Baroque’s roster, but it’s really saying something about Eisaku Kito's remarkable imagination that his 'unicycling phallus' is one of his more forgettable designs (and it's still leagues above the creature design found in most other games). These are also really easy to trap in loops by circle strafing.

  37. Jerryrom
    I recently ripped their “aggressive hopping” noise and set it as the alert sound on my phone. I thought it would be cute, but the first time I heard it was in the early morning as I was preparing breakfast. My phone was sitting in the next room when it suddenly got a rapid string of texts and I nearly had a heart attack. My scream of terror died in my throat, because I instinctively knew that I'd be blown to bits long before anyone could come to help me.

  38. Soconpo
    He’s one of my least favorite designs, as I feel he’s a little too much like the Mayor from “The Nightmare Before Christmas”. His super high HP, devastating attack power, corrosive spit, and habit of dropping Food Patterns right in front of you doesn’t help. Circle strafing backwards at just the right angle can completely negate his damage output while keeping him in range to slash but it's hard to do reliably.

  39. Liar
    Another one of my least favorites, as I feel like the “creepy yokai who inflicts lust ailment” is a little cliche in JRPGs - although how that ailment is handled in Baroque is hilarious. The plant theme is interesting, although the remake didn’t pay any attention to it. I love setting them off in a room full of enemies. If I ignore why everyone is suddenly so interested in me, it’s like I just made a lot of friends.

  40. Death
    This is my absolute least favorite enemy. It’s still great, but it’s only as creative as it needs to be in order to fulfill the theme of “Death” and doesn’t contribute much past that point.

  41. Hungones
    I like knocking them off the ceiling and leaving them standing there like creepy trees. When I’m bored, I’ll lead a bunch of them into the Guardian Angel’s chamber and do some volunteer landscaping. Happy Arbor Day.
    However, the fun ended as soon as I read their origin story. Just when you think the world of Baroque can't get any darker, it completely blindsides you with something like that. I can never look at them the same way again.

  42. Bubugel
    One of the best things about the Switch port was getting to see videos of Japanese players who were going into the game for the first time without any foreknowledge. One of my favorite moments was seeing a distressed new player stop dead in her tracks as she encountered the pseudo-dead end formed by this enemy and noticed the slight discrepancy between the Bubugel’s back and the wall texture. Not even knowing what it was, she just started repeating “no” and backed out of the hallway to find a different route.

  43. Sin Moniz
    My second favorite Grotesque, and a rare instance in which the remake delivered on better visuals than the original. The 90s CG just couldn’t handle the intricacy and brilliance of this design. When they get inflicted with lust and start refilling your VT, they shrink into adorable mini-Moniz. I’m unreasonably sad that the PS1 port and remake removed their little car horn beeps and the tune that plays when they’re draining/refilling VT.

  44. Or Huganous
    I didn’t think too much about them until I read Yonemitsu’s short story in Baroque Report Z. Getting to see into their mindset, as well as the concept of the Sense Sphere Cyborgs, was fascinating. I don’t know the exact circumstances, but these things can freeze the Saturn version in or around the hallways on BF12. This bug carries over into the Switch port, crashing the app entirely. It turns the relaxing atmosphere created by Eliza’s theme into a harbinger of stress and terror.

  45. Sun
    Their resemblance to facehuggers is pretty distressing as it is, but it got a lot worse when I realized that the clones have too short of a lifespan to see what Sun is implanting within them. They could inject some kind of chestburster into the player for all we know, but the clone is going to die way before it hatches. The false face on their back and eye knuckles are fantastic design decisions, but they’re the most annoying enemies to fight in the game for me.

  46. Niculi and Nicula
    My fourth favorite, maybe? As mentioned before, I find these quite sweet despite their propensity for savagely ripping your face off (an attack that is incredibly distressing in the Saturn version but is comparatively dull in subsequent re-releases). The “Lovers” theme is called a little into question by Inertia Pictures’ design document for them, which identify them as “Praying Nuns”, imagery which I can’t unsee now. Peter Jackson’s “Heavenly Creatures” (based on the true story of the Parker-Hulme murder case) was an inspiration for Baroque and possibly even the Baroque Murders of Baroquism Syndrome. It’s about two (extremely Baroque) girls who fall in love and create a delusional reality together. The film prominently features the song “Funiculi, Funicula” which inspired this Grotesque’s name. Probably not a coincidence.

  47. Magician
    A massively underappreciated Grotesque which appears to serve as a Rosetta Stone for decoding some of the more obscure elements of Baroque’s mythology. This enemy is literally one of the Archangel’s “special, electronically encoded Tarot cards" come to life, isn't it? You can see the electrical circuits on the front, and the “special back design” on the rear. This “special design” is none other than the Kabbalah Tree of Life - the source of terminology like “Malkuth” and “Sefirot”. Out of this Tarot Card comes a distorted human figure, a visual analogy for the process of the Archangel’s Tarot being overlaid onto humans. Even better, this Grotesque replicates at a distressing rate, possibly symbolizing the rapid spread of Grotesques throughout the population as the mad Creator “corrects” more and more humans using the template supplied by the Archangel’s Tarot deck. You have to act fast to contain the spread, but sometimes it feels completely impossible to manage. I always thought the design was a little silly, but I came to love it once I understood its significance.

  48. Aries
    Eisaku Kito likened this one to a despot or dictator, based on it being the Emperor arcana and riding on horse-like legs. As such, I always see these guys as embodiments of the kind of bigots that gave us the Trump regime, with their cretinous expressions and stupid hats - constantly spewing obscuring fog to blind their victims to reality.

  49. Cocteauhead
    Beautiful design. I love that they start to appear on floors that look like they’re meant to process waste water. It gives the impression that they’re made almost entirely of this waste material, which makes sense since they poison you. The ability to melt away into the floor and their goofy bubble attacks are great. On an unrelated note, I tried using a Death Bone on them recently, and it failed to have any effect (native Saturn version). I need to test this out further, but could it be that their liquid bodies are immune to the effects of some (or all) bones?

  50. Galgal Tank Joe
    The concept art for these is incredible, especially the view it gives us of life outside the ‘special area’ housing the Nerve Tower. Fields of skulls, bones, and warped metal stakes in the ground - a deathscape patrolled by these terrifying war machines. Unfortunately, their slow attack animation makes them not very threatening in-game.

  51. Johanna Kyon
    My absolute favorite design in Baroque. They’ve got it all - a striking and creative design, creepy cute doll faces, a non-confrontational attitude, the violent whiplash they experience whenever they ram you, and just to top it off, they’re their own little space program. Like Niculi and Nicula, they give the impression of surviving through a bond they share with one another. Again, I avoid injuring them whenever possible - something that is a lot easier to do than it is with the Lovers because of their passive nature. Even when they attack, they usually just want to tell you about things. It’s not their problem that you can’t understand what they’re saying.

  52. Festum
    I have a totally baseless theory that these are the final form of the water-soluble ‘mantis egg’ Grotesque from Baroquism Syndrome. Their basic shape is the same (an inverted triangle with an embedded head), and the only real difference is the metal casing (and apparent lack of Liar's bug legs). Perhaps the armor was an adaptation that offered the ability to collect harmful moisture and form it into the ice spears they hurl at you. The concept art for these shows Festum instead using a massive rifle with several oversized ammunition clips coming out of it. Sting would later recycle the design of this rifle in their mobile FPS port of the Baroque remake, including it as an upgraded Angelic Rifle with a massively expanded ammo capacity. Such an item was planned for the PS1 port as a reward for completing the Hell Dungeon, but was scrapped before release.

  53. Hananip
    My third favorite Grotesque, with an amazingly creative design that somehow manages to be elegant, threatening and utterly ridiculous all at once. You’d expect such a late game enemy (and arguably Baroque’s deadliest Grotesque) to be packing more firepower, but in a wonderfully creative move, it only carries a pair of cymbals. It furthers my theory that the Grotesques are not particularly strong, and that they damage the player emotionally more than they do physically. Reminds me of my neighbors that think it’s their privilege to share their idiot noise with the rest of the block.

  54. Which Grotesque do you hate the most?
    Sun is pretty awful to fight against. If you don’t have the right items, you just have to tank all the damage it spits out. You want to press forward for the damage boost, but as soon as it abandons its web, you’re liable to get afflicted with lethargy. Then it goes into facehugger mode, after which it hits you with lethargy again. It also tends to hang you up in corridors on BF12, which are areas at high risk of freezing the game.

  55. Which is your favorite?
    Johanna Kyon, for the reasons listed above. They’ll make it to space one of these days. For now they just show up somewhere else on the current floor.

  56. Which one do you find the scariest?
    Or Huganous, if we’re taking its ability to crash the game on BF12 into account. Otherwise it’s Niculi and Nicula. Turning around only to find them already lunging at you with their jerky spasming is genuinely terrifying.

  57. Which do you always go out of your way to kill?
    Aries. Unequip my sword and just deck them right in their stupid Nazi faces.

  58. What’s the worst thing Gliro ever stole from you?
    Revolution Torturer, in the middle of a giant Convergence Torturer moshpit right as I was about to set it off.

  59. Have you ever stepped on a Grue? How did that make you feel?
    I have a thing about insect shells bursting under pressure that makes my skin crawl like nothing else. Thanks Yonemitsu.

  60. You’ve felt like something ominous is behind you for a while now. What do you do?
    The Saturn version is terrifying in this regard, because I am 99% certain that enemies can spawn right behind you in (previously) empty rooms. I'm sure I've broken Box Thing's Baroque in my panic at least once because a phantom Grotesque spawned in and jumped me from behind while I was talking to him.

  61. The wall in front of you is obviously a Bubugel. What do you do?
    Throw the entire contents of my inventory at it, worry about consequences later. I love the imagery of this glacial, idiot wall-face inching after Koriel #12 while getting pelted with a shopping cart's worth of random junk.

  62. It seems that Jerryrom wants to play. What do you do?
    Lead it into a group of Grotesques and watch the pretty fireworks.

  63. You’ve found some unidentified flesh. You have no protection from stomachaches. What do you do?
    Feed the next Grotesque that passes by.

  64. A pattern has fallen out of a Grotesque. It appears to be face-up. What do you do?
    We both know that’s a Food Pattern. Don’t touch that.

  65. You’ve found an unidentified bone. A Grotesque is in front of you. So, what do you do?
    Reflexively end up helping the Grotesque achieve immortality. Then regret.

  66. You’ve picked up an Arching Torturer. What do you do?
    Set it off in case there’s a kitty trapped inside, then painstakingly avoid touching the walls in case that hurts the kitty. Go to the next floor and then worry that the kitty is lonely.

  67. You got a Secretion Bone, how do you use it?
    Get more, find a big open room and draw a smiley face on the ground with my blood.

  68. How far have you upgraded an Absorption Sword?
    While playing the Saturn version, I got one to +36 before a Food Pattern turned it into flesh. The next one got up to +43 before a Hungry Box ate it. I spent the next several runs trying to find a Prosperity Sigil or Defusal Worm, but the box just didn't show up above ground one time. I promptly went and found Box Thing. He gave me a box. It obviously wasn't my missing Hungry Box, so I threw it in a pool. Then I broke his box and we were both sad.
    I don't usually like farming, but the way it grows as you use it is kind of cute and I can't stop myself from trying to do my best for them. It's like a murder-based Tamagotchi, although I suppose Digimon kind of already did that.

  69. Please share a funny story that happened to you in the game.
    I came across a Seventeen hanging out with a mini-Bulger recently. Both were facing me, but neither had become aggressive yet. As I sat there doing nothing, the Seventeen used one leg to casually kick the little Bulger up the ass, sending it flying. The Seventeen just continued standing around innocently, as if nothing had happened.

  70. Please share an infuriating story that made you want to throw the controller while playing the game.
    I think the only time Baroque has ever made me angry is when, after weeks of suffering, I gave in and looked up why I was missing two lines in my Voice List (PS1 version). Both bugged, both permanently missable. I hate that port.

  71. Please share a moment that made you jumpy while playing the game.
    Getting violently head-butted by one of my cats who had gotten up onto the back of the couch without me noticing, at the exact moment a Grotesque blindsided me (from the same angle) was particularly terrifying.

  72. What was your most pathetic death?
    I think the remake takes the cake for all of these, as it buffed the hell out of self-damage dealt by explosives. Most of my deaths in that game could form a montage of me pathetically blowing myself up for seemingly no reason.

  73. What was your proudest moment in the game?
    I’d like to say it was the time I cleared a million points on the Saturn version, but putting in that amount of time just kind of makes me feel bad about myself. Proudest moment was probably finishing my insane task of hand-transcribing and translating the entire game back when this website was just a spreadsheet (and before all that work was rendered pointless by dumping the game scripts off the disk). Beating the Hell Dungeon from scratch was pretty rewarding as well.

  74. What’s the best loadout you’ve ever created?
    +99 Wave Sword/Trident Sigil/+99 Stubborn Coat + Wings (fire and electric attributes and stomacheache immunity from parasites). Not an extraordinary build on its own, but the reason I'm proud of it is because I built it inside the Hell Dungeon on my 'zero prep' Hell Dungeon run. I went in from scratch and came out with this setup. The Wave Sword is amazing for the Hell Dungeon, as it allows you to attack while backpedaling. Constant fighting in the Hell Dungeon is usually unsustainable, but not when you're engaging in projectile bitch fights. I was able to get up to +99/+99 by BF50 by cheesing Gliros as they slow hopped after me.

  75. What’s your favorite item combo?
    Division Sigil + Angelic Rifle. Pew pew pew I'm an Abortion Machine Gun.

  76. Random items are one of the appeals of this game. How far down have you gotten in the tower using only these, without anything equipped?
    I don’t know that I’ve tried. The closest thing I’ve completed was a vegan pacifist run (no killing enemies, no eating flesh/hearts/bones) - but I still had a coat and wings equipped for that. EDIT: Completed a full run of the game without any equipment (including brands or parasites) as of late July, 2021. It wasn't too difficult, but not having access to parasites meant not getting to do any of the fun Hamon loadouts I usually run for unarmed builds (Thunder/Comet Worms, etc).

  77. Have you ever gotten a Toy Box?
    My record is four Toy Boxes on one floor, with only one Silver Bone being carried over from the last run. It would have been five, but the Crypt Angel dodged the first Gold Bone.

  78. How difficult did you find Baroque?
    The initial difficulty curve of getting used to all the items can be intimidating, but other than that I don’t think it’s very difficult. It’s right at my ideal comfort zone, where it’s just challenging enough to keep me mentally engaged, but non-stressful enough that I can relax while playing it.

  79. As best as you can remember, how many times have you died?
    I live this game, there’s no way I could even begin to estimate.

  80. Has Baroque ever made you cry?
    Yes, the first time I got to the end of Sack/Box Thing’s ‘quest line’. That was rough.

  81. Have you reached the ending?
    I’d be amazed if anyone who took the time to fill out this questionnaire hadn’t.

  82. Did you use a strategy guide?
    No, and perhaps this is my ‘proudest moment’. Before I discovered Baroque, I had spoiled “Dark Souls” and “Bloodborne” for myself by resorting to guides. I swore that I wouldn’t repeat the same mistake if I ever found a game with that kind of captivating atmosphere again. I therefore went into Baroque with only the knowledge that “sometimes you have to die to advance the plot”, and swore off of any outside information until I had beaten the game three or four times (by which point I had figured out the storyline in full). From there, the only outside information I took in was from translating staff interviews which filled in the few remaining gaps in my understanding. I’m so grateful to the Souls games, because without them, I probably wouldn’t have had this wonderful, totally self-reliant experience with what ended up being my all-time favorite game.

  83. What Baroque merchandise do you own (such as World Guidance, the manga, etc)?
    Tons. Complete copies of the Saturn and Playstation version (deluxe edition), Saturn guide, PS1 guide, World Guidance, the Sega Saturn Magazine Baroque cover issue, Dengeki SS Baroque Appendix, Baroque Shooting (all three versions), Baroque Typing, Baroque Syndrome, the OST (both the original printing and re-release), the PS2 remake (disc only), the remake OST (deluxe edition), the Malkuth Tarot deck (with the two bonus cards from the OST), a second PS1 Littles keychain, the remake’s laser-etched Littles keychain, two different framed store display posters for the Saturn version, Baroque Report vol.1, Baroque Report Gold (all three versions), Baroque Report vol.3, Baroque Report Z, Baroque Report CD Data File (both mailer version and jewel case re-release), Malkuth Memo pad (black), mouse pad (version 3), all 9 Baroque Gangan Versus cards (including both foil cards), a 1999 Baroque Xmas card from the manga’s author, both Baroque (Saturn) phone cards released by ESP, and the rare Baroque puzzle from Tokyo Game Show.
    2021 and 2022's unexpected Baroque Exhibits provided tons of new Baroque junk to buy, so I also got an acryllic protagonist, a ton of Grotesque Pixel Mascots, the Sin-Moniz & Gliro hologram keychains, and the Malkuth & Little pins (plus the two entry pass sticker sets that I ended up with from both visits in 2021). Thanks to some kind Japanese fans, I was able to buy and trade for the Grotesques I was missing and complete my set. In 2022, I also picked up both complete NPC Pixel Mascot sets and an Uriton "Littles Wish" (mock) tamagotchi. I'm so excited about finally having figures of the Outer World NPCs. They're my favorites. Anyway, here's an updated full collection photo.

  84. Have you played any of the spin-offs? How did you like them?
    I have. I wrote about it on the site already, but I hate Baroque Syndrome and think it’s a total disservice to the original short stories (although I love its rendition of the Tarantella Melody). Baroque Typing is the next “best”, but it’s still short and kind of forgettable. Only the Archangel’s “shiritori lightning round” part of the final Hell level poses any real challenge. I’m so torn over Baroque Shooting because I don’t really like auto-scrolling shooter games but I’m obsessed with Baroque. I managed to beat it on Normal difficulty, which was by far the hardest Baroque game I’ve cleared. I’m very frustrated, because the final boss gains a second phase on Normal difficulty that isn’t present on Easy and Very Easy. Does this mean there’s extra content at the end of the Hard and/or Very Hard modes? I’m trying so hard to find out, but those two difficulties feel impossible. UPDATE 01/22: There is nothing new at the end of the Hard and Very Hard modes. Only suffering and regret.

  85. Have you read the Baroque Reports?
    Yes. They’re like little offline, early internet websites and I’m super into that kind of thing. Getting little strategy guide pamphlets filled with developer comments and secrets through the mail feels like it would have been really magical back in the day.

  86. What’s your strategy when playing the game?
    The more I play, the less stressful it gets, so these days my playstyle can be best described as ‘narcoleptic’. The atmosphere has gotten weirdly cozy, so I start to involuntarily fall asleep while playing no matter what. I drift in and out of consciousness while Koriel #12 drunkenly careens around the dungeon until I pass out completely and wake up to the protagonist’s terrified heartbeat in the middle of a Grotesque mob. I can imagine the Archangel having an aneurysm watching my Koriel slowly bouncing around a single room like a DVD logo screensaver.

  87. Have you ever made a Baroque doujinshi (fan-work)?
    I guess you could kind of call this website one? But I suppose I haven't in the traditional sense of the term. The closest I've come is a comic entitled "Tracheotomy" which I made for Yonemitsu's "Great Heat Radio: Text Edition". I've made some custom Baroque content for other things, such as this VRChat avatar, custom Baroque swords for Beat Saber, and Grotesque virtual pets for my phone. But my biggest fan project to date definitely has to be the "Baroque ~Knee Deep in the Distortion~" Doom II mod.
    I've also commissioned a few projects that were outside my capabilities - such as this adorable Sack Thing figure by "TheMonsterMaiden" on Etsy. I also had a custom CD case printed to look like Thing Thing’s headbag at maximum capacity.

  88. Do you own any Baroque doujinshi?
    Yes, nearly three dozen of them at the moment. I specifically collect ones by the P2 Detective Club, THORES Shibamoto/NIELSEN Horiuchi, and a few other groups. P2’s doujinshi are absurdly cute, endearing, and incredibly funny; they’re easily my favorite parody manga of anything, ever. I can't bring myself to choose a favorite; there are just too many great moments to pick from.
    THORES Shibamoto really needs no introduction, and as I’ve written already, she captures the indulgent, extravagant essence of Baroque perfectly in her illustrations and paintings. My favorite is probably “Circetic Incubator” (with its striking cover and disturbing, unique take on the Dabar Fusion). My only issue is that sometimes NIELSEN's writing can get a little edgy, and there’s an incredibly distasteful comment about mental healthcare at the end of “Daugther” [sic]. “Gossip Mode” is their final Baroque doujinshi and my least favorite by far. Despite having a great cover illustration, it’s mostly guest art, as the full volume got split over two publications (the second of which was cancelled).
    I also have some rarer publications which feature contributions from Baroque staff members, but the doujinshi community seems to prefer that people not talk about these on public sites.

  89. Have you ever done any Baroque cosplay? Which character would you like to cosplay as?
    No. I don’t have any desire to either, unless by “cosplay” you mean prowling around the neighborhood in a film-quality Grotesque costume and traumatizing children.

  90. Do you own the “Baroque Copy Book” made by the staff?
    For fans not in the know, the “Baroque Copy Book” was a photocopied book drawn by the staff of Baroque on their lunch breaks - copies of which were traded to fans who had created doujinshi as part of the “Baroque Complementary Project” (an outreach program designed to encourage the creation of fanworks). Obtaining one of these books is nearly impossible, but I have found scans of it.

  91. Do you surf Baroque websites?
    I’ve spent some criminally cozy nights surfing through Wayback Machine archives of all the old Baroque Complementary Project webring fansites, Sting forms, and archived 2ch Baroque threads. After all, it’s how I found out about this pointless survey. One of my favorite finds is this drawing of a coked up Doraemon as Baroque’s protagonist. The old Baroque webring was a wonderfully creative place, everyone had such fascinating theories and projects to share.
    The western internet scene for Baroque is nowhere near as fun, unfortunately. The fan community outside of Japan is a weird mix of apathy and toxicity (which I suppose is oddly fitting for Baroque). They would thank me for new material, but never actually do anything with it. I'd try to stimulate conversation, but the languid and abstracted 'Baroque' atmosphere never lifted enough for conversations to survive past a few posts. Most “conversations” merely involved individuals copying work from this website, editing it to accommodate their highly subjective and/or factually unsupported fan theories, and then posting the results as objective truths to the Baroque Wikipedia page and unofficial Baroque wiki (a particularly selfish and destructive thing to do for a game as obscure and subjective as Baroque).
    My (unrelated) declining mental health eventually contributed to me dropping Baroque entirely once I discovered just how much blood it shared with "Evangelion". Some of my base concerns were valid, but my reaction grew increasingly manic due to my spiraling mental state. I withdrew from the community abruptly, and that's when the once quiet and stagnant community channels became filled with passive-aggressive belittlement, denial, and personal attacks - not to mention the unfiltered hate comments that led to the closing of this website's comment forum. I'm genuinely shocked that, in a fan community for a game about mental health, no one saw my sharp 180 on Baroque/subsequent attempts to give away my belongings as the red flags that they were and just stopped to ask me if I was okay. Fans instead took to less-visible channels, using the situation to try and invalidate not just the offending article, but all of my non-translation contributions (in what I assume was an attempt to negate my critique of Baroque's 2007 remake). I even saw the use of sock-puppeting in order to engage in the prevalent "Mean Girls" style clique behavior while simultaneously brown-nosing up to me for more translations.
    Fortunately, I was able to get the help I needed before I did anything self-destructive, and while my interest in this game quickly revived, I won’t ever be returning to that fan circle. I had previously turned down an invitation from a private fan network I received (as I had wanted to focus my efforts into easily accessible venues), but I finally accepted once I had gotten back on my feet and saw how different their attitude was to all of this. Life as a Baroque fan has been a lot kinder to me since then, and while it sucks that most of my work is so inaccessible now, it at least means that I'm able to share and engage in projects that I couldn't before (like doujinshi translations and a STING website/webring backup work in progress). I apologize to the few genuinely nice fans I've met, but the vast majority of my Baroque projects will be exclusively posted to this community from now on. The happiness of a few good people is just not worth endangering my mental health over.

  92. Which studio would you like to produce a Baroque anime?
    I don't want one! The average anime series just doesn't have the production quality to do Baroque’s visuals justice, and I don't think its story would adapt well into an episodic format.

  93. Which voice actors would you like to voice characters in such a project?
    Again, please don't.

  94. Which actors would you like to see in a Baroque live action adaptation?
    This does pique my interest, only because having a live action film with Henson’s Creature Shop on special effects would be absolutely incredible. I don’t care about actors, I just want to see two hours of uninterrupted Dark Crystal Henson Grotesques.

  95. Do you have any friends who like Baroque?
    My partner does, but finds it too stressful to play past the first few event flags.

  96. Have you converted any of your friends?
    There are a few people that discovered Baroque through this website. I'm happy it was able to do that.

  97. Have you come to associate the word “distortion” with Baroque?
    Not really in English, but the fact that “distorted” in Japanese is pronounced like “Uganda” has caused me to associate the two.

  98. How would you describe Baroque’s story in one word?
    Suffering.

  99. Write a Baroque haiku.
    The world got melty
    Eat guts I found on the ground
    Why do my shits hurt

  100. What does Baroque mean to you?
    It's a bizarrely accurate snapshot of everything I was interested in as a teenager: my obsession with Jean Pierre Jeunet's films, urban exploration, and tarot - like a sort of time capsule that I've just now dug up and rediscovered as an adult. And as an adult, I feel that it addresses a lot of the pervasive problems I've continued to struggle with my entire life - specifically my failure to live up to social or gender norms and unintentionally presenting a general weirdness that others feel should be corrected and homogenized.
    There’s a tiringly repetitive message in other JRPGs to “just be yourself!” but this trope hardly ever explores what that means beyond one-dimensional characters defined by quirky affectations. “Baroque” is a rare JRPG that actually delves into what it means to be different because of factors outside of your control, whether that be mental illness or physical disability. Further still, Yonemitsu had the courage to acknowledge that there is no true resolution concerning these conditions. You cannot “purify” these problems away. We live in a distorted world, and those of us who have to cope with the weight of that distortion will do so for our entire lives. Instead, the game pushes you to try and come to terms with the distortion within yourself, the distortion that absolutely exists within each of us, for we are all distorted beings experiencing our own unique version of reality.
    At the end of the day, what any of the characters tried to do ultimately didn’t matter, except to themselves. The Archangel failed to purify distortion from the world, for in a world that is naturally distorted, such a desire is in itself a distortion. The protagonist never truly broke free, as his endless stream of clones continue to wander the wastelands in an attempt to fill the absence they feel within themselves. It’s not even certain that any of the characters he “freed” from their suffering through purification are any better off that way (as their crystals still shriek in grief and anguish when held). The best these characters could manage was finding some internal level of balance through accepting their own nature as part of the distortion we call life. It's weirdly nihilistic and reassuring at the same time, which is indicative of the shifting spectrum you're presented with throughout the entire game: anxiety and purity vs comfort and decay; pain vs Baroques.
    As Yonemitsu wrote in his lyrics for Iwata’s vocal project: “What a magnificent, worthless world.”