I last reviewed monsters from a couple of the Shadow Hearts games in 2015, seven years before this article! At the time, only relatively smaller, blurrier images were available online, and the bestiary terrible incomplete. But over half a decade later, the Wiki has been loaded up with crisper screenshots by its head admin (thank you, 0001!) and there are internet pages that will quickly take the backgrounds out of images for you, so not only do I get to talk about some video game monsters I've been admiring for half my life, I get to share them as transparent PNG's! Fancy!!!
FAVORITE SHADOW HEARTS III
"Embodiment of the resentment felt by those who died unfair deaths. Hates being stared at in terror or amazement. Scoops out the eyeballs of offending gawkers."
This was one of the first Shadow Hearts critters I ever saw in my life, probably back when this game was relatively new! But I never got a better look at it until now, nor did I ever get to read its tragic backstory! Poor thing, I wonder how it feels if someone stares at it with nothing but love and adoration?? And why wouldn't you??? It's like a big gumdrop-shaped lump of meat with a pair of curly ram horns and a blue-lipped human mouth at the top, but the whole front below that "head" is one big orifice packed full of adorable eyeballs, with seven finger-like appendages that fold shut to hold all its peepers in. I like how these fingers are also covered in dark, segmented armor, so they kind of look like a bunch of isopods! It's like a giant squishy fistful of eyes, made of bugs!! Actually, can it tell when it's being stared at with intent to gently boop the top of its bald head? Because I believe that's another valid option.
"A monster born out of the resentment of wild cattle hunted by men. It has not forgotten what they suffered and is looking for revenge. Loves grapefruit."
This beast is kind of like a cross between a bull and a Giger alien. It only has two legs, and its black, eyeless, lipless head has VERY large, very oddly shaped horns, more like an expansive bony crest with a couple of giant knives on it! I like that it exists entirely to exact violent retribution on the living but it WILL stop to eat grapefruit when the opportunity arises. I eat meat but I don't really like beef, let alone "wild" beef, so I think Anakaca would let me feed it grapefruit.
"A mollusk that survives on peoples' pain. Any energy it absorbs soon scatters, so it is always hunting for nourishment. Its scarlet colour represents woe./A mollusk that survives on peoples' grief. Any energy is absorbs soon dispereses, so it is always looking for sadness. Its body is blue for the colour of human misery."
I combined these two, since they differ only very slightly in description and are obviously equivalent counterparts. BLUPE looks like an eyeless, upside-down squid with nubby tentacles and visible organs, obviously drawing from a sea angel or Clione, while LEDUPE is the same thing with a much thinner body and sharper, spikier features.
"Since the beginning of time, they have discarded any body parts they didn't need. Now perfectly shaped to act out their destructive impulses."
I'm sorry, WHO? Who has been doing that? What has been doing that? This does not look like it used to be a human being. It's a bloody ribcage full of raw meat, it has a bloodied head at the top wrapped in a set of pale talons, it has a bulbous ant-like abdomen at the other end, and a grey knot of flesh on its back sprouts into four incredibly long, thin limbs, jointed like doll parts! A species from the "beginning of time," but originally with much more anatomy it apparently threw away. Incredible concept.
"Variously said to be the guardian of the lake, or a creature created by the ancients. Expresses emotion with its four arms and umbrella. Behaviour changes without warning."
I don't think those two claims sound mutually exclusive, but whatever. This creature is shaped like an umbrella, but the top is transparent and veiny, like a jellyfish bell. Just beneath that is a single humanlike eyeball suspended in a clear sac, below that are four jointed limbs almost resembling bird toes with crystalline blue claws, and below these is its long, scaly tail! I always love umbrella-shaped and jellyfish-shaped things, and the eye really adds a lot of character.
"All shell animals long to move freely; this one has somehow managed to adquire movement and tentacles. Sensitive to any intent to do harm, and primed for attack."
I don't think that's true, honestly. I think if you're a "shell animal" you probably feel like you're going fast enough and that everything else is just recklessly speeding everywhere. Whatever! This cute thing is like a big flat clam or scallop turned on its side and floating in the air. It has an eposed eyeball on the outside of each half of its shell, a couple of clawed, almost skinned looking arms sticking out the back, and within the shell looks to be a large, black, squidlike beak!
"Life form that inhabits gaps between dimensions. What looks like a tail is actually its mouth; will study victim's behavior carefully and try to outwit its prey."
Seemingly named after the "byakhee" from Lovecraft, but Lovecraft's thing was described as having elements of corpse, ant, bat, crow, vulture and mole. Too many things! Shadow hearts has a better idea honestly: a muscular, headless, limbless human torso with red eys for nipples, six insectlike wings, and a long tail that ends in an eyeless, snakelike or eel-like head.
"Gilbert after getting the power he wanted. It's a hideous form, but for him its godliness. His wish fufilled, he now longs to make everyone else like him."
Gilbert is an unpleasant little scientist man that none of the other characters like, even the bad guys. Does this description mean he wants to make "everyone else like him" as in they cease to dislike him, or they become similar to him? Does he mean similar to when he was an awkward, short old guy or now that he's a gory, tumorous mass? He's got a giant hand for a head, with a ghoulish face in the palm, and some random insect-like limbs for good measure.
"Her happiness made her cling to life, with tragic results. Having taken the lives of her lover and the doll maker she will never again regain human form."
Incredible design on this ex-human boss! She's become a big, tubby ghoul with burnt-looking black skin, cracked and bleeding in places, with what appear to be a gew giant, parasitic maggots hanging off of her at random, and what looks like a featureless lump for a head...until the top of it opens up like a sphincter, and what pops out looks like a crustacean with a big, gaping mouth, clawed human hands and a terrified-looking human face stretched over its isopod-like form!
"A monstrous mixture of metal and flesh. The metal hates civilisation while the flesh loathes all life. The cunning at its disposal makes this a terrifying beast."
This thing's personality and motivation is a pretty funny concept, and the design is just outlandish! Its three striped antennae remind me loosely of elongated Leucochloridium sacs, connected to a meaty pumpkin-like organ. Below this a fleshy trunk with what multiple barnacle-like "eyes" above rows of what might be blocky teeth. Bellow that, a knob of yellowish flesh with four yellow, reptilian eyes staring out from a flesh-filled cavity and two joined limbs ending in metallic picks. Finally it has a very large, pale peach colored, veiny scrotum-like sac on its back, possibly what allows it to float through the air? A wonderfully abstract lifeform, not following from any obvious plant or animal.
"Leaves a trail of destruction wherever she goes. Known as the Queen of the Insects for her hard outer shell. Loathes and longs to destroy all living things."
Shadow Hearts makes some pretty good choices for when to put breasts on something. For example, this huge monstrous insectoid with a humanoid head and torso sprouting from what looks like the abdomen and upside-down legs of a weta cricket. She's also got multiple long, thin insect legs instead of humanoid arms and a pair of horns curling out of her eye sockets in addition to the devilish horns on the sides of her head. Especially unsettling is the chitinous tube that goes from the cricket abdomen to the figure's stomach, and just how much bigger that abdomen is. It's like you chopped the thorax and head off the cricket and just plugged this smaller devil-woman in there! Personally I'm not sure if that would be a normal thing to do. I'd do it too, I'm just saying I'm not sure if I'd brag about it to just anybody until I was sure they were cool.
"This creature is sure to appear wherever there is evil air. Originally shaped like a jellyfish, but lost this form as it developed into a killer. Simple but effective."
I didn't realize we had to worry about evil air. This monster obviously modifies the CG model of Ludirus, but pretty heavily! It drops the umbrella and the eye, just a strange, gnarled, chitinous stalk with four hooked limbs. It has no obvious "head" or "face" except for some pinkish flesh near the top of the stalk, where it's a little split open. You can of course interpret this as a corruption of Ludirus, but it could just as easily have once been some other "jellyfish-shaped" organism.
"Embodiment of the evil of a ruler too greedy to think of his people. Still obsessed by greed, he likes to savor his prey slowly without letting it digest."
This monster's name sounds like a corruption of Eryops, a giant prehistoric animal sort of like a crocodile-shaped salamander. This creature, however, kind of looks like just a crocodile's head with only a stubby pair of legs, blocky human teeth, human skin, and no eyes or other facial features besides a pinkish nose at the end of its muzzle; big, gaping nostrils sort of evocative of eyes. Full of absurd personality, yet fairly disturbing, and certainly an interesting form for an "embodiment of greed."
"This monster's huge mouth hardly fits its tiny body. Normally eats rabbits and other small animals, but is known to eat humans too. Favourite food is honey."
Seymouria is a modification of Eliops, but with actual scaly gator-skin, birdlike taloned legs, eyes where you expect there to be eyes and much thinner jaws full of sharper little teeth. It's not nearly as disturbing or strange as Eliops, but it's still pretty fun. I'm always a sucker for chomping creatures that are at least 90% head and mouth.
"In the local language, Sulagi means "Flying Fish". Pecks the heads of evil-doers, and used for scaring children. Lucky if seen in day, inauspicious at night."
"Flying fish" really doesn't do this thing justice. It's a thickly scaly reptilian-looking head, covered in sharp bony plates with a somewhat beak-like upper snout and straight, nail-like teeth. It has a pair of membranous fin-like wings on top, but what may be its beady orange eyes are a bit farther down, and where a neck or body should be is just a short tail that reminds me of a wrinkled insect larva, with large, fleshy orange, conical tubes down its sides. Especially odd is the "tongue" within its mouth, a straight fleshy pole with multiple metallic segments.
I enjoy that it "pecks the heads of evil-doers," implying that this """fish""" is also a good guy. It still attacks you, though, so maybe it just knows you're kind of a jerk.
"An embodiment of evil intentions. Gives off a foul pestilent air that is enough to end the lives of any unfortunate, sensitive souls who happen to breathe it in."
A variation on this design has appeared in multiple Shadow hearts games, but this is the most disturbing incarnation by far. It's a huge, slimy baby head, its scalp can peel open into a bunch of red petals to expose its gory brain, it has a whole smaller pale baby sprouting out of the top, and worst of all, a giant naked humanoid body upside-down against its back, limbs flailing. Of all the things this game puts big boobs on, I'm going to say a giant sickly baby head monster is EASILY the worst, especially with the second baby positioned as if the body is giving birth to it. Swell. Excellent. Positively nauseating. Does it REALLY give off "pestilent air" or does everyone it meets just naturally wanna barf???
"The form taken by an ancient shell creature that over the millennia has acquired magic. Normally hides away in its shell, but defends its territory fiercely."
Modified from the flying clam monster from earlier, this creature is just the shell with a proper bivalve siphon inside and a number of dark tentacle-like growths. The name is a distortion of Hallucigenia, the worm-like Cambrian organism famous for its indistinct head end. The idea of a prehistoric mollusk sort of thing just living long enough to develop magic is great; very yokai-core.
"An ancient sea dragon, many millennia old. Has assimilated to life in the ocean, and hunts for food with ease. Worshipped by locals as a guardian deity."
Tis one's a fairly cute design, really! A fat, slimy looking plesiosaur with a sort of shark-like pointed face, and six gigantic fleshy "petals" coming off of its head, kind of like the gills of an axolotl if they were a whole lot larger and fatter. You can just barely see that the insides of these are lined with additional little teeth. Does it "bite" with the back of its head?!
"A monstrous being with no real-world body of its own. The embodiment of pure evil, filled with hate and loathing. Inhabits the bodies of the dead."
Great concept, great execution! This cosmic horror has overgrown the head and right arm of its human corpse puppet with tumorous, veiny red flesh, the arm especially massive and dragging backwards on the ground...but the really fun part is that the creature's face is on the back of the design! A simple face with two little toad-like eyeballs and a mouth consisting of only three large, perfectly square teeth clenched together, the entire face also twisted sideways. Love the idea of an alien entity possessing a human body in the "wrong direction," and it's interesting that it still doesn't turn this face to its opponent, like it doesn't even need to.
"An ancient sea dragon that lives deep in the lake. Sleeps for millennia and becomes encrusted with coral. Revered as a beautiful guardian of the lake."
It IS beautiful! It uses Okeron's base, still shaped roughly like a plesiosaur, but now it's a much more alien looking lifeform with a bony shield for a face, no obvious mouth or teeth besides the single row of three vividly pink spines on its snout, and two large, thick, eel-like fins that remind me of a sea slug. Actually, the entire thing sort of feels like a plesiosaur-shaped Nudibranch, though some of the colorful veins on it are just angular enough to look like "circuitry."
"Takes the form of a ravenous frog. Some say its stomach is connected to subspace, and that once you're swallowed, you can never return to this world."
Kind of like a frog, sure, but its eyes are on short little stalks on its "chin," unless the entire thing is simply twisted backwards, and its two legs are almost human-like, albeit with only two large toes each. I like that it's just a goofy-looking monstrous animal thing, but then there's this rumor that it houses some kind of dimensional portal.
"Demon whose monstrosity knows now bounds. Gives rise to a sense of absolute revulsion in anyone who sees it. The sound of its roar can drive people to suicide."
Hahaha, this is supposed to be Lovecraft's Shub Nigurrath but they mangled it enough that now its name is JEB. Hey there Jeb!!! You look well, Jeb!!!
Absolutely frightening design, however, resembling a crusty, lipless, maybe lightly charred human head, red gore showing through a network of cracks in its flesh. It has one lidless eyeball where a human face is supposed to, but others in random locations and multiple fanged maws, including one in its other eye socket! The scattered, multiple eyes and mouths are a common feature of "cosmic horrors," but it's forming just human enough a face to be far eerier.
"A carnivorous plant from South Aragau. Exposed to evil air, it learned to move around at will. Catches prey with its 4 tentacles, and sucks it up headfirst."
With a fat wasp-like abdomen, wings like a pair of fish fins, four worm-like tentacles and a face that's just a circular ring of sharp, black fangs, this monster only barely appears "plantlike" due to the dull greenish tinge and the sort of rootlike body surface.
"A devil that delights in leading people into disaster by planting ill will in their minds. This little devil has been behind every great disaster in history."
EVERY great disaster? Every single one?? Absolutely nothing bad happens for any other reason except that this "little devil" did it? That's a pretty bold claim, I mean, even if every disaster was caused by a monster you'd think it'd sometimes be one of the other, bigger monsters. Did JEB never successfully pull off a cataclysm? Not even a small one? You're saying he was beaten to the punch by Wariche EVERY time???
You can't stay mad at such a cutie, though. Wariche consists of just a swollen, greenish, octopus-like head sac, no features other than a vertical toothy mouth, and a smaller humanoid body with clawed arms and a long, straight spear-like pole where its legs ought to be. I also like all the tassels and drips of flesh dangling off the back of the big balloon head. Darling!
"A virulent virus from another dimension. Instead of attacking cells from the inside, kills people by eating away at the flesh from the outside in."
WHAT are we looking at here!? It's just kind of a bulbous flesh sack with some fat bug lugs, a tiny little leech mouth surrounded by four thick finger-like jaws, and a tower of various polyps and organs on its back with just a single mantis-like claw arm on one side. I also like all the filmy, translucent strands of goo or webbing stretched across its assorted sacks. How is this JUST a "virus?" I feel like there's no real point in the description. Oh, unlike a normal virus, it eats flesh from the outside in? They could have just said it's a predator! How can it even be "virulent" then?!
"A monster that looks like a caterpillar. Its only organs are a mouth and an anus. The two worms at the back eat waste excreted by the one in front. "
It actually does NOT look like a caterpillar. It's just a conical worm with a ring of teeth, sticking out of the mouth of another, identical worm which is sticking out of the mouth of a third, apparently living like a Human Centipede on purpose. Love the name, though, adorable.
"A primeval life form that lurks in the lowest levels of the other world. No intelligence or sense of self. Lives on instinct. Hard outer shell provides defense."
Also cute!! It's got a bunch of blunt spiky legs, a couple of fleshy finger-like limbs and a soft looking, pointed head with a cute little blue eyeball on the tip, all protruding from underneath a big fat fleshy lump on the back, like a rotten turtle shell! NO intelligence or sense of self?? Don't be mean! It has to have some sentience if it's obviously looking at something!
"Wasp pupa infested by a parasitic snake. Known by some as the god of wasps and bees, it relies on the snake in its mouth to seize its prey."
This uses the same structure as that "flying fish," but it's an even more extreme difference than any other reskinning we've seen. Its gorgeous head looks like a blind, Gigeresque deep sea fish, a veiny dark dome for the top of its head, a much longer lower jaw and looong, thin, pale teeth. It has a single pair of cute little bee wings on the top and it's all erupting from what looks like a wasp abdomen, but like the description says, there's also a snake in its mouth! Just a whole normal looking snake! And the snake is somehow parasitic?! It turns the pupa of a normal wasp into all this??? I want to say it isn't fair for the god of wasps and bees to actually just be created and puppeted around by a reptile, but, I guess there are human religions with animal-based gods anyway. If wasps worshipped any non-wasp I guess it WOULD be something like a parasitic snake.
"Active at night, feeds on people's spiritual force. Attacks the weak, old, and sick. It might look dumb, but it can sever a man's head with the tiniest movement."
It DOES NOT look dumb!!! Shut up!!!!! This was actually only the second monster I ever saw from this game, the same time as the Alyosh, so we're going to end the review with it. A "chonchon" is a mythological being from several South American cultures, described as a human head that flies with enlarged, feathered ears. It's actually a form that dark magic users can take to become a sort of vampire, but the Shadow Hearts Chonchon is instead known for lopping off other people's heads, apparently!
Instead of looking like just a head itself, it looks like a cross between a plucked owl and a fetus, a fleshy pink thing with an elongated flabby torso, a swollen stomach and little baby legs all dangling as it fleis with its feathery black wings, all topped with a delightful little round, pink head with big owl-like eyes and a funny little drip of a nose where a beak or mouth should be! It's actually fairly reminiscent of the notoriously unsettling Oocca from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, which would come out exactly a year later! TWO ghastly, naked bird-embryo-people introduced to gaming one year after another?! What a time to have been alive.
We've now looked at around 31 monsters, but of course this game has many, many more. You can not only browse them all here on the wiki, but a fair number of them include their original concept art, which can shed more light on some of the more cryptic designs! There's also a fair number that almost made this post, too, like Butcher or Soldes, but I think I narrowed things down to those with both the most interesting designs (in my personal opinion) and sometimes most entertaining bestiary entries.
The thing is...I've also got much nicer images now of the monsters from the second game, like Otoroshi here, and a handful of juicy ones I couldn't even find for my previous review! So should I go back and add them to that article, or should I just go over my SH2 favorites all over again?!
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