Thursday, March 29, 2012

Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Dream Dropped Sleeping Memories

A few weeks back, I made a post about Kingdom Hearts II, where I brought up a few important plot points that most people would have a hard time understanding if they didn't play the spin offs.  In the same post, I also promised a follow up that would serve as an explanation about how said spin-offs explain Sora's mysterious absence at the start of KH2, the mysterious Organization XIII, and the whole Xemnas/Ansem/Xehanort link.

But you know, I've spent the last few weeks struggling.  Let's be realistic here:  If you're really curious to know all of the story links, you can simply consult a Kingdom Hearts wiki.  I also struggled because there was a larger point I was trying to illustrate with the ridiculous number of spin-offs needing to clarify the story.  It wasn't until a conversation with David that I began to hash things out, but my friend Joe gets the credit for really hitting the point that's bothered me this entire time:

Kingdom Hearts is a franchise victim, and has become more about "how can we get more games out of this" rather than providing side-stories or sequels that add closure.

I still owe it to you all to carry out part of this post's original goal:  Mapping out the spin-off mayhem that surrounds Kingdom Hearts II.  But I'm going to do it in a more abbreviated format, covering what each respective game answers, what new concepts to the KH mythos was added, and a miscellaneous category I'll simply title "Damn it Nomura" (DIN).  But I'll also elaborate more on the previous accusation towards the franchise.

Well, let's get this show on the road.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

AGE: Suikoden III and The Relentless Grind

As part of my Almost Got 'Em series which started with Breath of Fire III, I've moved on to the other third entry in a series on the list, Suikoden III. I haven't beaten it yet, in fact I've barely started playing, but I've already put over thirty hours in. I've been doing this because there's a handy little trick in Suikoden games which lends itself to a chance to completely cap out a number of characters right at the start in the third entry. That amount of time lends itself to giving one enough a good deal of writing material, so I thought I might share.

Suikoden III reached my backlog about six years ago. I'd played through this at-times-epic entry in one of my favorite series from beginning to end, and was ready to seal the deal in the last battle of the game. It was just me and the final boss, face-to-face on the very last battlefield, my Flame Champion's unit against him, it came down to the final blow and . . .

. . . and I missed, he counter attacked, game over. I never played again.

My rebuttal.

Maybe not the best response, but it's not the first time it's happened to me. I had similar final battle outcomes in Dragon Quest II and IV, Earthbound, and Breath of Fire III. The latter three I eventually went back to and finished off, but this game fell into the DQII pile - until now.

The whale! The white whaaaaaalle

I've started this off and taken steps already to ensure that I'm nigh-unbeatable when that final fight comes around again. But it's taken me a long time to get there.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Gracefully Stepping Aside

In the past, David and I have shared the various ways in which a game ends up on the backlog.  Often, it starts with a good game that we put down and just happen to never get back around to.  Sometimes, it's a game that ends up frustrating you so badly after a boss fight or random encounter that you don't want to look at it again for the indefinite future, and, unlike Devil Summoner 2, doesn't have a bitchin' enough soundtrack to keep you coming back for more.

Unfortunate for my pride, but fortunate for my eardrums!
And of course, with no shortage of good games having come out in the past few years, it's easy to push aside a respectable game in interests of another, never to get back to it.  All of this is, of course, ignoring the everyday factors of life such as work, school, family, or other obligations.

What we haven't discussed at length, is this rare case:  Occasionally, a game gets put on the backlog because it's just too good.  You're scared to let it consume you because you know that after finishing it, it will be hard to find another game in your stack that measures up to it.  Enter Tales of Graces f.  While I have no shortage of excellent games from the Tales series, Graces, which sports one of the best combat systems in the series, has (at least early on), fairly likable characters, and is a rare case of us getting a "final mix" of a games distinguishes it as one of the better games in the series.

Unfortunately, it also risks diminishing the experience of the other Tales games I have.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Now Loading.

I've spoken at length in the past about my tenacity when it comes to playing games:  That when I start something, it's enormously hard for me to give up.  I am tenacious in pursuit of my goal, and pursue it with a relentless focus until my goal is achieved:

Be it games or microwave ovens.
But even Jack Donaghy from 30 Rock was wise enough to realize when his relentless pursuit of a goal was a bit too much (for the record, it happens in season 5, without spoiling anything).  It's a rarity when it happens.  In my case, it's a signal to my friends (and hopefully you all) that a game is truly awful when, within an hour or less of playing it, I declare it a cesspool of poorly realized concepts and gameplay.

No, this isn't another review about Hyperdimension Neptunia (though amazingly enough, I heard the sequel was actually good).  This isn't even a story about a game on my personal backlog, but one I nevertheless consider backlogged.  This is a story about Mana Khemia:  Student Alliance.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Gotta catch 'em all.

I've never gotten into the Pokemon games: I didn't own any of the gameboy systems when they were becoming widely popular, and it wasn't a fad that I jumped in on. I mean they seemed interesting, but with so many different versions being released, the decision on which one to buy could be overwhelming, or at times downright pointless when the next edition was about to come out. TV Tropes, perhaps, captured this most succinctly with another game:
Kind of like this.
Tropes notwithstanding, I came home from work today to this from David:

David 1:53 pm

Alright, so imagine that you want to train your dog to fight other dogs. You've got a dachsund, and you keep going to dog parks and challenging owners to battles. Instead of getting thrown in jail, you're allowed to do this, and after winning enough fights your dachsund becomes a pitbull.

So imagine now that this transformation after enough fights into a larger and more powerful dog is a trait shared by every breed on Earth, and that there are tons of these dogs roaming around free, everywhere.

Not only that, but some of these dogs can breath fire or have psychic powers. Or both

But once someone takes one in, they become absolutely loyal to that person forever.

Now, you can't NOT have trainers, because then you've just got packs of wild dogs breathing fire and psyching people to death all over the place. But at the same time, you can't have too many of these trainers working together, because they would try to overthrow the government with their pack of mutant dogs, or just murder everybody.

David 1:55 pm

So if you're a smart and concerned government who wants to kill two birds with one stone, what do you do?

I posit that the entire Pokemon League is a conspiracy of passive oppression. Where being the Champion is a sign of ultimate prestige, there's no incentive to work with other trainers, and to qualify for the competition you have to be constantly on the go, never staying in one place and making friends with other trainers for very long.

And they're justified in doing this, because everytime a team of trainers does get together, they DO try to overthrow the government or murder everybody.

The Pokemon League is a hoax perpetuated by the governments of the various regions to keep Pokemon trainers from realizing that they hold ultimate power in their hands and the authorities are useless against them.

Ayn 3:00 pm

.. So this is what I come back to.

My life is awesome.

Did you C&P this from somewhere, or is this what law class has taught you?

David 3:01 pm

I got into a conversation with a friend last night about why Pokemon fighting is legal but not dog fighting.

And In the course of explaining it I realized the conspiracy.