Friday, September 28, 2012

Xenogears: The First Five Villains

Villains. Can't live with 'em, can't have a good story without 'em. Seriously, without a villain, a game is either about solving puzzles or playing sports, and even those games sometimes have bad guys at the end.

Your evil mileage may vary.

Putting together a villain is complex. There are varying degrees of villainy and each one is right or wrong depending on the situation. You wouldn't pit Murky and Lurky up against The Punisher any more than you would let Hannibal Lecter loose on Sesame Street.

Five! Five fava beans! Ah-ha ha!

Having a villain suited to the hero is the foundation of a well-crafted tale. Superman, the god struggling to become a human, needs Lex Luthor, the human desperate to be a god. The pro and an versions of a story's tagonist naturally need to be at odds over some aspect of the story, but their reasons for being so are the stuff separating the boring stories from epic tales.

Of course, what's most important to creating some real drama is driving home the point of exactly how the hero and villain of a story match up. Some like to see evenly matched opposites, like Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty, or Captain Picard and that evil clone of Captain Picard from Star Trek: Nemesis.

The only way to beat Picard is with more Picard.

Others prefer it when the hero is hopelessly outmatched and has overwhelming odds to fight through. Then there are those stories where either side could be right, it's all a matter of perspective as to who the bad guy is. Villains run the gamut from hideously evil to morally ambiguous and every stop in-between. That's why what matters in establishing this is how the villain is portrayed in relation to others. Now, I'm only a few hours in to my new playthrough of Xenogears, having finally grabbed a moment to beat Suikoden III for good and all a few weeks ago,  and I can tell you already that this game has done its antagonists up better than most of the games of the last decade even tried to.

Let's spend a little time discussing some of the bad guys of the Xenogears world, and how with a few select scenes the writers made them come to life.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Poll Dancing

Check out the hot new addition to the Backlog on the right-hand side of the page!

Ayn and I both have a glut of titles to get through and we want to hear from you regarding which ones we should go through and write about next. So you, our loyal readers, get to pick which games get the Backlog treatment, meaning a lot of (hopefully) witty observations about the gameplay and story replete with humorously-captioned pictures.

For Ayn, choose between;

Shin Megami Tensei 3: Nocturne, the only game so far I've attempted and given up on. Can Ayn muscle through where sanity demands you quit?

Star Ocean: The Last Hope, a game that will hopefully redeem the Star Ocean series after what happened in SO3. Or will it (it probably won't)?

Baten Kaitos Origins is . . . a game that was made, that's undeniable. Ayn is offering to play through it for you, and if nothing else that tells you how dedicated we are to what we do.

People have called Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together the best remake of the oft-revisited game. Would you like to see what Ayn has to say about it?

As for me, I'm making an offering of three of the titles still left on my Almost Got 'Em list. So would you rather read about my exploits playing through . . .

I've already got a game going on Xenogears, so any thoughts on the matter, not to mention eventual completion, would come a lot faster than the other games on this list. Just sayin!

Of course, then there's Lunar: Silver Star Story complete, a game I actually have beaten without realizing you can still die after the last boss.  Can I redeem myself and not march Alex to his death with a second playthrough?

 Finally, the always love-it-or-hate-it Final Fantasy VIII is up on the Backlog block. Will I collect every card? Will I make sense of the story? Will I give Angelo a hilarious name? It's up to you!

So there you have it; your list of choices for what you'd like to see from us next. Voting ends in a week, and we can't wait to see what you decide.

Until next time, you decide what we keep playing.