Saturday, December 8, 2012

Faulty Reasons

I've hit an impasse with Nocturne.

No, I'm not bored of playing the game, but it has been on hiatus as work's gotten busy.  I've had a fun time playing it.  Heck, I've grinded to the point where my characters were ridiculously overpowered for a good portion of the game:  For those of you who have a frame of reference, let's just say being level 60 before having access to the 3rd Kalpa of the Amala Labyrinth makes things much, much easier.

But now I'm at the point of the game where I'm faced with a choice:  Nocturne, like many other MegaTen games, has multiple endings based on the choices that you make and which individual(s) you align yourself with.  Each of these characters has something called a "Reason" (or "Kotowari" in the Japanese version), which is the underlying philosophy used as a basis for creating a new world from the Vortex World (basically, the ruins of the former world before its rebirth) the game takes place in.  Allying with any of these characters will shape the new world with the vision of the selected character.

And that's where the problem lies:  I wouldn't trust any of these people to watch after my pet rock, much less with the responsibility of shaping the foundation of the new world.

Let's see my dubious choices, shall we?  Though be warned:  Spoilers abound:

Shijima - A World of Stillness

"Shijima" is Hikawa's vision of the new world.  Shijima results in a world of stillness, where individuality is eliminated, harmony is paramount, and everyone is "one with God":

Exactly like this.

In a way, Hikawa is trying to look out for the greater good of society, and more importantly, the earth as a whole by reducing mankind's constant squabbles.  It's a noble goal, but even the most collectivist culture would agree it's not without its problems:

Namely, a world where a lack of individuality would make this Game of the Year

..Then there's Hikawa himself.  Beyond my own (as well as my in-game avatar's) reasons against  Shijima, Hikawa looks like a sleazy used car salesman.  Seriously.  Look at the suit.  I'd trust his Reason as much as I'd trust buying a Ford car in the 80's.

"I guarantee you that that are no prostitutes--ok, dead prostitutes in the trunk"

So who does that leave me with next?

Musubi - The World Ends (and begins) With You

Musubi is the Reason of individuality, and one based on solitude and isolation.  It is a world free of interference from anyone, and a world where each person is the superstar of their own individual world.  In a way, it sounds nice:  No one interferes with each other, and everyone is as special as they want to be in their own little bubble.  Compared to some of the other Reasons, this one isn't so bad, though we've seen it go wrong in other games before:

For once, I mean the  actual events of the game, rather than the game itself

As someone who's worked in education, the last thing I want is a world where a bunch of people think they're all special unique snowflakes.  The other part of it is Isamu's personality:  He's an insufferable, whiny little dolt who spends the first part of the game before the world-altering event nagging the main character and fawning over his teacher. The rest of it (as far as I've gotten) is spent being a whiny, ungrateful dimwit, even after he's been bailed out of trouble countless times.

But above it all, he has a dumb hat.  That was pretty much the dealbreaker.

Is it any wonder his crush doesn't give him the time of the day?

Well, that's two down.  What's next?

Yosuga - Survival of the Fittest

Chiaki follows the Reason of Yosuga, which emphasizes an elite ruling class presiding over lesser beings.

"Yosuga" is Japanese for "Romney".  Look it up.

Really, it's Social Darwinism taken to the extreme.  By Chiaki's principles, the world should only have beautiful things, where beauty is equated to strength. and where the strong survive, while the weak serve the strong or die.

I'd have been totally ok with Shishio Makoto instead of Chiaki.

I'd be all for this, except that Chiaki's reason for her...Reason is based out of her own fear of being weak.  But perhaps the bigger dealbreaker is that later on, she aligns herself with the angels.  If you've played any SMT game through to completion, then you know that angels are jerks.

Metatron Financial: Reminding mortals of their inferiority since Genesis 5:24

So basically, I'm stuck between choosing the lesser of three evils, right?

Well. . . not quite

True Demon Ending

Nocturne has sat on my backlog long enough at this point that I've inadvertantly (and at times intentionally) spoiled myself enough to know there's one more ending, known as the "True Demon Ending".  I haven't read too many details on it, beyond knowing that you have a tougher boss fight at the end of the game, and that it's the path where you say "screw it" to the above three and go off on your own road of sorts.

Sadly, one where these guys aren't recruitable as demons.

It also has some of the more interesting story elements associated with it, but the requirements are pretty steep.  The short summary is that it requires you to travel to the very bottom of the Amala Labyrinth and fight an extra boss by end game.  Yet what's associated with that involves fighting a number of optional bosses, grinding to high levels, and reconfiguring your entire demon line up in preparation for the final battle.  From the sound of it, that could easily add another 10 hours (at least) to an already long game.

I've written in the past about how I'm trying to wean myself off being a total completionist, which is what the True Demon Ending represents.

...But when I look at the above options for endings, I can't help but feel it's a little sad that I go for the 'completionist' ending not because of any large desire to get it, but because I don't want to side with a used car salesman, a cock-blocked student with a dumb hat, or a paranoid high school female.

Perhaps further play will unveil an option that isn't totally horrible, but we'll see.  Until then, I'll keep playing.

Albeit reluctantly.

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