rynling: (Cecil Harvey)
Last night I re-watched the opening scene of Inglourious Basterds. This scene makes it clear that Christoph Waltz's character, a Nazi colonel known as "the Jew Hunter," is brilliant and charming but very obviously evil. He's not even ambiguously evil; you just want him to die. I find the movie difficult to watch for various reasons, but a large part of its appeal lies in how Tarantino alternates between setting up Waltz as a major antagonist and showing the audience that Brad Pitt's crack team of Nazi killers is absolutely worthy of taking him on.

This past weekend I posted an entry stanning Golbez, and I've also been stanning the shit out of Ganondorf recently. I think the reason I'm able to do this is because neither of them is actually shown hurting anyone; and, more importantly, neither of them has actually hurt me, the player.

For example, in Ocarina of Time, the most emotionally destructive thing Ganondorf does is to give Talon's ranch to Ingo, who probably should have been running it anyway. He also occupies Castle Town, but all of the NPCs relocate to Kakariko, where they seem to live comfortable lives. The only characters subtracted from the game by Ganondorf takes are the castle soldiers, who primarily served as faceless and annoying obstacles to Link, and the Great Deku Tree, who was older than dirt anyway and is immediately replaced by his adorable successor. It's also worth noting that Ganondorf never tries to harm Link or Zelda physically until after they both start attacking him at the end of the game.

Golbez is a bit more complicated in that he is indirectly responsible for the death of Anna, the King of Baron, Edge's parents, and Tellah, although these deaths are brought about by the hands of other characters (and, in the last case, by Tellah himself). Golbez is also responsible for the destruction of Damcyan and Eblan and the military assaults on Fabul and the Dwarven Castle. In addition, he raises (or transports from the moon??) the Giant of Babil, a Lunarian war machine whose ostensible purpose is to kill all of the humans living on Earth, although the game is unclear on why this makes sense or how it would even work. Finally, Golbez mind-rapes Kain and treats Rosa like an object, and that's not cool, but neither of these actions presents the player with any long-term consequences or setbacks. There's therefore a bit of narroludological dissonance between how Golbez impacts the player and how the player is supposed to perceive him as the ultimate bad guy of the story. To give a comparison, none of Golbez's appearances in the game inspires the same sort of strong player reaction as Kefka putting the slave crown on Terra or poisoning Doma or kicking Ifrit and Shiva into a trash pit at the Magitek Research Facility.

What I'm trying to say is that, if evil has no emotional resonance and is simply used as a plot device to launch the heroes into a series of fun adventures, then it's difficult to understand this evil as truly "evil." Instead, what you see are your player-characters blithely stealing everything that isn't nailed down while killing every creature that crosses their path with very little justification.

I think the problem here is that it's tricky to show the player the sort of genuinely harrowing evil on display in the opening scene of Inglourious Basterds while still aiming to create a game for teenagers or for a general audience.

Maybe I'm just too old for these games; but, then again, so are most gamers, at least statistically speaking. If the current alternative to Final Fantasy is Kojima Hideo's ridiculous nonsensical bullshit, then maybe it's time for me to take a break from Japanese games for a while.
rynling: (Cecil Harvey)
I finally sat down and beat the game. No major accomplishments to report, just victory.

So I have some thoughts about Golbez. )

What I'm therefore interested in is a re-telling of what happens before and during FFIV from the perspective of Golbez, who obviously wouldn't assume that everything he does over the course of twenty years is evil. I'm also intrigued by the idea that Kain might even be on board with Golbez's ideology but only returns to fight with Cecil because of an overdeveloped sense of chivalric loyalty, which causes him to experience guilt over his obvious attachment to Golbez.

It's going to be a long night on AO3.


May. 17th, 2015 09:17 am
rynling: (Cecil Harvey)
This past week was The Week of Many Parties. I never thought I'd say this, but I am partied out.

I have a ton of work to catch up on, some of which really should have been done days ago. I've been hungover for about three days running, and it is possible that I may have eaten an entire pizza by myself last night.

In times like these, it's good to make a list of all the most important tasks in my life so that I can get my career back on track. Here we go:

(1) Spend a solid two hours with the game Brothers.

(2) Watch Selma while leveling up in FFIV.

(3) Don't ship MLK with Andrew Young. Don't do it.

(4) Beat FFIV.

(5) Shed tears over the tragic love story that is Golbez and Kain.
rynling: (Cecil Harvey)
I'm still playing this game and still enjoying myself immensely.

I appreciate that the game is okay with being less than forty hours long. I hate it when games (LIKE FFXIII OMFG) have extraneous endgame content that amounts to nothing more than dozens of hours of grinding. Grinding can be fun in limited quantities, and FFIV DS certainly requires grinding (especially before the two tower dungeons), but more than an hour or two of grinding that doesn't directly lead to exploration or story development isn't good game design. Online games are an exception, but you (presumably) play them with friends and thus receive stimulation other than base repetition.

I also appreciate it that many of the more annoying aspects of gameplay in the original were updated in the remake. For example, it's nice that Rosa can now be equipped with a type of arrow instead of with a specific number of arrows. I know it seems more realistic to expend one arrow every time she attacks, but honestly, who in real life going to walk around with 99 arrows, I mean seriously.

Anyway, I'm really enjoying the boss fights as well. They're in the Chrono Trigger vein of boss battles, which are generally short but include interesting tricks and traps that need to be learned through experimentation. The bosses are dangerous even if you know how they're programmed, but no boss fight is going to last more than ten minutes. What I hate about post-FFXI Square Enix boss battles is that they last forever, not because your characters aren't prepared but rather because the boss has a gazillion hit points. Again, this sort of gameplay makes sense in online cooperative games but not in single-player console games. FFXII generally did okay with long battles in that the boss would change its pattern of attack or switch out with other boss enemies within a single battle, but FFXIII was ridiculous (especially towards the end, when even battles against regular enemies could take upwards of ten minutes).

Basically, FFIV DS is a perfect game...


...the rainbow pudding. The miserable, god-forsaken rainbow pudding. I was lucky enough to have it drop during my first battle against a group of slime enemies in the Antlion's Den in my current playthrough, but I remember logging almost seven hours trying to get it in my first playthrough back in the day. Shit like that drives me crazy.
rynling: (Cecil Harvey)
So, four things:

First, I'm big fan of ambient background music in video games, but I love the music in this game. The Dwarven Castle! The boss battle song! Cid's theme!

Second, I appreciate Rydia's character arc. She's not only a badass but also the most emotionally mature character in the game. It pleases me immensely that almost all of the side quests involve making her more powerful. It also makes me happy that these sidequests are about exploring interesting areas and seeking out new experiences instead of backtracking and grinding.

Third, it always used to bother me how vanilla Cecil is, since it's never in question that he is a good person or that Rosa will always love him. The older I get, though, the more I admire him for being able to maintain a pure heart despite all the shit he has to deal with.

Fourth, Golbez/Kain forever.

I still love this game. It's without a doubt the best remake I've ever played.
rynling: (Cecil Harvey)

I love it. Love it!

I was living in Japan when it was released in December 2007 (on my birthday!), and you better believe I was waiting in line at my local game store to buy a copy. I played the shit out of the game and then played the shit out of a new game plus in order to beat the two extra bosses. I think I must have read every single page of the strategy guide at least twice.

I never bothered with the English-language release for various reasons, but playing Bravely Default has made me nostalgic for this type of game, so I got a cheap copy on Amazon. I'm about ten hours in – I just started the Tower of Zot – and I'm having so much fun!

Unfortunately, I forgot about the augment system, so I failed to pick up the Item Lore augment after Edward's cut scene in Kaipo, which prevented me from giving three augments to Palom and Porom, which in turn prevents me from getting the Dualcast augment on my first playthrough. Unless Rosa and Rydia both have Dualcast (in other words, if you don't get the augment on both the first and the second playthrough), it's impossible to beat the extra bosses... So what I'm trying to say is that I probably won't do a new game plus playthrough this time, since I'm not interested in deleting everything and playing the past ten hours over again.

But, you know, it's okay. The older I get, the more I realize that 100% completion in any given JRPG is only feasible for middle school kids on summer vacation (or adult kids on permanent vacation).


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