Status Report: Videogames, too many videogames!

Sorry, haha! This blog hasn’t been active in the nice, casual but reliable way that I’d hoped for. Life got in the way of blogging, and even more importantly, videogames. Last week, I became aware that Octopath Traveler was drawing close but I hadn’t finished The Alliance Alive yet – the game everyone said was so short and small, the game I thouht wouldn’t last me the entire time until Octo’s release. Turns out I am a very slow player, not because I’m dedicated to 100% runs and doing everything there is to do, but because I’m someone who plays for fun and distraction instead of results. The Alliance Alive rewards exploration and repeatedly talking to the same NPCs – exactly how I like it. It was easy to stall, run around the world map and do anything but proceed with the story! I played TAA for 70+ hours, no regrets.

But it also meant that yesterday, I took a dep breath and went past the point of no return, and rushed through the final section of the game in order to reach the end boss asap. It was a strange experience. I’ve never done it like this, I’ve never tried to finish a JRPG quickly, and I realised that I wasn’t actually ready to stop playing. I would have liked to update my equipment one last time, bring the last character to 500 HP and experiment some more with formations. Instead, I beat the end boss on my second attempt and then enjoyed the game’s cute but strangely slow-paced ending. The whole thing had taken me … two hours?

I am so excited for Octopath Traveler, though! I can spend the remaining time until it’s in my hand deciding which character I will choose as my protagonist. I haven’t played the recent demo – I didn’t want to start playing the game and then be forced to take a break from it until the full release!

But … I don’t know who to pick. :( I am still drawn to Primrose, but also find Cyrus really interesting.

But the past few weeks … months, really … following the news and witnessing the selfishness, the gleeful viciousness coming from politicians, the fearmongering and whining, the way that the simplest acts of kindness got reinterpreted into stupidity and dangers … Fuck this shit. I want to play as Alfyn now: the guy who was rescued by a stranger as a child, and who was inspired to travel the world to help people. Just help people.

When Final Fantasy IX came out, there was an ad poster or something that featured Zidane and his motto: You don’t need a reason to help people.

In videogames, the gritty and dark, the morally grey, the assholish characters get frequently praised as “complex” and “realistic”. But I’ve always had a fondness for characters who, even admidst the most complicated politics and difficult choices, don’t lose sight of the most important thing: kindness, and human dignity.

In the end, I’ll probably pick a character on a whim, though. I shouldn’t overthink the decision, but just go with whatever comes most natural in the moment. :)

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3×3 Eyes Reread, part 3: It’s Tokyo being threatened by a monster! Shocker. ;)

(Volume 6)

I want to apologise for how rambling these posts might have been … and will probably continue to be. It’s difficult to always find the right balance between recapping and commentary. That is, recaps are boring, but I still need to briefly explain which scene or circumstance I’m talking about. And sometimes, the process of writing things out in my own words helps me figure out what I even think about it in the first place.

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The Alliance Alive: Everything is better with penguins …

Just now I was playing The Alliance Alive and fooling around with battle formation. There is the option to have the game suggest formation names for you, which I did because I am uncreative like that. Now, the game kept giving me fish names! At first, this confused me. Then I realised I had put Robbins in the lead, and he is a penguin. Aw, penguins love fish! Of course we’re going to fight in the Mackerel position!! It’s neat little details like this that make the game feel so deep and rich! It’s technically superfluous, but it brings me great joy – and that’s the point, right? This is why I play games: fun!

I had been reluctant to give TAA a try. After all, I had tired of Legend of Legacy quickly, and it hadn’t just been the lack of a storyline that put me off that game. It had been the dull, uninspired design of the starting town. It was just a very meh place. Why go there. But when I saw the first town of The Alliance Alive, and it was an atmospheric place with interesting NPCs, I was won over. And yes, of course it also helped that TAA kept Legend’s battle system, but was clearly also a story-heavy game full of quirky characters and well-written dialogue! Yay!

The reviews I’ve read didn’t always do the game justice, I think It was almost as if people were holding Legend of Legacy’s failures against this other game. Whatever problems some reviewers appeared to have with the characters or the story or the battle system … I don’t see it. To me, so far, this is a great game and I am glad I checked it out.

I really appreciate that the game feels so open most of the time. You can explore the world, which is full of little mysteries that you might miss if you just blindly rush through things. You can spend hours just exploring the world map!

Sometimes, NPCs react differently depending on which character is in the lead. Which means that not only do I try to track down and talk to every NPCs, but I try to talk to them repeatedly. =D

I encourage everyone to give The Alliance Alive a try, especially if you’ve been avoiding it because of Legend of Legacy. :3 This is not a final verdict, since I am still playing the game, and I hope it will keep me occupied for the next month or two. Until Octopath Traveler, ideally.

3×3 Eyes Reread: Part 2! It’s Sazan Eyes with a twist! Or two or three twists.

Volumes 3 to 5

I ended up on WomenWriteAboutComics this week, and, on a whim, searched the page for any articles about 3×3 Eyes. To my surprise, the search presented me with an article from last December: “10 Reasons Dark House Needs To Finish Releasing 3×3 Eyes“. Woohoo! I’m always happy when someone, somewhere, knows about 3×3 Eyes. Especially in the English-speaking world, where 3×3 Eyes was only partially published a long time ago, and probably isn’t on the radar of most comics or manga fans … Which is a shame, but I can hardly blame them. They only really got a few manga volumes and of course the anime (two short OVA mini series). The anime tells an incomplete story, covering just the first five volumes (out of 40! 40!). I am actually going to discuss in this post why the ending of volume 5 is such an unfortunate place to just call it a day.

That article also made me go “OMG, ARE YOU ME?” repeatedly, first at the description of Amara (I swear I must have used these exact words before), then because the writer dedicates the article’s longest paragraph to my beloved cinnamon roll, Hazrat Haan <3 <3. (Also, seriously, don’t read that article if you want to avoid spoilers, because there’s hella spoilers. Especially regarding the most precious bundle of joy, Haan.)

But back to the topic at hand: Volumes 3 to 5 form an arc that actually sets itself apart quite dramatically from everything that came before, and what will come after. Amara notwithstanding, I consider it the strangest arc of 3×3 Eyes.

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Let’s start a 3×3 Eyes reread! Because that’s an awesome manga and I wanna read it again.

3×3 Eyes! I love 3×3 Eyes! It’s one of my favourite manga series! And sometimes, At random intervals, my thoughts wander back to 3×3 Eyes and I grab a random volume, which almost always leads to grabbing another volume … grabbing another one because I wanna check that one scene I just remembered … grabbing another one because that was the wrong one … reading the next because there was a cliffhanger … And before you know it, I am surrounded by piles of manga (because 3×3 Eyes is a long series at 40 volumes!) and that’s usually when I get the idea: “I should just read the entire series in order instead of randomly reading bits and pieces!” So that’s what I’m gonna do now.

For starters, I read the first two volumes, since they form a little arc of their own. I haven’t actually watched the anime, but as far as I know, the first OVA series covers this part of the story.

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