Octopath Traveler demo impressions: Primrose >>> Olberic

I might blog more in the coming weeks. I’m kind of in the mood, but I make no promises. It took me a long time to type up this post, haha. Totally need to get back into the groove. Anyway, I really can’t not talk about the demo of Project Octopath Traveler, the Switch-exclusive neo-retro JRPG that Square Enix is going to bless us with next year. When a trailer for the game popped up in the Switch presentation at the start of this year, I was immediately in love with it. Visually it was amazing. Not just nostalgic, but atmospheric and full of detail. The soundtrack was excellent. The trailer also promised a large world and nonlinear gameplay – which made Octopath Traveler sound like the game of my dreams, more or less.

Last month’s demo shed some light on how this is going to work out, although I suspect that there are still things we don’t know for sure. There are going to be eight playable characters, each with their own backstory, starting location and reason to go on an epic journey. The other seven characters can be recruited into the party during the story, but the demo does not answer how exactly this aspect is going to be handled. For the most part, the demo shows off two of the eight characters, and demonstrates how their unique abilities influence both the battles and the exploration portions of the game.

The warrior Olberic can challenge NPCs to a duel, with different results: defeating an NPC in battle might get you access to a door they were blocking, or it might be the solution to a sidequest where they need to have some sense knocked into them.

The dancer Primrose has the ability “Allure”, where she seduces NPCs into going with her. You can have these characters help you in battles, or you can take specific NPCs to specific places as part of a sidequest.

Interestingly, the demo contained a few sidequests that could be solved with either of these abilities, but with different outcomes. I got the vague feeling that these different outcomes might have further consequences later on, although that may just be wishful thinking on my part. It would certainly result in every player getting a somewhat different experience, just as advertised! Especially if we assume that everyone is going to be using different characters and thus have different abilities at their disposal to solve sidequests.

But now I must talk a little bit about why Primrose >>>> Olberic.

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Last week in fun

Oh my god, Darkwing Duck is going to be in the DuckTales reboot! Darkwing Duck is the only superhero I truly care for, and I am thrilled that he gets to be a part of this new, modern version of the Duck universe. He’s not been forgotten! I am very curious to see how this turns out. This also made me realize that 2017!Webby is essentially Gosalyn. It’s kind of ironic that everyone was praising the new Webby as a modernized, era-appropriate reinvisioning, and we all kind of forgot that in the 1990, that character already existed. And I don’t remember anybody making a fuss about it.

Maybe that’s what bothers me about today’s … idk, cultural debates? Everything is so polarizing. Something as mundane and common-place as a female main character is immediately discussed like it MUST be a daring political statement. It can’t be anything else.

I got sidetracked into watching Crimson Peak yesterday. Or at least part of it. I didn’t catch the first 30, 45 minutes or so, but the film was still easy to follow, since everything is really familiar and predictable. Spoiler warning! It looks like most people agree that the plot is predictable. Hilariously there are a few reviews or blog posts that argue against this, and say it’s actually really deep and totally defies expectations! Haha, no? Also, while I understand where people are coming from, and it’s not like I don’t pick up on these things, but I’m not going to praise this movie for its ~feminism~ when it all eventually boils down to a light-coded good woman versus a dark-coded bad woman, and all the men are siding  with the good woman against the bad one. Even the male serial killer has a change of heart, so that in the end, the crazy, evil woman stands alone while the heroine has all the privilege and support of society. A woman hitting another, mentally ill woman in the head with a shovel is not exactly peak feminism. Feminism should punch up, not kick down.

Right, so. Enough complaining. I’m not entirely sure how I ended up there, but Youtube eventually suggested me videos of old Dragon Quest: Dai no Daibouken action figures, so I’ve been watching those. There’s even a figure of Brass! That’s so cool.

Anyway, my immediate future plans: Tell you what, I won’t even TRY to write a blog post next week. I’ll take care of real-life stuff, and only when I’m all relaxed and content will I tackle my backlog of manga, books, videogames and whatever else I’ve been half-assing. That sounds like a good, responsible plan. Right?

Weekly recap: The fun I had!!

Alright, so this was another meh week overall, but it picked up near the weekend. I finally got around to write and post my review of Arte, the curiously feminist manga by Kei Ohkubo.

The most exciting news this week was today’s Doctor Who announcement. the thirteenth Doctor will be played by a woman for the first time! I am happy with this, not because I desperately wanted a female Doctor, but because I desperately wanted something different. Just anything but another young, white man. Not because there’s anything wrong with young white men, haha. But I really enjoyed Capaldi as the Doctor, I found it refreshing to have an older man instead of yet another bouncy, manic gummy-face – no offence to David Tennant or Matt Smith, but I’m glad they tried something different with Twelve. And I am glad they are trying something different with Thirteen! Having a woman in this role is going to result in new, fresh dynamics, and I’m curious to see what this will be like! I hope they are going to be more creative in the future as well – also with the choice of companions, since that’s another way to shake things up.

(I’ll just ignore the misogynistic backlash, since these whiny idiots don’t deserve to be taken seriously.)

Changing topic. It’s nearly been a month since RPG Maker Fes has come out … and I’ve really slowed down! D: That’s not necessarily a bad thing. I basically started taking my game more seriously, so now I am actually thinking about the big picture instead of making it up as I go along. I need some time to come up with a structure that works, and to flesh out the characters. Luckily, I greatly enjoy daydreaming about stories.

The most FEMINIST manga I know: Arte by Kei Ohkubo

Everyone in anime/manga fandom misunderstands demographic categories. For example seinen: often described as gritty, edgy stories with lots of violence and sex, and sexual violence. Always dark, always psychologically complex, manly stories for manly men.

And then they get confused when they learn that A Bride’s Story is seinen. And so is Chi’s Sweet Home. Haha.

Bride’s Story is sometimes misidentified as shojo or as josei, because it’s about women, and somehow there’s this idea that only women care enough about women to read stories with female protagonists. Which is a rather sad thought, you know?

I am by no means an expert, but I am kind of getting the impression that there’s actually an entire sort of genre of seinen manga that is blatantly about women and their struggles in society, past or present, in foreign places or domestically! So, let’s discuss one such manga, Arte by Kei Ohkubo.

I first took note of Arte because of the gorgeous cover illustrations. Look at them! The details, the colour, the atmosphere! I’ve read the first three volumes now, which is enough to form an opinion.

Arte runs in Comic Zenon. There are currently six volumes out in Japan, five in France, where it’s published by Komikku. Before I discovered manga, I didn’t know I’d ever be grateful for my tedious French lessons!

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The fun I had last week …

Manga: I watched a Youtube video about “Shonen Anime’s Biggest Problem”, and while I agree with the core idea that power escalation is a huge problem for battle-focused shonen stories, and that making the fights bigger and more badass is meaningless without finding believable emotional stakes … Yeah, well, but I am mostly struck by just how few shonen titles people even know these days! And yet they try to make sweeping generalizations about the genre of shonen battle manga. In this video, there’s an attempt made to lump shonen manga in three sort of groups: first wave, second wave and third wave. Not only does he basically claim that Hunter X Hunter isn’t really part of any “wave”, being ~too unique, a ~deconstruction. He also shows a picture of Yu Yu Hakusho alongside Dragonball (as “first wave”), implying that he believes this to be another generic old shonen manga that just throws bigger and bigger enemies at the heroes, without depth or self-examination. Which is simply ludicrous! In YYH, Togashi already did many of the things he’d later do again in HxH, things that newbies today consider to be ~unlike anything that’s ever been done in shonen manga~.

It’s kind of sad how Rurouni Kenshin is never talked about in these videos or written analyses. It’d blow their minds! Because Kenshin is genuinely atypical in many ways, but it’s still a classic, famous and successful Jump manga. But … it doesn’t have a recent anime adaptation that can be watched on Crunchyroll, so it simply doesn’t exist for today’s crop of “shonen experts”.

Anyway, I just automatically lose respect for people when they say Hunter X Hunter is “not really a shonen manga” but a “deconstruction”. HxH is a shonen manga, and like many other shonen manga before, it plays with the reader’s expectations and comes up with a couple of surprising new takes on familiar tropes. That doesn’t mean it’s no longer a shonen manga, it just means it’s a good one. But that’s what happens if your entire shonen horizon begins at Bleach and ends at Naruto, and DBZ memes: you don’t know what you’re talking about.

I don’t know a lot of shonen manga myself, which is why I try to avoid blanket statements about the category as a whole. I don’t want to embarass myself, mostly.

Videogames: I am still busy with RPG Maker Fes. This week, I finally learned how to use variables to create a sidequest. I really find it oddly relaxing to think within logical commands. Obviously, it’s challenging and requires concentration and figuring things out, but it’s a kind of concentration that relaxes and satisfies me. At least … if it works. Sometimes I regret that Mathematics and numbers never clicked with me, because there’s something nice about their order and precision, quite different from the diffuse chaos of words.

TV: I don’t know what came over me, but I binge-watched Doctor Who‘s tenth season this weekend. I hadn’t watched any Doctor Who in years and really had no interest whatsoever. But … it was actually quite nice! I like Peter Capaldi’s Doctor, and I really like Bill as a companion, and it’s kind of funny I get attached to them now that the season and their time on the show is basically over, haha. Hmm. The thing is, I really like the stand-alone episodes of Doctor Who, but whenever it goes for complex and longer story arcs, I put up some kind of inner resistence, and don’t connect with it so well. I wonder why that is. Maybe I just like things low-key.

I generally really like stories where normal people get drawn into something supernatural and weird, with creative, unusual monsters or alien threats. Some of my favourite bits of 3×3 Eyes essentially did this in combination with a POV shift, so you also get to see the main characters from the perspective of a clueless newcomer. One famous example of this occurs right after the timeskip, when “Pai” has lost her memory and lives as a normal schoolgirl, until creepy puppets try to kidnap her and a strange young man claims to know her from a past life. And that’s Yakumo, our protagonist! (I love Yakumo.) And the creepy puppets are like something out of a Doctor Who episode, totally, especially when their backstory is revealed … and ultimately it’s about humanity and stuff. Aww.

 

 

The fun I had last week: RPG Maker Fes!!

OK, to be honest, the past week was … too hot, exhausting, and all I did was work and sleep. Friday, of course, saw the release of Ever Oasis and RPG Maker Fes. I have not played Ever Oasis yet, but RPG Maker is a lot of fun!

RPG Maker Fes has its limitations, compared to the PC versions, which allow for a lot of customization. But that’s understandable, isn’t it? After all, you can share your games online, so there probably needs to be a limit to file sizes and a way to make sure no one contributes inappropriate or copyrighted images, sound files etc. Limitations are also good for creativity, because they make you try to figure out what you can do with the things you have at your disposal. And let’s not underestimate the following factor: Since there’s no option of custom graphics or sound, there is no pressure to use them. You fall into this trap where you think you have to create unique graphics before you can actually start making the game, and don’t end up stuck in the planning phase. Well, at least that’s what I imagine it’s like for many people, especially those that do not have an actual talent for pixel art …

I’ve been surprisingly productive with RPG Maker Fes over the weekend, although I started without a plan. Not that I don’t have game ideas, but I let myself be inspired by the available character designs and chipsets and came up with a completely different idea. And … I don’t really have a proper plan for the game. Right now, I am stuffing a small town full of details and interaction possibilities. I made a first little “sidequest” which took hours and was really complicated because it required several switches and I am easily confused!

There seem to be a lot of RPG Maker veterans who are disappointed by the limits of this version of the program, but it’s probably a really good RPG Maker for beginners, exactly because of these limitations. Obviously, you have to look for tutorials elsewhere, since the program itself contains no detailed explainations, but you can build a nice little game without getting bogged down with the pressure to avoid standard chipsets and use custom scripts and all sorts of fancy things.

I hope this first game turns out well, because I’d really like it to be good enough to share online. After all, I am curious to know what other people think. But first things first. I must figure out the structure of this game. It shouldn’t be too long, but it needs to be able to tell some kind of story. Tricky, tricky. I have not really done anything with battle yet. It’s all town exploration so far. And one pretty elaborate cut scene, which I am very proud of.

 

 

The fun I had last week … lazy edition

Hey, I did it! I wrote three long-ish blog posts in the past week. This here’s technically a fourth, but I don’t think it counts since it’s just rambling. I’m really tired, so this is probably going to be a short post anyway.

Watching the opening of the new Duck Tales TV show makes me really nostalgic. Not necessarily even for the old TV show, but all those comics! I know it wasn’t a thing in the USA, but in several European countries, Disney comics were big. And they were wonderful. I think the next rainy weekend afternoon will be spend bingereading Don Rosa’s The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck …

Despite the fact I have a lot of unread manga waiting on my shelf! Reports of an upcoming Pluto anime has reminded me of the fact I still haven’t finished reading the manga. I should probably do that, too. But we’ll see when I get around to that …

I’m still making my way though Dragon Quest VII. I don’t think I’ll finish it in time for Ever Oasis, but I’m confident that I won’t take too long now. And I’m happy with my progress. I actually did a little bit of mini medal collecting and stuff like that, even though that does not advance the story and is therefore technically a waste of time (if you’re trying to finish a game quickly). But it’s much more fun to play more leasurely and not always be 100% focused on the next goal.

I have not really kept up with E3 news! I know that Hironobu Sakaguchi is going to reveal a new Mistwalker game next week, and that Nobuo Umatsu is involved, so that’s something I am curious about. Some artwork has been teased so far … Oh well, just a few days left.