Nintendo Switch becomes relevant to my interests with Octopath Traveler

Yes, I set my alarm clock to 4:55 am, just enough time to get my laptop and a glass of water and huddle back into bed to watch the Nintendo Switch presentation. I thought it might be fun to watch live, certainly more fun than to get all the news via other people’s opinion-tinted reports. Glad I did, btw.

And when Square Enix previewed an upcoming Nintendo Switch RPG with the amazing title of Octopath Traveler, I was in. Square Enix making an RPG for the latest Nintendo console? And it sports beautifully detailed graphics in a retro style reminiscent of the SNES? ;___; Be still, my heart.

There isn’t much concrete info about Project Octopath Traveler at this point. Phrases such as “vast world of adventure”, “every road is yours to take” and “embark on an adventure all your own” certainly imply that it won’t be a strictly linear affair. Octopath … eight paths … there are eight characters in that artwork? My first idea was that this’d mean eight playable characters with parallel storylines, but the battle screenshot appears to contadict this: There are several of the characters featured in the party at the same time. And eight linear storylines would still be linear, and not ~all my own~  … The mystery remains!

But all this emphasis on freedom, paired with the word “Traveler”, really makes me excited for this game. I just want to explore a large RPG world so, so much. And the world of Octopath Traveler looks quite cool. Just those two locations in the trailer – a cave and a harbour town – convey a lot of atmosphere. I can’t wait to talk to everyone and steal all those apples, and find a way to the pier in the background and and and. Yeah, I’m stupidly excited, so what? =P

Octopath Traveler is said to be a game by “the makers of Bravely Default“, which ought to mean Silicon Studio, but I don’t see the company actually named anywhere. That’s a bit confusing right now. But the game definitely has the same Final Fantasy Tactics look that was the basis for Bravely, and the logo even uses the same design. Then again, it might be a working title and placeholder logo. Then again, that’s probably what people said about Bravely Default. =P

Question: Last year a cooperation between Silicon Studio and Hironobu Sakaguchi was announced. Is that this game? Another game? I’m confused and require an update!

“Octopath” half sounds like it could be a bad Japanese/English pun on “octopus”, too. We all know that the Bravely series is all about bad Japanese/English puns. Ganbarevenge.

Link: Official Octopath Traveler site (with trailer video; warning for pretty background music on autoplay)

A look back on Outlander Season 2 (and the series overall)

I meant to write this sooner, but … that’s the story of my life. Or at least of this blog. And I tend to get insecure when I don’t know who my audience is. When it comes to Outlander … Well, I don’t actually know any other Outlander viewers – or even readers, for that matter. I’ve never had a conversation with another viewer that extended beyond pleasantries. And the outside perception of Outlander is … frustratingly inaccurate: That it’s a sappy guilty-pleasure bodice-ripper for shallow women, all superficial sex and wish-fulfillment and bla bla bla. You know, the stuff you should be a little bit ashamed of watching. I dunno, that’s obviously one aspect of Outlander, but another aspect of Outlander is that it grounds the central love story in a world that is realistically dirty, unpleasant and cruel. And it takes unusual turns – and bold ones, I’d say. Really, that’s one thing you have to respect about Outlander: this show isn’t afraid to topple its whole premise over and change radically. This is especially true for Season 2. I’ll proceed with spoilers. (And also some Hannibal spoilers.)

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Let me deliver a a tiny MacGyver rant.

I am not categorically against remakes or reboots. The new Ghostbusters was great, for example. It was definitely a modern film, while the original Ghostbusters was very much an 80’s film. But the new movie preserved the core idea of the original, and understood what was so appealing and fun about the original’s premise: four friends, hunting ghosts, with self-built, crappy-looking gadgets.

But this? This MacGyver reboot that CBS has decided to release unto the world? Going by the trailer: Everything about it just feels off, as if none of the creators understood what made MacGyver different from other “special agent who solves cases”. Look, MacGyver’s whole thing was that he tinkered with stuff, found unexpected and crazy solutions to all sorts of problems. He hated guns, so he wouldn’t resort to simply shooting his enemies, but try to find some more contrived, more imaginative ways to overcome an enemy or obstacle.

Reboot!MacGyver comes with his own personal back-up sniper.

Nope!

I mean, giving MacGyver a team seems unneeded anyway, but making one team member’s specialty weapons and brute force? Wouldn’t this fundamentally change MacGyver’s approach to problem-solving? Wouldn’t it essentially undermine the premise? I didn’t even spot a Swiss Army knife in that trailer.

Outlander 2×04

I’m behind! I’m behind! D:

I read this Wall Street Journal review of Outlander 2×04 and (in combination with plenty of other articles I read during the past months) it made me wonder, how do we actually talk about rape on television? We all agree that it’s a weighty topic, and that it is often mishandled. So the conversation has started to evolve around a single question: „Is it done right here or is it done wrong?“. “Wrong” means that it is cliché, upholds harmful stereotypes, doesn’t deal with the complex effects of rape on the victims, reduces it to a quick, cheap plot device. “Right” usually means that it treats the victim with respect, focuses on their experience, shatters stereotypes and so on.

This is an important question, but it’s still really tedious when, in the second season of a show like Outlander, which has been dealing closely with rape and the aftermath of rape for a while now, journalists and fans alike still appear vaguely unsure and wary of the topic, and talk about it pretty superficially in terms of right/wrong, necessary/unnecessary.

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Outlander 2×03

It is sort of funny – and by that I mean “disappointing” – to read “analyses” of this episode’s fight between Claire and Jamie that pretend Jamie’s anger is born out of chauvinism and nothing else. Sure, it makes for a very neat jumping-off point to talk about old-fashioned, restrictive gender roles and about female empowerment. Those are important topics, too. But it’s not an actual analysis of that scene, because there are a lot more factors influencing their behaviour. (And this really is an episode where everyone takes out their frustrations on other people – Jamie on Claire, Claire on Murtagh.)

I think I see this sort of thing a lot … that people analyze pop culture stuff in a way that kind of dumbs it down and reduces it to a single problem or social issue. Not always maliciously! Even Jessica Jones, which did inspire some deeper thoughts in people, was a lot more complicated and ambivalent than it was usually given credit for.

I want to blame TVTropes – or the sentiment that made TVTropes so successful for a while: it’s all about spotting broad archetypes, specific key phrases, plot twists and patterns. It is about breaking stories down into parts, discarding the nuances and complexities and how things work in context, putting the rest into neat, separate, labelled boxes. It’s easy, but it’s pointless.

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Outlander 2×01 and 2×02

I’ve been meaning to write regularily about Outlander as the second season is airing, but I’m terrible at sticking to a schedule and have already fallen way behind! X_x One problem for me is that I’m not terribly good about recap-style reviews. I think my reactions are too … diffuse and random. I’d rather just ramble on about some aspect that stood out to me, not attempt to make a thorough assessment of every scene and character. Evaluating single episodes of a serialized drama isn’t the most useful approach anyway, because every episode is just a chapter of an ongoing story.

That having said, most Outlander episodes strike a good balance between serialized storytelling and episode-specific plots. The first two episodes of Season 2 are incredibly different in tone, style, structure and setting, so it’d actually be possible to discuss them at length on their own terms, but I’m not the person to do that. :) I just ramble about this and that.

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