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.

Chrono Trigger: thoughts on a certain yes/no choice …

Remember when I wrote something about ethical choices in videogames? Uh, I won’t blame you if you don’t, it was a long time ago. Back then I said that there was a specific choice in Chrono Trigger that I wanted to write about in more detail. And then … erh, I didn’t do it. Months passed! But it’s been nagging at me all this time!!!

So I’ll write about it on this fine, sunny day! Spoilers for Chrono Trigger will follow, and I recommend you play this game, because it’s vey good.

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The fun I had last week – Sunday wrap-up

I’m forcing myself to write these posts even if I haven’t managed to write a proper blog post all week. I was kind of busy wih real-life stuff, and … videogames, haha. I’ve been focusing on Dragon Quest VII lately, and made considerable progress. Perhaps I will manage to finish the game before Ever Oasis comes out?

Playing DQ7 put me in a Chrono Trigger mood, because it’s a JRPG, it has Toriyama designs and it involves time travel! I don’t feel like replaying Chrono Trigger at the moment, but I do like to listen to its music and think about its plot and characters.

Square Enix announced a new game by Tokyo RPG Factory, the guys who made I Am Setsuna (another game I’ve yet to complete). Lost Sphear looks a lot like I Am Setsuna, and the trailer suggests that it’s also going to have a melancholic feeling. But the settings aren’t exclusively snowy and the soundtrack isn’t piano-only, so I’m thinking that this game is probably going to have a more open and adventury feel? The plot sounds kind of like The Neverending Story, which isn’t a bad thing, of course. That book will always be special to me.

I’ve decided to quit visiting The Mary Sue. It’s something I’d mostly been doing out of boredom and because I don’t really know any other websites of that type. But since I don’t care for Marvel, superhero movies and Star Wars all that much, most of their content is boring and irrelevant to me anyway. I also think this narrow focus on the biggest franchises is not compatible with the website’s supposed feminist ideals. Most of their resources go towards promoting multi-billion dollar corporations, instead of more obscure stories and creators that don’t get much attention from mainstream platforms. I have a similar problem with AnimeFeminist, who focus a lot on current moe anime available via Crunchyroll, and who have neglected to talk about a couple of manga that should be right up their ally as far as “feminism” is concerned … But anyway, that’s not a fair comparison because AniFem is just a bit disappointing, while TheMarySue is actually loathesome in their hypocrisy and disdain for their readership. The PR disaster surrounding the Geekosystem merger is a great example. For something more recent, try this article, an ad for an unpaid internship at TheMarySue. After commenters criticize the website for not paying their interns, the article is quietly edited to remove any mentioning of unpayment. Which is a bit dishonest already, but to top it all off, a TMS writer goes around the comments smugly telling everyone “Where does it say it’s unpaid?”, which is just incredible disrespectful and insulting and dishonest and so many adjectives more. Basically, this website has no credibility left. I don’t consider it a feminist website at all. I’m not saying that the individual writers and editors aren’t feminists; but the website itself, the way it is organized, financed and run, makes it a very bad platform for actual feminist thought.

I really hate that fandom has been taken over by all these shitty enterprises that try to cash in on pop culture hypes, usually exploiting young, aspiring writers who are naive enough to believe that writing clickbait listicles is going to count as “experience in journalism” and help their future career. A few months ago someone offered me the ~amazing opportunity to work for him for free and get “exposure” – in retrospect, I should have been much less polite. I genuinely hope that all of these websites fail and disappear. Remember: if someone is going to be making money with your work, you deserve to be paid for it; if your business model hinges on unpaid labour, your business deserves to go down.

Anyway … I wonder if E3 is going to bring any videogame news that is relevant to my interests. I hope so. I actually have this dream fantasy that Square Enix is going to reveal Final Fantasy XVI and it will be a “back to roots” kind of thing that melds traditional Final Fantasy traditions with a unique graphics style and more modern elements that feel fresh and unique. I really appreciate all the non-FF titles that Square Enix has produced lately, but deep down inside, I just want to get excited about a Final Fantasy game again. I want to listen to the main theme and get chills of anticipation, I want to save crystals, ride chocobos, stuff like that!

What else? I promise that the next Kenshin post is going to come soon. It’s just such a good part of the manga, I don’t want to half-ass my commentary! I am also deeply in love with Wave, Listen To Me. I wish I was one of those influential bloggers so I could convince people to read it! Alas, I’m not.

 

Videogame music analysis!? Be still, my heart.

Great news! I stumbled across a fairly new Youtube channel, Game Score Fanfare, which is dedicated to analysing music in videogames. Awesome! I’ve been waiting for a channel like that! There are only four videos so far, but among them are an analysis of “You’re Not Alone” from Final Fantasy IX and an analysis of the use of character themes in Bravely Default. (Both videos contain spoilers.)

Memories! Back when I had just finished FF9, I asked a friend about his own progress. He replied “I’m at the part with the really awesome music!”, and I knew exactly what he meant. Even though the soundtrack of Final Fantasy IX is generally excellent, You’re Not Alone somehow stands out as something very special.

As much as I love videogame music, and thinking and talking about videogame music, I am really noticing my own lack of education in this regard. :/ Recognising theme repetitions and instruments … It’s not that I am totally deaf to that stuff, but I am still capable of missing the obvious. It is probably a matter of training, but in the meantime, I enjoy listening to someone more knowledgable explain these things!

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)

When RPGs give you ethical choices …

… it is also your choice whether to accept them at all.

When I play RPGs, I like having the feeling that my actions and my own choices actually affect the story, and be it just in some small way. I’m totally fine with linear stories, but it’s always cool to be feel like you’re not just along for the right, but an active participant instead of a passive observer. I’ve noticed that even when the choice turns out to be an illusion, I still feel a little bit more involved in the game. It makes the experience more immersive for me, because it prompts me to really think about the characters and their world … Hmmm …

Then again, an abundance of pseudo-choices can have the opposite effect. In Golden Sun, I was constantly given the choice between saying Yes or saying No to questions and suggestions – but for the most part, giving the “wrong” answer just resulted in my opinion getting ignored or overruled by the other characters. Pfff! Stop asking me this stuff if you don’t care!

What actually prompted this post was an old-ish SiliconEra article about Bravely Second‘s sidequests, titled Bravely Second’s Job Options Overshadow Sidequests’ Difficult Decisions – the headline actually tells you the core argument of the article, which is really refreshing in this age of clickbait titles. Still, I disagree completely with the sentiment.

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2017: A personal geeky look ahead

Let’s just pretend 2016 is already over. What awaits us in the new year? Well, I actually mean: What awaits me in the new year? And I don’t mean any serious topic either, because that’s a whole other story … I mean hobby-wise. Fun-wise. I am a tiny little bit behind on videogames still, but my plan is to finish Dragon Quest 7 and I Am Setsuna over the holidays or at least before spring. I’ll also work on my Japanese, so nothing will stand in my way of … reading manga.

Dragon Quest XI

A lot of new information came out at Jump Festa today! The footage shown was from the PS4 version, though, and I must say that I’m not 100% sold on this one. There’s something about this particular mix of HD realism and Toriyama character design that doesn’t work for me. It reminds me of the opening video from Bravely Second – I just preferred the in-game character design, since it felt a lot warmer and  livelier. So I am tending towards the 3DS version right now. Also because, if I am entirely honest with myself, I’ve become a portable console gamer. I like playing in short sessions in bed, in-between tasks … I have simply unlearned how to sit in front of the TV playing a videogame for hours and hours. This is something I realized playing I Am Setsuna (which I still haven’t finished, go figure why). But at the same time, I WANT to play a JRPG on the big screen again, and I do kind of like the colourful, detailed world pf DQ11 from the trailers … Well, perhaps I just need to wait until they show footage from the Nintendo Switch version. Maybe this would be the best option for me. Ah, decisions.

Ever Oasis

I have not heard anything about this game since its first announcement, but I don’t need to. It’s on the 3DS, it’s cute, it has penguin owls and it is made by Koichi Ishii, hero of my teenagehood, creator of the game that got me into Japanese role-playing games in the first place (Secret of Mana).

Rurouni Kenshin: Hokkaido Hen

Yes, and then there is manga. I’ve been sporadically, at my own, slow pace and without any real pattern or rules or programme, brushing up on my Japanese, which was pitiful to begin with. I’ve decided that instead of trying to procure Jump SQ issues every month (difficult,  expensive, and let’s face it: Jump SQ is largely garbage), I’ll wait for the tankoubon. This will give me some months more to improve my Japanese skills! Of course, the only way to learn Japanese for my intended purpose, which is reading manga, is to actually read manga. So I’ll read manga. :) I just wanna have improved when I finally tackle Rurouni Kenshin, because I do want to understand it as much as possible. Kenshin was my first manga ever. Just like Secret of Mana was my first serious gaming experience. It’s funny that both Koichi Ishii and Rurouni Kenshin are going to return to me next year. I think that I should take this as a sign. This is going to be the year.