Editorial Miscellany: The Other Side

This is a problem.
I still cannot play as Ruto or Zant.

After a week spent with the classics, I went the opposite direction this week and either played new games or games that were new to me. Although I suppose the original Dragon Quest was also new to me, but it matters not! We will leave the sorting of the facts to Mel, our local Fact Sorter and we will leave the random spewing of thoughts to me! The local Random Thought Spewer. Shall we?

Hyrule Warriors

What a strange game this is. Lusipurr has spoken about it on the podcast and my impressions are identical to his from what I can remember. The gameplay is fun enough (and is, I assume, standard Dynasty Warriors fare), and it is pretty satisfying to see combos play out as various Zelda characters, especially because the designs are surprisingly strong. Hyrule Warriors adopts a sort of amalgamation of styles for some of the characters, especially the ones who have multiple appearances in the Zelda series. Impa in particular looks like the Skyward Sword design mixed with the Ocarina of Time design presented in a Twilight Princess style.

The backend stuff is pretty fun too. It is ultimately shallow, but still satisfying to power up abilities and weapons to feel like killing all those monsters was doing something. Of course, it is not. It is just a loop of loot collecting and powering up to collect more loot, it is an old tale, but one that is fun enough if one is not expecting more.

No, where the game starts to stumble is the wet dream-style teenaged boy-ification of characters, voices, and cutscenes. Also, far worse, is the music. At times it is unlistenable, a double kick drum persisting relentlessly throughout a track that never, ever called for such a thing. It is impressive the way that the game is able to ruin Zelda music. Not that the series has the best music of all time, but typically the music is well-composed enough to be suitable at the very least, and Hyrule Warriors found a way to make a lot of it awful. And arranging the music to suit the Dynasty Warriors series is one thing, and so it arranging it to be more exciting, but there are ways to do that without butchering it.

It pays to play the long game.
Very satisfying battle system.

Persona 4

I figured it was finally time to give this series a proper shot. I had played a little bit of Persona 3 a few years ago and it never captured my attention, but I also do not remember giving it an honest effort so as an escape from Final Fantasy X HD I downloaded Persona 4 Golden onto my Vita and I have been pretty hooked since. It is a series that I absolutely would have loved in high school. Playing it as I approach 30, I find the writing to still fall short a lot of the time, but I am impressed with the themes that the game chooses to tackle and its dedication to slow character growth. I also love the concrete separation of a battle world and a social world as it places more weight on decisions and puts more pressure on accomplishing a lot while in the TV world.

Needing courage to admit, absorb, and eventually overcome the darkest parts of ourselves is a great thing to explore, but so far the game just seems to scratch the surface, starting with promising internal conflict, but not maintaining the same level of thoughtfullness afterward. But I am also not that far into the game (relatively speaking, I have played about twenty hours), and I would like to complete it to get a proper sense of if the games can properly or even competently maintain all the story, character, and theme threads that they have set loose.

Also, the music has grown on me as I have slowly come to get a better sense of the game. I am still not completely sold, however.

Especially considering that Olimar is nerfed.
With so many characters, I might have to find a new regular.

Smash Bros.

Man, I suck as Rosalina. Maybe I can turn it around on the Wii U. For now, I am just trying to get a basic sense of the characters and the way the game plays. I am surprised that the more I play the game, the more fun it seems to be. Playing the series on a handheld surely takes some getting used to, but I am settling into it more than I expected. I still would say that there is no real reason to buy the handheld version for people who consider the console version to be the main attraction, but it is certainly more fun than I expected.

On the other hand…

Considerably less fun than I expected was attempting to transfer my save data from Wii Fit Plus to Wii Fit U. I have no shame in stating that I use Wii Fit as it is a good way to maintain a mentality of fitness although it clearly should not be relied upon as the only source of health. It keeps me thinking about fitness and it keeps me accountable to my weight and goals, and seeing as I am no longer a teenaged metabolism machine, these are things I like to pay attention to. But despite Wii Fit being a flagship title of Nintendo’s casual arm, transferring save data to the Wii U was a nightmare. It turns out that there was a relatively easy way to do it, but it appears as though Nintendo did everything it could to obscure the process. It told us to go back to the main menu to look at the game manual, but the game manual can only be accessed if one is still in the game, then save data could not be transferred onto the Wii U’s virtual Wii unless the game had already been played once before and after we had “initialized” it, the system did not let us copy the data, only “move” it although it provided no information or warning regarding the process. Anyway, one wonders if it was worth the trouble, but we did not expect to hit snag after snag in what should have been a five minute process!

Final thoughts

Nah, that is it. Mel, what have you got for us?

15 comments

  1. “Also, far worse, is the music. At times it is unlistenable, a double kick drum persisting relentlessly throughout a track that never, ever called for such a thing”

    Yes. Absolutely.

    “Also, the music has grown on me as I have slowly come to get a better sense of the game. I am still not completely sold, however.”

    I feel only marginally better about this than I do about Hyrule Warriors. Also, the game is ugly. It reminds me of early PS2 games like Dark Cloud and Wild ARMs 3.

    “I still would say that there is no real reason to buy the handheld version for people who consider the console version to be the main attraction”

    Confirm. Just wait for Smash F U.

    “Considerably less fun than I expected was attempting to transfer my save data from Wii Fit Plus to Wii Fit U”

    SN and I were speaking about Wii Fit the other day. As a general rule, it’s much more healthful simply to have a balanced, low-fat diet, and a bit of reasonable exercise. I recommend a one-hour walk in the park each day whilst listening to an audiobook, a bit of an opera, or a couple of symphonies.

  2. Also, the game is ugly. It reminds me of early PS2 games like Dark Cloud and Wild ARMs 3.

    This is true. There are some stylistically strong moments and elements, but I was thinking the same thing while playing.

  3. @Ethos: I have genuinely found the PSP version of Persona to be more visually attractive. Those pixel-perfect sprites age beautifully.

  4. darkest parts of ourselves is a great thing to explore, but so far the game just seems to scratch the surface, starting with promising internal conflict, but not maintaining the same level of thoughtfullness afterward.

    What do you mean by this? There are some quite good ones, but each of the issues are dropped after their conclusion, as each internal conflict is essentially reconciled.

  5. Persona 4 is a game that has always been just out of reach for me. I actually picked it up along with several other JRPGs back in the late 00s. Unfortunately I left it on the shelf, in it’s original wrapping for over a year, and when I opened it, I found a huge crack running along the entire back length of the disc. No receipt anywhere. On the plus side, I had a lovely ost included in the package. At this point, I just don’t see myself devoting serious time to it, even if I should come by it. JRPGs, while my favorite genre, are a serious time sink.

  6. “when I opened it, I found a huge crack running along the entire back length of the disc”

    That is complete assbollocks. That said, I seem to recall a story around the game launch about this being something that lots of people experienced, and Atlus did a thing where people sent them broken discs and got replacements. Probably too late for that now, though.

    “JRPGs, while my favorite genre, are a serious time sink.”
    Few moreso than the Persona series, which are especially demanding–even for JRPGs.

  7. as each internal conflict is essentially reconciled.

    And I find that to be inconsistent with the theme. The dark sides of us that we find hard to accept isn’t just a one-time acceptance, it’s an on-going nonstop process. That’s why it’s strange for me that the reconciliation is the end of it when – I agree – some are quite strong. To me, it feels like it would be the beginning, not the end, of the conflict.

  8. I haven’t played Rosalina myself, I’ve only gotten my ever loving ass handed to me by people playing as her. She’s near impossible to approach if she does the right moves, on the ground or in the air it doesn’t matter. That said, I had the same problem with trying to control characters I’m generally good at on the 3DS. For instance I cannot get into Dr. Mario. Not with that fumbly circle pad. Chances are I’ll be right at home on the Wii U since he’s not terribly different from before.

    Also, it’s fun to beat up noobs as Little Mac. He’s probably the funnest character to play with with because he’ll two-stock someone in under a minute. That said, if your opponent knows what they’re doing, he’s dead in the water.

  9. And I find that to be inconsistent with the theme. The dark sides of us that we find hard to accept isn’t just a one-time acceptance, it’s an on-going nonstop process. That’s why it’s strange for me that the reconciliation is the end of it when – I agree – some are quite strong. To me, it feels like it would be the beginning, not the end, of the conflict.

    Once they learn to accept the negative aspects to their natures they are then able to integrate them into their personalities, and thus they cease to be a problem. The Persona games have always had pretensions to philosophy, so what I imagine they are going for is that each instance represents a conflict between the Id and the Super Ego, where the Super Ego is way out of balance, and is stifling their base urges. Once the character is able to face both sides of themselves the two drives are once again in balance, and their Ego [Persona] is able to regulate the two. If you look at the character’s newly formed Persona then you can see that it [usually] features stylistic elements in common with the boss you just fought.

  10. I am aware that that is the basis, but that’s why I’m disappointed by how it’s handled. I don’t really buy that they should cease to be a problem. Maybe those specific conflicts to some extent, but I feel that by digging into that sort of theme, it rings false that it would externalize a (usually) interesting internal conflict but then continue on as if looking inward and accepting one’s specific faults regarding one conflict once was all that was needed. Ultimately I suppose I’m disappointed that the philosophical dip is so shallow when it shows promise.

  11. @Lusi – I agree that diet and exercise are the best paths to health, and I continue to try and improve those areas. I like Wii Fit because it’s something that can regulate and track my progress and keep me accountable as a supplement. It’s certainly not a requirement, but it’s a good fit for me right now in addition to my attempts to eat better, a weekly squash game, and all the brisk walking I already do.

  12. I am aware that that is the basis, but that’s why I’m disappointed by how it’s handled. I don’t really buy that they should cease to be a problem.

    I can’t really agree with this. None of the issues that the characters confront really need to be problems at all if identified for what they are and viewed in the proper context. Once these issues are dealt with and reconciled I don’t see why they would pose a continuing problem.

  13. Perhaps I’m explaining it poorly. I agree that those specific conflicts can be reasonably reconciled (although I still feel it would take more than simply admitting that the shadow self is a part of them. Admitting there’s a problem is only the first step after all), but I don’t feel like the reconciliation of one specific conflict means that there would no longer be dualities within the characters. I’m disappointed because of the fact that the game recognizes these sorts of conflicts with occasional sharpness, but then doesn’t treat the concept with the sort of continuing deftness that I felt was possible in the start of the game. I’m still enjoying it and I still like the concept, I just feel like it’s the kiddie pool version.

  14. Ethan, it sounds as though you are looking for something very specific, which the game, through no fault of its own, fails to provide.

  15. Perhaps. To me it feels like it would be a natural exploration and progression of the presented themes and characters. To me it feels like they hit stage two in the conceptual process, said “wow, this is cool!” and stopped there.

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