This article was supposed to be an ode to Skies of Arcadia, but I apparently cannot find my copy and my favourite used game store did not have one, so I decided that it would be the perfect time to start my second attempt of Super Paper Mario like I had been set to so long ago. It is no secret that I am a champion for Thousand Year Door, and I know for a fact that I did not give Super Paper Mario the chance it deserves, so I played a few hours the other night and am ready for my very early impressions. Hear that? I am ready!
Super Paper Mario: The Beginning
Er, Super Paper Mario does not have a subtitle, I was just trying to drive home the fact that I am only a few hours in. My impressions should be taken with that knowledge.
The last time I attempted to beat Super Paper Mario I had the same problem that I had when I first played Majora’s Mask in that I kept hoping for the game to be exactly like its predecessor. Neither game is of course – and nor should they be – and both are strong on their own terms, but a younger Ethos often just wanted more of the same. Silly young Ethos. Now, with my expectations in check, Super Paper Mario is a far more exciting experience already. I have Thousand Year Door for Thousand Year Door, so having a whole new style of Paper Mario to explore is stirring the feeling that it should have initially. I do not know if it will hold up, but right now, I cannot wait to keep playing.
As far as I can tell from only making it to the second chapter, the game actually seems to follow the same general gameplay and story pacing from Thousand Year Door. There is a central hub town to which Mario returns between each chapter (which, at least so far, is far less interesting than Rogueport) and which opens up more and more as Mario’s abilities increase, Mario picks up switchable pals with unique abilities as he continues to explore, and the game’s story focus jumps around between Mario, the villain, and princess Peach. I only have one ability so far, but it is already a great deal of fun to pick up enemies and interact with them in a new way. I really like the creative approach to the action RPG that Super Paper Mario takes, and turning experience points into the score encourages fighting and exploring. Although I find it a little odd that the reward for doing more advanced exploration is the game becoming easier. Wait, is that the joy of RPGs? I forget.
The writing appears to be in the same vein as all Paper Mario games. Overlong and not particularly great at the micro level, but because the writers are obviously having so much fun with the characters, it is worth reading. It gets better the more the player is invested, and writers enjoying themselves and allowing themselves to be silly is a breath of fresh air for the genre. The game is not as funny as it wants to be, but it is funnier than most games. Again, at least so far.
I might have more detailed impressions later, but for now I would like to know where the Pixls have been since this game. The game sold well on the Wii, so I am not sure why such great character designs have been lost from the Mario universe.
Final Fantasy X
I am continuing to push my way through my Final Fantasy X playthrough. It is only my third time reaching Beville on what will be, I think, just my second time completing the game. Wow, does the game ever suffer from poor localization and scene direction. I’m sorry, but “Yunie’s gonna die, you know?” will never have the emotional impact the game wants it to. I don’t even necessarily blame the developers, but the end product is the end product and Final Fantasy X suffers from a lot of what could generously be called growing pains. Because for all of the game’s valiant attempts to bring the series into the next technological generation (for which JRPGs are still not quite ready), it is also the herald for Final Fantasy XIII‘s awful tunnel and the genre’s bad voice acting in general.
This playthrough of the game for me has allowed me to appreciate parts of the game I never did before while confirming all that is shitty about it. The underlying story, character, and themes are stronger than I originally thought, but that is because the translation, scene direction, and general execution of these things are as tepid as ever. Delving into sacrifice, death’s presence on the human psyche, and the role of religion in humanity are all fascinating, but Final Fantasy X splashes around in the kiddie pool, only hinting at what these sort of themes could expose. The characters just do not react in interesting enough ways, they are too rigid, only present to play the one-dimensional role they were assigned.
For all this criticism, it is worth mentioning that this is my favourite time playing the game and I am glad I committed to finishing it. Like Final Fantasy XIII, the battle system makes it worth it (although XIII‘s system is better and X‘s surrounding game is better).
Oh yes, I suppose that the title of this Editorial Miscellany is “Departure”, so I should get around to what that means. Bringing some context to the reflective tone of my last editorial, I will be leaving Lusipurr.com in approximately a month’s time. I am launching a different sort of website that will be the host of my voice and I am also looking to concentrate on smaller game design. I love Lusipurr.com and all that I have contributed and gained from my time here, so this was not an easy decision to make.
However, it is also exciting, not just for me, but for a new era for Lusipurr.com. I have been the General Editor for some time and sometimes a changing of the guard can be a breath of fresh air. I will still be around in the comments, of course, but my dear LusiEthoses will have to lap up the last of my brand of Lusipurr.com editorials over the next month or so. So there that is.
How about everybody leaves their least favourite Ethos memory in the comments? Or maybe you would rather just talk about Super Paper Mario and Final Fantasy X. Either way, I will see you there!