Good afternoon my fine LusiDuscaeans. I am used to March being a month that everybody thinks is going to be warmer but ends up just being another February. However, up here in Toronto at least, it has actually been very pleasant. I tend to enjoy Winter, and I liked this one in particular, but there is something about the warmer weather that makes it feel like it is thawing out the fire in my soul.
Yes, my introductory paragraph was about the weather.
Onto video games.
Final Fantasy Type-0
I only played the intro mission while I waited for Episode Duscae to download, so it is hard to have a lot to say at the moment. I am looking forward to how the gameplay will develop and I am enjoying the way in which I have to be very active to play and that combat is not just button mashing. Maybe it is supposed to be difficult to harvest the souls (or whatever) from the dead bodies as a way to include difficulty and strategy, but I feel like there could be a better way to achieve that that does not include using the button that is essentially the regular attack button. Or maybe that is the point.
The opening cutscene was atrocious. So often in video game writing we are given grand sweeping premises and philosophies but very rarely is it realized that these things are meaningless just as statements. A world’s lore could be as rich and complicated as Middle-earth’s but it does not matter because, in fact, Lord of the Rings begins with “Concerning Hobbits”, a humble and playful chapter focusing on the most – seemingly – unremarkable corner of his incredibly detailed and intricate world. Tolkien knew better than to bash people over the head with the lore and philosophy of his epics and that every good story – no matter the scale – is personal.
Of course, I suppose that Type-0 tries to make it personal by taking ten minutes to show how one kid dies. But this scene is designed from the outside in in an attempt to manipulate people into feeling the pain of war. The death is drawn out and full of that subtle camera shaking that has become so popular, but everything that happens – from the dialogue to the camera work – rings false. And not in the “Japan is different from us, lol!” way that some people can use to dismiss different manerisms or approaches to character and story-telling. The dying kid tells his Chocobo that he always thought the Chocobo’s name was weird. This is supposed to create sympathy and bittersweet comic relief, but the attempt is transparent. The annoying part is that the conceit of the whole scene is not a bad idea, but it is clear that the writer(s) were not actually inside the scene when they wrote it. They were watching the scene in their minds and thinking about what would be most effective. Psst, what is most effective is honesty.
Anyway, enough of that.
Yeah, that Mario vs Donkey Kong game. I played a bit and it was fun. I like the more active and fast-paced approach to puzzle-solving. Caileigh picked it up much faster than I did, which was no surprise. It happened with Pushmo too.
The code feels rougher than I expected it to be, but it was a damn fun demo. I logged five and a half hours. Of course it is impossible to tell at this point if the promising stuff is going to implemented effectively or if the negative stuff is going to be addressed in development or reframed by the rest of the game. I do have to say that I loved the cave portion, the fact that I could visually judge encounters in the daytime before I engaged with them, or the fact that I could overwhelmed in battle if I was not careful. The flow of battle works pretty much how I expected it to, with frantic pushing of buttons taking a backseat to constantly judging the battle field and using my moveset and environment effectively. I am curious about how enemy and location variety will affect this.
I really am excited for the future of the JRPG in this console generation. I think the confusion about what the “Western” audience wants combined with the rapid growth of development teams is going to start to settle out and the big Japanese developers will start using their voice again instead of awkwardly trying to imitate a North American voice. Bring it on. What do you guys think?