May 31, 2012

I Hraet You (10)

Beat 10: A Shame There’s No Moon Tonight

Lloyd blinked for what felt like the first time in an hour.  While he thanked Aphrodite that Trixie hadn’t tried to attack him, he still didn’t find any solace in her bleak stare.  He wasn’t getting anywhere, just sitting by the door like a guard dog; he’d have to take a chance.  “Are these accommodations enough for you, Miss Walters?” he asked.  He waved a hand in front of his face.  “My apologies if my room isn’t quite up to your standards of décor; had I known I’d be playing the host tonight, I would have furnished it far more suitably.”

“Yer room ain’t the problem, pal,” said Trixie, glaring at Lloyd from the bed with sheets clenched tight. 

“Oh?  Then what is?”

“Ya been starin’ at me for the past hour.  How am I supposed to get to sleep if I gotta keep an eye on you all night long?”

“You could sleep with your eyes open.”

May 30, 2012

Kingdom Hearts: The World That Never Was (Good)

All right.  Let’s talk about Kingdom Hearts 2 some more.

The last level of the game, The World That Never Was, is…well, fairly interesting in its own right.  KH, for the most part, is a decidedly low-tech universe.  Judging by the way Sora bashes on the keyboard leading to Tron’s world, he’s never seen something like it in his life.  True, you’ll see gizmos and machines in places like Traverse Town and Twilight Town, but considering that Sora heads to ancient Greece, war-torn China, Agrabah, Neverland, and the friggin’ ocean, you can’t expect him to check his email or charge his mp3 player.

So in terms of aesthetics, I kind of like The World That Never Was.  It creates this “magic vs. technology” dichotomy (which I wish was played up and used more effectively in the game, but I digress), that separates the good guys from the bad guys, and the natural from the unnatural.  Tangentially, I also like the Nobodies; they’re shifting, boneless creatures that operate on a higher level than the Heartless, but are so alien in practice and design that they might as well be brainless.  So generally, KH2 has a lot of good ideas -- building blocks to use and arrange at the developers’ discretion.

A shame that Squeenix couldn’t be arsed to do anything with them.  So, let’s go right down the list.  That’s right, it’s time for a countdown showdown.  These are 10 Head-Scratching Events in the Final Level of Kingdom Hearts 2. 

Take it away, Ansem!

May 28, 2012

Kingdom Hearts…But First, Advent Children

Before we get started, I’d like to make a correction and apology.

Posted on May 24, 2012:

Kingdom Hearts 2 is not an awful game by any stretch.  It’s just full of things that make it hover dangerously close to the edge.  Roxas and his pain-inducing prologue, the disorganized Organization XIII, the shift from the east/west hybridization to cookie-cutter anime fare, the segregated plot, the still-piddling minigames, the absurd gameplay decisions, the unevenness of Reaction Commands, the mash-happy nature, the handling of the worlds…there’s a lot to discuss, and I will in due time.  But for everything the game does wrong, there are just a number of things that it does so right.”

In retrospect, that’s not fair to anime.  As you can guess, I hold anime in high esteem -- it has plenty of amazing elements, its fair share of faults, and stories ranging from magical to mediocre.  To knock something just because it has anime and manga influences is utterly wrong; I used to rag on the Teen Titans cartoon before it came out because it tried to copy anime, and yet by series’ end it became one of my favorite shows.  To even insinuate that anything with certain tropes, styles, and mannerisms is automatically bad because of it is something that I would like to avoid -- hence, my correction.

What I should have said is this:

It’s just full of things that make it hover dangerously close to the edge…the disorganized Organization XIII, the shift from the east/west hybridization to Advent Children-style schlock…”

There we go.  That about sums things up -- and makes the final hours of Kingdom Hearts 2 so genuinely painful.

May 27, 2012

How to Make a Good Street Fighter Movie

I fancy myself as a writer, but it’s not often that I dream about any of my stories, or anything I could possibly write about.  (Unless I just wrote about my gruesome, humiliating deaths, but that’d get boring after a while.)  But one night, I had a flash of insight.  I could see something that could propel me to the highest echelon of the literary world.

And then I woke up, and forgot about it.  And when I slept again, I started dreaming about Street Fighter.

I Hraet You (9)

Beat 9: Planning Ahead is for Yellowbellies

“What the hell just happened?!”
Trixie ripped her hand from Lloyd’s grasp and clutched it close to her body.  “Seriously, are ya some kinda sorcerer or somethin’?” she demanded, stepping backward as if he’d turned into some horrid man-spider.
Lloyd shook his head, and left his hand hovering in the air.  “Last I checked I wasn’t.”  He stroked his chin and turned aside.  “Though it IS possible that, since the accident, I’ve become an esper.”
 “Would ya stop sayin’ weird stuff for one second and explain what’s going on?”
“Right.  I suppose I should give you a quick rundown,” said Lloyd as he shuffled a foot through the water. 

“Well, this is just conjecture for now, but I’m assuming that thanks to my ability I entered your subconscious and positively affected your innermost thoughts and desires, thereby allowing you to know real happiness and actively move toward pursuing your dream, no matter what obstacle you need to surmount.”  He sniffled a bit.  “Hmmm.  I think there’s still a little sea water in my lungs.”

May 26, 2012

I Hraet You...and the wonders of Microsoft Paint.

Mini-post for now; more content coming soon.  For the moment, here's something I thought I'd show off.

It's everyone's favorite over-the-top love freak, Lloyd B. Hoigleheimer...made with Paint and PowerPoint!  They (by which I mean my brother) say that Photoshop is just a thousand-dollar version of Paint, and given what I can do with Microsoft Office pack-ins and a little more than an hour, I'm inclined to agree.

More of these to follow.  I've heard that people don't like reading massive blocks of text on the internet, even if you're writing a web serial.  So I thought I'd try making some eye catches to give readers a slight reprieve.  I don't know if the text/narrative will allow me to make breaks like this all the time, but for now I'll keep stockpiling these and posting them around.  This one'll probably head up the archive page.

So yeah.  Pardon my crude art and attempt to prove what a pretty little snowflake I am.

May 25, 2012

I Hraet You (8)

Beat 8: Shine On, You Crazy Surfer

Lloyd slammed his palms against the desk.  “You’re on the run from the authorities, aren’t you?”

Trixie couldn’t say a word in objection -- but her body said more than enough.  Her reeling posture; her reddened face; her legs, once so straight and proud, now buckling under her weight; her hands, held up like those of a prisoner caught in a searchlight.   

“Now I can see your heart,” said Lloyd with a quick nod.  “I was wondering why you were a bit restrained in talking about your heritage; call it a misconception if you will, but I would have guessed that a southerner like you would have been eager to describe your hometown.  It can only mean that, for one reason or another, you’re unwilling to go back -- especially due to the consequences you stand to face.  Am I wrong?”

“Y-ya couldn’t be more wrong!” Trixie yelled.  “What, are ya tryin’ to say I’m some kinda criminal?  Huh?  Are ya?  ‘Cause I’m not!”

I Hraet You…and other stuff.


This is going to be a quick housekeeping announcement, so bear with me.

I’ve been working on I Hraet You for a while now, and I’m reaching a good tempo on that front.  I’ve got a clear idea of where I want to take the story (hint: it involves Power Bombs), and I’m steadily moving toward the ending.  Granted the stuff I post here on Cross-Up is more than a little rough around the edges, so it’s likely that eventually I’m going to have to go through and edit each post.  Hopefully it won’t be anything TOO excessive; I don’t plan on changing any story details right now, like I have with projects in the past.

The bigger question is what the release schedule for IHY is going to be.  A part of me wants to take the safe route and put something out once a week…but the daredevil in me wants to just post whenever there’s new content.  Also, I want to be able to put out other, possibly better projects very soon -- a “meatier” product, if you will.  Whether or not that’ll come to fruition depends on what I do with IHY

So until further notice, I Hraet You is on a two-chapter-per-week schedule -- one chapter in the first half of the week, and one chapter in the second half.  We’ll see how long that lasts.  It all depends on whether I head out of town next month, or how lazy I get, or what games are out. 

Speaking of games, I finished Kingdom Hearts 2 last night, and…man oh man, have I got a lot to say about that.  So while the…events… are still fresh on my mind, I think I’m going to do a post pretty soon about the game’s last world.  There is a lot I need to discuss.  A whole lot.

So that’s about where I stand. If you’re reading IHY of your own volition (and didn’t just find this site because you were looking for a picture of one of the Dead or Alive ladies), then I thank you for it.  Readers like you make the world go round.  Because…you read and stuff…and your page-flipping, uh, makes the world rotate faster.

…I’m really bad at science.

May 24, 2012

The Final Mix: A Kingdom Hearts Retrospective (Part 3)

I’m almost done with Kingdom Hearts 2…again.

To say that I have mixed feelings about the game would be an understatement the size of a double-decker bus.  Keeping in mind that I was one of the wide-eyed fans getting mega-hyped about its arrival (probably because I was a part of THE target audience), I have to wonder what state of mind drove me to get so excited.  Was it because of the flashy attacks?  Bashing enemies with pure style?  Going boosh-boosh-boosh and doing flip-de-loops?  If that’s the case, then anyone who needed evidence for their thesis on “How Teenagers Are All Idiots”, I’d make for some fine proof.

Kingdom Hearts 2 is not an awful game by any stretch.  It’s just full of things that make it hover dangerously close to the edge.  Roxas and his pain-inducing prologue, the disorganized Organization XIII, the shift from the east/west hybridization to cookie-cutter anime fare, the segregated plot, the still-piddling minigames, the absurd gameplay decisions, the unevenness of Reaction Commands, the mash-happy nature, the handling of the worlds…there’s a lot to discuss, and I will in due time.  But for everything the game does wrong, there are just a number of things that it does so right.

The same, of course, could be said for Kingdom Hearts 1.  Frankly, I find it funny that a game could be so flawed, yet so fantastic at the same time.

(There’s your alliteration for the day.)

May 23, 2012

Why Anime is Amazing: The Revengeance

Stop what you're doing and watch this video.

This...THIS is art.

Sonic the Hedgehog: Forever Tails

I missed out on the NES generation of gaming.  If you asked me about World 4-2 of Super Mario Bros. or the sixth dungeon in The Legend of Zelda, I’d probably just stare blankly at you for a little while before letting fly an enlightened “…Guh?”  The NES was just barely before my time, I think -- and that was a problem only exaggerated one Christmas morning.

I woke up to have a huge box waiting for me under a tree sitting at the bottom of the staircase.  And after faffing about for a bit, rocking to and fro in the fetal position with a Joker-sized grin on my face while I waited for my parents to wake up and we could do that whole “celebrate Christmas as a family” business, I tore off the wrapping like a wolverine.  And what should I find but a Sega Genesis, bundled with a copy of Sonic the Hedgehog 2

May 22, 2012

I Hraet You (7)

Beat 7: You Know What They Say About What Comes With Great Power, Right?

Lloyd smiled.  It would seem that I have returned.
He sat in the director’s chair once more, albeit with a much more confident posture than last time.  He had no reason to worry or fear this time around; even as the colorless world encased him, he felt as if he’d entered his own personal command center rather than an altered plane.  He slid his glasses up his face with one finger, his smirk reaching critical levels of smugness; yes, this WAS his command center, the launching point of his operations.  He would own it.  Use it.  Have it serve as the foundation to his empire of breasts.
It’s finally that time.  Now, show yourself once more, Miss Walters!  Appear before me, and feel the power of my heart!
Lloyd held out a hand, as if to invite Trixie onto the ballroom floor.  Sure enough, his lady of the evening stepped onto the stage, script in hand.  “Miss Walters!  It’s a pleasure to see you once more,” he practically sang.  “Now then, I’m looking forward to a good showing from you.  Let’s get to work, shall we?”
But Trixie merely stood there, cocking her head like a puppy.  “Uh…sorry, but…have we met?”
And with those words Lloyd’s smugness levels hit record lows. 

May 21, 2012

E3 2012: So What Now?

Did you know that I like video games? 

Yep.  I’ve been following them closely since my indoctrination via the Sega Genesis.  I’m certainly older (and marginally wiser) than I was back then, so it’s hard to say whether my admiration of the hobby will last until my final moments on my death bed.  If I am still a gamer, I’d like to think I’d tell my family to screw off while I tried to unlock the final bonus stage in Elite Beat Agents…which would beg the question of why I’d be carrying decades-old technology, but whatever.  I’d be a wizened old man at 46, tranquilly accepting my end and proud to know I beat Sin and Punishment 2, if nothing else.

And in less than a month, the event that any gamer worth his arcade stick knows about will be upon us.  The Electronic Entertainment Expo, better known as E3.  It’s a moment of celebration and wide-eyed anticipation for gamers everywhere; developers set up booths that sprawl as far and wide as the average house.  Notables from the industry assemble en masse, bringing with them no shortage of celebrities.  Technology and games that can potentially change the world are showcased with reckless abandon, all for the sake of ensuring the loyalty of fans already hanging off the word of every presentation, and staving off the need for food, water, blinking, and attention to family members for the sake of experiencing the action.

E3 is almost upon us again.  And I look forward to it with equal parts excitement and fear.

May 19, 2012

I Hraet You (6)

Beat 6: Is He a Genius, or an Idiot?  (You Should Bet on the Latter)

Whew.  It looks like I finally made it, Lloyd thought.  He pressed his hands against his knees and took a few deep breaths.  I should definitely start doing more cardio.  Running from women on a regular basis doesn’t provide nearly as much exercise as I thought it would.  As he regained his breath, he stood upright once more, and stared ahead.  Now then.  Let’s see if my guess was correct.
As if he’d refused to learn from last time -- or just wanted to try his luck against the bleak laws of causality -- Lloyd stood across the street from High Tide Park.  But to his surprise, the coastal world he’d come to love had changed so quickly.  The boardwalk went beyond just being empty; yellow tape stretched from one end of its entrance to another, and orange-striped barricades stood sentry just a foot before it.  Construction workers and suited men alike rambled on before it, pointing at the now-motionless rides within.  A trio of heavy machines, dirt-caked and big-wheeled, looked primed to tear through anything in their way, like the toys of some titanic toddler.  As Lloyd looked inward, he spotted the wreckage at the broken edge of the park -- warped metal and snapped planks, melding into a mess of salt-splashed petals.  On the plus side, the beach on the park’s left had more visitors than it had in months; onlookers gathered and pointed at the mess, taking pictures all the while.
“Wh-what on earth?”  Lloyd -- in spite of just returning from the hospital -- stomped across the street, and glared furiously at the first construction worker within slapping distance.  “Now see here, sir!  What’s the meaning of closing down a fine establishment such as this?”
The construction worker -- with a half-foot and at least eighty pounds on Lloyd -- turned towards him.  “Park’s comin’ down,” he answered, shifting his hard hat a bit.  “Cryin’ shame, but it can’t be helped.”

Some Soundcloud Patronage

My big brother's something of an artist (or "arteest" if you prefer).  He majored in graphic design, but he's been branching out recently; he's made a couple of nice songs that you can download here for free.

Like, right here.  Here, nestled between these words like a lusty lover, beckoning for some midnight bliss.

Suggestive imagery aside, go nab 'em.  It'll make him happier than the time he found out about a Kolache Festival in the depths of Texas. Seriously, he loves those things; don't put a box of them in front of him if you don't want him to eat himself sick.

...Huh.  I guess a love of meat in between bread runs in the family.

May 17, 2012

Kingdom Hearts: Much Ado About Roxas

I finished Kingdom Hearts 1 a few days ago with something very near a smile on my face. 

I acknowledge that it’s not the greatest game ever.  It has its fair number of faults, in its story and especially in its gameplay (which I’ll get to soon, as part of the retrospective).  Its worlds can inspire either wonder or an overwhelming desire to find the nearest steel wall to bash your head against.  But for what it’s worth, KH1 has aged surprisingly well -- much better than I would have expected.  So when I saw that final scene, with Sora, Donald and Goofy chasing after Pluto down a sunny road with smiles on their faces, I thought to myself, Yeah.  Yeah, this is all right.

KH1 has its flaws.  But it’s the ability of a good game -- no, a good story -- to leave you eager to praise it in spite of its faults.  It’s something along the lines of its net worth; add the positives and negatives together, and if you come out positive in the end, you’ve made a profit in enjoyment.  And overall, KH1 made a huge profit in my book.

So yeah.  I was feeling pretty good about the game.  But at the same time, there was a great sense of dread knotting up in my stomach.  I knew that I had to be fair and impartial.  I knew that if I gave one game a chance, I’d have to do the same for another.

And so, not five minutes after finishing KH1, I reset the PS2, took out the disk, and slid the next trial into the tray.

Kingdom Hearts 2, I thought, swallowing hard.  How bad could it be?

May 15, 2012

I Hraet You (5)

Beat 5: No Such Thing as Consequences

“So where are we on the whole steak thing?” Patton asked.  “’Cause I’m all for it, if we’re voting on it.”
JP shook his head and continued staring out the van’s window.  “It takes both me and Lloyd to get through just half of one of your steaks,” he said, watching as the sunset-soaked stores of Mason Street whizzed by.  “It’s wasted effort -- and wasted money.  All the food ends up going in your belly.”
“It’s not a waste if someone gets to eat,” Patton argued.  “Besides, how will you and your brother grow up big and strong if you don’t get some meat in your systems?  Don’t tell me you’re going to count on --” He snorted out a laugh.  “Artichokes.”
“I’ve never had one.  And I hope I never do.”
“Then you’d better eat!  Eat some meat!”

May 14, 2012

Super Blog Post 100th Post Gag Post Happy Fun Trailer Time

…This is the worst thing that I’ve ever created and you should not watch it and I’m sorry for making it and you should definitely not click the jump. 

Click the jump to see more!

May 11, 2012

Look! The East is Burning Red!

*leaning against a wall, with hands in pockets*

A blog hop, huh?  That’s the first I’ve heard of it, but I’ll give it a shot.  Now then, let’s see…if my guess is right, then all I have to do is…yep, that should work.

*rotates neck*

*steps away from wall, takes hands out of pockets, and raises a fist*

This ability to self-promote, allowing a no-name writer and his reputation to keep on spreading… I’m positive.  This idea has acquired abilities of TV Tropes…with the help of CHIHUAHUA ZEROOOOOOOOOOOOO!

*bursts into a storm of lightning*

This blog of mine glows with an awesome POWER!  Its burning code tells me to entertain you!  Take this!  My words, my gags, and all of my pageviews!  SHINING CROSS-UP POOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOST!  


*stabs the internet in the eye, causing terminal combustion*

May 10, 2012

The Avengers (Starring Robin Sparkles)

I popped out of my room this past Tuesday morning to tell my mom that I was going with my brother to see a movie.  “Oh?” she asked, stepping into the laundry room.  “What movie?”

The Avengers,” I answered.  Just saying it made me want to smile.

She turned to look at me.  “The Avengers?” she asked, almost teasingly so.  “Don’t you want to see that movie Think like a Man?  Why don’t you go see that instead?”

Now, let me be perfectly frank here.  I hold my parents in extremely high esteem; I never went through those “rebellious teenage years” because my parents were unduly good to me.  My mom took good care of me and my brother (the former being a broccoli-haired nutcase, and the latter being a slacker making a nine in Algebra II).  My dad worked long, hard hours at his job -- even if it meant going on extended trips -- just so we could have a stable, comfortable household.   I’d sooner rob a bank than speak ill of them.

And yet, when my mom suggested that I go see a movie besides The Avengers, I almost laughed in her face.

I knew instinctively that The Avengers wasn’t a movie.  It was to be an event -- from its May 4th release until its inevitable bowing out of theaters, it was a holiday.  A celebration that brought together movie goers, comic fans, nerds, critics both armchair and professional, and people just plain hungry for a good story.  I swore to myself that I wouldn’t miss it.  Just as I didn’t want to get locked out of the loop by passing on The Hunger Games, so too did I want nothing more than to be a part of the superhero festival.

But there’s a key difference between The Hunger Games and The Avengers.  Namely, in that The Avengers surpassed even my earlier definition.  It has surpassed being just a mere event.

The Avengers is The Avengers -- a production that, with its merits alone, has created a fantastic niche for itself.  It is pure enjoyment personified.


I Hraet You (4)

Beat 4: Best.  Family.  Ever?

The sun slid past Porbeagle’s horizon, and made its daily trek into the sky.  As light swept over the coastal town, its denizens began their morning routine.  Birds -- seagulls among them -- chirped and cawed, and started their search for morning meals.  The shadows that once ruled the town’s short buildings sank into the cracks, allowing each weathered brick to take in the rays and the heat.  Cars started heading out for work, going from the tops of sloped hills to the stores at the bottom; at least half of them broke off and headed for the ports, or the docks, or wherever they’d left their boats.  If they could see the sparkling sea, then they had no reason to avoid a good day’s work.
Porbeagle’s regular, everyday activity -- all of it, in tempo with the waves splashing against its coast -- had grown into a part of the town.  A natural alarm clock, of sorts; in spite of its small size (or maybe because of it), the launching of its fleet and the motion of its people lent the town its character.  Plenty of people woke up with a smile thanks to the sea-heavy symphony.
But not Lloyd.  Not today, at least.  He woke up because apparently, someone had decided to clamp his hands in a vise.

May 9, 2012

The Final Mix: A Kingdom Hearts Retrospective (Part 2)

(Part 1 is posted here.)

I’m almost done with Kingdom Hearts 1…again.

I would be finishing it up right about now if I hadn’t quit early to watch How I Met Your Mother -- which, to my surprise, wouldn’t even be on this week in exchange for everything else on CBS Mondays.  Blast.  Such a miserable fate…but oh well.  Here I am, writing a bit on that whole retrospective thing.  Kinda weird, since I know by the time I finish this segment I WILL have re-finished the game (and it probably won’t be primetime Monday anymore), but that’s how it goes.

I’m on the last level -- the last savepoint before facing off with the baddie with a darkness fetish, Ansem.  Once I walk through it, I’ll be facing off with him and all the power at his command.  Will I survive the Expert playthrough?  Will Donald and Goofy use up all my items?  Will my X button survive another round of boss-bashing?

In order, probably, definitely, and only if I forget how to properly apply pressure to my controller.  Anyway, let’s get on with the retrospective.  Ready, set, dive.

May 8, 2012

You should probably go see The Avengers.



It's a pretty good movie, is what I'm getting at here.  As I did with The Hunger Games, I'll post a write-up over the next couple of days (same applies for Part 2 of my Kingdom Hearts retrospective).  But until those are ready, I'll offer a little preamble as to why The Avengers is so amazing.

What element might that be?  Care to take this one, gents?

May 6, 2012

I Hraet You (3)

Beat 3: Let’s Make a Star Out of You!

Lloyd blinked rapidly.  “Well, this is new.”
Once more, he’d ended up in some new territory.  Maybe he’d hit his head harder than he thought; last he checked, he wore a hospital gown, not his regular clothes.  And last he checked the world had other colors besides black and white.
He clutched his head.  He never knew he’d see the world in black and white so literally; not a single shade of gray stood before him.  It looked as if everything around him had been outlined on blank paper.  And more to the point, those black lines wobbled like the goo of a lava lamp.
So where was he exactly?  He couldn’t say he’d ever been to a place made of lines, but he could at least make out the area’s purpose.  He sat in a director’s chair behind a long desk; a stage lay several feet before him, with colorless curtains hanging on its left and right.  Wires trailed from Lloyd’s side of the room onto and past the stage, allowing each light to -- theoretically -- shine on.  Tall studio lamps stood behind him, balancing on needle-thin tripods; dozens of spotlights hung from the rails above, as well.  A white screen had been propped up in the stage’s center, and far behind it Lloyd spotted a few props -- chairs and cameras, planks and paint cans, even the occasional boulder and tree.
Lloyd stroked his chin, more amused than afraid.  If I didn’t know any better, I’d say this stage was going to be used for an audition.  But that would be silly.  He pressed a hand against the table, hoping that he could push right through to its underside.  Rats.  For a second, I thought I was a ghost.

A 10-Hit Combo of Factoids Regarding Voltech

I’ve been seeing a lot of these “10 Things You Didn’t Know About X” recently, and -- as is the usual standard -- I figured I’d give it a shot when the movement is at the fringes of relevance, and people have geared up to take the next societal plunge.  It’s probably the reason why my cell phone is always two generations behind everyone else’s…but I digress.

Let’s not waste any time with these pleasantries, shall we?  Much like most of you, I’m on a tight schedule; I’m due for a hot dog luncheon at five.  Although, incidentally…

May 4, 2012

The Final Mix: A Kingdom Hearts Retrospective

As you may know, Birth by Sleep left me hollow and miserable.  The perceived taint of the original’s whimsy and charm.  The waning influence and importance of the Disney universes in favor of the typical Squeenix fare -- angst and convolution.  Everything related to Terra.  I’m still holding out on Aqua’s story being the best of the three, but I’m seriously worried; I’m afraid that my hopes will be dashed mere minutes into the first video.

I’m willing to accept that KH3D (sorry, but I’m never calling it Dream Drop Distance) might be the game that restores my faith, but I have a niggling voice that says that those days are over.  I had my fun with Kingdom Hearts, but the franchise as I knew it has changed.  Whether or not Tetsuya Nomura and his cohorts had a plan for the series to transform into its current, monstrous incarnation or not doesn’t matter; Kingdom Hearts was destined to change independent of whatever preferences or opinions fans might have had.  In the eyes of some, it’s a change for the better -- a chance to see Disney worlds go into the realm of over-the-top action, and go up against villains that aren’t quite so colorful and cartoony.  To others, it’s just a slide into mediocrity, taking gamers to places they’ve already seen before rather than dwell in the flawed, yet still-satisfying world created at the franchise’s outset. 

The adult in me is willing to nod and accept that, and learn to appreciate the series’ changes as they come as well as latch onto the games that suit me.

The child in me, however, says “Fuck your Roxas!  Gimme some KH1!”  So I popped my copy of the game into my PS2, started a playthrough, and let it rip.

And it was good.

May 2, 2012

The Beast.

(The following is a piece written by my good buddy -- and fellow writing heroine -- Cadi Jamison.  I'd wager that one of us is going to make the world a better place soon...and since she's got a head-start, I'd argue you should put your money on her.

Read on and enjoy.  It's different in tone from the stuff I usually put on Cross-Up, but I wouldn't post it if I didn't think it needed to be read.)


It was one of those places that she didn't expect to find herself in, but one of those days that she hardly thought that mattered. Because when they went around the circle introducing themselves in the warmth of that tiny little house, she noticed, they seemed eager to hear her speak, too. Even if she was a little bit faded. It was almost like, in the low light, she could pass for a person. So. She passed. Clutched her invisible necklace and smiled and, instead of saying who she was said, "Well I think that today was beautiful because the stars came out last night." 

And it was enough. And, then. He got there. And froze time for everyone but her. Him. Them. 

"You," he said. His voice sounded like chills on the back of her neck. 

She didn't move at first. But she did speak -- with her eyes. 

"I know who you are," she said. But didn't tell him. 

"Well, I know who you are," he said. But didn't tell her she was a ghost. 

And she said, "Well, okay." 

May 1, 2012

I Hraet You (2)

Beat 2: Oh Wait, He's Still Alive

Well, that hurt like hell. 

Which is to say, it STILL hurts like hell.  But at the very least, I’m alive…no thanks to that Ferris wheel.  I never would have guessed that you, of all park rides, would betray me.  But maybe that was all a part of your plan -- to cast suspicion on your friend, the teacup ride, only to attack when I least expected it.

With that golden theory out of the way, Lloyd looked around.  It didn’t do much good; miles of darkness stretched out before him, no matter which direction he looked in.  Come to think of it, he couldn’t even feel his neck twisting, or his eyes swerving.  Curious, he tried holding his hands before his face -- but nothing appeared.  Were they even there?  Or had his brain been jettisoned into the void?  No, that couldn’t be it; he couldn’t imagine the mess he’d make if his gray matter hovered about.