Let's discuss Avengers: Infinity War -- a movie BOUND to make you feel so good!

August 31, 2012

Doin' the Liebster Dance

You know, now that I think about it, doesn’t “Liebster” sound pretty close to “lobster”?  I wonder if this is all a cross-promotional gambit sparked by Red Lobster in a bid for universal governance by way of its mind-altering seafood platters?

…So did you know I’ve won an award?

August 30, 2012

I Hraet You (33)

Beat 33: Legitimacy and Tonal Shifts

Trixie stared at Lloyd with wide eyes for a moment, and then pointed a shaky finger at him.  “Did ya…uh, did ya just get ten times more competent and serious?”

Lloyd nodded slowly.  “You would have me act a fool if it meant a person’s life was on the line?”

“Well, no, but…yer kinda scarin’ me, pal.  What’s with that look on yer face all o’ a sudden?  And what about you sayin’ you’ll ‘never fail someone again’?”

Lloyd opened his mouth to speak -- but before he could, Trixie held up a hand.  “N-nah, forget I said anythin’.  It ain’t my place to go pryin’ in all yer affairs, ya know?  I mean, I still barely know ya.  And I ain’t about to make ya say somethin’ ya don’t wanna.”

August 29, 2012

Manly Songs: Go the Distance

You know, they say the first step is always the hardest.

It’s hard to change.  It’s hard to get out of a rut.  It’s hard to do anything in the face of difficulty, or convention, or reason, or even in light of one’s own mind.  Hard, but not impossible; as you know, the right song can make all the difference.

So it was that I decided to take the first post of Cross-Up’s brand spankin’ new Manly Song Repository.  It’s a side project that’ll likely bring with it plenty of unforeseen problems, but it’s one that I’m willing to undertake if it means building manly bonds between us all -- and of course, creating THE MANLIEST PLAYLIST IN THE UNIVERSE .  The problem was that I needed the right song to start things off.  I needed a song that said, “Hey!  This is what being a man is all about!”

It would have been too easy to post a song from Gamma Ray or Stratovarius or Hammerfall, or any number of metal bands (though I will eventually).  It would have been too easy to post a guitar-heavy track from an RPG (though I will).  It would have been too easy to dip into any one of Daisuke Ishiwatari’s shredding masterpieces (though I will).  I needed something unexpected.  Something that would raise eyebrows.  Something…godly.

And I think I might have found it.

August 27, 2012

I Hraet You (32)

Beat 32: Confidence Issues!  What a Feeling!

For a moment, Lloyd thought about finding a good place to hide; somehow, peering into the personal life -- or the van, for that matter -- of his ex-teacher made him feel like a voyeur.  But he didn’t have a single hidey-hole to duck into.  The most he could manage was to try and disappear behind one of the bars of the parking lot’s fence -- and unfortunately, he’d eaten a thousand meals too many to have the figure needed.

So he just stood there, agape, and stared at Lien-Hua.  And for the longest time, he feared she stared right back.

Oh dear -- if she spots me, I could soon be on the receiving end of a thrashing, Lloyd thought, reeling a bit.  But after a minute of silence (and raising his guard as if a bear approached him), he leaned forward, practically pressing his face into the fence and adjusting his glasses.  Nothing?  Odd.  I’m in her field of vision.  Is she dead-set on ignoring me?  Or perhaps she has poor observation skills?

August 26, 2012

Introducing…The Manly Song Repository!

Did you know that I like music?

Well, under the circumstances, who doesn’t?  The only ones who don’t -- to my knowledge -- are Dr. Robotnik from The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog and that one evil maestro dictator guy from long-defunct animated series Oscar’s Orchestra (which I remember mostly because it starred a talking piano and had an episode paying homage to The Lord of the Rings.  And again, a talking piano).  So chances are that if you’re a living human being, you’re likely a fan of music in one form or another.  Unless you’re planning on becoming some sort of wig-wearing fascist ruler.

Come to think of it, in a universe full of talking instruments, wouldn’t that effectively make you some sort of genocidal monster?  Was that a sub-textual issue the writers were aware of?  Is it possible that I blocked out the memory of on-screen instrumental murder?  I mean, the opening has the bad guys detonating all music-related paraphernalia in a treble clef-shaped burst of smoke; who’s to say how many lives were lost, or how many panicked, pleading screams were heard?

…Then again, it does have a triangle-man who opened a portal to the past.  So maybe I’m taking the source material too seriously.

At a glance, it DOES lend itself to philosophical discussion.

So I’ll go ahead and switch gears -- and proudly announce a new feature here on Cross-Up.

August 23, 2012

By Odin's Beard! A site redesign!

Well, I was going to delay this for a bit, but I decided "It's about that time."  I think it's a serviceable look; I'd have preferred a different background, but for now it'll do.  Plus it's the start of something that may or may not be fantastic; I have a "certain something" in mind for the 200th post -- assuming of course that I can get everything ready by then.  I've made a fair bit of progress, but it's always the home stretch that proves problematic, doesn't it?

Anyway, in lieu of that "certain something" I've added something that'll help me out (potentially): I've figured out how to add in polls.  So if you feel like voicing your opinion, go ahead and click your way to victory.

It would please Thor so very, very much.  And his beer.

I Hraet You (31)

Beat 31: Hope You Haven’t Been Holding Out for a Hero

Lloyd stared blankly at the ceiling.

“Did ya get all that, pal?!  We’re in some serious trouble here!” Trixie yelled, with enough force to nearly shake the cell phone out of his hand.

“…Eh?  Wha?  Oh, my apologies, I wasn’t paying attention.”  He rubbed his nose.  “I feel as if it’s been almost two months since I was last in action…”


“About what now?  I’d like a summary, if you don’t mind.”  He tilted his head a bit.  “In case there’s anyone just joining us, or someone has forgotten what last transpired.”  He tilted his head in the other direction.  “Miss Walters, have you ever heard of the fourth wall?”

August 21, 2012

The Return of Jafar: A Kingdom Hearts 2 Retrospective (Part 1)

So.  Kingdom Hearts 3D is finally out.

Cripes.  I’d like to think that I have a handy grasp on the franchise, but I’m having a hard time remembering any games -- well, any meaningful, canon-advancing games -- that put our hero Sora in the spotlight.  I’m drawing a serious blank here.  Outside of Kingdom Hearts 2, what have we had?  A prequel starring Roxas, another prequel featuring a Roxas-lookalike, a girl, and an idiot; a remake of a card battle game; a cell phone game…if my memory’s correct, Sora (and with it, the actual progression of the canon instead of filling in plot points -- or widening them, more than likely) has been out of action for about seven years.  Or if not out of action due to some game I'm missing, then far-removed from the public eye.

Which is kind of weird, considering 1) he’s the hero of the story, and 2) he’s what helps make the series great.  But I suppose there’s no point in whining, now that our hero’s come back.  And from what I’ve heard -- a few reviews aside -- KH3D is something of a return to form.  (Though of course, people said the same thing about Birth By Sleep…)  Well, from the video or two I’ve seen, there’s a pretty big emphasis on the worlds -- largely because they’re utterly massive now.  And to compensate, Sora can traverse levels with a slew of new moves.  Combined with the supposed evolution of BBS’ systems -- which I will admit weren’t the problem with that game -- it’s safe to say that from a gameplay perspective, KH3D shouldn’t be a disappointment.  With the story, who knows how it’ll go…?

Whatever the case, let the records show that I don’t hate everything Squeenix has done since KH1.  My intent is to one day get KH3D, and a 3DS along with it -- if only to enjoy cameos from the rather excellent The World Ends With You

Let the records also show that KH2, in my opinion, is vastly inferior to KH1.

August 20, 2012

I Hraet You (30)

Beat 30: Well, That’s One Way to Establish Yourself As a Threat…

Patton nodded slowly and folded his arms.  “So that’s how it is, huh?  Manly or not, you’re the bad guy.  You’re about to wreck Porbeagle, for one reason or another.”  He unfolded his arms, and started popping his knuckles.  “All right then.  Get ready to eat your own face.”

“Ah-ah-ah -- we can’t have any onstage violence until the script demands it,” said Gaston, waving a finger at the colossal captive.  “The time is not yet right for the duel -- and I certainly wouldn’t engage in one with an extra like you.”


“Figuratively speaking of course.  As the show’s mastermind and arguable leading man, I have more of a…shall we say, stake in the show.  I suppose it’s a bit hasty of me to call you extras, but you’re all at least a tier lower than I am.”

August 18, 2012

Let's discuss Tales of the Abyss.

...Wait, why's he showing off his midriff?

I have a very specific rule when it comes to playing RPGs: never play them if there’s so much as a raindrop outside.  It’s a lesson that I had to learn the hard way one summer when playing through Final Fantasy 10.  I was trekking through the Macalania Woods, merry as could be, choosing to blissfully ignore the rain pounding atop the roof of my grandma’s house.  “I have nothing to fear from mere rain,” I scoffed.  “My team is steadily growing stronger -- just as I surmised, making Yuna the party’s black mage was a brilliant move.  No force on earth can stop me!”

 And then, before I could get to a save point -- mere steps away from one, most likely -- the power went out.  My progress, my EXP, all of it erased.  It wouldn’t have been so bad if I hadn’t taken some time out to grind for extra levels (because I’m not satisfied with my RPGs unless my party members become verifiable deities)…and it wouldn’t have been so bad if, once I’d re-leveled later and made it back to the same point, I had to shut off the game so I could go to Red Lobster with my grandma.  So basically, I had to play that section three times… but it was worth it for those Red Lobster biscuits.

I would covet my neighbor's wife for you.  Could use some midriffs, though.

Why do I bring this up?  It’s because it’s been raining quite a bit on my end -- a blessed reprieve from the summer heat -- and because of it, I’ve been momentarily stalled on finishing my playthrough of Tales of the Abyss.  It’s my intention to talk about that game one of these days; in the same sense that I tried KH1 to see if it’s aged well, I thought I’d give Abyss a whirl.  I won’t go into any grave detail, so I’ll keep this post a bit short.  And I’ll start by saying this:

Tales of the Abyss is too damn long.

August 16, 2012

I Hraet You (29)

 Beat 29: Breathless Gasp!  The Villain Revealed!

“Now, start walkin'.”

Mrs. Overdose prodded Patton with the shotgun once more.  “Better get a move on.  I got an itchy trigger finger, and a lot of accidents tend to happen when I’m around.  So yeah, pushing your luck?  Not a good idea.”

Patton didn’t even bother looking back, or giving her his common growl (one whose rumble had been noted to scare off tigers).  He just started walking toward Haldane Manor, hands clenched into fists, and the veins in his bazooka-sized arms thumping heatedly.  As his slow steps made the ground tremble, JP and Trixie -- flanking him with eyes fixed on the old manor -- matched his movements.  As they approached, the manor almost seemed to grow before their eyes; it loomed well above them, widening and lengthening, to the point where it could likely hold ten houses within its walls.  The sky itself seemed to darken, and with it came a frigid wind unbefitting a summer day.

Laying it on a little thick, aren’t you? JP asked, looking up at the sky.  All that’s missing are a few lightning bolts and flapping bats, and we’d be in the middle of a B-movie’s set.

August 15, 2012

Persona 4 Arena: Pursuing My True Self...Again

You know what?  Confession time: I actually wasn’t expecting much out of Persona 4 Arena’s story. 

Heresy, I know.  How could I call myself an Atlus zealot if I wasn’t willing to go knocking on doors and proclaiming the coming of our savior?  But really, can you blame me?  Fighting games -- BlazBlue notwithstanding -- aren’t exactly known for their stories, and the transition from a linear format in the original Persona 4 to an inevitably-what-if-Yosuke-had-to-save-the-day format seemed like a motion that would only hurt the overall narrative.  And again, this is a fighting game; my time would be better spent learning how to properly zone with Naoto’s Hair-Trigger Megido instead of uncovering the mystery behind why Teddie’s decided to start moonlighting as a pimp.

But for Atlus’ sake -- and to find out why, purportedly, Elizabeth is on the moon -- I figured I’d give it a shot.  And I’m glad I did; format issues aside, P4A is a worthy successor to the canon.

(Warning: spoilers for Persona 4 and Persona 4 Arena to follow.  If you haven’t played either of those games -- and if not, then you should be playing those instead, you foolish fool! -- then get ready to have a ton of spoilers lopped onto your plate.  Like a healthy serving of spaghetti laced with plywood.)

August 13, 2012

I should have played Final Fantasy 6...

I now know the definition of empathy.  

I know I do a lot of bellyaching about Squeenix and Final Fantasy 13, but I realized that even if I bring up legitimate points, my pain -- if you could call it that -- is nothing more than a paper cut.  Considering that this scene, with only a meager bit of contest, made me tear up and start reflecting deeply on my life, I can only begin to wonder how wide a gash this scene must open in true, die-hard FF fans.

Maybe it's just the fact that opera music and current-tech touch-ups managed to make that video what it is; maybe if I watched the original scene in its SNES glory, I wouldn't have been affected as much.  Or maybe I'd have tears streaming onto my laptop for a solid hour, knowing that the same company that brought us that with severe technical limitations (but in exchange, with ingenuity and ambition) has brought us...other things...well, it certainly helps put one's preferences and actions in perspective.

Video games.  They're pretty great most of the time.  But sometimes...sometimes, they can do something more.  You know what I mean?

...Sorry, I'm rambling.  I, uh...I think I need to go take a walk or something.

I Hraet You (28)

Beat 28: A Highly Persuasive Argument via Armaments

JP ran a hand over his face as he struggled to open his eyes.  “Argh…jeez Louise.  I feel like a rhino stomped on my lungs.”  He shook his head; considering the fact that he’d used a phrase like “jeez Louise”, he still had some grogginess to get out of his system.  Nevertheless, he managed to sit upright -- albeit in a slouch -- in the van’s back seat.

Or rather, the sedan’s back seat.  The half-torn, leather upholstery was a far cry from the van’s cotton, and the distinct smell of fried foods and cigarettes made his nose start to burn.  But among those scents, he smelled one slightly unfamiliar.  He’d heard things about it, and had done a little research on the side, and could make a guess -- for some reason, the car smelled like gunpowder.

“Okay, what exactly did I miss?” JP asked.  He looked to his left.  He didn’t even notice the fifty- or sixty-something Hispanic woman.  Nor did he notice the reed in her mouth.  No, the first, and only thing he saw was the shotgun aimed at his face.

“Morning, sleepyhead,” she said, holding the barrel a few inches from his nose.

JP stared at that shotgun for a full minute.  He turned away and raised a hand.  “Can I go back in the fire?”

August 11, 2012

Kingdom Hearts 2! But First, "The Two Ps"

I’ve been thinking about Kingdom Hearts a fair bit.  The games that I’ve played -- a whopping two -- and the games that I haven’t; make no mistake that in spite of all my nitpicks and qualms, I still like this franchise a whole lot.  It’s got potential and character; plus, I think that we need it (i.e. Kingdom Hearts 3) now more than ever.  At least, the KH3 I envision, and the one fans deserve -- not something created with Squeenix's current mindset, but with the Squaresoft sensibilities that drew us all into the universe into the first place.

Why the sudden revelation?  Because you see, a new issue of GameInformer came in yesterday.  Apparently, EA is gearing up to release Another Goddamn Shooter Army of Two: Cartel of Shadows The Devil’s Cartel. 

Sigh.  Here we go again.

August 9, 2012

I Hraet You (27)

Beat 27: Proper Roadside Etiquette is a Societal Treasure

Patton swerved around the corner, with enough momentum to make the van slide on two wheels.  That alone would’ve been enough to make Trixie puke, but the thought of where they might soon head left her searching for a barf bag.  “Ya can’t be serious, pal,” she said, her face starting to pale, and her mouth starting to get that salty feeling it often did just before a purge of the gut.  “Ya seriously wanna leave the country?”

“It’s the only way to save my boy for sure.”  Patton didn’t even bother looking at her; he just kept his eyes on the road, his mighty moustache bristling in the wake of his spoken resolve.

“But…but that’s just crazy talk!  Ya can’t just pack up and skip town!  Ya got a lotta stuff to take care of!”

“…You’re right.”

“I am?”  Trixie shook her head.  “I mean, course I am!  I know yer worried about JP, but --”

“I should go by the house and pick up some supplies.  And a change of clothes.  I got a lot of paint on my pants today.”  He let loose a low rumble.  “Mmmmmm…and some steaks.  We can’t leave the country without steaks.  That’d be like spitting on the Liberty Bell.”

August 8, 2012

Four (Kinda-Sorta) Important Elements for a Good Story

I would like to consider myself lucky.  I’ve barely had Persona 4 Arena for a full 24 hours, yet it’s notably and easily exceeded my expectations.  The look of the game is fantastic.  It’s overflowing with style.  The combat, while intimidating at first, is easy enough to understand once you dive a bit deeper into the game.  There are plenty of little flourishes, from one of the game’s characters thanking Atlus and ArcSys for “sponsoring the program” to a slick main menu…and just in case you haven’t nerdgasmed at the sight of your favorite mystery-solving teens in glorious HD sprites, classic music plays in the background (along with plenty of new tracks, of course…accented by a bonus CD full of remixes guaranteed to get your toe tapping).

It’s been a while since I’ve played a game that made me want to stay up all night.  But lo and behold, P4A is just the game to make me want to do it.  And not just because of the fighting game arms race my brother and I ALWAYS have (though a fair portion of my time went towards trying to learn some Yosuke combos); it’s the story that made me want to swear off the sandman.  Even with just an hour or so of playtime, I can sense that my trust in Persona 4 -- which I consider to be a pillar of fine writing, video game or otherwise, as well as one of my Top 5 Favorite Games -- wasn’t misplaced.  In fact, I’d argue that even with a cursory glance, P4A’s story is even better.  I’ll likely discuss the game in more detail in the coming days, but for now I’ll just leave you with this image:

 I’ll acknowledge that there’s still a lot of time for P4A to go awry (and that I need to take of the fanboy goggles to view things objectively), but I’m pleased with the product so far.  But that aside, I want to focus on something a bit more to my speed.

August 6, 2012

I Hraet You (Elseworlds Special Edition)

(We interrupt this chapter of I Hraet You for a chapter of I Hraet You -- a very special guest chapter written by one Konstantine Paradias.  Read on and feel the supreme, overflowing love -- and read to the end for an even lovelier treat.  Of love.)

Trixie’s Audio-capture Log

Day Twenny-Five. I still havn’t managed t’make the damn thing understand my sexy southern drawl. Its mechanical incomprehension baffles me.

We’ve been cooped up inside this bunker too damn long now. Outside, we hear the screechin’ sounds them darn things make, their constant clawin’ at our thick met’l walls, the way they try to chew through the wirin’.

Sum of the other girls are gittin’ antsy, what with that cacoph’ny an’ all. Deirdre’s been tryin’ to amuse ‘em, hasn’t ‘ad much luck.

One a’ the girls threw a tin can o’ soy beans halfway through her act. I tol’ her Hamlet was a bit much, what with them zombie ‘pocalypse goin’ on an’ such, but she woulnd’t lissen. Said “Hamlet’s jes’ what them poor sows need” only she said it more refined-like.

Twenny-five days, twenny-five gals, alla us cooped up in one well-built hole in the ground. Plenty food, plenty water. Not a man in sight.

Wonder how long’s it gonna be ‘fore we turn on each other.

August 5, 2012

BlazBlue Appreciation Day: Why ArcSys is Amazing

I find it hilarious that I’m only two days away from owning Persona 4 Arena -- with the pre-order soundtrack, no less -- and now, out of nowhere, I have a new reason for irrational hype and girlish squealing.  A new fighting game is on the way…and you may have heard the name before.

BlazBlue is on its way back.  And it’s about to be better than ever.

Only you, ArcSys.  Only you.

August 2, 2012

I Hraet You (26)

Beat 26: Escape from New York, Or Something Like That

“Damn it!  Give me a break!”

JP just kept crawling and cursing as he moved through the vents.  His balled-up hands (one of which clutched a screwdriver) and uncovered knees bumped against the heating metal; between the darkness and the smoke starting to fill the vents, his visibility had long since nosedived.  He pulled his jacket and shirt over his nose.  “Damn it!  Damn it, damn it, damn it!” he growled, making sure to slam his fists down with each motion.  And for good measure, he added a quick “Son of a bitch!” 

If he’d been destined to die in there, he’d do so with the comfort of knowing that no one could stop him from swearing freely.

August 1, 2012

Keep Doing What You’re Doing, Squeenix: The Lightning Saga

Man, it’s getting late.  I’ve done all the writing I need to for one day, and I don’t think there’s anything else online of note.  Guess I’ll call it a night.

…Oh wait.  I forgot to check what’s on Siliconera.  I even have a tab open.  Well, let’s see what they’ve got, and then I’ll hit the hay.

Hmmm, Persona 4 Arena news.  Good stuff.  Gotta remember to work on getting that Naoto wallpaper from the Japanese site tomorrow.  3DS news…RPG news…a little something from Capcom…and…

Wait.  Wait, whatWhat is this supposed to be?




And then I screamed a lot, shot Frieza in the face with a ki blast, and escaped from Namek in one of the Ginyu Force’s pods.

Now that that little story is out of the way, let’s talk about Final Fantasy 13 for a minute.