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

October 30, 2012

Let’s discuss video games…while I wear a silly hat.

Endearing, isn’t it?

Well, whatever.  It’s that time of year again -- Halloween’s just about in full swing, and even though I don’t have a costume, I’ve still got a lot on my mind and a lot of games I want to talk about.  Good games, in fact.  Very good games.  That said, I think there’s another trend to this little quartet, just like there was last time.  If the last “Let’s Discuss” post was mostly about “hate”, then this one is more about “pressure”.  What sort of pressure, you ask?  Well, you’ll just have to read on and find out, won’t you?

I’ve got my sleeves all rolled up and ready to write -- and you know what?  I’m in high spirits.  It feels like we’re going to make some seriously good progre-

What the heck?  What was --?

Huh.  That’s odd.  Wonder if it’s a problem with Blogger’s --

That can't be good...

One Piece: Pirate Warriors!
(Or: The Absence of Lu Bu Has Been Noted)

*throws up hands* Well, they did it.  They finally did it.  Koei finally made a good Dynasty Warriors game.

I’ve made a statement about Dynasty Warriors in the past -- it’s good if you only play one or two games tops, and would do well to swear off all the rest.  It’s really hard to defend a series that actively believes that adding the ability to swim and climb ladders is something worth celebrating…especially if those things are just being added for the Xbox 360.  But with Pirate Warriors, they finally managed to make a game that is not only the best DW game, but arguably the best anime game I’ve ever played, and an outright good game.

What’s different?  For one thing, the combat’s taken a turn for the better.  You can no longer jump of your own accord, but it’s not much of a loss given that jumping was virtually pointless in the DW games.  Instead, you get a quick-dash that you can use to position yourself as needed.  Better yet, you can use it to cancel virtually any attack, allowing you to create even longer combos than the basic inputs.  There’s also a surprising amount of variety between the playable characters -- Luffy’s a master of crowd control, Sanji’s all about air juggles and dozen-hit combos, Robin is an indirect attacker whose special can violate opponents, and Whitebeard…I don’t think there’s ever been a more powerful character in a game, period.  If you’re not familiar with the One Piece canon (I know I’m not), here’s all you need to know about Whitebeard: he can pretty much SHATTER THE SKY WITH HIS FISTS.

But combat aside, one of the strengths of the game is that it’s not wall-to-wall grunt genocide.  The story mode -- the surprisingly long story mode -- has you playing mostly as Luffy, and using his stretching powers to navigate levels.  The levels themselves aren’t too difficult to get around, but that’s more to the game’s benefit.  Each level is colorful, crisp, and chipper, and captures the spirit of the series; more importantly, shooting yourself across the stages like a slingshot actually feels pretty fun, and even the occasional puzzle is a welcome change of pace.  It’s also worth noting that this is a game that gets quicktime events right -- something that Resident Evil 6 can’t come close to claiming.  You get plenty of time to react.  They’re not nearly as frequent.  You know what’s coming.  When you’re navigating a stage, there are cues to hint what’s going to pop up -- the walls in your way tell you which direction you need to press to get out of the way, for example, and Luffy will telegraph what button you need to press next to monkey-bar his way towards a ledge.  Even for cutscenes you not only have enough time to press them; I remember having my pad on the ground for a moment when a QTE popped up, and I had plenty of time to grab it, press the right button, and move on without trouble.  It’s a smooth ride, and there might have been only one QTE I ever messed up throughout hours of gameplay.

But of course, it’s not a game without faults.  The camera is a mess, and tracking enemy aces is much more difficult than it needs to be (thankfully there’s a lock-on feature, but it’s still inferior to the Z-targeting of the N64 Zelda games).  The game comes with the Japanese audio track only, which is fine for the anime purists -- but unless you’re a native speaker, it’s easy to ignore the text boxes in the heat of a showdown, and the boxes completely vanish when you’re doing some swinging with Luffy.  You still have to do a crapton of button-mashing against brain-dead enemies…but damn is it rewarding.  This game captures the “impact factor” that I love in video games -- that feeling where every hit carries some serious weight, and every blow feels like it could smash a truck.  You’ll be reeling after every special attack.  I guarantee it.

So yeah, I like the game…but here’s where the pressure comes in.  Do I like the game because it’s a good game, or do I like it because it’s the first time I’ve gotten a hefty taste of the One Piece canon?  I’ve explained how I regret not getting into the canon early, and with about sixty manga volumes and nearly seven hundred chapters and more than five hundred anime episodes, it’s getting harder and harder to get caught up with each passing day.  But with PW, it’s easy to experience most of the story (albeit a distilled version) in a matter of days, even hours.  And it’s easy to see why One Piece is as popular as it is in Japan: it’s really damn good.  There is much more depth than its goofy protagonist would suggest -- there’s a shocking amount of depth, some genuine laughs, some tense moments, and more.  It feels as if it cuts most of the chaff that plagues shonen series, and anime in general; it’s got substance without falling prey to silly tropes like stretching a week into seventy full-length episodes, or suddenly requiring your demigod of a ninja boy to undergo even more training. 

And honestly?  There’s a moment that I experienced in this game -- one that’s in the series proper, of course -- that made me burst into tears.  I won’t spoil which one (though if you know the canon, you can guess what the trigger was), but I promise you that it got me so bad, I had to stop the game, run into the bathroom, lean against the shower for support, and rub my face down with a towel.  Hell, I’m just thinking about that scene as I type my reaction, and I’m already starting to mist up.

I guess now there’s a certain pressure on me to watch every episode of One Piece.  It’s the only way to right the wrongs I committed.  So many hours wasted…

PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale -- or the beta, at least!
(Or: Then I Shot His Face -- Now I’m A Believer)

I admit that I didn’t have high expectations for this game.  As a Smash Bros. player for years and years, I didn’t appreciate Sony so blatantly aping Nintendo/HAL’s concept…and gameplay…and overall style.  (As one commenter noted, Sony should have made the game more like Power Stone, or at least made better use of its 3D characters or superior power…but that’s neither here nor there.)  The biggest difference -- besides a stable of characters I couldn’t give a micrometer-sized sliver of a rat’s ass about -- was the “kill with supers” mechanic, meaning that the only way to gain points was by building enough meter to fuel your character’s ultimate special attack.  To put that in perspective, it’s like if the only way to beat an opponent in Street Fighter 4 was with an Ultra -- saving up for that one big blow, with all the rest being time-filling busywork.

Well…as it turns out, the game’s pretty fun.  Much better than I expected. 

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: if anyone tries to tell you that this isn’t a Smash Bros. clone -- Sony, or one of its spokesmen, or whoever -- they’re lying.  This is “Sony Smash Bros.” plain and simple.  They aped it hard.  Buuuuuuuuut if they were ever going to ape a formula, they chose the right one.  It’s mechanically sound, and much more satisfying than it has a right to be.  Even if your favorite Sony mascot isn’t on display -- very likely, given that for some reason the beta only has six characters -- you can still get a taste for the game and find a character that fits your groove.  In my case, I went with Colonel Radec (some guy from Killzone, but I dubbed him Bruce the Generic Soldier Guy), who is pretty much a zoning-type character turned up a few notches.  Radec Bruce the GSG is very good at harassing enemies from afar, from sticking explosive rockets onto them to a full-screen sniper bullet that blows them away.  Unfortunately, enemies that get in close can really make sure he has a bad time; Bruce only has a couple of moves fast enough to deal with close-range opponents, and characters like Kratos can harass him long before he’s even raised his gun.  As I understand it, even with the few moves that Bruce has to get out of trouble -- dropping grenades and a flamethrower -- he can’t handle pressure at all.  (It’s also worth noting that apparently, Kratos has taken a lot of fire for being not only the most popular character, but the one most-requested to be nerfed.  A justifiable claim, perhaps.)

But if you’re playing the game right, you don’t have to.  I discussed this with my brother (who was playing the beta with me as Twisted Metal’s Sweet Tooth), and we agreed that PlayStation All-Stars makes for a fantastic 2v2 game.  I honestly don’t care how much the developers tout the game as a competitive, tournament-worthy 1v1 fighter, because to me it seems like there’s more fun and more strategy to be had when you’re playing with a partner.  If all the characters in the final version are as diverse and specialized as Sweet Tooth and Bruce the GSG, then finding ways to cooperate with a partner and build teams with real synergy could be the saving grace that this game needs to establish itself as more than just a clone.  Bruce makes a great support character, screwing with enemies from a distance and allowing the slower Sweet Tooth to get in.  Sweet Tooth gives enemies trouble as -- and when -- he makes his approach, keeping them busy while Bruce snipes them from afar.  To be fair, teaming up with a partner might work better if you’re playing locally with a buddy, but honestly?  If this game really is ready for EVO, I’d rather see it in a team format than one-on-one.

But I’m not gonna lie, this game has some weaknesses.  Remember the “impact factor” I mentioned earlier?  Outside of one or two moves, that’s sorely missing from this game.  Part of the problem is that the sound design is weak compared to Smash Bros.; the music is supposed to be a mix between iconic songs, but frankly I can’t remember even a few notes from the levels (and the levels themselves are kind of boring, even with the fantastic elements in the background -- the layout is nothing special, and the palette doesn’t seem as vibrant as it could be).  The sound effects when you hit someone are negligible, subtracting from that impact factor and very nearly emphasizing how much busywork the “kill with supers” mechanic can be.  And as I said, Kratos seems severely imbalanced compared to the rest of the cast -- though there are other imbalances like Sly Cooper’s absurdly-good Level 1 super and ability to turn invisible (and maybe invincible) at will.  Compared to the struggles of Sweet Tooth and Bruce, it seems like there are going to be a lot of arguments about who’s top-tier and who’s bottom-tier…and with it, people gravitating to the strongest characters.

That all said, I’m still optimistic about the game -- more so than I was on announcement.  It certainly helps that Sackboy is a playable character, and since I’m convinced that he and his game are some of the best things to happen to this console generation I feel obligated to use him and slaughter any cyber-ninjas and demon-slayers that come my way.  Because I have a sneaking suspicion those two characters are going to be very popular…

Also?  PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale?  That title seriously needed work.

Katawa Shoujo!
(Or: Real Talk -- and Lots of Postulating)

All right, this one goes out to Sir Quaffler.  I’ve kept you waiting long enough.

Katawa Shoujo has got to be the hardest game I’ve ever played.  Not hard in the sense that I have to shoot down five hundred enemy units, or hard in the sense that I have to fight off a boss with skills that give it infinite attack range and self-recovery skills that would make the Dark Gundam jealous.  As it’s a visual novel, it’s incredibly easy to play -- just hit the spacebar to blast through ninety percent of the game, stopping only to select from a couple of choices.  It’s more of a test of your reading comprehension than reaction time or ability to manage the metagame. 

And yet…it’s really, really hard.  It exudes pressure on you at every moment.  There’s an expectation put on you -- by the game, by the characters, but most of all by yourself.  You downloaded the game after hearing how good it was, or because you thought it’d offer you some fun, or you wanted something different, or it was 100% free.  But to dive into Katawa Shoujo and to try and touch the hearts of these girls’ lives becomes more than just a binary matter of “good end, bad end.”  In a way, you’re not even playing a game after a certain point.  The game is playing you.

I think it’s safe to assume that if you’re of a sound mind, you aren’t playing the game to break these girls’ hearts.  You’re there to experience the life of someone else -- both the viewpoint character, Hisao, and the young lady on the route you’ve chosen.  It’s in your nature to do all you can to befriend them, laugh with them, untangle the dark threads in their hearts, and experience plenty of sunny days with them.  That’s the object of the game, more or less.  But the means to do so, I’ve found, aren’t as obvious or as crystal-clear as, say, InFamous.  In that game, becoming Good Cole or Evil Cole comes down to your actions and a few distinct choices -- whether you sacrifice altruistically and pledge to save others, or plunder selfishly and wreak havoc.  It’s a flawed system, no question, but one that gets the basics right.  But with KS there is no divide.  There is no Good Hisao or Evil Hisao.  The choices you make don’t give you more power; in a way, they give more power to the girl on that route, allowing her to surpass her issues and bond with you.  But the choices you make aren’t as clear cut as “do good” or “do evil.”  Ignoring the fact that (I assume) too many “wrong” choices will negate all your progress and send you straight to the dreaded Bad End, the divide between what the right choice and the wrong choice might be isn’t clear.  Time and time again I find myself spending minutes at a time staring at the screen when a choice pops up, wondering which option will let me help out in earnest.  There’s a choice that suits common logic and decency, and ignoring it may mean putting your relationship in danger.  But there’s a choice that suits the route’s theme, and seems to support the conversations you’ve had both with the leading lady and other characters.  At once, they’re both logical and illogical choices -- tests of judgment, will, and character that reveal less about the girls and more about you.  Do you have what it takes to support these girls?  Do you have what it takes to put a smile on someone’s face?  Do you have what it takes to face the darkest parts of yourself, and ask yourself what you’d truly do in a real-life context?  Do you have what it takes to remember the choices you’ve made in the past, and not spiral into a maelstrom of regret?

I’m starting to think that the reason I’m STILL only on my second run of the game is because I feel that pressure.  It’s a game designed to make you think heavily -- heavily -- on each choice you make, and the consequences therein -- more so if you refuse to reload after each decision, as I’m doing.  It’s incredibly taxing, knowing that what you have on your machine is less of a game and more of a mirror.  The sheer pressure and weight of each moment, both the decisions and the general events -- the heartwarming, the hilarious, and the horrifically grave -- weighs on you tremendously in a way that a lot of games can’t…or rather, won’t.  And because of that, I wonder: could KS “work” as a big release?  Could it, or a game like it, blaze a trail in the public consciousness and gaming industry in a way no other game could?  Could it be a defining exemplar of “games as art”?  Could it be profitable not just emotionally, but financially?  Or would it be slammed on arrival -- hammered by media watchdogs and burned at the stake by overzealous parents?  Could a game built on, and focused on love -- on matters of the heart, the resilience of the human spirit, and overcoming the maladies that so shape and affect every aspect of our lives -- ever become something more than just a title lurking in the shadows of lurching triple-A behemoths, casting a brilliant light that only the truly blessed will ever see?

Could a game like this truly change someone’s life?

…God, I need some hot dogs.  I’m, uh…I’m gonna get out of here.  You should only do so much hypothesizing at one time, you know?  So -- oh, wait.  There’s one more game I want to talk about before I close this post, so I guess I’d better --

What in the…?

Uh-oh.  I am really starting to get some bad vibes here.

Such pitiful creatures you humans are…always giving in to your reason.  If only you had the foresight to abandon your bodies, and embrace immortality…

But I suppose your bodies and minds won’t allow such blissful freedom.
Did I say bad vibes?  Because I really meant pants-wetting terror.

Silence, mortal.  From now on, I am in command.  You will do as you are told until I grow weary of your presence.  And I require your mind, and your words, to gain the satisfaction I so desire.
I-I just wanted to talk about Assassin’s Creed 3!  You can’t blame me for that, right?  I want to see if it’s as good as all the hype --

That will never placate me.  And I warn you -- you had best converse about something that pleases me, or I promise that you will meet with a terrible fate.
Right, right.  No AC3 today.  Got it.  So, uh…wh-what did you have in mind?

A tale that is very dear to me -- a tale that, at its core, is all about me.

Oh, no.

It will be so much fun.  Do you not agree?

So much joy to be had, reliving sweet memories, and experiencing the days of old with newfound wisdom.
Well, yeah, that’s true, but --

No more words are needed.  Speak.  Entertain me, and all the masses.  Dance like the puppet you are.
Okay, but only if you promise not to drop a moon on me.

No harm will come to you…as long as I am satisfied.
Guess that’s better than nothing…

All right.  I guess I should start by giving a framework.  Back when I first got this game, my brother and I couldn’t actually play it.  This was back in the day when the N64 Expansion Pack was needed to enhance the console’s power, and make games previously impossible a possibility (like Donkey Kong 64) or otherwise make good games even better (like Star Wars: Rogue Squadron).  So for the first few days of ownership, all we could do was stare at the box, the cartridge, and the Player’s Guide we’d grabbed with it, hoping that we’d be able to pick up the Pack in the next day or so.  And believe you me, we stared at what we had all day long -- or at least I did.  I just kept staring, and staring, and staring.

I don’t know how Past Me ever did it.  Because now I can barely stand to look at Majora’s Mask without cringing. 

I think it speaks for the power of a game when, more than ten years after its release you’re not only thinking about it, but legitimately frightened by it.  I mean, when I first got the game I wasn’t scared -- but I’m pretty sure that the fear period started about fifteen seconds after turning the game on for the first time.  I can only imagine the messes that might have appeared on carpets across countless American homes when they’re greeted by that spiraling mask and that horrific whooshing sound right after powering up what should have been a “great game, great experience.”  And then you start playing the game, and things only get worse from there.  Link -- who we know as a physical embodiment of courage, doubly so in lieu of this being a post-Ocarina of Time adventurer -- screams like crazy when he gets turned into a Deku Scrub.   The first places you visit are dark, empty tree hollows and the dank sewers of Clock Town.  The first person you meet is the Happy Mask Salesman, who could scare off Jason Vorhees with his smile.  Majora’s theme is utterly disturbing.  It’s wrong in every sense of the word.  And you’ll hear variations of it many, many times.

But you know what?  I think the worst part of Majora’s Mask -- the mask itself -- is those eyes.  Damn it, I hate looking at those eyes.  Ironic considering how many times I looked at them as a kid, in magazines, in commercials, and the products in question; I think that once I saw them in their actual context, the fascination and joy of owning a new Zelda game died out.  I knew what those eyes meant.  I knew what evil lied behind them, and within the mask itself.  It got so bad that I started looking away every chance I got.  The player’s guide got flipped face-down every chance I got.  When my brother cleared it and I was offered a chance to play, I don’t think I even cleared the first temple -- because it meant I’d have to face off with that mask, and its eyes, in the final showdown.

I think that part of the reason that mask disturbs the hell out of me is because of all the implications of its existence -- and moreover, because it reminds me of a creature from my own nightmares.  Back when I was five (and for about a decade after, and once in a blue moon to this day), I used to dream about this creature that my dream self dubbed “Bana” -- in a nutshell, think of a writhing, black, hunchbacked mass, give it a head like Rita Repulsa, shroud everything in black so that you can’t tell where the head ends and the body begins, and of course, the eyes.  Big, red, glowing eyes, almost reminiscent of donuts.  And make sure that the creature is about seven feet tall.  And the noise it makes -- imagine the sound a jet engine makes, but pitched up a few octaves and mixed with buzzing bees.  Now imagine that sound played at wall-busting volume, and that scream growing ever louder as Bana makes its way toward you, with convulsive twitches of its head and arms stretched out to grab you and fling you into its abyssal form.  Imagine that creature being able to appear within feet of you whenever it wants, either making its way toward you just to delight in your screams, or appearing behind you while you’re nestled in bed, the glow of its red eyes casting light against your wall so you know that if you turn around, you’ll be staring into the face of one of Death’s many emissaries.

That’s what Majora’s Mask reminds me of.  Now more than ever. 

It is only natural to fear me.  I have yet to meet a single creature in my long and storied lifetime that could play with me for long.  Another fault of the mortal coil…those that traverse it are so often driven to madness.  It makes me so lonely, you see.
Yeah, you’re a real nightmare.  Just having your game’s cartridge in my room makes me a little antsy.  Crazy, huh?  Someone who tries to be rational is worried that a game might come to life and haunt him.

The horrors I have inflicted upon the world go well beyond the mere “haunting” that you speak of.  Time and space are of no consequence to me; I travel where and when I wish, and plague the populace with whatever misfortune I can envisage.  As you can imagine, it’s quite refreshing to know that I’m capable of such creativity.
Looks like you haven’t lost your touch when it comes to making people feel the fear.  But you know what?  There’s a weakness that you’re forgetting.

I do hope you are not speaking of trivial matters.  Any weakness you claim is merely the result of one I place upon myself. 
So is that why that GIF has an off-center frame?

No matter.  All I do is for my benefit -- a means to extend my entertainment.
Hold it.  There’s one thing you’re forgetting: scary as you can be, your game isn’t about fear.  And if that’s the case, then neither are you.

Oh?  You believe you know me better than I know myself?      
I don’t know what you really are, but I know that your game wasn’t made just to scare children.  It’s about a lot more than fear, or horror, or nightmares, or anything else you’ve got cooked up in that wooden shell of yours.  And it’s because of that that I can stand my ground and face your game without fear…and more importantly, take a stand against you.

You earnestly believe you can resist my power -- my aims to live out halcyon days wreathed in hellfire?
As a matter of fact, I do.  Because as frightening as you AND your game can be, I know that as a would-be writing hero, I’ve got everything I need to surpass you.  It’s my duty to dream up creatures that are a thousand times worse than you -- and it’s thanks to you that I’ve got just the inspiration I need to pull it off.

You just wait.  I’ll finish your game, and show you just what I’m made of.

If you think my power is something that can be overcome, then I welcome you to try.  You are an entertaining mortal, if nothing else.  Perhaps I will return one day soon to test your resolve, and your skill, and your strength.  And when I do, I will be certain to delight in your pain and sorrow, as I crush you with little more than a thought.
Considering that you yourself are just the thought of some sharp-witted game developers, I’m willing to bet that you’re not as strong as you think you are.  Overestimate yourself too much, and you’re bound to take a pretty bad fall.

We shall see who falls, you worthless puppet.

But it is of no consequence.  Gather all the power you can, and try your hardest to repel my advance.  Amuse me until your final breath…and then, I will gladly steal that, too, away from you.

Your time is almost at its end…and my own is about to begin.

…Uh…right, then.  Where were we?  Oh, right.  Video games.  Uh, yeah, four great games this time around.  Very deep, thought-provoking stuff, and…stuff.

So, yeah, see you guys around.  I think I’ve got some work to do.

And by the smell of things, I need a change of clothes.


  1. Ok so basically One Piece: Pirate Warriors = Dynasty Warriors and PlayStation All-Stars = Super Smash Bros? Got it.

    Anyways, on to Katawa Shoujo. "The game is playing you"? That's... actually a really good way of putting it. I'm with you there, when I "played" KS, even though my physical actions were simply clicking next the vast majority of the time, I was enveloped entirely by what was happening to these people, and the atmosphere was incredibly oppressive for me. There were so many times I would have absolutely no clue what to do, and I would just sit there and go over the situation in my head over and over, trying to determine what would be the best course of action to overcome the obstacles in the relationships. I had never been in those situations before, so rather than simply choose the "Good Hisao" option like so many other games of these type would have you do, I actually had to figure out on the spot what the appropriate response was, and it was incredibly nerve-wracking.

    And if you get it wrong? Holy hell, do you get it wrong. It's not just a "oh well I failed my mission, time to restart it or just go on with the next mission", it was more like "this girl who was totally soft-spoken, nervous and shy is now screaming at me with all her pent-up rage, what kind of monster am I?!" That one in particular had me shell-shocked, just staring at the screen for like half an hour afterward, stunned at what had transpired, then finally broke out into tears. Oh man...... I'm getting depressed thinking about it even now.....

    And so many times, the game hit waaaaaaaay too close to home for me, and I felt like it was actually pointing out the worst things about myself. Particularly with Emi, I don't understand how to reciprocate love to other people and allow them to get closer to me, it's one of my greatest weaknesses, if not my absolute greatest; and with Rin, I am right with her when she can't express herself to others and in fact can't even understand others even on a basic level. "People are like jellyfish to me. I don't understand them." That sums me up right there.

    But when I finally figured out what I needed to do to overcome the obstacles? The payoff is by far the most rewarding I have ever seen in this media (or any media, for that matter). When I finally broke through to Emi (she was the girl I ended up with the first time around; I decided to make my choices the first time through based on what I would actually do, and she's who I ended up with) I cried many manly tears of joy. I'm sure you felt the same way with Lilly. It's surprising the way these characters are so well-written and lifelike, that in the player's mind they transcend "characters" and become actual people. Game writers NEED to take notes from this game on how to write believable people in games.

    It's a shame there aren't nearly enough games that follow in this one's footsteps. If only this one went more mainstream, I think we might finally be able to shatter the mold of "games as entertainment only" and break out into a totally new era of games emotionally affecting and influencing people. I know I've been deeply affected by it.

    Oh wow that was a mouthful. I need to go get some hot dogs, I'm starving.

    Oh, and good luck with that creepy mask. The fear... it never goes away... I've never looked at the moon the same way ever since this blasted game... those eyes...

  2. Yikesy mikesy, you've really been waiting for this one, haven't you? Has it even been six hours since I posted this thing? Well, whatever. Glad to see you jumping in.

    Anyway, KS. Having thought about it for a bit, I think there is a place for it, or a game like it, in a more public eye. In a sense, it reminds me of the Ace Attorney games -- lots of memorable characters, effective writing, simple but potent gameplay, and no shortage of shocking twists and developments. It's been proven that there's an audience for AA before, and frankly I'm surprised Capcom hasn't bothered putting one of the games on consoles yet. I think it could go beyond just "working"; it's a chance to shine a light on the entire industry.

    And of course, a console-based KS (or, again, a game like it) could do the same, but even more so. You would think that a game based around developing relationships with young ladies would be less-than-savory and nothing else, but here we -- and plenty of other gamers -- are, confessing how much this game has affected and entertained us. I'm on Emi's route right now, and when she said "I can't rely on you", I felt that. I didn't cry (for some reason), but I feel like I should have -- it made me heated and wide-eyed, and for a minute I was afraid my own heart might start failing me. So to say that KS is powerful would be an obvious understatement.

    And yet...I wonder if it COULD be accepted into the gaming consciousness at large. Just think about the qualities of KS, or any visual novel (like AA or 999) -- generally speaking, they're "slow burns". They take their time setting things up, building characters and worlds and situations and emotions and responses; they have their action, but they're on a different axis than, say, Gears of War. It's a matter of genre, but it's also a matter of "acceptance" -- can a developer convince gamers to play a game that features no violence and no gunplay? Can a developer prove that a visual novel is more than just a chance to date virtual girls? And in light of the industry's current state -- where Resident Evil 6, a terrible game can sell three million copies in its first month by virtue of name recognition and explosive monster-fests -- can a developer even convince a publisher to take the plunge?

    Even though I'm an optimist, it's questions like those (and more) that make me wonder if beautiful games like KS could ever stand a chance. A damn shame, all things considered. But...well, maybe that's a good thing. It's irritating, knowing that there are people that haven't even heard of this game -- or worse, ignore it just because of the premise or genre -- but in a way, it feels like we're part of an exclusive club. We get to experience something truly great, untouched and untainted by the politics of the game industry. It's a game that is designed with love, and makes its players feel the love. And even if it's just a blip on the radar, it's our blip. It's a story that belongs to us, the brave and adventurous gamers.

    ...Well, that was a nice little essay.

    I'll probably end up talking about KS again somewhere down the line...not for a while, given that at my current pace a glacier could beat me in a footrace (and they don't even have the right running shoes), but I'll keep pecking away at it. And besides, I think I'm going to have my hands full with Majora's Mask for a while yet. If my guess is correct, this fight isn't going to end until I give it the good ol' Let's Discuss treatment. I just hope that's enough to lay the mask to rest. If somebody doesn't stop it, who knows what kind of damage it could do?

  3. Yes, I've tapped into your private server, silently hanging outside your window waiting for the moment you post and-

    Naw I'm just messing with you. I just happened to check right when it went up or something. Weird coincidence.

    Oh God, that part was the first time the game broke my heart. "I can't rely on you." She was staring right into my soul on that part.

    And, considering your question at large of whether it can be accepted into the gaming culture at large, you're probably right. I'm gonna hafta pick up the Ace Attorney and Prof. Layton games, as from what I understand they follow this same format. As is evidenced by the reactions by those like us, there's a definite fan base to make this work. But even though I want as many people to experience this game, at the same time it makes me feel different than them... better than them... I don't like to play the 'hipster cred' card, but this is one case where I'm more than happy to do so. I can say to them "My tastes are more refined and meaningful than yours." Yeah, I'd be happy saying that.

    As far as getting publishers to put them on a wider gamer market, I almost feel it's better that this sort of thing remains better in the hands of independent developers. I mean look at KS, it had a zero-dollar budget, to be sure, but since they were not taking any money with strings attached to them (as it always is) they were completely free to make the creative vision exactly as they wanted, with no interference from people supplying money. Now if there were some publisher willing enough to give a team no-strings-attached money to make a game like KS, but with a better budget, that would be totally awesome. But with the way the vast majority of game companies are going nowadays I think the days of experimentation and risk-taking are largely gone. As long as the word about these types of games makes its way around the web so that those willing to try can play them, that'll be good.

    Well I think that's enough from me for now, got school in the morning. Good luck facing off against the demon mask, you're gonna need it. Unless you somehow get all the masks and get the Fierce Deity's mask, you're in for one really tough (and really freaking weird) final fight.

  4. I need to check out KS, but Unwound Time, of the Professor Layton Series installed water faucets in my eyes when I got to the culmination of the plot.

    Why would you do that to me Level 5? I was enjoying my quirky, happy go lucky, british adventure than you had to go and give it real grim substance?! *salutes* Brilliant.

  5. And now I need to get one of the Professor Layton games. How have I not played one of them so far? I must do as my brother once did, and "be transported back to Great Britain." Even though he's never been to Great Britain. Unless he did so in spirit...kinda seems like the sort of thing he'd want to explain in earnest, but whatever. Layton is now on my radar.

  6. My brother actually got the Fierce Deity's Mask on his first playthrough (with a little help from the Nintendo Power Player's Guide), and I'd argue it actually made the final boss fight horribly anticlimactic. So if I get all the masks, I'm kind of thinking that I'll fight without it. Hopefully it'll be enough...

    Though my gut instincts suggest otherwise. If Majora's Mask can infiltrate my blog with ease, I can only imagine how far its influence can spread if left unchecked...the entire internet might be in danger!

  7. Ok well if you're not taking the Fierce Deity's mask (which I'll agree makes the final fight far too easy), just one piece of advice:

    Drink some Chateau Romani. You'll need it.

    I've also found the Zora Mask to be useful, so you ca-

    FOOLISH WHELP! A puppet that cannot be used is mere garbage.
    This puppet's role has just ended.


  8. I saw the ending for The Diabolical Box, and that put a tear in my eyes as well. Still haven't found it anywhere near me yet, but the moment I see it up on the shelf I'm grabbing it.

  9. M-Majora's Mask?! Shit! I'm not ready yet!

    All right...hope this works...right c A down c! Right c A down c!



    Gyah!!! What the hell?! Where am I, where the hell did I go? Everything went black all of a sudden. And why does the moon have a face all of a sudden?