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

February 27, 2013

Let’s discuss (more of) Devil Survivor 2.

You know, it seems like every time someone brings up Atlus on the internet, it’s shortly followed by praise, adoration, or gushing.  Or alternatively -- or simultaneously -- declaring Atlus as the greatest gaming company around…whether that’s in regards to JRPGs, or just games in general.  It’s a little worrying to know that there’s so much fervor for one company; an outsider looking in might think of Atlus fans as some sort of cult-gathered, near-murderous zealots.  Or worse -- fanboys.

If nothing else -- if you learn nothing, or take away nothing else from these posts -- then you have to learn that Atlus’ love is unquestionably deserved.  What The House of Jack Frost lacks in resources or raw graphical power, they make up for with overwhelming style, enthralling stories, and gameplay that’ll make you want to take a sledgehammer to whatever system has the misfortune of loading up one of Atlus’ bosses.  (I still can’t believe I managed to clear Catherine.)  Just think about the amount of playtime you can get out of one of their titles.  How is it that a triple-A game might not last you through the weekend, but a game with a fraction of the budget can give you anywhere from fifteen to eighty hours of gameplay?  Similarly, how is it that a game designed to be a non-stop thrill ride from start to finish can barely be remembered a month after release, but a game infinitely more sedate has sequences, worlds, and even conversations I’ll remember for years to come?  I doubt any Persona 4 fans will forget the King’s Game anytime soon…among other things.

So yes, Atlus is more than deserving of praise.  From a technical perspective they’re not the most impressive, but the limits imposed in one area drove the developers to excel in others.  There’s a definitive creative vision in virtually every product they put out, one that has been and will continue to be appreciated by fans.  My biggest gripe?  No news on Persona 5…but then again, I’m more than willing to wait.

So consider that a PSA on why Atlus is amazing.  Now then, let’s get back on topic, yeah?

To move is to SPOILERS; and to be valiant is to MORE SPOILERS:
Therefore, if thou art SPOILED, thou runn’st away.
So yeah, there’ll be spoilers.

February 25, 2013

I Hraet You, Revengeance

Confession time: this was originally going to be a post dedicated solely to I Hraet You.

I’ve been thinking about the story a lot recently and what I want to do next.  I have a pretty solid idea of where this next chunk of chapters will go; whereas the first part was all about Lloyd discovering his powers and the stakes and consequences, this one will have him put his skills to the test.  He’ll have to become aware of his weaknesses -- even those that he didn’t know existed (and if you’re savvy enough, you’ve probably figured out what one of them might be).  He’ll have to put himself out there to “save” people he couldn’t save before.  And most of all, he’ll take a step forward in realizing his dream…and building the unbridled world of love he so…uh…loves.

There are still things that I need to do, though, and I’ll get to them in a moment.  But there’s been a slight change of plans.  See, I tried out Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance not too long ago, and if you’ve been following this blog you may know that I’ve been very concerned about it.  I’ve been worried about its quality, its reception, its status relative to the less-than-pleasant DmC, and its effect on me.  Would I end up hating it?  Would I end up being ousted as a hypocrite?  Would I tear apart a game that seemed like the last bastion of stylish crazy action?

Several times in the past -- and here on this very blog -- I said something like “Let’s see how Metal Gear Rising turns out.”  Well, it’s out.

And it is amazing.

February 20, 2013

Let’s discuss (some of) Devil Survivor 2.

Huh.  So apparently, the Devil Survivor 2 anime is a thing that’s happening.

Generally speaking, I’m happy with this.  I have my reservations about the quality, but I’m sure it’ll do well enough.  It certainly helps that whenever I think about the game, this is my typical reaction.

…Okay, that might be a bit of hyperbole.  But you get the idea.

For never was a story of more woe
Than this, of SPOILERS and her MORE SPOILERS!

February 18, 2013

I Hraet You -- An Inquisition

So if you’ve seen this blog for any amount of time (as in the amount of time it takes to let your eyes rove across the top half of any given page) you may know that I’ve had this little thing called I Hraet You on-site for a while now.  A long while.  If you’ve actually clicked on the thing, you may know that it’s what I tentatively call a “web serial novel” -- if only because I lack a better phrase.  If you didn’t know, then…well…it’s what I tentatively call a “web serial novel” -- if only because I lack a better phrase.

It’s my intent to try and make IHY something semi-noteworthy on the internet, as part of that whole “build an authorial platform” thingamajig.  It’s also my intention to keep writing chapters for IHY; I’ve got a fair number of wacky ideas and characters I’m hoping to get integrated as soon as possible (if you’ve read the latest chapter, you may know there’s a killer robot heading to Porbeagle).  So yeah, I’m excited about that.  But the thing that I want and need to prioritize is letting people know that IHY exists.  And beyond that, I want to try and bridge the gap between the writer and the audience.  I know there’ll always be a gap, and that creative vision > fan demand, but success should come from both presenting something worthwhile AND being mindful of, if not amicable with, an audience.

Which brings me to today’s post -- and a question I want to ask you intrepid visitors of Cross-Up.

February 15, 2013

Final Fantasy 13-2: Good Morning, Kupo! (Part 4)

I don’t think I can finish this game. 

I don’t think this needs explaining, but in case you’re just joining me here on Cross-Up, I might as well spell it out: I don’t like terrible things.  I like knowing that my time hasn’t been wasted, and that I’ve gained something from whatever little experience coming my way.  I DON’T like knowing that I can’t sit through something and walking away from it with a genuine headache not long after.  And that’s what Final Fantasy 13-2 does to me, every single time I try to play it.  Every.  Single.  Time.

And then there’s “The Subplot.”

Listen.  I actually don’t finish every game I play.  It’s not that I got bored with them, or even hated them; I just…you know, never got around to seeing them through to the end.  But there has never, ever been in a game in my possession that broke me, my spirit, and my very psyche as severely as The Subplot of this game.  To be honest, there have been times when games have made me actually stop playing for a little while, but that’s because they got an extremely positive emotional reaction out of me.  Skyward Sword made me stop.  Xenoblade Chronicles made me stop.  Hell, even One Piece: Pirate Warriors made me stop (though that may be more of a credit to the anime than the actual game).  But in their own ways, those games -- and a good game or even story in general -- have elements that can bring your progress to a halt.  They can give you memories you’ll keep with you for months and even years to come.  They DO NOT make you so furious and confused that you throw your controller aside and stare blankly at the screen for several minutes, stewing in silence at the sheer level of idiocy on display.  They DO NOT make you realize how much time you’ve wasted, and the fact that trying to play on until “it gets better” is only going to help you waste EVEN MORE TIME.

So I’m done.  I’m done with this game -- for now, at least.  Maybe if I cool off after weeks of not touching it, I’ll come back and be able to finish it.  But as it stands, I’m willing to let it sit in its case, hoping that maybe when I crack it back open, it’ll come out of its cocoon as a beautiful butterfly…or maybe Persona 5.  So if you’re weary of me poking holes in this game’s story, rest assured it won’t last for much longer.

I’ll get into The Subplot soon.  But first, we have to discuss something else.  Someone else.

February 14, 2013

Let's discuss Sengoku Basara...and more.

I have a confession to make: I’m not really a fan of the Dynasty Warriors series.  I mean, at one point I was -- when I played the fourth game on the PS2, I was pleasantly surprised.  I made a warrior of my own with a massive sword, and delighted in spinning about like a death-blender to the sound of some rockin’ tunes.  And I do have some fond memories of co-op with my brother, and scrambling to survive against Lu Bu (“It’s Lu Bu!  Lu Bu has come to destroy us!”  Classic line, that).  And the victory jubilee is one of my favorite jingles ever.

But of course, my brother couldn’t leave well enough alone.  After the fun we had with 4, he decided to pick up DW5.  Fair enough…except the game was starting to lose its luster, and its flaws more apparent than last time.  Brain-dead AI, way-too-simple combat, and allied units that would make YOU fail a mission just because they can’t be arsed to practice a bit of self-control.  But I still played it…and the same applied when he picked up a cheap copy of DW5: Empires.  The sheen had really started wearing thin by then -- though interestingly, I would be the one playing it more, since I tried to take over China in the campaign.  Of course, in the interstice between games my brother nabbed the Japanese-substitute Samurai Warriors 2.  And after that, DW6 (a game which, as I recall, boasted that its new mechanics were the ability to swim and climb ladders).  And after that, DW7.  And that’s ignoring the anime tie-ins like DW: Gundam and Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage...though as noted, One Piece: Pirate Warriors is the best of the bunch.    And THAT’S ignoring the fact that we both played the hell out of the GameCube title Mystic Heroes, which (by virtue of being by the same company) might as well have been Dynasty Warriors, But with Magic and Big-Headed Children.

In recent years he’s gotten better about buying so haphazardly, but I can still see flashes of his fanaticism every now and then.  Case in point: when he started recommending a purchase of Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes on the grounds that it was “Like Dynasty Warriors, but better”, I wanted to start clobbering him with the PS3.  And maybe a sledgehammer for good measure.  But I decided to give it a chance.  It couldn’t have been that bad -- and of course, it was made by Capcom, the once-kingly purveyors of stylish crazy action.  It certainly helped that he had to order the game online because nobody from GameStop had even heard of Sengoku Basara.

“Like Dynasty Warriors, but better.”  That’s actually a very apt description.

February 13, 2013

Spirit NOPEdown

Welcome, true believers (?) -- I come bearing fantastic news!  There’s no Spirit Showdown post this week!

Yeah…I’ve been thinking about it for a while, and I’m thinking that I’ll compress the final three Showdown posts into one.  It just seems like the right thing to do -- you know, a sort of “Cross-Up Special Event!” that’ll make some pretty big quakes across the site.  Chances are it’ll be something along the lines of what I did for the Majora’s Mask posts…even though that was infinitely more work than I would have liked and I hate myself for it and I promised myself I’d never do it again. 

But whatever.  What’s important is that the next Showdown post will show up a few weeks from now -- and if I can pull together something nice, I SHOULD be able to justify both the wait and the “special event” status.  Hopefully, MS Paint will continue to serve me well…but in the meantime, there are still a good dozen posts for you to read over if you so deign.  Let that tide you over.

So that’s where we are on that.  So if you’re one of the eight people that care about the Showdown, hang tight.  If you don’t, then this should be fantastic news -- along with the fact that I’ve got some very interesting posts planned.  One of them might be up as early as tomorrow.  And another one may very well involve a certain transporter…

February 11, 2013

Action Movies -- An All-Points Bulletin

So I have a question: is there something about Nicolas Cage that I need to know?

I’m asking this because -- as I’ve said before -- I’m not exactly the most competent when it comes to movie trends. I know who Nicolas Cage is, obviously, but the qualities of his filmography are lost on me.  Is he generally considered to be a good actor?  Is he bad?  Is he just plain weird?  Does he have a habit of appearing in terrible movies? 

That last one deserves a bit of focus, because…well, I seem to have gotten “unlucky” when it comes to Nic Cage movies. 

February 9, 2013

February 6, 2013

Spirit Showdown -- Round 4 Recap

 And here we are.  Three more posts are uploaded and set, and once again, it’s time for a short reprieve while I massage my sore fingers.  (I’m noticing that I have a weird way of italicizing things; I bend my left thumb really far back to reach the CTRL key.)  But enough about my hands; I’ve never even entertained the thought of becoming a hand model, and I’m not about to start now.  There’s writing to be done, and a battle to be won…in more ways than one.

Insert your own joke about rhyming here.  Preferably one featuring hot dogs in some capacity.

February 4, 2013

Let's discuss some good JRPGs.

“Better than Final Fantasy.”

That’s a phrase I throw out a lot whenever my brother asks me what I think of a JRPG I’m trying out for the first time -- usually one I say in the most deadpan, bitter tone I can muster.  Of course, we’re talking about post-FF13 Final Fantasy, not any of the other ones…though where exactly the series took a nosedive will vary from one person to the next.  In my case, 13 was the one that I consider to be an affront and betrayal.  And pretty much everything since then has not only affirmed that there’s still plenty of hope for the genre, but that in many respects Final Fantasy has been surpassed both before and after 13’s release.  There’s always a possibility that Squeenix can pull out of its tailspin with some massive changes, or the release of Versus 13 that will supposedly restore the faith (though I’m increasingly worried about how it’ll turn out), but until then there are plenty of games that’ll scratch that itch.  And I’m going to start naming them here and now.  Whether they’re underrated, unknown, or just plain under…a rug or something…let’s have a good long talk about some JRPGs.  Or…part one of a long talk.  Probably.  You know me.

...And this is the part where I wonder how many people actually read that paragraph instead of staring at the picture on its immediate right.

Well, whatever.  Go right ahead -- read on, if you’re looking for something to tickle your fancy.  And who knows?  Maybe you’ll get more pictures of Christina Hendricks along the way. 

And that’s how you dangle a carrot on a stick.

February 1, 2013

Final Fantasy 13-2: Good Morning, Kupo! (Part 3)

You know what always confused me?  Sonic fan art. 

No, I’m not talking about THAT kind of Sonic fan art.  I mean the original character stuff -- the stuff that has all these multi-colored hedgehogs looking mean and tough and powerful, preferably in a stance that’s a dead ringer for a Super Saiyan.  I never understood the mentality behind that.  Sure, in the games Sonic and Shadow and even Silver got to go all gold and glowy, but we’re talking about a series built around characters that roll along the ground and ram their bodies into enemies.  Just think about Sonic Adventure 2; Sonic and Shadow both go gold, but apparently their best attack strategy for defeating the ultimate life-form fused with a colony hurtling toward Earth is to ram their faces into the pulsing boils all over its body.

Imagine my surprise when I see Sonic ’06 -- via the Game Grumps -- and lest my eyes deceived me, Shadow threw around energy blasts, furiously flailed in midair attacked foes with precise yet powerful punches and kicks, and activated his Kaioken.  Now, granted, Shadow’s ridiculously-expanded repertoire would have more impact if most of his opponents could absorb more than one hit, or if the black hedgehog actually HAD to fight every enemy every time instead of just running past them at subsonic speed, but I guess it’s not much to ponder too deeply.  Shadow’s tough now!  He’s cool!  He’s powerful!  He’s the ultimate life-form, and the best way to get that point across is with completely extraneous gameplay mechanics!

Reminds me of a certain other game.  Though the name escapes me at the moment…I think it starts with Final or something.  Well, whatever.  Let’s move on.