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

August 30, 2013

So What Makes for a Good Drama?

(Alternate post title: Do Video Games Need More Drama?)

(Alternate [alternate] post title: Calm Like a [Drama] Bomb)

(Alternate [alternate {alternate}] post title: HNGHFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF)

…Okay.  Let’s get serious now.

August 29, 2013

I Hraet You (87)

Beat 87: If You Say It, They Will Crack

“Sorry.  But your time’s up.”

Deirdre held up a hand, and brushed nonchalantly at a few bangs.  “Just how long have you been trying to seal the deal here?  And how many times have you come up empty-handed?”  She shook her head.  “Face it.  There isn’t a shred of proof you could offer, and not a thing you can do to change the world -- yours, mine, or hers.  You’ve just been wasting your time here -- so why don’t you just accept that and go with what comes easiest?”  She turned an eye upon Sheila -- fidgeting, and unable to look anyone in the eye, but still offering a clumsy nod. 

“So you would rather let things stay the way they are, rather than try to improve your lot in life?” Lloyd asked.  He covered his mouth.  “I know the O’Leary women can be a bit stubborn, but to go this far…I fail to see the gain from it.”

“I…th-that’s because I…”  Sheila shook her head, letting a few globs of snot slide across her face in the process.  “If things can’t change -- if I can’t change -- then that’d make all your effort pointless, right?  So maybe…I-I dunno, maybe this is as far as I can go.”  She found just enough spirit to look down at Lloyd.  “Maybe it’s better if you just give up.”

Lloyd’s brow started to tense.  “So let me see if I understand this correctly.  The real Miss O’Leary would prefer to bring this venture to an end and risk having her body commandeered by her alter ego.  Meanwhile, the unreal Miss O’Leary would prefer to have her creator suppressed -- if not erased outright -- even if that could lead to any number of catastrophes, metaphysical or not.  Do I have that right?”

August 27, 2013

Let's discuss Xenoblade Chronicles (Part 2).

You know what?  I just thought of some flaws for this game.  And it only took me two months!

--One of my biggest regrets with this game is that I didn’t get all of the “Heart-to-Heart” sequences scattered about…but I wonder if that was my fault, or the devs’ overestimation of the player’s dedication.  Unless I played the game wrong (a real possibility, I admit), in order to get these special sequences you have to find them in specific spots all over the game world -- which, need I remind you, are MASSIVE.  But that’s not enough; the characters have to have a high enough affinity for each other to even start the sequence, and the best way to do that is to have them as your active party…which I didn’t.  And even then you have to answer questions during them that you have no way of knowing the answer to.  It feels like a needlessly complicated system that locks you out of character insights, rather than promoting them.

--I’m not going to take back what I said about the battle system (i.e. I think it’s awesome), but I don’t think the terrain is used as effectively as it could be.  It’s true that you can blow enemies off high ledges to win your fights, but outside of that there really isn’t too much done with it in the middle of a fight.  If it was, then a late-game boss wouldn’t have been as much of a pain in the ass as it was; because of its size, the small paths you can fight on, and the acid surrounding you, it’s more than common for you to get blown -- or even brushed -- into pools of the stuff so you can watch your party melt before your eyes.  Why that stipulation to battle would be added in the game’s later skirmishes is a mystery best left for the ages.

…And I think that’s it for now.  At least, those are the big ones.  So with that out of the way, let’s get to the game’s strength: it’s story.


…All right, time to ruin the game for you.

August 26, 2013

I Hraet You (86)

Beat 86: Pulling Two Out of a Hat

Lloyd took another deep breath, resting his palms on the desk as he inhaled and exhaled.  Just a few moments ago his heart would have thumped louder than anything the ladies onstage could have produced -- even if they’d started shouting at full blast.  But now he could hear everything clearly.  The hum of their failing stars.  Their muted yet panicked whimpers -- from the recoiling Sheila as well as the humbled Deirdre.  And most of all, the thoughts whirling about inside his head -- a storm of words, linking together into a single chain of reason.

He took one last breath, and looked up at the pair.  It’s time to bring this audition to an end.

“Miss O’Leary,” he began.  He shifted his eyes from Sheila to Deirdre.  “And Miss O’Leary.  I understand what plagues you so -- why my words have dealt you both a critical blow.  I had originally assumed that the reason for an imaginary friend was to honor and idealize the mother figure.  But I was mistaken; the true intention was to carry out revenge, and make a target out of the woman who had slighted you so dearly.  That was the reason for your original form being the madam.  And the reason for your current form -- the reason for your reaction -- is an understandable one.”

Sheila and Deirdre stared at Lloyd with probing gazes.  He knew they wanted an answer.  And he was happy to give one.

“It’s guilt.”

August 22, 2013

RE: Tales of Xillia

So the other day I was talking with my brother while we were sitting down for a gaming session, and the conversation ended up shifting to --what else? -- Final Fantasy 13.  He still hadn’t finished 13-2 (and I suppose he still plans to, even though he admitted it’s kind of boring and the story makes no sense), but he likes bringing it up on a whim because…it’s a game that exists, I guess.  Anyway, this time around he said to me, “I think Lightning is a pretty cool character.”

There was silence between us for about fifteen seconds.  And then I said, “I don’t want to play video games with you anymore.”

We still did, of course.  But the phrase “divergent tastes” has never been more applicable than at that moment.  If you’ve been following this blog, I don’t think I need to tell you how I feel about this so-called Lightning Saga…and I’m pretty sure I went into grave detail explaining just why I think the titular character isn’t just poorly-conceived, but accidentally made into the biggest villain the franchise has ever known.   So yeah, I’m not the biggest fan.  The mere thought of that saga is enough to make me cringe.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I’m forced to come to the realization that Tales of Xillia is Namco Bandai’s version of the original FF13.  The only difference is that they do it RIGHT.

I Hraet You (85)

Beat 85: To the Chewy Chocolate Center and Beyond

Deirdre hummed to herself, and pressed a finger to her chin.  “Oh my…I think I’m starting to fall for you, Lloyd.  All that passion coming out so freely…it’s enough to make my heart beat faster.  I don’t suppose staying a while is in the cards right now?”  She winked at him and blew him a kiss.

But Lloyd didn’t even register it.  The kiss, her voice, even her presence; he just stood his ground, his palms digging into the desk and threatening to snap it in two.  His stare had intensified to an almost lethal degree; the heat it cast could have started a fire, and each eye shone brighter than one raging in the wilds.  If he could have, he would have gladly given that light to Sheila.  She needed it desperately -- her stars had long since started their final, pathetic spasms.

But that was fine.  Lloyd had made his decision.  He’d made his stand, his choice, and his pledge.  And now…

“It’s time, Miss O’Leary.  Let’s begin.”

Sheila shuddered and fell to her knees, but found just enough energy to look up at Lloyd.  “I-it’s hopeless,” she said breathlessly -- between pained breaths, no less.  “I…I’m…I’m useless.  There’s…nothing left for me to do…I-I..I’m just too…worthless…”


August 20, 2013

RE: Dragon's Crown

You know what I just realized?  I don’t know what it means to be “old-school.” 

That’s a description that’s popped up a couple of times in discussions about Dragon’s Crown, and I’d agree that it’s a good adjective to use (and on top of that, I agree with others that think it’s a good game).  But what exactly does it mean to be old-school?  I suppose that means being a part of the gaming chronology for any period before this current console generation…but where’s the cutoff point?  What’s the system that definitively defines who’s a part of the old-school collective?  The Nintendo 64?  The Commodore 64?  I’ve been gaming for a while, but apparently my mom was seriously into the arcade Pac-Man games at one point.  Fancy that.

And that only begs the question of what capacity one has to play games to qualify as old-school.  Lines have been drawn this generation between casual and hardcore players -- both with their own strengths and weaknesses -- but there’s a lot to consider both in terms of games and the players themselves.  I mean sure, I’ve owned games, but for the longest time (and even to this day) it’s my brother clearing them while I watch.  It’s almost contradictory that I’ve spent so much time being a passive observer for an interactive medium.   So what’s the deciding factor?  Who judges who’s a part of the club?  Are there symposiums held in order to sort out all the vital details and ruminate on the particulars of games of old?

…Whatever, Dragon’s Crown is still pretty friggin’ good.

August 19, 2013

I Hraet You (84)

Beat 84: Now THIS is Hot Blood!

It’s at times like these where I have to wonder what sort of deity I’ve irritated to reach this point, Lloyd thought with sagging shoulders.  But he perked up quickly, and focused his gaze dead ahead.  But even if I’ve incurred the wrath of heaven, that’s no excuse for me to stop now.  I need to figure this out.  And soon.

He watched Deirdre’s stars closely.  One fully dimmed; the other, well beyond half-empty.  It almost looked as if some cruel cartoonist had taken his eraser to the star’s light, rubbing away every last bit of gleam -- of hope -- he could reach.  Despite that, Deirdre looked remarkably calm; she’d dropped all pretenses of looking comely and seductive, and merely stood in place with crossed arms and a slight smile.  If Lloyd didn’t know any better, he’d have thought she’d found inner peace.

“Better work fast, sweet cheeks,” said Deirdre.  “If you don’t figure out what you’ve missed, then you’re going to have to live with the consequences.”

August 16, 2013

Let's Get Beautiful

You know, I’ve been thinking.  (Cue the panicked shrieks of the masses as they run desperately for cover.)

So word on the street is that Senran Kagura is coming to the West.  That’s interesting, I suppose.  I can’t personally summon up too much interest in the game, but if it’s set to make plenty of gamers happy -- and of course let the devs offer up something to a wider audience -- then I’m glad this is something that’s happening.  Of course, I can’t help but get a little nervous about reactions to the game being released; the whole Dragon’s Crown brouhaha is still a sore point for a lot of people, and has opened up debates that have likely done nothing more than spin in circles at 8000 RPM. 

I’d argue that Senran Kagura has its own merits as a game and a series -- artistic merit, creative liberties, etc., etc. -- but even so it’s a bit harder to defend than Dragon’s Crown.  That game has more overt throwbacks to fantasy artists and games of the past, with its eyebrow-raising designs a consequence of applying the amped-up aesthetic and design philosophy to everything and everyone.  It’s very likely -- probable, even -- that Senran Kagura exists on the same axis (as an over-the-top parody of fanservice-laden elements, or if not that then winking tributes), but the line between playing it straight and playing it for laughs is…er…hazy.

So why is it that the more I hear about the game, the more I’m intrigued by it?

August 15, 2013

I Hraet You (83)

Beat 83: Well, Probability IS a Part of Math…

“Wrong?  What do you mean ‘wrong’?” Lloyd asked.

Sheila shook her head.  “I-I know you mean well, but…even if you are the director, you’ve still made some pretty big mistakes.”  She rubbed her nose, all too wary of the snot dribbling atop her finger.  “Sorry, but…I think there’s a saying out there about making assumptions.  Or something.  P-probably.”

I think the saying she’s thinking of has something to do with asses, Lloyd thought.  And if what she says is true, then I’ve been making one of myself here.  His eyes went back and forth between Sheila and Deirdre; the latter had regained some semblance of her posture, but now she looked as if she’d been locked in a sauna -- sweating, with arms pulled in close, and no shortage of frustration in her face.  The former, at least, stood her ground -- but she’d never looked confident in the first place, and wasn’t about to anytime soon.

So close, yet so far.  I’m certain I’ve made strides toward the conclusion, but to be rejected by Miss O’Leary so directly…could I have gotten off-track somewhere along the line?  If so, perhaps my claims of seeing her heart were a bit premature.

August 13, 2013

Two Games Enter 2: The Cage Match

Ah.  Nothing puts me in a better mood than a good game.  And with this latest bounty, the healing process has begun.  The Last of Us, disappointing?  Pffft.  Forget about it!  I got me some better games!

Grand games, indeed.  Which is where you come in, people.  Let’s have a quick little chat, shall we?

August 12, 2013

I Hraet You (82)

Beat 82: That’ll Take the Wind Outta Your Sails

Sheila sucked a few gallons of snot back into her system, and took a deep breath.  “O-okay.  I guess this is it, then,” she said to herself -- though more than loud enough for Lloyd to hear from the floor below.  She reached into her shirt and pulled out a roll of papers.  “Um…sorry you had to see that just now.  Things can get a little…uh…weird when I’m around.”

Lloyd’s eyes darted to the wall.  Sure enough, Deidre’s legs still dangled from it like a mounted trophy.  “I can imagine.  Although I am glad you made your grand debut.  Any more delay, and I suspect I’d be little more than a smoldering smear.”  He turned back to Sheila and nodded.  “I’m thankful you decided to step in, Miss O’Leary.”

“Y-yeah, well…um…you know…”  She pressed her fingers together.  “It’s just -- I-I’m kinda responsible for this mess I’m in.  I mean, that girl is…well, she’s a part of me.  And I guess I need to start taking responsibility for her.”  Her eyes shifted around the room.  “But, um, I never thought I’d be doing that in person.  This whole thing is kinda nuts -- I-I mean, I thought I was just coming here for an audition, and then all of a sudden I’m drop-kicking my imaginary friend.”  She scratched at her temple.  “And I think there was something about you turning into a girl…”

“Oh, so you saw that,” Lloyd said with a nervous laugh.  “Not my finest hour, that.”

August 9, 2013

The Volties: My Top 10 Favorite Movies

There’s been too much negativity on this blog recently.

It’s been a chain of despair -- one troubled product to the next, or at least things that make me think harder than any normal person should.  Man of Steel was crushingly disappointing.  The Last of Us came out as a confused tale (and more confused game) hamstrung by creators and conventions.  The Wolverine had good intentions, but suffered from dull and almost-contradictory drama.  Percy Jackson is just awful.  It wasn’t my plan to do posts on four less-than-savory products almost one after another, but I guess that’s just the way it goes sometimes.

I say it’s time to turn the tide.  And this post should be just the thing to start doing the trick.

August 8, 2013

I Hraet You (81)

Beat 81: Overpowering the Overpowering…With Power

“Wha…what the hell?”  Deirdre stared at the flaming vines with wide eyes.  In spite of her trembling body -- or likely because of it -- she swept a hand about to shift their aim.  But it didn’t work; the pair of vines remained locked on to her curvy form.  Neither of them moved, but the threat of violence proved more than enough to make Deirdre start sweating. 

“So my theory proved right, then,” said Lloyd.  He kept navigating the vine-laden walls of the pit, but at a much more casual pace than before; they hadn’t stopped, but they’d slowed down enough to create the illusion.  “Whatever you can imagine becomes real -- but as an imaginary being in your own right, you’re bound by a set rules and limitations.”

“What are you playing at, boy?”

“I’m afraid I’m not playing at anything.  Though more than likely, the one who’s being ‘played’ here is you.”  His eyes swept through the pit.  “Since the moment this venture started, we haven’t been alone.  You may have been the first to approach me, but you did so in tandem with one other.”


“Isn’t it obvious?  Miss O’Leary is here.  Or rather, everywhere.”

August 5, 2013

I Hraet You (80)

Beat 80: If Only It Were Rabbit Season…

“’Now I can see your heart’?  What, is that supposed to be your catch phrase or something?” Deirdre asked.  “Because if you ask me, it’s a pretty bad one, little boy.  Even the worst pick-up line is better than that.”

Lloyd’s finger drooped, and he rubbed his crown sheepishly.  “Well, truth be told it’s a bit of a work in progress.  Though you could argue the same about my mere existence…but let’s not dilly-dally with semantics at the moment.”  He resumed his normal posture, and gave Deirdre a nod.  “There’s a battle to be won, after all.  And it’s thanks to the dear madam that I have just enough of a foundation for my offense.”

“So, you’re planning on making me go gentle into the night?”

Lloyd shook his head.  “I intend to save the two of you in one fell swoop.  You are -- or at least, I hope you are -- two halves of the same coin.  To remove one is to restrict the other.  Therefore, I’ve but one option.”

“And that is?”

“To reconnect the disconnected.”  Lloyd thrust his finger at her once more.  “Before this is over, the O’Leary women shall be as one.”

August 2, 2013

Percy Jackson and...the WORST Movie Ever?

Here’s a hot tip: if your movie has a scene featuring a goat-man dancing in Las Vegas to the tune of “Poker Face”, you’ve made a terrible movie.

And now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s chat about Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief.  Because I’m dumb and love punishing myself for existing.

I Hraet You (79)

Beat 79: An Origin Story?  Nah, Man

Lloyd rubbed his hair.  “Er, my apologies, ma’am, but I think I’m missing something here.  You made it sound as if you were responsible for Miss O’Leary’s problems.  And as her mother, surely that isn’t the case.”

But Jane gave him a brisk nod, staring ahead as Deirdre started to drag the soap out of her mouth.  “I’m afraid that’s exactly the case, Lloyd.  If it wasn’t for me, maybe you’d be having an easier time here -- and maybe my daughter and I would be better off.”  She lowered her gaze.  “I guess I botched this whole motherhood business somewhere along the line.  I had a hunch that I’d done something wrong, but seeing something like this before my eyes…it’s the kind of thing that’ll make you regret ever deciding to ride up to Make-Out Ridge after the big dance.”

“I think this conversation is in danger of being derailed, ma’am.”  Lloyd looked up at the ring above Jane’s head -- still shining, but with each passing second its innards emptied further.  “We’d best cooperate more efficiently.  I doubt I’ll be able to do anything without you.”

“You’ve got that wrong, Lloyd.”  Jane shook her head, but smiled regardless.  “I’ll be sure to support you however I can.  But the one who’s going to win this thing -- the one who’s going to save my daughter -- is you.”