Ah, the Tales of series. This series of Japanese RPGs is like a comfort food and/or guilty pleasure for me. Anime art style? Check. Voice acting? Check. Some of the most classic JRPG tropes ever conceived? Check. Over-the-top flashy attacks? Check and check. Not to say that the anime art style is something I look for specifically in games. What I do like in a game’s aesthetics, however, is a disregard for reality in favor of vibrant colors and an imaginative world. The Tales series has both of these in spades.
Xenoblade. Or Xenoblade Chronicles, as the game is called in Europe and North America. You may have heard of this game. Or you might not have heard of it at all. Either way, I’m going to go into depth as to just why this game is A) deserving of your notice and B) freaking amazing.
Early last month I was fortunate enough to attend MAGFest, a gaming and music convention held south of Washington DC. This particular MAGFest was the third one that I’ve attended, so it’s not like it was a particularly new experience for me. On second thought — it was new and different in some ways. They moved to a much larger venue and thus no longer had a 3000 person attendee limit. Otherwise, it was the MAGFest that I know and love.
In any case, this year the major guest at MAGFest happened to be Nobuo Uematsu, world famous music composer for the Final Fantasy series. And not only him, but his new band, the Earthbound Papas, were there as well. They performed an amazing concert on the third night of the con and had a Q&A session on the last day. I was surprised to learn that all but one of the members of the Earthbound Papas were former Squaresoft/Square Enix employees. I couldn’t help but think, “Man, Square’s shed a lot of talented staff over the years.”
Meet the Earthbound Papas (interpreter on the right)
I am terrible about updating this blog. But it’s a new year, and thus I will attempt to breathe some life into this! In any case, I really do enjoy writing in this blog. I just find a hard time condensing my thoughts into one post. And I always want to include every single thought I have on a particular subject. So I’ll try more posts, but make them shorter. And hey, I can always return to the same topic again. It’s my blog, after all.
Another reason I haven’t been writing is that I’ve been spending a lot of my free time playing Xenoblade instead. Coincidentally, this game is what my next post will most likely be on. Or not. I’ve got a lot to say about this game. To put it quite simply, it’s amazing.
Happy 2012 everyone. I hope to write a lot more this year. About games, books, movies, and whatever else I can think of. Mostly games, though. Probably.
One of my least favorite questions is the following: “So, what kind of music do you like?” Usually my response is to stall while thinking of some normal, acceptable answer to supply instead of the truth. Usually I default to, “Japanese pop” (which is somewhat true) or sometimes even “classical,” which is the closest I can think to the kind of music I actually like.
As someone who played and loved Final Fantasy Tactics (FFT) back in the day on the Playstation and spends way too much time on gaming news websites, it was likely only a matter of time before I started hearing the name Yasumi Matsuno. His was the brilliant mind behind the convoluted (and unfortunately, badly translated) story featured in FFT that was unlike any other I’d ever encountered in the Final Fantasy series. Considering that FFT was Matsuno’s first foray into the series to begin with, it makes sense. Before that he’d worked on Ogre Battle: March of the Black Queen and Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together. Both of these games feature heavy plots with a strong emphasis on political turmoil and strife. Another important feature in both of these games is a focus on moral choices made by the player.
While I haven’t played Ogre Battle, I’ve recently had a chance to try out Tactics Ogre‘s remake for the PSP. One thing that really stuck out to me in this game is how much can change in the story depending on what decisions I made throughout the game. The game features three moral paths that the player can follow throughout the story: Law/Order, Chaos, and Neutral. The Law/Order path is characterized by decisions in which one follows the orders of their superiors. The Chaos path, on the other hand, involves decisions in which one spurns the decisions of their superiors in favor of following what they believe to be their own justice. Neutral, I can only assume, is a mix of the former two. I went on the Law/Order path in my own game, which involved agreeing to slaughter innocent people. It wasn’t an easy decision to make and there are some interesting consequences. On the other hand, choosing to go against the main character’s lord in the Chaos path doesn’t result in a very rosy scenario, either. No matter what decision you make in this game, the main character will pay for it in some way. Some things will go well, while others will inevitably go horribly wrong.