The Legend of Zelda – Breath of the Wild

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Sometimes, a company puts out a bad game. Square Enix, for example, decided what fans of the Final Fantasy series truly wanted was the experience of a steaming dump being flushed through a long straight expanse of cyberpunk sewer pipe. And Nintendo put out Skyward Sword, assuming that long time Zelda fans wanted to double down on the incessant tutorials from Captain Obvious the companion character. But while Square decided to rectify their problem with two sequels worth of more sewer pipes, Nintendo took a long hard look at themselves and decided to go back to their roots.

Enter Breath of the Wild, Nintendo’s re-interpretation of the original NES gameplay. Appealing not just to modern players, but people like me who have played their games since the eighties, Breath of the wild evokes a sense of that past by employing a non-linear, open world, de-emphasizing the mandatory nature of items and casting a girl I went to school with as Princess Zelda.

Okay, Nintendo….that’s an oddly specific move on your part. I gotta be honest; I’m flattered, but that’s a little on the creepy side. I fail to see how that would appeal to anyone except me and like a dozen people I went to school with.

It’s a good choice on their part, though. We were in a handful of plays together, and I even played one of her backup dancers when she played the demonic seductress Lola in “Damn Yankees.” I have pretty good memories of Trish. I mean, how awkward would that be if I had ever dated or even had a crush on Zelda? I don’t think I could stand playing Zelda if I constantly had to be jealous of a mime who dresses in a full-length tunic and pals around with faeries. And Trish pulls off a pretty impressive British accent, considering she grew up in a town where people talk like someone held a Canadian accent face-down in a toilet for about seven minutes.


This is how people talk where I come from.

The game? Oh yeah. It was good enough. I’m not supearance on Iron Chef being one of the goals of the quest. I’m pretty sure Link just went and bought health potions, rather than spending a dozen hours brewing up food that, let’s be honest, probably just went into his sack and grew fuzz. I mean, sure it restored all my hearts…but what if I needed that effect of 20 seconds of cold resistance?

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At least he’s a pig again.

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Wait, you’re not a televangelist, are you?

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Oh dear god, I take it back. Keep the rupies, just go back into the pod!

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Hey, back off buddy. You can’t assume my cultural knowledge is the same as yours. Someone needs a little sensitivity training.

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The Deku Tree looks like you just crapped on his lawn.

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Huh. How about that. Usually that doesn’t happens unless I’m on a few mushrooms myself.

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Kabuki-posing fish me. Don’t you just want to be this guy’s friend?

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Okay, gotta be honest, the attention to detail is pretty fucking awesome.

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Uh…is that…is that a sex thing?

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At the end of his dance, sparkles shoot out of his maracas. I swear that’s not a euphemism.

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Uh, Link, you know you’re supposed to wipe it down before you sheathe it, right?

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Then we’ll see you in the sequel, Trish.

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When these guys play hide and seek, they go hard core. I imagine at least a dozen koroks die of exposure each year due to untalented seekers.

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Uh…you wanna help me out a bit?

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These guys. Apparently a cross between a walrus, my cat Ozzie, and Mr. T.

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And this is why we need male protagonists…because how else would we dress up so fabulously!

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The, uh…porcelain shrine?

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Finally got that Tremors reboot we were hoping for!

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Nintendo trying to cut a deal with Lego.

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On the other end of Hyrule, a giant cat is going nuts.

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Just a woman infatuated with her ball. Nothing to see here.

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Oh, that’s right…horses like food, don’t they?

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…ouch.

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Casual Fridays for the questing industry.

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Wait, you’re not my local congressman, are you?

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Xenoblade Chronicles II

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First up after my triumphant return…Breath of the Wild! But honestly, I don’t remember much about that right now, so here’s Xenoblade Chronicles II.

Great literature makes us think about difficult questions, and Xenoblade II is no exception. I swear wholeheartedly it’s the first time I asked myself how sentient a sex doll has to be before the hamster overlord that created it is morally obligated to ask for consent.

I can’t quite figure out if the interspecies lust for an adolescent robot is an unfortunate trend, or the game’s subtle way of acknowledging it has a Pokemon complex when it comes to tits. The game’s core mechanic revolves around collecting “blades,” superhuman cheerleaders who are intrinsically bonded to you and cheer you on, giving you super powers in combat.

Yeah, I totally see how this plays into the male power fantasies but…god damn it, Ms. Sarkesian, just this once I don’t give a damn. I might just risk the reputation that comes from digitally collecting people if I can finally have that bond with the hot blonde girl with massive cans like the girl I was just friends with in high school.

Oh, and it’s a good, solid game that improves upon the flaws of the earlier. And all that. Now lets get to a few of the literally hundreds of photos I snapped of this baby.

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Even fucking Chewbacca can’t compare to this…even if Chewie can keep it in his pants.

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*snickers like a twelve-year-old*

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This is literally how I feel when Hollywood puts out another shitty reboot and I get three hits on my blog from someone looking for BDSM on my Shadow Hearts 2 entry.

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The game is actually breathtaking…and not just for the women.

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*snickers like a school boy*

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Wait…are they going to recap the plot of Avatar: The Last Airbender?

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Shouldn’t you be wearing a gas mask when you ask that?

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Classy dialogue.

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The scriptwriters accidentally transcribed the conversation in the writers’ room.

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Mythra, I can guarantee I have never focused on anything nearly as hard as I am now. (*snickers…hard as I am now*)

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Masterpon Tora is apparently Master Roshi in disguise.

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Xenoblade plays to a key audience of boys with Napoleon complexes who all secretly desire to wake up with hot girls in their beds…

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…while still speaking for what would happen if adolescent me had ever woken up with a hot girl in my bed.

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I have like forty shots of this capybara. Apparently I really wanted to show this to you.

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Just some roly-poly hamster women in a steam bath. I don’t see what the problem is.

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For a combination sex-battle bot, Poppi actually has a lot of personality.

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There’s a rack that holds up its own towel.

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Game says what we’re all thinking.

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Okay Jake…stop taking pictures of the hot blonde chick.

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Press X!

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Seriously….I really must have thought this capybara was the coolest thing since Mythra’s chest.

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Day of the Triffids, except not as British and stupid.

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Okay…one more tit shot.

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*Snickers like I was back in sex ed*

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By the time this article posts, this will probably be Trump’s new press secretary.

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And for the ladies….

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Help me Obi-wan Kenobi

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Seriously, the creepy-crawlies in New Zealand make me want to move back to Minnesota.

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Rocks friends.

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The Xenoblade world’s equivalent of a chain gang.

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So now its…better?….that a hamster built a sex bot?

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Don’t get excited…he’s trying to convince a human female team member to take a bath with him…thinking she’s a guy.

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These guys.

Welcome Back

Thanks, Internet, for your support, which as usual came in an avalanche that wouldn’t dampen my socks.  I guess that’s God’s way of saying not only do I not get readers, I can’t even enjoy a nice snow day out of my whole ordeal.  In the past several months, I broke everything off in the U.S., packed up and moved to New Zealand. I had hoped it would be this wonderful, unspoiled Middle Earth where the weather was always nice and the people wouldn’t try to lynch you for saying such radical things as science is real. While parts of that turned out to be true enough (and I at least found myself with a full-time job for the first time since I lived in Korea), I also found myself in Auckland, which is the municipal equivalent of getting your head stuck between the balusters of the stairs, a concrete hell of traffic congestion that I doubt Tolkien had in mind when he envisioned Middle Earth. And if the city wasn’t a disappointing enough place to find myself, the sole antidepressant that doesn’t cause an avalanche of side-effects isn’t available here. So I’m trying to adjust to the standard drugs, which will make you feel good enough at the mere cost of not being able to sleep at night or stay awake during the day, gaining obscene amounts of weight and still starving all the time, having dysentery and constipation re-enact Street Fighter II in your gut, and have all sexual functions melt down like Chernobyl.  What could be greater?

 

So at the nadir of my existential quandry, after swearing off writing altogether so long as everyone on earth refuses to read my work, I get pinged by WordPress: “Thank you for auto-renewing!” …fuck. Figures that the universe would know my one weakness; my projection of sentience onto inanimate abstractions.  So I guess if I’m paying for it, I can at least use this blog to chronicle the games I’ve played.  I don’t really feel like crafting the full-length articles I did before, but I’ll at least draw something up every time I finish something new. And fortunately I don’t have much of a backlog, having recently finished a few 100+ hour games.

 

 

An important announcement…

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, first of all—thank you—and second, you’ve probably noticed something is lacking. It’s been harder and harder to get entries written, hence the fact that I’ve been posting bi-monthly, which sounds less like a writing habit and more like some sort of irregular menstrual fetish, and let’s face it: nobody wants to look at that. So here’s the deal: I’ve been struggling with depression. Not the sad, mopey Eeyore depression (although if anyone left me a comment, chances are right now I’d respond with “Thanks for noticing me.”), but more of the manic, crazy Robin Williams depression. But unfortunately, even if I’ve been so fortunate as to have a debilitating brain disorder that makes me want to make others happy, no brain disorder can bestow upon me the same brilliance, talent, or charisma as Mork.

This blog is viewed by upwards of dozens of people per…month. And I’ll not kid myself. A few of you might be shy, but avid readers who love video games, but the vast majority of views I get are people searching for BDSM who stumble upon my Shadow Hearts: Covenant article by mistake. Between that and my Brand New Youtube Channel! viewed consistently by…my wife…when she remembers…and I often feel like an accomplished professor giving a brilliant lecture to a dead log.

Is it worthwhile to write just for myself? To an extent. I do kind of like having an extensive record of all the games I’ve played. But then there are the months where I can do everything right—take my medication on time every day, get regular exercise even though exercise is miserable, sit out in the sunshine, and eat healthy—and that raises my mood about high enough that I can manage to get out of bed in the morning and occasionally shower. Or eat breakfast. (But doing them both on the same day isn’t looking good.)

So I’m currently sitting on the task of writing about three different randomizers (Legend of Zelda: like playing a new game every time, Super Metroid: like playing the same game every time, but sometimes starting off with the screw attack, and the Super Metroid Link to the Past Crossover: easily the biggest time waster since Skyrim, but fun as hell), as well as Shadowrun for the SNES (it’s like someone took William Gibson’s Neuromancer and infused it with the worst parts of point-and-click-adventures and ineffective RPG elements), and Brent Weeks’ Lightbringer Novels (Amazing fucking story about sorcerers imbued with the power of 3-D printing). Plus I’m playing through Breath of the Wild, which I could totally augment by contacting my old classmate Trish Sumersett for an interview with the voice of Princess Zelda (true story…in high school, I was in “Damn Yankees” with her. She was the beautiful seductress indentured to Satan. I was scrub baseball player #2.).

Will any of that get done? I have no fucking clue. Honestly, the future of this blog is pretty up in the air right now, and I really have to figure out if I’m struggling to write because I don’t enjoy not having an audience or if I’m struggling to write because depression is sapping enjoyment out of everything I do. So…it’s July as I’m writing this and you’re seeing this post about two weeks after my Xenogears article. (Hey, it’s my 35th birthday today! And already with the midlife crisis. Damn, I’m an early bloomer!) I’ve probably been working in the background to get something done, either personally or professionally, but let me ask a favor of you:

If you do read my blog, let me know. Leave a comment (or two or three). Talk about your favorite game or series. Do you think I’m worth reading? Do you just scan the pictures and the captions? Do I even play games you care about? Not fishing for complements…be completely honest whatever you say. You just don’t have any idea how helpful it will be to know I’m actually reaching some sort of audience.

If I had some cool catch phrase I used for signing off, I’d put it here. But I don’t.

-Jake

Xenogears – PS1

 

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…one of the minor enemies, actually.

The pathology of an independent, freelance game critic such as myself is not unlike the madman who plunges head-first into human waste hoping that, unlike the last two-dozen piles of excrement, there might be something good inside. I generally prefer to think of it like the Shawshank Redemption, that someday I’ll emerge victorious and stand triumphantly cheering in the rain as I taste the sweet, longed-for joys of pure freedom; unfortunately, I’ll have to swim through a lot of shit to get there. I don’t know. Maybe making a habit of criticizing games just teaches me to look for the negative, or maybe having just a modicum of disposable income and enough tech skills to emulate just about anything I can’t afford has piled up the shitty games that look interesting at first glance. Fortunately, every so often there’s a game that, even after two decades of play, still does everything right. A game so well-conceived that it’s almost depressing how fucking awesome it is. A story so strong it empowers you, makes you feel invincible. “Yes!” you cry to the heavens. “I am important! I have made contact with the divine and thrown the yokes and shackles of an oppressive deity from the shoulders of mankind, and thanks to me the world will at long last know the true release of tension and live its days in glorious peace. Now I have to shut off the Playstation, look for my unemployment check, and then go watch the dog take a shit in the back yard so I can pick it up with my hand.”

Xeno6Xenogears is, quite frankly, the best game ever made, and there is a special place in Hell, where you’re forced to play Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde until the end of eternity, reserved for any of you who disagree with me. How’s that for being completely objective, non-judgmental and totally writing without any preconceived notions whatsoever?

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Have you considered, maybe, joining the circus?

Most often cited as Xenogears’ biggest flaw is its story, said to be convoluted, harder to follow than a GPS unit set to the “down syndrome” voice, and denser than the impacted bowel of a neutron star. All those grievances are…well, I’ll give it this much; it’s not the way we usually tell stories in video games. Even some of the best told stories necessarily take a back seat to gameplay. That’s why the vast majority of games fall into the fantasy genre, where questing allows both plot an character to take a direct route through the vilest, stinkiest dens of monsters in order to carry out interspecies genocide in the name of personal growth and development. If you instead want to steer your heroes through populated areas to examine mundane desires and struggles of a broken society under the oppression of the powerful, you might have to reign in those violent instincts lest we start to notice your characters’ party tends to look like boys’ night out with Joseph Stalin, Genghis Kahn and Hannibal Lecter.

Xenogears attempts just that. Our main character, Fei, starts the game with nothing but his God-given amnesia trope and the personality of a gladiola. When a centuries-old war crash lands in his village (after somehow avoiding it for five hundred years), he gets into an abandoned mech (called “gears” in this world), and in trying to protect everyone accidentally inflicts collateral damage that slaughters 95% of the population. Oops. Anyway, he spontaneously decides to take a short hiatus from living in the village, and begins to travel the world, exercising more care about where and when he participates in battle. Problem is, he attracts trouble like Scooby Doo attracts asshole cosplayers, not to mention he discovers that a hidden nation of elites ruled by an oligarchy of old men with strong self-interests and an inept figurehead of executive power is manipulating world events through the use of their over-inflated military. Oh, I know what you’re thinking, though…they don’t represent the United States because their de facto leader is a brilliant physicist who specializes in life-extending nanoengineering, while our de facto leader is a clown that wants you to supersize your french fries.

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Why does God look like someone drew a face on the Thanksgiving turkey?

Anyway, the story does weave together about a dozen plots, complete with several factions of villains who all strive for their own personal goals. In short, we see people struggling to live and find meaning in life across the world, only for the villain to resurrect a God who has literally been farming us because he was hurt 10,000 years ago and has to harvest a shit ton of organs. So the hero, who has both to discover the reason why his personality is as developed as a hydrangea and to embrace some weird, Freudian mommy issues, now has to fight that god just to restore meaning to the lives of the game’s survivors. Almost all characters affect the plot in one way or another. Villains have noble ambitions and human emotions, while heroes make mistakes and succumb to temptations. It’s a moving story, deeply human, beautifully written, and translated with as much care as a lemur with a hangover and access to Google translate. The language is more distracting than a bikini courtroom, but I don’t think this necessarily counts as a strike against the game. Rather, I think it’s strong support for a remake. The game has one of the most amazing end-credits songs I’ve ever heard, and I think Square-Enix ought to upgrade its translation from “hungover lemur” to something a little higher up on the intelligence scale, like “stoned cocker spaniel” or maybe “pig that isn’t so sure that was really a truffle anymore.”

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If I had a dollar for every time someone told me that…

Also a point in the “needs a remake” category, the game’s second disc plays like you were running out of time before the test, so Square had to rush through the Spark Notes before class started. Granted, there is something strangely Shakespearean about seeing characters act out vital scenes against a black stage and a poorly drawn backdrop, but the finer plot points about a planet in turmoil over the resurrection of an unfeeling God probably require a little more nuance and development than your average Elizabethan dick joke. And when entire dungeons are swept over in just a few lines of dialogue, the game ends like a customer service transaction from Wells Fargo—you’re more than just a little confused, but pretty sure that it owes you something it’s not planning on giving you.

Like any good RPG, the actual game is played out through hundreds upon hundreds of repetitive battles. Here, Xenogears is…eh. It’s okay. Not great. But okay. They’ve got a system where rather than enter the “fight” command a half a million times until the game ends, you mix up weak, medium, and strong attacks until your action points run out. Really, it doesn’t matter what you throw at 90% of the enemies—all you’re doing is teaching characters special deathblow combos or simply using the combos. I guess it’s better than your typical RPG. Magic in Xenogears is very much like a bedpan: it has some creative applications, but you’ll probably never want to use it unless you’re healing.

Xeno3Xenogears also employs a secondary battle system for gear fights. Rather than using up AP over a single turn, gears are fueled up and slowly deplete this fuel over the course of a dungeon. They can sacrifice a turn in battle to charge a small amount, which somehow is a feature they can’t use outside of battle. It’s like if you could only recharge your phone one percent at a time while in your car, idling in the fast lane of the freeway (functionality which I hear is coming in the next model iPhone). Gear battles take a little more thought than character battles since you can’t level-up your mechs. So just to lay this out here, your gear can only charge when its being attacked, it can fly in cut scenes but can’t reach a treasure box on the top shelf when under your control, but Squaresoft drew the line at a robot getting stronger through experience points. That somehow would have shattered suspension of disbelief? Meh. Whatever. The gear battles are difficult because you’re limited to the upgrades you can purchase in shops and three equipment slots, but once you lose to a major boss, you know what attacks to prep for and can equip your gear properly. The only downside is it requires you to either play through the game once or, you know…die…in order to have a decent shot at winning.

But quite honestly, any of the games combat flaws slide by virtually unnoticed because of how fluid and compelling the story is. So let’s get on it, Square. Time for a remake already!

Tales of Symphonia – Game Cube, PS2, PS3

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A game so bland the best screenshot is the box art.

Some games end not with a bang, but with a whimper. And then some games end with a string of texted excuses why I can’t play tonight, but I promise to turn it on in a few days if I find the time, until eventually it just stops calling to me and I can move on with my life. Such is the way with Tales of Symphonia. Honestly, I’ve heard so many great things about the Tales series, that I really wanted it to turn into a heated love affair, but I felt like I went in expecting a blind date with Natalie Portman and ended up with Dora the Explorer.

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Like many, I am often troubled by games that try to portray pertinent information in well-written moments within the story. Fortunately, Tales of Symphonia babbles on like a fucking schizophrenic on open mic night.

The story opens in the world of Sylvarant, a pleasant, green thriving fantasy world that apparently needs to be saved from wasting away. Colette is a young girl chosen to lead the quest to restore mana to the world, which will save it from a perilous lack of questing, if nothing else. But instead we’re going to follow her friend Lloyd, who has no major effect on the plot at least 75% of the way through the game, and doesn’t seem important in any way other than he’s voiced by the most recognizable actor. Together with a cast of characters too bland to be generic anime archetypes, Lloyd and Colette travel the world, fighting their way through…literal tourist destinations. (But don’t let that fool you. This is less “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Niagara Falls” and more “Visit the Mystery Spot: Exit 255 at Chernoble.”) Anyway, the whole quest turns out more sinister than the entire world believes and Lloyd, Colette, and company take steps to upend the whole thing. I have to be honest, I didn’t get to the end, but I’m willing to put good money on “the power of friendship” being a major theme at the end.

Yes, you heard me right. I couldn’t get through this game, even though it dangled enough potentially interesting plot lines to keep me invested like a Nigerian Prince asking for just one more good-faith payment. Unfortunately, the Chibi-anime art style makes even the adult characters look like ten-year-olds. Outside of pre-teen players, there’s a very special group of people who get invested in a cast like that, a group that includes Michael Jackson and Jared from the Subway commercials. One character I found particularly obnoxious, Raine, one of the few adults and Lloyd and Colette’s teacher. If you combine the worst qualities of a know-it-all pedant with the insufferable nature of someone who you know is just pulling things out of her ass, that’s Raine. Then make her a chronic child abuser who beats the shit out of her (actual) ten-year-old brother whenever he strings together enough words to best Groot in a verbal debate.

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So uh…we gonna do this or do I have to buy you dinner first?

Just when I thought I couldn’t despise Raine more, there was a scene that required the characters to approach a unicorn trapped in a lake. Now, having written my masters thesis on the significance of eviscerating a unicorn in T.H. White’s “The Once and Future King” (no, I’m not joking. You can look up the article), I happen to know what the game refused to state outright lest it lose it’s G-rating: only virginal women can approach a unicorn. By this point, the party had three female characters, Raine, Colette, and Sheena. Sheena, one of the side characters who ends up being the most important character in the game (even though they never acknowledge it or treat her as such) just happens to be the only character with even a little bit of charm or enough cleavage to still have a good time when everything below the waist is off-limits. She had just joined our party, though, so Raine knew nothing about her except she was a summoner and prone to clumsiness, and yet she still had the nerve to say, “Well, I can’t approach the unicorn because I’m an adult, and Colette is certainly not going to approach the unicorn alone.” So yes, ladies and gentlemen, Raine, in this children’s game, is now slut-shaming strange teen girls, all the while claiming that premarital sex is her personal privilege.

Sheena

Sheena, the only character in two worlds to own breasts.

Tales of Symphonia wears its influences on its sleeve. By itself, that’s not a bad thing. I’m a huge fan of J.R.R. Tolkien, and he basically wrote Medieval fan fiction. The problem is, like everything else in the game, it’s watered down for a pre-teen audience. The developers just took Final Fantasy IX, X, a dash of V, and Xenogears, chucked them in a blender, then filtered out everything that didn’t fit into their juvenile, young-adult novelization schema of a video game. That would be like doing a remake of Silence of the Lambs where Hannibal Lecter is in rehab for his Kit Kat addiction and Buffalo Bill is sneaking up on farms and shearing sheep in the middle of the night. Yes, it’s kid-friendly, but if it’s supposed to be “disturbing and horrifying,” it kind of misses the mark…then flies hundreds of meters past it, nearly misses “comical parody” and buries itself by pure accident between the ass cheeks of “hackneyed mess of writing” and “just did this for a paycheck.” Why would anyone care about Final Fantasy X if we never had to worry about the value of summoner’s lives? What use is Xenogears if they cut out the question of humanity’s struggles and desires versus God’s arbitrary plans for us?

But hey, good gameplay can make up for this second-hand, watered-down beer pissed out of a drunken game developer before passing out in his kid’s bedroom, right? Well, that’s true, but Tales of Symphonia doesn’t have any. Despite being an RPG, leveling up and equipment raise your offensive and defensive capabilities about the same as suddenly sprouting an eleventh fingernail in your armpit. At one point I realized I had been playing for three hours with a character who didn’t have any equipment, and I just couldn’t tell based on his performance in battle. The game throws a lot of information at you about combo attacks, techniques, cooking skills, switching active characters, etc, but skills and techniques take time to charge and cost tech points, so it’s literally always a better strategy to run straight at the monsters, mashing the basic attack like you’re trying to exact vengeance on the A button for murdering your family.

Stales

And yeah…here’s another screenshot. Look, I gotta be somewhere. We done yet?

Even exploring the map is frustrating. The camera zooms in close enough to bill your insurance for a colonoscopy, making navigation a little challenging. And it isn’t an oversight, either, since they’ve added a function for zooming the camera out to see where you’re going, but only if you find a magic rock in each area of the map. I’m sorry, but that much dick move from developers who are obviously closet pedophiles makes me just a wee bit uncomfortable. It’s like going 75 on the freeway and suddenly you realize a nest of wolf spiders are crawling out of the defrost vent of your car, it doesn’t matter where you are or what you’re doing, you really want out. Fortunately, Tales of Symphonia commits the cardinal sin of reminding me of a far superior game and makes me wonder why I don’t just go play that one…so in short, look out in the next few weeks for a review of Xenogears.

A Link to the Past: Randomizer – SNES Rom Hack

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Fun Fact: Doctors developed heroin as a treatment for people addicted to morphine. And much in the way of attacking a post-op bulbasaur with a shivering, emaciated charmander who sold his tail to an old Chinese man in order to score some more horse, it’s super-effective! That’s back when doctors subscribed to the medical journal of Your Dad Making You Smoke The Whole Pack At Once, and fortunately, they’ve realized their mistake. Not so fortunately, they’ve unleashed the Godzilla of opiates for people who just don’t get the same rush out of King Kong; it’s not enough for them to climb a building and flip off a few airplanes, they’ve got to rip a city out by the subway system and knock the air force out of the sky like a major league baseball player with…I’ve forgotten where I’m going with this. Are we still on the drug metaphor, or have we moved on to kaiju? Eh. Who knows. Honestly, I make so many comparisons between video games and drugs that at this point I think my parents, friends, playground monitors, and pediatrician’s assistant were right all those years ago and that I should go check into rehab for my game addiction.

Screenshot from 2018-03-28 21-05-15

Beeeeeeees!

But if the massive wall of games and the 4TB hard drive of ROMS I own draws at least one apt comparison between games and drugs, it’s that the high wears off and you’re constantly looking for the next big game to get your fix. Long story short, nothing new on my shelf has been doing it for me lately. And since you can’t OD on video games (Unless you’re Asian, apparently), reaching your tolerance of awesome games like The Legend of Zelda or Super Metroid and then trying out Star Fox Adventure or Lord of the Rings: The Third Age is like building up a tolerance to heroin and then trying to top it with children’s Tylenol. Fortunately, someone out there has found a way to distill the essence out of the awesome games like the last remaining gelfling and feed it to us like some kind of uber-heroin!

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Samus apparently doesn’t mind that bug-catching kid sees her as a sex symbol.

For those of you who haven’t heard of randomizers, hackers will rig a game’s ROM to rearrange items, entrances, bosses, or what have you into random locations. So, for example, Link could hop out of bed and pull the power glove out of his chest instead of the lantern. It happened to me. It was awesome. Immediately after rescuing Zelda on my first randomized run, I had the gold sword, the red mail, half the heart containers, and absolutely no way to get into most of the dungeons. Even after playing through seven or eight different runs, there’s usually a point where I get stuck and end up wandering Hyrule aimlessly back and forth like a Jehova’s Witness who wandered into an urban ghetto. The randomizer has a pretty well-developed logic that should prevent you from getting stuck, but I’ve found that even if I choose the option for “no glitches,” sometimes it helps to be able to pull off some of the easier ones, like the Fake Flippers, or .

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That sums up my feeling quite nicely.

Even aside from the glitches, playing the Link to the Past Randomizer has helped me learn more about a game I thought I knew well. For instance, I learned there are a total of 216 special items hidden throughout the game. Furthermore, whenever I just needed the hookshot or the mirror or the fucking lantern, I learned just how many of those items are goddam useless-as-fuck rupees, bombs or arrows. I also learned just how long I can spend in a dungeon before realizing that the randomizer’s logic put that last key I need to open the door to get to the final chest inside that final chest, behind the locked door that the key opens. I also learned that the pegasus shoes aren’t considered an item of vital importance, and without them the game kind of crawls along like a sloth on Ambien drowning in a pool of Jello shots.

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Hmm…didn’t Link tell me something about bombs and chickens?

But while I necessarily point out the comical flaws for the sake of humor, most of these problems resolved when I discovered a treasure chest I never knew about, a new trick I could pull off, or (more frequently) an embarrassingly obvious item location I walked by six dozen times and just assumed I had already picked it up. But hey, at least I’m not as visually impaired as the boss, Blind, who I learned can only be damaged by the sword or the game’s two canes. That’s our eponymous hero! Bludgeoning the disabled with their only tool for tactilely seeing the world.

So I thought I’d play through once or twice to get a feel for how the game handles when randomized and I thought I’d fill in my off-week with a quick update. Then after about 50 to 60 hours, putting off Tales of Symphonia, neglecting about two weeks worth of classes (hey, I’m just a sub! It’s not like they needed my attention!), skipping several meals, showers, and subpoenas, coming up with a very creative excuse for why the government should accept my taxes in August rather than April, and forgetting what natural, full-spectrum light looks like, I figured I might as well give you a full entry on it. I’m not quite good enough yet to compete in the Zelda randomizer tournaments, but I still highly recommend giving it a shot, especially if you have a close friend and/or Ambien sloth to race against.

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…no comment.

The Randomizer
Japanese 1.0 ROM