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indigozeal
23 November 2014 @ 10:05 am
Someday, I will be able to take a Japanese-to-English translating job and not have to worry that the document will turn out to be a lengthy denial of WWII war crimes involving comfort women.

(Granted, I should've been tipped off by the fact that the job was written like a news article but had random phrases throughout the document highlighted in red.)
 
 
 
indigozeal
19 November 2014 @ 10:55 pm
Every post I have on my to-do list is a huge write-up at this point, so I thought I'd just run down quick capsulated thoughts on the games I've played but not documented over these past few months.

Silent Hill 4: This is still going to be my second-favorite Silent Hill, and I like a lot of what it attempts and its "new" (compared to SH1-3) spins on the series' journey-of-the-mind psychodrama that still feel of a piece with what came before. It blows a good deal of what it's attempting to do both gameplaywise and thematically, however, with two poor decisions in the second half: a) interlacing its potentially interesting gameplay mechanics into this punishing and utterly unrewarding web where there's only one way to do a series of very difficult tasks and any deviation completely blows your game, or at least your chance at a good ending; and b) dropping the ball after Walter Sullivan's interesting first-half characterization, instead opting to switch back and forth like a light switch between his malevolent side and his human side instead of having both exist concurrently. The game has some superb ideas, and all the pieces are in place for a terrific symbiosis of gameplay and story, but it fails to sort out the last remaining unresolved issues with its approaches (and they are solvable; the finish line is right in sight, which makes the game's failure to go those last few steps such a heartbreaker). As a result, it stops short of its goals and fails to deliver fully on its ideas - but, again, those ideas are strong enough for it to merit a good deal of esteem.

Seiken Densetsu 3: I think the people overseeing the Mana series got it into their heads at some point that RPGs have to have a lot of numbers and stat screens and folderol in order to be respectable, and that the more buffers between the player and the action, the more complex and intellectually challenging the game is. Secret of Mana works in great part because it's great fun just to run around and hammer on the goddamn buttons, and Seiken Densetsu 3 in great part doesn't because the game won't let you run around and hammer on the goddamn buttons. It has this horrible automatic-blocking and repositioning system where your characters won't respond to your commands even half the time (in fact, at one point, I counted that the Amazon was acting on only one out of nine of my button presses), and not only does it make the game not fun, it makes it unnecessarily difficult due to how the characters will move themselves around and get themselves into problematic positions due to garbage A.I. commands, requiring you to keep an eye on them at all times - which is an issue when there are three separate characters to babysit. Even your main character can get utterly wrecked if you switch over to a backup chara for a few seconds to do some healing or spellcasting. Add in a gratuitously woe-choked main story, and...well, I just saw no reason to continue halfway through.

Legend of Mana: This could've been one of my favorite games, with its gorgeous 2D hand-drawn art style and fairytale pop-up-book world. Alas: a) the combat is very shallow, easy, and unsatisfying, yet, in a continuation of SD3's woebegotten design philosophy, it's very stop-and-start and drawn-out due to the extensively worthless stat reports the game forces you to open up and check and close at the end of each little skirmish, and b) despite a perfectly amiable anthology-style storyline following the day-to-day adventures and tribulations of a bunch of creative, vibrantly-designed fairytale characters, the game forces you to finish one of three "central" storylines bolted onto the proceedings in order to finish, and they are all utter misery-porn dreck with unlikable characters, no-win dilemmas, and unsatisfying resolutions.

Castlevania: Circle of the Moon: Blows an interesting elemental+special-attack combo mechanic due to absolutely ridiculous difficulty, and I've been through that Axe Knight hallway in Stage 5 of the first game.

Terranigma: I recall the opening to Roger Ebert's review of Joe vs. the Volcano where he "realized a wondrous thing: I had not seen this movie before. Most movies, I have seen before. Most movies, you have seen before. Most movies are constructed out of bits and pieces of other movies, like little engines built from cinematic Erector sets." In its first few hours, Terranigma is refreshingly, arrestingly original, and the bulk of what follows, though colored a bit more by RPG conventions, continues in that vein. To paraphrase from further on in Ebert's review: it is not an entirely successful game (though it succeeds way more than it stumbles), but it is new and fresh and not shy of taking chances. It's in contention for the best action RPG on the SNES, and it has perhaps the most poignant ending to a game I've seen.

Chrono Cross: Continued to have absolutely no plot in its first half, then switched over to a totally nonsensical perspective-switch for its second. It's kind of stunning how ineptly the story is written and told in this game. It'd be worth breaking down and studying the myriad ways the narrative or lack thereof went wrong, and how the writers might have come to the conclusions and made the choices they did. It's a breathtaking failure.

Soul Blazer: Pretty fun so far! The combat system is limited (at least in my early going) but breezily fun, and it has that winningly humanistic & charmingly animistic touch that Terranigma did.
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indigozeal
16 November 2014 @ 06:21 pm
Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan was that doctor a douchebag. Spent all of thirty seconds attempting to diagnose me, would not let me get two sentences into describing my symptoms, and repeatedly accused me of lying about what other doctors had told me about my condition. I walked out five minutes into the non-exam. I managed, with difficulty, to get one small piece of information that might lead to actual treatment, provided I can get someone to check it out and follow up on it if called for, but all in all, this was a 700-mile round trip and a good deal of time taken away from more productive efforts spent for almost nothing.
 
 
 
indigozeal
11 November 2014 @ 09:33 pm
Minor delay in posting; I have a medical issue of my own to sort out. I will be driving six hours and paying $74 to stay in a lousy motel tomorrow night for the privilege of having an out-of-state doctor look at an old MRI and, in all probability, throw up his hands. More soon, hopefully - and hopefully not on this subject.

(On another note, good God, I'm getting a huge backlog. At this point, I have all of Silent Hill 4 to go over, as well as wrap-ups of a playthrough of Terranigma and aborted attempts at a couple Mana games, not to mention a Maren post, a Chrono Cross post, and a few compilation posts of capsule reviews. Good gravy.)
 
 
 
indigozeal
Steve, I can tell when you're reading my blog.

The chances of this site's stat tracker picking up a visit from your exact hometown, from a user with your exact version of Chrome, who is not you, is rather slim. The last time you visited was about 10:15 p.m. today.

There's nothing for you here, Steve. There's just going to be the same bewildering proper nouns that are on my other site.

Steve.

Steve.
 
 
 
indigozeal
Unsuccessful attempts tonight to enjoy a drink of Kahlua and a kirsch marzipan heart confirm that alcohol and consumables containing alcohol will never taste like anything but lacquer to me.



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indigozeal
I was listening to Pandora while working today when I was distracted by this one instrumental piece that came on my mix station that really announced its presence - all bombastic drums and dramatic staccato horns and whatnot. The style seemed familiar but the piece didn't - yet it sure wanted to make itself known. "What the heck's going on with this song?", I thought, so I switched over to the tab where Pandora was playing, and lo and behold:



Man, the part where it's actually Ghaleon's theme proper (I mean, his theme from the Sega CD version, not the parts that're unique to the 32-bit remake) is really soft. The new stuff ("new" here meaning "three generations old") is really Howard Shored up and gets news-bulletin graceless near the end. I must've subconsciously recognized the opening bits in their more-tentative, less-oppressive form, but the actual theme is hard to pick out in spots even if you're listening for it.

In other news, you can listen to Noriyuki Iwadare on Pandora now.
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indigozeal
Note: I started playing Silent Hill 4 two years ago; I stopped due to...well, due to circumstances detailed below. I'd like to resume the game this Halloween, but when I found my old notes, I discovered something: my comments differed significantly in certain aspects from my current impressions of the game. I'm going to publish my old notes to lead off my discussion of SH4, then follow up with my current, dissenting impressions, as well as various other retrospective thoughts on the first half of the game. I'll then comment on the second half of the game as I attempt to tackle it.
Also: my notes below were a bit incomplete in spots. Places where I had to fill in material are bolded. The material kind of peters out near the end, and I'm loathe to add more than necessary, since my thoughts & recollections have changed since I originally wrote this; I'll be expanding on those points in my next entry.
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indigozeal
20 October 2014 @ 11:37 pm
I was directed to this consummately ridiculous poll by the Baten Kaitos fandom, where the game's up for Best Explorable Towns. I sauntered over to vote, but, good God, I don't think there's any saving this list of nominees. Suikoden II's Luca "die, pig, die" Blight for Best Villain; an Ar Tonelico game for Best Romance Subplot; Earthbound for Best Enemy Design; Final Fantasy Tactics, where all the characters have the exact same face, for Best Character Designs; and Chrono Cross - CHRONO CROSS - for "Best Cast of Characters."

P.S. I just noticed that this poll was sponsored by an iOS game. This explains so much.
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