It’s been fun using my 3DS to reconnect with the Zelda franchise. The most unexpectedly moving of my various revisits has been Link’s Awakening, the 1993 Game Boy title which blew my mind.
It’s fair to say that, even if it isn’t completely successful, Moana feels like Disney doing what it should be doing. Which is to say that it’s a beautifully animated musical which pillages some piece of folklore/fairy tale in the service of fun songs and lame, questionable moral platitudes. Frozen had its Austenian charms, but it was severely hampered by bland art direction and some bland tunes; Moana has a lot more to like in both regards.
I’m involved in a top 5 JRPGs roundup at Beneath the Tangles.
Also I recently rewatched Zootopia and found that my opinion of it has gone up. I found it irksome for being indistinguishable from a Pixar or Dreamworks movie, but it’s probably the most successful of the CG era Disney movies. My earlier post could probably be expanded upon, given that it was literally a bullet-point list.
Final Fantasy XV is on the cusp of release and I…am having trouble consistently maintaining enthusiasm for it. Aside from not having a means of playing it, all the early previews suggest that the franchise is still operating on a wavelength fundamentally different than my own. That Florence & The Machine cover of Stand By Me sure is pretty, though.
All the hype did inspire me to log some time into Final Fantasy VI, an entry which I have a weird relationship with. FF IV was the first one I laid hands on (back when it was still called FF II here), but while it intrigued me a great deal, I was too young to really get a grasp on how to play it. FF VI (back when it was FF III) looked really cool but was always unavailable at the video store, and so I never really played it until its Playstation rerelease. By that point it was already overshadowed by VII and VIII.
As a result I’ve always appreciated VI more than I’ve enjoyed it – even though it is, on balance, the most solid entry in the series. This time, however, something clicked. I think I’m starting to dig into it as an RPG. I also didn’t realize just how well paced the opening hour is: within ten minutes you’re into the meat of both the gameplay and the plot, and there’s a sense of forward momentum that never lags even as the game allows you to meander and do RPG stuff.
Even the excruciatingly long loading times of the Playstation version haven’t kept me down. Yet.
My previous post on Shin Megami Tensei IV found me pretty annoyed at the game. In the meantime I’ve found myself drawn back to it on occasion, which has provoked something of a reconsideration.
A lot of my earlier hair-tearing came from a place of genuine appreciation: SMT IV, more than any other new-ish game I’ve played (with the exception of A Link Between Worlds) gets to the heart of why I love the medium, and JRPGs in particular. But it also kinda fails to completely cohere into the game it could be.
If I were to organize everything into a clickbait thesis I’d put it thus: Shin Megami Tensei IV is the Neon Genesis Evangelion of our times. Except that it lacks NGE’s miserabilism, creepy sex stuff, and general contempt for its fanbase.
I penned a Halloween-inspired post for Beneath the Tangles and then failed to share it on here in a timely fashion. Oh well – it’s not quite Advent yet, so perhaps I’m still in the clear.
The 1990 NES classic Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse opens with a striking image. Our hero, Trevor Belmont, is seen kneeling in front a cross in prayer before heading off to slay Dracula. And, indeed, along with his trusty whip, an axe and a knife, Trevor also makes use of holy water, rosaries and crosses in his battle with the forces of darkness. It’s rare in pop culture – especially in video games – to see a protagonist so unapologetically identified as a Christian. And yet it feels almost unremarkable within the horror aesthetic of Konami’s franchise (imagine, as a thought experiment, the public reaction to a sports game where your character would pray before a cross in preparation for a match).
I’ve finally finished all four volumes of Gene Wolfe’s Book of the Long Sun, the very loose sequel to The Book of the New Sun.
It almost lost me for a while. True to its title, the novel is very long and very deliberately paced, to put it mildly, and as the second volume went on, I wondered if it was going to amount to much in the end. It did; the cumulative effect was magnificent, albeit largely because I was in tune with what Wolfe was trying to do. Although Long Sun is, on the face of it, a much more conventional read than New Sun, I ultimately found it was a much more peculiar work.
Long Sun is close to what you’d get if Charles Dickens and G.K. Chesterton collaborated on a novel allegorizing the ultimate futility of Paganism/Secularism. And you really need to be on board that artistic vision if you’re going to survive all 1400 or so pages of it.
In the past couple of months I’ve also slowly wormed my way through the two biggest Legend of Zelda titles: the original 1986 NES game, and 1998’s Ocarina of Time. The latter was a frequent rental of my childhood days, while the former was new to me (being slightly too young to see the heyday of the NES, most of my exposure to its library has come as an adult).
My prediction was that Zelda 1 would be a historical curiosity, while Ocarina of Time would be a nostalgia-drenched experience. What happened was almost the reverse: I quickly fell in love with Zelda 1, while Ocarina seemed to have lost some of its shine.
This is my attempt to articulate why.
Every year I keep thinking I’ll do some Halloween related stuff on this blog for October, and every year this doesn’t really happen. But in spite of a tight schedule I feel a bit more determined to carry this out. Or at least I’ll just talk about two movies in one post and call it even.
This season has a lot of sentimental value for me; I was born the day before Halloween, and, as a result, celebrations of my existence have always been mentally associated with autumn spooky stuff, and people wearing funny costumes (and as a kid it meant I got cake and Halloween candy within 48 hours of each other).
Anyway, the movies in question are both directed by one John Carpenter: Halloween and The Thing.
It looks like my next post at Beneath the Tangles is up. Since its kinda-sorta about Dragon Quest VII, I thought I’d take the opportunity here to give some more thoughts about it as a game.
My relationship with the Dragon Quest franchise is a bit complicated. The games have a laid back, quirky style to them that functions as a welcome break from the usual histrionics of the JRPG genre. Akira Toriyama’s character designs are among his most charming, and the classically trained Koichi Sugiyama’s music has a pleasant, simple elegance to it.