roadrunnertwice: Scott fends off Matthew Patel's attack. (ScottPilgrim.Scott - Reversal!)
Okay, let's post a pair of essaylets tonight! This one's been simmering for a while, and it just came up again in a conversation with [ profile] roler, so I'll get it out for public comment:

The ending of the Scott Pilgrim movie kind of sucks, and that actually doesn't really bother me. Which might surprise those who've heard, for example, my insufferable Howl's Moving Castle spiel. In short, I think the way the movie engages with video game grammar and video game logic allows multiple endings to harmoniously co-exist in a way not possible when those methods of story aren't invoked. (Wayne's World notwithstanding, because Wayne's World is special that way, and besides, it doesn't work quite the way I'm talking about here.)

Which is to say, video games are a narrative form where multiple endings are equal peers in an integrated whole. Sure, there's usually a "best" ending, but if you do a perfect playthrough to the good ending and then never touch the game again, you actually haven't experienced the whole game. Multiple passes, some of them "failed," are expected and accepted on the road to completion.

This lets the Scott Pilgrim movie diverge radically without becoming an "alternate" take on the story; it remains an integrated part of a single work. Without importing the concepts of branching paths and multi-pass completionism from video games, any ending to a story is necessarily the only ending, which polarizes readers and viewers and forces adaptations to exist in private worlds apart from their sources.

Anyway, the ending of Scott Pilgrim: The Movie is the perfectly legitimate ending that happens if you don't do any of the sidequests* and don't manage to keep Crash and the Boys alive through the fight with Patel. Yeah, it sucks; play better next time! (i.e. read the comics.)

* Ramona's fights at the library and Lee's Palace, learning how to fight girls, meeting Lisa at the mall (necessary for moving in with Ramona at the end of the Roxy chapter), helping Kim move house, the recording sidequest, facing Nega Scott early enough that you can unlock the Power of Understanding once you get to Gideon, getting a fucking job**, etc.

** Zvi, who hadn't read the comic at the time, pointed this one out: "I do think it's interesting that this is the only movie I can think of where the hero's sole reward at the end of the film is romantic fulfillment. He doesn't have a job, he doesn't have a place to live, he doesn't have a calling: all he's got going forward is Ramona. On the one hand, I disapprove of that as a conclusion for anyone, but, on the other hand, if that sort of thing is going to say with us, I think it should be an ending for boys, too."
roadrunnertwice: Dialogue: "I have caught many hapless creatures in my own inter-net." (ActivitiesForRainyDays - Inter-Net)

Once upon a time on a website far from here, I shared a singular discovery, and since I was talking about it with someone the other day (who was that, BTW? Anyone on Facebook?), I thought I'd share the love with anyone who missed it the first time. Folks, I give you Tetris Wiki: "Our goal is to compile every Tetris detail known to mankind." Need to know about your possible T-spin combos? Want to know how TGM rotation differs from baseline Sega rotation and what changed with the I-kicks introduced in TGM3? Guess who has your back? That's right: fucking Tetris Wiki, that's who. 

(It sounds like I'm being flip here, but I actually totally respect the project: Tetris is a messy but ultimately—probably—knowable system, and these guys have decided there's no reason why we as a species should know less about it than God does. The target may be trivial, but our way of life depends on that impulse manifesting in unexpected ways from time to time, so I salute the crew over there for holding it down for us.)

Also, from the Wikipedia article on the Tetris Effect comes this pair of brain-related tidbits: 

Stickgold et al. (2000) have proposed that Tetris imagery is a separate form of memory, likely related to procedural memory. This is from their research in which they showed that people with anterograde amnesia, unable to form new declarative memories, reported dreaming of falling shapes after playing Tetris during the day, despite not being able to remember playing the game at all.[3] A recent Oxford study (2009) suggests Tetris-like video games may help prevent the development of traumatic memories. If the video game treatment is played soon after the traumatic event, the preoccupation with Tetris shapes is enough to prevent the mental recitation of traumatic images, thereby decreasing the accuracy, intensity, and frequency of traumatic reminders. "We suggest it specifically interferes with the way sensory memories are laid down in the period after trauma and thus reduces the number of flashbacks that are experienced afterwards," summarizes Dr. Emily Holmes, who led the study.

I think I speak for all those assembled when I say: "Whoa." 

roadrunnertwice: Scott fends off Matthew Patel's attack. (ScottPilgrim.Scott - Reversal!)
Wow, so everything's coming up Scott Pilgrim these last couple days. I'm sure everyone's sick of hearing about it all, but listen, you know that tie-in beat-em-up that Ubisoft said they were gonna make? They got Paul Robertson and Anamanaguchi attached to the project. Click those names, it will be pretty obvious why I am excited, 'nuff said. Wait, one more link. Ok, done.
roadrunnertwice: Scott fends off Matthew Patel's attack. (ScottPilgrim.Scott - Reversal!)
I uninstalled Cave Story at the end of last week, aaaaaaand so now I'm kind of, uh. *TWITCH*

See, my sort of digital cigarette break had been to boot up Cave Story and scum back and forth in the falling rocks room with just the Fireball or the Bubbler and see how long I could stay alive, which made for a neat little blend of frenzy and meditation. Except I eventually got to where I could stay alive for 20 minutes on one go, which, times a couple breaks in a day, made for entirely too much time to be spending on a game I was already totally done with.

So I figured if I had that much time to drop on a game, I should spend it on something that I've actually been meaning to play through! Vast untapped resource of time with which to do cool stuff, right? Which would also have the added bonus of giving me something new to talk about with people, whereas there is really no way to bring up the new method you discovered for clearing the chasers at the mid-way hole trap in even the nerdiest conversation.)

All fine and well. Yup. Did I mention that digital cigarette breaks have at least one remarkable similarity to real cigarette breaks? *TWITCH*
roadrunnertwice: Vesta Tilley, Victorian drag king (Rocket Scientist)

Balls to chronology! Here’re the Aug/Sept reviews I’m done with, and I’ll post the other ones when I finish ‘em.

A subset of things I read during August and September: )

And that is why Nova Swing is the most grisly, horrifying book I’ve read all year.

Next time: Return of the King, “City of Roses: Gin-Soaked,” and Infinite Jest.

roadrunnertwice: Vesta Tilley, Victorian drag king (Hagrid - Two Wheels Good)
I've been meta-gaming in Cave Story in my spare minutes. My current minigame is to keep going back and forth through the falling-blocks room in Hell using only the Fireball (did you know you can totally jet back into the block room from below?), and see how many laps you can make before you die. It's fun! In which there are homemade achievements and way too much talk about the Fireball. )

Oh, and I went to the repair collective today to overhaul Brigadelle's left pedal, which definitely did the trick on one of the noises (the nastier one) I was hearing. Well, I'll catch the rest of 'em eventually.

The adjustable cone was shot all to hell, so I needed a replacement, but when I asked Pete (if I'm remembering his name correctly, which is always a gamble with me), he was like, "NO ONE in town is going to have that part, because you are the ONLY PERSON who would actually overhaul a pedal." Okay, I'll admit that that made me feel kind of badass, but WHY? It's completely easy. Maybe I'm the only person whose pedals get jacked up this bad, or who rides pedals from the 80s that are still good enough that they don't simply need to be taken out back and shot. Anyway, they totally had the right widget squirreled away in a box of random pedal parts, so Cycle Repair Collective FTW.
roadrunnertwice: Vesta Tilley, Victorian drag king (Kekkaishi - coffee milk)

Things I Read During May

Naoki Urasawa - 20th Century Boys, vol. 1 (5/3, comic)

Huh! This is... pretty darn good. The story is clearly barely even getting rolling, but I really like the characters and the dialogue and the art and the hints of things going on, and man, the setting. This manga has a wonderful sense of place, and its loving and grimy depictions of Japan in the '70s and '90s are a thing I haven't really seen before. Weirdly. (I've certainly read enough manga, you'd think I'd have run across something that felt roughly this real before.)

The cultist dialogue is all hilariously awful, but I'm pretty sure it's supposed to be. Especially since the rest of the dialogue is fantastic.

Saladin Ahmed - "Where Virtue Lives" (5/10, short story)

Well, neither bad nor particularly my taste. The dialogue was really clunky and the characters didn't grab me, but I quite liked the worldbuilding and the magic. So... a wash?

Cat Rambo - "The Dead Girl's Wedding March" (5/10, short story)

Wow! That was really good!

Neil Gaiman, Andy Kubert, Richard Isanove - Marvel 1602 (comic, 5/19)

Shockingly, I liked this a lot!

As you may know, I've got a bit of a standoffish relationship with Big Two superhero comics, but this story did the neat trick of making me care about both the individual characters involved and the Marvel Universe/mythos itself. Bravo.

My current theory is that Gaiman managed this by making the Marvel Universe a character in its own right. Instead of simply using it as an open-pit mine for cameos and opaque references, he made this into a story about the shape and intention of the Marvel Universe qua entity, which I found fascinating and not at all what I was expecting and actually more than a little touching.

Beefs: Seriously, the whole multiverse at existential risk? And this would happen every time someone tried that particular species of time travel, right? I call bullshit on that. Also, the Watchers are unspeakably silly.

Things: I find myself oddly intrigued by the Fantastic(k) Four, despite having had very little previous interest in them. Dr. Strange is simply the shit. Captain America's role and self-presentation are incredibly icky in ways that only a character claiming to be an embodiment of America could manage to run afoul of. I like to think Gaiman was aware enough to know what he was doing there, but who knows. And anyway, Captain America is weird in the first place.

BONUS LEVEL: Braid (5/23, video game)

Dep't of Stories I Never Need to Read Again: Bereaved/jilted man misses his dead/unfaithful girlfriend/wife so hard that he breaks reality.

Braid reclaims some points for bothering to point out that the hero is a total douchebag and that this whole "desire" thing is largely a metaphor in the first place, so that's kind of neat, but I'm not convinced you can have this one both ways. One side of the fence is boring unresolved-male-author's-issues bullshit, and the other side is alienating and didactic anti-story, which can be potentially interesting in literature but will reliably poison a video game.

Never mind that, though, because the gameplay and artwork here are absolutely wonderful, and the time manipulation mechanics make for some truly mindfucking puzzles. (One or two of them are Alundra-class hard, and pulling off the secret achievements or time trials is really insanely difficult.) Good stuff and well worth your $15.

Terry Pratchett - Mort (5/29)

Moving house, mildly brainfried... time to read me some Pratchett.

I hadn't read Mort, brand new to me. I've heard some people recently suggest it as a good jumping-on point for Discworld, and I do think it would probably work as one. This one was pretty early, right? checks Uh, 1987. Right, wow. That's actually pretty impressive, because what you have here is a legit fully-fledged Discworld book, which, dang. Prose isn't up to Pratchett's modern par, and his (or his editors', hard to say) faith in the reader's ability to figure out what's going on is shaky, but it works in a way that the first few books didn't, quite.

Cut and Fucking Paste (5/30) and Edit (5/29)

So say you take the traditional Kirk/Spock OTP as TOS canon. Young Alternate Kirk would have gotten a brainful of that in advance on account of that mind-meld, right? So... yeah. (via [personal profile] zvi.)

(I enjoyed the movie a lot, but am still working out my overall feelings about the reboot. These stories made me happy, though.)

Angélica Gorodischer - Kalpa Imperial (tr. Ursula K. Le Guin) ([ profile] 50books_poc: 2) (5/31)

There are heroes and villains and clever cowards and tricksters and betrayals and battles and emperors and ascetics and madmen. If you like things that are beautiful and crazy epic, put this one on your list.

Gorodischer works the aesthetic of HUGE, on a level I've only seen China Miéville and Hal Duncan function at, and it is a stunningly fine thing. Come for the razor-sharp characterization, stay for the mindblowing historiography and meta-narratives about the nature of storytelling.

So Kalpa Imperial. It's a cycle of disconnected stories about the emperors and commoners and genii loci of that greatest of empires, whose name need not even be mentioned. (You know how these things go.) It is almost as old as I am in Argentina, but wasn't released in English until 2003. You know how Le Guin rolls, so the prose is gorgeous. Being unable to engage the original, I can't say anything about the translation, other than that I'm inclined to trust Le Guin's judgment in these sorts of things and that it reads well.

Pretty much all the stories are individually wonderful, and a few of them left me on the verge of tears (special mention to "The End of a Dynasty, or: The Natural History of Ferrets" and "Concerning the Unchecked Growth of Cities"), but the gestalt and the interstices are where the project qua project gets really interesting. See, for almost the entire cycle, there isn't any overlap. There are references within each story that seem like they should link up and let you orient, but they never point to anywhere you've been or will go before the book's out. The effect is one of massive elbow-room, a history so large that a multitude of histories can dwell within and not impinge on each other. Furthermore, it eschews any teleological idea of "progress"—the first story tells you right off the bat that any technological/political milieu can exist at any point in the Empire's past or future—which makes the feeling of spacious time still more intense, sets you even further adrift in the infinity of history. (Oh, and each story except the last has its own quite-present storyteller, so they all actually cover at least two time periods in duplex.)

Back up: Like I said, there isn't any overlap for almost the entire cycle. The next-to-last story has a single recognizable reference, like a clearing of the throat for what follows. The last story makes me want to write papers.

You remember how, in Super Mario World on the SNES, if you beat the entire secret world you'd get dumped out back where you were except all the enemies now had Mario's face? This is the literary equivalent of that. It turns the structure of the rest of the book completely inside-out. Instead of having a storyteller providing the reader interface to the story, it's written in an interface-less third person; there is a storyteller contained inside, but he's telling stories that exist outside the Empire's history. In fact, the whole thing is flowing backwards: instead of providing the real-world audience with an interface to the Empire's story, the storyteller seems to be providing the Imperial characters an (imperfect and distorted) interface with the real world, stealing our stories for the entertainment of his fictional comrades but getting the details intriguingly... wrong? Right? Priam played by the great bear Orson Welles and Clark Gable as Odysseus and Jameses Dean and Bond as Meneleus and Agamemnon, the good ships Brigitte Bardot and Ava Gardner and Betty Davis, the roofless towers of the house Charge of the Light Brigade burning (and you see what I meant about the Mario heads?), and an eye that sees the world into being. It's a totally unexpected mutation of the project that makes explicit the flow of Gorodischer's heretofore implicit argument re: the relationship between stories and reality, and it does so in a really intellectually exhilarating way while also telling a totally ripping yarn about a caravan and the life's work of a desert guide and royalty in disguise and love and protection and nobility and the fate of a dynasty. No shit.

In short, this book owns.

roadrunnertwice: Vesta Tilley, Victorian drag king (Vast and solemn spaces)
I finished the game.

And yes, dammit, I cried a bit. Actually, I think the score was something like three cries of "NO," much sniffling during the last battle, and then finally losing it in the credits when Claus started walking downscreen.

There's a lot more I could say about it, but I don't know that it really needs to be said. It was beautiful and honest and brave, and it ended exactly the way it had to. I'm glad I got to play it.
roadrunnertwice: Vesta Tilley, Victorian drag king (Reversal!)
Still loving Mother 3, but god DAMN is it hard in spots. How hard?

Chapter five boss. I think at least two of those guys were scrolling their way down to zilch when I scored that last hit. (I'd forgotten how stressful those gas-gauge-style meters were! ITEM DEFEND DEFEND DEFEND AUUUUUGGHH!)
roadrunnertwice: Vesta Tilley, Victorian drag king (Ass increases with the square of T-ball.)

Everyone's all on about Mother 3 these days, and guess what: so am I. IT IS BRILLIANT.

I'm in the early stages of Chapter 3 and loving it to death. It's funny that this dropped right after I got finished with Cave Story, because they share several major virtues: they both have a strong retro aesthetic, and both of them were translated into English by a small group of fans (both times resulting in genuinely impressive writing).

And both games are — quite visibly — labors of love. It's a quality you can feel, here, part of the texture of the thing: the walk and idle animations (well, the animation period — this game burns unique event sprites like nobody's business), the precise design of the menus and battle system, the daring pacing of the storyline, the dry little jokes hidden everywhere. And in the emotional depth and sharp character designs and stuff like that, sure, but here's the thing: if there are a handful of brilliant people who give a shit on staff, it's no real surprise for an Extruded Sequel Product to get the big, sweeping stuff right. Mother 3 hits all the power chords on cue and nails every two-second guitar break and insouciant yelp and almost-but-not-quite-random breath across the microphone.

What I'm saying is: this shit is real, homes. Mother 3 is smart, funny and heartbreaking in turns, and startlingly well-made. Beg, borrow, or steal; this is a real, live must-play.

Also, playing it is making me think I should go back and replay Earthbound once I'm done.
roadrunnertwice: Vesta Tilley, Victorian drag king (Reversal!)
Twelve years after the fact, I finally caught up with the cool kids and played through Suikoden. And whoa hey, it was totally great.

I missed the whole Suikoden boat the first time around. I actually rented the game sometime around 1997 and came away totally underwhelmed -- I think the problem was that I had also just rented Beyond the Beyond, and it left a bad enough taste in my mouth that Suikoden's low-res battle textures and slightly gimmicky camerawork were tainted by association. Plus, the first few hours of the game aren't really very compelling, and at the time I didn't have any expectation that it would get any more interesting.

(Also, my god, that box art.)

Anyway, I eventually picked up a used copy, which sat around for years before I finally got around to playing it. But play it I did.

I'm actually kind of surprised at how sophisticated it was, and at the way it alternately honored and thumbed its nose at genre conventions. For example: Your main character is a silent cipher whom everyone admires for his natural leadership ability, sure, but he's also one of the fastest characters in battle, profoundly middlin' in attack strength (especially in the first 3/4 of the game), uses a stick for a weapon, and has all of the darkness-powered instant kill spells in the game. He's a Fresh-Faced Hero in his plot role, but his stats read more like some formerly evil character you'd recruit during the endgame. That's... kind of neat.

I also like the way almost every new capability you can get derives from people power. Upgrading your headquarters, getting better armor and weapons, winning army battles, customizing the interface... it's all about who you know, rather than about what you collect. And the characterization is surprisingly deft for how anemic it is -- pretty much all of the 108 characters felt more solid and real than anyone in, say, Chrono Cross's cast. The writers showed an impressive understanding of the limits they were working under, and they made pretty good decisions about what to leave to the imagination. I think their skill in writing rough sketches that hint at vast depth is a major reason for the dedication of the series' fanfic community. Take the "where are they now" title sequence at the end of the game, for instance -- why did those two characters split up? Why did he run away? What was she doing in the resistance in the first place? Something about it sets the brain on fire.

The plot is fairly basic, but it has some nasty tricks up its sleeves -- I love the way they subverted the mind-control trope at the very last moment, and recruiting 3/5 of the top generals alive while having to actually kill your own father was flat-out painful.

Hell, even the graphics and sound had a lot more going on than I once thought -- I like how they weren't afraid to draw all kinds of animations they were only going to use once, and the character portraits were gorgeous.

All told, I judge it a pretty sweet little game. Onward to Suikoden II. (Pirated, alas; check out what that sucker's netting on eBay these days, ugh.)
roadrunnertwice: Vesta Tilley, Victorian drag king (Reversal!)
Oh, man, you know what else I'm kind of excited about? That PS2 remake of Tales of Destiny. I miss those characters. It's rare that you get an ensemble RPG cast willing to inflict so much trauma on each other. The guys from Tales of Eternia bickered constantly, but Leon actually tortured people. And like I said before, having your amnesiac character actually act like she'd sustained some brain damage was pretty fresh.

I also notice that there are like four Tales games now that I've never heard of. I haven't played any modern video games lately. There's all this stuff I want to play, but man, time and money. I really think it's about time to get a PS2, though. Does anyone know a good way to play North American and Japanese games on the same box? Are there still "mod chips?" Or do I have to make a choice?
roadrunnertwice: Vesta Tilley, Victorian drag king (WELL?! DO YOU?!?)

Mario: Gypsy strongman.

(Fair warning: The rest of the article is just kind of interesting, not genuine WTF.)
roadrunnertwice: Vesta Tilley, Victorian drag king (Reversal!)

I was really planning to not do this one, but nostalgia is a harsh mistress. This meme goes out to all my homies in the RPGFFSMB! The rest of you, seriously, don't click that. )

roadrunnertwice: Vesta Tilley, Victorian drag king (Vast and solemn spaces)
I started thinking of Kartia (PSX; SRPG) tonight when I ran into an old review I wrote, sitting around on my HD. And damn, that game is still revolutionary. Sure, it was tediously linear, had a somewhat simplistic battle system compared to other contemporary SRPGs, sported unimpressive graphics and sound, and mostly only sold on the strength of Yoshitaka Amano's artwork. But observe:

Unconventional cast. Well, yes, you've got your young knight out to prove himself and your young noblewoman determined to do something useful and justify her existence beyond her title. But the rest of the cast? They're basically volunteer EMTs/firefighters with crappy swords. That was new. Plus, they were flawed (Posha cracks under pressure; Troy is an asshole; Kun is prime, grade-A naïve virgin), interesting,* and by-and-large likable. And Kartia had plenty of non-plot-centric character interaction, which I've gone off about before w/r/t the Tales Of games.

Villains attempting something more interesting than either ruling or destroying the world. I won't spoil it for you.

Consistent and tightly integrated game system and story world. Every RPG reuses the main battle system mechanic as the central plot macguffin, but it's NEVER thought through very well. Except here. The card-writing system that fuels all of your equipment creation and magic use actually has a purpose BESIDES kicking ass. People use it to brew coffee, start campfires, put out structure fires, do landscaping and demolition work, fabricate tools, and perform both major and minor medical procedures.** There's a licensing bureaucracy in place, and your characters' capabilities in battle are limited to what endorsements they have on their ID. (As opposed to your above-the-law enemies, who can and will summon huge amounts of a dangerous and nearly uncontrollable caliber of Phantom, and bollocks to the DOL.) And there's none of this no-Phoneix-Down-for-Aeris bidness: Any main character goes down in battle, the game's over and you start the fight over again.

Basically, the cast has to live in the game world, instead of just visiting it whenever there's some ass to kick.

Kartia is one of the only video games I've played that could hold its own as a novel, and I don't say that lightly. I think it had some tricks up its sleeves that any fantasy storyteller could learn from.

* You know the stereotypical haircutting scene, whereby a female character makes some sort of vow of fortitude by giving herself an A-line cut with the nearest sword? Posha's was probably the only one of those I've ever believed in and cheered for. And she didn't magically get her act together afterwards, either; it was like pulling teeth the whole way. I think I consider her the bravest character in the whole game.

** There's this absolutely FABULOUS scene where a semi-major character is dying of massive contusions and hemorrhaging, and Posha is trying to save him. She orders the bystanders to start using Water and Iron Kartia to generate enough blood for a major transfusion, and starts using Stone cards to rebuild his crushed ribcage and probably a cracked femur. Totally fucking intense.

EDIT: Update on the Caffetto café: They DO have a bathroom, their coffee is decent, there's a new photography exhibit in here, they play awesome music, they've got baked goods from the Hard Times bakery instead of some random yahoos who use too much oil in their muffins, and they've got something like 30 different sodas. Plus their packaged sandwiches are things like hummus and gouda/veggie. I think we have a winner here, folks.
roadrunnertwice: Vesta Tilley, Victorian drag king (Default)
[ profile] verabee linked this Spore video, and dayum. I knew this project was shaping up to be... "grandiose..." but I'd no idea that this was what we'd be looking at.
roadrunnertwice: Vesta Tilley, Victorian drag king (Reversal!)
Hey bro, I just totally beat Tumiki Fighters! Ended up just shy of 2 million points. Turns out the secret to level 5 is that you need to start it with six lives.


Feb. 12th, 2006 09:17 pm
roadrunnertwice: Vesta Tilley, Victorian drag king (Spam tank)
Am I trippin, or did I just get spam from one of the gay gym bunnies from Final Fantasy VII?

"BRO!!!!" )
roadrunnertwice: Vesta Tilley, Victorian drag king (Viva! La Revolution!)
While perusing What We Learned From the Movies (believe it or not, I was using it and its associated materials in service of the reason they were on that server in the first place), I ran across this:
89. A slight blow to the head can cause total amnesia, but neither that nor a blow sufficient to knock a person unconscious is enough to cause concussion or other brain damage.

Remember Mary, from Tales of Destiny? She was the burly warrior redhead; wasn't connected to a Swordian*, so she was the one who ended up with all the "dumb" swords you find laying around. At the end of the game, she's probably the best call of the four or so auxiliary characters you can take. Anyway, her character arc, which wasn't really an arc at all but more of a short straight line with an arrow-thing on the end, hinged on a completely stale and cliché amnesia plotline, resulting, naturally, from head trauma during an event you find out about later.

Thing about Mary, though, was that you could actually believe she'd sustained enough brain damage to cause memory loss. She could be vague, daffy, was severely ADD, and sometimes took a bit longer than everyone else to figure out what was going on, on both an intellectual and an emotional level. She also tended to wander off whenever the whole team was doing something non-critical—in particular, I'm thinking of that great scene with Irene, where she disappears and then shows up five minutes later with ice cream. And if I'm remembering right, she was also quicker to resort to violence than anyone but Stahn and Khang, and Stahn was only the way he was because of a severe case of Don Quixote syndrome. (Khang, of course, had terminal testosterone poisoning, and counts even less than Stahn does.)

What you start with is a recipe for a total cipher: Amnesia is stale beans, and there's not much else in her actual backstory informing her actions. What you end up with is someone you genuinely like and sympathize with: Not only has she lost her memory, but her personality has been subtly altered; parts of how she's supposed to act are just dead, and she's had to learn how to route around them, with varying degrees of effectiveness. Even once she learns who she used to be, she's not going to magically be the same as she was; she'll always be a little bit slower, a little bit weirder, a little bit more frustrated.

And this doesn't just hit the emotional kicks, it helps explain some of her motivations in the story. Like the fact that she's traveling with Rutee at the beginning: If I was recovering from personality-altering brain damage, I'd feel a whole lot safer traveling with someone who had an obvious plan. Or, more poignantly, her optional reunion with the party late in the game. The stakes are now high enough that she's got a decent chance of dying, and she's just recently been united with her long-lost and presumed-dead husband. Hell, she's taken up cooking again. Fate of the world or no fate of the world, why in the FUCKING FUCK do you charge off to the Æthersphere with a bunch of basket cases and a passel of suicidal, emotionally crippled weaponry?

Well, how does it feel to be back with your husband again? He's just the same as he ever was, but... you're a little bit slower. A little bit weirder. Always a little bit more frustrated. Maybe you're a bit more comfortable with the people who only know you as you are, never knew you as you were. Maybe "Charge the castle and kill the immortal tyrant" is a hell of a lot less scary than "Re-learn what your lover is like and try to build a new life for yourselves."

* Intelligent swords. Sounds bogus, but it actually worked out interestingly; effectively, you had an entire second party traveling along with your primary characters, and each of them had their own old grudges and baggage. Kind of like the 大晶霊 in Tales of Eternia, but with a bit more edge, since they were originally humans and got sacrificed instead of being gods from the get-go.


roadrunnertwice: Vesta Tilley, Victorian drag king (Default)
Nick Eff

September 2017

345 67 89
10111213 141516
24 252627282930

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags

Most Popular Tags

Static and Noise

If you pass the rabid child, say "hammer down" for me.

The Fell Types are digitally reproduced by Igino Marini.

Style Credit