Tag Archives: game

I finished a JRPG and damn does it feel good

18 Aug

Much as I enjoy RPG as a genre in video games, leveling up your characters and being immersed in the story, I never really gotten around to finishing playing. It takes too long and I would lose interest as the “grinding” (i.e. doing same stuff over and over and over…and over) leaves me feeling burnt out.

nothing but a barely cute showboat at the high school competition.

barely cute.

Persona 4, however, is a different story.

My friend Albert got me Persona 4 Golden for the PS Vita last fall.

When I first began playing, it was okay but didn’t grab my interest as much. The Fusion (combining your ‘Pokemon spirits’ to make bigger, powerful ones) got me confused, Social Links came off as tacky (“oh so-and-so opened up a little…*flash* friendship leveled up!). But while the game was not hinged on the “save the princess/world/both”, I was intrigued on solving the mystery of  who was committing these murders and kidnappings in Inaba, a small town in Japan.

(So okay, you can argue eventually it becomes “save the world”, but by that point in the game, I’m already invested. Not some old stranger going up to me and without any context say “save the world, tarnations!”)

Another friend, who is not familiar with RPGs, asked me to describe what Persona 4 Golden is like, and I said something along the lines like: “Bunch of high school kids investigate a murder mystery and it plays like Pokemon.”

After about seven hours into the game, something clicked. Maybe it’s the story got more interesting or the Fusion made sense. So fast-forward some 93 hours, I finally achieved getting the True Ending after getting two bad ones. I always thought completing a JRPG was somewhat impossible as I’ll easily be sidetracked by side quests and other video games on my backlog. But have a fascinating story, smooth interface, and the option for my character to date someone (Yukiko’s taken, sorry), then I’m onboard.

Also, after having played the game, it made this comic pretty damn awesome to read. (There’s always the animated/voiced version on Youtube. Do read it first.)

Felt so good to have played it well. I really don’t want to leave Inaba. (I will return someday, maybe.) So now I’m playing Persona Arena and Persona 3. Looking forward to Persona 5.

 

 

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one subversive video game i played

11 Jun

A couple of years ago, there was a huge splash in the headlines about the negative influence that video games had on the youth. The one leading the charge was Jack Thompson, an outspoken activist known for making bold, sweeping claims.

Kind of like a 1950’s throwback of Fredric Wertham, who claimed that comics were harmful as noted in his book Seduction of the Innocent. He was able to persuade the public the dangers of this medium enough for him to appear before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee of Juvenile Delinquency. This generated unfavorable public opinion on comics and comic book publishers responded by printing the Comic Code Authority stamp on almost every comic book cover.¹ This assured that the work is approved because it follows a bunch of rules like depicting authority figures in a good light and not showing excessive violence.

Thompson, on the other hand, only prompted some hysteria but eventually it led to his downfall.

So if you were to probe for any subversive influence video games may had on me, there is one I recall. No, I didn’t follow the urge to have unprotected sex due to the hot coffee mod found in GTA: San Andreas, but rather it’s more peculiar.

I thought Joseph Stalin was a pretty cool guy.

*

When I was in elementary school, my brother purchased a strategy video game called Command & Conquer: Red Alert. It opens with Albert Einstein using a time machine to erase Adolf Hitler from existence, which then leads to the Allies facing against the Soviets during this alternate World War II. The player can choose to start a campaign as either side.

The Soviets have cooler-looking units to command such as a Grenadier and the Flamethrower while the Allies had the Medic and Thief instead…boring. The defensive structure you can build are memorable such as the Flame Tower that shoots a huge ball of fire and the Tesla Coil that zaps; both of them able to render the enemy infantry into pixelated crisp. And most of all, the units speak with a Russian accent. (In hindsight, why would the Soviet soldiers address in English when you’re commanding them? Okay, the targeted gamer is likely one who speaks English but humor me.)

It began with me imitating their accents while I was playing the missions. I enjoyed seeing Joseph Stalin’s mustache during those cheesy, overdramatic videos shown between missions. But then, the influence expanded from the private to the public sphere.

When my teacher assigned me to write a short biography, I chose to write about Stalin. So I wrote about his early life including him on the path to becoming a priest. I was also required to draw a portrait of him as well. I recall depicting him as a could-have-been holy man, and no, I didn’t draw any tanks in the background.

I wish I knew what my teacher thought of my choice while normal kids did theirs on Neil Armstrong and Babe Ruth, but I know for sure that I didn’t get sent to the principal’s office for being suspected of being a fourth grader with any Communist sympathy in the late 90s when he really just enjoyed the fancy units, the Russian accent and Stalin’s stache.

*

Thanks to my high school and college history classes, I now know how cruel Joseph Stalin was and some scholars even argue that in the long run Stalin had killed many more people than Hitler did. (Many of the people the Soviet dictator killed was his own people.) I wouldn’t have made friends if I told them about how cool Stalin was.

I do remember this one quote by Stalin that was shown in the game.

“One death is a tragedy; one million is a statistic.”

For a ruthless dictator, he made a somewhat poignant statement. Probably learned it the hard way.

¹The underground comix was an exception because the artists rebelled by producing their own homemade works with a lot more provocative yet thought-provoking content.