Sorry guys, I got careless looking for a registry cleaner and ended up getting hijacked. I've fixed it to the point where I'm able to access the internet again and not crash on me, but this looks like a doozy. I'm nearing the final steps (I hope) and will post 2 ASAP.
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- ▼ 2008 (84)
Saturday, April 19, 2008
I forgot to do an anime post, so here's one of Spiral (which my avatar is based off of).
Spiral is an anime based off a manga (I assume this can be implied by now) of the same name. The story revolves around Ayumu Narumi trying to figure out the link between his older brother, Kiyotaka Narumi, who disappeared two years ago and a group of people known as the "Blade Children." Existing throughout the world, the Blade Children, are those who will stop at nothing to achieve their destiny. While their presence is minute, there are those who shun them for who they are.
This is a 26 episoder with a plot line that uses mystery and logic to progress the story. (Bad analogy ahead) To make it simple, I would call Spiral a "Detective Conan with a solid storyline and character development. It's what Detective Conan should have been." The style of mystery used has that progression of accident/mystery --> investigation --> Conclusion/Solution. It's not a bad way to do it, but it's definitely something that's been done before. I always liked just watching an episode through just to go, "Oooh" or "Now I get it" at the end. In all honesty, it's not a technique I'm fond of, but it works. I mean... Look what happened to Death Note...
There's a good amount of character development for each individual character. The problem is, how the the story and the characters are affected as a whole. There's no meaning behind why they were called "Blade Children" and you're still left wondering what happened to Ayumu's brother. It's for the better that they didn't answer all the questions, but I thought the Blade Children thing was very important. I'm a person that's willing to simply go along with a story just so as long as the writers can wrap it up together, the problem is occasionally there were holes that didn't work too well.
Every character had a solid personality, which is what I loved the most. At first, you think Ayumu is just a "typical" delinquint/slacker archetype, but as you see later on. He actually works really hard. It's not like one of those typical, "works when he has to" types, he has certain triggers that seem to change his thought process. Then, each of the Blade Children are from around the world, each with their own reason as to why they should interact with the "Little Narumi." You also see the relationship between Ayumu and his sister-in-law, Madoka. It's very obvious that they're willing to have a relationship, but you can also see the very fine lines that could easily break it as well.
Rather than talking about the animation, which shows quality, but nothing spectacular, I want to talk about the direction in this anime. The director mixes up the style of mystery he uses throughout the series, which to some may show an inconsistent plot line, but to me shows work. There are parts where, if you were to use a certain style for that scenario, it wouldn't work. The use of humor was also very well done. It ranged from subtle to very blatant depending on how the story was progressing, and my only wish was that there was more of it. At points, there seemed to be too much tension, that a little quick snip may have worked. But I greatly appreciated the subtle humor used as I don't see that as often anymore. What's great about it is how it uses a peculiar quirk of a character to stand out.
Voice acting was generally solid, and American voice acting was generally off. 14 year olds sound like they're 20. 18 year olds sound like their 30, and the others sound like they're 7 years younger... What's even better? There's VA commentary in which they thought they did an AWESOME job. NO joke. I watched the DVDs and looked over the extra features... There were commentaries from the voice actors and they honestly thought they were doing an amazing job. I thought Ayumu was done well, but the other characters were so pompous. It then really makes me realize as to why the American industry has such a hard time getting quality dubs out. Yes, it was interesting to see the insight into what went on in the studio, but it was a bad insight. I didn't want to see that. Or rather, I didn't want to confirm my doubts...
Saturday, April 12, 2008
I still didn't beat it, but I think I've gotten far enough.
Crisis Core is about a SOLDIER officer named Zack Fair who gets caught up in a problem within his company, Shinra Electric, with a defected 1st rank officer, Genesis. Reasons as to why his highly respected officer deserts his company is found out as you progress through the story.
Now for the fandom. I'm sure that a lot of you know this game is the prequel to Final Fantasy 7. For those of you who've gotten far enough, you know that a lot of Cloud's memories are fake and based off of Zack's. Thus, getting the backstory of Final Fantasy 7 is really interesting. You get to learn why some characters did what they did. You also get to see a lot of where Cloud's memories are derived from.
What makes this game likable however, are the characters. I'm not talking about how they were compared to FF7 (though, they were pretty cookie cutter.), but how they are in general. You don't just have the typical elitist high ranking officers. You really see how they were able to obtain their rank (besides skill). One thing that bugs me is how every character seems to have one peculiar aspect that makes him stand out. It's not that the character as a person stands out, it's that what defines him is a single trait. For example. Zack, is famous for his squats. If he didn't do his squats, he wouldn't be Zack. Genesis, has this creepy obsession with a literary work known as LOVELESS. If he didn't quote LOVELESS every other time, he would just be another typical pretty boy. Angeal needs to wail on about his "honor" otherwise, he's moot. You can't describe a character in a broad sense, only with that single defining trait which, to me, shows poor writing.
Graphically, this game is intense. Compiling a lot of pre-rendered videos while using the PSP to it's near full potential is what Square-Enix is capable of. What's also characteristic of Crisis Core is what is characteristic of all Final Fantasy games. By that I mean, digustingly time-consuming summons. While this time around, you're allowed to skip the pre-rendered stuff, it's still really long. (Yes, Bahamut is still 1 and a half minutes)What I'm still bothered about is how the main and secondary characters have "baby faces." By that, I mean perfect skin where the lighting shows no visual faults. Even actors have wrinkles and features, but apparently everyone that's "important" has the time to spend on conditioning their skin every morning in the Final Fantasy games. I'm not saying it's bad to have pretty boys, but when it covers half the cast... in every game... that's a problem.
Now for gameplay. It's a decent action RPG system. It kind of reminds me of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, without the cards. Your attacks, materia and items are in a straight line and you can flip through which action you want to take with X. Triangle guards (though I never use it) and Square rolls, which allows you to dodge pretty much every attack except for specials (which I use all the time). What I'm bothered about this game however, is how much it wants to be a Playstation 2 game, but fails with the inadequate number of shoulder buttons. I'll explain what I mean. On the field, L and R change the camera. Once you're in battle, L and R change which action you want to take and the ability to change the camera is gone. The camera is "supposed" to move along with your movements, but it seems to suffer from "entity syndrome." What I mean by that is that, the camera itself is considered an entity, which means it will bump and STOP against walls. So what do you do when you try to get a better angle along the wall? You spin the camera in the other direction, but what happens when you can't control the camera? Problems occur.
Also, with the lack of free buttons, you can't change targets, and so Zack auto targets whomever is closest to him. This becomes a problem when you're fighting more than one monster (which is always). If you're trying to take the strongest monster out first, you have to be hugging the thing the entirety of the battle, which provides you with less time to react to the enemies movements. There's also no radar which is a pain occasionally as monsters from off the screen tend to cast ranged magic, or just shoot you from a safe distance, and you have no idea when they're going to fire. Honestly, all of these issues could be fixed with a use of a D-pad, and two extra shoulder buttons (Square-Enix thinks people LIKE using the D-pad to move around in an action RPG (apparently, Tales of the World wasn't enough to give other companies a clear message) and not the joystick, so they give an option to use either one and completely negate any other use of the D-pad). If this were to come out on the PS2, all of these problems would've been fixed.
Honestly, as a stand-alone. I liked playing Crisis Core. It gave off a feeling that all you were doing was quests at times (though all side-quests ARE technically optional but since there's like.. 120 of them, you might as well try to complete as many as possible) but the story, or rather the progression is nice. The game is crazy easy however. Once you get Materia fusion, the game is a cakewalk. My friends call me a "gamebreaker" because I abuse the customization in games to the point that I have godly stats early on. I blame it on Disgaea, but I can't help it if I skipped all the second tier skills and just used third. They gave me the option to, they can't complain. SO WHAT if my HP+ materia gives me 120% at lvl 1, or if my lvl 2 Firaga gives me 80% extra MP when I'm only lvl 14. They put that in there, I'm just there to use it to its fullest extent.
Oh yeah, and this is before Cloud is in need of depressants, which then sparked this interesting dialogue that my friend and I made up.
Zack: "Oh hey, Cloud. How are you?"
Cloud: "Hey, I'm feeling great. Life is beautiful you know?"
Zack: "What'cha got there?"
Cloud: "This? Oh, this is just a clock that tells me how much time I have left until my depression kicks in."
Zack: "That's kinda depressing..."
Cloud: "Whoa, whoa. Let's not go there."
I don't care if you're not into it. I think it's funny.
What's after this? Baroque. I got it on it's release date and playing it 'till I get Arcana Hearts... Damn that delay.