Monday, March 6, 2006

Star Ocean 2's Characters

Well, it's Monday, and I've just realized I haven't thought of a goddamn thing to do a blog rant on this week, since I'm not in the usual environment which I make them in (school's off this week, so I'm not having to find ways to pass my time in a computer lab). So, in the spirit of the only entry I've made previously that was funny, here are my thoughts on Star Ocean 2's main characters!

Needless to say, large spoilers, as always.

Claude: I've noticed that, quite often in anime and RPGs, the position of "Main Hero" will be given to the most boringly average chunkheads imaginable. They just sort of bumble along, being heroic for the sake of maintaining their position without ever really developing themselves past an interest in whatever pretty girl they're hooked on. In this tradition of Butz and Alex and Dart and so many others, Claude rises up to blandly go where every hero has gone before. About the largest amount of real development ever given him seems to happen in the beginning of the game, where it is determined that he is not only our unimaginative meathead hero, but also a complete dumbass.

He's part of a crew, son of the captain, and they're examining some ruins giving them odd readings. He finds a button, and tells his fathercaptain and says he wants to push it. Actually I think it's a strange device and he just wants to touch it rather than push it, but for the sake of humor, we will pretend it is a button. Conversation goes something like this.

"No, don't push it."
"Dude, I am totally going to push it."
"No, it might be dangerous. Let the science officer look at it."
"STFU that's not going to get us anywhere look the only way to ever know anything about this button is not through scientific analysis but by pushing it and that is what I am going to do."
"Kid, I am your father telling you that you are not pushing that button."
"But daaaaaaaaaaad you don't understand! This button is being pushed by me!"
"Get AWAY from that fucking button you fucking tool, THIS IS YOUR CAPTAIN SPEAKING TO YOU, PRIVATE DIPSHIT. DON'T. TOUCH. IT."

Clearly, an intellectual giant, here.

Rena: Rena is the other hero of the game, as you can choose between her and Claude in the beginning. The choice doesn't really make a significant difference, though. The game's plot does not change in the slightest way, and it's not like she's any less a boring stereotype than he is. Rena is the MYSTICAL ANIME GIRL, who can use healing powers, and doesn't know her true origins. This makes her MYSTERIOUS (the designers hope). But don't worry! As unbelievably unlikely as it all is, you will find out where she's really from in the course of the adventure, because, believe it or not, it is tied in with the plot! What are the ODDS?

Celine: Big-titted sorceress with a flirty way of speaking. How new.

Ashton: Ashton is somewhat original, almost. He really likes barrels, basically. His obsession with barrels, though, is about all that sets him apart from a random NPC following you. While you would THINK he has an opportunity for some decent characterization due to having 2 dragons melded into his shoulders, there is remarkably little really noted on this characteristic, with one quick sidequest to remove them revealing that he actually would miss them and doesn't want them to go and die. Then, once that's done, which can be as early as 20 minutes after you meet him, he shuts up about anything that could be used for real depth of character and instead babbles about barrels on occasion. Awesome.

Dias: "My ultra-happy-sunny-cheerful sister was killed and I vowed to become a strong, silent, asshole fucktard broody swordsman to make up for it! I'm sure that my cute, happy little sister would be very proud of how I've severed all ties to any emotion beyond angst."

Also, for all his supposed power, his sword swings take a second too long and make him often utterly useless in combat since enemies will continue to pummel him while he awkwardly attempts to attack.

Opera: She's a girl with 3 eyes who came looking for her boyfriend and crashed. She has a gun. That's...about it.

Earnest: Opera's boyfriend, who is very deserving of her devotion because he pays more attention to ancient ruins than her and mostly just ignores her completely while they are both in the party.

Precis: Prototype Rikku. Same empty mind, similar clothes, same interest in machines, same shallow and idiotic personality, same arm-weapon.

Precis's Robot: Has absolutely no impact on anything ever.

Bowman: Basically, it's like your friend's dad decided to come along to chaperone all you kids, but you keep getting this feeling that he's just there to stare at jailbait ass.

Leon: A magical little boy whose parents totally encourage to develop new ways to kill things.

Noel: Frankly, there are no words yet invented for how uninteresting Noel is. He is so boring that 4 times after getting him in my party, during story scenes, I actually wondered for several moments what a random NPC was doing in my group before remembering that he existed. It is paradoxically incredible how boring he is.

Chisato: The only actual decent character in the entire game, and even then, not for anything deep or real. She is simply quirky and neat enough that she does not end up coming across as boring or stupid like the rest.

And it helps that she is, without doubt, the most powerful character in the game. She runs about twice as fast as every other fighter around the field of combat, she attacks twice in each regular attack, her special attack Teargas is monstrously powerful, and she can equip a shield that can instantly kill whoever attacks her, be it regular enemies, bosses, ultra-bosses, end bosses, or even enemies who you are scripted to lose against.

10 Wise Men: Frankly, these villains are sad. Most games can make do with just 1 or even 2 brainless ultra-villains who just inexplicably want to destroy and conquer with no rationale. This game, however, decided it needed 10 random psychos for the job.

Now, the developers seemed to sense, at the end, that they were doing a shitty job with this game. They barely had backgrounds for their major characters, and had nothing for the Wise Men. So to try to save their asses without actually putting any effort into a real solution, they added a hard-to-access scene hidden in the game where Chisato mentions that her research suggests the possibility that the Wise Men may have had a reason for their evils in the past. Yes, that's it. Rather than give a reason, the bone the writers throw the player is that the villains MIGHT have ONCE had an unseen reason for what they did.

Marvelous job at building villains.

Mayor Narl: Okay, he's actually not a main character and not a villain. But I just HAVE to mention this fucktard here. Okay. So let's say you're in charge of leading an assault on these ultra-powerful 10 villains whom normal weapons don't seem to work against. Do you do it: A. Immediately, or B. After Acquiring The Material You Need To Actually Hurt Them? Well, Narl picks A, and leads an assault which just ends in futility and the deaths of several of his soldiers, and THEN, once everyone's either killed or has retreated with him, he then says "Well, maybe we should make some weapons that could hurt those guys."

That's not all, though. At the end of the game, Narl decides to let his planet-thing be destroyed. Now, it's a necessary loss, yes. But he doesn't even bother to TRY to evacuate anyone. He explains it as Nede having gotten too far ahead, and become stagnant, so they need to just be gone. Well that's just DANDY, man, I'm sure that you speak for every single one of the MILLIONS of people you just decided need to die. Best elected official EVER.

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