Saturday, July 28, 2012

Golden Sun 3's Former Heroes' Aging

So! You’ve got an intellectual property about magical world-saving that was at least moderately successful. You like money, and you want to make more of it. What’re you gonna do? Make a sequel, of course! But the last part of your series was released a good few years ago, and its story was seemingly fully concluded. How do you continue the series in a way that stays true to its origins so you can use the events and characters of your world to their fullest, but also in a fresh, new direction to draw the attention of a new audience?

Why, make the new story all about the children of the original story’s heroes, of course!

Yes, in Golden Sun 3, Nintendo makes the bold decision to follow in the footsteps of adolescent fanfiction writers and Disney direct-to-video sequels, and fills the roles of Protagonist and most of the major cast with the children of the main characters of Golden Sun 1 and 2. I could criticize this for being a pretty standard and cheap way to go about things, but I’m not really going to harp on it, for a couple reasons. First, this trope is, though certainly not foreign to the genre, actually a lot less common in RPG sequels than one could reasonably expect. Second, the entire primary cast of GS1 and 2 are all very bland and unremarkable characters anyway, so if a sequel’s gonna offer me a chance for a re-roll on character personalities, I’m all for it.* So normally, I’d just let this one pass, no need for a rant.

Except that this game does something with this lazy plot direction that nothing else does. In an astounding show of creativity and stupidity, GS3’s writers actually went out of their way to invalidate the entire premise of the Heroes’ Kids Take Over World Saving idea they went with. I was gonna give them a free pass on it, and they went and screwed it up. See, the reason from a writing perspective for starring the kids of the previous heroes I have gone into, but there’s really only one surface reason for passing the hero mantle on to the next generation: the previous generation is too old/too dead to keep up the do-gooding themselves. If the kids are going to be allowed to do the world-saving thing, the parents must be incapable of doing so themselves or else they, as the experienced warriors and ones presumably burdened with an instinctual need to keep their offspring safe, would be out vanquishing bad guys themselves.

Well, the heroes of Golden Sun 1 and 2 are not dead. And they haven’t all been captured or put into magical comas or anything. So the natural reason for them all to be minor side characters instead of the game’s stars is obvious, right? They’re too old now. GS3 takes place 30 years after GS1 and 2, after all, meaning these guys’d be in their mid-40s. In RPG terms, that’s 15 - 20 years too old (and at the same time 20 years too young; once you hit your mid-60s you become viable to fill the spot of Tough As Nails Geezer on a team) to be out adventuring. So no problem, right? Those strong, capable, sleek, experienced fighters of the past are now just a bunch of doughy, slovenly middle-aged chumps, right?

Yeah, not so much. See, according to Golden Sun 3, heroes of the previous games--all 8 of them--have barely aged at all since the end of Golden Sun 2, due to being at ground zero of the magical world-changing end event of GS2. This is a fact that the game takes care to mention more than once, and it’s obvious from looking at Isaac and Garret at the beginning of GS3, as they look like they’re in their late 20s, at oldest. And since you get to see them in action early in the game, while at the same time watch them try to teach their stupid kids the basics about battles and adventuring and such, you can’t even say that they’re too out of practice.

What in the world is Nintendo thinking here? If the heroes of the previous games are concretely established to be still physically fit and knowledgeable enough to be the ones leading the game’s adventure, then what the heck is the point of making the kids take over? Wouldn’t it make even a little more sense for at least a couple of all-powerful parents to join their kids in these world-saving ventures? At the very least, Isaac and Garret could have split forces at the beginning of the game, have one stay put to keep up their all-important plot business and have the other take a jaunt with some of the kids over to the next region or whatever to get the replacement glider machine thingy. That seems a lot more sensible than both parents just sending their sons off to do the errand alone and unsupervised, especially after all the concern the parents had about the kids’ ability to overcome the relatively minor ordeals that the game opens with. Maybe when Golden Sun 4 comes out and continues the story we’ll see the kids and hero parents team up, since the younger generation will then have some experience, but as it stands now, Golden Sun 3’s decision to clearly show the previous generation’s heroes as being more than physically fit to take up adventuring again is puzzling.

* Not that it did much good. Aside from Sveta, GS3’s characters are just as uninteresting as their predecessors, and even Sveta’s only barely noteworthy.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

General RPGs' AMVs 5

I reckon y'all know the deal by now with these Anime Music Video rants. Watch these, and if you like'em, then vote'em up or leave a comment expressing your approval, because they often don't have enough recognition. Enjoy.


Fallout Series: Never Again, by Joylock:
The music used is Never Again, by Disturbed. Joylock is not a new name around this rant blog; twice before I've put up his Fallout AMVs in these General RPG AMV rants, and I also did a rant exclusively devoted to another of them. As far as Fallout AMVs go, everything he touches seems golden. This one, like all his others, impresses its audience not only by following the ideas, tone, and lyrics of the music with its visual component, but by analyzing the symbolic nature of the Fallout series, its spirit, expressing the nature of the games rather than just their surface elements. In fact, and it bruises my pride a bit to say this, I think Joylock may actually even be better than me at analyzing the depth of the Fallout series, because this entire AMV's premise focuses on an aspect of the series that I hadn't fully realized was there--the fact that the main antagonistic force of every major game to date (so long as you count Caesar's Legion in Fallout: New Vegas, which you honestly should, because they're utterly evil dickholes) has always been motivated by a need to, in one way or another, completely exterminate individual, cultural, and/or social diversity. That's a recurring element of the series that I hadn't even considered prior to this AMV, and considering that the series is all about portraying and examining American culture, a culture and country that has traditionally been a champion of individualism and self-determination, it's a very cool little pocket of symbolic depth to discover and mull over! At any rate, this AMV effectively showcases this recurring struggle against forced assimilation throughout the Fallout series both through the music (a song about standing against Nazis and all who would emulate them) and by using the Fallout editing programs for Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas to recreate the cast and struggles of Fallout 1 and 2, letting the struggle the AMV shows be well-represented for all the games in which it occurred. The only real problems I have with this video are that Caesar's speech in the beginning is too quiet compared to the ones preceding it, Fallout 2's president doesn't get his speech added in with the other games' antagonists even though I'm pretty sure it had several appropriate lines, and the fact that too much of the video just consists of slow-motion scenes of 2 opposing forces fighting each other at point-blank range. Were it not for these flaws, I probably would have taken this AMV and done a full rant about it. Nevertheless, it's still VERY good.


Final Fantasy 8: Headlock, by ScaythedByNight:
The music used is Headlock, by Imogen Heap. There's not a lot to say about this one, really, it's just overall a significantly well-structured AMV. The scenes sync up well with the lyrics often enough, and most often coordinate quite well with the music itself, which is important with Headlock, since the song's strength lies almost entirely with the tune. This AMV causes me to once again be surprised at the way a good music video can make a lousy game seem so much better through the eyes of the AMV. This is just an overall good, solid video.

Final Fantasy 8: My Immortal, by xxFantasyDreamerxx:
The music used is My Immortal, by Evanescence. Oh for God's sake. I don't believe this. I figured last rant's Rinoa x Squall Celine Dion thing would be a one-time thing, but...sigh. Here we are, another FF8 AMV about Squall and Rinoa. Trust me, no one is more disappointed and angry with me than I am. But what can I do? This AMV's just really good, alright? I hate FF8, I utterly abhor Rinoa and Squall, and the love story between them is so sickeningly meaningless, spontaneous, and dumb that it actually makes the game's plot look sensible by comparison, but...I can't deny that this AMV uses its song and video clips very effectively to paint the game and especially these 2 in a positive light. Just watch it and see for yourself; it's a solid piece of work.

Final Fantasy 10: Tidus's Story, by T0mb0ner:
The music used is Crawling in the Dark, by Hoobastank, a strong contender in any contest for Worst Band Names Ever. At times this AMV goes a little overboard with overlapping scenes on top of each other, but overall, everything syncs together very well, and is very enjoyable to watch.


The Legend of Zelda Series: Kick Your A, by klab0010:
The music used is Kick Your A, an Overclocked Remix by SGX for the game Beatmania 2DX 7th Style. This AMV is interesting in that it uses a fan-made remix for a video game as its music. It works well, though. This AMV's got some problems--there're some visual glitches here and there, and there are times when all the visual editing just gets convoluted and confusing. Nonetheless, it manages to live up to the cool and somewhat epic feel of the music it uses well, showing off The Legend of Zelda series in an engaging tribute.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword: Breath, by SpeikobraRote:
The music used is Breath, by Breaking Benjamin. For being built on a ridiculous and stupid idea (romantically pairing Link and Ghirahim), this is...surprisingly good. I’ve seen literally hundreds of AMVs devoted to fan pairings, and given their usual level of terrible quality, I wouldn’t have thought one with a couple this absurd would do well (hell, romantic pairing AMVs rarely work when using a game’s ACTUAL coupling choices), but this one’s solid. The lyrics often coordinate well with what’s shown on the screen, the feel of the music works very well with the video component, and the relationship aspect of the AMV isn’t overplayed or shoved in your face--and it’s about as realistic as it can be, too, grounding itself well in animosity and antagonism. Have to admit it, this is a solid product.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword: Promise of a Lifetime, by 00peachy00:
The song used is Promise of a Lifetime, by Kutless. This one’s a bit silly and sappy at times (not to mention it’s supporting a pairing only a little less odd than the AMV above), but overall, it’s pretty decent, coordinating the feel and events of the video well to the lyrics and tone of the song. It’s rather short and doesn’t use the entire song, but it’s cut well enough that this isn’t particularly noticeable. Not bad, not bad at all.


Mass Effect 2: Tali Tribute, by Vendo233:
The music used is Time, from the Inception soundtrack. For some reason or another, Mass Effect 2 spawned few traditional AMVs, but a veritable horde of tribute videos, which in this case are basically background music playing over lines of dialogue and scenes which emphasize some character, quality, or emotional theme of the game. I've listed a few of these before here (in fact, one entry was a link to an individual's entire Youtube channel, who had made a good dozen or 2 of the things that were almost all quite good), and here's another notably worthwhile one. The use of dialogue by and referring to Tali, the selection of scenes, and the coordination with the Inception music is done really well here. I admit that this Inception track can make practically anything seem really great, but I nonetheless think this video takes good advantage of its tune and matches scenes and dialogue to its melody very well. Overall, this is a great portrayal of Tali, showing her character, her relationship with Shepard, and her identity as a member of her people. Check it out.


My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic: Ponysona 3, by loljailbait:
The music used is Burn My Dread, from the Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 soundtrack. Okay, so...yeah. I covered my reasons for including a My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic AMV in my RPG AMV list the last time I did this, so really, just go back there for the justification. Given how scarily industrious bronies are, I guess that it was a foregone conclusion that after someone made the Ponysona 4 AMV I showed you last time, someone was going to give the same treatment to SMT: Persona 3. Really, I should just copy-paste everything I said last time about Ponysona 4, because it's all pretty much exactly the same--this AMV is accurate to every detail of SMTP3's opening, clever and appropriate in its use of the My Little Pony elements, and basically just a completely perfect blend of the 2 extremely different elements of Ponies and Persona. The creator of this AMV has even helpfully made another video that shows both the AMV and the original SMTP3 opening running at the same time, which is great, because does my job for me in convincing you of just how exact and appropriate everything in this AMV is: . Suffice to say, someone really did everything they could to make this an enjoyable crossover, and I think they succeeded very well.


Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3: Deathbed, by ellyros:
The music used is Deathbed, by Relient K. Under normal circumstances, I'm not sure this AMV would get on this list--it's decent, but there's plenty of times during its length where the video just seems like filler, and isn't really connected to the song at all. I'm not saying it's a foregone conclusion that it wouldn't be on here, but I'd have to think about it. But, look at the length of this AMV. You aren't reading that wrong--this video is over 10 minutes long, and it's not from filler content or anything. This song actually takes about that long, and this AMV follows it through to its end. Quite frankly, the idea that there's actually 10 minutes' worth of FMV footage to use from SMTP3 is surprising to me to begin with (well, I guess there isn't, since some of the video is game footage, but that's just a small part, and feels more like the maker's personal aesthetic choice than anything), and the fact that this AMV manages to competently use the game's footage to connect to and tell the story of this song for so long is rather impressive. I mean, like I said, it's not perfect and there are plenty of parts where the connection kind of fizzles, but the meshing of visual and audio here works more often than it doesn't, and with a length like this, that still means that this video spends more time being a good combination of the game and the song than most AMVs do that are perfectly connected from start to finish.

Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 + 4: Personal Over, by AXISPW:
The music used is Sunday Lover, by Guano Apes. Not an amazing AMV, but a pretty good one. The visual effects used are sometimes a little much, but are overall employed effectively, and mixed well with the visuals that the games provide. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that this does much to link the lyrics to the game footage all that much, but the general sound and flow of the song’s meshed pretty well with the video, and overall the end result is a pleasantly decent AMV.

Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4: The Fool Calling, by ChaosKnight241:
The music used is The World Calling, by There for Tomorrow. The start of this is pretty darned cool with the TV and all, really grabs your attention, and the quality of the AMV is good enough to keep it. This one uses clips from both the game and the recently begun anime remake, and connects well with the song's overall tone and feeling. It also connects quite well to the lyrics at times, too, and it ends well, going back to the TV effect it opened with. Good stuff.


The World Ends with You: Angel with a Shotgun, by DispatchedCrewStudio:
The music used is Angel with a Shotgun, by The Cab. I continue to be impressed with fans’ ability to make AMVs out of this game’s effective yet limited semi-video footage. This is a pretty awesome AMV, making great use out of the song and video, meshing the two in their tones and changes, coordinating well with the lyrics, effectively telling a story through the AMV, and even doing a good job with using scans of a TWEwY comic of some sort (I assume a fan comic, but I don’t really know) and vocals from the game. My one complaint is that its conclusion seems strange and unnecessarily fangirlish/fanboyish (becoming a Neku x Joshua pairing video relying too much on the comic scans), but other than that, this AMV is really good.