Thursday, November 28, 2019

Fire Emblem 16's Byleth is a Moron

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Here's a rant that has absolutely nothing to do with the holiday because Palutena forbid I actually make an effort to maintain any chronological relevance whatsoever.

Note: I’ll be referring to Byleth as a female for this rant. While I usually (admittedly not always) try to acknowledge player gender choice in protagonists for whom the option is present, there are a few games whose protagonist’s gender aligns better in terms of theme, character development opportunities, or even just surface reasons like vocal talent with 1 of the gender options than the other. Like Male Shepard in Mass Effect, or Nora in Fallout 4. Given the connection Byleth has to Sothis and just her origins overall, I think it’s fair to say that Byleth’s being a woman is more logically consistent to the overall particulars of Fire Emblem 16’s story. That’s simply how I perceive the game, and it’s easier for me (not to mention a lot more fluent for my overall prose) to just go with Byleth as a woman while ranting. Hope it won’t be too big a stumbling block for y’all.

Superman is a goddamn moron.

Look, I don’t read the comics. So maybe this issue isn’t a problem in the source material. But in cartoons and movies and cartoon movies? Superman may as well not even fucking HAVE heat vision, because the only damn time he ever remembers to use it is when it’s narratively convenient for him to. The guy has the ability to spit lasers from his fucking eyes, beams of pure nuclear heat almost twice the temperature of the core of the sun (seriously, that's what the Wiki says), and yet, somehow, even though this asshole can unleash unfathomable cosmic devastation with surgical precision by doing no more than moving his goddamn eyes...this Kryptonian stooge’s go-to strategy in every fight is invariably to get in close and punch something. Every time he decides to instantaneously launch the fire of God from his peepers, it’s for some non-combat support role, like welding steel beams together to keep a structure stable, or performing laser surgery, or just shaving himself. All helpful purposes for it, of course, but he doesn’t have to choose between using his gift of reverse laser eye surgery to be the celebrity chef at a boy scout wiener roast or to melt offending enemy limbs. He should be able to do both! If he ever manages to remember that he is the living personification of the expression “If looks could kill”, it’s only against specific enemies who are so impossibly strong that heat vision can’t beat them, or some stupid robot grunts that are so weak anyways that fucking Chief O’Hara, the most useless human being ever to darken DC’s or any other superhero continuity, could probably have taken them out. At least half of all the battles or other dire situations I’ve seen Superman engaged in could have been either outright won, or at the very least substantially improved, by the application of heat vision.

Remember that episode from The Animated Series where Superman’s fighting Metallo, and he’s trying to find ways to stay further away from the villain so as to stay out of Kryptonite range, like smacking him with telephones poles and stuff? Remember how at no fucking point does Superman think to maintain his combat distance by using his built in long-range super power? And remember how the kryptonite hookup in Metallo is so weak and flimsy that in a much later episode of a show in the same continuity, a power-drained Supergirl was able to cut the wires holding the kryptonite there in Metallo’s chest, not even with her own heat vision, but an honest-to-Highfather medieval knife?

Jesus Fucking Christ.

So yes. Superman is a pea-brained moron for consistently forgetting that he has a literal death-stare. I’ve always been so frustrated by how lazy and unimaginative his writers are with his powers, only bothering to fully utilize them when it’s either completely narratively convenient, or when they’ll have no effect on the situation anyway.

And now that you know how annoyed I am by Superman constantly forgetting about the superpower of heat vision for the sake of lazy can imagine my feelings on Fire Emblem 16’s Byleth and her refusal to ever use her control over time itself.

This woman has the ability to turn the hands of time back several minutes at will, multiple times in a row if she needs to. That is unequivocally 1 of the most overpowered abilities yet conceived in fiction! In some stories, a device that can allow this even just once is the most sought-after treasure in existence--Galaxy Quest very justly made ownership of a simple 13-second time-reverse plot thingy, the Omega 13, the center of its plot’s conflict. And Byleth’s version of this can go waaaaayyyyy farther back than a mere 13 seconds! This idiot has the ability to Groundhog Day herself with a single thought, several times if need be...and she SQUANDERS it!

Okay, yes, the Divine Pulse, as it’s called, is available to the player in any battle to use at any time, allowing the player to jump back any number of turns to undo a bad decision. And I’d wager it gets plenty of action in just about everyone’s playthrough of the game, regardless of difficulty setting. Sothis knows I did, although I’m certainly no Fire Emblem master.

But gameplay mechanics and in-battle actions are 1 thing, and the plot’s narrative is another thing altogether! And in terms of the latter, Byleth is just as much an incompetent goon with her abilities as Superman at his absolute worst. When she walks into a trap set by some pissy old warlock who appears to have Grade 8 brain tumors inflating his cranium, does Byleth use any of the several moments the guy spends springing his magical trap to reverse time 30 seconds and then not step into the giant magical roach motel? Nope, she just lets herself get sucked into a nether realm, the escape from which leads to the sacrifice of her mental roommate.

When Byleth is knocked into a giant chasm in the midst of battle, does her survival instinct kick in during this moment of the most primal, universal mortal fear possible and cause her to rewind reality back to a time where she was still terrestrial? Nope, she just lets herself fall into a pit that’ll damage her so badly that it’ll take 5 years of heal-napping and a plothole nearly as big as the chasm itself to get her back on her feet. An entire war might have been cut off before it could begin had Byleth just bothered to hit the ZL button.

When the enemy masterminds of the game’s conflicts stand before Byleth and then teleport away after delivering their necessary exposition, does Byleth ever consider that she could go back in time a few minutes, ask 1 of her archer pals to go stand behind a nearby tree, and take a shot while the bad guy’s busy yammering about lofty yet ill-advised social revolutions and whatnot? Nope, she just stands there as still and lifeless as a damn mannequin until the Flame Emperor has said his inevitably stupid piece and vanishes off to continue completely incorrectly prioritizing the order of which foes he’s taking on.

When an enemy decides to pull the old “Sore Loser (Who Possesses Nuclear Missiles)” card, does Byleth think to spin time back a minute or 2, so she can make even the slightest attempt to prevent said bad guy from completing his Orbital Bombardment summoning circle? Nope, she just sits back and lets the freshly-emancipated-from-years-of-torture Rhea step forward to block those missiles with her own body. Byleth may very well be angling to slip an S Rank ring on Rhea’s finger, but apparently the power of True Love stops just a hair short of being able to remind someone that they can rewrite time itself so the hottie they’re crushing on doesn’t have to take a ballistic missile to the face.

Byleth is even stupid the 1 single time she DOES think to actually use this damn superpower in a cutscene! When Monica stabs Jeralt in the back, Byleth does, miracle of miracles (literally), actually use the Divine Pulse and try to stop the tragedy from occurring. Unfortunately, her attack is blocked, and Monica kills Jeralt anyway. The scene which follows is very sad, and a nice way to show Byleth’s emotional development,* and probably the most poignant moment in the game.

But it’s also really, really dumb. Because Byleth isn’t limited to just 1 single use of the Divine Pulse at a time. Even if she hasn’t lifted a finger to develop her capacity to use it up to that point, she still has 3 charges of it by default! The emotional power of Byleth’s first tears being shed as she holds her dying father within her arms is undercut a bit when you remember that if she actually cared about the guy living, she still has at least 2 more shots at saving him!**

I guess that’s another connection we can draw between Byleth and the stupidest moments ever conceived in the history of Superman--a willingness to just sit around and watch as ol’ Pops dies a highly preventable death.

Honestly, why did Nintendo even bother giving Byleth the Divine Pulse ability? It doesn’t do anything for the story! The only plot-centric purpose this ability ever serves is the fact that its introduction is also the introduction of Sothis, when Sothis stops time during the prologue so that Byleth won’t be killed by a bandit. And that’s something that could easily have been accomplished without anything so complicated and grand as the ability to rewind time! Nintendo’s attempt to hit every box on the Waifu Checklist at once could just as easily have been introduced by having her notice out of the corner of Byleth’s eye the incoming bandit attack, and warn Byleth of it so that the latter can defend herself. This would have been just as adequate for setting up Sothis’s mysterious presence in Byleth’s mind, and Sothis’s divine power is established effectively later on with the whole nether-realm trap event anyway, so nothing significant is lost with the absence of the Divine Pulse.

And sure, it’s a helpful and very welcome gameplay mechanic...but honestly, it could have just remained that alone, a gameplay mechanic. Had the ability to go back to a previous turn in order to correct a mistake been nothing more than a new feature in FE16's combat, totally unrelated to the actual plot, no one would have questioned it.

If your character is going to have a superhuman ability, then for Sothis’s sake, actually commit to them having it. Don’t just have them forget it exists until it’s convenient for you! Either make the effort to work your plot’s requirements around their full potential, or move on to a project more appropriate to your lazy limitations as a writer. This shit gets tiresome after a while.

* A welcome rarity, that. FE16 falls over itself to tell you, over and over again, how much Byleth has developed her humanity over the course of the game’s events, but I’ll be damned if we get to actually SEE that development very often.

** You might argue that she clearly can’t save Jeralt if that bad guy is gonna show up and block her attacks against Monica, sure, but the Divine Pulse can reverse literal dozens of turns in battle--it would be easy for Byleth to simply travel far enough back that she could be at Jeralt’s side and ready long before Monica was on the scene. Hell, she could probably go back to the middle of the battle preceding this moment, and, in the chaos of the fight, attack Monica then, with Byleth’s allies by her side. Even if you want to posit that the Divine Pulse is narratively more limited in its scope than the gameplay suggests, Byleth could at the very least go back again and shout a warning to Jeralt. The guy is 1 of the greatest warriors in Fodlan; he’d surely be able to dodge Monica’s attack if he had any warning that it was coming.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Pathfinder: Kingmaker's Downloadable Content

Blah blah blah unnecessary intro, you all know what this is without me going on about it. Let’s just get to it.

The Wildcards: This DLC adds 2 new party members to the game (or 1, depending on how you look at it), Kanerah and Kalikke, a pair of sisters under the curse of a very unique and specific contract with 1 of the game’s deities, and a small set of character quests for them. Quality-wise, it’s a solid DLC. Kalikke and Kanerah are both good characters who interact well with the game’s events when they’re in your party, and their shared character arc through their personal quests is built on an interesting and creative idea, and makes for a decent story. Much like previous successful DLC characters like Mass Effect 2’s Zaeed and Dragon Age 1’s Shale, Kalikke and Kanerah skillfully tread a fine line between inclusion and separation--they’re a natural fit to the game and the party and never feel like an outside and unnecessary influence on the game’s story and cast, but at the same time, they’re kept just separate enough from the story and characters that the game couldn’t be said to be in any way incomplete without them (which is important for add-on characters; you may recall my anger with how important Sebastian was to Dragon Age 2’s core plot). The potential romance you can have with them is rewarding and genuine, and the side-characters that come along with them (the Sweet Teeth) are charmingly amusing, a welcome addition of minor humor in a game that otherwise has to lean quite heavily on Nok-Nok and the rest of his race for most of its comic interludes. I will say that I feel like Kalikke and Kanerah’s reconciliation towards the end of the game (if you’ve made the right decisions during their character quests) does seem a little spontaneous, but it’s not bad or anything, just something that could have been more developed.

On the other hand, more practically-speaking, this DLC has its flaws. It’s sold at $8, which isn’t exorbitant, but at the same time, you’re definitely not going to get 8 hours out of their specific character quests and dialogue. And no matter how well-separated they are, I can’t help but be more and more leery as time goes on of the ethics of any DLC that isn’t distinctly additional side-content to the main game. Still...the content is worthwhile, and Owlcat Games has clearly striven to implement The Wildcards in a morally acceptable manner, so while the price keeps this from being a must-buy with or without a sale, I’ll give my endorsement to it and say that it is, indeed, worth the purchase.

Varnhold’s Lot: Varnhold’s Lot is a self-contained side-adventure which details the events in the barony of Varnhold during Chapter 3 of the main game, and sets the stage for the main story’s fourth chapter (which takes place in Varnhold). It also subsequently adds a very small dungeon in the main game’s campaign, and a minor event during Pathfinder: Kingmaker’s finale.

There’s just a lot of issues with this add-on that interfere with its value. For starters, it’s $12, and you’re not likely to get even half a dozen hours’ worth of content from it, all told. And sure, I guess I have to admit that the dollar is worth less and less with each passing year, but I think we’re still several years away from an exchange rate of 1 hour of game time per $1 spent on a DLC being an unfair expectation.

That said, DLCs are like guys in bed: it really doesn’t matter if what they’ve got comes up a little short, as long as they’ve got the skill to do something great with it. Even if Varnhold’s Lot doesn’t have as much content as its price tag is, in my opinion, obliged to provide, all is forgiven if what it does have is of sufficient quality. But unfortunately, and also like guys in bed, DLCs are usually disappointing, and Varnhold’s Lot stays true to type on this matter. The plot of this adventure isn’t particularly compelling, and whatever your level of knowledge is with the main game, it works against VL’s favor: either you’re playing it before you get to Varnhold in the main quest, in which case the slow and at times aimless pace of this package makes it feel unimportant by comparison to the crazy shit going down in the main quest, or you play it once you’re familiar with Varnhold’s fate in the main quest, and what little suspense could have been had is lost. Or, I suppose, you play this DLC before you even start the main game, and its rushed introduction and setup fails to invest you in its events.

Likewise, the cast of this add-on is wholly unremarkable. Maegar Varn is a likable enough minor NPC in the main campaign, but he sure as hell has neither the personality nor the depth to carry his major role in this side venture, and the most that the rest of the characters and villains here can aspire to is There Because The Plot Needs Them. It’s also harder to feel a connection to the protagonist you create here, because you’ve got a much stronger connection to the protagonist you’ve made for the main campaign, the latter being a character you’ve had more time and far more choices in action and dialogue to form a personality out of.

Honestly, though, I think the real problem with Varnhold’s Lot is this: no one was asking for it. The summary of the events that led to Varnhold’s part of Pathfinder: Kingmaker’s story was adequate already, and it didn’t have the narrative pull and curiosity that other, successful explanatory side-story DLCs have had. Remember Dragon Age 1? During the course of DA1, you learn certain details of your companion Leliana’s dramatic past as a lover and protege of a master spy, whose subsequent betrayal once Leliana found out a little too much set into motion the events that led Leliana to join the church and cross paths with DA1’s protagonist. It’s a tale of the intrigues of espionage, mixed with a dangerous and unequal love, culminating in bloody betrayal that completely reshaped a woman’s beliefs and views of the world, defined the life that she was to live! Even if her summary of it in the main quest is adequate enough, that’s the kind of history that’s worthy of a more in-depth look; there’s good reason for Bioware to have created Leliana’s Song, the DLC that allowed us to watch her sordid backstory play out directly. By contrast, the Vanishing of Varnhold was merely a happening that unfolded as yet another kingdom-breaking event in a game filled by design with such scenarios, anchored by Maegar Varn, a minor character whose dramatic weight shakes out to no more than a neighbor you like well enough to greet with genuine cheer in passing, and the details of how the matter went down had been more than adequately explained by Vordekai and Varn in the main game. This DLC answers a question that players simply had no real reason to ponder in the first place.

And also, it really has to be said that even if there actually are players who really did want to see the Vanishing of Varnhold firsthand, this add-on still doesn’t satisfy. Varnhold’s Lot straight-out doesn’t do what it tells you it’s going to. While VL implies that you’re going to be seeing just how Vordekai’s return to power went down, almost the entirety of this package is devoted to the protagonist dealing with some semi-related side adventures, which culminate in a large dungeon at the end that turns out to be a red herring! Your protagonist winds up fooling around with the wrong villain in the wrong lair, so the only experience with Varnhold’s Vanishing, the event this DLC specifically exists to elaborate upon, comes from others mentioning it, because you aren’t there for it. Well what the hell is the difference between that, and just having had its events summarized to you in the main campaign?!

Varnhold’s Lot simply has nothing notable about it, there was no calling for it to exist, and it fails to fulfill even its superfluous purpose. Forget even getting it on sale; just give it a pass.

There’s a third DLC for Pathfinder: Kingmaker, but it’s basically an extended dungeon crawl with no plot, and I only cover add-ons with some form of story content, so I’m not gonna bother with it. So we’re done, since Owlcat has only indicated an intention to create these add-ons...although, I dunno, the way PK’s menu and add-on content integration is set up, it feels an awful lot like games such as Neverwinter Nights and Shadowrun, which have the kind of accessible architecture that’s designed for incorporating many additional content packs. That may just be an intention to allow for user-generated campaigns (which would be welcome), but I have a sneaking suspicion that Owlcat Games will be returning to this game with more content, after all.

At any rate, to judge it by what’s here...meh, I guess PK is alright, add-on-wise. I like The Wildcards enough to give it a solid thumbs-up, and for all Varnhold’s Lot’s problems, it at least feels like the writers just made several decisions that they didn’t really think through with it, not that they weren’t trying to make something decent. I’m disappointed that such a strong RPG as Pathfinder: Kingmaker wouldn’t have a likewise strong showing for its DLCs, but at the same time, I guess one has to allow it at least a little respect, for the simple fact that just being “alright” overall seems to be an accomplishment when it comes to RPG add-ons.

But I still miss The Witcher 3’s add-ons.

Friday, November 8, 2019

General RPG Lists: Most Inaccurate Titles

As a genre, RPGs have quite a few traits more signature to them than any other gaming type. Sometimes these are good, such as RPGs’ strong focus on storytelling and compelling character development. Others are a bit more quirky such as frequent highly strange casts, and an inordinate fondness for certain annoying, lazy storytelling tropes. Of the latter, quirkier characteristics is the way that RPG titles tend to be weird, nonsensical gibberish.

It came to me the other day when I was browsing the catalogue of Good Old Games, seeing what I could find on sale, and I realized that I could tell far more often than not whether a game was an RPG just by its title alone, without having to even look at its title art, let alone its actual store page. This genre just absolutely loves its fanciful buzzwords that make a game sound much cooler than it actually is (you can’t tell me SquareEnix picked the title “Revenant Wings” in earnest for its rinky-dink little handheld FF12 sequel), its lazy use of an important character’s uncommon and interesting-sounding name as a title (such as Lufia, Arc the Lad, and Alundra), and its use of “The Legend of” as a title opener (The Legend of Dragoon, The Legend of Grimrock, The Legend of Legaia...there are so many goddamn Legend games!). Or they combine a couple of these tropes, such as with Eternal Senia. Hell, sometimes it gets so bad that an RPG will throw fanciful buzzwords, uncommon names, and Legend titles all together into a single entity (The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword)!

There’s also that tendency to just add -ia to the end of any given semi-interesting word, and call it a day, like Grandia...or add -ia to the end of something that isn’t already a word, and still call it a day (what the hell is a Zenonia, Alphadia, or a Mana Khemia?). Namco is very fond of doing this, both ways, in its Tales of series.

And then there are the RPG titles that are just too fucking stupid to belong to any other genre. What besides an RPG would want to name itself something so absurdly redundant as Divine Divinity? Or Tales of Legendia? You do realize, Namco, that you basically just named the game “stories of stories”? For that matter, who but SquareEnix would decide to be so edgy-quirky that they feel the need to name installments of their franchise with math equations and decimal fractions, as is the case with Kingdom Hearts?

And let’s not forget how long these stupid titles can get. If it means using a name to boost sales, no amount of franchise, sub-franchise, and sub-sub-franchise naming is too much! What other genre, may I ask, regularly sports titles as long as Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner Raidou Kuzunoha Vs. The Soulless Army (that title is longer than some fanfics I’ve read), or has multiple installments of a game series that is already a numbered installment of a series, like Legend of Heroes 6 and Shin Megami Tensei 4 each having 2 games in their scope?

Still, beyond meaningless fancy vocabulary, inventing meaningless fancy vocabulary by abusing suffixes, a frankly bewildering taxonomy, more Legends than you can find in an actual book of fairy tales, outright stupidity, and a lack of creativity so profound that they just consult a list of the Most Popular Baby Names of the 1700s to come up with a title, there is 1 naming convention for RPGs that stands out as especially weird to me: the fact that they so often have absolutely nothing to do with their game. I mean, maybe I shouldn’t be surprised when so many RPG titles seem to be created by some asshole in Marketing cracking open a dictionary and picking the first unusual word he sees on the page, but there are a LOT of RPGs out there whose names are completely inaccurate for them! Not just in the “this title doesn’t actually mean anything” way, like Grinsia or Stella Glow, but in the “This title is an outright lie” sense.

So today, I’m gonna make a list of the most inaccurately titled RPGs I know of. Why, you may ask? For reasons. Secret reasons. Good reasons. Sexy reasons. Reasons that definitely have nothing to do with my completely having run out of actual ideas for rants, let me assure you.

UPDATE 11/24/19: An Anonymous reader pointed out that the Fire Emblem in its titular series apparently refers to whatever the hell Nintendo happens to feel like it refers to, rather than solely the original plot device from the first game's continuity, as I had originally thought the Fire Emblem to be. So the FE series can't really be inaccurate, no more than a game called "Magical Plot Device: Legend of That Time Some Stuff Happened" could be.

5. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

I mean, it’s half accurate, I guess, in that Zelda is, indeed, in this game as much as any other of the series (meaning not very much; this whole series’s accuracy is somewhat questionable when its namesake averages about 5 - 10 minutes of screen time per most installments). But “A Link to the Past”? In what way? Link travels between regular Hyrule and the magical realm where the Triforce was kept, but they exist at the same time. There’s no time travel. Is it supposed to be talking about some connection with past events or legends, or something? Because it doesn’t really have much of that, either, no more so than any other RPG, or even any other Legend of Zelda title. Nintendo obviously really wanted to use some wordplay for Link in the title, and clearly didn’t care whether it actually made any sense for the game.

4. Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon

I'm willing to play ball with the "Fragile Dreams" thing, because that's vague and fancy in the way that RPGs like to be, an immaterial enough concept that you could argue its relevance on a conceptual level to this or practically any other game. But "Farewell Ruins of the Moon"? This tale takes place entirely on Earth; the moon is neither a setting nor even an especially important entity in the game. An abundance of ruins may be found within this title, but they're purely terrestrial. And for that matter, there's no "farewell" involved with them. In fact, I think you could argue that this game's story involves only the opposite of a farewell to ruins, as the protagonist's journey starts with his encountering and traversing ruins for the first time, and ends with his leaving to search for survivors the world over, a task which will undoubtedly take him through many more ruins. This would be like naming a game, I dunno, "Fallout: So Long, Post-Apocalyptic America!", or "Shin Megami Tensei: Religious Iconography is for Chumps", or "Fire Emblem: You Definitely Don't Have Funny Feelings For Your Sister". The entire game is literally doing the exact opposite of the title.

3. Most Shin Megami Tensei Games

Well, since “Shin Megami Tensei” basically translates to “Rebirth of the True Goddess”, referring to the Goddess of Tokyo in the series, and since that only applies even on the vaguest of levels to about 5 SMT titles I know of (and I’m really being generous in that estimation), this series basically has nothing to do with itself.

2. Every Final Fantasy Besides The Latest One

Look, we all know why this is here. I’m not proud of it, but it is what it is.

1. Star Ocean 1 + 2

Why are these here at the top, and not Final Fantasy, whose title is by this point as stale a joke in the gaming world as the “Is your refrigerator running” prank? Well, for starters, because Star Ocean is, in deed, an extremely inaccurate way to describe each of these games. The title clearly promises space, interstellar travel, science fiction! And Star Ocean 1 delivers, for its first 5 minutes...then, for the rest of the game until its very final dungeon, you’re confined to a generic RPG fantasy world, and more than that, said fantasy world’s past! That’s twice as far away from the promised sea of stars as a regular fantasy RPG would get! And Star Ocean 2’s no fact, it might be worse, because while it shares the same 5 minutes of opening with science fiction, it can’t even be bothered to also give a final sci-fi dungeon. Sure, halfway through the game you finally get off the rinky-dink fantasy world you’re confined to in SO2, and go to Nede, a super-advanced world that knows about interstellar travel and whatnot...but it’s still just an advanced fantasy world! They’re still all about magic and swords and shit, isolated from the rest of the galaxy like a damn bunch of generic RPG elves!

In fact...Rena, Chisato, and Noel, who are from Nede, have long, pointed ears. Jesus Christ, I never realized it until this second, but Nedians actually ARE a bunch of stupid annoying RPG elves! They’re just isolating themselves on a magical planet instead of a magical forest! There is literally not a single damn thing of significance about Star Ocean 2 that isn’t just a normal fantasy RPG!

Anyway, back to my point. The Star Ocean title is an outright lie for its first 2 installments, so it deserves to be on this list, absolutely. But what puts it at the top, here, is that it’s an actually harmful untruth. No one bought A Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past specifically out of a hope to see Link traveling to the past, or in some other meaningful way interacting with it. No one cares so overly much about bidding bye-bye to abandoned structures that Fragile Dreams is gonna be ruined for them. I can’t think of any reason that a literal interpretation of Shin Megami Tensei would be the important selling point for a fan, nor can I imagine how one would feel negatively about being misled about the finality of the Squaresoft Fantasy.

But Star Ocean? Star Ocean is false advertising. Star Ocean is promising a setting, a theme, which it fails to deliver. Fails to deliver even more than some outright fantasy games do--there’s more time and focus, a lot more, on off-world travel in Final Fantasy 4, for example! Star Ocean 1 and 2 claimed to be science fiction adventures, stories involving the limitless boundaries of space, and there are people who bought them for that reason. The inaccuracies of every other title on this list, they’re amusing and innocuous mistakes, guilty at most of abusing a successful franchise title to get a little more attention. But the lie that is Star Ocean 1 + 2 misled players about something that actually mattered, something that affected purchase decisions, and that’s why the first and second Star Ocean are here at the top of this list of liars.

Dishonorable Mention: Character and/or Location Title Sequels

You know what’s an easy way to make a title for your game? Just base it on a major character or place in it. The main character’s name is Alundra? There’s your title. The setting is the Dungeons and Dragons location of Baldur’s Gate? Just call it that, and done. The game takes place on a bunch of tropical islands and has a theme of constellations and other star-related stuff? Startropics.

There is, however, a slight problem to doing this: you may not always be working with the same character and/or place. There’s no Zelda in The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, or Link’s Awakening. Arc’s importance to the plot is done and over with by Arc the Lad 4. Baldur’s Gate 2 and Startropics 2 don’t take place in Baldur’s Gate or the tropics. Sakura’s not in Sakura Wars 5. And so on--sometimes the developers want to make a new title in a franchise, but the game they’re making has moved past what used to be its central figure. It’s not exactly a complete falsehood, since these games still take place in the same worlds and use the same lore as their predecessors, but neither is it accurate.

Well, that was fun. Pointless, but fun. Maybe next time I’ll have something more meaningful for all y’all! But knowing me, probably not.