Friday, January 11, 2013

Final Fantasy IX: Part I

My good friend Jacob has persuaded me to try Final Fantasy IX as the introduction to that series. He has been so good as to loan me a copy, and so I will make every attempt to finish the game. In my turn, I shall blog my efforts in hopes of amusing and enlightening my readers. These entries shall be stream of consciousness accounts of what I encounter, and as such may be disjointed. Needless to say, they will also contain spoilers. Well, let us begin.

- ... Wow. For PSX era graphics, for a game I remember reading about in an old gaming mag while still in middle school (or thenabouts), the cutscenes look good. You can tell they're dated, but you don't care. It puts SoA:L (my favorite RPG of Dreamcast era, ported to GCN) to shame.
- Regular graphics, not so much. And everything's so smudgy and pixelated. Then again, I play the Golden Sun games, so I'm used to that.
- So far, so good. Wandering around the city (Alexandria?) trying to go see this show where some abduction is going to go down. No ticket, but instead I get trading cards. Will I have to challenge the castle guards to a children's card game?
- Okay, this card game is pretty darn addictive.
- Annoying children run into me and won't move until I do.
- Wish I understood how they're getting the, like, HP of the different cards. I can't tell if the symbols on them are supposed to be numbers?
- Okay, let's go and move the plot along, if I can figure out how to do that.
- This game has such a fairy tale feel to it.
- Theatre! Jacob knows what I like. X3
- That's actually a fun run of minigame sequences.
- Poor sad princess.
- Mysterious figure. I wonder who that could be.
- And now I have to go search for the missing princess.
- I do like how the viewpoint character changes up. Gives it more of a rounded story feeling.
- Except Steiner moves so slow, and I don't know what I'm looking for. The princess, yeah, but there's so many bland rooms and corridors. Oh well, probably won't be long.
- Ugh, searched everywhere. Well, pretty much. If I can't find her in this last place, I'm checking a guide.
- Staaaaaairs.
- Oh, guess it really is the last place you look.
- Haha, Steiner. I like that guy already.
- Cutscene! And now more chasing.
- Is that band made up of zombies?
- These days it's more shocking if a princess doesn't want to escape/run away/be kidnapped from her privileged, pampered existence. I'll be interested in finding out Garnet's motivation.
- Poor Steiner. He just wants to do a good job.
- Bwahaha, yesss, that play. Jacob, when you read this, know that I fully support putting an homage to it in our stuff. So much melodrama and farce.
- I was wondering when Vivi would show up again.
- Just the sort of coincidence to cause the most plot trouble.
- Harpoon Cannon, fire!
- Did... Did they just fire a literal sun at them or something?
- Not sure what's up with that queen aside from the fact that she is cray cray.
- Garnet's all, "what the heck did I just get myself into?"
- Oh right, those creepy jester guys. Creepy.

Well, there's our first entry. I have to replay a bit of the game due to some technical difficulties, so I'm going to call this a good stopping point as far as this entry goes. I'll update again soon!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Warm Bodies

I saw the trailer for Warm Bodies when I went with a friend to see Breaking Dawn: Part 2. The latter movie was surprisingly enjoyable in a "this is a bad movie, but dang if it's not hilarious and with far more decapitations than I expected" sort of way, but that's really all there is to say about it, so now that I've gotten that out of the way, let's move on. Warm Bodies, another zombie movie. Except... from the point of view of the zombie? That's pretty novel. And... there's a love interest? Well, this isn't the first time I've seen that. And the trailer in general seemed very snappy, full of quips that didn't fall flat and entertainingly action-filled.

So, at some point soon after I learned that it was based on a book, and on a whim I ordered it from the library. Came in pretty quickly too. Last night I was up late but didn't quite want to sleep yet, so I thought I'd crack it open. Two and a half hours later I turned the last page to the light of the rising sun. (Poetic license; I keep my windows firmly barricaded against any stray beams of natural light.) But anyway, I stayed up way later than I should have due to this surprisingly engaging novel.

So, first thing's first, while it definitely has a theme and message and all that jazz, and the main character is this rather philosophical zombie named R (that being all he can remember of his name), I never felt like I was being beaten over the head with any message of hope and what it means to be human. I mean, that was definitely in there, but it felt right, not forced. The writing was nice, didn't call attention to itself with any fancy gimmicks, just told a briskly-paced story. It's a nice tale of the apocalypse, dark and gritty enough to drive home just how plain terrible it'd be to live after the collapse of civilization, but what with the message of hope and the story not taking itself too seriously, the tone is just right. Same with the characters. None of them are saints, not R or his love interest Julie, but they're good people. Well-developed, too, and the romance is actually very believable, with the characters connecting over things instead of just being based off chemicals. And as for the zombies in general, it's just a darn interesting take on the monster, putting a new twist on why they do what they do and, really, what zombies are. It's hard to discuss without spoiling the journey of the book, including the ending which, somehow, actually worked for me. It's built up and plays out without breaking suspension of disbelief. I shouldn't buy the ending, but I do. This is a strangely good book. I think that says it best. It's a strange book, and I did not expect it to be as engaging as I found it.

One last thing. I think it's best saved until you've read the book yourself.