Saturday, June 19, 2010

Pointless Question #78

Why is it that whenever a building or other large structure collapses, it usually does so in a way that allows a hero access to the next location for his quest?


Don said...

It only looks that way. What's really going on is that heroes always fly by the seats of their pants and make it seem like wherever they happen to end up is exactly where they're supposed to be. It's a kind of force of personality that's very useful when buildings are collapsing.

Dark Jaguar said...

I call it the Jack Sparrow Effect.

King of Ferrets said...

There's probably a wizard in the party. Do you [i]really[/i] need to ask?

Jim Roberts said...

It's just a manifestation of the Law of Narrative Convenience, pt V, sect. iii, Railroading.

ohmyheart said...

It's a metaphorical lesson, perhaps, in that as dramatic as the destruction of old structures can be, breaking through such limitations opens us to a new world.

Dark Jaguar said...

Someone's been playing Dissidia.

Don said...

Nothing wrong with that. It's an excellent game.

Dark Jaguar said...

Agreed! I'm just noting that. Dissidia's biggest failing, to me, is the grinding. I don't see why leveling up was really needed, and gathering all those components to purchase gear just... drains me. However, the gameplay is just brilliant.

Dark Jaguar said...

I should add that Onion Knight's story, mainly the "lesson" he's being taught in it, bugged the crap out of me. He's learning that he should ignore "reason" and just follow his heart, and well, I hate that for obvious reasons. The worst part is a simple change could easily have made it more poignant. Had the lesson been that someone trying to live by reason is being unreasonable to pretend that they are completely DEVOID of emotion, or had it been that it's completely reasonable to risk your life for others if you start from the premise that you value the lives of others, then I'd be completely on board, but no! He's got to spout the nonsensical cliche, and well, it killed his story for me. Worst part is, it's not like Onion Knight was some genius in the game he's from. It was a painful author tract, pure and simple. Other than that, I felt Terra's persona was a little too "weak". That's considering she DID have low self esteem in FF6, but I never saw it to the extent in this game. She gets over it, but her "battle quotes" never seem to, which is annoying. Kefka's awesome though. He's always awesome. Sephiroth's slowly been gaining this whole aspect that I just call "self delusion". It's like he read "the secret" or something. I guess it fits with him, but it makes him seem all the more pathetic. That really helps when Kefka's mocking him though :D, and while Sephiroth has some cutting remarks for almost all the characters, all he can think to say to Kefka is "You're annoying". I love it.

Don said...

What you said.

The only character I've got to level 99 is Zidane because I always have fun playing him. But worse than level grinding is item grinding. The Battlegen is a cool idea, but some of the items you can create have such a low probability of being created that it's just painful to even think about creating them.

Also, I'm not sure about the new official interpretation of Cloud as a whiner who is always bitching about not knowing why he fights. That seems to be almost his entire character in Dissidia, Kingdom Hearts, and even Advent Children (which was awesome regardless). He wasn't the deepest character ever in VII, but he was more than a one-note douche walking around asking "Why do I fight? Why, why, why?"

Ryan W. said...

I understand Cloud's strife, but his background was continuing the theme of "lead character doesn't know their true past so they sulk". It got repetitive quickly to the point I had trouble giving a rat's ass about Squall the first playthrough since he just sulks. That and I found out in the middle of the game that you have to draw GF's from bosses, requiring a do-over.

IX's characters were so cookie-cutter it was hard to really care about anyone but Vivi.

X nearly brought me to tears...thrice. When I played through it the 2nd time, my girlfriend at the time only wanted me to do so in her presence so she could watch the story unfold.

Tidus isn't deep, he's just presented with choices that are mind-blowing. He didn't need to be deep; his circumstances had us concerned immediately.

XII was boring and I haven't even beat it just to say I did. It sucked that hard. I heard via Don XIII sucks dog nuts.

This is all from a guy, who in 1987, saved pennies, nickels and dimes for months to put FFI on lay-away at Shopko.

Dark Jaguar said...

I didn't really see Cloud as sulking in FF7. I saw him as hiding from reality. Eventually reality finally catches up with him and he's forced to accept the truth of his past he denied the entire game. I thought it was a very interesting way to do things. His memory was altered by him and him alone. He also has to find the confidence to believe he can change things and free himself from that past. I liked that.

Squall sulking? Really? Personally I interpreted it completely differently. Squall just doesn't CARE about anything but getting a job done. Everyone else's personal issues just get in the way, he'd rather they all just shut up and get on with things. His internal monologues all have to do with just being annoyed with other people and their habits. I never once saw Squall as a sulker. Part of it has to do with the fact that my personality in the past was a LOT like his. I am one of the few that "got" him as a character (which I say based on the fact that so very many people saw him in a completely different light, usually that he's "a jerk with no personality"). I've opened up more, as he did by the end of his story. That's why I am one of the few that really enjoyed FF8.

IX's story was cliche in a lot of ways, intentionally, as the whole game was a throw-back to the whole series. I did like Zidain though, as he was a nice change from FF4-8's more serious leads. (5 excluded, as it hadn't been released except as a PS1 port in America to that point, so I never really got to know Bartz until I picked that collection up.)

X is the one that started falling apart to me. I found the "catholic church is evil" symbolism to be a bit overdone. Tidus felt like a clone of Zidain (I still can't tell what's all that different about them, heck Zidain's got daddy issues too, though he doesn't whine about it the whole game.) That said, it isn't a bad personality type. I see a lot of my much more outgoing brother in those two, though my brother's relationship with my dad is awesome so there's that difference.

I found FF12 to be well done, but it really helps if you've played Tactics and Vagrant Story, as they're set in the same world. It does go slow, but the whole thing is done in an intentionally "Shakespearian epic" style.

At any rate, the stories go all over the place so opinions are always going to be varied. Though I relate to Squall more, my favorite in the series is still FF6. I just found the idea of literally making gods that did nothing but war with each other very interesting. When all the gods and all magic is gone at the end, and the end lesson is one of enjoying the world for what it is, that the fact that everyone is going to die and that's the end should not prevent one from enjoying the time they have, I find that to really line up with my world view the closest of all of them. No cliches about "balance", no speeches about "light and dark", the first to not even bother with the crystals. It's a story of life, and no real attempt is made to give some quasi-spiritual source of immortality like the life stream or "memoria". It's still the best story in my opinion.

All in all, it's true though, there is no accounting for taste.

Don said...


I, too, thought Squall sulked. At first, I thought he was awesome, when Quistis was whining at him and he basically told her to shut it. But then as he deepened, his no bullshit attitude was basically revealed as being a result of his self-confidence issues. Then he just seemed mean.

I think, in hindsight, my favorite character in that game was Laguna, because he was a romantic goofball. This last time I played it through (the only time I've actually beaten it) I managed to enjoy it, but it was despite the general paucity of likable characters and the ridiculous plot.

I love IX. I love it because it's a big, goofy cliche. I love it because it doesn't try to be anything but.

I like X, too, but it took a second playthrough to like it. I've always loved the game mechanics; I'll never figure out why the ATB system lasted for over a decade (and still exists in many games) but the strategy-heavy system of X was never widely adopted (except in the underrated MegaMan X: Command Mission). Tidus most certainly wasn't a deep character, but I liked him a bit more towards the end when he finally met up with Jecht. Instead of going for the cliche of "I just want my daddy to love me," his last words to his father before killing him were "I hate you."

Which is one of the reasons I didn't like his story in Dissidia. It takes that powerful statement of defiance and turns it into, well, "I just want my daddy to love me."

And what I always say about XII is that I remember enjoying it, mostly, but I don't remember anything about it. Like, seriously. I remember Vaan and Ashe's names. I remember there was some empire...or something...and Balthier had an airship. Other than that, I remember lots and lots and lots of grinding. It was an extremely forgettable game, and I'll still never forgive them for moving almost all of the gameplay into the metagame.

And when I get around to finishing my epic-length trashing of XIII, you'll know what I think of that, too.

Ryan W. said...

Don't get me wrong; I was being kinda nit-picky. FFIX was an awesome game and I've played through it many times.

One of the most shocking things in VII was finding out that Cloud wasn't really the badass SOLDIER 1st Class he purported to be, but just a regular SHINRA grunt. But remind me - do they ever elaborate on how the throwaway clone became powerful enough to beat Sephiroth? Or is it just because of the usual "journey + friends" thing?

Don said...

After years, I think I finally understand how.

Okay, so Cloud killed Sephiroth in the Nibel Mountain reactor when he and Zack were there, partially because Zack had already softened up Sephiroth by the time he got to Cloud, but partially because Sephiroth was still mortal and killable, and Cloud mustered his rage and determination when Sephiroth attacked him.

Afterwards, though, he and Zack were captured by Hojo and kept in the basement of the Shinra Mansion in Nibelheim, where he experimented on them both with mako and Jenova cells for something like 3 or 4 years. When Cloud came out the other end, after he finally recovered from his mako poisoning, he was just as strong as any Soldier, if not more so.

Also, there was the whole journey + friends thing, and the fact that killing Sephiroth was about killing his own demons, as well.