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hylics

Starting off a new series of super brief reviews/comments on games, books, and other stuff that I own or recently obtained. Today we’re going with Hylics, a great looking RPG Maker game, and Time of Need, one of my favorite critical books on art (yeah, yeah).

I won’t get super into Hylics right now, but I wanna say that the game looks and sounds fantastic. Mason Lindroth’s claymation/low-res artwork is fascinating to watch squirm around, and rarely are you even reminded that everything in boxed into RPG Maker tiles. It’s a testament to how far RPG Maker’s open endedness can lead to great things. The sound design is equally impressive, and definitely recalls Space Funeral’s use of Les Rallizes Denudes with its distorted, experimental guitar hums.

Hylics has something to say about Gnosticism, and while you don’t really get punched in the face by its gnostic hell world like in, say, Dark Souls, the use of real textures, bodies, and the motif of skin and transformation makes for a trippy adventure down transgression lane. It’s a short game, about two hours, though much of the length comes from how damn difficult the game is. The JRPG turn-based battles give you a decent amount of options, but players’ll probably find themselves dying frequently to the same enemies.

The writing is random to the point where it might be superfluous, and goofy NPC text is all over the place. I kept hoping that NPCs would start giving me puzzles clues or something, but that never really happened. There weren’t any lines of dialogue that stood out to me, but the writing should be taken with a grain of salt. Hylics is decidedly a game of beauty and aesthetic. Worth the couple bucks it costs.

time of need william barrett

I originally read this book when I was in high school because modernism freaked me out and William Barrett seemed to back up my notion that art of the 20th century was apocalyptic and that modernism was a problem that needed attention. Now that I’m old and boring, I know that Barrett’s not really saying anything radical, that he’s interested in sentence structures and telling it like it is about Camus and Nietzsche. It’s a fantastic read for kids interested in the development of atonality and Faulkner.

“Confronted by a world that has become meaningless, we cannot be convinced by rational arguments to finding meaning in it. But if life-giving energy flows we are able to create values, and we can then find reasons enough to find the world meaningful…Humor is a sign of vitality. So long as we can still laugh, we have not succumbed to despair.”

There’s a section on sculpture throughout history, comparing how men of different ages choose to portray man through art. I also like the cover ~

Half up the arcade stairs,
the old heavy blue halo
crunching down on us,
earthquake roar, hurtle,
hurricane, heads up,
you speak in tongues on
a cartoon RPG religion.
Our feet stuck to wooden
planks, I set my fishbowl
drink down, sloshing pink
sludge, and repeat after
you three small mantras:
rhythm, respect, and
play.

Steven
covered in ketchup and mustard
grassy motherfucker with crab’s claws
claws and grovels into the dirt behind the abandoned
contemporary art building
the old El Nido Triangle,
unburies his – 100th bible – while
buskers and babes watch from the misty sidelines
moaning and sighing in sign,
moist waffles, moist in the puddles of mud–
Steven Howard Jr., now Sony
executive Dr. “Crab” Spencer,
freelance child psychologist,
who reduced his whole train staff into
biblical pages, paces around the office,
its sandy beaches vacant and holy,
hangdog
et al. Read More

Pancake from 2 to 4

A short game I made in RPG Maker 2003 (works in PC only, I’m SO sorry) about Pancake, my son. He wrote most of the dialogue while we watched Steve Wilkos and Maury. I mostly used only the RTP assets just for the fun!

It’s sort of a neo-noir story about – stuffed animals -.

And yeah, Mike, it’s over when you beat the cyclops!

DOWNLOAD

Legacy of the Wizard.040

Title: Legacy of the Wizard
Year: 1987 (JP), 1989 (NA)
Platform: NES, MSX
Publisher: Namcot, Brøderbund
Developer: Nihon Falcom, Quintet

A bit of history: in the mid to late ‘80s, the big three names in RPGs in Japan were Enix, Square, and, not Atlus, but Nihon Falcom. Falcom, who most people know for the Ys series (which range from great to awful), but they actually got their start in the RPG market with their action-RPGs, the Dragon Slayer series. Released for the FM-7 computer (and later the PC-88, with an MSX port by Square) in Japan, Dragon Slayer became the smash hit of 1984, and it can be seen as one of the original action-RPGs.

Legacy of the Wizard.047

Dragon Slayer IV: Drasle Family is the fourth installment of Falcom’s series, released in 1987, around the time that Ys: Ancient Ys Vanished Omen (oh boy), the first Ys game came out. For its North American release (NES), it was retitled Legacy of the Wizard, and I’m not sure how it was initially critically reviewed, but Falcom must have felt like they were on top of the world.

After doing some research, I also realized that Quintet was involved with Legacy of the Wizard, which adds some intrigue. Quintet, known for developing the flawless ActRaiser (1990), among other SNES RPGs, apparently first had their hand in Legacy of the Wizard. Well, it better be good then.

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Kingdom Hearts1_7

Title: Kingdom Hearts
Platform: PS2
Year: 2002
Publisher: Square
Developer: Square

I had never played the original Kingdom Hearts when it first came out in 2002, which is weird considering I bought the second one and played that when it was released and enjoyed it quite a bit. That was almost a decade ago. I recently picked up the original Kingdom Hearts, and after having it sit there amidst my ever growing pile of unfinished games, I popped it in my PS2 and started playing.

Everyone I talked to told me how they have all these fond memories of exploring the vibrant Disney environments, befriending charming Disney characters, even fighting Sephiroth (!) in the Hercules-themed tournament. I also recall those flashy, hyper emotional commercials blaring Utada’s “urgent” “Simple and Clean” and tugging at gamer’s hearts every twenty minutes. Disney and Square? It was like Super Mario RPG on the SNES, this kind of dream concoction, but even better looking and with more hype and J-Pop. Who knows why I never picked it up originally (probably too busy playing Arc the Lad Collection in my basement…?).

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Let me see your friend’s files or I’ll
make the Blood Crystal burst, shatter
on the basement dungeon floor, and they’ll
never know it was me who
killed Miss Gauguin (
who cares) dead. ‘Save Brother
Robert,’ April pleaded,
circulating dried mint cloves and
fingering the red ink text
superimposed to a vague
pastiche canvas typifying
something gold and religious,
solemn and dumb. Opaque, even.
Mohair Sky film wrapped around my
waist, I’ll escape undetected, blood
and crystal smeared lines behind.
Her three-piece friends chatter, bang then
descend the interior grotto stairs, and they
export files of welcomes and folders of smiles,
high-fives, and at the ritual base, smoldering,
they see the copper crag
glass, plastic, and gasp:
CD-ROM installs suspicion et al,
but the Installer service can’t be
accessed at the moment,
ergo I’m
getting away
quick as shit!!!!

Title: Legend of Mana
Platform: PS1
Publisher: Square
Year: 2000

legend of mana5

Square’s PS1 library of games of one of my favorite things ever.

While the SNES JRPG library is home to some of the tightest, simplest, most charming, and certainly most nostalgic video games ever put together, Square’s output during the mid to late ‘90s is as tremendous as it is classic.

Final Fantasy VII, VIII, IX and Tactics, Xenogears, Parasite Eve, Vagrant Story, Saga Frontier, Front Mission, and Chrono Cross combine to make a list that is so multi-textured, so rich on narrative and world, so experimental in both gameplay and storytelling, and just so full of soul, elegance, and personality.

While most of Square’s PS1 games feature some level of grit and realism, with a focus on cinematics and high drama that was afforded with the new expansion in technology, there were a few outliers from that Square gray tone. Brave Fencer Musashi and Threads of Fate are two moderately great games that are bright and colorful, and then there’s Legend of Mana…

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