Hello there and welcome back to… not a review? Neppy, what’s wrong with you? A lot, but that’s not what I’m here for. The awesome Red Metal over at Extra Life has tagged me for this award with several questions that I will be answering below. Before I do that however, allow me to give credit to Red Metal for tagging me for this award. He publishes reviews as well over on his blog which are very in-depth and analyze the game as a whole, both the inside- and outside. Check out his latest review on Mega Man 4 by clicking the link! On to the questions!
1. What is the most unusual work you’ve ever experienced?
I’m actually going to be talking about a manga here for the first time in Nep’s Gaming Paradise history! I was considering Pony Island when it comes to games because it is one of the games where you know the cover but not the book. It gets crazy. But even though it was crazy, it could not hold a candle to a manga I read a few years ago called Mahou Shoujo of the End, or Magical Girl Apocalypse as it’s known in the west. I started reading this because it was known as ”yet another take on the magical girl genre” and ”one of the bloodiest manga out there”. I don’t recall me saying this before, but I am a huge fan of stories where literally everything goes wrong and an apocalypse is imminent. Mahou Shoujo of the End was just that, but taken to the next level. And it was funny too in a sense, because the first good amount of chapters were literally just a gorefest with blood and body parts everywhere. There was a story, but that was obviously not the main attraction here. But then suddenly after that first amount of chapters, there suddenly is a story with almost no gore to be found for a while. This caught me completely off guard as they went from a complete- and utter gorefest, to an actual story. And in that actual story, the reason behind this gorefest and the villain’s motives are explained. Without spoiling, the motive is so extremely dumb that it’s funny. Now to be fair, there are quite a lot of bloody manga out there, but I find this one fascinating. Someone woke up one day and decided ”today is the day I’m going to draw the most disgusting ways to kill humans” and does so for literally the first 20 chapters or so. Japan, never change.
2. What is the best work you have experienced that no one else seems to know about?
This was a tough question to answer, as a lot of my original answers have gotten more popular over the years. I certainly had a hand in making it more popular as well so I guess I can only blame myself for making this question tougher for myself. One of my original answers for example would have been The Legend of Heroes series, particularly the Trails sub-series, but that franchise has become less niche over the past few years and now has a dedicated fanbase. So after grabbing my list of favourite games and comparing them with each other when it comes to being the best work with the least amount of traffic, I narrowed it down to two games which funnily enough are in the same genre: Jeanne ‘d Arc for the PSP, and Tears to Tiara II: Heir of the Overlord for the PS3. Both are Strategy RPGs, and my favourites of the genre. Both are great gameplay-wise and keep it very simple. Neither of the two try to re-invent the wheel but instead improve on what is already there. While Jeanne ‘d Arc is arguably a better game when it comes to story- and gameplay, I’m giving a slight edge to Tears to Tiara II because I grew more attached to the characters. After all, it wasn’t just an SRPG; it was also a Visual Novel. I don’t really play visual novels too often, and when I do it’s usually mixed with another genre because I prefer gameplay over story. Now a combination of both, THAT gets me hooked quite instantly and indeed, Tears to Tiara II ended up being a game that I beat in a few weeks despite being a very long game; that’s how much I loved it.
3. If you could go back in time and go to the premiere of a classic film, which one would you choose?
That’s a tough question as well because I’m not much of a cinema guy. Our nearest cinema is at least half an hour away, and I rarely have the patience to sit down and watch a movie because I want to do something in the meantime. So if I really had to choose… I guess The Wizard of Oz? This is the best possible answer I can give at this point in time, because it’s one of the few classic films that actually goes in line with my genres I’m interested in.
4. If you decided to write fiction, which genre would you choose?
This question, on the other hand, is easier to answers because there is one genre that I will always return to, however young- or old I am. Nothing can make me more excited than the fantasy genre, especially when it happens in a world that’s not earth. The fantasy genre not only allows for your wildest ideas to come true, but it gives the writer a lot of space for world-building. For example, if I would start writing with the fantasy genre in mind, there are a lot of places I can start. I can write the characters- and villains first, but I can also describe the fantasy-like world, cities and inhabitants. I am not stuck to animals- and humans either and can instead make an entirely new race! What helps is that I myself imagine being in a fantasy world more often than not just because I love it so much. So not only can I write the ideal fantasy world I had in mind; I can also imagine being part of that fantasy and can thus describe everything happening in that world more easily. In my opinion, the best stories happen when writers think of themselves as the main character and write the story around that even though they aren’t the main character.
5. What is the most disappointingly predictable plot twist you’ve ever experienced?
A lot of games- and anime pull the surprise final boss plot even though you could see it from a mile away, or a party member betraying you. I’m giving platformers a break here, since the final boss of a Sonic the Hedgehog game will almost always be Eggman even if he acts nice in the story. Dr. Wily dressed up as Mister X. is very high up there on the most predictable plot twists ever though. As much as I love the game, I think I’m going with Final Fantasy IV here. Party members constantly die but they don’t, Kain is evil but he isn’t, and so forth. It’s not a bad story at all mind you; there’s a reason Final Fantasy IV is so beloved by many people. But the ”deaths” of party members ended up being more comical than having an actual impact. I would also like to give an honourable mention to two other franchises I hold very dear in my heart: Tales and Trails. The problem with Tales is that almost every game has a party member that temporarily betrays you, and you can almost always guess who just by looking at the design of the character. Of course Alvin will betray the party in Tales of Xillia at some point, who are they trying to fool. The problem with Trails on the other hand, is that they only give character portraits to NPCs that are important to the plot. So if you meet someone that seemingly seems unimportant but has a character portrait… he/she is going to come back later.
6. What do you consider to be the strangest title for a work?
In Japan, it feels like novelists are holding a contest who can come up with the longest title for their IP. Do You Like Your Mom? Her Normal Attack is Two Attacks at Full Power, Okaasan online, Reborn as a Vending Machine, Now I Wander the Dungeon and so many more but I think you get the point. But in their defence, they’re not necessarily strange; just stupid. But they do describe their IP at least so I guess there’s that? What the hell is a MELTY BLOOD Actress Again Current Code though, or UNDER NIGHT IN-BIRTH Exe:Late[cl-r]? I enjoyed both of these games, but what is Japan’s obsession with just throwing random words at a dartboard and coming them together for fighting games? These are just two examples but believe me; there are way more.
7. Where in a theatre do you prefer to sit?
I usually sit somewhere in the back in the middle. I don’t really mind wherever I sit, as long as it’s not on the first rows because I don’t feel that’s comfortable for my neck. The back rows don’t have that problem as I can just look straight in front of me and still see everything.
8. Do you have any graphic novel/manga series you’re currently following?
I mentioned Mahou Shoujo of the End earlier, which I believe has finished now so I should catch up on it again. Other than that one, there is currently nothing else that I’m following. I did read Marvel’s Ultimatum a few weeks ago which was… something alright. I do like stories where everything goes wrong, but Ultimatum just felt very forced and unnecessarily graphic. Like, there was a lot of cannibalism which was pretty disgusting. I do eventually plan on reading some graphic Visual Novels however: Higurashi When They Cry and Corpse Party for example. Suggestions are always welcome of course!
9. When it comes to reviewing films, which do you feel are more effective – traditional, written reviews or video essays?
I feel both do have their advantages, with written reviews leaving scenes to the reader’s imagination when reading it with no knowledge about the film. Though there is also an advantage to the latter for people who have already seen the film. Especially if you’re like me and you forget all about the film the moment you walk out of the cinema, having actual footage in the background helps you remember stuff and look at it more critically. To answer the question, I’m going with video essays just because of how footage can be better described when you’re watching what’s going on, and with the idea that most people watch a review of a film after they’ve seen it. I might of course be wrong about the latter, but I very rarely watch a review before watching the film itself.
10. What aspects of old-school game design do you wish would make a comeback?
What I love most about old-school games are two things that are similar to each other: discovering everything you’re able to do yourself, and throwing you into the game straight away without a long intro/tutorial stage. I have this often where a modern game just takes too long with its tutorial that I end up being bored without wanting to continue. A not-so-great example of this are Pokemon Sun and Moon, which took literal hours before you had a bit of freedom to do what you want to do without being interrupted. If it was just any other JRPG, I probably would have dropped it right away which would be a shame since the games do have their qualities. But as a result, I have not picked up the Ultra versions of the game and am not planning to either for a while. Classic games instead throw you into the action right after pressing start, and you get taught by playing the game. I don’t think I have to bring up Mega Man X’s and its famous intro stage, as it’s already been praised by many people as to how good it is with teaching you the basics by finding it out yourself.
Oh also this doesn’t have to do with old-school game design per se, but I really despise people that leak games before announcements/release. That happened far less with old-school games and mostly consisted of rumour spread through magazines- or schoolyards.
11. What aspects of old-school game design are you glad went away?
I have a particular dislike against console games that followed an arcade mindset: three lives and if you lose them, you have to start all over again. I never really minded this as a kid since I didn’t have that many games, but nowadays I just feel like it’s a waste of time. I have no problem with a game booting me back to the start of the level or possibly even the chapter, but being near the end and then having to start the entire game all over again is something I cannot deal with anymore. A lot of cartoon games surprisingly did this as well, such as Mickey Mania and Asterix. I am glad we don’t have to deal with that anymore and when it happens, it’s usually an optional mode.
That’s all for today. Thank you for joining me, and I’ll be back soon with some more reviews! I’m not really someone comfortable with tagging people; I guess you could call it some form of anxiety. I have prepared a few questions down below however, so do feel free to answer them!
- What element of nature do you feel is best implemented in level design?
- What is the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about your favourite game/franchise?
- What do you find more important in a game: gameplay or story?
- Is there a game you’ve played this year that you would like everyone reading this to play?
- Do you feel difficulty in a game should always be controllable by the player?
- What game would you like to see a prequel to?
- Coincidentally, what game would you like to see a sequel to?