So, last week a Twitch streamer that I frequently watch started playing Metroid: Other M. We've all heard that it's so bad, but I'm completely unbelieving that it's actually that bad. From what I can tell, most of the gameplay is tight, with the switch to first-person to fire missiles being a little janky. The problem people have with it is the story and the voice acting. What I saw of it last week, though, wasn't bad. No, it was needed is what it was.
Samus was a completely one-dimensional character up until the releases of Fusion and Zero Mission. Those were the first games to give any sort of voice to Samus. But even this only brings her to two-dimensional. We still have nearly zero backstory, with what little has been written either considered non-canonical, or has only been released in Japan and either still untranslated, or extremely rare to find. But since we have never before gotten any kind of truly backstory or characterization in the games until Other M, there wasn't enough to truly call Samus a character. More of an automaton that we had control over, that never felt fear or any other emotion, just ventured alone into certain danger and always came out unscathed.
Based on what I saw, Other M gives us what was sorely needed for Samus to actually develop as a character. The exposition and inner monologue actually lets us into the mind of who we are playing as, and finally lets us see what kind of person she's supposed to be. It honestly kind of burns me up that people actually disliked this. They wanted Samus to just continue to be the silent badass that can walk into any hopeless situation and come out victorious. That's not a character. That's an unfeeling robot.
What's worse is the streamer's reactions to it all. He was clearly horrified each and every time that Samus talked, and her interactions with others. It honestly ruined my experience watching him play it. I don't think I'll continue to do so, and will instead watch the playthrough I have bookmarked that has no commentary. Give me a chance to pay attention without the constant complaints and horrified responses...
Because who needs to sleep at decent hours, amiright?
So for some reason I was thinking about video game protagonists and that depending on the game, the main characters tend to have a certain level of incompetence inherent to them. And this is by design. Consider for a moment, you are playing an early 90's RPG. Tutorials haven't become common or standard; we are still in the age where manuals tend to give more than sufficient information because the developers actually believe they are being read. On the other hand, a lot of times there are things that just aren't explained in said manuals, so they have to go into them in the game itself, especially plot related things. The need to explain can be addressed in two ways: characters are summarizing what is going on, allowing the player to understand in case they missed anything beforehand, or a single character is having it explained to them because they didn't understand. The second feels more prevalent, especially in games originally made in Japan where the main character has speaking parts (isn't a silent protagonist).
This leads to my thoughts about the specific incompetence of main characters. The one that I always seem to come back to in regards to this is Chaz Ashley in Phantasy Star 4; he's generally competent as he's able to hold his own in combat and grows, at least in ability to fight. On the other hand, listening to him talk in cutscenes shows that he's always flying by the seat of his pants and never seems to understand what is going on, always needing someone to explain things to him. Even right towards the end, when he listens to Le Roof on Rykros and finally gets set off, claiming that he wasn't doing anything for anybody that isn't even around to tell him what to do, he still didn't understand. It took Rune having him retrieve Elsydion from under Esper Mansion before he found his resolve and understanding.
Why is this so important to me? Because Chaz is basically the player avatar for his game, and it makes me feel like I'm stepping into the role of... maybe not an idiot, but someone of general unintelligence. And again, I know this is by design; it gives the party reason to have to explain things to the player. But it also feels bad.
Now, what prompted this was watching someone playing the sixth Ace Attorney game, Spirit of Justice. The fifth case opens with a civil suit in court, pitting the player as Apollo Justice against Phoenix Wright representing the Plaintiff in the case. Apollo acts like his usual self while we are in control, but Phoenix is mostly acting like the cool-and-in-control character throughout most of the trial, only seeming on edge or not in control towards the end when he's actually in danger of losing. And in a way, this makes sense. The Phoenix Wright games have to make it seem like the character doesn't know what's coming next or what is needed in order to prompt the player to have to think it through and find the correct answers. This is helped by the fact that the three we play as in the main series, Phoenix, Apollo, and Athena, are characters that we basically define as the series progresses.
Which brings me to the point. The Miles Edgeworth games. Edgeworth is a character that we are introduced to as a rival, or an adversary. We get to witness his character growth from the outside, and this his personality solidifies a little more than the defense attorneys that we control in the main games. But then there are his games, where we control him from the third person as he investigates crime scenes and makes deductions. He's an intelligent character as defined by his appearances in previous games, so while he doesn't always already know the answer, he does more often than not. He gathers the logic points, though we have to connect them. And it gives a different feeling than we get from, say, Phoenix Wright's perspective, where we have to come up with the answer because he can't seem to.
It just gives a different feel, I guess. And leads me into the need for things like Fan Fiction, because it will allow us to write the stories as they would have gone had they not been a video game. I've actually got a few of those stuck in my head over the years, and one of these days, I'll get them out of my head, proper. Until then, I guess I still have these posts to fall back on...
I completely forgot to post this yesterday. Well, it's less than an hour beyond yesterday, but still. The fact that it only happened twice in 30 days must be impressive.
Lots of credits music are really good. But again many of them are from games that would be a repeat of other days. As such, we must eliminate those and find one that isn't yet represented. On the other hand, I determined I wanted this one before I made most of my choices...
Is it cheating to use music from a game prototype? If so, I don't think I have it in me to care. This is nearly the same as the credits to Sonic & Knuckles, but also includes tracks from most of the Sonic 3 zones. The first time I heard this, it gave me chills. It's too bad they scrapped this version of the track when they scrapped the actual Sonic 3C cart they had been working on.
Oh my, it is late.
A couple weeks ago, I enumerated what boss music needed. Final boss music cranks that to, like, 15. Of course, there are some games with some real duds for final boss music. The game that I chose for this is one of them. So instead I choose to invalidate that as final boss music and instead use the music for the penultimate boss instead.
I've said it on this blog before, but Birth of a God is so much better as final boss music than One Winged Angel, it's truly not funny. Fact is, OWA just sounds squawky and annoying, and the Latin doesn't actually help it any. It doesn't even really mesh well against the rest of the series in regards to being final boss music. Birth of a God, on the other hand, fits far better both in its own game, as well as the series as a whole. I will never back down from this.
Gonna be honest, there's a lot of games that I've played while not listening to the music from said games. There was a time where I muted the TV and played other music entirely while listening through headphones. This is why when I play a few different games, I can still hear that music in my head rather than what's actually coming from the game. But this one... either I hadn't started doing that when I would play this game, or I just didn't do so.
So this is one that, if you play this game, you will easily get stuck in your head since it plays throughout the entire game. Anytime you are walking the overworld, or even in battles on the overworld, this is the track plays. And somehow of all the video games I've played, this track manages to trigger my nostalgia more than any other.
Very nearly forgot to post this today...
So, as it turns out, there are a great many handheld games with excellent music (please note that I'm talking about games for systems that were specifically meant to be portable as their only original option, and also are only originally meant to be used for gaming, so this eliminates switch and phone games). But I think there's one track that I'll always come back to in regards to music from a handheld game...
Dear lord, this does more for dungeon music than it really ought to. I've always heard complaints about the Game Boy Advance sound chip, but never really understood what was so bad about it. You listen to this track, and you have to wonder at any complaints.
There were a number of possibilities I could have included here. In fact, most of the soundtrack for the other games in this series released on this medium could have counted for today. But this one I think I like the best of them all.
There's not too much to say. This track was remixed with vocals and actually tends to get stuck in my head more often than this original track, but regardless here it is.
So, fun story... I knew precisely which track I wanted for this day, and thought I had chosen it a month ago when I first began planning this list. And then I proceeded to not actually choose the right track! I had something different in place for this day, something that was definitely still good, but not quite as good as what I truly wanted for this day...
Oh man... every time I hear this it gets me moving. This track is one of the highlights of this game. There are other tracks that would manage as well, including what I chose for Day 15. But I picked it for that day for good reason, so this day was free for this track!
Posting a bit late today...
And yet again, there are lots of possible choices for this day's entry. I've had many different tracks stuck in my head over the years. This one is a bit of a recent one, though.
It caught on the first time I ever heard it, watching Highspirits stream the game when it first came out. Since I've had the chance to play the game myself and, yeah, hearing it from my own game is just as good.
Each and every one of these tracks is supposed to be a personal choice. This one, especially, lends itself to personal choice, as we all have our own definition of underrated. To me, it means a music track that doesn't get the recognition it deserves from the fanbase; it doesn't top many favorites lists, nor is it remixed as much as it should be.
Old Yuanxion. Or Old Distant Hermit, of you must spell out the translation. Seiga's theme from Ten Desires was a gem that I uncovered several years ago, and it's stuck with me all this time. It could easily have qualified for music that gets stuck in my head or for music I don't get tired of, but this day's entry felt right for it.