I feel like Alundra has harder puzzles than Zelda (not a high bar of course) but I also haven’t played it since it came out.
It’s gonna be fun replaying these games and talking about their values and what works to make them memorable or notable, not framing their awkwardness so dismissively in memory.
I’ve been playing all three in the past year on my bus commutes thru my Vita! Like you, I’m drawn to them for aesthetic reasons, and they linger well in the mind. I can’t deny that they’re all deeply flawed but that’s never kept me from loving a game.
To claim they’re deeply flawed though, on what basis and reference points?
I need more evaluation that has contrasts in the era and greater context of time worthiness to actually feel its anything other than condescending somethings of “I guess they’re nostalgic ehhh they’re pretty badly executed though”
Uh, if you want to look to contemporaries (and I don’t think that’s normally a useful frame if you’re working from a mindset that sees value in every era):
Vagrant Story: Dungeon crawls are well-represented at this time, with From’s work paramount but also Diablo putting a moody gloss over roguelikes. Vagrant Story imports Square’s incredible production values of the time but loses focus on combat and resource systems. It’s a lot slower to move through these rooms without apparent gain in ambience or pacing.
Alundra: yeah, it’s probably the best Zelda-like on the PSX, but it’s existing almost entirely within the bounds established by a huge corpus of SNES games which are more interested in pushing buttons like story (Quintet) or multiplayer (Secret of Mana) or aesthetic shifts like Evermore. To me it fits with all games a generation past their date: probably not standing up to their inspiration, but a pleasant fading echo.
Xenogears: we’ve just crested the best marriage of snappy earlier JRPGs and new sumptuous production, and we’re falling into the treacle-paced decade, and Xenogears is our harbinger. Why do dungeons take an hour to complete? Why does each plot beat last four or more hours when the same ground is covered in one hour in contemporaries? The environment design is stunning, and I don’t know why vertically-layered cities aren’t the standard in our fantasies, and several of its attempts at pathos and moral complexity work. Many more come off as childish, exacerbated through its verbosity – the way that Quintet could build affecting religious parable in a few short text boxes is gone, and you can see the trouble that higher fidelity creates for art. Suggesting was a more powerful tool than the new telling.
I realized that I like to use the language ‘nice’ when I’m thinking about a flawed game that’s unchallenging, both to a player and the genre constraints it’s bound to. If it’s flawed but disruptive, creative, or strange, I’d probably just dig into superlatives and say it’s ‘great’ or ‘fantastic’. This community figured out that we don’t need to debit flaws from strengths years and years ago, much to our credit, but I think it’s also given me a perspective that glides past the unremarkable but moody, pleasant.
It’s really hard to think about something like Alundra separated from nostalgia, as its strengths are in a comfort extremely similar to nostalgia’s soporific blanket.
Yeah I think your (both) stepping in here without voting, founds the issue I take with these takes; it’s kinda entering a dialogue or discourse diametrically to what’s written on the door.
be the real jrpg person and play orphen: scion of sorcery on the ps2 for the ultimate confusing budget mid-level jrpg aesthetic
Now that’s a recommendation
Being the first thing I bought/owned with PS2 launch, I’m super credible
I’m sorry; I’m happy you brought it up and eager to talk about these games but I feel uncomfortable voting for one over others without knowing more about what you want out of them; the eternal problem of ranking cultural products in a vacuum.
Please understand, I’m not coming from a place of heaping scorn on PSX games or anyone’s desire to do it; I play these commonly, I’m doing it now, and I think about them often. I’m trying to engage in critical dialogue from a perspective of love, which is my read of this community’s purpose, yeah?
Xenogears gets pooped on all the time for being unfinished. And for being too wordy and/or obtuse. For having some clearly poor moments of translation. But that game does so much very right, its easily par or better, than other favorites of the genre.
The character designs are perfect. And the way the characters are written is well fitting to their designs.
The characters have depth beyond general personality and a few quips here or there. Most of the characters have backstories which are quite good and directly inform who they are. And some of them you continue to find more about, even late into the game.
The art direction is perfect.
The soundtrack is one of the greats.
The combat system is exciting and has some strategy. But doesn’t lock you into patterns. and instead, encourages you to change it up and rewards you for it.
Several scenes in the game push the boundaries of RPG directing.
The Yggdrasil is probably the best ship ever in an RPG. And that’s because you actually live inside of it and fully function inside of it. And so do tons of other people. Its huge and makes sense. Its not just a thing to travel fast. Its a major character and place in the story.
i cant think of another jrpg so wholly tied to its aesthetic that also features an entire starting path where every member of your party besides yourself is completely defenseless and useless
the perfect game in my imagination plays like ultima online and looks like xenogears
I never liked sidescrolling games because they felt like being on a track. I wanted to be a person in a world and top down view games were best for that for me. and xenogears might be my favorite one, definitely console one at least. you can even click on things in the world that aren’t npcs and sometimes get responses. not enough but it helps. I even think the combat is kind of fun and I can never normally stand that shit and try to cheat through jrpgs. the game goes on forever, you get to go to mos eisely, there’s a whole part where you’re in prison forever, there’s a gruff sea captain that’s a big talking dog, there’s lots of neat villages and towns, it’s great. I don’t know how anyone can put up with anything in smt nocturne and complain about the sewer dungeon or anything else in xenogears. at least I get to see neat martial arts animations play out in gears.
Alundra is a game I love, a lot, but most of the component pieces are less than perfect.
I like the music well enough, especially the voices used but… Im not gonna listen to it outside of the game.
The art is pretty good.
The animation is good.
The enemies are dangerous if annoying.
The boss fights are fun.
The Town and it’s people are fantastic.
The feeling of entering a dungeon for the first time or leaving one is fantastic.
The experience In the Dungeons is inconsistent. I really love some of the locations though.
The over world is pretty and fun to explore as any good zelda is.
Really the feeling of Aludra is either one of excitement for what is over the next hill or that feeling when you realize you’re deep underground and the supplies are running low and holy shit will I ever see the sun again…
Xenogears is just an aesthetic triumph with enough spooky conspiracy scifi techno religious bullshit to keep me grinning forever. Unless Im in the sewer. Man, fuck that place. The cast in that game rules. The look is just the best. Its too long and dumb but every new chapter or area is weirder and better than the last. I played it as a dumb, angry, horny, 90s anime obsessed, bookish teen and I can revisit the residue of that head space just by playing this.
I cant get anywhere in Vagrant Story as much as I like it. Eventually I have all weapons with the wrong affinity doing 1 damage per hit to some boss beast and I’m like, I can totally win but… why the fuck is it like this?
I have plenty more words for you @BustedAstromech but for the matter of time I’m currently resorting to opinion talk: you have to be aware your efforts of speaking effectively betray the sense of speaking evaluatively sometimes, y’know there could actually an inflated sense of authority on the matter when you’re painting in such broad strokes. Easy to see but not that well defined and more cursory, diminishing to serve your own personal leans under extra-pretense of acumen.
I barely need mention Mitsuda’s work elevating Xenogears as a whole, but it’s the 1998 videogame for the PSX as a whole art, narrative, mecha, cities, and so on (whatever less than gracious ad nauseum talk there is about it not grasping its reach…c’mon most anyone here lightly familiar with the game knows these obvious takes)
That carries a legacy of love for the content, and I don’t believe it’s reaching to say that DOES get best represented through the power of an event like last year’s 20th anniversary. And it’s not superficial, or misguided by all treacle and sentiment, is it?
^ I’m glad someone else uploaded this again, I keep thinking it’s my turn
SB is an awesome place I joined three years ago and have some sort of idea since then of its community, which I can’t know like you or many vets, and honestly that doesn’t concern me.
I’m trying to engage in critical dialogue from a perspective of love, which is my read of this community’s purpose, yeah?
That sounds fair
And I guess this would too, but evoking that kinda thing sounds again more like self assertion of authority on the matter, and not allowing other viewpoint perspective, lifeblood. Maybe there’s a lot of old discussion you, maybe Felix tire of, I mean both your posts were very much to the point of “I dunno, can’t really isolate one as better than the others because I’d rather knock 'em all down a bit instead”
And of course though I have a tendency to be self serious when provoked, these were my reads here because 35 people wanted to offer a vote and could talk shoot some shit about what they liked/disliked and contrast among em, I’m not trying to police a simple thread I made because that’d be absurd. But it does reek of some weird faux elitism overriding involvement toward the obvious discussion at hand. Maybe it’s glaring only to me.
Well I gave into rambling. Anyways, you’ve ensured I’ll clog some threads with a flood of posts about the finer points and values these games carry, and if I can keep in mind contrast with what you claimed here. It’ll be good discourse.
In astromech’s defence (and this will surprise nobody) I frequently wind up in a position of having to tell myself “oh, oops, the goal wasn’t to be critical this time around, my bad” when I try to participate in a discussion intuitively
I think…I feel like I’m getting misunderstood like a Tulpa has been. I don’t want to shut down discussion, ever. I don’t want to shut you down, I think this is a good topic and I’m glad you opened it up. I definitely try to support my points strongly because I believe that’s the clearest form of communication, so we don’t talk in circles and can learn from each other more quickly.
I’m interpreting this as it feels like I’m arguing from authority. Yikes! Please remind me when I’m doing this because I don’t consider myself one; I hang out here because I learn more from all of you than any other community I’ve ever been a part of. This place taught me how to think more than anything else.
I’m a bit confused about the voting thing, because I didn’t think voting indicated a desire to participate, but was an alternate form of participation. I generally stay out of polls and post games because it’s not my thing, but I don’t want to give the impression I’m castigating the activities or topics.
I don’t dislike these games nor do I come to bury them. I come to understand them better and I trust I’ll learn from this community. Thanks for creating a space to remember them.
Yeah I wanted to like Vagrant Story. REALLY wanted to. But the combat systems, woof. and yeah, I don’t think it was uncommon to craft yourself into a very difficult experience, regarding the weapons.
I spent a lot of my time playing it, wishing it just played like Diablo. If Vagrant story played a lot like Diablo, man that would have been great for me, at the time.
I feel like this is part of SB culture in general, because I do this so much that friends of mine have verbed my last name to describe it.
I wish Diablo played like Vagrant Story.
I admit there are some issues with stats and balancing, but the moment to moment battles are probably one of my favorite in any RPG.