Monday, February 28, 2011

Final Fantasy XIII--first thoughts

For me there are three key factors in a game, characters, plot, and world. Any one of these by itself can grab my interest and pull me along. Gameplay is there in the background, and sometimes it even prevents me from finishing (yes, I'm looking at YOU, Magna Carta: Tears of Blood!!), but it is not my thing. I need an interesting plot that I can get involved with and want to learn more about (is Ultimecia REALLY future-Rinoa?). Or a beautiful and complex world, full of life and history. Or, and this is the clincher, characters that I care about. I draw them, I chibify them, I ship them, I write myself into the plot. Yes, I will do anything to finish a game for characters that I love (FF II, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XII, Xenogears, Disgaea 2, Legend of Dragoon, &c...yes there have been a few^^).

Final Fantasy XIII had me interested from the time that the trailers started appearing at Japanese game shows. The world looked future-y but not too outer-spacey (that's where Xenosaga lost me). I began to look for character designs online, recognizing as I did some familiar FF archetypes. And at last the days were accomplished when the game was delivered unto me. Hmmm, ok, here we go!! Yes, well the screen type is so small. Should I buy that 64" plasma screen TV that I have been reinforcing my wall for? No, not yet. *sigh* I can squint. And my son is having the same problem with Atelier Rorona: Alchemist of Arland. Ok here we go again! Right onandonandon through a cattle chute. My, but this game is LINEAR! Will I ever get to wander anywhere except back and forth (without hair whips, TG). Anyway, the landscape is detailed, but does not seem alive. I have escaped the crystal lake, but a glance ahead in the guidebook shows me nothing but more cattle chutes!!

I am getting a grasp on the gameplay, so I don't think that will be too much of a problem. As long as there is a way for me to get super strong at some point, I will be ok. And, i do find that I am starting to care about the characters. All of them except for Snow. Mr. I'm-a-hero can take a hike, as far as I'm concerned. And, he's like 2 feet taller than anyone else on the planet. Light, Sazh, and Vanille are going to carry this game for me, I think. Light is the Cloud, the Squall of this game, the troubled loner driven by an inner code too strict for any person to live up to. Vanille is the Selphie/Rikku, the cheerful wanderer, full of life and enthusiasm. Sazh (Szah?) is my favorite; he is capable and kind, adapting quickly and willing to help others, as long as they do the minimum of acknowledging his existence. These three are the ones I am counting on to pull me through this game. I understand the plot a little better now, but it is probably best not to go into that, unless you want to play the game. All I can hope for now, is that the world gets a little more beautiful. And I am already shipping Sazh x Light.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Ending to a story I wanted to write...

There was no time to think. "Go, NOW!," roared the elderly dwarf, as he staggered against the elfcarven walls of the ruined crypt. Rin just stared at him, she could not move from the spot she had chosen to die. How had this happened? The ogres were closing in, and would soon overwhelm their small party. Then, somebody grabbed her arm, nearly tearing it out of its socket. She turned her head. It was Keta the warrior, Keta the strong elven princess, who had endured so much abuse from the ogres, and from her own people. Now, Keta pulled her down the hall. Rin stumbled after, down the damp passage to the core, the goal of their quest. This was the place that her teacher has spoken of, the first home of the elves. In the distance, she heard Gehrhelm give the throttling cry of the dwarf clan that had cast him out. Raz was there too. He would know what to do; he was sarcastic and rude, but always had a plan. Rin lost sight of them. They were in the core, a round room full of shadowed carvings of lives long past. "Here it is," shouted Keta, adding earnestly, "do it!" But do what? Rin did not know what she was supposed to do, her teacher had never told her. He hid much about the past, about the magic that cursed her. Oh Goddess! What was she supposed to do? Keta stared at her, "What are you waiting for! They can't hold them for long! Rin!" The girl gasped, then looked up at Keta. On the journey, Rin had grown to love Keta with all her heart. The elf had become her mother, sister, and friend...all the relationships she had never been able to have in her short life. How could she fail her now. Shouts and growls grew closer in the passage. Raz and Gehrhelm were probably... Aah! She could not think about it! Rin suddenly stood up and faced the center of the chamber. There she saw the dead Arcus, the heart of the elven city. Once it had throbbed with magic, wild uncontrolable magic. Like that which resided within her...her curse... Rin knew what she had to do. As Keta fought the ogres as they swarmed into the chamber, Rin hurled the magic out of her heart. It streamed across the distance to the Arcus, then fanned out, flooding the chamber, burning the ogres to ashes. Keta will live, thought Rin, she is an

A great distance away, in an ivy covered tower by the sea, an old mage slumped in his favorite chair. He gently touched the burn marks caused by Rin when she had struggled to control the elven magic he had placed in her to save her life. Now he knew...he knew that borrowed life had served a good purpose, had given back to the elves what had been theirs. It was all that could have been done, wasn't it? Yet still he cried for the loss of his most troublesome pupil.

Gate and Tower

It's true the tower stands strong,
But sometimes it's stubbornly wrong.
The gate, if open wide,
Lets all take shelter inside.
The tower does not want all.
Yet the gate cannot cease its call.
With every space full inside,
The tower collapsed and died.
The gate now left alone
Let our a chilling moan;
To be alone was not
The future she had sought.
The hill with rubble strewn,
Beneath a frowning moon;
The people all dispersed,
The land around them cursed--
"Come to me, my friend;
The tower must rise again!"

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Disobedient feet

Another week was almost finished, another week the same as the last, and perhaps the same as the week to come. Something of life had been lost, but what--and when? When had I last felt really alive, like there was a vast horizon opening up before me? Now I feel…well…stretched like an elastic band connected back to…. when? Darn! I can't even tell anymore. Even the seasons seem to drag by more slowly, lingering without any significant signposts to look forward to or to fear.

In the bank on payday, I saw too many people. Why were they all here? I took my place in line behind a man. He wore a company work shirt with the sleeves cut off, showing his well-defined muscles. He was more than a full head taller than me, with broad shoulders tapering to a narrow waist. While we waited, he glanced around and fidgeted as if he wished to be anywhere but here. I laughed silently at his predicament. He did seem out of place.

Then, quite unexpectedly, he turned around to face me, and said, "It's really crowded in here today." My eyes were immediately drawn up to meet his, which now had focused with all their intensity and passion for life upon me. "Y-yes," I replied, flustered and unable to escape, "It's usually not this bad." Then, just as abruptly, he turned back around.

Ah! I blushed. I looked at the floor. What had just happened? He…he was younger than me, certainly. He probably worked outdoors--in construction or something? Maybe a carpenter? His skin was a beautiful deep chocolate brown. His hair was very short--cut for the summer. I would never normally meet anyone like him in the office. Wait! Why was I even thinking about this? I shook my head vigorously to clear away all thoughts of him--a person whom I would never see again anyway.

He had finished his business at the counter and was ready to depart. I looked over to take him in one last time. This day would be a pleasant but fading memory in future years. Our eyes met, and he smiled. "Heh! Are you hungry?" "Y-yes," I stammered self-consciously. "Well I'm going over to McDonalds. I'll buy you a meal if you meet me there. If not--well--Heh! --No sweat, ok?' And he was gone.

After finishing at the bank, my car took me right over to McDonalds. And there he was, looking me over with a huge grin. I looked away with embarrassment. What was I doing here? Was this even safe? "Heh! I knew you'd come," he laughed, "get over here."

My feet moved me over to a place beside him. When our turn in line came up, he ever so gently pushed me forward to place my order. "We're together," he announced solemnly, as if it were an eternal truth.

Later, as we sat facing each other in the booth, he asked about my job and my interests. We chatted about the weather, his work--it was construction--and the price of gas. Then, when we had finished came the moment I had been dreading. He asked for my number.

"But you know," I said politely grasping the french-fried air for an excuse, "I'm almost four--well I'm a little--just a little--older that you, and--"

"So what's your point? Do you want to see me again or don't you?"

He made me wait and think about him a whole week before he called to ask me out. Now, here I am in my bedroom, almost ready. I have struggled into some new skinny jeans and a carefully selected purple paisley Daisy Fuentes twisted-knot top, finishing up with my favorite black leather tall shaft boots. Now, some light make-up and perfume to finish--all for him. He will be here soon, and I have decided to get into his car and travel wherever he will take me.