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Thread: The Franky Tank's Ramblings

  1. #61

    Default Re: The Franky Tank's Ramblings

    I look forward to seeing your thoughts again when the time comes. If it ends up not grabbing you after another earnest try, then it's just not the series for you. Whether it's the Sky games or the Cold Steel games, both are a lot more about the characters and building the world/setting, and waiting until around the last quarter of the game to really start picking up steam with the main plot. I might have to do a run down here about why the Sky trilogy resonated so well with me at some point.

    Alright, on to the next character I want to talk about. Let me introduce you to the up and coming hero with an explosive temperament, Bakugo.

    Spoiler:


    So it's been less than a year since I started the series, and this character was one that surprised me with how much I like him. First of all, I thought he was just going to be a one note character. In the first chapter, we get introduced to our protagonist, Deku, and Bakugo is just an arrogant bully that just seemed to be a way to show off a bit of Deku's motivation. Fast forward 100+ chapters, Bakugo has a presence through the series at large, and is a foil to Deku's character. He still has an abrasive personality, and still can be quite arrogant, but has become the character I'm most invested in the series.

    Of course, this was a long journey of me warming up to him over time. One large hurdle was how he was initially introduced, as a cocky bully who had no redeeming qualities at all, and in one chapter gets you to look at him in only a negative light. Despite the fact that you get a scene with him being less abrasive towards Deku not too many chapters later, his personality just makes it hard to get behind him. The other problem was my imagination of what this character was ultimately going to be, and I went through a large chunk of catching up thinking Bakugo was going to be a character who I would just end up hating. In the end, once certain events happened, I figured out that my image of Bakugo was unfounded in some ways, and that the direction of his character was going to be quite different than what I expected.

    I have yet to reread the chapters again, so my memory of a number of things are hazy, but I think there is one defining reason that made me understand him, and got me to like him despite having such a personality and initial introduction. His outlook on what a hero is all comes down to power, and only the strong can become a hero. Deep down, he wants to be a hero like his idol, and when he becomes a hero like that, he will be doing a lot of good. We've also seen him be less abrasive towards others, and while still not charming, he does have respect towards fellow classmates. We saw this in one arc, where despite others chastising him for taking a class mate seriously in a mock battle, he went all out as a sign of respect towards that person, because he understands that so many others are fighting towards their goals like him.

    So this is where my greater appreciation of him as a character comes in, as I look at his relationship with Deku. Deku was initially shown as a weak person who dreamed of being the best, while Bakugo was introduced as someone born with the ability to go far. Deku and Bakugo did hang out when they were younger, and at first I found it weird, but I think Bakugo does have that soft spot for helping others, and for a weakling like Deku, was willing to help him out as a person who aspired to become a hero. However, Deku showed strength and willingness to help Bakugo, and now in the present, Deku is not the weakling that he once was. This presents an issue for Bakugo, as he believes in strength being the force for good, but still can't get past the idea of Deku being capable of being a hero despite the appearance of being weak. It's a struggle that plagues him, and is quite well done through the series so far.

    In a way, it's kind of relatable. It's easy to have certain expectations of something, where you look at some sort of group, and equate it with a specific trait. For example, it can be easy to assume that a job is held by certain kinds of people, and when you come across someone who doesn't fit inside that tight view, it can be hard to imagine that. It's something that I certainly struggle with from time to time, as well as my family and friends. Bakugo's character, to me, seems like a message of how you shouldn't judge a person, and that you can't expect them to go certain way you think they should. Typing this all out, his character in many ways was like my time looking at him as a character, judging based on a few points from introduction, and not giving him a chance for so long because of that.

  2. #62

    Default Re: The Franky Tank's Ramblings

    It's been around 7 years since was introduced to my first Persona game, Persona 4. From there I played the others and many of the SMT games. With the release of Persona 5 this year, I was quick to hail it as superior over 4, but I've become less certain of that over time. 5 did a lot of thing great, but something about 4 just seems to continue to resonate with me more compared to the other games. Still, both are great games with great characters and themes that reflect with the current times. One thing I can say for certain, is that while I loved a number of characters from 5, Persona 4 still has my favorite character from all the games, my man, Kanji Tatsumi.

    Spoiler:


    Compared to the other characters I talked about before, one standout for me is I can relate with Kanji in some way. Kanji has that tough looking exterior, one that says don't mess with him. One look at him and many would assume he's a jock type, and be "manly". However, that couldn't be further from the truth. As the game stresses over and over, appearances are deceiving, and you can't judge somebody on shallow things such as looks. Kanji is actually a big softie, one who will get angry and yell in frustration, but he wouldn't really attack somebody. He's pretty much all bark and no bite. Add on to the fact that Kanji has hobbies and likes things that people would find "unmanly". This is a huge part of his character arc, as he has to become comfortable with who he is and not worry about what others think of him because of that.

    While I don't have that tough look, I have been around plenty of people from work offshore that assumed things about me because of my stature and being male. When certain people found out things about me that went against the idea of masculinity (being a virgin, never having gotten drunk or been in a fight, not liking sports, guns, hunting), reactions were less than pleasant. While at that exact moment I wasn't thinking about it, I believe Kanji was a bit of an inspiration to me. He loves cute things and has a knack for crafts, and while that may be considered unmanly, he's still a cool guy despite what some may say. In those moments when some thought less of me, I shrugged it off because their opinion of me didn't matter, it didn't change who I was or made me any less of a person. It's something I can't put into words, but the way Kanji is written is just done so well.

    Now I do want to say, a lot of the main cast of Persona 4 is amazing. Naoto fits quite a bit into the same conflict Kanji has, dealing with how society views your gender role and getting past that. Rise has an image crisis, unsure of who she actually is. Yukiko and Chie are great individually, but I really love their friendship as well. All that said, Kanji was chosen over the others mainly because I can relate to him, and I found him a little more charming compared to the others.

    Next will be my last character for the time being, a timid chef who should be the main character of this cooking series.

    The other thing that really works well for me is just Kanji's personality. There is that tough guy act he puts on as a front at times, but he is quite earnest and even if others poke fun at times, he can be pretty upfront about what he thinks and feels (except for one particular thing). If he see's something he finds cute, he won't hold back and will comment on it. If something gets under his skin, he will get a bit snappy, or get flustered. He's not great with words and isn't book smart, but he still has some insightful moments, and once he is committed to something, he goes all in. Kanji may be the butt of a joke more than he would like, but he doesn't let that get him down, and he can get back on his feet and move on. Put all of that together, I just can't help but smile and cheer Kanji on.

  3. #63

    Default Re: The Franky Tank's Ramblings

    (being a virgin, never having gotten drunk or been in a fight, not liking sports, guns, hunting)

    Hidden:

  4. #64

    Default Re: The Franky Tank's Ramblings

    Over a year ago, I watched the first season of Shokugeki no Souma (Aka Food Wars). It was a fun show with some fun characters and the cooking stuff was done pretty well, with references thrown in for fun. Shortly after that, the second season came out, and after that ended I decided to read the manga. While I still enjoy the series overall, it has definitely dropped in quality quite a bit, and many of the characters that I came to love have become little more than background cheerleaders. Still, there is one character who still has prominence, and despite what happened in the most recent chapter, is still a character I enjoy, Megumi.

    Spoiler:


    While Soma is the lead character, I consider Megumi more as the main character even if the series hasn't given her a lot of focus for a while. When first introduced to her, we learn that she came to the school bright eyed and ready to impress, but she quickly got shot down as she was unable to make much of an impression. Throughout her middle school time she barely skirted by until she got to high school, which she was on thin ice. She quickly becomes impressed with Soma's skills, and while she doesn't have much confidence, the spark that was all but gone was beginning to flame up again.

    Where most characters feel like they remain static for the most part, Megumi has the journey of improving and showing that despite her size and demeanor, she has the ability to go up against some of the best. She shows ability to adapt and make impressive dishes, but her nerves get in the way a lot of the time. While she still gets nervous, she has improved overtime and once gets past her initial nervousness, she comes out and cooks with confidence. That's when she really shines, and shows her potential which has slowly unlocked overtime.

    I seem to have a soft spot for these kinds of characters, those who are shy and nervous, but overtime can come out of their shell and show that despite their timid nature, there is a fierce fire within them that can be unstoppable at times. This most likely stems from the fact that I had a period where I was shy and timid, and had to overcome some anxieties to become who I am today. The other thing is that there's just something great about a timid character who shows confidence in certain situations. A lot of times it shows what gets them to tick, or what they find important that get them riled enough to speak up and hold their ground. So when Megumi has those times her eyes shine with confidence, it just makes those scenes with her that much better.

    I'll talk about more characters at a later time, but those 4 are the ones I really wanted to talk about. Will probably talk about a few travel stories, then I really want to go in depth about a topic I've been wanting to do for a while, even though very few if any who read this will be able to appreciate it much.

  5. #65

    Default Re: The Franky Tank's Ramblings

    I had plans on taking a trip to China in December, but with having to quit my job and now taking a class to transition into a new field, I had to cancel that and put any hopes in travelling on hold for the foreseeable future. It's been over two years when I left for my huge 3.5 month trip to Europe + Egypt, which during my work day I find myself thinking about various parts of it. Lately, I have been thinking back on the Italy part of my trip, and it was definitely part of the trip I was looking forward to quite a bit when I first started. I spent over a week there, spending a number of nights in Rome, then taking a tour bus to a number of places in the northern area. For now, I think I will talk a little about my favorite place in Italy, Venice.

    There's something about me that even a small pond adds to a scene to me. Perhaps it's all my time offshore and studying marine biology, but a body of water added to any scene makes me like it that much more. So having a city filled with water ways is definitely going to make me that much more appreciative of the place. I arrived outside of Venice in the evening, and shortly after getting into my room, I headed out to a boat taxi to arrive at the main square of Venice. We walked around some narrow ally ways to see some of the place, and it was pretty desolate at night. Most of the time was spent just being at the main square free to do whatever we wanted.

    That night stays fresh in my mind even two years later. It was a full moon that floated above the nearby cathedral, which was partly obscured by thin clouds passing by. For a little while I just stood by a pillar and looked at the moon, but quickly I became hungry and went to get my daily Gelato fix (though I think I had Gelato before, but since I was in Italy, I wanted to get Gelato as much as I could). After getting two scoops of two different flavors, I found myself a spot to stand at to get the best view of the whole square, as well as the Cathedral with the moon above it. There were multiple small orchestra's around the square as well, one would play a song, and once one finished, another started soon after. I spent a solid half hour finishing my short evening there staying in the one spot, slowly eating away at my Gelato, being serenaded by the music and just soaking in the scenery. That whole time I found myself at peace and wanted to stay like that the whole night, but unfortunately, I had to leave with my tour group.

    Spoiler:



    The next day was a lot more open. After a brief visit to the cathedral in the main square, we were allowed to do as we pleased the rest of the day. Before walking around, I took a nice ride through the canals in the Gondola, enjoying the city from a different perspective. The rower moved through the narrow passages with ease, and for a little while we were in the main canal. A few gondola's behind us, a person was playing music which I could hear throughout most of the time. It was a nice change of pace, being able to sit back and enjoy the view as the gondola moved along. Seeing the people moving along the bridges as we passed under them was quite enjoyable as well. It was a quick half hour, but it was definitely a great time.

    Spoiler:



    Once done, I did what was suggested by the guide for the afternoon, walk around the place without looking at the map. The city could be a maze at times, but there was always something to find, which wandering made much more interesting. each turn I made there was always a new discovery to be made, which made me want to continue on. I spent a good hour just walking around, seeing what my feet would take me to, until I got hungry and found a small place to eat during my travel. I found myself in outside in a random square, and ordered myself a pasta dish with wine, and decided to go farther by getting a Tiramisu with a hot chocolate. It was quite an enjoyable meal in a nice little area.

    Spoiler:



    Once done, I spent the next few hours wandering until I happened upon the bus station, which at that time I was tired and it was getting time to head back to the hotel. Each turn always lead to somewhere new, and the buildings along the canals was a magnificent view. If and when I return to Italy, Venice is definitely a place I want to revisit.

    Spoiler:


  6. #66

    Default Re: The Franky Tank's Ramblings

    So my first evening in Rome, I did a walking tour to a number of sights, starting at the Spanish Steps. The tour started out interesting, because an older lady came with her two daughters, and she needed a cane to move around and was already looking out of it. She asked if this tour was going to have lots of walking. Yes, asking questions isn't bad, but this was one that they already should've known about. It was specifically advertised as a walking tour, which described it as walking around for a good few hours, with a company name called Walks of Italy. Good news is the lady was able to make it through the entire tour, but she was behind the group constantly, and the moments of being free to look at areas ourselves, she had to spend those fleeting moments sitting down to catch a breath. As for myself, I thoroughly enjoyed the tour, and even though there was a light drizzle the entire time, I actually found myself enjoying the tour more because of it. However, the tour ended at a completely different place than where I started, and it took me walking around and asking how to get to the nearest station to return to my hotel. When I arrived, my wet hands ruined my 3 day ticket I had purchased, and ended up having to pay for a new one. I lost a bit of money my first day, having that happen, and getting into an unlicensed taxi which had charged me almost triple the rate it should've been to get to my hotel.

    Spoiler:



    The first full day I took a tour to Pompeii, which was around a 3 hour bus ride. The traffic in Rome was crazy, so seeing the driver maneuver through the crowded streets was quite a spectacle. The first destination was the volcano, and when we arrived it was raining, which meant they wouldn't allow people through to trek to the top. Thankfully, it stopped shortly after arriving, though we were at cloud level, so visibility wasn't the best. I could only see so far in front of me, and not see much below me. I was getting unhappy with the conditions, but as luck would have it, the clouds opened up enough to get a view, and I got a gorgeous view of Naples resting along the coast. It was definitely my favorite sight of the volcano portion. At the top, I could barely see into the volcano, just rocks and moss. For a minute, it did clear up, and I could see steam coming out of some areas. After stopping for lunch, getting a margherita pizza, we made out way to the ruins of Pompeii. We were shown around some of the streets and some areas before getting to the forum, where we were free to walk around at out leisure. It offered the best view with both the ruins and the nature backdrop.

    Spoiler:




    The last day in Rome I did a few other things, but the main attraction for me was the Coliseum. Since I went with a tour group, I got to go on a different side from those going in without a group, and got to see the area below and go to some floors above. The top floor gave an incredible view of the entire place, and it also gave a nice view of the surrounding area. Once it was all over, I found a little cafť nearby where I could get a nice little view of the Coliseum while eating. After that it was a trip to the catacombs, which was a very different site. Walking through the narrow corridors gave an eerie vibe, and it felt like a maze that I wouldn't have found my way back out if not for the guide. I wish I could've taken pictures, but that was not allowed. The last tour was of the Vatican museum, and ended with the Sistine chapel. Of all the things I did, I feel like this one was a waste. I probably would've found it more enjoyable had I not tired myself out doing everything else before then. The bummer was no pictures of the Chapel.

    Spoiler:



  7. #67

    Default Re: The Franky Tank's Ramblings

    The year is winding down, and it's that time of year where I look back and think about all that happens. While my personal life has been in flux and had ups and downs, one thing that is for sure is this year for video games has been the best for me in a long time. Usually, I only bought a few games released that year, and most of my time was spent playing games that came from previous years. While this year I did play some old games such as Dark Souls, new games that I bought this year include Resident Evil 7, Breath of the Wild, Persona 5, Trails in the Sky 3rd, Ys VIII, Metroid: Samus Returns, Zwei: The Illvard Insurrection, Crash Bandicoot: Insane Trilogy, and others I am surely forgetting. So many great games that have given me so many wonderful memories, which I would love to talk about. Around New Years time, I'll do some posts about the various games I played this year and go a bit more in depth on my thought there, but for now, I want to talk about my favorite game Trilogy, a trilogy that I feel really speaks to me on many levels, the Trails in the Sky trilogy. I'm doing it here so I don't needlessly bump the actual thread that pretty much gets no attention.

    I'm going to talk about each game without giving anything in the way of spoilers. I'll talk about why I like each game and give more general reasons and anything specific will not be spoilers, and if I feel like I need to mention an actual story plot point, I will make sure to tag it. Before talking about each separate game, I'm going to do a little blurb about some of the many characters that I came to know and love as a start. Once I finish my talk about the games, I may do a post or two with spoilers, for those who have either played the game, or don't plan on playing and don't care about spoilers. I have a feeling no one is really going to care about these posts, but even if nobody else cares, I really want to put my thoughts about the series into words finally, as this trilogy has consumed years of my life, and I still can't stop thinking about it now.

    So to end this post, a brief history of me and this game series. Back at the start of 2013, I realized I didn't get a whole lot of use with my PsP, and decided to buy a bunch of games for it. I bought most of the Ys series and Valkyria Chronicles 2, and after looking up some articles about hidden gems on the PsP, I picked up Trails in the Sky. Out of all the games I bought, I saved Sky for last, since I knew the Ys games were shorter, and I had been wanting to play a Valkyria Chronicles game for a while since playing the first. I found myself engaged in the game immediately, and by the end of the game I was ready for more. After the credits, there was a teaser for the second game, and I had to look up plans for releasing the sequel. My heart sunk as at the time there were no plans for the sequel, and sales seemed to not be great from the few articles I read. Things looked grim and I gave up hope on the sequel releasing, until later that year it was announced that XSeed (the publisher), was going to bring the sequel over in 2014!

    2014 came and I played the first game again, thinking the sequel was around the corner, and enjoyed the game a lot more. However, things stayed quiet and 2015 came with no release of the second game. Then it was announced that another installment in the saga of Trails games, Cold Steel, was coming to the West that year, and the second Sky game would come out around the same time. Flash forward to being in Greece, where I saw a post on this forum that said the game was coming out in a week (shout out to Darth Asthma). To get myself ready, I played the first game again, and then after beating it went directly into the second game. It was an emotional roller coaster and I loved it. Now there was a third game that I knew about, but at the time from what I heard, many were doubtful of the Third game coming out. I was fine with it not coming out, since the main story of the trilogy was over and the third game was a separate story. Then XSeed announced the third game would be released, and it came out this year in May. Played the first two games again before playing the Third one, and finally, I played and beat the whole trilogy, after 4 years of waiting for everything to be released.

    Between all my play throughs of each game (played 1 4 times, 2 twice, and 3 only once so far), I have put between 2 to 300 hours into this trilogy. So saying I'm a fan of this trilogy would be putting it lightly. Hopefully you will enjoy my analysis of the serious, and hopefully entice some of you to try it. See you next time, where I talk about some of the amazing characters, including my current avatar.

  8. #68

    Default Re: The Franky Tank's Ramblings

    Alright, since I already did a lengthy post on Estelle earlier, I'll be skipping her for this character talk. All that I will say is that she is my favorite of this series, and later will do a post looking at her more closely with some spoiler talk. For now, I will talk about some other characters from the game, once again, no spoilers. I'll try to be brief.

    First up is my second favorite, the warrior of love, Olivier Lenheim

    Spoiler:


    Olivier is the kind of character that takes the right kind of balance to really make endearing. He is very eccentric, and has a very flowery language, which he uses to go on about his adventures, and at times to exclaim how he finds a person beautiful. All of this can be a recipe for disaster if the balance is even just slightly off. If anyone has ever played Bravely Default, there is a character named Ringabel who hits on all the ladies. While he was one of my favorites in that game, it was way too heavy handed at times, which made it hard for me to like him early on. Olivier, however, hits that right balance for me. He may remark on how he finds someone attractive, but it's not constant, and there's a number of Male characters which he hits on as well. There are also moments he gets punished for underestimating a situation. Then there's the fact that when a situation is quite serious, while he may make a quip or two depending on what a person says, it's nothing that takes you out of the moment. There's also the fact that a lot of times, his playful banter shows that he actually has a keen awareness of the situation. He may act weird and sometimes stupid, but you quickly learn he is quite good at reading people and situations.

    Next up, wrapping up the trifecta of my favorite characters, Kloe Rinz

    Spoiler:


    Kloe is the opposite of Estelle in many ways, the main one that gets focused on is how she is more timid and hesitant. Estelle will jump into a situation without a second thought, but Kloe is hesitant about her abilities and as a result, has a harder time making decisions on the fly. However, if someone or something close to her is on the line, that's when she will jump in with no hesitation. Those moments in which she steps up, confidence showing from her eyes, are some of the greatest moments she has. Her greatest moment comes in the second game, when she finally gains confidence in her abilities and moves forward with no shred of doubt. I don't dare spoil it, but if you aren't a Kloe fan before that, you most likely will after that moment. Also, she has a pet falcon

    Next up is the man formerly known as Zane, Zin

    Spoiler:


    Unlike a number of characters in the series, Zin doesn't have much of a character arc. The second game delves a little more into some of his past, but overall, he's the guy who stands there solid, and ready to give out advice to those who come for it. It's hard for me to zero in on what exactly makes him so likable to me. I think it mainly comes down to subtle things about his actions that make him endearing. Whereas Olivier will proclaim out loud his thoughts, Zin will make a small passing comment about certain topics instead. Another part of it is there's his relationship with another character that adds depth, and also takes him out of his usual calm demeanor at times.

    Now for the hot head with the heart of gold, Agate Crosner

    Spoiler:


    Much like Bakugo from My Hero, this is a character who comes across quite brash and hard to like at first. However, after a certain point, you can see that despite his bluntness, he does care about others, and even if he's not quite good with words, can have some great moments. His story and arc are much more in depth in the second game, and his relationship with another character is a great foil to his personality. Which brings me to the little genius, Tita Russell.

    Spoiler:


    On her own, I find it hard to say a lot about her. She is likable and adorable, but as far as the first game is concerned, there's not a whole lot to her. However, in the second game, her and Agate have a familial relationship, and both stand out a bit more for that. Agate shows a kinder side more often with her, and Tita gets some great moments as well. As a duo, they elevate each others arc. As for Tita by the third game, that's where it feels like there's a certain purpose she is building towards, which works in the end because as the youngest member, she doesn't need to have a big story arc with some of the others.

    Up next is the Silver Streak, Scherazard Harvey

    Spoiler:


    Much like Zin, there isn't much of a character arc for her, and her past is explored a bit more in the other two games. That said, she is established as a mentor for Estelle, and even more than that, a sister figure. Scherazard has known Estelle since she was little, and have grown a connection with each other over that time. She helps reign in Estelle at times, but they both deeply care for each other, and at times confide in each other about stuff. It's quite the touching relationship they have. Scherazard also has great moments, and while calm, she can come out ferocious and cut through the bullshit.

    This character took me a long time to appreciate, Joshua

    Spoiler:


    Joshua is sort of an adopted brother to Estelle, one who we meet at the very beginning of the first game. He is calm and collected, and always presents himself in a pleasurable manner. For the longest time, I found him to be more on the bland side. However, that was when I first started playing, and seeing subtle details was impossible for me. Josh is a person who can't emote his feelings, despite having a way with words. He can explain things well, plan out well, and read into a situation with great clarity. When something is bothering him, he shuts it inside, unable to explain it. This is a great contrast to Estelle, who doesn't have the book smarts or the gift of the gab, but she will speak her mind with ease, and has a warm personality. Add on to how things play out in the rest of the trilogy, I found myself attached to Josh a lot more.

    Those are just the party members, and there are so many story characters that stand out to me, including antagonists. However, I already went longer than I wanted, and talking about a lot of those characters would spoil the game, so I will have to leave them out for now. Next up, breaking down the first game and why it works so well for me.

  9. #69

    Default Re: The Franky Tank's Ramblings

    Trails in the Sky FC (First Chapter)

    When I think back to this game, the first thing that comes to my mind is the opening cinematic and the theme that accompanies it. It really is appropriate for how the game plays out, with things being calm and simple, and as the game goes on things slowly get bigger. While many ultimately may not like the pacing of this game, I feel that it's all the stronger because of it. You start in a small town where life is simple and mundane, and as you move on you get to bigger places such as a market town, a coastal town, to eventually the capital of the Kingdom. Each chapter takes place in a section of the Kingdom, and helps not just introduce characters, but get a feel for the uniqueness of each place as well. Even if you ignore talking to the NPC's and seeing their lives go on as the game progresses, you will still have some interaction with NPC's with the story, and it all helps make the country feel alive. By the end of the game, I knew the layout of the entire country and had a connection to it. While this may not seem that important, it's quite vital for not just this game, but for the second game as well.

    Getting back to the start, the first chapter is Estelle and Josh becoming junior Bracers, a guild that helps citizens with various problems, which can be us mundane as a missing pet, to things such as body guarding, to greater things than that. In that chapter, you get familiar with Estelle and Josh, and allows you to get an easy bearing of the world in a simple town that doesn't have much going for it. Heck, the climax of the first chapter is chasing after a thief that stole a small jewel. Most games would try to have some huge event early on as a plot hook, but this game doesn't go for that. Despite no central conflict or plot introduced, I was hooked quickly by Estelle, and despite the simplicity of life, I found myself connected to the place. By the chapter end, an event occurs that causes Josh and Estelle to leave for a different area, and from there things just keep building.

    In the first play through, it can feel like nothing really matters early on, and near the end of the penultimate chapter is when things really hit the ground running, with a conflict and antagonist finally established. Having played the game a number of times, it's actually impressive the details that are put in and how you can connect certain threads pretty early on. In fact, I would say no scene was really unnecessary, because it either helps connect to later events, or helps establish characters. It's not just this game that early scenes play into, there are things that you can hear people say if you talk to them enough that connect to the next game, and some which may even connect somewhat to the Cold Steel games. Much like pre Grand Line One Piece, each area crafts its own story, and helps build up for later moments to give more impact.

    The most important part of any RPG for me is the characters, and this game does a great job selling them. Estelle is always fun, whether it's her optimistic outlook, or her non nonsense attitude with certain characters like Olivier. Josh makes a nice contrast to Estelle as the more level headed person and analytical person. Olivier, for the bits he's in, is a hoot, getting under other's skin and baffling people with his flowery language. Each character brings something to the table, and by the end, you know who they are, and for a number of characters like Estelle and Kloe, have an idea of where they need to grow in the next game. That's one of the strongest points of this game, introducing characters to fall in love with, and leaving them with lots of room to grow.

    A big thing that I appreciate is that while there are some loose ends that let you know that a second game will be coming, this game does wrap up the story it set out from the beginning, so even though I craved for the next game, there was still a satisfying conclusion. As for the antagonist, while I can't go into detail because of spoilers, I will say the antagonist is not your mustache twirling villain, and by the time you face off, I found myself understanding the motivations. Personally, I find this particular antagonist to be one of the best developed ones, especially since it feels like most RPG's don't go for much nuance and characterization can be clunky.

    When the credits rolled, I was hit with a wave of emotion. It was quite a journey, where things started out so simple, but after a while it was anything but. So many characters that I met and fell in love with, and I knew that I would have the opportunity to see them again in the second game. What was going to happen next in Estelle's journey also intrigued me. She went from a small town girl into a full fledged bracer, filled with knowledge about the Kingdom and the people who inhabit it. Her optimism kept her going, and even if something got her down, she got back up to keep on fighting. I was ready to see her grow, learn how to be a better bracer and not have to always rely on people to get her out of a pinch. In my gut, I had a feeling great things were in store for her.

    To me, this is the closest thing to the perfect game for me. The game takes its time to build up, and when the main conflict presents itself, it's all the more enjoyable because of that. I never find myself bored, even when I know exactly what is going to happen, because each scene has something for me to enjoy, and a lot of times, the connections to later events is something I enjoy discovering. I'm still amazed how early some things connect to later events. Character interactions are great, and leaves me wanting for more, especially for characters who didn't get to interact in the first game. The game may not be the best graphic wise, but there is still a lot to enjoy, and there's a lot of emotion form the character portraits, and some of the movements by the character sprites I find quite charming. Throw in a satisfying conclusion with some bait for the sequel to keep me hooked, it just works so well.

    The Second and Third game may have bigger emotional moments and stakes, but the First games structure is just done so well.

  10. #70

    Default Re: The Franky Tank's Ramblings

    Trails in the Sky SC (second chapter)

    The first game set up a solid foundation for this game to expand on and allow for bigger moments. Each part of the kingdom had it's unique points and there were characters in each area to be attached to. After the events of the first game, going back to those places to see how they were affected gives a nice reason to revisit, and see certain characters again. However, those unresolved plot threads and character set up for growth was the main draw for me. I wanted to see how certain characters like Estelle and Kloe grew and what choices they would make, and learning more about characters such as Scherazard, Zin, and my man Olivier. Some of the plot that was left to be resolved had me hooked as well, and unlike the first game, the second game is quick to establish a main antagonist and plot that will cover the course of the game.

    The first portion of the game is returning to each area from the previous game, and the order in which you go to each one is completely different from the first. Another huge change is how Josh is absent for a large portion of the game, and the duo of Estelle and Josh is not present. Estelle's main weakness presented in the first game is how she had to rely a lot on Josh to analyze a situation and come up with plans, where Estelle would jump in head first and hope for the best. Having Josh separate from the group gives room for Estelle to overcome some of this, and while not becoming the best at it, learn to analyze things better. Each area also allows various party members to grow and show an obstacle they wish to overcome, whether it's something they need to consider for the future, or overcoming something that happened in the past. By the end of the game, each party member had their own moment to shine and show their true potential in some way. I won't spoil it, but Kloe and Olivier had some of the best moments.

    When revisiting each area, there is some strange event going on which Estelle and the gang investigate to get to the bottom of, which then go back to the overall main conflict of the story. The game makes the revisits worth it, some of it with seeing how the area was effected by events of the first game, but mostly with character moments and how certain events are effecting certain characters. However, the second area you return to is the one that doesn't work that well. Nothing terrible, but compared to the rest of the revisits it just feels lackluster. While to some this may feel more like a slog, I feel the pacing is on point, and since I grew attached to so many places and characters, it works out pretty well. By the end of all the revisits, there's a nice change of pace, which build up to a big emotional moment and also pays off on Estelle learning to be more self reliant. After that, we get to what I feel is the weakest part of the game.

    Sky SC has a lot more emotional moments and highs compared to FC, but where as FC was tight in structure and pacing, SC has some problems with that. The revisits worked well enough, but the way they connected to the overall plot felt a bit weaker. All that is small compared to what happens in the mid section, where it becomes mostly a dungeon crawling experience with short story segments in between. Sky 3rd is more of a dungeon crawling game, but with it being more character focused with plot as a secondary device, the focus on fights and getting through areas is fine. In SC, there is a lot more focus on narrative, and having a bunch of hours dedicated to going through areas with bare designs kills the pacing and makes it a bit of a slog. The story moments are nice, and it's not a deal breaker, but it definitely threw a wrench into an otherwise amazing game.

    After that slog though, that's when things start shake up, and gets us to the penultimate chapter. Throughout both games, you were always confined to the area that the chapter was focused on, but now, you are free to move around the entire country. This gives you one last hurrah before moving on to the final act, getting the chance to revisit each place one last time to offer assistance, and to see how each town is dealing with the current situation that is affecting the entire country. There are some nice quests that are available as well. It all leads into a chaotic climax of the chapter, with some great character moments and another great scene with Estelle (if you are high enough rank), and with that goes into the final chapter.

    This final chapter definitely has some amazing moments. The antagonist has basically been mocking you the whole game, seeming to have the upper hand, and now is your time to turn the tide. Before that, some other battles happen that wrap up certain character arcs, and the latter ones have quite an emotional punch to them. After a long journey to confront the antagonist with some minor setbacks, you finally face the bastard in what is quite the climatic battle. The Merciless Savior is an amazing theme, and top on everything you've gone through, it's an epic conclusion to this journey. Afterwards, we get a few more tense and emotional moments, and afterwards the credits play.

    When the credits played, I was pretty drained. Despite the small slog in the game, this journey was an emotional rollercoaster. The journey of Estelle Bright that the first game started out with was finished. Many characters had their chance to grow and shine, and they looked towards the future with determination to do what they set out to do. Of course there was much more room for these characters to grow, but we got to see the catalysts that would help them grow into whoever they become much later in the future. While we won't see their future journey's, it leaves enough room to fill in what will happen (or for a few characters, they will have some kind of role in later games).

    With the journey complete, it would seem that there was no need for another Sky game, and they could move on to a new place. That's why I was content on the idea that the third game would never release here in the West, and when it did, I was surprised how much the game resonated with me. Next time, I will explain how what was essentially an extended epilogue became a force of a game that elevated this series of games from pretty damn good, to my favorite trilogy of games and my favorite piece of fictional work.

  11. #71

    Default Re: The Franky Tank's Ramblings

    Trails in the Sky 3rd

    Where the first two games had major plot development that overtime built to a crisis on a national scale, this game goes down to a story that is more personal and doesn't have any effect on the greater world or overarching narrative. While the game has all the various playable characters from previous games, a different character takes on the role of main character. The game provides a very different structure and pace, with this being very much a dungeon crawler as you move from area to area to get to the bottom of a mystery that surrounds the main protagonist, and story bits only happen at the beginning and end of the chapters. This game is fan service, providing one more game to spend with these characters and give more time to flesh them out one last time, and since I fell in love so much with these characters, it was a joy to play through this game.

    Outside of the dungeon crawling and story dispersed throughout that, there are some optional events that you can see, a few which are side activities to change things up, and numerous side stories of various characters. For some non spoiler examples, you get a side story of when Kloe first started at the academy, Josh's early days with the Bright family, and Scherazard's early days as a bracer. None of these are necessary to the story (for the most part) or really for the characters. However, it does give some nice background info and made me appreciate these characters even more. Having time to see these characters in earlier years was a nice change of pace, and put some things into perspective from events in the other two games. There a many who don't care for this approach, but I loved it and any time a new event became available, I dropped what I was doing so I could see it. It also breaks up the dungeon crawling well enough that nothing ever got monotonous for me.

    Trails is usually a light hearted series, but can have its heavy moments which work out well. However, this game takes you to some pretty dark places, and despite the fantastical elements of the game, really does root itself in reality. The main protagonist early on shows signs of hiding something, and wants to keep away certain memories of his past. When the time comes which he shares his darkest moments, it was pretty gruesome. However, later after that, before heading to the final area, a side event can be found at the deepest level of this one area that can be described as hell. That event shook me to the core, something disturbing with everything that was implied, and even more because of how it's something that is real. The game shows these scenarios in a well written way, that it really stuck with me and still does.

    This game was already sticking with me quite well, and then the final dungeon happened, and from there I was sucked into an emotional vortex. Throughout this entire saga, I followed these characters through highs and lows, and cheered on their victories. Now, their final challenge begins, and you use all of them. You split up into four groups, and play as all of them through different areas, and different bosses. It's the last time these characters will all be together, so having them all be used one last time is a great way to hype me up. As the final dungeon tune goes on through each area, I only continue to get pumped up.

    So one thing I never mentioned is a little detail that XSeed put in when localizing the game. When clicking on an empty chest, XSeed was able to put an individual message for each one, and it was fun to see what each message said.Most of the chests would be snarky or get onto you about looting them or trying to see if there was something in it still. Nothing that should make a difference for the most part, until this final stretch. During this part, the messages are more positive. The chests are cheering you on, telling you that the journey is close to an end and that you can do it. Some of the localizers left notes about how happy they have been working on this game. Add that with the music playing and everything else, I couldn't help but grin and carry on with excitement. At the end, three of the groups fight sub bosses before you get on with the climatic and emotional final battle. These battles, to me, represent all the struggles from before and show just how far everyone has become, and for the protagonist, finally being able to let go of his burdens.

    Once the battle is over, the group has to split up. A few leave at a time, giving their farewells. Each leave with a goal in mind, some which will be expanded upon a little more later on the series. The group dwindles down as fewer are left, and each goodbye is more emotional than the last. The second to last goodbye is the most emotional one, one that I still think about and makes me really want to play the Crossbell games, since the characters it deals with have their little arc together wrapped up in that game. Finally, the main pair leave together, both bright eyed and ready to take on the future, whatever it has to offer. Then the credits begin to roll.

    I've had games get to me, where by the end I was just an emotional mess. The other two Sky games got me pretty good, had me mull over the journey leading to the ending. Persona 4 and 5 tugged at my heart so much at the end, where I went a day or two unable to stop thinking about it. This game though, I still can't get it out of my head. For a week after finishing it I couldn't get myself to play anything else, and found myself listening to the music a lot. I kept thinking about the journey constantly, and when I thought about the fact that this is the last time all those characters would be together, it was too much for me. It was bittersweet, having been able to be a part of the journey with all these characters, but know that their journey together was over and while perhaps their paths will cross again in some cases, all of them being together seems like an impossibility. While it's not constantly on my mind, I still find myself listening to the music a lot, and when I listen to the final credits theme, I start to tear up on the inside.

    Besides being emotionally invested in the characters in story, as cheesy as it sounds, this series gets to me personally in when I played each game and what I was doing at the time. I'll skip the details, but when I played each game the first time, it kind of represented a part of my personal journey. So the journey of these characters kind of collide with me in a way, so I almost feel like I had a personal stake in it as well. Sounds silly, but that's how I truly feel. I know there are people that have played these games that don't feel they are nearly as great as I do, and others who do love it a lot like I do. The only thing that really bothers me is how few people have played this series. The first game got a lot of sales, but the number of people who've played the entire trilogy is low. So unlike One Piece where I can talk with a lot of people about it, I can't really do that with this series.

    In the end, all that matters is did I enjoy the series, and I definitely did. I don't know if I was able to properly get across why I love this series, but hopefully I was able to express it to a degree. If you are a patient player and don't mind waiting a long time for a story to develop and can enjoy the characters and some of the more mundane aspects, I say give it a go. If you can enjoy the early stuff even half as I did, you are in for a ride.

    Next up will be my final post on this trilogy, where I go in a bit more depth of my three favorite characters, with spoilers. I'm gonna fanboy the shit out of Estelle, Olivier, and Kloe.

  12. #72

    Default Re: The Franky Tank's Ramblings

    Once again, this part will contain spoilers, some pretty major, so read at your own risk.

    First off, I'll start with Kloe.

    Spoiler:
    I have a soft spot for the more timid/unconfident characters out there. When done right, you see someone who isn't confident in their abilities, and over time they become aware of their potential which allows for some really great moments. In the span of first meeting Kloe, she is shown as a kind person who gets along well with others, but not the most outspoken person. Unlike Estelle who is able to jump in and say what she feels with force, Kloe can have a hard time expressing herself. However, in the chapter she is introduced, we learn that she has a personal connection to an orphanage, and get a glimpse of the fire deep inside her. A gang is preparing to hurt one of the kids she helps watch over, and in that moment, all hesitation is gone. She takes out her rapier and is ready to fight to protect someone she cares about. This is a nice little teaser for her big moment in the second game.

    Kloe is just a name that she goes by at school and around others. In actuality, she is Princess Klaudia, granddaughter of the current queen. She is the first in line to be successor to the throne, a responsibility that Kloe is not at all eager to take on, and that includes others. Klaudia is known by name, but her presence is lacking. She barely makes public appearances and for some, that doesn't seem good for the successor of the throne. Then there's the fact that others still are on edge from the war that occurred 10 years ago, where a major power was very close to taking over. This caused an Coup so that those who did not believe in the Queen's goals could build proper defenses and resources to defend against an invasion.

    So over the course of the second game, Kloe is trying to figure out if she should accept the role of successor, and in time, become the Queen. The current Queen, Alicia, is seen as a beacon of hope among the people, and others in the continent respect her for her negotiation abilities. During a period leading up to a peace accord, Kloe expresses how she feels she won't be able to live up to Alicia, and would only be a failure. Olivier brings up a great point, how Kloe is expecting to be just like the Queen, someone who has been ruling for decades, while Kloe is very young. Zin tells her that one doesn't have all the knowledge off the bat and has to learn over the years, and Estelle says she would be worried if Kloe wasn't unsure about taking such a huge responsibility. The way the scene plays out, it sets up nicely how Kloe needs to build that confidence, and that even if and when she accepts that responsibility, it will be a life of learning.

    Kloe is with the group over the course of returning to every area, and at each area, a group of people are threatening to destabilize her country, and the fear of what happened 10 years ago is surfacing in some ways. After seeing all of this and how all her friends are doing their best to fight back, Kloe knows what she has to do. While the rest of the group has to go around to help stabilize a national crisis, Kloe goes and officially becomes successor to the throne. The celebration of that news is short lived, as the neighboring empire, Erebonia, is at their front door with a small division of their army. Kloe accepts her first task and goes to negotiate, and her moment there was amazing. Seeing the once timid girl talking to the general of a superpower army was such great payoff. Gotta agree with Estelle, Kloe is gonna be one hell of a queen.


    Olivier

    Spoiler:
    I explained it a little with the character part of this series, but the way Olivier is written and presented makes him so damn charming. The hard part is explaining it, as at least for me, it's not something that I can really put into words, and is someone you have to experience for yourself to truly enjoy. I'm not sure I would say his speech is refined, but he uses such flowery words and the way it comes off seems like he is reciting a poem. He is very eccentric and gets on the nerves of a lot of the characters, yet they still like him despite all the insults they may try to hurl at him. When Olivier is first introduced, he comes in playing his lute and singing a song while Estelle's group is arguing with a general of their nations army. His actions befuddle everyone, and the tension is quickly gone. This is one of my favorite things about Olivier, how in a series situation he can still be himself, either helping diffuse a situation, or in a dire situation add a little levity while still at times cutting to the chase. While he may have this air of being nonchalant, he is very perceptive and see's things very clearly.

    Olivier is just a blast and any moment with him is always fun, but there is an air of mystery to him, and not just how someone so lackadaisical can be so in tune with what is going on. At the end of the chapter he is introduced in, we find him communicating with someone in a cryptic manner, and you find out he is there to find Cassius Bright, one of the few S rank bracers with the title divine blade, and is a pretty big deal. Why he wants to meet Estelle's dad stays a mystery into the second game, not really being touched upon or even brought up. When the coup is going on, we see Olivier meet up with the person he was communicating with, and in Olivier fashion can't help but greet him in a strange fashion until getting to the point. His confidant says that now would be the time to leave, but Olivier wishes to watch the events unfold, not as a spectator, but a supporting cast. He end up helping in a number of ways to quell the coup, and after that enjoys some time at the castle.

    For most of the second game, Olivier is just what you expect him to be. He joins the group and helps track down people that are threatening to bring chaos to Liberl. He has that same presence that I know and love, but also shows that serious side that shows he is reliable and wants to support Estelle and the others. However, things take an interesting turn when after Josh returns to the party, Olivier has to take his leave back to Erebonia, as he has been dawdling much longer than he should've. As the group leaves for their next mission, Olivier meets up with his compatriot again, and as he watched the group fly off, he mutters how next time they will meet, it will be as enemies. Of course this was on my mind for a long time, and I was expecting this to be something that happened in the 3rd game. However, when Erebonia arrived at the door of Liberl, I knew he wasn't far behind. Instead of his usual entrance, something much more unexpected occurred.

    As Kloe was dominating the conversation with the general, someone calls her out, not convinced of her argument. Out comes a man that looks very similar to Olivier, but his hair is a little different and is wearing a completely different outfit. This man who went by Olivier is Olivert Reise Arnor, Prince of the Erebonia Empire! I was flabbergasted by the turn of the events, and was engrossed in what was happening as Olivier was turning the arguments against Kloe and things were looking desperate. As I was pondering what was going to happen, we got an answer to why Olivier wanted to meet Cassius. Things change when Cassius comes in with a surprise to convince the Erebonia army to hold off for the time being. To make a long story short, there's a man in Erebonia named Giliath Osborne, who has been expanding the empire and was acting suspiciously by creating obsolete tanks. Olivier was convinced this man was working for the group everyone was going against, and set a plan to keep Erebonia from trying to invade. It all worked and with that Estelle and others could go on to clean up the mess while not worrying about an invasion.

    There's a lot to unpack and dissect with this one scene, but this part made Olivier go from very likable to holy crap this guy is fucking amazing. This also showed that he would be more than a cameo in the Cold Steel games, and I was greatly looking forward to see his role in it. Won't spoil that game, but any scene he's in made it instantly better.


    Olivier by all means would be my favorite character, but despite everything about him, Estelle is still number one.

    Spoiler:
    Okay, first thing is to talk about the elephant in the room. One thing that has ruined the game in a way for people is Estelle's relationship with Josh. While Josh comes in as a stranger in the beginning of the game, he takes on the family's last name and becomes a family member, and we get the idea of a brother sister relationship. However, by the end of the second game, Estelle and Josh are a couple, and this does not sit well with some, and a number of emotional scenes are icky to some because of the incestuous nature of the relationship. I'm not going to defend this as it's up to the individual about how they feel. As for me, I'm fine with it and I only had a problem at first more so because it took me a long time and not until playing the second game to really like and understand Josh's character. So this aspect does not impact my enjoy ability of the character or story.

    Estelle is much easier to explain than Olivier. She is bright and bubbly, and very energetic, but never in an overbearing way. She is able to bring levity to the story, especially at times with the darker moments of the series. She is a bundle of optimism where no matter how much she gets pushed back, she will trudge along. She does experience doubt and has moments of weakness, but with the right push she is back on her feet doing what she does best. As a girl who lived her life in a small town her whole life, she's a great way to experience learning new things at the same time she does. By the end of the game, we've learned just as much as she has. At the end, she was a fun character who I knew could be counted on when things got rough, but also knew that while she learned a lot about the world and herself, there were improvements.

    Estelle doesn't have any huge aspirations, her only goal is to become a great bracer and help others out. A simple goal, but it does allow for growth over time, as by the end of the first game, she knows her strengths and weaknesses, and in the second game learns to overcome some of that. She showed signs of being able to spot things, but she was always gung ho and acted without much thought. She would have to rely on Josh or others to do the thinking. While she didn't become an expert strategist or become someone who could think 5 moves ahead, she did learn to read her surrounding and come up with some solutions. This all came to a head when she had to escape her imprisonment, tricking the guards and getting herself out of a sticky situation.

    The big thing that makes me love Estelle so much is her ability to connect on a personal level and help them out. There are a number of people she connects with, and with some of them (such as Kloe), she can sense when they are in pain or struggling over something. Estelle is not a master with words, but when her friend is hurting, she has a way to communicate and comfort people. There's one character in the second game who Estelle tries over many attempts to sway her to reconsider what she is doing, and successfully cuts deep into what the character is feeling. In a story where so many characters have a pessimistic view, Estelle's optimism and kindness really shine. She may not have a big development like Kloe or have a huge goal like Oliver, but damn if she isn't a bundle of joy and I can't help but cheer her on the entire way.


    Well that's it for now. I hope someone found enjoyment out of my thoughts, and sorry if it didn't come out clearly enough. Trying to compress my thoughts and not spoil things made it harder than I thought. Perhaps in the future I will talk more about this game, or the Cold Steel games, but for now I will finish my thoughts with this post. Next, I will be doing posts just discussing my thoughts on other games I played this year that I liked, and will end with the games that have stuck with me most.

  13. #73

    Default Re: The Franky Tank's Ramblings

    It's been a pretty good year for Video Games for me personally. The last bunch of years I would buy a few select new games, while the rest of the time I would buy older games that had gone far down in price. This year, I bought at least a dozen games on launch. So to honor this year, I will briefly talk about a bunch of those games, whether new or old. I'm not going to rank all of them in order, but will save my top picks for the end. The rest will be in no particular order.

    Zelda: Breath of the Wild

    This was a game I had a lot of preconceptions about that didn't make me excited about it before release, and took me a few hours into the game before I cleared my head and sat down to enjoy what the game was. I still have a number of problems with the game, mainly what I like about Zelda games (dungeons, bosses, finding new items for puzzles) was severely lacking, and the story felt too barebones with the story sections being really bare bones. Despite all that, I still have a soft spot for the game, and may actually get it again when I get a Switch down the road. Not a huge fan of open world games, but the way the exploration was done I found enjoyable. In most other open world games, I want to get to the main content after a few hours, but this one had me hooked on messing around and exploring. If they can build off of this and fix its short comings, the next one will be really great.

    A Hat in Time

    After playing DK64 and Mario 64 again earlier this year, I wanted a 3D platformer/collectathon that controlled well, and A Hat in Time controls extremely well. The game is short where I got all the time pieces around 10 to 12 hours, but enjoyed every minute I played. There's a lot of charm to the game, and while not a cohesive vision, each area has it's own unique parts that make it memorable. Murder on the Owl Express and Queen Vanessa's Manor both stand out from the rest with their tone and presentation, and to me are worth the price of admission alone even if really short. I look forward to the future areas that will be released for free.

    Dark Souls

    I preferred the faster pace of Bloodborne, which I played last year, but Dark Souls was overall an enjoyable experience. I did need a guide to figure out how to get to a few areas, but each one offered some nice challenges that when I overcame them was always a great feeling. That said, like Bloodborne, I felt the idea of it being extremely hard and that you are gonna die constantly to be greatly exaggerated. Then there was Blight Town, where I had no idea why it was considered the bane of everyone's existence. Yeah, the threat of being poisoned constantly sucks, but I had plenty of heal items that it wasn't a problem. In the end, lots of great boss designs that kept me going.

    Shantae (Pirates Curse, Risky's Revenge, and Half Genie Hero)

    I've been wanting to get around to this series, and with so many long games to play, this was an appropriate time to play it. The music along with the scenery it accompanied worked quite well, and I love seeing the characters move to the music, giving the game even more charm. Loved the humor and writing, and there was always moments where what happened wasn't something I expected (filling a spring with the drool of a large creature). Gameplay was fun and while I liked the transformation mechanic, I found myself enjoying the style of Pirate's Curse more with the various pirate items spicing up the game play. Still, a great series and I need to get the other campaigns for Half Genie Hero.

    Hollow Knight

    I only just recently played and beat this one, but it really scratched the Metroidvania itch. The art style is beautiful, the music is at times downright chilling, and add in the smooth gameplay and the designs of enemies and areas, it's just an all around awesome game. I like some of the challenges provided using various abilities you gain over the game, and how after a certain point it feels like most of the world opens up for you to explore. I do like the punishment system, where there was a few times I was worried I would not be able to collect my stuff again after a death.

    Zwei: The Illvard Insurrection

    A game I only learned about around E3 when XSeed announced some other games it would be releasing this year outside of its Trails games. It was a dungeon crawler where the way you leveled up was by eating food. I bought the game and enjoyed it from start to finish. While the story is predictable and cheesy at times, the characters are charming and there are just some funny moments from some outrageous characters that I was just into it. Having the main protagonists doing some dancing with a giant, buff, luchador was something I loved watching for the few times it happened.

    Resident Evil VII

    Another game I went in not entirely sold on. Capcom had burnt me out with so many missteps in the franchise, that this was their last chance to show they could do something with this series. Well I played the game and platinumed the main game and even got the DLC, and if they build off of this, I look forward to the future of the franchise. While a much more compact game, the atmosphere was great and there was always a sense that anything could be around the corner. Jumpscares were minimal and more often than not I expected something to happen, but that helped build up the tension. The Margaret fight is still the one I had the most trouble with in my normal and hard playthroughs, and when I came out victorious I felt great. I find myself coming back to this game every once in a while just to enjoy the setting and characters.

    Bronze Medal Award: Ys VIII Lacrimossa of Dana

    While not a favorite series, I've been a fan of the Ys series for a number of years now. It always offered solid gameplay, some good characters and story, and most of all, a soundtrack to rock out to. This game had a much bigger story, and it was pretty good overall with some interesting concepts that worked in some ways, but fell flat in other ways. The 3 party system played very smoothly in this game, and the Isle of Siren was a beautiful place to explore with great music accompanying it. Sunshine Coastline is definitely a great one to listen to as I ran along the coast fighting monsters and looking for people. Overall, a 50 hour experience that didn't lose its steam.

    Silver Medal Award: Persona 5

    This game I had been looking forward to ever since it was teased, and I was fully expecting it to be my favorite game of the year. This game oozes style from top to bottom, from the menu screens, the areas you explore, the characters, to the battle menu. Last Surprise is a song that will forever be stuck in my head. The story surrounding the Phantom Thieves worked great, and the overall story flowed extremely well. When the final showdown happened I was pumped and had a grin across my face, despite an hour long fight that had me almost die multiple times. When the credits rolled, I was sad that it was over. Over 90 hours of gameplay, and I craved more. I look forward to the next SMT/Persona game.

    Gold Medal Award: Trails in the Sky 3rd

    I already went into great detail about this game in my other post. I was convinced this would be a solid second place, but my attachment to characters from the prior two games, and all the plot threads from the CS which some connected to this one, along with some really great story and character moments, the bias I had took over and I found myself in love with this game. As a stand alone, it definitely lacks compared to Persona 5, but all things considered, it was an amazing way to wrap up a trilogy that was a journey for me.

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