Wednesday, January 6, 2010

How to kill an NPC.

JRPG's are never really subtle. There and good guys and there are bad guys, and all of them could pose for women in a pinch. Sometimes the bad guy pretends to be a good guy for a while, but that never lasts past the half way point and the audience in intentionally let in on it just in case they are an idiot. To make this transition, sometimes they will kill someone important to the player, other times they will kill someone just to be a bastard, but removing an NPC by force is a good way to cement another NPC as someone the player wants to kill. It helps if it comes as a surprise, the classic example being Sephiroth killing Aeris. She was in the party for quite a while, Cloud had a rather obvious crush on her (being closer to anatomically correct than anyone else around), and it was an honest suprise when it happened. Other good examples are Kaim's wife in Lost Odyssey and damn near everyone in Digital Devil Saga 2 (and dog meat in Fallout 3, those jerks). They worked because the player cared about the loss, either because it was a detriment to the party of because of carefully manipulated emotional attachment.

Enter MagnaCarta 2. It tries really hard to trot out this cliche as well as it has pulled off all the other ones, but it comes off as uninteresting and predictable. The person who dies was never in the party, had betrayed Juto at one point, and was shown to be sickly when she reverted back to the good guys. On top of that instead of the major villain killing her she becomes another random boss encounter. The party seemed broken up about it, but I didn't care, she was not a character I had any emotional investment in. There aren't any that I care about at all, for that matter, which for a linear story based RPG is not good. None of the characters have developed, including Juto who has found and lost him memory at least twice, gaining all white hair and a rather embarrassing outfit for his trouble. You would think nearly dying would build some character; the only change for Juto is who is master is, which could create some interesting complications that I guarantee the game will skip because it just doesn't have the depth to deal with them.

I am really hoping to finish MagnaCarta 2 up by the weekend, as I am going to be out of town (and away from by basement and TV) for a few days next week. Dragging the 360 along is an option, of course, but hotel TV's are notorious for not having any inputs you can use and checking the fragile thing in with my luggage seems like a really bad idea. Who knows what the machine would look like through an x-ray inspection, I'd hate to be made a (false) example of.

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