Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What happened matters?

Tales of Graces f has done the impossible. After around a week layoff I have gone back to it and am playing through the optional epilogue. This would be new for any game not in the Elder Scrolls series, but for a JRPG it is unheard of. Yes, there have been a few additions to the already complicated combat system that require thought and practice but that is not at all what is going to keep be coming back for another ten or so hours. The game actually gives the player the benefit of the doubt: it assumes that you remember what just happened at the end of the main game and begins to explore the consequences.

Let me say that again: this linear game has decided that the heroes' actions have effects past the end credits and is going to expand upon them. Asbel absorbed the big bad guy at the end of the main game instead of killing him. Surprise, he isn't thrilled with being stuck inside of a 19 year old wishy washy bastard and is beginning to make noise about getting out again. Then there is the immortal 13 year old who comes to the realization that she is going to see everyone she cares about die and there is nothing she can do about it. King Richard is dealing with all the destruction he caused while possessed. Cheria is wondering if she will ever get Asbel's attention and if he is gay or just oblivious.

I may have made that last part up.

My point is that the new content is not just more. It is not just another quest or another area, it is actually an epilogue exploring what happened after the main story ended. Most of the time we have to wait for a whole new game to get this, and even then (I am looking at your Final Fantasy XIII-2) they don't always make any sense. Tales of Graces f doesn't have the deepest characters. On the contrary, they fit into the JRPG tropes a little too comfortably, but getting to see the character's whole arc, from childhood to adolescence to the unfortunately responsibilities of adulthood, is worth sticking around for.

Best of all, it was free. A bonus to those who played the game on the PS3 at a reasonable resolution on a controller instead of a motion sensing rectangle with buttons.


Speaking of bad controllers, Nintendo is announcing the release date of the WiiU in early September. My crystal ball says the first week in December, $300. Unless there is something absolutely stunning coming out at launch it will not even be considered for purchase. If some time between now and then I begin to grow weak please remind me that I did not own a Wii and that almost everything worth playing came out on something else. As soon as Xenoblade Chronicles comes out for a real system I will have nothing to be jealous of.

...I am so, so disappointed.

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