Monday, May 14, 2018

Bobby McFerrin was right

I have gone on record on more than one occasion that there are too many happy endings. Be it videogames, movies, television shows, everything wrapped up nice and tight at the end of it all is rarely as effective as there having been some sacrifice, some victim of hubris, some noble loss to taint the heroes walking off into the sunset. I honestly believe that Wall-E would have been a better movie had Wall-E not gotten his memory back, and if that makes me a terrible person than it needs to get in line behind all of the other things that make me a terrible person.

But...

Sometimes a saccharine, overtly optimistic cockle warming ending is exactly the right call. That is what Ni No Kuni 2 brings to the table. The good guys get a happy ending. The bad guy has his actions explained and forgiven and he gets a happy ending. The bizarrely out of place nuclear holocaust cold opening is reversed so our world gets a happy ending. By the time the game is done there is no more war in either world as every kingdom has been unified under a single banner.

And it worked. All of the annoyances fell away and I bought it. Full stop. I was happy for the funny looking king with cat ears. His unlikely triumph was my unlikely triumph. It did not matter that my problems with the kingdom building were never really fixed, just diluted. Similarly it did not matter that the combat tweaker, a brilliant mechanic that allowed the player to choose combat strengths and weaknesses, was never used as well as it should have been. Combat should have forced me into that menu to retool things, think the gambit system from everyone's favorite Final Fantasy. Instead I forgot that it was there.

Ni Nu Kuni 2 ended well. It may have hobbled on the run up but after hitting the vault is stuck the fucking landing like you wouldn't believe. Arms ups. Beaming. At then of 40ish hours I was satisfied.

...

'That's life. People do what they can - try to live as best as they can... And then the tide of history comes and sweeps them all away.'

 -Roland, Ni No Kuni 2

...

I am not going to attempt a full on 'review' of this game. My subconscious need for a positive resolution to something, anything, has tainted any sense of objectivity.  My affection for this game is as much a product of the game itself as it is a product of the real world falling apart around us. For a few moments I stopped worrying about climate change, war in the middle east, race relations and that fop in the oval office with a dead dog for a hairdo, and instead allowed myself to enjoy everything turning out alright. It may have been fantasy but the feeling was real. And fleeting.

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