Sunday, 5 January 2014

Tales of Symphonia, [almost] level one

Something's happening. That looks like Paris.

It seems I'm about to play an anime game. There's a tree. A guy with a sword. A fairy in fire. Rock giants  where's Thor?  and a whole lot of giant eyeballs.

And spiky hair.

A field. It reminds me of the opening of A Goofy Movie when Roxanne is calling for Max in his dream and he has to run across the field. I don't think that's going to be the same thing for this video game. I mean, it should, but I'm not playing A Goofy Movie: The Video Game.

I'm playing Tales of Symphonia, a RPG game that puts an emphasis on story with anime graphics.

There's a feather falling into a forest pond and now we start... Wish me luck, world.

Thankfully, because my friend has already played this game, my current experience level is 10x the starting level. Which means I can do things that I wouldn't normally be able to do. I've got a leg-up. Is that gamer terminology? Probably not. Is it sports related? Who knows.

Note to self: look up where "leg-up" comes from.

Google tells me "leg up" is to give "assistance in mounting a horse or high object."

It's from horseback riding! Of course! (Is that a sport? ... Note to self: look up if horseback riding is technically a sport.)

Ooooh! Someone's narrating to me. He sounds handsome. Or old. Or boring. No, he sounds kind of boring. But I like that I don't have to read. Gives me a break from when I have to read other things, you know like magazines or take-out menus.

A tower that reaches to the heavens? So Babel was completed in this world? Is this alt-earth or something? Perhaps a Fringe-like situation? Or maybe Once Upon a Time, with Jefferson getting mad at Emma for being so arrogant as to think their world is the only one.

YESSSSSS! My name is Lloyd! I love the name Lloyd. It's so unassuming and ordinary and hilarious. It's like having a punchline for a name.

(Lloyd Dobler from Say Anything.)

"How do you manage to sleep standing?" the professor asks me.

Turns out I'm a narcoleptic character.

And I'm wearing a dazzling red coat. Not to be confused with a redcoat.

If I'm part of this class, why exactly am I standing sleeping in the back holding buckets of water? If I'm the class dunce, then do the proper thing and throw a cap on my head and put me in the corner, but turning me into the water boy when everyone knows I have a sleeping problem? It seems odd. What if I drown in the well? Foolish Professor Raine!

"Settle down," the professor says to me, the sleeping water boy who said "What is that?" and the Chosen One who turned her head toward the window. Seems like a fairly strict classroom environment. No emotions allowed! Silence only! All explained in a very soft tone of voice!

So the regeneration of the world is upon us and these people are taking a very British approach to all of it. Keep calm and carry on with your studies in your classrooms  even the Chosen One, Colette. There's no need to make a big deal or change voice intonations to  show enthusiasm.

Even when I was in school and there was an earthquake, students made a big deal out of it. And this is the regeneration of the world. Seems like they'd at least get a half day.

The one student in the class tells me we should leave everything to the professor and wait here.

"I have a feeling I'm not supposed to leave everything to the professor and wait here," I say out loud.

"Ah, so you learned our lesson from Zelda, eh?" my friend tells me. And it seems I have. Look at that! Personal growth!

This Chosen One is easy to persuade.

Lloyd: "Colette, you're coming too, right?"

Colette: "...Huh? Um, okay."

Pssh. What a pushover.

Colette: "Are you curious about it?"

Lloyd: "Of course!"

Colette: "Okay, then I'll be curious about it, too."

What is wrong with her?

"Colette and Genis joined the party." Woooot! It's gonna be a party now! Party hats all 'round! Oh wait, that would severely mess up the video game hair. No party hats, guys! Sorry!

It seems this game has borrowed the Italian Job definition of "fine": freaked out, insecure, neurotic and emotional.

I'm now learning how to battle things that randomly come up to me in a field and most of the things look a lot like the misunderstood dragon in How to Train Your Dragon but then in battle I'm up against a wolf, an eagle and a rabbit. These are tricky shape-shifting dragons, but more importantly I'm not sweating and freaking out and pressing all kinds of buttons. I know which button to press and I press it. And I move while pressing it. I'm so impressed with myself.

Oh, except that apparently I'm not pressing the right buttons because these little battles are slowly killing me. Whoops.

Maybe I should learn how to use my shield.

As we wait to head into the temple, Genis and I feel the need to take the time to tell Colette to smarten up and act a little more like a Chosen One and a little less like an idiot.

In so many words.

The pastor floats down the stairs as if he's fake-walking on an escalator and then drops in front of us.

I feel like this story is about to get a touch more interesting.

I'm given the choice to accompany Colette into the temple or to wait for her outside, and I feel like if anything is going to happen, I should probably accompany her and be a hero or whatever.

It's exhausting.

I'd much rather go home and put my feet up.

I would probably be a terrible hero. I fear I'd be the Ed rather than the Shaun of the story.

"I get nervous when Lloyd's not around," Colette says. Aww she's in love! Or co-dependent. Or I'm choosing the right options to make this girl fall in love with me. Heroism is an attractive quality.

Colette just fell into what looks like a giant Once Upon a Time Pandora's box. She just fell, standing there.

After throwing some boxes through the holes in the ground in the wrong spots and then continuing to battle Mr. Rock by jumping into his arms (again, damaging myself as I seem wont to do), we eventually get some Sorcerer's ring and make it through the temple and now an angel Remiel is telling us how he's going to help Colette get to the heavens as the seventh Chosen or something.

I care less and less about this story as I play it.

"From this moment, Colette becomes the Chosen of Regeneration."

And now I just want to watch Doctor Who.

It also seems as though Colette may be going through a small identity crisis since she just found out the guy who looks to be about twelve in the village isn't her father  it's this floating angel dude with a hat that could have been borrowed from the costume department of Frozen.

Well, maybe she's okay. Colette: "I'm all right. I was just a little surprised, that's all."

Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my GOSH! What is Professor Raine doing to that boy and why is the music so peppy? They're getting spanked? Is this ... is this happening?

Professor Raine: "...You're next, Lloyd. Are you ready?"

... I'm so sorry, Lloyd. I tried to make you run. I didn't think you'd be kicked in the face by your teacher!


What the sorcerer's ring is going on?

Good news, though. The regeneration of the world is cause enough for a half-day!

And once everyone gets back to the village, Lloyd gets to endure the awkwardness of (a) being told by Kratos that he'll just get in the way and he's an insolent, annoying child and (b) that he forgot about Colette's birthday and the necklace he was going to make her. Thankfully she's dumb enough to believe his lie that it's almost done.

Stupid girl.

Also, this "dog" is annoying. It just whines over and over and over again. And why does it have ears like some kind of desert animal with a dip-dyed tail?

Shut up, Noishe!

A Desian tells Marble, the old woman, "Hey, old hag! What the hell you doin' over there?" And I'm suddenly scandalized by the language and then my friend tells me it's rated T. T for inappropriate language and subject material that may not be appropriate for younger audiences  like human ranches.

And to see if Marble's okay after the Desians come and get her, I run with Genis to run up to higher ground and see what's happening.

The old woman is being whipped.

I think I'm too young for this subject material.

That awkward moment you find out how your mother died because your dwarf father yelled it at you and then swung to punch you in the face and when you run out of your house, you see Colette, Genis, Professor Raine and Kratos all standing there, having overheard everything that just happened.

I love that people here think in ellipses and grumble like Charlie Brown characters. I can only hope that if humans evolve to have speech bubbles above their heads, this is how we would communicate.

And after a fight against a boss that looked like a giant asparagus creature that turned out to be old lady Marble in a town burned down by Desians, I was banished and saved the game.

Interesting almost-first level.

Interesting and do-able.

And also terrifying.

I mean, human ranches? And old women who are whipped and then turned into asparagus creatures because of the exspheres that aren't put on their hands properly? And banishment and burned villages and ... and ... yet I'm intrigued and wouldn't mind continuing one day.

Or not.

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