Visual Novel Theatre-Fantasia: Realm of Thanos

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Fantasia: Realm of Thanos.  Here’s a visual novel that owns some really odd online real estate.  Most of the visual novel market, as least as far as I’ve seen, doesn’t pay much mind to it, but on certain segments, certain forums?  People are absolutely fanatical for it.  There’s something that draws people there.  What is it, exactly?  Is it that it really emphasizes its anime-style bad boys, and that’s just what all these people are into?  Is it that the main character’s situation, being a stranger in a world completely foreign to them, strongly resonates with today’s disaffected youth?  Does being pushed to enter the world of romance and finding all your options to be total jerks and losers feel so familiar to so many people?  In our special, exploratory edition of Visual Novel Theatre, I pack my best shorts, make myself a sandwich, and head deep into the bushes of Fantasia to find out.

In Fantasia: Realm of Thanos, you’re behind the wheel of Hammercles Von Chunkmeier, or whatever weak name you decided to give your main character instead, a 15 year old girl whose parents died in a plane crash and who apparently has literally no one else involved in her life at all.   So, you’re going through your hard knock life, doing whatever things it is that 15 year old girls do, when all of a sudden some random woman shows up, and tells you that there’s another world out there and it’s going to be destroyed unless you go out and get some loving from a guy whose life sucks as much as yours does.  Of course, you agree to that right away, because this wouldn’t be much of a story without it.  So off you’re whisked to the land of Fantasia, to go all big pimpin with four messed up mammajammas in the hopes that one of them will love you enough to produce a magic key that will save the land from the invading realm of Thanos somehow.  I don’t even know.  I think the author lost a little steam there.  Anyways, that’s the gist of it.  New world, gotta save it by getting some guy with a screwed up life to love you.

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Fantasia ROT is a homegrown effort by AzureXTwilight, and it’s obvious the author put a lot of thought into it.  Well, into certain parts of it at least.  There’s fifteen endings, plenty of branching paths, and a lot of character intertwining.  I do want to lead with this.  Whatever I may say about the rest of the visual novel, that’s something that always stands.  It feels like I’ve been given a little peek into an imaginary world that the author’s been spending a lot of time in, and that’s a really special thing.  It reminds me a lot of all my own imaginary worlds, stories, and people that just never made it out of my head.  That’s something that’s just so great out of all these amateur and indie releases we’re seeing now in the information age, that is lets people share these experiences that would normally be locked away, so valuable to one person yet invisible to all else, and that is truly on great display here.

That said, I didn’t like it.

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Everyone’s Dead in Dark Souls

Last time on Decently Drifting Dark Souls, we stabbed a skeleton in the dick!  Yeah, yeah, I know, progress through the game, getting ever closer to saving the world, all that stuff that’s kind of important too, but I don’t know that there’s anything else we got that’s ever going to beat stabbing a skeleton in the dick.  If you ever have the chance to try that, I would highly recommend it.

Anyways, we kicked some bony butt, flipped some switches, ran across a bridge, then passed through a fog gate.  That’s where we left off last time.

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The gate opens us into a big ol’ dark catacomb.  Aside from the candles keeping the wall corpses warm, I can’t see very far ahead of me.  I hug the wall to my right, then start walking along.

Before long, I spot an opening in the wall.  An arrow flies out of it and strikes me in the shoulder, to make sure I noticed.  Now, the fact that there’s something in there that needs killing would normally be motivation enough, but the developers of the game saw fit to sweeten the deal by highlighting that there’s treasure inside.  There’s a path leading out from here, so this is definitely a side trip, but I think I’ve earned myself a brief detour.

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I head in the door, than take a brief drop.  Immediately, I’m set upon by a few skeletons, one right behind me already swinging his sword, two more dropping arrows at me.  I block the blade, but take two arrows in the back. Obviously this isn’t a situation that can continue, so I roll out of the way.  The swordsman follows me, as does another arrow, both of which I block.  I pierce through the skeleton before me twice, taking another arrow as I do, then I book it for the staircase on the other side of the room.

The staircase ends up in a long, wide, dark hallway with a statue of some sort at the end of it.  He’s hidden in the darkness at first, but partway through is a large skeleton.  I don’t even stop as he strides forth, piercing him in the ankle before leaping away from his counter attack.

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I’m unsure as to how damaging he might be, and don’t particularly want to test his power out.  He’s not strong enough to pose any threat of getting past my guard, however.  At the same time, I counterjab into him several times and barely chip away at his life.  He’s got some strong defenses, at the very least.  We might be in for a drawn-out fight.

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I don’t have the patience for that right now.  I hit him in the face with a fireball.  He topples into a pile of bones.

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There’s a casket set before a statue of a mother with her child.  Inside the casket is a corpse with the Darkmoon Séance Ring, which lets me equip more spells.  The ring’s description claims that it’s worn by followers of the deity Gwyndolin, who is the last remaining deity in Anor Londo.  Yet, I had met Gwynevere in Anor Londo earlier.  That doesn’t match up…

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The Character Lackground

I intended to be diving back into this, not that my life is finally getting settled.  I was going to start emerging from my house every once a while, begin training for the eventual ultimate battle between good and evil again, then maybe find a nice girl or three to settle down in my old age that shall never come because I’ll have attained true immortality by them.  You know, the usual.  Point is that I had plans.  Big plans.  Like this:

PLANS

But then Fallout 4 came into my life.  And all those plans went out the window.  Fallout is one of those series I’ve got so much history with it’s impossible for me to be objective on, and Fallout 4 has been an absolute experience for me.  I treated my first time with the game like a new lover.  I enjoyed peeling away the layers slowly, took my time getting into it, and spent a good long while exploring every inch of that game.

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When I’m given the option, I like to project onto my video game characters.  Not necessarily the whole self-insertion deal, although I am sometimes prone to that because you would be too if you were as awesome as I am.  Building my own characters on top of the blank slate MCs some games provide?  I am all over that.  And Fallout has always had allowed you to do just that.  Except Brotherhood of Steel.  But let’s not talk about Brotherhood of Steel.  Anyways, I was totally prepped to do that here.  Had myself a big badass woman war hero with a complex set of morals ready to bring some tough justice to the Commonwealth.  So excited.  But then the game apparently decided that wasn’t good enough.  Instead I had to be a lawyer.

I immediately lept from my Cryopod and brought some good old pre-war violence to the commonwealth.  As a lawyer.  I have little talent for speaking but plenty for shooting.  But I’m a lawyer.  I almost immediately took command of what became one of the greatest combat forces in the Commonwealth.  The lawyer.  There’s something off there.

I love established characters.  I love being able to impress my own characters into the game. Either way, I’m good with it.  But you have to let me have one or the other.  Giving me a blank character with a few very specific background traits just ruins whatever I might have going.

Is it Next Gen yet?

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One benefit of this big life shift I’m still finding myself digging through; I’ve jumped into the deep end of the new console generation.  Aside from the 3DS and a few select releases I could pick up on last gen’s consoles, I’ve been mostly ignoring the immediate past of video games, but I’ve had to adapt to life on the second floor by replacing my old, massive CRT TV with something I could actually lift up the stairs, and now that I had a tv that could accept the signal and enough credit card rewards to get a new console for virtually free, things just lined up.  It was like God had decided that he’d been putting me through some rough times, so he’d toss me a PS4 and call it even.

For the first time in a good long while, I’ve actually been looking at the games that’ve been coming out.  Playing newly released games.  I’m in the now of videogames.  Well, at least as far as Fallout 4 reaches.  Aside from that, don’t have much of a collection.  Anyways, I’m paying attention to new releases for the first time, and I’ve not really been finding what I expected.  I’ve been through a few generation handovers in my day.  I remember, how the games are, I remember the wonder and adjustment of actually being able to do new things in your games.  Sure, every console has made better looking games, and that’s been the big selling point, but visuals only take you so far.  Where the new console generations have truly excelled is by offering the power to create new types of games, new gaming experiences.

And they’ve all had games ready within the first couple months to really highlight that.  The 32/64 bit era had Mario 64 lead the charge by making the third dimension work, and work fluidly, for the first time in a long while, followed by Final Fantasy 7 demonstrate the cinematic and storytelling potential newly available to the medium. The PlayCubeBox era had a couple of games you could point to for this, but for me, it was Pikmin, which showcased the console’s ability to compute numerous actors in a wide area, keeping the span and amount of moving parts in its RAM going in a way that was not even thought of in the last generation.  Last gen brought us both the Wii, with Rayman Raving Rabids and WarioWare: Smooth Moves bringing to light all the potential uses of the Wiimote, and the PS360, where the Xbox’s Dead Rising demonstrated the new generation’s power in being able to process and compute so many independent parts of a game in much the same way Pikmin did a generation ago.

For this generation, even after two years, I’m not sure what games we have to lean on, that truly demonstrates the new consoles’ capabilities over the old.  WiiU aside.  There’s plenty I’ve seen that takes advantage of the WiiU’s capabilities, to the point that I was rather torn as to which console to pick up.  There’s a lot of games to show the new levels of detail available with the PS4 and Xbox One, which is nothing short of impressive, but as I said, visuals only go so far in creating an experience.  I haven’t seen a lot of the new generation’s games yet, and there’s still plenty for me to consider before making any sort of judgement, but still, I find myself wondering if we truly needed a new console generation.  Visuals aside, have the new machines really expanded the tools available for developers, or could these games just as easily have ended up on last gen’s consoles?

Going Down in Dark Souls

Last time, on Diamonds, Daisies, and Dark Souls, we did nothing!  A whole lot of nothing!  I mean, we’ve had our Dark Souls breathers before, but this was spectacular in its nothingness.   We accomplished absolutely zilch in our last post.  But don’t worry.  That one was just the appetizer.  I hope you didn’t fill up, because here’s where we get to the actual meal.

And yet every time I start a post like that, I always spend the first couple paragraphs just dicking around.  Who am I to break with a good tradition?  In this case, I just bugger off to Anor Londo, and spend a good long while hanging with the giant blacksmith there.  He’s not my best friend.  I haven’t had good luck with best friends.  But he’s close.

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Specifically, meeting Sif in the past reminded me that I had his soul in my pocket.  I figured I saved his life, so he probably won’t mind this next part, and have the giant blacksmith hit his spirit with a hammer until my shield absorbs it.  That gives me the same shield Artorias granted him, to protect him from all those ghosts in the Abyss.

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Except mine’s a lot sexier, of course.  I know, because I picked up the original, worn out shield from Sif back in the past as well.  Oh, and do you remember how Elizabeth decided to keep my deeds and glory a secret, in order to keep the whole time paradox thing from happening?

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Yeah, causality can go screw.

I have armed myself with two of the exact same shield, from different points in time.  I bear the power of paradox itself.  Let’s see how good it is in a fight.

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The zombie gazes into this impossibility I have created.  One shield sure, but two of them?  Its mind tears itself apart from the very thought of it.

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The reality of my paradox resolves itself right in its face.

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None can stop the wrath of time itself, the thing that should not be!

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Because It’s There. The Allure of Challenge

I’ve been away.  But I haven’t been idle.

Because of the move, I’ve had to make do with my consoles.  That hasn’t really impacted the amount of gaming I’ve been doing or anything.  Just given me the opportunity to play some games that have been a bit farther down my backlog.  Games like Zelda 2.

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Zelda 2 is famously difficult.  Zelda 2 is not a good game.  By any means.  Even for its time, it wasn’t a good game.  Sure, it has some interesting things with the shield mechanics and defensive combat, but beyond that, it’s pretty much just a cut-rate Castlevania.    Beyond the difficulty, Zelda 2’s controls and mechanics are just poor, and often at odds with themselves.  There was never a point in playing it where I actually enjoyed the game.

I just finished the whole blasted thing.

And that’s left me wondering why.  I’ve enjoyed some hard games in my time.  The fun I’ve been having with Dark Souls is quite well documented.  I’ve got some fond, fond memories of the Ninja Gaiden series.  And yet, I’ve never enjoyed games just because they’re difficult.  They’ve always had something worthwhile underlying it.  Zelda 2 didn’t, and thus was never enjoyable to me.  But I do feel quite fulfilled at having finished it.

There’s a lot of things you can get out of a video game.  A good plot.  Immersion.  Exploration.  And, such as in this case, accomplishment.  Games don’t necessarily need to be fun to give a good experience.

And that’s where I’m at with Zelda 2.  It’s not a fun game.  But in having cleared the Great Palace, saved Hyrule, and established myself as a real hero, I have conquered a challenge that has been haunting people since before my childhood.  And that is worthwhile too.

A Dark Souls Pacifist Run

What is this?!  Three months since a Dark Souls post?!  This is an outrage!  Who’s running this place, I’m going to complain to the manager!

Oh, right.  But anyways, this won’t do.  We’ve got to get this Dark Souls bidness taken care of.  Do you have any idea how close we are?  So close!  With exclamation points!  That’s how close we are!  We have to keep the momentum up!  This Dark Souls train cannot be stopped!

It only takes detours.

And it’ll take one today.

Last time.  We kicked ass.  We kicked giant ass.  We kicked huge stupid demon monkey ass.  Which, I mean, granted, that ass kind of smeared us across town for a good long while, but still, in the end, we prevailed!  Eat that, Manus!

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And of course, with victory, comes the spoils.  I’ve rescued the damsel.

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She’s totally my girlfriend.  Have I told you guys about that?

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Right, and she’s so happy to see me, and we are going to go on the best date after this.

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She’s showering me with smooches and okay what the blazes.

The whole ordeal has left her senseless.  I use Artorias’s pendant to kick the Abyss back a bit, but it doesn’t help.  She is completely unaware of everything around her. Continue reading