I’ve been playing the PC version of Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, and I have a few things to say about what I’ve played so far. The game is, as the title suggests, a direct follow-up to FFIV, set fourteen years later. Although the FF games were originally intended to each take place on separate worlds, there had already been direct sequels to FFVII, X, and XII; and an anime taking place in the world of FFV. The game is episodic, with various stories focusing on different characters, most of them fairly short so far. The main complaint I’ve seen about the game is that many of the locations visited are pretty much exactly the same as in the original FFIV, which makes sense from a continuity point of view, but means you’re doing a lot of the same things over again. For that matter, the plot is pretty repetitive as well, once again involving Baron stealing the world’s crystals. Even the characters note how everything is repeating itself. On the other hand, I like how the various chapters intertwine, sometimes filling in gaps. There’s also a recurring element of passing the torch: Cecil‘s son Ceodore goes on a quest to become a knight, Yang’s daughter Ursula wants to follow in his footsteps, and Edge is training four new ninjas.
In Rydia’s chapter, both Luca and the Calcabrina are playable.
Different mechanics from FFIV include a moon phase system that strengthens some battle commands and weakens others, and combination attacks for characters with a history of working together. While early versions of the game had graphics in the original sixteen-bit style, the PC one uses 3D sprites reminiscent of the DS remake of FFIV.
In terms of difficulty, most of it has been fairly easy so far, but with occasional surprisingly difficult battles. I feel like it kind of builds up your confidence, then dashes it by suddenly throwing a bigger challenge at you. I’ve been unable to get through the fight between Ursula and Kain, but every website I’ve consulted says it’s easy, so I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. At least the episode system means I can switch to a different story until I’m ready to tackle that again. The characters have vastly different beginning statistics, most of the heroes of the first game still being pretty strong, while newcomers can take a while to stop dying at the drop of a hat. Fortunately, levels increase pretty rapidly, a definite change from Dragon Quest where a level increase is a major event. And if you die, there’s a continue function sort of like the one in Mystic Quest, where you can go back to shortly before the fatal battle. It’s been enjoyable enough so far despite its flaws, but we’ll see what happens later on.
Posted in Final Fantasy, Video Games
Tagged calcabrina, cecil harvey, ceodore harvey, edward geraldine, final fantasy iv, final fantasy iv: the after years, kain highwind, princess luca, rydia of mist, ursula of fabul, yang fang leiden
The Lego Batman Movie – Lego has become a significant franchise apart from their actual plastic building bricks, and sometimes it really seems to complicate things. I mean, Lego Star Wars? Just pick one or the other! I’ve heard these games are good, though, so I probably shouldn’t judge. And I enjoyed The Lego Movie, which included appearances from several licensed characters, but none as prominently as Batman. He’s played as an affectionate parody, exaggerating the traits we all know and love about the Caped Crusader and mixing in a childish stubbornness and a fondness for rapping about himself. This film expands upon this characterization by making him the central focus, and making a lot of inside jokes and references along the way. Not only do the most famous Batman villains appear, but so do some much more obscure ones.
And various comments suggest that every past iteration of Batman is at least sort of canonical, even though they frequently contradict each other and would mean he and Robin had already teamed up several times. The Joker references his plans from both the 1989 Tim Burton film and The Dark Knight, and other lines riff on Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad. Not only do little-known members of the rogues’ gallery appear, however, but villains from other franchises, the explanation being that they had been exiled to the Phantom Zone and the Joker helps them escape.
How can you turn down Batman battling Voldemort, Sauron, the Wicked Witch of the West, Godzilla, and King Kong?
It’s kind of like a fanfic that was theatrically released. I wonder why anyone felt the need to exile Kong to a prison dimension when he’s just a wild animal who was mistreated, not actually evil. Same basic deal with the shark and the dinosaurs, but I realize criticizing a Lego superhero film for going with what’s cool and funny over what really makes sense is pretty pointless. Also, General Zod never appeared, despite Superman specifically saying that he’d exiled him to the Phantom Zone. It’s interesting that, even though Ralph Fiennes voiced Alfred, he didn’t reprise his role as Voldemort. Two-Face was Billy Dee Williams, who played Harvey Dent in the 1989 movie but never got to be his alter-ego. And Bane was a straight-up parody of his voice in The Dark Knight Rises. The Lego aspect was used more in the animation than in the plot, at least up until the characters stacked themselves on top of each other to pull Gotham City back together. While largely a spoof, Batman did have a genuine character arc with his fear of losing loved ones. I’ve seen it pointed out before how he’s generally presented as a loner, yet has a fairly large support network. Lots of heroes have had sidekicks, but Robin is probably the most recognizable. This movie explains that, at least to an extent.
Posted in Cartoons, Harry Potter, Humor, Monsters, Toys, VoVat Goes to the Movies
Tagged alfred pennyworth, bane, batman, dc comics, godzilla, gotham city, joker, king kong, lego, phantom zone, ralph fiennes, robin, sauron, superman, the dark knight, the dark knight rises, the lego batman movie, tim burton, two-face, voldemort, wicked witch of the west
Last week, I finished reading the last book in Patricia Wrightson’s Song of Wirrun trilogy based on Australian mythology, which taught me about a few spirit beings from aboriginal folklore. One of them was the Mimi, a kind of spirit said to be so thin and frail that they could be blown away or broken apart by the wind. Because of this, they usually dwell inside or between rocks.
They apparently had more human forms at some time in the past, but lost them when the land was settled by modern humans around 60,000 years ago. Their job is to clean up after storms, and they are also skilled hunters and painters. They will hunt emus and kangaroos, but apparently also will tame the latter.
Picture by Robin Nganjmira
While they presumably eat meat, they are also quite fond of yams. Long ago, they taught humans how to hunt, make fire, and paint; and they are popular subjects in art, particularly in Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory.
Mimis are not always beneficent to humans, however, especially humans who intrude on their territory or bother them. They’ve been known to play tricks or physically lash out, and even to trap humans in their caves and/or eat them.
It’s a pretty typical aspect of fairy and spirit lore that such beings aren’t really good or evil, but rather amoral and capricious, helping or hurting as they see fit at the time. I haven’t been able to find many particular stories about them, aside from this one about a father rescuing his son from their world. So many pages I found through Google just cut and pasted the same information, something I learned not to do in elementary school. Another significant creature in Wrightson’s series was the Yunggamurra, described as a siren-like river spirit that lured men to the water to drown. One of them is exiled from her sisters and becomes Wirrun’s wife. I can’t find anything from searching this term other than references to the trilogy itself, so I have to wonder if it’s usually known by some other name. I have found some mentions of river spirits who drown people in Australian lore; they seem to be pretty ubiquitous in world mythology. I also found this musical adaptation of Wrightson’s work by Betty Beath, with vocals by Laura King and piano by Jonathan Wilson.
Posted in Art, Australian, Music, Mythology
Tagged arnhem land, betty beath, jonathan wilson, laura king, mimi, patricia wrightson, sirens, song of wirrun, spirits, yunggmurra
Okay, I guess I have to write a review of Good Burger. Beth put it on our Netflix queue years ago, presumably out of morbid curiosity. We kept putting off getting it, but we finally watched it last night. It was actually released the summer I worked at the movie theater, so I could have seen it for free, but I didn’t. I do remember walking the theater during the scene when all the burgers were exploding. The movie was actually an extension of a sketch from Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell’s Nickelodeon show All That, which neither of us watched. Kenan wasn’t in these particular sketches, but he was worked into the film as a kid who gets a summer job at Good Burger to pay off the money he owes his teacher (played by Sinbad with an afro) for crashing into his car while driving without a license. There’s a recurring gag of Sinbad’s property being wrecked, even though the character doesn’t do anything to deserve it. Most of the humor is based on really dumb plays on words or often gross slapstick. To give you an example, when Kel is told his watch his butt…well, you can probably figure out what happens. He also climbs inside the milkshake machine at one point, and there are apparently no consequences for this, as health inspectors don’t exist in this world. The conflict, such as it is, involves a bigger burger place opening up across the street, with a fascist-seeming manager who will stop at nothing to put Good Burger out of business. They also use an illegal food additive to make their meat patties bigger. It turns out Kel can make a really good sauce for which we never find out all the ingredients, and the Mondo Burger manager unsuccessfully tries to get the recipe from him. When he fails, he instead locks up Kenan and Kel in a mental institution. I’m not sure why asylums in movies always seem to lock people up with no actual evidence. I mean, Kel’s character clearly IS mentally ill, but there’s no psychiatric exam or anything. I guess psychiatrists went the way of health inspectors. Linda Cardellini, who played Lindsay on Freaks and Geeks and Hawkeye’s wife in Avengers: Age of Ultron, appears as a mental patient who identifies herself as a psychopath, although if anything she’s likely schizophrenic. Get your psychological terms right, low-quality children’s movie! Abe Vigoda co-stars as a cranky old man who works at Good Burger, and Shaq makes a cameo appearance. Yeah, it’s bad, but maybe a kid would actually be entertained by it? I don’t know. I’d say it was a nothing burger, but apparently that means it would have colluded with Russia. Kenan has gone on to be a regular on Saturday Night Live, and I was curious as to what Kel is doing now. Looks like he still works for Nickelodeon.
Posted in Food, Humor, VoVat Goes to the Movies
Tagged abe vigoda, all that, good burger, kel mitchell, kenan and kel, kenan thompson, linda cardellini, nickelodeon, shaquille o'neal, sinbad