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Xenogears 03: The Will to Fight

Go go Dan!Fei Fong Wong has seen troubles. A man who once fancied himself a simple artist has been forced to fight others. And, every time Fei has embraced -the power-, he and those around him have suffered. When he gained the Weltall, his home village was obliterated. When he saved his friend with that same robot, he was banished to a sandy Hell. Now, when the deposed prince and sand pirate Bartholomew Fatima asks Fei to fight for his noble cause, Fei denies his new friend. Fighting has gotten Fei nowhere, and it is clear that nonviolence is the most direct route to peace.

And then Fei returns to Weltall to fight and repel an invading force of gigantic robot knights.

And then Fei joins a fighting tournament.

And then Fei fights a man that seems to exist only to fight.

And then Fei fights a man beloved by all.

And then Fei fights a woman addicted to drugs and violence.

And then Fei fights a ghost of his past, filled with resentment for the first time Fei fought.

And then Fei fights an even murkier shadow of his past, this time fighting only for the sake of fighting.

And then Fei fights a general that is himself suffering because of Fei’s unknown past.

So Fei learned a valuable lesson about his own possible passivism: never try.

In Fei’s world, violence is the path of the divine.

Even Worse Streams presents Xenogears
Night 3

Original Stream Night: January 19, 2021
Night of The Symphony (of the Night)

Random Notes on the Stream

  • There’s a coffee machine on the Yggdrasil. Huh.
  • BEAT claims to be paying attention, but he also asks, “are the pirates robots?”
  • As the kidnapping of Margie is discussed by non-robot pirates, we acknowledge the best JRPGs just steal everything.
  • “Fei has problems, but not problems we can fix.”
  • Fanboymaster lets me know that we need to get the Xenogears archives up. This stream was on January 19, 2021, and the first official Gogglebob.com upload of the Let’s Play went up on October 12, 2022. Only 631 days! I am not ashamed!
  • Powerpoint carpetI compare Legend of Legaia to the 2020/2021 COVID response. I should write an article about that…
  • “Are you there dad? It’s me, Bart.”
  • BEAT and Goggle Bob were taken to the criminal factory for mentioning Totally Spies.
  • … Oh yeah… Nothing in the game has happened at this point. I guess some dudes invaded.
  • It was inevitable we would start discussing the finer points of Neon Genesis Evangelion during a giant robot JRPG…
  • Robot Alchemic Drive sounds completely insane/grandmacidal.
  • Ramsus and Miang are introduced floating around in a Xenosaga-esque ship.
  • As the bad guys discuss their plans, we discuss the (then) pending Biden inauguration and Homeboys in Outer Space.

  • Here’s Aveh! Time to discuss Shasta McNasty.
  • “Welcome to Fiesta Day!” It’s the Xenogears Millennial Fair!
  • Abby Denton stops by as Fei straight up gets drunk.
  • Make way for the Ponytailed Slacker.
  • “I think Kingdom Hearts is just Xenogears with a budget” – Abby Denton
  • Caliscrub enters as our heroes eat at the local Red Lobster.
  • Let’s play hide and seek! Like in Breath of Fire 3!
  • Let’s discuss the Dead Rising franchise! It’s all about the wizard staffs!
  • Don't look too closelyAll Virtual Reality games are Wii games. This is my belief. At least for now.
  • Aliens from Planet Funkass are all that. Anyway, this section took forever because I didn’t know what I was doing. It happens.
  • “Why does Dan look so old!?”
  • And, obviously, as the fighting tournament finally begins, we discuss Murphy Brown at length.
  • Somehow, talking about Big Joe leads us to Hudson Hawk.
  • “Dan was born into male pattern baldness. He was molded by it.”
  • While Bart is in the sewers aqueducts, Abby explains how the poop bunnies work in Brave Fencer Musashi. Foreshadowing for future streams!

  • Okay! Bart is making some progress in the not-sewers, and we’re discussing random twitter users who might be Nazis.
  • Bart has got some stealthin’ around to do while we talk about the many martial arts of Ranma ½.
  • Soraya Saga created Edgar Figaro, Sabin Figaro, and Bart. She definitely has a type.
  • On a personal note, I am so bad at this area, even just rewatching this sequence in an effort to make this post makes me want to fast forward…
  • Remember when we had to fight Shion in Xenosaga Episode 3? Good times.
  • Away we goI need a map for Xenogears. I need a map desperately.
  • Margie and Chu-Chu are rescued by Bart! Oh boy!
  • And Bart dies! It was immediately after a save point, so it wasn’t a big deal, but Bart absolutely was not prepared for Ramsus.
  • So I got frustrated and cheated/taught my characters all their death blows. Hooray?
  • While encountering Elly again, Abby performed her rhyming shmyming routine on the stream for the first time. To my knowledge, she has escaped justice, and has suffered no consequences for this act.
  • And then Kishi stopped by for the first time!
  • “Never trust tiny popes.” “What if they’re really cute, though?” “No!”
  • There is some religious learning going on thanks to Kishi’s mysterious “notes”.
  • And we close as Abby defends this bit of the game. She is correct that this section is a tour de force of Xenogears, but these videos seem to indicate they may not be perfect…

Next time on Xenogears: Let’s give Ramsus a hand.

No, not Ryu
Where have I seen this move before?

Chrono Cross 04: Character Study

Me-owWe gave some time over to dedicated character recruitment during this update, so let’s answer this question once and for all: are the majority of characters in Chrono Cross useless? This assessment is separate from the battle system (where practically anyone can be useful if their color codes right to the area), and a dedicated look at whether or not this cast of weirdos makes any sense for the story. What do we got? Well…

Absolutely Plot Relevant

  • Harle
  • Kid
  • Leena
  • Lynx
  • Serge

You can count on one hand the characters in Chrono Cross that are 100% relevant to the plot. On one side, you have the power couple of Serge and Kid, two crazy kids (oh… I just got that) that have somehow become the center of an omniversal threat to the cosmos. On the other side of the aisle, you have Lynx, Serge’s eternal(ish) antagonist, and Harle, his sidekick that may or may not switch sides/species. And, just because she seems to fit in here, we will also include Leena as essential. She could technically be replaced or expunged from the story, but Serge needs someone/thing to fight for and represent his idyllic home… so it may as well be Leena. There may be a little wiggle room here, but you basically cannot have Chrono Cross without these key players.

Marginally Plot Relevant

  • Doc
  • Fargo
  • Irenes
  • Korcha
  • Nikki
  • Sneff
  • Starky

Stay hotNext up we have the characters that may not be 100% crucial, but still definitely serve a purpose in the plot. For instance, Doc may not ever join your party (depending on your choices), but you need someone to keep the plot moving when Kid is poisoned. Similarly, Sneff serves the purpose of being a “weirdo” that is ultimately helpful when Serge has been transformed into one of society’s undesirables (a cat boy). Fargo, Korcha, and even Starky all come with particular modes of transportation, so they are vital for the same reason Black Manta was allowed in the Legion of Doom (owns a boat). Irenes sneaks in here so the demi-human plight has a pretty face attached to that bit of worldbuilding. And Nikki gets a slot for having a tragic backstory and the key to solving racism. These seven are all characters that could technically not exist in this story, but they come attached to important bits, so they are generally valuable.

Viper Manor Relevant

  • Glenn
  • Grobyc
  • Karsh
  • Luccia
  • Marcy
  • Norris
  • Radius
  • Riddel
  • Viper
  • Zappa
  • Zoah

I recognize these losersHere is a whole game unto itself. The raid on Viper Manor could comprise its own radical adventure for some dreamers, so it makes sense that lot of characters are tied to this section of the story. You could excise a whole group of these losers (they are literally losers; you beat the majority of them in fights), but their existence does round out the “team bad guy” of El Nido. Viper is the leader. Karsh, Zoah, and Marcy are the elite generals. Luccia is responsible for all monster/trap creation. Glenn and Riddel are the “maybe they’re not so bad” kids of the gang. Radius and Zappa are the retired generation that has some consternation with the kids and old ghosts. And Norris and Grobyc represent the good and bad of the Porre Military, which becomes Viper Manor’s enemy when they all inevitably defect to the side of the angels. You could probably cut these eleven down to like five and still have the same story, but nobody is going to complain about fleshing out the (redeemable) “bad guys”.

Might see in a JRPG Relevant

  • Greco
  • Guile
  • Mel
  • Miki
  • Orlha
  • Pierre
  • Steena
  • Van

Don't look at meEvery JRPG needs a little unrelated fluffery to offer a differing perspective from the obvious protagonist. Final Fantasy 4 would not be the same without toddler twins from a magical city, and Chrono Cross would not be the same without including its own share of interesting support characters. Steena is your typical priestess that knows everything about the surrounding area. Guile is the enigmatic magician who appears to have his own agenda. Orlha and Van both have potential plot hooks with seeing their interdimensional “siblings” thanks to the quirks of dimensional travel. And we have a few JRPG stock characters here: the spiritual bruiser (luchador, in this case), the precocious kid that admires a lead (and uses a boomerang for some reason), the dancer that is trying to achieve more (a Fire Emblem staple), and the “wannabe hero” that will eventually grow into being a useful party member. None of these characters are “essential”, but they are the spice that flavors the JRPG.

Absolutely Irrelevant

  • Draggy
  • Funguy
  • Janice
  • Leah
  • Macha
  • Mojo
  • NeoFio
  • Orcha
  • Pip
  • Poshul
  • Razzly
  • Skelly
  • Sprigg
  • Turnip

And… dang. Now look at all these losers. Leah is the only one that maybe could be relevant, but it is clear that she is little more than a shortsighted echo of a “real” Chrono Trigger character. Razzly the faerie is similarly marginally related to the plot, but the fact that you can leave her to be eaten without ever knowing she existed is pretty damning. And Sprigg is a cool denizen of another dimension, but you’d be forgiven for forgetting she even touches your party after her puckish introduction. Beyond that, Draggy, Janice, Macha, Orcha, Pip, Poshul, and Skelly are all wholly superfluous, and the only thing that could be lost between all of them is one gratuitous boss fight. And, strangely enough, Funguy, NeoFio, Mojo, and Turnip are all basically walking inanimate objects, and you really do not need that many characters that could slot into that hole. Most games don’t even have one talking vegetable!

So what’s the verdict here? Well, if we look at this chart…

It is plain math

A healthy 68% of playable characters in Chrono Cross are relevant in some way. And it sure looks like Viper Manor is the center of Chrono Cross! We already knew that!

…. And let’s not focus on the remaining percentage…

Even Worse Streams presents Chrono Cross Night 4


Original Stream Night: May 3, 2022

Recruited this week:

  • Pip
  • Luccia
  • Neo Fio
  • Skelly
  • Lynx (?)

Random Notes on the Stream:

  • We are starting on a pirate ship full of skeletons. Note that this pirate ship was not initially filled with skeletons.
  • Speaking of skeletons, BEAT wants to know how long this is going to take. It is week 4. It will eventually be 10 weeks. The poor summer child.
  • Square Enix sold off Eidos/Crystal Dynamics and decided to get into NFTs right around when we streamed this. Writing this months later, we now know they are ill advisedly sticking to their NFT guns.
  • Chrono Cross is good at using elements for post battle healing. Wild Arms 3 has no such similar process for expending leftover FP. You win this round, Chrono Cross.
  • Let's fly awayWe find what’s left of Chrono Trigger’s Epoch in the basement of the library. Like every other reference to Chrono Trigger in Chrono Cross, this is sad.
  • We were venturing through a swamp to get Neo Fio when Ample Vigour arrives
  • Nobuteru Yūki was the character designer for Chrono Cross. I apologize if this entire Let’s Play is an insult to such an artist.
  • Even Worse Streams presents Jackass starring Korcha.
  • We eventually get to Water Dragon Isle. We have learned the dwarves are hellbound. Fuck dwesus.
  • A solution to housing values tanking: tanks.
  • BEAT talks about The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time speedrun strategies, and how they are life affirming.
  • The Sopranos Playstation 2 game is noted as ridiculous.
  • At the volcano, Solt and Peppor can waste your time. It is indistinguishable from any other boss fight.
  • Back to Zelda, and “go home and die” speed runs
  • Castlevania Lords of Shadow lets you skip puzzles, and that is good.
  • Let us all hate Sonic Underground and its cameo in Sonic Riders.
  • Looking for more friendsI have the “IGN Watermark” copy of Wii Okami, and I cannot see that logo for my life. Took like ten minutes of staring!
  • Would you like to be a boy, or cat boy? Serge is forced to be a cat boy.
  • We close with Deptford’s post on Chrono Cross. Let’s consider this further foreshadowing.

Next time on Chrono Cross: Your mom likes cats, but not that much.

Chrono Cross 03: The Planet

Get 'em!You can’t say Chrono Cross doesn’t have its heart in the right place.

Sometimes things get complicated. Not to spoil a twenty-year-old game for anybody, but the main plot of Chrono Cross is a tale of time travel, an intergalactic parasite, and two warring realities that are either inadvertently or deliberately feeding that previously mentioned parasite until it can destroy not only the world, but all of space and time. If Serge fails in his duty as the silent protagonist, not only will 1999 AD face destruction, but also everything that has ever existed backwards and forwards in eternity. But no pressure, dude, not like you also have to deal with the fact that your dad is a mutant cat that wants you for your body, or that the most reliable friend you have is continually being poisoned and/or brainwashed. Not like you have a lot going on in the midst of this cross-dimensional crisis!

But there is a consistent throughline in Chrono Cross: the environment is getting wrecked by humans. The first thing you have to do in this game? Murder some local lizards so your girlfriend can have a nice necklace. The last thing you do in the game? Repel a gigantic flying tower that is somehow powered by an alternate universe where dinosaurs lived in perfect harmony with nature, and it is only here because the planet felt so threatened by humanity, it needed a “super dinosaur” to battle a nation founded by a super computer. … Okay, yeah, things get complicated quickly here, but the message is the same: humanity is a threat to the planet. Over and over again, Serge is presented with a world where people are surviving and living their best lives, but the world is suffering for it. You will kill the local lizards (and their mama!). You will destroy the Dragon Tower and its attendant super dinosaur. You will save the world. But the world might not be 100% on board with these outcomes.

Steal awayAnd this is all perfectly encapsulated at the Hydra Marsh. Kid is poisoned, and the only way to cure her affliction is by killing the last remaining hydra. You can see the difference in Hydra Marshes thanks to dimensional travel (and there’s even a friendly dwarf near Kid’s hospital if you need it spelled out immediately). In the world with the hydra, the swamp is a vibrant location home to many kinds of creatures (albeit most of them are actively trying to kill you). In the world where the hydra has already been hunted to extinction, only true monsters remain, and the swamp has become lethally poisonous. You know what is going to happen if you hunt the hydra on Kid’s behalf. Your world will become worse, and a great many other species are going to die. And, to be more than clear on this sad fact, Chrono Cross does not make this a simple “background” possibility: when you inevitably kill the hydra, the dwarves of Home Swamp will be displaced, and you will then be tugged into a war between homeless gnomes and besieged fairies. With the hydra dead, the viable world is shrinking, and more problems arise immediately. Kid may be saved by hydra humour, but an entire society is going to collapse without it. As the planet cries out in pain, more and more people suffer in ways they never, ever expected…

And, as I played this section a couple weeks before I was in France during a heatwave that escalated over the Summer of 2022 to watching Europe practically melt off the face of the Earth… Well… I can’t fault for Chrono Cross for having at least one clear message.

Maybe we should do something about this whole “humans threatening the world” thing…

Even Worse Streams presents Chrono Cross
Night 3

Original Stream Night: April 26, 2022

Recruited this week:

  • Korcha
  • Greco
  • Razzly

Random Notes on the Stream

  • We all hate Korcha.
  • “There are ranks of -cha”… but Mel does not rank.
  • First dimension hop! Get used to seeing this FMV!
  • It's nice hereFinal Fantasy 13 borrowed some ideas from Lost… Bad ideas. Like fake funerals.
  • Beeba are racist. Just realized that tonight.
  • So many bosses in this stupid swamp. Basically wall-to-wall boss fights of no plot importance.
  • A discussion about Ogre Battle naturally segues into a discussion on how great Queen is
  • There is a discussion of Keenspot and Keenspace and the sheer level of insanity contained therein.
  • We have a boat! Yay! But waves are “moving like a fat guy’s back”.
  • A pirate ship of deadbeat dads is where we close for the day.

Next time on Chrono Cross: Skeletons of all sorts of varieties.

Squawk

FGC #627.1 Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin

The Wild Arms 3 LP will be back and continuing next week. Right now I need to talk about Stranger of Paradise for reasons that are likely related to brain damage. Also, this article contains spoilers for Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin. The plot is vaguely incomprehensible anyway, but, ya know, if you don’t want to be spoiled on a game that came out like a month ago, just go ahead and read one of the 600 other articles on the site. Thank you for listening.

Eat it, ChaosStranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin has finally refined the genre with one simple trick: the perfect protagonist for a JRPG is a complete idiot.

Alright, this humble blogger must admit that is not quite right. For one thing, SoP:FFO is not a JRPG. It is an action game with significant JRPG elements. If you attempt to play this game with a typical JRPG mindset, you will watch your not-so-humble protagonist die. A lot. You cannot simply “trade blows” when you are facing a mad ogre in this Final Fantasy universe, and you must dodge, parry, and properly back-attack if you want to stand a chance. Learning exactly how to utilize your weapons is a must, and it is pretty clear early on why magic as we know it is a limited resource. Here’s a hint: if you can lob fireballs from a great distance away from your opponent, you are less a wizard, and more of a sniper. Gotta tape those superpowers down in an action game! And, to be clear, this is a departure from Final Fantasy 15, Final Fantasy 7 Remake, or even Kingdom Hearts. Those are more action-JRPG affairs, a storied tradition that traces back to waiting for 100%s on your action gauge in Secret of Mana. This is an action title, where “using a potion” is less of an inevitability, and more of a sign that you are choking in your battle duties. You should have been able to take down those wolves without getting hit, Jack! Are you sure you’re cut out to be a Warrior of Light?

But, as much as SoP:FFO is an action game, the plot and general framing is definitely a JRPG. That is as it should be, as this whole story is a loose adaption of Final Fantasy (1), the granddaddy of all JRPGs that do not involve compulsive gambling. This is the world that involves Cornelia, a dark elf prince, and exactly one named pirate. The ultimate threat is that same as in 1987, too, as the Four Fiends are menacing the primal elements of the planet, and, if four (or so) Light Warriors don’t get off their collective duffs immediately, the whole world is going to rot and/or burn. So world travel is on the menu, and every monster has to be stomped from here to the Sunken Shrine. Save us all, person with four letters in their name!

But Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin is no mere HD remake of Final Fantasy…