So it’s me here. I’ve decided to start up a series of posts centering around the especially bad pieces of writing, TV, and video games that somehow managed to pique my curiosity, but leaving me wallowing in regret as to how in the bleeding hell did I get interested in this piece of crap? But, as an aspiring writer, and an academically lazy college student, I learned that all knowledge is meaningful, whether it’s to be used or avoided.
Here, I decided to tackle something I played in my last year of high school:
One day, tri-Ace, the developers of Valkyrie Profile, decided to make an Action RPG game. According to someone on the developing team, the game was supposed to contain ten years of ideas that couldn’t be realized until the release of the Xbox 360. They wanted a game that would “put the player through ‘Situational Battles’ that would lead to ‘unknown discoveries’ and cause permanent changes to the world.” And that game……… was at best a mediocre piece of crap.
So, I decided to get a used copy of this game after seeing the Square Enix logo on the box, and being an aspiring writer, I felt that I couldn’t pass this up. One hell of a mistake I made for not realizing that Square Enix was merely the publisher, not the developer, and it showed. Forget the gameplay of Infinite Undiscovery, what I considered to be the most brutal stab in the back any JRPG had was how the writing of this game belonged to a typical shounen anime series made to fill a gap in the season or something. While I admired the technical simplicity the game offered, the character construction was so wall-bangingly horrendous, I almost gave-up finishing this game. Nearly every character in the game is a stereotype or cliche that I’ve seen in anime, and I’ve a feeling that even if I wasn’t so familiar with anime, I’d hate the characterizations anyway.
There is making a character that is flawed as a being then there is making a lot of characters that are all flawed as… well, characters. If you watch Extra Credits, then chances are you’ve watched the episode about The Other M. Otherwise, you oughtta check it out. But long story short, you’ll learn that making a great character mean walking a fine line between flawless and flawed, and that it’s not limited to unoriginal characters, something that the episode didn’t address. As they said, “A character without human flaws is a bad character”. And while we’re still on Extra Credits, “More personality is not inherently superior to less”.
But you know what, I can’t say that the writers of this game were complete idiots. Any writer with a head on his or her shoulders knows that for a character to be human, they have to develop. And in this game, they do, albeit rather badly. Few characters undergo a moment that is supposed to redeem them from their Scrappy-hood, but what makes it so poorly executed is the sheer number of characters in your crew. My exception, however, would be Edward, who comes off as the biggest asshole in your crew, his jerkassery only redeemed by repeatedly pointing out the main character’s wimpiness. Though, in the video, he’s pointed out to be jealous basically for not being the player character. Nonetheless, his moment of character development becomes incredibly satisfying, if not utterly bromantic.
Nonetheless, it doesn’t redeem how the rest of the characters are. Over half of them have no sort of actual character development, and retain the incredibly caricatured personality given to them from the start of the game. Unless you’re Ken Akamatsu, creator of Negima, AKA the manga with so many characters, it was once mistaken for the Japanese language (that was a bad joke, I’m sorry), trying to bring closure to so many characters in a short amount of time would be like ending an argument by slamming the door. It doesn’t leave you with the feeling of the fight being over. But here, they pretty much left the door wide open, letting in that cold, uncomfortable draft that leaves you wanting to slam the door close. It almost gives me the feeling that for all of those character’s they didn’t even try fleshing out as more than just cliches, it was left that way on purpose, whether out of some commercial idea or laziness. And that was when I decided that the best thing to do with the game was sell it back to the nearest GameStop.