Month: April 2016

Kingdom Hearts 2 – A Modest Proposal

Sora and the others head into Santa’s workshop (Jack hangs back a bit), where Santa Claus himself is at work fine-tuning his famous list. Santa Claus here is voiced by Corey Burton, which means it should be pretty easy to name all the good and bad children, since I imagine he’s voiced half of them. I can’t find out much else about Ed Ivory, the man who voiced Santa in the original Nightmare Before Christmas, save that he only acted for a small period from 1987-1995. His last role was in a Brøderbund FMV game, In the 1st Degree, where he played the judge. As Ivory was an older man even in the 1990s, I fear the reason he hasn’t appeared since 1995 may be that he’s no longer be with us.


Final Fantasy VI – The Long Route

So, Sabin. Sabin had taken quite a trip since tumbling into the rapids. He was now all the way on another continent, off to the east! I don’t think that’s remotely possible (or at least, not remotely survivable!), but here we are all the same.

Sabin recovers not far from a hermit’s cabin at the northernmost end of the eastern continent. Being the only sign of civilization for some distance, it seems to have attracted three entirely unrelated elements to the same cramped location. First off: the hermit himself, who was unfortunately going senile and mistook Sabin for a repairman. Second: an armoured travelling merchant, a good warning that this wasn’t exactly friendly territory.


Kingdom Hearts 2 – Dashing Through the Snow

In a cutscene, we see the pivotal scene from Nightmare Before Christmas where Jack Skellington discovers the door in the tree that leads to Christmas Town. You might think this is about to imply that we’re going to go through the plot of the film, but we’re actually not – this is a flashback, and KH2 strongly hints that the events of Nightmare took place between KH1 and 2. It’s a clever way to handle the games’ relationship to the film without having to re-watch the film, Port Royal. I like the setup a lot. The actual plot is essentially brand new, and while I can’t unequivocally say I like it, I… well, you’ll see.


Kingdom Hearts 2 – A Long Digression (to the Actual Plot)

That’s it for Agrabah, but after you clear the first of the two worlds that follow Port Royal, you’re treated to a surprise cutscene. This scene features Pluto in what appears to be the dark cityscape from Deep Dive in KH1. Huh, okay. He spots Axel there (revealing he’s still alive to Vanilla players) and watches as Axel goes into a dark portal. Just then, another portal appears and Pluto is called through this second portal by a whistle. The scene fades out, and then fades back in on… Kairi! The plot has returned! All hail the true plot!


Final Fantasy VI – Don’t Split the Party

Sabin joined us and we went east to the Returner’s base. There we caught up with the leader, Banon, who was something of a evangelist-preacher type, and not very kind to Terra. He also treated her as an object, namely an embodiment of the idea of “magic,” comparing her to some alternate universe Pandora’s Box myth. He listed five of the Deadly Sins in the process, skipping sloth (often skipped due to its inherently religious nuances – it was never supposed to mean simple laziness) and also lust. Really, GBA localization team? You’re going to censor the word “lust,” but allow the man who sexually harasses his staff and teammates on a regular basis to carry on not only unimpeded but unaccounted for in your list of Deadly Sins?

Nevertheless, Banon realized the importance of Terra in the global scheme despite the risks, and asked her to consider helping them out. He even lets you walk away if you feel like it, just to show you’re not a prisoner, but you can’t go anywhere you haven’t been already. Kyle and I got bored and agreed to his deal after one fake-out, which turned out to be a mistake. Because we agreed early, Banon gave us a Gauntlet, a Relic that duplicates the FFV Knight ability Double Handed. Not bad! Unfortunately, if we had kept up our refusal, he would have given us the absurdly powerful Genji Glove relic, which allows you to dual-wield and dramatically increase your damage output (the wiki says damage from each blow is reduced by 25% to keep it from being a complete curb-stomp, but I’m not clear on what stage in the process that reduction is applied – and it barely reduces the Glove’s power either way!).


Kingdom Hearts 2 – Debug Rooms and Primitive Shapes

After getting outside city walls, we find Agrabah no longer faces an endless desert like it did in KH1. Besides someone planting a little desert garden just outside the gate, you can also see the Cave of Wonders visible as a dark dome just off to the left. There are dark domes on the horizon… not a soul in town… clearly there’s nothing to worry about at all! Also, the Cave doesn’t look any further away than I live from my grocery store. Desert notwithstanding, are we positive this place hasn’t been picked clean of treasure? The “dark dome” turns out to be some very stylish clouds, by the way. In hindsight they look like you somehow glitched outside of the Cave of Wonders’ skybox and saw it from the outside!


Kingdom Hearts 2 – Infinite Heartless, No People

After Port Royal, you’re once again given a choice of two worlds, and sure, sure, that’s nice. We could focus on that. Or! Or we could focus on something more unusual than either: Gummi Tracks I actually have something nice to say about!

The Ancient Highway and Broken Highway missions are surprise, last-minute references you won’t catch until you’re right in the middle of them. But the influence is clear: the music, the shape of the track, the speeder-shaped gummi Heartless that race along the tracks ignoring you entirely. We just flew into F-Zero, and KH2 is being completely unapologetic about it. There’s an evil Heartless wheel-gummi chasing you in both stages, but in very different ways. The music, “Hazardous Highway,” is one I prefer in the original, Vanilla KH2 synth rock version, but it’s a minor complaint I’m sure others might feel the complete opposite about, so this is my personal highlight of the Gummi circuit.


Final Fantasy VI – Lions and Tigers

While we weren’t able to re-enter Narshe after escaping, an “adventurer school” existed outside the city walls to give us tutorials. We learned a few new features, like the fact that you can now run away in the iOS version by “flicking” a character, some details about this game’s multitudinous status effects, and the fact that Potions taste funny. Vindication! Kyle and I have been making that exact joke since the 90s. We also learned about this game’s new feature: Desperation Attacks. These were the proto-form of the franchise’s now famous Limit Breaks, where taking damage might give you a powerful attack. In VI’s case, Desperation Attacks only work when you’re on very low health, which meant that I didn’t see any throughout the entire game. Kyle saw one – Locke’s, I think – but I was in the bathroom. This is critical Marathon insight you’re getting here.


Metapost: Final Fantasy in order!

Just like I promised, the Final Fantasy posts should now be in series release order (with series in internal chronological order), instead of the spaghetti show I was running before.  Hopefully by doing this in the middle of the night I didn’t trip anyone up, but if you were in the middle of a read, you may want to go to the directory (above) and double-check your place!



If you’re looking for today’s Kingdom Hearts 2 post, it’s here, you didn’t miss it!

Kingdom Hearts 2 – Backwards Night-Light

Ooo! New blog motto!

You return to the ship where Will angsts about being the son of a pirate (one of the interminable cutscenes I mentioned above), when all of a sudden, the Black Pearl is on your ass and you have to repel the boarders. This is a pretty intense battle, with a lot of moving parts, and I like it a lot. Let’s break it down.