Monday, November 20, 2017

Kingdom Hearts Primer - Dream Drop Distance - Episode 1 - This Game Gets Weird

At last, we are in the home stretch on the Kingdom Hearts Primer. This is the last sub-series in this major project that has taken Sam and I over a year and tons of our sanity. Finally, we will have recapped all the story you need to know for Kingdom Hearts 3.

After the long and grueling season on Re:Coded, we needed that break to get this started.

First off, the actual reason we had to wait is because when Sam went to edit the footage, Adobe Premier decided that he wasn't allowed to and crashed.

Second, I'm glad to know that Sam reads my articles like the one he mentioned where I talk about Neku and the story of The World Ends With You. I would appreciate it if you did too! (Side note: Man, I really need to get back to writing.)

As for any actual commentary on the story: Man, this Kingdom Hearts game is the most confusing of the bunch. Kingdom Hearts already has a massive problem where it was difficult to explain the story to someone who hasn't been playing the series. Dream Drop Distance adds parallel worlds, dreams, and time travel to the mix all in the introduction. There's no real way to get around how much bloat that adds.

I also feel really bad for all the people out there who saw the cast of The World Ends With You in this game and thought "I'm sure glad Square Enix didn't forget about this IP". Since DDD, there has been nothing done with those characters or that IP. It's such a shame. :(

Monday, October 30, 2017

Kingdom Hearts Primer - Re:Coded - Episode 1 - Decoded

Welcome to the Re:Coded section of the Kingdom Hearts Primer. It's just to be a great and long-lasting season.


Yeah, not much happens in Coded. So we won't spend much time on it. In keeping with that theme, I won't dedicate many words to it.

I will point out that Sam did a great job in editing that together though. Dude needs more credit for his work.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Kingdom Hearts Primer - Birth By Sleep - Episode 15 - Sora Will Save Everyone

Here it is, the final episode of the Birth By Sleep segment of the Kingdom Hearts Primer.

Sam and I harp on this a lot, and it's one of our biggest problems with the reveal in Blank Points: One of the easiest ways to lose me in the plot of a big franchise is to give is to negate loss or death in some way. In order to have happy endings, a lot of stories where a major character makes a sacrifice or gets killed off will have their death or the cost of their sacrifice "restored" in some way.

Get away from the primer for a second, this is one of my least favorite storytelling devices. I won't pretend to speak for Sam, but for me I never cared for this saccharine view of loss. In the real world, when people make sacrifices, it is highly unusual for those sacrifices to be reversed. And when they are, they usually come with a bigger cost. In my opinion, I've always found the view that "nothing is ever truly lost" to be a very dangerous lesson to teach to young people, because it doesn't give them the skills to cope with loss, and doesn't prepare them to value what they have.

That said, I'm not adverse to happy endings. Loss doesn't have to mean the end, and in the real world most people do cope with loss and move on. They learn for their mistakes and grow into better people for it. So for me, when I saw this scene that promises all the people who have ever sacrificed or suffered in this franchise will one day be saved by Sora (in Kingdom Hearts 3), a part of me was frankly annoyed by the suggestion. In my view, the basically invalidates all the suffering those people went through, and robs the significance of what they did.

Despite my misgivings, I did tear up at seeing everyone full of hope that they would be saved by Sora in the end. Say what you will about Nomura (lord knows I do), but the man knows who to touch the heartstrings. Kingdom Hearts is a good franchise, but I wonder how much further he can push it before it gets too ridiculous for ever die-hard fans like myself to handle.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Kingdom Hearts Primer - Birth By Sleep - Episode 14 - There Are No Coincidences

It's getting close, guys. Big reveals are going on and there's a lot to take in. Buckle up!

So much goes on in this episode that it's difficult to delve into it in a single post. The big problem is something I've talked about multiple times in these write-ups: Birth By Sleep obsessively explains away almost every single detail from previous games by saying that it's something Terra, Ventus, or Aqua did.

But we see another problem in this episode, and towards the end of the last one, where it's not content with just explaining away details in previous entries. In a lot of the endgame dialogue, the characters in this game reuse speeches and phrases that characters in earlier Kingdom Hearts games used. Sora's "part of their heart" speech and Billy Zane as Ansem's infamous "All world's begin in darkness" monologue are taken almost verbatim. Unfortunately, they are also recycled in contexts that rob them of their original meanings.

There is debate as to exactly when Kingdom Hearts "jumped the shark". Some would say it was Kingdom Hearts 2. Others would point to Dream Drop Distance, which we will cover soon. If I were asked where I thought the Kingdom Hearts franchise got too bloated and out of control, I would say this game. Fortunately there's an HD version of this game on the PS3 and PS4, because otherwise it would be criminal for all of this important plot information to be buried in a portable many fans didn't play.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Kingdom Hearts Primer - Birth By Sleep - Episode 13 - Making the Franchise Worse

Welcome to the beginning of the end... for Birth By Sleep.

By far my favorite moment of this episode is when Sam, after doing some plot calculus in his head, comes to the conclusion that this game, when taken in context with that which (in terms of release date) came before, makes the whole franchise worse.

Frankly, knowing that every problem in the known universe can be traced back to 3 kids and their inability to communicate makes the whole sorted affair feel like a cosmic waste of time. On top of that, most of the trio's actions, even when are aware of what they are doing, just make things even worse for the ones who need to clean up their mess later.

This is compounded by the sheer stupidity/inconsistency of Eraqus. Despite being this stalwart Templar of Light, he wasn't exactly worth-coming about the dangers of darkness (and his evil rival who covets it).

Sure, I feel bad for the 3 "heroes", but it's hard to be particularly sympathetic to them when everyone (including them) would have been better off if they just got sick and stayed home.