Character Building Exercises

I would like to proudly announce that recently I finished off two video games in one day. Although I started them on different days  coincidence made it so I finished Galaxy Angel and Radiant Historia at the same time. Finishing both games back to back made me realize one thing. I would easily recommend both games so the next statement comes from someone who was thoroughly satisfied with his gaming experience (although if the last mission of Galaxy Angel were not an escort mission I would be happier.) Both games are sort of thin when it comes to their characters. They were enjoyable but in realized that had these character been from an anime or manga I would have considered them much weaker.  We simply accept a smaller amount of characterization in video games than we do from any other medium of entertainment.

We all know that video games have changed and evolved quite a bit over the years, but its been in many different directions. Even excluding the change in graphics capability and the potential length of games, plenty of growth in how people perceive games and how the creators make them has happened. They are a new and special type of storytelling, they are art to some and entertainment to many, and by any standard they have become integrated into the fabric of people’s lives on some level. But let’s go back to the storytelling element, certainly there have always been goals and structures for games, but we’ve seen epic stories come to life, too. And things just seem to grow more complex, with bigger ideas, and greater casts. But how characters develop in the story and through the player is still another idea all together.

Continue reading


Ongoing Investigations: Case #104

I have happily been engrossed in the latest Professor Layton game the Unwound Future for the last week. The plot is the most fun and lively yet and we even get to learn a bit about Layton’s past and relationships plus see a (gasp) top hat-less Layton! This is also the most personal and emotional installment yet, which makes sense since it is the end of trilogy. Still I was pleased to see myself tearing up at the ending of the events. The puzzles were about the same difficulty level as the second game, which means that overall they are tricky but not overly hard. I still admit to missing the really challenging puzzles that appeared at the end of the first game. In this case even the end puzzles, worth a lot of picarts, were mostly harder versions of puzzles you had already conquered earlier in the game. But my true reason for playing the game is plot, plot, plot so I was indubitably pleased with how it came together. My only complaint is the constant hand holding that started with the second game and only seems to have escalated in the third. There is a journal that I can read if I forget anything, there is a mystery section that I can review, and when I turn on my continued game it reminds me of where I left off. Those things are all fine, what I don’t need is the game to prevent me from wandering and a plot recap every couple of chapters. These things don’t make the game less fun it just takes a bit of mystery solving out of it.

hisuiconProfessor Layton and the Unwound Future is a delightful capping off of the 1st Professor Layton trilogy. As with most the previous games we start with an odd event that spirals into a larger adventure with Layton discovering the grand conspiracy behind everything as he solves puzzles. I did notice some recycling of older puzzles beyond using some of the work horse types of puzzles that are in all three games. But they change them enough that they don’t feel like you are replaying an older game with a new story. I am never usually one to comment on voice acting but the new woman who does Flora is quite awful especially considering how good everyone else has been. I don’t know what circumstances prevented them from using the original Flora but they need to get rid of this lady and fast. The ending of the game was bombastic where is need to be and in contrast heartfelt, touching, and a bit melancholy where it needed to be as well. I will say the giant robot at the end of the Eternal Diva is much more inline with the series now that I played this game. I look forward to the adaption of the prequel trilogy as well as the Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney game.  With all the new material taking place before this trilogy one wonders when they will get to that letter and the end of this game.

Continue reading

Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva: A franchise’s leap to the big screen!

I love, love, LOVE the Professor Layton games, at least the two that are localized and I’m eagerly awaiting the next installment to be released state side near the end of November. The characters of Luke and Layton are instantly memorable plus the quirky towns, people, and puzzles combined with a European art style there is just a lot to enjoy and makes an easy transition into anime.

hisuiconI would bet money that while playing the Professor Layton games a majority of people had the same thought pop into their heads. “This game is fun but boy I wish this was an anime.” And so OLM, Inc. and Level-5 used their special machine to break into dreams (and more specifically Narutaki’s dreams) and make this movie. The question is can a game with a few (albeit very well done) short animated cut scenes be strong enough to stand on its own as a full length movie.

hisuiconThe movie begins at the end of a case with Professor Layton foiling another dastardly caper. As Luke and Layton settle in after a hard days work they are reminded of an old case they worked on that started with a letter from a student of the professor named Jenis Quatlane. Jenis’ friend who died recently has come back to life as a small child. She believes that her friend’s resurrection and several other odd incidents in the area are all related to a mysterious theater. While Luke and Layton are attending an opera at the theater everyone in the audience in locked in a series of life of death trials to determine which one of them will receive the gift of immortality. Layton must discover how all these mysteries tie into the greater puzzle of the quest for eternity.

A major concern of mine going into this movie was not wanting to have plot points spoiled from further games that haven’t been released in the U.S. yet. I was doubly worried as I saw the film’s opening sequence with a short narration about the franchise and then the case we are thrown into took place very much in the present, though it was joyous to once again see Don Paolo. However, things take a turn when Layton and Luke listen to an old record as they are reminded of the famous young woman who sang it and a mysterious case involving her many years prior.

Continue reading