Thursday, April 13, 2017

The War on Giygas Is Over

It's been a bit of a hectic week...

This Tuesday I finished playing through Earthbound on the train ride to work, and also watched Kimi no Na Wa that night in theaters.

Earthbound was great and I'm glad I finally got to cross that off the bucket list.  It was really cool seeing so clearly how it inspired other games like Undertale and Yume Nikki in some of the ways that it pushed the genre forward as a storytelling medium, especially in some of the more experimental parts near the latter part of the game.  I already knew sort of more or less how the end sequence was going to go, but actually going through it and experiencing all of the details for myself was a treat and I think it was quite well done.  There was even a bit of Higurashi-esque vibe at one point.

Besides the eerie sense of "darkness" toward the end of the game I think it's really nice how throughout the game it really tried to push forward the idea of "meaningless but meaningful" player interaction -- the idea that even if a choice in the game doesn't actually affect how the game plays out, it is still meaningful by its very existence of being a choice for the player to decide on.  Earthbound is by far not the only game that does this, but it was quite apparent to me and I think that it's really important for video games to try and engage the player in that way as part of the storytelling experience.  It's like the old "show, not tell" adage, except in video games, you want to have the player "act" not "watch" -- everything feels so much more "real" when it's something that you are driving as a player rather than something that you're passively watching as an audience member.  The Last of Us was great at achieving this as well.  And games like Earthbound, Journey, ABZU, etc do a good job of giving you a more "tangible", "interactable" reward at the end of the game as well.

So yeah, that was pretty great.  I'll get to Mother 3 at a later time, as right now I'm moving onto the Specter Knight campaign in Shovel Knight (great so far!), as well as Hyper Light Drifter (haven't started), and most recently, Rain World, which I purchased and started playing just yesterday.  What a harsh far it really has captured the sort of "stress-inducing terror" that you got in little bite-sized chunks in various other games, like the opening sequence of Out of This World, for example.  It's actually one of the most terrifying games I've played, though I wouldn't really classify it as traditional "horror".  The visual design is done really well, I think it really sticks in your mind in a sort of raw primal "danger instinct" way.  Anyways, I'm working through it with my best friend right now; though we're not too far, just got into the Industrial Complex and started exploring that area.  I really don't want to play that game before going to bed, haha.

Kimi no Na Wa (a.k.a. "Your Name") was quite enjoyable and I'm glad that I liked it better than I did 5cm/sec back when I saw that.  I have mixed feelings about 5cm/sec because I really didn't enjoy it when I saw it but I wonder (?) if I would see it with a different point of view now.  I'm not sure and I'm not sure if I care enough to find out.  But Kimi no Na Wa was pretty good; besides having the as-expected gorgeous backgrounds and everything, the story actually had quite a handful of nice moments for me and I thought the pacing felt pretty good too.  The part about pronouns also really cracked me up to no end, haha, though that's something that you wouldn't really get if you're completely unfamiliar with Japanese culture.  I didn't end up crying or anything but there was one point towards the end where he was going through life thinking about having "lost" something, and -- in essence, thinking about the past (yes, that's right...the past) -- where I almost thought I was going to lose it.  That's really the key to getting to my feelings...just start talking about the past, haha...

Other things that have been going on...spent the day on Sunday helping family move furniture, but I got a dresser and bed upgrade out of it, so I can't complain too much.  I went to Mission City Swing last week, and Jammix too, but decided to skip both Dancebreak and the new WCS practice session at Stanford this week.  I think not only am I now on a downswing in terms of dance, but also just being around people in general, I think I need a while to sort of recover, especially after Sunday too.  It's just a combination of stress and introversion and needing some time to recharge, I think.

Jammix was interesting in that it was both fun and not fun at the same time.  Audrey announced the intergenerational dance contest at Big Dance next month which I think is really cool, but even cooler is the fact they'll be putting on ambi dance contests, which I think is really cool and amazing of course!  Really hope that everyone will join in on the fun for that and give it a try.

It was a combination of factors that got me slightly "down" (air quotes) at Jammix, one was sort of a pesky one that can't really be helped, but moreover I think the bigger factor was again just needing to be away from people, and also a moment in which I intensely remembered a moment from my past and started to really get lost thinking about it.  Interestingly enough, I danced "softly" for the first time in what seems like forever that night because of the mood.  I very, very rarely do that now, but it's got sort of a nostalgic feeling to it.  To think that I used to dance like that consistently, every time...

Richard pinged me about my idea for starting up something for social waltz and I think I've sat on my hands for too long now, so it's time to finally put words to action.  Unfortunately the deadline for applying to forming a new VSO is on sunday so that option is out until next fall (my bad).  But maybe we can do something else in the meantime regardless?  ...

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