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2626  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Xenosaga Episode III: Also Sprach Zarathustra on: October 13, 2006, 02:13:44 PM
It would all be so simple, if we just could agree that Xenosaga Episode III is a game, nothing more, nothing less. I did not bother to read the last few pages of this thread in their entity, but I'm wondering, why you just can't let Pat (Ramza) enjoy the game.

Well I think the biggest problem may be that I've gone and called the game "art"...that it is more than "just a game," because it's *that* good and very different from what I'm used to in a game.

So...I think that's why people are arguing with me. It's possible that I'm in the wrong, but so far I still think I could have a valid point here. :)


PS - sorry for the word "twat"...I usually don't get that upset...it's just that I think it's very important that we don't think other people can't "get" us because they're different. I think, in their writing, it's what they choose to display as what gets us. They do it to be interesting, and the fact that they generally don't allow God to be a *good* sentient being...I dunno...but I guess that's a good point (though Romancing SaGa has God as good and sentient! Great conversation you can have with him at the end of the game!).
2627  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Xenosaga Episode III: Also Sprach Zarathustra on: October 13, 2006, 02:15:35 AM
It'll get too confusing if I continue the trend of responding to each and every statement with a counter. Though it's more thorough, we'll both end up getting lost. Though, Bogatyr, I do appreciate you doing so!

I'll just make a few quick statements, mostly in defense of myself:

Exactly. All about Xenosaga is average. That hardly accounts for such marvelous experience as you implied it was.

Actually, reading your post now, which is far more restrained then the previous ones, I really don't know why you made such a deal about the game. Yourself seem to agree everything smells average and shallow in this game.

Just because something is deep - which Xenosaga isn't, and youself said in the beginning of your post that it is shallow, which confuses me now - it doesn't mean it has to be serious all the time

You've definitely misunderstood me on this point (inference/implication problems). I said that the characters had everyday-style conversations and conflicts (though they're in these inflated fictional settings), and I admitted that some of them may be mediocre. Now, you claim that I've done a 180 and gone from calling Xenosaga an amazing work of art and actually arguing that it is "average" and "shallow." The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

My love for the series comes primarily from its surprising contrasts in who finds humanity worthwhile and who likes to use humanity as toys. Speaking of!!!!

You example of a "Nietszchean" villain is Voldemort?! I take HP is another deep and dense story? You got to be kidding me?! Do you think just because someone thinks along these line: "There are those too weak to attain power, and those who are willing to make sacrifices to hold it" he is an übber Nietszchean character? You think his philosophy was that shallow? You think it all comes down to "there is no good or evil, so everything is allowed, as long as you are willing to do what you must"? Dude, there are all kinds of lowlife, small-time criminals out there who think exactly the same, and they are not in the least Nietszchean".

When I call Voldemort a Nietszchean Villain, I do not mean to say that Voldemort thinks and acts like Nietszche. That's pure nonsense, and that is certainly not what I meant. From the bit of lit. crit. that I've come around, when people talk about "Nietszchean Villains" or "Orwellian Dictators," they're refering to characters from stories written by those authors.

Nietszche himself argues, I believe in his essays Der Wille Zur Macht and/or Jenseits Von Gut und Boese, that a mankind freed from the shackles of religion will produce two generic kinds of people. Guess what those two were? "Those with power, and those too weak to grasp it." Voldemort says this, and hence is a Nietszchean villain. That doesn't mean I think Harry Potter is some immaculate work of art--there's plenty of interesting stuff in it, though I am worried about how it will end (endings mean A LOT in my mind)...but yeah, HP to me is not nearly on the level of depth as Xenosaga.

So do you get my point here? I wasn't even praising the HP series, I was just pointing out that "pop culture" references back to classic statements can help make "pop culture" ... well ... art!

You are right that there are all sorts of lowlife criminals who thought the same way Voldemort did. Nietszche saw that and wrote about it. It's just a part of his writing...not who Nietszche himself was. I know that, you know that, we don't need to argue that.

Dude, to someone to sympathize with Allen, he needs to be a complete and total loser.

Look a-fricking-round. That's the world we live in. I worry that, indeed, you *are* too high and mighty to see the plight of the common man. There are lots of "total loser" guys out there, agreed? And I bet a few of them played this game (don't take the easy jab at me: I'm happily married with a son on the way).

Dude, you said this game had an AMAZING plot, so deep and complex that some "morons" probably couldn't get it and trashed it. I expect a little more other than archetypes - the ones most recurrent even - from such a game.

You should be pleased to know that you're probably fairly more cultured than the writers and cast of the TV show XPlay. I wasn't calling you a moron, as we've established. :)

And Xenosaga certainly does more than dish out archetypes. For starters, it blends and intertwines them in a way that is beautiful in its own way. You seem to have this extreme dislike for modern Japanese pop culture, as though "older" equals "better." It is one more culture, and its blending with these older themes not only make it more palattable to today's audience, but also make a new perspective for us to consider the cultures and religions of the past (and present...not saying any religions are *dead* per se).

Xenosaga, along with the archetypes and their blending, ALSO makes solid use of emerging scientific concepts: ones that go well beyond "popular science." With the dual blessing/curse looming upon us that is genetic engineering, the talk of the intrinsic worth of cloned individuals is another topic WORTH considering. What are *these* creatures worth to us? To God? The novels of the past can't do much to touch on that (Mary Shelley's Frankenstein goes into it a bit, since man creates its own creation there...)...so we needed something for now. I'm sure others have said plenty, but I was startled to see the subject treated so well in the game.

Yes, you can ascribe meaning to all sorts of things, but meanings are dished out in layers of complexity, no doubt about that. So far, games - JRPGs are no exception, quite the opposite - have been in the lowest layers.

A true elitist you are. Though plenty of JRPGs *are* on the lower (dangerous to use superlatives here) layers, I don't think Xenosaga is, for the reasons I've tried to convey. At the end, I think I'm missing it. There was a feeling, an inkling, a premonition, that there is something very "right" about this story. When you beat it, tell me if you share this inkling. It's so hard to describe, I'm probably incapable of doing it without mapping out all my thoughts ahead of time. To me, that suggests the meanings here ARE dished out in layers of complexity, and the layers stack medium-to-high with Xenosaga.

Haha. Ethnocentric little twat? Aren't we getting angry?

Yup. I got angry. Unfortunately, reading the rest of the paragraph, I didn't get much happier...

Well, if Takahashi is any indication, I don't think they can.
Anthropology course? Well, if I wanted to write a book about the theme I surely would; just like this Takahashi fellow should had taken some classes on western religion and philosophy so he would not make a total fool and pretentious "twat" out of himself.
And I am saying some BASIC knowledge, because the intrincacies of one's culture - as you call it - can't be understanded by an alien after a few introduction lessons. I dare say, it can't never be comprehended, unless you spend some long years living with this people to truly know it "wholly".
In his case, and that is truly unfortunate, he lacked even the most basic knowledge, which can be enough to fool some Japaneses who know nothing about it, but when the game reach our shores, it's hard to keep the farce.

No, no, and more no. The fullest, most deep understanding of a culture is certainly only held by those native to it...partially because they are what DEFINE it (I am with the school of, say, Clifford Geertz on the definition of culture). However, even the "armchair anthropologist" who gets his knowledge from books and discussions can pick up plenty of basic knowledge and wield it in a way that is fitting to foreign cultures.

My suspicion (I could be wrong) is that you don't like the Judeo-Christian symbolism particularly because it does stray from an authentic, orthodox understanding. I also suspect that Takahashi was and is well-versed in the now-dead (or renewed in a masked guise) GNOSTIC understanding of Christianity. The third episode, certainly, would assert this. As for Takahashi reading the DaVinci Code, I'd remind you that Takahashi had this whole thing planned out before the book was published.

The man knows absolutely NOTHING about my religion and my culture - maybe he thinks so inside his head.
I could sweep the floor with him. I would gain nothing discussing with him for any ammount of time.

What Takahashi doesn't know is merely your perspective on your religion and culture. What he DOES know is factual history and plenty of literature on the subject. That goes a very long way, whether you'd like it to or not.

I think the difference between us is that you believe Voldemort is the utmost Nietszchean villain, and I take this for the BS this is.

Contribute to the betterment of humanity? You are on drugs dude.

I didn't call Voldemort the utmost Nietszchean Villain, quit putting words into my mouth. As for contributing to the betterment of humanity, I cite an oft-quoted motto from Episode III: A single human thought can change the course of history. Unless you're a fatalist, it's probably a worthwhile statement. As for being on drugs? Yeah, I'm on happy-pills (Paxil, Xanax, whatnot) because I had a nervous breakdown near the end of college. I hated taking them because I thought it made me weak-willed. And maybe I am weak-willed, and maybe I only think this game's amazing because I have some glossy sugar-coated perspective of the world now. But I'd LIKE to think I find Xenosaga to be an amazing game because, despite its "awkward" bend of JPop Culture and religion/philosophy, it has a strong truthful statement about the nature of humanity and the universe that many other stories don't even dare to tackle. I don't think it's pretentious: I simply think it is good.

Well, besides the obvious fallacious nature of your "point", let me assure you why games won't ever be pieces of art, in the manner of the ones mentioned above: It is a huge industry, concerned solely about making money. First aim is to make money, second - far behind - is to pass on a message, maybe, if "we are really inspired to do so". None of the great geniuses had making money as their priority, meaning their pieces was 100% genuine. The message was the one and only aim.
Ain't that ironic that the game we are discussing is a winner example for my point? What happened between the development of the first and the second game? In fighting, money vs creativity. Do I need to say how it all ended, and who had the last word on it?

You're right, it's an industry, and it is a SHAME that money was the last word on how this series played out. But the man behind it all, Tetsuya Takahashi, was clearly *not* interested in the money, but rather his story-telling. I think that may be why I find so much more in Xenosaga than I do in most RPGs.

So, leave your illusions aside and wake up to reality.

No. I refuse. Your reality sucks because it doesn't give anyone a chance to find the good in what may be quickly tossed aside as garbage.

So you need to offer me more to convince me games are as much art as literature is. Otherwise, you just have a half assed sophism, which can be easily twisted to prove many other things.

Okay, fine. How about this: I don't think the content (and, more importantly, the meta-message) of Xenosaga is made to simply construe a point that seems veracious but is ACTUALLY just twisted crap. This isn't propaganda, nor is it a persuasive sophist speech. Finish the series and see what I mean. As an Orthodox Christian, you'll likely agree that the nature of the entire story is "true" within your worldview.

This, of course, is only what makes it capable of impacting how others think...and helping them see things "rightly" may only be one such bonus. I still argue that if literature is a form of art, than videogames, or at least their scripts, may be added to the ranks as "art" for the same reasons.

Books basically. Or my Churchs theology. Those are my sources. You want me to list all of them? I mostly read Russian literature, but I am not all that much ignorant on western classics either. That should give you a fair idea.

It certainly does. I have plenty of in-person and online-only acquaintances who are Orthodox Christians. Nearly all of them show your level of intelligence, but you are the first to be so keen on stubbornly arguing against the things I've had to say. Dare I say it...I respect that about you a lot.

Other than the standard Dostoyevsky that's required reading in many colleges today, I haven't read much Russian Lit. Orthodox Christian theology, on the other hand, is something I love, though I still struggle to understand it compared to any other sect of Christianity. I've found myself strongly attracted to Catholicism, though I remain Evangelical Protestant.


Well, I screwed up. I ended up responding to each one of your statements (pretty much), though I said I planned not to. Looks like it's egg on my face now.

With all this writing and thinking, I'd like to see you submit a reader review (or heck, apply to staff if you like talking about videogames a lot) to counter my Xenosaga III review (which will be up any day now). You can pull me off my high horse and expose the Xenosaga series for the "pretentious" show it really is. Go ahead, do it. Most people will probably agree with you anyway. I still stand by my claims, and my extremely high scores I gave it.

2628  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Completed RPGs of 2006 on: October 12, 2006, 01:39:52 PM
For anyone who's finished Enchanted Arms: is it a game worth buying? I haven't played a decent RPG in a long time, and I'm looking for a new 360 game.


I gave it an 84%.

I think it's exactly what you're looking for! A "decent RPG" and a "new 360 game." The game took me about 45 hours to complete, and that was with minimal subquest completion. The developer, From Software, has a track record of making totally awful RPGs, so this game was a big surprise to me.

Everyone who bashed the game did so because it didn't do anything revolutionary. Big whoop. It's a standard RPG.

Keep in mind that most launch titles or early-console-life RPGs have absolutely sucked in the past. Enchanted Arms is the first Japanese RPG for the 360 (except FFXI, which is a port), and it's a great game. Definitely give it a go.

As for the topic itself, here's what I've completed in '06 to date:

Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny (PS2)
Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories (PS2)
Enchanted Arms (360)
Final Fantasy XI (main plot) (PC)
Final Fantasy XI: Chains of Promathia (PC)
Kingdom Hearts II (PS2)
LostMagic (DS)
Shadow Hearts: From the New World (PS2)
SpellForce 2: Shadow Wars (PC)
Steambot Chronicles (PS2)
Stella Deus (PS2)
Tao's Adventure: Curse of the Demon Seal (DS)
Xenosaga III: Also Sprach Zarathustra (PS2)
2629  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Baten Kaitos Origins on: October 12, 2006, 02:37:03 AM

funny that I just spent a whole hour arguing with you about the merits of one MonolithSoft-developed title, but we're both going to (hopefully) be fully enjoying another one.

Within the first hour already, the plot looks to be very fast-paced and exciting. Hopefully it doesn't have the almost mandatory slooooooooooow middle section.

2630  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Xenosaga Episode III: Also Sprach Zarathustra on: October 12, 2006, 02:21:51 AM
The Japanese really don't understand Christianity.


add yourself as part of the audience for the rant I posted above:

*takes in a deep breath* ... *exhales the breath and prepares for a sermon filled with curse words*

Go take an introductory anthropology course, asshole. Who in God's good and holy name are YOU to suggest that a Japanese person is unable to comprehend the intricacies of Judaism, Christianity, or any other Western religion? You ethnocentric little twat! Get some brains and come back when you're ready to talk sensibly!

Let me reiterate:

all because someone grew up in another culture, that doesn't mean they cannot take the time to study it. It seems to me that Takahashi's understanding of Judeo-Christianity is far beyond the "Evangelion lite" many chalk it up to be. The deeper theme of sacrifice and redemption is written ALL OVER Xenosaga (whereas it's hardly found in Evangelion)...basically, as one who has steeped himself in Western religion since day one, I think it's safe to say that I can judge Tetsuya Takahashi as one who "gets it."

2631  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Xenosaga Episode III: Also Sprach Zarathustra on: October 12, 2006, 02:17:50 AM
But really, saying I probably "don't get it" just because I have many other preferable sources for dwelling into "human issues", is just, well, cheap?

It certainly would be. That's why I said:

I think you either don't get it or else you think you're above it.

Which is why YOU said:

Honestly, I am above these video game attempts of depth. I mean, if I want to determine the "meaning of my existence", I won't look for it in a video game. I can think of many other sources that I would rather look up to.

So I don't know what that final jab in your last post was all about...

Anyway, that's great that you think you're above a "videogame" attempt at depth. What Xenosaga does is take normal, even shallow characters, with their own sets of motives and wills, and meshes them into a plot that looks not entirely different from what we see today.

Certainly there is *nothing* groundbreaking about any statement or character revelation in the entirety of Xenosaga. Xenosaga is built on history, culture, art, philosophy, and religion. It is a collection of allusions (not ILLusions, ALLusions) with the framework of an average Sci-Fi story.

Let's take a look at your criticisms:

Shion pseudo convoluted relationship with her brother is typical pretentious nonsense. Typical common sense and cliché disguised into profound human emotions; I hardly think a game with characters like that idiot who is in love with Shion - Alex or whatever - and that robot maker is serious enough to make me think about the "meaning of my life", not to mention Jr with his stupid lines. There are too many stupid characters to mention. I would also like to mention - and I am sure I am not the first one to empathize that - that nonsensical and confusing biblical, philosophical or whatever references hardly account for a truly deep storyline.

Let's begin with the obvious jab: thank God you're not the one writing scripts for any videogames. I don't even know what the first semicolon is there for, as the two sentences don't seem to have any common ground.

Now then, let's break this bit of stream-of-consciousness complaint down into pieces and consider what it is you have in mind:

Shion pseudo convoluted relationship with her brother is typical pretentious nonsense.

Refer back to the quoted definition of "pretentious." You're using the word well out of context. The player is not made to assume that Shion's strained relationship with Jin is some all-powerful, all-consuming force that drives the story. It's one element of the story. You may not like the way in which it is executed, but it captures one of the more fundamental problems of human nature: sibling rivalry. This part of the storyline is not meant to be some incredible display of human depth or emotion; rather, it exists to help further along character development. The reasons for their strained relationship are fleshed out in the final chapter, by the way, and the situation is resolved in a way that is definitely moving, to say the least. This isn't your typical soap opera, the sort of thing that one *may* be qualified to call "pretentious."

Typical common sense and cliché disguised into profound human emotions;

You're the one who tacked on the idea that these human emotions are "profound," not the creators of the game. Indeed, they are the stuff of everyday life. The difference between this game and most others that emphasize story is that this game has a plot that considers the *worth* of these everyday "common sense and cliché" events...are they even worth having around? Is humanity worthy of existing if all it amounts to are these consumerists with sentimental drivel leaking out of their lips? It's a very important question to consider, and not at all pretentious!

I hardly think a game with characters like that idiot who is in love with Shion - Alex or whatever - and that robot maker is serious enough to make me think about the "meaning of my life"

It's Allen, and "that robot maker" is Kevin (just to clear up who I'm about to talk about...). The substory regarding Shion and her two possible mates (Kevin, who supposedly died, and Allen, who is exhorbitantly effeminate and bashful) is not within itself something that should make you think about the meaning of life. This argument is essentially a non-sequiter and otherwise nonsense. That wasn't the point of my statement, nor does it follow any sound line of argument.

The purpose of the little love triangle, again, fleshes itself out in the third title. Up until then, I too was annoyed to death by Allen; he, however, becomes a major player by the end, and is someone with whom many "underdogs" and "hopeless romantics" may sympathize. And, there's nothing wrong with that. As for Kevin, his story alone is worth checking into; he holds an interesting past.

not to mention Jr with his stupid lines.

All because the game is deep doesn't mean all the characters have to be scholars. Jr. represents raw aggression: the kind of kid who will shoot first and ask questions later. As a person, he too plays an important role in the tale that Takahashi weaves. That doesn't mean Jr. has to sound like frickin' Nietszche himself! (indeed, Nietszche is quoted more often by the villains, including Margulis in the first episode and Wilhelm throughout the series).

There are too many stupid characters to mention.

Giving up, are we? Let me rattle off some not-so-stupid characters, and why I think they aren't stupid.

Albedo -- so you have the ability (or curse) to keep yourself essentially immortal. You regrow all body parts, including head and heart. One day, you discover that: oh crap, I'm the only one who does this! As a result, you go crazy and begin to despise your creator, your friends, everyone. Albedo's motives are definitely what you could call "deep" and certainly not "pretentious." He's one of the best villains in the series, and his redemption is probably the most beautiful (though Virgil's is also good).

Febronia -- alright, we have a woman who was essentially created in a lab. She's one of the "realians," and she's been built with a purpose. However, regardless of the purpose her creators intend for her to have, her will is one of a peacekeeper: gentle, loving, healing. She and her "sisters" (Cecily and Cathe) represent something that is indeed beautiful about the human spirit. If you're missing the point here, then maybe you *aren't* above it but rather *below* it.

MOMO -- I could draw similarities to Febronia and MOMO as they are both realians (people designed with specific purposes). However, I think MOMO's most important aspect is that she has been modeled as a replacement for a naturally-born girl who died: Sakura Mizrahi. Joachim, the father of Sakura and creator of MOMO, is an insightful character in and of himself. But MOMO is special because she knows that her existence is "second-rate;" yet she remains optimistic with her attempts to get to know her mother and learn about her father. She may have a whiny voice actress, but as a character she is certainly a worthwhile member of the cast.

Ziggy -- it's unfortunate that pretty much ALL of Ziggy's past is buried in a cell phone game that won't come to the US. Luckily, it all gets fleshed out in XS3's massive database (it's almost a book in and of itself!). But...the man essentially committed suicide, then thanks to some organ donor program was forced back to life. Here we have a man who hates his former self and tries to repress his memories, to the point where he can't even remember why he took his own life. But the reasons are there, and of course, they come out before the series ends. Gee, sounds like such a stupid character to me!

Note that very few of these character bios make them sound like "original" concepts. In our day and age, it's very difficult to invent ANYTHING truly original (assuming you're a Christian, which it seems you would be based on your post, you should know this: Ecclesiastes claims there is nothing new under the sun). What makes these characters so wonderful is what they say, what they choose to do, and what they are forced to experience in Takahashi's fictional realm.

I would also like to mention - and I am sure I am not the first one to empathize that - that nonsensical and confusing biblical, philosophical or whatever references hardly account for a truly deep storyline.

Well, that's great that you can feel free to label the references as "nonsensical" and "confusing," but until you take the time to flesh out what it is that makes them nonsensical or confusing, your point is invalid.

As a pre-emptive strike, here's a look at what makes the religious and philosophical references of Xenosaga TRULY deep and worthwhile for the thinking person:

the two key philosophers in Xenosaga are Nietszche and Jung. Nietszche's prime argument was that, if God does not exist (as it was apparent to him that God was a creation of human consciousness), then there is no higher power governing humanity, and humans ought to consider themselves free to do as they please. A true Nietszchian "villain" in modern pop culture may be Voldemort, who tells Harry in the first book/film that "there is no such thing as good or evil, only power and those to weak to take it!" Similar statements are made by Margulis, a power-driven man who is blinded by his own religion. As a character, he himself is a paradoxical man who subscribes to religion and allthewhile puts himself in a place similar to Nietszche. Luckily, that paradox irons itself out in the end when Margulis learns his religion really was a fabrication, much like Nietszche predicted.

Jung's theories are used much more practically, such as to explain the existences of the specialized URTVs (Jr. Albedo and Gaignun), or to talk about collective consciousness and the nature of the U.M.N.. Takahashi's concept of God, if there is one, is one of a generic "existence" that is all and touches all. Call it pantheism, call it New Age mysticism...whatever it is, it's largely based on Jung's modern concepts.

As for the religious references, feel free to just name one and then tell me how it's nonsensical. There are plenty, but anyone who takes the time to think about them ought to see how they enhance the story rather than convolute it.

Let's look further at what you said!

Really, you think Jr's "I hate you" lines are showing some kind of revolutionary display of human feelings? Come on, give me a break.

No, I won't give you a break. Those lines are not a revolutionary display of human feelings, and I never said they were. They are a display of human feelings, but they are certainly not revolutionary: nor are they meant to be. Jr.'s anger, if you weren't following, is generally roused by the villains to unleash a "Red Dragon" wave within Jr. that can be used for all sorts of lovely destructive purposes. The real-life application here is that allowing yourself to go out-of-control may make you more powerful, but when you are not in control of your own will, someone else may freely make use of you with their own will. It's a common lesson, but it doesn't hurt to have it as a lesson within Xenosaga...does it?

Or KOS-MOS whole "I am a robot but I have feelings", surely that's a ground breaking theme... I think not.

It's not a groundbreaking theme. It's an archetype. We see it in Pinocchio and plenty of stories before that as well. Is there a problem with Monolith Soft using this archetype to help the storyline move into even more interesting territory? (I am refering to what happens in XS3 here...).

Well, it is beyond me how people may find some games to be so serious and full of philosophical meaning.

Generally, people who do find it are looking for it. I confess, I'm one of them. You can find meaning (or ascribe meaning) to all sorts of things. Even if you don't like to do it, it's probably good for any person to try it as an exercise in thought and...dare I say it...belief.

Who is this Takahashi, what he knows about my religion anyway? He is just a nobody when it comes to these themes, and I don't give a damn to his pretentious and superficial outlook about such issues totally alien to Japanese Culture.

*takes in a deep breath* ... *exhales the breath and prepares for a sermon filled with curse words*

Go take an introductory anthropology course, asshole. Who in God's good and holy name are YOU to suggest that a Japanese person is unable to comprehend the intricacies of Judaism, Christianity, or any other Western religion? You ethnocentric little twat! Get some brains and come back when you're ready to talk sensibly!

Who is Tetsuya Takahashi? Well, Tetsuya Takahashi was a former Square employee who started in graphics (for SNES titles including FFV, FFVI, Seiken Densetsu 3, and Chrono Trigger), but eventually caught a break and created Xenogears. He then went on to found Monolith Soft and did created the Xenosaga series. (source: wikipedia).

As for Takahashi's knowledge of religion and philosophy, I only wish I had the resources to pay for the flights so that the two of you could meet and discuss things, because I'm sure the man knows a hell of a lot more than you do.

That's why I like storylines which rely on surprising major plot twists, exciting moments and the like, because I don't care for the whole superficial way they treat issues much beyond what can be encompassed in a game, which should only entertain.

And HERE surfaces the fundamental difference between you and me. You believe games can and should ONLY entertain. They are essentially time-killers. They cannot contribute to the betterment of humanity, and they sure as hell shouldn't be called "art", right? Well here's my take on it:

Videogames, particularly RPGs, have text. You know, writing? Though different from a book, these videogames can and do tell stories. Many a non-fiction writer has pointed out that some of the strongest points, some of the best arguments, are made better through a work of fiction than by some sort of philosophical diatribe. David Hume wrote fictional dialogues, Camus presented his philosophy through very depressing novels, and our old pal Nietszche was certainly fond of switching (without warning) between himself as the speaker and some fictional "other" as the speaker.

If a story can impact the way others think, and if literature can be considered art, so too can videogames encompass this feature. The presentation of a story is only one facet to a videogame, which is a multi-faced multimedia experience, covering not only the realm of literature, but also fine art (graphics), music, and tactile stimulation (the controller in your hands). If all of this is created and used only to entertain, then we are all going to hell in a handbasket. You sound like Cipher from the Matrix, you know? Just give me a good time while I'm alive so I don't have to think about how shitty my life really is. I can only pray that videogames (particularly RPGs) will be seen as something more than sheer escapism by our descendants.

That's like Salvatore, if he would just drop trying to sound smart and philosophical with his skewed vision on good and evil, which Drizzt is always tiring ourselves with, and would just focus on high adventure and battles descriptions - which is what he is good at - I would enjoy his books a lot more.

Pleasure is the ultimate goal, then? (If only I could enjoy his books more!!) There's a weighty question for you. Maybe Salvatore's skewed vision on good and evil *aren't* worthwhile, but Salvatore is just one man. I don't have much experience with his work anyway, but I think it's safe to say that you present yourself as more of a refined hedonist than one who has genuine respect or understanding of the arts.

(Surely, that's quite a bold assertion to make, given I only know you from a few rambling paragraphs made against one particular videogame. But, should you want to prove me wrong, go ahead!)

A final question for you:

I mean, if I want to determine the "meaning of my existence," I won't look for it in a video game. I can think of many other sources that I would rather look up to.

List them, and tell me what makes them superior, to say, Xenosaga, which is essentially a story written by a fairly intelligent Japanese man and then incorporated into a videogame which has its own elements of strategy and puzzle-solving.

And indeed, I never said anything about Xenosaga aiding you in DETERMINING the meaning of your existence. Certainly, I would hope I'm not saying that the meaning of life can be found by playing Xenosaga. Far from it. But it certainly does stimulate us to ponder the question, and it perenially reminds us that, however much despair we face, it IS a question worth asking from time to time!

Unless you take time to answer me coherently, I think we can all assume that I take your low opinion of the series far more seriously than you would like me to. In the end, I'd still say that it's egg on your face for making plenty of poorly supported statements.

OMFG I'm in a message board argument guyz! That means it HAS to degrade into a flame war and never get us anywhere! (oh wait...behind the computer we're all still people...let's have this mean something, k?).

2632  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Xenosaga Episode III: Also Sprach Zarathustra on: October 11, 2006, 09:21:17 PM
from dictionary.com:

characterized by assumption of dignity or importance.
OR making an exaggerated outward show; ostentatious.

o rly?

It seems to me that people have given up on the idea of even attempting to determine one's meaning for existence. The topics discussed in Xenosaga are weighty, but they are given due treatment. Same goes for the philosophical and religious symbolism.

If you'd like to explain to me what, from the first two episodes, made you feel that Xenosaga has an exaggerated outward show or was characterized by *assumption* of dignity or importance, go ahead. As for me, I think you either don't get it or else you think you're above it. Either way, don't forget that you're first and foremost a human, which is what Takahashi's Xeno-stories are all about.

2633  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Xenosaga Episode III: Also Sprach Zarathustra on: October 11, 2006, 04:56:57 PM
Do consider that Wilhelm's character may be a manifestation of both:

in other words, if Cain wanders forever, "Judas" could've been Cain spying out on Yeshua when he came around.

I don't think Takahashi wanted to link Wilhelm to any particular person, but if we WERE to link him, I feel the Wandering Jew myth works best. He's a guy that's been around forever and seems to know the inner workings of the universe, as well as God's plans for the universe.

I'd also like to point out Wilhelm's obsession with Wagner. In Ep. I, the database made it a point to let the reader know that ALL Wagnerian operas were tragedies. I think Wilhelm's plan for eternal recurrence is a sort of tragic ending: it was the "best he could do" to defy God and stop the heat death thing from happening.

A final link-up for Wilhelm being Cain. Don't you think Abel looks like a MUCH younger version of Wilhelm? In other words, Wilhelm could be Abel's older brother. When U-DO first speaks to Shion in the early parts of the game, the voice actor is definitely the same person that does Wilhelm.

To allow this sort of mythological setup, Takahashi is definitely warping the traditional understanding of the Judeo-Christian human origin story. It's only to be expected. After all, Evangelion twisted it by incorporating 18 angels and Lilith. It works just as well to make Abel and Cain the key players in the history of humanity's struggle for survival, purpose/meaning, and a struggle to either make amends with or destroy God.

ALL OF THAT SAID: what other RPG allows for such deep discussion? I can't think of many! That's why the game doesn't suck *in the least*, and people who say it does suck have forgotten (or never learned) what it means to think critically.

2634  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Xenosaga Episode III: Also Sprach Zarathustra on: October 11, 2006, 02:56:53 PM
Answering as many questions as I can...

Of course they don't give an obvious explanation to WHO Wilhelm is. The fact that he's been around forever, AND that he has some power to control Mary Magdalene's will, seems to make him someone mighty important. Judas is a good guess, but may I suggest --- CAIN? Particularly, Cain in the "wandering Jew" legend that says he lives forever getting to observe things. Cain was a major character in Xenogears and they used that same idea there (Cain as Wandering Jew was ALSO in Evangelion). Also, Cain using/abusing Abel looks pretty good. The only thing it doesn't explain is why Wilhelm had all sorts of crazy knowledge and power... Oh wait, if you've been around since the beginning of time you'd probably know a lot of stuff, and you'd probably have it out for God and his plans too! The eternal recurrence plan was a fine idea too, IMO.

As Cauton said, Abel is described as U-DO in physical form. What you need to wrap your mind around before determining who *any* characters are is...WHO or WHAT is really "God?" For this, I recommend an old and obscure essay found on rpgamer.com about Jewish Mysticism, the Zohar, the "soul of the soul," and the nature of God in Xenogears. I think Abel is a physical manifestation of God's power, but not necessarily God's will. After all, the poor guy could only define himself by however anyone else defined him. He seemed to be a being that lacked his own will.

Nephilim, I understand her to be something like a guardian angel. She's also wearing Elly's cross pendant. Who Nephilim "is" is simple--she's Nephilim. She's an angel, and she does cool stuff.

Shion being "the maiden," eh? Since the moment that Xenosaga 1 was first ANNOUNCED and they gave character details, I immediately thought "Shion" was an Engrish way of saying "Scion." That is, she's a descendant of the line of Joseph and Mary (or...Yeshua and Mary Magdalene?!?). That would explain why both her mother and her could be in contact with U-DO and such.

At the end, most of the universe did get its butt kicked by the pulse through the U.M.N.. Those that survived, survived. And the U.M.N. disappeared (got sucked in with chaos on their path back to Lost Jerusalem). The U.M.N. was just built on top of U-DO waves, which are something like God or God's will (God as a "wave existence" rather than an intelligent sentient being is a major part of Takahashi's story).

The Testament...yeah, I dunno. You don't need a lengthy explanation. It's people who died that got brought back. Chances are, Wilhelm found their consciousness in the U.M.N. and gave them hip new bodies with awesome colorful robes.

The Wilhelm/Kevin ending is DEFINITELY like the Vader/Emperor ending. But that's cool. It's an archetypal story on how to redeem a villain that you want to like.

"How did Yuriev get ahold of Abel? Was that ever explained?"

No one knows when Abel showed up, but thanks to the series having to SKIP some games, we missed out on that. We know that Grimoire Verum was out to get Abel and/or Nephilim, and that the federation saw fit to protect Abel. That's how Juli ended up being the kid's "babysitter." From there, Yuriev just gets to use him since he's in charge of the new Merkabah/Omega project.

"I didn't think chaos was Jesus. During one of the cutscenes you see chaos and mary with the other desciples listening to a man with a beard and long hair....who is obviously supposed to physically represent Jesus. But yes, wilhelm did call chaos jeshua."

chaos = Yeshua. There's no doubt about that. The REAL question is, what's the historical reality? Lots of people think that the orthodox interpretation of the life and death of Jesus Christ is an inaccurate picture. Though I personally disagree, that doesn't mean that the other writings aren't VERY interesting. The Gospels of Thomas, Mary Magdalene, Peter, the "Infancy Gospel," and other stories tell different stories. We also know that many "Gnostic" Christians in 100-300 A.D. believed that "Jesus" (Yeshua) and "Christ" (God's son, the savior) were actually two separate entities. Using that interpretation, it may explain why the storytellers of Xenosaga chose to put chaos and Mary Magdalene in the crowd listening to bearded Jesus-looking guy rather than having chaos be the preacher. It's confusing, be we can assume that Yeshua really was "God's son", as Mary Magdalene is refered to as the "Partner to the Messiah." All this planned BEFORE the DaVinci Code. Woot!

Most of the "unanswered questions" don't have obvious answers that you can read about in the database. BUT, a good understanding of the material will give you reasonable explanations...kind of like with Eva, Lain, and other cool stories.

Somewhat-unrelated, I recently saw an episode of X-Play reviewing Xenosaga III. They were such uneducated morons. They didn't understand the depth of the game, so they called it "pretentious" instead of deep. LOL...morons.

2635  Media / Miscellaneous Games / Level 5 announces new game: A... DS Graphic Adventure? on: October 11, 2006, 02:22:52 PM
freaking Level 5. No end to the surprises.

Also, we do cover graphic adventures here at the 'Fan, so you could've posted this in Console RPGs had you pleased. :)

2636  Media / Anime, TV, and Movies / Recently Viewed Movies on: October 11, 2006, 02:11:19 AM
The Cat Returns - I'm trying to see more of the Ghibli films, and my friend bought a load of them so I'm of course taking advantage

Wait...Cat Returns = Studio Ghibli? O rly?

I thought Cat Returns was directed/written by Hayao Miyazaki but decidedly NOT Studio Ghibli. It's a completely different animation studio, isn't it?

That's what's kept me from watching it up to this point. The animation looks like Hana Yori Dango...character designs make me feel nauseous.

I just saw The Departed today. Holy fuck it was good. The movie is long but I never found myself looking at my watch. There were no draggy parts at all. The acting was great; Leo in particular. He hasn't been this great since Titanic (joking). Actually I hope he gets nominated for an Oscar. Everyone go out and see it.

Just went and saw this one with my wife tonight, based on a friend's recommendation. Agreed, it was freaking fantastic. Quick question cuz I blanked at the end:

who killed Matt Damon in the last scene? It was Wahlberg's character right? The Digman or Digham or whatever his name was...if that was who killed him, how did he have the info about the character to know he ought to be killed...or was it just a personal vendetta? Also, why do we never see the girl open the letter from DiCapprio? We watch her write his name on it, as though it will come up again in the film, and then it doesn't...I guess I'm just not used to Scorcese endings...

Also watched the 3 Sailor Moon movies (R, S, and SuperS) with my wife out of boredom. Made me smile. :P

2637  The Rest / General Discussions / Words fail me on: October 11, 2006, 02:04:54 AM
This is why some people should be forced to have a license to breed. -_-

If only the screening process wouldn't be completely invasive and insensitive to the rest of the population...

yeah, it'd be nice if we could stop certain people from having that basic human right, since they seem so inclined to f*ck up even the tiniest bit of responsibility...or rather, common sense...human dignity...all that good stuff.

I'm still bummed about this news story.

2638  Media / Multiplayer RPGs / FFXI: Worth the money? on: October 11, 2006, 02:00:19 AM
I think FFXI is absolutely worth it! ...if you have 4 months of your life to give away freely...

Seriously, I've loved my experience with the game. The thing that drew me into it, the one thing that made it stand out in the mass of MMOs out there, is a linear storyline woven into the huge open-ended gameplay.

The original title allowed you to ally with one of three nations, and each nation has its own ten-chapter story to follow. In the middle the story is the same, and one can say they've technically "beaten" the core of FFXI when they hit chapter 6.

There are also three expansions, one of which has not yet finished revealing its story-based "mission" line.

The first expansion has a short storyline, but requires that you be an extremely high level before you even begin it.

The second expansion, Chains of Promathia, puts "level caps" on missions as you go through so that you can level up a new character as you progress through the missions. I felt like Chains of Promathia, as a storyline all its own, was a worthy RPG simply on the merits of a great storyline and *EXTREMELY* challenging gameplay.

Like all MMOs, you need good people that aren't stuck-up douchebags to help you along the way. In turn, you must also be a non-douchebag and help others out too. AND, like all MMOs, it'll cost literal months of your life.

But I've loved FFXI, and I plan to complete all of the expansions' storylines before I give it up.

If you're interested, give it a chance. Like Parn said, the game's reached its climax and the populations will go downhill from here...but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy it on the way. New people are still signing up for it every day.

2639  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Neverwinter Nights 2 on: October 11, 2006, 01:54:06 AM
my feelings are similar to Daniel's. For starters, I'd like to pick up the Neverwinter Nights "Diamond" pack and catch up on the expansions before I even touch NN2.

But yeah...we'll see. It's also low priority for me...but not as low as most other PC RPGs. :P

2640  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Baten Kaitos Origins on: October 11, 2006, 01:51:08 AM
Though I only experienced the first title secondhand (watched a friend play it...like the rest of you, loved the plot twist, mad they didn't hold out with it to the end...), I decided to purchase the second one today (we have yet to get reviewable GameCube titles...that will hopefully change with the Wii).

I didn't read all the code text of this thread cuz I don't want the game spoiled for me right away...but I am looking forward to it. The general lack of GameCube RPGs gives me the hope that this one won't be terrible. I'm generally a lenient critic, but I have let out some major "trash talk" against certain games in the last year (Metal Saga, Tao's Adventure...)...we'll see if BK2 joins the ranks or can earn a B-ish score. I doubt the game will win my whole-hearted affections, but I won't know until I'm done with it.

Which, thanks to the postponement of my son's birth, should be soon.

Hope everyone that bought the game is enjoying it!

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