Monthly Archives: April 2011

Adding to the Backlog – Ratchet: Deadlocked, Secret Agent Clank, King’s Field: The Ancient City, Myst III: Exile

Yup, four more games. How did it happen? Well, let me tell you, inquistive Grinding Down reader.

GameStop is currently running their Power Saver Sale to make more room on their shelves for all things shiny and current. That means a lot of used PlayStation 2, GameCube, and GameBoy Advance games need to go, and as we’re all aware, these sorts of stores have plenty of stock available to push. Outdoing their buy two, get one free deal, the current Power Saver Sale is all about buying two, getting two for free. That’s, uh, an extra free game! Not too shabby.

I went to the GameStop by the Leaky Cauldron the other night, but didn’t see anything worth grabbing. Still, this sale is too good to let swim by so I decided to try again, this time visiting the closest one to my workplace. Went out on my lunch break and found both of the Ratchet & Clank games for super cheap, around $7.99 each. I scanned the shelves and bins for other titles I knew I wanted, such as Ico, more point-and-click adventures (if any exist for the PS2), Suikoden III, any of the Yakuza games, and maybe a copy of Psychonauts if I was lucky. Alas, none of those titles were discovered. The best I could find was Myst III: Exile and King’s Field: The Ancient City, both around $2.99 each, meaning these would be my freebies for the Power Saver Sale. I’ve never played any Myst games, but I did read one of the books a long time ago; from what I can tell, it’s kind of like a first-person clicking game. And I guess King’s Field is a first-person RPG starring people with deformed hands…I dunno. Going to go into it with completely fresh eyes and give it a shot.

I am, however, most excited about the Ratchet & Clank games. That series, mainly the original trilogy, had some of the best gameplay to offer on the PlayStation 2, and I had just started moving over to new consoles when the spin-offs and tie-ins came out. These are sure to be a blast, and all that remains for PlayStation 2 playable titles in the series is Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters.

To be honest, I’m getting a little bored with my current Xbox 360 selections. Considering that I recently went back to a five-year old game simply for Achievements, something needs spicing up. My videogaming, that is. And if I’m going to go back and play five-year-old games, I might as well go play some good ones from the PlayStation 2. Well, hopefully good.

The sale ends on April 24, 2011 so get to it. Plenty of great games still available for all three systems. I suggest you go searching, too.

Games Completed in 2011, #13 – Monkey Island 2 Special Edition: LeChuck’s Revenge

So I beat this game. Big Whoop, right?

Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge is a game I wish I had played sooner. Like, maybe when I was in high school or back when I dreamed of being a plucky wannabe pirate. Alas, I only discovered it after a Special Edition was created, released for the Xbox 360 Arcade, and then put on sale a few weeks ago. Don’t worry; I’ve already said three Hail Marys and two Our Fathers, and even then I know that’s not enough repenting yet.

In this sequel to The Secret of Monkey Island–which I’ve also not played yet, grrr–Guybrush Threepwood is searching for the legendary treasure known as Big Whoop. Unfortunately, during this hunt he unknowingly resurrects his arch-nemesis LeChuck, who he defeated in the previous adventure, as a zombie. There’s also some mini-plot thing about a love interest named Elaine Marley, but that never seemed like a vital focal point of the game. This Big Whoop search will span several islands, taking Guybrush back and forth as he collect items, solves puzzles, and interacts with a host of memorable, charming characters.

This Special Edition is more than just a re-skinned game. Besides the updated artwork, which is simply gorgeous, there’s re-worked controls to help players not familiar with the SCUMM engine get along much easier. Right-clicking on an item or person brings up a wheel of options, such as LOOK AT Wally, TALK TO Wally, or even the dreaded PULL Wally. That might seem like a weird option, but I suggest selecting it, as now, thanks to the addition of voice acting, every selection elicits a smarmy response from Mr. Threepwood. And the voice acting is stellar, with every character having a strong personality that is instantly captured upon speaking. My personal favorites include Wally B. Feed, Largo LaGrande, and the constantly quieting librarian. You can even listen to this awesome voicework with the original, retro graphics and gameplay. Another addition that long-time fans are probably super excited about is that Monkey Island creators Ron Gilbert, Tim Schafer and Dave Grossman recorded commentary to go with the game as you played; I did not give this a listen yet.

The puzzles range from obviously easy to eye-stabbingly frustrating, and for those that need an extra nudge in the right direction, two new features can be used: a hint button and item highlighting. I didn’t use either to unlock Achievements come the endgame (I know, I’m a whore), but they are there if need be. For the tougher puzzles, mainly all of Part II, I had to use the Internet every now and then. Some of them hurt my head, and some of them proved almost impossible, like when you had to give LeChuck a hanky a split-second before he zapped you with some voodoo magic. That one took me at least fifteen tries to get the timing right.

Monkey Island 2 Special Edition: LeChuck’s Revenge is both a fun and funny game. Entering a new screen and clicking on everything is thrilling, and I mean that as seriously as possible. I just wanted to know what Guybrush thought about everything, whether it was a stool, a parrot, or even monkey playing a piano. Exploration and an eye for detail is what’s important here, and while the story felt a little rushed during the final showdown, it was wonderful to experience. I have the need now for more point-and-click action, and it looks like I’ve missed out on quite a collection of SCUMM-based games. However, I’ve been warned to steer clear of Escape from Monkey Island. No promises, but I will certainly try.

Giving the warrior class a chance in Oblivion

Still yearning for some epic RPGing, I booted up Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion last night. Now, I haven’t touched this game since I went on an Achievement run last May to reach the top rank in the Arena questline. That’s almost an entire year ago for those good with the math.

There’s plenty of Achievements left to get, namely those for the Thieves Guild, Dark Brotherhood, Mages Guild, Fighters Guild, and the Shivering Isles expansion. I figured that it’d be healthy for me to break my mold and play as a non-sneaky character, someone that likes to charge at his/her enemies, swinging a large sword or mallet, wielding heavy armor with pride, grunting from too much weight all around.

I decided to just make a new character, and so I went with a Warrior build:

Unafraid of light weaponry, they plow into the fray with little regard for injury. Masters of all melee tools, they put little faith in the magical arts.

Specialization: Combat
Attributes: Endurance, Strength
Skills: Armorer
Hand to Hand
Heavy Armor

His name is Hodor, and I made him look like an albino monk with some blue hues to his skin. His plan–not mine–is to get some great heavy armor and cover up all things hideously discolored. Then he’s going to go join the Fighters Guild to help better himself, to show the world he’s more than just a freak of nature, that his swing is as swift as any Blades’, and that nobody will get in his way. After that, I might be done with him, I might not. I guess in my mind it’s easier to build characters specifically for these themed questlines rather than try to steer a character in a whole new direction to go from ruling the Fighters Guild to the Mages Guild.

I played through the game’s tutorial last night, getting a feel for the game again. After exiting the prison’s sewers, I took out a nearby crab that was looking at Hodor crossly and then saved my progress, quitting to the dashboard. That was for a reason, as I wanted to start watching Pineapple Express before it got too late, but I’ll try to get back to it tonight and start Hodor’s career in the Fighters Guild. According to my Achievements list, I already unlocked the first three for this questline, but I don’t remember any of the quests associated with them so hopefully this will be like a fresh take on it all.

30 Days of Gaming, #11 – Gaming system of choice


This one was a no-brainer despite loving many various systems over the years. In fact, I find my experience with console and portable gaming systems to be interesting, if nothing short of a mixed bag. I grew up on neighbor’s NES and then my own SNES (Nintendo fanboy), then saved up my money as a young lad by scooping ice cream, busing tables, and doing clerical work for a PlayStation and PlayStation 2 (Sony fanboy), and then ended up doing a bunch of cartoon commission work (I drew cartoons of all the authors, not the cover art in case you were curious) to get enough money for an Xbox 360 (Microsoft fanboy) when I was in my mid-20s. Along the way I also had a GameBoy, a Nintendo DS, and now a Nintendo 3DS. This is more than just a roll call, as I want it to be clear that I’ve dabbled in multiple videogame pools. Which one reigns supreme? Why, the one with the double screen.

My journey to getting a DS started on a whim; one day, I just decided to go get one, and so off I went, and to demonstrate what happens next I’m posting some comics from the MyLifeComics archive:

Wow, I can’t believe I got this thing like four years ago.

So I picked up a newly minted Nintendo DS Lite, a copy of Mario Kart DS, and an extra charger. I was unaware that the system itself came with a charger in its box so now I have two. Wee. Thanks, mindless Target employee for the tip. Upon arriving home in my teeny tiny studio apartment, I curled up in my comfy chair, flipped the system’s lid open, turned it on, and heard–for the very first time–a sound that would soon provide me with comfort, stability, friendship, and sanity. It went like doo-doou-doooooo. I quickly got the feel for the system thanks to some heated online races in Mario Kart DS, and slowly grew my collection, picking up a range of titles from Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin to Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords to Flash Focus. There is literally a game genre for everyone. But the system wouldn’t hit home for awhile until I discovered its not-so-dirty secret: it loved roleplaying games.

Obviously, I’m a huge fan of RPGs, and over the years the DS has put up an excellent fight against the PlayStation 2 for the trophy of MOST RPGS EVER. Seriously, you can’t flick a stylus at a GameStop shelf without hitting a Nintendo DS RPG these days. And besides RPGs, the system has a slew of gaming experiences you can find nowhere ese: Professor Layton’s puzzles and hidden coins, Picross 3D‘s mind-numbing puzzles, The World Ends With You and its duel-screen action, Scribblenauts with its wordy fun, and so on. Many skeptics believed that the touchscreen was just a gimmick, that it wouldn’t work, but they all turned out to be wrong; it’s fun to touch the screen with the stylus, to control things and move them around, or flick them away.

Gaming on the go is a great idea, and this is literally that. The Nintendo DS Lite is perfect for pockets, with a good battery life and not being too heavy; the same cannot be said about its “upgrade,” the Nintendo 3DS. Ever since I graduated college, I’ve found myself constantly in my car, constantly traveling, constantly being away from all my creature comforts. Packing up the Xbox 360 every time I went down to my parents’ house was always a pain. Thankfully, with the Nintendo DS, I was able to bring a piece of gaming with me wherever I went.

This system of choice is also important to me for another reason. Seeing me play it so much and so often–and with such glee–convinced my mother to get one. I let her try out some of the minigames from the New Super Mario Bros. DS as we flew out to Arizona over the holidays to see my sister, and she fell in love with tapping the screen, especially during the minigame where you had to move colored bob-ombs into specific cages. Arriving in Arizona, we immediately headed out to a nearby Target (again with the Target!) to get her one. About a day later, my sister Bitsy also got one, and here’s the two of them at the zoo, “DSing it up” as I called it:

The Nintendo DS connected me with my sister and mom in a strange, new way, one that I never imagined. With Bitsy, we bonded over Animal Crossing: Wild World, entering each other’s worlds and sending each other gifts; it helped bridge the distance from Arizona to New Jersey, and was a nice thing to constantly keep up on each other over. For my mother, well…it opened up new branches of conversation. She checked Amazon for new games or asked me to keep an eye out for any titles she’d like; her favorites were puzzlers, the hidden objects kind, where the story was forgettable, but finding baseballs and irons and handcuffs in a jungle scene was amazingly addicting; she always wanted me to play the game she just beat, or help her past a tough part of her current one.

As human beings, we develop attachments to many things: people, places, smells, sounds, tastes, everything. It’s inevitable. And it’s not silly for me to feel such a connection to my DS Lite, which has, unfortunately, not gotten as much love over the past few weeks with the 3DS in the limelight. I will return to it, surely. Just writing this makes me feel guilty for such neglect. This mesh of circuit boards and chips and plastic bits and screens and d-pad that hurts my thumb after awhile has always been there for me, and in return I have treated it well. When that charge me red light comes on, I hop to it. I always place it in its carrying case, an early birthday gift for me from my mother, and I would never in a million years trade it in for money or store credit or the answer to the universe and everything else, no matter what. The Nintendo DS is my favorite gaming system, and will remain so for as long as I can make it happen. Please bury me with it.

Divinity II: The Dragon Knight Saga and the curse of the Gamebryo engine

Thank every single star in the divine sky for things like free, downloadable demos. Without such treasures, I might have actually gone out and paid money for Divinity II: The Dragon Knight Saga. Good thing I didn’t.

I’ve had a real hankering lately for a big RPG, especially a Western one. Something to really sink my teeth into and give up many hours on and grind until the day is done. That sort of experience, and unfortunately 11/11/11 is still far away, but it seemed like, from images and previews and even YouTube videos, that Divinity II: The Dragon Knight Saga could fit the bill. I mean, it’s a brand new release for the Xbox 360 at only $40.00 that promises over 80 hours worth of gaming in a fantasy land brimming with magic, dragons, and silver-eyed Slayers. Count me in, but I downloaded the demo because I wanted to make sure that there were no tiny text issues to deal with, which is a problem I had when trying out the Gothic IV demo earlier this year.

The good news is the text is perfectly readable for Divinity II: The Dragon Knight Saga. The bad news? Well, the game seems to be pretty terrible, especially for a current gen roleplaying adventure. Where to start? Well, it opens up with a little cinematic of an armorered man on a flying ship looking down at a city. Then it cuts to another man in the woods, preparing to take on a dragon. After that excitement, we get to…create a character. Sort of. We’re limited to picking a name, a gender, a hair style, a beard style, and a voice: I made Pickles look as close to me as possible and gave him a soldier’s tone. Yes, that’s right. Pickles. The greatest Slayer in all of Rivellon.

A woman with silver eyes is speaking to me about a ritual to become a Slayer. Her mouth is far too large for her face, and it does not move in sync with the words she is saying; it’s beyond distracting and makes me want to set her on fire. Graphically, she’s ugly, and I can see all the jagged polygon edges of her character build. After our chat is over, I get to finally control Pickles, and from his very first step forward I knew our journey together was over. See, the camera hangs behind him just so that you can only see him really from the waist up, giving the impression that he is either surfing, skating, or sliding along the grass, giving those rabbits a run for their money. I found no solution to this camera problem. Inside the local town, I spoke with some more ugly people who pointed me towards a waterfall where I’d meet some kind of mage. I did, and she gave me the memories of dragons and silver eyes, which allowed me to see the ghostly demon monster she was chatting with before I arrived. After that, well…I walked around a bit, punched a rabbit, and quit to the Xbox 360 dashboard–I’d seen enough.

A shame, really. There’s a lot of neat stuff here, and from what I’ve read online, a lot of neat stuff yet to come. Our hero gets his very own battle tower to upgrade in the same fashion as the hero’s castles in the Suikoden series? Aww, man. But the Gamebryo engine has its limitations, and it’s just a little shocking to see an RPG using this engine fall below such titles as Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion some five years later. The graphics felt subpar, the running and jumping animations are almost laughable, and the demo didn’t give me a lot to do but walk around in its stilted world. I will say that the voice acting was of good quality, but the constant talk of Slayers and Dragons and Dragon Knights and Dragon Slayers gets a little generic after a few minutes. Give me some detailed lore or get out.

New quest accepted! Delete this 1,9 gigs demo as soon as possible.

Does anyone know if Risen is any good? How about Two Worlds II? Don’t suggest Dragon Age II or Fable III as I know in my heart of hearts those games will just disappoint me greatly. I’m close to finishing up all those arcade games I bought some days ago and need a solid RPG to keep me busy.

Games Completed in 2011, #12 – Pilotwings Resort

So, I recently beat Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge, and it’s a game I definitely will have fun reviewing, seeing as it was so much fun to play. However, I did end up finishing Pilotwings Resort long before it–and finishing is a loose term, but we’ll get to that in a moment–meaning I should do these things in order and talk about flying around an island for a bit before we get to sailing from island back to island back to another island.

When I bought my Nintendo 3DS, I felt a great impulse to at least get a game with it. Games and systems, y’know. They kind of go together like…games and systems. Now, fighting games are okay in my book, but I already played a bunch of Street Fighter IV on my Xbox 360, and so the next game that jumped out to me as somewhat decent was Combat of Giant Dinosaur 3D. Nah, just kidding. That title is gonna be extinct faster that those reptilian beasts it represents. My pick was Pilotwings Resort, and I was even alerted by a friendly GameStop employee that I bought the last copy available then for the public lepers. Cool.

I’ve played a small amount of Wii Sports Resorts over the past few years. Or, I’ve at least watched Tara go for a jog around Wuhu Island plenty of times to get a feel for the place. It’s cartoony and safe and colorful and filled with all the staples of a luxury getaway resort, and Nintendo decided to revisit it with the Pilotwings Resort launch title, a game all about flying above, below, and all around. The game is basically a collection of flying challenges, with three standard vehicles to pilot: a biplane, rocket belt, and hang glider. Earning points and doing well in these events will net you stars, and once a certain amount of stars have been reached you can move on to the next group of challenges. These go from bronze difficulty to platinum. The challenges range from flying through hoops and shooting colored balloons to rescuing baby UFOs for the mothership and free-fallin’ in a squirrel suit. They last about a few minutes long each, and you can always replay them to better your score; unfortunately, that only matters for advancing forward as there’s no sort of online scoreboards in place. And don’t bother trying to get better at controlling the rocket belt; it’s brutal and cruel and powered by the blood of some great demon living deep beneath the island’s volcano.

After that, you’ll be able to enjoy some free flying around Wuhu Island. With some limitations, of course. You’re given a strict time limit and a goal of collecting a slew of items: rings, Mii trophies, balloons, so on. It always feels like once you get into the groove of flying around and collecting things, the time limit has just run out. So the time limit is just a way to force replayability into a game already lacking things to do. Plus, different items show up on the island depending on the vehicle you pilot and the time of day. It’s a little ridiculous.

Unfortunately, that’s it for the game in terms of things to do. The graphics are on par with its Wii first cousin, and the 3D works perfectly for me when just up a teeny tiny bit. I tried turning it all the way up, but quickly found myself disoriented, especially since I had to constantly look away from the top screen to the bottom screen for its handy map. The music’s fun and chirpy, especially when you make a great landing, but otherwise doesn’t stand out as anything perfect.

If Pilotwings Resort had been included free with the Nintendo 3DS–like Wii Sports was for the Nintendo Wii–it’d be a much better game. At $40.00, it’s not long enough to be enjoyable, and this plastic flight lands before you know it, right back in its case, right back in your box of games you’ve played and will probably never play again.

Fun and funny times with Guybrush Threepwood

Why did nobody tell me that Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge was one of the funniest pieces of videogame medium ever to be crafted? Well? What’s your big excuse?! Don’t tell me it’s because you lost your monocle either.

In truth, I guess I always knew it was a bit funny, seeing as it always came up in gaming forums and such as a good time. Yet I never got to play it, or any other entries in the series, and dang it, I’m now totally kicking myself. The writing is top-notch, with some of the best dialogue choices ever to be selected. Seriously, Tara and I spent minutes trying to decide if we wanted to Guybrush to say “I’ll BE back!” or “I’ll be BACK!” These things matter, people. And while the voice acting is new for the special Xbox Live remake and done with great personality, the writing remains the same text that was typed up way back in, uh, December 1991. It takes coconuts to do some of the things LucasArts did here, but without ’em, Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge would be a less special game; the fact that you can basically make Guybrush beg and plead for a shopkeeper’s item despite never getting it is beyond the call of duty, but oh so wonderful.

The game’s funny, but somewhere in the middle of Act II, the one where you have to find four map pieces for Big Whoop, I had to trade in laughing a few times for Googling walkthroughs. Some of these puzzles are just plain obtuse, and I have to imagine it was a real struggle eons ago when your best solution was to just click everything and then click everything on everything. More in-game clues would’ve been appreciated, and I’m not talking about the brand new hint addition, which I’m not using in order to unlock an Achievement come the credits. Speaking of those delicious pingers, here’s a couple Achievements I’ve unlocked too that I find to be pretty great:

Old School (5G): Switched to classic mode at least once

Five Minutes Later… (10G): Allowed Guybrush to die.

Call 9-1-1 (10G): Called the LucasArts helpdesk when walking through the jungle on Dinky Island.

All right, so we’re on the home stretch now actually. The final island, which is a mess of jungle paths. Just finally ended my little talk with Herman. Now I gotta take down LeChuck…again?

30 Days of Gaming, #10 – Best gameplay

I’m used to doing the same things over and over again, in true life and in videogames, and this never-ending cycle is a big part of why Grinding Down is called what it is because grinding is the art of repetition. However, and I doubt I’m alone here, I always prefer variety to the same ol’ in the end. Especially in terms of gameplay. Videogames that are simply fetch quest after fetch quest after fetch quest—like the latest DLC from Borderlands—are beyond boring, and I guess I find many FPS titles to be of the same ilk. You just, uh, shoot things. Pew pew pew. Cue credits.

So, the best gameplay is potpourri gameplay. And the best example of this made-up terminology is Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves.

In his third adventure, Sly Cooper and his brainy pal Bentley are trying to open the Cooper Vault on Kaine Island, which is said to hold the entire wealth of the Cooper family. However, Dr. M built a mean lair around the vault as he has gold coins for eyes. Sly will have to recruit a whole gaggle of people to help out with this end-all, be-all robbery, some who are actually old enemies from the Fiendish Five. Each mystery person recruitment arc serves as a level, with it usually beginning on some light reconnaissance before the team whips up a battle plan and then acts upon it. Set in an open hub world, Sly and his friends will do more than just go from place to place; they’ll have to sneak on rooftops, win skyplane races, row boats through sewers, mess with security systems, lure animals and people around using multiple choice answers, climb windmills, successfully parachute to the ground, drive an RC car, shoot darts at incoming rockets, take pictures, steer a van, fire cannons, discover hidden treasures, recover sea-diving equipment, and more.

::deep exhale::

I wasn’t just saying and more to end the sentence sooner than later. There’s still plenty of stuff I haven’t even talked about yet. Like Gold Coins and Loot to spend over Thief Net or how, after you beat the game, there’s a master thief challenge to tackle. Yeah, there’s a lot of different things to do on top of my favorite for the Sly games: exploration. Sly Cooper is nimble and quick, perfect for running around a cityscape either noticed or unnoticed, and there always seems to be something to climb; he definitely gives the Assassin Creed games a run for their climbin’, and the open hub world is just so dang inviting. My personal favorite is chapter five, Dead Men Tell No Tales, heavy on the pirates and ships and booty. Each mission makes use of every place in the hub world, but it was always fun to go explore everything first, and then when it’s time to go back, I’d know what to expect.

For what could easily be summarily dismissed as just another platformer, Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves is all about a little bit of this, and a little bit of that. It’d be hard to get bored with so many strikingly different things to do, even if some are not as fun as others—the RC car’s controls made for frustrating nights. That said, potpourri really is the best kind of gameplay. Go on, take a whiff.

My failure with the Humble Frozenbyte Bundle

Out of nowhere, a new Humble Indie Bundle was revealed yesterday. This one, the Humble Frozenbyte Bundle, features three full games, the source code to a fallen project, and an early in to an upcoming game, as well as several original soundtracks. The three full games include Trine, Shadowgrounds, and Shadowgrounds: Survivor, and of them, I was most interested in Trine for its gorgeously lush fantasy realm. That should have been my first warning, seeing how beautiful some of these games were.

Anyways, I quickly plopped down some online money and started downloading my files. Then I tried to install them, and continually got this message: XYZ cannot be played on this version of Mac OS X. Oh…oh, okay. I checked my version of my Macbook, which I got back in 2008, and it was something like 10.5.8, which I guess is old. What confused me initially is that I was able to download and play all the games from the very first bundle (Aquaria and Penumbra and so on), leading me to assume these would work as well. Alas, no. They are too pretty for my tech. I even double-checked by hopping onto the website’s chat room, where it was confirmed by someone named Joel that I’d not be able to play on my current version of Mac. Wah. He offered me a refund, but I declined, happy to at least donate a little money to these folk, as well as credit something for the three original soundtracks that came with the games.

It seems that I’m allowed to download these DRM-free games as many times as I want so I might be able to try again in the future if/when I upgrade my shtuff. I’m slightly disappointed because Trine looks like a lot of fun, and it’s not available on Xbox Live, so there’s really no way I can play it. Not that I need more to play right now, that is. Heck, I’m still even working on the titles from the original Humble Indie Bundle.

But yeah, I failed. Welcome to my failblog. However, for those reading, this bundle is still worth pursuing though. Just make sure you’re able to run these games before you buy.

30 Days of Gaming, #9 – Saddest game scene

I’ve been struggling with this topic from the 30 Days of Gaming meme for a bit, and I didn’t want to just cop out and say that, obviously, the saddest moment in gaming for me is when my absolute favorite character unfairly sacrifices himself for the greater good. I already wrote about that. So I had to think, think, think, and all I kept hearing inside my head was a cold, solid thud. Over and over. Thud. It wasn’t inspiration falling down, giving up, calling it quits, ready to rest in eternal darkness; it was Nanami.

Suikoden was all about politics and war. Suikoden II threw a third ingredient into the mix, a healthy dose of friendship. This showed up in the form of the main character and Jowy, as well as the main character and his adopted sister Nanami, a fiesty, good-hearted girl that more than often spoke on his behalf. She’s a worry-wart, caring deeply for everyone she comes in contact with, as well as a highly trained martial artist; later on in the game, when she learns that her brother and Jowy are both commanding opposing armies, she pleads with them not to fight. However, love keeps her around, keeps her by her brother’s side, all the way to the end when, in Rockaxe Castle, she falls trying to protect those she cares about from being ambushed.


You can hear the horrible noise at 1:30 of this video:

And the part that makes it so sad is just how sudden it happens. Nanami skillfully deflects every arrow but one, and then she’s down for the count. No stagger, no moment of shock–just a body giving away. There isn’t even time to comprehend what happened because Gorudo and his men shout “BOSS BATTLE!” and away you go, desperate to get back to your big sister, to try and save her. Which doesn’t happen.

It really doesn’t take long in Suikoden II to forgot that the main character and Nanami are not related to each other. Some of her last words touch on this, how she was so happy to have a family. To even be Jowy’s friend.

Just like with Gremio, Nanami can be saved. However, it’s a little more complicated than simply collecting all 108 Stars of Destiny so I’ve never seen it accomplished. And never will. Nanami has always–and will always–end with a spiritless thud.