Thursday, August 11, 2011

SC On Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon (Wii)

This is yet another game I wound up trying because someone in a Skype call mentioned it.  Where oh where do I begin with this one?

Sure, why not?

The game revolves around a post-apocalyptic world in which most of humanity has disappeared and the world as we knew it has fallen into desolation and disrepair... except for some kid voiced by the green ranger (no joke).  After a short and somewhat eerie monologue about burying his dead grandpa in front of the house, he sets out to find anyone else who might still be alive.

Right off the bat it's apparent that basic movement tends to be sketchy.  It's the simple enough scheme of move with the stick and point with the Wiimote where you want to face for turning, but with the third-person perspective it means:

A. You can end up pointing the flashlight behind Seto, suddenly stopping him,
B. At times the detection of each turn for some reason causes Seto's character model to briefly (and I mean split-second briefly) glitch and end up staring back at you while leaning to the side Smooth Criminal style,
C. Navigating narrow pathways (which you'll have in several underground/ruined locations) becomes harder than it needs to be.

This sequence?  With Fragile Dreams' controls?  That'll replace the whale in me nightmares.

Combat also tends to be a bit off at times as the majority of it involves Seto swinging things like sticks, bamboo swords, pipes, butterfly nets (yes really), staffs, and other melee weapons at various ghostly enemies like dogs, jellyfish (?), crows, and later on robots.  Thanks to the viewpoint most of combat is spent aiming off to either side of Seto to try and judge distance and, you know, be able to see what you're trying to hit.

This and movement still functionally work, especially with ranged weapons, but both tend to fall into the "could be better" category.

Killing said enemies gains experience for leveling, thereby becoming stronger and getting a larger health bar (always good), and yields "mystery items" which are usually health items or things that can be sold for money to the randomly-appearing chicken man with a stroller.

No, really.

Back away slowly...

This is done at small fire barrels that are found all over the land which completely refill Seto's health, keep away enemies, and reveal what any and all mystery items are, assuming he can Tetris them into his backpack-which-is-actually-dangling-in-front-of-him-for-some-reason.  Why can't Seto figure out what they are when he picks them up considering he has a goddamn flashlight he can use to see what it is?

Oh look, a minor inconsistency!

The aforementioned merchant is a bit creepy at first, but once you realize that (A) he will buy all the otherwise useless shit you pick up, including buying certain mystery items (read: gems) the moment Seto sits in front of a fire whether he's there or not, and (B) he's voiced by Kakashi, he just becomes a goofy-sounding money flow.  Of course, that's assuming you didn't change the voices to Japanese because you want to have Johnny Yong Bosch's voice rattling in your head endlessly while playing the game for the Internets.

Got some rare things on sale, stranger!

Seto meets all kinds of different characters along his journey, including several ghosts of deceased people, a talking computer, a robot, an old woman, and others.  Most of them tend to come and go (read: "die" in some fashion) and at times it is a bit emotional.  Not to me since I'm only programmed to express emotion six times daily, but when their scenarios play out in environments littered with several drawings, mementos, and last wishes of the people who lived there, combined with a piano-heavy beautifully-composed score of music, coupled with the constant themes of loneliness, death, and the search for companionship, this experience became the main reason I played the game to completion instead of tossing it aside at the halfway point.

The dialogue however tends to range from unintentionally creepy, to unintentionally funny, to unnecessarily wordy.  The latter is particularly true for the Personal Frame character, a backpack-style computer which goes so far into detail it- you know what?  Here's a conversation from the game between the frame and Seto.  I am directly copying this word-for-word:

(after finding a key)
Seto: Whoa!  Is this what I think it is?
PF: It is a key.  After analysis, I can report that there is a 75% chance that it is the key to the turnstile shutter.
Seto: Great!  Then that means we can open the shutter now!
PF: Wait.  Please hold on.  At a probability of 75%, that means there is a 25% risk that it will not open it for us.
Seto: I'm sure it'll work.  I mean, 75% is way more than 25%.
PF: I suppose that is a valid statement.  Yes, it might work.  Indeed.  A 75% probability.
Seto: Yeah.  We'll be fine!
PF: Yes!  We will be fine!

After hearing various forms of this same conversation over and over, or hearing the Personal Frame continually state the obvious and/or what a tutorial window has already explained, and not even getting past the first section of the game, this becomes grating.  Fast.

I don't have your dividend resulting in a 
remainder of two, and FUCK YOU ANYWAY!

If there's one sticking point for me in the rest of the game, it would be the ending.  I won't spoil it directly, but I am going to mention specific themes.  Skip the next paragraph to avoid them.

You essentially beat the final boss, (Yes, there are bosses.  I probably should have mentioned that earlier) find something you were looking for almost the whole game, are given a severe downer of a monologue from the future, then the ending continues as it was.  The game all but says, 'You won the prize, but in the end the prize will be gone.  Then you'll be right back where you started.'  While I get how that applies to real life and don't expect the happiest of happy endings for a game like this, it is a bit of a buzzkill.

Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon.  I'd say I've played better JRPGs, but that would be one hell of a cop out excuse to not play this.  You should at least try it if you're an RPG fan, especially if you're looking for one on the Wii.  And no, I'm not just saying that because there's a storm cell brewing near Nintendo of America with an unknown amount of rainfall imminent.

No, I'm not making an Operation Rainfall reference.  I just checked the  five-day forecast for Redmond, Washington and it says there's a chance of rain next Monday.  Really.

I'm just saiyan...