Ever since I was a child, I’ve had one particular dream that’s played out over and over again: my ability to fly. Each time, the pieces are different—different settings, different people, different sources of motivation—but the core component’s always the same: I know I have the ability to fly, I’ve just forgotten how to. At some point, that memory comes back to me, and moments later, I’m jetting myself through the sky to some new destination. At times, these dreams can be so utterly overwhelming and powerful that it’s hard for my subconscious self not to swear that I’ve always been meant to have that power of flight. For a brief sliver of time, my body’s as light as air—my battle over the forces of gravity won.
It was just shy of 1am when I finally finished Corpse Party—or, should I say, finished it with an ending I could be satisfied with, versus the one I had received a few hours earlier that left me starting over the game’s final chapter. Having put off a necessary trip to the supermarket in order to correct my prior mistakes, I let the credits play until their end and then rushed out to my car to brave nighttime L.A. for milk and bread.
As I sat there in the driver’s seat, guiding my car along the nearly deserted road that lead to my closest shopping option that was still open, my mind drifted back to the game. I thought about its characters—who they were, what they had experienced, what horrors they had endured in trying (and, for some, failing) to survive what the game had put them through. Or, more precisely, what I had been forced to put them through.
I then realized something—this small wave of panic and despair was welling in my chest, all for some characters in some video game.
In 1988, I played a relatively unknown Master System RPG titled Phantasy Star, and it forever changed me as a fan of video games. Then, eight years later, another Japan-born role-playing romp would come along and leave an equally impactful mark on my life; the similarly obscure Atlus release Revelations: Persona.
Phantasy Star taught me that I loved JRPGs; Persona taught me what I wanted from them.
There were countless reasons why I loved the last great hardware effort from Sega (the Dreamcast, of course), but somewhere at the top of that list was the overall wonder I felt at the system’s game library. It was the console that, for me, made gaming fun again, as it seemed developers Japanese and Western alike took chances on ideas that they might not have attempted elsewhere. It isn’t to say that every Dreamcast project was totally unique and groundbreaking, but there was this overall sense of creativity that seemed to re-assure games that it was okay to try new things and dare to be different. It was the world were Jet Set Radio, Seaman, Napple Tale, and Shenmue were the norm, not the niche; a world that I came to love living in.
Devil Summoner: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army was an interesting departure for Atlus and their Devil Summoner series. Coming from a company typically known for in-depth role-playing sagas, Soulless Army still had MegaTen-style RPG underpinnings, but then contained an action-oriented combat system and more adventure-esque exploration in a project that reminded me of what Square had attempted many years before with Parasite Eve. While not without faults, it was a fresh take on the series and held a lot of potential should Atlus see fit to give the idea another try.
House of the Dead: Overkill is, for me, Sega’s most daring project since Jet Set Radio back in the days of the Dreamcast.
For a long time now, I’ve had a thing for Little Red Riding Hood. Not any specific girl, mind you, but the overall idea of the character herself. It’s a tale with a lot of potential, you’ve got to admit: young girl with a distinctive look, trying to save a loved one from the threat of a vicious wolf. I’ve even had, for many years, the perfect game based around the character planned out in my head. You’ve got Little Red Riding Hood, dressed in a blood-red Japanese Elegant Gothic Lolita-style outfit, traveling through the dark and daunting German countryside (complete with fully German voice acting), hunting down the bloodthirsty werewolves she has unwillingly been tasked with killing. In grand Devil May Cry fashion, the action is fast and furious, and you must fill your enemies full of silver bullets until they are severely weakened, giving Riding Hood the opportunity to relieve them of their heads with a swing of her mighty sword.
…er, anyhow, what I’m trying to say is, Little Red Riding Hood as a game character is an interesting proposition, and when I found out that not only would there be a game with her in it, but with her battling zombies of all things (another favorite of mine), I simply had to give the game a go.
Shinya Arino–one of the two members of Japanese comedy duo Yoiko–hosts a late-night TV show in Japan called GameCenter CX. GCCX is a celebration of video gaming, but more specifically, it is a celebration of the days gone by of video gaming. Arino himself is a huge game fan, and every episode–at least, for every episode I myself have personally seen–he helps bring us a look back at gaming’s golden days, from what titles were released by a particular company back in the 80’s, to interviewing folks like Yuu Suzuki about his start at Sega, to meeting a man living somewhere in Tokyo who proudly owns every Famicom (Japan’s version of the NES) game ever released.
During a phone conversation between session of playing Persona 3, somebody asked me how I was liking it. After a brief moment of thought, I summed up all the feelings I had for the game in one simple sentence: “It has changed the way I think about RPGs.”