Parasite Eve is split up into 6 days; This entry covers the remainder of Day 1. The Day format is interesting in and of itself because games usually don’t tell you how much “in-game time” has passed for the characters in the story. For example, in Final Fantasy X you can finish the game with 10 hours on your timer or 200, but you haven’t the faintest idea how long Yuna’s pilgrimage was supposed to have taken from a story perspective. A week? A month? Six months? We’ll never know.
PE takes a very different approach: You can spend 500 hours running around Central Park if you want to (and if for some God- forsaken reason you want to try the “300 pieces of Junk sidequest,” you very well might find yourself doing just that), but you’ll still be stuck in the second day. You always know precisely where you are in the story.
I confess: I love Parasite Eve. Objectively, I’m not even sure it’s that good.
But some things are deeply influential to a specific individual, and it’s not because they’re great –quality has nothing to do with it. It’s a certain alchemy of personality, timing, and some x-factor that I’ll never be able to nail down. Parasite Eve was one of the first games I played, and it had a huge effect on my personal aesthetics.
Come to think of it, between this and Tomb Raider, I seem to have a thing for games featuring young women spelunking in dark places. What does this say about me? That I wish I was a spelunker? Where does one go to spelunk these days?
Keep in mind, I’m not encouraging everyone to go out and pick up a copy of the game. PS1 games from that era have aged poorly in the graphics department, and while I think the writing in PE is actually underrated, there’s nothing about it that’s sufficiently high quality to make it especially worth playing compared to more recent fare. However, as a startlingly ambitious combination of cop show, psychological thriller, Doctor Who-esque Science Fantasy, dungeon crawling, character building, gun collecting, and techno music put together in an RPG that celebrates an empty Manhattan that never was, it’s a unique piece of gaming history.
The protagonist of Parasite Eve is rookie NYC cop Aya Brea, proficient with every firearm under the sun and totally the women I’d fall for if I played on the other team (and err, if she weren’t fictional I suppose. I sometimes forget that part.) However, I’m straight, and it does have to be said that Aya can be a little dense– her dialogue is littered with exclamations like “What? How can that be!?” and “No!” and “What do you mean my mitochondria are evolving at an unusually accelerated rate?” People have knocked the character for that, but to be fair, I kind of like that about her. We can’t all be Rhodes Scholars. She’s already gorgeous, can handle a rifle as well as Solid Snake, and soon enough, will also have superpowers. There’s a fine line between idealized and insufferable, you know?
Note on the Screens: In years past I have always, always kept the default character names in RPGs out of respect for the writers’ intentions, but in some of the following screens you will see that Aya’s name is Karen for this playthrough. Is this an attempt to tag all of my screens so they aren’t easily stolen, or a sign of my growing megalomania? You decide.
The game starts with Aya on a hilariously awful date, with an escort who says things like “I had my Dad get me the best seats for us tonight!” Y’know, I wonder how much the average guy gamer likes this opening, because being a woman probably makes it about ten thousand times better. It’s like, we’ve all been on this date, but unfortunately unlike Aya, we weren’t packing heat…well, actually I was once, but that’s a story best left for another day.
Fortunately possessed Opera Singer Melissa (known from this point on as Eve) brings a
premature end to Aya’s date by lighting Carnegie Hall on fire. I used to just pretend that I had cramps.
While the other occupants of the theater are busy burning to death, Aya’s all business; she draws her gun and orders her mysteriously-not-burning date out of the theater. If I were some kind of fancy internet guru, I would make an animation of Aya body-checking her date out of the way, because that’s exactly what she does here. Minor plot hole: It’s repeated many times that Aya is the sole survivor of the Carnegie Hall Incident, only her boyfriend mysteriously escapes the theater and is never mentioned again. I guess some of her special mitochondria must have rubbed off on him when he was helping her off with her coat.
Aya approaches Eve in the name of the NYPD, and Eve starts starts demonstrating some of the problems with Japanese-to-English translation that plague this game. The Japanese use the word “body” much more often than English speakers, but a too-literal translation will often keep the word, leading to awkwardness. “I’m burning up!” has a very different connotation then “My body is getting HOT!” Guess which version this game goes with.
A pathetically easy boss fight ensues, during which Aya’s “Parasite Energy” awakens due to her proximity to Eve, meaning she has a green PE bar under her health from now on and will start learning spells to cast as she levels up. Technically I guess they’re not “spells”, they’re more like “benevolent mutations” or “super-evolved mitochondrial abilities”, but I’m going to use the word spell from now on because it’s shorter. Anyway, Eve babbles something about a connection between her and Aya (Nooo? REALLY?), and Aya has the first of about forty flashbacks to a time she was in the hospital as a small child that she barely remembers. Eve floats offstage, and Aya follows.
At this point, the story sequences start to dwindle and you begin to experience the actual gameplay of PE–in the past kiddies, opening non-playable sequences used to last for about five minutes as opposed to three hours– which I will save for the next installment. The main event is that Aya starts ransacking the basement of Carnegie Hall while looking for Eve, and mysteriously finds lots of ammo instead. Illogical perhaps, but I kind of like the idea that all of the musicians who perform at Carnegie Hall have been stockpiling bullets just in case that first-chair violinist needs to be put in their place….actually, that’s not as far from the truth as you might at first think.
Next time on Parasite Eve: Spelunking in the rat-infested sewers beneath Carnegie Hall is no reason not to look fabulous. In the interests of full disclosure my next blog entry will probably be another installment of the Tomb Raider project, but you know what I mean.
(Note: Just like the Tomb Raider Project, this was originally posted as a Destructoid Cblog; I am moving my game playthroughs over here for posterity. These entries are edited slightly differently than they were in their first posting.)
Welcome to OtakuBites, the first of a feature I will probably be getting a lot of use out of here- comments on various things that may be of interest to you, without going into ridiculously huge essay-lengths (hopefully.) See, I have way more ideas for stuff to blog about than I can usually get to, so rather than letting them go to waste, I figured I’d periodically do a kind of round-up post of this nature.
1. Otaku U.S.A.
I’ve gotten the last few issues of Otaku U.S.A. (it was Shinji’s Deal of the Day on Crunchyroll, woo), and it leaves me scratching my head. At this point, I’m getting it more because I want there to be at least one print magazine remaining that covers anime- for the principle of the thing- than because I actually want to read it.
One could make the argument that, as an anime blogger as well-ensconced in the interwebs as I, a print magazine is a hard sell for me- however, there are certain things I want from a print magazine that Otaku U.S.A. does not seem to deliver. In theory, the features should be more meaty and in-depth, but instead they’re numerous and spartan.
Who are they targeting here, new, young otaku- the kind who are even less likely to buy a magazine- or those of us who have been anime fans for years, if not decades? A feature on Durarara!! in the most recent issue is presumably meant for those who have yet to see the series (perhaps, those who don’t know about this whole Crunchyroll thing yet), but also contains spoilers- rather non-specific spoilers, but spoilers nonetheless. While I agree with the author’s contention that yes, Durarara!! IS as cool as it thinks it is (and then some) I don’t understand who this article was meant for. I don’t understand who most of this is meant for, except for “Fujoshi USA,” which seems like it would probably be pretty cool if I actually read yaoi.
I got one of those “please renew” cards- should I? Just for the principle of the thing? I’m honestly not sure.
2. Card Captor Sakura, Omnibus Volume 1 by CLAMP
I got the first omnibus volume of Card Captor Sakura for Hanukkahmass (or whatever), and uh…it’s fantastic. It’s wonderful. However, it’s kind of frustrating that I have nothing else to say about it, but that’s just it; there’s nothing to criticize. I could wax poetic about how great it is, but I’m probably better off doing that when all the volumes are out and I’ve actually completed it. I will say though that the lack of Mei Lin is noted and appreciated.
3. Butterflies, Flowers by Yuki Yoshihara
Speaking of manga, Butterflies, Flowers is the first manga I can remember impulse buying…in English (I’m not counting those “1 for a $1” manga they have at Book-Off.) I have the first five volumes, which I think is all that’s been released so far. What’s interesting about it to me is that it basically has the premise of Hanamaru Kindergarten– a man falling in love with a child- and shows the logical conclusion that HK was too wimpy to touch. The sexual encounters in the book are between consenting adults and non-icky (well, mostly- that probably depends on who you ask), but it’s made increasingly clear that Masayuki fell in love with Choko from childhood. Hopefully, when I finish the series I’ll have something more interesting to say about this.
I should note that it’s actually a little different from HK, since Masayuki was technically a child himself when he fell in love with Choko (although much older than her), but honestly, I don’t think it changes things much. He changed her diapers, for crying out loud.
4. Zettai Hero Project
I seem to recall gushing about this game on an episode of Japanator AM when the trailer came out. Well, ZHP was another lovely Hanukkahmas present, and I’m a little more than halfway through the story, I’d wager. It’s not bad in any way, but it doesn’t seem to have that addictiveness that the Disgaea seriesdoes. For example, the other night, I had my PSP (with ZHP ready to go) and Marcel Proust’s Time Regained next to each other on my night table, and I picked up Proust. This usually does not happen with RPGs; in fact, RPGs have ostensibly been the reason that I hadn’t finished Proust (until yesterday- thanks, ZHP!)
Also, I don’t find it as funny as everyone keeps saying it is, but that could be because I’m listening to the Japanese track. I like roguelikes, but there seems to be something missing here I can’t put my finger on. Anyone else feel the same way?
6. Arc Rise Fantasia
I’m not actually playing this- I’m peeping over Rangoric’s shoulder while he plays it. As traditional JRPGs go, it looks pretty good, but I defy anyone to understand what the holy hell they are saying in this game without having played/watched it for the last twenty hours, and even then it’s questionable. You know how they make up their own terms in Final Fantasy games, or give standard terms new definitions, like “Fayth” and “Sending” and “Focus?” Well, imagine that, only in ARF they have to say at least three of them in each sentence, and the voice actors apparently haven’t been told what any of it means, whatsoever.
I guess that compares rather favorably to FFXIII however, where I got the impression that the voice actors knew full well what they were saying, but kind of wished that they didn’t. The fact that the voice acting was uniformly good just meant that the dialogue was generally beneath the dignity of everyone involved.
Also on the plus side for ARF, the voice actor for the evil (I think?) Prince Weiss appears to be Adam West. I don’t believe this is confirmed, but the character talks with a certain cadence that is definitely reminiscent of him. Your mileage may vary, but hearing Family Guy’s crazy Mayor West as a typical JRPG villain is pretty amusing.
Also: They are conducting a War on Pronouns.
7. Winter Anime Schedule:
Where is Durarara!! Season Two already? That is all.
Well, actually I plan to watch the second season of Kimi ni Todoke, and check out that magical girl show everyone’s talking about. To be honest, I thought about picking shows to cover weekly as I went along, like a proper anime blogger, but on second thought I decided to leave that to Japanator and other intrepid anime bloggers, and do more of my own thing. I reserve the right to change my mind if anything this season actually turns out good, however.
I used this fanart as the header back when I was cblogging for Destructoid, many moons ago. I have a dark secret though: I never actually finished Odin’s Sphere. I’ve been slowly chipping away at it since 2007, and I’m up to the final endboss sequence. I think I reached the point where I realized I would have to level Mercedes (or maybe Oswald?), put the controller down and didn’t want to think about it for much longer. I’ve probably played through Gwen’s book about five times by now, however.
Another colored pencil piece that came out pretty smooth, considering.
A fairly nice Izuna from Izuna: Unemployed Ninja. This is one of my favorite self-drawn fan pictures, because it came out pretty much exactly like I wanted it to. Usually, even with drawings I really like, I see things I could have fixed a few days later, but every time I look at this one I just smile. Actually, I think a lot of my fondness for the Izuna franchise comes from the fact that I now associate the character with this drawing, and the feeling it gives me.
Ah happy art feelings for once, instead of angsty-art feelings! Need more of that.
Another very old fanart, this time of Tifa Lockheart. Disproportionate, but actually pretty nice otherwise in my opinion. This is what I call “Good bad fanart”, or stuff that has obvious flaws, but is still kinda fun to look at, as opposed to stuff that’s just entirely without merit.
Lucca is perhaps the coolest character in Chrono Trigger- well, actually I think Frog is really the coolest (love that Frog), but Lucca is nifty. I think this is a good likeness of the character, at least from what we can tell from her sprite, but the drawing is a little stiff, I must say.
I did this little FFIV strip because I was experimenting with something, which is why it looks a little rough around the edges. Kind of a neat idea though, just taking ideas from random FFs and turning them into one-page strips….next time though, COLOR.
Loved the designs in FFVI DS, by the way- well, except for Rosa; I have no clue what happened there.
Like Ayla, it took two attempts at Marle from CT before I got one I felt was decent. Her face in the first one reminds me of Cameron Diaz, and not in a good way. I feel like the second one has much more of her character, but the pose is a little boring- Marle should be in action, I know.
Rydia! Actually done with colored pencil, which is why it looks so different. I wanted to draw her and real media and then paste her onto a box, which I did, so that’s why it looks so different. I don’t do stuff like this much because it always comes out messy and whatnot, but it’s fun now and again.