Lost Odyssey [X360]

Lost Odyssey is one the few traditional JRPGs to be released on the Xbox360. It was developed by Mistwalker, which was headed by Hironobu Sakaguchi – the father of the Final Fantasy series. Lost Odyssey was his first RPG, since leaving Square Enix. This created a following and the anticipation for the game’s release from the fans of early Final Fantasy release, which was largely due to way the Final Fantasy series has changed.. Furthermore, the team developing this game also included the now-defunct Nautilus – developers of memorable JRPgs such as the Shadow Heart series (one of my favorites) and the Legend of the Dragoon (a highly acclaimed JPRG on the PSX). So what could go wrong? Nothing! I have thoroughly enjoyed Lost Odyssey.

Story

Story! Lost Odyssey story was what stood out for me. Lost Odyssey follows a group of “immortals” take back their memories. The group is then joined with mortals who are closely tied to their memories. The story has a very emotional moments for me – Lirum’s Death and the epilogue. The epilogue really shows that every character in the party has gone through a very fitting character development. (I still fail to understand what is the purpose of Vaan where he is not really tied much into the story and yet is a main character – well, I will be playing the the Zodiac Age remaster to find out~)

The main story involves Kaim  and his immortal friends regaining their memories – where they are observers from another universe. As time flows differently, in the current world, they are made to be immortals. And being immortals, is not easy. They outlive their loved ones, goes through changes of time and could only observe. Eternal rest is never easily attainable.  Also  with lots of power and time, the mind corrupts, therein created a threat to the land. And only the immortals could stop it. Equipped with the desire to protect their loved ones, his legacy, her love and her people. They fight.

The idea of creating a main character that is an amnesiac 1000 years old allowed the writer to tell many stories – which was done through the dreams. Dreams are sort-of like a visual novel where Kaim, recounts his memories acquired throughout his thousand years. These short dreams were very, – highly emotional. I could remember the story of man who was imprisoned so long, burnt his eyes at the first sight of freedom and sunlight. Or the story of the “Upstreamers” who journeys a never-ending journey.

Each “Dream” Kaim has, serves a different moral to the story. Kaim was like a blank slate wherein his 100 years, he experiences different things – each teaching a different lesson and invoke a different emotion.

Youtube user ATYoD has uploaded all 33 dreams on his page.

Gameplay

Gameplay was very basic. Turn-based strategy, where in the battle characters would wait for their turn to beat the crap out of the enemies. Their Aim Ring System was relatively easy. The system allows for bonus damage or ailments atop of the basic attack. A perfect trigger would create most advantage. Think of it sort of like the GunBlade from FF8. Other than attacking, the battle is a traditional turn-based RPG where you command your characters to do an action. Skills, Magic and Item usage does not use/trigger the Aim Ring System.

Characters are divided into 2 types: Immortals and Mortals. Immortals are able to learn all skills by learning from the Mortals and/or from accessories. Much like the AP system of Final Fantasy 9. Although they are able to learn everything, the immortals are still locked to the traditional warrior/mage build. Warrior immortals can never be a mage and vice versa, which makes the infinite possibilities of skill build redundant as they can only be what they are determined to be.

It is very easy to be over-powered in the game, which I regretted. Having attempted the side quests/DLC before the final boss, puts you in a position where the boss is just WAY TOO  easy. You would figure the side quests to be hard, but it wasn’t. I attempted them under-leveled and yet manage to survive battles that provide much EXP that slowly the party gets strong enough to finish through the side quest and then break the game.

Graphics and Music

Graphics were at the top during the game’s release. However, there were some who had issues on the loading times, though being patient, I do not find it much of a deal-breaker.

Music…Nobuo Eumatsu…the godfather of Final Fantasy music scored this game. Need I say more? I enjoyed 2 particular OST – Howl of the Departed (Final Boss Theme) and  “Dark Saint Battle”. It makes the near-ending boss battles seemed way epic.

“Howl of the Departed” has choir, rock and a rapping Satan – Who would have guessed choir and rap sounds good together. Though I am a simple mind…hair-standing choir chorus has always been present in game music and yet I find these soul-igniting choruses makes almost any battle music sound so awesomely epic.

“Dark Saint Battle” was only used a few times near the ending and yet it is so memorable. The use of a cowbell-like sounding instruments made it so unique and I couldn’t get enough of it. And of course, being a boss battle music, it tied to deliver an epic battle…but the Dark Saints weren’t that much of a threat and only confronted the party once, so the emotions the music delivered was not delivered through this battle. I mean it was just a battle against lesser unknown, none threatening, final boss lackey and yet the music used was so epic I would have used it on a much bigger, more awesome boss.

Conclusion

Story was great but I do not like the character design at all. Kaim has a weird, androgynous clothing on. Mack looks like a girl, especially if you equip him with magic-teaching accessories. Cookie sounded weird. Seth is a bad ass pirate…with a simple sun dress. And Sarah has glasses on – I mean Kaim could survive a meteor crashing on him and Sarah couldn’t get her eyes fixed?

Kiyoshi Shigematsu has really done a great job on penning these emotional and rich short stories. I much prefer them than the main plots of the game. I wished these dreams were narrated. I would think these stories, accompanied with emotional narration would create a more memorable, emotional impact.

I would think – with the battle system – Lost Odyssey was the true successor to the Final Fantasy series. I would think so as Lost Odyssey was created by creator of past Final Fantasies. I will rant about the Final Fantasy transitioning to an action-game in another post.

I rate 4/5 for this game! Go play it!

 

 

The Single Grain of Sand – what will he move?

Growing up…was rather uneventful.

I do not go into fights, I do not join competitions, and I was just average in my studies.

I never stood out. No one knows me (outside my class)  and no one remembers. And so, I grew up thinking, who am I – trying to influence the world? I am nothing but a grain of sand.

A life that passes by, through an individual who thinks that the world will never be influenced by his actions. A grain of sand in the expanse of the Earth.

However, as the philosophy of Fichte goes –

“You could not remove a single grain of sand from its place without thereby changing something throughout all parts of the immeasurable whole.”

So, what will this grain of sand be capable of moving? I am excited to find out!

Daegu 대구 – Hogsmeade Cafe 호그스미드

“Why Daegu?” – My friends questioned my decision for my trip to the quiet city in South Korea.

My sole reason of going to Daegu was mainly to go to Hogsmeade Cafe – a themed cafe based off – you guessed it – Harry Potter. [Hogsmeade is the name of an only all-wizarding village.] And so far, it is the only Harry Potter themed cafe to be established in South Korea. And potterheads in South Korea are raving all about the cafe on their blogs!

As I make my way to Gyeongsan from Daegu (man…I should have taken the ITX from Seoul to Gyeongsan station, which was right across the neighborhood where Hogsmeade was at.) I realized that the cafe was situated smack dab in the heart of a residential area, with tall apartment blocks surrounding the area. And hills too!

20170216_132748

Eyes switching from the road, to the map. After a few wrong turns, at last I found it – Hogsmeade Cafe. Where is it? The map showed that it was near a school and so, I let the sounds of children playing to guide me there. And there it was, right in front of the school gates.

20170216_141701

The cafe has a cozy atmosphere to it. It was dimly lit with brown cabin-like feeling to it. There was a digital(?) fireplace and the top, adorned with wizarding artifacts. From books to a potion apparatus, to details like wands, sorting hat and Potter’s glasses. There was also a huge Gryffindor tapestry, with the smaller Slytherin tapestry hanging from the ceiling.

20170216_133554 20170216_141401 20170216_141424

To the side, there is the Nimbus 2000, where patrons could grab a robe and scarf and pose for a picture. How neat!

20170216_141331

After taking in the sights, I made my way to the counter and placed my order of ‘Tiramisu and Butterbeer’. I am no cake/desert connoissuer but the tiramisu was not great. But the Butterbeer is of more importance! It is after all, the only place in South Korea serving Butterbeer (as far as I could tell). Butterbeer, despite its name, is not beer. I am sure the potterheads who has been tot he Wizarding World in Universal Studios, would know but for those who don’t – it is a non-alcoholic sweet, butterscotch soda drink. Very sweet. And with the added chocolate chips on top, it was very, very sweet.

20170216_134250

It was 2pm, I expected it to be busier as the nearby school has ended its’ classes. But alas, there were only the 4 of us – 2 visitors (and from their shenanigans, they  must be fellow travelers), the barista and me. For the next hour, I sat there – reading my book, ingesting my Butterbeer and watching the potter-struck travelers. With the constant kpop music playing, the magic of a Harry Potter themed cafe has slowly dissipated. And also having satisfied my potterhead side, I left the cafe and made my way back to Daegu.

PS. with my limited Korean language knowledge, I spotted a sign saying that the cafe would be renamed to “King’s Cross in Urban”. Makes me wonder if they had a trademark issue as I understand that the word “Hogsmeade” has been trademarked by Warner Brothers.

20170216_141744

Well, you can ask them yourselves. Here is their Facebook Page: 호그스미드

How did I get there:

  • Take the Daegu Subway to Sawol Station and exit at Exit No.2.
  • Near the exit, there is a bus stop – Board the bus 100-1 for 5 stops and alight at Oksan Woobang Apartment stop.
  • Cross the street, passing through the Gyeongsan Train Station and walk towards the school.

Alternatively,

  • Take the ITX from Dongdaegu or Daegu Station (10,000won+) and alight at Gyeongsan Station.

“What to do Tomorrow…”

Graduating from University, instantly thrusts you into the huge, wide world. And now, I am at the age where most people would feel unsure of what to do or where I am going. At least, that is what I am feeling now.

Grind through frustrations for wealth?

Learn to enjoy what you have to do?

Seek what you enjoy and be satisfied?

I really have no idea what I want and yet, unsatisfied with what I need to do.

So, I decided to take a gap year after a 3 year job where I feel that I am working and yet, not. Everyday just passed as another day. Like a factory machine, an endless cycle of action filled with feeling of mundanity – to the point that you have loss sense of dates and time.

“Wait, what day is it? I can’t tell…I have been doing this everyday. Lets just call everyday ‘Monday’.”

The reason for that gap year was that I wanted to take time, and discover -what, how, where and when-.

“What” is my aspirations

“How” to dispose of my childish dispositions

“Where” do I really want to be

“When” to -grow up- and accept realities

It is already the 6th month of my gap year. And I still have no idea.

But, I will still look forward, to the day where I will know the answers and, the excitement Teddy (Robin Williams’ Theodore Roosevelt) has for tomorrow.

Larry: I have no idea what to do tomorrow…

Teddy: How exciting!

– Conversation between Larry & Teddy, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

night_at_the_museum_2_05

 

 

The Bromidic Introvert