Zone of the Enders 2: The Second Runner

a review of Zone of the Enders 2: The Second Runner
a videogame developed by Konami Japan
and published by Konami
for the sony playstation 2 computer entertainment system
text by Samuel Kite

1 star

Bottom line: Zone of the Enders 2: The Second Runner is “unplayable for me past the second stage.”

I’m spit-balling, here. I never heard of Metal Gear until I played Metal Gear Solid on the Playstation. It was a game that was hard as hell to control, looked decent, and had a very satisfying mechanic for snapping the necks of enemies. I remember, at the time, wondering why the process for aiming your pistol was so awkward, but after a while, I got used to it, and used the laser-sight mode to lock on to whatever I wanted to shoot. This was still slow and cumbersome, and got alot worse when you had to put the gun away and take it back out again to reload it. If you wanted to look somewhere, and did it while your gun was out, you had to gingerly put it away to avoid accidentally shooting whoever you were looking at.

When Metal Gear Solid 2 came out, I didn’t have my own Playstation 2. I own one now, but at the time, I was boycotting what I saw as Sony being incredibly stupid. Every night, just about, my friends and I played something on the N64 or Dreamcast. In the heady college days, we spent about 90% of our free time on the couch, and those systems dominated our lives. One of their best features was that they accommodated four people. When the Playstation 2 came out with two controller ports, that made me hate it. What kind of dinosaur bullshit was that about? It didn’t help that anything released on the PS2 and the Xbox that generation looked better, and often ran better, on the Xbox. Not necessarily because the thing was a super computer or whatever, but because for anyone who cared to investigate it for even a millisecond, it seemed like developing for the Xbox was cake and icecream, and developing for the PS2 was cod liver oil and vomit coming out of a fire hose directly into your eyes.

One of the reasons I didn’t *get* my own PS2, despite it having plenty of good games on it (that were exclusives) was Metal Gear Solid 2‘s indolent bullshit culiminating in about five minutes of gameplay that was genuinely amazing and fun and simple. The katana made that game incredible. It took all the frustrating parts and glossed over them with a simple, intuitive weapon, that, if it had been developed in any way whatsoever could have made a sneaking game that gave me the giddy feeling of hiding in the cedar chest with the blankets while my mom was doing laundry for hours at a time. Dr. Octopus is stupid, but the fact that you fight him with that sword made the anticlimax of all boss fights into a wonder of gaming beauty.

Since I sound so positive, you might wonder where the disconnect is. The disconnect is that the MGS series is like raising a fetal alchohol syndrome kid. It doesn’t understand consequences. So when it does something wrong, you have to be nice to it. You have to take the diazapine or whatever to keep your sniper rifle from wandering around like a two year old in a construction site. You have to turn on thermal vision to see the guy who’s visible no other way, and then do it again when he hits you and knocks it off your face. Unfortunately, you’re not really helping by being patient with it — the term “can’t” learn consequences isn’t quite true. The flexibility of the brain is remarkable, and, if you really care about this child, you will do your best to help work out how to understand this most basic of feedback mechanisms.

The reasons people don’t put that effort in can come down to misplaced motherly protective instincts, nostalgia, deep seated guilt (perhaps this is somehow my fault — and by this I mean scenarios where the child is adopted, and the guilt is misplaced), but, above all, what really makes it complicated is the inability to perceive consequences actually opens a window to true genius. In a Homer Simpson-like fashion, the person who cannot understand what might result from their actions is willing to try anything. They do try anything. So, for every time an annoying man in a lab coat wets himself before your very eyes, another man’s identity becomes known to you by using a directional mic to listen for his pacemaker.

Now, my rational stance is that you live in a world and you have to be equipped to deal with the harshest possible restrictions on your existence, because the universe at large doesn’t care about your feelings. That means, if you have this kid, and you really intend to raise him, you have to do it right, and do your best to make sure he isn’t going apeshit for the rest of his life. That is a daunting undertaking, and, quite frankly, this is why I have no intention of adopting a kid with fetal alchohol syndrome.

Tragically, an inability to perceive consequences actually works extremely effectively within society to perpetuate fetal alchohol syndrome. Someone with the disease tends to be more likely to be an alchoholic, and more likely to do anything risky. Risky things include unprotected sex, the number one side effect of which is offspring. Because it is very difficult to adopt healthy orphaned children unless you are a stable, married, heterosexual couple, people who are single parents, or unstable for whatever reason, tend to be able to adopt children with this problem. This puts them in an environment where they’re less likely to get the help they need, simply by virtue of the time it takes (kids take time, kids with problems take even more — a single parent doesn’t have as much as two people would).

I’m explaining this painfully slowly because every game Kojima makes is like this, and as soon as I see what I’m getting into, I usually dust my hands off, put them up like goal posts, and mouth the words “I’m out.” I actually have Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater for the Gamecube, and I’ve never played it. Despite the endorsement on this very site. Why? Because while I applaud the people who go through that experience for their selflessness and domestic heroism in raising these damaged children, I choose to gather my positive karma in other ways.

If the Metal Gear series is a kid with FAS, then Zone of the Enders is autistic. If you can sit through the screaming and crying and get the thing to look you in the eyes, whatever potential it might have won’t break your heart, because you’ll be too worn out to be thinking like that.

I watched the story-so-far video on the main menu before I started the game. It helped somewhat to contextualize what was incredibly painful and stupid for no reason in the plot and dialogue, and what was incredibly painful and stupid because it was continuing forward from some earlier tumor. I’ll try to make it short. Kid sees everyone he’s ever known die in an attack on the space station where he lives. He trips over something and falls ass-first into the cockpit of an experimental super weapon with an AI so advanced that it can plan your missions for you and answer complex hypothetical questions. In fact, it’s so advanced that it says things which make more sense than the lines of dialogue from the human beings around it. This bizarre reversal of a Turing test lays out clearly and concisely for the kid what it wants to do, where it wants to go, and the steps it will take to get there. The kid saves a nice Jewish girl, fights alot of robots, and ends up learning a whole lot about responsibility.

And robots.

As the game begins, you find yourself listening to dialogue which is nearly not painful, except that the main character has a name which is incredibly stupid: Dingo Egret — and, actually, let me just stop here for a second. When I typed that, I had to go to the Wikipedia article, because I just naturally assumed I had erred and written something similar to his name, but replaced it with funny words. It turns out — that’s actually it. No doubt, this name was chosen to show that he is both a wild dog, and a tiny delicate bird that you just want to cuddle and nurture. This cuts to the core of the teenage experience, and, coincidentally, has something in common with the whole :I need a hug; Don’t touch me!” aspect of autism.

I’m sure if you played the first game when you were between ten and fourteen, and the second game in your late teens, this series is probably attached to your brain stem like a symbiotic organism, and the feelings of nostalgia and the resonance with your internal coming-of-age-drama are probably so strong that reading this far has been an act of grim determination to ignore what some bitter asshole has to say about the game you love.

My bad, brah. Don’t be foamin’.

In any case, the first interactive sequence is fairly clever. It introduces you to the dash button, the attack button, and the “go up” button, which is presented as though it were a jump button (but isn’t, because you fly for the majority of the game). But it does it in the context of some beater robot for mining, and you don’t have any enemies. In my mind, this is a great way to teach me about the controls.

Immediately thereafter, you’re introduced to the anime cut scenes, and the robot from the first game, complete with the AI which has long-term thinking down better than the meat puppets that pilot it and went to finishing school in its spare time. The main character . . . Dingo Egret . . . remarks on how nice it is to talk to an AI that isn’t dumber than he is. This seems like a metaphor for gender equality, and comes off as less weird than the Master Chief/Cortana lovefest. Not the least because there’s no actual affection.

You get to fight something before you really understand how to pilot the craft. This is nice because it lets you try out the buttons you’d just used to get where you were going in the context of the actual game. Then you’re offered training, cordially, by the AI, and the main character . . . Dingo Egret . . . accepts the offer (again, cordially). The menu system that puts you in a VR world to take lessons on controlling the robot are both well done, painfully slow, and a huge hiccup in the flow of events (while the training is taking place, you are supposedly in the middle of some kind of space raid by Martians). You’re given the option to skip this though, and, all things considered, I can’t fault the game too much for showing me that this option was available. Especially since some of the finer points of the control scheme are hard to deal with without being flat out told how they work (warning: this may be an indicator of excessively complicated impossible to use crap).

Then you get to actually play.

This is a picture of a majestic Dingo Egret in flight

So, your first challenge is to deal with a few utterly incompetent or possibly completely harmless enemies. That’s more or less fine. You try out your sword, you get to use your Panzer-Dragoon-esque multi-target, lock-on laser homing device thing, which you use to deal with swarms of shit, and then you repeat the experience a few times to get warmed up. The canyon like areas where the first few sequences occur have enough room that you don’t feel too crowded, but, by the same token, not enough room that you don’t keep bumping the camera into the walls and wondering what the hell is going on — and why you just lost all your locked-on targets.

This is the first moment where a pet peeve cropped up. No ability to invert the Y-axis. Wow. Really? On a PS2 game where you’re flying at least half the time? There is an options menu. It just doesn’t have that as an option. This is a great example of the Kojima Orphanage product, and fairly consistent. The fact that it’s etched in stone isn’t so much the problem as it’s the wrong choice. Even if you are a crazy person who does not like inverted y-axis on a first person shooter (which this isn’t), you should, at the very least, be able to admit that flying a plane merits that control scheme. This is a robot. But it still flies.

Anyway, glossing over this, the way people tend to, I hoped that the fact that I was locked on to something almost all the time would mean I don’t have to worry about it. That is almost true (we’ll get back to the almost part later).

The first boss you fight seems interesting. Though I did die saying to myself, ‘What the fuck . . . How do I hurt her?’ once. Like a good gamer, I chastised myself. Clearly, I suck something. Cocks, maybe. So I tried again, and it became clear that she would do a little series of sword swipes at me, and if I blocked them, I got to sword swipe her back. In between, you had to use your lasers to shoot down her missiles (which you could also block — a welcome thing (that is to say, a blocking button that actually blocks things)), dodge around to deal with her own super move thing, and in between were opportunities to do some (small amount of) damage to her while she wasn’t ready to line herself up for some sword hits. This is all fine, and felt like a promising start.

Then you end up inside a space ship in a series of confined rooms. Oh, and let me backtrack a little . . .

One of the things I learned from the VR training series, aside from the fact that sub-energy is used up and gained back only through the mysterious use of forbidden witchcraft (no explanation), is that there is this fairly intuitive and well-executed radar scheme. Basically, there will be a hoop around your robot (piloted by the inimicable Dingo Egret) that indicates the rough distance from you of some enemy. This is not the good part. It will also make another hoop indicating the range of that enemy’s attacks. This is also not really the good part. What is good, is that there will be an angry red pie-slice indicating the direction from which the enemy is firing on you. In the initial environments where there was room to maneuver, this make you feel like one of those idealized anime piloting gods who has eyes in the back of their head and can dodge in three dimensions while killing a victim.

But, the thing only works and make sense if you aren’t mashing the camera up against walls, backing away continuously from things sharing the same closet space with you, and trying to avoid getting hung up on random rafters, girders, and whatever other futuristic clutter is pretending not to be a crate to artifically inflate the game’s STC score. Once you’re inside the ship, most of the fun part goes in the toilet.

The game’s controls are not like Descent, where it’s about piloting your way delicately around serpentine environments. It’s a lock-on, fighting-game-like arena scheme where you dash frenetically around with a tremendous amount of assistance. You don’t have to worry about circling your prey: as soon as you lock on, everything is done in terms of that lock-on — you are riding around on a sphere, the center of which is your target. If you want to get closer, press the local forward. If you want to get further away, press local backward. If you want to not be hit by anything, press nearly any other button and fly around in arcs that end up intersecting walls, girders, and et-ceteras with remarkable frequency. For the larger arena areas, this scheme works well. For 90% of the rest of the game, it’s a burden.

Three strikes started at this point. The first strike was that I had to fight a boss which was supposedly a dead woman from the previous game, and her gimmick was that she had a shield, so I had to use a physical attack . . . but, it was too large for me to use my sword (supposedly, seemed fine to me). Luckily, the room and the walls were covered in convenient steel girders. I’d already been taught how to grab and throw things. So I picked something up and prepared to throw it. At this point, the game suggested I try picking something up and throwing it. It did this by interrupting my ability to move, and offering me another tutorial. Meanwhile, the heinous, undead boss-muffin was stabbing me in the head. I died because of this asinine, redundant crap. I then got to try again. This time, I went to a wall and just threw things until I was shown a cut scene of her getting skewered by a girder. Hooray. Painful, mind-numbing dialogue continues for a little while, and then I’m introduced to the main enemy in the game: “Anubis.” There is a longish intro where I’m supposed to be impressed, and then he starts teleporting around the room and shooting at me while asking pointed questions. I fight for a while, and die once. It seems like it’s meant to be an impossible fight, since I can’t seem to damage him. However, dying isn’t acceptible for whatever reason, so I’m forced to fight again. After fighting again for a little while and getting nowhere, the undead muffin who was supposedly dead comes in from next door, carrying the thing I skewered her with, and, long story short, Dingo Egret ends up getting skewered and has to disembark for more anime cutscenes.

I don’t know if my PS2 is having some kind of contrast issue or something, but I was noticing it was hard at times to see what was going on, and, from this point, it seemed to get worse. The main villain is so pale that his features are obliterated by the light reflecting from his face until he looms large enough in view for there to be sufficient black pixels that you can discern he has a mouth and eyes.

The next plot points caused me physical pain. I’m not dwelling on this to be mean. I’m just saying that this game made me feel like dying.

So, at last you get to play again, and the first thing is to find someone who’s broadcasting a distress call. I don’t really know how that works, but apparently you have to shoot boxes delicately, one at a time until a painful cutscene is triggered. For those who appreciate Kojima’s characters, this is Otacon, only he’s fatter and piloting a robot.

This is where the game really earned that one star. You have to “escort” this guy somewhere. But, to do that, you can’t have him follow you, and you don’t follow him. You pick him up, like he’s a toy, in one hand, and carry him. You can use him like a weapon to damage enemies, but it damages him and if you lose him, then it’s game over. So you have to go to the next room, drop him on the floor reasonably gently, and then fight all the dangerous things. Find him, pick him up, and repeat. You are doing this on your way to an objective somewhere in the space ship which is far away through a long series of identical looking hallways and closet-like rooms. There is a map, but to access it, you have to open the start menu, which pauses the game. While you look at it, you’re overwhelmed by how incredibly useless it is. Oh, look, there’s an “O” shaped blip over there with a dot in it, and my arrow is here. I wonder what the fuck that means. Connecting corridors are shown on the map, but they don’t show if they are in an ambiguous locked state or not. In addition, the fatass you’re hauling around is also your keycard. Many doors don’t seem to open unless his face is affixed to your hand.

Trying to get where I was going, I got lost, and then impatient, and tried to fly past the enemies instead of killing them. This seemed perfectly viable, especially since I was given the futuristic version of ninja caltrops by this asshole before we got started. Tragically, when you try to fly past enemies, the lock on system kicks in, and makes something the center of your universe. You are then forced to fly in an arc into a wall, or towards whatever attacked you. You can unlock your target, but your camera usually is spun around by this point, and you end up lost again. So I gave up on running past enemies and went back to killing them.

So here’s the best part. Your lock on system treats the asshole you’re escorting like any other enemy. So you can end up with him as your next target to fight before you can see him (for instance, when the camera is pointed the wrong way), and do a bunch of damage before you realize you’re not hitting the thing that’s hitting him and making him complain loudly and repeatedly — or, for that matter, the thing that’s hittin’ you.

I put up with the rest of the crap because I adopted this metaphor, and it would be cruel to abandon it just because I was getting sick of a person that screams in terror every time I try to pat them on the shoulder. There are a variety of weapons which introduce the potential for a variety of strategies, and you are not trapped inside a shoebox for the whole game. The story resolves with the same spectacular junk that is the hallmark of the Metal Gear series, and the bulk of anime, which is as low quality and full of pandering as western pop art for the most part (despite its stand out masterpieces). This isn’t Akira. You’re not missing anything by skipping these cutscenes.

Basically, this game is unplayable for me past the second stage. The only reason I persisted is to form a complete opinion of whether it’s worth sitting through. Were I left to my own devices, the last you’d have heard about this game was that you have to pick up some asshole and drag him all over a space station — and that I wasn’t interested in fighting uphill against the game’s control scheme to do it. This game is only worth the effort to get past its difficulties, and, again, here’s that metaphor, if you somehow think of it like your own child. I don’t.

I’ll stop just short of saying that it would have been kinder to have an abortion, and instead say: I hope there’re some people out there with a lot of love and time on their hands. Christlike figures.

–Samuel Kite

Comments

48 Responses to Zone of the Enders 2: The Second Runner

  1. And I have a copy of Metal Gear Solid L Guns Of The Patriots Tactical Espionage Action for the Xbox 360–and no, I haven’t played it either!

    Aside from that heresy, the analogy of games being problematic children is quite accurate, and seems to be applicable in describing most. What a healthy mental state this world of gaming has!

  2. this review makes me even more curious as to why tim wanted to include zoe2 in the manifesto. zoe1 mostly got noticed because kojima’s name was on the box (even though i bet he didn’t have much at all to do with it) and because the case included the mgs2 demo; it was unremarkable from most angles. the only exposure i have had to 2nd runner is, uh, second-hand — hearing dingo exclaim something like, “I’M GOING TO TAKE ON THE ARMADA,” and then seeing a million things explode.

    later on, there was a woman with enormous breasts.

    basically, this game — at the moment — is notable to me because one of the affiliations’ acronyms is actually the name of my father.
    it’d be interesting to see a positive analysis.

  3. Well, I can see how maybe there’s this incredibly clever commentary going on about bad video game tasks like escorts, and I’m supposed to laugh when I pick up the guy like a stuffed animal and whack the enemies with him in a wet-dream inspired sorority moment, but the fact that I can’t really enjoy it, because I have to keep him alive, and that it gets in the way of the normal parts where, when everything goes right, the game is pretty good, *and* that I have to navigate the samey-same maze of nothingness just wipes away anything good that might be going on. Like, I get that it’s ‘hilarious’.

    It’s just that the game acts as its own drunk heckler and loud house music to ruin the moment.

    Edit: As an addenda, later on, during the battleship assault stage, I had a similar parallel kind of experience, where the idea of taking on huge ships and destroying them was epic and satisfying, and kicking the ass of, say rogue squadron, by saying ‘oh hey, they have you blow up one star destroyer… here’s 6 of them… and they’re anime star destroyers which makes them crazy! wowzer!’, and so I’m doing it, but the epic parts starts to grind down on the 3rd ship. *yawn* charge up canon. Blow up thing. *sigh*. They’re all just hanging out in a line waiting for me to systematically destroy them. Not that this isn’t the basis of all games everywhere–just that I had alot more fun during the boss battles. Honestly… the game shouldn’t have anything but those boss battles. If all that intermediate stuff was turned into longer, even duller cutscenes, the game would still be worth 2.5 to 3 stars. If the story hit the right notes with me, I suppose I’d understand giving it a higher score and having a personal throb for it.

    I wish I could remember the 1-on-1 mech fighter in the arcades that looked like it was meant to be a game-about-a-futuristic-computer game that had to be played on two linked cabinets, because it was 3rd person lock on perspective like zoe–I liked that, and when zoe is doing that, it’s fine.

    it’s just like the armored core levels that have you wandering through some ‘facility’. What’s the point? Empty hallways filled with enemies are not superior to one large, cool, challenge. Especially with *that* control scheme.

    this is why PzDO works well. There’s no control issues screwing up the part where you blow things up.

  4. “I wish I could remember the 1-on-1 mech fighter in the arcades…”

    Virtual On?

  5. Whoa there Ario!

    Tim thinks this game is good?

    But more importantly:

    Tim actually had second thoughts about that list?

  6. tim didn’t want to alter the list. he wanted to add on to it.
    so, like, i guess zoe2 would be #26, or whatever.

  7. Tim better review it then, because as it stands, I see nothing in this game that would qualify it for the list.

    It would be interesting to read what is there that is good about it, even if Tim would write the review.

  8. it’s still there. It may return. Rudie is probably being meta. It’s like… the sonic review will be back… just like sonic is back. Even though he was never gone (according to his intro), and isn’t really back.

    WRAP YOUR MIND AROUND THAT SHIT

  9. Snake Eater is number 3 idiot.

    This review managed to take to long to say something that I wholeheartedly agree with concerning Kojima’s games. I keep on wanting to love them, cause I can almost see what others see…but then the falcon loses sight of the falconer, the camera has no relation to your movement, etc.

  10. or StC. I mean, the header says CRS, but the text says StC.

    StC
    SotC

    ???

  11. yeah. i think you mean twin snakes, which is itself a special kind of abortion; self-proclaimed ‘western-samurai’ of game development adapting MGS. lol.

    congrats on a good review kite, seems you’ve got good chops after all.
    the handicapped-kid comparison is eerily accurate.

    abdn has naturally picked up for OMM in all the important ways, and taken it a bit further. good to see the callback.

  12. The fact that snake eater never came out on GC just lends further credence to the fact I never played it.

    Actually, when you said that, I had this kojima-esque moment where I went ‘what the hell did I *buy*?’, I went up to the living room to look at the rack, and where I expected to see the game, there was an unmarked optical disk with the words ‘Galahad Orca’ in permanent marker. As I picked it up, my next door neighbor’s phone rang–it was for me. On the other side of the receiver, I heard a voice telling me that I was a clone of a cyborg virus that was originally used as a breeder reactor to power the first mission to venus.

    Bottom line, I can’t find my GC game anymore. What a pain.

  13. if you want I’ll mail you my copy of twin snakes. that is, the multi-boot dvd i burned to play on a modded wii. what a waste of 55 cents. good for maybe 3 minutes of laughs at best.

  14. there is nothing in twin snakes that does not fit within the ridiculous confines of the MGS universe.

    twin snakes is essentially the movie adaptation. and it’s about as faithful to the source material as say the watchmen movie was. actually quite more so, since none of the events actually change, they are only stylized in hilarious ways.

    the first person camera view makes things a lot easier, and they don’t have the original boss music (which is total bummer) and mai ling doesn’t have an accent. but really that’s about it. (besides playing with the gamecube controller, but even then whatever.)

    people just get butt hurt about remakes.

  15. Yep, that sums up, “Iwontusemyname”. It was Kojima himself that demanded the cut-scenes to be re-made, so they would be more “original”.

    Somehow, I think that Kojima, more than everyone else, don’t take the Metal Gear series s’ “Story” aspects seriously. When people at those big-shit sites like IGN start saying things like “The Story-telling is fantastic in MGS4″ he is the one that laughs louder.

    I also have Twin Snakes, and I kind of like it. It’s a crazy, mindless and – to a certain degree – bad game, but it works on being something funny and entertaining.

    What reminds me. Metal Gear Solid 2, with all it’s “postmodern humor” could probably defined as the “Most intelligent joke of all-time”.

    Perhaps one that people tend to misunderstand. (and maybe is just a pretentious dumb joke, I dunno.)

    Thinking about it, Metal Gear series, overall, is not the greatest thing ever, and neither the worst thing ever.

    It is just weird.

    Kytes has surely improved, but still… Metal Gear Solid 3 on the Gamecube was nothing short of outrageous. I didn’t expected that from this site.

    I mean, Tim always wrote stupid stuff, but at least he was always accurate with this kind of thing.

  16. i don’t know. i feel pretty sure sure that mgs4′s story was kojima being serious — though, perhaps, “serious” in a way that was responding in reactionary way to konami scream’s for another mgs. which is why nothing in the game can escape from the suffocating desire to have a lid put on it, once and for all, even if it means the rape of any of the universe’s intrigue or charm. this is one of the reasons why 3′s serious story is much better than 4′s serious story.
    still, yes, we have things like the bonus videos from snake eater where raiden attempts to travel back in time and kill naked snake — and gets crushed by the shagohod.

  17. I assumed the Snake Eater on Gamecube reference was a joke.

    I also kind of always assumed that ABDN was started with the intention of being the spiritual successor to Old Man Murray.

  18. actually, i’ve played a few remakes i rather liked recently, all i see is illiterate fanboy whining.

    it’s nice that pretty much all of twin snake’s glaring problems (besides all the ones proudly toted by the rest of the series) have already been pointed out by those defending it. thanks guys!

    everything touched by silicone knights can serve as a history lesson to those who’d care.

    abdn could certainly out-swagger omm in it’s prime, the but the frothing tends to sort of balance it out. nonetheless; gabe newell, while birthing the inevitable trilogy-making hl3, think of what the bros at action button will say.

  19. Would somebody please explain, then, what they hold as flaws in Twin Snakes?

    Because the comments really don’t say anything about it.

    It’s really just MGS with coolness in the cut scenes and first person view.

    (And don’t tell me Eternal Darkness wasn’t great.)

  20. Twin Snakes added many new features like respawning guards, lockers, first person view, etc. without at all adapting the original game to them.

    While this sounds freaking retarded, the game becomes viciously hard on Hard difficulty because the Silicon Knights, Nintendo, Konami didn’t think at all about game design. They just threw in “new” features (really just features of MGS2.) The game is frustratingly boneheaded.

    The new cutscenes are FANTASTIC.

    They also said they went back and re-did everything which is a dirty lie. A lot of horrible blown up PS1 textures are used.

    The “new” stuff to MGS on the Psycho Mantis fight was all things that were in Eternal Darkness. I’m going to say good job for liking Eternal Darkness, but it’s a pile of terrible game design. Same as Twin Snakes. There’s no logical thinking in any of the decisions. I’m pretty sure 90% of the problems with Twin Snakes (outside of the characters not opening their mouths more than 1 cm) would be solved with ANY new level design accounting for the game design changes.

  21. Yeah Ario, thinking about it, maybe you’re right about Kojima being serious.

    Perhaps I just don’t want to think that way. (And probably I won’t.)

    It just piss me off to think that Kojima was being that serious, and had the “let’s fill in the blanks and finish that crap” policy in MGS4, and yet not a year gone he comes up with TWO new Metal Gear games. (And a freaking arcade game with the crappy MGS4 online mode)

    Really, the only thing that keeps me from breaking trough the Konami headquarters and blow shit up off is that this “Rising” stuff could be pretty awesome. (Especially if it doesn’t take itself seriously)

    As for what could be described as “flaws” in Twin Snakes, well I don’t know. It is basically MGS with some crazy shit. Honestly, that is far from being a flaw.

    However, as it has already been said, you have to play with a Gamecube controller, and some players may find it fairly difficult. (Somehow I never felt that difficult to use the Gamecube controller, maybe because it was my first 128-bit console, and probably the one that I played more games.)

    Also, the main flaw of Twin Snakes, not as a game, but as a remake, is that it is too unaltered. You play with MGS2 mechanics, but they aren’t necessary. (After all, you’re playing MGS1) You see altered cut-scenes, but you see no new areas or anything like that. And, in a way, you see even less content than in the original: the few VR missions that featured the Playstation game are not here, instead we got as “extras” a “fight against all the bosses” mode, some texts with the MSX-2 games s’ story, the Dog Tag viewer, and that is pretty much about it. Tell me if those aren’t the most boring extras of all time. (Yet I kinda like Twin Snakes, as I said before.)

    The Resident Evil remake, also for the Gamecube, is a good example of how a Remake should be. It turned a strange game on a great game.

    And Eternal Darkness, well, I enjoyed playing it. I don’t know if it is a good game. (it had terrible things, like the absolute lack of difficulty and horrible, N64 fire effects.) But overall, I found it fantastic to play.

  22. Hey, if you liked playing it, then it’s a good game.

    And the only problem with the Gamecube controller is that it has the most oversensitive control stick in the history of game controllers.

    (It still beats the Dreamcast controller though. That thing is a pile of trash through and through.)

  23. The first ZOE pissed me off. I bought it a few months ago. Don’t care about MGS – have a copy of MGS2 i’ve never played. I just like mech games.
    So 5 hours into ZOE and i’ve Got It. I’ve got the hang of the controls and i’m like ‘damn. this game is going to be good. Fight a bunch of enemies. Kill some more bosses’. And then the game ended.
    So pissed off
    I’ll probably buy this game tho ’cause i enjoyed the control scheme of the first one

  24. who the fuck is responsible for okaying ‘donald duck61′s comment account

    tlon, take kite’s advice, just be happy with the first one.

  25. Second Runner, huh? Some friends of mine go balls out nuts for this game. All the symptoms of nostalgia poisoning are there, what with the character and weapon fetishizing.

    The first and last time I ever played it was when we were hanging out and decided to do the multi player mode for some terrible reason. I randomly chose Vic Viper, had no idea what the controls were, and my friend was playing as what I think was the final boss character, whose name, weapons, and story signifigance he knew in their entirety.

    I ended up beating him three times in a row without taking a single hit of damage because I decided to be a douche. I just turned into the plane and dashed around the arena in circles, all while mashing the fire button.

    Didn’t someone on this site write something about how if your single player mechanics aren’t worthy enough for a multiplayer mode that uses those same mecahnics then it should be scrapped? I think that probably applies here pretty well.

  26. I found the whole ‘fetal alcohol syndrome’ and ‘autistic’ metaphor thing you have going on there pretty awful. Not only is it not actually a very good metaphor (Metroid Prime is my adopted child, WTF)? but, for extra bonus points, it is ugly and hateful as well. Protip: using ‘contraversial’ metaphors that rip on kids with disabilities does not make you sound witty or ‘edgy’, it makes you sound like a douche.

  27. Seems like I’m angry today.

    Okay, that metaphor aside, I actually thought this was a pretty insightful review. You flag up a couple of important points about games like “The Second Runner”, especially the nostalgia factor and how the age when we play these overwrought clunky Japanese monstrosities really makes a difference as to how much we buy into them. I think the comparison to MGS in itself is a good one.

    I actually played Z.O.E – The Fist Of Mars (little-known GBA SRPG release in the same universe) and loved it, but on replaying it I can see I had on my rose-tinted spectacles (or anime goggles, whichever).

  28. The fetal alcohol syndrome analogy was used to explain that Zone of the Enders 2 requires an absurd amount of understanding and patience. Regardless of whether you think people with FAS can Contribute and deserve this or not, ZoE2 does not deserve this, because it is not a person, it is a videogame; its existence is supposed to entertain. As a piece of entertainment, its a low-yield investment. The analogy only extends to the behavior of the game and a child with FAS, not what it deserves.

    Analogies can lose a lot when they have to be broken down guys.

  29. I have a retarded sister and I wasn’t offended at all. The analogy wasn’t put forth in an offensive or derogatory context. He didn’t just say “This is a fag game for retarded kids” or something, he explained that it is as difficult to understand as an autistic child. I thought it was apt. It certainly didn’t read as being a “Lol, cheap laugh at expense of ‘tards” kind of thing.

  30. I get the sense that alot of gamers on here used to primarily enjoy Japanese games, but have since learned to dislike them and now prefer modern western console releases. Sometimes, people seem to have a chip on their shoulder about this. They approach it as if it was an embarrassing habit that they have since corrected.

    I’m curious to know when and why this happened for alot of folks.

    Was it a certain game that made you feel a certain way? Did you just get tired of certain tropes of traditional console games? Did you suddenly feel a connection to Bioshock or Call of Duty 4 that far surpassed any connection you ever had to a game in the past? Did you read a certain article or review that made you change your mind?

    This is a big mystery to me, and I’d appreciate any personal feedback so I can have a better understanding of gamers today.

  31. i don’t know how what you have said relates to what goes on, here.
    for example: most of the games in the mainfesto are japanese-made.
    this quantitative fact does not reflect a belief of intrinsic quality, but, rather, a belief of “what is good is good, and what is bad is bad.”
    it may be true to say that a lot of the people reading and writing on this site have narrowed down their tastes, and have, in turn, become more aware regarding the design of particular games.
    it could also be true to say that western-developed titles have gained a place in the market they might’ve not occupied in the ’90s. but this does not mean that the majority of people necessarily disregard past experiences, or are embarrassed by them. i am sure that most who initially enjoyed chrono trigger (likely, a good portion of those who come here) still do. alternately, i’d venture a guess that anyone, here, who initially enjoyed the first final fantasy does not, today — because the weakness of design is too easily exposed to a conscious mind. in terms of “learning to dislike” products, it should be a question of the integrity of design, and not the place on earth in which it was made.
    maybe you can develop your question a bit.

  32. if I ever overdo my negative reaction to japanese tropes, it usually is a purely semantic thing. Japanese cliches are a somewhat unique subgenre of cliche, and I end up appending the term ‘japanese’ to the front of talking about how much bullshit they are to make sure everyone is on the same page about how ‘new to you’ doesn’t make somebody else’s hackneyed crap any less annoying.

    it’s also important, occasionally, to call out something as being a bad choice which is put on a pedestal of being a ‘genre’ trope, or a ‘cultural’ trope.

    For instance, Resident Evil is horrible. Resident Evil Overkill is good. In both cases you could ‘dismiss’ aspects of the games as being part of the universe or the japanese cultural obsession with tumor people attacking them from underground laboratories, but for my money, sucking is just sucking–unless it’s not sucking (which is why overkill is good). This content free evaluation qualifies as opinion. If I mentioned the framerate it would be science and no longer subject to interpretation.

    However, on a personal note, I stopped caring about japanese rpgs when Yuffie joined my party in FFVII. That might be a coincidence, though.

  33. That’s an interesting authorial decision, Sam. I am curious. How long did it take for your feelings to go from “new to you” to “hackneyed crap?”

    I don’t mean anything snide by that. I am genuinely interested.

    Or perhaps there was never a “new to you” phase to begin with? But then, I suppose there must have been in order for the crap to be called hackneyed. I envy you if the transition occurred at the soonest possible juncture. It happened for me when I started to read this website.

  34. You’re in luck. Me is my favorite subject.

    When I was 10, my parents and I moved to japan. About 2 months after moving there, I went into a bookstore and nervously picked up a dragon ball z comic (24–when the milk team attacks cabbage and goku arrives just in the nick of time to save the day *AND* they start the freezer fight–in terms of impact on an unformed mind; Holy Shit). I bought manga on a regular basis until we left–every time I jonesed too hard for the next Dragonball comic which hadn’t come out yet, I’d desperately try something different (Dragon Quest: the Adventures of Dai, Yu yu hakusho, ushio and the lion, bon bon zaka highschool, taruruto, this fucking insane shit about a potato shaped highschool aged soccer player who could kick a soccer ball hard enough to carve channels in the earth, and then celebrate by dressing up as a coffee bean and dancing, etc etc). By 12 my parents and I were so sick of japan and the japanese that we couldn’t take our ’5 year plan’ anymore and came back to america. I took all my manga with me, still feverishly reading it.

    Because it was a weird time in general (growing up in another country is a mind-screw for a kid, regardless, but when you’re 6’6″ and blond among people who are phenotypically homogenous and the occasional old man asks you in broken english if you’re a boy or a girl, just to be an asshole, you’re not going to come away thinking it was a great experience), the manga was associated with all kinds of stuff in my head. On the one hand it was a source of comfort–I had good times reading them. Some of the only good times while I was there. On the other hand, I would bump into associated memories I didn’t like (bastard old man!) while I was reading them at the same time. Ultimately it meant that the visual and emotional language of the comics hit home way harder for me.

    Upon returning to the states, I became and awkward stupid teenager and started reading us comic books. They had the desired effect of making me go ‘oh shit’ all over again at how cool it was when that guy did that stuff to that other guy. But they didn’t have the same emotional impact, because western comic art relies on the ‘brood’ much more than eastern comic art does. In fact, the japanese are frequently in the habit of making fun of how serious their comics get, and deliberately adding light-hearted random bullshit in. This is because the ultra-serious genre in japanese comic books has run its course, become passe, come back as important again, become passe again, and then settled into a high-fashion-like state of constant flux. American comics, by contrast, generally *only* explored the super hero format, and generally *only* on the side of sympathetic protagonists etc. Obviously, there’s alot that goes on in western comics that you can dig into, but I didn’t. My western comic love affair reached its peak and abruptly ended after the Age of Apocalypse.

    Meanwhile, in terms of budget, video games became much more of a focus for me. In japan, my allowance was comparitively small and I didn’t want to get involved renting games for some reason, so I didn’t. That meant more reading. When I got back to the states, the playstation was coming out ‘soon’, and video games were way more interesting. Plus blockbuster had a big reliable rental stack. Plus, the arcades in the states were nothing like in japan. There, I could go and spend hours any time I felt like it. I rode my bike. Here, I didn’t want to ride my bike, and when I did, it wasn’t to go to the mall, and the mall didn’t have an arcade anyway.

    So cash tended to flow to games and not to comics. Plus, american comics are hard to track–they come out in small sections, spread over parallel storylines and series, and abruptly reset sometimes without warning. If a store doesn’t carry the right series with the part that makes you understand why everything is different that month, you’re basically screwed. Now, they have anthology stuff that helps, but I’ve bought those, and if anything, they reveal how short and mind-numbing the cycles in american comics really are. When they don’t have a long term story to tell, the whole thing is an etchasketch emotional roller coaster where everything is perpetually reset to a state of general angst and unfulfilled sexual desire. Because japanese formats are integrated in their newsprint bibles and long-form comic books, their story arcs tend to take longer to repeat themselves (with bigger numbers! Graaaah! *explodE*).

    In terms of games, I hit final fantasy 6 (3) at just the right time for my mushy brain. I didn’t really play japanese RPGs in japan (closest I came was playing through snes zelda there–it came with a sweet eraser shield that had all the items on it and descriptions of what they do). I was fluent in japanese, but it was my second language, and it was exhausting thinking that way for long periods of time, so when I relaxed I didn’t want to be squinting at 16bit kanji trying to figure out what was going on. Actraiser was hard enough–final fantasy seemed impossible. Of course, later, I’d realize nobody in final fantasy really says anything too complicated, so I probably could have made it through one.

    In any case, I played 6, and when the world ended and Celes, a seemingly minor character woke up on some island with a giant yellow condom wandering around, and you realized that the game had *just* reached the halfway point, I had my tim-rogers-playing-dragonquest-v moment. Plus I liked the style of the sprites and everything else. To me it was comforting, and fun to remember.

    before japan we had an amiga 500. In japan, we added a pc to the mix and I played wing commander, star control 1 and 2, lemmings tribes, dune 2, ultima underworld and a bunch of other stuff that turned me on to the platform. When we came back we pretty much stopped using the amiga and used the pcs more and more. I had my own in my room that I could play Master of Orion or mechwarrior 2 or rocket jockey until 3 in the morning on (this was discouraged).

    Then Final Fantasy VII came along and I had my playstation. I popped that bad boy in, and of course at first, I was full of warm thoughts and feelings because of its japaneseness. But pretty quickly, I developed something troubling; eyestrain.

    Midori. OR midas. Or mor.dor… or whatever it was called–the city, was a brown and grey dingy hard-to-read neon besigned place that just hurt your eyes after a while. When you caught up with aeris and her flowerbed, it was supposed to be a relief, only her body looked like two pink twinkies tripping over a pair of olive pits. The lack of anti aliasing on the characters combined with the low poly count and the smoothness of the rendered backgrounds–as well as just how fucking *slow* everything moved (and god, the LOADING times) just ground the whole things down to a halt. And here was my reaction, basically.

    Ok, we’re in a high tech city. Weird, but I’ll swing with it. Who’s this main character asshole? Obviously there is sexual tension between him and the hot chick–that’s normal, that will probably go unresolved for 20 disks, and there’s only 3 that came with the game, so no expectations there. There’s a black stereotype being annoying, that’s just typical japanese spaceshot nonsense, I can ignore it. I hope I don’t have to use him in the game. Then aeris shows up and it’s like ‘wait…what? Am I supposed to give a shit about this girl? She’s foofoo and lameass–the other one can punch out robots with her bare hands while the guys next to her use swords and guns. WTF is that about? Oh well, more typical japanese bullshit–swooning over the unspoiled flower of obliviousness. Ok, so we’re attacking some fort. Oh shit, we have to escape. A cross dressing sequence where I pretend to be a hooker and get beauty tips from gay body builders–that’s more like it. This is just like parodius. Then suddenly you’re out in the world, and cloud still has no idea who he is, and you’re going somewhere for no reason, and you don’t know why, and it’s like…wtf? In FF6, when I went to the desert tunneling fort, I knew why I was headed there. When celes woke up and she was all alone, I knew who she was and why she had to leave the island. Why do I need to be confused?

    Then the sephiroth shit started, and that’s when I really lost track. I mean, I’d read more manga than a person *can* read and stay sane, and this game was allegedly translated into my native tongue–how was I *confused*? I didn’t know what the robot tits were, I didn’t know why sephiroth seemed to know cloud, but sometimes cloud had black hair, and wasn’t a SOLDIER only he *was* and what the fuck were turks, and oh shit one of the turks is a vampire? WTF?

    There was that whole golden sun thing where you accidentally pick which girl you want, and me, not wanting to be rude, accidentally agreed to a date with aeris–the dumbass who I *didn’t* like. Then I was forced to watch ‘love’ ‘bloom’. Now, I know the japanese, and they don’t *let* love bloom in their comic books. Love is something to be terrified of while put in hilarious sexual situations that nobody can follow through on for fear of admitting to something that everybody already knows. That tension is part of what drives the narrative. So as soon as they did something as logical as go on a date, I was adrift. I had no idea what was going on. They’re not acting like they should. I can’t figure out who any of them are. It’s almost like… a western RPG.

    So there’s some irony there, right? Because if I’d played western RPGs enough from an early age, I’d be able to assimilate these short-term tragic romances, and catalogue the hints dropped by random NPCs… see, in japanese rpgs, npcs never say *anything* that means *anything*. Even at a climactic moment of teh story, what they’re saying is irrelevant. It’s all kabuki style flavor for their pose. Meanwhile, in western context, everything an npc is way too goddamned important. They never say anythign you can *ignore*.

    The fusion of the two styles that I experienced in FFVII sent me into a tailspin. What the hell was this about? When ‘turks’ show up I can’t just ignore it as being random assholes? I have to remember them and their context and care later when one of them is cast out and experimented on? There’s a piano that will help me remember the burning of a town by the main villain–I have to complete optional content to understand the story? What the hell is black materia? Who is emerald weapon? Why is there a tiny robot cat riding a giant moogle that disappears for no reason? If this were a japanese comic, the annoying character would stay around forever and experience character development.

    So as I said, I then ran into yuffie in the woods. A stupid teenage girl who was supposedly a ninja weilding a comically oversized ninja-star/boomerang. She was part of the ancient Clan Klepto and liked to verbally abuse me when I tried to get her in the party.

    That’s when it flipped on me. I realized, this character is stupid. All these characters are stupid. This whole story is the dumbest god damned thing on earth. A guy wants to destroy the earth because he’s powerful and it drove him crazy with all this bizarre pseudo-new-age shinto throwback to spirituality in there? The mad demon found a fragment of an ancient god flung to earth and wants to steal the spirits of the world? Wait a minute. This is the plot to every fucking manga I own. Times number of issues divided by 6! Only when I read them in *japanese* I can [i]actually figure out what’s going on[/i]. What’s that about?

    So I gave it a rest in a big way. Got into the legacy of kain series, which I liked. Tried fallout, which I didn’t. Craved more star control 2, and actually enjoyed star control 3 (if you didn’t get a grin from listening to the badass voice acting of the ur quan then you’re not human… or arilou). When I got to college, I poked my head in occasionally to see what was happening. Devil May Cry? Yeah… dude goes to creepy locale for no reason, fights japanese interpretation of western horror fiction (like….lava spiders? Really? ok then…), I can swing with it. Devil may cry 2… dude is annoying and flips coins for no reason? Random russian chick in attendance–yeah. Typical step two for a 1-comic series that runs its course and has no author-plans for another storyline–yet continues for 4 more iterations. Final Fantasy 8? Meh. 9? didn’t bother. 10? Pain the ass confusing mess of we-think-we’re-being-deep-but-we’re-actually-clueless routines overlayed with a visual language that drives the thing to a merciless conclusion through sheer force of will… I watched Akira and Ghost in the Shell, and then I *got* it. These were the powerful experiences that, warm and cozy to me, with that amazing power of the music and stillness and stark lighting would overwhelm the brain of someone *just* finding them. I mean, I knew that if there was a ghost in the shell series, then eventually, a robot would start behaving like a kid or become like a comic relief, and batou would start doing his ‘you seem crazier and more ninja-like than usual, main character-san’ sideshow schtick (please let me know if that happens, I haven’t watched the series). So I became content with those short, encapsulated routines.

    In the middle somewhere, I played MGS 1, which I liked purely as a matter of mechanics. It was still the wild west, and alot of games had trouble implementing a variety of weapons, tasks, and environments with polish. MGS was varied. All the things you could do *in* the game were mediocre, but together it was cool. Of course, the story went batshit insane, but I didn’t care, because I’m used to it. Cyborg ninja? Yeah. Sure. That happens sometimes. Bitch gets bionic and what not. I mean, I just *assumed* that guy came out of nowhere. The fact that he was a character from an earlier series is almost like cheating, really. It’s an irony that minor stupid characters you hate, in japanese comics will evolve to a central role, while cool flashy characters you love, will sideline almost immediately, whereas in western comics it usually goes the other way (mistakes in judgment in either case, aside).

    So that’s the process. By the time I was an undergrad in college, the love I had of japanese manga and art which was partly because it was new, and partly because it was a comfort thing, and partly because I was the right age for it, had dissipated. Alot of it had to do with holding it up to a mirror of western cliches, which I had no sympathy for, and realizing, at a basic level, if I didn’t understand what was going on, then it just sucked. That’s all there is to it. I never had to be worried that I didn’t ‘get’ it, because I had ‘got’ it for years before I started running into games and experiences that were confusing.

    So when I look at MGS 4 now, it’s like. Yeah… a black guy who sells weapons, has no morals to speak of, does quote silly things unquote and has a monkey nearby to provide that inimicable and insulting contrast that the japanese love to think they can get away with… none of this is quirky and funny and bizarre. It’s mr. popo being compared to the kaiou’s pet monkey bubbles by analogy, only all at once and with this gritty ‘realness’ that is not in any way real, because some dumbass commando is taking a shit in a rusted oil drum.

    Plus, I don’t know what this routine recently of two gorgeous effeminate men with beautiful bone structure and mad skillz grappling with each other intensely in this vaguely sexual way is all about. DMC 4… the raiden vamp fight… it’s like some kind of homosexual backlash to DoA: Beach volleyball. Or maybe it’s representative of the fact that they’re sick of writing the ‘we love each other from afar but can never admit it’ setup, and converted to the western ‘oh shit! My damsel! She’s in distress!’ format, and have all this unresolved sexual tension they still need to work in there via barely restrained homosexual lust as expressed by pantomiming rape with giant swords. Or whatever.

    It’s weird, and I feel like not liking it is totally ok.

  35. Gosh, you really rose to the call with that one.

    Have you ever read House of the Sleeping Beauties by Kawabata? Hearing you mention the whole sexual tension angle of Japanese storytelling reminded me of the title story in that collection. It’s premise is so literally a loving-from-afar-scenario, (even if its only from a male perspective) but it plunges into the implications and emotional torture of such a relationship with all these captivating details and memories. (As a side note, it’s also written beautifully, even though all I had access to was the Kodansha English translation.) It makes me wonder just how long this trope has existed in the Japanese style.

    It’s sad that comedy has to be so subjective. There’s probably someone out there who goes to Youtube, who interupts the party, who comandeers your laptop, just so he can show everyone a scene of a soldier defecating into an oil drum because he’s really not kidding you when he asks, “Wasn’t that hilarious!?” Kojima made that game for those people’s money.

    Are they not already getting away with that inimicable and insulting contrast? Hasn’t Metal Gear Solid 4 shown that the damage has already been done? I don’t know, maybe it’s just the people I talk to but I can’t seem to stop hearing how its such a great and, ugh, “epic” story. It’s so weird to me how people choose to differentiate between stories in games. Movies too. I know one fellow who hates Star Ocean’s story but loves Kingdom Hearts’. And yet another who says Terminator Salvation is a bad story, then turns around and says Transformers is awesome. It just doesn’t make sense to me. Where’s the logical consistency? They’re the same damn thing!

    But then again, I know a guy who won’t play games that have women as the player character, so what do I know.

    I like your manga comparison. It’s uncanny how so many of the same problems seem to affect the story design philosophies of the two mediums. Design choices motivated by greed and short term gain. Moichandising. Where the real money from the movie is made.

    Dragon Quest: Adventures of Dai? Man, I used to watch I Cavalieri del Drago on Italia Uno at my Grandmother’s house. I remember thinking Nemesis looked too cool, even though I couldn’t understand a single thing he or anyone else was saying. The non-fighting parts probably seemed more interesting that way.

    Boy, if that didn’t seem like nostalgia just now…

  36. Cosmicmuffet, in hindsite yeah i geuss ff7 was a bit stupid. At the time though that game was nothing short of an exponential step forward. In tearms of scope, asthetics, mechanics, depth. Nothing had come close to it, one can cite mother, ff6 but the fact remains aestheticly they were and are miles behind.

    Really aesthetics are quite underated in reviews on this site, my two cents is half the review should be about aesthetic, half about mechanics, this essentially defines what we consider a video game.

    Btw this review makes me think about that robot game polyphony digital made after grand turismo, kind of like an anomaly, ZOE strikes me as one.

  37. That was it omega boost, i never played that one. But it looks pretty similar to ZOE.

    “Nothing is beautiful, only man: on this piece of naivete rests all aesthetics, it is the first truth of aesthetics. Let us immediately add its second: nothing is ugly but degenerate man – the domain of aesthetic judgment is therewith defined.”

  38. I don’t remember the controls for this game being as hard as you mentioned in the review. They came off pretty natural considering I was playing a Japanese flying robot game. I’d already had to deal with crapstorms like Gundams: Encounters in Space which was basically… Gundam: Enjoy sucking at Life.

    ZOE2 was pure pwnage, especially considering the first game. All the gripes you have about this game, i treat as epic mementos. The opening cut-scene montage before the main menu is the clearest example… All the corny suspensful dialogue and awesome anime music (Beyond the Bounds… I’ve had it on my ipod for like 5 years now) are stuff I find to be… awesome. I remember plugging in the disk to watch that cutscene before I had to run off to school (i was in middle school).

    My one big gripe with ZOE2 is that it suffers from the Hideo Kojima sympton of “there’s only one way to defeat this boss and the only way to defeat them is if you’re as clever as me (or if you check gamefaqs to figure it out). Certain bosses need to have their weakness exploited but I find being a badass in my robot suit means I shouldn’t need to have secondary weapons… It’s almost stupid to think that without this uber weapon I just unlocked from the last boss, I would’ve had no way to defeat the current boss I’m up against at the current level.

    Either way, ZOE2 makes up any tiny problems it has and this is speaking from a recent playthrough, nostalgia aside. Plus, seeing Leo from the first game fly in at the beginning of the game in a Vic Viper… that always makes my day. Sure, Hideo Kojima made this game… but at the time I had no idea who he was and his work on the Metal Gear Solid series, which I’m just not that big of a fan of (hang me now), holds no impact on my opinion of the Zone of the Enders series.

  39. Nice review, Kites—definitely a step up from the Otogi 2 piece, which was so impenetrable it put me off reading ABDN for two months. Like has been said by many commenters already, the FAS/autistic child metaphor is surprisingly fitting.

    The personal life story in the comments was useful in seeing where you were coming from regarding games in general, so cheers for that as well.

  40. I think I’ve read just about everything on ABDN by now (sad?), but the final comment by cosmicmuffet in this thread is the most insightful, engaging and thought-provoking tidbit yet. So full of wisdom, little wriggling tails of nostalgia and hyperbole and cultural comparison that dart into underwater caverns the moment you try to grab them for a closer look. A real cultural touchstone, potentially. Touched a raw nerve still exposed from my childhood and the unresolved feelings thereof.

    Maybe it’s worth mentioning that I live in Japan now, and love many of the same things mentioned in that comment, and am maybe afraid of reexamining some of them, for fear of shattering leftover feelings of contentment. Lord knows I’ll never play FFVII or VI again. They seemed perfect to me when they were new, and I prefer to think of them that way, despite my better judgment. Maybe that’s not ”thinking” so much as loving, in the truly irrational, self-destructive way.

    Anyway.

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