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  -Part 1 :: [01.04.06]
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"Vigoro, the 3rd Admiral, is a big musclehead who wears an open shirt that exposes his chest, and has a pointy, sculpted hairdo. 'You said the citizen of the Silver Civilization that you found was a woman?! Now THAT'S something worth getting excited over. How old is she? Is she good looking? Does she wear leather? I like my women wild and crazy!' His appearance combined with the fact that he's trying really hard to prove that he likes women makes it obvious that he is gay. Unlike Fruity, however, he's in major, major denial."
     -Jeanne, Skies of Arcadia Part 3




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Tales of Destiny : Part 1
By Ben
Posted 01.04.06
Pg. 1 : 2 : 3
Tales of Destiny is a game I have owned for several years, but have paid little attention to. I vividly remember the day I bought it; walking into the dingy little backstreet games shop and scouring the hallowed Imports shelf, I saw a thing of beauty. As I drew closer and saw that, no, my eyes weren't deceiving me -- it was actually there, sitting proudly and prominently in the middle of the shelf -- a chorus of angels began singing and bright golden light surrounded the object of my desire.

Yes, it was Suikoden II. And then my heart sank as I noticed the yellow sticker on the box declaring that there were "No copies in stock". Dismayed and disheartened, nevertheless I was determined my trip wouldn't be a wasted journey. I needed a new game to tide me over until I could finally get my hands on a copy of The Best Game Everô, and so I asked the assistant for a copy of the first RPG that caught my eye - "the one with the effeminate-looking blond man on the cover". Of course, that description applied to 75% of the games on display, but after the initial confusion I found myself in possession of the game I aim to recap right now.

So, my love affair with this game didn't exactly get off to the best start. In fact, I hadn't even started playing it until roughly 2 hours ago, when I started to tape my recap footage. Yes, ladies and gents, in what I believe is a VGR first, I plan to recap this sonofabitch as I play it for the very first time, with no knowledge of what is to come. Whether this is a good idea or not remains to be seen. Call it an experiment. Call it a new method. Or call it "Ben being a damn lazy bastard". Whichever sounds best to you. Of course, one benefit of this is that the mandatory "You're going to LOVE what happens next! For some reason I think I'm the only person to have ever played this game and now I'm going to tell you ALL about it!" posts from certain Forumites are actually going to serve a purpose this time. Anyway, enough about my strange recapping methods. Off I go into the unknown...

So, what is it?
An experiment
A new method
Ben being a damn lazy bastard
Eblublublub?

 

 
An old castle by a lake...now where are the legions of badly-dressed gay men?

The obligatory overblown anime intro starts with a shot of an ornate sword (complete with what appears to be a huge eye set into the hilt) chained to the wall of a darkened room. The fabulous purple "Tales of Destiny" logo appears as nicely-dramatic music bubbles away in the background. Next is a pan over some windswept green land, complete with ruined castles dotted over the landscape, as the music turns all Celtic. It reminds me a lot of my beloved Wales, until a dragon's roar shatters my reverie and a great grey beast flies overhead. Not Wales after all, then. The music turns heroic and grandiose, signalling an imminent Brooding Hero Shot. Sure enough, a feminine-looking man with laughably oversized shoulder pads and, quite frankly, ridiculous blond hair, fills the screen. Well, it's mostly his hair. Think 80's rock star meets Rapunzel in a hurricane and you'll be on the right track. That flowing mane probably weighs more than the humongous sword (yes, the one from ten seconds ago) in his hand.

 
Fuck, it looks like Cousin It mated with a bottle of peroxide.

Now some more characters. A busty, scantily-clad girl with short hair and similarly-oversized shoulder pads sheathes her sword into a holder on her ass (where else?) and stares angstily away from the camera. A pretty girl with another sword, long blondish-green hair and glasses gazes pensively at the ground as birds chirrup and flower petals fall around her (if this chick isn't a True Blue Mary Sue, I'm Mother Theresa). Amid the shadows of bare trees and a darkened sky, a tall, willowy male figure with silver hair stares at the camera sullenly. The number of depressed-looking characters so far is giving these guys a run for their money. You know, at some point I'd like to see at least one of these miserable bastards crack a smile. I'm sure it wouldn't kill them. And why are they so fucking depressed anyway, with their big swords and gorgeous hair?

I bet they're all writing bad poetry and listening to SlipKnot.
 

More effeminate miseries. In what appears to be the same scene as Silver Haired Depressive, an elfin young man in a pink cloak looks - you guessed it - moodily into middle-distance. I really want to give these people some Prozac, otherwise I'll be slitting my wrists before this intro is over. Now we see a shot of a castle overlooking the sea, as dark clouds roll overhead. Man, that'll lift their spirits! A quick shot of Blond Hero's huge sword. A dragon statue. More quick sword flashes. Churning water. Blond Hero raising huge sword above his flowing locks then thrusting it in front of him. Some kind of purple lightning-laser-thing shooting out of a hole in the sky and obliterating huge chunks of landscape. Blond Hero swinging his sword at someone. Yet more swords clashing. I don't know about you readers, but I'm getting a slight impression that swords will play a big role in this game. It's hard to be certain, though, as it's so subtle.

 
Penis!

A monstrous black structure - appears to be some kind of ship - with the first phallic symbol (besides the ten hundred swords, that is) of the recap. And guys, it's a big one. Scantily-Clad Depressive engaging in frenzied swordplay. An angry-looking red-haired woman doing likewise. A pink-haired little poppet wielding - GASP! - a bow! Not a sword! I repeat: NOT A SWORD. I think I can hear the hooves of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse approaching. I bet all the angsty pretty-haired people are going to exclude her from their Big Swords Club. To counteract the shock of seeing a swordless character, we see Silver Haired Depressive swishing his blade around. And then Blondish-Green Haired Bespectacled Depressive raising her own massive sword above her head and, surprisingly, letting rip with a battle cry. Looks like this mouse can roar!

Most depressed?
Scantily-clad short-haired girl with sword holder on ass
Androgynous elfin person in fabulous pink cloak (rain included)
Bespectacled Mary Sue-ish girl surrounded by birds, petals and sadness
Silver-haired sullen sylph-like swordsman in the shadows
All of them
Ben, after watching that intro

 

Lightning strikes and we see Pink-Cloaked Elfin Depressive moping around some more. And in case we didn't understand by now that these people are all despondent and angsty, he's standing in the rain. Cue the fucking violins already. In the next scene, even the birds sound depressed as an extremely effeminate man (even by previous standards) with long blond hair, a banjo and a gigantic mauve hat with feathers protruding from it, stares joyfully -- just kidding! -- at the ground, then looks to the sky, his pensive expression etched onto his face like markings in stone. In the next scene of The Most Depressing Intro In History, Blond Hero and Scantily-Clad Depressive watch a beautiful sunset together. Well, that part wasn't too angsty at all. I'm in shock! Now, yet another montage of the characters and their huge swords. We fricking get it, SWORDS ARE IMPORTANT. And in another shock moment, some of them are actually managing to smile! The characters, not the swords. In the final intro scene, we once again see the darkened room with the chained sword - but this time the sword is gone. Dun dun DUN!

Jesus, I think I need some comfort food and comedy shows to get over those 2 minutes of sheer gloom. Seriously, what have we learned from that intro? The female characters all have beautiful hair and big swords (apart from the pink-haired outcast with the bow), and are moody. The males have even more beautiful hair and big swords, and are moody and gay. That's it. Hopefully once the game actually starts, they'll have more distinguishing features.

Even the tinkly title screen music sounds depressing, but is somewhat alleviated by the pretty birds fluttering around and cute little squirrels peeking out of trees. I select 'New Game' to be greeted with the 'Name Hero' screen, complete with chibi sprite of the blond-haired one. And this one sprite rendering is enough to lift my spirits and make me forget all about the Intro of Suicide. Stahn -- for that is his name -- in sprite form looks like a lion with a human's lower body. His crazy blond hair cascades over his face, obscuring most of his features so that all is visible is a tiny body underneath a golden mane. Seriously, comedy fucking gold right there. Best. Hero. Sprite. Ever. In light of his glorious tresses, I decide to rename the lion-like one Aslan, giving him the fabulous full name of Aslan Aileron. What? Aslan was the first lion name that sprang to mind, after Simba, The Cowardly Lion and The Sunflowardly Lion, of course. I just hope this doesn't provoke a flood of emails from evangelical Christians challenging my audacity to nickname a videogame character after a representation of Jesus.

 
This is the best hero sprite in RPG history.

First scene of the game. Picture it: the corridor of some kind of ship, being patrolled by two white-clad guards. Upon reaching a door, they stop and begin a random conversation. "Patrol duty is sooooooo boring!" Crewman remarks. "Don't complain. You're getting paid to do this," Officer replies, with all the sympathy and compassion of your average boss. I guess things like that are the same even in RPG Land. "Yes sir. (Sigh)" Crewman responds. "All that's left for us to check is this storeroom." And check they do, searching the dimly-lit room until they come across a small man with a gigantic blond bouffant, who appears to be asleep. Yep, it's Aslan! "Identify yourself!" Officer yells, as he and Crewman rush over to The Slovenly Lion. Crewman wonders aloud if the big-haired intruder is dead, until Officer smacks him about a little in order to rouse him from his slumber. Well, the sound effect is there, but the sprite doesn't actually do anything. Oh, how I love sprite graphics. At least they force you to use your imagination.

Aslan doesn't wake (a speech bubble of ZZZZs is floating idly above his mane) so the crewmembers beat him again, still with no luck. Even though I've never played this game before I can just tell that this is the first instance of a running joke in which people try in vain to wake Aslan up. If I'm wrong, I'll eat my hair. Amazingly, even after this second beating Aslan is still half-asleep, so the crewmembers drag his still-slumbering ass out of the storeroom and into the corridor. "Come on, get the lead out!" Officer yells to nobody in particular. If "lead" is a euphemism for penis, I really don't like where this is going. Sodomizing a lion in his sleep is bad, mmmkay? At least wait until he wakes up.

Thankfully, instead of raping Aslan they just bash his brains in some more. And, miracle of miracles, he actually wakes up. "Huh? Wha, grmblfzzz...?" he mumbles. Hee. "grmblfzzz" is so my new favourite word. Before he can fall asleep again, Officer and Crewman grab him (most likely by the hair) and bundle him to the captain's quarters. This takes what feels like an eternity, due to the fucking enormity of this ship, whatever the hell it is. To my inexperienced eyes, it makes the Titanic look like a one-man rowboat. Via countless corridors, several staircases and assorted apertures, Aslan finally finds himself in a plush chamber, answering to a moustachioed old man in a stereotypical captain's hat. "Sir, we found this suspicious character!" Officer declares, inwardly rubbing his hands in anticipation of a promotion. "He was hiding in the storeroom below!" Crewman chips in, not prepared to let his superior take all the credit for the fearless act of capturing a sleeping stowaway. "Who are you?!" asks the Cap'n, rising from his chair to show that he means business. Either that, or he got a sudden charley horse. They're killers, aren't they?

When Aslan hesitates, Crewman or Officer (since their sprites are identical, I'm having a little trouble telling them apart) slaps him again. Is it me, or do these guys really like hitting people? This time, Aslan quickly answers, lest he be set upon with baseball bats and knuckle-dusters. "I...aah...I'm...(ahem)...Aslan Aileron," he reveals. I love how the little clearing of the throat makes it seem like even Aslan knows how ridiculous his name sounds. See, it's the little details like this keeping us recappers relatively sane. And you thought we were all dribbling alcoholics! How could you have even thought such a thing?!

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