Friday, 12 August 2011

Classic Friday: Footprints

Since I've lost a lot of the material I was hoping to use for Classic Friday, I'm still deciding where to go with it from here. While I probably won't miss my reviews of Final Fantasy XIII and Mass Effect 2, I just realized yesterday that my writeup for Chrono Trigger is now erased from the world.


Fortunately, I still have one series of articles saved. And while it's been a while since I've written them, they're very dear to my cold and shriveled blood-pumper. If you think my blog has been a sea of angsty vomit so far, know that if I ever unleashed this content you'd get tired of my unflappable optimism before long.

While I figure this stuff out, here's something I liked about the Diamond/Pearl Pokey-man games:

On a beach in the southern area of Sinnoh where Pokemon Diamond and Pearl takes place, there’s a little hut. Inside is a man who offers to analyze the footprints of your little elite squadron of critters. Sounds a bit suspicious to me, this guy definitely gives me a faint Miss Cleo kind of vibe. But I figure I’ll humour him. He probably doesn’t get many visitors.

One by one, the screen goes black and then fades back in again, I assume to save on the animation budget. Probably easier than having to sprite those little monsters walking around while some fat guy stares at them.

Anyway, then he describes how your little pocket monsters feel about you based on their footprints. On hardwood flooring, no doubt.

After enough training, all of the responses should sound the same; they’ll all be proud to have you as their trainer. But if you have a team of creatures of varying rarity, level, personality and so forth, the descriptions can be pretty varied too. I think this is important, because now each of them has a voice, an identity, and most importantly: a soul. And hearing what they thought of my time with them, according to some fat, friendless guy in a hut on a beach, that made me want to improve and be a better coach for this little team of multicoloured monsters. We still had a ways to go before the Pokemon League, I might as well get to know my allies on the way.

It got me to thinking of them as more than just a team in fact, or just a faceless cash-cow franchise for a giant Japanese corporation. Now they weren’t just dumb animals repeatedly shouting their own names. Now they’re my companions, with thoughts and feelings unique to them, and for the most part they were happy to be traveling with me.

After spending that much time with these weird little things, it was nice to hear this. It was pretty rewarding, made me feel like my time was well-spent instead of wasted on some children’s video game, and gave me an incentive to try and connect with the more “neutral” members of the team a bit better.

I gotta say, I appreciated that a lot more than the casino and dress-up minigames.



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