Guest Post: Discussing the End of a Series

Today’s guest post is by Marty X. We call him that because Marty is his name and X is the sexiest letter there is. So for today you get to hear the ramblings of another, but still get all of my caption hijinks Anyway, enjoy!

It’s always a sad day when you find out that a near and dear game series is over. Sometimes it happens quickly, other times you don’t hear about it as much as you come to the realization that it is dead. Turning a single game, into a series is something that the Video Game industry thrives on, and unlike movies, they often turn out better than the first, or at least just as good. There have been many games that have come and gone, lost in the sands of time, either they weren’t that great to begin with, refused to evolve with the times, or neglected their fanbase. That’s the problem with hobbies like gaming, it has been around for over 30 years, and as such it has left a lot of feelings hurt, and a lot of people questioning a company’s motives. 
Now, the obvious one to talk about is Chrono Trigger/Cross. There are 2 games (3 if you count Radical Dreamers, but… it’s not really a main game so you can just ignore it). People have hoped that the games would become a trilogy, seeing as they’ve had the named Chrono Break Trademarked for years (Recently lapsed). But, the chances are that you won’t see another story involving a group of plucky children altering the fabric of space and time. However, you can keep wishing, like me.

It’s not like Chrono Cross ended in a major cliff hanger to the fate of these guys… oh wait. 

Now, I can’t mention missed opportunities and hurt feelings without talking about my favorite series: Suikoden. There have been 5 main Suikoden games, 2 text adventure Japan only games, 1 tactics strategy game, and a DS game. This is a very prolific, albeit eclectic gaming series. A lot of people know about it, and it has a very vocal, rabid fanbase. The reason why I think the series is dead is because there was a new game released in Japan. Only in Japan. On the deadest system of the century: the PSP. Don’t get me wrong, I adore (and still play) my PSP, but that doesn’t mean it has the power to support a release. Putting a game out on a system that’s on its last legs is silly. Only releasing it in Japan speaks volumes. Konami (the publisher), believes that the games aren’t viable anymore beyond Japan.


Hahahahahaha…. no.
How to fix this: Suikoden is a game that is predominately fan service. It’s a game with a multitude of characters, and all the stories tie together. There are many plots that need to be resolved, and they’ve been very coquettish about them. So there is a lot left unsaid in the series, and it’s driving the fans mad. I think if they made a new numbered game (Suikoden 6), and had enough of the characters that people loved (Jeanne, Vicki, Viktor, Flick and some others). Suikoden Tiekries (On the Nintendo DS), took place in an alternate world, so there were no appearances by fan favorites, and no true runes, which is customary for the Suikoden games. So, they need to bring back what the fans love, and then they’ll recapture the success that the first few Suikoden games had. Oh, and I believe there was a pinball game made for Japan only, a couple of years ago… let’s try to forget the fact that it’s not 1980, and the only pinball game allowed now-a-days has Elvira as the star.

I try to base all of my life’s decisions on what horrifying illustrations of Elvira say.
Another series that has become strictly Japanese is .Hack, having released a game 2 years ago (.Hack//Link)- again on the PSP. .Hack is a very interesting game, it’s an RPG taking place in an MMO setting. The MMO is corrupt and some of the players end up being infected from the game, and go into comas. As the player, you uncover the corruption in the game, which will help the people who have been infected in real life. .Hack has spawned an anime series, volumes of Manga and a cult following. The series never sold too well in North America, so it’s only natural that they keep to a targeted market. .Hack never took off, despite being a very charming game with a bright cast of characters. The problem with the series (other than substandard graphics) is that each game came out in installments. The first .Hack has 4 installments, which means you pay full price for 1/4 of a game. And they come out at different times. Now the games are quite long, put together, but the first one had so much filler in it (collecting data cores from enemies to unlock more of the story… ugh…so tedious), that without the padding it could have fit into one game. The story was so deep and full of lore that I had to keep going despite the collection quests being irksome. The second game (.Hack//G.U) came out in 3 installments, and was better than the first. It didn’t have all the filler, and it improved combat, making it fast paced. However, it wasn’t hyped very well. Being a fan of the series, I didn’t even know of its existence until I wandered into EB Games, and noticed it randomly. I don’t know if .Hack can ever recover. It doesn’t have the fanbase that Suikoden has, and having the first two games come out in sections really hurt the series. Sure, many people may have purchased the first game, but that doesn’t mean they continued on with the other 3/4 of the game. It’s hard to build a fanbase when you’re blatantly sucking money out of them. At least pretend it’s a new game! But, they games were published by Bandai Namco games, which is a popular toy making company, who make action figures and video games based off anime shows (Digimon and Dragon Ball Z). .Hack also came out with a Ps3 fighting game, in Japan only, earlier this year. So things aren’t looking too bright for fans.





This is a Public Service Announcement asking you to help stop sexual assault in video games.
Lastly, what I wanted to talk about was a more recent series: Valkyria Chronicles. This game is a tactical, RPG/Shooter. It’s very quirky in it’s approach. It has breathtaking, stylized visuals, a great story telling narative and can often be quite challenging. The first game was for the ps3, and is one of the best games of the system (in my opinion). The second game (which I prefer to the first), takes a more light hearted tone, it’s set in a military academy, the characters you play are a bit younger, and it can be a bit sillier than the first. Which I find offsets the war and the tragic treatment of the Darscen people. The problem with the second is that it’s on the psp (AGAIN with late PSP games), but is cheaper to develop for. The third game is also on the PSP, but is for Japan only, and will likely remain that way since it’s been out for a year.
 

Coincidentally both Alicia’s expression upon finding out that Valkyria Chronicles 3 isn’t coming here and her O face.
How to save the series: I’m not sure there’s an easy fix, the game does so many things right, and has great word of mouth. They just have to get more people to buy the games! Take another chance on the current generation console. Port VC3 to the Vita and bring to it North America. I have read up on it, and it’s apparently leaps and bounds better than the second one, it’s a little darker, and it’s a cast full of misfits and criminals (my type of people!). Bring it here, please, and people will buy it!

For all intents and purposes I am considering a series dead when it sticks to Japan (like the Mother/Earthbound series…). To me, it’s technically dead. Sure, I can import it, but it’s not really worth it, and it’s not an authentic experience either. It’s a shame, it seems the games I care about the most are the ones that are so niche and eclectic that their fate is to be left in the dust when other, lesser games sell millions. Note, I’m not saying the games I mentioned are perfect, but they deserve a better treatment, because they are stellar games with a legacy to be told. And if I don’t find out more about the true runes, I swear I will go nuts and end up writing terrible fan fiction, and the world does not need any more fan fiction. Trust.

– Marty X

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