Sunday, March 27, 2016

Life is Strange but Amazingly Entertaining (Theories and Review)

Front Cover
(3/26/2016) --- Life is Strange but surely is beautiful. I don't regret waiting for the game almost a year later in order to play it, it let me enjoy to the fullest. What I find fantastic about the game is the interaction that it gives the player towards creating predestination paradoxes through the entire course of the episodes.

The game centers on Maxine "Max" Caulfield who after waking up from a nightmare within her photography teacher  Mark Jefferson and later going to the restroom of the school she attends and witnessing the murder (without even knowing of her best friend) of Chloe Price she discovers that she can rewind time but as well manipulate it on a certain extent.

Max abilities comes with a price, every time she manipulates time she gets some health issues manifested towards headache, bleeding through her nose and loosing her conscious. The biggest repercussion Max have because through the use of her powers is that every time she interact with the fabric of reality she brings destruction to everyone around her.

Illuminatis?
What is entertaining about the game is how it explores the possibilities of different scenarios if the person has the power to re-do them. The actions you take, even if they are unrelated will have a repercussion later (1). It is almost related as trial and error but as well interaction between a global ecosystem.

The interactions between Max and her environment doesn't seem to be connected at first, in fact after Max wakes up from the nightmare and realizing that it could be that, just a nightmare. A storm creating a destruction path around Arcadia Bay; at first is difficult for Max to know why she was suddenly in the middle of a storm while walking on to her way on the top of the hill where the lighthouse was located (2)

Arcadia Bay - Polarized
The idea that maybe Max instead of having nightmares or having foreseen the future could be ambiguous, instead she could be at that exact moment where the town she grow up to be destroyed, She mentions it feel real when she walking on the top of the lighthouse cliff and feel the wind, only for her to wake up moments later in her classroom.

To think that maybe that moment where she was going to die on the cliff wasn't a nightmare but a moment in time where she "jumped" (3) from a failed attempt to save Chloe and or Arcadia Bay  and went back to the beginning of her time frame in order to re-do things over, but due the stress of being annihilated she developed some form of amnesia that prevented her to use the full extent of her abilities to manipulate time itself.

Mr. Jefferson Class
If Max could manipulate the general and relativity's, and move herself to the same coordinates in space time, where she finds herself an anchor she could essentially master her abilities to prevent certain moments in history. The idea is shown in Max's affinity to photographs in which she can travel back and forth if she has a relation to the photo (4) but thus creating a paradox or a causality.

Life is Strange deals with some ethical decisions about what to do to save someone, but also it is incredibly similar to a 2011 game named Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller (5), in which the protagonist a detective had some form of psychometric skills and let her see the objects history as well to interact with the past by possessing a certain individuals as well to alter the events of the future. Also both protagonist share a same sex attraction and their romantic half sacrifice themselves or are OK with the sacrifice in order to have their loved ones have a better life.

Cognition Cover
The game is quite enjoyable, it is well written, it is engaging into the gaming experience. The gameplay is extremely easy to master but one aspect of the controllers at least for PS4 is that is difficult to aim at certain objects in order to interact with them, such as opening the window to save the blue-jay or in the very beginning to move the utility bucket to grab the hammer and save Chloe from her first assassination.

The camera itself is quite friendly with the surroundings, always being half a frame from Max's waist up. The background music is just amazing as it have a catologue of indie compositions that fit so perfectly on the melancholic tones seen in the scenario, giving the game a sad atmosphere. It is just charming as well moving in which the experience seems to be a dream within a dream.

I really hope in the future there is a sequel or at least a spiritual one that will give more information about someone else with similar powers and how Max and Chloe could help that person, all of course depends on the decisions took by the player on the first five chapters of the game. Even so, it would be fun to see Mark Jefferson as the protagonist of his own game and explore his descent to becoming a murderer.

References:


  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butterfly_effect
  2. http://life-is-strange.wikia.com/wiki/Arcadia_Bay
  3. http://life-is-strange.wikia.com/wiki/Max_Caulfield#Powers_and_Abilities
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_travel#Backward_time_travel
  5. http://www.adventureclassicgaming.com/index.php/site/reviews/769/

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Theory of a Game: Smash Brothers and Fighting Against God

Master Hand
(3/19/2016) --- Lately I've been thinking about Smash Brother's (1) as one of the core games of the Nintendo franchise. The original game was developed by HAL Laboratory (2) on 1999 for the Nintendo 64 platform.

The game spawned four sequel, technically three because the Nintendo 3DS version is not very different from the Wii U version. The game franchise could take different interpretations such as the lose of innocence as well transitioning to adulthood. (3)

One aspect I've been thinking a lot as a theory what if the game dynamics also represent a fight between fate itself or an allegory to the Titanomachy (4) and even so an elaborated concept of Acts 5:39 in which at the end is just a mere fight against God as well to the order.

Yet, the idea seems to be quite extreme on that level but at the end the characters are facing the same essence of what it gave them life, The Master Core (5 - 6). The idea of the Master Core itself as a force of creation could be related more to the Shinto lore and the Kami (7) interpretation of the Gods between a part of nature instead of being something independent the Master Core and his emissaries are part of the same universe.

Tabuu
We have the concept of a trinity between the Master Hand, Crazy Hand and Tabuu. All of them act as heralds of the Master Core as well they compose part of is essence in which the story develops; but at the end is when the player defeat the hands where the true self of the Master Core is revealed.

The Core is corrupted, is not perfect, it has become corrupted. At the end what is the core? Is an ethereal being, is a being that at the end is composed of mere energy, but the way it interacts with the player shows that Core is a force that creates stability on the universe. Not only can be interpreted as the heart of the person that is playing with his toys.

The globes of the hands they look a lot as if they were Mario or Luigi, but at least an entity that creates a reflection on the beings that seem to influence the universe. What if The time-frame of the game is set on a point where the universe is about to collapse and the Master Core is looking for someone to hold his essence? I know is just a mere crazy theory, but it doesn't sound as farfetched because the characters are fighting against the entity who gave them life.

The problem is on why to defy the God of this universe? The same being who controlled every single strings of their actions. It would be the ultimate sin, the last taboo; and probably that was the sin that was committed on Brawl with the defiance of the last boss Tabuu, who tried to control the power of the Core but failed.

At the end there is no heaven or hell, much of the characters turn back into the status of figurines, they just turn back into what they were beings with no essence, who lead a fight that had no victory; because at the end life is just a mere mirage.


References:


  1. http://www.mariowiki.com/Super_Smash_Brothers
  2. http://www.hallab.co.jp/
  3. http://gamerant.com/super-smash-bros-theory/
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Titanomachy
  5. http://www.ssbwiki.com/Master_Core
  6. http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2013/07/26/wii-us-super-smash-bros-wont-have-story-mode-for-the-worst-reason-ever/#1e4be327792e
  7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kami

Friday, March 18, 2016

How Any Upcoming Zelda Games Should Take Inspiration From Chrono Trigger

(3/18/2016) --- Chrono Trigger and The Legend of Zelda are two of the most emblematic games within the niche of the market back in the late 80's and early 90's. The games still resonate within the imagery of the public as well the generations who played them; in fact The Legend of Zelda (1) is still popular and the franchise had developed into multiple spin-offs while Chrono Trigger (2) only had a few off-shots including Chrono Cross and Radical Dreamers.

Players have to understand that these two games created an impact in the imagery of the players of each generations and influenced developers within the next decades.

As any other franchises Square sequels with the Chrono project didn't had the same economical and social reception as the first installment, besides the lack of organizational approach the developers wanted to take (3).  The Chrono series itself offered a very defined aspect in the world of storytelling, it was precise but at the same time gave the players the chance to explore a complex world that surrounds La Guardia.

Then in 1998 we got one of the seminal games of all times, Ocarina of Time (4), the game essentially changed the modern panorama (5) and there is an expectation that Zelda Wii U will achieve something similar. What is interesting that both games contain similar fantasy elements and were similar successful on their own time is that Zelda prevailed on a commercial ground.

Zelda itself could learn in terms of continuity and gameplay could learn from the success of Chrono, as both franchise at a certain point had used time-travel as a storytelling resource, probably by technical issues when Ocarina of Time hit the market contained less space for a bigger scenario but as time and technology progressed within the industry, maps became as big as the game story mode.

The Legend of Zelda had reached a point that it the time frame of the chronology got divided into three different timelines (The Fallen Hero, The Adult Timeline and The Child Timeline) and the story of the game became quite convoluted, not to mention sparse as different Links appeared on the games, all justified by endless cycle of reincarnation. Almost being as a cruel joke to live in an eternal existence of misery and suffering (6).

The Wii U version could update the idea of time traveling by placing Link to interact with different eras much as it happened with Crono, in another case it could still follow the interaction between Hyrule, Termina or Lorule and let the player play on the different dimensions of the multiverse. There are so many different options to explore within the development of technology and the creative use of storytelling to revitalize the franchise back as it was on the golden days.

The incorporation of playing as multiple characters or adding a party wouldn't be a bad idea either, it won't turn the game into another RPG or a clone of Final Fantasy; the idea of multi-characters interactions is already been explored on Hyrule Warriors - even if it's not part of the canon, it gives a fresh perspective on the story of the Hyrule Fantasy -.

Queen Zeal
Using a certain set of characters through the game and giving a direct continuation to what happened to the previous ones. Bringing a more complex villain that don't fit on the Ganon archetype could be awesome. Thinking of a Machiavelli villain as the Queen of Zeal in which she showed hate and was in a search of immortality, without even hesitating into sacrificing her own daughter to obtain such power.

The Interlopers or at least characters that could be similar could be the best villain as they seem to be more complex on their machinations. Being them the Twili, as well with their previous history of bringing chaos they could be  used as the best villains to explore topics of desolation and power. Instead of finding the villain who only wants some personal gain through a powerful artifact or as well his disciples who aren't far away from their masters persona.

Inspiration could come into exploring further time traveling, the Time Stones and how the Ocarina was created could give some interesting plot lines to the games. Letting Link be more freely and let the players know more about Hryule without being too cryptic about the world they are playing in.




References:


  1. http://zeldawiki.org/The_Legend_of_Zelda_(Game)
  2. http://chrono.wikia.com/wiki/Chrono_Trigger
  3. Game Informer staff (February 2008). Game Informer. GameStop Corporation. pp. 24–25.
  4.  http://zeldawiki.org/The_Legend_of_Zelda:_Ocarina_of_Time
  5. http://www.designntrend.com/articles/72293/20160318/legend-of-zelda-wii-u-dev-game-finished-ocarina-of-time.htm
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rebirth_(Buddhism)

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Game Theory Book of Mudora and the Evolution of the Hylian Language

(3/15/2016) --- Hello everyone; on this entry we are going to explore a little bit the myths and theories behind the Book of Mudora. As much of the Zelda fanatics know the book of Mudora is an item that at first appeared at Link to the Past as a tool that assisted Link in order to translate the ancient Hylian Language.

The problem with the Book of Mudora it goes on the translation of the versions. In the Japanese version there are no pieces of information towards what the Book of Mudora is beyond being a translation tool. In the North America release, the Book of Mudora was added more text and became more a core book towards the Hylian mythology.

It became the book with the core beliefs of the Hylian culture, the prophecies as well the language. The book became much of a central book of the beliefs and theism of the culture; in other words the idea of the Book of Mudora being an analogue of the Bible, Quaran or the Torah.

At the same time the book projects a more serious approach on semiotics and the theory that mostly the Book of Mudora is a composition of the evolution of the Hylian language. It is not strange for a cultural group of people to let dedicate a study of the evolution of the language or the applications. In other words The Book of Mudora could be a treaty on Hylian semiotics instead of being some sort of holy book; but at the same time we all know that language plays an important part of the lore within The Legend of Zelda; language within the folklore that is shown in the game it is shown as almost sacred, a tool in which the users can change the world.

As in a real world example, the use of the printed text as well with religious tones could be linked to the evolution of the language. We can relate to Johannes Gutenberg and the invention of the printer in which by just making the Bible accessible to the masses it created a beginning for literacy. Within every game there is some sort of evolution of the language.

The Great Deku Tree
If you have some time, I recommend checking on this link in which there is a complete explanation on how language evolve. The common denominator in the evolution of the language is set on the parameters and conventionalisms where a group of individuals set in order to interact between a channel. All of these has to go to the assumption that the understanding of the meaning vs. the object has the be understood by all the parties.

Translation from one language to the other is just of finding the interpretation on what vocable superimpose other in each language as well how to create a linguistic synapses between the communication process. All these process (that I probably just explained as short as possible) can take as little over 20 years in which words evolve and all over the course of a century.  Which is the same case within the Hylian language on the different timelines, which all of them show an evolution of the communication process that takes at Hyrule.

On one side of the graph we have Old Hylian and on the other we have New Hylian. Old Hylian was the common text found in Ocarina of Time while New Hylian being the a direct successor on the timeline.

Both set of texts have influence on Hiragana and Katakana syllabary, albeit the presentation is rather cryptic due the developers not containing a proper design on the writing system of Hyrule but if we use the Japanese system as a starting point we can interpret that the alphabet evolved (depending on the timeline) towards a complex system similar as the Kanji.

Now going back on the very beginning, the Book of Mudora has a relation towards the evolution of Hyrule since the Era of Creation. Not by containing the prophecies per-se but rather the tools that gave the future generations to settle and flourish; because if it wasn't due the influence of language there wouldn't be any kingdom or cities.

Thank you for reading.

References:



  1. http://zeldawiki.org/The_Legend_of_Zelda:_A_Link_to_the_Past
  2. http://zeldawiki.org/Book_of_Mudora
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semiotics
  4. http://zeldawiki.org/Hylian_Language
  5. http://www.pnas.org/content/96/14/8028.full
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hiragana
  7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katakana

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Religious Imagery Found in The Legend of Zelda Chapter One

(3/7/2016) --- Hello everyone. I hope you all are having a great week so far; I had the time to set some errands on my side as well enjoy life a little bit more. This is the first chapter of an analysis of socio-economical history of Hyrule as well the different kingdoms and how much the real word had influenced the game franchise.

The Legend of Zelda and the Book of Magic

To start this journey we need to go on a chronological order in which each game had been released; the reason is it will be simpler to understand how the practices of censorship's between Nintendo and Nintendo of America influenced the releases of each game.

Bible
As many players know by experience, within the first game The Legend of Zelda: The Hyrule Fantasy we are exposed to an open world in which the player must travel through the over world of Hyrule in search of the mythical artifact known as the Triforce of Wisdom, that was shattered into 8 pieces to be hidden from Ganon.

The game itself wasn't explicit towards the Zelda mythos, as being the first of is kind and because of the system limitations of the Nintendo. What is interesting is that there are some form of censorship's from the North American Branch that are still present, albeit probably less harsh than it was on the 80's.

Within the first game it was impossible to know what were the major historical influences that surrounded the world of Hyrule and if it was similar to our own. During the gameplay there are certain elements found within the world that is in ruins, such as the Book of Magic which is a power up item which change the nature of the spells cast by the Magical Rod.

The Book of Magic in the original Japanese version was called Bible, but due the strict content of the North American branch the game elements where edited, albeit probably due a censor mistake much of the original artwork was kept inside the artwork book in which the content remained intact. 

The idea of what Zelda was and was originally intended had evolved beyond the first game of the franchise; much of it back then look as a fantasy adventure not very different from Dungeons and Dragons, but also it had a tint of the Crusades within a knight acting in behalf of a ruler to retrieve a piece of information, kill an enemy and recover a power artifact. There were so many speculations but the game itself didn't offered too much beyond the post-apocalyptic scenario which was located.

The game itself has a lot of subtle elements towards the creators beliefs as well literary influences on what made them to develop the game into a well known franchise. In another entry we will explore more about the Hyrule myths; one detail that this game got some notoriety was due the confusion between the Manji pattern and the lack of understanding of Buddhist symbolism within the Western Hemisphere.

The Manji
What is fantastic about the game is that incorporate so many different elements of the world in very subtle ways, that can lead to interpretations about Link's journey. The third dungeon within the incorporation of the Manji could lead to interpret that there is something better on Link's future but as well balance due the mixing of the good fortune with the number 3.

Number three within the Christian eschatology means perfection but as well balance. It can go with a path through illumination and redemption in the process of the journey about saving a kingdom that was left in ruins.

The essential battle between good and evil could represent the complex fights between a person ego against the environment, the simple desire to do something noble without gaining any personal gain in the process. The problem within this timeline as well within the first setting is that there are no parallels to compare him with anyone else, he is no savior, no hero from any prophecy, no reincarnation, no nothing. He is just a young guy who appeared outside in order to save someone (Impa) and through his deeds he was entitled to help saving the Kingdom of Hyrule, in a timeline where the Hero originally fallen thus leaving room for a new beginning.  



References:

  1. http://www.jjmccullough.com/Nintendo.php
  2. http://zelda.wikia.com/wiki/Book_of_Magic
  3. http://injapan.gaijinpot.com/play/culture/2012/06/12/cats-numbers-and-other-japanese-superstitions/
  4. http://christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/2933/why-is-the-number-three-special
  5. http://zelda.wikia.com/wiki/Link