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Another PSX Classic: Vagrant Story

Apparently trying to obtain screens from my original, black-box copy of Parasite Eve is a fool's game and my playthrough is stalled until I can obtain a copy of...a different pedigree. I find it kind of strange that while I've done more to promote Parasite Eve than SE has for the past decade (which isn't the arrogant statement that it might sound like, considering the fact that they've done absolutely nothing), I could conceivably get in trouble for possessing a not-downloaded copy of it, which I'm essentially just using as a tool to continue promoting it. I don't mean to make a big deal out of this (especially because I would NEVER, EVER, download anything!), this is just the kind of thing I remember whenever anyone tries to convince me that copyright law as it currently stands isn't basically archaic.

However, would you like to know what game mysteriously screencaps beautifully?

That's right, Vagrant Story: The game where a giant dragon crashes through the stained-glass ceiling of a cathedral and starts breathing fire on you not ten minutes into the game, and you're still not through the (entirely skippable) introduction. Whether they were obscenely ambitious or just terribly confused, this was a game where the creators must have sat down one day and said "Why don't we have the final boss fight during the opening credits, and just let everything get more epic from there?" I think the design document was actually a teal Post-it note with doodle of Ashley Riot and the words "Kick some FUCKING ass!" written on it. In a good way.

When not busy singing "Mmm-Bop!", Sydney is an interesting character.

Vagrant Story is also a very useful as a standard of reference. It's become popular in recent years to insult the graphical quality of the PSX, since early-3D graphics have not aged as well as their 2D predecessors. In actuality, some of the better looking games on the PSX compensated for the relatively low power of the console with superlative artwork and exceptional overall design, not to mention that the level of abstraction that blurry, pixellated graphics could bestow could sometimes work in the games' favor rather than against it; VS for example has an illustrative quality to it that I find far more appealing than your typical hyper-real 3D game. You could try to argue that even if the painterly style that the graphical limitations led to was sometimes beautiful, it was still a failure to create something else-- realistic 3D graphics.

Wanna know something else that was a failed attempt to make something different? Penicillin. I think that turned out pretty well.

This really pissed-off Wyrm is the second encounter in VS; there are so many dragons in VS, some of them are relegated to redshirt-status.

Naturally, whenever anybody says "the Playstation had crappy graphics!", it begs the question "Uh, did you play Vagrant Story?", at which point the first person either has to concede "Damn, good point", or confess that they've never played VS, in which case they are an ignorant, worthless human being and no one cares about their opinion anyway. I might be exaggerating a tad, but you get the idea.

I'm not going to go into VS with the same level of detail that I go into Parasite Eve because, despite the fact that VS is the superior game, PE has more personal resonance to me. They are sister-games, in a way; VS obviously built on some of the mechanics that Square used a few years earlier in PE, and they're both among a small group of good games that Square produced during the era that weren't called Final Fantasy. They're opposites, in a way: PE was a game with a lot of brilliantly innovative ideas that was sometimes let down by its execution. Vagrant Story is a game that doesn't sound terribly original when you try to explain it (a game in a medieval setting with swords and spells and dragons? You don't say!), but every aspect of the game is imbued with so much depth and handled with so much finesse that originality seems to be almost beside the point. I've played a lot of games and read a lot of fantasy novels that predated VS, but in many respects, VS succeeds in being what those other experiences attempted to be and failed.

Current-gen graphics can go to hell, frankly. Or as Ashley would say, "To hell with thee!"

And speaking of "experiences", another reason why VS is so relevant right now is that it proves that you don't have to make a choice between gameplay and artistic merit. It succeeds as a cohesive experience in a way that few games do, and yet it's a blast to play. The level of difficulty and micro-managing involved renders it unsuitable for many gamers, however those that like it, REALLY like it. In ten years, I have yet to encounter anyone who's lukewarm about Vagrant Story; either you love it, or you don't want to play it. There is little in-between.

I love these "Another day at the office" moments.

I could go on about the nigh-seamless integration between story and gameplay, the allure of discovering little tidbits about the game's largely implied backstory, the fact that the game retains a truly medieval feel despite the fact that it takes place in a very different world then your typical medieval setting, the epic soundtrack by Sakimoto (sorry for the repetition, but sometimes "epic" is the only word you want to use in regard to this game), the fact that Square apparently hired actual WRITERS to write the dialogue instead of writing it at 3AM the night before the game was supposed to go gold, etc.
However, I should probably just leave it at that and save more gushing praise of VS for another time: You wouldn't want to
have to handle TOO MUCH EPIC at once, would you?
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About GamingGoddessone of us since 12:13 AM on 08.27.2008

Links to all things Me:

My Personal Blog
Because I occasionally think about things other than games (I know-- for shame!)
Currently doing a 20-year history of Nine Inch Nails, because apparently I don't have enough projects that are HUGE TIME-SUCKING MONSTERS. Anyway, I try to keep anything that's videogames-related on Gaming Goddess, but there's a little bit of inevitable crossover.

My graphic novel, Sterling
There is some videogame-related stuff in Sterling, particularly Final Fantasy, but that's not really the focus. Meant for adults, so don't say I didn't warn you:).

My Twitter I'm very conscious of twitter-spamming, so I try to tweet only when I update one of my blogs or comics. Some people can get away with constantly tweeting charming little witticisms and it's neat, but I think if you have any interest in my twitter at all, it should be useful, never a nuisance.

About the name Gaming Goddess: No, I do not have delusions of grandeur! At least, not about games!
The origin of GG is this: My boyfriend's Mom is REALLY good at Space Invaders and games like that, leading me to dub her the "8-bit Goddess". We decided that 8-bit Goddess would be a really good name for the gaming blog that I wanted to start, except it would be false advertising since I personally suck at 8-bit games. So I changed it to the more general Gaming Goddess-- so I'm good at some type of games, I just don't have to specify which ones:).

Of course, if my boyfriend's awesome mom wants to start a blog, she can be the 8-bit Goddess, and I will bow to her in humble submission.

Favorite Games:
Final Fantasy VII
Final Fantasy VIII
Final Fantasy X
Final Fantasy Tactics
Azure Dreams
Vagrant Story
Parasite Eve
Tomb Raider
Tomb Raider II
Resident Evil 2
Metal Gear Solid
Izuna: Unemployed Ninja
X-Men Legends
X-Men Legends II
Tenchu: Stealth Assassins
Tenchu 2: Birth of the Ninja
Diablo II
.hack (the first batch)

Currently Playing:
I have decided to change this section to only what is in my consoles AT THE MOMENT as opposed to every game I'm technically in the middle of. Accuracy FTW.

DSi: Final Fantasy IV (It's amazing! Why did I wait so long?)
DS: ARMY OF MOOGLES, I mean, Final Fantasy VI
PS2: Odin Sphere
PSOne: Azure Dreams, Parasite Eve, Tomb Raider

Latest Fan Art:

Yeah, something new! Rydia's cool, people complain about the graphics in the new DS version of FFIV but I love the way the characters look...well, except for Rosa. The girl could use pants.

About Me:
I'm a starving artist/freelance writer/comic book artist/insert other vocation that makes very little money. If you're on Destructoid, chances are I am older than you. That kind of pisses me off.

Anyway, I'm working on some projects that I think might be of interest to some Dtoid readers, but I think I'll keep most of that stuff in my profile section, so the Cblogs won't be taken up with self-promotional posts from me. I'll add the info to my profile when I start my new comic and things like that.