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Tales of a great big coincidence

Most JRPGs are not shy about rubbing their bollocks in your face. The 'Tales of' series in particular, I have found, has a fondness for made up words and plot devices that are about as easy to swallow as a steel porcupine.

(See Tales of Eterniaís mirror world in the sky or Tales of Symphoniaís parallel dimension mutual vampire worlds.)

Let us use Tales of Xillia as an example. (Spoilers ahead.) In this game everyone in the world has a mana lobe in his or her brain. This lobe enables people to Ďchannel spiritsí thus producing magic. The amount of spirits a person can channel is limited by the size of their mana lobe. However, this limit can be overcome through the use of an object known as a Spyrix. Unfortunately using a Spyrix will cause spirits to die. Are you following this bollocks so far?

Suspension of disbelief. When I am playing a game that means I see the world as a world and the characters as characters. That is as opposed to seeing the world as a series of pre designed environments and the characters as a collection of animations and poorly written dialogue.

Trying to play a game while your suspension of disbelief is broken is like trying to read a book while two people behind you are having a conversation. Itís distracting. Strangely enough, none of the things I have mentioned so far have the power to pull me out of a gameís world. I will tell you what does though.

Back to Tales of Xillia. At a certain point in the game, the character Milla loses the use of her legs. Jude, being the hero I guess, decides to take Milla back to his hometown hoping that his father will be able to fix Millaís legs. (Side note, Judeís father is an arsehole.) So Jude arrives in his hometown. The ship pulls in, Jude and Milla step out onto the dock. IMMEDIATELY a new character called Leia appears. Leia is Judeís childhood friend who just happens to be hanging around at the dock, on the same day, at the same time as Jude arrives home. On the same day, at the same time, messing around with a wheelchair. Thatís handy isnít it? Not only does she have a wheelchair with her but it is a spare wheelchair. Nobody needs it, Leia was just messing about with a couple of kids. Also, strangely enough, at no point on their journey have Jude and Milla managed to acquire a wheelchair for themselves. Even though Jude is supposed to be a medical student and fairly smart.

Do you see what I mean? All that business about Mana Lobes and Spirit Climes, Iíll take that. That is what I am here for. You can fill the story with as many fantastic concessions as you like. All it takes is a little bit of lazy writing and all of sudden Iím no longer in the world. Iím right back on the couch.
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About Mark Smeeone of us since 12:06 PM on 05.19.2012

I started gaming with the NES. I had quite a few games back then which are now mostly forgotten. I remember I had a game called Totally Rad. I never finished it but I always liked it because the bosses filled the screen and you could use magic to turn into animals. Also the game is called Totally Rad.
Back then there was no internet and I never bought magazines so I chose every game based on the box art. Which is how I ended up with Super Turrican. Turrican was my Mega Man, I never finished it.


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