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Maou
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"Understatedly moving games" , posted Thu 25 Feb 12:51:post reply

So I just finished Fuurai No Shiren and got to thinking about games that have pretty minimalist stories but that end up being surprisingly moving. I want to hear yours! These aren't elaborate stories where you're meant to be moved by some of the developments, but rather, simple games where something ends up being very affecting regardless---it could be a sudden ending twist, a general atmosphere, or a certain set piece... Spoilertastic, I'm afraid:

So the roguelike Shiren is generally just about surviving dungeons in search of the legendary City of Gold, said to be blessed by the Golden Condor god-bird. Some simple and occasionally charming interactions with townsfolk and fellow wanderers, but not much story here, but when you reach finally the City at the end, the game suddenly feels very different. The legendary city is a ruin (with beautiful music), and through a mere eight or so engraved monuments around town, you have a whole story painted of how a monster appeared centuries ago that ate all the gold and bound the Condor, sending the city into ruin. Your quest for treasure is a failure, but you do find the damn monster, kill it, and free the Condor god from its bonds after so many years, riding it across the sky as everyone you've met in the game makes a wish---as legend says you're supposed to do if you should see the Condor fly. I found this unexpected set piece a surpisingly moving ending.

Estpolis Denki II (Lufia II) also comes to mind, where the real stars are the wonderful puzzle dungeon system and occasionally great music, not its tired (even in 1995) character tropes. Yet the story, usually relegated to the background, leaps to the fore in two places so effectively---the marriage and the final heroic sacrifice---that it was hard not to be impressed by the characters even if they were flat and did nothing of note for the rest of the game.

In some ways, I expect that Dragon Quest games in general may operate on a similar level, bringing a deep and adult theme to the fore even in the framework of a very "simple" story, almost like a heroic myth would.

Wander and/Shadow of the Colossus, of course, is another example of a powerful atmosphere being created almost completely without words or character interactions, as I remember Rogers writing back in the day.

Oh, and I hear about tales of love from Chulip!

Tell about yours!





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[this message was edited by Maou on Thu 25 Feb 13:53]

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Toxico
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"Re(1):Understatedly moving games" , posted Thu 25 Feb 13:28post reply

Phantasm / Avenging Spirit. I remember that it has 2 possible endings, you stay dead and your love interest dies, or you stay dead but managed to save her and she has to move on. To me it was quite shocking and was quite hard to comprehend that your every day guy who was just walking by the street could just get killed. Unlike other plataformers where storyline wise the "death" is more or less a fuel to the action, this game actually deals the dead in a more tragic tone, and after the end I could not help but to wish I could have done more for the character. Made me had seconds thought on how badly I beat people who did or did not deserve it, and how they could see this as an unjust, unfair disgrace and etc. Who said video games made you violent.

..... It's hard to think more, I'm too evil and uncaring. I did feel initally sorry for zombies, since they are forced to feed on humans.







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"Re(2):Understatedly moving games" , posted Thu 25 Feb 13:57post reply

If anybody ever asks me about moving games, one of my first answers is always Yuu Maze, a Famicom Disk System game.

The game is full of things that I could talk at probably excessive length about, whether it be making a 2P high-action Pacman game, including a level editor, having a main theme song that used a call-and-answer structure, having a final level that was meta level design (no maze, but full of enemies that could drop more dots), but the one thing that always gets me is ending.

The game has a story, but I couldn't read a lick of Japanese when I played it. Every few levels, you have a scene where the main character walks in front of a screen and some monster spouts out some dialogue with a funny bass gorilla-ish sound as the letters pop onto the screen.

The end of the game puts you into a first person perspective on rails, where at the end the evil professor dude and your brother will walk onto the screen. You have to shoot the evil professor dude before he shoots your brother. I failed this time and time again, and I was under the impression that it was impossible! In the end, I'd always see the evil guy and the brother dead on the floor. The song that plays is also quite sad. I was so conflicted when I saw that, because it felt like I had GAME OVERED, even though I had beaten the, ostensibly, final level.

Some years later I played the game, and found that it was indeed possible! I was stunned.

I enjoy sharing this story more than I ought to mainly because this was one of my many beloved games of my first game system, and there is still yet to be an FAQ for it on gfaqs.





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"Re(1):Understatedly moving games" , posted Thu 25 Feb 19:56post reply

Live-a-Live probably deserves a mention in this category (the game deserves more mentions in general, period), especially in the sci-fi chapter



Spoiler (Highlight to view) -
particularly in some characters' reactions to the others' deaths and general atmosphere. There's a bit of impact later on the the kung-fu chapter, and then there's the ending to the "secret" medieval chapter...

End of Spoiler







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"Re(1):Understatedly moving games" , posted Thu 25 Feb 20:05post reply

I'm not sure if it fits, but I'd like to nominate Legend Of Mana.
First because it's awesome, but also because the protagonist deliberately had no story, which left every other character have its own. Some were cheap, some were light, some others felt really poignant, and the fact no one was mandatory and all coexisted at the same time made the well-written ones even more touching.





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"Re(2):Understatedly moving games" , posted Fri 26 Feb 04:24post reply

Thanks to the previews for Heavy Rain the idea of emotional responses triggered by video games has been on my mind a lot lately. Who could have guessed a variation on this topic would pop up a few days later on the board?

One game that has always stuck with me for the response it drew forth is Way of the Samurai 2. In order to progress through the different melodramatic storylines in the story you not only have to trigger certain events but you have to make certain you don't trigger others. One of the quickest ways to make certain you go down an evil path is to act like a jerk to a little girl at the start of the game. On my many play-throughs of the game I had no problem cutting down a character who was an ally in my previous outing. But being mean to that little girl was impossible for me. I literally had to look away from the screen when I chose the option to chase her off. It's strange to see what parts of a game I can observe impassively while others make my heart jump into my throat.

Just yesterday I felt like I wanted to cry when I cancelled my order for Yakuza 3 but the culprit behind that emotional outbreak was Sega, not the game itself.





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"Re(2):Understatedly moving games" , posted Fri 26 Feb 09:58post reply

quote:
I'm not sure if it fits, but I'd like to nominate Legend Of Mana.
First because it's awesome, but also because the protagonist deliberately had no story, which left every other character have its own. Some were cheap, some were light, some others felt really poignant, and the fact no one was mandatory and all coexisted at the same time made the well-written ones even more touching.



I wholeheartedly concur!!! Being one of my favourite RPGs ever, it's no wonder I find it superb in every aspect, but the peaceful, nostalgic feeling the game exudes is truly worth of praise. The beautiful character and environment designs paired with the warm watercolors used in the backgrounds grants the game a unique feeling, as if LoM was some kind of Victorian-era interactive children book. And what to say about Yoko Shimomura's score...

Those points stated above would be enough to get me greatly interested but, as Iggy mentioned before, it's the decentralized narrative perspective what endowes the game with a sense of bucolic cotidianity that strikes the player even to this day (something none of the other games of the franchise has ever made me feel). IMHO, that "slice of life" feeling is what made the storylines so touching and enjoyable...







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"Re(1):Understatedly moving games" , posted Fri 26 Feb 20:58post reply

quote:
Shiren


(cut the quote, but you know what you said)

That sounds amazing. I've never had the motivation to finish a Shiren game, myself, so I'm glad you shared that with us.

quote:
In some ways, I expect that Dragon Quest games in general may operate on a similar level, bringing a deep and adult theme to the fore even in the framework of a very "simple" story, almost like a heroic myth would.


The ability to capture these ideas is the reason why DQ7 is my favorite in the series. The overall concept is really clever and the fairytale-esque mini-stories enrich it beautifully.

quote:
Wander and/Shadow of the Colossus, of course, is another example of a powerful atmosphere being created almost completely without words or character interactions, as I remember Rogers writing back in the day.


I can't tell you that you have the wrong idea in your own topic, but I feel like this one doesn't fit. Everything about Wander and the Colossus screams "EPIC!" In this case, actions (and music) speak louder than words...and I believe they speak SO loudly, that I can't call it "understated."

As for me, my top pick right now is Mountain of Faith. All of the Touhou games do a lot with a little. The characters sometimes only have a few lines, but make a big impression. Their words are chosen carefully. The music tells a story...the backgrounds (simple though they may be) tell a story...even the bullet patterns tell a story. Although it's not my favorite game in the series, Mountain of Faith has the strongest atmosphere. It's surprisingly melancholy. To me, it has a feeling of "lonely journey into autumn". I don't know if it will touch everyone like it touches me, but I find it to be one of the most thematically powerful (and sound) games I've played.

I'm sure I can think of some others with time, but off the top of my head, I can only come up with understated moments in not-so-subtle games.

For example, Final Fantasy XIII had its share of subtly touching moments. Despite it's huge, impressive 70 bazillion polygon super cinemas, some of its most powerful moments occurred on the field. The environments are so beautiful and so well-presented that you can't help but explore them, as if you were really there. Perhaps you'll find something meaningful in them, the same way that you would find something meaningful watching a sunset. Maybe one of your party members will even echo the sentiment ("If I hadn't left home, I never would've known how beautiful this world could be" or "there are flowers blooming even in a place like this" or whatever).

Also...sometimes, even when you're just walking around a map, the music will set the scene and give the location a special meaning. Even emotionally-ambiguous locations can be filled with feeling when your imagination is excited just a bit.

Hahaha...but for the record, I think FFXIII falls flat on more than one occasion where it tries (with less subtlety) to be dramatic.

Similarly, the most moving part for me in Lunar 2 occurred outside of a cinema. I nearly cried talking to all of the townspeople when I first make it to Vane...not because I was sad to see the city like that, but because it allowed me to understand Lemina in a much stronger way than any cinema could. It's one thing to watch the cast reconcile themselves with a character, but it's much more powerful to find yourself relating to them yourself and thinking "I misjudged you" in your own words.





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karasu99
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"Re(1):Understatedly moving games" , posted Sat 27 Feb 03:48post reply

Perhaps something is wrong with me emotionally, but despite the huge number of games I play, I rarely find their emotional content to be very high, so when I do, it seems significant. To wit:
quote:
Your quest for treasure is a failure, but you do find the damn monster, kill it, and free the Condor god from its bonds after so many years, riding it across the sky as everyone you've met in the game makes a wish---as legend says you're supposed to do if you should see the Condor fly. I found this unexpected set piece a surpisingly moving ending.


This does indeed sound very moving, and surprisingly moving for a game that I rarely think of as a storytelling masterpiece.
quote:

In some ways, I expect that Dragon Quest games in general may operate on a similar level, bringing a deep and adult theme to the fore even in the framework of a very "simple" story, almost like a heroic myth would.


I was going to mention DQV-- which was new to me pretty recently. I'm used to Final Fantasy and its attempts at being moving, which so often fall flat (for me anyway)-- the only exception I can think of-- where they actually succeed-- is Shadow and the floating continent-- especially if you don't wait for him, and then play again to find that you can save him. In DQV, I found the whole setting to be fairly moving.
quote:

Tell about yours!


Okay, I have two contributions, one somewhat normal, and the other not. For the 'normal', I'll cite the first Suikoden. I felt horribly guilty at getting my characters killed at different points during the game, given that they are all surprisingly well developed with individual storylines and characteristics. Granted, I last played it in 1996 or something, so perhaps the experience would be dulled today, but I don't think it's been reissued.

I have to confess that I am still trying to understand why the 'not normal' example has affected me the way it has. It's in No More Heroes 2, a game that is so overblown and written in an intentionally stupid way that I'm surprised that any content is worth mentioning at all. I'll spoilerize my comment so as to not offend:



Spoiler (Highlight to view) -
At the beginning of the game, Travis's video store owner friend Bishop is executed by a group of thugs. For some reason, this fellow's goofy comments in the first game (with poorly but endearingly read voice acting), his cheeriness with Travis, and the genuinely pitiful look on his face as he is about to be murdered has really hit me hard in a strange sort of way. It's worth mentioning that I almost didn't continue playing the game after this scene, but I almost wonder if Suda 51 intended it that way, and that by watching the murder of Travis's completely innocent friend it would lend some sort of thought process to a game where you constantly slaughter legions of nameless thugs in horrible ways.

End of Spoiler







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"Re(2):Understatedly moving games" , posted Sat 27 Feb 21:51post reply

The last stage of Rez.
Thinking about evolution, both biological and spiritual, is an amazing concept presented with amazing graphics in an amazing game and underlined by an amazing music.

Okami is also one of the best moving games in terms of "I'm a god and have powers" thing. It's a very sensitive way having an animal represent this.

Err...the kitty in Shenmue....very closer to my experience with cats.

The trailer of The Last Guardian, I have a terrible sensation about that creature will sent to death in the end.

The love theme of Xenogears, not childish and emo as a Final Fantasy one.

The first time I ever turned on a new console, except the 360.





Maese
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"Re(3):Understatedly moving games" , posted Tue 2 Mar 19:33:post reply

A Thread about games with minimalist stories which develop into moving experiences, and nobody has mentioned Ico yet? I am disappoint, MMCafe. The game's script could easily be condensed in little more than half an A4 sheet, and yet is one of the most touching stories I've ever played. You can't possibly express more with less.

Another truly epic one, albeit not so minimalistic, is Gensou Suikoden. Pretty much all the series (up to GenSui 3, at least) is full of insanely epic moments, but the first one always struck me as specially touching, perhaps because it's also the most candid and less pretentious of them all. No other game, ever, has provoked the same sensations on me. It vividly depicts a bunch of controversial themes you don't get to see on games very often. For example how humans bring out both the best and the worst within themselves when facing the crudeness of war. Or what to do if your own path collides with the path chosen by your loved ones. There are also some other recurring motifs which are equally well treated: the unavoidable yoke of destiny, how to deal with your own life and dead...

From the very moment when young Tir McDohl chooses to betray his own country and joins the rebellion, till the very last battle where the fallen emperor Barbarossa aknowledges his misdeeds and puts an end to his life, Suikoden is really an epic experience to behold.

The "My father goes his way, I go mine." line the hero spits out when meeting the rebel leader in a gloomy sewer is an all time favorite of mine. Same goes for the scene where the hero faces his own father's army in battle and ends up killing him in duel. The loving father, a great general of the Empire, dies with a smile in his face praising his son for not betraying his convictions and threading his own path, just as he had taught him to do... even if that ultimately meant to end up in opposing sides of the conflict. That was the closest I've ever been of shedding a tear when playing a game.

Also, I find particularly amusing the fact that you can choose to behead or pardon most of the defeated commanders. Those fellows have sent your own guys to an early grave, sometimes in a very gruesome way, and yet you can show your broad-mindness and magnanimity and have them join your ranks. Brilliant.

Spoilers ahoy, yeah, but who cares.


EDIT: Glad to see I'm not the only Suikoden lover here!





[this message was edited by Maese on Tue 2 Mar 20:28]

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"Re(4):Understatedly moving games" , posted Tue 2 Mar 23:39post reply

This is embarrassing but I thought the final stage in Space Channel 5 part 2 was really moving! I just wanted to jump up out of my seat and yell "" during the final scenes.

Killer7 had a similar effect as well. When the mental rape was over all I wanted was more!





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"Re(5):Understatedly moving games" , posted Tue 2 Mar 23:56post reply

quote:
This is embarrassing but I thought the final stage in Space Channel 5 part 2 was really moving! I just wanted to jump up out of my seat and yell "" during the final scenes.

The worst part of this post is that I fully agree with it.





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"Re(4):Understatedly moving games" , posted Wed 3 Mar 10:57post reply

Since I'm surprised not to see it mentioned yet, Cave Story had some moments. The half-way point where you have to sacrifice your female counterpart to move on was cleverly-presented enough to be moving yet very understated.

quote:

EDIT: Glad to see I'm not the only Suikoden lover here!



I hesitate to call any game in the Suikoden series understated, really. I'm a huge fan, but the very concept of Suikoden is to be on an epic scale no matter how it's presented.





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