January 15th, 2004


I should be working

Maybe. I get into the habit of being a hermit a little too easily, and we've had one of those unusual "on-call" periods at work of late. You know, 90% of the time is twiddling your thumbs, and 10% of the time, you can't get the work done fast enough.

So, I've been working hard, but when I haven't been working, I've been filling waaaay too much of my time with a console game. I'm ashamed to admit this on many levels, so let's take it as read that there's plenty of reasons I shouldn't be playing this game and let me get on to the bit I wished to exult about.

The game is "Skies of Arcadia Legends", which you probably haven't heard of, and if you had, maybe you've played it on the DreamCast. Is it similar? beats me. I've never been much of a Sega guy. (Many ironies there, ask me about them in a couple months.)

This is a Japanese-style Role Playing Game in the mold of Final Fantasy and whatnot. I'm no fan of that kind of game, but the artistic style and the setting is directly taken from Leiji Matsumoto. The characters look a little more pudgy and cartoony (ok, it doesn't make sense to say that something's more cartoony than anime...), but the pirate ships are recognizably Matsumoto.

Did I mention? You're a sky pirate. Yo Ho Ho and don't fall over the edge of the boat, because we're up in the clouds, and there's no water below. I don't know if there's anything below.

Another disconnected thought: Ok, maybe you're not familiar with the Arcadia world, but you may have grown up with Star Blazers.

And really, I'll tie that in backwardsly, that's how I got hooked on Matsumoto's work. Huge spaceships that unapologetically look like Ocean-faring ships. Anchors. Salty Sea Captains.

So. I'm playing SoAL, and there's a nautical theme that's a little silly if you think about it at all. Some of the pirate theme reminds me of Harlock/Maetel/Emeraldas. And there's an awful lot of running around doing silly stuff in the game. (Fetch me a moonfish! Gather me twelve bandyclefs!)

But the bit that really made it pay off for me was just this evening. Something like 24 hours into the game (good grief). I'm inside the bad guy's fortress, and I am "borrowing" a ship to escape with. At this point, we cut to a shot of the bridge that sends me into paroxysms of nostalgia for Star Blazers. The camera proceeds to lovingly pan around the outside of the ship. I nearly have chills for how much this little bit of non-interactive gameplay is tickling the nostalgia receptors in my childhood science fiction lobe.

All of this, and I'm maybe halfway through the game.