Archive for Meta

Firewatch: 6 Times Delilah Ran

I’ve been catching up on my games from 2016 before I go to GDC at the end of February. I just got through Firewatch which ran on my sad laptop at about 4fps, but I pushed through for Delilah. I’d do it again for Delilah.

Firewatch is played from the perspective of Henry, a 40-something married man whose wife is wasting away with early-onset Alzheimer’s. He takes a job in a park in Colorado where he is stationed in a tower on the lookout for forest fires. His only company is a voice on the radio – his supervisor, Delilah.

This is not a review. I assume most of you who are more on the ball than me have already played it. I’m just going to talk about Delilah’s character arc and motivations, so beware of spoilers below.

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Save the Past! – Storytelling in The Silver Case

I’ve been starving for adventure games for a long time now, and I’ve been particularly interested in Suda51’s adventure past since playing Super DanganRonpa 2. In October we finally got one of Suda’s long lost adventure games in English for the first time: The Silver Case, and I dropped the full price for it on release day.

For The Silver Case, I’m not going to talk about the story. Elements of it have been harvested into pop-culture which may lessen the blow of the plot on modern readers. In spite of that, there are other structural features in the game that we can still learn a lot from. I want to talk about how the medium tells the story in The Silver Case, with art direction, the Film Window, localization, and the Transmitter/Placebo separated narratives.

OKAY maybe I’ll talk about the story a bit, but more about it’s construction than it’s contents.

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Mystic Messenger: East vs West vs the Romance Genre

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If you’ve followed me for at least a year, you’ve seen how excited I was for the Mystic Messenger release early this summer. Due to technological issues caused by both my outdated phone and cumbersome bugs in the app, it took me until now – October 2016 – to complete all five good endings and both secret endings. In that time, I saw the game grow in popularity and I am so happy to see Cheritz hitting mass appeal (even if it means giving up the mythology built in Dandelion and Nameless).

Cheritz is a company based in South Korea that advertises “sweet solutions for female gamers”. So far, each of their titles showcase romantic routes that encourage personal growth. According to their page on the visual novel database, Mystic Messenger has only been localized from Korean to English, where Dandelion was also released in China and Nameless in Japan during the initial release. Cheritz is one of very few otome game developers that releases their games in English for the west, while others outsource translation and localization, or are adapted by fans (Nitro+Chiral, I’m looking at you). As a result I can only assume that westerners make up quite a bit of their market, which cannot be ignored when you look at their motivations when constructing Mystic Messenger.

Instead of a review this time, I’m going to go through many of the events, themes and characters of Mystic Messenger and assess where the appeals are stacked. Is this for Western audiences in the Americas and the UK? Is it for Korean audiences in Cheritz’s home field? Or is it something indicative of the romance/Dating sim genre? I’ hope this may explain why certain elements in the game didn’t appeal to me or you, and why that is.

Please be aware that this post contains potential spoilers for all endings and routes. Read at your own risk.

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The Emmerich Family Registry

Screenshot of Otacon saying to E.E.: "You knew our family's dark history and still got involved?! What's wrong with you?!"

Screenshot of Otacon saying to E.E.: “You knew our family’s dark history and still got involved?! What’s wrong with you?!”

I’ve been playing a bunch of Metal Gear Solid lately to expose my friends to it, and there’s an interesting cultural understanding hiccup involving the Emmerich family that I thought not everyone might know about: The Japanese concept of the family registry. With a family registry in place, it legally changes the construction of family as a concept. In Metal Gear Solid 2, this Japanese way of doing things is taken for granted, which makes the localization a bit awkward.

When I first played through MGS2 I remember I found E.E. and Otacon’s relationship unusual in ways a little off from the unrequited big brother crush. They remain deeply tied in family bonds even after Huey Emmerich died and Hal went off on his own. E.E. makes it clear that the two of them have no blood relation whatsoever – they are kids from different parents united through the marriage of their mother and father. They’re step-siblings.

As a Canadian, a westerner, who grew up in a single-parent home, I found it strange that the game pointed this out as being remarkable. If Otacon was old enough and had no blood ties or in his case, trauma related to the family, it’s fine for him to remove himself from the situation if he has the means. This is especially the case considering his trauma, and the fact that he probably did not have a mother/son bond with Emma’s mother, Julie. E.E. however, refers to Huey several times as her father, even though they are not related by blood.

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E.E.: He left me… my mother — when we needed him the most!
E.E.: When my father died, all he could think about was himself!

While this may be because they were close (although I doubt it, given the circumstances) I believe it’s because the Danzinger girls were legally on the Emmerich ‘family registry’, according to Kojima logic. When a family is married, one of the major parts of that tradition is when the woman is moved onto her husbands’ family registry. She belongs to her husband’s family then, rather than her own, so if this was the case then E.E. was adopted into the Emmerichs at that time. Everyone becomes legally responsible for each other. Emma is legally Hal’s sister, and Julie is his mother, and it would be the case until she marries someone else.

Of course since these characters are North American, this is not actually the situation they would be in. But, because the writers are Japanese, they took this system for granted. I love seeing this little cultural revelations when different cultures tell stories about each other.

The Family Registry comes up again in more depth later with Kazuhira Miller in Peace Walker. Since he was born to a Japanese mother and an American father, his father had no family registry in Japan with which to claim Kaz as his child. I think that, by the time of Peace Walker, Kojima has realized it’s not a worldwide phenomenon.

Wiki page | Screenshots from Youtube acct dansg08 | Patreon

 

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