Ys II: Ancient Ys Vanished – The Final Chapter

Introduction

Nihon Falcom’s Ancient Ys Vanished was a resounding success in Japan when it launched in 1987. Much like their earlier effort Dragon Slayer, Ancient Ys Vanished was an instrumental step in introducing action elements to the role-playing game genre.  However, this game differed from Dragon Slayer in one instrumental factor: it ended on a cliffhanger. As such, to an even greater degree than usual, fans clamored for a sequel. Fortunately, they were in luck. Believing the story of Ancient Ys Vanished could not be contained in a single game, Nihon Falcom were in the process of developing a resolution. It was released one year after its predecessor for the NEC PC-8801 and PC-9801 under the name Ys II: Ancient Ys Vanished – The Final Chapter. Even for those who enjoyed the original Ancient Ys Vanished, Ys II was considered a vast improvement in every significant way. What did this highly anticipated sequel bring to the table?

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The Prestige (Christopher Nolan, 2006)

As the nineteenth century comes to a close, Robert Angier and Alfred Borden work as shills for a famous magician in London. One trick in the magician’s repertoire involves Angier’s wife, Julia, escaping from a water tank while tied up. The act takes a tragic turn when Julia fails to escape the tank and drowns despite the shills’ best efforts. Furious over the loss of his wife, Angier blames Borden, believing that tying a double knot directly caused this tragedy. Shortly thereafter, the two launch their own careers, fiercely determined to upstage the other in a war that threatens to consume them both.

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December 2018 in Summary: And so 2018 Comes to a Close

Hope everyone enjoyed the holiday season! As the final month of the year, December proved to be quite a hectic month. In addition to the obligatory weekly game reviews, I ended up seeing a staggering 14 films (6 in theaters and 8 at home). The good news is that I’ve found a way to manage my time better and write the film reviews without disrupting my pattern. In fact, I used the spare time I had to write two editorials. For a majority of my readers, my piece on the highly unethical viral marketing campaign of Ex Machina was the first editorial of mine they read. Then, in the spirit of Christmas, I wrote an editorial about how gamers are ahead of the curve. They’ve gotten a bad rap over the decades, so I felt they needed something to boost their self-confidence.

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Ys I: Ancient Ys Vanished

Introduction

In 1981, a man named Masayuki Kato founded a video game developer. Calling it Nihon Falcom, his company released its first game in 1982: Galactic Wars. Over the next few years, they released a slew of other games for the PC-8801– part of a popular series of home computers manufactured by Nippon Electric Company (NEC). Their first true success came in the form of their 1984 release Dragon Slayer. It was groundbreaking at the time for providing a dungeon crawling role-playing experience that took place in real-time. As a result, it laid the foundation for what is now known as the action RPG. With a gigantic success on their hands, Nihon Falcom became one of the country’s big-name developers alongside Nintendo, Namco, and Taito.

In 1987, they released a different kind of action-RPG called Ancient Ys Vanished. Like Dragon Slayer before it, Ancient Ys Vanished proved to be very popular upon release, garnering significant critical acclaim from many publications. Despite its domestic success, this game didn’t fare as well internationally. It received ports on the Master System and TurboGrafx-16 CD – neither of which even came close to approaching the popularity of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). When a port for the game appeared on the Famicom, the original Japanese version of the NES, not only was it a vast departure from the original, it never received an official localization. Because of these factors, Ancient Ys Vanished never had a strong following abroad despite having a reputation comparable with Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest in its native homeland. What kind of game was left to fall by the wayside in the late eighties?

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The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)

This story takes place in West Virginia during the Great Depression. Serial killer Reverend Harry Powell, a self-anointed preacher, flees the scene of his last murder. He rationalizes his murders by believing he is punishing sinful women and using their money to preach God’s word. To this end, he has the letters “L-O-V-E” tattooed on the fingers of his right hand and “H-A-T-E” on those of the opposite. His luck seemingly runs out when he is arrested for driving a stolen car. However, he soon finds himself sharing a cell with Ben Harper, a criminal who, in a bank robbery, killed two people. Ben is sentenced to death shortly thereafter while Powell makes his way to the Harper household. The executed criminal apparently got his kids to promise not to tell the authorities where he hid the stolen money.

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Pale Flower (Masashiro Shinoda, 1964)

Yakuza hitman Muraki has just been released from prison. When visiting an illegal gambling parlor, he finds himself attracted to a strange young woman named Saeko. She regularly loses money gambling, and asks Muraki to find games with larger stakes. In his first days of freedom, Muraki finds himself entering a mutually destructive relationship that could threaten to destroy them both.

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4 Ways in Which Gamers Are Ahead of the Curve

Back in August of 2018, I had the pleasure of responding to a Sunshine Blogger Award. After I answered the eleven questions, I, in turn, proposed eleven of my own. To shake things up a bit, I tagged more than twenty random people at once. Though I enjoyed reading these answers, I have to confess that one in particular stood out – and not in a good way, unfortunately. One of the questions I asked concerned what cinephiles could learn from gamers. One individual, in lieu of actually answering the question, took this opportunity to go on a rant on how gamers are anti-intellectual, racist, sexist, exclusionary, and any number of pejoratives anyone versed in the hobby has heard countless times. In doing so, they unfairly put every single well-adjusted person who enjoys gaming into the same box as white supremacists, Neo-Nazis, and any number of unorganized bullies they would want nothing to do with.

The sad part is that it’s a typical example of how gamers tend to get portrayed in the media as well. It’s so pervasive that certain gamers have bought into it, and actively feel shame engaging in the hobby. You should never feel shame doing something you like – provided it isn’t immoral, of course. In all honesty, I wouldn’t be surprised if it turns out the media constantly putting down gamers could be a contributing factor to their bad behavior. After all, gamers have spent entire decades trying to prove they’re not monsters, yet the media pushes that narrative without any signs of stopping. If you tell a group of people they’re monsters for a long enough time, you don’t get to act surprised when they abandon their humanity and become just that. Note that being shunned doesn’t give a person a blank check to behave poorly; barring a debilitating neurological impairment or a truly extenuating circumstance, everyone has the ability to do the right thing.

Fortunately, despite the media’s best efforts, it’s not all doom and gloom. In fact, one thing I’ve observed over the years, which has become much clearer as time has gone on, is that gamers are remarkably progressive in certain fields compared to consumers of other media. Despite being apparent to anyone willing to do even the slightest bit of cursory research, they barely ever get reported in favor of clickbait articles detailing outlying gamers losing their minds, with the writers not knowing or not caring there’s much more to them than that. By this point, I think I’ve demonstrated that I’m not one to blindly go with the flow, so if the mainstream media wishes to demonize gamers, here’s an article praising their strong suits.

Now, to make things clear, the purpose of this editorial isn’t to ignore reality. I cannot deny certain pockets of gamers have certainly proven to be all four of those things that individual spoke of and more. I also don’t wish to downplay the very real instances in which would-be gamers have been shunned for incredibly petty reasons. Any of these grievances deserve to be called out for what they are. However, by that same token, you have to remember that many of these issues aren’t endemic to gamers specifically. One of the biggest reasons they tend to get the worst of it is because video games still haven’t quite reached that level of mainstream acceptance where most people can rightly dismiss the bad apples as not representative of the group as a whole. After all, if a mass murderer were to cite a favorite film as the blueprints for their crime, the media wouldn’t then go out of their way to damn cinephiles. In fact, if the film in question was mainstream, they would likely dismiss the perpetrator as a lone wolf. So now that I have established where I stand when it comes to gamers’ representation in the media, here are four ways in which I feel they can claim to be ahead of the curve.

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Ballz

Introduction

Street Fighter II: The World Warrior took the world by storm when it debuted in arcades in February of 1991. The competitive fighting game had existed since the mid-eighties, but Street Fighter II codified the genre. Countless enthusiasts formed long lines around the arcade cabinets, which eventually collected over two-billion USD in gross revenue within the next four years, meaning roughly nine-billion quarters were spent to play this game. Not surprisingly, when Capcom created ports for the prominent platforms of the fourth console generation, they became instant bestsellers.

In the wake of this overwhelming success, many developers saw potential in the exciting, new genre. One such developer was the San Francisco-based PF Magic. Their game was to be released on the Super NES, Sega Genesis, and 3DO. Tapping into the often sophomoric zeitgeist of the nineties, they titled their fighting game Ballz. Just to hit home that subtlety was off the table, the opening of the game stated “To be the champion, you gotta have Ballz!” Predictably, Nintendo wasn’t pleased and demanded the wording be changed for the SNES port. This version states “You gotta play Ballz!” The Genesis version was originally going to have online multiplayer support, which would have been made possible with the Edge 16, a planned modem adapter for the console. The plans for peripheral were scrapped by the time Ballz saw its release in 1994. Despite this setback, Ballz was released to a fairly warm reception. Famicom Tsūshin awarded it twenty-eight points out of a possible forty, Electronic Gaming Monthly gave the Genesis version a 6.2 out of 10, and GamePro wrote a positive review, praising its balanced gameplay and humorous sound effects. How does Ballz fare when compared to the countless other classic fighting games released around this time?

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The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (Luis Buñuel, 1972)

A bourgeois couple, the Thévenots, is traveling through France with Rafael Acosta, a diplomat from the country of Miranda, and Mme. Thévenot’s sister, Florence. They arrive at the Sénéchals, who are slated to be the hosts of a dinner party. However, there’s a bit of a problem; according to Alice Sénéchal, the dinner party was scheduled for the following evening. As such, they did not prepare a dinner. Undeterred, the party decides to eat out at a nearby inn. Strangely, they find it locked, though they are invited in after knocking on the door. The waitress seems reluctant and mentions the inn is under new management, but allows them in regardless. Upon discovering that the manager had died a few hours prior and his former employees are holding vigil over his corpse. Realizing the coroner is about to arrive, the party quickly leaves.

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Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, & Rodney Rothman, 2018)

Miles Morales is a teenager from Brooklyn who is struggling to adjust to the elite boarding school in which his parents have enrolled him. His father, Jefferson Davis-Morales, is a police officer with all of the sense and duty such a responsibility entails. He also frequently expresses annoyance over the efforts of a masked vigilante the public knows as Spider-Man. Feeling he has no one to speak to, he frequently seeks out his uncle, Aaron Davis, for advice. Aaron encourages Miles’s passion for graffiti, leading him to an abandoned subway station where he his nephew is free to draw to his heart’s content. Things take an interesting turn when a radioactive spider bites his hand.

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