Oddly enough, after catching up with some of the second season of Avengers: EMH, I found myself thinking about Doctor Doom and the Fantastic Four. I couldn’t tell you what chain of thought lead to that, but it led me to the conclusion that Doctor Doom’s origin works best in its original form, and that it is a mistake to tie it into the creation of the Fantastic Four. It’s an understandable mistake, but it leads to watering down one of comic’s best villains.

From a character standpoint, I understand the impulse. The original origin for Doom was probably hastily thrown together by Lee and Kirby, to briefly explain why this random guy in armor and a tunic hates Reed Richards so much. It’s the kind of anecdote scattered across much of the Silver Age-every one-off villain got their own origin panels, no matter how silly they turned out to be (see Superboy and the loss of Lex Luthor’s hair). There was nothing wrong with this, or with using it for Doom. But from a modern standpoint, it probably looks quaint, or even silly. If you’re going to make Doom hate Richards, why not combine the two accidents together, and make Reed more directly responsible for the creation of his arch-enemy? It’ll make things quicker and simpler, especially since the modern version of Doom’s origin would probably take at least an entire issue to itself.

The problem is that by tying them together, Doom becomes a lesser character. Yes, he becomes more directly involved in Reed’s life pre-Fantastic Four, but the point of Doom is not that Richards did something to him, or that he did something to Richards. It’s that Richards questioned him once, Doom blew him off, and it literally exploded in Doom’s face. He was proven wrong casually by an acquaintance, and it consumes him. Reed didn’t have any motive for saying Doom’s calculations might have been off, and after hearing about Doom’s accident, he probably hoped Victor was okay and then went back to his work. These are two brilliant man with vastly different perspectives on the same incident, one who was minimally involved and the other fundamentally altered by it.

Does that make sense? No. Doom’s reaction and blame for Richards is not just irrational, it is supremely irrational. It is megalomania and paranoia rolled into one very destructive ball, something that oddly enough makes sense for many highly intelligent people that have trouble relating to the average intelligence. It makes no sense whatsoever, and that makes Doom a better villain. His grievance with Richards is completely fictional, and that alone emphasizes his willingness to do whatever it takes to bring down Reed Richards. He will gladly turn his life into ashes for the mere chance to destroy Reed, and then find a way to rebuild and be just as dangerous as before.

If, on the other hand, Richards and Doom were working together on an experiment that transforms them (and the rest of the Fantastic Four) into super humans, then his grievances become harder to dismiss. Maybe he tried to correct an error in Reed’s work, but couldn’t catch all of them in time. Maybe he introduced errors that caused the accident, but did so to fix previous errors before they could be caught by Reed. The point is that his direct involvement with Reed changes his motivation, so it’s not as inherently irrational and dangerous. It even runs the risk of making him a sympathetic figure, something that doesn’t fit with a mad scientist dictator at all. Sure, the narrative will state that Richards isn’t at fault for turning Doom into some kind of metallic goat man, but it’ll be hard to avoid wondering if Doom has a point. And Doom should not have a good point. He is someone who will do terrible things in service for a revenge that is completely unjustified, which should always be remembered.

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A few days ago, I saw a Kotaku post about an artist’s interpretation of Zelda by way of Prince of Persia. I thought the art was quite lovely and the idea a little intriguing, but I left it alone after that. Tonight, however, I have to admit that the idea has gripped me quite a bit more, and it’s for a very simple reason: making a Zelda game centered on the Gerudo.

First introduced in Ocarina of Time as part of Ganon’s backstory, the Gerudo are a race of desert dwellers, Amazon women who only have a male child every 100 years…and one unlucky (or lucky, depending on your interpretation) century, they got Ganon as that heir. Said heir always becomes the king of the Gerudo. Leaving aside the question of how that works biologically or if this is an intensely infanticidal group of Amazon women, what makes this interesting is the idea of that single male heir. In the far distant past, Ganondorf came to power by virtue of his birth. And some time in the future, in this theoretical game, Link is born as the new Gerudo king.

From the start, that would put the player in a new position. Rather than being an anonymous farmboy or student, Link has been trained from birth to be a leader and warrior to the whole tribe, in a harsh environment that does not tolerate failure. He doesn’t get to discover his destiny, because he’s already living up to it, trying to make sure his people prosper despite suffering under the shadow of being related to the great evil Ganon. Whenever they raid the established kingdoms for plunder, Link must lead them, even if he doesn’t feel right stealing from others to make sure his people survive.

One such raiding party, though, finds a very unusual caravan. Rather than the merchants and their hired guards, Link and his band face an elaborate carriage guarded by Hyrule knights…with Zelda, princess and priestess, inside. Despite his misgivings, Link takes her hostage once they have defeated her guards, hoping for an amazing ransom from her father. But Zelda’s urgings that she must be allowed to complete her task continue to weigh on Link’s mind. Finally, he resolves to free her and escort her; unfortunately, it is too late, and the seal she was charged to strengthen weakens enough for Ganon to break free. To atone for his part in letting Ganon go free again, Link must abandon his tribe, help Zelda recreate the seal, and finally weaken Ganon enough to push him back into the Dark World and save all of Hyrule.

I’ll admit, some of the details here aren’t required for such a game to work: the Gerudo could simply be territorial about outsiders, rather than regularly raiding other people. But the important thing is the idea that as Link, you are not the quiet person who suddenly becomes the Chosen One. Instead, you would play a character that was already apparently chosen for one destiny, and then finds himself doing something very different. Moreover, you would be the outsider in most of the world; your friends would all be Gerudo that you left behind, while Hylians would alternately gawk at you or treat you with suspicion. Then there would be the tension among your own people of whether Ganon’s return means defeating him to save everyone, including the Gerudo….or if you should instead be leading your people to follow Ganon and take over Hyrule for him. Link’s own path would be clear, but not all of the Gerudo would agree with it.

It would also be a way to make a major game be about a non-white protagonist without making their appearance a real-world issue. An Arabic-appearing Link that would still fit in the lore of Hyrule would be a major step forward in game representation, and broaden the idea of who the Hero could be for Zelda games in particular (and would fit with the idea of co-operative multiplayer or switching between Zelda and Link I’ve previously discussed). The only real danger would be if Link suddenly became lily white upon finding out he was the Hero, which would turn this from a great idea into a SUPER RACIST one.

Still, the possibility excites me.


Penny Arcade’s new kickstarter is offensive, and the reasons why should be obvious. In case they’re not, let’s break it down.

1) They are not starting a new project. Oh, they have stretch goals listed that could be be considered new projects. But those are not the main aim. If the basic goal is met, then the readers get less ads. That’s it. It’s not a new comic, a novel, a radio play-nothing. Not even a reprinting of their books or bringing back discontinued merchandise. You get a slightly different page layout, that you may decide is not as good as the current one.

2) They are not struggling to survive. I do not have access to the financial records of Penny Arcade, or else I’d need to hire a good lawyer right now, but I’m pretty sure they don’t need this money to keep the lights on. Heck, they’ve recently been hiring people to help them as they expand. Surely there would have been some contraction first if they were running low on funds. Hell, they’re hosting two conventions that keep getting bigger, and have started a form of video game reporting on their website. Both of those seem like they might be worthy of a Kickstarter, at least to start them off, but clearly they didn’t need the money to actually launch a new addition.

3) They are an established property with high visibility. The basic point of Kickstarter is to fund projects that could not get enough funding through traditional means-new businesses, small projects with too high a cost to be considered a hobby, and other personal projects. You reach out to people with the money to support you, and basically get a pass/fail evaluation on the proposal from the group, rather than one person. So Penny Arcade starting any form of kickstarter is just gaming this system now that it’s starting to be established. This isn’t the equivalent of an Exxon-Mobil Kickstarter to fund a new oil platform, but it’s the first step down that road, and I’m disappointed that Kickstarter didn’t turn down the whole proposal as grossly at odds with the aims of their programs.

Let me be clear. I like Penny Arcade as a comic. I’ve been following them for years now, and I’ve always enjoyed the comic as a whole, and often their opinions. I’ve always taken them as just two guys who managed to get a platform, rather than some kind of Internet gods. But I am sincerely hoping that this earns them the slap in the face they appear to deserve, regardless of whether or not it succeeds (it’s hard to see how it wouldn’t just from the number of fans they have). The generosity of the Internet is not infinite, and there are creative people more deserving of such funds to make sure their new things get off the ground.


Something else has occurred to me about why I prefer Terry Bogard to Kyo Kusanagi as a character. Fortunately, this one doesn’t involve putting Kyo down. Well, not explicitly, anyway.

I’ve talked before about how Terry is kind of messed up as a person. Really, you’d have to be if you explicitly made going around and fighting highly trained martial artists-usually in unofficial, unsupervised venues against people perfectly willing to kill you-your only lasting profession. At the same time, Terry is probably the nicest person you could find who does this. He’s kind and polite to everyone, and he will ask to fight rather than just going “You are strong so we must fight now!” He also is fine if you say no, so he understands that not everyone wants to risk being severely injured at the drop of a hat.

What makes that stand out more is his background, because this is not a man who got raised in a stable environment at any time. He and his brother were originally orphans who got adopted…and then watched their father get killed in front of him, at which point the two separated. Andy got to train in one dojo for the next decade, while Terry literally wandered the city and got the shit beat out of him as training. Seriously. There’s even a flashback in the Fatal Fury 2 anime (even if it’s a dubious source of ‘canon’ information) where as a 10 year old, he’s getting destroyed by various martial artists to improve. He’s able to get revenge on the guy who originally beat the stuffing out of him, but even that starts with Terry taking a full punch to the face. He’s just happy that this time, it doesn’t knock him off his feet in one hit.

And yet, this is the character who finally confronts the man that murdered his adoptive father….who runs a criminal empire that has corrupted the entire city where Terry was born and raised…and though Terry has defeated him in single combat, he doesn’t kill him, or let him die. He reaches out to save Geese Howard from falling to his death. What leads to that kind of decision? Pacifism and forgiveness seem out of the question, since this is after the two of them have just punched the hell out of each other. And surely it would have been perfectly in line with the flexible morality of a fighting game story for Geese to fall to his death, the kind of “clean” killing that has been featured in many a cartoon Disney film. But it makes Terry more than just a generic “good guy” protagonist. He’s someone who has seen some of the worst a kid could, and somehow came out the other side a decent man, for all of his skill in fighting and hurting others. He’s not perfect-he wants revenge-but in the end, it’s incompatible with his basic personality. He has the chance to kill Geese Howard, and he willingly lets it go, because it’s just not worth the price. It’s almost the definition of overcoming adversity on a personal level.

The flip side of that is Kyo. Now, let’s leave out Kyo’s personality here, because the issue isn’t his behavior, but his background. He has special magic fire due to his family bloodline granting it…which isn’t something he earned, but it’s also not something to be faulted for in and of itself. It just is what it is. He also came from a stable family for most of his life. Sure, it’s destabilized due to people desiring his magic powers, but he still grew up in one place, learning how to use it, and being trained in the family business, so to speak. There’s very little adversity for Kyo in his background, and he gets to be the main character that saves the day for most of the King of Fighter games. Does this make him a bad person? Not inherently, no. But it means that there’s not a lot of depth to him, either. He’s the successful guy that had a bunch of advantages, compared to Terry having multiple opportunities to be a terrible person and deliberately choosing not to be.

I’ve stated before that I have issues with Kyo and his behavior, and those still stand. But what I’m talking about today is why even when stacked against someone who does not rub me the wrong way as much as Kyo does-for example, Ryu from Street Fighter-Terry is the character I like better. I have nothing against Ryu, but he comes out of nowhere and gets to be the hero by punching the right people. Terry isn’t the hero just because he’s facing an evil man, but by being good when it was truly hard to be.


While I had nothing against Batgirl as a concept when I was a kid, in practice she was horning in on Batman. Her debut was a two parter that made her the star at the expense of our title character, and then she stole the last episode away from him as well. Clearly, this was unfair and wrong. Looking back now, some of my issues with Batgirl’s first appearance remain, but as a sendoff for the series, “Batgirl Returns” is actually a pretty worthy way to go.

Having said that, the opening scene is a bit…disconcerting. There’s a brief glimpse of someone stealing a statue, and then Batman starts to get his ass kicked on a rooftop by the Penguin, Two-Face and the Joker, when Batgirl appears and beats them all with ease. She’s thanked by Batman, and starts to go in for the kiss, before Dick Grayson wakes her up. Now I’m not saying Barbara’s dreams are wrong, but it’s unsettling to basically look straight into the libido of a college age woman on a kid’s show, even if it was a very chaste look. After hearing about the theft of the statue, Barbara decides to ditch her studies to investigate the scene of the crime. I do like that she remains an unofficial member of the Bat family here, going off on her own rather than fighting crime every night.

If the episode is about Batgirl, it’s actually controlled by Catwoman, who shows up to investigate the crime as well. Right from the start, though, she’s hostile to anyone else looking as well, so it’s pretty clear she’s up to something, even if she makes a good point about the robbery not being her style of theft. Robin butting in as well turns it from a conversation into an escape, and after Catwoman gets away, Robin uses some of his best sickishness lessons from Bruce Wayne on Batgirl before leaving.

Sometime later, Batgirl gets a note from Catwoman, proposing some kind of alliance. It makes sense she’d approach the young, potentially vulnerable crime fighter for this first, but I still wonder how the note got to Barbara before anyone else, or at least how she was the only one that went to the rooftop for the meeting. She makes Catwoman promise that if she’s up to anything, she’ll turn herself in to the police, which….really? You think that will somehow make anyone behave? She basically hands things over to Catwoman at that point, which only works with Batgirl. Even Robin wouldn’t trust Catwoman as far as he could throw her, and she’s one of the nicest enemies they have. Speaking of Batman, the episode does explain his absence through a phone conversation with him and Robin: he’s overseeing a Wayne merger in Europe. Rather convenient, obviously, but at least it’s not a reason that would promise to be a more exciting episode than the one we got.

Catwoman leads Batgirl to a sleazy dive for more information; though the name “The Stacked Deck” makes it sound like a Joker hideout instead, it’s not that dangerous. After finding a chemist has an uncanny resemblance to Dr. Sivana to identify the acid, they end up starting a huge bar fight, and have to escape both the bikers inside and the police outside to find the real culprit. The fight scenes, both here and in the opening scene, are some of the best animation of the series; not just beautiful in terms of detail, but in pacing and fight plotting. It’s a shame they had to leave the bar, but then the episode did need to have an ending

Turns out the culprit is Roland Daggett, who’s deliberately targeted a cat statue because he knew Catwoman would be blamed. The two have some words due to their history, but the call back to Cat Scratch fever is mercifully short, and Daggett’s motivations are entirely rational-put the blame on Catwoman to divert attention, and sell the statue as an attempt to get his business back on track. It’s also nice that Daggett plans to shoot them instead of putting them into some kind of deathtrap, because he’s actually able to learn from experience, thanks to not being insane like other rogues. Robin’s involvement pays off here, as he saves them instead of Batman suddenly returning from Europe just in time to come out of nowhere. Despite fighting with guns over giant vats of acid, no one dies, even if one henchman only survives thanks to convenient piping over a vat. Catwoman does her best to kill Daggett by giving him a dip, even though Batgirl tries to stop her. But Catwoman does not mess around, and the “you’d be no better than him!” speech isn’t just a failure, but dismissed entirely out of hand. Not that he does die, but Catwoman does not play around. In the end, Catwoman is captured…briefly, and then she steals the cop car right out from under them and drives off. Batgirl stops Robin from chasing after her, because Stockholm Syndrome is a powerful thing, even when you’re not actually kidnapped.

Would it have been nice for the last episode of the Fox run on Batman to involve some grand fight with the Joker, or some other earth shattering event? Well, sure. But that’s asking too much from a regular episode of the series. What we get instead is a well done examination of a minor character through the lens of a more prominent one outside of Batman himself, and with the most sympathetic of his rogues. There are worse ways to go, even if Batgirl sometimes is ridiculously naive. But I’ll take that over her being just a female version of Batman with the same level of skill and excellence; better that she be who she really is, an enthusiastic amateur learning the ropes by doing. And as I said before, Catwoman owns the episode, the grownup toying with the kids-or the cat with the mice. If there’s no grand finale here, there is at least a well done and entertaining episode that stands as a fine example of the series’ general merits. Which sounds like a great send off to me.


Mister Freeze returns, and thank God he didn’t come back sooner.

I don’t mean that because I have any issues with him. If anything, as a kid I loved his origin episode, and the fact that he didn’t show again until near the very end bothered me so much. He was so cool! Why don’t they use him more? What’s wrong with these people?!? Well, this was one of my more youthful adventures in being wrong as a fan, because it would be easy for Freeze to get overexposed. After all, he only had one motivation in his origin: revenge against the man who killed his wife. Without that to drive him, why would he try to escape prison? Why would he team up with anyone else? He worked so well as a one-shot adversary because he was given room to breathe in his episode, and then his story ended in a heartbreaking, elegant moment of regret. If nothing else, you believed that Freeze really did love his wife Nora, and ached at the fact that she’d been taken from him.

That makes it a little jarring to find out that a Walt Disney analogue kidnaps Freeze and blackmails him by revealing that Nora Fries is not, in fact, dead. However, it’s the only natural evolution of the character; it gives Freeze something to fight for, not just against. Finding a way to save Nora is the only thing that matters if she’s still alive. Thankfully, this episode also gives the story room to breathe, as Freeze is clearly shown to be completely uninterested in helping an old man live forever…until the right leverage is revealed.

Speaking of that kidnapping, it’s neat that Batman is observant enough to note that Freeze doesn’t look happy or glad to see a giant robot show up and take him out of his cell, but afraid. And that he consults Carl Rossum (last seen in “His Silicon Soul”) about it without accusing him of kidnapping Freeze. Obviously having such a visible kidnapping gives him plenty of clues to work with, but I’d rather have a proactive Batman than one who can’t put two and two together until the plot allows him.

Our Walt Disney impersonator, Walker, wants Freeze to help him live forever, as it turns out the accident that made Freeze who he is has greatly slowed down his physical decay. Also, he’s building an island city to get away from the scary mainland, and plans to….freeze everyone outside the island? For some reason? I’ll admit that I’m pretty leery of Libertarian principles, especially when they revolve around “I got mine, screw you.” But I’m pretty sure that even the most isolationist, “let’s live out in the middle of the ocean to make our own rules” Libertarians don’t plan to murder the rest of the world to boot. Then again, we’re talking about a man who wants to be immortal through freezing himself without losing consciousness, so he’s pretty warped already. That or he’s just very bored; after all, he makes his missiles look like sharks when he sends them after Batman and Robin.

As ridiculous as that plan is, it does give Batman the leverage to convince Freeze to stop Walker, using Nora as the same point of leverage; specifically, pointing out how she’ll hate him for helping to create a dead world. Once again, the ’emotionless’ man cracks and gives in to anger, before having to concede the point. Freeze may be dedicated to saving his wife at any cost, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be reasoned with.

Having said that, don’t turn to Freeze for quiet actions. Rather than trying to do anything stealthy to stop Walker’s plan to kill the rest of the globe (or is it just Gotham? It’s not clear whether they’re targeting everyone, or just looking to freeze the Super Villain capital of the US), Freeze walks in, and starts freezing all of the robotic operators in front of Walker and his assistant. The chilly man does not give a fuck. Batman and Robin have to step in to save him from robot attacks, but he’s still able to overload the giant ice cannon, pop onto the giant monitor to warn everyone to get out before they get killed-and five seconds later, giant ice spikes are ripping up through the ground. Nice of Freeze to warn everyone, but maybe a little more time could have been used? While the perfect city uses the lifeboats provided by the one person on staff smart enough to assume things could go wrong, Batman tries to get Freeze to evacuate as well; Freeze refuses once, then zaps Robin to make Batman leave. After commandeering one giant boat just for him and Robin, they make their escape before the city explodes, leaving both Walker and Freeze to float away in separate chunks of ice; Walker on his own, and Freeze with Nora and her canister. Though there is no ending monologue as there was in “Heart of Ice,” it’s still an arresting image to see the two of them together. Never mind that neither of them will survive for long in a giant chunk of ice…

This is another blockbuster episode with Mister Freeze, giving him a perfect 2-0 record in the Fox series. If anything, it’s arguably stronger than “Heart of Ice.” Freeze isn’t defeated with chicken soup, and he gets to win on his own terms at the end, without making Batman look weak or unimportant. Here, at least, Freeze is less a member of Batman’s rogues gallery, and more a character in his own right; with some minor changes, he could even be used in a heroic capacity instead of as an antagonist. The only other person you could say that of is Catwoman, and she doesn’t have the driving motivation Freeze does. If Freeze represents anything about Batman’s personality, it’s Batman’s drive without the tempering influence of compassion; he does love his wife, and he’s not as emotionless as he claims. But if there’s anything he does lack, it’s concern for others when Nora is involved.

On the visual front, “Deep Freeze” is full of good images. But while there’s some nice animation in this episode, it’s not in every scene; for example, when the robots drop Robin, the frame rate drops noticeably. That’s not a constant issue, thankfully, but it keeps this from being among the highest animation quality episodes.

Go watch “Deep Freeze.” There is no debating, just go watch it. It’s that good.

 


Last night, I finally finished Xenoblade Chronicles.

It had reached a point where I wasn’t just doing the side quests to be a completionist, I was actively working to forestall the end of the game. Never mind that I had reached maximum level with one of my characters, and was close with every other. Also ignore that I had spent time raising everyone’s affinity to the maximum level, and seeking out every special side conversation. I was this close to looking up achievement criteria and grinding those out as well, anything to keep from getting to the end and having to say I actually beat the game. Partly because I had just flat out enjoyed playing the game, both for the gameplay and for the characters and story. But I was also worried it was about to fall flat on its ass for the final stretch.

After all, the plot had changed from “stop the evil machines” to “kill evil God.” This is basically the plot beats for every Japanese RPG of the last 15 years: fight the evil rampaging horde, until you discover they were either really trying to kill a much bigger evil, or had been created by the person you considered to be good. It has been ground down to a nub at this point, to the point where I wanted to be disappointed. And yet, I thought it was appropriate for the game, and I think it’s a testament to the execution and characters.

For the first time in a long time of playing JRPGs, I was controlling a group where I liked everyone in it. There was no character I dreaded using at the end; even Riki, the legally mandated “cute and cuddly mascot,” revealed hidden yet appropriate depths, without becoming so serious as to betray his origins and concept. Dunban may have been a grizzled warrior by the party standards, but he was young enough to seem appropriate on the battlefield, while nursing an old injury that put him on the level of his younger comrades. Sharla seemed to be jaded enough to match her harsh experiences trying to unsuccessfully defend her home and keep her fellow colonists alive, but not so jaded that she was unlikeable and unrelatable. And while Reyn, Melia, Fiora and Shulk were all young, they were on the right side of being teenagers; young enough to be naive and foolish, but old enough that I could believe they were ready to fight, and could understand the ramifications of a problem. They weren’t 13 going on 10, but 16 to 17, even if the ages were never explicitly stated.

Even more, they liked each other, and had reasons for it. Reyn and Shulk really did feel like old friends from the very beginning, occasionally arguing but familiar with each other at all times. Shulk and Fiora might have seemed like an obvious love match, but that didn’t preclude Fiora getting annoyed with him. And Sharla toying with Reyn’s denial was done in an amused but affectionate manner. As for Riki, he was just great all around.

Finding out that Everything I Knew Was A Lie, then, felt like it meant something. In most games, it’s easy to pick out the Evil pretending to be Good. Here that wasn’t the case, at least for me. It’s hard to say that others wouldn’t pick up on Dickson being on the Bad Guy’s side, but I’m pretty sure finding out that the main character was intended only to be a host for the evil God’s rebirth-not since the start of the quest, but basically for over a decade-blindsided most people who’ve played the game. It certainly surprised me. And it meant that when Shulk seemed to be killed by Dickson, and left behind as an empty shell by Zanza, I was left wondering if we would lose Shulk entirely, or at least be presented with the choice of whether you wanted him back or not, much as we had with Chrono back in Chrono Trigger. It didn’t work out that way, but for a little while, it was possible. And I knew I wanted him back if I could get him, because there was no way I was going to give him up.

I can’t say Xenoblade is the next evolution of the JRPG. A lot of its differences came from aping parts of MMORPG mechanics, such as skills with cool downs and auto attacks, or managing who in the party the enemy wanted to attack. That’s not a critique of the game, but as someone who is fairly experienced with MMORPGs, I may be in a fairly specialized niche to enjoy the game. However, if it has a core benefit to the game, it’s very simple: it feels like it was made by people who liked the game, and wanted to do their best work on it. It’s well executed on every level, and we don’t just get stock characters. They feel like people you care about, even if you don’t go and get every Heart-to-Heart conversation. So when you face down the Evil God that erupted from you (which is a very interesting way to look at religion in general), you want to win not for some generic version of being good, or to save “the world,” such as it is in this case. It’s because he hurt you and your party, and they are royally pissed at Zanza’s arrogance and lack of empathy. It may still be a cliche, but it’s both that and an example of why things become cliches: because when they’re done well, they are powerful enough that you want to use it yourself.

There is still a lot of hand-waving going on in the plot. It’s not clear if Zanza is lying or telling the truth about going through destruction and rebirth cycles many times in the past, or how he and Meyneth became the gods of the new world; it’s clear enough how that new world was created, but not why those two survived and turned into the creators. And I will admit that I was not expecting to find out one of Zanza’s lieutenants started out life as an AI, working on the station where Zanza (Klaus in the past) blew up the universe; it’s interesting, but raises the question of whether Zanza’s other disciples came from the same station or not. In the end, I’m willing to forgive all of that, because I liked the game a lot. And I’m glad that there was no serious question of whether or not Shulk would act as the new god of the world, even if it made the fact that Alvis kept asking more annoying.

Xenoblade is just a damn fine JRPG, and if you ever enjoyed the genre, you should pick it up and play it.