rionaleonhart: final fantasy versus xiii: a young woman at night, her back to you, the moon high above. (nor women neither)
We're on the verge of a new main-series Final Fantasy release! It's been a while.

One of the things that fascinates me about the Final Fantasy series is the way it reinvents itself with every new game. Every entry in the series tries new things; every entry has its own set of strengths and weaknesses.

Here, for no particular reason, is my list of pros and cons of the main-series games I've played extensively (I haven't played the online entries, and VI is the only 2D release I've played for a substantial amount of time). Direct sequels and spin-offs aren't included. I've tried to avoid very subjective judgements, which is why 'the characters are the beeeeest' doesn't appear under VIII and XIII. Please imagine that 'music' appears on the 'pros' list for all of these games except XII (sorry, XII).

Final Fantasy VI:
Pros: Still looks good twenty years later. Characters all have distinct battle abilities. You can suplex a train.
Cons: Feels a bit unfocused on account of having too many characters and a non-linear second half.

Final Fantasy VII:
Pros: Materia system allows for interesting setups. Midgar is a great setting. Fascinating storyline.
Cons: Graphics have aged badly. Awkward translation. These two things, combined with oddly out-of-the-way backstory cutscenes, make the fascinating storyline very difficult to grasp. It's sometimes hard to tell how you're supposed to progress. (The upcoming remake may well resolve some or all of these issues.)

Final Fantasy VIII:
Pros: Actively rewards not getting experience, so it's great if you prefer exploring and progressing the storyline to fighting random encounters. Triple Triad!
Cons: Confusing stat system, making it easy to screw up your playthrough if you don't know what you're doing. Revolves very, very strongly around Squall, which is great news if you like Squall but may make things tricky if you don't. Story falls apart at disc 3.

Final Fantasy IX:
Pros: Fun and cute! Doesn't take itself too seriously, on the whole, despite dealing with some bleak themes. Contains Chocobo Hot & Cold, the greatest minigame ever made.
Cons: Slow battle system. You will eventually finish the Chocobo Hot & Cold sidequest and be sad that there are no more Chocographs to find.

Final Fantasy X:
Pros: Nicely strategic battle system. Excellent levelling system; the Sphere Grid defines initial roles for the party members but allows for customisation. Strong, reasonably coherent storyline (this is very rare in a Final Fantasy game), although things get weird as you approach the end (this, by contrast, is very common). Probably the most accessible game in the series for newcomers.
Cons: Very linear. Awkward voice acting. A bit too cutscene-heavy. The European release likes to drop murderous superbosses in your face when you're innocently trying to revisit previous locations.

Final Fantasy XII:
Pros: Great translation; a lot of thought has gone into the way different characters would speak. Intricate world. No random encounters.
Cons: Poorly paced; long segments without any story advancement make it hard to follow the plot. Although the voice acting is good, the sound quality (on the PS2 version, at least) is poor. Boss battles tend to be a bit of a slog.

Final Fantasy XIII:
Pros: Good pacing, great battle system, gorgeous. Extensively explores the relationships between the party members. Rarely demands grinding.
Cons: Very linear; no sense of exploration. Writing occasionally lacks subtlety. No gameplay variety; there are battles and there are cutscenes, but that's your lot.

I've no doubt that Final Fantasy XV will also get some things right and some things very wrong, and I'm looking forward to seeing what those things are. Going by this lovely piano-and-violin piece from the Episode Duscae demo (and the fact that the composer is Yoko Shimomura), 'music' seems likely to be one of its successes.

If you'd offer different upsides or downsides for any of these games, I'd be interested to hear about them!
rionaleonhart: okami: amaterasu is startled. (NOT SO FAST)
SOMEONE BROKE INTO THE HOUSE WHILE I WAS IN IT. I was in the sitting room downstairs and they came in through an upstairs window. I heard someone moving around and thought Rei had come home and called up to her and there was a sudden scuffling noise and I went upstairs and SURPRISE, ALL THE BEDROOMS WERE RANSACKED. I don't think they've taken anything important - I think they were specifically looking for cash, so all I've lost is a £5 note that was in my purse - so it's a very mild break-in as break-ins go, but I'm a bit shaken. I was in the house!

It's sort of hilarious because there wasn't really anything of value upstairs, so our thief has gone to a great deal of effort for very little return. 'A jewellery box! Finally! ...containing a pair of cheap Bulbasaur earrings.' Also, one of the bedrooms here contains a lot of sex toys carefully stowed out of sight. I love the idea of the thief going, 'Okay, here's a box hidden behind shoes in the back of the wardrobe, there must be something good in here,' and then... no, just more sex toys. Sorry.

Not looking forward to a full day of work after about four hours of troubled sleep, but we'll see how it goes. Couldn't this person have broken in when I had a less important deadline?

On a lighter note, a conversation between me and Rei this morning:

'Did you just make a noise?'
'...I just farted.'
'Oh. It sounded like you were trying to attract my attention.'
'I was. I do that by farting.'

Interesting facts and/or terrible jokes would be a welcome distraction, if you have any to hand!

Here are the latest results from our terrible game of reproducing lyrics in fridge poetry:

'Everyone give it up for America's favourite fighting Frenchman' (Hamilton, 'Guns and Ships'): 'abandon it for the energetic knife man of eastish west the unfree world adores'. ('Unfree world' isn't a political comment on modern America; this song is set during the American Revolution!)

'God bless Mother Nature, she's a single woman too' (The Weather Girls, 'It's Raining Men'): 'sublime king please be gracious to grass mum she's at most one lady'.

Rei gave me the challenge 'love is kinda spooky with a spooky little boy like you', ostensibly from Dusty Springfield's 'Spooky'. I've looked it up now, and it seems this is not the actual lyric! (Love is kinda crazy, apparently.) But it's what I tried to reproduce. I ended up with 'love is discomforting with you the little fear boy'.

'Turn around, bend over, I'll show you where my shoe fits' (Hamilton, 'Cabinet Battle #1'): 'look behind moon me see the landscape my shoe needs to be in'.
rionaleonhart: twewy: joshua kiryu is being fabulously obnoxious and he knows it. (is that so?)
My preceding entry is now a bit outdated because all the Hamilton songs I linked to have been taken down. They're up on Spotify, though, under Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording)! (I downloaded Spotify the second I discovered this. I have a medical need to hear 'Wait For It' ten times a day.)

As I knew very little about the Founding Fathers and the American Revolution apart from what Assassin's Creed III taught me (mysteriously, the British education system tends not to focus much on wars we lost), I've been investigating some of the history surrounding this musical. In the process, I discovered these extracts from an actual historical letter exchange between Alexander Hamilton and his sister-in-law Angelica Schuyler Church (which apparently inspired 'Take a Break' in the musical):

Indeed my dear, Sir if my path was strewed with as many roses, as you have filled your letter with compliments, I should not now lament my absence from America - Church to Hamilton, 2nd October 1787

You ladies despise the pedantry of punctuation. There was a most critical comma in your last letter. It is my interest that it should have been designed; but I presume it was accidental. Unriddle this if you can. The proof that you do it rightly may be given by the omission or repetition of the same mistake in your next ... Adieu ma chere, soeur - Hamilton to Church, 6th December 1787


It's also absolutely true that Hamilton couldn't shut up about anything. The Reynolds Pamphlet was ninety-five pages long.

House update: [ profile] th_esaurus has moved out, alas, but the similarly excellent [ profile] reipan is now in residence!

My housemates and I have been challenging each other to reproduce song lyrics as well as we can with the limited vocabulary afforded by a fridge poetry set. [ profile] reipan turned 'How do you write like you're running out of time?' (Hamilton, 'Non-Stop') into 'how do you write runny future to engulf'. I've turned 'He took the midnight train going anywhere' (Journey, 'Don't Stop Believin'') into 'he goes fast in the dark to the world'. But I think the winner of this game is Housemate C, who was given 'Shot through the heart and you're to blame' (Bon Jovi, 'You Give Love a Bad Name') and ended up with 'slay punctured in the heart and I doubt your innocence'.

A fair few people get slay punctured in Hamilton, incidentally.
rionaleonhart: red dead redemption: john marston reloads sexily (debatable). (just gonna reload while talkin' to you)
(EDIT: The music linked in this entry has now been taken down, alas. (What am I going to listen to endlessly now???))

My housemates were listening to the Hamilton cast recording recently. I happened to be in the room during a song from the second half, and I was very aware that I probably looked absolutely furious. I was not furious. I was just trying so hard to hold back my tears that I looked really angry.


I've now actually listened to Hamilton in full, and it's extremely good! Good music, good lyrics, some very striking moments. Early on there's a cute song, and then the song that follows suddenly makes it heartbreaking in retrospect. I was very upset.

It also depicts important historical political discussions as rap battles, which is pretty great.

I can't stop laughing at how EXTREMELY DRAMATIC this musical makes essay-writing, though. To experience for yourself the most dramatic writing has ever been (short of Death Note), listen to 'Non-Stop' for about a minute from the 4.10 mark (the link should take you to the right point).

I'm also going to drop the link to 'Wait For It' here. There are some songs I can't listen to without making dramatic gestures and mouthing along. This is one of them. I'll never be able to listen to it in public.

Alternatively, if you're curious about the song that emotionally wrecked me even though I heard it completely out of context: 'Burn'. (Just listened to it again, and, yes, it still makes me sob.) Spoilers for the musical, although they might be things you know already if you know much about Alexander Hamilton as a historical figure.

(I've just had the terrible revelation that this is not, in fact, the only time an out-of-context song from a musical has made me cry. I cried the first time I heard 'Breaking Free', before I actually watched High School Musical. I'm so unhappy with myself.)

Fanfiction update: the Visitorverse is still going. I stopped posting it here because there was just too much of it, but it's still going. It is 600,000 words long. This ridiculous, incomprehensible, self-indulgent Assassin's Creed AU is longer than The Lord of the Rings. It's longer than War and Peace. There are three of us writing it, admittedly (and one of my co-writers has written more than half of the total (?????????)), but it's still only been in existence for nine months. I'm scared.

Seriously, I don't understand. We've produced hundreds of thousands of words. Half of this thing is just setting up increasingly elaborate excuses to make everyone cuddle. This - this was supposed to be a one-shot.
rionaleonhart: red dead redemption: john marston reloads sexily (debatable). (just gonna reload while talkin' to you)
Somehow I've never told this family story here! A few years ago, my dad was preparing a big lunch for our family and the actors in my mum's play. He came back from the common nearby with a plant.

Dad: I found this on the common. Do you think this is cow parsley or hemlock?
Riona: Er...
Dad: Because I want to put it in the salad. I think it's probably cow parsley. But they do look very similar. What do you think it is?
Riona: I don't know, but I'm not sure you should put it in the salad if you have to ask that question.
Dad: But it probably is cow parsley!

It took a bizarrely long time to persuade him to use something else instead. He really wanted to put that thing in the salad. Here is my free cooking advice to all of you: if you have the choice between something that is probably not hemlock and something that is definitely not hemlock, it's best to go for the latter.

I've now finished Assassin's Creed II!

The problem with the Assassin's Creed games is that I'm perhaps too fascinated by the side-effects of the Animus. I couldn't really get engaged with Ezio's story because I was much more interested in what's happening to Desmond and what previously happened to Subject 16, which ultimately is a very small part of the game. My interest in playing dropped substantially once I'd found and solved the last of Subject 16's creepy little puzzles.

(I keep thinking 'oh, it could be fun to write crossovers involving the Bleeding Effect!' and then remembering that that's only really possible in canons where we know a substantial amount about a character's ancestry, of which there are relatively few. Blast!)

It was still a great game, though, and I like that it enabled me to say 'I'm just going to murder the Pope' to my housemate.

The gorgeous soundtrack may have been my favourite part. It actually kept me from getting too frustrated at multiple points. 'I keep failing this race? Well, at least I get to listen to "The Venice Rooftops" every time I retry!' 'The game's glitched and won't let me escape these guards? Fantastic; that means it won't stop playing "Venice Escape"!' And then, of course, there's the wonderful 'Ezio's Family' over the credits.

So far, I'm not sure anything in a videogame has scared me as much as that terrifying moment when I thought I was going to miss my opportunity to hug Leonardo da Vinci. I'd set the controller down for the cutscene! I wasn't expecting a quick-time event! Fortunately, I caught it just in time. (Why doesn't every game have a 'hug Leonardo da Vinci' button?)
rionaleonhart: final fantasy xiii: lightning pays intense attention to you. (speak carefully)
It's over. It's actually over. It's finished. I can't believe it.

In the end, looking back over the entire thing, I can see things I'm happy about and things I perhaps should have done differently. For the most part, though, I've just had a great time playing around with some of my favourite fictional characters, and I've developed a new appreciation for Rinoa Heartilly.

[personal profile] thebaconfat, [personal profile] jecca_mehlota, this fic belongs to you. Without your encouragement and enthusiasm, this would never have been finished. It probably wouldn't have been started. I can't thank you enough.

(I finished a chaptered fic. I finished a chaptered fic. I haven't managed that in ten years. I've certainly never finished anything this long before. I've never finished anything half this long.)

If anyone's curious about where the title With These Signs Upon Our Souls came from, it's actually a complete mishearing of a line from a song. The game Iji ends with this cover of a song called 'Further' by VNV Nation. I was absolutely convinced that one of the lines began 'with these signs upon our souls'; it always made me think of l'Cie when I heard it. By the time I learnt that the line was actually 'with designs upon ourselves' (which is very clear in the original), it was too late; I was already set on my misheard fic title. Whoops!

And, hey, [personal profile] jecca_mehlota, happy birthday!

Title: With These Signs Upon Our Souls, Epilogue
Fandom: Final Fantasy VIII/Final Fantasy XIII
Rating: PG-13
Wordcount: 1,800 (this chapter; 26,800 total)
Summary: The exam brief is simple enough: protect the fal'Cie from the Timber resistance. Squad B are about to get the mission as wrong as humanly possible.

Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five
Chapter Six
Chapter Seven
Chapter Eight
Chapter Nine
Chapter Ten

With These Signs Upon Our Souls, Epilogue )
rionaleonhart: final fantasy versus xiii: a young woman at night, her back to you, the moon high above. (nor women neither)
[ profile] th_esaurus and I have been watching Rebuild of Evangelion, a series of films retelling the story of Neon Genesis Evangelion. [ profile] th_esaurus has seen Neon Genesis already; I have not. We've now seen all three of the films released so far, and it's been great to watch her descent from 'wow, this is exactly like the anime, shot-for-shot' to 'wait, I don't recognise that character; what's she doing there?' to 'EVERYTHING IS WRONG AND I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT'S HAPPENING'.

My conclusion is this: Evangelion is surprisingly similar to Kingdom Hearts. It's a story about fourteen-year-olds who achieve remarkable things using the POWER OF FRIENDSHIP and are then horribly torn apart, and everything is incomprehensible, and then a catchy Hikaru Utada song plays over the credits. If Kingdom Hearts III concludes with an exact recreation of the second film's ending, with Sora as Shinji and Kairi as Rei, I won't be surprised.

Well, I might be slightly surprised by the nudity and the corpse tornado. But everything else would fit right in.

If I were a horrible person, I would be considering a Kingdom Hearts/Evangelion fusion in which Sora, Riku and Kairi pilot EVAs. Or possibly Terra, Ventus and Aqua? Axel, Roxas and Xion? I feel that putting Xion in something approximating Rei's role would make a lot of sense, and I find Roxas easier than Sora to picture in Shinji's role; Sora is too psychologically resilient to fit in the world of Evangelion.

But obviously I would never dream of writing such a thing.

(Honestly, although the horrible fusion is tempting, I don't think I'll ever actually be able to write Evangelion fanfiction; I am far too confused by everything. (This is also, I suspect, why I've never written much for Kingdom Hearts.) Possibly for the best?)

For some reason, I'd gleaned from Internet osmosis that Shinji was an incredibly difficult character to like, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that I actually like him a fair bit. Although I sort of wish I didn't, because my heart is breaking for him constantly. I was so pleased when the second film let him go to an aquarium and have a nice day for once. He actually got to smile! It wasn't to last, of course, but I was glad to see him have a moment of happiness, however fleeting.
rionaleonhart: twewy: joshua kiryu is being fabulously obnoxious and he knows it. (is that so?)
Here, because I feel like it, is my favourite town theme from Bravely Default: Land of Immortality. I went into Eternia at every opportunity just to hear this background music.

I want so much ridiculous domestic fanfiction where Edea, Tiz, Agnès and Ringabel all move in together and drive each other mad. Ringabel spends two hours preening in the bathroom every morning; Edea hammers furiously on the door for an hour and a half of it.

'I don't lock the door,' Ringabel points out, when she confronts him one morning over breakfast.

'I know,' Edea growls. This is a discovery that she made in their first week of living together and that she is not likely to forget any time soon.

'Well, you're free to enter for whatever purpose you desire.'

The following morning, Edea knocks on the bathroom door. 'I'm coming in! Close your eyes!'

'No promises!' Ringabel calls back.

Edea rests her forehead against the door for a moment and grits her teeth, then kicks the door open and, because your characters can't learn a plain 'Blind' spell in Bravely Default, casts Sandstorm. The air of the bathroom is instantly thick with flying sand. She doesn't have to see Ringabel, he can't see her, and... Ringabel is yelling in pain, and... this wasn't actually such a great idea, was it?

Later, Tiz sweeps up all the sand and adds 'Lock the bathroom door' to the increasingly lengthy list of house rules.

(Eventually, when it becomes too unwieldy, Edea will sit down and rewrite the rule list, dividing it into categories. A good two thirds of the rules end up under the subheading 'This Means You, Ringabel'.)

Here, while I'm on the theme, is a stupid snippet I scribbled down after thinking too hard about the job outfits:

"Ringabel," Edea says, "I know we learnt these techniques from that pirate. That doesn't mean you literally have to wear a pirate outfit to use them."

"I need to be in the right mindset," Ringabel says, adjusting his cuffs. "A screwdriver would be discouraged from its task if you dressed it up as a hammer, would it not?"

"Er," Tiz says. "Would it?"

"At least lose the eyepatch," Edea says. "Doesn't that mess with your depth perception?"

What a silly game. I adore it.
rionaleonhart: red dead redemption: john marston reloads sexily (debatable). (just gonna reload while talkin' to you)
Absolute Despair Girls: Danganronpa Another Episode is a spin-off game set in the universe of Dangan Ronpa, a series of videogames best known for rendering me completely incapable of shutting up. Another Episode breaks away from the murder-mystery visual novel style of the main games; it's a shooting game,* although it's still pretty story-heavy. You play as Komaru Naegi, the younger sister of the first game's protagonist Makoto Naegi, as she tries to escape a city in which a war has broken out between children and adults.

I have mixed feelings about Another Episode.

Thoughts on 'Danganronpa Another Episode'. Cut for vague spoilers and talk of (fictional) sexual abuse. )

The tragic thing is that the Dangan Ronpa series, in many ways, is so good with its female characters. The male:female ratio amongst its characters is almost exactly 1:1, which is shockingly rare for something with such a sizeable cast; I can name twenty female Dangan Ronpa characters without much thought. The girls in these games have distinct personalities and relationships with each other and roles in the plot! It's great! But the games have followed a trajectory of 'almost no creepy fanservice!' to 'quite a lot of creepy fanservice' to 'Creepy Fanservice: The Game', and it's starting to make me a little uncomfortable.

My other problem with this game is perhaps best expressed by the distressed e-mails I sent to [ profile] th_esaurus immediately after finishing it:


What I am trying to say is that I've spent an embarrassing amount of time hunting through the Internet for fanart or fanfiction in which Makoto and Komaru Naegi have a really good hug. The Internet has thus far failed to provide. I have an unsettling feeling that this may end up like my involvement with Waterloo Road, in which two characters so frustrated me with their failure to hug that I wrote no fewer than four stories centred on thinly-veiled excuses to go 'and then they hugged'. Brace yourself.

* Er, 'a literal shooting game', I should perhaps say. There's a fair bit of shooting in the main Dangan Ronpa games, but it's metaphorical; you use your evidence to 'shoot down' other characters' misconceptions and lies in the murder trials. The title Dangan Ronpa, if you were wondering, means something like 'winning an argument with a bullet'.
rionaleonhart: kingdom hearts: sora, riku and kairi having a friendly chat. (and they returned home)
I've just finished the third chapter of Bravely Default, and it's such a charming game; I love the way your party members are constantly bickering. It also has a rather beautiful soundtrack. The short piece that replaces the battle music when you use Tiz's special move is one of my favourites.

At one point, I changed Ringabel's job from Monk to Pirate, suffering a huge drop in HP and a substantial drop in agility, purely because the pirate costume was so cute. This is the danger of giving clothing an impact on combat; I will end up going for suboptimal combat clothing because I like the way it looks. This was also a problem in Lightning Returns.

(I think I should be applauded for my restraint in not making everyone into Red Mages. The Red Mage outfits are so pretty!)

I think I may sort of 'ship Edea/Tiz/Agnès/Ringabel as a big ridiculous OT4. Edea and Ringabel are entirely fine with this arrangement; Tiz and Agnès are a bit flustered.

(I'm quite amused that, when I searched for 'bravely default ot4' on Google, I found someone who started 'shipping them as a foursome at the exact point I did: the third-chapter cutscene where they all have to work together to rescue Egil in the volcano. Apparently there's something particularly polyamorous about that point.)

I have also recently played Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, which I shall henceforth refer to by the no more ridiculous title of Kingdom Hearts 3D: Doodly Deedly Dum. It was a lot of fun! I really enjoyed the Flowmotion system, and it was great to play as Riku. And I thought the Nutcracker Suite background music worked really well for the Fantasia level, although I'm less certain about the weird drum and cymbal noises that replace the sound of your Keyblade.

I just checked my diary to see whether I'd made any notes on Doodly Deedly Dum, but all I could find was 'Riku always looks at Mickey Mouse like he's about to make out with him. It's disconcerting.' Thanks for recording that for posterity, me-from-a-month-ago.

One of the things I like about videogames is how completely you can know the world. I know the layout of Hope's Peak Academy in detail any other medium would lack. I could draw you a map of Balamb Garden if you asked me to. (The above-ground bits, at least. It gets a bit complicated below the surface.) I think that puts me at ease when I'm writing for videogame fandoms; it helps the story feel more grounded, because I know where the characters are and what's been happening 'off-screen'. If I'm writing for television, my mind goes 'okay, now they're in the library, wherever that is'; if I'm writing for a videogame, my mind goes 'okay, they leave the gym, go up the stairs, pass the swimming pool and the library's on their left'.
rionaleonhart: friendship is magic: rarity looks horrified. (oh no no no)
I have now seen My Little Pony: Equestria Girls twice, which is probably two more times than any self-respecting adult should see it. For those unfamiliar with the premise of Equestria Girls: it is a film about Twilight Sparkle, the main character of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (who is, as you may have suspected, a pony), travelling through a portal to another world. In which she is a human. In high school. And meets human versions of all her pony friends. And there's a shoehorned-in light romance plotline, involving an alternate-world teenage boy and Twilight Sparkle. Who, I might remind you, is a pony.

It is astonishingly stupid.

Perhaps inevitably, I love it.

No, you don't understand how severe this is. I even find the romantic subplot genuinely cute. Developing a crush on a human when you are secretly a pony seems (a) a bit weird and (b) ill-advised, but apparently I don't care.

I've had this song from the film stuck in my head all day. I find cheerful, catchy songs about friendship impossible to resist, which is probably part of the reason Friendship is Magic has me so thoroughly in its clutches. Oh, dear.

I've had a rocky relationship with Doctor Who for... more or less the last seven years, but the fiftieth-anniversary special was a lot of fun! More than just being a fun hour or so, it reminded me of two things: firstly, that Doctor Who was once something I really enjoyed, and secondly, that I really miss Nine (I was pretty heartbroken that Ten and Eleven were hanging out and Nine was nowhere to be seen).

Therefore, in the ongoing bizarre nostalgia explosion that my adulthood is turning out to be, I've rewatched the first two episodes of the Ninth Doctor's series! And oh, I still love the Ninth Doctor. He's just fantastic. And also quite a bit scarier than I remember. That thing he did to Cassandra in 'The End of the World': wow. (That thing he did to Rose, too; it never really hit me before, but he comes back from the Time War and finds a companion and the first thing he does is show her the destruction of her planet.)

I also seem to be falling in love with Nine/Rose all over again, which I wasn't expecting! There had been pairings I'd enjoyed before I saw the 2005 Doctor Who series (Squall/Zell, Satoshi/Daisuke), but the Doctor/Rose was the first pairing I fell in love with in a MASSIVE EMOTIONAL INVESTMENT, READ ALL THE FANFICTION, WRITE ALL THE FANFICTION sort of way. No, hang on, I've just remembered all the slightly worrying James Sunderland/Mary Shepherd-Sunderland fanfiction I wrote. But I do think I 'shipped the Doctor/Rose quite a lot harder than anything preceding it.

(Sudden revelation: all the het I 'ship is really messed up. If they're the same species (see Doctor/Rose, Mitsuki/Takuto, TWILIGHT SPARKLE/FLASH SENTRY I HATE MYSELF) and there's no massive age gap (er, Doctor/Rose and Mitsuki/Takuto again, plus Jeff/Annie, Rogue/Logan and Katniss/Haymitch), I'm not interested, unless it's something like James/Mary or Naegi/Ikusaba, which have a whole host of alarming issues surrounding them. I'm surprised I love Nate/Elena so much; it's so much healthier than most of my 'ships!)

Anyway! Let's push my worrying taste aside for a moment. My interest in Doctor/Rose absolutely plummeted after the Ninth Doctor regenerated; I felt that the Tenth Doctor's dynamic with Rose was very different, and the new dynamic didn't really appeal to me. And I'd assumed that I wouldn't really care about Doctor/Rose on this rewatch, whether because I'd moved on or because my dislike of Ten/Rose would have somehow tainted Nine/Rose for me. I'm delighted to discover that I'm wrong!

When I think about it, maybe it's for the best that Eccleston didn't come back for the fiftieth anniversary. We may only have had thirteen episodes with the Ninth Doctor, but they were, for the most part, a pretty great thirteen episodes. I don't know if he'd ever be able to make a return that would match my expectations.
rionaleonhart: final fantasy versus xiii: a young woman at night, her back to you, the moon high above. (nor women neither)
Today I woke up to find that Kingdom Hearts III had been announced and that Final Fantasy Versus XIII had been rebranded Final Fantasy XV (here's a trailer) and was coming to the PS4.


(What I really, really, really want to see in Kingdom Hearts III is the Shibuya of The World Ends With You. I don't know how likely this is - there's never been a Square world in a Kingdom Hearts game, after all, despite the presence of Square characters - but Shibuya was mentioned in Dream Drop Distance, so it definitely exists in the Kingdom Hearts universe!)

And of course there's Lightning Returns coming out in February. Square Enix is going to destroy my bank balance and I'm looking forward to it immensely.

(One thing that does annoy me, though, on the subject of bank balances: the PS4 is to cost almost a hundred pounds more in the United Kingdom than in the United States. That's really quite outrageous. I'm hoping the price will have come down a bit by the time the games I want to play are released, though.)

I'm replaying a bit of Final Fantasy XIII here and there at the moment. I love the way the characters communicate during battle in this game. I love that they'll sometimes address each other directly, or call out to check on someone who's been hurt. It's such a small, charming detail. Sazh saying, 'Thanks, Vanille' when Vanille heals him really makes me smile.

I also smiled when Hope, travelling with Lightning in the Vile Peaks, quietly told himself to calm down. Oh, Hope.

It strikes me as a strange decision to have the party broken up into two groups of two for such a long time. It's good on a story level, allowing the Lightning-Hope and Sazh-Vanille relationships to develop, but the battle system really wasn't designed for fewer than three characters. Not that this is the only time Final Fantasy XIII prioritises story over gameplay, of course.

It's difficult to claim that Final Fantasy XIII is a good game, despite the strength of its battle system - it's a game that actively resents being played and takes every measure it can to minimise the player's input - but it's probably my favourite film. I just adore the way it builds up all these relationships within the party. To me, no other cast in the series felt as strongly bound together.

I've also been replaying Dark Chronicle recently, because apparently I'm in a very videogamey mood. I have my issues with Dark Chronicle - although it's fun and pretty, it's also awfully repetitive and makes me feel a bit empty if I play it for too long - but it's got one of my favourite soundtracks of all time. Just listen to that boss battle theme. Or the Gundorada Workshop music. I nearly linked to six other pieces here, but I'll restrain myself.
rionaleonhart: final fantasy viii: found a draw point! no one can draw... (you're a terrible artist)
Derren Brown's most recent touring show, Svengali, was on Channel 4 on Tuesday evening! As always, it was a strange mixture of Derren Brown being terrifying (in particular when he had a creepy doll 'possess' a man from the audience; the poor guy looked as if he wanted to bolt off the stage) and Derren Brown being all giggly and adorable and climbing the set.

My favourite 'Derren being adorable' moment from the show: he opened it with a game called 'Derren, Please Tell Me Where I Might Find Your Other Shoe', in which he hid his shoe in one of three boxes and audience members had to guess which box it was in. Because he is Derren Brown, he had recorded two ridiculous jingles for this game, to be played during the shoe-hiding process. Here are those jingles.

Speaking of Derren Brown, I was reminded recently of something that struck me when I read his memoir Confessions of a Conjuror. I'm not a huge fan of Confessions of a Conjuror - I far prefer Tricks of the Mind - but I did like the description of his thought process the first time a partner said 'I love you' to him:

1. X loves me. Do I love X in return?
2. What does it mean to love X?
3. I sometimes think I might love X. Is that enough?
4. X has declared a binary position: love or not love. I am to take a clear position on one side.
5. If I do not state that I do love X, some time soon, then my position will be taken as not loving X.
6. Now I am going to have to say I love X in order not to cause this relationship to become very tricky by X feeling unloved.
7. Instead we will progress with X loving me and me uncertain about loving X but certainly pretending to do so.
8. What a terrible thing for X to say.

On a completely different note: after everyone in the world recommended the Phoenix Wright series to me, I purchased Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, the first game in the series! I am currently somewhere in the middle of the third case.

Phoenix Wright, are you really an 'ace attorney'? You're endearing, certainly, but are you actually good at this being-a-lawyer thing? Are you supposed to make statements like 'Therefore, this witness is a big fat liar'?

Of course, Wright's supposed aceness is not terribly well supported by the fact that I am controlling him. At the beginning of the second Turnabout Samurai trial segment, I promptly got four penalties on a single testimony (two of which were for presenting the same piece of irrelevant evidence) and had to struggle through the rest of the trial knowing that one more mistake would net me a game over. It certainly upped the tension, I suppose!

I do prefer Ghost Trick, I have to say (er, the two games share a creator, so this isn't a completely arbitrary comparison); Phoenix Wright is a bit wordy for my videogame tastes (and I'm a Final Fantasy fan!), and so far I like Ghost Trick's characters and storyline more. I'm still having fun with Phoenix Wright, though! I particularly like the voice control, and the way Edgeworth acts as if he's been physically hit if you break through his witnesses' testimonies. And I do seem to be quite fond of Wright himself.

(Seriously, though, you're supposed to point out that April May should have noticed Maya's odd clothes? Have you seen what April May is wearing?)
rionaleonhart: final fantasy xii: fran glares; tremble with fear! (don't cross me)
Have you heard the chocobo theme from Final Fantasy XIII-2?

Listen to it. I'd say 'you won't regret it', but I can't guarantee that. It is literally incredible. I laughed until I cried. IF YOU THINK YOU'RE GONNA HIDE, THERE'S CHOCOBO.

(A 'chocobo', if you're unfamiliar with the concept, is a large yellow bird that can be ridden. Here is an example of a typical chocobo theme. I would not describe the XIII-2 song linked above as 'typical'.)

Thank you for bringing this into my life, [ profile] transnomad.

Recently, I found myself thinking about one of the oddest things I've ever seen in a work of fanfiction. I seem to recall (remember) that it was a Seifer/Zell piece. It wasn't a parody; it seemed to be entirely (completely) seriously written. But every long or remotely (very slightly) unusual (rare) word was followed by a definition (explanation) in brackets (parentheses).

It (the thing I'm talking about) was (like 'is', but earlier) infuriating (really annoying). Don't patronise (talk down to) your readers! If you have that little faith in us, why write anything at all? We're clearly not going to be able to follow it.

I stumbled upon this several years ago. It came back to me recently because I was musing on how very weird fanfiction can be sometimes, and the reason for my musing was this: at present, the Final Fantasy Versus XIII section on contains over five hundred stories. Final Fantasy Versus XIII is a game that has not yet been released. The release date hasn't even been set. The characters are all new; it's a mostly unrelated game set in the same universe as Final Fantasy XIII, rather than a sequel. Five hundred stories based entirely on what can be gleaned from trailers. Seven hundred if you take crossovers into account.

For comparison: the section for the Uncharted series, at present covering three games (all of which have actually been released!), contains 157 stories. Red Dead Redemption, which is only one game but has a wider potential base than the Uncharted series on account of being available on two consoles (Uncharted is exclusive to the PS3), has 159. FINAL FANTASY VERSUS XIII HAS BEEN RELEASED ON NO CONSOLES.

(Final Fantasy XIII-2 had thirty-five stories before its release in Japan yesterday, and I sincerely hope they're all about the chocobo theme.)

Feel free to share tales of how odd fanfiction can be, or indeed of how deeply moved you were by that magnificent piece of chocobo-riding music.
rionaleonhart: friendship is magic: rarity looks horrified. (oh no no no)
The theme of today's entry is 'television shows beginning with M'.

Misfits: oh, no. How have I managed to become emotionally invested in Misfits? How did that happen? This is such a bad thing to be emotionally invested in. You just had to go and be adorable, didn't you, Kelly and Seth? Thanks, Kelly and Seth. Now I actually become distressed when bad things happen in Misfits, which is always.

Merlin: every so often I remember that this was an actual scene in an actual episode of Merlin and just boggle. To any non-watchers who have heard about Merlin and thought 'well, it can't possibly be as gay as everyone seems to say it is': you are incorrect. (Here, if that wasn't, er, romantic enough for you, is the same scene set to soaring violins. Oh, Internet.)

On a more serious note about the Merlin-and-Arthur relationship: here (Scene 59, starting at the 2.16 mark; the link (found via [ profile] lozenger8) should take you straight there) is an incredibly lovely deleted scene from the first episode of the fourth series, when Arthur believes he's going to his death. Bless them.

The Mentalist: has anyone made a montage of all the times that Patrick Jane gets punched in the face? That would be my favourite montage. I would watch it every day. Possibly every hour. I love you, Jane, but when people punch you I cheer.

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic: I'm going to specifically talk about episode 2.09, 'Sweet and Elite', so you may want to rush off and watch that before reading if you haven't seen it yet. I'm not really being terribly spoilery, but just in case.

Thoughts on the episode: I really like Fancypants! I hope we see him again. I loved it when Rarity was watching the Wonderbolts in great excitement and Fancypants, with a little fond smile, was watching her; it was clear that he really enjoyed seeing somepony being genuinely enthusiastic about something after spending so much time with ponies who simply affected interest in everything he said.

I don't really 'ship anypony in Friendship is Magic, but if I did I suspect I would 'ship Fancypants/Rarity. I think they would be good for each other. Fancypants, being surprisingly relaxed and down-to-earth considering his social status, could help keep her grounded; Rarity is a pony willing to disagree with him, which I think he needs.

I have been listening to 'The Pony Everypony Should Know' more or less solidly since I saw the episode, whoops.
rionaleonhart: kingdom hearts: riku, blindfolded and smiling slightly. (we'll be the darkness)
I have now watched Phineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension, and I absolutely love it to pieces. Characters meeting their alternate-universe counterparts is a concept I've always been fond of, and Dr Doofenshmirtz takes it a step further by meeting his alternate-universe counterpart and then singing a duet with himself entitled 'I've Found a Brand New Best Friend (And It's Me)'.

Dr Doofenshmirtz is one of my favourite characters in the whole world. The affable, bumbling villain is nothing new, but Doofenshmirtz is the best example of the trope I've ever seen. And I love his weird friendly-nemesis relationship with Perry.

(Speaking of Doofenshmirtz, two of my favourite Phineas and Ferb clips: a delightful visual gag and the first ten seconds of 'Back in Gimmelshtump', the latter primarily for poor Perry's reaction.)

...okay, so my curiosity just got the better of me and I tried plugging 'Perry', 'Dr Doofenshmirtz' and 'Romance' into the story filter on I already regret it. NOOOOOO ONE OF THEM HAS A DUCKBILL WHAT DO YOU MEAN THEY KISSED NO THEIR LIPS DID NOT MEET PERRY DOESN'T HAVE LIPS

Ahem! Scarring man/platypus love aside: Across the 2nd Dimension contained multiple things I have wanted to see in Phineas and Ferb for ages. Possibly the most significant: the boys met Dr Doofenshmirtz! ♥! Thirty seconds into their encounter with him, I realised that I couldn't stop grinning. The rare moments when Dr Doofenshmirtz directly interacts with the non-platypoidal (this may not be the accepted scientific term) members of the Flynn-Fletcher family are some of my very favourite moments in Phineas and Ferb. I wish it could happen more often.

(And they're so friendly with each other! And Doofenshmirtz was appalled when the Doofenshmirtz from the alternate universe had the boys attacked! I was actually really sad when Phineas realised he was evil. PLEASE BE FRIENDS, GUYS. Dr Doofenshmirtz needs friends!)

Also: oh, the ending. So cute. Bless your little platypus heart, Perry.

For people who don't care about Phineas and Ferb: you're wrong, but have a link to an excellent His Dark Materials AU for Sherlock, written by [ profile] etothepii. It's got a few distracting Americanisms, but don't let that deter you; it does such clever things with the concept of daemons.
rionaleonhart: final fantasy xiii: lightning pays intense attention to you. (speak carefully)
I just completed Final Fantasy XIII! And I sobbed quite a lot at the ending, I have to say.

I think Final Fantasy XIII has actually managed to beat Final Fantasy VIII for my personal 'Favourite Central Cast in a Final Fantasy Game' title. I absolutely love four of the characters - Lightning, Sazh, Snow, Fang - and even the characters I'm less passionate about have relationship dynamics that I adore (Vanille and Sazh! Vanille and Fang! Hope and Snow!). The relationship dynamics are my favourite part of the game, actually; I felt that, save for Fran and Balthier, the inter-party relationships in XII were a bit lacking, so I'm delighted that it was followed by a game filled with endless delightful interaction.

The second-to-last boss was so difficult that I was forced to switch Sazh out of my party and bring Hope in. I did not approve of this at all. I've been using Lightning, Sazh and Fang ever since choosing your own party became an option! Suddenly Sazh can't be involved in the endgame just because Lightning can't learn the best healing abilities? I'm sorry, Sazh. You're still my favourite.

When Lightning ordered everyone to stay together, my heart basically exploded. Lightniiiing.

(Some notes I made on the game a while ago, when I was trying to work out characterisation: 'Lightning and Fang are both 'I-don't-care'-type characters, but of different sorts. Lightning believes herself to be incapable of caring. She isn't particularly happy about it and feels others are better off staying away from her, but in her eyes that's just the way things are; no point worrying about it. Fang, meanwhile, is well aware that she cares about one thing: Vanille. In the face of that, she considers everything else irrelevant.'

Somewhat relatedly: is it just me, or does Fang's 'Cheers!' when you heal or buff her sound slightly surprised? Is that because she's used to a survival-of-the-fittest, look-out-for-your-own-but-don't-expect-help-from-outside world?)

I sort of want to write fanfiction in which Lightning and Snow run a detective agency together, just because it would amuse me. Lightning would become so frustrated.

Anyway, yes: Final Fantasy XIII may not be a perfect game, and it seems to be loathed by a lot of the fanbase, but I for one adore it. I'm going to tentatively name it as my third-favourite Final Fantasy title overall, following X and IX.

Finally, here is the gorgeous piece of background music from Oerba on YouTube: Dust to Dust.
rionaleonhart: revolutionary girl utena: utena has fallen asleep on a pile of papers. (sort of exhausted really)
'Alas,' I hear you cry, 'I want to hear a kickarse song, but I have only forty-three seconds to spare!'

Well, Phineas and Ferb has come to your rescue with 'Mom Look'. I so want an extended version of this. 'Tree-Related Wish' is also a pretty great under-a-minute song, although that's more because of the lyrics.

Have I ever mentioned that Candace and Jeremy are really, really cute? They are so cute. I would not say no to a Jeremy in my life.

(I've been reading The Ask and the Answer, the second book in the Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness, and I keep picturing Lee as Jeremy. It's a little disconcerting.)

Waterloo Road is back and as weirdly compelling as ever! I notice they've brought a new bad boy along, because the Waterloo Road Redemption Treadmill moves ever onwards: there's a bad boy introduced, and gradually he becomes too good to provide real conflict, so they have to bring in a new bad boy to cause disruption. Tariq follows Kyle; Kyle followed Finn; Finn followed Bolton.

(Speaking of Finn: that facial hair, Finn? Really? I mean, it's your face, but... are you sure? Also, Josh's hair is becoming more and more tragic with every term.)

The ending of the episode (7.11) actually made me gasp. I'd spent the entire episode trying to work out what to think of Mr Byrne; slamming a kid up against a wall certainly changes things. Goodness me.

It absolutely breaks my heart that Matt has returned and Sam is gone. I wish he had mentioned her; their storyline together in series four was one of my favourites. Maybe they stayed in touch and that's why it wasn't brought up? I hope they stayed in touch.

Also back: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic! The opening of the second series was so cool. I found myself genuinely distressed by the events in the maze. NO, PONIES, YOU CAN GET THROUGH THIS.

(When Applejack saw that supposed vision of the future in the pool? I had tears in my eyes, I have to confess. I am so weirdly invested in the friendship of these cartoon ponies. How is Friendship is Magic so good?)

I love that Fluttershy's nature made her completely impossible for Discord to undermine. You are my favourite, Fluttershy.

Yes, I'll admit that I consume a lot of media intended for children. But it's such a great time for children's media! Phineas and Ferb and Friendship is Magic are both genuinely well-crafted programmes, and I find they're really good things to watch when you're feeling a bit down. (Waterloo Road is not well-crafted, but it's also not aimed at children, so it makes me feel less as if society is glaring at me and demanding that I explain myself.)
rionaleonhart: the mentalist: lisbon, afraid but brave, makes an important call. (it's been an honour)
Oh, my God, what, Red Dead Redemption has a movie house where you can watch ridiculous old-style silent cartoons on a flickering projector. One of them, entitled The Dangers of Doctors and Patent Medicine, ends with the message 'MEDICAL SCIENCE cannot SAVE YOU. IT WILL KILL YOU and LEAVE YOU DEAD.' This is actually the most amazing game I have ever played.

I enjoy making Marston collect flowers. Sometimes he says, 'Might as well,' as he picks them, because, being a big tough ex-gangster, obviously he didn't set out to pick flowers. He might as well pick flowers, as he's there. But nobody's fooled, because on other flower-picking occasions he'll say, 'You little beauty.'

Marston, incidentally, persists in being ridiculously sexy. Possibly the sexiest videogame character I have ever encountered. When I first saw the game being played, I thought he was quite ugly; now I want him to hogtie me and call me Miss. That's normal, right?

I think I want John Marston to meet Patrick Jane of The Mentalist. They've both had families taken from them, albeit in different ways. I'd like to see them working together. Jane's family can't be saved, but maybe he can help this man save his.

That and, well, Patrick Jane would do hilariously badly in the world of Red Dead Redemption. For all his psychological tricks, he's absolutely terrified of physical harm and he wouldn't be remotely at ease in a setting where most of the people have guns and many of them will happily shoot you.

It troubles me that saving in Red Dead Redemption connotes sleeping for six hours, because I am addicted to saving. I save whenever I do anything remotely significant. So my Marston just sleeps all the time. Obviously I don't have to sit there and wait through the sleeping period, but it's weird when I think that I've played through ten in-game days and probably spent six of them sleeping. Marston, are you feeling all right?

Finally: whenever I've been playing Red Dead Redemption for some time, I find myself humming Pony Chorale from Homestuck as I go about my day. Someone make a fanvid; it only has to be a minute long. IT COULD INCLUDE BAD MSPAINT DRAWINGS OF MARSTON AND HIS HORSE. I wish I had the skills to do this, because it could be magnificent.

HAVE A MILLION ENTRIES ABOUT A GAME THAT ONLY [ profile] thewaterbandit AND [ profile] nano_moose AND [ profile] fireholly HAVE PLAYED, GUYS. If you all play Red Dead Redemption, you can join us over here in the cool corner.
rionaleonhart: final fantasy x-2: the sun is rising, yuna looks to the future. (...really?)
So the second series of Glee is now over! No spoilers for the finale in this entry; I'm talking about the series more generally.

When I finished the first series, I said that the entire plot of the second should be 'KURT, MERCEDES AND QUINN ALL FORM A BIG CUDDLY PILE AND PAINT EACH OTHER'S NAILS'. This failed to happen, sadly, but we did get pretty close with Kurt, Mercedes and Rachel, which is a dynamic that brings me endless joy.

I really hope we get to keep the Kurt-Rachel-Mercedes friendship in the third series. Whilst for the most part I enjoyed the second series immensely, I was greatly saddened by Quinn's storyline; she was probably my favourite character in the first series, but in the second I felt that all her development and the friendships she had formed were suddenly wiped out. I hope that doesn't happen again.

Other thoughts on the second series:

- In the first series, only a handful of the characters really got to perform. The second series has been much better about this; some characters still get many more songs than others, but there's definitely been more variety in singers, which is nice.

- Kurt and Blaine are adorable, and I've had so much fun writing ridiculous AUs about them. Predictably, I stopped writing the moment they got together in canon. I think that's probably the end of my fanfiction for them, but I thought that before I wrote Focus and indeed before I wrote Behind the Curtain, so who knows? I'd certainly like to write more for them if I'm inspired to.

- I've mentioned it before, but I'm mentioning the Kurt-Rachel-Mercedes friendship again. It is so wonderful! I've always had a bit of a fondness for Rachel, but since she made some friends she's become one of my favourite characters.

- I didn't particularly care for Santana in the first series, but she's gained a lot more depth recently and I seem to have fallen a little in love with her. Brittany is also great.

My wishlist for the third series:

- There is much more focus on Rachel's friendships than on her romantic relationships. The focus switched between the two throughout the second series, and I enjoyed the former approximately eight billion times more.

- On that note, KURT, RACHEL AND MERCEDES ALL FORM A BIG CUDDLY PILE AND PAINT EACH OTHER'S NAILS. Quinn is invited as well; I think she's in dire need of some platonic cuddlepiling.

- Quinn and Rachel become friends. And then they have more duets, because 'I Feel Pretty/Unpretty' was one of my favourite performances this series. And at some point they make out. This is completely shallow; I don't actually 'ship Quinn/Rachel, but I think it would be blazingly hot. (Curious fact: the pairings I 'ship and the pairings I find hot are almost never the same pairings.)

- Karofsky is redeemed, joins New Directions and finds a boyfriend. A proper friendship with Kurt might be nice.

- Everyone in the fandom stops having raging 'shipwars and just gets along. Seriously, I've never been involved in a fandom that took its 'shipping so seriously before. It's a little frightening.

- I don't have anything in particular against Finn, but I feel that romantic storylines with him have a detrimental effect on both Quinn and Rachel's characters. So I need him to have a storyline that keeps him away from both of them.




In Pokémon-related news, I have now caught an Emolga of my very own! I named it 'YouBastard' and then I felt guilty.