Late on this one because I wanted to get the right image for the new music spotlight for the few months. Much like how I was able to finally close the book on the Souls series with Bloodborne and Dark Souls 3, they were not the only games to enter my fold during the early portions this year that made 2017 quite the magical time for me in terms of videogames. To fill that void that the Souls series left me, Trails in the Sky, the first entry in the Trails subseries and the 6th game overall in the Legend of Heroes series by Falcom was something of a popular pick nowadays in the JRPG corner. Originally released in 2004, it resurfaced on Steam during 2014 and gained a cult following for its stellar music, lovable characters, and an interesting plot that spans over 7 more games to come. While it’s combat is nothing to write home about, the chapters highly formulaic, and some cliches thrown in there, Trails in the Sky was quite simply magical when it all came together and a big chunk of that is thanks to its stellar soundtrack that helped build the mood in all of its key scenes. This week is just the opening theme so while that plays, allow me to try and summarize how the series begins.
The writing and exposition is a plentiful in the series and is something of a entry barrier with all the reading one has to go through. Excess of reading however is hardly a barrier at all for someone who loves dialogue and world building in the game so I went through with it just fine but the start of the series has a lot of smaller things happening so let me just guide you along these next few weeks with small summaries of where these tunes played and when they had the most impact. To keep things simple, Trails in the Sky (which will now be abbreviated as Tits) features the adventure of the adopted siblings of Estelle and Joshua Bright. The latter of whom was brought into the family by Estelle’s father, Cassius. Cassius is part of the Bracers, an occupation that in regular terms resembles a mix between community servicemen, bounty hunters, and a load of other occupations an RPG character would do in their spare time. As the two kids grow up with each other, they work towards becoming a great Bracer like their father and as they are fully inducted into the Bracer Guild, Cassius leaves for some important work and boards the airship to his destination. The duo and their instructor, Senior Bracer Scheherazade fill in for the duties Cassius was supposed to do and everything is fine and dandy until news report that the airship Cassius has boarded is listed as missing. Thus begins the main quest line in the game.
Despite all the shit I had to say to MVCI, I will say that the rumors weren’t kidding when they said the budgets mostly went into the DLC characters instead of the actual game and roster. From the looks of it, Monster Hunter, Sigma, and Black Panther looks fucking MILES above what the original cast look like. Does it mean I’ll forgive the game at all? Probably not but being the sort of guy who always appreciates armored characters like Ultron, I’ll probably give it a few more glances and flail around with my friends.
End of the road for the DS3 music spotlight now that the series has run its course. What’s that? Why no tracks from the Ashes of Ariandel and Ringed City? Well simply because I didn’t find too many of their themes all that appealing. I will mention that Halflight Spear of the Church’s theme is fantastic but that wouldn’t sit well with me to NOT end in a number that isn’t 0 or 5. So you can listen to that on your own. This week’s theme returns the series’ final moments to the last moments of the first game. The Soul of Cinder sits alone in the dilapidated end of the world in the distorted Kiln of the First Flame underneath the weirdass sun. His fight is quite the love-letter to fans as it is the accumulation of all the souls that linked the fire in ages past, meaning that we’re fighting ourselves who beat the first game, and in part, the second game. By this, a total of four different playstyles can be fought against, the regular swordsman, the spear and miracle build, the pure sorcery build, and the dex min-maxing curved sword and pyromancy build. That wasn’t all of course, the big man comes out after the first healthbar is depleted and Gwyn’s soul returns with his original moveset and a couple of other additions. The 3 piano notes probably made a lot of people excited during this.
Only a single Summer series remains to be talked about and I’ll be working on that in the remainder of the week. You might be thinking that I’m forgetting another series and I’m not, Hajimete no Gal doesn’t really require a whole post to talk about how boring and cookie-cutter it is. The only thing going for it is probably how it started going anime original pretty early in the series and that didn’t really work out in the long run, at least for me. I wasn’t really going to put the time to just talk about the seasonal fodder shows like that so I won’t. To be fair, Gamers! isn’t all that groundbreaking either but at least it had some funny moments for me to enjoy, but that probably has to do with a factor that I’ll discuss when we get to that point.
Anyways, this week’s Dark Souls 3 music spotlight happens to be one of my favorites. The Twin Princes of Lothric are the last remaining “Lords” to be collected and forcibly returned to their throne in Firelink Shrine. In our journey, we notice that each Lord of Cinder had a specific NPC involved in their own quest to return the lords to their thrones. Anri and Horace to Aldrich, Siegward to Yhorm, and Hawkwood to the Abyss Watchers. Different lords from past ages and now, we as the Ashen Champion arose to bring this age’s supposed Lord, Prince Lothric back to his throne. While a very rudimentary boss as far as presentations and gimmicks go, I couldn’t help but love this fight. Maybe it really was the music but something about these two fighting together hit me really hard. I also enjoy what Lothric does while piggybacking Lorian, stuff like buffing up their charge attack and the likes. It’s interesting to note that Lorian immediately dies if Lothric is slain as well, cementing that their connection is what keeps each other alive.
Working on it
I haven’t talked about this too much but apparently MvC: Infinite had terrible sales in Europe and I’m quietly hoping that the US release isn’t all that spectacular either. Ever since I laid eyes on the announcement trailer, I’ve had nothing but disappointment brewing in my gut and I wasn’t off from the general opinion that MvCI is quite the tragedy when it came to nearly everything but its gameplay. Admittedly, I do like some of the changes that it made to some characters. Dormammu had some really nice updates to his quality of life to make his spell charging easier and Ultron was a character that I’ve always liked but everything else, man. It’s quite a damn shame. On another gaming note, Trails of Cold Steel 3 is close to release and I already spoiled myself 8 hours through a gameplay stream and it hardly spoiled me on anything as of yet, it’s looking quite fantastic so far with the smooth UI and fast transitions.
Let’s not get too carried away from here since it’s still Souls music time. Much like how the tolling bells of the Abyss Watcher’s theme reflected their connection to Artorias, Aldrich’s theme is reminiscent of Gwyndolin’s own. This shouldn’t be all that much of a surprise since Gwyndolin is seen in Aldrich’s boss fight, being eaten alive and having the top half of his body being used by the Saint of the Deep himself. While a darker rendition of Gwyndolin’s theme plays, we ran into Aldrich digesting Gwyndolin and we take the fight to him while he fends himself with Gwyndolins magic bow and a few other familiar looking weapons and abilities. Namely the gravelord sword that functions as a staff as well as the lifehunt scythe ability. While Aldrich was hyped up from the beginning, I mostly found the fight as a simple mad-dash to clobber him up a couple times before he reappeared in another part of the stage while dodging all the projectiles he threw, a tougher version of Crystal Sages almost.
Hajimete no Gal ended last week but I really didn’t feel like talking about it on its own big post but I just might end up having to do exactly that. I always thought the idea of the series outpacing its own manga would lead to something strange and sure enough, it apparently went original in a lot of factors. Instead of voicing all my opinions here though, I’ll just make something small later this week talking about it. I’ve been eyeing some other MTG decks that I want to make but goddamn these prices. I haven’t bought any figures for nearly a year, and honestly, a nearly full deck costs as much as a single figure but why do I feel so stingy with prices now of all times?
Anyways, continuing with our foray into the Lords of Cinder, this week’s theme is that of Yhorm, who’s a bit of a mixed bag. Yhorm harkens back to Demon’s Souls in that he’s mostly meant to be defeated by the use of the Storm Ruler, a weapon that one can loot at the foot of his throne and much like the Demon’s Souls blade of the same name, its weapon art can be used to kill Yhorm in a few hits. Not doing it this way means you’re in for quite a long boss fight as Yhorm, being an enormous giant whose appearance is reminiscent of the faceless giants in DS2 (except Yhorm actually has a face, scarred even), takes forever to kill. Yhorm’s backstory is interesting and, like the other Lords of Cinder are related to NPC quest lines, but I wish I could say the same for his zone, the Profaned Capital. It’s an extremely empty level that begs to be completed but oh well, each entry in the series has THAT portion.
Way late because I was too focused on Magic the Gathering. I apologize for the tardiness because I actually have some fun things to say this week. After last week’s Hajimete no Gal, I got a bad taste in my mouth with how stupid the protagonist was acting and generally had to admit the series wasn’t all that entertaining so I decided to expand my love-com viewing habits and moved onto another series. The only hint I’ll give is “misunderstandings” and while that term might be too broad for the genre, there’s a heaping load of it in the series I picked up this season. That honestly might be the only clue you need.
Anyways, we move onto to the big spotlight themes with the first Lords of Cinder we face deep within Farron Keep, the Abyss Watchers. Also known as the Undead Legion, the Abyss Watchers were an enormous company of warriors that partook a blood oath with an ancient wolf to follow in their “master’s” footsteps and purge any and all traces of the Abyss from kingdoms. Their status as lords was considered as a group as their souls were linked and melded with that of their old master and when they gave themselves to the fire, they did so collectively. When the bell of awakening tolled, the Abyss Watchers neglected their duties as Lords and returned to their keep where they engaged in endless battle against the Abyss, which had ironically taken root in their own ranks. It’s the most blatant homage to the legendary Artorias but no matter how you look at it, the Abyss Watchers were downright cool as all hell.
I can already feel the Fall season’s chilly winds and my frequent coughing. I’ve been frequenting FGO discussions and seeing how many people are despairing and rejoicing in their luck in this most recent Rate-Up event. Makes me both scared and hopeful for when the time comes that I’ll be using my stockpiled Quartz a few months down. Until then, I’ll just be wallowing in garbage CEs and helplessly trying to farm materials. Aside from that, nothing really new aside from practicing the newest Under Night. Maybe it’s the latency but my delay-timings have been getting worse.
We move on to one of the better hidden places and bosses in DS3. Slaying Oceiros and moving past his boss room leads the player into a room that holds a new gesture called Path of the Dragon from a corpse wearing the Drakeblood Knight armor. Past the room is the entrance to the bizzaro dark-world alternate universe with the abandoned firelink shrine and Champion Gundyr but the real secret here is the gesture that unlocks the last optional area of the game. If an intrepid player remembers a certain spot outside of the Irithyll Dungeon, there’s a place outside the main buildings that has a bunch of dead knights and draconic beings all doing the gesture, overlooking a vast valley and to a temple atop a distant mountain. Mirroring these figures and performing the gesture will eventually bring you to the wondrous Archdragon Peak where its followers were successful in becoming dragons. This place is also where Gwyn’s Firstborn, who as of now definitely isn’t Solaire, ran off to as his profane action of allying with the dragons had his named spurned from history. Only when the bell is rung at the heart of the shrine, stormclouds cover the area and you enter the arena where you face the Nameless King riding his wyvern, Storm King. Much like in Ornstein and Smough’s fight where the 2nd one slain absorbs the powers of the 1st one to go, the Nameless King assumes his companion’s power over the storm and faces off against you coupled with his power over lightning.