Tuesday, February 12, 2008

1UP has an infantile definition of what is 'mature' in video games

From Andrew Fitch, on 1UP's Lost Odyssey review:

" Early on in Lost Odyssey (Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi's Xbox 360 follow-up to the disappointingly kiddie Blue Dragon) it becomes clear this is not the Japanese role-playing game of your childhood. As the gloomy protagonist Kaim and his cohorts set off on their adventure, they're greeted not by pomp and circumstance but by a womanizing rogue named Jansen, who stumbles in drunk, having spent the night with a trio of scantily clad sexpots who can only be described as "ladies of the evening"...and these buxom babes summarily attempt to entice Kaim's female companion, Seth, to come hither as well.

Unfortunately, Lost Odyssey doesn't quite go far enough with the grown-up mindset, sabotaging the story early on with the introduction of a couple of loudmouth, grating kids -- straight knockoffs of Palom and Porom from Final Fantasy IV. And just like on a claustrophobic plane ride, these unwelcome munchkins threaten to spoil the whole adventure."

But wait, there's more....

".....But the most effective character by far -- and the breakout star of the show, quite frankly -- is the aforementioned Jansen, who brings a Bruce Campbell-style levity to the proceedings as a scoundrel with a heart and a weakness for women...any woman, from riffraff to royalty. Jansen's presence means the proceedings never devolve too much into self-absorbed pretentiousness: Even as the over-the-top, ham-fisted villain delivers an overlong monologue describing his plans for world domination, Jansen's there to save the day (and the player's patience!) by cracking wise. "

So waitaminute, if the game had more scenes with Jansen having sex with a lot of hot chicks, Lost Odyssey would have had a more 'mature' story and have become a better game? Is this what classifies as 'mature' now?

1up, this is NOT Jansen.

I think Andrew Fitch has such a juvenile, infantile view of what makes material in a game 'mature'. If you ask me, what makes Lost Odyssey mature is the way it talks about death and loss in the human experience. I, for one, never disliked the inclusion of the younger characters Cooke and Mack. I think they broaden the scope of human experience in the game and offer something that you never see in the JRPG genre, a nearly accurate characterization of younger people. Those two child characters are well-acted and, if you ask me, make the story feel more unique in comparison to a lot of other JRPGs out there. They act like kids but I never found them overbearing....they fit in the story in a great way. Having them around actually makes you understand the burden of Kaim's immortality a bit more (and here I cannot elaborate without spoiling the game, so I won't.....)

That said, seeing writing like that makes me lose even more respect for the quality of game journalism out there. I know that perhaps they're trying to relate with their audience (some of which might still find topics related to 'sex', like, totally rad [/sarcasm] ). The issue here is that, when it comes to Lost Odyssey, the review doesn't look at the big picture. It focuses so much on little things that seem like flaws that are against the personal preference of the critic.

Now let me one more thing straight. I like Jansen. He's a great character....and provides much needed comedic relief in many occasions in the game. I just don't like how 1UP is cheapening his character. He's certainly no prick as this 1Up review may describe him to be. My wife tells me that stuff happens later in the game which really evolve this character....he doesn't deserve to get bastardized like that on a cheap game review site like 1UP.com. He deserves better.

1UP, stop sending the wrong signals to game developers regarding the meaning of maturity in video games.

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