Narrative in Video Games #17: Tales of Xillia

Tales of Xillia is the thirteenth main entry in the long-running Tales series, and the first game made exclusively for the PlayStation 3. Tales stands out among other JRPG franchises with its fast, real-time combat and strong focus on character interactions through optional skits. So how does Xillia stack up in this storied franchise?

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Narrative in Video Games #16: Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon

The 2001 launch of the Gamecube was something of a departure for Nintendo. After launching the NES, SNES, and Nintendo 64 with Super Mario Bros, Super Mario World, and Super Mario 64 respectively, the gaming public expected the new console to launch with its own Mario game as well. Instead, we got the cult favorite spinoff Luigi’s Mansion that won players over with its palpable atmosphere and undeniable charm. After more than a decade had passed, many believed the game to be a one and done experiment. At least until 2013, when the long-awaited sequel Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon launched on the Nintendo 3DS.

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Narrative in Video Games: Reading Responses

As part of my independent study during the Spring 2016 semester, I made written responses to some of the literature written about the video games industry. Click the link for each PDF.

A Mind Forever Voyaging: A History of Storytelling in Video Games – Dylan Holmes

Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Video Games – Ian Bogost

First Person: New Media as Story, Performance, and Game – Pat Harrigan and Noah Wardrip-Fruin

 

Narrative in Video Games #15: Xenoblade Chronicles 3D, Part One

Xenoblade Chronicles’ North American release was unusual to say the least. As the 2011 release date for its European version loomed, there were still no plans for a North American release. This prompted the consumer petition “Operation Rainfall” to convince Nintendo of America to release a North American version of Xenoblade, as well as two other Wii games. All three games were eventually localized, but Xenoblade was relegated to a retailer exclusive with demand greatly exceeding its limited supply. This arbitrary limitation led to another as the game was re-released in 2015 as Xenoblade Chronicles 3D exclusive to the New Nintendo 3DS, rather than the standard model. But after jumping through all those hoops to play either version, is the game worth it? In Part One we’ll run through mechanics.

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Narrative in Video Games #14: Shadow of the Colossus

When it comes to the topic of video games as an art form, few studios are as frequently cited as Team Ico. For as lauded as the team has been, however, their output has been anything but prolific, consisting only of 2001’s cult hit Ico and 2005’s Shadow of the Colossus, commonly regarded as one of the greatest games of all time. With The Last Guardian’s release finally cresting the horizon, let’s take a look back at their magnum opus: Shadow of the Colossus.

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Narrative in Video Games #13: Undertale

In mid-2013, up-and-coming indie developer Toby Fox launched a modest Kickstarter campaign for “a traditional role-playing game where no one has to get hurt.” With the genre typically defined by mowing down every enemy in your path for gold and experience points, the concept of a pacifist RPG was intriguing to say the least. The campaign easily raised ten times its funding goal and Undertale was finally released two years later to critical acclaim. It’s already become a cult classic, but how does it hold up to the uninitiated?

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Narrative in Video Games #12: Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner

In the previous entry on Zone of the Enders, I mentioned that the game felt more like a proof of concept than a standalone game. Having played Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner, I can definitively say that those feelings were entirely justified. The 2nd Runner feels more like a do-over than a sequel improving on every front from control, to gameplay variety, to story. The original PlayStation 2 version came out in 2003, but I will once again be covering the re-release included in the Zone of the Enders HD Collection.

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Narrative in Video Games #11: Zone of the Enders

Much has been made about the controversy between Hideo Kojima and former employer Konami that I won’t go into here, but their relationship wasn’t always so toxic. Following the breakout success of Metal Gear Solid in 1998, work began on a sequel that wouldn’t be released until late 2001. In the interim, Kojima worked on another series with an anime tie-in titled Zone of the Enders. Today we’ll be looking at the 2012 re-release included in the Zone of the Enders HD Collection. 

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Narrative in Video Games #10: Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D

Donkey Kong’s place in gaming history is unique to say the least. After debuting as the titular antagonist of the arcade classic Donkey Kong, the character fell into obscurity in the wake of his nemesis’ meteoric success. When the character finally reemerged in 1994’s Donkey Kong Country, he carved out a beloved series of his own with a dedicated following. Donkey Kong became largely relegated spin-off titles by the end of the 90’s, but returned to the spotlight once again with 2010’s Donkey Kong Country Returns. Our subject today is the 2013 Nintendo 3DS port: Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D.

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Narrative in Video Games #9: To the Moon

The anthology narrative is a fascinating storytelling concept for its unconventionality. Instead of a larger singular narrative, a series of short stories are compiled together often only connected by a theme, a premise, or a shared character or event. Juxtaposition helps facilitate the audience’s ability to find connections between the works. The mechanical focus of most games lends itself well to loosely connected stories, but today’s game takes more of an arc-based approach. The first of Freebird Games’ currently unnamed series: 2011’s To the Moon.

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