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  -Part 1 :: [02.17.06]
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"The bellboy's recollection includes a black-and-white still of him and April in the hallway outside her room, April thrusting her boobs at him, his face frozen in a lecherous wink. Obviously he's looking past her at the gay porn playing on the TV in her room. Look at this guy--there is no way he was looking at her like that."
     -Sam, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Part 2




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Tales of Symphonia : Part 1
By Jeanne
Posted 02.17.06
Pg. 1 : 2 : 3 : 4
Lloyd tries to play cool, like he's not a total slacker dumbass. Raine ignores him, and continues to unload her bad case of grammatically-challenged exposition all over the class. "Today is the Day of Prophecy. It is a very important day, which the Chosen of [Manjuice] will receive an oracle from the Goddess Martel." But not such an important day that these eight students or so would get out of their classes. Lame.

Raine turns her attention to the Chosen One herself, who just happens to be in this Podunk classroom. What a surprise -- it's the blonde girl from the opening movie! Of course there's no way a girl with the title "Chosen One" could ever be a Mary Sue -- that's just me reading way too much into it. The Mary Sue's name is Colette, but I think you guys would be a bit disappointed if I didn't rename her. Let's see...we have Mary Sue, M!Sue, and Gams already. How about Suelette? It's not witty or original, but that makes it fit perfectly in this game.

Raine asks Suelette to exposit to the gamer about the "journey of world regeneration." In a cute, perky voice, Suelette answers, "It is a pilgrimage journey to seal Sin the Desians. Upon passing the trials of the temples Goddess Martel, the aeons Summon Spirits that protect the world awaken, and [manjuice] is restored." Raine is pleased, all, "Obviously, the Chosen One would know all of that!" Well, she must not have had the same experiences with clueless Mary Sues as the rest of us.

We are still not finished getting up to speed on the backstory. Jesus. Raine informs the class that the shortage of manjuice is responsible for all sorts of bad things happening in the world. You know, the usual: crop shortages, droughts, nightmares about the Pond Scene, being forced to play through the Cathedral Ship. "It is said that this occurs because the Desians consume vast amounts of [manjuice] in their human ranches." I bet they do. Also, add another item to the Things These Kids Should Already Know list. During this expositional fit, Lloyd, who drifted off again, opens his eyes just in time to see Suelette looking back and smiling at him. No. I refuse to believe the Mary Sue has a thing for the hero. That is SO out of left field.

So which is it?
These kids are the most ignorant asshats in the entire history of gaming, and are just now learning the basic societal/religious information of their world.
Raine is the easiest professor ever. Wait, that came out wrong.

 

Still not done. Raine basically repeats what Suelette just said regarding the purpose of the journey of regeneration. Seriously, this is getting insulting. These kids live in the same village as the Chosen. They have to know this shit already. Oh well, I guess the class is an easy A. Suddenly, a light from heaven distracts Raine from her expository fit. And I'm not being metaphorical -- there actually is a flash of light with an accompanying heavenly sound effect. Lloyd and Suelette are the only ones who seem to react -- the generic clone kids in the background continue to stare ahead blankly.

The light is the oracle thing that Raine mentioned earlier. She's going to go check it out, leaving her students behind to "study on [their] own." Right. Suelette wants to join her, but Raine turns her down without giving an actual reason, because such a thing would give us somewhat of an idea what's going on in a non-clumsy fashion. And we can't have that. According to Raine, the priests will come fetch Suelette if it wasn't just a random flash of light from some pervert standing outside the classroom snapping flash photos. Not the type of Sue that challenges authority, Suelette accepts this and sits down at her desk, probably to actually study.

I finally get control of Lloyd and his blinding red outfit. Everyone except Suelette is standing around, most definitely not studying. What is a better way to start a game, I ask you, than a virtual assload of excruciating exposition followed by a round of Talk To Everyone? I'm on the edge of my seat, here.

This might be a good time to mention the affection system in this game. Basically, during the course of the game, Lloyd will have the chance to make other characters think he's a fantastic studmuffin or an infected douchebag based on conversational and other choices. Eventually, one of the other characters will become Lloyd's "soulmate" which affects certain scenes and possibly implies that the two of them are doing it. And the game designers, bless their drugged-up hearts, have not limited this soulmate to a female character. As those of you who are forum members, VGR LJ community readers, or VGR Radio listeners know, I have opened up the choice of this soulmate to a poll. Without giving too much away in the recap itself, let's just say that the winning character will not show up for quite a while yet. But it's not too soon to start working toward that result. To put it simply, this involves acting like an asshat to certain characters predisposed toward worshipping Lloyd. I think you know who I'm talking about here.

Through some more bad exposition provided by his classmates, we learn that Lloyd doesn't live in the village proper, but has to travel through a forest to get to class -- uphill both ways in the snow while doing his homework on the back of a shovel with a piece of coal. One of the girls points out the contradiction between Lloyd's monumental effort to get to school and his hatred of studying. Because -- now I want you to get it this time -- Lloyd Is Retarded. I will bold any further references to this just to help you along.

Another student -- a gossip whore, from the looks of it -- has heard that an angel from heaven (as opposed to an angel from Ohio, obviously) delivers the oracle. This guy must be the true genius of the class, since that information is way more advanced than what Raine covered. The gossip whore adds that his sources tell him that Suelette's real father is an angel. Eye-rolling Mary Sue-itude aside, can you really blame her mom if that's true? Would you rather do it with some backwater hick or an angel? Well, assuming that the angel has actual naughty bits. Even without, I'm sure the angel would be preferable. Suelette, sitting ten feet away, gives no reaction to this tawdry rumor. "That light was so pretty," is all she says when Lloyd talks to her. I would make a comment about her outfit providing plenty of nooks and crannies in which to hide weed, but a Perfect Innocent Mary Sue would never indulge in illicit substances. Never!

Penis -- who we now see wears a fabulous jailbait shorts ensemble -- provides even more God damn exposition. The light that heralds the oracle's arrival is from the shining of something called a Cruxis Crystal stuck in some altar. He supposedly learned this in class, even though it looked like Raine brought up the oracle business for the first time just a couple of minutes ago. I think Penis has been doing some extracurricular studying, but he doesn't want to admit it because then Lloyd might think he's a nerd and won't want to be more than friends with him. Or else the whole classroom scene was put together shoddily for expositional purposes without any concern for consistency or believability. The first option is more fun, though.

Back to this Cruxis Crystal thing...hey, "crux" is Latin for "cross"! That's a religious reference because Jesus died on the cross! I am impressed with the depth of this game.

No one else says anything worth recapping, so Lloyd does the only thing he can do -- he heads out the door. Penis and his pastel blue shorts run up to him, shrieking over Lloyd disregarding Raine's orders. What Penis doesn't know is that unless Lloyd attempts to leave, he and everyone else in that room will remain stuck in a state where they can only stand in place and repeat the same dialogue until the end of time. Lloyd is actually doing everyone a favor.

 
I'm sure there's a fanfiction about it somewhere.

"I'm really curious to find out what really happens to [Suelette] when she receives the oracle," Lloyd duhs, apparently unaware that Suelette is still in the classroom and not anywhere near the oracle. He adds that while everyone "always" blabs on and on about this Chosen and Day of Prophecy stuff, they never share the real dirt. From this we can assume two things: 1) Everyone does already know this shit and Raine's just a lousy teacher, and 2) Lloyd's a total dumbass slacker who can't remember obvious facts in the classroom, but can remember them when it's convenient to the plot.

Penis still can't accept that Lloyd would disobey Raine -- who is Penis's sister, apparently. So I get a choice -- Lloyd can lure Penis with the promise of engaging in extracurricular "research" or he can abandon all his dreams of witnessing the undoubtedly exciting examination of the oracle. Crushing Penis's sad, prepubescent dreams by choosing the latter, Lloyd throws an anime black scribble hissy. "Man...I was really looking forward to seeing what happens with the oracle," he tards. This game needs to keep its information straight for two seconds. Is that too much to ask?

The view switches to an elderly robed man staggering through the classroom door. And by "staggering" I mean he's moving a little slowly and uncomfortably. Nothing that would indicate anything like a mortal wound. That doesn't stop him from collapsing face down in front of Suelette. A Black Screen of Off-Camera Animation switches to the priest lying on his back with Lloyd, Penis, and Suelette staring at him. The other kids in the classroom look in their direction, but don't appear overly concerned. In spite of the ominous and tragic church organ/drum piece blasting away in the background.

The priest moans that those fuckhead Desians attacked the temple, though apparently they didn't do a good job if this old dude managed to get out and make it back to the village. "Wait. Iselia has a non-aggression treaty with the Desians," Penis exposits, like a group that has as shitty a reputation as these Desians would never do something as horrible as break a treaty. "You mean that agreement where they don't attack the village as long as we leave the human ranch alone?" Lloyd awkwardly exposits in reply. No, actually it's that other non-aggression treaty. Suelette feels left out in this terrible exposition party, so she makes sure to add that this non-aggression treaty is in place to protect her. Because it makes sense that these Desians, who will apparently be wiped out should Suelette successfully complete her journey, would agree to a treaty that ensures her continued existence.

The priest points out that, duh, the Desians obviously broke the treaty. And he dies to prove it. Well, that put a major damper on this gloriously special day. The camera allows the trio a brief moment of grief before immediately switching to a shot of Suelette and the other two standing near the door. Somewhere in there, the kids managed to remove the pastor's dead body -- despite not leaving the room. I don't really want to know, so I'll let you decide. Suelette thinks that the best course of action would be for her to head out to the Desian-infested temple by herself, because she has to receive the oracle. She asks the other two to stay behind, probably because it's dangerous out there. Brilliant. Although he clearly has a boy crush on Lloyd, Penis can't break the rule of "Everyone Must Worry About the Mary Sue at All Times," so he thinks Lloyd should accompany her. Here I get another choice, and although it doesn't change the ultimate outcome of the scene, it's awesome to make Lloyd pretty much tell Suelette to go fuck herself. Only after Penis announces he's going does Lloyd finally agree to join them. A little incentive there?

Er...what happened to the priest's dead body?
The kids heaved it out the window.
Have you ever had a school lunch? Eating this guy's corpse had to be an improvement.
That whole death sequence never actually happened. That might explain why no one ever mentions it again.
They have a wizard to take care of that shit, you know.

 

I gain control of Lloyd again, only to receive an explanation of something called "skits." Like the ATEs in Final Fantasy IX, skits are optional little scenes that appear from time to time. Only instead of actual gameplay scenes, they consist of anime-style character portraits holding conversations with one another. They really wouldn't be so bad except that the localization team left out the voice acting in this version, and they don't provide any options for scrolling through the text. So I'm forced to sit through fifteen seconds of mouth-moving animation after I'm done reading each line. Keep this in mind while I recap each of them, just for that authentic hair-tearing experience.

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