mad square

Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)

A.N: For the Fandom Bingo card spot 1-5; ‘madness’.

They call it Despair. 

The state by which a Sky can be fully broken, rendered unable to form Guardian bonds, when their Flame is corrupted and the Will turned against itself, gnawing away at the bonds keeping the soul tethered to the body. Within months, a Despaired Sky will usually either attempt to kill themselves to escape the never-ending bond hunger, or go completely mad and attempt to force their corrupted bond on another. 

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For all the members of the leadership of the Citadel, there exists a Prime Imperator.  It follows then that the other Imperator is Composite.

Let the Citadel leadership be the set of all natural numbers strictly greater than 0.

Immortan Joe is number 1.

The Prime Imperator: 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13…

The Composite Imperator: 4, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12…

Rictus, sadly, is irrational.

The World Ends With You: “It’s a Wonderful Game”

What makes The World Ends With You such a minor miracle is that it was written, designed, and published by Square Enix, a company so laughably out of touch with the current state of gaming that they’re still putting all of their eggs into a basket that’s had a gaping hole in it for well over a decade. Fans will argue over exactly when the Final Fantasy franchise finally hammered the last nail into its own coffin, but we can all agree that Square Enix has been relying on a formula so repetitive, ancient, and straight up unfun that its flagship series has become the video game equivalent of The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Considering the only other RPG series it publishes has been on the back burner for eleven years, it would be easy to dismiss Square Enix as the M. Night Shyamalan of game publishers; They made a few hits back in the day, but have since completely forgotten what made them so great in the first place.

Except here’s the thing: M. Night hasn’t made anything of substance since (I’ll be generous) Signs. Square Enix, on the other hand, has at least given us a bizarre gem of a game in the form of The World Ends With You, and it outright begs the question: Where has this developer been hiding?!

Let’s be real here: the Nintendo DS was a weird system, and outside of indie darlings or minigame collections, developers really had no clue what to do for it. Very few creators took advantage of the touch screen in ways that were actually fun (GTA: Chinatown Wars and Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword being among the rare exceptions), with Nintendo being the only ones who seemed to understand how it was all supposed to work. Even still, the occasional Zelda adventure or Mario & Luigi entry were few and far between, leaving hardcore gamers with games that took advantage of the higher processing power, but not really anything else the DS had to offer. Like, do you remember that it had a microphone? Yeah, neither did any game developer from 2004 to 2013.

Suddenly, like a bolt from the blue, comes a game that literally looks, sounds, and plays like nothing else on the market: An action JRPG that takes place in modern day Tokyo, with an emphasis on music and style over swords and wizardry. Instead of forging new armor, you subliminally set trends in various districts and get stronger by wearing the most popular clothing brands. Rather than using ridiculously-sized weapons in battle, you arm yourself with magic pins that grant you various abilities. And to get the most of those abilities, you’re forced to make use of both screens (simultaneously) while tapping, scribbling, and swiping the touch screen. To say that the game is overwhelming at first is an enormous understatement, but what makes TWEWY so incredible is that you not only eventually adapt to it, but it’s fun adapting to it.

Still, Square Enix has always been at least decent with their gameplay. It’s the baffling, head-scratching, occasionally asinine stories and characters that they’ve been struggling with for years now, right? An RPG with this much going for it gameplay-wise is still only as good as the story you’re playing through. Fortunately, not only is TWEWY storyline well-written, but it’s almost unnecessarily well-written - and I mean that in the absolute best way possible. Most stories as deep and intricate as this one are nowadays typically saved for experimental indie “interactive dramas”, but the creative forces behind TWEWY (both the original Japanese team and the team of English translators) wove an engaging, thought-provoking, sometimes comedic, and oftentimes very emotional coming-of-age tale within the threads of an action-packed JRPG.

The World Ends With You is the story of Neku, a reclusive and bitter teenager who spends his time meandering around the graffiti-laden Shibuya district, drowning out interactions with others via his headphones. One particular morning, however, he awakens in the middle of the district’s crowded scramble crossing, with no recollection as to why or how. Any and all attempts to interact with the hundreds of people around him fail before he receives a cryptic message on his phone: “Reach 104. You have 60 minutes. Fail, and face erasure.” A painful magical timer appears on his palm, counting down the remaining time he has to complete his otherworldly mission. From there, the mystery only grows.

Yes, yes, here we have another instance of our main protagonist perpetuating the “brooding, angsty” stereotype that is often the norm in JRPGs. The difference here is that his angst is not only typical (he is, after all, a teenager), but it’s also the main focus on the story itself. The way Neku interacts with his fellow “Players” is a fascinating character study in and of itself, allowing him to - gasp - grow and change! The “Reaper’s Game” that he’s been thrown into forces him to do the one thing he dreads: get close with and trust other human beings. Maybe it sounds like a silly arc for your main hero, but the writing staff pulls it off tremendously. 

Of course, Neku spends a majority of the game growing away from his anti-social norms, so the characters he teams up with have to be engaging enough to carry the storyline forward with him. Fortunately, Square Enix provides us with a variety of fun, interesting, well-developed partners in the forms of Shiki, Joshua, Beat, and Rhyme. Each character’s arc has their own twists and turns, and to talk too in-depth about any one of them would risk spoiling some of the game’s best surprises. In fact, I’m still astonished by how much this game was able to downright shock me with the directions it took. If you’re planning on going into this game blind, then consider me very envious of you; I’d love to be able to experience this game for the first time again.

That’s not to say that it’s a perfect game, of course. The story does get a tiny bit convoluted near the third act, and trying to level up your Pins can be an absolute nightmare even with a strategy guide. Still, the fact that there is so much packed into this game, along with how fresh it all still feels even eight whole years after its initial release date, makes The World Ends With You an absolute all-timer. The gameplay is unique, the story is brilliantly engaging, the sprites and cutscenes are arguably the most gorgeous works of art to ever grace the DS’s dual screens, and the characters are rich and full of surprises. With E3 right around the corner, I doubt we’ll see any RPG with as much to offer as this little DS treasure.



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Ok so I think I’m finally sort of coming out of the shock that was shooting at one of the most legendary concert venues in the world… The fact that was for NYE made it a million times more special! And the fact that Diplo and Skrillex were playing just makes it one of the most memorable times of my career so far. 

I know it’s a little late in January but Happy New Year to all of you! Wishing you all the best for 2015! Let’s do this! 

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