Every Friday, audiovisual club staff members kick off our weekly open thread for discussion of game plans and recent gaming glories. But of course, the real action is down in the comments, where we invite you to answer our eternal question: What are you playing this weekend?
We all like a little trash once in a while, right?
After all, there’s a whole industry (several industries, really) built around the culture of “trash” culture – ironic reverences of real housewivescelebrations of the gloriously wasted ambitions of a datem-awful B-movie. It’s junk food, sure, but to deny the inherent artistry of junk food is to deny the sublime perfection of, say, the pizza-flavored Pringle, a “potato snack.” land” (never crisps) designed to taste almost entirely different from a different junk food that you could just eat instead. Glorious.
The trash game is a more difficult concept to understand. For one, the base bar for proficiency is much higher: screwing up a movie shoot can often just add to the allure of dumpster diving, but a game that feels awful in the hands is hard to appreciate, no matter how high -the stupidity of the top it has going for it. Which means really making a waste video game takes money.
Signal Stranger from Heaven: Origins of Final Fantasy!
Now, to be fair: I only played the (undeniably beefy) demo of Square’s attempt to pull a new action-RPG from the very first. Final Fantasy. That is, I’ve only played enough to hear protagonist Jack scream about how he wants to “KILL CHAOS” about two a dozen times, between some of the worst cross-party banter I’ve ever heard, and the moment when Jack yells “That sucks!” every time he dies.
stranger from paradisein other words, has all the hallmarks of a glorious trash game: it plays surprisingly well, with a combat system that falls between the fluidity of Final Fantasy VII Remake, and unique to developer Team Ninja nioh Games. It features a plot that was rudimentary in 1987, lightly sprinkled with the melodramatic sci-fi nonsense that has been Square-Enix’s stock for years. It even has a solid implementation of the franchise’s beloved working systemmaking it more addictive than ever to mix and match abilities to create a workable build.
Credit, then, to Squenix and Team Ninja for do not slap a generic fantasy protagonist into this thing. Instead, we get Jack, one of the dumbest characters I’ve ever had the joy of controlling in a video game. Crew cut, snarled and dressed in only the most fashionable Tight Fashion t-shirts, Jack has a tough for killing Chaos like you wouldn’t believe. (Who or what is Chaos? No one knows! But Jack wants to rip his jugular off.) Other characters will say normal action movie bullshit, then the camera will switch back to weird, bubbling, injected eyes of Jack’s blood. Has anyone mentioned Chaos? Shit, this guy hates Chaos!
The (inadvertent?) genius of this character choice is how it takes something plain and simple and turns it into 2022’s first big comedy game. (Other than the inherent Square-Enix joke that out his last Game, The fall of Babylonstraight into Ring of Eldenwaiting hangover.) That’s enough to make me really curious to pick up stranger from paradisea game I had previously dismissed, largely because it had a title that sounds like a Jimmy Buffet greatest hits compilation.
But I have to admit genuine curiosity now, both for how the game might manage to build on the systems exposed in the demo, and how many extra neck veins the animator has.s can work in Jack’s muscular frame. There’s something really refreshing about taking a very basic fantasy setting and then sending this big stupid jerk through it like The Doom Guy with a sword. It’s the good-bad kind of gaming trash.