final fantasy friday, or whatever

look, I didn’t come up with the name; it’s Jim’s channel, he gets to decide what things are called

but yeah, we’re streaming Final Fantasy X, 9 am tomorrow NZ time/8 pm tonight UK time/when the fµ¢£ ever US time, sort your own time zones out, people

Come for the level grinding and creepy blue-haired villain, stay for me rambling unscripted about the Crown Tundra and Jim talking about the energy ethics conference he’s been helping to run all week

Pokémon Trainers of Fire Emblem: Three Houses (Part 5: Ashen Wolves)

(Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4)

oh, right, I was doing this whole thing

uh

Well, there’s only four characters left, so here they are: the Ashen Wolves. They’re the “secret fourth house” that live in the basement and never talk to anyone. There’s apparently an entire hidden town called “Abyss” hidden underneath the school/monastery/fortress where you and all the other characters live, filled with outlaws, refugees, dispossessed nobles and assorted other fugitives who collectively decided that the best place to hide from the law was literally in the Pope’s basement. These four kooky kids can join you no matter which of the other “houses” you’re aligned with, as long as you’ve bought the “Cindered Shadows” DLC and completed an extra chapter of the story focused on them. And here they are:

Yuri Leclerc

  • Commoner adopted by a minor noble family, grew up to become some kind of mob boss
    • Basically runs Abyss in the absence of any more reasonable authority figure
  • Could probably arrange for you to be murdered in your sleep
    • Has definitely thought about it
  • Is too gay to put up with your bull$#!t
  • Kind to children; will shank you if you find out about it
  • Difficult to be friends with, but extremely worth it
  • He is perfect and I love him

Favoured types: Flying, Dark, Normal
Yuri’s mob nickname is “the savage mockingbird,” and if you teach him magic (which you probably will, since his “default” class is a hybrid caster) he mainly learns wind spells.  He was born a commoner and is still devoted to helping ordinary people, hence Normal, but regularly does so through… less than ethical means, hence Dark.

Disfavoured types: Fairy, Ground, Bug
Yuri’s biggest mob rival is a gang that identifies its members with scorpion tattoos.  He’s not good with Fairy-types since he’s so cynical, and doesn’t like the bulky, solid nature of Ground-types.

Partner: Honchkrow
Honchkrow is a bird who is a mob boss, which is basically Yuri’s entire aesthetic; they’re made for each other.

Other Pokémon: Toucannon, Dodrio, Crobat, Raticate (Alolan), Liepard

Yuri likes Flying Pokémon with great speed, manoeuvrability and physical power.  Raticate is another mobster Pokémon to help him run his gang, and Liepard is just very good at shanking people.

Continue reading “Pokémon Trainers of Fire Emblem: Three Houses (Part 5: Ashen Wolves)”

Pokémon Trainers of Fire Emblem: Three Houses (Part 4: Church of Seiros)

(Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3)

Welcome back to this thing I’m apparently doing, where I create Pokémon teams for all the characters of this other game I really enjoyed, which has loads and loads of characters. We’ve covered the titular “Three Houses,” so part 4 (of 5, although 5 will be a pretty short one) is for the characters who are part of the Church of Seiros, the dominant organised religion of Fantasy Europe, which has worked with the nations of the continent to maintain peace and order for a thousand years (to greater or lesser degrees of success). As part of that effort, their headquarters, Garreg Mach monastery, plays host to the fantasy RPG school where all the kids we’ve met so far are studying, theoretically ensuring that the young nobles of the rival countries are all friends with each other and might be less willing to start a massive bloody war. Fingers crossed on that one.

Rhea

  • Archbishop of Garreg Mach monastery, which basically makes her the Fantasy Pope
  • Wise and mysterious mentor figure
  • Kind and nurturing to those in her care, but has a worrying tendency to go extremely “Spanish inquisition” on rebels and heretics
    • Might somehow turn out to be the villain
  • Really likes Byleth for some reason she seems unwilling to explain
    • Strictly speaking this is probably a good thing but it still feels ominous
  • She is perfect and I am terrified of her

Favoured types: Dragon, Fire, Ghost
Most of my reasons for the Pokémon I’ve chosen for Rhea are pretty spoiler-heavy.  Let’s say that dragons and fire both have religious significance in this world, and that reverence for the dead is important for Rhea, and leave it at that.

Disfavoured types: Dark, Bug, Normal
Rhea has a very Knight Templar attitude to anything she perceives as dark, evil or heretical.  Her extremely high station also means she sometimes has trouble connecting with the day-to-day lives of ordinary people.

Partner: Reshiram
She’s the Pope.  She gets to have a holy white dragon as her partner; I think that’s fair (if you’ve played the whole game you will recognise… additional reasons… for this choice).

Other Pokémon: Dragonite, Runerigus, Golurk, Ninetales (Kantonian), Charizard

Runerigus and Golurk both relate to some tricks she’s got up her sleeve for the second half of the game.  In a way, so do Charizard and Dragonite.  Ninetales has mystic powers and a vengeful bent that suits Rhea’s darker side.

Continue reading “Pokémon Trainers of Fire Emblem: Three Houses (Part 4: Church of Seiros)”

Pokémon Trainers of Fire Emblem: Three Houses (Part 3: Golden Deer)

(Part 1 and Part 2)

The third of this game’s titular “three houses” are the Golden Deer, students from the Leicester Alliance, which is a federation of nobles who rejected the monarchical traditions of both of the continent’s other nations and formed a new country in the east. They’re slightly more egalitarian, so this house has more low-born students than the others.

Claude von Riegan

  • Future Grand Duke of the Fantasy Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
    • my real-world analogies in this series are extremely loose but, y’know what, I stand by this one
  • Apparently didn’t even know he was a noble until a couple of years ago because his mother decided, quite early on in her life, “fµ¢£ this $#!t; I’m out”
  • Extremely pretty, master of sass
    • Canonically straight, which is some serious bull$#!t
    • I mean, look at him
  • Slytherin AF; has about a dozen zany schemes going at any given time and brews experimental poisons as a hobby
  • Gets on Edelgard and Dimitri’s nerves a lot, but I think secretly they love him
  • Addresses Byleth as “Teach,” which is not as endearing as he thinks it is
  • He is perfect and I love him

Favoured types: Dark, Poison, Flying
Claude is good at (among other things) trickery, poisons and aerial combat.

Disfavoured types: Fighting, Ground, Fairy
Claude will never fight fair if he can help it, and doesn’t like Pokémon who are either too reliant on brute strength or bound by conventional ideas of nobility.

Partner: Naganadel
Claude’s “default” progression makes him a wyvern rider, which Naganadel plays into quite well; being an “outsider” is an important theme of his story, so having an Ultra Beast as a partner rather than a traditional legendary Pokémon seems fitting; and Claude loves Naganadel’s repertoire of poisons.

Other Pokémon: Zoroark, Muk (Alolan), Vivillon, Salazzle, Aerodactyl

Muk and Salazzle provide raw materials for Claude’s poison experiments (I’d specifically like him to have a shiny Salazzle because he gets an albino wyvern later, and shiny Salazzle is white).  Vivillon fits his ambition to break down barriers between peoples of different regions.  Zoroark is an excellent zany scheme enabler.  Aerodactyl is just a great wyvern-ish Pokémon to have with you in the air.

Continue reading “Pokémon Trainers of Fire Emblem: Three Houses (Part 3: Golden Deer)”

Pokémon Trainers of Fire Emblem: Three Houses (Part 2: Blue Lions)

(Part 1 here)

Welcome back to this ridiculous series where I create Pokémon teams for the ludicrous number of characters in this game I really enjoyed, because that is a thing I do now I guess??

The game’s called “Three Houses” so obviously there need to be three houses, and number two are the Blue Lions, from Faerghus, a kingdom in the northwest part of the continent that broke away from the southern Empire long ago and are now its major rival/frenemy.

Dimitri Alexandre Blaiddyd

  • Future King of Fantasy Prussia
    • Although going by his name he might be half-Greek and half-Welsh
  • Parents and several of his closest friends were killed a few years ago in a terrorist attack by a neighbouring allied country
    • Kinda fµ¢£ed him up a bit
    • As, y’know, any one of us might reasonably be fµ¢£ed up by that
  • Dutiful, loyal, kind, cares a lot about growing up to be a worthy king
    • Believes in protecting the weak from oppression
    • Wants classmates to treat him as an equal rather than a king, which not all of them can realistically do
  • Struggles to balance moral abhorrence toward violence with seething desire for blood-soaked vengeance
  • He is perfect and I love him

Favoured types: Ice, Ghost, Fighting
Vengeance for the dead is an important theme in Dimitri’s story, as is fighting for a cause, which Fighting-types value.  Ice because he’s from a cold part of the world and dislikes hot climates.

Disfavoured types: Fire, Dark, Poison
Dimitri values honour highly and won’t stoop to the methods of Dark and Poison Pokémon.  Fire as an opposite to Ice, and because he acts as a foil to Edelgard.

Partner: Kyurem
My reasons for picking Kyurem as Dimitri’s partner are mostly related to the second half of his story, which I’m not going to explain.  Kyurem is a legendary Pokémon, so appropriate for one of the house leaders.  It represents emptiness and brokenness, and also has kind of a savage reputation.

Other Pokémon: Banette, Froslass, Sandslash (Alolan), Primeape, Hitmonlee

Banette and Froslass because Dimitri has a lot of vengeful ghosts in his life, and it’s unclear how literal that statement is.  In a fight he likes to get up close and skewer enemies with a spear; Alolan Sandslash feels like a particularly good fit with its icy spines, while Hitmonlee and Primeape are both powerful melee fighters who also provide a contrast between discipline and boiling rage.

Continue reading “Pokémon Trainers of Fire Emblem: Three Houses (Part 2: Blue Lions)”

Watch our stream!

So today Jim and I tried out streaming Final Fantasy X and chatting about it, and you can watch the result on-demand here:

I am clearly not good at this but we’re going to keep doing it every week, and maybe develop our, uh… live entertainment skills. So if you find this passingly amusing, stop by next week (8-9:30 pm Friday in the UK, 7-8:30 am Saturday in New Zealand); it’ll probably get better!

I guess this is also the first time anyone who reads this blog will have heard my voice? Except the handful of you who also know me in real life, obviously. I dunno if that’s a huge selling point for you. It’s a weird voice. Jim’s is much more representative of a New Zealand accent, mine is all over the place.

so yeah, that’s this thing

Pokémon Trainers of Fire Emblem: Three Houses (Part 1: Black Eagles)

I’m dramatically late to the party for doing anything related to Fire Emblem: Three Houses, but I’m going to write something anyway because I loved this game and its characters and story.  Because I’m a Pokémon person, I think the best way for me to talk about it is through the medium of creating Pokémon teams for all the characters!

If you haven’t played this game, the setup is that you are a mercenary (your character can be either male or female, and their default name is Byleth) in a continent loosely inspired by late mediaeval/renaissance Europe, divided between three major nations that are historically rivals but share a common language, culture and religion, and have united against external threats in the past.  Shortly after the beginning of the game, you visit a sword-and-sorcery academy, located in neutral ground at the centre of the continent, where nobles of all three nations send their kids to learn how to be JRPG badasses.  The academy is part of a monastery where the Fantasy Pope, Archbishop Rhea, lives.  She decides, unexpectedly and despite your total lack of relevant qualifications, to appoint you to a teaching position; thus the plot begins in earnest.  The students are organised into “houses” according to which nation they come from (so the “Three Houses” of the title are, like, school “houses,” but also noble “houses;” the word “house” is beginning to lose all meaning for me), and this year just happens to be the year the future rulers of all three nations are starting their training, so they get to be class president of each house.  You’re asked to pick a house to be in charge of, and mainly interact with the eight students of that house, but can become friends with others and get them to transfer to your class as well.  You then guide them through the plot, gaining their confidence and affection, teaching them to be fantasy RPG protagonists, fighting bad guys, traumatising them and yourself through exposure to the horrors of war, and so on and so forth.  As a real-life educator this premise scratches a very specific “I am so proud of all of you” itch that I have.  I’ve played through the entire game at the head of all three houses, but in case you haven’t played it and think you might, I’m going to avoid revealing details of the plot or any character development past roughly the first third of the story.

So, without further ado, here’s the first instalment: the students of the Black Eagle House, who come from Adrestia, which is the Fantasy Holy Roman Empire (used to rule the entire continent but has since lost a lot of its power; founded with the blessing of the church but has fallen out with them over time; looks to the past and tradition for its authority and strength).

Edelgard von Hresvelg

  • Future Emperor of the Fantasy Holy Roman Empire
  • Natural leader; charismatic, decisive, supportive
  • Progressive socio-economic agenda
    • I mean, she still plans to rule as an absolute monarch and everything, but they’re a mediaeval empire whose hierarchy appears to have been largely unaltered for about 1000 years; baby steps
  • Has a Dark and Tragic BackstoryTM but channels it into determination to save the world
  • Extremely scary if she gets her hands on a battle-axe; capable of wearing five times her own body weight in plate armour
  • She is perfect and I love her

Favoured types: Fire, Steel, Dark
Fire for spoilery reasons; Steel because she wears about a ton of it; Dark because she can use dark magic and isn’t afraid to achieve her goals by… questionable means.

Disfavoured types: Dragon, Water, Ice
Dragon for spoilery reasons; Water because she can’t swim and is afraid of the ocean; Ice as an opposite element to Fire.

Partner: Heatran
As one of the house leaders, Edelgard deserves a legendary Pokémon as her partner, and Heatran’s Fire/Steel typing, heavy armour plating and willingness to either rule the world, or watch it burn, make it a perfect fit.

Other Pokémon: Emboar, Umbreon, Corviknight, Coalossal, Drapion

Edelgard favours bulky Pokémon with powerful physical defences that aren’t afraid to wade into the middle of a brutal melee.  Emboar, Coalossal and Drapion share her imposing physical presence and ability to dominate in close combat.  Corviknight gives her a “black eagle,” the insignia of her house and the empire she is heir to.  Umbreon is just as tough as her other Pokémon, but fits in better at court.

Continue reading “Pokémon Trainers of Fire Emblem: Three Houses (Part 1: Black Eagles)”

Quarantine Playtime

Soooooo, a week into pandemic lockdown, my laptop broke down, and getting it fixed is taking a bit longer than it otherwise might, so I haven’t been able to work properly for the last few days (notwithstanding the Q-and-A posts I had already written and queued). Courtesy of this disruption to my normal workflow, you’re getting a short (and for once I actually mean that, I’m drafting this entirely on my phone) review/discussion of a Nintendo Switch game I bought to amuse myself while my laptop is out of commission: Octopath Traveler.

Continue reading “Quarantine Playtime”

A Paean to an Obsolete and Underloved Game

I wish to ramble, at length and for no reason in particular, about something of absolutely no importance.

More specifically, I wish to ramble about an interesting but obscure and not particularly successful 1997 real-time strategy game that is wildly unbalanced, has clunky and unintuitive controls, is frankly kinda glitchy, and was created by a studio that went under more than 15 years ago.

You have been duly warned. Continue reading “A Paean to an Obsolete and Underloved Game”