Final Fantasy XII and the glory of the grind

This article is part of PS2 Week, a full week celebrating the 2000 PlayStation 2 console. To see other articles, go here.  /// The first time I played Final Fantasy XII (2006), I didn’t get it. I liked it, I think—there was something unusually elegant about the game’s stern, philosophical conversations about honor, and the long loping lines of its battle system—but I got halfway through, hit a boss battle of five little goblins that wrecked my shit with a panoply of status effects, and called it a day. I believe winter break was ending, anyway. I mused over my failure…

Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter

Failure and rebirth in Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter

Star Trek’s cavalcade of hit-or-miss conceits includes a fair share of philosophical thought experiments, and chief among them is the “Kobayashi Maru.” This name refers to a wargame for Star Fleet military cadets used to evaluate how officers-in-training would react in an impossible-to-win scenario. The crew being examined receives a distress call from a fellow ship called the Kobayashi Maru, a wounded bird floating defenseless in the void, and upon reaching it two Klingon vessels emerge and attack. The captain must decide whether to leave the Kobayashi Maru to certain destruction or engage the firing ships, though the cadets are…


The bizarre, Burton-esque JRPG that almost got away returns on PS4

Okage: Shadow King (2001) was always the game that barely slipped away. The game Hot Topic would have capitalized on, had it discovered it in time. The game I (now regretfully) sold as a teen for store credit to put towards buying a PlayStation 3. Yet now, despite the odds, Okage is back. When it was announced a few days ago that Okage was coming to PlayStation 4 through the platform’s PS2-to-PS4 emulation, my brain tickled with fond but long-forgotten memories of the cult classic that never entirely faded away. Okage: Shadow King is a strange title among its genre’s…


The brilliant cruelty of Bravely Default’s nonlinear narrative

If I started this article at the end it probably wouldn’t make much sense. There’s a reason most writers put words and events in chronological order to tell a story. Some stories, however, are best told out of order. Charlie Kaufman’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) works this way as it uses the chaotic scrambling of the nonlinear narrative to explore the limits of human memory. So too does a recent episode of Doctor Who, “Heaven Sent” (2015), which uses a repeated narrative to highlight the stubbornness and fortitude of the Doctor’s character. For videogames, taking these same…


The Dualism and Morality of “Golden Sun”

My father always says there are two sides to every story. There’s one party’s side, the opposing party’s side, and then the truth tends to fall somewhere in the middle. Most videogames, however, exist in a vacuum of storytelling, where the player takes control of a set of heroes out to destroy a set of bad guys. Through this, they mostly attempt to capture and tell only one side of a story. Mario is good, and Bowser is bad. Sora wants to save the world, the Heartless want to destroy it. Link is the Hero of Time, Ganon the bringer…

Secret of Mana

Here, have a free mixtape of JRPG music on us

You know what we like? Yes, videogames, but apart from those. No? Music, silly. Yes, we like music, and we especially like game music. You probably do too. Why does this matter right now? Well, we have a little gift for you. If you didn’t back our Kickstarter to reinvent our print magazine then you wouldn’t have received the special mixtape that we gave out on December 4th. It’s called “Run 2 The End of the World, Vol 1” and it was put together by freelance film and TV composer Julian Wass for us. The whole mixtape is a love letter…

Xenoblade Chronicles X

The pointless scale of Xenoblade Chronicles X

For more about Kill Screen’s ratings system and review policy, click here. A few months ago, The New York Times and several other outlets ran a story about an unlikely extinction happening in Japan: the Aibo, a robotic dog manufactured by Sony, was slowly but surely dying out. The company stopped repairing them in March 2014 due to a scarcity of spare parts, leaving Aibo owners unable to do much to resuscitate their moribund companions when technical failure eventually occurs—as it inevitably will. As a result, some owners are already holding Aibo funerals, mourning the loss of an object that…


Blow your haters a big fat smooch in Kissing Foes

In the age of social media toxicity, people need a plan of action for dealing with hater McFrowny Faces now more than ever. There seems to be two divergent paths in the quest to conquer a hater: either go into battle mode and attempt to defeat your foe, or kill ’em with kindness. One of the most disarming things you could possibly say to someone trying to eviscerate you emotionally is, “Wanna make out?” Offering a sign of love to your attacker—right as they’re leaning in to rip out your throat—works almost the same as a slap: a sudden and…