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Why 358/2 Days is a Poor Narrative Experience.



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Goldpanner

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Because I like to play a video game. If you want, read a bonking book.

In my opinion, not even the genre change saves this plot. Have you read all the way through the Days novel series? The pacing is crap there, too, and it's even more obvious because they replace boring missions with boring inner monologues that don't further anything but the angsty stagnant atmosphere. Seriously, you could make a drinking game out of it.
It was a good example because it developed Xion through the mission itself when you wanted her to retrieve her keyblade abilities back.

It developed the relationship between Roxas and Xion, but I don't think it really developed Xion as a character. She started out going
"oh no if I don't get my keyblade back I will be a burden to everyone so I shall hide it and soldier on alone and mope"
and at the end of it she learned
"if I tell my friends they will help me!"

but then when she couldn't beat Riku
"oh no if I don't beat Riku I will be a burden to everyone so I shall hide it and soldier on alone and mope"

and when she found out she was draining memories from Roxas
"oh no if I don't stop draining from Roxas I will be a burden to everyone so I shall hide it and soldier on alone and mope"

and when she found out she had to go back to Sora
"oh no if I don't go back to Sora I will be a burden to everyone so I shall hide it and soldier on alone and mope"

and then she finally asked her friend Roxas for help, when she was dying... and then asked Riku to stop Roxas doing what she asked anyway.

...So really, she learned nothing and didn't develop at all because of that first Keyblade-fail thing.
 
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inverse K-blade7

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Here is my explanation in a very groggy tone at nearly 3am.
So, it's a pacing problem. Not a gameplay one



However, as the games progress into a different structure, which makes up the most of the games, the cutscenes doesn't keep up with the structure. It starts to pour in too much information and development, with character having the most jarring of development. It directly conflicts with the earlier segment of the games where character development, the pacing and the gameplay all went hand-in-hand with each other. The pacing got worse, the missions hardly bothered to fit with the theme (and a lot of it being filler) and Xion felt disconnected from the game, only shown in cutscenes towards a very bland, boring and over-long arc where no development is made. When Xion becomes the only thing you have to look forward to, it can become a damper.
You wanted to see Xion more outside of cutscenes? If you would use one of these worse arcs of the game as a specific example, it'd be a lot easier to get your point across. You've already admitted you dont hate every arc, despite claiming earlier that the post mission ice cream scenes are the ONLY worthwhile cutscenes in the game

Because I like to play a video game. If you want, read a fucking book.
Right, right, my mistake. I forgot that disliking a game means you automatically dislike all its characters as well


...Wow. You actually defended a extremely bad game element with a bad reasoning. Kudos.
I'm not justifying the pointless missions, or even saying they were deliberate. But in a way, it is an example of the gameplay adding something to the story.
 

flurryflames

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Days does have its good points and bad points, but what game is perfect? None of them are. Everyone is going to disagree about something, but it is only a matter of opinion. I think Days should of been on PS2 or PS3 that way they could improve the gameplay camera without the use of the hand held buttons. They should of not changed or cut the scenes that weren't favoring Xion. She should of gotten killed by an organization member like she was supposed to, Roxas leaves and then game over. and this game would of been better. The challenging symbols are very difficult for me, and I don't get how anyone could get everyone of them. Leveling up takes a lot of time up as well. The cut scenes I actually like some of them. There is also some angst between Roxas and Axel with Xion as well. Adding Sora into the mix of this became more complicated and they should of stuck with Roxas instead.

At least it does show the other organization members and you can play as them and if find the secret reports you can read of what they say in the diary. You also get to go on missions with them, but they should of gave us more missions and different ones. Also you can use the joke weapons if you wanted to do so.
 

Marly

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I pretty much agree with everything you said Chrono. Except that I think it's silly to praise the character development. You can't garner any emotion for Xion because--even though the development is there--the story is so poor that it's completely moot. Character development and story are too intrinsically connected to have such an offset balance of the two. This is especially true for a game that's trying to pass off as deep and relevant to a series that has such a complex storyline.

I'm not justifying the pointless missions, or even saying they were deliberate. But in a way, it is an example of the gameplay adding something to the story.

You don't add poor gameplay to try and get a point across in the story aspect of the game, that's stupid.
 
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billyzanesucks

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I can agree with everything that has been said here. The first time I played Days, I got really frustrated with some parts of the story and bored with the gameplay. Somehow, I really enjoyed the game the second time. I don't know why; maybe I just stopped looking at it as a regular Kingdom Hearts game.
 

Memory Master

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The story was so drawn out. I don't hate Xion but this was supposed to be a Roxas game about Roxas' story, but instead it focused so much on Xion. Then we have the worlds. Most of the Disney worlds were from kh1, I wouldn't have mind if they used kh2 worlds since in many kh2 worlds they hinted a stuff that could have only taken place during days' timeline. For example: Hercules and meg should have met her in days. How about jack meeting Santa the first time in days. Not the boring ass plots they used. Days was such a missed opportunity.
 

Megavoltage

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The story was so drawn out. I don't hate Xion but this was supposed to be a Roxas game about Roxas' story, but instead it focused so much on Xion. Then we have the worlds. Most of the Disney worlds were from kh1, I wouldn't have mind if they used kh2 worlds since in many kh2 worlds they hinted a stuff that could have only taken place during days' timeline. For example: Hercules and meg should have met her in days. How about jack meeting Santa the first time in days. Not the boring ass plots they used. Days was such a missed opportunity.
And it was the perfect time for Gaston to show up! Roxas going to Beast's Castle was the perfect chance for Gaston to have an appearance, Roxas could of defeated him and that would of explained why Gaston wasn't causing trouble when Sora arrived. But they ignored Gaston TWICE! :(
 

Memory Master

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And it was the perfect time for Gaston to show up! Roxas going to Beast's Castle was the perfect chance for Gaston to have an appearance, Roxas could of defeated him and that would of explained why Gaston wasn't causing trouble when Sora arrived. But they ignored Gaston TWICE! :(

I know! I mean come on there was plenty of plot they could have used. Halloween Town could have included Christmas Town and had Jack first meet Santa as was hinted in KH2:

Santa to Jack: "What trouble have you brought with you this time?"

Sora: "This time?"

Jack: "It's a long story"

Really now? I sure would have loved to see this "long story" in 358/2 Days.

Or in Olympus Coliseum they should have shown Hercules meeting Meg for the first time and explain how they became a couple by the time of KH2.

In Agrabah they could have explained how Iago escaped from the Lamp. Perhaps Axel, Roxas, and Xion's friendship could have inspired Iago to later apologize to Aladdin in KH2.

And like you said, they could have used Gaston in Beast's Castle in 358/2 Days. Gaston could have been working with Xaldin. Xaldin wants to get Beast's heartless and nobody, Gaston wants Beast out of the way so he can get Belle. They both could have worked together to achieve their goals.

And then in BBSV2 they could have Aqua visit Beast's Castle in the Realm of Darkness where she meets the giant pipe organ Forte who is trying to keep the castle in the dark realm so Beast and Belle can never return to their world and break the spell, thus allowing Forte to stay as a pipe organ and theoretically remain immortal (Which was his goal in the movie)

If they would have done that then they would have covered Beast's Castle completely.

And heck throw in Land of Dragons instead of Wonderland again, and Port Royal instead of Never Land. (Port Royal's plot could have involved Barbossa and the aztec treasure perhaps. Land of Dragon's plot could have involved the Emperor and Shang building up the Chinese army in preparation for the Hun attack or something.) Having KH2 worlds in place of 2 overused KH1 worlds would have been much better.

And finally in a game about the organization, how could they have left out the birth place of the organization, Hollow Bastion? They didn't have to include the town if they didn't want too, they could have just expanded the castle from KH2 and have Roxas and other members in missions watching the town from high above.

All in all, there was alot of missed oppurtunity with 358/2 Days, which made me really dissapointed with this game.
 

Raz

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I'm indifferent towards it. I don't outright hate it as there's enough there to make it somewhat entertaining. Compared to other entries in the series? Meh.

CoM/coded/Days all sort of fit into that category where we're forced to endure the same Disney plots from KH1 only slightly altered to fit the theme of the game. It was sort of lazy. They could have added depth to the series, but they took the easy way out by making all of the events inconsequential.
 

Cloud11

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You know, if Xion continued to exist Roxas would disappear, even if "she" didn't absorb him. This explains the "power struggles" between the two, etc.
 

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358/2 Days should have been on a better handheld/console. That's all.
Uh, no. Nearly all of the game's flaws are irrelevant to the hardware. RE:Coded was on the same system, same developers yet WAY better gameplay.

And like you said, they could have used Gaston in Beast's Castle in 358/2 Days. Gaston could have been working with Xaldin. Xaldin wants to get Beast's heartless and nobody, Gaston wants Beast out of the way so he can get Belle. They both could have worked together to achieve their goals.
I think it'd be better if Xaldin was manipulating Gaston. Why does Beast listens to Xaldin in KH2? Xaldin had to have done to earn Beast's trust, like save his life. So Xaldin deliberately set up a situation where Beast would be in danger, using Gaston as a disposable pawn.

We get a Disney boss & let an original villain show how much of an asshole he is. It'd been win-win!
 
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alexis.anagram

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So yes, you heard me. 358/2 Days, which some members laud it to be a great example of character development in a Kingdom Hearts game, is badly executed and badly placed in the construction of the game. It's not the story's fault or the character's fault. Because when you read it in detail when not playing a game, it does have the potential to be unique and furthers the mystery.
Cool.

The fact that it has a novelist writer on board (Tomoko Kanemaki ) should mean a well-written and effective story. So why didn't it work?
False premise, but I'll bite. Why?

Aside from a poor introduction with fifteen or so days of mediocre plot development, it become increasingly more apparent that the structure of the game did not suit the story. The mission-based structure has damaged the narrative greatly, with plot development having to be plotted after a certain amount of days. You can go for missions without any plot development. That I don't find too much of a problem.
So, it's not a problem with the story, the characters, or the mission system. Just checking.

What I find the problem is that it DROWNS you in it once we hit the plot development.
Please qualify this statement for everyone. How does it do this? When does it do this?

It feels like it's trying to cram so much information and development, that it can be overwhelming to the player.
Again, needs to be qualified.

When you haven't paced your game, to ponder and care about the characters, then it's so jarring when the cutscenes call us to care about them.
Whoa, whoa, whoa. You still haven't convinced me that the pacing of the game is damaged in any real way. And aren't cutscenes supposed to be where most character development and forward story motion takes place?

Fact check time:
Kingdom Hearts gameplay in nutshell: run through worlds, fight Heartless and level up, important things happen via cutscenes.
Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories: run through castle, fight Organization members and level up, important things happen via cutscenes.
Kingdom Hearts 2: run through worlds, fight Nobodies and level up, important things happen via cutscenes.

I believe the precedent has already been set. Gameplay is reserved primarily for gameplay. Cutscenes contain the bulk of the storyline. Most video games work this way.

For example, Xion. She stepped on the wrong foot with me (and by that, made it bleed) because she really rubbed me the wrong way. It's the typical reason why many people didn't like her. She's a mary-sue. She's the female companion that Roxas needs to care about. You get the gist.
I don't get the gist. She's a mary-sue because a lot of people agree she is? She's the female companion Roxas needs to care about and that isn't important? She has no other role in the story other than to stand around as Roxas's trophy girlfriend? The gist has been consummately lost on me.

But I kinda DID care about her once I went on missions with her. It's the missions and companion I got from her that made me cared about her. Not most of the cutscenes where the spotlight has to be on her. The missions. Heck, when I saw her in one of the missions running away, it actually GOT me to chase her.
Contradiction in point. The game developed her when she was on missions with you in-game and made you care about her, but somehow all of her development was resigned to cutscenes. What do you mean, "the spotlight has to be on her?" Did none of the cutscenes in the game ever focus on another character? Were Roxas and Axel not also present in nearly all of the cutscenes in the game?

But once you wrestle her away, keep her hidden and expect us to garner sympathy for her because the narrative demands it (after so many useless missions of 'destroy dark blob' and 'defeat x heartless'), then you effectively destroyed the development that I liked about her.
What are you referencing? The point in the game where she leaves with Riku? If I recall correctly, there are a number of cutscenes which take place in that time period which she is, obviously, not a part of. This would seem to contradict your statement that she "has to be in the spotlight" during cutscenes. Also, what sympathy were you intended to garner for her? When did the game explicitly tell you to sympathize with her? Is there no other interpretation of the game that should possibly be taken into account? Perhaps Xion is a more tragic character than a sympathetic one. Perhaps her role in the story is as a motivational force for Roxas and a footnote to his experiences and the story he has to tell. Perhaps.

There are others, much better ways to garner sympathy for her, but instead they boiled it down to a narrative structure which is in direct conflict with the game's structure.
Again, presuming a sympathetic character where there is little evidence to point to this. Still need to qualify your perspective on narrative structure vs game structure.

And this is because you aren't working towards an overall goal. Instead, you're doing missions to further the story.
I don't see how the missions in Days do not contribute to an overarching storyline; does Roxas not interact with characters and gain experiences with each mission? Do these experiences, no matter how seemingly immaterial, not actually contribute to the build of his character on the whole, his critical perspective on life, people and the nature of existence? In our lives, does every day that goes by in which we do not accomplish something of epic proportions such as saving the world or finding a long-lost friend have no meaning? Furthermore, the fact that many of the missions in Days specifically cater to a gameplay scenario and are not necessary to the story is entirely in line with the series' precedent, as I've already indicated.

Why did Birth by Sleep's story worked? Simple, because the game's structure suited the storyline. The game allows us to progress, to visit other worlds and the cutscenes shows us of that progress, because of the progress we made by travelling to other worlds.
How is that any different from what occurs within the Mission formula of Days?

When we get down to it, yes the story is rather weak and the character development could've been better. But the game's structure allowed the story to be enjoyable.
The story was weak, how? The character development could've been better, how? What do either of those factors have to do with Days? How do they differ? How are they the same?

358/2 Days tried to follow a standard narrative that Kingdom Hearts always entailed... and failed because the structure of the game is not suited.
This is becoming repetitious. To begin with, you have not exposed what makes the game structure unsuited to the narrative structure.

Harper all you want about character development and character study, but when those little instances where I got more development from being partnered with Xion than the cutscenes that tried to make me feel sorry for her (which is the game's default of development), then you have an effectively broken narrative.
Harper all you want about narrative development and gameplay study, but when you refuse to identify what those factors are and how they relate to your perspective on the game, then you have an effectively broken argument.

Also, Novels aren't Games. This is quite a popular opinion that got mention in my Games Culture Lesson at my University. Why was Gears of War 3 panned for its storyline when it has a Novelist Writer on board? Simple, Novels aren't Games.
Are you stating the obvious in order to make a point or are you just stating the obvious for the sake of it?

Novels are extremely heavily in expressing detail, character development, story development and many other things.
No. Novels are books of narrative prose. They can be written in any number of styles and subscribe to any level of indulgence of the superficial, the transcendental, the incidental, the introspective, etc. etc. Read Anais Nin. Then read J.R.R. Tolkein. Then get back to me on what novels are.

When Novels take their time to explain that, Games just show it.
No. Visual novels are games. Visual novels take the time to explain it and show it. You are arguing black and white between totally different mediums, and then you are ignoring the many commonalities they share and how they actually can function cooperatively.

Silent Hill 2 has a heavy story, but it didn't bother you with every cutscene. Instead, it shown in the gameplay's structure. Now I'm not expecting Kingdom Hearts to be that, because after all it has done well with its current narrative structure as it is. But it would've gone a long way to help with 358/2 Days because of the Game's vastly-different structure.
What's your point? What could Days have taken from Silent Hill 2 in order to present its story in a stronger fashion? If you aren't expecting Kingdom Hearts to do that, why mention it?

tl;dr: 358/2 Days did poor because the structure of the game did not suit the narrative.
tl;dr Your argument is based upon a false premise, riddled with assumptive language and totally lacking in basic citations for your principle stances.

Allow me to present a counter-perspective (this is not a comprehensive evaluation of Days, only a direct appeal to a number of thoughts regarding it).

Days was effective as a game because it offered an in-depth perspective on Roxas's time in the Organization by formulating a character-oriented story. It was Roxas's game, not Xion's; it was self-contained in nature, not chronological; it was character driven. Days examined the fundamental psyche of its characters in a far more effective manner than any other game in the series; beginning with the birth of Roxas and culminating in the obliteration of Xion, elucidated by Roxas's rebirth without any memories of his time, it ran a full spectrum of the life experience which was its thematic basis: as the days go on and the sun sets and rises, so life begins and ends and begins anew.

On Xion As a Mary-Sue:
Xion is a character of understated and often miscomprehended significance. As an imperfect clone of Roxas within the story, Xion was an element of Roxas's experiences; she was influential, but she was not central. She has no identity, and therefore she has no personality: to relate to her as Mary-Sue is missing the point. All of the elements of her character are composed of pre-existing qualities she comes into contact with: she has Sora's kindness and selflessness, Roxas's weariness and confused sense of caring, Kairi's humanity and devotion to friends, Riku's fierce sense of self-loathing and Axel's ambiguous notion of allegiance. She is none of these things and all of them, a piece of every heart she touches-- she is an imperfect character and a perfect archetype. However, people mistake her role in that capacity; she is not the story's mystery, but its exposition. She is the fundamental study of all of the characters that takes place throughout their journey in Days. Are you meant to sympathize with Xion? Only in so much as you are meant to sympathize with Axel or Roxas: then, by extent, her. Her death is an innate tragedy and a necessary sacrifice. You understand it, but whether or not you identify with it emotionally correlates with your emotional identification with the game on the whole. Literally, she embodies the characters of Days and, thus, the story. But she is not its protagonist or its focus; Roxas is.

On Roxas as the Protagonist:
You play as Roxas. You fight as Roxas. Every major event in the story produces conflict and motive for Roxas as a character. Days is Roxas's story, and he is the one telling it. All of the characters are significant by way of their relation to him. So what is Xion to Roxas? I believe we are meant to discern that Xion is a blank slate, a starting point and a seed. Xion encapsulates non-judgment: for much of the game, she does not speak and she never commands him. She doesn't infiltrate his space in the way Axel does; she resides there, safely. At the same time, Xion, being a part of him, is familiar. In many ways, she is home, and she is validation of Roxas's existence. He interacts with her not out of an overwhelming interest in who she is, but in who he is. This is not say he doesn't care about her as a person, however, it is through her that his identity becomes clear. As the game goes on, Xion's relation to Roxas begins to shift; she begins to absorb him; to invalidate his existence; to own him; to replace him. At the same time, her continuity within the story is reversed; her role as an aspect of everyone around her is contradicted as she begins to reshape everything around her. Roxas rebels and ultimately succeeds in reclaiming his identity, and as Xion fades from existence she gives rebirth (a concept that is becoming increasingly prevalent within the series) to the elements she took into herself, including Roxas. The characters forget her because she never existed to begin with. Although Xemnas did not consider her a Nobody properly, in actuality, Xion is the most pure Nobody the game has introduced. She has no origin, no grounding, no individuality-- she does not exist except for others, and Roxas, in particular. Because of this, Roxas is only whole once she returns his wholeness to him.

On the Subjectivity of Story and Character Development:
I believe the story was portrayed very well in Days. The Mission system provides a subtle coaxing of characters rather than a roaring establishment as in other titles. Characters offer vignettes and instances of enlightenment rather than hefty monologues and endless philosophizing. Xion is utilized to great effect as an unwitting antagonist and thematic foundation; Axel is played perfectly as a torn friend struggling to juggle loyalties; Roxas is a lonely and overly conscious child-figure who is being manipulated from all sides. Xemnas's evil is most apparent in this title as he callously cheats every character to his own ends and the truly heartless nature of the Nobodies becomes more apparent than ever not in how cruel they are, but in how they don't fully comprehend that themselves.

Some consider the pacing jarring and uneven, yet I consider it efficient and abstract. The profundity of the moments and conversations and confrontations Axel, Roxas and Xion share is unmatched by any other game so far. When Axel fights Xion to bring her back from Twilight Town, you can see that he is marred by both the desire to restore her as a friend of Roxas's and the necessity of using her to meet his personal goals and the greater good; when Roxas realizes how he has been completely betrayed by everyone (and how this informs his character in KH2, even if he doesn't know it), and how he is ultimately tasked with betraying Xion in every way, even memory, you can't help but feel for him; and when Xion ultimately realizes what her purpose is and what that means for her, she does what we would expect her to do-- as she is told, with all of the feeling and determination she had learned to master in her association with the world around her. We can expect that any possible future appearances from Xion will allow her the same freedom to be what she must be for the people that need her and, perhaps, to finally cultivate her own identity somewhere within that.

Whether you agree with these assessments are not is going to depend on how literally you observe the series and this installment especially. I've chosen to observe it not as a play-by-play, scene-by-scene construction of an obvious narrative, but a deeper and looser conceptual design of characters and themes. It's why I think the game is so fantastic and why it still holds as one of my absolute favorites next to Chain of Memories, which is similarly composed. In the end, Kingdom Hearts to me is about people; it is about their folly as they strive for wisdom and power, their willingness to give to others and share with others, how they contrive means of hurting others, how they establish healthy connections with others. 358/2 Days uses all of these elements to construct a powerful cast and storyline which emphasizes the nature of the Heart as an instrument of expression of our most human faults and accomplishments.
 

Relix

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^Damn well best defense for Days I have ever read
 

sasuke 189

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Cool.


False premise, but I'll bite. Why?


So, it's not a problem with the story, the characters, or the mission system. Just checking.


Please qualify this statement for everyone. How does it do this? When does it do this?


Again, needs to be qualified.


Whoa, whoa, whoa. You still haven't convinced me that the pacing of the game is damaged in any real way. And aren't cutscenes supposed to be where most character development and forward story motion takes place?

Fact check time:
Kingdom Hearts gameplay in nutshell: run through worlds, fight Heartless and level up, important things happen via cutscenes.
Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories: run through castle, fight Organization members and level up, important things happen via cutscenes.
Kingdom Hearts 2: run through worlds, fight Nobodies and level up, important things happen via cutscenes.

I believe the precedent has already been set. Gameplay is reserved primarily for gameplay. Cutscenes contain the bulk of the storyline. Most video games work this way.


I don't get the gist. She's a mary-sue because a lot of people agree she is? She's the female companion Roxas needs to care about and that isn't important? She has no other role in the story other than to stand around as Roxas's trophy girlfriend? The gist has been consummately lost on me.


Contradiction in point. The game developed her when she was on missions with you in-game and made you care about her, but somehow all of her development was resigned to cutscenes. What do you mean, "the spotlight has to be on her?" Did none of the cutscenes in the game ever focus on another character? Were Roxas and Axel not also present in nearly all of the cutscenes in the game?


What are you referencing? The point in the game where she leaves with Riku? If I recall correctly, there are a number of cutscenes which take place in that time period which she is, obviously, not a part of. This would seem to contradict your statement that she "has to be in the spotlight" during cutscenes. Also, what sympathy were you intended to garner for her? When did the game explicitly tell you to sympathize with her? Is there no other interpretation of the game that should possibly be taken into account? Perhaps Xion is a more tragic character than a sympathetic one. Perhaps her role in the story is as a motivational force for Roxas and a footnote to his experiences and the story he has to tell. Perhaps.


Again, presuming a sympathetic character where there is little evidence to point to this. Still need to qualify your perspective on narrative structure vs game structure.


I don't see how the missions in Days do not contribute to an overarching storyline; does Roxas not interact with characters and gain experiences with each mission? Do these experiences, no matter how seemingly immaterial, not actually contribute to the build of his character on the whole, his critical perspective on life, people and the nature of existence? In our lives, does every day that goes by in which we do not accomplish something of epic proportions such as saving the world or finding a long-lost friend have no meaning? Furthermore, the fact that many of the missions in Days specifically cater to a gameplay scenario and are not necessary to the story is entirely in line with the series' precedent, as I've already indicated.


How is that any different from what occurs within the Mission formula of Days?


The story was weak, how? The character development could've been better, how? What do either of those factors have to do with Days? How do they differ? How are they the same?


This is becoming repetitious. To begin with, you have not exposed what makes the game structure unsuited to the narrative structure.


Harper all you want about narrative development and gameplay study, but when you refuse to identify what those factors are and how they relate to your perspective on the game, then you have an effectively broken argument.


Are you stating the obvious in order to make a point or are you just stating the obvious for the sake of it?


No. Novels are books of narrative prose. They can be written in any number of styles and subscribe to any level of indulgence of the superficial, the transcendental, the incidental, the introspective, etc. etc. Read Anais Nin. Then read J.R.R. Tolkein. Then get back to me on what novels are.


No. Visual novels are games. Visual novels take the time to explain it and show it. You are arguing black and white between totally different mediums, and then you are ignoring the many commonalities they share and how they actually can function cooperatively.


What's your point? What could Days have taken from Silent Hill 2 in order to present its story in a stronger fashion? If you aren't expecting Kingdom Hearts to do that, why mention it?


tl;dr Your argument is based upon a false premise, riddled with assumptive language and totally lacking in basic citations for your principle stances.

Allow me to present a counter-perspective (this is not a comprehensive evaluation of Days, only a direct appeal to a number of thoughts regarding it).

Days was effective as a game because it offered an in-depth perspective on Roxas's time in the Organization by formulating a character-oriented story. It was Roxas's game, not Xion's; it was self-contained in nature, not chronological; it was character driven. Days examined the fundamental psyche of its characters in a far more effective manner than any other game in the series; beginning with the birth of Roxas and culminating in the obliteration of Xion, elucidated by Roxas's rebirth without any memories of his time, it ran a full spectrum of the life experience which was its thematic basis: as the days go on and the sun sets and rises, so life begins and ends and begins anew.

On Xion As a Mary-Sue:
Xion is a character of understated and often miscomprehended significance. As an imperfect clone of Roxas within the story, Xion was an element of Roxas's experiences; she was influential, but she was not central. She has no identity, and therefore she has no personality: to relate to her as Mary-Sue is missing the point. All of the elements of her character are composed of pre-existing qualities she comes into contact with: she has Sora's kindness and selflessness, Roxas's weariness and confused sense of caring, Kairi's humanity and devotion to friends, Riku's fierce sense of self-loathing and Axel's ambiguous notion of allegiance. She is none of these things and all of them, a piece of every heart she touches-- she is an imperfect character and a perfect archetype. However, people mistake her role in that capacity; she is not the story's mystery, but its exposition. She is the fundamental study of all of the characters that takes place throughout their journey in Days. Are you meant to sympathize with Xion? Only in so much as you are meant to sympathize with Axel or Roxas: then, by extent, her. Her death is an innate tragedy and a necessary sacrifice. You understand it, but whether or not you identify with it emotionally correlates with your emotional identification with the game on the whole. Literally, she embodies the characters of Days and, thus, the story. But she is not its protagonist or its focus; Roxas is.

On Roxas as the Protagonist:
You play as Roxas. You fight as Roxas. Every major event in the story produces conflict and motive for Roxas as a character. Days is Roxas's story, and he is the one telling it. All of the characters are significant by way of their relation to him. So what is Xion to Roxas? I believe we are meant to discern that Xion is a blank slate, a starting point and a seed. Xion encapsulates non-judgment: for much of the game, she does not speak and she never commands him. She doesn't infiltrate his space in the way Axel does; she resides there, safely. At the same time, Xion, being a part of him, is familiar. In many ways, she is home, and she is validation of Roxas's existence. He interacts with her not out of an overwhelming interest in who she is, but in who he is. This is not say he doesn't care about her as a person, however, it is through her that his identity becomes clear. As the game goes on, Xion's relation to Roxas begins to shift; she begins to absorb him; to invalidate his existence; to own him; to replace him. At the same time, her continuity within the story is reversed; her role as an aspect of everyone around her is contradicted as she begins to reshape everything around her. Roxas rebels and ultimately succeeds in reclaiming his identity, and as Xion fades from existence she gives rebirth (a concept that is becoming increasingly prevalent within the series) to the elements she took into herself, including Roxas. The characters forget her because she never existed to begin with. Although Xemnas did not consider her a Nobody properly, in actuality, Xion is the most pure Nobody the game has introduced. She has no origin, no grounding, no individuality-- she does not exist except for others, and Roxas, in particular. Because of this, Roxas is only whole once she returns his wholeness to him.

On the Subjectivity of Story and Character Development:
I believe the story was portrayed very well in Days. The Mission system provides a subtle coaxing of characters rather than a roaring establishment as in other titles. Characters offer vignettes and instances of enlightenment rather than hefty monologues and endless philosophizing. Xion is utilized to great effect as an unwitting antagonist and thematic foundation; Axel is played perfectly as a torn friend struggling to juggle loyalties; Roxas is a lonely and overly conscious child-figure who is being manipulated from all sides. Xemnas's evil is most apparent in this title as he callously cheats every character to his own ends and the truly heartless nature of the Nobodies becomes more apparent than ever not in how cruel they are, but in how they don't fully comprehend that themselves.

Some consider the pacing jarring and uneven, yet I consider it efficient and abstract. The profundity of the moments and conversations and confrontations Axel, Roxas and Xion share is unmatched by any other game so far. When Axel fights Xion to bring her back from Twilight Town, you can see that he is marred by both the desire to restore her as a friend of Roxas's and the necessity of using her to meet his personal goals and the greater good; when Roxas realizes how he has been completely betrayed by everyone (and how this informs his character in KH2, even if he doesn't know it), and how he is ultimately tasked with betraying Xion in every way, even memory, you can't help but feel for him; and when Xion ultimately realizes what her purpose is and what that means for her, she does what we would expect her to do-- as she is told, with all of the feeling and determination she had learned to master in her association with the world around her. We can expect that any possible future appearances from Xion will allow her the same freedom to be what she must be for the people that need her and, perhaps, to finally cultivate her own identity somewhere within that.

Whether you agree with these assessments are not is going to depend on how literally you observe the series and this installment especially. I've chosen to observe it not as a play-by-play, scene-by-scene construction of an obvious narrative, but a deeper and looser conceptual design of characters and themes. It's why I think the game is so fantastic and why it still holds as one of my absolute favorites next to Chain of Memories, which is similarly composed. In the end, Kingdom Hearts to me is about people; it is about their folly as they strive for wisdom and power, their willingness to give to others and share with others, how they contrive means of hurting others, how they establish healthy connections with others. 358/2 Days uses all of these elements to construct a powerful cast and storyline which emphasizes the nature of the Heart as an instrument of expression of our most human faults and accomplishments.

^Damn well best defense for Days I have ever read
Damn straight

To me, most Days seem to be upset that their Org game was used as an experiment to see how fans would react to a game that used the Org to tell a tale of a newly introduced character, plus Roxas who is playable but is a supporting character in the grand scheme of thing, and Axel.

Xion is much like Raiden from Metal Gear Solid 2 in a way a character who was introduced in a game And was widely disliked (Though not to the extent of Raiden).

I predict that in KH3 Xion will come back as a badass, and then a spinoff staring her will come out developed by Platinum Games.
 
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Silent hero_

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Oh don't worry. The gameplay bothered me the most of all. As I said, lazy gameplay designed destroy the narrative. It's just I spent a lot of my post bashing the gameplay that I forgot something, the narrative. That one element that a lot of members on KHI have been praising about. Sadly these people doesn't seem to be posting on here. A shame, I really want a challenge =/

Well, you got one, start typing..
 

Mirby

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truthiness.

I enjoyed Days when I played through it myself. I wanted to add another thing to this, though, if you don't mind.

So Days is the story of Roxas's time in the Organization. The game proceeds in a day-to-day manner (except when it skips chunks of them, but there was always a story-related reason for that) as such. Just because this is Kingdom Hearts doesn't mean that CRAZY INSANE ACTION HAPPENS EVERY SINGLE DAY! It's like life, and as a.a said above, life is a thematic element of the story (referencing the first part of the counter-argument).

Consider this. If you were to look at how long it takes Sora on any of his adventures compared to Roxas's time, you'd see it is far far shorter. Sora finishes his quests in a matter of days. 358/2 Days takes place over the course of a year. If life is the thematic element of the game, then why should there be insane events every day in the game if life, the central focus, isn't like that at all. Life is rather uneventful at most times, and Roxas's missions are akin to jobs in real life (they can be fun, but they can also get rather repetitive). You're playing as Roxas as he is in the employ of the Organization to gather hearts. He befriends one of his superiors and they hang out. It's rather normal, and when you keep in mind that the game takes place over a year, it starts to make sense why everything is as it is in Days. I find it to be rather compelling, seeing one character develop from a lifeless shell into one with loads of personality, and then see how they deal with everything around them.

Also, in reference to your line about the sunrise and sunset, that's probably why they made Twilight Town in the first place. To reference the circle of life that everyone goes through, and how birth is like a sunrise and death, the sunset. Twilight Town captures the moments in-between, which works for Nobodies as they kinda live an in-between existence (by which I mean that though they technically don't exist, the fact that they have a physical form gives them some semblance of existence, and as such are neither one nor the other; they are in-between). Watching the sunset in Twilight Town with his friends after each mission reflects that fact rather well.

If you stop looking at how you may think that Days is a horrible abomination and Xion is horrible, and instead study the nuances of the story progression and character development while also factoring in the relatively lengthy timespan that the game takes place over... Days is actually a very good game.
 

king_mickey rule

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Cool.


False premise, but I'll bite. Why?


So, it's not a problem with the story, the characters, or the mission system. Just checking.


Please qualify this statement for everyone. How does it do this? When does it do this?


Again, needs to be qualified.


Whoa, whoa, whoa. You still haven't convinced me that the pacing of the game is damaged in any real way. And aren't cutscenes supposed to be where most character development and forward story motion takes place?

Fact check time:
Kingdom Hearts gameplay in nutshell: run through worlds, fight Heartless and level up, important things happen via cutscenes.
Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories: run through castle, fight Organization members and level up, important things happen via cutscenes.
Kingdom Hearts 2: run through worlds, fight Nobodies and level up, important things happen via cutscenes.

I believe the precedent has already been set. Gameplay is reserved primarily for gameplay. Cutscenes contain the bulk of the storyline. Most video games work this way.


I don't get the gist. She's a mary-sue because a lot of people agree she is? She's the female companion Roxas needs to care about and that isn't important? She has no other role in the story other than to stand around as Roxas's trophy girlfriend? The gist has been consummately lost on me.


Contradiction in point. The game developed her when she was on missions with you in-game and made you care about her, but somehow all of her development was resigned to cutscenes. What do you mean, "the spotlight has to be on her?" Did none of the cutscenes in the game ever focus on another character? Were Roxas and Axel not also present in nearly all of the cutscenes in the game?


What are you referencing? The point in the game where she leaves with Riku? If I recall correctly, there are a number of cutscenes which take place in that time period which she is, obviously, not a part of. This would seem to contradict your statement that she "has to be in the spotlight" during cutscenes. Also, what sympathy were you intended to garner for her? When did the game explicitly tell you to sympathize with her? Is there no other interpretation of the game that should possibly be taken into account? Perhaps Xion is a more tragic character than a sympathetic one. Perhaps her role in the story is as a motivational force for Roxas and a footnote to his experiences and the story he has to tell. Perhaps.


Again, presuming a sympathetic character where there is little evidence to point to this. Still need to qualify your perspective on narrative structure vs game structure.


I don't see how the missions in Days do not contribute to an overarching storyline; does Roxas not interact with characters and gain experiences with each mission? Do these experiences, no matter how seemingly immaterial, not actually contribute to the build of his character on the whole, his critical perspective on life, people and the nature of existence? In our lives, does every day that goes by in which we do not accomplish something of epic proportions such as saving the world or finding a long-lost friend have no meaning? Furthermore, the fact that many of the missions in Days specifically cater to a gameplay scenario and are not necessary to the story is entirely in line with the series' precedent, as I've already indicated.


How is that any different from what occurs within the Mission formula of Days?


The story was weak, how? The character development could've been better, how? What do either of those factors have to do with Days? How do they differ? How are they the same?


This is becoming repetitious. To begin with, you have not exposed what makes the game structure unsuited to the narrative structure.


Harper all you want about narrative development and gameplay study, but when you refuse to identify what those factors are and how they relate to your perspective on the game, then you have an effectively broken argument.


Are you stating the obvious in order to make a point or are you just stating the obvious for the sake of it?


No. Novels are books of narrative prose. They can be written in any number of styles and subscribe to any level of indulgence of the superficial, the transcendental, the incidental, the introspective, etc. etc. Read Anais Nin. Then read J.R.R. Tolkein. Then get back to me on what novels are.


No. Visual novels are games. Visual novels take the time to explain it and show it. You are arguing black and white between totally different mediums, and then you are ignoring the many commonalities they share and how they actually can function cooperatively.


What's your point? What could Days have taken from Silent Hill 2 in order to present its story in a stronger fashion? If you aren't expecting Kingdom Hearts to do that, why mention it?


tl;dr Your argument is based upon a false premise, riddled with assumptive language and totally lacking in basic citations for your principle stances.

Allow me to present a counter-perspective (this is not a comprehensive evaluation of Days, only a direct appeal to a number of thoughts regarding it).

Days was effective as a game because it offered an in-depth perspective on Roxas's time in the Organization by formulating a character-oriented story. It was Roxas's game, not Xion's; it was self-contained in nature, not chronological; it was character driven. Days examined the fundamental psyche of its characters in a far more effective manner than any other game in the series; beginning with the birth of Roxas and culminating in the obliteration of Xion, elucidated by Roxas's rebirth without any memories of his time, it ran a full spectrum of the life experience which was its thematic basis: as the days go on and the sun sets and rises, so life begins and ends and begins anew.

On Xion As a Mary-Sue:
Xion is a character of understated and often miscomprehended significance. As an imperfect clone of Roxas within the story, Xion was an element of Roxas's experiences; she was influential, but she was not central. She has no identity, and therefore she has no personality: to relate to her as Mary-Sue is missing the point. All of the elements of her character are composed of pre-existing qualities she comes into contact with: she has Sora's kindness and selflessness, Roxas's weariness and confused sense of caring, Kairi's humanity and devotion to friends, Riku's fierce sense of self-loathing and Axel's ambiguous notion of allegiance. She is none of these things and all of them, a piece of every heart she touches-- she is an imperfect character and a perfect archetype. However, people mistake her role in that capacity; she is not the story's mystery, but its exposition. She is the fundamental study of all of the characters that takes place throughout their journey in Days. Are you meant to sympathize with Xion? Only in so much as you are meant to sympathize with Axel or Roxas: then, by extent, her. Her death is an innate tragedy and a necessary sacrifice. You understand it, but whether or not you identify with it emotionally correlates with your emotional identification with the game on the whole. Literally, she embodies the characters of Days and, thus, the story. But she is not its protagonist or its focus; Roxas is.

On Roxas as the Protagonist:
You play as Roxas. You fight as Roxas. Every major event in the story produces conflict and motive for Roxas as a character. Days is Roxas's story, and he is the one telling it. All of the characters are significant by way of their relation to him. So what is Xion to Roxas? I believe we are meant to discern that Xion is a blank slate, a starting point and a seed. Xion encapsulates non-judgment: for much of the game, she does not speak and she never commands him. She doesn't infiltrate his space in the way Axel does; she resides there, safely. At the same time, Xion, being a part of him, is familiar. In many ways, she is home, and she is validation of Roxas's existence. He interacts with her not out of an overwhelming interest in who she is, but in who he is. This is not say he doesn't care about her as a person, however, it is through her that his identity becomes clear. As the game goes on, Xion's relation to Roxas begins to shift; she begins to absorb him; to invalidate his existence; to own him; to replace him. At the same time, her continuity within the story is reversed; her role as an aspect of everyone around her is contradicted as she begins to reshape everything around her. Roxas rebels and ultimately succeeds in reclaiming his identity, and as Xion fades from existence she gives rebirth (a concept that is becoming increasingly prevalent within the series) to the elements she took into herself, including Roxas. The characters forget her because she never existed to begin with. Although Xemnas did not consider her a Nobody properly, in actuality, Xion is the most pure Nobody the game has introduced. She has no origin, no grounding, no individuality-- she does not exist except for others, and Roxas, in particular. Because of this, Roxas is only whole once she returns his wholeness to him.

On the Subjectivity of Story and Character Development:
I believe the story was portrayed very well in Days. The Mission system provides a subtle coaxing of characters rather than a roaring establishment as in other titles. Characters offer vignettes and instances of enlightenment rather than hefty monologues and endless philosophizing. Xion is utilized to great effect as an unwitting antagonist and thematic foundation; Axel is played perfectly as a torn friend struggling to juggle loyalties; Roxas is a lonely and overly conscious child-figure who is being manipulated from all sides. Xemnas's evil is most apparent in this title as he callously cheats every character to his own ends and the truly heartless nature of the Nobodies becomes more apparent than ever not in how cruel they are, but in how they don't fully comprehend that themselves.

Some consider the pacing jarring and uneven, yet I consider it efficient and abstract. The profundity of the moments and conversations and confrontations Axel, Roxas and Xion share is unmatched by any other game so far. When Axel fights Xion to bring her back from Twilight Town, you can see that he is marred by both the desire to restore her as a friend of Roxas's and the necessity of using her to meet his personal goals and the greater good; when Roxas realizes how he has been completely betrayed by everyone (and how this informs his character in KH2, even if he doesn't know it), and how he is ultimately tasked with betraying Xion in every way, even memory, you can't help but feel for him; and when Xion ultimately realizes what her purpose is and what that means for her, she does what we would expect her to do-- as she is told, with all of the feeling and determination she had learned to master in her association with the world around her. We can expect that any possible future appearances from Xion will allow her the same freedom to be what she must be for the people that need her and, perhaps, to finally cultivate her own identity somewhere within that.

Whether you agree with these assessments are not is going to depend on how literally you observe the series and this installment especially. I've chosen to observe it not as a play-by-play, scene-by-scene construction of an obvious narrative, but a deeper and looser conceptual design of characters and themes. It's why I think the game is so fantastic and why it still holds as one of my absolute favorites next to Chain of Memories, which is similarly composed. In the end, Kingdom Hearts to me is about people; it is about their folly as they strive for wisdom and power, their willingness to give to others and share with others, how they contrive means of hurting others, how they establish healthy connections with others. 358/2 Days uses all of these elements to construct a powerful cast and storyline which emphasizes the nature of the Heart as an instrument of expression of our most human faults and accomplishments.

You deserve a medal! It's like you put my thoughts into the right words, the words I couldn't find to describe how I look towards Days.

Basically, it's the best defense I've ever read for Days. People tend to say Days wasn't needed at all but y'know, the story of Days really was the foundation for future developments. I'm pretty sure that in the future, Days will only get more important. But that's just my guess.

Also, to me, there wasn't really anything severely wrong with the narrative at all. To me, the way of telling the story through all these days made the experience of the story better and coherent. It actually showed the development instead of just showing the major plotpoints.
 
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