Friday, April 6, 2012

1-P: A stupid stupid adventure begins

I know Radiant Dawn has been LPed a lot, I would point everyone on this site to Fedule's Excellent LP in the Something Awful LP Archives but I've never really seen an LP focusing on analyzing the story, I've seen a lot focusing on the technical and how one guy can pull off what seems to be an impossible feat, but nothing giving in-depth analysis of the games stories.

This is an LP about Radiant Dawns story, oh there will be plenty of gameplay for people to see, vote upon, and laugh at, but the posts will be comprised of me analyzing the strengths (because it's an injustice to say there are no strengths) and weaknesses (And the game has a lot of these as well) of the script and story structure. I'll also be digging into the good and bad game design choices, though in this case it's MOSTLY good and very little bad.

1. I Will be playing this on Normal (JP: Hard) because I'm not a masochist and I disagree with Hard (JP: Maniac) turning off the Weapon Triangle etc. It's a big case of bad game design in my personal opinion.

2. You Will vote on which units I bring to each chapter (when the choice presents itself) I am fairly comfortable and confident in my abilities to take any unit you guys throw at me, and make sure they can contribute, though with that said...

3. This is Not a speed run, I am not going for efficiency, or Low Turn Count, or anything other than "Don't spend 200 turns a chapter making the game ridiculously easy" I know this may disappoint some of you, but honestly I wouldn't be showing you anything new. Dondon's pretty much done it better than I ever could no matter what I tried.

4. You Can vote on the Forges I make once the Forge is available, I don't mind you voting Weapon type, name, or anything else specific, just BOLD YOUR ANSWERS. Yes Fedule did do this for both his LPs, what's your point?

With those 4 rules laid in place, I'm going to point out I will try not to lose my shit at minor things. I'm going to very much try to remain calm and analytical of the game, providing reasonable analysis. Unless it's funny otherwise.

With that said, let's very much kick this into gear.

Yes we are indeed importing on Clear Data, I just spent for-fucking-ever making a 'Perfect Save' I'm not about to ditch it for nothing.

... And then the game CRASHES When trying to import my 'Perfect Save File' I'm just going to go have a cry over here... In the mean time have something adorable.

Okay while I wait for my old memory card to download, lets talk Radiant Dawn. As a game I think RD is wonderful, the mechanics are tight and well polished, there are balance issues but not so much that the game becomes unplayable, some of the best maps in the series are in this game, but that's when my loving praise for RD ends. I dislike RDs story, I find it insulting on quite a few levels, I find the plot-holes insulting, I find the lack of character development insulting, I have a hard time playing Radiant Dawn because of the story, and really I don't know why this is. It's not that the IDEA behind the story is flawed, it's the execution and purely the execution. This LP is hopefully going to explain why I feel this way, and again I'm going to attempt to do this in as rational and calm a manner as I can. Really though the thread title is more appropriately "Fucking Sending Stones!" but we'll get into that in a while yet.

Well, I've had to revert to an 'Older' Perfect save (The final Laguz king isn't perfect, not as many A supports as I wanted, including no A support with my favorite pair, I know it doesn't mean anything in the story but bleh!) but that still means I can do more than spend 4 days making a new one.

But now we're all prepared so lets move on.

From a design perspective the cutscene looks very pretty, it helps establish this is Daein, and the protagonist is not Ike this time, also that Sothe's made a return. But here's my problem with it (this is a minor problem) What's the point? The very next moment after the cutscene has ended, it's daytime and it's barely mentioned again. Compare with the cutscene at the beginning of Path of Radiance, which drops us into the story, in real time, and lets us know what's going on. We establish relations, and the following scene helps cement what just happened.

Again, this isn't a major crime, but as it stands it just looks pretty and we learn very little from it. If the prologue had continued at night, with Micaiah and Sothe evading troops to make it back to a Dawn Brigade safe-house separate from their Hideout, then we would establish some continuity, and maybe build on the oppressive feel of Begnion occupation.


It's a few days later, with absolutely not connection to the animated cutscene. Fantastic.

The 'Him' here is referring to Leonardo, obviously the game has dropped us In Media Res, so we aren't supposed to know who he is, but from the conversation we can discern that he's punctual.

We also find out that Micaiah can see the future, though Micaiah says she doesn't choose what she see's, as we'll find out later in the game, this is bullshit, and it's a plot convenience power. Now I'm not at all opposed to having a Seer in the party, after all we've had Seers in the past, such as Claude, but their visions aren't quite the same as Micaiah.

And no, I may dislike Micaiah and RD's story but I'm not going to start calling her a Mary-Sue, that's the easy way out.
(Micaiah Power Count: 1)

But enough of learning minute details about our characters, it's time for our routine bandit fight. And of course the Begnion Occupation Army is nowhere in sight. They only care about the Dawn Brigade, who must be masters of chaos and stealth if they've managed to elude an occupied force for 1-3 years.

But Edward goes ahead and says "Hey, we're the Dawn Brigade!" so that theory's thrown out the window. Seriously Edward what the HELL? no secrecy, no "We're good Samaritans" (Or Equivalent) and helping without announcing the fact that the guys making every ones lives hell around here are after you? Well there's common sense violated.

So the Dawn Brigade is the group fighting for Daeins independence, I certainly hope that these guys are more than pranksters and what not, cause from what we've seen there's the competent one (Sothe) the one who's got a fancy light trick and talks to birds (Micaiah) and the idiot (Edward).

Here are our Bandits, fresh from Fire Emblems endless printer, this is just a common occurrence in these games, nothing to complain or cry about.


I move Edward up, and since this is really meant to be JP Hard Mode face a 61% chance of being hit.

Not that he doesn't clean up like a BOSS! after eating the counter...

Micaiah moves up and heals him with the power of 'Sacrifice' which lets her sacrifice her own HP to restore others, and cure status aliments. Handy since we don't have a healer yet.
(Micaiah Power Count: 2)


This time Edward doesn't wind up Critting the bandit, and Micaiah shoves light magic down his throat. And no this doesn't count as a 'power' I'm not going to unfair here.

Here's Leonardo, fortunately not an Alien-Turtle full of explosions, but unfortunately an Archer, I have no doubts you guys will force him on me many times. (Edward countered the bandit twice in the enemy phase and ate a counter attack.)

Anyway, Leonardo shows himself to be a bit of a worry-wart, which adds a serious character as counter to Edwards hyper idiot character.


He comes down and finishes off the bandit, Micaiah moves behind the crates to snipe the one at Range 2, and Edward moves just in range of 2 of the bandits to bait them.

Turn 4.

Edward kills one Bandit on the counter attack, but only weakens the other. While we aren't playing for speed, we do need to finish in 10 turns for all the BEXP. And I don't really want to kill 10 frigging turns.

Turn 5.

Again, Leo comes down to kill off the weakened bandit and in doing so triggers a redundant cancel. I'm still not sure why he wound up with the cancel skill baked in, maybe for fighting mages? Regardless I'm in no hurry to rip it out of him just yet. Though it will most likely be going to Edward for the durability. Micaiah heals up Edward a bit with Sacrifice (reducing her to 1 HP) and Edward chews a herb. In RD's favor they greatly expanded upon items in this game, from multiple tiers of healing and weapons to even minor things such as Cards. If nothing else you can't fault the games Gameplay.

Turn 6.

Edward gets the first level of the map as he and Leo clean up the last two non-boss bandits, and I am VERY pleased, extra Myrmidon chow for you tonight Edward. Micaiah pops a Herb and moves just outside the bosses range.


Micaiah just heals up Edward, after they move into Boss range, nothing worth capping.


I risked way too much this turn, Edward was on low HP after eating a counter attack, and rather than have him heal up, I decided to end this map here and now. Thank god he dodged the counter attack (he was still facing 60 hit even with that point of speed). Leo came over and weakened the boss further, and Micaiah cleaned him up for a level, the result?


With that the map is cleared, and my happiness turns to sadness.

Yeah it's not like you did most of the work or anything Edward, this is small right now, but it is a common occurrence of everything being thrown up in favor of Micaiah despite the fact that she really does not deserve it. Like I said it's small now, and it's Edward who's apparently been with her for a while (We don't know because the game doesn't bother informing us about silly things like backstories) but later... hoo boy.

The fuzz arrive to put a damper on our victory celebration, and considering the hit rates we faced vs Axes, I'm not about to pit these guys against Soldiers.

Edward gets in a snarky comment, and I want to clarify something. I have no problems with Begnion being the villain in this game, if you had told me, just from the one scene the senators outside Oliver got in PoR that these guys were evil and dickheads, I would have gone "Yeah, that seems legit." My problem with the BOF is going to be apparent the further we get into part 1.

Either way Leonardo says we have to split, bumping him up on the list of people I like in this game, and this little boy signs his death warrant.

Here's Jarod, the unrepentant dickhead that by the end of this they will try to make us sympathize with, which is hilarious considering all the shit he does. He helps the soldiers exposit that the cut-scene we saw before the mission was the soldiers storming the Dawn Brigades hideout. A Hideout apparently out in the open... You know what I'll go with it. They also tell us about Micaiah's sacrifice power she's apparently made no attempt to hide, despite it being a defining feature, and how the town basically worships her. again this grows to be more and more uncomfortable the more we progress through Part 1.

Yeah, me too, thanks exposition soldier, you get a reward.

THE REWARD IS DEATH! But seriously what the fuck? I get it, Jarod is a bad boss, but outright executing your troops for no reason what so ever is shit usually reserved for the Shaagal/Narshen/Valter of the game, someone who's supposed to be completely irredeemable and I'm never supposed to like. But right near the end of Part 1, and later on in Part 4 I believe, Micaiah tries hyping Jarod up as an honorable soldier... but we'll get to that later.

This seems weird to me as well, this is STILL the Capital of Daein, It's not like this is a village out in the boonies where you don't even have the basics of comfort, Jarod is pretty much king shit. Actually that makes me wonder how Jarod hasn't heard of the Dawn Brigade before now, did he just arrive? in the Capital? you would think the Occupation Force operated out of it, indeed the game will cut back here whenever the Occupation Force has a cutscene, so this strikes me as odd. I get it's exposition for the player, but wouldn't it have worked better the other way. The soldier just thought they were a bunch of kids, Jarod gets the description, and after a mock-calm voiced lecture on who the Dawn Brigade are, he stabs the guy? I mean it looks like he's a complete newbie. In that case who was in charge before hand?

As an introduction, the prologue sort of works, we get all the information about our group, a bit of information about Micaiah, and we get to fight off Bandits, but I question the structure, and outside "Is an Idiot" and "Is cool headed" we haven't really learned much about Edward and Leonardo. I know plenty of Fire Emblems don't tell us more in the introduction, but the problem is this will be a CONSTANT throughout the game, and we will never really learn more about these guys. But with the prologue done and a clock flashing 1:45 AM at me, I'll wrap this up here.

Drop comments, if you would rather I keep the updates in spoiler tags, let me know.

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