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Finishing Eternal Sonata: The Preemptive Post

TL;DR: Fuck you, just read it.

It’s not you, it’s me.

Yo, this game has flowers. I will not say this game is better than Eternal Sonata but... Yeah, I'll just leave it at that. We cool?
Yo, this game has flowers. I will not say this game is better than Eternal Sonata but... Yeah, I'll just leave it at that. We cool?
Out of all the JRPGs I’ve ever played, none of them have been more hotly contested than Eternal Sonata—and it’s because I make my seething hatred known whenever it’s brought up in conversation. Ever since its original release in 2007, I’ve made numerous attempts at finishing the game despite a comparatively short length and easy-to-handle combat system; this most recent attempt will be my fourth and, hopefully, last. 

As someone who can garner appreciation for the likes of Deadly Premonition, Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad or even Friday the 13th, this flowery, cutesy, fantastical game should’ve been a walk in the park by comparison. It’s not often I actively dislike something; in fact, I often pride myself on making it through the worst of the worst and, through that, end up liking certain games more than anyone should.

For me, Eternal Sonata fell apart in its disparate story elements and how they don’t come together in a meaningful way. While I understand the plot and setting are a fictitious dreamscape of Chopin's, the developers did a number of things to shift the focus away from such an ambitious and eccentric world. Realistically, Chopin didn’t need to be in the game; tying a real-life composer to the game’s events was a poorly conceived plot catalyst that didn’t add up to anything. As much as I love the Revolution Etude, just give me a made-up composer!

An Unjustified Opinion

I hate you.
I hate you.

That’s how I feel about the game, at least up until the various points where I just gave up. Many will argue that you only need to play as much as you want to have a solid opinion; I believe that in order to condemn or praise a game in its entirety, you at least need to see the ending. Over the years, not finishing the game been my greatest failing, and I’ve hardly articulated my hatred in conversation besides saying, “the story sucks.”

So am I beating this just to say I hate it? I’d be lying if I didn’t say that’s partially why. However, another reason why I’m going through it again is because I want to like it, and I want to find a little nugget to appreciate. I certainly didn’t make three previous attempts just to go on a rampant hate quest. On top of that, many people have voiced opposite opinions to the point where it seems I’m the deluded one. Hopefully this series of blog entries will definitively articulate my thought process while playing the game and lay my opinion to rest.

Actually, it might be you. But we can change that!

I hate you even more.
I hate you even more.

If there’s a wrong way to play Eternal Sonata, I feel like I’ve come across it. My first run of the game was with the 360 version and my time was limited because I was checking it out as part of GameStop’s employee benefits. On subsequent playthroughs, I feel my mistakes were as follows: 

Playing the PlayStation 3 version

Technically speaking, the PS3 version is a better value with additional characters, costumes and, apparently, a significantly changed ending. However, one of the negatives (in my opinion) is the increase in difficulty; compounded with that is a decrease in EXP gain. Granted, Eternal Sonata wasn’t terribly difficult to begin with, but a harder difficulty brings more chances for frustration. If I recall, the boss fight with… Tuba(?) had me tearing out my hair. Unfortunately, my next foray will be with the PS3 version, but knowing what I know now will dull the pain. 

 I REALLY hate you.
 I REALLY hate you.

Playing with English voices

My internal logic dictates that, if the setting feels apropos for English voices, use them. Since the plot deals with Chopin, I figured English would be my closest bet given that French—or any other European language—wasn’t an option. However, I was met with some grating voice acting jobs, not the least of which lent itself to the most overblown death I’ve ever witnessed. Oddly enough, I’ll miss the voice actor for Beat, but it’s a small price to pay for Japanese voices instead.

 MAYBE I'll learn to love.
 MAYBE I'll learn to love.

Playing with a cynical mindset

Conan O’Brien, before leaving the Tonight Show, said, “I hate cynicism - for the record it's my least favorite quality, it doesn't lead anywhere.” I agree with this statement and apply it to games as well. Starting a game with cynicism or pessimism in mind won’t let you appreciate the finer aspects. For example, you shouldn’t put down a first-person shooter just because the right bumper doesn’t throw grenades; it's petty, idiotic thinking that won't lead the industry in diverse, innovative directions. During my third playthrough, such a thing was very detrimental to my experience and I won’t be crashing my head against the rocks. Slow, steady and optimistic is how I’ll be playing.

Updates and Format

It's been a while since I published a blog, and between my last self-centric post and this one hopefully I've improved my craft and will be able to better reflect it here. The update schedule for this series of entries will be infrequent because I want to format it in such a way that's aesthetically pleasing and fresh. What does that mean? For starters, I won't be putting these on Giant Bomb's message board. Too many variables go into messing up the format, and I don't want to deal with those; additionally, this isn't something the GB audience goes for anyway. As for whatever else, hopefully you'll see creative spins on blogging as my adventures go on. Those Naked Cartoon Podcast posts sure were neat and nifty, eh?