Hello Little Lights, and Periwinkle in particular, today I got tagged in a top five by my pool guy. In Mallow spirit he tagged me in a regular post that isn’t really meant to be a blog tag I think?! But I am not sure.. so at least from me , I won’t be tagging people but I will encourage people to take on this challenge themselves. You see this is an interesting topic for me. Video Game Writers.. neither in anime or video games or even movies for that matter I worry too much about the back office.. I enjoy the bigger product.. as an experience of everyone…in most cases. But who are responsible for some of my favourite works? Today we find out!
This post is not an official top 5, there is no ranking nor do I claim that these five are my absolute favourites. I do not like ranking people and telling one is better than the other, so these can be put in any order and in no way are meant to invalidate YOUR favourite writers!
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So immediately I started with someone who was the subject of some online scrutiny. However, whether those accusations are true or not does not reflect on his work. They say our guy Jonas stole the work of an artist and when they struck back he tried to defame them or something. For some this may be a reason not to buy a game but for me this is something that happens anywhere in the world. It’s up to the people involved to resolve this. So him being a potential meanie-bo-beanie to his staff, doesn’t affect his skill. I would not be able to buy a lot of food if I had to boycott every dickish boss. So.. by now you may wonder, who the heck is this Jonas Kaerlev person?! See I got you interested in him at least?! … Well he is the writer of A Hat in Time and Ceo of Gears for Breakfast. As a lot of you may know: I LOVE A HAT IN TIME SOOOOO MUCH!!!! The writing is ON point.
Lil old Jonas , is a gamer and he has a love for cute cynismsn and that just oozes out of this game. Which gives it such a personality! It is cute as buttons, but it has so much sas. Much like Kazooie from Banjo., but in Kaerlev’s work it feels much more genuine. It fits these characters so much and there is a crude irony that some of these characters discover about themselves near the finale or during the game that makes these things so incredibly fun. A Hat in Time’s characters feel so unique and vibrant and the mission structure tells a story while also keeping this video game whimsy about it. The story is largely irrelevant yet you really get to know these characters and you know what is happening still, feeling both retro and modern and for this writing I adore it.
I could have easily fitted this list with just J-RPG writers, but that felt a bit cheap. However mister Horii can not be omitted from this list. He started out as a journalist for something called “magazines” which are like very old fashioned blogs… but offline?! Weird huh! (Yes I am writing this so people in the future may enjoy it as well). A random contest issued by Enix led the man to develop the concept for a game called Love Match Tennis. He won the contest.. among others and this inspired him to start making video games. His game Portopia Serial Murder Case is one of the games that is creditted by Hideo Kojima as the thigns that got HIM into making video games…. see now my post and Perwinkle’s are linked! Sugoi Sugoi! Yuji Horii would then move on to be one of the creative aspirations behind a little franchise called. Dragon Quest…or Dragon Warrior if you are an old school American!
WhileI absolutely adore Dragon Quest, especially part VIII , that is not the reason he is on this list. No Horii is on my list because he is the writer of Chrono Trigger.
When I did the powerful female tag, I put Celes Chere as a woman who has been trough a lot , mentioning she might be one of my favourite JRPG characters of all time.Yet there is one character that comes to mind even stronger and that is Frog from Chrono Trigger. And no his real name is not Frog and he is not just a frog.. there is a huge backstory to that featuring a powerful sword and evil mage and time travel, yet that is not even the main plot of the game, it’s a “side-story” integrated in the bigger picture. Chrono Trigger has so much story it is insane and it is perfectly interwoven into each other, the very monstrous Lavos as a villain is quite different from what we normally see. JRPG villains tend to be , what I like to call “Frieza Variations”. I know he wasn’t the first.. but he is well know. A charismatic ruler, of immense power that will transform a few times as you fight him. Usually very cold hearted and a megalomaniac. Chrono Trigger went a very different route, and our journey was different from what we are used too! And while Horii was not solely responsible.. he started it all!
While making this list I wanted to make sure to include people throughout genres and throughout the world, so I was brainstorming on genres in which I really enjoy the story. The idea of horror came up.. but I realised that was not completely true. I wanna be scared. I’ll leave the Deus Ex writer for Indigo if he decides to do this tag so shooters were out and western RPGs are oftenly really generically written. Then it came to me. Old school Point and Click adventures. I often care more about their funny stories than about the puzzles all that much. I love the genre and I love the characters. Yet which game should I pick.. my three favourite point and Click adventure stories are: Day of the Tentacle, the original Monkey Island and Day of the Tentacle. So now.. I have to decide which one to pick.. oh nevermind they are all written by the same guy, Tim Schafer.
I do want to Schafer a slap though for the HORRIBLE ending of Monkey Island 2…. seriously, that is one HORRIBLE video game ending, but his sense of humor is sensible in all of his games. Comedy is hard to put into a video game, it rarely worked in anything other than Point and Click adventures but Tim Schafer to me is the king of video game humor. He proved that it can be done outside of the point and click genre with Brütal Legends and Psychonauts (he also wrote the sequel) but to me his greatest achievement will be Grim Fandango. The Film Noir and day of the dead inspired the world is so amazing. The adventures of Manny are beautiful.. and the threat of being killed by a flower never felt more real! It has the perfect balance of comedy, suspense and puzzles that are challenging but feel logical to that world. Also Tim probably imagined most of the concept for Guybrush freaking Threepwood. Praise Tim!
Hironobu Sakaguchi & Yoshinori Kitase
The penultimate slot of this list goes to two people.. and as you may expect by their names, yes they are responsible for a JRPG choice on this list. So why do I chose two people?! Well because they are co-listed as writers of a few video game gems. Such as Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy VII and of course my all time favourite JRPG, Final Fantasy (ambiguous) VI. I can’t really choose between Sakaguchi and Kitase, because while stories of Final Fantasy games only began to get very good when Kitase showed up (I don’t really care for the story of I through IV) Sakaguchi was the scenario writer for Final Fantasy IX, which might be my second favourite Final Fantasy. So they both made this list. Regardless of what is your favourite Final Fantasy, these two have something to do with it. Kitase himself says he loves VII the most and his favourite character is Cloud Strife. Now imagine how cool it is to say in their context. HIS favourite character is Cloud Strife. These are THEIR characters. Cloud Strife.. one of THE most Iconic video game characters of all time. It becomes even more epic if you think that unlike Mario, Sonic and even Solid Snake’s design.. who originally just ripped off Kyle Reese from Terminator, his origins do not stem from just a cool design.. he was probably written first and designed after. Almost none of the other icons will have that feature.
So that already is a testament of their amazing writing prowess, but to me it is still best embodied in Final Fantasy VI. A SteamPunk game that again breaks with a lot of the video game storytelling traditions?! It created an incredibly complex world with characters that would exist in a world, even if there was no story line. Cecil is an okay character..but without the game there is little to him. The first three games you literally play blank paper sheets or at least their abilities can be traded in. Terra.. without the crown incident would still be interesting, given her heritage. Celes would still feel conflicted about her job without the events that really drive this game. Edgar would still have his conflict with Sabin. Final Fantasy VI is a great example on how to create a world for me.. the way characters get lost in the woods, do something stupid and end up in more trouble then they bargained for.. it was not just a story that was being told it had it’s characters interact with it. It felt dynamic and is to this day one of my favourite video game stories, and most likely it will be until the day I’d need a Phoenix Down!
I know I don’t do rankings, but Suda51 is a top candidate for the number 1 spot on this list.. which is also why I made him my final entry. It is no secret that I like weirdness and randomness and Suda51 is the master of weird. So much so that it can feel convoluted at times, maybe weird for weirds sake. However you just need to see two minutes of a Suda51 game and you will know it is a Suda51 game. His style is on everything. This can be said for his colleague David Cage, who was on Periwinkle’s list but I do not like David Cage games, they tend to feel a bit preachy at times, there is a heavy bias to certain plot-threads or ways things unfold. Suda51 doesn’t have that for me. Say a David Cage script gets mixed up with these semi-super drama’s like Izombie or the 100, I am not sure I would be able to pick it out of the pile as his work. If I throw Suda51’s writing into a pile of oddball scripts I would still be able to pick out Suda51.. I’d need to throw it into a creative writing course at an Asylum, not to notice it is him.. and even then.. I’d imagine I’d still be able to do it.
I think it is both Cage’s and Suda51’s strength that among games, you can recognise their work for miles. To each goes their own very specific audience and Suda51’s audience is me! Killer7, Lollipop Chainsaw, Killer is Dead, these all just ooze with flavour and I adore these games. However they do not have Travis Touchdown. No More Heroes is such a unique and strange franchise that really feels like the artists creation. I do not like to do this whole back office thing and look at writers.. but with No More Heroes or Suda51 games, I do not have too. I know. With all due respect to my four other entries you could tell me another name made them and I would believe it… I can not play No More Heroes and deny Gochi Suda had something to do with it. The way a girl commits suicide by biting down on a grenade.. for losing to Travis, the extremely over the top story that gives room for the strange visuals, the overly cool protagonist that still has to do menial jobs, there is a consistent inconsistency in these games. A way these characters talk to each other that feels larger than life. Larger than normal video games, it’s predictably unpredictable. It is goosebumps and a squee-sounds of joy all over. It’s Suda51!
Like I said I will not be tagging people but I do encourage people in the gaming blogosphere to pick this up and try it themselves. I don’t think it’s an official tag post and more of a challenge… so I will keep it at that. Challenge yourself to find five other names that are important to you and let’s talk some more video games! Until then, Shine on Little Lights! Oyasumi!