Thursday, February 09, 2017

This Group Will Be In Constant Flux

It's time once again for me to amuse probably only myself with some made up team of fictional characters. This time I went to my list of Playstation 2 games, which was harder than I expected. A lot of licensed games (DBZ, sports games), or games with nameless protagonists (Sky Odyssey), or games with characters that didn't seem suited for this kind of thing.

The Leader: Mitsuru Kirijo (Persona 3) - Let's see, she's smart, is able to call forth a powerful representation of her inner self to unleash various ice attacks, is a skilled swordfighter, and has had to run a company since roughly when she got out of high school after he father was murdered. She spent years fighting an unknown war against monsters that menaced humanity, at times with no more than one or two other people.

She's mostly cool under pressure, but if she gets tripped up, she tends to take it hard and beat herself up over it. And she internalizes all of it, won't let other people help her work through things. She feels a lot of weight as a result of her family name, people watching her, judging her, and that can result in her trying to do too much on her own. Her father would remind her the family motto was something roughly like "strength through unity", basically to remember it was better to work with others, but her default response is to do the opposite. I tend to suspect her father was, intentionally or not, putting a lot of the pressure to be exceptional on her, and so he's kind of sending mixed signals, but that's just one of those things the rest of the team is going to have to cope with. Can they get her to actually let them help?

That said, she's pretty good about looking out for teammates once she has them. And she was willing to step back and let others lead in the field if she thought they were capable. But if she's in charge, she will probably operate as more like a dictator until she trusts this bunch enough to have more respect for their opinions. She can have an air of superiority that's going to irritate someone, at least at first. It's like she's worried about them, because she thinks they don't know what the hell they're doing and need to be looked after, until proven otherwise. It is possible that her experiences over the course of the game have worn that away, and she'll be more open and trusting with people, but I suspect she's still going to try to naturally take the lead.

The Rogue: Gene (God Hand) - Gene's a fairly powerful fighter, especially when he unleashes the God Hand (or Hands if this is after the conclusion of the game). He's not a bully, he believed in standing up for the oppressed even before he got a super-powerful arm, but he can be lazy about it. He'll fight evil when it presents itself, but he's not the type to go looking for trouble, generally. Olivia was usually around to kick him in the butt (or threaten to take back the arm, with an axe), but by the end of the game, she wanted the God Hands back anyway, and Gene refused. So he's going to be spending a lot of time looking over his shoulder as to whether she's catching up. Which means he could leave at pretty much any point.

He's going to frustrate his teammates with his laconic attitude, and he's going to amaze them with the damage he can do once he gets going. He's going to irritate half the team and amuse the other half with various smart ass remarks he'll be making. Actually, looking at this roster, half the team will probably have no idea what he's talking about. But he's going to make fun of the Muscle for being a bit uncouth, he's going to try poking holes in Mitsuru's take-charge personality. It's going to be meant to be taken lightly, so he probably won't spark too much infighting. But Gene is someone used to fighting alone. Whether it was one enemy, or seven, or just wave after wave, he faced them by himself. Operating in a team setting is going to take getting used to, if he sticks around long enough.

The Muscle: Yangus (DragonQuest 8) - Yangus was a bandit king, but left his group and set out on his own, eventually encountering the main character of the game and throwing in with him after being saved from a plunge into a ravine.He's blunt, straightforward, loud, and not terribly book smart. I don't think he's an idiot necessarily; he can be canny in his element, but he wasn't a sneaky bandit, or one who relied much on planning. He jumped out in front of you with an axe, and demanded valuables or else. But maybe that gives him a reputation, or at least an edge, the others don't have. They're either kind of goofy, or not very intimidating at first glance. Yangus has a swagger and approach that might scare people right off, which can be useful.

But if he's thrown in his lot with you, then he's with you all the way, and characters like that are good to have. They can be the butt of the joke that loosens everyone up, or the one who keeps pressing forward and keeps everybody else from surrendering or splitting up. But he's tough, and likes a good brawl, which will come in handy, especially if Gene's unavailable. His style's maybe not as stylish as Mitsuru's, but he's effective, and he knows a little bit of healing magic, which is always a good thing (Mitsuru does as well, for that matter, so it offers the option of either one falling back from the fray to help the others).

The Woman of Mystery: Yorda (Ico) - I had another character in mind here, but I was leaning really heavily on JRPGs, so I wanted to try and go outside that. And Yorda didn't get much focus in Ico, mostly serving as a key to get them to the next area, or someone for Ico to protect/lead around by the wrist. But you could argue that was because she understood what they were up against, the power her mother had at her disposal, and had resigned herself to her fate. But Ico defeated the Queen, and Yorda was able to save him, so fate averted.

Yorda seemed soft-spoken and kind of passive in the game, letting Ico make decisions, give orders, pull her to and fro. Again, maybe because she figured none of it mattered, so why argue about it? This is what her mother made her, so there wouldn't be any resistance when the Queen tried to use Yorda's life to extend her own. So with that fear gone, she could become more demonstrative, more emphatic. But maybe she's comfortable as the quiet type, who watches and learns. If there's really something that needs saying, she'll say it, but she's can enjoy silence, not that there will be much of that. Yangus and Gene alone with fill the air. But Yangus and Mitsuru both worked with people who didn't offer much unless asked (the main characters of their respective games), so I think both of them will encourage her to share her thoughts if she wants.

I'm not sure what her capabilities are. She was able to undo the seals her mother placed on doors. Her mother was able to turn people to stone, summon shadow creatures, and project waves of force, so Yorda could probably manage all that, to certain degrees. It wouldn't surprise if she'd observed her mother very closely all those years, for lack of anything else to do while locked up in a castle. Or we could make unlocking things her specialty. Unlocking doors, unlocking secrets, passwords, whatever. The team doesn't really have a stealth ace, so that would be a workaround. She can't take many hits, but the rest of this team can take a fair amount of punishment.

The Guy with a Boat: Ratchet/Clank (Ratchet and Clank) - We're not gonna take the boat? No Sean Connery as Indy's dad, we can do better than boats. We can get a spaceship. So it's a duo, maybe a cheat, but I wasn't entirely sure either one could handle the spaceship without the other. It's been several years since I played the game, but I feel like Clank served as the onboard computer, but couldn't have actually flown it. So both it is. Consider this my one "exception to the rules" for this team.

That means we've got Science Bros! on the team. Everybody likes Science Bros, right? Ratchet's more of an engineer-type, build you something if you give him time, or take something apart more likely. Clank probably knows more about various scientific disciples. And he's handy for interacting with any computerized security or information systems they might encounter. He's also the best bet they have for stealth, assuming we don't go with my idea about Yorda's power being to unlock things. And that's mostly because he's small, rather than particularly sneaky. Clank may have the same difficulty as Yorda in terms of getting a chance to speak, but assuming Mitsuru or Yangus don't notice, he does have Ratchet to advocate for him. And Ratchet's got a wrench to get people's attention with.

By the end of the first game these two had built a decent level of trust, and stopped an industrialist who was destroying entire planets to build himself a prime piece of real estate. They got to be big public heroes, which isn't something any of the others have much experience with. But they also saw what happened to Captain Quark when he let that go to his head and compromise him as hero. So hopefully they avoid that pitfall. I haven't played any of the other games in the series, so I don't know, I assume they did. If this team ends up in places where no one has ever heard of them, which is likely, that'll help. But the fact these two are already used to working together is going to pay off. Early on, all these teams are going to struggle to know each others abilities, how to play off each other. It's like having Luke Cage and Danny Rand on your team. At least those two will have each other's back and be able to communicate, which may keep the team alive long enough to get on the same page.

Wild Card: Richard Osmond, sorta (Echo Night: Beyond) - I say "sorta", because the Richard you play as is actually an android, created by his fiance after he died in a shuttle crash, then given life when she used a strange rock to wish for it, in exchange for her own life. In most of the game's endings, Richard-bot is left alone on the station after helping all the spirits find peace. I don't know what that leaves him to do there, so let's throw him in. He might end up as a replacement for Gene, if Olivia catches up still after those God Hands.

Not that Richard's a fighter; he's more an engineer, since he was the one who designed the station on the moon. But when his staff discovered that strange mineral, he didn't have enough sense or caution to slow down and figure out what he was really dealing with. Maybe this version, having seen the results, is a little more cautious. Or maybe he's gone nuts in isolation on a space station, especially after realizing all those tormented spirits were his fault. Spending some time around the living could be good for him. Having him as another source of technical know-how to go with Ratchet and Clank could be interesting. I haven't had a lot of teams with multiple super-intelligent people on them thus far (except maybe Trip and Cortana).

I feel like this group is going to struggle to keep a fifth member. Gene may have to bail. Richard may prove to be unsuited or uninterested in a life of adventure. The same could be true for Yorda, that the team helped her to save someone, or protect her home, but she's not up for fighting evil all the time. Virginia Maxwell from Wild Arms 3 would probably be the next one up after Richard, because this team is leaning heavily towards hitting things and/or cutting them. We need more characters who shoot things. Ratchet can't do it all himself. Plus, I'd be curious to see Virginia and Mitsuru interact. Virginia took some lumps in that game, had to decide what she really wanted and believed in, but still maintained her beliefs in spite of it and a fairly cheerful attitude. They could play off each other well.

Oddly, despite the instability, this team feels like it might be the most emotionally supportive, if that makes sense. There aren't any violently anti-social types. No Max Payne with a death wish and pill addiction, or Ada Wong being a constant threat to betray you. Mitsuru is reserved, but more than capable of being compassionate. Yangus is your typical Ben Grimm, "gruff but kind-hearted" type. Ratchet and Clank are good dudes. Gene is a smart ass, but he's not the sort to punch down with it. Yorda seems to care about others, if not herself. I'm not sure how Richard would act, but I doubt he'd be too vicious. He helped spirits even when he didn't necessarily have to, which is a good sign. It may take time to gel, or it may never stabilize enough for that, but I don't see internal forces being what wrecks it.

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