Thursday, November 30, 2017

Knights of Xentar: Vanilla Casanova

The game's basic attitude.
One of my favorite holiday tunes is the old Frank Loesser standard "Baby, It's Cold Outside." I have about 15 covers including the sublime Dean Martin version. Because I like it so much, I get a little irked at the customary annual reminder that it's basically about an attempted date rape (or perhaps even a completed one; the song ends before a definitive decision). This article is particularly noxious. Talk about overanalyzing! I mean, yeah, the woman clearly wants to leave and there's an implication that the guy slipped her a roofie, but come on! It's just a light holiday song with clever lyrics! Bing Crosby sang it! Lady Gaga and Joseph Gordon-Levitt did it with a clever role-reversal! Do you politically-correct m#%@##$ers have to take everything?

I think the comparison to Knights of Xentar is apt. The game affects a tone similar to the song. Yes, women are depicted in the throes of sexual assault, but it's not serious sexual assault. They're saying, "no, no, stop," but they're doing it with a wink and a smile. I mean, if they were really traumatized, they probably wouldn't be so eager to offer sex to Desmond as a reward for "rescuing" them, right?

This is all to say that I get the negative backlash. If you like the Japanese eroge genre, and you've managed to play games like this for years without displaying any sociopathic tendencies yourself, you don't appreciate some guy coming along who nobody forced to play this game--a game that is 100% clear about its content and purpose on the box--and find him criticizing it for doing exactly what it says its going to do. I recognize that I'm the interloper here. Knights of Xentar was intended for a certain audience, and that audience probably appreciated what it got. It satisfies the same market as cheap 1980s sex comedies like Zapped! or Hardbodies: lots of nudity, and enough jokes and plot in between the nudity that you can plausibly claim that you're watching it for the comedy and the plot.

I also want to make it clear that I'm not coming down on the side of people who say that video games directly influence behavior. Plenty of studies have shown that playing violent video games doesn't make someone more violent, so why would I believe that playing video games that are at least a little insensitive about rape would affect the plight of any real women? I wonder sometimes if there are more subtle effects that the standard studies don't measure, but I don't have a strong opinion either way. It seems likely that video games, like all art and entertainment, affects attitudes, but it seems equally likely that video games, like all art and entertainment, could serve as an outlet for desires that might otherwise claim a real victim. I don't know.

In any event, this blog is about the mechanic and content of role-playing games, so that's what I write about. If a game is about dragons, I write about how it handles dragons. If it's combat heavy, I write about the combat mechanics. If it's primarily about sexual content, I write about my reactions to the sexual content. It would be absurd to cover a game like Knights of Xentar and not focus to some degree on the way it handles sex and nudity. I'm not interested in any more comments that suggest I'm "overanalyzing" or that I'm somehow worthy of ridicule for even discussing the primary content of the game.

If you don't agree with my analysis, fine. You might not agree with how I analyze dragons, either. All I can do is report on what I experienced and what I thought of it. I don't mind disagreement. What I mind is the amount of negativity, the amount of anger, the amount of ridicule, in that disagreement whenever I write about nudity or sex. If I say that a full-frontal shot at the end of the game is unnecessary and a poor substitute for real plot, and you disagree, you ought to feel about as angry as if I said I prefer red dragons to blue dragons. If not, consider that perhaps it's you, rather than me, who is over-invested in the issue. Maybe delay commenting until you can figure out why it bothers you so much in the first place.
In that spirit, here's what I can say about the sexual content in Knights of Xentar: Regardless of the intended humor or tone, I find many of the images creepy. The girls, to the extent that they look like people at all with their enormous eyes and bouffants, look child-like. They are often depicted in the throes of molestation by groups of men. The protagonist kills the molesters, which makes the game's ethics mildly superior to Rance's, but he then usually enjoys sex as a reward. I have never rescued a woman from sexual assault in real life, but I suspect that few of them are eager to immediately turn to sex to display their gratitude to their rescuers. Humor or not, as a player, I don't like the role-playing implications of that scenario.
I don't care how old the game says she is, this does not look like a sexually mature female.
As for the humor, I find that the jokes, never thigh-slappers in the first place, get old relatively fast. Desmond is universally presented as sexually insufficient, unspectacularly endowed, far more "vanilla" in his preferences than the women he encounters. But they still want to sleep with him, about one in every town, village, or hut. The occasional "small penis" joke can be funny. Eight "small penis" jokes in an hour--and I say this realizing that I'm a little "vanilla" myself here--just might be crossing the line into too many "small penis" jokes.
Ah, every man's fantasy.
Xentar is never content to simply let the joke be the joke. The dialogue has to go on forever and make its point with all the subtlety of a jackhammer. I'm going to make up this example because I didn't write it all down, but at one point Desmond rescues a woman who has been tied up by her attacker. A clever game would have Desmond defeat the enemy and then say, "Let me untie you!" to which the woman might reply, "Now, why would you do that?" Wink wink, fade to black, and we'd all get the idea. But Xentar handles it like this:
Desmond: "Let me untie you!"
Girl: "Now, why would you do that?"
Desmond: "Because you're tied up! Don't you want to be untied?"
Girl: "That depends what you're going to do with me."
Desmond: "I don't understand."
Girl: "Are you always this dense?"
Desmond: "Are you saying you want me to leave you in knots?"
Girl: "Only if you know how to tighten them."
Desmond: "What do you mean?"
On and on for a dozen more lines. The jokes never really end on a punchline; instead, they just kind of play out. I might chalk it up to cultural differences, but I had the impression that the western release was completely re-written by English-speakers.

That isn't to say that I haven't been laughing at all. Desmond's clueless comments are occasionally amusing. "Do you want it hard or soft?" he says during one sexual encounter, perhaps qualifying for the most inept dirty talk in history. Here's a guy responding to a request for directions:
But the good jokes are few and far between.
At the end of the last session, Desmond had been defeated by a wolf attacking a girl in a cabin. I leveled him up a few more times, tried again, and defeated the wolf. The girl naturally slept with Desmond as a reward, and offered her cabin should he find himself in the need of lodging again.

Continuing counter-clockwise around the game map, I next ran into the city of Dreadsden, where I got some minor item upgrades but not much else. Nearby, in yet another cabin, I found a woman being assaulted by seven dwarves (perversion of fairy tale classics is something of a theme with this game). The graphic that accompanied this, in which all seven of the dwarves managed to occupy themselves in one way or another, left me wanting to take a shower. 
Sorry about this, little guys.
I killed them. The woman introduced herself as Priscilla. She said that she lived in the cabin with the dwarves and normally they were friends, but an evil mage named Visel had cast a spell on them, making them lecherous. That made me feel bad about killing them, although Priscilla didn't seem to care. After sex (of course), she asked me to kill Visel, noting that I would have to get a magic marble from a hermit in Dreadsden to bypass the entrance to Visel's cave.
See, I feel like this crosses a line somehow.
I did as instructed, killed Visel in a long battle that took most of my healing potions, and got a "magic nut" from him. When I returned to Priscilla, she gave me a magic mirror.
The epic battle with Visel.
As I headed down to the next town, called Coventry, the random wilderness combats started to get a bit harder, both in quantity and quality. It gave me a chance to experiment a bit with the different settings. The game is somewhat unique in that it offers a "knowledge" setting for each enemy. Every time you face an enemy of that type, the percentage increases a bit. "Knowledge of the enemy's strengths and weaknesses" is one of the combat modes, and I've found that once your knowledge of an enemy passes 50%, the mode is extremely effective.

Otherwise, I've had the most luck with offense-heavy settings. It seems to burn my healing potions at the same rate as more defensive settings, but combats are over much more quickly. A lot of enemies have the ability to restore their own health a few times in the middle of combat, and a strong offense often prevents this.

In Coventry, I heard of a nearby demon named Tymm, who guards a passage east, and a knight named Arstein told me I could kill him with Priscilla's magic mirror. In the far southwest, by some cliffs, a well-meaning NPC assumed I was there to kill myself and suggested I visit some place called "Nero's Retreat" instead.
Buying weapon upgrades in town.
Moving east, I ran into Tymm but killed him immediately with the magic mirror. He'd been holding a woman named Marie captive; she seemed to know Desmond from a previous game. She rewarded him with sex.
The authors named him "Tymm" after presumably rejecting "Stievve" and "Fraynk."
Through Tymm's pass, I came to the city of Phoenix, where Dragon Knight II had been set. Desmond is apparently something of a celebrity there, with many of the buildings and other things named in his honor.
I get the idea.
I ran into a woman named Kate, who also appeared to know Desmond from the prior game. She immediately slept with him despite being married to someone named Pietro. Understand that all these encounters are scripted and do not give the player any options. You move near an NPC and you're committing adultery, role-playing be damned.
Pietro, I've got some bad news, buddy.
Most important, I ran into a brawny, horned man named Rolf who had apparently been a companion in a previous game. After some persuasion, he joined the party. I outfitted him with some extra items that I had. He frankly doesn't seem to make combat any easier; on the contrary, he's using far more healing potions than Desmond.
The game seems oddly fixated on pig gristle.
The second character's attack options are tracked separately from Desmond's, but I think the "knowledge" variable applies to both of us. There seems to be room for one more NPC. So far, neither Desmond nor Rolf have any items or options that would fit with the grayed-out magic menus at the bottom of the combat screen. I have managed to get Desmond to Level 26, where he was before he lost his levels in the scripted event early in the game.
The two friends take on some "evil sprites."
I don't find any of the RPG elements in Xentar particularly outstanding, but neither are they bad. The rapid leveling provides a constant sense of character improvement. I wish there was more to do in combat, but at least it has the virtue of brevity.

After I had written most of this material, a reader sent a manual, which I'd been unable to find, so I look forward to seeing if it explains some of these NPCs. I wouldn't mind if I could wrap this up in one more entry, but I'll give it at least two.

Time so far: 8 hours


  1. Not game-related, but post-related, someone shared the following with me earlier in the week:

    Mostly relevant portion: 'If we look at the text of the song, the woman gives plenty of indication that she wants to stay the night. At the time period the song was written (1936), “good girls,” especially young, unmarried girls, did not spend the night at a man’s house unsupervised. The tension in the song comes from her own desire to stay and society’s expectations that she’ll go.'

    It changed my mind about the song, though I admit I didn't think about it too often either.

    1. Thanks for linking that. That's pretty awesome. I'm going to bookmark that.

      Jesus, the comments, though. I thought MY commenters were sometimes bothersome on "PC" issues. Of COURSE the "response" part of the song is supposed to be female. What kind of man in 1944 was worried what his "maiden aunt" might think. What kind of a woman was seducing a man by calling him "beautiful" and complimenting his eyes and hair? Jesus. The idiocy that people can stoop to when they think they have some kind of a point to make.

    2. Ah yes, the world of unmoderated internet comments. A few minutes on Youtube or Facebook is enough to make you lose faith in humanity, especially when you realize that these people's vote is worth the same as yours.

    3. Precisely the kind of attitude that'll make 'such unworthy opinions', as Zardas implied them to be, stronger and stronger.

    4. Chet, I do apologise in advance for only commenting on your word usage, rather than engaging more properly with the discussion, but... I'd really appreciate it if you didn't use God's name as an expletive. I don't know whether you consider yourself religious or not, but that really doesn't matter - it's just common decency to not use something sacred to other people as a floor-rag. Particularly when... really, the English language is pretty rich, you can certainly find more creative exclamation mark words than "Jesus" :).

    5. In this context I read it as short for "Jesus help me." Is that bad form as well?

    6. A joke I saw on Reddit:

      Listening to "Baby, It's Cold Outside"

      SON: "Dad, these lyrics sure are an artifact of the past, huh?"

      DAD: "Well, it used to get cold outside."

  2. So next to experience for your character/party, you also gain knowledge against the monsters?
    Unless the monster hordes get larger during the game or there are mixed parties with trash mobs and bosses, that doesn't seem to make sense balancing wise.
    On the other hand, when i played KoX many years ago, I never had the feeling that the game had the intention to pose a challenge.

    1. So far, the challenge is mostly comes for the introduction of new monsters. As I explore new areas, I find plenty of enemies for whom I have no knowledge.

  3. I kind of want to play this game just to see where it falls in comparison to The Witcher on the gratuitous, accidental sex scale. (Though it sounds like virility-wise, Geralt is about as far from Desmond as you can get.)

    1. The Witcher feels like a juvenile hetero male power fantasy. It's cringe level cliche at so many moments. The low point has gotta be the trophies for bedding women - when one first flashed on my screen it was like I could feel the beard growing from my neck.

      Still looking forward to trying the third Witcher game on my new machine :-"

    2. Yeah, the first Witcher was really bad in this way... albeit funny in a silly way, what with the cutscenes and all. As soon as actual sex happened, the game suddenly became more American Pie than sexploitation IMO.

      The Witcher 3 is much better, more mature wrt sexual content IMO, and there's less of it relatively speaking.

  4. Well, everyone knows that European dragons are much more liberated than American dragons. See how they spread their wings? Now that's freedom.

  5. I watched the beginning of a Japanese playthrough of Dragon Knight III and then Knights of Xentar, and I can confirm that the dialogue is almost completely rewritten.

    Takeru (Desmond in the English version) doesn't stumble into town drunk, he's just a wandering adventurer with no goal in mind who stops in town to get food.

    After you save Mona from the bandits in the first town, she makes fun of the bandits for being stupid and ugly, and too poor to actually spend money in her bar. Then she tells you that they are always coming into town and doing mean things. The English version inserted this insane stuff about a demon and impregnating townspeople with "evil seed"; that's completely made up.

    There was basically nothing I could find that was actually translated from the Japanese, except for a few simple lines like "leave her alone".

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. That's interesting. What's the context of the sex scenes there? Do they make the same nonstop inane jokes?

    3. The only playthroughs I could find were of the PC Engine (Turbo Grafx 16) version, which cuts out the sex parts. I wanted to find the Priscilla scene above, but in the PCE version Takeru thinks he's been promised sex as a reward and closes his eyes while she "strips", but then she just takes off a sock and gives it to Takeru as a reward.

  6. Incidentally, any lines about the characters being over are 18 are almost certainly an addition by the English writers out of fear of legal trouble -- I looked at the Dragon Knight wikipedia page and there were no ages given for the characters, but I doubt they were intended to be over 18. Japan tends to be less concerned about that than most countries, especially if it's not a real person.

  7. "We should no more be encouraging rapists to find a supposedly safe outlet for it than we should facilitate murderers by giving them realistic, blood-spurting dummies to stab. To make such a solution available is to risk normalizing rape by giving it a publicly acceptable face."

    -- New York Times

    BTW it's only in the prudish West that it's 18 or older, in Japan it's completely normal to have sexual feelings for younger humans. It's cultural imperialism to judge other cultures by Eurocentric standards. Heck, this sort of thing is totally acceptable in liberal Hollywood, too. And you're going to be pretty messed up when you discover the original Seven Dwarves story...

    1. Your two paragraphs seemed at odds with each other, so I don't really understand what you're arguing. As for the quote, it's disingenuous to attribute it to "the New York Times." It was written by an op-ed contributor that the paper published. It's not like it came from the editorial board. As for the content of the quote, I'll believe it after I hear it from a social scientist who has conducted several double-blind studies. The author of that piece does not have the credentials to argue persuasively whether such "outlets" work or not. Would I want to be friends with somebody who plays rape games with his robot? No. But if they're shown to reduce actual occurrences of rape, I say give them a government subsidy.

      As for your second paragraph, I'll just say that there's a difference between having sexual feelings and actually having sex. Either way, the accusation of "cultural imperialism" bothers me less than you might think it does given my purported liberalism.

    2. Yeah, see, I get the feeling that women in Japan aren't lining up to defend the sexualisation of teen girls. Which makes it less cultural imperialism and more something else doesn't it?

    3. You're right, what the West needs is more sexbots and tentacle porn. Because the oldest population and the lowest birthrate on Planet Earth mean we won't have the Japanese to tut-tut about for much longer.

    4. Gentlemen, we can make valid points without being insulting and racist about it. ThirtyNine, in your case I think you reinforced JCS's point. No matter how unsettling you or I may consider aspects of Japanese erotica, clearly it doesn't translate to higher rates of sexual ASSAULT. At least in terms of reported rape, Japan is one of the lowest nations in the world.

      My own comments in the blog entry aren't meant to be utilitarian. Images of non sexually mature females engaged in sexual activity don't bother me because I think they lead to rape. They simply bother me on their own merits. "Then don't play the game" is the obvious reply, and a perfectly sensible one. If it wasn't for this list, I probably wouldn't.

    5. Hi addict,
      The debate of sex and Japan is a complicated one, as judging the likelihood of assault is completely divorced from statistics. Generally I think this is a difficult subject to discuss on this blog, but I don't think I can let your statement stand although you just mention it in passing.

      Comparing reported cases of sexual assault or child abuse between Japan and the rest of the world is futile as on the one hand what constitutes as abuse is very different and far worse the police in Japan are actively held to not investigate and actively pressure victims not to pursue any complaints. Think of a cross of a victim in a court case on SVU and replace the defenders lawyer with a police officer and you are close. The reasons are various, ranging from how society works to police KPIs, but that is probably too off topic for this blog.

      This has become a subject that is actively being raised by the few activist journalists in Japan due to a recent prominent case involving a friend of our prime minister.

      Discussing the impact of how we depicted sex based on Japanese crime statistics is like discussing the the doping rate in sports based on Lance Armstrong's test results.

      Hope this doesn't sound arrogant but it is a subject that hits in various ways close to home.

  8. So Chet, this game came out in 1991. "Juanita Broaddrick accuses Clinton of raping her in 1978; Kathleen Willey accuses Clinton of groping her without consent in 1993; and Paula Jones accuses Clinton of exposing himself to her in 1991 and sexually harassing her." [Wikipedia] Where were you in 1998 when Clinton was impeached? Because if you can impose your 2017 morality on 1991, surely you can impose it on yourself in 1998? Remember your pro-Hillary post last year, saying everyone who was not pro-Hillary should f off? Of course, right now, you would endorse a similar post that argued anyone who supported Clinton in 1998 should f off? Right?

    You do best as an archeologist, unearthing the past and illustrating how cRPGs developed over time. Your expertise is character generation and gameplay and UI and spells and combat. Most people come here to hear about games they never knew existed or they never got to play and how they introduced mechanics or ideas or whatever and influenced the course of cRPG development.

    A revealing post was when you mentioned Fallout 4, and how bummed you were to be admiring the scenery and get killed out of nowhere. There's a serious cognitive dissonance once games go beyond an accounting exercise and try to immerse the player in the world. Your actions aren't just deducting hit points from the slime, but cross over into things we feel have real moral consequences. I get it that you yearn for games that let us act out our best selves, be heroes, make grand sacrifices, and live for values we really believe in. I like that about you.

    But when you go back and check what happens if you accept the villain's offer to switch sides at the end of the game, you're curious. What if the game makes you a God with limitless power who can wander the open world doing whatever you want? If a game had done that, you would have said it was shocking and ahead of its time.

    The interesting games actually allow for a dark side. KOTOR, KOTOR 2, and Dragon Age are arguably some of the best ever, and what makes them great is that they allow for you to choose expediency or power fantasies over doing the right thing. But damned if I don't do a second playthrough making all kinds of wrong decisions to see "what happens". Am I a bad person for doing that? Doesn't that amount to saying, "well... how does the eroge plays out"? Are the programmers bad people for allowing it?

    If you would take a step back from analyzing the lawful good side of game development, there's another story: what is the role of chaotic/lawful/neutral evil in games, and how is it developed? What's the role of sex in games? How do you get from Wizardry to Tyranny, instead of Wizardry to Pillars of Eternity? The role of player agency is important. If we're forced to be heroes, it's about as interesting as what you're experiencing here or in Rance, forced to be a villain or at least a neutral evil opportunist. You're chaffing at being forced into role-playing a sexual opportunist, but later games are going to do things with sex and relationships. How is the trivial quid pro quo here that much different from the comparison of DA:O's combat to the "gift" system or Witcher's "cards"?

    UIs, mechanics, and narratives evolve, and your readers kind of expect you to have an open mind. The tension of good vs evil is at the core of what makes many games interesting. How did the (neutral/chaotic) evil side of games develop? How did the boundaries evolve? What's the line from juvenile wish fulfillment to a genuinely distressing scene where a desire demon offers you power or pleasure in exchange for a child's soul? There's other lines of development here to investigate critically.

    1. I'm not imposing my morality on anything. I'm describing my reactions to a game. Your idiotic opening paragraph assumes that said reaction composes my primary moral viewpoint, and that I should judge not only other people but apparently also their wives solely by that viewpoint, and that said judgment should outweigh all other aspects of public policy. If any of that was true, don't you think the many accusations of sexual assault against Donald Trump would have made up part of my arguments a year ago? But of course I didn't mention that at all in that entry. I focused on issues of policy.

      You have some thoughtful and insightful sentences in the rest of your comment, so I don't know why you chose to open it with such a moronic and insulting paragraph. It certainly didn't put me in a mood to engage you in on the rest of your thoughts.

    2. This made me lol

    3. It takes serious mental judo to work Hillary Clinton into this discussion.

    4. Just be honest. You were high as a kite when you wrote this.

    5. I honestly don't get why evil people are so easily offended. That doesn't really make sense, considering that they are used to much meaner behaviour.

    6. "Tell me your enemy, and I will tell you what you are. Tell me your hatred, and I will tell you your character. Do you hate religion? Then your conscience bothers you. Do you hate the wealthy? Then you are avaricious, and you want to be wealthy. Do you hate sin? Then you love God. Do you hate your hate, your selfishness, your quick temper, your wickedness? Then you are a good soul, for ‘if any man come to me… and hate not his own life, he cannot be my disciple’"

  9. A question about the game: does anything in the manual or introduction hint at the "humiliation" elements? I understand that that's a kink for some people, but I'd be surprised to see it as part of a game without the player getting a heads-up, since that tends to run contrary to the tone of most games.

    If it's truly out of nowhere, then based on the differences Kurisu noted above, my somewhat cynical wild-ass guess is that it might have been an uncomfortable English-speaking team taking a dig at the game and its players. ("Only a pathetic loser would play a sex game on his computer, hur hur.") Or maybe Desmond is supposed to be a "lucky loser" like the protagonist of Leisure Suit Larry, a "sexy game" with which English-speaking audiences would have been more familiar?

    In any case, thanks as always for digging into these obscure titles that many of us have never heard about and/or wouldn't get around to playing in any case. I'm sorry you're subjected to a frustrating comments section.

    1. Lucky loser is the usual male protagonist of a Japanese romance manga intended for younger male readers. I've never actually played an eroge but I wouldn't be surprised if that's true for them as well.

      I strongly suspect the "small dick" jokes and other insults were inserted by the English writers. Usually the "loser" protagonist of the Japanese manga is just socially awkward around girls and can't express his feelings. That kind of crass sexual humor is not common in Japanese stuff I've seen or read, but as I said I don't know if it's an eroge trope. I would doubt it.

    2. Sexual humiliation of multiple sorts is relatively common in pornographic japanese manga... to include small dick jokes. Now if you'll excuse me I'm gonna go watch some Dean Martin films to cleanse.

      Fun Fact: Dean Martin is one of the few people whose seduction rolls get easier the more HE imbibes!

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  11. Tbh the only thing I remember from Knights of Xentar is that I´ve played it ... and that´s kinda it ... I think there was a funny joke regarding some MacGuffin you find later .... but then again I played it in German so no idea if the dialogue is about as cringeworthy as the english one Oo

    Oh and since Controversial topics are in at the moment .. how the fudge can you prefer red over blue dragons?? I mean come on, a Blue Dragon at least could carry a coconut since they can flap their wings faster than 43 times per second .. gosh seriously, amateurs ...

    1. Oh, no way. No WAY, bro. You did NOT just go there! Frickin'...frickin' *blue* dragons, bro? I got two words for you:

      Mothaf***in' SMAUG, brah.

      Okay, that was, like, three words, but whatever, brah, red dragons are *classic* and, like, totally f***in' *powerful*. Yo, how many lightning-breathing sky snakes you read about in literature? See on TV? In movies? Besides, like, Skye or whatever from Dragonlance Chronicles, which was just TSR's frickin' dragon Affirmative Action series. We all know it.

      Name one, brah. I'll wait.

    2. Yeah, that's what I *thought*

      *drops mic*

    3. #BlackDragonLivesMatter

    4. Pffft I like my Dragon Colors before they become cool and Mainstream ... ever heard of Bleen Dragons? Thought so *takes a sip out of his 50$ starbucks cramelsiruppchino*

    5. #BreathAttackedMeToo

    6. "Mothaf***in' SMAUG, brah."

      Smaug wasn't red. Try golden.

      (although that may have been from passin' out in a gold-addled dreamsleep on a pile of the stuff for a couple centuries, and tossing and turning a lot in his sleep, so the coins kinda stuck)

    7. Yes but Golden Dragons Migrate from Europe to Africa in Winter there´s no way that he could carry a Coconut. Tsssk.

  12. "Pours out a 40 on the curb for my homie Ancalagon"

    1. That's some black humour if I ever heard it!

  13. > The graphic that accompanied this, in which all seven of the dwarves managed to occupy themselves in one way or another, left me wanting to take a shower.

    Damn you now part of me wants to see that image while other part is saying hell no! x)

    1. “He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster . . . when you gaze long into the abyss the abyss also gazes into you”
      ― Friedrich Nietzsche

      Baldur's Gate was warning all of us. We needed only to listen, alas.

  14. I mean c'mon guys, unless it's seven dwarf's, one shower required.

    1. It is seven dwarf, one tankard.

    2. Tankards full of golden showers?

      ...I'm just gonna show myself out then...

  15. I think with all the political polarization out there recently people tend to seize on anything that might have a political valence and react to it. And you did previously indicate a side shortly before the election, so people are projecting all the things they expect from that side onto your review even if they don't actually fit in every case.

  16. Just to save everyone time wading through the multitude of covers, the BEST version of "Baby It's Cold Outside" is by Johnny Mercer and Margaret Whiting. :-)

  17. I get why you don't like the humour in the game, it *is* really stupid - conversely, that's precisely why I like it.

    I have to thank you for your opening paragraph this time.

    What you feel about that song is exactly how I feel about this game. Yes, there are adult themes in it, but it all feels so harmless at the same time that it's jarring that some people can attribute malice to it, although, after reading some differing points of view last time, I can certainly understand why some would do that.

    I still think that, at least the western writers, did not intend to make a perverse game. I may be wrong, of course, but this is what I believe.

  18. Sorry for the double post, I forgot to say that there's a reason all the girls want to sleep with Desmond, and it's revealed near the end.

    I nearly fell out of my chair laughing, it's probably the best joke in the game. It's not even a dirty joke, it's barely risqué.

    Humour is very subjective, of course, but I'd be surprised if you wouldn't at least give a light chuckle at it.

  19. Once upon a time, I look to this blog for insight on retro RPGs from a bald wine-aficionado.

    Some might even call my reading of this blog as an innocent albeit childish endeavour. But the extremist comments. Seriously, WTF? I get that writing can seem much more heated and impassioned but daaaaammmnnn...

  20. You wrote that you'd chalk the difference up to cultural differences but the translation was done by Westerners. But it is still cultural differences in that the past is a foreign country. This was a time where many such games were written by people who you weren't convinced had ever had sex themselves. Crude and immature sexual humor abounded... Beavis and Butthead had a little bit of basis in reality that they wouldn't now.

    This wasn't too long after stuff like Custer's last stand and a bunch of similar really bad titles were out there. Porn and sex wasn't as out there in the open... people used the Sears Catalog for erotic purposes ffs. A lot of jokes back then seem really rapey now. There's a reason there aren't remakes of Leisure Suit Larry.

    Point is sometimes one can forget how long ago this was, or you look back on this time and forget a lot of little things and it's easy to assume the early 90's were very similar to today. But the modern USA probably has more in common with modern Japan than it does with early 90's USA.

    Most of the time that doesn't apply on this blog, because we're talking about fantasy worlds. But once in a while you'll cover a title like this where the social mores of the time come out and I think, wow, things really were pretty different back then.

    This isn't a defense or condemnation of this or even Rance. It just shows the kind of sexual immaturity of the time where games like those were somewhat mainstream as opposed to hidden on niche websites like they are today.

    Mostly this game and its immature, early 90's gaming approach to sex gave me a sudden sense of the passage of time and how much things have changed for better or worse. I'm in my 50's now... I get hit with that feeling too often these days.

    1. Your points are well-taken. There are a lot of sexual jokes and "hijinks" in American movies of the period that would never pass muster today, including pretty much everything the nerds do in Revenge of the Nerds. Everyone thought it was hilarious at the time.


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