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‘Octopath Traveler’s’ Take on Party Interaction is a Breath of Fresh Air

Octopath Traveler’s storytelling and lack of party interaction has been characterized as a flaw. Here’s why it actually works quite well.

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I knew JRPGs were my favorite types of games from the moment I received my first Pokemon in Pallet Town and struck out on what would become the longest journey of my short video game-playing career. I loved the excitement of racing with friends in Mario Kart 64, the platforming wonder of Banjo-Kazooie, and even solving the clever little puzzles in Spy Fox (isn’t that a throwback!). However, nothing was quite like the feeling of pure adventure and excitement that I got from traveling around a huge world with my trusty companions by my side.

As a rather introverted only child, I grew up playing games largely by myself. Sure, I had a few friends from school, but we rarely got together to play games until my preteen years. Because of this, gaming in my younger years was characterized by two things: 1) Tons of single-player experiences, and 2) Creating my own narratives and character relationships to keep myself occupied.

Over a decade later, Octopath Traveler is facing scrutiny for encouraging players to create their own inter-party storylines and interactions. As someone who used to do that for fun, going back to it has been nothing short of a joy. But why might this be such a major issue for people?

octopath traveler JRPGsOctopath is more a collection of short stories than a traditional “Let’s band together and save the world!” type of JRPG. Instead of having players go through each of these tales separately, however, Square Enix opted to let players form a party of the individual protagonists and travel around the massive game world together. There’s little explanation given for them teaming up outside of short introductions (“I’m having this issue, it’s really tough. Really? You’re willing to help me?”) and (later on) context-specific snippets of travel banter. Otherwise, the fact that you have eight (four at a time) companions traveling together is never really explained until the very final boss.

Many have cited this as a disappointment or glaring flaw of the game, and understandably so; it’s a particularly unusual trait in modern games, especially JRPGs. Personally, though, I loved being encouraged to use my imagination and create mini storylines and character relationships on my own. For me, the crew coming together was as simple as people running into each other, asking for help to overcome a major battle, and then each person in their respective town deciding to leave and travel together for safety. Along their travels they grow as friend and as a team, happy to help each other as long as they get assistance with their personal goals in return.

The battle system itself is built on a strong foundation of teamwork and further drives home why the crew would grow closer over time. Primrose constantly dances to buff other party members, Olberic takes hits for his comrades when their health is too low, and Alfyn tends to the wounded as quickly as he can. These are just examples from my party, but there are tons of different combinations and little character traits players can expound upon throughout their travels.

octopath

I used the word “encouraged” and not “forced” earlier because the game does a good job of setting the stage for player creativity and experimentation. The vision for the game is to both tell stories on a much smaller scale and give the player loads of choice in how they interact with those deeply personal narratives. Want to complete all eight “Chapter One’s” before moving on? Get stuck at a particularly tough boss and decide you want to challenge another? Or maybe you’re like me and decided to go through with four characters before picking up and experiencing the stories of the other four. The amount of player choice is staggering here.

Due to its incredibly non-linear nature and emphasis on intimate storylines, it’s only natural that the creative team wasn’t able to make separate story sequences for every party eventuality in every chapter of each of the eight stories. Far from a disappointment, however, Octopath took the opportunity to allow the imaginations of players run wild.

Fond of Tressa like myself and want to mess with her wholesome character by making her adopt a life of crime with a secondary Thief class? You can do that. Think it’d be hilarious (or sweet) if Olberic took up a Dancer class in an attempt to get closer to Primrose? Hey, go for it. These options might sound silly outside of strengthening your party, but they do provide value in terms of allowing more room for self-made character interactions.

octopath traveler

It’s so often that we’re presented with the full narrative of a game to take in passively. Recent cut scene/lore-heavy JRPGs like Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and Ni No Kuni 2 do such a great job of laying everything out for the player (Xenoblade 2 even including special character dialogue moments throughout the world) that there’s never any need for players to add their own spin to a character. There’s nothing wrong with story-heavy JRPGs like this if their characters are done well, but what Octopath provides is an opportunity for players to flex those old creative muscles and form a closer bond with their favorite characters. Octopath has stayed true to its retro JRPG framework, and this is no exception.

Brent became infatuated with manga and anime after randomly stumbling upon Vol. 3 of Yu Yu Hakusho on a childhood roadtrip. Today he has a soft spot for colorful JRPGs, cozy anime, and both games and shows that indulge his innate love of adventure. Find him (im)patiently waiting for Animal Crossing: New Horizons and incredibly fulfilled by Fire Emblem: Three Houses @CreamBasics.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Blake GeFellers

    August 7, 2018 at 7:37 am

    This is a great way to look at the situation that I hadn’t thought of before. I love the game, but not the story as a whole, and find the party awkward. But I love each character individually.

    Great article!

    • Brent Middleton

      August 7, 2018 at 10:34 am

      Thanks for reading Blake! Glad I was able to get my thought process across well enough. I know the story structure is off-putting to a lot of people, and it definitely took me by surprise when I first learned about it too.

      Wholeheartedly agree that the characters are great!

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Watch the Trailer for ‘The Mandalorian’ the First Live-Action ‘Star Wars’ Series

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Thanks to the arrival of the D23 Expo, Disney has revealed the first trailer for its long-awaited Star Wars original series, The Mandalorian.

Created by Jon Favreau (Iron Man), the series is set after the events of Return of the Jedi and follows Pedro Pascal as a mysterious, gun-slinging Mandalorian bounty hunter who navigates the seedier side of the Star Wars universe.

Along with Pedro Pascal, The Mandalorian stars Gina Carano, Nick Nolte, Giancarlo Esposito, Emily Swallow, Carl Weathers, Omid Abtahi, Werner Herzog, and Taika Waititi. The first season of episodes will be directed by filmmakers like Dave Filoni, Taika Waititi, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rick Famuyiwa, and Deborah Chow.

the mandalorian trailer

Here’s the official description of The Mandalorian:

After the stories of Jango and Boba Fett, another warrior emerges in the Star Wars universe. The Mandalorian is set after the fall of the Empire and before the emergence of the First Order. We follow the travails of a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy far from the authority of the New Republic.

The Mandalorian begins streaming on Disney+ on November 12, 2019.

Check out The Mandalorian trailer below.

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Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’ Soundtrack Gets a Vinyl Release

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While we don’t publish music news or music reviews here at Goomba Stomp, we are huge fans of vinyl and since we cover film, we figured this announcement would interest some of our readers.

Back in 2017, Jordan Peele’s Get Out topped our list of the best films of 2017 and while the year isn’t yet over, there’s a good chance his follow-up Us, will land somewhere on our best of the year list as well. There are many reasons why we love Peele’s ambitious sophomore film including for the suspense, cinematography, performances, and direction, but one thing that doesn’t get enough praise is the soundtrack by Michael Abels. And if you like us, love the original score, you’re going to love this bit of news.

After giving his Get Out soundtrack a vinyl release last year, Jordan Peele is now doing the same for the soundtrack to Us.

WaxWork Records announced the news earlier today and if you’re planning on buying a copy, you don’t have to wait since it is now available to purchase through the label’s website.

The soundtrack, which received a digital release earlier this year, features composer Michael Abels’ score, in addition to songs from Janelle Monáe, Minnie Ripperton and the “Tethered Mix” of Luniz’s “I Got 5 on It” that appeared in the film’s first trailer. The album artwork was created by illustrator Edward Kinsella and features an interactive die-cut mirror board back cover, a heavyweight art print and an exclusive essay from UCLA Professor, scholar, and activist Shana L. Redmond Ph.D.

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Trailer for the Twisted Dark Comedy thriller ‘Villains’

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Alter has released the first poster and the official trailer for Villains, the upcoming dark comedy thriller which stars Bill Skarsgård (IT) and Maika Monroe (It Follows) as a couple who rob a gas station and scores enough cash to start a new life in Florida. Unfortunately for them, their getaway plans turn upside down and the young couple end up stumbling on much more than they bargained for.

Villains hits theaters on September 20th and was written and directed by Dan Berk and Robert Olsen. In addition to Skarsgard and Monroe, the movie also stars Jeffrey Donovan and Kyra Sedgwick. It’s co-produced by Bron Studios, Star Thrower Entertainment, Creative Wealth Media Finance, and The Realm Films. You can watch the trailer for Villains below.

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Beanie Babies: The Collectables with Heart

Toys We Love Spotlight

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For our Toys We Love Spotlight, I’m looking at one of my personal favourites: Beanie Babies. I had collected so many of these growing up, and households worldwide in the 90s and early 2000s were sure to have at least one Beanie Baby in their possession (was it even the 90s if they didn’t?). These plushie companions were cute, cuddly, and collectable, so it’s not a surprise that the Beanie Babies craze swept the globe, forcing parents and toy collectors everywhere to dig into their wallets.


Beanie Babies had a few aspects to them that made them stand out from your average plushie. Firstly, they did not have as much stuffing as most soft toys. Whilst some thought that this made them look cheap, it also made them light, posable, and gave them a realistic feel and look. The bear Beanie Babies were particularly good to pose, and this set them apart from run-of-the-mill teddy bears. Another element that made Beanie Babies more unique was their special tag. Each toy had a tag attached which had the toy’s name, date of birth, and a quotation etched inside. The former was something that could have been a risky choice, as although it wasn’t completely taking away the child’s choice of name — there was nothing stopping them from just calling their Beanie whatever they wanted — a pre-selected name can be difficult to sell, as kids can often take great pride and pleasure in naming their toys.

It was a great success, however, and worked as a nice finishing touch for the Beanie Babies, adding a dash of personality and flair (something much needed in the often critically over-saturated soft toy market), as well as making each Beanie Baby feel like their own creature with their own little stories. Adding to that was the wide variety of animals that were available, such as Tiny the Chihuahua, Pegasus the Unicorn or Swampy the Alligator. This means that the desires of each individual child or enthusiastic collector could be catered to (I myself favoured the dogs and bears).

The puppies were my Beanie Baby of choice. They were all such good boys and girls.

The Beanie Babies also had their own way of tackling difficult issues in society, showing them to kids through the guise of a soft toy. I’ll give you an example through my own experience: I had a Beanie Baby that (as odd as it may sound) gave me more of an understanding of the horrors of September 11th. Weird, right? Allow me to explain. I was only just nine years old on that now-historical day when the twin towers in New York were attacked and so many innocent people lost their lives. I had come home from school (it was afternoon time here in the UK when it happened), and I remember my mum watching it on television in complete shock. She had watched the whole thing whilst I’d been at school.

I didn’t really understand what was happening to be honest. Even when I was watching the repeats of the plane crashing into the side of the tower, I was somewhat oblivious the gravity of the situation (though as a nine year old child, I suppose I could be forgiven for that). The news continued to report the tragedy for a long time, and my school held assemblies to discuss the matter. I knew people had died, and that made me very sad, but I remember thinking that people died all the time, so why was this one incident reported on so much? About a month or so after, TY released three Beanie Babies as a tribute to those lost during 9/11. One of these was a Dalmatian Beanie Baby called Rescue, and I wanted him the moment I saw him, not really knowing the true nature of his purpose. My mum obliged happily, knowing what he represented. I remember taking my little Dalmatian with the red collar and American flag on his leg home and reading his tag. It read:

To honor our heroes
who lost their lives in the
national catastrophe that
took place on September 11, 2001.
We mourn for them and express our
deepest sympathy to their families.
God Bless America

Rescue the Dalmatian was joined by America the Bear and Courage the German Shepherd. The Beanies were a set of three released to honor those who perished in the tragedy of 9/11.

I found Rescue in my room recently, and the memories flooded back to me upon reading it again. I remember looking into all the acts of heroism and bravery after reading Rescue’s tag, and that’s when the situation really hit home to me. I looked into the stories of firefighters and first responders and those who had died, as well as all the search-and-rescue dogs attempting to save people among the chaos. As a child, it can be hard to see past your immediate opinion and truly consider the sheer weight of a situation, but with Rescue’s help, I was able to see just how this event was indeed very different to anything I had ever seen before, and how serious it was. It was the first time I felt like I was thinking like a grown up. I looked at the world differently from then on — obviously as I got older, but also from my ability to think harder and search deeper. Honestly, I don’t know if I would have even bothered if it wasn’t for Rescue reminding me of exactly how much was lost on that day.

Rescue, perhaps the goodest and bravest boy of them all.

Beanie babies will forever be ingrained in culture. They are still bought, sold and collected even now and will remain a timeless staple of most of our childhoods. They certainly are for me. Especially you Rescue, the bravest firefighting Dalmatian the world has ever known.

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‘Shenmue III’ Gamescom Trailer Details a Day in the Life of Ryo

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The original Shenmue games pioneered the open world genre, in part through their inclusion of many different minigames and side activities. The Kickstarter-funded Shenmue III looks to continue that legacy, as developer Ys Net and publisher Deep Silver have debuted a new trailer at Gamescom 2019 entitled “A Day in Shenmue.”

The developers provided the following description of the trailer via their latest Kickstarter update: “Exploring the town, playing minigames and battling! We hope it feels just how a Shenmue day should!” Sure enough, the footage showcases the series protagonist Ryo participating in a number of minigames, such as a boxing game and a pachinko machine. The end of the trailer also includes a good look at the series’ signature kung fu combat.

Beyond the new trailer, the Kickstarter update also noted that Yu Suzuki, the famed creator of Shenmue, will be present at Gamescom for autograph signings.

After numerous delays, Shenmue III will finally launch on November 19, 2019 for PS4 and PC via the Epic Games Store.

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Goomba Stomp is the joint effort of a team of like-minded writers from across the globe. We provide smart readers with sharp, entertaining writing on a wide range of topics in pop culture, offering an escape from the usual hype and gossip. We are currently looking for Film, TV, Anime and Comic writers.

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