Sudeki- Why Do I Like This Game?

Sudeki is an… interesting game. My brother got it for his Xbox back in about 2004/2005, and since then I’ve played it- a lot. So many times, in fact, that I know every single bit of dialogue (not even an exaggeration), and every item you need for every quest. Even back then, I knew it wasn’t a great game, but I couldn’t stop playing it.

Ye old Xbox has long since died. So when I saw Sudeki for cheap on Steam, I knew I had to get it, for nostalgia’s sake if nothing else. At this stage I hadn’t played the game for about eight or nine years.

It was almost exactly as I’d remembered- except the PC version is unbelievably shit. Most of the time, when games are ported to different systems, the gameplay mechanics are slightly changed to fit in with the system’s capability. Not so with Sudeki– the X and A buttons used for combat is changed to right-click and left-click on the mouse, which can be slightly clunky for doing combos with your melee characters, and the menu buttons are assigned to seemingly random letters on the keyboard. And the graphics, while never mindblowing in the first place, look absolutely terrible on my computer.

Lazy port aside, I really enjoyed playing Sudeki again.

Sudeki is set in the city of Ilumina, which is in the land of Haskilia, which is the land of Sudeki, which is in the land of Omnia. Bear with me. Haskilia is under attack by soldiers from a land called Akloria, which we find out later is actually an alternate universe. Bear with me.

The story starts off simply- Tal, a young knight, is tasked with a cross-country trip to save the scantily-clad Princess of Ilumina, named Ailish. Oh male gaze, how I missed you while I was playing Dragon Age: Inquisition (seriously, the women in Sudeki legitimately wear next to nothing. Bear with me).

On a side note, Ailish is a sorceress/mage/magic user, and she is awesome in combat. This is one of the few games where I prefer ranged combat to melee.

Once you’ve saved Princess Ailish, you head back to Ilumina, and once you’re there you’re treated to the game’s weirdest dialogue exchange, in which Tal tells Ailish that she “wasn’t right to come along” and that they’d both get back home before they got in trouble. Huh? What? But… that whole first quest was about you saving Ailish, Tal. How was she “not right to come along”? How could you possibly get in trouble for doing what you were ordered to do and bringing the Princess home safe? I just… what? I’ve never understood this exchange.

I think they may have originally had a different storyline sorted for this part of the game, so they animated and recorded this first before signing off on the final storyline- even the graphics are a little bit worse than usual. Then they were like “fuck it, leave it in, no one will notice!” Well, noticed, Climax Studios*. I noticed.

After this, you are sent on your main quest- to find crystals for a crystal-powered machine that supposedly creates a giant shield, or something; it’s unclear. Either way, the crystals are meant to protect Ilumina and you are meant to find them. Accompanying you are two other party members: Elco, the chief science officer who is in charge of creating and running the crystal machine; and Buki, an anthropomorphic cat-woman who kinda just got caught up in this mess and is now along for the ride.

Buki is your “strong woman” archetype who takes shit from no one and is generally badass, though she gets the worst weapons and most revealing outfits. I never liked having her as my “main” character for that reason- you can literally see her ass. I know this game is marketed to teenage boys, but still- I think the reasoning for putting Buki in the game (personality-wise, at least) went a bit like this: “See, we have a strong female character now! That makes it OK that we can literally see every female NPC’s nipples through their shirts right? Right??” Sigh.

Elco, on the other hand, is an excellent character. He starts off being the typical “straight man” of the group, trying to keep everyone on task, but he becomes so much more than that. He’s flawed, he’s complex, and his voice actor takes the game’s ridiculous dialogue and manages to make it somehow less cringe-worthy. Did I mention the dialogue in this game is bad? It’s really bad.

Anyway, Elco is great and has the best weapons. Paired with his special ability that increases attack damage, he is basically unstoppable.

Eventually, you succeed in finding all the crystals needed for the machine, but along the way you manage to get into the weirdest situations. While collecting the crystal at anthropomorphic animal/racist tribe land, Shadani-Mo, you’re sucked into a portal that takes you to the Realm of Shadows, which is the game’s version of the Underworld. After managing to escape from there, you go to collect another crystal just to get sucked into another portal- bear with me- this time to *gasp* Akloria.

The characters meet their alternate selves, who all have different accents for some reason- Kazel (alternate Tal), Alexine (alternate Ailish), Nico (alternate Buki), and Cafu (alternate Elco). Then we’re treated to another weird exchange, in which Kazel calls Haskilians “Hakarians”. Please clean up your continuity errors before releasing your games, Climax.

Anyway, time for a special twist! Turns out you Haskilians have been the bad guys the whole time. Queen Lusica of Haskilia doesn’t intend on using the crystals to protect the land, but instead wants to use them to make herself immortal. Apparently Mr. Science didn’t see that one coming. You sure that never came up as a possibility in your research, Elco? In using the crystals, Haskilia has managed to suck all the light out of Akloria, causing people to go crazy and somehow teleport into Haskilia without explanation in order to attack them. Bear with me.

In a surprise double-twist, Lusica is being influenced by a mysterious man from Akloria, Lord Talos, who intends on killing her and making himself immortal in the process. And that’s exactly what he does. Hint: he’s the final boss.

I thought the twist(s) was surprisingly well done, given that the rest of the story is pretty simple. I think that’s one of the things I like about this game- it’s simple, it’s fun, and it doesn’t get hung up on trying to explain absolutely everything (although, as you’ve read, it’s caused some serious plot holes).

The gameplay is a lot of fun and, although clunky and cringey at times, some of the dialogue is genuinely funny. So while it may not be a groundbreaking, amazing game, I still really, really enjoy it. For me, it’s the game I play when I want a break from more intense games. I’d recommend it for anyone wanting a few hours of fun gameplay without having too much investment.

 

*Why am I not surprised the studio is named “Climax”? Sigh.

Advertisements

Review: The Disaster Artist by Greg Sestero

Ah, The Room; the cult film once described as “the Citizen Kane of bad movies”, while watching it was “like being stabbed in the head”. Everyone’s heard of it, and if you haven’t, I can only assume it’s because you don’t get good reception under that rock.

The Room is quite possibly the best worst movie ever made. The “plot”- such as it is- centres around a “young” man named Johnny, played by Tommy Wiseau- who was also the director, writer, and executive producer- whose fiancee Lisa cheats on him with his best friend, Mark.

The dialogue makes no sense, the scenes are disjointed and unrelated, the acting is ridiculous, and plot points are brought up and never mentioned again. It’s easy to think that the entire movie was just a huge joke- until you read The Disaster Artist by Greg Sestero.

Sestero, who plays Mark in the film, met Tommy Wiseau in an acting class in 1998, and was immediately intrigued by his acting style- that is, his strange inflections and amazing ability to mispronounce every single word in the English language. While his accent sounds like a weird amalgamation of different European accents, he insists he’s from New Orleans.

This is just one of the many strange and fascinating things about Tommy Wiseau. His love for the United States is so huge he’s willing to forget his entire life before he moved there, and insists he’s a born-and-bred American- a “ragin’ Cajun”, as he tried to convince everybody during the marketing for The Room.

Sestero, in spite of himself, is drawn to this strange man, and decides to approach him about doing a scene together for their class. Wiseau accepts, and so they embark on one of the strangest friendships known to man.

The Disaster Artist covers their friendship from the first meeting all the way to the premiere of The Room five years later. Wiseau is an egotistical, volatile, and temperamental man who is deluded about his acting abilities, and Sestero manages to provide insight into his friend’s behaviour without defending or apologising for it. Sestero is under no illusions about what Wiseau is like, and he doesn’t go out of his way to make him seem better (or worse) than he is. It’s a refreshing perspective; it’s like he’s saying, “Here’s my friend- this is what he’s like, make of it what you will.”

One thing that Sestero admires about Wiseau is his earnestness. He’s set on becoming an actor and truly believes that’s his destiny. When writing The Room, he approaches the challenge with childlike delight, convinced he’s writing a masterpiece. He celebrates every small achievement as if they’re Earth-shattering. At the premiere of The Room, his eyes fill with tears as he sees his dream come to life.

That moment is where the book ends. We don’t get to read about the audience’s initial reactions to the film or how they affected Wiseau. As fascinating (and probably heartbreaking) as that would be, I feel that the book ended in the right place. Wiseau is the ultimate example of never giving up, and never giving in.

For all these admirable qualities, this is Wiseau we’re talking about. For those who aren’t aware of his batshit crazy interviews, this man has a tendency to blow up at the tiniest thing, leaving everyone in his wake wary and confused. This happens multiple times in the book, including one instance of Wiseau emotionally tormenting Sestero just to get a reaction out of him. In his mind, this behaviour is a perfectly acceptable way to find out if Sestero truly wants to be his friend.

You have to admire Greg Sestero’s patience. Even reading about some of the things Wiseau did left me emotionally exhausted. It’s true what Sestero said, that their friendship was the most human thing that had happened to Wiseau- most people would have pulled away from him, and no doubt most people had.

While it provides hilarious anecdotes about the making of one of the worst films in history, The Disaster Artist is ultimately a tale of friendship, equal parts heartwarming and frustrating. Plus, it’s really, really funny. It’s currently being made into a movie starring James Franco as Wiseau and Dave Franco as Sestero. I would definitely recommend giving this book a read- you’ll probably have as hard a time putting it down as I did. It’s the Citizen Kane of good books.