Battlecats #2 Begins the Quest
If you’ve ever played a Japanese RPG from the 90’s, you know the drill. You probably know it by heart at this point since, even today, tropes seem to be immortal beings.
You start off knowing pretty much just the basics in terms of the answers relating to the “who?”s, “what?”s and, more importantly, the “why?”s of anything happening onscreen – in other words “not nearly enough”. As far as you’re aware, you are commandeering a team of three to five characters doing something important that might or might not pertain to saving the world. You could be mercenaries about to destroy a village of innocent peoples or knights trying to defend the world from the power of the crystals. The only thing you’re sure of is people say this game is good. And there are both magic and guns. A winning combination in your eyes.
Plays Out Like An RPG
A random text screen after the word-less cutscene that showcases the power of the console – if the game had enough memory to have an actual introduction rather than leaving the heavy work to a single paragraph in the instruction booklet – told you the primer of your quest: go to this particular place that holds no significance to you whatsoever and slay this arbitrary creature who you’ve never seen. Why? Because an important figure of authority commanded you to, that is all you need to know. You get thrown into the adventure of a lifetime without even knowing what the point of it all is.
Eventually, after, say, ten minutes of gameplay, where you have been killing monsters willy-nilly without receiving nary a scratch, suddenly a being of visually humongous power appears before you. The text says it’s the creature you were hired to slay. You attack with confidence but your opponent’s life points are so huge they cannot be counted with Arabic numerals, they’re Roman numerals – and they are not going down. Every action coming from your team, albeit looking flashy and taking up seconds upon seconds of unskippable cutscenes, do absolutely no damage to your opponent.
You get desperate. “What’s going on? Did I break the game? I feel so powerless!” is what the game wants you to think at this point. “Oh. So, this is the game’s final boss. I’m about to get beaten, aren’t I?” is what you actually say inside your head. The huge-ass red moon hovering over the set piece kind of gave it away. The text reading “The red moon is powering up ???? beyond measure!” sealed the deal.
Sure enough, the celestial being that, as of right now, looks like a handsome 25-year-old, does as much as breathe on you, and every single member of your party faints instantly. Black screen. Sad music. Transition.
It’s at this point where the actual game starts. All of your weapons and skill points are nowhere to be seen. You are now a level 1 wannabe hero. Everything hurts you. MP is limited. Monsters, even the weak-looking slimes, pose a threat. This is the actual “beginners’ path” of the game. You’re walking it. There’s no going around it. Time to grind your way to level 8 in order to become a better hero, until, eventually, you will face some sort of attack dinosaur or overgrown skeleton with swords. They will look fierce. But they’ll be way beneath you in terms of level.
Fantasy RPG Tropes Present and Accounted For
Battlecats #2 is that part of the RPG. “The Beginners’ Stretch” – where you know who is who and what they do, but the story doesn’t really move forward. Not really the most enthralling or exciting, but the necessary evil to advance the story. Although the majority of this issue’s pages have been splashed on with dynamic fight panels, it is, in the grand scheme of things, a boat full of nothing. But it’s the boat full of nothing we need to get us from point A to point B.
This is the issue where everyone licks their wounds for the first time and the story takes a standstill. We cannot blame the creative team behind it for doing this. They are simply following the tropes and constrains of the genre they chose.
But, can we please have a redesign on the female cat faces? Because most of the time they look like donuts someone sat on. And that is not really nice to look at.
You can grab your copy of Battlecats #2 directly from Mad Cave Studios or your local comic book store.
How did we rate Battlecats #2? 4 Sodas
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Born (unwittingly) on the same day that the original Back To The Future takes place, Taylor has always been marked by storytelling tropes and popular culture. Wether the relationship is one-sided or not is up for debate.