It’s all over but the shouting now. If you’ve managed to build a party that could reach this far into the final dungeon of The After Years, you’ve gotten everything on lockdown. Time to wrap up what has been one of the most bizarrely drawn-out sequels in the franchise, which is saying something when there are only three games in the franchise that have had actual, direct sequels at all.
The problem I have, of course, is that there are really two stories being told through the game. The first is the overarching plot regarding the Mysterious Girl, the Crystals, and so forth. That’s about 50% interesting and 50% rehashes. The second, though, are the individual stories with bits of character development and so forth. For reasons known only to the designers, the conclusion basically abandons those individual stories altogether, despite the fact that the individual tales sort of left them halfway to being finished. Instead of bulking out this conclusion with those smaller resolutions, well, you read the last column. It was bulked out with 20-odd bosses.
If I were asked to list things from my younger days that would be coming back as I pass through the early years of my 30s, The X-Files would not have been on that list. But here we are with talk about a revival floating around, which doesn’t seem like a terribly good idea but may very well be a thing that happens anyway. And that would possibly mean video games, something that the franchise has yet to pull off.
Just like compelling mythology arcs or decent feature films or spin-offs, if you want to be glib.
There were two games based on the show, and both suffered from fairly poor reviews; the first was functionally a mildly interactive movie, the second was a short shot to a Resident Evil clone that was plagued with an obtuse camera and overly complicated puzzles. But neither one is entirely to blame in this particular situation. The X-Files is a really hard show to make a decent game out of. Or a decent feature film, or comic, or sequel, or…
All right, I’m not using that joke again.
The weird thing about a lot of Japanese video game genres is how the fans who want to make more of them want to make the same exact sorts of games you got in Japan. Don’t get me wrong, the visual novel/dating sim sort of game never really took root in America, it’s a uniquely Japanese genre. But instead of taking that framework and making something new out of it, it seems like the fans making new games in the genre are just… making games that are trying their hardest to be Japanese games, complete with cultural references and behaviors and the like.
I bring all of this up because I am relatively certain that the developers behind Sunrider Academy are not located in Japan. Not entirely certain, but there are little bits and pieces hither and yon that suggest the game was made by enthusiastic fans emulating Japanese games rather than people just making a game about what they saw/experienced/etc. That isn’t a negative verdict right off the bat, though, just a piece of the puzzle. As it turns out, the rest of the puzzle fits together decently.