And now, a brief comic break.
.hack is a great series if…
- You read/play/watch everything.
- You read/play/watch everything in quick succession before you forget.
- If you are not at one of the $%&*(#&$(^&*^% parts.
I’ve played the games. I’ve read some of the manga and light novels, watched part of the anime. And if you ask me how to summarize the story, it would turn out something like this:
Seriously, .hack is the definition of All There in the Manual. A bunch of comatose people, old epic poems, characters who hide who they truly are… it’s all very confusing. The series needs A Dummy’s Guide to help book of the Cliff Notes version. It’s that complicated.
I first discovered .hack at my local Suncoast, shortly after they started stocking games. I still remember seeing .hack//Infection behind the counter, locked in the case. “Anime DVD included!” it said. Well, that was a game going after my heart. I went to Suncoast often, but I think I ended up putting the DVD I was going to buy back so I could get the game.
And then I started watching a bit of .hack//SIGN on Cartoon Network. Piece of advice: DO NOT JUST JUMP INTO THE SERIES. It will make absolutely no sense. You pretty much have to start at episode one and watch every one thereafter.
Anyway, I played through the first .hack game, and although the ending Boss will make you want to turn your vocabulary into that of Final Fantasy VII‘s Cid, I adored it. You play as a teenage boy who develops a character named Kite in an MMORPG called The World, but his first day was definitely not newbie-friendly. As Kite’s player, you team up with other people who either just love the play The World or suspect there is something big going on, and you can send e-mail responses to help get along better with your allies.
Kite is a friendly, kind hero, and I quickly picked up the rest of the series. The game is told across four games, making it quite expensive to acquire. The fourth game, .hack//Quarantine, was already going high on eBay when I bought it, but living in a rural area pays off once in a while. I found it brand new in a local store.
Later, CyberConnect2 released .hack//G.U., a three-game sequel. G.U. stars the protagonist Haseo and takes places several years after the original Project .hack games. The basic gameplay is the same, but G.U. tried to make it less of a hack-and-slash. Haseo is more of a typical, grumphy JRPG protagonist, and the loss of dual audio was a disappointment.
Anyway, throughout the years, TOKYOPOP released various manga and light novels, other anime came out, and another game is skipped in the West.
I had actually been thinking of .hack recently, so hearing the news of a remaster made me happy… until I learned it was G.U. Although it’s wonderful that the series will make its return to Western shores for its 15 year anniversary, why skip directly to G.U.?
- It’s a sequel series. The bulk of the background story is in the original four .hack games. Heck, the protagonist, Haseo, is chasing after a Kite of .hack look-alike! And players are supposed to wonder if it is or isn’t Kite. And you are probably not going to fully understand Piros the 3rd if you didn’t meet Piros. Let alone the revelation behind another character or two…
- Speaking of characters, G.U. tried to go more down the emo route (Grow Up), but I think the original Project .hack had the better story. Better characters as well.
- The gameplay is deeper in G.U. Haseo has several different abilities, and his party members are smarter overall. While I’m sure CyberConnect2 had less to revise in a G.U. remaster, I still think that the original series is going to feel dated compared to Last Recode. There’s only so much the developer can do because G.U.‘s version of The World is supposed to be a revised, updated version of the earlier The World. Plus, for story purposes, Kite can’t pull off some of Haseo’s tricks.
- The first .hack games are rarer.
Plus, why wasn’t this series at E3? I mean, why announce a new game the week of a huge video game expo and not have it at the expo? Not like they didn’t have a trailer soon available…
Seriously, why wasn’t this game announced at E3? Nobody could sneak it somewhere? Or has E3 become so overrated by the companies that a Japanese magazine is better to release news?
Regardless, it’s also nice that the synopsis videos in the Terminal disk will be included, but I still think G.U. should be played after the Project .hack games. Sequels after originals, what a crazy concept! I will support the remaster, but I sure as heck won’t replay it until I can relive the games in order! Players should experience the quadrilogy as a game, not a flashback.
(anime) SIGN –> (games) Infection/Mutation/Outbreak/Quarantine –> (anime) Roots –> (games) G.U. The other stuff isn’t quite as important. Not G.U. –> to whenever Infection/Mutation/Outbreak/Quarantine are remastered.
So, who has played any of the .hack games? Am I the only one who wishes the original quadrilogy had been remastered first? Do you think someone new should start with G.U.? Anybody play G.U. first and did not feel lost?