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Post subject: So, some deepening about Mystic Ark...
PostPosted: Thu Jul 01, 2010 3:32 pm 
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Mystic Ark is still a mystery to me, today. Nearly one year has passed since then. I've played many more games. Mystic Ark is no longer one of my top 10 favorite RPGs. Yet, it still is one of the most unique experience I've experienced as gamer. That is why, after playing a while of the game just recently, I'm still asking myself : "What all of this means, anyway ?". Well, first of all, there ought to be a meaning. If there are not any, we are going astray.

First of all, as an apprentice scenarist, I'm going to say that : Mystic Ark as, I'm pretty sure of it, an improvised story-line. It was quite common at the time. I'm pretty sure of it because the game as a very, very, discordant storyline. One may put it on the fact of the heterogeneous flow of the story (A world-separated story rather than an unified storyline), but alas, I'm pretty sure it is not just that. Many details are mentioned, and the game try to put some indics sometime, but very soon, all fall down as it seems the developpers just forgot/choosed another path along the way. Maybe, indeed, the producers had some ideas at the very start, of some scenes, some basics of the story, but as it follow, they changed and maked up things along the way. It was a pretty common things during the SNES era – even when there were only one producer. It was later that scenarists poped-up into the creative process, and made the story homogeneous along a decided and clear path. Author-based game in the SNES era were very few – I can think of Live-A-Live or the Lennus saga, for example. Mystic Ark, on its part, is I think not author based in the fact that the credits don't affect one particular scenario writer like the two aforementioned games. There is two Producers and one Executive Producer placed on the same pedestal in the staff roll, and that's it. I may be wrong and it may just be a common way to put the credits, but still. Until more information about the creative process of the game came through our ears, we have to assume the game had not one, but multiple producers and scenarists – thus, though the original idea may come from one, the game logically passed through a lot of change and interpretation along the process of its creation. In this regard, we may say Mystic Ark is an improvised story.

Not that improvisation is a bad thing, mind you. Sometime, it can make amazing things. I do think, the ending or some of its sense may have been thought from the beggining, since it was an ideal plot idea to make an heteregeounous storyline with worlds that as nothing to do between them, thus facilitating a LOT the storytelling and promising more, much more, liberty along the way of creating the game and its in-worlds' story. I know what I say may sound odd, if it isn't "too much", but as scenario-writting is my passion, I tend to get carried away. Alas, one might say "We will, anyway, never know". That, I know for sure. So we're not here to put a pessimistic aspect to it. We're here to find what's the meaning of this mess.

I've elaborated that Mystic Ark is an improvised story. Many things got along this line, for example, Darkness is presented as a great villain with many mysteries and even a deep past (Dark World), such since its first mention in the World 3, then when you come to the World 7, they just throw it all on the wall and made him a pretty stereotypical villain just here to make the deal onto Black Heart. Black Heart himself is a pretty bland and lame character : It's the dark personality of the main character, and that's it.

I can see a sort of regression in the "climax" structure. In the code of classical dramatic art introduced since the time of theater, the climax is the happening just before the end of the story that make it all clear. The story must be going toward the climax, slowy but surely, by gaining little by little more and more intensity. For me, there is a severe deficiency in the climax structure. Through the player does feel an intensity by feeling he's going much and much close to the truth, the story structure on its part feel very ackward, as the more it goes, the more you feel they definitively didn't knew anymore where they were going, or what they have done earlier in the game. World 7, as much as it feel we're near the end, it also feel that we painfully forgot what the hell all of this were about. Darkness has no meaning anymore, the fact he transform peoples into statues don't make sense anymore either, and there is a lot of informations in World 3, 4 and 6 that goes forgotten or simply ignored. The story structure is a fucking whorehouse. I'm pretty sure they definitively didn't got it themselves up to a point. But I'm not trying to criticize, just to put an evidence. I think I would be more interested by explaining on hours and hours how the story got messy along the way, how they seems to have forgot what they were doing, and what the story could have been. Alas, I do realize it is useless. And by what we have, what can we say ?

Difficult to say, since there is so much contradictory informations. For example, the Chimera addresses Remeer this way : "So, you're from another world ? How did you get here ? Have you find, somehow, a way to travel through the worlds ?", implying Chimera come from another world, that just like Darkness he seems to know how to travel between world, yet there is "A way" they didn't know and so they ask Remeer. It put an all dimension to "What the temple is anyway, this building, no, this vehicle that permit me to travel around the worlds ?". But we won't hear anything more about that. However, I do think it's an important point, as it imply there is another way to travel around the worlds.

Let's continue, will we ? When we first encounter Darkness in World 4, he say : "I'm the Figurine's... Mmh, no. I'm he who will creates a world without hearts !". What we understand by that is that Darkness, not only the creator of the figurines, try to creates a world devoid of heart and emotion. That might be just right along the way of its doing – but then we got around the "Creator Paradox" : Remeer, as god (or demigod, son of the Mother Goddess) can be trapped into a figurine by Darkness. How so ? And why is he in the first place, he and his partners ? I guess there is no meaning inside it. Someone might say he is on the side of Black Hearts. But here, I think it's the perfect conversely : He want to create a world without hearts. And when he is beaten, he takes back the form of the Ark of Darkness and dwell into Remeer's heart to help him fight Black Hearts. It's clear that since the beggining, not only Darkness was against Remeer, but also against Black Hearts : He simply wants to make everyone like statues, for know-what reasons following his traumas in the Dark World (Why he in the dark world, in the first place ?). In other words, we miss a big piece of him, because he might easily be the link that tight it all together. Black Hearts is devoided of background, even a random world boss as more background than him : I won't even bother speaking of him.

Then we have the Mother Goddess and the Temple. Here too, we've got the clear idea that something is amiss. But I'm tired as it seems so obvious. What about the World of Darkness ? What about the figurines ? So much plot-holes gave me headache. But maybe I'm thinking too much.

Here we come about my little fault : I'm a traditionnal dramatic writer and scenarist. I'm pretty much lover of traditional dramatic structure, I like rather academical story-telling. Mystic Ark, on the other hand, is not. It didn't seem to make sense with itself, and it's proud of it. Proud to give you headache because it don't seem to make any sense at all, except for the way you might see it. The only point we might all get allright on, is that the ending is about birth/rebirth, and the whole story was a great Trial of Wisdom imposed by the Mother Goddess to its son, to what-know reasons we are free to think about. Then, there's the question of the party : Who the hell are Remeer's partners ? Well, about that, I've got an idea. In the introduction/ending, we have a witness from where each of them comes. Those worlds, you might have noticed, are all but very, very, very, similar, to some actual worlds of the game – same buildings, same peoples, except the color and the scenery is slightly different. I've first thought it was but a lame gimmick. And after all, didn't it was clearly implied there is meant to be only 7 worlds ? But then, it came through. In fact, I thought of it because it is an idea of mine from my own story I'm currently writting. If you immagine that the whole worlds are, indeed, but infinity of dreams from the Mother Goddess, you might as well thinks that these are based on places that she really knew in the real world or that she read in a fantasy novel, who knows. And from those recollections of these places, she made an interpretation of its peoples and sense. Then, what we see in the opening/ending might be as well a clear recollection of what the places we visit actually are, and in her mind, the Mother Goddess pick peoples she might "know" to help her son in its quest. But there is a great down to this theory : Never forget that the one who transform peoples into statue is Darkness, except if you are crazy enough to immagine a great conspiracy between Darkness and the Mother Goddess. That would means that Darkness is so powerful and attached to the Mother Goddess' soul that he can go into its deepest memories and recollections to stop her, right to the memory of its own son (Or what she would like him to be).

... I know, it's crazy. I don't trust a word of it. It's just a lame transposal of an element from my own scenario which is about similar subjects, but the similarity just stricken me on the moment, through it's a little "too much".

No, really.

I don't see anything. I can't stop to think something is amiss. That all is messy in this game. Yet, that is what we loved in the first place, isn't it ?


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Post subject: Re: So, some deepening about Mystic Ark...
PostPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2011 10:10 pm 
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I do not think this story is improvised, and seemed to be nicely tied together in fact, by the end.


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Post subject: Re: So, some deepening about Mystic Ark...
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2012 3:57 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jan 20, 2012 8:30 am
Posts: 59
well i just finished this game.
What a baziare ending!

I'm thinking the hero is 'reborn' after hearing a baby crying and cars honking. (Could be planet Earth?) But ending dialaog kinda suggest he/she is being reborn.

Either way its a perfect example of a Gainax Ending off tvtropes:

"A Gainax Ending is an ending that doesn't make any sense. This is usually a deliberate form of Mind Screw or intended as a Sequel Hook to a sequel that was never made. For whatever reason, after watching a Gainax Ending, you won't have any idea what happened. After rewatching it, rewatching the entire series, discussing it with other fans, looking up the meaning of the symbolism, and subjecting the entire thing to a comprehensive literary analysis, you still might not have any idea what happened. If you're lucky, then there will be some kind of emotional or symbolic resolution even if it doesn't actually explain what happened to the characters, and you'll be left with the sense that the series as a whole was more deeply thought out than it seemed before. If you're unlucky, then you'll be left with more questions than when you started with, and the sense that the series as a whole has been voided of the meaning you once read in it."

Too much puzzles for my taste if you ask me but I did enjoy it. Can't say much for the ending though everything made sense til the hero walked through that final door to draw your own fraking conclusion


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Post subject: Re: So, some deepening about Mystic Ark...
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2012 8:57 pm 
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Its true that the ending is somewhat open ended,
but I regard the whole game as one big symbolic voyage
towards oneself - to me its not "Gainax" at all;
I see the last scene as simply the realization that
all the experiences were targeted not at the in game
protagonist, but the player itself - hence the modern
world evoking sound effects and whatnot, although
the rebirth thesis isn't all that outlandish considering.


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Post subject: Re: So, some deepening about Mystic Ark...
PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2012 1:59 am 
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Joined: Fri Jan 20, 2012 8:30 am
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It has to be a reborn. As you watch the credits the other characters (or party members) slowly return back to the 6 worlds that you already visited that the statue in the beginning created while the main character isn't part of that world but that of another world; He/she was never meant to be part of those 6 worlds.

Until I saw the final door opening, I didn't considered this game to be Gianax. Whenever you have to draw your own conclusions or theories (which it was in this case), the ending is Gianaxed. Because the developers never gave the a full conclusion of what really happened to the MC, we must draw our own theories and conclusions from it. I've read a few theories on other forums the most popular one is the reborn theory.

One under-rated game that uses Gianaxed example would be Kya for the PS2, at the end of the game the MC is in some bizare world and then from the camera angle view of some unknown monster attacks Kya (which we don't see) the camera pans quickly at Kya then the screen blacks out to say "The End?". The developers had original plans to make a sequel but the game did not sell well so we're left with a Gianax ending. Sadly we have to draw our own conclusions from such vague details we never know what happened to Kya.

.Hack game series endings are also Gianxed but they did that on purpose because they were meant to be trialogy and to cliffhang the ending of the first two games to give it an epic conclusion of the third game which isn't Gianaxed.

Without giving me a headache I'll concider the hero reborn based on the ending I viewed. It'll have to be 'conclusive' to me even if it is Gianxed lol.


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