Part 53: Bonus Can We Fix It: PlotCan We Fix It? Part 1: Plot and Such
The root of the problem with Dawn of the New World is simple. It exists as a cash in. When the designers talk about how "HOLY SHIT Symphonia made us all this cash" it's rather hard to get any other conclusion. The fact that the studio is in trouble isn't really helping things.
But let's assume for a bit that at some point someone had decided to invest appropriate resources into this game to create a hopefully larger return. Obviously this requires the game to not be awful.
Mothership vs Escort
There are two kinds of Tales games, "Mothership" and "Escort" games. Symphonia, Abyss, and Vesperia are examples of "Mothership" titles. They are essentially "real" games that were developed seriously.
"Escort" games are mix of "this sucks" and "this isn't a 'real'" game. The former category includes Tales of the Tempest (which was demoted to Escort Title for being even worse than this game), while the latter includes cell-phone games and most of the portable games. Exactly which kind of Escort title this is I will leave as an exercise to the audience.
On the other hand, a sequel could in theory be a "real" game. Tales of Destiny 2 was a Mothership title and was considered good (I think, I haven't played too many 2d Tales games). It just depended on them giving it a bit of effort and care.
So, CAN we fix it?
I'd say yes we can, provided it gets upgraded to a Mothership title first. From there, we've got things that we can use to fix the plot.
1. Try to create a coherent story that meshes with Tales of Symphonia. The main driver of the story here is that Martel can't distribute mana properly because of... because otherwise they couldn't think of anything for Ratatosk to do. Or maybe it's the lack of Y chromosomes. Either way.
On the other hand, there's a sequel hook written directly into the ending of the first game: Martel tells Lloyd the tree will die unless provided with love. If you consider how fucked up the world is (especially Sylvarant), this might be a hard thing to come by.
Now consider the half-elf population. The thing is, a lot of those guys looked favorably on the Desians. Forcystus, for example, was considered a bit of a hero. Now the Desians are gone and a whole bunch of people who remember how the Desians were dicks to them are still around. And they know the Desians were half-elves. This seems like a volatile combination. It's entirely possible a Neo-Desian movement would spring up to fight back against humans with varying degrees of justifiableness (which I am surprised is actually a word).
In addition, the Tethe'allans have come into contact with the Sylvaranti like Europe coming into contact with the Americas. Sure the king is under Zelos's thumb (for now) and doesn't seem that bad, but the noble district is full of douchebags who might have private armies (the pope did, after all).
Finally there's Ratatosk. Ratatosk isn't quite so bad as an idea. Tales Studio had already established that World Trees have spirits assigned to them (Martel, Norn) and that Tree Spirits could survive beyond the death of their tree. It's not even a terrible idea to have him lose his memory and be a kid, even if it's cliche as hell, that's never stopped Namco Tales Studio (although mixing him up with two different dead kids is a bit much).
Honestly, I'd have the plot go something like this: After giving up his Exsphere (conveniently resetting his level for the sequel) and taking up the life of a craftsman, Lloyd is contacted by Martel to ensure the Great Seed doesn't die from bad mojo. Lloyd and party must then head off and bludgeon problems into submission. Along the way we pick up hints that these problems are being exacerbated by a mysterious force. This mysterious force being demons from Niflheim, who are reaching out and "encouraging" people in order to get the tree to die and make it easier for them to move in.
Also, I'd probably vary the cast up a little. Colette, uh, has an important role in running the church and will not be joining us this mission. Taking her place would be Celes, who I really would like to see be a badass party member after her events at the arena in ToS. Most of the other characters seem popular enough that you'd have to keep them in the party, although I would like to vary it up a bit more, with at least Regal and Raine retiring from adventuring to focus on trying to fix things in a constructive manner.
Ratatosk's role in this redone story would be to fill us in on Niflheim. It might as well be his job to deal with it, since the Elves sure as heck can't manage to do it right. He might even lose his memory and join the party as a mysterious kid. You could even get some humor out of Lloyd cautiously interrogating him, making vague references to the previous time he travelled with a suspicious kid (named Mithos).
Alternately, if you really want to use all-new protagonists...
But let's say you want all-new protagonists. The first step would be to set the game 15+ years later rather than 2 years later. Tales of Destiny did this and also had at least one character as the descendent of the previous heros.
In this version Lloyd grows a bit of a brain and decides that if he wants to obtain love for the new tree, there's a ready-made veneration structure around. With Zelos and Colette's help, he takes control of the Church of Martel and switches it over to veneration of Martel's spirit form and the new tree. As for all the bad stuff, he decides to blame it on Niflheim and Pronyma, who he thinks is too dead to object.
Unfortunately Pronyma had a family, who are now essentially related to Satan. Thus Pronyma's little bro/sis is now head of anti-Church of Martel resistance sort of by default. The fact that there's still a whole bunch of corrupt deadwood in the church hierarchy, combined with the supply of total douchebag nobility, means that there's a fair amount of people willing to fight back. Especially half-elves, since Pronyma was a half-elf.
So our first main character is Pronyma's little bro/sis. Our second main character, well, Ratatosk reincarnated into a kid is fine as long as it's interesting and not annoying as hell. I'll cover that in a later post entitled "Can We Fix it: Characters Edition". I'd like to have Celes as a character because I like Celes, and it's not unknown for disaffected young women of high society to go rogue. I'm not sure if it would actually work out or not.
Then we'd need antagonists. Obviously Lloyd and co and our party of misfits would go at it like Republicans and Democrats, but we need someone who's actually evil to be the final boss and all. Basically I'm thinking there would be someone in our revolution intent on seizing power over our "executed for counterrevolutionary actions" corpses. The Stalin to our every-other-old-Bolshevik.
At some point halfway through the game shit would hit the fan causing the revolution to gain major momentum and Not-Stalin would seize control. At that point we would have to work together with the Heros of Regeneration to restore world peace and stop Not-Stalin from having the World Tree for salad or something.
Next Time: Can We Fix It: Characters
Gladsheim should be up Wednesday or Thursday next week.