For today’s entry, I am going to talk both about games, films, and books that I will likely never see or never finish.
Authors who have found success with a character often like to return to the same well. James Fenimoor Cooper returned to write two more Leatherstocking tales after Natty Bumppo’s death in The Prairie; Arthur Conan Doyle succombed to fan pressure and brought Sherlock Holmes back to life after his death in The Final Problem. Some of these stories (Cooper’s) show growth on the part of the author, while others (Doyle) show a clear attempt to resolve the author’s own financial troubles.
For this reason, I’ve taken on a rule against reading rehashes and sequels that I don’t feel are necessary. If I am satisfied with a story’s ending, then I will not read the sequels regardless of how lauded they may be (and few really are). The new Conan, for example, seems pointless to me; I don’t see where they could possibly improve on the original. With that in mind, there are certain films that I will never watch and stories that I will never read. For me, the story has an ending point where I am satisfied. While the author and many of the fans have felt the need for more, I see no point in going further.
Here are a few examples (where I will try to avoid spoilers).
The Silent Blade
The ending that Artemis experienced in the novel is the ending we all should have experienced. It would have better established the perfect morality of Drizz’t, the permanent flaw of Artemis, and a solid end for an excellent character. In my mind, that’s where the story ends.
Dragons of Summer Flame
After having read 7 books (3 Chronicles, 3 Legends, and the 4th Chronicle), I felt the story of the original party came to a good close. The world changed irrevocably, and the original party reached a solid conclusion.
Is there any ending better that that Thumbs Up? Is there anything that needs to happen after that?
Okami is the first game that I remember simply giving up, satisfied that I had completed the game (The first game where I gave up unsatisfied was Red Ninja). I loved the premise of its “make the world beautiful” theme, and the artistic style was amazing. That said, everything in the story pointed to a specific goal, and I worked for 20+ hours to get to that goal. Then, after completing that goal, I was told “you need to go to another city because there is more to do.” No, I don’t; I’m done with this story. I’ve heard that it’s amazing and that I should go back, but the chattiness of the game is just too much for me.
Special note: I had a really cool experience with Okami. At the time that I played it, I was moving across a few states. I had arrived at my new place ahead of my family, and saved a lot of money by renting out a small, empty apartment for two months. I didn’t have a TV, but I did have a projector. I decided to connect the PS2 to the projector and project the image to a sheet hanging in my closet.
This was one of those happy accidents that makes for a more immersive experience; the jury-rigged setup was perfect for the brushed-art theme of Okami. When the heater kicked on, the sheet would gently bellow, giving the illusion that the game was actually a painting on a moving canvas.
There aren’t many games that I give up on and and still willingly recommend, and if Okami was the first then Brutal Legend was the worst. My frustration with gameplay lead me to stop at the second to last battle, and as far as I am concerned, the game ended with Lionwhite. This, of course, is well documented in a previous blog entry.
While I made one small exception here in that I read the parallel story of Ender’s Shadow, I found the beauty of the original story’s ending to be so complete that it did not require any additional fiddling.
“While we, Chani, we who carry the name of concubine — history will call us wives.” It is the only book that I’ve ever read that I explicitly remember the closing line. This ending was solid, and nothing more was needed.