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.hack // Series


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He was giving you spoilers. Highlight the big white areas.

Aha! Thanks, I normally don't deal with things that have spoilers so I completely missed that. Doesn't help that I was skimming at the time because I was rushed to do other things, so I missed the messages saying to highlight text after the colon.

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Well I got Infection yesterday and had a chance to play it today. Seems pretty good so far. I can see the game getting a little grind-y though. Not sure if I like main characters yet, I've only played for a few hours today. I have feeling if I/You can't get into the story/characters it might be a chore to work through all 4 of the original .hack games.

Combat seems a little flat so far. I just started, so it could pick up later. Just feels like burn your SP on skills, then spam X to attack until it regens enough. As you run into the next room it regens. Rinse and repeat. Theres a lot of gear swapping for buffs too. (spells are attached to items rather then learned for those who haven't played). Will give it a few more hours to see how it pans out.

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I remember watching .hack//sign back in high school. The music was brilliant, but it suffered terribly from glacial pacing. I found myself rooting for Sora, bastard though he was, only because he was damn near the only one who actually did anything (even if it was only fucking wtih B.T.... which is actually a pretty cool thing in and of itself, but I digress). I watched Legend of the Twilight Bracelet and found it much more entertaining than Sign, primarily due to the fact that it didn't take itself seriously at all (while the super-serious "THIS IS ART GODDAMNIT" feel of Sign was its biggest flaw after the pacing, in my opinion). Other than those two, I haven't played/read/watched/whatever anything of the series. So, a few questions:

Speaking as a diehard fan, //SIGN was about as exciting to sit down and watch as C-Span at times. It could have been condensed SO much. I strongly recommend doing it in pieces, or flat out just fast fowarding between the long still shots with talking.

1) What's the actual sequence of events? I know it goes Sign -> Games -> Legend, but there's also a bunch of other crap in the series too. Lyrai's list just confuses me. How many games are there, actually? Is it just one series of games, or are there different branches to it like there are different anime?

It IS a pretty big thing to look at if you've never done it before. Sorry for confusing you! I'll answer #4 here as well

Timeline wise (As in, the events in the media, not the order they were made):

Special) AI Buster 2 (Novel) > This is tricky, as it's a collection of short stories, each of which happens in their own place in the timeline. To make matters worse, it's rife with translation errors, up to and including swapping the names of main characters. None of it is VITAL - if you want to simply skip things for time, this can be skipped first, with no real loss.

Special, #2) - Episode 27 (INTERMEZZO) of //SIGN details Mimiru's actions in the anime before she met Tsukasa, and Episode 28 (UNION) happens after the games, and it's basically "Party with everyone from the games & anime."

1) //AI Buster 1 (Novel)

2) //SIGN (Anime)

3a&B) First 4 Games (PS2) And //Liminality (An OVA that comes packed with the games) happen at the same time. The games are what's inside The World, and //Liminality is events in the real world.

3c) Another Birth (Novel Series, 4 books) > These are the events of the games from BlackRose's point of view, so timewise, they're also happening at the same time. If you are looking for things to skip or cut down, Another Birth should be second to skip, after AI Buster 2.

4) Legend of the Twilight (Manga, 3 Volumes) - This happens 3 years after the events of the games, and are meant as...a post-script, of sorts. It's own miniadventure, it's just sort of meant to show the characters from the main story having grown up a bit. While cute, you mentioned you dislike manga - LotD can be skipped, and you won't be in the dark for anything in //GU, except for one of the extra emails you get by transferring save data over, and that's merely meant as a wink and a nod at people who read it.

5) End Of The World - Now we get tricky. Between the first series and second series, a lot of stuff went down, and only the Terminal Disc, a special PS2 Disc that came packed with //GU 1 Special Edition, explains it in great detail. If you can find a friend or whatnot with it, that's GREAT. If not, A kind soul at GameFAQs has transcribed the entire thing. Broken up into several segments, I actually strongly suggest watching/reading this -after- completing everything else, as it drops a few very heavy spoilers as far as the //GU Games go. (What happens is that you insert the disc into your PS2, and it reads your //GU Save file, and unlocks a few videos accordingly)

6) //Roots (Anime) > Both the first bit of roots and the GU games are the same events. Roots continues on, the game timeskips past the whole events of roots

7) The //GU Games

OTHER PRODUCTS THAT CAN BE SKIPPED ENTIRELY DUE TO NON-CANON:

//Legend of the Twilight anime - Is not canon at all!

.hack//XXXX (Manga) > Alternate version of the games. Passable.

//GU+ > Manga, alternate retelling of the //GU Games.

//GU Novel > See above.

2) How independent are the games? Can you pick up any given .hack game and start playing it, or will you be hopelessly confused unless you play everything in order from start to finish?

The games assume you have played the previous one in the series - and even give you the option to dump your leveled Kite or Haseo from the previous game into the new one. Storywise, it assumes you know everything, and are playing them in sequence.

3) How good are the games, really? I've heard that the gameplay is good but the story is crap, that the gameplay is crap but the story is interesting, and everything in between. Is there more to it than just random dungeon crawls with emails and stuff in between? The most fun part of an RPG, at least for me, is exploring the setting and getting to know the world and the people in it.

Your milage may vary! I found the gameplay of the first game to be trudging (And yet I did the extra dungeon of quarantine, whoo), and //GU's gameplay to be a breath of fresh air. As for exploring...you can, to a certain degree. As you trod along, you'll get emails and news updates on your 'desktop' - the news updates provide you with backstory, allowing you to read them and learn more at your leisure. //GU is much more friendly with this, splicing in video clips with the news reports, and even a mini TV series that serves only to deepen the world and flesh it out more. The clips are all done by Production IG (Ghost in the Shell: SAC), so they look -really- slick. //GU's desktop outside the game proper also has forums which, if nothing else, are good for a few laughs.

4) When you're talking about reading stuff (Lyrai mentions like four different things to be read) are you talking about manga or actual novels? I've never been able to get into manga, but if they're novels I'd give it a shot.

Answered in question 2!

Again, this looks like a huge overwhelming behemoth to try and get into at this point in time, but I found the story engrossing and wonderful, and the entire thing a blast to watch, listen, read, and play through.

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Woo! Thanks for the replies, that's all useful information. I suppose that I'll pick up Infection next time I see it around somewhere and if I like it, I'll see where it all goes from there. I didn't actually know that there were two different game series before reading this thread -- what's the deal with the second one? Is it basically the same thing as the first one but set later in the timeline and with different characters, or is there any actual mechanical/gameplay difference between them?

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Woo! Thanks for the replies, that's all useful information. I suppose that I'll pick up Infection next time I see it around somewhere and if I like it, I'll see where it all goes from there. I didn't actually know that there were two different game series before reading this thread -- what's the deal with the second one? Is it basically the same thing as the first one but set later in the timeline and with different characters, or is there any actual mechanical/gameplay difference between them?

OH yes there is a difference. The first games play combat much closer to an actual MMO, not to mention the aformentioned Skills/Techs tied to whatever weapons you have equipped.

In //GU, The fighting system is a lot more actiony, not to mention you're not stuck with Twin Blades the entire games. Boss fights are done in a completely new way as well.

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OH yes there is a difference. The first games play combat much closer to an actual MMO, not to mention the aformentioned Skills/Techs tied to whatever weapons you have equipped.

The fighting system is a lot more actiony, not to mention you're not stuck with Twin Blades the entire games. Boss fights are done in a completely new way as well.

Heh, you didn't clarify that the second paragraph applied to GU rather than "the first games".

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Heh, you didn't clarify that the second paragraph applied to GU rather than "the first games".

...oh. Whoops. Fixed that!

I've still yet to go out and buy & watch Roots, so I can't really give a judgment call on it. I'm told that they sort of fixed the problem they had with //SIGN, and also threw in a catgirl with a huge bust for no real reason other than fanservice.

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I'm told that they... ...threw in a catgirl with a huge bust for no real reason other than fanservice.

Yep. As soon as she pops on-screen, you know EXACTLY why she's there... and it has nothing to do with the story.

Also, what problem did they have with SIGN? I didn't watch all of them, but also never caught onto any "problems" perse...

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Characters that inspired apathy rather than empathy?

A plot that moved with all the speed of a tectonic plate?

A non-ending that basically says "GO PLAY THE GAMES NOW KTHX"?

Really, it's easier to list the things they did right: I liked the art style a lot, the music was absolutely perfect, and the story (excepting the ending) was interesting and original (when they finally got around to telling it, at least). There was a lot of good stuff there, but it was so buried under poor execution of characterization and poor pacing that most of it never had a chance to shine. Honestly the only reason I kept watching is because the art and the music were so good -- just seeing/hearing it was enjoyable enough to offset the frustration of simultaneously not giving a shit about the characters and wanting to know what the hell was going on.

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