PED1 As you may have surmised by my last rather, ahem, verbose entry, I have a lot to say about games-- at least the ones that have a special place in my heart, for lack of a better phrase. For a game like Parasite Eve (and frankly, for most games that I care enough about to cover in the first place), a single blog entry would be completely inadequate. What I've decided to do is allow for multiple entries for individual games which will be tagged accordingly, so even though they may be posted months apart, you can find all the coverage of a single game or series easily.

Where to even begin with Parasite Eve? Some things are seminal on a broad cultural, even global level, like Hamlet or the Beatles you can debate their merit or their influence on their successors, and many people devote a frightening amount of time to doing just that, but ultimately it's pointless: They are agreed upon by everyone with a functioning frontal lobe to be both very good and a huge influence on everything.

But some things are deeply influential to a specific individual, and it's not because they're better than Hamlet or the Beatles--quality has nothing to do with it. It's a certain alchemy of personality, timing, and some x-factor that I'll never be able to nail down. Parasite Eve came out when I was sixteen, and it had a huge effect on my personal aesthetics.

Keep in mind, I'm not encouraging everyone to go out and pick up a copy of the game. PS1 games from that era have aged poorly in the graphics department, and while I think the writing in PE is actually underrated, there's nothing about it that's sufficiently high quality to make it especially worth playing compared to more recent fare. However, as a startlingly ambitious combination of cop show, psychological thriller, Doctor Who-esque Science Fantasy, dungeon crawling, character building, gun collecting, and techno music put together in an RPG that celebrates an empty Manhattan that never was, it's a very unique piece of gaming history.

Oh, and yes, I know that word snobs frown on descriptions like "very unique", because unique originally meant one of a kind and therefore a thing is either unique or it is not, but I think those people should be shot because I am an activist word snob and I want their inflexible, stagnant DNA out of the gene pool. Unique originally meant "one of a kind", but in modern usage it has changed to "giving the impression of being special and important even in comparison to other things that are one of a kind as well." If your dictionary doesn't already agree with me, wait a few years and it probably will.

The protagonist of Parasite Eve is rookie NYC cop Aya Brea, proficient with every firearm under the sun and totally the women I'd fall for if I played on the other team (and err, if she weren't fictional I suppose. I sometimes forget that part.) However, I'm straight, and it does have to be said that Aya can be a little dense-- her dialogue is littered with exclamations like "What? How can that be!?" and "No!" and "What do you mean my mitochondria are evolving at an unusually accelerated rate?" People have knocked the character for that, but to be fair, I kind of like that about her. We can't all be Rhodes Scholars. Aya1 Still the best-dressed gal in video games, even after all these years--okay, except for Classic Yuna. It's a tie.

Note on the Screens: In years past I have always, always kept the default character names in RPGs out of respect for the writers' intentions, but in some of the following screens you will see that Aya's name is Karen for this playthrough. The sacrifices I make for this blog.... PE1

The game starts with Aya on a hilariously awful date, with an escort who says things like "I had my Dad get me the best seats for us tonight!" Y'know, I wonder how much the general gamer likes this opening, because being a woman probably makes it about ten thousand times better. It's like, "I've sooo been there, girl." PE2 They say this about me too.

Fortunately possessed Opera Singer Melissa (known from this point on as Eve) brings a premature end to Aya's date by lighting Carnegie Hall on fire. I used to just pretend that I had cramps.

PE3 Is Eve turning Carnegie Hall into a fiery inferno because her excess mitochondrial energy is being released as heat? Or was it because of that schmuck in the third row who couldn't be bothered to turn off his cell phone?

While the other occupants of the theater are busy burning to death, Aya's all business; she draws her gun and orders her mysteriously-not-burning date out of the theater. If I were some kind of fancy internet guru, I would make an animation of Aya body-checking her date out of the way, because that's exactly what she does here. Minor plot hole: It's repeated many times that Aya is the sole survivor of the Carnegie Hall Incident, only her boyfriend mysteriously escapes the theater and is never mentioned again. I guess some of her special mitochondria must have rubbed off on him when he was helping her with her coat. PE4

Aya approaches Eve in the name of the NYPD, and Eve starts starts demonstrating some of the problems with Japanese-to-English translation that plague this game. The Japanese use the word "body" much more often than English speakers, but a too-literal translation will often keep the word, leading to awkwardness. "I'm burning up!" has a very different connotation then "My body is getting HOT!" Guess which version this game goes with. PE5 The translation-inflicted kinkyness of the Aya and Eve dynamic persists throughout the game. Not as fun as it sounds.

A pathetically easy boss fight ensues, during which Aya's "Parasite Energy" awakens due to her proximity to Eve, meaning she has a green PE bar under her health from now on and will start learning spells to cast as she levels up. Technically I guess they're not "spells", they're more like "benevolent mutations" or "super-evolved mitochondrial abilities", but I'm going to use the word spell from now on because it's shorter. Anyway, Eve babbles something about a connection between her and Aya (Nooo? REALLY?), and Aya has the first of about forty flashbacks to a time she was in the hospital as a small child that she barely remembers. Eve floats offstage, and Aya follows. PE6 Okay, I'll level with you here: I friggin' hate these stupid flashbacks. The story behind them is fine, but there are way too many of them. Yes Aya, you were in the hospital when you were a wee lass! Holy freaking crap! Get over it.

At this point, the story sequences start to dwindle and you begin to experience the actual gameplay of PE, which I will save for another installment. The main event is that Aya starts ransacking the basement of Carnegie Hall while looking for a trace of Eve, and mysteriously finds lots of ammo instead. PE8

Join us next time on Parasite Eve: The Odyssey for Part II: Spelunking in the rat-infested sewers beneath Carnegie Hall is no reason not to look fabulous.