So I would like to do a breakdown of the mise-en-scene of one of my favorite video games: Skies of Arcadia: Legends (GCN). I will try and use the definitions on pp6 of the Lacey reading.

Temporal Aspects to Keep in Mind

There are a couple of things to keep in mind while trying to do an accurate job at looking at the scene here: this battle is usually taken on later in the game, and has happened three times before, each of varying difficulty. This is the end of a sidequest and story that makes the party especially powerful when completed – the boss is worth a level of experience when defeated (most enemies aren’t – a lot of grinding has to go on to be able to complete this battle!)

Some Visual Aspects

The player is treated to a typical RPG menu overlay on top of the camera work. The spirit points, the gauge as to what types of special moves or magic can be used, is displayed at the top of the screen, and the main menu of commands are also displayed in the lower left corner, accompanied by a set of icons to make it easier to see what the possible choices are for the player. Also, whenever a move, magic, or attack is done, it is shown on the top of the screen as the actor plays this part of the scene, which allows the player to not only confirm what has been selected, but to help prepare for what should be done next round.

The battle takes place on an imperial battleship, complete with a bridge and “quad”-laser that’ll take out demigods with ease. The battleship is huge, has multiple floors, and is made out of metal (I believe). The battle takes place on the front deck of the ship, only after this imperial battleship docks with a very small boat that the antagonist pilots. The battle also allows the player to be in a small amount of control of the camera, as he/she can move the camera during the “turn preparation” (before the scene, aka turn, has happened) – this isn’t shown as well. Also, the camera pretty much is satisfied to circle over the action for most of the battle, until it zooms in on a player or computer, when their turn is taken. Then the camera programmatically repeats this until the battle is over.

Aural Components

This is the best part of the scene, as this is the part of the experience I cue into the most while playing an RPG (besides focusing in on the action). The sounds used for all menu operations are very small, quick, and pretty much to-the-point. They become musically and a cue for one to get to the actions one wants to take, and are very helpful in this way. What’s missing is the sounds of the control stick and the button presses on the GameCube controller.

The main reason why the experience of playing this game is so epic is due to the boss music. The first whoosh that occurs is a sign of an upcoming boss fight, cued by the signature boss music itself. The music is also reactive to the context of the boss fight as well: when the main character dies, the music segues to an uphappy and distressing tune, to let the player know that the fight is not going in their favor, and must do something to turn the battle around. There’s also the segue to the epic happy music when the player is winning, and happens later in the video, as this cues the player that he/she is winning and needs to keep pouring it on to achieve victory. It is also possibly to get the most epic segue, from getting it to go from the bad music all the way up to the win music in one blow – it’ll blow your mind, and make the hair stand up on the back of your neck (that’s why I keep playing this game! – I even prolong the boss fights to hear the music more, too). The music also has more cues as well, as one can hear the death knell from the bell in the beginning of the cutscene, showing the player that this is going to be tough (and it is a tough fight, believe me). There’s also the happy post-battle music too, along with the posing and victory chants as well too, and I hum this as well along with the video.

The Performance of the Actors

There are 6 character actors here in this battle (unless one wants to count the ship, as it is pretty vital to this battle). They are: (protagonists) Vyse (main character in blue), Aika (girl with orange ponytails), Fina (girl dressed in all white and veil), and Enrique (the other guy, who’s pretty epic); (antagonists) Piastol (a secret boss – this is the 4th encounter), and her puppy. Each character has their own set of moves, namely attacking, adding spirit points (the thing on the top of the screen used to determine special moves) or using a special move. Most of the acting in this battle is determined by the player (except for the cutscene beforehand), and can be changed to do whatever he/she wants – this was just one way of acting this battle out. Each of these sets of actions has their own way of being acted out (namely, each animation is different, the way the battle is being acted). The player also gets to see the costumes each character has: Vyse is a sky pirate, so he wears blue denim, sky goggles, and has a double set of cutlasses; Aika is the girl next door type of character, so she wears a yellow skirt, tall boots, and uses a boomerang (she tries to get Vyse’s attention a lot, but not in this battle); Fina is a mage, so she gets to wear a white dress and veil, uses a very subdued and demure posture, and utilizes her magical pet Cupil as her weapon; Enrique is a prince, so he wears very formal and imperial clothing, stands tall and proud, and utilizes a rapier (a very fancy and refined sword). What’s super interesting here is that the acting is very repetitious (the typical RPG battle), even though it is a boss fight (the player utilizes each character’s “role” in order to achieve the “good” ending of this scene), even though the player of this movie could have done a different script to achieve the same ending, although not recommended by other players (I would have done this at a much later experience level, personally, and focused on speed of attack and the team’s special attack, not shown here, but causes the moon to come out of the sky and destroy the battlefield). The items also play a critical role here, as they not only help the team to victory, but they have their own animation (which can be bypassed if desired – but all enemy animations cannot be bypassed), which reinforces their role in the script of victory here.

I could go deeper, but I would like to start a conversation about this, so please jump on in!