Friday, June 10, 2011

Parasite Eve

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Parasite Eve
Developer - Square
Publisher - Square
Release date - September 9, 1998

Parasite Eve is a 1998 survival horror action role-playing video game developed and published by Square. The game is a sequel to the novel Parasite Eve written by Hideaki Sena; it is also the first game in the Parasite Eve video game series.


The story begins with Aya Brea, an NYPD rookie, attending an opera at Carnegie Hall with an unnamed date in New York City on Christmas Eve 1997. During the opera, everyone in the building spontaneously combusts, except for Aya, and an actress on stage named Melissa Pearce. Aya confronts Melissa onstage, and Melissa says that Aya’s mitochondria need more time to develop. She flees backstage, with Aya giving chase. Backstage, Melissa then mutates into a beast and flees into the sewers, declaring that her name is now Eve.


Parasite Eve is an action role-playing video game. Movement in the "world map" (which is a map of Manhattan) is limited to specific destinations. Upon the player walking over a "hot spot", there's a chance of a random encounter. Enemies materialize and attack players on the same screen that they move Aya around on, with no battle mode or screen being used. In battle, the game uses a pausable real-time combat system with an Active Time Bar (ATB) that sets the time that must be waited till the player can take their next action. While waiting for her turn, the player character Aya can be moved around to dodge enemy attacks. Upon each turn, the player may choose between attacking with their equipped weapon by pressing the attack button, using PE (Parasite Energy) for defense, assistance, or attack, using items, changing weapon or armor, or escaping the battle. If the player chooses to attack, the battle briefly pauses and a dome/sphere symbolizing the range of the weapon appears, allowing the player to target an enemy within range. Parasite Energy recharges during battle but the more players use it, the slower it refills.

When not in battle, the player has the option of altering the weapon and armor attributes and effects with tools and super-tools. The player selects the "tune-up" option, choosing the weapon that will be altered and the weapon from which the attributes or effect will be taken. Weapons have many different properties, including special effects like "acid", which causes enemies to continuously take damage. One of the principal RPG elements of the game is that experience-based levels are present. Each time the player's level increases, his/her attributes go up and BP (Bonus Points) are given. These points can be distributed to the ATB, item capacity, or attributes of a weapon or armor.

Once the game is completed, a new game plus mode is available called "EX game". It is different from the normal game in various aspects; the player has access to every item stored in the police station, the game begins with the final weapon and armor the player chose before ending the first game but returns to level one experience, and the bonus points (BP) given to the player at the end of the game are now available to use. The items, weapons, power-ups and enemies are of more powerful, and so are the enemies players encounter. However, the biggest difference from the normal game is the new Chrysler Building location with 77 floors, mostly randomized, leading to a final boss battle with Aya's older sister Maya.


The video game Parasite Eve is based on the acclaimed Japanese novel Parasite Eve released in 1991. Plot-wise, the video game serves as a sequel to the book. The game was produced by Hironobu Sakaguchi and directed by Takashi Tokita of Square. During development of the game, Square decided to use New York City as the setting after having been previously considered for use in Final Fantasy VII. The game is notable for being Square's first game to be rated Mature by the ESRB. In contrast to previous Square titles, the development team for Parasite Eve consisted of both Japanese and American staff members, with a large part of the production taking place in the United States. Different concepts for the games opening were considered, including different designs for Aya and Melissa transforming into Eve on stage during the opera. Book author Hideaki Sena did not know the titles' plot until it was completed, since the game was a collaboration between Square and his publisher.

Aya Brea was created by Hironobu Sakaguchi and designed by Tetsuya Nomura. Aya was originally being designed by someone else, but the original sketches did not satisfy Sakaguchi, who had wanted a long-haired character like Aerith Gainsborough, a central character from Final Fantasy VII. At the time, he was creating another unspecified character for a different project who sported short hair: he got confused while designing them and accidentally combined the two designs, creating the then-current Aya. The original concept for her was to have her as strong, sexy and "bewitching".


Yoko Shimomura composed the game's soundtrack including the main theme, "Primal Eyes". The ending vocal song, "Somnia Memorias", is performed by Shani Rigsbee. The score met with great critical acclaim, using influences from both opera and electronica. Shimomura stated that she tried to compose "inorganic" music for the game, what she described as "something unique" for the game. A separate Parasite Eve Remixes album was also released, containing 10 tracks remixed from the original game by various artists. The idea for the work came from a simple suggestion to Shimomura that the game's music be remixed rather than rearranged. "Somnia Memorias" was also included on the Square Vocal Collection in 2001.

Yoko Shimomura would later become a well-established video game composer through her work on the Kingdom Hearts series. Additional arrangements were done by Shigeo Tamaru. Despite her previous work as lead composer on Super Mario RPG, Parasite Eve became her breakout project and garnered her international fame. During her work on Parasite Eve, Shimomura spent time in America, which was where much of the game's staff came from. Because of this, Shimomura remembered the game as her most challenging project. She wanted the music to be experimental, not falling into ambient or techno classifications. One of her main goals was to create something "inorganic" and recognizable as a product of Square. Until Parasite Eve, Shimomura had written music in a straightforward manner that reflected her then-current state of mind, but this time she restrained herself and took a more "emotionless" approach. She felt that this would best represent the game's atmosphere and Aya's stoic attitude. Ultimately, she felt that Parasite Eve was an experimental work in many ways. Due to its prevalence in the story, Shimomura used opera music, but as typical opera music did not translate well into battle themes, Shimomura added different rhythms: these rhythms were inspired when some of the game's American staff took her to a nightclub and she heard the background music there. The music recording took place at the Andora Studios in Los Angeles.

Parasite Eve was the first of her projects to include a vocal theme, the ending theme "Somnia Memorias". This was because the PlayStation system was the first to have sufficient processing power for this to be possible. For the vocalist, Shimomura avoided using someone well known. "Somnia Memorias" was sung by Shani Rigsbee, while the vocals for the orchestrated versions of "Influence of Deep" and "Se il Mio Amore Sta Vincino" were provided by Judith Siirila. "Somnia Memorias" was translated and adapted from Japanese into Latin by Raul Ferrando, while "Se il Mio Amore Sta Vincino" was translated by Daniella Spagnolo. The lyrics for all vocal pieces were written by Shimomura. The track "I Hear a Voice Asking Me to Awaken" was an arrangement of Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 140 by Johann Sebastian Bach.

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