What .hack Means To Me

In honor of .hack//G.U. Rebirth’s North America Release which happened at the exact second this post was published, this is all about what .hack means to me and what I think of it.

I understand that .hack for some people is nothing special. It’s really one of those love it or hate it kind of things. Some people just don’t get it and I don’t think I can really convince someone one way or the other. For me however I think it is a great story overall when looked at with all the installments in consideration. I get that some people don’t care for the story and I respect people’s opinions on this. This is just to show my opinion, and what the games have meant for me and why I enjoy them so much.

I remember how I first got into .hack. I’m not sure how long ago or anything, but I think it was the year or around the time when Mutation came out. I was at Best Buy with my grandma and she was going to buy me a couple of things for my birthday or some other holiday, I forget exactly but I know that since I’m kind of hard to shop for I just went with her to pick out some things that she would buy as a present. I went to the video game section and started to look through some of the different games and I came across .hack//INFECTION. I remember picking it up and remember reading something about .hack in some Playstation magazine. There was just a very brief mention of it and it talked about how you did things like hack into the game and that it was a game about a game. I didn’t know much, but I remember that it sounded interesting, so I picked it up and thought “what the hell”. I had no idea what I had just gotten myself into.

.hack is huge. Not only does it span multiple forms of media ranging from light novels, manga, games, and anime, but unlike some other series, all the .hack installments connect to each other. In fact that is where most of the enjoyment comes from I think. .hack is one of the best examples of multiple installments tying in together, even if they are not a continuous story. There are seven years between the first four games and G.U., yet there are so many aspects that tie in together. Not only do the installments tying in together make things more interesting because it makes things more like a single story, but it allows for constant mystery of when new things will tie in. It makes you wonder for instance in G.U. if anyone is from the previous installments.

Overall .hack has been a big part of my life. Ever since I first got the games I was hooked. .hack has had some very memorable moments in it. All throughout the first four games I always waited in anticipation for the next one. The cliffhangers nearly killed me because of how much I waited for them. I remember at the end of Mutation, seeing the Root Town covered in Data Bugs and my mouth just dropping. I remember seeing in the trailers that Balmung joined your team in Outbreak and freaking out. I remember almost jumping out of my seat after seeing Skeith appear in Sign because I had played Infection first, I remember countless times during Roots where I was just stunned because of things that tied into the first games, Virus Cores, Tri Edge actually showing the bracelet, and even though I knew that it was coming, Balmung, Orca, and Skeith. I think that it is just everything about .hack that makes it so great to me. It’s not an individual installment, and I think that truly .hack cannot be based by a single part. To really know what .hack is you have to look at everything together because how things tie in. .hack will always hold a special place in my heart, as cheesy as that sounds. It’s hard to say exactly, but .hack I think is amazing and I have several memories about it.

Here is a breakdown of my feelings of the individual installments in .hack and how they tie in with the other installments. This doesn’t include everything, such as Another Story and things like .hack//Gift but should contain most of the main storyline pieces of Project .hack.

.hack//A.I. Buster

The start of everything, well kind of. This still remains the first installment timeline wise if you don’t count the upcoming .hack//Fragment game, because really that isn’t a storyline based game or anything. I think what appealed to me the most about this is that it was a story that had a lot of focus on Balmung and Orca, which were always some of my favorite characters. In the main bulk of the story it is already established that Balmung and Orca are famous, but this shows more in depth about why, and what they did. Although they aren’t the main characters, I think that’s what I liked the most about this.

.hack//Sign

This is one of the most stand-alone installments there is, I think. I mean, in the end, except for Sora, everything is resolved. Everyone is all normal, Tsukasa gets out of her coma, and basically for the moment things are all fine and dandy. The main way this connected to all the rest of Project .hack is that it was really the story about Aura awakening. We get the introduction of Aura and what it took to make her, as well as the story behind her and this being called Morgana, which is important in the later part. Sora also is connected a bit, as he is Skeith’s first victim, the first one to fall into a coma because of the eight phases, I believe.

Honestly, Sign wasn’t that bad but it also isn’t the best example of what the entire Project .hack contains. The story itself focuses on Tsukasa, which is one of the factors that aren’t as connected to all the rest of the .hack installments.

.hack//Zero

Although not a huge installment, in fact a lot of people don’t’ even know what it is. Its all about Sora, and basically it talks about what happened to Sora after he was data drained. That a kind of A.I. version of him was created that went around terrorizing things. This isn’t so much a stand-alone story or anything, but more to the point it kind of ties up loose ends left with Sora’s data drain at the end of Sign. Although in the end it really concludes with him waking up at the end of Quarantine, this still helped to make his bit a little less confusing.

.hack//Games (First four)

These are defiantly one of the high points in the storyline. It seems as if  all the other .hack installments tie into this one in a big way. Sign was about Aura’s awakening and Aura is a crucial part of these games. Liminality deals with things in Real Life that are happening in these games, Udeden deals with the legend of the .hackers, Roots and G.U. deal with the anomaly left over from these games and the legendary .hackers of Kite, Balmung, and Orca, Aura’s disappearance, AND the reappearance of the phases in a new way.

Now, I’m not really going to get into the gameplay of these games, because for the most part, that’s not what these games are about. All in all, the .hack games I can only base on these four. However, I’ve heard that G.U. has better gameplay and just from what I’ve seen, I believe it. However, I’m still not expecting anything huge. The .hack games are NOT the best video game series I have ever encountered, however the story of ALL of Project .hack, from A.I. Buster to G.U. is one of the best and most in-depth, plot twisting and overall enjoyable storyline. In summation, these games are not about the gameplay. I usually always play games because of the storyline, and basically for those who say the gameplay sucks too much… get over it. These aren’t about the gameplay, they are about the story, which really is good considering its connection to all the other installments.

.hack//Liminality

Liminality had a certain charm I think, not just because it had some great music, but also because it focused entirely on the real life end of things. Although still pertaining to the game, and actually dealing with the same issues that were going on in the first four games, there was a huge focus on the real life side of things. Another aspect that I liked is that because of events in Liminality you were able to succeed in the games. Although they didn’t specifically say that, there is a time in the final fight where you aren’t able to do much, but all of a sudden are saved when something happens. I forget what but since Liminality occurs at the same time as the games something they do in the final episode allows for you to win in the games, which I thought was really cool.

.hack//Udeden Anime

Udeden, or Legend of the Twilight Bracelet as most people know it, is a bit hard to describe. First off, I think that the anime is pretty bad, the manga is much better, but I’ll talk about that below. The anime was completely different from the manga, and actually the only think I liked about the anime was that Moluti was a cool bad guy. She looked menacing with the way her hair and her eyes were deisigned. Most of Udeden was kind of hard to understand, and the overall story didn’t have much to do with the other .hack installments. The main thing was just that the two characters had the player models of the main characters in the previous games. Aside from Balmung playing a big part, there was hardly any other connections.

.hack//Udeden Manga

The Udeden manga was much better I think. It was completely different in the fact that there was no real evil thing like Moluti, and they were just trying to find Aura to help Zefie and so on. The thing that I liked much more about his one however was that there was a lot of connection with the previous games. We find out that Merielle was Mistral’s genius daughter, and Mistral even uses the character for a bit to talk with Balmung. Wiseman is there, plus I believe there are some other cameos as well. For the most part what I liked was how there was mention of this legend, the .hackers being fabled people, a legend in the game, which they hadn’t established before this because there wasn’t time enough for them to become legends.

.hack//Roots

This doesn’t get as much credit as I think it should. I keep hearing people say how this was too inconclusive, nothing happened, blah blah…Well no offense, but DUH! It wasn’t supposed to, it’s a prequel not a stand-alone series, and no, this could not have been easily done in less episodes if all it was is a prequel. The whole point of this series was to show what Haseo went through because of the death of Shino, and I think it shows that amazingly well. I think Roots is what makes G.U. as exciting as it is, because you really get a feel for the characters before the game.

The reason I think that it can’t be done in less episodes, like some people have said, is because there are not only the characters we have to be introduced too, but this is the first installment in .hack that deals with The World: R2. The main thing however is the characters. In G.U. all you see is Haseo being PK’d when he first starts, and being introduced to Ovan, and then it says 8 months later and we see him as this legend. Now, they may hint to what happened, but we get NO WHERE near the information that is given to us in G.U. In Roots we find out how he got involved with Ovan and the mystery of him. He supported Shino and got close to her and had her killed, how he lost himself in revenge, how during all this there was a higher order going on with Yata and Pai dealing with the epitaph users, and then finally Haseo’s realization after being data drained. Now, although he gets data drained in G.U. too, I think that Roots shows much better what this did to him, how he had lost himself and this brought him back to reality.

In summation, I will defend Roots to the death. It did EXACTLY what it was supposed to do and if you stop expecting it to be something else, or to be conclusive, then it’s great. It wasn’t supposed to be conclusive. Roots is not just an installment that comes before G.U. timeline wise, it is a direct prequel. It’s got it in the name of the show; it shows the Roots of G.U.

.hack//G.U.

Although this hasn’t’ come out yet in the US, or…actually I guess it has because I’m writing this to be posted on the day of its release. G.U. is hard to describe. Although I didn’t feel this much anticipation for the other games, that may have been because I wasn’t as into the .hack universe at the time. .hack//G.U. just amazes me. It seems to be something that is basically going to take things from all the other installments and throw them together in a deep plot. The first four games were never this dark and deep. I mean, you try to save your best friend from these eight phases. There wasn’t anything too complex in its storyline. Although it was exciting, and part of the charm of the first four games was the depth of things and how a game affected real life, and it still took things from other installments, .hack//G.U. takes the plot to another level almost.

In the first four games, as I said, the bad guys are pretty well defined. You know that the eight phases and Morgana and everything is evil. You try and save Aura and to do so you fight these obvious bad guys. However, in G.U. it isn’t as simply laid out for you, which is great. In G.U. there has to be almost at least five sides, not just a good and bad. There is Haseo, who isn’t necessarily sided with anyone and trying to do things as he gets information; there is Ovan, who is a huge mystery as to what he is doing and why; there are the Azure Knights who have their own mystery because not only are they the character models and maybe the characters themselves from the previous games, but its unsure of what they are doing; there is Yata and Pai (Kuhn also kind of) who are basically anti-Ovan but are unsure of what he is doing and what the Azure Knights are doing, and although for the most part with Haseo they know a lot of information about things and for the most part Haseo works with them, but isn’t on their side entirely, then we have a whole slew of people who are kind of by themselves, Endrance and Sakubo to name a few, (I don’t count Atoli because for the most part she seems to be with Haseo). All these groups seem to either have their own agenda which just adds to the complexity of the plot.

G.U. is definitely probably one of the installments higher up in my list of favorites, even without coming out. I mean, this is one of the first times that I have gotten excited in watching a one-minute trailer for vol. 3 before I’ve even played vol.1. This trailer didn’t even have any in-game movies, just concept drawings and people talking in a language I didn’t understand, yet still it sparks in me so much anticipation that its hard to believe. Never have I been that excited for something so far away.

6 thoughts on “What .hack Means To Me”

  1. Wow, I actually read it! I’ve wanted to check out .hack for a long while, but just never got around to it. I didn’t know that each media is connected to the others, but that makes it intriguing. Ahh, gotta make time. Thanks for the perspective ^^

  2. well for mw .hack is the best series ever, like other series that i like, the history is awesone, the character, all is great and i want that the people see that, because it is a hisrory that can take a person to a world where nothing is imposible. And the video games are awesone, no mather what every one said like “the dungons are repetitive and bla bla bla” becouse that is not true, that is great and thouse dungon are cool and have the rol like the anime series. Well, .Hack is .Hack, and that saga is one of the best and the is in the firts place. .Hack FOR EVER!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Story for me was I was in a shop and noticed that this game had a “free anime dvd” and got it.After playing I realised that I had to wait for Mutation but at the end of the instruction manual was pictures of //Sign and Legend of the Twilight (anime and manga).

    I made my first online purchase of .hack//Sign vol.1 and 2 from amazon,had to use brother’s dvd player but I couldn’t wait for the rest.After I got vol.3 and began checking the internet for .hack information I noticed I was missing episodes because vol.3 was the platnium edition,so I ordered vol.2 which came with a CD ^_^
    I kept checking release dates and going into shops to see if they had it,also made afew .hack friends since classes mixed near Christmas for fun periods.I eventually got all the games (made sure //gift was included),//sign (got limited edition for Intermezzo and Unison),Legend of the Twilight (anime and manga).

    Around that time I found dothackers.net and used it for latest information,then the screw up from playasia.com about Fragment occured.Then the ambigous project G.U. that had a site with very few images that didn’t seem to relate to anything.I continued checked the site and was a member of gaia posting on the Big.hack//Fans thread before G.U. and informed all those who visited with several regulars.Later .hack//roots was announced before G.U. since it was a prequel eventually I got to watch //roots and trailers/information related to G.U.

    The manga series G.U. ,GnU,4koma and XXXX (X-Force) was brought up on my sources and I managed to read some chapters.Aswell as the .hack//Cell and .hack//Alcor’s stories were exposed (still to find,not read Zero either but had/have a site with a summary).For vol 2 and 3 of GU I’ve tried not to read anything but found out the truth behind the Azure Knights and other plots.

    Not able to play GU since I live in the UK but unless it doesn’t get released here then I shouldn’t need to get a NTSC version and try to play it.

    Will be trying to find vol.2 of Another Birth in shops since they should have it by now,A.I. buster vol.2 was a pain when it was released early on ebay.Still daily searching for more .hack which has a permenant place in my collection and the anticipation for GU grows each day.

    Like you,one thing I loved about the series was it connected and expanded across mediums.I believe it was compared (well the person found it better) to Final Fantasy as although it did have games,movies and anime,almost none of them have any connection.

    One thing I did not like about //roots which is one of the minor reasons I didn’t like the Udeden manga,the cameo from //sign.

    Sorry for the long post and I wrote this because your own was similar to mine.

  4. I don’t have a really long and epic story like you guys do, but basically, i was randomly searching stuff in google and found .hack//Infection. I thought I’d give it a try. Well, i can’t complian. Imagine what our lives would be without .hack…..

    scary…lol

  5. i love .hack too : )

    maybe because im a frikin mmorpg player :P
    i wis , someday ,somehow ,i can play ” the world ” as a common MMORPG ( with no comas ¬¬ )

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