If the Star Festival’s centennial celebration gives it added importance, it’s nothing next to Chrono Trigger’s Millennial Fair. Held to commemorate the kingdom of Guardia’s 1,000th year, the Millennial Fair was – especially for the 16-bit days – a pretty memorable way to begin a game. There was no menacing prologue, no opening battle, no hint of a shadowy villain with terrible plans; there was just a boy who was excited to go to the fair. And that fair, packed as it was with ultra-simple minigames and other distractions, turned out to be a pretty interesting place to hang out.
The Millennial Fair provided some of the game’s most memorable moments, which is saying a lot for a story that spans millions of years and can change depending on your actions. There’s the fight with Gato, a robot who rewards you for beating him, and the Tent of Horrors, which was really more about winning cool prizes (one of which becomes vital later in the game) than being even slightly scary. Of course, there’s also the first meeting between protagonists Crono and Marle, and a teleportation-machine disaster (totally possible in 1000 A.D.) that kicks off the whole time-traveling storyline. With that in mind, the Millennial Fair is more than just a fun holiday – it’s one of the most important in console-RPG history.
True, Life Day is just another thinly veiled MMO stand-in for Christmas. But what separates it from World of WarCraft’s Winter Veil or Final Fantasy XI’s Starlight Celebration is that it has an actual, historical grounding; it’s not just a fake holiday made up for a game, it’s a fake holiday made up for an awful TV special. Many of you might already be familiar with the Star Wars Holiday Special, but for those who haven’t yet seen it in all its mind-numbing, unsubtitled-Wookiee-grunting, ‘70s-variety-show glory, here’s a tiny taste of its seemingly nine-hour runtime via YouTube:
Unsurprisingly, George Lucas himself has disowned the production. And that makes a little surprising that the official Star Wars MMO would actually reference and poke fun at it, going so far as to recreate Saun Dann, the kindly old shopkeeper who pals around with the horrible, wailing lumps Chewbacca calls a family.
Above: Saun looks a little more jowly now than when we first saw him; must be the stress of all those Stormtroopers shoplifting from him
Whether Lucas is in on the joke or not, we really have to respect that kind of self-mockery, especially when it involves cheesy player activities like decorating trees (if you’re on the Rebel side) or stomping presents (if you’re a fun-hating Imperial). Other bonuses include acquiring one of those lizard-monkey-things that Jabba the Hutt likes to keep around, as well as a holo-table that you can presumably use to watch bizarre performances by chicken-like acrobats and Jefferson Starship.
Really, though, we love Life Day because its existence in Star Wars Galaxies is just another reminder that the same universe inhabited by Starkiller and Boba Fett is also home to a holiday during which Wookiees get together with their families, watch tacky disco acts and grunt meaningfully at each other for hours and hours and hours.
Dec 22, 2008
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