This is a transcript excerpt covering the score awarded to Goodbye, Volcano High on the So Videogames podcast, episode 353: Wendy’s Chicken Sandwich 8.5/10
BRAD: The only thing I really have for housekeeping is I want to do a circle back. I’m trying to get into this habit of bringing something to the show, talking about it, but then I haven’t finished it. Right. But if I feel like it’s good enough to finish, I want to come back and do a score and I’m going to do that today. I did it. I think I’ve been doing it on the shows that you’re not here, but this is you’re finally here back so you can hear me doing it. Now I want to circle back to Goodbye Volcano High, which I played last episode and talked about that in depth. You can go back and hear the details there, but just for a brief recap, in case you didn’t hear that episode or for Carlos who wasn’t here, uh, goodbye. Volcano High is a visual novel slash animated film. It’s basically like this really high quality, super slick cartoon that you watch, but you also make choices, narrative choices. And you also do like some music, minigames and a few other minigames. [00:25:00] But large part, it’s, you know, I feel like it’s kind of fair to say it’s visual novel. But like it’s so slick. The graphics are fucking amazing. The animation is really amazing. The voice work is fantastic. Every voice in this game is just like tops. And I found out after the fact that it was Sarah Elmaleh who did the voice direction and she did a spectacular job. She understands voice directing 100%, and I couldn’t have been happier with the voices. Basically, the story is that you play a well, you play Fang, who I believe is an Archaeopteryx. I think every character in this game is a anthropomorphic dinosaur.
CARLOS: Oh, that’s what it is. Because I knew there was some sort of animal person.
BRAD: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Everybody is an anthropomorphic dinosaur, and this takes place back in prehistoric times, although it’s kind of a weird mix because they got shoes and there’s like iPods and, you know, like, they’re like kind of like human society ish, but they’re still dinosaur people. Anyway, they fang is in high school and the rest of her friends are in high school. It’s a fantastic coming-of-age story about where you are now, what your next phase of life is going to be, and when you sometimes grow apart from friends. Maybe you’ve been really close all through junior high or high school or whatever, but as you get close to that cusp of going out in the real world, you see that maybe not everybody is on the same track. Maybe some things that you’ve shared in the past, maybe you still share them, still friends. But like, you know, one person’s path is not the path for everyone. I mean, I don’t know about you, Carlos, but I remember going through that exact same thing when I was in high school where my best friend at the time started getting into some stuff that I wasn’t really too into. But, you know, we were still friends and everything. But then when we started talking about what we were going to do after high school, I mean, his ideas were very different from my ideas. I mean, I think he was going to enlist in the Navy, and I was like, I’m super not doing that. And so that may have been the right choice for him. It wasn’t the right choice for me, but we were still friends, but we just ended up being on different paths, right? Did you ever have that experience yourself?
CARLOS: I’m trying to think about that. Um, and by the way, this kind of brings up a note and it’s interesting. It’s kind of my first question before you even go into your final review of it. But like we have talked about games like this before and how it’s hard for us to connect to them. Yeah, because those moments are so far removed from our lives. Totally. Totally. Yeah. And so I’m just wondering how you found the connection there, because for me, it’s really hard to get into a game where I’m thinking about those choices that I made so long ago.
BRAD: Well, you know, that’s a good point because we have said that many times, and I don’t generally like teenage protagonists because I feel like they keep hitting the same tropes over and over and they don’t really do like much of an examination. Like, for example, like, you know, whenever you get like a teen protag and a jRPG or something, I’m just like, Oh, like, okay, whatever. Like it’s like the same, the same notes over and over. And it’s funny because speaking of openings and starfield and how, you know, people say it’s starfield, like it’s got you got to put 12 hours in before it gets good. Like in this game. Goodbye Volcano High. I think I played like the first opening scene, which is maybe like three minutes, four minutes I was in, dude. I’m like, Oh yes, I’m in. Like, this is. This has got me. So you don’t need 12 fucking hours to get somebody into your fucking game. You just need a good start to your game.
CARLOS:And another game I’ll talk about today also has that same kind of thing. So yeah, you can just get, you can get hooked right away.
BRAD: Yeah, you can. And so and I will be perfectly honest, dude, when I started this, I was like, okay, teenagers. I don’t know. I’m like this old crusty ass senior citizen. I don’t know if I can reconnect, but man, they totally got me, dude. I think the voices are great and that helps. The performances are very strong. I think also we don’t normally spend a lot of time on this particular aspect, right? Like when you’re on the cusp of breaking away. And I think that’s kind of what got me.
CARLOS: That’s the difference. Okay.
BRAD: Yeah. Like the difference of like I we are still friends, but we are no longer so close or we are making different choices and our choices, the thing that is right for me that is not right for you is what’s kind of driving us apart. And do you bridge that or do you not bridge that? So I think that was something that really resonated with me because you don’t even have to be a high schooler to have that. I mean, I can think of many friends, Um, you know, after I got out of high school in my adult life where it’s like, you know, we were friends and then all of a sudden they make a choice that I feel like I can’t get on board with or vice versa. And then maybe we’re still friends, but like, we’re not the same because of something that happened or, you know, they chose a different path or a different job or they moved or whatever, something like that. So, so that I think was kind of a really key part. But I think the other part was that and I don’t think this is a spoiler, I think they they think they talk about this in the trailer. It’s even in the opening logo. So I don’t feel like this is a spoiler.
BRAD: But, you know, the current theory about what happened to the dinosaurs is giant meteor. Right? Like wiped them out because of like, I don’t know, big, big meteor hit the earth dust cloud killed all life, etcetera, etcetera. So that’s in this game. Like as after the first couple moments, you realize there’s a giant fucking meteor heading for Earth and all these dinosaur people, they know about it and they’re like, It’s coming. And then to see how they deal with that really [00:30:00] connected me really strongly. I mean, in large part because of. Right. I mean, it’s funny because my I let my son play this, my 14 year old son, I’m like, I think you’d really like this because you’re like in the age bracket. Plus you’re going through some of this stuff, play this, let me know what you think. And he, like, he plays the game. Right after this first session, he comes up to me. He’s like, Dad, what the fuck? I’m like, What? He’s like, There’s a giant fucking meteor coming to hit Earth and like, this is not even believable. People aren’t even doing anything. I’m like, Oh, really? You think that’s not believable? What are people doing about Covid? And he’s like, uh.
CARLOS: All right. Yeah.
BRAD: So not only Covid, but also the ecological thing that we’re going through now, where Earth is literally boiling us to death and we’re fucking around. We’re just fucking around. We’re still boiling, we’re digging for oil and we’re burning gas and we’re not changing. We’re doing the wrong things.
CARLOS: But I was just going to say just not to tangent, but like in Seattle today, it’s going to be 80 and it’s like, no, no, no, no, no. And then like, oh, tomorrow I bring this up because again, people aren’t talking about it like, What the hell? It’s right in front of our faces. Tomorrow it’s going to go down to 71 or something and be like, Oh, kind of like fall weather again then. Then literally two days later, 80 again, and then like three days later, 88. Are you fucking kidding me? What is wrong? That’s like, what?
BRAD: What evidence do we need? Dude, what were We are. We are. Yes, we are living. It’s. We’re. We are neck deep in all these signs, all these scientists that are like, screaming at us, being like, oh, my God, the polar ice caps are melting. The the the global temperatures are rising. We’re seeing green. I fucking I just watched the news report yesterday. So Greece, they got three years worth of rain in two days. And now the government agrees to saying, well, you know, I think that maybe we’re going to have permanent lakes where we used to have dry land. That’s fucked up, dude. Like. So anyway, not that we need. I mean, this is all very serious.
CARLOS: It is very serious. Let me just finish that that tangent by saying, everybody go check out the movie. Don’t look up.
BRAD: Please go check out that movie. Yes.
CARLOS: Because that is exactly what we’re talking.
BRAD: Exactly. So so that’s I think what kind of got me right is because not only is it the divergence of path, not only is it the outstanding performances, the script, super organic, it feels like everybody in this is just like a person. I mean, they’re dinosaurs. Yeah, whatever. But put that aside. It just feels like people talking in a very realistic way. And I was I was easily getting sucked into it because I was like, Oh, those are the jokes I would kind of make. Or like I had a friend who talked like that or yeah, you know, like you can it feels real, right? But also the sense of impending fucking global disaster. And what does that mean for you on a day to day basis? Because these characters often say, Hey man, there’s like a big meteor coming. What am I supposed to do? And they’re like, Well, what can we do? Yeah. You know, in our particular case, there is stuff we can do. So that’s a whole different question. But the idea of like one individual person stopping one individual person stopping global warming or stopping fascism, right? One individual person feels kind of helpless. But if you get together with people, you’ve got some power. You get together with your local government or something, you’ve got more power. So that concept of like, how do you live your life on a day to day basis, minute to minute, hour to hour when you know, this giant fucking mack truck is going to come and smack the shit out of you? Yeah. And there’s nothing you can do to stop it, right? So that was very fascinating to me and I just really loved how they handled that. So even though on the surface, this doesn’t seem like something that either you or I would connect with, I was in from from the get go and it held my attention like all the way through, dude. Like, I was just I was I was glued to it.
CARLOS: You said enough things that that differentiate it from the kind of things that we can’t connect to. You know what I mean? Yeah, there’s like a multiple things going on there. So. Yeah, so it’s.
BRAD: It’s really good. Really good.
CARLOS: What’s this? You’re going to score this one? Yeah, I got to.
BRAD: Score this one. I feel like I just. I had a wonderful time all the way through. I really appreciated, I mean, number one, like the production quality, I can’t even describe to you how good it is. This could be easily like a TV show that you would watch, like some high quality cartoon that you’d watch on TV. Like it looks great, it moves great, sound is great. Everything is great. The art direction is great and the musical numbers are wonderful. I’m not usually a guy that gets swept away in the moment, but I was really feeling this. and music and I felt like it went really well with the game and the moments and everything. And when it got to the end, I feel like they. I feel like they fucking pulled it off. I feel like they got to the end. And I was like, okay. I feel like that was a good ending, you know? And that’s, I mean, real talk, dude. I was like, How the fuck are they going to end this? Like, is the meteor going to crash? Are they going to have happy ever after? Like, what’s going to happen? And I’m not going to spoil it, but like whatever ending they got to, I was like, Yeah, man, I felt that.
CARLOS: So, all right, what are you what are we giving it?
BRAD: All in all, this is pretty spectacular shit. Oh, one more thing. Also, I got to just say, this is an example of what video games can do, because I’m sure some people are going to be like, Well, you couldn’t this there was no platforming, there was no attack combo. There was, Oh, it’s not a game. It’s just a thing. Yeah. Okay, fine. Whatever. It’s an experience that you could only have in the video game medium, right? Like you got experience. Be there, be alongside these characters. You make your choices, you’re in it in a way that you wouldn’t be in, in a TV show or [00:35:00] a book or an audiobook or whatever This is. This is something video games can do, and I think this is a wonderful example of it. So I just really want to highlight that it doesn’t matter that, you know, you didn’t have an inventory or that there were no guns or anything. Like it’s just it is what it is. It’s just a video game experience. And I give this this experience altogether. Goodbye Volcano High. I give it a solid nine.
CARLOS: Whoa! Nine.
BRAD: Very good. Nine, solid nine.
CARLOS: And we don’t do scores much, so. That’s a pretty big deal. I was going to say also when you mentioned that conversation stuff, which I love in games like this, when they get it organically, like you said, super organically, it’s Night in the Woods, one of my favorite games.
BRAD: If you like Night in the Woods, you would like this game.
CARLOS: Yeah, because I’m going to. I’m going to download it because yeah, I just love that kind of like quiet little simple throwaway conversations that feel real, you know?
BRAD: That’s exactly that’s what this game is. From front to back, dude.
CARLOS: Oh, there you go. Okay, I’ll download it.
BRAD: All right. I had a wonderful time with Goodbye, Volcano High. It’s an amazing experience that could only be had in the medium of videogames. Absolutely Solid nine. There you go.
So Videogames Official Score: 9 out of 10
Code Source: Publisher
Platform Reviewed: PS5
ESRB Rating: T – Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes.
Subtitles: There are subtitles for most of the conversations in the game, although there are no lyrics onscreen when Fang is performing songs. There are options to change colors and other aspects of the subtitles in the menu, but I was not able to get the options to work during my playthrough. In its current state, this game is not fully accessible.
Controls: The controls cannot be remapped. There is no control diagram. The player selects choices with the analog stick and confirms/cancels with the face buttons. During music segments, the player will be holding the analog stick in a direction to ‘capture’ nodes, they will press face buttons in time to a beat, and they will flick both analog sticks in a particular direction to match some notes.