A Tribute to Jade Empire

(posted 9/18/2007)


Ah, Jade Empire. When it was first coming out, I had little or no interest in it. In fact, I was highly disappointed in BioWare for producing a game that was set in a colorful and borderline cartoonish rendition of fantasy China, and featured beat-em-up style gameplay instead of the traditional real-time-with-pause BioWare RPG fare. Furthermore, I knew you could only select a pre-made character from a list, instead of designing one yourself. All of this sounded highly disappointing.

But then something happened: I played the game. And guess what? I enjoyed the heck out of it! In fact, it's probably safe to say that this was the game that, surprisingly enough, cemented my position as a borderline BioWare-fanboy. Because even though I wasn't crazy about the setting or gameplay style, I quickly got into the game enough to no longer care - indeed, to actually enjoy them. All because I got wound up in the characters and the storytelling... and the fact that I was just having fun. So here's to BioWare for surprising the heck out of me!

You know those major spoilers I mentioned? Here it is: your Master Li from the beginning of the game turns out in the end to be Sun Li the Glorious Strategist, and the main villain of the storyline. Perhaps a bit cliché, and if you were like me, you were already expecting it, but hey, I think they still pulled it off in a believable manner. Personally, I was REALLY getting into it near the end of the game, and when it finally came to an end I found myself aching for more. Luckily I was playing the PC version so I just ran back through the whole game with my same character on Jade Master difficulty mode.

I wonder if there's anyone out there who didn't immediately choose to play as "Furious Ming" (thankfully you can at least rename your character) upon startup. I mean, he's really the only cool character you can choose. At first I wasn't going to make the minifig of him this detailed, but I just kept adding stuff on... and I think it turned out pretty well in the end. In fact, this whole set of minifigs may be some of my most detailed yet.

Here is Death's Hand, pretty much the signature character of the entire game, as you see him on all the promotional art. He's in a very Darth Vader-esque situation, as you'll later discover. This is only amplified by the fact that his suit looks quite a bit like Darth Vader's, which was actually loosely based on Samurai armor in the first place. By the way, my LEGO sword for Death's Hand was carved from a black Knights Kingdom 2 sword. The best LEGO swords ever for customizing.

So why, out of all of the NPCs who join your party through the course of the game, did I only choose to make the two girls? Well, here is your answer: I started making the whole party but later lost interest in the project, so I only ended up making Dawn Star here (she's the one in pink, and the first NPC to join... Imoen, anyone?). It's a bit difficult, but I had to either leave the backing on Dawn Star's uh... cloth hangings... or else reattach it after peeling it off. I quickly discovered it's easier to go the first route by partially peeling off the backing but then snipping off the bit you want to leave on and putting it back down. Did that make sense? I hope so.

Seriously though, Silk Fox is SO the coolest character. It's just obvious. Here are the reasons why:
- She's a ninja.
- She's a princess. (Yep, she's quite literally a Ninja Princess, just like the coveted LEGO minifig of the same name. Why do you think I used that head?)
- On the one hand, she doesn't give a crap (she's very callous toward the plights of others), but on the other hand, she's very careful and precise (definitely cares about the Empire as a whole).
- She's not just a "follower." When she joins your group, she practically takes over.
- At one point, she actually tells Sagacious Zu to shut up and go cry in a corner like he usually does. And guess what? He does! For some reason, I thought that was hilarious.
- If you have a romance with her (and why wouldn't you?), you can eventually become Emperor.
- There's more, but I think you get the idea.

Our heroes. Yes, near the end of the game, Silk Fox (aka Princess Sun Lian the Heavenly Lily) takes off her veil / ninja mask. Here we see the main character (in my case, I used one of the random names from the generator: "Scorpion Shanrui") using the double sabers style. Hint: to get this style, fight Crimson Khana in the arena fairly. She will then teach you her style called Crimson Tears. If you decide to fight her unfairly and use poison, not only are you a dishonorable, evil monster, but you also get a less powerful fighting style.

Ménage a trois.
By the way, he's some proof of my fanboyism: I own both the Special Edition of Jade Empire for the PC and the Limited Edition for the Xbox, as well as the game soundtrack CD (which is quite good by the way).

"Hold on, Charname. I sense something very... WRONG with this Focus Shrine!"
"Well, I dunno Dawn Star... maybe the fact that it's HUGE?"
Yeah, my Focus Shrine is waaay too big. I was originally going to make a complete diorama but when I finished my Focus Shrine and saw I should really start over and make it smaller... that was when I lost interest. So instead, I just present it to you as-is. Also, for the background, I simply used the Adventurers Orient Expedition castle set. Although, technically, the set belongs to my sister. Heh.

And in closing, I have only one thing to say:
If you don't get it, then you really need to play the game. Here's a clue: Look for the man in the cheese armor who sounds a lot like John Cleese (primarily because he is). Good luck!

The character minifigs shown on this page were made using custom decals (or "stickers" or "labels" if you prefer) that I designed myself.
If you would like to make your own minifigs, I now provide a printing service for my decals. Just click here: