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Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas party! And BBS update

Going to be in Chicago for the next three days to celebrate the holidays with my extended family. Wishing everybody happy gaming in this post-Christmas season. ;D

Also, I beat the first campaign of Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, Terra's, and I'd like to share something I noticed. Remember how everybody complained Kingdom Hearts 2 was too easy? Well, Square listened.

Oh, boy, did they listen.

The difficulty of the game is actually very fair, up to a point. The difficulty spike of Terra's final boss (not going to spoil much here) is ludicrous. He's basically a copy of you, and has all of the abilities you had prior to entering the fight. In this regard, whatever preperations you had for the boss can be used right back at you, including your limit breaks, shotlocks, and healing spells. The ONLY way to do serious damage against him is to block and counter his attacks (which, by the way, if you get caught in one of his combos, you are DONE), deflect his ranged attacks back at him, or abuse your own shotlock and constantly recharge it with Elixers. Now, it's only natural that a final boss would be hard, but this one seemed overly so, especially compared to everything we'd fought prior to him.

Terra's story, at least, was interesting. I'll be starting Ventus' campaign next.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Old Review: Kingdom Hearts RE:Coded (DS)

My Review- Kingdom Hearts RE:Coded (DS)

It’s been more than five years since Kingdom Hearts II, the last installment in what could be called the ‘main’ Kingdom Hearts series. In that time, Square has made several side games in order to flesh in the Kingdom Hearts story, as well as to tie up loose ends and set up for what seems to be the series’ big conclusion in the ever-awaited Kingdom Hearts III. With 358/2 Days having covered the events in between Kingdom Hearts I and II, and prequel Birth by Sleep having set up the events of the entire series, it falls to RE:Coded, a remake of the Japanese cell phone game, to explain events in the immediate aftermath of Kingdom Hearts II. Does RE:Coded have a place in the series’ surprisingly expansive story, or is this one spin-off too many?

STORY

WARNING: In order to properly critique RE:Coded’s story, I have to talk about the ending of the game, so SPOILER ALERT.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Final Fantasy IX- First Impressions

It seems odd that, this Christmas, I completed my collection of the main numbered Final Fantasy titles (not including, of course, XI and XIV) when I got a PSP and Final Fantasy 1 and 2 for it. This segues into something completely unrelated, because I'm playing Final Fantasy IX as my current console playthrough after downloading it from the Playstation Network. So, there you go.

Final Fantasy IX is one of the most highly regarded RPGs of all time, one I'd been looking forward to playing for a while. While some people were put off by it's more colorful and cartoony aesthetic, myself and others really enjoy the game because of it's throwback to a more traditional style of Final Fantasy. It's more lighthearted tone and upbeat characters serve as a refreshing breath of fresh air after dealing with ennui-exuding protagonists such as Squall. It helps, too, that Final Fantasy IX is one of the best looking 32 bit RPGs ever made, rivalling Chrono Cross.

The plot stars Zidane, a happy-go-lucky bandit who, along with his band of merry men, tries to kidnap Princess Garnett of the kingdom of Alexandria. They are pursued by her loyal knight, Steiner, as well as a black mage named Vivi. I'm not very far into the story- I only just got out of the Ice Cavern- but so far, while the characters are clearly meant to invoke RPG archetypes (paladin, white mage, thief, etc.), they are still an interesting group of characters, and so far they don't seem generic or boring in the slightest. This is a game where use of classic RPG storytelling tropes serves it well.

Final Fantasy IX also has a very interesting character development system. Character abilities are tied to their equipment- by equiping a piece of armor or a weapon, characters will be able to use the ability tied to that piece of equipment (unless the character is unable to use that ability in the first place). Once enough AP is earned in battle, though, the character masters the ability and no longer needs the equipment to be able to use it- it's theirs to keep. If I could have one complaint about the game so far, it's that the Trance mode, the game's Limit Break system, takes a long time to build up, considerably more than those in other FF games. I've heard there is an ability later down the road which speeds up Trance mode, so we'll see if this remains an issue.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep- First Impressions

Well, I got a PSP for Christmas! With the Vita just around the corner, it's an ideal time to get a PSP, since there's lots of good games for it and the system is reasonably cheap. In addition to Birth by Sleep, I also got the first two Final Fantasies, and Crisis Core.

Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep is a game I was very excited for since it was announced. It's a prequel to the other Kingdom Hearts games, and fills in a number of plot holes while at the same time establishing the core plotline of future games (such as the much hoped-for Kingdom Hearts III).

Playing it for the first time, I am very impressed. While not quite on the level of the PS2 games, Birth by Sleep animated fluidly and the game looks very good. The environments aren't huge, but they get the job done, and the music is still (so far) fantastic. In Birth by Sleep, you play as three different Keyblade Masters in their seperate storylines. So far, I've only played as Terra, a character who focuses on physical attacks. The game's combat is also much improved over prior entries in the series. You still select commands from a menu, but rather than having to scroll through menus and submenus in order to select an action, all normal attacks are mapped to the X button. Special abilities, spells, and items can be slotted into a customizable menu, and are executed with the Triangle button. This makes combat a lot more fluid than previous games, and allows a greater degree of character customization.

I'm only a couple hours into Birth by Sleep, but so far the game is excellent fun. We'll see if this will last through the game's three storylines.

Also, I started Final Fantasy IX this morning. I haven't played enough to do a full post about it, but so far, the game is very good.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays!

I once again won't be posting much on this blog for the next few days, on account of it being Christmas. I will be spending time with my family and friends, meaning I won't have much time for internet shenanigans.

When I DO come back, however, I will finally have a new game that I will be playing for review, and will resume posting regular updates concerning my progress in that game, culminating in my next review. I don't know what i will play next, and neither do you, so it should be exciting! Once January 31 rolls around, I will hopefully begin Final Fantasy XIII-2.

Merry Christmas to you all. I hope you have a wonderful holiday, and I will see you later!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Dark Knight Rises- New Trailer

I really love Christopher Nolan's Batman films. I can't say I've ever been an enormous Batman fan (I was always more into Marvel comics), but Nolan's movies aren't just good Batman films- they're just great movies, period. Batman Begins was a promising start, The Dark Knight was a full-blown masterpiece. Hans Zimmer's score is one of my favorite soundtracks of all time. Needless to say, I'm very excited for the third and reportedly final installment in this series, the closing chapter of this saga.



Watching this trailer makes me excited, as much as the first teaser did, but I've got to wonder what's going on here. One of the things I've always loved about the Batman films is that the villians had a clear point of view concerning their actions and what they represented. Bane, the villian in this trailer, seems to represent anarchy, but it's hard to tell from this trailer. Doesn't help that he only has had one line of dialogue so far, and it's practically unintelligable (I know what he's saying, but it's a bit garbled).

Also, each film before this had had two main villians. Begins had Scarecrow and Ra's Al Goul. The Dark Knight had The Joker and Twoface. In Rises, we see Bane, but who's the second villian? Is it Catwoman, who's also in the trailer? Or is it somebody who we haven't heard of?

The Hobbit trailer

Back in seventh grade, a dog-eared copy of 'The Hobbit' served as my primary reading. I read and reread that book a dozen times when I was a kid, gorging myself on Tolkien's first adventure and starting my love of everything from fantasy literature to role-playing games. Later, I discovered The Lord of the Rings, and Peter Jackson's fantastic film trilogy based on them. To this day, Middle-earth is one of the greatest fantasy settings of all time, and Peter Jackson's films are timeless classics.

Next year, we get to go back.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Old Review: Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (PS3)

My Review- Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (PS3)

The Star Wars franchise has undergone an unfortunate shift over the last decade or so. The once great film series was sullied with three subpar prequel installments, and ever since then (some could argue even before that), Star Wars has never seemed to find it’s footing, alternating between great sci-fi and complete crap with seemingly every new entry. The Force Unleashed gained much attention upon it’s release, not only because of the promise of great action, but also because George Lucas stated that the game would bridge the gap between the two trilogies. Does Force Unleashed stand as a worthy addition to the series, or is it just another highly polished turd, like the prequels?

STORY (SPOILERS WILL FOLLOW)

The Force Unleashed begins with Darth Vader hunting a Jedi during the Battle of Kashyyk. Upon finding his target, he discovers that the Jedi has a son who is very strong in the Force. Killing the witnessing Stormtroopers, Vader takes the child under his wing, raising him as an apprentice. Fast forward a decade or so, and the apprentice, codenamed Starkiller, is hunting down the remaining Jedi Knights at Darth Vaders bidding, understanding that, should he grow strong enough, he and Vader will kill the Emperor and rule the galaxy.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Top Five Favorite Games

I wanted to do a top ten list at some point, but unfortunatly, it's been more difficult than I thought to compile a list of ten favorite games. What I could figure out, though, was my top 5 favorites. Consider this a 'preview' of a top ten list to come somewhere down the road. When I actually make the list in question, I'll describe each entry in detail.

My rules for making a list such as this are simple: I can only have one game per series of games that I like on the list (otherwise, Final Fantasy would completely dominate it). The only exception to this rule is if the games are different enough to warrant their own spot, or if I like them for different reasons.

5


4

3

2



1



Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Where I'm Going To Be

Well, it's that time of year again. Midterm exams. >_>

To be fair, they aren't all that difficult, and my grades have been pretty good this year, but still, I need to study a lot, so don't expect much new content here. I'll do my best to start posting regularly again over break.

While I'm here, after writing my Chrono Cross review, it seems like I've been leaving important details out of my reviews. I'm trying to improve my writing process accordingly.

If there's anything you'd like to see from this blog, email me or comment.

See ya in a week or so!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

XIII-2 Promotional Video

Found a very cool interview with the producer Yoshinori Kitase and director Motomu Toriyama of Final Fantasy XIII-2, going into detail about some of the new elements of the game. Check it out here: http://finalfantasyxiii2.wordpress.com/2011/12/08/final-fantasy-xiii-2-video-preview-with-new-clips-information/

Final Fantasy XIII-2 is out January 31 in the U.S. The game recently got a perfect 40/40 score from Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu.

My Review: Chrono Cross (PS1)

My Review: Chrono Cross (PS1)

            If you were to ask me what the definition of a ‘perfect’ video game was, I’d probably show you my copy of Chrono Trigger and answer, “This”.  Squaresoft’s Super Nintendo classic combined the talents of prominent developers from both Squaresoft and then-rival Enix, and this mixture of developer talent created one of the most beloved RPGs of all time, featuring a cast of lovable characters, gorgeous graphics, and a fantastic soundtrack composed by Yasunori Mitsuda and Final Fantasy standby Nobuo Uematsu. To this day, there hasn’t been an RPG quite like Chrono Trigger- it’s a one-of-a-kind masterpiece. Needless to say, when Squaresoft began working on a sequel for the Playstation, expectations were justifiably high. Chrono Cross, released in 2000, distances itself a bit from its predecessor, featuring several new gameplay and storyline features. This was, I fell, a wise decision, because once it steps out of its predecessor’s shadow, Chrono Cross is just as ahead of its time and imaginative as Chrono Trigger.

            STORY

            Fate has no forgiveness for those who dare stand against it.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Old Review: Fire Emblem- The Sacred Stones (GBA)

My Review- Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones (GBA)

I have a confession to make- up until now, I had never played a Fire Emblem game. The Fire Emblem series is noteworthy in that they were the very first Strategy RPGs, although we only recently started seeing localizations of the games. The Sacred Stones is only the second game released in the US, despite being the 8th in the series. As my introduction to the series, how does it fare?

STORY

As is typical for the genre, Fire Emblem’s story is steeped in the political and military situation between multiple kingdoms. When the kingdom of Renais is attacked by their former ally, the Grado Empire, Renais’s prince Ephraim goes to fight the invaders, but goes missing. His sister, Eirika, manages to escape Ranais with the aid of a loyal knight, and attempts to gain the support of other nations while attempting to find her brother. Along the way, Eirika and Ephraim discover that the Empire is attempting to destroy the Sacred Stones that protect the land from a malevolent demon sealed away long ago.

Sacred Stones won’t win any awards for originality. It’s story is filled with clichés. However, despite this, the simple story is very well told, and the characters, despite their generic roles, are quite endearing. One staple of the Fire Emblem franchise is that the death of a character in battle means that they are lost forever, and because every unit in your army is a fully fleshed out character, you quickly grow attached to them, and losing them can be a saddening experience. I cannot tell you how many times I replayed a difficult mission so that a character could live to fight another day. Sacred Stones is unoriginal, but it’s tale has enough heart to be engaging.

My Backlog

Just posting what games I currently have on deck to eventually play. This doesn't include games on my 'to purchase' list, and this list will be bigger after Christmas. xD

CONSOLE

Final Fantasy IX
Xenogears
Vagrant Story

Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King (I've had this game since I got my PS2, and Ive tried to play it at least three times. I keep getting sidetracked.)
Dark Cloud

HANDHELD
Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation

I'm looking forward to playing all of these games. I'm not sure yet what I'll be playing after Chrono Cross, but stay tuned.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Chrono Cross Delayed, and Future Plans.

I'm really loving Chrono Cross. The game is one of the best Playstation RPGs I've played, with a really interesting storyline, great music, and a fun combat system. Unfortunatly, I have exams coming up, so I won't be able to play as much as I would like for the next week or so.

On the plus side, I'm on the part where you got back to Fort Dragonia and get Serge's body back, so I'll hopefully be able to play for a couple hours this weekend. After exams, I'll try to beat the game and have my review up before Christmas.

After Chrono Cross, my next game will depend on what games I end up getting for Christmas. I will hopefully be playing and reviewing both Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Xenoblade Chronicles as soon as they come out, and there are quite a few other new games coming out soon that I am eager to play. I'm hoping to find and play the Digital Devil Saga games for PS2, but I want to finish the games in my backlog before buying any older releases (I need to play Xenogears, Vagrant Story, and Final Fantasy IX). I'm also planning on obtaining the Xenosaga trilogy and the .hack games (the original series and .hack// G.U.) when I'm in college and have a bit of income from whatever work I can find.

Anyways, that's all for todays update. I've got a lot of great gaming to look forward to in the future. Any games you're planning on playing soon? Post them in the comments.

                                                   Easily the game I'm most looking forward to purchasing once I have time.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Prose Poem

This is a prose poem I wrote the other day for my Creative Writing class.








Last Trip To LJs
Peter Triezenberg

Down the road, across the street, and to the left if you walked from the college, they opened the familiar doors and were immediately struck by the pleasant scents of warm coffee and melted chocolate. Sitting down, the girl looked at her shaking hands, while the boy quickly removed a few crumpled bills and walked to the counter. When he returned and sat down, his movements were brisk, to the point. “Well?” he demanded. The girl looked up, and she could barely see him through the liquid mirrors forming in her eyes. “Well?” The voice grew harsher, mocking her from several hundred feet away, on the other side of the table. “Explain.” She winced, withdrawing her shaking hands to her bruised midsection, feeling lingering pain from her last attempt to explain her wrongdoings. The drink arrived, but it sat uneaten, except for when the boy lazily tipped the spoon through it, mixing swirls of snowy cream and dirty chocolate as the girl desperately tried to tell him why she had done what she did, and trying to understand herself. He looked up, fire burning where she saw water. Slowly, coldly, every word that came from his mouth was an attack, a frozen needle gouging a beating pincushion in her chest. His voice rose, his rage evident, all she could do was look at the drops of perspiration on the table, ashamed and frightened.

But when they left, there was no anger, no shouting, and no tears. There was only wonder, and silence.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Old Review: Final Fantasy VI (GBA)

I finished this game in September, and wrote this review immediately after. Without a doubt, Final Fantasy VI is one of the best RPGs in existence, and arguably Square's finest work. Also, seeing as the game is out this Tuesday on PSN, I figure this was timely. ;P


My Review- Final Fantasy VI (GBA)

            Every series has a game which pretty much every other installment is compared too, a game which embodies the creative ideas behind the franchise. For example, Zelda has Ocarina of Time, a game which many consider to be one of the best video games ever made. For Square’s venerable Final Fantasy series, that game is arguably Final Fantasy VI. Originally released on the SNES as Final Fantasy III, the sixth fantasy is one of Square’s most famous RPGs ever, and remains to this day an excellent installment in this great series.

            STORY

            Could anyone be so foolish as to repeat that deadly mistake?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Chrono Cross- Dragons!

High time for another Chrono Cross update, isn't it?

Anyways, my current party is Lynx, Norris, and Fargo. Lynx is fully outfitted with Stone Armor, while the others have a mix of Mythril and Stone equipment (the required materials to forge Stone equipment have so far been hard to come by). I've defeated the Blue and Yellow Dragons, and am in the process of finishing the Mastermune side quest (which will nab me Serge/Lynx's ultimate weapon).

One thing I like about Chrono Cross is the number of different perspectives on the story you can get. Despite having so many potential party members, the story remains cohesive- plot-centric characters will be at important events wether you have them in your party or now, and having certain party members can trigger different scenes (If Norris is in your party at The Dead Sea, for instance, you can find information about Lavos, the parasitic monstrosity from Chrono Trigger). It adds a bit of personality to the game, as the party members you've chosen change the overall feel of the story just enough to develop their characters, but the story as a whole doesn't change. I like this.

As a side note, the scene at the end of The Dead Sea (and the accompanying music, 'Prisoners of Fate') has got to be one of the most haunting moments I've seen in an RPG. The entire Dead Sea section, as a matter of fact, was excellent. Chrono trigger never stopped to wonder if there would be negative repurcussions because of the player's action, and Chrono Cross dives into some pretty deep territory here. Also, Norris is a surprisingly awesome party member. His special attacks are great.

I'll hopefully have Cross wrapped up in a week or two. With exams coming up, I probably won't be playing much next week, but I'll do my best to finish the game and have a review up before Christmas and 2012-RPG release-geddon (XIII-2, Type-0, Xenoblade Chronicles, Ni no Kuni, and Tales of Graces F have been confirmed, and Im holding out hope for The Last Story and Versus XIII as well. I'm going to be a busy gamer).

Friday, December 2, 2011

Xenoblade Chronicles Is Coming!

It's been a really good week for much-hoped for localizations. The other day, Final Fantasy Type 0 was seemingly confirmed, and today, the much sought after Wii RPG Xenoblade Chronicles was announced for a US release in April 2012. There are details all over the Internet, but here's a link anyway: http://www.rpgfan.com/news/2011/2497.html

Xenoblade Chronicles is one of the three games petitioned for by Operation Rainfall, and is considered by many to be the best JRPG released in years. My anticipation for this title is quite high- not only is it a superb game, it also implements many of the elements I feel will improve the overall standing of Japanese Role-playing games in general. If this game does well, who knows what will happen.

Also, it seems that they'll be keeping the excellent European voice acting. :D

Anyways, it's due out in April. Time to buy a Wii...

EDIT: Apparently Xenoblade Chronicles has already become the fifth best-selling Wii title of all time based on pre-orders alone, and is the second most anticipated game for Gamestop. This is excellent news- the more sales and popularity, the more likely these types of games will see US releases. It would appear that Nintendo vastly underestimated the demand for a quality JRPG. Like I've been saying before- there is a void, and now that a quality game is to be made available, it sells well.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Square Enix's New RPG

Recently, Square Enix liscenced use of the Unreal Engine for use in several unnamed projects. All we knew about the end result was that it would be an action RPG for consoles. Today, on a website asking for new programmers, we see our first piece of art for the still-unnamed game.

Color me intrigued. :D

Old Review- Dragon Quest IX (DS)

In all honesty, one of the best RPGs in recent memory. I wrote this review in March, right before I beat the game.

My Review- Dragon Quest IX : Sentinels of the Starry Skies (DS)

The Dragon Quest series is one of the most famous in RPG history, right up there with Final Fantasy. Created by Square’s rival company Enix, the Dragon Quest series began on the NES and is widely seen as the first ‘console-style’ role-playing game. The series was taken over by Square Enix (the two rivals having merged), and with help of developer Level Five (creators of Dark Cloud and Rogue Galaxy), they brought the series into the 21st century with Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King, which is often recognized as one of the best role-playing games on the PS2.. Journey of the Cursed King had a massive open world, superb voice acting, and a lengthy quest, while keeping series traditions intact. It was surprising, then, when series creator Yuji Horii announced that the 9th installment would be on the Nintendo DS rather than a modern console. Dragon Quest IX continues the trend of obscenely long subtitles, but does it live up to its respected name?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Final Fantasy Type 0 and Versus XIII To Be Localized

Cue thunderous applause and cheering from yours truly.

It seems that Yoshinori Kitase says that both Final Fantasy Type 0 and Versus XIII are in the process of recieving english localizations. Type 0, of course, has had it's localization status in doubt due to poor overseas PSP sales.

In even better news, Kitase claims that the Versus XIII team is 'hard at work finishing the game', and that there will be more details revealed soon. Excellent news.

You can read what he says here.

EDIT: Looks like Type-0's localization has been confirmed in the Ultimania. :D Check it out.




Sunday, November 27, 2011

Chrono Cross: The Dead Sea!

Just a quick Chrono Cross update, I'm on the section where you play as Lynx instead of Serge, which takes up a surprisingly large portion of the game. I just finished the S.S. Zelbess portion of the game, which means it's on to the Isle of the Dead and The Dead Sea next. This is a part of the game I've been looking forward too for a long time, because it sets up a lot of the connections between Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross.

Cross is still an excellent game, and playing as Lynx allows a number of new techniques and party members to be experimented with (FeralCats FTW). My current party is Lynx, Harle, and Norris, all outfitted with Mithril equipment.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

JRPGs, dead? Hardly.

Anyone who stumbles across this blog will quickly realize that I am quite fond of console-style role-playing games, or to use their current term, Japanese role-playing games. These ‘JRPG’s have provided some of the greatest moments in gaming for me, filling my world with imaginative characters and a unique kind of gameplay that I grew to love.


‘JRPG’s were once extremely popular in the gaming community. While never expressly un-popular, the genre exploded into the mainstream with the release of Final Fantasy VII.  The Playstation era of RPGs featured many classic games, but thanks to Final Fantasy VII, these games were explosively popular. Games like Final Fantasy VIII and IX, Xenogears, Vagrant Story, Legend of Dragoon, and others provided the cultural definition of video game RPGs. This popularity continued and expanded with the PS2 era, when Final Fantasy X introduced many more into the RPG fold.


Today, however, these wonderful RPGs, once the pinnacle of gaming excellence, are fading- or so we’re told. The rise of the ‘western role-playing game’ has crushed the Japanese variety, with their more involving plotlines and focus on personal freedom- or so we’re told. JRPGs, we are told, are a dying art.


This is wrong. To be even more frank, this is bullshit.



Friday, November 25, 2011

My Top 5 Gaming Wishes

Well, Thanksgiving has come and gone. Now that I'm back from my not-actually-that-long haitus from Turkeyland, I feel like prepping for the next holiday season. These five items are things I personally would love to see in the near future (not in any particular order). So, here you go.

5- Final Fantasy Versus XIII gets a 2012 Release Date.
A guy can dream, right? Seriously, though, this one has gone on long enough. Square has been teasing this game ever since Final Fantasy XIII was announced, and seeing as they've been saying they want to cut development times down, I'm hoping we can see their six-years-in-the-making action RPG sooner rather than later.

4- Kingdom Hearts 3 gets announced for current-gen consoles- specifically, PS3.
This is another one that may exist only in the realm of wishful thinking, but it's still a strong desire of mine. The Kingdom Hearts series has mostly been releasing spinoffs (Birth by Sleep being the closest thing to a 'main' title we've seen in years), and many fans are pining for a true current-gen Kingdom Hearts game for Playstation 3. The labyrinthine narrative of Kingdom Hearts needs to find some closure, but more than anything else, I want this game to be out before Square can be tempted to new hardware.

3- JRPG comeback
The classic role-playing games of yesteryear have been overshadowed of late by their Western counterparts, which is a shame, but not entirely unfounded. That's not to say we haven't gotten great JRPGs over the years, but few of them were truly innovative. I was disapointed with the gaming community's reaction to the delightfully experimental Final Fantasy XIII, but  I do feel that a truly great JRPG, one that will revitalize the genre, is just around the corner. As excited as I am for Level 5 and Studio Ghibli's excellent looking Ni no Kuni, which may be the best JRPG in years, I don't think it's the type of game to hit the innovative sweet spot the genre needs right now. We'll have to wait and see.

2- Operation Rainfall Is Successful.
If you don't yet know what Operation Rainfall is, look it up and support them. They are a grassroots movement petitioning Nintendo to localize three excellent looking JRPGs for Wii- The Last Story, Xenoblade Chronicles, and Pandora's Tower. Remember how I was looking for a great and innovative game that could revitalize the genre? Xenoblade could very well be that game, as could The Last Story (itself made by famed Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi). The fact that these games weren't instant candidates for localization is just sad.

1- Mistwalker makes a PS3 title.
Mistwalker studios is the company helmed by Hironobu Sakaguchi, and has made excellent RPGs such as Blue Dragon, Lost Odyssey, and The Last Story. Sakaguchi apparently has a grudge against Sony (he's mentioned this before), and all of his big titles have been on 360 (which shot him in the foot with regards to sales) or Wii. While I've been hoping for years to see PS3 versions of Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey (ESPECIALLY Lost Odyssey), I'd settle for an original game from them. Think you and Sony can put your differences aside, Hironobu? For me? Please?

Well, that's that. What are your gaming wishes?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Old Review: Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days.

Hello! So, I'm going to be out of town for Thanksgiving for the next couple of days, so this'll be the last post you see until Saturday at the earliest. So, here's a review of a game I'm quite fond of.

Also, a question: Is Golden Sun: Dark Dawn worth checking out? Comment if you have an answer.


My Review- Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days

The Kingdom Hearts series has evolved from a successful experiment into one of Square’s principle franchises, and many of Square’s most beloved characters come from this surprisingly complex tale. One of these characters is Roxas, KH protagonist Sora’s Nobody (basically an other self). Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days is an interquel detailing Roxas’ time in Organization XIII prior to the events of Kingdom Hearts II. It also has the distinction of being the first Kingdom Hearts game on the DS. Does this portable adventure have the magic of it’s predecessors?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Kitase- New Final Fantasy every year?

So, in a recent interview, Yoshinori Kitase, the producer of the Final Fantasy series, says that he would like to see Final Fantasy releases follow the example of best-selling Western games, releasing every one or two years. Following in the footsteps of franchises such as Call of Duty and Assassin's Creed, Kitase hopes to keep the attention of fans by releasing games at a faster rate, saying that one of XIII's problems was it's overly long development cycle and it is this new policy that allowed them to finish Final Fantasy XIII-2 in eighteen months.

Here's a link. http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/114322-Square-Enix-Wants-a-New-Final-Fantasy-Every-Year

Hey, I'm all for it, guys. I'd love to play new FF games more often. Just, does this mean we'll see Versus XIII next year? Please?

Give me this game.

EDIT: There's also been some more news concerning XIII-2, now that the main game is finished. Among other things, there will be a New Game + type feature, and you will have the ability to 'rewind time' in order to replay old areas whenever you want, allowing you to get alternate 'paradox' endings by alternating the timeline. Here is the news.

Monday, November 21, 2011

11/21/2011 Chrono Cross Update

I'm about ten hours into Chrono Cross right now, and I'm surprised that I'm actually a bit further along than I thought I was. I'm ready to head to Mt. Pyre, which is right before the second encounter with Lynx (and a rather important story moment). Chrono Trigger wasn't an incredible long game, so I guess it's no surprise that Cross follows suit.

My current party is Serge, Kid, and Glenn, and I use Guile whenever Kid isn't in the party. Serge and Glenn can use a Dual Tech called X-strike, a very powerful ability that also references Crono and Frog's Dual Tech in Trigger. Everyone has a full set of Iron armor and whatever accessories are necessary.

I'm also getting used to Chrono Cross's level up system. Essentially, every boss fight earns the party a new star, which usually adds a new Element Slot for each character and provides a large stat bonus. From there, characters occasionally gain HP and other stat bonuses after normal battles.

Chrono Cross remains an excellent game, and I'm looking forward to playing more of it over Thanksgiving break. Look for a review in a few weeks.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Why I'm Not Playing Skyrim- Yet.

Two reasons.

1- I've heard not-so-good things about the number of glitches in the console version of the game, specifically the PS3 version. Apparently the game starts slowing down once you reach a certain point in the game. It's only natural for Bethesda games to be released unfinished, but it's still annoying and I want to wait until they iron it out.

2- Don't they usually release a GOTY edition later with all the DLC? ;)

So, yeah. That's why I'm not exploring Tamriel at this very minute. Just thought I should let you know.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Old Review- The Battle for Middle-earth 2 (PC)

My Review- The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth 2 (PC)

The original Battle for Middle-earth is easily one of my favorite strategy games, and it’s still probably the best of the games based on the Lord of the Rings films. The original game already covered the majority of the film’s material, though, so I don’t think anybody really expected a sequel. However, EA managed to secure a LOTR book license in addition to the original movie license, opening a wide range of content from Tolkien’s masterwork. Do the added content and tweaked mechanics make BFME2 a better game than the original?

STORY

The original BFME featured a watered-down version of the film’s plot, putting the player in control of the major battles from the films. BFME2, being based more on the books, instead focuses on The War in the North, a separate campaign of the War of the Ring that was mentioned in the appendices of The Return of the King. The idea is that, while Gondor and Rohan were fighting Sauron’s main army at Minas Tirith in the south, there was another huge war going on with the Goblins of the Misty Mountains and Sauron’s other army from Dol Goldur, fighting against the Elves of Rivendell and Lothlorian and the Dwarves of the Lonely Mountain. BFME2 makes the most of it’s dual licenses, combining the look and feel of the films with several locations and characters from the books.

Friday, November 18, 2011

New XIII-2 Screenshots

We have a few new screenshots for Square Enix's upcoming RPG, Final Fantasy XIII-2. There are a lot more than this available at other websites, bit I thought I'd share a few. Most notably, ones that show off the new Crystarium system.









Is that Behemoth wearing a bow tie? Lol.



Looking good, but I have one small nagging complaint. In the original XIII, each character had their Crystarium split into a section for each of their Classes- a Commando one, a Ravager one, etc. In this, all the classes apparently are on a single Crystarium. I'm interested in how this works.

Final Fantasy XIII-2 is out January 31, and I'm excited.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Old Review- Final Fantasy XIII (PS3)

This was one of the first reviews I wrote. Looking back, I could've written it better, but I stand by my original thoughts on the game. It's good, just not great.


My Review- Final Fantasy XIII (PS3)

Final Fantasy XIII is the latest (XIV doesn’t count) entry in the venerable franchise, and is a polarizing game among longtime series fans. Many love it, others despise it. And indeed, FFXIII seems a very different game, at least initially, from its famed predecessors. Haters will hate, but does this game deserve the derision it gets from many gamers? Let us see.

STORY

Despite the many cosmetic changes and extraneous details, the story is classic Final Fantasy at its core. FFXIII’s story explores the relationship between two worlds- Cocoon, a massive city-world contained within a giant sphere, and Pulse, the even larger world that Cocoon floats over. Ages ago a war was fought between the two worlds, and ever since the two have lived in mutual fear of each other. The people of Cocoon are protected from Pulse by magical beings called Fal’cie, and ruled over by the Sanctum, who uses fear of Pulse to control the populace. When a Fal’cie of Pulse origin is found inside Cocoon, the Sanctum begins a ‘Purge’ of all who could possible be tainted by Pulse. This brings together an improbable crew of heroes who are branded as ‘L’cie’- servants to a Fal’cie- by the Pulsian entity, and are on the run from their own government that now seeks to the destroy them. The six heroes all have different reasons for fighting, but fight they must, to change their fates and protect their homeland.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Ni No Kuni- New Footage

RPGFan posted a great deal of new footage from Level 5's latest game, and their collaboration with famed anime company Studio Ghibli, Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the Whitw Witch for PS3

http://www.rpgfan.com/news/2011/2403.html

The game looks absolutely gorgeous, but that's not the only reason to be excited. When one of the best RPG companies out there team up with the makers of great films such as Spirited Away and Ponyo, you know the end result will be something special.

Ni no Kuni is scheduled for a US release in 2012. I've been waiting for a great JRPG like this- looking forward to it.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Chrono Cross Update

I'm still not particularly far into the game, but I wanted to mention something.

One of Chrono Cross's hooks is that the playable cast is MASSIVE. There are more than forty playable characters. A few of them join you as you progress through the story, but the vast majority of them are optional, and require you to talk to them at a specific point, make a certain decision, or do a small sidequest. Chrono Cross has a great deal of variety in it's playable cast, which is great for any RPG.

The problem? I've already missed three of them, and I'm only on the Viper Manor. Darn it. I did recruit Guile, and Glenn is my next target, which means I miss out on Katcha. The point in Cross is to use New Game + to recruit characters you missed, because it's impossible to get all the characters the first time through.

I'm still enjoying Chrono Cross very much, minor setbacks aside. The combat and character growth systems are interesting, the game looks and sounds great, and it provides a lot for players to discover for themselves.

Note to self: if the NPC has a picture and a name, it can be recruited...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

GT Skyward Sword Review

I'm not trying to be picky here. Gametrailers still give Skyward Sword a good review, but does it seem that they're trying too hard to find flaws?

http://www.gametrailers.com/video/review-hd-zelda-skyward/723946#new_comment

Oh, well.

Skyward Sword looks excellent. I don't yet have a Wii to play it on, but as a huge Zelda fan, I might just have to get one to play this.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Chrono Cross: First Impressions

It's impossible to say just how excited I am to be finally playing this game. Chrono Cross, the sequel to Square's SNES classic Chrono Trigger, was released on the PSN this past Tuedsay. Trigger remains one of the best role-playing games ever made, and Chrono Cross has a lot to live up too.

It was perhaps wise of the developers to not try to capture lightning in a bottle again. Chrono Cross is technically a direct sequel to Trigger, but features enough changes to make it stand out on its own. It bears a few stylistic and gameplay similarities to it's predecessor, but as a whole Chrono Cross is it's own beast.

While the game does feature some of the time-travel that served as Trigger's main element, Chrono Cross instead focuses primarily on parallel worlds, with two similar-yet-different worlds that the player sqitches between. This mechanic is quite similar to the Time Gates from Trigger. I haven't played enough of the story to write about it yet, but the game features an entirely new cast in the world many years after Trigger ended. From what I can gather, there have been many changes in this time, so it'll be interesting to see exactly what happened. There have been a few references to Trigger already, including in the way we meet the main character (being woken up by his mom).

Gameplay-wise, Cross retains it's forbear's lack of random encounters- all enemies are in the field and can be avoided. There are also no enemies in the Overworld, which makes getting to your next destination much easier. Combat, however, is quite different from Trigger. Battles transition to a seperate field instead of seamlessly occuring in the area you were exploring, and the combat is a more traditional turn-based system rather than the active-time battles from Trigger. That's not to say Cross doesn't have it's share of innovations. I don't have a full grasp on the mechanics, but characters are allowed to attack multiple times a turn until their 'stamina' depletes. Character attacks have three levels- weak, strong, and fierce- and by successfully landing blows, the odds of landing another attack increase. Also, by successfully landing blows, you become able to use more powerful special skills known as Elements, which are similar to the Techs from Chrono Trigger. Speaking of things I haven't figured out yet, characters don't seem to 'level up'- sometimes characters earn stat bonuses after battle, and every so often they gain a new Element Slot to equip Elements with, and gain several stat bonuses, which is sort of like leveling up, but I'm not sure what triggers it. Hopefully I'll figure out more about how Cross plays quickly.

From what little I've played so far, Chrono Cross is a very enjoyable RPG. I can't quite say whether it lives up to the timeless classic that preceded it, but we'll see.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Call of Duty Article

I found a very interesting post concerning the Call of Duty series on Kotaku, whoch I thought I'd share. Here it is: http://kotaku.com/5858098/why-its-stupid-to-hate-call-of-duty

I generally agree with the article. While I don't like the Call of Duty series, and I find that a lot of people I find distasteful are also fans of the series, there is absolutely nothing wrong with liking them if that's your thing. I think it's somewhat of a lazy series- I say the same about anything that releases a new game yearly, but that's not a legitimate reason to hate Call of Duty.

Still, I don't think it's proper to say that anyone who hates on CoD is just being a bigot. The reason I don't play them is because I think they don't provide me with any lasting value on a storytelling front. Let's face it- by and large, the Call of Duty games are empty experiences. They have some cool setpiece moments and whatnot, but they really don't provide anything of substance in their stories. Some will say that this is because the series is focused on multiplayer, but I find this to be an even worse trait of the series- why pay $60 yearly just for the same multiplayer game?

Perhaps if CoD attempted to be something other than a 12-year-old's masturbatory war fantasy, and perhaps tackled some of the more disturbing or deep aspects of war, then I would give it a pass. As it stands, to me it pales in comparison to some of the great FPS games out there, and is simply an overrated and overpriced series of trite shoot-em-ups, and while it's fine if that's all you're looking for, the continued popularity of Call of Duty may mean we won't get anything better for a while.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

XIII-2 Collector's Edition

Square announced today that Final Fantasy XIII-2 would have a Collector's Edition available in North America, which is available for preorder today for $79.99, $20 more than a normal retail copy of the game. It comes in a special case, and comes packaged with a four-disc soundtrack and an artbook, as well as whatever retailer-specific preorder bonus you would have gotten.

Check it out.



Sweet. I might actually order this instead of the normal copy I had planned on.

XIII-2 will be out January 31'st in the US.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Old Review: Kingdom Hearts 2 (PS2)

My Review- Kingdom Hearts II (PS2)

The first Kingdom Hearts is a classic action-RPG, despite the odd premise of a Disney-Final Fantasy crossover. In recent years, the series has spawned numerous spin-offs and side stories, but in 2006, Kingdom Hearts received a true sequel. Kingdom Hearts II brought numerous improvements to the slight problems the original had, but it also brought a change in tone and style that directed the future of the franchise. Does it live up to it’s famous predecessor?

STORY

Kingdom Hearts II begins a year after Chain of Memories, and immediately after 358/2 Days. At the start of the game, you’re playing as a boy named Roxas (the protagonist of Days, who has no memory of past events) in the world of Twilight Town, via tutorial. Roxas is having mysterious dreams about Sora, the protagonist of the Kingdom Hearts series, but he has no idea what they mean. Roxas also discovers that he is capable of using the Keyblade. Over the course of the week, we discover Roxas’ identity (if you’ve played Days, you already know), why he has a Keyblade, and his connection to Sora, and from there the real plot of Kingdom Hearts II begins.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Christianity in Games

This is a really interesting article I found on The Escapist, just thought I'd share it. The writer makes a few interesting points concerning religious symbolism in various game series, including one of my favorite Square classics, Xenogears.

For those who don't know, Square has worked religious references into their games for a long time. It's no surprise that Final Fantasy VII's main villian is named after the Sephirot (look it up), or that his final battle music and form draw inspiration from Seraphim. But in Xenogears, Square took religious symbolism to an all new high. Xenogears is easily one of the most philosphically drenched games out there, beginning with a bible quote, featuring allusions to Cain and Abel, the Ark, and ending with the player literally killing 'God'.

Here's the link: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/features/9200-Turn-the-Other-Cheek


Chrono Cross is Out Today

In case you haven't heard, Square's 2000 classic Chrono Cross was rereleased on the PSN today for $9.99.

I just downloaded it and played the first five minutes, and I am very excited. Chrono Trigger remains one of my favorite games, and is perhaps the perfect 16 bit RPG (I like it even more than Final Fantasy VI). Needless to say, Chrono Cross has a high pedigree of excellence to live up to.

With classic Square games, one can expect quality. When a game is a sequel to a masterpiece like Chrono Trigger, quality is essential. I'll have a first impression of the game up once I've played more if it, and I sincerely hope Chrono Cross ends up appealing to me as much as it's predecessor did.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Top Ten Gaming Events of 2010

This is a little bit of silliness I did last year. It's a mostly satirical summary of last years gaming culture.

Ten big things that happened to us gamers.

10- Sony and Microsoft become little piggies- that is, the ones that went "Wii, Wii, Wii", all the way home.
At this point, you've probably heard of Playstation Move and Microsoft Kinect, both companies blatant attampts to cash in on the sucess of Nintendo's massively popular Etch-a-sketch (also a gaming system, apparently), the Wii. Well, both of these cash-grabs hit stores this year, to surprising acclaim from the idiot masses who apparently didn't have Wii's yet. Proof that Americans have way too much disposable income?

9- StarCraft II- part 1 hits shelves.
The game that most of us have been waiting to play for more than a decade (apparently), Starcraft II, his shelves last summer. Blizzard, apparently deciding that the wait could be capitalized on even after the games release, decided to release the game in three parts, only packaging one third of the actual game in the box at release. Thanks, Blizzard. As if WOW doesn't make you guys enough money.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Old Review: Final Fantasy VII (PS1)

My Review- Final Fantasy VII (PS1)

Final Fantasy VII is one of the most famous RPGs in history. Critically acclaimed at the time of it’s release, it has been hailed as both a technical milestone for the role-playing genre, as well as the game which popularized console RPGs in the states. However, it has been more than a decade since this game’s release, and time is rarely kind to classic games. As a fan weaned on newer Final Fantasies, how does FF7 hold up in 2011? If you can believe it, pretty well.

STORY

Final Fantasy VII’s story begins with the protagonist, one Cloud Strife, aiding a group of bioterrorists known as AVALANCHE as they attempt to destroy a reactor belonging to the sinister Shinra Corporation. These reactors, located in the giant city of Midgar, are draining the life energy from the Planet, converting them into Mako Energy to power the city. Cloud and a large array of colorful characters must attempt to save the planet from Shinra Corp., but a more sinister force also seeks the destruction of the planet- that of Sephiroth, a former Shinra SOLDIER that seeks revenge on the company and the world.

Chrono Cross! and Update.

So some new PS1 classics are coming out soon, including a game I've been waiting to play for a long time.

Chrono Cross, the sequel to my all-time favorite RPG Chrono Trigger, comes out on PSN this week. I've already got the money to purchase it in my account, so that'll probably be the next game I play for review. Classic Squaresoft games are some of the best games in history, so I'm very excited to start playing it.

Square, this is why I love you guys. Thanks. :D

Check out the upcoming PSN releases here: http://www.rpgfan.com/news/2011/2388.html

Also, just as an update on what I've been doing, I've mostly been screwing around with a couple of my old favorite games. I played Twilight Princess up to the Forest Temple with the intent of plowing through to the Goron Mines (easily my favorite Zelda dungeon), but with the Chrono Cross anouncement I put that on hold. So in my free time I've been doing some of the hunts on Gran Pulse in Final Fantasy XIII. It's still very impressive just how expansive that area is- it can sustain days of level grinding and monster hunting.

Hopefully I'll start Chrono Cross next weekend.


Saturday, November 5, 2011

New Skyward Sword Videos

Nintendo's been releasing a steady stream of Skyward Sword information as it's highly anticipated release draws nearer. Yesterday we got to see the Lanayru Desert area, which you can check out here.

What I really like about Skyward Sword is that Nintendo is trying to shake up the typical Zelda formula a bit. While I love games like Wind Waker and Twilight Princess, they don't really have any serious changes from the traditional Zelda formula- Wind Waker has sailing and Twilight Princess has you transforming into a wolf, but other than that, it's still the usual Overworld exploration-followed-by-dungeon gameplay that Ocarina of Time largely perfected (and has been in use since the very first Zelda game). That's not a bad thing, but the dungeons are largely where the fun of a Zelda game takes place.

With Skyward Sword, Nintendo is making the journey to each dungeon as puzzle-filled and engaging as the dungeons themselves. In all the videos we've seen, Link has been solving puzzles in really interesting ways throughout the entire game.

Also, I'm really excited for an orchestral Zelda score. :D

Friday, November 4, 2011

Devil May Cry HD Collection

I actually really like the recent trend of HD re-releases. It gives people like me the opportunity to replay games they may have missed, often with improved visuals and bonus features.

Anyway, the latest series to recieve the HD touch-up is the famed Devil May Cry series of action games. Devil May Cry 1, 2, and the special edition of 3 are all included. Check it out.

Awesome.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Twilight Princess: First (or third) Impressions

I can't really do a 'first impressions' post about one of my all-time favorite games that I've played through at least twice before, but since I decided to replay Twilight Princess to blow off some steam between now and the RPG release juggernauts of the coming year. The game's an incredibly fun action-adventure title- the world is beautiful and fun to explore, the puzzles are clever and imaginative, and the story is great. 

Playing through it again a few years later (I got the Gamecube version when I was 12), I can't quite say the game is perfect. The game starts off rather slow, the mandatory wolf sections aren't as fun now as they used to be (I loved the unsettling atmosphere of the Twilight Realm when I was younger, but the "tears of light" hunts haven't gotten any better with age), and the story cribs a lot from it's predecessors, especially near the end. I wrote a review after my last playthrough of the game, which I'll probably post sometime soon.

Despite my minor criticisms, Twilight Princess is still one of my favorite games, and one of the best games in an excellent series. It's definetly one of the best Gamecube games, and if you own a Wii it's also a must-play.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

GTA 5 Trailer

Well, it's official- Grand Theft Auto V is coming. Rockstar showed the debut trailer today, which you can see here.

I was kind of cold on GTA4, the last game in the series. Sure, it was pretty, but it was kind of dull when compared to the insanity and ridiculousness of past installments such as Vice City and San Andreas. This one, from what I can tell, still has the more serious narrative of it's predecessor, but we'll see if it manages to improve upon it's already solid gameplay.

Wait... San Andreas is in GTA5? Ok, sold, lets do this.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Suck It Down, EA.

So, after a endless parade of insults and taunts leveled against Activision and the Call of Duty series, Ea has has a sudden change of tune, after it became clear that Modern Warfare 3 has Battlefield 3 beat before MW3 is even out the door.

Here's a link. http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/113956-EA-Makes-Nice-With-Activision-and-Modern-Warfare-3

Now, I couldn't care less about Call of Duty. I honestly despise the series, and am generally not a fan of FPS games in general (with a few notable exceptions). Still, I'm quite pleased to see the wind taken out of EA's sails a bit. If any company needs to have their ego deflated, it's them.

Texas Gun Nut

Don't worry, I'm not turning this into a political blog- my purpose here is to talk about video games. But reading this was honestly rather shocking, so I want to share it.

Apparently, some Texan gun instructor refuses to teach certain individuals. Specifically, 'socialist liberals', anyone who voted for Obama, and 'un-christian Muslims'. You can find the article here,  but be warned, it's pretty foul.

The worst part? He claims that anyone who is a devout Muslim isn't a 'true American'. The most sickening part? People are taking this guy's side. 

To be clear, I'm not a Muslim, nor am I a member of any political party. I'm just sharing something I thought reflected poorly on certain individuals in our country, and this'll probably be the only time I ever talk about politics on this blog.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Final Fantasy Type-0- Out in Japan

This post is a couple days out-of date, but Final Fantasy Type-0, the latest entry in the excellent franchise, is out in Japan. It's for the PSP as part of the Fabula Nova Crystallis project that includes Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy Versus XIII.



The game hasn't been announced for a U.S. release yet, due to the poor market for PSP titles in the U.S. (as Square Enix president Yoichi Wada puts it). Recent polls I've seen place Type 0 as one of the most anticipated RPGs over here in the states, right beneath Skyrim. The game looks fantastic- an epic tale of war, with more bloodshed and tragedy in any FF game we've seen up to this point. I know I'm not alone in hoping to play this game soon. Come on, Square: make it happen!

My Review: Final Fantasy V (GBA)

My Review: Final Fantasy V (GBA)

When it comes to the three SNES Final Fantasy games, Final Fantasy V is probably the most overlooked. Final Fantasy IV began the series’ penchant for epic, character-driven narratives, and Final Fantasy VI is widely regarded as the best in the series- it would be hard for any game to live up to that kind of pedigree. In addition, Final Fantasy V was the last of the ‘lost three’ (as I call them), the three Final Fantasies that didn’t see release in North America when they were initially released. The fact that it got so little attention is a shame, because while Final Fantasy V may not be the most epic or groundbreaking title in the series, it’s still an immensely fun title that stand as one of the most interesting RPGs of the 16 bit era.

STORY

The story of Final Fantasy V is similar to those of the first and third games, with a series of crystals and a group of four destined heroes serving as the focus of the story. It’s a simple premise that RPGs (and Final Fantasy games) have revisited time and time again, but V does a good job of making this clichéd premise work as an engaging narrative. When the world’s crystals begin to shatter and their natural elemental forces cease to function, a young traveler named Bartz stumbles across the missing princess of Tycoon, Lenna. Meeting up with a bumbling old man named Galuf and the sultry pirate captain Farris, the four adventurers are chosen by the Crystals to wield their power and save the world from an evil warlock who seeks to return the world to a state of nothingness.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Dark Cloud: First Impressions

Like I said earlier, I haven't decided if I'm going to play Dark Cloud for review, but I've been revisiting this old favorite for a few days, so I might as well say what I think of it so far.

The game is fun. Really, really fun. It's kind of simple- the story is pretty bland, the music is cheery and the atmosphere is generally lighthearted and upbeat. What the game is, essentially, is a combination of Zelda, Sim City, and Mystery Dungeon. You play as Toan, a young boy whose villiage is destroyed by an evil genie. Toan is told that he can rebuild the world by finding the scattered pieces of it sealed inside stones called 'Atlamilia'. By traversing randomly generated dungeons, you open the Atla and claim something from the old world, which you can then use to rebuild the town you're in.

I'm only on the second dungeon, but so far the game is pretty fun. Because the layout of each floor is always different, each dungeon entry becomes an enjoyable puzzle- you have to find the Atla, any treasure on the floor, and the key to the next floor, all while battling whatever monsters ended up spawning on the floor. Combing the dungeons makes for an enjoyable enough timesink as it is, but the 'Georama' townbuilding feature seems to be where the majority of the game is. You use the parts you find in the dungeons to rebuild the town you're in however you like. You're rewarded, however, for following the requests of the NPCs.

I don't know if this will be the next game I play all the way through, but so far Dark Cloud is a really fun roguelike/zelda clone. Hopefully it doesn't wear out it's welcome later in the game.

Friday, October 28, 2011

October 28, 2011: What Next?

So I finally beat Final Fantasy VIII, and my review is up. Overall, it was a very enjoyable RPG. The final boss was absolutely pathetic (I didn't even have to use Squall- Irvine's limit break took her out), but the ending was nice.

For now, I'll probably work on finishing up Final Fantasy V is my spare time, but I'm trying to decide what my next console playthrough will be. I already decided that I don't want to start the next game on my backlog, what with the school semester growing more hectic and the upcoming holiday season, so I've been deciding on an older title to replay. I was fiddling around with Dark Cloud today, which was a game I've never actually beaten. It's Level 5's debut title, and it's a fun little game with randomly generated dungeons and a town building minigame, sort of like Zelda mixed with Harvest Moon. I found a new copy for $3 at a CD Exchange, so I might try to actually beat and review the game. If I don't do that, I'll probably replay The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, since lack of a Wii means I'll have to wait a while to play Skyward Sword (not that I'm bitter or anything).

As far as upcoming titles go, I probably won't get War in the North or Skyrim as soon as they come out (hopefully I'll have the chance to try them soon enough, though). I plan on preordering Final Fantasy XIII-2 at some point, though.

Right now, Dark Cloud is in the 'Now Playing' header, that might change in the coming week.

My Review: Final Fantasy VIII (PS1)

Finally, I have a brand new review up! Well, here it is. A review of an imperfect but still enjoyable RPG from the 32-bit era.




My Review: Final Fantasy VIII (PS1)


You’ve really got to respect Square for being so experimental with their key franchise. Even when following up an enormous hit, they always end up reinventing the wheel with each of their games, when so many other companies would simply release more of the same. When the game you’re trying to succeed is the world-famous Final Fantasy VII, though, you’re going to have a hard time no matter what you do. Square stuck to their guns with Final Fantasy VIII, implementing numerous stylistic and gameplay changes. The important question, however, is not if Final Fantasy VIII can live up to its predecessor- rather, is it a great game on its own?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Escapist: Horrible Journalism

I had to post this because it pissed me off to no end.

You know why modern game journalism can't be taken seriously? BECAUSE OF CRAP LIKE THIS. Regardless of what the journalist's opinion of the game (s) he's talking about, until he reviews it he should simply report the news. To literally title the article "Type 0 is here to ruin your day" is not only biased, it's bad form through and through.

Now, I've stated my opinions on the Final Fantasy series before. The series hasn't gone ANYWHERE. The games are still great and fun RPGs. And Type-0 looks like the best one we've had in years. I can understand if the guy doesn't have the same opinion as me, but his job should be to keep these thoughts to himself unless he is actually reviewing the game. All he should be doing here is relaying some news.

So what's this guys beef? Apparently, the anime-styled characters don't go well with the gritiness of the trailer. Good grief. The journalism here is bad enough, but the guy is reporting his personal biases in a racist way as well. Great.

Game journalism is in a sad enough state as it is, and reporting news like this is one of the reasons why.

Final Fantasy VIII- Almost There!

So, after stocking up on spells from the Heaven/Hell Islands, I managed to get Bahamut. Thanks to Squall's new 100 Ultimas and a timely Limit Break, I defeated him in three moves. So, I'm going to start progressing through the story again. I've got a three day weekend, so I might as well make the most of it. We just got the Ragnarok, and are heading to Edea's house to pick up the next quest hook.

That means that I'll hopefully have a new review up soon. It's about time I wrote a new one.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm

I love Starcraft. RTS games may not be my favorite genre, but I do enjoy them, and Starcraft is one of the best RTS games available. I'm not very good at it, and the original hasn't aged perfectly, but it's still fun. The sequel is excellent as well, and with Blizzards decision to make Starcraft 2 a three-part game in and of itself, we have a lot of Starcraft to look forward too.

Anyway, the new trailer is out. Check it out below.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/trailers/4858-Starcraft-2-Heart-of-the-Swarm-Teaser-Trailer

You wanna piece of me, boy?

Uncharted 3- Drake's Hysteria

While I'm not a huge fan of the Uncharted series, I do appreciate the games. With phenomenal graphics that really showcase the power of the PS3, great voice acting and characters, and exciting gameplay, the games are well-done action-adventure titles. Needless to say, they deserve a large fanbase.

That said, recent reception to Uncharted 3- Drake's Deception's reviews has been rather frightening In this article by the great-and-slightly-mad Jim Sterling, we see Uncharted fans simply OUTRAGED that a game in the series can get a score lower than a 10.

This isn't the first time this has happened with Mr. Sterling (Gears of War 3 and Arkham City are the other 'offenders', even though an 8/10 is a perfectly good score). Gamers these days seem to think that certain games are 'entitled' reviews, which puts pressure on a reviewer to gloss over a game's flaws in favor of giving it a large score. Even worse, if a game falls below this 'entitled' score, gamers throw a hissy fit. I remember when Final Fantasy XIII came out, and people were saying that because the game earned a score of 8.9, it was a horrible game because it was below a 9. Ridiculous. If a game is flawed, it should be reviewed as such, but to expect a title to 'earn' a score because it 'deserves' it is simply ludicrous.

I would understand the anger if the game was given an undeservingly low score, but an 8 seems pretty fair to me. And honestly, all these hysterics, over Uncharted? It's just a modern-day Indiana Jones ripoff. Sure, the game is pretty and very cinematic, but narrative-wise it's the video game equivalent of National Treasure.

Hoenstly, people. Grow up.