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The Villains of Final Fantasy Week 10-2 [Game Overview]
Mar 13th, 2009 by Dan

Insert another credit, because it’s time for your weekly video game news and you’ve just hit the Game Overview screen.

With every Final Fantasy game there exists great (and not so great) teams of heroes bent on saving the world from some sort of evil force. While we could take a look at those heroes, let’s instead take a look at the evils that motivate these heroes to do what they do.

It should be noted that this feature will be full of spoilers.

Week 1 – Garland
Week 2 – Emperor Mateus of Palamecia
Week 3 – The Cloud of Darkness
Week 4 – Zeromus
Week 5 – Exdeath
Week 6 – Kefka
Week 7 – Sephiroth
Week 8 – Ultimecia
Week 9 – Necron
Week 10 – Yu Yevon/Jecht/Sin

Last game was the first to bring voice acting to the series, but it also had another important distinction: the first direct sequel. Love it or hate it, the J-Pop fueled, girl power infused Final Fantasy X-2 will always be an important milestone in Final Fantasy history. In fact, one could claim that its success directly led to the Japanese sequel to Final Fantasy IV, creatively titled Final Fantasy IV the After: Tsuki no Kikan and other story continuing side games for Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy XII.

Unfortunately for gamers, FF X-2 was a strange take on Final Fantasy X, with a mission structure and an all-girl cast that just oozed fan service, especially when changing “dress spheres.” It also featured many directly recycled assets from Final Fantasy X, making the game seem like a tired retread of ground already coverred. However, the lame sounding, but fun dress sphere system along with a new Active Time Battle system made for a game that was fun to play, at the very least.

The events of X-2 are set in motion by a sphere containing video that just might be of Tidus. Yuna can’t let this go, so the game’s main questline begins. It turns out that this video is not Tidus, but a dude from the past by the name of Shuyin who Tidus was based on in that whole confusing Zanarkand dream world created by the Fayth. Shuyin had a bit of a problem, he was dating a girl who was a summoner, which wouldn’t be all that bad if his country wasn’t at war and she wasn’t called to the front lines. It gets even worse when she gets captured as a POW and he’s gotta figure out something to do to save her.

Shuyin’s brilliant idea, the Vegnagun, the even more brilliant weapon of the opposing forces designed, for some ingenious reason, to attack indiscriminately, killing friend and foe alike. Turns out this weapon has an even more intelligent weapon attached to it as well, one capable of destorying the entire world. His girlfriend, Lenne, convinces him not to destroy the world and they both get shot.

We get to the present and Shuyin’s possessed some modern dude and he’s trying to destroy Spira with the Vegnagun cause he’s sad. That’s pretty much it.

Evil Rating:

Emo != Evil. Never managed to kill anyone, but rather to get himself and his girlfriend killed.

1/10

Cool Rating:

He looks just like Tidus (-5). He plays Blitzball (-2). He got his girlfriend killed (-3). I can’t go negative (-0)

0/10

Images and Video:

shuyin_artwork

shuyin_and_lenne

Game Overview: The Villains of Final Fantasy Week 3
Oct 10th, 2008 by Dan

Insert another credit, because it’s time for your weekly video game news and you’ve just hit the Game Overview screen.

With every Final Fantasy game there exists great (and not so great) teams of heroes bent on saving the world from some sort of evil force. While we could take a look at those heroes, let’s instead take a look at the evils that motivate these heroes to do what they do.

It should be noted that this feature will be full of spoilers.

Week 1 – Garland
Week 2 – Emperor Mateus of Palamecia

Final Fantasy III spearheaded the amazingly innovative, and often imitated, job system that sneaked its way into every other Final Fantasy game starting with III, was enhanced in V, and up until Final Fantasy VII (I claim that materia is a modified job-system). It was also utilized in Final Fantasy X-2 via dress spheres. Unfortunately for us, it had yet to refine its villain characterization, resulting in a final boss who you basically don’t see or even know about for the vast majority of the game.

The actual final boss of Final Fantasy III is about as nebulous as they come (sorry in advance for this terrible pun). The Cloud of Darkness is a chaotic force that seeks to end the world after it was thrown out of balance by the light and dark warriors and crystals. She (it has female appearance) actually kills the light warriors at one point (the player characters) and it takes the sacrifice of the dark warriors to allow the light ones to even have a chance to kill her.

It’s a tough battle, being an old school FF game and all, but good job composition will allow the team to take her down and save the world.

Evil Rating:

She’s a force of nature hell-bent on ending existence. That being said, what Final Fantasy villain isn’t? You don’t see her until the end of the game and most of the evil situations going on in the world are not even close to her or her minion Xande’s responsibility.

1/10 (remember, wanting to end the universe is not that evil in FF games)

Cool Rating:

She’s an amorphous, naked, green cloud of evil. Lame. She does kill the Light Warriors though, so kudos for that.

3/10

Image:

DS Remake Model

Video:

Sony/M$ E3: Carrying the Torch
Jul 17th, 2008 by Dan

Yoshinori Kitase has huge shoes to fill. As the producer of Final Fantasy XIII he’s looking at doing a job last held by Horonobu Sakaguchi in Final Fantasy X. Ok, Sakachuchi was technically the executive producer of that game, but with no other producers announced for XIII, I’m gonna come out and call him the EP.

Kitase had this to say (in this IGN article) about the new game and directions they’re taking:

Kitase spoke about carrying the Final Fantasy torch and commented on how this game will be unique, yet familiar. “In the grand scheme of things, Final Fantasy XIII is probably very different and new from anything you’ve seen in the series before. But, everybody on the team has played XII and the previous titles and there is an unseen connection there among the series.” He then went on to tell a story about a conversation with Hironobu Sakaguchi, creator of the Final Fantasy series. In it he asked Sakaguchi about what makes a Final Fantasy game a Final Fantasy game. Jokingly, Sakaguchi told him that as long as you have white text on a blue background, you should be fine. Final Fantasy XIII doesn’t have that, but Kitase says it’s still a continuation.

As funny as it is to mention the blue background thing, I think that a new direction is not a bad idea. FF games have, quite frankly, been getting a little stale for me of late. I worry a bit about XIII since its director is the same one from X-2 (Motomu Toriyama), but I’d like to see them stray.

One of the other cool things about the game was the mention of a different cast take with the character code-named Lightning. She supposedly is going to resist forming a party and try to be a loner. Hopefully she’s not a female version of one of those emo Squeenix protagonists, but it’s good to see that they won’t be partying from the get-go.

Game Overview Editorial: Difficulty in Video Games
May 8th, 2008 by Dan

You’re playing through an RPG. You’ve gained five levels, found some sweet equipment drops, minimized the use of your precious items, and then it happens. You come up against a behemoth of a monster. Your party is decimated, your progress lost, your controller tossed through the screen.

Does this even begin to sound familiar to anyone? It’s like modern gaming, in an effort to bring in an even broader audience, has started to dumb down our video game experience. Think back to the last four, at the very least, Final Fantasy games (not counting XI). Aside from side quest bosses who are geared to be a challenge, how often did you even find yourself remotely challenged in these games? I honestly don’t think I worried much about save points in any of these games (aside from when I was hunting the harder mobs in XII) at all. There was none of that between-save-point stress and worry that a game with any difficulty might throw at me. I just go on through the game, breezing through the fights and find myself at the final boss, sometimes taking more than one try to kill him, but, more often than not, just breezing through him too.

It’s not just RPGs either. Think back to Mario Galaxy. The only challenge in that game came from the green stars where the developers were given free range to punish players into some of the toughest, most fun challenges possible. Even The Legend of Zelda isn’t safe. The last two console installments, The Wind Waker and Twilight Princess, were among the easiest games I have ever played. Sure, their stories were epic and fun, but the bosses were jokes compared to past Zelda games. They dealt close to no heart damage, they had hyper-predictable patterns, and they were just plain not challenging. I don’t think that I’ve evolved much in skill as a gamer since about the sixth grade and I definitely remember more challenge in both Link’s Awakening and A Link to the Past when I played them (late to the game, I know).

There is hope. Mistwalker’s latest RPG for the Xbox 360, Lost Odyssey, will actually make you hope that a save point is imminent. The enemies will brutalize you if you mess up. It seems odd that I’m actually hoping for a game to punish me for screwing up or not leveling up, but I just can’t take a game that doesn’t even challenge me in the slightest. I consume games mainly for story, this is true, but I don’t want the story-telling to come so easily that I might as well be watching a movie or reading a book. It can get frustrating when a game is difficult because it’s broken or the computer cheats :cough: Mario Kart Wii :cough:, but it’s also tremendously satisfying to spend an hour bashing your head against the wall trying to defeat a boss only to finally get it down and win with just a sliver of health left.

This is why I look forward to the day when I will be able to devote more time to Persona 3: FES. The short time I spent with the game already almost beat me in a random encounter and I’m sure that an actual boss will own me several times. I fully believe that a game should punish you for making a mistake and I already know from experience that Persona will wail on me for being an idiot.

There’s certainly a market for casual games and casual gamers out there, one only needs to look to the Wii to see that fact with obvious clarity, but surely it wouldn’t be too difficult for developers to go out and actually make a game tough for players. The inclusion of difficulty levels, even with the fact that it means more work, will satisfy me. Here’s hoping that we see harder games in the future.

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