Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII

Crisis Core - Final Fantasy VII - PSP

I am an unabashed fan of Final Fantasy. I haven’t played all of them – but I’ve played and beaten quite a few of them over the years – starting with Final Fantasy on the old NES. I was one of the many who had a first day of release copy of Final Fantasy VII and like many thought it was the best game I had ever played at the time. Years later, it’s story and game mechanics are among my most fond gaming memories. So when I heard that a prequel was coming out, I was really excited. That excitement was a bit tempered however when I saw my traditional RPG turn-based systems turned into a more live action game during trailers. I’m happy to say those particular fears proved to be unfounded.

Graphics: 9

Crisis Core - Final Fantasy VII - PSP

The in-game engine is good, you don’t suffer any breakup and the full motion video scenes that the Final Fantasy series have become well-known for hold up beautifully on the small screen. Don’t let the fact that this is a PSP game fool you – it holds up very nicely in both artistic direction and execution.

Sound and Music: 8.5

Crisis Core - Final Fantasy VII - PSP

The voice acting was good, though many of the sounds were a bit repetitive after awhile. Final Fantasy games are known for their quality music and this one while not among the best from the series, is still pretty good. I found the combat theme to be surprisingly catchy.

Gameplay: 7

Crisis Core - Final Fantasy VII - PSP

Sometimes deaths feel cheap. The actual action-oriented combat works well; certainly better than I expected. My biggest complaint from this department though was the camera. Sometimes I just could not get it into a good position, especially in narrow spaces. Also, the combat was a bit predictable in terms of how it was triggered. In earlier games, most combat occurred at random while walking. In later Final Fantasy games you are on an active field with enemies you can engage or try to avoid. Here? It’s things like intersecting hallways that trigger the usually-random group of monsters you fight. You find yourself hugging the walls awkwardly, battling the camera angles if you’re in an area where you don’t want to fight. It’s not all bad though. The action comes in perfectly sized smaller chunks that fit with the handheld platform. I had played this game for nearly a year on and off. I’d just pick it up some days when I had fifteen minutes to kill and do a few missions. The PSP is not one of my primary systems, so its games tend to get neglected, but this one’s content felt just right for on-the-go gaming.

Intangibles: 9.5

Crisis Core - Final Fantasy VII - PSP

There is a ton to do. The main storyline itself is not terribly long, but there are a bunch of side options to chew up your time. There’s missions that unlock over time or when certain criteria are met. There’s a fusion system in place that lets you upgrade items and materia (think of them as magic, skills and stat boosts). You get emails throughout the game from characters as well. There’s a handful of mini-games tucked in there as well throughout the storyline. To top it all off? There’s a New Game+ mode as well – always a favorite discovery of mine.

Overall: 8.5

To date this was probably my favorite PSP game. The characters and world were sentimental favorites of mine. The overall production values were high. All of this was expected. The unexpected? That the action-based combat would work so well. That using one character throughout the game instead of a party would feel so involving. That you don’t collect experience and level up in traditional fashion, but that levels, boosts and special attacks are all managed through a perpetually running slot-machine like system that augments the action itself. Last but not least? The ending is fantastic. After I beat the game, I was just really taken with the ending and did some searching on the topic online. I was not alone in my sentiments there. A lot of people out there list it as their favorite ending ever. Mine? Maybe not, but probably top 10 to date, and getting there was a blast.

Ehrgeiz

ehrgeiz

One of the more obscure games with Final Fantasy characters came out on the Playstation. With Squaresoft growing power with such great titles as Final Fantasy VII and Saga Frontier it was time to take it to the ring with their own style. Enter Ehrgeiz! With such a unique way that rivals those of Tobal who of course was also made by Squaresoft. The game itself is a joy to play especially as there are different ways to play it.

ehrgeiz

 

You have the basic story mode which you’ll pick a character (including Cloud, Tifa, and Sephiroth) To battle against others to the end. I played through it and it’s quite an enjoyable experience especially if you find the bugs to make the fights even easier. The does show the Squaresoft brand with the quest mode as you can pick from two characters that will go to the dungeon, level up, and explore. This is where this game hits the high point. If you want an incredible explorer experience with RPG elements, then this is all you need to look for.

ehrgeiz

The game’s music is lacking as there isn’t any. the game is as quiet a game will get. I’m not sure if this is the same deal with the Japanese release but we’ll just leave it at that. The sound effects though are enduring and sound like how they are supposed to. Even the Final Fantasy characters have voices believe it or not which are brief but understandable.

ehrgeiz

The graphics are very good and sharp. The game does deliver some of the best graphics for its day. Squaresoft did a good job making the characters look how they are supposed to. Just think about this, remember how the Final Fantasy VII characters looked in the game? Well, look at them in this game and tell me they don’t look better. Tifa’s boobs are yummier than ever!

ehrgeiz

The gameplay as I mentioned before is quite enjoyable. You can play through the story mode in less than half an hour but the quest mode will take a lot longer. You have to use your best skills in order to get through the quest. But, the controller will take you to wherever you need to go, that’s for sure!

ehrgeiz

As for replay value, you have a lot to replay here. If you want to beat the story mode with all the different characters, you can do that although you’ll battle through all of them in the same order which makes it repetitive. This brings me to the fact that you are better off playing the quest mode as there are different places to explore and it will keep you interested over and over. But once it’s over, you are welcomed to try again.

Overall it’s a great game that you shouldn’t miss and even though it could be a little pricey on the bay, I wouldn’t mind spending the extra bucks for it. I hope you enjoyed this week’s retro game of the week. Until next week!

Chrono Trigger comes to Android

Chrono Trigger - Android

Chrono Trigger comes to Android

The classic RPG Chrono Trigger is available now for the Android on the Google Play store for $9.99. Originally created by Yuji Horii and Akira Toriyama creators of Dragon Quest and Dragon Ball, this version will contain two additional areas found in the Nintendo DS version of the game.

Chrono Trigger - Android - Gameplay screenshot

Developed and published by Sqaure the story features a chance encounter amid the festivities of Guardia’s Millennial Fair in Leene Square and introduces our young hero, Crono, to a girl by the name of Marle.

Deciding to explore the fair together, the two soon find themselves at an exhibition of the Telepod, the latest invention by Crono’s longtime friend Lucca.

Chrono Trigger - Android - Gameplay screenshot

Marle, fearless and brimming with curiosity, volunteers to assist in a demonstration. An unanticipated malfunction, however, sends her hurtling through a rift in the dimensions.

Taking hold of the girl’s pendant, Crono bravely follows in pursuit. But the world into which he emerges is the one of four centuries before…

Journey to the forgotten past, the distant future, and even to the very End of Time. The epic quest to save a planet’s future makes history once again.

Chrono Trigger - Android - Gameplay screenshot

Game features include:

The Dimensional Vortex: A mysterious, ever-changing dungeon existing outside of space and time.

The Lost Sanctum: Enigmatic gates in prehistoric and medieval times will lead you to these forgotten chambers.

Intuitive touch screen controls make it easier than ever to navigate this vast world of adventure.

Chrono Trigger - Android - Gameplay screenshot

Graphics optimized especially for Android.

Combine the powers of your party members to unleash two- and three-person combos.

Over fifty combinations in all offer players numerous options and in-depth combat!

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMy3M_vgDt4[/youtube]

Gamer Profile: Pamela Horton

[youtube id=”J7hzHlIsjwY” width=”633″ height=”356″]

 My favorite classic game would have to be Chrono Trigger for the SNES. I’ve always been a Nintendo girl even though I own all systems. ~Pamela Horton

Pamela Horton

Favorite Classic Game: Chrono Trigger

The great thing about the culture of gaming is the variety of people you meet from all over the world with their own stories and history. Then you find out they love some of the same games you do and there is an instant connection. In our Gamer Profile Series we explore the love of classic gaming that people have from a Major computer company founder to a Major League Baseball Player, to a baseball player to a Playboy Playmate of the month.

Pamela Horton is 25, hails from Wichita Kansas and is Playboy’s October 2012 Playmate of the Month. She is also featured on the cover of the magazine’s October 2012. Now what could possibly be hotter than a Playboy Playmate, one who is a true gamer as well.

Ms. October is multitalented, from a League of Legends player to an avid comic book fan and artist:

“I’ve delved into everything—acrylics, pastels, sculpting and even glassblowing,” said Miss October in a previous interview.  “I’ve also always loved video games and comic books, so when I paint in oil, I start with something realistic, but it inevitably scoots off into cartoon territory.  I’m definitely prone to the fantastic!”

Now she is on the cover of Playboy and we had a chance to chat with her about her love of gaming, her artistic side and being a Playmate of the Month.

Pamela Horton - Playboy Magazine

Tell us about your gaming past, what games you started out playing?

I’ve been playing since I was about 5 years old. The first game I ever played was Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past on the SNES. 🙂

What would you say your favorite classic game is?

My favorite classic game would have to be a tossup between Chrono Trigger and Earthbound for the SNES. I’ve always been a Nintendo girl even though I own all systems.

When did you first get into MMO’s?

A boyfriend in high school made me make a character on his FFXI account. I made a little Tarutaru Red Mage. I was hooked from there!

Tell us about how you got into League of Legends and about the characters you play and your playstyle?

I heard about it from my group of friends who had read articles on it back in 2009. The very first character I ever played was Janna. I was really good with her (or so I thought.) The second character I played was Teemo. It was love at first mushroom kill. He’s so cute! With Teemo I play AP hybrid, starting with boots and pots, building into a malady and a wits end.

I always built Magic Resist because I was usually mid with Teemo. I was hard on banks top too. 🙂 I also play an AP support Soraka so my heals and skills do more than your typical support. It tricks the enemy team to blowin their ults and CDs thinking they are going to get a kill. Then they see their target full health and start focusing me. 😀

Pamela Horton - Playboy Magazine

What other games do you play?

I play World of Warcraft, (still) play Final Fantasy XI, I just got Pokemon Black 2, Theathrythm, Final Fantasy, Mark of the Ninja… I play a lot of stuff at one time haha

Now being a gamer girl is hard enough, but in your case do you find it even harder to be a gamer girl? What is the reaction if/when people find out?

It’s usually 50/50. When they are negative, they are super negative. When its positive, I make new friends who appreciate my talents as a gamer!

What coming books are you into?

My friend just had me start reading Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. I love it so far. But whenever a new Dean Koontz book comes out I get it immediately!

Tell us about your art and the items you offer on your site?

I do art commissions and work on a lot of “cartoon” art. My personal comic style has a likeness to Jhonen Vasquez (the creator of Invader Zim). I can do realistic work but I always end up doing something cartoony!

You also consider yourself a gym rat, can you tell us about your workout routine?

I’m not a gym rat. That was another one of those tailored statements. I go to the gym maybe the week before a photoshoot. Other than that I don’t really go. Hahaha

What led you to Playboy?

Playboy actually came to me! One of their submitting photographers wanted to send me in for Cyber Girl but his editor wanted me to test for Playmate and here I am!

What is it like to be on the cover of Playboy and be the playmate of the month?

It is the biggest honor I have ever had. Each playmate is hand-picked by Hugh Hefner, and to have that sincere pleasure I will be forever grateful.

Thanks to Playboy for the images and video.

Be sure to check out our other celebrity gamer profiles.
If you’d like to send us your own gamer profile e-mail us.

Game of Thrones: 16-bit style

Game of Thrones RPG

Game of Thrones: 16-bit style

Our video of the day comes from the fantastically funny folks over at College Humor. This time they take the season one storyline from Game of Thrones and put it into a Final Fantasy style game. For those who played the SNES versions of FF you will notice the style right away. The video is especially funny if you watched all of season one of Game of Thrones, but is funny nonetheless.

 

Ten Questions: Matt Barton

Matt Barton is one of the smartest and most interesting people you can find online discussing, loving and showing off old & new games. Now, although you should preferably get to know him via his work on Matt Chat, the Amrchair Arcade and some rather impressive books, reading the following interview should be both enlightening and considered as an appetizer.
dungeons and desktops dragon-1
1. Matt, care to introduce yourself to the merry retro loving lot that are the Gnomeslair.com & Obsolete Gamer readers?

I’m Matt Barton, host of Matt Chat, a weekly YouTube show dedicated to classic games. I’m also co-founder of Armchair Arcade and author of Dungeons & Desktops and Vintage Games (co-authored with my friend and colleague Bill Loguidice). I’m also an assistant (soon to be associate) professor of English at St. Cloud State University, where I teach classes in writing, rhetoric, and new media.

2. And what would you say some of your favourite games are? Any particular love for a genre or a gaming machine?

My favorite genres are adventure games, role-playing games, and strategy games. Some of my favorites include Baldur’s Gate, Pool of Radiance, World of Warcraft, Civilization, and the Nancy Drew series of adventure games. I have many consoles, but my favorite gaming device is the PC. Going further back, I will always be an Amiga and Commodore fan at heart.

3. So, Armchair Arcade, how would you describe the site and what’s the story behind it?

We were friends on a forum dedicated to Shane R. Monroe’s Retrogaming Radio show. We talked about putting together an online magazine, and eventually set it up. For awhile we focused on “issues” and tried to make it look like a retromag. We were amazed by how much attention it got, frequently mentioned on Slashdot and many other sites (even Slate and the Discovery Channel). Eventually, though, we morphed into a blog format and started selling our features to other sites (especially Gamasutra). Now we use AA as our home base for communicating to fans and fellow retrogamers, talking about our latest projects, and so on.

4. Same question on the incredibly well produced Matt Chat episodes… How did you decide to start a video show on retro games, and what would you say is this little something that makes Matt Chat unique (for, believe me, it is unique)? By the way, love that gaming wall you got in the background.

Matt Chat has come a long, long way in a short time. When I first started, it was just me and a webcam trying to hawk my books. The production quality was terrible! But I wanted to learn more about videos because Bill and I are producing a feature documentary for Lux Digital Pictures (Gameplay: The Story of the Videogame Revolution). I figured I needed more experience with videos to really handle a project like that, so I kept learning and experimenting, trying to refine my techniques. If you notice, I usually try to put in one more technique or one more refinement per episode, so I’m always learning something new.

I don’t think Matt Chat is unique. There are many, many other YouTubers out there doing similar shows. For instance, ianwilson1978 does great work on the Sega Genesis and Marlin Lee covers a variety of games. I guess one thing that makes my show special is that I feature games from all platforms, especially covering PC and computer titles that the others miss. Most other shows are dedicated to consoles, especially Nintendo classics. I figure those games already get enough love, so I try to cover ground that is not covered by the other shows–such as Dungeons of Daggorath for the Tandy CoCo, Tunnels of Doom for the TI-99/4A, or even the PLATO platform. I also feature interviews with classic developers, such as John Romero and Al Lowe. I’ll soon release my interview with Chris Avellone.

5. Really, is it tough producing something of this quality on a weekly basis?

It can be. Sometimes my editing program (Sony Vegas Platinum) crashes so much during rendering that I’m tempted to just give up. I would really love a better setup! The other big problem is capturing footage from games, especially old Windows games. Even with fraps, virtualdub, and the rest, it can be a nightmare sometimes capturing decent footage.

Other than these purely technical problems, though, it’s not hard at all. I can easily come up with things to say, and I like researching the games anyway. I also enjoy inserting inside jokes and humor, and interacting with the fans is a real joy.

6. How about your books? They are two on games and one on Wikis, correct? Do you feel gamers actually bother reading?

I think most gamers are highly intelligent; at least the ones I talk to. I know plenty of professors and graduate students who are serious gamers. But, of course, there are many who never pick up a book. That is sad, of course, since I couldn’t imagine living life without good books to read. It’s really important to read good books, not just newspapers and such. You can always tell when you’re talking to an avid reader, because he or she will be more knowledgeable on a broader range of topics–plus, I think it makes you more articulate and, frankly, intelligent. I had a friend who read War and Peace just for fun, but he told me later he felt more intelligent after reading it. Some people laugh at comics and graphic novels, but they are actually much more sophisticated now than they used to be. You could certainly learn a thing or two from Moore‘s work.

There’s really no excuse for being ignorant. So read!

7. Now, let’s focus a bit on the rather epic Dungeons and Desktops. Why CRPGs? Could you briefly describe the book? Has it sold to your expectations? Did you enjoy writing it?

It’s pretty much what it says; the history of computer role-playing games. I tried to talk about every important or even remotely influential game in the book, describing what makes them fun and how they fit into the grand history of the genre. I tried to show connections across eras and styles, so you could get a sense of the diversity. Someone may have heard of Baldur’s Gate, for instance, but be unaware of Planescape: Torment, Pool of Radiance, or Eye of the Beholder. I meet people who may know all about Zelda and Final Fantasy, but have never heard of Ultima or Lord British. That bothered me, so I thought it was time to write a book on the topic.

The book has sold well. Of course, something like this won’t be a bestseller. But I wrote this book for people like us, not the mainstream. By “us,” of course, I’m talking about people who love games like Wizardry and Fallout and enjoy nothing more than talking and thinking about them.

8. Should we expect more books from you? Maybe even a new project or collaboration?

Almost certainly, though it’s very hard to find publishers interested in game books. I have been dying to write a book on adventure games similar to D&D, but no takers so far. Bill and I have been talking about a book on the Atari 2600, and I’ve got one on virtual worlds that needs development. We will probably also write a book based on our documentary.

9. And now for something that interests me quite a bit on a personal level. How did you really manage to -effortlessly, it seems- combine an academic career with all this quality work on computer and video games?

In a sense gaming is my job. A professor is expected to research as well as teach, and game studies is an important part of new media. I’m presenting on aspects of gaming at two national conferences later this year (Computers and Writing, Rhetoric Society of America). People tend to think of “English” strictly as literature and grammar, but it’s far more than that! There are many of us studying games as well as other technologies like wikis and social networking. All of these things involve communication and rhetoric.

10. Finally, have you thought about actually creating a game yourself?

I have, though I’m not satisfied with the results! But a few years ago I taught myself C++ out of some books and made a simple adventure game, which I entered into the Interactive Fiction contest. I was shocked that it was 28th in the 12th annual interactive fiction competition. At any rate, it was fun learning C++, and I’d love to try something more ambitious one day.

Sword of Mana

Sword of Mana - Game Boy Advance

One of the more interesting games for the GBA is surely Sword of Mana. Supposedly this is the first Seiken Densetsu game in the Mana series but was for some reason renamed to Final Fantasy Adventure in its original release. I’m guessing it was more of a popular name to put into a title to raise sales. Either way, as much as I loved the original, this one is a great improvement over it. Of course, I can’t say I miss the classic gameboy colors but this is a totally different experience altogether. The game is a well done remake that proves yet again how Square kept milking their old games into “remakes” This time around though, they succeeded in a positive note. The game plays like any of the other Mana games(The good ones at least), and delivers a very satisfying gaming experience. You are able to pick from a male or female character which you will name whatever you want(Name advice, Petunia, Resputan).

Sword of Mana - Game Boy Advance

 

So here we go in a new grand adventure, you will probably feel at home with the beat em up style gameplay it brings as well as Mana cards you can use to summon your magical powers. Sadly, this game doesn’t bring a link cable gameplay option which would have made it an incredible experience(Some of you may remember Secret of Mana on the SNES, three players!). You can still connect two GBAs with the games but only for trading purposes, this isn’t Pokemon you know! The game does deliver you with companions who will aid you on your quest but won’t stay long with you, just like the original(Remember that mage that looked like a red mage?). The game also has a very interesting gameplay feature which involves finding items on certain days which is a big plus as it’ll make you play the game for a certain amount of time.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EnE3e13z1LA[/youtube]

Overall, like always don’t want to give out too much so you can enjoy and find yourself yet another great gaming experience.

Final Fantasy IV: The After Years

Final Fantasy IV The After Years - Video Game Screenshot
This time around we have a Wiiware title released in 2009. I know this is a retro gaming related post and it does hold true as the game plays like an oldie. Final Fantasy IV: The After Years takes you back to a world of great adventure! If you are a Final Fantasy veteran(Like me) You are going to enjoy this one as it’ll take you to events years later after the original Final Fantasy IV story ended. Wouldn’t you enjoy such a great blast from the past? I know I did!

Final Fantasy IV The After Years - Video Game Screenshot

 

The game starts you off in a quest to become a knight. You play as Ceodore, son of Cecil who is accompanied by Biggs and Wedge to help you on your quest. As usual you should know that when characters are named Biggs and Wedge, they usually hit the bucket real quickly(Final Fantasy 7 and Final Fantasy VI did this). The game plays like its 1991 counterpart and delivers remixed music from the same with great success. It’s such a blast from the past listening to the battle music of Final Fantasy IV once more. The world of Final Fantasy IV hasn’t change much and there will be more than one familiar face I’m sure you’ll recognize with ease. Remember, it has been years after so some of these characters are either older or just grown up.

Final Fantasy IV The After Years - Video Game Screenshot

Moving on, the battle system delivers the same Final Fantasy IV experience although there may be times that battles just keep coming up over and over without letting you explore more than two steps. It’s bearable though mainly because fighting is so much fun. The game does have a very unbalanced gold to experience ratio as once you move further in the game, you will get over 3k of experience while only gain around 500 gold. It’s not surprising though as the original was somewhat like this. It’s helpful in the end as leveling up is quite easy. I was able to level up over fifteen times in less than an hour!

Final Fantasy IV The After Years - Video Game Screenshot
The game will have a very interesting story that mainly involves Cecil and this mysterious girl who is after the crystals. Kain also makes a big entrance and is part of the main story. I wish I could tell you much more but I wouldn’t want to spoil everything, it’s just a great ordeal! You will for sure venture into similar territory and might get confused for a second thinking you are playing Final Fantasy IV once more but you are not! This is The After Years after all meaning it’s not a new world but an older one.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8po__GDy5o[/youtube]
I do suggest this game for hardcore Final Fantasy veterans and retro RPG fanatics. I don’t think it’s for everyone as it contains a lot of old school gameplay that might scare some gamers off(Not me!). The game does deliver a fascinating experience and has many extras with it as well. Sadly, that’s the bad part of it as you’ll need to spend 800 wii points (8 dollars) For the first part of the main story and another 800 wii points (8 dollars) For the second part of it. Then you have all the side stories from all the characters of the original which will cost you 300 wii points (3 dollars) Each! And there are around five or six of them which means you’ll be spending a vast amount of money for it. But there is light at the end of the tunnel as there is going to be a release of all of this for the good old PSP with the Ultimate Final Fantasy IV Collection.

Saga Frontier

Saga Frontier - PS1 Disc Front

This week we have a game that is said to take 140 hours to complete! At least that’s what it says so on the box and they are quite close to it. Not only do you have to have a memory card just for that game but there are seven quests to complete in order to see the ending! Each quest has their own ending. Be sure to keep an eye on each ending as each is just bizarre. From all of them, I think Blue’s ending is the most bizarre but I won’t spoil that for you. Just play the god damn game!

Saga Frontier - Title Screen

Square released a whole line up of RPGs including Final Fantasy 7, Final Fantasy Tactics, and others during the 1997-1998 era. It was an era where the RPGs flourished and were finally respected and known by everyone especially due to Final Fantasy 7, you couldn’t ask for anything better. This is where Saga Frontier came in with their traditional gameplay and big battle system. You can have up to 15 characters in your party although you can only use 5 at a time. Before every battle, you can pick which party you are going to bring out so it’s quite interesting build your party for each kind of scenario. As for myself, I would only use one party filled with humans as they are the best race of all in the game at least. The game also has a very different level up system which only levels up attributes you have used up. For example, if you have taken a hit then your HP will level up and if you have used magic then your MP will level up. It’s very weird but it works especially for humans.

Saga Frontier - Gameplay Screenshot 1

The world is huge and the music is very catchy. You will be leveling up a lot and barely getting through dungeons as the difficulty is very moderate and sometimes frustrating but I’m sure if I was able to get through them, you are too. My favorite feature of the game is the combos with other members of your party. You can have up to five combined combos which means all the members will combine their attacks into one for massive damage. This is by far the best feature of the game and it’s what keeps the battles interesting. There are also villages you can travel to where you can get some new power ups and magic which is crucial for being able to advance in the game. The number one rule of this game is pick up Gen at the bar in the Junk city! You must add this bastard! He may be a drunk but he comes in handy in any quest. You also gotta love his victory action! He rocks!

Saga Frontier - Gen_Headshot
To conclude, the game is quite entertaining but not for everyone. The stories aren’t that strong but they are strong enough to make you wanna see what comes up next. Be sure you pick this one up when you have a chance as there is a lot to love about this game. You can’t beat 140 hours of gameplay!

[youtube width=”600″ height=”480″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQTWMPLY4Ug[/youtube]

Final Fantasy II

Final Fantasy 2 - snes - Gameplay Screenshot
Final Fantasy II for the SNES is the reason why I started playing RPGs altogether. The storyline shocked me at times and gave me joy at others but I can say this is one of the best games for the 16-bit console. The game is your average turn based role playing game which were really huge back then and are still quite popular nowadays. Final Fantasy II is unique in a couple of things such as the ability to have up to five members in your party and the active battle system it withholds. When I say five characters is unique is because it really was unique since very few games would let you have five members in your party at any point. Most role playing games would let you have up to three or four. It was quite something to have five and I think it all helped demonstrate the power of the SNES in its early run.

Final Fantasy 2 - snes - Gameplay Screenshot

The active battle system is what it stands for. The monsters won’t wait for your turn to attack, they’ll just keep attacking whether you attacked or not so be sure to make your decision on an attack as soon as you can. It’s very vital for your survival to be able to attack quickly and successfully as fast as you can. So moving on, this game’s story line is also something to enjoy. There is betrayal, change, and love all put into one cartridge. What’s not to love? It’s one of the best RPGs for the SNES period! The game is packed with a lot of peculiar characters and the usual Final Fantasy touch although I have to admit the Final Fantasy touch died years ago especially if you have played the latest Final Fantasy. What a sad reality we are having nowadays, that’s one of the reasons I stick with retro gaming and there are more to talk in that matter but I’ll leave it for another time.

Final Fantasy 2 - snes - Gameplay Screenshot

 

The game starts you off on a mission with Cecil, the dark knight and Kain, the dragoon. These two friends will soon find out they were tricked by the king on destroying a peaceful town and then separated against their own will. Don’t worry though, they’ll eventually meet up again but I don’t want to give away any more spoilers, that would be just awful. Nevertheless, the game is packed with a long enchanting adventure and a wonderful music score. You know it’s a good score especially when you keep playing the tunes on your head hours after putting down the control pad. The difficulty of the game is moderate as there are parts of the game that you’ll need to level up in mega-old school style. It’s quite fun to this day as you learn new spells and increase your attack against monsters that used to beat you easily. The tables will eventually turn.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CH1oWbo7GZw[/youtube]

To conclude, this game is something to be a part of and it would be a sin not to play it. Give it a try, it’s quite good. If you aren’t into all the retro look then I suggest you pick up the remake for the Nintendo DS as it’s in full 3D but if you ask me, I prefer the original look. eBay is a good place to pick up the game although it’ll be quite pricey. You can also go for the cheaper alternative and get the GBA port of Final Fantasy 2 which they renamed it to the original number Final Fantasy 4. You have many different alternatives to this game so I suggest you pick them up and enjoy the awesomeness Square used to offer.

Dear Video Game Manuals, I’m Just Writing To Say I Miss You

Video game manuals. If you’re over the age of 19 you know what they are and what they used to be like. For those younglings who are reading this who have yet to have had their balls drop, video game manuals consisted of more than “THIS BUTTON SHOOTS AND THIS BUTTON JUMPS!” and the repetitive warnings of “Hey just to let you know, you could have a seizure playing this game.”Read More

Chrono Trigger

Chrono Trigger - PS1 Box

This game was one of the reasons I fell in love with RPGs. It had pretty much everything you could ask for in a game. Great story, great characters, and of course great gameplay is only a few of the amazing features this game brought. The story is the usual gotta save the world from evil but in the end it’s a fun story to play through. The game also has multiple endings so it’ll keep you coming back and fix what you did wrong to get the better ending. The gameplay is pure genius as you battle Final Fantasy style but instead of going to another screen like most RPGs. Your battle will happen wherever you find your enemies. It’s simple, fun, and exciting to battle these monsters.

 

ChronoTrigger - Gameplay Screenshot

Another feature of the battle system is the combined attack combos where you can apply combos with your allies for higher damage. You’ll of course need both allies to have their battle gauge filled and for them to have enough points to complete the attack. If one player doesn’t have enough MP, then you are out of luck.

 

Furthermore, the game features side quests that you can accomplish when you get tired of following the story among many other things. The best feature of the story that I like is the time travel factor. You can travel through time to help save the world, how fantastic! So that’s about it, be sure to pick this one out as I highly recommend it. Until next week!

Did you know? There was a text based game called Radical Dreamers that unveils a lot of info of both Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross games. Neat huh?

Obsolete Intros: Final Fantasy Tactics

Final Fantasy Tactics logo
Final Fantasy Tactics logo

A true fan favorite, FFT incorporates a battle system that is not found within the RPG. While the turn base battle system is still in place the world is a series of tiles where the player moves toward the enemy.  Your actions are based on your class and you can choose various roles from the Final Fantasy world including black and white mages, summoner’s and thieves.

Your story takes place in Ivalice after a long standing war with its two neighboring nations. Not only are you dealing with rebuilding, but economic and political issues as well. After the death of the king a regent is put into place splitting the kingdoms allegiance in two which leads to the Lion War. Your main character is Ramza Beoulve a highborn cadet who finds himself in the middle of the war.

Free to Play. If You’re Going to Fail, Get Better At Failing.

Everquest 2 F2P lol
Everquest 2 F2P lol

For the past six years, MMORPGs have been failing. Be it because the companies believe releasing beta quality games, far-fetched mechanics, or releasing a game that has the savory indulgence of a stale piece of bread, the genre has seen some gloomy days. World of Warcraft has created a boom for many money hungry companies and jaded developers that think releasing a game in this genre will garner them fame and money. Unfortunately, this hasn’t been the case and nothing has been able to compete at the level that Blizzard is currently at.

Let’s face it. Very few MMORPGs have had amazing launches and it is because of this lack luster grand opening that a lot of people just get turned away. How can these companies salvage their investment? How can they bring in money to a sinking ship? How can they increase their gaming audience?

The answer lies to the Far East. It is in this land of Zerg obsessed gamers and mob-grinding gurus that holds the key to America’s salvation in the MMO Market. Asia has been using a model known to many as Free to Play for a very long time. Players are allowed to download the game from a website and jump right in. Sure, there are some restrictions that hold them back from unlocking the full potential of the game but it is a better option than a 14 day free trial.

“But Umar”, you may find yourself pondering, “I know Asia is known for crazy people but this sounds insane! How do the Crazians make their money?!”

Very simple, Little Billy. Crazian MMO Developers make their money from an in-game market place where players can unlock classes, races, potions, cosmetics, and content for real life money. While not every player’s going to feed cash to companies for a game they play for free, they do garner in more money than $15 a month. Some players are so into power gaming and/or cosmetics that they’ll easily throw down more than $15 a month in purchases via this market place without even thinking it through.

Why adopt this model though? The answer is simply because it seems to actually work.

Turbine’s Dungeons and Dragons Online was far from being considered a true MMORPG by many of today’s standards and it was on the brink of extinction. However, unlike the dodo bird, DnD Online was not ready to leave this world. In one last hurrah, it released a Free to Play model and quickly flourished. The game’s income reportedly jumped by double and it felt a chance to thrive. Life began to ebb back into this would be abortion and deliver it salvation.

To follow suit, many MMORPGs began to jump onto the bandwagon. Lord of the Rings Online, while not a failure by many aspects, saw a chance to increase its player base with this new subscription model. It held back many features to free players but the market place allowed them to expand further into the world.

Around the same time LOTRO adopted the model, Everquest 2 wet its feet in the F2P world with Everquest 2 Extended, which included 8 classes, 4 races, 80 levels, and 5 expansions for free.

Now, companies like Cryptic, probably persuaded by Atari, are hitting the F2P model to save their abortion known as Champions Online and also the acclaimed Star Trek Online. Some may know my dislike for Cryptic in general and I don’t want to bore anyone with my vendetta but these games were Free to Play quality on release and never should have been Pay to Play, but I digress. They are now hitting the high road and going F2P.

Those seem to be some of the bigger MMOs released in the past couple of years that really need this chance to boost their communities. One MMO that I am waiting to take the dive into this model is Warhammer Online. The game has been a downward spiral since release and while I doubt EA even cares about the game still (they have been systematically dismembering Mythic) a F2P model for WAR might be able to save it from its dying breath.

Sadly, though, some MMORPGs that haven’t even had a year to fix their abominations are already looking to hit the F2P market as well. Yes, I’m talking about Final Fantasy XIV. It has been reported that they are currently seeking a chance to hit into this model to save their plummeting shares and overall consumer backlash.

I know a lot of people have mixed feelings about this model and some find it “greedy” that companies are willing to push out virtual stores but I don’t find a problem with this at all. Most of these games offer a chance to unlock the full game for the standard $15 a month and no one is forcing you to purchase anything from the marketplace to begin with. Most of the items these games offer aren’t game changing and aren’t required to excel in the game so there is no reason for some of the criticism. However, regardless of whether it is a good model or not there will always be people who will complain.

The Free to Play opportunity that has raged through the past two years seems to be giving players many chances to see more of what is out there than WoW. While it is good for companies to regain their money and enlarge their player base, it also gives players a chance to expand their horizons onto what is out there without feeling guilty for dropping 40-50 dollars on a game that could be releasing in beta quality.

How do you feel about the Free to Play model many MMORPG’s seem to be taking? Would you like to see future games continuing with this setup and if not, why?

Motivational Monday: Stereotype

Stereotype demotivational poster
Stereotype demotivational poster

Motivational Monday: Stereotype

I remember when I first started playing Everquest and decided to make a female character. I like a strong woman and honestly if I was going to stare at the ass of a character all day I preferred it to be a ladies. Most of the people I played with were real life friends, but soon enough I met a ton of people and new friendships were built.

We talked about a lot of things, but I was never one to give away much about myself including my name or race. Finally when someone found out they were very surprised; “I didn’t think many black people played RPG’s” one person said. There was nothing wrong with that statement, not to me anyway. It was true, there weren’t that many compared to Caucasians. I remember someone asking me; “Can you make a black character in Everquest?” The answer was yes you could, but I didn’t really care about that. For me it did not matter.

However, having played video games since the mid-eighties I have to admit to becoming aware of some insensitivity in video games when it has come to both women and minorities. Sometimes it was just something a black character said or how he or she was displayed in the game. Other times it was just funny, with a hint of sadness, at how black people were portrayed, especially in Japanese RPG’s.

Sadly one becomes more aware of these things when they get older. Like the old Tom and Jerry cartoons that sometimes shows the large black housekeeper lady or the blackface with the big lips when something exploded near a cartoon character. For the most part I shrugged it off and even laughed if it was really funny. Games like Grand Theft auto and the likes never bothered me because honestly I knew people who acted just like that.

Now spending more time looking back at games I have found some examples where black people weren’t shown in the best light. It is not that we have to always been portrayed like the Cosby show, but if nothing else, some of these designers need to hire a black man consultant. Saying that, I am available for hire.

Let’s take a look:

Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker


I could go for the easy joke and say he didn’t count, but I can’t speak ill of the dead. Oh sure I can, look at him spinning and kicking up pixie dust when he kicks, come on! They have Michael collecting kids and making his enemies dance to death. Then again I guess Michael did kind of do that so this is pretty accurate.

Shaq Fu


I see the first issue now, why do they give all the black folks the horrible video games? We really should have a contest to see which was the worst Shaq; Shazam, Steel or Shaq Fu, all titles that start with S and were a piece of S.  So Shaq is playing himself and while sightseeing before a charity basketball game he wonders into an old man’s store and is told to walk through some backdoor portal to a new land, I think this is how slavery happened.

I like the use of “jive” talk that Shaq uses and his first fight is again a black woman where he says; “Your magic won’t work on me girlfriend.” Then he commits both domestic violence and black on black crime.

Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City


Wow, so we have another basketball themed game where MJ becomes a ninja or something and goes around fighting people with a basketball. First off, how does he have unlimited basketballs, I didn’t get that with my black man kit. Second, he starts off in a prison, subtle guys, real subtle. Third, there are basketball hoops all over the place where he can dunk. Who built this world, the Harlem Globetrotters?

Barrett Wallace: Final Fantasy 7


Mr. T with slang pulled out of Grand Theft Auto put it together and you have Mr. Wallace. Ah, the Japanese and their intricate knowledge of black culture. Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand that the makers of Final Fantasy were not trying to be racist and I don’t really believe the character of Barrett to be racist, but it does hit some stereotypical points. With that said he was a good friend, a great solider and one of the best examples of a parent in the game. Still some of his dialog could have undergone some tweaking.

P.S. He had a freaking gun attached to his arm!

Sazh Katzroy: Final Fantasy 13


Again we have black character that is a loving father and honestly has one of the best storylines in the game. Sure, there is a little bit of stereotyping, but much less than in other games. I have to admit that I did like the baby Chocobo hiding in his massive afro. Sazh was loyal, funny and kind which also made him one of the most likeable and realistic characters in the game. Here is a bit of fact for you. Sazh was modeled after the singer Lionel Richie and his character was to be comedic with heart a gold, think Eddie Murphy in one of his Disney films.

Darkness is:

There are a ton of African American’s in games now, some with heavy stereotypes and many with little to none.  The fact is everyone gets stereotyped and it is really the context that counts. For me, it is good to see more minorities of all kinds in games. It makes it more real and more relatable. Hell, sometimes I wish I could watch the old Tom and Jerry cartoons with that maid, she was funny.

The Interview: Steve Gray

Steve Gray
Steve Gray

Steve Gray

When you have a gaming resume with names like Electronic Arts, Squaresoft and THQ there is little doubt that you know gaming. Obsolete Gamer was given the opportunity to talk with Steve Gray about his gaming career that started with EA Canada his time at Squaresoft and his work on Parasite eve. From there he created his own studio (Heavy Iron) which he sold to THQ in 1999. From there he returned to EA where he worked on many games including The Two Towers, The Return of the King, The Third Age and Tactics. Currently Steve Gray is the executive in charge of production at Tencent who is China’s largest developer and publisher and operator of online games.

We wanted to get a behind the scenes look at his time in the gaming industry and his many accomplishments from his work in Video FX to building the first Motion Capture Lab at EA Canada.

EA Canada logo
EA Canada logo

Obsolete Gamer: When did you know you would want to work in the video game industry?

Steve Gray: I originally wanted to be a Rock Star (just like Tremmel) and I played the clubs a lot in LA and up and down the California coast.  At that time I also worked in the feature film special effects business.  Which I continued to do until the early 90’s when I was VP Technology at Digital Domain (that’s when we made True Lies, Interview with the Vampire, Apollo 13, …).  When the PS1 came out I decided I really wanted to get into video games instead.

Obsolete Gamer: What was your first exposure to games?

Steve Gray: Asteroids in the arcades.

Obsolete Gamer: What was the first video game that hooked you?

Steve Gray: Asteroids in the arcades!!

Obsolete Gamer: Now before beginning work in the gaming industry you had quite the career in Visual Effects and working in television and movies can you tell us about that time?

Steve Gray: I worked at Robert Abel & Associates when I first moved to LA (to be a Rock Star).  Entry Level Rock Star doesn’t pay very well, actually… not at all.  RA&A worked on Tron, Star Trek 1, and a ton of really cool CG TV commercials.  Also with Omnibus and Digital Pictures we were really the first big CG effects house.  It was a great place to work, everyone was really young and crazy… we worked super hard, partied super hard.  It was a good time… late 80’s in LA was a fun time and place.  Guns and Roses was playing the clubs, the Sunset Strip was rockin’.  Then I went on to work at Rhythm & Hues as head of the Software department.  We wrote all our own CG tools then, because there really weren’t any commercially available packages yet.  I mostly wrote partical systems and rendering code, along with managing the team.  After R&H I moved over to Digital Domain, which was a lot of crazy house.  But we worked on really great movies… and working with Stan Winston and Jim Cameron was pretty amazing.

Obsolete Gamer: So you began the video game part of your career at Electronic Arts Canada, how did that job come to be?

Steve Gray: Digital Domain wanted to get into the video games business… so me and Chris McKibbin (then CFO of DD – different Chris than Chris Tremmel) went around to all the big game companies in the US and Japan trying to get someone to do a project with us… no one really wanted to do that because they (rightly) said we had no idea what we were doing.  Don Mattrick offered me and McKibbin both jobs at EAC.  So we thought about that and both took his offer.

Obsolete Gamer: What was it like working at EA Canada?

Steve Gray: It was really interesting. I learned a lot there.  A lot of really talented guys.  But unfortunately I discovered that making sports games wasn’t really my thing.

Obsolete Gamer: What did you think of the changing in video game technology at the time with the PlayStation One and the use of full motion video in games?

Steve Gray: We all though FMVs in games were super cool.  And actually I eventually built a game at my own company Heavy Iron that used FMV backgrounds in a “Resident Evil” type of game… except our backgrounds were pre-rendered videos instead of pre-rendered stills.  But that was on PS2.  It was the first Evil Dead game that THQ released.  But fundamentally I now think that FMVs kind of suck.  Or at least over use of FMVs kind of suck.  I like what we did in “Lord of the Rings The Third Age” with the transitions from FMV to In-Game Cinematic to Game Play.  And I’m definitely more of a fan of in-game cinematics now, especially if the player can customize his or her avatar, and that customized avatar shows up in the In-Game Cinematic.  But in general, I’m not a huge fan of linear content in games anymore.  Of course, working at Square we made tons of FMVs… but Square’s console RPGs are almost more of a big movie with some game play bits squeezed in there.   Which I still like.

Obsolete Gamer: What were the day to day activities of running the software tools group at EA Canada?

Steve Gray: Not really that interesting.  Just managed the tools group, tried to make sure that we really built things that were useful for the projects right now… no “ivory tower research” allowed.

Obsolete Gamer: Can you tell us about building the first Motion Capture Lab at EAC?

Steve Gray: In the beginning the EAC guys didn’t believe in it so we had basically no budget and had to rent out the auto-repair stall to use as our capture studio.  The guys in the auto repair shops around us all through we must be shooting porno movies because we brought in all this high-end camera gear… they kept wanting to know when the girls were going to be there.  Unfortunately it was just a bunch of geeky game developers.  Later we got a bigger a much nicer warehouse to work in…

Squaresoft logo
Squaresoft logo

Obsolete Gamer: How did the transition from EAC to Squaresoft take place?

Steve Gray: I knew some Square guys from various places in the past, plus I’ve always been a fan of their games.  When Sakaguchi-san asked me to join the company I couldn’t say yes fast enough.   Some of the other guys at Square invited me to Tokyo to meet Sakaguchi and we were in a private booth overlooking the massive dance club called “Welfare”, he asked me to join square and put out his hand… I shook it and the other Japanese guys asked me “do you know you just signed the deal”, to which I answered “yes”!!

Obsolete Gamer: Do you have a story or memory you’d like to share about your time at EAC?

Steve Gray: I think the day we installed the flying-faders audio mixing board in the sound lab was the best day.  Back then those things were super crazy expensive, and as a musician I’d always wanted to have one to play with.

Obsolete Gamer: What was it like working at Squaresoft?

Steve Gray: Working at Square was the best of times and in some ways the worst of times.  Working with Sakaguchi-san was extremely challenging because his standards are insanely high.  Which is a good thing, but it can be tough.  Also the cultural and language differences between the Japanese and Western teams we not really understood or managed very well.  I’m sure we were one of the first projects to be developed by a “mixed” team.  Of course now this is happening more and more, and people have gotten much better at managing those situations, but we were really on the bleeding edge, so to speak.

Obsolete Gamer: What were some of the challenges in directing Parasite Eve?

Steve Gray: The biggest issues were really finding consensus and understanding between the Japanese crew, many of whom had been at Square for many years and were used to their style of working… which was actually very “agile” though they didn’t call it that.  The Western team was much more into what’s now referred to as Waterfall project management… which we didn’t call it that either.  We didn’t really think about this sort of thing, and didn’t understand the differences, and basically made a big mess.  But the game did quite well when it came out, so that’s great!

Obsolete Gamer: Now the game was a sequel to the book correct?

Steve Gray: The game wasn’t a sequel really, it was based on a Japanese novel.  There is also a Japanese movie based on the same book… with some cool VFX from Toyo Links (Japanese VFX company).

Obsolete Gamer: There are many fans who loved that game, but some felt it did not get the attention it deserved, do you feel that way as well?

Steve Gray: It sold over 2.5 million units world wide I think, and sold something like 1.6 million units in like a week in Japan or something crazy like that.  Not quite Final Fantasy numbers, but pretty good.  I’m happy with it.

Obsolete Gamer: What did you think of Parasite Eve 2?

Steve Gray: I think the graphics and FMVs are probably better… I haven’t really played it all the way through, so I don’t have a lot to say about the game.  I was a little bitter with the way things ended up at Square, so I cop’ed an attitude and only played it a bit.

Obsolete Gamer: There were rumors of making a Parasite Eve 3 but it did not happen would you want to see a part 3 made?

Steve Gray: Only if I make it!!!  I don’t know.  Don’t really care.  I don’t think the franchise really took off enough to warrent a whole long series of games.

Parasite Eve box
Parasite Eve box

Obsolete Gamer: You also contributed to Final Fantasy 7 while at Square, can you tell us about that?

Steve Gray: Mostly I just helped another team at Square LA work on some maps.   Square LA did a bunch of maps for FF VII.  I don’t remember how many or what percentage of the total maps were done there.

Obsolete Gamer: Do you have a story or memory you’d like to share about your time at Square?

Steve Gray: Ha.  The stories I have to share involve other Square employees, cute Japanese girls at various locations in Tokyo at night.  They are not fit for public consumption… so I’ll let you guys imagine some of the trouble we got into.

Obsolete Gamer: What made you want to open your own game development company?

Steve Gray: After we finished PE1 at Square, a core group of us thought we were super badass game developers and that publishing companies would fall over themselves to give us projects and money.  That was not entirely true.  We worked on a bunch of games that never saw the light of day, and then finally landed the gig with THQ building Evil Dead 1.

Obsolete Gamer: Can you tell us about Heavy Iron Studios?

Steve Gray: It was originally called Chemistry Entertainment.  For a while we partnered with the Canadian VFX Company called Rainmaker.  Heavy Iron didn’t really 100% work out as we hoped.  But a bunch of really great people worked there, many of whom have gone on to successful careers in the game industry… for example my partner Marcel Samek went on to be CTO at EALA for many years.  Shiraz Akmal ran the central outsourcing group at THQ… Matt Coohill continued to work at Heavy Iron for a long time, and is now up in Seattle at Microsoft working cool stuff there.  And many others…

Obsolete Gamer: How did it differ from running your own company than working at EAC and SS?

Steve Gray: We had no money.  I didn’t really like running my own company that much… I thought it would give me the freedom to work on the kinds of projects I really like.  But instead I got to be an administrator and was always managing cash flow and trying to make payroll.  Not cool.

Obsolete Gamer: When did you make the decision to sell to THQ?

Steve Gray: When we were starting on Evil Dead 1, it was going to be one of the biggest projects THQ had ever done… and they really wanted to have us be part of THQ so that they would be building equity in the team.  And honestly, Marcel and I were a bit tired of managing the company instead of making games, so we decided to join THQ.  Of course, we also got paid some money (stock).  When I left THQ, their stock was at an all-time high… this was a good thing.

Obsolete Gamer: Do you have a story or memory you’d like to share about your time with Heavy Iron Studios?

Steve Gray: When we were finalizing Evil Dead, I was basically living at the office.  We had a group of THQ QA guys in the first floor, and they would find bugs, we’d fix them… I’d burn new test disks… they bang away at them.  It was a crazy project.  But then many things I’ve worked on have been crazy and hard… but that’s what makes it fun.

Obsolete Gamer: Then it was a return to EA what was that like?

Steve Gray: I came back to EA to join my original Digital Domain friend, Chris McKibbin, to help run what was called the “Worlds Channel” in EA.com.  We were all the entertainment products, meaning all the MMOs.  I guess younger readers may not know about EA.com – EA.com was EA’s first big jump into online games, and think we were a bit ahead of the times… EA.com didn’t work out, and got closed down, and many of the people merged back into the other EA Studios.  That was pretty rough because many people were also laid off, and as one of the senior guys there it fell to me to do a lot of layoffs.  But it’s lame to feel bad for yourself in that situation because it’s 100x worse for the people getting laid off.

Obsolete Gamer: Can you tell us about the development process with creating the Lord of the Rings games?

Steve Gray: We kicked some serious ass on Lord of the Rings.  First out at Stormfront, then internally at EA Redwood Shores.  Those were great games, beautiful games, built on very tight schedules under difficult circumstances and they were really good.  I credit my time and Square and my experiences working with Sakaguchi for my ability to really focus on quality… and of course, Neil Young was a great EP on the first two, I learned a lot working with him as well.  I have very happy memories of that time… though I did get diss’ed pretty hard in the infamous “EA Wife” blog.  I think our FMV->game play transition stuff which I mentioned earlier was a first for the industry, and we really set the standard for quality in movie games… a standard that has rarely been met since, in my opinion.

Heavy Iron logo
Heavy Iron logo

Obsolete Gamer: How did your experience with EAC, Square and owning Heavy Iron Studios factor into your return to EA and working on those games?

Steve Gray: I really credit Sakaguchi-san for helping me understand how to build great games.  I have to say that at the time, when I was at Square, I didn’t really agree 100% with how he wanted to do things… but in the following years I came to really appreciate how his approach to game development is able to consistently create such high quality product.  Now I’ve rarely (never) had the freedom he has as a developer, but his ideas fit into development even if you have to pay more attention to the schedule.  Heavy Iron gave me a lot of respect for how hard it is to run a business… and at EA I learned a lot about why publishers work the way they do, and why publishers make what seem to the developers like evil and unwarranted decisions.  That changed my understanding of the game business a lot.

Obsolete Gamer: Can you tell us about your work on Neverwinter Nights 2?

Steve Gray: This is a mistake in some profiles on me… I never worked on Neverwinter Nights 2.

Obsolete Gamer: With all your time in the gaming industry which prior of your career did you enjoy the most?

Steve Gray: I really really enjoyed working on the Lord of the Rings games.  The team was so fantastic.  Everyone was great to work with and super talented.  We may have had our struggles and moments of anger with each other, but I wouldn’t trade that time with those people for anything.  I am also really enjoying working at Tencent…

Tencent logo
Tencent logo

Obsolete Gamer: Can you tell us about what you are working on currently?

Steve Gray: I am currently Executive in Charge of Prodution at Tencent in China.  Tencent is China’s largest developer, publisher and operator of on-line games, we have a huge IM client (over 1 billion accounts), we run China’s largest portals, etc…  I work with all of our Studios, of which we have 9… with about 3500 employees across all of them.  But there are some projects I’m particularly focused on.

Unfortunately I can’t really tell you about them, because most are unannounced.  However one I can mention is NBA 2K Online, which is a co-development project with 2K Sports in the US.  It’s a bit weird because I didn’t really like working on Sports games at EAC… but this is really more of a Sports RPG or something like that.  It’s really cool… it’s going to be a monster hit here in China.  Working with Visual Concepts (the 2K Games Studio that builds NBA2K) is really great, working with 2K China is great… our team in Shanghai is great.

It’s really fun.  It’s amazing how Tencent builds online games and how big we are (we have 4 games that have more than 1 million people playing simultaneously every day).  We get to work so closely with our customers… in a way you can never do on a console game.  Also the scale we operate at is just stunning… QQ IM (our IM client) routinely has over 100,000,000 people logged into it every day.  Yes – that’s the right number of zeros… 100,000,000.

Obsolete Gamer: With all that you do you must have little free time, but when you do if you play any games what are they?

Steve Gray: I rarely play any games other than the games I’m working on, or directly competing product… which I can’t say what they are, because that would be a dead giveaway of what we’re building.  I don’t really play games for “fun” in my free time… well, what free time, for one thing.  But I have a lot of fun playing the games I’m building or those few other games I play to understand what the competition is up to.

Final Fantasy I: OST

Final Fantasy I: OST

It all began here with composer Nobuo Uematsu who created so much of the great music found in the Final Fantasy series. Fans and critics alike agree that the music in Final Fantasy has been excellent and even starting with the first one the quality of the sound was ahead of its time. The music drew you in, it was powerful when it was supposed to be and made you feel the emotion of the game.  The music could make you laugh, make you cry and drive you to kick the bad guys ass.

Final Fantasy I and II cover

How it all began

The story goes that while working in a music rental shop Uematsu was approached by a woman working in the art department at Square. At the time Uematsu didn’t consider it a career move in fact he thought of it as a part time job, a place to make a little extra cash and in the end would not last long. When he took the job Uematsu met Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi who asked him to compose some much for his games. In the end there were only a few requirements which included adding “battle” and “town” music, but besides that Uematsu had free reign to create the music as he saw fit and we all experienced and enjoyed the results.

What video game(s) do you wish would be made but were not?

Lost highway fog
Lost highway fog

As gamers we always want more, even when we claim a game was a masterpiece and should never be redone secretly most of us hope a great follow-up will be done so we can enjoy it all over again. This goes for remakes as well. Many may rally against the idea, but if done well can easily become yet another classic hit.

Then there are those games that everyone was waiting for. It was a given that a sequel would be made and gamers were chomping at the bit eagerly waiting for its release. Unfortunately, some of those games never made it to light and worse yet, in some cases the fans would never know what happened unless they dug for information in the few gaming magazines there were at the time. So what happened to these games that were to be released only to disappear?

In many cases the games were remade for the next generation of consoles. The problem with this was many fans never knew their new favorite game was the old game they were waiting for. The reason for this was normally because the name was changed and the game slightly tweeked to take advantage of the more powerfully system. In other cases licensing expired or there were behind the scene troubles that prevented the original title from being used.

Sometimes the game was just scrapped and never came to light. There were many reasons for this from money to contract disputes to the creator just walking away. It happened more often in the PC gaming market, but was certainly there in the console gaming market as well.

Final Fantasy IV

Final Fantasy 4 NES
Final Fantasy 4 NES

Now we all know that FF4 was released, but originally it was to be released for the Famicom (Japanese name of the NES). In this case it was decided to make FF4 for the Super Famicom (SNES) instead. Originally FF5 was going to be the SNES title with FF4 being the last Square (Now Square Enix) title of that series on the NES.

Sonic Crackers

Sonic Crackers
Sonic Crackers

You can actually find this as a ROM file under the name Sonic Stadium. Now there is a lot of information on Sonic Crackers and a lot of missing information as well. What we do know is supposedly SC was to be released as the last Sonic game on the 16-bit platform. Reports indicate the game was in the development stage with a few zones and sprites. In the end the game was redone and became Knuckles Chaotix on the 32X Sega Console. Though Chaotix looked and played different it is believed that was what became of Sonic Crackers, to bad most did not like the game or the 32X for that matter.

Star Fox 2

Star Fox 2
Star Fox 2

This was another great game that was to receive a direct follow-up. Star Fox was a hit on the SNES and fans everywhere held their breaths waiting for SF2. In the end the game was remade into Star Fox 64 and it was the N64 pending release that was the reason for Star Fox 2 being put on the shelf. The game was highly covered at the time and according to Star Fox 2 lead programmer Dylan Cuthbert the game was fully completed and ready to go.

This is just a taste of many games that were to be made, but never saw the light of day. Over the next few months Obsolete Gamer will be taking a look at more of these “lost” games and bring you a report on them. For now we asked our panel of insiders:

What video game(s) did you wish would be made but were not?

Grace Snoke from EOGamer wrote:

There are a couple of games high on my list that were in development, but never made it live or were just killed in the production stages.  Sadly, all of these games were being made, but didn’t make it to the end.

Stargate Worlds is at the top of my list. While I’ve heard rumors it is still “in production” I don’t have a lot of belief in that with the side projects the same company is working on.  I just don’t think they have the funding to make the game what they promised us it would be in the past.

Ultima Online: 2 I think that’s what they were calling it.  Either way, it was supposed to basically be an Ultima Online sequel, but with huge improvements on the current Ultima Online Game.  The game never had a chance, despite a lot of the community standing behind the game for it.

Wish Online:  For those of us that played in the beta, the game was simply amazing. The game engine created a wonderful playing environment.  It was lush, in-depth, had a great crafting and fighting system, but unfortunately was not meant to be.  Unfortunately it was a problem of money available verses development time and money ran out.  I know a group of us had looked into purchasing the game engine, but we couldn’t afford the price of it.

Aaron Hunter from Playtechtonics Inc wrote:

If I answered that about the current market, I would be giving away my secrets! I always wanted there to be a massively-multiplayer version of Star Control, and that’s why I made Starport! (www.starportgame.com)

What about you, what game do you wish would have been made?

Cosplay: Attention to Detail

If there are three things you need to be a good cosplayer its courage, a good look and attention to detail. Now to be fair sometimes a pretty face (and body) can overwrite the need to create the perfect costume, but when you combine form and design it becomes a work of art.

Sure we can just ogle at the ladies, but some of these costumes are really well done and many of the women in the fit the part extremely well. Awe, who am I kidding you guys aren’t reading any of this you’ve already clicked on the picture links.

Check out the rest of our cosplay pictures.

 

What is your favorite video game theme song?

There are quite a few iconic tunes from videos games that if heard one would easily be able to identify them. Some of these songs immediately conjure up visions of the game while others may stir up a memory surrounding an event centered around gaming. However, it does one thing is certain and that is music has had a great impact in gaming.

A theme from a game like Bubble Bobble may just identify the game, it was a repetitive theme as most early game music was, but it stuck with us because the game had over 100 levels. On the other hand the theme from Zelda is more likely to bring up a specific moment in one of the games like when you first went to the dark world or when you collected all the pieces from the Tri-force. Sometimes a song can remind you of an event. Say the theme from Double Dragon, perhaps it reminds you of hanging at the local arcade with friends or the theme from Frogger reminds you of the pizza shop near your school.

As music became a larger part of gaming individual songs became fan favorites like Celes’s Theme from Final Fantasy VI or the Kelethin music from the original Everquest. Like in movies the right kind of music could set the stage for a level, a boss fight or a cut scene and if done correctly could touch a cord with fans.

Video game music became so popular fans begged for soundtracks and from there people made their own versions of their favorite songs and the remixers were born. Almost every gamer has a tune in their head from a video game (or several) that will take them back to a happier time. Some of us even take our video game music with us in our media players and cars.

Even as video games have become more advance the music still remains and important part. It doesn’t matter if it is computer generated or performed by an orchestra, the key is it fits the moment and is memorable.

This week we asked our panel:

Do you have a favorite song or theme from a video game if so what is it and why do you like it?

Chris Skaggs from Soma Games wrote:

“Still Alive” from Mirrors Edge was very catchy and attached to a really catchy game as well. But “Still Alive” from Portal was a kind of phenomenon and I’d say must go in the Hall of  Game Music Fame. I knew that song was something special when I went to a game conference and saw an auditorium of gamers singing along to the song that was being played on a 50 foot screen in Rock Band.
I’m not sure I could articulate why I (and millions of others) love that song so much but its tied somewhere to the whole experience of the game and how the song perfectly complements what I just survived.

Mathew Anderson from Petroglyphgames wrote:

The first time I heard the intro theme for Civilization IV as the world turned in the background, I almost cried… (ok, I did cry, but don’t tell anyone). Having music that perfectly fits the game’s atmosphere is actually a rare thing, but when it does happen it can really seal the deal on immersing oneself in the game.

On the flipside, nothing really beats the soundtrack to Redneck Rampage…

Jason Shankel from Stupid Fun Club wrote:

“Sweet Emotion” from Aerosmith: Revolution X.  Because music IS the weapon!

Aaron Hunter from Playtechtonics Inc wrote:

The only one that comes to mind is the Super Mario Bros. music.

Jacob Stevens from Riverman Media wrote:

Overall my favorite soundtrack is Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. As far as favorite individual song though, that would have to be the battle music from Final Fantasy IV / II U.S. Why? I love the bass line! In fact, the bass line from that song is what inspired me to start playing the bass, which is now my primary instrument.

David Warhol from Realtime Associates wrote:

I’m kind of cheating on this one.  I like C64 Pool of Radiance but I wrote it.  🙂  It’s in the style of Wagner.  You can’t go wrong with 8 bit Mario, it’s too classic.  I like the way retro influenced bands cover it too.

Susan Oleinik from Zombie Studios wrote:

Purely because of decades of Pavlov-type conditioning, I’d have to say the ‘Puzzle Solved Noise’ from Zelda… yes I’m aware it’s not a whole song…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RDPT6Ehq_bI&NR=1

So what about you, what’s your song?

Gamer Culture: OverClock Remix

Overclocked Remix logo

OverClock Remix

In this new editorial series I wanted to go over different aspects of gamer culture. When video games you could play in your own home came on the scene a whole new world was created. Today there are so many different communities and groups within gaming that you could spend your entire life discovering and experiencing them. From blogs, to LAN parties to institutions dedicated to everything gaming, if you have a niche you can easily find a haven for it.

Now ever since the earliest games on the Atari as far as consoles and the Commodore as far as personal computers, music has been a very important part of the gaming experience. As gaming evolved the music did as well and entire scores were created for games performed by those self-defined as novice musicians to orchestra led presentations of music.

I personally became a fan of video game music after listing to some of the tracks from popular games such as Mega Man, Sonic the Hedgehog and Final Fantasy. In the past it was almost impossible to find the music from video games and if a soundtrack was created it was often only available in Japan.

Slowly but surely websites began to emerge that offered downloads of game music in the midi format. While it was not an exact representation of the music from the video game it at least gave fans something to keep of their own.

Later, more websites were born offering wav files of music. This was a golden age for game music fans as often the music was spot on and could be burned onto a CD. Almost at the same time specialty websites were created offering the direct sound file from a game meaning it was taken from the programing itself so it sounded exactly as it would on the game. For these files you would often need a specifically created program to play it although many created Winamp plugins so you could listen to authentic game music on your media player.

Then came something that for me personally changed the face of video game music. It started with a friend playing a song from Megaman 2 but it was slightly different with added beats and sound effects. When I asked what it was I was told it was a remix. From there I was introduced to the website Overclock Remix.

Overclock Remix was founded in 1999 and was created to showcase video game music as the art form that it is. OC Remix offers fans of video game music a place to remix and re-mastered their favorite video game music arrangements from all across the video game spectrum.  OCR showcases hundreds of re-mixers that have created thousands of remixed versions of video game music all free to download.

From there the site grew to what it is today, a place where fans, fanatics and students of video game music can go to listen, create, learn and remix video game music. You can even learn how to create remixes of your own and read the profiles of the original and remix composers.

I fell in love with this site and spent countless hours listening and downloading remixed versions of my favorite songs many that I play in my home, at the office and even in my car. OC Remix’s artists do not just take a song and make a few changes here or there. Sometimes a song is totally re-envisioned creating a completely new piece of music. These are true fans of video game music and offer it to the world free of change. In addition the remixes help preserve the essence of the original music and credit is always given to the original composer.

David “djpretzel” Lloyd is the founder of the site and after seeing many specialty music sites wanted to create a place where music from all gaming could be found so you can find music from platforms ranging from the Amiga to current systems today and everything in-between.

Music is undeniably a part of gaming culture and the remixes and mix masters from OverClock Remix have made their mark on it. If you like video game music you will love OC Remix and Obsolete Gamer recommends you check it out. They are an important part of gaming culture and gives us fans yet another outlet to enjoy our favorite past time.

Here is an arrangement of a few of my favorite OverClock Remixes.

Cosplay: Priorities

Many of you are either in school, at work or unemployed and living it up. Either way it is a good time for a Fapp-A-Thon cosplay session!

 

 

Final Fantasy XIV: A Fantasy I Want No Part Of

FFXIV online logo
FFXIV online logo

E3 2009 took us by surprise when Square-Enix opened up with the trailer for Final Fantasy XIV. It wasn’t expected to be announced and was rather hush-hush until the presentation. What really blew people away, in my opinion, was its suggested release date. When an MMO is normally announced to be in production you expect 2-3 years from that date or more for the game to be complete and released. Releasing such a big brand name in such a short time made me insinuate that this project must have been in works for quite some time in silence. As with most utterings of a Final Fantasy game being released, high expectations are hoped to be met by their fan base. Can Square-Enix bring out a AAA title in such a short time frame? The company certainly has not released anything close to AAA quality in quite some time and this MMORPG must have occupied many of the company’s resources for its production.

Final Fantasy XI was a highly acclaimed MMORPG in Japan and did moderately successful worldwide. With the juggernaut that is World of Warcraft, a company like Square-Enix seemed like the most powerful competitor to steal some WoW’s players. The time to capitalize on the market of people waiting for the next big MMO was netted in by this announcement. With Star Wars: The Old Republic not ready to debut until Spring 2011, Final Fantasy XIV had a chance to pull in a strong player base of MMO nomads.

As the release date began to draw near, open beta was announced and it was time to check out what Square-Enix was hiding behind the curtain. After getting my beta invite email I decided to follow the instructions. I was taken to a link that I had assumed would have a registration key and login section to get this fixation underway. Instead, the link took me to a portal with the “requirements” to play the beta. There were no links to sign into my Square-Enix account and the page was outright inadequate. Their “System Requirements” section on the page just directs you to another page with the information on the minimum system requirements. This portal page was completely and utterly useless and vague at best.

I finally decided to just go to the Final Fantasy XIV official page to login and see if I can find a registration code. Finding any reference to this code in my account page was impossible and adding Final Fantasy XIV to my service only asked me for a code anyway. When I finally did find the code page, they had closed registration codes for the time being and will release more at a later date. After spamming the refresh button a million times I eventually did get this code for my wife and myself to play.

Finding the download section for the game was another hassle as it wouldn’t open up the torrent file at all. I eventually had to find it off another site to begin the patch. My download time for this nearly 8GB file was 5 weeks. My wife’s download time was an hour and thirty minutes. After some surfing on the internet I saw a ton of people were having a problem with the game patching in a reasonable time frame. I guess we got lucky my wife’s download was speedy. When her download finished I just transferred a copy of the completed files to my computer so we could get started.
Now, onto the meat of this review. The game itself.

Performance: My machine is fairly new so I’m not even going to rate the performance based on that. My wife’s unit is older and has an Intel quad-core clocked at 2.40GHZ, 4GB of DDR2 memory, and an ATI 5870. The game ran beautifully. There was little to no chopping even in the populated cities with the settings set to max. Particle effects offered zero lag and the game probably ran the smoothest out of any next-gen MMORPG we’ve played in the past 3 years. For an open beta, this was highly impressive. Any midrange computer can handle this game at full settings with just a bit of tweaking if a hitch ever came up.

Controls: Developers of this game came out straight and said this game was designed to have the UI revolve around the use of a controller. Just like in Final Fantasy XI, this unrelated sequel of sorts incorporates the use of a controller even for the PC. It is not keyboard and mouse friendly at all. For God’s sake, you can’t even hotkey anything. For some of the most simple tasks you have to take a journey through a plethora of menus for miniscule options. It is ridiculous, cumbersome, and ill planned. Yes, the game is releasing for the PS3 and these controls must be comfortable for them but guess what? They aren’t releasing the PS3 version until sometime next year. What is the purpose of releasing the PC version with this horrid UI and control scheme if the focus of its movement isn’t even releasing until the following year? It makes little to no sense. It seems to me they are releasing this version of the game just to make the deadline “promise” they made at E3 2009.

LOL Wut Pirate Final Fantasy XIV
LOL Wut Pirate Final Fantasy XIV

Sound: Classic Final Fantasy sounds make their appearance in this game. It is clear and sounds great. The music really puts you in that role-playing mood if you’re into that sort of thing. It shoves you into this world and makes it come to life. As always, Nobuo Uematsu knows how to compose some grand and fantastical musical choices. Unfortunately, all this goes to hell the moment the voice-overs pop in. The studio that handled the voice acting must have hired the student’s from Ms.Spifz’s High School English Class. The actors sounded as though they were involuntarily picked to read aloud to the class the next section of The Great Gatsby. The voices are uninspired, bland, and lacking any emotion. The music sets you up for this grand adventure and then the actors from Twilight decide to make an appearance as voice actors and ruin the entire mood. I felt blue balled.

Gameplay: I know this is what you all have been waiting to hear, so here it is. The game immediately tosses you into this adventure to go kill whatever furry monstrosity is waiting for you in the newbie area, the inauguration for every great RPG adventure. If it isn’t stomping on giant rats, its killing boars or bunnies. After going through a thousand clicks to accept the quest, I opened my map to see where I should begin my journey. The newbie zone was right on the edge of town. Guess where they started me? At the OTHER side of this 5 mile city! Not only was it difficult to find my way around but I couldn’t leap down staircases to make shortcuts. And with that we bring up my biggest peeve in anything ever!
I hate games that don’t let me jump.

I don’t care how good it is.

I hate not jumping.

Walls that were two feet high were preventing me from crossing the fastest way possible. I had to trek all the way across the wall just to get around. I can shoot fireballs from my hands and cleave through the sturdy flesh of an Orc but I can’t hop over a small bump in the ground. I hate being bored in groups and not being able to prance around the dungeon as we continue onward. I hate not being able to cancel my spells with a small little hop. The lack of a jumping feature takes away from the gaming experience for me. I can’t even vault over the damn thing like in Gears of War.

Go To Hell Taru Final Fantasy XIV
Go To Hell Taru Final Fantasy XIV

Finally reaching the newbie area was probably the most frustrating part of the game. The mob I needed to kill sparsely speckled the newbie zone and the amount of new players looking to kill this mob were outnumbering its spawn rate. The hotbar techniques only correspond to the number on your NUMPAD. I couldn’t find any other way to map it elsewhere for more convenience. After spending maybe an hour searching for three of these mobs without any luck I decided to uppercut a Dodo bird which kept running by me constantly. Instead of considering its level, I shoved my lancer’s spear into his face and I was quickly dismembered in only a few seconds. As I laid dead on the ground I began to wonder when my release timer would come up so I could respawn. After a minute of waiting I began to realize why I saw so many dead players that hadn’t released their corpse earlier in my adventure. There is no release button. You have to excavate through your menu and find a “Return” button to get released to a spawn point. Nicely done, Square-Enix. Your vague manner really helped me there.

After calming down and letting my heart rate return to a safe set of beating, I decided to return to town and try out the crafting professions. I always liked fishing in an MMO so I decided to take up Fishing as my career choice. I needed some money to buy some of the equipment needed to pursue my profession so I sold some vendor trash and went ahead on my new path. After equipping my pole and bait I went ahead to begin the process of being a bad ass fisherman. After spending 4 minutes wondering how to even begin fishing since the keyboard controls were complete garbage, I got on my way. The whole fishing endeavor was much more complicated than I thought. I had to choose my depth, the quality of the water I was fishing from, and the casting point. When the message that something had bit my line appeared, I had to begin a struggle with the fish to drag it out of the water. You have to constantly “Jig” with the fish back and worth as it tries to take the line till the fish is too tired to struggle and you capture him. It’s basically the combat mechanics of a Pokemon battle. I found fishing way more enjoyable than the actual game’s combat since I spent most of the time running around with my spear trying to find rats to poke. I could easily see someone making their crafting profession their main source of entertainment in the game as it is rather enthralling.

The fatigue system was something I didn’t really experience as I gave up just way too soon on this game from sheer lack of enjoyment. From what I’ve been told by friends and from other sources, you can’t barrel through the game. Powergamers will not find any euphoria in this game as the fatigue system penalizes you for using one class for too long. After 8 hours of gameplay, your character will hit a block in progression that will offer them no experience points. They will have to change classes and try something else for another eight hours. Each week the debuff is cleansed and you are allowed to continue on with the class that was previously penalized. What does this sound like to me? It sounds like this game is probably two-thirds complete and they are putting roadblocks so they can successfully complete their endgame. By the time the PS3 version of the game releases, I prophesize that this system will be scrapped since the game will be officially completed.

Final Verdict: This game falls short in so many places. It is beautiful and quite breathtaking. It isn’t as user friendly as one would hope. Newer gamers to the Final Fantasy Online universe can easily get lost in the complexity of its interface and mechanics. It does require a bit more patience than most MMOs and getting the hang of it right out of the box isn’t something that will come easily. A small fraction of brain power is needed to solve the puzzles of the menu and to get used to some of the mechanics for the crafting professions. If you’re looking for something to dive into right away, this isn’t the game for you. If you’re looking for a powergaming experience, this game isn’t for you. If you enjoy excelling in one area, this isn’t the game for you. If you’re looking for beautiful graphics and dream inspired settings with an enjoyable RPG experience filled with the wonder and adventure of killing large rats and Dodo birds, this is the game you’re looking for! Overall, the game failed to grasp my attention for longer than five hours.

For something that was expected to take the MMORPG genre a step forward, this title took two steps backs and one step forward. What was expected to be a monsoon of intrigue and JRPG adventure ended up becoming nothing more than a minor swell lost in a sea of upcoming MMOs.

Villian Spotlight: Kefka Palazzo

Insanity Kefka Palazzo demotivational poster
Insanity Kefka Palazzo demotivational poster

Kefka Palazzo

Since the dawn of video game culture, there have been a lot of subjects you don’t bring up unless you want some greasy, unhygienic, nerd frothing from the mouth with a rabid induced rage. One of these subjects that is commonly brought up by RPG geeks which ends up in a heated debate is who is the greatest Final Fantasy villain? Normally, the debate is stomped by a wave of Sephiroth loving assholes. For some reason, long white hair, trench coats, and absurdly gigantic katanas are cool. Not just that, this guy’s freaking theme song is an orchestra chiming in death and destruction. The problem a lot of people seem to not realize is that the question asked who is the GREATEST villain in Final Fantasy. People seem to confuse cool with greatness.

I’m unsure if the sway towards Sephiroth is because a lot of people played FF VII as their first real RPG and considered anything before that garbage or mediocre. I do agree that Final Fantasy VII was a fantastic game and that Sephiroth was indeed a cool villain. The thing is, he didn’t accomplish much and his role as a villain was rather one dimensional. His creativity for slaughter was usually left with a sword swing and some fire. His actual development as a character was rather bland and nonexistent.

I know. I know.

Take a deep breath.

It hurts to hear this kind of criticism about the One Winged Angel but I’m about to open your eyes to a true villain. Someone who’s appearance was comical but their lust for destruction was their only drive in life. There wasn’t a waking moment where this monster didn’t think about the end of the world. Many villains feel this way but he isn’t a Cobra Commander or Doctor Claw replica. Where many villains fail and constantly try again, Kefka succeeds. Here’s a look into the devilish antics performed by the supernatural sociopath known as Kefka Palazzo.

As the game begins, Kefka Palazzo is only known as the Emperor’s Court Wizard and doesn’t seem to be more than just some queer looking clown. The Emperor decides to begin a process of infusing Magitek into humans. Kefka decides to volunteer for this process and is able to wield magic. Come to think of it… how was this guy the Court Wizard if he couldn’t control magic to begin with? Anyway, an obvious homage to Captain America occurs and Kefka becomes Captain Magitek and stops the World War that is plaguing the planet and is pronounced the savior of the world.

The End.

Things didn’t work out that way, sadly, for Kefka and he turned into a psychopath who deemed that everything ever in the entire world had to die. He became the Joker with magic. He forces Terra, the main character in the story, to wear a slave crown and attack a town that claims to have an Esper in their mines. Terra manages to escape the enslavement and runs off. Kefka, obviously angered by this decides to burn down an ENTIRE fucking castle just to kill a bitch. Pretty hardcore right? Sephiroth lit up a small secluded town but Kefka razed a whole castle.

Final Fantasy 6 Kefka Palazzo – poison
Final Fantasy 6 Kefka Palazzo – poison

After burning down a castle what else should you do? Grow impatient obviously! The Empire decides to attack the Kingdom of Doma and begins a long and drawn out siege. What does Kefka do to make things move a long faster? Does he impale a girl in the back with a sword? Hell no. Kefka poisons the kingdom’s water supply killing everyone inside, including Cyan’s, one of your party members, wife and his children. I don’t remember any Final Fantasy villains poisoning the innocent because they were consuming too much of their schedule.

When you’ve poisoned an entire kingdom what else can you do at the end of the day? Drink a cold beer and watch some TV? Take a hot shower and go to bed? Or freeze all your enemies in place and order one of them to prove their loyalty and kill their friends? The latter sounds like the best idea for this bad ass motherfucker. Unfortunately, the character he ordered to prove their loyalty stabbed him instead. But guess what? Big whoop. Instead of getting medical treatment he kills his king and draws in the powers of a couple of magical statues to become a God.

Looks like your team fucked up, huh? This guy is God and you know what his first order of business is? He isn’t going to hang a meteor over your most populated city. He reshaped the entire planet pushing it into a post apocalyptic world and then demanded people to worship him. You know what happened to the millions of people who said “Fuck that!” collectively? Independence Day. He burned them down with enough force to carve scars into the planet’s surface.

He became a God and forced people into his worship and still that isn’t good enough. This cum dumpster decides it’s a damn good idea to just end life since that shit is meaningless to him. Sure he’s defeated by the heroes of the story but that’s the point! He didn’t care if he died. In reality, he probably let them win because he was too much of a bad ass to die. He figured he was way to cool for the world of the living anyway. His death was his final “F U” to the world since he already fucked it up and now he’s dead and doesn’t have to bother to clean that shit up.

By now, I’m hoping your frothing has ended and you realize the error of your ways. I know it’s going to be hard to put away your Sephiroth figurines and wall posters but you have finally been educated or rather re-educated in the makings of a true monster and villain. You may subconsciously still blurt out Sephiroth’s name like a slutty wife screaming out her secret lover’s name when the question arises as to who is the greatest Final Fantasy antagonist but you will feel that itching in the back of your mind. You know you’re wrong and some day you can even accept that.

Nicolai Dutka: Archon Games

Archon Games logo

Name: Nicolai Dutka

Company: Archon Games

Profession: Producer/Project Manager

Favorite Classic Game: Final Fantasy  (The original for NES)

Quote: The original Final Fantasy was the very first role-playing game I had ever played.  I was instantly hooked into the genre and have been a die-hard RPG fan ever since.


Japan, I Left Your RPGs On The Sidewalk And Changed The Locks. We’re Through!

Chrono Trigger cry
Chrono Trigger cry

Japan, I Left Your RPGs On The Sidewalk And Changed The Locks. We’re Through!

Dear Japan,
My dear and sweet Japan, it breaks my heart to write this message. I hope this tear stained letter lets you know that the way I felt about you… about us was something I will always cherish. While the flickering flame on the candle that represented my love for you has been snuffed, the moments we shared will always be emblazoned into my mind and heart.

Do you remember when we first met, my childhood friend? I was seven years old walking through the SNES rental section of Blockbuster looking for a new game to rent. My little childish sticky hands were all over the Aladdin rental box, a smile stretching from ear to ear as I imagined taking the fight to Jaffar. I skipped down the aisle looking for my mommy so that I could go home with Aladdin and enjoy the adventures of an Arabian night. The other games looked on as I gleefully took flight down towards the register. I was blind to their laminated glare.

Like a rifle’s laser scope, I could feel the pressure of a presence weighing down upon me. This entity’s gaze was fixated on me, reaching out for a friend. Slowly turning to my left, my heart went a flutter. Behind the plastic wrappings of the case was an unknown creature holding a wicked sword. Its white fur and pink nose were innocent yet it held a darkened tormenting blade that screamed out to me like a van with free candy. My grip on Aladdin loosened as he fell to the ground face down and like a handicapped older woman was unable to get up without my help. That is where Aladdin would remain though, living away his last breaths as I stepped closer to examine the enigma in front of me. My fingers raced against the title as I dared to utter the name, your name…
Final Fantasy III.

At the time I was ignorant to your true identity. How could I have known? I was only a child and you offered me the ambrosia of adventure. I brought you into my home and for the first time in my life, I learned from a game. I read, I established connections with a game’s characters, I felt remorse for a fictional struggle, and I…

Well, you know…

I fell in love.

Yes, I said it. I fell in love with you, Japan and your RPGs. I still wanted to take that magic carpet ride but not with Aladdin. You engrossed me into your adventures and made me actually care about story and my characters. I chose characters who statistically sucked but because I felt for their background, I strived to turn them into weapons of perfection so we could see their adventure through to the end. I never thought I would experience anything like this ever again. I thought our love was a once in a life time voyage, a one night stand that left me laying in my motel room bed dripping like a used whore.

I was wrong. You kindled my heart through and through for the years. You invaded my life like a powerful militant country raping and pillaging my childhood for resources. You attempted to take them by force but you didn’t expect one thing, Japan. I welcomed you with open arms.

Like Teth-Adam meeting his Isis, your power and my love for you flourished for years to come. Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy, Breath of Fire, Suikoden, and the others. Month after month, year after year, it seemed like an eternity that our love would last.

Then things changed…

You became predictable. Another story about a hero who has amnesia? Another villain who dresses like David Bowie? What was that? Someone wants to destroy the world for no fucking reason? Wait, what? The hero can’t speak and can only express themselves by exclamation points and question marks? This is what you bring me?

Like a disgruntled woman on her anniversary, discontent with the predictable present of flowers and a dinner at Bennigan’s, my loins yearned for more than what you had to offer. I had seen too many movies on Lifetime. You were the villain in all of this. You were the man who didn’t lust for me and you know what, Japan? I stopped lusting for you. I went back home. I went West. I went to America.
The West showed me something that you couldn’t show me. They showed me how my actions can change the story. They showed me how my hero was capable of the greater good or the most unspeakable horror. America wasn’t one dimensional. They let me choose.

You forced me into this linear adventure with the same old characters. You took away the tragedy that I loved in you. There wasn’t any drama. You filled your games with twelve year old heroes who from the very beginning accepted their role as a savior. You are nothing like America and I’m sorry for that.

I love my complicated and deep storylines. I love my free reign in the events to unfold. I love not playing as a clean shaven emotionally complicated hero. I love The West’s Clint Eastwood attitude. It makes me feel like I’m in control. Not you! Me!

Knights of the Old Republic, Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, Mass Effect, and Dragon Age have yanked me from your grasp. I didn’t secretly leave you. The evidence was there the whole time. They took what your wrought and pushed it to another level… a level that I’m afraid you won’t reach.

Japan, you are the clean shaven boy with flowers who took me to the prom, the one who promised to bring me home before 11pm. America is the boy I want to leave with after 11pm. He has tattoos, he smokes, and his motorcycle is fueled by the blood of kittens. At the end of that night, you hope I give you a kiss but America hopes they can pop all my cherries in one session.

I’m sorry Japan, but for now this is good bye. Your lack of creativity, your undying urge to force me into a position I don’t think I want to be in, your inability to manifest a story that hasn’t already been done, and making me play as a he-she has forced this.

Is this the life that you want to lead? Will you take the road that has been laid out before you or will we meet again somewhere else in our lives?

Good bye Japan…
Your Umi-kins.

Defeat the Boss or Drop a Duece?

Final Fantasy IX characters
Now with more characters!

Defeat the Boss or Drop a Duece?

Once upon a time, a boy named Umar was playing Final Fantasy 9 and was about to beat the game. Before embarking on his journey to vanquish Kuja, Umar decided it would be a wise idea to eat lunch. The idea was sound at the time and surely nothing would hinder the ending experience Umar had vanquished so many Tonberries for. It wasn’t until sitting down and unpausing the game to begin the final scenes against Kuja that Umar realized he had orchestrated his own folly. You see, Umar was like a human duck. If he ate, it was only mere moments later that shit will be begging for sweet cataclysmic release. A dire time bomb situation ignited in front of the boy. Should he defeat Kuja or take a shit? Who would purposely prairie dog themselves when there is a toilet twenty feet away? After serious deliberation, the decision was set in stone. Kuja was going to die.

As if his ass began its own Final Fantasy random encounter, his turd became a Tonberry that slowly progressed forward toward the light. Umar knew he had to end Kuja and quick or it was “game over” for his Mom’s carpet. The battle began. Casting his protection and haste spells, war was waged. Sweat began to drip from his brow as he quickly realized Kuja was no pushover. The encounter was going to take longer than 2 minutes and the Tonberry situation grew more grim. Biting down on his lower lip, he unleashed all hell upon the transexual foe of the story. Bubbles were erupting and crying out from within his body, lashing like molten lava waiting to cover the land of Pompeii. His choice began to become a blur and regret began to sink in.

In some situations, it would be wise to ease out a fart at this time. Believing this to be true for this instance, the action was clear. He knew it was a double edged sword but he couldn’t just pause the game and run to the toilet. No, that would be illogical! Slowly, the gas which composes part of Venus’s atmosphere slid out. It was subtle and safe for the most part until an unrelenting quake erupted. “Oh no”, Umar exclaimed as he realized that this big burst could’ve produced a bacon strip on his underwear or far worse. Tightening up, he decided not to check his drawers and proceed to vanquishing Kuja.

Numerous Ultima’s were being cast as this angry reimagining of David Bowie from Labyrinth attempted to wipe out the boy’s party. Zidane entered a Trance which spelled hope not only for Vivi and Dagger but for Umar’s ass as well. Kuja was slain and the ending CGI sequence would begin. “Yes!”, an exasperated Umar managed to mutter as the screen began to fade to black. His toes were now curling up and he had entered a dance that somehow lessened the need to let it all go. As Kuja laid slain, Umar knew he could finally enjoy the climax of the adventure. Then, the unthinkable happened…

Kuja was the penultimate boss. Rather deceitful isn’t it? There was no mention of this Necron individual and now he stood in front of Umar, mocking him and his anus. History was rewritten for this moment. There was no Necron in Final Fantasy 9 at all. Not until now, at least. No one remembers that Kuja was the true enemy at the end of the game because the malevolent Gods of gaming decided to toy with this mortal boy who dared defy them and not run to the toilet while he had a chance. He had come this far and that shit had to wait. It was only Umar and Necron. Only one would walk out alive.

The Gods knew how the tale would end though. The boy was not ready mentally and physically for this obstacle and Necron dispatched him. His party fell in combat like lemmings running toward a cliff. The sound of metal stretching and pulling echoed through Umar’s body as the game over music played. Tears streamed his cheeks. Not the cheeks of his face but his ass for it was sweating holding back the apocalyptic spill it was suppressing. Finally running to the toilet, Umar opened the portal to the mouth of hell as fecal demons erupted forth. The Moon began to bleed and horrors raped the Earth. His failure was the doom of us all. Sitting on his throne of shame, he realized that he had lost.

______________________________________________________________

Have you ever had to make such a dire and overwhelming decision while playing a video game? Tell us about your adventure so that your legend can be echoed in the Halls of Valhalla.

Dear Game Industry, Hire Some Real Writers

Dragon Age Origins bitches
Dragon Age Origins bitches

I don’t want to sound bias but do video games lacking story make you want to play the sequel or even finish the game? I think a well-established story can motivate you to playing a game to its full completion. There are so many video games that I have picked up that I just can’t finish because the story and game play are so bad that I don’t even want to bother completing it. Do game companies just think of a good game mechanic and just say “Ya know what? Let’s just build something decent around this engine and hope it sells.” I honestly believe that even a game with a shitty engine could sell well if its story is captivating.

I used to be part the creative team for an online forum text based role-playing game. The game mechanics were simple. Write a 1,000 word role-play depicting what you’re doing that day in your adventure and myself or one of the moderators will come in and grade your writing and let you know how much damage you did if you were fighting, what you would be fighting, or how you should proceed given the options you are left with. Sounds tedious doesn’t it? Writing over 1,000 words just to illustrate what you were doing is a bit obnoxious but we did it this way so we got players to make actual stories and not just “NATHANIEL WALKED INTO DA BAR AND PUNCHED MACARTHUR SO HARD!” and then we’d have to moderate that. Instead we got a short story about the character’s adventure. You may ask yourself why anyone would play this game if it was obviously so tiresome to make a post this long just to advance. Well, compared to other message boards of the same category, we were the largest with around 150-200 active members. What made people keep playing and want to part of this world? It was our story, the world, and the characters within it. It ran for about three years with constant activity until we finally shut it down because we couldn’t handle the work load with our current staff and also come up with more stories since we spent way too much time moderating. The story overtook game play and also made a lot of people much better writers than they were when they first began at the site.

Lets take Final Fantasy for instance. Very few people actually anticipated the sequels to Final Fantasy because they needed their turn-based action. People kept playing Final Fantasy because the story made you want to fulfill the accomplishment of beating the game. You wanted to be that hero with the help of your ragtag group of adventurers, which saved the world. Stories make the game memorable and even make loyal fans keep playing. I still played Final Fantasy 13 even though I thought it was one of the worst stories in any Final Fantasy or RPG ever. I continued to play it because I believed that Square-Enix would turn the story around somewhere and make this an experience that was worth enduring the bland characters and adventure. Alas, ADD addled maniacs wrote it and it ended being a total piece of shit. I did think, though, that the game play was better but not worth the agonizingly retarded story. But you get where I’m going with this? I loved the Final Fantasy franchise because of the story and STILL completed this abomination of a sequel just because I loved previous stories and believed in the game’s track record.

There are games out there with good stories but are horribly paced. Red Dead Redemption has a good story from what I can tell by my six hours of game play that I put into it, however, I’ve had the game for almost 2 months now and I haven’t bothered to keep playing it because it is astoundingly drawn out. I don’t feel I’ve made a dent in the story because of all the “filler” non-sense in between pivotal moments in the game. The initial taste of story you are given doesn’t give you an urgency to want to see what happens next because the game takes so long to introduce you to anything worthwhile and intriguing.

Then, you have games that have a story that is apparently fleshed out but it sounds like a SyFy Channel Original Movie. I know it was a blockbuster game, but Assassin’s Creed’s story was horrible. The game play is atrocious and the story is almost vomit inducing. You know how in the Matrix when they upload the knowledge of Kung Fu into Neo’s head and it only takes a whole 5 seconds for him to be a total badass? Ok, imagine Neo learning Kung Fu but it requires him to deal with some past master’s life over the course of a few hours. That is Assassin’s Creed. The introduction to the sequel had me turning off my 360 almost instantly when they mentioned the word “Templar Masters.” For villains who take place in the modern era, aren’t masters kind of a childish thing to call them? That sounds like something a five year old who couldn’t think of a creative name made up while playing with his action figures. The main character himself looks like a chump and is way too foolish to be a hero, which is what this series is setting him up to be. He has to learn from his French ancestors how to fight better or something but if memory serves me right didn’t he learn how to be awesome in the first game? Apparently not, because he couldn’t even handle security guards who lacked batons or guns on his own. He needed a GIRL to save him. Good job, nerd. A chick had to back you up against rent-a-cops. I lost interest in this game within 30 minutes.

Some games have too much story. Think about Metal Gear Solid 4. Were we playing a game or an interactive movie? From what I recall, I got to sneak around some hallways for 5 minutes before being interrupted by 30 minutes of cinematic and dialog. If you’re going to make a game heavy in story make it interactive so I have something to do while you’re blabbing about your military and science bullshit. You know what I remember about the MGS4 story? Not much at all due to the fact that every single time the game would take control away from me I left the room to make tea or I put a pillow over my face and woke up when I noticed the talking ended. The story became way too encumbering and I only finished it because it was the finale to the series or so it was believed at that time.

If the gaming industry needs someone to look to in order to make games with decent game play but highly engrossing stories there is a little company called Bioware that completely decimates the industry with its captivating stories and player involvement. Dragon Age and Mass Effect are their two hottest franchises right now and it’s hard to argue that either has a monotonous story or boring main character. Commander Shepard is a bad ass and they sway from good or evil but the ends always justify the means regardless of the decision. The nameless Grey Warden leader in Dragon Age does what needs to get done despite the situation he/she is placed under. While I love both franchises, I dislike the villains and I feel they could do more than just have a villain who wants to shit dicks all over the world because they are evil. In Dragon Age, Loghain was a rather interesting character but they didn’t focus much on him. I feel if they did it would’ve been much more difficult to stomp on his dreams and kill him when it came down to it. The game always leaves you thinking that he is possessed by a demon or somehow working for the enemy, but he isn’t. He’s just a man with an opposing view and you aren’t really given a chance to understand his action because you get the option to decapitate him, which any reasonable person will do. Only a total pussy wouldn’t chop off someone’s head if given the option. Do note how I compliment the story so much in these Bioware games but I don’t even mention the game play experience. That would be because it is rather simple and nothing introduced has been revolutionary. It’s the story that kept me playing over and over and over.

So video game industry, this is what I’m demanding from you from now on. There will be no “ifs”, “ands” , or “buts” about this. I want a hero who isn’t a metrosexual and has a beard. Yeah I said it. I want more heroes with beards. I want a villain who has a really good reason to want to do the things they do other than just being a total chode. We need someone we could see siding with if given the appropriate circumstances. I don’t want “The dark forces of” to be part of a story anymore. I’m sick of one-dimensional villains. Why can’t it just be an opposing country or something? Sephiroth wasn’t born evil. He went bat shit when he found out how he was made and wanted to destroy the planet for his mama. See? I can side with that. He loved his mom so much he wanted to make her proud. I’m sick of Ganon being a total dick for no reason. I want likeable party members. I don’t need anymore Wakka’s or Snow’s who think they are hot shit but are incredibly obnoxious. Do the creators even play the games? Do they not notice how annoying these kinds of characters are? Get rid of them. If you want a fun loving side character make him a happy drunk or something. Don’t make the game a movie by leaving us on the sidelines with lack of interactivity. I don’t want to sit through dialog that I have no say in for thirty fucking minutes. If this scene really has to happen make it worth listening to. Don’t get all scientific and shit. I’m playing this game for entertainment, not to learn how to fucking make a clone in real life. This is all I demand from you. In return, I will give you my money if you don’t somehow fuck this up.

Do you guys think that the story matters in a game or are you fine with stories that are as bland as Tetris?

Obsolete Intros: Chrono Trigger

[youtube id=”w7Sbd0yZnj” width=”633″ height=”356″]

Obsolete Intros: Chrono Trigger

Chrono Trigger SNES box

Time travel is one of those plot devices that can be really cool or turn really bad in a heartbeat. Chrono Trigger from Square Soft brought us a great story and awesome gameplay all in one. Released for the SNES in 1995 it became a mega hit in the U.S. and Japan, even today people still play it and one person even proposed to his girlfriend within the game!The role-playing aspect drew fans in and the detailed story which included side quests, character development and multiple endings kept players not only interested from start to finish, but coming back for more. The active time battle system was pretty much like Square’s other hit, Final Fantasy with a few tweeks to improve game-play.

You can still find Chrono Trigger today on the PlayStation and Nintendo DS

Video Game Art Is In The Eye of The Beholder

Mario Art
Mario Art

There has been quite a debacle in the media entertainment industry on whether video games are considered art and/or show any valued relevance that can make the player look back and reflect the actions undertaken in the game towards their own life. When curiously looking into Edvard Munch’s work The Scream, soothingly listening to a symphony composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, or choking up reading Where The Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls, there is one thing in common they all share. They are considered art and evoke emotion within the willing participant viewer. Video games have been labeled as a media outlet that in its current state is incapable of causing an expressive movement in the partaker of this virtual journey.I, for one, disagree.

Art has been defined in a wide aspect and it’s meaning is subject to those who interpret it. The film American Beauty has a scene where one of the characters was commenting on the beauty of a plastic bag caught in the wind, wisping above the drab concrete pavement and what this meaningless occurrence meant to him. If a plastic bag swaying malevolently in the wind is considered art than the freedom expressed in the level editor for Little Big Planet should be considered a masterpiece. Given a set amount of tools, a gamer is handed his emblematic paintbrush and pallet and left with free domain to create a level or Sack Boy in any way they please. Sure this does not sound like something on the level an artist would have to deal with but I must interject. We are all given the same colors and brushes but chances most likely are one would be unable to paint the Mona Lisa or sculpt “David”. They could be replicated but never to same preciseness of the original. The ability to take what is already there and construct it into something new and inexplicable and projecting it as a physical manifestation of thought and creativity is art.

Sometimes, physicality is not enough merit to consider a form of entertainment media as a source of art. What about the ability to portray controversy? The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger portrayed sexuality, a copious use of vulgarity, and a truer depiction of teenage angst at the time of its published date. The uproar caused this book to be considered controversial and yet is considered art for its ability to stir up emotions in the reader. If controversy is needed to be part of the art in-crowd than Grand Theft Auto should be ringleader. The ability to sleep with a hooker and than murder her only to reclaim your money, snipe an old woman crossing the street, shout absurd profanities, and go on highway speed chases with the police is the staple for the GTA series. Many claim it glamorizes moral degradation to gamers and imbues them with a violent sociopathic personality. Last I checked, The Catcher in the Rye wasn’t claimed responsible for over five deaths and multiple occurrences of other real life crimes.

Being able to feel something emotionally towards a story is one thing many people are able to relate towards their own lives. The feeling of regret and the inability to mend past mistakes is a strong focal point in the novel Atonement by Ian McEwan where a young girl attempts to atone for a past accusation she commits which effectively ruins the lives of two people. Making right from a past wrong is a common relevant instance in the lives of people. It is easy after reading such a powerful work of literature that the reader would be able to look back on the misdeeds of their past and think of ways to remedy them. In the God of War series, Kratos is not only seeking absolute vengeance but also atonement for the mistaken murders of his wife and child. This is the main focus point of the series and shows just how far one man would go for redemption even against a pantheon of gods. Stories in some games have a deep meaning that goes beyond traveling from point A to point B. There is actual character development and the ability to relate to a theme that vaguely resembles the willingness of someone in real life.

Video games in their current state may be considered primitive art but they are art nonetheless. There are moments, stories, visual inspirations, and music many people will not forget. No one will forget the feeling that stir up when they hear the Final Fantasy intro music, the desperations of Cole from Infamous to save the people and a city that hates him, and the beauty painted in Okami. I could go on and on with citing examples of how gaming fits the definition of art but that would take a book’s length of words. The industry may be far from being considered comparable to Leonardo da Vinci but it is still in its current shape and form artistic.

Game Music: A Love Affair

Mario with Rock Star Guitar
Mario with Rock Star Guitar

While working on the new music player for the website I began thinking about some of the game music that really, dare I say, moved me. These were more than background songs they were an important part of the game or the specific level or zone. The music I am talking about is the kind that stays in your head long after you stopped playing. It is the type of tune you would play in your car or music device. So allow me a moment to talk about some of my favorite video game music from the world of consoles.

Wood Carving Partita -The Library: Castlevania Symphony of The Night

Castlevania Symphony of the Night screenshot
Castlevania Symphony of the Night screenshot

Wood Carving Partita – The Library: Castlevania Symphony of The Night

All the music from SOTN was excellent and to this day I still listen to it from time to time. However, there was just something about the music when you entered the library. The classic overtones just mixed in so well with the Dracula theme. It was truly a signature theme that, to me, stood out from all the other excellent music from this first rate game.

Julia – Final Fantasy VIII

Julia – Final Fantasy VIII
Julia – Final Fantasy VIII

Julia – Final Fantasy VIII

While many fans did not believe FF8 was a worthy successor to FF7 it was well done in its own right and had quite a few memorable songs. One of my favorites was Julia. Julia Heartilly was a pianist and a love interest for the character Laguna. The song is actually a piano arrangement of the games main theme song, Eyes on Me. Maybe it is because my sister played classical piano, but I really liked this one, it set a perfect tone for the flashback and helped me to enjoy the main version even more.

Parasite Eve 2-Forbidden Power (Aya’s theme)

Parasite Eve 2 – Forbidden Power (Aya’s theme)
Parasite Eve 2 – Forbidden Power (Aya’s theme)

Parasite Eve 2 -Forbidden Power (Aya’s theme)

Not to sound like a Square fanboi but Parasite Eve was one of those great games that did not get the credit it deserved. Now I will admit that part two was not as good as the original, but I did really like the main theme remixed from the original with a harder, rock guitar beat to it. This theme mixed with the intro cinematic’s got me hyped to play.

Starfox 64 – Corneria

Starfox 64 – Corneria
Starfox 64 – Corneria

Starfox 64 – Corneria

I played this game so much that I could beat it on hard without anyone losing health or myself dying, with my eyes closed. Okay, so my eyes were open, but I owned this game and the theme music for the first stage started me off on the right track. It made you feel you were going into battle and you were going to kick some ass. Sometimes I load this one up just to play the first level, hear the music and lay some smackdown.

Sonic CD – Wacky Workbench (Past)

Sonic CD – Wacky Workbench (Past)
Sonic CD – Wacky Workbench (Past)

Sonic CD – Wacky Workbench (Past)

You know I can’t even explain why I like this theme so much but I do. There was just something about it that felt classic. Sonic CD was the best thing to come out of the Sega CD and it had some great music to boot, but this one stood out for me.

Now there are a ton of other themes I love and these don’t necessarily rank in any particular order, but they are definitely up there. Now it’s your turn. What are some of your favorite video game music themes?

Final Fantasy VII Trailer

Final Fantasy 7 cover Playstation
Final Fantasy 7 cover Playstation

A blast from the past, arguably one of the best Final Fantasy games out there. Created by Square in 1997 this role-playing game brought new visuals and music to the series that American games had not seen before. With an engaging story and memorable characters it sold millions not only in Japan, but across the world.

It was much more than just the gameplay or the graphics even the music captivated fan leading to impressive sales of the soundtrack. From there the movie Advent Children was made and still today fans beg for a sequel. Like it or not FF7 redefined not only the Final Fantasy series but role-playing games itself.

Final Fantasy 7 Remix for 360 and PS3

Final Fantasy 7 intro
Final Fantasy 7 intro

After years of fans asking for a revamp of FF7 and the anger fans felt over getting only a small changed to the game in the PSP version Square Enix announced today the Final Fantasy 7 Remix.

Everyone remembers Cloud, Tifa, Aeris and of course Sepiroth well take a picture because it will last longer. None of these guys are going to be in the remix, in fact the remix we are talking about has nothing to do with the game and instead have to do with one of my favorite subjects, cos-playing.

So without further ado I am proud to present Obsolete Gamers first annual April Fool’s Day cos-play photo shoot staring character from the beloved FF7 RPG.

Cloud cosplay
Cloud cosplay
Vincent cosplay
Vincent cosplay
Sephiroth cosplay
Sephiroth cosplay
guy Tifa cosplay
guy Tifa cosplay

I would just like to thank all the fans of Obsolete Gamer for this chance to pull this April Fool’s prank on you. You guys rock! Thank you for the support!

Thanks to FANTAPANTS for the video!

Why did she Kick My Ass at Fighting Games?

His name was Erwin and he played with Orchid and was able to pull off a combo from the start of the match and chain it into a finisher so you did not get in one single hit. He taught me that trick in exchange for six bags of Skittles, a Mars bar and my limited edition Cobra Commander with cloth mask.~J.A. Laraque

Why did she Kick My Ass at Fighting Games?

One day when I was a teenager I decided to invite my sister to play some fighting games with me. She was totally not a gamer, hell she didn’t even know how to turn on my SNES. I don’t know why I asked her to play, the last time I got her to try a game was Final Fantasy and she just looked at the screen, then to me and said; “So this is why you don’t have a girlfriend.”

Gamer Girl

Maybe I wanted revenge on her for scaring my ass a child making me believe there were ghosts that shook the house never telling me it was the subway underneath. Perhaps I was bored because my friends were out living life and I was trying to master every finisher in Mortal Kombat.

Mass Shrinkage

So I popped in Street Fighter 2 for the SNES, I figured the first thing I would do was show her who is boss. I had marathon seasons with my friend John who could beat the game on hard with the controller behind his back. (He did this and yet had a girlfriend). He would play Ryu and I would play Ken and thanks to his skills I could kick almost anyone’s ass.

Gamer Girl anime

My sister picked Chung Li because she was a girl and was “pretty”. She didn’t even ask what button did what, but I decided to give her a few moments to get used to the game. After a moment I jumped in expecting to finish her off pretty quickly, and then something weird happened.

I couldn’t lay a hit on her. She was just mashing the buttons and somehow she was kicking my butt. You should have seen her face; she looked like she was wrestling with a rat in her hands. She was blinking wildly and sweating. Even worst she would turn her whole body with the controller as if that helped her. All this and she owned me.

Oh Hell No!

We had about ten matches before I had to take a break to get some air (and to cry). I did get close; she had 10% health and somehow beat me. I could not believe it, 10 and 0, her win. I had to get my balls back so I loaded up the Sega Genesis and popped in Mortal Kombat.

beaten by a girl

MK2 was my game. I played in the arcades and was taught every combo and finisher from this guy who claimed his dad had worked on the coding for the game. I knew every in and out and I was determined to make my sister pay for what she did to me. If I ever hoped to get laid I had to beat my sis at video games. Yes, I see now my logic was flawed.

I picked Scorpion and again my sister went with a girl, Sonya Blade. My sister told me Sonya was a nice name; she nicely kicked my ass again. Don’t get me wrong, with MK 2 I won some matches, but in the end she won more. She even pulled off a finisher and she never played before or even saw the movie!

At this point I was her bitch and had one more game to try.

Balls, missing

Killer Instinct was recently released for the N64 and I had been trained in it by the master. His name was Erwin and he played with Orchid and was able to pull off a combo from the start of the match and chain it into a finisher so you did not get in one single hit. He taught me that trick in exchange for six bags of Skittles, a Mars bar and my limited edition Cobra Commander with cloth mask.

My sister thought the game was very pretty when I loaded it up and to her surprise I picked the girl. My sister was upset, but then smiled when she realized she could also pick Orchid. It was to be sweet revenge because I would beat her with a girl character.

hot girl gamer

It started off well enough. Again, she knew nothing of the game and didn’t ask for instructions. I had her half health when out of nowhere she pulled off a combo breaker. I felt my scrotum shatter as she pulled off her own combo and somehow killed me. I just sat there, my mouth gaping, I couldn’t believe it.

I only played her that one time. I got up without saying a word and left. I think I walked six miles before I feel to my knees embracing the defeat. At that time everything I was evolved gaming and my noob sister owned me in three different fighting games I was a pro at.

You took my balls and I’m going home!

I didn’t play any games for the next few weeks. I started to go out more and play basketball and even met a girl. It didn’t work out, but hey it was a start. In the end my sister helped to break the addition to games. I still played a lot more than a normal kid, but it did get me to realize that what’s important is moderation because if you sister can kick your ass then you might as well not take the game so seriously.

Girl Gamer FPS

I also had an effect on my sister. She got into video games though her type was adventure or horror like Resident Evil and Silent Hill. To no surprise she was very good at those games as well.

I never learned why my sister had a natural ability to own me. I never saw her play anyone else so I don’t know if it was just me or something else. Either way I learned something that day; girls can play games and lay the smackdown on you too. Later in life I made sure to get my girlfriends into games, sometimes they beat me, but in the end I always came out on top. (Lol’s sex joke for the win!)

Final Fantasy on the iPhone

Final Fantasy for Iphone
Final Fantasy for Iphone

Oh my God, oh my God you guys! Ok, it is clear I like the Final Fantasy series all you have to do is look at my gamer profile, but this is pretty cool just for fans of any old NES and SNES RPG game. Square Enix has released both Final Fantasy I and II on the iTunes Apple App store. For $8.99 each you get not only the full game, but upgraded graphics as well.

Keep in mind that these are the Japanese release numbers meaning FF II in the U.S. was really FF VI in Japan so with these you are getting the original FF I & II. (There will be a test on this on Friday)

Now the guys and gals over at Enix realize this game my not appeal to new comers of the FF franchise, but us old school RPG’er should be chomping at the bit. Even if FF isn’t your thing if this is successful you could see more titles down the line like Chrono Trigger and something I’d love to see, Parasite Eve.

Final Fantasy for Iphone 2
Final Fantasy for Iphone 2