Final Fantasy: Forging The Future


I’ve thought a long time about how to write this. I knew I would need a Final Fantasy article honoring its 25th year in existence (if we go by the Japanese release dates), but I wasn’t sure what the angle should be. I’ve already written so very many posts about Final Fantasy that the readers probably think I am trolling them. I’m not. It’s just my favorite game (as you might have noticed) and it’s the one that always gets my blood pumping. But I’ve conveyed that already, many times before. I thought about letting the whole thing go by, but that didn’t feel right either.

So rather than talk about the past of Final Fantasy, which admittedly was when people still cared about the series, I’ve decided to talk about the future of Final Fantasy and what I think I can be done to salvage the once-proud franchise. There are tons of articles out there about this very subject, but I hope you will agree that I have shown enough credibility regarding Final Fantasy to make my voice stand out against the cacophony of chaos currently clouding the Internet like a sudden squall. (See what I did there?) Continue reading Final Fantasy: Forging The Future

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Strikes At PAX

Yeah, that’s the title of the game: Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. After the somewhat misleading marketing approach of Final Fantasy XIII-2 that fixed itself around Lightning, even though her appearance in the game was little more than a cameo, Square Enix is not taking any chances and apparently shoving the main marketing theme right in the name: Lightning is back and that’s a good thing. Somehow, despite the mixed reception of the first game in the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy and the more positive if cautious welcome of Final Fantasy XIII-2, the one thing people seem to agree on is that we all want more Lightning.

So Square Enix is obliging, but in a radical departure from the previous two games, which I applaud because that’s the main reason I love Final Fantasy. Details are still scarce, but we know that Lightning is the only playable character in the game, but is highly customizable, allowing you to change her combat style and appearance in drastic ways. The biggest shock is that the menus are gone as this is an action-RPG, giving you direct control over her movements and actions for the first time. It’s something Square has hinted at in the previous two games, but now they appear ready to fully embrace it. It’s a direction the series has been heading for quite some time, so I am anxious to see how they pull it off.

The other big gameplay difference is the presence of a Majora’s Mask type Doomsday countdown clock. The game will take place over 13 days and every action you perform, including healing, casting spells and reviving yourself will drain precious time from the clock, hastening the final showdown. Oh and the game takes place hundreds of years after FF XIII-2. Consider me intrigued.

What about you? Do the drastic changes Square is implementing only further turn you away from Final Fantasy? Or does their desire for innovation make you want to give it a chance? Hit the comments!

Source: IGN

GamerSushi Asks: What Are You Playing?

Metal Gear Solid HD

Been a while since we had one of these discussions, so I thought it was time for a good old-fashioned “What Are You Playing” from the folks at GamerSushi.

This time of year is always a strange one. It’s about the time that you start clearing out the backlog from the end of the previous year, and you’re moving on to a number of random games that you couldn’t quite find time for before. Sure, there might be the random release like Final Fantasy XIII-2 or Twisted Metal to keep you busy, but for the most part, you’re waiting for one of the big releases from March or perhaps even as far away as the summer.

At least, that’s my story right now. Having just come off of Final Fantasy XIII-2, I’ve been dabbling in a few games that I didn’t think I would enjoy as much as I do. For one, I’ve been totally up to my knees in the Mass Effect 3 demo. That one in particular was one that I had mostly written off, only expecting just a few evenings of fun – but it’s had the opposite effect on me. I’m totally suckered into it at this point, and I can’t get enough of the leveling system and the store purchases.

In addition to that, I’ve jumped into the MGS HD Collection, and I can’t believe how much I’ve liked playing Metal Gear Solid 2 again. Sure, I’m still at the early stage of the game (the Tanker), but I had forgotten just how tightly designed that section of the game actually is. I never considered that I would enjoy playing MGS 2, but here I am. And the restoration is great. In addition to that, I’ve been hopping in and out of Battlefield 3 multiplayer sessions with Mitch, and I’m right on the verge of being completely addicted to that as well.

So yeah, that’s what I’m playing these days. What about you gents? What are you playing?

GamerSushi Asks: What Are You After?

Calvin and HobbesOne of my favorite Calvin and Hobbes comics has to do with the idea that every man has a price. Calvin says that his price is two bucks cold cash up front, to which Hobbes muses aloud that he’s not sure what’s worse: that everyone has his price, or that the price is sometimes so low. What’s funny is that the more I think about it, the more this is actually true in gaming, too. Everyone’s got a price in terms of what they want from a game. And while the Bill Watterson comic touched on this in a more sinister way with morality, I think it’s what actually helps us enjoy games overall.

These thoughts started brewing in my head after an excellent piece over on Unwinnable, titled, Bullshit Vs. The Thing You’re After. In it, the author touches on every gamer’s price and what it is that makes gamers tick. And I think I totally agree. Continue reading GamerSushi Asks: What Are You After?

On Videogame Cut Scenes and Filmmaking

Mass Effect 2

Over the years, the advancements in video game technology and the bigger budgets associated with AAA games have helped the games industry compete with movies in terms of their appeal and their business. The experiences are bigger, bolder and more akin to Hollywood blockbusters than ever. We expect more out of games these days – and a lot of that mindset is owed to the cut scenes that were introduced several generations ago. Cut scenes stretched our idea of what games could be. But do games still do cut scenes right?

That’s the question Wired asks in a new piece titled 5 Film-School Violations in Videogame Cut Scenes. In it, writer Jason Schreier takes a look at some of the things that modern cut scenes still get wrong, even after all these years. While I think the list is sort of ill aimed (it’s more about writing and editing than actual direction), Schreier raises some great issues. In terms of writing, many games just can’t seem to cut it compared to the movies they’re trying so desperately to be.

While I’d have to disagree with him on Mass Effect 2 (one of my friends was a cinematic designer on that game and knows his crap), I’ve long maintained that many game cut scenes don’t really know what they’re doing in terms of the actual craft of film – shots are set up all wrong, and are more about flash and spectacle than about the story itself. To me, one of the most grievous recent examples is Final Fantasy XIII. For all the flack that the game takes, I felt like very little of it was directed at its cut scenes, which were often a jumbled mess. During action sequences, I often found it hard to follow what exactly was going on in the scene, to the point where I had to re-watch them several times.

So how do you guys feel about this list? How do you feel about cut scenes in gaming? Which games do it right and which ones do it wrong?

Source – Wired

GamerSushi Asks: Are You A Streaker?

Now before you shout, “YES!” and grab your trenchcoat and sunglasses, allow me to explain.

A streaker, in this definition, is someone who plays a game consistently for a long time, but if another game is played, the first one loses all appeal. For example, after beating Final Fantasy XIII, I continued to play, doing side missions and hunting down monsters. But, once I played Alpha Protocol and beat it, all desire to play Final Fantasy XIII is gone for right now. I’m sure it will come back again sometime, but I’ve noticed that I sometimes have to maintain a streak of playing a game every day and if I stop, I find that I don’t want to play as much as I used to.

Do you guys ever experience anything like this? Are you streakers?

What Defines an RPG?

RPGTime for some fighting words, methinks.

For many years past, Square Enix has been the reigning king of RPG titles. From Final Fantasy to Kingdom Hearts, these guys have enjoyed many eons atop the RPG heap, reveling in their great successes and enjoying all of the accolades (and bling) that goes along with such a thing. However, in recent years, you could say there has been a bit of a changing of the guard in some ways. Not because Square Enix has gotten bad or anything, but simply because their releases are less frequent, and this period of time has come with the rise of many Western RPG developers: namely, Bioware.

So, how does the Bioware Writing Director feel about Final Fantasy XIII? He explains in a recent interview with Strategy Informer.

Well, before I address the main point I just want to take a slightly more controversial route: You can put a ‘J’ in front of it, but it’s not an RPG. You don’t make any choices, you don’t create a character, you don’t live your character… I don’t know what those are – adventure games maybe? But they’re not RPG’s.

I’m not entirely sure I agree with him, though he has a point about a role-playing game in the literal sense of the term. What do you guys think about what he said? To you, what constitutes an RPG experience? Go!

Source- Strategy Informer

Great Moments in Video Game Music: Final Fantasy XIII – Blinded by the Light (Battle Theme)

Like I mentioned in the podcast, I am trying not to go crazy with Square Enix music, but give me a pass for this week. I was in love with this music before the game even came out and I have to say, 30 hours into this game, I never get tired of hearing this song. That’s pretty damn impressive, if you ask me. Enjoy:


GamerSushi Asks: Most Anticipated Titles?

I know we’ve asked this question a few times before, but that was before the bevy of games that we were blasted with over the last few months. Plus, I like polls, so shutup. They rule.

As we all know, the last few months for our hobby have kind of ruled pretty hard. I’m still in the throes of chugging through Final Fantasy XIII at the moment (50 hours in!), and I think I’m finally getting towards the end. And honestly, I can’t wait either, because then I’m going to hop into Splinter Cell: Conviction and the Halo: Reach beta next week like they stole something from me.

Anyway, I thought I’d take the time to ask what you guys are excited about that’s on the docket for 2010 or early 2011. What games are you still really looking forward to, now that a lot of the big ones are freshly out of the way? Vote and tell us what you think in the comments.

What is your most anticipated unreleased game?

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What’s Your Favorite Release This Year?

Today, Nick and I were chatting during Web Zeroes filming (or rather, after, while I was level grinding in Final Fantasy XIII), and we got to talking about how great of an opening 4 month stretch we’ve had so far in 2010. With some excellent releases, this could be maybe best first quarter I can remember in gaming.

There are any number of titles so far that can be game of the year candidates, and that’s not even mentioning some of the great games that will be coming out later in the year. Since our last poll was so successful, we thought we’d try our hands at another. So far, my favorite game of the year is Mass Effect 2, though Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and Final Fantasy XIII are the next two in line. I’ve never quite played another game like ME2, and I think it might stand as my game of the year when the year is said and done.

What is your favorite game of 2010 so far?

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Vote away, and chat about your answer in the comments.

Square Enix Looks to the Future

Well, here’s a new one for you. When people talk about the death of gaming platforms the PC usually comes up, but Square Enix is turning that notion on its ear. In a recent interview with MCV, Square Enix grand poobah Yoichi Wada said that the company believes there’s going to be dramatic change in the industry that will shift attention away from physical media and onto download and sever based content.

Mr. Wada went on to elaborate that “In ten years’ time a lot of what we call ‘console games’ won’t exist,” and that Microsoft and Sony are already ramping up for the big change and third-parties should follow suit if they want to stay in the game.

The reasoning behind his statement is that the games market is changing from a hardware-based model to a network one, where “any kind of terminal becomes a potential platform on which games can be played”. Mr. Wada said that Square Enix is ready for the change, and they’re already stepping up production on their social and browser based games.

While we are seeing movement in this direction with things like OnLive and the success of browser-based MMOs, I don’t think that consoles in the traditional sense are going anywhere. Besides, I think that Square should finish up with their current disc-based project before they move on to figuring out how to exploit the digital market. Wouldn’t want them to get tuckered out. What do you guys think? Is there any truth to Square’s claims, or is this just going to be a dead end for the company?

Source: MCV

Final Fantasy XIII Combat Walkthrough

Are you eagerly awaiting Final Fantasy XIII but still aren’t too clear on its new combat system? Here’s a nice little video out of Gamescom that gives a short and sweet overview of the fighting mechanics of the next Final Fantasy. The English localization is still being worked on, but I’d imagine that this game is (finally) close to being done.

I’ve never actually played a Final Fantasy game, so I’m excited to give this a whirl. Who else is going to sink their time into some J-RPG goodness?

GamerSushi Asks: Most Anticipated in 2009?

Well, as far as I know, we’re past most if not all of the major releases for this gaming season of 2008, and boy was it a memorable one. Left 4 Dead, Fallout 3, Prince of Persia, Bioshock, Little Big Planet, CoD: World at War, Mirror’s Edge, Saint’s Row 2, Gears of War 2, and then some, and still counting. While these games will keep us busy for a while, there is still more on the horizon…

So, that begs the question- now that these games are out, what are your most anticipated titles of next year? Anything on your radar that you’re just dying to play? It seems to me that there’s not quite as much to look forward to next year, though I’m interested in LotR: Conquest, Mass Effect 2, Final Fantasy XIII, Diablo III, Dragon Age and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. However, not all of those are even confirmed yet.

What are you looking forward to still? Answer away!

Who Needs Friends When You’ve Got Games Lists (And Games)?!

The holidays are upon us!  Ah, yes, it is that wonderful (and sad) time of the year when games ruin your social life and empty your bank account.  Don’t get me wrong, I for one am in favor of not having real friends!  This allows me time to visit my virtual friends, in their virtual worlds, with their virtual stuff.

Therefore, I have compiled a couple Top Ten Most Wanted Games lists for you, the viewing public.  When the complaints start piling up and my alleged friends yell at me because I didn’t get X done or failed to hang out with so and so, it will mostly like be the fault of one of these gems.

Continue reading Who Needs Friends When You’ve Got Games Lists (And Games)?!