Friday, September 30, 2011

From The Other Side of The World

NOTE: For some of you, the video may be looking very 'shaky', where even the text is moving around. This may have been because I clicked the 'stabilize' option for the video. Click the link for a more static video!!

Hey folks! Onion Knight here and I'm bringing you a little vlog I did for the Grove. Although I'm not sure if I can call it a vlog. Maybe an educational video?

 I decided the other night, (after many cups of coffee and being deprived of much needed sleep), that I wanted to show off my Final Fantasy collection. Unfortunately, I don't have much technology to work with. The video was recorded with my camera phone (5.0 Megapixels), so the volume of my voice didn't come out very loud, (you may need to turn up the volume).Once I can get access to a better camera, I'll hook up another vlog.

 In this first vlog, I show three Final Fantasy games that were released for the Super Famicom (that's Japanese for Super Nintendo): Final Fantasy IV, V, and VI. I also show off the console for a bit, too.

So, watch the video and just enjoy! Remember to leave any comments on the page, and follow and share my blog too!

Remember: It may say Final in the title, but this Fantasy is never over.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Music from the fans

 Music is an important part of every person's life - we hear it, feel it, want it and need it. Music is a language that tells many stories; a language so beautiful that sometimes it can't be expressed in words. Final Fantasy games tell great stories and parts of those stories are written by the composer's music. Nobuo Uematsu is the musician behind most of the franchise's tracks and his work has become some of the most recognized in the world.

 This is my first post about the music of Final Fantasy and I'm glad to be bringing up this specific topic: piano covers. With access to Youtube, Final Fantasy fans all over the world can share their renditions of musical pieces and enjoy another's. I have listened to many renditions and today, I'm sharing what I think are some the best piano covers on Youtube.


 This is the Theme of Love from Final Fantasy IV. This is actually a cover of the Piano Collections, (more on that in a bit), and it's a peice that has made Uematsu pretty famous, since this particular song is taught to school children in Japan as part of their music curricula. The Theme of Love plays in IV during the scenes that involve Cecil and Rosa; lovers who are separated and reunited many times throughout the game. 

 This a good cover of "The Coin Song", although this piece is also known as Edgar's theme. Edgar, the twin brother of Sabin and prince of his own kingdom, is a man who places his fate on the toss of a coin. Edgar is also a character with a sad side, probably as a result to his recklessness of 'fate-tossing'. Maybe that's why it's usually called the coin song.
 Here's a piece that's a little more exciting. Like the previous tune, this one has two names. "Clash on the Bridge", (although I've also heard "Battle on the Big Bridge"), and Gilgamesh's Theme. To my knowledge, this song plays during the attack on a bridge that leads to Exdeath's castle in Final Fantasy V.

 For those of you who don't know, Gilgamesh is a recurring character throughout the Final Fantasy series. V is his first appearance, and he acted as Exdeath's 'righthand man' while defending the Big Bridge.

 Okay, admit it. This person is amazing when it comes to playing the piano. Wait, person? More like God! I don't think I've seen hands as fast as those! (That's what she said). Anyways, this is the battle theme from Final Fantasy VII and once again, it's from the piano collections. In my opinion, this is (still) one of the best battle themes in the series, and this pianist plays it marvelously. 

 Once again, another fine example of a great piano cover. This one is You're Not Alone from Final Fantasy IX. The ninth game is still one of the most underrated games in the series, and this piece strengthens what I'm saying. I can't exactly remember when this song played in the game but I'm sure it had something to do with Zidane... or maybe it was Amarant?

 I lazed on the next three songs, because they're all from Final Fantasy X! To Zanarkand is just one of best songs I've ever listened to. Seriously, listen to it. Bring a tissue with you too. For most people, this one hits where it hurts, (the tear ducts). The song is a story about a young man and woman; both learning the values of sacrifice through love and loss. So please, listen to this story...

 This is a great piece. Seriously Nobuo, what's your secret? How does the man do it?! Well, maybe if I keep sending him enough letters every week, he'll tell me once he's become annoyed. But for now, I'll just bask in his creation. This particular song plays when Yuna and the gang become trapped within the Via Purifico. Too bad you only hear it once in the game.

The final one I'm presenting is a personal favorite of mine: Besaid Island. This song plays when Tidus and Wakka are running around Besaid Island. I listen to this tune all the time. The young lady playing the piano also puts off a spectacular performance. Bravo! 

I forgot to mention, these last three pieces are from the piano collections as well. The piano collections are Final Fantasy tunes re-imagined for the piano; most have added parts to them and the songs themselves become longer and more complex to play. Nearly all of the collections were arranged by Uematsu himself, but I believe Masashi Hamauzu has also had a hand.

Well I'm glad you read today's entry, and I hope you enjoyed the music! Sayounara!

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Remake of a Dream

 You've probably already heard the news about Final Fantasy X by now. The 10 year old PS2 game is getting the HD treatment for the PS3 and PS Vita, but it may be more than your typical high-definition update.

Think he can sing Suteki Da Ne well?
 SquareEnix gave the announcement at the Tokyo Game Show last week and apparently, Final Fantasy X is getting good treatment. Not only will the game be updated to HD, but the models and textures are getting a face-lift as well. That's really good since the graphics in X haven't aged all that well and it really could use the treatment.

 Although some fans are a little upset that VII is not getting the remake treatment, many people are happy with the choice - including myself. Final Fantasy X is one my favorites in the long-running franchise and I'll definitely be getting this game the day it's released. I must say, however, that I am surprised X is getting the HD treatment. Square is known for remaking their older titles, up to VI. People were actually expecting announcements of remakes for V and VI for the 3DS but instead we got X. (You'd think they'd go in order, eh?)

 Either way you look at it, this is an exciting announcement and I'll be looking forward to any more updates on the Final Fantasy X remake. Here's hoping that getting the Celestial weapons won't be so tough this time around!

Happy Almost-Anniversary Final Fantasy X! (The game came out in December here in North America.)

Final Fantasy X wikipedia article
Tokyo Game Show FFX HD Remake article

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Dissida, anyone?

Hey folks! I've got time to write another article since I'm waiting for my socks to dry. Today, I want to mention a couple of Final Fantasy games that were recently shown at the Tokyo Games Show that just ended a day ago. 

 I certainly hope you've been keeping up with the TGS, since a lot of great games and new features were shown. Just to name a couple of things, the upcoming Zelda: Skyward Sword showed a new gameplay feature involving equipment upgrades while the next Fire Emblem for the 3DS will play similar to the 3D console Fire Emblems, Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn. But, back to the topic of discussion!

 So, two new Final Fantasy games were shown; both for the 3DS. The first is Final Fantasy Theatrytyt... Theratrytuhm... Thea... t... dfghjkljskkdfh. THEATRHYTHM.

Ahem. So this new Final Fantasy game is a rhythm based game, and the gameplay is very similar of the zany Elite Beat Agents. It sports a cute art style and music tracks ranging from many games in the main series. Characters from nearly every Final Fantasy game are also involved, such as Lightning from Final Fantasy XIII and the Warrior of Light from the NES original. It's an interesting genre for Square to explore and it just goes to show that the developers are willing to be creative and try new genres, even if it doesn't seem fitting at first.

 The second game, which I believe is being developed by the same team that remade Final Fantasy III and IV for the DS, is called Bravely Default. This game seems somewhat reminiscent of another game they created called the 4 Heroes of Light. Not much is known, yet, but if I come across anything interesting I'll make sure to post it. Considering the development team, the game should turn out to be pretty good.

 Both games are for the 3DS, so if you're looking for an FF game, you've got a choice of a title that seems fairly laid back and another that is heavily RPG turn-based. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The mythical FEOK

 If you've never played the original version of Final Fantasy III, then you're probably scratching your head as to what this acronym stands for. It is considered the worst, yet the best job (read: class) in the game. FEOK stands for Fully Equipped Onion Knight. 

 If you've played the DS version of Final Fantasy III, then you may have seen the secret class known as the Onion Knight. In that version of the game, it is the best job, albeit the difficulty to obtain it and level it up. But this is not an FEOK. Fully Equipped Onion Knights only appear in the NES/Famicom version of the game due to how the Onion Knight is presented. You begin the adventure immediately with four nameless Onion Knights. If you were to compare stats of the Onion Knight to other classes, it's the worst and training this job can be very difficult and tedious. 

 The difference between an FEOK and a regular Onion Knight are their equipment. If you equip the Onion Knight with a specific set, called the Onion equipment, then it will become an FEOK, as the FF community has coined it. This FEOK is godly powerful and will destroy anything in its path without difficulty. In my experience, I've used only one FEOK and I managed to defeat the final boss with just that one character... at level 45... in three rounds! It's certainly impressive but the downside is the method to obtain the set.

 In the final dungeon, the Crystal Tower, there are these dragons that randomly appear. Killing them may sometimes reward you with a piece of the Onion equipment. This is really hard to do as the chances of finding the dragons are rare but even rarer are the dragons dropping the items you want. There is another method, however. A glitch was found (no, not the one with the Old Man and using surf along the shore of some island) which, when activated, would upgrade the item in a specific position in your inventory. For example, say I put an iron sword in x spot in my inventory, and then activated the glitch, the sword would upgrade to steel. Same goes for armor and even items, such as potions and gyshal greens. I won't go into specifics since I'll just leave the gamefaqs guide at the bottom, but this process, although seems easy enough, can take many hours to get a full set of Onion equipment. I believe it took me about 8 hours to get one full set, so if I wanted to get all 4 sets, then that would have taken 4 times as long! "Hey! This isn't first-grade math class!"

 So if you ever get your hands on this game and decide to go through but don't want any difficulty, or you want to totally obliterate everything, then try this out!

Have a drink!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Son of a Submariner!

Welcome to the Final Fantasy Grove! This is your writer, The Onion Knight, and this is my first post on this blog. Assuming you've read the title elsewhere before, (that's right, you've guessed it), today's article will be in honor of none other than the infamous Square translator, Ted Woolsey.

 For those of you who don't know, Ted Woolsey is currently the Director of First Party Publishing for the XBOX Live Arcade service but Final Fantasy fans will know him better as the guy who translated and localized many of Square's games during the 16-bit era. He translated titles such as Final Fantasy III (FF VI in Japan), Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana, Super Mario RPG, and many more. Ted is also credited with working with companies such as Craveyard and RealNetworks online gaming service.

 So how did Mr. Woolsey become so famous in the Square community? After the mangled translation of Final Fantasy II on the SNES, Woolsey's translation of Final Fantasy VI was a masterpiece in comparison. He wrote colorful, and often witty, dialogue that really colored the characters differently than their Japanese versions. Although his translations of many games are sometimes not well-received by many fans in the RPG community, I for one very much enjoy his work, often referred to as 'Woolseyisms".

 So how did it all start for Ted? Well, according to an interview with Ted Woolsey done by the Player One Podcast, (a podcast hosted by writers of former EGM), Ted had just earned his masters degree in Japanese Literature at the University of Washington and was looking for work in the Redmond area. He was quickly hired by Squaresoft and his first assignment was to play through the English version of Final Fantasy II on the SNES, so he could learn from what mistakes were made. Soon, Ted got to work on his first game, which was Final Fantasy Legends III on the Game Boy. Eventually, he would go on to translate Final Fantasy III, Chrono Trigger, Breath of Fire, Super Mario RPG, Final Fantasy Mystic Quest (a game that Ted himself got to direct and script), Secret of Mana, and a bunch more I can't remember right now.

 Ted was usually given around 30 days to translate a game (on average, he would have to translate about 1500 pages of text), while being flown into Japan to work on the game there so he could have direct contact with his employers. This was just one of the few challenges Ted had to face as a translator. During that time in Japan, games were really seen as a kid's toy, but Ted saw otherwise. He realized these kinds of games were really artful objects meant for adults, and it was this understanding that fueled Ted to localize Square's games in an interesting and colorful fashion; one that would bring the quality of localization to a whole new level.

 Ted would eventually leave Square just before the localization of Final Fantasy VII, since Square was moving their headquarters in North America from Washington to Los Angeles. Ted then signed up with games-developer Big Rain, which then was bought-out by Craveyard entertainment. There, Woolsey worked on one game - an RPG called Shadow Madness for the PlayStation, (more on that in a future article). Ted soon left the bankrupt company and then signed up for RealNetworks gaming where he would work for a handful of years, until he was hired by Microsoft.

 Ted Woolsey is without a doubt a legend in the FF community and a pioneer of video game localization. He wrote scripts that were cherished and became memorable, and at the same time brought different perspectives onto the video games he translated.

Here is the podcast interview done by Player One podcast.
Ted Woolsey's brief bio on the FF Wiki