Monday, October 17, 2011

A New Final Fantasy XIV

Some of you probably remember the disappointing release of Final Fantasy XIV. After it's release, many reviews scored the game very poorly, received a bad reputation, and worst of all, angered many fans of the franchise. During the previous weekend, CEO of SquareEnix, Yoichi Wada, announced that Final Fantasy XIV will be ending it's subscription before the end of the year and heading into a strong development period that will completely change the game.

 After the failed release of Final Fantasy XIV, many members on the development team that made the game either resigned or were switched with another employee. They had been re-working the game since, but only in small pieces. Soon, the game will be entering a very strong development period, as shown in the development chart in the link at the bottom. Many aspects of the game, such as the graphics, menu systems, communications, and many more will be revamped until everything is '2.0'. By 2013, Final Fantasy XIV will be quite different (and better, I hope) and the PS3 version will be released as 2.0.

 I've never played Final Fantasy XIV, nor it's father, Final Fantasy XI. Both are MMOs, and although I'm not particularly fond of the genre, I'm more than willing to try something that has Final Fantasy in the title. So once the PS3 version is released in 2013, I'll be sure to document what the game is like. Here's to hoping it'll be good!

Press release from Yoichi Wada on the Lodestone
FFXIV development roadmap

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Fantim Menace

See what I did there? With the title? No? Well, you will in a minute - as if you could read. Final Fantim is one person, (or possibly many - I'm watching you), who has taken up the task of  re-mastering the Final Fantasy VII OST. Of course, the collection is finished and available for download from the artist him/herself, (I'll provide a link at the bottom of this post). This re-mastering is very well done, with most pieces being recreated to not just sound like it's original version but to sound even better. And best of all, the whole thing is FREE.

 So what's the catch? "There is none". I don't believe you. "Just like you didn't believe that George Lucas would f*** up the Star Wars blu-ray trilogy?" Touche.

 Final Fantim has also remastered some tracks from Final Fantasy VI as well as one track from Final Fantasy IX. I have listened to all of his/her work many times over and it is, by far, the best re-mastering of the Final Fantasy VII OST out on the web, to my knowledge - and I know everything. "Really? Then what boxers am I wearing?" Clowns. "Creepy."

 The dude/dudette has really poured their heart and soul into this project. Similar to how I just spilled my coffee all over myself and my bedsheets. I LIKE TO TYPE AND DRINK IN BED, OKAY?!

Final Fantim's download page

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Cute Cloud with a Gun

Remember Stephen Hiscock, the artist who submitted some artwork? Yeah, the one with the OMFGDATISDASHIZ sketch of Bartz and his chocobo pal, Boco. Well, Steve is back with another sketch, and this time he drew a portrait of the Cloud Strife figure I showed off in the previous post. Steve decided to try a simpler approach to this sketch instead of a gritty one. Very well done Steve! Bravo! I can only hope to see more in the future.

Click image for a larger version.

 If any of you readers out there would like to see some of your fanwork up here, whether it be art, music, or writing, I'd be more than happy to give a shout-out to you in this blog. Just send your work to And if you want to see Stephen Hiscock's photography, click the link at the bottom of the entry for his Flickr page.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Un-boxing some Collectibles

 The other day, a friend of mine gave me two Final Fantasy figurines as gifts. The first figurine I show off is that of Terra from FFVI fame and the second Cloud Strife from the FFVII prequel, Crisis Core. Both of these collectibles are very nice and I'm quite happy to have these two entering my collection.

 Pretty much all of the details are in the video above, as well as the un-boxing of Terra and Cloud. Both were made by Trading/Play arts under Square Enix supervision and the production is pretty good, even more so for the Cloud figure. 

 The Terra statue cost about $20 and the Cloud figure was about $30, the latter being a great price considering Play Art figures generally cost somewhere between $45-$70.

 I usually don't end up getting many collectibles of this nature, so there won't be too many posts about figurines in the near future. 


 Enjoy this video and if you have questions or comments, post in the 'comments' section down below and I'll be sure to reply as quickly as possible!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

So this is Dissidia...

If you're a personal friend of mine, you may have heard me mention this game or have seen me play it. This is Dissidia Final Fantasy and it's a very good anthology of the series, so to speak. The characters (and villains) you know and love from Final Fantasy have clashed in this title of epic proportions. Currently, there are two iterations in this 'spin-off' series, but I'll be talking about the first one.

 In this video, I briefly talk about what the game is like and the battle that is taking place in the video. Here, I'll write a little more detail on Dissidia.

 Dissidia is an action-RPG-fighting game. The player can choose from a multitude of characters - a hero and villain representing each game in the series up to FFX. Yes, that means you can create battles between Cloud and Sephiroth, Terra and Jecht, and many more. Even though it's a fighter, it's actually very heavy with RPG elements - with the exception of exploration since there's no world to explore. There are at least a few modes included such as Story mode, Arcade, Versus, Duel Colosseum, and extras like the Museum which allows you to view information of characters. You can also watch and edit replays, which the outcome has spawned many fan videos on the internet. There's also a mode that allows you to battle wirelessly with your friends. I've only had the chance to experience this mode once but it was very fun!

 I remember when this game was first being launched, there was a lot of advertising for Dissidia. I saw many posters decorating game stores, TV commercials scanned into my eyeballs, and Square even released figurines of Dissidia as well as potion cans; each character having their face planted on said cans.

Well, that's really all I have to say about Dissidia. All that is left are the fond memories I have of playing this game. It piqued my interest in the Final Fantasy world as a whole, so the game is quite important to me. As I said in the video, it's a very addicting and entertaining game; I've played at least 100 hours. Dissidia has even served as a great way to blow off steam, whether it be taking a break from heavy work or taking a break from stress in general.

 If you have a PSP but have never tried Dissidia, I very much recommend it. It's a great entry in the series and it deserves my Seal of Approval.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The First of Many to Come

 Fighting plays an important role in every Final Fantasy game, whether it be fighting the armies of a totalitarian empire or a protagonist fighting conflicting emotions. Nearly each entry in the main series begins headfirst into a scripted battle (read: not randomized), and this 'first battle' may or may not have some significance to the plot. I'll be looking over and commenting on the first encounter of each Final Fantasy, so grab your swords, shields, and gunblades as we look at the first steps of each journey.

"I will knock you all down!"
 In the first Final Fantasy, there really wasn't a 'first battle' that threw the player into the action right away. No, instead you'd have the choice of entering the city of Cornelia for the first time or surveying the surrounding landscape, (but the prior choice is a smart one). One could argue that the first battle is either a random encounter (most likely with IMPS) or the first encounter with Garland in the Temple of Chaos. I like to think it's the latter since it's more significant and the actions the player makes before fighting Garland (exploring Cornelia, buying equipment, grinding, etc.) act as a buildup to that moment. This beginning contrasts to later entries in the series; buildups to the first encounter are instead evoked through opening cut-scenes.

Where's the suicide option?!
 Final Fantasy II is one of the least played Final Fantasy games, so I'll go over the premise. The main characters of FFII are Firion, Maria, Guy, and Leon, all of whom are friends and live in a peaceful village. One day, the village is overrun by the Empire's forces and the four young ones are forced to flee. As they were making their way to the forest, they were ambushed by four knights, and this is where the first encounter (and the first scripted battle in the series, to my knowledge) comes in. The player controls all four characters and can choose what to do, although running from the battle is hopeless. Even more hopeless, though, is winning the battle. One is forced to do battle against Knights from the Empire, who are late game enemies, using four very weak characters. The first battle creates a sense of hopelessness that is evoked many times throughout the game by characters such as Princess Hilda and Gordon. It also depicts just how evil and powerful the Empire is; even killing innocents to take power.

 Final Fantasy III is one of the most magical in the series, in my opinion. The player takes control of four kids who are playing 'onion knight' in a cave just outside their home village of Ur. Out of nowhere, an earthquake shatters the ground beneath their feet and they fall further into the cave. This is where the game begins; putting the player into their first battle against three goblins. This was actually a little different in the DS version of FFIII, since the four party members were given their own names, plots, and character attributes. The player starts with one character, Luneth, and is forced to face off against a single goblin. Or was it three?

 We now exit the 8-bit era and enter glorious 16-bitness. Final Fantasy IV was the first in the Super Famicom trilogy, (and was what launched Nobuo Uematsu's career to stardom, arguably). The first battle in FFIV is a scripted one, similar to the first in FFII but this time you don't have to die! No, in fact, the player will always win. The battle is actually a set of encounters; the first being a battle against three Arimans, and the second against a Zu. Like I said, they're scripted so there's no control for the player but thinking back to 1991, these battles were probably meant to emphasize the graphical capabilities of the Super Nintendo.

 Final Fantasy V holds a special place for me, although it's one of the least played titles in the series. After a cutscene or two, we see the hero of the game, Bartz, for the first time. He's camping out in a forest with his chocobo pal, Boco, when they hear a meteor crash-land nearby. When they check it out, they see a pair of goblins ready to take away another party member, Lenna. Bartz heroically jumps in to chase the goblins down, prompting the first battle of the game. Once the battle is won, Lenna is saved and so begins the journey of a world... maybe three.

 Final Fantasy VI (although some of you older folk may remember this classic as FFIII on the Super Nintendo) is nostalgic game for many people. If you were an advent Super Nintendo gamer, you may remember the opening scene; an unnamed, minted-hair girl accompanied by two soldiers who are all using mech-suits called Magitek armor. With these suits in possession, they storm the village of Narshe. The first battle shows '???',(aka Terra/Tina), being ambushed by two Resistance fighters, although the battle is actually against two wolves. This opening scene plays an important role in setting the tone and atmosphere of the game.

 Well, we got through the first six Final Fantasies. In a later post, I'll talk about the other games in the series, up until XIII. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Fan artwork!

So my good friend Stephen Hiscock is currently on a drawing frenzy and he's an artist who has unique ways of illustrating his ideas. The picture below is a drawing I requested and it's his own interpretation of the cover of Final Fantasy V. I'll include a link at the bottom if you would like to see Steve's photography ala his Flickr account.
Click the image for a larger version

The original cover of FFV for comparison.

This is such an awesome drawing. It really emphasizes Bartz's determination to rid the world of Exdeath. And y'know what? Steve drew this in 30 minutes. He has put a huge amount of detail and emphasis into the caricature of Bartz. The drawn chocobo is an intereptation that reminds me of the concept art of the chocobo during development of Final Fantasy II.