Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sheep in a world of wolves; Ad #8

It's been a few days folks, but I am back once again! Today is our eighth commercial and while our look at Final Fantasy V commercials were somewhat lacking, the next three commercials for Final Fantasy VI are quite unique. The commercial I have for you today is another personal favorite of mine, and I'm glad to finally talk about this one. So what are we waiting for? Let's delve right in!

Wow, now that's what I call a commercial! Beautiful actress possibly portraying Terra (Tina in Japanese)? Check. Gameplay footage? Check. Classic Final Fantasy nostalgia? Major check! This commercial really hit all the chords for me. From the music to the editing of gameplay and appropriate Tina actress, it's quite well done. So what's the commercial about? Well, it just seems to be Tina standing in the wind, (maybe she's thinking about her adventure?), as scenes from the video game itself play in and out during the advertisement.  Is the game represented well? I think so! The game is advertised well, since not only do we have gameplay but Tina is prominently displayed. Her expressions are important, as well as the dreary setting of the commercial. Tina looks sad in this video; maybe even depressed, which I think is symbolized by the background, (grey clouds; a moody, stormy atmosphere). Final Fantasy VI is not a 'cheery' game, (it does have its comical moments, though), and in fact, many scenes are quite despondent and tragic.

 The music is very fitting, I think. The title of the song is "Roaming Sheep" and it's actually from Final Fantasy III. The title is very appropriate for the game, because it effectively describes the characters and the setting in two words. The characters in the party of FFVI could be viewed as 'roaming sheep', because many times throughout the story, the characters are constantly separated and re-grouped, usually making them vulnerable in a dangerous and dark world - similar to a herd of sheep in a world of wolves.

NOTE: The video below is the track played in the commercial, "Roaming Sheep", which is from Final Fantasy III on the Famicom.

Overall, I really like this commercial! It fits the game quite well and it gives me the energy to want to play Final Fantasy VI again. Great commercial for a great game. I give this one an 8/10.

This is the Onion Knight signing off. Have a good day!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Are these gems? Or just rocks?

Greetings readers! This is your adventurous writer, the Onion Knight! This is the seventh installment in our look at Final Fantasy commercials. Today's post is going to be a little special because not only will we be looking at two commercials, I also had to dig deep into the depths of "YouTube Hell" to find these hidden gems.

 These commercials, like the previous post, centre around a chocobo. The exuberant bird runs around a hole  placed in the ground as monsters, (presumably from FF V), jump out of the hole; monsters such as Iron Giants and Bombs. Nothing else can be described since that is all that happens.

 Do both of these commercials represent the product well? They certainly represent the series, but the commercials themselves are not very interesting nor exciting. In fact, these commercials remind me of those cheesy toy or children's show advertisements you would normally find on a Saturday morning. Still, the commercials do present the game as a Final Fantasy game; a statement that holds weight when compared to earlier commercials we've looked at thus far.

I don't really have much to say on these two, since not much happens and there's not enough substance to really dig into. At least, not from what I can see. Overall, these commercials are mediocre and slightly hint in the beginning that the game being advertised is specifically Final Fantasy V. The only connection I can make is the chocobo - since chocobos (Remember Bartz's pet chocobo, Boco?) are prominent in FF V more so than any other Final Fantasy title before it.

 So here is my question: why are both of these commercials so similar and how are they different?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Of Chocobos and Ostriches - Ad #6

 Welcome to the Grove folks! I am your illustrious writer, the Onion Knight, and today is our sixth commercial. Last time, we travelled to Europe and discovered that, sometimes, a Final Fantasy commercial is actually a Zelda commercial. Now we have left our European friends and return to the land of Japan. Today, we'll be looking at a Japanese commercial for Final Fantasy IV on the Super Famicom. If you thought the English ad for Final Fantasy II on the Super Nintendo was weird, this next commercial blows the competition out of the water - in terms of strangeness.

 The first thing you'll notice (I hope you notice) is that the commercial has the chocobo theme playing in the background. Nice! It's such a classic theme and it fits the outlandish mood perfectly. Next, an ostrich, (an ostrich?! NOW I've seen everything), runs along a beach while a person laughs in the background. Wait, what?

What... just happened?

Why is the chocobo theme... ostrich... choco- OH! I see what Square did there. Clever!

The chocobo, of course, is an animal in the Final Fantasy world based upon a real bird: the ostrich. So they used an ostrich to represent the chocobo in the commercial, thus the theme. Well, the theme makes more sense than ever!

This is what a typical chocobo looks like in FFIV.
 Overall, the commercial is good and I personally like this one. It's something only Final Fantasy fans will understand, while others will become perplexed, which usually leads to interest of the game - advertised as Final Fantasy IV for the Super Famicom.

 I still don't understand why someone's laughing.

This has been the Onion Knight. Have a good day!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Nein! Nein! Nein! NEIN! - Ad #5

Hello readers! Welcome back to the Final Fantasy Grove. I am your writer, the Onion Knight, and today we are looking at our fifth commercial! Gee, is it really day #5 already? Time just flies, doesn't it? Any German speakers in the house? I've managed to find an interesting television snippet that comes from the far-off land of Germany! This is a commercial for the Game Boy game, Mystic Quest. This is not to be confused with the Super Nintendo game of the same title. The Mystic Quest seen here is actually Final Fantasy Adventure; the game was simply re-named in Europe. Although, everything is not all that looks, and today's post will discuss an element of controversy.

 Of course, the commercial has German audio, not English. The ad starts with a scruffy, curly-haired man, (Richard Simmons?!), climbing a cliff face. When he reaches the top, he runs toward a sword as lighting rains all around him. He pulls out the sword and lifts it into the air, and the commercial cuts to that of the Game Boy, and the title, Mystic Quest, is displayed. So where does the controversy come into play here?

 After viewing the ad, I began reading the YouTube comments. Even though they were all in German, (a language I do not understand very well), one comment caught my interest:

 "OMG! Das Schwert ist aus Zelda! Wie peinlich :-)
Aber das SPiel ist trotzdem eines meiner Lieblingen"
Final Fantasy Adventure in Europe
Notice that I highlighted the word Zelda. Being a video game commercial, I immediately thought of the Legend of Zelda franchise. I was a little confused, so I replayed the commercial and that's when I noticed it - the sword. What's so special about it? I knew I had seen the sword somewhere before, because it's the exact same sword seen on the cover of Zelda: Link's Awakening. To throw further in further speculation, the Triforce symbol (an important icon in the Zelda series) is on the sword. Readers, do you know what this means? It means that this commercial was originally an ad for a Zelda game, not a Final Fantasy game. Therefore, the game is (somewhat) falsely advertised. The only 'relatable' Final Fantasy element is the sword, which is false itself since it's clearly a sword from the Zelda series.
 I don't really have much else to say about this one. It's not actually a Final Fantasy commercial, so the only thing discussable is the illegitimacy. Tomorrow, we'll have a true Final Fantasy commercial for sure.

This has been the Onion Knight. Have a good day!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The 90s and guitars; Ad #4

Hello readers, this is the Onion Knight and I'm back with another commercial. As we step out of the era of the 8-bit years, new paths are ventured into the world of 16-bit: the Super Nintendo, and its Japanese counterpart, the Super Famicom. I've got an exciting commercial to analyze today as we look at the first Final Fantasy on the Super Nintendo, the 'radness of the 90s' and that early American video game commercials can be just as silly when compared to Japanese ads.

 So let's get down to the grit. As with every other commercial, does this advertisement represent the game well? Woah, first and foremost, before we do begin our analysis, I should remind you readers out there that while the game in the commercial is titled "Final Fantasy II", it is actually Final Fantasy IV. Let me explain that statement. After the success of the first Final Fantasy in North America, Square wanted to release more of their games. By the time Final Fantasy was released, however, the next two installments in the series were already released in Japan, and FF IV was already on the way. Since RPGs were very much a niche genre in North America, Square decided it would be wise to skip on porting FF II and III to their American friends, and instead ported FF IV next. Final Fantasy was the only one brought over, thus Final Fantasy IV was re-named Final Fantasy II in North America.

 So, back with the analysis. To answer the question, we'll have to look at several aspects of the commercial, and let's keep in mind the time period Final Fantasy II was released, (man, I'm old).

 A teenage boy is shown playing Final Fantasy II on his Super Nintendo, (why does it look he has a lunch table in his bedroom?), and his father is outside the bedroom window trying to beckon his son to go outside, (probably to rake leaves). Instead of doing what a son should be doing, he ignores his parent and continues to play the game for what seems to be several months without stopping, (apparently FFII was the World of Warcraft in the early 90s). To quote a YouTube commenter, "...[he] makes it look cool to piss his life away".

The SNES box for Final Fantasy II.
 Since we've hit our first American commercial, I'd like to comment on the setting of the ad. Ignoring the lunch table, the commercial has a strong influence of typical 90s attributes. Remember how dinosaurs were the thing for kids back then? No? (I'M SO OLD). Well, just stop the commercial to pinpoint all the things in the room, and suck in that nostalgia if you can. We've also got colors that were quite characteristic of the time, such as the intense pink, or 'radical', colors. Even the sky is a really intense plethora of brightness. Does this family live in some alternate dimension?

From what I've seen, I think the advertisement does an alright job of representing the game. It's a little short on the Final Fantasy eeriness that was displayed in some Japanese commercials. I mean, it's just some kid playing Final Fantasy in his bedroom. That's not an adventure! An adventure in the world of Final Fantasy is flying on airships and riding chocobos and saving the world from monsters hell-bent on the destruction of the planet.

 All in all, I do like this commercial but just for its ridiculousness. The kid 'pissing' his life away, his creeper Dad who, after some tragic accident, can only speak in guitar whines, and the fact it took the kid somewhere between 4-8 months to beat a 25 hour video game. If I were to rate this one, I think I'd give it a 5.5/10 - a barely passable commercial.

This is the Onion Knight signing off. Have a good day!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Dark Clouds and Atmosphere; Ad #3

 Hey guys, how's it goin'? Onion Knight here and this is the third day in our commercial extravaganza! Yesterday, we looked at an odd (and unexciting) advertisement for Final Fantasy II. Today, we'll talk about a Japanese commercial for Final Fantasy III. This will be the last 8-bit commercial I'll be looking at, which saddens me because I love talking about the older Final Fantasy's. O, but alas, thou must move on.

 This commercial for Final Fantasy III is interesting, although I can think of one word that effectively summarizes this ad: nice. Why do I say that? That's really all it is. It's nice, but let's move on, pick this commercial into pieces, and see if we can find anything in the deep.

FFIII art cover of the box
 The advertisement starts off with a somewhat spooky, but mostly mysterious atmosphere. What the viewers, us, see are rock pillars jutting out above dark clouds, (I would say that could be a reference to the Cloud of Darkness but I'm just looking too much into it). Next, what looks like TV screens manifest onto the rock faces while bolts of lightning shower the pillars. Well, this is something! Certainly a lot better than the FFII commercial we looked at yesterday. "Okay commercial, you've got my interest!" Then, a crystal forms from the lighting storm among the clouds in the sky and another television screen begins to emerge from said crystal. The TV screen separates from the crystal and it then begins to... rotate? Yeah, the crystal TV (Crystal TV? Now I've seen everything) is actually a cube formed of multiple television screens, each showing a different gameplay element from Final Fantasy III. Well that's awesome!

 The atmosphere is really nice. As I mentioned earlier, the setting is quite mysterious and keep in mind the clouds - as clouds were a very important element in the setting of the game. Now that I think about it, the clouds probably represent the dark cloud cover that enveloped most of the world, which is discovered after the characters have left the Floating Continent.

 Once again, like previous posts, I want to comment on the music. Here, they use the Prelude theme. This theme is great, and once again it's the arranged version! It's also the only piece that plays in the commercial, unlike the first commercial we looked at where the prelude theme was cut short by the Main theme. Well done!

Artwork of FFIII; Yoshitaka Amano. Note the prominence of clouds.
 Overall, the commercial is good and caught my interest from the beginning. I really like this one, although not as much as the FF I&II ad. Speaking of which, at the end our extravaganza, I'll probably list my top 3 commercials and I'll explain why I chose them.

 I hope you liked today's commercial! Have a good day!
 Onion Knight out.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Coders are celebrities too!

New day, new commercial! Welcome back to the Grove folks. I am your exuberant host, The Onion Knight, and today we are looking at our second commercial in this advertisement fiesta. Last time, we looked at a commercial for Final Fantasy I & II, and since I couldn't find any ads for the first Final Fantasy, we'll be analyzing a somewhat different and unique commercial for the second title.

 Final Fantasy II was released in 1988 and this was probably the first TV ad for a Final Fantasy. Keep in mind that the quality of the YouTube video is very low, (perhaps suggesting just how rare and old this ad is), and that the real purpose is to analyze the commercial itself.

 Of course, it's all about Final Fantasy II. But what does the commercial tell us about this game? The first thing we see are Square employees coding the game. This is such a strange way of advertising the game, and it might not be an effective strategy marketing idea in today's world. Showing the developers themselves coding and creating the game? Weird, different, and unique is all I can really say about that. Advertising the names of the people who were behind these games was apparently a popular thing to do during this time, however, this method must have been cut short since I haven't see this kind of stuff after Final Fantasy III.

Look at the bottom of the box here. Notice that the creators' names are presented, even the programmer.
So is there anything about this commercial that speaks Final Fantasy? Well, we have the battle theme from the game playing throughout the commercial, and some of Amano's artwork is even shown throughout; the first being Leon, the next Minwu, then Maria, a boss character(whose name I'm forgetting at the moment), and finally Firion. So we've got developers, artwork, and music, but what's my opinion?

 Although the commercial is different from anything I've seen, it's anything but exciting and not much information is given in the commercial. Although the developers are shown, we don't know their names or who they are, and nothing is explained about the game at all. All I can gather is that it's for the Famicom, it has artwork, music, and people are making it. That being said, the commercial is still a rare find and something worth noting.

Tomorrow, we'll finish up the last commercial for an 8-bit Final Fantasy, (unless if I come across any more for the Famicom/NES, or any for the Game Boy FFs).

Have a good day, folks!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Welcome Back and Commercials!

Hey everyone! I, the Onion Knight, your Final Fantasy Grove writer, hath returned from thou's ever-so long writing hiatus. I sure hope everyone enjoyed their holidays, because I sure did! I even got some interesting Final Fantasy stuff that I'll have to blog about another day. Since I haven't posted in quite some time, I've decided to blog on commercials advertising Final Fantasy. We'll explore and analyze commercials from the early 80's (mostly Japanese ads) right up to the present. Of course, it won't be only Japanese commercials, but other regions such as North American and European, (if I can find them). All of the commercials will be embedded from YouTube and I will be posting a commercial every day until I've run out of any left to find.

 Today, I'm posting one of my favorite Final Fantasy commercials; a short but great ad. The commercial advertises Final Fantasy I & II, which was a 'compilation' cartridge released on the Famicom during it's later years of retail. The newer version of the Famicom, (also known as the version with the 'dog-bone' controllers), is also advertised at the end of the commercial. With each commercial I analyze, I'll ask one pertinent question: how well does the advertisement represent the product?
Note: the characters are from FFI while the chocobo is from FFII.

 Well, let's look at the visual representation first. Does it look like Final Fantasy? Heck yes. The artistic style, such as the clouds, mountains, and the actors' costumes, all look like some work of Yoshitaka Amano. The airship seen here, (which is a staple in the Final Fantasy games, I should add), seems to be deriven from the artwork seen in the guide released by Nintendo Power for the original Final Fantasy, although that artwork most likely originated from the development team at Square HQ in Japan. Judging from the look of the commercial, it would seem that it's mostly advertising Final Fantasy, not II. The characters seen here do not have similar appearances to characters in FFII, who were Firion, Maria, Guy, and Leon. Although, this is fair since Final Fantasy was probably more popular than the second installment and thus it would be wiser to fully advertise that game. I really like the look of this commercial; it 'oozes' Final Fantasy and seeing the characters riding on an airship into such an inspiring setting spurs me to play Final Fantasy again.
The AV Famicom, aka dog-bone.

 Just as important with anything Final Fantasy related is the subject of music. What are the sounds like in the commercial?  Are they relatable to Final Fantasy? They sure are! There are two peices that play in the commercial: the first one is an arranged version of the prelude, and then halfway through the commercial, the main theme kicks in. The prelude fits the mood and setting of the commercial perfectly, and personally I wish it lasted a little longer. The main theme comes in somewhat abruptly, although it would only be inexcusable to not put in the main theme in there somewhere. Overall, the music of choice is very good. And did you notice that the airship makes 'wooshing' sounds? Nice touch!

Like I said, this one stands as one of my favorite commercials and I JUST CAN'T FREAKIN' WAIT TO PLAY FINAL FANTASY! But I will pose one last question to you folks: who's flying the airship?

Happy New Years!