Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas break

Just FYI, I'm going to be off until after New Years.  I will pick up then.

Please comment with any topics you want to see me tackle when I return!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Level Analysis - Final Fantasy VI opening

Today is the first day of Winter, so I wanted to showcase one of the best winter levels.

The Final Fantasy VI opening
I know, I know, you don't play there.  But it's a simply beautiful level to look at with the music playing.  the side view is generally unheard of in the game's context, and the level doesn't actually loop. Instead you get closer and closer to the goal of the city (which you can see twinkling in the distance).

It doesn't seem so now, but in the age of the SNES, this was VERY impressive.  It's impressive now, in our age of CG and orchestrated sounds. This was, and still is, very amazing.

And, visually, it's done very simply.  It's a simple perspective change that pulls us into the story, gives us back story, introduces us to our heroine, introduces or villain (No, really, Kefka shows up briefly)  and really pulls us into the world. 

It makes you care about this world, one that I hope Square revisits at some point. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Kingdom Hearts 3D

It's very fitting that a trailer for a game that takes place in a dream is as trippy as this trailer is.  No, really, I've been following Kingdom Hearts for a while and I have NO IDEA what is going on besides the basic set up.  (Namely, that Sora and Riku are completing their Mark of Master exam.  This was the letter in KH2, and we've seen the Mark of Master exam in Kingdom Hearts: BBS.)

(Spoilers for the other KH games ahead)

It is interesting though, many scenes in this trailer are relating back to the side or filler games.  The Mark of Mastery exam, as stated before, was in Birth By Sleep.  Vanitas (Evil Sora) and Master Xehanort (the old creepy guy) are also in Birth By Sleep. The black haired Kairi is actually Xion who is one of the main characters of Kingdom Hearts 358/2... until it was revealed she was actually a Replica and was drawing power from both Roxas and Sora so she tricked Roxas into killing her so she could return to Sora, erasing everyone's memories of her in the process)  The the Somebodies in the trailer (Ienzo, Aeleus, and Lea) originally debuted as Nobodies in Kingdom Hearts:Chain of Memories.  Namine also debuted there. (She's the blond Kairi in the white dress) And there is suspicion the other Riku is a "Data Riku" from Kingdom Hearts: Re:coded.  (I haven't played Re:Coded so I can't judge)

But what is interesting is various scenes have been remixed, especially from Kingdom Hearts 2.  The famous Roxas/Axel battle is now in CG. 
But on the other hand, Roxas NEVER fought against Xemnas and Sora and Riku have yet to face Master Xehanort.  While it could be a nod to how Sora harbors Ven (who is in Roxas... it's a bit confusing) and Riku was possessed by Ansem:Seeker of Darkness who is actually a form of Terra (Yeah, that's confusing too)  but who really knows at this point.

And THEN there is that young form of Xehanort hanging around which has something to do with Vanitas which makes no sense at all since we've never seen a Xehanort THAT young and while Master Xehanort created Vanitas and semi raised him, they've never had a spiritual connection like the rest of the groups.

THEN there is "The World Ends With You" crew.  While the Kingdom Hearts games have included Square Enix Cameos before (Cloud and Zack are minor plotpoints in the Olympus Colosseum worlds) they're usually a bit more varied.  (While Final Fantasy 7 easily has the most characters, they share the sage with Final Fantasy 6, 8, 9, and 10(-2).)  But so far, almost the entire cast of TWEWY has shown up, and all in one world.  It's rather odd, even for an admitted marketing ploy.  (SE has admitted that they want to make a TWEWY sequel, but they need to increase awareness of the TWEWY crew so they were inserting into Kingdom Hearts)  That being said, putting in one of Josha's iconic lines is a nice touch. 

One thing that is interesting, though, is the utter lack of Ven, Aqua, and Terra (other then Terra and Ven's semi alternate forms) While Birth By Sleep and Re:Coded makes it clear that the three need to be saved in order for Light to win in the battle against Master Xehanort, and Re:Coded also states that they've tracked down at least 2 of the heroes of Birth By Sleep, it is interesting none of them show up, not even Master Eraqus who taught them.  While we might see more later, the absence is notable.

The choice of the three "Somebodies" that came back is interesting.  While we always knew Lea/Axel would come back (everyone likes him way too much and he appeared for almost no reason in Birth By Sleep)  Ienzo/Zexion and Aeleus/Lexaeus are an odd choice.  They only appeared in Riku's story in Reverse/Rebirth mode in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories and as part of the short tutorial in 358/2.  Why have just those three (and Xehanort) come back?  As far as we know, they hold very little knowledge of the series' inner workings.

Square Enix makes fantastic trailers, but one of their main problems is they spoil too much. A few months before Birth By Sleep was released, many fans guessed that Terra would end up possessed by Master Xehanort (who was the real villain of the game) and become the Xehanort in the Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2 reports.  That's not happening here.

Check out the short version of the trailer on the official website

I can't wait until we get a localized trailer, I hope it's the long one.  And I can't wait until we find out more about this game.  It's way too trippy, but it's awesome. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Musical Monday - "To Die" Heimdall 2

I'll come out and say it.  I know practically nothing about this game.  Which fits with the myth, very little is known about Heimdall.  All that is known about him is that he guarded the realm of the gods. 
All I can say is, I really like this piece for the Amiga game.  I wish I knew in what context it was used.  Despite the sad title, it is a very pretty piece.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Jump Festa: Pokemon

Nobunaga's Ambition is a pretty popular game in Japan.  The gist of it is you are one of the clans taking over Japan.  This version of the game... each side uses Pokemon.   

I don't know too much, never having played it, but it sounds like an interesting concept, and one that would work very will in a Pokemon world.  Maybe in the time before Pokemon battling was regulated, this happened?

Well, I'll be looking forward to seeing more about the game.  At least the Gameplay looks interesting....

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Design Analysis - The World Ends With You Opening.

Congratulations, I just spoiled the entire game for you.   (Spoilers ahead... since unless you played the game you don't realize how important any of that was)

Basically, this is a fascinating way to do credits.  It's "What the HECK" at it's finest, The names get in there, but rather then a basic background (such as from Final Fantasy III)

or alternate screens, the names are flashing with the various scenes... which explain everything as I said  before.

Two Shikis? Because there actually are two Shikis,only one is named Eri.  All those people Neku passed? His partners later in the game. The mindless drone reflections in Megumi's glasses? His master plan.  Yep, they out the villain five minutes into the game, I think before you even get to play as Neku.

It's an interesting way to do credits, and one I hope gets picked up more often.  It's stylized and by the time you realize this MEANS anything, you forgot about it.  It still sticks with you.

I really should play this game again... I feel like I'm missing things. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Jump Fiesta

So, Jump Fiesta starts today in Japan!  I'll cover more when info actually comes out.

What can we expect to see there?
Puyo Puyo!! 20th Anniversary (3DS)
Hatsune Miku and Future Stars Project Mirai (3DS)
Hatsune Miku Project Diva Arcade (Arcade)
Rhythm Thief R (3DS)
Samurai & Dragons (Vita)
Shining Blade (PSP)
Final Fantasy XIII-2
Lord of Apocalypse
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy
Kingdom Hearts 3D
Bravely Default: Flying Fairy
Dragon Quest Monsters 3D
Fortune Street
Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime 3
Dragon Quest X
Chrono Trigger (iPhone/iPod Touch/Android)
Bakuman: The Way of a Manga Artist (DS)
Blue Exorcist: The Phantom Labyrinth of Time (PSP)
Digimon World Re:Digitize (PSP)
Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Tenkaichi (PS3/360)
Dragon Ball Zenkai Battle Royale (Arcade)
Gintama (Mobile)
Listen to Daddy Says! (PSP)
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Impact (PSP)
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations (PS3/360)
One Piece: Gigant Battle 2 (DS)
One Piece: Grand Collection (Mobile)
Saint Seiya: Sanctuary Battle (PS3)
Tales of Innocence (Vita)
Tales of the Heroes: Twin Brave (PSP)
Tekken Hybrid (PS3)
Toriko: Gourmet Battle (PC)
Toriko: Gourmet Survival (PSP)
Something Pokemon related
Capcom and Konami are both at the show, but I haven't found their line up.

What are you looking forward too?

For me, it's KH 3D and Theatrythm.  And maybe some  Street Fighter X Tekken stuff.  They should be announcing new characters soon,and I LOVE their story videos.
I wish we could see more of these kinds of vids.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Level Design - Hotel Dusk

Hotel Dusk is a criminally underrated graphic novel for the DS. It's lack luster sells means alot of people missed a great, complicated, interesting, unique playable novel about Kyle Hyde, an ex police detective in the seventies, who know works as someone who finds things and sells things.  He is sent to the Hotel Dusk and finds out that, for some reason, it is incredibly tied to his own past.  There is a sequel, but Nintendo decided against localizing it for the US so it was only released in Japan and Europe.  Fortunately the DS doesn't have any regional software so go import it!

Okay, moving on,

Hotel Dusk is distinguished visually due to it's use of Rotoscoping for it's visuals.  What this means is they record someone actually doing the action (holding an item, turning around, playing pool, whatever) and then draw over it.  This technique has been used before (the character of Snow White is rotoscoped for the movie) but it isn't always so sketchy.  However, it fits with the game.  The game is filled with black, white, and gray.  Life attempts to be simple.   And the backgrounds don't stand out.

It's an interesting style for an interesting game.  I just wish more people recognized it.

(As a side note: if this blog is shut down by SOPA, I hope you enjoyed reading it.)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Character design- Riddler (Arkham Asylum)

As I haven't played Arkham City, I'm just covering Arkham Asylum.

Riddler is one of my favorite Batman villains.  I find his compulsion interesting, and though it is hard to do, he is very different from the Joker.

There are two rather different, but iconic, portrayals him in media.

Frank Gorshin's amazing laughter from the 60's Batman:
And John Glover's incredibly restrained and intelligent Riddler in Batman: The Animated Series.  (BTW, that series is one of THE best TV shows, let alone Batman series, ever.  It restructured and refined much of the Batman mythos, gave us Harley Quinn, rewrote Mr. Freeze's backstory, and is incredibly well done.  Go and watch it now, it is NOT a waste)
(Okay, NOT the best example.  If you can, watch "If you're so smart, why aren't you dead?"

With Batman: Arkham Asylum, they could combine many parts of the earlier incarnations, including the fact that Riddler in the comics is actually a murderous pyscopath.

So, they put that in here.  Along with the restraint of John Glover (most of the time.  He gets enraged as you solve more of the riddles) a laugh like Frank Gorshin, and together leads to a rather interesting performance.

Hopefully an even better performance in Arkham City... now that we can see him.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Laguna Loire in the modern era

AKA deleted content: Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep part 2.

Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep and Dissidia Duodecim would both come out at about the same time.  And Square Enix decided that they would need to make a decision. 

Which game would star Laguna Loire?

Eventually, they decided to go with Dissidia and Laguna was cut some time before Birth By Sleeps release (As of this writing, no data has been found in the game that deals with Laguna.  However, this tidbit was revealed in the Birth By Sleep Ultimania)

That being said, from what was in Dissidia (I have yet to play FF8) Laguna would make a nice eventual addition.  A.V. Kennedy does a nice job voicing him (which is great, as far as I can tell, this is his first time doing anything besides background voices and he gets a big character in a big Square Enix release. GO A.V. KENNEDY!)  (cough)   and the character is fantastic.  Laguna is kind, funny, absentminded, interested in people, likes girls (but not in a pervy way), a perfect gentleman, and can MORE then keep up with the rest of Cosmos and Chaos' warriors despite having absolutely no magic.

In fact, he's the only Cosmos warrior who doesn't have at least one magic spell.  Tidus has a magic HP attack, Tifa has Ice, Cloud has Fire, Jecht has laser beams from his eyes (and transforms into SIN), and... all Laguna gets is his weapons turning gold which is really just Leon and Company lending their strength. 

With Dream Drop Distance coming up, and at least considered worlds confirmed to be in the roster, maybe we can see some considered heroes?

After all, he was more then considered for Birth By Sleep, he had his own plot line.  He was to run the Mirage Arena.  We don't know anything other then that, but judging from Dissidia (And FF8, which I can't comment on) it would have been interesting. Especially considering what he could have happened if he interacted with Aqua. 

As for future released, we don't know.  But I would LOVE to have him show up again. 

Delayed Musical Monday! Prince of Persia 2008

Crap, I forgot. 
Have some music from an underrated game.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

VGA post show

first, the trailers:
Now, for the bad.

Those trailers were pretty much the entire show.  Many of the awards were just released together in a montage, many of the talent were shunted off to the side (No, really, Mark Hammill was sitting in a BLEACHER SEAT and wasn't even told his character won! Or that he lost best performance to Stephen Merchant's Wheatley  (Who I do love, but that's besides the point)  Yep, as much as people like the trailers, we were here to see people get awards.  Not major awards in a montage.  (though we did see Legend of Zelda be the first inductee to a game hall of fame)

And, finally, let me make myself clear.  You people who were at the show behaved ABOMINABLY to Hideo Kojima.  Yes, he stumbled over his speech.  May I remind you that English is NOT his first language!He likes the west and by all accounts is a VERY nice man.  So, instead of having some sort of glorified teabagging at the awards, maybe you should have instead given him your patience.

Well, that's it for today.  Did you watch? what did you think?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

VGA - pre show

Honestly, I'm a little torn.  On the one hand, Video Games are a legitimate medium and it deserves some awards on it's own merits.  On the other hand, the style of the show perpetrates that scenario that gamers are only mountain dew fueled nerds.  It's... yeah.

If we are going to get awards, they can be a bit more dignified.  I do love the trailers and all, but if they are going to do awards, then they need to focus on the awards and not the silly stunts. 

It is an awkward time for us, games and gamers.  But we need to grow out of this phase, and grow up if we want to be treated respectfully.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Nolan North

My apologies on no post yesterday.  I'm a tad sick and I couldn't think of anything.

As I am still sick, I thought I would pass along this vid:
And talk briefly about Voice Actors.

Voice Actors are often the unsung heroes of video games.  (when I say "Voice Actor" I mean people who's job is to create the voices and that is primarily it)  Say what you will about Nolan North, but he can imitate and manipulate his vice and give emotion.  There are many other voice actors who can do that too.  My personal favorite is Jim Cummings, but we can't forget Tara Strong, Jeff Bennett, John Di Maggio, Tress McNeille, June Foray and many more unsung heroes who give us more then what we could desire/

A consistent actual connection  with a variety of characters,

Let us hope that they eventually get their due.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Golden Sun - Development gag

Golden Sun is a very good, very underrated RPG that was originally released on the GBA

When it was released in the US, it had a commercial... that had nothing to do with the game.
No, really, none of it takes place at an opera house, you don't fight to music, that girl isn't in the game, and that chandelier monster isn't in the game either! (that being said, it is a really well done commercial and is very cool looking)

That changed for the DS sequel.
(just the summon)
Yep, the developers took a cue from the commercial and put it in the game.  And quite well too!

All joking aside, it is a really nice touch.  Good work developers!  You even had the smashed crystal from the commercial in there too!

(my apologies on it being in Japanese. Oh, and, Hi Final Fantasy VI's opera house!)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Character Analysis - Terra (Final Fantasy VI)

Since Final Fantasy VI debuted on the PSN today, I thought I would analyze Terra (spoilers ahead)  I should also note, she's not my favorite character, Cyan is.  But, I'm saving Cyan for my birthday or something. 

Well, Terra is (arguably) the lead character.  And she's half human.  I know she doesn't look like it, but she's half esper. 

This is actually not only critical to the plot but to her personality.  Esper's have great control over magic, but in doing so have very little emotions.  While Terra can feel emotions, if she does so it is at the expense of her magic.  Well, at least initially.  Eventually she finds out that emotional disturbances end up disrupting her magic.  Like making it ceasing to work.

Or turning her into this:

Which is why the Empire put her in a slave crown at the beginning of the game. She has immense power, but she's also very kind and can not work properly when under stress (like in battle). 

So, if she doesn't like battle, why does she fight?

Because she has a reason.  She wants to find out who she is, and she knows the empire doesn't want to share it.  So, she joins up with Locke to find out... plus now that she's free she realized the Empire is in the wrong.  But, she doesn't realize that anything is particularly odd with her, until she uses Magic in front of Edgar. Upon finding out that she is different, she looks to find out what she can do to "fix" her...

But instead, finds out that she can't understand love.  She has no idea what it is, or how she should recognize it.

This search is a key part of her character. To quote her, "I want to know what love is NOW!"   She wants to know how she's different, she wants to know why, she wants to fall in love.

And she does, but in a wonderful twist, it's not with a person...

Not any one person.

Instead, once they fail utterly and Kefka destroys the world, she takes over a small village and takes care of the kids.  It is there she finds love.  Not in one person, but in a village of children that would not have survived if she hadn't stepped in.  And she couldn't use her magic until she realized that she loved her kids and she wanted to protect them.

It is also what allows her to survive after the end too. 

Love motivates many of the characters in Final Fantasy VI.  But, you'll have to play it to find out everyone else's love.  (And don't forget to sleep in inns with Shadow)

This is one of my favorite games, and I really can't do an analysis of Terra well enough.  She's a very confused young woman who, for all intents and purposes, woke up and had no idea who she is.  She spends parts of the game trying to figure it out, only to find out she's not human, and, eventually, does find her purpose.  In her new family in the town, and her friends who traipsed across an entire world to make sure no one would have to go through what she did ever again. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Musical Monday - Gwyn, Lord of Cinder

I don't play Dark Souls, so I can't comment.  I did promise a friend I would put it up though. 


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Character Design - Kaine

My apologies. When I wrote my gender post a few days ago, I meant only to focus on costume design.  It was my fault it went off topic due to me mentioning personality.

So, I was saving this post but... now's probably a good time to bring her up.

Kaine!(spoilers ahead)

Wait a minute, you may be saying, didn't she say that Kaine was complicated?  Isn't this Character Design? Isn't Complicated is an EMOTIONAL part?  Something in Character Analysis?

Er, no, not really here.  (though I will do a little Character Analysis) 

Kaine is a hermaphrodite.  (Confirmed in Japan, hinted at in the US version)  She identifies as female, but she's got all the parts of both genders.

Which is why she dresses that... You know what? I'm just going to have Weiss explain a bit of it.

She dresses so skimpily BECAUSE she wants to draw attention to how she's a woman.  The Lingerie with nipple slips, the bare back, the high heels (seriously, how does she fight in those heels?)  those are all ways to say "Hey! Look! I'm a woman!"

As for the bandages, in story it's to hide her Shade half, but just looking at her, it creates a bit of dichotomy and a curiosity.  Why should she want to hid half of her body like that?  Was she injured?  And we feel for the woman who may be wielding two very large swords, but may be hurting due to the bandages covering her.   (on a side note, major props for her managing to keep her top and bottom on while fighting.  One stray cut and...)

I know it may be just fanservice, but I appreciate Cavalia for turning the fanservice character into something much more.  Her style of dress gets actually explained and her character is so much more then eyecandy.

Friday, December 2, 2011


Nintendo posted pictures from the game on it's facebook page.
and you can preorder it at gamestop now.  Right now it seems like it's a Gamestop exclusive, but hopefully it will be published in other venues.

So, let's have some music to celebrate!

Why is this game a big deal?

It is - apparently, I haven't played it- a VERY good JRPG.  The metacritic scores are absurdly high, which is impossible in this day and age for a JRPG (my favorite Genre actually) Nintendo of America announced it several years ago, then didn't say a word.  It came out in Japan to brilliant praise, then nothing.

A group called Operation Rainfall started a petition to get it and 2 other respected JRPG's over (Pandora's Tower and The Last Story) and nothing...

except an announcement that all three would be localized for Europe.  This confused many gamers in both Europe and NA.  It is reasonably priced to turn a PAL release to a NA release, it's already in English, all you need to do is switch regions.  (apparently the UK dub is very good so that's not an issue.  Might run into some slight localization problems though. I don't know though)

But with this new release, it shows that the wii is NOT dead, good JRPGs CAN be made, and Nintendo has FINALLY listened to it's fans.

Who else is preordering?


edit 2: Official website and you can pre order either at Gamestop or from  Personally, I'd go with Nintendo.  That way we may get Last Story and Pandora's Tower over here.  THANK YOU OPERATION RAINFALL!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

gender issues in games (part 1 - character design)

Okay, this isn't really going to be a series, just something I talk about when I feel like it.

I think today I'll explain why I'm talking about it.  Read this article first, not the comments.  And now you know why I'm thinking about it.

Gender is.... naturally complicated.  Men are usually the ones making the games (which is something else) so when it comes to character design, women are usually sexualized

While the men are... not.

I know there are unsexualized mature women (Jade from Beyond Good and Evil and Faith from Mirror's Edge for example)  and sexualized men (Tekken's Jin for example)  and, admittedly, Kaine's case is VERY complicated so she's getting her own post later.

But, by and large, this is the general trend.  Which is why women get very frustrated.

For me, at least, either turn down the fanservice on the female characters or turn it up on the males.  It's really frustrating when men are "complicated" and dressed reasonably but women are more "fanservice" and... that's it.  (Yes, I'll know I'll get called on for some characters such as Tifa, but let's just look at the general picture right now.  That is the exception, not the rule.) 

Some fanservice isn't that bad.  Lightning from Final Fantasy XIII has a belly button ring you can see, and that's it.  Othertimes, it's so overboard it may as well be parody, but it gets to be more then annoying when the first female character's show up, and it's a big breasted women wearing nothing but underwear, which has happened alot.  And then personality ends up just being somewhat one dimensional.  Admittedly, early non RPG games (and even some early RPG games) didn't really give anyone a personality so they are excused,  but since technology has developed, this has to change.

Again, nothing against fanservice, when done in moderation.  Girls do wear Midriff bearing shirts (which is why Jade isn't on my sexualized list)  and men do sometimes go around shirtless.... though unless they're exercising or in a naturally hot climate that just makes them look like jerks in my opinion.

Just make design practical (I can see a few small edits that could turn Lara's outfit from fanservice to actual climbing gear.... like extending the pants and shirt so she doesn't risk getting easily cut)   or give it a reason.  (Kaine)  and make the men a bit fanservicey too.  Again, in the realms of practicality.

And please, for the love of Cosmos, give the girls a real, complicated, personality, will ya? 

Then maybe we can look on these designs as something outdated from yesteryear, rather then something we do need to fix now.

So, can I ask a favor?  May I get a list of your top video game characters, one for each category.
1) Sexualized male
2) Sexualized female
3) Unsexualized male
4) Unsexualized female

Thank you for reading this post.  I'll try to tackle other gender issues later, and maybe I'll rewrite this post some day.