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Harukai's blog

7:36 PM on 07.18.2008

Ocarina of Time HD textures

Hey guys I was surfing around the net in a very Zelda mood deciding which Legend I was going to replay and I came across this amazing little comparison that some guys are doing.

It's simply put a project where they take the original textures from the greatest Zelda game with more detailed HD versions and made a little flash application where when you move your mouse over it shows you the difference.

I for one would love it nintendo would implement something like this, because at the moment I'm much happier playing the original Zeldas (apart from zelda 2) than I am playing through Twilight princess again and so keeping them the same but giving them a nice little HD finish would really make my day.

Heres the link so go enjoy it!   read

5:37 PM on 07.02.2008

A Cast Of Thousands: Squall Leonhart

When I first heard about the monthly musing topic for this month I racked my brain thinking about which game character had ever strongly effected me in either a positive or negative way that I could share my experiences with the rest of you, at first I thought I'd take the easy route and look for my most hated characters since on almost every game I play I end up shouting at the screen to some stupid girl who has surprisingly hurt her leg and is now useless and needs me to help her for the umpteenth time.

But then it finally came to me that the answer of who I had really related to was hiding in my favourite game, but this is because I relate to him on the side that most don't remember, his chivalrous side . . . .

Ok then, before I get into this I just want to say that even though some of the things he says in the game sound a bit too copy and pasted from a romantic novel I generally related to what he stood for and not the big girls blouse way that he put it.

In the first part of the game Squall is known as the "lone wolf" character, his broody mannerisms and "leave me alone" attitude that keeps him distant from the other characters did nothing but make final fantasy fan boys get throbbing erections at this would be Cloud guy. But no one can relate to that, if you act like that in real life then you should just stay in and play games because there is no reason to ever have to be like that. I remember him saying something along the lines of "If your alone you only have to look after yourself and can't let anyone else down" which is just what wimps say who can't get close to anyone! But I digress, for the Squall I relate to is the one that emerges in the second half of the game when Squall learns that Ellone is in Esthar and decides to go alone carrying her on his back through fishermans horizon.

From that point onwards Squall becomes an almost completely new character, he shows that he's scared and wants to help, that he's willing to go the distance for the woman he loves. I have never to this day seen another game character go that far for someone he loves, it's normally the usual swing in and rescue scene (although that does also happen) or something to that extent but in this instance of character it showed that characters could develop themselves into the hero's they need to be when called upon.

I believe that in todays world there is too much talk of what is politically correct and you can't act a certain way because it is sexist, racist, or both if your really offensive! I strongly believe that men should be men and protect the woman that matters the most to them, I still hold doors for people and offer a helping hand to what I see as a damsel in distress but on more cases that not instead of a gentle smile or thanks I'm awarded with a dirty look or a "I can do it myself" as though every bit of kindness given was a way to undermine the opposite sex! But in games like this where there are still hero's I can still relate to I feel like it is worth doing because doing what you think it right is more important than getting what you think you deserve.

"No matter what happens, even if you become the worlds enemy. I'll be your knight" Moments like this are hard to find in a game, I can't think of anyone else I relate to better other than Squall, he's the hero that distances himself just to enough to see clearly what is going on, but still acts with his heart when he needs to. Thanks for reading, I'll try and make my next post a bit more manlier.

P.S Another great quote from Squall that I just wanted to end with but couldn't find anywhere good to put it:

"Right and wrong are not what separate us and our enemies. It's our different
standpoints, our perspectives that separate us. Both sides blame one another.
There's no good or bad side. Just two sides holding different views"   read

5:39 PM on 06.22.2008

The current struggle

I for one at the moment find myself very pleased with the current situation of games, that being the quantity of games worth playing. I found myself the other day wander into my nearest HMV shop and saw both Eternal Sonata and Blue Dragon at a reduced £15.00 each (30 dollars for the rest of you) which is a steal compared to the original 40-50 I would have to pay on release. Upon snatching these two up I decided I'd get going with them and see how the ratio of quality game to money panned out, needless to say I was happy with my purchases and would have been even on release, well maybe not quite as happy but almost.

But this is actually starting to cause a problem for me now, mainly due to the DS and 360's success, because now I'm not actually finishing my games anymore, I'm getting between half and three quarters of the way through and then switching to another game or buying a new one because it's either become affordable or has just come out (Alone in the Dark my latest problem and soon to be super smash brothers).

Don't get me wrong though this isn't a bad thing, I enjoy having all of these games at my disposal it's a very pleasing change compared to when I was young and just replayed my favourites while waiting for the next big titles or just because it was time to enjoy the classic awesomeness of my old faves. This did used to happen before though, normally around the summer releases or at the big christmas line up, all the best games would come out at once and rather than buy one finish it and repeat i would get all of them start all of them and then pick my current fave to complete first.

This has become a real struggle for me recently, because of having to work and going out with friends I have limited gaming time and find myself going in a routine almost of just getting nowhere on games or losing my old willpower I used to possess that would push me through the annoying parts of games (Lost Odyssey currently being the bane of my existence for it's abundance of annoyance).

My question to you the community is do you share the same problem as me? Do i simply need to start forcing myself to play just one game or is this a blessing in disguise that I have mistaken for a bad omen of too much of a good thing? I keep on wanting to finish GTAIV but find myself just playing Rock Band with friends or grinding a bit further on Final Fantasy III but never really progressing with anything.

I suppose looking at it now, it may just be the way I look at things. That I'm looking at my gaming as a whole like an xbox achievements list and I merely want to whore as many titles as I can. A lot of the time I won't let myself rush through a game, I still hold a passion for my gaming that I believe some new gamers haven't quite gotten yet, where what they see as a goal is to beat the end boss I'm getting lost in Rapture for example looking at the effects and atmosphere (seriously I spent like an hour watching one splicer before, she was nursing a revolver in a pushchair!)

In closing, I just wanted to share this current struggle with the Dtoid community in the hope that you can either empathise with me and agree that due to the fruition of gaming as a business at the moment we are swamped with a great collection of choice and are becoming spoilt so it isn't just me been greedy, but if I am then at least I'll know because I'm pretty sure you guys/gals aren't the kind of people to pull punches. Enjoy flaming me for not finishing games :P Oh and please no spoilers >.>

Thanks for reading


5:06 AM on 06.11.2008

Have you ever #2 Played a game because everyone else thinks it's good?

Hey there fellow Dtoiders, it's been a while since my last post now so with the start of the affair theme I decided I'd give that a go and get back into my blogging ways.

But enough of that, you came here to find out what the hell I mean by playing a game everyone else thinks is good. You're probably sat their on your ivory throne softly swilling the contents of your brandy class preparing yourself to scoff at whatever you read here due to it been preposterous and highly shallow and pedantic. Well those people can eat their scoffs and harumph all they want because this will be an eye opening read that I'm sure fellow games have done in the past!

What I mean by the title is; have you ever heard a group of people talking about a game they love which has a good sized fan base that you always thought "Nah, I'm not really into those kind of games I don't get why everyone is into them" but then due to the hype actually played into it and tried it? I for one have done this many a time, a lot of the time to actually be let down because so many review sites tell me the game is 9/10 and a must have but no where did it tell me that's only if your a fan of the genre or series already!

The most recent example I have of doing this is Forza 2, now before you all stone me to death I do actually enjoy the game, just not as much as I would have hoped. I am not what you would a racing fan gamer, I enjoy to drive my car pretty fast in the real world but that's normally because it's taking me to a food emporium. On games after I get past the soundtrack and graphics I normally start to feel a bit jaded with the concept of having to do the same stuff with different cars etc. But the stuff I'd heard about Forza I just couldn't pass it up, I'd loved Gran Turismo 3 and still have that stand as my favourite racing game (realistic racing game, Mario kart and F zero are the dogs bollocks) and so with it been from what I could see, the 360 alternative I thought I would give it a go. I'd done my research online, great reviews, good looking fan videos, plenty of content and a cheap enough limiter edition version was available nearby. But after about 2 days of playing it just sits on my shelf, the enjoyment I had for those days gone just because the hype and the fan base just meant nothing to me and I had hoped beyond hope I would have gotten into the game gotten really good and raced liked the Stig online (Top Gear joke).

Now this just led me to wonder, does anyone else build up their hopes for games they here everyone else loves to only give it a go because of that? Or am I the only one and most of the time everyone is a fanboy of everything good nowadays? I know my friends definately do the same as me, one imparticular (who even though he doesn't read this I won't mention his name). He buys everyone new game the day it comes out that has any sign of hype or has heard from me I can't wait to get my hands on it. But then after 2 days playing and telling me that it's such a good game and he's further than me because he has no job, he stops playing it and never speaks of it again. He did this about 4 months ago in a huge way that I could not believe, he had just sold his 360 in order to buy a PS3 because he wanted a more powerful expensive console to brag to his friends (mainly me) that he owned. But when Halo 3 was coming out and he heard people were pre ordering it, he asked me "Mark what do you think to this Halo 3, it any good?" and I simply told him "It's going to be mint Joe, should have some awesome multiplayer for sure", he went out the same day bought a 360 and halo 3, played it for about 3 days this time but then . . . . . . it just collects dust in his room. He owns all 3 of the best current consoles now and not one of them does he play frequently, he gets roped in by the hype and advertisements and believes he needs them to be a true gamer.

Now most people aren't this bad, but what say you? Have you ever tried to force yourself into a game or has a fanbase for a game sold you a game that otherwise you wouldn't have tried? I'm not saying this is a bad thing mind you, I'd never played Halo till Halo 3 so without the hype I wouldn't have enjoyed such a good game. Thoughts anyone?   read

4:26 AM on 06.11.2008

Start of the Affair: Final Fantasy VIII

Final Fantasy VIII was not the first game I played, nor in my opinion was it the most finely crafted one I have experienced. But it was definately the first game I played that made me start to really put my time into games as a form of entertainment that could do so much more than just watching tv or in some cases reading a well written novel. Not saying that all games do this of course but for me it was a few certain series that "started my affair" and I've become a better person for it ever since.

Final Fantasy VIII came out in 1999 and I was actually unaware of the series at the time and of this games particular release, I had just recieved a playstation off my uncle who had gotten me into computer games originally by giving me his old Megadrive (Genesis) when I was younger and had shown me the awesome enjoyment involved with holding the right button to win every Sonic game (which I still love). He gave me some of his playstation games that he had around that time, Crash Bandicoot and Porche Challenge, and a latter of enjoyable but standard games. There had been nothing in this collection that made me think video games had really gotten anywhere they were still just something fun to play with when there was nothing else to do. I'd just finished Crash Bandicoot and decided it was time to purchase a new game for my system something I could say "Woah look at the graphics" to my friends when a cut scene came on. The actual reason I chose Final Fantasy VIII was because when I looked at the games in "Game" it had such a sexy back of the box and I just thought "god damn this is some hot shit" although been 11 at the time I probably thought something different like "Ooh da lally this will be splendid!".

I knew this was going to do something for my love for games once I saw the beginning cutscene, to this day I find it hard to find a game to have an intro that can compete with that. The CG cut scene was beautifully rendered and it had such great action, good direction and actually had foreshadowing I came to find out. In previous games I had seen nothing like this, it had always just been the cute cool retro games I remembered which with this been my first rpg didn't really give me much depth other than "Your princess is in another castle".

When I started playing I felt new emotions for games that if the game strikes me just right now I can feel again (Lost Odyssey gave me some tingley feelings), I had never been so emotionally invested into a game. The characters seemed so alive to me and yet it wasn't the same as just watching the events unfold I was really part of this. Sure I didn't feel like I was Squall or anything like that but I felt as thought I was somehow the narrator who was overlooking on the situations they were been put into.

Ok here is a secret I hoped to keep away for a bit longer but it was this game that created my dark past, when the first random encounter happened and the battle screen came up I shouted "Oh my god it's a fighting game too!" and began to mash my controller in an attempt to slice up my enemies or through a hadoken at them and had no idea what the bars on the screen meant, luckily since I was mashing everything so much I hit X a few times and attacked them, then I slowly began to realise it was only when "that box" came on the screen that I could just choose my actions. To this day I think the turn based ATB RPG fighting system (dont try saying that drunk) are the best way to have a good balanced fight in an RPG. With these games there all about choices and the characters been individual and affecting the story, even though I like Eternal sonatas combo attack system and think it works great I don't think I can really give it too much strategy other than when to heal.

This game started my affair for gaming for one main reason, I wanted to play it more than anything once I had started. In todays gaming I find it hard to just play a game straight to finish, I normally have about 3 on the go because I get sick of them after a few hours and need a change. But with this it just kept giving me just enough challenges, story, enviroments and character development to keep me hanging on and fighting for the next outcome of my actions.

This is far from a flawless game but for me it was all I needed to show me there is more to games that points and coins, that a video game can do more than a movie and make you feel more invested than if you starred in your own film! (Or read one of those books where you make choices and turn to certain pages). It may have been an affair that started a long time ago, but my flame for games still burns brightly and every year I will replay Final Fantasy VIII,, sometimes twice if I have no other games left it just brings back so many good memories for me and even made me buy the soundtrack since the magic Nobuo works can be re-created wherever I am and still make me feel all warm and unsocial even when in a crowded room.

Sorry to rant for so long I just hold such a huge erection for this game I had to fap about it sometime, I could have gone further but I spent too much time talking about how I bought the damn thing so you don't get to hear about how the love story in this game actually made me try romance movies! Thanks for reading my embarrassing story from my youth.   read

7:31 PM on 02.25.2008

Reinvent Zelda? But why?

After all these years of success and great games is it time Nintendo should change the formula?

Before I get into this here is my opinion: I love Zelda games and think they are all great (apart from the second one, that kind of sucked) and do not want them to start changing them drastically.

The reason I have created this post is because earlier today I was with my friends watching Gametrailers retrospective videos because they are so well done and my friends hadn't seen them. After going through the Final Fantasy ones and been shouted at since they now wanted to play all the Final Fantasy series again we moved onto the Zelda franchise.

Only one of my two friends who was with me had played most of the Zelda games and enjoyed the series, my other friend is a much more "casual gamer" and finds it hard to get into games and finish a lot of them, after going through the retrospective my friend who likes Zelda games said that "Ocarina of Time is definitely the best Zelda game all the new ones are just trying to remake that games greatness, I wish they'd do something different because their not really getting any new fans like this" where as my other friend said "I don't really see why there is such a hype over Zelda, I can't see the attraction they should make a different one for the Wii otherwise I'm not going to bother with it and I doubt anyone new to Zelda will either".

After this I was pretty stunned but then thought back to many reviews I saw for Twilight Princess, that hadn't been such a huge hit even though I loved it to pieces even though it didn't beat Ocarina of Time for me (but most games can never beat their best title, e.g. Final Fantasy VII) I thought it was a great new Zelda game to add to the series. So perhaps it's just me who still loves the new Zelda titles because I'm such a huge Zelda fanboy but I don't think that my love for the series could make me think a boring game was enjoyable.

I take their opinion though and agree not really too much has changed over the years with Zelda games apart from the jump from 2d to 3d and so they could do a lot more than make me shake my hand to attack so I don't get fat (instead I get arthritis) and let me point to aim my bow at foes. Now don't look at me for ideas I can't see what could make these games much better other than maybe a deeper story in the next title, but I think I like the Legend, being reborn as the new hero collecting things to beat other things and eventually fighting Ganon with my new gained power that collecting things have given me. It gives me a nice simple story like the Mario and Sonic series do in a different way, it's simple brilliant and fun but it could always do with a bit more.

But what do you guys think? I'd love to hear from people who haven't tried Zelda (and have taken their fingers out of their ears and removed themselves from the cave in which they reside) and see if they think changing the game drastically would make them want to try it. I'm happy keeping the game the same as it is and just giving a few new items, locations and story per new game but I understand I'm not the majority of the public. Over to you . . .   read

5:51 PM on 02.24.2008

Have you ever #1 Played a game just for the story?

First of all, thanks to anyone who's reading this I generally just blog because I enjoy the discussion with other gamers even though your not really gaining anything from reading it. but now you get my thanks so that's just great lol

Ok then, this is going to be a weekly thing for me now called "Have you ever" and will generally create discussion for things that gamers have done in the past. To start it off with something simple that I mentioned in my last post this is about playing a game just for the story.

Lets get one thing sorted out first though, when I say just for the story, I mean it. I don't mean like did you play something because you heard the story was good this discussion is for those games that you thought were so buggy or time consuming or just hard/stupid you wouldn't want to play them, but the story motivated you to push through. This isn't a common thing with games anymore since 1 out of 3 games is a fps which doesn't really bring much more to the table and as they say at GDC E3 and every other conference/show that has up and coming games isn't really "innovative" enough for "next gen".

Luckily back in the old sprite days this was never a problem, lets be honest you moved from left to right to get to the end. If there was any text that didn't involve "Game Over" "1up" or "But your princess is in another castle, but I'm still kind of lonely ;)" it wasn't going to be interesting enough to make you go through a pixely pile of prick . . . . porcupines.

There was only a short few years where these games would arise, most of them I remember for the PS2, hopefully most of you are going to post "You fail, i enjoy my games, you just suck and can't play! Go read a book" because it isn't common for anyone to find these mystery games, but they were out there and they were only good for that one thing, the story and possibly the characters which as someone said in my last post are pretty much part of the story.

Most games people play now I find are for the opposite reason, the story sucks but the gameplay is just so damn good and as long as it's online full of noobs and lets you pwn to your black cold hearts content then you are happy at your overpriced purchase. But the games I remember playing just for the story are still played now in some cases and are known for their name, my first game that I remember playing just for the story, was resident evil 1 *Gasp* yes I know resident evil games are so damn awesome now, but when I first got it I hated it! The dodgey movement controls, the puzzles (I was pretty young and noobish) and the shooting i actually found back then. Generally though things change because as i got older and played RE 2 I fell in love with it but for that first game it gave me such a hard time but I just had to know if they'd get out of the mansion and where my team mates were. Bad example maybe, but it's the first one I remember.

My second game I remember was a PS2 title by the name of The Bouncer, this game was meant to be Square's attempt at Streets of Rage meets final fantasy(in how the characters looked) but it turned out to be a beautiful looking game that played like shit. But there was an element of story there which involved the main characters, as it got going I actually got really into it. I think overall there was something like 3 different attack combos you could do, but I wanted to know what was going to happen especially since the cutscenes were so pretty.

But now I want to hear from you, has this ever happened to you? Or do you find you just want to get your moneys worth like "us from't north" (UK joke) and won't stop until it's finished. I know a lot of people who would just take it back the next day and be done with it, but I'm guessing if your reading this you may be the kind of person to fight through the pain for that juicy bit of story.

Thanks for listening.   read

6:53 AM on 02.24.2008

Game heroes! Do they make the game?

To start off let me just say, this isn't the question of story vs gameplay. That is going to be my next blog so just hold your swolen typing fingers at bay until then. This discussion is purely about how awesome the main characters are in games and if when you remember the game you get all warm fuzzy feelings in your lumpy lumpy scrotum because of the hero you think of.

Before we begin I just want to say this though, I am not been sexist by saying Heroes and not Heroes and Heroins mainly for the reason, I call them both heroes and see no point for a seperate word. If i want a doctor and she is a woman (after my shock has passed) I don't think to call her Docteret or Docterine because it's the same damn thing and unless she needs to use a penis to heal me then no new name is required. Also if I say heroins here people are going to titter thusly at me producing statements like "oh noes mah heroinz r on mah br4ain roflcopterflyawayfunlololol".

Now that that has been cleared up let us begin(sexy times commence), I am a very fond gamer of games that involve a deep storyline that draws me in and makes me hate the real world when it has to take me away from finding out what is going to happen and make me desperately search for a save point. When I think back to these games that had me so drawn in I immediately think of the hero and a song that encompasses both the feel of the game and the action melody. For example, Metal Gears main theme by Harry Gregson Williams, what an epic piece of writing. Just hearing that makes me want to jump onto a nuke capable robot and talk to my ear in what is the best video game voice ever. It's hard to think of games like Metal Gear without Snake though, because yeah he is an integral part of the story for beginners, but I mean if they just changed him into something I didn't see as heroic cool and awesome then I may not have really enjoyed the story as much. I mean take my next example, you watch films with the opposite sex in that you find attractive for that one reason (yes i'm talking about THOSE kind of films) and even if the things they do and say are just as good as the normal actors and actresses if they aren't good looking or having a voice like a donkey pulling it's intestines through it's ears with just it's tail then your not going to enjoy it anymore!

That been said though, we look at Mario. Now let's be honest here, he isn't the coolest of characters and doesn't have the best character voice. But there are a lot of other platformers that have challenged him in the past, now obviously it's the mario gameplay that is better but it can only get so much better, if there was a story with epic characters like Jak and Dakster was then I would much rather play that game overall because I'm getting more than "letsa go anna save da princess!" so I think the main character plays a very important role.

There is one thing I would absolutely love to see in a game though, Super Smash Brothers has only just touched on the idea in my opinion but I would love to see the main characters of games in other characters worlds, but not just to fight. I'd like the same gameplay as the game the character was from but with this new story and place to go. Obviously it would only work with similar games or else you'd have Link get shot down by a metal gear and Gordon Freeman picking up Bowser with a Gravity gun. But the fact I want this game gives me the feeling that in some cases I probably enjoy just been the hero and watching them do their stuff more than the game or the story sometimes. I'm not going to hide my opinion here, I wasn't a fan of the halo series until I purchased my 360 and gave 3 a chance, loved the game but I didn't really care for the story (yes I played 1 and 2 to get it all) but I did love been Master Chief and even though if I was anyone else I would still shoot and move the same, when I got a little CS showing me what he was doing I felt linked to him and like I was accomplishing his heroic duties lol

Now obviously a lot of you are thinking, but I hate so many game characters but love the game! Gameplay is always the biggest part of a game, I can't play Wii Sports just for a character if I don't like making masturbation movements with my wiimote it just doesn't work that way. But I'm talking about games that have both the gameplay and the characters. Generally it takes that little bit more to make a game epic and a must have, in my opinion the story or the main character can make it happen. But, there is also the villains! I mean look at all the Sephiroth and Kuja fanboys out there, you've got to love them their just such good characters. You compare them to the platform villains who just appear and go "mwuhaha I am going to take your princess/girlfriend for no particular reason and then wait for you at the end of level 100! mwuhahah" these were refined villains who made you want to be the heroes and get into the role, I couldn't wait to see more Sephiroth when I played through FF VII, when I play now it's all the better because I know when he's going to arrive and give me a slice of awesomeness (and usually a slice of his Mothers torso . . . .) so I think characters strongly portray feelings into the gamer that make you want to keep playing. It's not a "i've got to finish this level feeling" it's a "OMG did he just get the black materia, fck that lets get him!" feeling.

So what do you say? Do you care if your character is badass? Would you mind if the main villain turned out to be a dog in a special computer room (God damn you Silent Hill 2)? Look forward to the next post, because then we go deeper into your gaming mind and ask would you play a game you didn't enjoy just for an epic storyline? See ya then.   read

12:43 PM on 02.21.2008

Can you justify buying a console just for a must have game?

I have bought 2 of the 3 out of the console war for this very reason, I had to have my sequels!!

But the question I am posing is this? Can anyone really justify shelling out as much as we do, just because that console has had the foresight to make it's big hit a "insert name here" only title?

I myself had to have zelda and smash brothers(still waiting on that one) So I had my Wii pre ordered months before the UK release and got it the day it came out. Where has it left me? Collecting the last few stars available on Super Mario Galaxy. Now don't get me wrong, I love that game and everything about it and I've h ad some fun with the party titles and look forward to purchasing No More Heroes when I get some cash. But I don't think I can honestly say I'm going to get my moneys worth so far. True the Wii is trying and it's still waiting for some more big hits, but I feel as though I was promised more than this. Even if Smash Brothers had been on release I would have only had that game really to show for it (which after Melee I wouldn't have minded so much). But since theres still plenty on the horizon for the wii I shall move onto my main debate.

Do I really have to get a PS3?

Now before we start I originally wanted a PS3 to go with my 360, because even though this is my first take on a xbox product I wanted both for seperate reasons which I applaud Sony and Microsoft for since they marketed them both well. I would have loved my media powerhouse that will have Metal Gear and Final Fantasy on it's way because then incase of Blue Ray invasion I am ready and willing to be taken over. And with Microsoft I've got all the live shops awesome games, an great multiplayer games that my pc can't run unless I upgrade. But the thing is, when you look closely now there is a genuine lack of difference between the two. Blue ray is good and all that, but it doesn't make me want a PS3, Metal Gear Solid 4 does! But even with Home and PSN I can't really see the need to have another console sat on my floor sucking power from my house in order to turn on. Now I am a huge fan of Metal Gear and followed it from the PSX (never tried the originals before that) and I loved the remake on GC and portable ops was pretty fun too. But I can't be serious in thinking that as soon as I hear Hideo Kojima isn't going to port MGS4 to my beloved 360 that I willingly go into the shop and a get a full version of a PS triple.

Many of my friends recently came before me in their hour of need, they had the predicament that I wasn't playing on my PC as much and they needed help with "insert MMO time consumer" and "insert FPS team to lead" and asked me what I was doing with all my time. After explaining to them the wonders of my 360 4 of my friends purchased one within the week and have never been happier. But all of them love MGS and FF and I cannot tell them at all what I think they should do now.

So I leave the question to you fellow Dtoiders, can anyone really justify needing a game so much they will spend up to 5 times the games cost to purchase the console to run it on. I mean this isn't Rock Band (which I am waiting for) this is something that could run on another of the consoles that would be more worth my time. This isn't meant to start another console war conversation btw I am mainly interested in peoples experiences if they have ever purchased a console just for a certain game (i'd assume a gamecube mainly because that only had 10 worthwhile games but all of them were worth 20 PS2 ones).   read

9:29 AM on 02.21.2008

Final Fantasy systems, which one worked the best?

Final Fantasy, what a series . . . but after playing XII I'm not counting the days until XIII

Now I'm a big fan of the final fantasy series, I've played all of them multiple times (excluding XI which I'm still struggling through but loving every second of) and each of them I love for different reasons. For some it's the epic stories that these games give, each with it's own unique setting and group of characters travelling the world collecting exp skills and fighting whatever evil is normally threatening the planet this time. But after playing them all through a second, third and in the playstation one series fourth fifth and sixth time I begin to realise that the feeling of enjoyment these games give is an all round combination of great things the game is presenting the player. The most important of these been the system of player advancement (Yay he's actually talking about the topic!). These systems in my opinion can really effect how much of a success the game is, I mean yeah there will always be fanboys dying their hair silver wrapping tin foil around 6 stuck together rulers telling people that the reunion is coming no matter how much they change the systems in each game, but for me once you've gotten the story finished your going to need a genuinely fun game to make you replay and sink those hours in to find every GF Aeon Avatar summoned creature.

First of all I will say this, since the majority of people out there are idiots who say "Screw playing old games I'm waiting for teh remakes with da awesome grafix!!!1!!" I have decided to only comment on the most popular of the series and ones with a defined system (since most of the original stick to auto level up where you will gain abilities and stats without much choice). So to kick things off I'm going to talk about the main event so people who get this far can see a picture that will release nostalgic puppy love for their cherished playstation pal I'm going to start with the systems that worked the best, starting with Final Fantasy VII (cue fanboys).

Final Fantasy VII - The best Final Fantasy System

I think it is safe to say that most gamers out there will agree with me that Final Fantasy VII had the best character progression system. It wasn't too easy to require no input and it wasn't too hard to master.

This system for those of you out there who haven't played the game (and must obviously stay at home killing small animals for fun) I will explain how the system worked and why it was good. This system was based on small gems called Materia which are if I remember correctly the result of the planets life force becoming compressed (so like magical coal), these gems would grant the user special abilities strengths and powers if they had them equipped. Equipping them was a simple process, you had a section on your menu called Materia and it worked pretty much like equipping weapons, there was no requirement for Materia apart from having a spare slot in you weapon or armour pieces )different equipment allowing more slots etc), so you just picked the character you wanted to equip the Materia on and slap it into a slot. Now if that wasn't easy enough for you the Materia themselves are colour co-ordinated to let you know what they are going to give you. Greenish colour was magic and normally gave you minus effects to your stats in order to grant you this power and would cost you MP per cast, Red was a summoned creature and basically like magic except you could only cast the summon the same amount of times the level of the Materia was (we'll get onto this next), Yellow was for command abilities these don't cost MP to use and can give extra abilities in battle such as sense which allowed you to see the enemies stats, support materia was blue and these added a bit of genius to the game, support materia could be used with other materia pieces equipped, the most common of these was "all" if your item had a slot that had a kind of joint between two slots it meant that support Materia could be placed in one of the slots to combine it with another materia. For example, equipping "Cure" "All" would make it so that for the level your all materia was when the player cast Cure it would be cast on all of your party members. Lastly there was the beneficial materia that was purple, equipping this gave the player stat boosts such as HP+ materia which gave you a % increase of health, these were great but quite expensive early on in the game but indeeed very worth the Gil.

Now Materia would have been a pretty lame system if the Materia themselves didn't get any better, because you'd just put them on at the start only to chuck them later for the next best thing (Much like Daddy does with all my new mommies), so the brilliant people at Square (Enix now) allowed materia to level up much like the characters of the game. After a battle the player would gain EXP and AP depending on what he just killed, Experience points went to levelling up your characters which when they did so automatically gave them more attack strength health defense etc etc so it was only your customisation with Materia that mattered, now AP went towards Materia that was equipped once they had enough they would become a higher level Materia allowing for either more casts of them in battle, a higher stat benefit or a brand new spell altogether aswell as the old one! This system worked so well, because just when stuff was starting to get harder you'd start pulling out Fire 2 spells and Cure 2 when your health was getting a bit big for your weaker spells. Even better than that, once you fully levelled a piece of Materia it created a new level 1 piece of the same type for you for free! This system was the best in my opinion because not only did it allow customisation of who had what skills and after having the skill long enough let the players strength advance, but it was simple enough to not require hours of planning to make sure you've mapped each character properly in order to get certain abilities at the end of the game. You just happily went through getting stronger finding/buying Materia and giving it to whoever you wanted, letting you have every character setup exactly how you wanted them. Which originally was a welcome change to the Final Fantasy system since it normally relied on setting characters to be certain job classes to work together properly, White mage for healing, Black mage for damage and Warrior to melee etc. So because of this ease of play and versatility of customisation Final Fantasy VII had the best system.

But now since it is hard to rate all of the systems in order I'm going to jump straight to the worse system and then afterwards sort out the leftovers and explain why they missed being either.

Final Fantasy XII - The worse Final Fantasy System

Now first of all let me state this, Final Fantasy XII was a good game and I'm sure I'm going to get attacked by the masses by saying it was bad but I just found that the license board was a bad idea and drastically lowered my experience of the game(and that's before I just set Gambits on and watched myself do nothing -_-).

When I first played the American release of the game (Been a British resident myself and waiting an extra year to play our version) I was so high on the intro and finally getting a new FF that I didn't mind the system, it seemed a nice change seeming almost similar to the FFVII idea of customise each character how you want and just level up through the game. But after a few hours, enemies seemed to get harder and I seemed to still lack most of my party members having cure or protect on them. So i decided I'd go back and grind a bit since the license points on this game which are required to better yourself can be farmed off the first monsters you come in contact with you just won't really level up off them. It was here that I took a deeper look into the license board mechanic and began to evaluate it in my head (as I tend to do with a lot of games I play), when I realised that this was a completely stupid system. Reasons? You want reasons? I'd better explain first how the system works, as in the picture above you have a grid with some pictures on it, these are your licenses these are required to gain abilities, summons, equip certain items and be able to cast certain magic. So like in the older final fantasy games you would buy magic from a shop and then be able to use it with characters who had learnt it. You gained points for everything you killed seperate to your EXP which were similar to AP but these were LP, these enabled you to buy licenses off the board, which in turn would unlock the surrounding licenses around them. So step by step you would progress through this grid finding and buying the licenses. Thats pretty much it, Ok then, lets create a list so we can get through this one:

1) The first thing players will realise is, unless you buy a guide book there is no way to know what the hell you are aiming for since as I said you unlock them after buying the ones you could already see, so until you've unlocked them you only get a rough bit of text description at the top of the screen telling you what type it is(equipment, ability etc).
2) The actual locations of the licenses didn't make much sense from the beginning, in my own experience I was trying to gain the points to allow Basch to use a Katana because that would have been sweet looking, but as I spent up all my LP moving around the equipment section I could not find it, when I shelled out for a guide I found it next to guns and daggers, these weapons have no similarity! Why on earth if they were going to have a guessing game system would they put them in these orders!?
3)I never actually understood why you had to buy licenses for the exact item you wanted to equip, I mean if it was a training idea that would have been fine by me. Learn how to use a sword and shield, boom! Done and done, let's go buy some magic. But why on earth everytime I find a weapon do I need to waste my points on been able to use it!?! If it's still a sword I can't see why he would forget "oh you swing it AT the enemies"
4) Now this was the thing that after the other listed problems clinched the deal for me, everyone could equip and use every spell if you got them enough points, the strongest weapons in the game were basically like 2 handed weapons, so if you have a guide or fall onto the right direction by luck. Buy the weapons and get everyone using a polearm for example, your done. Screw magic, get cure spells learnt and if you want to really go for it berserk since you'll be unbeatable then and that's it. Back in other games everyone has always had their own particular weapon style, but in this there was no jobs, no weapons just your preferance. Sure people will praise it for this, but not me. I liked Balthier using a gun, because he was so cool. But when I had to give him something else just to keep the damage up he just didn't look right!

Basically that is it, the system was bad in my opinion. If you grinded enough (which was boring due to the fighting system that require no real input unless you wanted to just run around and click) then the not seeing a path on the board wasn't too much of a problem, but overall it didn't make much sense to me at all why they would do this. The story was excellent but because of the fighting system and advancement system it made finishing this game a real struggle for me. That been said, my actual favourite FF game was FF VIII which I'm going to go onto next, because even though it is once again a make each character what you want system it's the runner up for bad system ideas and has put many people off the idea of playing FF VIII which is a total shame.

Final Fantasy VIII - Almost but not quite

Doesn't look too complicated does it? Almost reminds you of VII yeah? Well take a look at this:

Still think junctioning is cool? But seriously, I actually loved this system apart from one major flaw I'm going to dive straight into. You used magic as items . . . . no wait come back, its not that bad! Basically junctioning worked by assigning a GF (Guardian Force) to a character which you have unlocked and then setting what magic your player has to certain stats and abilities the GF allows you to use. For example, Ifrit amongst other stats will allow you to set magic to the Strength stat allowing you to do more melee damage depending on what spell you set to it and how much of that spell you have (100 been the most). Now that doesn't sound too bad at first, but how do you get the magic I hear you ask. Well, you draw it with an ability called draw. This can be used on special draw points that are scattered around locations and allow you to take what magic they have once in a while or take it from enemies in battle. It can also be harvested from certain items, but that comes later with a GF ability so we'll keep it simple.

Say you've equipped a GF to each of your three characters and given them all the draw command (you had to choose out of which commands you had which 5 they could use, unlike the limitless FFVII) and you get into battle with a red dragon. Now straight away you think, I'm pretty low on fire spells and could use som strong ones to add to my Str. So you get everyone to select draw on it and low and behold it has "fira" "Scan" and "Fire" on it, so you get them all to stock up on fira magic. Now drawing allows you to stock magic from enemies by giving you a random amount, normally between 1 and 9 per draw. So getting 100 can take absolutely ages. Once you've got them though your fine to junction away your stats with your best magic for the job. The problem arises that if you were to use any of the magic you have junctioned (indicated when in battle with a little square next to its name) you stat would lose some of it's benefit. So the game kind of pushes you into the direction of not using magic. Which I find more and more in the "make your own character" final fantasy systems that they try and push you towards just been melee machines and only really using magic to heal and buff. But that's just my opinion, generally I'd prefer to see every Final Fantasy VIII character melee because they have some cool weapons and only really one or two look like they wouldn't hit very hard.

Now the problem I find people have with junctioning is quite simple, there not going to spend all their time in the game just drawing and not attacking. So their range of magic will be quite small and won't be of large quantities. The system allows you to have magic placed onto things like your elemental attack and defense which I thought was a great idea, because as it shows in one of the tutorials, putting sleep magic onto your attack can cause the enemies to go to sleep etc. The problem here been if your not going to switch it for different fights you can get stuck healing a monster with the same element as your attack. Generally though if you can get the magic the system is easy, it comes with an "auto" feature which is a great add on for those who just want to play. You choose either Attack Defense or Health for this, and it sets up your strongest beneficial magic to that stat and works down. So for most you can easily be doing 9000+ damage quite early on. Again it plays like FFVII and XII where you gain EXP just to level up and then this time AP which levels up your GFs, these have their own individual system where yo select what ability you want them to learn next. Simple stuff like the ability to junction magic to Str and then great abilities like refining magic from items. This helps the system a lot I find, because if you take an hour or two to get through the learning curve you can customize your characters easily and effectively without wasting much time. It's not quite as simple as Materia but it's not stupid like the license board so I think this system is as good as it is bad to be honest.

Since this blog is kind of going on forever I think I'm going to end it now with FF X since I was originally going to do IX as well but that generally isn't a very different system. It's job based, works great and is really simple so it would be a close runner up for VII if not for the lack of customisation.

Final Fantasy X - The second best system

Now this was a good final fantasy system, X generally has been rated one of the best Final Fantasy games. Like 6 was king of the snes and 7/9 were joint rulers of the playstation 1 FF 10 definately dominated the PS2 scene. I think with this system, the battle system story and overall look and feel of the game definately helped with it. To some this is what the license board tried to learn from, but in reality this was the better of the two.

Final Fantasy X went back to it's routes like 9 had done, and had each character a set job class. Each job was better at their own thing, white magic, black magic, ranged attacks etc. and each of these had their own place on the sphere grid. This was a large grid filled with empty nodes that certain sphere items could be entered into. I haven't played X in ages now so forgive me if I'm wrong but I think you gained points to put spheres into your grid everytime you levelled up rather than points for levelling and points for just the sphere grid. But I'll have to check during my next play through :P Either way it worked to the fact that abilities, stats and magic were available through the sphere grid. Each requiring a seperate sphere item that you had obtained. Some better than others, like for a stat node if you had a +2 Str sphere you could put that in and gain 2 more to your strength but there were rarer spheres out there going all the way to +5. If i remember correctly there were special spheres that let you clear all your nodes so you could replace them all with higher level stat+ spheres maxing out your stats.

For me this system worked because it let you choose your path through the grid and let you look ahead for what was coming and where it would lead. You could use points to backtrack through your trail as well so you didn't have to just keep pushing on if you ended up somewhere you hadn't forseen. Now what some people did that I quite liked to see people do was send the White Mage down the black mages path and get some damaging spells in her arsenal for a change. This kind of choice you could make really opened up the system to me. Originally on my first play through I didn't see the point in it, because I just followed each characters set path, so I just had to click for a while then continue. But on recent playthroghs I try more and more to aid myself beat the hardest side monsters (Dark Aeons etc). All in all this system worked great and the only reason I rate it second to VII is because the fact that the rarer items you have making you stronger is a nice touch but at the same time, a bit annoying. I'd prefer to just have it automatically done or just let me choose the path for set bonuses rather than only been able to go certain places if I had the right sphere item. But then things would be too easy so at the same time I see why they did it I just think it lets it down a little.

My detail on X was lacking a but this blog soon turned into a monologue so don't chastise me too badly it's my first blog >.< Looking forward to comments though on what your favourite systems were and why! Even disagreeing posts would be nice to see :P Next time I'll keep it short and simple, I just wanted to let people know that I think XII greatly dampened the series for me and from what I've seen of XIII it looks great but dear god I'm hoping its job based or at least has a simple system that doesn't involve a damn grid lol   read

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