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Hey all, the name’s Justin and I’ve been hanging around Destructoid since late 2006. It’s okay if you don’t recognize me from way back when, as I was originally known as TheGoldenDonut (and still am in the forums). I joined the staff in 2007 as a News Contributor after flooding the tip line on a daily basis, and then I got to write stuff on the front page. Now I mostly just bum around while doing grad school stuff. I'm also learning to code a bit.

That hip, guitar-playing bear is from Kokoro Scan.
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If you know anything about Japanese role-playing videogames, then you probably know something about the Final Fantasy series. With fourteen numbered entries and a number of spin-offs over the past 26 years, the games have become one of the most well-known franchises gaming has. Odds are, if someone has played a JRPG at some point it probably had Final Fantasy somewhere in the title. The series has come to represent the JRPG genre almost like a sort of mascot. But it has mascots of its own that are pretty popular in their own right: moogles and chocobos.

It's the chocobo that I'm concerned with today. Since their inclusion in Final Fantasy II, the beloved chicken-ostrich things have won people over with their adorable kweh's and their ability to outrun monsters on the world map. Having a catchy theme tune hasn't hurt either. The duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-duuuuh that accompanies chocobos has been around for as long as they have, and like their character designs it's always different from game to game. But which duh's are the best duh's?

If duh's were actual chocobos running a race in the Gold Saucer, which would be the fastest and which would be left behind in the dust? These are questions we have somehow never addressed here at Destructoid. (According to the search bar, at least.) So it is that I have taken it upon myself, dear readers, to search through every Original Soundtrack in order to discover which chocobo themes are the S-classed members of the breed.

[Header image from Hyadin's "Rap de Chocobo"]

Unhonorable Mention: "Chocobo" – Final Fantasy X-2

Before we get to the top ten, let's take a quick look at the chocobo that came in last place. The simply titled "Chocobo" is probably not what anyone would expect from a song by that name. While some of the chocobo themes can sound pretty different from one another initially, they all contain elements that make them easily identifiable as chocobo songs. This one has a piano refrain that zips by, and, uh – some other stuff. “Mods de Chocobo” is another theme that's a little out there, but at least in its case the out there stuff is still alright.

This is definitely the dark chocobo of the family. Except it can't cross extra types of terrain. Now let's move onto the winners …

Honorable Mention: “Crazy Chocobo” – Final Fantasy XIII-2

… right after we cover the honorable mention. Really, there's no way that I couldn't mention the metal-themed “Crazy Chocobo” in this list in some form. Not with lyrics like this:

You're loco if you think you're gonna hide this chocobo
Everybody's gonna wanna ride your chocobo
It's choco-loco style in a choco-rodeo
Gonna ride him straight through hell in this chocobo rodeo!
Yeah, let's ride!

Brilliant. “Crazy Chocobo” may not have made the top ten – it was too busy throwing up devil horns (feathers?) and stopping to play air guitar for the crowd – but it gets an A for the effort it put into lapping mad.

10th Place: “Chocobo's Theme” - Chocobo Racing

There's always been something about the slightly goofy version of the chocobo theme from PlayStation racer Chocobo Racing that I've found endearing. The tune makes it easy to imagine Mog chiding Chocobo in Cid's workshop while he finishes up Chocobo's motorized in-line skates. Yep, when chocobos are serious about racing they put on skates with big, hot-rod like exhaust pipes.

9th Place: “Chocobo Final Fantasy XII Arrange Ver.1” – Final Fantasy XII

Final Fantasy XII's default chocobo theme isn't bad by any means, but it is missing two things that allowed this alternate version to pull ahead right before the finish line: a glockenspiel and castanets.

8th Place: “Fiddle de Chocobo” – Final Fantasy VII

I was somewhat torn between choosing this track and Final Fantasy XII-2's “Rodeo de Chocobo.” I like both of them for similar reasons, such as their great energy. It's not difficult at all to imagine chocobos running around the countryside when listening to either of them. One thing I really like about “Fiddle de Chocobo” though, is its stronger barnyard roots. It epitomizes the domesticated chicken side of the chicken-ostrich ratio.

Also, there is a guy who yells “Yahoo!” Trade secret: yelling yahoo makes chocobos run faster; like painting tanks red.

7th Place: “Chocobos of Pulse” – Final Fantasy XIII

A lot of people may have had problems with Final Fantasy XIII – myself included – but at least one solid part of the game was this jazzy chocobo theme. The game's other theme, “Chocobos of Cocoon,” was unable to place due to so-so singing and a less interesting synth-pop melody.

6th Place: “Dash de Chocobo” – Final Fantasy XI

You'd think a song with dash in the title would be fast-paced, but Final Fantasy XI's “Dash de Chocobo” turns out to be quite the laid back affair. It has a relaxing quality similar to Final Fantasy IX's “Aloha de Chocobo,” except with a wider instrument range. This is the kind of music that I can imagine playing while a hero and trusty chocobo sidekick take a break in a grassy field, each with a piece of straw in their mouth/beak.

5th Place: “Brass de Chocobo” – Final Fantasy X

Can you imagine Bill Nye the Science Guy swing dancing to this song? I can, and that certainly didn't hurt its odds.

4th Place: “Chocobo's Merry Christmas” – Chocobo's Mysterious Dungeon

What's that? You didn't know that there was a chocobo Christmas song? Yep, it's from the lesser known spin-off game Chocobo's Mysterious Dungeon on the PlayStation. Chocobos plus Christmas is an amazing enough combination to get this theme right outside of the top three.

3rd Place: “Chocobo's Theme” – Final Fantasy III

If you want a good old-fashioned chocobo theme without any fancy smancy gimmicks, then look no farther than this bronze medal winner. “Chocobo's Theme” is the classic theme that started it all, except cleaned up a little nicer than the actual theme that started it all from Final Fantasy II.

2nd Place: “Mambo de Chocobo” – Final Fantasy V

Someone at Square-Enix (Uematsu, at least) must like this silver medal winner. Not only did it make it's way into Theatrhythm as a bonus song and sneak into Dissidia as an extra, but Final Fantasy IX's “Ukelele de Chocobo” seems to take some strong cues from it.

It's no wonder that they dig it, since it's got everything a great chocobo song needs: one of those ribbed wooden fish things you drag a stick over and a guy who says “Hua!” at regular intervals. An instant classic, but it still wasn't able to unseat the current champion.

1st Place: “Techno de Chocobo” – Final Fantasy VI

It's only fitting that the best chocobo theme belongs to the best Final Fantasy game. I can't count the number of times I've hopped onto a chocobo in Final Fantasy VI even after getting the airships just because of how great this theme is. Just listen to those echoing “kewh's”! Just listen to that disembodied voice saying “cho-co-bo”! This song has everything a chocobo theme needs, right down to the crackling noise of electricity in the background (which is necessary to power the motorized in-line skates). And so it is that it, and only it, is fit to receive the coveted gold trophy of this top ten list.

Disagree with the ranking? Think I left something off? I'll agree that depending on the race conditions some of these songs could shift places – the musical quality of the Final Fantasy series is just that strong!

Willem Dapho: We Bought a Vietnamese Restaurant but It Blew up on Accident, So We Had to Build a New One, and We'll Call It Willem Dapho

Writer: Justin Villasenor
Director: Jim Sterling
Executive Producer: Conrad Zimmerman
Associate Producer: Jonathan Holmes
Asian Consultant: Colette Bennett

[The scene opens inside Le Château Exclusivité.]

Famed Hollywood actor Willem Dafoe and his best buddy Brendan Fraser (played by Brendan Fraser) are unable to get a table at Le Château Exclusivité, the
finest french restaurant in all of the Hollywood Hills.

"Yoiu av'e become a vahsed uhp azz'bin," the Rude French Host (played by William Shatner) tells famed Hollywood actor Willem Dafoe. "Naow goh eh'vay!"

"A has been?" famed Hollywood actor Willem Dafoe responds. "How can you call me that when William Shatner is over there eating a plate full of juicy snails?!"

[Camera pans to table where William Shatner (played by Danny DeVito) is eating a plate heaped full of dead french snails.]

William Shatner waves at Dafoe and Fraser. "Hey, famed Hollywood actor Will'am Dafoe! It's me! William Shatner played by Danny DeVito! Damn, these snails are good and juicy!” William Shatner picks up handfuls of snails and shoves them into his eager mouth. He doesn't chew. The slurping sound of cooked invertebrates echoes throughout the restaurant.

[Camera pans back to Willem Dafoe, Brendan Fraser, and the Rude French Host.]

Willem Dafoe shakes his fist in anger. “I'll get revenge against all of yah! Against you, Rude French Waiter,” Dafoe points accusingly at the waiter (still played by William Shatner) who cowers in fear, “fer trying to exclude the biggest star in Hollywood when all he wants is a plate of goddamn snails fer lunch. And you, William Shatner,” Dafoe adds as he moves the vengeful gaze of his index finger to William Shatner played by Danny DaVito, “fer not offering to share any of your snails with me and my best pal Brendan Fraser. You've got more snails than any man has a right to!”

[Cut to exterior of Le Château Exclusivité.]

“Oi, Willhum, ohw're yu gohin'tuh ghet rahvenge agaighnst thoe schoundrills?” asks Brendan Fraser.

“Thank you for asking in your usual Scottish accent,” Willem Dafoe says. “I have a plan, but first we need to get something to eat. The lunch hour's almost over!”

[Cut to interior of Vietnamese restaurant.]

“I have no idea what kind of place this is,” Willem Dafoe grumbles. “They better have some food though, because I'm starving. Why don't you order for us Brendan Fraser?”

Brendan Fraser pounds his fist on the table and then sweeps it across the flat surface, knocking their menus to the floor. “Oi! Whaitar! Brhing uhs yur fhin'est haggis, or, fhail'n tha't, yur bhest newdle soop sherved with e'ither beef or chick'n ahnd the newdles should be mhade with rhice flour apparent'ly!”

The Waiter (played by Jim Carrey) approaches the table immediately. He sets down large, steaming bowls in front of both Fraser and Dafoe. They each take a bite.

“Blimey!” exclaims Brendan Fraser.

“Blimey!” exclaims Willem Dafoe. “This is the best pho I've ever had in my life, even though I didn't even know what it was until just now for some reason.” Dafoe gives the Waiter a check for $50,000 as his tip. The Waiter looks at it, confused, and then hands Dafoe a piece of paper. “Is this fer tax purposes or something?” Dafoe asks as he signs the paper. The Waiter, silent, walks out the back door with only the check in hand. He and the Chef (played by Conan O'Brien) leave the restaurant forever, although Dafoe and Fraser have not realized the significance of this yet.

“Hey, bald Waiter guy!” Dafoe calls after the Waiter (played by Jim Carrey who was wearing a bald cap by the way) “You fergot yer receipt or whatever this paper I haven't even looked at yet is!”

“Cor blimey!” says Brendan Fraser. “Willhem, tha's no receipt, tha's a deed. You jus' bought this Vietnamese restaurant!”

“So I did, Brendan Fraser,” says Dafoe. “And now that I have this Vietnamese restaurant, I can finally put my plan of revenge against Shatner and Shater played by Danny DaVito into action.”

“Uh oh,” says Fraser. “I smell trou'ble.”

[Violin plays a comic refrain to emphasis the crazy antics of Brendan Fraser.]

“That's not trouble you smell,” says Willem Dafoe. “It's gas! That clutz Conan O'Brien forgot to turn both the stove and the oven off and he left a lit cigar on the counter even though he doesn't smoke!”

[Montage begins to play. It starts with a still of Dafoe and Fraser jumping out of the exploding restaurant, and shows them rebuilding it with their own two hands.]

[Five years later....]

“Ok, that should do it.” Willem Dafoe says as he pounds in the last nail. “It took us a while to get a building that didn't fall over, Brendan Fraser, but now we finally have the perfect tool of revenge: the best new Vietnamese restaurant in the state of California: Willem Dapho.”

Brendan Fraser applauds. Too moved for words.

[As applause starts the camera pans back to show a building that looks exactly the same as the one five years ago, except the sign now reads Willem Dapho, instead of whatever it said before.]

“Ih's bee'utiful,” Fraser finally manages.

“It sure is buddy,” Dafoe says. “The most beautiful means of revenge I ever did see. AH HAHAHAHAHA!”

“Cant you jus' giv' uhp on yur rhevenge, Willhem? Think a' how good tha' bowl a' pho made you feel fahve years ahgo. I dun whant our food ta' be tainted with nehgative emotions. I want it ta' mahke people 'appy and smilin' an whatnot.”

“That's a good point Brendan Fraser, but my need for revenge has yet to cool over these five long years. I even turned down that key role in Star Wars Episode VIII as the new Sith Lord just so I could devote all my time and energy to get this place completed. And now I'm going to use it.”

“Ach, no,” Brenda Fraser says.

[Violin plays a sad refrain to emphasis how uncertain Fraser is over this continued path of revenge.]

Willem Dafoe holds up a newspaper. The headline reads: “Vietnamese Ambassador Comes to Hollywood. Definitely Going to Eat at Le Château Exclusivité First. Can Any Other Restaurant Top His Meal There? That Restaurant Would Surely be Proclaimed the Best Restaurant in All of California if It Did.”

[The camera stays focused on him for 15 minutes. Then it pans over to show Fraser's shocked expression. It stays focused on him for 15 more minutes.]

“Well, that's 30 minutes down,” Willem Dafoe says. “Now it's time to cook up some revenge.”

[Cut to the interior of Willem Dapho, some hours later.]

Every chair is filled by excited observers. The Vietnamese Ambassador (played by Mitt Romney) sits at a table with William Shatner (played by Danny DeVito) and William Shatner (playing the Rude French Host). The flashbulbs of vintage, 1920s cameras create bursts of light as the press attempts to capture this historic moment.

“Well here you go your highness.” Willem Dafoe nonchalantly plops down a bowl of pho in front of the Vietnamese Ambassador. The Ambassador takes a long sip.

[40 seconds later.]

Dafoe asks “So how's the soup Mitt Romney, who was definitely robbed in the 2012 presidential election am I right folks?”

The Ambassador shrugs. “It's okay.”

“Ha! In your face William Shatner played by Danny DaVito and also in your face William Shatner playing the Rude French Host!” Willem Dafoe jumps onto a table, knocking plates, bowls, and silverware to the floor. “I've finally gotten my revenge!” He throws his arms into the air to emphasize the revenge that he just got.

Both William Shatners leave in shame. Willem Dafoe continues to stand upon the table, arms held aloft.

[45 minutes later.]

Everyone in the restaurant has left. Willem Dafoe lowers his arms. “That's right,” he says, “I still have to tell my best buddy Brendan Fraser about how successful I was at getting my revenge.” He jumps off the table and bounds into the kitchen.

“Hey Brendan Fraser, you'll never guess what good thing happened to me exactly 45 minutes ago...!”

[Violin plays a dissonant chord.]

Willem Dafoe stares in horror at Brendan Fraser's mangled body, which is writhing in pain on the kitchen floor. “Brendan Fraser!” Dafoe shouts. “No! Who or what did this to you?!”

Brendan Fraser beckons him closer. When his ear is directly inside Brendan Fraser's mouth, he can just make out a whispered “Revenge.”

Willem Dafoe screams a scream of rage and pain even more intense than that time someone else did it in another movie. He falls to his knees and slams his fists into the tiled floor. “How could I have let revenge get in the way of our friendship which eventually ended in your death for some reason? Well, I've definitely learned my lesson now: no more revenge for me. Also, I'm closing Willem Dapho. The memories here are much too painful.”

Willem Dafoe stands. He gazes at Brendan Fraser's shredded limbs with nostalgia. “But before I can start my life over, I have to tell the world about the way you lived yours. If I didn't do that much, your lovely wife Debra Messing played by herself would never forgive me.” Dafoe bends over to pick up Fraser's severed hand off the ground. He clasps it firmly in his own. “I swear on this handshake that I'll make a movie so great that no one will ever forget the man you once were.”

[Cut to a dark room.]

Willem Dafoe sits, with his back to the camera. In front of him is a typewriter. He slowly lifts his hands and types.

[As he begins to type, the camera moves closer and looks over his shoulder.]

The freshly typed words “Willem Dapho” are visible on the paper fed into the typewriter.

Willem Dafoe awkwardly twists his neck around to look up at the camera. “What?” he says with a smile and a wink. “Hadn't you figured it out yet? This is that movie to honor my best dead friend Brendan Fraser.”

[The camera shoots up into the air. The city of Hollywood is visible, then California, then the Earth and moon. It stops once the entire solar system is in view.]

The storms on Jupiter warp into the face of none other than Brendan Fraser. He laughs heartily.

[Violin plays a jaunty folk tune to emphasis a hope for the future and Brendan Fraser's humble, rural upbringing.]

“Tha's a good un, Willhem,” he says in his deep Scottish voice.

[Fade to black.]

The End

Lost Odyssey is Mistwalker's second Xbox 360 exclusive Role Playing Game. Mistwalker's first game, last year's Blue Dragon, was met with mixed receptions. Microsoft was eager to give them another chance, not only to increase the amount of genres available on their console - it has gained something of a reputation for being heavily populated by shooters - but to also gain ground in the Japanese market, which is notoriously fond of RPGs. It's fortunate, then, that Mistwalker took the experience gained from Blue Dragon to heart; as Lost Odyssey is not only better optimized for the hardware, but also in possession of a more emotionally satisfying story that should have no problem attracting both Eastern and Western audiences.

Lost Odyssey is set in a world that has just undergone an industrial revolution - although powered by magic, rather than steam - and follows a man by the name of Kaim Argonar. As is quickly discovered during a cataclysmic event at the beginning of the game, Kaim is actually immortal, and though he looks young has been alive for at least 1000 years. It's also quickly discovered that Kaim has no memory of those past 1000 years. Yeah, a main character with amnesia -- the overused fantasy clich -- rears its ugly head yet again. But while this implementation of memory loss may at first seem contrived, how Mistwalker uses it as a springboard for excellent storytelling and character development makes its inclusion more than forgivable.

You see, every now and then, Kaim will come across sights and sounds that bring up a previously obscured memory. Taking the form of a waking dream, these memories are displayed to the player in the form of a short story -- with subtle backgrounds, music and sound effects helping to set the tone. While not directly related to the goings-on of the main storyline, these memory-stories -- the collective whole of which is referred to as "A Thousand Years of Dreams" -- written by acclaimed Japanese novelist Kiyoshi Shigematsu, are expertly crafted, and compliment the rest of the game by being very, very sad. While the story and events of Lost Odyssey are plenty emotional on their own, the inclusion of "A Thousand Years of Dreams" not only helps to keep players in a tear-induced state, but also serves to flesh out Kaim's personality.

Though Kaim may at first come off as the archetypical gruff and brooding swordsman in the first few hours of play, these memories of tragedy, loss, constant displays of humanity's capacity for wickedness, and the realization that Kaim, with his immortal body, will forever be forced to continue his lonely journey without ever being granted an eventual and final rest, really helps endear him to the player. Likewise, moments of hope, friendship and happiness -- however fleeting or bittersweet -- brings the player feelings of reassurance and inspiration with the notion that one's life, no matter how sad or lonely, isn't comprised solely of negative occurrences, and that there is a reason to keep marching forward.

The gameplay of Lost Odyssey is very traditional, and should feel familiar to anyone that has played an RPG within the last 20 years. This shouldn't be too surprising, as it was headed by Hironobu Sakaguchi, the father of the Final Fantasy series. In fact, the entire game contains very little in the way of bold new innovations, but because its tried-and-true formula is implemented so well -- and tweaked just enough to feel different -- it manages to avoid feeling rehashed or stale.

Battles are random-encounter based, but thankfully avoid the frustrating convention of occurring every few steps during exploration. Battles are also strictly turn-based affairs, with the usual Attack, Magic, Defend and Hopefully Run Away Really Quickly Before That Big Thing Eats Me commands making their respective reappearances. One way Mistwalker attempted to spice things up was with the inclusion of the Ring System.

When out of battle the player can buy or construct various rings that bestow some sort of additional effect -- such as a slight damage boost, a chance to inflict an enemy with a negative status effect, gaining an elemental attribute, etc. -- to the equipped character's melee attacks. When a character begins an attack two rings will surround the targeted enemy; the outermost will quickly begin shrinking and if it's stopped -- performed by holding down and releasing the left trigger button -- exactly as it overlays the stationary ring, then the granted effect will get a slight power boost, becoming even more effective. While not particularly deep, the Ring System does encourage the player to figure out which rings work best in which environments and also serves to give them something to do between turns.

Grinding is another familiar RPG convention that Lost Odyssey alters. This is achieved by each area having a maximum level cap. While this may frustrate some - grinding is a pastime that some players take great enjoyment in - it ultimately helps the story to flow better, due to a lack of long interruptions, and serves to promote good strategy. And not just good strategy during boss fights, but during regular encounters as well. This causes every fight to feel far more engaging and tense then they otherwise might have.

Another area where Lost Odyssey forces some planning is the skill system. While mortal party members will gain skills as they level up, immortals won't learn any new skills on their own. By going into battle and earning skill points, however, immortals can eventually learn any skill a mortal they're fighting alongside knows, but only one at a time. The temporary skills granted by accessories can likewise be learned, so long as they're equipped. While it's certainly possible for a given immortal to learn every skill in the game, there are a limited number of skill slots to equip them to, requiring the player to customize them based on what is needed at the moment. While there are items that can increase the number of skill slots they tend to be few and far between.

Speaking of the party in general; while the entire cast of characters that will come to comprise the group are all around solid, enjoyable and have great voice actors, one character in particular deserves special attention. Jansen Friedh, a smart-mouthed mage that joins you early on, takes the role of the requisite smooth-talking ladies man to new heights. An early scene where he shows up late, completely drunk, with three giggling girls in tow shows what kind of companion he'll end up being -- the totally awesome kind! The way Mistwalker handled Jansen showcases a common design theme running throughout the game: taking an iconic or familiar element and then polishing it really well.

Graphically, Lost Odyssey looks wonderful. Environments and backgrounds are well detailed and character models look pretty good, although they feel a bit stiff at times, and convey emotions well enough. All these impressive graphics do come with a drawback in the form of numerous loading times. And while they don't tend to last too long, they appear with enough frequency to risk damaging the player's immersion.

Audibly, Lost Odyssey is very pleasant to listen to, which is to be expected considering veteran composer Nobuo Uematsu was put in charge of soundtrack composition. While it might not be Uemetsu's best or most memorable score, the music does a wonderful job of setting the game's tone.

While Lost Odyssey's lack of innovative or complex gameplay may be initially off-putting to RPG veterans, the emotional story and polished gameplay elements should more than make up for it. This ease of access is also what makes Lost Odyssey a perfect game for RPG newbies to cut their teeth on, serving as an excellent introduction to the genre.

Score: 8.5 (Very fun -- its essential gameplay aspects are cool and interesting, but may not be implemented in the best way.)

So I recently finished Final Fantasy X. As the first Final Fantasy game I�ve played in several years it left me feeling impressed, overall. While FFX made use of far more cutscenes than previous entries in the franchise they never became tedious � unlike in other games that have tried the same tactic, such as Xenosaga � and really helped the characters and story to grow on me. Shortly after �The End� had graced my TV, however, a nagging feeling started to develop. Something about the ending just didn�t sit quite right, although at first I wasn�t sure what felt off.

Shrugging my shoulders I decided to start on the next game in my queue, Lost Odyssey, since no answers to my vexation seemed immediately forthcoming. After getting about eight hours into the game realization finally struck: Final Fantasy X�s ending bothered me because it was too happy. That�s right, for the first time ever after finishing an RPG I was bothered that the characters I�d been aiding over the past forty hours had been successful in their world-saving quest.

Let me try to explain what I mean by that.

During the course of Final Fantasy X, when I first learned that summoning the final aeon would actually result in Yuna�s death, I was met with a moment of indecision. This quest I was trying so hard to finish would end with Yuna dying along with Sin, with the kicker being that Sin might just come back ten or so years down the line. This hesitation lasted only a moment, though. �There�s no way that Square would let a character sacrifice them self for such a hollow victory,� I immediately realized. Sure, main and supporting characters had died in past Final Fantasy games, but they either came back to life or died in the assistance of an absolute victory. And Final Fantasy X�s �victory� would be anything but absolute if the scenario were to play out this way.

Sure enough, Tidus quickly bolstered my suspicions by declaring that somehow, he�d find another way to defeat Sin even though no other options were readily available � and of course I believed him. He is the main character after all, and if anyone can make good on a promise to change a 1000 year-long cycle of death surely that would be the person to do it. But what if he hadn�t? What if, in the end, there was no alternative presented, thereby forcing a very surprised player to press the X button and resign two characters � Yuna and whomever would become the final aeon � to death? It would have floored me. Having such long running expectations shattered at the last moment would have made for an incredibly potent moment. The fact that Final Fantasy X establishes these expectations in the player so early on, and establishes the theme of sacrifice as such an important part of the narrative, is what makes this game so perfectly suited to having them used in the creation of a truly impactful ending. Of course the game�s scenario would need to have been altered for this sort of ending to be set up correctly.

The simplest ways to change it would probably be the following: Yunalesca would instead say that there was a very small chance for Sin to be permanently destroyed by the final aeon, rather than none whatsoever. This would mean Yuna would go ahead and acquire the final aeon since there was some hope of it working, while Tidus would probably volunteer to become it since he (and the player) would still be sure that some alternative could be found. Seymor would just stay dead after the third time he was killed and the idea of Yu Yevon being behind everything could just be nixed altogether -- keeping some of the mystery around Sin�s origin intact and maintaining that there is a small chance for success. The assault on Sin could then proceed as normal; hitting the weak points on the sides and top of his body, but after he becomes Overdrive Sin things would go a bit differently.

The battle would begin as normal, with the party trying to defeat him as he approaches and begins charging up his overdrive bar. In this version, however, no matter how much damage is dealt Sin can�t be stopped from delivering his overdrive and knocking everyone to within an inch of death. It wouldn�t be game over, though, as the battle would start up again with Tidus and Yuna each at 1 hp and only having one option open to them: Either they use the final aeon or Sin finishes everyone off on the next turn. By being presented in this fashion the player, still reeling from their first defeat, suddenly realizes that there is no other option, and that they�ll need to initiate the finishing blow on their own � thereby making this twist all the more engaging than if only a cutscene were used.

As if being forced to sacrifice the two main characters to defeat Sin wasn�t enough, the player would then be shocked once they realized that their victory might not even be very long-lasting. While there is a small chance that Sin could be gone forever there is also a much greater chance that Tidus and Yuna had given their lives only so that Tidus could become the next Sin after a short period of Calm. Along with trepidation another important (and very underutilized) emotion would be instilled into the player: doubt. This doubt wouldn�t only serve to make the ending more memorable due to the uncertainty over how things in Spira will ultimately turn out, but also during the play of future games. This worry that maybe not every fantasy world can be saved � regardless of the player-lead characters giving their best effort � would serve to make future games all the more suspenseful, or at the very least, keep players from taking all their other epic victories for granted.

This story direction probably wasn�t even considered by Square, however, since it would mean they couldn�t cash in on Final Fantasy X-2 (which negates what sacrifice FFX had in the first place), which is a shame, because it would have resulted in an even more surprising, emotional and memorable ending. I do enjoy the happy endings that games tend to contain, but they would mean so much more if every now and then, there was an ending that wasn�t so happy.

After being pleasantly surprised by Persona 3 last fall I immediately felt the need to go back and do a little research on the Persona series as a whole, to see what had come before. One interesting fact I discovered was that there were actually two Persona 2’s, Innocent Sin and Eternal Punishment. Unfortunately, for the large amount of un-modded PlayStation owners that don’t speak Japanese, Innocent Sin was never brought stateside by Atlus, presumably due to the amount of censoring that would have been necessary at the game’s time of release (ex: The characters kill their principal, Hitler and an army of Nazi’s invade the city towards the end of the game, homosexual party members, etc.).

Luckily, someone going by the moniker of Gemini is currently working on a fan translation for those of us that only speak the King’s English. Updates on his (her?) blog track the current level of progress and some of the problems he (she?) has experienced. Who would have thought translating a game script could cause so many bugs?

While there isn’t an official release date yet Gemini expects the patch to come out sometime around Christmas. As an added bonus for modded PlayStation and PlayStation 2 owners it seems the translated game will be runnable on those consoles. The rest of us will just have to not download a not ROM and not play it on our PCs.

[Via Siliconera]

While browsing through Sony’s GDC pics I happened to come across this picture of Chad enjoying a game that may or may not be Echochrome while Dale, Hamza and Husky watched. At first glance the scene seems innocent enough, but once a closer look is taken one fact becomes unmistakably clear: Dale and Chad didn’t discuss their outfits ahead of time.

It also seems Niero’s absence was noticed by the Sony employees at the event. “Big shout out to those who have stopped by on Day 1, like bloggers from Level Up, IGN, Gamervision, 1up, MTV Multiplayer, EuroGamer, Gametrailers, Ars Technica, Destructoid (minus the Robot, regrettably), PC World, GameDaily, TotalPlayStation.com, Gamervision, and many more.”