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10:31 PM on 04.13.2009

Those About to Die: Kilik

Here's the prick.

Kilik is the physical manifestation of fear to me.

It all started back in 2005 when Soulcalibur III was released for the ps2. Some friends of mine mentioned something along the lines of "renting Soulcalibur III and beating it together". I wasn't too familiar to the fighting game scene, but was almost positive that Soulcalibur was the crazy fighting game from the Dreamcast with the crazy clawed fellow. I decided to join them, even though I'm none to good at fighting games, my only real previous exposure to fighting games was Street Fighter II on my old Packard Bell, and the occasional round of Soulcalibur or Tekken 3 at the arcade as a young'n.

I joined my friends to "beat the game", which turned out to just be a story mode that didn't take long at all, but we were all so terrible at it, we couldn't even beat Nightmare at the end of the eight or so round tale. Regardless, I found the experience fun and decided it would make a worthy Christmas present.

I grew to enjoy the game a bit, played it with friends here and there. I would have people over and we would have some semi-competitive match-ups, even a full tournament once. I worked at my local movie theater at the time and my buddy was an assistant manager, and we had the crazy idea to hook up a ps2 and play some videogames one night after all the patrons had left.

This is where the shit hit the fan.

My friends and I all got together one night at the theater as planned. I brought my ps2 and a bunch of games ranging from Guitar Hero II to SSX3 to Soulcalibur III, but we only ended up play SCIII.

This is where my friend who will be named Trent in this article found his love. Who knows if it was the sexiness of Yoshimitsu, the appeal of playing it on a giant screen or just the game itself, but for some reason he took to it and quickly added the game to his own ps2 collection. We played a few times together and had fun with it, and college soon started and we ended up at different places but both of us continued to play.

The greatest character in Soulcalibur. Ever.

During this time he developed a love for Kilik as his champion of soul crushing, Yoshimitsu was mine. As my playtime with the game tapered off, I received reports via his roommate that he continued to play the game, religiously. For those of you familiar with the game, he found Night Terror in story mode and beat him with Kilik. If you're some super freak at Soulcalibur and aren't impressed well screw off you fighting game mutant. It's tough.

As freshman year of college ended we never really played Soulcalibur III together. But soon we both purchased PS3s (for MGS4 obviously) and soon thereafter got Soulcalibur IV. A little bit of fighting was done, but not a ton, as we were soon both whisked off for another year of college and this is where the terror starts.

Being that SCIV was blessed with online now, we decided to keep a semi-regular routine of online matches. And I soon began to see what had been brewing behind those dark clouds at his place in college. What I thought would be some fun online playtime with Soulcalibur was soon turned into a very serious affair.

While I spent my time dicking around with Yoshimitsu, I looked to the eastern sky and saw this frightful monster wielding a bo-staff descend from the dark clouds of evil. As we spent time dueling with our burning souls it became more and more apparent how dominant Kilik was. I could not beat him.

I began looking online, seeing what the Soulcalibur community thought of this staff wielding douchebag. I saw arguments claiming him to be "A n00bs character", and "cheap". I began to take these arguments and accusations to heart and saw Kilik as this slithering bitch of a snake, slithering about doing cheap moves that covered low to middle as a rising attack and a sickening amount of reach on so many of his moves.

As a result of my built in prejudice against the staff bitch, I would just say to my friend "Oh Kilik's cheap, obviously." I don't know if it's some inside rage that aside from Kilik, we're pretty close in skill, I'd put him one notch above me, but for some reason, when Kilik gets out there, it's leaps and bounds.

For all I know it could just be pure intimidation at work, knowing that I'll get my ass handed to me. Most nights we would end our series of fights with a Kilik vs. Yoshimitsu cage match. Undoubtedly I would always lose, regardless of how close I came, which was never that close. If I tried to keep my distance he could hit me far away, if I went in to attack close he would just knock me back. I could do nothing to stop his tyranny. I began to loathe Kilik's existence. I never used him myself, and my friend even laid off Kilik because how badly I was getting my ass kicked.

After a few weeks of burning souls and ass kickings received, something happened.

This happened.

Suddenly, after so many losses, this phallic symbol wielding douchebag was human. I saw him bleed before me.

Coming off this victory I became more confident against my digital rival. This wasn't just Trent vs. Me anymore, it was 20 something Rico Suave vs. Chivalrous Demon Samurai. I realized this upstart bo staff nerd face had to be put down.

Then I kept losing.

With one serious loss under Trent/Kilik's belt, he came back with a vengeance not unlike the full fury of hell itself. The struggle would continue. The swear words, the ring outs, the frustration would all be coming back.

Kilik would soon take another hiatus from battling me, because Yoshimitsu and myself were so dishonored at the stains we left on our respective family name. We committed many a seppuku to properly handle the burden of shame.

The battles would continue online with various characters, but in the end it didn't mean much. I had been shamed far too many times by Kilik. On one side I wanted to avenge the Manjitou clan, but on the other I knew what laid beyond the door of Kilik's castle. Death and despair. He would descend to the battlefield from time to time to wipe the floor and then soar back up to his fiery temple of hell.

After a semester of getting my ass kicked with only one victory to my name against the fiend, I went home for Christmas break and licked my wounds. The next semester began and Trent (aka: The physical manifestation of Kilik the baby cruncher) came to visit me at school along with two other hometown friends. Over the weekend Soulcalibur IV inevitably was booted up.

I don't remember the match specifically, but I know I schooled his pansy ass in person, shaming him in front of our other two friends (who didn't give a shit). I jumped and stood on the crouch Tom Cruise style, yelling and spitting and foaming at the mouth. I yelled in his face calling him names you would hear while playing Halo on Xbox live. The shackles of oppression were lifted. The "cheap ass" Kilik was defeated, laying a pool of blood. I cemented the moment by declaring that the last match of the day and turned off the game.

It's been awhile since that time. I don't believe we've played any Soulcalibur IV online since, it's either as a result of my poor sportsmanship victory, or the discovery of Metal Gear Online, but either way, I look forward to a day when I can best the force-of-nature Kilik a third time.

All in all, I guess Kilik isn't a "villain" that I've defeated hundreds of times as most of these articles are about, but I mainly chose this topic because whenever I do defeat Trent's Kilik, it's one of the most liberating feelings ever.

It's... how do you say it: "So Baller."   read

3:36 AM on 02.25.2009

RPG Battle: Final Fantasy VII vs. Chrono Cross

Hello Everyone,


This is a blog "series" I'm planning on doing, and I'm planning on calling it "RPG Battle" because I can't think of a better name currently. As a result of my new found interest in RPGs (see previous/first! blog post) I've decided to put them head to head one at a time to create a "favorites" list. So starting with my first two completed RPGs that aren't Pokemon games, I will continually add in RPGs in the most recent order. So my first one being Final Fantasy VII will go head to head with the second non-Pokemon RPG, Chrono Cross.

I plan on setting the RPGs against each other and ranking them on various subjects, such as: characters, music, battle system, skill/level system, art direction, main hero, main villain, nostalgia, and other things.

Keep in mind this is all my opinion, and I know when it comes to RPGs (especially the final fantasy ones, as those are the bulk of what I've done, have lined up) people will valiantly defend their favorites and such. Just remember I'm not trying to say these are the overall best, or push anything like that on anyone, simply saying what my personal preferences are. And yes, I'm late to the party on pretty much every "classic" RPG under the sun, so my nostalgia isn't really deserved, but whatever. I still feel the love. I hope we can all feel the love.

So here we go!

RPG Battle: Final Fantasy VII vs. Chrono Cross

In the blue corner!

...and in the red corner!

First Category: Characters

Being my first RPG, this cast sticks out in my book. Not to mention all the preconceived expectations I had before playing this game due to the hype and legacy it had. Was getting to it ten years late good? Probably not, but there's no way around it. Cloud, Aeris(th), Tifa, Cid, Vincent. They're all awesome. Some people hate Nomura's art style, and I'll just say that overall to his stuff, I'm mostly indifferent, but these were well defined characters visually. Each of the nine party members had their own look and aesthetic.

People can fall into the rut of just relegating to the default arguments "Ah man, cloud is such a whiny emo bitch, hur hur hur." But I'm going to say he's not. Cloud goes through a change from the start of the game to end, however much it is. Fact of the matter is, he's a dynamic character. While the rest of the cast don't really seem to go through any major changes, except for Cid and Barret I'd say, they are secondary characters, who all serve their part. While I wasn't on the edge of my seat for anyone's big turnaround, I enjoyed them. The contrast of Vincent being your stereotypical strong silent guy, to Cid's abundant cursing and smoking, to Aeris being a sweetheart. They are an enjoyable cast, together and apart.

Chrono Cross:
I'm probably going to get nailed on this part, but I've got to call it like I see it. Forty characters or whatever is way too much. Visually, the characters (that I used mind you) looked cool and different. Serge, Kid, Radius and Norris were the four characters I used the most. But when you're given room for only three characters in your party, and at times accumulating more than that in a single story event, and with around forty total... that's just absurd. Also as a result of this abundance of characters, the ones I did enjoy using suffered from it, as all characters had to mainly use stock lines said in their manner, because at any point in the game, they could be anyone. They got their initial dramatic moment upon joining the party, and that was about it. If Chrono Cross had allowed for something like four party slots and probably 20 less characters, I would've enjoyed it in this respect a lot more.

One last thing, there were WAY too many stupid little green fairy elf type characters. WAY too many.

Characters: Final Fantasy VII > Chrono Cross

Second Category: Battle System

FFVII's battle system is extremely similar to FF IV-IX. At the time I didn't know this, so I guess you could say "it was fresh". And coming from someone who had only played Pokemon up to this point was enjoyable. The ATB system was a great way to speed things up from a standard turn based system. Selecting all allies or enemies was easy to do by just going all the way left or right, and it offered up interesting variations with back and side attacks that would happen randomly. The way you could also save up your Limit Breaks in battle was a small thing I enjoyed. While some people hate them, I really enjoy the aspect of summons, crazy animations included. Overall it's easy to use and get used to.

Chrono Cross:

Okay I'll say more. I love this battle system. The aspect of stamina for varying degrees of physical attacks and spell casting is absolutely amazing. And then the incorporation of the color based attacks that are stronger or weaker depending on your character's innate colors, and the opponents, and the color field. The color field is a little gem. In the top left of the screen there are three concentric cirlces, and they are randomly colored at the start of the battle, but as a battle continues, whatever move is used most recently, that color fills the center. Next move, a new color will fill the center, and the original one will push outwards.

like this, look in the top left.

This changes battle quite a bit, as attacks with that color trait are stronger, and opposing ones are weaker as a result. Chrono Cross also has a type of summon system, but in this game you have to have the entire color field matched to that summon's type, making it a little bit of work to actually pull off a summon.

Just a fantastic battle system. A wonder to play.

Battle System: Chrono Cross > Final Fantasy VII

Third Category: Skill/Level System
I'm combining the two because to me "leveling system" doesn't seem to vary much from what I see. Some day that might change, when I'm a wiser man.

Final Fantasy has a leveling system. Experience is divided up among party members. Alright. Cool. Standard.

But as far as it's skill system goes, it has these little doo-dads called materia. I enjoyed this type of skill system, because of skills only being able to be leveled by that particular character, the skills themselves could level and then be transferred between any character. Looking at it now with the experience from other rpgs i've now played (namely FFV) It's similar to FFV's job system, but you're able to pass the jobs to anyone. So it's a nice option to be able to completely customize your party, and just have that level of freedom.

I figure since it's technically a "skill", and worth note, the Knights of the Round summon is probably the greatest thing I've seen in an RPG yet, and I was sad to find out it's not in any other final fantasy games. So what if it breaks the game in half and lets you waltz through the end of it, it's cool as hell.

Chrono Cross:
Skill wise, Chrono Cross has a very similar system to FFVII, instead of finding materia, you just find spells here and there. These spells are attributed a color. Colors that match your characters innate color type are stronger. These can be set into tiered columns that indicate the level of power they have. Though the higher the column the less spaces there are for spells to be input.

Next up is the level system. Chrono Cross employs this method of giving you a "star" for every boss you defeat, and that gives you your major stat boost, essentially a level. You can get tiny stat boosts otherwise from fighting, but they are tiny compared to the boss star upgrades. And as a result of this, you don't have to level grind at all in this game. On one side, I love this, because I don't really enjoy grinding. But on the counter side, you only have to know the strategy for the boss. Once you know that, the challenge is gone. And while yes, this is obvious for any RPG, with Chrono Cross it doesn't really give you much variation. You can't really over level and plow through for yuks, or attempt going through it again at a much lower level to challenge yourself. I like the principle of no leveling, but for some reason it didn't really hit me on this game.

BUT, FFVII is run of the mill with this department, and Chrono Cross is attempting something.

Skill/Level System: Chrono Cross>Final Fantasy VII

Fourth Category: Art Direction

Had FFVII been relegated to just Midgar, it probably would have been a clear winner. But as it stands it can't really compare. While I really do enjoy the sci-fi-ish feel of FFVII way more than Chrono Cross, the environments start to get a bit repetitive looking.

If I'm allowed to squeeze character design in here, FFVII MURDERS Chrono Cross.

Chrono Cross:
Shit looks good. About all I can say.

If I'm allowed to squeeze character design in here, FFVII MURDERS Chrono Cross. I can take only so many two foot tall grassy sprite/fairy/elf type characters vying for a spot on my three person team out of like 30 some other characters.

Art Direction: Chrono Cross=Final Fantasy VII

Fifth Category: Protagonist

I'm not even going to post a picture of Cloud.

Starting with the surface, I know FFVII/Cloud/Sephiroth/FF in general/JRPGs catch a lot of shit for "ooh women characters" and all that but screw it. Cloud looks cool. He's one hell of a stylish protagonist. Big cliche anime sword, all that. It's rad. I played the game before seeing advent children, but I was finally sold on the game when he shows up with a fucking motorcycle inside the shinra building, and rides it out and fights other guys on the highway out. It was everything that was right with the 90's. BEING RADICAL. It was hilarious and cool all at the same time (Not to mention the snowboarding later on. Cloud is one TUBULAR guy).

Despite Cloud also catching a lot of shit for being "an emo bitch", I think people just like to use FFVII as a scape goat for EVERYTHING regarding rpgs. I'm just glad Cloud has an actual character arc, no matter the size, he has one.

Chrono Cross:

My big beef with Serge applies to many video game protagonists. Outside of Link, I'm not really a fan of the silent protagonist. I find it destroys the immesion of Half Life 2 when people are like "YOU'RE PRETTY QUIET! HAHAHA!" and the same goes for Serge. "DON'T WORRY, I UNDERSTAND BY YOUR STEELY GAZE THAT YOU'VE GOT A PURE SOUL. HAHAHA!" Is it hypocritical to let Link get away with it? Yes. But he was the first one in my book. So whatever. I mean, Serge is better than the GTAIII protagonist. But in a 40 hour RPG he's gotta show some sign of life.

He's cool, but he's just like, "Hey what's up?".

Now to his looks. Serge looks pretty ballin' with his bandanna and all that, but he doesn't really scream out as an individual. I'll give him props for using the really cool swallow for a weapon. He doesn't have a bad character design, but it's just nothing to write home about.

Protagonist: Final Fantasy VII > Chrono Cross

Sixth Category: Antagonist

Here's where the shit will probably hit the fan with any comments I might get. I think Sephiroth looks cool, and he was worked into the story in a way to be an effective villain, not getting actually revealed until a good many hours in. His motives boiled down to extremely basic "wah ha ha kill everyone take over planet whatever". But In the ~4 final fantasy games I've finished, it really hasn't been that different, so he's doing okay by those standards.

I guess another thing about him that will catch me shit is that I'm a big fan of the Protagonist vs. Antagonist structure, which FFVII did an okay job of, once you realize how it all works out and the playing field the two combating forces are on. Cloud being injected with Mako and all that good stuff. Makes his ass kicking a bit more believable.

Chrono Cross:
When there's a debate on who the real protagonist is, there's a problem. Maybe it's because I have yet to play Chrono Trigger (I did buy it in Dec. 08 though, and it's up next on my to play list! So maybe I'll have differing views on some subjects of Chrono Cross! Don't hate me!). As it stands now, the Lavos creature came out of nowhere. Lynx was alright but got smoked a little to early for my likes. It performed one of my least favorite techniques that will get thoroughly reamed when Final Fantasy IV and IX come into the RPG battle. If you've played those you'll probably get what I'm hinting at.

But yeah...

Antagonist: Final Fantasy VII > Chrono Cross

Seventh Category: Music

First I'll post some youtube links to my favorites.
Cid's Theme:
FFVII Theme/Cloud's Theme:
Still More Fighting (Boss Theme):

FFVII does have some great tracks. I love the ones above, but you could search for Cosmo Canyon, Aerith's Theme, Tifa's Theme, Opening-Bombing Mission, (don't hate me) and One Winged Angel.

But in reality Still More Fighting is the best song the game has to offer. It's just so amazing.

My big problem with the soundtrack is that the majority of it becomes repetitious and blends all together. When listening to the soundtrack itself it really sounds like your listening to a videogame, and not that there's anything wrong with that, but when compared to... (see below)

Chrono Cross:
Dream of Shore Near Another World:
Time's Scar:
Magical Dreamers:

The Chrono Cross soundtrack is one class act. Sometimes I left the game on during the first track listed just to listen to it. I just let it sit there and turned off the TV because it was such a bless to listen to.

The Chrono Cross soundtrack does start to blend together at times when listening to it in it's entirety, but the sound quality is so much better than the FFVII soundtrack and it's just beautiful. I don't know how to properly put it all formal like, but it's great. And it wins. And if you've played this game and don't like the music you're not human. ROBOT.

Music: Chrono Cross > Final Fantasy VII

Eighth Category: Nostalgia

I have great memories of this game from my freshman year of college. All my floormates cheering me on in the northern crater, a good buddy watching about 40 hours of my playthrough. It's probably the reason I'm so biased to this game.

Chrono Cross:
I only finished it about five months ago, and did it all for the most part by myself at a new college early in the year when I didn't have many friends. For some reason I still look upon this time with a smile. Probably because RPGs aren't bad by yourself either.

Nostalgia: Final Fantasy VII > Chrono Cross

Overall it's really close, and I really really really enjoyed both games. But Final Fantasy VII wins out by a slim margins just because I enjoy it more as a whole package. Where Chrono Cross pounded it into the ground with the music and battle system, it lost ground in many other areas to truly make it stand out.

Winner: Final Fantasy VII

Sorry about the extremely long write up. If you made it through you're awesome. I hope this didn't come across as another FFVII love fest, as I truly did love Chrono Cross as well.

But I will continue these in the order of RPGs I've completed, so up next is the SNES classic Final Fantasy IV (played on GBA). They wont be as long format because only the newcomer side in each new write up will get a full review, whereas the past games will get heaped together and compared to the current game on the chopping block. Thanks for reading!

I love you! Please love me! Let's all love!   read

6:15 PM on 12.11.2008

Hello Destructoid/My New RPG Romance

(I figured I would make my first Destructoid c-blog about a recent genre I have gotten into. By all means it isn't my favorite genre, but I've come to appreciate it a lot in the past year. I also have been lurking Dtoid for about a full year now but finally made an account about a month ago.)

Hello Destructoid, I am new here,

I love RPGs.

I only truly came into the genre this year, starting with a borrowed copy of Final Fantasy VII.

During my childhood my parents were adamant in their no videogames stance. I pleaded and begged and they never gave in. Perhaps that was good for me in the long run, as I became a ďLego ManiacĒ. It sure fostered creativity in me, and has undoubtedly been a major factor on who I have become thus far in life. While I never personally owned any systems until a Game Boy Pocket in the late 90ís, I had an aunt who owned an original NES, and my best friend owned a Super Nintendo. Every time we would visit my auntís apartment back in the day my two sisters and I would always draw names out of hat to see who could play first. We played Mario and Duck Hunt like mad. My aunt also had both Zelda games, which I took a liking to (my sisters couldnít be bothered to play much more than Mario though). I was young and was undoubtedly terrible, but at least I have a solid foundation for my Zelda love (Iíve never completed either of the NES Zelda games).

The next system that would fly into my life was the Super Nintendo. With age we stopped visiting my Aunt, and I was making friends in my neighborhood, I soon had a best friend (still good friends to this day in college). Unlike my parents, his were not opposed to videogames and he had a Super Nintendo, which we played the hell out of. We mainly stuck to Super Mario World and Donkey Kong Country. Iím getting to the point now, donít worry.

After being (very) interesting in videogames and using the internet for a lot of high school and college, Iíve gathered a few popular opinions. The main one of this article being: Final Fantasy as a respected RPG series and Final Fantasy VII in particular (and it has become increasingly apparent REAL fans like FFVI, and I'll get to playing that after V, so don't worry). I know, itís cool to hate FFVII, and call it overrated, but it was my first major JRPG and I liked it, so the negativity doesn't bug me a whole ton. A year ago though, this whole ďFinal FantasyĒ thing was extremely foreign territory. I had heard so much about it, and decided, ďYou know what, screw it, Iíll give it a goĒ. So I borrowed Final Fantasy X from a friend in high school, and hated it. I was just perplexed, confused, and completely lost after about a half hour with the game. It was one of the first games I actually just completely gave up on.

Maybe a different day my friend.

I said I was almost to the point, and now Iím almost there, sorry. But as my best friend and I grew older it became increasingly apparent of our difference in videogame tastes. I continued on my Zelda path, slaying moblins with swords and what not, and from Mario he went one to Goldeneye, Perfect Dark (We agree on these two games though, best FPSs), and slowly continued until he had a PS2 and was immersed in no nonsense games like GTAIII, Gran Turismo 3, Ace Combat 5 and other games with almost no inclusion of any fantasy elements. And this stayed true on the SNES. He never owned Zelda, Chrono Trigger, or the Final Fantasies (II and III, aka IV and VI). To be fair neither of us heard of these until later but he wouldnít have touched them regardless. At the expense of sounding like a complete asshole I believe Iíve accepted a wider genre of games than he has, as anything not set in current and modern times can fuck right off in his book.

You get the idea (yes I drew the picture).

Anyways, I had never played a real RPG as a result of this initial ignorance of them save Pokemon, which I donít know if I can really count it (But donít be fooled Pokemon Silver is in my Top 10 games of all time) as it doesnít really follow the whole ďswords, knights and magicĒ thing. So while at UMD for my freshman year of college (aka Ė lots of free time) I found out one of my friends there had a copy of FFVII. I was already wary of it since I hated X, but I figured, eh, itís older so maybe itíll be simpler. Not to mention when I thought of Final Fantasy that cover came to mind, as I have seen it on lots of ďTop 100Ē lists for games. I gave it a whirl.

In short: What a fantastic 57 hours.

After finishing the game at 5 am one (school) night with some of my floor-mates watching me I spent the rest of the morning reading on wiki to clear up the plot (I was confused). I didnít sleep that night, then the next night the friend who borrowed it to me and I watched Advent Children, and while not a very deep movie, the fan service fighting and such was great for me, especially coming off a marathon weekend of finishing FFVII (Damn gold chocobo). Ever since then Iíve just had a craving.

For some reason spending ass-loads of time level grinding, going to messed up locales and exploring the crazy stories and characters is really appealing. I AM a devout Metal Gear Solid fan.

Finally I am getting to the older RPGs I never had a chance to play. I bought Final Fantasy IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, and IX so far, but have only just recently completed IV out of those.(very good game as well). I played through Chrono Cross and Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance this semester, and look forward to getting Chrono Trigger maybe when it drops 10 dollars or something.

I transferred schools since then and I donít have the good friends that I had there. Iím wondering if this RPG lust is a way for me to cope, as the tail end of spring semester there was filled with the long nights of FFVII. It could be that, my addictive personality or both combined, but I would put RPGs in my top favorite genres now.

This is my first C-Blog, so don't hate me too much if it's terrible, or because I enjoyed FFVII. We can still be friends!   read

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