Final Fantasy 7 And the hype.

I have never been a hardcore fan of the Final Fantasy series despite playing several entries into the series. I played the first two entries on the Gameboy Advanced, Final Fantasy 3 (or 6 for your hardcore fanatics) on the SNES and 7 on the PS1. Out of all of these, I have to say my favorite one was the third. But, I have to admit that outside of the first two I have never played a Final Fantasy game from start to finish. It seemed that after a while I burned out and lost interest in finishing the quest. I don’t think it’s because the games are bad or I don’t like them, but maybe because I don’t want the journey to end so I choose to never finish it. This is, however, not a fair assessment since there were a few RPG’s out there which I devoured from start to finish only for me to replay the game over and over. Skies of Arcadia comes to mind as it’s probably the game that had the biggest impact in my life, and I actually modeled myself after the most awe inspiring traits of the main character Vyse (I’ll explain this better later on). It might be fairer to say that I didn’t have any characters I could relate to in the Final Fantasy games so I lost interest. Don’t get me wrong, if you could relate to the plight of the characters in Final Fantasy 7 then that’s all right. They appeared at an age where broody, quiet and full of angst was extremely appealing to people, and I could see where the grand scale of the game with FMV’s, bright lights, and impressive special moves had their massive appeal (it just wasn’t what I was looking for).

The Final Fantasy 7 remake was announced recently and I wrote about it on my earlier articles. I wanted to elaborate on it a little bit more in-depth, and see if I could analyze the hype behind the game. There is this idea that floats around the internet which states “whatever Final Fantasy game you played first will be forever your favorite”. Final Fantasy 7 came out in 1997 and I was around 8 years old, so I didn’t get to play the game until I was 13 at which point the game I consider my favorite RPG had already been released and I couldn’t get enough of it. This might explains why I’m not so excited to hear the news of something the fans have wanted them (Square-Enix) to re-release for almost a decade now. But, as every itineration of Final Fantasy releases it seemed like the fans liked the series less each time. I was excited when FFXIII was announced, and I’ll never forget that it released during my first deployment. However, that memory was flawed by the fact that the game was generally awful with minimal game-play. You could have called it Hallway Sim XIII and you would have made an equal impression. The game had 2 more sequels and while they fixed the issues with the original 13 it appeared like the damage was done. The reputation of the series had been tarnished, but this created a vacuum. This space was filled with wishes for the glory days of Final Fantasy 7, 8, and 9. The more Square-Enix pushed fans by telling them that they would not remake the game until they had achieved a massive success of equal worth to 7; the harder the fans shouted. This finally made them cave-in during an age where we are heavily marked by a lack of titles that please the audiences. In turn this made the announcement the biggest hit in E3 this year. Not to mention how well the clip was done, the announcer’s voice could have made any woman (or man’s) panties fly off. It was short and sweet as well, so I congratulate Square-Enix on their performance.

I do have one major fear though. There is always hype surrounding new games or remakes of old ones that manage to disappoint the fans. Does anyone remember the hype around Frozen (the Disney movie)? The hype around Frozen was purely based around a single song (a song which is truly deserving of every accolade it received), but that was all it was. The movie itself was not very cutting-edge, and the subject of a strong female lead that did not need any man had been explored by Brave before Frozen even decided to take that title from it by force. The hype for Final Fantasy 7 is based on a very deep seated nostalgia the likes of which only Nintendo has been known to take advantage of before. Are we still the same people we were that many years ago? Will Cloud and Sephiroth be as relatable now that most of us have moved past our teenage angst-ridden stage of our lives? Will Aeris’ death (this is not a spoiler! If you didn’t know about this you have been literally hiding under a rock for decades) have the same impact now that Game of Thrones has desensitized us to the deaths of our favorite characters and lack of surprise? Will I buy this game for PC a year after it releases? The answer to all of these questions is a resounding maybe? The hype will continue to build in these next two years now that the game has finally been announced though. I fear this will be its own downfall thought, just like many giant clothing stores have felt in their profits that the newer generations aren’t into the same things as the old ones. The new generation of gamers might not connect the same way we once did in the era of punk and grunge. It’s hard to say if this game will be something that the new generation will continue to speak about it as if it were the second coming of Jesus to Christians.

I hope that this game meets the expectations of the fans. If it does then that will allow me to buy some Square-Enix stock in order to capitalize on the gains of the company. Hopefully this is a turn for the better in Square-Enix a company that now recognizes what made them popular and capitalizes on it to no end. Does anyone remember all the different games that capitalized on FFVII? I’m talking about movies, cameos, hidden bosses, prequels, spin-offs, and a variety of other paraphernalia to gain money off of their biggest hit. I think these things made me apprehensive to let myself get caught up in the FFVII fandom. This is why I probably stuck to less-popular, but no less decent-good RPG’s. But, I will not cast a stone at this game just yet. I’m going to hold out and hope that fans come out satisfied. That I am proven wrong in my skepticism, and this game truly surpasses the nostalgia colored glasses that it appears to have placed on the fans.

I said earlier I would elaborate on what I meant by modelling myself after Vyse. You see Vyse was a hero of a pretty generic, but truly enjoyable RPG called Eternal Arcadia in Japan. He was a hero born in an age where Cloud and Sephiroth had become the archetypal RPG hero that everyone wanted to emulate. But, the developers of the game decided to make Vyse different in this regard. He was optimistic, brave, gave hell of a speech, and never surrendered in the face of impossibility (which led him to eventually become The Legendary Sky Pirate). In those days of my life I did not have a lot of certainty. I never lacked material things in my life, but it was a less than ideal environment for a teenager to be raised in. To see someone that was so full of life (despite the irony that he wasn’t real) was probably something I truly needed. He became my hero, the one character that I could see myself emulating for the rest of my life. This was the same reason I couldn’t relate to Cloud, he was broody, angst-filled (yes, I know he overcame these aspects eventually) which was not something I wanted to become. So while the bright and uncertain world in the age of exploration of Arcadia simply appealed to me; Gaia did not have the same impact with its earlier stages being filled with garbage and misery (I had enough misery in my life as it was). I sometimes think that Skies of Arcadia had such an impact on me that it was the reason I became a sailor. This makes me wonder if the other fans of the game saw the same appeal as I did. I hope that anyone who reads these words tries to find a copy of the game and play it. If you do try to get everything you can it’s one of the few RPG’s I have invested over a thousand hours into and completed 100% (something I’ve only done on platformers and GoldenEye 007 before). It’s not going to change anyone’s life at this point, but it’s a nice change of pace if you’re used to the other styles of RPG’s.

I’ll finish with one last statement. There is a saying that certain people follow which states (and I paraphrase this) “It’s not about the destination, but the journey to get there”. Life has a funny way of giving people the results they did not expect, and sometimes the end result has barely any connection to the path taken. I’ve taken this to heart and tried to live my life with the expectation that it might change in the blink of an eye. But, until the day my life ends; I will continue to enjoy the ride for as long as I can. I will continue to game in order to explore the lives which others have created for these characters that helped shape us during our development. But, most importantly , I will continue to utilize my experiences in order to improve my life, and that of others which have not had the fortune (no matter how small) that I’ve had the privilege to enjoy.

This article is copyright of the original writer.

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E3 and the console wars.

So E3 dawned upon us and every company is making their bid to take the lions’ share of the market with promises of exclusive new games and remakes of old ones. As I’ve grown older my excitement over these announcements has somewhat diminished overall. It might be due to my age or maybe it’s simply I’ve matured past the point where if I wanted a console I could literally go buy it on the spot. But, it seems like nowadays everyone else is out there focusing on the so called “console wars” and it is simply the most idiotic reason for a discussion considering these companies don’t give a care in the world for us.

You heard me right, I hate the console wars, they’re simply a marketing ploy by the companies to have the fan-base fighting amongst each other. Nothing gets more publicity than a bunch of geeks defending their product it is a marketing scheme that has been used in everything from oppression to fear mongering. Don’t believe me? Read this article: http://www.cracked.com/blog/5-ways-powerful-people-trick-you-into-hating-underdogs/ (after you finish with this of course) it just might open your eyes to reality. Listen if you love your gaming console and are willing to go on a limb to defend it then kudos to you, your passion is something to admire. However, couldn’t that passion go towards something more constructive? I’m sure that hidden talents lie within all of us. Just because they aren’t openly apparent does not mean they aren’t present deep inside. Perhaps we just need to step outside our comfort zone and explore our surroundings better.

Do understand that no matter who “wins” E3 (bear in mind you can’t win at something which is not actively a competition and this is an expo) we lose. Why do we lose? For one our wallets will suffer and these companies will continue to exist and exert their underhanded tactics such as day-one DLC and on-disc locked content, store-specific pre-order bonuses (in order to maximize gains from you having to buy the ones you didn’t get), peripherals which nobody wanted *cough* Kinect *cough* Wii U tablet *Cough* Ouya (fully aware this was an attempt at a console) *cough* Fallout 4 second screen that isn’t gimmicky *cough*.  A lot of fans don’t actually want these things and they keep shoving them down our throats. I’m not fond of these marketing ploys, yet I fall victim to them all the time. I’m actually trying to complete the Amiibo collection without resorting to scalpers, for the sake of future value (I see them as an investment when I’m 50), and I’m fully aware they are a gimmick. But, we all have a guilty pleasure and I guess little plastic figurines are mine. Companies are basically mining us for funds just like we’re pawns in a much larger game.

I guess that playing on a PC has changed my perspective on console wars. I mostly keep to indie titles and I will probably blog about those in the future. The open platform, the indie market, cheaper games, and an amazing modding community have all opened my eyes to the opportunities presented by this magnificent gaming console. Not to mention the amazing summer sales (kudos to you Gabe Newell you lovable overweight bastard). Steam is an amazing platform as well and despite some minefields (looking at you paid for mods) they have it pretty well sorted out. However, not all that shines is gold, and the PC master race is no different. We have people argue about specifics all the time, and believe me it’s not cheap to afford a new rig if you’re unfamiliar with building computers. What you save in games you actually spend upfront for a computer that will last about as much as the same generation of consoles currently out there (perhaps even less if you can’t update consistently). We also have the unfortunate side-effect of certain games not being optimized for PC and unless you have a specific graphics card you can’t play properly on a game. Not to mention compatibility issues with sound cards and other types of hardware which will seem like a nightmare to inexperienced users. However, this is definitely the console of my choice and I love my rig to death.

I consider the Wii U as a side-console which is used for the exclusives and party titles and playing with friends as well as guest. But, will I defend Nintendo when they screw up? Hell no! The Wii U was a terrible name for a console and it pains me to see people mistake for a peripheral. The games, however not so much. Nintendo has produced some of the most amazing titles for this console and for some reason that is beyond my comprehension it just doesn’t seem to fly off the shelf (somebody at marketing really screwed up). Smash Brothers 4 just keeps getting more incredible with each new character, and now we’re getting “Earthbound Beginnings” too! I’m glad to have had the opportunity to played the original SNES Earthbound in the virtual console. The E3 Nintendo Direct event last year was also impressive, and I can’t wait for tomorrow for that same reason. Bayonetta 2 came with Bayonetta, Pikmin 3 was incredible albeit short, Hyrule Warriors was extremely enjoyable despite the lack of online co-op (which frankly needed to be there), I played over 600 hours of MH3U, MK8 was so enjoyable I also had to buy the DLC for it so I could race as villager. But, if you notice there is a distinct lack of third-party titles there (which again my PC is for) and that is a huge detriment to consumers everywhere looking for next years Call of Duty (also beyond my reasoning seeing as yearly releases are annoying). Finally I end on a high-note with Splatoon this game is amazingly fun. I love how colorful and enjoyable the matches are, and despite the lack of voice-chat (seriously what the hell Nintendo) it is so much fun to play even when the ranked matches make me angry. Good job Nintendo your latest newest IP has been magnificent, and I’m impressed. Their future lineup is looking amazing still, and I hope your sales continue to pick-up Nintendo since I’m totally buying the new Zelda game when it comes out (and that thing looks amazing).

PS4, what can I say about you that hasn’t already been said? You’ve won the console war thus far and didn’t even have any titles to your name. It truly goes to show what a little underhandedness can do to bolster sales when you do the opposite of what your competition did the day you both announced them.  You’re getting Final Fantasy 7 remade despite Square-Enix claiming that they wouldn’t remake it until they finally had another Final Fantasy title reach it’s level of critical acclaim and I’m not sure they did. It sucks having to swallow your pride sometimes doesn’t it Square-Enix? The PS4 is a powerful beast of a console, and while most of it’s titles are on other consoles (Yes, I know Last of Us is a Playstation Exclusive, but it was in the PS3 for goodness sake). But, hey Infamous Second Son was truly good and they’re also getting KH3. Their presentation is superb and the practical lock-down on the RPG market ensures a healthy share of sales from hardcore gamers. Sony has done the impossible and mostly learned their lesson from last generation in which their pricing and lack of justification proved to be their downfall. It seems like other companies might want to take a page from Sony’s book this time around and learn what they did wrong to fix it instead of simply throwing more money at it hoping to make it go away. A little side-note Shenmue 3 is a PS4/PC semi-exclusive FOR THE WIN!

Finally we go into Microsoft and the Xbox One.  The Xbox One has been a roller coaster ride from the beginning, they have however caved into the demands of the fans and that demands a solid level of praise. I’m so happy that the console is becoming backward compatible since I was waiting for this event to happen in order for me to even consider buying the One. However, the Kinect was an unnecessary piece of trash that nobody wanted and you forced on us (this did not work out in your favor). It goes to show that when gamers actually band together with their wallets people listen.  I love the new announcement for the Rare Replay pack and it truly harkens back to a golden age of gaming where platforms games reigned supreme. The new controller looks slick and I’m hoping to try it out one day too. But, it’s presentation was mostly the same old FPS or third-person or over the shoulder view games. I’m frankly getting sick of this type of game. I hated Mass Effect 3 for plenty of reasons (primarily that 3 color ending), but the game went from an RPG shooter to more Gears of Effect as the series went on.  But, again I end on a high note. Thank you Microsoft for listening to your fans and eliminating the Kinect and making your console backwards compatible you did something I also never thought would be done and heard our cries.

So gamers! People! Casual Fans! Listen to my cries! Let’s band together against the practices we don’t like! We shouldn’t be victims to this kind of torture anymore! We have to finally put our foot down and say no! We don’t want early access releases that never go into a full release! We don’t want day one DLC for anything! We don’t need gimmicks and peripherals which we won’t use for the most part at all! Yearly releases???? More like Expansion packs with new skins and extra chapters! All this is unnecessary we want solid games, made with love and care instead of beta testing for you! The fiasco with Battlefield 4? This shouldn’t be happening to us. Sims 4 bare-bone release? We already played multiple expansions of 3!!!! We want full games, our 60 to 80 dollar purchase to be worth every penny. If we aren’t getting a 1 hour to 1 dollar ratio on our games then at the bare-minimum make us feel like our money went towards something truly good. Something that is genuine with a truly well done effort! Instead of these screwed-up releases year after year in order to meet a release date. We’re tired, we’re done. But, first we need to put our wallets where our mouths are.

This article is copyright of the original writer.