Last week, Jon spoke fondly of days spent playing Final Fantasy II, a stunning game that really consolidated everything that was good about its predecessor, built upon it, and got rid of pretty much everything that was guff.
I'm sad to say that I never owned a NES or a SNES, and that I missed out on the first six Final Fantasy titles the first time around (something that has been rectified since). But I did have an original Game Boy, and so my first encounter with the franchise came in the form of Final Fantasy Legend I-III.
Only they weren't really Final Fantasy games at all.Click here to read more...
I'm losing a great deal of my life to Theatrhythm Final Fantasy at the moment. Though it's superficially a straightforward screen-tapping music game, a wealth of dormant gaming memories bubble under the surface, ready to leap out and ambush Final Fantasy fans without warning. I remembered beloved characters new and old, painful life-changing events, close-fought victories and underrated gems from throughout Square's RPG series, brought to vivid life by Uematsu's seminal soundtrack.
Which is why, after playing through The Rebel Army, I started to reflect on Final Fantasy II: one of the most venerable entries in the franchise - and one of the most divisive. Its original 1998 NES release never made it outside of Japan, while American gamers typically confuse it with Final Fantasy V since Square confusingly switched the names around. Having subsequently caught up on the PlayStation, Game Boy Advance, PSP and even iPad, many fans consider it to be one of the weakest links in the chain, citing numerous complaints about tone and mechanics.
While we're all entitled to our opinion, it's easy to ignore just how revolutionary Square's second attempt actually was. Final Fantasy II is one of the most forward-thinking and important RPGs of the NES era, featuring a radical approach to character levelling that's lauded as tremendously progressive in modern games. More importantly, though, it released with one of the most mature storylines to ever grace a videogame: one that deals with the real horror, personal loss, sacrifice and fallout of war. Something that even today's AAA titans frequently fail to accomplish.Click here to read more...
For us Europeans, this was our first taste of anything Final Fantasy related, released as it was back in 1993 alongside Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest, two years after it had dropped onto Japanese shelves. And it was immediately accused of being the runt of the litter. There a none of the sweeping narrative epics that Square had ploughed into their flagship RPG series thus far, no turn-based battle system, although Moogles and Chocobos did pop up from time to time.
No, wasn't a 'proper' Final Fantasy game at all. But that didn't matter because, quite frankly, Final Fantasy Adventure (or Seiken Densetsu as it was called in Japan) is one of the finest games to ever grace the Game Boy.
Click here to see why...
Here we go again: another special edition stuffed full of merch and tat. However, this one looks a tad more exciting than most. Square have revelealed a lavish Collector's Edition for Deus Ex: Human Revolution that contains a multi-jointed action figure, DLC content, bonus DVD and, as always, an art book.
Eidos Montreal have also made highlighting items an optional feature for all you Deus Ex purists. Full details below.Click here for the Collector's Edition contents >>
Square have confirmed that their spiritual successor to the critically-acclaimed Parasite Eve series will receive a European release. Entitled "The 3rd Birthday," this PSP exclusive will allow Aya to return to New York and throw down on the horde of abominations with a mix of gunplay and strong RPG elements. A release window has not yet been revealed, but at least Square are giving us another valuable reason to keep our PSPs at the ready. [NowGamer]
Racing fanatics and PS3 owners have been waiting for Gran Turismo 5 for what seems like an eternity, but the hardcore faithful are going be be rewarded by two stonking collector's editions. Let slip by Sony's India boss, the long-awaited racer will feature a standard package, a collector's edition and a "really big package with a lot of paraphernalia that goes beyond the game." This 'really big package' has been tentatively priced at around £150 by several retailers.
Considering that the Collector's Edition is already slated to contain a diecast model and a bunch of GT goodies, we're intrigued by what the 'really big package' might contain. Fuzzy dice? Driving goggles? [IndianVideoGamer]
Metacritic has released their twice-yearly report... and has revealed that 2010 has been an anomalously great year for aggregate review scores. Seven titles have received a metascore of over 90% and a further three have gone on to score over 95%. To put this in perspective, only Street Fighter IV had reached these giddy levels by this time last year. So, why is this?
There's no doubt that we're living in a gaming golden age. The fierce competition between the three big brands (especially Sony and Microsoft) has driven software standards to epic levels- in my opinion, even eclipsing the PC gaming renaissance of the mid 90s. Practically every title is at least playable and recognisable as a game... and frankly, we're damn lucky.
On the other hand, the question of reviewer 'softening' has been around for some time. 7s tend to dominate the gaming scene, with big sites shying away from the 4s and 5s in order to placate their belligerent fanboy audience. Luckily, we've got a good crowd here. Some of the bigger review sites (such as Famitsu magazine) have even been accused of accepting bribes or entering into conflicts of interest!
So... are games getting better? Or are we as reviewers getting too soft? Or are numerical scores becoming irrelevant in an age of touchy fanboys and pushy publishers? Have your say in the comments!
Whilst Guerrilla Games were quick to deny that Naughty Dog were helping out with Killzone 3, Sucker Punch have publicly thanked the high-profile developer for their inspiration and assistance with the inFamous series.
“It’s great because it’s like getting feedback from somebody you trust and respect and you know has your best interests at heart...Testers don’t understand what it is you’re trying to do at the level that someone who spends all day, every day working on Uncharted can.”- Sucker Punch's Brian Flemming, NowGamer interview
It's great to see developers working together like this to develop great titles without an agenda. Class act, Naughty Dog. [NowGamer]