Zelda II: The Adventure Of Link (GBA)

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Why would you pay $9.99 to get Zelda II on the GBA when you could be paying $9.99 for one month of the WWE Network?

It’s in the Zelda series, and Link is there, and he has an adventure. The end.

You’re off to a running start with Princess Zelda napping in the background. Link must retrieve a piece of the Triforce in order to wake her up, by uniting all pieces of the Triforce. Remember: these games took place a long time ago, a real long time ago, way before Levi Hutchins invented alarm clocks. They had to do some complicated Rube Goldberg Machine stuff in order to wake up, made even more complicated by the fact that Goldberg hadn’t debuted yet.

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As evidenced in the picture, this conspiracy involves your state troopers and your local Police Department. Image of Goldberg from wwe.com

Hmmmm… Goldberg… Zelda 2 came in a gold cartridge… the opening notes for the music when you enter a village sound like notes from the song “Goldfinger”… the Triforce is golden… the final castle has a golden hue to it… all of the pieces fit Robin! Ganon plans to steal the Triforce from Fort Knox!

Speaking of Bat-Logic

I just want to point out that I cheated a little and used an online strategy guide. In my defense, there is no way that some of these puzzles could have been solved without one, unless there was something in the instruction manual (which I don’t have). Seriously- to get to a vital town you need to hack a forest to bits. Except in this game, the only hackable trees are the ones in that small area surrounding the hidden village, and at no point are you told or even given a hint that you even can hack trees, let alone that particular grouping.

Same goes for a monster sitting in the middle of the road. If this weren’t a carbon copy of waking Snorlax, complete with Pokeflute, I’d have had no idea about what I needed to do. I guess eventually I’d figure it out, by standing there and mashing buttons after obtaining the flute.

I Need Guidance, Great One

As I was reviewing the palace 6 section of the guide, I noticed that it was saying the

knights on horseback you face there are repeats of an earlier boss. I didn’t remember it, but attributed that to the 2 year gap between now and when I last put the game down. Turns out that I didn’t remember it because it was the boss of palace 3, the only boss that I skipped, probably because I wandered into the palace, grabbed the raft, then left thinking I could skip the boss. Or died and was curious about where the raft would take me and forgot all about beating the boss. If you get to palace 7 and the shield refuses to lower, then check how many crystals you have left (the blue circle icon on the start menu, you lose one after beating a palace).

My point is- make sure you get the required item from the palace AND defeat the boss. I don’t know what happens if you skip the item and beat the boss, but having to restart the game is not a risk worth taking.

You are also best served by using the guide to locate vital items like the 4 magic containers and the 4 heart containers. And level all the way up as soon as you can. It helps. You max out at level 8, by the way. Leveling up after that just gives you an extra life. There are also extra lives to be found throughout the overworld, but they can only be grabbed once. Come to think of it… while writing this I just solved a 2 year old mystery. I grabbed one of the extra lives and had no idea I had done so, because it was absolutely useless to me.

Also, be skeptical of any boss strategies the guides give you. For example, the one I used

said that the final battle (spoiler alert: it was against The Enemy Within) could easily be won by standing in a corner. I had no health and no magic left, but I thought it’d be a piece of cake since all I had to do was stand in the corner. The first thing the opponent did was jump up and stab me from above. So much for the guide’s credibility. Plus if you stay crouched in the corner, eventually that boss will just stand in the middle of the screen and do nothing for long periods.

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I considered making like this blog’s venerable creator and posting a sexy pic of The Enemy Within (lots of them out there), but when I realized he was only 16 discretion and fear of the SVU prevailed. But I reached an epiphany- in this game, this so-called Enemy Within is in fact a Gengar. Pictured here is Morty’s Gengar. Image from Bulbapedia

Fortunately for the final palace, which I found rather difficult to get to, unlike with the other palaces once you enter it if you run out of lives you can just select “continue” and you will start out at the entrance to it. Be advised: any of the red magic potions you pickup will still be gone after you lose all your lives and hit “continue”. They only come back if you restart the game. Luckily the fairy stays. Since I found a way to budget lives and magic, you should be able to too. I say this with full confidence in the certainty that I am terrible at video games. Another convenience is that when you beat the first of the two bosses at the final palace it stays dead even if you run out of lives. I know because when The Enemy Within killed me it was my last life. It took the last health of my last life.

Problems

Everything mentioned above as such, of course.

The version I played fixed the following issue: on the NES release, the only way to save is to lose all of your lives. On the Game Boy Advance version you just pause the game on the overworld and press up plus either a or b. Or just buy the Famicom Disk version.

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Ready for round two?

I won’t mention the lack of a second quest. I mean, there is one, but unlike the first Zelda game everything this time around is exactly the same as it was before. The only difference is you start with all of the spells and fully levelled up. You will still have to hunt for the 4 magic extenders and 4 life extenders. So aside from that it’s pretty much what happens in Super Mario 64 once you get all the stars- no new quests, but you can play the old ones over again with a fancy skill you didn’t have the first go-around.

I guess I ended up mentioning the lack of a second quest anyway, but I don’t see that as a

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So tiny that Zelda 1 felt compelled to buy a Ferrari and spend all of its spare time at the gym. Original image from VGMaps.

problem since the game’s big enough for just one playthrough to feel sufficient (I think, my playthrough took 2 years… technically, 22 years given that I first played the game in the 90s), leading into another nitpicking- the entirety of the map for the first game, that you spend hours wandering through, is scaled down and displayed as a few tiles towards the bottom of Zelda 2’s expansive overworld. Part of me likes the reference, but part of me thinks that sort of trivializes everything from the first game. That adventure seems so small now. No… the adventure is big, it’s the overworld that got small.

But in-universe, in Zelda 2, how did Link so easily work his Peter Pan/Legolas-lovechild-twink self through the Zelda 1 overworld when in Zelda 1 you couldn’t go beyond that area? Hyrulean magic and technology were not up to the task of building a path! Either that or one of the cave shopkeepers or palaces was blocking the route, and Hyrulean officials decided to exercise their eminent domain powers to seize those areas and open them up for public travel.

You might expect me to rip on the change in format from the first and third game (and the Game Boy games) like everyone else does. Battles fought in a sidescroller style, leveling up, stuff like that. Nope. I had no problem with this.

“I had no problem with this.” – Mr. Flagg

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Donkey Kong (Game Boy)

Donkey-Kong-TitleDo I really need to introduce this? It’s Donkey Kong, but on the Game Boy. Warning: some changes were made when porting from Arcade to Game Boy.

You play as Mario in the archetypical battle of man vs. damn dirty ape, because this one Donkey-Kong-Mariowon’t keep his stinkin’ paws off your maybe girlfriend (it’s assumed, until Mario later trades in this generic-lady-being-kidnapped-by-a-monkey for a princess-being-kidnapped-by-a-lizard. Based on the character art for her in Super Mario Odyssey, we know Mario’s girlfriend from Donkey Kong went on to strangle cats). You have to hop and climb your way through the stages to rescue her.

Of course the 4 stages you get are based on the arcade, though I’ve read they were scaled back a little to fit on the Game Boy. I wouldn’t know, I’ve only played Donkey Kong on two non-consecutive Atari systems and the Colecovision. I had the e-Reader version but I haven’t touched it in 15 years and probably lost most of the cards.

Donkey-Kong-25mAnyway, unlike the other iterations of Donkey Kong I’ve played, there is a timer on these stages. Once you’re past the 4 from the arcade, you go on to another 93 stages. I didn’t count; I had to rely on the internet to tell me. They predictably ran out of ideas along the way and repeat the first stage, but with a different art pattern (castle instead of construction project). Some stages also allegedly came from Donkey Kong Junior, who himself appears in this title to help his pep-pep.

The stages get more complex as you progress. Your main task after the first four, aside from in the boss battles, is to move a key from one part of the stage to another, similar to some levels in the American Super Mario Bros. 2. Each stage after the first four and excluding the boss fights also give you three items dropped by your girlfriend: her purse, parasol, and hat. It’s worth the trouble to collect all three of them in each stage, as doing so gives you a chance to get more lives in one of two minigames. One is a slot machine, the other is best likened to a roulette wheel or wheel of fortune. If there is a pattern for when you will get a certain minigame, I don’t know it.

In addition to more stages, Mario has more moves. He can swing from a thin line (a tautDonkey-Kong-Stage-1 rope or power line). Another one of the new moves would go on to show up in Super Mario 64 in a modified form- when he leaps onto his hands and then bounces very high. He can do that either stationary or in motion. He can throw barrels like Dash O’ Pepper, and when standing on his hands he can even stop barrels from hitting him, and then throw them afterwards. We also have the opportunity to see Mario swim. I was hesitant at the first such occasion, since in the original versions of Donkey Kong any fall into a pit meant death. I assumed the water pits were the same, and was pleasantly surprised when they weren’t.

Just like Mario’s Picross, Donkey Kong is enhanced when played on the Super Game Boy. Unlike Mario’s Picross, it really is enhanced. You get more than just a unique border- stages and maps are colored. Donkey Kong and your girlfriend are sometimes colored. Mario… either changes his race (it is fluid you know) or gets jaundice. While I enjoyed the SNES’ presentation, portability was needed for me to complete this game.

Most of the time, things are not so difficult. At least for me. However, there were some stages (such as the final boss) that definitely qualified as difficult. But it’s not as difficult as its successor, Mario Vs. Donkey Kong. Very similar in gameplay- no doubt in part because originally it was to be a remake of this game- but with a much greater difficulty level. I got stuck somewhere in there over a year ago and never looked back.

Donkey-Kong-Game-Boy-CartridgeUnlike Mario’s Picross, I have some criticism here- Nintendo seems to have run out of boss ideas the year this game was released, 1995 (despite the release date, this game is usually referred to as “Donkey Kong ‘94” because that was its title in development). The final boss battle has Donkey Kong taking a super mushroom or two and growing to gargantuan size. Basically, this is the Gamma battle from Mega Man 3, or the Wily battle from Mega Man IV. Donkey Kong’s head sits in the middle, and he attacks with his hands. But that’s not the real reason I cried foul. In 1995, we have another battle where a traditional Mario villain is supersized and mostly in the background: Bowser. This was the year Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island came out. And the villains are fought in a similar way too- chucking objects at their heads. Why couldn’t we have had a gigantic robot Kong of steel instead?

The game passes the time. The puzzle elements kept me coming back, because I didn’t want to be outwitted by yet another Mario Vs. Donkey Kong-style game. I managed to wrap things up in a week or two of intermittent playing, if that is in any way useful for gauging how long it would take to beat the game. At least you come away from this with more knowledge than I had going in- this isn’t a straight port of Donkey Kong to the Game Boy. Yes, I did think that when I saw it in the store (used, no box, no manual, two excuses).

Mario’s Picross

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He’s watching…

It’s a plotless game. A plotless puzzle Game Boy game. A powerful plotless puzzle Game Boy game. Perhaps playing powerful plotless puzzlers pleasantly passes protracted periods. Excuse me.

 

What’s their game?

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Is this a picross? Image from New York Times

The purpose is to draw a specific picture using the “instructions” given. For what there is of a plot, you are playing as Mario at some Egyptian ruin “chiseling” the images because he doesn’t want ants to get at them or something. He doesn’t know, he was drunk. The screen is taken up by a grid with squares for each space (unlike a certain other “grid” for “leveling up”). The controls allow you to mark a square so that you know not to chisel it, remove a mark, chisel the square, or unchisel one (this is only useful in Time Trial, for the other modes any tiles you chisel that should not be chiseled are unchiseled automatically. Chisel Chisel Chisel Chisel CHISEL!).

You are given grids of varying sizes in the tutorial stage and easy mode. The normal

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Is THIS a picross? Original image from Village Inn

mode presents only 15×15 grids. Regardless of size, you’re given 30 minutes to finish a puzzle. My cousin picked it up, started randomly guessing spots, and was out of time inside of 30 seconds. That’s because when you chisel the wrong area, you lose a bit of time on the clock. Each wrong area takes away increasingly larger chunks of your allotted time, with the largest being 8 minutes.

The tutorial is of course a good starting point, but to me its explanation about the numbers to the left and on top of the grid was faulty. I probably just misread it. The numbers are the “instructions” for each picture- they tell you how many squares to chisel in the row or column they line up with. They don’t tell you where in the row or column that the chiseling needs to happen, just the amount that needs to be done and in what order it should be done. For example: “5” means five squares together need to be chiseled while “5 1 2” means five squares together need to be chiseled, followed by one square, followed by two squares. Each one of these sets of chiseled squares would be separated by at least one non-chiseled square, so it would look something like 55555x1x22 where x is a non-chiseled square.

Tips (I usually do 15-20%)

There are shortcuts to take, and every puzzle is solvable with the information given,

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The puzzle grid. Notice how I used my tip to fill in the 2nd row from the bottom a little bit. Chisel on, fellow players too cheap to buy stuff that lets you take a proper screenshot!

so no the game is not broken. We’re just dumb as hell. The most useful shortcut I found was that if you’re told that you need to chisel a group greater than half the number of spaces in the row or column, you can chisel the center spot safely. So if you had a row of 15, and you needed to fill 8 together, you can chisel the spot that’s in the middle (8 spaces in). If you had a row of 15 and you needed to fill 10 together, you can chisel out the center 5.

So… that’s about it. There are at least 192 puzzles, over 128 of which are 15×15. I say “at least” and “over” because once you complete the first 192 you get a Time Trial mode, wherein the mechanics change somewhat in that you have an infinite amount of time to solve a puzzle and you are not told if you chisel the wrong space. Unless my memory is failing me, the first puzzle I completed in that was unique from the previous 192, so that potentially means many more puzzles than I’ve seen so far. And to the best of my ability to determine, at this point the puzzles become impossible. Give up.

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Says right here that it’s Super Game Boy compatible. Next to Mario’s soulless, vacant stare.

Oh yeah, this game is enhanced by the Super Game Boy. It doesn’t do much. I didn’t notice any fancy colorization like some games do (and yet still can look inferior to their Game Gear counterparts as “Star Trek Generations” showed). All I saw were two different borders around the screen. I would suggest playing it using the Super Game Boy since I’d imagine whatever appears on the TV screen would be easier to see than on the Game Boy’s screen, unless your SNES is connected to your Game Gear. Sometimes exhaustion and insufficient lighting make the tiny numbers blend together.

Yup, That’s It

 

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“HAHA! Your official movie tie-in jigsaw puzzle shows a version of the ship that didn’t appear in the movie!” See? Doesn’t work. You can’t make fun of a jigsaw puzzle. Image from Fordos Models

To those expecting a scathing review like I gave to “They Were 11”, sorry to disappoint.   The material is lacking. What exactly am I going to make fun of? TELL ME! There’s no plot to put holes in, other than apparently Mario committing vandalism against Egyptian landmarks which last I heard was a criminal offense. Other than this bizarre item there’s nothing to mock, there’s no there there as our thought leaders like to say. It’d be like making fun of a jigsaw puzzle.

I find this game addicting. It has a strange effect on me, to where it puts me to sleep after I’ve done a few of the puzzles. So… I’m addicted to a sedative. Mario’s Picross is part of the opioid epidemic.

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Title Screen for a Schedule II Controlled Video Game

Final Fantasy: 30 Years, 15 Stories

I had a year to decide how I was going to celebrate this momentous occasion. Last year I covered the history and impact of Final Fantasy in “Final Fantasy: Why the Vibrant Gaming Industry We Know Could Not Exist Without It”, and this year I have been playing my ass off trying to complete various Final Fantasy games. That’s how I came up with this idea, to show the cover art for the games along with a short description of them as well as the systems you can find them on. I originally wanted to cover the whole set of stories, but it would have been too laborious and honestly been a huge spoiler. So I have adjusted my original idea to this more practical format. I hope you enjoy.

For first-timers, here is a kind of Key Legend for those of you unfamiliar with abbreviations for game systems:

(PS1 = Playstation) (PS2 = Playstation 2) (PSP = Playstation Portable) (PS3 = Playstation 3) (PS4 = Playsation 4) (PSV = Playstation Vita) (NES = Nintendo Entertainment System) (SNES = Super Nintendo Entertainment System) (GBA = GameBoy Advance) (DS = Nintendo DS) (3DS = Nintendo 3DS)

 

Final Fantasy

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4 young Orphans discover their destiny as the Warriors of Light and embark on a quest to restore light to the 4 Elemental Crystals. Will they succeed, or will the fall to the Fiends that Guard the Crystals, or their Master?

Systems You Can Find it On: NES, MSX2, Wonder Swan Color, PS1, GBA, Mobile Phone, PSP, Wii, iOS, Windows Phone, Android, 3DS, Wii U

Significance: This was the very first Final Fantasy game, released this day (12/18/17) 30 Years ago. It saved Square from Bankruptcy and has ever since greatly influence the gaming industry. If it were not for this game, you would not be reading any of this.

Final Fantasy II

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Orphans fight an aggressive Empire in an attempt to save their friend Leon. Will they save him, or are they in for a terrible surprise?

Systems You Can Find it On: NES, Wonder Swan Color, PS1, GBA, Mobile Phone, PSP, Wii, iOS, Android, 3DS, WiiU

Significance: This is the first name where characters have pre-set canonical names which you can choose to change or leave the same.

Final Fantasy III

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After an Earthquake opens up a cavern, a crystal gives 4 orphans incredible powers and sends them off on an important journey. Will the 4 young travelers be able to save the world from utter darkness?

Systems You Can Find it On: NES, DS, Wii, iOS, Android, PSP, Ouya, Windows Phone, WiiU, 3DS

Significance: Final Fantasy 3 was the first game to introduce the concept of the 2 world maps, overworld and underworld. It is also the first game to have Summoning.

Final Fantasy IV

Final-Fantasy-IV-CoverWhen he begins to question the behavior of his King, the Dark Knight Cecil of Baron is stripped of his rank and sent to perform a dastardly task. Angered by what happened, Cecil embarks on a journey to stop the dark forces that caused all of this and threaten the entire world.

Systems You Can Find it On: SNES, Wonder Swan Color, GBA, DS, PS1, Wii, PSP, iOS, Android, Windows, 3DS, WiiU

Significance: Final Fantasy IV was the first Final Fantasy to introduce the Active Time Battle system to determine the order in which actions are determined. It is interesting to note this game was intended to be a release for the NES but they instead put their resources into making it a SNES Release.

Final Fantasy V

Final-Fantasy-V-CoverOn a day when the winds stop and crystals shatter, a group of Heros must band together to put a stop to the catastrophe. Will they be able to save the crystals that sustain their world and defeat the evil entity behind the catastrophe?

Systems You Can Find it On: SNES, PS1, GBA, iOS, Android, Windows, Wii, WiiU, 3DS

Significance: Final Fantasy V apparently has an OVA Sequel.

Final Fantasy VI

Final-Fantasy-VI-CoverAfter a young girl has her mind freed of an empires control by an ancient being, she embarks on a journey to prevent the repeat of a 1000-year-old catastrophe. With the help of her newfound companions, will she be able to stop the evil empire before they can unleash the power of rampaging gods?

Systems You Can Find It On: SNES, PS1, GBA, Android, iOS, Windows, Wii, WiiU, 3DS

Significance: This game had the largest cast of playable characters and also the largest selection of Espers. The last Final Fantasy on SNES.

Final Fantasy VII

Final-Fantasy-VIICloud and his companions must fight against an evil corporation to save the entire planet. But will the darkness from his past end up spelling disaster? As cities collapse and the planet cries, the heroes must overcome all obstacles before time runs out.

Systems You Can Find It On: PS1, PS4, Windows, iOS, Android

Significance: Final Fantasy VII was the first Final Fantasy game in 3D, also the first Final Fantasy game on the PlayStation and the first game to use multiple disks. It had a Multi-Million Dollar budget and a staff of 100 people. Most notably, it is considered one of the best video games of all time.

Final Fantasy VIII

Final-Fantasy-VIII-CoverA group of young mercenaries is sent to stop an attack by an aggressive empire, only to find a darker threat lurking under the surface. Now the young heroes of SeeD must set out on a journey around the world and above it. The future of not just the planet, but all of time and space itself is at risk and only they can save it.

Systems You Can Find It On: PS1, Windows

Significance: Final Fantasy VIII is the first final fantasy game where summoned espers take an active role rather than just resulting in a single devastating attack. It also is the first game with 4 disks.

Final Fantasy IX

Final-Fantasy-IX-coverAfter kidnapping a princess, 16-year-old Zidane and his companions set off on a journey of epic proportions. With the fate of the entire world on their shoulders, will they be able to stop invaders from another world from taking over all of Gaia?

Systems You Can Find It On: PS1, PS4, Windows, iOS, Android

Significance: Final Fantasy IX was the last game on the PS1. Additionally, it was the last title to use ATB until Final Fantasy X-2, a misguided sequel attempt by Square. It also used ATE, or Active Time Events that allow a player to events unfolding at multiple locations. Other than that, it was pretty average.

Final Fantasy X

Final-Fantasy-X-CoverA young man torn from his own city of Zanarkand wakes up on a beach to tales of its destruction 1000 years prior. Trying to solve the mystery, he joins a young summoner and her guardians on their pilgrimage to Zanarkand. Will they be able to defeat the creature Sin and solve the mystery of his arrival?

Systems You Can Find It On: PS2, PS3, PSV, PS4

Significance: Final Fantasy X was the first Final Fantasy game on the PS2, the first Final Fantasy game that did not have a world map, and the first 3D Final Fantasy game that did not require multiple disks. In addition, it was the first game since Final Fantasy III that did not use the ATB system, instead opting for a Conditional Turn-Based system or CTB for short. It is also the first Final Fantasy game to have a Sequel game developed for it, though that sequel was horrible. Final Fantasy X though is still my favorite game in the Final Fantasy series as well as the first Final Fantasy I ever played.

Final Fantasy XI

Final-Fantasy-XI-CoverVana’diel is a world steeped in myth and conflict. A hero must fight for his nation and stop the Shadow Lord and other threats to the world.

Systems You Can Find It On: PS2, Windows, X-Box 360

Significance: Final Fantasy XI is the first Final Fantasy to be crafted as an MMORPG. It is also the first Final Fantasy that did not have random encounter battles, opting instead to adopt a live battle system where a player can approach an enemy to start a battle or flee from the enemy to avoid one. Final Fantasy XI received 5 expansions and 16 of the original servers are still active today. It has received mixed reviews from critics, though fans have been more critical of some aspects of the game that seem forced or phony.

Final Fantasy XII

Final-Fantasy-XII-coverAfter a young street urchin tries to rob treasure from the palace treasury of Dalmasca, he embarks on a journey to stop a tyrannical empire. Will he and his companions be able to stop the fires of war or the entities that weave fate?

Systems You Can Find It On: PS2, PS4

Significance: Final Fantasy XII is the first non-MMO entry to the Final Fantasy series to use the ADB, or Active Dimension Battle system. It also introduces the “Gambit System” to determine the behavior of other party members when engaging enemies in battle. It is the last Final Fantasy mainline title for the PS2.

Final Fantasy XIII

wht_PS3_keyart_22_r04-80.inddAfter fleeing from a Purge in a town within the artificial sphere of Cocoon, Lightning and her friends meet her sister at the fal’Cie Anima and are branded l’Cie. Now they must embark on a journey to complete their Focus and in turn, save Pulse and Cocoon.

Systems You Can Find It On: PS3, Xbox 360, Windows

Significance: Final Fantasy XIII is the first Final Fantasy game on the PS3 and has 3 sequels. It adopts a hybrid of the ADB and the ATB, players can run from or approach an enemy, however if they encounter the enemy the game transitions to a different battle screen that utilizes the ATB. Rather than using traditional jobs, the game utilizes a Paradigm system to determine skill sets such as magic.

Final Fantasy XIV

Final-Fantasy-XIV-coverAfter having a strange dream on the way to a city, the Hero must work with the Scions of the Seventh Dawn to save Eorzea and live up to the legacy of the Legendary Warriors of Light.

Systems You Can Find It On: PS3, PS4, Windows, OS X

Significance: Final Fantasy XIV is the second MMORPG from the Final Fantasy series. Facing major flaws and angry fans, the original servers were scrapped and shut down after a major redesign, and the game was relaunched as Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. In its new format and running environment, the game performed much better and was easier to facilitate as a cross-platform title.

Final Fantasy XV

Final-Fantasy-XV-coverOn his way to be wed to Princess Lunafreya of Tenebrae, Prince Noctis of Lucis learns that Nifelheim has broken an armistice killing his father and taking over Lucis Capital of Insomnia. Now with the help of his close friends, Noctis must travel to the corners of Eos and recover the ancestral relics of the Lucii to stop the evil empire of Nifelheim and the apocalyptic Star Scourge.

Systems You Can Find It On: PS4, Xbox One, Microsoft

Significance: Final Fantasy XV is the most realistic Final Fantasy game to date, the most like everyday life in many ways. It utilizes the Active Cross Battle system, or ACB for short. It is also the closest release to this, the 30th Anniversary of the original 1987 game. With its HD Graphics and lush environments, it looks to be a tour de force for the senses.

 

Now for some Fan Service before my Closing.

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I’m sorry, he is just so fucking hot I couldn’t help myself. ❤ Thanks to noctella1427 on Devian Art for this smoking hot pic. XD

 

In 30 years, this is what Final Fantasy has become. Along with these mainline games, there are many sequels, side stories, and spinoffs associated with this series. This game changes with the world and continues to tell breathtaking and heartbreaking stories. These are stories worth experiencing, stories I want to share with my baby siblings and maybe eventually one day with my children. This is the sum of a great legacy started 30 years ago from the date this post will be published on. In another 30 years, we can only imagine what it will be like. Certainly though, this is a series that has changed the gaming industry, as well as changed the lives of so many people who have played it. So happy birthday Final Fantasy, you are truly one of the masterworks of our society, a masterpiece of music, art, and storytelling.

To 30 More Years!!

BattleSpace

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from Steam

 

I am not usually a big fan of online MMORPG’s. Quite usually they are unbalanced, they require too much of your attention too often, the people who pay to play have an unfair advantage, there are potty-mouthed tweens, and usually a small group of losers with no real friends IRL band together and make the game unplayable for other players. You can usually spot these games a mile away because they are rife with inactive accounts. In my opinion though, BattleSpace is an MMO so far apart from these that it’s sad to know it’s a game at risk of disappearing.

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Home System from gamerevolution.com

It is rather simple. You play as an Admiral of your own space forces. Your main goals are to collect resources, strengthening your home system by colonizing the planets and developing the planetary cities, building up your fleet, and conquering the Galaxy!!

There are 3 ways to gather the basic resources you need to play the game. The first is to develop your Planetary Resource Centers that mine energy, gas, and metal from your planet as well as the all-important Market Centers that gather the funds you need to expand. In fact, the only way to gain funds in the game is from your Market Centers so pay special attention to them but don’t make them your sole focus. You also need to invade Enemy Systems that are swarming with NPC  Fleets, these lifeless systems contain plenty of resources and each system you conquer furthers your path to victory. Finally, you can send your commanders who aren’t assigned to the front lines on Expeditions. Not only does this occasionally produce small amounts of resources, it can also produce parts and experience for the commander you send as well as yourself.

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Planetary City from idcgames.com

Now that you have the resources you need you should develop your cities. They have the necessary facilities needed to grow and fight your enemies. Your Capital City will be home to your Research Labs, your Center of Government, Recruitment Offices, Fleet HQ, and other necessary facilities. Use your Research Lab to study and obtain the instructions for different and higher level Facilities and Ships. Some facilities may only exist in your Capital City but you can build Hangers, Settlement Centers, Storage Facilities, Defense Bases, and Shipyards to build your fleet ships on any of the planets in your Home System. And some Facilities can only be built on your Colonized Planets. Each Home System has 9 Planets.

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Commander Screen from 2pcdn.com

Now you are ready to build your fleet, but first, you need to assign Commanders to the front line. This is really fun, BattleSpace commanders come from 5 exciting races. There are the elven looking Ezra, the beastlike Seria Grad, the fish or reptile-like Gredia, the cold and unfeeling Androids, and of course the warmly familiar Humans. Commanders each sport different deck slots that determine how many ships or squadrons can be assigned to them. They also come in 7 different levels of Rarity. They are Common (C), Uncommon (UC), Rare (R), Rare + (R+), Super Rare (SR), Super Rare + (SR+), and the almost unattainable Ultra Rare (UR) Commanders. The rarer the commander, the stronger it is.

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Fleet Battle from riotpixels.net

Now that everything is ready and your fleets are being led by powerful commanders you can engage in battle!! The Battle System works like Rock Paper Scissors with stats added. Small Fighters beat Large Battle Ships, Medium Frigates beat Small Fighters, and Large Battleships beat Medium Frigates. But of course, it’s not so simple as that. Depending on the stats of your ships you can totally defy those rules and still crush the enemy. Ships of a Higher Technology Tier have higher stats.

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Ship Enhancement from idcgames.com

You can also enhance your ships stats at the Weapons Laboratory using Parts obtained during battle, from Daily Quests, and during Expeditions. You can use them to enhance many aspects of the ship. Enhance your engines to reduce the time it takes to sortie with enemy targets, or your shields to raise your defenses. Enhancing the weapons raises your torpedo attack or plasma attack depending on which weapon you choose to enhance. Keep in mind though, you aren’t enhancing individual ships but rather that entire class of ship you have selected.

As you see the planets surrounding your Home System turn blue when you occupy them you will probably feel really proud. But keep in mind, ships aren’t just for war. Deploying your ships, you can colonize not only the planets within your Home System but also Asteroid Bases held by your allies or which you yourself have conquered. You can also reinforce your allies Home Systems when they are under attack. Joining up with Unions in-game helps you and your new-found comrades become powerful a lot faster.

There is a lot more to discover and explore in this game and to me, it is a lot of fun. I don’t at all exaggerate when I say the game map is GIGANTIC!! The one screenshot of the galaxy map I posted here is only a tiny fraction of the in-game galaxy as a whole. That might be why, as I said at the start of this post, this is an endangered game. Maybe it’s the timer based gameplay where you have to watch the clock tick down whenever you construct a facility or deploy a fleet or research something, maybe it’s the vast galaxy map that requires a few days wait if you decide to attack a player on the other side of the Galaxy but haven’t colonized any Asteroids near their Home System. Whatever the reason, this game has faced hard times and could disappear any day now.

When I started playing in 2013 it was on the American Servers. Sadly those were shut down nearly a year after I started playing partially cause Atlas was acquired by another company or something, partially because there were very few players. More recently I have started playing the EU Servers. Those are still up but you will soon realize there are a lot of Japanese players. This is because Japan shut down their BattleSpace Server last year. The last server is the EU Server I am playing on now and that could go away any day now really.

I never thought I would ever do this but I am asking you, my readers, in fact begging you to try this game out and give it a serious chance. Maybe you’ll learn to love it just as much as I do. You can play BattleSpace by clicking this link here. I hope you enjoy it.

Hopefully Happy Gaming. 🙂

Final Fantasy: Why the Vibrant Gaming Industry We Know Could Not Exist Without It

No gaming title is better known or more widely acclaimed than the SquareEnix title Final Fantasy. Since the first game was released in December of 1987 it has shaken the gaming world and set the stage for many games we know and love today. In fact, if it were not for Final Fantasy the gaming Industry would not be as vibrant as it is today. Final Fantasy is truly the game of miracles but not many people are aware of its history or just how important it is. To understand this you have to go back all the way to the late 1980’s and a young game developer named Hironobu Sakaguchi since his story is by all rights the story of the game.

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In 1983 a young Sakaguchi dropped out of Yokohama National University and began to work for Square, a newly formed subsidiary of Denyusha Electric Company. Square was founded when the son of Denyusha’s owner Masafumi Miyamoto graduated from Waseda University and desired to enter the video game industry. Masafumi believed that the then standard model of having only 1 programmer work on a game was inefficient and that better, more profitable games could be developed with a team of programmers and professional story writers all working on the same project. In this climate, Sakaguchi worked on some of Square’s first games for the PC. By 1985 Square had moved on from PC games to console games with an adaption of Thexeder for Nintendo.

By 1986 Square split from its parent company Denyusha to become the independent Square Co., LTD and with this change, Sakaguchi became a Full-Time employee of Square as head of Planning and Development. Sadly the company quickly fell on hard times after a release of many unsuccessful games for Nintendo, prompting Square to move their headquarters to the Ueno District of Tokyo. Facing Bankruptcy things looked grim for Square till Sakaguchi came up with a project that would save the entire company. It was an idea that had been overlooked but was now their final hope.

For a long time Sakaguchi had desired to work on a console RPG, however, there were many things stopping him. First off was that his employer Square refused to give him permission to go ahead with the project assuming that an RPG would not sell very well based on trends. Additionally, only 3 of his colleagues were willing to volunteer to work with him as he was considered to be a “Hard Boss”. However facing bankruptcy Square had nothing to lose and finally gave the project the green light. Sakaguchi then began to work on an RPG named Fighting Fantasy inspired by the games “Ultima” and “Wizardry” not realizing all the while that he would create a masterpiece that would outshine both of these.

As we all know the name would later change to Final Fantasy. This name change was prompted by issues involving trademark conflicts with an RPG Gamebook series that had the exact same name. The new name, however, was inspired by Sakaguchi’s personal conflict as well as the plight of the company. It was very obvious that if this game hadn’t sold it would be the first and “Final Fantasy” that Square would ever have developed. It was the same situation for Sakaguchi. This would have been his last game as he had decided to give up game development and return to University if the game hadn’t been successful.

A lot of work was put into the project by the development team as they knew it was the last hope for the company. For the games coding they enlisted the Iranian-American Programmer Nasir Gebelli, Character Design was conceived by Yoshitaka AmanoKenji Terada was in charge of writing the scenario based off of a story written by Sakaguchi and he received some help from Koichi Ishii, the score for the game was composed by the now world acclaimed Nobuo Uematsu, and Akitoshi Kawazu was in charge of the design of the battle system and battle sequences. With Hironobu Sakaguchi at the lead, this team of 7 worked to defy time and the odds against them. Motivated by the companies lack of faith in their project and the general animosity directed at them by their coworkers they soon made great strides in developing the game. Eventually, a “B-Team” Of programmers joined them on the project helping them to finish it. At every corner, the team tried to make distinctive innovations that had never been tried before like elemental weakness or resistance in enemies or the ability to choose the class of your character. As they worked the companies situation became direr but their final gamble would prove to be their saving grace.

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Finally, it came, the day that would change history. On December 18, 1987, 400,000 copies of Final Fantasy were released in the Japanese Market for the Nintendo. It was a hit. In addition to the initial release of 400,000 in Japan, the 1990 North America release sold an additional 700,000 copies despite heavy censorship by Nintendo’s North American Localization Team. In Japan, it already had 2 sequels. The sales from Final Fantasy alone saved Square Co. And the career of Hironobu Sakaguchi as well was saved. Working under Square he would later develop many more industry changing hits.

It is this game that saved Square but it was Square that helped define the Gaming Industry worldwide. This is no exaggeration. Before its merger with Enix in 2003 it released many well-known and well-acclaimed games and series besides Final Fantasy such as Parasite Eve and Kingdom Hearts. Games such as these changed or defined the industry and stood out from many others available. Other lesser known games were developed that changed attitudes and ideas and would later become series of their own. Xenogears would become the prelude to the Xenosaga game series. Final Fantasy IV introduced a new type of time/turn based battle system and Secrets of Mana Introduced the Ring Menu system. There were also new themes that were touched upon such as Time Travel in their 1998 hit Chrono Trigger and Genetic Horrors in Parasite Eve.

While Final Fantasy saved the company it also became their driving force. After many sequels, the company came to feel that they could not be defined simply by the Final Fantasy Franchise and thus they innovated and encouraged innovation. And certainly, they are not defined by Final Fantasy even though it was their biggest title in light of the other popular and even “classic” titles that the company released. But maybe I am incorrect in saying Final Fantasy did not have a huge influence on their success since their effort to keep from being out shadowed by its popularity is what makes its games so good and since their experience in 1987 taught them the benefit of taking outlandish risks.

Indeed Square and all of the subsequent risks it has taken have helped give new life to an industry and nurtured an environment of artistic expression and high-quality gaming. So many of their releases keep adding a new flavor to gaming every time and setting new trends. After a merger with Enix in 2003 SquareEnix carried on that legacy of art and risk.

Sadly Hironobu Sakaguchi did not come along with this merger having resigned a year before. Then in 2004, Nobuo Uematsu left Square Enix as well. It in a way was the end of an era. The legend continues however even in their absence, not just the legend of the definitive rise of Square and the continuing success of SquareEnix but also the legend of Final Fantasy. This year we saw the release of 3 Final Fantasy games and a new CG Movie. Along with the Numbered game Final Fantasy XV and the related CG Feature Film “Kingsglaive”, there were also 2 mobile games released. Final Fantasy Brave Exvius lets you play with old characters in a new setting and Final Fantasy Mobius brings back an excellent writer from Final Fantasy X. Today is the 29th Anniversary of this miracle game and on this day next year, the franchise will mark its 30th anniversary since that first release.

30 Years is a staggering thought. As of next year actually, video games will be 70 years old (The first video game was the Cathode Ray Tube Amusement Device first patented January 25th, 1947). In that 70 years titles have come and gone and the notable bulk of those titles were created in the last 35 years. Final Fantasy however not only saved a company that defined an industry and seen so many different advances and styles come and go, it is still an ongoing title nearly 30 years later and has seen an adaption on most gaming systems developed at this time. What will become of it in the next 30 years?

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Very Legendary and Happy Gaming to you all.