Posts Tagged ‘Final Fantasy’

Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light – In a World Covered by Endless Watercolor…

October 5, 2010

WE CAN BE HEROES

Final Fantasy, a series never content to remain the same, finds itself re-imagined yet again in Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light. Wasting no time at all, 4 Heroes‘ story revolves around Brandt who (I renamed Chrono), upon waking up on his 14th birthday, goes to the king to begin his rite of passage into adulthood. Turns out that’s to rescue the king’s kidnapped daughter who’s held prisoner by a witch in a cave. After meeting his brooding, impatient friend Jusqua (Xeno) and the stalwart female knight Yunita (Saga), together they rescue Princess Aire (Mana) and defeat the witch, whereupon they’re greeted by a giant crystal that informs them of the important journey they must go on.

All this happens quickly and efficiently with little text or fluff, and by the end of the intro you know exactly who everyone is, the kind of fairytale world they inhabit and most importantly, how the battle system works. It’s a nice, quick introduction to the game, which mixes some of the old (towns, simple story) with the new (swift, engaging battle system) of Final Fantasy, making for something entirely welcome on the Nintendo DS.

(more…)

Grump Talk – Amazing Finds

August 20, 2010

So there I was, doing my errands yesterday. I mainly was waiting around for an appointment at the mall, but since it was an hour and a half away, I decided to drive around the immediate area and check out some stores. I used my birthday gift card to get Park Chan-wook’s Vengeance Trilogy on Blu-Ray. If you haven’t seen them, see them!

Then I went to this somewhat crappy independent used game shop nearby called Gameco. Gameco is the type of used store that A) never has anything good or interesting to sell and B) has terrible, uncompetitive prices. I normally wouldn’t even go there to pick up a run-of-the-mill game there because I could find it just about anywhere cheaper.

So of course I was going there with little-to-no expectations for anything. I always have a few “dream” games that I say to myself, “Wouldn’t it be nice to find this game!” Y’know, wish list-type stuff. I checked the PS2 rack for some of the decent Gundam games and Suikoden V. No dice. To be expected at a dump like this, really. Any good Dreamcast games? Pbbbbttt. Not even any good Saturn cases to serve as a replacement for Panzer Dragoon Saga‘s cracked case.

I’m about to leave when I notice they have a glass case where they seem to put their “valuable” games. I see some SNES and PSone cases in there and figure I was wasting my time looking at the other stuff. I walk over and scan over the PSone games. FFVII, Chrono Cross, yada yada yada… The SNES cartridges aren’t looking too much better, either, with some old copies of Secret of Mana and FFIII(VIj) sitting around.

I almost turn to leave when I turn my notice to a lone SNES cartridge standing on top of the pile. It had annoyed me because it was standing on top of some labels of cartidges below it, so I’d tried craning my head around it. Now I’ve seen everything else and I figure I might as well see what game this one is. It’s slouching forward against the glass in an ugly fashion, almost as if it’s trying to escape notice. I focus my eyes to read the top label (which is upside-down) and my jaw goes slack.

I KNOW, RIGHT?!?!!??!

What were the FUCKING odds? And they were charging a (relatively) reasonable price! So I asked to test it out to make sure it worked, and after it booted up, I snatched it up and paid for it. I don’t even have a SNES! It’s one of those few games where I would just buy it even without immediate plans to buy the system it was on. If anyone has advice on whether to get an old SNES or one of those FamiTwin whatever knockoffs, lemme know. A Mother series of grumps may be in the cards some day… :3

But to bring this all home: What was the best find you’ve ever had, whether it be for a game, movie or WHATEVER? I’ll tell you a few more of mine, to get juices flowin’. A similar story to this one had me just searching Gamestop.com on a lark for Suikoden II and finding out that the store closest to me ACTUALLY HAD A COPY. And then there’s the story of how I waltzed into a Vintage Stock store and found them selling a copy of Possession on DVD for roughly 1/10th of the price it was going for on Amazon. Your turn!

Grumplet – Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: vs. Audience Indifference

August 18, 2010

I will be honest. I’ve sort of actively disdained the Scott Pilgrim franchise pretty much ever since I saw the cover to Volume 3 parody the Super Mario Bros. 3 cover. But the recent media blitz promoting the movie (and game!!) has left me practically frothing at the mouth. Look everyone! It’s indie bands and chiptunes and sly 8-bit game references and Beck!!! It has all the stuff you like!

I hate when I realize I’m being pandered to. It’s like it robs me of any enjoyment I could’ve gotten out of the experience without knowing. I don’t think anyone should be pandered to. It doesn’t help that a Scott Pilgrim movie feels about 7 or 8 years too late to feel thematically fresh. The advent of webcomics inundated the Internet with the quasi-wit of Generation Y slackers that grew up on the NES and the Streamline dub of Akira. Hey guys, the sprites from Final Fantasy are talking about Ranma 1/2! Isn’t that just the geekiest?

Scott Pilgrim, penned and illustrated by Brian Lee O’Malley became the poster child for this vein of storytelling. Geek culture-addled Scott Pilgrim has to fight the seven evil exes of too-cool-for-school Ramona Flowers if he wants to date her. These battles take on a video game-like progression of difficulty, complete with the exes exploding into coins, etc. This EPIC TALE proved so irresistible to the Hollywood graphic novel adaptation mill that the film rights were snapped up by Universal and Edgar Wright, keen pop culture satirist, tapped to direct.

I will admit, Edgar Wright was the ONLY reason I saw this movie. The creative force behind Shaun of the Dead and the much-funnier, much-less-seen Hot Fuzz, has proven to me by now that he has an eye for genre bending, humor, and doing justice to the subject matter he simultaneously lampoons. Hot Fuzz was not only a comedy about the ridiculous nature of action movies, it was also one of the best action movies in recent years.

Why am I harshing on Scott Pilgrim: The Franchise?! Because it’s like we have nothing to say to each other. Scott Pilgrim touches on River City Ransom, Ninja Gaiden (the original), Mega Man, A Link to the Past, the NES and SNES and many other things I never owned or played. Yet I’m still a gamer! I grew up with a Genesis! I played Sonic! I think there were two Genesis allusions the whole movie. And as for anime and music? It references Akira in one of the chapter titles, Scott wears a t-shirt with Astro Boy on it and the character’s name is from a song from some indie band I’ve never heard of. He’s like that guy at a party you try to start up a conversation with, and he’s like, “Yeah, I game. Ever heard of Final Fantasy II for the SNES?” “Oh, you mean Final Fantasy IV?” “No, pretty sure it was Final Fantasy II.” Awkward silence. I mean, it’ll resonate for a lot of 20-somethings out there, but it’s awfully specific in its aim.

So you’re probably expecting me to hate the movie. But I didn’t! Why?! Mostly because that pop culture divide is largely irrelevant when it comes to enjoying the movie. Will you get more out of it if you’ve played DDR or beat ’em ups? Sure. But the searing eye candy Edgar Wright coughed up is enough to entertain any movie goer who appreciates fast-paced film making. And this movie is nearly at Baz Luhrman levels of frenzy. Shots are cut at a blistering pace. CG embellishments make the actors look like comic book characters brought to life. Seriously, this is the first movie that seems like it took a few plays out of the Speed Racer handbook of visual vocabulary. (There’s that made-up term again!) And it’s not just visuals that delight. The dialogue is actually clever and delivered with comic timing for a change.

The music is actually pretty well done for the most part, too. Beck actually composes all of the music for the fictional band Sex Bob-omb and the score is composed by alt-rock superproducer Nigel Godrich, who’s worked with stars like Beck and Radiohead on some of their landmark albums. The soundtrack is loaded with indie acts and garage rock riffs, and totally fits the misfit tone of the movie.

It’s just too bad being good didn’t guarantee success. Limping out of the gate with a paltry $10 million when estimates put the movie at around $60 million, Wright’s most expensive movie to date, certainly makes eyebrows raise. Why would a movie that seemed like such a cultural zeitgeist flop so badly? It hasn’t been through lack of marketing that Scott Pilgrim failed, that’s for sure. It’s proooooobably because its target audience isn’t known for paying for anything. Teens and twentysomethings these days get their nostalgia gaming kick not by dusting off the NES or SNES, but by downloading ROMs and emulators. They peer-to-peer share their music collections. Plus they’re a notoriously poor demographic. They probably would rather see a cam rip of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World than fork over the $10 per person to go to the theater and see it legitimately. Then there was the aforementioned rather limited scope of the appeal. Maybe not as many people have fond memories of Clash at Demonhead or listen to chiptune albums as they thought. At any rate, a perfectly entertaining movie suffered because of it. For shame, readers!

Grump Talk: Horny Nun and Summer Fun

July 22, 2010

Hello, grumpeteers! How’s your summer going? Mine is like grains of sand slipping through my bony fingers. While I still go to graduate school in the summer, it’s a lighter season for me, so I’m trying hard to make headway in my various hobbies while I still have the (guilt-free) spare time.

I haven’t forgotten about Saturn! I’ve been playing Panzer Dragoon Saga for a while and hope to finish it up and post my thoughts on it within a month. It’s not that it’s a particularly long game, but its graphics are migraine-inducing and it still has some of those pesky hallmarks of a late-90s JRPG, such as inconvenient save point placement and boss gauntlets that make me want to punch someone. I also allowed myself to become distracted by other games whose graphics don’t cause me to get headaches, such as FFXIII and Demon’s Souls. Enough digital ink has been spilled describing both of them, so I doubt they’ll ever get a proper treatment here. I’ll just say that FFXIII is the huge disappointment I thought it would probably be and that Demon’s Souls is engrossing and totally Vagrant Story 2.

On another front, I saw Micmacs in the theater and was totally planning on writing it up when Inception came and jizzed all over my face. So plans changed! Really, Micmacs is charming if you like the sort of quirky, old-school humor that Jean Pierre Jeunet, director of Amélie and City of the Lost Children, specializes in. It almost channels silent comedy of old at some points. It wears a bit thin in the middle, but the climax is pretty satisfying, so I don’t feel anyone inclined toward such an experience would leave feeling their time was wasted. If you like movies about misfits banding together to destroy arms manufacturers, you should check it out!

I also saw a vintage flick that survived through the decades to still engross, mesmerize and thrill. Black Narcissus is a story about a group of nuns who take on the task of renovating an Indian general’s old palace into a school/medical clinic for the poor, farming villagers. The atmosphere of the valley the movie is set in seems to start affecting them, however, and soon all manner of crises, both physical and metaphysical, envelope them. If I’m not mistaken, the film won an Oscar for Best Cinematography back in the day, and it’s totally deserved. The film starts out relatively demurely, but soon vivid Technicolor threatens to overwhelm the drab habits of the nuns and the final half an hour of the film is some top-notch suspense that even Hitchcock could envy. Black Narcissus also has some of the best non-horror (or is it?!) makeup I’ve ever seen. If you watch it, you’ll know what I mean. And no, I’m not talking about all the white people they painted brown. Criterion Collection recently put out a new, remastered version on DVD and Blu-Ray and I’m considering picking it up, but I also went a little spend-crazy over the weekend with some other Criterion titles since they were all on sale. So we’ll see! At any rate, if you love furtive stares from nuns you won’t want to miss this one!

Crisis Core – A Crisis Chore

August 21, 2008

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII is the latest and hopefully last installment of Square’s disastrous Compilation of Final Fantasy VII intermedia project. There was a movie, an anime OAV, a cellphone game, a Devil May Cry-type shooting game and finally a PSP game, each more disappointing and ulcer-inducing than the last. Apparently. I couldn’t tell you. I didn’t go anywhere near Dirge of Cerberus and the cellphone game isn’t available outside of Japan. It looks awful anyway. That leaves the anime, which was only 30 minutes or so and I struggle to remember anything that happened in it – I do remember hating it – and the movie, Advent Children, which now stands as the only thing in the whole compilation to come to any level of quality. That’s an incredibly unpopular opinion, but one that’s easy to defend. All Square cares about now is cutscenes and nonsensical stories anyway and at shy over 100 minutes there are much worse ways than Advent Children to spend your time and money on – like on the 15 hours and 40 bucks it takes to get through Crisis Core‘s campaign.


(more…)