Tag Archives: Final Fantasy

Quest Update! Episode 12 – Elder Fantasy of Galactic Heroes Reborn

Episode 12 was recorded Friday, March 28, 2014.
Topics: The pros and cons of Final Fantasy, Elder Scrolls Online anticipation, Marvel Heroes is awesome, Revlo jumps off the SoE hate bandwagon, why EA doesn’t suck (as much) anymore, and corruption is a funny thing.

Quest Update! contact info:
Twitter: @questupdate
Facebook: facebook.com/questupdate
E-Mail: questupdate@nerdydirective.com
Website: http://questupdate.nerdydirective.com


Smooth McGroove Releases Final Fantasy X Battle Theme Video

The Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster has been released… and I don’t have it yet. Which is depressing considering that X is one of my favorite titles in the series (following VIII). Smooth McGroove, master of all things video games and Acapella music, released a new video showcasing Final Fantasy X’s Battle Theme. And of course it’s amazing.

Continue reading Smooth McGroove Releases Final Fantasy X Battle Theme Video

Less Grinding, More Strategic Side Questing in Video Games

Not having grown up on video games, I missed out on a lot of Japanese role-playing games — games like the Final Fantasy series that involve loads of grinding. In games like this, it’s pretty typical to get to a boss that you just cannot beat unless you have some extra leveling. This means that if you’ve only completed the main quests, you’ll be under-leveled; you need to explore the world to take on some random enemies so you can level your character more.

JRPGs often make this task easy to tackle, because they scatter enemies all over the place and give you random encounters with them. As you’re traveling from one town to the next, your protagonist is bound to run into a dozen (or more) minor enemies who attack on sight, and you must defeat them to move forward. There’s no running away; a lot of JRPGs have a separate “battle arena” that you enter whenever you encounter an enemy, and you can’t leave the arena until you’ve beaten your opponent or used some special skill or potion that allows you to run away — if you’re lucky.

I love the Final Fantasy XII story, but it can be HOURS of tedious battling between cutscenes.

These parts of games are extremely repetitive. A recent example of a JRPG that has lots of these random encounters is Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, a fun game with a great story that nevertheless manages to feel tedious at times. And that all comes down to the grinding.

But some people love the grinding. They love the separate battle arenas and the random enemies popping up and the extra chances to level. They grind their way through game series like Etrian Odyssey, Tales of, and Final Fantasy. Though I haven’t played a ton of MMOs, I’ve heard they can be similar, and some people love the repetitive calm or the realistic adventure involved in “happening” upon enemies all over the wilderness. Grinding can be fun, but even more fun is the reward of leveling your character.

However, when I know a game could involve lots of grinding, I purposely keep the difficulty low so I don’t have to do much of it. On lower difficulty settings, games usually let you get away with characters who could be considered under-leveled — so there’s no need to whittle away hours and hours of your life replaying what feels like the same battle over and over again.

At first, I thought Fire Emblem: Awakening had the right idea about the whole leveling/grinding issue, because it has lots of optional side quests that act as the “grinding” part of the game. However, the further you get in the game, the more you need to drop Reeking Boxes around the map to conjure enemies. It’s more traditional grinding, and even on the easiest difficulty setting, I’m learning that grinding is an absolute requirement to get through the game. The plus for Awakening is that you can at least choose where you want to battle, which gives you control over the scenery and the difficulty of each fight.

I got started on Western RPGs that don’t involve as much grinding. Games like Dragon Age: Origins are usually forgiving to players who don’t run around leveling; in fact, they’re not even set up for that sort of grind. There’s no place to run in Dragon Age; you just click on where you want to go on the map, and you’ll either appear there magically or get “stuck” for a single random battle before arriving there.

Instead, Western RPGs often have side quests that let you level if you want. But the main appeal of these quests is not the leveling; it’s the extra immersion in the world, the character conversations, the story deepening, and the special loot you get that act as rewards. There’s no meaningless grinding if that valuable leveling takes place while enjoying well-constructed side stories.

Open-world games like Batman: Arkham City and Elder Scrolls: Skyrim have several actual quest lines that you can pursue, either with multiple objectives for the quests or with one quest rolling out after another. This gives you the power of choice in how you develop your characters.

One of the first things you do in Skyrim is choose a Guardian Stone to begin your character's leveling path.
One of the first things you do in Skyrim is choose a Guardian Stone to begin your character’s leveling path.

I would love to see this become more involved in future games. I’ve always liked the idea of avoiding combat through other means, such as stealth or hacking into systems. Whenever I can bring a squad along in a game, I’m happy when they can take a lot of the fire while I do other things. I also enjoy strategizing my way through levels (though I get pretty impatient with stealth in the long run).

An example of what I’d like to see is a quest line that’s very specific to the type of character you want to create. Already, Skyrim levels your character based partly on how much your character uses each skill type — so do lots of blacksmithing, and you’ll get extra smithing points to spend in the skill tree if you so choose. I would love to see this type of specialization expand to quest lines. For instance, in a science fiction game, your character could pursue a certain type of training depending on how you want to level your character. You might choose weapon-based combat to jump into fire fights, or systems engineering if you prefer to act as a hacker who spits turret fire on enemies while finding secret shortcuts.

This is just one potential alternative to grinding that could give a video game much more depth. As we see games becoming much larger in scale, I hope the addition of side quest lines can be rewarding not only with extra story, but also in granting the player better control over how they take on the gameplay.

— Ashley

Full Force: HD Re-Releases and Remakes

Full Force is GFN’s weekly look at some of the biggest news in geekdom, from video games to anime to movies and everything in between. We also welcome your comments below, if you want to join the conversation. This week, our panelists examine the growing trend of HD re-releases.


Kingdom Hearts 1.5 Remix is already out. Wind Waker HD just hit the Wii U Shop. Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD should release by the end of the year. With all these titles and more coming down the pipe, the burning question is this: Are HD remakes of old games a good thing or a bad thing, and why?

Chris: I think as long as big companies like Nintendo and Square Enix are continuing to develop brand-new titles (and hopefully IPs as well), it’s more of a positive than a negative for the industry. Most remakes are cheaper to develop than a brand-new title, so The Big Three can help expand their libraries with more great titles with relative ease.

Chip: These sorts of re-releases have a lot of potential as a means to bring older games to new audiences.  There are so many titles that are lost to the currents of time due to hardware obsolescence and lack of availability.  Just think about the Playstation 2: Gamestop is no longer accepting trade-ins on games/consoles and they are working super hard to get rid of their current stock.  Once they are gone, so many great titles will be relegated to eBay and flea markets like others before them.  HD remakes help to keep these classics in the limelight.

Dave: I think they’re a good thing if done in the right way. If the gaming industry’s creativity is stymied by the cash cow of remakes…then we have a really bad thing on our hands. But if developers use the relatively “easy” money made by HD remakes to take some chances on new ideas, then we all win.

LadyCroft3: I’m on the fence about this one but mainly because I don’t care about 90% of the games being re-released or remade in HD. I think it’s a cool idea and gives this generation the chance to play games that were before their time or that they never had the chance to play and have a hard time going back to now. On the other side I feel like it’s a lazy way to get more money off of past series’ as opposed to actually coming up with something new. I’m not really sure I like either reason for bringing them out again.

Cary: I’m happy to see some new life breathed into old titles, as long as the right titles are chosen. HD remakes don’t seem to be a bad short term solution for companies that maybe need a little economical boost. (Maybe Wind Waker HD will help Nintendo make up for some its losses.) But what the industry doesn’t need is something akin to Hollywood’s sequelitis or rebootism. The video game industry has always thrived on creativity, and we’ve seen the terrible results of oversaturation. So hopefully there’s no “HD remake” virus heading through the industry’s pipeline.

Crystal: I love seeing some old titles remade simply for the fact that they look like absolute poop on my flat screen now! As long as they’re done right, they can be a fantastic way to attract a younger crowd while satisfying the original fans with a product that looks clean. I think of it like wiping off the dust. As long as the price isn’t steep, I wouldn’t mind buying a HD remake. …Now they just need to make one for Final Fantasy VIII.

What’s your main focus when an old series is updated? Fancier graphics? Improved gameplay? New modes and features? Having access on next-gen systems? Would you rather have just a straight port? Or something else not listed above?

Chris: Honestly, I think it depends on the game. In some cases, ports are fine by me, especially when it means taking a great console game and tossing it on a handheld system. Then again, if you can take the time to perfect an already great game, like Persona 4 Golden, that’s the best of both worlds.

Chip: When an older game is updated, I would like to see publishers go all out with a new version.  Provide an HD version of the game (but include the original as well), and jam pack the disc/download with as much bonus material as possible.  Concept art, interviews, making-of features; all of this stuff should be included to shed new light on the effort and magic that makes a certain game so good/influential.  Something like the Criterion Collection, but for video games.

Dave: I think that I would want a port that has fancier graphics and a few extra side quests. I wouldn’t want them to change a classic game’s storyline because they’re remaking it, I would want to see just a cleaner, prettier version of a game that I love with a few extra quests so I can enjoy my time with the characters more…also if they ever gave an option to shorten Knights of the Round…that’d help.

LadyCroft3: Fancier graphics and updated gameplay are a must. I don’t see the point in remaking or re-releasing a game if they aren’t going to pretty it up a little bit. The gameplay is a big deal, I don’t want it changed since that is like making a different game, but I’d like it to be fixed up so that it isn’t difficult to play. Otherwise I’d just play the old games I have on the N64/PSX/PS2/etc.

Crystal: After playing (and becoming addicted to) so many newer titles, playing a game simply for nostalgia’s sake doesn’t really help reinvigorate the game for me. That may be because I’ve sifted through the story a million times already, and in a game that doesn’t offer multiple choices, consequences, etc. it just gets stale. While enhanced graphics are important to me in an HD remake, I’d appreciate some extra content. Something that can kind of enhance the story. If you haven’t guessed… I’m big on storytelling.

Liam: One of the really irritating things is when games don’t update basic options such as networking or AI to compensate for the advances in technology in the interim. With the HD remake of Age of Empires II that came out earlier this year, a number of problems have occurred with the internal AI, in that basic pathfinding and queueing is actually far worse than it was ten years ago, and also with the multiplayer infrastructure; while having Steam capabilities available is nice, having half of the players disconnect seven seconds into a game is not. (This has been “fixed”, and by fixed I mean made far worse in recent patches.) That game is still addictive and fun, especially for the price with which they’ve re-released it, but to not update these basic features with this re-release feels lazy. So, I suppose just updating the game’s basic capabilities so that it holds up with current systems; we wouldn’t be disappointed with the gameplay if we’re clamouring for a remake, right?

What are some classic games that you would like to see considered for an HD remake if you had unlimited dollars and a pimp cane made of solid gold?

Chip: There are so many point-and-click adventure games that I would throw onto the mobile/tablet market, with Grim Fandango at the top of the list.  From an input standpoint, it just makes sense to control games like King’s Quest and Monkey Island using a touch-screen.

Dave: Would I have to sell the pimp cane…or could I raise money by having people pay to look at it? I would absolutely like to see Final Fantasy VII remake, just because I think there’s a lot of beauty that Midgar and the rest of that world can provide. My other one I’d love remade is Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. The problem with GTA IV was that the world was amazing but there was not a good story behind it. If we could get the story of GTA: SA with today’s graphics, I’d buy that again in a heartbeat.

LadyCroft3: I agree with Dave, a Final Fantasy VII remake or “HD-remix” would be glorious. I have a list of games that I would like to see HD remakes of but there is a part of me that thinks they should stay in the past. I just don’t see them being so exciting now compared to newer games and part of the reason I love them is the nostalgia associated with playing them back in the day.

Chris: I had a feeling FFVII was going to come up — and I’ll cast my vote on the side of “not interested.” Then again, my battle against VII spans generations. I wouldn’t mind seeing a full-blown update of Chrono Trigger. The DS port added some content and cleaned up (for better and worse) the original dialogue, but that was about it. Of course, the caveat here is that the remake not ruin the original game in the process.

Dave: I knew you wouldn’t be happy with FF VII Chris, and I’m not even 100% on that one, I just feel like today’s graphic’s might really make up for that questionable storyline. I think the biggest issue of an HD remake is the change from 2D to 3D. I’d love to see an original Zelda remake in 3D, but that would completely change the game that we loved…and I wouldn’t love to see that.

Cary: I wouldn’t at all mind a prettier, beefier version of Banjo-Kazooie. Those fun, colorful levels just call out to the HD gods!  Also, I’m pretty sure I’d play a new Super Mario World just because, especially if they made its great soundtrack crystal clear.

Crystal: Everyone seems to immediately bring up Final Fantasy VII. While I’d enjoy it, Final Fantasy VIII will always be my favorite so I’ll always wish for a remake. What do you guys think about Chrono Cross as a HD remake?

Liam: I would pay an obscene amount of money for a Donkey Kong Country HD Collection or something of the like. Those games are already amazing and still look great, but a HD remaster would make them really pop out and blow people’s minds. Also, Final Fantasy V, because if we’re going to remaster a Final Fantasy game, why not remaster the one that most people missed?

Having a Backlog is Painful


I’m one of those people who can’t not finish a game once it’s been started. As a result, I have to be very careful about which games I start. If I have too many games on the go without finishing them, I begin to feel guilty for some odd reason. I catalogue my ongoing games on my Backloggery account, which could probably be more accurately referred to as a wall of shame. Sometimes, I look at my long list of half-completed games and sigh, not knowing when I’ll ever have the time to give them enough attention.

The feeling of completing a game and putting it on the shelf is super-satisfying to me. When I approach the end of a game, I hate stringing it out any longer; I just want the damn thing to be done and over with. I know some people dread the fun being over so soon, but trust me, I rarely feel that way, even regarding games that I love.

I’ve been chipping away at Final Fantasy Dimensions for about seven months now and it’s been slowly eroding my soul. The game kinda sucks, which certainly doesn’t help, but the excruciatingly long running time (I believe some speedruns place it at 40 hours; I’m currently sitting at about 55 and I’m on the second-to-last dungeon) and the incredibly high random encounter rate have done their best to really make me resent my policies on completing games. Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door recently found its way back into my life, and I’m really itching to give that one a go, but I’ve got FFD, Kirby’s Return to Dreamland, Alan Wake, Lost Odyssey, and Xenoblade Chronicles all awaiting completion. All these 60-hour RPGs are making me cry.

Ideally, I should be playing one console game and one handheld game at a time. That’s what I’m trying to work my way down to, anyway. I’m really hoping to finish off Lost Odyssey before August, FFD before the end of the week, and the rest of them before the summer is over. I’m also playing a few games that don’t really have defined “ends” per se, like Star Wars: The Old Republic and Animal Crossing: City Folk, so that’s probably not helping either.

As I write this, I’m sitting in a hotel room watching the Stanley Cup Final. I already decided that a good chunk of my travel downtime is going to be spent catching up on my writing, as well as finishing up Oliver Twist (that’s a book, not a game, of course). But hopefully I can spend a few hours on the toilet finishing up FFD too, y’know?

Game Sammich Episode 21 – Do Drinking Games Count?


Watch us record episode 21 of Game Sammich LIVE at 6:30pm PST below. If you’d like to chat live with us while we record, head over here, or connect directly via irc to irc.mibbit.net, in the #GameSammich channel.

Tonight we’ll hone in on some of the Most Anticipated Games of 2013, some more FFXIV news, Green Man Gaming, annnnd maybe a little bit of comic book content.

Game specifics:

  • The Walking Dead
  • Remember ME
  • Guild Wars 2
  • Defiance

Guest host Andy Wood from Gamers Circle Comics will be joining us.  Our “not so permanent” permanent co-host Bart is off galavanting tonight.

Video will update once we go live.  Don’t forget to go here and join the irc widget if you want to chat!