My Travels of Spira, Pt. 1

Image

I knew this would happen.

 

From the moment I booted the game up, I knew I was about to take a huge dive. One of my good friends from high school that I spoke of in my previous article sent me a message saying he too had picked up the game. For a good 30 minutes, we were reminiscing about FFX back around 2002 when it was still fresh to us. It was also remotely ironic and amazing that even 10 years later we’re both older with our own daily lives, we giggled and ranted uncontrollably as if it was the cafeteria or a random class in high school all over again, almost as if time wasn’t even an issue. So I asked him if he too was going the Expert Sphrere Grid route; Indeed he did, and was impressed. As of now, I am roughly about 13 hours into the game.

 

Updated visuals was a treat based off of some of the comparisons that were made, but the first thing I happen to notice through my first 30 minutes was the slightly remastered soundtrack. Final Fantasy X has always had what I considered a unique soundtrack, ranging from the various villages and towns (Besaid Island, Kilika, Luca) to some of the battle tracks (Fight, Hurry, Otherworld) as well. To be completely honest, as of where I last left off in the game, I’m a bit 70/30 about the remastered OST. Mind you, I can’t say i’m on the fence on it due to nostalgia but for some songs, but some of their original counterparts had that sweet spot to its composition. I will admit, I’m definitely digging the remastered battle theme. 

 

Once I got the opportunity to use the Sphere Grid for first time, I zoomed it all the way out to see how far reaching this grid goes and I sat back in my chair to contemplate on it. What I had learned from before, is that the Expert Sphere Grid has less nodes (contains a ability or stat) than it’s Standard counterpart, but the biggest draw for being on Expert was the player being able to customize each character as they see fit. Knowing my mind, I was willing to come up with all sorts of crazy mixtures and concepts but decided on a different playthrough to experiment all over the place. The sphere grid wasn’t looking as intimidating as it once was years ago; If there was anything I learned, it’s mainly about ability and stat management across the whole grid. There will be plenty of empty nodes for you to fill in with a stat boosting sphere of your choice but also with the Clear Sphere, you can also clear any stat related node and open it up for a replacement.

 

The first few hours has been nothing but pure fun for me. It almost makes me feel young again as I used to sit and play this everyday after school or randomly on the weekends with friends. Without a doubt i’ll definitely write a few more of my experiences through Spira, explaining different things and going about the game with its other details here and there. Though I never got a chance to pick up the Remastered Soundtrack, going through this first playthrough will definitely add a sense of intrigue and different impressions on how the song was remastered for this title. Until then…

 

Back to Spira.

A 10+ Year Love/Hate Relationship, Revisited

Image

This one has spanned a few years for me. A long time coming, I would almost want to say.

I’ve clocked in about a good 80 to 100 hours into Lightning Returns, which is about a equal amount of time I vested in Final Fantasy XIII and XIII-2. I’ve also acquired the Platinum Trophy for all three titles in the series, yet I find myself still playing them even afterwards. This next title I’ve been politely holding out for has been on my mind ever since it was announced. I held out simply because I knew it would have guaranteed took my focus away from other games. For some reason, I’ve always had a different or unique type of relationship with Final Fantasy X. Not because it’s a bad game, thats far from the reason. It was because of Final Fantasy X, I learned that eventually Japan would get a version called Final Fantasy X: International. Before X had their International variation, the only other game before it that had the International release in Japan was FFVII, which mainly was our (North American) port of FFVII that included extras from the original release in Japan and a bonus disc known as the Perfect Guide.

FFX: International felt like a completely different game in some aspects with the addition of Expert Sphere Grid, New skills, the optional Dark Aeon battles, and other modifications of the combat system. I had a few friends in high school where we used to trade secrets, hints, and much more during break and class as we all played FFX together; It almost went into what we would call a friendly competition of seeing who can do what, who can beat who, and how. It wasn’t until almost a year or two later after International’s release that we found out about it, and we were like…..what? The ironic thing was, FFX: International came out barely a few months after it’s original in Japan, and we were mindblown at all that they added. Bitter? Not really. Angry? Why should we. Disappointed? I would say that was the word. Playstation 2 was not region free, so we had to have owned a Japanese PS2 or a modded one. I actually had a chance to play FFX: International a few years back but never had the chance to really start and finish it. One of my other friends told me about the details that mattered on how to progress in the game with Expert Grid, which truly left me even more sad that we never got this version….until recently.

FFX/FFX-2 HD Remaster is a blessing in disguise, for it’s giving me the opportunity to finally play through the version of the game that I missed out on years ago. Yesterday I booted the game up as soon as I got home, was able to select FFX or FFX-2 to begin my journey. I often thought about starting with X-2 for the sole fact that I actually enjoyed that game, despite the general feeling that it received during it’s release. I went against it, because the full FFX: International experience was 10 years in the waiting for me. Believe me, I feel the same way for Final Fantasy X-2 due to the variation known as International + Last Mission. I can go on and on about it sadly, but that can be for another day for another time.

 

As for now, it’s time to cherish this experience and indulge in the world of Spira once again.

Currently Revisiting: Lightning Returns (PS3)

Lightning-Returns-Final-Fantasy-XIII_015-670x377

I will be honest. I’ve been playing this consistently for the past week, even though I just recently acquired the expansion to Diablo 3, Reaper of Souls. As a avid fan of the Fabula Nova Crystallis series in whole (Final Fantasy Type-0, the one we’ll never get), I can almost see what they attempted to do with last game in the FFXIII trilogy. Story-line wise, it feels as if they cleared up certain things, retconned others, and potentially made even newer topics or notes of debate. The story is not the reason why I’ve been on this kick as of late; The battle system and it’s mechanics is the shining beacon in my eyes.

In Final Fantasy XIII, the battle system was in a way slightly unforgiving in the case that if you, the leader dies, it’s game over. You had a choice of leader, whereas the rest of your party was AI controlled in certain times may be for the best or worst. Paradigms (Class Roles) was a factor in how your strategy would be applied in battle. Moving to Final Fantasy XIII-2, the mechanics were revised to the point where it was less unforgiving with a hint of flexibility. The big difference? We went from a party of 6 to 2, alongside a AI companion in the form of Monster Taming. The option of being able to change leader mid-battle was a draw, as well as if the leader was downed, it would automatically switch to the other playable party member. Here in Lightning Returns, the Active Time Battle system was modified to the point where it could have simply been it’s own individual concept.

One word can summarized what sold me on the new battle system: Freedom. Free movement across the battlefield and the ability to manually block/counter in real time. Coupled with the Schema system (Costume Party!) in which certain garbs that Lightning acquires tends to have different various stats set to them, it makes for the game to be a little more engaging. Away with the preset commands of Paradigms as they had in previous games and in with the ability to set your own skills and actions to any of the four face buttons on your controller. The returning aspect of this system from its previous titles is the ATB Meter, in which every action you take in battle will deplete your meter, some actions will do so more than others. At most, I’ve seemed to notice that this game in particular encourages you to go after various weak spots instead of just simply one, and in all honesty I feel like i’ve barely scratched the surface with explaining this newly called Style-Change Active Time Battle system. I will more than likely write up a follow-up piece to this with more details behind the mechanics.

For a week I’ve been reloading one particular save and simply just running out into the Dead Dunes or the Wildlands and go after some of the bigger enemies I could find. Literally all week. Experimenting. Laughing at my do’s and don’ts. Main thing is…it’s fun. I can honestly say it’s been a while since I’ve had fun like this, and I haven’t even completed the main story yet. It’s a big difference when I was playing a few titles over the past few months just to pass time, but as of recently I may have found that slight spark again.

Now, back to running across these Wildlands on this Chocobo.

Mighty No.9 Coming to Consoles (PS3/360/Wii U)

Might-Number-9

With two weeks left on the kickstarter that’s pushed over $2 million dollars, the vision of Mighty No.9 by industry veteran Keiji Inafune will be coming to home consoles. With it’s intended goal of $900k met in practically a day, the support for this project is simply amazing, with even more goals being added and reaching within its time.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mightyno9/mighty-no-9

Guild Wars 2 is Watching (World Boss Changes)

Tequatl Rising, the next big patch in Guild Wars 2, will come with more than standard rebalancing and fixes. The biggest hype factor behind it is that a majority of the world bosses we all know and love are getting revamped for a new type of fight. The link listed below will show all of the changes happening the moment the patch is downloaded.

https://forum-en.guildwars2.com/forum/info/updates/Game-Update-Notes-17-September