Posts Tagged ‘Final Fantasy’

Again, if you compare an RPG to an automobile, the Plot is your environment and destination, the Battle System is your engine, and the characters are driving. Now, what’s a car trip without some tunes? Music is another piece of any video game that cannot be overlooked. Music can make or break a game. The only thing more memorable than the music in a game like Tetris is how mad you get when you get 6 or 7  Z pieces in a fucking row. SEVEN.

Everyone knows that music is key, and its almost retarded to even bring it up, but certain games stand out from the crowd in terms of music.

Feel free to add http://www.rainymood.com to each of these tracks, except for Dead Space…Lul.

1. Shadow of the Colossus- Brilliant, critically acclaimed score. This soundtrack ranges from silence to the most epic shit you could ever hear as you stab giant fucking rock monsters with your sword. The scoring is perfect, the music kicks in exactly when it’s supposed to and gets increasingly epic or decreasingly solemn based on the situation the character is in. It’s comparable to the early episode of Family Guy when Peter gets his own theme music. Here’s a battle, watch it if you want to see a cool game and hear an even cooler track.

2. Anything Worked On By Nobuo Uematsu- A pioneer of the VG music industry, Uematsu composed music in every single Final Fantasy game, also adding arrangements to Chrono Trigger, and a number of other games. A particular composition i’m waiting to hear in full is the new game The Last Story, which unfortunately is only being released in Japan at the moment. His knowledge of themes is outstanding, this particular piece is a favorite of mine and takes place when you reach a new planet in Final Fantasy IX, it’s a strange and mystical world, and the music perfectly represents this theme.

3. Earthbound- The strangest musical tracks you will ever hear inhabit this game, but it’s one of the most fitting soundtracks i’ve ever heard. It is original, it’s funky, it’s weird, but overall i think its very enjoyable. There’s a strange brand of humor within this game and it emerges every so slightly even in the music. I’m not sure which track i want to post so i’ll post two of them.

4. Braid- Holy Shit. This is the first game since Earthbound that i actually realized the music was one of the best things about it before i was 5 minutes into playing it. There are 8 tracks in this game which all come from already existing albums, it was more of a compilation, and not really an original soundtrack. The game is only $15 on the Playstation network and xbox live, so get it if you like puzzle-oriented games. Or if you know me just come over and play it on my Playstation 3 ❤ ❤ ❤ The music is boring to some, soothing and awesome to others. Listen if you wish, i’m putting my favorite track up because i don’t give a FUCK. I’m a bamf.

I’m lonely.

5. Dead Space 1 and 2- Dead Space doesn’t even have a soundtrack that i can see, per se, but the music that pops up accomplishes exactly what it is meant for: Establishing mood. It’s shrieking string sections let you know that shit is going down, and a necromorph is about to cut your legs off and then throw you around like a rag doll. The music is sharp and random, and it reminds me of the two murder scenes in Psycho. Each time my hairs stand up on end. Even the pubes! Here’s a scene, P.S. The guy playing is really bad:

Enough examples, you get the idea. The importance of music lies in the establishment of themes, mood, and of course, just having some groovy tunes to rock out on when you’re being awesome. One particular thing I’d like to see is multiple battle music tracks for RPG’s. This isn’t a brand new idea, as Final Fantasy games did have different tracks for boss battles, as well as event battles when the music in the environment was different, and would not change during battle. Example here:

Please ignore the guy talking.

But this isn’t enough for me, there’s a lot of grinding (bumpin’ and grindin’ CHYEA) to be done in RPG’s and the same battle music over and over again gets annoying. I couldn’t even tell you if they fixed this in FFXIII because the game was so bad i blocked it out. I know that Tales of Symphonia had a cool thing where the battle music was different on the ***SPOILER ALERT*** other world that you travel to. Or maybe it was on the 2nd disc, i don’t remember.  Either way it’s cool but both themes still get repetitive after a while. They can spend a little time composing multiple music tracks, IMO.

Shout out to Kylie Butler, Amy Morton, and Heather Preyer for retweeting my blog, and thanks to (i don’t think) nobody else. It doesn’t take that much to RT or repost, so thanks if you’re a good internet friend. And if you have a blog you don’t advertise it enough, because i’d repost it often.

Sorry it’s been a while but there’s been moving going on, I had no internet for a while, and there was a death recently i’m sure most of you know about. I’m not going to talk about it because i prefer to leave some things private, i’m just making excuses for being a crappy blogger. Alright, so the next part should be up soon, I think next i’m just going to talk about the appearance of the game, as well as the intangibles of an RPG. Seeya next time 😀


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To sum up the character portion succinctly, I could talk about characters forever, the main objective is to create a cast of characters that are likable, realistic, identifiable, interesting, and dynamic. This is especially important in games with a Silent Protagonist, because the main character lacks a certain identity, however filled in by the player it may be. If you have characters that are awesome, it’s very, very hard to fuck up the game from this point on. Still, its possible, for there are other important ingredients that make up an RPG.

3. The Combat System- The combat system is the action part of the game, it passes the time between story dialogue, FMV’s and general exploration of the world. There are quite a few types of combat systems out there, turn based, open battle, linear motion, hack and slash, and combinations of those, and others i have not mentioned due to potential length problems. The two main differences between most RPG’s will be if they are

Open battle- Characters will move about dungeons and towns freely and randomly encounter enemies as if they are a natural part of the environment, there is no “Battle Animation” where the screen changes and the graphics are different, and enemies appear. Games include: Mario, Zelda, Final Fantasy 12, Kingdom Hearts, ETC.

Closed Battle- Characters will randomly encounter enemies based on a factor of time and movement, or even by running into a representation of a Monster/Enemy. This prompts a shift in the game where you are transported from the main overworld and into a Battle Screen. Games Include: Earthbound, Grandia, Most Final Fantasies, ETC.

But there are other nuances that can make or break these systems. At face value, open battle seems much more exciting, it allows for a constant gameflow, and there is a more natural feel to it. Also, closed battle has repetitive characteristics such as music themes, experience screens, and unchanging character movement. But, upon deeper inspection, game developers can and have found ways to make closed battle sometimes even more exciting.

In my mind, closed battle makes more sense in games where you control your entire party, this is because the human brain can’t move as quickly as a computer, so closed battle, especially when playing Wait instead of Active, allows the player to make decisions while the computer has already made decisions, but they are held from execution until the player is finished. Think of yourself not as a general leading 3 or 4 men into battle, but as the brain of each character, and you tell each of them what to do, and who to fight. This is a bit overwhelming and can take time, so if there are multiple characters being controlled, it should either be closed battle and turn based, or a multiplayer RPG like Zelda Four Swords, or the Tales series.

Games like Kingdom Hearts work with open battle because you’re only concerned about controlling Sora, and the hack-and-slash elements make this even more appealing, along with the A.I. being very efficient at controlling your other two party members. It makes for a very exciting, more action-based battle, instead of a more strategic one.  This is not to say that these games aren’t strategic though, if they have depth, they can be. Depth is so important in RPG’s because as you get deeper into the story, there should be deeper aspects of the general gameplay as well. You should be rewarded with cooler abilities or actions as you face stronger enemies.

Examples of exceptionally acclaimed battle systems:

*****spoiler alerts*****

Closed Battle- Tales of Symphonia- I could have picked any tales game, but this is the first one I played. The closed battle system allows you to control one character at a time, it is called the Linear Motion Battle System. It is real-time, not turn-based. It also allows other players to plug-in and control other party members. Also, voice acting accompanies every attack.  This is the first RPG I’ve been able to play with a friend, and it is F.U.N. Best example of non-boring closed battle i can remember. Video example:

Grandia- Closed battle AND turn-based, you would expect this game to be a little boring like most of its kind, but it delivers in other ways. The characters had decent voice acting, with the game being on Dreamcast in 2000, and the attacks were very well designed, instead of running from one side to another, the characters had a free range of movement within a large circle. Each attack would be a combo instead of a single hit, and magic and skills had different Areas of Effect, putting placement strategy into the mix. There are also a feature where could cancel enemy attacks, as well as be canceled yourself. Spells had line damage, circle damage, and All enemy damage. The visual aspects of the magical attacks were very beautifully incorporated into the regular graphics. Truly a revolutionary battle system, here’s a video of it.


Open Battle- Kingdom Hearts- To be able to run around and fight in real-time and cast spells, use items, and simply hack-and-slash was pretty revolutionary. It was easy to learn, hard to master, but always exciting. Different forms, including limit breaks and summons were incorporated, creating a truly unique battle system. The game included different reactionary commands that were specific to certain battles and added an intangible flavor. Awesome fucking game.

Zelda and Mario are easy examples of open battle RPG’s, and don’t require much explanation. If you need to see a video of a Mario game, please stop reading my blog and go away.

My point here is that Battle Systems are very, very important. Think of an RPG as a car, and the combat system is the engine. The plot is the destination that you’re going to. The music is the music. The graphics are the scenery. None of it matters if you can’t move through smoothly and excitedly. The engine is an integral part. A shitty engine will still work, but won’t be as stylish or enjoyable. Good features to add to Battle Systems include statistic reports, difficulty levels, techniques, combo moves, limit breaks, joint attacks, and I’d like for there to be multiple music tracks. I mean, come on. But that’s for the music section. Another part ending here, I don’t want to ramble on and on. I could use an editor.

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RPG is a pretty annoying term. Most games involve an aspect of role-playing. Colloquially in my “circles” (i loathe myself) an RPG is typically a game where a story is told through encounters with characters that have deep, meaningful interactions with each other and the environment. These games typically involve a Leveling system of some sort, a Combat system, as well as extensive dialogue that is told through text and possibly voice-acting. They are basically playable novels that are generally more focused on the story than the gameplay in general, meaning if you are playing the game, there is usually a reason other than to get kills, like a shooter, or solve puzzles, like Portal.

So when i say RPG i’m obviously talking about games like Final Fantasy, The Mother series, Chrono Trigger, so on and so forth.

Now that we’ve got that straight, lets get down to what i consider makes a good great RPG

1. The Story- This is obviously the most important part of a STORY based game. What is the point of a book with cursive pretty print if the words describe a shit taken by an alcoholic? But enough about Lindsay Lohan’s autobiography.

RPG stories are so important i almost feel stupid even writing about it, but it seems lost on certain people who make them SHIT. I’m talking to you Yasumi Matsuno, Jun Akiyama, and Daisuke Watanabe(sometimes). The story is usually comprised of identifiable elements such as Religion, Politics, Business, Economy, Environment, War, and other obvious novel-type situational elements. These stories often evoke already existing themes from old literature, and combine them with the vision of the writers involved with the game’s creation. This provides an often believable and interesting mix of fantasy and real world situations which can equal pure awesomeness. It keeps the player interested, even if the battle systems can get tedious or repetitive. I’m talking to you every RPG ever. These stories are obviously nothing without the characters that play within them, which are just as important, if not moreso.

2. The Characters- Nothing spells doom for an RPG quite like a shitty cast of characters. That being said, its such an easy task that it’s almost impossible to not have at least one likable character, even if the game is absolute shit, ACHOO FF12 ACHOO Fran. ACHOO. Characters can undergo numerous conflicts, and even permanent death within the RPG world.

I’m going to divide this into a few categories.

2-1- The Main Character(s)- Often called the Protagonist, the main character or characters are who lead us through the game. It is them we are supposed to chiefly identify with, and we see their changes and growth and learn about who they are. They are the driving force of the story itself. I can not stress the importance of a good main character enough. You are usually stuck with this character for the entirety of the game, so they’d better be interesting and  please fucking GOD don’t let them have an annoying voice.

The main character can be male or female, please just let them be interesting. They are often charismatic, headstrong, stubborn, intelligent, resourceful, and generally likable in at least one way. They don’t have to be particularly cheerful, or particularly pessimistic, just energetic in some way, shape, or form. There’s a reason why they are the spotlight, they are natural leaders. For all intents and purposes let us assume the main character is Male, because they almost always are, and let us assume the the direct supporting character is Female. There is usually a relationship there, most often romantic in nature. It’s important that this comes across as natural and not forced. There should be a conflict that these characters undergo in order to test and reveal their personalities and identities.  Main characters also include villians, and the villians should have a very contrasting goal from the heroes. They should be developed just as powerfully as the main characters in order to understand the conflict.

2-2-Secondary Characters- These characters layout the different environments of the game, they represent the other types of people that will interact with and ultimately change the main character. They can help provide insight into the personality of the main by conflicting with them, much like our friends, family, and other loved ones reveal truths about ourselves. These characters are not as important singularly, but on the whole, they make up the entire story. They are also often killed off due to their importance being just little enough so that the game can continue without them.

2-3-Miscellaneous Characters- The truly minor characters are not as important at all, and often are made up of cliche’s and used for comic relief. They make up the towns, shops, and often casualties of war. Very little plot development is interspersed in the interaction with them, but the truly die-hard fans have favorite minor characters. They are also just as important in the long run, because if they get annoying it builds up over time and you can’t even stomach the sight of them.

Examples of Good Main Characters-

Cloud Strife- Cliche to mention FF7, i know, but Cloud is seriously one of the best. He undergoes a massive internal conflict throughout the entire storyline of the game, while also managing several exterior conflicts, he shows failure, growth, success, spirit, doubt, courage, and most importantly, strength. He is not infallible, and he has a really big sword. That counts for something.

Sora- Another lovely character, Sora is an everyman. Taken from his simple island home and thrust into an adventure far beyond his initial understanding, He shows the same traits that main characters should exhibit. He has bravery, failure, resourcefulness, and also remains humorous.

Solid Snake- Not involved in the type of game i’ve been talking about, but Solid Snake is easily one of the greatest video game characters of all time. He is often betrayed, faces ridiculous odds, again shows weakness, strength, mercy, ruthlessness, passion, growth, and various forms of redemption.  Each of these characters, while larger-than-life, is made identifiable to us through their emotions and weaknesses.

Examples of BAD video game characters

1. Vaan- Vaan is an annoying 12-year-old girl who heads up your party in Final Fantasy 12, one of the biggest pieces of shit to emerge on the playstation 2 since Miami Vice…. Yeah, you didn’t even know that was a game, did you? Neither did I. He is instantly a poor choice for a main character considering his real age, which is 17. Now that doesn’t sound too bad, the problem is, he is not portrayed as a 17 year old boy, he is portrayed like i said, as a 12 year old girl. A direct quote from the development team of FF12 states that he was made more effeminate when considering the target demographic. This is related to a growing shift in RPG’s being made to sell units instead of selling a story, or a commentary on society.

2. Lightning- Sorry to beat up on FF games, but the last two were really, really bad. Lightning is an emotionless Zombie. Her only emotions come out towards her retarded sister who seems to have some mild form of video game AIDS.  She is seemingly a Lesbian who mistakens fellow character Hope for a potential mate. She is so force-fed to the audience as a TOMBOY-go-get-em female. More interesting characters can be found on the back of a cereal box. People will argue that FF13 relies on an Ensemble cast, but that argument didn’t work for 12, and it won’t work for 13 either, mainly because all the characters suck.

3. Raiden- It’s no easy task measuring up to the great Solid Snake, that’s like playing a Zelda game where you aren’t Link, but Raiden still remains one of the worst main characters i’ve ever played as. He is so whiny it’s almost unbearable. His history is shoehorned into the storyline so hard i’m surprised it didn’t all fall apart, no i’m not, Hideo i worship you. Anyway, Raiden, or Jack, has few redeeming qualities, and only gets by on the strength of much more interesting characters such as Snake, Otacon, Olga, and even Emma Emmerich.


that’s it for part 1, this is all far too TL;DR anyway. Please leave comments and let me know what you think so far. I’m thinking about making a video review of a game, probably one mentioned or alluded to in this list. Please leave comments regarding interest in that.

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