Month: October 2015

Kingdom Hearts CoM – Wind-Up Castle

com-2015-10-30-17h57m00s474Floor 9 opens with a cutaway to Axel, who is talking to the blonde artist. And just in case you had your doubts, this is where the game confirms that the girl is Naminé.

The scene plays out somewhat different in each version. In the GBA version, Axel says he knows how Naminé feels, but says not to get her hopes up. “Nobodies can’t be somebodies.” He then adds: “But maybe… there’s something you can do.”

In Re:CoM, he clarifies what he’s talking about, saying how much it must hurt to see her childhood friends fighting over her. “You have my sympathies. From the heart.” Naminé looks away in disdain, and Axel says not to waste her time. “We Nobodies can’t be somebodies.”

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Now that Sora remembers Naminé, her face is fully visible in 3D sequences.

While there’s something to be said about the ambiguity of the original, and how it cuts off on the spot, I think I prefer the new version. Axel is more clearly taunting Naminé in the new version, while in the GBA he seems to be harsh for harshness’ sake (Axel was more cold in the original game, in all instances, so this is in-character but still arbitrary).  Better, in the new version “Nobodies” is capitalized even when it’s in the middle of a sentence, and the grammar makes it clear that “Nobodies” is a term, not an adjective, and that the term applies to both him and Naminé. In fact—holy shit folks, they’re Nobodies!

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Final Fantasy Legend II – Dammit, stand still and let me murder you!

fflii-2015-10-28-15h45m32s446After wiping the goblin blood off our MAGI, we returned to Ki to find her unconscious, the MAGI in her body agitated by Ashura’s invasion force or… something. Why didn’t they just take the stuff and leave? According to Ki’s assistant healer, we would have to retrieve the MAGI ourselves or Ki would die, so it was time for our party to go full-on Trauma Center on our patient. KillBot 5000! Get the good knife!

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Kingdom Hearts CoM – What’s Her Name, What’s His Name, and Bob

com-2015-10-26-12h48m08s405Sora’s ruthless friendship is not enough for him to run Riku into the ground, and he’s disappeared by the time you make it up the stairs. He probably just opened the door without flashing a World Card at it first. Did you ever consider that, Sora? Did you ever just try the handle?

Donald and Goofy catch up, and Goofy’s line here is a little more confusing than it may seem at first glance: “Are you all right?” It’s a fine point of concern, but it ignores the fact that Donald and Goofy were popped out of existence during the last sequence in the 3D version.  That’s not just me giving a complaint about the visuals: Donald and Goofy’s absence from the previous scene gives the momentary impression that Sora might have been the only one who saw Riku in the first place, as though he were some sort of illusion like that conversation with Aerith.  When you consider Goofy’s “Are you all right?” in that context, it implies you’ve been swinging at the air and chasing ghosts for the past five minutes. Thankfully, everyone starts talking about Riku without Sora saying another word, but thanks for the confusion.

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Final Fantasy Legend II – Save the World: Abandon Your Child

Screenshot_2Final Fantasy Legend II begins, much like its predecessor, with a legend to get your wheels turning: a statue of the goddess Isis was broken into a series of 77 relics called “MAGI” that are blessed with such innate power, that people have begun to use them to become “New Gods” to fill the void left by the creator gods. This is one of my favourite premises, it really appeals to my inner munchkin.

Full disclosure: this is a game from my childhood, and so, like FFLI, this Journal is being written from an informed position instead of the uninformed position that normally defines the Journals. Like FFLI, I was never able to beat this game, though I did make it all the way to the final boss once. The entire game was new to Kyle.

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Kingdom Hearts CoM – Is that a trident behind your back or are you just… uh…

com-2015-10-23-13h09m32s212Floor 7 begins with another scene between Axel and Larxene, this one actually well done. They’re spoiling us! Larxene comes back into the room saying “Whew… Throwing the battle back there really wore me out.” And Axel says: “Really? It looked to me like you just plain lost.” This is hilarious, why can’t they be dicks to one another like this all the time? Also, it’s interesting to see how we’ve gone from Axel definitely throwing the battle at the end of Floor 1 to Larxene only possibly throwing the battle at the end of Floor 6. Sora is getting stronger, and in a few more floors you know that we’re finally going to beat someone fair and square. Also, if Larxene gave you trouble in the boss fight, Axel’s line probably feels refreshing.

Their spat is interrupted by the arrival of a new Organization member, a pale-haired fellow named Vexen, voiced by Derek Stephen Prince of Digimon and Bleach fame (he was also the voice of Elgar and Treacheron on Power Rangers, and of course I’m going to point that out). Vexen is much older than the other Organization members we’ve seen so far, which Axel sees fit to point out later in the conversation (I’d say Axel and Larxene were in their early twenties, but I’ve known Square Enix long enough to imagine they might be in their late teens). Axel asks what brings Vexen “topside,” our second hint that this Castle has a basement, and Vexen says that he’s not sure Sora is worth all this trouble everyone is putting him through. Vexen loudly announces that he is A Scientist and Scientists Do Research. No, no, keep reading off your two-point character description, that’s fine, I don’t have to make you look simplistic if you’re going to do it for me.

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Final Fantasy IV: The After Years – Passing the torch to burn the next generation

com-2015-10-21-17h40m08s289The Crystals, Part 3

The Depths are more than twenty stories deep, so excuse me if I speed things up. The Depths mark the line where the 3D version, previously a fairly close replica of the PSP version of TAY, goes gallivanting off in its own direction, much to the consequence of my screenshots.  The Depths in the cell phone, WiiWare and PSP version are guarded by additional Crystals, like the levels above, but filled with bosses from other Final Fantasy games, using the sprites already made available in previous remakes (namely FFI 20th Anniversary, which features cameos from these same bosses).  This caries the somewhat uncomfortable implication that the worlds of FFI, II, III, V and Vi may have been destroyed by the villain of TAY in the same manner as the blue planet, though I’ve never really subscribed to that theory, figuring instead that they were simply similar monsters from similar worlds.

The original 3D smartphone version, unfortunately, couldn’t use sprites from other remakes, as it’s a 3D game after all.  While the models from FFIII would have been available, that would have left TAY four games short.  While I personally would have been far more interested in buying a copy of TAY 3D if it had included brand new 3D models of bosses from FFs I, II, V and VI, Square Enix decided they’d rather cut corners, and I don’t think I can blame them, no matter how cool the alternative would be.  It also helps that they shrunk down the dungeon while they were at it.  Personally, I find the referencial kitch of the 2D versions to be a net selling point, but I’m hardly everyone and I imagine that a lot of other players could be discouraged by the sheer size of the original dungeon.  In the end, the 3D version cut back most of the bosses, leaving their treasures – though a new set of “Lunar” Eidolons (boring recolours of the bosses from The Crystals: Part 1) exist to guard the biggest prizes.

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Kingdom Hearts CoM – Genie, get me a danish!

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Sora’s list of Sleights. Mickey symbols indicate Friend sleights.

While Sora and Aladdin run off to the Palace gates (once again never entering the Palace), let’s wrap up the one remaining central game mechanic: Sleights. Sleights aren’t hard to understand once you understand Combo Attacks, or at least at the basic level. Out once you try to put them into action, you’ll find things are a little more complicated than they may have seemed.

The easiest way to explain Sleights is probably to talk about spells. If you play one Fire card, Sora casts Fire, right? But if you stock three, he’ll cast Firaga, and god help any poor Blue Rhapsody that fly in front of your Keyblade during that. Two-card sleights are a little more complicated, in that the cards have to be stocked next to one another: Fire -> Fire -> Keyblade means Sora will cast Fira and then swing his keyblade at dead air, but Fire -> Keyblade -> Fire is just a combo attack. This simple Sleight pattern applies to every spell, Friend Card and Summon, so it’s not even something you have to remember. Have two Goofys? Play two Goofys and get an upgraded spin attack from our shield-wielding friend!

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Final Fantasy IV: The After Years – The Immortal Slog

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The party selection begins!

The Crystals – Part 2

This chapter began with us in control of Ceodore, but a quick chat with anyone soon gave us the option to swap party members. We could use anyone from the previous chapters, with Cecil joining us anew at Level 40, far above the rest of the party… and useless. Cecil’s stats had been floored by his mental state, and were kept bolstered only by his top-tier equipment, though they were still below the intended level. This put us in an awkward state. We did not want to check ahead in the walkthroughs, but the Marathon’s rules state that we have to check ahead to make sure we don’t lose any optional party members.  As a result, we knew a secret: we would need a party of Cecil, Golbez, Ceodore and Rosa to keep Golbez alive past a certain point of this dungeon, or Golbez would die.  Cautious about this but not sure when it would actually happen, we made sure to use this exact party for most of the dungeon, including Cecil.  This was a terrible mistake.

To fill the final party slot, we drafted Kain after some deliberation. When we finally did notice how poorly Cecil was doing, we considered swapping him for Luca (my choice) or Edge (Kyle’s), but never did it. We were just too nervous about losing Golbez.  This might surprise some people, but it actually took us a while to notice that Cecil was even doing sub-par!  This was because Rydia had been doing very poorly during The Gathering Tale (and would continue to do so until she got her -aga spells) that Cecil’s pathetic stats almost seemed half-decent in comparison. Seriously, what was wrong with Rydia in this game?

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Kingdom Hearts CoM – The Worst Wish Ever Grand Championship

tay-2015-10-17-00h16m59s186Axel gave you five cards at the end of Floor 1, and now you’re on the last of the set. You just know that some plot stuff is going to happen at the other side of this floor, because if it didn’t, you’d be at a dead end, wouldn’t you?

We return to Axel and Larxene at their crystal ball. This is that other half of the scene with the awful voice direction that I mentioned earlier. Larxene opens the scene happy that Sora is remembering the blonde girl. This isn’t that surprising when you think about it: Sora was led here by one of the cloaked Organization members, they have the girl in one of their rooms, and they obviously want him to remember something related to their captive. The question becomes what they want specifically, and why.

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Final Fantasy IV: The After Years – Dazed and Underlevelled

com-2015-10-14-08h33m17s232The Crystals – Part 1
Thanks to reader hyperion09, I’ve been informed that this chapter was originally divided into three in the original cell phone release, while it was amalgamated starting on the WiiWare version.  On the PSP, Part 1’s chapter was called “The Gathering Tale” but I’m getting conflicting reports about the others, so I’m just going to use the name given by the game: The Crystals. No “Tale” subtitle, either. I’ll delineate them as released on cell phones so that I can at least have regular section breaks.

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