Mushroom Soup For The Pixelated Soul
Looks like I spoke too soon about giving the Final Fantasy posts a break; Just when I thought the media surge was over, even more trailers and scans have popped up on the internet, covering nearly all of Square Enix’s upcoming blockbuster hits.
Count yourself lucky, fans, because I’m going to collect all that info, including a nice big avi file that collects all the Re: DVD trailers into one 600mb movie. And yes, you can play it on your Playstation 3.
So let’s get that link out of the way so you can read the rest of my post while you download. Grab the Re: Collection trailer here. For those preferring a torrent, you can grab one here. Thanks to Kagari of NeoGAF for the ripping and uploading of this file.
Now, as Kefka would say, let’s get this party started.
Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete:
With the exception of this year’s The Dark Knight, Final Fantasy VII’s epic return as 90 minute CG movie was the last time I truly became excited for something. I’m talking Nintendo Sixty-Fouuuuuuuuuur excited. Not only was it a proper return for the characters and setting that left so abruptly in 1997, but it also served as an introduction to an independent series of FFVII-related spinoffs and sequels.
Many people shared my sentiment, but then soon scoffed at the film for being essentially a 90 minute FMV of nonstop fighting and little development. I was fine with the film, knowing that above all else it was supposed to be a fanservice movie, but it certainly could have slowed down a bit and added more expositional dialogue.
Which is why I can’t help but get excited again at the Blu Ray version of the film, which adds brand new and extended scenes (reportedly around 30 minutes more). This trailer is the first confirmation that there will be new dialog scenes in addition to the extended fights. For fans fresh off of Crisis Core, there will also be an extended flashback sequence with Zack (and I can only hope we’ll get some highlights of his final battle in that game). For people who scratched their heads at the origins of Geostigma and Kadaj, both plot points will also be addressed in full during the added conversation.
But will we be getting any extra scenes not involving Cloud? Could the rest of the party get their due in some new encounters? Aside from a new sequence where Denzel dispatches an enemy, that has yet to be revealed. It sure would be cool if Tifa’s fight with Loz would get changed so the battle ends in her favor.
Fabula Nova Crystallis:
The videos for both games are still available in my previous post, or you can just watch the ones included in the Replay file above. Some new scans have appeared for both games, including one from this week’s Jump magazine, showcasing a pretty picture of Sera along with some official shots of the game’s battle mode. It also reveals that “Sera” may just be an alias, as the character’s official name is listed in the scan, to the confusion of translators; The best they can decode from the Kanji is “Wolva Dia Vanilla”, with alternate translations of the first name as “Vova” or “Wova”. I’m certain I’m not the only one to be reminded of an old Seinfeld joke (that’s two for FFXIII).
Regardless, they are certain her last name is indeed “Vanilla”. Make of that what you will.
Some new scans of Versus have been included as well, with no new information aside from the full names of Noctis and Stella (which I won’t attempt to replicate in this post), along with a couple Agito pics for good measure. All scans can be found below (click for bigger size):
And to top things off, here’s a simple but effective fan-art of Sera (or Vanilla, rather) by GAF member KurowaSan:
Kingdom Hearts Portable Series:
The Square Enix love didn’t stop with Final Fantasy, though. Also included in the Re: DVD were new trailers for the three upcoming Kingdom Hearts spinoffs. Obviously, this is Square’s biggest moneymaker right now, so it’s only natural that these titles not only get a near-simultaneous release worldwide, but also push the portable systems to the limit with big budget graphics.
Birth By Sleep is the most impressive looking of the three titles, showing graphics practically on par with KHII on the PS2…so much so that it could be mistaken as a legitimate sequel instead of a prequel, set 14 years prior to the first game, and starring three new characters (one of them, Ven, having an obnoxiously obvious connection to Roxas, including the same VA) who venture into previously unseen worlds, including Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella’s worlds. The latter level looks quite entertaining, with a large path leading to her castle (the same one you’d take in the theme park), and an encounter with Lucifer (the cat, not the devil). Sleeping Beauty’s level features an encounter with an enchanted boss version of the spindle that pricked her finger, which is amusing considering how far Square must have reached to decide on a boss like that.
358/2 Days, which is probably the most confounding RPG subtitle ever, looks to really rev up the drama with an all-too serious look into Roxas and Organization XIII, filling in the one year gap from Chain of Memories to KHII. The cutscenes are quite marvelous to look at, and the only way they could have outdone the sympathy factor with soft-speaking cutie Xion is by making her a puppy (which would make about as much sense as her very existence as Organization XIII’s fourteenth member. And if they’re trying to imply that she’s the Nobody of Kairi, I was under the impression that role was filled by Namine). The actual gameplay looks pretty fun too, allowing four players to play as any of the Organization members (I call Xaldin!), but the DS graphics really sting compared to the beefier PSP hardware.
It still looks better than Coded, which admittedly looks impressive for a cellphone game, but I have doubts if our phones will even be able to run it; We still haven’t gotten Before Crisis, after all.
Parasite Eve: The Third Birthday:
There really isn’t much that can be gathered from this brief teaser, but the underlying message is clear enough: We’re finally getting a Parasite Eve sequel, and Square wised up by moving it from the cellphone to PSP. One of these days I’ll have to try the second game, despite the many criticisms against it. I’ve also forgotten how sweet that main theme is.
Dissidia: Final Fantasy Impressions:
Before I wrap this post up, I’d like to offer my impressions on Dissidia after playing a few battles. Now that the game is officially out in Japan, I decided to “sample” it on my American PSP. I won’t get into the details, since you can easily find out yourself with just a little bit of searching, but I wanted to see how much of the game I could figure out without using any guides.
For my first playthrough, I stuck to Player vs CPU battles, instead of trying the main story. From the outset, you’re able to choose all the heroes from the Cosmos side, with none of the Chaos villains or extra characters available yet. I first decided to use Warrior of Light against Firion. After selecting an opponent, you get to pick a stage, set some parameters on the CPU, choose a BGM of your choice, and equip one out of a pair of items, each offering different stat boosts (extra HP, DEF+, etc).
The fights are just as entertaining as they look in the trailer. You’re primarily locked on to your opponent, with the camera doing a respectable job of displaying both characters no matter how far apart they get (with a few minor instances of your view becoming obstructed by levels with ceilings, such as the Magitek Research Facility). Battles can vary in length depending how much you’ll want to play tag with your opponent, or vice versa. All characters have the ability to climb up walls and pillars, as well as double jumping and dodging indefinitely. It can be a quest in itself to catch up to a speedy opponent who climbs up three walls and zooms away, but supposedly there’s a button command to let you instantly catch up to them, but I haven’t found it yet.
The O button is the primary attack (likely to get mapped to X for NA), which in WoL’s case is a series of slashes, while the Square button is a magic attack (beams of light, natch) that can be charged. X is for jumping, and R1 is for blocking. Push X and R1 and you can dodge, which is essential to avoid some of the big attacks. You can launch opponents into the air, push X to zoom up to them, and O to give them a hard hit that launches them further into the air, or right into a wall. The opponent can counter the launch and put you on the receiving end to a chunk of granite, or the two of you can keep slashing and dodging each other in midair. This is the highlight of the game, as it reeks of cool to watch two fighters climb walls (and in one case, on top of a ceiling, in which the camera rotates to both of them as they’re upside down), launching one person into the air and then engaging in an aerial battle for supremacy. It reeks of Advent Children, but it also works effectively.
What I can’t figure out is the HP system, in which under certain combinations, attacks can deal far more damage than normal, to the point that a losing character can quickly turn the tide with a devastating attack. The game rewards counterattacks, at the very least, as well as hitting an opponent from behind or during a failed dodge maneuver. There’s also a bar that fills up for the EX-mode, but it can fill up instantly if you collect a glowing bell that materializes in the field, much like the Smash Ball in Super Smash Bros Brawl. Whoever mad dashes it to the bell can then perform the EX-mode by hitting the opponent with a Square+R1 attack, which then results in different commands for each character; For Cloud, it’s tapping the Circle button for Omnislash, for Terra it’s a directional pad+button combination, and Squall’s depends on the correct timing of R1, just like in his own game. For people on the receiving end of an EX attack, pressing Circle rapidly will fill up a gauge to the left which I assume is to reduce damage, but that won’t do you a lick of good if you’re already at low health.
The AI is vicious in this game, at least for someone inexperienced as me. In my battle of Warrior of Light against Firion, it took four attempts to barely subdue him, as he always managed to get off an EX-mode finish. My next play of Cloud vs Squall fared a bit better, as the two were about evenly matched. The next battle of Cloud vs Zidane was a lot tougher, due to his speedy moves and small size. As for Terra vs Cecil, the Dark Knight/Paladin whooped the living crap out of the poor half-Esper. Terra’s regular attacks do very little damage, in which it falls upon you to use her more advanced spells. She certainly has a lot of variety, with each attack mapped to a particular element (Ice, Fire, Wind, Water, Earth), but she must have very low defense considering how Cecil pummeled her with his Dark Wave and lance attacks. His EX-mode is particularly painful, in which he attacks you as both a Paladin and a Dark Knight, chaining attacks from both jobs. At least I was able to pull an EX-mode of my own, in which she morphs into her Esper form and charges up for a big magic spell. I particularly liked that finishing an opponent off in Esper mode has her do an exclusive victory pose under that very form.
The stages I tried were Garland’s Castle from FFI, the dimensional castle from FFV, the Lifestream from FFVII, and the Magitek Resarch Facility from FFVI. Many of these areas have no floors, but it isn’t hard to maintain yourself in the air. Even if you do fall, you’ll just pop up on solid ground with a small deduction of HP. Of the areas I tried, the Lifestream was the most entertaining, as there’s nearly no limit to where you can climb; Watching two characters running up the walls of life energy, then dashing toward each other in the air was a thing of beauty. The Magitek factory was a bit confusing with its multiple paths, but has an interesting aesthetic where you can get a boost in energy by standing under certain patches of glowing particles (Magitek energy, or leaked Esper energy? I suppose they’re one and the same, regardless).
Much of the music is either classic tracks taken from an existing arrangement (such as the Black Mages or the Orchestral performances), but there’s some brand new arrangements too, including, finally, an arrangement of my favorite boss theme, The Fierce Battle from FFVI. The arrangement of FFIX’s standard battle theme was quite entertaining as well.
While it still isn’t confirmed if there are any unannounced characters, the game doesn’t lack in extras; more than once after a battle, I would be greeted by a tiny sprite Chocobo, kweh kwehing about while a tiny icon appeared above its head (such as a music note or a sword icon), no doubt indicating that I’ve unlocked a new item or BGM. There’s also greyed out icons in the main menu, possibly extra modes that require unlocking. It seems that you also automatically receive a new item when playing the game at a certain day or time.
All in all, Dissidia delivers, even though the paltry list of characters is highly unfortunate. The actual game itself can be played just fine without knowing any kanji (but you might require a guide for the more complex commands), but I’ll only be playing a few brief sessions before shutting down for good and waiting for the official NA release.
Tune in when my Mirror’s Edge review will go up, which should be around Friday. That should also conclude any further Final Fantasy posts for a while. Maybe. Probably.
*All images taken from FFXIII-net.
*Sera fan-art provided by KurowaSan of NeoGAF.