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Found 61 results

  1. I'm back in Final Fantasy XV for the fourth time. The first two forays into its world were playthroughs of the main story with the third being the bitterly disappointing Episode Gladio. This time I've returned for Episode Prompto, which presents an opportunity for Square Enix to redeem Final Fantasy XV's downloadable expansions. Episode Prompto released June 27 as the latest installment in the FFXV extended universe. As the name implies, it is all about the lighthearted goofball of the group, Prompto Argentum. Before going any further I should note that there will be no spoilers for the DLC here, but there are MAJOR spoilers if you have not yet beaten the main game. You have been warned! The events of the DLC take place with Prompto in a bit of an emotional limbo. Noctis has seemingly tried to kill him, and left him behind. Of course the player, and eventually Noctis, know that this is actually the work of colossal baddy Ardyn Izunia. The player is reunited with a devastated and confused Prompto (in a new outfit, for some reason…) in the snowy terrain of Niflheim. The bulk of the story centers around a Magitek production plant, significant due to the major plot bomb that Prompto dropped in Chapter 13. He is a Magitek Trooper (MT), a genetically engineered warrior. Square kept with the trend of differentiating the character’s playstyles, a decision that I certainly appreciate. In Episode Gladio we got to play with the character's brute force, at one point even wielding freaking pillars as weapons. From the very start, Prompto's time to shine feels profoundly different from Episode Gladio. Instead of sheer power, the expansion plays as a third-person shooter with a surprising variety of weapons. While Episode Prompto's combat holds a peppering of frustrating moments and quirks, the overall experience manages to be good fun (simple descriptor intentional). Prompto storms into battle equipped with an infinite ammo pistol, melee weapon, and grenades. He can also scavenge a veritable arsenal of weapons found throughout the world. These include the Rapidus SMG, the Alea Bazooka, and a sniper called the Sagitta Rifle. Cool right? But instead of, oh, you know, reloading your guns - you will ditch these weapons when they run empty. A little annoying, but there are strangely plenty of them around to pick up, an almost a ridiculous amount. These minor annoyances don't really detract from the combat itself, they're more just odd design choices. Square Enix divided Prompto's gameplay between the shooter sequences in the facility and an "open world." I was initially super excited to learn about the inclusion of said open world, but upon closer inspection it was underwhelming. We were treated to snowmobile sequences - something that certainly seems thrilling on paper - but they were rough and seemed like they needed more time in development. Side quests appear within the DLC, too, which seem like another awesome opportunity. Unfortunately the lackluster execution of these quests from a technical perspective leave them severely lacking. Most were glitchy with AI problems galore. Umm hi, why aren't the MTs moving? Enjoyable combat aside, Episode Prompto's greatest strength can be found in its storytelling. Square took opportunities to use gameplay mechanics to unveil the story, something sorely missing in Gladio. As an example, one section has the player running as an MT in simple, but effective gameplay. Though this episode wasn’t radically longer than it’s predecessor, its pacing and tone were more appropriate and compelling. Prompto’s big revelation was kind of thrown into the main game and glossed over. Granted, I didn’t expect the guys to toss him aside, but I wanted more of an explanation. With this DLC, Square created a great opportunity to expand on his story organically versus what we saw with Gladio. These DLC releases habe many purposes for Square, but the main one is storytelling. There were many storytelling devices, flashbacks, audio logs etc., used to pack in as much exposition as possible. They exist to expand on the backstories for Noctis' support system. We saw plenty of Noctis in the core game, which makes sense, but so much of what made FFXV a great experience was getting to see the bond between the four characters. Though at times their in-game interactions were dry and unconvincing, the expanded universe was the chance to build these relationships further in a way that players could finally become fully invested. That’s what made Episode Gladio so disappointing. Instead of getting the chance to understand Gladio more we got a rinse and repeat stereotype with some generic metal music in the background. Episode Gladio devolved his character rather than the other way around. OK, enough rant, it's time for Aranea. Aranea and Prompto stumble upon each other in the facility during an intense moment. The gray-haired warrior helps Prompto out through combat assistance and some tough love, but she never lets him forget that he needs to pull his own weight. Essentially, the two form the team that the world never thought it needed. While players don't get to play as Aranea, she makes appearances and becomes a handy ally in combos and boss battles. Her powerful special attacks were pretty much a godsend for me and supplied an added a unique dynamic to combat. She also helps Prompto navigate through his funk, with full on Aranea attitude of course. As skeptical as I was, their chemistry strangely worked. I would love to see more Prompto-nea in the future (hint hint Square). Since release, a fan base has steadily grown around Aranea in the Final Fantasy XV community, so giving her more screen time in this expansion was a smart move on Square's part. And while I'll still argue that she needs her own DLC, including her in Episode Prompto was at least progress. There were so many characters underutilized in both the core game and the Kingsglaive film - using them here shows that Square is listening to its fans. Conclusion During the entirety of my playthrough of Episode Prompto, I had Episode Gladio on my mind. I'm sure that might have been obvious in reading this review, but it makes me wonder, did I enjoy Prompto's story because it was better than Gladio's? My standards going in were pretty low, actually, something to the effect of "this better be longer than Gladio." Overall, yes, this installment was way better in pretty much every respect, but of course, it could be better. It's my hope that going forward Square will only try to improve upon the experience and create a more complete story rather than rushing out content for content's sake, which unfortunately seems to be the trend for the extended universe. Episode Prompto was a step in the right direction. Fans of Final Fantasy XV looking for additional canonical story for Prompto should absolutely play this episode. Though it had some bugs and camera issues, combat stands out as enjoyable and a refreshing change of pace within the Final Fantasy universe. It shows how these expansions can be done right, and it sets my hopes high for the upcoming Episode Ignis. Final Fantasy XV - Episode Prompto was reviewed on Xbox One and is now for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One View full article
  2. Review: Final Fantasy XV - Episode Prompto

    I'm back in Final Fantasy XV for the fourth time. The first two forays into its world were playthroughs of the main story with the third being the bitterly disappointing Episode Gladio. This time I've returned for Episode Prompto, which presents an opportunity for Square Enix to redeem Final Fantasy XV's downloadable expansions. Episode Prompto released June 27 as the latest installment in the FFXV extended universe. As the name implies, it is all about the lighthearted goofball of the group, Prompto Argentum. Before going any further I should note that there will be no spoilers for the DLC here, but there are MAJOR spoilers if you have not yet beaten the main game. You have been warned! The events of the DLC take place with Prompto in a bit of an emotional limbo. Noctis has seemingly tried to kill him, and left him behind. Of course the player, and eventually Noctis, know that this is actually the work of colossal baddy Ardyn Izunia. The player is reunited with a devastated and confused Prompto (in a new outfit, for some reason…) in the snowy terrain of Niflheim. The bulk of the story centers around a Magitek production plant, significant due to the major plot bomb that Prompto dropped in Chapter 13. He is a Magitek Trooper (MT), a genetically engineered warrior. Square kept with the trend of differentiating the character’s playstyles, a decision that I certainly appreciate. In Episode Gladio we got to play with the character's brute force, at one point even wielding freaking pillars as weapons. From the very start, Prompto's time to shine feels profoundly different from Episode Gladio. Instead of sheer power, the expansion plays as a third-person shooter with a surprising variety of weapons. While Episode Prompto's combat holds a peppering of frustrating moments and quirks, the overall experience manages to be good fun (simple descriptor intentional). Prompto storms into battle equipped with an infinite ammo pistol, melee weapon, and grenades. He can also scavenge a veritable arsenal of weapons found throughout the world. These include the Rapidus SMG, the Alea Bazooka, and a sniper called the Sagitta Rifle. Cool right? But instead of, oh, you know, reloading your guns - you will ditch these weapons when they run empty. A little annoying, but there are strangely plenty of them around to pick up, an almost a ridiculous amount. These minor annoyances don't really detract from the combat itself, they're more just odd design choices. Square Enix divided Prompto's gameplay between the shooter sequences in the facility and an "open world." I was initially super excited to learn about the inclusion of said open world, but upon closer inspection it was underwhelming. We were treated to snowmobile sequences - something that certainly seems thrilling on paper - but they were rough and seemed like they needed more time in development. Side quests appear within the DLC, too, which seem like another awesome opportunity. Unfortunately the lackluster execution of these quests from a technical perspective leave them severely lacking. Most were glitchy with AI problems galore. Umm hi, why aren't the MTs moving? Enjoyable combat aside, Episode Prompto's greatest strength can be found in its storytelling. Square took opportunities to use gameplay mechanics to unveil the story, something sorely missing in Gladio. As an example, one section has the player running as an MT in simple, but effective gameplay. Though this episode wasn’t radically longer than it’s predecessor, its pacing and tone were more appropriate and compelling. Prompto’s big revelation was kind of thrown into the main game and glossed over. Granted, I didn’t expect the guys to toss him aside, but I wanted more of an explanation. With this DLC, Square created a great opportunity to expand on his story organically versus what we saw with Gladio. These DLC releases habe many purposes for Square, but the main one is storytelling. There were many storytelling devices, flashbacks, audio logs etc., used to pack in as much exposition as possible. They exist to expand on the backstories for Noctis' support system. We saw plenty of Noctis in the core game, which makes sense, but so much of what made FFXV a great experience was getting to see the bond between the four characters. Though at times their in-game interactions were dry and unconvincing, the expanded universe was the chance to build these relationships further in a way that players could finally become fully invested. That’s what made Episode Gladio so disappointing. Instead of getting the chance to understand Gladio more we got a rinse and repeat stereotype with some generic metal music in the background. Episode Gladio devolved his character rather than the other way around. OK, enough rant, it's time for Aranea. Aranea and Prompto stumble upon each other in the facility during an intense moment. The gray-haired warrior helps Prompto out through combat assistance and some tough love, but she never lets him forget that he needs to pull his own weight. Essentially, the two form the team that the world never thought it needed. While players don't get to play as Aranea, she makes appearances and becomes a handy ally in combos and boss battles. Her powerful special attacks were pretty much a godsend for me and supplied an added a unique dynamic to combat. She also helps Prompto navigate through his funk, with full on Aranea attitude of course. As skeptical as I was, their chemistry strangely worked. I would love to see more Prompto-nea in the future (hint hint Square). Since release, a fan base has steadily grown around Aranea in the Final Fantasy XV community, so giving her more screen time in this expansion was a smart move on Square's part. And while I'll still argue that she needs her own DLC, including her in Episode Prompto was at least progress. There were so many characters underutilized in both the core game and the Kingsglaive film - using them here shows that Square is listening to its fans. Conclusion During the entirety of my playthrough of Episode Prompto, I had Episode Gladio on my mind. I'm sure that might have been obvious in reading this review, but it makes me wonder, did I enjoy Prompto's story because it was better than Gladio's? My standards going in were pretty low, actually, something to the effect of "this better be longer than Gladio." Overall, yes, this installment was way better in pretty much every respect, but of course, it could be better. It's my hope that going forward Square will only try to improve upon the experience and create a more complete story rather than rushing out content for content's sake, which unfortunately seems to be the trend for the extended universe. Episode Prompto was a step in the right direction. Fans of Final Fantasy XV looking for additional canonical story for Prompto should absolutely play this episode. Though it had some bugs and camera issues, combat stands out as enjoyable and a refreshing change of pace within the Final Fantasy universe. It shows how these expansions can be done right, and it sets my hopes high for the upcoming Episode Ignis. Final Fantasy XV - Episode Prompto was reviewed on Xbox One and is now for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One
  3. Dubbed a "completely new game" by the RPG developer/publisher, Antique Carnevale was unveiled to the public in a new trailer aimed at the Japanese market. What kind of a name is Antique Carnevale? What does it mean? No one knows! Very few details have been revealed about the real game that is really titled Antique Carnevale, quite possibly the most JRPG-ish title of all time. A Japanese language site has been set up that provides a few tantalizing details and promises more information in the coming weeks. The site currently contains information describing the game's prologue and a description of a character named Bernhard. Below you can find both of those sections as translated by Gematsu: Prologue Have you thought about the differences between “things” and “living things”? Or the differences between “dolls” and “people”? If you ask, people will easily answer as such: dolls are “not able to move on their own,” right? However, that is an invitation to the labyrinth. Is a person unable to move by their own will not a “doll”? Is a doll able to move by its own will not a “person”? The explorers who wander around in search of an exit will find themselves deeply lost… And then, one boy visits that labyrinth by himself… He will listen. To the cries left behind by the “people” that have decayed in the labyrinth. He will understand. The desires of the “dolls” captured in the labyrinth. To that young man who stands in the space between people and dolls… I pray. May the blessings of the people of origin be with him. Bernhard (voiced by Natsuki Hanae) The personification of the summons beast Wyvern. He regularly guards the town as the young commanding knight of the Valamion. He has a strong sense of justice, but hates rushing to conclusions, and is often censured by those around him. Under the orders of the president, he is currently searching for the strongest masters of the next generation. The Antique Carnevale site teases more information releases for characters on July 7, 10, 12, and 14. Square Enix plans to unveil additional information, likely platforms and release date/window, on July 18. What do you think about this new IP? From the brief trailer and the strangely subdued fanfare of the announcement it seems like this might be an IP headed to smartphones, 3DS, or Vita rather than a AAA release for consoles. Any theories as to what this game might be about from the cryptic information provided by the prologue description? View full article
  4. Dubbed a "completely new game" by the RPG developer/publisher, Antique Carnevale was unveiled to the public in a new trailer aimed at the Japanese market. What kind of a name is Antique Carnevale? What does it mean? No one knows! Very few details have been revealed about the real game that is really titled Antique Carnevale, quite possibly the most JRPG-ish title of all time. A Japanese language site has been set up that provides a few tantalizing details and promises more information in the coming weeks. The site currently contains information describing the game's prologue and a description of a character named Bernhard. Below you can find both of those sections as translated by Gematsu: Prologue Have you thought about the differences between “things” and “living things”? Or the differences between “dolls” and “people”? If you ask, people will easily answer as such: dolls are “not able to move on their own,” right? However, that is an invitation to the labyrinth. Is a person unable to move by their own will not a “doll”? Is a doll able to move by its own will not a “person”? The explorers who wander around in search of an exit will find themselves deeply lost… And then, one boy visits that labyrinth by himself… He will listen. To the cries left behind by the “people” that have decayed in the labyrinth. He will understand. The desires of the “dolls” captured in the labyrinth. To that young man who stands in the space between people and dolls… I pray. May the blessings of the people of origin be with him. Bernhard (voiced by Natsuki Hanae) The personification of the summons beast Wyvern. He regularly guards the town as the young commanding knight of the Valamion. He has a strong sense of justice, but hates rushing to conclusions, and is often censured by those around him. Under the orders of the president, he is currently searching for the strongest masters of the next generation. The Antique Carnevale site teases more information releases for characters on July 7, 10, 12, and 14. Square Enix plans to unveil additional information, likely platforms and release date/window, on July 18. What do you think about this new IP? From the brief trailer and the strangely subdued fanfare of the announcement it seems like this might be an IP headed to smartphones, 3DS, or Vita rather than a AAA release for consoles. Any theories as to what this game might be about from the cryptic information provided by the prologue description?
  5. Ever been curious about how the shops in RPG’s obtain their wares? Moonlighter aims to answer that burning question. The game stars Will, a shopkeeper with big dreams of becoming a hero. When he’s not running his business during the day, he “moonlights” as an adventurer, exploring caves, fighting monsters, and collecting treasure. Moonlighter’s design reflects Will’s double-life, dividing its gameplay into two disparate halves: top-down, action-adventure and market simulator. So far, it seems that developer Digital Sun has managed to weave both ideas together in a harmonious and fun way. The dungeon crawling sections sport elements of roguelites, with procedurally generated room arrangements and the loss of your loot upon death. Will wields two weapon types, which can include swords, spears, and bows, to hack and slash his way through monsters in search of treasure. Traps litter certain rooms, and others house special portals that teleport players to different, more challenging levels. While moment-to-moment gameplay features little out of the ordinary for genre enthusiasts, the various systems around it help Moonlighter stand out. Inventory management features a lot more than just shoving stuff into a bag. Multiple rows can hold items, but only stuff stored in the top row (representing Will’s pockets) will stick with him should he fall in battle. Thus, keeping your most valuable stock up top is highly recommended. Warping out of dungeons requires players to sell a certain amount treasures on the spot. You’re giving up some loot, but the hefty cost of death might make a speedy escape worth the cost, especially if you’re sitting on a good haul. Like a good businessperson, you’ve got to spend money to make money. My favorite menu element are special “cursed” items that come with various effects and create a near meta-game out of inventory. Some stipulations are relatively minor, like object that can only be kept in the bag’s bottom row. Others can be very useful, such as a curse that transforms itself into 10 duplicates of a nearby material. Curses can even work in conjunction with each other. One curse masks an item’s identity until you exit the dungeon. Another curse can dispel the ability of another, adjacent cursed object. When I moved a hidden item near a curse-remover, its identity was revealed, saving me from having to make the trip outside. Not since playing inventory Tetris in the Resident Evil series has dinking around my baggage felt this engaging. After getting my feet wet with combat in the brief prologue, Moonlighter began teaching me the ins and outs of running a storefront. Collected loot can be put up for sale at whatever price you deem appropriate. However, a product’s worth won’t be determined until customers scrutinize your inventory, so determining prices creates an initial guessing game. Cute emoticons express whether customers feel something is too cheap, too expensive, or priced reasonably. My personal favorite emote is a sort of pouty face indicating that an item’s expensive but they’ll begrudgingly buy it anyway. If a patron turns their nose up at something, you’ll need to lower the price. If someone bites the bullet on a big ticket item, you can continue charging that fee since you know people will drop the dough on it. I got a real kick out of seeing patrons open their wallets to my sometimes hilariously lofty prices. Once a sale has been made, a helpful ledger records the values for sold merchandise for future reference, eliminating that early guess work. Additionally, the book orders inventory by price, giving you a clear idea of the values of stock compared with each other. My immediate concern with shop gameplay was that it would eventually grow repetitive once the values of most goods were established, but the developers assured me that Will’s business, as well as consumer demands, evolve over time. As profits increase, the store can expand, allowing for a larger stock of merchandise as well as letting more customers visit. You can even decorate to create an atmosphere of fanciness, which might allow you to charge higher prices (the team cited the presentation of Apple stores as a humorous comparison). As customer tastes change, a once-hot commodity may not fetch a passing glance. Conversely, a cheap material could suddenly skyrocket in demand, justifying a price hike. Furthermore, some customers may even ask Will to carry certain goods, creating sidequests. It remains to be seen if these scenarios occur often enough to shopkeeping interesting in the long run, but it’s reassuring to know the same motions won’t be repeated ad nauseam. Will’s business isn’t the only game in town. The town of Rynoka is home to a blacksmith that sells and improves armor/weapons, as well an “overpriced” item store. A witch’s shop is the only business that remains open at night, selling potions, weapon enchantments, and holds nightly sales. Certain materials are better left off the show floor and used to trade at these stores. The devs stated some players even use the inventory of merchants as a point of comparison when determining how to price your own stock. I was definitely amused by the idea of intentionally undercutting the expensive item shop, for example. After business concluded for the day and I dove back into a dungeon. Moonlighter’s primary loop became clear: explore labyrinths, gather treasure, sell said treasure, purchase better equipment/upgrades, visit tougher levels, repeat. More difficult floors open up after several runs with richer rewards. But you’ll need superior gear to survive, but new equipment generally sports high price tags, providing incentive to maximize profits at the store. I realized Moonlighter’s hooks were digging in when I entered a typical combat room in which clearing its enemies would normally cause treasure to appear. However, nothing did, but instead of feeling slighted, the materials left behind by the slain foes was reward enough. I excitedly thought “Oh cool, I can sell these in my shop!” As a Zelda fan, it doesn’t take much to get me on board with similarly designed experiences. Engaging in the doldrums of managing a business, however, was a different story. When I learned Moonlighter was as about selling goods as it was exploring dungeons, my initial enthusiasm dropped a bit. Setting prices, waiting around for customers–it all sounded rather dull. By the end of my hour-long session, my tune changed. Moonlighter has the potential an engrossing and enjoyable spin on the action/RPG. The shop mechanic is a neat angle that’s backed by solid roguelite gameplay, all wrapped in a charming pixel art presentation. I look forward to opening up shop when Moonlighter arrives later this year for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, and Mac. View full article
  6. Ever been curious about how the shops in RPG’s obtain their wares? Moonlighter aims to answer that burning question. The game stars Will, a shopkeeper with big dreams of becoming a hero. When he’s not running his business during the day, he “moonlights” as an adventurer, exploring caves, fighting monsters, and collecting treasure. Moonlighter’s design reflects Will’s double-life, dividing its gameplay into two disparate halves: top-down, action-adventure and market simulator. So far, it seems that developer Digital Sun has managed to weave both ideas together in a harmonious and fun way. The dungeon crawling sections sport elements of roguelites, with procedurally generated room arrangements and the loss of your loot upon death. Will wields two weapon types, which can include swords, spears, and bows, to hack and slash his way through monsters in search of treasure. Traps litter certain rooms, and others house special portals that teleport players to different, more challenging levels. While moment-to-moment gameplay features little out of the ordinary for genre enthusiasts, the various systems around it help Moonlighter stand out. Inventory management features a lot more than just shoving stuff into a bag. Multiple rows can hold items, but only stuff stored in the top row (representing Will’s pockets) will stick with him should he fall in battle. Thus, keeping your most valuable stock up top is highly recommended. Warping out of dungeons requires players to sell a certain amount treasures on the spot. You’re giving up some loot, but the hefty cost of death might make a speedy escape worth the cost, especially if you’re sitting on a good haul. Like a good businessperson, you’ve got to spend money to make money. My favorite menu element are special “cursed” items that come with various effects and create a near meta-game out of inventory. Some stipulations are relatively minor, like object that can only be kept in the bag’s bottom row. Others can be very useful, such as a curse that transforms itself into 10 duplicates of a nearby material. Curses can even work in conjunction with each other. One curse masks an item’s identity until you exit the dungeon. Another curse can dispel the ability of another, adjacent cursed object. When I moved a hidden item near a curse-remover, its identity was revealed, saving me from having to make the trip outside. Not since playing inventory Tetris in the Resident Evil series has dinking around my baggage felt this engaging. After getting my feet wet with combat in the brief prologue, Moonlighter began teaching me the ins and outs of running a storefront. Collected loot can be put up for sale at whatever price you deem appropriate. However, a product’s worth won’t be determined until customers scrutinize your inventory, so determining prices creates an initial guessing game. Cute emoticons express whether customers feel something is too cheap, too expensive, or priced reasonably. My personal favorite emote is a sort of pouty face indicating that an item’s expensive but they’ll begrudgingly buy it anyway. If a patron turns their nose up at something, you’ll need to lower the price. If someone bites the bullet on a big ticket item, you can continue charging that fee since you know people will drop the dough on it. I got a real kick out of seeing patrons open their wallets to my sometimes hilariously lofty prices. Once a sale has been made, a helpful ledger records the values for sold merchandise for future reference, eliminating that early guess work. Additionally, the book orders inventory by price, giving you a clear idea of the values of stock compared with each other. My immediate concern with shop gameplay was that it would eventually grow repetitive once the values of most goods were established, but the developers assured me that Will’s business, as well as consumer demands, evolve over time. As profits increase, the store can expand, allowing for a larger stock of merchandise as well as letting more customers visit. You can even decorate to create an atmosphere of fanciness, which might allow you to charge higher prices (the team cited the presentation of Apple stores as a humorous comparison). As customer tastes change, a once-hot commodity may not fetch a passing glance. Conversely, a cheap material could suddenly skyrocket in demand, justifying a price hike. Furthermore, some customers may even ask Will to carry certain goods, creating sidequests. It remains to be seen if these scenarios occur often enough to shopkeeping interesting in the long run, but it’s reassuring to know the same motions won’t be repeated ad nauseam. Will’s business isn’t the only game in town. The town of Rynoka is home to a blacksmith that sells and improves armor/weapons, as well an “overpriced” item store. A witch’s shop is the only business that remains open at night, selling potions, weapon enchantments, and holds nightly sales. Certain materials are better left off the show floor and used to trade at these stores. The devs stated some players even use the inventory of merchants as a point of comparison when determining how to price your own stock. I was definitely amused by the idea of intentionally undercutting the expensive item shop, for example. After business concluded for the day and I dove back into a dungeon. Moonlighter’s primary loop became clear: explore labyrinths, gather treasure, sell said treasure, purchase better equipment/upgrades, visit tougher levels, repeat. More difficult floors open up after several runs with richer rewards. But you’ll need superior gear to survive, but new equipment generally sports high price tags, providing incentive to maximize profits at the store. I realized Moonlighter’s hooks were digging in when I entered a typical combat room in which clearing its enemies would normally cause treasure to appear. However, nothing did, but instead of feeling slighted, the materials left behind by the slain foes was reward enough. I excitedly thought “Oh cool, I can sell these in my shop!” As a Zelda fan, it doesn’t take much to get me on board with similarly designed experiences. Engaging in the doldrums of managing a business, however, was a different story. When I learned Moonlighter was as about selling goods as it was exploring dungeons, my initial enthusiasm dropped a bit. Setting prices, waiting around for customers–it all sounded rather dull. By the end of my hour-long session, my tune changed. Moonlighter has the potential an engrossing and enjoyable spin on the action/RPG. The shop mechanic is a neat angle that’s backed by solid roguelite gameplay, all wrapped in a charming pixel art presentation. I look forward to opening up shop when Moonlighter arrives later this year for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, and Mac.
  7. On the eve of the release of the latest story DLC, Episode Prompto, Final Fantasy XV received its June update. Among other things, the update includes the addition of a new vehicle customization the off-roading Regalia Type-D. To get the upgrade for the ol' girl all you'll have to do is take her to Cindy who will propose a "doozy of an idea." The new Regalia stands taller than even Gladio and apparently is a gas guzzler. With the update, all of the guys have new ridiculous things to say and noises as they are jostled around of course. The Type-D was made for off-roading and takes the in-game driving from on-rails to fully manual. There's also a "big jump" function with jumps scored based on distance, landing stability and midair impact. Be warned though, too big of a jump can lead to a game over. Oh, and you're not immune to trees or rocks... The update itself was pretty massive and included compatibility for Episode Prompto. View full article
  8. On the eve of the release of the latest story DLC, Episode Prompto, Final Fantasy XV received its June update. Among other things, the update includes the addition of a new vehicle customization the off-roading Regalia Type-D. To get the upgrade for the ol' girl all you'll have to do is take her to Cindy who will propose a "doozy of an idea." The new Regalia stands taller than even Gladio and apparently is a gas guzzler. With the update, all of the guys have new ridiculous things to say and noises as they are jostled around of course. The Type-D was made for off-roading and takes the in-game driving from on-rails to fully manual. There's also a "big jump" function with jumps scored based on distance, landing stability and midair impact. Be warned though, too big of a jump can lead to a game over. Oh, and you're not immune to trees or rocks... The update itself was pretty massive and included compatibility for Episode Prompto.
  9. Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV, a movie that parallels the Final Fantasy XV game, promised to bring photorealistic visuals and an understandable Final Fantasy story to fans of the games and newcomers alike. In the film, the kingdom of Lucis has waged war with the enemy empire Niflheim for many years. Regis, King of Lucis, possesses the Divine Crystal and the Ring of the Lucii, powerful magical objects that Niflheim wants. To protect them, Lucis raised an impenetrable wall around the crown city of Insomnia, using the power of the crystal. Despite Lucis’ great magic and the king’s mighty warriors known as the Kingsglaive, Niflheim seems poised to win the war with its unsurpassed military force. Unexpectedly, Niflheim proposes a peace treaty that specifies Regis relinquish all territories outside Insomnia and marry his son Prince Noctis to Princess Lunafreya of Tenebrae. Twelve years previously, Tenebrae, a former ally of Lucis, fell under Niflheim rule when Regis abandoned it to save himself and Noctis. Regis decides to accept Niflheim’s treaty, but sends his son away to a safe location outside Insomnia, creating enemies among his own people and the Kingsglaive. Despite its superficially sufficient story, beautiful visuals, and action-packed fight scenes, many critics describe Kingsglaive as a gorgeous mess. Many complain about the difficulty of following its convoluted and political plot. Others point out its weak characters: helpless and useless females, a throwaway protagonist, and stereotypical kings attempting to outmaneuver one another. Still others equate it to a long video game cut scene or trailer. Criticisms about its weird lip syncing, mixed voice acting, and poorly written dialog abound. As for me, I feel a sense of déjà vu. The description sounds awfully familiar: a Final Fantasy movie promising to bring photorealistic graphics and an accessible story to a new audience only to produce a lukewarm story disguised with impressive visuals. It bears a striking resemblance to Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. I even recognize the complaints critics have in that I don’t think they reveal the source of Kingsglaive’s problems. I’ve argued before that Spirits Within contains a fatal flaw in the obstacles that the protagonist faces in the pursuit of her goal to save her life and the world. Kingsglaive similarly has a flaw with its conflicts. This time, however, the problem is that conflicts are almost non-existent. In most stories, characters have problems to solve. Simple stories often have one major, overarching conflict that the characters must resolve and many smaller obstacles that hinder them along the way. Conflicts not only add excitement and purpose, but also help define the world and its characters. Of course, obstacles work best when the characters have a good reason to overcome them no matter what. For example, a major conflict could be that a hero must free her village from a king’s tyrannical rule. In order to do this, she decides to kill the king and take his throne. The obstacles in her way include traveling to the king’s crown city, sneaking in through his walls, breaking into his castle, and fighting through his guards. She also has a clumsy, obnoxious wizard for a sidekick, who she tolerates because of his useful magical powers. Failure means her death and the destruction of her village. High stakes, big obstacles, and a variety of conflicts usually make stories exciting and engaging. The heroes of Kingsglaive seem to fight for “the future” against characters who fight for “their homes.” These vague ideals rarely conflict with one another though nor do significant obstacles arise from other sources. Most of the main characters can’t fail to achieve their goals, and the consequences for failure are never defined and logically don’t seem that bad. Consequently, pointless violence, duty, and death fills the film, but one person could have given meaning to everything. Prince Noctis produces everyone’s problems and gives everyone purpose, but alas, he doesn’t appear in the film to bring this to light. No amount of action-packed fight scenes fill the void of meaninglessness that Noctis’ absence creates. As is, Kingsglaive suggests that the conflict between King Regis and his people comes from differences in beliefs as to what the kingdom should protect: the people’s “homelands” or the “future.” The film doesn’t define what these terms mean, but in general, “fighting for home” seems to refer to a desire for a just king who keeps his people safe. “Fighting for the future” seems equivalent to protecting Noctis so he can fulfill his destiny as the future king and world’s savior. While many of the characters fall into one camp or the other, each character seems to define what they fight for and how they will fight for it in a different way. King Regis fights for the future, which involves protecting both Lunafreya and Noctis. To make up for the fall of Tenebrae, he wants to free Luna from Niflheim’s grasp and reunite her with her beloved Noctis. Luna also protects the future, but she believes that she must stay away from Noctis to keep him safe and that her survival doesn’t matter. The protagonist, a member of the Kingsglaive named Nyx, fights for the future by serving King Regis. After Regis gives away his hometown Galahd to Niflheim, Nyx’s friend and former Kingsglaive Libertus fights to overthrow Regis. The antagonist General Glauca appears to fight for both empires to keep his hometown safe. Ultimately, he sides with Niflheim to overthrow Regis in exchange for his home’s freedom. On closer inspection, however, little stands in the way of the characters and their goals. Sometimes comically weak obstacles stumble them, sometimes the consequences of catastrophic events go unnoticed, and sometimes nothing can stop the characters from succeeding. Luna and Regis’ goals appear to be in conflict with one another, but really, nothing can stop Luna from keeping Noctis safe by staying away from him. In the beginning of the movie, she briefly goes along with Regis’ plan to escort her to a safe location to rendezvous with Noctis, but when his plan fails almost immediately, she staunchly refuses to indulge in Regis’ next plot to bring them together. Regis agrees easily, and because Noctis is already safely outside Insomnia, Luna can literally do nothing and still succeed. Regis can’t reach his goal to protect Noctis and Luna so easily. Many superficial obstacles keep Luna in constant peril, but the horrific sacrifices that Regis makes to save her go entirely unnoticed when they really should produce significant moral dilemmas. Soon after Luna arrives at Regis’ castle, General Glauca kidnaps her and locks her on an airship with a surprise octopus monster on board. Nyx, the first to discover her absence, rushes through easily-parted guards and verbal threats to warn Regis. Regis permits him to deploy the Glaives to save her. Without the Kingsglaive’s captain, also mysteriously absent, Nyx commands his teammates himself. While on their mission, the peace treaty signing ceremony proceeds in Insomnia, but ends with Niflheim attacking the castle and the city. At the same time, Nyx discovers that he led his team into a trap. Amid all the excitement of Nyx fighting a giant octopus, killing traitorous Kingsglaive members, and maneuvering Luna out of two crashing airships while she threatens to kill herself by jumping out of them, the movie fails to emphasize the responsibility Nyx, Regis, and Luna bare for killing the Kingsglaive and destroying Insomnia. With Regis’ permission, Nyx led the Kingsglaive into a trap that killed almost all of them and left the king and the crystal open to attack to a save a woman with questionable importance. As a result, Regis dies, Insomnia’s wall falls, and Niflheim steals the crystal. This leads to the destruction of Insomnia and hundreds of thousands of its civilians. Nyx has little reason to believe that Luna is more important than any of this or that Insomnia’s destruction was inevitable, but he feels no remorse for the role he played and barely questions his loyalty to Regis. By sending the Kingsglaive to save Luna, Regis sacrificed his citizens to save a woman who seems content to remain a prisoner. His internal struggle, if he even has one, never shows. Luna doesn’t value her own life, and yet Regis sacrificing his most powerful warriors, himself, and his citizens for her doesn’t horrify her. These terrible acts of violence don’t make anyone examine their steadfast beliefs when they really should. Nyx, already a nearly unstoppable super protagonist, has such a fluid definition of “the future” and how he protects it that nothing can stand in his way. When King Regis gives Galahd, Nyx’s hometown, away as part of the peace treaty, Nyx doesn’t care because at least Regis and Insomnia are safe. When Insomnia’s magical wall falls, Nyx doesn’t care because at least Regis lives. When Niflheim steals the crystal, King Regis dies, Insomnia falls, and Nyx faces certain death, he still doesn’t care because at least Luna lives and she possesses the Ring of the Lucii. Even if General Glauca took the ring or killed Luna, Nyx probably still wouldn’t care because at least Noctis lives and doesn’t seem to be in danger. Like Luna, Nyx doesn’t have to do anything to save an already safe future. Not even Nyx’s friend Libertus can give him a significant personal or physical conflict. Libertus betrays Lucis to join the rebellion, presumably an organization that wishes to overthrow Regis and replace him with a more people-oriented government. The rebellion doesn’t do anything though. In one scene, Libertus gives them some unspecified information. The next scene related to the rebellion features their leader getting shot in the streets by Niflheim’s army. The film suggests that the rebellion and Libertus help the empire somehow, but Niflheim conquers Insomnia by themselves. Plus, General Glauca, who doubles as captain of the Kingsglaive, already works for Niflheim and likely knows all the information possessed by Libertus and the rebellion. Not even the radio broadcast that Nyx listens to while driving Luna out of the city says what the rebellion did. Nyx pounds the steering wheel angrily at the discovery of Libertus’ betrayal, but when they meet next, Nyx forgives him immediately. Kingsglaive also never defines what makes its obstacles problematic or why the characters must overcome them. Regis, Luna, and Nyx all seem to want to keep Noctis, the future, safe, but he’s outside Insomnia where Regis says it’s safe. Technically, nothing is stopping Niflheim from hunting Noctis down and killing him, but no one threatens to do this. Niflheim doesn’t even seem to care that he’s not in the city even though they specified in the treaty that he marry Luna. We also don’t know Noctis. If he’s anything like his father or ancestors though, he has super powers and doesn’t care about anyone except his next of kin. Why should we want another tyrant to rule the people of Lucis? The film implies that Niflheim is so evil that they can’t be allowed to rule, but honestly, Lucis seems pretty horrible, too. It’s not automatically bad when one kingdom loses power against the military might of another. Would it really be much different or worse if Niflheim ruled? The Kings of Lucis, as revealed by wearing the Ring of the Lucii, seem even more uncaring about their own people than Regis does. The old magic that defends Insomnia even includes destroying the city and killing its citizens. Unlike Lucis, which forces its people to fight a losing war to protect a crystal, a ring, and the next heir to the throne, Niflheim gives people territories in exchange for their help and treats the survivors of Tenebrae decently. A lot of people seem to agree that Niflheim coming into power wouldn’t be so bad. Speaking of the ring, why is it important? Part of the conflict in the final fight scene deals with Nyx and Luna trying to keep the Ring of the Lucii safe from General Glauca. Surrendering it seems to symbolize Lucis’ defeat, but Regis himself doesn’t seem to place much importance in it. Before he dies, he begs Nyx to keep Luna safe. Then, he gives her the ring almost as an afterthought. It doesn’t seem that powerful either. Regis and Nyx use the ring to fight General Glauca. Regis dies, and Nyx barely defeats Glauca before he dies himself. In fact, everyone who uses the ring besides Regis either dies or receives a grievous injury from its power. In death, Regis determines who the ring serves with his fellow prior kings, so of course, a Niflheim ruler will never wield it. Really. Why is it important? Another conflict in the final fight scene as well as most of the conflict throughout the movie deals with keeping Luna safe for equally unspecified reasons. Why is Luna important? Luna suggests that she has some dutiful destiny related to Noctis, but she also says that her life doesn’t matter. Saving Luna just seems like Regis’ vain attempt to make up for letting her home burn while he ran away with his son. Regis kills thousands of people to save Luna and Noctis though, which seems less like making up for the past and more like making an even bigger mistake. This isn’t flattering, considering that Luna’s mother died last time he did this. Luna clearly loves Noctis, and under different circumstances that’d be reason enough for them to be together, but again, we don’t know Noctis. All signs indicate that he’s terrible. Many conflicts in the movie seem like an attempt to create problems that don’t exist and make characters do things when they have nothing to do. The future that half the characters seem so desperate to save, Noctis, seems safe already. Simply placing Noctis in the film, and thus in danger, creates a big problem that can color the characters and the story. For example, Kingsglaive could tell the following tale with Noctis in it, ignoring the events that occur in the game and other media: On his way out of the city, Noctis hears from a traitorous Glaive that Luna didn’t safely escape Tenebrae to meet him and is on her way to Insomnia. Noctis doesn’t understand his father’s blind faith in his destiny nor does he agree with his decision to abandon Luna and Tenebrae twelve years ago. He decides to stay in the city to see Luna to safety himself and meet Niflheim’s terms for peace despite his father’s wishes. He reasons that surely his life doesn’t matter to Niflheim. If they want anything else, it would be the ring and the Crystal, and they can have them as long as the war ends. Unable to convince Noctis that he doesn’t understand and needs to leave, Regis assigns Nyx to be Noctis’ bodyguard. Noctis continues to defy his father by picking Luna up from her Niflheim escort himself (in a sports car of course) with Nyx. The rebellion within Insomnia makes a minor attempt on Noctis’ and Luna’s lives, but they make it back to the castle safely. Unimpressed with Noctis’ show of bravery, Luna reprimands him for remaining in the city and endangering himself. She refuses his affection when Noctis reiterates that he won’t leave and abandon her or his people. On the day of the signing ceremony, traitorous Kingsglaive serving Niflheim kidnap Luna and blame the rebellion, making sure that Noctis and Nyx know about it first. Noctis demands that his father send the Kingsglaive to rescue her, but Regis refuses, wanting to keep the Glaives close to protect his son. In frustration, Noctis runs off to save Luna himself, leaving Regis no choice but to send the Glaives after him. In turn, he leaves himself, the crystal, and the ring vulnerable to attack. He proceeds with the signing ceremony as planned, prepared to sacrifice everything for his son’s safety. Meanwhile, Noctis, Nyx, and the Glaives fight a giant octopus that they find on a ship that looks suspiciously like a Niflheim aircraft to rescue Luna. Members of the Kingsglaive turn on Noctis, and when he and Nyx reach Luna, she warns them of a trap. Noctis realizes that Niflheim tricked him specifically to try to kill him. His father was right, and his hope for peace is naive. The situation gets even worse when Luna, Noctis, and Nyx see Insomnia’s wall falling, enemy ships closing in on the city, and the crystal stolen. They rush back to the castle in time to witness Regis’ death. General Glauca pursues them next to finish the job of crushing Lucis’ last hope. Nyx distracts him while Luna and Noctis escape. Along the way, they are separated. Looking over the ruins of Insomnia, Noctis vows to avenge his father and his people, reclaim his throne, and find Luna. While he still doesn’t understand his own importance, he must ensure that his father’s sacrifice wasn’t in vain. The events of Final Fantasy XV begin. This retelling basically follows Kingsglaive’s existing story, but creates more conflict by adding Prince Noctis. The presence of the prince heightens the potential costs of failure, and the characters’ actions have a greater sense of purpose. Niflheim can destroy or capture every hope that Lucis has, the ring, the crystal, Luna, and Noctis. Lucis could lose all hope for the future instead of some unspecified amount of it. Nyx’s actions and extravagant battles directly relate to protecting Noctis, a character that we can see and understand as opposed to an abstract concept. For fun, the rebellion adds more obstacles and distracts Noctis from his true enemies. To create even more conflicts that help define the characters and the world, Noctis has differing beliefs from his father and Luna. He’s also easier to relate to because he doesn’t fully understand his destiny and all these magical objects either. The greatest losses and violent acts show Noctis his mistakes and motivate him to correct them, which gives them more meaning. They also highlight Niflheim’s cruelty. On Noctis’ insistence, Lucis acts in accordance with Niflheim’s treaty and still the empire destroys Insomnia and attempts to kill Noctis and Luna. The existing story highlights Regis’ cruelty when he defies the peace treaty from the start, sacrifices his people, and doesn’t seem to care. Fifteen years after The Spirits Within, Final Fantasy looks better than ever, but the quality of its storytelling remains about the same. It could have been different though, if only Noctis had stayed. Even if he only plays a minor role, Noctis’ very presence creates a problem that the characters must solve at all costs. He’s the object of his people’s hatred, the son that his father protected over his allies and kingdom. He’s the hope that Niflheim wants to destroy and Regis, Nyx, and Luna must protect. Without him, the characters can only fight over objects and people that may or may not be important and make horrendous sacrifices in pursuit of a nebulous future that may or may not already be safe and may or may not be good. For all of Kingsglaive’s action-packed fight scenes, no one has a battle worth fighting. --- Any other Extra Lifers out there with some writing skills and a good idea? Read about how to become a community contributor and start submitting today!
  10. Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV, a movie that parallels the Final Fantasy XV game, promised to bring photorealistic visuals and an understandable Final Fantasy story to fans of the games and newcomers alike. In the film, the kingdom of Lucis has waged war with the enemy empire Niflheim for many years. Regis, King of Lucis, possesses the Divine Crystal and the Ring of the Lucii, powerful magical objects that Niflheim wants. To protect them, Lucis raised an impenetrable wall around the crown city of Insomnia, using the power of the crystal. Despite Lucis’ great magic and the king’s mighty warriors known as the Kingsglaive, Niflheim seems poised to win the war with its unsurpassed military force. Unexpectedly, Niflheim proposes a peace treaty that specifies Regis relinquish all territories outside Insomnia and marry his son Prince Noctis to Princess Lunafreya of Tenebrae. Twelve years previously, Tenebrae, a former ally of Lucis, fell under Niflheim rule when Regis abandoned it to save himself and Noctis. Regis decides to accept Niflheim’s treaty, but sends his son away to a safe location outside Insomnia, creating enemies among his own people and the Kingsglaive. Despite its superficially sufficient story, beautiful visuals, and action-packed fight scenes, many critics describe Kingsglaive as a gorgeous mess. Many complain about the difficulty of following its convoluted and political plot. Others point out its weak characters: helpless and useless females, a throwaway protagonist, and stereotypical kings attempting to outmaneuver one another. Still others equate it to a long video game cut scene or trailer. Criticisms about its weird lip syncing, mixed voice acting, and poorly written dialog abound. As for me, I feel a sense of déjà vu. The description sounds awfully familiar: a Final Fantasy movie promising to bring photorealistic graphics and an accessible story to a new audience only to produce a lukewarm story disguised with impressive visuals. It bears a striking resemblance to Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. I even recognize the complaints critics have in that I don’t think they reveal the source of Kingsglaive’s problems. I’ve argued before that Spirits Within contains a fatal flaw in the obstacles that the protagonist faces in the pursuit of her goal to save her life and the world. Kingsglaive similarly has a flaw with its conflicts. This time, however, the problem is that conflicts are almost non-existent. In most stories, characters have problems to solve. Simple stories often have one major, overarching conflict that the characters must resolve and many smaller obstacles that hinder them along the way. Conflicts not only add excitement and purpose, but also help define the world and its characters. Of course, obstacles work best when the characters have a good reason to overcome them no matter what. For example, a major conflict could be that a hero must free her village from a king’s tyrannical rule. In order to do this, she decides to kill the king and take his throne. The obstacles in her way include traveling to the king’s crown city, sneaking in through his walls, breaking into his castle, and fighting through his guards. She also has a clumsy, obnoxious wizard for a sidekick, who she tolerates because of his useful magical powers. Failure means her death and the destruction of her village. High stakes, big obstacles, and a variety of conflicts usually make stories exciting and engaging. The heroes of Kingsglaive seem to fight for “the future” against characters who fight for “their homes.” These vague ideals rarely conflict with one another though nor do significant obstacles arise from other sources. Most of the main characters can’t fail to achieve their goals, and the consequences for failure are never defined and logically don’t seem that bad. Consequently, pointless violence, duty, and death fills the film, but one person could have given meaning to everything. Prince Noctis produces everyone’s problems and gives everyone purpose, but alas, he doesn’t appear in the film to bring this to light. No amount of action-packed fight scenes fill the void of meaninglessness that Noctis’ absence creates. As is, Kingsglaive suggests that the conflict between King Regis and his people comes from differences in beliefs as to what the kingdom should protect: the people’s “homelands” or the “future.” The film doesn’t define what these terms mean, but in general, “fighting for home” seems to refer to a desire for a just king who keeps his people safe. “Fighting for the future” seems equivalent to protecting Noctis so he can fulfill his destiny as the future king and world’s savior. While many of the characters fall into one camp or the other, each character seems to define what they fight for and how they will fight for it in a different way. King Regis fights for the future, which involves protecting both Lunafreya and Noctis. To make up for the fall of Tenebrae, he wants to free Luna from Niflheim’s grasp and reunite her with her beloved Noctis. Luna also protects the future, but she believes that she must stay away from Noctis to keep him safe and that her survival doesn’t matter. The protagonist, a member of the Kingsglaive named Nyx, fights for the future by serving King Regis. After Regis gives away his hometown Galahd to Niflheim, Nyx’s friend and former Kingsglaive Libertus fights to overthrow Regis. The antagonist General Glauca appears to fight for both empires to keep his hometown safe. Ultimately, he sides with Niflheim to overthrow Regis in exchange for his home’s freedom. On closer inspection, however, little stands in the way of the characters and their goals. Sometimes comically weak obstacles stumble them, sometimes the consequences of catastrophic events go unnoticed, and sometimes nothing can stop the characters from succeeding. Luna and Regis’ goals appear to be in conflict with one another, but really, nothing can stop Luna from keeping Noctis safe by staying away from him. In the beginning of the movie, she briefly goes along with Regis’ plan to escort her to a safe location to rendezvous with Noctis, but when his plan fails almost immediately, she staunchly refuses to indulge in Regis’ next plot to bring them together. Regis agrees easily, and because Noctis is already safely outside Insomnia, Luna can literally do nothing and still succeed. Regis can’t reach his goal to protect Noctis and Luna so easily. Many superficial obstacles keep Luna in constant peril, but the horrific sacrifices that Regis makes to save her go entirely unnoticed when they really should produce significant moral dilemmas. Soon after Luna arrives at Regis’ castle, General Glauca kidnaps her and locks her on an airship with a surprise octopus monster on board. Nyx, the first to discover her absence, rushes through easily-parted guards and verbal threats to warn Regis. Regis permits him to deploy the Glaives to save her. Without the Kingsglaive’s captain, also mysteriously absent, Nyx commands his teammates himself. While on their mission, the peace treaty signing ceremony proceeds in Insomnia, but ends with Niflheim attacking the castle and the city. At the same time, Nyx discovers that he led his team into a trap. Amid all the excitement of Nyx fighting a giant octopus, killing traitorous Kingsglaive members, and maneuvering Luna out of two crashing airships while she threatens to kill herself by jumping out of them, the movie fails to emphasize the responsibility Nyx, Regis, and Luna bare for killing the Kingsglaive and destroying Insomnia. With Regis’ permission, Nyx led the Kingsglaive into a trap that killed almost all of them and left the king and the crystal open to attack to a save a woman with questionable importance. As a result, Regis dies, Insomnia’s wall falls, and Niflheim steals the crystal. This leads to the destruction of Insomnia and hundreds of thousands of its civilians. Nyx has little reason to believe that Luna is more important than any of this or that Insomnia’s destruction was inevitable, but he feels no remorse for the role he played and barely questions his loyalty to Regis. By sending the Kingsglaive to save Luna, Regis sacrificed his citizens to save a woman who seems content to remain a prisoner. His internal struggle, if he even has one, never shows. Luna doesn’t value her own life, and yet Regis sacrificing his most powerful warriors, himself, and his citizens for her doesn’t horrify her. These terrible acts of violence don’t make anyone examine their steadfast beliefs when they really should. Nyx, already a nearly unstoppable super protagonist, has such a fluid definition of “the future” and how he protects it that nothing can stand in his way. When King Regis gives Galahd, Nyx’s hometown, away as part of the peace treaty, Nyx doesn’t care because at least Regis and Insomnia are safe. When Insomnia’s magical wall falls, Nyx doesn’t care because at least Regis lives. When Niflheim steals the crystal, King Regis dies, Insomnia falls, and Nyx faces certain death, he still doesn’t care because at least Luna lives and she possesses the Ring of the Lucii. Even if General Glauca took the ring or killed Luna, Nyx probably still wouldn’t care because at least Noctis lives and doesn’t seem to be in danger. Like Luna, Nyx doesn’t have to do anything to save an already safe future. Not even Nyx’s friend Libertus can give him a significant personal or physical conflict. Libertus betrays Lucis to join the rebellion, presumably an organization that wishes to overthrow Regis and replace him with a more people-oriented government. The rebellion doesn’t do anything though. In one scene, Libertus gives them some unspecified information. The next scene related to the rebellion features their leader getting shot in the streets by Niflheim’s army. The film suggests that the rebellion and Libertus help the empire somehow, but Niflheim conquers Insomnia by themselves. Plus, General Glauca, who doubles as captain of the Kingsglaive, already works for Niflheim and likely knows all the information possessed by Libertus and the rebellion. Not even the radio broadcast that Nyx listens to while driving Luna out of the city says what the rebellion did. Nyx pounds the steering wheel angrily at the discovery of Libertus’ betrayal, but when they meet next, Nyx forgives him immediately. Kingsglaive also never defines what makes its obstacles problematic or why the characters must overcome them. Regis, Luna, and Nyx all seem to want to keep Noctis, the future, safe, but he’s outside Insomnia where Regis says it’s safe. Technically, nothing is stopping Niflheim from hunting Noctis down and killing him, but no one threatens to do this. Niflheim doesn’t even seem to care that he’s not in the city even though they specified in the treaty that he marry Luna. We also don’t know Noctis. If he’s anything like his father or ancestors though, he has super powers and doesn’t care about anyone except his next of kin. Why should we want another tyrant to rule the people of Lucis? The film implies that Niflheim is so evil that they can’t be allowed to rule, but honestly, Lucis seems pretty horrible, too. It’s not automatically bad when one kingdom loses power against the military might of another. Would it really be much different or worse if Niflheim ruled? The Kings of Lucis, as revealed by wearing the Ring of the Lucii, seem even more uncaring about their own people than Regis does. The old magic that defends Insomnia even includes destroying the city and killing its citizens. Unlike Lucis, which forces its people to fight a losing war to protect a crystal, a ring, and the next heir to the throne, Niflheim gives people territories in exchange for their help and treats the survivors of Tenebrae decently. A lot of people seem to agree that Niflheim coming into power wouldn’t be so bad. Speaking of the ring, why is it important? Part of the conflict in the final fight scene deals with Nyx and Luna trying to keep the Ring of the Lucii safe from General Glauca. Surrendering it seems to symbolize Lucis’ defeat, but Regis himself doesn’t seem to place much importance in it. Before he dies, he begs Nyx to keep Luna safe. Then, he gives her the ring almost as an afterthought. It doesn’t seem that powerful either. Regis and Nyx use the ring to fight General Glauca. Regis dies, and Nyx barely defeats Glauca before he dies himself. In fact, everyone who uses the ring besides Regis either dies or receives a grievous injury from its power. In death, Regis determines who the ring serves with his fellow prior kings, so of course, a Niflheim ruler will never wield it. Really. Why is it important? Another conflict in the final fight scene as well as most of the conflict throughout the movie deals with keeping Luna safe for equally unspecified reasons. Why is Luna important? Luna suggests that she has some dutiful destiny related to Noctis, but she also says that her life doesn’t matter. Saving Luna just seems like Regis’ vain attempt to make up for letting her home burn while he ran away with his son. Regis kills thousands of people to save Luna and Noctis though, which seems less like making up for the past and more like making an even bigger mistake. This isn’t flattering, considering that Luna’s mother died last time he did this. Luna clearly loves Noctis, and under different circumstances that’d be reason enough for them to be together, but again, we don’t know Noctis. All signs indicate that he’s terrible. Many conflicts in the movie seem like an attempt to create problems that don’t exist and make characters do things when they have nothing to do. The future that half the characters seem so desperate to save, Noctis, seems safe already. Simply placing Noctis in the film, and thus in danger, creates a big problem that can color the characters and the story. For example, Kingsglaive could tell the following tale with Noctis in it, ignoring the events that occur in the game and other media: On his way out of the city, Noctis hears from a traitorous Glaive that Luna didn’t safely escape Tenebrae to meet him and is on her way to Insomnia. Noctis doesn’t understand his father’s blind faith in his destiny nor does he agree with his decision to abandon Luna and Tenebrae twelve years ago. He decides to stay in the city to see Luna to safety himself and meet Niflheim’s terms for peace despite his father’s wishes. He reasons that surely his life doesn’t matter to Niflheim. If they want anything else, it would be the ring and the Crystal, and they can have them as long as the war ends. Unable to convince Noctis that he doesn’t understand and needs to leave, Regis assigns Nyx to be Noctis’ bodyguard. Noctis continues to defy his father by picking Luna up from her Niflheim escort himself (in a sports car of course) with Nyx. The rebellion within Insomnia makes a minor attempt on Noctis’ and Luna’s lives, but they make it back to the castle safely. Unimpressed with Noctis’ show of bravery, Luna reprimands him for remaining in the city and endangering himself. She refuses his affection when Noctis reiterates that he won’t leave and abandon her or his people. On the day of the signing ceremony, traitorous Kingsglaive serving Niflheim kidnap Luna and blame the rebellion, making sure that Noctis and Nyx know about it first. Noctis demands that his father send the Kingsglaive to rescue her, but Regis refuses, wanting to keep the Glaives close to protect his son. In frustration, Noctis runs off to save Luna himself, leaving Regis no choice but to send the Glaives after him. In turn, he leaves himself, the crystal, and the ring vulnerable to attack. He proceeds with the signing ceremony as planned, prepared to sacrifice everything for his son’s safety. Meanwhile, Noctis, Nyx, and the Glaives fight a giant octopus that they find on a ship that looks suspiciously like a Niflheim aircraft to rescue Luna. Members of the Kingsglaive turn on Noctis, and when he and Nyx reach Luna, she warns them of a trap. Noctis realizes that Niflheim tricked him specifically to try to kill him. His father was right, and his hope for peace is naive. The situation gets even worse when Luna, Noctis, and Nyx see Insomnia’s wall falling, enemy ships closing in on the city, and the crystal stolen. They rush back to the castle in time to witness Regis’ death. General Glauca pursues them next to finish the job of crushing Lucis’ last hope. Nyx distracts him while Luna and Noctis escape. Along the way, they are separated. Looking over the ruins of Insomnia, Noctis vows to avenge his father and his people, reclaim his throne, and find Luna. While he still doesn’t understand his own importance, he must ensure that his father’s sacrifice wasn’t in vain. The events of Final Fantasy XV begin. This retelling basically follows Kingsglaive’s existing story, but creates more conflict by adding Prince Noctis. The presence of the prince heightens the potential costs of failure, and the characters’ actions have a greater sense of purpose. Niflheim can destroy or capture every hope that Lucis has, the ring, the crystal, Luna, and Noctis. Lucis could lose all hope for the future instead of some unspecified amount of it. Nyx’s actions and extravagant battles directly relate to protecting Noctis, a character that we can see and understand as opposed to an abstract concept. For fun, the rebellion adds more obstacles and distracts Noctis from his true enemies. To create even more conflicts that help define the characters and the world, Noctis has differing beliefs from his father and Luna. He’s also easier to relate to because he doesn’t fully understand his destiny and all these magical objects either. The greatest losses and violent acts show Noctis his mistakes and motivate him to correct them, which gives them more meaning. They also highlight Niflheim’s cruelty. On Noctis’ insistence, Lucis acts in accordance with Niflheim’s treaty and still the empire destroys Insomnia and attempts to kill Noctis and Luna. The existing story highlights Regis’ cruelty when he defies the peace treaty from the start, sacrifices his people, and doesn’t seem to care. Fifteen years after The Spirits Within, Final Fantasy looks better than ever, but the quality of its storytelling remains about the same. It could have been different though, if only Noctis had stayed. Even if he only plays a minor role, Noctis’ very presence creates a problem that the characters must solve at all costs. He’s the object of his people’s hatred, the son that his father protected over his allies and kingdom. He’s the hope that Niflheim wants to destroy and Regis, Nyx, and Luna must protect. Without him, the characters can only fight over objects and people that may or may not be important and make horrendous sacrifices in pursuit of a nebulous future that may or may not already be safe and may or may not be good. For all of Kingsglaive’s action-packed fight scenes, no one has a battle worth fighting. --- Any other Extra Lifers out there with some writing skills and a good idea? Read about how to become a community contributor and start submitting today! View full article
  11. Back in November of last year there were murmurs of a partnership between Square Enix and Machine Zone Inc. (now MZ) to create an MMO mobile game within the Final Fantasy XV universe. In March, there was a soft launch for players in New Zealand. At that point, we learned the title of the game: Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire. Without clear guidance from Square, fans were left a little confused about the game. For one thing, it looks like another team (possibly within the MZ family), Epic Action LLC, is working on the empire building game. Epic Action only has A New Empire in their Google Play and App Store catalog and it at least appears that a trademark for the company was filed for on March 31. And then there's that timeframe. March 31 and shortly after isn't really the prime time to announce new video games. All of that being said, the game appears to be legit with pre-registration open now. There does appear to be at least two official links to pre-register though... To cement the legitimacy of the game, a tweet from the Final Fantasy XV Twitter page was sent out on today. The "introduction" tweet is below and is accompanied by a link to the Twitter page for the game, and the official webpage for the game which is in Japanese. Square Enix did indeed retweet the message in question. Speaking of the game itself, its description in the mobile stores describes it as the "largest open-world MMO in the series." Also, "Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire is a mobile adventure that lets you rewrite a favorite classic to fulfill your unique destiny." What do you think of A New Empire? How do you think Square Enix is handling its expansion of the FFXV universe? View full article
  12. Back in November of last year there were murmurs of a partnership between Square Enix and Machine Zone Inc. (now MZ) to create an MMO mobile game within the Final Fantasy XV universe. In March, there was a soft launch for players in New Zealand. At that point, we learned the title of the game: Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire. Without clear guidance from Square, fans were left a little confused about the game. For one thing, it looks like another team (possibly within the MZ family), Epic Action LLC, is working on the empire building game. Epic Action only has A New Empire in their Google Play and App Store catalog and it at least appears that a trademark for the company was filed for on March 31. And then there's that timeframe. March 31 and shortly after isn't really the prime time to announce new video games. All of that being said, the game appears to be legit with pre-registration open now. There does appear to be at least two official links to pre-register though... To cement the legitimacy of the game, a tweet from the Final Fantasy XV Twitter page was sent out on today. The "introduction" tweet is below and is accompanied by a link to the Twitter page for the game, and the official webpage for the game which is in Japanese. Square Enix did indeed retweet the message in question. Speaking of the game itself, its description in the mobile stores describes it as the "largest open-world MMO in the series." Also, "Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire is a mobile adventure that lets you rewrite a favorite classic to fulfill your unique destiny." What do you think of A New Empire? How do you think Square Enix is handling its expansion of the FFXV universe?
  13. Noclip, a YouTube channel focusing on crowd-funded video game documentaries, has produced an in-depth series looking at the development history Final Fantasy XIV. This first of three installments gives a great look at the MMORPG's early history, particularly development on the 1.0 version of the game. Interviews with key designers speak about how Final Fantasy XI's design served as a blueprint, and how the development team responded to Final Fantasy XIV's initial backlash, leading to a new team coming in to completely overhaul the game into A Realm Reborn. In the past, Noclip has produced fascinating videos detailing the development of titles such as the new Doom, Rocket League, and The Witness. If you're interested in learning not just how games are made, but the personal stories behind the designers who craft them, the channel is well worth checking out. If you're interested in other gaming documentaries Gameumentary's Torchlight retrospective, Us and the Game Industry, and KAZ: Pushing the Virtual Divide are all very much worth watching. View full article
  14. Noclip, a YouTube channel focusing on crowd-funded video game documentaries, has produced an in-depth series looking at the development history Final Fantasy XIV. This first of three installments gives a great look at the MMORPG's early history, particularly development on the 1.0 version of the game. Interviews with key designers speak about how Final Fantasy XI's design served as a blueprint, and how the development team responded to Final Fantasy XIV's initial backlash, leading to a new team coming in to completely overhaul the game into A Realm Reborn. In the past, Noclip has produced fascinating videos detailing the development of titles such as the new Doom, Rocket League, and The Witness. If you're interested in learning not just how games are made, but the personal stories behind the designers who craft them, the channel is well worth checking out. If you're interested in other gaming documentaries Gameumentary's Torchlight retrospective, Us and the Game Industry, and KAZ: Pushing the Virtual Divide are all very much worth watching.
  15. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn received its latest expansion June 20 with the release of Stormblood. A journey and the warrior of light are the focal points in Stormblood story. New features include additional jobs such as the red mage and samurai, a level cap increase, new enemies, new areas to explore and more content additions. In true Square Enix fashion, there's no skimping on the epic high-fantasy vibes of the expansion's trailer. Reportedly, there were a plethora of issues for any players trying to play the game during the early access period that began on June 16. Gamers were stuck with long wait times to log into the game and still had issues while in the game. Early access will end this Friday, June 23. FFXIV: A Realm Reborn itself is a MMORPG that launched in August 2013 to Windows and PlayStation 3. Currently, it is available on PlayStation 4 and Mac. A Realm Reborn acts as a remake of the original FFXIV which was released in 2010 but was plagued with many issues. Are you playing FFXIV? Are you excited for Stormblood? View full article
  16. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn received its latest expansion June 20 with the release of Stormblood. A journey and the warrior of light are the focal points in Stormblood story. New features include additional jobs such as the red mage and samurai, a level cap increase, new enemies, new areas to explore and more content additions. In true Square Enix fashion, there's no skimping on the epic high-fantasy vibes of the expansion's trailer. Reportedly, there were a plethora of issues for any players trying to play the game during the early access period that began on June 16. Gamers were stuck with long wait times to log into the game and still had issues while in the game. Early access will end this Friday, June 23. FFXIV: A Realm Reborn itself is a MMORPG that launched in August 2013 to Windows and PlayStation 3. Currently, it is available on PlayStation 4 and Mac. A Realm Reborn acts as a remake of the original FFXIV which was released in 2010 but was plagued with many issues. Are you playing FFXIV? Are you excited for Stormblood?
  17. Square Enix unveiled the first full trailer for its next piece of Final Fantasy XV story DLC. Prompto follows in the steps of Gladiolus with his own episode that places the pistol-toting goofball under a far less jovial light. Episode Prompto follows the titular character as he uncovers the truth surrounding his origins. Combat focuses heavily on gunplay, with explosive over-the-shoulder-style firefights. Check out the trailer below, although players who have yet to play or complete Final Fantasy XV will see spoilers for one of the game's murkier subplots. Just a heads up. Episode Prompto becomes available for download June 27. For more on Final Fantasy XV, read about Square Enix's upcoming updates. View full article
  18. Square Enix unveiled the first full trailer for its next piece of Final Fantasy XV story DLC. Prompto follows in the steps of Gladiolus with his own episode that places the pistol-toting goofball under a far less jovial light. Episode Prompto follows the titular character as he uncovers the truth surrounding his origins. Combat focuses heavily on gunplay, with explosive over-the-shoulder-style firefights. Check out the trailer below, although players who have yet to play or complete Final Fantasy XV will see spoilers for one of the game's murkier subplots. Just a heads up. Episode Prompto becomes available for download June 27. For more on Final Fantasy XV, read about Square Enix's upcoming updates.
  19. Final Fantasy XV isn't at its first year anniversary yet, and yet Square Enix has already been working to fulfill its promise to continue expanding on the lore of the game. Creating a media-rich universe for its latest major Final Fantasy title has been a strong suit for Square. It's cohesiveness, however, has been a little lacking. E3 2017 saw the release of a few trailers within the FFXV Eos. First up, it was announced during the Microsoft conference that the game would get a free 4K enhancement per the Xbox One Enhance Program. Sony followed suit during its conference by announcing PS4 Pro updates. Sony also announced a VR component with PSVR spin-off Monster of the Deep. The game focuses on the fishing feature of the game, putting players behind the eyes (and rod) of Noctis. Monster of the Deep has the release date of September 2017. On June 13, aka the first official day of E3, Square released additional trailers outlining old content alongside new. The new includes a mobile game that Noctis and Co. are obsessed with called King's Knight, with its full title being King's Knight - Wrath of the Dark Dragon. The stage was pretty much set for this game to be made eventually, as it is referenced several times throughout the core gameplay of FFXV. It will be available on both Android and iOS in 2017. The FFXV Universe E3 trailer does exactly what its name implies. During the first half (roughly), viewers get a recap of all of the expanded media released so far, from the core game to the Brotherhood anime series and Kingsglaive movie. On the other end, we get the King's Knight news, E3 info, and updates including a new Regalia model, the Regalia Type-D with the June update. There, of course, was also some information on the upcoming Prompto DLC as well. During the "Universe" trailer viewers get a brief glimpse (see 1:15 on that trailer) of some sort of combat system. And June 13 also saw the release of a new video for the DLC. In the trailer, Naoshi Mizuta talks about his time composing the music for the game. There isn't much in-game content released in its runtime, but new artwork for Episode Prompto does appear at the conclusion. The third episode, centering around Ignis, didn't receive any mention. What do you think of Square Enix's efforts to create media for the FFXV universe? What do you think of the DLC content so far? View full article
  20. Final Fantasy XV isn't at its first year anniversary yet, and yet Square Enix has already been working to fulfill its promise to continue expanding on the lore of the game. Creating a media-rich universe for its latest major Final Fantasy title has been a strong suit for Square. It's cohesiveness, however, has been a little lacking. E3 2017 saw the release of a few trailers within the FFXV Eos. First up, it was announced during the Microsoft conference that the game would get a free 4K enhancement per the Xbox One Enhance Program. Sony followed suit during its conference by announcing PS4 Pro updates. Sony also announced a VR component with PSVR spin-off Monster of the Deep. The game focuses on the fishing feature of the game, putting players behind the eyes (and rod) of Noctis. Monster of the Deep has the release date of September 2017. On June 13, aka the first official day of E3, Square released additional trailers outlining old content alongside new. The new includes a mobile game that Noctis and Co. are obsessed with called King's Knight, with its full title being King's Knight - Wrath of the Dark Dragon. The stage was pretty much set for this game to be made eventually, as it is referenced several times throughout the core gameplay of FFXV. It will be available on both Android and iOS in 2017. The FFXV Universe E3 trailer does exactly what its name implies. During the first half (roughly), viewers get a recap of all of the expanded media released so far, from the core game to the Brotherhood anime series and Kingsglaive movie. On the other end, we get the King's Knight news, E3 info, and updates including a new Regalia model, the Regalia Type-D with the June update. There, of course, was also some information on the upcoming Prompto DLC as well. During the "Universe" trailer viewers get a brief glimpse (see 1:15 on that trailer) of some sort of combat system. And June 13 also saw the release of a new video for the DLC. In the trailer, Naoshi Mizuta talks about his time composing the music for the game. There isn't much in-game content released in its runtime, but new artwork for Episode Prompto does appear at the conclusion. The third episode, centering around Ignis, didn't receive any mention. What do you think of Square Enix's efforts to create media for the FFXV universe? What do you think of the DLC content so far?
  21. "Hella." If that word evokes a distinct sense of bemusement and nostalgia, have we got good news for you. Microsoft announced a prequel series to Dontnod's award-winning episodic adventure game Life Is Strange titled Life Is Strange: Before the Storm. The prequel series will be three episodes long and feature a younger version of Chloe, the blue-haired attitude machine known for getting into trouble and saying expletives that no human would ever utter. It's unclear if the game will feature original protagonist Max Caulfield, as the two were evidently separated when Max's parents moved years before. However, the game will evidently feature Rachel Amber, the best friend of Chloe's who met an unfortunate end before the events of Life Is Strange. Life Is Strange: Before the Storm's first episode is scheduled to release on August 31. View full article
  22. "Hella." If that word evokes a distinct sense of bemusement and nostalgia, have we got good news for you. Microsoft announced a prequel series to Dontnod's award-winning episodic adventure game Life Is Strange titled Life Is Strange: Before the Storm. The prequel series will be three episodes long and feature a younger version of Chloe, the blue-haired attitude machine known for getting into trouble and saying expletives that no human would ever utter. It's unclear if the game will feature original protagonist Max Caulfield, as the two were evidently separated when Max's parents moved years before. However, the game will evidently feature Rachel Amber, the best friend of Chloe's who met an unfortunate end before the events of Life Is Strange. Life Is Strange: Before the Storm's first episode is scheduled to release on August 31.
  23. Fans and critics of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children alike have commonly perceived it as lacking a compelling story, complex characters, and purposeful fight scenes. When I decided I wanted to understand why I still loved the film in 2013, I didn’t expect the answer I found. Parts one and two in this series debunked these major criticisms of the film by examining what story Advent Children tells and how it tells that story through action. This leaves the question, why did it take twelve years to notice that this film portrays the opposite of what everyone says about it? If these criticisms don’t have merit, or are at most over-exaggerated, how did they originate? The dominantly negative reviews about Advent Children appear to spawn from its subtle and unconventional storytelling combined with misconceptions that it doesn’t have a meaningful story to begin with. Advent Children frequently uses visual language, thematic imagery, and minimalist storytelling to convey its story and ideas. Movies communicate their stories visually through shot composition, lighting, costuming, video editing, and positioning of props and actors. These elements are called the film’s mise-en-scène. While films can also use verbal, written, and musical language to convey meaning, film theorists claim that as a visual medium, movies should tell their stories visually. Characters should speak less and do more. As a subscriber to this theory, Advent Children doesn’t always tell the audience what’s happening and what it means through dialog; it shows them through its mise-en-scène. Sometimes Advent Children’s scenes seem more representative of the film’s themes and ideas than of what is actually happening. For example, the final scene in the movie where we see Cloud surrounded by orphans, townspeople, and friends, both dead and alive, after crashing through the roof of a church is ridiculous even in the world of Advent Children. This scene, however, represents Cloud’s reunion with his friends, his family, and the world. He has found happiness and is ready to accept life over his memories and thoughts of death. In an earlier scene, Cloud also finds himself in an equally ridiculous scenario. Menacing orphans surround him while Kadaj taunts him. It doesn’t make sense that orphans pose a threat to a super human like Cloud, but they represent his separation from the world and heighten the tone of helplessness in the scene. By isolating himself, Cloud’s made enemies out of the people he cares about in addition to having to fight his actual enemies and demons. In general, Advent Children takes a minimalist approach to storytelling. It doesn’t repeat spoken information often. The film explains Jenova, Sephiroth, and materia only once, for example. It encourages viewing the film multiple times as opposed to spoon feeding an obvious tale that viewers can see once and completely understand. While the film shows us all the information we need to understand the story, it doesn’t always put it together. The characters don’t have extensive conversations to analyze the pieces and find meaning in the outcomes. These storytelling methods as used by Advent Children and other artworks rely to some degree on the viewer’s analytic skills and personal experiences, which has strengths and weaknesses. Advent Children gives the audience the respect and space to put its clues together themselves and incorporate their own experiences with Final Fantasy VII and real life into the film. This allows viewers to create their own powerful connections to the work either because it reminds them of personal experiences or because finding meaning in it takes effort and feels rewarding. Minimal storytelling, however, also opens the possibility that viewers will interpret the work in unintended ways. For example, audiences can interpret Advent Children’s narrative as meaningless nonsense. Viewers also may not be able to find intended meanings in the work because they don’t have the required experiences. Someone who’s never played Final Fantasy VII, for example, won’t see the similarity between Kadaj’s relationship with Cloud and Cloud’s relationship with Sephiroth. Someone unfamiliar with mental illness might not see it in Advent Children or might interpret Cloud’s character as clichéd. This doesn’t mean, however, that they can’t find meaning in the work through other experiences and clues from the film. Telling a story in this way can also make it impenetrable for casual viewers. Advent Children has plenty of action and fan service at it surface, but it takes work to see that it’s not just mindless entertainment. Advent Children also has some specific problems that make recognizing that it has meaning difficult. Its purely thematic imagery, for example, creates plot holes that can’t be filled so easily. The director’s cut Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete attempts to explain why the children and townspeople gather at the church at the end of the movie with an event even more ridiculous than the scene itself. Aerith, a dead woman, calls everyone on their cellphones, even the orphans, and tells them to go to the church… Similarly, Cloud’s apparent isolation in the final fight scene continues one of the film’s visual themes but doesn’t make sense in the story’s world, considering that his friends would never leave him to fight a worldwide threat on his own. Sometimes Advent Children withholds too much information as well. To a point, the director’s cut better explains Denzel and how he befriended Cloud, a character that struggles to display and accept affection. Viewers can easily miss this visual and minimalist storytelling, especially if they have preconceptions that the work doesn’t contain meaning. Unfortunately, Advent Children has an association with three types of movies known for poor storytelling: fan service films, photorealistic CGI, and video game movies. Reviewers say that Advent Children is obviously a “fan service film.” This term has two meanings, depending on the reviewer using it. First, these films tell a story that only fans will understand and appreciate. Second, fan service films have a bad story that exists only to show fans what they want to see, most often battles between characters from the base material. This labeling suggests that people who haven’t played Final Fantasy VII before shouldn’t even attempt to find meaning in Advent Children. At the same time, fans of the game claim that Advent Children can’t contain a good story because it sequels an already complete one. It doesn’t have any more story to tell. They also claim that it exists only to sell Final Fantasy VII merchandise such as the Crisis Core and Dirge of Cerberus video games, which came out at about the same time. Therefore, it’s meaningless fan service and merchandising. Critics don’t provide enough evidence that Advent Children is any of these things though, and it’s really not obvious. Some people, like myself, watch the film with little to no experience with Final Fantasy VII or even Final Fantasy and find it enjoyable and understandable. A majority of this review examines a story that has little to do with the game and exists entirely within the film. Fans have as much difficulty decoding the superficial geostigma-Jenova-Sephiroth story as non-fans do, and anyone can understand the parallel story about a guy struggling with his past. In fact, many Final Fantasy VII fans complain that the movie doesn’t contain enough fan service. The film spends more time on Denzel and Kadaj, characters that don’t exist in the game, than it does on the game’s playable characters. Additionally, the short battle with Sephiroth ends rather suddenly for a film that supposedly exists solely to create an excuse for the fight to happen. The film also doesn’t add anything new to the Final Fantasy VII universe. It opens with the message, “To those who loved this world and knew friendly company therein: this Reunion is for you,” but it simultaneously provides evidence that it’s not for fans only. Advent Children seems more like a film that uses Final Fantasy VII as a medium to tell a story than a fan service film. It has elements that only fans can understand, but that doesn’t mean that everything else is incomprehensible. We don’t need Barret, Yuffie, and Cid’s backstory to understand that they’re Cloud’s friends and helped save the world two years ago, for example. The backstories clearly exist because these characters have distinguishing personalities. The movie simply chooses not to present the stories of its side characters and peripheral details like a lot of other movies choose to do. “Fan service” can also mean gratuitous sex and violence. Advent Children features a cast of male characters that fit the pretty, sexy man stereotype found in many Japanese anime and relentless, sword-swinging action. When an anime doesn’t have anything interesting to say, it can resort to large-breasted women and effeminate men with partially open jackets and large swords to find an audience. Movies with these elements, however, can still have great stories and ideas to share. Hollywood has many pretty faces, but we don’t condemn all its movies as bad simply because the actors aren’t hideous. Fight Club isn’t critically acclaimed because it features Brad Pitt and two hours of men punching each other in the face. It tells an excellent story with an interesting commentary about life. Advent Children’s creators made the characters aesthetically pleasing (Who wants to look at butt ugly artwork?) but not radically different from their basic designs in the game. The film has a story and messages applicable to real life told through the action, pretty men, and Final Fantasy VII elements at its surface. Reviewers have also classified Advent Children as photorealistic despite no one in the film looking like a real person. In the wake of Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within and The Polar Express, critics labeled Advent Children as yet another attempt at photorealism with a poor story. Unsurprisingly, critics complained that it didn’t look realistic enough. Characters don’t follow the real-world laws of physics, they don’t bleed, and the movie never tricks the audience into thinking that it’s live-action. No evidence suggests that Advent Children is or ever was meant to be photorealistic. The anime-influenced characters look too perfect and alien to be real. Like cutscenes in Final Fantasy games, Advent Children only presents the illusion of realism. The creators even state in The Making Of featurette that they didn’t want to make a photorealistic film. As co-director Takeshi Nozue says, “If it looked too real, then we might as well shoot it live.” Ignoring the laws of physics and not showing blood are stylistic and thematic choices that don’t affect the quality of the story. If we don’t expect Pixar films or video games to trick us into thinking that we’re watching real people, then we shouldn’t hold Advent Children to this standard either. Finally, critics make claims about Advent Children simply because of its association with a video game. Video game movies generally don’t have great stories, but they can break this stereotype. Reviewers describe Advent Children as one long cutscene, which suggests that it doesn’t contain enough information on its own to tell a story. Everything about its story, its themes, and its characters except a few details in this analysis comes from the movie. Other reviewers have called Advent Children a series of cutscenes. This description just applies a video game term, cutscenes, to the elements that make up all movies, scenes. This metaphor doesn’t contain any information about whether the movie is good or bad. Some argue that the film can’t engage the audience because it’s not a video game. Depending on the gamer, cutscenes in games are either a reward or an annoyance, and Advent Children shows an hour and a half of beautiful visuals without requiring the player/viewer to do anything. It’s true, movies don’t reward strategic button pressing. The reward lies in finding meaning in their visuals and audio. Advent Children defies all these descriptions and criticisms because it’s unlike anything ever created. Beowulf defines technology porn, a photorealistic spectacle brimming with graphic sex, gore, and violence. A series of cutscenes accurately describes .hack//G.U. Trilogy, a film obviously missing crucial explanation and character development that would usually occur during gameplay. Similarly, a long cutscene describes Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV, a film that doesn’t even explain what problem its characters must solve because it’s in the game. Tekken: Blood Vengeance, a film that contains a ridiculous plot that ties together apparently pointless fight scenes between characters from the game, is one type of fan service film. .hack//Beyond the World, a film that loses itself in .hack lore without explaining why it matters to the protagonist, demonstrates another. Elysium (2003) shows what terrible but brief dialog combined with a terrible story looks like. Want to know what Advent Children would sound like had it explained everything in excruciating detail? Watch Ark (2005). Kaena: The Prophecy makes a sincere but novice attempt at using a video game world to tell a story, what Advent Children near perfects. While Advent Children takes inspiration from Japanese anime and live-action films, it uses CGI to its full potential to tell a story in its own way. It doesn’t use cell shading to mimic hand-drawn 2D animation like Appleseed, nor does it try to mimic live-action like The Polar Express. It avoids the uncanny valley without severely deforming its heroes like A Christmas Carol does. It retains the illusion of realism and humanity even when the characters defy the laws of physics. It entertains without resorting to excessive sex or violence like Starship Troopers: Invasion or Sausage Party do. It’s an art film and drama disguised as an action movie. It tells a thoughtful and universal story through elements from a video game. It uses CGI’s strengths to create choreography, characters, environments, and camera work that would be extremely difficult to recreate in any other medium, but it doesn’t discard basic filmmaking and narrative techniques. It creates a visual spectacle but never forgets that first and foremost it must tell a story. In a fledgling art form that struggles to tell any kind of meaningful story outside of children’s entertainment, Advent Children is one of the most important CGI movies ever made. Even with its uniqueness, Advent Children can still be judged and analyzed as a movie. It contains a story with characters, conflicts, and themes. It has spectacular battles as an action movie should, but it also conveys a meaningful narrative through its mise-en-scène both inside and outside the action scenes. While it has flaws, they don’t immediately discredit the film as a pointless visual spectacle. Advent Children has never been treated as a work of art or even as a movie though. It’s viewed through the lens of fan service, visual spectacle, and video game bonus material. It’s judged as a bad movie because it doesn’t contain enough fan service, isn’t realistic enough, and is based on a video game. None of these complaints address whether Advent Children tells a thoughtful story that connects with viewers, uses filmmaking techniques effectively to convey meaning, or doesn’t do either. And that’s a shame. From what I’ve seen, Advent Children makes the best use of known filmmaking, storytelling, and animation techniques to tell a fantastic, mature, and human story through CGI out of all films in its class. That’s why people love this movie. That’s why it never fails to make me smile. I no longer ask, “Why do I like Advent Children?” Now I ask, “Why shouldn’t I like it?” I hope you’ll ask these questions, too. The film could mean something different to you as a Final Fantasy VII fan or as a person than it does to me. If you don’t like Advent Children, I hope you, too, will ask yourself why. Is it genuinely a terrible movie, or does it just defy the expectations of some Final Fantasy VII fans and moviegoers? And, of course, if you’ve never seen it, watch it. Playing the game first is optional. Advent Children isn’t perfect, but it’s worthy of criticism and analysis. It has so much to say, and filmmakers have so much to learn from it. What does Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children mean to you? View full article
  24. Any news of the next Kingdom Hearts game in the series has been eagerly awaited by fans and coinciding with E3, Square Enix has delivered a new sneak peak. The latest trailer was released during the Los Angeles leg of the Kingdom Hearts Orchestra World Tour on June 10. In the trailer, we see the franchise heroes Sora, Donald and Goofy fighting heartless on Hercules' Mount Olympus and talking all things Roxas with Organization XIII. In another scene, universe baddies Pete and Maleficent are seen asking Hades about a "distinctive black box." Square Enix had previously teased images of Mount Olympus on it's Twitter account late 2016. The trailer was also sure to show off gameplay footage of Sora battling heartless across different locations in the Disney world. No release date was associated with the trailer. Instead, we got July 15, 2017, aka D23 Expo 2017 where there will be a presentation of a new world and another trailer. Kingdom Hearts III was first announced back at E3 2013. Are you excited for Kingdom Hearts III? When do you think we'll finally get a release date? View full article
  25. New Kingdom Hearts III Trailer Revealed

    Any news of the next Kingdom Hearts game in the series has been eagerly awaited by fans and coinciding with E3, Square Enix has delivered a new sneak peak. The latest trailer was released during the Los Angeles leg of the Kingdom Hearts Orchestra World Tour on June 10. In the trailer, we see the franchise heroes Sora, Donald and Goofy fighting heartless on Hercules' Mount Olympus and talking all things Roxas with Organization XIII. In another scene, universe baddies Pete and Maleficent are seen asking Hades about a "distinctive black box." Square Enix had previously teased images of Mount Olympus on it's Twitter account late 2016. The trailer was also sure to show off gameplay footage of Sora battling heartless across different locations in the Disney world. No release date was associated with the trailer. Instead, we got July 15, 2017, aka D23 Expo 2017 where there will be a presentation of a new world and another trailer. Kingdom Hearts III was first announced back at E3 2013. Are you excited for Kingdom Hearts III? When do you think we'll finally get a release date?