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Found 52 results

  1. Although Final Fantasy VII stole show at Square Enix's E3 2019 presentation, the publisher also announced a high definition port of the beloved Final Fantasy VIII, due out later this year. Final Fantasy VIII Remastered completes the trilogy of mainline PlayStation Final Fantasy titles playable on modern consoles. It came as something of a surprise when VII and IX were announced for PlayStation 4 (and later, other current-gen systems), while no news emerged regarding VIII. At long last, that unfortunate oversight has been noted and rectified with the announcement of Final Fantasy VIII Remastered. Initially released in 1999 for the PlayStation, Final Fantasy VIII earned a legion of fans for its innovative Junction system, which lessened the importance of traditional JRPG level grinding by instead focusing on linking magic to characters' stats, allowing for greater customization of the roster's strengths and weaknesses. The story of Final Fantasy VIII divided audiences with its intimate focus on the whirlwind romance between protagonists Squall and Rinoa, with game-changing plot twists that would define other titles in the series being swiftly overlooked by the characters who simply have different priorities in their lives. Final Fantasy VIII's bold storytelling was controversial to the point of derision, but now allows the game to stand out from the pack in an ever-growing landscape of JRPG titles. While Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy IX both received minor visual enhancements in their HD ports, Square Enix has clearly gone an extra mile with Final Fantasy VIII, with brand new textures replacing the old, pixelated versions, allowing characters to appear clear and expressive in battle. Subtle, yet profound, the changes cause character models to practically pop off the screen; it still looks like a classic PlayStation game, but the prettiest and cleanest HD version of a PlayStation game one could possibly imagine. As of this writing, it's unclear as to whether Final Fantasy VIII Remastered will receive any other enhancements over the original game; the HD ports of VII and IX both benefited from cheats which allowed players to skip random encounters, instantly max out stats, and triple the game's speed. It would be reasonable to expect Final Fantasy VIII to follow suit, but nothing is confirmed yet. Either way, fans of the classic PlayStation era of Final Fantasy will be overjoyed to have all three timeless classics downloaded to their gaming platform of choice, finally playable in glorious high definition. Final Fantasy VIII Remastered releases later in 2019 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  2. Although Final Fantasy VII stole show at Square Enix's E3 2019 presentation, the publisher also announced a high definition port of the beloved Final Fantasy VIII, due out later this year. Final Fantasy VIII Remastered completes the trilogy of mainline PlayStation Final Fantasy titles playable on modern consoles. It came as something of a surprise when VII and IX were announced for PlayStation 4 (and later, other current-gen systems), while no news emerged regarding VIII. At long last, that unfortunate oversight has been noted and rectified with the announcement of Final Fantasy VIII Remastered. Initially released in 1999 for the PlayStation, Final Fantasy VIII earned a legion of fans for its innovative Junction system, which lessened the importance of traditional JRPG level grinding by instead focusing on linking magic to characters' stats, allowing for greater customization of the roster's strengths and weaknesses. The story of Final Fantasy VIII divided audiences with its intimate focus on the whirlwind romance between protagonists Squall and Rinoa, with game-changing plot twists that would define other titles in the series being swiftly overlooked by the characters who simply have different priorities in their lives. Final Fantasy VIII's bold storytelling was controversial to the point of derision, but now allows the game to stand out from the pack in an ever-growing landscape of JRPG titles. While Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy IX both received minor visual enhancements in their HD ports, Square Enix has clearly gone an extra mile with Final Fantasy VIII, with brand new textures replacing the old, pixelated versions, allowing characters to appear clear and expressive in battle. Subtle, yet profound, the changes cause character models to practically pop off the screen; it still looks like a classic PlayStation game, but the prettiest and cleanest HD version of a PlayStation game one could possibly imagine. As of this writing, it's unclear as to whether Final Fantasy VIII Remastered will receive any other enhancements over the original game; the HD ports of VII and IX both benefited from cheats which allowed players to skip random encounters, instantly max out stats, and triple the game's speed. It would be reasonable to expect Final Fantasy VIII to follow suit, but nothing is confirmed yet. Either way, fans of the classic PlayStation era of Final Fantasy will be overjoyed to have all three timeless classics downloaded to their gaming platform of choice, finally playable in glorious high definition. Final Fantasy VIII Remastered releases later in 2019 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  3. Nintendo gave one of their most announcement heavy Directs to date earlier today, revealing the release dates of games coming to the Switch in the near future as well as teasing some longer term projects and an entirely new action IP from the creators of Bayonetta and Nier: Automata. Sandwiched between the major announcements came a number of indie reveals and announcements. The continuing flow of titles onto the system has made it one of the biggest gaming juggernauts of this generation, able to bring in new players and those fond of classic or artsy games. Without further ado, let's dive into what Nintendo had to show for their extremely successful console/handheld. Super Mario Maker 2 will release for the Switch this coming June. The sequel will bring all of the old features from the original that people loved and supplement them with a slew of new content for the best platformer builders to play with and construct their dream levels. There aren't a ton of details from the Direct, but it's likely we'll hear more as we get closer to E3 and Nintendo's customary announcements around that time. First, the company revealed Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, an upcoming action-RPG starring a huge roster of Marvel's biggest comic book characters. This will be the first time the series has seen a release in a decade and it's bringing with it an entirely new story that pits the biggest heroes of the Marvel universe against Thanos and his Black Order. While Marvel Ultimate Alliance largely exists in its own universe, there will be some nods and references to upcoming films, like an updated look for Captain Marvel and a focus on her powers and abilities. You can look forward to seeing more details coming out about Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order as we get closer to its summer release window. A boxy new puzzle game will come to Switch on April 26. Box Boy + Box Girl continues the series by adding a co-op mode. Those who complete the game will find an entirely new adventure starring the tall box boy waiting for them. The title features over 270 stages, making it the most robust puzzle game in the series to date. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will be receiving its 3.0 update soon. The free update will add a chunk of new content to the Switch's premier fighting game and will include Persona 5's Joker as a new character for those who purchased the DLC. In addition to the update, new amiibo figures based on the designs from Ultimate are coming. There aren't too many additional details, though Nintendo has said more will be coming; given the most recent patch notes for Smash, we'll be seeing a lot of new things on the battlefield. Players should expect to see the update release sometime in April. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker's Switch version will be getting a 2-player co-op mode in a free update that launches today. In addition to that game-changing update, Nintendo will release paid DLC to add 18 new challenges across new maps like a sunken ship or a candy land. Additional challenges will come to existing courses, too. Titled Captain Toad: Special Episode, fans of the game can purchase the DLC today to get their hands on one new course with the rest releasing on March 14. A digital bundle of Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker also hits the eShop later today. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night has slowly been spinning its gears up for a launch and now we finally know when to expect it on Switch! The Nintendo Direct showed off a bunch of impressive gameplay footage, giving many their first looks at character customization, hints at sidequests, and a number of interesting abilities like controlling gravity itself. Ritual of the Night will release for Switch sometime this summer. Dragon Quest Builders 2 will be coming to Switch, too. The new title supports 4-player co-op locally or online. Among a number of other additions, DQ Builders 2 will also add a first person mode to fully complete the Minecraft comparisons. The construction RPG releases July 12. Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age Definitive Edition comes to Switch this fall. The new version possesses some striking differences from the original release. Players can decide to play it in a classic 16-bit mode for a truly retro feel. The soundtrack has also been fully orchestrated across the entire game, though it includes both soundtracks for players to choose whichever they like better. There were some complaints about the English voice overs, so the Definitive Edition also includes the Japanese voiceover options. Finally, new companion quests and storylines will fully flesh out the backstories of the various party members that join the hero on his journey to save the world. Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age Definitive Edition launches this fall. Disney found a lot of success with their stuffed tsum tsum toys based on Disney characters. That popularity has turned the toys into a game of their very own. Disney Tsum Tsum Festival offers a collection of multiplayer mini-games for people of all ages as well as a core puzzle matching game. This game will come to Switch sometime in 2019. Star Link: Battle for Atlas on the Switch will receive a free update in April of this year that brings the members of Star Wolf into conflict with all the members of Star Fox. Players will be able to play as Falco, Slippy, and Peppy, each with their own unique abilities to combat the nefarious plans of their evil mercenary rivals. The popular Harvest Moon-inspired series Rune Factory will be coming to Nintendo Switch later this year with Rune Factory 4 Special. This remastered version of Rune Factory 4 offers a light RPG experience alongside farming, trading, and socializing with various locals. Unique to the Switch version, players will be able to marry NPCs who become close to the main character. Rune Factory 4 Special will release later this year. In addition to all of that, Nintendo confirmed that Rune Factory 5 is currently in development, though they didn't clarify anything more than that. Oninaki appears to be the next indie RPG from Square Enix in the same vein as I Am Setsuna. Oninaki puts players in the role of an individual who can cross the line between life and death to save lost souls. The balance of reincarnation has been thrown off, with souls becoming lost and turning into monsters that roam the land. As players save souls, they will unlock new abilities they can use to more effectively fight monsters with the right weapons. The deep, single-player RPG launches this coming summer. Yoshi's Crafted World will release on March 28. In addition to the platforming and puzzle-solving that players expect, keep your eyes peeled for the hidden costumes and minigames scattered throughout the worlds. These hidden costumes provide a bit of extra protection to Yoshi, too, so they're more than just decorative. Nintendo will release a demo later today that will allow players to go through the first course and experience its charm first-hand. This Nintendo Direct revealed a great deal of information about the upcoming Fire Emblem title, Fire Emblem: Three Houses. The turn-based RPG looks like it might have received an overhaul in terms of both its systems and story. The player starts as a mercenary who uncovers a strange power and receives an offer to teach students at a strange monastery at the center of three great nations of a fantastical continent. As all of this happens visions begin to haunt the hero hinting at a grand future yet to unfold. Naturally, there are three factions of students, one from each country. Players will have to choose which faction to tutor, leading to a branching story line and three different campaigns. From the basic plot ideas laid out in the Direct, it seems like the new Fire Emblem combines the school drama of titles like Persona with the traditional turn-based combat and deep systems of Fire Emblem. Fire Emblem: Three Houses releases on July 26. Nintendo teased a battle royale puzzle game called Tetris 99. Details were a bit scarce, but players will be able to hinder one another and battle to remain the last Tetris player standing in the online title that actually releases today! Dead by Daylight will be coming to Nintendo Switch this fall, though it's unclear whether there will be Switch specific additions to the indie hunter-hunted game. Toby Fox's Delta Rune Chapter 1 releases for Switch on February 28. Much like it's PC counterpart, the Switch version will be free, though the remaining chapters that will fill out the title will not be free. Final Fantasy IX, arguably the best Final Fantasy game of all-time, will be available on Nintendo Switch later today. Additionally, Final Fantasy VII comes to Nintendo Switch on March 26. The mecha action game Daemon X Machina has somehow managed to keep a low profile recently, but producer Kenichiro Tsukada hopes to change that with a demo releasing later today. The demo, a collection of missions titled Daemon X Machina: Prototype Missions, includes several sorties to acclimate and familiarize players with its gameplay and systems. The demo culminates in an encounter with a massive mechanical boss for a good final challenge. The demo also serves as a beta of sorts and some players who download it will be sent surveys to help the developers fine-tune the experience for the full release. Check out the demo and get hype for Daemon X Machina when it releases this summer. Touting the most realistic racing title on Switch to date, GRID Autosport will be coming to Switch. Players will be able to use motion controls to drive or customize their own specialized control schemes. Players can race one another in split screen or online across a variety of real-world maps. This version will also include all DLC released for the title on other platforms, meaning there are over 100 cars and 100 circuits to race with. Expect GRID Autosport later this summer. Chocobo Mystery Dungeon Every Buddy (March 20) Hellblade Senua's Sacrifice (Spring 2019) Mortal Kombat 11 (April 23) Unraveled 2 (March 22) Assassin's Creed III Remastered (May 22) To round out their Direct, Nintendo announced Astral Chain, a new IP from Platinum Games. Hideki Kamiya, the creator of Bayonetta, is supervising the creation of Astral Chain while the core direction duties have gone to Takahisa Taura, the director of Neir: Automata. The trailer provides nearly all of the details we have to go on: It's about police officers dealing with a terrorist threat in a crazy sci-fi world. They seem to have abilities or technology that allows them to summon mechanical warriors while also fighting themselves - connected by what one can assume is the titular astral chain. However, given the dialogue in the trailer, it's all too possible that their fight against the terrorists is inadvertently dooming the world. Astral Chain releases on August 30. THEY ARE REMAKING THE WIND FISH Erm... *ahem* Nintendo closed their Direct by teasing a resurrection of the classic action-adventure Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening. The remake of the 1993 Game Boy title oozes so much charm and joy that it's, frankly, criminal. The revamped art style rivals some of the heaviest hitting cute aesthetics in all of gaming - and we get to play the new Link's Awakening before the year is done as this Switch exclusive will release sometime this year. You can watch the entire Nintendo Direct for yourself below if you'd like to see all of the announcements for yourself: Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  4. Nintendo gave one of their most announcement heavy Directs to date earlier today, revealing the release dates of games coming to the Switch in the near future as well as teasing some longer term projects and an entirely new action IP from the creators of Bayonetta and Nier: Automata. Sandwiched between the major announcements came a number of indie reveals and announcements. The continuing flow of titles onto the system has made it one of the biggest gaming juggernauts of this generation, able to bring in new players and those fond of classic or artsy games. Without further ado, let's dive into what Nintendo had to show for their extremely successful console/handheld. Super Mario Maker 2 will release for the Switch this coming June. The sequel will bring all of the old features from the original that people loved and supplement them with a slew of new content for the best platformer builders to play with and construct their dream levels. There aren't a ton of details from the Direct, but it's likely we'll hear more as we get closer to E3 and Nintendo's customary announcements around that time. First, the company revealed Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, an upcoming action-RPG starring a huge roster of Marvel's biggest comic book characters. This will be the first time the series has seen a release in a decade and it's bringing with it an entirely new story that pits the biggest heroes of the Marvel universe against Thanos and his Black Order. While Marvel Ultimate Alliance largely exists in its own universe, there will be some nods and references to upcoming films, like an updated look for Captain Marvel and a focus on her powers and abilities. You can look forward to seeing more details coming out about Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order as we get closer to its summer release window. A boxy new puzzle game will come to Switch on April 26. Box Boy + Box Girl continues the series by adding a co-op mode. Those who complete the game will find an entirely new adventure starring the tall box boy waiting for them. The title features over 270 stages, making it the most robust puzzle game in the series to date. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will be receiving its 3.0 update soon. The free update will add a chunk of new content to the Switch's premier fighting game and will include Persona 5's Joker as a new character for those who purchased the DLC. In addition to the update, new amiibo figures based on the designs from Ultimate are coming. There aren't too many additional details, though Nintendo has said more will be coming; given the most recent patch notes for Smash, we'll be seeing a lot of new things on the battlefield. Players should expect to see the update release sometime in April. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker's Switch version will be getting a 2-player co-op mode in a free update that launches today. In addition to that game-changing update, Nintendo will release paid DLC to add 18 new challenges across new maps like a sunken ship or a candy land. Additional challenges will come to existing courses, too. Titled Captain Toad: Special Episode, fans of the game can purchase the DLC today to get their hands on one new course with the rest releasing on March 14. A digital bundle of Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker also hits the eShop later today. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night has slowly been spinning its gears up for a launch and now we finally know when to expect it on Switch! The Nintendo Direct showed off a bunch of impressive gameplay footage, giving many their first looks at character customization, hints at sidequests, and a number of interesting abilities like controlling gravity itself. Ritual of the Night will release for Switch sometime this summer. Dragon Quest Builders 2 will be coming to Switch, too. The new title supports 4-player co-op locally or online. Among a number of other additions, DQ Builders 2 will also add a first person mode to fully complete the Minecraft comparisons. The construction RPG releases July 12. Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age Definitive Edition comes to Switch this fall. The new version possesses some striking differences from the original release. Players can decide to play it in a classic 16-bit mode for a truly retro feel. The soundtrack has also been fully orchestrated across the entire game, though it includes both soundtracks for players to choose whichever they like better. There were some complaints about the English voice overs, so the Definitive Edition also includes the Japanese voiceover options. Finally, new companion quests and storylines will fully flesh out the backstories of the various party members that join the hero on his journey to save the world. Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age Definitive Edition launches this fall. Disney found a lot of success with their stuffed tsum tsum toys based on Disney characters. That popularity has turned the toys into a game of their very own. Disney Tsum Tsum Festival offers a collection of multiplayer mini-games for people of all ages as well as a core puzzle matching game. This game will come to Switch sometime in 2019. Star Link: Battle for Atlas on the Switch will receive a free update in April of this year that brings the members of Star Wolf into conflict with all the members of Star Fox. Players will be able to play as Falco, Slippy, and Peppy, each with their own unique abilities to combat the nefarious plans of their evil mercenary rivals. The popular Harvest Moon-inspired series Rune Factory will be coming to Nintendo Switch later this year with Rune Factory 4 Special. This remastered version of Rune Factory 4 offers a light RPG experience alongside farming, trading, and socializing with various locals. Unique to the Switch version, players will be able to marry NPCs who become close to the main character. Rune Factory 4 Special will release later this year. In addition to all of that, Nintendo confirmed that Rune Factory 5 is currently in development, though they didn't clarify anything more than that. Oninaki appears to be the next indie RPG from Square Enix in the same vein as I Am Setsuna. Oninaki puts players in the role of an individual who can cross the line between life and death to save lost souls. The balance of reincarnation has been thrown off, with souls becoming lost and turning into monsters that roam the land. As players save souls, they will unlock new abilities they can use to more effectively fight monsters with the right weapons. The deep, single-player RPG launches this coming summer. Yoshi's Crafted World will release on March 28. In addition to the platforming and puzzle-solving that players expect, keep your eyes peeled for the hidden costumes and minigames scattered throughout the worlds. These hidden costumes provide a bit of extra protection to Yoshi, too, so they're more than just decorative. Nintendo will release a demo later today that will allow players to go through the first course and experience its charm first-hand. This Nintendo Direct revealed a great deal of information about the upcoming Fire Emblem title, Fire Emblem: Three Houses. The turn-based RPG looks like it might have received an overhaul in terms of both its systems and story. The player starts as a mercenary who uncovers a strange power and receives an offer to teach students at a strange monastery at the center of three great nations of a fantastical continent. As all of this happens visions begin to haunt the hero hinting at a grand future yet to unfold. Naturally, there are three factions of students, one from each country. Players will have to choose which faction to tutor, leading to a branching story line and three different campaigns. From the basic plot ideas laid out in the Direct, it seems like the new Fire Emblem combines the school drama of titles like Persona with the traditional turn-based combat and deep systems of Fire Emblem. Fire Emblem: Three Houses releases on July 26. Nintendo teased a battle royale puzzle game called Tetris 99. Details were a bit scarce, but players will be able to hinder one another and battle to remain the last Tetris player standing in the online title that actually releases today! Dead by Daylight will be coming to Nintendo Switch this fall, though it's unclear whether there will be Switch specific additions to the indie hunter-hunted game. Toby Fox's Delta Rune Chapter 1 releases for Switch on February 28. Much like it's PC counterpart, the Switch version will be free, though the remaining chapters that will fill out the title will not be free. Final Fantasy IX, arguably the best Final Fantasy game of all-time, will be available on Nintendo Switch later today. Additionally, Final Fantasy VII comes to Nintendo Switch on March 26. The mecha action game Daemon X Machina has somehow managed to keep a low profile recently, but producer Kenichiro Tsukada hopes to change that with a demo releasing later today. The demo, a collection of missions titled Daemon X Machina: Prototype Missions, includes several sorties to acclimate and familiarize players with its gameplay and systems. The demo culminates in an encounter with a massive mechanical boss for a good final challenge. The demo also serves as a beta of sorts and some players who download it will be sent surveys to help the developers fine-tune the experience for the full release. Check out the demo and get hype for Daemon X Machina when it releases this summer. Touting the most realistic racing title on Switch to date, GRID Autosport will be coming to Switch. Players will be able to use motion controls to drive or customize their own specialized control schemes. Players can race one another in split screen or online across a variety of real-world maps. This version will also include all DLC released for the title on other platforms, meaning there are over 100 cars and 100 circuits to race with. Expect GRID Autosport later this summer. Chocobo Mystery Dungeon Every Buddy (March 20) Hellblade Senua's Sacrifice (Spring 2019) Mortal Kombat 11 (April 23) Unraveled 2 (March 22) Assassin's Creed III Remastered (May 22) To round out their Direct, Nintendo announced Astral Chain, a new IP from Platinum Games. Hideki Kamiya, the creator of Bayonetta, is supervising the creation of Astral Chain while the core direction duties have gone to Takahisa Taura, the director of Neir: Automata. The trailer provides nearly all of the details we have to go on: It's about police officers dealing with a terrorist threat in a crazy sci-fi world. They seem to have abilities or technology that allows them to summon mechanical warriors while also fighting themselves - connected by what one can assume is the titular astral chain. However, given the dialogue in the trailer, it's all too possible that their fight against the terrorists is inadvertently dooming the world. Astral Chain releases on August 30. THEY ARE REMAKING THE WIND FISH Erm... *ahem* Nintendo closed their Direct by teasing a resurrection of the classic action-adventure Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening. The remake of the 1993 Game Boy title oozes so much charm and joy that it's, frankly, criminal. The revamped art style rivals some of the heaviest hitting cute aesthetics in all of gaming - and we get to play the new Link's Awakening before the year is done as this Switch exclusive will release sometime this year. You can watch the entire Nintendo Direct for yourself below if you'd like to see all of the announcements for yourself: Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  5. Kingdom Hearts III game director Tetsuya Nomura has released a statement to the Kingdom Hearts community asking fans who might come across leaked videos of the latest installment in the series not to share them on social media. This comes after a number of copies of the game, set to release next month, made their way into the hands of a select few players who have been putting out videos of their progress. Nomura has long been one of the most talented people working in game design. He worked as the graphic director, character designer, and wrote the story for Final Fantasy VI. He went on to design the characters for Final Fantasy VII, VIII, and X. Following that, Kingdom Hearts became his baby, as he shaped the story, crafted the 2D art, and directed just about every single entry in the series. The leak of the game he's spent over a decade creating was bound to provoke a response. Nomura's message comes just as Kingdom Hearts III's latest trailer drops. Titled "Final Battle", the teaser gives a brief overview of what's going on in the series (though you're still able to feel a bit lost even if you've played one or two games in the series). It was originally slated for release tomorrow, but it may have been moved up in an effort to drown out the leaked videos appearing online. You can read the full message below to all the Kingdom Hearts fans out there from Tetsuya Nomura, relayed via Twitter. We're aware that a small portion of Kingdom Hearts III has been circulating online before its official release. We are also aware as to how this has happened. We're sorry to see this caused concern amongst our fans who are excited for the release. The whole team has been working together since yesterday night (Japan time) to investigate what we can do to better this situation, but first we would like to ask that you do not share these videos. The game's epilogue and secret movie, which are the biggest spoilers in this game, are planned to be released at a later date just in case, so they will not be shown before the game's release. We want everyone to be able to equally experience the full game after its release, so we ask for your continued support on this matter. We're also very grateful that our fans have been warning each other already about the spoilers. Thank you very much. We're one month our from the release. Let's enjoy the game together when it releases on January 29, 2019. There's conflicting opinions out in the wild regarding leaked footage that intensifies around popular releases. On the one hand, streamers and video creators tend to view time as a particularly valuable resource. Being able to get a piece of valuable media like Kingdom Hearts III out into the wild before everyone else is guaranteed eyeballs on their work that could mean a huge influx of subscribers or a nice cash bonus. On the other hand, it can be a pretty disappointing occurrence for both the studio and fans with a big investment in the series. The studio wants to be able to coordinate its marketing efforts as much as possible in the lead up to release. Fans want to anticipate together as a community and then enjoy the release together. Putting out content of unreleased media before its officially ready can disrupt all of those goals. All of that being said, let's listen to the game director - don't share spoilers of a game that isn't even out yet. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  6. Kingdom Hearts III game director Tetsuya Nomura has released a statement to the Kingdom Hearts community asking fans who might come across leaked videos of the latest installment in the series not to share them on social media. This comes after a number of copies of the game, set to release next month, made their way into the hands of a select few players who have been putting out videos of their progress. Nomura has long been one of the most talented people working in game design. He worked as the graphic director, character designer, and wrote the story for Final Fantasy VI. He went on to design the characters for Final Fantasy VII, VIII, and X. Following that, Kingdom Hearts became his baby, as he shaped the story, crafted the 2D art, and directed just about every single entry in the series. The leak of the game he's spent over a decade creating was bound to provoke a response. Nomura's message comes just as Kingdom Hearts III's latest trailer drops. Titled "Final Battle", the teaser gives a brief overview of what's going on in the series (though you're still able to feel a bit lost even if you've played one or two games in the series). It was originally slated for release tomorrow, but it may have been moved up in an effort to drown out the leaked videos appearing online. You can read the full message below to all the Kingdom Hearts fans out there from Tetsuya Nomura, relayed via Twitter. We're aware that a small portion of Kingdom Hearts III has been circulating online before its official release. We are also aware as to how this has happened. We're sorry to see this caused concern amongst our fans who are excited for the release. The whole team has been working together since yesterday night (Japan time) to investigate what we can do to better this situation, but first we would like to ask that you do not share these videos. The game's epilogue and secret movie, which are the biggest spoilers in this game, are planned to be released at a later date just in case, so they will not be shown before the game's release. We want everyone to be able to equally experience the full game after its release, so we ask for your continued support on this matter. We're also very grateful that our fans have been warning each other already about the spoilers. Thank you very much. We're one month our from the release. Let's enjoy the game together when it releases on January 29, 2019. There's conflicting opinions out in the wild regarding leaked footage that intensifies around popular releases. On the one hand, streamers and video creators tend to view time as a particularly valuable resource. Being able to get a piece of valuable media like Kingdom Hearts III out into the wild before everyone else is guaranteed eyeballs on their work that could mean a huge influx of subscribers or a nice cash bonus. On the other hand, it can be a pretty disappointing occurrence for both the studio and fans with a big investment in the series. The studio wants to be able to coordinate its marketing efforts as much as possible in the lead up to release. Fans want to anticipate together as a community and then enjoy the release together. Putting out content of unreleased media before its officially ready can disrupt all of those goals. All of that being said, let's listen to the game director - don't share spoilers of a game that isn't even out yet. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  7. The PlayStation 2 title that blended the magics of Disney and Final Fantasy into one crazy package, Kingdom Hearts captured the imaginations of a generation of gamers with a smorgasbord of previously unthinkable crossovers the likes of which had never been seen in video games before. The action-RPG, though regarded by many as a classic now, was conceived of as a big gamble that Disney and Square were only willing to take because of the ailing finances of their respective companies. Now, more years than many would care to admit later, the third official installment of the series seems to be on the brink of release. So we have to ask.... Does the original Kingdom Hearts hold up as one of the best games of all-time? Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. Outro music: Kingdom Hearts 'Protect Your Kingdom' by Smooth4Lyfe (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03532) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  8. The PlayStation 2 title that blended the magics of Disney and Final Fantasy into one crazy package, Kingdom Hearts captured the imaginations of a generation of gamers with a smorgasbord of previously unthinkable crossovers the likes of which had never been seen in video games before. The action-RPG, though regarded by many as a classic now, was conceived of as a big gamble that Disney and Square were only willing to take because of the ailing finances of their respective companies. Now, more years than many would care to admit later, the third official installment of the series seems to be on the brink of release. So we have to ask.... Does the original Kingdom Hearts hold up as one of the best games of all-time? Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. Outro music: Kingdom Hearts 'Protect Your Kingdom' by Smooth4Lyfe (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03532) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  9. During the Square Enix 2018 E3 conference, it was announced that Monster Hunter would crossover into the Final Fantasy XIV universe. In the trailer, we see a super stoked Palico approach a character who appears to be Auron from Final Fantasy. We then see that it is indeed another character dressed up as such and eventually zoom to an entire lineup of characters dressed in get-ups from various points in the franchise gearing up to take on a Rathalos. The rest of the trailer showed off content and revealed the patch Under the Moonlight. The collaboration and content will come to the game later this summer.
  10. During the Square Enix 2018 E3 conference, it was announced that Monster Hunter would crossover into the Final Fantasy XIV universe. In the trailer, we see a super stoked Palico approach a character who appears to be Auron from Final Fantasy. We then see that it is indeed another character dressed up as such and eventually zoom to an entire lineup of characters dressed in get-ups from various points in the franchise gearing up to take on a Rathalos. The rest of the trailer showed off content and revealed the patch Under the Moonlight. The collaboration and content will come to the game later this summer. View full article
  11. It's official, the game that took 10 years to develop is one year old. Final Fantasy XV celebrated it's first birthday today and to celebrate Square Enix made a few announcements. To commemorate the event, Square Enix held what it called an “Active Time Report” which was a live stream with voice actors from the game and Kingsglaive and discussed "the past, present, and future of Final Fantasy XV." The biggest news to come from the stream was the details of December update. It was revealed that players will be able to switch between Noctis Ignis, Prompto and Gladio during the main campaign of the game. While there are some restrictions to this, notably the Chapter 9 Leviathan fight, this feature is available mostly in the open world. During the Japanese stream, it was revealed that there would be more episodic installments for the game with Episode Ardyn being confirmed as one of them. There was no word on the character focus for the other two, but there has been speculation that they might be about Aranea and Lunafreya. Yes please. The goal for release on these is 2018. In addition to all of that, we also got to see the first three opening minutes of the upcoming Episode Ignis which will be released Dec. 13. The multiplayer expansion Comrades made an appearance as well with the update on that coming out around the same time as Episode Ignis. Updates for Comrades are also planned for next year, with the possibility of a playable Noctis, Ignis, Gladio and Prompto. FFXV wouldn't be anywhere without its fans, and Square included its players in the celebration with a Moogle Fan Art Competition. "To help celebrate the one year anniversary of FFXV, we’ve made a limited number of handmade FFXV moogles, kupo!" said the announcement. The competition is open now until Dec. 31. View full article
  12. It's official, the game that took 10 years to develop is one year old. Final Fantasy XV celebrated it's first birthday today and to celebrate Square Enix made a few announcements. To commemorate the event, Square Enix held what it called an “Active Time Report” which was a live stream with voice actors from the game and Kingsglaive and discussed "the past, present, and future of Final Fantasy XV." The biggest news to come from the stream was the details of December update. It was revealed that players will be able to switch between Noctis Ignis, Prompto and Gladio during the main campaign of the game. While there are some restrictions to this, notably the Chapter 9 Leviathan fight, this feature is available mostly in the open world. During the Japanese stream, it was revealed that there would be more episodic installments for the game with Episode Ardyn being confirmed as one of them. There was no word on the character focus for the other two, but there has been speculation that they might be about Aranea and Lunafreya. Yes please. The goal for release on these is 2018. In addition to all of that, we also got to see the first three opening minutes of the upcoming Episode Ignis which will be released Dec. 13. The multiplayer expansion Comrades made an appearance as well with the update on that coming out around the same time as Episode Ignis. Updates for Comrades are also planned for next year, with the possibility of a playable Noctis, Ignis, Gladio and Prompto. FFXV wouldn't be anywhere without its fans, and Square included its players in the celebration with a Moogle Fan Art Competition. "To help celebrate the one year anniversary of FFXV, we’ve made a limited number of handmade FFXV moogles, kupo!" said the announcement. The competition is open now until Dec. 31.
  13. 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
  14. 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
  15. Sometime in the early 2000s, my mother purchased a 3D movie viewer and glasses for our TV and some 3D movies from eBay and other online retailers. Included was Elysium, a CGI film mailed without a case in a package that appeared to be addressed in Chinese. This movie, mistakenly believed to be 3D, ended up sitting in a box, unwatched until 2013. Shortly after I began critiquing odd, obscure, and adult-oriented CGI movies for fun, I happened to remember the foreign film my siblings, cousins, and I abandoned more than a decade earlier in favor of Frankenstein and Night of the Living Dead in 3D. Ever since, it has humored, shocked, and baffled me. The film shows signs of tampering with places where the audio cuts out and sloppy video editing. The English adaptation is extensively re-edited from the original film and, oddly, includes thirteen minutes of brand new footage. Redubs of the film from other countries are translations of the English script rather than the original and include a bizarre collection of special features on their DVDs. Most people would have discounted Elysium as a half-baked attempt at a giant robot anime gone terribly wrong, but instead, I set out to find how the movie came to be. While I wasn’t entirely successful, I did discover many strange things surrounding what has been referred to as the Final Fantasy of South Korea. Its proximity to the release of Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001) and video game-like graphics earned Elysium (2003) its comparison to Square Picture’s film, and it roughly follows the “heroes come together to save the world” storyline seen in many Final Fantasy games. Van, a bike racer and pizza delivery boy; Paul, a juvenile delinquent; Christopher, a fighter pilot; and Nyx, an alien from the planet Elysium, are chosen to pilot four giant armors and protect the Earth from evil. Together they must defeat Necros, the general of the Elysium army who started a war between the Elysium and humans to set his plans to gain power into motion. The first time I watched this film, however, its problems were more apparent than its story or its tenuous resemblance to Final Fantasy. It suffered from bad animation and special effects, poor writing, and most of all, frantic editing that made the story nearly incoherent. Robots and spaceships exploded like Death Stars. The attempts that characters made at displaying joy, horror, or terror with their plastic faces had more hilarious than successful results. The subtitling was sometimes comically bad, but even if it were flawless, the film had little room to explain itself. It was edited together so chaotically that it lost all sense of time and place. Transitions to move characters from one location to another were missing. Instead, characters traveled an impossible distance, like from a space ship to the middle of a city, in a single shot or disappeared mid-scene, making it seem like they could teleport. Some scenes, particularly battles, seemed to be composed of shots that had been placed in a random, nonsense order. The film often jumped between scenes to suggest that multiple events occurred at the same time or sequentially. Sometimes, however, the scenes placed together couldn’t reasonably happen at either of those times, and the film made no attempt to explain when they occurred or to even provide a transition between them to suggest time passing. This problem was so prevalent that anywhere from a few days to a few years could have passed in the course of the movie. Also on the DVD, I discovered, shockingly, a short “The Making Of” film. In it, the creators showed off their use of motion capture and their attention to continuity, which the film seemed to lack entirely. Someone at some point cared about and showed pride in this hacked together film. Who? What were they trying to achieve, and why did it fail so completely? I looked to the Internet for answers. Unfortunately, all that I found was a tiny Wikipedia article, an incomplete IMDB page, and a small number of reviews, half of which weren’t in English. The official website had become what appeared to be a website for a park. All that anyone seemed to know for certain was that the film was made in South Korea. Even simple plot summaries were wrong half the time. One website claimed that it was a wartime drama that took place in Budapest and was based on a true story. A reviewer claimed that Elysium (2013) was a remake of Elysium (2003), to which it bore no resemblance. Even the official IMDB page claimed that “the story is about the message, only love for humanity can save the earth.” I couldn’t see how anyone could pull that out of the series of images I watched. Even stranger, some user reviews praised Elysium for its superb animation and reasonable, well told story. Excuse me? Had we watched the same movie? As it turned out, we hadn’t. During my search, I found to my delight that the film had been redubbed in English. The only way the film could possibly be worse, and more hilarious, would be to give it a terrible English dub. Naturally, I absolutely had to have it. I bought one of the last remaining copies from the dark corners of Amazon. With actors who clearly didn’t care, obvious and badly improvised lines, and weird dialog that didn’t match the film, the redub was as amazing as expected. Crispin Freeman, a popular voice actor in English dubs of anime, who voices Kronos and Lycon in Elysium, was about the only actor who gave a consistently decent performance. Differences in the script, however, made the story more coherent. Primarily, an added narrator tied together starkly cut together scenes and provided a better sense of time passing. As I continued to watch the two dubs of the film in preparation to review Elysium though, I noticed something else. I was watching the English version of the movie when the protagonist Van made a tasteless joke about bulimia. I’d just watched the Korean version the previous day, but I couldn’t remember Van joking about bulimics in it. More than likely, he’d made a different joke, he spoke about something else, or the subtitles were indistinguishable. I wondered though, so I opened the Korean film and looked for the scene. To my surprise, the part of the scene where Van made the joke didn’t exist. Comparing the length of the two films, I realized that the English dub was thirteen minutes longer than the original film. I proceeded to go through both versions of Elysium and map out the differences between them. While they told basically the same story, they were edited together much differently. The scenes appeared in different orders, the English version had shots and entire scenes that the Korean version didn’t, and the Korean film also had shots that didn’t exist in the English film. While the English adaptation was still a mess, it was overall better paced and better put together than the Korean film. Going to my experience with English dubs of Japanese anime, I knew that sometimes adaptations were also re-edited to add or remove elements in the footage or reorder scenes and shots to tell a different story, but the English adaptation of Elysium contained seemingly brand new content that someone animated and rendered! By this point, I was seriously questioning the DVD that came without a case in that package addressed in Chinese all those years ago. I thought I had the original Korean film, but clearly, more footage existed. As I watched it again, I could see and hear where the scenes were abruptly cut off where they continued in the English version as if someone had butchered the film to make it shorter. If I didn’t have the original film, then what did I have? I again went back to my experience with Japanese anime, specifically bootlegs of anime. Perhaps I had some crazy Chinese import. These ethically questionable, if not illegal, purchases are usually cheap and have Chinese subtitles and poor English subtitles. My supposed Korean copy of Elysium fit this description. Why would bootleggers take the time to re-edit the film, and make it worse, though? They don’t even subtitle properly. I needed more copies of the movie if I wanted to answer these questions. Perhaps I had some early edit of Elysium that mistakenly released to the public, and somewhere out there the actual original Korean film, one even more complete than the English adaptation, existed… Or maybe whoever wanted to redub the movie in another language got a box of footage to edit together. The only DVD of the movie I could find that had a Korean audio option was the German DVD. It claimed to be of the same length as the English version. I also found a Polish adaptation that claimed to be of a different length than the Korean and English versions. I found a French DVD on eBay, too, but I’d already nearly emptied Amazon of its copies. I didn’t want to get too crazy with this terrible movie. The Polish DVD was perfect for any Elysium fan’s shelf and, simultaneously, the most bizarre DVD I’d ever seen. In its beautiful packaging were five Elysium trading cards, words that I never thought I would say let alone use to describe real objects. The DVD had well-designed, interesting menus and included character descriptions and the name of the armor each character pilots, information that wasn’t revealed in the movie. Contrary to its description online, it contained the English version of the film with Polish and English audio options. Things got weird starting with the Polish dub, which featured one guy repeating all the dialog in Polish over the English dub. The DVD also contained descriptions of about 186 random movies, from Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer to Kill Bill, and samples of all the songs from seven CDs that had nothing to do with Elysium. Most of the music was electronica. I could dig that. Anyway, the German DVD proved to be more relevant to my search, but it left me with more questions than answers. “Is the Korean on this DVD actually Korean?” was among them. The DVD, subtitled “Koreas Antwort auf Final Fantasy,” which Google translated to “Korea’s answer to Final Fantasy,” contained the English version of the film with German, English, and Korean audio options and German subtitles. The Korean audio, however, didn’t contain a full length version of the dub on my Korean DVD as I expected. The voice actors were different, and the script was obviously translated from the English dub. Most bothersome of all, the dialog didn’t sound like Korean. I wasn’t super familiar with Korean, but I knew that something was strange. At times, it sounded similar to Spanish and other times it sounded more like Chinese. I asked the Internet, but as of this writing, I still don’t have a definitive answer to what language it is. Early opinions concur; it isn’t Korean. Unlike the twenty plus games and movies that Japan’s Final Fantasy spawned, Korea’s Final Fantasy truly is a final fantasy. Thirteen years after its release, Elysium has been nearly forgotten, leaving strange artifacts behind. Among them is the original Korean film stitched together like Frankenstein’s monster, a “The Making Of” featurette showing the care that went into creating it, thirteen minutes of previously unseen footage that appeared in the English dub without explanation, and a German DVD with a “Koreanisch” audio option that doesn’t sound Korean. Someone saw enough potential in the original film to not only redub it but also extensively re-edit it. Similarly, someone saw enough potential in the mediocre English redub to translate it into other languages and package it in nicely crafted DVDs. These adaptations, however, buried the original film and left a trail questions, “What went wrong?” being the biggest among them. While these DVDs remain enigmatic mysteries, I continue on my search for answers. --- 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!
  16. Sometime in the early 2000s, my mother purchased a 3D movie viewer and glasses for our TV and some 3D movies from eBay and other online retailers. Included was Elysium, a CGI film mailed without a case in a package that appeared to be addressed in Chinese. This movie, mistakenly believed to be 3D, ended up sitting in a box, unwatched until 2013. Shortly after I began critiquing odd, obscure, and adult-oriented CGI movies for fun, I happened to remember the foreign film my siblings, cousins, and I abandoned more than a decade earlier in favor of Frankenstein and Night of the Living Dead in 3D. Ever since, it has humored, shocked, and baffled me. The film shows signs of tampering with places where the audio cuts out and sloppy video editing. The English adaptation is extensively re-edited from the original film and, oddly, includes thirteen minutes of brand new footage. Redubs of the film from other countries are translations of the English script rather than the original and include a bizarre collection of special features on their DVDs. Most people would have discounted Elysium as a half-baked attempt at a giant robot anime gone terribly wrong, but instead, I set out to find how the movie came to be. While I wasn’t entirely successful, I did discover many strange things surrounding what has been referred to as the Final Fantasy of South Korea. Its proximity to the release of Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001) and video game-like graphics earned Elysium (2003) its comparison to Square Picture’s film, and it roughly follows the “heroes come together to save the world” storyline seen in many Final Fantasy games. Van, a bike racer and pizza delivery boy; Paul, a juvenile delinquent; Christopher, a fighter pilot; and Nyx, an alien from the planet Elysium, are chosen to pilot four giant armors and protect the Earth from evil. Together they must defeat Necros, the general of the Elysium army who started a war between the Elysium and humans to set his plans to gain power into motion. The first time I watched this film, however, its problems were more apparent than its story or its tenuous resemblance to Final Fantasy. It suffered from bad animation and special effects, poor writing, and most of all, frantic editing that made the story nearly incoherent. Robots and spaceships exploded like Death Stars. The attempts that characters made at displaying joy, horror, or terror with their plastic faces had more hilarious than successful results. The subtitling was sometimes comically bad, but even if it were flawless, the film had little room to explain itself. It was edited together so chaotically that it lost all sense of time and place. Transitions to move characters from one location to another were missing. Instead, characters traveled an impossible distance, like from a space ship to the middle of a city, in a single shot or disappeared mid-scene, making it seem like they could teleport. Some scenes, particularly battles, seemed to be composed of shots that had been placed in a random, nonsense order. The film often jumped between scenes to suggest that multiple events occurred at the same time or sequentially. Sometimes, however, the scenes placed together couldn’t reasonably happen at either of those times, and the film made no attempt to explain when they occurred or to even provide a transition between them to suggest time passing. This problem was so prevalent that anywhere from a few days to a few years could have passed in the course of the movie. Also on the DVD, I discovered, shockingly, a short “The Making Of” film. In it, the creators showed off their use of motion capture and their attention to continuity, which the film seemed to lack entirely. Someone at some point cared about and showed pride in this hacked together film. Who? What were they trying to achieve, and why did it fail so completely? I looked to the Internet for answers. Unfortunately, all that I found was a tiny Wikipedia article, an incomplete IMDB page, and a small number of reviews, half of which weren’t in English. The official website had become what appeared to be a website for a park. All that anyone seemed to know for certain was that the film was made in South Korea. Even simple plot summaries were wrong half the time. One website claimed that it was a wartime drama that took place in Budapest and was based on a true story. A reviewer claimed that Elysium (2013) was a remake of Elysium (2003), to which it bore no resemblance. Even the official IMDB page claimed that “the story is about the message, only love for humanity can save the earth.” I couldn’t see how anyone could pull that out of the series of images I watched. Even stranger, some user reviews praised Elysium for its superb animation and reasonable, well told story. Excuse me? Had we watched the same movie? As it turned out, we hadn’t. During my search, I found to my delight that the film had been redubbed in English. The only way the film could possibly be worse, and more hilarious, would be to give it a terrible English dub. Naturally, I absolutely had to have it. I bought one of the last remaining copies from the dark corners of Amazon. With actors who clearly didn’t care, obvious and badly improvised lines, and weird dialog that didn’t match the film, the redub was as amazing as expected. Crispin Freeman, a popular voice actor in English dubs of anime, who voices Kronos and Lycon in Elysium, was about the only actor who gave a consistently decent performance. Differences in the script, however, made the story more coherent. Primarily, an added narrator tied together starkly cut together scenes and provided a better sense of time passing. As I continued to watch the two dubs of the film in preparation to review Elysium though, I noticed something else. I was watching the English version of the movie when the protagonist Van made a tasteless joke about bulimia. I’d just watched the Korean version the previous day, but I couldn’t remember Van joking about bulimics in it. More than likely, he’d made a different joke, he spoke about something else, or the subtitles were indistinguishable. I wondered though, so I opened the Korean film and looked for the scene. To my surprise, the part of the scene where Van made the joke didn’t exist. Comparing the length of the two films, I realized that the English dub was thirteen minutes longer than the original film. I proceeded to go through both versions of Elysium and map out the differences between them. While they told basically the same story, they were edited together much differently. The scenes appeared in different orders, the English version had shots and entire scenes that the Korean version didn’t, and the Korean film also had shots that didn’t exist in the English film. While the English adaptation was still a mess, it was overall better paced and better put together than the Korean film. Going to my experience with English dubs of Japanese anime, I knew that sometimes adaptations were also re-edited to add or remove elements in the footage or reorder scenes and shots to tell a different story, but the English adaptation of Elysium contained seemingly brand new content that someone animated and rendered! By this point, I was seriously questioning the DVD that came without a case in that package addressed in Chinese all those years ago. I thought I had the original Korean film, but clearly, more footage existed. As I watched it again, I could see and hear where the scenes were abruptly cut off where they continued in the English version as if someone had butchered the film to make it shorter. If I didn’t have the original film, then what did I have? I again went back to my experience with Japanese anime, specifically bootlegs of anime. Perhaps I had some crazy Chinese import. These ethically questionable, if not illegal, purchases are usually cheap and have Chinese subtitles and poor English subtitles. My supposed Korean copy of Elysium fit this description. Why would bootleggers take the time to re-edit the film, and make it worse, though? They don’t even subtitle properly. I needed more copies of the movie if I wanted to answer these questions. Perhaps I had some early edit of Elysium that mistakenly released to the public, and somewhere out there the actual original Korean film, one even more complete than the English adaptation, existed… Or maybe whoever wanted to redub the movie in another language got a box of footage to edit together. The only DVD of the movie I could find that had a Korean audio option was the German DVD. It claimed to be of the same length as the English version. I also found a Polish adaptation that claimed to be of a different length than the Korean and English versions. I found a French DVD on eBay, too, but I’d already nearly emptied Amazon of its copies. I didn’t want to get too crazy with this terrible movie. The Polish DVD was perfect for any Elysium fan’s shelf and, simultaneously, the most bizarre DVD I’d ever seen. In its beautiful packaging were five Elysium trading cards, words that I never thought I would say let alone use to describe real objects. The DVD had well-designed, interesting menus and included character descriptions and the name of the armor each character pilots, information that wasn’t revealed in the movie. Contrary to its description online, it contained the English version of the film with Polish and English audio options. Things got weird starting with the Polish dub, which featured one guy repeating all the dialog in Polish over the English dub. The DVD also contained descriptions of about 186 random movies, from Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer to Kill Bill, and samples of all the songs from seven CDs that had nothing to do with Elysium. Most of the music was electronica. I could dig that. Anyway, the German DVD proved to be more relevant to my search, but it left me with more questions than answers. “Is the Korean on this DVD actually Korean?” was among them. The DVD, subtitled “Koreas Antwort auf Final Fantasy,” which Google translated to “Korea’s answer to Final Fantasy,” contained the English version of the film with German, English, and Korean audio options and German subtitles. The Korean audio, however, didn’t contain a full length version of the dub on my Korean DVD as I expected. The voice actors were different, and the script was obviously translated from the English dub. Most bothersome of all, the dialog didn’t sound like Korean. I wasn’t super familiar with Korean, but I knew that something was strange. At times, it sounded similar to Spanish and other times it sounded more like Chinese. I asked the Internet, but as of this writing, I still don’t have a definitive answer to what language it is. Early opinions concur; it isn’t Korean. Unlike the twenty plus games and movies that Japan’s Final Fantasy spawned, Korea’s Final Fantasy truly is a final fantasy. Thirteen years after its release, Elysium has been nearly forgotten, leaving strange artifacts behind. Among them is the original Korean film stitched together like Frankenstein’s monster, a “The Making Of” featurette showing the care that went into creating it, thirteen minutes of previously unseen footage that appeared in the English dub without explanation, and a German DVD with a “Koreanisch” audio option that doesn’t sound Korean. Someone saw enough potential in the original film to not only redub it but also extensively re-edit it. Similarly, someone saw enough potential in the mediocre English redub to translate it into other languages and package it in nicely crafted DVDs. These adaptations, however, buried the original film and left a trail questions, “What went wrong?” being the biggest among them. While these DVDs remain enigmatic mysteries, I continue on my search for answers. --- 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
  17. 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?
  18. 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
  19. 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?
  20. 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
  21. 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.
  22. 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
  23. 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?
  24. 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
  25. 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.
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