final fantasy

Final Fantasy XIII

First Hour Review

Final Fantasy 13 ps3 CoverI’ve played every single numbered Final Fantasy game up through XII, so playing the thirteenth entry was inevitable. But from the guy who bought Final Fantasy VIII, IX, XI, and XII on release days, finally getting around to XIII two years after release is a bit odd. But from a combination of some bad press and plenty of other games to play, I didn’t mind.

But here we are with the first hour of Final Fantasy XIII. I’ve also reviewed VII and VIII’s first hour previously, and had mixed success, though I can solidly point to the opening of Final Fantasy VII’s to be one of the highlights in the JRPG genre. Whether we can agree or not on the rest of game is irrelevant, but it sure does kick off with a bang.

And as you’ll see, Final Fantasy XIII also kicks off with a bang, but can it keep that momentum? Or is there something deeper required for a successful first hour? We’re about to find out.

Final Fantasy VIII - Original Sountrack

Soundtrack Review

Final Fantasy 8 Original Soundtrack CoverRemember the first time you heard the Super Mario Bros. theme? Or The Legend of Zelda overworld song? They are classic bits of music that have been replayed and remixed hundreds of times. Some games would undoubtedly not stand out as much in the nostalgic corner of our mind without their tunes to accompany them.

A focus on quality game soundtracks seems to be on the rise, with indie titles Bastion and Jamestown both featuring a robust cache of songs that not only sound great while playing the game, but seem appropriate to listen to any other time of the day. There was a time at the end of the SNES ere and throughout the PS1 lifetime that video game soundtracks were huge. Through a combination of audio CDs becoming cheap to buy and MIDI files even cheaper to trade, games like Chrono Trigger, Donkey Kong Country, and Final Fantasy VI laid the groundwork for game music relevance.

Which brings us to Squaresoft's 1999 JRPG, Final Fantasy VIII. Nobuo Uematsu, longtime Final Fantasy composer, spent years writing music for the robust but limiting NES and SNES consoles before finally chewing his teeth on CD audio with the PS1. But Final Fantasy VII, while featuring a quality soundtrack, turned out to be merely preperation for Final Fantasy VIII. Here's my review of its Original Soundtrack.

Top 10 Video Game Commercials of All Time

Lists

Mercenaries 2 oh no you DidntWe've all grown up among an onslaught of advertisements. It is almost impossible to look anywhere in a semi-urban place and not see some sort of ad. Television has perhaps been their most successful medium, and video games have been advertising on the same tube we play them on for as long as they have been around.

So to celebrate the hundreds of video game ads, we present the Top 10 Video Game Commercials of All Time. This is the definitive list, carefully developed by our writers and then culled down by Greg and Nate. Blood was shed and tears were wept as we narrowed our "short list" of 25 ads down to just these 10. Without intention, we managed to select a set of ads that not only cover over 20 years of gaming from Nintendo, Sega, Sony, and the PC, but a wide variety of types of ads, from live action re-enactments to comedy to musicals.

This is the first official "list" we've ever posted, and we promise more in the future. They may seem easy to make, but we spent hours putting this together and had a ton of fun doing it.

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers

Full Review

Final Fantasy Crystal Bearers Cover"Some of this game is fun...is that enough for me to keep playing?"

Ever had that feeling? Maybe you trudged through an RPG with a terrible battle system just because you liked a few of the characters. Perhaps you put up with a broken sports game just because the presentation was TV-true. Or maybe you played any of the open-world Spider-Man games recently, swinging joyously through the boxy Manhattan skyline, full of texture pop-in and framerate dips.

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers is kind of like that. Except where the fun elements of these previous examples are woven into the overall progression of the game, FFCCTCB never actually shines the spotlight on its best feature throughout the otherwise lackluster adventure, leaving it merely as a side attraction.

I was hoping the game would improve after its first hour, and it did...but was it too little, too late?

2010 Game of the Year Awards *updated*

Game of the Year Awards

Game of the YearAnnouncing the 2010 Game of the Year Awards from the First Hour! We published over 60 full reviews this year, tripling our output from last year. Of course, our writing staff has grown quite a bit also. I personally beat 30 games, undoubtedly making 2010 my most productive video gaming year ever. We also played over 55 first hours, keeping up a steady pace of one a week. We have not been lacking for great games or content this year.

This isn't your normal Game of the Year awards, we cover everything from older game of the year to worst first hour, so keep scrolling all the way to the bottom! If anything, our game of the year picks are the least interesting decisions. The writers here also don't vote on the categories, instead, everyone is welcome to submit their picks as their own definitive decision.

2010 Prediction Results

Editorial

god of war 3 CoverOn the first of the year, the writers here presented their predictions for 2010 in the video game industry. It was our first attempt at anything like this, and since we're primarily gamers first, writers second, and industry experts in a distant last, this was definitely more of an exercise in fun forecasting than put-your-money-down-now predictions.

Well, we can't let bad predictions go forgotten and made fun of, so here we are again. We'll quickly cover what went randomly right and what went horribly wrong, but then we'll be back again on Friday for our fourth annual Game of the Year Awards.

Games I am Thankful For

Blog Post

Super Smash Bros Melee CoverIt's Thanksgiving in the U.S., and that means we take a look at our lives and consider the things we are thankful for. Family, food, and shelter immediately spring to mind when surrounded by them on this day, and then we think about friends and the time we spend together. And as gamers, nothing bring friends together better than a few good multiplayer video games.

I'd like to take a quick moment to talk about some of my favorite multiplayer games over the years and how they brought my friends together on a Friday night better than anything else.

Hope you're having a great holiday, be safe!

Final Fantasy XIV Beta Impressions

Blog Post

Ff14 CoverWithout question, Final Fantasy XI deviated strongly from MMO traditions and norms.  In doing so, it managed to greatly polarize the community.  By moving at a slow, calculated pace throughout (even for an MMO) and requiring players to rely on others to accomplish the most simple goals, many players were forever turned off, including Greg and myself.  Past level 15, players required a party to do any sort of leveling.  Many damage-dealing classes were simply not wanted and sat in the main city for hours until they could find a group, while tanks, healer and support classes were welcomed into parties within seconds.  The economy was absolutely broken, with incredible inflation stemming from gil selling and the gap between rich and poor players.  Farming for money (outside of instanced colliseum-style fights) consisted of sitting at rare spawn locations for hours along with the other farmers and bots, just hoping that you manage to attack the monster before anyone else and then praying that it would drop what you wanted.  Simply put, the game had a lot of glaring problems that pushed people away.

Years after its original Japanese and subsequent North American release, FFXI began changing significantly, modifying nearly everything and adding features to appear more tempting to the average gamer, especially once under the shadow of MMORPG behemoth World of Warcraft.  FFXI has always enjoyed a degree of success, as a profitable long-running MMO with a stable user base.  However, it has not gained significant market share either.  By hearing customer feedback for the past few years as well as observing current MMO trends, Square-Enix is surely hoping that they'll be able to grab more of that growing market with Final Fantasy XIV.  But how much have things really changed?  Have they fixed the basic and more complicated issues that people had with XI?  I was genuinely curious and tried out the beta for just this reason.  Here's what I've found...

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers

First Hour Review

Final Fantasy Crystal Bearers CoverIt's almost expected these days that a Final Fantasy game will be announced long before it ever hits store shelves. 2010's Final Fantasy XIII was first made public nearly four years before anybody outside of Japan got their hands on the final discs, and its companion titles revealed the same day aren't even locked for release yet. I know hype builds over time, but when a game passes the four year mark since announcement, I tend to forget about it completely.

Square Enix's teasing ways aren't exclusive to the main HD-platform Final Fantasy games either, as the absurdly-titled Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers was let out of the bag a year before its HD cousins, but saw release only months prior. There were multiple rumors of cancellation, rumblings of drastic changes mid-development, and over two-thousand days between announcement and release, but FFCC:TCB did eventually see the light of day.

I remember the first teaser footage and a full trailer released some time later, which featured the protagonist in some pretty exciting situations and plenty of lighthearted flair. As time went on, I forgot about the title completely when it saw release last Christmas, but picked it up on the cheap a few seasons after its launch. Did all those years in the oven leave Crystal Bearers well-done or burnt to a crisp?

My JRPG Localization Wishlist

Blog Post

Tales of Graces CoverFor years, Japan was the dominating force in the games industry. Ever since Nintendo blasted onto the scene in the eighties, it's always been my opinion that the developers in the land of the rising sun have had the edge on everyone else. The Atari age has long since given way to names like Nintendo, Sega, Sony, Capcom, Konami, Square, and so many others. If I made a list of my hundred favorite games, I'd be willing to bet that seventy or more of them come from Japan.

These days, however, the tide has shifted. The worldwide yearning for platformers and action games and traditional RPGs has been eclipsed by the first person shooter and sports game markets, two genres that Japanese developers are woefully unfamiliar with. Only the top games in each genre outside of Halo clones and Madden wannabes can make bank anymore, and developers are starting to play it safe with what they bring to the table. One genre affected by this trend is the JRPG, which has always had a focus in Japan, but also branched out to the world stage more often than not. These days, however, it seems Japan's favorite genre seems to be transforming more and more into Japan's shyest genre, rarely coming out to say hi to the rest of us.

In a rather shocking revelation, I've actually managed to find a hearty list of JRPGs that I pine for. I've never been the genre's biggest supporter, which doesn't surprise me in retrospect considering I never owned a SNES, Playstation, or Playstation 2 during their primes. However, I hereby pledge to buy any of the following games that come to America. I said the same thing about Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, thinking it would have no chance of arriving; I made good on my promise, bought TvC: Ultimate All Stars, and loved it. So it's on you now, localization teams. Make it happen.

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