Sunday, February 28, 2010

COUNTDOWN: Final Fantasy XIII, Day Nine


The most underappreciated Final Fantasy in the entire series is Final Fantasy IX. Final Fantasy IX also happens to be one of my all-time personal favorites. Final Fantasy IX was released at a bad time. Just three months after the release of the Playstation 2 in Japan, Final Fantasy IX was ignored by many due to Sony’s newest game console and the release of Final Fantasy X. All I have to say about that is that those people were huge idiots. I am also an idiot because it took me a year to play this game, just because I didn’t really like the front cover. I think it’s a really cool cover now, but something just really bothered me about it when I was little… probably the fact that Garnet is wearing an orange jumpsuit… or something like that.

Final Fantasy IX is the personal favorite of Hironobu Sakaguchi, the founder of the Final Fantasy series. For awhile it was my favorite too. But my favorite Final Fantasy is constantly changing. (It’s hard to pick one.) The story to Final Fantasy IX closely resembles the story to the original Final Fantasy, only Final Fantasy IX is way better than the original Final Fantasy… just saying.

The story is about a boy named Zidane… I really don’t know where they get these names. Zidane is a rather unique character in the Final Fantasy series. The first thing you’re probably going to notice about him is that he has a tail. Yeah, and he’s a real big ladies man even though he’s like four feet tall. I like to imagine that he’s about seventeen or eighteen, but the game never tells you. I actually like Zidane a lot. He’s a good protagonist, and he reminds me of myself… not really.

Anyways, Zidane is part of a circus troupe known as Tantalus, the goal of Tantalus is to entertain, and kidnap the “babe-alicious” princess Garnet. The purpose of this crime is to prevent the princess from being murdered by her own mother. I know that this is all hard to take in, but the Queen, who looks like a cow, is literally insane, and wants to harvest out of her “daughter” these magical tools that allow you to summon “Eidolons,” also known as sacred spirits; kind of similar to the Aeons in Final Fantasy X.

Anyways, the story to Final Fantasy IX is pretty much about Zidane trying to find out who he really is, while he is trying to get Garnet to fall in love with him, while he is trying to save the world from a cross-dresser. It’s too bad that Garnet is a little stubborn when it comes to loving. (If you know what I mean.) Zidane tries everything to make Princess Garnet fall in love with him. He tries poetry, athletic skills, pick-up lines, even grabbing her butt. Yeah, he’s a bit of a moron, but in the end… oh wait-- I can’t spoil the ending.

Princess Garnet.

The plot to Final Fantasy IX is a little different than the other Final Fantasy’s in the fact that it resembles the original games from the 1980’s and the early 1990’s. It’s almost like the game is a recap of the six original games; and for that reason a lot of new comers to the series didn’t, and still don’t appreciate Final Fantasy IX for what it really is. It’s a heart-felt game that gives out a lot of laughs and is surprisingly moving. People don’t seem to understand that video games can be just as emotionally moving as movies. Sometimes, in my opinion, they can be even more moving than movies since you actually interact with them. They are called VIDEO GAMES, so why do people have trouble believing that they’re like movies and videos?

I think I just got way off topic, but I’m trying to make a point. A lot of people have this sick and perverted idea that video games are just for little kids, and that every game is like the old Mario Bros. Well, that would be fun, but it’s not true. The focus of the Final Fantasy series has been from the very beginning to create a good story. That’s the reason I play these games. It’s not for the killing, or for whatever reason people like to play games like Halo; I play Final Fantasy for the stories and the unique characters that each game contains. They are mature, cinematic stories that aren’t appreciated by people because they are video games instead of movies.

Final Fantasy IX has one of the best casts of characters, and one of the most moving and sad plots that I have ever come across. Although the game does offer a lot of comic relief, it gives off strong messages of humanity and how we treat each other. The game gives a powerful message on life and death and nature. I respect that Sakaguchi used a video game to give a message to the world on how he feels. I just find it sad that hardly anyone has heard it.

Before we end this post I just want to talk about the villain really quick. Take a look at him. (Pictured left.) What the crap? Why does he dress that way? Is he gay? Was it really necessary to put him into a man thong? What’s up with his hair? More importantly, what were they thinking while designing him? They’ve got to be on drugs to come up with this stuff. To make him even weirder, he can turn into a dragon… and his name is Kuja. (Koo-jah. Not Kuh-jaw.) Yeah, isn’t that weird? Anyways, I think I’ve said enough. I feel like I hardly talked enough about Final Fantasy IX, since it is the most underappreciated game in the series, but who reads this anyways?

Only nine more days (counting today) until the release of Final Fantasy XIII, and we’re starting to get close to our half way point in our countdown to Final Fantasy XIII. Now that it’s become so close, I’m not really sure on how I feel. Last night as I was having trouble sleeping, I thought about what it would be like if the game sucked. What would I do with myself?

Anyways, tomorrow we’ll talk about the only Final Fantasy, where the entire purpose was to create a full length love story… meaning, this is the longest Final Fantasy by far… it’s also the corniest one too. But we love corny, right?

To advertise Final Fantasy IX, Square Enix (At the time Square Soft) made a deal with Coca-Cola to make Final Fantasy/Coca-Cola commercials. These are extremely rare and hard to find, but thanks to Youtube, I can show you people one of them, enjoy.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

COUNTDOWN: Final Fantasy XIII, Day Ten


With Final Fantasy IX being put into the works on the Playstation, the original sequel to VIII was pushed all the way to the Playstation 2. In an attempt to take full advantage of the new technology that was being developed Square-Enix (at the time Squaresoft) spent thirty two million dollars on their next project. They assembled over one hundred artists, writers and programmers, making their team one of the biggest to ever work on a video game.

The earlier Final Fantasy games were more focused on a European style of topography, architecture. Final Fantasy VII and VIII brought into new technology and Japanese culture into the games. While creating the newest world for the Final Fantasy series, Square found their influence in the islands of south east Asia; specifically near the regions of Thailand, and the southern pacific. Water would be the key theme to the magnificent world of Spira; a sun-drenched paradise, that held beauty the world had never seen before. Final Fantasy X was released on July 19th 2001. It came to United States just in time to become a Christmas gift.

The story to Final Fantasy X began and ended in Zanarkand, a tropical metropolis, unaware of its unavoidable destruction. The protagonist, Tidus, a professional Blitzball athlete, was barely saved from the city's massacre by his mentor, Auron. Tidus later learned that he had been warped a thousand years into the future by a massive whale-like monster known as "Sin," a creature that punished the people of Spira when they grew too wicked.

The games prophetic journey's aim was to guide and protect the summoner, Yuna. A caller of sacred spirits of the dead called, Aeons, whose power came from human souls known as "fayth." The multiple guardians of the summoner Yuna included, Wakka, a beach bound Blitzball captain; Kimahria, a Ronso outcast of few words; Lulu, an unforgiving black mage; and Rikku, a spunky teenage thief. The purpose of the summoner was to abolish Sin by using the final summoning. But Sin had and would reappear time and time again, forcing Tidus and his crew to try and find a way to abolish Sin once and for all.

The cast of characters in Final Fantasy X.

Like everything else in this world, Final Fantasy X was adored by some and hated by others. Fans praised the outstanding story and graphics, but complained about some aspects of the gameplay and sometimes unbearable voice-over performances. But whether they loved it, or hated the game, very few people missed out on Final Fantasy X. The game sold almost two million units in just four days. The game would eventually sell more than double that amount. It's among the top twenty best selling console games of all time, and is also considered by many, to be one of the best games ever created.

My personal feelings about X are rather... intense. I got Final Fantasy X as a wee-child, and spent an embarrassing amount of time playing when I was young. Almost ten years later, I still play the game, and I haven't gotten sick of it. For me, Final Fantasy X is the greatest game ever made. If not, then it's tied with Final Fantasy VII. Never has a game crafted such a deep story, with characters that can actually be connected with. The emotion of the game is so strong, that it has been known to move people to tears. (Myself not included.) It has been a part of my family's pass time for years, and I doubt that that will ever change.

The famous "love" scene from Final Fantasy X.

My sister Brittany, and I are total Final Fantasy X junkies. Brittany is even in love with some of the characters. And I when I say that she is in love with them, I literally mean that she is in love with them. The character Auron, is Brittany's Edward.

Brittany is in love with Auron... I don't know why.

In conclusion, I just want to say that I love this game. It never gets old, and continues to amaze me. The story is probably the most original that I have ever seen... by the way, Avatar copied Final Fantasy... Just saying. The ending was a rip off of Final Fantasy VII. I love Final Fantasy X. There was supposed to be a movie but it failed. Which isn't a surprise. The voice acting for me, wasn't a problem. Even though it featured some hiccups, it for the most part, was fantastic... Hopefully XIII won't suck it up.

Sorry that this post wasn't too good. It turns that Final Fantasy X is really hard to talk about...

We're not even near or half way point in our countdown to Final Fantasy XIII. Only ten days remain. (Counting today) Tomorrow we'll go back to the roots of the Final Fantasy series, as we talk about the most underplayed game the series has ever seen.

Don't expect to see me much after March 9th.

I'm not putting a trailer to X, because they all suck. See you tomorrow!

Friday, February 26, 2010

COUNTDOWN: Final Fantasy XIII, Day Eleven


Back in 1992 Square Enix began to experiment with the idea of an online Final Fantasy. With the growing popularity of other online games, Square had decided that they were going to give the Final Fantasy series a new look. The project would take ten years to complete.

Final Fantasy XI (Eleven) was released in Japan in 2002, it didn't reach America until 2004. Before we continue, I'm going to be completely honest. Final Fantasy XI is the only game in the ENTIRE series that I have not played. Yes, I know this is almost like a mid-life crisis to learn, but it has to be said. The main reason I've never played the game is because of money. Final Fantasy XI came out to be $100.00 in America. Not to mention that at the end of every month you were required to pay a monthly fee. Or so I've been told. So, I've never played XI, and probably never will. But I don't care.

So, now that I've told everyone my deepest darkest secret, I think that you should all know that despite me never playing this game, it's still pretty awesome... or so I've been told. The game followed the Final Fantasy tradition better than Final Fantasy XII did, so fans around the world were incredibly pleased and satisfied. It's the second highest rated online game, next to World of Warcraft. (You have to be a REAL nerd to play that. I'm only a poser.)

Anyways, I really can't say much about the game since I've never played it. So yeah, I'm done. I know that this post was... terrible, but that's what happens when you don't know anything about what you're blogging. So it really isn't my fault... or is it? I dunno... I'm done now.

In conclusion, I'd just like to point out that we're still at the peak of our countdown to Final Fantasy XIII. Only eleven more days (counting today) remain. Tomorrow we'll start talking about the classic Final Fantasy's. Be excited... or afraid... or both.

I wish I had a chance to play XI because I hear good things about it... I like Final Fantasy... yeah.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

COUNTDOWN: Final Fantasy XIII, Day Twelve


The last mainstream Final Fantasy to be released in 2006, Final Fantasy XII (Twelve) is one of the most controversial games in the entire series. For whatever reason, whether it be the graphics, the music, or the storyline, people didn't like Final Fantasy XII. The main reason is probably because it was the first Final Fantasy to be made without Hironobu Sakaguchi, the founder of the Final Fantasy series. (He went to work with Microsoft.) Without Sakaguchi's ray of light, most people think that the Final Fantasy series has gone down and is currently at the very bottom of hell... Why? What would make someone think something like that?

Maybe it's with the characters... no... let us narrow down the possibilities even more. Maybe people don't like the main character, Vaan. Why? Well, take a look to the left and see for yourself. Not only does he dress weirder than anything else that you have seen, but he has a girl's face. (It's true!)

When Final Fantasy XII first came out, people everywhere were freaking out because of how the protagonist looked. Personally for me, it's not too much of a problem. I just don't really like Vaan all that much because he's not a very original character. Where's his shirt? Why does he do his hair like that? What's wrong with his pants? And is he supposed to be eating an apple in the picture? Then why is it shaped like a star? Those may be ridiculous things to complain about, but that's literally what fans were saying when the game first came out. It's like they were looking for the smallest things to whine about.

Becoming a little more serious, the main problem that the fans had with Final Fantasy XII wasn't Vaan, or the apple shaped star; it was the storyline. Final Fantasy is famous for it's elaborately long and original stories. Millions of people across the globe wait years just to find out what the plot to the next Final Fantasy will be. So when they found out that Final Fantasy XII is pretty m about politics and war, they were all upset. Why? I don't know... maybe because we're nerds.

In the plot to Final Fantasy XII, war is on the horizon. Seeking to strengthen its base of power, the great Archadian Empire has been invading and subjugating its neighboring kingdoms, one by one. The small kingdom of Dalmasca was one of its victims. When the occupying Archadian forces established a new consul in Dalmasca's royal city of Rabanastre, the attention of Vaan, an urchin living on the streets, was caught.

This picture really has nothing to do with what I'm talking about. I just think its a cool part of the game.

To Vaan, the Empire is an enemy whom he hates for the murder of his brother--his last surviving family member. Soon Vaan hatches a plan to sneak into the castle which is housing the new consul. But before he has the chance to do so, Vaan gets far more that he bargained for; a resistance movement of some former Dalmascan soldiers rising up against the Archadian Empire launching an assault on the castle! Amid the ensuing confusion that engulfed the castle, Vaan saw something he could scarcely believe.

There, among the members of the new resistance, was the figure of the sole remaining heir to the Dalmascan throne, Princess Ashe, who had been notified to the people to be dead after the assassination of her husband. Our story follows Vaan, Ashe and his friends, Penelo, the sky pirate Balthier, his partner Fran and many more through the magical world of Ivalice. (I stole this synapsis from IGN.)

Princess Ashe.

Doesn't that plot sound interesting? Fans didn't think so. The fact that half of the game is about politics and such made fans uninterested. Also, one of the bad guys looks like Darth Vader... I thought it was a fascinating story, but it's not like my opinion matters... Anyways! another problem that a lot of the fans had with Final Fantasy XII was the gameplay. (How you play the game.)

In previous Final Fantasy's games, when you fought in battles, time would freeze and you could select your attacks. You and the enemy would take turns. Much like in a game of chess. But in Final Fantasy XII, they threw that idea out of the window and made it so that everything happens in real time. Meaning that the enemy would always be attacking you, and you had to attack faster. Whoever was faster, and stronger would win the fight. I don't know why, but this made fans scream their heads off. It's just a game. Who cares? They do. Why? Because we're nerds.

So, the fans hated the story, AND how you play the game. What else is there to complain about? You would think that there would be nothing left to complain about. Well, to those nerds out there, there was. What was it? The music. For every single Final Fantasy Nobuo Uematsu composed the soundtrack. But in 2002 he left Square-Enix, the company that makes Final Fantasy, and joined Microsoft to write music with Sakaguchi. To replace him they hired Hitoshi Sakimoto for musical composure. Fans all around the world dropped nuclear bombs. (The "F" word.) Even though Sakimoto writes an amazing score, I'll admit, Uematsu does a way better job. But it's really better than nothing, and the classic Final Fantasy theme is still in the game, so who cares? They do. Why? Because we're nerds.

I personally enjoyed Final Fantasy XII. I thought it was wonderfully original. (Even if it looks like Star Wars.) The plot may have been a little weird, but it didn't matter. The gameplay although new, was still solid, and I liked the music so much that I have the soundtrack. (I know... I am a nerd.) The voice acting was also WAY better in Final Fantasy XII. Hopefully XIII won't suck it up. Final Fantasy XII still maintained the classic Final Fantasy feel, and for me it ranks as one of the best of the series.

Our Thirteen day long countdown is just beginning as we continue to go through all of the Final Fantasy's. Only twelve days until XIII is finally here, and I'm freaking out. Tomorrow, we'll talk about the only Final Fantasy on the Xbox and PS2, AND PC. (Sorry Mac users.)

Until then, Good Night! Enjoy this trailer of Final Fantasy XII. Sorry it isn't the best quality. This is the only one I could find.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

COUNTDOWN: Final Fantasy XIII, Day Thirteen


It's finally coming. After a grueling eight year wait Final Fantasy XIII will finally be here. This is a game I've been waiting for for so long that it's hard to believe that it's almost here. In order to prepare for Final Fantasy XIII, I'm going to be spending the next thirteen days counting down to the newest installment to my favorite series.

I LOVE Final Fantasy. I have a very unhealthy obsession with the series. I'll proudly admit it too. I could play it all day and have no guilt. (Sad, I know.) I normally don't play video games, but Final Fantasy is the exception... so is Rock Band.

Everyday I will be talking about the Final Fantasy that relates to the number of days left for the countdown. (Ten days = Final Fantasy X.) If you don't care to read about this, then I respect that. Just know that I'm going to spend the next thirteen days writing about nothing else but Final Fantasy. If you know nothing about Final Fantasy, then consider this an opportunity to learn a lot of Brandon's Useless Knowledge!

So, since XIII isn't out yet, we'll just not talk about anything today. (I know nothing about XIII so there is nothing to talk about.) We'll start the countdown tomorrow with the controversial Final Fantasy XII tomorrow. To make up for this crappy post, enjoy a Final Fantasy XIII trailer. I think the voice acting is bad in this trailer... I hope it isn't like that in the full game. Enjoy!

Until then, Good-Bye. I love all of you.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Greatest Film Ever Made

I want to take a special moment to talk about my favorite movie of all time. If you know me, then you should know that I am a huge Lord of the Rings junkie. Therefore you're probably going to think that my favorite film of all time is The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. (Since I say that it is all the time...)

Well guess what?!

You are sadly mistaken... (Suckers.)

Chances are that you've never seen or have even heard of my favorite film of all time. So no, it is not Avatar. Avatar was amazing, but no where near as good as my favorite film. My favorite film in my opinion, is the greatest film ever made. It is a film that moves you and leaves you breathless. The first time I watched the film, it was the best movie experience I have ever had. Which begs the question:

What film is it?

Isn't that an awesome poster? I think so. Seven Samurai is one of the most influential and copied films of all time. When it was released in 1954, people around the world had never seen anything like this film before. The characters are all incredibly deep, and three dimensional. The plot, although simple manages to be so profound, that it actually drains your energy. The film can be described in one word: Epic... or awesome... or perfect. Pick your poison.

The plot is about a small farming village that suffers each year from a group of jerk bandits that like to come and pillage, rape and murder the village and the inhabitants living in it. As the next harvest approaches, the poor farming peasant farmers become rather desperate for some help. In an attempt to save their women and families and of course, food, the peasants go into the city to hire seven samurai to protect the village, and their lives.
The Seven Samurai... I know there are only six of them pictured.

I would write more about the plot, but I think that it explains itself from there on. If the plot of the film sounds strangely familiar to you, then let me explain why. Kids, get ready for: Brandon's Useless Knowledge!

In 1960, Seven samurai was remade as the popular western classic, The Magnificent Seven.

Does that title ring any bells? Most people have heard of this film. Most people love it too. The sad part is that they don't realize that they're missing out on the original (and by far better) movie!

I liked the Magnificent Seven... sort of. It failed to capture the same emotional feelings that Seven Samurai created, and I know that it's not the same film, but still. You would think a remake of the greatest film of all time would be a little more... good. Seven Samurai was intended to be a Japanese western, so a western remake was predictable.

Last I checked, Seven Samurai is up for another remake. Only the Chinese are going to be filming the film, and George Clooney is supposed to star in it. (True fact!) However, I haven't really heard anything new on this project... I hope that it never is made since George Clooney isn't Japanese... or Asian at all. Why would Chinese make a Japanese film? ... moving on...

Seven Samurai is a film that changed movies forever. In the trailer they said that film would contain:

"Thrilling scenes that will live in movie history forever."

That pretty much describes Seven Samurai perfectly. The film has everything that a good movie needs: Romance, comedy, and a lot of drama. The film also has Toshiro Mifune, who in my opinion, is the greatest actor ever. (Pictured left.) Most people will argue that it is Marlon Brando or Jimmy Stewart. But for me, it is Toshiro Mifune.

Everyone should see Seven Samurai. It is directed by Akira Kurosawa, who is the greatest director of all time. (Don't argue! Just accept.) It has Toshiro Mifune, who is AMAZING, and it is the best drama ever made.

Gotta love cinema. If you are a true movie lover, you'll have seen Seven Samurai.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Where The Streets Have No Name

If you haven't heard the song "Where The Streets Have No Name" by U2, then you've probably been living under a rock. (Sorry if that was mean.)

The song has been named one of the best songs ever written multiple times, and the lyrics to the song deliver a powerful message about how people live. I love this song, especially when it is played live. I could listen to it over and over.

No I have not seen U2 live... yet. But I listen to this version of the song at least once a day. This performance of the song is my personal favorite. Bono's voice gives me chills every time I listen to him. The introduction to this performance of the song is amazing. Tell me what you think of it.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Some Fun Stuff

So it has been a while since I last updated my blog. The reason? I'm a lazy person! I apologize to the few people that actually read this blog. (You probably didn't notice my lack of updating...)

Anyways, let's talk about some of the new things that have happened in my life. I am currently sick. Which is about as fun as accidentally cutting your finger while peeling some potatoes. So I figured I have nothing else to do but write on my blog.

A few weeks ago I had the amazing opportunity to meet Anne Bogart. Anne Bogart is one of the greatest directors in theater. She developed a theory of perspective in acting. I got to watch her teach a Workshop, which was one of the amazing things I have ever witnessed. After the Workshop I got to meet her, shake her hand, I called her Anne, she asked me my name, I told her, and then we got a picture taken. (Pictured below.)

I got to meet Anne Bogart.... akldjhfhkljgklsy6346tkjasdf (Spasm.)

Last week I also got to attend the funeral for the crossing guard of my elementary school. He was a good friend of mine, and it was a very sad day. I promised him that I'd go fly fishing with him when I was little, but we never did go. So I'm looking forward to fishing with my crossing guard, Bruce, in Heaven.

I also saw The Lovely Bones with my brother Chris in theaters. This is a film that EVERYONE should see. Especially parents. I think it's important that everyone is reminded that this kind of stuff really happens. If you don't know what The Lovely Bones is about, then be sure to check out my review that is coming soon... when I actually get around to writing it.

Anyways, sorry that this entry was kind of lame and really short. I'm really not feeling so hot right now, so I think I'm done for now. I'll write a lot more next time. Just remember everyone... I don't know what I was going to say. I'm done.