Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Movies, Movies, Movies!

I feel like not being serious for once in my life. Since I'm in a really good mood, I want to talk about some movies that put me into a really good mood. I love movies. Movies are awesome. I think everyone loves movies. Even people who haven't seen movies love movies. They're just something that you have to love, like ice cream.

Apparently, I spend too much time on my blog talking about movies... so this will be the last one for a while. So... take that!

So in this next post of my rather ridiculous and pathetic blog, I'm going to talk about some movies that I absolutely love. If you haven't seen them, be sure to visit Blockbuster or order them on Netflix. You won't be disappointed, I promise. I have good taste.

I know! I already did an entire post dedicated to Seven Samurai... It's just so good! There has been an increasingly growing popularity lately at Provo High with Seven Samurai. It seems that everyone in my drama class has either become desperate to see the film, or they have become obsessed with it after watching this film.

If you didn't read my Seven Samurai post than I would recommend that you do so. I talk a little more about the film in it. I would post a link to the post, but I'm computer stupid and don't know how. So, I'll just say this: Seven Samurai is the definition of quality film making. Watch it. It is also my all time favorite movie.

Since I am a loser, I did not have the privilege to watch Charlie Chaplin's film, "Modern Times" until I was in the Survey of Cinema class at Provo High. I recommend that everyone takes this class. You get to watch a lot of really cool movies, including Modern Times.

Modern Times might be the funniest Chaplin film ever made. I've seen a lot of Chaplin films, but no other film from him has made me laugh as hard as this film. The laughs never stop too; and Charlie Chaplin sings a song in French... sort of. What more do you need? Romance? Modern Times features a touching romantic story about his character, The Tramp, and a lovely woman that he meets on the streets. I highly recommend that you watch this film. Anyone can enjoy it, and it is FUNNY!

If it weren't for the fact that Return of the King was released in 2003, then I think that Big Fish should have won the Best Picture award that year. If you haven't seen Big Fish, then you are missing out on one of the strangest love stories ever told. Think of Benjamin Button but done by Tim Burton. I think that says enough.

As we've come to expect with Tim Burton, the visuals are absolutely amazing. The story is touching and romantic, and the film has an interesting message on life. This is a definite must see. BUT! I must warn you, if you don't like weird movies... or Tim Burton movies, then you probably won't like Big Fish... but you should still watch it because it's a masterpiece, and it makes me happy. So watch it... now. For several years, I considered this to be Tim Burton's absolute best, but I've decided that the next movie is.

Ever since Edward Scissorhands, Johnny Depp and Tim Burton have started working together in countless films. It also feels like Johnny Depp begins to look more and more freaky. But maybe that's just me.

Edward Scissorhands is a fairytale set in the 1980's in a perfect suburban world. Everything is normal... a little too normal. Everything is so normal that it's well, creepy. So when someone who is different like Edward shows up, things begin to quickly fall apart. The story ultimately is a story on why it snows, but it goes much deeper than that. Edward Scissorhands is a film that displays beautifully the traits and characteristics that make us human; it has a message on how we treat each other, and the musical score is beautiful. Edward Scissorhands is a work of art. In my opinion, and many others, it is Tim Burton's best film. It may very well be on my top ten movies of all time. I absolutely adore this film.

Definitely on my top ten movies. To Kill A Mockingbird is one of the most powerful movies ever made. Of all the movies that I say convey a strong message on how we treat each other, I could arguably say that To Kill A Mocking Bird pulls this off better than any other movie I've seen.

To Kill A Mockingbird is a powerful movie about a little girl who is growing up in a small town that is slowly being torn a part by a controversial trial case. The sad part is that her father is the lawyer in the case, and she has no idea what is happening in the town. To Kill A Mockingbird is one of the few movies that can make me cry. If a movie makes me cry, it is automatically one of the best films I have ever seen. If you haven't seen To Kill A Mockingbird, shame on you.


Forget the idea that animated films are for kids. Hayao Miyazaki proves that animated films are for everyone. Every single one of his films is a fantastic work of art. The three displayed above are my personal favorites from him, but people should watch all of his movies. They are not only fantastic to look at, but they are highly entertaining. Princess Mononoke is on Roger Ebert's Top 10 Movies, and has been called "The Star Wars of animated features." This is all pretty much true.

Miyazaki movies are cute, violent, and romantic. When was the last time you went to an animated movie and watched someone have their head cut off? If you answered never, then you haven't seen a Miyazaki movie. Watch these movies: Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle, Naussacai: Of the Valley of the Wind, and Ponyo. They are amazing. But be sure that you watch all of them in Japanese. Save for Spirited Away, they're terrible in English.

Boondock Saints? What's that? Boondock Saints is amazing; that's what it is.

After a freak accident with members of the Russian Mafia, two fraternal Irish brothers begin the belief that God has called them to rid the world of all evil; thus they begin to slowly kill off members of the Mafia and other criminals in Boston. Meanwhile, the top FBI agent in Boston is vigorously tracking them down. But as he tracks them he begins to question his faith, and can't decide whether what they are doing is good or evil, and whether he should capture them or help them.

Boondock Saints is not only hilarious, but it has a perfect mixture of drama. The film is one of my absolute favorites; The content to the film is rather strong though. Definitely not for the faint of heart.

For some strange reason, people always seem to laugh when I tell them what The Shawshank Redemption is about. It's about a man that digs himself out of prison with a tiny hammer... I fail to see what's so funny, because The Shawshank Redemption is anything but funny.

I would say that this is the most powerful movie ever made. Why do I say that? Because The Shawshank Redemption is the only movie that really makes me cry. After having seen the film countless times, I still get teary eyed every time I watch it. The level of emotion in this film is almost unmatched by any other film out there. This film is so powerful in the message that it conveys. Just as the poster and the title of the film suggest, it is a movie about Hope and healing.

The entire film revolves around Hope and Redemption how they are beautiful things. The story centers on the inmates of a prison as they try to find Redemption for the sins they have committed.

I believe that The Shawshank Redemption is one of the most beautiful movies ever made. Definitely on my top three movies of all time. The Shawshank Redemption has been called countless times "The Greatest Movie Ever Made." That's why it's held the number one spot on Imdb for so many years. I find this kind of funny, since it wasn't really appreciated when it first came out.

This film is not only Tim Robbins' and Morgan Freeman's best movie, but it also has the greatest ending to a movie ever. I don't think I can do this movie justice by talking about it. It is simply a movie that must be seen to be understood. It is just as emotionally exhausting as it is amazing to watch. (If that makes sense.) The Shawshank Redemption is probably the number one must see film for everyone. If you haven't seen The Shawshank Redemption:

A) You haven't seen Tim Robbins in his undies

B) You can't call yourself a movie lover

C) You suck. (That's harsh. I apologize.) You don't really suck. You just need to see the movie.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Final Fantasy XIII Midnight Release

This is a poster in front of the store.

I am holding Final Fantasy XIII. (On the Playstation 3.)

The inside of the case. I edited out the code so no one would steal it. Isn't the disc awesome looking?

Yeah.. This picture turned out kind of creepy.

This is me holding the ridiculously thick and over-priced collector's guidebook.

The guidebook and game together. Isn't it beautiful?

This is just to show how thick the book is.

So, in case you haven't noticed, I now own Final Fantasy XIII. I got it at the midnight release, but I've been lazy and haven't updated my blog until now. So, what can I say? Final Fantasy XIII is far from being the best in the series. However, it is still an instant classic. I really really like the story. It is the most cinematic game in the series by far. But it's really short. Which is always a pity. The game is also really really hard.

I could write about this game a ton. But we'll save that for another post. So to conclude this post, let me say, I love Final Fantasy XIII. (Even if it is really short, hard, and different than the other games.)

However, I have some MAJOR problems with Final Fantasy XIII. I'll talk about that in a while. I think I'm going to take a break from blogging about Final Fantasy for a while... for a while.

'Til my next post, which will not be about Final Fantasy,


Monday, March 8, 2010

COUNTDOWN: Final Fantasy XIII, Day One


Before collecting and gathering Gil (The currency of Final Fantasy) had ever become a problem, a small unknown video game producing company known as "Square" was having major financial problems of its own. In 1987 they began to face off against their own worldly evil, bankruptcy.

After only a few years of independent development, and
under the disc-original collaboration, Square's bottom line was rocked by a string of unsuccessful titles. The games they had released included The Death Trap, King's Knight, Alpha and an Aliens side-scrolling shooter. (Based off of the movie.) Even North American hits like Rad-Racer and 3-D World Runner were barely enough to keep the company at bay. Their end seemed unavoidable.

With the resources available for one final game, Square's director of planning and development, Hironobu Sakaguchi, was given the terrifying task of making a game that would save Square's dwindling future in the video game industry. When asked what type of game he would like to make, his response was:

"I don't think I have what it takes to make a good action game. I think I'm better at telling a story." -Hironobu Sakaguchi, 1987

Taking cues from other popular RPG's on the market such as Japanese contemporary's like Dragon Quest, and The Legend of Zelda, to United States games like Ultima; Sakaguchi ultimately dreamed of a game with a massive world map to explore, and an engaging story to tell. Convinced that the Famicon/NES RPG would be his swan song, he ironically called the game, Final Fantasy. Thus was Final Fantasy born.

Released on the Famicon (NES in America) on December 18th, 1987, the game was directed by Hironobu Sakaguchi himself. The game featured fantastic character designs from the increasingly popular manga artist, Yoshitaka Amano. Square was lucky enough to get veteran game composer, Nobuo Uematsu to compose the game's musical score. Final Fantasy was Uematsu's sixteenth video game score.

The famous prologue to the series. This appeared on screen every time you started your game.

The game told the story of the four warriors of light, the bearers of ancient elemental artifacts, and heroes destined to save the land from a growing plague. Despite Crystals becoming the central theme to the Final Fantasy series, the original Final Fantasy featured not crystals, but four magical orbs. The only crystal that was mentioned in the English version of the game, was the Wizard Maytoya's missing eye.

The plot sent the four light warriors to hunt down the
four elemental fiends. These fiends were demons that were responsible for plunging the world into a state of darkness. This quest led our heroes to fight the earth fiend, Lich; Kary, in the Gurgu volcano, Kraken in the sea shrine; and Tiamat, high above the earth in the floating sky castle.

Original concept art of the Light Warriors battling a Demon. I've always loved this picture.

But defeating these enemies only revealed the true villain. These four fiends had collectedly created the demon Chaos out of the corpse of Garland, (The first villain you faced in the game.) and sent it back in time. After the light warriors had rewound the clock a thousand years, they learned that Chaos was the one responsible for sending the fiends into the future... wait... if they sent him back in time, how could he send them to the future? Or did he know that he was going to be sent back in time in the past? Or are they from the past too? Does that mean that they had already come to the future? But then why would they need him to send them into the future, if they were already in the future, since they were from the past? ... hmm... I don't know. Not only was the result of the story cataclysmic, but it was also a confusing paradox. Anyways, once Chaos was defeated, the world celebrated the victory and returned into a state of joy. That was the story... it was and still is kind of confusing.

Original Artwork for the demon Chaos. I've always liked how he sits on his throne... looks cool.

Despite its flaws, the story of Final Fantasy was epic for its time. However, it was no where near the gripping dramatized narratives that the series would become famous for. Instead, the game was focused on creating a deep, fulfilling and highly customizable RPG for gamers to enjoy; and in this aspect the game succeeded wonderfully. You could actually name your characters and you had the opportunity to choose what different character classes could join you in your party. This allowed for a total of thirty possible group combinations.

Previous RPG's such as Ultima and Dragon Quest ha
d you fighting in a 1st person perspective, and the fights were usually one on one. However, Final Fantasy was the very first game that allowed you to see the enemy on the right side of the screen, with your commanding characters on the left. You had four party members, and you could fight up to nine different enemies.

I find it kind of funny how no one else had thought of this. It seems like such a simple concept. With this new way of gameplay, you could see who was attacking who, and who was casting the different spells. A strange as it may sound, the graphics and animations to Final Fantasy were some of the most advanced graphics and anima
tions that gamers had ever seen before.

Original concept art of one of the Warriors of Light fighting a Dragon. Although the picture is named, "Dragon V.S. Knight."

Final Fantasy not only had a huge story, and map to explore, but it also contained a massive soundtrack for its time. The game featured almost twenty tracks playing throughout the course of the game. Several of these themes would go on to become essential Final Fantasy songs, such as the Victory Battle Theme, The Prelude of The Crystal and the Opening Theme, which would evolve into the series' anthem. So, the game had an awesome story, awesome graphics, gameplay, characters and music. It was also really really hard.

The only way you could save your game was by going to an Inn. Which cost money to use... I've never heard of a game where you have to pay money to save. Luckily, if you had 1000 Gil to spare, you could buy a house that allowed you to save wherever you wanted, but they could only be used once. Staying at an Inn, or a house didn't remove your status effects, like poison, and confusion. The only way to revive a fallen ally was by using the spell LIFE, or by visiting churches. Money was hard to earn, and everything was ridiculously over priced. (The spell Invisible Level 2. cost 620,000 Gil.) The game also had ineffective attacks. Meaning that if one of your party members killed an enemy before the others had a chance to swing at it, then your attacks and spells you used on that enemy would have been wasted. (Meaning no one hit kills.) Enemies also jumped from being a walk in the park, to virtually impossible death matches at a moments notice. The game was so hard that Square had to tweak each sequel to try and make the series a little easier.

However, the fans were willing to put up with the punishment, because Final Fantasy became one of the most popular games of the 1980's, and one of the most successful games on the Famicon, and the Nintendo Entertainment System. The planted a seed that flourished into a lucrative series; a series that of 2006 had sold over sixty-eight million units worldwide. This is proof to Sakaguchi and his crew, that their Fantasy was anything but Final.


The Countdown to Final Fantasy XIII is just about complete. But since this is the last day of the Countdown, I just want to take a moment to talk about what makes a Final Fantasy game a real Final Fantasy game. This is going to be a hands on, in-depth nerd talk. Get ready for my nerdiest moment yet.


It's strange to think that such a massive series started o
ut with just four orbs; spheres that had the power to destroy the world, or save it. They had been labeled behind the five elements of Japanese mythology. Fire, Earth, Wind and Water. The fifth element represented the void that was beyond our understanding. In the Final Fantasy games that followed, these Orbs would change into Crystals. The concept of the crystals was absent, but returned in Final Fantasy III. Cecil began the epic of Final Fantasy IV, by stealing the Water Crystal from Mysidia; King Tycoon witnessed the Wind Crystal shatter to pieces in the beginning of Final Fantasy V, and the Espers in Final Fantasy VI disintegrated into shards of crystallized Magicite.

The Materia in Final Fantasy VII returned to the model of the Orb/Sphere; which not only helped advance your characters, but almost helped Sephiroth in destroying the entire planet. Final Fantasy VIII was like Final Fantasy II. It didn't have anything to do with Sphere's or Orbs.

Final Fantasy IX reflected the old Final Fantasy's by
making a Crystal cop in between dimensions. Which was responsible for the existence of life on the planet Gaia. But Final Fantasy X and X-2 (I hate X-2) jumped back to the concept of Sphere's and the upgrading of your characters. Final Fantasy XI literally started with a spinning Crystal, and then five others that created the many races throughout the world. Although Final Fantasy XII differed its spiritual source to the Zodiac signs, their emblems were encased in Crystals that the Espers were contained in. The Sun Cryst in XII also chipped off three shards of brand new Nethicite that united the world under the rule of King Raithwall.

Ten and a half of the main stream Final Fantasy's have used Crystals or Orbs as the emotional link to the planet's life force. If someone were to try and create a Final Fantasy from scratch, the best place to start would be with either a Crystal, Orb or neither. The twelve core Final Fantasy's bear no direct ties to each other, a side from rumors and mild suggestions, but the structure that the games are built all hold similar traits that the series has become famous for.

After you have Crystals or Orbs, the story of the game has to take its shape. The kingdoms in each Final Fantasy have gotten bigger and bigger; but they're almost always dominated by an ancient evil; or has stood to repress a smaller rebellion. If you notice in my plot synopsis' throughout the Countdown, almost every Final Fantasy is about a rebellion.

There is usually also a conflict between nature and technology. The later Fantasy's centered on a plot driven by a planet trying to renew itself. With the world unbalanced, a group of charming characters would volunteer or be summoned to perform an ancient ritual and vanquish the evil that perverted the world. The origins of the characters in Final Fantasy I is unknown because you assembled the party yourself. However, the next four cast of characters (II-V) were all orphans, or lost their parents as the conflicts rose.

In Final Fantasy II, you played as orphans that grew up with each other. In Final Fantasy III, you played as orphans that lived in the same house. In the dark Final Fantasy IV, you played as a company that grew up in the military with each other, and in Final Fantasy V the group discovered each other at the beginning of the game.

The sixth game joined a resistance group. It was the first group in the series to have a name. Bannon's army in Final Fantasy VI was called "The Returners." Barret's clan in Final Fantasy VII was known as "Avalanche," Rinoa's rebels waved the flag of the "Forest Owls" in Final Fantasy VIII; Baku's "Tantalus" troupe in Final Fantasy IX probably thought that they were up to no good, but their actions ended up saving Princess Garnet and their kingdom; and XI had numerous groups that you could create yourself. Apart from the retarded sluts known as the "Gullwings," in Final Fantasy X-2, the groups in Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy XII were unnamed.

Final Fantasy is famous for its intricate set of characters that exist throughout the course of each game. Final Fantasy V was the first game to feature a main character's death. Final Fantasy VI was the first game that let you pull characters in and out of your party. The themes brought up in the names of the playable characters in the games stretch over a large variety of influences. Aspects of nature were heavy influences on many characters. Some characters draw themes from Japanese culture, such as the main characters in Final Fantasy X. Tidus and Yuna. The name Tidus draws from the word "Tida," and the name Yuna draws from the word "Yuna." These names are references to the "Sun" and the "Moon." However, other names such as Cloud (VII) and Squall (VIII) derived from English roots. The character Vivi (IX) appears in numerous romance languages as the root word for the verb: To Live...

The character Vivi.

Ultimately, you can't have good without evil. The fantastic villains in Final Fantasy have gained a reputation of being able to steal the spotlight away from the heroes who are brave enough to stop them. But their defining qualities aren't always black and white. Some of the antagonists are fairly straight forward. Garland from Final Fantasy I and the Emperor of Palamecia (II) seemed endlessly trapped in their obsession of ruling the world. But after Xande felt betrayed by Noah, he went on a revenge binge that has inspired many other villains in the series. This sometimes can make the game a little fuzzy on who the true villain is. For example, many gamers argue that the true villain to Final Fantasy VII is Hojo, or even Professor Gast is the true architect for Sephiroth's rage. In a couple of Final Fantasy's the first opposition that you meet ends up being the unthinkable evil that you fight at the end of the game. The ONLY villain in the entire series that remains to be the cause of his own evil, is Kefka. (Kefka! Kefka! Kefka!) Excluding Kefka, there always seems to be another final fight with who knows what.

Every Final Fantasy has some sort of form of transportation. Whether it be by Chocobo's, cars, boats, canoes, rafts, snow mobile, or buggy's, all of these modes of travel whether they be manually operated or not merely acted to direct players until they were ready to fly an airship. Airships have been in every single core Final Fantasy game, and no resistance has ever stood a chance without at least one airship. In Final Fantasy III you could live in your house, in Final Fantasy IV they gained tools and armaments, in V they morphed into multiple forms, in VI they migrated to Mode Seven. Final Fantasy VII introduced helicopters, Final Fantasy IV launched a space ship, and Final Fantasy VIII stepped even farther into space. While Final Fantasy IX brought the original concepts of the airship into glorious 3D graphics.

With the exceptions of Final Fantasy I and VI, the majority of the world's aeronautic endeavors were dealt with by one man. The appearance of the character Cid is never quite the same in each Final Fantasy. So it's always hard and fun to guess what the character will look like, and where the engineer will pop up in the game. His name in Japanese "Shido" is rumored to come from the tale of the Spanish conqueror, El Cid, or from the engine term representing Cubic Inches Displaced, or "Cid" for short.

The character Cid is a major Final Fantasy tradition. Model of him from Final Fantasy VII.

The cute lovable over sized birds known as Chocobo's have been in EVERY single Final Fantasy since Final Fantasy II. Despite their mediocre significance in Final Fantasy X and XII, they're still yet to miss out on a game; and it's impossible to imagine a Final Fantasy game without them. As Toad Sage (A faithful blog follower) said: "CHOCOBOS FTW"

It's also difficult to conceive a Final Fantasy world without the charm of Moogles. Who first appeared as Dogas's security system in Final Fantasy III. But strangely enough, they weren't completely absent from Final Fantasy IV. In Final Fantasy V, they guided you to their hidden forest, where you could briefly walk amongst their tribe. In Final Fantasy VI, they joined your party, and saved Terra from an advancing army. Final Fantasy VI also introduced the most famous Moogle of all time, Mog. Since then, Mog and his gang have appeared in numerous Final Fantasy's performing random acts such as synthesis, checking your mail, and selling items. The name of the Moogle in Japanese is a fusion of the word for mole and bat... so why do they look the way they do?

Various artwork for the Moogle's in Final Fantasy IX. The change of how the Moogle's look is constantly changing. But the red antenna on their head is always there.

My favorite Moogle model. From Crystal Chronicles.

So we have gigantic yellow birds, and bat/moles; but we're going to need some serious steel if we're going to survive the battles. The legendary sword of King Arthur, Excalibur, and the powerful Masamune have been in the series ever since Final Fantasy I. No matter what the classes of the characters are, characters are usually only allowed to wield certain weapons.

Class and Magicite also decide which characters can summon the most deadly of attacks, the summons. In some games these summons were simply there for atmosphere or spell casting. However, infamous summoners like Rydia, Garnet and Eiko, or the beings themselves, such as the Espers in Final Fantasy VI and the Fayth in Final Fantasy X were all main parts of the story that drove the plot forward. Whether they be Espers, Eidolons or Aeons, the summons have always had a major part of the storyline in the Final Fantasy series. Most, if not all of these creatures were inspired by a numerous amount of different cultures. The two beings that have appeared the most throughout the series, Ifrit and Shiva, reflect two cultures that which Final Fantasy drew a great amount of inspiration. The multiple cultures and religions of the world have influenced many summons such as the Leviathan, Hydra, Ramuh and more.

All of these things are what it means to be a Final Fantasy title. However, many other popular games have copied this perfect formula. As the sales, and fan numbers have proved, the Final Fantasy formula needs one more important element. This may be the most important element as well... A brilliant creative staff. Despite doubts and disbelievers, Hironobu Sakaguchi was the man that started it all. He produced the first five games in the series, and produced the seven games after wards. Following Final Fantasy IX, which he considered the finest example of what Final Fantasy game should be, he found Mist Walker Studios with Microsoft and officially left Square in 2003. It's difficult to pinpoint specific aspects he's brought to the series, outside of his leading role; but obviously, Final Fantasy wouldn't exist without him.

The influence of Nobuo Uematsu CANNOT be understated. In his relationship with Square, he has composed over six hundred Final Fantasy songs. And that's just considering the Core series. Over fifty of those songs have been character specific themes. In 2004 he started a music production company called "Smile Please," and he played keyboard for his Final Fantasy heavy metal band, "The Black Mages." Even though most of his work is now for Mist Walker Studios, he still contributes themes to the Final Fantasy series. The songs that he wrote over twenty years ago are still irreversible linked to the Final Fantasy series.

The fantastic illustrations of Yoshitaka Amano, even with today's technology, are still almost impossible to recreate in full 3D while still maintaining the original drawing's intricate aspects. His hand has stayed with the series from the very beginning, despite not having designing a character for a game since 2001. However, he continues still doing logo designs, and promotional artwork. A lot of his pictures are displayed in this post.

Behemoth against The Warrior of Light - Yoshitaka Amano

Hundreds of creative minds have converged on the twelve core titles, but these founders of the series have drawn the blue prints to make a game that everyone else has followed. They may not be the ones behind the newest installments in the series, but the Fantasy's have a bright future thanks to their many installments.

Looking back at the twenty years of Final Fantasy, it's hard not to marvel at the amazing amount of work that the tiny company of Square has gone through to make their small Fantasy one of the biggest gaming obsessions in history. In total, there are Twenty Eight Final Fantasy games. The library is so huge that only games like Mario and Mega Man can rival the series. One thing has been made clear though, the only thing Final about Final Fantasy is its past.

Sakaguchi's Hail Mary began with an Orb, the other with the light of a Crystal and will never know an end, as long as it lives in the minds and hearts of players around the world.

Here's to Final Fantasy XIII.


Special thanks to Gametrailers and Wikipedia for the information. Plus all the people that actually read this, and of course, the fans of Final Fantasy and Hironobu Sakaguchi. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

COUNTDOWN: Final Fantasy XIII, Day Two


I've always had a special place in my heart for the front cover of Final Fantasy II. I think it's pretty cool looking, apart from the fact that the guy on the cover is wearing eye liner. He actually just looks gay, but who cares? He was holding up a wicked sword, which could only mean one thing... Final Fantasy II was going to be awesome.

The truth is, Final Fantasy II is not that awesome.

With the growing popularity of the first Final Fantasy, Square was able to release the originally unplanned Final Fantasy II on December 17th 1988. Final Fantasy II was released 364 days after the original Final Fantasy.

Since Final Fantasy was never intended to be a smash-hit, the story to the first game had no opening for a sequel. This meant that Final Fantasy II was not a direct sequel to Final Fantasy; making Final Fantasy II the first video game in history to not be a direct sequel to its predecessor.

The story began with four youths fleeing from the forces of the Emperor of Palamecia. He had attacked their hometown, Fynn, killing their parents. Unlike the original Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy II contained no ancient prophesy that said they were destined to destroy all evil and save their world. Instead, throughout the story, the characters naturally developed into warriors, mages, monks, etc.

The story followed these heroes as they tried to stop a corrupt empire, and save the world from the many villains the game contained. The plot strangely mirrored Star Wars Episode IV, in the fact that there were young heroes joining a rebellion. The empire also had built a gigantic floating metal ship with a princess trapped inside, that you had to go and save, and eventually you had to destroy the metal ship.

Final Fantasy II was almost released in America in 1990, but under the title of, Final Fantasy II: Dark Shadow Over Palakia. However, it was canceled due to development issues, and the release of the Super Nintendo. Final Fantasy II wasn't released in the United States until 2003. The game was remastered and was released on the Playstation, and also came with a-revamped version of the first game.

The remastered versions of Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy II on the Sony Playstation... The cover still looks awesome, and he still looks gay.

I think out of all the Final Fantasy's, Final Fantasy II is my least favorite. (Excluding X-2.) Why? Well... the gameplay to Final Fantasy II was like a weird experiment. You leveled up in the weirdest way. In the previous Final Fantasy game, you leveled up by defeating enemies which gave you experience points. However, in Final Fantasy II, you level up by performing actions that were related to the attribute that you wanted to level up. For example, if you attacked an enemy that increased your strength. If you got attacked by an enemy, then your defense and life increased. It sounded pretty basic, but the amount of time it took to level up... ... ... ... ... ... moving on...

Final Fantasy II isn't too bad of a game, its just the leveling up system that throws many gamers off. The game is often called the "Black Sheep" of the series due to its frustrating gameplay. Unfortunately, I have to agree. Final Fantasy II is just to frustrating to play, and it takes too long to beat.

However, Final Fantasy II introduced many aspects into the series that would become mainstream. For example, the cute lovable Chocobo was first introduced in Final Fantasy II. The airship master Cid, was also introduced into the series at Final Fantasy II. Ever since Final Fantasy II, Cid has been in EVERY single game. Final Fantasy II was also the first game in the series to have different characters join your party throughout the course of the game.

Even though I don't really like Final Fantasy II, I still respect it for its front cover, and how innovative it was. Plus, without Final Fantasy II there would be no Final Fantasy III... or IV, or V, or VI, or VII, or VIII, or IX, or X, or XI, or XII, and of course XIII.

The Countdown to Final Fantasy XIII is finally ending! Tomorrow we'll talk about the game that started it all, and we'll also take a deeper look at what makes a Final Fantasy game a Final Fantasy game. (I hope that sentence made sense.) Sorry that this post was short and kind of lame... there's not much to say about Final Fantasy II because I don't really like it.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

COUNTDOWN: Final Fantasy XIII, Day Three


Final Fantasy III not only has a weird cover, but it is also the only Final Fantasy to have never been released in North America. That's right! Final Fantasy III still has not come to America; twenty years after it was first released in 1990.

Quick update on my health! I'm feeling much better today, but I'm still really sick. Anti-biotics work miracles... moving on.

Final Fantasy III was released in Japan on the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) on April 27th 1990. It wasn't released any where else due to the tedious process of translating a game back then. Final Fantasy III was also the last Final Fantasy to be released on the NES.

The story to Final Fantasy III was the biggest plot of the series for its time. It was about four orphans. After a mysterious earthquake opened a hidden cave near the village of "Ur," the four onion knights ventured into the cave to find the Crystal of Light. The crystal granted them great quantities of its power and commanded them to restore balance to the world, which was slowly beginning to fall into chaos.

After saying good-bye to their adoptive families, the orphans ventured into the world to solve the various problems lying throughout it. Their conquest led them to discover an ancient floating continent in the sky where the warlock Xande lived. Xande's mission was to possess the power of the Crystal of Light and use its strength to rule and dominate the planet. After preventing the world from entering the void, and defeating Xande and his three legendary apprentices to the legendary Archmage, Noah, the four heroes had saved the world.

That was it. That was the entire plot to Final Fantasy III. Simple as it may sound, it was the grand epic of its time. It pushed the limits of the possibilities of the NES, and pleased millions of fans in Japan. It was by far the most epic game the series had seen yet, and fans in Japan waited anxiously for the next game.

Final Fantasy III had glorious 8-bit NES graphics.

Meanwhile in America, people were just barely receiving and playing the first Final Fantasy for the very first time. (We'll talk about that one soon.) Gamers in America quickly became hooked to the game, and awaited for a sequel. They had no idea that they were missing out on Final Fantasy II and Final Fantasy III. Which is actually a big pity.

Final Fantasy III is by far one of my favorite games in the series. For years, the only way fans in America could play Final Fantasy III was by downloading illegal fan-translated versions of the game online. (That's how I play it...) This made Final Fantasy III one of the first games to receive a fan translation, and even though the translations were usually poor, the fans were willing to put up with the errors in order to play the masterpiece.

This is a picture of my characters in Final Fantasy III. I play it through a fan translation. It's free and very fun.

However, Square had other plans for Final Fantasy III. In November 2006, Square-Enix released a remake of Final Fantasy III on the Nintendo DS. I won't lie, I've never played this version. I've never really cared for the Final Fantasy remakes (Save for Final Fantasy VII) because I prefer the original games. Although, I have been meaning to buy Final Fantasy III on the DS, just so I can add it into my very large Final Fantasy collection.

Even though the remake of Final Fantasy III received good reviews, I'm too cheap and lazy to buy it.

Final Fantasy III was by far the best game the series had seen yet. It capitalized on the NES in terms of storytelling and gameplay. It was epic, but no where near the quality the series would grow into.

The Countdown is finally ending. With only two games left, I'll be relieved when I don't have to do this Countdown anymore; although it is really fun to go all nerdy on my blog. Anyways, tomorrow we'll talk about the Final Fantasy that is known as the "Black Sheep" of the series... quite frankly it isn't that good. Final Fantasy II is the only Final Fantasy I don't really like... It's a good game, but we'll talk about it tomorrow! Sorry this post was so short, there's not much to say about such an old game.

No video today! Sorry, there aren't any videos for this old NES game.

Friday, March 5, 2010

COUNTDOWN: Final Fantasy XIII, Day Four


Two games? Again? Wrong! Just like with Final Fantasy VI, Final Fantasy IV was released in America with the wrong title. Why? Because the world used to be a stupid place... it actually still is. Anyways, to avoid confusion among my readers: Final Fantasy IV was released as Final Fantasy II in America since Final Fantasy II and Final Fantasy III weren't released in America... yet.

So, before I begin talking about Final Fantasy IV/II let me give you people a quick update on my ailment. I am very sick with a sinus infection from hell. I went and saw a doctor today and she said that I'm damned... Just kidding... I probably shouldn't joke about that. So yeah, hopefully I'll be feeling better by Monday, but I really don't know. Whether I'm sick or not I'm still going to camp out for XIII. Because I'm that dedicated! (Go nerds.) Anyways, enough about my pathetic life, let's get into our nerd discussion.

Released in Japan and North America in 1991, Final Fantasy IV was a game that changed video games forever. I say that a lot, but I think that Final Fantasy IV is probably the most revolutionary game in the entire series. Before Final Fantasy IV, games were just sort of there to play. But Final Fantasy IV changed everything by a landmark.

Before, Final Fantasy IV, video games consisted of three different elements that made up the gaming formula; gameplay, gameplay and gameplay. But Final Fantasy IV brought in a few new ingredients. Games now consisted of a real story, character development, and of course, gameplay. This may sound silly, but this completely changed the formula of game making. Games before had somewhat of a story, but not that much. Most of this was due to limits in technology. There were a few games that had tried telling a story before, (Final Fantasy I, Metal Gear, etc.) but Final Fantasy IV, in my opinion, was the first game to truly succeed.

The story to Final Fantasy IV is still unlike any other game out there. Most RPG's (Role Playing Games) start you out as a regular person. In fact, EVERY game starts out that way. Every game EXCEPT Final Fantasy IV. Unlike previous games, Final Fantasy IV had you play as Cecil, the Dark Knight to the Red Wings of the kingdom of Baron. This was different than other games because Cecil was not an ordinary person; he was the general of the army. He was the big burrito, the nacho on the cheese, the avocado that makes the guacamole. No one messed with Cecil.

Cecil as the Dark Knight. Model from Dissidia.

In the beginning of Final Fantasy IV, Cecil was ordered by the King to massacre the peaceful people of Mysidia, and steal the Water Crystal from them. After following orders, Cecil begins to question the motives of the King. Never before had he been ordered to do such horrendous acts of violence. When the King learns of what Cecil has been thinking, he accuses Cecil of treason and strips Cecil of his rank and abilities. He then orders him to deliver a mysterious package to the village of Mist. Accompanying Cecil is his best friend Kain.

The original model of the Dragoon Kain.

Together Cecil and Kain watch in horror as the package contained a death trap, completely annihilating the village of Mist, and its inhabitants. A little girl named Rydia is the sole survivor of the slaughter. When the King learns of Rydia's survival he sends soldiers to kill her, however Cecil defends Rydia, and runs away with her.

Eventually the party ran into an old wizard by the name of Tellah. Tellah leads the party to Damcyan Castle, where they witness the new leader of the Red Wings obliterate the Kingdom of Damcyan, stealing the Fire Crystal in the process. Inside the Castle was the daughter of Tellah. Swearing vengeance against the King on the death of his daughter, Tellah runs away.

If you can't tell yet, the story of Final Fantasy IV was essentially about Cecil trying to stop a corrupt Kingdom from destroying the planet Earth. The story to Final Fantasy IV was deeper than any other story that gamers had ever seen. Cecil was a deep character that had thoughts and feelings, he regretted his actions and sought to atone for his sins that he had made when he was a Dark Knight. After finding forgiveness Cecil transformed into a White Knight, where he gained supreme powers.

Cecil after he atones, and becomes a White Paladin. Model from Dissidia.

The story to Final Fantasy IV was incredibly dark for its time. It included strong themes of violence, possession and more. Gamers didn't complain though. Final Fantasy IV was among the first games that was successfully used to tell a deep story. It was also one of the first video games to feature a real love story. Cecil and his girlfriend Rosa were deeply in love, and at the end of the game married. But there was also Prince Edward who eloped with Tellah's daughter.

Games had never contained so many elements before, and that's why Final Fantasy IV is so revolutionary. The modern -day RPG formula was created by Final Fantasy IV. It's still being used, almost twenty years later.

Final Fantasy IV was the first Final Fantasy that really felt like a Final Fantasy game. It was also the first game in the series that my brother and I ever played. For that reason, my family is especially fond of Final Fantasy IV. It is my older brother Chris' favorite game in the series. It is also one of my favorites. The story is among the best of the best, and it has a strong message of forgiveness and hope that I've always appreciated.

Final Fantasy IV has been called one of the greatest games of all time. In 2006, Famitsu Magazine ranked Final Fantasy IV as the sixth best game ever created. Some people have gone far enough to call Final Fantasy IV the greatest RPG ever made. Although, I disagree, it's not hard to see why people say this. Final Fantasy IV was an incredible piece of technology. It was the first game in the series to be released on the Super Nintendo, and it proved to the world what the series was capable of creating. It is among the finest games ever created, and will always have a special place for my family.

We have only four more days until the release of Final Fantasy XIII! (Counting today.) I really can't believe that it's so close. Tomorrow we'll talk about the only Final Fantasy to have never received an official release in America. That's right, Final Fantasy III still hasn't been released in America. (The original version at least.)

Among the various innovations that Final Fantasy IV brought to the series was its music. The music from IV is incredibly popular in Asia. In Japan, students are required to learn how to play the "Love Theme" in elementary school. Orchestra's around the globe pay tribute to the music of Final Fantasy IV by playing it in their concerts, and some bands have gone so far as to cover songs from the series in their concerts.

This guitarist is absolutely amazing. He is my hero. Not only is he fantastic at guitar, but he plays songs from Final Fantasy! This is an amazing cover of Theme of Love. I want to learn this version.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

COUNTDOWN: Final Fantasy XIII, Day Five


Before we begin talking about Final Fantasy V, I just want to say one thing. You see, right now I'm pretty sick. I have a sore throat from hell, and therefore am in no mood to be typing a countdown for Final Fantasy XIII. So this post is probably going to be pretty short. But don't worry, I'm going to try and type this post just for you. Because I like you a lot. Now, don't take that too serious, and let's talk about Final Fantasy V.

I said in my Final Fantasy IX post that Final Fantasy IX was the most under appreciated game in the series. This is technically not true... you see, Final Fantasy IX was released in America and people knew about it. Final Fantasy V wasn't released in America until 1999. It came in a bundle entitled, "Final Fantasy Anthology;" the bundle included Final Fantasy V and Final Fantasy VI. Most Americans ignored the release and the few that bought it, bought it just for another chance to play Final Fantasy VI.

Final Fantasy Anthology was the only legal way to play Final Fantasy V for many years. The Playstation bundle has sold over 350,000 copies.

So, when speaking in terms of reality, Final Fantasy IX is the most unappreciated Final Fantasy. But Final Fantasy V is the most unplayed... I'm not sure if that made any sense, but I have a headache, so we're going to just move on.

Final Fantasy V was released in Japan in 1992 on the Super Nintendo. As stated before, it didn't come to our shores until 1998.

The story to Final Fantasy V began on a day when the wind stopped blowing due to the fact that the wind crystal blew up. Following a young adventurer with an ugly name, Bartz was the new protagonist of the series... his name sounds like Barf. Anyways, Bartz and his trusty Chocobo (A Giant yellow bird that the characters in Final Fantasy ride on.) happen to notice that a meteorite fell through the sky and landed near their camp.

A Chocobo. Aren't they cute?

While investigating the landing site of the meteor, Bartz finds a young woman named Reina being attacked by some weird monsters. After slaying them, and saving the day, the boy then finds an old man suffering of amnesia. Just like Terra, all he seems to be able to remember is that his name is Galuf. The three journey for a way to solve the problem of the lost wind, but as you may have suspected, the story unfolds into an adventure bigger than anything they imagined.

In short, Final Fantasy V was just as epic as the series had ever been. It's just a pity that hardly anyone has ever played it. I actually really enjoy Final Fantasy V. The gameplay is rock solid, and the music is fun to listen to. You also have the fun option of going into bars and playing the piano. The more you play, the better you get. It's kind of fun. Although the story isn't the best of the series, I've always had a small place in my heart for Final Fantasy V since the characters (particularly Galuf) are so charming.

I think I'm done now. I feel really light headed so I'm going to wrap this up before something bad happens to my soul. So we've only five days left (Counting today) until the release of Final Fantasy XIII. I'm going to be sure to take pictures of me and the other nerds camping out for it... if there are any other nerds. I really hope I'm not the only one out there...

No video today... since Final Fantasy V doesn't really have that many.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

COUNTDOWN: Final Fantasy XIII, Day Six


What's that? Two games for one post? Wrong! To the untrained eye, and the untrained nerd, the two pictures above may look like two different games. But, in reality, they are the same exact game. Final Fantasy VI had a strange release time; very similar to the same issue with Final Fantasy IV. Since Final Fantasy VI was the third Final Fantasy to be released in America, it was renamed to Final Fantasy III.

Final Fantasy VI was released on April 6th, 1994. It didn't come to America until the following October; and in America it was released as Final Fantasy III. It was the also last Final Fantasy to be renamed. (We'll talk about that later in another post.)

Final Fantasy VI opened in a manner unlike any other Final Fantasy game before it. For the first time in the series there were opening credits, and the game featured by far, the best music the series had seen yet.

The world of Final Fantasy VI departed away from the classic magic and crystals feel. Instead, magic was extinct. A thousand years prior, a conflict called "The War of the Magi" almost destroyed the world; and society had struggled to regain technology. The fighting began when humans tried to harvest the power of mystical beings called "Espers," and it appeared that The Empire had been after the same goal. The result of the war was that magic no longer existed, and the mysterious beings called Espers, had disappeared.

The story started out with an unnamed female soldier. This also made Final Fantasy VI different than any other game in the series since she is still the only female protagonist to begin a Final Fantasy game. Her name was Terra; and unfortunately that was all should could remember.

Terra... Yes, I know she has green hair.

After running away from the military, Terra found herself being pursued by yet another tyrannical government. This was due to her ability to cast magical powers that she could not comprehend; and for her ability to communicate with the Espers. She sought refuge with a rebel group known as "The Returners;" a renegade group secretly gathering enough forces to launch an attack against Emperor Gestahl. Unfortunately, Emperor Gestahl was aware of this plot, and sent his High Court Mage, Kefka to eliminate The Returners, and bring Terra back to the Empire.

Final Fantasy VI was the series' best 2D game.

The plot from there on was about The Returners trying to stop the most insane character in the entire series, Kefka. Kefka has gained a reputation, and has become known as one of the goddiest villains the series has ever feared. Kefka was a nasty clown that demanded a great deal of attention. Kefka was not a supernatural being, or the collected sum of all evil or a mind-warping god from another planet. He was a man; mind that he was a nihilistic psychopath, that sought supreme power above everyone else. Unlike previous Final Fantasy games, Kefka wasn't a puppet to a higher power, or a victim seeking revenge; he was just an awfully twisted human being, and the perfect villain.

The scariest clown ever. I don't care what you say, Kefka is freaky.

Eventually, Kefka caused a second war of the Magi to emerge. Which led both sides to the sealed gate; the border between the human world and the world where the Espers had escaped to. Coming in contact with the Espers revealed some shocking truths about Terra, and caused some major plots twists in the story of the game. With the Espers on Terra's side, she desperately sought for a way to prevent Kefka from disturbing three statues that were the literal source of magic on the planet...

The plot from there gets way too complicated, but I think most people can figure out what happens. (Kefka destroys the statues.) The story to Final Fantasy VI is epic. It was unlike anything gamers had ever seen before. I know that I say that a lot when talking about Final Fantasy, but that's because every Final Fantasy is so revolutionary. The series always brings in new elements that no other game has done before. Final Fantasy VI introduced an elaborate story, with intricate characters. Never before had a game had such a deep story. The cast to Final Fantasy VI was absolutely huge, and had multiple story lines crossing over each other. This later would become a Final Fantasy tradition, but Final Fantasy VI was the first game to pull this off.

Final Fantasy VI was an extraordinary way for the series to say good-bye to Nintendo and the two dimensional graphics. It's artfully crafted storyline and meaningful characters made the final chapter in the Nintendo saga feel as if all the previous Final Fantasy games had been building up to its creation. As the game ended, it became clear to the world that Final Fantasy VI was going to be one tough game to beat. From the way it capitalized on the Super Nintendo's capabilities to the critical acclaim it received, Final Fantasy VI primed the series into a new level of popularity. The game showed the world that the series would never have to hide its true roman numerals again.

Sorry that this post was lame. I'm really not feeling good, so I don't feel like saying much. Which is a pity, because Final Fantasy VI is such a good game. Not did it have an amazing story, graphics, and music, but it also had Kefka... ah, Kefka. You're amazing. Once again, I'm going to have to give credit to websites like Wikipedia and Gametrailers for helping me gather all the information I needed for this.

The Countdown will reach it's peak tomorrow. Tomorrow the days are going to get intense. Only six days until Final Fantasy XIII. It's hard to believe, but I can't wait. I'm going to be taking pictures of it as I buy it so that everyone who reads this blog can share the beautiful moment... I'll even record myself inserting it into the Playstation 3, just so we can all be gay. Until then, Good-night!

In 1999, Final Fantasy VI was finally re-released in America on the Sony Playstation as, Final Fantasy VI. The rerelease of the game came with fancy new cinematics that gave gamers the pleasure of seeing their favorite characters in full 3D graphics. This is the opening cinematic.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

COUNTDOWN: Final Fantasy XIII, Day Seven


Development for the seventh Final Fantasy began in 1995; one year after the release of Final Fantasy VI. Squaresoft had been experimenting and developing a 3D Final Fantasy game ever since the release of Final Fantasy V.

At the time, Nintendo was working on a cartridge based video game console, The Nintendo 64. The Nintendo 64 would be the most powerful system on the market, but cartridges with a large a amount of money were ridiculously expensive. With the finances and concepts coming out with the newest Final Fantasy, Squaresoft was forced to make a difficult and hard decision.

On January 12th, 1996, Square said good-bye to two generations of gaming with Nintendo as they announced that the Final Fantasy series would continue exclusively on the Sony Playstation.

The team assembled to create Final Fantasy VII was one hundred strong, one of the largest ever at the time. They had a budget of forty-five million dollars, and cutting edge technology that would allow them to create full-length cinematic cut-scenes and incredible graphics. To make the game even more exciting, Sony launched a one hundred million dollar advertisement campaign to make the already anticipated game, even more anticipated around the globe. Because of the massive amount of work required to make Final Fantasy VII, the game's release date was pushed back almost a full-year. With a new console, new technology, and a new concept that was a far-cry from the themes that the Final Fantasy fans had grown to love, Squaresoft was beginning to look at a familiar financial problem that they had been in earlier. (We'll talk about that during Final Fantasy I.) They're next game would either boost them up into super-stardom, or summon the imminent doom of the company.

Final Fantasy VII was released in the United States in October, 1997. When it was released, many people had never even heard of the Final Fantasy series. So when number seven came to our shores, it took many by surprise. Even without any knowledge of the series millions of people bought the game.

In Final Fantasy VII, the world was ruled by a monopolizing mega-corporation known as The Shin-Ra Electric Power Company. Shin-Ra was sucking out the life stream of the planet and using it as Mako Energy to create a affordable form of electricity for the world to conveniently use, and to fatten their wallets.The problem with that is that Shin-Ra was slowly killing the planet. To prevent anyone from trying to stop them Shin-Ra created a strong unit of genetically enhanced warriors known as SOLDIER, and their own version of the CIA known as The Turks.

The story started out with a small rebel group known as AVALANCHE. Unlike previous Final Fantasy games, VII put you into the action as soon as you started the game. The mission of Avalanche was to destroy a toxic Mako reactor. (A reactor that sucked out the planet's life stream.) This time the protagonist was Cloud Strife; a self-absorbed swordsman with little interest in joining up with the rebels. However, if the pay was right, he was more than willing to do the job.

Cloud Strife. The characters in Final Fantasy VII were designed to be more simple and "cartoonish" due to the basic 3D graphics. Cloud is famous for his ridiculously large "Buster Blade."

Freedom fighters like the group Avalanche were the only ones willing to try and stop Shin-Ra. As an ex-member of SOLDIER, Cloud was stuck fighting for the good guys whether he wanted to or not. He was forced to sign up by his Childhood friend, Tifa; and was bossed around by the outspoken leader of Avalanche, Barret.

Cloud's childhood friend Tifa Lockheart. Yes, I know she has abnormally large breasts. Square initially designed Tifa so that the series would have a more "sexy" side.

After successfully destroying the Mako reactor, Cloud met up with a poor girl that sold flowers. Her name was Aeris, and from that point on she would become pivotal to the storyline. As it turns out, Aeris was spiritually linked with the planet and the President of Shin-Ra wanted to kidnap her and have her show him where the promised land was. The promised land was a mythical land where there was unlimited Mako, and the Shinra-Ra Power Company believed that it truly existed. Aeris was supposed to know where the promised land was because of her spiritual connections to the planet.

Aeris Gainsborough, a spiritual serene girl with a haunting past. Perhaps the most important character in Final Fantasy VII.

Eventually the President of Shin-Ra was assassinated by the strongest member of SOLDIER ever, Sephiroth. (Seff-i-roth) As it turns out, Sephiroth was after more than President Shin-Ra's blood. After Sephiroth learns about the terrible experiments that were conducted on him and his family he began to hate Shin-Ra, and then the world. He wanted to destroy the planet to rid himself of his pain; and it was up to Cloud to try and stop him.

Perhaps the freakiest and most disturbing villain of all time, Sephiroth. In this picture from the movie, he stands in the middle of a town, that he completely murders and then burns to the ground.

That's a very basic synopsis of Final Fantasy VII. Those five paragraphs took an hour to type... As you can probably imagine, the story is much more complicated and much much longer than that. The game spans three discs, and usually takes gamers around seventy hours to complete.

Cloud and Sephiroth in the Final Fantasy VII movie... too bad the movie isn't that good.

Final Fantasy VII brought numerous new features to the Final Fantasy series. Not only had the game brought the series into 3D, but it also turned the series into cinematic adventures. Final Fantasy VII featured over forty-minutes of cut scenes, the most impressive for its time. It featured no dialogue but the fans didn't complain, the amazing storyline was unlike anything the world had or has ever seen.

As you played through the game, Cloud's feelings of sexual desire were split between the beautiful flower girl Aeris, and his childhood friend Tifa; the story had two females leads both seeking affection, and for the first time in the series, there was a love triangle. You had the option in the game to choose which one you wanted to court and which girl you wanted to ignore, but in the end, it wouldn't matter...

"I think the real indicator that video games have become a story telling art form, will be when someone confesses that they cried at level seventeen." -Steven Spielberg, GEC, 2004

Steven Spielberg never played Final Fantasy VII. The world cried and wept in horror and disbelief as they watched Sephiroth stab his sword through the heart of Aeris in Final Fantasy VII. No one saw it coming, and the level of anguish moved and still moves many gamers to tears. Marked as one of the greatest deaths of all time, the death of Aeris in Final Fantasy VII proved to the world and the millions of people playing games that video games can be used as a story telling art form.

The death of Aeris shook gamers around the world. But it also proved that games are no longer just games.

The grand story of Final Fantasy VII was a compilation of numerous inspirations. With the release of Final Fantasy VI, Hironobu Sakaguchi, the founder of Final Fantasy, was faced with the death of his mother. Wrestling with grief led him to develop many of the concepts used in VII, such as Jenova, the mother of Sephiroth. Further depth was drawn from religious beliefs, that relate to rebirth, or the recycling of souls back into a mystical body; most apparent with the life stream. The name Sephiroth also comes from the mythology of the Kabbalah, referring to the manifestations of the ten heavenly attributes.

I said that Final Fantasy X was the most emotional moving game ever created, but I spoke out of turn. Although Final Fantasy X was a moving game, it's predecessor Final Fantasy VII reigns superior in terms of an emotional connection. Needless to say, the game was a smash hit. The only thing that lessened its impact, was that were it not for some familiar summons, chocobo's and moogles, the game was almost unrecognizable as a Final Fantasy game. The series went from being classically medieval, to a dark futuristic world. Castles were replaced by skyscrapers, dragons became helicopters, horses were now motorcycles, and bows and arrows became machine guns.

The metropolis Midgar. Midgar is the capital of the Shin-Ra empire. The Shin-Ra headquarters is the large building in the middle. The smoke stacks are the Mako Reactors.

The fans will forever argue about which Final Fantasy is the best. However, there is no denying that Final Fantasy VII is by far the most popular. It is one of the most revolutionary games ever created, and has left a mark on the gaming industry that is still being felt today, thirteen years later. It has been awarded countless awards and has spawned toys, movies, sequels and prequels in a series known as The Compilation of Final Fantasy VII.

Cloud and Sephiroth duel on the front cover to Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete, the Final Fantasy VII movie.

In short, Final Fantasy VII is a huge world wide obsession. Fans have been calling out for a remake for years. In 2005 Sony released at a press conference a tease trailer showing fans what Final Fantasy VII would look like if it were remade on the Playstation 3. Unfortunately, millions of fans mistook the trailer and still do mistake it as a announcement for a remake of the game.

This is the infamous trailer that Sony showed in 2005.

Even if the game never returns, the universe and fan base of Final Fantasy VII continues to grow. The fan community on both coasts have continually called Final Fantasy VII to be one of the greatest games of all time, if not the greatest game of all time. Final Fantasy VII has been called the greatest game of all time countless times. Bands like My Chemical Romance have paid tribute to Final Fantasy VII by writing songs about Final Fantasy VII, it is everywhere in our media.

Fans have wanted a remake of Final Fantasy VII on the PS3 for so many years, some fans have gone so far as to create their own fake copies... what nerds.

At a financial result conference in 2006, Square-Enix president, Yoichi Wada claimed that The Compilation of Final Fantasy VII would be around for another ten years; which would end the Compilation on its twentieth anniversary. My money says that if you want a remake, then it's coming out then.

For several years of my life Final Fantasy VII was the greatest game ever made. The emotions it can stir in a person are mind boggling. My favorite Final Fantasy was Final Fantasy X, but as I retype this I start to remember why Final Fantasy VII is so great. Since my favorite Final Fantasy changes almost as quickly as the seasons do, I'm going to have to say that my favorite Final Fantasy is once again Final Fantasy VII.

We're finally half-way through our countdown to Final Fantasy XIII. Tomorrow we'll talk about the ancient Final Fantasy's that most people haven't played. The series shifts from the 3D to the classic 2D look from the 1980's and early 1990's. Be prepared for more of Brandon's Useless Knowledge! This post by far has been my longest post ever. It took over four hours to type, so if no one reads it, then I'll be ashamed. Seven days until Final Fantasy XIII. (Counting today.)

I also must say this disclaimer: about 70% of the information I got for this post was from various websites including Wikipedia, and Gametrailers. Thank you!

The following video is a fan made music video of Final Fantasy VII. Some people may find it corny, but I really like it. The song is "Pieces" by Sum41. If you don't like them, then you don't have to watch the video, just know that you're missing out.