Video Game Music of the Week – 11-17.03.2013

Captain Tsubasa had some awesome entries on the SNES, but when one thinks of SNES, one of the first games to jump to mind is inevitably Square’s dream project, Chrono Trigger. It’s one of my absolute favourite games in history with its beautiful tale of time travel, interesting cast and energetic battles. Its soundtrack is also quite amazing, the first true masterpiece work by then rising, now well-established game music composer Yasunori Mitsuda. While Chrono Trigger’s very titular music is among the video game themes I like the most, for the Video Game Music of the Week feature, I’ve chosen another one I like a lot, which is still one of the not-so-famous Chrono Trigger songs (even though pretty much the whole soundtrack is famous), Corridors of Time. It plays when you enter the Kingdom of Zeal.

Composer: Yasunori Mitsuda
Game: Chrono Trigger
Song: Corridors of Time

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Top 10 Final Fantasy Girls

I’ve been a Final Fantasy fan for many years now, and, despite the less-than-stellar entries in the last 10 years or so, the series remains dear to me. Games like Final Fantasy VI, VII and Tactics are among the best I’ve ever played, and not even Square’s recent problems can take away from their greatness. It is undoubted that Final Fantasy has plenty of awesome characters, but it’s usually the male ones that get all the attention, with some small exceptions. In this list, I have decided to give some credit to the great female characters in the series. Admittedly, there aren’t as many of them, but they still add a great amount of quality to their games. One of them is even my favourite video game character of all time, and you’ll see her on top of this list.

Top 10 Final Fantasy Girls

See the list

The new Final Fantasy VII PC version is out!

Square Enix have finally put the new Final Fantasy VII PC version up for sale. Sadly, the rumour that it would be up on Steam didn’t hold true. What we do know is that this new version has improved graphics and music compared to the original PC release, though, naturally, it’s far from the full-blown modern-technology remake fans want so much. For a limited time, the game costs just 10 Euros to download, so I highly recommend it to anyone that has not played this masterpiece yet!

Final Fantasy VII Cloud

Official website: http://finalfantasyviipc.com/

Final Fantasy VII PC coming to Steam!

Recently, Square Enix registered the FinalFantasyVIIPC.com domain, so we knew they were up to something. Today, thanks to Google’s cache, we have found out what. The PC version of the RPG classic is coming to Steam!

Final Fantasy VII Steam

The Steam version will apparently sport:

  • 36 achievements
  • Cloud saving (get it? :))
  • “Character booster” option – allowing you to increase HP, MP and Gil values with the click of a button (kind of like the fan-made cheat utilities that modified your save file in the original PC version)

The price is set at €9.99/£7.99.

No release date yet, but we should hear about that soon enough!

Source: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://dev.finalfantasyviipc.com/en

The page is password-protected now, but just click “Cancel” a few times and the text on the page will load. While nothing about Steam is explicitly mentioned, the fact that there are achievements and cloud saving, coupled with Square Enix already using Steam when selling downloadable PC game copies on its site, leaves little room for doubt.

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Vagrant Story

The second review of a game on the original PlayStation I will do is of a game that came out relatively late in the console’s lifespan. Like Xenogears, Vagrant Story is one of the less known Squaresoft gems. It is a single-person dungeon-crawler action RPG with a really unique concept and design choices. It’s also not a very long game – it took me under 30 hours of playtime to beat. Playing through it was a very interesting experience, and I will elaborate why.

Vagrant Story box art

Game: Vagrant Story
Developer: SquareSoft
Platforms: PlayStation; PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation Vita (PSOne Classics)
Original release: 2000
Territories: All

Vagrant Story is set in Ivalice, the world of Final Fantasy Tactics, however, it takes place many years in the future and the two games are practically unrelated. The setting is medieval, with dukes, knights, swords, all that jazz. There is, of course, also magic, and already in the intro you see some very strange things happen that make you wonder just what kind of world is this game throwing you into.

You take the role of a single protagonist named Ashley Riot, and that sets Vagrant Story apart from most other RPGs – you have to watch over your character carefully because, if he dies, it’s an immediate game over. You do not have party members to revive you. Nevertheless, once you get used to that, you can immerse in the really rich gameplay and start looking for the best ways to use the particular mechanics for your purposes. An interesting thing to note is that Vagrant Story features a bunch of fascinating cube puzzles. You encounter them occasionally, and solving them is necessary to progress further in the game. But I’ll get to the specifics in a bit.

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Interesting revelations regarding Final Fantasy VII’s development

Final Fantasy VII Cloud Midgar

Some very interesting facts regarding Final Fantasy VII’s development process came up recently in the Japanese Weekly Famitsu magazine, as part of Final Fantasy VII’s 15th anniversary feature. Here’s the gist (beware of spoilers):

  • There was a discussion about whether to use sprites or polygons for the character models. Sprites was the more popular option, but polygons were eventually chosen so that character movement could be expressed better.
  • SD (Super Deformed) style for character models outside of battle were chosen by Hironobu Sakaguchi, who thought they were necessary to show character’s expressions better
  • Sakaguchi put effort into the battle system and came up with the Materia system
  • Tetsuya Nomura, aside from working on the characters’ designs, also contributed to gameplay, he was the one who came up with the Limit system
  • Zack was added near the end of the development, after the other main characters had been fleshed out
  • Nomura suggested that either Tifa or Aerith die
  • Aerith was to be the sole heroine, Tifa was added later
  • Cloud’s hair was originally slicked back to reduce polygon usage
  • Originally, Sephiroth and Aerith were to be brother and sister
  • Afterwards, Sephiroth was to be Aerith’s first love (eventually, that idea led to the creation of Zack)

Source: http://andriasang.com/con11g/ffvii15/

These are all quite interesting. The sprites vs. polygons argument is visible in what Xenogears, the other big Square game developed  in the same period, eventually became – visually, the opposite of FFVII – with sprites for the characters and 3D polygonal environments, as opposed to the polygonal characters in pre-rendered 2D environments seen in FFVII. Square obviously wanted to try the different styles and see which came out better. I’d say both were quite impressive in their own way.

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Xenogears

The time has come for my first review. For such a special occasion, I have chosen one of my favourite games of all time, Xenogears. Before I start, it should be known that my rating scale is in the 0-10 range, with 5 being average. I also do not give high scores very easily – for instance, only about 25 games I’ve played have earned a score of 9 or more in my eyes.

Xenogears

Game: Xenogears
Developer: SquareSoft
Platforms: PlayStation; PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation Vita (PSOne Classics)
Original release: 1998
Territories: Japan, North America

Xenogears is a science-fiction RPG by SquareSoft for PlayStation. The main writer and mastermind behind the game is Tetsuya Takahashi, who later also became known for the Xenosaga series and, more recently, Xenoblade Chronicles. The game is considerably long, even for an RPG, taking 60-80 hours to beat. It is a considerable investment of time.

Xenogears is also a complex game. But, even if you are not a big fan of games that make you think, do not let that scare you away. Playing an RPG, one expects a considerable focus on the story. In Xenogears, that is also correct, of course, but things are taken one, no, many steps further.

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