First Impression: Final Fantasy X (PS2) ~ Soccer under water.

Wikipedia entry

So, my vacation recently started, and I felt like playing some games I have in my collection for years but haven’t really played. One of these games is Final Fantasy X on the PS2. A game I started playing this year, but I haven’t gotten the time to start really playing this game. I was even afraid in 2019 that I wouldn’t be able to start playing these two games. But now I have a whole summer to play games, and work inside my apartment. So, was it a good idea to pick Final Fantasy 10 to play during this holiday, or should I start looking for another game? Well, let’s find out together in this first impression article if I think it’s worth our time or if we should skip this game for another one. While I invite you, the reader, to leave a comment in the comment section with your thoughts and/or opinions on the game and/or the content of this article. And no, it’s a coincidence that I pick this RPG with fantasy soccer elements on the day that the final of the European Championship is being played. (That little bit would have worked, if only I was able to finish the article on that day.)

Blitz soccer under water

While writing this article, I found out that this game got an remaster way back in 2016. But, when I was able to pick up this game, and it’s sequel for €5 in my local game store second hand… Well, let’s just say I quickly decided to play the originals. Now that I’m admitting things, I think it’s a good thing to also “admit” or rather inform my readers that I haven’t played a lot of games in the Final Fantasy series. If my memory serves me correctly, this is one of the first Final Fantasy games I really started playing in-depth. I have started playing Final Fantasy 7 and other Final Fantasy titles, but for some unknown reason, I didn’t continue playing them.

Anyway, enough introductory rambling. It’s time to explain the (start) of the story of this game. So, this game opens with Tidus, a blitzball player from Zanarkand who is playing in a memorial cup. This memorial cup is to honor his father, a legendary player who went missing 10 years ago. The memorial cup for Jecht (Tidus’ father) has barely started and a big monster attacks the metropolis. Together with Auron, our main character Tidus is swept away. Who is Auron? Well, he is somebody who was looking after Tidus right after his father went missing and Tidus’ mother died.

Now, where is our Tidus swept away to? To Spira. A world where he barely knows the customs and languages. There, Tidus learns that Zanarkand has been destroyed over 1000 years ago by a being named Sin. And not only that, it turns out the Zanarkand is a holy land.

It doesn’t take long before Tidus’ blitzball skills are discovered by the locals and he enters a tournament. There, he meets various characters like the summoner Yuna. Together with her crew, Yuna is taking a pilgrimage to Zanarkand to destroy Sin. And you can bet on it that Tidus’ joins Yuna’s crew since he wants answers.

A lot of this game is voice acted. If you google this game together with “voice acting”, you get a LOT of varied opinions. From it being the worst they ever heard to being good. Personally, I think the voice acting is a bit on the weak side. I think the biggest issue is the pacing and delivery of the lines. Now, what I mean here is that the delivery of the English lines doesn’t always match the actions on screen. For example, there is a scene where you just enter a village, and you get stopped to get the prayer explained. But, there is a strange pause between the “Oh right, hold up” line and the character actually pulling you aside.

Overall, the writing so far is decent. All the unknown customs and languages are as confusing to us players then they are to our main character. If only the English voice acting was a bit more fine-tuned to give the story a bit more impact, a bit more “umphf” you know. Since there are moments that really have great voice acting, but it isn’t consistent, and it feels unpolished and a tad bit rushed.

Now, I could keep talking about the voice acting and story for a while but since I haven’t beaten the game yet, I think I’ll wait to talk about it more in depth for when I have finished this game and/or I have finished the sequel. Since then, I’ll have a way more clear picture on what the whole game and if it’s really that bad that the internet is actually saying. The only thing I want to say for now is that after 5 hours of playing, this game is a tad bit slow on the story side.

It’s battle time

This game is at its core an RPG. You explore the world while you have random battles with enemies to increase your stats. Besides that, you have a whole blitzball game to play as well. Currently, I haven’t played enough of the game to comment too in depth about blitzball. So, I’m going to focus mainly on the RPG gameplay. The battle system in this game your classic turn based affair. So, that means that if you have played RPG’s before, it won’t take you long before you get into this one.

One of the unique mechanics in this game is the Sphere Grid. I could try and explain it but I found that the Final Fantasy wiki has an excellent explanation. So, props to the writer(s) of that section of the wiki since it’s one of the best explanations of this interesting and fun to play with mechanic I was able to find.

At the end of each battle every party member that took at least one full turn earns AP. Characters who are switched out during their first turn, KO’d, or petrified at the end of the battle will not gain AP. If the player defeats the enemy using an aeon, then Yuna will be treated as having taken a turn even if she only summoned.

When enough AP is earned, the character gains a Sphere Level (“S.Lv“). The amount of AP needed to generate Sphere Levels increases progressively until the character has acquired 101 S.LV, after which an additional Sphere Level will always require 22,000 AP. When moving about the Sphere Grid, the character may move one node forward for each S.LV they have. The player does not need to activate a node to pass by it. Regardless of activation, when the player passes a node, a colored band connects their current node to the node they left to mark their path on the grid. Moving across previously connected paths allows the character to move four nodes for every S.LV they have.

Each character’s starting location on the grid indicates their strengths and weaknesses based on the variety of nodes in their section, though the player can choose to take the character down a different path using Key Spheres. The character-specific sections merge at certain points, allowing a character to take another’s path. The character-specific sections are separated by locked nodes, which become empty nodes once opened, allowing free movement. Ultimately, every node on the Sphere Grid may be accessed by every character.

https://finalfantasy.fandom.com/wiki/Sphere_Grid

The Sphere Grid makes the combat even more interesting. Something that this game does extremely well is teaching the mechanics and the strategies in battles to the player. It doesn’t overwhelm you with all the mechanics of this game in one go, but it steadily builds up until every mechanic has been covered. While I love RPG’s, I always have a hard time getting into the deeper meta of the game and I barely remember several things like what’s effective against what. Thankfully, in the towns, there is a station where you can re-read every tutorial from the game to refresh your memory. I love touches like these in games since it makes the game more accessible whilst the difficulty doesn’t suffer.

Speaking about difficulty, since you have full control over the Sphere Grid, you can somewhat decide that for yourself. I think this is an excellent idea how to handle difficulty. This way more veteran players can make the game more difficult by not unlocking everything on the grid while for more casual players, the game can become “easier” by unlocking the whole grid.

Something that really surprised me is the fact you can control Tidus via the D-pad. I honestly expected that since this game is on the PS2, only the joystick would move him. But that isn’t the case. You can control him with both. Overall, the controls of this game are quite well done. They are responsive and intuitive. Even when I put the game down for several months in February and picked it back up for this summer vacation, I was able to get the hang of the controls extremely quickly.

Also, the small map/radar helps quite a lot while exploring the area’s you come across. The yellow arrow is you and the red arrow is the next major objective. I’m really curious how that’s going to work when I’m further in the game and I hope it doesn’t take away the joy of trying to find the way to your next location. Since sometimes it’s a lot of fun, getting lost in the RPG world. That’s why I love playing games like Dragon Quest.

A bit stiff

I’m not that picky when it comes to the visuals of a game. I don’t mind if a game hasn’t the best visuals or looks from yesteryear, what matters to me is that the visual presentation is consistent with a nice art style that isn’t too hard on the eyes, fits the theme and atmosphere of game and helps me to pull me into the game. But, there are something’s in this game I want to talk about.

While overall, the visual presentation of this game looks quite good, I do notice some visual hiccups here and there. I honestly can’t tell if that’s because of the composite switch I’m using, my PS2 disc or something else, but I have noticed some visual issues. In one cutscene, you could see how Tidus’ hair is modeled, since it blurred out the background on the empty spots.

Maybe I notice these imperfections more easily since I have been reviewing games for over 11 years now and I might have developed an eye for it. But, there are some things that I really don’t like in terms of animation for this game. For example, I find the somewhat slow run cycle of Tidus so unnatural, it’s honestly almost comical in my opinion. Also, I have seen some strange movements from Yuna during her first cutscenes.

It’s a real shame, since this there is a lot that this game does right in terms of the visual presentation. The battle animations look amazing, and I have seen environments that still hold up in my opinion. But, it’s a bit stiff and rough on some edges. Things that could have been patched out if the game was to release in the modern gaming industry.

Now that I have talked about the visual presentation, I think it’s high time I also talk about the audiovisual presentation. Let’s first talk about the music. The orchestral soundtrack of this game has Final Fantasy written all over it. The classic victory tune and the hints to the original theme in the theme of this game are excellent. When I’m listening to game soundtracks, I rarely skip Final Fantasy soundtracks and this game is one of them. Great soundtrack!

That also goes for the audio in this game. There are a lot of ambient sound effects that pull you more into the atmosphere of the visual design. There were some moments where I felt that some additional sound effects could have helped… like with a silent waterfall. But then again, it might run the excellent sound mixing this game has going on… So yeah.

Now, I want to mention a nitpick. There isn’t a way to quickly skip long animations and/or cutscenes. So, yeah. That’s quite annoying if you are in a rush to get somewhere since you got a game over, and you haven’t manually saved at a save stone in a while. Thankfully, I’m that kind of player who saves at every opportunity I can, just in case…

The final thing I want to touch upon in this first impression is the camera. All in all, the camera in this game is good, but sometimes it doesn’t follow the main player well enough and the main character almost goes off-screen before the camera angle switches. Thankfully, the map helps in these moments, but hey, it could have been better.

Overall, I’m quite happy that I’m giving this game a chance during my summer vacation break. While this game is showing its age in the visual department and that complaint is mostly fixed with the remaster… I do still enjoy playing the original version of the game. The only thing that really bothers me is the mediocre voice acting, which breaks some tension of the story. But, thankfully, it’s great voice practice for me since my folk theater group is restarting after the… let’s just say… the “covid-break”. So, I can try to act it out myself how I would have preformed that line.

While I could have gone more in depth on certain aspects of this game, I’m going to keep that for the review when I have fully beaten this game. I’m really curious if certain opinions are going to change. And with that said, I have said everything I wanted to say about this game for now. I want to thank you so much for reading, and I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another one, but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

Blogger Blitz Round #1: Retail Rumble

blogger-blitz

What is this?

What is Blogger Blitz?

Basically, it’s a writing competition between bloggers we are doing for fun. I could explain everything in detail, but the organizer has written a very long blog post about it. In this post, you can find all other bloggers who are in this competition. So, feel free to read this post if you want more information.

https://adventurerules.blog/2017/07/24/blogger-blitz-round-one-match-schedule/

First Round!

So, I have the honor to start in the first round and start the first “battle”. So, today I’m presenting you with this:

BloggerBlitzround1.jpg

Basically, the goal of this round is to convince you and the judges that a certain iconic item of the character can be mass produced and sell the best. For example, Minecraft Steve can mass produce diamond tools and sell them at a high price.

Since I choose Indiana Jones as my character, I’ll try and convince you about what he could mass market and sell. Oh, if you don’t know a lot about Indiana Jones or want to read a bit about his background, well… here is a massive article from the Indiana Jones Wiki telling every adventure in order from all the movies, games, books and other media: http://indianajones.wikia.com/wiki/Indiana_Jones

If you want to read the argument that Lightning Ellen makes, feel free to take a read at her blog here: https://lightningellen.com/

Her character will be Lightning Farron from Final Fantasy XIII. If you want to read more about the character of my opponent, here is a link to her page on the Final Fantasy Wiki: http://finalfantasy.wikia.com/wiki/Lightning_(Final_Fantasy_XIII)

The results will be announced on Friday the 4th of August on the Adventure Rules blog, so we shall both check there! So, I hope you are ready since here comes my argument! Also, the rules state that the argument can only be 500 words long. Just a little side note. The rules can be read here: https://adventurerules.blog/2017/07/27/blogger-blitz-rules-and-regulations/

So, may the best argument win!

My argument

Dr. Henry Indiana Jones Jr. got a special phone call after he finished his classes at the Marshall College. It was his other boss, the one with the big ears and the big white gloves. The conversation was brief, but it made Indiana nervous.

He had to go to his office and pitch something new to convince him to not go for another project. He thought about it for a while and after he created a prototype, he went to the office of his boss.

When he was walking towards the office, a young girl with long pink hair walked outside. Then he realized, the other pitch was for Kingdom Hearts. He got even more nervous. There was only room for one more project and he wanted that spot.

Indiana’s plan was simple, to sell new merchandise to attract new fans and try to ease the pain of the disappointed fans that saw the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull movie. He had to make and present something good, otherwise, the release of the new movie in July 2020 might be a flop and that would mean possibly the end of his franchise.

After the young girl left the hallway, he knocked on the door. He knocked a few times in rapid succession. It didn’t take long before he could enter the office. But, this time, Indiana wasn’t alone with the mouse in the office, his wife was sitting in the office as well.

Indiana didn’t hesitate and started his pitch. He started to talk about how the merch sales are declining and they needed to come out with a new item so that they could hype up the 5th big movie. Indiana’s plan was simple. He wanted to make a new line of costume sets.

This would serve several purposes. It would be very handy for people that want to cosplay, act in theaters, make fan movies, collectors and so on and so forth. The mouse was happy to see something that iconic being pitched in front of him.

Yet, Indiana wasn’t done with his pitch. There was another layer to his idea. Since he was nearing his retirement, he also wanted to sell the costume set to create a great competition for his replacement actor. Since, that would make it easier to set up some sort of show, “Who will be the next Indiana?”.

The costume set would have everything, the fedora, shirt, jacket, pants, satchel and a prop gun and prop whip. Indiana didn’t want to limit it, so he created a female prototype. This made the wife of the mouse happy. She found it very cute and fell a bit in love with the design. She tried it on and she was convinced of the pitch. In her eyes, Indiana won. But the mouse, he had to speak to the judges. Since he wasn’t sure who had the best pitch. He both liked the pitch of the pink haired girl and Indiana. So, what now. What now?

Ending of my entry

So, that was my argument. To prepare myself for this, I replayed various Indiana Jones games and rewatched all movies I owned. Also, I wanted to present my argument in a way how I love to write, in a story.

I highly recommend you read the argument made by Lightning Ellen and decide for yourself who won. But, who will go to the 2nd round? Well, as I said earlier in this article, the jury will decide that and it will be announced on August the 4th. You can find the links for that earlier in the article.

As a little side note, for those who didn’t get it; I wrote about this event. Obviously, I took some creative freedom to fit it into a story only about Indiana Jones. This story has no ill intent to anybody or any company.

So, I want to close off this article with thanking you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article, but until then take care and have a great rest of your day.

NekoJonez – July 2017 Update

BannerBlog

July is almost over, and I have a lot of updates to share with you. I decided to combine them in one article, so without any further ado, here we go. 

Rebranding

You might have noticed it already, but a month ago, I decided to rebrand my blog. I didn’t make the new artwork and icon myself since I’m honestly not good with programs like Photoshop and other art programs. I can do some really basic editing, but that’s about it.

Thankfully a friend of mine helped me out. Thanks to Zoef, we got a new amazing looking banner and icon. I can’t thank him enough since it looks amazing. It shows perfectly what my blog is about and that was exactly what I was going for.

In the past month, I have tried to look for every place that had my old artwork and changed it. I think I changed everything, but when I noticed that something has my old icon, I’ll change it as soon as I can.

NekoJonez got an award!

Best_technology_blogs_2017 (1)

So, something special happened. Last week, I got an email from Market Inspector that I was nominated for “Best Technology Blog of 2017”. I was really happy when I received it. So, I answered their questions to get my nomination in for real.

A week later, I was working on another article while I heard the notification sound on my phone. It was an email from Market Inspector, saying that I actually won in the gaming category. Here is a link to their article announcing the winners.

I’m honored to receive this award. I feel recognized for all the time I have put into this blog. So, thank you Market Inspector for this award!

Big projects and collabs

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First of all, one of my biggest projects yet I have teased on Twitter is finally here. I finished “My favorite gaming music #20“. While the writing was done for a while, I wanted each game to have a separate article with a sort of review for each game. Then I noticed that 5-6 games didn’t have its own article. So, that’s why it took so long, I had to write a couple of other articles before I was able to finish the gaming music article.

Another big project that is currently in the works is a big Zelda project. It’s going to be a project that I’m not doing alone. Currently, we are aiming to finish the article at the end of August. If anything changes, I’ll announce it on Twitter of course.

In other news, I decided to not list all articles I get quoted in, in an update article on my blog. So, if you want to know when I helped writing in an article on another blog, you should really follow me on Twitter. Otherwise, you might miss one of the vacation spots I would take in gaming.

By now, you might be wondering what the image is I added a bit above this paragraph. Well, I’m a part of the Blogger Blitz event that Adventure Rules created. This is a “battle” between bloggers to try in convince you why a chosen game character is better than another character. But here is the catch, each blogger had to choose his or her own character. I picked Indiana Jones. More information about the event can be read on the Adventure Rules blog. On the 31st July, I’ll try to convince you why Indiana Jones is the better in mass producing and selling a certain iconic item than Lightning Farron. The blogger I’m up against is Lightning Ellen. Good luck and may the best writer win!

Schedule for the 2nd part of 2017

Believe it or not, I created a sort of schedule for the 2nd part of 2017. Currently, it’s just a rough planning of the articles I want to write in 2017. Notice that I said, rough planning. That means I can still move around my schedule and/or change it completely.

As usual, I won’t share the schedule. I want to keep it a surprise to everyone and I also change so frequently in my schedule, I would go crazy writing an update article or change it every time I make a change. The only thing I’m going to reveal is that my schedule is filled with game-related articles. I mean with that, first impressions and reviews.

Also, I decided to keep my 1 article/week schedule. Yet, when I’m able to write more than one article a week and I’m in the writing mood, I won’t stop myself. But, starting from September, that might be impossible to write more than once a week. Since then evening classes start up again and I have a few things going on with my acting group.

For this week, I’m still planning a few articles. If I have the time, I might even publish more than 2 articles this week. But, that all depends if I have the time. So, no promises.

NekoJonez is on Steam

Remember that I wrote an article about a game called “The Last Tree“? Well, it’s released on Steam now. The developer emailed me to tell me, that a quote from my article was featured on the Steam Store page! Here is a screenshot:

The last tree Steam

So, that’s why I decided to write a review about the game. So, I’m going to try to finish that article before the end of August! So, keep your eyes out for that. Thank you to the developer of this game for quoting me on Steam. This means a lot to me.

End of updates

So, that are all the updates I wanted to share for this month. The past few months were quite eventful for my blog and my personal life and I’m enjoying all of it. I hope you enjoyed reading this update article as much as I enjoyed writing this.

Thank you for reading this article and I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.