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!

Gamer’s Thoughts: Remakes & Reboots ft. Get Good Gaming

So, today I want to take you on a different journey through my thoughts. Not too long ago, the people over at Get Good Gaming invited me to be on one of their Get Good Talks. A 30 minute long podcast talking about a certain subject. In this episode, we talked about reboots and remakes, a topic I wanted to cover in the past on my blog. Here is the actual podcast. I’m sorry for the connection issues you can hear at my end. 

It has been quite a long time since people heard my voice. But doing this podcast made me do more. So, if there are any YouTubers/podcasters reading this that do podcasts, feel free to contact me. I would be interested in doing some more podcasts.

In addition to that, I would love to expand on this topic in the future. Thanks to my friends, I have a whole list of games I could cover that are remakes or reboots.

Also, if you are interested in videos about gaming, be sure to give the channel from Get Good Gaming a look. They guys behind it are pretty nice people and I wish they get more recognition. So, go ahead and take a look, okay?

Preview: Griff – The Winged Lion (PC) ~ 5th Console generation inspired game

Developers’ Website

Another retro-inspired game? I know, we have seen quite a lot of them lately. But, this time, it’s quite different. Today, I want to talk about Griff the Winged Lion. A retro-inspired game by major titles from the 5th console generation. Games like Spyro and Crash are two of the biggest inspirations for this game. So, in this preview, I’m going to talk about the released press and promotional materials, the provided demo and what my ideas are for the game. As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article.

If you want to support this game to see it completed, you can help the developers on KickStarter!

The promo & press materials

If you want to check out the press kit for yourself, you can do it right here. In the provided press kit, we can read the story. The story is about Griff, a king’s son who goes on a journey to find answers about his mysterious fate.

I think that there is a lot of potential in the story. Since my experience with gaming stories and writing stories myself in the past is telling me that there is going to be more than just that. I’m convinced that the story presented in the press kit is just going to be the tip of the iceberg. Something is going to happen that changes everything. I’m quite curious to see what it will be.

So far, the characters that get described are an amazing throwback at the characters from the games they took inspiration from. I can’t wait to see how everything will fit together into one story.

When I keep reading in the press kit, I see some features that get me excited to play the full version of this game. First, the fact that there will be 5 playable characters gets me excited. I enjoy adventure platformers where you have to switch between characters to solve puzzles.

Second, the fact that this game is based on mythological creatures, I can’t wait to see which mythologies get covered. I have a soft spot when it comes to mythology in games…

Third, the voice cast for this game is well-known actors in the scene. The 4 names that are listed are impressive. If an indie project like this has such a great voice cast, I can’t wait to see the result.

I really urge you to look at the press kit since there are a lot of screenshots to be seen to give you an idea of the final product. Also, check out the KickStarter page, since you can download the demo right from there. Speaking of the demo…

The Demo

I looked at the demo provided in the Kickstarter. While I know that the demo isn’t a great representation of the final representation of the game, but I would like to say a few things.

The demo of the game is quite short. Maybe a bit too short in my opinion. I think it would be fun if there were one or two levels available to play in the game. Since now I only got a basic understanding of how the controls will feel and how the game will look visually.

There was one issue in the demo that I found very annoying. The fact that the “enter” button was used to select and both go from full screen to windowed mode was annoying.

One thing I would love to see changed in some parts of the UI still looks a bit too modern and out of place in the 5th console generation. Especially the character portraits in the top left corner. But then again, this is an early build so I can excuse that.

Something I really didn’t like was the swimming controls in the game. I’m under the impression that the camera controls flip under water. That moving the mouse up, moves Griff more under the water. While above water, moving the mouse up, moves the camera up.

Something else I didn’t like was the fact that you could get yourself stuck when you go to the king. There was no way back up, so I had to restart the demo to explore the rest of the game. There is a way to get out there, but it took me a bit too long to figure that out.

One minor detail that you could change but would make it a nice touch is to change the XBOX controller into a PS4 controller on the control screen. Since you draw inspiration from games that are published on Sony systems. See where I’m going with this? It is in the details.

And that’s everything I didn’t like about the demo. The music, the visual presentation, the controls and everything else looks quite promising. While there isn’t too much to do in the demo and you can “finish” the demo in 15 minutes, I really want more. I want to see more and see this game get fully developed. Since, after I played this demo, I’m bursting with ideas. Speaking about those ideas…

  My ideas for the game

Okay, it’s that time of the preview articles again. A time where I throw around ideas that I would love to see in the finished product. Keep in mind, that these might not even get implemented. These are three ideas I have after seeing all the press materials and playing the short demo.

I think it would be amazing if there is a level where you must use the “turn your enemies into gold” mechanic that is promoted. What I mean is, that you turn enemies into solid gold and must use them as platforms to reach other platforms.

Another idea I had was, give the game a speed run feature. What I mean is, build in a feature that speed runners can use to help them time their in-game time when playing the game. I can see a lot of potential in this game for speed running. So, seriously, grab that chance.

Since this is somewhat of a coming of age story, I think it would be amazing if there is a level where you must guide younger lion cubs to safety from hunters. From what I understand of the plot, the story is about Griff proving that he can become king when his father would pass away.

Overall, I’m quite excited for how the game is going to turn out. I’m crossing my fingers that they reach their Kickstarter goal. Also, if they are unable to reach that goal, I seriously hope that they don’t drop this project. This game has quite a lot of potential and it would be a shame if it died.

If anything interested you in this article, go and look at the Kickstarter page. I seriously think you will enjoy it. You can download the demo I used to base my article on. This can become an amazing tribute to the early PlayStation games and much more.

I have said everything that I wanted to say about the game for now. Thank you so much for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article on my blog but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.

First Impression: Fairune 2 (3DS) ~ A quick look.

maxresdefault.jpgA few years ago, I bought a game on the eShop. And with the money I had left over, I bought Fairune, a port of an iOS game. I enjoyed myself a whole lot with it. Last year, I noticed that a sequel came out on the 3DS. And today, I want to take a look at it. I have almost finished the game, but I couldn’t wait any longer to write about it. So, here is a quick look at the game Fairune 2. A game that didn’t get ported from the mobile market. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the article in the comment section down below!

The positives

fairune-2-screen-3.jpg

If you played the original, this game will make you feel right at home. This game plays exactly the same as the original.

The gameplay is extremely fun. This is one of the best Zelda-inspired games I have played in a long time. Every detail on each screen is important.

 The music in this game is very enjoyable to listen to. It fits the atmosphere of the game quite well and it also has some elements from the original game.

The controls of this game are very responsive and I never had any problem with them. And the problems I had were because I didn’t use the controls in the correct way. Like trying to use an item while facing the wrong direction.

There are achievements in this game. They add to the replay value since I only noticed them after I almost finished this game. And shame on me for that, since they are right in your face in the main menu.

This game offers more than enough content to justify the price tag. Really, the length and content of this game… You get your monies worth.

The negatives

12-fairune-2-4.jpgThe game is sometimes too cryptic. I have gotten stuck several times because I overlooked one item or one puzzle. This is extremely annoying when you want to finish this game without a guide.

If you didn’t complete the map from the secret areas in the game, you can’t go back to them in the same playthrough. This is very disappointing since the original had the same flaw.

This game is a game with a lot of puzzles and exploring. There isn’t a battle system, deep and rich story or anything along those lines. So, this is a casual experience. This makes the game hard to recommend to gamers who don’t enjoy casual games. A shame, since this game is such a fun ride.

Conclusion

So, to wrap up this game quicky, I think that the final point I made in the negatives paragraph sums up my opinion about this game perfectly. Besides the puzzles and the exploration, there isn’t  anything else to do in this game.

If they make a new entry into this series, I would love to see a bit more depth. A more interesting battle system would be great for example.

Overall, I think this game is great and if you are a Zelda-fan, you should give it a look and play it if you are interested. If I have to give points now, I would give this game a 7/10. But, I haven’t finished the game, so I will give my final marks when I have beaten this game.

In any case, thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing this. I hope to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!