Game Grind: Covering “Uncovered: Final Fantasy XV”

Happy Saturday BaddaBing BaddaBlog readers! Was your week epic? If it wasn’t, don’t worry, your reading of this post is already gearing you up for an incredibly epic weekend. This is Game Grind! The place where anything related to the wonderful world of video games is covered with the vigor and diligence. Today’s topic relates to an event hosted by the video game company Square Enix called Uncovered: Final Fantasy XV. This event raveled a wealth of information about the highly anticipated game Final Fantasy XV. In this post I will go over some of the biggest take anyways from the event and outline why this information is important. With that said, let’s talk about the next entry in Final Fantasy’s incredible catalog of games.

Final Fantasy 15

The single biggest piece of news from this event is that we finally have a release date for Final Fantasy XV. The game will be released on September 30th, 2016. Well that may still be a ways off, it is incredibly reassuring to have a definitive release date considering that this game has been in production for over seven years. They cynical part of may brain acknowledges that their is a chance it may be pushed back, as is a trend in the video game industry nowadays, but I think that Square Enix is going to be on that ball for this release. They’ve had more than enough time to prepare, after all.

Final Fantasy XV 1

Other surprising news to come out of this event is that it seems like Square Enix wants to turn the XV property into a multimedia sensation. Both a movie and an anime that expand upon the games world and characters have been announced. The anime, which has already had its first episode released and is available on the official Final Fantasy XV YouTube Channel, and focuses on the main characters “bro-ad trip”. The movie will focus Noctis’ father during the events of the game. The trailer looks pretty good, with the CG animation being the high point. Some big Hollywood names are also tied to the film, with Sean Bean being the most noteworthy as the voice of Noctis’ father. Sadly, none of the actor’s will voice the characters in the game. This is understandable, as they would be crazy expensive, but still disappointing. It is also unclear how long the movie will actually be, but, considering that the first anime tie in episode was only twelve minutes long, the movie will probably be under the two hour mark.

Final Fantasy XV 2

The last big piece of information to come out of the Uncovered event is that a demo of the upcoming game is now available for free on the PlayStation Store.  The demo is titled Platinum Demo: Final Fantasy XV and is pretty good for a free demo. A single play-through is between thirty minutes to an hour and the demo mostly focuses on depicting the games beautiful graphics and establishing the main character, Noctis, a bit. Players are also introduced to the Rabbit/Unicorn/Cat/Fox creature depicted above, and its just…….adorable incarnate. Square has promised that our adorable companion will be in the main game, which I am greatly excited about.

All and all this event was a good one that gave some much needed information about Square Enix’s next big title. It really seems like they’re banking on this game being a success, and I personally hope that it is. I love the Final Fantasy series of games and I lament the fact that the last few entries have been indisputably sub-par. I love Square Enix’s game Bravely Default game, but it is kind of a shame that Bravely Default is the best Final Fantasy game to come out in close to a decade. I really hope that FFXV is a return to form for the franchise.

That just about does it for this installment of Game Grind. If you enjoyed it, please leave a like and a comment down below. It is greatly appreciated and I promise I’ll get back to you. If you want to stay up to date with this blog, you can subscribe via email in the upper right corner. Alternatively, you can stay informed by liking the official BaddaBing BaddaBlog Facebook Page or by following me, @LucasDeRuyter, on Twitter. I hope you all have a great weekend and thank you again for reading.

BaddaBing, BaddaBye

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Game Grind: Covering “Uncovered: Final Fantasy XV”

Game Grind: Pokemon Red and Blue, a Retrospective Review

Happy Saturday BaddaBing BaddaBlog readers! This is Game Grind! The place where any, and everything, video game related is analyzed, critiqued, and appreciated with boundless enthusiasm. Today’s topic is one that holds a special place in most gamer’s hearts, Pokemon Red and Pokemon Blue. I have been taking advantage of the digital re-release of these gems, and have decided to do a proper review of them. Bear in mind that there is no way for me to do an unbiased review of these games as they are a cornerstone of my childhood and have played a huge role in shaping my worldview. However, just like anything else in life, these pieces of history are not without their high points and faults, and this post is going to go over both in spades. With that being said, here’s my review of Pokemon Red and Blue!

Pokemon Artwork 1

There is a reason why Pokemon Red and Blue are two of the most popular JRPGs of all time. These games took a lot of what made the genre great, and improved it immensely. A lot of the best JRPGs have a diverse and interesting cast of characters.However, a lot of games at the time of Pokemon’s released capped the character list off at around 30 or so characters. Pokemon presented players with a staggering 150 (technically 151) choices for exploring its world. The games also reduced the standard JRPG formula down to its most basic elements in order to make it more easily playable to an audience unfamiliar with JRPGs. The games also whittled down the story elements to the most essential parts, which allows players to readily project themselves onto the protagonist. The game also makes the end goal the simple, childlike, objective of becoming the very best. Which is actually pretty awesome and gets right to the heart of a lot any epic storyline.

Pokemon Red and Blue

However, Pokemon Red and Blue do have their faults and, after being around for twenty years, these faults are pretty glaring. The most obvious of these faults is just how slowly the game plays. Battles take forever compared to the most recent generation of Pokemon, and, until you get the bike, players are basically slogging through the overworld. These games play incredibly slowly and have menu navigations that are far less then intuitive. These games also are extremely unbalanced. If you choose Charmander as your starter, you are almost required to grind before the first and second boss battle. Granted, choosing Charmander is supposed to be the “hard” version of the game, but this fact is never made clear to first time players and will undoubtedly catch each and every one of them by surprise. The Psychic type is also VERY overpowered in these games. This is partially due to a glitch that makes Ghost types week to them, when they should otherwise be superior, but is also due to a somewhat poor game design. Another fairly big criticism of these games is that there is very little explanation and direction given to the player. While these games are fairly linear, players generally have to figure our where to go, what to do, and what types are strong to which, through trial and error. Which, while immersive and realistic, is a bit hampering and confusing.

Pokemon Red and Blue 2

In spite of these issues, Pokemon Red and Blue do possess traits that make them worthy of their reverence. One of these traits is the impeccable artwork and sprite-work that is beyond an kind of praise. Ken Sugimori’s watercolor promotional artwork is now iconic and the sprites of each of the Pokemon within the game is overflowing with character and heart. You can tell from the get go that these games were a labor of love and that everyone who was involved in creating these games completely believed in them. These games are also filled with an incredible number of secretes and lore to uncover. The world of Pokemon is filled to the bursting point with teasers and secrets to uncover. The greatest of these secrets is the post game boss, Mewtwo. However, discovering the legendary birds is an incredible experience in its own right. Everyone who played the original games as a child vividly remembers the sense of adventure and jubilee that resulted from finding the Power Plant after curiously exploring an otherwise nondescript section of water. The sensation of being in a world much larger than the player when viewing Articuno through binoculars in a way-point is an experience that is ingrained into my memory as well. These games do everything in their power to surprise and entice the player in a way that has not really been expressed in any of the subsequent games, and because of that they will always hold a special place in my, and many other gamers’, hearts.

Pokemon Red and Blue 3

When all is said and done, these games are far from perfect. However, they don’t really need to be perfect. Pokemon Red and Blue are beyond charming and more enticing than perhaps any other game. While future installments in the series may be technically and narratively superior (I personally believe that Pokemon Gold and Silver far surpasses the originals, but that’s a entirely different post in and of itself), Pokemon Red and Blue go above and beyond setting up what would eventually become a multi-million dollar franchise and media entity. These games set up everything that Pokemon is today, and I definitely felt that replaying the games twenty years later. While replaying these games I laughed, I yelled, and I cried. In short, these games are the essence and spirit of the Pokemon brand and more then deserve the place they have etched out in countless people hearts.

Alright, I think that sappy note is the perfect place to end this post and Pokemon Red and Blue Review. If you enjoyed it please give this post a like and feel free to share your fond memoirs or opinions of the original games in the comments section down below. If you want to stay up to date with this blog, you can subscribe in the upper right tab via your email. Alternatively, you can stay up to date by liking the official BaddaBing BaddaBlog Facebook Page or by liking me, @LucasDeRuyter, on Twitter. I hope you all enjoyed this post and that you all have a great weekend. Thank you so much for reading.

BaddaBing, BaddaBye

Game Grind: Pokemon Red and Blue, a Retrospective Review

Game Grind: Thank You Pokemon

Happy Saturday BaddaBing BaddaBlog readers! I do not have a lot of time to write a post today, but considering that it is Pokemon’s 20th anniversary, I felt the need to write something. Sooooooo, here it is.

Pokemon Artwork 1

I have been a fan of Pokemon, well, ever since I was self aware enough to be a fan of thinks. I’ve played every generation of games, I watched the show for way past the point where it stopped being good, and I collected the cards for a good long while. I just want to take a brief moment and thank everyone who created this franchise and everyone who has ever work on any part of it. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for bringing me countless hours of joy and fun.

Pokemon Artwork 2

I can think of no series that has better captured the feeling of childlike exploration and imagination. Pokemon has become the massive empire that it is today because it really is a perfectly executed marvelous  idea. Once again, thank you Pokemon for existing and consistently filling me with unrepresented amounts of childhood glee.

Alright, thanks for letting me gush. Have an awesome rest of the weekend.

BaddaBing, BaddaBye

Game Grind: Thank You Pokemon

Game Grind: Wet, Hot, American Controversy

Happy Saturday BaddaBing BaddaBlog readers! This is Game Grind, the place where anything regarding video games, video game culture, or the video game industry is covered…or uncovered. (I promise that that joke will make sense in a minute.) Today’s topic is something that has become a bit of a controversy this past week. This event has aroused many opinions from gamers and has caused hard lines to be drawn between groups with differing views. I’m referring to the news that the game Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 will not be seeing a western release; allegedly due to censorship issues.

Dead or Alive Extreem 3

(Sorry, I couldn’t resist making those lame jokes. Apparently I’m twelve 😛 )

The Dead or Alive games are Japanese combo based fighting games that, while not exactly at the forefront of the fighting game genre, have been received well by fans and critics with the highest rated game in the series, Dead or Alive 2, having received a 9/10 from GameInformer and a 9.4/10 from IGN. Dead or Alive is most famous (or infamous depending on your viewpoint) for having highly sexualized characters in revealing attire. The Dead or Alive Xtreme series, is a spin-off series that drops the fighting aspect of the game and instead is a collection of mini-games featuring the female characters from the main series of games on a tropical island. In the DoAX (the shorthand for Dead or Alive Xtreme) series the women look like and are dressed like this:

doax

And this:

DoAx 2

And this:

doAx 3

And also this:

DoAx 4

So yeah, it’s that kind of game and the creators of DoAX wear that on their sleeves (I don’t think any of the characters have sleeves, though). This side series has generally received average to good reviews, with the first game being considered the better of the two released so far. A problem for the side series, though, is that the games have never sold particularly well.  The second game DoAX game was an Xbox 360 exclusive, which extremely limited the number of copies sold in Asia, and the lackluster quality and Mature rating also limited sales in the West.

With this in mind, it is unsurprising that it was announced that DoAX3 would not be receiving a Western release. It is not uncommon for Japanese games not forego the localization process if it is believed that they will not sell well enough in Western markets for the time and effort put into the process to be worth it. However, I would not be writing this article if the publishers of the game had said, “We won’t be releasing this game in the US because our studies estimate that our game won’t sell particularly well in those markets”. Instead the creators of Dead or Alive Xtreme 3, Koei Tecmo, claimed that the newest game will not be released in English, due to, “many issues happening in video game industry with regard to how to treat female in video game industry”.

I should make it clear that the previous quote is accurate, but the conversation it comes from is a poorly translated Facebook Q and A session.

doax 5

This statement, which is clearly difficult to discern any accurate meaning or intention from, has caused many individuals to feel that the game will not be coming to the West due to the changing climate regarding the appropriate way to depict women in video games. These individuals, many of whom have ties to the ongoing Gamer Gate controversy (that is a WHOLE ‘nother blog post in itself), are claiming that “Social Justice Warriors” have caused this game to be “censored” and are upset about this because it violates their views of what ethics in video games and video game journalism should be. (That topic is actually a series of blog posts in itself.) That’s more or less where the situation stands currently and it is more than likely that this incident will continue to be used in arguments relating to the video game industry for years to come.

My view on this subject is fairly simple, a lot of people are getting played. Koei Tecmo and it’s international distributor, Play Asia, are intentionally trying to create controversy around DoAX3 so that more people hear about it and more people buy it. This technique is not new in the business world and it certainly not new in the video game world. Using controversy to sell games has been around since home video game consoles first became a thing. You could even argue that this sales strategy is what actually allowed games, such as the Grand Theft Auto series, to become as popular as what they are today. There’s a reason that Play Asia tweeted out that a version of DoAX3 with English subtitles will be available for English speakers to import, most likely for an additional cost, shortly after it was announced that DoAX3 would not be localized. The more this controversy grows, the more money the creators of the game are going to make. Whether or not that is ethical, I do not know. However, I do know that I wish I didn’t have to listen to a ridiculous number of people angrily fussing about this corporately designed, non-issue of a “controversy” on the internet.

That wraps up this latest installment of Game Grind. If you enjoyed it please leave a comment down below and (or leave a like if the thumbnail on the Facebook page brought you here), if you have an opinion you wish to express on this matter, please leave a comment as well. As always, you can stay up to date with BaddaBing BaddaBlog by subscribing in the upper right tab via email. Alternatively, you can stay caught up by liking the official BaddaBing BaddaBlog FaceBook Page or by following me, @LucasDeRuyter, on Twitter. I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving weekend and that you come back here on Monday for the latest installment of Manga (And Also Anime) Monday.

BaddaBing, BaddaBye

Game Grind: Wet, Hot, American Controversy