Nearly 20 years after the release of Final Fantasy VII, the iconic Japanese RPG is still regarded as one of the best video games ever made. And although fans may have been disappointed by the recent announcement that the game won’t be given a facelift for its PS4 debut, Final Fantasy VII lovers can wallow in their grief by an amazing video compiled from 200 original works of arts from more than 100 artists. The artwork recreates key scenes from the video game, taking viewers on a very nostalgic walk back to the many days spent on their PlayStations with Cloud and his friends.
Dec 11, 2014
Great stories make great games. But when all is said and done, when you have finished the game, saved the world and beaten down the bad guy, the thing that sticks with you the most is the music. Especially in roleplaying games, a grandiose soundtrack will elevate your game from memorable to unforgettable. There has been a trend in the past decade or so to perform live symphonic versions of famous video game music. These concerts have been incredibly popular around the world, but how would you like to hear the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra whisk you away to a fantasy world? Now, you don’t have to wait for their next concert!
Dec 10, 2014
Although director Hayao Miyazaki gets the lion’s share of the credit for the sterling quality of Studio Ghibli’s anime films, you can’t discount the contributions of Joe Hisaishi. The veteran composer’s musical scores are timeless and ethereal, and there’s no better visual compliment to their mix of trepidation and adventurousness than the moving pictures of Japan’s most respected animation house.
The beautiful projection mapping that accompanies this stirring piano cover of the ending theme to Castle in the Sky Laputa is a close second, though.
Dec 5, 2014
Although video game developer Square Enix had dabbled in a few direct follow-ups here and there, whenever the counter for its Final Fantasy role-playing franchise rolls over to a new numbered sequel, the company completely ditches the old cast of heroes and villains, and even the previous game’s world.
But even if the narrative is starting from scratch each time, that doesn’t mean the games aren’t connected. For example, every Final Fantasy has scenes where the player rides on airships or horse-sized flightless birds called chocobos. The cursor is always a white glove with a pointing index finger, and major victories in battle are marked by the sounds of the series’ instantly recognizable “Victory Fanfare.”
Gamers have already heard the short but sweet melody played by the NES, Super NES, and PlayStations 1 through 3, and this month, they can look forward to hearing it someplace new: at the register of Lawson convenience stores when they purchase special items.
Two decades ago, Sony had displayed about as much skill in producing video games as Nintendo had Hollywood movies. Sure, Sony had published games sporadically under its Sony Imagesoft brand, but it’s hard to build much consumer goodwill with such a small catalogue of titles, especially when most of said titles are terrible.
Then, on December 3, 1994, the company launched the original PlayStation. While the 3DO and CD-i of fellow electronics manufacturers Panasonic and Phillips would both end in ignominious failure, Sony would go on to slice itself a very large piece of the pie in its new industry, dominating two generations of console gaming and remaining competitive ever since.
Of course, hardware isn’t worth much without fun games to play on it. Thankfully, Sony’s systems had plenty of hits, as shown by a poll of Japanese gamers’ 20 favorite PlayStation games.
Nov 5, 2014
There are two things that I think stand out as particularly memorable from my oldest brother’s wedding ceremony. One is the stuttering mess of a toast I gave as his best man. The other is that he and his wife cut their cake with an honest to God sword, since my brother, being a member of the Marine Corps, got married in his dress uniform, complete with Mameluke saber.
It definitely made for a much more dramatic effect than slicing up dessert with some puny kitchen knife, and you might now find yourself wondering how you could incorporate a similar idea for your own wedding reception. Thankfully, you don’t even need an official work blade, just a love of iconic video games, as demonstrated by the couple in Japan that cut their cake with the The Legend of Zelda’s Master Sword.
Nov 5, 2014
Given the massive success he’s since enjoyed as a video game character designer and director, it’s almost hard to remember how skeptical everyone initially was about Square Enix’s Tetsuya Nomura. When he stepped up to the plate as character designer for Final Fantasy VII, long-time fans were uneasy about his ability to fill the boots of predecessor and renowned artist Yoshitaka Amano. When Nomura announced Kingdom Hearts, a new series that would blend characters from Final Fantasy games and Disney animation, early reactions ranged from puzzled silence to nervous laughter.
Fast-forward 15 years, and Nomura has established himself as the single most influential person behind those two Square Enix franchises. As a matter of fact, his skills are now in so much demand that he’s produced his take on virtual idol Hatsune Miku, which was recently shown off in gorgeous animated form.
Oct 8, 2014
Back at the start of the year, we all had the urge to go out and fight some monsters when we saw Hollywood blacksmith Tony Swatton recreate the massive sword wielded by Final Fantasy VII’s Sephiroth. Of course, Sephiroth is just one member of the gigantic collective cast of the long-running video game franchise. With so many more iconic weapons to choose from, it was only a matter of time until craftsmen went to work on armaments from the other games in the series, and next up is a real-life version of Squall’s gunblade from Final Fantasy VIII.
Oct 5, 2014
Earlier this year, we stopped by Artnia, the café run by video game publisher Square Enix, to munch on buster sword chocolates and drink material cocktails. Just as you’d expect from the company behind some of Japan’s biggest RPG franchises, though, there’s now an upgraded sequel, the Eorzea Café, with an even larger menu of Final Fantasy themed foods.
Led by our sense of adventure and gnawing appetite, we journeyed to the strange and wonderful land of Tokyo’s Akihabara to check it out.
Sep 18, 2014
Over the last few years, Tokyo Game Show has become increasingly focused on mobile gaming. This year’s show is one of the smallest to date, with noticeably fewer booths and even big-name publishers seeming almost reluctant to make too much of a fuss of their triple-A titles.
But it’s not just Gree et al pushing mobile gaming in Japan. Console maker Sony, too, is getting in on the action by putting the spotlight on its own smartphone line while doing all it can to show that mobile and traditional console gaming needn’t be completely separate entities, with the company setting up two enormous Xperia booths opposite its PlayStation area at Tokyo Game Show 2014.
Sep 9, 2014
A complaint that some video game fans have with the current crop of mobile titles is their unambitious scale. Designed to played in short bursts, their aim is often limited to providing a way to enjoyably kill a few minutes of spare time, which can leave those looking for a more engaging experience feeling cold and uninterested.
But everyone who’s shunned mobile gaming for that reason might have to rethink their stance come October, with the launch of a new cloud gaming service from Square Enix, Japan’s most storied developer of grand adventures.
The slim, sleek Chocobo that populate the Final Fantasy world may be much better for covering long distances and racing, but as far as cuddling goes, Fat Chocobo might take the cake.
Jun 26, 2014
Even though the numbered sequels in the Final Fantasy video game series stretch all the way up to 14, there are actually far more titles than that in the franchise. One of the most popular spinoffs to Square Enix’s massively successful role-playing game is Final Fantasy Tactics, thanks to its deep customization, complex and unpredictable plot, and stirring soundtrack.
The strategy role-playing game has been entertaining fans for the past 17 years, and as testament to its lasting appeal, this summer a symphony orchestra concert will be held dedicated to the music of Final Fantasy Tactics. And best of all, it’s free.
Jun 19, 2014
Back in the heyday of Nintendo’s NES, video game hardware wasn’t advanced enough to handle the kind of polygon-based visuals that are the industry standard today. Instead, artists had to bitmap their characters.
Bitmapping involves laying down squares of color, called pixels, to form an image. It’s essentially a digital mosaic, and with enough time and dedication, you could perfectly recreate the cast of your favorite 8-bit classic using a sheet of graph paper.
Or, as one retro fan in Japan recently did, a screen door.
May 23, 2014
RPGs like Square Enix’s Final Fantasy take us to faraway worlds with extraordinarily picturesque locations; places that couldn’t possibly exist on this planet. Mother Earth would have to be a scenery designer to create locales as visually stunning as RPGs do.
But Earth is a much stranger place than we can imagine, and some of the craziest “must be photoshopped” places turn out to be just the simple strangeness of our planet. Luckily for us, if you ever wanted to visit a place that would fit perfectly into a Final Fantasy world, Earth has you covered. Watch yourself when you stand up, because your jaws are about to be all over the floor.
After pictures of the Pope at the weekly General Audience were circulated online, internet users everywhere have noticed something peculiar: it looks eerily like the entrance of the last boss in a Final Fantasy game. If you don’t believe me, read on!
Apr 17, 2014
When Final Fantasy VII was first released in 1997, gamers around the world emotionally connected with it in a way that had never been seen before. Years later, the game still occupies a special place in many people’s hearts, with many clamoring for developer Square Enix to release a version with graphics updated to today’s standards.
But even as so may ask for a new edition of the game that looks better, you won’t find anyone asking for one that sounds better, as the role-playing classic’s soundtrack is one of the most universally-loved musical collections to ever come out of the medium. As testament to its lasting appeal, a Final Fantasy VII symphony concert will be held in Tokyo this summer.
Apr 1, 2014
With well over 20 years since the original Final Fantasy was released, everyone who was old enough to enjoy developer Square Enix’s hugely successful video game franchise from the very start is legally old enough to drink in Japan. So when we heard tale of a realm/café run by the company, called Artnia, where we could combine our passions for role-playing games and alcoholic beverages, we were intrigued, and when rumors reached us of chocolate buster swords, we were out the door.
Our journey took us through pitch black tunnels, subterranean cities, and secluded forests, but we persevered, and have returned to tell all of our adventures.
Mar 31, 2014
Every once in a while we experience pleasant beauty of synchronicity in life, whether it’s listening to Pink Flyod’s Dark Side of the Moon while watching The Wizard of OZ or just listening to The Police’s Synchronicity.
Another such case is the uncannily fitting combination of a North Korean calisthenics video for children with the background music to a Final Fantasy IV boss battle. A video of it was posted on YouTube quite a while ago, but it’s worth revisiting again and again.
Last weekend I was at a department store in Tokyo, and since Valentine’s Day is coming up, the confectionary section was packed with candy makers hawking limited-edition chocolates for the romantic holiday. As I looked at all the sweetness on display, though, something struck me.
In Japan, women give chocolate to the special guy in their life, but the aesthetics are still entirely feminine. I saw dozens of candies shaped like hearts, ribbons, and even teddy bears and other cute woodland animals.
While the craftsmanship was impressive, none of the designs were the sort of things men actually want for themselves, especially when they could have these awesome Final Fantasy chocolates instead.
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