Category Archives: Commentary

Ratchet and Clank: Return To Glory

Image by Flickr user: Just Because iCan Flickr (cc)

For this year��s E3, Insomniac gave Ratchet fans a closer look at just what its series reboot is going to look like, and what it looks like is a true return to form for the Ratchet series! After making the like of All 4 One and Full Frontal Assault, it looked like Insomniac was determined to find a new direction to take Ratchet and Clank in. However, with the release of Into the Nexus in 2013 and now this reboot in 2016, it looks like our favorite Lombax/robot duo is back doing what they do best: platforming their way across the galaxy and blowing stuff up in new and creative ways! Continue reading Ratchet and Clank: Return To Glory

What Will The FFVII Remake Look Like?

(Image captured by Hatm0nster)

Last month we Square-Enix announced something that most of us thought would never actually happen: a true remake for Final Fantasy VII! We’ve been asking for it since the PS2 days, and now it’s finally happening! If you’re at all like me though, you probably haven’t thought much beyond how awesome a remake for Final Fantasy VII would be. It is happening and it is awesome, but what would a modern remake of a game from 1997 actually look like? Big budget games are very different from what they were 18 years ago, and Final Fantasy itself has seen some dramatic changes as well. With that in mind, it’s probably safe to say that this new game will be fairly different from the much beloved classic. So it’s really not a question of if it will be different so much as it is a question of how it will be different.

I believe that what we’re going to see with this remake is what Final Fantasy would have been if it had been made today, albeit with a couple of notable exceptions. It’ll probably start with re-orchestrating the soundtrack and fully voicing the characters in the game. Orchestrated music has been a standard practice for years now, and most non-mobile games opt to voice their characters rather than rely on speech boxes. Another logical change would be fully modeling the environments and adopting a 3rd person perspective a la Crisis Core or even Final Fantasy XIII. It’s true that the pre-rendered environments were a large part of what Final Fantasy VII was, but that was an element that seemed born of necessity more than anything else. Now that we’re far removed from the technical limitations of the PSOne and they’re going through the trouble of doing a full remake instead of a remaster, I don’t why they wouldn’t do this. It’s what we’re all used to now, what they’re now used to making. I also see some sort of departure from the old battle system as well. It’ll most definitely be something new, and probably something that’ll feel more action-oriented but retains some of the unique aspects of FFVII’s battles. That is if their recent efforts are anything to go by. This will also be the very last visit to the world of Final Fantasy VII, so we’ll see the characters and side-stories get a bit more fleshed out as well. This is only what I see them adding and updating though.

Northern Cave Entrance
Looking forward to checking this place out from a new perspective!

Not everything from 1997 can translate well into a game made into 2015, so we’ll probably see a few things get left behind. For starters, Final Fantasy VII had quite a few one-off mini-games sprinkled throughout its 3-disk campaign, and I’d bet money that these will be the first things to go. In fact, the only ones I believe will be retained in the final product are the Midgar motorcycle chase, and the Chocobo race from the Gold Saucer. The former because it was the climactic conclusion to the first act of the game, and the latter because it’s probably the most well-known mini-game from FFVII and because they’d need you to be able to do something fun with the chocobos you raise. I don’t think we’ll be seeing random battles return either. They made sense back in 1997 when we were operating from a top-down perspective and the hardware limitations pretty much prevented them from having enemies show up on the map screen. Without those technical limitations and with a 3rd person perspective, random battles just wouldn’t make very much sense. I foresee something similar to Final Fantasy XIII’s encounters, where you’ll actually see the enemies on the map and have the option to avoid them. This is all just speculation of course. They may (and will) change/add/remove much more than the few things I’ve mentioned here. These are the changes that make logical sense to me, and the ones I believe are the most likely to happen.

Final Fantasy VII was a great game, exceptional even, but it wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t perfect back in 1997, and if we’re being fair it’s probably even less so by most standards today. I completed a fresh run about a year ago (finally), and I can say that even though I loved the game, there were definitely some elements to it that I didn’t like.  So personally, I’d be all for losing the mini-games, change in perspective, and fully rendered environments. It would be a real treat to see all those familiar locations from a new angle, and even get to explore them a little bit more since the perspective change would require some additional spaces to be added. Also, most of those mini-games were either annoying (just throw me on the beam you stupid porpoise!) or just came out nowhere (why do I suddenly have to go snowboarding again? I thought we were here to save the world).  I’d also say a happy farewell to random battles and to the hours of material grinding along with them. What can I say? I really don’t like random battles.

Also, while more time with the party members and side-stories would be nice, I actually wouldn’t want to see too much more. In the original games, we actually got a pretty good look at what is motivating each of our protagonists and antagonists. I feel like we learned everything that we needed to about them, and that got further expanded in the other “Compilation of FFVII” games, is there really that much more that we need to know? If they were to expand on anything, I’d like to see them expand on the lore and give us more information about the world we’re in. For example, what was up with that war against Wutai? We never did really learn what it was fought over or what started it, only that it happened and Wutai lost. Most of all, I’d rather not see any major changes made to the battle system. It was clunky in some places to be sure, but I found it to be pretty fun up until I had to do material grinding. Going through the motions of combat is never fun. Even if they do decide to rebuild the battle system from the ground up, I hope they’ll at least retain the Materia system. It added depth to the character building and combat that somehow managed to be both complex and accessible, though a better in-game explanation of how it actually works would be nice.

End of FFVII
He might be right…

Supposedly a fair amount of the original Final Fantasy VII team is working on the remake, so we can feel reasonably assured that they’ll be doing their best to retain the spirit of the original as they craft a fresh take for us to enjoy. I just think that it’s fun to speculate on these sorts of projects and try to figure out what’s likely to happen. Will any of these predictions prove correct? I suppose only time will tell.

How do you think they’ll handle the Final Fantasy VII remake? What would your ideal remake look like?

Outrage Isn’t Working

DestinyMapImage Captured by Hatm0nster

There’s been quite a bit for us gamers to get angry about over the last couple of years hasn’t there? Poor PC ports, stupid comments from developers, poor digital store curation, nickel-and-dime pricing structures, manipulative marketing, preorder culture… the list of things for us to be angry about goes on and on. Most entries on that list are valid reasons to feel annoyed or even angry with those responsible, but I have to wonder how much good our righteous fury is actually doing. Every time a developer or publisher does something stupid or shady, the gaming community works hard to make our discontent clear. Once it becomes clear that we’re angry, those responsible always issue some sort of apology, sometimes offer us an extra little-something to show their sincerity, and we let them off the hook since we don’t want to be the entitled jerks we’re made out to be. This would be fine if the same people didn’t keep doing those things that made us angry in the first place. It’s often not long after the big “we’re sorry” that the same garbage is pulled and we all get angry all over again and start yet another instance of this cycle we’ve been stuck in for so long now. Perhaps it’s time to try another approach. Continue reading Outrage Isn’t Working

Not Dead Yet! #gamersonwatch

Beyond Good and Evil Jade

Image by Flickr user: adurdin (cc)

This year’s E3 will likely go down as one of the most successful of the last few years. Not only did we get a boatload of announcements and trailers that we were already expecting, but we also got some of the biggest out-of-left-field reveals to ever come out of the show! The new DOOM is alive and well, The Last Guardian was confirmed as still in development, and perhaps the most incredible of all: the Final Fantasy VII remake (a project many thought would never EVER happen) was confirmed to be a real game that’s actually being produced! It’s…just so incredible! Projects once thought either dead or nonstarters are becoming reality! If these games can make it into the light of day, perhaps there’s still hope for others as well! Here’s three games that we just might get to see after all if this trend continues! Continue reading Not Dead Yet! #gamersonwatch

21 Years, 21 Stories #gamersonwatch

Image by Flickr user Raúl (CC)
Image by Flickr user Raúl (CC)

This year marks E3’s 21st anniversary, and what a road this event with humble beginnings has traveled! To celebrate how far games have come in a mere two decades, I’m running down a year-by-year list of my history with game news and events since 1995, the year of E3’s first show. (Hence the throwback to the Sega Saturn above, which gets first mention below.) The stories on my list didn’t necessarily break at E3, but rather were introduced during their given years. Keep in mind that a little cheekiness may seep in here and there, because game news is still “news” after all, and not all of it matters all the time. :) So join me on this little trip through time, and be sure to let us know some of your favorite news stories of the past and present, either in the comments here, or as a post of your own to join our June writing challenge. #gamersonwatch

Continue reading 21 Years, 21 Stories #gamersonwatch

To the Lighthouse!

Image by Flickr User: Ferino Design (cc)

I once wrote a post lamenting how unlockable content has largely become a thing of the past. Rewards that were once challenges to find and fun to show off to your friends are now just extras to buy. Where once we might have had to do something special to unlock Jason Voorhees in Mortal Kombat X, now we just pay $5 or so and boom, he’s available to play. This has been great in that many of us get to see everything a game has to offer, but it’s left most of our games without anything special to attain. Beyond a a handful of special weapon, costumes, or even a cheat, there’s hardly anything in our games that we need to strive for; barely anything that we can look at and recall with pride the effort it took for us to acquire it. So, even though I myself may never reach it, I just needed to express how excellent it is that Bungie has brought back a little taste of the unlockable content of old with their inclusion of “The Lighthouse” in their new House of Wolves expansion! Continue reading To the Lighthouse!

Hunting The Truth

Image by Flickr user: Corrinne Yu (cc)

The Halo series is going to be 14 years old come this November. It’s hard to believe, but we are now 14 years out from the launch of Halo: Combat Evolved back in 2001. That’s 14 years of games, comics, and books to fill in the lore, and 14 years for Halo fans to get familiar with it. We as fans know about the origins of the Master Chief and the SPARTAN-IIs. We know every explicit detail about the whole sordid affair: about how they were abducted as kids, how they were trained to fight from an early age, and how they were replaced with clones doomed to die. Indeed we’ve known this and so much more, and we’ve known it all for a long time now. It’s old news and uninteresting…well for those of us in the audience it is… Continue reading Hunting The Truth