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Monday, July 6, 2015

Chasing in on the name "Harvest Moon" - Is it right?

"Harvest Moon," when one hears these words they may think of the time when the moon is orange and at it's fullest in Fall, but when a gamer hears it, they will instantly think of the well known farm simulating series.

Originally released on the SNES, Harvest Moon was a unique title that took what would normally be considered hard work, and made it fun. It was a game where you took on the role of a farmer, whom was tasked with the job of restoring and building a farm, and it asked you to live out his life. While the game did have a main goal, it was one that never actually forced you to do it. The game was about freedom, about having a farm, yet doing whatever it is you wanted to do. You could grow crops, take care of animals, and go fishing, but you could also head out to the town, interact with towns people, and even get married. The game was packed full of content, and despite being a chore, it was one that became strangely addictive and kept players coming back for more -- a lot more.

Over the years many entries have been released in this series, and some of them have even become staples for the console they were on. Harvest Moon 64 on the Nintendo 64 quickly became known as one of the best N64 games out there, Back to Nature followed it on the PlayStation, and A Wonderful Life became a must have for any GameCube and PS2 owners as well. As time went on, Harvest Moon seemed to just get better and better, and it continued to grow in popularity. While some entries in the series built upon what was previously set, others would branch off into different areas, and feature unique gameplay elements of their own. Spin off titles like Rune Factory introduced and focused on dungeon crawling and combat, while games such as Animal Parade focused more on exotic animals, and family. No matter what the case was though, Harvest Moon was a popular series, and despite having gameplay changes from time to time, each entry had quite the fan base.

So, jumping ahead to 2015 and things haven't changed... Or have they? The truth is, things have actually changed quite a bit. The Harvest Moon series is still popular and doing amazingly well on the Nintendo 3DS, but what a lot of people (including fans) may not realize is, well, Harvest Moon is no longer Harvest Moon.

The Japanese name for the Harvest Moon series has always been "Bokuj┼Ź Monogatari" in Japan (translated to "Farm Story"), but when it was published in the west by a company called "Natsume," it was given the name Harvest Moon (named after, well, you know). Of course there were no issues with this name, it was a fitting one after all, and before long it's what almost everyone outside of Japan knew it by. It was the series' name, and there was no reason to change that -- until now that is.

Starting with "Story of Seasons" on the Nintendo 3DS, the developers behind the series have decided to use their western branch "XSeed" to localize the games instead of going through Natsume. It's a decision that really does make a lot of sense (one may even ask why they didn't do this sooner), but the issue is that Natsume retained the Trademark on the name "Harvest Moon." In other words, rather than transferring the rights to use the name to XSeed, they decided to hold onto it for themselves, and make use of it in their own way -- something a lot of people may not even realize. So, with the name Harvest Moon now lost to them, "Farm Story's" name was changed to "Story of Seasons" for it's US release, and the rest is history (or rather, history in the making). While yet another Story of Seasons game was announced, a spin off crossover at that, Natsume continues to do their own thing as well...

The Harvest Moon of today's world is not Harvest Moon. After they lost the series, Natsume decided to continue using the Harvest Moon name to release their own game -- a Minecraft like block farming game for the Nintendo 3DS. For anyone who isn't in the know, one would assume that this is the follow up to Harvest Moon A New Beginning, but in reality it isn't even a part of the series. It is a game that is inspired by the (now) Story of Seasons series, and nothing more; however, that's not how many fans, nor the rest of the world will see it.

With the newest "Harvest Moon" heading to PC, a lot of fans still do not realize the truth. The series they love has been replaced with a copy, while the real sequels are being released under a new name. In many's eyes, Story of Seasons is the "Harvest Moon clone" which rips off their beloved game, while the Harvest Moon games continue to try something a bit different. It's something a lot of people accept, and it's something they will continue to accept as the years go on. Sure, those who have access to the internet or closely follow the series may know the difference, but for anyone else, it's something they may never even realize. The series they or their kids love will move on without them, and they will never even know.

So, the question is... Is this right? Should a company use another game's name to cash in on it? Of course Natsume owns the rights to the name "Harvest Moon," so it's not like they are stealing it, but should they use it? Why not release farming games under a new title? Why keep using the name? Money, that's the reason, but they could have did something different if they wanted to. What do you guys think?

Ben's Corner - Giving Games a Chance (Neptunia)

Every once in awhile a game or game series will come along that you will just not like. Maybe the gameplay doesn't look good to you, or the screen shots were enough to kill interest, or maybe you're even put off by what others tell you about it. Whatever the case is, you'll either see or hear something about the game, and instantly your brain will begin processing the information, and you'll form some kind of opinion. It's something we as humans do every single day with the food we eat, clothes we wear, music we listen to, books we read, and shows we watch, and it's something we will continue to do for the rest of our lives. The thing is though, sometimes our first impressions of something lie to us.

While some people may try to keep an open mind when it comes to things, a lot of us tend to play it safe. We stick to what we know we like, and avoid taking risks. If food looks good to you, you'll eat it, but if it looks or sounds bad, you will stay as far away as possible. But what if you try it? Until you actually eat the food yourself, can you really say that you hate it? The answer is no. Unless you actually put that food in your mouth and give it a shot, you will never actually know if you like it or not. Sure, it may taste similar to other foods you don't care for, but it also may be different enough that you do like it. In other words, if you never give anything a shot, you will never know for sure if you like it or not -- including video games.

During events like E3, game trailers are shown off to let us know about the upcoming releases. We watch these trailers, we decide if we are interested or not, and then we go on from there. Ones we don't like, we ignore, and ones we want to see more of, well, we see more of. But, is this really the right way to judge games? Yes, maybe in some cases, but what about the games you may just look at and instantly not care for? Maybe because of the art style, or the story, or possibly even the fan base whom may annoy you? Should you just throw them to the side as well? I'd say no. Unless you try it for yourself you'll never really know, and when you do give it a chance you may be surprised. It's a lesson I've learned for myself time and time again, and just recently it happened again.

In the past I've told the stories of how I got into games like Assassin's Creed despite feeling that I'd hate them, but just lately it happened to me again. Now sure, in general I try to keep an open mind about games, but this one in particular just turned me off in so many ways that I thought I'd never give it a chance. So, just what is this game? Hyperdimension Neptunia, that's what.

When I first heard about the series, I had no intentions of trying it. The front box showed an all female cast, it seemed to be loaded with fan service, and it appeared to be a generic turn based RPG with dungeon crawling elements. None of that appealed to me, and the more I read and saw about the game, the more I realized just how much I wouldn't like it. It wasn't the type of game I'd enjoy, and because of that I stopped following it's news. After that point, the only thing I ever heard about the series was that Inafune would be involved with the second in some way, and I would continue to see fan service artwork being posted online (both official, and fan works). Really, the more I saw of this, the more I began to "hate" the series, but it really wasn't until the fans started speaking out that it truly began to annoy me.

What was once an RPG series I wasn't interested in, soon became one that was shoved in my face constantly. I'd see people hyping each release to no end on forums, there would be discussions about "waifus," and I'd even see flame wars break out over why the games were so good. Sure, this is the type of thing you see with nearly every fan base out there (some can be worse than others), but when you see this sort of thing going on in a series you already don't care for -- the fans can really push you away, and make you dislike the game even more. While I never actually hated the series, nor did I ever make fun of it like many out there, it was one I wanted to completely avoid, and I constantly told myself that I'd never try it... Until I played Fairy Fencer F.

By the time Fairy Fencer came out (which used the Neptunia engine), the Neptunia series had changed a lot, and most of the original complaints I (as well as many others) had with the game were fixed. The battle system was refined, dungeons were simplified, and a great deal of care actually went into the games. While many games by Compile Heart and IF suffered from a lot of issues just as Neptunia did, this time the developers were learning from their mistakes, and they were willing to do whatever it took to fix them. They improved on the formula, incorporated it into their other game series, and when the time was right, they went back to completely remake Neptunia in the form of the "Re;Birth" series. This is when I finally decided to give it a go.

Although the Re;Birth games have been out for a couple of years now, I'm just now getting around to trying them out. Of course I didn't jump into these games expecting to love them -- I still wasn't sure how I felt about it being a parody game filled with fan service and an all female cast, but I figured that at least the gameplay may keep me going. While I wasn't hooked on Fairy Fencer F, I liked it enough to give another game with the same style a chance, and the fact that Re;Birth was on a handheld also meant that I wouldn't be tied down to play it. So, I took a chance, bought the digital release (for full price right before it went on sale...), and jumped right in. Needless to say, I was shocked.

The game wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Sure, the gameplay had been changed from the original, but the characters and story are what actually caught me off guard. Again, the characters themselves turned me off, and I was never sure how I felt about it being a parody story of the gaming world, but the moment I started up Re;Birth1 and saw Neptune, I instantly started to care about her as a character. I liked her personality, her and the other character's voice acting was spot on, and quite a few of the references each one brought up would make me smile. Of course some of it felt forced, and there was some cringy/stupid dialogue at times, but for once I felt that it added to the game's charm rather than taking away from it (of course a lot of it was done on purpose). Although the game's main story wasn't anything that great (which I never expected it to be), the characters themselves kept me wanting to see more, and the gameplay had me hooked (unlike in Fairy Fencer F). Before I knew it, my playtime had passed 30 hours, and I was nearly at the 100% completion mark.

Since that moment, I've decided to give nearly the entire series a chance. I completed Re;Birth1 (and got the Platinum trophy), I ran out and got a physical copy of Re;Birth2, and I'm already looking into buying the spin offs, and the newly released Re;Birth3. Looking back at how I felt about this series as a whole is quite shocking to me, and I'm still having a hard time to believe that I like it so much. Now, is it the "best thing ever?" No, not by a long shot. What it is though, is a fun little game which has a lot of character, and can easily keep almost any JRPG fan busy for hours. While for many it may be hard to get past the whole anime girl "waifu" thing (as it was for me), I've learned that if you manage to do so, you most likely wont regret it. Of course even with the improvements it won't be a game for everyone, but I am personally glad I gave it a chance.

Keeping an open mind can be a challenge, but if you don't close yourself off, and take that risk -- maybe someday you'll discover something great.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Ben's Gaming Memories: Star Ocean & Star Ocean 5

This year's E3 had a lot of exciting news for the gaming community. Microsoft announced that they were "fixing" the Xbox One and adding backwards compatibility, Sony showed off some nice new games (including The Last Guardian), Square announced the Final Fantasy VII remake, and Nintendo came out with it's new Star Fox. Sure all of this was great news, but one thing that really stood out to me was something many may have overlooked -- the announcement of Star Ocean 5 coming to the West on the PS4.

The Star Ocean series has always been one of my favorite JRPGs, and it's really one of the first that I got into. Now sure, I grew up playing Pokemon on the GB/GBC, but it wasn't until Star Ocean that I started diving into the whole genre. Of course I had played some Final Fantasy games, Kingdom Hearts, Earthbound, and a handful of others, but it wasn't until I picked up the first Star Ocean that I became a full fan of JRPGs.

Originally I started playing Star Ocean because I had heard it was one of the few "must play" JRPGs on the SNES that never made it to the West. It was also one of the few SNES games to use a special chip to push the SNES past its limits, and that interested me as well. So, I decided to play it... Of course I didn't make it far.

I didn't know Japanese, and even with translations I found it too much of a chore to play. I made it to the past (which is where the main game starts), but I couldn't get myself to move on -- or rather, I stopped myself once I researched the game a bit further. It turned out that a PSP remake was coming out, and it featured an enhanced action based battle system, a remastered world, and a full world map (instead of hallways connecting areas). So, upon hearing the news I stopped playing, and got the PSP game as soon as I was able to.

To me, Star Ocean First Depature (the title of the PSP remake) was amazing. It had full voice acting, prerendered backgrounds, nice looking sprites, a real time action combat system, tons of skills to learn, a lot of party members to find, and it also offered many different ways to play. While on the first play through you may side with some specific characters, on the second you may decide to side with another and go on the run -- a choice which greatly changed how the game played out. Now sure, there were key moments that never changed, but the sections leading up to them would, giving you a new experience each time you picked it up. I played the game to death, and due to an unforeseen disaster at my school, we were home each day by noon, giving me almost the whole day to play it. The only down side was that I finished it quickly forcing me to wait to see what came next. The good news was, Star Ocean 2 had been released on PSP as well.

So, the same thing happened. It took a bit of hunting, but I managed to find a new copy of Star Ocean Second Evolution (again, PSP title), and once again I feel in love with the series. I was hooked from start to finish, and I ran through the game multiple times. I can't tell you how many hours I spent on it, but it quickly became one of my favorite games, and once again it left me wanting more -- that's where Star Ocean 3 came in (aka, Till the End of Time).

It wasn't hard to track down the 3rd game, but it wasn't as easy for me to play it. School was getting close to an end, it wasn't on a handheld so I couldn't play it as much/take it with me, and the day I bought it my PS2 controller broke -- forcing me to run to Walmart and get another. I was also running low on memory on my memory card, but I made it work. Sadly though, after all of the extra work to get it up and running, it wasn't a game that pulled me in -- not at first at least. The voice acting in it bugged me, the new battle system took awhile to get used to, and I wasn't really a fan of how they replaced Private Actions (which were extra scenes you could watch by splitting your party up in town) with your standard sub events which activate if you go somewhere at the right moment. It just wasn't as fun for me, and soon I found myself face to face with the worst puzzle in any game -- the mine.

Around the time I got to the mine in SO3, I also went out and bought the newly released Star Ocean 4 (The Last Hope). Instantly I found myself having more fun with it, and really I didn't feel like playing 3. I wasn't even to the annoying sections of the game yet, but something about 4 was just more appealing to me, and since it was a prequel I didn't need to know anything about 3 to play it. So, I played 3 off and on, but my main focus was in fact on 4. There was one problem however... I didn't have an HD TV.

If you've never tried to play a text heavy HD game on a standard TV, then consider yourself lucky -- it is a nightmare. Text in such games tend to become a blurry mess, they will cause massive eye strain, and no matter how big or small your screen is, the game looked terrible. I often found myself running into things I couldn't tell was there, I didn't bother speaking to most NPCs because the text was mush, and the game sort of gave me a head ache. To put it simple, it was a nightmare... The good news was, there was one way for me to play it.

While I didn't have my own HD TV, we had just bought one for the family living room. It was a 38" 1080p LCD, and although it wasn't something I could use to play games in the afternoon, due to my school still letting us out around noon I had access to it for at least a few hours each day. So, after school, once again, that is what I did -- I played Star Ocean every chance I got. Of course I couldn't play it as much for the same reasons I couldn't play SO3 as often (except the fact that I only had the TV for 3 hours a day limited me even more), so I didn't advance very quickly. Actually it wasn't until summer that I was able to play the game more, but that's also partly due to me getting an HD TV of my own as well.

Although I liked Star Ocean 4, it too had it's issues (voice acting again, some annoying characters, annoying disc swapping during post game, etc), and parts of it put me off from completing it right then and there. I actually ended up going back to 3 and finished it up before, but I did go back to 4 shortly after -- thus ending my time with the series. In the matter of less than a year I had finished all of the core games, and was forced to wait for the next entry... That was six years ago.

The announcement of Star Ocean 5 is something I've waited a long time for. Sure there were some hang ups that kept me from advancing in SO3 and SO4, but I still love the series. I love the action, I love the characters (for the most part), I love the universe, and in the early games I really liked how your actions changed the story. Heck Star Ocean 2 on the PSP had 100 endings, yet SO3's ending was decided by who you were the closest to, and SO4's endings were just extended scenes taking place one after the other. They were set in stone, just as the story was (as SO4 only had one extra party member who could replace another in your second playthrough)... But even so, I liked the games. I was okay with the changes, and still had fun with them.

With Star Ocean 5, although we don't know a whole lot about them, things are different. It has already been stated that SO5 will once again give us, the players, the ability to control the way the game progresses, the art style has been redone so that character's don't look like creepy dolls (a major complaint about SO4's character models), we can have up to six party members with us at once, and battles now happen seamlessly on the field rather than loading a battle screen upon touching an enemy. It's also been stated that we'll be able to "travel the stars," and that the game takes place between SO2 and 3 before the major "plot twist" that most fans either love or hate. In short, what we've seen is a massive improvement over the past games, and they seem to have finally gone back to their roots -- back to what made Star Ocean, Star Ocean, and what was sadly lost during the transition to 3D. Of course it's still too early to tell how the game will be, but the short trailers, screen shots, and information out there is more than enough to make the wait for it's release much much longer.

Star Ocean may not be the most popular JRPG series out there, but it's one that is special to me, and I really hope that anyone who hasn't will give it a chance themselves.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Final Fantasy VII Remake - How much will they change?

After a very long wait, the Final Fantasy VII remake has finally been confirmed. This is something fans have been dreaming about since the tech demo for the PlayStation 3, but now it is a reality. The thing is though... Just how much will the game be changed?

The thing about Final Fantasy VII is, it's an old game, and a game that got away with a lot back in the day. If you've never played it for yourself, you might assume it's like any other Final Fantasy, but in reality it is not. The things that game did were pretty shocking to see, and one can't help but wonder if all of it will be retained in this remake. So, with that being said, let's take a look into what may or may not be different once this remake is released.

The World:

Like many of the PS1 era RPGs, Final Fantasy VII was a game that made use of 3D models and prerendered backgrounds. Just about every area in the game was an image with character models appearing larger or smaller as they ran either into the background, or towards the screen. Sometimes there were other 3D models you could interact with, or NPCs to talk to, but for the most part the game's world was simply backgrounds -- ones that gave the illusion of a 3D game. So, the question is, will this style remain?

When you think "remake," and watch the CGI trailer, you'd assume the new game would be fully 3D -- but what if it's not? Will Square-Enix really take the time to fully recreate this world in 3D? Just looking back at Crisis Core on the PSP will show how large the game really is. Crisis Core's large hub areas, for example, are 3D recreations of maps found in Final Fantasy VII, and most you will run through in a matter of a few seconds. In Crisis Core you run around and explore, but in FF7 you're in a hurry to get through them and they seem like nothing -- they are actually some of the smallest maps in the game, yet the 3D world in Crisis Core makes them seem huge. So, what if they remade the entire game in 3D? Could they do it? Or rather, would they do it? It's possible, yes, but it's also possible they will take another route.

The first fully 3D mainline Final Fantasy was X, and although it's in 3D, it still uses fixed camera angles, and some prerendered backgrounds. With this style of game, less detail goes into the world, but what is shown still looks very nice. It gives the game a 3D environment to make use of during cutscenes, but it also confines them to a smaller path and limits what they can or cannot see -- very similar to a full on prerendered game. It allows for maps to be smaller, yet still appear to be larger, and it is much easier to make. Rather than modeling a mountain side, and every single thing the eye can see as you rotate the camera, all that would be required is the mountain itself, and the path up it. This is a style many JRPGs out there use, so it wouldn't be too shocking if the FF7 remake did the same. (Although I'm sure many would agree, a fully 3D world would be amazing.)

Another question we can ask ourselves about the game world is, what will the world map be like? Will we have a world map, or will it be some sort of connected path? Either was is technically possible, but what would work better? Really, it depends on the style of the main game and what Square-Enix decides is best. Many games in the past have simply stuck full sized character models on a smaller world map to traverse it, but every once in awhile we've seen games use connected paths instead -- including remakes of games which originally used another style. Some examples of this would be games like the original Star Ocean, or Tales of Hearts. When these two games (though only one is published by Square-Enix) were remade, they went from connecting paths between towns and areas, to having full 3D world maps. Of course in FF7's case it would be the other way around, but it doesn't change the fact that it's possible for Square-Enix to do this. Rather than seeing a new version of the world map we all know and love, it may be a fully 3D world with connecting paths, and unique geogerphy to guide us on our way. It wouldn't be the first Final Fantasy to do this, as we've seen X, and even XII do this in an open styled setting.

Enemies and Battle:

Along with the possible changes to the game's world, the enemy and battle systems may be different as well. While Final Fantasy VII, Crisis Core, and basically every other mainline Final Fantasy used random encounters, the newer entries in the series actually have them appear in the field -- so the question is, what will the remake do?

With games like Final Fantasy XII, combat takes place on the field, and there's nothing random about them. You walk into the area, you see the enemies, you kill them, and you leave the area and come back if you want them to respawn. It's a system that works for that game, but it's not something that fits with a standard JRPG like FF7. So, what could they do? Well, random encounters of course, but the real question is if they will appear on the field or not.

In games like Final Fantasy XIII-2, enemies randomly spawn on the field in front of you, and you are given the choice to fight them or not. If you want to get into battle, you simply run into them, and if you don't, you run away. It's a system that works, and it can really help save time. Instead of constantly being pulled into a fight, you get to pick when you want to, and it also gives you a chance to see what you're getting yourself into. This is a feature Crisis Core could have really used, but instead players were pulled into fight after fight with an insanely high encounter rate -- making it a chore just to get to the end of an area. Hopefully Final Fantasy VII does go down this route, but if not, hopefully the encounter rate is kept at a tolerable level. But, putting all of that aside, what about the battles themselves?

While it's safe to assume that the main battle system and game mechanics will be the same, the battlefield itself may be different. Like in many early Final Fantasy games, FF7 was a turn based game where enemies and your party stood on opposite sides of the battlefield, and during their turn they would step forward and do an attack. It looked nice for it's time, but overall it was pretty static and had limiting animations -- that's something that could be fixed in this HD remake.

In Final Fantasy X-2, and XIII, characters would move around the battlefield, they would physically dodge attacks, they would send enemies flying, they would jump into the air to attack, and pull off other crazy feats. Some of the things seen looked like attacks right out of Final Fantasy VII's movie, so it isn't out of the question that we'd see something similar in the remake. Maybe nothing quite as crazy, but it'd be nice if there was more animation and movement in general.

"Mature" Content:

As mentioned before, Final Fantasy VII is a game that really pushed it. Although it was given a T rating, some of the things it did just wouldn't fly in a T rated game today. So, it begs the question, will they censor it? Or will we be getting an M rated Final Fantasy VII?

For anyone who hasn't played FF7, one of the first things which may shock you is the language. The game wasn't scared of saying what it wanted, and because of that nearly every major curse word is used. Sure many of them are perfectly fine for a T rated game (and even E10 in some cases), but for others they used a "trick" to get around getting an M rating -- one such word being the F bomb.

While you may not realize it at first, the F bomb is a common word in FF7, and many characters use it. Sure, they replaced it with symbols, but when you see a character yell something along the lines of "WHAT THE @#$%!?" You know what is being said. It's very common with one character actually, and it adds to his personality/who he is. Sure, he's still himself without using such language, but it's something long time fans have come to expect, and removing it would just feel... Strange. Of course he'll use every other curse out there as well, but it's the F bomb that has to be censored -- which means the remake will either have to cut out such language completely, or up the rating.

Putting cussing aside, the game is also filled with sexual content, and violence. Early on in the game Cloud cross dresses to break into the Don's place (which has been confirmed for the remake), and a series of messed up things proceed to happen. For one, Cloud is thrown into a room with a bunch of men who try to do "something" to him, another girl is chased around the basement, and the third is saved just before the Don does what he wants to her. The scene is followed up with the characters saying they'll do things to the Don's manhood (including crushing, and ripping it off), and it ends with the characters escaping. Overall the scene is one of the funnier moments of the game, but it really does push it. While other T rated games use sexual themes, FF7 features quite a few funny scenes, as well as a few "almost" rape scenes -- which is a very sensitive topic, and not a joking matter in real life. The Don's house is just one of these moments, and some may find it offensive -- even though nothing does happen (spoilers), and it ends in a joke. On top of that there's also implied sex scenes, and even a love hotel close by that may offend some.

As for the violence in FF7, there's a lot of it. Since the game uses small cartoony character models, it wasn't too bad, but with the remake that may change. Crisis Core had some pretty violent (and bloody) scenes, but FF7 has even more -- if they would show them that is. For example, one early scene has the characters finding a key character who had their head cut off (which one reacts to by yelling "WHERE'S IT'S @#$%ING HEAD!?"). There's also the "famous scene" which most JRPG fans know about by now, and the flash back scenes which show the moment Cloud's life changed. Another character's back story shows how they lost their hand, and there's some pretty violent moments throughout other parts of the story as well. So, again, the question is... Will all of this stay in? Will they keep the sexual content for the comedy? Or will they remove it due to the fact it's an attempt at rape. Will they show the violent scenes, or use camera angles to censor what doesn't need to be shown? Again, Crisis Core did show quite a bit, but just how much more can they get away with before going too far? Final Fantasy Type-0 did, and because of it's violence, it became the first M rated Final Fantasy.

The Party:

The final change is something that is most likely to happen for sure -- the inclusion of two party members into the game's story. Originally the characters of Yuffie and Vincent were extra party members that could be unlocked by doing specific things. Yuffie could be unlocked shortly after beating the game's "intro," and Vincent could be found if you opened a specific door in the mansion. Although both of these characters are important to the series (and fan favorites), in reality they aren't as important to this specific game in the series. Both of them could actually be missed, and even if you did get them, they hardly do a thing. Yes, you unlock some extra side stories for them, but throughout the game's main plot they are simply there. They weren't actually meant to be included in the game, and because of that they fully take on the role of being extra characters. Characters that don't exist in cutscenes, and ones that wouldn't impact the story in any way if they were missed. This is something that is sure to change with the remake. Since the original release, both characters have been given a lot more time in the spotlight (Vincent was the main character of his own game, with Yuffie as the side character for example), and both really do play a large role in the overall story. Not including them as a part of the main cast in the remake would be a big mistake on Square's part, and is something that no one would expect Square to do.

Of course, all of this is just speculation. What will really happen with the game is only known to Square, but at least it gives us something to think about... But what about you? How do you feel about this game? Would you like to see it stay as close as possible to the original, or would you like to see more changes? As always, feel free to leave a comment below.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Tales of Zestiria - Coming to PS3, PS4, and PC!

Well it's the second Tales of news story in a week, and once again it's something a little bit shocking. As you may (or may not) know, Tales of Zestiria was the latest Tales of, up until the announcement of Tales of Berseria, and Namco Bandai announced that it would in fact be translated. Well, the game came out in Japan, received some mixed reactions from fans, and then it started to make it's way to the west. Namco Bandai has released some English trailers for the game, but no truly "big" news came of it until today.

Announced on their official twitter, Namco Bandai has confirmed that Tales of Zestiria will not just be coming to the PS3, but it will also receive a PS4 version, and for the very first time ever, a PC version as well. So, if you're a long time fan who made the jump to the PS4, you will be able to play the newest entry, and if you're a PC only gamer, you'll finally get the chance to play a Tales of game for yourself. Of course this entry is quite a bit different from the rest of the series (open world, behind the view camera angle in battle, modified Tales of Graces styled battle system, party limits, etc), but it's still a Tales of game, and one I'm sure many of you fans have been looking forward to.

Tales of Zestiria will hit store shelves on 11/20/2015 in the US, and 11/16/2015 in the EU.