New Square-enix Teaser “CC” Site

Square-enix has launched a new teaser website, tentatively called CC2012. You can see the website here:

http://cc2012.square-enix.co.jp/

As far as I can tell, and this is generally agreed by the tweeted comments, this looks to be an advertisement for a new Crystal Chronicles game. As you watch you’ll see dark, ominous skies and then a few crystals crack and explode. Afterwards you are treated to a few flickers of swords, warriors (appears to be Odin), a ruined city and three characters: an older gentleman, a dark-haired male and a young blonde female. Lastly there is a duel between a young woman and a knight.

Little else is known about this new game in the works except that it’s apparently due out in the Summer, so we’ll see what else we learn about this between now and then.

Review of Dragon Quest 4: Chapters of the Chosen

Time for me to get off my Final Fantasy high and review another game out of a favourite series of mine: Dragon Quest. Dragon Quest was originally known as Dragon Warrior on the American shores because of a copyright issue two decades ago. This game was actually one of the first RPGs to appear on the consoles, heavily borrowing off the famous Dungeons and Dragons tabletop RPG. Though not nearly as prevalent as Final Fantasy here in the Western World, in Japan this game is so popular that there’s a day dedicated to it.

Dragon Quest is pretty formulaic: you have a team of four misfits which travel with you to save the world in some fashion or another. Dragon Quest 4 takes after this dynamic but adds a twist to give the characters some limelight; they have separate chapters for the individual characters so you can level them up and understand their history. And it is a fun cast, from the irrepressible princess Alena to the honourable Ragnar. Eventually all stories come together so you can unite under the Hero(ine).

Chapters of the Chosen is not a game particularly unique in general, though it does have the fun task of being a shopkeeper for a while there. In addition to that there is a secret dungeon with an enjoyable boss battle where you can acquire the game’s most useful tools if you defeat them. Even better is if you figure out the game’s greatest secret you’ll end up with an obscenely overpowered ally and have a slightly modified ending.

The graphics, though dated, are so very very pretty, especially Zenitha. The character portraits are full of personality and seeing the various terrain is pleasing to the eye. But the in-battle graphics are just average, and the special effects don’t make much of an appearance. Obviously graphics isn’t this game’s forte but since it is a DS game, and a Dragon Quest game to boot, if that’s what you’re here for you, you are missing the point of the game.

What is the point of this game? The name of the game: Quests. You go on an endlessly litany of quests either for your characters or random NPCs. Acquiring the mini-medals, playing the game’s one-man form of monopoly and the aforementioned secret dungeon will have you coming back for more..at least until you exhaust all this, which doesn’t take that long, to be honest.

What’s so remarkable about this game (and the Dragon Quest series in general) is its eternal devotion to child-like good and evil values and its bright and cheery atmosphere, no matter how dark the current quest is. Whether this is a flaw or not in the game is more of a personal taste thing, but I find that with so many realistic and depressing games out there, one bright spot is a welcome relief. This is not to say that the over-reliance on everything cute and happy-happy-joy-joy doesn’t get annoying; it does, but sometimes a RPG should just be a good romp through dungeons, which this definitely is.

Dragon Quest has always been known to have a beautiful score and Chapters of the Chosen adds a few twists on its set of delightful tracks. The music in Zenitha and the last boss battle are two notables. Considering how long the last boss battle is, having the music change during the different stages is to great affect. The overworld theme is also enjoyable, giving you that adventurous feeling.

For those of you (like me) who didn’t get a chance to really enjoy this remake, you’ll feel content giving this a go. And like me, you probably won’t pick this up once you finish that secret dungeon and blasting away enemies with your super-powered ally. However if you were planning on something more unique and mind-blowing Dragon Quest 4 isn’t your thing (and, by extension, probably not the Dragon Quest series at all). It satisfied me until the next Final Fantasy came along, which, while not making the game glorious, does do exactly what I wanted.

When Dragon Quest makes a foray into the real world gaming you can bet it’ll be a masterpiece. Not that I mind the simple fun we have today.

Review of FFIV: The DS Remake

In a move that most did not anticipate Square-enix decided to remake Final Fantasy IV. Unlike so many of its other so-called remakes, this game actually incorporated enormous changes to its graphics and sound, enhancing (or perhaps reducing, depending on your point of view) the game’s value. This is an distinct contrast to a lot of other ports (not remakes per say) which kept the game mechanics the same but added huge, optional dugenons. I’ll take this opportunity to say what I think of Square-enix’s venture into true remaking in Final Fantasy.

Review: Final Fantasy IV: The After Years

The After YearsThe Final Fantasy series has been going on for more than twenty years, the flagship gaming series of powerhouse Square-Enix. What started out as a desperation act from a failing company has expanded into an empire with dozens of spin-offs. Final Fantasy has made RPGs mainstream, introducing the genre into millions of homes and spawning many copycats. But no RPG series will be quite the same as Final Fantasy.

One of the best known games from the series is Final Fantasy IV. Released originally back in the eighties this game follows the story of Cecil and his friends in a journey that spans the globe and beyond. It is a journey of self-discovery, betrayal, love and ultimately forgiveness. Since it’s original incarnation the game has been re-released on three platforms, including the PSP. This is the remake I will discuss known as The After Years: The Complete Collection.

The Complete Collection includes the original game, the Interlude and The After Years. The original game is an upgraded verison of the original along with the Advance’s optional dungeons. The Interlude is a short jaunt between the original and the After Years, detailing what happens between the two. The After Years is where the real meat of this is, continuing the story of the main characters, adding some fresh faces and advancing the legacy of the crystals.

You’ll notice that not a lot has changed in the game in the basis of gameplay. The ATB (Active Time Battle) is still there, though they added an interesting dynamic of the “Bonds”. Borrowing off the Techs from Chrono Trigger, Bonds effectively allow two or more characters to combine their various skills to execute new powerful attacks. A more original addition is the moon phases. These phases either increase or decrease healing, attacking, etc. and have a surprisingly significant affect on battles. Not a lot has changed beyond that, though you know what they say about not being broke means not needing fixing?

For those who’d played the original will find this a familiar stroll with their favorite characters. If you couldn’t get enough of them before, this game is a great way of reconnecting, like spending a long weekend with the old friends from college. There is also a set of new characters to identify with, all with their own special quirks and skills and they split out into seperate groups for their own adventures.

Where The After Year takes a stumble is that the story, for the most part, too closely resembles its predecessor. Even for a gamer who was especially invested in the original story, the sense of repition can be tiresome. Fortunately after that the story takes an interesting turn, with a few twists that are not entirely unexpected but still welcome. It won’t stand out, but be intriguing enough to not spoil the game.

Music has always been a huge hit in the series and Final Fantasy IV has been no exception. The iconic Theme of Love is back and better than ever, and the new track, The Mysterious Girl, helps add to the aura of power around the game’s primary villian called…The Mysterious Girl. None of the other tracks really stand out, but with how gorgeous a track the original game had, and how it is integrated into the new story, keeps it fresh and enjoyable.

The After Years really shines in how the game is divided into chapters, giving each set of characters a decent time in the lime light. These are seamlessly woven together in order to mesh with the main storyline, which, of course, is intricately linked with the legend of the crystals. Just when the game might become a bit linear a chapter ends, leaving the gamer with the decision of selecting among several others. In what order they are done is irrelevant as all but three are accessible from the start.

In the end whether The After Years (and the Complete Collection, by extension) is a worthwhile venture really depends on the gamer’s tastes. If they are looking for something entirely new and revolutionary, The After Years really isn’t their style. There simply isn’t enough radical changes to make the game a good investment of time and they would likely find more to attract them to the DS remake.

But for a gamer who simply hadn’t the chance to delve into Final Fantasy IV’s universe or has already and is looking to please that nostaglic feeling, then The After Years is exactly the romp through old game mechanics and expansion in storyline they’ve been looking for.

Now if only Square-Enix could do this for other games in their series (namely Final Fantasy VI) I only imgaine how much cash they’d be rolling in. But knowing this company said game is already in the works as of the typing of this article.